A Forgotten War
The French and Indian War began in 1754. The primary combatants were British America and the Iroquois Confederacy verses French Canada and several Indian tribes that were enemies of the Iroquois, such as the Shawnee and the Delaware.
During this conflict western York County (present day Adams County) was considered the frontier. Residents in this area would be prone to attacks by Indians and their allies.
Hance Hamilton lived on a farm near Marsh Creek when the war began. Due to concerns about Indian attacks, he decided to raise a militia company. Captain Hamilton trained his men well and they were eventually sent to Bedford County to garrison Fort Littleton in 1756. Captain Hamilton was made commandeer of the fort.
In the spring of 1756, McCord's Fort located a short distance from present day Chambersburg, was attacked by Indians. They overran the fort and then fled west with their captives. A militia force that followed the retreating Indians was augmented by a company of men sent by Captain Hamilton. When the militia caught up with the Indians they fought The Battle of Sideling Hill. The militia lost the battle and the survivors took refuge in Fort Littleton. Several York County men were casualties of that engagement.
Later in 1756, Captain Hance Hamilton and his men marched with Colonel Armstrong and helped that officer in defeating the French and Indians at Fort Kittaning. In 1758, Hamilton was promoted to lieutenant colonel of the First Battalion of The Pennsylvania Regiment and participated in the Forbes Expedition that secured Fort Duquesne from the French.
After the close of the war, Hance Hamilton returned to farming and milling in York County. His marriage produced ten children and he died on February 2, 1772. He is buried in Evergreen Cemetery in Gettysburg.
There were no official government forts built in present day Adams County during the war but four blockhouses or stockades were reported to have been built. They were built in the vicinities of Buchanan Valley, Marsh Creek, Bonneauville and on the Low Dutch Road. In spite of these fortifications, some settlers were unable to use them or they weren't available at the time of the attacks. As a consequence, several residents of the area were killed or abducted.
On April 5, 1758, a band of Shawnee Indians and Frenchmen attacked the Jemison homestead in Buchanan Valley. Sixteen year old Mary Jemison was abducted while her brothers escaped, but all others in the family were killed. She was brought to Fort Duquesne where she was adopted by two Seneca women. In spite of several opportunities to leave, she married twice and remained with her adopted Seneca people until she died at the age of ninety-one in 1833. She is buried at Letchworth State Park in Wyoming County, New York.
On April 13, 1758, a band of Delaware Indians attacked the Richard Bard family at their home in Virginia Mills, near Fairfield. Several family members and friends were killed in the attack. Shortly after capture, Richard Bard escaped but his wife Catherine was left behind. After two and a half years of captivity, Catherine was reunited with Richard at Fort Augusta in Sunbury, Pennsylvania.
Learn more of Mary Jemison
The French and Indian War in Pennsylvania