Skip to main content

Benjamin Lightfoot Survey Notebook

 Collection
Identifier: SC MS 0203

This manuscript is a narrative of the locale the line passed through and the detailed surveying coordinates for the alignment of the wagon road. It includes survey data of a road to be built between Pottsville to Shamokin (then an Indian Territory) in 18th century. It also contains detailed information on surveyor’s measurements and coordinates; descriptions of the terrain, and insight into frontier Pennsylvania and the interaction between the English settlers, militias and the native people on the Schuylkill and Susquehanna rivers of colonial Pennsylvania.

The manuscript is 10.5 cm x 16 cm x .5 cm tan leather cover bound with black tape containing 24 pages. The note book is unpaged with loose, stained pages with faint blue lines. The text is written in black ink. Fifteen pages contain text and nine are blank.

Dates

  • 1759-1860
  • 1759, 1770, 1850, 1860

Creator

Language of Materials

Entries are written in English

Physical Description

1 volume, .2 linear feet

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Collection housed remotely. Users need to contact 24 hours in advance.

Extent

1 volume

Overview

This manuscript notebook includes survey data of a road to be built between Pottsville to Shamokin (then an Indian Territory) in 18th century. It also contains detailed information on surveyor’s measurements and coordinates; descriptions of the terrain, and insight into frontier Pennsylvania and the interaction between the English settlers, militias and the native people on the Schuylkill and Susquehanna rivers of colonial Pennsylvania.

Biographical / Historical

This booklet is attributed to Benjamin Lightfoot (1726-1777), a member of the Lightfoot Family of surveyors for the Province of Pennsylvania. His father, Samuel Lightfoot was born in Northern Ireland, a son of Thomas (1646-?) and Sarah (died 1716) Lightfoot who had five children, three daughters and two sons: Samuel (1701-1777) and Jacob (1706-1774), an uncle to Benjamin. Being followers of the Quaker religion, the Lightfoots began to immigrate to Pennsylvania at the beginning of the eighteenth century in pursuit of religious freedom most settling in Chester County. Samuel Lightfoot started a family in 1725 in union with Mary Head (died 1732) and began a career as a deputy surveyor during the height of land settlement in the Province of Pennsylvania. He is responsible for mapping much of the land in Lancaster and Chester Counties. Samuel’s sons, Benjamin (1726-1777) and Thomas (1728-1793) followed their father in this endeavor. The Lightfoot Family served the province of Pennsylvania as surveyors for several generations. Other descendents of the Lightfoot family who surveyed lands in Pennsylvania were Thomas (1742-1821), Thomas Jr. (1779-1817), Benjamin Head (1787-1824), Jacob (1793-1857), and Jesse Lightfoot (1818-1894) , son of Jacob (1793-1857), grandson of Thomas (1742-1821), a great grandson of Jacob Lightfoot, uncle of Benjamin (1726-1777). Benjamin supplemented his surveying career with commerce and was known to have traded in items such as tea kettles, Irish linens, silks and cotton goods. In addition to surveys that he completed with his father, Benjamin was also involved in land speculation with Edward Biddle of Philadelphia and James Starr of Reading. Their business helped outline the boundaries of Berks County. Because of the crucial role they played in this endeavor, Benjamin was made sheriff of Berks County in 1752 to 1754. Benjamin Lightfoot did surveys for Conrad Weiser, a Pennsylvania German pioneer, interpreter and diplomat for the Indians on the Pennsylvania and New York frontier. Benjamin was involved in the laying of roads in Lancaster and Berks Counties. In 1759, he was appointed to make a survey for a route from Reading to Shamokin. Shamokin was the Indian name for the Fort August area (now Sunbury) on the Pennsylvania frontier. Benjamin mentions in the field notes meeting his uncle, Jacob (1706-1774). Jesse Lightfoot (1818-1894) through a John F. Watson donated in 1850 to the Historical Society of Pennsylvania the original manuscript of Benjamin’s field notes from 1759. Jesse was a great grandson of Jacob (1706-1774), the uncle mentioned by Benjamin. Jesse was a son of Jacob (1793-1857) and Elizabeth Willits. Jacob (1793-1857) was a son of Thomas (1742-1821) who was a son of Jacob (1706-1774) who was uncle to Benjamin Lightfoot (1726-1777). In a statement in the field notes, apparently it was Francis Yarnell who in 1770 was assigned to continue a survey of a road to Fort Augusta (Shamokin) at the forks of the Susquehanna. Fort Augusta, built in 1756, was the colony of Pennsylvania’s stronghold on the upper Susquehanna River from the days of the French and Indian War to the close of the American Revolution. The site is now within the city of Sunbury. Fort Augusta was the largest of the Provincial forts and part of the British defense against raids from French and Indians during the French and Indian War. Also mentioned in the narrative is Teedyusking /Teedyscung (1700-1763), king of the Lenni Lenape or Delaware Indians and several other Indians who became involved with the road survey.

Arrangement

The entries in the notebook are in date order.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated to the Library by Professor Lawrence Whitcomb, November 2, 1955

Accruals

No additions anticipated.

Related Materials

Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Collection 371, Lightfoot Family Papers 1726-1993

Physical Description

1 volume, .2 linear feet
Title
Benjamin Lightfoot Survey Notebook
Status
completed
Author
William Ying
Date
April 4, 2011
Language of description
English

Revision Statements

  • finding aid revision date not supplied: March 2011 -- Finding aid created.April 4, 2011 -- Finding aid completed.>February 26, 2013 -- Finding aid revised.February 26, 2013 -- EAD created.

Repository Details

Part of the Lehigh University Special Collections Repository

Contact:
Lehigh University
Linderman Library
30 Library Drive
Bethlehem PA 18045 USA
610-758-4506
610-758-6091 (Fax)