Transcriber’s note: The article was apparently reprinted in a Freeport, Ill., newspaper and ran originally in The Centre Democrat, Bellefonte, Pa., but that date is not available. The article has been edited to delete some material that does not pertain to the Lincoln, Kansas, branch of the Askey family, who are descended from the pioneer Thomas Askey and his son, Samuel, mentioned below. Among the Askeys who were Lincoln County pioneers were James McKibben Askey and Eliza Askey Walls. Transcriber Tracee Hamilton is descended from this family.
On Jan. 6, 1909, Mrs. Orpha Pletcher died at her home near Howard, Pa. She was the widow of the late D.P. Pletcher, and was born Orpha Askey, near Howard, in 1825. The Askey name is closely identified with the early history of Howard and the Bald Eagle Valley, and in her death the last of her name in that neighborhood passed away.
The incident brought to our office an interesting and carefully prepared article that was published in the Bulletin, Freeport, Ill., about nine years ago, which we republish owing to the local historical data in contains in reference to the death of Ellis Askey, formerly of Howard.
Ellis [Askey] (affectionately known as Father Askey) was one of nature’s noblemen – a gentleman of the old school, the representatives of which are rapidly vanishing. He was of a genial and hospitable disposition, never so well pleased as when dispensing his liberality and goodwill to those with whom he was associated. …
His ancestry – he comes of rugged Scotch-Irish revolutionary ancestry, paternal and maternal – whose history is traced in the annals of the earliest settlements of central Pennsylvania.
I quote from the Pennsylvania historical collections, page 29: "In 1763 General Gage had determined to repel the invasion of the Indians by carrying the war into their own country and Col. Bouquet was to precede with a small army against the Delawares and Shawnees beyond Ohio. Mark the following: id. "It creates a felling of sadness to know that this grandson of William Penn, in the city of brotherly love itself in July 1764, offered by proclamation the following bounties for the capture of scalps and death of Indians ranging from $50 to $150, according to age of victim.
In the "Annals of Buffalo Valley, 1775-1855," pp. 26 and 27, I quote – "November 5, 1768. On the 15th of November 1768, Thomas and Richard Penn purchased from the six nations at Fort Stanwix (now Rome, N.Y.) the remainder of the valley whose annals we are writing. As one of the incentives to this purchase, I may state that as early as the year 1764, the officers of the first and second battalions who served under Col. Bouquet made an agreement with each other in writing at Bedford that they would apply to the proprietaries for a tract of land sufficiently extensive and conveniently situated whereon to erect a compact and defensible town and also to accommodate each with a reasonable and commodious plantation, whereby their industry they might procure a comfortable subsistence for themselves and by the acres and increase become a powerful barrier to the province, and they therefore prayed the proprietaries to make the purchase and make them a grant of 40,000 acres a valuable land in the west branch of the Susquehanna. The mementos [sic] of the association are published in full in the first volume of the collections of the historical society of Pennsylvania.
Feb. 3, 1769, the commissioners of the officers of the first and second battalions met at the governor’s and obtained an order, allowing them to take up 24,000 acres to be divided among them in district surveys on the waters of the west branch of the Susquehanna, each three hundred acres to be seated with a family within two years from the time of the survey, paying 5 sterling per hundred and one penny per acre, etc. Among the names of the officers in whose favor the order of survey issued were Col. Francis Major de Haas. In the latter part of February many of the officers of the first and second battalions met at Fort Augusta and agreed to take the land upon the terms proposed by the proprietaries and that one of the tracts should be surveyed on the west branch adjoining Montour’s place [can’t read a few words]. In order to expedite business it was agreed that Capts. [can’t read], Piper, Brady and Lt. Askey should go along with Mr. McClay to Buffalo valley and Capts Hunter and [can’t read] with Mr. Soull to direct the survey in the Forks. Lots were drawn for the choice of lands. Lieut. Askey chose the site of Mifflinburg.
Id. p. 36, March 9, 1771. The officers of the first and second battalions held another meeting. Charles Lukens reported that the whole tract surveyed by him on Bald Eagle Creek contained [can’t read] which is 1,524 less than the quantity allowed them. He divided the Bald Eagle tract into 20 shares, the last of which Lieut. Askey got.
These surveys are recorded as the officers’ surveys in the new purchase. Major de Haas, one of the officers mentioned, located his tract adjoining Lieut. Askey’s. Bear in mind that the foregoing history is previous to the Revolutionary war – the officers were the actors in the French and Indian war.
(Historical collections p. 201) Few details of the adventures of the early settlers of Centre County have been preserved. Prior to the revolution most of the country was comprised in Bald Eagle and Potter townships of Northumberland County and its history is interwoven with that of the lower settlements on the west branch.
History says that Capt John Askey, another soldier of the Revolutionary war, etc., with McGee and others located where the village of Howard is now in 1782. The first settlers of the country were, as a general thing, people of education and ability. I quote the foregoing in order to correct the statement with reference to Capt. Askey. The pioneer’s name was Thomas, not John as stated. He was Lieut. Askey of the Revolutionary and grandfather to Ellis Askey of Ridott, Ill. John was a son of Thomas, the pioneer, and father of Ellis, born at the old homestead near Howard, in 1772. Thomas Askey, pioneer – place of birth uncertain. He hailed from Cumberland County, Pa., during the French and Indian war, was married to a daughter of Col. Robert Baker of Path valley.
Thomas Askey, the pioneer, served during the Revolutionary as an officer under that noble, ardent and daring Gen. Wayne, with whom he was a personal friend and of whom he was a great admirer. His oldest son, Robert, also served under Wayne in later years against the Indians. General Wayne was known to the Indians as "Mad Anthony."
Capt. Askey was in the army facing the British invaders at a time when his wife and family in their habitation where, nightly could be heard, in those days, the howl of the wolf and the cry of the panther, exposed to the tomahawk and scalping knife of the ruthless savages under their noted chieftain, Bald Eagle, upon the banks of the stream that bears his name – a chief that showed no mercy to the white race.
It was be remembered that Lieut. Askey was a co-worker and companion of Capt. John Brady.
Bald Eagle, who was bold and fearless, had his wigwam and his house on the banks of the stream of that name near where Milesburg stands, in Centre County, in the midst of an Indian village, which is called the Bald Eagle Nest, led the party of savages in 1778 that murdered James Brady, [son] of Capt. John Brady and younger brother of the brave Sam Brady of the rangers, in a harvest field along with his fellow laborers a short distance below the present site of Williamsport. Wounded with a spear, tomahawked and scalped, young Brady still lived long enough to describe the horrible scene with great minuteness. …
Grandmother Askey, mother of Ellis Askey, was a prim, unassuming little woman and a favorite with her grandchildren. She lived to a ripe old age and retained her mental faculties unimpaired to the close of life. Often has the writer sat, gathering from her lips the incidents and hardships of a pioneer’s life, of the time when the grandmother of Ellis was rearing her family on the banks of the Bald Eagle, while her husband was in the [can’t read] for neighbors the Mileses, the Boggses and the Holts, etc., of the time when she gathered her children and hastened to the woods and remained concealed overnight, listening to the whoops and howls of Bald Eagle’s savages who she imagined were massacring her friends and neighbors. When the morning dawned she saw an Indian whom she knew and who had been friendly approaching and passing her place of concealment on his way to her habitation. His appearance and movements did not indicate that he was on the warpath and she made known to him her presence, when he informed her that his tribe was executing capital punishment upon an Indian of another tribe, by stoning him to death. This was about the time when the Indians were preparing to go on the warpath, and it was necessary to be on the alert for fear of treachery. Finally in the year 1778 the alarm was given to the inhabitants on the frontier, to flee to the settlements further east in order to escape the tomahawk and scalping knife. This fight is recorded as the "Big Runaway."
She martialed her family and hastened to her former home in Path Valley. She remained in Path Valley till the close of the Revolutionary war, where in company with her husband and family returned to their homestead in Bald Eagle valley. Capt. Askey received pay for his services in the Revolutionary War in continental money, which very soon became worthless, thus leaving him, as was the case of thousands of soldiers of that war, comparatively poor in his declining years. The names of his sons were: Robert, William, David, John (father of Ellis), Samuel and James – may not be named in the order of birth. Robert, however, was the oldest, also the son referred to as being in Gen. Wayne’s army when operating against the Indians in Ohio. The writer knows nothing further than the names of William and Brady given by Ellis.
Samuel, known as Uncle Sam, was the pioneer of Snowshoe, having settled there in 1818. His record would fill a volume. He was with the army on the banks of Lake Erie when Commodore Perry with his vessels went forth to engage the enemy. He was not permitted to go along with the gallant man on account of having a wife and family – only single men were taken. He was a witness of the engagement, however, and one of the first to go on board after the engagement with the dispatches for the commodore. He was a noted hunter and trapper in the Alleghenies – a destroyer of wild savages and beasts that roamed the forest, the record of which in payment of bounties or scalps, were published at the time of his death, probably not exceeded by any hunter in central Pennsylvania.
He bore the scars on his body to the grave received from the claws of a panther with which he engaged in a terrific encounter with a knife and with the aid of his dogs, he destroyed. James died in manhood, leaving a widow, who afterwards became the wife of Col. Wm. McKibben, and mother of Joseph, Thomas and Jesse Mckibben, all of whom reside in this county. Joseph still living in Freeport, Ill. She died at Ridott, Ill., at an advanced age. Capt. Askey had three daughters, two of whom were married to [can’t read several words] of Charles Lukens, the name being afterwards changed to Lucas. Another daughter married a man by the name of Turner – nine children in all.
The biography of Thomas Askey, the pioneer, is not yet a part of the history of Centre County as far as known to the writer. A portion of the material is gathered and verified as will be seen from the "Annals of Buffalo Valley," taken from vol. 2, historical collections of Pennsylvania.
A portion came through the mother of Ellis Askey, also Ellis, the last male survivor of John (son of Thomas, the pioneer), the descendants of whom kept in mind the traditions and who remained the longest upon the tract surveyed and allotted to the pioneer.
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