The Encyclopedia Americana (1920)/Wyoming Valley

WYOMING VALLEY, a crescent-shaped valley in Luzerne County, Pa., traversed by the northern branch of the Susquehanna River; length, 21 miles. It is a fertile alluvial plain, with rich deposits of anthracite coal, and is noted for its beautiful scenery. The valley was claimed by the colony of Connecticut as early as 1753 and was first settled by people from Connecticut; the ensuing dispute between Pennsylvania and Connecticut over this territory is known as the “Pennamite and Yankee war,”and was not finally settled till after the Revolutionary War. (See Pennsylvania; Boundary Controversies). In 1782 a commission appointed by Congress decided in favor of Pennsylvania; an attempt was made to drive out the Connecticut settlers which led to a renewal of the war; but in 1788 Pennsylvania confirmed the titles of all actual settlers to their land, and all controversy was ended by 1800. During the Revolutionary War a large proportion of the men of the Wyoming Valley joined the Continental army; but a number of Tories were living in the valley; and in 1778, when they were joined by British troops and Indian allies, an attack was made upon the settlers who had taken refuge in Forty Fort, near Wilkes-Barre. The settlers did not number over 400, chiefly boys and old men; the British force, including the 700 Indians, was about 1,100. After a desperate battle fought on the 3d of July 1778 the settlers were completely defeated, about two-thirds being killed. They were forced to capitulate, and after the surrender many of the prisoners were tortured and killed by the Indians. The greater part of the inhahitants of the valley were compelled to flee to other settlements and endured great hardships. Consult Miner, ‘History of Wyoming’ (1845); Stone, ‘Poetry and History of Wyoming’ (1844); Peck, ‘Wyoming: its History and Incidents’ (1858); Smith, ‘Story of Wyoming Valley’ (Kingston, Pa., 1906).