Sunday, August 19, 2012

An Intact pre-Revolutionary War Fort in the Middle of Morgantown

As mentioned previously in this blog (see the Iroquois Indians were a major power in what is now West Virginia before and during the French and Indian War. After the Treaty of Paris at the end of the Seven Years War in Europe, the British gained from France rights to all land east of the Mississippi River. However, conflicts remained with the Native Americans, resulting in a series of treaties to adjust claims and boundary lines.

In accordance with previous treaties, Native Americans, specifically the Shawnee and Mingo tribes, were using land around Monongalia County in West Virginia to hunt and fish. Hostilities arose with settlers in the area. Dunmore’s War, named for the governor of Virginia, was fought in 1774, to hopefully end these hostilities. The battle of Point Pleasant brought the end to this war, and the boundary line between settlers and Indians was established at the Ohio River.

It was during this time period that an immigrant from Holland, Michael Kern arrived in Morgantown, WV, an area covered with virgin chestnut tree growth. This is where Michael built his log cabin (later described as Kern’s fort) out of hand hewn logs. The structure survives to this day, where you can see his ax marks on the timbers and the gun ports in the wall. The gun ports were used to balance muskets, needed to protect the inhabitants from attacks. When Dunmore’s War started, Michael surrounded the cabin with a stockade, thus establishing the fort. The fort was important throughout the Revolutionary War period until at least 1791 when the last Indian raid in the area occurred.

Kern’s Fort has gained recent interest by archaeologists and work has taken place to non-invasively study the grounds. Artifacts have been recovered which are available for public viewing at the Morgantown History Museum.

Kern’s Fort is located at the intersection of Dewey and Arch Streets in Morgantown, WV at the coordinates of: 39° 37′ 31″ N, 79° 56′ 59″ W.

Here’s a link if you’re interested in learning more.

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