Thursday, January 12, 2017

Charles Woodmason, "rude fellows," & "57 dogs"

In the last half of the 1760s, “itinerant minister” Charles Woodmason was sent by the Church of England into the Carolina backcountry. He kept a diary. Presbyterian meeting houses by that time had become strongholds of isolationist Scots-Irish settlers. A centuries-long history of being on the receiving end of British oppression, these descendants of persecuted Scots had particularly strong resentments towards the British crown, not to mention the Anglican church. In attempts to deliver his sermons, Rev. Woodmason found himself challenged by many of those who gathered to “listen.”
But the Service was greatly interrupted by a Gang of Presbyterians who kept halooing and whooping without [the] Door like Indians. ...they hir’d a Band of rude fellows to come to Service who brought with them 57 Dogs (for I counted them) which in Time of Service they set fighting, and I was obliged to stop.
—Reverend Charles Woodmason
Woodmason continued to suffer interruptions throughout his efforts to preach, but did not seek legal action against his harassers, “as all the Magistrates are Presbyterians, I could not get a Warrant - if I got Warrants as the Constables are Presbyterians likewise, I could not get them serv’d - If serv’d, the Guard would let them escape.”*

* Charles Woodmason, edited by Richard Hooker, The Carolina Backcountry on the Eve of the Revolution: The Journal and Other Writings of Charles Woodmason, Anglican Itinerant, 1953, University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Scots-Irish & The Quaker Proprietors

At the time we were apprehensive of the Northern Indians…. I therefore thought it might be provident to plant a settlement of such men as those who formerly had so bravely defended Londonderry and Enniskillen as a frontier against any disturbance.
—James Logan, provincial secretary of Pennsylvania
Many early Scots-Irish immigrants entered America through the port of Philadelphia and were  compelled by the Quaker government to settle in the western Pennsylvania frontier. As in most of the crown colonies, non-English settlers were encouraged to populate the backcountry. The pacifist Quaker proprietors of Pennsylvania not only wanted keep the influx of immigrants from excessively populating their port city, they also strove to create a defensive human buffer between hostile Indians and the coastal gentry. (This plan, of course, was not used by the proprietors as a selling point to western settlers.) 
The frontier buffer was reminiscent of a similar role lowland Scots played for centuries between England and the, then adversarial, highland Scots. The role was also replayed in the lowlanders’ 17th century deployment to Ireland by King James I of England in his creation of the “Ulster Plantation.” Ulster served, in essence, as a strategic buffer between Anglican England and Catholic Ireland. When Scots-Irish immigrants arrived in American ports, their reputations preceded them. The Pennsylvania proprietors were well aware that the Scots-Irish were not averse to putting up a good fight and were also keen on not having them taint their Quaker lifestyle, yet they were quite happy for them to kill savage Indians on their behalf. Out of sight, out of mind. The tide of Scots-Irish, as well as German, immigrants was kept flowing westward from the moment the multitude disembarked at the Philadelphia docks.

The Quakers concluded that Scotch-Irish immigration ought to be stopped, and in one of their petitions sent to the council of my state, they declared that the Scotch-Irish were “a pernicious and pugnacious people.” They were in perpetual conflict. The truth is, the Scotch-Irish were ever upon the outskirts of civilization. The Quakers lived where they could live in peace. They were a lovely people, and we have the conviction that they founded Pennsylvania in peace. So they did. The truth is, they did every thing to aid warfare, and left the Scotch-Irish to fight it out. They would go amongst the Indians, and trade with them, and give them ammunition and firearms, because they were peaceful brothers, and the Indians would murder the Scotch-Irish, and the Quakers while dwelling in peace did great good in dealing justly with the Indian and getting him to kill the Scotch-Irish. They were in constant conflict.… But the Quaker always protested, always complained, and in every possible way sought to limit Scotch-Irish immigration, or drive it from the state; and they did drive many from the state.
—Colonel Alexander K. McClure of Philadelphia
It was common practice for immigrants to finance their Atlantic crossings with servitude contracts. Scots-Irish and palatinate German settlers that had arrived under such contracts were often commingled in frontier communities. In context of language, ethical, and religious differences, culture clashes ensued. As contracts were fulfilled, many Scots-Irish, outnumbered in population by the Germans, chose to leave Pennsylvania. Their next migration coincided with additional western lands being opened for settlement in the southern colonies. Again, colonial proprietors were hoping for protection from frontier Indians.
By the 1730s, motivators increased for Scots-Irish to consider leaving for points south. These included: rising land prices in Pennsylvania, cash incentives for relocation, competition with German immigrants, and discriminatory practices implemented, or tolerated, by the provincial government.
The proprietaries, in consequence of the frequent disturbances between the governor and Irish settlers, after the organization of York and Cumberland counties, gave orders to their agents to sell no lands in either York or Lancaster counties to the Irish; and also to make advantageous offers of removal to the Irish settlers on Paxton and Swatara, and Donegal townships, to remove to Cumberland county, which offers being liberal, were accepted by many. “Du verfluchter Irischer”* used to be a frequent ejaculation of reproach in former days. 
—John F. Watson**
* Translation: “You cursed Irish”
** John F. Watson, Annals of Philadelphia and Pennsylvania, in the Olden Time, 1870, J. B. Lippincott & Co., Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Captain John “Indian Wars” McDowell

John McDowell (born 1714), youngest son of American McDowell patriarch Ephraim and surveyor of Borden’s Grant in Virginia, married Magdalen Woods in 1734 while the family was still in Pennsylvania. Like so many of the McDowells, she had made the crossing to America from Ireland with her parents and siblings. John and “Magdalena” had three children together before John’s untimely death at age 28 on 14 December 1742. 
John received his Captain’s commission in the Virginia militia after numerous Augusta County landholders made a direct plea (in desperate need of spellcheck):
"To the Honorable, William Gooch Esqr His Majestys’ Lieut: Governor &c &c—
We your pittionours humbly sheweth that we your Honours Loly and Dutifull Subganckes hath ventred our Lives & all that we have In settling ye back parts of Virginia which was a veri Great Hassirt & Dengrous, for it is the Hathins [heathens] Road to ware, which has proved hortfull to severil of ous that were ye first settlers of these back woods & wee your Honibill pittionors some time a goo pittioned your Honnour for to have Commissioned men amungst ous which we your Honnours most Duttifull subjects thought properist men & men that had Hart and Curidg to hed us yn mind of — & to defend your Contray and your poor Sobgacks Intrist from ye voilince of ye Haithen—But yet agine we Humbly perfume to poot your Honnour yn mind of our Great want of them in hopes that your Honner will Grant a Captins’ Commission to John McDowell, with follring ofishers, and your Honnours’ Complyence in this will be Great settisfiction to your most Duttifull and Humbil pittioners—and we as in Duty bond shall Ever pray—
Andrew Moore, David Moore, James Eikins, Geroge Marfit, John Goof, James Sutherland, James Milo, James McDowell, John Anderson, Joabe Anderson, James Anderson, Mathew Lyel, John Gray and many others."*
Captain McDowell assembled a Company of thirty-three men, including his father Ephraim and brother James. In early December 1742, a similar number of Delaware Indians entered the McDowell settlement in Borden’s Grant, “saying that they were on their way to assail the Catawba tribe with which they were at war.” John McDowell met with the Indians, who professed their friendship for the whites. He, in turn, entertained them for a day and “treated them with whiskey.” The Delawares then traveled down the south branch of the North River and camped for about a week. Besides hunting, they proceeded to terrorize local settlers and shoot loose horses at random. In response to grievous complaints, Captain McDowell’s Company was ordered by Colonel James Patton of the Virginia militia to conduct the Delaware Indians beyond the white settlements. On 14 December 1742 they caught up with the suspect Indians at the junction of the James and North rivers. The Company proceeded to gather the group together and initiate the escort. About half of the Indians were on horseback, the rest on foot. One was said to have been lame, not keeping pace with the company, and had walked off into the woods. A soldier at the back of the line fired into the trees at him, and the Indians immediately began a full-fledged attack upon McDowell’s entire Company.** John and eight of his men were killed. At least seventeen Indians also died. In the battle’s aftermath, to avoid all-out war with the multiple nations of the Iroquois Confederacy, Lieutenant Governor George Thomas of Pennsylvania negotiated the Treaty of Lancaster in 1744. Agreement was reached that Virginia’s Lieutenant Governor William Gooch would pay the Iroquois a reparation of 100 pounds sterling. 
After what came to be called the “Massacre at Balcony Downs,” many referred to the Captain as John “Indian Wars” McDowell. By this time there were numerous McDowells up and down the Great Wagon Road, so it became a way to distinguish him from others in the retelling. 
*Petition to Lt. Governor William Gooch of Virginia, dated 30 July 1742, Calendar of Virginia State Papers, i, p. 235
**Joseph Addison Waddell, Annals of Augusta County, Virginia, from 1726 to 1871, 1902, C.R. Caldwell, Augusta County, Virginia. Specifics of the account are from an 1808 letter sent from Judge Samuel McDowell, son of Captain John McDowell, to Colonel Arthur Campbell.

Friday, December 30, 2016

McDowells & The Scots-Irish Migration

The McDowells were among devout Presbyterian Scots who, beginning in the late 1500s, migrated from the lowlands of Scotland to Ireland. Religious persecutions in the reigns of James VI of Scotland (who later became England’s James I) and Charles I of England provoked many Presbyterians to leave Scotland, particularly in the aftermath of the Ruthven Raid, during which several Protestant noblemen staged an audacious coup d’etat. In August 1582, those nobles met up with James VI while the teenaged King of Scots was out hunting, and invited him to join them at nearby Ruthven Castle. James accepted their invitation and was subsequently held hostage for ten months during which time William Ruthven, 1st Earl of Gowrie, ruled Scotland. After James’s escape in June 1583, Protestants became prime suspects regarding their allegiance to Scotland’s king. Though brought up in the Protestant Church of Scotland, he had been baptized in a Catholic ceremony at Stirling Castle. And he was, after all, the only child of Mary, the devoutly Catholic former Queen of Scots, who had been held in England by Queen Elizabeth I since 1568.
Meanwhile, during this time, the Presbyterian McDowells were still in Galloway, the descendants of Prince Fergus, born around 1095. Nearly five hundred years later in 1575, John McDowell, great-grandfather of the first Joseph McDowell of the line, was born in Galloway. (John's father Uchtred, 1oth of Garthland, had been a suspect in the Ruthven Raid before his summons was deleted by royal warrant in 1584.) By 1595, John emigrated to Ireland as a political exile along with others who would become called Scots-Irish, Scotch-Irish, or Ulster Scots. However, within a few generations Ireland, too, would become unsafe for Presbyterians such as he.

In 1661, at the re-establishment of Episcopacy in Ireland, the newly appointed bishops, with Jeremy Taylor as their leader, turned all the Presbyterian ministers out of their charges upon the ground that they had never been ordained. This ignoring of Presbyterian ordination carried with it a denial of the validity of any official act performed by a Presbyterian minister. For instance, the validity of marriage, involving the questions of legitimacy and inheritance. This wrong was not corrected until 1782. Second, In 1704 the Sacramental Test Act was passed, which required all persons holding any office, civil or military, or receiving any pay from the sovereign to take sacraments in the established church within three months after their appointment. This, of course, excluded all Presbyterians from civil and military offices of every kind.
—Rev. W.A. West
A reason to emigrate arose again, this time coinciding with the rising power and impending rebellion of the American colonies. Calvinists in Ireland in the late 17th and early 18th centuries were caught between an Anglican elite and a burgeoning Catholic majority. They found themselves exploited and discriminated against by landlords, and increasingly taxed by churches to which they did not belong. Under the 1704 Test Act, Presbyterian marriages were no longer recognized, dissenters were denied job opportunities, and, all too often, they were not even allowed to bury their dead unless a funeral service was held within the “Established Church.” 
Archbishop Boulton sent to the Secretary of State in England, a “melancholy account,” as he calls it, of the state of the North. He says the people who go complain of the oppressions they suffer, as well as the dearness of provisions. The whole North, he says, is in a ferment, and the humour has spread like a contagion. “The worst is,” says the Archbishop, “that it affects only Protestants, and reigns chiefly in the North, which is the seat of our linen manufacture.” Writing in March, 1729, he says: “There are now seven ships at Belfast, that are carrying off about 1000 passengers thither”—to America.*
During the same time period, there had also been drought, disease, poor harvests, and industry downturn. Those negative factors could happen anywhere, of course. America would be full of unknowns, especially on the frontier. Many chose to take the risk. McDowells, their families, and friends gathered at the ports and boarded the ships. They disembarked in a new world.
*Source: Joseph A. Waddell, Annals of Augusta County, Virginia, 1901, C. Russell Caldwell, Staunton, Virginia

Saturday, March 7, 2009

"A Scotch-Irish Presbyterian Rebellion"

In 1778 an unknown Hessian officer recorded his observations on the Revolutionary War: "Call this war by whatever name you may, only call it not an American Rebellion: it is nothing more or less than a Scotch-Irish Presbyterian Rebellion."

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Elizabeth "Betty" Hutchinson Jackson (1737-1781)

Elizabeth "Betty" Hutchinson, Scots-Irish immigrant and mother of Andrew Jackson (who would become 7th President of the United States), had these last words for her son:

    “Andrew, if I should not see you again, I wish you to remember and treasure up some things I have already said to you: in this world you will have to make your own way. To do that you must have friends. You can make friends by being honest, and you can keep them by being steadfast. You must keep in mind that friends worth having will in the long run expect as much from you as they give to you. To forget an obligation or be ungrateful for a kindness is a base crime–not merely a fault or a sin, but an actual crime. Men guilty of it sooner or later must suffer the penalty. In personal conduct be always polite but never obsequious. None will respect you more than you respect yourself. Avoid quarrels as long as you can without yielding to imposition. But sustain your manhood always. Never bring a suit in law for assault and battery or for defamation. The law affords no remedy for such outrages that can satisfy the feelings of a true man. Never wound the feelings of others. Never brook wanton outrage upon your own feelings. If you ever have to vindicate your feelings or defend your honor, do it calmly. If angry at first, wait till your wrath cools before you proceed.”

Monday, January 19, 2009

A Scots-Irish prayer

"Lord, grant that I may always be right, for Thou knowest I am hard to turn."

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Auraria & The First American Gold Rush

Etowah River, near Auraria, Georgia
Auraria is a ghost town in Lumpkin County, Georgia, southwest of Dahlonega, the county seat.
In 1828, a man walked along Findley Ridge and kicked a rock–and discovered it was full of gold. This was in Cherokee territory, and part of present day Lumpkin County, Georgia. The first American gold rush subsequently ensued. 
The Indians were dismayed at the influx of unauthorized settlers. Cherokee leader Major Ridge (aka Pathkiller II, whose maternal grandfather was a Highland Scot) long opposed U.S. government proposals for the Cherokees to sell their lands and remove to the West. However, rapidly expanding white settlement and Georgia's efforts to abolish the Cherokee government caused him to change his mind. Advised by his son John Ridge, Major Ridge came to believe the best way to preserve the Cherokee Nation was to get good terms for their lands from the United States before it was too late. On December 22, 1835, Ridge was one of the signers of the Treaty of New Echota, which exchanged the Cherokee tribal land east of the Mississippi River for land in what is now Oklahoma. The treaty was of questionable legality, and it was rejected by Chief John Ross and the majority of the Cherokee people. Nevertheless, the treaty was ratified by the U.S. Senate. The Supreme Court under John Marshall forced the treaty on the Cherokees, and the Cherokee removal from Georgia began. The land east of Auraria was purchased by U.S. Vice President John Calhoun, and he established the Calhoun Mine there. The banks of Etowah River, Camp Creek, and Cane Creek had many mines (e.g., Barlow Mine, Battle Branch Mine, Ralston Mine, Whim Hill Mine, Hedwig-Chicago Mine, Gold Hill Mine, Etowah Mine).
(Source: Wikipedia)

Thursday, February 21, 2008

The North Georgia Gold Rush (part 2)

From The New Georgia Encyclopedia, by David Williams (Valdosta State University); the Georgia Humanities Council and the University of Georgia Press:

    By late 1829 north Georgia, known at the time as the Cherokee Nation, was flooded by thousands of prospectors lusting for gold. Niles' Register reported in the spring of 1830 that there were four thousand miners working along Yahoola Creek alone. While in his nineties, Benjamin Parks recalled the scene in the Atlanta Constitution (July 15, 1894):

      The news got abroad, and such excitement you never saw. It seemed within a few days as if the whole world must have heard of it, for men came from every state I had ever heard of. They came afoot, on horseback and in wagons, acting more like crazy men than anything else. All the way from where Dahlonega now stands to Nuckollsville [Auraria] there were men panning out of the branches and making holes in the hillsides.

    The sudden influx of miners into the Cherokee Nation was known even at the time as the Great Intrusion. One writer said in the Cherokee Phoenix, "Our neighbors who regard no law and pay no respects to the laws of humanity are now reaping a plentiful harvest. . . . We are an abused people." But there was little the Cherokees could do; it seemed the louder they protested, the more eagerly the miners came.
    Gold rush towns sprang up quickly in north Georgia, particularly near the center of the gold region in present-day Lumpkin County. Auraria became an instant boomtown, growing to a population of 1,000 by 1832. The county seat, called Licklog at the time, in 1833 became known as Dahlonega, for the Cherokee word tahlonega, meaning golden. Within a few months after its establishment nearly 1,000 people were crowded into the settlement, with about 5,000 people in the surrounding county.

The North Georgia Gold Rush (part 1)

from The New Georgia Encyclopedia, by David Williams (Valdosta State University); the Georgia Humanities Council and the University of Georgia Press:

    There are several popular stories of the beginning of Georgia's gold rush; but in fact, no one is really certain who made the first discovery or when. According to one anecdote, John Witheroods found a three-ounce nugget along Duke's Creek in White County. Another says that Jesse Hogan, a prospector from North Carolina, found gold on Ward's Creek near Dahlonega. Yet another finds a young Benjamin Parks kicking up an unusual-looking stone while on the lookout for deer west of the Chestatee River in 1828. Despite the popularity of these claims, no documented evidence for gold in Georgia is found until August 1, 1829, when a Milledgeville newspaper, the Georgia Journal, ran the following notice.

      GOLD.—A gentleman of the first respectability in Habersham county, writes us thus under date of 22d July: "Two gold mines have just been discovered in this county, and preparations are making to bring these hidden treasures of the earth to use." So it appears that what we long anticipated has come to pass at last, namely, that the gold region of North and South Carolina, would be found to extend into Georgia.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Virginia's Westward Expansion

from A History of Rockbridge County, Virginia, by Oren Frederic Morton, published 1920, The McClure Co., Virginia:

    The house that John Lewis built near the site of Staunton in the summer of 1732 was not within the recognized limits of any county. Until 1744 the Blue Ridge was the treaty line between paleface and redskin. The first county organization to cross that barrier was Spottsylvania, which became effective in 1721. Yet it came only to the South Fork of the Shenandoah, one extremity of the line touching the river in the vicinity of Elkton, the other about midway between Front Royal and Bentonville. Orange was created in 1734, and organized in 1735. It was defined as extending westward to the uttermost limit claimed by Virginia. Four years later, the portion of Orange west of the Blue Ridge was divided into the counties of Frederick and Augusta by a line running from the source of the Rapidan to the Fairfax Stone at the source of the North Branch of the Potomac. The present boundary between Rockingham and Shenandoah is a portion of this line.
    During the westward march of population in Virginia, the practical area of a county has always been co-extensive with its settled portion. The fact that Augusta once extended potentially to the Mississippi, did not mean that a juryman might have to travel hundreds of miles to attend court. When the first division of Augusta took place in 1769, probably not less than three-fourths of the inhabitants were living within a radius of fifty miles around Staunton. Of the other fourth, nearly all were within a few miles of a trail leading from Buchanan to Abingdon.
    The first county to be set off from Augusta was Botetourt, which became effective January 31, 1770. ...

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Pennsylvania: Enter the Scots-Irish

James Logan, Pennsylvania's provincial secretary, to John Penn, 1729:

    "It now looks as if [Ireland] or the Inhabitants of it were to be transplanted hither.... [We] may easily believe there are some grounds for the common apprehensions of the people that if some speedy Method be not taken, they will soon make themselves Proprietors of the Province."
(Source: Our Savage Neighbors, by Peter Silver, pub. W.W. Norton & Company, 2008)