Killbuck or Smoky Island

"This was a small island, containing some fifteen to twenty acres, situated at the confluence fo the Allegheny and Monongeahela Rivers, known to the early settlers by the above name. It was reserved from the sale of  state property, and permitted to remain in the nominal possession of Henry Killbuck, the elder, (an Indian Chief,) during his life time, by the public authorities. Killbuck derived a small rent in corn, whilst he lived, from a tenant by the name of Rody McKinney. After the death of old Killbuck, an applicant for a warrant and survey was taken out in the name of Henry Killbuck, presumed to be his son, but never prosecuted for a patent, and none has ever been issued. The Island, from the earliest knowledge of any now living, was wasting away by the action of the rivers, and many years ago disappeared altogether. The consequence of its washing away has been the accretion of a regular deposit along the shore on the Allegheny side, which, as a matter of course as well as of law, enures to the benefit of the street called Bank Lane, as it pursues the meanders of the river.

By the charter of 1840, all the public ground to which the state had any claim was granted to the City of Allegheny; and as her line runs to the middle of the Ohio and Allegheny rivers, these rivers haven taken the place of the island, no right of property thereto, or in any portion of the natural and unobstructed channel can by any possibility exist, any patent, survey of other pretension to the title to the contrary, notwithstanding. It were needless to add that no one could be permitted to occupy or to build up any embankment or other construction to the free egress of the water at the head of the Ohio, thereby obstructing the passage of the water out of the Allegheny, already removed to its smallest compass compatable with the safety of the cities in seasons of high water. We may add however, that measures have been taken to enter a caveat against the issuing of any patent for this posthumous island.

This brief notice, of this bygone subject has been thought appropriate at this moment, learning that a company of speculators have it in contemplation to make a movement for its purchase, and to warn them, that any attempt at raising the island from the grave in which the operations of nature, (as it were for the very safety of the cities) has buried it, will meet the most determined resistance."

The Pittsburgh Daily Gazette

Pittsburgh Pa. Sept. 14, 1849. P. 2 Col.3.


35 years earlier,
this Note appeared in The Navigator:

"The Allegheny is about 400 yards wide at its mouth, and when Smoky island, lying to the N. W. is washed away, it will be nearer eight.—It runs through an emmense tract of country, much of it rough and hilly land, the greater part of which is yet to be settled.This river as well as the Ohio, are known and called by the name of Allegheny river by the Seneca, and other tribes of the Six Nations of Indians, from its head waters until it enters the Mississippi."

Zadok Cramer, writing in the
Eight Edition of The Navigator.
Published in 1814. Page 22.


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