Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Captured by Native Americans

I recently discovered my 7th great grandparents Noah Frederick and Margaretha Becker were attacked and killed by Native Americans and that their son, my 6th great grandfather Thomas Frederick, was abducted by them. This was in 1756 in an area of Pennsylvania near Jonestown, not too far northeast of Harrisburg, in what was then Earl Township, Lancaster County (now Lebenon County, Earl Township defunct). Thomas would have only been four years old so it's difficult to say if he even remembered the event. By one account, two of his siblings were also taken captive, though I have yet to discover their names (if anyone knows them, please leave a comment!). They could not have been with the Natives for more than two years though, since records say they were released to the French Fort Duquesne, which was destroyed and replaced by Fort Pitt in 1758 and later developed into the city of Pittsburgh.

Thomas, now an orphan, apparently grew up under unknown guardianship in Philadelphia where there was no longer threat of Indian attacks. He later returned to the area of his tragic youth where he married Ann Margaret Tibbens in Bethel, Lancaster County in 1774. Two years later, the Revolutionary War broke out and Thomas joined up, fighting for his nation's independence.

An 1860 map of Centre Township, Columbiana County,
Ohio with Frederick lands outlined in red. J. Frederick was
Thomas' son, John. Thomas may have own all three lots.
Later in life, Thomas made a somewhat surprising move out to Lisbon, Centre Township, Columbiana County, Ohio in 1804. This area was only just beginning to be settled, Ohio had been admitted as a state merely one year prior, and so it was still very much the frontier at the time, still susceptible to Indian attacks. For this reason, land was often cheaply or even freely available as an incentive to settle the land. It seems surprising that Thomas, who had been a victim of such attacks as a child, would uproot his settled family and take up this particular risk. However, as a orphan, Thomas probably inherited nothing and had to make his own way in life. We don't know what his situation in Pennsylvania was like, perhaps his family did not have much to live on and maybe the opportunity to freely or cheaply acquire a lot of land was too good to pass up. He and Margaret had a grand total of 12 children together so they had a lot of mouths to feed. Obviously, Thomas' experience as a child did not stop him from taking a chance and moving out to the frontier. It is this kind of courage and initiative on which America is founded.

To read more and view sources, check out my Frederick Family History.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Interesting Clippings #19: Great Train Wreck of 1856

On July 17, 1856, two trains travelling towards each other on the same line collided between the railway stations of Camp Hill and Fort Washington in Whitemarsh Township, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. At the time, it was the deadliest train accident to have ever occurred and the death count was likely over 60.

This caught my eye because I had several ancestors near Whitemarsh Township at the time, mostly in nearby townships of Cheltenham, Springfield, and Upper Dublin. I often wonder what my ancestors made of such national news happening practically at their doorstep. Later, in 1901, one of my own relatives would die in a train accident around the same area.

The partial article to the left is a clipping from the New York Daily Tribune on July 18, 1856, which had been printed in the Philadelphia Bulletin the day before. You can read the full article for free from the Library of Congress and you can read more about the Great Train Wreck of 1856 on Wikipedia.