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Massacre on Lycoming Creek - this article refers to three men bearing surnames that are of prime interest to our own genealogy, Snodgrass, Chambers, and Campbell.

View Other Snodgrass related pages and articles

W. J. Snodgrass of Okanagan Falls, B.C., Canada
The Snodgrass family of High River, Alberta (owners of the Snodgrass Funeral Home)
Snodgrass and Neel Connection - Pennsylvania

Massacre on Lycoming Creek
The Indian Wars of Pennsylvania --- The Revolutionary War - 1778

On June 10th, 1778, occurred the terrible massacre at Lycoming Creek, within the limits of the present town of Williamsport, Lycoming County. On this day, Peter Smith, his wife and six children, William King’s wife and his two daughters, Ruth and Sarah, Michael Smith, Michael Campbell, and David Chambers, and two men named Snodgrass and Hammond, were going to Lycoming in wagons; and when they arrived at Loyalsock Creek, John Harris met them, told them that he heard firing up the creek, and advised them to return to Fort Muncy, located about four miles from the town of  Muncy, Lycoming County, and erected in the spring of 1778 by Colonel Thomas Hartley. Smith said that the firing would not stop him; and he and his party continued up the West Branch of the Susquehanna, while Harris proceded to Fort Muncy and told the garrison of the firing which he had heard. A detail of fifteen soldiers then started from the fort in the direction of the firing.

When Smith and his party were within half a mile of Lycoming they were ambushed by Indians, and Snodgrass fell dead with a bullet through his forehead at the first fire. The Indians then rushed toward the wagons, and the white men hurried toward the shelter of some trees, while two of the children, a boy and girl, escaped to the woods. The Indians then endeavored to surround the party, and their movements being discovered, the other men fled leaving Campbell, who was fighting at too close quarters to join in the flight. Campbell was killed and scalped on the spot. Before the men were out of sight of the wagons, they saw the Indians attacking the women and children with their tomahawks. This attack occurred just before sundown. The boy who had escaped, fled to the stockade on Lycoming Creek, and informed the garrison what had happened. In the meantime the detail of fifteen soldiers from Fort Muncy, under Captain William Hepburn, arrived at the scene of this massacre and found the bodies if Snodgrass and Campbell. It was then too dark to pursue the Indians, but they pressed on toward Lycoming and met the party going out from that place.

On the following morning they returned to the scene of the massacre, and found the body of Peter Smith’s wife. She had been shot, stabbed, and scalped. A little girl and a boy had also been killed and scalped. The body of Snodgrass was also found, shot through the head and scalped. The boy who had made his escape insisted that Mrs. King must be somewhere in the thicket, as he heard her scream and say that she would not go along with the Indians when they were dragging her away. The party then made another search and found the body of Mrs. King near the stream, to which she had dragged herself. She had been tomahawked and scalped, but was not dead. When her husband approached her she arose to a sitting position, greeted him, and then expired, not living long enough to relate the details of the massacre.

Broken-hearted, William King returned to Northumberland, and many years later, learning that his daughters were still alive, started on foot for Niagara, accompanied by a faithful old Indian. He soon found his daughter Sarah and later, after much suffering and hardship, succeeded in finding the other daughter, Ruth. The three then returned to their home near Milton, Northumberland County.

On the same day, a number of horses having strayed from the neighborhood of Fort Muncy, supposedly up Loyalsock Creek, Captain Berry, with a company of twelve, started out to search for them. Robert Covenhoven, his two brothers, James and Thomas, and William Wyckoff were in the company. At the mouth of Loyalsock Creek, the party separated, Wyckoff, Peter Shoefelt and a man named Thompson going up the West Branch of the Susquehanna towards Williamsport to Thompson’s house to save some of his property, and the remaining members of the company going up the Loyalsock. When Wyckoff, Thompson and Shoefelt came to Thompson’s house, they went in and com­menced to cook dinner, when they were attacked by part of the same band that, later in the day, committed the massacre at the mouth of Lvcoming Creek. Thompson and Shoefelt were killed. Wyckoff was wounded and captured. He was liberated after a captivity of two years. The men who had gone up Lovalsock Creek, proceeded for some distance, and not finding the horses, decided to return. Captain Berry, who was among these, was advised by Robert Covenhoven not to return by the path by which they had come. The Captain paid no attention to the noted scout’s advice. The men had not gone far, on their re­turn, when they were fired upon by Indians, and most of them, including Captain Berry, were killed. James Covenhoven was shot through the shoulder and disabled. He cried to his brother, Robert, that he was wounded and could do nothing, whereupon Robert told him to run across the creek, and he would cover his retreat. James reached the opposite side of the creek when a bullet struck him in the back of the head, killing him instantly. Robert then ran for his life, and escaped by hiding in a tree top.

His brother, Thomas, was captured, as were Wyckoff, his son Cornelius, and a negro. The negro was burned at the stake in the presence of the other prisoners. Wyckoff and his son re­mained among the Indians for two years, when they were given their freedom.

Thus ended this terrible day on the West Branch of the Sus­quehanna, as the Indian allies of the British, laden with the bloody scalps of men, women and children, set out through the forests to present their instigators with the ghastly evidence of their awful work and to receive the British scalp bounty. (Pa. Archives, Vol. 6, pages 589-591; Meginnes’ “History of the West Branch”, pages 209-215)

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