Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from John Harris, 31 October 1755

From John Harris5

Copy: Library Company of Philadelphia

Paxton Octor. 31st. 1755


I inclose you the Deposition of a Person the Contents you please to observe.6 I have not yet moved my Family, not caring to discourage others.7 We Expect the Enemy every hour. I have cut holes thro’ my house and kept some Men to defend the same as I had information at Shawmokin that about 40 Indians were out many days from Fort Du Quesne to destroy my House and Family and am determined to hold out to the last Extremity hoping for Protection from the Province soon. The french intend to take possession of this River soon upwards and this Body of Indians is out to burn all before them take off our Provisions &c. which if suffered will be our Ruin. It was happy I hope for us my Journey to Shamokin tho’ with much loss and fatigue for their Scheme in all probability would not have been found out till put in Execution. Our Inhabitants seem spirited up to Assist in defending themselves8 and if the province would take possession of this River upwards and build a strength in spite of all opposition I imagine a Number of Persons will go and Assist at their own Expence. You may depend such an Enterprize shall meet with all the Encouragement that is in the Power of Sir Your most Obedient humble servant

John Harris

P.S. I am just inform’d that Montour9 and some Indians will be here tomorrow with a Scalp of one of the Indians my party of Men killed the 24th Instant and that the Indians there wants a Quantity of ammunition to defend themselves but I hope if any Granted that there will be Englishmen sent to assist in using it. Sir Yours


[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

5On John Harris of Paxtang, founder of Harrisburg, see above, V, 283 n.

6Probably the declaration of Adam Terrence, Oct. 26, 1755, about the doubtful loyalty of the Delawares. Pa. Col. Recs., VI, 648–9. See also I Pa. Arch., II, 451, in which citizens of Lancaster, writing Governor Morris, Nov. 1, 1755, enclosed “a copy of an Affidavit, the original whereof was sent by John Harris to Mr. Franklin,” but did not indicate its subject.

7Harris reported to Governor Morris, October 28, that when he heard of the Indian raid on Penn’s Creek he went up with a party of men to assess conditions and encourage the friendly Indians. On his return, the 25th, he had been attacked by twenty to thirty Indians with resulting casualties on both sides. He mistrusted the natives at Paxtang, adding “there is no dependance on Indians, and we are in emminent Danger.” Writing on October 29 to Edward Shippen, he declared that he expected the enemy every day and proposed that “as soon as we are prepared for them we must bid up for Scalps and keep the Woods full of our People hunting them or they will ruin our Province, for they are a Dreadful Enemy.” Pa. Col. Recs., VI, 654–6.

8But he had told Shippen two days before that the inhabitants were discouraged because no aid was forthcoming and that they were abandoning their farms.

9On Andrew Montour, see above, V, 64 n. He gave warning of an Indian attack; and Harris and nine others that very night called on all able-bodied men “to repair immediately to the Frontiers with all our Forces to intercept their Passage into our Country, and to be prepared in the best manner possible for the worst event.” Pa. Col. Recs., VI, 669. Committees in Lancaster and York Counties responded at once with appeals to the governor for arms and ammunition. I Pa. Arch., II, 448–51.

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