The early settlements of Columbia County, Pennsylvania include those of the Van Campen, Salmon and Aikman families. Published in 1915, "Historical and Biographical Annals of Columbia and Montour Counties, Pennsylvania," details the location of their homesteads and their struggles as pioneering settlers of the region.

 

Historical and Biographical Annals
of
Columbia and Montour Counties
Pennsylvania
Volume I

Chicago
J. H. Beers & Co.
1915

CHAPTER XXI - CENTRE TOWNSHIP

This township was formed in 1844 from portions of Briarcreek and Bloom townships. Two distinct ranges of hills, extending in a direction parallel with the Susquehanna, diversify the surface of the land. A narrow, rugged valley separates Lee mountain from the Summer hills, and between these and Lime Ridge is one of the most fertile valleys in the county, in which the west branch of Briar creek takes its rise. South of the ridge the land slopes gradually to the river.

This region was among those sections first settled in Columbia county. Here on the west branch of Briar creek the VanCampen, Salmon and Aikman families built their homes and laid out their farms, only to be subsequently involved in the devastation which fell upon the flourishing colony at Wyoming, in the year of the terrible massacre. Alexander Aikman emigrated from New Jersey in 1777 and built a cabin on the bank of the run now known as Cabin run. He spent the summer here, but in the autumn returned to New Jersey, fearing the Indians. This was a wise move, for in the years intervening between his return in 1781 the savages burned his cabin and committed many outrages upon the unfortunate settlers who had remained. After Aikman's return with his family in 1781 he rebuilt his home and became a permanent homesteader. His descendants still live at and near the old site of his house. One of them, John H. Aikman, has a charming home almost on the site of the first cabin. The silvery spring which afforded unfailing refreshment to his ancestor still flows below the house.

Moses VanCampen, who had arrived a short time after the first visit of Aikman in 1777, was driven from his cabin in the following year and the savages burned it, running off all his stock. After spending some time in the refuge of Fort Wheeler Moses VanCampen, his father, a younger brother, an uncle, and the latter's son, about twelve years old, together with a hunter, Peter Pence, started for their old location, expecting to remain and rebuild the cabins unmolested. Unfortunately for them a party of Indians and Tories had moved down from the Wyoming valley to the neighborhood of Fishing creek. The party arrived at their farms and had been there five days when they were surprised by the Indians, who killed and scalped the father, brother and uncle of VanCampen, and made prisoners of the rest of the party. The Indians then marched up past Huntington creek and over to the headwaters of Hunlock creek. Here they captured Abraham Pike, but after painting the wife sent her and her child away unharmed. After several days the party came to the north branch of the Susquehanna, about fifteen miles below Tioga Point. Here VanCampen and his companions succeeded in surprising and killing their captors and escaped down the river to Northumberland.

Joseph Salmon, who settled on the run at the same time as the VanCampens and Aikmans, was made a prisoner by the Indians at the time they burned their homes in 1778. Salmon was in the field and saw the Indians surrounding the cabin. He hastened there in time to persuade the savages to spare them. In return they agreed to hold Salmon as a hostage. They carried him with them for about a year as a captive, and finally returned him to his home, unscathed.

Sketches Home

“His Christianity was pure,
his views of religion sound
and scriptural, and his fidelity
and integrity of character
were like his own well aimed rifle,
true to the mark.”

 

– Rev. Thomas Aitken

Obituary of Moses Van Campen

"I was nurtured in the school of the rifle and the tomahawk."

 

- Moses Van Campen

“The notes of war are hushed,
The rage of battle o’er,
The warrior is at rest,
He hears our praise no more.
The soldier nobly fought
For all we dearly love,
He fought to gain a heavenly crown,
And now he reigns above.”

 

- Rev. Thomas Aitken
Inscription, Moses Van Campen's tombstone