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- In 1842, Wyoming County was created from part of Luzerne County . The name "Wyoming" is derived from an Indian word meaning "extensive meadows." With its glistening streams, gently rolling hills and tranquil valleys, Wyoming County is undoubtedly one of Pennsylvania's most scenic counties.
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When did the settlers come to the Wyoming Valley?
Early history By the 1700s, the Wyoming Valley was inhabited by several Native American tribes (including the Susquehannock and the Delaware). In the mid-18th century, Connecticut settlers ventured into the valley. These were the first recorded Europeans in the region.
Wyoming County, Pennsylvania In 1762 settlers from New England came to the Wyoming Valley, but were driven out by the Indians. It was not until after the Sullivan expedition in 1779 that families were able to establish a permanent settlement in the Tunkhannock area. In 1842, Wyoming County was created from part of Luzerne County.
- Penn’s Grant
- Conflicting Grants
- The First Yankee-Pennamite War
- The Revolutionary War & The Battle of Wyoming
- The Decree of Trenton
- Second Yankee-Pennamite War
- Early Immigration & Settlement
- Judge Jesse Fell
- The Development of The Coal Industry
To understand the numerous conflicts involving the settlement of the Wyoming Valley, it helps to understand the famous grant that gave William Penn the right to own and administer Pennsylvania. In 1681, in settlement of a large debt owed to Penn’s late father, Admiral Penn, the Duke of York arranged for King Charles II to grant to William Penn a charter for a huge area of land west of the Delaware River; land the English King called Pennsylvania (Penn’s Woods) - roughly 350 miles by 160 miles. Penn spent relatively little time in Pennsylvania, and all of that time creating Philadelphia, establishing a colonial government for Pennsylvania, and distributing parcels of land (called Manors) to family and friends. Although William Penn never traveled more than forty miles from the center of Philadelphia his authority over all of the lands given to him under the grant was dominant - or so Penn and his family believed. As the population of Pennsylvania expanded west and northwest from Phil...
Although Penn’s family was not aware of it, the Wyoming Valley, clearly in the area contained in Penn’s grant, was also claimed by Connecticut by right of the charter given to Governor John Winthrop Jr. in 1662. Connecticut’s charter stated that lands from sea-to-sea were all part of Connecticut. Because the King knew little about his colonies, and nothing at all about geography, Connecticut and Pennsylvania claimed the same territory in what is now Northeastern Pennsylvania. More than a decade before the war with England began; Connecticut adventurers began to explore the Wyoming Valley. This beautiful river valley, from three to six miles wide and with many thousands of acres of relatively flat, fertile farm land, stretching for as many as twenty-five miles between two splendid mountain ranges, was an Eden for the native tribes that occupied the valley, and a splendid “new home” for the settlers from Connecticut. Because of rapid settlement into Connecticut, and with farm land at...
The Yankees stayed put in Connecticut for five years. In late winter of 1769, shortly after a militia sent by the Penn family (known as Pennamites) arrived to maintain the trading post established by Captain Amos Ogden two years earlier, forty Connecticut Yankees arrived on the banks of the Susquehanna River, followed by three hundred more in April. Those forty Yankees eventually gave their name to the community of Forty Fort (the fort of forty). With 300 aggressive settlers, the Connecticut Yankees were then the dominant players in the settlement of the valley. By the end of that first summer, the Yankees had established five townships – Pittston, Plymouth, Wilkes-Barre, Nanticoke (later Hanover) and Forty Fort (later Kingston) – and had built Fort Durkee. Historians tell us that all these town names were chosen to honor prominent English places or individuals. One local historian, Sally Teller Lottick, has speculated “The Connecticut settlers may have believed that if their confli...
Once the Revolutionary War began in 1776, the men of the Wyoming Valley were called upon to serve in the Continental Army. While the men of the valley were away, a contingent of British troops and their Indian partners entered the valley. The famous Battle of Wyoming took place on July 3, 1778. Foolishly, a much smaller American force decided to leave the security of their fort to meet the British and the Indians on the open field of battle. In less than thirty minutes, the Americans were severely routed by the British and their Indian fighters. Those who were able to outrun the Indians made their way back to the fort, but many men were captured and put to death. On July 4, 1778, British Major John Butler demanded the surrender of all forts. In return for agreeing not to fight for the American side, the settlers were allowed to leave the valley. During the next summer, in retaliation for the July 4th massacre following the Battle of Wyoming, American forces under the command of Gene...
At the conclusion of the Revolutionary War, both Pennsylvania and Connecticut claimed ownership of the Wyoming Valley. Congress was asked to decide on the legal owner. With the Decree of Trenton on December 30, 1782, the federal government officially decided that the Wyoming Valley belonged to Pennsylvania. With the decision of the Decree of Trenton in their favor, Pennsylvania then ruled that the Yankees were not citizens of the Commonwealth, could not vote, and were to give up their property claims.
This action by Pennsylvania led to the start of the Second Yankee-Pennamite War. In May of 1784, the Yankees were forcibly and very cruelly marched away from the valley. In November, the Yankees returned with a considerable force and captured and destroyed Fort Dickinson. With that victory, Captain John Franklin proposed a creative solution by suggesting that a new state, separate from Connecticut and Pennsylvania be created. He proposed to call that new state Westmoreland. Recognizing that a compromise was required to resolve the considerable disagreements and hostilities, and not wanting to give up any part of Pennsylvania to a new state, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania reversed its earlier decision and agreed that Yankee property claims prior to the Decree of Trenton should be honored. The Yankees accepted this proposal. As part of the compromise that ended the Second Yankee-Pennamite War, Pennsylvania separated a significant new county from what had been Northumberland County (...
Now that peace and some order had been established by the creation of the new county, life in Northeastern Pennsylvania became rather ordinary, if that term can be used for the settlement of America that was rapidly occurring up and down the Atlantic Seaboard. Luzerne County was rural, and destined to stay that way. It was not inaccessible, but it was certainly not easy to get in or out. The Susquehanna River was a treacherous waterway, and the mountains on all sides were daunting. Once a settler was established in the valley, life was challenging, but it was no more challenging than any other place on the American frontier. Life was tough, but these settlers had come a long way from their homes and villages in Europe to seek opportunity in America. This beautiful Wyoming Valley was just one of hundreds of splendid places filled with opportunity in this new land that welcomed settlers. According to Dr. Paul Zbiek, the valley’s population increased from fewer than 2,000 residents in...
Even before significant settlement of the valley began; early explorers had encountered a new form of coal - anthracite - that was abundant along the banks of the Susquehanna River throughout its length in the Wyoming Valley. However, because this “stone coal” was as hard as granite, it simply would not burn or maintain a fire. There was plenty of this ultra hard coal throughout Northeastern Pennsylvania, but no one had yet discovered a way to make any money from it. Yes, blacksmiths were using it to fire their small forges, and some of the coal was used to fire iron forges during the revolutionary war, but for the most part, anthracite was a valuable commodity without a good use.
Historians mark the date February 11, 1808 as the day on which Judge Jesse Fell produced his invention of an iron grate that would maintain a fire using anthracite coal - “using air currents in motion by the heat of the fire itself.” Although it is likely that Judge Fell’s invention was not the first grate to successfully burn anthracite, because it was the first iron grate in the Wyoming Valley to successfully burn anthracite, this invention marked the beginning of a new era, and the end of a quiet rural life for everyone who lived in the valley.
Just because a way had been found to burn anthracite in homes did not mean that anthracite, despite its advantages over soft coal and firewood, became an over night success. Pennsylvania’s anthracite fields were remote and located in deep river valleys surrounded by the significant Appalachian Mountains. Getting anthracite to market was, at first, nearly impossible because the Susquehanna River was so treacherous. Even when a boat load of coal did reach a distant market, imported coal from England or Wales, and Virginia was usually less expensive.
Until Europeans intruded just before the Revolution, the Wyoming Valley in Pennsylvania was largely the preserve of the Munsee Indians, a member of the Delaware Nation who dominated the region. Beginning about 1750, the arrival of white Europeans pressed the Indians gradually westward into the Ohio Valley.
Wyoming County was created in 1842 from part of Luzerne County. Its county seat is Tunkhannock. THIS COUNTY IS AVAILABLE FOR ADOPTION If you have the desire to help transcribe genealogical data and place it online for the free
Jul 18, 2017 · Wyoming Valley, PA local history 1675-1975. I am so glad to have you visit our site! We live in a place where history lives around us in the names of our streets, on the tombstones in our cemeteries, and in the architecture of our buildings and parks.
History of Luzerne, Lackawanna, and Wyoming counties, Pa. : with illustrations and biographical sketches of some of their prominent men and pioneers
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