REVOLUTIONARY WAR ERA INDENTURE SIGNED BY JOSHUA ELDER, SON OF REV. JOHN ELDER OF PAXTON BOYS CONESTOGA MASSACRE FAME

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Item Code: 141-107

Dated July 20, 1778, the indentured woman agrees to work for a period of 14 years and 8 months and the terms of her indenture include no fornication.  Joshua Elder fought in the Revolutionary War and lived in the Harrisburg, Pennsylvania area.  Interestingly, he was also involved in the slave trade which was still legal in Pennsylvania at that time.  Document is 7 ¾” by 12 ¾” and framed in acid-free matting; frame measures 12 ½” x 17 ¾”.

The Elder family was one of the more prominent families in Dauphin County and Harrisburg. Joshua was the son of the Rev. John Elder, the famous preacher of Paxtang Presbyterian Church. Five members of the family registered slaves in Dauphin County after the passage of the 1780 Gradual Abolition Act. Over the course of several years, Joshua Elder registered twelve slaves and may have owned more. A farmer by profession, he also had a considerable knowledge of the law and served in several public offices during this life. He was highly involved with the Revolution, administering the oath of allegiance to Lancaster County patriots as the appointed Justice of the Peace. He later served as the Burgess of the Borough of Harrisburg in 1810. Joshua also served in the Provincial forces during the French and Indian War.

The Paxton Boys were frontiersman of Scots-Irish origin from along the Susquehanna River in central Pennsylvania who formed a vigilante group to retaliate in 1763 against local American Indians in the aftermath of the French and Indian War and Pontiac's War. They are widely known for murdering 20 Susquehannock in events collectively called the Conestoga Massacre. Following attacks on the Conestoga, in January 1764 about 250 Paxton Boys marched to Philadelphia to present their grievances to the legislature. Met by leaders in Germantown, they agreed to disperse on the promise by Benjamin Franklin that their issues would be considered.  [dg/ld]

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