from History of Huntingdon and Blair counties, Pennsylvania by J. Simpson Africa
Pioneer Settlers [Jackson Township]
...To provide a place of safety in case of sudden emergency a stockade fort was erected near the house of Gen. William McAlevy, which locality and existence has been perpetuated by the village of McAlevy's Fort. It was built about 1778, in consequence of the many Indian alarms in the lower part of the valley, and may have been designed more as a place of rendezvous for the people who wished to go in a company to the stronger forts at Standing Stone or in the Kishacoquillas Valley than as a place of defense.
...It appears that this fort was occupied in the summer of 1778 by a number of settlers, who had gathered here in consequence of a rumor that hostile Indians had entered the valley, although their presence had not been clearly noted, and some were doubtful whether the alarm was well founded.
Murder of James McClees and Mrs. Huston.
Among these was an old lady by the name of Huston, whose age had made her somewhat garrulous. Her home was in the valley several miles above the fort, and among the other crops she had growing on the farm was a patch of flax, whose possession and care gave her a world of concern. Indeed, after she reached the fort she could do nothing but talk about her flax and lament constantly that it would go to waste because she could not give it her attention. Yet, yielding to her fears, she dared not leave the fort alone to attend to it, and tried in vain to persuade the men of the fort to accompany her. To no purpose did they set forth that the flax was well enough off where it was, and that owing to the wildness of the country adjacent her land to go there would be attended by the greatest risk of ambuscade by the Indians, - a venture too great when no good could be accomplished.
She persisted in her purpose to go to her flax-patch until she became an object of good-natured ridicule and the butt of some jokes. One morning, about the middle of August, 1778, a group of men were seated before the fort when she again commenced talking about her flax, to the amusement of the men, who began twitting her about the great loss if her flax could not be gathered. At this a young man by the name of James McClees got up and said,
Boys, it's bad enough to be too cowardly to help the old woman gather her flax, but to ridicule her misfortune is a shame.
To this the others retorted, "If you think it is cowardly, why don't you go and help her pull it." "That is just my intention," replied the spirited young fellow, and turning to the old woman he said, "Mrs. Huston, get ready, and I'll go with you to pull your flax."
The old woman was overjoyed, and in a few moments the two departed, the young man carrying with him his rifle. He was but eighteen years of age, but well developed, strong, and utterly without fear. They left promising to return that evening or the evening following at furthest. The first evening passed and they came not. The second one went by and still no signs of them. Their absence caused alarm, and a search was instituted. When the scouting party reached
Mrs. Huston's house they found everything quiet, with no signs of one having been there. They started up the hill to the flax-patch, where they found Mrs. Huston dead and scalped, with cuts from a hatchet in her forehead. The flax was untouched, showing that she was killed on her way to the patch. About one hundred years [yards] farther lay the body of young McClees, stabbed and cut in every part of the body, no bullet-holes being visible, while on every hand were the evidences of a fearful close encounter. The ground was bloody for twenty yards around, and there were remnants of Indian dress lying around, but his rifle was gone. By his side was his knife, broken and bloody. The full nature of the conflict was not known until a few days later, when on a bench of the mountain, a mile distant from the cabin, were found the remains of three Indians covered with bark. It was thought that there were five Indians, and that McClees killed two outright, dying in a hand-to-hand struggle at the same time that the third Indian yielded up his life.
The annals of the township do not contain accounts of other Indian outrages, but the massacre of Mrs. Huston and young McClees had the effect of keeping out many settlers until after the close of the Revolution.
A participant in that struggle and the first to make a permanent home in the upper part of Stone Valley was the Gen. William McAlevy spoken of in connection with the fort. He was born in County Down, Ireland, in 1728, his parents being of Scottish descent. About the middle of the last century he emigrated to America and settled in the neighborhood of Carlisle, in the Cumberland Valley.
He married Margaret Harris, a sister of John Harris, the founder of Harrisburg, and had by this union sons, named
George, and daughters,
Some time prior to 1770 he came to Huntingdon County, and with the aid of an assistant put up a cabin and made a small clearing where the village of McAlevy's Fort now is, upon which he planted some of the common vegetables. Having done this, he felled a large tree on the bank of the creek near his home, from the trunk of which he fashioned a large canoe, which he floated down Standing Stone Creek into the Juniata and so on down that stream into the Susquehanna, landing at a point nearest to his old home.
After making the necessary arrangements he embarked with his wife and children and what goods he had, and after days of arduous toil he reached his forest home. Most of the way the boat was propelled by means of poles, but where he could do so he hitched a horse to the boat, leading him along the banks of the streams.
Not long after his settlement his wife died, and marrying a second time he had for his wife Miss Mary Hays.
For his third wife he married Mrs. Margaret Allen, and had children named
Gen. McAlevy served with credit in the Revolution,...He died in 1822, full of honors, at the unusual age of ninety-four years, and was interred on the high hill on his farm, which he had set aside for a cemetery....
The Jackson family, from which the present township took its name, was one of the earliest in the county. George Jackson came from Wilmington, Del., and settled on the Swoope farm, on Raystown Branch, about 1766. In the course of half a dozen years he settled on the Little Juniata, in the present township of Logan, below Jack's Narrows...
There he lived during the Revolution, forting at Anderson's and being enrolled as a member of a scouting party. He died in 1806, and was buried in the old Shaver's graveyard, below the railroad at Petersburg.
He reared children named
Thomas, and daughters,
Jane, who married Col. John Fee;
Joseph Potter, of Shaver's Creek;
William Spencer, of Alexandria; and
Samuel Keller, of Blair County.
Joseph [Jackson], the oldest son, was born on Raystown Branch, a short time after the settlement of the family, and was one of the first white children born in the county. He was baptized at Huntingdon by the Rev. William Smith, the proprietor of the town, on the occasion of one of his visits from Philadelphia. In 1791 he was married to Margaret Wilson, a daughter of John Wilson, who settled on Herod's Run in Jackson, and what is now known as the Jackson homestead, in 1776....
Joseph Oburn was another of the soldiers in the McAlevy company in the Revolution. He came from Delaware about 1770, and settled on the present David Cunningham place. He was a very righteous man, and extremely generous. It is related of him that in 1777 he raised a large crop of wheat, when that grain had failed in many localities and commanded so large a price that it was eagerly sought after, and many buyers were attracted to Mr. Oburn's house. One morning a man, reputed to be rich, rode up to the house, and accosting the owner, said,
"Mr. Oburn, have you any wheat?"
"Plenty of it: have you the money to pay for it?"
"A horse to carry it, and bags to put it in, I see."
"Oh, yes; everything," replied the wheat-buyer.
"Well, then," said Mr. Oburn,
"you can go to Big Valley for your wheat; mine is for people who have no money to pay, and no horses to carry it off."....
....Richard Miller settled about 1787, but sold out at an early day, and removed to the West.
At where are now Strunk's Mills, John Little settled about 1770. He too went out to do service for the patriot cause in the Revolution. Little built pioneer mills and made other substantial improvements at an early day. He died about 1814, and his only son also died many years ago.
One of the daughters married Samuel Porter, an early settler near Little's, and the progenitors of the Porters of the township.
....Thomas and John Ferguson were early citizens, but removed to Centre County, where a township bears their name.
The Glen family also moved to that township, and made some good improvements on the head-waters of Spruce Creek.
Robert Smith was the warrantee of a large tract of land above the claim made by Gen. McAlevy, which he improved somewhat,
and then sold out to Samuel Mitchell, of Mifflin County, who located on it in 1790. He built his house above the present Mitchell homestead, and there commenced the distillation of liquor, afterwards selling that interest to Gen. McAlevy. The sons of Samuel Mitchell were
Thomas,[ married Betsey Hughes]
Samuel, and the daughters married
David McClelland, and
Robert McClelland. ....