Sarah Troxler and the Fort McCord Incident

First an article, which was published in The Valley Log newspaper, Orbisonia, Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania, sometime before 7/31/07; then some excerpts from a follow-up article; then a comment on the subject by the author; then a description of the Fort McCord incident. Joshua Brown must have been pretty powerful if he could drive the remaining Cherokee band permanently from the area. And regarding the Troxler name, it is so unusual that it sounds like it might be an Indian name, but the best information so far is it's probably a Pennsylvania Dutch name originally from Alsace: Drochsler. In some of the southern German dialects, notably in Bavaria but maybe also Alsace, Drochsler would be pronounced like Trochsler.

Will DNA test answer mystery of the last Indians of Maddensville?

By C. Arnold McClure

One of the oldest families of southern Huntingdon County is the Brown family. The appearance of this family into Huntingdon County is shrouded by the years and the fact that when the family came here, there were few records. One old record says that the Browns were "aristocratic Quakers".

A mystery that surrounds the family is the story that one of their ancestors was an American Indian woman-one of the last Indians to remain in the county after the others had gone west.

Harold Brown of Shirley Township says: "It is clear that one of our ancestors was an American Indian woman who lived near present day Maddensville, which was the area settled by the Brown family. The young Brown boy fell in love with the Indian girl and over the objections of his father, married her."

Jim Mills of Springfield Township confirms the story told in his line of the Browns: "My grandfather, Clayton Brown, showed me the place where the Indians lived before they went to Shirleysburg. It was close to the Aughwick Creek and next to the road from Maddensville to Rockhill."

Says Linda McClure, daughter of James Mills, who with many others in the county, has researched the Brown family: "Joshua Brown was the first Brown in this area. He had several sons, including Richard who married the Indian."

Says Harold Brown, "The story told to me was that one of the sons fell in love with an Indian girl living close by. His father, Joshua, was very upset over it and, in fact, he chased the Indians from the area. They went to nearby present-day Shirleysburg, known then as Fort Shirley and a place where Indians has long been friendly with George Croghan. Indians had long lived near there."

Linda McClure: "The son who fell in love with the Indian girl was named Richard Brown. One of their children was my direct ancestor, Reuben Brown."

Harold Brown: "Even though the father had chased the Indians from Maddensville, the son refused to listen to his father and went after her. He brought her back and they married."

Linda McClure: "The historical evidence is very sketchy and the family has long wanted confirmation of the story. For Christmas my husband bought me a DNA kit from the National Genographic Project. It gives me the option to test my female side or my paternal side of my family. I chose, this time, to check the mitochondrial DNA which will trace the DNA of me, my mother, her mother, her mother’s mother, and so on. If American Indian DNA is there, will it show up in this test, for both my mother and my father go back to the Browns-and to Richard Brown, I wondered?"

Close examination of the DNA test procedure shows, however, that the test given to Linda Mills McClure will not give the answer. It is because the mitochondrial DNA can only be traced by the mother, the mother’s mother, and so on back. In Linda’s case the female line is broken by the fact that it is the son of the Indian woman who is Linda’s descendant. He will not carry her DNA, but his sisters will as will their daughters.

Old Joshua Brown was born about 1770 and he died November 26, 1832. He married Charlotte Morris (b.d. April 14, 1771) on December 22, 1790. Their children were: Hannah (b.d. September 6, 1791); Caleb (b.d. March 24, 1793); John (b.d. May 10, 1795); Richard (b.d. June 24, 1797); Jeremiah (b.d. March 4, 1802); Rebecca (b.d. November 10, 1803); Elizabeth (b.d. May 24, 1806); Charlotte (b.d. july 3, 1808); Sarah (b.d. August 1, 1810); and George Washington (b.d. February 11, 1813).

If Richard married the Indian woman, named Sarah Troxler, one of their sons was Reuben Brown, Linda McClure’s direct ancestor. The problem is that the mitochondrial DNA will only be carried by the daughter of the Indian woman who would be a sister of Reuben Brown. We know Reuben Brown married Martha Taylor, but that DNA won’t help us, but it is her DNA which Linda carries.

That means that a daughter, of a daughter of a daughter of the Indian woman will have to be found and tested to confirm the American Indian ancestry.

So, who were the other children of Richard and Indian Brown? Who were the daughters and what female residents of our area can trace that lineage?

Richard Brown and his wife Sarah had just three daughters that are known: Missouri Brown, born circa 1847. So let’s look at Missouri Brown. Missouri Brown, born 1847 (d. 1927) married J. H. Runk of Fort Littleton. Did J. H. Runk and his wife, Missouri Brown have any daughters? And then, did they have daughters and are they alive today? If they are, and they want to help solve the mystery, they will have the option of taking a DNA test to see if the Indian DNA is there. Another option is Ellen or Eleanor Brown who married a Messamer, possibly Jefferson Messamer, born in York. A third option is the daughter, Jane, who married John Ramsey of Fort Littleton.

Out of the Runk, Messamer, or Ramsey families will have to come the answer to the Sarah Troxler Brown mystery.

For the record, Richard and Sarah Brown had the following children, from oldest to youngest: Reuben, Washington (who would be killed in the Civil War, dying in the hospital at Alexandria, Virginia); Eleanor or Ellen married J. Messamer; Asa Brown, who died in Erie, Pennsylvania; Jane Brown (b. circa 1841) married John Ramsey of Fort Littleton; Ivan (b. 1843); and Missouri Brown (b. 1847), who married J. H. Runk, Richard Brown (b. circa 1853).

One old family document says that Sarah Troxler was of the Cherokee tribe, the tribe known to be driven out of the south and into Pennsylvania relatively late, near the end of the Delaware Tribe era of Pennsylvania.

So, Mrs. McClure’s DNA test will probably confirm English/Scottish lineage on the mother’s sides, but it will have to be the descendants of the Ellen Brown Messamer, Jane Brown Ramsey; or Missouri Brown Runk to answer the mystery of Sarah Troxler (Mrs. Reuben) Brown.


GRANDPARENTS HISTORY - Anyone wishing to write or have written a history of their grandparents are invited to call The Valley Log at 447-5506 or 542-8123.

DNA test seems to say no American Indian blood in Brown family; one possibility left

By C. Arnold McClure

DNA test results of a descendant of Richard and Sarah Traxler Brown seems to indicate that Sarah Traxler was not an American Indian as claimed by family tradition....

This week DNA test results were received by the family that indicates that Sarah Traxler did not belong to one of the five known American Indian DNA haplogroups: A, B, C, D, and X....

Is it possible that Sarah could still be an American Indian, even though this testing seems to confirm that she is not? Yes.

Here is what could be wrong with the testing. It is possible that the Indian girl’s mother was not herself Indian, but a white woman. If so, her mitochondrial DNA would not show the Indian DNA characteristics.

Another problem might be that the family’s genealogical records are faulty. According to the records of Harold Brown of Shirley Township, the female line of the family tree flows like this. Sarah Traxler (Mrs. Richard) Brown, her daughter Missouri Brown (Mrs. Joseph) Ranck, her daughter Hester Ranck (Mrs. Harry) Mark, her daughter Sarah Ranck (Mrs. Amos) Earhart, and finally, her daughter, the woman, tested, Alta Earhart (Mrs. Robert) Eshleman.

The mitochondrial DNA cares not about the patriarchal lineage, since the particular haplogroup markers are entirely mitochondrial DNA, only carried by females....

The DNA test indicates that she belongs to Haplogroup H, the most common of the European haplogroups. According to the National Geographic DNA website, 50 to 60% of all European women belong to Haplogroup H, which is descended from a woman born about 15,000 years ago....

Is it possible that Sarah Traxler could still be an American Indian, despite the test? Yes. The possibility is that Sarah Traxler’s mother was white and her father was an Indian. That would explain why this Indian family stayed in the area when the other’s went west. It could be that Sarah Traxler’s mother had been captured by the Indians, then married an Indian. Historical studies remain to be done.

Subject: Re: Brown family research by linda McClure
Date: Mon, 30 Jun 2008 10:05:31 -0400 (EDT)
To: Fred Griswold

...After contemplating the results of the test (that mitochondrial DNA did not reflect American Indian DNA in the Sarah Troxler female line) we concluded that Sarah or her mother had been fathered by an Indian. That would make the story valid. Since then I have been looking at the likely abduction incidents to see if any likely females had been abducted during that time. The McCord Fort incident is the likely candidate.

Arnie McClure

The Fort McCord incident which occurred about April 4, 1756, and in which twenty-seven persons were killed or captured by the Indians, is described in detail, along with a follow-up incident in 1758, on this page of the 1896 Report Of The Commission To Locate The Sites Of The Frontier Forts Of Pennsylvania. Fort McCord was in Franklin County, which borders on Huntingdon County to the southeast. Here is an excerpt, from the description of Robert Robinson:

"In the year 1756 a party of Indians came out of the Conococheague to a garrison named McCord's Fort, where they killed some and took a number prisoners. They then took their course near to Fort Lyttleton. Captain Hamilton being stationed there with a company, hearing of their route at McCord's Fort, marched with his company of men, having an Indian with him who was under pay. The Indians had McCord's wife with them; they cut off Mr. James Blair's head and threw it into Mrs. McCord's lap, saying that it was her husband's head; but she knew it to be Blair's."

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