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Category Archives: Wills Creek

A Place on Wills Creek: A Short Story Prequel to The Scattering of Stones

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The second book in what I now dub The Maggie Chronicles will soon be ready for publication. So, to express my delight, here’s a gift to all who’ve read the first book, The Scattering of Stones, (or who might want to).

It’s a free (longish) short story about how Jacob Carter arrived up on Wills Creek.

The cover designed by Pam Mullins gives you a sneak peak at the cover style for the series. I’m so excited about it. The cover to the new book, The Forging of Frost, will have a similar look, and The Scattering of Stone’s cover gets a facelift to match! THANK YOU, PAM!

Select the link below to view the prequel!

Clearing Weeds:Warrants for Larimer Township, Somerset County, PA

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Larimer revised

Original land warrants for Larimer TWP. (square identifies Richard Croy’s plot; circles identify plots of George Cook Sr. and Jr.) Courtesy Ancestor Tracks…go there for enlarged map.

There are all kinds of weeds, and some are of your own making. California’s golden hills produce an abundance of weeds, and the threat of fire requires a one hundred foot firebreak around your home. Consequently, between weed eating and just plain weeding, I have put off some important posts. Of top priority is the following response to a comment made regarding the “Where On Wills Creek” post, in which I dig into some weedy research.

First, I appreciate the comments of my followers so much. They lead me to deeper investigation that helps clarify my thinking and usually uncovers new information. Lannie Dietle[i] did just that with this comment. “George Cook (Book C-20, Page 261) on Laurel Run is in Larimer Township, Somerset County, PA, see the Larimer Township Warrant survey map. If memory serves, this is on Shirley Hollow Road. Anyway, I did a detailed study of the road his tract was along, which is why I know where the property is located.”

Correct! I did the research suggested and found the survey maps, one for George Cook Sr. (C20 pg 261) and George Cook Jr. (C21 pg 169) at the Pennsylvania Archives.[ii] They both are in Larimer Township and not in the section of Londonderry Township to which the Wills Creek post refers. Wills Creek goes up into Larimer Township and it was once part of Londonderry Township, put that’s no excuse.

My error came from assume-acide. I took information from Andrew Huston’s warrant applying for 50 acres of land “lying in Bedford County Cumberland Valley Township…bounded on west by John Hawthorns Tract–by George Cooks Land on the N West by Nicolas Liberger on the North by Alexander Ross on the east & on the South by the Wills-Town-Tract at the Mouth of Gladens Run”[iii] and determined erroneously that the warrants above referred to the same land. Again…wrong!

But with a little weeding some flowers grow. Imagine my delight, when I discovered Richard Croy, my 4X great uncle, while analyzing the Larimer Township Warrant survey map.[iv] I knew of the warrant date 1 November 1784 and I had the individual survey map[v] but had no idea where Scaffel Camp Run was located. But now I know so much more. And I have a new project. Go back to the Wills Creek information for further research… a George Cook lived there in southern Londonderry Township…but who else? And ”Where On Wills Creek?” indeed.

[i] Check out this web site for great work on Michael Korn of Somerset County, PA

[ii] Note: The PA Archives is a great site–if you explore the land records. I section a bit to get the “lay of the land.” Yes the pun was intended. The key section is patent indexes by surname.

[iii] Andrew Huston 1 March 1763 Witnessed 2 December 1784; Pennsylvania Land Warrants and Applications, 1733-1952; accessed 8/25/2013

[iv] Ancestor Tracks A fabulous site.

[v] Ibid ii (C29 pg 120)

“The family became widely scattered.” Part 4

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The grave of Mary Huston

The grave of Mary Huston

The Huston Sisters’ Journeys: Mary Huston

For twenty-eight years Mary Huston Croy called the enclave at Will’s Creek home. Now, in 1789, her husband Jacob packed up his family and moved on. Did the politics of the day play a part? The new Constitution, Bill of Rights, and President Washington’s election put the new nation on the beginnings of stable footing. Was it simple wanderlust and a sense of adventure? Jacob had served the local militia for nearly ten years and likely enjoyed the regular scouting missions. Did the need to provide for a growing family make the difference? By 1789 Mary was likely pregnant with their sixth child, and no evidence exists of any attempt by Jacob to warrant their Londonderry home. Only Jacob, and maybe Mary, can know; but after 1789 the family disappears from the records of Londonderry Township.

They probably moved to the Raystown Branch of the Juniata River in what would be part of Hopewell Township in Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania. There, on February 10, 1794, Jacob applied jointly for 100 acres of land with his father-in-law, Alexander Huston. It was his first land warrant and indicated improvements and “Interest to commence from the first day of March 1775,” an indication of its use for 19 years before applying for the warrant.[i]

I postulate that the family, with Alexander’s support, moved to the waters of the Raystown Branch to run a saw or gristmill. The profession seems to have run in the family. Brother Mathias Croy operated a saw and gristmill in Londonderry Township in 1792.[ii] Jacob’s son Andrew, no more than six when they likely moved to the Raystown Branch property, owned a saw and gristmill in Ohio as an adult, and Andrew’s son took over his business.[iii]

The whole Raystown experiment lasted, at most, 10 years. No doubt Mary was lonely. Part of a family of twelve children, the first five no more than five years apart, she would likely yearn for companionship. Perhaps Jacob was restless. Regardless, by 1800, their family, which now included eight children between twenty and three years of age, packed up for the Northwest Territory. Included in the procession were the families of Mary’s sisters, Rachel McClish and Sarah Oswalt, and her brother, David Huston who had married Rebecca Oswalt.iii At least 25 men, women, and children, together or in small family groups, made the journey.

Did they wander for a while looking for a likely home; one abundant with cool, flowing water for mills, livestock, and farming; one with hardwood forests giving off the musky scent of home? Likely. Certainly, during the time it took to finalize surveys, name Ohio the 17th state in the Union (1803,) and designate, the land in which they settled as Columbiana County, Jacob and Mary had created a home.

On a muggy day on August 2nd of 1805, Jacob walked into the Stubenville Land Office to claim Section 29 (a section set aside for Revolutionary War Veterans,) Township 9, Range 8 as his own.[iv] By the time he registered the warrant for his 160 acre plot, part of what would one day be Pike Township, Stark County, Ohio, a great deal had happened in his and Mary’s life. Little David (named after David Huston?) and Margaret were born; his two first-born sons had married and given them their first grandchildren. Their life together, I imagine, bore a joy that only comes from such an increase.

Then, sometime between 1805 and about 1810, Jacob died. Whether it was from the yellow fever that ran rampant at the time, an accident in a harsh land, or a hard life early taken, we can never know. But Mary, left with at least 6 children in her care, needed to stand strong and, in these times, required a man’s help. She soon married a George D. Roberts. No record of him exists beyond the court records filed after alexander Huston’s death in 1814, and, by 1820, she was living independently with her two youngest children in Darby Township, Union County, Ohio, far from the land Jacob had claimed.

From my perspective, there is no evidence of warmth in the brief union of George Roberts and Mary Croy. The boys in the family found solace and support in the families of their spouses. Jacob Croy connected with the Stoner family and, even after his wife died in 1825, joined with Rachael Croy Stoner and John Stoner in Indiana.[v] Richard Croy found work in the burgeoning canal economy of Portage County and moved away completely.[vi] Mathias went with brother Andrew to joined Jacob Oswalt and their Aunt, Rebecca Huston Oswalt, in Rose Township, Stark County.iii This was a logical move since Andrew had married Susannah Oswalt, his “kissing cousin,” and my 3x great grandmother.

Meanwhile the youngest children and Elizabeth, her oldest daughter, rallied round their mother in Union County. They made the county their home and lived by her until she died on August 9, 1824, [vii]19 years and 6 days after Jacob walked into the Stubenville Land Office to make his claim. My her request or from their own understanding, they had these words carved into her gravestone, “In Memory of Mary Croy, Wife of Jacob Croy, Forever in Our Hearts.”

[i] Pennsylvania, Land Warrants and Applications, 1733-1952 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2012.Original data: Warrant Applications, 1733-1952. Harrisburg, PA: Pennsylvania State Archives. Land Warrants. Pennsylvania State Archives, Harrisburg, PA.
[ii] Londonderry Township Tax Record, 1792 Bedford County Historical Society, Pioneer Library, 6441 Lincoln Highway, Bedford, PA 15522, (814)623-2011.
[iii] Additional information and documentation to follow in a later post.
[iv] Early Ohioans’ residences from the land grant records [database on-line]. Provo, UT: The Generations Network, Inc., 2005. Original data: Riegel, Mayburt Stephenson,. Early Ohioans’ residences from the land grant records. Mansfield, Ohio: Ohio Genealogical Society, 1976.
[v] Find A Grave. Find A Grave. Eagle Cemetery, LaGrange County, Indiana and Pleasant Hill Cemetery, Marion County, Ohio
[vi] Chancery Records Alexander Huston wills 1840, 1850 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2010. Images reproduced by FamilySearch.Original data: Sixth Census of the United States, 1840. (NARA microfilm publication M704, 580 rolls). Records of the Bureau of the Census, Record Group 29. National Archives, Washington, D.C.
[vii] Find A Grave. Find A Grave. Plain City Cemetery, Union County, Ohio

Revolutionary War Roll Call on the 4th of July

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“If there must be trouble, let it be in my day, that my child may have peace.” — Tom Paine, 1776

I dedicate this day and this posting to the Revolutionary War Militia of Bedford County, PA, 1st Battalion, Captain Samuel Paxton’s Company (including Will’s Creek Settlement Co.) and the award winning web site Mother Bedford. Visit it for great documentation of Revolutionary War times, particularly in Pennsylvania.

Paternal ancestors (in bold) and relations who were Members of Captain Samuel Paxton’s Co., 1st Battalion, Bedford Militia 1778-1780,

  • Jacob (Crow)Croy: Sergeant & Ensign (Will’s Creek Settlement Co.); 1781- Captain William McCall’s Co, 7th Reg.,3rd Battalion
  • Alexandr(Alexander) Huston
  • Andrew Huston: Sergeant; 1781- Captain William McCall’s Co, 7th Reg.,3rd Battalion
  • Ritchard(Richard) Croy
  • Edward Huston
  • Robert Huston: 1776-Captain Richard Brown’s Co., Pennsylvania Rifle Regiment, Pennsylvania Line
  • Mikel(Michael) Oswalt
  • Tobies(Tobias) Oswalt
  • Isiah McLess (Isaiah McLish)

Coverlets, land warrants, and a birth on Will’s Creek

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Laszlo Zonger by a Jacquard Loom at the Coverlet Museum

Laszlo Zonger by a Jacquard Loom at the Coverlet Museum

Please, please, please! If you ever visit Bedford County, Pennsylvania go to the coverlet museum! The coverlets and the accompanying personal tour, both enthusiastically provided by Melinda and Laszlo Zonger, impart knowledge of the craft, its history, the impact of a weaver’s place of origin, and the role of the global economy on weaving in America. So what does this have to do with the blog besides being of historical interest? Well, look below.

Cumberland Evening Times December 21, 1905

Cumberland Evening Times December 21, 1905

Sometimes you find a place so engaging and interesting that dragging yourself away seems impossible, no matter what your plans. After my last posting saying I was off to Ohio, I received this message, “I have my 5 great grandfather David Huston being born in 1796 in Maryland and his Father was Andrew/ Ellinore Devore mother. Do you have any information about the property or where in Maryland he was born?” I went to my records thinking to make quick work of a straightforward question. The hours whirled by. Two new discoveries and some inferential detective work later, I sent an e-mail which, as I looked back, seems a decent example of using the place knowledge to inform questions of birth. At the end of this post, I include a portion of the e-mail, slightly revised to correct errors and hopefully provide clarity. There you will also find links to the probate records mentioned in the e-mail. Andrew Huston Jr. practiced the art of weaving, probably the more basic version of the craft performed by in-home crafters. He, with his Will’s Creek neighbors, lived near the Maryland border and, judging from the newspaper clipping, were economically connected to Cumberland, Maryland. By the way, I nearly passed by the newspaper record because the paper was dated 1905. I only looked twice because, due to information on a land warrant, I knew Andrew was a weaver. Birth and death isn’t everything. Investigating place and the history of place makes a difference, even in ferreting out a birth. How close did they live to the Maryland border? Retracing some records, I also found this land warrant. “Andrew Huston applies for forty acres of Land Situated in Londonderry Township Bedford County adjoining Thomas Potts and Andrew Huston on the West the Maryland line on the South Wills Mountain on the East, & Cornelius Devore on the North.” (signed by Benj Tomlinson as witness and Andrew Huston in a good hand on the 11th day of Sept 1815) Underlining and opinion of his hand are mine. And here is the e-mail regarding David Huston’s place and date of birth. “I can give you this much information from my end. The Will’s Creek community in Pennsylvania is only a few miles from Maryland (2 miles from the border and maybe 4 to Cumberland.) Line disputes ended officially with the Mason/Dixon survey, but who knows how well understood or accepted the survey was in the minds of inhabitants of the area. Here is what I know for sure. 

  • Andrew Huston Jr. was the son of Alexander Huston (verified by the families probate dispute, 1835.) 
  • It, along with the Bedford county dispute, 1832-33, verifies that David was Andrew Jr.’s son. 
  • Alexander’s probate dispute lists David’s residence as Colombia County, Ohio. I suspect this is Colombiana County. Numerous of the Will’s Creek neighbors migrated to the area about 1800, including my great (4x) grandfather Jacob Croy who married Mary Huston, Andrew Jr.’s sister. (added note: the 1820 census lists a David Huston living in Rose Township, Stark County, Ohio once part of Columbiana County)
  • Andrew Jr. is first listed on Cumberland Valley Township (later Londonderry Township,) Bedford County, PA records in 1782 with 3 horses, 6 cows, 6 sheep-no land listing.  Likely living on, grandfather, Andrew Huston‘s land. 1783-85 he is listed as a single freeman. He is also listed as a Jr. on the 1786 Septennial Census for same place. 
  • Andrew’s father Alexander is verified an inhabitant of Cumberland Valley Township, Bedford County, PA from 1773 through the early 1800’s
  • Andrew Jr. married in late 1785 to 86 based on tax data to Elenore (Nilly) Devore (based on probate) who was the daughter of Cornelius Devore, a long time Will’s Creek resident (based on property and tax records.)
  • Based on the probate dispute for Andrew Jr., David is likely the second born son. John is definitely the first born. I do not have definitive dates for births and deaths of his children. (I have made it a “rule” to stick to direct lineage, their children and then basics of brothers/sisters. It can get overwhelming to keep organized otherwise. (added note: I have found little birth information for this period except on gravestones. When I visited the Bedford County Historical Society, I was told that little birth information exists for 18th century Western Pennsylvania.)
  • The tax and census records drop to a single Andrew Huston in Londonderry Township after 1786. My assumption is that Andrew Senior died by then. It is possible that Andrew moved on immediately after marriage and then returned in 1815, but the 1790 census shows an Andrew of Londonderry with one male child under 16 (John?) and two females (one likely a child.) Andrew Senior would not have had young children by then. Even Alexander, Andrew Jr’s father, was living at the time with only his wife. The 1800 census verifies the appropriate number of children for Andrew Jr. (the boy and girl above born between 1785-1790 and 2 boys and 2 girls born between 1791 and 1800) living in Londonderry Township, as does 1810, 20, 30. So if Andrew Senior was not dead by 1787-90, why does the land warrant for 1815 list the land of “Andrew Huston on the south?” Most likely it is additional land that Andrew Jr owned. 

Sooooo….I think it likely David was born right there in the Will’s Creek, Cumberland Valley Township, Bedford County, Pennsylvania located very close to Maryland between 1791 and 1800, unless mom slipped over the line for a birth. Probate does indicate that John Huston (David’s brother) gave authority to Philip Devore to “sell the same and all other land claimed by me either in part or altogether situate in the state of Pennsylvania or Maryland…” (My underlining.) Others of the community also went into Allegheny County, Maryland for business and land purchase.” Probate records for Andrew Huston Jr.              Alexander Huston wills

Where in Will’s Creek? …and great Library of Congress blog

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Where they lived?

Where they lived?

This week I buried myself in the world of land warrants, attempting to determine approximately where those tenacious Will’s Creek settlers lived. The picture above, with the help of Google Earth, is my best guess. I created a table (found at the end of the post) briefly explaining each number on the map.

Many known settlers who appeared on tax records did not appear in land warrants. Numerous pioneers of the time, especially those on the colonial frontiers, rejected any expectation to warrant and/or pay for land, considering it an infringement on their free right of settlement.

For me, it is time to move on. This time I travel, virtually, to Northeastern Ohio. As the century turned a page, so did our nation’s history. The Treaty of Paris ending the Revolutionary War opened lands to settlement north of the Ohio River. Go to this recent and outstanding Library of Congress blog by Erin Allen outlining early efforts to inform local tribes as well as British outposts of this land transfer to the newly formed United States.

You can also access the journal by George McCully at this site. A member of the expedition charged with sharing the outcome of the treaty, he documents the trek from Pittsburg, PA to Detroit. His detailed account of the excursion gives insight into the journey many in the Will’s Creek community were about to undertake. As always, original source documents are the best way to learn about the past. So, please, access his journal and read Erin Allen’s excellent explanation of the period! While you are at it subscribe to the blog. It is very good.

Land Warrant and Deed Information (As a disclaimer, I am not a resident of the area so lack the “inside track” regarding historical tidbits useful in explaining some references in the warrants. So, please, if you are out there, I appreciate any clarification.)


Warrant Applicant Date Detail
#1 Andrew Huston Sr. From3/1/1763App. 12/2/1784 50 ac bound on W John Hawthorns Tract; NW George Cook; N Nicolas Liberger; E Alex. Ross; S Wills-Town-Tract Mouth of Gladens Run
#2 Cornelius Devore Esq 9/16/1792 150 ac W side Wills Creek joining his 200 and lands surveyed for Andrew Huston
#3CastbarFosholt/Philip Devore 5/20/1793 surveyed for Jacob Oswalt Jr; Oct. 26/ 1795 transferred to Alex. Huston; 5/26/1803 transferred to Castbar Fosholt; 5/10/1830 sold to Philip Devore $300 100 acres adjoining Nicholas Lybarger, Jacob Oswalt Sr. and on W by a Mt. on a small branch of Gladwens Run part of Wills Creek
#4 Benjamin Tomlinson From 3/1/1765 app. 3/29/1790 60 ac E side joining Wills Creek opposite mouth of Gladdens Run joining Wills-Town-Tract
#5 George Cook 4/23/1793 100 ac on Laurel Run both sides of rd from Simon Hays mill
#6 Andrew Huston Jr. 5/9/1815 A weaver applis for 25 ac joining Wills Mountain on E; W Cornilias Devere, Benjamin Tomblingson; S Andrew Huston

So far I have not located any land warrants for Laurence Lamb, Jacob Croy, Jacob Neimyer, Anthony Asher, John Hains, John Albright, Valentine Baker, George Amrine, Martin Fait, Godfrey Woolback, John Blyew, or John Porter to name a few.

An Account of Frontier Revolutionary Service: Nicholas Lyberger

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“In the fall of the year 1776, in the month of November about the 15th the Indians made an incursion into Morrison’s Cove in Bedford County and burnt Ulrick’s Mill and Killed all Ulrick’s family but one who was absent at the time. On this occasion all the volunteers and Militia of Bedford county were called out and some from Conegocheague. We were collected at the town of Bedford and Col Davidson of the Militia took the command. I was then as a volunteer in the company commanded by Lieutenant Oserwalt.”

The above quote provides a small taste of the extreme conditions endured by those who chose to live on the edge of the Pennsylvania frontier in the 1700’s. The hazards amplified as the Shawnee and Iroquis began escalating their attacks, stirred by British promises to ban settlements west of the Ohio River in exchange for their support. As I hinted in an earlier posting, the most vivid accountings of frontier life in the 18th century come from first person recollections. Revolutionary pensions were long offered only to those unable to make a living on their own. But an 1832 law offered pensions to all who served in the war, as well as their widows. If the veteran did not have a record of service, he would submit a petition through his state of residence and include an extensive personal narrative. These first-hand accounts are extraordinary resources. Nicolas Lybarger (Liebarger/Liberger etc.) who lived in the Will’s Creek area of then Cumberland Valley Township, Bedford County (later Londonderry Township) provided a fabulous narrative in his petition. Portions have been quoted in other historical accounts. I have transcribed the complete petition here. Petition of Nicholas Lyberger for Revolutionary War Pension The “Oserwalt” mentioned here is Michael Oswalt, son of Jacob Oswalt Sr. Hustons and Croys probably also participated in these excursions. (See Outline of inhabitants of Wills Creek from the previous post.) Later, in April of 1847, the wife of Nicholas, Christina Lyberger, petitioned for widow’s benefits. Her daughter Elizabeth Devore placed her mark by her name proving the veracity of the claim. Included was a page copied from a family bible by Nicholas Lyberger, a “Dutch” bible as the record states.  While mostly illegible (He copied it but made a mark when he signed his name so likely didn’t understand what he copied.) the name Croy appears at the bottom of the page, just another testament to the closely connected families of the Will’s Creek settlement.

Finding Jacob Croy in Pennsylvania

St. David's (Sherman) Church

St. David’s (Sherman) Church

I went to Pennsylvania hoping to find the origins of the Croy family in the United States. I did not. I know nothing more than when I started but, if such a thing is possible, I know it with greater clarity. Does that mean I know nothing with great clarity? In a word, yes.

I thought I found reference to Jacob Croy in the records of those arriving from the Palatinates in 1740’s Philadelphia. As noted in a previous blog, another researcher thought this was true. After careful handwriting analysis and some research regarding the script of that period, I am no longer sure. In fact, based on information from a German speaker, it is unlikely that the name Croy comes from the Palatinates since surnames from Germanic heritage rarely begin with “C.” (Perhaps, French speaking areas of what is now Belgium where Croy Castle is found?)

What do we know regarding “Croy” in the Americas? To the best of my knowledge, in chronological order, I have discovered the following:

  1. The Walloon, Jan De Croy, arrived in Virginia in the early 1600’s.
  2. A Winifred Croy (likely male) owned land in Virginia in the early 1600’s.
  3. A Peter Croy is noted in Massachusetts’s court records in the 1620’s.
  4. A Michael Croy with wife Anna Marie participated in a christening in 1767 York County, PA. (see photo)
  5. An Esther Croy , born about 1745, is listed as the wife of Adam Romberger  with a Jacob Croy managing the estate in Annville, Lebanon County, PA in 1800. There was a Jacob Croy in the area at the time. This could be our Jacob, but our patriarch was definitely in Bedford County from 1775 to 1790 with record of a land purchase in the neighboring county in 1794. By 1804 the family had moved to Ohio.
Wills Mountain with Cook Homestead

Wills Mountain with Cook Homestead

View near Wills Creek

View near Wills Creek

Without doubt though, our family lived in Londonderry Township, Bedford County, Pennsylvania at the time of the Revolutionary War. They settled with the Huston and Oswalt families not far from the Mason-Dixon line between Wills Mountain and Wills Creek neighboring the Cook homestead. With a little help from some wonderful people at the library in Hyndman, my (very patient) husband and I found the spot. I stood silently absorbing the rustle of leaves falling like rain from the trees, an unending chorus of frogs and crickets, the fecund scent of rotting leaves and fungi, and the embrace of the past. Can’t you feel them?

The Croys, Oswalts, and Hustons

BedfordCo1872-townships copyWestern Pennsylvania became the primary destination of new immigrants and those with wanderlust in their veins. In order to better understand our family migration, its timeline as well as the approximate birth date of family members, I put a spreadsheet together of all land warrant, tax records, and Revolutionary War records for these three much intermingled families. Bedford PA spreadsheet They include Andrew Huston, Alexander Huston and Mary Johnson, Jacob Oswalt and Rebecca Huston, Jacob Oswalt Jr. and Sarah Huston, and Jacob Croy and Mary Huston. Western PA. Family Sheets a pdf document One thing is sure. The majority of their lives in the last half of the 1700’s was spent in Londonderry Township, Bedford County, Pennsylvania along Wills Creek not far from the Mason-Dixon line. I am indebted to Larry Smith whose excellent website  Mother Bedford – The Pennsylvania Frontier Of The 1700s. provided many insights and some missing information. I recommend it highly.