Beale Township, Juniata Co PA - Part II
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Beale Township
Part II

History of that part of the Susquehanna and Juniata valleys, embraced in the counties of Mifflin, Juniata, Perry, Union and Snyder, in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania...
Edited by F. Ellis and A. N. Hungerford.
Published in Philadelphia by Everts, Peck & Richards, 1886
Pages 787-791

By A. L. Guss

THE INNIS FAMILY AND THEIR CAPTIVITY. Francis Innis settled with his family at an early period, where his great-grandson, Robert Innis, now resides, on the main road from Doyle's Mills to McCoysville. The maiden-name of his wife was Milliken. At the time of the taking of Bigham's Fort, June 11, 1756, Innis, his wife and three children were carried away by the French and Indians. It is a question whether they were taken at the fort or on their farm. The tradition in the family has always been that they were taken in the fort; that only Innis and another man were at the fort, the others having gone out to look after their farms; and this corresponds to what Rev. Beatty says in his journal printed elsewhere. (See also article on the fort under the head of Tuscarora township). The children taken were Jane, afterwards married to James Thompson, Nathaniel and Mary. They were taken to Kittanning, where Mrs. Innis had a splint run into her breast during the running of the gauntlet, to which she was subjected. They were divided among the Indians according to their customs and taken northward, towards Niagara. The infant child, Mary, was put under the ice because it was sickly. Mr. Innis was a Scotch-Irishman, raised to strict ideas of Sabbath observance. He refused to work for the Indians on Sunday, and for the offense was threatened with death at the stake. Just at this juncture a party of French traders came among the Indians, and gave them some goods for their captive. Mrs. Innis was with some Indians and in charge of some old and decrepit persons. This was probably near the St. Lawrence. Being in want of provisions, they saw a vessel coming, and they sent her in a battoe to beg bread for them, because the French would much more likely give to a white person than to an Indian. As luck would have it, she here found her husband on board, and he besought the French to buy his wife, which they did, and they thus both got to Montreal, where they remained near a year. Their son James was born there. Here he worked and repaid the French for the price at which he and his wife had been purchased. They were then allowed to return home. It has been published that they did not return until after the peace in 1764, being held in captivity eight years. This is a great mistake. According to the Colonial Records (vol. viii. 147) Robert Taylor and Francis Innis and sister, were examined before the Council, July 14, 1758, as to the conduct of one Lawrence Burk, who had married among the Indians and remained with them during the whole war. They were, therefore, back to Philadelphia at that date already, probably on their way home. The sister is perhaps a mistake for his wife,--it is certain that the woman, whether wife or sister, had also been in captivity. Taylor was abducted at the same time with Innis. It is a tradition in the family, and doubtless true, that on their return they found their land occupied by some squatter, who refused to remove, and that Mrs. Innis walked to Philadelphia, to the Land Office, to have him removed. The records show that 233 acres were warranted to Francis Innis, June 3, 1762, and this property has been held in the family ever since. Their two older children, however, did not return with them. It will be seen in Pennsylvania Archives, (vol. iv. 106), that early in 1763 they sent the Governor, James Hamilton, this petition:

"That in June, 1756, your petitioner, his wife and three children were taken and carried away from Tuscarora by Beaver King and his company; that your petitioners' youngest child was put to death in December following. Your petitioners were bartered away for French goods, etc., and your petitioners' son and daughter are still prisoners left behind. They, therefore, humbly beg leave to remind your Honor, and pray your wanted care in enquiring for your petitioners children, and your distressed petitioners, as in duty bound, shall ever pray.

In the fall of 1764, at the end of his expedition into Ohio, Colonel Bouquet returned with a large number of captives which had been surrendered to him, and among these the Innises recovered their two children, who had been held in captivity for eight years. A man in Philadelphia had taken the boy to raise, and refused to surrender him until his parents proved his identity by a private mark. This mark was on his back, where two boils had been lanced, The father told the man who held him that unless these marks were found upon him he would not claim the boy. The girl, when told to go into a room among a number of gentleman, at once recognized her father. She had not lost sight of her brother, having seen him occasionally during their captivity. There must have been great rejoicing when these children were restored to their home. Their son Nathaniel moved to Kentucky, and died there. Francis, Jr., born after their return from captivity, married a Gray, and moved to Cincinnati, and bought a farm before there was any town there, and which is now all built over, and constitutes part of the city. He took a boat-load of produce to New Orleans, which he there traded for sugar, which he shipped to Baltimore, where he died soon after landing. He left a tract of land in Black Log Valley, which the family have lately recovered after a remarkable search among family records and land titles. His only child died young in St. Louis. The living Innis families are descendants of James. It is stated on his monument: "His parents being taken captive in the year 1756 by the French and Indians at Bigham's Fort, Juniata County, he was born in Montreal." He served two tours in the Revolutionary War. By the first wife, Ann Arbuckle, his children were Francis, William, Samuel, James, John, Elizabeth, Nathaniel, Alexander, Joseph, Ann. By the second wife, Isabella Oliver, he had Sarah, Mary, Isabella, Robert, Jane, Ebenezer, Nancy, the last still living. The older sons went to Brown County, Ohio, the rest by the first wife to Rush County, Ind. Robert's children were Sarah Ann, Elizabeth and Mary respectively married to John Milliken, McConnell Beale and John Adams. Ebenezer's children were Jennie, Belle and Robert, respectively married to Matthew Rogers, Alfred Patterson and Victoria Junk.

LOWER TUSCARORA PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH. --In 1766 Rev. Charles Beatty traveled through the Tuscarora Valley and preached, August 20th, at a house three miles after crossing the Tuscarora Monntain by the Traders' Path; after service he traveled three miles farther and lodged at William Graham's, now near David Esh's in Spruce Hill. The next day he went two and a half miles, where his companion, Rev. George Duffield, preached at "a place where the people had begun to build a house for worship before the late war, but by accident it had been burned." This was at Academia and at the site of the present Lower Tuscarora Church. By some means the above statement has been made to read in several written and printed sermons, that Rev. Duffield preached "at a place where a house of worship had been commenced, but was discontinued on account of the war." Our quotation is from the original. The church burned by accident was, therefore, the first one. The second one was built soon after Mr. Beatty's visit. It was built of round logs, covered with clapboards, was without a floor, and had a large fire-place in the end. It stood on the road to the present church--the road running over its very foundation. The grounds where the church is situated were granted by order of survey No. 134, to "John Lyon, William Graham, Robert Houston and Joseph McCoy, in trust for the Presbyterian Society or Congregation in Milford township, Tuscarora valley, under the care of the Synod of New York and Philadelphia," twenty acres adjoining William and John Beale on one side and a ridge on the other. It was surveyed May 27, 1813, for the congregation, "say 25 acres, John Patterson, Esq., to pay the fees." In 1823 it is called the "Milford township Glebe," twenty-four acres. The old round-log church gave place, about 1790, to one of hewn logs, which stood between the present church and the public road. It had no ceiling, no plastering and small windows. The floor and pews were made of sawed boards. The pulpit was high, and stood at the west end. There was a door at each side near the pulpit end, and an aisle ran across from door to door, from which two long, narrow aisles ran back to the rear end of the building, three blocks of pews, beside one at each side of the pulpit in the corners, making thirty-six pews. A diagram of the "sitters" in 1803 has been preserved. There were ninety-three families, and their stipends foot up 122 11s. This house was built under Rev. Hugh Magill. In 1816 the fourth edifice was erected under Rev. John Coulter. It was built of stone, and at the time regarded as altogether too grand and costly an undertaking; but time showed the pastor's progressive ideas and shrewd forecast of the wants of the people, for it gave the congregation a prominence and prestige among all the churches of the region. Stewart Laird was the contractor, and did his work well, for it still stands on the point or forks of the road, now remodeled and turned into a two-story school building, and so used since the burning of Tuscarora Academy. Being seen of all, it needs no description. The present church edifice is of brick, and was built under the pastorate of Rev. Dr. G. W. Thompson, in 1849, and cost sixty-five hundred dollars.

From the time that this infant organization was visited by Revs. Beatty and Duffield supplies were occasionally sent from the churches east of the mountains in the older and more thickly populated regions. In 1771 an effort was made to get Rev. Mr. Rhea, but it was not successful. The congregations in Tuscarora and at Cedar Springs renewed their "supplications" for supplies and for a regular pastor. A Rev. Samuel Kennedy, whom the Presbytery refused for some reason to recognize as a minister, came and preached, and soon won adherents, which bred division and a great deal of trouble in both congregations. Presbytery attempted to restore order; sent its moderator to read a paper; it was snatched from his hand, and, to avoid a riot, he deserted the field. At length, in 1776, came Rev. Hugh Magill, first as a supply for ten months and afterwards, getting a call, he was installed as the first pastor of Lower Tuscarora and Cedar Springs Churches on the fourth Wednesday in November, 1779. After seventeen years (1796) he resigned the Lower Tuscarora Church and continued at Cedar Spring until his death, September 4, 1805. For six years the church was dependent on supplies. Rev. John Coulter preached his first sermon January 1, 1800, and was installed August 11, 1801. He continued to preach until his death, June 22, 1834, that day being the first time in thirty-three years that he failed to meet his appointment. He was the son of James Coulter, who lived in Lack from 1791 to 1823, by the tax-lists. Before his marriage he lived near Johnstown; after that, at the Randolph farm, above McCoysville. His son James prepared for the ministry, but died, never having preached but one sermon, Revs. Coulter and Hutcheson were married to sisters named Waugh. His sons, David and John, moved West. Isabella married George Noss; Eliza, Joseph S. Laird; Jane, Dr. Galbreath. Rev. Coulter was an able and faithful pastor. Prior to his advent the Presbyterians in the upper end of the valley worshipped at an old log church at McWilliams' Grave-yard, in Lack township, and were served by a preacher from Path Vallev. About the time of Mr. Coulter's coming they organized Middle Tuscarora at McCulloch's Mills, and Upper Tuscarora took its place at Waterloo. Coulter served the two former, while Rev. Alexander McIlwaine was installed pastor of Upper Tuscarora and Little Aughwick at Shade Gap, November 5, 1799. He died March 6, 1807. In November 1834, Rev. McKnight Williamson began to preach at Lower Tuscarora, and was installed, the next year, pastor of this church alone, and continued until April 14, 1845. He is now near eighty-five years of age. In 1842 there was a great revival in Tuscarora, under Rev. William Ramsey, a new- school Presbyterian minister, who had come to visit his sister, Mrs. Judge Beale. From the school-house it went to the Camp-Ground and then to the church. The valley had never witnessed such an awakening before. Rev. Williamson assisted the movement, and many were added to his church. The next pastor was Rev. Benjamin H. Campbell, in 1846, who continued only a few months. In the spring of 1847, Rev. G. W. Thompson took charge of Lower Tuscarora Church and served it for seventeen years, until his death, January 28, 1864, in the forty-fifth year of his age. Since then the pastors have been as follows: Rev. Samuel Milliken, 1864 to 1870; Rev. L. B. W. Shryock, 1870 to 1873; supply for one year, Rev. J. H. Steward and Rev. Thomas Robison; Rev. J. H. Oliver, 1875 to 1884; Rev. C. S. Dewing, 1884, present pastor.

PUBLIC SCHOOLS.--There are six public schools in Beale township, and the buildings are all frame,--Pomeroy's, John McLaughlin, Thomas McCoy, John Casner and Miss Reynolds taught here at an early date. Academia, George Meloy and James Steele taught here before 1812. Rock, Johnstown, McAllister's and Pine Grove. Kepner's school-house, near John Jenkins', on the township line, was not used after Beale township was organized. James Butler, in 1817, taught in the old house near Pomeroy's school-house. The number of children in Beale attending schools in 1884 was two hundred and sixty-seven.

James Butler was an Englishman. He wrote the book called "American Bravery Displayed." He compiled a school reader of choice extracts, mostly patriotic, which is still in manuscript in the hands of his grandson at McCoysville. The following is from the pen of Andrew Banks;

"The only author, either of prose or poetry, which this county has at any time produced was James Butler, Esq., who used to indulge himself in framing a kind of doggerel, mostly satirical, notwithstanding which, they possessed some degree of merit. Some of his pieces were published, one in particular, on the subject of St. Clair's Defeat, which, of course, was tragical. It possessed considerable merit and was published, but not now in circulation, as far as known. He also wrote and published a novel entitled 'Fortune's Football,' which possessed some merit. For many years he kept a record of all the births and deaths which fell under his notice until his death (at Mifflintown), about two years ago (1842), at the age of eighty-seven years."

TUSCARORA ACADEMY.--Rev. John Coulter, about 1800, opened a classical school in the house of Hugh Alexander. This was the first school of the kind in the county, and was continued until 1805. About the year 1805 Rev. John Hutcheson started a similar school in Mifflintown, which was continued until about the time of the opening of Tuscarora Academy.

Rev. McKnight Williamson opened a school in 1835, in a house on the farm now owned by Henderson Gilson. He taught the classics and other higher branches. In 1837 he taught a class of about fifteen students in a house belonging to Andrew Patterson. Merchant John Patterson gave two thousand dollars and several acres of land for the use of the school. Many other residents of the valley also gave liberally. The Legislature, in 1837, incorporated "Tuscarora Academy," which was the first institution of the kind established in the county. The school was opened in 1839 with Professor David Wilson as principal, and continued until 1852, with the exception of about two and a half years, during which time he was at the head of the Lewistown Academy. The academy for many years had an uninterrupted tide of success. From 1852 it passed successively under the control of Rev. Dr. G. W. Thompson, Rev. G. W. Garthwaite, Dr. Isaac Blauvelt, Dr. J. H. Shoemaker, Dr. David D. Stone, W. A. McDowell, Dr. D. D. Stone, Captain J. J. Patterson, and Dr. D. D. Stone, under whom, in October, 1873, the building used as the boarding aud dormitory departments was burned. The trustees purchased the building now used as the boarding department, and the school has been continued ever since by Dr. Stone, Dr. Cleveland, Captain J. J. Patterson, Harkins Brothers and Rev. Vaughan, present incumbent. It has at present over thirty students.

Beale townsbip has sent out some of her own sons to enlighten others. Calvin McDonald now edits the San Diego Herald in California. Rev. N. A. Okeson is an Episcopal clergyman at Norfolk, Va.

INDIAN MOUND AND FORT.--At Bryner's bridge, two miles above Academia, there are the remains of an ancient Indian mound of human bones, and nearby there was once an Indian fort. The mound is on the creek bottom, about one hundred yards from the north end of the bridge, on the upper side of the road, and now consists only of an unplowed spot, thirty feet long and twenty wide, grown up with wild plum bushes. Originally it was a huge sepulchre. Octogenarians living near informed the writer that they conversed with the original settlers concerning it, and were told that when they first saw it, it was as high as a hunter's cabin (fifteen feet), and that its base covered an eighth of an acre. Other old folks describe it as having been twelve feet high and one hundred in diameter, with an oval base. Ninety years ago there stood upon it a large elm- tree. Some eighty years ago this property was owned by George Casner, who, with his sons, Frederick, Jacob and John, hauled out the greater portion of the mound and scattered it over the fields. An old lady says she saw the bottom all white with bleaching bones after it had rained. Even after this spoliation the mound was six feet high; but afterwards it was plowed over for a number of years until it became nearly level. Students from the academy frequented it for teeth and other relics. Quite a number of stone axes and flint arrow-heads, pipes and other relics were exhumed, all of which have been lost sight of and carried away. It is believed by intelligent old citizens that this mound was the result of some terrible battle between two hostile tribes, who thus summarily disposed of their dead.

THE OLD FORT FIELD.--At the lower end of the bottom, Doyle's Mill Run enters the creek. Its bank on the side next the mound, for some distance, has a perpendicular cliff about twenty-five feet high. Between this cliff and the high bank bordering the bottom, at the edge of the swamp, there is an elevated flat of perhaps twenty acres, of triangular shape, extending on the west to a high ridge, the end of which is opposite the mound. This elevated point between the run and swamp is called the Old Fort Field. The point of the Fort Field is down the creek, and about three hundred or four hundred yards below the mound. No one knows how long the name Old Fort Field has been in use. There are three things about this field that deserve notice, and, as in the case of the mound, it is a pity that they were not described by a competent scholar before they were obliterated.

"1. There was an earth-work thrown up, from the cliff on the run to the creek bottom bank, enclosing about three acres of the elevated point, which, by nature and art, was thus rendered perfectly inaccessible. Persons yet living saw this earthen bank when it was three feet high. It was semicircular in form, with the concave side next the point of the elevated land. It was composed entirely of ground, and had clever saplings growing upon it. By frequent plowing and cultivation it has now become almost entirely obliterated.

"2. Within this enclosure Mr. Milliken, some years ago, plowed up an old fire- hearth or altar, composed of flat, smooth creek stones, on which rested a quantity of charcoal and ashes, articles which are almost indestructible. Such altars among the Ohio mound-builders are not regarded as mere fire-places, but probably connected with the council-house or sacrificial devotions.

"3. One of the most interesting remains of this fort or ancient fortified village, is a series of 'steps'' cut in the rock, near the point of the enclosure, leading down to Doyle's Run. These steps were very distinct to the first settlers, and are, in fact, yet well defined. Neighboring children used to go to 'play at the Indian stone steps.' These steps could not have been formed by any process of nature, such as the crumblings of alternate seams in the strata, for the rock is tilted on its edge and admits of no lateral cleavage.

"We have here the earth-work, the hearth and the carved steps, and their proximity to the mound certainly link their history together. Was this a military fort, and are the bones the result of the battle fought there, or was it simply a fortified village and the bones the natural accumulation of successive burials? We venture an opinion of their origin and history.

Tbe tract including the Fort Field was taken up by Ralph Sterrett, and he no doubt for a time lived here. As mentioned under the head of Bigham's Fort, it is probable he had a kind of fort at this place. The question arises whether his block-house may not have given origin to the traditionarv 'Old Fort Field.' Some have so supposed. We very decidedly think not. Sterrett's residence must have been further up the run, at the spring and near the Chamber-Milliken mansion. He had nothing to do with the enclosure formed by the earth-work, and there was no spring in it. He neither could have made it nor utilized it. It is very likely, however, that he had his fort near by the Fort Field, and being a trader and conversant with the country, even before it was purchased, it is very likely that he selected this tract because of the old Indian-cleared corn-fields that were with little labor ready to be again planted. His house, with its loop-holes for defense, could not have given the name to the field."

A MASTODON.--In 1847 Drs. J. P. Sterrett and J. L. Kelly discovered in the ancient surface alluvium of the Post-Tertiary period, along the bank of Tuscarora Creek, near Academia, a tusk and a number of teeth of a mastodon giganteus, a fossil member of the elephant family. The animal, when alive, must have been twelve feet high and twenty-five feet long, allowing seven feet for the tusks. The remains were found six feet below the surface. The tusk was nine feet long, about two feet of which must have been in the socket. It was eight inches in diameter at the socket end, and gradually tapered to a point. One of the teeth had yet a portion of the jaw remaining. Though many have been found in miry grounds elsewhere, this is the only "find" that we know of in this interior mountain region of our State.

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