Forty Fort, so named for the original forty settlers, was begun
in the summer of 1770. It was located on the river bank near a
"copious spring of water, known as the Great Springs."
differ, but authorities lead us to believe that it enclosed an
acre or more of land. The walls were of logs, and these were set
upright in a trench five feet deep. The logs extended twelve feet
above the surface of the ground and were sharpened at the top.
The joints and crevices of the upright logs were protected by
another tier of logs planted and secured in like manner, thus
forming a double wall. Within the fort, barracks or huts were
built along the walls for shelter for the occupants. The roofs
of these buildings served as a platform from which the garrison
could defend the fort. The space in the center was used as a parade
enclosure was rectangular with gateways at both the north and
the south ends. At the four corners small sentry towers rose a
few feet above the top of the walls. The strong-flowing spring
at the edge of the river, below the structure, supplied the fort
with water. Safe access to the spring was made possible by a sunken
passageway leading from within the fort.
the river end of fort street a stone brought from Kingston mountain
marks the approximate site of this historic place. The marker,
with a bronze plaque, was placed there by the Wyoming Valley Chapter
or the Daughters of the American Revolution October 19, 1900.
streets of the borough of Forty Fort are a constant reminder of
the early history of the community, since many of them are named
for early military men, ministers who were strong leaders in the
valley, or early settlers.
men as men as Colonel Nathan Denison, Major John Durkee, Captain
James Bidlack, Captain Samuel Ransom, and Colonel Zebulon Butler
played important roles in the battles with the Indians. Influential
ministers of that time included the Reverends H. H. Wells, E.
Hazard Snowden, Anning Owen, and Nathan Murray.
streets such as Pettebone, Dilley, Slocum, Yeager, Tripp, and
Shoemaker were named for early families.
Street, named for the huge tree which stood opposite its entrance;
Fort Street, near where the old fort was located; and the tribal
names of Seneca, Cayuga, Oneida, and Mohawk, reminding us of the
part Indians played in the early years of settlement - all have
great historical significance.
Avenue was originally called "The Great Road," and River
Street was named for the river it followed.
religious faith of the early settlers was always a primary factor
in their daily lives. Religious services were frequently and regularly
held, and for a time, a building within the enclosure of old Forty
Fort may have been used as a place of worship, no matter how humble.
people of Kingston Township were nearly all of the state church
of Connecticut, Congregational; and the proprietors in 1799 had
allotted two of the public lots for the minister and the ministry.
By 1806 there were enough people and sufficient financial backing
in the area to consider the erection of a building in which to
hold religious services, it is not probable that any work was
begun prior to April 3, 1807. From what few records exist, it was
probably enclosed during the summer of 1807, and that the interior
was finished and the pews and pulpit placed during the winter
of 1807-08. It was completed and first occupied about June 1,
1808, and it was agreed that it should be a union church.
Fort meeting house is the most interesting building in northeastern
PA and remains practically unchanged during the 172 years that
it has stood. It measures a little more than 50 feet in length
and 41 feet in width. One end faces River Street and the other
cemetery. Originally there was a door at each end, but both were
boarded up many years ago, probably when two stoves were installed.
The main door day faces south and is directly opposite the pulpit.
The original handmade entrance doors are still in use. Facing
the doorway and leading to the pulpit is the center aisle on either
side of which are six enclosed pews. Similar enclosures are built
against the end walls. At each end of the southern wall is a narrow
winding staircase leading to eh gallery which once contained benches.
The gallery is supported by four round columns about ten inches
in diameter. On each of the four exposed corner timbers are crude
brackets upon which candles could be set. The floor boards are
nearly twelve inches wide.
architect and builder was Joseph Hitchcock, a New Haven, Connecticut
man, father of Platt Hitchcock, once Treasurer of Luzerne County.
He laid out and framed the building by what was known among builders
as the square rule, which was thought in those days a wonderful
feat of skill. The pulpit and pews were made by Gideon Underwood,
a skilled cabinet maker.
Over the Years
old meeting house is mainly unchanged inside. None of the interior
woodwork has ever been painted, although it is now dark with age.
Some of the original siding near the ground which had decayed
has been replaced, but from about halfway up, the old wide clapboards
remain. More modern shutters have been placed on the second story
windows. The building has been re-roofed several times.
being neglected for a long time, a generous and public spirited
man, William Swetland, had it painted.
3, 1922, the Colonial Dames Society decided to restore the church
interior. Work was done under the supervision of Col. Thomas
H. Atherton, architect.
Mrs. Frank G. Darte had the exterior painted. In recent years
the building has been kept in repair and painted by the cemetery