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Wyoming Valley

Wyoming Valley, c.20 mi (30 km) long and 3 to 4 mi (4.8–6.4 km) wide, in Luzerne co., NE Pa., through which flows the Susquehanna River. Wilkes-Barre is the major city of this once-rich anthracite coal region. The valley was the scene of a long contest between Connecticut and Pennsylvania over conflicting land claims based on 17th-century charters. After the Susquehanna Company purchased (1754) land there at the Albany Congress, a temporary settlement of the region in 1762–63 led to the first permanent settlement in 1769 and the building soon after of Forty Fort. The First Pennamite War (1769–71) between the Connecticut and Pennsylvania settlers ensued, but rapid settlement of the area continued. In 1774, Connecticut set up the town of Westmoreland, from which representatives were sent to the Connecticut legislature. During the American Revolution, the valley settlers were attacked (1778) by Loyalist commander John Butler and a party of Tories and Iroquois allies; nearly 400 men, women, and children were killed. The massacre is described in Thomas Campbell's poem, Gertrude of Wyoming (1809). In 1782 a Continental Congress court of arbitration decided to grant the land in favor of Pennsylvania, but the Connecticut settlers refused to leave, and the Second Pennamite War (1784) ensued. Finally, through the Compromise Act of 1799, the Pennsylvania legislature secured a means of settlement with the Connecticut claimants.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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