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Thomas Crago, Sr.

From Draper Manuscripts, Series NN, Volume 6, pages 77-102.

Colonel William Crawford was born in the Conococheague Region (Chambersburg) of Pennsylvania August 6, 1744 and was an aquaintance of Thomas Crago.  The information presented here is in the form of a handwritten letter signed by John Crawford. Rather than the version in L.K. Evans or Howard Leckey's book, which is very close to this, this is an exact transcription of the portion of Crawford's letter to Draper pertainging to Thomas Crago with my notes in square barckets. This section has the following heading:

Narrative of
John Crawford, Esq. -
late of Green Co: p.a.
Written in 1831 as the preceeding letters show.
Commencing on page 77 - & ending on p. 102.

     "My father was married in the year 1767 to the daughter of David Kenady [Kennedy] near the forks of Coneguge [Conococheague River near present Worleytown, PA] & came to the Western Country in the year 1769 and made a small improvement and returned home. In the spring of 1770 he came out with an intention of continuing the said improvement but when he came to the spot he found one Roger Roberts at work on the land and wishing to have no dispute he sold Roberts his improvementfor a trifle and came to the west side of the Monongohela River and with his Negro man named Cook, he began an improvement.
     They had brought with them one cow to give them Milk. They built a cabbin cleared five acres of around and put it in Corn. As my Father had a wife he killed as much meat as he wanted for himself. My uncle John Crawford came out at the same time and improved land adjoining. After my father had laid by his Corn he hired Cook to William Shephard who with his wife had moved out the same Spring, and his wife Rebekah Shephard was the only white woman then in the bounds of what is now Greene County. The distance from Shephard's cabbin to my Father's was about three miles. Cook was to come every Saturday afternoon to see the corn.

     My Father started over the mountain to move out my Mother & my eldest sistor which was all the Child they had at the time, my Father at the mouth of Muddy Creek met with Thomas Crago, an old acquaintance from Conoguige [Conococheague]. He told my father he had two cows that they gave him plenty of Milk and could make butter if he had a churn. My Father gave him directions where to find his cabbin and to take his churn & keep it till his return from over the Mountain. 

    Accordingly Crago in a few days Came to the Cabbin  and took the Churn and on his return was met by four Indians two men & two women.  Those Indians attempted to take Cragoes horse to carry one of their party who had been wounded shortly before on the Monongohela near the Laurel point, by some whitemen from whom they had stole some property. As they were decending the River Crago would not give up his horse. A scuffle took place Crago got the  Indian down and one of the Indian women took a rifle & shot Crago through the head. 

    The next day as Coook came to see the Corn in company with John Moore and when they came within three fourths of a mile of my father's cabbin they came upon the dead body of Crago and my fathers Churn laying by him. 

    Moore left his gun with Cook to watch the corps [coprse] and gathered some of the neighbors buried Crago and followed the Indians to where they had camped the night before. They had not taken the horse half a mile till they tomhocked him and at their camp they had tomhocked a Dog to keep from barking as was supposed. 

    After burying Crago the party charged Kook not to tell Mrs. Shephard that the Indians had killed Crago as she was the only white woman in the cuntry which he promised to observe but when he returned, Mrs. Shephard asked him if he had seen anything of Thomas Crago.  He made no answer. She asked the second time & a third time and still no answer. She then asked him if the Indians had killed him. His answer then was that  men had told him not to tell her. This was telling her plane enough. A lye was unnatural to Cook. The last part of the foregoing tale I had from Mrs. Shephard's own mouth in last June 1831, for she is still living & perfectly intelligible though upwards of eighty years of age. 

    The reason Mrs. Shephard gave me for thinking the Indians killed Thomas Crago was as follows: Crago had as yet built no cabbin, but with his two little boys (Thomas & Robert) lived in a camp by the side of a log.  The eldest boy was eleven the younger nine years of age.  The youngest boy Robert had got his hand burnd and every Morning for some time had came to to Mrs. Shephard to get his hand dressed.  The morning after their father was killed boys came as usual to get to get Robert's hand dressed. They told Mrs. Shephard, "Dady has run away". "Where is he run to" says Mrs. Shephard. The boys said "he had the day beforewent to Bill Crawford's Cabbin to get a churn and had not returned."

     From that moment Mrs. Shephard thought the Indians had killd him for certainly he would not have left those little boys all night by themselves.


Howard Leckey, in his book "The Tenmile Country and It's Pioneer Families", wrote that Crawford and Crago served in Captain Evan Shelby's Company in Colonel Henry Boquet's Army. Leckey deduced that the events recounted above probably took place around 1770 near the present-day town of Crucible. According to Lehky, the younger son Robert later served in the Cumberland County Militia, while the older son Thomas later returned to his father's land which was patented to him in 1835.

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