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CHAPTER VI.

Last Days of Fort Pitt.

The days of Fort Pitt's usefulness were over, although it remained a landmark for a number of years longer, and the Penns began to sell lots in the town of Pittsburgh. On November 27, 1779, by enactment of the Pennsylvania Assembly, all the lands of the Penns in the state, except certain manors, etc., which had been surveyed and returned to the land office prior to July 4, 1776, were forfeited to the Commonwealth, and they were granted as compensation, the sum of 130,000 pounds sterling. The manor of Pittsburgh in which Fort Pitt and the town of Pittsburgh were located, having been surveyed and returned to the land office in 1769, remained the property of the Penns.

Neville B. Craig, in his, Life and Services of Isaac Craig, relates: (1) "The army being disbanded, it at once became necessary for these officers who had no fortunes to retire upon, to embark in some business to sustain themselves, and to prevent the waste of what means they may have accumulated before the war." Accordingly Major Craig and Colonel Stephen Bayard, both of whom until recently, had been officers at Fort Pitt, formed a partnership to carry on the mercantile business, with the design to deal in lands and lots. Their first venture was to purchase from the Penns by agreement dated January 22, 1784, "a certain tract of land lying and being in a point formed by the junction of the rivers Monongahela and Allegheny, bounded on two sides by said rivers, and on the other two sides by the Fort and the ditch running to the Allegheny; supposed to contain about three acres." This was the first land sold in Pittsburgh.

The Penns employed Colonel George Woods, an engineer residing in Bedford, to make a survey of the town and lay out a plan of the same, which was completed on May 31st, and which embodied Colonel Campbell's plan of 1765. Thereafter by deed dated December 31, 1784, they conveyed to Craig and Bayard thirty-two lots in the new plan, which included the land sold to them by agreement. These

thirty-two lots comprised all the lots between the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers, and Marbury and West streets, and included all the land occupied by Fort Pitt. While the deed was made to Major Isaac Craig and Colonel Stephen Bayard, they by a deed dated January 4, 1785, acknowledged that the purchase had been made on their own account and for the account of John Holker, William Turnbull and Peter Marmie of Philadelphia, they having entered into partnership with those gentlemen in June, 1784. These five men comprised the firm of Turnbull, Marmie and Company, formed to engage in various enterprises in Pittsburgh, including dealing in real estate and operating a distillery; (2) and later they also applied for a license to trade with the Indians. (3) At subsequent dates they added to their enterprises a sawmill up the Allegheny River and a salt works on the Big Beaver.

Fort Pitt had been in possession of the Continental Congress since General Hand was placed in charge on June 1, 1777, but for some years the garrison had been dwindling in numbers. In 1784, it consisted of a lieutenant and twenty-five men. (4) It was at this time that Major Craig and Colonel Bayard made a claim to the land on which the fort was located. In a letter of Major Craig dated July 25, 1784, Craig and Bayard made a request to use some of the buildings, their request being refused, both by Captain Marbury and by his successor, Lieutenant Lucket. That Craig and Bayard fully expected to obtain possession of Fort Pitt at this time, is evident from the fact that the materials for the erection of the distillery which they expected to establish, had already been ordered, Craig stating in this letter that on the refusal of the officers at Fort Pitt to allow him to occupy any of the buildings, he had provided a house for their reception when they arrived. (5)

In 1785, there were at the fort, only the commander, Lucket, now risen to the rank of captain, and six men, whose duty seemed to to be to oners awaiting trial. (6) at this time which created

guard military prisAn incident occurred considerable excitement

in Pittsburgh.

On May 11, 1785, a Delaware Indian named Mamachtaga, while intoxicated, killed a white man and wounded three others on the north side of the Allegheny River opposite Pittsburgh. (7) He was apprehended and taken to Fort Pitt and confined in the dungeon. The feeling of the whites against the Indian was strong. They were particularly incensed against Hugh Henry Brackenridge, the leading lawyer of Pittsburgh, who was to appear for the Indian, and against Joseph Nicholas, the interpreter, who had been with Brackenridge in his interview with Mamachtaga. They proposed to hang the interpreter and exact an oath from Brackenridge not to appear at the trial. It was, however, finally decided to go to the garrison and demand the surrender of the Indian. Two attempts were then made by parties of Washington County militia, Washington County then extending to the south side of the Monongahela River opposite Pittsburgh, to take the Indian out of the custody of the military and tomahawk him. In their first effort the militia took possession of the garrison, but were persuaded by Captain Lucket, to retire, which they did, firing their guns as they passed through the town. The next attempt was made two days later when they made a prisoner of Captain Lucket and were marching him off, when, through a hastily organized party of Pittsburgh citizens and five or six soldiers, they were overpowered, and the prisoner released, and several of the militia taken into custody. Thereupon Colonel Harmar sent Captain McCurdy with a number of soldiers to reinforce the garrison.

Major Michael Huffnagle, a justice of the peace of Westmoreland County, reported the occurrence to John Armstrong, the Secretary of the Council, and closed his communication as follows: "I wish for a special commission to be sent for the trial of the prisoner at this place, and a "blank death warrant." To the honor of the Council, however, it should be remembered that they were not as complaisant as Major Huffnagle imagined they would be, and did not send a blank death warrant, but waited until the Indian had been tried and found guilty, the trial taking place at Hannastown, when on November 25, 1785, a warrant was directed to be issued, whereupon Mamachtaga was duly hanged. (8)

Now Craig and Bayard instituted legal proceedings by bringing a suit in ejectment against Captain Lucket for the possession of the fort. The commander, however, was not to be intimidated by the service of a Pennsylvania writ, and declared that he would remain at his post until he had received orders from Congress to surrender the possession. (9)

That the fort was to be given up by the United States was generally understood in Pittsburgh. The state of Pennsylvania claimed that the effects purchased by William Thompson and Alexander Ross from Captain Edmonstone now belonged to Alexander Ross who had been attained of treason during the Revolution, and it made preparations to sell them. Major Huffnagle, who in addition to being a justice of the peace, was one of the agents for the sale of confiscated estates in Westmoreland County, (10) on May 6, 1785, wrote to Secretary John Armstrong in regard to the proposed sale. He reported that the greater part of the property purchased by Alexander Ross and William Thompson from Captain Edmonstone, had remained in the fort and had been made use of, and inquired how to proceed * * *. He also stated that in his opinion it would be necessary to have an order from Congress that possession be given to such person or persons as Council should direct. (11)

In accordance with the suggestion of Major Huffnagle, John Dickenson, the President of Pennsylvania, wrote on June 28th to the Pennsylvania delegates in Congress asking them to obtain from Congress directions to the commanding officer at Fort Pitt, upon its abandonment by Congress, to deliver the possession to John Ormsby, Michael Huffnagle, John Proctor, Thomas Galbraith and Robert Galbraith, citizens of Pennsylvania. (12)

General Arthur St. Clair, learning of the matter, addressed a letter to President Dickenson, on July 16, 1785, in which he complained of the contemplated sale, and claimed that no part of the buildings left standing on the evacuation of Fort Pitt by the British belonged to Ross. Part of them, he said, belonged to him and part to other persons. (3) In compliance with this request the Council on July 11th, ordered the sale to be postponed until further

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Turnbull, Marmie and Company, in addition to the ejectment brought by Craig and Bayard for the land on which Fort Pitt was erected, had also presented a memorial to Congress setting forth their claims and asking that they be given possession. (15) To the letter of President Dickenson, Charles Pettit, a Pennsylvania delegate to Congress, (16) replied in a communication dated August 12, 1785. He stated that he believed the garrison would shortly be removed, and said, "as it is understood that possession of the fort was taken on behalf of the United States without any treaty or contract, it seems to be the intention of Congress to relinquish it in the same manner." added, "I have therefore advised Turnbull, Marmie and Company to make their application to your Excellency and the Council on the subject." On August 15, 1785, President Dickenson addressed a letter to the commissioners appointed to take possession of Fort Pitt upon its relinquishment by Congress, in which he stated, that as it was probable that the United States would soon relinquish the possession of Fort Pitt, which he called "Pittsburgh," he thought it proper to direct, that upon such relinquishment, they should take possession in the name and behalf of this Commonwealth, and that the possession taken should be without prejudice to private property rights. (17)

It was some time after August 15th that Turnbull, Marmie and Company received possession of a portion of Fort Pitt, a small garrison being maintained there for some years longer. In 1786, the garrison consisted of twelve men. Doctor Hildreth, of Marietta, Ohio, who passed through Pittsburgh as late as April, 1788, related that there was still "a small garrison of troops at Fort Pitt." Major Ebenezer Denny, writing on July 10, 1791, stated that he found two battalions of levies at Fort Pitt. (18)

Colonel John May of Boston, a former Revolutionary officer, was in Pittsburgh from May 7th to May 24th, 1788. (19) He stopped at the tavern of Marcus Hulings on the south side of the Monongahela River, in Washington County, opposite the foot of Liberty Street, and directly across the river from Fort Pitt, because, as he complains, the same lodgings would have cost him in Pittsburgh seven

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