Walker Family

Isaac Walker of Walker Mill, PA
Presented with notes by Charles M. Ewing – Revised 1994 by Jerry D. Leeper

The following narrative was written at an early date by Isaac Walker, of Walkers Mill, Penna.  While but a small scrap in the records of the western movement as a whole, it is, however, an important contribution to the perspective of that horrible picture of the Indian wars as they affected our pioneer stock.  The narrative as now presented is a verbatim copy of the original manuscript.  When the transcript was made some fourty years ago, the original document was in the possession of the late Mr. William Green, of Boyce Station, Penna.

Gabriel and Isaac Walker were born in Lancaster County, Penna.  Gabriel in 1735 and Isaac in 1746.  They emigrated in 1772 and purchased land adjacent to and west of the Ewing tract.  Gabriel built his cabin on Robinson Run, and Isaac built his near the confluence on Scott’s Run and Robinson Run.  For several years after settlement Isaac traveled back and forth to Lancaster Co. in the fall and spring for lead, tinware, axes, etc., which at that time were much in demand, the country being an unbroken wilderness.  The only means of conveyance was by pack horse, the road, only a trail over the mountains and through the valleys.

Col. H. Benton has said: “The Buffalo and the Elk were the first engineers in the art of road making.”  In 1779 Isaac married Mary (Stewart) Richardson, whose husband had been killed by the Indians on the Loyal Hanna.  He brought his new wife to his western cabin where they settled down to the joys and hardships of pioneer life.  (Note) Gabriel Walkers cabin was located near the present Rennerdale Station, and Isaac’s near the old Walker home at Walkers Mill.  Mrs. Richardson’s husband, William Richardson, was tomahawked and scalped by the Indians, November 2, 1777, three miles from Ligonier, PA.

“Shortly before this the Revolutionary War broke out and the Indians were incited by the British government to make war on our white settlers.  A reward of $8.00 apiece was offered for every scalp taken.  This barbarity continued to the close of the war, and was a disgrace to the English nation.” WALKER 39

“In September, 1782 a band of Indians, about twenty-five in number, approached the cabin of Gabriel Walker.  They concealed themselves nearby, intending to surprise the family at dinner.  An intervention of providence saved them from destruction, two travelers with guns on their shoulders came at this time, Indians are a cowardly race, and these waited to do their bloody work until the travelers and extra guns had taken their departure.  Before this occurrence, however, the younger members of the family including the bound boy Bill Harkins, were send to hoe Timothy Grass in a field near the house.  After seeing the strangers leave, Mr. Walker started to the field, and while on his way saw the Indians creeping toward the children.  He called to them to run as the Indians were coming.  They started to run but were soon captured by the Indians.  Five children were taken prisoners, but Mr. Walker made his escape.  Two Indians pursued Bill Harkins, but not being swift on foot ran to the corn field and through it to Robinson Run, which stream he followed down to the Ewing Fort over two miles away, where he spread the alarm.”

“Mrs. Walker was in the house with two children when the alarm was given, she started to make he escape, snatching up her baby to run, but the other child said, “Mother don’t leave me for the Indians,” so she grasped them both, and under the cover of the high weeds back of the house she managed to conceal herself and so made her way to the fort.  Young Harkins in his flight also gave the alarm to Isaac Walker, who also with his family made their way to the fort.”

(Note) This fort or blockhouse was on the property of James Ewing, and was located on the hill north of, and overlooking present Fort Pitt Station.  The original Ewing cabin was located near the fort, and was recorded in the land patents as “Ewing’s Delight.”  A millwright by trade, Mr. Ewing constructed a grist mill in the valley, below his home in 1774.  Traces of the millrace are yet apparent paralleling the Pennsylvania Railroad.  “This fort was built by James Ewing, born in Cecil County Maryland, and emigrated west in 1770.  His claim, situated on Robinson Run, extended from the western boundary of what is Chartiers Borough to Walkers Mills, a distance of two miles, and back to Thornburg’s line, embracing in this one trace over one thousand areas.”

“Indians pillaged the cabin of Gabriel Walker, ripping open beds , and taking such things as they wanted, set it on fire and burned it to the ground.  They then assembled for a general attack on the fort, which had just been started when providence again intervened, by the timely arrival of several men from Millers Run, among who was Capt. Joseph Casnet.  The Indians after a consultation murdered to two youngest boys, eight and twelve years old, in sight of the fort, and left their scalped and bleeding bodies upon the ground.”

“Then they departed in a northwesterly direction with their captives, James, seventeen, Martha, fifteen, Mary, thirteen.  After going a short distance they set fire to a cabin on Brackenridge farm, now owned by Miller and McBride.  They continued their journey single file, and were extremely careful to cover up their tracks so that the white men could not follow them.  They cut the young ladies’ clothing off at the knees to expedite traveling.  In this way they journeyed on, camping tat night at the head-waters of Robinson Run, where they feasted on green corn, which was visible to the settler who followed their trail the next morning.  Continuing on they reached the Ohio River and at or near Logstown, where their canoes were hidden.  All north of the river at that time was called Indian country, and few men had courage to explore its virgin soils, always going to it in a body and took care to be well armed.”

(Note)  With Logstown their place of rendezvous it is quite obvious that the Indians camped and had their feast of green corn, at the headwaters of the north branch of Robinson Run, which enters the main stream at Oakdale, Pa.

“The news of the massacre and capture spread among the settlers.  Messengers were sent out far and near to the inhabitants, who gathered next day at the fort.  A band numbering between fourty and fifty men was organized, among them were John Henry, James Ewing, Peter Hickman and John Conners.  After consultation they appointed John Henry their leader.  They then appealed to the bereaved mother who told them: “Go bring them dead or alive.”

(Note)  Earlier in the narrative Mr. Walker mentions a Captain Joseph Casnet arriving at the fort with the settlers from Millers Run.  This is no doubt Captain Joseph Casnet who is recorded in the Pennsylvania Archives as commanding Washington County Militia at that time, it was in Virginia not becoming part of Pennsylvania until 1785.  The Militia Laws at that time, asides from their commission of rank, extended a very limited authority to officers.  This coupled with the then burning political issue as to whether Capt. Casnet was a Pennsylvania or a Virginia adherent may account for the appointment of John Henry as leader of the party.

“They followed the trail with caution for fear of ambuscade, but finally they reached the Ohio at Logstown, where they saw Indians crossing the river, they fired upon the last canoe killing one and wounding another Indian.  The prisoners did tell after their return home, that they were not all over the river when their rescuers came to it, but were hid in the brush and tree tops.  The Indian with uplifted tomahawks threatened death should they make the least outcry.  Sometimes the white men were so close they could almost touch them.  The scalps of the two white-haired boys were carried along by the Indians, and at night while sitting around their campfires, the prisoners were compelled to scrap the flesh from them in order to dry them.  Not being pursued after they crossed the river, they traveled at their leisure toward Canada, and in about two weeks reached Detroit.  They were kept until war ended, when they were exchanged for British prisoners.

They were sent by sea to the port of Philadelphia.  From there they crossed the mountains on their way homeward, in rough road wagons, until they reached their parents, from whom they had been separated for two years, and who had given them up for dead.  The joy of their meeting surely can only be imagined, not described by either tongue or pen.”

Young James Walker while with the Indians, often accompanied them in their expeditions, with their ponies and horses.  On one occasion he was loading a horse belonging to a chief, when by some mischance the horse stepped on the foot of the chief.  Smarting with pain, he turned and hit him on the head with his tomahawk, knocking him senseless.  He soon recovered sufficiently to walk, but always afterward talked through his nose.  He died on his farm near Hays Crossing, Pa. about the year 1844.”

(Note)  Hays Crossing is the first railroad crossing east of Gregg Station near Rennerdale, Pa.  Some months after the narrated events, Bill Harkins and a slave belonging to James Ewing were killed by Indians near present Gregg Station, while rounding up stray cattle.

“We owe a debt to Isaac Walker for the narrative he has bequeathed to our use.  Many wilderness tragedies went unrecorded.  This is our everlasting misfortune.  The pen of Isaac Walker has, however, contributed to our understanding of the price of blood and treasurer that our forefathers paid for the freedom we now enjoy.”

………. A Gabriel Walker cabin, is still in existence in Allegheny Co., Pa. and is located in Settler’s Cabin Regional Park, which is located on the property, that Gabriel owned in 1772.  Gabriel served in the Revolutionary War as 2nd Class/Pa. 2nd  Batt’n. Washington Co. Militia, under Capt. Joseph Cessna.  Gabriel was much involved in the “Whiskey Rebellion” in the fall of 1794 and was arrested by Washington’s Army and taken to Philadelphia, along with his brother Isaac Walker, they were released on May 12, 1795 and allowed to return home after promising to pay the dreaded taxes that was imposed by the Continental Congress.  It was common for stills to be on plantations of western Pennsylvania, as this was sometimes the only source of hard currencies, which came mostly from eastern Pennsylvania.

Gabriel Walker - Born - December 5, 1735

Gabriel Walker – Born December 5, 1735 in Lancaster Co, Pennsylvania – died November 4, 1799 in Walkers Mill, Allegheny Co. Pennsylvania —  Married November 19, 1761 in Middle Octoraro, Pennsylvania by the Rev. John Cuthbertson to Margaret Bell – born 1740 in Lancaster Co., Pennsylvania – Died April 8, 1815 in Walkers Mill, Allegheny Co., Pennsylvania.  Both buried at Union Presbyterian Church cemetery in Robinson Township, Allegheny Co., Pennsylvania

James Walker Sr. - Born 1765

James Walker Sr. – Born 1765 in Lancaster Co., Pa. – died in 1845 in Allegheny Co., Pa. – Married to Margaret Algeo – born 1771 – died July 13, 1859 in Allegheny Co. Pa. – Daughter of Will and Margaret (Levens) Algeo.  He was captured by the Indians as a young man and held captive by the British until the end of the Revolutionary War.  Both buried in the Union Presbyterian Church Cemetery in Allegheny County, Penna.

Martha Walker - Born 1767

Martha Walker – born 1767 in Lancaster Co., Pa. – Married March 29, 1785 in Dauphin Co., Pa. to William Stewart – born October 21, 1757 in Paxtang, Pa. – died May 29, 1829 in Allegheny Co., Pa.  Son of Hugh and Hannah (Dallas) Stewart.  They had nine children.  William served in the Revolutionary War as Ens./Pa. Dauphin Co., Pa. – Martha was taken captive by the Indians and held as a prisoner until after the war.

Mary Walker - Born 1769

Mary Walker – born in 1769 in Lancaster Co., Pa. – died prior to April 18, 1815 in Allegheny Co., Pa. – Married in Allegheny Co., Pa. to Matthew McGregor – born in Ireland – died after August 28, 1830 and prior to April 11, 1831 in Allegheny Co., Pa. – Served in Revolutionary War 7th Class in Capt. Joseph Cessna’s Company in the 2nd Batt. Washington Militia. – Mary was taken captive by the Indians and held as a prisoner until after the war.

Gabriel Walker. - Born ca. 1771

Gabriel Walker – born ca 1771 in Lancaster Co., Pa. – baptized February 29, 1772 at Old Swedes Church in Wilmington Delaware – died September 1782 in Allegheny Co., Pa. – buried in the Walker family burying lot next to the old Walker home, from Noblestown and the foot of Walker’s Lane (later the post office corner in Rennerdale, Walkers Lane was later named Sunnyside Avenue) within site of the Old Walker School located about 2 blocks north of Noblestown Road located on the McKnown property. – He was killed by an Indian raid at age 12, when his brother and sisters were taken captive.

John Walker - Born 1774

John Walker – born 1774 in Allegheny Co., Pa. – died September 1782 in Allegheny Co., Pa. – buried in the Walker family burying lot next to the old Walker home, from Noblestown and the foot of Walker’s Lane (later the post office corner in Rennerdale, Walkers Lane was later named Sunnyside Avenue) within site of the Old Walker School located about 2 blocks north of Noblestown Road located on the McKnown property. – He was killed by an Indian raid at age 8, when his brother and sisters were taken captive.