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Did York County’s last Susquehannock village have a palm tree?

Susquehannock fort illustration from 1720 Herman Moll map

I have used the illustration above when writing about the last two known Native American villages in York County. It is from Herman Moll’s 1720 map entitled: A new map of the north parts of America claimed by France under ye names of Louisiana, Mississipi [i.e. Mississippi], Canada, and New France with ye adjoining territories of England and Spain : to Thomas Bromsall, esq., this map of Louisiana, Mississipi [i.e. Mississippi] & c. is most humbly dedicated, H. Moll, geographer / laid down according to the newest and most exact observations by H. Moll, geographer, 1720.The key part of the extremely long title for us is “…adjoining territories of England…,” which includes Pennsylvania . (See below.)

Detail showing Susquehannock fort from Moll 1720 map. Library of Congress, Geography and Map Division.

On the map Moll shows the location of the fort, probably what is known as the Upper Leibhart site in Lower Windsor Township, at the upper end of Long Level. As I explained in my York Sunday News column on the two Susquehannock villages, it has now been preserved, as has the Lower Leibhart site, about a mile south. The site had been abandoned by the Native Americans around 1675. So why is it showing up on a 1720 map?

Herman Moll was a prolific cartographer based in London. He produced maps of much of the world, most of which he has never visited. This part of Moll’s map is thought to have been based on Augustine Herrman’s in-person 1670 mapping of the area. This Susquehannock village would have been in place during that time. Augustine Herrman’s map, entitled Virginia and Maryland as it is planted and inhabited this present year 1670, does show a palisaded group of long houses, but it didn’t include trees. (See below.)

Susquehannock village on 1670 Herrman map. Library of Congress, Geography and Map Division.

Moll must have filled in the trees he thought appropriate, using other sources. It has been proposed that the “palm” might signify a native pawpaw. A taxonomist friend suggested it might represent a wild magnolia instead. She also pointed out that the pawpaw and magnolia are both in the same botanical family–Magnoliaceae. Pawpaws are found in the river hills, and my friend says the area of the Native American village is at about the northern-most range of the wild magnolias. Internet searches show that both the pawpaw and wild magnolia have large leaves, somewhat clustered, but just not quite palm leaves.