In order to understand the history of the Wyoming Valley you have to understand that it was carved up and settled by settlers from mostly Connecticut under the Susquehannah Company. The settlers themselves petitioned the government for county government on several occasions and I have mentioned those in past posts. It took several petitions and pressure by the settlers and the Susquehannah Company to finally get the Connecticut Assembly to take action.
“So in January 1774, the Susquehanna Purchase was incorporated into a new town christened Westmoreland, its tri-syllabic etymology a summation of its promise, and annexed to Connecticut’s northwestern Litchfield County. Trumbull wasn’t shy about hiding the fact from Pennsylvania: he informed Governor John Penn of the decision immediately and warned that only Connecticut had jurisdiction over the area. The Susquehanna Affair ceased being a dispute between colony and private association: it became a dispute between two colonial governments.
The settlers managed to withstand another Pennsylvania attempt to roust them in December 1775, and Connecticut strengthened its grip by making Westmoreland its own county in 1776, complete with its own court system and probate court.
Source: The Incredibly convoluted history of Westmoreland County, Connecticut, by Jackson Kuhl. Published at the website of the Journal of the American Revolution.
The last paragraph in the above quotation refers to the Yankee-Pennamite wars over the land in the Wyoming Valley. I have shared about that in past posts. Wikipedia has an article that is not too bad. Here is the link.
The War Fare History blog has a nice overview of these conflicts with portraits. Please keep in mind that Connecticut was trying to carve out land in Pennsylvania and that lead to fighting over the land that was being settled by both colonies/states. The second scene of conflict came with the Revolutionary War and that was a fight between all colonists with Great Britain. Some of the articles tend to lump the conflicts together the land issues and the war. However, other fighting involved the colonists (settlers in the Wyoming Valley) would find out who were Tories (loyal to the crown) and turn them out of their lands and homes. I told you it was very complicated the history of the area.
Seems rather strange to attach the lands in the Wyoming Valley of Pennsylvania to Litchfield County in Connecticut. Well Litchfield was on the western border of Connecticut and probably the closest to the Wyoming Valley, still this caused problems for the settlers in getting business done. There must have been something set up to get documents to the courthouse in Litchfield the town. Our Philip Goss IV was sent on business to Connecticut per one event that I have shared on this blog. Apparently the settlers took turns?
According to Google Maps driving from Litchfield, Connecticut (the town of Litchfield County) to Wilkes-Barre, PA is 195 miles on a modern highway or a little over 3 hours – doable in our time.
When you read the history of the Wyoming Valley and the Susquehannah Purchase you learn that whenever there was a squabble the settlers would head back to Connecticut or some other location for safety and then return to their lands in the Valley. This back and forth happened quite frequently. This means they had to maintain two homes, one in their original home base and the other on the near the banks of the Susquehanna River. No simple task. Unfortunately, I don’t know where Philip Goss IV and Mary would go but their daughter Sarah was still in Granville, MA till after 1790 with her family and husband Enos Seward.
Here is a deed of Solomon Goss to Philip Goss, Jr. in 1777. Solomon is my ancestor and my connection to this family. Is the Philip Goss who is listed as a witness our Philip Goss IV, probably. Click on the photo and try to read it – the deed…This deed means that Philip Goss IV was still living in April of 1777 and that the Goss family was in Huntington Twp. by then. It also implies a relationship between Solomon and Philip Goss Jr. – brother to brother.
Page 113 – 1777
Philip Goss this deed from Solomon Goss
Know all men By these Presents that I Solomon Goss of Westmoreland in the County of Westmoreland ye County of Westmoreland in ye Colony of Connecticut in New England for and in consideration of Thirty pounds ______to me in hand before the ensealing have of well & truly paid by Phillip Goss (jr.) of Westmoreland in County of & Colony aforesaid the receipt whereof I so acknowledge myself thereof fully satisfied & contented do by these Presents give grant bargain & convey & confirm unto him P. Goss his heirs & assigns forever one certain right of land containing about three hundred acres in place ____ & ______by ye Name of Huntington on ye East Branch of Fishing Creek one Lott Division Sd Right (viz) No. 45 to have and to hold ye above Granted Premises with all appurtenances belonging or in any _____appertaining unto him ye s’d P. Gofts his heirs & assigns & furthermore J ye sd Goss. Do warrant & Defend ye above Grante & Bargained premises from all Claims and demands of all persons Claiming under Connecticut & that __ ye sd Gofs have good Right to Bargain & sell ye same in manner & form as above sd ___ Witness whereof I have hereunto set my Hand and Seal this 15th Day of April A.D. 1777. >>>>>>>>>>>>Solomon Goss Seal
Signed Sealed & Delivered in presence of
In the Presence of Noah Wachem, Phillip Gofs
Westmoreland SS) Westmoreland County ye 16th April 1777 Personally appeared ye above Name Solomon Gofs ye signer & sealer to ye above instrument & acknowledged sd ye Same to be his own free act & deed, Before Me Nathan Denison, Justice of the Peace
Received ye above deed to record April 16, 1777 and recorded _____Ezekeil Peirce Clerk. Note: I have other deeds during this time period and will share in later posts.
So what does this mean for you the researcher, well it means that you have to go to several locations, mainly the Connecticut Historical Society in Hartford, Connecticut and the Pennsylvania Archives in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania to find the bulk of the information about this area’s history. You also need to use “Westmoreland County, Connecticut” to search in catalogs to find information. In some instances I see that “Wyoming Valley” is also used. It can be tough finding the information so take your time. Most importantly, don’t get this county mixed up with the Westmoreland County in Pennsylvania 0n the western side of that state. Make sure you use CT or Connecticut in your search.
History books for the area are different, most large libraries or archives will have copies of The History of Wilkes-Barre and Luzerne Co. Nowadays you can find them online at Internet Archive.
For the Pennsylvania Archives you would search for Susquehannah Company and Westmoreland Co., CT: (See my past posts on the Pennsylvania Archives and the Susquehannah Company for an explanation of the actual archive and then the series of books that are of importance in researching the Wyoming Valley.
RG48 WESTMORELAND “TOWN” – Pennsylvania Archive, Harrisburg,PA.
The “town” of Westmoreland, an expanse of nearly 5,000 square miles, was established by the general assembly of Connecticut in January, 1774 during the struggle between Pennsylvania and Connecticut settlers to control the Wyoming Valley in what is now the Wilkes Barre / Scranton area. Westmoreland Town stretched from the Delaware River to the Susquehanna and was considered to be a municipality of Litchfield County, Connecticut. With the Trenton Decree of 1782, all Connecticut jurisdiction in Pennsylvania was officially nullified, although disputes over land ownership between individuals continued for several more decades.Westmoreland Town Records, [dates uncertain]. 2 rolls. (MG-262)
The Connecticut Historical Society has changed their catalog format so it is a bit different to go and find the records. They are very helpful so if you get stuck just ask. I had the best time at this archive for researching and I am indebted to them. Here are some links that might help if you are curious:
Main website: https://chs.org/
Some catalog possibilities:
The Susquehannah Collection:
Another archive that you will find information about the Wyoming Valley and the area is the Luzerne County Historical Society in Wilkes-Barre (formerly the Wyoming Historical and Geological Society). I will discuss this archive in a future post. They have Westmoreland Records on two film rolls, which you can probably find elsewhere, like the rolls listed for the Pennsyvlania Archives above.