Philadelphia Reflections

The musings of a physician who has served the community for over six decades

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Philadelphia Reflections (6)
New topic 2017-02-06 21:23:28 description

The Pennamite Wars
The Connecticut farmers believed the King's last word overturned all earlier ones, else why be a king? William Penn's revolutionary idea was that of private property -- the first sale created a new owner, whose new word erased any earlier ones. When you acquire a new continent from aborigines, that's a congenial viewpoint.

The First Pennamite War (1769-1771)

{The Wyoming Valley Massacre}
The Wyoming Valley Massacre

Things seemed peaceful in the Wyoming Valley for half a dozen years after the massacre, so Connecticut settlers slowly drifted back. This time, the people who didn't like poachers were the Proprietors of Pennsylvania. The Penn's were no longer Quakers, did not control the State Government, and in fact, were often in conflict with the Pennsylvania Quakers who had bought their land. They had to act as private citizens in their effort to expel the Connecticut poachers, which in this case meant calling Sheriff Jennings to evict them. Since everyone on the frontier in those days was armed and ready to fight, Jennings brought along a band of soldiers, led by Captain Amos Ogden.

On five different occasions, with escalating casualties, Jennings would arrest the settlers and take them before a judge in Easton, while Ogden stayed behind and burned the cabins and farm buildings to the ground, following which a somewhat larger group of Connecticut Yankees would return to the Wyoming Valley. By 1771, the Connecticut squatters had grown too numerous to be intimidated easily, and were militarily organized under an effective soldier, Zebulon Butler. Butler's men surrounded the handful of Pennsylvania soldiers in a fort under Ogden. At that point, Ogden briefly became a hero.

Seeing that reinforcements would be necessary, Ogden stripped naked, wrapped his clothes in a bundle around some sticks, and tied his hat on top. Tying a rope to the bundle, he floated down the river while the Connecticut sharpshooters peppered his hat with holes. Luckily, their aim was excellent, and Ogden escaped without being hit by a stray bullet. Off to Philadelphia for reinforcements.

Unfortunately, when Ogden and two hundred soldiers returned, Zebulon Butler ambushed them. In those days of honorable combat, Ogden was set free in recognition of his derringer-do, but only on the condition that he promised never to return. The Connecticut group was thus left in possession of the valley, and can fairly be said to have won the first war.

Originally published: Wednesday, September 29, 2004; most-recently modified: Friday, May 31, 2019

Which part of Connecticut did the Yankees who went to the Wyoming Valley come from? I am trying to track my Earle/Earl ancestors and think they may be related to the Earls that kidnapped Timothy Pickering. This is fascinating, and well written - thanks!
Posted by: Kathleen Fox   |   May 4, 2016 3:56 PM
I feel like it was much different back then, then now because they said in how the people were acting and its much different now. It seems like the Quakers were in controll a lot of the time over everyone else .
Posted by: Elvira    |   Nov 26, 2012 10:57 PM