The Connellsville Area Historical Society will sponsor the 16th reenactment of the historic crossing of the Youghiogheny River at Stewart's Crossings (Connellsville). British, French, Colonial and Native American reenactors were invited to participate in the festivities. Volunteers are always welcome.
France and Great Britain were the two European super powers of the mid 1700s. Both countries wanted to control as much land in the world as possible. In North America, the French controlled Canada and the British were located in the 13 colonies along the Atlantic coast.
In 1753, this area along the Youghiogheny River was inhabited by native Americans of the Iroquois, Delaware and Kanhawhas tribes. The river made the area particularly attractive to French trappers trading for furs with the Indians. The English, who had been content to stay east of the Appalachians prior to the 1750s, were now looking for fresh, cheaper land and fur trade also.
The French attempted to control the rivers and lakes of the interior of North America because they served as natural highways for their fur trade with the natives.
Our area, here in the Ohio Valley, was claimed by several colonies, Virginia being the most dominant. In an attempt to determine French involvement in the Ohio Valley, Governor Dinwiddie of Virginia sent Major George Washington to find the French and deliver a message for them to leave this British land. Along with local pioneer Christopher Gist, Washington traveled through our area in 1753-1754. Washington returned to the area in the spring and summer of 1754, where the incident at Jumonville precipitated the French and Indian War.
To drive the French out of the Ohio Valley, a British army under the command of Major General Edward Braddock achieved "mission impossible" and brought a large force of British and colonial troops along with artillery and wagons through the wilderness.
On the way to Fort Duquesne, at the forks of the Ohio River, Braddock's army crossed the Youghiogheny River at Stewart's Crossings (Connellsville) on June 29-30, 1755. The army spent two days here in Connellsville, and on the second day, they baked bread for the last time before the attack on the French. The attack resulted in a major defeat for the British army.