The Valley of the Big Cove
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This Particular section of Pennsylvania is somewhat obscure. We make a small splash in the stream of events. We advance slowly. Our Main Street is a little more intensely Main Street than in many small communities.
We are tucked in snugly between two mountains, Tuscarora and Sidling Hill, in the Blue Ridge Range, the valley at the widest point being four miles, cradled as it were, secure and isolated, hearing only the echo of the footsteps of progress; independent in the sense that there are no very rich among us and none very poor. We do not demand too much and have little for outsiders to covet.
We are surrounded by the beauty of the hills; Springtime teems with sights and smells and sound of new life; Summer is glorious with growing things; Autumn arrives slowly until October presents us with a pageant of all the marvelous coloring that nature can conjure, then tones into neutral shades soon followed by the sparkling tang of late November when shortly our small world is clothed, hill and valley, in snow.
Our mountains are so near us that we belong to them, and yet there is a difference between the people who live on them and those who abide in the valley.
It is an agricultural country entirely. There are no railroads or factories in our towns. We are dependent upon our immediate vicinity for our religious and social life and for our diversions.
Readers and the well-informed are here in a surprising number and this is responsible for the progress we have made.
This valley, running north and south and known as the Big Cove, was settled in 1734 by the Scotch-Irish before the Colonial Government had acquired title to the land from the Indians. Time and again, the settlers were driven out by the Indians and also by the Colonials. They would cross Tuscarora to Fort Loudon for protection.
The first death among the settlers was that of a Mrs. Kendall, who was buried on what is known as the Logan Farm.
The pioneers persisted in returning and in 1754 the Colonial Government acquired title to the land by treaty with the Indians.
The names of some of these first settlers were Kendall, Galloway, McConnell, Gibson, Logan, Sloan, Patterson, Hunter, Johnston, Taggart, Agnew, Rankin, Kerr, Lowrie, Stevens, Strong and Duffield.
It is said that my two great grandfathers, William Patterson and William Hunter, arrived in this valley on the same day in 1765, meeting on top of Tuscarora Mountain.
The people who settled some fourteen miles north of McConnellsburg built a little town. The Colonials, after frequent warnings to them, came in and burned all their cabins and to this day the place is called Burnt Cabins. Among those who were driven out were two brothers named Galloway--likely our relatives.
There is evidence of two or three Indian trails in this vicinity, one going north and south, one in the meadow grounds and one from Cove Gap coming westward over the mountain to Webster Mills--this one I have been over on horseback.
From a "History and Topography of Dauphin, Cumberland, Franklin, Bedford, Adams, and Perry Counties" by I. Daniel Rupp, published in 1846, and from "The Indian Chiefs of Pennsylvania" by C. Hale Sipe, printed in 1927, I quote the following:
"The Indian Chief Shingas, known as King Shingas, was a noted chief of the Turkey Clan of Delaware and a brother of Chief Beaver.
"Conococheague, Big Cove, Sherman's Valley and other frontier settlements felt his strong arm--cruel his treatment, relentless his fury; in point of courage, activity and savage prowess, he was said to be excelled by none. In 1756 his home was in Kittanning.
"On October 31, 1755, Shingas began incursions into Fulton County which--with other incursions, made his name 'a terror to the frontier settlements of Pennsylvania'."
The following letter is recorded in both the above mentioned publications:
"Benjamin Chambers from Falling Spring, Pennsylvania, on November 2nd, wrote the following 'to the inhabitants of the lower part of the County of Cumberland':
"'If you intend to go to the assistance of your neighbors you need wait no longer for the certainty of the news. The Great Cove is destroyed; James Campbell left his company last night, going to the fort at Mr. Steel's meeting house and there saw some of the people of the Great Cove who gave the account that as they came over the hill they saw their houses in flames. The messenger says there are but a hundred (Indians) and they are divided in two parts; the one going against the Cove and the other against the Conolloways (Big and Little Conolloway Creeks in the southern part of the valley) and that there are no French among them. They are Delawares and Shawnees. The part that came against the Cove is under the command of Shingas the Delaware King. The people of the Cove that came off saw several men lying dead and they heard the murder shout and firing of guns and saw the Indians going into the house they had left a short time before. I have sent express to Marsh Creek at the same time I send this so I expect there will be a good company there this day....I think it is within our power (if God permit) to put them to flight, if you turn out well from your parts.'"
Two other letters written by John Armstrong and Adam Hoops from Franklin County to Governor Morris and dated November 2nd and November 3rd, relate practically the same story:
"Among the outrages committed by Shingas during the above incursions was the capture of the family of John Martin, a settler in the Big Cove near Cove Creek. It was Saturday morning, November 1, 1755. Mr. Martin was away from home. He and a seventeen year old son, Hugh, escaped but Mrs. Martin, two sons and three daughters were captured. Mr. Martin eventually (after nine years) recovered his family, except Mary who had died. In this same incursion but some distance from the Cove, occurred the capture of the Knox family. Little Jane Knox was some time later recovered and returned to the settlements. She became the wife of Hugh Martin mentioned above. Later Hugh Martin was one of the Commissioners who located the first court house in Greensburg."
A Packers Path from Baltimore through Cove Gap and over Sidling Hill Mountain going West was in use when James Buchanan was a boy. The pack horses were generally led in divisions of twelve or fifteen horses (or mules), carrying about two hundred weight each, all going single file and being managed by two men, one going before as the leader and one at the tail to look after the safety of the packs. They were usually furnished with bells which were kept from ringing during the day drive, but were let loose at night when the horses were set free to feed and browse.
Introduction … by David Hunter Patterson
Chapter 1 … The Valley of the Big Cove
Chapter 2 … The Tall Oaks & Towering Pines of Gallant Little Fulton
Chapter 3 … The Pattersons and the Hunters
Chapter 4 … Concerning Some of my Forbears
Chapter 5 … Childhood Memories
Chapter 6 … Some Church History
Chapter 7 … Boyhood Days
Chapter 8 … I Go Away to School
Chapter 9 … Incidents of the Civil War
Chapter 10 … Springfield - Graduation
Chapter 11 … Your Mother
Chapter 12 … A Quaker Family of Western Pennsylvania
Chapter 13 … From 1870 to 1880
Chapter 14 … Home Again at Webster Mills
Chapter 15 … The Centennial - I Buy a Farm and get into Politics
Chapter 16 … Last Years in the Old Home
Epilogue … by Elizabeth Patterson Neeson
This website is part of the USGenWeb Project for Pennsylvania and is the county level site for Fulton County, Pennsylvania research.
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This page was last updated on Monday, 10-Sep-2018 09:15:10 MDT
Address all comments or questions about this webpage to Bill Patterson