Fort Everett left the scene in the 1750's after the French and Indian War. After approximately 245 years it has returned to be enjoyed as a reminder to the pioneers who settled our country. If you have not seen the latest version, stop by Ontelaunee Park and visit your heritage. Don't worry, the Indians are friendly today, it's the young vandals we are troubled by.
Thanks to Karen Rex, we have an excellent overview of the Forts history. The following is a reprise of her article written for Lynn-Heidelberg Historical Society in 2000. It took Ben Franklin's crew approximately 7 days to build the Fort. It took us, 7 plus years. How's that for progress? Although we don't have sketches or pictures of the Fort, we feel this reconstruction represents a very close replica of what would have existed 245 years ago. Enjoy the pioneer village at Ontelaunee Park and use it to learn and appreciate our heritage.
The earliest settlers probably arrived in the 1730's. The earliest official warrant seems to the 24 February 1737. But a warrant does not indicate the date a person settled. Many times settlers had occupied land as long as ten years before they officially took out a warrant. The early settlers were mostly of German, Swiss, Dutch, Irish, English and Scotch descent. They came from all walks of life but many were farmers in search of land to start new "plantations." Some had just recently sailed the ocean to the new world and others, whose families may have been in America as long as 50 to 100 years, came from New Jersey, New York, and New England. But everyone had a common goal—survival and the building of a new nation for their children, free of religious persecution. Unfortunately for the settlers in Lynn, they surrounded a major Indian trail that crossed their lands. In 1750, Lynn was the "Frontier of America." The cowboy and Indian stories of the Wild, Wild West came almost 100 years later. One must also understand what was happening between the British and the French by 1750. Possession of the New World was the primary reason for many early troubles. Religion and the many sects that arrived also played a major part in history. By the early 1750's, the native American Indians were stirred mostly in part by the French and the revolts began. Settlers were scalped, murdered, and burned. Their properties were destroyed. Our ancestors stood ground and were determined to save their new homeland. A few left and took refuge in places like Bethlehem, only to return when the troubles had ceased. But most remained and sought the help of others in higher places. It must be mentioned that the area completely lacked any sort of formal organization.
There were no school buildings, the earliest churches were just being organized. County and township governments were basically still thoughts, just becoming reality. The earliest settlers had only themselves and their neighbors to lean on. Now their very existence is being attacked by the antive Indians and their time is spent in securing protection and they are not able to tend to their crops and livestock which is their only source of food.
On 14 January 1756, Benjamin Franklin wrote, "To secure Lynn and Heidelberg Township, whose inhabitants were just on the Wing, I took Trexler's company into Pay, and I commission'd Wetterholt, who commanded a Watch of 44 men before in the Pay of the Province, ordering him to complete his Company."
This is thought to be the initiation of the local forts, namely Fort Franklin on the north side of the mountain, Fort Allen new Lehighton, and Fort Everett in Lynn. By 1755, the settlers dead by the hands of the Indians in this area had reached the approximately 50 recorded murders. When you consider the lack of records found for those years, it is probably safe to say that the numbers were much higher. The settlers needed help and protection. What resulted was probably more a "house of refuge" than a complete military installation. Fort Evertt was constructed on the land of John Everett adjacent to the present day Lynn Township Building on Route 143 near Lynnport. It is described in "Frontier Forts of Pennsylvania" as follows:
"It stood in what is now a level, ploughed field, 150 feet from the house of M.K. Henry to the East, and about 250 feet from the creek to the West. A spring marks the position of what was then a well of water. It was a blockhouse, about 25 feet by 30 feet. It stood on the property of John Everett. Wheter, however, the building was the house of Mr. Everett, or whether the fort was a separate building erected on his place, it is difficult to say. From what I could learn I am inclined to believe that it was a separate building, erected as a house of refuge and defense, consisting of a log house surrounded by the regulation stockade."
The writings of Benjamin Franklin are very detailed concerning the construction of Fort Allen near Lehighton. He described the size of the fort, the stockade and the size of the logs used in construction. It is apparent that much of the lumber and timber for the project was secured through Trucker's (William "Trockener" "Tucker" Kern) Saw Mill, located on the Trout Creek in Heidelberg Township. The mill was actually garrisoned by soldiers so that work could continue and the fort was built in 7 days, despite much rainy weather. As soon as Fort Allen is complete, mention is made by Franklin of others. Reference in made to Lynn, to the Allemaengel, to the land of John Eberts, Esq. and this is thought to be the beginning of Fort Everett. A construction date of early 1756 seems reasonable. It is assumed that the logs and timber for construction most likely came once again from Trucker's and that the construction time was probably as short as that of Fort Allen. Settlers were being persecuted and murdered by Indians, time was of the essence.
The forts were not always garrisoned with troops of soldiers. It is apparent that at times they were unmanned and used mainly as a place of refuge for the settlers. There are records of troops moving from one location to another and the manpower and funding is not available to have all forts staffed at all times. Nicholas and Jacob Wetterholt, two recent German immigrants often referred to as Captain, Lieutenant or just Wetterholt, seem to be the tow main military figures ever present in fort records. Captain Charles (Carl) Volck is another found often. There men are leading garrisons of 20 to 40 men at a time and they appear to be constantly on the move following reports of Indian troubles. They are moving as far west as the Schuylkill, as for east as the Delaware, they appear on the north side of the mountain and then they are on the south again. It must be remembered that in 1750, they are most probably walking. Although horses are probably available in small quantity, there is very little mention of them anywhere. The conditions are poor at Fort Franklin on the north side of the mountain and more and more settlers are heading south for protections. The Indian skirmishes are increasing and on May 4, 1757, a petition is drawn up seeking more protections from the Provincial government. It is signed by 41 men, some of the signatures barely legible. It is thought by some to possibly include the entire adult male population of the area in 1757 and is a valuable historical document. The petition seems to have worked as James Burd is recorded as visiting the forts and in many cases ordering more soldiers and supplies to various locations.
It appears that the life of Fort Everett is probably short lived as the Indian troubles have all but subsided by 1761 or 1762. There are a few isolated skirmishes later, but for the most part, the settlers are now able to return to their daily tasks of establishing their "plantations," and creating for us the life that we know today. There are able to return to their daily tasks in safety. More time is now spent on the organization of churches, governments, the buildings of roads and the first traces of bridges. The fort deteriorated and the logs were "ploughed under" as the years passed. The need for protections of such an immediate nature has not been needed locally in over 240 years.