Moses Marshall, who performed the celebrated Indian Walk

The death of this venerable old man, at the age of eighty-six, occurred about two weeks ago, in Solebury township, Bucks county, Pa. We notice it for the purpose of relating some interesting facts, connected with the early history of this state, not generally known.

Moses Marshall shall was the son of Edward Marshall, who, in 1738, performed what is generally known as the great Indian walk. I have heard the son relate, within the jest two years, many particulars of that unjust proceeding. The two sons of William Penn being left proprietors of Pennsylvania at the death of their father; and perceivisng that the population of the state was rapidly increasing, became anxious to purchase from the Indians all the best land within fifty miles of Philadelphia, for the accommodation of settlers. The crown had previously granted the whole state to their father, whose policy it was to acquire possession by purchase, and not by force. Accordingly, seizing upon an old right to as much ground as a man could walk over in a day and a half, which their father had purchased from the Indians in the year 1738, they issued a notice, offering five pounds in money and five hundred acres of land any where within the tract walked over, to the mall who should walk over the most ground in a day and a half. The walk, according to the original agreement with the Indians, was to be made up the Delaware, starting from Taylor's Ferry, about five miles above Trenton, following the windings of the river, which runs north easterly. Instead of fulfilling the part of their father's agreement, a line was run to a point ten miles distance from the river, near Wrightstown meeting house, where a large chestnut tree was fixed as the starting point. On the appointed day, six candidates offered themselves-three Indians and three whites—among the hitter was Edward Marshall. I heard his son say that he saw them start. An immense concourse of people had collected, and crowds of Indians. Timothy Smith, then sheriff of Bucks county, attended on the part of the Penns, to see the walk properly performed; and they also were there, on horseback. The course of the walkers, contrary to all previous agreement, was ordered to be due north—so that let them stop where they would, an immense tract of the Indians favorite land would be reached, which the Penn; had they acted honestly, never could have secured, except by another purchase. The five antagonists of Marshall were equipped in various ways. Marshall himself wore thin, and very flexible moccasins, and carried a few light biscuit with him. Just as the sun rose, the whole six leaning one hand on the tree, received from the sheriff the word to start. They went off at a quick pace, followed for a short distance by the crowd, which gradually became thinned, until they reached the Durham Furnace. Here the beaten road terminated. A blazed path, however, had been marked for them through the woods, for fifty miles, which they now followed, attended only by the sheriff on horseback, and a few Indians, who, although dissatisfied from the first accompanied the walkers to see the walk fairly made.

The rough, stony ground, encumbered with brushwood, and rendered tedious by a constant succession of mountains, soon wearied out the three Indians. None of the numerous streams on the road were to be crossed in boats, except the Lehigh. They were all to be forded: neither were the walkers permitted to run and jump over a creek. They might go first to the edge and make an observation, and then return and jump it. They proceeded so fast, that the Indians murmured, and complaining that they ran, went off before night, threatening vengeance. Twelve hours were allotted for the first day's walk, and six for the second. Towards the middle of the afternoon, just as they were rising a bill, after crossing the Lehigh, then nearly fifty miles horn the starting point, the fourth walker staggered and fell. The other two passed on. When they passed the end of the blazed road, beyond which no one supposed they would be able to go, the sheriff put into Marshall's hands a pocket compass, with orders to steer due north.

At nightfall they raised a tent and prepared a supper. Marshall kept himself upon his feet all night, moving about, to prevent h is limbs becoming stiff: Yeates, on the contrary, lay down and slept soundly: so that when he awoke In the morning, he was unable to stir; and at sunrise, Marshall and the sheriff went on alone. As twelve o'clock approached, when the day and a half would' expire, Marshall quickened up his pace; suddenly the sheriff bid him stop—the time was out—he did so, but threw himself forwards on his face, reached out his hands, and could just grasp a sapling a few steps ahead of him, which they marked as the stopping place. Mar¬shall, in those eighteen hours, had actually walked 11O miles, over the worst roads in the county, and in the hottest season of the year.

For this pansful undertaking he never received a farting. The Penns, in the same unrighteous spirit that induced them to defraud the Indians, successfully refused to award to Marshall any of the promised compensation. He was summoned to Philadelphia, was there sworn, and all the facts relating to the walk in his knowledge, written down and sent to England, and himself cautioned to say as little about it as possible.

This unjust transaction was the cause of a bloody Indian war, during which many families upon. the frontiers were butchered; and it was with great difficulty that the business was at last peaceably arranged. Edward Marshall soon after the peace moved his family up on the hills above the Lehigh. Here the Indians, having previously threatened his life, attacked him. His daughter was shot through the breast, though she afterwards recovered, his wife murdered, though within a month of her time, and a arm, grown up, tomahawken in the woods near the house. Moses himself hiss related to me the particulars of this terrific scene. He escaped by hiding under a beach on which were several bee-hives, and upon which the savages threw their match coats, as they went to scalp his mother. This happened nearly ten years after the walk. The family then moved off, but in a few years returned to the same place. The Indians, whose revenge seemed unappeasable but by the butchery of the whole family, attacked them a second time, and , after killing another son, again drove them off.

The family of the Marshalls are all remarkable walkers. They still reside in Bucks county, and are much respected for their many amiable qualities.

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2878 Creamery Rd
18938 New Hope , PA
United States
40° 22' 16.0788" N, 75° 0' 10.854" W
Pennsylvania US