Location: Lancaster County, Pennsylvania
Surnames/tags: Statler Walter Walters
Statler Family Historical Documents, By Rhonda Whetstone
This account of the Walter family, must start with some clarification on the name itself. Supposedly, among the Palatines who settled in PA, was Joseph Walter (His name may have actually been Casper Joseph Walter), who sailed from Rotterdam on the ship "Robert and Mary," arriving in Philadelphia on 30 Dec 1740. It may also be possible that he was a Huguenot, as was the Statler family.
Some years later, he settled in the Conochocheague settlement, Antrim Twp., Cumberland (later Franklin) County, Pennsylvania. His name appears on the list of taxables in that township in 1751.
From another source, written by descendant Jonathan Walters, we are told that his name was Casper and that he was born about the year 1715 in Lancaster Co., PA (rather than in Germany, as PA Archive records tell us that Joseph was). This account goes on to say that Casper was the son or grandson of a German pioneer, which leads us to believe that Mr. Jonathan Walters may have been confusing Joseph and his father (whose name was Casper/Kaspar/Jasper, depending on the source you check), hence the same name. A Jasper Walter received a patent for 200 acres of land in Leacock Twp., Lancaster Co., on 21 Aug 1717. (This was probably his father, the true Casper, as the dates would be right, and if so, then Casper would have been born here and the Joseph who arrived on 1740 was unrelated.) This source then goes on to state that on Jan. 21, 1742, Casper Walter warranted 400 acres of land in Antrim Twp., Lancaster Co., in the Conococheague settlement, which is where we know that "Joseph" was listed on the tax rolls for 1751. He then states that Casper is shown on the 1750 tax rolls as a resident of same. In 1749, he supposedly also purchased land in Hampshire County, VA (now WV), which is where his son, Ephraim Walter, would ultimately settle in 1765.
Since we know that Ephraim was a son of Joseph, one can only conclude that the Casper mentioned in the above, and Joseph mentioned elsewhere, were one in the same and was the father of Rebecca Regina Walter, born 1746 at Rankin’s Mill. As stated above, it is entirely possible that his name was Casper Joseph and that he dropped the first name, using only the Joseph, except on legal documents, to keep from being confused with his father. As I have found serious errors in dates of birth, death and in other areas, I would give no special note to the difference in the name of Rebecca’s father.
The other cause for concern, of course, is who was the Joseph on the ship? I personally have no proof that the Joseph on the ship was one in the same as Rebecca’s father, so the name Joseph may be totally erroneous. It needs to be pointed out, however, that oral history and the earliest written accounts of the massacre at the Walter farm, all call Rebecca’s father Joseph. Two other mentions on the name: Some sources list the name with an "s" at the end--Walters. Since some of the descendants do use the "s," it can be supposed that it was tacked on somewhere along the line, but all early deeds and records show the name to be Walter.
(Later in this narrative, you will see mention of the name as "Walker." This was incorrectly used in one report and then recopied that way into others. There was no Walker family in that area at that time. Further details will be explained on this matter later.)
One thing is certain, Casper/Joseph Walter married Barbara Baer in 1735. This all being said, we can now begin the story.
After Gen. Bradock’s defeat in July of 1755, the French and Indians overran the entire province west of the Susquehanna River. In the latter part of that year, Indian chief King Shingas, a man known as Capt. Jacobs, and two Delaware or Shawnee Indians, started out from Kittanning Village (50 miles from Pittsburgh), where they lived, on a marauding expedition to the Conochocheague settlements. On the second of November, they killed many of the settlers in the Great Cave and Tonaloway settlement. They then crossed the Tuscarora Mountain and devastated the Conochocheague settlement. It was during this occasion that Casper/Joseph Walter and some of his family were killed and others carried off by Indians. His house and buildings were burned to the ground. Of all the problems the pioneers experienced, none were greater than Indian attacks.The French, who occupied Fort Dusquesne (Pittsburgh) before the French and Indian War, encouraged the attacks by the Indians against the settlers from the eastern English colonies, hoping to stop their westward migration. After the war, they continued to encourage ambushes,telling the Indians it would help them regain their hunting grounds. To this end, Indians burned pioneers’ crops and homes, sometimes with settlers left dead or dying in the ashes, according to Mary Sue Whisker.
Immediately after Bradock’s defeat, the Rev. John Steel, a Presbyterian minister, fortified his meeting house, known as the "White Church," with a stockade, providing a place of refuge for the neighbors from the cruelties of the Indians. Though a man of peace, he was determined to defend his parishioners and neighbors from the ruthless attacks. He organized a company of rangers for the defense of same, for which effort he was unanimously elected Captain. He was duly valiant in the war. During this critical period, when Rev. Steel entered the church, he took his place behind the rude pulpit and hung his hat and rifle behind him, as was also done by many of his male parishioners.
One Sunday, in the midst of his discourse, someone slipped into the church quietly, and called out a member of the congregation and related to him the murder of a family by the name of Walker (sic) at Rankin’s Mill, near Greencastle. (Note: It should be mentioned here that the name "Walker," above is in error and the name should be Walter. The taxable list of 1751 of Antrim Twp., contains the name of Joseph Walter but no Walker.) The tragic story of what had just transpired, was whispered from one to another in the congregation and as soon as Rev. Steel discovered what had taken place, he brought the services to a close, took his hat and rifle, and at the head of the congregation, went in pursuit of the Indians.
It is certain that the murder of the family took place on Sunday morning when Rev.Steel preached, as Mrs. Steel and some of the neighbors had gone to church, while their children were at the Walter home in the care of Joseph Walter. At the time the Indians attacked, Mr. Walter had been reading his bible on the front porch and the children were playing in the yard near the house. When he heard their screams, he grabbed his rifle from inside and ran to the door, which is where he was shot by an Indian’s rifle fire and fell dead in the doorway. The date of this event was Sunday, August 8, 1756. (Although several accounts written through the years list the date as July 8, it can be proven it was August by looking at a perpetual calendar. The 8th does not fall on Sunday in July 1756, but it does in August.)
The Indians then killed a neighbor of the family, and perhaps also some of the family and scalped them. They set fire to the house and other buildings and took Rebecca Walter, who was then about ten years of age, her sister Mary, three brothers, and some other children, captive. A neighbor boy that John Walter had been playing with at the time of the attack, managed to flee a short distance to Kesecker’s Mill, from which point an alarm went out to Fort Allison, about a quarter of a mile away. In fact, Capt. Potter and his men arrived in time to prevent Casper Walter from being scalped, after his death. The dead were buried in a nearby meadow.
Besides being taken captive, Rebecca Regina had also been scalped. Since the scalping process itself does not kill a person, she lived through it. Once back in civilization, she always wore a bonnet after the scalping, and in fact, upon her death, the pastor, Rev. Sam Williams, who was asked by Rebecca’s son-in-law, Peter Schell, to perform the funeral service, recounted later how "upon arriving at the home, Mr. Schell took him to the room where the deceased lay. Approaching the corpse of a very aged woman, Mr. Schell drew back her cap and showed Rev. Williams that this woman had been scalped and then narrated the story of her capture by the Indians, 70 years before."
According to some accounts, Rebecca’s mother had gone to Sunday services and when Mrs. Walter returned from the church, she found her husband dead and the children either dead or gone and the house burned. Other, more believable accounts, state that Mrs. Walter was tortured and burned but did survive. She later married Henry Householder, a neighbor.
In all of the accounts of the children, I have only ever seen the names of those taken, so if there were older children (as at least one account indicates), who were not taken by the Indians but rather murdered there, there seems to be no record of them. Due to the fact that Casper and Barbara were married in 1735, and their earliest known child, John, was born in 1743, I think it may be safe to assume that the account of other Walter children being killed is correct, as they may have had several children between 1735 and 1743.
What is known for certain is that Rebecca, her sister Mary and three of her brothers were taken. Rebecca was approximately ten at the time of the capture. Her brothers were John, age 13; Ephraim, 12; and an unnamed younger brother, who was killed on the forced march. Her sister Mary was 11. In later years, Rebecca recounted how they had forced her to carry her little brother, but after going some short distance, the Indians got tired of worrying about him and dashed his head against a tree. They were about to kill her also when a squaw who had taken a fancy to her (tradition says she was a beautiful little girl with piercing black eyes), saved her life and kept her until she was surrendered in 1762.
Rebecca’s brother, Ephraim, while in captivity, was "adopted" by a Shawnee Indian chief, named Yougashaw, to replace a son of his who had been killed.
As Shingas and Capt. Jacobs had their village at Kittanning, it is absolutely certain that they took Rebecca and the others first to that place. It is also very likely that she was a captive at Kittanning in September 1756 when Col. John Armstrong took and destroyed the village. In the attack, Capt. Jacobs and his squaw were killed, but King Shingas and many of the captives escaped and went to Muskingham, Ohio, where they were on the 14th of November, 1756.
The agony and suffering endured by Rebecca Walter on the journey of nearly 200 miles to Ohio, over steep and rough mountains, must have been fearful beyond description. Besides,suffering great pain from her scalp wound, it is very likely she was forced to walk the entire distance.
Many of the captives at Kittanning were rescued by Col. Armstrong, among them a woman named Mrs. Mc Cord, who was captured at Fort Mc Cord earlier in 1756. She says that when it was known that the whites were upon them, orders were dictated to the squaws to flee to the woods with the captives. Rebecca was one of those taken to the woods.
George Cox, who was captured in Feb. 1756, says, "When I got to Kittanning, there were over 50 white captives and Col. Armstrong rescued only 13 of them." It is clear that the other captives, including Rebecca and her brothers, were taken to Muskingam. It appears that she and her brothers remained there until they were delivered in 1762 (This date is not correct for her brothers, they were not released until 1764.). In the meantime, they forgot the use of their own language and acquired the use of the Indian language. They also became acquainted with the habits and customs of Indian life.
A treaty of peace was offered wherein Shingas and his group agreed to surrender all the white captives held by them. They never fully performed this obligation, but in July of 1762, King Beaver of the Delaware tribe did agree to surrender captives held by him and King Shingas.
Frederick Post, a Moravian missionary, was deputized to escort these Indians, with their captives, to Lancaster, PA. It is proper to state here something in regard to this good man. In 1759, the Governor of Pennsylvania, gave him a passport. It appears from the journal of Mr. Post, that he reached Fort Bedford on the 16th of July, 1762, at noon, where he was cordially received and remained one or two days. It is singular that Rebecca Regina Walter found rest within the same Fort in which her future husband, Casper Statler, had been an ensign in September 1759. There is a very detailed account in Mr. Post’s journal telling how he led the Indians and their captives from Tuscarora, Ohio to Lancaster, Pennsylvania in 1762.
At a conference, held with the Indians at Lancaster on Thursday, August 13, 1762, which was attended by several chiefs from the Shawnee, Kickapoo, Wiwaltanes, Delaware, Ohio and Twithtnee nations, as well as the governor and interpreters, speeches were given by all.
Notices had been given requesting all persons who had lost children, due to the Indians carrying them into captivity, to come and reclaim them. Many of these captives had been taken when very young and had grown up to boyhood and girlhood in the wigwams of the Indians, having in the meantime forgotten their own language as was mentioned earlier. Such was the case of Rebecca Regina Walter. When her mother arrived to see if she could recognize her children, she could not. Then she remembered how she used to sing an old German hymn to her daughter, many years before, and the child was very fond of it. In her dilemma, she thought of this hymn and began to sing it:
- Alone, yet not alone am I,
- Though in this solitude so drear,
- I feel my Savior always nigh,
- He comes my dreary home to cheer.
She had not finished the first verse before her long-lost daughter rushed into her arms. The other children were also returned to the mother at a later date, Mary about a month later and Ephraim and John not until November, 1764, more than two years after Mary and Rebecca’s return. Ephraim subsequently married Mary Debolt and settled on his father’s land in VA, as earlier mentioned.
John served in the Sandusky Expedition in 1782, under the command of Col. Crawford, who was burnt at the stake during the operation. After the rout of this army by the Indians, in what is now known as Wyandot County, Ohio, including the death of nearly half the whites, many of the men simply fled on foot, never to be heard from again. No further record of John could ever be found, but family history has it that John was unable to adjust again to the "white man’s ways" and returned after a brief time to live with the Indians, where he married an Indian girl and spent the rest of his life.
Mary appeared in Orphans' Court in 1762, in Carlisle, PA, to petition for the balance of her father’s estate. In this petition, her father is again listed as Casper, once again leading us to believe that Casper and Joseph were one in the same and that Casper is the correct name.
Again, in the letter written by Mr. Isaac Craig, "In the old French War, two little girls (Mary and Rebecca) were in peach trees and were taken by the Indians, the younger scalped without injury by the Indians that first approached them, but another Indian who approached, took a fancy to them and instead of slaying them, carried them back to the wigwam." Rev. Williams, who was quoted in this letter and was nearly 80 at the time, told that he was born and raised in Bedford Co., where both of his parents were born. He had often heard the story referred to in 1825-26 while yet a licentrate in the ministry. He served a small Presbyterian church in Schellsburg and a small Baptist church in Somerset. 
Casper Statler (Stotler) was born about 1740, and was reared in the Conochocheague settlement, that settlement now constituting Franklin County, PA. The first account of him is as an ensign in Captain Edward Wards’ First Battalion, PA Regiment. He fought in the French and Indian War under the command of Col. Armstrong at Fort Bedford, and this regiment accompanied Gen. Forbes army in the reduction of Fort Dusquesne at Pittsburgh in 1758, on their return.
Casper Statler, in marching along the Forbes military road over the Allegheny Mountains in 1758 and 1759, passed over the land on which he subsequently settled. This was then in Cumberland County, in 1771 in Bedford County and in 1795 in Somerset County. It appears that he was pleased with this Allegheny wilderness for he then went back in 1762 and selected the tract of land on which he, a few years later, erected his house and other buildings. This place, on the west slope of the mountain, where he first built his cabin, was known as "The Fields" and is now known as the Guy Lambert Farm.
About 1762, he married Rebecca Regina Walter, who had just been released from seven years' captivity among the Indians in Ohio. Casper Statler and Rebecca had been reared in the same settlement and were probably playmates before her captivity in 1755. David Husband, of Somerset Co., states in his annals, that "Rebecca and Casper were married soon after her release and that they then moved immediately to the frontier." While it may be possible that they settled on the western side of the Alleghenies in 1762, they may not have done so until 1768, as there was a severe penalty against settlers on the Indian’s land west of the mountain. On the 24th day of February, 1768, the Governor issued a proclamation warning settlers to leave their settlements. However, in the fall of 1768, the Indians released all of this land in southwestern PA to the proprietors. There it was that Casper Statler and his wife settled on the land he had located in 1762.
The above mentioned annals say that in about 1770, Harmon Husband took a trip to Bedford, along the Forbes Road, from Fort Bedford to Fort Pitt, and that the road was well-traveled. He noted a small military post at Stoystown and that a number of adventurers had built cabins along the road for the accommodation of wayfarers. Among these men were mentioned Martin Stoy, John Mills and Casper Statler. Statler settled thereabout 1770 and was licensed to keep an Inn by the Court of Quarter Sessions of Bedford County in 1778. The said annals state that Stoy, Mills and Statler were the first settlers and noted where they located. It also said that Statler commenced the clearing and farming of his land as soon as he came, instead of devoting so much time to hunting as the others did. This road was the only avenue of commerce between Pittsburgh and Philadelphia for nearly forty years, and Casper’s home, near the summit, was a place of notoriety among the traders, trappers and packers of that time.
The following extract is from the history of Somerset County published in 1884."The earliest settlers in Somerset County were Casper Statler and George Lambert. Casper Statler was probably the first settler in Shade Twp., and one of the first inhabitants of Somerset Co. He came from Franklin County."
Upon settling, Statler first went to Greencastle to trade. He was obliged to flee there from his mountain home several times, and take himself there also during these periods of Indian hostilities. Casper, the pioneer, was a genial, whole-souled man. By his industry, he acquired wealth and owned a lot of land. His family consisted of the following children:
- Casper Statler Jr. b. 19 Apr 1767 m. Anna Mary Lambert
- Mary B. Statler b. 1768 m. John M. Lambert
- Elizabeth Statler b. 1770 m. George Lambert
- John Statler b. 1773 m.1 Catherine Lambert; 2 Molly ????
- Samuel Statler b. 15 Jan 1776 m. Magdalena Mostoller
- Emanuel Statler b. 1776 m. Catherine Mostoller
- Eleanor Statler b. 1788 m. Peter Schell
In another account, Casper Statler Jr., above, was described as "genial, friendly and free-hearted. He acquired such property as was esteemed a vast fortune in the days when nearly all the settlers were poor; but he always exhibited generous traits, and frequently lent substantial aid to the needy and unfortunate. He owned many hundred acres of land in the western part of this township, which is now divided into more than a dozen farms. He is well remembered by the older people who bear cheerful testimony to his worth. Casper Jr. kept one of the first Taverns along the pike and started a small grocery store very early, what is now known as Gardill’s at West End. So, it seems from the above descriptions of Caspers Senior and Junior, the traits of generosity carried on down through the generations.
In a Statler Ancestry article by Eber Cockley, it states: "Statler was an innkeeper, catering to travelers and wagoners on the old PA Road. When a new road was opened a short distance to the south of his place, he built a log structure by the side of the new route, for the storage of grain and forage for sale to the wagoners, with an attendant on duty, giving curb service. School was held at Statler’s cabin at an early date, with William Newell the teacher."
Casper Statler died 12 Apr 1798. In 1805, there was a Petition of Writ of Partition,setting forth that he had died seven years earlier, owning 19 tracts of land, containing a total of 4,332 acres. In two of the lands, an Emanuel Statler, probably his brother but possibly his son, was part owner. These lands were appraised and divided among the children and they were under obligation to pay his widow, their mother Rebecca Regina, the interest on one-third of the appraised value of the land during her life. (Daughter Eleanor being a minor, a Mr. Casper Keller was appointed guardian of Eleanor after her father’s death.) Rebecca died 28 years after Casper, on 20 Feb 1826, at the home of a daughter. In 1904, Mary Statler Sproat Hillegass died. She was a granddaughter of Rebecca. In her obituary, it retold briefly, the entire story of Rebecca Regina Walter, coinciding pretty much with details as set down in this narrative, with a few small differences, most notably the date of the captive exchange which was listed in this obituary source as 31 Dec 1764, with the exchange being made by Col. Bouquet at Carlisle. We know that the exchange of Rebecca, was made at Lancaster, two years earlier by the Moravian, Mr. Post.
An interesting story about Rebecca follows. "(Rebecca’s) years as an Indian captive fitted her for the wife of a pioneer settler. Long years after Casper and Rebecca had become settled in their mountain home, and after they had been able to supply themselves with the luxuries of a good home, through industry and management, a delegation of some twenty-five Indian chiefs and braves and a military escort were passing along the Forbes Road, along which the Stotlers lived, to a conference with the ‘Great White Chief’ of the white people.
It was evening when this delegation arrived at the Stotler Farm and the officers in charge asked permission to stop here for the night. The Indians built a fire near a large spring of water. Mrs. Stotler soon recognized several of the Indians as belonging to the tribe which had held her captive. Informing the officer in charge of the party this, she expressed the wish to see the old chief that she pointed out. The chief was then invited to come to the Stotler house.
Mrs. Stotler then spoke to the chief in his own language. He was greatly surprised and asked how she had learned the ‘Indian Talk.’ After she mentioned several incidents that had occurred in his family and tribe while she had been a captive, the old chief recognized her as the pale-faced squaw who had been with them so long and had fallen asleep when the white men came for her. The old chief was greatly pleased and asked about her brother. She told him that her brother, John, had returned to live with the Indians,which also pleased him."
One last item of interest. In a book by Sally M. Keehn, entitled "I am Regina," the foreword reads, "Although the following narrative is fictionalized, it is based on a true story. It happened to Regina Leininger and is dedicated to her memory. The story begins in 1755 on a small farm near present-day Selinsgrove, PA . .."
The book details the kidnapping of Regina, along with her siblings, after the murder of her father. It tells how she was held captive for years (finally being released in the same exchange that John and Ephraim Walter were). The afterword in the book states,"Regina Leininger was reunited with her mother on December 31, 1764. Regina returned to the home she loved. There she lived, her life encircled by the warmth of family. Regina never married."
Now, more than two centuries later, a tombstone stands at Christ’s Church Cemetery, near present-day Stouchsburg, PA. The inscription on it reads:
- Regina Leininger
- In Legend Regina Hartman
- As a small child held Indian captive
- Identified by her mother’s singing the hymn:
- ‘Allein, Und Doch Nicht Ganz Allein’*
- *‘Alone, Yet Not Alone Am I’
For many years, some have argued that the story of Rebecca Regina Walter and Regina (Hartman) Leininger, had been one in the same, adding more confusion to the story, but there is an actual plaque, in Carlisle, PA, commemorating the return of Rebecca Walter to her mother, just as there is an inscription on Regina Leininger’s headstone. I do think it plausible that perhaps the detail of the German hymn being sung, which was very well documented in the Leininger story, and appears nowhere but in legend in our story, has been "borrowed" from the other surrender in Lancaster.
But, since we were not there, how are we to ever know for certain? And it does make for a better story, does it not?
Rebecca Regina Walter and her husband, Casper Statler, are both buried in the Statler Cemetery, on the Guy Lambert Farm, near Reels Corner, Shade Twp., Somerset Co., PA. Rebecca’s tombstone reads:
- In memory of Rebecca Stotler
- wife of Casper,
- who departed this life February 20, 1826
- Aged 80 years
- Why do we mourn departed friends
- Or shake at death’s alarms?
- It is but the voice that Jesus sends
- To call us to His arms."
By: Rhonda Whetstone
9620 Oak Ridge Road
Wisconsin Rapids, WI 54494-9262
Note from the editor: Rebecca Regina Walter was my fifth-great-grandmother. The documented sources listed in this narrative were often cross-referenced with other notes that paralleled or confirmed what the listed source said. It is not my intention to attest to the accuracy of these documents and sources, but rather to compile a cohesive story from all the sources, which before was only told in bits and pieces. Where possible, I have researched as deeply into the subject matter as I could. I tried to retain all previously recorded information in its original form and when varying from it, indicated so. If you wish to share this account with others, for genealogical purposes, rather than extracting quotes from this narrative, I would prefer that you present it as a whole and credit me.
This narrative may not be reprinted elsewhere without my permission.
Rhonda Whetstone, ©January, 1999
- ↑ Pennsylvania Archives (2nd Series), page 204.
- ↑ 1751 Franklin County Tax List. Joseph Walter, Antrim Township. RootsWeb.com, Franklin County, Pennsylvania (Ancestry.com, accessed 12/11/2016).
- ↑ Excerpts from The Walters Family from The Genealogical Records of Some Early Fayette Co., PA Brethren, compiled June, 1979, by Jonathan Walters for the Brethren Church Historical Society, pages 143-189.
- ↑ Bedford (PA) Gazette article by staff writer, Bill Clark, after covering a Pioneer Society Meeting.
- ↑ 5.0 5.1 5.2 Sumner E. Walters, descendant of Casper Walter.
- ↑ 6.0 6.1 October 28, 1879, letter written by Mr. Isaac Craig of Allegheny, PA, recounting a incident related to him by Reverend Sam Williams of a Baptist church in Pittsburgh, PA.
- ↑ 7.0 7.1 Pennsylvania Gazette article of 17 Jan 1765.
- ↑ Orphans Court Docket 1, Carlisle, PA, Orphans Court Petition. Page 67.
- ↑ Pennsylvania Archives (2nd Series), page 558
- ↑ Dr. Engle. History of the Commonwealth of PA (as reviewed at the Library of Congress)
- ↑ History of Somerset County, Pennsylvania (published 1884)
- ↑ History of Bedford County, Pennsylvania, Chapter XLII, page 366.
- ↑ Laurel Messenger, November 1962 Issue, Page 4
- ↑ Newspaper obituary of granddaughter of Rebecca Walter, dated 1904.
- ↑ Excerpt from Two Hundred Years In Shade Township, by N. Leroy Baldwin ©1964.
- ↑ Sally M. Keehn. I Am Regina. Dell Publishing (Feb 1993)
- ↑ Notes compiled by Bill Jones, retired Senior Editor at the Tribune Democrat, 8 Nov 1998.
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