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Wyoming Valley

connecticut, susquehanna, settlers, fort and settlements

WYOMING VALLEY. A beautiful and fertile valley in Luzerne County, Pa., along the north branch of the Susquehanna. It is about 21 miles long by 3 wide, and is supposed to have derived its name from the Indian word Maugh a-a wit ma—large plains.' Though early claimed by both Connecticut and Pennsylvania, in virtue of their charters of 1662 and 1681 respectively, it remained unsettled by the whites until 1703, when the Susquehanna Company of Connecticut, which had been formed in 1753, and had purchased the land from the Indians in 1754, sent out a number of settlers, who, however, were either massacred or driven away by the Indians in the same year (October 14, 1763). in 1768 Penn sylvania also bought the tract from the Indians, and dividing it into the 'Alanor of Stoke' and the 'Manor of Sunbury,' established a settlement (1709) through two lessees, Ogden and Stewart. Almost simultaneously another party from Con necticut arrived and for two years there an almost continual conflict, each party being sev eral times ejected by the other, until in 1771, Connecticut's claim having been confirmed by the the Susquehanna Company was left in control. In 1773 the valley was erected by Con necticut into a chartered town under the name Westmoreland. In 1775 the militia of North umberland County, Pa.; made an abortive attack on a small settlement along the west branch of the Susquehanna. and in the same year. the Revo lutionary War having broken out, the settlers expelled a few of their number, who were Tories, and voted in town meeting "that we will unani mously join our brethren of Connecticut in the common cause of defending our country." The

expelled Tories, assisted by an additional white force and 700 Indians—the total force number ing about I100—ma rdred against the isolated settlements in the summer of 1778. The set tlers. warned of their approach, took refuge in `Forty Fort.' near the present Wilkes-Barre. hut on July 3d 400 of them—nearly all the males—attacked the invaders and were com pletely defeated, two-thirds of their number being killed or captured and the rest taking refuge in the fort. Many of the prisoners were tortured and killed, partly by the Indian squaws. and on the following day the fort surrendered. No more lives were taken, but the settlements were thoroughly devastated, and the inhabitants, en deavoring to reach the nearest settlements, suf fered terrible hardships, a hundred women per ishing of fatigue and starvation in a swamp since known as the 'Shades of Death.' The settlers returned in small numbers, but after the war the old controversy between Connecticut and Pennsyl vania was renewed. In 1782 Congress decided in favor of Pennsylvania, but eontlicts continued among the settlers until 1788, when the Pennsyl vania Legislature confirmed their various titles. The long conflict between Connecticut and Pennsylvania is sometimes called the Pennamite Yankee War (or Wars). A granite obelisk op posite Wilkes-Barre marks the site of the of July 3, 1778. Consult: Miner, History of (Philadelphia, 1845) ; Stone. Poetry and History of Wyoming (New York, 1844) ; and Hoyt, Serenteen Townships in the Comity of Luzerne (Harrisburg, 1879).