Van Etten's 1756 Account of the Death of Thomas Quick

Browsing through issues of historical Pennsylvania newspapers, available online through the Philadelphia Free Library, a major piece of the Thomas Quick, Sr. puzzle fell into place with this contemporary account.  I've been gathering proof of his residency and death for some time but hadn't quite reached the stage of refuting some of the lore & speculation surrounding the elder Quick and his notorious namesake, son Tom Quick, Jr.

On January 29, 1756, The Pennsylvania Gazette published extracts of a letter from John Van Etten which adds significant detail (and long overdue corrections) to later accounts of the time, place, and death of Thomas Quick, Sr. during the French and Indian War:

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

By a Letter from Mr. John Van Etten*, of Upper Smithfield, in Northampton County, there is Advice, that on the 17th Instant**, one Thomas Quick, a Man above 70 Years of Age, was killed, scalped, stripped naked, and most cruelly cut in many Places, by the Indians :  That two other Men were killed and scalped at the same Time, belonging to Capt. Weeiner[sic] of the Province of New York, who had come over with said Quick to guard him while he should grind a Quantity of Wheat for some of the Neighbours :  That a Saw-Mill, Grist Mill, and very good Dwelling-house, belonging to Quick, were all burnt :  That a large Barn, Barracks, and a great Quantity of Wheat, the Property of one Cornelius D[e]witt, together with his Dwelling house, and all his Household Goods, which for some Time had been moved into the Jerseys, and brought back again but the Day before, were all destroyed :  That one Solomon Decker, as he was going to said Quick's Mill with a slea [sleigh?] load of Wheat, was fired at by some Indians, but not hurt; however he was obliged to leave his slea, and the Indians coming up to it, took the Bags, threw the Wheat that was in them all over the Ground, but carried the Two Horses, Gears [harness] and Bags with them : And that Mr. Van Etten's own Barn, Barracks, and all his Wheat, are likewise burnt, and three of his best Horses, with Gears, carried off by the Enemy; which gives him Reason to think, by then carrying off Horses and Gears, that they are building a Fort in the Swamp, betwixt where he lives and Susquehanna.  He adds, that he is well informed there are a Number of Frenchmen among the Indians.

* The author, Capt. John Van Etten of Fort Hyndshaw, is clearly distinguished from his brother Johannis [Johannes], in this letter addressed by him to Gov. Robert Hunter Morris of Pennsylvania on July 24th, 1756. John Van Etten also served as  a Northampton County Provincial Officer:  Justice of the Peace (1752-1754) and Coroner (1759, 1760).

** The word, Instant (often abbreviated inst.) refers to a recent occurrence in the present or current month.

This places the incident clearly within the context of a raid which killed not only Quick but his escort of two NY militia men, a raid which ranged over many miles from the Van Etten farm to the Quick Mills in present Milford Borough to the DeWitt farm in the span of one day.  The names of the escort remain unknown. 

Much as been written about the circumstances of this family, including Vernon Leslie's failed efforts to find a deed or deeds for the elder Quick which would establish him as a property owner in the Province of Pennsylvania, as outlined in Chapter 2, Where Was Quick's Mill?, in his frequently cited work The Tom Quick Legends, 1977.

The earliest record of Thomas Quick in the region is dated 27th of December, 1734:
"Thomas Quick requests one hundred Acres of Land near Matchepeconck on the Delaware River, on which he designs to build a Corn Mill there being none there about." ~ Minutes of the Board of Property and other References to Lands in Pennsylvania. Ed. by William Henry Egle, Harrisburg, C.M. Busch, State Printed, 1894, Minute Book K, page 55.

 Nicholas Scull's map of The Improved  Part of the Province of Pennsylvania, surveyed before but published three years after Thomas Quick's death, is the first to note the location of the tract in then Upper Smithfield township.

Site of Quick's Mill on the 1759 Nicholas Scull Map
The 1766 survey as recorded in the Pennsylvania Land Records confirms the 1750 tract name as Quick's Mill located on the Milford Township Warrantee Map, a portion falling within the present day boundary of Milford Borough and along the present day Vandermark Creek.

Quick's Mill tract on the Vandermark Creek, Milford Township Warrantee Map

Terrain view of the Vandermark Creek at Milford PA: 

View Minisink Valley Genealogy in a larger map

Two 1750 Warrants for land granted to Thomas Quick are found on the (subscription)  Pennsylvania, Land Warrants and Applications, 1733-1952.  The first ...adjoining or near Cornelius DeWitt above the Minisinks and and the second ...on Sawcreek about two miles from other Land granted him this same day. (Note Northampton County was set off from Bucks County 14 October 1751 shortly after the Warrants were issued.)

In 1761, William Ennes, Quick's son-in-law, husband of his daughter Elizabeth and appointed Administrator of the estate, was ordered to sell at auction the plantation of 200 acres to settle Quick's debts:  Northampton Co PA, Orphans' Court Records, Vol B* index, page 41


Researching the records of Pike County, formed in 1814, led me to the ledger, Entry of Deeds Acknowledged, Vol A, which records the auction of Unseated Lands sold for back taxes under the Commonwealth's Act of Mar. 13, 1815, P.L. 177. As required under that Law, each lot of unseated land lists the Warrantee's name and requires the County Treasurer, as Grantor, to issue a new Deed.  The opening page of this ledger states:

At an adjourned Court of Common Pleas held at Milford in and for the County of Pike on the eleventh day of June A.D. Eighteen hundred and Sixteen Present John Coolbaugh, Esq. and Daniel W Dingman, Esq. Judges of Said County the following Deeds were duly acknowledged in open court by Francis A L Smith, Treasurer of the said County according to Law.

Entry of Deeds Acknowledged, Vol A, pages 2 & 3

The following pages 16 and 17 from this ledger are but a brief example of the dozens and dozens of entries over multiple pages listing Thomas Quick as the Warrantee for the properties (most sold as town lots) and Treasurer Francis A L Smith as Grantor (Seller.)

Entry of Deeds Acknowledged, Vol A, Page 16

Among the Grantees (Buyers) purchasing land in 1816 as originally waranteed to Thomas Quick in 1750 are: p13, Daniel Dimmick, Mason Dimmick, Daniel W Dingman, Joseph Holbert, Joseph Jackson, James Barton, Jabez Rockwell; p15, Daniel Dimmick, Henry Van Camp, Jabez Rockwell, Thomas P Gustin, Joseph Mufsi, William Holbert, Daniel W Dingman, John Lattimore, Mason Dimmick, George Bowhannan; p17 George Bowhannan, Joseph Mufsi; p19, Joseph Mufsi; p21 Samuel ?, James Barton, Jabez Rockwell, John Brodhead, Henry Van Camp, David Wheeler; p23, David W Ridgway.

Entry of Deeds Acknowledged, Vol A, page 17

It is a fascinating glimpse of the 18th & early 19th century settlers into the Pennsylvania Minisinks, who are named across page after page of this ledger housed at the Pike Co Administration Building in Milford PA.

With biting wit, Stephen Crane's 1892 essay, Not Much of A Hero.  Examining the Record of "Tom" Quick, Indian Slayer.  A Notorious Character of Pioneer Times in Pennsylvania - His Monument Discreetly Silent as to His Virtues,  evaluates one small community's effort to lend glory to a gory tradition.

The record of treachery and brutalities committed by both sides during the French and Indian War is without question. Jay C. Richards' volume, Flames Along the Delaware: The French & Indian War in the New Jersey Frontier and Northampton County, Pa. summarizes these events and compiles excerpts of newspaper articles and extracts of inhabitants' letters from 1755-1758.  Richards did not include the Van Etten letter.

*"Pennsylvania, Probate Records, 1683-1994," images, FamilySearch, Northampton > Orphans' Court records 1752-1795 vol A-E > image 43 of 511.