Captain Thomas Robinson

Captain Thomas Robinson, from The History of Centre and Clinton Counties
author John Linn Blair, published by Louis H. Everts, Philadelphia, 1883.
Narrative begins on page 476


Capt. Thomas Robinson, who commanded a rang- 
ing company, was an exceedingly valuable officer 
upon the frontier. He was commissioned Feb. 10, 
1781. His lieutenant was Moses Van Campen. His 
company had the sharp engagement with the Indians 
on Bald Eagle Creek hereinafter referred to. He 
built a block-house on the site of Fort Muncy in 
April, 1782. In March, 1783, he was placed in 
charge of the fort at Wyoming, and was of great ser- 
vice in quieting disturbances among the inhabitants 
there consequent upon conflicting claims in land 
titles. He served there until after the regular army 
was discharged, in November, 1783. Capt. Henry 
McHenry (father of A. H. McHenry, Esq.), Second 
United States Infantry under Gen. Wayne, in the 
Indian war of 1794, when a boy fifteen years old, 
served under Capt. Robinson at Fort Rice, which 
now is in Montour County. Capt. Robinson, after 
the war, settled at Robinson's Island, east side of Pine 
Creek, one and one-half miles from its mouth. He 
bought part of the John McEwen warrantee, one 
mile below where the Walkers murdered the Indians. 
One morning Mrs. Robinson went out to the creek 
for water, the body of the big Indian had raised, and 
lay on the upper side of their canoe. 

After the war Capt. Robinson engaged in the land 
business. The tract of land on which Young Womans- 
town is situated was surveyed on a warrant in his 
name Oct. 6, 1786. He was up the North Branch on 
land business when he took sick, and coming down 
the river in a boat exposed to the rays of the sun, 
being greatly neglected by the people with him, his 
disease was aggravated, and he died at Wyoming in 
August, 1792. His daughter Mary married John 
Cook, of Pine Creek township, father of Robert G. 
Cook, of the firm of Pardee & Cook, of Lock Haven. 
Mrs. Cook was still living in Lock Haven in 1856 ; 
recollected seeing her father's horse brought home 
after his death. 

Lieut. Moses Van Campen, in his narrative, gives an 
account of the severe engagement which Robinson's 
company had on Bald Eagle Creek. He says, 
" About the 10th or 11th of April, 1782, Capt. 1782. 
Robinson came with Squire Culbertson, James 
Dougherty, William McGrady, and a Mr. Barkley to 
the block-house at Wallis', above Muncy, and I was 
ordered to select twenty or twenty-five men, and with 
these gentlemen proceed up the West Branch to the 
Great Island, and thence up Bald Eagle Creek to the 
place where a Mr. Culbertson had been killed." [This 
was on the Capt. James Irvine tract, a mile west of 
the present limits of Lock Haven, on which there 
was a spring called in the survey of 1769 " Hicks' 
Spring."] " On the 15th of April we reached the place 
at night and encamped. On the morning of the 16th 
we were attacked by eighty-five Indians. It was a 
hard-fought battle. Squire Culbertson' and two 
others made their escajie. I think we had nine killed, 
and the rest of us were made prisoners. We were 
stripped of all our clothing except our pantaloons. 
When they took off my shirt they discovered my 
commission. Several got hold of it, and one fellow 
cut the ribbon with his knife, and succeeded in ob- 
taining it. They took us a little distance from the 
battle-ground, and made the prisonei's sit down in a 
small ring, the Indians forming around us in close 
order, each with his rifle and tomahawk in his hand. 
They brought up five of the Indians we had killed, 
and laid them within the circle. I thought of the 
party I had killed in 1780, and if I was discovered to 
be the person ray case would be a hard one. Their 
prophet made a speech. As I was informed afterwards 
by a British lieutenant, who belonged to the 
party, he was consulting the Great Spirit what to do 
with the prisoners, whether to Kill us on the spot 
or spare our lives. He came to the conclusion that 
there had been blood enough shed, and as to the 
men they had lost, it was the fate of war, and we 
must be taken and adopted into the families of those 
who had been killed. We were then divided among 
them. Packs were prepared for us, and tlicy returned 
across the river at Great Island in bark canoes. They 
then made their way across the fields and came to 
Pine Creek, above the first forks, which they followed 
up to the third fork, and took the most northerly 
branch of it, and thence to the waters of the Gen- 
esee River." Van Campen makes no mention of the 
rest of the prisoners, but after varied experiences he 
was exchanged in March, 1783. He married Miss 
Margaret McClure, an aunt of A. H. McHenry, Esq., 
and moved to Allegheny County, N. Y., where he was 
for thirty-six years county judge. He died at Dan- 
ville, Livingston Co., N. Y., Oct. 15, 1849, aged 
ninety-three years.
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