Historical Markers
Walking Purchase (1) Historical Marker
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Walking Purchase (1)

Philadelphia and its Countryside/Lehigh Valley


Marker Location:
PA 212 & 412, .6 mile South of Springtown

Dedication Date:
January 7, 1949

Behind the Marker

Before dawn on September 19, 1737, Edward Marshall, James Yates, and Solomon Jennings met near the Wrightstown Friends Meetinghouse to begin their walk. Joining them was Sheriff Timothy Smith, who would serve as the timekeeper. Smith's job was to insure that the walk began no earlier than 6 a.m. and ended no later than 6 p.m.; the accepted definition of a twelve-hour day, from dawn to dusk.

Benjamin Eastburn, Nicholas Scull, John Chapman and James Steel, Jr. were also present to serve as witnesses for the Penn proprietors. The Lenape sent John Combush, Joe Tuneam (also known as "Neepaheilomon") and his brother-in-law, named Tom, as their witnesses to insure the fair conduct of the walk.

At sunrise the three walkers began their journey by running up the Durham Road. Two-and-a-half hours later the three men had already reached Tinicum, some nineteen miles from the starting point! Although he and the other walkers had trained for months, Jennings, exhausted, dropped out of the walk and retired to his home nearby. Marshall and Yates pushed on to Gallow's Hill in Springfield Township where they took a detour onto a road to the northwest. Shortly after, the two walkers took a fifteen-minute lunch break at the cabin of an Indian trader on Cook's Creek.

The astonished Lenape witnesses had already begun to complain that Marshall and Yates were running rather than walking, as stipulated in the treaty. But their arguments fell on deaf ears. Not surprisingly, the runners pushed on at a breakneck pace, crossing the Lehigh River and completing the day's journey at present-day Bethlehem. Once again, the Lenape protested. When Penn's representatives ignored their arguments, they angrily left for a nearby Indian village to spend the night.

When none of the Indian witnesses returned the next morning, Penn's agents went to the Indian village to request other witnesses. During this two-hour delay, Lenape chief Lappawinzo refused to comply, declaring that the white men had already taken "the best of the land... and they might go to the devil for the bad." But Combush and the two other Lenape witnesses eventually relented and rejoined the walkers for another ten miles before turning back in disgust. Despite hard rains that morning, the two walkers pressed on, passing the Blue Mountains before Yates fell exhausted about noon.

The agreement to sell the land whose boundaries were defined by the "walk" was signed on August 25, 1737, about three weeks before the walk actually took place. The questionable "walk" committed the Lenape to surrendering more land than they had anticipated.
The Walking Purchase Agreement
Only Marshall was left to finish the walk. Penn's agents allowed him to continue on for two more hours to compensate for the morning's delay. When Marshall finally completed the walk at 2 p.m. near present-day Mauch Chunk, he had covered sixty-five miles in eighteen hours. The walk destination point was marked by five oak trees emblazoned with Penn's name and the date, 1737.

Surveyors then cheated the Lenape out of even more land by plotting the upper boundary line of the purchase in a northeasterly direction, rather than due east at a right angle to the walk, as the Indians had expected. This extended the purchase twenty-one miles north of Port Jervis. When it was all done, Penn's sons had stolen 750,000 acres–about 1,200 square miles–of the Lenape's prime hunting lands, and pushed the frontier north towards the Poconos.

The so-called Walking Purchase created growing animosity between the Lenape and the Pennsylvania government, and eventually resulted in Indian attacks on white settlers. The tensions broke into all out war in 1756 when the Lenape and Shawnee joined the French against the English in the French and Indian War.

A similar markerWalking Purchase Marker may be found at the following location: US 611 at Ottsville.

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