Local History: Luzerne County, PA , Lackawanna County, PA, Wyoming County, PA
children suffering much. The fourth night at Lackawaxen, fifth at Bloomington, sixth at Shehola, and seventh on the Delaware, where the epople disbanded--some going up and some down the river."
Pennsylvania repudiated this ferocious conduct of the soldiers, and at once indignantly dismissed the respective companies engaged in proceedings so infamous.
After the Compromising laws had pacified the valley, Phillips reutrned and took possession of his former farm.
Timothy Keys, Andrew Hickman, and Mr. Hocksy settled in Providence Township in 1771. Keys was chosen constable of Providence, June 30, 1772. Among the first five women coming to Wyoming was the wife of Hickman.
The Westmoreland Records inform us that "Augustine Hunt, one of ye Proprietors in ye Susquehanna Purchois has made a pitch of about one hundred and fifty acres of Land in Lockaworna township in 1772."
John Taylor, with no companions but his ax, his rifle, and his faithful dog, early made a pitch in Providence on the elevevation below Hyde Park, affording such views of village and valley, and known throughout the valley as the "uncle Jo. Griffin farm." Mr. Taylor subsequently became a man of more than ordinary usefullness in the colony. He was a prominent member of a number of committees, which received their existence with the expansion of the settlement, and he took an active part in the social and political organizations of the day.
Pitts-town, which was named in honor of the distinguished advocate and defender of American interest, Wm. Pitt, as was Wilkes-Barre from the united names of two bold and eloquent champions of American rights in the British Parliament, was one of the original townships laid out by the Proprietors of the Susquehanna Company, and extended from Wilkes Barre to Providence.
Among the early families here, were the Browns, Bennetts, Benedicts, Blanchards, Careys, St. Johns, Marcys, Sawyers, and Silbeys. One of the Pittston forts being erected on the farm of Brown, was named in honor of him, and was at the time of the Wyoming massacre occupied by a small company of men commanded by Captain Blanchard.
This block-house was built in 1772. At a meeting of the proprietors and settlers held in Wilkes Barre, May 20, 1772, it was voted "that ye Proprietors Belonging to ye town of Pittston Have ye Liberty to Go into their town, and there to fortyfie and Keep in a Body Near together and Gourd by themselves until further notice from this Committee."
Samuel Harden was chosen collector for Pittston, and Solomon Johnson "for ye town of Providence", in December, 1772.
Meadow lot, No. 13, in Lockawarna, was sold to Jeremiah Blanchard, in May, 1772, by Dr. Joseph Sprauge, one of the proprietors of the town, and the first physician who practiced medicine in the valley.
John Stevens was a proprietor in "ye township called ye Capouse Meadow." In May, 1772, he conveyed to John Youngs a settling right at Capouse Meadow, merely for the "consideration of ye Love, Good will and affections I have and Do Bare towards my Loving Son in Law, John youngs, son to my wife Mary."
At Capoose Meadow, where the rude bearing of Indian life had been modified by whites friendly in their intercourse and gaudy with their presents, acres of rich woodlands had been surveyed and purchased for a few shillings in Connecticut currency, but no one
was wiling to encounter its dangers or share attractions until Isaac Tripp, a man of five and thirty, built for himself a shelter among the pines in 1771.
Emigrating to the broader plains of Wyoming with the orignal pioneers of 1769, and, finding the block-house at Mill Creek in possession of the Pennymites, prepared, with a body of men commanded by Capt. Ogden, to dispute and enforce jurisdiction over the valley, Tripp and his companions, looking for no such chilly reception even amid the snows of winter, made preparations to recapture a prize of such vital importance to their existence as a part of a company or colony. "Isaak Tryp", was one of the Proprietors of the Susquehanna Company. He had seen some service in the French and Indian wars previous to this, while a few of his companions had been schooled in the raw exercises of the militia of Connecticut. All, however, who had adventured thus far into Wyoming, yet filled with the sullen redskins, were familiar with the use of the rifle, never failing in the hands of the woodsman, robust and self reliant, versed in the achievement of hook and line, and more skilled in securing the deer and tracking the bear, than in the more deceptive art of diplomatic cunning.
With all their conceptions, however, of military discipline learned in the warfare of border life or practiced in the parks of their native inland villages, they were now completely outwitted by the superior tact of the Ogden party secure in the occupancy of the block-house. Ogden, says Miner "having only ten men able to bear arms, one-fourth only of his invading foe, determined to have recourse to negotiation. A very polite and conciliatory note was addressed to the commander of the forty, an interview respectfully solicited, and a friendly conference asked on the subject of the respective titles. Ogden proved himself an accomplished angler. The bait was too tempting. Propose to a Yankee to talk over a matter, especially which he has studied, and believes to be right, and you
touch the most susceptible chord that vibrates in his heart. That they could out-talk the Pennymites, and convince them the Susquehanna title was good, not one of the forty doubted. Three of the chief men were deputed to argue the matter, viz.: Isaac Tripp and Benjamin Follet, two of the executive commitee, accompanied by Mr. Vine Elderkin. No sooner were they within the block-house, than Sheriff Jenkins clapped a writ on their shoulders.--'Gentlemen, in the name of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, you are my prisoners!' 'Laugh when we must, be candid when we can.' The Yankees were decidedly outwitted. By common consent the prisoners were transported to Easton jail, guarded by Captain Ogden; but accompanied in no hostile manner, by the thirty-seven remnants of the forty."
Tripp was promptly liberated from jail by his friends, and returning again to the valley, was an efficient contributor to the public weal, and an intelligent actor in the long, embittered dispute between the Provincial authorities of Pennsylvania and those of the Colony of Connecticut for Wyoming, before its peaceful and final solution.
Upon the Westmoreland Records his name, or that of "Esq. Tripp", as he was familiarly called, often appears. At a meeting of the Susquehanna Company, held at Hartford, Ct., June 2, 1773, for the purpose of electing officers for the Westmoreland Colony, Gideon Baldwin, Timothy Keys, and Isaac Tripp, were chosen Directors or Proprietors of Providence.
The first recorded purchase of land in Providence by Tripp was made in 1774. This purchase embraced lands where stood the wigwams of Capoose, upon the flats subsequently known as "Tripp's Flats". As this old deed possesses some local interest it is inserted entire.
"To all People to whom these Presents shall come, Know ye that I Daniel Adams of west-moreland, in ye
County of Litchfield and Colony of Connecticutt, in New England, for and in Consideration of Ninety pounds Currant money, of Connecticutt, to me in hand, Paid before ye Ensealing hereof to my full satisfaction by Isooc Tripp, Esq., of ye same town, County, and Colony, aforesaid, ye Receipt whereof I am fully sattisfyed and contented and Do therefore freely, fully, and absolutely Give, Grant, Bargain, Sell, alienate, Convay, and Confirm unto him, ye said Isooc Trypp, His Hairs, Exec ors. admin ors. and assighns, for Ever all and singular one Certain Lott of land, Lying and Being in ye township of Providence, Known by No. 14, Lying on the west side of Lockawarna River, and Butted and Bounded as follows: abuting East on sd. River; west on sd. town Line, North and south on Land Belonging to sd. Tripp, and Contains by Estimation 375 acres, be ye same more or Less, Reference being had to ye Survay of sd. town for ye more perticulerments. Bounds thereof to be and Remain unto him ye sd. Isooc tripp, and to his heirs, Execu--ors, or Admin--ors, or assigns for Ever free and clear from me, ye sd. Daniel Adams, or any Heirs, Execu--ors, or Admin--ors, or assigns, or any other Persons by from or under me or any part thereof, as witness my hand this 7th Day of July, in ye year of our Lord, 1774, and in ye 14th year of his majosties Raign.
"Signed, sealed and delivered In Presence of
"NATHAN DENNISON AND
"SAML. SLATER, JR.
"Received y above Deed to Record July ye 8th, A.D. 1774, and Recorded By me.
"EZEKIEL PEIRCE, clerk."
At the time that Tripp located upon the Indian clearing already awaiting culture, Providence was designated in the ancient records as the "sixth town of ye Capouse Meadows."
(Engraved portrait of Isaac Tripp with his signature)
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these once beautiful flats, now rooted into mines, and robbed of their natural beauty by tall coal work, with their accompanying culm or waste coal spread over many a fair acre, perpetuated the names of their first white occupants, and bring them down through generations into the hands of Ira Tripp, Esq., a gentlemen of wealth, entitled to no little consideration for those frank, popular attainments and social qualifications which mark, in the public mind, the rulings of the hour.
The Scranton court-house, standing on the original farm of Ira Tripp, overlooks the ancient abode of Capoose, pointed out by a single tree.
Isaac Tripp, the grandson of isaac Tripp, Sen., came into the valley in 1774, and chose this inviting spot for his residence. (see footnote)
In October, 1773, Maj. Fitch Alden purchased of John Stevens, of Wilkes Barre "one Certain Lott of Land Lying in ye township of Providence, on ye North side of Lockaworna River; sd. Lott is known by Number two and Contains 370 acres." Fifteen pounds lawful currency was the price given--about $45.
Provisions were so scarce in all the settlements, from
(Footnote: The following note, regarding Isaac Tripp, appears in the History of the Abington Baptist Association, a small volume, compiled a few years since by Rev. Edward L. Baily, A.M.: "This Isaac Tripp was in early life a resident at 'Capouse Meadows', in the Lackawanna valley. In the eighteenth year of his age, and soon after the Wyoming massacre, he was taken captive by the Indians, and with others marched to Canada. On the way he experienced the most excruciating sufferings from the gnawings of hunger and cruel treatment of the savages, who bound his hands behind him and compelled him to run the gauntlet. At Niagara he met his cousin, Miss Frances Slocum, who was also a captive from the Wyoming valley. They planned their escape, but their intentions being discovered by their captors, they were separated, never more to meet on earth, and young Tripp was sold to the English and compelled to enter their service, in which he reluctantly continued until the close of the revolutionary war. He now returned to his early home and resumed the peaceful pursuits of the farm. He moved to Scott, Luzerne county, and finally settled in the Elkwoods, in Susquehanna county. His wife died in Clifford, May 10th, 1816, aged 67 years. He followed her to the grave April 15th, 1820, aged 60 years. The remains of both now repose in the burying ground near Clifford corners.")
Wyoming to Capoose, in the winter of 1773, that a party of persons among whom was John Carey, were sent to Stroudsburg to obtain them. The distance was fifty miles through the forest, where all the intervening streams, being unbridged, had to be crossed upon ice, or forded, or swam. The party went the entire journey of foot, and returned to their half-famished friends with the needed flour.
Neither Fitch, Youngs, nor Stevens made any improvement on their lands, still unchopped and unoccupied in 1773. Fitch sold his purchase in 1774 to John Alden for eighty pounds, New York currency. It must be borne in mind that, after the original survey of the Connecticut Indian Purchase of the Susquehanna Company, all the land thus embraced was laid out in shares and half shares, many of which lay for years beyond the sound of the ax-stroke, while others, more favorably located, were sold by the proprietors of each town for a trifle, and re-sold by the purchaser to any one having the courage to risk life or sacrifice any social relation among panthers, Indians, and wolves.
Isaac Tripp, the grandson of Isaac Tripp the elder, was "taken prisoner in 1778, and two young men by the name of Keys and Hocksey; the old gentleman they (the Indians) painted and dismissed, but hurried the others into the forest (now Abington) above Liggitt's Gap, on the warriors' path to Oquago. Resting one night, they rose the next morning, traveled about two miles, when they stopped at a little stream of water. The two young Indians then took Keys and Hocksey some distance from the path, and were absent half an hour, the old Indian looking anxiously the way they had gone. Presently the death-whoop was heard, and the Indians returned, brandishing bloody tomahawks and exhibiting the scalps of their victims. Tripp's hat was taken from his head, and his scalp examined twice, the savages speaking earnestly, when at length they told him to fear nothing--
he should not be hurt; and carried him off prisoner."
The Indians, findng Tripp disposed to yield gracefully to his new position without concern or restraint, painted his face with war-paint, as a protective measure against any warriors chancing to meet him, and sent him back to his home, at Capoose, where the next year he was shot by a party of savages from the lakes, while at work in the field, unconscious of danger.
In the spring of 1803 two skulls, white as snow, and some human bones, porous and weather-beaten by the storms of quarter of a century, were found in Abington, by Deacon Clark, upon the edge of a little brook passing through Clark's Green, and were at this time supposed to be, as they probably were, the remains of Tripp's tomahawked companions.
Isaac Tripp, Sen., was shot near Wilkes Barre Fort, in 1779, under the following circumstances: In the Revolutionary War, the British, for the purpose of inciting the savages to more murderous activity along the frontier and exposed settlements, offered large rewards for the scalps of Americans. As Tripp was a man of more than ordinary efficiency and prominence in the colony, the Indians were often asked by the British why he was not slain. The unvarying answer was that "Tripp was a good man." He was a Quaker in his religious notions, and in all his intercourse with the Indians his manner had been so kind and conciliatory, that when he fell into their hands as a prisoner the year previous, at Capoose, they dismissed him unharmed, and covered him with paint, as it was their custom to do with those they did not wish to harm.
Rendering himself inimical to the Tories by the energy with which he assailed them afterward in his efforts to protect the interests of the Wyomng Colony at Hartford, whither he had been sent to represent its grievances, a
double reward was offered for his scalp, and, as he had forfeited their protection by the removal of the war-paint, and incurred their hostility by his loyal struggles for the life of the Republic, he was shot and scalped the first time he was seen.
Up until this time (1774) the Susquehanna Company, struggling against every element adverse to its existence, had hoped that Wyoming might, by special authority from the king, be erected into a separate colony of its own, but the remonstrances of the Proprietary Government, inflexible in its purpose to expel all power and people from the valley but its own, combined with the war-feeling everywhere generated and cherished throughout the American colonies against the British Government, easily defeated a measure fraught with equal consequence to both of the contending parties.
Under these circumstances, Connecticut, not forgetting that, by virture of its charter, its possessions extended indefinitely to the West--even to the Pacific--yielded to the appeals repeatedly coming over the mountain from Wyoming, to extend official and parental protection to the settlement, assailed from within and without, passed through its General Assembly, in January, 1774, the following act:--
"It is enacted that the Inhabitants dwelling within the Bounds of this Colony, on the West Side of the River Delaware, be, and they are hereby made and constituted a distinct Town, with like Powers and Priviledges as other Towns in this Colony by Law have, within the following Bounds and Limits, viz: Bounded East by Delaware River, North by the North Line of this Colony, West by a North and South Line across the Colony at fifteen miles distance from a Place on Susquehanna River called Wyoming, and South by the South Line of the Colony, which Town is hereby annexed to the County of Litchfield, and shall be
called by the name of Westmoreland: That Zebulon Butler and Nathan Denison, Esquires, Inhabitants of said Town, are appointed Justices of the Peace in and for the County of Litchfield; That the former is authorized and directed to issue a Warrant, as soon as may be, to notify the Inhabitants of the said Town of Westmoreland in said County, to meet at such Time and Place as he shall appoint, within said Town, to choose officers, and to do any other Business proper to be done at said Meeting; and
"That the Governor of this Colony is authorized and desired to issue a Proclamation, forbidding any Person or Persons whatsoever taking up, entring on, or settling any of the Lands contained or included in the Charter of this Colony, lying Westward of the Province of New York, without Liberty first had and obtained from the General Assembly of this Colony.
"These Acts are made and passed by our Assembly, for the Protection and Government of the Inhabitants on the Lands mentioned, to preserve Peace and good Order among them, to prevent Hostilities, Animosities, and Contentions among the People there, to promote public Justice, to discourage Vice and Iniquity, and to put a Stop to Intruders entering on those Lands.
"I am, with great Truth and Regard, Sir,
"Your most Obedient,
"JON th TRUMBULL.
"Honorable JOHN PENN, Esquire."
This act on the part of Connecticut gave a fresh impetus and marked out a new era for the inland settlements. Wyoming, thus ceasing to exist as a distinct republic, acknowledged only the laws and jurisdiction of Connecticut. The inhabitants of the valleys, always favoring peace and good order, naturally expressed a hope that their grievances, hitherto vexatious and fatal to their thrift, might be
lessened somewhat, if not entirely removed, by this affiliation. The Revolution, however, gave a different and more patriotic direction to the spirit of independence early inherited: else these intrepid sons, wielding alike the ax and the musket in either hand, would not have battled so long in vain for rights so stoutly upheld and denied them.
One of the most sluggish streams gathering its waters from the roof of the mountain dividing the Delaware and the Susquehanna, is the Wallenpaupack in Pike County, some thirty miles eastward of the Lackawanna, crossed by the solitary Indian path leading from the Delaware to Wyoming. Along this creek, the first permanent settlement began in 1774, and although miles of forest and mountain intervened, the earliest settlers, for many years, traveled over forty miles to Wilkes Barre, to election, court and public meetings of great importance. "Some time between the years 1750 and 1760", says Hon. Warren J. Woodward, Esq., in Miner's History of Wyoming, "a family named Carter settled upon the Wallenpaupack Creek. This is supposed to have been the first white family that ever visited the neighborhood. The spot upon which the house was built is in view of the road leading from Sterling, in Wayne county, to the Milford and Owego turnpike, seven miles southwest from Wilsonville. The old Indian path, from Cochecton to Wyoming, crossed the Wallenpaupack about thirty rods below the house of the Carters. During the French and Indian war, which commenced in 1756, the members of the family were all murdered, and the house was burned by a tribe of Indians in the service of the French. When the emigrants from Connecticut arrived on the banks of the Wallenpaupack, the chimney of the house and a stone oven alone were standing.
"When the first Wyoming emigrants from Connecticut
reached the Wallenpaupack, the main body halted, and some pioneers were sent forward, in a westerly direction, to procure intelligence of the position of the country on the Susquehanna. The pioneers followed the Indian path before alluded to, leading from Cochecton in New York, across the Leckawaxen, to the point on the Wallenpaupack below the Carter house, where there was an 'Indian clearing', and thence to the 'Indian clearings' on the Susquehanna. This path crossed 'Cobb's Mountain'. The pioneers attained the summit, from which the Susquehanna was in view, in the evening, and built up a large fire to indicate to the settlers the point to which they should direct their course. The next morning, the emigrants commenced their journey, building their road as they proceeded. That road, leaving the Sterling road before mentioned about a mile down the creek below the site of the Carter house, is the one which is now constantly traveled between Wilkes Barre and Milford. It is said to have been most judiciously located. The point on which the fire was built on Cobb's Mountain, was near the present residence of John Cobb., Esq., and is pointed out by the people residing on the Wallenpaupack to the present time.
"At some period, shortly before the Revolutionary War, a settlement was commenced at Milford, on the Delaware, now the capital of Pike county. The setlers were all Pennsylvanians. This was the only inhabited part of what now constitutes Wayne and Pike counties, except the Connecticut colony planted on the Wallenpaupack. The emigrants to the latter left Connecticut in 1774. Within a year after their arrival, two townships were erected under the names of Lackaway and Bozrah. The settlement extended four miles and a half along the creek. The farms still remain of the same size as originally fixed, and with two exceptions they still remain in the possession of the descendants of the settlers in 1774.
"One of the first labors of the settlers after their emigration,
was the erection of a fort. This fort, which was probably somewhat primitive in its construction, was a field containing about an acre, surrounded by a trench, into which upright pieces of hewed tmber were firmly fixed. The spot was selected from the circumstance of its containing a living spring. The fort was erected on the eastern side of the Sterling road, almost immediately opposite the point where the road leading through Salem, over Cobb's Mountain, and along the Lackawanna to the Wyoming settlements, called the 'Old Wyoming road', branches off from the Sterling road. It is six miles southwest from the hamlet now marked on the maps as Wilsonville. Within the inclosed space was a block-house, also built of squared pieces of hewed timber, upon the top of which was a sentry-box, made bullet-proof. There was, besides, a guard-house, standing just east of the block-house. The defenses were so constructed that a rifle-ball fired from the high ground on the east into the fort, would strike the palisades on the opposite side above a man's head. After the rumors of the Indian troubles on the Susquehanna reached the Wallenpaupack, the settlers constantly spent the night in the fort. The spring, whose existence and situation governed the colonists in their selection of a stronghold, still bubbles by the way-side, and nothing but a pile of loose stones indicates to the traveler the formidable neighborhood to which it has been exposed."
The losse-tongued tributary of the Lackawanna coming with shout and foam through the deep notch in the mountain between Abington and Providence, two miles north of Scranton, known as "Leggett's Creek", derived its name from James Leggett who emigrated from "ye Province of New york", in 1775, and erected his rude bark cabin at the mouth of the creek, still bearing his name. In the original draught of the township of
Providence by the Connecticut Susquehanna Company the wild land where Leggett cleared, had been allotted to Abraham Stanton. This was in 1772. In 1773 he transferred his right to John Staples. By a vote of the Susquehanna Company, Staple's claim to this forest-covered part of the township, was declared forfeited because of some dereliction of duty. It was next granted to David Thayer in 1774. Like preceding owners, neither of whom had cut a tree or cleared a foot of land, he escaped from ownership without becoming either richer or poorer by selling this and several tracts of land along upper Capoose to James Leggett in June, 1775, who was the first white man to make a clearing above Providence Village.
A little distance above the grist-mill of the late Judson Clark, Esq., in Providence, Leggett cleared a small spot to show the fertility of the soil, where he built his cabin on the bank of the creek in 1775; but the exciting aspect of border life, often rendered appalling by the howl of the wolf, or the whoop of the red-man reluctant to depart from a valley he had loved and lost, contributed so little to charm the solitude of his domestic life, that he abandoned his stumpy new land and retired to White Plains, New York.
After the close of the Revolutionary struggle, in which he took an honorable part, he returned to his clearing in Providence, and erected upon this creek the first sawmill clattering in this portion of the Lackawanna.
Benjamin Baily purchased a lot from Solomon Strong, below that of Leggett's, in 1775, selling it again the next year to Mr. Tripp "for a few furs and a flint gun". In 1777, Mathew Dalson boght 375 acres of land on "ye Capous River so called", bounded on the north by "Lands belonging to one Loggit". This purchase included lands now known as "Uncle Josh Griffin's farm."
While the pioneers up the Lackawanna were thus one by one stretching the boundaries of the settlement with vigorous stroke and handspike, Wyoming, feverish with the sanguinary and intermitting character of the contest alternating now with success and then with the expulsion of one party or the other, received from the young, but giant American Congress, the following resolution, dated in Congress, Dec. 20, 1775:--
"Whereas, a dispute Subsists between some of the Inhabitants of the Colony of Connecticut, Settled under the Claim of the Said Colony on the Lands near Wioming, on the Susquehannah River, and in the Delaware Country, and the Inhabitants Settled under the Claim of the proprietaries of Pennsylvania, which Dispute it is appehended will, if not Suspended during the present Troubles in these Colonies, be productive of pernicious Consequences which may be very prejudicial to the common Interest of the united Colonies--therefore
"Resolved, That is the Opinion of the Congress, and it is accordingly recommended that the contending parties immediately cease all Hostilities and avoid every Appearance of Force until the Dispute can be legally decided: that all property taken and detained be restored to the original Owners, that no Interruption be given by either party to the free passing and repassing of persons behaving themselves peaceably through said disputed Territory, as well by land as Water, without Molestation, either of person or property; that all persons seized on and detained on Account of said Dispute, be dismissed, and permitted to go to their Respective Homes, and that all things being put in the Situation they were before the late unhappy Contest, they continue to behave themselves peaceably on their respective possessions and Improvements untill a legal Decision can be had on said Dispute, or this Congress shall take further Order thereon. And nothing herein done shall be construed in prejudice of the Claims of either party.
"Ordered, that an authentic Copy of the resolution passed yesterday, relative to the Dispute between the people of Connecticut and Pennsylvania be transmitted to the contending parties.
"Extract from the Minutes.
"CHAS. THOMSON, Sec."
This resolution, by its temporary suspension of the authority of the land jobbers of Pennsylvania, gave partial repose to Wyoming and Lackawanna even in the midst of war, while the inhabitants, long harassed by fratricidal warfare, hoped to witness gleams of approaching peace.
FIRST ROAD FROM PITTSTON TO THE DELAWARE
During the year 1772, the first road from Pittston to the Delaware was made by the inhabitants. Previous to this, the Governor of Pennsylvania, at an official interview with Teedyuscung, in March, 1758, suggested to him the propriety of opening a great road from the head-waters of the Susquehanna down through Wyoming to Shamokin, to which the shrewd chief, from motives of interest, objected.
The nearest point from the Westmoreland Colony to the settlement on the Delaware in the vicinity of Stroudsburg, was about forty miles. From this the valley was separated by a country whose general features partook strongly of the sternness of the times, while the wilderness from Capoose eastward, swarming with beasts and savages, had through it no other road than that built with difficulty by the first party of emigrants to Wyoming, in 1769.
This followed the warriors' trail, which was simply widened by the felling of large trees and the removal of a few troublesome stones for the passage of a wagon.
Paths through the forest, made by the Indian centuries before, and trodden by the race that greeted the Pilgrims from the Mayflower's deck, or trees marked by the hunter or ax-man scouting far away from his rocky homestead, furnished the only guidance along the forest profound in the depth and extent of its solitute.
This natural privation to every frontier settlement in the earlier history of the country--the absence of roads--and the necessity of better communication with the parent State, or the nearer villages toward the Hudson, induced the proprietors and settlers holding their meeting in Wilkes Barre, October 2, 1772, to vote "that Mr. Durkins of Kingstown, Mr. Carey of Lockaworna, Mr. Goss for Plymouth, Mr. Danl. Gore for wilkesbarre, Mr. williiam Stewart for Hannover, are appointed a comtee to Draw subscriptions & se what they Can Git sighned by ye adjourned meeting for ye making a Rode from Dilleware River to Pitts-town."
At the adjourned meeting, held October 5, 1772, it was "voted that Esq. Tryp, Mr. John Jenkins, Mr. Daniel Gore, Mr. william Stewart are appointed Comtee-men to mark out ye Rode from Dilleware River to Pitts-town", etc.
This committee were to act until the completion of the road. October 12, 1772, "voted that Esq. Tryp is appointed to oversee those persons that shall from time to time be sent out from ye severall towns to work on ye Road from Dilleware River to this & so that ye work be Done according to ye Directions of ye Comtee, that was sent out to mark ye Road."
This road, then considered no usual achievement, was commenced in November, 1772; every person owning a settling right in the valley, or on "ye East Branch of the Susquehanna River", from the Indian village of
Capoose to the mouth of the stream, assisted toward its construction.
Wages paid then would hardly tempt the sluggard of to-day from his covert, for it was "voted, that those Persons that shall Go out to work on ye Rode from Dilleware River to ye westermost part of ye Great Swamp Shall Have three sillings ye day Lawfull money for ye time they work to ye Exceptance of ye overseors; and from ye Great Swamp this way, Shall Have one shilling and sixpence pr. Day and no more."
Isaac Tripp bring appointed to oversee the work, was allowed "Five Shillings Lawfull money pr. Day". This rough, hilly road, quite if not more important in its consequence to the people of the inland settlement of that day than any other pike or railroad subsequently has been to the valley, was at length completed, and it is said to have been judiciously located.
When this road was built, times were indeed perilous. Ninety-five years ago the settler fought against foes more savage and exasperated than the yellow panther or the bear. People in our day, familiar only with the smooth current of rural life, can hardly estimate the exposure and insecurity of that period. The pioneer, as he toiled on the plain or in the narrow clearing, kept closely at his side his sharpened knife and loaded musket, expecting every rustle of the leaf, every sound wafted by the gale springing up from the west, to announce the approach of the savage. And even when they slept within their lonely cabins, their arms stood freshly primed beside them awaiting the appearance of the foe.
In 1772, it was voted that each and every settler should provide himself with a flint-lock and ammunition, and
continue to guard around the threatened plantations until further notice.
In fact, the existence of all the settlements, as Connecticut settlements, on the Lackawanna or Susquehanna, became so doubtful at times, from the persistent assaults of the Pennymites, and the incursions of the savages, more stealthy yet less feared, that the settlers, occupied with thoughts of their common safety, met every fourteen days to practice military discipline and tactics.
At a meeting of the inhabitants and proprietors held March 22, 1773, it was voted, "that the Comtee of Settlers be Desired to send to the several towns or to their Comtee Requiring them to Call all the Inhabitants in Each of ye said towns to meet on Thursday Next at five a Clock in ye afternoon on sd. Day in some Convenient place, in sd. town, and that they then Chouse one Person in Each of sd. towns as an officer to muster them & so that all are oequipt according to Law with fire arms and ammunitions, & that they Chuse two Sergants a Clerk, & that the sd. Chieff officer is Hereby Commanded & Directed to Call ye Inhabitants together once in 14 Days for ye future until this Company orders otherwise, & that in Case of an allarm or ye appearance of an Enemy, he is Directed to Call ye sd. Inhabitants together & stand for ye Defense of ye sd. towns & settlements without any further order".
Order and discipline were not only observed in a military point of view, but were carried into every social, commercial, and domestic arrangement.
Thus by paying a trifle, settlers had voted to them an ear mark for cattle and sheep. The Records tell us that "Joseph Staples, his Ear mark a square Hole through ye Left Ear". "Job Tryp ye 2nd, His Ear mark--a smooth Cross of ye Left Ear, & a Half penne ye fore side of Each Ear." "William Raynold, his Ear mark a swallow's tail in ye left Ear & a Half Cross on ye Right Ear.
"Entered April 28th, 1774, pr. me Ezekial Pierce, Clerk."
John Phillip's ear mark was "a smooth cross of ye Right Ear & a Half penney ye fore side ye same."
Swine, too, had rigid laws imposed upon them.
A wandering one having intruded or broken into Mr. Rufus Lawrence's field of oats, "back in the woods", damaging thereby 15 bushels of oats, "August ye 23d, 1777, then ye above stray Hog was sold to ye Highest Bidder, & Simon Hodds was ye Highes Bidder, and Bid her of at
D.1 2 3
Constable fees for Posting the hog; 0 2 3
And travil to Kingstown District 0 1 3
Selling ye Hog 0 3 0
Clerk's Fee for Entiring,& c. 0 1 0
1 10 9
RELIGION, TEMPERANCE, AND STILL-HOUSES.
As there are no Colonial nor private records to be found of the early church movements in the Lackawanna Velley, even if any were made at the time, it is extremely difficult, if not quite impossible, to form any thing like a corect estimate of the moral and religious standard of the settlers at that day.
For religious purposes alone, the old Christian church standing in Hyde Park, was, with three exceptions, the first one erected in the valley. This was built in 1836. Some seven years previous to this, a church had been erected in Carbondale; in 1832, one was erected in Blakeley; in 1834, one was raised in Providence, and blown down the same year. The plain, substantial school-house or log-cabin, standing by the road-side, furnished hospitable places where meetings were held, without display or restraint, for very many years.
The French and Indian war, running from 1754 to 1763, impeded religious advancement throughout the entire Colonial dependencies, while the Indian troubles
subsequent to that period, the Revolutionary struggle, as well as the intestinal warfare in Wyoming, all seem to have been alike fatal to morals and life.
"Bundling", that easy but wicked habit of our gandfathers, appears to have been wonderfully prevalent at an early date long the valley as in many other portions of the country, and was not unfrequently attended with consequences that might naturally have been expected by a philosopher. Besides this, there is every reason to believe that the current morals of the day had the greatest liberty of standard, and that one prominent and almost universal characteristic of the people was the love of whisky, which was as terrible then as now. As early as 1757, it was found that giving an Indian half a gill of whisky, was attended with bad consequences.
The sale of whisky to them was wholly stopped and forbidden by the authories, in 1765, as it was perceived that much of the murderous agitation in the forest was caused by rum.
At Capoose or Wyoming, Indians were not permitted to drink the inspiring "fire-water", as can be seen by a vote of "the Propriators and Settlers Belonging to ye Susquehannah Purchase Legolly warned and Held in Wilkes-barre, December 7, 1772. Voted that Asa Stevens, Daniel Gore, and Abel Reine are appointed to Inspect into all ye Houses that Sell or Retail Strong Drink on forfiture of his or their Settling Right or Rights, and also forfit ye whole of ye Remainder of their Liquor to this Company, and that ye Comtee above are appointed to take care of ye Liquor Immediately."
The Yankee-like and agreeable provision of having the liquor forfeited, and the immediate care that was doubtless directed to it by those to whom it was intrusted, did not prevent its sale to the thirsty warriors, who were turbulent and dangerous when under its influence. Their
squaws, during their drunken frolics, were often cruelly beaten, and sometimes badly wounded.
Measures still more stringent and severe were adopted by the inhabitants afterward to prevent access to it by the neighboring savages. It was "voted that no Person or Persons, settlers or forrinors Coming into this place shall at any time hereafter Sell or Give to any Indian or Indians any Spiritous Lickquors on ye forfitures of all such Lickors and ye whole of all their Goods and Chattels, Rights, and Effects that they Have on this Purdhase; and also to be voted out of this Company, unless upon some extraordinary reason, as sickness, etc., without Liberty first had and obtained of ye Comtee of Settlers, or Leave from ye Comtee that is appointed to Into them affairs."
In 1772 there was but one licensed house in the valley to sell spirituous liquor. This committee, composed of Avery, Tripp, and others, met in Wilkes Barre, in June, 1772, "at six a Clock in ye forenoon", where, in the simple language of the day, they resolved that, "Whereas there is and may be many Disorders Committed by ye Retailing of Spiritous Lichquor in small Quanteties to ye Indian Natives, which Disorders to prevent it is now Voted, that there shall be but one Publick house to Retail Speriteous Lichquors in small Quonteties in Each of the first towns, and that Each Person for ye Purpose of Retailing, as aforsd. shall be appointed by the Comtee they Belong; and that they and each of them shall be under the Direction of sd. Comtee, by whom they are appointed, Not Repugnant to ye Laws of the Colony of Connecticutt, and that such retailors that shall not Duly observe such Directions and Restrictions as they shall severally receive from sd. Comtee, shall on complaint made to this Company, shall see Cause to Inflict, Not Exceeding his or their Settling Right, Regard being Had to ye Nature and agrevation of ye offence".
At this time there was no still-house in the colony. An embargo was, for a short time, laid upon the transportation of grain. Dec. 18 1772, it was voted at the town meeting, "that no Person or Persons Now Belonging to the Susquhanna Purchase, from the 18th Day of the present December, until ye first Day of May Next, shall sell to any person or Forrinor or Stranger any Indian Corn, Rye, or Wheat to Carry Down the River out of ye Limits of this Purchase."
In fact, the amount of grain then raised both in Wyoming and Lackawanna, was so scanty and limted, that within all the country now embraced by Luzerne County, no half bushel measure was required until 1772. It was then voted "that this Company shall at ye Cost & Charge of this Company as soon as may be, send out to ye Nearest County town in ye Coloney's & Procure a Sealed Half Bushel & a peck measure & one Gallon pot, Quort pott, point pot, Half point & Gill measure, for a Standard and Rule for this Company to by soon as may, and also sutable weights as ye Law Providedes, etc."
Nothing, however, contributed so much toward establishing still-houses here than the absence of a market for the grain raised upon the lowlands in great abundance. Whisky had a commercial and an accepted importance, superior to the depreciated Continental currency, besides it had the virtue of always being ready and practical in its application. One gallon of whisky, being worth fifteen or twenty cents, was deemed equivalent to a bushel of rye. Wheat was carried in huge wagons to Easton, a distance of nearly seventy miles through the wilderness, and exchanged for large iron kettles for boiling maple sap into sugar. The journey generally took a week, and the wheat brought from seventy to eighty cents per bushel. The kettles were hired out to persons having maple woods; one pound of sugar per year being given for each gallon held by the rented vessel. The maple sugar, run into cakes of every conceivable variety and size, was worth
five cents per pound, and was for a long time the only kind used in the settlement.
The isolated condition of the settlers, stern and somber in many respects, was not without its gleams of sunshine. When the wool was gathered from the sheep, or the well-dressed flax ready for the spindle, the young and blooming girls, according to the custom of the people, assembled at some point in the neighborhood, generally under the shade of some tree, with their "spinning-wheels"; where, in a single afternoon, knot after knot of yarn came from their nimble hands, which afterward was woven and whitened into sheets for the coming bride. Dressed in red-dyed fabrics, manufactured by their own tidy hands, they brought with their simple gear and glowing cheeks more pleasure, and gave more artless charms to the maiden not ashamed to toil in field or house, than all the duabs of to-day bestow upon the thoughtless wearer.
In the clear, crisp edge of an evening in autumn, came troops of boys from remote parts of the valley, on foot or on horseback, as was the custom to travel from place to place; if women rode, it was behind the man upon the horse's back. As the spinning or husking ceased, the enjoyments of the evening began. The supper-table was now spread by clean hands, with rye-bread, pumpkin-pies, "Jonny-cake", and dough-nuts, whisky, and rich milk, and when all were gathered around it, many were the good wishes and sweet words whispered behind a pile of dough-nuts or friendly bowl. Some boisterous games closed up the amusements of the evening, when in the soft light of an autumn moon, the "gals"--as all women at that day were called--wended their way slowly homeward with their beaus.
In accordance with the New England habit, Saturday night, if any, was observed instead of Sunday evening. With the sunset of Saturday night all labors closed until the following Sunday at sundown. The youth went to see his sweetheart on Saturday evening, as it then was
considered the regular time for courting. As "many hands make light work" the older people often met for a "logging bee",--a way of destroying logs, by rolling them in heaps and burning them; which was at one time the only mode of getting rid of some of the finest timber growing in a new country , before railroads, with their iron nets caught up the products of the forest from the spoilers' handspike.
The coarser grain being turned into the stilll-house, made whisky so cheap that no "husking", "raising", or "logging bee", nor any public business or social meetings of the inhabitants took place without this abundant product of the still.
The negative spirit of moraliy prevailing in all the settlements as early as 1773, not coming up to the rigid standard of New England proprietary, led the better class of inhabitants, at a meeting of the Proprietors held at Wilkes Barre, Feb'y 16, of this year, even in the midst of commotion, to appoint a committee composed of William Stewart, Isaac Tryp, Esq., and others "to draw a plan in order to suppress vise and immorality that abounds so much amongst us, and carry ye same before ye next meeting."
Twenty-five years later, the progressive measures of public morals are recorded in the following curious deed of land, bearing date August 15, 1798, from Messrs. Baldwin and Faulkner to Joseph Fellows:--
"Know all Men by these Presents, that we Waterman Baldwin & Robert Faulkner, both of Pittstown in the County of Luzerne, in the State of Pennsylvania, being desirous to promote the interest and general Welfare of said Pittstown, and to encourage and enable Joseph Fellows of the said Town, County and State, To erect a Malt-house and Beer-house, which we conceive will prove of general utility to our neighborhood, as also in
consideration of Fifty cents to each of us paid by the said Joseph Fellows to our full satisfaction, &c., sell to said Fellows a certain piece of land for the purposes just named."
In 1800, eight still or beer houses stood along the Lackawanna from its mouth to the upper border of Capoose, in prosperous operation, located as follows: Asa Dimock and Joseph Fellows, each had one never idle in Pittston; Mr. Hubbuts, another in Lackawanna; Benjamin and Ebenezer Slocum owned two in Slocum Hollow; Captain John Vaughn and Mr. Stevens operated one in upper Providence (now Blakeley), while Stephen and Isaac Tripp each ran with vigor their separate stills upon Tripp's Flats; all distilling the cheap and surplus corn and rye into a beverage finding a ready market. Located as it were almost before every man's door, these institutions, looked upon with favor by the yeomanry of the valley, drew from the ripened grain the bewildering draught, used from the cradle to the grave. Children put to sleep by eating bread soaked in whisky and maple sirup, gave no trouble to mother or nurse, as they grew rapidly in stature and good-nature. And yet popular as was this beverage everywhere in Pennsylvania, striking the brightest intellects or narcotizing the feeblest conceptions, its adulteration was so well understood by Daniel Broadhead, commander of Fort Pitt in 1780, who, when officially informed that a requisition for 7,000 gallons of whisky had been made for the troops in the District of Westmoreland, indulged in the hope that "we shall yet be allowed some liquor which is fit to drink."
If the morals of the community a century ago, took some romantic strolls to suit the taste or condition of the pioneers, they were in a great measure vindicated by the necessities which instituted them. But little gold or silver found its way into the settlement, bank bills were
uknown, and as the Revolutionary Scrip, treasured by few, had but indifferent value, the commercial agency of whisky was recognized in all the laws of trade with the same uniformity and force that the Indians in their political economy acknowledged the currency of Zeawan or wampum. Property changed hands, and many a settler acquired a peaceful title to wild domans by the exchange of a few gallons of whisky.
These still-houses were well patronized, and brought incipient fortunes to their possessors, because they were thus sustained by men who prized and practiced the largest latitute of liberty.
In 1788, the only person recommended to the Supreme Executive Council of Pennsylvania as suitable to keep a house of entertainment in Pittston, was Waterman Baldwin. The next year he was indicted for keeping a tippling-house and fined five pounds. The next person in the Lackawanna Valley receiving a license from the Governor of Pennsylvania to open a tavern, in 1791, was Johnathan Davies.
SAW AND GRIST MILLS.
Logs rolled up in their rough state into a log-house, with every crevice chinked with mud, or bark peeled from the tree and shaped by the aid of young saplings into a wigwam-like cabin, rude and diminutive in outline, formed the only dwelling of the pioneer a century ago. Ash-trees ungracefully split by the beetle and wedge into thin layers, or the more readily prepared bark, afforded roofing, whose special purpose seemed to be to let in every unwelcome element, without regard to economy or comfort.
As the settlement expanded up the rich and narrow valley, the need of a saw and grist mill became so urgent, that in the summer of 1774, one of each was built by the township of Pittstown below "Ye Great Falls in the
Lackawanna River." The same year, they were both purchased by Solomon Strong, and from him they passed into the hands of Garrit Brinkorkoof, July 6, 1775. They were the first mills erected on the bank of the Lackawanna. After doing good service to the settlement, both mills were destroyed, either by the spring freshets or the torch of the Tories and Indians, leaving in 1778 but a single dwelling unharmed along the entire Lackawanna--that of Ebenezer Marcy. The waterfall here was so admirably adapted to mill purposes, and the straight pine, green with its foliage, running from creek to mountain, seemed so easy of conquest, that Solomon Finn and Elephat L. Stevens were induced to build a saw-mill at this point in 1780. Down the steep bank, opposite the upper end of Everhart's Island in Pittston, half a mile above the depot of the L.& B.R.R., totter the walls of a fallen grist-mill, once standing upon the foundation of this old saw-mill. The song of its jarring saw, sent far up and down the wooded glen in olden times, long since has ceased to tell the story of its former usefulness and glory.
In 1798, Isaac Tripp and his son Stephen, built a small grist-mill on Leggitt's Creek, in Providence, but the dam, thrice built and thrice washed away, owing to defective construction, proving a failure, the mill was abandoned. The next grist-mill built upon this stream still farther up in the Notch, was erected in 1815 by Ephraim Leach.
A saw-mill was built upon the Lackawanna, in Blakeley Township in 1812, by Moses Vaughn; in 1814, Timothy Stevens, a mill-wright of some character, erected a grist-mill above this point; in 1816, Edmund Harford began another one upon one of the fairest of the upper tributaries of the Wallenpaupack, in Wayne County, a few miles above the ancient Lackawa settlement.
DR. JOSEPH SPRAUGE
With the first party of adventurers coming into Wyoming, there came no physician, because the invigorating character of exercise and diet enjoyed by the pioneer, whose daily life, enlivened by the choir of falling trees or the advancing ax, knew the want of no medical representative, until Dr. Joseph Sprauge came from Hartford in 1771.
Of the yet uninhabited forest, called in the ancient records "Ye Town of Lockaworna", whose upper boundaries extended nearly to the present village of Scanton, Dr. Sprauge was one of the original proprietors. To dispose of lotd or pitches to the venturing woodsman, probably contributed more to bring him hither than any expectation of professional emoluments or advantage in a wilderness, making, in the hands of the Indian, a materia medica which no disease could gainsay or resist.
His first land sales were made in May, 1772. For a period of thirteen years, with the exception of the summer of 1778, Dr. Sprauge lived near the Lackawanna, between Springbrook and Pittston, in happy seclusion, fishing, hunting, and farming, until, with the other Yankee settlers, he was driven from the valley, in 1784, by the Pennymites. He died in Connecticut the same year.
His widow, known throughout the settlement far and near, as "Granny Sprauge", returned to Wyoming in 1785, and lived in a small log-house then standing in Wilkes Barre, on the southwest corner of Main and Union streets. She was a worthy old lady, prompt, cheerful, successful, and, at this time, the sole accoucheur in all the wide domain now embraced by Luzerne and Wyoming counties. Although of great age, as late as 1810 her obstetrical practice surpassed that of any physician in this
portion of Pennsylvania. For attending a case of accouchement, no matter how distant the journey, how long or fatiguing the detention, this sturdy, faithful woman invariably charged one dollar for service rendered, although a larger fee was never turned away, if any one was able or rash enough to offer it.
DR. WILLIAM HOOKER SMITH AND OLD FORGE.
If the Lackawanna Valley owes its earliest explorations and settlement wholly to Moravian fugitives, who, to escape persecution, fled from the banks of the Neckar and the Elbe to the yet untroubled plateau above the Blue Mountains, in 1742, it owes to the memory of the late Dr. William Hooker Smith, whose mind first recognized and faintly developed its mineral treasures, its grateful acknowledgements.
He emigrated from "ye Province of New York", and located in the Wilkes Barre clearing in 1772, where he purchased land in 1774.
The Doctor's father was a Presbyterian clergyman living in the city of New York, and the only minister there of this denomination in 1732; and such was the feebleness of his congregation, that he preached one-third of his time at White Plains. (see footnote)
As a surgeon and physician, his abilities were of such high order that he occupied a position in the colony, as gratifying to him as it was honorable to those enjoying his undoubted skill and experience. With the exception of Dr. Sprauge, Dr. Smith was the only physician in 1772 living between Cochecton and Sunbury, a distance of one hundred and fifty miles.
The formation of Luzerne County created positions of trust and honor, among which was the magisterial one; and although the doctor was a Yankee by birth, habit and education, such confidence was reposed in his capacity
(Footnote: Hist. Col., N.Y.)
and integrity, that he was chosen the first justice in the fifth district of the new county. His commission, signed by Benj. Franklin, then President of the Supreme Executive Council of Pennsylvania, bears date May 11, 1787.
In 1779, he marched with the troops under General Sullivan into the Indian country along the upper waters of the Susquehanna, and by his cheerfulness and example taught the soldiers to endure their hardhsips and fatigues, taking himself an earnest part in that memorable expedition which brought such relief to Wyoming and such glory to the American arms.
Nor did Congress, prompted by noble impulses, forget his services as acting surgeon in the army, when, in 1838, $2,400 was voted to his heirs.
That his mind, active, keen, and ready, looked beyond the ordinary conceptions of his day, is shown by his purchased right, in 1792, to dig iron ore and stone coal in Pittston, long before the character of coal as a heating agent was understood, and the same year that the hunter Gunther accidentally discovered "black-stones" on the broad, Bear Mountain nine miles from Mauch Chunk.
These purchases, attracting no other notice than general ridicule, were made in Exeter, Plymouth, Pittston, Providence, and Wilkes Barre, between 1791-8. The first was made July 1, 1791, of Mr. Scot, of Pittston, who, for the sum of five shillings, Pennsylvania money, sold "one half of any minerals, ore of iron, or other metal which he, the said Smith, or his heirs, or assighns, may discover on the hilly lands of the said John Scot by the red spring."
Old Forge derived its name from Dr. Smith, who, after his return from Sullivan's expedition, located himself permanently here on the rocky edge of the Susquehanna, beside the sycamore and oak, where first in the valley the sound of the trip-hammer reverberated, or mingled with the hoarse babblings of its water. The forge was erected
by Dr. Smith and James Sutton in the spring of 1789, for converting ore into iron. It stood immediately below the falls or rapids in the stream, about two miles above its mouth, and not far from the reputed location of the silver mine before spoken of. Before the erection of these iron-works none existed in Westmoreland except those in Newport, operating in 1777.
"My recollections of Pittston and Old Forge", wrote the late Hon. Charles Miner, in a letter to the writer, twelve years ago, "are all of the most cheerful character. I have, at the old tavern, on the bank of the river above the ferry, seen the son of Capt. Dethic Hewit, the gallant old fellow, who, in the battle, when told 'See, Capt. Hewit, the left wing has given away, and the Indians are upon us; shall we retreat? answered to his negro drummer, Skittish Pomp, 'No, I'll see them damned first', and fell. His son was at the house, and sang with the spirit his father fought--
"So sweetly the horn
Called me up in the morn', &c., &c.
"But to the Forge.
"The heaps of charcoal and bog ore, half a dozen New Jersey fireman at the furnace! What life! What clatter! And then at the mansion, on the hill, might be seen the owner, Dr. Wm. Hooker Smith, now nearly super-annuated, who, in his day, was the great physician of the valley during the war, and if, perchance, the day was fine, and his family on the parterre, you might see his daughters, unsurpassed in beauty and grace, whose every movement was harmony that would add a charm to the proudest city mansion."
The doctor was a plain, practical man, a firm adherent of the theory of medicine as taught and practiced by his sturdy ancestors a century ago. He was an unwavering phlebotomist. Armed with huge saddle-bags rattling with gallipots and vials and thirsty lance, he sallied forth on
horseback over the rough country calling for his services, and many were the cures issuing from the unloosed vein. No matter what the nature or location of the disease, how strong or slight the assailing pain, bleeding promptly and largely, with a system of diet, drink, and rest, was enforced on the patient with an earnestness and success that gave him a wide-spread reputation as a physician.
The forge prospered for years--two fires and a single trip-hammer manufacturing a considerable amount of iron, which was floated down the Susquehanna in Durham boats and large canoes. The impure quality and small quantity of ore found and wrought into iron, with knowledge and machinery alike defective; the labor and expense of smelting the raw material into ready iron in less demand down the Susquehanna, where forges and furnaces began to blaze; the natural infirmities of age, as well as the rival forge of Slocum's, at Slocum Hollow, all ultimately disarmed Old Forge of its fire and trip-hammer.
After leaving the forge, he removed up the Susquehanna, near Tunkhannock, where full of years, honor, and usefulness, he died in 1815, among his firends, at the good old age of 91.
THE SIGNAL TREE.
As the emigrant from Connecticut found himself, after a long journey, on one of the peaks of the Moosic Mountain, five miles northeast from Scranton, overlooking the fertile plain of Wyoming, twenty miles away, he could discover, by the naked eye, when the day was clear, looming up from the surrounding trees, covering the mountains northwest of Wyoming, a pine-tree, majestic in its height, its trunk shorn of its limbs almost to its very top, resembling, from the marked umbrel spread of its foliage, a great umbrella, with the handle largely disproportioned. This is the tree known as the signal tree. Over the deep foliage of trees surrounding, this one floats with an air of
a monarch, catching, as the sun sinks away in the west, the latest glimpse of its rays. "Tuttle's Creek", famous for its Pennymite history and local interest, leads its sluggish way through Kingston, from which this grand pitch-pine is plainly visible. Tradition tells that at the time of the battle, an Indian was stationed in the top of the tree, so that when the defeat of the whites was announced by the louder peals of the war-whoop, he commenced to cut off the limbs of the tree, and as this could be seen many miles from every direction, parties of Indians were thus informed to watch the paths leading out of the valley and prevent the escape of the fugitives. This, however, is mere tradition. A more reasonable interpretation of the matter is this: Some years ago one of the knots of this tree was removed, and from the concentric rings or yearly growths indicated by them, the lopping of the limbs was dated back to 1762--the first year a settlement was commenced here by the whites--thus showing quite clearly that the tree had been trimmed previous to the massacre, and that it had been used by the emirating parties form Connecticut as a guiding tree to the Wyoming lands, where a colony, with no roads but the warrriors' pathway, and but little knowledge of a reliable character of the locality of the new country, crossed the frowning mountains, mostly on foot, and made a permanent residence in 1769.
Evidence of fracture, made by the ax or hatchet, a century ago, upon the limbs, has been so obliterated by intervening years, that the indifferent and unskilled observer looks in vain for the cause of the absent limbs.
THE WYOMING MASSACRE.
The summer of 1778, momentous in the history of the Lackawanna Valley, witnessed either the slaughter, capture, or flight of every white person within its border. There is no data to determine the exact population of
the Lackawanna portion of the Wyoming possessions in 1774. Westmoreland, embracing all the settlements on the Susquehanna from Athens to Wyoming, and from Wallenpaupack to the mouth of the Lackawanna, had about 2,300 inhabitants at this time. Of this number, Wyoming, with its broad productive acres, had a large proportion, because of the greater protection of its sheltering block-houses. Seventy-five or about one hundred persons, probably enumerated the whole united population of the Lackawanna Valley at the commencement of the American Revolution. These shared in the deliberations and dangers of their brethren along the Susquehanna.
Although the people of Connecticut met at Hartford in September, 1774, to devise measures of resistance to British wrong, her young colony at Wyoming, just formed into the town of Westmoreland, absorbed with the Provincial conflict, now interrupted and then resumed, had done nothing in the way of building forts, or preparing for the bloodier wrestle for independence, until it had actually begun. At a town meeting, "legally warned and held in Westmoreland, Wilkes Barre district, Aug. 24th, 1776", it was unanimously voted that the people erect forts in Hanover, Plymouth, Wilkes Barre, and Pittston at once, at points deemed most judicious by the military committee, "without either fee or reward from ye town."
This was done so generally, that before the battle on Abraham's Plains, July 3, 1778, there stood eight forts in Wyoming Valley, constructed principally of logs.
On the high bank of the river, nearly opposite Pittston, where a large spring of water emerges from the plain, there had settled a Tory named Wintermoot, who, after clearing sufficient land, erected a rude stockade or fort, known as Wintermoot's Fort. Although this simple fact
afforded no evidence of Tory proclivities, its erection at this point, at this exciting period, justly aroused the suspicions of the loyal element in the neighborhood, and led to the erection of another a mile above Wintermoot's, where lived the acknowledged patriotic families of the Hardings and Jenkinses. It stood in the narrow defile in the mountain nearly opposite Campbell's Ledge, a mile above the mouth of the Lackawanna.
To meet some of the demands of war, Congress called upon Connecticut, in August, 1776, to raise two companies of eighty-four men each for the defense of Westmoreland. Wyoming promptly furnished them. No sooner, however, was the number complete, than Congress itself in jeopardy, and yet unremitting in its efforts to raise troops, saw with concern the critical and greater needs of the country elsewhere. The American army, of about 14,000 men, under General Washington, had been driven from Long Island and New York by the British army, numbering 25,000. Forts Washington and Lee, on the Hudson, had fallen. With only 3,000 brave men, General Washington retreated to Newark, and was driven from camp to camp with his half-fed, ill-clothed, yet unswerving soldiers, crossing the Delaware as the victorious British approached Philadelphia. At this dark moment in the nation's history, Congress, which had hastily adjourned the same day from Philadelphia to Baltimore, hardly appreciating the perils menacing Wyoming, ordered the two companies raised for its defense to join the commander-in-chief "with all possible expedition". This being done, Wyoming was left comparatively defenseless.
Events of vast importance began to develop in many parts of the country, and excite apprehension in the mind of the patriot. Burgoyne, with victorious troops, was sweeping down from the Canadian frontier, accompanied by his red and white skinned auxiliaries, ready for pillage or revenge. Ticonderoga had fallen into his hands, and
while General Howe was corwding up victory after victory in New York and New Jersey, the Indians living along the upper branches of the Susquehanna and Chenango, restless and joyous with the hope held out by Brant and Butler of retaining their lost Wyoming, became unanimous and sanguinary allies. Parties of them were seen, here and there, emerging from the mountain forest into the valley, shedding no blood, destroying no property, but securing a captive at every possible opportunity. The whole settlement saw and felt the coming danger. Scouting parties of bold eperienced woodmen, were sent out daily from the valley to watch the three great war-paths radiating from it, while drillings or trainings were held every fourteen days, when the old and young, the feeble and the strong, drilled side by side in their country's service; expecting every bark of the watch-dog, or click of the rifle, to give note of the approach of the exasperated bands.
The colony, now (1778) nine years old, had, out of its total population of about 2,000 persons, 168 in the main army under General Washington, when the meditated attack on Wyoming came to the knowledge of the inhabitants. A large body of Indians and Tories had assembled at Niagara and at Tioga for this purpose; the Indians being under the command of the famous chief of mixed blood, named Brant, or Gi-en-gwah-toh. (see footnote) The time of attack was probably suggested by the Tories expelled from Wyoming, wishing for the bloodiest revenge upon the settlement, known to be almost without soldiers, or fire-arms.
From the lower Susquehanna, the Delaware, the far-off Lackawaxen, from the few low wigwams serving the wild men on the Lackawanna, the Indians were summoned by the Great Chieftain to Oh-na-gua-ga, to join the enterprise, while the Tories throughout Westmoreland simultaneously repaired to the enemy.
(Footnote: "He who goes in the smoke."--Col. Stone)
Early in the spring of 1778, Congress had been apprised by General Schuyler of the threatened attack, but so engaged was this body in this all-absorbing struggle for national existence, that nothing was, or could be done for the safety of Wyoming until March 16, 1778, when it was resolved "that one full company of foot be raised" here for its defense. This really furnished no assistance, as the men were compelled "to find their arms, accoutrements, and blankets" from the exhausted resources of the interior.
Congress has been censured by the historian in no flattering terms, for not recalling to Wyoming the absent soldiers under Captains Durkee and Ransom; but it must be remembered that the remnant of Washington's army was retreating before the superior and exulting forces of the British, and had not its exhausted strength been invigorated sufficiently by re-enforcements to check and drive back the invaders, it is impossible to estimate the consequences to the country to-day. Independence would have been retarded, and possibly postponed forever.
In May, 1778, the first life was taken in Westmoreland, near Tunkhannock, by the Indians, who each day became more defiant and numerous. A day or two afterward, a scouting party of six persons were fired upon, a few miles farther down the river, by a body of savages lurking along the war-path; two whites were wounded, and one fatally, when, springing into their canoe, they escaped down the Susquehanna. Alarm spread throughout the entire settlement. Persons living along the Lackawanna at Capoose, apparently remote from danger reaching even the outer towns, either deserted their homes and sought protection in the forts, or fled to the parent State for greater security. The terror of the inhabitants, already wrought up to a fearful pitch, was still increased by an event simple in its character, yet tragic in its meaning.
"Two Indians, formerly residents of Wyoming, and acquainted with the people, came down with their squaws
on a visit, professing warm friendship; but suspicions existed that they were spies, and directions were given that they should be carefully watched. An old companion of one of them, with more than Indian cunning, professing his attachment to the natives, gave his visitor drink after drink of his favorite rum, when in the confidence and the fullnes of his maudlin heart, he avowed that his people were prepared to cut off the settlement; the attack to be made soon, and that they had come down to see and report how things were. The squaws were dismissed, but the two Indians were arrested and confined in Forty Fort."
Men heard this intelligence with lips compressed and determined, and at once prepared to receive those with whom they were so soon to converse from the throat of the musket. Every instrument of death was examined and fitted for immediate use. Guns were repaired and fitted with new flints, bayonets were sharpened, bullets molded, powder made and distributed, and every man and boy able to shoulder a musket, fell into the ranks of a new militia company formed by Captain Dethic Hewit, or joined the daily train-bands, expecting the latest messenger to herald the approach of the invaders. Two deserters from the British army, one by the name of Pike, from Canada, and the other a sergeant named Boyd, from Boston, Miner relates "were particularly useful in training the militia."
While these preparations were being made along the excited valley, beyond succor offered by Connecticut, and withheld by Pennsylvania, the Indians, Tories, and British, darkened the waters of the Susquehanna at Ta-hi-o-ga with a fleet of rafts, river-boats, and canoes, preparatory to a descent upon the "Large Plains".
In all the wide expanse of territory, within the limtis of Westmoreland--about seventy miles square--there was
no larger field-piece than the old flint musket, with the exception of a single cannon at the Wilkes Barre Fort. This was a four-pounder, of no use, as no suitable balls were in the settlement, and had been brought into the colony merely for an alarm-gun in the Yankee and Pennymite war. The force of the Americans, without appropriate arms, discipline, or strength, amounted to about four hundred persons, to resist the attack of nearly four times their number.
The enemy, numbering about four hundred British provincials, six or seven hundred Seneca and Mohawk Indians, in paint and war-costume, familiar with every part of Wyoming, a large body of Tories gathered from afar, commanded by Colonel John Butler, a British officer, and accompanied by the notorious Brant, an Iroquois chief, left their rendezvous on Tioga River, descended the Susquehanna below the mouth of Bowman's Creek, near Tunkhannock, about twenty miles above the head of the Valley of Wyoming, where they landed on the west bank of the river. Here, in a deep, sharp curve in the river, they moored their boats, marching across a rugged spur of the mountain, thus shortening the distance a number of miles. On the 30th of June, just at the edge of the evening, they arrived on the western mountain, a little distance above the Tory fort of Wintermoot's. This fort, standing about one mile below Fort Jenkins, probably owed its inception to some ulterior design of the British and Tories, whom it served so well. From Fort Jenkins, eight persons having neither notice nor suspicion of the proximity of the enemy, had gone up the valley into Exeter to work upon their farms, a little distance from the fort, taking with them their trusty and ever-attending weapons of defense, with their agricultural utensils. While unsuspectingly engaged at their work, which they were about closing for the day, they were surrounded by a portion of the invading army, with a view of making them prisoners, so that the British
Butler might learn the actual state and strength of the Wyoming people.
Surprised but not intimidated by the fearful odds against them, they chose to die by the bullet rather than risk the hatchet or the torturing scalping knife brandished before them. They fought for a short time, killing five of the enemy, three Tories and two Indians, when four of their own number fell, and were hacked into shreds by the exasperated savages; three were taken alive, while a single boy leaped into the river, and, aided by the gray twilight of evening, was enabled to escape, amid a hundred pursuing bullets. One of the slain was a son of the barbarous Queen Esther, who accompanied the expedition with her tribe, and whose cruelties at the "bloody rock", inspired with greater atrocity from the recent loss of her offspring, forever connects her name with infamy.
Two Indians who were watching the mutilated remains of the dead, for the purpose of kiling or capturing the friends who might seek the bodies at night, were shot by Zebulon Marcy, from the Lackawanna side of the river. For several years, Mr. Marcy was hunted and watched by a brother of one of the Indians swearing that he would have revenge. Although Marcy's house was the only one left standing along the Lackawanna in 1778, from some unexplained Indian freak, he was never harmed by them.
Fort Jenkins, thus bereft of its protectors, capitulated the same evening to Captain Caldwell, while the united forces of Butler and Brant bivouacked at the friendly Tory quarters of Fort Wintermoot. No sooner did the dull report of musketry, echoing from under Campbell's Ledge down the valley, denote the presence of the foe, than the real critical position of the settlement at the mercy of the coming wave, was appreciated in all its
sternness. Men not accustomed to scour the woods for miles in the vicinity of their homes to discover Indian trails, and give warning to their neighbors and families of suspicious approach or retreat, would have shrunk from the fierce-coming struggle with dismay; but these self-reliant men left the scythe in the swath, the plow in the furrow, and, gathering up the weak and weping ones, hurried them to Forty Fort. This fort stood on the west bank of the river, below Monockonock Island, and three miles above Wyoming Fort, where, in a short time, were collected the principal forces of Wyoming Valley, consisting of three hundred and sixty-eight men, very indifferently armed and equipped. On the Lackawanna side of the river, at Pittston, nearly opposite Wintermoot's, Fort Borwn had been erected; this was garrisoned by the settlers form the lower portion of the Lackawanna and Pittston, numbering about forty men, under the command of Captain Blanchard. Another company was at Capoose.
By the aid of spies, full of strategem and daring, continually reconnoitering the unharvested plains upon either side of the river, Col. John Butler learned how completely at his mercy was the entire valley, unless re-enforcements hoped for by the Connecticut people, and expected from the main army, should arrive and drive back his mongrel horde. Already were the two upper forts in his possession, with all the canoes and means of crossing the river, but not wishing to bring his Indians into the excitement of a general battle, where, becoming infuriated and ungovernable after a victory, scenes of torture and bloodshed might be enacted too revolting to witness, and yet too general and wide-spread to check, he sent one of the prisoners taken in Exeter to Col. Zebulon Butler, on the morning of the day of battle, accompanied by a Tory and an Indian, demanding the immediate surrender, not only of the fort he commanded, but of all others in the valley, with all the public property, as well
as the militia company of Capt. Hewit, as prisoners of war. It can be said to his credit that he also suggested to the commander of Forty Fort the propriety of destroying all intoxicating drinks, provided these considerate terms were rejected; "for", said the British Butler, "drunken savages can't be controlled." The acceptance of these apparently exacting bu really liberal terms, was urged by some, in hopes that the tide of slaughter might be stayed; the majority opposed it, and the messenger was sent away with this decision.
A council of war was immediately held in the fort. While a few hoped that the absent military companies would arrive, and furnish re-enforcements able to offer battle and expel the enemy from Wyoming, if a few days intervened; others more rash and impulsive replied that the force concentrated in the fort could march out upon the plains, where the enemy were encamped, and, being familiar with the ground, could surprise and possibly capture them; that many of their homes already lit by the torch, their crops destroyed--that the murder of the Hardings at Fort Jenkins was but the prelude to the drama about to redden Wyoming, unless interrupted by prompt offensive measures, and that they were anxious and determined to fight. Unfortunately this counsel prevailed.
With the colonial development in Westmoreland had grown the love of rum. So fixed, so general, in fact, had become this pernicious and unmanning habit--so essential was whisky regarded in its sanative and commerical aspect, that one of the first buildings of a public character erected in the colony, after a stockade or fort, was a still or brew house. The almost universal custom of drinking prevailed at this time to an alarming extent, not only throughout the Lackawanna and Wyoming settlements, but along the whole frontier of upper Pennsylvania.
"It being known that among the stores there was a quantity of whisky, Col. Butler desired it might be destroyed, for he feared if the Indians became intoxicated he could not restrain them. The barrels were rolled to the bank, the heads knocked in, and the liquor emptied into the river."
The venerable and yet intelligent Mr. Deborah Bedford, one of the last survivors of the Wyoming massacre, informed the writer in 1857 that, "in accordance with the request of Col. Butler, all the liquor in the fort was rolled out and emptied into the Susquehanna, with the exception of a single barrel of whisky, spared for medicinal purposes. The head of this was knocked in during the council of war", and as "the debates are said to have been conducted with much warmth and animation", it is more than possible that the inspiring influence of this barrel contributed, to a certain extent, toward the result of the deliberations. "A hard fight was expected up the valley", continued the reliable lady, from whose young, anxious eye nothing escaped in the fort, "and as the drum and fife struck up an animating air, while the soldiers marched out the fort one by one, a gourd-shell, floating in the inviting beverage, was filled, and passed to each comrade, and drank."
Motives, alike natural and delicate, have hitherto suppressed evidence showing that if some of the soldiers, brave as they might have been, and were, had not "taken a little too much", their ideas of their own strength were singularly confused and exalted. However pleasant it might be to pass by this great error of the times--an error which rendered certain and merciless the fate of Wyoming--with the same studied silence and charity observed by others, justice to the living, uttering no censure, and to the dead, needing no defense, demands a truthful record.
Col. George Dorrance, an officer whose prudent counsels to remain in the fort were disregarded, was taunted with cowardice because of his counter-advice against this death-march up the valley.
The forces of Brant and Col. John Butler were at Wintermoot's Fort, opposite Pittston. To silently reach this point, and, protected by the large pine-trees sheltering the plain, spring on the enemy unawares, was the plan finally adopted. The little band, on the afternoon of the 3d of July, numbering about 350 of the sturdiest remaining settlers, under the command of Colonel Zebulon Butler, left the fort amid the paryers of dear and devoted kindred. Old men, whose hands were tremulous and unsteady; young ones, unskilled in years--marched side by side to the place of conflict. So great the emergency at this time, so much to be won or lost by the coming battle, that none remained in the fort save women and children. Rapidly up along the west bank of the river, Col. Z. Butler cautiously led his forces within half a mile of Wintermoot's Here he halted a few minutes, and sent forward two volunteers to reconnoiter the position and strength of the enemy; these were fired upon by the opposing scouts, who, like the main body of the British, were not only apprised by Indian runners of the departure of the Yankees from Forty Fort, but were prepared to give them a murderous welcome. As the Americans approached the British soldiers and painted savages, Wintermoot's Fort, which had served its intended mischeivous purpose, was set on fire by the Tories for reasons unknown. Rhe British colonel promptly formed his forces into line of battle; the Provincials and Tories being placed in front toward the river, while the morass at the right concealed vast numbers of the dusky warriors under Brant and the drunken Queen.
Among the tall pines unmelted from the plain, Colonel Zebulon Butler placed his men so as better to resist the first attack of the enemy, preparing to begin the strife.
Colonels Butler and Dorrance each urged the soldiers to meet the first shock with firmness, as their own lives and homes depended on the issue. Hardly had the words rang along the line, before the bullets of the enemy, pouring in from a thousand muskets, began to thin the ranks of the Connecticut party.
"About four in the afternoon the battle began; Col. Z. Butler ordered his men to fire, and at each discharge to advance a step. Along the whole line the discharges were rapid and steady. It was evident, on the more open ground the Yankees were doing most execution. As our men advanced, pouring in their platoon fires with great vivacity, the British line gave way, in spite of all their officers' efforts to prevent it. The Indian flanking party on our right, kept up from their hiding-places a galling fire. Lieut. Daniel Gore received a ball through the left arm. 'Captain Durkee', says he, 'look sharp for the Indians in those bushes.' Captain D. stepped to the bank to look, preparatory to making a charge and dislodging them, when he fell. On the British Butler's right, his Indian warriors were sharply engaged. They seemed to be divided into six bands, for a yell would be raised at one end of the line, taken up, and carried through, six distinct bodies appearing at each time to repeat the cry. As the battle waxed warmer, that fearful yell was renewed again and again, with more and more spirit. It appeared to be at once their animating shout, and their signal of communication. As several fell near Col. Dorrance, one of his men gave way; 'Stand up to your wok, sir', said he, firmly but coolly, and the soldier resumed his place.
"For half an hour a hot fire had been given and sustained, when the vastly superior numbers of the enemy began to develop its power. The Indians had thrown into the swamp a large force, which now completely outflanked our left. It was impossible it should be otherwise; that wing was thrown into confusion. Col. Dennison gave orders that the company of Whittlesey should wheel back,
so as to form an angle with the main line, and thus present his front instead of flank to the enemy. The difficult of performing evolutions, by the bravest militia, on the field, under a hot fire, is well known. On the attempt the savages rushed in with horrid yells. Some had mistaken the order to fall back, as one to retreat, and that word, that fatal word, ran along the line. Utter confusion now prevailed on the left. Seeing the disorder, and his own men beginning to give way, Col. Z. Butler threw himself between the fires of the opposing ranks and rode up and down the line in the most reckless exposure.
"'Don't leave me, my children, and the victory is ours.' But it was too late."
When it was seen that defeat had come, the confusion became general. Some fought bravely in the hopeless conflict, and fell upon the battle-ground bayonet-pierced; others fled in wild disorder down the valley toward Forty Fort or Wilkes Barre without their guns, pursued by Indians whose belts were soon reeking with warm scalps.
"A portion of the Indians' flanking party pushed forward in the rear of the Connecticut line, to cut off retreat from Forty Fort, and then pressed the retreating army toward the river. Monockasy Island affording the only hope of crossing, the stream of flight flowed in that direction through fields of grain." The Tories, more vindictive and ferocious if possible than the red-men, hastened after the fugitives.
Mr. Carey and Judge Hollenback were standing sid by side when the victorious forces of the enemy appeared in view; Carey ran with the speed of a deer, while Hollenback, throwing away his gun and stripping to the waist, followed him toward Wilkes Barre. Being thus divested of his clothing he was enabled to leave his weaker comrade in the rear, swam the river in safety, and
was the first to tell the tale of defeat to the village of Wilkes Barre, then consisting of twenty-three houses. Carey fled to the river, where, under its deep-worn bank he found shelter, as he sank too exhausted to swim, still retaining his musket. He heard the quick footsteps of the fugitives, and as they were plunging in the water to reach Pittston Fort, saw the swift-sent tomahawk overtake many a neighbor struggling in the river in vain. Upon the bank below him, three soldiers were clubbed to death by the Tories. His own musket he grasped still more firmly, determined to sell his life as dearly as possible, if required; escaping detection, he swam the river at night and escaped.
Of the cruelties practiced by the Tories and Indians after the battle, one instance will suffice to illustrate. A little below the battle-ground there lay, and still lies, in the divided waters of the Susquehanna, an island green with willlows and wild grass, called "Monockonock Island". As the path down the valley swarmed with warriors, few of the fleeting settlers pursued it, but scattered through the fields. Others fled to this island for refuge. This was perceived by the Tories, ruthless in pursuit, who reaching the island deliberately wiped their guns dry to finish the murderous drama. "One of them, with his loaded gun, soon passed close by one of these men who lay concealed form his view, and was immediately recognized by him to be the brother of his
companion who was concealed near him, but who being a Tory, had joined the enemy. He passed slowly along, carefully examining every covert, and directly perceived his brother in his place of concealment. He suddently stopped and said, 'So it is you, is it?' His brother, finding that he was discovered, immediately came forward a few steps, and falling on his knees, begged him to spare his life, promising him to live with him and serve him, and even to be his slave as long as he lived, if he would only spare his life. 'All this is mighty good', replied the savage-hearted brother of the supplicating man, 'but you are a d--d rebel', and deliberately presenting his rifle, shot him dead on the spot." The name of the fratricide Tory was John Pencil and the miserable wretch, shunned by the Indians whom he accompanied to Canada, was afterward killed and devoured in the Canadian forest by wolves. Such was the spirit of the Wyoming massacre, and such was the doom of the fratricide.
After the pursuit of the fugitives had ceased, scenes of torture began. Opposite the mouth of the Lackawanna, and almost under the shadows of "Campbell's Ledge", a band of Indians, wild with exultation, had gathered their prisioners in a circle, stripped of their clothing, and with sharpened spears drove them into the flames of a large fire, amidst their agonizing cries and the yells of the infuriated savages. On the battle-ground, was cleft each scalp
of the dying and the dead, before the bloody work was carried to "Bloody Rock". "This celebrated rock is situated east of a direct line between the monument and the site of Fort Wintermoot, on the brow of the high steep bank which is supposed to have been the ancient bank of the river. The rock is a bowlder, and it is a sort of conglomerate, principally composed of quartz." It formerly rose some two feet above the earth but the constant attrition of the frequent visitor desiring a fragment of the interesting bowlder to carry away as a relic, has scalped or shorn it almost even with the ground. Around the rock, standing distinctly out on the plain, otherwise smooth and rockless, some eighteen of the prisoners who had been taken under the solemn promise of quarter, were collected and surrounded by a ring of warriors under the command of Queen Esther. In the battle she had led her column with more than Indian bravery, and now around the fatal ring was she to avenge the loss of her first-born, slain in the encounter with the settlers, at the head of the valley, a day or two before. Swinging the war-club or the merciless hatchet, she walked around the dusky ring, and as suited her whim, dashed out the brains of the unresisting prisoners. Two only escaped by superhuman efforts. The bodies of fourteen or fifteen were afterward found around this rock, scalped and shockingly mangled. Nine more were found in a similar circle some distance above. About 160 of the Connecticut people perished in the battle and massacre; 140 escaped. The surviving settlers fled toward the Delaware. Before them frowned the foodless forest, since known as the "Shades of Death"; clambering up the mountain side by the light of their burning homes, all was silence and desolation. The forest-dwellers had cruelly revenged their wrongs; the Tory by
his club and bayonet had surpassed the wild man in ferocious instinct--the British soldier, led hither by command, turned from the unsoldier-like scenes of the day and night with aversion, and all sank exhausted on the grounds of the old Indian empire for repose.
The Pittston forts surrendered to Colonel J. Butler early on the morning of the fourth, upon the following terms:--
"Articles of Capitulation for three Forts at Lacuwannack, 4th July, 1778. Art. 1st.--That the different Commanders of the said Forts do immediately deliver them up, with all the arms, ammunition, and stores, in the said forts." "2d.--Major Butler promises that the lives of the men, women, and children be preserved intire."
These terms were honorably complied with, and not a person in Pittston was molested by the Indians; all the prisoners in the forts were marked with black war-paint, which exempted them from immediate harm. Forty Fort was surrendered the same day to Major John Butler.
Five days after the battle, Colonel Butler retired from Wyoming with his forces, so elated with his success that he reported to his government that he had "taken 227 scalps and only five prisoners", "taken eight palisades , (six) forts, and burned about one thousand dwelling houses, all their mills, etc.," having, "on our side one Indian, two Rangers killed, and eight prisoners wounded." "We have also killed and drove off about one thousand head of horned cattle, and sheep and swine in great numbers."
After Butler had gone northward, a party of rangers and Indians whom he had sent, went "to the Delaware to destroy a small settlement there, and to bring off prisoners." These, after remaining a few days at Wyoming for scalps and plunder, visited the Lackawanna Valley
on their way to the Paupack and Delaware. Wyoming, with the exception of a few houses around Wilkes Barre fort, was depopulated, and presented one dark picture of conflagration and waste. Up the Lackawanna, every house and barn, with the single exception of Marcy's, was burned to the ground, and every family that could escape fled on foot toward Stroudsburg for safety.
Six miles up the Lackawanna, a small stream called Key's or Kieser's creek, emerges from a long line of willows, where the savages overtook and shot and scalped two men by the name of Leach and St. John, who were removing their families with ox-teams from the smoking valley below. "One of them", says Miner, "had a child in his arms, which, with strange inconsistency, the Indian took up and handed to the mother, all covered with the father's blood. Leaving the women in the wagon unhurt, they took the scalps of their husbands, and departed". At Capoose, Mr. Hickman, attending to his crops, unconscious of danger so near, was murdered by the same band, as were his wife and child. His log cabin was burned to the ground.
Isaac Tripp, a Mr. Hocksey and Keys were captured and carried from the Capoose into the forest of Abington at this time. Tripp, who had hitherto, in his intercourse with the Indians, shown them kndness, was painted and released, while his two companions were led out of the path, tomahawked, and left unburied in the woods near Clark's Green.
No white person was left alive in the entire valley in 1778, after the massacre, nor did any settlers venture to return to the Susquehanna or the Lackawanna to bury the dead or gather the crops, until some three months afterward.
In September, Colonel Hartley was sent up into the Indian country to chastise them, while the grain was being secured. He arrived at Wyalusing, September 28, with his men worn down, and his "Whisky and Flour all
gone." "In lonely woods and groves we found the Haunts and Lurking Places of the Savage Murderers who had desolated our Frontier. We saw the Huts where they had dressed and dried the scalps of the helpless women & Children who had fell in their hands."
In October, "Three persons were killed near Wyoming, and another was sent in with his life, scalped to his Eyebrows almost."
No single massacre in America during the Revolution, awakened throughout the whole land a sensation so universal and profound as did this. General Washington, pained by the sanguinary blow struck at Wyoming, ordered General Sullivan, in 1779, to visit and lay waste the Indian country along the northwestern frontier, from whence much of its force had come. The expedition, however, being retarded for a time from various causes, and the numerous massacres being still unavenged, a proposition was made to the authorities of Pennsylvania, Apr, 1779, by William McClay, to hunt the Indians out of the Lackawanna and Wyoming valleys with horses and dogs. He says "that a single troop of Light Horse attended by dogs, would destroy more Indians than five thousand men stationed in forts along the Frontiers." This system of warfare, however, was never adopted here.
Gen. Sullivan proceeded to the very heart of the Indian empire around the lakes in July, 1779, and after burning eighteen of their villages, destoying a large number of warriors, and a vast quantity of corn, peach orchards, &c., returned to Wyoming, October 7, with the loss of only forty men.
"The army marched to Lackawanna, distant 9 miles from Wyoming. (Wilkes Barre.) This place contains two hundred acres of excellent level land, and beautifully
situated, having a fine creek bordering on the east side of the river in front, and a large mountain in the rear, which forms this place a triangular form."
The following account of an extraordinary adventure and escape of a messenger, coming from Sullivan's camp to Easton, illustrates how little pleasure there was in traveling then, even in the rear of his army:--
Sullivan's Stores, 1st July, 1779.
This will inform you of the most singular event that perhaps you ever met with.--One of my Expresses, (Viz,) James Cook on his return from Weyoming this day, about the middle of the afternoon, in the Swamp was fired upon by the Indians & Tories--he supposes between Thirty & Fifty Shot. One Shot went thro' his Canteen, one thro' his Saddle, one thro' his Hunting Shirt, one was shot into his Horse. Two Indians or Tories being yet before him, both discharged their Pieces at him, threw down their Firelocks witha determination to Tomahawk him--advanced within Eight Yards of him, at which Time he, with a Bravery peculiar to himself, fired upon them, killed one of them on the spot and wounded the other, notwithstanding he threw his Tomahawk at the Express, missed him, but cut the Horse very deep upon the Shoulder. He got hold of Cook, thought to get him from his Horse, tore his Shirt, which is stained much with the Indian's Blood; the Horse being fretted by his Wound raised upon his hind Feet, Trampled the Indian or Torie under him, who roared terribly, at which time Cook got clear; the other Indians on seeing him get off, raised the Whoop as if all Hell was broke loose. He supposes he rode the Horse afterwards near four Miles, but by the loss of Blood began to Stagger, when he alighted, took
off his Saddle & Letters, ran about a Mile on foot, where he fortunately found a stray Continental Horse, which he mounted & rode to this Place.
It is easy to account for his getting the Horse as there are numbers of them astray about the Swamp. Mr Cook's Firelock was loaded with a Bullet & Nine Buck shot, & the Indians being close together when he fired is the reason why the one might be killed and the other Wounded.
From a Perfect knowledge of the mans Sobriety, Integrity and Soldierism, no part of this need be doubted.
I am sir,
Your most ob't Humble serv't.
Directed,--To His excellency Joseph Reed, Esq'r, Present.
Smarting under the chastisement given by General Sullivan, bands of Indians, which had returned, dexterous and wary, prowled around the cabin of the valley husbandman, and their tomahawks struck alike the laborer in the field and the child in the cradle; and yet, in spite of such adverse danger, besetting every hour with blighted hopes and ruined prospects, the settlement began to fill up with many of the former returning occupants.
In the fall of 1778, the region of Capoose, depopulated so completely of every white inhabitant, began to receive back some of the more resolute of its former denizens. A small portion of the fall crop, escaping destruction by mere accident or caprice, was thus secured, which, by the aid of bear-meat and venison, easily obtained, as every pioneer was a hunter, enabled them to pass through the winter with comparative comfort, unmolested by Tories or Indians. In March, however, 1779, the last predatory band, hoping for conquest, yet rejoicing in the ruin they had wrought, after attacking Wilkes Barre in vain, turned up the old Lackawanna to the settlement at Capoose. Isaac Tripp was shot in his own house on the flats, and
three men, named Jones, Avery, and Lyons, were carried away in the forest, and never heard of afterward.
GENERAL HISTORY RESUMED.
Instead of the repose hoped for by the inhabitants of Wyoming at the close of the American Revolution, the temporarily suspended animosities between Pennsylvania and Connecticut, gathering strength by the intervention of the Great War, broke out afresh with all the venom and violence begotten by a dispute involving every impulse of passion and every consideration of selfishness.
Connecticut, through its General Assmebly, "holden at Hartford, Oct. 9, 1783, asserted its undoubted and exclusive right of jurisdiction & Pre-emption to all the Lands lying West of the Western limits of the State of Pennsylvania, & East of the Mississippi River, and extending throughout from the Latitude 41 (degrees) to Latitude 42 (degrees) 2 north, by virtue of the Charter granted by King Charles the second to the late Colony of Connecticut bearing date the 25th day of April, A.D. 1662" while it relinquished all claim to Wyoming after the unexpected decision of the Commissioners at Trenton.
Soon after the promulgation of the Trenton Decree "two boxes of musket cartridges, and two hundred rifle-flints" were ordered to Wyoming with Northampton militia, to look after persons not readily acquiescing in a decision known to be adverse to every principle of common sense and equity. Because the inhabitants refused to be ground into ashes unmurmuringly, they were reported "wrangling" and full of a "Letegious Spirit."
Toward the Lackawanna people, more defenseless and exposed, because fewer in number, proceedings were instituted by the Pennymites more tyrannical and oppressive
than elsewhere, simply from the fact that this weakness could offer no resistance. Families were turned forcibly out of their houses, regardless of age or sex; the sick and the feeble, the widow and the orphan, were alike thrust rudely from their sheltering homes, while fields of grain, and all personal property, were stolen or destroyed by a band of men armed with guns and clubs, in the interest of the Pennsylvania land-jobbers.
The decision of the Trenton court, looked upon as a simple question of jurisdiction only, without affecting the right of soil, was accepted in good faith by the people generally. "We care not", said they in an address to the General Assembly, "under what State we live in, if we live protected and happy."
The land-jobbers, in their passion for self-aggrandizement and emolument, not content to allow an interpretation of this decision favorable to the settlers, yet so foreign to their own selfish purposes, urged troops upon Wyoming, upon the arrival of which "the inhabitants suffered little less than when abandoned to their most cruel and savage enemies. The unhappy husbandman saw his cattle driven away, his barns on fire, his children robbed of their bread, and his wife and daughters a prey to licentious soldiery." Memorials and petitions, couched in respectful tone and language, sent repeatedly to the Assembly, met with open derision or contemptuous silence. It was well for Wyoming, feeble yet unshrinking, to stand alone in the war-path in time of massacre and bloodshed, and grapple with the blows otherwise aimed at the lower inland settlements of Pennsylvania, but not to enjoy even the desolation of wild-woods without insult and disfranchisement. "The inhabitants", says Chapman, "finding at length that the burden of their calamities was too great to be borne, began to resist the illegal proceedings
of their new masters, and refused to comply with the decisions of the mock tribunals which had been established. Their resistance enraged the magistrates, and on the 12th of May (1784), the soldiers of the garrison were sent to disarm them, and under this pretense one hundred and fifty families were turned out of their dwellings, many of which were burnt, and all ages and sexes reduced to the same destitute condition. After being plundered of their little remaining property, they were driven from the valley and compelled to proceed on foot through the wilderness by way of the Lackawaxen to the Delaware, a distance of about eighty miles. During this journey the unhappy fugitives suffered all the miseries which human nature appears to be capable of enduring. Old men, whose children were slain in battle, widows with their infant children, and children without parents to protect them, were here companions in exile and sorrow, and wandering in a wilderness where famine and ravenous beasts continued daily to lessen the number of the sufferers. One shocking instance of suffering is related by a survivor of this scene of death; it is the case of a mother whose infan having died, roasted it by piecemeal for the daily subsistence of her remaining children!"
Elisha Harding, Esq., who was one of the exiles, says "it was a solemn scene; parents, their children crying for hunger--aged men on crutches--all urged forward by an armed force at our heels. The first night we encamped at Capoose, the second at Cobbs, the third at Little Meadows so called, cold, hungry, and drenched with rain, the poor women and children suffering much."
In fact the mutual hatred of each party, cherished from Capoose to Wyoming with every expression of bitterness, was so intense and general, and the settlers up the lesser valley shown so little clemency by the nomadic hordes of Pennymites sent up from Sunbury and elsewhere, that
even Brigadier-General Armstrong, afterward Secretary of War, harsh and covetous himself, reported to President Dickenson in October, 1784, that "the treatment of the Lackawany people has been excessively cruel." Voluntary evidence so explicit from such a quarter, needs no corroborative testimony to give it weight.
No person suspected of being a well-wisher of the Yankees, remained in the settlement unharmed and unmolested. Nor was the rude expulsion of the inhabitants, who, thus dragging themselves along, out of the valley, too weak and despairing to offer resistance, until they sank to the ground from hunger and exhaustion, to await the coarse instincts of their pursuers, more merciless than the savages' wild work six years before with brand and battle-ax.
Thus for the fifth and the last time was every New England emigrant expelled from the Lackawanna within twelve years, to find a home in the vacant wilderness with their perishing children and wives, or journey on foot to the Delaware, beyond the reach of their pursuers, if not carried to Easton jail. No portion of the American frontier in the early history of the country so wantonly and perennially inflicted sorrows upon the peaceful adventuerer as did the Lackawanna from 1763 to 1784.
While this ferocious conduct on the part of Pennsylvania soldiers was repudiated and condemned by the State, the authorities, chagrined at the indignation her rash and incompetent instruments had evoked throughout the confederation, it had the effect, indirectly, of creating the new county of Luzerne two years afterward.
After being released from jail, whither nearly all the male portion of the inhabitants had been driven, charged with no crime that could be sustained, and yet compelled to live on water and bread in a dismal prison, they returned to their desolated homes after their release.
The farmers up the Lackawanna, far away from their native hills, thus irritated and interrupted in their labors by the Pennymites, and occupied wholly with thoughts of their wrongs, sent Mr. Benjamin Luce the following notice:--
"Lackawany, Oct. 8, 1784.
We understand that you are obstinate and treat the Yankees ill; therefore this is to warn you in the name of the Connecticut Claimants to depart and leave the house of Richard Hollsted, in 12 hours in peace, or expect trouble. If we are obliged to send a party of men to do the business you must abide the consequences.
Thus passed the summer and winter of 1784. The spring of 1785 developed no healthier sentiment nor kindlier feelings.
One or two affidavits, taken from a large number of a similar character in the Pennsylvania Archives of 1785, serve to illustrate the spirit in which this struggle for Wyoming was carried on. In March of this year, a constable named Charles Manrow affirmed,
"That Gangs of the Connecticut Party are daylay growing through the Wioming Settlements distressing, the few Families yet in the place who are attached to Government, by Robing, Plundering, and Turning them out of Doors in a most naked and Distressed situation, that yesterday was a day set for all those People who had not actually been Throwed out of Doors by Violence, to be goan that they had Received the Last notice without Distress. That on the Twenty Second Instant, Six of them came to the Hous of this Deponant at about the sun Setting, and Turned his Family all out of Doors, Throwed his goods all out and Considerable part broke to pieces, Took his Grain,
meet, salt, and many other things, that his Children had no Shoes, and little Cloathing, Thretning if they Return into the Hous, they would burn it down with them in it, when this deponant asked the officer of the party, what authority he had for such Conduct who Produced his Precept Signed Ebenezer Johnson their Col. or Commanding Officer."
"Daniel Swarts, being duly sworn doth depose and say, that on the Twenty Second Instant a Gang of Twelve of the Connecticut Claimants came to the house of this Deponant with arms Thretning the Family so that his wife is in a situation, that her life is almost despaired of, ordering them Immediately out of Doors, That he has been Plundered of the most of his Effects so that his Family is almost naked, himself much beat and abused and halled out of Doors by the hare of his head."
Upon the other hand, every usurpation aiming to obliterate Wyoming as a Connecticut colony--every scheme having for its object the destruction of the industrious element, which, amidst wars, massacres, expulsions, imprisonments, and every intolerant atrifice, had brought blooming fields out of the wild acres from Nanticoke to Capoose, was tried in vain by the Pennsylvania land speculators. Diplomacy, the weapon of subtle men, pacified and accomplished in a short time, what all else had failed to do.
On the 25th of September, 1786, Luzerne County was erected out of that part of Northumberland County extending from Nescopeck Falls to the northern boundary of the State. Within its area, it included all the Yankee or New England Colony west of New Yrok, except a few settlers along the Delaware and Paupack. It comprised within its boundaries all of Susquehanna, Wyoming, Columbia, and Lycoming, the greater part of Bradford, and a fractional portion of Sullivan and Montour.
The year of 1786 marks an important era in upper Pennsylvania. The removal of Indian tribes, the peaceful solution of the Connecticut-Pennsylvania controversy, made many an upland clearing in the edge of the forest rejoice with the returning emigrant or new settler.
"Deep Hollow" (now Scranton) resounded with the stroke of the advancing ax;--the Lehigh and Lackawaxen were each explored by Pennsylvania to learn their navigable capacity, while separating this territory into a new county, gave hope and impulse to many a brave heart shrinking from no danger, but longing for the unrestrained and uninterrupted quiet of rural life.
The formation of Luzerne County, while it tranquilized a contest unparalleled in reciprocal bitterness and pertinacity, also annihilated a bold project of a few of the more ambitious Yankee occupants of Wyoming, led by Col. John Franklin, John Jenkins, and Solomon Strong, of forming a new and independent State out of the 42d Degree of Latitude, through Pennsylvania and a portion of New York, with Wilkes Barre as the capital.
John Franklin, Solomon Strong, James Fin, a Baptist minister, John Jenkins, and Christopher Holbert conceived the scheme. The celebrated Col. Ethan Allen of Vermont, who was twice visited by Strong, and urged to throw the strength of his unbounded popularity into the movement, finally espoused the cause of the Connecticut claimants against Pennsylvania. By the aid of Col. Allen, Vermont had been carved from the rough borders of New York in spite of remonstrance or force, and why could not an independent Republic be established at Wyoming in defiance of the wishes and power of a State, dishonoring its robes by harsh intercourse with a young border colony which had stood for years in blood for its defense, like a Roman sentinel on the outer wall! Six
hundred men, mostly Yankees, were here, which with the invincible Green Mountain Boys, obtained by asking, and the Connecticut party from the West Branch of the Susquehanna, whither Mr. Fin had been sent to develop and strengthen the enterprise among the inhabitants, it was reasonably supposed that a body so formidable in numbers, commanded by a colonel so renowned and brave as he was known to be, having the right and possession of the valleys and all roads to and from them both by land and water, would be able not only to repel all opposing force, extinguish the claim and grasping avidity of Pennsylvania, but triumphantly assert and achieve independence. The appearance of Col. Allen at Wyoming, at this time, clad in his Revolutionary regimentals, while the public mind down the Susquehanna and up the Lackawanna, favorably discussed the contemplated project, gave to it still greater importance.
The creation of the new county of Luzerne, which was originally intended merely as an instrument to defeat these wronged yet patriotic schemers--and nothing more--introduced elements and authority into the Lackawanna and Wyoming domain, which the quick, keen eye of Col. Allen saw it would be folly, if not treason, to oppose. The colonel soon afterward returned to Vermont. Aside from a collision necessarily renewed and long continued between the respective States concerned by fostering the design with arms, it is impossible for the broadest calculator of to-day to estimate the consequences resulting to the country, especially to the Lackawanna and Wyoming portion of it, had the projected State, with the hero of Ticonderoga as its Governor, been wrought into being.
Col. Franklin, the offending front and acknowledged head of the Connecticut party, was afterward arrested, thrust into a Philadelphia prison, loaded with chains, and fed in the dark, damp cell upon bread and water; and yet after he was released in October, 1787, upon his own
parole, he returned to the valley, and although, like all the settlers, adverse to the broad, bold usurpations of the Provincial speculators, who had been shamefully wronged, he smoked the pipe of peace, and sought with persistent steadiness and honesty to aid the operations of the various compromising laws.
The questions at issue, acquiring importance at the expense of the interests of the settlements, being no longer known, men of peaceful nature but public enterprise began to project highways in the county among which was a public road or turnpike, from the Delaware, near Stroudsburg, to the incipient village of Montrose, then in Luzerne. In March, 1788, five commissioners, consisting of Henry Drinker, Tench Coxe, John Nicholson, Mark Wilcox and Tench Francis, were elected for this purpose. The route, surveyed at the expense of the State, remained unbuilt for years. In May following, commissioners were appointed by Pennsylvania, to visit Luzerne County and examine the quantity and quality of land within the seventeen certified townships, for the purpose of enabling the House to fix upon a proper compensation to be paid the owners thereof. Two townships, viz.: Pittston and Providence, embraced all the domain settled in the Lackawanna valley. The latter being five miles square, contained 16,000 acres and ran from the township of Lackawa, east of Cobb Mountain, to the Moosic elevation separating Exeter from Providence. Capoose, rich in agricultural resource and intrenched in the shade of pines, boundless and beautiful in their expansion, was the principal point inhabited by three or four families.
A number of settlers in the Lackawanna had bought and paid both the Susquehanna Company and the State of Pennsylvania for their land,s but in order to restore harmony, and give full operation to the compromising
law, they surrendered their titles again to the State for a mere nominal consideration, and purchased their own lands again at the appraisement of the Commissioners appointed by the State.
Such land, according to its quality, was divided into four classes:--
"As soon as forty thousand acres should be so released to the State, and the Connecticut settler, claiming land to the same amount, should bind themselves to submit to the determination of the Commissioners, then the law was to take effect; and the Pennsylvania claimants, who had so released their land, were to receive a compensation for the same from the State Treasury, at the rate of five dollars per acre for lands of the first class, three dollars for the second, one dollar and fifty cents for the third, and twenty-five cents for lands of the fourth class. The Connecticut settlers were also to receive patents form the State confirming their lands to them, upon condition of paying into the Treasury the sum of two dollars per acre for lands of the first class, one dollar and twenty cents for lands of the second class, fifty cents for lands of the third class, and eight and one-third cents for lands of the fourth class--the certificates issued by the Commissioners to regulate the settlement of accounts in both cases. Thus, while the State was selling her vacant land to her other citizens at twenty-six cents an acre, she demanded of the Connecticut settlers a sum which, upon the supposition that there was the same quantity of land in each class, would average ninety-four cents and acre."
PROVIDENCE TOWNSHIP AND VILLAGE.
The Lackawanna, from the two Indian villages of Capoose and Asserughney, was explored in 1753; it was laid out into two townships in 1700, viz., Pittstown and Providence--the first, named after the celebrated Pitt,
the British Commoner; the latter after Rhode Island's capital, as thirty of the Susquehanna Company, owning the wild lands, came from the "Colony of Rhod-island". Pittstown embraced the first five miles of the valley; Providence extended its boundaries still five miles farther up. Both townships unrolled an area of six thousand acres, divided into lots of 300 acres each, called shares. For greater convenience and availability, lots were sometimes subdivided into half lots or shares. Providence, originally surveyed five miles square, was the sixth township formed; was designated in the Westmoreland Records as "Ye 6th Town of Capoose", because Capoose, cleared of its timber, lay on the path which brought emigrating parties into the Monsey town, where they were fed on venison and fish, and kindly treated by the bow and oar's men inhabiting it. These Indians, roaming over the territory for twenty years after the original sale of the lands, were skilled in the use of the bow and tomahawk, which the French, by lavishing gifts with prodigality, adroitly turned upon the English in 1755-6. At the Indian Treaty, held at Easton in the fall of 1758, this tribe "brightened the Chain of Friendship and cleared the blood from the Council Seats" every afterward.
Being some ten miles away from Pittstown block-house, settlers were less readily prepared to encounter the greater danger apparent in this township, than to labor in clearings more favorably located on the Susquehanna.
Timothy Keys and Solomon Hocksey, two young men from Connecticut, struck the first blow into the woods of the new township in 1771. With gun and ax they penetrated the willowed glen now known as Taylorsville, where they built their cabin by the side of the brook named from Mr. Keys. One vast park, filled with deer, stood between this creek and Capoose, marked by a single foot-path.
Capoose lands originally fell into the hands of Capt. John Howard, from the Susquehanna Company, a gentleman
unacquainted with their precise location or their wonderful fitness for immediate culture. As there was no disposition to settle them, for the prudential reasons already named, he interested with him in the lands of Christopher Avery and "Isooc Trypp of west-moreland in ye County of Litchfield & Colony of Connecticutt in New England", both bold Yankees, seeking fortune in Wyoming as early as 1769. The latter, more fearless and determined than his fellows, could not overlook the garden, where orchard and vineyard, cared for no longer by the strolling braves, enraptured the eye with blosom and promise. Near the vacated wigwams he shaped his cabin in 1771, and, without clearing a foot of land, planted and raised a crop of corn, the first season, on the plantation deserted but a short time previous. Mr. Tripp being neither scalped nor endangered during the winter, others, reassured and emboldened by his good luck, sprinkled their cabins along the stream, giving an air of comfort to the wilderness, here and there eruptive with stump.
A lot "in ye Township of New-Providence, alious Capoose", surveyed to Col. Lodwick Ojidirk, passed into the hands of Johnathan Slocum, in 1771, "on account of Doeing ye Duty of a settler", for Ojidirk. This tract, containing 180 acres, was sold to James Bagley, April 29, 1778. Bagley's Ford, near the mouth of Leggett's Creek, took its name from this old resident.
Among the pioneers who purchased lots or shares of the Connecticut Susquehanna Company, in the township, between 1772-5, the Westmoreland Records mention John Dewit, Andrew Hickman, Fred. Curtis, Isaac Tripp, Jr., Solomon Johnson, Thos. Pukits, Benj Baily, Mathew Dalson, Ebenezer Searles, James Leggett, Gideon Baldwin, John Stevens, Johnathan Slocum, Maj. Fitch, John Aldren, Christopher Avery, and Solomon Strong. Solomon Strong, identified in 1785-6 with Col. Ethan Allen,
John Jenkins, and the brave John Franklin, in the attempted formation of a new, distinct State ouf of Westmoreland, like Fitch, Searles, Aldren, Stevens, and Ojidirk, had no interest in the township other than a speculative one; this was trifling, as Baily acquired his 300 acres of woodland from Strong, for a "few furs and a flint gun."
Land was cheap, and, when purchased for a few shillings an acre, excavations in the great woods over it were only made by hard, patient labor, and, after the trees had paid reluctant homage to the ax, their removal and destruction gave infinite trouble and work. Instead of leaving the fallen timber to season for a year, and then, when favored by a long dry spell, apply the torch for a good burn, making "logging" barely necessary, the pioneer, pressed by the wants of his family, drew the green trees into log-heaps where they were roasted and burned into ashes. And even after the new land was thus prepared for the reception of seed, the corn, promising reward to the toiling husbandman, must be defended against the vigilant raccoon and squirrel, before the husking bee secured the crop in the garret, away from its nimble enemies.
The houses, beginning to gladden the waste places, had but a single story, were built from green logs up-rolled and chinked with mud, to protect the inmates from cold, and gave one-third of this space to huge stone chimneys. There was not in the entire township, in 1775, so strange a feature as three houses in a cluster, or two within sight of each other. Every farmer was his own carpenter, and thus every style of architecture became popular. Doors were made without boards; windows, without glass. The rich skin of the fawn easily obtained, or the bushy robe snatched from old bruin while visiting the barn-yard, brought comfort and ornament to the cabin, warmed in
winter by piles of fire-wood, and illuminated at night with pine-knots everywhere abundant.
The township had neither physician nor lawyer for a long time afterward, or does it appear that any physical or material interest suffered from their absence; for what tonic can equal hard work and coarse food in the field or forest, and what law compare with common honesty, blended with common sense?
No newspapers entered their cabins, for none were printed in the country; almanacs, selling for a shilling a-piece, supplied the settlement with the news of the year. Falling and burning the giant timber gave recreation to the settlement, disturbed by no breach of the social relations.
Nothing exhibits the New England character in a light more favorable and philanthropic, than the fixed organic rule of the proprietors of each township, of setting apart and reserving forever certain lots for gospel and school purposes before others were offered to the settler. In every township one lot of three hundred acres was thus reserved for the first minister of the gospel in fee--one for a parsonage--one for the support of a school; three were reserved as public lots, subject to the future disposiion of the town. Nearly 2,000 acres of land were thus held in Providence Township. Paths cut through the woods--over hills instead of around them--were more bridle-ways than roads, while fallen trees or friendly ford-ways served for stream-crossing.
"the town of Westmoreland legally incorporated for civil purposes, was about seventy miles square, and could only be established by Supreme Legislative authority. Within this limit a number of townships of five or six miles square, were laid off by the Delaware and Susquehanna Companies, divided into lots, which were drawn for by Proprietors, or sold. These townships had power to make needful laws and bye-laws for their interior regulation, the establishment of roads, the care or
disposal of vacant lots, and other matters entirely local. Of these, there already existed Wilkes Barre, Hanover, Plymouth, Kingston or the Forty, Exeter, Pittston, and Capouse or Providence; more were from time to time added. A town meeting, therefore now when 'legally warned', called together all the Freemen, in all the townships or settlements, from the Delaware to fifteen miles beyond the Susquehanna, and from the Lehigh north to Tioga Point" At the first town meeting legally warned and held in Westmoreland, "at eight of the clock in ye forenoon, March ye 20th, 1774", for the purpose of choosing town oficers, all this vast territory, sparsely occupied, was divided into eight separate districts. Wilkes Barre, Plymouth, Hanover, and Kingston, made four districts. Voted, "that Pittson be one district by ye name of Pittston district; and that Exeter, Providence, and all the lands west and north to ye town line, be one district, by ye name of ye North District; and that Lackaway setlement and Blooming Grove, and Sheolah, to be one district; and that Coshutunk, and all ye settlements on Delaware, be one district, and joined to ye other districts, and known by ye name of ye east district." From the Lackawanna portion of the town, or "ye North District", Isaac Tripp, Esq., who declined serving, was chosen Selectman for the ensuing year, John Dewit of Capoose chosen for the Surveyors of highways, John Abbot, one of the Fence-Viewers, Gideon Baldwin, one of the Listers, Barnabas Cary and Timothy Keys, two of the Grand Jurors, and James Brown one of the Tything men. These persons, the old records informs us, were "all loyal subjects of His Gracious Majesty King George the Third."
August Hunt and Frederick Vanderlip, two residents of New Providence, were expelled from the township at
this meeting, because they were men "that have, and now do so conduct themselves by spreading reports about ye town of Westmoreland, much to ye disturbance of ye good and wholsome inhabitants of this town, and by their taking up and holding land under ye pretention of ye title of Pennsylvania." "Voted that Hunt be expelled this purchase, and he be, as soon as may be, removed out of ye town by ye committee at ye cost of this Company, in such way as ye Committee shall think proper."
"Voted that ye Indian apple Tree, so called at Capoose, shall be ye Town Sign Post for ye town of New Providence." Each township had a prominent tree as a Town Sign Post, which, in the absence of press, newspaper, or almanac, made a public point where all notices of a public character had to be affixed to be legal. Such tree notices, always written--for all the inhabitants could read and write--made a meeting legally warned. This apple-tree, venerable in its broad branches, as if arrayed in the foliage of its youth, planted more than a century and a half ago, yet blooms and bears its fruit by the road-side, between Providence and Scranton, a few hundred feet above the site of the ancient village of Capoose.
In the winter of 1775, there was a meeting of the settlers under this apple-tree, to dispose of land on the Susquehanna at the site of the present village of Tunkhannock, as can be seen by "a list of men's names that drew for lots in the township of Putnam (now Tunkhannock), in Susquehannah, Dec. 20th, 1775, at Providence." Among persons thus drawing lots appear the names of Isaac and Job Tripp, William West, Paul Green, Job Green, Zebulon Marcy, and John Gardner.
An unsuccessful effort was made at this time to change the name of Providence for that of Massassoit, as is shown by old surveys and maps preserved among the archives of the county. The few savages remaining in
the valley in 1776-7, as they could not preserve their neutrality despite the tempting offers of the Tories and British in 1778, left charred and crimson traces of their presence. Settlers fled to Stroudsburg with their affrighted loved ones, or removed temporarily to Wyoming, where the muttering of the savages hissed down through the forests from the upper lakes. Isaac Tripp, Timothy Keys, James Hocksey, and Andrew Hickman, with his wife and child, alone remained. These few, having dispute only with the wolves, panthers, and bears, around the rich intervale of Capoose, living amicably with the hand preparing to strike, gave no thought of the danger of ambush or encounter with a foe until it came. And even when the Senecas, dancing the war song in prospective triumph, ready to sting with their arrows, poisoned and loaded, hastened form their wild parks into the flood of canoes moored for Wyoming, these settlers, conscious of no wrong done by themselves, cherished the hope that their frail cabins, isolated and remote, would be spared by the bands which had promised neutrality or friendship.
After the Wyoming massacre, it took but a few quick strokes of the hatchet to do the work of depopulating the entire Lackawanna Valley, leaving it a waste, where the camp fire again gleamed upon the roaming conquerors.
A few months after the massacre, the inhabitants returned to Wyoming to bury the dead and secure the remnant of the crops; but not until after Gen. Sullivan, in the summer of 1779, had carried fire and bullet through the Indian lodges along the upper Susquehanna, did the few fomer occupants of Providence lands venture back to the ashes on their farms, where their cabins once were standing. These few persons, influenced by the objective attitude of the Pennymites, were able to enlarge the range of agriculture in the township but little, if any.
In 1786, Isaac Tripp, 3d, emigrated from Rhode Island
with his son, Stephen, then ten years old. He brought with him at this time no other member of his family, and it was not until 1788 that his residence at Capoose became permanent.
Miner informs us that a company of soldiers were at Capoose at the time of the Wyoming massacre, but, as all the valuable papers having reference to the history of the township's affairs at this particular time were destroyed, it is impossible to tell the precise time they retired before the savages ascending the Lackawanna.
The pacification of the valleys in 1786-8, by measures long delayed, imparted new impulse to every interest by removing all barrier to agricultrual progress and prosperity. Men began to enjoy a conscious security, denied them till now, which expanded into measures of public good.
The route for a public highway across Luzerne had been surveyed in 1778 by legislative authority, the commissioners of which reported "that Providence, situated favorably between two mountains, would be of vast timportance to the road." These facts being promulgated, had their influence with men willing to wrestle with the forest for slight reward and secure homes.
Aside from the structure at the mouth of Leggett's Brook, put up unframed by Mr. Leggett in 1775, to be abandoned soon afterward, the first house erected upon the site of the present village of Providence was a low double log affair, built in 1788 by Enoch Holmes. The single apple-tree, standing near the northeast corner of Oak and Main streets, marks the precise location of his cabin. Along the terraced slope of Providence, the heavier wood had been cleared away, either by Indian husbandmen or by whirlwinds, such as in later years disturbed the equanimity of the young village, thus rendering necessary but little intrusion upon the thickets to fit the land for
planting or pasturage. He remained here two years with his family, pounded his maize and prepared his hominy, subsisting upon venison, bear meat, and the varied products of his clearing, in peaceful solitude.
In the winter months he constructed brooms, baskets, and snow-shoes from the laminated ash and basswood, carrying them on foot to Wilkes Barre to exchange for the most needed commodities. With no capital but a large famiy, increasing with each succeeding year, he toiled upon his hill-side opening until 1790, when he removed north of Leggett's Creek.
Daniel Waderman, of Hamburg, Germany, was the second settler. While visiting London in 1775, he was seized by the British press-gang, and forced into unwilling service. He was present at the battle of Bunker HIll, followed the fortunes of the British until 1779, when he was taken prisoner on the Mohawk. Taking the oath of allegiance, he enlisted in the American service, and, by his faithful deportment as a soldier during the remainder of the war, proved himself an unquestioned patriot. Under the shadows of the bluff, deepened by foliage extending down to the edge of the Lackawanna, this scarred veteran, in 1790, brought forth his cabin. The house of Daniel Silkman now occupies this site. For a period of twenty-one years Mr. Waderman lived here in comparative thrift and contentment, acquiring, by frugality, means to purchase wilder lands farther up the valley, where he died in 1835.
Preserved Taylor, Coonrad Lutz, John Gifford, Constant Searles, John House, Jacob Lutz, Benjamin Pedrick, Solomon Bates, and the Athertons, settled in the township in 1790, while John Miller, afterward famous for ministerial achievements and other good works, unbosomed the uplands of Abington. During this year alterations were made in the township lines.
While townships, as surveyed under Connecticut jurisdiction, retained the name originally given them, their
boundaries were purposely extinguished, or so radically altered by Pennsylvania landholders as to lose in a great measure their former identity and relation.
In March, 1790, Providence township line, defined twenty years previous by Connecticut settlers, was obliterated by the Luzerne County Court, which divided the county into eleven townships, one of which, Lakawanak, extended over the Lackawanna Valley.
The people of the old upper township of Providence, or Capoose, readily acquiescing in arrangements inaugerated by Pennsylvania, were thus compelled to transact all business of a public nature at Pittston, some ten or twelve miles from their homes.
The inhabitants asked for a restoration of Providence township, because "the Town of Providence", says their petition, "labor under great disadvantages by reason of being annexed to Lackawanna, that the inhabitants live remote from the place where the Town meets on public occasions, and that they have a very bad river to cross, which is impassible at some times." In 1792 the petition was granted.
The first bridge across the Lackawanna was built in 1796. Until this time there were three public fords across the stream above Pittston, viz.: Tripp's, Lutze's, and Baggley's. Along the stream, where the banks were low and the waters shallow, a place was selected for a ford-way, which, in the absence of a horse or a tree, was crossed on foot alike by heroic women and men. The abrupt character of the bank of the stream at Providence village, and for quarter of a mile below it, allowed of no crossing in this manner, nor was the Lackawanna at this point spanned by a bridge until the Drinker Turnpike rendered one necessary in 1826.
The two-wheeled ox-cart, drawn at a snail's-pace, over roads filled with stones, obstructed by hills, served the purposes of the settlement during the summer months, while the cumbrous snow-shoe or the wooden sled, bent
from the oak or beech, brought happiness to many a home. Oxen were generally used both for farming and traveling. In 1792 there were in Providence township but ten horses, twenty-eight oxen, and fifty-two cows.
The original Griffin in Providence was Stephen, who, in 1794 left Westchester County, N.Y., to battle with Pennsylvania forests. He located near Lutze's fordway. Thos. Griffin became a resident of the valley in 1811, James in 1812, and Joseph and Isaac in 1816. The far-seen hill, below Hyde Park, crowned on its western edge by a noble park reserved for deer, is known throughout the valley as "Uncle Joe Griffin's" place, where he lived for half a century. He filled the office of justice of the peace for many years. In 1839-40, conjoined with the late Hon. Chester Butler, he represented the interests of the county in the State Legislature with credit. With the exception of Isaac Tripp, Sen., sent to Connecticut from Westmoreland, in 1777, Jos. Griffin, Esq., was the first man thus honored by the people of the valley.
The taxables of Providence township, embracing the entire settlement from Rixe's Gap to Pittston, numbered in 1796 ninety persons, sixty-one only of whom resided within its boundaries, as will be seen by the following "Providence assessment for the Year 1796".
No. Occupation or
Names of Inhabitants Oxen Cows Horses Profession Residence Tax
Atherton, Corn's 1 Farmer Providence .86
Atherton, John& 1 2 Farmer. do 1.51
Atherton, Elezer 1 1 do do 1.29
Atwater, Benj 1 do do 1.26
Abbott, Philip 1 .06
Alesworth, Wm. 2 2 Innkeeper do 2.65
Abbott, James 1 do do 4.69
Bishop, Wm. Preacher of the Gospel do 1.00
Brown, James 1 Tailor do .16
Bagley, James 2 1 2 Farmer do 3.34-1/2
Brown, Benj do do .90
Bagley, Asher 1 do do 1.56
Bagley, Jesse 1 do do .07
Butler, Zeb'm, heirs Wilkes Barre .75
Bidwell, David 1.25
Benedict, Silas .06
Bates, Solomon 1 1 Farmer Providence 1.10
Corey, Phebe 2 3 Spinster do 2.26
Cogwell, William 2 2 Farmer do .32
Cobb, Asa 2 4 1.56-1/2
Carey, John 2 Farmer Providence 1.20
Chamberlain, John .25
Clark, William .72-1/2
Conner, James .65 Covel, Mathew Physician Wilkes Barre .35
Dolph, Aaron 2 1 Farmer Providence .71
Dolph, Charles 2 do do 1.77
Dolph, Moses do do .70
Dolph, Johnathan 4 3 do do 1.99
Dean, Johnathan do Rhode Island 1.10
Goodridg, Wm. 2 1 do Providence 1.41
Gardner, Stephen 2 2 do do 2.55-1/2
Gifford, John 2 1 do do .24
Hoyt, Stephen do do .72
How, John 1 2 do do 1.14
How, John, Jr. 1 2 1.14
Hoyt, Ransford .33
Hardy, Wm. 1 .07-1/2
Holmes, Enock 1 1 do do 1.26
Hall, Nathan 1 do do .65
Hunter, John New York 2.00
Halstead, John 1 do Providence .06
Halstead, Jonar 1 do do .20
Hopkins, Ichibod Stockbridge 1.33
Fellows, Joseph do Providence .30
Howard, James do Connecticut .60
Hibbert, Ebenezer do Nantacook .40
Lutz, Coonrad 3 1 do Providence 1.44
Lutz, John 1 do do .16
Lamkins, John 1 do do .62
Lewis, James 4 3 do do 2.27
Lutzs, Mich 2 do do .50
Lutz, Jacob 2 1 do do 1.07
Lutzens, Nicholas 2 1 1 3.03
Miller, Christopher 1 do do .07
Miller, Samuel do Pittston .30
MacDaniel, John 1.05
Mills,John 1 Farmer Pittston .77
Obedicke, Lodwick Rhode Island .60
Park, Ebenezer 2 1 do Providence 1.69
Picket, Thomas 2 do do .25-1/2
Pedrick, Ben 2 do do 2.07-1/2
Potter, David .60
Ross, Wm. do Wilkes Barre 1.10
Ross, Timothy .55
Ross, Nathan 1.72-1/2
Ralph, Johnathan 1 1 Providence .11-1/2
Rozel, John do New York 3.00
Smith, Thomas 2 2 do Providence 1.62
Stephen, Timothy 1 do do .66
Slaiter, Samuel 1.70
Simral, Wm. 1 1 Farmer Providence .75
Scott, Daniel 1 1 do do .79
Searles, Constant 1 1 do do 1.14
Sills, Shadrick Lonenburg 1.10
Selah, Obediah .60
Stanton, Wm. 2 2 1 do Providence .85
Taylor, Daniel 2 4 do do 1.71
Taylor, John 2 2 do do .88
Taylor, Preserved 2 3 1 do 1.82
Taylor, Abraham 1 do do .56
Tripp, Isaac, Jr. 2 2 1 do do .44-1/2
Tripp, Amasey do do 1.00
Tripp, Isaac 2 1 3 do do 15.89
Wright, Thomas Merchant Pittston 2.12
Washburn, Elizabeth Spinster Providence .45
Carey, Barnabas Farmer do .36
Tomkins, Ben do do .89
Lewis, James .10
Gaylor, ------- Connecticut .60
Town meetings were first held in Providence at the house of Stephen Tripp, in 1813. The entire vote of the township, then extending jurisdiction over the subsequent townships of Lackawanna, Covington,Jefferson, Blakeley, Greenfield, and Scott, numbered eighty-two as follows:--
Federal vote 46 Democratic 36
1814 47 36
1815 51 44
1828 55 55
As late as 1816, wild game thronged the thickets around Slocum Hollow. Benjamin Fellows, Esq., a hale old gentlement, informs the writer that he has often seen fifty turkeys in a flock feeding on the stubble in his
father's field, in Hyde Park, while deer tramped over the plowed land like herds of sheep. In 1804, in company with other hunters, he killed both panthers and bears in the woods between Hyde Park and Slocum Hollow.
The general history of the township contains little of general interest. Roads were few and rugged, and the inhabitants, priding themselves in assiduous labor and frugality, lived and died contented. They enjoyed neither churches nor school-houses, for none had yet emerged from the clearings; were annoyed by few or only light taxes; and yet kindness and hospitality were so blended with their daily toil on farms rendered fertile by a good burn or unvaried cultivation, that the social relations of the residents of the township were rarely, if ever, disturbed by sectarian partiality or political asperities. The general healh was good, with no prevailing sickness until 1805, when the typhus fever, or "the black tongue", as it was termed, carried its ravages into settlements just beginning to feel the impulse of prosperity, along the borders of the Susquehanna and the Lackawanna. Drs. Joseph Davis and Nathaniel Giddings, the latter of whom settled in Pittston in 1783, became the healing Elishas to many a needy household. H.C.L. Von Storch settled in Providence in 1807. A German by birth, he inherited the habits of industry and economy characterizing the people, which in a few years enabled him to unfold the field from the forest, and gather about him a competency.
The main portion of Providence village stands upon land which came into possession of James Griffin in the winter of 1812, who moved with his family into the solitary log-house vacated by Holmes. The labor of destroying the large trees upon the new land for the reception of seed not always rewarding the husbandman with the yield expected, owing to the occurrence of frost and the presence of wild animals, was so slow, that the settlement of the township, encouraged only by a lumber and agricultural interest, made tardy advancement. As late as 1816, three
settlers only lived in the immediate vicinity of the Borough, Daniel Waderman, James and Thomas Griffin. The next year a clearing was commenced in the Notch by Levi Travis.
The land originally reserved in Providence exclusively for school purposes, owing to the prolonged Wyoming dispute and change of jurisdiction, lay idle. Forty-eight years elapse after the settlement of the valley before a school-house was erected within its limits. The first school-house, diminutive in proportion, but yet sufficient for the demand upon it, was built, a few rods below the Holmes house, in 1818. It is still standing by the road-side and used as a dwelling. Previous to this, schools were kept in private houses, and sometimes under the shade of a tree in summer, and some, if taught at all, were taught to read, write and cipher by the fireside at home. In the upper portion of the village, near the terminus of the Peoples Street Railway, stands an old brown school-house, erected in 1834, known as the Heerman's or "Bell school-house". The bell giving the house its name, costing fifteen dollars, paid for by subscription, hung in the modest belfry for forty-five years, when it was transferred to the Graded School building. It was the first bell ever heard on the plains of the Lackawanna, and as its animating tones rang out in the air, and were borne by the breeze over hill and valley, it awakened a pride that was ever cherished by the older inhabitants until its sudden and vandalic removal a few years since. The bell is yet sound and sweet in its vibrations, and serves to call the unwilling urchin to school as in days of yore. A partisan spirit was introduced into the school, which so embittered the relations of the neighborhood as to result in the erection of a new school-house across the river in 1836 under Democratic auspices.
Dr. Silas B. Robinson came into the township in 1823, where he creditably practiced his profession nearly forty years. So long had he lived in the township, and so well
was he known for his blunt manners, blameless life, and kind heart, even with all his pardonable eccentricities, that his presence was welcome everywhere, and his sudden death in 1860 widely lamented.
Nothing tended to give a vigorous direction to Providence toward a village more than the Philadelphia and Great Bend Turnpike. This highway, well known as the "Drinker Turnpike", promised as it passed through the village with a tri-weekly stage-coach and mail, to land passengers from the valley in Philadelphia after two days of unvarying jolting. This road, chartered in 1819, completed in 1826, was the first highway through Cobb's Gap. The Connecticut road, long traversed by the emigrant, casting a wishful look into the valley, passed over the rough summit of the mountain, here cut in twain by Roaring Brook. The Luzerne and Wayne County turnpike built this year, intersected Drinker's road at Providence.
As the vilage from these causes, and from its central position began to grow into importance, Slocum Hollow, shorn of its glory by the abandonment of its forge and stills, was judged by the Department at Washington as being too obscure a point for a post-office, as the receipts for the year 1827 averaged only $3.37-1/2 per quarter. The office was removed the next year to its thriftier rival, Providence.
(Footnote: The change that a third of a century brings our race, can be readily appreciated by a glance at "The list of Letters remaining in Providence Post Office, July 1, 1835" as copied from the Northern Pennsylvanian, a weekly paper printed in Carbondale, by Amzi Wilson. Of the persons thus addressed but a single one survives--the venerable Zephaniah Knapp of Pittston.
Eleazor H. Atherton Henry Pepper Amasa Cook Louisa Forest
John Lurne Francis Mead David Patrick David S. Rice
Hannah Van Stork John Morden Stephen Tripp Conner Phillips
Barney Carey Wm. C. Green Alva Dana Robert C. Hury
Aug. Jenks Thos. T. Atherton Selah Mead Phineas Carman
Zephaniah Knapp John Bilson P.C. ------ Samuel Waderman
Maria Chase David Krotzer Samuel Stevens Isaac Searles
Joseph Lance Michael Agnew Oliver Phillips W. Whitlock
William G. Knapp
JOHN VAUGHN, Jn., P.M.
On what is now the southwest corner of Market and Main streets, Elisha S. Potter and Michael McKeal in 1828 inaugerated a country store upon the popular principle of universal credit, and they were so successful in establishing it, that some of their dues are yet outstanding. The late Elisha S. Potter, and our townsman Nathaniel Cottrill, looking forward to the future value of the idle acres surrounding "Razorville", as the village was long called, purchased fourteen acres of the Holmes tract in 1828, including the fine water privileges, for $285 per acre. Mr. Cottrill shortly afterward came into possession of the entire interest of Esq. Potter, and erected a grist-mill upon the premises. The village has been visited by three tornadoes since its settlement. The most fearful one, or the "great blow", swept away a great portion of the village on the 3d of July, 1834. During the afternoon of that day, which was one of unusual warmth, the thunder now and then breaking from the blackened sky, gave notice of the approaching storm. It came with the fury of a tropical whirlwind. A strong northwesterly current of air rushing down through Leggett's Gap, met the main body as it whirled from the more southern gap, contiguous to Leggett's, and concentrating at a point opposite the present residence of Mr. Cottrill, commenced its wild work. As it crossed the mountain, it swept down trees of huge growth in its progress, leaving a path strewn with the fallen forest.
At Providence seems to have been the funnel of the northwest current, which, as it arrived at the Lackawanna, was turned by that from the southwest to a northeast direction. Before dusk the gale attained its height, when the wind, accompanied with clouds of dust, blew through the streets, lifting roofs, houses, barns, fences, and even cattle in one instance, from the earth and dashing them to pieces in the terrible exultation of the elements.
Nearly every house here was either prostrated, disturbed, or destroyed in the course of a few seconds. A
meeting-house, partly built, in the lower part of the village, was blown down and the frame carried a great distance. The house and store of N. Cottrill, standing opposite the tavern kept by him at this time, was raised from its foundation and partly turned around from the west to the northwest, and left in this angular position. The chimney, however, fell, covering up a cradle holding the babe of Mrs. Phinney, but being singularly protected by the shielding boards, the child, when found in about an hour afterward, was laughing and unharmed.
Some large square timber, lying in the vicinity, was hurled many rods: one large stick, ambitious as the battering ram of old, passed endwise entirely through the tavern-house, and was only arrested in its progress by coming into contact with the hill sloping just back of the dwelling, into which it plunged six or seven feet. In its journey--or forcible entry, as lawyers might term it--it passed through the bedroom of Mrs. Cottrill, immediately under her bed.
Gravel-stones were driven through panes of glass, leaving holes as smooth as a bullet or a diamond could make, while shingles and splinters, with the fleetness of the feathered arrow, were thrown into clapboards and other wooden obstructions, presenting a strange picture of the fantastic.
The office of the late Elisha S. Potter, Esq., standing in the lower part of the village, was caught up in the screw-like funnel of the whirlwind, and carried over one hundred feet, and fell completely inverted, smashing in the roof; it was left in its half-somerset position, standing on its bare plates. The venerable and esteemed old squire and Mr. Otis Severance, who were transacting business in the office at the time, kept it company during its aerial voyage, both escaping with less injury than fright.
The embankment of the old bridge across the Lackawanna, from its south abutment, was sided with large hewn timbers, remaining there for years, and well saturated with water. On the lower side these were taken
entirely from their bed, and pitched quite two hundred feet into the adjacent meadow. An old aspiring fanning-mill, standing at the front door of the grist-mill, upon the ground, took flight in the whirlwind, and was carried in the door of the second story of the mill, without being broken by the power so rudely assailing.
Along the eastern side of the road leading to Carbondale, in places where the focus of the current dipped or reached the earth, all was wreck and disorder. Young hickory-trees left standing by the settlers for shade and other purposes, and apple-trees bending with the ripening apple, fell like weeds, and the remaining branches and roots twisted, torn, and uprooted, revealed to the passer-by the strength of the blow.
At the present thriving and appropriately-named Capoose works, owned by Mr. Pulaski Carter, there lay a strip of meadow upon the bank of the Lackawanna, where was standing a small carding-machine. This building was quickly demolished, the wool and rolls being spun along the fields and woods for miles. Some were carried in an oblique direction to Cobb's Pond, on the very summit of the Moosic Mountain.
One of the most singular incidents, however, in the phenomenon of the hurricane, occurred to a young woman living half a mile from the village, on the route taken by the whirlwind. Like many timid ones of the town, tremulous at the approach of the lightning and thunder, she sought refuge in bed. While smothering in the feathers under the covering of the quilt, the bed on which she was lying was whirled from the house, just unroofed, and carried along by the force of the black current of air several rods, and landed safely in the meadow adjoining, before she was aware of her aerial and unjolting flight.
In 1849, Providence village was incorporated into a borough; in 1866, consolidated into the city of Scranton, forming the first and second wards of this young metropolis of the Lackawanna valley.
DUNMORE (see footnote)
Like Scranton, Hyde Park, Green Ridge, Dickson, Olyphant, Pecktown, and Petersburg, Dunmore is one of the numerous villages which sprang from the original township of Providence. Purchased of the natives in 1754 by the whites, long before the tomahawk was flung over the Moosic, the territory now embracing this village offered its solitude in vain to the pioneers seeking a home in the wilderness between the Delaware and the Susquehanna until the summer of 1783. At this time, William Allsworth, a shoemaker by trade, who had visited the Connecticut land at Wyoming for the purpose of selecting a place for his home the year previous, reached this point at evening, where he encamped and lit his fire in the forest where Dunmore was thus founded.
The old Connectiut or Cobb road, shaded by the giant pines extending from the summit of the muntain to Capoose, had no diverging pathway to Slocum Hollow, No. Six, or Blakeley, because neither of these places had yet acquired a settler or a name. From the "Lackawa" settlement, on the Paupack, some four and twenty miles from the cabin of Allsworth, there stood but two habitations in 1783, one at Little Meadows, the other at Cobb's, both kept as houses of entertainment. The need of more places of rest to cheer the emigrants toiling toward Wyoming with heavy burdens drawn by the sober team of oxen, induced Mr. Allsworth to fix his abode at this spot. While he was building his cabin from trees fallen for the purpose of gaining space and material, his covered wagon furnished a home for his family. At night, heaps of logs were kept burning until long after midnight, to intimidate wolves, bears, wild cats, and panthers inhabiting the chaparral toward Roaring Brook and Capoose. Deer and bear were so abundant for many years, within
(Footnote: Named from the Earl of Dunmore)
sight of his clearing, that his family never trusted to his rifle in vain for a supply of venison or the substantial haunches of the bear. In the fall and winter months, wild beasts made incursions with such frequency, that domestic animals at night could be safely kept only in palisaded inclosures. These were a strong stockade made form the well-driven sapling, and generally built contiguous to the dwelling, into which all kinds of live stock were dirven for protection after nightfall. Every farmer in the township of Providence, unwilling to see his home invaded and occupied by the common enemy at the dead of night, took this precaution less than eighty years ago. And even then they were not exempt from depredation at Mr. Allsworth's. At one time, just at the edge of evening, a bear groped his way into the pen where some of his pigs were slumbering, seized the sow in his brawny paws and bore the noisy porker hurriedly into the woods, where it was seen no more. The affrighted pigs were left unharmed in the pen. At another time, during the absence from the home of Mr. Allsworht, a large panther came to his place before sundown in search of food. This animal is as partial to veal as the bear is to pork. A calf lay in the unguarded inclosure at the time. Upon this the panther sprang, when Mrs. Allsworth, alarmed by the bleat of the calf, seized a pair of heavy tongs from the fire-place, and, with a heroism distinguishing most of the women of that day, drove the yellow intruder away without its intended meal. The same night, however, the calf was killed by the panther, which in return was captured in a trap the same week, and slain.
The house of Mr. Allsworth, famed for the constant readiness of the host to smooth by his dry jokes and kind words the ruggedness of every man's daily road, became a common point of interest and attraction to the emigrant or the wayfarer. The original cabin of Mr. Allsworth stood upon the spot now occupied by the brick store of John D. Boyle.
The descendants of Mr. Allsworth have filled many places of trust and usefulness in the county, and adorned the various walks of social life. For twelve years this pioneer had no neighbors nearer than those living in Capoose or Providence. In the summer of 1795, Charles Dolph, John Carey, and John West began the labor of clearing and plowing lands in the neighborhood of Bucktown or the Corners, as this place was long called after the first foot-path opened from Blakeley to the Roaring Brook, crossed the Wyoming road at Allsworth's.
Edward Lunnon, Isaac Dolph, James Brown, Philip Swartz and Levi De Puy, purchased land of the State between 1799-1805 and located in this portion of Providence Township.
The old tavern, long since vanished with its round, swinging sign and low bar-room, one corner of which, fortified with long pine-pickets, extending from the bar to the very ceiling, in times of yore, was owned successively by Wm. Allsworth, Philip Swartz, Isaac Dolph, Henry W. Drinker, and Samuel De Puy, before its destruction by fire, a number of years ago.
The external aspect of Dunmore, somber in appearance and tardy in its growth, with a clearing here and there occupied by men superior to fear or adversity, promised so much by its agricultural expectations in 1813, that Dr. Orlo Hamlin with his young wife, was induced to settle a mile north of Allsworth. He was the first physician and surgeon locating in Providence. This locality, fresh with hygiene from the forest, offered so little compensation to a profession without need or appreciation among the hardy woodmen, that the doctor the next year removed to Salem, Wayne County, Pennsylvania.
The population of Dunmore and Blakeley, doubling in numbers and increasing in wealth, warranted Stephen Tripp in erecting a saw and grist mill in 1820, on the Roaring Brook half a mile south of the village, the debris of whose walls, forgotten by the hand that reared
(Engraved portrait of John B. Smith with his signature)
page 210 - blank
them, are seen at No. Six, favored with no thought of their former value to the community.
A store was opened at the Corners in 1820 under the auspices of the Drinker Turnpike; but the village, consisting of but four houses, had but a negative existence until the Pennsylvania Coal company, in 1847-8, turned the sterile pasture-fields around it into a town liberal in the extent of its territory and diversified by every variety of life.
The immense machine-shops of this company, concentrating and fostering a vast amount of superior mechanical skill, are located at No. Six, and serve to give Dunmore additional note and character as a business village. In fact, Dunmore can congratulate itself not so much upon the internal wealth of its hills, as upon the vigor of the men who furrowed them out, and thus encouraged a town at this time deriving its daily inspirations wholly from this source. While Gen. John Ewen, President of the Pennsylvania Coal Company, especially looks after its affairs in New York with a zeal assuring his courage and fidelity, the general superintendence of the entire works in Pennsylvania has been exercised by John B. Smith, of Dunmore, through an administration of nearly twenty years, in a manner so discreet, popular, and yet withal so modest, as jointly to advance the interests of the company, impart strength of development to Pittston, Dunmore, and Hawley, and change the circumstances and fortunes of a large class of men employed along the line of the road, who looked and trusted to industry for reward.
Dunmore is now an incorporated borough, is connected with Scranton, Hyde Park, and Providence by a street-railroad, and enjoys an aggregate population of about five thousand souls.
This information was typed and Submitted by: Jean Vineyard
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