George T. Fleming. "Historic names handed down: Crawford, Baron Steuben and George Rogers Clark among historic characters recalled by some Pittsburgh streets." Pittsburgh Gazette Times, Jan. 17, 1915, fifth section, p. 2. Newspapers.com 85751161.
THE more the old street names in Pittsburgh are examined the more history evolves and the regret becomes greater that any should have been allowed to lapse. Try to think of London without Threadneedle street; New York without Wall street or the Bowery; Philadelphia without Broad or Market; Baltimore without Eutaw, and Boston without the Common!
"Impossible," are replies. "They are fixed designations. The people would resent any changes," probably if not as apathetic as Pittsburgh.
There are other names of Revolutionary and Colonial characters commemorated in Pittsburgh streets besides those that have been mentioned in previous articles in these columns. There are various Indian personalities also to be considered and some French officers who figured largely in the great drama of wilderness warfare that eventuated in English control of the Ohio valley.
There are also officers who served under the ill-fated Braddock, notably Sir Peter Halket; officers who were under Washington, notably Stobo and Van Braam, and some guides, trappers, frontiersmen, Indian traders and adventurers—some individuals combining all these vocations.
Each name in turn calls up more or less Colonial history. Gist, the scout, Crawford, military man and pioneer surveyor, are patronymics early bestowed on our streets and each name is replete with stirring history.
Something About Crawford.
The melancholy and awful fate of Col. William Crawford will ever cause a shudder and a pang. Well remembered though he be in the geographical nomenclature of the nation, the facts of his most active life on the frontier are now little referred to. His fidelity to Washington, whom he knew well from their association as surveyors together, and also from their services under Braddock, his services in the Pontiac Indian war, his services in the war of the Revolution, his devotion to duty in the acceptance of command in the disastrous expedition that cost him his life—all combine to render him worthy of commemoration.
There is no longer doubt that in Crawford the Indians glutted their vengeance for the destruction of the Moravian towns on the Tuscarawas and the massacre there of the innocent Christian Indians, women and children indiscriminately, by the expedition under Col. David Williamson that set out from Washington county in March, 1782. The Delawares and Wyandots, against whom Crawford's expedition was sent three months later, knew that their slain kinsmen had been killed for no other reason than that they were redskins. The year 1782 was one of horror on the border.
The title Crawford bore was not an empty one, but came from actual service in command of the Fifth Virginia Regiment during the Revolution. Throughout the whole of this war Crawford was intimately associated with his sincere friend, the commander-in-chief. Crawford had accompanied Washington to the Kanawha in 1770 and stopped at Semple's Tavern, at what is now Water and Ferry streets in Pittsburgh and the tavern site, is properly and fittingly marked by a bronze tablet.
In May, 1782, the War of Independene [sic] over and the object of the colonists gained, Col. Crawford resigned his commission. Some standard authorities assert that it was in compliance with Washington's request that Crawford accepted the command of the punitive expedition that turned out the very opposite—a striking instance of where the hunted turned hunters.
It may be doubted that Washington was especially interested. The Crawford expedition so referred to in history from his commanding it, was organized and carried out by the borderers themselves.
Stung to madness by the frequent and terrible Indian outrages, May 25, 1782, 480 men assembled, almost totally Scotch-Irish frontier people, each man furnishing his own horse, equipment and clothing. The command was mustered at what is now Mingo Junction on the Ohio, then known as the Mingo Bottoms. Col. Williamson was the candidate for commander against Crawford, the latter winning by five votes.
The historian, Isaac D. Rupp, on the authority of the Rev. Joseph Doddridge, states that Crawford accepted the ommand [sic] with reluctance. Williamson accompanied the expedition as second in command, and in the retreat with good generalship saved the great majority of the force.
Not only Col. Crawford perished, but his nephew and namesake, William, Jr., and his son-in-law, Maj. William Harrison.
Search for Son.
It was on account of Crawford's great solicitude for his son John and these kinsmen that he lost the opportunity of escaping with the main body of his troops. He was mounted, but his horse was exhausted and failed him in his extremity.
In the panic that had ensued after the night attack of June 4 Crawford became separated from his relatives and stood by the trail calling for them in vain.
Crawford had not been defeated, but he failed signally. His son John, after many perils, reached home in safety. Maj. Harrison and William Crawford, Jr., were burned to death by the Shawanese.
It was not in the present Crawford county, O., that Crawford came to his sad end, but in Wyandot. It was the writer's privilege many years ago to pass the "Seven Oaks" and view the little monument that marks the spot where Crawford died. This is on the road from Upper Sandusky to Carey, about five miles from the former town.
Born in Berkely county, Va., in 1730, Crawford was but 50 years old when he perished, June 11, 1782. His death and disaster led to the various Indian campaigns, with more horrors attending, under Harmar and St. Clair, culminating in the victory of Anthony Wayne and the clearing of the border.
Crawford lived at Stewarts Crossing, now the site of New Haven, opposite Connellsville. Washington, in his journal of his "Journey to the Kanawha," under date of October 13, 1770, writes:
"Set out about sunrise, breakfasted at the Great Meadows and reached Capt. Crawford's at 5 o'clock. Crawford's is very fine land lying on the Youghiogheny at a place commonly called Stewarts Crossing."
Visit to Coal Mine.
The next day Washington records that he remained at Crawford's all day and that he went to see a coal mine not far from the house.
"The coal," he wrote, "seemed of the very best kind, burning freely, and abundance of it."
The mention of Crawford street naturally leads to the name Clark, that street crossing at right angles, and there comes in the name of one of the most celebrated characters in the history of the frontier of Revolutionary and post-bellum days. George Rogers Clark (also spelled with the final e) had much to do with Pittsburgh and in Pittsburgh. His biography in brief is:
Born in Albemarle county, Virginia, November 19, 1752; first a surveyor, then a captain of Virginia forces in Dunmore's war against the Indians in 1774. He went to Kentucky the next year and took command of the settlers there.
The English governor at Detroit, Hamilton, was a fervent and active foe to the colonists, and a cruel and unscrupulous one. He incited the Western Indians to make war upon the frontier settlers—in Indian fashion, of course.
Obtaining some supplies and money from Virginia, Clark, with 200 men he had enlisted for three months, came to Pittsburgh in the spring of 1778. They embarked for the Falls of the Ohio, now Louisville, in June. Clarke was joined by some Kentuckians.
It seems unnecessary to write the story of Kaskaskia, Cahokia and Vincennes. The date of the capture of the former is July 4, 1778.
Great events arose from Clark's expedition. Friendly relations were established by Clark with the Spanish commander at St. Louis, the French in the Illinois region became at once friendly to the American cause—the news of the French alliance with the colonies was gladly received. The town of Louisville was founded.
The Virginia Assembly took prompt measures to hold the conquered territory and erected it into the country of Illinois. Clark recaptured Vincennes in February, 1779, after Hamilton had retaken it. In 1780 Clark defeated the Shawanese on the Big Miami with heavy loss in punishment for their Kentucky marauding. Clark returned to Virginia and served in the continental army against Arnold and Cornwallis.
Again in the West.
Clark returned again to the West, and with 1,000 mounted riflemen, setting out from the mouth of the Licking (now Cincinnati), he invaded the Sciota valley and severely punished the Indians by burning their villages and laying waste their tilled lands. However, in 1786 Clark led an unsuccessful expeditions [sic] against the Indians on the Wabash.
Clark's first expedition was organized at Redstone Old Fort, now Brownsviile [sic]. His whole force was less than 400 men.
In the dramatic life of this great leader there is much to thrill. Five states of the American union, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin are a noble monument and the name—George Rogers Clark is immortal.
The great leader spent his last days at the home of his sister, Mrs. William Croghan, near Louisville. Gen. George Croghan was his nephew. He was a distinguished officer of the United States army, and famous in the defense of Fort Meigs and Fort Stevenson in 1813, and he attained the rank of brigadier general, U. S. A. William Clark, youngest brother of George Rogers, was a captain in the United States army and accompanied Capt. Merriweather [sic] Lewis in 1804, thus linking two names in imperishable fame. Lewis and Clark are emblazoned in the annals of the West as brightly as George Rogers Clark and Kaskaska [sic].
George Rogers Clark died in Louisville February 11, 1818. William was governor of Missouri in 1812 and became a brigadier general in 1817. He died in 1838 after 50 years' honorable service.
George Rogers Clark died in obscurity and poverty—relate the biographers—"forgotten by his countrymen and without means," is a better way of putting it.
The street above Crawford is Tannehill, named for Gen. Adamson Tannehill, a soldier of the Revolution and the War of 1812. In the latter war he attained the rank of major general. In 1795 Gen. Tannehill lived on Water street half way between Wood and Market streets. In Riddle's directory of 1815 he is given a line—thus:
"Tannehill, Adamson, gentleman, N. side of 6th between Wood and Smithfield."
Gen. Tannehill first appointed a brigadier general by Gov. Simon Snyder of Pennsylvania, commanded a brigade of three regiments which force had rendezvoued [sic] at Pittsburgh and Meadville. This force had been called out by proclamation of the governor August 25, 1812. October 25 the brigade left for Niagara, joined by another regiment from Southwest Pennsylvania; the brigade was in active service on the border.
Member of Congress.
Gen. Tannehill was promoted to be major general before the end of the war. He was a member of Congress from the Pittsburgh district 1813–1815. In the War of the Revolution Tannehill had attained the rank of captain.
The service of Tannehill's brigade was rather inglorious though hardly the fault of that officer. The command was broken up by wholesale desertions from its camp at Black Rock, near Buffalo. The attempted invasion of Canada at that point in November, 1812, in its failure was productive of much recrimination among the general officers and there were courts of inquiry and sundry courts martial and a duel on Grand Island between Gens. Snyth and Porter, but it turned out a French duel.
While in service in Virginia in 1780–81, against Cornwallis, Clark served in the brigade of Baron Steuben. This name brings up the fact that he, too, is commemorated in a Pittsburgh street, the well-known thoroughfare in the West End or old borough of Temperanceville, the borough handing down the name.
Frederick William Augustus, Baron von Steuben, was a native of Prussia, born in Mageburg [sic] in 1730. At the early age of 14 he first saw war at the siege of Prague under his father. He so distinguished himself there and at Rossbach that he was made adjutant general in 1758. In 1761 he was a prisoner with the Russians at St. Petersburg, now Petrograd, but not long.
In 1762 he was on the staff of the famous Frederick the Great. He was further promoted and honored, but in 1777 he left an ample income and great ease for hard service in America, landing at Portsmouth, N. H., in November of that year. He joined the army under Washington at Valley Forge.
The desperate nature of the American cause at that time in the light of the sufferings and misery at Valley Forge must have strongly appealed to Steuben. He stayed and fought to the end. He ultimately attained the rank of major general. He was present in action at Monmouth, introduced thorough discipline in the little army and prepared a manual of tactics which Congress adopted.
Honors for Steuben.
He was distinguished at Yorktown. New Jersey gave him a small allotment of farming land and New York 16,000 acres wilderness land. The United States government game [sic] him an annuity of $2,500.
He built a log house on his New York land, the nearby town named for him, Steubenville, and here he died November 28, 1794. He gave his estate to his aides and his servants and parcelled a liberal portion among his tenants. He was buried in his garden.
His body was subsequently disinterred, and, in keeping with his desires once expressed, was wrapped in his military cloak, placed in a plain coffin and reinterred in the town of Steuben, some seven miles from Trenton Falls. In 1826 a monument was erected over his grave by private subscription, the recumbent slab in vogue in those days bearing only his name and title.
His grateful aide, Col. North, caused a great mural monument to be raised in his memory upon the walls of the German Reformed Church in Nassau street, New York city, between John street and Maiden Lane, with a long and eulogistic inscription.
Washington thoroughly appreciated Steuben. On the very day that Washington resigned his commission he wrote Steuben, making full acknowledgement of Steuben's valuable services throughout the war. The name is familiar in this region in the commemoration of our nearby Ohio town, and in Steuben county, New York. Bath is the county seat. Locally the name originated from the Steubenville pike, the outlet from the West End in that direction.
The pictures today show Washington as he appeared about 1770 when he was in Pittsburgh. This is the earliest known portrait of Washington and he was about 40 years old; the uniform is that of a major of Virginia Volunteers. Steuben's and Clark's are made from old wood cuts, but are authentic. Crawford's has been made from a small picture used a few years ago at the Connellsville celebration.
Mill Becomes Rink.
The Anderson and Woods steel mill at the foot of Ross street was removed just prior to the roller skating craze of 1885. One of the old buildings was used as a rink and was known as the Monarch Rink and subsequently burned.
The church of the German Evangelical congregation on the site of the present church at Smithfield street and Sixth avenue, was the second edifice on the plot, and was erected in 1833 and razed for the present building in 1875.
The old Weyman tobacco factory on the Solomon corner at Smithfield and Diamond streets, was burned in the fire of April, 1845. This reproduction is made from a crude wood cut in Harris' Directory of Pittsburgh for 1840.
The buildings showing the "plant" of The Pittsburgh Commercial are yet standing on Fifth avenue, above Wood, on the south side of Fifth. This site was that of the old Drury Theater razed in 1870 or about that time. The Gazette, after the absorption of The Commercial at the death of its last owner, Robert W. Mackey, was published in this building for many years.A correspondent who signs himself "Republican," writes that last week's story omitted mention of La Fayette Hall next to the corner of Fourth avenue and Wood street on Wood. Designedly, Mr. Republican—that is a story in itself.