— written by Aaron Boyd
I am not of any Indian descent, that I am aware, but my family is from the Rising Sun, Maryland, area near Conowingo. My heritage includes the Reynolds family who received some of the Nottingham Lots from William Penn.
I wanted to be sure you and other Susquehannock descendants were aware of a piece of history which is most likely connected to your heritage. The site is located on the Horseshoe Scout Reservation in Chester County, Pennsylvania, just across the state line from Rising Sun, Maryland, which was originally part of the Nottingham Lots owned by the Reynolds family. In addition to living in the area, I was also involved in scouting and worked on the Boy Scout reservation during my summers as a youth. There is a natural rock formation in Camp Horseshoe overlooking Octoraro Creek known as “Buzzards Rock”. In 1988, archeologists performed an excavation and found that “earliest artifacts indicate that the shelter was first occupied nearly eight to ten thousand years ago.” Artifacts included items such as pottery and arrowheads and showed evidence of occupation even after European influence. The site is now designated officially as “Horseshoe Rockshelter (36Ch488)”.
The following abstract was printed in The Pennsylvania Archaeologist, vol 76(2) 2006:
HORSESHOE ROCKSHELTER (36CH488)
MARK A. MCCONAUGHY
Excavations in 1988 at Horseshoe Rockshelter (36CH488) demonstrated that Native Americans utilized the shelter from Early Archaic times through the Contact period. Evidence suggests that the site was primarily used as a short term hunting camp during prehistoric times. There also is evidence that the site functioned as a quartz procurement/processing camp, most likely during the Late Woodland period. The shelter continued to experience periodic use by Euroamericans during the 19th and 20th centuries. Boy Scout camping activities at the rockshelter in recent times disturbed much of the prehistoric cultural deposits. Nevertheless, the excavation produced significant data regarding prehistoric activities at the site.
A narrative of the site and the archaeological dig can be found on the Horseshoe Scout Reservation Alumni Association website. I might be off by a couple hundred feet, but the site is located at GPS 39.722234,-76.120968 (+39° 43′ 20.08″, -76° 7′ 15.37″).
The Perry Historians, a genealogical library located just northeast of New Bloomfield, Perry County, PA. is hosting another of their Special Presentations at their library in the Hoverter Archives building.
Sunday, October 25, 2009 at 2:00 p.m.
Special speaker, Mr. Andrew Wyatt is an archaeologist at the Harrisburg office of McCormick Taylor, Inc.. Since 1986, Mr. Wyatt has conducted fieldwork and analysis on Native American sites in the Northeast and Middle Atlantic regions. He received a B.A. in Anthropology from the State University of New York, Albany and an M.A. in Anthropology from Temple University.
The title of Mr. Wyatt’s presentation is An Early Seventeenth Century Susquehannock Village in the Great Valley: The Lemoyne Borough Memorial Park Site. Mr. Wyatt will speak on the recent archaeological excavations in advance of rail line construction, which resulted in the discovery and partial excavation of a previously unknown Susquehannock village site dating to the early seventeenth century. This presentation will feature the site, its artifacts, and its relationship to the more well-known Susquehannock villages in Lancaster and York counties.
This program is FREE to all and all are welcome to attend. Light refreshments will be served following the presentation. Directions: Located on right hand side of Route 34 North, 2 miles from the square of New Bloomfield, or left hand side of Route 34 South, 4 miles from Newport.
On April 29, 2009, York County designated 93 acres of its 187-acre parcel as Native Lands County Park, preserving site of the Last Susquehannock Village and surrounding the land for future generations.
A Brief Native Lands County Park Timeline:
- 14,000 years to present – People have utilized and have been caretakers of the Native Lands property.
- 1676 – 1680 – Native Lands was site of the last village where the Susquehannock Indians functioned as a Nation.
- 1984 – The Byrd Leibhart Site, site of the last village of the Susquehannock Indians, was deemed eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places.
- 1990 – National Parks Service Study recommended that the site be nominated for National Historic Landmark status.
- December, 2002 – Plans were submitted for more than 450 homes and townhouses on the 187-acre parcel where the site of the last Susquehannock village is located. Some 200 documented burials exist in cemeteries associated with the village.
- February 26, 2003 – A hearing was held to address concerns about plans for the development. Nearly 250 members of the public attended, including many Native Americans who voiced their opposition to the plans. (By the time of the hearing, plans for townhouses on top of the village site had been eliminated.)
- March 10, 2003 – The applicants indicated that 17 townhouse units still planned on the Susquehannock Village’s northwest cemetery would be eliminated. Summer, 2003 – The site was placed on Preservation Pennsylvania’s Annual listing of the Commonwealth’s Most Endangered Historic Properties “Pennsylvania at Risk, 2003″.
- 2003 – 2008 – Hearings, condemnation, lawsuits, and negotiations, as well as sustained pressure from Native Americans and others concerned with the preservation of the endangered site ensued.
- October 31, 2008 – The 187-acre parcel was acquired by York County for 16.6 million dollars.
- January, 14, 2009 – The Byrd Leibhart Site was added to the National Register of Historic Places.
- January, 2009 – Nearby land containing the site of a previous Susquehannock Village (the Oscar Leibhart Site), already on the National Register of Historic Places, was purchased by the Farm & Natural Lands Trust of York County and the Archaeological Conservancy for preservation.
- April 29, 2009 – York County designated 93 acres of its 187-acre parcel as Native Lands County Park, preserving site of the Last Susquehannock Village and surrounding the land for future generations.
October 17, 2009 – Native Lands Celebration – You are invited to this celebration and a giving of thanks by the Native American community in honor of the preservation of a special place (the Native American Heritage Sites), sacred grounds (the Native and non-Native cemeteries), and of a beautiful and significant piece of our Mother Earth for future generations to enjoy and learn from.
I grew up along the southern Susquehanna in a small town called, York Haven. On the island (Brunner’s Island) formed by the Conewago Creek and the Susquehanna was the remains of a reputed Susquehannock Indian village as evidenced by the many artifacts uncovered over time, as well as during the construction of PP&Ls coal-fired electric generation plant on the island in the late 1950s/early 1960s. Arrow heads, complete battle axes, etc, were found by anyone who wanted to take the time to look. Attending school in York county, I, too, never recall studying the tribe.