Monday, May 20, 2019

The Widaagh Monument In Antes Fort

The  Wi-Daagh Memorial
On Private Land in Antes Fort Pa.

Recently I heard a story about a monument in Lycoming County, "documenting" the spot where an Indian Chief and William Penn made a land deal, as well as marking the grave of this Indian Chief.  However, according to the story I heard, none of this ever happened.  It was all a practical joke by George Sanderson, a card carrying member of the Order Of Redmen,  rewritten in history books for nearly 100 years, as fact and history.

I was of course, not only fascinated, but quite possibly obsessed, with this story, and set off to see the monument for myself.  But first I did a little research, and found that the version I had heard, and was repeating to practically everyone I came in contact with, may not be the true either.   Or perhaps it is.  History and legend are intertwined,  clear answers may be lost to our generation. But the story IS fascinating, whichever version is true.  

King Of Susquehanna Indians
Whose wigwam was here
Executed treaty with Wm. Penn

Sept. 13, 1700
Conveying Susquehanna River
And Lands Adjoining in Consideration of
"A Parcel Of English Goods"
Erected September 13 1900

In May of 2019 we set off to find this monument so I could see it for myself.   It's a 45 foot  tall column, and I was lead to believe it was near a road and the creek - so how hard could it be to find? Antes Fort is simply not that large.  

 Ha.  Very hard.  Impossible actually.  The trees are now taller than the monument, and it is NOT near a road.  It's back a long private lane, and cannot be seen without permission from the owner.  So I sulked the entire way home.  

And then miracle of miracles,   we were able grab two last minute seats on  a tour of the Nippenose Valley, which included a stop at this monument. They have not done this tour in years, this is not a regular event.   My husband believes this was the hand of God, as I was unlikely to rest until I saw it with my own eyes, and he was unsure he would be able to live with me in the meantime.  

This photo in Wayne Welshan's book shows the barrel on the top of the monument

The top of the monument, where you can see the rod that once held the barrel.

The fullest explanation of this memorial comes from none other than folklorist Henry Shoemaker, who happens to be affiliated or directly responsible for, a lot of "historical"  markers commemorating events that never actually happened.

But nonetheless, here's what he had to say about this monument
from  ELDORADO FOUND,  The Central Pennsylvania Highlands  A Tourist's Survey 

"Several miles southeast of Jersey Shore, at the foot of  the Bald Eagle Mountain is Widaagh's Spring, said to have been the favorite camping ground of King  Widaagh, the Indian Chief, who helped to negotiate the disastrous treaty with William Penn in 1700, virtually giving the West Branch Valley to the whites. 

The Spring, near the marker

West of this spring. Antes Creek empties into the Susquehanna. The gorge of Antes Creek contains some fine scenery. Near the old stone woolen mill is the spot where the wolf which figured in the adventures of Caroline Stein, "The Little Red Riding Hood of the West Branch," was slain by angry farmers the year of the great flood, 1847. At the head of the gorge a view of Nippenose Valley, with its seven identical sentinel hills on the South, is secured. Antes Creek rises from a fine spring on the estate of the late George L. Sanderson, "Lochabar." The name of this place signifies "Lake of the Horns,'' being the name of a small lake in the Scottish Highlands where the deer were in the habit of shedding their antlers. 

Near the spring stands one of the pillars of the old State Capitol at Harrisburg, a structure destroyed by fire in 1896, which Mr. Sanderson had erected on his estate in 1900 on the 200th anniversary of William Penn's treaty with Widaagh. Penn himself was said to have been present when the treaty was signed, the final events happening near the great Spring. "

So is any of this true?

 Well.. Wiidaagh is mentioned in the Pennsylvania Archives. He, and Andaggy-junkquagh are named as those signing the treaty are named in the Provincial Council Minutes for Sept. 13, 1700. "For and in consideration of a parcel of english goods, unto us given by our Friend and Brother William Penn... we hereby do give, grant, confirm until said William Penn all the said river Susquehannagh and all the islands therein, and all the lands situate lying..."

The land Deal, as recorded in the Pennsylvania Archives
Pennsylvania Archives, Volume 1

Widaagh, Andaggy-junkquagh, Kings, of the Susquehannagh Indians, 13th Sep., 1700, unto William Penn, the River Susquehannagh, and all the Islands therein, 
.and all the Lands lying upon both sides of the River, next adjoyning to ye same, extending to the utmost con-fines of the Lands. — Pa. Arch., Vol. I., p. 133. 

The main problem with the story is the location.

The Susquehannock, or Susquehanna, Indians had been conquered ty the Iroquois.  In 1675, they were driven into Maryland and Virginia.  The Iroquois had a policy of allowing the tribes they conquered to live in their villages, as subjects.  So some Susquehannock's did settle in Pennsylvania - but on Iroquois land.  As Iroquois subjects.

This cement marker, in Antes Fort,  is said to mark the grave of Wiidaagh

The last of the Susquehannocks living in Pennsylvania, about 300 in total,  were living in Lancaster County.  The colonials called them the Conestoga Indians, possibly a corruption of Gandastoga.  These  Conestogas were King Widaagh's people.  It's unlikely that Wiidaagh ever lived this far north of his people in the Lancaster area.  

And there's also no mention of William Penn ever traveling to this part of Pennsylvania.  

So why would Sanderson put this memorial here?
The Order Of The Redmen is an old fraternal organization that still exists today.  Sanderson was a member.  Did his monument have something to do with his membership?  I don't know.  But I find it interesting to note that when Henry Shoemaker erected his Wigwam Monument (also historically inaccurate) in nearby McElhatten, the Redmen were in attendance. 

 Redmen in general are not know as a group of practical jokers - but something about all of this makes me think that THIS branch of the fraternity was perhaps not quite like the others.

Uriah Cummings wrote a book for Sanderson named The Song Of U-ri-on-tah, in 1900.  It seems it was written in riddles, making use of the Native American names and places, and contains numerous drawings of Native Americans and their activities.  His daughter Emily wrote in the front of her book, "My daddy and friends playing Indian.  Some of this is true, which?"  - The Nippenose Valley By Wayne Welshans, page 39

The Song Of U-RI-ON-TAH

On the spot where I have rested 
Many days beside the waters 
Of the wondrous spring enchanted 
Where the mystic stream is flowing
Close beside the rocky ledges 
There the great and good Chief Tam a rack 
Will erect for me a tombstone 
And my spirit there will linger
In the niche within the tombstone
In the monument to Wi daagh 
"' When the Warriors there assemble
If their hearts are true and earnest 
And they call me most sincerely 
They will find their King the Wi daagh 
Will come forth at their entreaty -
Thus will I preserve my children 
"' It is finished and King Wi daagh 
Makes his mark upon the tablet 
He has passed beyond the river 
And is royal in the heavens
Where beneath the arch he standeth
A companion of the spirits '"
Thus the reading of the tablet 
By the Dusky U ri on tah;
And he gave it to the Tam a rack
Who with reverence and silence
Held it up before the Warriors
When they fell upon their faces 
And in silence and devotion 

Gave their hearts to good King Wi daagh 
Page 126
The Songs of U-ri-on-tah: 
Or, The Secret History of the Oom-paugh and the Bee-ess
By Uriah Cummings

About 15 minutes to the West is the Wigwam Monument, erected by Henry Shoemaker. Like the Wi-Daagh Monument, it appears to be a grand monument with no historical basis.  

Lewisburg Journal 
Lewisburg, Pennsylvania
05 Jul 1901, Fri  •  Page 5

Who Are The Red Men?
And that is the correct tense - "are".  This fraternity still exists today.  "The fraternity traces its origins back to 1765 and is descended from the Sons of Liberty. These patriots concealed their identities and worked "underground" to help establish freedom and liberty in the early Colonies. They patterned themselves after the great Iroquois Confederacy and its democratic governing body."

Williamsport Sun-Gazette 
Williamsport, Pennsylvania

04 Sep 1914, Fri  •  Page 7



"Lake where the deer shed their horns" is the literal translation of the romantic-sounding name — Loehabar. 1 This farm stands on a portion of the fifteen hundred acres of 
land which, in 1700, was sold to ^'William Penn by the king of the Susquehanna or Andastes Indians for "a parcel of English goods." This was King WiDaagh, son of King Nippenose, after whom the valley was named. The original grants of the Penn family 
listed the land as Sawmill Tract No. 1724. 

The Nippenose Valley held a strange and compelling attraction for the Indians. Only in the deep forest of Loehabar could the secret order of the Immortals (known as the O. O. T. T. ) be celebrated by the Andastes. Those who would undertake this 
"mystic rite and blood-curling initiation" won their places with the Immortals. The tests were beyond belief: the initiates had to grope their way through underground passages; grapple with serpents and demons; fight their way through fire and brimstone; be encumbered with insurmountable weights and put into the Giant's Pool — to emerge, at last, as Immortals. 

The conditions at Loehabar were unique — for only there could be found wolf dens forty feet in diameter and eighty feet deep, with perpendicular walls, with subterranean streams and caverns leading from one wolf den to another. And the Giant's Pool, with 
its vertical walls of limestone and depth of three hundred feet, over which one had to leap at a single bound is not to be found elsewhere. 

A great lake or a series of connected lakes are said to lie in subterranean limestone caverns beneath one thousand acres of the valley. This theory has not been disproven altogether because all surface waters have a tendency to disappear into the ground again the moment they reach the valley basin. 

One immense spring bubbles up through a fissure in the rocks and it is the strange and beautiful emerald green pool formed by this spring that is called the Enchanted Spring. Steep, rocky banks covered with stately pine and hemlock trees surround this 
pool of mysterious beauty. The diameter of the pool measures about sixty feet. It was by the side of the Enchanted Spring that a sad and grieving King WiDaagh sat and meditated on his foolish transaction with Penn — the disposal of all this reasured land for a few wordly goods. As he sat and stared on the strange waters he often repeated this 
poem : 

"For who but learns in riper years 
That man, when smoothest he appears, 
Is most to be suspected." 2 

It is said that the Enchanted Spring is haunted and this can be put to a test. If one stands on the south side of the pool and looks across the spring in a northeasterly direction at precisely three o'clock in the afternoon and gazes steadfastly at the face of the rocks which tower up from the water's edge, he will behold the gleaming eyes of the god of WiDaagh. 

1 An early surveyor who was of Scottish descent bestowed similar names on other tracts of land he surveyed in that vicinity such as Edinburgh, Glasgow, and Argyll. 

Homes and heritage of the West Branch Valley
byJunior League of Williamsport (Pa,)
Additional Research & Sources:
The Indiana Gazette 
Indiana, Pennsylvania
21 Jun 1951, Thu  •  Page 8



Lochabar translates as "Lake where the deer shed horns." Here can be found wolf dens 40 feet in diameter and 80 feet deep, with perpendicular walls, subterranean streams, and caverns. The Giant's Pool has vertical walls of limestone and a depth of 300 feet, which must be crossed in a single leap.

The original track of land included 1500 acres. It was sold in 1700 to William Penn by the Chief of the Susquehanock (AKA Andastes) Indians for "a parcel of English goods." The story goes that Chief Wi-Daadh died of a broken heart when he realized he'd sold this treasured land for a few worldly goods.

Lochabar is to the ancient Susquehannocks what Jerusalem is to Christian, Moslem and Jewish faiths. It was the center of their spiritual monotheistic religion, and the residence of Wi-Daadh, the light of his people. The wolf den caves were underground temples and cathedrals where spiritual leaders and their students made contact with the spirit world. The spring that begins Antes Creek is located here. The creek flows about three miles into the Susquehanna River.

A great stone column marks the gravesite of Chief Wi-Daagh. In 1900, this Ionic column was removed from the fire-ravaged capital building in Harrisburg, and brought to Lochabar by Colonel Sanderson. It is 45 feet high and weighs 41 tons. Colonel Sanderson was the great grandson of Indian scout Robert Covenhoven.


Clipped from the longer article below - 

The Express 
Lock Haven, Pennsylvania
28 Jun 1951, Thu  •  Page 7

Duncannon Record 
Duncannon, Pennsylvania
21 Jun 1951, Thu  •  Page 1

The Gettysburg Times 
Gettysburg, Pennsylvania
05 Apr 1938, Tue  •  Page 4


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