Pennsylvania: Fort Depuy

Few who visit or stay at the historic Shawnee Inn realize just how historic it is. While most attention is paid to the Inn and its history. like its 1911 opening. events like the 1938 PGA Championship, where Paul Runyan defeated Sam Snead. and its purchase in 1943, by legendary musician Fred Waring, who would attract many renowned celebrities to the hotel (such as Jackie Gleason, Lucille Ball and Dwight D. Eisenhower).

What is hardly mentioned, is that in 1755, this was once the site of a large garrison, built under the supervision of Benjamin Franklin during the French and Indian war. It was in 1725, that while in search of either a lost boy or horse, Nicholas Depuy stumbled upon the serene beauty of the area, and its peaceful inhabitants - the Lenni Lanape and Minsi Indians. He quickly fell in love with the area and its people, and he and his family moved from New Amsterdam (New York).

Nicholas Depuy had bought 3000 acres of land from William Allen by 1733, and built himself a log home where worked planting acres of apple orchards, amongst other crops, and offered other services - including a ferry that would cross the Delaware to New Jersey.

By 1755, the French and Indian war was at an opening. Benjamin Franklin was put in charge of the construction of armed forts along the Delaware and Susquehanna, by Pennsylvania’s Governor Robert Hunter Morris, as a defense against the Indians along the frontier. The Depuy home became the center for the fort, and was surrounded by large stockades and gun towers. It not only could house the solders, but also the towns people that lived around it. It suppled ample protection from the invading French, and their Indian allies.

The fort enclosed quite a large area, including where the Shawnee Inn now stands. It was in 1785 that Samuel Depuy built the stone house you see today. nearly in the same location as the original log home. He named the house “Manwalamink”, after an island in the Delaware River. The Depuy family would remain the owners of the home until 1898. Then, the property was purchased from Robert Depuy by C.C. Worthington, a wealthy inventor from New York who would be responsible for building the Inn and Gatehouse.

The Depuy house remains, but as the maintenance building and administrative offices for the Shawnee Inn, and it is appropriately called the Fort Depuy building. Although, it has been altered drastically over the years. Perhaps this is the reason for its eerie otherworldly activity.

Security guards and other night Employees have had chilling experiences, with the ghost of a women that resides in the Fort Depuy Building. with disembodied footsteps one moment, and full embodied apparitions the next, it makes even the most brazen of employees dread their nightly duties at the old Depuy home.

Perhaps the next time you play a round of golf at the famous Shawnee Golf course, you’ll picture a much older, and less tame time in Pennsylvania’s history.

-GhastlyG :August 2008