Details on the Walker Family

Isaac Walker of Walker Mill, PA
Presented with notes by Charles M. Ewing - Revised 1994 by Jerry D. Leeper

Note

This fort or blockhouse was on the property of James Ewing, and was located on the hill north of, and overlooking present Fort Pitt Station. The original Ewing cabin was located near the fort, and was recorded in the land patents as “Ewing’s Delight.” A millwright by trade, Mr. Ewing constructed a grist mill in the valley, below his home in 1774. Traces of the millrace are yet apparent paralleling the Pennsylvania Railroad. “This fort was built by James Ewing, born in Cecil County Maryland, and emigrated west in 1770. His claim, situated on Robinson Run, extended from the western boundary of what is Chartiers Borough to Walkers Mills, a distance of two miles, and back to Thornburg’s line, embracing in this one trace over one thousand areas.”

Conflict at the Cabin

“Indians pillaged the cabin of Gabriel Walker, ripping open beds, and taking such things as they wanted, set it on fire and burned it to the ground. They then assembled for a general attack on the fort, which had just been started when providence again intervened, by the timely arrival of several men from Millers Run, among who was Capt. Joseph Casnet. The Indians after a consultation murdered to two youngest boys, eight and twelve years old, in sight of the fort, and left their scalped and bleeding bodies upon the ground.”

“Then they departed in a northwesterly direction with their captives, James, seventeen, Martha, fifteen, Mary, thirteen. After going a short distance they set fire to a cabin on Brackenridge farm, now owned by Miller and McBride. They continued their journey single file, and were extremely careful to cover up their tracks so that the white men could not follow them. They cut the young ladies’ clothing off at the knees to expedite traveling. In this way they journeyed on, camping tat night at the head-waters of Robinson Run, where they feasted on green corn, which was visible to the settler who followed their trail the next morning. Continuing on they reached the Ohio River and at or near Logstown, where their canoes were hidden. All north of the river at that time was called Indian country, and few men had courage to explore its virgin soils, always going to it in a body and took care to be well armed.”

Note

With Logstown their place of rendezvous it is quite obvious that the Indians camped and had their feast of green corn, at the headwaters of the north branch of Robinson Run, which enters the main stream at Oakdale, PA.

Spreading News on the Massacre

The news of the massacre and capture spread among the settlers. Messengers were sent out far and near to the inhabitants, who gathered next day at the fort. A band numbering between forty and fifty men was organized, among them were John Henry, James Ewing, Peter Hickman and John Conners. After consultation they appointed John Henry their leader. They then appealed to the bereaved mother who told them: “Go bring them dead or alive.”

Note

Earlier in the narrative Mr. Walker mentions a Captain Joseph Casnet arriving at the fort with the settlers from Millers Run. This is no doubt Captain Joseph Casnet who is recorded in the Pennsylvania Archives as commanding Washington County Militia at that time, it was in Virginia not becoming part of Pennsylvania until 1785. The Militia Laws at that time, asides from their commission of rank, extended a very limited authority to officers. This coupled with the then burning political issue as to whether Capt. Casnet was a Pennsylvania or a Virginia adherent may account for the appointment of John Henry as leader of the party.

After the Massacre

They followed the trail with caution for fear of ambuscade, but finally they reached the Ohio at Logstown, where they saw Indians crossing the river, they fired upon the last canoe killing one and wounding another Indian. The prisoners did tell after their return home, that they were not all over the river when their rescuers came to it, but were hid in the brush and tree tops. The Indian with uplifted tomahawks threatened death should they make the least outcry. Sometimes the white men were so close they could almost touch them. The scalps of the two white-haired boys were carried along by the Indians, and at night while sitting around their campfires, the prisoners were compelled to scrap the flesh from them in order to dry them. Not being pursued after they crossed the river, they traveled at their leisure toward Canada, and in about two weeks reached Detroit. They were kept until war ended, when they were exchanged for British prisoners.

They were sent by sea to the port of Philadelphia. From there they crossed the mountains on their way homeward, in rough road wagons, until they reached their parents, from whom they had been separated for two years, and who had given them up for dead. The joy of their meeting surely can only be imagined, not described by either tongue or pen.”

Young James Walker while with the Indians, often accompanied them in their expeditions, with their ponies and horses. On one occasion he was loading a horse belonging to a chief, when by some mischance the horse stepped on the foot of the chief. Smarting with pain, he turned and hit him on the head with his tomahawk, knocking him senseless. He soon recovered sufficiently to walk, but always afterward talked through his nose. He died on his farm near Hays Crossing, Pa. about the year 1844.”

Note

Hays Crossing is the first railroad crossing east of Gregg Station near Rennerdale, Pa. Some months after the narrated events, Bill Harkins and a slave belonging to James Ewing were killed by Indians near present Gregg Station, while rounding up stray cattle.

A Thanks to Isaac Walker

“We owe a debt to Isaac Walker for the narrative he has bequeathed to our use. Many wilderness tragedies went unrecorded. This is our everlasting misfortune. The pen of Isaac Walker has, however, contributed to our understanding of the price of blood and treasurer that our forefathers paid for the freedom we now enjoy.”

Note

 A Gabriel Walker cabin, is still in existence in Allegheny Co., Pa. and is located in Settler’s Cabin Regional Park, which is located on the property, that Gabriel owned in 1772. Gabriel served in the Revolutionary War as 2nd Class/Pa. 2nd Batt’n. Washington Co. Militia, under Capt. Joseph Cessna. Gabriel was much involved in the “Whiskey Rebellion” in the fall of 1794 and was arrested by Washington’s Army and taken to Philadelphia, along with his brother Isaac Walker, they were released on May 12, 1795 and allowed to return home after promising to pay the dreaded taxes that was imposed by the Continental Congress. It was common for stills to be on plantations of western Pennsylvania, as this was sometimes the only source of hard currencies, which came mostly from eastern Pennsylvania.