03 October 2011

Colonel Thomas Cresap

By Mrs. Mary Louise Cresap Stevenson[1]

To write the history of Colonel Thomas Cresap is to write the Colonial History of Maryland and Virginia and more or less of Ohio. To recount the story of these colonies is, to tell the story of the Revolution.

The rehearsal of that noble struggle would involve much of the history of the great powers of Europe and you might conclude, we were like Tennyson's brook, and would 'go on forever.' Therefore, we will try to give you only a snap shot at the life and times of our hero. We will give you items here and there, and leave you to develop the composite picture.

We believe, that when William the Norman invaded England, he found the family of our hero on the ground. His characteristics were essentially of the sturdy, faithful, "Cedric, the Saxon" type! His family was ever loyal to country and flag.

Kings came and went, and the days of Edward III and the Black Prince arrived. The British Lion was just the same, then as now, only at that time, it was France, instead of South Africa he was reaching for. The day of the famous "Battle of Cressy" (1346) dawned, when Philip of Valois had 100,000 soldiers and the victorious English only 30,000. Among these, it is said, was the ancestor of our hero, Col. Cresap; and for great bravery on that renowned field his family name, whatever it may have previonsly been, for we cannot now definitely learn, was changed to "Cressy." In due course of evolution (there is nothing new under the sun, not even the doctrine of evolution) the name became "Cresap."

Notice the first characteristics we discern in the heredity of our hero, are loyalty and bravery. Loyalty to his country though she was reaching for the lilies of France and playing a landgrab game. The family have been ready to fight "pro patria" ever since, and their coat of arms is a mailed head, and uplifted right arm; Head in Armor, brains and bravery.

Years rolled on; the glorious protectorate of Cromwell was over and Charles II, came to the throne in 1660. This was a Revolutionary epoch. A little boy came to a Manor house in Yorkshire about 1671, who was destined to outlive that merrymonarch, and several of his successors viz. James II, William and Mary, Queen Anne, George I, George II and into the reign of George III, some 17 years. The Yorkshire boy proved to be a sturdy youth. James II oppressed the people — preparing for another Revolution, and many came to the Colonies to escape the religlious upheaval and the power of the Vatican. Among these we find our hero. Thomas Cresap, in the year 1686 — at the age of 15.

We have said those were stirring times and a Revolutionary epoch! Let us leave our hero, and glance at the times. In Cresap's day Louis XIV "Revoked the Edict of Nantes" and scattered the best families of France to Germany, England and our colonies! In Cresap's day, Louis XV said, "After us the deluge," and proceeded to prepare the way for the French Revolution, that awful flood which swept the throne of his great grandson Louis XVI out of existence! In Cresaps' day Peter the Great went to school in Holland and taught his people; revolutionizing Russia! In Cresap's day Peter's widow, Catherine, Empress of Russia, assisted Frederick the Great and the Emperor of Austria in the dismemberment of Poland, each nation picking up a piece, much as the European nations now are looking for curios — seeking rare bits of China! During his life the great Empress, Maria Theresa, settled the Revolution in her empire and secured the throne of her fathers. So we might continue with the revolution in Spain and the war of the Spanish succession and so on indefinitely.

But we return to our hero, Col. Cresap. He had just arrived in the Colonies and brought with him his bravery, love of country and loyalty. He settled in Maryland, and began to "grow up with the country. He became an Indian trader, like the Astors and some other notables. He married a wife (Hannah Johnson) and astutely settled at Havre de Grace, thus having the rich valley of the Susquehanna and the fur-bearing wilderness on the one hand and the Chesapeake Bay on the other, ready to float his furs to market.

He had a sterling honesty, that made and kept friends. Daniel Dulany was his early and life-long friend. Col. Cresap's oldest son was named for this "Daniel" Dulany, and the many Daniels in the Cresap clan testify not only to the Colonel's faculty of faithfulness, but to the heredity of the quality. Once a friend always a friend. Charles Calvert, the first Protestant Lord Baltimore, but fifth of the title was Cresap's earnest friend through life, and the feeling was reciprocated. Col. Cresap also made friends with the Indians and they used frequently to visit in the early days at his house, and called him "Brother Cresap." He prospered at Havre de Grace and accumulated a large quantity of furs, which he shipped for England. Unfortunately, the French captured the ship and furs. Cresap must begin over. Nothing daunted, he went further into the wilderness, hoping for better fortune and quicker returns. He obtained a Maryland patent for 500 acres of land, up the Susquehanna, and built a stone house. Here he expected to reside. But, "the best laid plans of mice and men aft gang agley."

The Kings of England were exceedingly ignorant of the geography of this country. Much trouble and sore distress to the Colonist were the results of this ignorance. They suffered from "over-lapping grants." These were frequently given; we will speak only of the grants of Maryland and Pennsylvania. These "Grants" were full of high-sounding phrases — and the land granted was always worded — extending "West to the Pacific Ocean," so generous ( ?) were the kings, and so little did they know how far off the Pacific might be.

The original grant of Maryland had been promised to George Calvert, first Lord Baltimore, by James I, but it was really given to Cecil Calvert, second Lord Baltimore, by Charles I, in 1632. The settlers were brought in 1645 by his brother, Leonard Calvert. The title to the Province was confirmed, after the restoration of the Stuarts, by Charles II, July 31st, 1661, to Charles Calvert, fifth Lord Baltimore ( who was Col. Cresap's friend), and the grant took in Maryland's present boundary and the whole of the 40th degree of latitude. This same monarch, " who never said a foolish thing, and never did a wise one," settled his indebtedness to William Penn, by issuing another grant to him, which included, a large amount of the territory already given to Lord Baltimore! What a just and liberal king! As Penn's grant was dated March 4th, 1681, or 20 years later than Lord Baltimore's, it does not require a "Philadelphia lawyer" nor an Ohio one either, to foresee the trouble and friction that would follow. Thomas Cresap's new stone house and his 500 acres of choice land, were situated up the Susquehanna ( at Wright's Ferry, near the present town of Columbia, Penn.), and in the disputed territory claimed by the Penns.

Our hero naturally, and warmly, espoused the cause of his friend, Lord Baltimore. Certainly, to the unprejudiced and just eye of to-day, Lord B. had the prior and the correct claim. Cresap to his latest day, said —" If the son and successor of Lord Baltimore had pursued the proper course, Maryland would have been the richer, by a large strip of territory," perhaps onethird of Pennsylvania. Once when asked what he thought of Philadelphia? He answered promptly—"Why, it is the finest city in the State of Maryland."

While the Baltimores and Penns were settling their controversy, Cresap must be about the business of life. So at a great sacrifice of house, land and improvements, he went West as far as Antietam. There he again took out a patent for land of 1400 acres. He built another stone house, a kind of fort, inclosing a spring, for use in case of trouble with the savages. This he sold later to his friend, Daniel Dulany. Another friend Lord Baltimore persuaded him, then, to go to the western frontier. Scharf gives the reason: "This Thomas Cresap, usually called the "English Colonel," was a much trusted friend and agent of the fifth Lord Baltimore, and was sent to the west portion of the Province to guard Ins interests against Lord Fairfax. It was another case of overlapping grants. Thomas Cresap is named in the 'Treaty of the Six Nations,' with the Province of Maryland. (Dated June 30th. 1744.) The family of Colonel Cresap ("writes the historian), was therefore one of the oldest Maryland families, and from the time of the 'English Colonel' until the present, have occupied a high position of the first families of Maryland."

There, a little above the junction of the North and South branches of the Potomac, Col. Cresap made his permanent residence, and there he acquired an immense estate on both sides of the Potomac, a part of which still remains in the hands of his descendants. There he built his third stone house, rather fort, as he was then at the extreme outposts of civilization. "Here he renewed his acquaintance with the Washington family and soon became one of the most distinguished pioneers of the West; his name was a household word, not only among the whites, but also with the Indians." Scharf calls him "the guardian genius of the western frontier," and adds, "that the settlers built close around Cresap's fort and when alarmed, fled into it." Cresap called his place " Skipton," from his birthplace in Yorkshire.
Cresap's House In 1770
In person, Cresap was not large, but was firmly built, and possessed of great muscular strength. Jacobs says: "Had Providence placed Col. Cresap at the head of an army, state or kingdom, he would have been a more conspicuous character, for he was not inferior to his contemporaries, Charles XII, of Sweden, in personal bravery, nor to Peter the Great, whom in many things he much resembled, viz: in coolness and fortitude and in that particular talent of learning wisdom from misfortune and levying a tax upon damage and loss, to raise him to future prosperity and success." Perhaps no trait in Colonel Cresap's character was more highly estimated than his benevolence and hospitality. In early times when hotels were few and indifferent, Col. Cresap's house was open to all respectable travelers, and they were made welcome to his table at Skipton or Oldtown, as it was called later. His delight was to give and receive useful information. This friendly disposition and warm hospitality was not limited to the whites. The Indians called on him in large parties, as they passed and re-passed North and South on their expeditions. He kept a very large kettle for their especial use and gave them a beef to kill for themselves, each time they called; for his liberality to them, they gave him the honorable title of the "Big Spoon." The Indian Guide Nemacolin, had so strong an affection for Col. Cresap and his family, that he spent much time there, and when he finally went away, he brought them his son, "George", to raise, and "Indian George" lived and died in the Colonel's family.

Col. Cresap had a vigorous and comprehensive mind, and was called to fill many public offices. He was County Surveyor of Prince George's County, which then included, also, Montgomery, Frederick, Washington, Allegheny and Garrett Counties. He frequently represented this district in the Provincial or State Assembly. And says Jacobs: "For clearness of understanding, soundness of judgment and firmness of mind, he was esteemed one of their best members." He served well his Province and Nation, and through his services his descendants may be " Colonial Dames;" or, " Sons and Daughters of the Revolution."

Colonel Cresap had a fine constitution, and lived to be 106 years old. When 70 years old, he made the voyage back to England. Those were not the days of Ocean Greyhounds. A voyage then, meant much physical endurance and inconvenience, in 1741, or 160 years ago. At the age of 100 he went partly by sea and partly by land to Nova Scotia on business with a relative. Col. O'Ferrell, who a was a Colonel of the 22nd Regt. of Infantry in Braddock's campaign, and returned safely without a palace car.


While in London, at the age of 70, Colonel Cresap was commissioned by his friend, Lord Baltimore, to survey the Western Boundary of Maryland, to decide which was the most Westerly Branch of the Potomac — the North or the South Branch, a matter of dispute between Lord Baltimore and Lord Fairfax. The survey was completed and Cresap drew the first map ever made of these North and South Branches of the Potomac, showing the course of the streams. And Cresap's survey, according to a Baltimore paper we saw last summer, is still the legal boundary of Maryland. This map can be seen in Baltimore, as it is still extant. It was sent to Gov. Sharpe and is attested by his secretary. Horatio Rideout, and on the map is this endorsement, by the son of the Secretary (Henry Rideout): "The Cresaps will be remembered forever."


We said Col. Cresap " had renewed his friendship with the Washington family," which began in early life. In 1749, a small company of gentlemen of wealth and influence in Maryland and Virginia ( and a few in London), formed an organization called "The Ohio Company." Among these men, were Gen. Washington, Col. George Mason and Col. Thomas Cresap. ( Mason and Dixon's line was called from Col. Mason).

To quote from the historians: "There can be no doubt that the exertions and influence of this Company, accelerated the explorations and settlements of the West. They were in fact the Corps of Pioneers, that opened the way to that immense flood of population we now see, spreading like a torrent to the Pacific Ocean. The nation is under obligation to this company and especially to the bold and enterprising spirit of Col. Cresap, for an early knowledge and acquisition of the country west of the Allegheny mountains."

In 1750 this company built a small stone house at "Wills Creek," Cumberland, and stocked it with goods, for the purpose of trading with the Indians, and the following year, one of their number—Colonel Thomas Cresap, laid out and marked a road from Wills Creek to the mouth of the Monongahela, now Cumberland to Pittsburg. Col. Cresap with his usual judgment called in an Indian to assist him, old Nemacolin. Scharf says— "The work was so well done, and the route so well chosen, that General Braddock with his army, afterward pursued this route, which thence forward was called 'Braddock's road.'" Scharf adds—"Col Cresap was one of the earliest settlers of Maryland, and without exaggeration, was one of the most remarkable men of his day." It should have been called "Cresap's road" but perhaps the sad fate of Gen. Braddock, it being the last road he ever traveled, helped to fix his name upon it. When the great "national road," the wonder of its day, was built across the mountains, it too, almost exactly followed Cresap's road. How glad would Col. Cresap have been to have looked upon the magnificent arches of solid masonry, across ravines and rivers, which still testify to the splendid quality of the work done, over 60 years ago, and to have looked upon the streams of travel and the relays of coaches, changing every twelve miles, coaches which carried our earlier Presidents to Washington. And then to have seen the railroads, with millions of traffic. In laying out this road Col. Cresap was a public benefactor, and worked for posterity and his name for that should, never be forgotten.

Soon after the road was completed to Pittsburg, the Ohio Company made a settlement there, at their own expense. Historians tell us, the peace supposed to have been assured by the "treaty of Utrecht 1713" was broken constantly, if not consecutively. On this side the water, our poor colonists realized that it was war off and on, for nearly 100 years. It was called variously, "Old French and Indian war," King James', King William's, Queen Anne's, Braddock's and Dunmore's war—but it was all horrid war. Our own Sherman named it rightly — ','War is hell." The sufferings that our ancestors endured, that we might enjoy our free, glorious country, we can never rightly understand or appreciate. France and England were ever striving for supremacy. France spared no effort to crush England, and claimed nearly everything—and to hold it, enlisted the savages as her allies, a measure which produced suffering unspeakable to our ancestors—which would make the blood run cold even in this July weather to relate. This we do know, England never would have conquered France and wrested from her the Canadas but for the colonies who loyally stood by her, and enabled her to hear the shout "they fly, they fly," at the siege of Quebec.

England's grant, of 600,000 acres of land to the "Ohio Company"— ("on the south side of the Ohio River, between the Monongahela and Kanawha rivers, and west of the Alleghenies,,), reopened the struggle. By the charter the Ohio Company was to select its lands immediately. Soon after the Company made its settlement at Pittsburg, the French with 1000 men fell upon the defenseless works and took them, and called the place Fort Duquesne. (April 1753.) Then they seized and pillaged the trading posts of the Ohio Company all along the frontier, and roused the savages against the English colonists. It was then, that Gov. Dinwiddie of Virginia, sent Washington to the "Commandant at Pittsburg to remonstrate with him and to demand the evacuation of the territory (Oct. 31, 1753.). The demands of Virginia, delivered by Washington were not granted. Nothing was left but war.

Gov. Dinwiddie then summoned together, the "House of Burgesses," and sent a note to the British Secretary of State, (Earl of Holderness) "stating the precarious, and dangerous condition of the western frontier," as the western part of Maryland, Virginia and Pennsylvania was then called. He also issued circular letters to all the English colonies, "to repel by force all attempts by the French, to intrude upon the settlements within the colonies." Then the Maryland Assembly met, and they decided, that they were resolutely determined to repel any hostile invasion by any foreign power."
General Washington came to Fort Cumberland on a tour of inspection, and also visited Col. Cresap, his old friend, at his fortress home of Old Town. Departing, after having inspected the frontier, Washington left Col. Innes (the son-in-law of Col. Cresap) at Fort Cumberland, in charge of the forces. Gov. Sharpe again called the "Maryland Assembly" together which appropriated 6,000 pounds, "for his Majesty's use for the defense of the colony of Virginia, attacked by French and Indians, and for the relief of the wives and children of the colonists, who put themselves under the care of the Government, etc."

On the passage of this act, Governor Sharpe immediately notified Governor Dinwiddie, of Virginia, who recommended "that Maryland raise a company of soldiers, to act in conjunction with the forces under Col. Innes, now at Cumberland."
Thereupon Gov. Sharpe issued a Commission to "Captain Thomas Cresap, later called Colonel," who, writes the Governor, "had behaved himself at all times, as a good servant of the Government, to raise a company of riflemen to serve beyond the Alleghenies" July 25th, 1754. This Commission antedated General Braddock's arrival at Fort Cumberland by some months, as he did not reach that fort until May 10th, 1755. Scharfe relates "When Gen. Braddock arrived at Fort Cumberland he found a large body of troops there, and among the officers, were those present, who afterwards distinguished themselves in the Revolution, viz: Thomas Cresap, Hugh Mercer, George Washington, Daniel Morgan, Horatio Gates and Thomas Gage."

The Indians were by this time laying waste all the frontier settlements, instigated by the French. The family of Cresap, was in a perilous situation, so he removed them to Conscocheage for safety, but on the way was attacked by a party of Indians. They were soon dispersed however, and he was not further molested. Many families fled to Frederickstown and others to Baltimore. After placing his family in safety, Col. Cresap obedient to Gov. Sharpe, raised a company of volunteer riflemen, and among them were two of his own sons, and marched to attack and repel the Indians. This was April 23rd, 1756. We will quote from the Maryland Gazette verbatim—"When they reached the mountains, a little east of what is now Frostburgh, they saw a party of Indians advancing. One of the riflemen firing too soon, alarmed the Indians, and they fled as fast as they could into the thickets, leaving their horses, and baggage which our people took and brought off. Among their baggage, one white scalp was found. Vol. X—11.

Colonel Cresap's son, Thomas Cresap Jr., chased one of the Indians nearly a mile, and gained on him, the Indian saw, he would be overtaken, and they both fired at once. Young Cresap was wounded, with a bullet and 7 buckshot, the bullet going through his breast; the others coming up, he said, "Pursue the enemy, don't mind me, I am a dead man," and he dropped down dead!

The Savage was also mortally wounded, but not yet dead, so they dispatched him, with a tomahawk. They then buried the body of young Cresap, as privately as possible, to preserve his scalp, and the mountain where this tragedy occurred, has ever since been called "Savage Mountain." His death was lamented by all who knew him, he was a young widower, and left a little daughter. From this wee lassie, only child of Thomas Cresap. Jr., are still many descendants, and among the noblest in the land, and some of them are present to-day, projectors of this re-union, being also descendants of Judge Schofield.

The war was raging in earnest now. It might have been settled, but abroad it was waged with fury by most of the European powers, and called there, the "Seven Years War." France and England were fighting and the others joined in for various reasons. Empress "Maria Theresa" allied herself with France instead of England, because France had a grudge against Prussia, and she hoped France would help recover "Silesia"—stolen by the Great Frederick. Empress Elizabeth of Russia—daughter of Peter the Great, fough twith them, zealously, against Prussia and England, because Frederick had said of her, "Elizabeth is entirely too fat and orthodox, and has not an ounce of nun in her composition." And so, because of revenge, and wounded vanity, and stolen provinces and the coveting of one another's territory, by these Kings, Queens, Emperors and Empresses—thousands of miles away, our colonists on this side of the ocean must meet death, by torture and scalping knife, and be burned in their homes by yelling, painted savages. We would not go into the horrid details, but the Indians claimed "that they took '50 white scalps' for every Indian killed."

June 30th, 1756, Col. Cresap and his party, had another skirmish with the savages. He had not forgotten the lamented sleeper on Savage Mountain; he enlisted another company of volunteers, taking with him his two surviving sons Daniel and Michael and a gigantic negro servant, belonging to him.

This time they advanced into the wilderness as far as a mountain, a mile west of Grantsville. There, they met the Indians; a fight took place and the negro Goliath was slain, and the mountain has been "Negro Mountain" ever since. Another mountain is connected with the ramily of Col. Cresap. It is called "Dan's Mountain" and its summit "Dan's Rock." It was named for Daniel Cresap, oldest son of Col. Cresap, because of a daring and brave hunting exploit in his early youth, and it will wear his name forever. It is near Rawling's Station, where stands also Daniel's stone house. Dan's Mountain, though rugged, steep and difficult of ascent is much frequented by tourists, but they do not ascend on foot as Daniel marched up it. So the very mountains testify to the bravery of Col. Cresap and his family.

The troubles of our colonists increased. October ioth, 1755, the frontier men, gathered at Col. Cresap's and strengthened his Block House for defense. Gov. Sharpe then ordered into service, the militia of the eastern counties too. His order reads—"The troops are to march to Frederick, where James Dixon, will furnish them provision for five days, thence to the mouth of the Conecocheague where George Ross will furnish subsistence for eight days, or until they can reach Col. Cresap's, where they are to assist in the protection of the frontier!" Once at Col. Cresap's, the Governor seemed to know that they would be provided without any special command. Still the war raged, and in large scalping parties the Indians were ravaging the whole frontier. It was a concerted attack, and Washington wrote thus: "Another tempest has broken out on the frontier and the alarm spreads wider than ever. In short the inhabitants are so apprehensive of danger, that no families remain above Conecocheague road, and many are gone from below. The harvests are lost, and the distresses of the settlements are evident and manifold." On the ioth of July 1763, Col. Cresap wrote Gov. Sharpe for aid and men to assist in repelling the savages. Said "his fort was filled with distressed families who had fled to his stockade for safety, and they were all in hourly danger of being butchered; unless relief was afforded." His letter is a vivid picture of the sufferings of our ancestors, and, is still in existence, preserved by the Historical Society of Maryland, and we herewith produce a certified copy:

Old Town July 15th 1763.  

May it Please your Excellency

I take this opportunity in the hight of Confusion to acquaint you with our unhappy & most wretched Situation at this time being in Hourly Expectation of being Massicread by our Barberous & Inhuman Enemy the Indians we having been three days Successively Attacked by them viz. the 13, 14 & this Instant on the 13th as 6 men were shocking some wheat in the field 5 Indians fired on them & Killed one but was prevented Scalping him by one of the other men firing on them as they Came to do it & others Running to their assistance. On the 14 5 Indians Crep up to & fired on about 16 men who were Sitting & walking under a Tree at the Entrance of my Lane about 100 yards from My House but on being fired at by the white men who much wounded Some of them they Immediately Runn off & were followed by the white men about a Mile all which way was great Quantitys of Blood on the Ground the white men got 3 of their Bundles Containing Sundry Indian Implements & Goods about 3 Hours after Several gunns were fired in the woods on which a Party went in Quest of them & found 3 Beaves Killed by them, the Indians wounded one man at their first fire tho but slightly. On this Instant as Mr. Saml. Wilder was going to a house of his about 300 yards Distant from mine with 6 men & Several women the Indians Rushed on them from a Rising Ground but they Perceiving them Coming, Run towards my House hollowing which being heard by those at my house they Run to their Assistance & met them & the Indians at the Entrance of my lane on which the Indians Immediately fired on them to the Amount of 18 or Twenty & Killed Mr. Wilder, the Party of white men Returned their fire & Killed one of them dead on the spot & wounded Severall of the Others as appeared by Considerable Quantitys of Blood Strewed on the Ground as they Run off which they Immediately did & by their leaving behind them 3 Gunns one Pistol & Sundry other Emplemcnts of warr &c &c.

I have Inclosed a List of the Disolate men women & Children who have fled to my House which is Inclosed by a Small Stockade for Safety by which youl See what a number of Poor Soals destitute of Every Necessary of Life are here penned up & likely to be Butchered without Immediate Relief & Assistance & Can Expct none unless from the Province to Which they Belong. I shall Submit to your wiser Judgment the Best & most Effectual method for Such Relief & shall Conclude with hoping we shall have it in time

I am Honnourable Sir
    Your most Obedt. Servt.
         Thos. Cresap.

P. S. those Indians who Attacked us this day are part of that Body which went to the Southward by this way In Spring which is Known by one of the Gunns we now got from them.

The Maryland Gazette of July 1yth. 1763. says: Fredericktown has contributed to the support of men to be added to Col. Cresap's force, as we look upon the preservation of Cresap's Fort at Old Town, to be of utmost importance to us, and a proper check to the ravages of the Indians, and to keep the enemy at a distance, and thus, shelter the whole province." July 21st. 1763, the "Maryland Gazette" mentions "Cresap is not yet cut off," and later reports "ten men more were sent to his assistance.

The "Seven Years' War" ended in Europe, and with the ceding of Canada to England by France on this side the sea. (Sept. 1763.) Peace smiled on our long suffering colonists for a few months. Then England forgot it was colonial valor enabled her to conquer the Canadas; so, lest the colonies grow too strong, she began to oppress and repress them. In just a year and a half or March 22nd, 1765, the odious "Stamp Act," was proclaimed. The colonies rebelled. In Frederickstown, the Stamp distributor, was burned in effigy, The Governor called the "Provincial Assembly" together. Among those present from Frederick County, which then constituted western Maryland, the first one named is Col. Cresap.

This "Assembly" adopted resolutions against the "Stamp Act." They did not stop with that. Feeling was too high. In October, 1765, "The Sons of Liberty" organized under the leadership of Col. Thomas Cresap. Nov. 30th, the "Sons of Liberty" assembled at the house of Samuel Swearingen, whose two sisters "Ruth" and "Drusilla," married Col. Cresap's sons Daniel and Thomas, and whose daughter Elizabeth, wedded the Col.'s grandson, Daniel Cresap Jr.; (afterwards a Colonel in the Revolution). From the residence of Samuel Swearingen, the "Sons of Liberty" marched, two and two, taking up the coffin containing the "Stamp Act" at exactly three o'clock, with drums, and banners, and civic officers, and a figure in a chariot representing the Stamp Agent, (who is named), and placards containing more truth, than compliments; they marched through the principal streets, and arrived at the gallows, on the Court House green, where the "Stamp Act" was buried under the gallows, amid loud huzzas. Then one of the "Sons of Liberty" read a paper, taken from the bosom of the figure, in a loud voice, purporting to be the Confession and last wishes of the Stamp distributor. After filling up the grave, the acclamations were repeated and the procession re-formed, and marched back to Samuel Swearingen's, where an elegant supper was prepared, and a ball given to the ladies, who made a brilliant appearance, and many loyal and patriotic toasts were drunk, and the whole concluded with the utmost decorum." The result was, the Stamp Act was soon rendered null and void in Maryland forever, for through the influence of these Sons of Liberty, their leader Col. Cresap, the Provincial Court of Maryland, March 31st, 1766 rescinded it. True, England repealed it March 18th, but the news did not reach Maryland till May 22nd, 1766, and it was already dead and buried. From this on, the mutterings of the coming tempest or cyclone were heard. Lord Dunmore's war broke out, instigated it is now believed by him and his agent, with a view to the future enlistment of the Indians against the colonists. He was an inveterate foe to the Revolution, and foresaw the inevitable, and used his power as Governor of Virginia later on for Great Britain, and hoped by and through the aid of the Indians to weaken the much enduring colonists.

At all events, the Indians were on the warpath again, destroying the settlements and butchering the inhabitants.
Lord Dunmore formally declared war April 21st, 1774, though Governor of Virginia, he sent a Captain's Commission to Cap. Michael Cresap dated June 10th, 1774, in spite of the fact that the latter was a resident of Maryland.

As many petitions had reached Capt. Cresap from various sections of the frontier, to come to their aid he accepted Lord Dunmore's Commission ; raised a company and joined Maj. Angus McDonald's command, and marched with them to attack the Indians, at their strong town of "Waccatomica," on the Muskingum, where Dresden (Ohio) now stands. Like his father, old Col. Thomas Cresap, Capt. Michael Cresap was ever ready to obey his country's call. He was so popular, and so many men flocked to his standard that after his own company was full, he filled completely that of his nephew, Capt. Michael Cresap, Jr., and partly the company of Capt. T>.ncock Lee. They did their duty and conquered the Indians again, and Dunmore's war ended in October, 1774. It however was only the precursor of the Revolution. The troubles with England had increased, the "tax on tea," the "Boston Massacre," and "Boston Port Bill," had exasperated the people.

So Frederick County had another convention, June 20th, 1774, and here again, we find our aged hero, Col. Cresap. This convention suggested calling together the colonies. On the 22nd of June, there was a general convention at Annapolis, and Cresap was a delegate there, and Maryland propsed the first Continental Congress, and elected the first set of delegates. The 18th of November, at Fredericktown was another meeting and Col. Cresap is present. Jan. 24th, 1775, a county convention held at Frederick. Col. Cresap is there, and is named as one of the "Committee of Observation" to carry the resolves of the American Congress into execution, and to raise money for arms and ammunition. The Provincial Convention had ordered $10,000, a large sum of money, to be collected. A subscription was to be opened in every "hundred" in all the counties. For Skipton Hundred, we find three names, and one is that of our aged hero. Col. Cresap.
The money collected was to be paid over March 23rd 1775, just in time too, for April 19th "the shot was fired at Lexington that echoed round the world," and set the colonies aflame with indignation and patriotism.

The Maryland "Sons of Liberty" including Col. Cresap, were all activity. They held meetings, and enlisted for service on the field and at home. The heroic Colonel, so long called the "English Colonel," always foremost for liberty, justice, and loyalty, was now too aged to go himself, but, urged his sons and grandsons to take up arms and march to the front.
The Second Continental Congress, sent word to Maryland, "you will get experienced officers, and the very best men that can be procured, as well, from affection to the service, as for the honor of the Province." In consequence of this command Maryland issued her first commission to Cap. Michael Cresap, the third son of the brave Col. Cresap. Says' Scharf: "Cresap's company of riflemen was the first from the South to reach Cambridge and join General Washington. After traveling 550 miles over the rough and difficult roads of that period, they arrived at their destination the 9th of August, making the march in 22 days, without losing a man. His riflemen were enrolled at Roxbury in Washington's command, August 13th." A letter from a gentleman of Fredericktown to Baltimore, July 19, 1775 says: "Capt. Cresap with his brave company have marched—I need not say anything of Capt. Cresap's undaunted courage. Not an American but knows him to be an intrepid warrior, and of course he knows his men and has called them from the many." So popular was Capt. Michael Cresap that he enlisted enough for two companies; he made his selection and kept 130; the rest were added to other companies in the Regiment.

Colonel Cresap promised Capt. Michael to look after his wife and little ones, and was exceedingly active in every way in helping our country's cause. He stirred up three of his grandsons to also go to the front in their Uncle's company.
We might quote from Brantz Mayer of Baltimore, before the Historical Society of Maryland.

"I have had the happiness of seeing Capt. Michael Cresap marching at the head of a formidable company of upward 130 men, from the mountains, painted like Indians, and armed with tomahawks and rifles, and dressed in their hunting shirts and moccasins and though some of them have traveled nearly 800 miles, from the banks of the Ohio River, they seemed to walk as light, and with as much spirit, as the first hour of their march." He then describes their wonderful dexterity in rifle practice, standing up, lying down, bending in a circle, in any position, and adds: "I had the opportunity of attending the captain during his stay in town, and observing the behavior of his men, and his manner of treating them. It seems, all who go to war under him, not only pay the most willing obedience to him, as commander, but look to him in trouble as their friend and father, and he treated them with kindness without losing his dignity. Among his men were Michael Cresap Jr., Daniel Cresap Jr., and Joseph Cresap, his nephews. Daniel Cresap Jr., became a Colonel and the others were Lieutenants. The old Colonel was soon bereft of his son Capt. Michael who died in the service, but he felt then as ever, "it is sweet and glorious to die for one's country."

The old Colonel did not live to know the victory at Yorktown, but saw it with the eye of faith, and never for a moment doubted our ultimate triumph, and he labored for the cause of liberty and country while he lived. His name is still held in reverence for his brave achievements and sufferings which have helped to make this great nation. All honor to him and his compatriots!

Col. Cresap's voice has echoed in the halls of Congress through his descendants. On the Judge's Bench, and from the legal forums, and in Legislative Assemblies, in most of our States, including our own Ohio, his descendants have served with the hereditary wisdom, for which he was so esteemed in the Assemblies of the Province and State of Maryland.
His bravery did not expire on the battle fields of the Revolution. In the War of 1812 through later Cresaps, his blood flowed on the "Essex" upon the sea, and on the land too it was shed.

In the Grand Army of the Republic, they marched with Sherman to the Sea. With Grant at Vicksburg, Shiloh and Appomattox were many of his posterity, serving through the war, from lieutenants in rank to generals. The commanding general of the battle of Inka, and who served with honor through the war and had charge of the Southwest Division later, was a grandson of Col. Daniel Cresap of the Revolution, and great grandson of Col. Thomas Cresap our aged hero, and he served until on "Fame's eternal camping ground" he slept. (Gen. Edward Otho Cresap Ord.)
In Cuba and Manila and in the home land, his children's children to the seventh generation, fight for "old glory," and support the cause he loved and for which he suffered; the cause of liberty, loyalty, country. Still his characteristics follow his descendants. Among the promotions to higher rank, made this month by President McKinley in the Regular Army, were some of Col. Cresap's descendants. What must have been the strong remarkable character of Col. Cresap, who could so impress upon "his children to the seventh generation, his honesty, integrity, benevolence, wisdom, courage, patriotism, loyalty to country and to friends!

Up San Juan hill that awful day, we hear the voice of the brave old Colonel in one of his latest descendants. "All who are brave follow me," he would rush, upward and onward, shouting that cry and leading his men, then rest a few moments, and again that young voice would ring out—"All who are brave follow me," calling to his men, then run ahead again—"All who are brave follow me," when nearly at the top and in the moment of victory, 1t is also the spirit of his ancestor Col. Cresap, the "bravest and tenderest" which impels him, as he regards a wounded Spaniard with pitying eye, to turn to his men with the order—"Take that Spaniard and carry him behind the block house, out of the fire,"— he was just in range and also in danger of being trampled to death and, continues one of the men who received the command, "The scoundrel listened, and then pulling out his pistol poked it in our Lieutenant's face, and killed him on the spot, the brave boy, we had been following all day, and, who in the moment of victory had thought how he might save the scoundrel's life—and" continues the historian, "the leader of this scattered line, this forlorn hope, that persisted in advancing through the leaden hail, was of a family that has given many a brave soldier to our country, but none braver than he"—"and so the officer wp worshipped, lay cold in death in the hour of victory." Shall we not hearken to the will of this youthful scion of a brave house, we who are of his blood, and though we lament the loss to our country of our young hero, (Jules Gansche Ord, son of General Edward Otho Cresap Ord), and with him descendants of the intrepid Col. Cresap, shall we not love the starry banner and follow it where it leads? mindful of the last message of that sweet young voice "All who are brave follow me!"


1. This paper on the life of Thomas Cresap was read by Mrs. Stevenson, a double descendant of Colonel Cresap, at the Eluathan Scofield Reunion held at the residence of Mr. Frank Tallmadge, Columbus, Ohio, August 7, 1901. Mrs. Stevenson is a resident of Dresden, Ohio.—[ed.]

2.  "This was the first Ohio Company not the later one that settled Marietta. 1788 — Ed.

FROM: Ohio Arch├Žological and Historical Quarterly, Volume 10 By Ohio State Archaeological and Historical Society, pages 146-164, Published for the Society by A.H. Smythe, 1901


  1. In doing ancestry.com I found that Colonel Thomas Cresap is my 8th great grandfather on my father's paternal side! Great read, thank you.

  2. I am also a tenth generation descendent. I very much enjoyed reading this and will share it with other family members. Thank you!