Peter Neighswonger

Submitted by Mark Nighswonger.

From Hildreth's "Pioneer History" - pages 330-331.

Names of families at "the point" (Marietta)

"Peter Nyghswonger, wife, and two children. Married Jane Kerr, the sister of Hamilton. He was of German (Swiss) descent, and born in Frederick county Virginia. During the Revolutionary war himself and John, an older brother, came over the mountains, and lived in Wheeling, following the occupation of hunting. Peter was a stout built man, over six feet high, very muscular, and erect in his movements. Dark skin and hair, with coal black eyes; high cheek bones, with an immense roman nose knocked a little to one side, by some unlucky blow received in his amusements at fisty-cuffs, at which every hunter and back woodsman was expected to be proficient. He was coarse and rough in his address, but possessed a kind heart. The costume worn by rangers, to which class Peter belonged, was similar to that of Indians, as being better adapted to a woodsman's life. To this he added the painting of the face, to make the resemblance more striking, when out on a tour of duty. His courage was that of a cool, deliberate kind that never fails in the hour of peril.

While he was living at Wheeling, the Indians made their last attack on that place, in great force. During the midst of the siege a large palisade gave way, and greatly elated the Indians, as it afforded an opening by which they could enter, or fire at their enemies within. Peter volunteered to go out and set it up, while those inside secured it with a chain. This service he performed, amidst a shower of bullets from the Indians, without a single wound, and returned through the sally gate to the admiration of the savages, and with the plaudits of his companions. After the war he settled at "Old Town bottom," a little below Buffington's island. As the game became scarce he moved further west on to the frontiers, where he could pursue his favorite vocation of hunting, unmolested by neighbors. His house stood on the West side of the street near the Muskingum, but his range of duty lay on the fort Harmer side, where he was employed as a spy, usually in the company of John Warth."

After establishing the settlement in Marietta, the relative safety of the region prompted a rapid immigration of green horns seeking new land. This also marked the exodus of many of the Ranger families down river to Gallia and Meigs counties. Peter settled into farming at what is now Portland near the mouth of Town Creek. The Kerr and Warth families settled nearby. As did his cousin Col. John. Peter planted over 200 peach trees. He built a distillery and made whiskey and peach brandy. Around 1820, fed up with the rapid influx of civilization, Peter and his children floated down the Ohio to Gallatin county Illinois. Peter lived out the remainder of his life there near Shawneetown, living until the ripe old age of 79.


In the name of God, Amen
I Peter Neighswonger of the county of Gallatin and State of Illinois, being weak in body but sound in mind and memory, do make, ordain and establish this to be my last will and testament hereby revoking all others and do hereby appoint my son Jefferson Neighswonger to be the executor of this my last will and testament it is my will that all of my just debts be paid and after the payment as all of my just debts and funeral expenses, I do hereby give to my lawful and beloved wife, Jane Neighswonger all of my household and kitchen furniture during her natural life them for her to dispose at that property as she thinks proper the balance of my property consisting of cattle hogs and sheep of that property I give and bequeath to my son Jefferson Neighswonger. All of my cattle except three cows described two three year old red heifer and one three year old heifer, brindled with a white face which I give to my wife, I also give and bequeath to my beloved wife all of flock of sheep. My will is that my son Jefferson my sole executor shall pay unto the balance of my sons and daughters the following sums of money(viz.) to my son Hamilton the sum of two dollars, to my son Reason the sum of two dollars, to my daughter Clary, the sum of two dollars, to my daughter Rebecca the sum of two dollars, to my daughter Sopha the sum of two dollars, to my daughter Malinda the sum of two dollars. It is my will for the above mentioned sums of money be paid when called for the before mentioned property I give and bequeath according to the statements to my children and their heirs forever. In testimony where of I have here unto set my hand and affixed my seal this 17th day of September in the year of our lord One thousand Eight hundred and Thirty Four.

Signed and acknowledged before us
Robert Patton
Moses Thompson
Peter Neighswonger ( Seal)
Signed by his request

State of Illinois Gallatin County(?)
The last will and testament of Peter Neighswonger is this day exhibited before the undersigned judge of probate by Jefferson Neighswonger, and Moses Thompson and Robert Patton( subsequently witnessed) them to who being first duly sworn dispose that they believe this will to be their last will and testament of Peter Neighswonger that they signed the same as witnesses at the request of the testator and in presence of each other, and that they believe that he (seemed and was was of) sound and disposing mind at the time sworn to this 12th day of Nov 1834.

Leonard White
Judge Probate
Proven, approved and admitted to record this 12th day of November A.D. 1834
Leo White
Judge Probate


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