Historical Markers
Frankstown Historical Marker
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Laurel Highlands/Southern Alleghenies


Marker Location:
US 22, .6 mile E of Hollidaysburg

Dedication Date:
April 1947

Behind the Marker

Image of a beaver pelt.
Beaver Pelt
"Came to Franks Town; but saw no Houses or Cabins."
-Conrad Weiser, 1748.

In the 1700s, the fur trade transformed Indian communities along the Pennsylvania frontier, sometimes for better but more often for worse. Places like Assunepachla sprang up and then disappeared within a generation, the Indian equivalent of Old West boomtowns. Also like those boomtowns, these frontier communities were places of intense economic activity and often violent behavior. Indian men hunted deer and beaver, and Indian women processed the pelts, scraping and drying them so that they were ready for sale. Colonial fur traders arrived in town trailed by packhorses loaded with guns, powder and shot, cloth, kettles, knives, hatchets, and other metal goods.
Cut-Out Silver Brooch (Kuskuskies).
Cut-Out Silver Brooch (Kuskuskies).

The traders also brought rum in quantities that had a devastating impact on Indian communities. Whereas clothing and metal wares were durable, productive goods that helped the Indians in their economic production, rum disappeared quickly and with little benefit to those who consumed it. Heavy drinking disrupted planting, hunting, or fishing, and led to fights, fires, and accidental deaths. Missionaries occasionally appeared in the Indians' communities and condemned the traders' rum, but their sermons often received an indifferent response from their hosts. When missionaries did manage to win some souls for Christ, resulting tensions with Indians holding onto their own religion often drove the missionaries and their new converts to move elsewhere.
An elderly Indian man holds a rifle in his hands.
How Many Beaver, by John Buxton.

Assunepachla was a hybrid Indian community, consisting of Delaware from the east and Shawnee from the west, both of whom had migrated to this region looking for new hunting grounds that would supply their participation in the fur trade. The Kittanning Path (also known as the Frankstown Path), ran from Paxtang (modern Harrisburg) on the Susquehanna River to the Allegheny River, and passed through Assunepachla at the Juniata River. In other words, this Delaware-Shawnee village was an important station on the major east-west route through southwestern Pennsylvania, and it quickly attracted colonial fur traders as well as Indians.

One such trader was Francis, or Frank, Stevens, from whom the town received its other name. Stevens was one of the first generation of colonial traders to take his business west of the Susquehanna, and he reportedly had a post at Assunepachla in 1734. As traders became better acquainted with their Indian customers and in some cases took Indian wives, they became more fixed in the landscape, their names attached to places like Frankstown, Raystown, LeTort's Town, Croghan's Gap, Hart's Sleeping Place, and Jack's Narrows. In this manner, English names gradually supplanted native ones, asserting a subtle but pervasive ownership over the Pennsylvania frontier.
Map of Frankstown Path, East
Frankstown path, East
Frankstown Path, west
Frankstown Path, west

WhenmarkerConrad Weiser marker traveled the Frankstown Path to markerLogstown in 1748, he found Frankstown emptied out of its population.marker Apparently, the Delaware and Shawnee families who lived there a decade earlier had moved on, perhaps farther west in search of more furs or security from encroaching settlers. Their world was rapidly changing, in part because of the trade they so avidly pursued with the colonial newcomers.

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