Pennsylvania Indian Forts

To the Honorable the Commission appointed by his Excellency, Gov. Robert E. Pattison, under Act of Assembly, approved the 28d day of May, A. D. 1893, to examine and report to the next session of the Legislature upon the advisability of marking by suitable tablets the various forts erected against the Indians by the early settlers of this Commonwealth prior to the year 1783.

This committee, having qualified, met in Harrisburg in November, 1893; after organizing, divided the State into five districts, one to each member to examine and report upon to the body at some time agreed upon. This being the time set, I respectfully submit for your inspection and approval the result of my investigations.

Commencing my labors soon after returning home from Harrisburg, I found my territory, which comprised old Northumberland County, with her ample limits contained fifteen or sixteen of these forts, many of whose sites were unknown to the great mass of our citizens. Three to five generations had passed away since the stirring scenes that made these forts necessary had been enacted; in some cases the descendants of the early settlers had removed or the families died out of the knowledge of the present generation. One would wonder at this was he not acquainted with the settling up of the great West, where, for seventy or more years poured a steady stream of emigrants, who, I am happy to say, have done no discredit to the State rearing them.

Those paying attention to archeology invariably assisted me to the extent of their ability whenever called upon. I am deeply indebted to Col. John G. Freeze, author of History of Columbia County; Hon. John Blair Linn, author of Annals of Buffalo Valley; J. M. M. Gernerd, of Muncy, and publisher author of Now and Then, for much valuable aid. To that veteran historian, John F. Meginness, of Williamsport, I am deeply indebted for assistance in locating a part of the forts, as well as the information derived from his publications, especially his “Otzinachson,” or History of the West Branch Valley; to J. H, MacMinn and Capt. David Bly, of Williamsport, and Capt. R. Stewart Barker, of Lock Haven, for valuable aid; to Wm. Field Shay, Esq., and J. L Higbee, of Watsontown, for information and aid in locating sites of some of the forts; to David Montgomery, at Fort Rice at Montgomery’s for aid: to O B. Melick, Esq. of Bloomsburg, for aid in locating; to M. L. Hendricks, of Sunbury, for gentlemanly aid to the Commission when there; to Dr. R. H. Awl, of the same place, for information to the Commission. We found him a veritable storehouse of knowledge in all pertaining to Fort Augusta, to Sunbury and its surroundings.

I find it impossible to set out the claims of many of these forts to recognition without including the biography in part of some of the most active participants in the stirring events of their date, and consequently, our report will assume greater dimensions than originally expected.

The forts coming within my review according to the decision of the commission, were as follows:

  • Fort Augusta
    At Sunbury, Northumberland County, Pa., on East bank of Main River Susquehanna, and near the junction of its North and West Branches, covering branches and main river.
  • Fort Jenkins
    Located on the north bank of the North Branch of the Susquehanna, in Centre Township, Columbia County, about midway between the present towns of Berwick and Bloomsburg.
  • Fort Wheeler
    Located on banks of Fishing Creek, about three miles above present town of Bloomsburg, on B. & S. R. R., in Scott Township, Columbia County, at Shew’s paper mill.
  • Fort McClure
    Located on bank of river within the present limits of town of Bloomsburg, Columbia County, Pennsylvania.
  • Fort Bosley, or Bosley’s Mills
    Located at Washingtonville, Derry Township, Montour County, in the forks of the Chilisquaqua Creek.
  • Fort Rice, At Montgomery’s, known in turns by each of these names. Located in Lewis Township, Northumberland County, four miles west of Bosley’s mills, and two or three miles from site of Fort Freeland.
  • Fort Freeland. Located on the north side of Warrior Run, about four miles east of Watsontown, Northumberland County, and on the line of the W. & W. R. R.
  • Fort Boone, or Boone’s Mills
    Located on Muddy Run, near its mouth, between the towns of Milton and Watsontown, and about two miles below the latter, near the West Branch of the Susquehanna, in Northumberland County, Pennsylvania.
  • Fort Swartz
    Located on the east bank of the West Branch of the Susquehanna river, in Northumberland County, Pennsylvania, about one mile above present town of Milton.
  • Fort Menninger
    Located at White Deer Mills, on the west bank of the West Branch of the Susquehanna and on the north bank of White Deer creek, near the town of White Deer, in Union County.
  • Fort Brady
    Located adjoining the town of Muncy, Lycoming County, south of the built-up portions of the town.
  • Fort Muncy
    Located on railroad about a half mile above Hall’s Station, in Lycoming County, and a few hundred yards directly in front of the famous Hall’s Stone House of 1769.
  • Fort Antes
    Located on the edge of a plateau overlooking Nippenose Creek, at its mouth and commanding the West Branch of the Susquehanna River, on the south side, opposite the town of Jersey Shore, situated in Lycoming County, near line of P & E. R. R.
  • Fort Horn
    Located on the P. & E. railroad, about midway between Pine and McElhattan Stations, in Clinton County, Pennsylvania.
  • Fort Reid
    Located in the town of Lock Haven, Clinton County, Pennsylvania, on Water Street, in close proximity and east of the Bald Eagle canal. Fortified, spring of 1777.

Respectfully submitted,

John M. Buckalew



Buckalew, John M., Captain The Frontier Forts Within The North and West Branches of the Susquehanna River Pennsylvania. Read Before The Wyoming Historical And Geological, Society, October 1, 1895. Reprinted From The State Report, 1896. Wilkes-Barre, PA.: E. B. Yoruy, Printer. 1896

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