Historical Markers
Kuskuskies Towns Historical Marker
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Kuskuskies Towns

Pittsburgh Region


Marker Location:
Junction Pa. 18 and 108 S of New Castle

Dedication Date:
March 19, 1948

Behind the Marker

"Kushkushkee is divided into four towns, each at a distance from the others; and the whole consists of about ninety houses, and two hundred able warriors." -Christian Frederick Post

Strings of glass beads, a silver ornament with an engraved deer, and a fire starter set consisting of an English flint and iron striker, illustrate the Delaware (Lenape) Indians' dependence on trade during the 1700s.  These are among the many items collected at the Kuskuskies Town site, Lawrence County, during a 1960 archaeological investigation.
Trade artifacts excavated at Kuskuskies Town in Lawrence County, PA.

The French and Indian War is remembered in Pennsylvania history chiefly for the hostilities between colonists and Indians, but the war also caused considerable division within Pennsylvania's Native American communities. Some remained neutral while others allied with the French and others with the British.

This calculus was constantly changing, depending upon which European power seemed most likely to meet the Indians' demands for fair trade and security in their lands. If divisions arose within a tribe or village over which side to take, a portion of the population might split off and resettle among other Indians who shared their preferences. This process reshaped the geography of Pennsylvania during the latter half of the eighteenth century, creating new points of influence and political pressure among Native Americans.
The British had promised to withdraw from the Ohio Country after they defeated the French, but instead constructed Fort Pitt and turned the land around it into settlements. This painting by Robert Griffing depicts the Indians looking down upon the fort and the beginnings of the city of Pittsburgh, and realizing the British are not leaving, but instead are taking over.
The Eastern Frontier, by Robert Griffing.

One such place was Kuskuskies Towns, a collection of four communities on the Beaver River, north and west of modern Pittsburgh. Like many of the native communities in western Pennsylvania, Kuskuskies had a mixed population consisting primarily of Delaware, Shawnee, and Iroquois. After the raid on markerKittanning in 1756, the population of Kuskuskies swelled with displaced Indians. While pro-French natives in the Allegheny Valley resettled near Fort Duquesne and markerLogstown, many of those living in Kuskuskies had neutral or pro-British sympathies. Re-establishing peaceful relations with those Indians became an important part of the British effort to dislodge the French from the Forks of the Ohio.

In 1758, Pennsylvania Governor William Denny dispatched Moravian missionary markerChristian Frederick Post with a marker message of peace to the Ohio Indians. For his safe passage through western Pennsylvania, Post relied heavily on his companion Pisquetomen, who came from a distinguished Delaware lineage with considerable influence at Kuskuskies.
Image of a tree lined rural road  in front of Trinity Lutheran Church looking north on Brandt School Road in what was was then Franklin Township, Allegheny County
Brandt School Road, Franklin Park, Allegheny County, PA, circa 1930.

In August, as British General John Forbes was cutting a road through the Pennsylvania wilderness to Fort Duquesne, Post and Pisquetomen convened a series of treaty councils at Kuskuskies and other Ohio towns to ensure that the Indians would not attack Forbes's army. Pisquetomen's brother Tamaqua (also known to the British as King Beaver) provided a warm welcome to Post and assured him of the western Delawares' desire for peace with the British. They were also anxious for the restoration of the fur trade, but wary of the British desire for their homelands in the Ohio Country.

With the successful completion of Forbes's expedition against Fort Duquesne in November, Tamaqua and Pisquetomen became important negotiators between the Ohio Indians and the British troops who occupied the Forks of the Ohio and eventually Detroit.

Unfortunately, peace was restored only briefly. During Pontiac's Rebellion and the American Revolution, Native Americans in the Ohio Valley once again resorted to arms to protect their homelands against white squatters, soldiers, and land speculators.

While the text to this marker uses "abandoned" to describe the fate of Kuskuskies, it is more appropriate to refer to its inhabitants as being forced out of their homes by the tide of warfare and white settlement that continued unabated in western Pennsylvania after the peace negotiated by Post, Pisquetomen, and Tamaqua. The land occupied by Kuskuskies was eventually granted as rewards for military service to Pennsylvania soldiers who served in the American Revolution.
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