Recollections of Mrs. Julia Anna Blackman Plumb of Hanover, at age of 82, as published in The Historical Record, 1888, providing a glimpse of life in the township in the early part of the 19th century. Her obituary follows.


I was born in 1806. My brother Harry went to Nanticoke to live about 1818 when I was about twelve years old. John P. Arndt owned the forge there and a saw mill and other mills, and Harry was a good mechanic, and Arndt got him to move down there and repair and build machinery for the mills and Forge. He lived there about two years. On the way there, Askam’s house was the first next to us, on the Middle Road. He had lived there some years then.

                   John Shafer lived where Harvey Holcomb afterwards lived, where the cross road turns off toward the river road. I think Pruner lived at the mill on that cross road that afterwards Jonathan Robins owned, near where the Dundee Shaft now is. Henry Sively lived in the little house on the river road, where this Robins or Pruner cross road comes into the river road. Jesse Crissman once lived in this little house, and perhaps lived there at the time I am speaking of. Sively owned it afterwards, and in about 1838 George Koker owned it and lived in it, and died there about 1850, I should think. The Pruner or Robins cross road, I think, went straight on, at that time, across the river road there, and on down to the river at the mouth of the creek that comes in there. Down the river towards Nanticoke, the next house was Mr. Andrus’, where Barnett Miller afterwards lived. A man by the name of Ebenezer Brown lived at the Pruner, or Robins mill, at that time. He had sons – Daniel and Harry. Mr. Brown had known father in Connecticut before they came here. Father was studying surveying at a school, and Brown was a scholar at the same school. Father was a young man then in Connecticut after the Revolutionary War was over, and before he came back here in 1786. Brown lived at the mill only a couple of years. He moved to Kingston, and lived at the west end of the Wilkes-Barre River Bridge. This would be about 1820. I think there was at that time a log house standing below the Andrus house, towards Nanticoke, two stories high, the upper story the largest, projecting out over the lower one all around the house. It was built during the Indian wars to protect the people from the Indians. Mother’s name was Anna Hurlbut, and she lived about a mile above the house towards Wilkes-Barre. I think old Mr. George Koker, the first of the family in Hanover, lived in it. The Pells lived next below, towards Nanticoke, where Samuel Pell afterwards lived. The Pells, instead of a barn to keep their hay in like us, had large, square stacks outside, with great square posts at the corners and a roof thatched with straw over the stack, and as the hay was taken off and the stack got lower, they would let the roof down to be near the top of the hay. The son, Josiah Pell, was in the Indian battle at Wyoming where father was, and afterwards in the army, and after the war lived with his father a great many years. The old man got married to a young wife, and gave all his property to her children, and the son, Josiah, (the father’s name was Josiah, too) moved, I think, up the Susquehanna River somewhere. Father used to meet him on the jury afterwards. James Lee lived in the house beyond the Nanticoke Creek, called Lee’s Creek there, in a nice, large house. Esquire Samuel Jameson lived on the left side of the road next beyond Lee’s. It looked like a frame house that he lived in, but I think likely as not, it was log inside. I don’t remember any other house at that time on the River road, where Robert Robins’ house was afterwards built, where he lived and died. The Mills lived on the right beyond, and down in the fields toward the river, there was an old log house and two or three barns, and a nice new house. Mr. Anheuser, a son-in-law of Mr. Mill, had a store in a pretty nice house on the road. The old log house down n the field near the barn took fire, and it and three barns were burned. My brother Harry and Jesse Crisman were there. There was not much of anything in the barns. It was just before haying and harvesting. After the fire Mr. Anheuser moved to Wilkes-Barre and kept a store there. I understand that Mrs. Anheuser is still alive and living in Wilkes-Barre. She must be very old. The next building, I think, was the schoolhouse. That was before the schoolhouse and church combined was built. When the church and schoolhouse combined was built, Charles Plumb, my husband, built the pulpit in the church part. The church room was over the school room. There was a house beyond the schoolhouse where Thomas Bennett kept a tavern. He married a daughter of old Mr. George Espy. Alexander’s store and the house had not been built in 1818, and it was near this time when Mill’s house and barns were burnt, I should think. The road here, a little ways from Bennett’s tavern, turned down towards the river, towards Lee’s mill. I can’t remember how thing were arranged down there by the creek, near the mill. Harry lived in the first house on the left across the creek, I think, and then a road turned off to the left down into Newport, and then across the road were two or three more houses along the road near-by towards Col. Lee’s, and then a large nice house in which John P. Arndt lived. Arndt had two sons while living in Wilkes-Barre before he moved to Nanticoke, Philip and Hamilton. Philip was drowned in the Susquehanna River while trying to catch driftwood, and I think his body was never found.

                   I think the first school I ever went to was up on the Middle road, near Lorenzo Ruggles’, in some one’s private house, across the creek from his house, and below it, southwest of it. I wasn’t more than four or five years old at the time. We didn’t call it but a mile from our house then, but now it is two miles. Lydia Richards was the teacher. What makes me remember the school is that she would put her switch or stick on the noses of the disobedient to hold there without touching it with their hands. There were three disobedient at one time and they were made to hold up their faces so that the whip would lie across the noses of all a once, and not fall off, and then they yelled. I remember among the scholars Ruth Edgerton, Rachael Hoover and Phoebe Wright. I only remember these three. Ruth Edgerton married Anthony Wilkeson. Lydia Richards was the sister of Elijah Richards, of Wright Township, afterwards. The next school I attended was on the "Green", about two miles or more off. The teacher was a Scotchman. The scholars I remember were myself, Elisha and Betsy Blackman and Maria Askam. Maria Askam afterwards married Thomas Brown, and lived about forty years at what is now called Newtown, in Hanover, adjoining the Wilkes-Barre line on the back road. They moved to Iowa. I don’t remember any others. At Behee’s millpond, on the road to this school, there was a saw mill close to the dam and they were sawing logs. We could go to the mill right off the dam. The dam was also the road there as it is now-across the creek, and the children would frequently go into the saw mill and sit on the logs it as being sawed. I sat on one once with Maria Askam. I think Ludwig Rummage owned Behee’s mill when ‘I went to school first on "The Green", but it may have been later a few years. Behee owned it when I was 12 years old anyway. The school house stood on the hill top at "The Green" and the unfinished church stood to the left of it. This was about 1811-12. They had meetings in the church sometimes though. Father said he used frequently to sit in the upper story of that church and look over here towards his own house to see if it took fire from the fires in the woods in the spring and fall. Nobody lived over back here then but he, or nearer than the Middle road, nearly a mile off, and the fires used to burn in the woods clear to the Middle road at Askam’s; but that must have been before 1806. Askam sometimes used to live in a little log house near South Wilkes-Barre on the Middle Road at Soloman’s Creek. He was a tailor by trade, but he would rather do peddling than anything else, and so he wanted to live near town. In his peddling excursions he had been, he said, to Canada twenty-one times.

                   The first preacher I remember was called Paddock, and I think he was a Methodist. He preached at Rufus Bennett’s house in the evening, and mother went to hear him, and I was only a little bit of a girl, about 1809, she took me along. I and Pattie Minerva Bennett at first sat on chairs or benches, but so many people came and it got so crowded we had to give up ours to grown people. There was a small room by the end of the larger one and there was a bed in it and a fire and we were crowded in there, and in there Selest Bennett had "a beau", and as we did not like to stand there looking at them crawled under the bed. People came all the way from Nanticoke at Col. Washington Lee’s to this meeting, more than four miles. They came so far, and at night, too, because meetings were so scarce. Ann Jameson, a little girl like me, and her parents, Squire Samuel Jameson and Mrs. Jameson, were there, also from Nanticoke, and she sat in their laps. I think the lady that Philip Weeks afterwards married was there. She was some relative to Col. Lee’s wife, and lived there, I believe, and I think her name was Campbell. I think that was before the school house was built in the end of Hog-Back, near Rufus Bennett’s. This was before I had gone to any school, and I must have been about four or less. I don’t think there was any cleared land by the side of ours then. Bennett’s house was near the Middle Road, and ours was near the Back Road, about a half mile apart. I heard my mother say that when she first moved here, in 1791, from Wilkes-Barre, the trees were standing so near the house that if any of them had fallen or been blown down towards the house they would have fallen on it. But that was in 1791, and this meeting was about 1809 or ’10, and our land was more cleared up by then. I think Perry Gilmore lived in the stone house on the Middle Road then and kept a tavern there. He used to borrow father’s neck kerchief to wear when he went to Wilkes-Barre. Father sent sister Betsey-she was six years older than I-there once after his necktie or handkerchief, when he did not return it, and she took me along. Gilmore had it on his neck when we went there, and he was mad because father had sent for it. He was an Irishman and his wife was a Dutch woman. In the same little hollow where Rufus Bennett’s house stood, there stood at that time two or three houses some twenty or thirty rods further up towards John Hoover’s, and a man by the name of Covert lived in one and a man by the name of Paul Thorp lived in another, but I don’t remember who lived in the third. I think they stood pretty near together and all belonged to Bennett.

                   Covert had a son 10 or 12 years old that was sick or crazy, and they thought he was bewitched. He was lying in bed down stairs, and every once in a while he would start up, open his eyes and stare towards the ceiling or joists above, and point with his finger from place to place and cry out There she is! There she is! Covert got a heavy club and one time when the boy pointed his finger and cried There she is!, he struck a whack up against the floor and joists above as hard as he could at the place the boy pointed to, and an old woman sitting there in the room on a low chair, helping them during child’s sickness and then knitting, had not seen him prepare to strike screamed and jumped and fell on the floor. So they thought sure she must be the witch, and that the club hit her up against the upper floor and made her scream and fall out of her chair.

                   I heard mother tell of a little matter that happened when she was a girl, living at her mother’s, on the River Road, near the Red Tavern. A man that lived down the river about a mile from her house, towards Nanticoke, was heard one night before bedtime yelling and swearing in a loud voice for a good while. They knew the voice, and all the family went out of doors to hear the racket. The next morning they saw him going by their house towards Wilkes-Barre, and they asked him what the noise was down his way last night. He was crossing the river in his boat from Shawney, and the water very high and the night very dark and rainy, and he got lost, and couldn’t find the shore, and so he went to cursing and swearing as hard as he could and he got ashore at last. If he hadn’t sworn as hard as he did he should never have been able, he said, to manage his boat and he should have been "drownded", but he swore so hard that he got ashore at last and saved himself.

                   When I was a very little girl and used to go to Wilkes-Barre with my mother and father, the first house along the Middle Road after passing Askam’s Corner-where L. L. Nyhart lives now- was the stone house. Perry Gilmore lived in it. The next house was Willis Hyde’s, where Richard Metcalf now lives, across the creek from the stone house. Opposite Metcalf’s a private road or lane turns off from the main road to the right and runs around a hill close by the main road, and back of that hill, some twenty or thirty rods from the Middle Road, is the Rufus Bennett house, and fifteen or twenty rods or further beyond Bennett’s dwelling were some more houses, all built before I was born. Bennett’s house and the others where they stood could not be seen from the Middle Road. On the left of the lane as you entered it, and opposite to the Willis Hyde or Metcalf house, there was built, many years afterwards - after the time I was such a little girl - a house close by the road. Rufus Bennett, Jr. built it, but it was never finished, and no one ever lived in it. They used to have preaching in it sometimes, but it was soon taken down, and Rufus went West. But when I was a very little girl, the next house along the road was James Wright’s, near Lorenzo Ruggles’, but I learned afterwards that there were houses between, only they were back from the road and out of sight pretty much. They used to have preaching in it sometimes, but it was soon taken down, and Rufus went west. But when I was the very little girl, the next house along the road was James Wright’s, near Lorenzo Ruggles’, but I learned afterwards that there were houses between, only they were back from the road and out of sight pretty much. There was Henry Hoover’s house back somewhere to the right, and Edward Edgerton’s back to the left; and there was still nearer, this side of Edgerton’s, near where Hoover afterwards took out coal on the left, was where Aunty Warner lived. It was in the hollow southwest of the present Hoover Hill school house, some forty rods or so. Aunty Warner was a hired girl at the Slocum’s in Wilkes-Barre when the Indians in the fall of 1778 carried off Frances Slocum. Aunty Warner ran off to the fort with one of the Slocum children in her arms, while the Indians took up a little boy, and the mother, showing the Indian he was lame, the Indian put him down and took up the little girl and carried her off. Aunty Warner had lived at what is now called Sugar Notch, near the creek that crosses the back road there. But she lived over near the Middle Road when I was a little girl, and died here, I think about 1820, when I was about 14 years old. She lived with Johnny Burgess. Johnny Burgess was a boy whose parents were very poor, and Aunty Warner didn’t have any children; and so she took him when a little child and brought him up. Johnny got married, and when Aunty Warner’s husband died and Aunty was getting old and feeble, Johnny thought so much of here that he took her to his own house and kept her till she died there, or rather, perhaps, he returned her kindness in kind, which is about the same thing as thinking much of her. This was his house back in the hollow. I don’t remember Aunty Warner’s name before she was married. I used to visit with her mother. I think the next house to James Wright’s was Lorenzo Ruggles’, across the creek from Wright’s.

                   There was a house, some years afterwards moved from some place beyond Ruggles and put on a lot just under what is now called Hoover Hill, where the school now stands. That was an old house when it was moved there, and Nathan Bennett lived in it afterwards. It was not there in my earliest recollection of the houses along the road here, for I went to school by these houses a year or so after my first recollections. Henry Hoover’s house on the hill across the road was not then built, nor Mrs. Whipples, behind the school house, or nearly behind it. Jacob Worthing built a house somewhere near Lorenzo Ruggles’ house, and he had a loom that through the shuttle itself. I was a little girl, and went in there with Lavina Ruggles to see it, and I put my foot on the treadle, and as it went down it drove the shuttle across to the other side, and then I put my foot on the other treadle and threw it the other way. I think Jacob Worthing himself was on the loom and told me to do it, and when the shuttle went across he drew up the lay and showed me how it worked. Lovina Ruggles was a little younger than I. She was Ruggles’ oldest child, and died while she was a little girl, with the measles, I think. Jacob Worthing’s wife was a daughter of Comfort Cary. Worthing’s wife died young, and then he broke up housekeeping. They had only one child, a boy, a baby then. It was named Comfort Cary Worthing. The child grew up to manhood, and afterwards taught school at the Lutsey settlement, and used to stop here at our house sometimes. That loom wasn’t used much afterwards, I think. It was thought it didn’t make the cloth as good as the old way.

                   There was a house near where Ruggles’ home was afterwards built, where an old man called "Blind Davis" lived. He was blind and his wife was deaf. He sold out and went to Ohio to live, blind as he was. I must have been six or seven years old then. Ruggles must have built his house about that time, I think. Benjamin Cary’s house was next, on the right a little ways from the road, but I don’t know much about it. He was a brother of James Wright’s wife. Mr. Cary owned the land, and I heard Mrs. Cary say they had to pat three times for it. Her name was Mercy Abbott. Jacob Fisher’s house was next on the left. The old house where Jacob fisher’s father lived, was still standing and was back of the new one quite a number of rods, and there was a road to it, I think, along the top of the hill from the school house on the cross road below Fisher’s. The next house was on the corner of the cross road that goes over to Sugar Notch and a Mr. Burrier lived there as long ago as I can remember. He had a son, a young man then, called Thomas, that I here is alive yet. Now the rest of them from there to Wilkes-Barre I can’t remember about, when I was so little. I do remember though two old men that used to walk up and down the road on the side of the hill at what was then or afterwards Christian Nagle’s house, where there was a water spout and a trough for horses and cattle to drink at.

                   My brother, Harry Blackman, married and staid here, but Ebenezer went to Ohio, when he came of age (1814). Then when brother Hurlburt (Blackman) came of age he got sick, and could not work. He used to ride a horse to Wilkes-Barre every once in a while to see the doctor. After about a year of illness he concluded to go West and see if he wouldn’t get better (1816). He came back some years afterwards on horseback on a visit, and tied his horse and came in and asked if he could stay to dinner and have his horse fed. We didn’t know him and asked if he was’nt some of our folks. He laughed and said he was, and then she knew him. There was no canal then, and I don’t know how he went West, but he told us that when he had been on the boat a few days he could eat pork and beans as well as any of them. He went to Troy, Miami Co., Ohio, where Brother Ebenezer was. When he went back, Sister Betsy went with him (1820), intending to stay only a year and then come home again, but when she was ready to come, Hurlbut got sick and she didn’t come. Then she staid and got married. Then Brother Elisha became of age, and he went West, also to Ohio (1822). They all learned trades there, and staid in Troy, except Elisha, who got married and went to Indiana. They all married. They are all dead now. The country there in these early times was unhealthy, but they all lived to be about seventy years each, except Ebenezer. They each of them came back on a visit to father before he died. Ebenezer and his family came in 1839, and went back in 1840. Hurlbut, Betsey and Elisha came back together in 1841, and went back after a few weeks. Elisha was executer of father’s estate, and came here in 1846 to settle that up. Father died Dec. 5, 1845.

                   Within my recollection people wore clothes generally made of cloth at home. It was raised, spun, woven and dyed at home. This was for common wear, but people generally had a suit "for nice" that was made of boughten stuff. When I was a little girl father bought me a calico dress at 25 cents a yard. He thought it was so cheap he got it. But at first washing it all faded out, and we dyed it over at home. Calico that was good for anything was 30 cents a yard. I don’t think anybody around here wore buckskin except that old colored woman that lived over the mountain. She was called "Shots", I think. She was the mother of the colored man called "Black Joe", and his wife was called "Blue Sal". I don’t know but his name was Joseph Taylor. Old Shots was an old woman when I was young, and lived in Wright or Slocum Township, as it was afterwards called, and used to come over the mountain to our side on the Warrior Path, dressed half in man’s and half in woman’s clothes. She lived with a man, or he lived with her, that was old and lived on a pension he got for service in the Revolutionary War. I don’t remember what his name was, but they lived in what we called the swamp, or in that neighborhood, according to my recollection. She used to dress partly in buckskin. The poor things had been slaves, and then they were set free and had to take care of themselves the best way they could, and they didn’t know how.



Death of a Pioneer’s Daughter

Mrs. Julia Anna Blackman Plumb Passes Away at the Age of 83

Some of the Trying Hardships of Pioneer Life.

Julia Anna Blackman Plumb died on June 29, at the residence of her son, H. B. Plumb, Esq., in Plumbtown, at the advanced age of 83 years. She passed peacefully and painlessly away, in full possession of her faculties up to the last. With the exception of a slight cold she was in her usual health and death was due to the infirmities of advancing age. Funeral at 2 p. m. on Tuesday, interment in Hollenback Cemetery.

                    She was probably the last survivor of the second generation of the pioneers who participated in the battle of Wyoming, July 3, 1778. About seven years ago she became blind, an affliction that was severely felt by her, she having been a great reader. She had also become deaf. Otherwise here declining years have been marked with a degree of health and vigor not common to such advanced age. She was possessed of those sterling traits of character which ennoble our human nature and made her life a benediction to all whom she was thrown in contact. Her religious faith was after the teachings of the Swedenborgian Church. Fore many years she has made her home with her son, who has ministered to her every want with the most tender and devoted parental solicitude.

Mrs. Plumb was in the sixth generation from John Blackman, who was in Dorchester, Mass., now Boston, in 1640. He had eight children.

Second generation – Joseph Blackman, 1661 – 1720. He had five children.

Third generation – Elisha, born 1700. He had four children.

Fourth generation – Elisha, 1727-1804. Had five children.

Fifth generation- Elisha, 1760-1845. Had ten children.

Sixth generation – The subject of this sketch, who was the ninth child.

Seventh generation – H. B. Plumb, of Hanover Township.

She was the daughter of Elisha Blackman and Anna Hurlbut, of Hanover Township, Luzerne Co., and was born on the same farm where she passed her entire life, April 25, 1806. She was married to Charles Plumb Dec. 21, 1828, he dying three years later. The only child was Henry Blackman Plumb, the local historian and member of the Luzerne Bar, who survives. Her father was deeply attached to her, she being the youngest daughter, and she never left the parental roof. Upon her mother’s death she assumed the entire care of her father’s household, a duty far more arduous than falls to women nowadays. Her father was an extensive farmer and nearly everything with the exception of tea, coffee, and sugar was raise upon the homelands. The round of exacting duty embraced spinning, weaving, dairying butter and cheese, wool raising, bee culture, flax raising, the care of harvest hands and numerous other domestic duties quite unknown to the generation now growing up. Her father died December 5, 1845, at the age of 86, her mother January 26, 1828, at the age of 65.

Her father was Elisha Blackman, born April 4, 1760, in Lebanon, Conn. He came here with his father, Elisha Blackman, in 1772, and participated in the battle of July 3, 1778, he being one of the fortunate few who escaped. He was a member of Capt. Bidlack’s company, from lower Wilkes-Barre, out of whose 32 men only eight escaped. After the repulse he succeeded in making his way to the Susquehanna River, which he attempted to swim. His efforts were noticed by a savage along the bank who fired a flintlock musket at him, but fortunately without effect. He succeeded in reaching the Monoconock Island, where he secreted himself in the bushes. He was an eye witness to the killing of Philip Weeks, who had also sought to escape the river, but was induced by a savage to return to shore on a promise that his life should be spared. It is needless to say that the promise was shamefully and instantly violated and Weeks was killed and scalped. The Blackman boy, for he was a lad of only 18, lay concealed until darkness had covered the earth for several hours, when about midnight he took advantage of the dead silence and returned to the west side of the river and made his way to Forty Fort, in which such of the frightened settlers as had not fled towards Connecticut had taken refuge. About the same time another refugee came to the fort, Daniel McMullen, who was entirely naked, he having thrown aside his clothes when he took to the river. The next morning (July 4, 1778), these two men objected to the proposed capitulation of the fort and rather than fall into the hands of the British and Indians as prisoners they took advantage of the opening of the gates to admit somr cattle and fled, reaching Wilkes-Barre fort in safety. This fort was already abandoned, Dr. William Hooker Smith and the aged men composing the local military company, the Reformadoes, having gone to the Five Mile Mountain as an escort for the women and children who were fleeing towards the Pocono on their way to their old homes in Connecticut. The only man in Wilkes-Barre fort was young Blackman’s father. The family home was in South Wilkes-Barre near where the late Judge Dana’s residence stands. Hastily concealing such family valuables as could be buried they got the cattle together and drove them toward the lower end of the valley, away from the Indians, where the oxen were found in safety several months later. They fled down the river, then up Nescopeck Creek, and succeeded in crossing the Nescopeck Mountain to Stroudsburg, where they overtook the main body of the fugitives who had gone by the way of the Shades of Death and Pocono Mountain. When Capt. Spalding’s company returned to the desolated valley in August to bury the dead, young Blackman accompanied and assisted in that melancholy duty. He then gathered such of his father’s crops as had escaped the malignity of the Tories and Indians. His father returned in November and the crops harvested by the son found ready purchasers in the troops who were stationed in the valley. Father and son then returned to Connecticut, winter now drawing on, and the son enlisted in the Revolutionary Army. He served a year in the New York lake region, and then returned to Lebanon, Conn. In 1786, fe returned to Wilkes-Barre with his two brothers, Ichabod and Eleazer. In 1787 his father came, and took the oath of allegiance to Pennsylvania before Timothy Pickering.

The son married in January, 1788, Anna Hurlbut, daughter of Deacon John Hurlbut, of Hanover, and in 1791 removed to Hanover and settled on the land where the family have ever since lived. He cleared up a tract of land, built a house and planted an orchard. This was between the middlr and the back road. It was probably the only clearing on the southeast side from Newport to Wilkes-Barre. Rufus Bennett came about the same time.




Burial of Mrs. Plumb

The burial of the late Mrs. Julia Anna Plumb took place Tuesday afternoon fron the residence of her son, H. B. Plumb, Esq., in Hanover Township. Rev. J. K. Peck was the officiating clergyman, and the pall bearers were these neighbors: Messrs. Metcalf, Taylor, Harrison, Reinhammer, Albert and Edwards. Mr. Peck’s address was pronounced and excellent one, being both religious and historical. Interment was in Hollenback Cemetery.


The above information was donated by: Dan Foose
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