First Name:  Last Name: 
[Advanced Search]  [Surnames]

Col. William CRAWFORD

Male 1722 - 1782  (59 years)

Personal Information    |    PDF

  • Name William CRAWFORD 
    Title Col. 
    Born 2 Sep 1722  Westmoreland County, VA Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Gender Male 
    AFN 144C-C8R 
    Died 11 Jun 1782  Present-day Wyandot County, OH Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Cause: Killed by Indians 

    • (1) Source: Michael A. Smoke < E1-0006.html>.

      (2) Source: Sharon Emmons-Mason .

      (3) McClenathan, J. C., et al., Centennial History of the Borough of Connellsville, Pennsylvania 1806-1906, Columbus, OH: The Champlin Press, 1906, pp. 28-37, 170-186:


      One of the most prominent figures among these pioneers of 1765 was William Crawford. He was born in what is now Berkeley county, West Virginia, in 1732. [Note by compiler: According to other sources, he was born in Westmoreland County, VA in 1722.] His parents were Scotch-Irish, and many of the virtues of that hardy race were accentuated in him. In 1736, his father died, leaving two children, William and Valentine. [Note by compiler: According to other sources, his father died in 1726.] His mother soon after married Richard Stephenson, to whom six children were born, John, Hugh, Richard, James, Marcus and Elizabeth. The Stephenson home was a frequent stopping place for George Washington during the time of his engagement as a surveyor for Lord Fairfax. Both the Crawford and the Stephenson boys were noted for their strength and agility, and Washington often engaged in sport with them after the work of the day was over. The warm friendships of the boys ripened into the stronger friendships of the men, and were never broken. It was from Washington that William Crawford learned the art of surveying, and it was also through his influence that he obtained a commission as Ensign in the military service of Virginia, in 1755. It is commonly supposed that he was a member of Braddock's army. This is incorrect. His first trip west of the mountains was made in 1758, as an officer in the army of General Forbes. The western country made such a strong impression upon his mind that he resolved to make it his home. For several years he was prevented from carrying out his purpose by the hostile attitude of the Indians, but in the fall of 1765, when this danger had subsided, he came over the mountains on horse-back by way of the Braddock road, in company with his half-brother, Hugh Stephenson. When he reached the second crossings of the Yough, where the town of New Haven is now located, he was so much pleased with the fine meadow lands lying in the bend of the river, that he here decided to build his home. The two men surveyed a tract of 376?? acres, and put up a log cabin, into which Crawford moved his family the following year. The exact time of his settlement is fixed by a deposition preserved in the "Virginia State Papers" at Richmond, Virginia.

      "Colonel William Crawford deposeth and saith that his first acquaintance with the country on the Ohio was in the year 1758, he then being an officer in the Virginia service. That between that time and the year 1765 a number of settlements were made on the public roads in that country by permission of the several commanding officers of Fort Pitt. That in the fall of the year 1765 he made some improvements on the west side of the Alleghdny Mountains; in the spring of the year following he settled, and has continued to live out here ever since. That before that time, and in that year, a considerable number of settlements were made, he thinks near three hundred, without permission from any commanding officer; some of which settlements were made within the limits of the Indiana Company's claim, and some others within Col. Croghan's."

      Crawford's family, at the. time of his settlement, consisted of his wife (Hannah Vance) and four children, John, Sarah, Effie and Anne. The discomforts of bringing a family with several small children to western Pennsylvania in 1766 can scarcely be imagined. The road over the mountains was little better than a path and exceedingly rough and dangerous in places. The transportation was effected by means of pack-horses. As a rule the pioneer found three horses sufficient to carry his outfit. Little or no wooden furniture would be brought along, for that could be improvised on the ground. Bed clothing, cooking utensils, agricultural implements, an ax, a rifle, a dog, two cows and plenty of food were the essential things. The dog served as a watchman, the cows furnished milk for the children on the way. The little caravan would move slowly, for mishaps were common. Every creek had to be forded, and, in the spring when the waters were high, this was often attended with considerable danger. At night the only shelter for the mother would be an improvised bark hut, and sometimes even that could not be provided. None but the most courageous of women would have attempted the journey, but Hannah Crawford was equal to it. She was a woman of unusual courage and vivacity, as her later life proves, and was able to provide for every emergency. The cabin prepared for their coming was an exceedingly humble home. It was about 14 by 16 feet in size, and contained but one room, in which the family lived and did all their work. It is said to have had two small openings in the logs, which served as windows, one beside the door, overlooking the river, and the other facing the hills. The floor was made of split logs, dressed with the ax as smooth as possible; the roof was made of rough planks. Here, in this humble home, the family lived during the entire time of Crawford's life in this community. Here George Washington, Lord Dunmore, Governor of Virginia, Doctor James Craik, Captain Stephen and other illustrious men were entertained. Here, every passing traveller found a hospitable welcome, for the heart of William Crawford was ever larger than his purse. It was an ideal spot for a home. The rich farming lands yielded an abundant supply of food. The forest abounded in game. One hundred and fifty yards away the beautiful Youghiogheny sparkled in the sunshine. A short distance to the north ran the old Braddock road along which travellers were constantly passing. The Crawfords had none of the comforts and conveniences of our modern life, but they lived close to nature's heart, and were healthy, happy and strong. Their closest neighbor was Lawrence Harrison, who brought his family from Virginia and settled on New Haven hill, in 1766, taking up four tracts of land containing 1082?? acres. It is said that they came over the mountains with the Crawfords. William Harrison married Miss Sarah Crawford, so that the relations between the two families were quite intimate. John Vance, brother of Mrs. Crawford, came out in 1761 and located in Tyrone township, not many miles distant; Valentine Crawford settled on the Westmoreland side of Jacobs Creek, and two of the Stephenson boys took up land a little farther west, so that the Crawfords were among their friends from the very beginning.

      One of William Crawford's chief employments aside from his farming was surveying. Having learned the art in Virginia, he was now in a position where he could put it to good use. Seven tracts of land in Fayette county, containing more than two thousand acres, were surveyed for George Washington. One of these tracts was the "Great Meadows," embracing the site of Fort Necessity. Over sixteen hundred acres of valuable land were secured for him in Perry township. Crawford also surveyed several other tracts of land for Washington near Fort Pitt and down the Ohio, for all of which he was fully paid.

      In the fall of 1770, Washington, accompanied by Doctor James Craik, came over the mountains to inspect his newly acquired lands. Crawford accompanied them on their journey, and took pleasure in showing them the natural resources of the country and in entertaining them at his home.

      In 1773, Lord Dunmore, Governor of Virginia, while on his way to Fort Pitt, stopped at Crawford's home and conferred with him on matters of state. Indeed, William Crawford was recognized as one of the most influential men on the frontier. His advice was sought on all matters pertaining to the development of the country. His influence in civil affairs is seen in the fact that he was appointed as a Justice of the Peace for Cumberland county in 1770, for Bedford county in 1771, and for Westmoreland county in 1773. He was the presiding Justice of the latter county at the time of its erection, and would probably have held the position up to the time of his death if it had not been for his Virginian partisanship during the Indian war of 1774. In opposition to the public policy of his State, he espoused the cause of Lord Dunmore and led a force of men into the Indian country. The Pennsylvanians bitterly resented this disloyal act on the part of their presiding Justice, and, on January 25, 1775, at the urgent request of Arthur St. Clair, he was deposed from office by Governor Penn, never to take up public service under the State of Pennsylvania again. It was the most serious mistake of Crawford's civil life. His military ardor and love for Virginia overcame his good judgment. It was a characteristic mistake, and helps us to see the force of the man. Nature had endowed him with many of the highest qualities of the soldier. He was a born leader of men. When danger threatened he was quick to respond to the call of his fellow men and organize them for self-defense. The correspondence between Crawford and Washington during the summer of 1774 shows how serious the apprehensions of the settlers in the Yough region were at that time with respect to the Indians. By the assistance of several neighboring families, a block house was built on Crawford's land near his home. Another similar fort was built near the home of his brother. Danger was imminent. The people fled in crowds from the country and Crawford believed that he was only doing his duty in giving himself to the public defense. His military record, as an officer in the war of Independence, and also as leader of the Sandusky Expedition, is given in another chapter. What we have said will serve to show that Crawford the soldier was ever superior to Crawford the civilian. Such was his devotion to the public service that personal and family interests were often made to suffer. He was compelled to borrow money from Isaac Meason in order to purchase the horse on which he rode to Sandusky, and it is said that part of his New Haven farm was sold after his death in order to satisfy this claim. We do not consider William Crawford the paragon of virtue that he is sometimes said to be. Neither do we attribute his military service on the border to an unalloyed patriotism, for his natural love of adventure doubtless had much to do with it. But he is worthy of something far higher than the criticism that he was a common border ruffian, who engaged in the Indian wars for the sake of plunder. He did not wish the leadership of the Sandusky Expedition, and accepted it only when convinced by General Irvine and other good men that it was his duty. He served his country well, and his tragic death at the stake, on the afternoon of June 11, 1782, was mourned by true patriots all over the land.

      With a presentiment of coming danger, Crawford, before setting out on his last campaign, deeded to his son-in-law, Major William Harrison, a tract of sixty-eight acres of land adjoining his own. He also made his last Will and Testament, in which 2900 acres of Virginia land lying along the Ohio river were bequeathed to his children and their descendants. The old homestead, or "Spring Garden," as he affectionately termed it, was bequeathed to his wife for her lifetime, then to descend to the heirs of his son John Crawford, of whom two, William and Moses, are named in the will. A tract of land, lying along the old Braddock road two miles north of Connellsville, was given to his daughter Anne Connell and her children. Four negro slaves are also mentioned in the will. All of the Virginians living in this vicinity in the early days were large slave owners. When the estate was settled, the executors were deluged with a flood of small claims, many of which were not believed to have any foundation in fact. In order to settle these claims the old homestead was sold, November 27, 1786, to Edward Cook, who in turn transferred it to Isaac Meason, the founder of New Haven. The widow, however, reserved her home, where she lived until her death in 1817. For many years she was attended only by an old slave named Daniel, the most faithful servant of the Crawford family. Her remarkable vitality is attested by the fact that she would ride on horseback over the rough roads to visit her children and friends when she was more than eighty years of age. Her death did not come until she had almost reached her ninety-fifth birthday. For a while she was in straitened financial circumstances, and was almost reduced to want. The State granted her a small pension in view of the military services of her husband. In November, 1804, a petition to Congress for her relief was denied. . . .


      The history of Connelisville cannot be written without the mention of "wars and rumors of wars." It is in a historic region. At no great distance from it, Washington fought his first battle. Within rifle shot of its present boundaries, Braddock passed on his ill-fated expedition to Fort Duquesne, and not many miles away his tragic and pathetic death occurred. Over the mountains that rise in majesty round about us, through "the primeval forests," and across these winding streams, armies have marched,?small armies, indeed, but self-sacrificing and brave, and taking part, unwittingly though it may have been with some of them, in events of world-wide importance. Whether on their way to expel French intruders or to quell Indian uprisings, they were helping to solve the problem: What shall be the future of the Western Country? By what power shall it be held and ruled? Fort Necessity was a prelude to the Seven Years' war in which almost every nation in Europe was sooner or later involved. The story of the expeditions which one after another passed to and fro through the present counties of Westmoreland and Fayette in the second half of the eighteenth century is a vital part of the gigantic and prolonged contest between England and France for supremacy both in the old world and in the new.

      Three years after Braddock's defeat, another expedition was sent by the English government to expel the French from the "Forks of the Ohio," and capture Fort Duquesne. The force was composed of about six thousand men, regulars and colonials, and was commanded by General John Forbes. Contrary to the advice of Washington, Forbes chose a route north of the Braddock road, cut a new road, afterward called the Glade road, came into Bedford county in September, 1758, and sent Colonel Henry Bouquet, with an advance column of two thousand men, to the Loyalhanna river. Bouquet, in turn, sent Major William Grant, with eight hundred men, most of them Scotch Highlanders, to reconnoiter and, if the way was clear, to seize Fort Duquesne. Grant pushed on until he came to a hill near the fort, where he was attacked by a much superior force of French and Indians, and was defeated with great slaughter, losing more than one-third of his men, and being himself taken prisoner and sent to Montreal. The hill on which this disastrous engagement took place is in the present city of Pittsburgh. On its summit the county court house stands and, in memory of the unhappy event that occurred on it that September day in 1758, the hill is to this day known as "Grant's Hill," while the thoroughfare passing over it bears the name, Grant street.

      On November 25th, Forbes reached Fort Duquesne with his army, and found that the fort had been abandoned and burned the day before. The French garrison, reduced to not more than five hundred men, hearing of Forbes' approach, had fled down the Ohio in boats. Forbes at once hoisted the British flag over the spot. Leaving two hundred men as a garrison, the valiant commander returned to Philadelphia, where he died the following March.

      Fort Duquesne was forever lost to the French. A new structure took its place, to which the name Fort Pitt was given, in honor of the great English statesman who was at the time in control of public affairs as Prime Minister.

      In the Forbes expeditionary force, there are said to have been 2,700 Pennsylvanians and 1,600 Virginians. Among the Virginians, there was a man who was destined. seven years later to settle on the banks of the Yough, and to become famous as the leader of an expedition himself. We refer to William Crawford, at this time about twenty-six-years of age arid a resident of Berkeley county, Virginia. In 1755, the Governor of Virginia had commissioned Crawford as ensign in a company of riflemen, probably on the recommendation of the young man's friend, Colonel George Washington. Though not in the Braddock expedition, as has sometimes been erroneously stated, he rendered important service. For about three years he did frontier duty along the Potomac, acted as a scout, served in the garrison at Cumberland, and was promoted to a lieutenancy.

      When the Forbes expedition was being organized, Washington was given the command of the Virginians, and, by his own act, made Crawford a captain, an act for which he had the Governor's authority. On receiving his commission, Captain Crawford recruited a full company in his own neighborhood and led it in the march westward. After some further military service, he returned to his home in Virginia, and resumed his work as a farmer and surveyor.

      Twelve years or more pass, and Crawford appears again upon the scene as a soldier. He is now living on the Yough. It is 1774 and "Dunmore's war" is going on. Lord Dunmore, the royal governor of Virginia, has marshalled an expedition against the tribes of Indians in the Ohio valley. Scenes of barbarity and savage cruelty have been enacted by these tribes. Far and wide, there has been consternation. The settlements have been raided and ravaged. The whole frontier is in a blaze. The red men resent the encroachments of the whites. They seek revenge for the massacre of their people at Captina and of Logan's family and kindred at Yellow Creek?seek fierce, immediate, indiscriminate revenge.

      Western Pennsylvania is roused. "We have every reason to apprehend that we shall not long be exempt from the calamities of a savage war." The settlers in what is now Washington and Greene counties flee in large numbers, to the east side of the Monongahela, and many flee to the east side of the mountain. The men of this region build forts and blockhouses. One is built at Stewart's Crossings. Valentine Crawford, brother of William, builds what he calls "a very strong blockhouse" on Jacob's creek, and says: "The neighbors, what few of them have not rum away, have joined with me, and we are building a stockade fort at my house." Gilbert Simpson builds a fort on Washington's land where Perryopolis now stands. A dozen forts or more are built in the present county of Fayette, and Valentine Crawford writes to Washington in June, 1774: "If we had not had forts built, there would not have been ten families left this side of the mountains besides what are at Fort Pitt." A large scouting party is sent out after straggling Indians who have been plundering and murdering within four miles of the Monongahela river on the western side; and in this same month of June a company is raised by William Crawford, living at Stewart's Crossings, and taken to Fort Pitt to join the Dunmore expedition.

      Lord Dunmore, "an ambitious, energetic man," musters a strong force, a force of about three thousand border troops. One wing, composed of men from the Holston, Watauga and Kanawha settlements, is commanded by General Andrew Lewis; the other wing, the right or northern, is led by the Earl himself. Lewis assembles his men near the headwaters of the Great Kanawha, and marches them to the mouth of that river at Point Pleasant. Here, October 10, 1774, in early morning, he is attacked by a force of nearly a thousand warriors, led by Cornstalk, the famous Shawnee chief. The battle rages all day long, but it ends in the defeat and retreat of the Indians.

      The right wing of Lord Dunmore's army comes westward by way of Winchester and Cumberland, over the mountains and through our county to Redstone (now Brownsville), thence to Fort Pitt. From Fort Pitt he goes down the Ohio "with a flotilla of a hundred canoes, besides keel-boats and pirogues," to the mouth of the Hockhocking river, builds a stockade there, presses westward to the Scioto, fortifies himself on the Pickaway plains near Chillicothe, sends word to Lewis to join him at this point, and sends out detachments against neighboring Indian towns.

      Among these detachments is one commanded by William Crawford, now a major, who with his company has come with Dunmore's army from Fort Pitt. Lord Dunmore knows and values Crawford. Last year (1773), he visited Crawford, spent some time at his humble home on the banks of the Yough, and probably went with him to look at the land round about, with a view to making an investment. When Lewis was in the Kanawha valley in June, Lord Dunmore had sent word to the officer in command at Fort Pitt: "You could not do better than send Captain William Crawford with what men you can spare to join him, to co-operate with Colonel Lewis, or to strike a blow himself, if he thinks he can do it with safety. I know him to be prudent, active and resolute."

      But, instead of going with the left wing to serve under Lewis, he accompanies the right wing and serves under the Earl of Dunmore. Neither he nor his commander saw much service in the campaign. Crawford is sent to destroy a defiant Indian town, called Salt-lick town, in Franklin county, Ohio, and he destroys it, takes fourteen prisoners and rescues several white captives. But the spirit of the Indians has been "broken by their defeat" at Point Pleasant. A treaty of peace is negotiated, the Indians agreeing to surrender all claim to the lands south of the Ohio.

      So ended Dunmore's war; a short war, less than six months in duration, but one which had great results. It has been truthfully said of this war that "it was the first in the chain of causes that gave us for our western frontier in 1783 the Mississippi and not the Alleghanies." It cowed the northwestern tribes and "kept them quiet for the first two years of the Revolutionary struggle," and allowed the .advance of civilization westward.

      On the 13th day of November, 1774, Crawford arrived at his home at Stewart's Crossings (New Haven), and the next day he wrote Washington: "Sir, I yesterday returned from our late expedition against the Shawanese, and I think we may with propriety say we have had great success, as we made them sensible of their villainy and weakness, and I hope made peace with them on such a footing as will be lasting, if we can make them adhere to the terms of agreement."

      We do not know the names of the men of his company, or anything of the losses which the company may have sustained.


      Fayette county, to use its present name, cordially approved the stand made by the colonies against the aggression of the mother country in 1775. The news of Lexington and Concord, April 19th, 1775, brought forth an outburst of enthusiastic patriotism. Local issues were for the time forgotten. The partisans of Virginia and the partisans of Pennsylvania in the boundary line contention were of one mind as to the sacred cause of American liberty.

      Under the call of the Pennsylvanians, the people of Westmoreland county (Fayette being included in it at that time) met May 16, 1775, at Hannastown, the county seat, and adopted a series of radical and energetic resolutions which amounted almost to a declaration of independence, arranging for the forming of regiments and the taking of measures for defense in case of British invasion, and announcing to the world that they were ready to oppose the acts of "a wicked ministry and a corrupted Parliament" with their "lives and fortunes."

      On the very same day, a meeting, under Virginian auspices, was held in Pittsburgh, at which "the inhabitants of that part of Augusta county that lies on the west side of the Laurel Hill" adopted resolutions of similar import, and appointed a committee of defense. Twenty-eight prominent and influential citizens were put on this committee, several of them being residents of the present Fayette county and one of them, Major William Crawford, being a resident of what is now New Haven.

      During the fall of that year, Crawford recruited a battalion that came in time to be known as the Seventh Virginia Regiment. On the 12th of January, 1776, he was appointed lieutenant-colonel of the Fifth Virginia; and on the 11th of the following October, he was commissioned colonel of the Seventh by act of Congress, his commission dating from August 14th. The men under his command were chiefly from southwestern Pennsylvania, then claimed by Virginia, and some of them were, no doubt, from the Yough region. They were with Washington in the battle of Long Island August 27th, and in the retreat through New Jersey into Pennsylvania. They crossed the Delaware with him that Christmas night when he advanced upon the enemy, though the river was full of floating ice and the air full of blinding sleet and snow. They were in the battle of Trenton the next day, the battle of Princeton January 3d 1777, the battle of the Brandywine September 11th, and that of Germantown October 4th. Crawford, their colonel, was sent out with a detachment of light-armed men acting as scouts during the operations round about Philadelphia, in the fall of that year, in which service Washington said: "He rendered efficient service." In the battle of the Brandywine, "he took an active and prominent part," according to Washington, and "came near being captured"; and in the battle of Germantown, General Reed said that Crawford had proved himself "a very good officer."

      In November of that year, the Congress requested General Washington to send Crawford to Pittsburgh "to take command, under Brigadier-General Hand, of the Continental troops and militia in the Western Department," the savages again becoming troublesome along the border. After going to York, Pennsylvania, where the Congress was then in session and receiving instructions, he came westward to his home at Stewart's Crossings and then to Fort Pitt.

      Washington spoke of him as "a brave and active officer," and the officers of his regiment, on separating from him, presented him with an address in which they said : "We beg leave to take this method of expressing our sense of the warmest attachment to you, and at the same time our sorrow in the loss of a commander who has always been influenced by motives that deservedly gain the unfeigned esteem and respect of all those who have the honor of serving under him. Both officers and soldiers retain the strongest remembrance of the regard and affection you have ever discovered towards them; but as we are well assured that you have the best interest of your country in view, we should not regret, however sensibly we may feel the loss of you, that you have chosen another field for the display of your military talents.

      Permit us, therefore, to express our most cordial wish that you may find a regiment no less attached to you than the Seventh, and that your services may ever be productive of benefit to your country and honor to yourself."

      To this address, Colonel Crawford sent an appropriate and appreciative reply.

      The feelings expressed in this communication from the men of the regiment were, no doubt, the feelings entertained toward Colonel Crawford by all those who, at various times and in various places, served under his command.

      He was courageous and reliable. He interested himself in the comfort of his soldiers. With all his fearlessness and vigor, he was prudent. Indications are not lacking that he had skill in the leadership of men, though it may be he was not capable of large, independent command. He was trusted by those above him, and those under him. He was considerate and kind, and yet firm. In fact, he was a rigid disciplinarian, from all accounts. A credible story is told that a soldier, named Rotruck, who lived on the west side of the Yough river not far above our present borough limits, came home on a furlough to see his sick wife. For some reason, he overstayed his leave of absence. Colonel Crawford, then at home, hearing of the matter, had the man arrested and the case investigated; believing the man guilty of desertion, he ordered that he be shot at once. Tradition adds that the wife came to the Colonel on bended knee, begging the life of her husband, and, finding her entreaties to avail nothing, she pronounced a fearful curse upon him, devoting him to a death of torture and unspeakable horror, and his descendants to lives of imbecility and shame.

      Another regiment, raised in southwestern Pennsylvania in 1777, was the Thirteenth Virginia, often called the "West Augusta Regiment." It was intended for border service, and was raised chiefly through the efforts of Crawford, whom the Governor of Virginia appointed its first Colonel. It was stationed in detachments at various points on the Ohio and Alleghany rivers. Under the authority of Pennsylvania, a company was raised in Westmoreland county in 1776, with Joseph Erwin as its captain. It took part in the battles of Long Island, Trenton, Princeton, Brandywine and Germantown, and was mustered out at Valley Forge, New Year's clay, 1778, its term of enlistment having expired.

      The Eighth Regiment of the Pennsylvania Line consisted of seven companies from Westmoreland county and one from Bedford, was raised in the summer of 1776, and served until the close of the war. Eneas Mackey was the first Colonel; George Wilson, of New Geneva, Fayette county, the first Lieutenant-Colonel. After their death in 1777, Daniel Brodhead became Colonel, and Richard Butler Lieutenant-Colonel.

      The regiment was at Bound Brook, N. J., in the winter and spring of 1777, and a detachment of it was sent that summer with Morgan in his Northern campaign. The regiment was ordered to Fort Pitt afterward. It went, under General McIntosh's directions, to the Wyoming and West Branch valleys to suppress Indian insurrections, and to the mouth of the Beaver and built Fort McIntosh (where the town of Beaver now stands), and to the Muskingum, where they helped to build Fort Laurens.

      In these three regiments?the Seventh and Thirteenth Virginia and the Eighth Pennsylvania?there were many men from the Yough region, probably not a few of them from our own vicinity, and it can be safely asserted that this neighborhood was represented in the independent organizations that from time to time were formed for special service on the frontiers.

      Colonel Crawford took an active part in these border expeditions. He built a stockade fort on the Alleghany river about sixteen miles above Fort Pitt, near the present towns of Parnassus and New Kensington. The fort was directed by General McIntosh to he called Fort Crawford, and Crawford at intervals was in command of it. He went with the expedition that resulted in the building of the forts McIntosh and Laurens and in "several minor expeditions against the Indians." George Rogers Clark wished Crawford to accompany him in his campaign against the Illinois country, but Crawford felt obliged to decline the invitation. Clark came from Williamsburg, Virginia, with a small force, to Redstone (now Brownsville), where he gathered a few recruits, and on the 12th of May, 1778, left Redstone bound for the Falls of the Ohio (Louisville), with about a hundred and fifty soldiers and with about twenty families, on their way to Kentucky, who desired his protection. In due time he reached the Illinois country, captured Kaskaskia and Vincennes, dealt a crushing blow to the Indians and their British allies, extended our territory westward and rendered a most valuable service to his country for all time to come.


      The Indians becoming alarmingly hostile and aggressive in 1780, George Rogers Clark proceeded to raise a force, intending to march to the Wabash country and, if practicable, capture Detroit, the seat and center of the British influence in the Northwest. He went back and forth from the Falls of the Ohio to Fort Pitt seeking troops, but his progress was slow. It is said "he hoped to raise the bulk of his forces" in western Pennsylvania, but from various causes his hopes were not realized. Colonel Crawford, with whom he had served in the Dunmore war, aided him to the best of his ability in securing troops.

      From Westmoreland county, 110 men joined the expedition, some of whom, as we know, belonged to that part of the county which was afterward erected into Fayette; and these 110 men were put under the command of Colonel Archibald Lochry, County Lieutenant. Sixty of the men belonged to Captain Thomas Stokely's Rangers, and fifty of them were new recruits. They went down the Ohio in flat boats to Fort Henry (Wheeling), expecting to join General Clark at that point, but finding that he had gone further down the river, Lochry and his men proceeded to a point some miles below the mouth of the Great Miami, August 24, 1789, where they were surprised by a band of Indians under Joseph Brant and "were all slain or captured with small loss to their assailants. Many of the prisoners, including Lochry himself, were afterwards murdered in cold blood by the Indians."

      Another company of men from Westmoreland, principally from the Yough region, went out to take part in this expedition. The company was recruited chiefly by James Paull, afterward Colonel Paull, of Dunbar township, and was commanded by Captain Benjamin Whaley, of Tyrone township. They floated down the river from Elizabeth to Fort Pitt, and from Fort Pitt, where Captain Isaac Craig's artillery joined them, to the Falls of the Ohio. But, "the other forces failing to assemble," the expedition was abandoned and Captains Whaley and Craig, with their men, came home on foot through Kentucky and Virginia, "encountering innumerable perils and hardships."

      Colonel David Williamson, of Washington county, led a force against the Indians in the Muskingum valley in 1781 and again in 1782. In his second expedition, he fell upon the hapless, peaceful Moravian Indians, "the Christian Indians," and massacred them, a deed of revolting cruelty. It is not known that any soldiers from Fayette county were in either of these expeditions. If there were any, let us hope that they were among the eighteen men who protested against the slaughter of those innocent people, and who withdrew from the scene, calling on God to witness that they abhorred the deed about to be done.

      On the 24th of May, 1782, a force of 480 mounted men assembled at Mingo Bottom, on the Ohio river, about two and a half miles below Steubenville. These men were about to take part in an enterprise in which our own neighborhood was profoundly interested:


      Many of the men were from the Yough, and the leader was the sturdy and well-tested soldier, William Crawford, of Stewart's Crossings, New Haven, now in the fiftieth year of his age. It was an expedition, long felt to be absolutely necessary, to put down the hostile tribes in the neighborhood of the Sandusky river, in what in now Ohio. The fierce Wyandots and Delawares and Shawnees, known as the Sandusky Indians, were bitter enemies of the Americans and, encouraged as they were by the British commandant at Detroit, they kept up an unceasing warfare against the frontier settlements. General Washington said: "I am convinced that the possession or destruction of Detroit is the only means of giving peace and security to the western frontier," and General William Irvine, now in command at Fort Pitt, said: "It is, I believe, universally agreed that the only way to keep Indians from harassing the country is to visit them. But we find, by experience, that burning their empty towns has not the desired effect. . . . They must be followed up and beaten, or the British, whom they draw their support from, totally driven out of their country. I believe if Detroit was demolished, it would be a good step toward giving some, at least temporary, ease to this country."

      This was the belief of Colonel Crawford and, though he had no intention of going with this Sandusky expedition of 1782, he cordially approved and recommended it. There was no difference of opinion as to the necessity of it, and it was "as carefully considered and as authoritatively planned as any military enterprise in the West during the Revolution," its promoters being not only "the principal military and civil officers in the Western Department, but a large proportion of the best known and most influential private citizens."

      The expedition was made up of volunteers from the present counties of Fayette, Westmoreland and Washington, a number of them from the Youghiogheny valley. Colonel Crawford was prevailed upon to go, and with him went his son, his son-in-law, his nephew, and not a few friends and neighbors. On the 16th of May, he made his will, and on Saturday morning, the 18th, he left home, went to Fort Pitt, had an interview with General Irvine, joined the troops at Mingo Bottom on the 24th, was chosen commander by a vote of the men, started into the wilderness Saturday morning, the 25th of May, reached the Sandusky plains in nine days, and on the 4th of June entered one of the Wyandot towns and found it deserted. The same afternoon his army met a British force, called Butler's Rangers, and about 200 Indians. The Indians had learned of the expedition, and had sent runners to Detroit asking help. Captain Matthew Elliott, a tory from Path valley, Pennsylvania, and the notorious Simon Girty, "the white renegade," were with the Indians and British.

      The battle lasted until sundown without marked advantage on either side. Colonel Crawford lost five killed and nineteen wounded; his opponents lost six killed and eight wounded.

      The Americans "slept by their watch-fires in the grove" from which the enemy had been dislodged, and the enemy camped for the night upon the open plain. The next morning neither side made attack, but, in the afternoon, 140 Shawnee warriors, painted and plumed, came from the south and took their position beside the Delawares and Wyandots, while small bodies of savages were seen coming to the scene of conflict. Lieutenant Rose said, "They kept pouring in hourly from all quarters."

      A council of officers was held, and a retreat was decided upon. Fires were burned over the graves of the dead to prevent discovery. Seven of the wounded were put upon
      stretchers. The others, less seriously wounded, were put upon horses. Crawford and his imperilled army began the retreat as the darkness fell, but they were no sooner in motion than the Shawnees and Delawares attacked them, inflicting some loss and causing much confusion.

      Three of the divisions hurried off from the route taken by the advance guard, and some of the men got into a swamp or "cranberry marsh."

      At break of day, the retreating army reached the deserted Wyandot village. Many had become separated from the main body, some of whom were captured by the Indians, while others found their way home through the untenanted forests, but somewhat more than three hundred had been able to keep together.

      Among those who failed to appear when the divisions of the army had come together was Colonel Crawford himself, and no one could give any information concerning him. The surgeon, Dr. Knight, and one of the guides, John Slover, were also missing.

      Major David Williamson was now in command in Crawford's absence, and the retreat was continued. At noon of June 6th, the army found that it was being pursued, and that the pursuers were gaining on it. The woodland had almost been reached when the men began to be pressed by the foe, and at two o'clock in the afternoon they came to a stand on the eastern edge of the Sandusky plains, near Olentangy creek, five miles south of the present town of Bucyrus, in what is now Crawford county, Ohio. A battle followed between the Americans and the allied British and Indians. The Americans were "attacked on the front, left flank and rear," but stood their ground manfully. Then came on "a furious thunder storm," with torrents of rain that rendered much of the powder useless. The battle had lasted but an hour when the enemy withdrew.

      The retreat was continued with occasional skirmishes, the last shot being fired near the present town of Crestline. On the 13th of June, the little army reached Mingo Bottom and crossed the Ohio. The next day they were discharged, and thus a sad and disastrous campaign of only twenty days "came to an end."

      Many of the missing came in afterwards, but Colonel Crawford, who had been separated from his army the night of the retreat of June 5th, was captured; was taken by seventeen Delawares to the Half King's town (Upper Sandusky), thirty-three miles to the west, where the chief painted his face black and started with him and Dr. Knight and other prisoners to a town of the Wyandots, then to a Delaware town on the Little Tymochtee Creek. All the prisoners, except Crawford and Knight, were tomahawked on the way. Near the present town of Crawfordsville, in the northern part of Wyandot county, Ohio, Crawford was put to death amid indescribable tortures and indignities. He was tied to a stake, stripped naked, his hands bound behind him. A fire was made near enough to scorch him. "Powder was shot into his body, and burning fagots shoved against him." His executioners taunted him, Simon Girty, "the white renegade," prominent among them. For two hours he bore his excruciating suffering with unflinching fortitude, "speaking low and beseeching the Almighty to have mercy on his soul." He fell, and the savages scalped him and threw hot coals upon his head. Then he rose blinded, blackened, burnt almost to a crisp, walked once or twice about the stake and fell dead. At sundown, June 11, 1782, the spirit of Crawford passed to rest, while for hours afterward the Indians danced in fiendish glee around his charred and lifeless body.

      The tidings of Crawford's tragic and awful death spread gloom over all the settlements, called forth utterances of deep sorrow from Washington and all his military associates, and darkened the home from which he had reluctantly taken his departure less than a month before.

      A monument, eight and a half feet in height, stands on the spot where the massacre occurred, and bears the following inscription:

      "In memory of Colonel Crawford, who was burned by the Indians in this valley. Erected by the Pioneer Association of Wyandot county, Ohio, August 30, 1877."
    Person ID I14580  Frost, Gilchrist and Related Families
    Last Modified 13 Jul 2020 

    Father Valentine CRAWFORD, Sr.,   b. 1672, DE Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Relationship natural 
    Mother Honora GRIMES,   b. Abt 1683 
    Relationship natural 
    Family ID F6593  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family 1 Hannah VANCE,   b. 11 Apr 1723,   d. 1817, Fayette County, PA Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 93 years) 
    Married Abt 1746  Frederick County, VA Find all individuals with events at this location 
     1. Ophelia CRAWFORD,   b. 2 Sep 1751, Frederick County, VA Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 1825  (Age 73 years)  [natural]
    Last Modified 13 Jul 2020 
    Family ID F6592  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family 2 Ann STEWART,   d. Bef 1746, VA Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Married 1742  VA Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Last Modified 13 Jul 2020 
    Family ID F6595  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart