History of Aleppo Township, Greene County, Pa.
From: History of Greene County, Pennsylvania
By: Samuel P. Bates.
Nelson, Ruchforth & Co., Chicago. 1888.


ALEPPO was organized as a township in 1821, and formerly embraced Springhill. It was, however, late in becoming generally peopled, from the fact that speculators had bought up large blocks of land and prevented their being opened to settlement except at high prices. The surface is broken, and though it has no large streams it is well watered, the copious springs along its highlands forming the source of water ways that flow to almost every point of the compass, the South Fork of Wheeling Creek and its tributaries flowing to the north and east, and those of Fishing Creek to the south and west. It is bounded on the north by Richhill, on the east by Jackson, on the south by Springhill, and on the west by the State line, which separates it from West Virginia.

Tenants are found here, as they are found spread all over the southwestern corner of the county. The Fletchers, the Hinermans, the Mitchell, and Gullenstines, and the population generally are industrious, enterprising and prosperous, the farms being under a good state of cultivation, the highways well kept, and the houses and outbuildings in good. condition. In the western part of this township, on the highlands which divide the head waters of Long Run from those of Herod's Run, is one of the most beautiful and picturesque views that gladdens the eye of the traveler in any part of the world. The road winds along the very summit of the ridge, past the pleasant seat of the Centennial Church, the outlook from the entrance to which commands a wide view of all this delectable country. For grandeur, and quiet serene loveliness, not the hills of the Rhine, nor the valleys of the Arno can match it. On a clear autumnal day, when all the forests are painted in their matchless colors, and the roseate tints of the morning are softening into the golden light of noon, the traveler pauses to revel on the enchanting view and is loth to quit this bewitching region. It was in the month of May that one who had trod the highlands of Scotland, and the margins of her lakes renowned in story, the green lanes of merry England, the goodly heritage of France, tilled like a garden, the towering mountains of Switzerland, and the classic shores of Italy, paused upon this elevation to brush from his brow the dust of travel, and inhale the refreshing breeze beneath the ample shade. The forest, now in full leaf, sweeps down through the deep valley and up the opposing hills, interspersed with patches of wheat and long stretches of green meadow. Soft wooled flocks gladden the hills, and foals with their dams lay stretched at full broadside after their morning feed upon the fresh pasturage. The bird sings his gladsome note, and from far away in the valley comes the monotonous call of the quail, and the quickened drumming of the partridge. On the far distant height of the well rounded hill at the very summit is left a single tree, tall and stately, rejoicing in dense foliage, around which the kine gather to chew the quid of content. And here he thought is the delectable spot, more charming than any that has ever greeted hips eye before.

From the fact that the land in this township was held back from settlement, it was ford many years the favorite haunt of game and the chosen tramping ground, in the proper season, of huntsmen, both whites and Indians. A celebrated hunter, Lewis Wetzel, though his home was on Wheeling Creek, outside of the township, spent much of his time in roaming up and down its spacious forests. A notice, therefore, of some of his exploits may not inappropriately be given here. His own experience with the cold blooded massacres of the red men had taught him swift revenge, and he lived to be the avenger of their cruelty.

In the summer of 1786 the Indians became very troublesome in the neighborhood of Wheeling. A purse of $100 was offered to the man who would bring in the first Indian scalp. The families of Wetzel and Bonnet dwelt at this time on Wheeling Creek, and the two youths, Lewis Wetzel and Lewis Bonnet, joined the company which volunteered to hunt the savages. Having trailed them across the Ohio into the Indian country, and come upon an encampment greatly outnumbering the volunteers, it was decided to return Without attacking. When the return march had commenced, Wetzel was observed to be sullen, and on being asked by the commander, Major McMahan, if he was not going back, "No," was the response, "I have come to hunt Indians, and I shall have a scalp, or lose my own." Moving stealthily through the forest he came upon a hunting camp occupied by two Indians. After cooking their supper they sat down to amuse themselves by telling stories and indulging in boisterous laughter. Finally one of them started out with a torch, as if to watch at a deer lick. When the other had sunk to profound slumber, young Wetzel entered the camp, plunged his knife to the heart of the savage, and departed with his victim's scalp. He reached home on the following day and claimed the prize.

A favorite method practiced by the Indians to decoy the settlers to their death, was to go near a settlement and imitate, at early dawn, the gobble of a wild turkey. This was almost sure to draw forth the settler with his rifle to secure the bird. There was a cave on the hill side overlooking the creek, and from the neighborhood of this cave Wetzel had heard the familiar call and suspected it to be the decoy of an Indian. Crawling from his cot before the dawn, he went by a circuitious route out of view of the mouth of the cave, until he had reached an opening from which he could observe it without attracting attention. He had not been long in position the gray dawn now breaking before the top knot of an Indian emerged from the cavern, and a very good imitation of a turkey gobbler's note was uttered, when the wily savage slunk back into his secure hiding place, to watch for the approach of some luckless hunter. Soon the polished head of the savage was again seen issuing from the cave. But now Wetzel was prepared for him and taking deliberate aim sent a bullet through the brain of the cunning denizen of the woods. The song of that turkey lured no more huntsmen to their doom.

When bloody massacres had been perpetrated, Wetzel never hesitated to follow single handed and attack the savages wherever found. On one occasion, having pursued across the Ohio into the Muskingum country, he came upon a camp occupied by four braves. Waiting till they were all in profound slumber, he leaned his rifle against a tree, and seizing his tomahawk in one hand and his long knife in the other, crept noiselessly into their midst and buried his hatchet in the skull of one, and quick as thought hewed down another, accompanying his movements with unearthly yells. A third shared a like fate. The fourth, seized with a mortal terror, rushed wildly into the forest and escaped. With three Indian scalps to grace his belt he returned home.

On another occasion, while out hunting, he entered a deserted cabin and crawling up into the rafters, laid down to sleep. Ile had not been long there before six marauding Indians entered to pass the night. Waiting till all were asleep he noiselessly descended, and placed himself on guard for the morning. Early one of the Indians came out, yawned, stretched, and at that instant a ball from Wetzel's rifle pierced his heart. Not trusting to further adventure Wetzel lost no time in placing himself at a safe distance from the rest of the party.

Having shot an Indian after terms of peace had been concluded with General Harmer, he was seized and placed in irons; but having excited the pity of Harmer, the shackles were struck from his feet, and he amused his guards by showing his fleetness of foot. One day he ran so swiftly that he forgot to return. He was fired upon, but escaped unharmed to the river bank, where he was ferried across by his old friend, Isaac Wiseman, when the handcuff's were knocked from his hands and he returned to his home. Harmer subsequently offered a reward for his apprehension, and while on a visit to Kentucky he was again captured and put in irons, but was released on bail. Judge Foster describes him in 1789, "as a man 26 years old, five feet ten, full breasted, very broad shouldered, long arms, dark skinned, black eyes, face pitted deep with small pox, and hair, of which he was very careful, when combed, reaching to the calves of his legs."

Having lived for some time in Kentucky he returned to Wheeling Creek, and having been invited by a young friend and relative to accompany him to Dunkard Creek, lie went. Arrived at his friend's cabin, what was their surprise to find a mass of smoking ruins, the work of a party of savages. Examining the trail, Wetzel decided that it was a party of three Indians, a renegade white, and a girl whom they were carrying away captive, and whom they rightly guessed was the affianced of his friend. The young men were not long in preparing to follow the trail. The Indians had crossed the Ohio be fore they were come up with, and had their camp near the mouth of Captina Creek. Swimming the stream at evening they reconnoitered the camp, but prudently decided to await the dawn. As soon as day broke, Wetzel singled out the largest Indian, and his friend the white man, and fired simultaneously, both bringing down their victims. The two Indians took to the woods, and the friend rescued the maiden dear to his heart. Wetzel pursued the savages, and to draw them from their hiding place, fired at random. With uplifted tomahawk they rushed from their concealment after him. Reloading as he ran, he suddenly turned and shot the foremost Indian. The remaining savage, thinking that his gun was now empty, rushed after him; but by dodging from tree to tree Wetzel foiled his antagonist till he had another charge in his gun, when the remaining foeman fell an easy prey to his trusty rifle. This incident has been made the subject of a thrilling romance entitled "Conrad Maer."

In intelligence and sobriety the people of Aleppo Township hold a commendable rank. The school report of 1855 credits it with nine schools with 149 pupils, and the report of 1887 with ten schools and 448 pupils. Superintendent McGlumphy in his report of 1859 says "This district is poor, the land being but recently disposed of in parcels and consequently not much improved. It is hoped that better times are coming." Twenty years have wrought a marvelous change. The school directors for the present year are: Samuel Evans, President; Frederick Wise, Secretary; George Murray, Blair Michel, J. M. Houston and William B. King.

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