||Conrad Bittenbender was a Palatine Migrant.|
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“Johann Conrath Bittenbender” immigrated to British America in 1738. He arrived at Philadelphia on the St. Andrew in October. He qualified by taking the usual oaths at the Philadelphia Court House on 27 October 1738.
Smithfield Township, Bucks County Pennsylvania, erected 1748
Conrad moved to then Smithfield Township, Bucks County, Pennsylvania, now Hamilton Township, Monroe County, Pennsylvania, before 20 August 1750. Conrad had purchased Henry Frank’s right to 105 acres there between 24 October 1747 and 20 August 1750. It was on the latter date Conrad obtained a warrant from the Proprietaries of Pennsylvania for 25 acres, “adjoining his other Land bought of Henry Frank near the Blue Hills.”
Northampton County, Pennsylvania, erected 11 Mar 1752
When Conrad’s land was surveyed on 21 November 1752 it was found the tract was actually 74 acres bringing the land that he had an interest in to 180 acres. This farm was located a little over a mile southeast of Sciota, Pennsylvania.
French and Indian War (1754-1763)
The French and Indian War began over a dispute between France and Great Britain over the ownership of the area around what is today Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It began on 28 May 1754 when Virginia rifleman under the command of 22 year old George Washington ambushed a French patrol at the Battle of Jumonville Glen, between present-day Hopwood and Farmington, Pennsylvania. Washington retreated to Fort Necessity in present day Fayette Co., Pennsylvania, where he was attacked and defeated by the French on 3 July 1754. He surrendered. He and his troops returned to Virginia.
The British response to this defeat was to form an expedition under the command of Major General Edward Braddock against Fort Duquesne at the Forks of the Ohio, modern day Pittsburgh. Braddock assembled an army of 2,100 men at Belle Haven (now Alexandria), Virginia, in March 1755. Braddock’s forces were 10 miles east of Fort Duquesne when they were attacked and defeated in the Battle of the Monongahela on 9 July 1755. General Braddock who was wounded during the battle died of his wounds on 13 July 1755. After this British retreated back toward Philadelphia. This was a major setback for British forces in the early stages of the French and Indian War and one of the most disastrous defeats for the British in the 18th century.
This defeat unleashed a reign of terror on the Pennsylvania frontier and one the areas susceptible to attack from the Indians allied with the French was Smithfield Township, north of the Blue Mountains, in Northampton County, where Conrad Bittenbender and his family were living. A series of forts were constructed under the guidance of Benjamin Franklin to protect the inhabitants of Pennsylvania. Conrad’s farm was located between Fort Norris and Fort Hamilton. Both forts were constructed in 1756.
In mid-April 1757 Philip Bossert, whose home was about a mile east of Conrad’s, was at Fort Norris, when he was warned that the Indians were planning an attack in the area. After he returned home, John Lefever, who was passing by his home, told him that a man had been murdered by Indians, within sight of Fort Hamilton. A neighbor Philip met at Philip’s home to discuss what to do and it was decided that the neighbors should gather at one house bringing their most valuable items. Nine families gathered at Bossert’s home. A “great Number of the Inhabitants” also gathered at Conrad Bittenbender’s home and the home of John McDowel. Two of the men, who were at Bossert’s house, decided to return to one of their homes to look after their livestock and gather more personal items. They were both killed and scalpt by the Indians.
On 2 May 1757 18 armed men and two wagons were sent from south of the Blue Mountains to help the people to the north of the Blue Mountains who had been attacked and murdered by the Indians to bring off some of their best effects. About noon that day they reached Conrad Bittenbender’s home were man of the neighbors had fled. Here one wagon stopped with 10 armed men to load these people’s effects. The other wagon and men continued on a mile to the east to Philip Bossert’s home. Conrad and seven other men went about two miles into the woods to seek their neighbor’s horses. They found six and headed back to Conrad’s home, where one-half mile from his house they were fired upon by 15 Indians. Conrad and two others were killed by French-speaking Indians. Two men were taken prisoner, they later escaped, by the Indians. One of the men who had escaped went to Easton to tell the story to a local Justice of the Peace, who forwarded it on to the Provincial Council in Philadelphia.
When he was killed, Conrad left a widow, and four young sons under the age of 10. An £100 administration bond was granted on 23 May 1757 in Northampton County Court to Conrad’s widow, Maria, Christopher Bittenbender, and Peter Kechlain to administer Conrad’s estate.
Conrad’s widow, Maria, died a year later. On 13 of May 1758 Christopher Bittenbender and John Moor entered into an £340 administration bond to administer her estate.
Unfortunately this did not end the tragic chapter of depredations committed by the party of Indians then on their scalping expedition. On June 27th, 1757, George Ebert made the following deposition before Squire and also Major Parsons, at Easton:
"Personally appeared before me, William Parsons, one of His Majesty's Justices of the Peace for the County of Northampton, George Ebert (Son of John Ebert, late of Plainfield Township, in the said County, Yeoman, but now of Easton in the same County), aged Sixteen Years, and being duly sworn on the holy Evangelist of Almighty God, deposeth and declareth That on or about the Second Day of May last, He, this Deponant, with about Eighteen armed men, went with Two Waggons from Plainfield Township, to assist the Inhabitants of Lower Smithfield, who had a few days before been attacked by the Enemy Indians (and some of the Neighborhood murdered by the Savages) to bring off some of their best Effects. That about Noon of the same Day, they came to the House of Conrad Bittenbender, to which house divers of the Neighbours had fled; here one of the Waggons with about Ten Men, with this Deponant, halted to load their Waggon with the poor People's Effects; and the rest of the Company with the other Waggon went forward about a Mile, to the House of Philip Bozart, to which place others of the Neighbours had also fled, with such of their Effects as they cou'd in their Confusion carry there. That this Deponan't and Conrad Bittenbender, Peter Sheaffer, John Nolf, Jacob Roth, Michael Kierster a certain Klein And one man more (whose name this Deponant hath forgot) went about Two Miles into the Woods to seek the Neighbour's Horses, whereof they found Six, And were returning with them to within half a mile of Bittenbender's House where they were attacked by Fifteen French Indians who fired upon them & killed Bittenbender, Jacob Roth, and John Nolf, as he believes, for that he saw Three fall, one dead, And took Peter Sheaffer, who received two flesh Shots, One in his Arm and the other on the Shoulder, and this Deponant Prisoners; this Deponant received no Shot. And this Deponant further sayeth, That the Indians frequently talked French together; That they set off immediately with their Prisoners. That on the Evening of the next Day they fell in with another Company of about Twenty four Indians who had Abram Miller, with his Mother, and Adam Snell's Daughter, Prisoners; The Indians with their Prisoners marched in Parties as far as Diahogo; That at this Place the Indians separated, and about Eight, the foremost, took this Deponant and Abraham Miller with them, and they never saw any of the other Prisoners afterwards: That in their way on this Side of Diahogo they saw Klein's Daughter, who had been taken Prisoner about a Week before this Deponant was taken; That a Day's Journey beyond Diahogo, they came to some French Indian Cabbins, where they saw another Prisoner, a girl about Eight or Nine Years old, who told this Deponant that her Name was Catharine Yager, that her Father was a Lock Smith and lived at Allemengle, And that she had been a Prisoner ever since Christmas; That at this Place the Indians loosed the Prisoners, this Deponant and Abraham Miller, who they had bound every Night before; That finding themselves at Liberty, they, this Deponant & Abraham Miller, made their Escape in the night, and the next Day afternoon they came to French Margaret's at Diahogo, having been Prisoners Nine Days; That they stayed about four weeks with her, during all which Time she concealed them and supported them; That some French Indians came in Search of the Prisoners, whereupon Margaret told them it was not safe for them to stay longer, and advised them to make the best of their Way homewards; That all the Indians at and on this side Diahogo were very kind to them, and help'd and directed them on their way; John Cook was particularly helpfull to them; That while they were at Diahogo they were informed that the Indians had killed Abraham Miller's Mother, who was not able to travel further, And J. Snell's Daughter, who had received a Wound in her Leg by a Fall when they first took her Prisoner, but they heard nothing of Peter Sheaffer; That in Three Days they arrived at Wyoming, by Water, as Margaret had advised them; That at Wyoming the Indians directed them the Way to Fort Allen, but they missed their Way and came the road to Fort Hamilton, where they arrived last Sunday week. And this Deponant further sayeth, that the friendly Indians told them that the Enemy had killed Marshall's Wife at the first Mountain, And further this Deponant sayeth not." The mark of GEORGE EBERT.
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