The Death of Philip Goss IV, 1778 or 1780: What Happened?

Philip Goss IV died sometime between 1778 and 1780. His son Nathaniel Goss was granted letters of Administration in 1780.  I will share Philip’s estate in a future post. In this post, I want to examine the accounts of Philip’s death.

There is a lot of controversy about Philip’s death. Most of the history books state that he was killed several months after the Wyoming Massacre near Wapwallopen and left to die on the shores of the Susquehanna River.  Others believe it was David Goss, son of Philip Goss IV.  The lack of good information and sources makes it difficult to know for sure.

The Historical books of the location: a study: 

Following is a listing of history books, about the area, that mention the death of Goss, starting with a very early 1842 publication. I have tried to determine where this information originally came from and it is possible it was John Franklin, who knew the Goss family because he signed deeds and gave bond on Philip’s estate.  Maybe it was John Jenkins an officer of the Westmorland troops. Both these men, and others, could have been the original source, but, I have yet to figure it out for sure.

  1. Historical Collections from official records files, etc. Part Sustained by Connecticut during the War of the Revolution, compiled by Royal R. Hinman, 1842.

Page 156 – Nov. 7, John Perkins was killed on the lower end of Shawney flats; Captains Carr and Goss were killed. 

  2. History of Wyoming in a series of Letters from Charles Miner to his son William Penn Miner, 1845. Many historians refer back to Mr. Miner’s account and it almost seems like they just copied it forward, while Hinman in source 1 is vague about the Goss who was killed.

Philip Goss appears in Letter XVIII starting on page 229. On page 246 Mr. Miner writes

November 9th – Captain Carr and Philip Goss, in attempting to fly in a canoe, were shot below Wapwallopen, and left; the latter dead, the other dying on the shore.” NOTE: If this is Captain Carr, it is probably Richard Carr, Captain of the Up the River company of the 24th Regiment. I have seen the name “Daniel Carr.”

On page 486 Under Recapitulation – List of Persons murdered by Savages at Westmoreland, other than those who fell the day of the battle.

Oct. 2. Philip Goss and Capt. Carr, below Beach’s.” 

Mr. Miner has either made a mistake in his book or is confused as to the actual date of the death of Carr and Goss.  He has November 9th in his first statement and Oct. 2 in the next.

   3. Annals of Luzerne County, A Record of Interesting Events, Traditions and Anecdotes from the First Settlement in Wyoming Valley to 1866, by Stewart Pearce, 1866.

Page 140 November 9th, Captain Carr and Philip Goss were shot in a canoe, below Wapwallopen Creek, and about the same time….

4. History of Luzerne, Lackawanna, and Wyoming Counties, PA etc. by W.W. Munsell & Co., 1880.

Page 363 – In former accounts of Indian tragedies it is reported that Philip Goss was killed near Wapwallopen by the Indians. In conversations with the Goss family, now living in Fairmount, it was learned that it was David Goss instead of Philip who was so killed, and they authorize this correction. 

  5. The History of Wilkes-Barre Vol. II page 1107 and page 999, published 1909.

On November 9th Capt. Robert Carr and Philip Goss were surprised by Indians near Wapwallopen. While attempting to escape in their canoe, both men were killed. 

Page 999 in the footnotes under Nathaniel Goss in the last paragraph:

Philip Goss, Sr., died in Huntingdon in the latter part of 1779, and letters of administration upon his estate were granted to Nathaniel Goss by the Probate Court of Wesmoreland January 18, 1780 – Capt. John Franklin being surety on a bond of L1,000.

This probably means that even Mr. Harvey was having trouble determining when Philip Goss IV died.

6. Pioneer & Patriot Families of Bradford Co., PA 1770-1800, Vol. I, Clement F. Heverly, 1913, at for searching and Google Books.

Captain Robert Carr page 105 – one of the original proprietors of Springfield, came to Wyalusing in 1775. Before his advent here he had been a sea captain; also interested in different mill properties from Wyoming to Wyalusing. In May, 1776, he was chosen captain of the 9th, or Up River Company, of the 24th Connecticut Militia. It appears, however, that the members of this company were so widely scattered, that as an organization they were never brought together for active field service. In 1777, Captain Carr retired to Wyoming. On the 9th of November, 1778, while in company with David Goss, below Wapwalopen, they were attacked by a band of Indians; Carr was shot through the thigh, tomahawked and scalped. Goss was also killed. Carr evidently  had never married. 

  7.  The Indian Wars of Pennsylvania etc., by C. Hale Sipe, Telegraph Press, 1929.

Page 563 – November 9th, Captain Carr and Philip Goss, while attempting to make their escape in a canoe, were shot below Wapwallopen, the former killed outright and the latter left dying on the shore.

  8. History of the Huntington Valley, Reprinted in the Mt. Ecoho Newspaper, March 11, 1949 to Sept. 30, 1949, Mrs. M. L. T. Hartman (Margaret Trescott Hartman). She writes:

David Goss, an unmarried son of Philip Goss, Sr. was murdered by Indians on the east side of the river; below Shickshinny.  No date is given

9.  Paul H. Goss in his Goss Family Manuscript tried hard to figure out just what happened to Philip Goss IV at the end of his life. Paul found many of the above sources that I mention. He also found a copy of Jenkin’s journal:“War of American Revolution, Westmoreland fellow-citizens at Wyoming.” Recapitulations from the manuscript Journal kept by Col. John Jenkins. “—–Capt. Carr and GOSS were killed.  Dated November 7, 1778”  Unfortunately I don’t know where Paul found this source. There is a copy online that might be only a portion of the journal covering the Campaign of Gen. Sullivan in 1779. It is not really clear if that is all of the journal or a portion:

Paul goes on to say the following even questioning Mr. Harvey:

It should be remembered that Colonel John Jenkins was the official surveyor for the Connecticut-Susquehanna Company, and above all other persons was well acquainted with our Philip GOSS, Sr. (4th).  His official entry is not to be questioned.  He was not the type of man who would have made so grave a mistake as to report the murder or death of Philip GOSS, Sr. (4th) in his official journal had he not known all the facts of the case.  Of course Harvey, the Historian shows that Philip GOSS, Sr. (4th) died in Huntington in the latter part of 1779, but regardless of the claim, and as the case now stands, the writer is inclined to believe that Harvey was mistaken, and therefore lends his support to other historical evidence, which so strongly indicates, that Philip GOSS, Sr. (4th) was murdered by the Indians at or below Wapwallopen Creek, Pennsylvania on November 9, 1778. 

(Note:  Since this item was first written, the writer has had an opportunity to examine one of the original copies of Harvey’s “History of Wilkes-Barre,” and finds that Harvey Says:

“Philip GOSS, Sr. died in Huntington in the latter part of 1779 (?)—“ so that there was some question in Harvey’s mind as to the place and date of his death.) Mp87

Paul knew that David died but felt strongly that both father and son were killed per the following from his manuscript:

He was in all probability David GOSS, killed in the Forty-Fort July 3, 1778, and sometimes confused by descendants of the family with his father, Philip GOSS (4th) who was also killed by the Indians, but below Wapallopen, Pennsylvania November 9, 1778, the same year, pg. 78. 

Source: Goss Family History, by Paul H. Goss, 1940, Family History Library. You can download a copy and review it.


Unfortunately, no gravesite for Philip Goss IV was found in Huntington Twp. or elsewhere in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, by the author of this blog. An intensive search of cemeteries and publications in both the Lucerne County Historical Society in Wilkes-Barre and Northeastern Genealogical Society was done in 2008. A grave site with a tombstone would be helpful in giving us dates of his birth and death. Please be cautious of Find A Grave, the Goss family entries are all messed up at this time with the new format of the website.

When did Philip Goss IV die?

I would like to present a deed dated  June of 1779 that I believe to be Philip Goss IV selling land to his son Nathaniel Goss. Here is a transcription of that deed and it is witnessed by John Franklin, Justice of the Peace.

1779 Deed of Philip Goss to Nathaniel Goss

Jacket – Philip Gofs deed to Nathaniel Gofs Received _____1779 unreadable John Franklin, Clerk

Stamped 17 Cert. Twps. Luzerne

Know All Men by these Prefents that I Philip Gofs of Westmoreland in the County of Westmoreland the State of Connecticut in _____for with in consideration of sum of 100 pounds lawful money of the state in hand paid by Nathaniel Gofs of said Westmoreland to my self satisfaction do give grant bargain sell and forever quit claim unto him the said Nathaniel Gofs his heirs and afsigns forever the one half of a whole Proprietors right in the Susquehannah Purchase which Right Originally belonged to Samuel Goodwin of Hartford in the said State one Right of Sd half Proprietor Right of Land being laid out in said Westmoreland and in that Part called Huntington the first Division Lot being No. 33 Bounded ____ on Undivided lands Northerly on Lands now belonging to sd Nathaniel Gofs and west on a highway Southerly on land belonging to John Franklin of Canaan Said Lot No. 33 being Drawn by said Nathaniel Gofs as may be seen by the Proprietors Records. This with all the Divisions and after Divisions in sd Huntington as well as all the Division and after Divisions in said Purchase which shall belong to the said half Share Right.

To have and to hold the above Granted and Quit Claimed premises with the appurtenances thereunto belonging unto him the said Nathaniel Gofs his heirs and assigns as to his and them ___________of the said Philip Gofs for myself my heirs executors administrators and assigns do warrant and defend against the lawful claim and demands of any person or persons claiming from or under me or my heirs forever. By these presents I have hereunto set my hand and seal this 17 Day of June AD 1779. Signed Philip Goss

In the presence of John Franklin

John Jenkins Jr.

Westmoreland County: June 17 AD 1779 Personally appears Mr. Philip Gofs signer of the above instrument and acknowledged the same to be his free act and deed. Before me John Franklin Justice of the Peace.

Source: Connecticut Patents 1785-1810 FHL#986849  No Index or information on this film. Luzerne Co. the 17th Cert Twps. – Huntington in Westmoreland Co., Litchfield Colony of Connecticut etc.

In summary what happened: Who died in 1778? Was it Philip Goss IV or his son David Goss who died in 1778:

  1.  I would say that the history books listed above and in order of publication date seem to just repeat the story that Capt. Carr and Goss died either November 9th or October 2, 1778. Most state November 9th. Unfortunately, we can not verify these statements because no sources are given in any of these books.
    1. The administration of the estate for Philip Goss IV was not done till January of 1780. This means that a full two years passed after the event listed in the history books. In my experience most orders of administration are done quickly so that the family can receive their portion of the estate.
    2. The above deed is dated 1779 and deals with the rights of a proprietor deeding land to another, not of just a regular sale of land. Philip Goss IV was a proprietor of the Susquehannah Company.  We would have to consult the official Susquehanna Records to confirm this and more deed research in Westmoreland County records would need to be done.
    3. Is is possible that Philip Goss IV was wounded in 1778 and did not recover? He was 55 years old at that time.
  2. If David Goss died in 1778 then more research needs to be done to confirm this and we find the history books are not that reliable.
    1.  One of the references above does say “The Goss Family now living in Fairmount Twp.” In my opinion this is still vague, why not give the specific name of the family or person that made this statement, then we could determine the reliability of that person.
    2. The publication date is 1881 by W.W. Munsell & Co. and that was at the height of these types of history books that were done in mass for various counties. They are not considered reliable by genealogists.
    3. The families that might have been involved were possibly Gearhart, Ransom, Couglin, and Seaward. These would be grandsons and cousins and more than 100 years after the fact. This means that stories and memories fade and get jumbled.
    1. There is no grave site in Huntington Twp. or Luzerne County for David Goss that could be found.  If he died on the shore from exposure that could explain it.
    2. There is no estate filed in Westmoreland County for David Goss that can be found.

At this time, I leave it to you to decide who died when. When I get to preparing my posts about David Goss maybe more information will come to light on this series of events.

Well, in any event, to honor the Goss Family, I visited Wapwallopen in 2008 and stood on a viewpoint above it. I will share that remembrance in the next post.


About BJ MacDonald

Interested in travel, really into genealogy and researching my family history, classic novels and movies, fantasy and science fiction, photography, history and more... Here is a tip. Make sure you are commenting on the blog you were visiting and the post you were interested in. My blogs are listed by hovering over my pictures and clicking. Clicking one of them will take you back to the correct blog. You can try me here:
This entry was posted in David Goss and Anna Slater, Fairmount Twp., Huntington Twp., Nathaniel Goss and his wife Hannah Scott, Philip Goss IV & Mary (Kendall) Goss, Susquehanna River, Trip to Pennsylvania 2008 see Pennsylvania Wandering Blog for more info, Wapwallopen, Wyoming Valley and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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