Site of Fort Jenkins

Hill House 1939
Site of Fort Jenkins

Photo and caption courtesy of Gary Riggs: This photo came from my grandmother's photo album. The back of this photo is labeled "Hill House, site of Fort Jenkins, Lime Ridge, PA, 1939."


Chapter III - The Forts, page 13
The territory originally composing Columbia county was of considerable extent. It comprised all that portion of Northumberland county which lay west of the North Branch, except the single township of Point. Within its first described limits were three townships now in Schuylkill county, the whole of Montour, and the townships of Chillisquaque, Turbot, Lewis and Delaware, now in Northumberland county. All this, its cause and history will be more particularly referred to and given hereafter: but it becomes necessary to state the fact here, because in giving somewhat of the revolutionary history of the county, it is proposed to include sketches of all the forts and military stations within its original boundaries.

It had at least ten such forts or military stations within its borders, named and located as follows:

Beginning on the North Branch, we have "Fort Jenkins," located on Jacob Hill's farm, near Briarcreek.......

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Fort Jenkins was built on the farm of Jacob Hill, about six miles above Bloomsburg, and about twenty rods from the river. The fort was probably a dwelling house originally built by the man after whom the fort was named, for Mr. Hill says that a low place where he built his house was said to be the cellar of a house built by Jenkins. It is first mentioned as a fort in a letter of August 9th 1778, addressed to Lieut. Col. Zebulon Butler by Col. Hartley: he says-"I have established a post and a work is built at one Jenkins; about six miles below the Niscopeck Falls. There is now a garrison there which is to be strengthened to-morrow; when I am reinforced my wish is to extend our post to Wioming--should you not think yourself able to maintain yourself at Wioming, you are to march your troops to Jenkins' Fort, at the place I have mentioned." In a letter from Col. Hartley to the Council

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of War, dated Sunbury, August 10th, 1778, he says:--"All the people of the West Branch above Wallace's (who lives near Muncy) had fled and evacuated their settlements-so on the Northeast Branch, all above Nescopeck Falls were gone. I was resolved to hold posts at both these extremes, and have an intermediate one on the head waters of Chellesquaque-there had been a small work began near one Jenkinses about five miles from Nescopeck Falls, near Briarcreek, this I have garrisoned." In November, 1778, information was brought to Col. Hartley that the Indians were in force about Wyoming, and that another band was moving towards the forks of the Chillisquaque and had taken some prisoners. He says:-"I am drawing some little force together and to-morrow will endeavor to attack those Indians on the Chillisquaque if they kept in a body and make a movement towards Fishingcreek, which will probably be of use to the people of Wyoming." The enemy does not seem to have approached the settlements on the Chillisquaque and the Fishingcreek, owing doubtless to the Colonel's promptness: and on the 14th of November he writes to the Council from "Fort Jenkins, near Nescopeck:" "The enemy are in force between here and Wyoming. They seem very intent on plunder, by their desolations near this place: they expected the Frontiers to give way, but the good countenance of this garrison has saved all below." In April, 1779, Mr. Maclay writes that "Massacres and depredations have been committed at Wioming, Fort Jenkins, Fishingcreek [Fort Wheeler], Freeland's Mill, Fort Muncy and Loyal Sock, almost at one and the same time." And Lieut. Hunter writes on April 27th that on the Sunday preceding, the Indians attacked the inhabitants near Fort Jenkins and had taken two or three families prisoners, but about thirty men from the fort turned out and rescued them. The Indians, however, drove off a number of horses. In May 1779 there was a family of four persons killed and scalped on the North Branch opposite to Fort Jenkins. Nothing of their name or history has come to my knowledge. In July following, Col. Hartley moved his regiment towards Wyoming and left Fort Muncy and Fort Jenkins vacant. But in November Lieut. Hunter proposes to send 25 men to Fort Jenkins for "the support of the distressed

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inhabitants." Col. Lund, Weltner writes to the Board of War, December 13, 1779, in reference to the posture of several forts on his taking command:-"I found Fort Muncy on the West and Fort Jenkins on the East Branch, with the magazine at Sunbury, to have been the only standing posts that were occupied." In March, 1780, another raid was made, the Indians carrying away seven or eight prisoners from about two miles above the fort, and in writing of it Lieut. Hunter says:-"Now we have but about 30 men at Fort Jenkins which was not able to spare men enough out of the garrison to pursue the enemy that carried off the prisoners." Who they were I have not been able to ascertain. The few men at the fort were unable to maintain it. It was daily becoming more insecure. The Indians were gathering round and the terrified inhabitants were fleeing for their lives. They seem to have strengthened the place shortly after, for, on the 9th of April, 1780, writing from Northumberland, Col. Weltner says:-"I have manned three material out posts, viz. Fort Jenkins, Fort Montgomery and Bosley's Mills."

In September, 1780, a descent was made by about 300 Indians and Tories, and an attack made on Fort Rice, on the upper Chillisquaque, which was repulsed; but the Indians burned and destroyed everything in their power along the whole frontier, and Lieut. Hunter hearing of the advance on Fort Rice, ordered the evacuation of Fort Jenkins, which, with all the buildings about it, was burned by the detachment of the enemy which moved up the North Branch. It seems never to have been rebuilt. Mr. Jacob Hill furnishes the following information in relation to Fort Jenkins:-"Its location was about twenty rods from the river, and about half the distance from the North Branch canal. It stood upon the very spot upon which my house now stands. There are no remains left above ground, but I think there might be some pieces of the logs buried in the ground. There is a very low spot between my house and barn which is said to have been the well inside the fort. There is also another such a spot near my house, and about four rods from the former, which is said to be the cellar of a house built by Jenkins, and in digging the cellar for my house my hands found a quantity of stone which I took to be the foundation of some building, among which were some brick of rather singular dimensions about four or five feet under ground.

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I well recollect when the posts of the fort stuck out of the ground, but they can no more be seen. The posts were oak. The fields in the vicinity are scattered with arrows such as Indians use. This is all I can tell you about it. There has been so much building upon and around this spot that all marks of the fort are almost invisible."










Created October 17, 2008