Photo of the week for 11/9/2009

Barnett's Fort in West Hanover Township, c1900

Barnett's Fort in West Hanover Township, c1900

In the album housing this photo, former HSDC Librarian William A. Kelker pasted an article from the Reformed Church Record written by Daniel Miller of Reading, PA and published July 10, 1902, a short time after the photo was taken. The article, entertaining if not entirely accurate, states that in the mid-1700s Mr. Barnett and several other families erected this block house in West Hanover Township to protect them from Indians while they worked their farms. One day Mr. Barnett and Mr. Mackey were out in the fields when they heard that their families had been murdered by Indians. Shortly after mounting their horses and heading for home, they were ambushed. Mr. Barnett suffered a broken arm and dropped his rifle. Though Barnett escaped and later recovered, an Indian picked up his rifle and killed Mr. Mackey.

Mr. Barnett learned that his family had not been murdered and was entirely safe except for his son William of eight or nine years who, along with a son of the deceased Mr. Mackey, had been captured by the Indians and taken westward. After some time, Colonel Croghan and 500 men (Mr. Barnett among them) marched west to Fort Pitt in the hope of signing a treaty with the Indians. There Col. Croghan learned the Barnett boy had been adopted by an Indian family who had lost their own son.

The peace treaty was eventually signed, but Col. Croghan was unable to secure Mr. Barnett's son before the contingent returned east. Further efforts proved fruitful and the boy was eventually returned to Fort Pitt and then to Carlisle. According to Miller's story, after being separated for three years, "by a singular coincidence his father went there on business and reached the place after dark of the same day that the boy arrived. He put up at the same hotel where his boy was already sleeping", and after only a moment of doubt by the son, William and his father reunited and returned home to their family. As for the Mackey boy, he was sent to England, returned to America as a British solider during the Revolutionary War, and while on furlough reunited with his mother and left the British army.

Some remains of the house should still be visible off of Piketown Road. According to the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission marker, Joseph Barnett's log house at the head of Beaver Creek served as a frontier refuge during the French and Indian War. William was stolen in 1756, and it was not until 1763 that he was brought back by Col. Henry Bouquet. Photo ID: ALB7-01328.

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