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QUAKER PIONEERS IN McKEAN COUNTY, PENNSYLVANIA By Dorothy G. Wayman* HP HE beginning, says local tradition, was the visit of Corn- -"- planter, half-white Seneca Indian sachem,1 to President George Washington at Philadelphia on December 29, 1790. In July, 1795, by Act of the Pennsylvania legislature, the Planters Field, a 660-acre tract on the Allegheny River, with two islands, was surveyed as a gift to Cornplanter and his heirs for his good offices to the white settlers. Cornplanter was one of the signers of the Big Tree Treaty (September 15, 1797), by which the Sénecas surrendered title to Western New York in return for certain "Reservation" titles.2 One was on the right bank of the Allegheny, almost opposite to Cornplanter's domain. Tradition says that Cornplanter, alarmed by white men's encroachments on the morale of his people, personally asked Washington if Quakers could not be encouraged to settle near them.3 The Allegheny Reservation, 42 square miles, was laid out in September, 1798, by Richard Stoddard,4 from what, after March 11, 1808, would be officially Cattaraugus County, New York. The * An alumna of Bryn Mawr College, Dorothy G. Wayman, Litt.D. (Holy Cross College), is the author of many books. She is now Reference Librarian of St. Bonaventure University. 1 Cornplanter's father was said to be John O'Bail, white trader with the Sénecas. Arch Merrill, Land of the Sénecas (New York, n.d.), pp. 112-115. 2 The treaty was to be in perpetuo in consideration of $100,000 invested for the tribe in United States Bank stock and the reservations. By 1961, the Sénecas were in danger of having much of the Allegheny reservation flooded by the building of the Kinzua Dam below them on the river. 3 Joseph Riesenmann, Jr., History of Northwestern Pennsylvania (New York, 1943), II, 200. 4 Ibid., I, 677. 20 Quaker Pioneers in McKean County, Pennsylvania 21 Friends, in May, 1798, had already ascended the Allegheny from Pittsburgh, to be welcomed by Cornplanter and established on 150 acres at the Seneca village of Genesinguhta. John Pierce and Joshua Sharpless,3 representing the Friends' Society of Philadelphia, led the Mission and left as residents Joel Swayne and Halliday Jackson from Chester County and Henry Simmons of Bucks County. Five years later, the Friends, having a tender conscience about occupying Reservation territory, purchased from the Holland Land Company 692 acres on Tunesassa Creek and improved them with a two-story log house, a gristmill, a sawmill, and a blacksmith 's shop.6 Within three years of the Tunesassa settlement, about a hundred Indian families had built log houses near the Quakers and were being instructed by them in the use of tools, mills, and agriculture. At the same period, a group of English emigrant Friends were pioneering some miles nearer the source of the Allegheny River, financed by a group of Dutch bankers who had purchased lands now in McKean and Potter Counties, Pennsylvania.7 Raymond and Theodore de Smeth and Jean Samuel Couderc were financial agents for aristocratic French exiles. Their agent in Philadelphia was John Keating, an Irish officer in the army of Louis XVL Being in the West Indies at the time his monarch was guillotined, Keating went to the new United States and established himself in Philadelphia as agent for the Ceres Land Company. He employed as surveyor of the tracts of virgin forest an English Quaker, Francis King. By 1793, King had superintended erection of a village of log houses at a settlement named Asylum (near modern Coudersport) and guided thither a number of French families, including Louis de Noailles, brother-in-law of the Marquis de Lafayette. The French aristocrats did not find life in 5W. Adams, Historical Gazetteer and Biographical Memoir of Cattaraugus County, N. Y. (Syracuse, N. Y., 1893), pp. 41 et seq. 6 Ibid. Simmons returned home in 1799, when Jacob Taylor and Jonathan Thomas came to Genesinguhta; Jackson returned in 1800; Thomas returned in 1805, when the first woman, Rachel May, arrived at the Mission with her husband Benjamin Cope. Joel Swayne persevered through all the pioneering work until 1814. 7 Writers' Project, Pennsylvania (New...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1934-1504
Print ISSN
0033-5053
Pages
pp. 20-31
Launched on MUSE
2012-04-04
Open Access
No
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