Craig, Isaac (1741-1826) Letter Book, 1801-1811

Held by The Filson Historical Society

Creator: Isaac Craig, 1741-1826

Title: Letter book, 1801-1811

Rights: For information regarding literary and copyright interest for these papers, contact the Curator of Special Collections.

Size of Collection: 0.33 cubic feet

Locator Number: Mss. A/C886a

Scope and Content Note

Major Isaac Craig served as Deputy Quartermaster and Military Storekeeper while stationed at Fort Pitt, Pittsburgh, Pa. In 1792 he was directed to supervise the construction of Fort Lafayette (also known as Fayette) as a replacement for Fort Pitt which had fallen into disrepair. In 1801 he was appointed Army Paymaster at Fort Lafayette. The collection consists of a bound letter copybook containing approximately 300 letters written in Craig’s or unidentified clerks’ hands. Most of the letters in this collection concern duties related to his military appointments and describe the transfer of payments to army units in military posts on the western frontier, construction of artillery pieces, particularly gun carriages, and ships for navigating inland rivers as well as ocean-going vessels, and transportation of armaments and supplies to distant military posts. Several letters mention the arrival and departure of military and government officials, including Aaron Burr, James Wilkinson and Meriwether Lewis, and his repeated attempts to obtain payment for previous employment in the Quartermaster Department and personal debts owed him by various individuals. Craig also was co-owner of the first glass manufactory west of the Appalachians, located in Pittsburgh, and supervised the activities of tenant farmers on lands that he owned in western Pennsylvania. Several letters concern the day-to-day operation of his glassmaking and farming endeavors.

Biographical Note

Isaac Craig was born in 1741 near Hillsborough, Ireland, and immigrated to the United States as a young man in 1768.  He settled in Philadelphia, Pa, eventually becoming a master carpenter.  In 1775 he enlisted as a 1st Lt. in the Continental Marines, serving on the Andrew Doria in the West Indies.  In 1776 his company was ordered to serve in the infantry and he participated in the crossing of the Delaware, capture of the Hessians at Trenton and the Battle of Princeton. In 1777 he was appointed Captain in the 4th Continental Artillery Regt., participating in the Battles of Brandywine and Germantown. He was stationed at Valley Forge during the winter of 1777-1778.   In 1778, he was assigned to the military laboratory at Carlisle, Pa., to learn the art of preparing munitions.  In 1780 he was ordered to Fort Pitt, Pittsburgh, Pa. He was to assist George Rogers Clark on his planned 1781 campaign against Detroit but that operation did not take place. He retired from active duty as a major in 1783.  In 1784 Craig purchased land in Pittsburgh and started a mercantile business. In 1785 he married Amelia Neville, daughter of a Revolutionary War veteran, Gen. John Neville. They had 10 children. Craig was appointed a deputy Quartermaster General and military storekeeper in Pittsburgh in 1791, serving under Quartermaster General James O’Hara. That same year he supervised the dismantling of Fort Pitt and the construction of its replacement, Fort Lafayette. In 1794 he participated in suppressing the Whiskey Rebellion. Craig and O’Hara founded the first glassworks west of the Appalachians, Pittsburgh Glass Works, in 1797, producing window glass and bottles.  In 1801, Craig was appointed paymaster at Fort Lafayette and collector of public revenues in western Pennsylvania. Craig purchased land in western Pennsylvania and employed several tenant farmers who worked the properties. Craig was elected and served as Chief Burgess of the Borough of Pittsburgh from 1802–1803.  He died on May 14, 1826, on Montour’s Island, in the Ohio River near Pittsburgh. His original resting place is not known but his remains were reinterred in Pittsburgh’s historic Allegheny Cemetery on October 24, 1902.

Subject Headings

Adams, John, 1735-1826

Agriculture – Pennsylvania

Burr, Aaron, 1756-1836

College of New Jersey (Princeton, N.J.)

Dearborn, Henry, 1751-1829

Distilling Industries – United States

Farm tenancy – Pennsylvania

Fort Adams (Miss.)

Fort Lafayette (Pa.)

Fort Pitt (Pa.)

Fort Presque Isle (Pa.)

Fugitive Slaves – United States

Glass manufacture – Pennsylvania

Hamtramck, John Francis, 1756-1803

Hodgdon, Samuel, 1745-1824

Indians of North America

Indians of North America – Commerce

Indians of North America – Government relations – 1789-1869

Industries – Pennsylvania – 19th century

Iron-works – Pennsylvania

Irvine, William, 1741-1804

Jefferson, Thomas, 1743-1826

Land grants – United States

Land use – Pennsylvania

Lewis, Meriwether, 1774-1809

Little Turtle, 1747?-1812

Lottery Tickets – Pennsylvania

Louisiana Purchase

McKean, Thomas, 1734-1817

Mental Illness – Treatment – Pennsylvania

Military offences – United States

Morrison, James, 1755-1823

Moore, James Francis, 1751-1809

Natchez (Miss.) – History

Neville, Presley, 1755-1818

Neville, John, 1731-1803 – Estate

New Orleans (La.) – History

O’Hara, James, 1752-1819

Old Fort Niagara (N.Y.)

Ordnance – Manufacture

Patterson, Robert, 1743-1824

Pennsylvania – History – 19th century

Pennsylvania – Politics and government – 19th century

Pennsylvania Hospital (Philadelphia, Pa.)

Pickering, Timothy, 1845-1829

Pittsburgh (Pa.) – Description and travel

Pittsburgh (Pa.) – History – 19th century

Pittsburgh (Pa.) – History, Military – 19th century

Presidents – United States – Election – 1800

Princeton University

Republican Party (U.S.: 1792-1828)

Rush, Benjamin, 1746-1813

Shipbuilding – Pennsylvania

Simmons, William, ca. 1759-1825

Slaveholders – United States

Slavery – United States

Slaves – United States

Stricker, George, 1732-1810

Swan, Caleb, 1758- 1809

Tenant farmers – Pennsylvania

Tornadoes – Illinois

Union Iron Works

United States – Commerce

United States – Foreign relations – 1783-1815

United States – Politics and government – 1801-1809

United States. Army – Artillery

United States. Army – Military pay, allowances

United States. Army – Supplies and stores

United States. Army – Transportation

Wilkinson, James, 1757-1825

Women – Mental health – Pennsylvania

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