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Vance Fort

Vance Fort RESEARCH


1800 RESIDENTS OF Moon Township

Residents of Middletown

  • Thomas Young

  • Andrew Watt

  • William Griffith

  • William Wilson

    RESIDENTS OF MOON TOWNSHIP

  • Jeramiah Wright

  • William Davis

  • James McKee

  • Robert Vance

  • Thomas [Sprored?]

  • John [Vail?]

  • Adam Patterson

  • Abraham Deheaven

  • James Thornborough

  • James Woodburn

  • Patrick Borland

  • John [Dickason?]

  • Samuel Stevenson

  • Andrew Stevanson

1800 US Census for Allegheny County, PA


In the past, there has been some confusion and misinformation regarding Vance’s settlement and the construction of a stockade fort on Montour’s Bottom. Popular belief regarded both to have occurred as early as 1759. This supposition appears to be invalid in view of the following evidence.

In the months following the French retreat from Fort Duquesne the English forces anticipated a counter-attack. The Bouquet Papers contain a number of intelligence reports that specifically describe the activity and movement on the upper Ohio during the last days of 1758, and throughout 1759. None of the reports revealed the presence of a settlement or fortification during this dangerous period.

In September 1761, James Kenny, a Quaker, along with John Hartrom, a botanist, traveled northwest on the Ohio River from Pittsburgh to Beaver inspecting the land and the surrounding vegetation. Despite careful observation for detail Kenny’s Journal makes no mention of any settlement or fort along the upper Ohio.

The Bouquet Orderly Book detailing the movement of the Bouquet expedition into the Ohio Country in 1764, revealed that the troops made their third encampment on the north shore of the Ohio near the lower end of Neville (Long or Montour’s) Island directly opposite the presumed location of Vance’s Fort. Once again there is no mention of any structure existing on the site.

The land application of the “Oughsaragoh” tract indicates that the initial ownership of the tract was established through a Proprietary grant to Henry Montour in 1769. Neither the warrant nor survey indicates a previous improvement or settlement.

Neither Washington’s Journal of 1770, nor Parrish’s Journal of 1773, despite their carefully recorded observations indicate the presence of a settlement or a fort on the site.

Robert Vance was residing in 1768, on Jacobs Creek, Huntington Township, Westmoreland County. In 1772, the year in which Montour died, Vance was residing with his father, David, in Hempfield Township, Westmoreland County. His Westmoreland County deed of 1768, and tax assessment of 1772, in which both resident and nonresident landowners are identified provide proof of Vance’s residence.

Finally, Vance’s deposition establishes his presence on the “Oughsaragoh” tract in 1775, and not before.

In an intelligence report to General Hand, the commander at Fort Pitt, the following unsigned memorandum identified the post along the upper Ohio and gave a brief description of each.

Pittsburgh June 3, 1777
’Memorandum for General Hand of the different posts from Wheeling to the Great Kanhaway’.
At Montours Bottom: ‘a small guard of men consisting of nine and a stockade built by the adjacent inhabitants.’

General Hand Memorandum

Thus it appears that Vance’s Fort was built in late 1776 or early ‘77 on Montour’s Bottom as a site of refuge during the early days of the American Revolution.
— Robert A. Jockers "Forgotten Past" June 22, 2006, pages 26-28