Spring Into History Conococheague Settlement Frontier & Colonial Tour

Spring Into History Conococheague Settlement Frontier & Colonial Tour

Step back 300 years and explore the earliest settlements of Franklin with the Franklin County Visitors Bureau Spring Into History Frontier & Colonial Tour on April 6, 9 AM to 4 PM. Participants will meet at the Franklin County 11/30 Visitors Center to begin the tour with a brief overview of early Franklin County and early America. The tour takes in sites of frontier settlement and raids by the native tribes. Living history portrayers at Conococheague Institute and Fort Loudoun. Learn about these early residents of the Cumberland Valley. Glimpse their lifestyle, culture, customs, and challenges.

Single tickets are $50/ person or two tickets for $75. Bring a friend and save! Lunch is included along with several historical items and information pieces. Payments can be mailed to Franklin County Visitors Bureau (FCVB), 15 South Main Street, Chambersburg, PA 17201 or dropped at the Franklin County 11/30 Visitors Center. For those preferring to register online, the event is live on Eventbrite and can be accessed here. (Eventbrite includes a processing fee.)

Experience a new awareness of American history and gain respect for the frontier settlers in the Spring into History Conococheague Settlement Frontier & Colonial Tour.

Fort Loudoun Colonial Days

Fort Loudoun Colonial Days

Fort Loudoun Historical Society invites all to Colonial Day at Fort Loudoun on Saturday June 16th, 9am to 3pm. Fort Loudoun was a provincial fort built in 1756 by the Colony of Pennsylvania during the French and Indian war and served as an important supply depot in the line of forts along the Forbes Road.  It was the site of the Cherokee Council with Colonel Henry Bouquet in 1758 and site of James Smith’s Black Boys Rebellion in 1765 which was depicted in the 1939 Film “Allegheny Uprising” starring John Wayne.

The event, sponsored by Fort Loudoun Historical Society, is free and family friendly.  Smell the campfires and hearth cooking, see log hewing and blacksmithing, and hear the tales of the 18th century frontier.  Demonstrations will be happening all day; fort repair by the Kittatinny Associators, blacksmithing by Mark Heckman, open hearth cooking by Rich Fox, axe throwing by Rob Schmelzlen, colonial farming and livestock by Dale Zimmerman, fiber arts by Bev Sanders, Native American Culture by Deb “Turtle” Swartz, and 18th Century medicine by Dr. Lee Davis.  Three lectures on topics related to Fort Loudoun:

  • 10 AM – History of Fort Loudoun by Andrew Newman
  • 11 AM – Native American Dress & Customs by Deb “Turtle” Swartz
  • 1 PM – Indian Raids on the Frontier by Calvin Bricker

For kids only, there will be a scavenger hunt and other activities. Children complete tasks, receive an award and compete for a chance to the win the grand prize drawing held at the Patton House at 3 PM.

Food, snacks, drinks and merchandise available for purchase from gift shop in the Patton House.

The Fort Loudoun Historical Society, a 501c3 tasked with managing and interpreting the fort site, is in the process of rebuilding the fort and making improvements.  It is launching a “Buy a Log” campaign to help close the gap on funding the project.  Be part of the fort’s future.

James Smith and the Siege of Fort Loudoun

James Smith and the Siege of Fort Loudoun

James Smith, who was born in Mercersburg, another frontier settlement in Franklin County, was captured in 1755, at age eighteen, as he was building the Braddock Road. Smith was taken captive by Caughnawaga Indians and was adopted by the tribe to replace a fallen warrior. While living with the tribe, he learned the ways of Indian warfare. In 1760, James Smith was freed in a prisoner exchange.

At the end of the French and Indian War, the Indian attacks along the frontier lessened. But, within two to three years, the attacks increased due in part to indiscriminate trading. Trading companies didn’t particularly care who paid for their goods, so guns, powder, lead, hatchets and knives ended up with the Indians. These goods were used against the settlers. The British issued permits to the traders without considering the danger such trade brought to the settlers on the frontier.

James Smith gathered a group of men who wanted to protect their land and their families and trained them to fight Indian style – using the cover of trees, bushes, fences—the very opposite of the formal British style of fighting in open lines. The men James Smith gathered were called Black Boys, painting their faces just as the Indians did. The Black Boys began stopping supply wagons and inspecting for weapons.

In March 1765 and May 1765, James Smith and the Black Boys burned contraband supplies—those items that would be used to attack the frontiersmen and their families. The traders sought help from the British at Fort Loudoun. Each incident brought confrontation between James Smith, his Black Boys, and the British soldiers of Fort Loudoun. The British captured the Black Boys; and in turn, the Black Boys captured the British. Prisoners were exchanged, but the British did not return the captured colonist’s guns—nine in all and a major point of contention to the frontiersmen.

On November 16, 1765, tensions peaked, and James Smith and the Black Boys attacked Fort Loudoun. At 7 PM, Fort Loudoun was surrounded by men shooting guns and yelling all night. More men joined the contingent and by 10 PM, one hundred Black Boys closed in on the fort, firing on all corners continuously. The British had little ammunition on hand, so the men were ordered not to fire. During the siege, the British soldiers only fired one return shot.

After two days of attack, a surrender of the frontiersmen’s weapons was arranged, and in return, James Smith and the Black Boys ceased the attack of Fort Loudoun.