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The McGills
Patrick’s Primeval Park and His Title to the Lands


After Patrick had completed "the hoose" which was like unto that of his brother, built of unhewn logs and shingled with clapboards riven from the surrounding oaks, he could sit in his front door facing south and look out over every part of that lordly park so deftly planted hundreds of years before.

It may have been a matter of conjecture with him whether the hand of some prehistoric race had not had something to do in laying it out on lines so well adapted to the surroundings and so harmoniously arranged.

On the right, the river gently curved around with its evergreen border, and across the stream a bold bluff arose heavily timbered, and here and there a little cascade spouted from living springs and glistened in the morning sun. To the south, the far away jungle of John Fredebaugh displayed an umbrageous growth of great beauty, and to the east, extending north, those great elms were scattered about, a hundred feet apart, with their broad tops interlaced, forming a vista unsurpassed. It was a wonderland! And the cultured old pioneer contemplated it with emotion as he realized that he was really the owner of this great place and that here his children and grandchildren might grow up and become useful in the world.

But how came it there? No landscape gardener ever planned on so grand a scale! The French trail led by his door, but was of too recent date to justify the thought that the Franks had aught to do with it. Was it really the work of chance - a freak of nature - or had some fabled Geni from the far East passed that way and touched the jungle with its magic wand, transforming it into this lovely glade? All that was wanting to complete the delusion was the fairy castle set with gems - it was not there, but instead the settler's rude cabin devoid of beauty or adornment the smoke curling from the stick topped chimney. No! this was not the work of chance or enchantment. "Gitche Manito the Mighty" had planted the grove and given it to his red children of the forest, whom he loved better than he did the Dutch, and for centuries this identical spot had been a playground at the back door of the "long house" of the Six Nations.

But there was no time to indulge in illusions, the bushes must be grubbed from the ground, the sod broken and potatoes and corn planted - the young oaks felled and riven into rails - log heaps piled up and burned and land cleared for future crops. Arduous labors were these, requiring all the physical energies these men possessed, and there was no time for idleness or play. Appleseed John came along and seeds were planted from which in after years great orchards were grown.

At that time there were no apprehensions of trouble from the Indians, and as a matter of fact the French Creek Country was peculiarly exempt from savage incursions. No state of organized warfare existed that affected the settlement.

One morning, however, when Patrick arose from his slumbers and looked out over his great park, he was astonished to see at least a dozen Indian tepees near the southern margin, erected under the great oaks, and there were many dusky forms moving about. Without exciting the curiosity of Anna Maria he marched directly to the scene of action. Approaching in dignified form he addressed the assembled braves in stately tones with words of amity and good will. Not a man answered, but by signs they gave him to understand that none present could pow-wow in English, but on the morrow interpreters would be present with whom he could communicate in a satisfactory manner. Without relaxing his stern stoicism he pointed out his wigwam and making signs of welcome withdrew without a glance to the right, left or rear, erect as a post.

This arrival of redskins caused uneasiness in the settlement, and Arthur wanted to collect a company of settlers and drive the intruders away, but Patrick insisted on being permitted to manage the "noble red man" in his own diplomatic way, and finally prevailed.

On the morrow the promised addition to the party arrived, and with them came several braves who could talk a smattering of English, French and Indian's dialect; they could, however, make themselves intelligible and seemed to readily comprehend the words of the pioneer. A very interesting pow-wow now took place, in which they communicated to each other matters of import on the frontiers; and at the close Patrick was honored with an invitation to a banquet on the following day, and with great dignity he acknowledged the courtesy and accepted the invitation.

On the next day Patrick dined with the red men and was received with great distinction - was adopted into the tribe under the title of "The White Crow," and had many honors conferred upon him. Among other things, he learned the real object of the visit of the Indians to his great park. For many generations it had been their custom during the season of low water in the creek to camp in the vicinity ostensibly to hunt and fish, but for the real purpose of drinking from the "sweet waters" of a spring supposed to possess certain medicinal virtues, very highly prized by the tribe. The spring was located near the southwest corner of "White Crow's" lands, but not on them. It oozed from the earth just above low water mark and when the stream was swollen it was submerged and inaccessible. He was shown the spring and drank of the water, which he pronounced detestable. That this mineral spring was the real attraction to the place is indicated by the fact that for several years they came regularly, and the time of their visit was surely indicated by the stage of water in the stream. These annual encampments continued until a dam was built just below the spring submerging it permanently and after that the red man appeared no more.

Patrick and his whole family attached no importance to this discovery, believing the whole affair to be an Indian superstition, and but for the rediscovery of the mineral water a few years since by some little Dutchmen who were boring for ice the interesting fact that in ages gone by the place had been a summer resort for dusky maidens and husky bucks would have been lost to local history, as many other incidents of the early days have been buried in oblivion. Elated, however, by their accidental find the owners of the spring sought fame and fortune by eliminating all the traditions and romance that clustered around the story of the ancient Indian spring of healing waters and gave it a new name that they might conserve unto themselves the honors of original discovery and even set up the claim that they were the "first settlers" of the domain on which the mineral waters were found, and with the perspicacity of their kind they launched out into unknown depths in the financial sea - a great hotel and sanitarium went up and the little Dutchmen went down - incidentally.

Many erroneous and conflicting statements have found place in local history and been given wide circulation as to how and by what means Patrick McGill became possessed of his estate. I will, without condescending to argument, quote from the public records of the times a history of the transaction so full and complete as to forever silence all contention and controversy on the subject. We have already shown the fact of his having located the lands in person. Technically, the lands were located by re-survey and here follows the most indisputable evidence of original title from the State.

SURVEYOR GENERAL'S OFFICE, PA.
Diagram.

A diagram of lands surveyed to Patrick McGill on the east side of French Creek, beginning at a white oak on the banks of said creek; thence up the same by the several courses thereof two hundred and ten perches and eight-tenths of a perch to a white walnut; thence by vacant land east four hundred and fourteen perches and two-tenths of a perch to a post; thence by land of John Meece south one hundred and eighty-four perches and eight-tenths of a perch to a post; and thence by land of John Fredebaugh west four hundred and twenty-six perches to the beginning; containing four hundred and thirty-nine acres and one hundred and fifty-seven perches.

Memoranda.

In pursuance of an actual settlement commenced by Patrick McGill in the month of September, i796, was re-surveyed for him the 20th day of December, 1800, the above described land containing four hundred and thirty-nine acres, one hundred and fifty-seven perches and allowance of six per cent for roads. Situated on the eastern side of French Creek in Mead township, Crawford County, Pennsylvania, it being the same land that was re-surveyed for the said Patrick McGill on the 28th day of June, i794, in the presence of his improvements beginning the 25th day of February, I793.

(Signed) WM. McARTHUR, Deputy Surveyor.

SAMUEL COCHRAN, Surveyor General.

Patent of
PATRICK McGILL,
429 Acres - 157 Perches of Land,
Crawford County.

This is a venerable parchment bearing date the 24th day of July, 1802. It recites in part: "That in consideration of monies paid by Patrick McGill into the Receiver General's office of the sum of twenty pounds, sixteen shilling and three pence lawful money; also in consideration of his having made it appear that he made or caused to be made an actual settlement and continued residence on the herein described tract of land, agreeably to the Ninth Section of an Act of the General Assembly passed the third day of April, 1792 * * * which said tract was surveyed in pursuance of a warrant dated the sixth day of June, 1801, granted to the said Patrick McGill, a certain tract of land, etc. In this patent Roger Alden is mentioned as adjoiner on the south, instead of John Fredebaugh, who seems to have been separated from his jungle and disappears from the record. Over the Great Seal of the Commonwealth is the autograph signature of Thos. McKean, Governor-below is the signature of T. M. Thompson, Sec. On the reverse side is the certificate and seal of the "Rolls Office," giving date of enrollment in Patent Book No. 48, Page 57. This 6th day of July, 1802.

A critical examination of the records and documents in the case discloses the fact that from the first inception Patrick McGill had carefully and in due legal form protected his claims to the lands in question. He drove his stakes in 1792 - he caused an improvement to be made for him by John Fredebaugh in February, 1793 - he had a re-survey by the Deputy Surveyor of the Commonwealth in the presence of his improvement in 1794 - he appeared on the ground with his family and effects in 1795 and had a re-survey to prove his actual occupancy in 1796.

On the 20th day of December, 1800, he had a survey for warrant - a re-survey upon which warrant was granted June 6th, 1801. Patent issued July 24, 1802.

It is difficult to see how any one could squeeze through this legal barrier to make a gift of the land to Patrick - yet all local history says, "Arthur McGill took up 800 acres of land and afterwards gave 400 to his brother Patrick."

Now real estate cannot be transferred by gift or otherwise without leaving tracks upon the record. We have faithfully and truthfully traced the footprints of Patrick and will now turn to those of Arthur. These tracks, be it remembered, are still on record and open to the inspection of any one who chooses to look over the ancient tomes.

DIAGRAM.

ARTHUR McGILL, 398 acres, 60 perches.

Beginning at a white walnut on the bank of French Creek, S. W. corner, thence east four hundred and twelve perches and one-tenth to a post; thence north one hundred and ninety-eight perches to a thornbush; thence west two hundred and forty-eight perches to a hemlock on the bank of French Creek; thence S. W. by the several meanderings of said creek two hundred and sixty-seven perches to the place of beginning.

The bearings down stream are shown on the record, but are so many and intricate that we omit them.

The adjoiners marked are south, Patrick McGill; east, Holland Co.; north, Thomas Campbell; west, French Creek.

MEMORANDA.

In pursuance of warrant for 40o acres, dated the 24th day of April, A. D. 1816, was surveyed to Arthur McGill on the 17th day of June, A. D. 1816, the above described tract of land containing 398 acres, 60 perches and the allowance of six per cent for roads, etc., and at the time of making said survey the said Arthur McGill was in possession of the same, and there appeared to be upward of fifty acres of land cleared and fenced, a house and barn, etc., and that the same is situate in Rockdail township, Crawford County, Pennsylvania.

(Signed) JAMES HERRINGTON, Dp. Sr.

To Richard Leech, Esquire, Surveyor General Land Office, Pa.


The above appears to be the only real estate transaction that Arthur ever had with the Commonwealth, at least, there is no record of any other transaction in the Old Land Office.

On the final survey of Patrick McGill's land it was found that the original surveyors had left vacant a strip thirty perches wide containing seventy-three acres lying between Patrick's land and Arthur's claim. They therefore did not join lands as they supposed, and as a matter of sentiment did not wish to have a stranger settle down between them. Neither wanted the land - they had each enough without it and to effect a settlement and perfect title would involve considerable expense. They finally amicably adjusted the matter, Patrick being much the wealthiest, consented to take up the strip, which he did, by building a cabin and putting a tenant (Fred'k Hickernell) in possession and finally it was added to his estate, making a total acquired by settlement of between five and six hundred acres of the finest land in the State.


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