Revolutionary War affected settlers in Chartiers Valley
The third talk in our series “Bridgeville Remembered” was presented Dec. 13 at the Bridgeville Public Library. Subtitled “The War Years – 1774 to 1783,” it focused on the impact of the Revolutionary War on the settlers in the Chartiers Valley.
The series, a comprehensive look at local history, proceeding from pioneer days to the present, is a joint project of the library and the Bridgeville Area Historical Society.
This talk attracted an audience of about three dozen history buffs, including Christian Lesnett and his uncle, Woody Lesnett. Christian is the eighth generation of his family. He and his uncle are proud of their pioneer ancestors. It was quite rewarding for us to hear their comments regarding the first Lesnetts in this area.
The talk began with a recap of the previous month's presentation – the arrival of the Lesnetts, the Boyces, the Fawcetts and the Heckmans in the Chartiers Valley and the dispute between Pennsylvania and Virginia regarding sovereignty in this area.
John Murray, the fourth Earl of Dunmore, replaced Gov. Dinwiddie in 1770 as head of the colony of Virginia. After a successful campaign against the Indians in 1774, Dunmore forced Chief Cornstalk to sign a treaty ending hostilities.
He then stopped long enough at Fort Pitt to install a subordinate, Dr. John Connolly, there as commandant. Early in January 1775, Connolly renamed it Fort Dunmore, and initiated a number of measures establishing Virginia's claim to the area. His aggressive actions revived the debate between the two colonies over control of the Ohio Country. The dispute was still escalating when events in Massachusetts in mid-April precipitated the formal beginning of the Revolutionary War. Connolly and Lord Dunmore were exposed as Royalists and forced to flee on a British man-of-war vessel.
The situation in the Chartiers Valley changed dramatically when the Revolutionary War began in 1775. Instead of being responsible for protecting them against the Indians, the British Army was now their enemy. General Harry Hamilton, commandant at Fort Detroit, was accused of inciting the Indians against the settlers by paying a bounty for scalps –“ten bucks for an adult male, five bucks for a woman or child” – earning him the nickname “The Hair Buyer.”
The settlers responded by forming local militias. Christian Lesnett's name appears on the roster of four different militia companies at different times – those commanded by Captain Andrew Van Swearingen, Captain Bilderbock, Captain William Hoagland, and Captain David Reed. Captain Reed's roster also includes Francis Lesnett, Frederick Lesnett, Richard Boyce, Adam Heckman, and John Fawcett. Heckman also is listed as a member of Stockley's Rangers and Captain Robert Ramsey's Company.
In July 1776, the Continental Congress authorized the organization of the Eighth Pennsylvania Regiment of the Continental Line.
By December, it was obvious that Gen. Washington needed the Eighth more desperately than did the frontier; they marched across Pennsylvania in the dead of a severe winter and joined him in New Jersey in 1777 where they participated in a number of battles.
The Eighth spent the winter of 1777-78 at Valley Forge before being sent back west to continue its original mission. We have no proof that any of the settlers in this area were part of the Eighth during the years they were with General Washington, but it does appear to be highly likely.
The next talk in this series is scheduled for 7 p.m., Jan. 10, in the Community Room of the Bridgeville Public Library.
John Oyler, a columnist for Trib Total Media, can be reached at 412-343-1652 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Bids coming in for Bridgeville sewer projects
- Lauded doctor has ties to Carnegie area
- iPads will help South Fayette students learn at school, home
- Organizer hopes to widen South Fayette’s Circle of Friends
- Oyler: Readers’ responses to columns warm the heart
- Carnegie elementary students gear up for STEEL campaign
- Feedback sought for Chartiers Valley school project
- Oyler: Allegheny County tax map leads to historical train trip
- Carnegie’s Volunteer Fire Department 5K gets green light despite closures
- Police to direct some Carnegie traffic during Parkway West work
- Carnegie blues festival plans cause tension