Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Croghan, George

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CROGHAN, GEORGE (d. 1782), captain or colonel, of Passayunk, Pennsylvania, British crown agent with the Indians, was born in Ireland, educated in Dublin, emigrated to America, and settled in Pennsylvania, where he was engaged as a trader among the Indians as far back as 1746. At this period about three hundred traders, mostly from Pennsylvania, a large proportion of them Irish, used to cross the Alleghanies every year, and descending the Ohio valley with pack-horses or in canoes, traded from one Indian village to another. Some of them roused the jealousy of the French by having, as was alleged, crossed the Mississippi and traded with the remoter tribes. Governor Dinwiddie of Virginia described them generally as ‘abandoned wretches,’ but there were a few men of better stamp among them, and Croghan, who had great influence over his own countrymen, appears to have been one (Parkman). The confidence reposed in him by the Indians, which was largely due to his figurative eloquence in the Indian tongue, led to his employment as government agent. He served in that capacity, with the rank of a captain of provincials, in Braddock's expedition, and in the defence of the north-west frontier in 1756. In November of the latter year he was made deputy-agent with the Pennsylvania and Ohio Indians by Sir William Johnson, who in 1763 sent him to England to communicate with the government respecting an Indian boundary line. During the voyage he was shipwrecked on the coast of France. In 1765, when on his way to pacify the Illinois Indians, he was attacked, wounded, and carried to Vincennes, an old French post on the Wabash, in Indiana, but was speedily released and accomplished his mission. In May 1766 he formed a settlement about four miles from Fort Pitt. He continued to render valuable service in pacifying the Indians and conciliating them to British interests up to the outbreak of the war of independence. Although suspected by the revolutionary authorities, he remained unmolested on his Pennsylvanian farm, and there died in August 1782.

[Most of the above details are given in Drake's Amer. Biog., on the authority of O'Callaghan. Notices of Croghan will be found in Parkman's Conspiracy of Pontiac, 2 vols. (Boston, U.S. 1870), and the same writer's Wolfe and Montcalm (London, 1884), i. 42–203, the footnotes to which indicate further sources of information in England and America. A fragmentary journal of Croghan's was published in Olden Time (Philadelphia), vol. i.; and numerous letters, all relating to Indian affairs, and very illiterate productions, are preserved in the British Museum; those addressed to Colonel Bouguet, 1758–65, in Add. MSS. 21648, 21649, 21651, 21655; to Capt. Gates and Gen. Stanwix, 1759, Add. MS. 21644; and to Gen. Haldimand, 1773, in Add. MS. 21730.]

H. M. C.