Saturday, July 2, 2011

Lt. Col. Pomeroy, more info on a revolutionary patriot!

When we first saw the Lt. Colonel's gravestone we smiled and chuckled at the 'Indian killer' reference.  But having lived here in one of the first thriving states in the colonies and being hungry for that time period's history we know a little bit about this areas 'indian' attacks.

To give you a quick overview... first of all most of the people that came to the Quaker State (PA) came for the religious freedom and the ability to make it on their own and possibly own land. As Philadelphia grew and more people moved west the exposure to the native American nomads grew.
Understanding that this is a broad overview here it is: Most natives viewed this great, vast land as a gift of abundance to be utilized and taken care of for all people. They fought with other native tribes to retain the ability to utilize this mother earth. So there was violence among the natives long before the white man came.
During the French and Indian War and following through the Revolutionary War, many of the Indian raids that killed settlers were brought about by the instigation and collaboration of the French or British commanders.
The attack on the Westmoreland Co. seat of Hannah's town July 13, 1782 was just that. Working with the British, about 60 Canadian Rangers and  100 Seneca Indians fighting; under Guyasuta, attacked the small fort during the Revolutionary War. A young girl died trying to protect a child. (to see more about the death of Margaret, Peggy, Shaw and the Hannah's town raid see "Hannah's Town" a book  by local historians Helen Smith and George Swetnam, written in 1973 during Hannastown excavation. "ISBN 0-913228-06-0".) This was part of a multi-day raid on this area. Most attacks occurred during the summer because of the harsh winters and tracks in the snow led to the culprits. See, also,

At that time settlers carried rifles to work their fields and always feared attack from the stealth natives. The Revolutionary War was fought on all fronts including in the backyards of the settlers, who were defending their family(s). Every few miles a family would be the voluntary "block parents" or block house, a safe haven during raids. My ancestors being inhabitants of this area had one such block house not far from where I've lived most of my life.

Pomeroy was one of the magistrates of Westmoreland Co. and  established the county seat at "Newtown", now Greensburg, PA.

His older brother, Thomas Pomeroy is said to have been the first white child born in Lancaster Co, a county between Philly and the Westmoreland co. area . Thomas left early July 21, 1763, to hunt for food for his wife and two children only to return to find a band of Indians had killed and scalped his wife and children. A women named Mrs. Johnson survived the attack. She "had an broken arm, her skull fractured and the scalp torn off her head." From History of the Cumberland County, Counties of Franklin and Cumberland Co.

So one can understand why after surviving the French and Indian War and having been commander of Fort Ligonier in 1777 ( taken from the French in the war)   he could have become "popularly known as the Indian killer". As commander he may have been labeled for actions at that time.

Fort Ligonier on Forbe's Trail, was the only major fort  on the way to Fort Pitt. (Fort Pitt was, also, originally French and known as Fort Duquesne.) Pitt gave  access to the very important Ohio river and thus access north to Canada and south to the mouth of the Mississippi.) Lewis and Clark had a their keel-boat built here before their trip west and of course George Washington was frequently in the area.
 Ligonier was just west of the difficult to navigate Allegheny Mountains at the gateway to the rolling hills of southwestern PA and in the area of many killings of settlers. To go west settlers had to pass through this  glacial gorge so it was the hub of much activity.

People didn't have the communications we have today so many of the natives and settlers only understood that the others had to be 'stopped'. This was self preservation on all sides.

All this history found from researching the inscription on an interesting grave marker.

Other sources: Old Westmoreland, the History of Western Pennsylvania during the Revolution. by Edgar W. Hassler. Fort Ligonier Museum site.

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