Stopping by the Joseph Ennes Tavern, 1807

References to the Joseph Ennes Ferry and Tavern are scarce* so it was a treat to read through Frederick Pursh's rather cranky journal pages of his visit to the Minnisink.  Disagreeable as his rest was among the raftmen he would return once more to the Ennes Tavern in present day Sandyston Township before traveling south to the Water Gap.

Note the unnamed tavern in Millford [Milford] also functioned as a Post office, where Pursh addressed a letter to Dr. Benjamin Smith Barton, his patron in 1805 and with whom he was working on a new flora of North America. His description of travels along the river road and up into the higher terrain with its many waterfalls between Milford and Dingmans on the Pennsylvania side are a delight.  He would make a side trip into the lovely  Flatbrook, aka the Flat Kill, valley which parallels the Delaware one ridge over in Sussex County. His actual route, in hyphens, fell short of his proposed route, highlighted in yellow, into Sandyston and Montague townships NJ perhaps due to the weather as noted in the journal.


Detail, the annotated Pursh map, 1806. American Philosophical Society Digital Library.

Pursh's map of his route is an annotated copy which he terms the, old touren map, acquired on the journey (entry of June the 12th.) Given the placement of Seely's mill and Sheimer's mill, and surname variant of the latter, this is most likely after the Reading Howell map of 1792.




The Ennes Ferry House & Tavern on the east side of the river

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American Sycamore ~ Platanus occidentalis (center); Silver Maple ~ Acer saccharinum (right)

*"Wesley Van Auken House, also known as the Ennis Ferry House," Sandyston Township, Old Mine Road Historic District, section (I), NPS, US Dept. of the Interior.

"Ferries on the Delaware River Between Easton, Pa., and Port Jervis, N.Y.," Dr. B. F. Fachenthal, Jr., 1908, p 166.

The Battle of Conashaugh Affidavits

The 19th century applications for pension based on Revolutionary War service affidavits contain details of the April 1780 action though many years had intervened to perhaps color those memories and family accounts.  Herein a transcribed collection of existing material in the Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land-Warrant Application Files supporting primary source evidence detailing the deaths of only three men in the spring of 1780 as found in The 1780 Account of the Battle of Conashaugh.

The files are part of Record Group 15, Records of the Veteran Administration.

Affidavit excerpts:

Pvt. Gideon Cole, age 83, 1846, File S9210
...That in the year Seventeen hundred and Eighty Deponent again entered the service of the United States as a volunteer under the same officers [Major Samuel Westbrook and Captain Peter Westbrook] and served five months in manner as before.  Stated that during this period of service intelligence was brought to the fort by one Phillip McCarty that the Indians were collected in large numbers on the Pennsylvania side of the Delaware River.  Early next morning the company to which Deponent was attached were ordered to march against the Indians Captain Peter Westbook and Major Samuel Westbrook commanded.  After crossing the Delaware River into Pennsylvania the Company was divided. Captain Peter Westbrook commanded one portion and Major Westbrook the other.  Deponent was commanded by Captain Westbrook who directed our march to a small stream called the Connesook [Conashaugh], the other portion under the command of Major Westbrook marched in the direction of the Remans Kill [Raymondskill] The Company under command of Captain Peter Westbrook to which the deponent was attached after marching about three miles from the Delaware River came up with the Indians who were laying in ambush.  A battle ensued and after hard fighting with our enemy behind rocks and trees and after having lost our Captain and a number of the soldiers we were compelled by a quantity superior force to retreat.  The killed in this engagement as near as deponent now recollects were Captain Peter Westbrook, Lieutenant Benjamin Ennis and Richard Rosencranse, the wounded were James Van Etten and Samuel Helm ...

Pvt. Andrew Dingman, age 80, 1832, File S22731
... He further says that shortly afterwards [1780] he turned out as a volunteer under Major Samuel Westbrook and Captain Peter Westbrook two brothers from the State of New Jersey and Captain Johannes Vannetten and Lieutenant Benjamin Ennes of the State of Pennsylvania, that the party had a skirmish on the Pennsylvania side of the river Delaware near a house then occupied by Philip McCarty, in which one Indian supposed to be the chief was killed - the Indians retreated, and were pursued by the party for a distance of four or five miles when they lay in ambush and again gave battle - in which Captain Peter Westbrook & Lieutenant Benjamin Ennes and a young man by the name of Richard Rosencrantz were killed, Samuel Helms wounded in both his thighs and James Vanetten in the shoulder - and he the deponent assisted in bringing in and burying the dead ...

Pvt. Samuel Helm, age 72, 1832, File S4356
...That in the Spring of the year Seventeen Hundred and Eighty he joined Captain Peter Westbrook's Company as a volunteer who was then stationed in the County of Sussex in the State of New Jersey on the Delaware River under the Command of Major Samuel Westbrook and served until the 20th of April of same year; on that day a party of Indians were discovered from the fort where we were stationed on the opposite side of the Delaware River in the County of Northampton (now Pike), State of Pennsylvania, we were immediately ordered to cross the River and attack the Indians; commanded by Major Samuel Westbrook & Captain Peter Westbrook we marched against the Indians, soon after we had landed on the Pennsylvania shore we discovered the Indians in Ambush. After we had discharged several guns at them and received their fire several times the Indians retreated to the Mountains with the  loss of their party who appeared to be their Commander or chief from the appearance of his D__.  Our commanding officers directed us to pursue them we did pursue them about four miles into the mountains and when in about Pistol  ___ distance from them (they being in Ambush) we received their fire from so sudden and unexpected an attack we were thrown into some confusion but by the Bravery & example of our commanding officers soon again were called and returned their fire.  The Battle lasted some time hot & bloody.  After discharging several [or seven] times my rifle (two words struck out) and in the act of discharging it again I received a wound through both my thighs which disabled me; when endeavoring to support myself by my rifle I observed our Captain Peter Westbrook fighting within one rod of the enemy calling on his men to advance soon however he was killed. Our Lieutenant Benjamin Ennis was also killed in the engagement.  Richard Rosencrantz was also killed & James Van Etten was wounded, after Capt Peter Westbrook was killed Capt Johannes Van Etten took the Command ___ finding our Captain & Lieutenent killed & some of the Soldiers wounded and our numbers small compared to that of the Indians we were obliged to retreat. __ Andrew Dingman, Josephus Westbrook, Martinus Westbrook, Benjamin Hains & Gideon Cole were in the engagement.... 

Pvt. Barnardus Swartwood, age 73, 1832, File S22522
... He further saith that in the same year [1780] he served as a private in the Pennsylvania Militia at the Fort which was thrown up around the house of Captain Johannes Van Etten for the term of five months, Captain Van Etten commanded the troops in the Fort during which time an engagement took place with the Indians near the house of Phillip McCarty on the Pennsylvania side of the River Delaware in which one Indian was killed, from the appearance of his d___ was supposed he [was] an officer.  The Indians retreated into the woods three or four miles where the Militia again gave them Battle in which Captain Peter Westbrook & Lieutenant Benjamin Ennis were killed the last named officer was scalped.  Samuel Helm was wounded in both thighs & James Van Etten was wounded in his shoulder.  The said Benjamin Ennis was the brother in law of this deponent and the deponent saith he helped to carry the said Benjamin Ennis after he was killed to the Fort above mentioned ... 

Pvt. Abraham Decker, age 79, 1833, File S5332
"...Indians gave way having sustained a loss of several men, one of whom was ascertained to have been the Commander of the Indians from the peculiarity of his ___.  The Indians were pursued about four miles in the woods where they made a stand and gave battle after a bloody conflict the Americans were compelled to retreat, in this engagement Captain Peter Westbrook, Lieutenant Benjamin Ennis and Richard Rosencrantz were killed, James Van Etten was wounded in the shoulder and Samuel Helm in both his thighs."

Cornelia Decker Van Etten LaBar, widow of Ensign John Van Etten, 1846, File W4474/BLWT26699-160-55
... that her husband was also in the Indian Battles the one at Coneshaw [Conashaugh], on the west side of the River Delaware in now Pike County ... that her husband's father Johannes Van Etten had a fort on the west side of the Delaware River and was a Captain in the Revolutionary War.

Sarah Van Auken, daughter of Capt. Peter Westbrook, 1851, File W18321
... that her father the said Peter Westbrook was called into actual service at or about the commencement of the revolution and was almost constantly engaged in defending the frontiers from the British and Indian incursions till he was killed by the Indians at the battle of Minisink on the nineteenth day of April one thousand seven hundred and eighty.

James Westbrook, son of Major Samuel Westbrook, 1851, File S11714
... that in April 1780 he was in an engagement with the Indians near Upper Smithfield in the County of Northampton Penna where his brother Capt. Peter Westbrook also then in service was killed ...

The New Jersey Gazette, May 3, 1780, Vol III, Issue 123, Page 3, Trenton, New Jersey


The map pushpin indicates the historic McCarty House, c 1740, just south of the Raymondskill Creek gorge and north of the Conashaugh Creek gorge.



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The 1780 Account of the Battle of Conashaugh

While searching NJ, NY, & PA historical newspapers for the term Minisink using the long s form, literally Minifink, the following brief gem turned up.  In our local history the so called Battle of Conashaugh looms large but for a nation-a-birthing it appeared as barely a footnote, a 104 word paragraph woven into the dramatic events of the time. 

The New Jersey Gazette, May 3, 1780, Vol III, Issue 123, Page 3, Trenton, New Jersey: 

(c) NewsBank and/or the American Antiquarian Society. 2004.
Transcription:

Trenton, May 3
We are obliged to the gentleman who sent us the following:
...
About the 17th ult.* a party of Indians were discovered at Minisink, in Pennsylvania, and on Thursday following some of the Jersey militia passed the Delaware and engaged them; a severe conflict ensued, which ended in a total defeat of the Indians.  They left their commanding officer dead on the field, and by the orderly book and papers found on him, he appears to be one Daily, (a whiteman) formerly of Somerset county.  We had Captain Westbrook, a Lieutenant, and one private killed, in the engagement; - the Indians left behind them fix blankets, two watch-coats, several packs, and a quantity of provisions.


*Ultimo (often abbreviated ult.): Ultimo or Ultimo Mense is a Latin term/phrase that refers to an occurrence from last month. 

The Pennsylvania Evening Post of May 5 and The Pennsylvania Packet of May 6 both carried the same paragraph, datelined Trenton, May 3.  Neither the Lt. nor the Pvt. were graced with a surname but a letter published by the Pennsylvania Archives supplies the details of the engagement, places the action within the landscape and names the dead. The author of the letter, John VanCampen, was then Northampton County Councillor elect to the Supreme Executive Council of Pennsylvania.  He addressed President Reed of that council:

Lower Smithfield, April the 24th, 1780.

Hon'd Sir,

I hope my last by Mr. Mixer is Come to hand informing you of the Incursion of the Indians at the house of Manuel Gunsaleyes
[Gonsalez]. herewith inform your honour of their later attempts. James McCarte [McCarty] with his family was Removed to the Jersey, on the 20th Instant his Sons went to their home to feed the Cattle, Discovered signs of Indians, Returned to the Jersey Immediately & acquainted Major [Samuel] Westbrook and Captain [Peter] Westbrook the signs they had Discovered, they Sent Immediately for some of their best men & Croos'd the River that night, about sun rise the morning following Discovered the Indians Nigh the Barn and began the attack ; the number of the Enemy is supposed to be about fourteen ; the Major Received no Damage with his party  the Indians retreated to the woods ; the major was Reinforced by Capt. [Johannes] Vannatten [Van Etten], with three of his sons & son in Law, Pursued the Indians by the Blood, & about two miles Came up with them. As it is without Doubt three of them was wounded, Renewed the attack, Drove the Indians in a few minutes, they Ran to the edge of a thick wood ; Captain Vannatten maintained his Ground with his few men, the Major with his men also, Captain Westbrook's men left him at the first fire from the Enemy in the woods, which was the ruin of the whole; but the ground maintained for some time & the retreat secured by the Major & Vannatten ; Kill'd & missing on the part of the Major & Vannatten: Captain Westbrook missing, not yet found, Benjamin Ennis [Ennes] kill'd, son in law to Capt. Vannatten, Richard Rosekrans kill'd and two more wounded. Of the Enemy Kill'd, two found, one an officer, appearing by his Dress, found in his pocket a Regular Journal from the first of March until the 16th Inst., as appears by his Journal there is three hundred & Ninety marched from Niagagari [Niagara] , divided into Different parties, the Officer was a White man.

Respective Sir,
I'm now under Difficulties of mind, what the Event will be God only knows, the people are Determined to Evacuate the Country, as there appears no prospect of Relief by the millitia.

I am Sir, with Due Respect,
Your Most Huble servt.,
John VanCampen


P. S. The said McCartee, where the attack began, is about two miles Below Wells' ferry
[Milford], on the Banks of Delaware.

Capt. Vannatten lives in Delaware Township, one mile Below McCartee's.
 
Directed. To his Excellency, Joseph Reed, President of the Executive Council, Philadelphia.


The map pushpin indicates the historic McCarty House, c 1740, just south of the Raymondskill Creek gorge and north of the Conashaugh Creek gorge.


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 19th Century Accounts

The Rev. Joseph F. Tuttle, in an address before the gathering at the 1853 celebration of the Sussex Centennial held in Newton would quote, without embellishment, from the original newspaper account of the action.


The First Sussex Centennary, 1853.

In 1879 a melodramatic account, "Conneshaugh Battle:  A Sad Incident of Early History in the Lower Delaware" by W. [William] H.[Harrison] Layton, appeared in The Evening Gazette, mistakenly setting the action in the year 1776, inflating the number of dead to "18 or 19 having been killed at the scene of the struggle," and elevating the description of the action from a skirmish into a battle.

"Conneshaugh Battle..."

In 1886, seven years after The Evening Gazette article appeared, and one hundred and six years after the events of 1780, Alfred Mathews would interview a handful of informants and publish their version of the alleged thirteen militiamen killed in action in his volume, History of Wayne, Pike, and Monroe Counties, Pennsylvania.  Within a few paragraphs he also transcribes the full text of the VanCampen letter:  It will be noticed, he writes, that it disagrees in details with the account already given, but in the main supports it.

The difference between three and thirteen men killed is considerable.  Three men were noted in the contemporary press, named in full by VanCampen, and in the 19th century Revolutionary War Pension Files affidavits, while no trace is found of Mathews' informants' additional and nameless ten militia men.   

Mathews further claims "the dead were taken up and buried in the old Minisink burying ground," though Pvt Barnardus Swartwood in his pension Affidavit of 1832 stated: The said Benjamin Ennis was the brother in law of this deponent and the deponent saith he helped to carry the said Benjamin Ennis after he was killed to the Fort above mentioned [Lt. Ennes' father-in-law, Johannes Van Etten's fortified home on the Conashaugh].

Mathew's History, p 94.

So what actually occurred during the action of 1780 along the narrow creek gorges and steep hillsides in Pike County Pennsylvania to account for the fluctuating number of dead, the claimed evidence of a mass burial of militiamen at the old Minisink Village burying ground?  Time - only time passing - for the late 19th century folklore, contradicted by the primary source evidence detailing the deaths of only three men in the spring of 1780, is not history but legend.

May they, Capt. Peter Westbrook, Lt. Benjamin Ennes and Pvt. Richard Rosencrance, rest in Peace.

Pennsylvania Settlers of the Minisink 1740 - 1751

The Bucks County Warrant Registers found at the Pennsylvania State Archives record an interesting overview of the colonial landowners on the West side of the Delaware River in present day Pike or Monroe Counties. These documents often named neighboring grant holders and additional lands held as well as features within the landscape. 

Note the Warrant Registers frequently refer to the location with the place name Minisink, Minisinks, or Minesincks, citing the original application and warrant, but this would rarely carry over onto the survey. The State's surveys were sometimes commissioned many years after the grant of land and may refer to the township and county of the later period. Present day townships may be jotted in the corner or noted on the reverse of the survey and are also found in the compilation of surveys in the Township Warrantee Maps.

Surname variants may appear on the Application, the Warrant and the Survey. Patentees which differ refer to a later sale or heir to the tract. Acreage listed in the Warrant may differ slightly after the more precise survey was conducted.

Click on the link to see the Register page or Survey.  Highlighted names will open a link to the Family Search Warrants 1734 - 1769 in the Pennsylvania Probate Records. The remaining warrants can be found on Ancestry.com (subscription) under Pennsylvania Land Warrants & Applications. Tract, actual warrant descriptions and place names as cited are in italics, the present day township as found on the Warrantee maps are in parentheses ( ):

10 April 1740, Register, John Van Campen, 100 acres,  Survey Note additional settlers on this Register page include:  John Van Etten (1750), Gilbert Vangarder (1750), Gilbert Vancamp (1750), Cornelius Vanakin (1750.)

2 October 1742, Register, Lenor ( ?) Cuykendall, 188 acres, Survey. Land situate below Walpack Ferry in Smithfield Township. 

24 May 1742,  Register, Samuel DePue, 100 acres, Survey, Minisink, situate on the Bushkill (Lehman Twp.) Note additional Minisink settlers on this Register page include:  Samuel DePuey [DePue] (1738), Moses DePue (1743), Andrew Dingman, (1744 - Delaware Twp), Christopher Denmark (1745 - Delaware Twp.)

30 Nov 1744  Register, Simon Westfall,  Survey  to Cornelius DeWytt [DeWitt] in right of Simon Westfall,122 acres, (Milford/Westfall Twp.)

12 June 1749 Register, Cornelius Dewytt, [Dewitt], 100 acres, Survey, Smithfield, (Westfall Twp.)

Westfall Township Warrantee Map for Cornelius DeWytt [DeWitt] tract of 1749.


4  Mar 1750  Register, Peter Robeson [Robinson], Survey 118 acres, Flemings Valley, Remmonds [Raymondskill] Creek, Minisinks. Peter Robinsonadjoining Brewer Dacker [Broer Decker] and Guisbard [Guisbert or Gilbert] Van Camp (Dingman Twp).

11 Mar 1750  Register, Tunis Middagg, [Middaugh], Survey 91 acres, Upper Smithfield (Milford/Westfall Twp.)

11 Mar 1750  Register, Thomas Quick, Survey 103 acres, above the Minesinks (Milford Twp.)

11 Mar 1750  RegisterJohn Williams, Survey 63 acres, Upper Smithfield (Lehman Twp)

13 Dec 1750  Register, James McCarty, Survey, 50 acres, at the Minesincks (Milford Twp.)


20 Dec 1750  Register, Anthony Bunscotta, Survey, 45 acres, Minisink (Lehman Twp.)

20 Dec 1750  Register, Henry J Cortrach [Cortright], Survey, 12 acres, Upper Smithfield (Dingman Twp.)

20 Dec 1750  Register, Brewer [Broer] Decker, 100 acres, multiple surveys, Minisincks (Lehman/Delaware Twp.)

20 Dec 1750  Register, Andrew Dingman, 30 acres, SurveyMinisincks (Delaware Twp.) 

20 Dec 1750  Register, Herman Rosencrans, Survey, 62 acres, Minisinks (Westfall Township)


21 May 1751 Register, Garret Brink, Survey, 54 acres, Brinks Creek, at the Minesinks (Delaware Twp.)         


The PA State Archives' Warrantees of Land in the Several Counties of the State of Pennsylvania, 1730-1898, edited by William Henry Egle, 1898, also lists Bucks County Warrants, arranged by first initial of the surname (variants), then date.


Each of the Surveys cited in this article can be found on the Warrantee Maps, present day townships:

Pike County Township Warrantee maps, Pennsylvania Historic & Museum Commission 
Wayne County Township Warrantee maps, Pennsylvania Historic & Museum Commission 
Monroe County Township Warrantee maps, Pennsylvania Historic & Museum Commission
Bucks County was one of the original Pennsylvania counties formed on 10 March 1682; Northampton Co set off from Bucks County 14 October 1751; Wayne Co set off from Northampton Co 21 May 1798; Pike Co set off from Wayne Co 26 March 1814; Monroe Co set off from Pike and Northampton Counties 1 April 1836.

 See also MVG's collection Historical Maps of the Minisink 1755 - 1875.

UPDATE:  An automated, fully-word-searchable transcription of the Northampton County Warrant Register, transcribed by volunteer Marie Robinson, is now available online.

An excerpt from the quite useful Land Records Guide of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania:

 "...During William Penn’s proprietorship, much of the land settlement was never recorded formally so squatting on land was common practice. Land that had been settled under this policy was considered improved land. All other lands vacant were considered unimproved lands. In order to regulate the settling of their lands and to retrieve payment from squatters who settled before 1754, the Penns [heirs of William] further updated the application system, which consisted of a series of documents including application, warrant, survey, and patent...."

Disputes over Warrants may be found in Minutes of the Board of Property and Other References to Land in Pennsylvania including Proprietary (Old) Rights; Pennsylvania Archives, Vol II, Harrisburg, 1894.

1766 Applications for Warrant

Identified place names:
Deckers Creek - present day Hornsbeck Creek
Remmonds or Rimmonds Creek - present day Raymondskill Creek
Swartwood Creek or Swartwoods Mill Creek - present day Toms Creek

Unidentified place names:
Brink's Creek - ?

UPDATE:  Pennsylvania Residents have FREE access to PA Land Records on Ancestry providing they also have a free Ancestry account: Click the PA State Portal page for more information.