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Fort John Steel

Reverend Steel Stockades His Church


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At Outbreak Of Indian Hostilities, Colonists Find A Place Of Refuge

Cumberland County Pennsylvania

Fort Steel “This fort was erected in the year 1755. The site is on the south side of the east branch of the Conococheague creek, being about twenty miles north from Mason and Dixon’s line.  It was known in frontier times as Rev. Steel’s fort.  It was situated at the point where the Presbyterian White church now stands, about five miles south of Fort Loudon and three miles east of Mercersburg.  It was a place of notoriety during the Indian wars.  It was erected shortly after Braddock’s defeat and during the Indian invasion which occurred in the fall of that year.  With regard to the appellation, Rev. Steel’s Fort, Mr.

Chambers state, “The first fort I have any information of in the Conococheague settlement is this one; this settlement composed nearly the whole of Franklin county. This was at John Steel’s meeting house, which was surrounded by a rude stockade fort in 1755.”


A stockaded log meetinghouse/church (1738) located three miles east ofMercersburg along the West Branch of Conococheague Creek.  A stone monument is located at the cemetery at Church Hill Road and Steele Ave.  [Excerpt from Memories of Carlisle’s Old Graveyard]  Nearby is an inconspicuous stone, that of the fighting parson, “Rev. John Steel, Minister of the Gospel, who died at Carlisle August 1779.” This Rev. John Steel was a commissioned captain. He always went into the pulpit to fight either for body orfor soul. The muskets were stacked in front of the pulpit. It is said, in the midst of service one day, word was brought of an Indian attack nearby.  Pronouncing the benediction, he led his men; they pursued the Indians, rescued the prisoners, and returned for another service.  

After the signing of the Declaration of Independence, July 1776, the company in the lead to leave Carlisle was that in the command of the Rev. Captain John Steel.” [end of excerpt]  [French and Indian War 1754-1863]

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