IN JANUARY 1765, CHARLES MASON took a break from his work drawing a boundary line between Maryland and Pennsylvania to visit Lancaster, Pennsylvania, the site of the 1763 Paxton Boys' massacre of the Conestoga Indians. He did so, he wrote, out of "curiosity to see the place where was perpetrated last winter; the horrid and inhumane murder of 26 Indians: men, women, and children, leaving none alive to tell." What he found was hardly what he expected. Lancaster was not a lawless frontier outpost but a bustling and vibrant port on its way to becoming the largest inland city in British North America.
Disappointed in his efforts to learn about the massacre, Mason soon "fell in company with Mr. Samuel Smith," who told him a story of a different, earlier conflict. In 1736, Smith recounted, Pennsylvania was "in open war" with Maryland "on the river Susquehannah."