1894 Lead Mine Stories

Observations of a man 113 years after the closing of Fort Roberdeau. The papers he refers to are similar to ones that are known of. But take this with a grain of salt. They are his suppositions about things he saw.

August 26, 1894 Letter from John H. Keatley,
Marshalltown Ohio.
About seven miles west of Union Furnace on the
Pennsylvania Railroad, in Sinking Valley, are the
remains of old Fort Roberdeau, built during the
Revolutionary War, by General Roberdeau, under
authority of the Continental Congress, In 1866,
I had a set of the Secret Journal of that Congress
and found the resolution authorizing the building
of the Fort for the protection of the lead miners
who were mining lead for the use of Revolutionary
forces, The lead was carried down the Juniata
River in canoes, In 1880, I was at the site of the
Fort where a part of the brick powder magazine .. -as
still standing, on the farm once owned by Frederick
Ramey, and almost in front of one of the houses in
a field, I brought one of the bricks of the vault
west with me, It is in the upper end of the valley,
and nearby is quite a quantity of lead or zinc
slag from the melting furnace,

September 9, 1894 Letter to the Editor of Spirit 76 Magazine.
I have not the volume by me, but soon after my
return from the army in 1865, an odd volume of the Secret Journals of the Continental Congress fell into my hands, and reading most of its contents, I found one, I think, of 1777, “in the form of a resolution, instructing a General Roberdeaux, to proceed to the head of the Juniata River in Pennsylvania, and there establish a fort for the protection of the lead-miners in that region, and also to send all lead there mined down the. river for the use of the Continental army. In 1859 and 1880, again when I visited the spot at the upper end of the narrow valley, I inspected the remains of an old furnace, in the gulch of a small stream, which had been used in the smelting of lead, as was evidenced by the remains of some foundation walls, and a great quantity of ore slag, in a great heap of ancient date. Less than a mile from that point are the remains of a brick magazine, the arch in great part standing, in September, 1880. The brick of this arch were very hard, and·, wholly unlike any brick made during the past forty years in that section. The brick arch is about the level of the soil and from appearance could not be used for any :purpose except a
powder magazine.

Membership application of John H, Kea·t1ey to the
National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution, lowa Society, filed December 18, 1893 and approved Mar 8, 1894

Thomas Lynch Montgomery, Frontier Forts of Pennsylvania .
(Harisburg, PA, Wm, Stanley Ray, 1916), p, 503

Letter to the editor, “Lead Mines of Sinking Valley,”
of the Spirit of 76, dated Marshalltown, Iowa

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