The Connecticut Yankee. Fit For Mischief.

A Note to My Readers:  Our ancestors are more than names, dates places…and shared DNA.   Some we take a shine to and thus we begin to explore the history in which they played a role.   Genealogy is history,  after all.  One of my favorite ancestors is Samuel Weyburn (1746-1825), my maternal 4x great grandfather.  I have a substantial bit of data on Samuel and some special antiquarian publications in my personal library. Somewhere in the flurry of researching…reading and note taking,  I forgot about “A History of Wilkes-Barre, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, Volume 1”.  It is chock full of some of most interesting details of the colonization of Pennsylvania AND the conflict of the settlers from Connecticut who came to the Wyoming Valley under the Susquehanna Purchase.

Fit For Mischief

The clash between the “Connecticut Yankees” and the William Penn colonists was the result of two conflicting charters issued by King Charles II and complicated by the fact that in 1754 the English had secretly purchased the land from the Mohawks (the easternmost Iroquois Nation) not from the main inhabitants -the Delawares. [1]

In 1762 the Connecticut Yankees began to arrive and settle in the Wyoming Valley under the Susquehanna Purchase and establishing their first permanent settlement by 1769. By this time, Pennamites (settlers loyal to Pennsylvania colony) also claimed ownership to the area thanks to a purchase they made with the Iroquois. The two groups of settlers, as well as the various Indian groups, repeatedly clashed over rights to these lands—with sometimes deadly consequences. This period of time was called “The Pennamite-Yankee Wars”.

Among those “Yankee” settlers was Samuel Weyburn.

On the morning of Friday, May 12, 1769 twenty-four-year-old Samuel joined 24 of his fellow Yankees who, in a show of force and determination, rode up the Susquehanna to establish a fort under Major John Durkee. The group would pick up additional men along the way and eventually arriving in Wyoming Valley, numbered 146 individuals. Word went out to the Pennsylvania colonists and their authorities that this advance group would soon be a full complement of 500 men. It caused one of the Pennamite officials, Charles Stewart, to write in alarm to Governor William Penn describing the men and pleading for armed assistance.

“This afternoon about three o’ clock 146 New England men and others, chiefly on horseback, passed by our houses and are now encamped on the east side of the river.”

“From the view I had of those gentry, in their procession by our houses, they appear to be – at least an equal number of them – of the very lowest class, but are almost all armed and fit for mischief.”

In this letter, Stewart recognized a number of the men and listed them by name. Samuel Weyburn was among those ‘gentry’ listed.

As I am building the timeline of my ancestor in these turbulent pre-Revolutionary War days in Pennsylvania including his miraculous survival of the massacre on July 3, 1778 at Fort Wyoming as a member of the Continental Army Pennsylvania Rangers, I am compelled to consider what kind of individual could manage the continuing threat to his very existence.  Perhaps Mr. Stewart’s description of ‘fit for mischief’ would prove to be more accurate than he would ever know.

Migration Trail of Samuel WeyburnSullivan’s Campaign

As conditions continued to be dangerous and uncertain and after his survival at Fort Wyoming, Samuel’s response in 1779 was to join forces with his neighbors and enlist in Washington’s Continental Army leaving his wife, Jane Bratton and their four children to manage the homestead in Derry, Cumberland county, PA.    Serving under Colonels Dearborn and Zebulon Butler, the Pennsylvania Rangers became part of Sullivan’s Campaign, the cruel response ordered by Washington to force the indigenous peoples from their homes and to punish them for their support of their English allies.

Sullivan’s Army followed the old Indian trails up the Susquehanna, through the Chemung Basin near Owego and on to the heart of the Finger Lakes.   There was little to no resistance and in many instances, the native Americans had fled in anticipation of the superior numbers of Sullivan’s Army.  Furthering my research on this experience, I have read several military journals and came across historian General John S. Clark (1823-1912) and his prolific knowledge regarding the Sullivan Campaign.   In one of his writings, “Aboriginal Footprints”, Clark describes Dearborn’s exploration of the west side of Cayuga Lake and Samuel Weyburn and his settlement at “Taghanic” and his interviews with the Carmans – direct descendants of Samuel’s through his daughter, Jane.

I have taken some pains to learn what traditions exist in that locality in regard to this matter and my interviews with many of the old residents have only resulted in strengthening the conclusions arrived at from the statements contained in Dearborn’s journal.  Samuel Weyburn was one of the first settlers at this point and his descendants state in the most positive terms that he never knew of an Indian town there.

When Samuel returned from his participation in Sullivan’s Campaign, he continued to serve in the Continental Army under Captain Robert Samuels.   At the conclusion of the Revolutionary War, there was still the issue of just who owned the land in the Susquehanna area.  Once again tensions flared and the Yankee-Pennamite War resumed.   Eventually the newly formed nation found common ground and the Connecticut Yankees were granted ownership of their land.  By that time, Samuel had already returned to Taughannock with the intention of settling in New York State.

This was the route followed from Taughannock Point southward by Co. Dearborn with 200 men, on their raid along the west side of the Cayuga Lake in September, 1779.  At the intersection of two county roads just south of Willow Creek crossing, along the Indian Trail, is a little-known boulder monument commemorating this brave expedition.

Over this trail, in the year 1790, came Samuel Weyburn, who traveled from Tioga Point (now Athens, PA) with his wife and four children. He built the first log cabin at Taughannock Point.[2]

Samuel and his wife Jane Bratton traversed the same Indian Trail to Taughannock with not four, but seven children: Samuel, Jane, Rachel, Sally, George, William and Elizabeth.  Elizabeth Weyburn (1785-1865) is my maternal 3x great grandmother.  Three more children were born to the Weyburns in their new home along the western shores of Cayuga Lake: Oliver, Clarissa and Isabella.

Samuel Jane and Oliver Weyburn monuments Interlaken NYSamuel and his wife Jane are buried in the “Old Farm” section of Lake View Cemetery at Sheldrake’s Point along with son Oliver and daughter Clarissa – eleven miles north of Taughannock Falls.

 

 

Deborah Jane Martin-Plugh

Genealogical Researcher, Historian, Contributing Writer and Author

© Copyright 2018

[1] Iroquois Land Deed, 1754, DAR.1925.13, Darlington Collection, Archives & Special Collections, University of Pittsburgh Library System

[2] Old Indian Trails in Tompkins County. W. Glenn Norris.  DeWitt Historical Society of Tompkins County.  Ithaca, NY.  1944.  Chapter IV. P. 22.

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3 thoughts on “The Connecticut Yankee. Fit For Mischief.

  1. Hello Deb,

    I just found the website for Lt. John L. Hardenbergh’s Journal which he kept during the Sullivan Campaign while searching for my Col. Louis DuBois’s and Capt. Henry DuBois’s information nuggets. I find this site incredible for it is a copy of the first of The Cayuga County Historical Society’s book they published. While I find it so wonderful to read what was read at one of their meetings, the best part is that it is loaded with footnotes, pieces other soldier’s journals and so much of Sullivan’s Campaign all in one book. I have much more to read.

    I am one of the Auburn NY readers of your Notable Characters. I just love the value you put on even the smallest detail.

    You may already have read this volume, but on the chance you haven’t, I am sending it along.

    https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=wu.89077178242;view=1up;seq “Journal of J. L. Hardenbergh from one of the volumes of The Cayuga County Historical Society”.

    Best regards,

    Deborah Heintz

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