(navigation image)
Home American Libraries | Canadian Libraries | Universal Library | Community Texts | Project Gutenberg | Biodiversity Heritage Library | Children's Library | Advanced Microdevices Manuals | Linear Circuits Manuals | Supertex Manuals | Sundry Manuals | Echelon Manuals | RCA Manuals | National Semiconductor Manuals | Hewlett Packard Manuals | Signetics Manuals | Fluke Manuals | Datel Manuals | Intersil Manuals | Zilog Manuals | Maxim Manuals | Dallas Semiconductor Manuals | Temperature Manuals | SGS Manuals | Quantum Electronics Manuals | STDBus Manuals | Texas Instruments Manuals | IBM Microsoft Manuals | Grammar Analysis | Harris Manuals | Arrow Manuals | Monolithic Memories Manuals | Intel Manuals | Fault Tolerance Manuals | Johns Hopkins University Commencement | PHOIBLE Online | International Rectifier Manuals | Rectifiers scrs Triacs Manuals | Standard Microsystems Manuals | Additional Collections | Control PID Fuzzy Logic Manuals | Densitron Manuals | Philips Manuals | The Andhra Pradesh Legislative Assembly Debates | Linear Technologies Manuals | Cermetek Manuals | Miscellaneous Manuals | Hitachi Manuals | The Video Box | Communication Manuals | Scenix Manuals | Motorola Manuals | Agilent Manuals
Search: Advanced Search
Anonymous User (login or join us)
Upload
See other formats

Full text of "Historical sketches of Plymouth, Luzerne co., Penna."

UnivcrsityofSciTdnton 

TheliWary 




K-i 



'■&:. 






-^H^A'l 



:fC-.-- V 



. . .'f."" •}?>.* 






ir., 






19 




4^C^ 



'W# tfE^ 




K^Vf^ii, i1 



HENDRICK B. WRIGHT. 




PLYBIOUTH EOCK. 



HISTORICAL SKETCHES 



OP 



PLYMOUTH, 

LUZERNE CO., PENNA. 

BY HEKDEIOK B. WEIGHT, 

OF WILKES-BAREE, PA 



With Twenty- Five Photographs of some of the Early Settles &nC Present 

Residents of the Town of Plymouth ; Old Landmarks ; Family 

Eesidences.; and Places of Special Note. 



PHILADELPHIA: 

T. B. PETERSON & BROTHERS; 

306 CHESTNUT STREET. 



Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1S73, by 

HENDRICK B. WRIGHT, 

In the Office of the Librai-ian of Congress, at Washington, D. C. 






5 1 1 



DEDICATION. 



To Henderson Gayloed, Esq., 

My Dear Sir : — Three of your name and kin- 
dred were members of Captain Samuel Ransom's 
company, in the Revolutionary War. Another was 
a lieutenant in Captain Whittlesey's company, and 
fell in the memorable battle of Wyoming, on the 
third of July, 1778. 

Among the brave men who volunteered under the 
flag of our country in the recent Rebellion, your 
son, Asher, occupied as proud a position for courage 
as the best of them ; and was stricken down upon 
the field, covered with three honorable scars, which 
he had previously received in the same number of 
engagements. 

A private of his company informed me, since the 

following sketches were prepared for the press, that 

(17) 



18 DEDICATION. 

" Captain Gaylord was ever in front of his men 
in the heat of action ; bidding them ' to follow him.' 
A braver soldier, or more daring man, never drew 
sword from scabbard." 

As the survivor, therefore, of a family possessing 
such a record ; and having been yourself one of the 
most successful of our early merchants — a man of 
exemplary private character, exalted Christian vir- 
tues, and liberal charities ; to all of which, I have 
been myself a witness for more than half a century 
— it affords me much gratification, to dedicate to 
you these sketches, which are designed to preserve, in 
grateful memory, recollections of the representative 
men of Old Plymouth, who have reached that goal, 
towards which we are both rapidly advancing. 
Veey Sincerely Yours, 

THE AUTHOK. 

Wilkes-Barre, AprU 10th, 1873. 



CONTENTS. 



CHAPTER I. 

Its kame. — when" settled, . . . Page 33 

CHAPTER n. 

The Shawnee Tribe of Indians, and the First 
White Man. — Grasshopper Battle, . 41 

CHAPTER m. 
The First Settlers, 59 

CHAPTER IV. 

The Pennamite and Yankee War. — Commencement 
OF Troubles. — Captain Stewart. — Lieutenant 
Jenkins. — Patterson's Administration. — Ar- 
rest and Imprisonment of^ Settlers. — Battle 

OF Nanticoke, 71 

(19) 



20 CONTENTS. 

CHAPTER V. 

Penkamite and Yankee War continued. — Ice 
Flood. — Expulsion op the Settlers and Acts 
OF Cruelty Inflicted upon Them. — Settlers 
Return. — Fight on Ross Hill. — Tories Driven 
OUT OF Shawjs'ee, 110 

CHAPTER VI. 

Pennamite War. — Legislation. — Decree at Tren- 
ton. — Confirming Act. — Compromise Act. — 
Peace. — John Franklin, .... 129 

CHAPTER VII. 

Revolutionary War. — Patriotism. — Captain Dur- 
kee's and Captain Ransom's Companies. — Gar- 
rison Hill. — Our Men Under Fire. — Wash- 
ington's Opinion of Them. — Battle of Wyo- 
MiN^G. — Mr. Washburn's Statement, . 156 

CHAPTER VIII. 

Indian Murderers and Prisoners. — Conduct of 
THE British Government. — Perkins, Williams, 
BiDLACK, Pike, Rogers, Van Campen, Pence, 
Benjamin and Elisha Harvey, George P. 
Ransom, Louis Harvey, Lucy Bullford and 
McDowell, 200 

CHAPTER IX. 
The War of 1812, 242 



CONTENTS. 21 

CHAPTER X. 

Town Meetings. — Eakly System of Laws. — First 
Town Officers, 255 

CHAPTER XI. 

Occupations and Habits of the People in Ear- 
ly Days. — Industry. — Economy. — Church. — 
School-Teachers. — Rogers, Patterson, Curtis, 
Sweet, and others, 268 

CHAPTER Xn. 

Old Landmarks. — Pound, Swing-Gate, Common- 
field, Sign-Post, Mills, Etc., . . . 284 

CHAPTER XHI. 
Shad Fisheries. — Game, .... 293 

CHAPTER XIV. 
Early Merchants, 303 

CHAPTER XV. 

Coal Trade, and Coal Men, . . . 313 

CHAPTER XVI. 

Early Physicians — Morse, Moreland, Chamber- 
lain, and Gaylord, ' 332 



22 CONTENTS. 

CHAPTER XVII. 

Eaelt Pkeacheks — Rogers, Lewis, Lane, Pearce, 
AND Peck, 341 

CHAPTER XVIII. 

Old Families. — The Bidlacks', . . . 351 

CHAPTER XIX. 

Old Familes continued — Reynolds' — Nesbitts' — 
Wadhams' — Davenports' — Van Loons' — Prin- 
gles' — Turners' — Athertons' — Cases' — Lamer- 
oux, 360 

CHAPTER XX. 

Old Families continued — Joseph Wright, . 402 



ILLUSTRATIONS. 



Portrait of Hekdrick B. Wright, . Frontispiece. 

Plymouth Rock, " " 

Portrait of Jamesoint Harvey, . . Fage 109 
The Old RAjq-soM House, ..." 164 
Portrait of Colokel George P. Ra]s"som, 

(Taken- at 85), "240 

The Old Elm, or Whipping-Post, . " 266 

The Old Academy, "279 

The Wright House, and Birth-place of 

the Author, " 306 

John B. Smith's Opera House, . " 309 

Portrait of Henderson Gaylord, . " 311 

Portrait of Samuel Davenport, . . " 313 

Abijah Smith's Coal Opening of 1807, " 315 

Portrait of John Smith, . . . . " 317 

Portrait of Freeman Thomas, . . " 327 

Portrait of John B. Smith, ..." 332 

(23) 



24 list of illustkations. 

Residen'Ce of Henderson" Gayloed, . 

PORTEAIT OF ReV. GeORGE LaISTE, 

Portrait of Rev. Benjamiis" Bidlack, 
Portrait of Bekjamii^ Rey]sj-olds, 
Portrait of William C. Reyjstolds, . 
The Wadhams House, . . . . 
Portrait of Calvijst Wadhams, 
Portrait of Samuel Wadhams, . 
Portrait of Elijah C. Wadhams, . 
Portrait of Joseph Wright, 



%e 


840 


« 


347 


11 


352 


u 


301 


« 


365 


(( 


371 


« 


376 


(I 


379 


<( 


380 


u 


402 



PREFACE. 



In a conversation, some months since, with an old 
Plymouth friend, he remarked : — " that all of the 
original settlers of the town had gone to their final 
resting-place, and that but a few of their children 
remained — and that these were now far advanced in 
years; that some of the old family names had become 
extinct; and that some one ought to prepare and 
write out a few biographical sketches of the most 
noted and prominent pioneers of the town. Their 
descendants should be informed of their early trials, 
sacrifices, and exposures; and what a vast amount 
of labor they performed, and what hardships they 
endured, to lay the foundation of all that wealth, 
which their kindred were now realizing." 

I replied, that I thought Mr. Charles Miner had 

pretty well accomplished this, in his " Hazleton Trav- 

(25) 



26 PKEFACE. 

ellers." He said, " no ; and if I would refer to Mr. 
Miner's book, I would see that he had written of but 
some four or five Phnnouth families. Mr. Miner 
spoke of the representative men, of the old time, 
throughout the entire valley. His limits would not, 
of course, permit him to go into that detail, which I 
am now suggesting." 

I said that the publication of a volume containing 
such biographical notices, would be attended with 
very considerable labor and expense ; that the sub- 
ject matter of the book would be entirely local, and 
of little interest, save to the comparatively small num- 
ber of people, who were the immediate descendants 
of the first settlers of the town, and it would also be 
a difficult matter to procure a competent person to 
perform it. 

He replied, by saying, " that he thought I 
was the only person living possessing the necessary 
knowledge of the old people of the town — many of 
whom were, in their day and generation, men of mark; 
some of whom had rendered their country signal 
services, while others had been carried into captivity 
by the Indians — to write a personal history of their 
exploits, sufferings, and perils, and he thought that I 



PREFACE. , 27 

ought to be willing to bestow the labor of doing the 
work. 

" That as to the cost of publishing the work, when 
written, if the descendants of the old heroes who are 
now sitting down in comfortable ease and luxury, 
enjoying the fruits of the large coal properties which 
they have inherited, and which are the legacies re- 
sulting from the toil and hardships, as well as the 
sagacity of their ancestors, are unwilling to foot 
the bill, why, you and I will do it for them." 

With much warmth and feeling he continued; "it 
will be, at most, a paltiy sum; and the memories of 
many of these old people are dear to us, and there- 
fore let us put them in history ! There is not a New 
England town of the population of ours that has not 
its local history written out and published, and so let 
us have our history — we have the materials to make 
it one of interest, and it should be done." 

" Therefore," said he, "go at it, and when you 
have completed it, name my share to be contributed." 

Impelled, therefore, by such generous impulses, 
I could not well decline; and accordingly, soon after 
this conversation, I commenced writing out some of 
the personal notices of the representative men of the 



28 PEEFACE. 

town, contained in tlie following pages. But in tra- 
cing out the characters of the subjects I had selected, 
I found they were so intimately blended with the 
startling and exciting events of the Kevolutionary 
struggle, "the Yankee and Pennamite" dispute, 
Indian captivities, and border raids, that mere bio- 
graphical sketches of a few leading men, would not 
correspond with my own ideas, at least, as to what 
was due to old Plymouth, and the hardy and intrepid 
men who had founded the town. 

I therefore concluded that instead of drawing a 
series of personal portraits, I would write up the his- 
tory of the town. Not a history precisely, either, 
with its connected chain of events, dates, and chrono- 
logical tables; but rather outlines and sketches of 
the principal men, and most noted events; commenc- 
ing with the settlement of the town, and continuing 
down to the year 1850 ; noting the early habits, 
customs, and amusements of the old settlers; giving 
memoranda of the early merchants, ministers of the 
gospel, physicians and schoolmasters; also an account 
of the shad fisheries, old land-marks, game, and 
many other matters purely municipal, but still of 
interest to those who had knowledge upon the sub- 



PREFACE. 29 

jects directly, or held them, in tradition, from their 

fathers. 

For half of the period of the hundmji years of 

which I write, I have a personal knowledge. Being 

a native of the tovra, and a resident in it for a num- 

a 
her of years, I had a personal knowledge of, and an 

intimate acquaintance with, I may say, nearly all the 
people of the town for more than half a century. 
From the survivors of the first settlers I received the 
traditionary characters of their cotemporaries and 
predecessors. This personal knowledge, therefore, 
enabled me to collate and prepare materials for the 
volume which, under other circumstances, would 
have been attended with much trouble and great 
research. 

Many of the events which I have written out, 
have been heretofore given to the public by the his- 
torical writers of the valley. I have therefore, not in 
all cases, cited authorities, for the reason that I 
had the same sources of inform|,tion, and had become 
familiar with them long before their publication. 
The traditionary history of the town was a subject as 
thoroughly fixed in my mind, as the lessons taught 
me in the old Academy. As to facts, in some cases, 



30 PREFACE. 

I differ -vrith the authors who have preceded me and 
who have written upon the same subject matter. 
I have done this, however, under the impression that 
my sources of information were the most reliable. 

For instance, the tragedy attending the capture 
of Pike, Rogers and others, is stated differently by 
me, compared with previously written accounts of it. 
I made this change, because I have had repeatedly an 
extended and minute account of the whole affair from 
the mouths of both these men. While all the writers 
agree in the main, they are widely apart as to some 
of the minor details. This has been mainly pro- 
duced by the incorrect statements, from time to time 
made, by Van Campen, and which have been received 
as truths. 

When, therefore, I am in collision with the gentle- 
men who have gone over the same ground before me 
as to the verity of any point, I must fall back upon 
what I regard as my own superior opportunities of 
information. Nor have I, in such cases, relied wholly 
upon my own knowledge; but have consulted with 
aged persons, old residents of the town now living, 
whose facilities of information were even better than 
my own; and have accordingly declined to change 



PREFACE. 31 

the thread of published history without their concur- 
rence in opinion with me. But as the changes so 
made are comparatively few, and do not materially 
alter former texts, it was probably hardly necessary 
to have been alluded to at all. Still, those who write 
should be very exact in their statements, especially on 
historical matters. It is in this view that I have 
made allusion to the subject. 

To Jameson Harvey and Henderson Gaylord, both 
aged gentlemen, and old residents of the town, I am 
under deep obligations for many of the facts and inci- 
dents contained in the volume. 

To Stewart Pearce, author of the Annals of Lu- 
zerne, and Steuben Jenkins, both gentlemen who have 
devoted much time to the research of those things 
which concern the early settlement and occupation of 
the valley by our ancestors, I also tender the expres- 
sions of my gratitude. Mr. Pearce is, upon his 
mother's side, of the family of Captain Lazarus Stew- 
art, whose name occurs honorably in the following 
pages. Mr. Jenkins is a lineal descendant of Colonel 
John Jenkins, who headed the first Connecticut 
immigrant colony that set foot upon the banks 
of the Susquehanna. 



32 PREFACE. 

Both of these gentlemen have for many years 
past been very industrious and persevering in hunting 
out and treasuring up the early antiquities of the 
valley, and have thus become possessed of a large 
store of historic matter, from which, at their request 
and approval, I have made liberal draughts. 

The photographic Kkenesses, and views, were 
executed and prepared by Mr. William H. Schurch, 
of Scranton, in this county. It is to be hoped that 
the clever style, and artistic manner in which they 
have been produced, may lead to a more general 
patronage towards him upon the part of the peo- 
ple of the valley. 

Wilkes-Barre, April lOth, 1873. 



HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 



CHAPTER I. 

ITS NAME. WHEN SETTLED. 

IDESIGrN to write some of the historical events of 
Plymouth ; give sketches of some of the early set- 
tlers, and note down some of the old landmarks. In 
a few years those who were cotemporaneous with a 
generation which held the tradition of its early his- 
tory, will have passed away, as the old monuments 
and once noted emblems are fast disappearing. For 
more than fifty years I have had a personal knowl- 
edge of the place. It is the town of my nativity; 
for there, on the twenty-fourth day of April, 1808, I 
first saw the light of day. The twenty years follow- 
ing, it was my home, and since that time I have lived 
in close vicinity to it. My father died there, and it 
had been his residence for more than three-fourths of 
his long and well-spent life. 

I do not therefore hear the name of Plymouth 
pronounced that it does not remind me of my old 
home, and bring vividly before me the scenes of my 

(33) 



34 HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

cliildhood. There is something inexplicable that 
clings to the memory connected with the place of our 
birth. However humble it may have been, its name 
has a charm which lingers upon the memory, and 
which we dwell upon with a keen satisfaction. And 
how forcibly will this strike the minds of many who 
now reside there, engaged in busy and exciting em- 
ployments, who may chance to read this, whose homes 
in early life are separated from them by the great 
ocean ! 

These reflections carry me back through a long 
term of years, and bring beforp me afresh the faces 
and forms of men, now passed away, who, in their day 
and generation, were the representative men of the 
town ; who filled the local offices, who established 
the public morals, and whose opinion and judgment 
were the law of the vicinage. They were a hardy and 
resolute people, as I first knew them — and they were, 
many of them, the same men who had erected their 
residences upon the same places, where the fires had 
scarcely abated, around which had assembled, in coun- 
cil, the Indian braves and sachems. These had gath- 
ered up their implements of the chase, wound their 
blankets about their swarthy shoulders, and with their 
squaws and papooses, turned their faces, and com- 
menced their march toward the setting sun, to give 
place, under the laws of destiny, to those who were to 
succeed them. 

The conqueror and the vanquished have gone to 



THE EARLY SETTLERS. 35 

their last home ; the Indian to his hunting-ground in 
the Spirit Land, and the pale face to the white man's 
Heaven. Who can say that the destination of both is 
not in the same sphere ? 

It is some idea of the appearance and character 
of some of these early settlers of Plymouth, as I knew 
them, and as I am informed from other reliable sources, 
that I would write doAvn — that it may be preserved to 
their descendants. To a large portion of the people 
of the present populous town, the subject of which I 
wi'ite may not be of any special interest ; but to that 
portion of the population whose fathers and grandfa- 
thers were among the first settlers of the town, I am 
quite certain that it will. The labor upon my part 
will be considerable, but I am -Willing to bestow it. 
In my simjjle and plain narrative of events, and 
sketches of personal character, I shall make no preten- 
sions to rhetorical style. I will deal with facts in a 
plain way, and state them as I knew them myself to 
be, or from the mouths of reliable witnesses, or public 
records. My object and design being to save from 
oblivion an outline, if nothing more, of the men of 
Plymouth a half century ago. 

The town fifty years ago, and within my own 
recollection, was but a small village, compared with 
its present dimensions — in fact it could hardly be call- 
ed a village, the residences being so scattered along 
what is now the great thoroughfare, that it was much 
more country than town. 



36 HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

The early settlers were principally immigrants from 
New England. They were a hardy, robust class of 
adventurers, who came to the western frontier to es- 
tablish their new homes and erect their religious 
altars. Firm men, men of decision of character, and 
who were fully imjDressed with the conviction that 
their success depended solely upon their industrious 
habits ; without means, their strong hands and reso- 
lute hearts were their whole stock in trade, and in 
many cases, their trusty rifle the chief value of their 
personal effects. Had they not possessed these quali- 
ties they would never have incurred the hazard, and 
toil, and exposure, incident to the wilderness they 
came to occupy. For the land was not only to be 
subdued, but the savages were to be expelled. The 
young adventurer, therefore, thus reasoning at his New 
England fireside, must needs have had courage as well 
as indomitable perseverance, or he could never have 
gathered up sufficient resolution to embark upon his 
perilous enterprise. 

In true Puritan style, and emblematic of their 
ancestral line, they brought with them the name 
of their new colony. It was an off-shoot of the 
"Kock of Plymouth" — hallowed by the first foot- 
prints of their fathers, when they stepped from the 
deck of the " May Flower," upon the shore of a New 
World. 

The refugees of English intolerance had conse- 
crated that rock, and the legacy came down to their 



THE EARLY SETTLERS. 37 

cliildreii ; and more and more to be revered as time 
and distance came apace. 

The Puritans, under old John Kobinson, their pas- 
tor and leader, baptized the soil they first landed upon 
in the New World with the name of Plymouth, after 
the name of the last place they touched in the Old, 
previous to their embarkation. Immigrants, in time, 
carried the name with them to Plymouth, in Litch- 
field county, Connecticut — and their children brought 
it to the shores of the Susquehanna, 

Our name, therefore, antedates the landing of the 
Pilgrims, on the twentieth of December, 1G20, upon 
Plymouth Kock. Age has made it venerable, and 
the stirring incidents connected with its transmission, 
are subjects that we dwell upon with much satisfac- 
tion — and particularly such of us as have had ances- 
tors connected with these incidents. 

I have now in my own custody the veritable cane 
which that stern and unbending old Dissenter from 
the English Church, brought with him upon the 
" May Flower," in her voyage to the New World. It 
has been handed down from generation to generation, 
with pious and reverential care. It is a family heir- 
loom, inherited by my wife from her father, the late 
John W. Kobinson, Esquire, of Wilkes-Barre, who 
was a descendant, in direct line, of the founder of the 
English Dissenter's Church. It is a valuable relic, 
and considering its age of over two hundred and fifty 
years, is in a state of perfect preservation, save that 



38 HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

the initials, J. R., engraved upon its silver head, have 
become nearly defaced ; but still enough is left of the 
outline of the letters to indicate their character. 

The date of the birth of our Plymouth may be 
fixed on the twenty-eighth of December, 1768 — thus 
making it over one hundred years of age. 

On that day the Susquehanna Company held a 
meeting at Hartford, Connecticut, to make prelimina- 
ry arrangements for settling the Wyoming lands. It 
was then resolved that five townships, each five miles 
square, should be granted to two hundred settlers ; 
that forty should set out immediately, and the re- 
maining one hundred and sixty in the following spring. 
The five townships thus decreed to be laid out were 
named, Plymouth, Kingston, Hanover, Wilkes-Barre, 
and Pittston. The names of them all were not then 
assigned, but Plymouth was one of them that was 
then designated. SeePea?"ce's ^^ Annals of Luzerne," 
p. 63. 

Immediately after this meeting of the Susquehan- 
na Company, immigration commenced ; and before 
the close of the year 1769, the whole of the two hun- 
dred had arrived in the valley. Some of them settled 
at once in Plymouth upon their arrival ; but I am im- 
able to ascertain if the whole party, the quota assigned 
for Plj'mouth, settled there in that and the previous 
year. It appears, however, that the Rev. Noah Wad- 
hams, the great grandfather of the present gentle- 
men of that name, now resident there, was preach- 



THE CONNECTICUT CHAKTER. 39 

ing the gospel there in 1772, but three years after- 
wards. 

Plymouth is one of those noted seventeen town- 
ships in this part of Pennsylvania, the territory of 
which was vested in the Susquehanna Company, and 
known under the name of the " Connecticut Charter." 
The grant was made on the twentieth of April, 1662, 
to the Connecticut Colony, by Charles II., in which 
that monarch recognizes the grant as the same which 
had been previously made by King James I. in 1620, 
to the " Plymouth Company." So that we find this 
name cotemporaneous with the first landing. 

The charter for the tract of land named was of 
peculiar dimensions. It ceded to the company the 
land between two parallel lines of latitude, in width 
from the Atlantic to the Pacific ocean. 

The geography of the country at that early day 
was very imperfectly understood. North America 
was supposed to be a narrow peninsula. When the 
extremes of the new continent were measured, and 
the area ascertained, it showed that the boundaries 
of King Charles' grant to the colony were sixty- 
nine miles in width, and some four thousand in 
length ! 

Within the limits of this grant, and under this 
title, Plymouth was settled. The length of the Con- 
necticut Charter in years gone by was a by- word; and 
in old times, when the matter was better understood, 
and was often the subject of conversation, a person 



40 HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

who told a long story was said to have made it as 
long as the Connecticut Charter. The application of 
the phrase now would be little understood; but forty 
years ago, everybody within the Wyoming valley had 
some knowledge about the length of that ever-memo- 
rable charter. 

The occupation and settlement of the '' Susque- 
hanna Country," as the territory in earlier days was 
called, were prevented by the hostilities among the 
Indian tribes, growing out of the French and English 
war. On the twenty-eighth of December, 1768, as I 
have already stated, the Susquehanna Company made 
the first formidable movement towards the occupation 
of the land claimed under their charter. The reason, 
probably, of the action of this company at that time, 
was produced by the settlement of long-standing 
troubles between the British Government and the Six 
Nations of Indians, in a treaty at Fort Stanwix, con- 
cluded in that year. 

This opened the door for immigration, and the 
company immediately availed themselves of the op- 
portunity. Plymouth was considered as one of the 
most desirable of the seventeen Yankee towns, on ac- 
count of the broad sweep of remarkably fertile land 
which skirted its south-eastern border. It embraced 
an area of from two to three thousand acres, made up 
of alluvion, and was without the natural obstructions 
of forest trees ; so that it invited the plough-share of 
the hardy pioneer, without that preceding toil and 



THE SHAWNEES. 41 

labor necessary to prepare ground for cultivation, cov- 
ered with trees and herbage. 

The Shawnee flats were a little oasis in the wilder- 
ness, ready prepared for cultivation, and was an ex- 
ceedingly inviting spot to the young New Englander, 
compared with the rough and stony fields he left be- 
hind him. 



CHAPTER 11. 

THE SHAWNEE TRIBE OF INDIANS, AND THE FIRST 
WHITE MAN. GRASSHOPPER BATTLE. 

THE Shawnee tribe of Indians occupied Plymouth 
in 1742, when first visited by the white man. 
The tribe was not numerous. As early as 1608 they 
had, in league with the Hurons, been engaged in war 
on the Canadian frontier with the Iroquois, the con- 
federate tribes known as the Six Nations, and defeated, 
were obliged to leave their hunting-grounds. They 
wandered south as far as Florida. Their numbers had 
become decimated, and they were by no means a 
tribe, considered by their race, as formidable upon the 
war-path. Becoming there engaged in a war with the 
Spaniards, who then owned that territory, they mi- 
grated west in 1G90 to the Wabash; and finally in 
1697, upon the Conestoga Indians, who lived near 
the present city of Lancaster, in this state, becoming 



42 HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

security to William Perin for their good behavior, 
they removed to Pequea creek, below Lancaster. 

In 1701 William Penn made a tr^ty with the 
tribes upon the Susquehanna, and a portion of the 
Shawnee tribe located within the present limits of 
Plymouth, under the order and direction of the Six 
Nations, whose power and authority was absolute over 
all the Indian tribes of Pennsylvania, and from whom 
they demanded and received annual tribute. 

When, therefore, Count Zinzendorf, on his Chris- 
tian mission, visited Plymouth in the autumn of 1742, 
he found the Shawnees, with their chief, Kakowatchie; 
and their principal wigwam situate on the west bank 
of the small stream emptying into the river above the 
old village, and between the main road and the river, 
known in the early days of the white settlers as the 
farm of Noah Wadhams, Esquire, and upon which he 
lived and died. The Shawnee tribe at this time 
probably did not number over two hundred braves and 
warriors. They were subjects of the Six Nations, and 
completely under their orders and control; in fact a 
part of their own associates and tribe who had occu- 
pied this very ground, were obliged to surrender for 
the benefit of the fresh immigration from the Dela- 
ware, and make a new home upon the Ohio and Alle- 
gheny. Because the Shawnees had refused to fight 
the English, the enemy of the Six Nations, these con- 
federate tribes kept the poor Shawnees almost con- 
stantly in motion; and whenever they came within 



THE INDIAN TRIBES. 43 

the confederate jurisdiction, tliey seem to have been 
dealt with without regard to mercy. 

This tribe, however, occupied the present territory 
of Plymouth at the time of the first imprint of the 
foot of the white man. It has thus become a jDroper 
subject for us to inquire about. There are not enough 
of them left now to kindle a respectable council fire. 
The scattering remnant is merged in the names of 
more numerous and powerful western tribes — and even 
these in a very, very few years will have disappeared 
also. 

A hundred years ago the decree of the Iroquois, 
or the Six Nations, was clothed with the elements of 
power. The messenger who went forth with it was 
regarded with as much consideration and respect, 
through the vast country watered by the Susquehanna 
and its tributaries, as the ambassador, sent out at this 
day, by any crowned head in Europe to the subjects of 
his colonies, is treated by them. 

But the wheels of progress, or destiny, if the word 
better defines the idea, have crushed out the rule and 
sway of the haughty braves and warriors who gave 
tone and character to the name of these confederate 
tribes. Their wigwams have disappeared; their hunt- 
ing-grounds have put on the garbs of civilization, in 
the shape of towns and hamlets, and cultivated fields. 
All this may be right. God, in the wisdom of His 
providence, did not create the red man in vain. The 
laws of conquest have an indefinable meaning when we 



44 HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

come to square tliem by the Christian impulses of the 
human heart. 

The red man, in this land, 

" Was native to tlie manor bom." 

Owner, not by discovery, nor that more imperfect title, 
by conquest, we have no reason to question the theory 
but that here he was originally created, and this was 
his proper as well as legal home. How far we may 
assert the uncharitable, but too often inexorable plea 
of necessity as a palliation, may be a question of 
doubt as to his removal and extermination. Civiliza- 
tion has done this, but is that an element of civiliza- 
tion ? Statesmen and philosophers may well pause 
for reflection. It is a knotty problem for solution to 
determine whether might is right. And when the 
idea is brought home to us, in robbing us, by force, 
of that which has cost us a life-time of industry to 
acquire, we would hardly reconcile our belief to the 
argument of its legal necessity. I apprehend there is 
not one of us who would not exclaim against the act 
as one of oi:)pression and the rankest tyranny. 

It is a law of brute force, and not of morality, 
which sanctions the doctrine of the submission of the 
weak to the strong. Ages have sanctioned the creed, 
but does this long usage confirm it as right .? 

It is said that necessity knows no law. And under 
this title, the broad acres of the American Continent 
are now held and occupied. 



INDIAN RIGHTS AND WRONGS. 45 

If the poor Indian were created for the purpose of 
a temporary occupation of this country, to be succeed- 
ed by a higher and more intellectual race, then we 
may reconcile our ideas to his oppressions and wrongs. 
But who is endowed with the power of comprehension 
and knowledge to solve this question ? " Man is lit- 
tle lower than the angels," but not high enough in 
mental stature to grasp this subject, and decide it in 
conformity with correct principles. 

When Alexander the Great was told by the petty 
thief whom he was about to punish, that he only de- 
spoiled individuals of their property, but that the 
great conqueror robbed and subjected whole countries, 
it furnished him a new theme for consideration. He 
discovered in his criminal a mirror that reflected two 
thieves, one guilty of petty, the other of grand larceny ! 

And while we profess to be governed by the best 
and purest princij)les of moral ethics, we must not 
conclude that, because our fathers did wrong in the 
acquisition of property in which we had no partic- 
ipation, we are therefore entirely absolved from all 
the blame ; for we are in the full enjoyment of 
the fruits. In tracing back, the title of our home- 
stead, it all goes along smoothly enough till we 
come to that missing link between the ivliite and red 
proprietor ! If we are keenly sensible at this point, 
and governed by the true maxims of humanity, we 
shall begin to conclude " that the partaker is as bad 
as the thief." 



46 HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

But then we have the soothing consolation that 
we all stand on precisely the same platform ; that we 
are not 'only on the side of the majority, as to any 
question of blame in usurping the whole territory of 
the country from its original owners ; but that there 
is not one dissenting voice ! This is a very comfort- 
able view of the subject. The voice of the entire na- 
tion cannot be at fault. It is unanimous, therefore 
it must be right. 

This argument before an intelligent judge might 
be called sophistry ; but then we are relieved from all 
this trouble, for we are the judges in our own case, 
and as we conclude so stands the final decision. 

But let us return to old Plymouth, and talk about 
facts, instead of discussing general theories. It is 
these we must deal with, and let others, if they will, 
pursue the line of thought I dropped into some dozen 
paragraphs or so back. 

Having given a short sketch of the Shawnee tribe, 
the people who were in possession before the occupa- 
tion by a superior race, let us inquire whose was the 
first wliite foot, that made its imprint upon Shawnee 
soil ? 

This is an inquiry involved in some doubt, but 
with the traditional evidence we have, connected with 
the researches upon the subject by Isaac A. Chap- 
man, Charles Miner, and Stewart Pearce, who have all 
written, and written well, upon the antiquities of the 
Wyoming Valley, it is to be fairly presumed that 



THE FIKST WHITE MAN. 47 

Conrad Weiser was the first white man that visited the 
Wyoming Valley ; hut as to his being the first white 
man who ^dsited Plymouth, is a question that anti- 
quarians will have to settle between him and Count 
Nicholas Louis Zinzendorf. As to the time of the ap- 
pearance of the latter we have correct dates, and there 
is no room for doubt. 

Our local historians agree that Conrad Weiser 
was " an upright and worthy man." He had resided 
with the Mohawk Indians from 1716 to 1729, and 
spoke the language of several tribes. He had made 
repeated journeys among the Indians north and 
west : he frequently acted as interpreter, and was 
often the agent of several of the tribes in their treat- 
ies and negotiations, — and Mr. Pearce, whom I regard 
a very good authority in our early history, concludes 
that there is no doubt or question but that " he was 
the first white man who ever trod the soil of Luzerne 
county." 

While this may be the fact, it does not follow 
that he was the first white man who trod the soil of 
Plymouth. 

We shall see that he was with Zinzendorf in Ply- 
mouth in the autumn of 1742, but he did not join 
the Count for several days after he had been in Ply- 
mouth, laboriug with the Shawnees on his Chiistian 
mission. 

As to the time this missionary visited Plymouth 

there seems to be no doubt ; and the probability is 
3 



48 HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

that he was the first white man who put his foot 
upon Plymouth soil, as we do not learn that Mr. 
Weiser passed up or down the Susquehanna, on any 
of the journeys which he performed in his Indian 
service. 

Count Nicholas Louis Zinzendorf, a German of 
means, a man of great piety, and a leading elder of 
the Moravian church, came to Bethlehem, Pa., in the 
year 1741. This town at that time was the principal 
location of the Moravian brotherhood. During the 
following year he made up his mind to advance to 
the Susquehanna, and visit the Indian tribes who 
lived there. For this purpose he applied to Mr. 
Weiser, whose reputation was well known as friendly 
with the Indians, and also understanding the lan- 
guage, to accompany him. His engagements did not 
immediately permit him ; and the Count, in com- 
pany with John Martin Mack and his wife, set out 
on their journey in the fall of 1742, and arrived safely 
on the lands of the Shawnee tribe. And until very 
recently, when a diary of Mr. Mack turned up, 
it was supposed that they crossed the mountain by 
the Warrior Kun war-path, from Fort Allen, on the 
Lehigh, to the Susquehanna, in Hanover township. 

It is now well understood that this was not the 
road they passed over, in their approach to the Sus- 
quehanna. Mr. Pearce has placed in my hands an 
extract from the diary of John Martin Mack, obtain- 
ed recently by him from the Moravian Society, at 



COUNT ZINZENDORF. 49 

Bethlehem, which gives a general account of the jour- 
ney of the Count to the Wyoming Valley ; Ply- 
mouth being the first place where they stopped. 

I give the substance of this diary. Zinzendorf 
Avent from Bethlehem to Shamokin, Northumberland 
county ; and from thence he went up to the mouth 
of Loyal Sock creek, now known as Montoursville. 
The name of the Indian town was Otstenwacken, 
now in the county of Lycoming. To this place he 
was accompanied by Mr. Mack and his wife. At this 
place he preached to the Indians in French. He was 
entertained by "Madam Montour," a French Canadi- 
an woman, who had married Andrew Montour, a half- 
blood. This woman had great influence at the In- 
dian council-fire. She possessed much shrewdness, 
and her manners and kind acts made a. good impres- 
sion on the wild men of the forest. From this point, 
according to the diary, Zinzendorf, in company with 
Mack and his wife, Andrew Montour, son of the 
"Madam," as she was styled, with four others whose 
names are not given, Indians probably, set out upon 
horseback, by the way of the war-path, to Wyoming 
Valley, on the head waters of Fishing, Muncy, and 
Huntington creeks. On the fifth day they reached 
the ShaAvnee village, in the plains of " Skehandowan- 
na" (Susquehanna), where they halted at a wigwam 
of the Shawnee tribe on the banks of a creek, near 
an Indian burial-ground, and erected their tent. 
Mack says that the red warriors gathered around 



50 HISTOEICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

them and brandislied their knives in a threatening 
and menacing way. 

The distance they had made from the mouth of 
Loyal Sock creek he puts down at seventy miles, 
which is very correctly stated. He speaks of being 
opposed by wild beasts, swollen streams of water, and 
dense thickets ; and that it was five days of hard 
labor to accomplish the journey. 

He states that they remained with the Shawnees 
ten days. Zinzendorf shared what little provisions 
he had with the Indians — gave them the buttons off 
his shirt, and his silver knee-buckles, and lived prin- 
cipally upon boiled beans during his sojourn with 
them. He preached to the Shawnees through his in- 
terpreter ; told them that the object of his visit was 
peace, and to instruct them for the good of their 
souls in the spirit land. To all this they listened, 
but were incredulous. They could not be persuaded 
but that there was some other motive concealed,which 
looked to some serious injury to their tribe. And a 
secret plan was laid for his assassination. 

On one of the evenings of the old man's visit, 
some of the Shawnees approached the tent for the 
purpose of murdering him, but as they pulled aside 
the blanket which covered the opening of his tent, 
they saw at that moment an adder pass over his legs, 
unnoticed by the holy man, who was deeply involved 
in his religious thoughts. 

The savage warriors construed this as a direct 



COUNT ZINZENDORF. 51 

intervention of the Great Spirit, and they with- 
drew, unbending their bows, and sheathing their 
knives. 

The accounts heretofore given of this incident by 
the local historians, represent the serpent to have 
been a rattle-snake — nor do any of them give the 
exact locality. 

The diary continues to enumerate several other 
incidents which, at tliis remote time, are of exceeding 
interest. Zinzendorf visited the Mohican village, 
supposed to have been located at Forty-fort, in the 
township of Kingston. He preached to the Indians 
there, and met among them an Indian woman who 
professed Christianity. 

He travelled from one village to another, engaged 
in his religious instructions, and was joined, after 
several days in the valley, by Conrad Weiser, and 
also by three Moravian missionaries, who left Bethle- 
hem on the fifteenth of October. From this date we 
may infer that Zinzendorf first reached the Shawnee 
village in the latter part of September. We are not 
informed by Mr. Mack, the precise length of time the 
party remained in the valley. Mr. Chapman, how- 
ever, fixes it at twenty days. He is probably con-ect, 
as in a note in his book, p. 22, he speaks of obtaining 
his information from a companion of Zinzendorf, who 
afterwards visited Wyoming. 

We are informed from the diary that the names 
of the three Mora\'ian missionaries who joined the 



42511 



52 HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

Count were, David Kitschman, Anton Seyffert, and 
Jacob Kohnn. 

Mr. Mack says that on leaving tlie Shawnee vil- 
lage, near the burial ground (the Noah Wadhams 
farm), in crossing the creek, which was swollen by 
recent rains, the horse of Zinzendorf stumbled, and 
threw his rider into the stream; and that he was res- 
cued by the party from his perilous situation. 

The Indians standing upon the bank saw the ac- 
cident, and in their opinion, here was another mirac- 
ulous interposition of Manitou. They again express- 
ed themselves as fully satisfied, that the man who had 
escaped the flood and the venomous reptile must be 
under the protection of the Great Spirit. 

And this is the substance of a journal, written 
down at the time of the occurrence of the matters 
contained in it, a hundred and thirty years ago. 

It throws new light upon a subject that the local 
historian did not possess, founded upon an authority 
that may be considered as authentic. 

John Martin Mack, who was also a Moravian 
missionary, informs us that he was born in Wurtem- 
burg, Germany, on the twelfth of April, 1715 ; that 
some time after arriving in this country, he married 
Jeannette, a daughter of a Mohawk chief. She 
spoke that language, as well as that of the Delaware 
and Shawnee tribes. 

This knowledge of the Indian tongue of the 
Shawnee tribe accounts for the presence of Jeannette, 



THE FIRST MISSIONAEIES. 53 

in the missionary expedition of Zinzendorf, amidst 
the perils of his visit to the Susquehanna. She 
spoke the language of the people who occupied the 
soil of old Plymouth, before our fathers took posses- 
sion of that part of the " Skehando wanna plains," 
now known as the Shawnee flats. It was probably 
her lips which were the organ of interpretation of the 
words of the reverend old man, to the stoical and 
haughty audience that suiTounded him. But the 
language, as well as the tongues and lips of the wild 
roaming people who gave it articulation, are now 
alike silent, and will so remain forever. 

It would be an interesting fact to know what 
finally became of this man who was jotting down 
history over a centuiy ago in old Plymouth, and of 
Jeannette, his Indian bride, whose voice uttered to 
the wild warriors of the Shawnee tiibe the doctiines 
of peace and good will. But of their subsequent ca- 
reer we have no" record. Zin^iendorf returned again 
to his native land, and died at a ripe old age. 

He did not probably live long enough to realize 
the fact, that to civilize and Christianize the North 
American red man, was a work not to be accom- 
plished. And probably it is well that it is so ; but 
in either case, it is a question beyond our comprehen- 
sion, at least. 

From the testimony I have thus referred to, and 
which to my mind is conclusive, I think there can 
be no doubt but that the fii'st white feet that trod 



54 HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

the soil of our township, were those of Nicholas Louis 
Zinzendorf and John Martin Mack ; and also that 
these were the first heralds there of the doctrines of 
the Cross, as well as in the other parts of the valley 
of the Susquehanna. That the first sermon upon the 
subject of man's redemption, thi'ough the mediation 
of Christ, was preached near the Shawnee burial- 
ground, within the limits of the township of Ply- 
mouth. 

We are thus enabled to locate the very spot where 
these things occurred. And what a study for the art- 
ist is here presented ? It is to be hoped that some 
son of Plymouth may yet arise, who shall have the 
qualifications to place upon canvas, in its true light, 
the aged missionary and his Indian woman inter- 
preter, his humble tent and his swarthy, sun-burned 
audience. It is a subject worthy the pencil of the 
cleverest painter. 

The old Indian burial-ground is a spot that was 
familiar to the early settlers of Plymouth. Its loca- 
tion is near the bank of the little stream I have de- 
scribed, and between the railroad and the main thor- 
oughfare. I have myself, fifty years since, seen the 
Indian bones turned up by the plough-share, lying in 
heaps upon the pubhc highway, where they had been 
cast, taken from the identical place referred to in the 
journal from which I have quoted. And more than 
this, for acting under the impulse of revenge, im- 
pressed upon my mind in listening to the deeds of 



MISSIONARY GROUND. 55 

horror produced by the tomahawk and scalping-knife, 
related by the men who had been eye-witnesses of 
them, I have j^ounded and pulverized these relics of 
the departed warriors, and stamped upon them, as if 
the cruelties their owners had perpetrated could thus 
be avenged; and my fellow boyish associates and my- 
self have consoled ourselves with the reflection, after 
an exhibition of this valiant conduct, that if we had 
not killed an " Ingen," we at least had the profound 
satisfaction of having had a glorious knock at his 
dry bones ! 

What a pity that the " Christian Church " edi- 
fice, standing on the opposite side of the way from 
the site once occupied by Zinzendorf 's tent, should 
not have been located upon it. It is ground conse- 
crated by the acts and deeds of the first man, upon 
the Susquehanna, who proclaimed "glad tidings of 
great joy." Though the seeds of faith fell upon sav- 
age ears, the noble and self-reliant example of the 
man is a living model for Christian imitation. 

It is agreeable for us, at this remote day, that we 
are enabled to ascertain definitely the precise locahty. 
And we know it — the exact place where the pilgrim 
missionaries of our religious faith pitched their tent, 
at the end of their five days' journey in the wilder- 
ness; and where their venerable, pious old leader, 
gave the Indian chiefs of the Shawnee tribe "the 
buttons from ofi" his shirt, and the silver buckles from 
his knees/' as a peace-offering in the name of the 



66 HISTOKICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

Lord, amidst the gleams and flaslies of their brand- 
ished scalping-knives, and in the hearing of their 
piercing war-whoops. 

Mr. Chapman, in his history, p. 24, is under the 
impression that most of the Shawnees had left Plj^- 
mouth before the advance of the white man in 1769 ; 
and that at this period the Delawares, who resided 
on the east side of the Susquehanna, and nearly op- 
posite, had become proprietors of the Shawnee plains ; 
and the evacuation of the Shawnees is based upon 
the consequence of their defeat by the Delawares in 
the memorable Grasshopper battle. 

The circumstances which led to this battle, I will 
briefly relate. A number of the Delaware squaws, 
with their children, were gathering wild fruits along 
the eastern bank of the river, some two miles below 
their village, which stood on the lower side of the 
present limits of the city of Wilkes-Barre, where they 
met with some squaws and their children of the Shaw- 
nee tribe, who had crossed the river in their canoes 
for the same purpose. 

A child belonging to the Shawnees had taken a 
large grasshopper, and a quarrel arose among the 
children for the possession of it, in which their moth- 
ers soon took part. The Delawai'e women contending 
that the east side of the river was their property, 
persisted in their right to the grasshopper, and the 
feminine conflict terminated in the expulsion of the 
Shawnee squaws over to the west side. And it is 



GRASSHOPPER BATTLE. 57 

asserted, though I apprehend upon very questionable 
authority, that some of these women were killed in 
this engagement. 

The expulsion of the Shawnee women irritated 
and maddened their husbands, and the consequence 
was a declaration of war on the part of the Shawnees 
against the Delawares. The Shawnees embarked in 
their canoes, but were met by the Delawares before 
they could obtain a foothold upon the east bank of 
the river ; but still they were able to effect a landing, 
and a bloody conflict ensued at the great bend of the 
river, immediately above the present railroad bridge. 
It is said that nearly half of the Shawnees fell upon 
the battle-field. They were certainly driven back to 
their own side of the stream. 

As this event took place some thirty years only 
before the advent of the white settlers, and as the 
tradition of the battle was then fresh in the memory, 
and probably pretty well understood by them, it is a 
little remarkable that they should not have given us 
the facts of the expulsion of the Shawnees by the 
Delawares. 

The early settlers always spoke of the Indians 
wliich they found upon their entry into Plymouth as 
of the Shawnee tribe. I have heard this often from 
the lips of Colonel Ransom, Jonah Eogers, and Abra- 
ham Pike. The statements of these men were cer- 
tainly to be relied upon, and they had the means of 
knowledge upon the subject. 



58 HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

It is a matter of much doubt whether the Grass- 
hopper battle was a very serious aflfair. The Shaw- 
nees and Delawares were generally on very friendly 
terms, and from the most reliable authority I can 
find, the greatest number of these two tribes removed 
to Diahoga (Tioga) some ten years previous to the 
advance of the white man. 

I conclude, therefore, that the Indians who made 
the greatest incursions upon the early settlers of Ply- 
mouth, were a remnant of the Shawnees, who were 
lingering about their old hunting-grounds upon the 
Shawnee mountain. This is by far the most proba- 
ble conclusion. 

If, as Mr. Chapman writes, the Shawnees were 
expelled by the Delawares after the Grasshopper 
battle, it seems strange that ten years after the two 
tribes should have been travelling together to Dia- 
hoga, the spot designated for them by the order of 
their masters, the Six Nations. 

A further distinction is drawn by some of our his- 
torians, that the Shawnees were a more bloodthirsty 
tribe than the other tribes upon the Susquehanna — 
the Nanticokes, the Delawares, and the Mohicans ; 
that it was an impelling reason which moved Zinzen- 
dorf to make the Shawnees, for this cause, the first 
objects of Christianization. The probabihty is that 
the character and temperament of this tribe were not 
very different from other tribes. The same feeling 
of bloody revenge for real or supposed injuries, is an 



THE FIKST SETTLERS. 59 

element in common with the whole race ; and, as a 
Shawnee man. I feel inclined to stand by our tribe, 
and deny this unjust calumny, which is attempted to 
be heaped upon their memory. 

Though not precisely of the same household, still 
my young feet trod their paths, and my young eyes 
witnessed their bones and fortifications; and there- 
fore it would be unmanly, while writing their history, 
not at the same time to defend their memory against 
an accusation that "the Shawnee tribe of Indians 
was the most bloody and revengeful tribe that ever 
placed foot upon the Skehandowanna plains ! " 

Having thus disposed of the Shawnee tribe, and 
the question as to the first white man who visited 
Plymouth, I will turn my attention to other subjects 
involved in its first settlement. 



CHAPTER III. 

THE FIRST SETTLERS, 



MOST of the early settlers of the town were men 
of strong minds : a few of them were eccentric 
characters, and now and then, one addicted to habits 
of intemperance ; but they were all industrious, and 
not one of them, as I ever learned, espoused the Tory 
side of the great question of their day and generation. 



60 HISTOKICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

They were self-reliant, and tliis was an imperative 
necessity, surrounded as they were hy cramped means 
of subsistence, and daily exposure to Indians and 
their Pennamite enemies. 

They were loyal to their Government, and many 
of them were in the revolutionary war, and some of 
them served the whole seven years in that protracted 
issue. As a whole, they were a brave, patriotic, and 
industrious people, but little acquainted with luxu- 
ries, and none more familiar with the severe conflicts 
of frontier life. 

Their hostility to the Indian race was bitter and 
vindictive. This had arisen from the fact that some of 
their little society had undergone savage torture and 
murder ; others more fortunate were taken into captiv- 
ity. One of them, Elisha Harvey, had been sold to 
an Indian trader, in Canada, for half a barrel of rum. 

Even in my day, which did not commence for the 
period of over twenty years after the cessation of the 
valley troubles. Colonel Kansom, Abraham Nesbitt, 
Jonah Rogers, or Abraham Pike would have shot 
down an Indian, if they had met with him, as unhes- 
itatingly as they would a prowling wolf or j)anther. 

Time did not seem to efface and wear away this 
embittered feeling. The common subject of conver- 
sation, within my own recollection, among these old 
veterans when they met, was Indian atrocities com- 
mitted u]3on themselves, their families, and friends. 

The youth of the town therefore grew up under a 



THE EAKLY SETTLERS. 61 

deep sense of these wrongs. They fully participated 
in the emotions produced by the constant rehearsal 
of Indian butcheries. The sentiment was universal. 
It was the absorbing topic in the field, the mechan- 
ic's shop, the school house, and the pulpit, year in 
and year out. Probably in no other part of the 
county did this feeling of Indian hostility exist, to the 
same degree and extent as in Plymouth. 

The old frame Academy, now standing, — and it is 
to be hoped may be permitted to remain, as one of 
the few land-marks of the past — was built not far 
from the year 1816. Jonah Rogers kept school in it. 
He had been taken a prisoner, when a boy of four- 
teen, by the Indians. The bloody scene which at- 
tended liis escape, will be fully noticed hereafter. 
The old gentleman was in the habit of repeating, 
almost daily, in open school, his knowledge of Indian 
tragedies. 

He would speak of the number of reeking scalps 
he had seen strung upon a cord, and dangling from 
the belt of the red warrior, as a trophy of his prow- 
ess ; some of them taken from the heads of his own 
personal friends ; how the savages were in the habit 
of stripping their victims, binding them with thongs 
to a tree, piercing their naked bodies with sharpened 
pine knots, and then setting them on fire ; and how 
the poor creatures would writhe in torture, and die 
the most agonizing of deaths ; how they had inhu- 
manly murdered such a man that he knew, pointing 



62 HISTOKICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

to the exact place where it was done, and naming the 
exact time ; of their stealthy habits of lying in am- 
bush and springing like tigers upon their prey ; how he 
could detect them by the smell of their smoked and 
painted bodies, before they were visible to the eye ; 
and how it would be serving Grod to remove and ex- 
terminate the entire race. 

These were some of the lessons we learned in the 
old man's school, and in a building still standing in 
our town. They were a part of the education of the 
youth, fifty years ago in the township of Plymouth. 

The old man was kind and indulgent, and it was 
not unfrequently that he would resort to these re- 
hearsals as a means of quieting the unruly element of 
his school ; and it worked like a charm, for when he 
commenced all eyes were fastened upon him, and all 
ears ajar ; nor did their interest in any manner abate 
from their frequent repetition. An Indian story 
would produce instantaneous order. 

The effect of these relations upon the mind of 
children was wonderful; and the moment we were 
dismissed, how we would collect in groups, and doub- 
ling up our little fists, "wish that we were big men, 
that we could avenge the wrongs that we had heard ; 
and that if we had been big men when these cruel- 
ties were perpetrated, the bloody 'Ingens' would 
have stood but a poor chance for their lives." 

And so the children of Jonah Kogers' school rea- 
soned and talked a half century ago. 



THE EARLY SETTLERS. 63 

I repeat these things now, after the long lapse of 
time, to illustrate the state of popular feeling which 
then existed in our town, towards the poor Indian, 
and the feelings of the men who occupied his corn- 
fields, his hunting-grounds, and the spots whereon he 
had pitched his wigwams. 

We grew into manhood, perfect Indian haters. 
And to accomplish this was the great lesson of the 
school. 

The early settlers, no doubt, had cause to curse 
the Indian tribes ; but if they had paused in their 
vehement and rapid conclusions long enough to in- 
quire whether they were not really in the wi'ong 
themselves, in driving them from their homes and 
firesides, they might have made at least some allow- 
ance for their atrocities, acting as they did on the de- 
fensive ! They did not, however, stop to draw the 
line between civilized and savage life. They seemed 
to think that brutality was no more to be tolerated in 
an Indian, than in a civilized white man. 

Time, however, has somewhat changed public 
opinion. As the old people of Plymouth, who were 
the actors in the wild scenes of border life, have 
passed away, one after another, the chapter of their 
sufierings has become more and more indistinct ; 
their exposures and privations less talked of by their 
children ; and the third generation, now in occupa- 
tion of the homes of their ancestors, seldom, if ever, 
aUude to or mention the trials and incidents of early 



64 HISTOEICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

days. In fact most of them have lost even the tra- 
ditionary chain of these stirring events. And to re- 
mind them of these events, is why I am now writing, 
at an advanced age myself, that they may not be 
entirely obliterated and lost. The name of Ply- 
mouth is dear to me, because it is linked with recol- 
lections of the happiest days of my life ; and I like to 
dwell upon the memory of the brave and generous 
people whose hairs were gray, at the remote period 
of which I write. 

Plain and simple in their habits, they had no idea 
of 2^rocuring their bread but " by the sweat of their 
brow." They lived by hard and continuous labor, 
and at a time when labor was not only respectable, 
but dignified and inviting. Alas, the change ; but 
this is not the subject of our inquiry. 

I have stated that the white settlement of the 
town commenced in 1768, and immediately succeed- 
ing the treaty at Fort Stanwix. I am unable, how- 
ever, to ascertain how many immigrants came in that 
and the following year. Forty were assigned to Ply- 
mouth : most of that number probably arrived. The 
best evidence, in the absence of family traditional 
knowledge, is an enrollment of the resident inhabit- 
ants of the whole valley, in 1773, made by Colonel 
Zebulon Butler, and in his handwriting. This list 
comprises the names of two hundred and sixteen set- 
tlers. By this list, I am enabled to state with cer- 
tainty that in that year, and which was not more 



THE EARLY SETTLERS. 65 

than three or four years after the first immigration, 
the following named persons were residents of Ply- 
mouth, viz. : Noah Allen, David Whittlesey, Na- 
thaniel Watson, Samuel Marvin, Jabez Koherts, 
John Baker, Nicholas Manvil, Joseph Gaylord, Isaac 
Bennet, William Leonard, Jesse Leonard, Nathaniel 
Goss, Stephen Fuller, Samuel Sweet, John Shaw, 
Joseph Morse, Daniel Brown, Comfort Goss, James 
Neshitt, Aaron Dean, Peter Ayres, Captain Prince 
Alden, Naniad Coleman, Abel Pierce, Timothy 
Pierce and Timothy Hopkins. 

I am a httle surprised that this list does not con- 
tain the names of Noah Wadhams, Silas, Elisha, and 
Benjamin Harvey, Samuel Ransom, James Bidlack, 
Benedict Satterlee, Caleb Atherton, David Reynolds 
and Henry Barney. There is an old deed among the 
valley archives of " Samuel Love of Connecticut to 
Samuel Ransom, late of Norfolk, Connecticut, now 
being at Susquehanna, " which bears date November 
fifth, 1773. This is probably for the Plymouth 
Homestead farm. 

Among the same papers is a deed, dated Ply- 
mouth, September twenty-ninth, 1773, of Henry 
Barney to Benedict Satterlee. I think most if not 
all of these men, were in Plymouth previous to the 
general enrollment of all the settlers of the valley, in 
1773, and it is pretty certain that the Reverend Noah 
Wadhams preached in Plymouth before this period. 

But the persons whom I have last named, if not 



66 HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

in Plymouth in 1773, came immediately afterwards. 
The persons whose names I have last mentioned were 
pioneer settlers. 

From this period up to the time that Captain 
Samuel Ransom enlisted what was known as the Sec- 
ond Independent Company, for the Revolutionary 
service, January first, 1777, there is no list preserved 
of the early settlers of Plymouth. This was four 
years after the general enrollment. 

On this list I find the names of Mason F. Alden, 
Charles Gaylord, Ambrose Gaylord, Aziba Williams, 
Asahel Nash, Ebenezer Roberts, Isaac Benjamin, 
Benjamin Clark, Gordon Church, Price Cooper, Na- 
than Church, Daniel Franklin, Ira Saw^yer, John 
Swift, and Thomas Williams, who are not named in 
the foregoing list, and all of whom, I suppose, to have 
been Plymouth settlers. 

On the list of Captain Durkee's company. First 
Independent Revolutionary Service, are the names of 
Jeremiah Coleman, Jesse Coleman, Benjamin Har- 
vey, and Seth Marvin. These were Plymouth men. 

From this it would appear that in 1777, the num- 
ber of men able to bear arms in Plymouth was not 
far from eighty. There were other persons of course 
whose names are not included in either of the above 
lists. There were the Nesbitts, Rogers, Drakes, 
George P., William and Samuel Ransom, the Bar- 
neys, Baldwins, Bennetts, etc. It may be that the 
number all told exceeded eighty. 



THE EARLY SETTLERS. 67 

There is no further record evidence of the pop- 
ulation of the town till 1796. The commissioners' 
office of this county contains the Plymouth assess- 
ment of that year. And it is the first trace of the 
assessor on file in the county archives, notwithstand- 
ing Luzerne had been set off from the county of 
Northumberland on the twenty-fifth of September, 
1786. 

As this was after the close of the Kevolutionary 
war, and there was comparative quiet in the valley, 
it is difficult to understand why there should not be 
on file, somewhere, a list of taxable inhabitants. 
The same deficiency in the office at Wilkes- Barre, 
applies to the other townships of the county. 

The assessment list of 1796 shows but ninety-five 
taxables. But it is not strange by any means that 
the increase of population advanced so slowly. The 
Indian troubles had made their mark ; the Penna- 
mite war had carried off several ; and the Revolution- 
ary war had made sad havoc upon the settlement. 
All these were fearful obstacles in the way of the in- 
crease of population. 

If in 1796 we estimate four, in addition to each 
taxable inhabitant, the whole population of the 
township, including the territory of Jackson, set off 
into a municipal jurisdiction in 1844, would be but 
four hundred and seventy-five souls. 

These very facts, which impeded the increase of 
population, tell us but too plainly of the formidable, 



68 HISTOEICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

and we may add fearful obstructions wliich were in 
the path of our pioneer fathers. 

Plymouth was never backward in filling its quota 
of men for the general cause, or raising men for pro- 
tection against an internal foe. From the time they 
first put their foot ujjon the Shawnee plains, down to 
the passage of the act confirming their title, a period 
of nearly thirty years, they knew but little of peace 
and repose. For more than half of this period they 
were in local broils, Indian invasions, and the Eevolu- 
tionary struggle. They slept with their arms ready 
at hand. The rifle was as necessary an implement of 
husbandry as the sickle. They carried it with them, 
almost constantly, to the field of their labor during 
many, many years of sufiering, hope, and fear. They 
had to take turns relieving each other on guard in the 
night, to ward ofi" the Indian and Pennamite incur- 
sions. So that with British, Tories, Indians, and 
Pennamites, our people had their hands full, and it is 
really a matter of surprise that they should have had 
the courage and endurance to fight it out so long and 
valiantly as they did. 

The massacre at the battle of Wyoming alone cost 
them the lives of not less than thirty of their citi- 
zens ; the Eevolutionary war as many more ; and the 
troubles with the Indians and exposure of a frontier 
life, and its dangers and wants, an equal number. 
And these causes probably disposed of at least one- 
fourth of the people, who were in Plymouth, from 



THE EARLY SETTLERS. 69 

1769 to 1785. It is more probable that my estimate 
is under than over the mark. These then were not 
merely troublesome, but they were trying times. 

I have heard it from the lips of the old jDeople 
frequently, that death was preferable to the constant 
alarms and daily exposures that they were obliged to 
undergo. But they would say, "we had johnny cake, 
and shad in the spring, and eels in the fall ; and 
here we had pitched our tents, and so we resolved to 
face all dangers and submit to all perils." 

I subjoin the assessment list of 1796. It will be 
an interesting relic of the names of the men who have 
now all passed away, but at that time were the 
active, stirring men of the township : 

Samuel Allen, Stephen Allen, David Allen, Elias 
Allen, William Ayers, Daniel Ayei's, John Anderson, 
Moses Atherton, Isaac Bennet, Benjamin Bennet, 
Joshua Bennet, Benjamin Barney, Daniel Barney, 
Henry Barney, Walter Brown, Jesse Brown, William 
Baker, Philemon Bidlack, Jared Baldwin, Jude Bald- 
win, Amos Baldwin, Jonah Bigsley, Peter Chambers, 
Wiliam Craig, Jeremiah Coleman, Thomas Daven- 
port, Ashael Drake, Kufus Drake, Aaron Dean, Hen- 
ry Decker, Joseph Dodson, Leonard Dercans, Joseph 
Duncan, Jehial Fuller, Peter Grubb, Charles E. Gay- 
lord, Adolph Heath, Elisha Harvey, Samuel Healy, 
John Heath, Samuel Hart, Josiah Ives, Josiah Ives, 
Jr., Crocker Jones, Thomas Lameraux, John Lamer- 
aux, John Leonard, Joseph Lenaberger, Samuel Mar- 



70 HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

vin, James Marvin, Timothy Meeker, Ira Manvill, 
Ephraim McCoy, Phineas Nash, Abram Nesbitt, Si- 
mon Parks, Samuel Pringle, Michael Pace, David 
Pace, Nathan Parrish, Oliver Plumley, Jonah Kog- 
ers, Joze Eogers, Elisha Kogers, Edon Kuggles, Hez- 
ekiah Koberts, Jacob Roberts, Stephen Eoberts, 
David Reynolds, Joseph Reynolds, George P. Ran- 
som, Nathan Rumsey, Michael Scott, Lewis Sweet, 
Elam Spencer, William Stewart, Jesse Smith, Icha- 
bod Shaw, Palmer Shaw, Benjamin Stookey, John 
Taylor, John Turner, Abraham Tillbury, Matthias 
Van Loon, Abraham Van Loon, Nicholas Van Loon, 
Calvan Wadhams, Noah Wadhams, Moses Wadhams, 
Ingersol Wadhams, Amariah Watson, Darius Wil- 
liams, Rufus Williams, and John Wallen. Ninety- 
five all told. Not one of them now living. 



CHAPTER IV. 

THE PENNAMITE AND YANKEE WAK. — COMMENCEMENT 

OF TROUBLES. CAPTAIN STEWART. LIEUTENANT 

JENKINS. PATTERSON'S ADMINISTRATION. AR- 
REST AND IMPRISONMENT OF SETTLERS. BATTLE 

OF NANTICOKE. 

AS the forefathers of our town were almost all 
of them participators in the serious troubles 
and difficulties, which grew out of the contest be- 
tween the Connecticut claimants, under the grant of 
the Susq[uehanna Company, and the Proprietary Gov- 
ernment of Pennsylvania, as to the questions of own- 
ership of the land, and the civil jurisdiction over it 
and the people occupying it, there will be occasion to 
give a condensed statement of the subject generally, 
and particularly in reference to the part taken in it 
by the early settlers of Plymouth. And as this 
township furnished the chief battle-ground during 
the continuance of this internecine contest, where the 
parties met in respectable numbers, and in which the 
almost entire male population of our town took part, 
it becomes a question of much interest to the de- 
scendants of these people. 

I have already stated that the territory of the 
town lies between the two parallel lines of latitude, 
which were the northern and southern boundaries of 

(71) 



72 HISTOEICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

the grant to the Susquehanna Company. Under 
this grant the State of Connecticut not only claimed 
the ownership of the land, but the jurisdiction over it. 

To these pretensions the State of Pennsylvania, 
at the commencement known as the "Proprietary 
Government of Pennsylvania," took exception. The 
proprietors, William Penn and his associates, founded 
their claim to the same land and jurisdiction 
under a grant of King Charles 11. , bearing date 
the fourth of March, 1681, and nineteen years 
after the date of liis letters patent to the Con- 
necticut Company. I have already stated that 
the want of knowledge as to the geographical 
situation of the country produced this blunder. It 
can be called by no other name ; as there was not, 
undoubtedly, on the part of the British king, a de- 
sire to grant a second time any part of his territory, 
in his colony, which had been previously ceded to 
others. 

Taking, therefore, the dates of these two letters 
patent, and particularly, as in this case, the precedent 
occupation by the people of Connecticut, they had 
the law and equity of the case upon their side. 
But unfortunately for Connecticut, the State of New 
York intervened, and thus left a S23an of over a hun- 
dred miles between the western line of the former and 
the Susquehanna lands. Had not this difficulty been 
in the way, the final result would in all probability 
have had a different termination. 



CONFLICTING CLAIMS. 73 

The grant to Connecticut bore the oldest date: 
the people of that State made the first entry. Law- 
)'er or layman, therefore, could not justly decide but 
in one way, and that in favor of the people claiming 
under the charter of 1662. 

We thus find the Wyoming valley claimed by two 
separate and distinct parties. Firstly, under corpor- 
ate grants from the king ; and after the termination 
of the rebellion, under two separate State sovereign- 
ties. The Governors of these issued their paper proc- 
lamations, and left the citizens of each to fight out 
the dispute in a hand to hand conflict ; and at it they 
went in hterally bloody earnest. 

The Yankees were ahead of the Pennamites in 
occupation. As early as 1753, the Susquehanna 
Company sent out John Jenkins, a surveyor, to make 
an exploration of the valley, and feel the Indian 
pulse ; and if favorable, to negotiate friendly relations 
with them. 

His appointment from this company directed him 
" to repair to the said place " (Wyoming,) " in order 
to view said tract of land, and to purchase of the na- 
tives there inhabiting, their title and interest to said 
tract of land, and to survey, lay out, and receive 
proper deeds or conveyances of said land to and for 
said company." 

Under these instructions he commenced the im- 
portant part of the duty assigned to him, of conclud- 
ing a purchase of the Indian title ; and his mission 



74 HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

would undoubtedly have been attended with success, 
but for the interference, as we shall notice hereafter, 
by the Proj^rietary Government of Pennsylvania: 
William Penn being under the conviction, and proba- 
bly honestly so, that the country of the Susquehanna 
legally belonged to him, under his Royal grant, 
though of a later date. 

Through the representations made to the Susque- 
hanna Company by Mr. Jenkins, on his return, and 
other reasons which do not become necessary here to 
state, but by the sanction, however, of the colonial 
authorities of both Connecticut and Pennsylvania, a 
Congress of delegates was convened at Albany, in 
1754, with the approbation of the Crown, to meet the 
Iroquois, or the great confederated Six Nations of In- 
dians, and consult together on the subject of their 
mutual welfare. 

At this important council, it appears that the 
Proprietary Government of Pennsylvania was repre- 
sented by distinguished men : John Penn, Isaac 
Norris, Benjamin Franklin and Richard Peters. And 
it is a marvel why the Proprietary Government, after 
the consent and approbation of the purchase of 
the Wyoming lands, by the Susquehanna Company, 
by such distinguished agents, should ever have made 
the effort to annul the solemn act of the Albany Con- 
gress ! For at this very Congress, and as Mr. Miner 
Btates, "under the eye of the Pennsylvania Delega- 
tion, a treaty with the Indians, the acknowledged 



CONFLICTING CLAIMS. 75 

proprietors of the territory, was executed, dated July 
eleventh, 1754, and a purchase of land made." See 
Miner's Hist., p. 68. 

A deed was executed, signed by eighteen chiefs 
and sachems of the Six Nations, of the Wyoming 
lands, to the Susquehanna Comj)any, The purchase 
money, " two thousand pounds current money of New 
York," was counted out in silver, "and carried by the 
Indians in a blanket into an orchard, and there 
divided among them." It is a little singular that 
the word mines is mentioned in this ancient deed. 

The Connecticut charter, therefore, based on a 
Royal grant, and a subsequent purchase of the In- 
dian claim, would seem to establish an indisputable 
and unqualified title. Such, however, as the bloody 
sequel which follows shows, does not appear to have 
been so considered by the Proprietary Government of 
Pennsylvania. 

In January following, the Pennsylvania authori- 
ties made an appeal to Governor Johnson of New 
York to use his influence with the Six Nations to nul- 
lify and cancel the deed made on the eleventh of July 
previous. This course was persisted in, until at a 
council, at Fort Stanwix, on the fifth of November, 
1768, a conveyance of the same lands was made by 
the Iroquois to the Pennsylvania proprietors. At 
this time then, the local strife that had smouldered 
from 1754, broke out into a blazing, consuming fire. 

In 1755, the Susquehanna Company again sent 



76 HISTOKICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

Mr. Jenkins with a corps of surveyors to locate lands 
on the Susquehanna. Among these was Ezekiel 
Hyde, a well known name in the valley for years suc- 
ceeding. Some surveys were made, and the party re- 
turned to Connecticut. 

Some seven years elapsed before an effort was 
again made to establish a settlement in the valley. 
This delay was undoubtedly produced by the troubles 
and difficulties growing out of the English and 
French war, which terminated in 1763. The people, 
however, interested in, and claiming under, the Sus- 
quehanna Company, from the fact of the attempt 
being made by the Pennsylvania proprietors to de- 
stroy and annul the deed of the Iroquois, executed at 
Albany in 1754, came to the conclusion that their 
occupation must necessarily be one of conquest. 

The Indian atmosphere was murky; dark clouds 
hung over the beautiful valley and the noble river 
meandering through as fertile soil as the husbandman 
ever cultivated, — as delightful a spot as ever the eye 
of red or white man looked upon. There was a prize 
worth a noble effort. The Yankee was fully per- 
suaded as to the equity of his claim and the legality 
of his title, and why should he hesitate ? It is true 
the Indian hand lay upon it, but he held against the 
solemn obligations of a treaty, and beside this it was 
weak. A powerful competitor had crossed the " big 
water in his big canoe," and he was strong. 

There was but one avenue now open to occupa- 



CONFLICTING CLAIMS. 77 

tion, and that was conquest. The treaty had been 
violated ; the deed of purchase had been annulled. 
The man who had been reared amid New England 
rocks and upon her sterile soil, had manly develop- 
ment; he could endure hunger and fatigue; he pos- 
sessed ambition and courage; these were about the 
only legacy inherited from his proud and independent 
ancestors. They had furnished him a precedent, in 
the way of adventure, remarkable for its boldness and 
daring. They had crossed a tempestuous and un- 
known sea in mid- winter, and planted the standard of 
religious toleration upon a savage and inclement coast. 
The fame of this achievement had been the first lesson 
of his infancy. For him to shrink, therefore, from 
the obstacles which lay in his road to the Susquehan- 
na, and the difficulties which awaited him there, 
would be unworthy of his ancestral name. In money 
and this world's goods he was poor; but the self- 
denying, self-sacrificing and indomitable courage of 
his Puritan father led him on. That same blood 
which coursed through the veins of the bold Dissenter 
of the English Church, galloped in the veins of his 
offspring. If that one could muster resolution to 
abandon home and country upon the score of relig- 
ious dogmas, — this one could enter the wilderness and 
maintain his home there ag.ainst fearful opposition. 

In 1762, the year preceding the treaty of peace 
between England and France, the Susquehanna Com- 
pany sent out Mr. Jenkins again, in company with 



78 HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

Isaac Tripp, Benjamin Follet, Williani^Buck and a 
hundred and fifteen other adventurers, to take posses- 
sion of their lands here, and by force if necessary. 

They commenced the erection of log houses at the 
mouth of Mill Creek, a mile above the site of 
Wilkes-Barre. They cleared some land and sowed it 
with grain ; but we learn of no efibrt to reconcile the 
Indians. 

In the autumn of this year they returned to Con- 
necticut. In the following spring they came back, 
and remained till the month of October, when they 
were expelled and driven from their improvements 
by the Indians. Some of them were cruelly butch- 
ered. 

This was a check upon their enterprise. Those of 
them, however, who had seen the valley, became fas- 
cinated with the inducements it held out to them. 
They saw a plain of good and fertile land, twenty 
miles in extent, and an average of five in width. It 
was virgin soil: the plough-share had never entered the 
glebe. The climate was salubrious ; and when they 
compared this land with the rock-bound hills of their 
Connecticut homes, they regarded it as the land of 
promise, and one " flowing with milk and honey." 

All these things they painted in glowing colors on 
their return ; but some of their brethren they left be- 
hind them, who had been murdered by the Indians. 
This was a drawback to their hopes and expectations, 
yet they coveted the land, though beset with dangers. 



THE YANKEE AND PENNAMITE WAH. 79 

In hope and fear a half dozen more years passed 
away. Tlie treaty at Fort Stanwix had been com- 
pleted ; the French and English war ended, and 
they supposed the Indian races had become more rec- 
onciled ; and they began to prepare for another expe- 
dition to the Susquehanna country. 

In 1768-9 the Connecticut people came back 
with a determination to remain. They had resolved 
to stand by their possessions ; but upon their arrival 
in the valley, they found them in the occupation of 
Stewart, Ogden, Jennings and others, who had reach- 
ed the valley a few days in advance of them, and had 
raised the flag of the Proprietary Grovernment. 

Here was a dilemma ; this was an incident upon 
which they had made no calculation. 

What was to be done ? There were two alterna- 
tives only : either to retrace their steps to Connecti- 
cut, or stand their ground. They chose the latter. 

And here began that long and bitter conflict be- 
tween the Connecticut and Pennsylvania men, known 
as the " Yankee and Pennamite War," which never 
became finally settled till the passage of the com- 
promise law of 1799, by the Legislature of Penn- 
sylvania. Sometimes attended by bloodshed, some- 
times reprisals only, but always a bitter and vindic- 
tive feud. The jails of the adjoining counties of 
Northampton and Northumberland were often filled 
with Wyoming prisoners, sent there by the authori- 
ties of Pennsylvania for trespassing on the disputed 
5 



80 HISTOKICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

lands. And thus a series of murders, arsons, battles, 
sieges, arrests and angry personal disputes, continued 
for more than a fourth of a century. 

I have said that Ogden and his party occupied the 
Yankee buildings and improvements at the mouth of 
Mill Creek. They also erected a block house, the 
first military fortification in the valley. This looked 
too formidable for an attack, and the Yankee immi- 
grants crossed the Susquehanna and erected a block 
house ; and in compHment to the number of men to 
whom the territory of Kingston was set ofi', they 
called it " Forty Fort." 

After thus securing themselves, they concluded, 
upon consultation, to attack Ogden and his party in 
his stronghold. They crossed the river, and invested 
his fortification. In the name of Connecticut they 
demanded a surrender. Ogden hoisted a white flag 
and demanded a parley. The Yankees sent a com- 
mittee to the fort, as they supposed, to agree upon 
terms of capitulation and surrender, when they were 
arrested by the sherifi" of the county of Northampton, 
who was concealed in the fort, with his warrant of 
arrest in his pocket. The committee being seized, 
the party outside surrendered, and the whole number 
were marched over the Blue Mountain to the Easton 
jail. 

This quiet and unresisting surrender was an evi- 
dence certainly, that these Connecticut men were a 
law-abiding and peace-loving people. A few years 



THE YANKEE AND PENNAMITE "WAR. 81 

later we shall find that they were not so submissive 
to the Proprietary civil authorities. 

They were soon released, however, upon giving 
bail for their appearance, when they returned to their 
land of promise. 

As there were a hundred and sixty behind, of the 
two hundred raised by the Susquehanna Company, 
these came on soon after the return of the Easton 
prisoners, and erected a fortification on the southern 
extremity of the Wilkes-Barre river common. This, 
in honor of their captain, they christened Fort Dur- 
ivce. 

Within less than two years after the first real oc- 
cupation of the valley by white men, the Yankees 
had two fortifications — Forty Fort and Fort Durkee ; 
and the Pennamites, Fort Ogden. 

A pretty good display, for mutual attack and de- 
fense, considering the Indian tribes that both of them 
had to contend with. As was to be supposed, Ogden 
could not withstand the forces occupying the two for- 
tifications, and in 1770 they expelled him. 

This act aroused the Proprietary Government, 
and they sent back Ogden with additional men, who 
erected Fort Wyoming, on the common, near the ter- 
minus of Northampton street, and some sixty rods 
above Fort Durkee. 

This enabled the Pennamites to retake Fort Og- 
den at Mill Creek. During this year the parties, 
being pretty equally divided as to numbers, carried 



82 HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

on a succession of storms and sieges, arrests an^ im- 
prisonments ; sometimes attended witli the death of a 
man or two, and the wounding of several, without 
any decided advantage upon either side. 

Of the party who came out to the valley in 
1768-69 there was a son of John Jenkins, known in 
the subsequent history of the valley as Lieutenant, 
and afterwards as Colonel John Jenkins. This young 
man, then in his nineteenth year, became one of the 
prominent and leading spirits of the valley in the long 
and continuous chain of tragic events, which occurred 
during the quarter of a century succeeding the first 
settlement of it. 

And although Lieutenant Jenkins does not come 
witlun the exact sphere to which I have limited my 
sketches, I will not pass over him in silence. I shall 
have occasion to use his Diary hereafter, and a brother 
of his belonged to the Plymouth colony. His father 
having been the leading man in immigration, and 
Provisional Judge of the new settlement up to the 
time the town of Westmoreland was estabhshed by 
the State of Connecticut, and made a part of the 
county of Litchfield, and a long period subsequently ; 
also a prominent person among the pioneers : presi- 
dent of that town meeting of the people of West- 
moreland, held on the first of August, 1775, approving 
of the acts of Congress which preceded the Declaration 
of Independence, and also of the meeting held on the 
eighth of August following, when the feeble col- 



LIEUTENANT JENKINS. 83 

ony endorsed the measures of Congress " in opposing 
je late measures adopted by Parliament to enslave 
America ; " in 1776 a member of the Colonial As- 
sembly from Westmoreland ; at tlie meeting of the 
people, over which Colonel Zebulon Butler presided, 
convened at Wilkes-Barre on the twenty-fourth of 
August, 1776, when it was resolved to proceed at 
once to the erection of forts for the common defense, 
" without fee or reward from y® town," and immedi- 
ately after this meeting joined with his neighbors, in 
the erection of Fort Jenkins, in the upper end of the 
valley : all of which furnished young Jenkins with a 
motive for the entiy into that field, which afterwards 
became one of danger, toil, and exposure. 

In October, 1776, he enlisted in Captain Solomon 
Strong's company of United States troops. Twenty- 
fourth Kegiment Connecticut Militia, as First Lieu- 
tenant. In the year 1777 he was taken prisoner and 
sent to Fort Niagara, where he was treated, after the 
fashion of all the Continental soldiers, with great 
severity — brutality is the better word. In 1778 he 
made his escape, and after many exposures and great 
suffering, he made his way to his family, in Westmore- 
land. On the day of the Wyoming battle, he was 
assigned by Colonel Butler to take charge of Forty 
Fort. After the terrible disasters of that day of 
gloom and horrors, we find him among the fugitives 
in their desolate march through the wilderness. He 
accompanied Cqloi^el I^artley in his march from the 



84 HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

west branch of the Susquehanna, through the Indian 
country to Tioga Point, and participated in all the 
engagements in that expedition with the Indians and 
Tories. He was detailed to the command of the 
company, charged with the burial of the slain on the 
Wyoming battle-field. This was accomplished on the 
twenty-second of October, 1778. General Washington 
summoned him to his headquarters in the early part 
of the year 1779, for the purpose of procuring infor- 
mation, preparatory to the march of the expedition 
under General Sullivan, as to the condition and state 
of afikirs along the line of that anticipated military 
movement. He returned from headquarters, and met 
Sullivan at Wilkes-Barre, and was appointed by that 
general as his guide, up the Susquehanna, and through 
the Indian country. He participated in the skirm- 
ishes and battles of that expedition. He was also at 
the siege of York Town, and in the trenches, under 
Baron Steuben, at the surrender of that place. 

This man passed an eventful life, and may be 
classed among the prominent leading men of the val- 
ley. The Diary of local events, which he kept, has 
been of great benefit to the historians of the valley. 
The data are written in plain and intelligible language, 
and so far as corroborating circumstances are left to 
us, they are remarkable for their truthfulness. He 
began with the occupation of the valley, and he sur- 
vived its perils and afilictions. Always taking an ac- 
tive part, and ever at the post of honor and of dan- 



CAPTAIN LAZAKUS STEWART. 85 

ger. He lived to realize the fruits of his early hard- 
sliips, and died, at his residence, U2:)on the Wyoming 
battle-ground, on the nineteenth of March, 1827, in 
his seventy-sixth year. 

I have in a manner digressed from the line of 
local township history, in giving this short notice of 
one of the prominent men of the valley ; but as he 
headed that colonial band who forced their way 
through the wilderness — through the Indian border 
bristling with spear heads — exposed to hunger and 
the severest suifering and privations, I felt that I 
could not pass the old veteran by, in silence. 

But the chances are that the Yankees would have 
been driven out of the valley by force, had they not 
been joined by Captain Lazarus Stewart,and his com- 
pany of forty others, known as the Paxton Rangers. 
This new ally produced a kind of equilibrium of pow- 
er, and saved the Connecticut men from probable de- 
feat and expulsion. 

These men came from the county of Lancaster, 
Pennsylvania, to join the Connecticut standard. They 
were a brave and gallant set of men, fearing no 
danger, and able to sustain great fatigue and expos- 
ure. The late Judge Matthias Hollenback, the head 
of the family of that name in this county, was one of 
these Paxton Rangers. The Susquehanna Company 
gave them the township of Hanover, as a considera- 
tion for their services to the Yankee cause. 

Captain Lazarus Stewart was a bold, chiyalroug 



86 HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

soldier, I cannot pass tlie opportunity without say- 
ins: a word or two about this remarkable man. 

He commanded a company at Braddock's defeat, in 
tlie French and English war. He was engaged to be 
married to a Lancaster girl, on his return from the 
war. In his absence, the home of the father of this 
young lady was burned by Indians, and the whole 
family butchered : her head was severed from her 
body, and planted upon a pole, and raised above the 
smouldering ruins. 

Captain Stewart on his return from the disasters 
of Braddock's field, was in time to see the slaugh- 
tered remains of this family, and of his affianced 
bride. The smoke of the building had not yet sub- 
sided on his arrival. The scene lashed his mind into 
a state of fury. Seized with a paroxysm of frenzy, 
and impelled by a deep sense of revenge, he swore 
eternal enmity toward the whole Indian race. Brood- 
ing over the terrible wrongs he had received, he 
became more and more embittered against the Indian 
tribes. He firmly resolved that between him and 
them, there should be no peace. He pursued and 
slew them whenever the opportunity was presented. 
He was unceasing in his energy, and unrelenting in 
his purpose. This conduct the Proprietary Govern- 
ment could not sanction. It was the policy of the 
government to have peace with the Indian tribes if 
possible. The course of Captain Stewart was prohib- 
ited by law, and the consequences were that the Pro- 



CAPTAIN LAZAKUS STEWART. 87 

prietary Government ordered his arrest and trial. 
This he would not submit to. He turned his eye to 
the Wyoming valley, and his mind to the making of 
a league with the Connecticut settlers. 

The views and opinions of these people ran in the 
same channel with his own. They hated the In- 
dians and so did he. They were in opposition to the 
Proprietary Government, and the curbing of his re- 
venge by that government, had placed him in that 
position also. 

The Wyoming valley was therefore the spot of 
all others for him ; and the hardy pioneers of New 
England, fighting under the rights of first grant and 
first occupation, in deadly hostility to the jurisdiction 
of Pennsylvania, were the people whose sympathies 
were in j^erfect accord with his own. 

Here then was a new field for operations. He 
made up his mind to enter it. He made common 
cause with the Wyoming settlers. At the head of 
his brave and intrepid band he came, and surrounded 
by his new allies, he threw down the gage of battle, 
and with them and their fortunes he pledged the 
service of his life. 

And true to them and their cause he faithfully 
remained. Wherever was the post of danger, there 
was Captain Stewart. He was one of the leading 
spirits of the Connecticut men amidst all their con- 
flicts, even up to his death upon tlie Wyoming bat- 
tle-ground, where he fell at the head of his company, 
in the foremost rank. 



88 HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

For the particular biography of this remarkable 
person, I refer the reader to the "Annals of Lu- 
zerne" written by one of his kinsmen, Stewart 
Pearce, Esq. They are well worthy a perusal. I 
have glanced only at the picture, wliich is there very 
cleverly drawn. 

The Yankees being joined by such an auxiliary as 
Captain Lazarus Stewart, and who by his military 
prowess and daring had infused into the rank and file 
of the company under his command all the spirit and 
enthusiasm of their leader, were rejoiced at this piece 
of good fortune. It gave them new hope, it nerved 
them with new energy. 

A new spirit seemed to prevail, and the capture 
of a fort upon an assault for that purpose, under the 
charge of Stewart and his Paxton boys, as they were 
termed, was always a matter of almost absolute cer- 
tainty. 

Thus, at the very commencement of the actual 
settlement of the lands upon the Susquehanna, we 
find two hostile flags displayed, each as the index of 
a separate power. And while the continued struggle 
upon the side of both belligerents was pretended to 
be classed under a civil regime, and as a means only 
of adjusting civil wrongs, there were all the para- 
phernalia and outward demonstrations of war — forti- 
fications, arms, munitions, drills, parades, and all the 
demonstrations and martial appearances which sur- 
round the camp. And to complete the picture, there 



CIVIL PROCEEDINGS. 89 

was the most vindictive and burning hate in the 
hearts of the opposing factions. The Yankee hated 
the Pennamite, and the Pennamite hated the Yan- 
kee. There was not the least particle of love between 
them, to incur the risk of loss. 

The captm-ing and recapturing of forts, the taking 
of prisoners, robbery and murder, all passed under 
the name of civil proceedings. The sheriff of North- 
ampton would have a hundred armed deputies to exe- 
cute a warrant, and Sheriff Cook, of Northumber- 
land, was surrounded by Colonel Plunket an.d seven 
hundred militia, to make an arrest of a few persons 
charged with a breach of the peace ! 

This was the way in which the Proprietary Grov- 
ernment conducted its civil administration ! 

And in the selection of agents by it, men were ap- 
pointed who seemed to pay no regard to the ordinary 
feelings of humanity. A fellow, by the name of 
Alexander Patterson, who was sent to Wilkes-Barr6 
as a civil ruler, seemed to relish the persecutions he 
heaped upon his prisoners, to a degree that astonishes 
the mind of a civilized man ; and he gloried in the 
opportunity for the exercise of his vindictive feelings 
toward the Yankee population. He regarded them 
as outlaws, and no punishment was too severe to 
inflict upon them. Some of the acts of brutality of 
this civil magistrate, upon Plymouth men, I shall al- 
lude to hereafter. 

But it is not within the line I have shaped out to 



90 HISTOKICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

go into a general account of the circumstances and 
incidents of this Pennamite and Yankee war, save so 
far as it may have a particular bearing upon the peo- 
ple of Plymouth. 

To those who would wish to understand the sub- 
ject in its lengthy details, I must refer them to our 
local historians — Chapman, Miner, Pearce, Peck and 
Stone. The three first named, speak more particu- 
larly of this conflict than the two latter. 

The chief scenes of these feuds were upon the 
east side of the river, and in the vicinity of the forts 
at and near Wilkes-Barre — though the last grand de- 
monstration came off at the battle of Nanticoke, 
which was upon Plymouth soil. 

The people of Plymouth had a small fort or 
stockade upon " Garrison HiU," which had been 
erected by the early settlers, in 1776, as their first 
movement of defensive operations, on the declaration 
of war, by the United States against Great Britain. 
This spot is at the turn of the flat road, and some 
seventy rods from the main travelled road through the 
town, and not far from the location of the old " swing 
gate." 

It was years ago, and within my recollection, the 
field where we went in search of Indian curiosities — 
arrow-heads, pipes, stone hatchets, pots, etc., and 
sometimes we would find leaden bullets and pieces of 
broken muskets, which were the evidences of civiliza- 
tion. 



TROUBLES OF PLYMOUTH PEOPLE. 91 

This stockade never became necessary for the ex- 
ercise of its military properties, in the Revolutionary 
or Pennamite troubles. It was important, however, 
as an Indian defense. 

But the people of Plymouth, composing at least 
one-fifth of the whole population of the valley, had 
their full share of the troubles, as well as the respon- 
sibilities of the border war. Several of our people 
were killed, many of them imprisoned and cruelly 
treated — for it was the Plymouth man who received 
no quarter, if he was so unfortunate as to fall into the 
enemy's hands. 

As the Shawnee tribe before them had been the 
especial objects of persecution by their masters, the 
Iroquois, so their misfortunes seemed to have fallen on 
their successors, as to the spirit of malevolence ; and 
whenever one of them fell into the clutches of 
Esquire Patterson, or Captains Christie and Shraw- 
der, he was certain to feel the j)angs of their malice. 

These people had been of the first Connecticut 
importation — " The Forty Thieves," as Patterson de- 
nounced them, and as such he treated them. 

Mr. Miner, in his history of Wyoming, informs us 
that Patterson, in his capacity as Justice of the 
Peace, visited the Shawnee settlement with an armed 
force, and under some legal pretext, arrested eleven 
respectable citizens and sent them under guard to the 
fort at Wilkes-Barre. 

"Among the prisoners was Major Prince Alden, 



92 HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

sixty-five years old, feeble from age and suffering 
from disease. Compassion yielded no tiling to attenu- 
ate his sufferings. Captain James Bidlack was also 
arrested. He was between sixty and seventy. His 
son of the same name had fallen, as previously re- 
corded, at the head of his company in the Indian bat- 
tle ; another son, Benjamin, had served in the army 
through the Kevolutionary war. Mr. Bidlack him- 
self had been taken l)y the savages and suffered a te- 
dious captivity in Canada. All this availed him no- 
thing. Benjamin Harvey, who had been a prisoner to 
the Indians, was also arrested. Samuel Ransom, son 
of Captain Ransom, who had fallen in the massacre, 
was most rudely treated on being arrested. ' Ah, 
ha!' cried Patterson, 'you are the jockey we wanted; 
away with him to the guard-house, with old Harvey, 
another damned rascal ! ' 

"Eleven in all were taken and driven to the fort, 
where they were confined in a room with a mud floor, 
on the thirty-first of October, wet and comfortless, 
with no food and little fire, which as they were sitting 
round. Captain Christie came in, ordered them to 
lie down on the ground, and bade the guard to blow 
out the brains of any one who should attempt to rise. 
Even the staff of the aged Mr. Alden was taken from 
him." 

The object of these acts of brutality ujDon the 
part of Patterson, it is supposed, was to enable him 
in their absence, to drive their families from their 



MR. Harvey's mission. 93 

houses and their homes, and put some of his minions 
in their places. Another motive may have been to 
punish old Mr. Harvey for an act it appears he had 
committed, which consisted in being sent as an agent 
by some of his people to Connecticut, to ascertain the 
names of the two hundred, who came out under the 
auspices of the Susquehanna Company. 

I insert an extract of a letter from Captain Shraw- 
der, who backed legal precepts with a military com- 
pany, and was at that time stationed at Wilkes-Barre. 
This letter bears date, Wyoming, March thirtieth, 
1783. " On Monday Colonel Butler arrived here, and 
the day following he and several of the principal in- 
habitants were over the river to Shawnee ; but 
whether on private (as they would fain make me be- 
lieve) or public business, I cannot tell. On Thursday 
they had a town meeting here, when they agreed, ac- 
cording to Captain Spalding's information to me, to 
send Mr. Harvey to a certain place in Connecticut for 
a copy of records, to see what time the first settlers 
came here, and who they were; accordingly Mr. Har- 
vey set off yesterday morning." 

This little piece of service, therefore, of Mr. 
Harvey, was by no means palatable to Patterson and 
Shrawder, and was a thing to be jotted down and 
remembered some day on the general summing up of 
charges against the " damned rascal," as Patterson 
pleased to designate him. 

The jail calendar at Easton contains the names, 



94 HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

among others, of Grideon Churcli, Abram Pike, 
Tliomas Heath, Prince Alden, Justin Graylord, Abra- 
ham Nesbitt, and Benjamin Bidlack. But this was 
but one importation. The calendars of that and the 
Sunbury jail, in Northumberland, if all produced, 
would run into scores. And for what offence .^ The 
cultivation and claim of land to which they had the 
first grant and the first occupation. And this was 
defined and punished as a crime, in the terrible days 
of which we are writing. 

The people of our town had, in common with 
their New England friends, done everything in their 
power to aid the Colonial struggle in the eftbrt for 
liberty. At least two men out of three were in the 
Kevolutionary service, including the terrible slaughter 
at Wyoming, and still this great tax, paid with half 
their substance, and sealed on Revolutionary battle- 
fields with the heart's blood of scores of them, availed 
them nothing, after the surrender of Cornwallis' sword 
to Washington. The occupation of land they had 
settled upon was a sufficient cause, upon the part of 
the Proprietary Government, to harrass the remnant 
of them, saved from slaughter, with every imaginable 
device. 

When peace came, most of the soldiers of the na- 
tion who had survived the seven-years' conflict, were 
at rest. Not so with the people of Plymouth and the 
Wyoming valley at large. The foreign foe had suf- 
fered his defeat, returned to his home, and yielded 



THE BATTLE OF NANTICOKE. 95 

to the fortunes of war ; and the peojDle generally who 
had achieved the victory were at rest. But the Wyo- 
ming soldier, on returning to his fireside after a seven- 
years' siege, and when he should have been released 
from further exposure and excitement, could not lay 
down his arms; for though war had relieved nearly 
the whole country, it still showed its glowering fea- 
tures at the threshold of his home. 

He had survived Brandywine and Germantown, 
to meet as vindictive a foe, on his return, as he had 
faced upon those fields. This was cruelly hard, but 
so it seemed to have been noted down in the book of 
his destiny. 

As the battle of Nanticoke was contested on Ply- 
mouth soil, and as every able-bodied man and boy in 
the township were engaged in it, there will be a pro- 
priety in giving the full details of it. At least one 
third of the Yankee force was made uj) of its citizens. 

In the month of December, 1775, the Proprietary 

Government sent an armed force of some five hundred 

men, under the command of Colonel William Plun- 

ket, to destroy the Yankee settlement at Muncy, on 

the west branch of the Susquehanna. This settlement 

embraced the two townships of Charleston and Judea, 

which were within the limits of the charter of the 

Susquehanna Company, though settled some years 

after the Wyoming valley. The number being small, 

and not having the necessary means of defense, they 

were obliged to surrender at discretion. 
6 



96 HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

One man was killed by Phmket's command, a few 
wounded, and, as was usual in sucli cases, the leading 
men were conveyed to the Sunbury Jail. 

Flushed with this easy victory over the defense- 
less people of Charleston and Judea, the Proprietary 
Grovernment resolved upon sending Colonel Plunket 
to Wyoming, to remove the Yankees from that place. 

So they commenced making preparation for the 
campaign, by the addition of two hundred more 
Northumberland militia, collecting the necessary sup- 
plies and boats for their transportation. 

Any property in those times which belonged to 
a Wyoming Yankee, was the proper subject of plun- 
der by the Proprietary Grovernment, through its 
agents. It required two boats to carry their supplies, 
ammunition, and a field-piece. It seems they were 
determined on this occasion to add artillery to their 
small arms. It would have a more imj)osing ap- 
pearance. 

They had little difficulty in procuring their ships 
of war. They were at hand. A boat of Benjamin 
Harvey, Jr., had been seized a few days before at 
Fort Augusta, and the cargo confiscated, upon the 
ground that he was a traitor to the government. One 
of his neighbors had been treated in the same way. 
Here then were the two boats for the expedition. 
And what was better, Mr. Harvey was impressed in 
the service, to pilot the boats up the Susquehanna, 
with the glorious privilege, on arriving at Nanticoke, 



THE MARCH TO WYOMING. 97 

of shooting at, or being shot by, his family and 
friends. But there was no release from his position. 
There is no apology available against vindictive force. 
He submitted. 

But there was another necessary wanting. When 
the Proprietary Government made war, it was done 
under the authority of a civil process. To meet this 
emergency, a warrant was sworn out to arrest some 
Yankee settler for treason. Against whom it was di- 
rected in this case, we have not the record to show. 
The l)lanks in these warrants were generally filled up 
with the names of John Franklin, Zebulon Butler, 
Lazarus Stewart or one of the Harveys. But this 
was of little importance. The warrant of arrest 
was obtained, and put in the hands of Sheriff Cook, 
of the county of Northumberland, for execution, in 
the name and on behalf of the Proprietary Govern- 
ment of Pennsylvania. 

The two hundred additional men were mustered 
into the service of the sheriff's posse, which now 
numbered from six to seven hundred strong. Am- 
munition and supplies were stored in the two ships 
of war, the cannon mounted, and in the early part of 
December, the soldieiy commenced their march to 
Wyoming, upon the main road skirting the west side 
of the river ; and the flotilla, with Benjamin Harvey, 
Jr., as pilot, weighed anchor upon the head-waters 
of the Susquehanna. With colors flying and martial 
instruments sending out notes of the slogan, or some 



98 HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

other tune in character, the whole force commenced 
their movement toward the enemy's country. 

On the twentieth of December, Colonel Plunket, 
at the head of his invading army, — to carry out the 
civil process in the hands of Sheriff Cook, — arrived at 
the mouth of Nescopeck creek, something like twenty 
miles below Nanticoke. On this very day Congress, 
probably haAdng been informed of the onslaught upon 
the poor settlers of Charleston and Judea, and the 
preparation by the Pennsylvania authorities, prompt- 
ed by the chivalrous acts of the colonel in that cam- 
paign, for the subjugation, if not the expulsion of 
the Yankees on the north branch of the Susquehanna, 
passed a very important resolution. 

Its substance is, that in the opinion of Con- 
gress, the contending parties on the Susquehanna 
should cease all hostilities, and avoid every appear- 
ance of force ; that all property taken should be 
immediately restored to the original owners ; that 
there should be no interruption caused by either 
party in the passing and repassing of persons behav- 
ing peaceably, through the disputed territory; that 
those who had been seized and kej)t in custody ought 
to be immediately released, that they might go to 
their respective homes; and recommending peace and 
quiet until a legal decision could be had on the dis- 
pute, or until Congress should take further orders. 

It is probable that, in those days of mail facili- 
ties. Colonel Plunket and Sheriff Cook did not re- 



COLONEL ZEBULON BUTLER. 99 

ceive this resolution of Congress till after tlie battle 
of Nanticoke, which was fought on the twenty-fourth 
and twenty-fifth. It is possible, however, that the 
knowledge of this may have had something to do 
with their precipitate retreat ; and it is fair to pre- 
sume that their Yankee reception, the floating ice 
in the river, and the severe cold weather which came 
on every northern blast, had much more to do with 
it. Eailroads and telegraph wires had not then made 
their appearance. 

There was but little ice in the Susquehanna, when 
the expedition left Fort Augusta. This obstruction, 
however, increased as they ascended the river. The 
fact of making but thirty miles in three or four days 
is evidence that they had pretty serious obstacles in 
the way. 

The people of the valley had received information 
of the fitting out of the expedition, before the march 
had been commenced from Sunbury. They therefore 
had but little time for preparation. And as there 
had been a respite from any serious collisions for a 
year or two previous, they were not in a condition 
to meet successfully so large an oj)posing force. The 
whole valley could not muster, including old and 
young, seven hundred men. 

Under the direction, however, of Colonel Zebulon 
Butler, they commenced operations with a right good 
will. Impressed with the idea that they were to fight 
on their own territory, and in defense of their civil 



100 HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

rights, their homes and their children, they mustered 
men and boys some three hundred. A small force 
compared with the little army of Colonel Plunket ; 
but for the deficiency in rank and file, they made up 
in resolution and courage. Those who could not be 
provided with guns were supplied with long poles 
with scythes fastened upon the ends — a formidable 
weapon in a hand to hand encounter ; and as the 
soldiers marched along they jokingly named their 
unique weapons, " the end of time." 

On the night of the twenty-third of December, 
Colonel Butler encamped with his command near the 
mouth of Harvey's creek. From this position he 
sent Major John Grarret,with a flag, down the river 
some two or three miles to meet the advancing 
column, and inquire of Colonel Plunket as to the 
meaning of this hostile approach and military dis- 
play ? Major Grarret was informed that it was alto- 
gether a peaceable demonstration, for no purpose but 
to aid the sheriff of Northumberland county in exe- 
cuting a warrant for the arrest of several persons at 
Wyoming, for the violation of the laws of the Pro- 
prietary Government, and that it was to be hoped 
there would be no resistance to such a reasonable and 
proper request ! 

And this was the mode and manner, at that time, in 
this part of Pennsylvania, of executing civil process ! 
Major Garret knew well, from the military force before 
him, that this declaration was a most infamous lie. 



ENSIGN MASON FITCH ALDEN, 101 

So on his return, he reported that the enemy out- 
numbered their own forces more than two to one. 
" The conflict will be a sharp one, boys," said he. 
" I for one am ready to die, if it need be, for my 
country." 

Early on the morning of the twenty-fourth, 
Colonel Butler retired up the river about a mile 
from the place, where he had bivouacked on the night 
of the twenty-third, to a point of natural defense 
on the Harvey farm. This natural defense consists 
of a line of elevated rocks, extending from the base 
of the mountain, in a south-easterly direction, almost 
to the bank of the river, a distance probably of half 
a mile. The road crossed this lodge through a gorge 
in the rocky promontory, at a short distance from 
the river. The ground was covered with forest trees. 
Here he took his stand ; his men finishing an ad- 
dition to the breast- work, which they had partially 
constructed on their way down. The outline of this 
natural barricade may be easily traced by the eye. 
On the south-west line of it are the entrances to a 
coal mine which is now in operation. 

Colonel Butler, on leaving his camp in the morn- 
ing, had detailed Ensign Mason Fitch Alden, with 
eighteen men, to remain there as a corps of observa- 
tion, with orders to report as to any movement of 
the enemy. 

He also detached Captain Lazarus Stewart, with 
twenty men, with orders to cross the river to the 



102 HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

east side, and take position a short distance above 
the Nanticoke falls, on the Lee farm, to repel any 
attempt that might be made, on the part of the 
enemy, to effect a landing on that side of the stream. 

Having thus disposed of the details of his plan 
of arrangement, and which were done with profound 
military skill, he put his men in position behind his 
rock barricade, and awaited the approach of the 
enemy. He was thus guarded at all points, and his 
position was one that was almost impregnable against 
a force, such as was about to advance upon it. 

On the same morning, December twenty-fourth. 
Colonel Plunket reached the ground occupied by 
Alden, about eleven o'clock. Alden slowly retiring 
out of the reach of gunshot, was followed by the 
enemy up to the barricades. 

Colonel Plunket marched up with much display, 
his drums beating and music pealing from his instru- 
ments. Observing the strong position before him, he 
halted at a respectable distance, exclaiming, "My 
God ! what a breast-work." 

Mr. Miner, in his history of tliis battle, and 
whose text I have mainly relied on, says that John 
Carey, who was in the action, told him, in speaking 
of the conduct of Colonel Butler throughout the 
affair, " I loved the man ; he was an honor to the 
human species." 

The taking of life was not the object or design 
of these defensive operations. As the Yankees were 



PASSAGE ACROSS THE RIVER. 103 

in a safe position, Colonel Butler ordered his entire 
line to fire a volley of blank cartridges, thinking 
that this would give the enemy the idea, by the re- 
port, that their force corresponded with the formida- 
ble character of their breast- work. 

The device answered the purpose ; the enemy's 
line was thrown into confusion. Without firing a 
gun they retreated out of range of the fire at the 
breast-work. 

Colonel Plunket, supposing that the barricade 
could not be stormed without great loss, commenced 
another movement. Placing a reconnoitring force 
into a boat, he directed them to cross the river, with 
a view of ascertaining the practicability of enter- 
ing the valley, on the east side. The passage of this 
boat and crew was watched by both parties with 
much anxiety. The Yankees, however, had some 
knowledge as to the result of the adventure, which 
the Pennamites did not. 

As a kind of shield, Benjamin Harvey, Jr., was 
put upon this boat. As the crew were approaching 
the shore, Capt. Stewart with his guard of twenty 
men gave them a volley. As there were no blank 
cartridges about this part of the affair, there was 
some mischief done ; two or three were wounded, and 
probably the whole crew would have been killed 
if Harvey had not called out to them to desist, as 
they might kill some of their friends. Recognizing 
him. Captain Stewart discontinued his fire. 



104 HISTOEICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

The crew plying their oars, and coming within 
the draught of the rapids below, passed through 
them in a moment. 

And thus ended the operations of the twenty- 
fourth. Colonel Plunket withdrew to the camp 
which Colonel Butler had left in the morning, and re- 
mained there over night. 

The result of a military consultation that night, 
it is to be presumed, held between him and Sherifi' 
Cook, was to divide the attacking column in the 
morning — the right of his line to storm the breast- 
works of the Yankees, and the left to outflank 
their right. This was a matter which seemed more 
feasible in theory, than it afterwards proved to be 
when tested. And if Colonel Plunket had under- 
stood the ground as well as Colonel Butler did, he 
might have changed his plan of attack. 

I have already stated that this natural defense of 
rocky ledges was nearly a half mile in length, striking 
the base of a very steep hill on the west terminus, 
and reaching nearly to the bank of the river on the 
east. A flanking movement, therefore, on the set- 
tlers' right, was opposed by a steep hill, and by the 
river on the left. This then was impracticable. And 
as for storming or scaling the breast-work, that was 
a serious affair when met squarely in the face. 

With this plan of operations in vicAv, Colonel 
Plunket marched out of camp, on Christmas morning, 
to give battle. Concealing his men with branches 



DEATH OF SURVEYOR LUKENS' SON. 105 

and loose rocks, he advanced upon the fortifications. 
The fire now became general along the whole line. 
Guarded at all points, Colonel Butler had provided 
for the movement on his right, by detaching a force 
to guard his flank, at the base of the mountain. 

The conflict lasted most of the day. The flank- 
ing party was repulsed at every attempt, to storm or 
scale the fortifications. 

It has never been known what number were 
killed or wounded in this battle. Probably as many 
as a dozen were slain on both sides, and maybe three 
times that number wounded. A son of Surveyor- 
General Lukens was killed, on the side of the enemy, 
and I have been informed by those who were in the 
battle, that there were three or four others, and sev- 
eral wounded. 

Four days after the battle, December twenty- 
ninth, the records show that the people of Westmore- 
land were in town meeting, and among other things 
they, 

" Voted — Titus Hinman and Perin Ross be ap- 
pointed to collect the charity of the people for the 
support of the widow Baker, the widow Franklin, 
and the widow Ensign." 

Baker and Franklin were Plymouth men. 

Mr. Miner gives it as his opinion, and he had 
been very industrious in the collection of facts in the 
compilation of his history, and most of his knowl- 
edge derived from the actors in the affair — "that 



106 HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

probably six or eight were killed, and three times 
that number wounded," on the side of the settlers. 

Towards the close of the day. Colonel Plunket, 
finding Colonel Butler's position too strong to be car- 
ried, withdrew from the field, and immediately com- 
menced his retreat on the west side of the river. 

He was pursued by Captain Stewart on the east 
side of the river some miles, but without any damag- 
ing results. 

And thus ended the battle of Nanticoke. The de- 
sign of the invasion, in mid winter, though with very 
formidable numbers for those days, was an evidence 
if not of folly, at least a want of military skill and 
precaution. The battle itself was the most formida- 
ble, and concentrated more force, and was attended 
with more bloodshed, than any one other conflict be- 
tween the Connecticut and Pennsylvania people. 
And as the field of action was upon Plymouth soil, 
that township being more in immediate danger, it is 
probable that on that memorable day, there was not 
one of her citizens, capable of bearing arms, that was 
not engaged in it. 

An incident or two connected with the battle of 
Nanticoke, must be mentioned for the first time in his- 
tory. It is related by William Jameson, who was in 
the engagement, that he and old Benjamin Harvey 
(father of the Benjamin impressed in the boat service 
of Colonel Plunket) occupied a position together be- 
hind one of the rock breast-works. Mr. Harvey waa 



BENJAMIN HARVEY. 107 

an aged man, and grandfather of Jameson Harvey, 
Esq., late of Plymouth. He fought with a musket, 
and as the old hero would drive down the bullet with 
his ramrod, he would " pray the Lord to direct it to 
the hearts of the bloody Pennamites; " and whenever 
he would fire through the loop-hole, he would ex- 
claim, " there, damn you, take that ! " He thus load- 
ed with a prayer and discharged with a curse ! 

I learn on traditionary authority, that on the first 
day of the battle, when Colonel Butler ordered the 
first round of blank cartridges to be fired, he noticed 
the bark, limbs, and twigs falling on his left where 
the Plymouth men were stationed. He turned to a 
subaltern, remarking, " that there was no more use in 
attempting to restrain those fellows, (the Shawnees) 
than wild Arabs ; that they would shoot a Pennamite 
if they knew they were to die for it the next minute, 
and by refraining, they could save their life." 

More than fifty years ago, I remember seeing a 
large fiat rock, set up on edge between two trees, 
near the natural breast- work, upon this battle-field. 
It stood between two chestnuts, and as the trees 
grew, it became firmly imbedded between them. This 
was pointed out to me by my father as " one of the 
barricades of the early settlers of the valley, in a bat- 
tle that had been fought on that ground many years 
before." I saw it often in after years. It is not 
there now. 

Progress has removed this old landmark, an in- 



108 HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

dex of early border warfare, a monument in com- 
memoration of brave and fearless men, and around 
which clung the dearest recollections of the past. 

Why was it done ? 

Progress did the work, and so progress drilled 
holes into the great boulder, detached from the 
precipice, on tlie brow of the hill above and near the 
entrance to the Grand Tunnel, and put in blasts of 
powder and rent it into pieces. This huge rock, 
some ten feet in height, vdth an even surface of 
some twenty feet in diameter, was a precious relic of 
the past : it was the threshing-floor of old Benjamin 
Harvey, before the dawn of Independence. It re- 
mained there quietly in its bed as late as 1840. Pro- 
gress itched for its destruction, and it is gone ! 

The next movement of this modern Sirocco will 
be the tearing away of the old Academy. Vandal- 
ism is unloosed. 

Progress, unrestrained by sound and discriminat- 
ing judgment, is a more ferocious monster than the 
beast of seven heads and ten horns of the Apoca- 
lypse, which arose out of the sea, the fearful type of 
the great enemy of man, and which so troubled the 
visions of St. John ! 

His greedy and capacious maw can contain every- 
thing : Yankee fortifications, rock threshing-floors, 
public commons, dedicated under the solemnities of 
law as places for the recreation of toiling men and 
their little ones ; the Column Vendome, the Palace 




J A JI E S O N H A R V E Y. 



HARBISON WRIGHT. 109 

of the Tuilleries, and will yet swallow uj) the Pyr- 
amids ! 

Progress will soon turn his great glaring eye-balls 
upon the old Academy, which in its day, has sent out 
some of the very best business and professional men 
of this Commonwealth. You who doubt, look to the 
substantial business men and merchants of Ply- 
mouth during the last thirty years, and call to mind 
the stirring appeals and nervous forensic declama- 
tions of Harrison Wright. 

It is a subject of regret that, of the numerous 
members of the Harvey family, many of them being 
conspicuous men in the early settlement of Plymouth, 
no likeness is to be had of any one of the earlier im- 
migrants. 

I insert the photograpic likeness of Mr. Jameson 
Harvey, now well advanced in years; but who is of 
the third generation of the family, since their settle- 
ment in the town. The same farm that his grand- 
father resided upon, this gentleman occupied as his 
home till within the last three years, when he re- 
moved to Wilkes-Barre, where he now resides. The 
land is underlaid with coal, and has become very val- 
uable. 



CHAPTEK V. 

PENNAMITE AND YANKEE WAR CONTINUED, — ICE 

FLOOD. EXPULSION OF THE SETTLERS AND ACTS 

OF CRUELTY INFLICTED UPON TH;EM. SETTLERS 

RETURN. FIGHT ON ROSS HILL. TORIES DRIVEN 

OUT OF SHAWNEE. 

THE battle of Nanticoke was upon the eve of the 
Eevolution. The intervening time was but from 
Christmas to July. Local strifes were to be laid 
aside. The great and momentous question of a na- 
tion's liberty, was at hand. The cry " to arms ! " 
resounded throughout the land. The issue was be- 
tween Liberty and Despotism. The people of Ply- 
mouth were undivided on this issue ; their enemies 
were not. Our town furnished more soldiers than its 
quota. 

For the present we pass over the ensuing seven 
years of toil and exposure, of misery and bloodshed, 
and come down to the close of the rebellion, to see 
how our veterans were rewarded for their sacrifices 
and their valor. 

Articles of peace, in which the Independence of 
the United States of America was recognized, were 
signed and exchanged on the twentieth day of No- 
vember, 1782. The soldiers of Plymouth who had 
survived the terrible encounter returned to their 

(110) 



THE ICE FLOOD, 111 

homes in the winter of 1782-83. They laid aside 
their implements of war, and took up those of the 
husbandman. During the summer they prepared 
their ground and sowed their grain, but they were 
not allowed to gather their harvest. 

They would do to fight on the battle-fields for lib- 
erty, but not to reap the harvest their hands had pre- 
pared. The children of the men who perished from 
the inclemency of the winter at Valley Forge, or who 
fell at the Wyoming Massacre, could plant the seeds, 
but not gather the crop. 

On the thirteenth and fourteenth of March, 1784, 
occurred the memoiable ice flood in the Susquehanna. 
The elements seemed to have joined the common 
enemy of the poor settlers. It is said that misfor- 
tunes never come singly. 

I copy the account of the flood and its disasters 
from Mr. Chapman : 

"After a winter of unusual severity, about the 
middle of March the weather became suddenly warm, 
and on the thirteenth and fourteenth rain fell in tor- 
rents, melting the deep snows throughout all the hills 
and valleys, in the upper regions watered by the Sus- 
quehanna, The following day the ice in the river 
began to break up, and the streams rose with great 
rapidity. The ice first gave way at the different 
rapids, and floating down in great masses, lodged 
against tlie frozen surface of the more gentle parts of 

the river, where it remained firm. In this manner 
7 



112 HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

several large dams were formed, whicli caused such 
an accumulation of water that the river overflowed 
all its banks, and one general inundation overspread 
the extensive plains of Wyoming. The inhabitants 
took refuge, and saw their property exposed to the 
fury of the waters. 

"At length the upper dam gave way; huge masses 
of ice were scattered in every direction. The deluge 
bore down upon the dams below, which successively 
yielded to the insupportable burden, and the whole 
went off with the noise of contending storms. 
Houses, barns, stacks of hay and grain were swept 
off in the general destruction, to be seen no more. 
The plain on which the village of Wilkes-Barre is 
built, was covered with heaps of ice, which continued. 
a great portion of the following summer." 

A graphic and well-drawn picture, truly. Those 
who have witnessed the breaking up of the huge ice 
fields of the Susquehanna, caused by a sudden thaw, 
will recognize the force and power of the description 
from the pen of Mr. Chapman. 

There has been no flood approximating to its 
character since, in the Susquehanna. The one known 
as " St. Patrick's Flood," of 1865, approaches the 
nearest to it. So called because of its occurrence on 
the seventeenth and eighteenth of March, the former 
being the birth-day of that saint. 

It was regarded as proper for the subject of record. 
The court of the county at August session 1865, 



THE FLOOD ON '^GARRISON HILL." 113 

caused the folio-wing entry to be made on the minutes : 
" The flood of the seventeenth and eighteenth of 
March, 1865, known as " St. Patrick's Flood," was 
24 7-lOths feet above low- water mark in the Susque- 
hanna, and it is the general opinion that it was four 
feet higher than the " Pumpkin Flood " of October, 
1786." 

From the most reliable information I can gather, 
the flood of 1784 was from five to six feet higher 
than the one of 1865. It may therefore be styled the 
king of the floods of the Susquehanna. The river 
probably rose thirty-three feet above its ordinary low- 
water mark. A fearful and terrible deluge was the 
result. 

The people of our town were not aware of these 
sudden and great rises which occasionally occurred in 
the Susquehanna, and therefore did not exercise 
proper precaution in the selection of the sites for 
their new homes. There were eight or nine dwellings 
on " Garrison Hill " in 1784. No one in these days 
would think of erecting buildings upon that level. 
All of those dwellings with their sheds and out- 
houses were swept off, in that memorable flood. Rev. 
Benjamin Bidlack was carried away in the house he 
occupied. After a perilous voyage of a night, plung- 
ing about amidst ice bergs and floating debris, ex- 
pecting every moment to be engulphed, he finally 
found a safe harbor at the lower end of the Shawnee 
Flats. 



114 HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

Mr. Asa Jackson, of Abraham's Plains, was 
drowned. There were no lives lost in Plymouth, but 
the destruction of property there, as well as through- 
out the valley, was immense. 

Before the calamities of the flood had subsided, 
the people of Plymouth and the whole valley were 
subjected to a new horror. 

Alexander Patterson, the civil magistrate of 
Wilkes-Barre, conceived that the time had come to 
exterminate the Yankee race in Wyoming. Devoid 
of the common impulses of the human heart, and im- 
pelled by the most wicked designs, he commenced the 
work of driving a helpless people, now composed 
principally of old men, boys, women and children, 
from the few homes that the angry waters had spared 
them. 

John Franklin, whose brother was a Plymouth 
man, and had been killed at the battle of Nanticoke, 
informs us in his journal, " that the soldiers (Chris- 
tie's and Shrawder's companies, stationed in the 
Wilkes-Barre garrison, and the body guard of Pat- 
terson), were set to work removing the fences 
from the enclosures of the inhabitants, laying fields 
of grain open to be devoured, fencing up the high- 
ways, and between the houses of the settlers and 
their wells' of water ; that they were not permitted to 
procure water from their wells, or travel their usual 
highways. The greater part of the people were in 
the most distressed situation, numbers having had 



CRUEL TREATMENT OF THE SETTLERS. 115 

their houses swept oiF by the uncommon overflowing 
of the Susquehanna, in the month of March preced- 
ing ; numbers were without shelter and in a starving 
condition. They were not suffered to cut a stick of 
timber, or make any shelters for their families. They 
were forbid to draw their nets to fish ; their nets 
were taken from them by the officers of the garrison. 
The settlers were often dragged out of their beds in 
the night season by ruffians, and beat in a cruel 
manner. Complaints were made to the justices, as 
well as to the commanding officers of the garrison, 
but to no purpose, and were equally callous to every 
feeling of humanity," 

What a picture is here presented of the condition 
of our people. The elements and the wrath of man 
seemed to have been in accord. The evil passions of 
the human heart had culminated. The worst of pas- 
sions were unloosed, and mercy no longer had an ex- 
istence in the heart of Patterson, and the minions 
whom he had in his train. He unleashed his hounds 
and they eagerly scented, and savagely pursued, their 
prey. The grievances portrayed by Franklin, were 
but the prelude of the tragedy which followed. 

On the thirteenth and fourteenth of May, just 
sixty days after the horrors of the flood, the two com- 
panies of soldiers, under the order of Patterson, were 
marched out, with fixed bayonets, for the purpose of 
expelling the whole Yankee population of the valley. 

The settlers were weak now ; the battle-fields of 



116 HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

the revolution had decimated their number. The 
Goddess of Liberty smiled complacently upon the 
people of most of the land, but her face was veiled 
upon the plains of the Susquehanna. 

The day of their tribulation had usurped the day 
of their jubilee. Eejoicings and thanksgivings were 
the songs elsewhere, but here was the land of mourn- 
ing. The woman who had become widowed, and the 
child who had become orphaned, by the ravages of 
war, had none to lean upon. The old man who had 
given his sons to his country in the hour of need, 
hobbled upon his crutches as his only support now. 

The battles and the floods had joined hands ; 
these had erected the scaubld, and Patterson now ap- 
peared as the common hangman. 

His orders were to expel the people ; " to take no 
excuse ; to give no quarter ; to burn the houses of 
those who were refractory or disobeyed orders." 

Not more unrelenting and revengeful were the de- 
crees of Pharaoh, issued against the children of Isra- 
el. The same evil spirit actuated the minds of both. 
The Egyptian king gave his fugitives the choice of 
the road they should travel ; Patterson's orders were 
that the Wyoming people should travel the roads 
where there were no bridges, and where the wilder- 
ness had not yet received the kindly imprint of the 
foot of the pioneer. 

The poor settlers begged that they might go up 
or down the river, as in this way they could use 



EXPULSION OF THE SETTLERS. 117 

boats. Their horses and wagons had been carried 
away by the floods. Patterson said no. They then 
besought him to permit them to take the road by 
Stroudsburg, to Easton^on the Delaware. The mon- 
ster said no. These roads had bridges over the 
streams and wagons could pass over them, and there- 
fore the exodus could not move upon them. 

The road to Lackawaxen was the road to Connec- 
ticutj that the refugees must travel upon, and no 
other, and upon that they must take up their line of 
march at once, without food, without clothing, with- 
out the means of transportation, without ho]3e. Six- 
ty miles of a howling wilderness lay before them, and 
there was no land of promise beyond. The road they 
were compelled to travel had not been repaired, or 
used during the seven years of the Revolution; it 
was almost impassable, even for persons on foot. 
The streams were swollen with rains, the bridges 
were decayed and gone, there was no inn by the way- 
side, and no shelter to screen the helpless creatures 
from winds and storms. 

Mr. Miner, in his history, p. 345, says : "About 
five hundred men, women and children, with scarce 
provisions to sustain life, plodding their weary way, 
mostly on foot, the road being impassable for wagons ; 
mothers carrying their infants, and wading streams 
up to their arm-pits, and at night slept on the naked 
earth, the heavens their canopy, with scarce clothing 
to cover them. A Mr. Gardner, and John Jenkins^ 



118 HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

(who had been a representative to the Connecticut 
Assembly, and who was chairman of the town meet- 
ing which had in 1775 adopted the noble resolutions 
in favor of liberty,) both aged men and lame, sought 
their weary way on crutches. Little children, tired 
with travelling, crying to their mothers for bread, 
which they had not to give them, sank from exhaus- 
tion into stillness and slumber, while others could 
only shed tears of compassion and sorrow, till in 
sleep, they forgot their griefs and cares. Several of 
the unhappy sufferers died in the wilderness, others 
were taken sick from excessive fatigue, and expired 
soon after reaching the settlement. A widow -svith a 
numerous family of children, whose husband had 
been slain in the war, endured inexpressible hard- 
ships. One child died and she buried it as she could, 
behind a hemlock log, probably to be disinterred from 
its shallow covering and be devoured by wolves." 

One of the exiles, Elisha Harding, Esq., gives a 
very spirited account of this terrible journey through 
the wilderness, which I cannot omit. He says : 

" It was a solemn scene ; parents, their children 
crying from hunger ; aged men on their crutches ; all 
urged forward by an armed force at our heels." 

In seven days they made their journey of sixty 
miles. They had reached the Delaware ; they were 
in a civilized land. Some of them went up and some 
of them went down that river, seeking shelter where 
they could, and living fvs they could. 



SYMPATHY AROUSED. 119 

Mr. Harding says he took the road, east, in the 
direction of Connecticut, but when he reached the 
summit of the Shongum Mountain, he turned back, 
as did the Israelites of old, to survey the land he had 
left. But hear him in his own language : "I looked 
back with this thought — ' Shall I abandon Wyoming 
forever .? ' The reply was ' No, oh, no ! There lie 
your murdered brothers and friends. Dear to me art 
thou, though a land of affliction.' Every way looked 
gloomy except towards Wyoming. Poor, ragged and 
distressed as I was, I had youth and health, and felt 
that my heart was whole. So I turned back to de- 
fend or die." 

The news of the brutal conduct which caused 
these sufferings spread wide and far. The sympathy 
of the whole country was aroused. The entire j^eople 
of the State of Pennsylvania, except the few land- 
speculators who had title rights in Wyoming, became 
excited, and demanded that these people should be 
restored to their possessions. The Proprietary Gov- 
ernment had become a Sovereign State. An order 
was issued on the thirteenth of June, directing the 
companies of Christie and Shrawder to be forthwith 
discharged. These soldiers immediately left the 
valley. 

A month of exile thus passed, and the settlers of 
the Susquehanna were stragglers and outcasts, wan- 
dering upon the shores of the Delaware; but the people 
of New Jersey and of Pennsylvania who lived in that 



120 HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

region, were hospitable and kind to the wi'etched and 
forlorn objects, who appealed to them for charity. 

The Pennsylvania authorities not only directed 
the soldiers stationed here to be discharged, but they 
also ordered the sheriff of ISTorthumberland — the pres- 
ent territory of Luzerne at that time being a part of 
■it — to repair to Wyoming, invite the settlers back 
again, and reinstate them in their possessions. Sher- 
iff Antis accordingly came into the valley about 
the middle of June. He sent messengers to the 
Delaware to inform the settlers, in the name of the 
State, that they, might return to Wyoming. This 
was of course glad tidings to them, and they com- 
menced their march back again, and in a week or ten 
days afterwards, most of them had arrived. They 
halted on the summit of the Wilkes-Barre mountain, 
and erected a fort there, called "Fort Lillo-pe." 

There were reasons, of which they were informed, 
why they did not at once descend into the valley below. 

After the discharge of the soldiers of Christie 
and Shrawder, Patterson immediately — setting the 
orders and decrees of the State authority at defiance, 
— commenced enrolling those of the Pennsylvania 
claimants who were here ; persons also who had taken 
the side of Great Britain in the war, tories, and all 
the disaffected characters whom he could seduce, 
either by threats or promises, and took possession of 
the garrison. Under this state of afiairs, the author- 
ity of the sheriff amounted to nothing. 



BRUTALITY OF PATTERSON. 121 

Patterson sent a flag up to the fort on the moun- 
tain, to give the people an invitation to come on. 
They having heard from their runners that their 
houses and farms were in the possession of the tories 
and Pennamite claimants, were afraid of Patterson. 
They knew the man and the perfidy of his heart. 

Upon consultation, however, it was agreed to send 
a committee and see how matters stood ; but the 
Plymouth people were excluded from this piece of 
work. It would not do for the Franklins, the Bid- 
lacks, the Harveys, the Gaylords, nor the Nesbitts, to 
go on such a mission. These were marked men. 

The committee came, but this monster in human 
shaj)e, disregarding all rules of honor and the sacred 
character of a flag of truce, immediately caused the 
committee to be arrested ; and two of them, Captain 
Jabez Fish, of Wilkes-Barre, and John Gore, of 
Kingston, were cruelly beaten with iron ramrods. 

This information reaching the people at their 
mountain fortification, they unanimously resolved to 
brave every thing, and, if needs be, die in the cause. 
Their committee, invited under a flag of truce, had 
been shamefully and cruelly beaten with iron rods ; 
and they made up their minds, old and young, women 
and children, to take up the line of advance, pre- 
ferring death to the terrible state of suspense and suf- 
fering to which they were exposed. 

They had reached the mountain on the thirtieth 
of May, and in accordance with the resolve, I have 



122 HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

stated, they boldly commenced their advance into the 
valley on the third of July. And the same night, 
without molestation, they took up their quarters in 
Kingston, on Abraham's (now Tuttle's) creek. Pat- 
terson having satiated his venom by beating their 
committee with iron rods, considered this, we are 
to suppose, as a sufficient vent to his malice and re- 
venge, and laid no further obstacles in the way of their 
march. 

And thus, after nearly two months of great suf- 
fering, want and destitution, the settlers were again 
in the valley of blood — if not within their own houses, 
spared by flood, or the occupation of their enemy. 

The next thought was to gather such of their 
crops as still remained upon the ground. For this 
purpose, as well as for measures, we may say not of 
retaliation, but purely self-preservation, a company of 
thirty young men associated themselves together, 
their first object being to gather the crops. Armed 
with the rifles and muskets which were left, and tak- 
ing their farming implements, they started to gather 
the crops upon the Shawnee flats. On the western 
slope of Rosshill they were met by a band of Pat- 
terson's men, who immediately gave them battle. 
The young settlers did the best they could, but lost 
in the skirmish two very promising young men, 
Elisha Garret and Chester Pierce, one of whom was 
a Plymouth man. Patterson's men had two wounded 
and left on the field, Wilhelmus Van Gordon and 



RALLY OF THE SETTLERS. 123 

Henry Brink; another one of them returned to the 
garrison, his broken arm swinging in his sleeve : 
three or four others were wounded. 

This new^ trouble put an end to the gathering 
of the crops on Shawnee flats, the seeds of which 
had been sown by the men who had returned the 
previous year from the Continental battle - fields ! 
There was no peace. 

The wanton slaughter of those two young men 
produced among the settlers, in camp at Abraham's 
creek, the keenest anguish, and the bitterest feeling of 
revenge. How could it be otherwise ? Under a flag 
of truce Patterson had decoyed some of their old 
men into his clutches to gratify the black malevolence 
of his heart, beating them in a cruel and barbarous 
manner. He had slain some of the young men who 
were going to gather the crops to save the lives of 
starving women and children. 

These settlers were mortal; they were subject to 
the like feelings and moved by the like passions of 
their race. They were now driven to a stage of des- 
peration. A general rally of the settlers was the 
result. Forty-two effective men and twenty old 
men mustered under John Franklin, marched to 
Shawnee for the purpose of exterminating the tories 
who had taken possession of their lands, under the 
permission of Patterson, while they were in miserable 
exile upon the Delaware. 

Here they found the interlopers, Brink and Van 



124 HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

Gordon, wounded a day or two before upon Kosshill. 
These men were helpless : they spared them. Such 
would not have been the fate of two of their own 
men, under like circumstances, falling into the hands 
of Patterson. 

Captain Franklin cleaned Shawnee thoroughly 
of the tory element, save the two men wounded. 
They, however, never found that locality a very 
agreeable residence, and I do not find the names of 
either upon any of the enrollments or assessment 
lists from that time down. The probability is that 
when they recovered from the wounds received upon 
Eosshill, they left the town. In fact there can be 
but little question of that ! Plymouth had an un- 
wholesome atmosphere for tories to breathe. Too 
many revolutionary heroes lived there to make it 
healthy in this particular. 

After disposing of Shawnee, Captain Franklin 
crossed the river at Nanticoke, and removed all per- 
sons between there and Wilkes-Barre who had squat- 
ted down upon Yankee possessions. Driving them 
before him, they took shelter in the garrison occu- 
pied by Patterson and his men at Wilkes-Barre. 
He invested the block-house and demanded a sur- 
render. 

So war was inaugurated anew ; and it seemed that 
the Connecticut settlers were farther from the dawn 
of peace than ever. Christie's and Shrawder's com- 
panies, on retiring from the valley, had left a hundred 



BURNING OF TWENTY-THREE BUILDINGS. 125 

and thirty stand of arras, and large quantities of am- 
munition. The block-house had four cannon ; the 
ancient four-pounder of the days of Stewart, and 
three left by Sullivan in his expedition through the 
valley. With these means of defense in the hands 
of four hundred men, what could Franklin do with 
the handful of old men and boys under his com- 
mand .^ The attempt at the investment of the fort 
was desperation. 

Patterson's men made a sortie from the garrison, 
drove off the besiegers, and applied the brand to 
twenty-three buildings in Wilkes- Barre, which were 
consumed. These were of course the dwellings of 
Connecticut people. And Patterson no doubt rel- 
ished exceedingly the assault upon his fortifications, 
as a pretext to burn out his helpless and impover- 
ished enemy. Captain Franklin retired with his 
people to Mill Creek ; took possession of the only 
flouring mill in the settlement, kept it running day 
and night, till his friends were bountifully supplied 
with meal. Their wants were few, and a few j)ounds 
of flour was a blessed affair in their limited view of 
the necessaries of life. 

But the stakes I have set to define the limits 
of a local inquiry, will not permit me to proceed 
further with this Yankee and Pennamite war. I 
have culled from the controversy such incidents of it 
as had an immediate bearing upon our town. To do 
this intelligibly, I was forced into a statement of 



126 HISTORICAL SKETCHES OP PLYMOUTH. 

the leading measures wliicli necessarily involved our 
people. 

It will be sufficient to say that the beating of 
Fish and Gore with iron ramrods, and the slaughter 
of Garret and Pierce upon Kosshill, swung back the 
gate of war upon its creaking hinges ; and scenes of 
murder, reprisals, and imprisonments were of very 
frequent occurrence for the ten following years. 

During the same year, 1784, thirty of the settlers 
were sent in irons to the Baston jail; forty-six others 
were bound with chains and cords and confined in 
barns and stables in Wilkes-Barre; forty- two of these 
were sent to the Northumberland jail, in both of which 
places they remained a long time in captivity. Thus 
we find sixty-six of the settlers at one time in prison. 

And during the confinement of fathers and sons, 
what shall be said of the wives and helpless children ? 
Ah ! this is a question that cannot be answered. The 
cloud of suffering has passed away, and so have the 
miserable objects of pity which it covered. 

Patterson, as civil magistrate, was succeeded by 
Armstrong; but the change did not much improve, 
if any, the iron rule of these petty tyrants. They 
looked at but one side of the question, and the color- 
ing of that was crimson. Extermination of the Sus- 
quehanna claimants was the grand absorbing theme. 
All minor questions, involving humanity, charity, and 
even justice, were merged in the one grand idea of 
extermination. 



TIMOTHY PICKERING. 127 

The people of our towTi came in for their full 
share. Of the sixty-two in irons in the jails of 
Easton and Sunbury, one-fourth at least were people 
of Plymouth. 

The rich alluvial lands of Wyoming were a prize. 
To hold them cost our people blood, carnage, star- 
vation, and many of them death. There is no record 
of the number of slaughtered men during tliis long- 
continued struggle. It ran up to hundreds. Almost 
every family contributed to the hecatomb. 

Under Timothy Pickering, a man of New Eng- 
land birth but Pennsylvania proclivities, matters 
assumed a somewhat more peaceable character. In 
his administration there were some grains of clem- 
ency ; though in the end he was obliged to leave the 
scene. 

Matters never became finally settled till the pas- 
sage of the compromising law of 1799. By this law 
the Connecticut man triumphed. But the flag of his 
victory waved also over the graves of his slaughtered 
relatives and friends. Its fruits were bitter; but 
their descendants were enriched by the toils, priva- 
tions, and exposures of their ancestors. 

Are they fully sensible of it ? Do they ever pass 
these exciting and bloody turmoils in review ? Do 
they look back to those fearful days, and nights, and 
weeks and months, and years of the severe past ? 
Some of them may ; but I fear that the greater 
majority do not realize who placed the rounds in the 
8 



128 HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

ladder of their elevation in wealth, nor stop to esti- 
mate the cost of them. 

I am by no means speaking in the way of cen- 
sure ; but if there be a Plymouth man who is to-day 
in comfortable circumstances in life, whose wants are 
all within the range of his means of gratification, — 
and I know there are many such, — let these reminis- 
cences of the past which I have grouped together and 
placed before him, be a reminder of the dark days 
which have preceded him. 

My mother, now in her ninety-sixth year, a Con- 
necticut woman, informs me that during these early 
times, though not in the valley till 1790, she passed 
through the wilderness between here and Connecticut 
no less than eight or ten times. The little party 
made up for the journey, would go on horseback, 
carrying their own provisions and provender for their 
horses, encamping frequently at night in the open air. 
Sometimes the journey was made in consequence of 
the turbulence of the times, sometimes for the pur- 
pose of friendly visits to New England friends. 

W-h-e-w ! ! Young ladies of Plymouth, what 
would you think now of mounting a horse on top of a 
canvas bag, with oats in one end, and j)ork and beans 
in the other, with a journey of two hundred and 
fifty miles before you, and half the way a howling 
wilderness, the sky for your canopy by night, and the 
music of wild beasts your lullaby ? 

Well, well, probably if the emergency arose, you 



LARGE ASSESSMENTS. 129 

would have equal courage to meet the occasion — and 
certainly I shall not pass judgment upon you, till you 
have made the trial — and may the time never come 
to require the test. 



CHAPTER VI. 

PENNAMITE WAR, — LEGISLATION, — DECREE AT TREN- 
TON, CONFIRMING ACT, COMPROMISE ACT, 

PEACE, — JOHN FRANKLIN, 

THE paper proclamations of the State of Con- 
necticut, like the Pope's bull to the comet, 
amounted to nothing. And yet we find that these 
early settlers of Wyoming were paying large sums of 
money for that period. The assessment of 1776 was 
£16,996 13s — a large amount of money for the times. 
The assessment made in 1780, and the first one 
after the slaughter at the Wyoming battle, was 
£2,358, It is not probable that much of this money 
found its way into the Connecticut treasury, but one 
fact is very clearly shown, that the settlers were by 
no means a bill of expense to that State, 

The troops raised here for the revolutionary strug- 
gle were credited to that State by the Continental 
establishment. The people here mustered into the 
Colonial army more than twenty to one over the 
home department compared with the population. 



130 HISTOKICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

Two representatives were annually elected from 
Wyoming to the Connecticut Assembly from the year 
1774 to 1782 inclusive. Commencing with Zebulon 
Butler and Timothy Smith, and ending with Obadiah 
Gore and Jonathan Fitch. 

During these nine years the claims of the people 
of Wyoming for losses, and the expenses for the erec- 
tion of fortifications for their defense, made through 
their representatives, generally ended in tabling the 
resolves ofiered. 

The government of Connecticut never seemed to 
have exhibited that disposition to aid and defend her 
Colonial establishment, in its dark hours and troiibles, 
that the necessities of the case demanded. 

Litchfield county, Connecticut, is situate on the 
extreme western line of the State; the town of West- 
moreland, in that county, borders upon the line of 
New York. This being the nearest to the Yankee 
settlement on the Susquehanna, the " seventeen 
towns," as they were called, were made a part of the 
town of Westmoreland, of the State of Connecticut. 
So they remained till the year 1776^ when the terri- 
tory was set off into a separate municipal existence, 
under the name of the county of Westmoreland. 

It was a strange state of things, under our pres- 
ent view, this representation in the Connecticut Leg- 
islature from the toivn of Westmoreland, in the 
county of Litchfield, State of Connecticut^ in the Com- 
monwealth of Pennsylvania ! 



DECREE OF TRENTON. 131 

Conf^ress finally, at the instance of the State of 
Pennsylvania, with the concurrence of the State of 
Connecticut, intervened the federal authority to ad- 
just the Susquehanna troubles. 

This body adopted a resolution, naming commis- 
sioners, who met at Trenton, New Jersey, in No- 
vember, 1782. The commissioners, after a protract- 
ed session of forty-one days, during which the agents 
and attorneys on both sides discussed at length the 
subject of the troubles, decided, on the thirtieth of 
December, 1782, that the State of Connecticut had 
no right to the land in controversy, and that the 
jurisdiction and pre-emption of all lands of right be- 
longed to Pennsylvania. 

To this decree, as it has always been called, the 
two contending States, as well as the settlers, as- 
sented. 

It was supposed now upon all sides that the 
troubles had found a peaceful as well as final end. 
Not so, however. Those who claimed title, under the 
Proprietary Grovernment, of the land paid for by the 
Connecticut settlers to the Susquehanna company, 
and in pursuance of which they had taken possession, 
asserted that such title had been decided in their fa- 
vor by the decree at Trenton. That the commission- 
ers not only decided the question of jurisdiction 
and title to the land between the two States, but also 
between individual claimants. 

The question of individual rights, it was sup- 



132 HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

posed, was neither submitted to nor decided by that 
tribunaL And the probability is that this was the 
view taken previous to the decree by both of these 
State authorities. 

Jurisdiction became a fixed fact; the title to land 
not occupied or claimed by purchase was also con- 
ceded to be determined ; not so with land owned 
and occupied by the settlers under the Susquehanna 
company. 

The people of the valley having reason to fear 
that the State authorities might claim that personal 
rights had been decided by the Commissioners at 
Trenton, presented their petition to the General As- 
sembly of Pennsylvania. This paper is written in 
strong language, and is supposed to have emanated 
from the pen of John Franklin. The composition 
could not be improved in these days. The following 
is an extract, which I copy from Chapman's history : 

"Wyoming, January 18, 1783. 

" The Honorable Congress established a court ; 
both sides were cited and appeared ; the cause was 
heard for more than forty days, and the ground 
stated in which each asserted their right of jurisdic- 
tion. On which the court finally adjudged in favor 
of Pennsylvania, by which the jurisdiction of the dis- 
puted territory on which your memorialists live is 
adjudged yours. By this adjudication we are under 
your jurisdiction and protection. We are subjects 



PETITION TO THE GENEKAL ASSEMBLY. 133 

and free citizens of the State of Pennsylvania, and 
have now to look up to your honors as our fathers, 
guardians and protectors — entitled to every tender 
regard and respect, as to justice, equit}", liberty and 
protection. 

"It is impossible that the magnanimity of a 
powerful and opulent State will ever condescend to 
distress an innocent and brave people, that have un- 
successfully struggled against the ills of fortune. 
We care not under what State we live, if we live 
protected and happy. We will serve you, we will 
promote your interests, we will fight your battles ; but 
in mercy, goodness, wisdom, justice, and every great 
and generous principle, leave us our possessions, the 
dearest pledge of our brothers, children and fathers, 
which their hands have cultivated, and their blood, 
spilt in the cause of their country, enriched." 

It will be observed that this memorial, couched in. 
strong and respectful language, does not yield the 
question of their title. And the old veterans were in 
the right. The law was with them. 

Franklin set out for Annapolis on the second of 
May of the following year, where Congress was in 
session, carrying with him a petition of like import 
for the consideration of that body. I quote from his 
venerable and almost obliterate diary, lying on the 
table before me : 

"May 2d, 1784, 1 set out for Annapolis with a pe- 



134 HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

tition to Congress, setting forth, our situation, and 
praying to be made quiet in our possessions ; went in 
a canoe. 

"Monday, 3d, went to Middletown. 

" Tuesday, 4th, left my canoe at Conawago Falls, 
and travelled by land twelve miles below Little 
York. 

"Wednesday, 5th, went within six miles of Bal- 
timore. 

" Thursday, 6th, went on board a schooner at Bal- 
timore. 

" Friday morning, tlie 7th, arrived at Annapolis, 
and put up at Mr. Brenner's. I found Esquire Sher- 
man and General Wadsworth ; gave my petition to 
Esquire Sherman, which was laid before Congress, 
and referred to a committee that had been appointed 
upon a motion for suspending the loy * * * (oblit.). 

" The 10th, wrote a letter to His Excellency, the 
Governor of Connecticut, in which I gave an account 
of the proceedings of the State of Pennsylvania 
towards us, from the decree of Trenton to this time. 
Sent it by Mr. Gilmore. 

"Wednesday, 19th, left Annapolis and set off 
for Sunbury. I got no business completed in Con- 
gress. 

" On Tuesday, 25th, I arrived at Sunbury ; the 
Court of Quarter Sessions being held ; met Mr. Ma- 
son and Eansom, and a number of others ; they in- 
formed me that on the 12th the troops at Wyoming 



APPOINTMENT OF THREE COMMISSIONERS. 135 

and Patterson's party disarmed the Connecticut set- 
tlers." 

The Commissioners of Trenton had no power 
over personal rights. They had power over jurisdic- 
tion and title to land not appropriated. The ques- 
tion of pre-emption they decided. This was proper; 
and this ajjplied to lands not located or claimed. Pre- 
emption means the exclusive first right to buy. The 
Connecticut settler had bought his land, paid for it, 
and located upon it. It became a personal vested 
right, and so he regarded it ; and he was justified in 
holding on, and he did hold on, and he held on to 
some purpose. 

The response to the memorial by the General As- 
sembly of the State was the appointment of three 
Commissioners to visit Wyoming, " to examine the 
state of the country, to act as magistrates, and to 
recommend what measures the government should 
adopt in relation to the settlers." 

These Commissioners, entirely under the influence 
of the Pennsylvania claimants, after visiting the val- 
ley and making what they deemed a general inquiry 
and examination, reported to the State government: 
" That reasonable compensation, in land, should be 
made to the families of those who had fallen in arms 
against the common enemy, and to such other settlers 
as had a proper Connecticut title, and did actually 
reside on the land at the time of the decree at 
Trenton; provided they immediately relinquish all 



136 HISTOEICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

claim to the soil they now inhabit, and enter into 
contract to deliver up full and quiet possession of 
their present tenures to the rightful owners, under 
Pennsylvania, by the first of April next," 

And here was the cause of the terrible prelude to 
those successive acts of inhumanity the following 
year, and which instigated persecutions, and impris- 
onments, and bloodshed, and murder, in quick suc- 
cession, overspreading the entire valley, and which 
continued for years. 

First came the civil magistrate, Patterson, with 
his two armed companies under Christie and Shraw- 
der, with instructions "to march to Wyoming, and 
take every proper measure for maintaining the post 
there, and for protecting the settlement. I under- 
score the word protecting. The original order con- 
tained no such ear-mark. 

These gentlemen were on the ground within a 
month after the report of the Commissioners. Under 
the sanctity of the law, and for the protection of the 
settlement, those acts of brutality on the part of Pat- 
terson were inflicted which I have already mentioned, 
some of them being extracts from Franklin's diary. 

Strange protection was that in robbing the poor 
settlers of their fishing-nets ; tearing down their 
fences, burning their buildings, and driving five hun- 
dred helpless old men, women and children at the 
point of the bayonet through a howling wilderness, 
Bome of whom died by the wayside of starvation and 



INSOLENCE OF THE SOLDIERS. 137 

exposure ! Protection indeed; the protection the 
wolf extends to the lamb, the falcon to the sparrow. 

From the moment the civil magistrate, Patterson, 
and his two companies of armed soldiers arrived, the 
settler realized his position. He made an effort to 
accept the new situation, but this was in vain, unless 
he surrendered his home and his fields, and abandoned 
the valley. 

I have had it from the mouth of old Mr. Abraham 
Nesbitt, who lived many years and died on the spot 
where Mr. Love's house now stands, that the insolence 
of these soldiers was intolerable; and that they did 
no act of indecency or impropriety shocking to civil- 
ization, that even elicited a reprimand from Patter- 
son when informed of it. 

They were instructed to treat a Yankee with any 
kind of abuse; and such conduct was the cause of 
praise and approbation upon the part of their com- 
mander. 

The Legislature of the State began to understand 
that a whole community of people, now numbering — 
men, women and children — two or three thousand, 
ought not to be annihilated, and particularly when 
the public sentiment was running strongly in their 
favor throughout the commonwealth; that the decree 
at Trenton miglit not bear the construction, that 
private rights were involved in, and had been decided 
by, the Commissioners under the resolve of Congress. 

Some of the wiser heads, and with more human- 



138 HISTOKICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

ity in tliought and action, did not relish the remark 
which Patterson had made in a communication to the 
Executive Council on the twenty-ninth of April, two 
or three weeks after the disastrous ice flood, and some 
two weeks before the inhuman creature expelled so 
large a number from the valley, burning their homes 
and destroying their crops, "that it must not be con- 
strued into a want of zeal or love for the Common- 
wealth, if he should, through dire necessity, be obliged 
to do some things not strictly consonant with the let- 
ter of the law." 

When the news of the terrible suffering of the 
poor settlers came, in hot speed, from thousands of 
disinterested people residing along both sides of the 
Delaware, for fifty miles in extent, the legislator be- 
gan to know what he meant by " some tJmigs " done 
under a sense of " dire necessity, and not consonant 
with the letter of the law." 

Humanity screeched out from one end of the 
broad Commonwealth to the other, and the echo was 
taken up, and it went from hill top to hill top 
throughout the whole land. A great wrong had been 
perpetrated, and justice demanded redress. 

As time moved on public sentiment underwent 
change — so that the Assembly of the State, which 
convened in 1787, was prepared for an effort to accom- 
modate affairs in Wyoming, that peace might reign 
and the flowing of blood cease. 

During this year the people of the seventeen town- 



PASSAGE OF THE CONFIKMING LAW. 139 

ships concluded to propose to the Legislature a plan 
for the adjustment of difficulties. 

The townships known and designated as the " sev- 
enteen," were Salem, Ne\vport, Hanover, Wilkes- 
Barre, Pittston, Kingston, Northmoreland, Braintrim, 
Plymouth, Bedford, Exeter, Huntington, Providence, 
Putnam, Springfield, Claverack and Ulster. The 
four latter being within the present territory of 
Bradford and Susquehanna counties. 

The substance of this proposition, embraced in a 
memorial to the Legislature, and read in that body 
in March, 1787, was, that if the Commonwealth 
would grant them the land within the " seventeen " 
townships, and on which settlements had been com- 
menced previous to the decree of Trenton, in 1782, 
they would, on their part, relinquish all claim to any 
other lands within the Susquehanna purchase. 
Coupled with this proposition was another condition, 
that the Pennsylvania claimants who held conflicting 
warrants and surveys witliin the townships, should 
relinquish their title to them, and the money paid be 
refunded to them by the State. I may add that 
these warrants and surveys were generally in the 
hands of land jobbers and speculators, and had not 
been reduced to residence and occupation. 

The Legislature, on the twenty-eighth of March, 
1787, accepted this proposition, and jmssed an enact- 
ment generally known as the confirming law. 

It was hailed pretty generally as a pacific measure, 



140 HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

and really seemed to be a pretty fair adjustment. 
But the trouble still in the way, was that the set- 
tlers outside of the " 17 " towns, and claiming by the 
same title as those within, were not recognized un- 
der the liberal provisions of the confirming act. 

It was as a kind of moderator under this law, for 
the purpose of quieting matters, with the commissions 
of the court offices in his pocket, that brought Timo- 
thy Pickering into the valley. 

The great majority of the Connecticut people re- 
sided within the " 17 " townships — but still a consid- 
erable number did not, and that made a determined 
opposition to the confirming law. They contended 
that they were as worthy of protection as their breth- 
ren, whose farms happened to be within these town- 
ships. Such undoubtedly was the fact, and the error 
was that the enactment did not include them. It 
was possibly an oversight, and in many instances these 
people were under the impression that they were 
within the certified township lines, and were only un- 
deceived by an actual survey upon the ground. 

The people of Plymouth had no cause to com- 
plain of the law, and did not, save that their sympa- 
thies were with their Connecticut friends, who may 
be called outsiders. There may have been excep- 
tions. 

For the first time now the Connecticut people pre- 
sented a divided front, and the feelings of acrimony 
and ill-will extended very generally among them. 



TIMOTHY PICKEKING AND JOHN FKANKLIN, 141 

The Pennsylvania claimants taking advantage of this 
family quarrel, and Timothy Pickering having been 
taken a prisoner from his home by a party of turbu- 
lent settlers, to be held as a hostage for the exchange 
of John Franklin, who was at the time a prisoner in 
Philadelphia upon a charge of treason for opposing 
the confirming law, the Legislature suspended the 
law in the way of a menace. But this did not have 
the desired efi'ect, and the consequence was the repeal 
of the law soon afterwards. 

Chaos was once more the order of the day, and 
the question again rested upon the award of the 
Trenton Commissioners. But the same discord did 
not prev^ail. Luzerne county w^as now established; 
the majority of the people within it were Connecticut 
settlers; the new constitution of the State was more 
liberal than the Proprietary establishment, under the 
Penns : they now elected their own members to the 
Legislature, as well as the county and township offi- 
cers. They had the matter therefore pretty much in 
their own hands. 

And although nearly ten years passed before a def- 
inite compromise, bloodshed, imprisonments, and re- 
prisals had ceased. The conflict assumed more of a 
political complexion, and the elections were not un- 
frequently conducted in a most boisterous and turbu- 
lent manner. 

But the settlers would elect their assemblymen, 
and they therefore had a friend at court. 



142 HISTOEICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

Finally, in 1799, and nearly thirty years after the 
commencement of the troubles growing out of this 
Pennamite and Yankee difficulty, the whole question 
was arranged in the passage by the Legislature of 
the " Compromise Law." 

Under the terms of this enactment, commission- 
ers were appointed to cause a survey to be made of all 
the lands claimed by the Connecticut settlers within 
the seventeen townships previous to the decree of 
Trenton, in which titles had been granted to them, 
according to the rules and regulations among them. 
They were to classify and value these lands, and give 
certificates to the owners, upon the presentation of 
which, to the secretary of the land-office, on the pay- 
ment of a small sum as purchase-money, a patent 
was granted by the State. The purchase-money to 
be paid was for the first class, $2.00 an acre; for the 
second, $1.20; for the third, 50 cents; and eight 
and one fourth cents for the fourth class. 

The lands of the Pennsylvania claimants were 
also to be ascertained and valued, and where they 
came in conflict with the claim of the Connecticut 
man, they were required to relinquish their title to 
the State and receive from the Treasury, in full com- 
pensation for land of the first class, $5.00 an acre, 
$3.00 for the second, $1.50 for the third, and twenty- 
five cents for the fourth. 

As soon as forty thousand acres should thus be 
released to the State by the Pennsylvania claimants, 



END OF THE CONTROVERSY. 143 

and the Connecticut claimants, who owned an equal 
quantity, should bind themselves to submit to the 
law, to the satisfaction of the commissioners, then 
the act was to take effect. 

This, then, provided for the settlers within the 
" 17 " townships : and the minority outside, as is the 
usual case with minorities, had to tight their battle 
in the best way they could; but as none of these 
were residents of Plymouth, it is not my purpose to 
examine the subject further. 

And so ended the Pennamite and Yankee contro- 
versy. Both sides accepted the tenns of the act of 
1799, and it still quietly reposes upon the statute 
book, not obsolete from age precisely, but in a meas- 
ure a dead letter, for all the troubles it was designed 
to heal have been long since disposed of, and the 
actors in the busy scenes connected with them have 
passed from the stage. 

As many as forty years ago, when I came to the 
Luzerne bar, it was rare that a case came into the 
court that required to be decided under the provis- 
ions of the law of 1799. 

The Yankee surveys, and particularly those on 

the east side of the river, were strangely located. 

They commenced upon the bank of the stream, and 

extended to the top of the mountain. They were 

some forty rods wide, and in some cases five miles 

long. The mountain end frequently at an elevation 

of fifteen hundred feet above the other on the plain. 
9 



144 HISTOKICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

They thus had all varieties of soil, and almost of 
climate. 

The Yankee idea, as they expressed it, was a 
" streak of fat and a streak of lean " in each lot. 

Nathan Beach, of Salem, and whom I knew well, 
and for whom I procured a pension for Revolutionary 
services as long ago as 1832, told me that the settlers' 
price for one of these lots was a horse, saddle and 
bridle. The young Yankee, therefore, who could be- 
come owner of these, could, on his arrival here from 
Connecticut, exchange them for a lot. Some of these 
same lots are worth to-day one hundred thousand 
dollars. 

The Plymouth surveys were on a smaller scale. 
The house and meadow lots, as they are termed in the 
certificates, vary from ten to twenty acres. This land 
being regarded remarkably valuable, was subdivided 
into small shoes. The most of Kingston, in the days 
of the Wyoming battle, was a pine plain. 

I can remember myself when that part of it above 
the village of Troy, or Wyoming, was mostly covered 
with pitch pines. — Shawnee flat was a prairie when 
the white man took possession of it. 

I cannot conclude the sad story of the Wyoming 
troubles, growing out of the conflict between the 
Pennsylvania and Connecticut jurisdiction, without a 
biographical sketch of one of the great and acknowl- 
edged leaders of the Connecticut settlers. The man 
of probably the largest intellect and most persevering 
energy. 



JOHN FRANKLIN. 145 

John Franklin was this personage. And it is a 
matter of much satisfaction to me that I am able to 
classify this distinguished character among the first 
settlers of Plymouth. It is true that he remained 
there less than a year before removing to Huntington 
townshij), where he made his permanent abode. 

Mr. Jameson Harvey, now an aged man, informs 
me that Franklin and his father were very intimate 
friends ; that Franklin never passed his father's 
house, in travelling to and from Wilkes-Barre, then 
the principal rendezvous of the Connecticut people, 
without stopping, and generally arranged his journey 
so as to stay over night; that he has very often heard 
him, among other narratives of his adventures, speak 
of his immigration, and where he first settled. 

Mr. Harvey represents him as a tall, muscular, 
well-built man, with wonderful developments of phys- 
ical power. He leaned slightly forward in his walk, 
but moved with a firm step. 

Mr. Charles Miner makes him six feet in height; 
Mr. Harvey, six feet four inches. From the accounts 
of both, he seems to have been a man of Herculean 
frame, and possessing strong muscles and sinews. This 
we may readily understand when we learn that it re- 
quired the united strength of four men to hold and 
bind him with cords when ari-ested for treason (?) 
and sent off to the Philadelphia prison. All of the 
early settlers, from whom I have gathered information, 
in years gone by, represent him as a "tall, square- 



146 HISTOKICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

shouldered man/' and endowed with great physical 
power. 

He was a native of Canaan, Litchfield county, 
Connecticut. He came with his wife and children to 
Plymouth in 1774. He had brothers who either im- 
migrated with him, or about the same time, to the 
valley. One of them, as already stated, fell at the 
battle of Nanticoke the year after. Some of the 
family settled in Hanover at a very early day. I am 
unable to ascertain if Roswell, Jr. and Arnold Frank- 
lin were brothers to John. The probability is that 
they were not. 

Eoswell and Arnold were taken prisoners by the 
Indians, in Hanover, in September, 1781. The 
spring following the wife and four children of Eos- 
well were also carried off by them into captivity. The 
wife of Roswell was murdered by the Indians in an 
attempt to rescue the prisoners. 

In the spring of 1775 John Frankhn entered, sol- 
itary and alone, the wilderness ; and upon the banks 
of Huntington creek, in the territory now embraced 
within the township of that name, made his " pitch." 
Having circumscribed the limits of his claim by 
notching and blazing the bark of trees, he knocked up 
some turf with the pole of his axe, and these were 
the formalities appropriating the forest : this was his 
warrant of entry. 

No white man had preceded him in this vicinity. 
He was the first ; and the unmolested choice of the vir- 



JOHN FRANKLIN. 147 

gin soil, that liad never been turned up by the plough- 
share, or impressed by the white man's foot, was 
spread out before him, and here he made his selection 
and dedicated his future home. His faithful dog, the 
only witness to this act of possession, and his rijfle, 
leaning against a tree hard-by, the only battery of 
his defense. 

The man who had the courage and personal brav- 
ery to do all this, possessed the qualifications to fill 
the places of trust that were in years afterwards con- 
ferred upon him. 

During the summer of that year he chopped over 
and cleared off some three or four acres, sowed it 
with grain, erected his log hut, and was now ready for 
the introduction of his wife and little children to 
their home in the woods. 

His nearest neighbor was at the Susquehanna 
river, a distance of some seven or eight miles. " In 
that year he came up to take a round in Plunket's 
battle," and returned to his wild home again when it 
was over; a little variety in his life, the incidents of 
that affair, compared with the peace and quiet which 
reigned amid the forest about his new home. 

And thus we find the resolute man engaged, whose 
capacious intellect, in succeeding years, dispelled the 
sophistry concealed in the Trenton decree, and whose 
untiring energy and iron will gave cast and coloring 
to the almost helpless Yankee cause. 

The same, too, whose persuasive language and 



148 HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

solid arguments before the legislative body, in after 
years, gave legal form to the conclusions of his own 
well-balanced and discriminating mind. The man of 
the people ; the man for the people. The tall and 
stately form, whether at the head of his company, 
driving the Tories before him out of Plymouth ; 
taking his oath of revenge against his persecutors 
upon the rifle, all stained with the heart's blood of his 
friend; bound in chains as a traitor, for serving his 
people but too well ; at the head of his company, 
under Sullivan, exterminating the enemy who had 
covered the Wyoming battle-field with his slaughtered 
relatives and friends, or pleading the case of his af- 
flicted associates, ever loomed up, and was the object 
of love, affection, and the profoundest veneration by 
the Connecticut settlers of Wyoming. 

In the following spring of 1776, he installed his 
wife and children in the primitive home he had pre- 
pared for them. Even at this time his was the only 
family in the township. He resided there up to the 
time of his arrest and imprisonment at Philadelphia. 
Sometime after his release he moved to Bradford 
county, but still within the " 17 " towns, where he 
spent the remainder of his life, and died in 1831, at 
the advanced age of eighty-two years. Some of his 
children remained in Huntington, and members of 
the family still reside there. 

His wife died within two or three years after his 
settlement in Huntington. I make the following ex- 



JOHN FRANKLIN. 149 

tract from Mr. Miner's history. He says : " Not 
long after his removal to Wyoming, his wife died, 
leaving three small children, one an infant of a week 
old. Having no person to take care of them, he deter- 
mined to place them in charge of his kind friends in 
Canaan. Harnessing a horse to a little cart, he put 
in the three children, tied a cow by the horns to fol- 
low, and drove on, having a cup in which, as occasion 
required, he milked and fed the babe. Thus he trav- 
elled the rough way, more than two hundred miles, in 
safety, exhibiting all the patience and tenderness that 
might be expected from a mother." 

There cannot be much doubt but that this man, 
and more particularly after the first ten years of his 
residence here, was the leading, controlling spirit of 
the Yankee people. 

No one questioned his bravery; no one doubted 
his integrity and honesty; while they all relied on his 
sound and well-balanced judgment. It is true that he 
differed with some of them as to the propriety of ac- 
cepting the confirming law of 1787, but while there 
was this difference, the view that John Franklin took 
of the question was the one which ultimately pre- 
vailed. To it the opinions of statesmen, of jurists, 
and of laymen, were forced to give place. 

Upon that question there was ground for an hon- 
est diff'erence of opinion. At a meeting, in which an 
angry debate occurred, held -in Wilkes-Barre, on 
the propriety of acquiescing in this law, Judge Hoi- 



150 HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

• 

lenback struck a blow at his head with a loaded 
whijD, wliich he had at the time in his hand. Great 
confusion ensued, and came near ending in an open 
fight. But this did by no means put down the old 
hero; it on\j added new converts to his side. The 
judge, who was a passionate man, and easily excited, 
afterwards made ample apologies. 

Franklin was on his voyage, in his canoe, to meet 
Congress at Annapolis, when Patterson expelled the 
Connecticut people from the valley in 1784. I have 
stated that after the return of these people they en- 
camped in Kingston, upon Abraham's creek. Here 
they immediately erected four large log tenements, 
for the double purpose of occupation and defense. 

Armstrong, who had succeeded Patterson, — and in 
this exchange matters were not very much improved, 
— made an attack upon these houses with an armed 
force. They were gallantly defended, and the besieg- 
ing party compelled to retreat. An intimate friend, 
however, of Franklin, William Jackson, was seriously 
wounded. Seeing his comrade in what he supposed 
a dying condition, Franklin, then captain, as he had 
been promoted to the command of the fortification, 
seized the rifle from the hands of Jackson, covered 
with the blood from his wounds, and summoning liis 
companions around him in the log hut, with his eyes 
elevated to heaven, and his right hand upon his heart, 
solemnly took upon himself an oath — 

" That he wr)iild never lay down his arms until 



franklin's oath. 151 

death should arrest his hand, or Patterson and 
Armstrong he expelled from Wyoming ; the people 
restored to their rights of possession ; and a legal 
trial guaranteed to every citizen hy the Constitution, 
hy justice, and hy law." 

This scene, when we reflect upon the tall figure 
of the excited and angry man; the nature of his 
oath; the terrible cause of provocation; the group of 
ragged, famished men about him; the silence, save 
only the voice of imprecation; the visages of sorrow, 
hope, fear and revenge variously reflected from the 
audience ; makes our blood tingle and thi-ill through 
our veins. 

We being thus impressed, after a long lapse of 
time, at the rehearsal only, what must have been the 
impulses and feelings of those who were actors in the 
drama ? 

In this transaction we read the heart of Franklin, 
and learn the brave and determined character of the 
man. His position was established now among his 
associates ; he had fully defined his status. The ef- 
fect of the oath upon the bloody rifle had brought 
out a full development; he saw in himself, and so did 
his men, his future position— the leader of the cause. 
His nine previous years of training had culminated. 
He stood before them the head of the line. 

Not long after this, "at a parade in Shawnee," 
Captain Franklin was unanimously elected colonel 
of the regiment. By common consent he was now 



152 HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH, 

their chosen and revered chief, and upon him were 
centred all the afiection and confidence that the 
soldiers of the Kevolution had ever reposed in Wash- 
ington. 

Henceforward he was their agent, their chief man- 
ager, their representative, their advocate, and their 
bosom companion. And probably no man ever be- 
came so familiar with his associates, and yet at the 
same time retained their respect. He could let him- 
self down, but his dignity of character was sustained 
in the exalted qualities of his heart. 

Mr. Miner thinks "that he could make no pre- 
tensions to eloquence; yet he rarely failed to com- 
mand attention, even from the learned and accom- 
plished; earnest, often vehement, and his whole soul 
seemed to be in the matter he discussed." 

I don't want to take issue with Charles Miner. I 
have a great regard for his opinions. I honor and 
revere his memory. But I think in the above para- 
graph he has pretty well defined oratory. 

What is eloquence ? The utterance of strong 
emotion; the power of persuasion; elevated, forcible 
thought; well chosen language, and an impassioned 
manner. Most of these qualities Colonel Franklin 
possessed, and to a large degree. 

The language of his memorial to the legislature, 
which we have already recorded, and his oath upon 
the bloody rifle, are specimens of the highest order of 
eloquence. It cannot, of course, be said that he can 



JOHN FRANKLIN. 153 

be measured by tlie standard of men like Burke or 
Clay, whose choice language, lofty tones, refined sen- 
tences, an impassioned delivery, furnish models of 
their kind for the world; but it can be said of Frank- 
lin, as of Paul before Felix, that when he spoke there 
was silence, and men trembled. 

The few specimens left us of his legislative efforts 
show a thorough comprehension of his subject, and 
a bold, fearless course of argument. No tropes, no 
figures, but great soUdity of matter and concentration 
of thought. They may be classed as solid and com- 
mon-sense productions. 

He possessed but the rude elements of education, 
and lacked a want of the knowledge of the proper gram- 
matical construction of sentences. What the schools 
had not supplied, God Almighty had. 

The general features of the compromising law 
of 1799, and which were the panacea of Wyoming 
troubles, were mostly the result of his labors. He 
was a member of the general assembly of that year, 
and he made his mark. For these services he was 
continued a representative for the four succeeding 
ones, ending in 1803. 

The members for the county for the three preced- 
ing years, were Ebenezer Bowman and Roswell Wells, 
both men of very respectable standing at the Luzerne 
bar; Mr. Wells, particularly, had a very good reputa- 
tion as an orator. They both failed, however, in ef- 
fecting a compromise of the Wyoming struggle. 



154 HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

This work was reserved for Colonel Franklin, and he 
accomplished the task. 

It was the crowning act of his life. He lived not 
onl)^ to see peace restored, as the result of his own 
labor, hut he had the proud and triumphant satisfac- 
tion of seeing it established upon his own basis; and 
upon a theory, too, for which he had at one time con- 
tended, against the opinions of eminent lawyers and 
many of the Connecticut settlers, among whom were 
several who had been leaders at an earlier day. The 
effect of the decree at Trenton as decisive of title to 
lands thus became abrogated, and the principles of 
that same confirming law, for opposition to which he 
had undergone an imprisonment of six months in the 
Philadelphia jail, were also abandoned. 

Colonel Franklin triumphed, and the flag of the 
Connecticut settlers, which had long trailed in the 
dust, went to the head of the staff. 

The acts of his treason found ample and full just- 
ification with the legislative power of the State — and 
so his crimes became virtues. 

At this period the Legislative body met at Lan- 
caster, There were no public stage coaches; the con- 
dition of the roads forbade their use, the members 
were accustomed to go and return on horseback; 
they could not travel either, for the same reason, in 
private carriages, and if they could, they were gener- 
ally too poor to own them. 

It was the custom of Franklin to walk with the 



JOHN FRANKLIN. 155 

bridle rein over his arm, his horse following after, 
with a huge portmanteau on his back, filled with his 
clothes, books, and papers. The people along the 
road became accustomed to the tall, athletic figure 
known as the man who travelled " a foot on horse- 
back;" and as they could easily recognize him at a 
distance, would exclaim, "there comes Franklin, the 
great Yankee hero ! " 

After the conclusion of his services in the assem- 
bly, he retired from public life. But his home was 
always the resort of the old settlers; many of them 
would make him annual visits. He had a wonderful 
memory, and treasured up all the incidents, adven- 
tures, and anecdotes of the eventful times in the val- 
ley, in most of which he had participated, and even 
up. to the close of his checkered life, delighted to 
dwell upon them in his conversations. 

And Avhen he gave his last breath, there died the 
head and front of the Yankee column. But he had 
lead it to victory, and his heart had been cheered with 
the shouts of triumph. 



\ 



CHAPTEE VII. 

REVOLUTIONARY WAR. PATRIOTISM. CAPTAIN DUR- 

KEE'S and CAPTAIN RANSOM's COMPANIES. GAR- 
RISON HILL. OUR MEN UNDER FIRE. WASHING- 
TON'S OPINION OF THEM. BATTLE OF WYOMING. 

MR. WASHBURN'S STATEMENT. 

IT has been stated that the enrolment of the set- 
tlers of Wyoming, in the handwriting of Colonel 
Zebulon Butler, in 1773, contained but two hundred 
and sixteen names. They are called settlers : it was 
probably the number of men who were capable of 
bearing arms. 

The whole effective force of the valley was prob- 
ably assembled on the reception of the news of Plun- 
ket's advance, in December, 1775. This was an excit- 
ing occasion, which affected every one of the Connec- 
ticut settlers, and it is to be presumed they were all 
out. All the local authorities fix the number in that 
battle at about three hundred. 

On the Declaration of Independence, the fourth 
of July following, the whole fighting force of the val- 
ley did not exceed four hundred men. Mr. Miner 
estimates the entire population at that time at twen- 
ty-five hundred. He is probably not far out of the 
way. (ISfi) 



PATKIOTISM. 157 

Congress liad declared war ; the tocsin of rebellion 
had been sounded, and Wyoming was expected to do 
her duty. She responded nobly. On the twenty- 
fourth of August, 1776, " at a town meeting legally 
warned and held in Westmoreland, Wilkes-Barre 
district, Colonel Butler was chosen moderator for y^ 
work of y^ day." 

'•Voted, as the opinion of this meeting, that it 
now becomes necessary for the inhabitants of this 
town to erect suitable forts, as a defense against our 
common enemy." 

Sites were accordingly fixed on in Pittston, Hano- 
ver, Plymouth, and Wilkes-Barre. Forty Fort, in 
Kingston, was to be repaired and enlarged. 

The meeting closed after adopting the following 
vote: " That we do recommend it to the people to 
proceed, forthwith, in building said forts, without 
either fee or reward from y® town." 

From the fourth of July to the fourth of August, 
thirty days, and the people of Westmoreland were in 
council, and ready to begin the campaign at their own 
expense. 

The people of old Plymouth at once commenced 

operations, and erected their fort upon " Gi-arrison 

Plill." And they piled up with their strong hands, 

and with willing hearts, the walls of their fortress, 

'■loitliout any fee or reward from if town!' 

Their heart was in the sacred cause of liberty. 
Our people were but canying out those imperishable 



158 HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

principles which had driven their ancestors from Lon- 
don to Leyden;- from Leyden to Plymouth Eock; to 
Plymouth in Connecticut, and thence to Plymouth 
on the shores of the Susquehanna. The first genera- 
tions endured persecution, imprisonment, and death 
for religious liberty: their children in the vast wilds 
of Pennsylvania, with the same blood coursing in their 
veins, the same haughty and independent carriage, 
were now building up the breast-works of civil liberty. 
And they went at it in earnest : the metal was in them. 
The old Puritan blood boiled; and to a man they ral- 
lied around the tri-colored flag. 

Captain Samuel Kansom hauled the first log of 
the garrison, and old Benjamin Harvey planted the 
first flag upon the turret ! An effigy of George III. 
was hung up by the neck, and Yankee Doodle, upon 
the drum and fife, concluded the ceremonies of instal- 
lation. 

Men of Plymouth, is there to-day one of twenty 
amongst you that can point out the spot where this 
exciting scene occurred.? No Fourth of July sun 
should hereafter be permitted to send his morning 
rays over the town without gilding the tri-colors, 
flung to the breeze, from a flag-staff on Garrison Hill. 
See to this ! 

Congress being informed of the exposed condition 
of the valley to predatory Indian tribes, and its loca- 
tion being comj)aratively nearer to the Canadian 
frontier, passed a resolution on the twenty-third of 



APPOINTMENT OF OFFICERS. 159 

August, and the day only preceding the town meet- 
ing in Westmoreland, directing — 

" Two companies on the Continental establishment 
to be raised in the town of Westmoreland, and sta- 
tioned in proper p)lcbces for the defense of the inhab- 
itants of said toion and parts adjacent, till further 
order of Congress ; the commanding officers of the 
said two companies to be immediately appointed by 
Congress." 

This resolve, however, was coupled with a strange 
and inexplicable condition, and which was within 
four months afterwards made available, certainly 
against every principle of justice. The only plea that 
can be put in by way of extenuation is that of neces- 
sity. This, it is said, knows no law. 

This condition was, " that the said troops be en- 
listed to serve during the war, unless sooner dis- 
charged by Congress;" and further, "that they be 
liable to serve in any pai't of the United States." 

On the twenty-sixth of August Congress appoint- 
ed Robert Durkee, of Wilkes-Barre, and Samuel 
Ransom, of Plymouth, captains for the companies to 
be raised, and also their respective subalterns. 

It was mutually agreed between the two commis- 
sioned officers, that Captain Durkee should take the 
east side of the river for the enlistment of his comj)a- 
ny, and Captain Ransom the west. 

They immediately commenced mustering men, and 

notwithstanding the severe terms prescribed by Con- 
10 



ICO HISTOEICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

gress, within sixty days they each had their comple- 
ment of eighty-four men. This rapid enlistment of 
so large a proportion of the people was, undoubtedly, 
effected under the impression that the companies 
^'were to he stationed in proper places for the defense 
of the inhabitants." Upon no other principle can it 
be possibly accounted for, as we shall see that this 
included nearly half of the population of the valley 
capable of bearing arms. And had there been the 
least prospect or intimation that they were to be 
transferred to the general service, leaving their friends 
and Tamilies to be slaughtered, as did afterwards occur, 
they would never have put themselves willingly into 
such a position. Nor did the cause justify such a sac- 
rifice. 

They relied upon the clause of the resolution that 
their location was to be within the valley and for 
" the defense of the inhabitants." In this view, how- 
ever, they were sorely, and as it turned out, fatally 
disappointed. 

On the twelfth of December following, Congress 
resolved: "That the two companies raised in the 
town of Westmoreland, be ordered to join Washing- 
ton ivith all possible exjjedition." 

Before two months elapsed they were under his 
immediate command. And thus the people of the 
valley were in that helpless and exposed condition 
which soon after invited the northern invasion of 
British, Indians, and Tories, which deluged the val- 



ENLISTMENT OF COMPANIES, 161 

ley with blood, leaving its red marks upon almost 
every hearth-stone in Westmoreland. 

Previous to the raising of the companies of Cap- 
tains Durkee and Kansom, Wisner and Strong, two 
recruiting officers had enlisted for the service thirty 
men. Adding these to the two companies of Dur- 
kee and Ransom, and we find that of the four hun- 
dred fighting men of the valley, one hundred and 
ninety-eight are enrolled in the Colonial service. And 
this all transpires within six months after the Decla- 
ration of Independence. Had the authorities of the 
new government, throughout the limits of the States, 
mustered a corresponding complement of men, Wash- 
ington would have had an army of a hundred and 
fifty thousand, in the place of forty thousand. 

No spot of ground of the same extent, and con- 
taining the same number of people, made anything 
like such a contribution. One half of the whole pop- 
ulation of the valley, capable of bearing arms, are in 
the short period of six months transferred from their 
exposed homes upon a savage frontier to the national 
camp. It remains for history to justify the action of 
Congress in thus exposing the people of this valley 
to the scene of horror which resulted from this pro- 
ceeding. Humanity and justice are now groping in 
the dark for a solution of the question. A satisfac- 
tory reason will never be attained, and the pursuit 
may as well be abandoned. The resolution of Con- 
gress, holding out the pretext that these two compa- 



162 HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

nies were "^o hejjlcicedfor the defense of the inhabi- 
tants" was a trap; the unsuspecting settlers took the 
bait, and murder, rapine, and the extermination of 
ahuost a whole community of people^ were the conse- 
quence. But the error, upon the part of the citizens 
in volunteering, had been committed, and there was 
no remedy to cure it. The national arm had been 
strengthened ; but the stout hand that could firmly 
resist the combined predatory bands of savage, Brit- 
ish and Tory invaders, was paralyzed. The defense- 
less homes were thus made the inviting lure of a 
relentless and terrible foe. 

And in this hour of trial, in these days of gloom, 
and amid these clouds of despondency, wliat was the 
position of Connecticut ? Ah ! she was but a foster 
mother at best. She stood aloof in action and saw 
her child divided by the sword. 

The two companies of troops raised in her town 
of Westmoreland, two hundred miles from her border, 
and far from the hearing of the wails of women and 
children, in a strictly business way, were entered to 
her credit, as a jaart of the quota of the military force 
which Congress exacted of her. She should have 
sent to the frontier two hundred armed men for the 
support and protection of the people of her town 
of Westmoreland. In this there would have been 
justice and reason. Connecticut always acted in a 
penurious and selfish manner with her people of 
this valley. She refused aid and assistance to- 



APPEALS FOR ASSISTANCE. 163 

wards compensating the poor settlers in their losses 
in the Plunket invasion. John Jenkens and 
Solomon Strong, who were the representatives of 
Westmoreland the year succeeding the Nanticoke 
battle, jH'epared a bill and urged it upon the consid- 
eration of the Assembly, but it was laid upon the 
table, and there suffered to sleep. A like application 
was made after the ice-flood, which destroyed an im- 
mense amount of property, but it shared the same 
fate as the Plunket bill. And within my own recol- 
lection, when we were all making a strong effort to 
erect a monument upon the Wyoming battle-field, in 
commemoration of the brave men whose bones still 
repose there, a committee, with Charles Miner at the 
head, visited the legislature of that State, humbly 
asking the bestowal of a mite for that noble purpose ; 
but they failed to get a farthing. Ever ready to 
avail herself of the people of Westmoreland, to fill 
up the military requisition, but always turning a 
deaf ear to the petition for alms, education, defenses, 
and memorial columns, 

A hundred years have now elapsed since she 
claimed jurisdiction over the valley, and we can afford 
to talk out, and talk plainly. 

How stands the Revolutionary record of our old 
town of Plymouth ? What response had her sons to 
make to Captain Samuel Ransom, when his drum 
beat for recruits ? The roll of the Second Independ- 
ent Company was immediately filled up, and nearly 



164 HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

one-half of the eighty-four men were residents of the 
town. 

It would be a subject of gratification at this re- 
mote day to know where Captain Ransom had his 
headquarters. It was undoubtedly at Forty Fort or 
Garrison Hill. As he was a resident of the town, 
then occupying the same site where now stands the 
old red house, fast falling to ruins, and so long the 
residence of his son, the late Colonel George P. Ran- 
som in after years, that Garrison Hill was the ren- 
dezvous of his recruits. But this is conjecture mere- 
ly, as much more of our early history might be, if 
permitted to rest much longer without the efforts to 
collect and save the fragments. 

It is pretty difficult to ascertain a majority of the 
names of the men which made up Captain Ransom's 
roll, and who were Plymouth people. 

The following I think were : Caleb Atherton, 
Mason F. Alden, Isaac Benjamin, Oliver Bennett, 
Benjamin Clark, Nathan Church, Pierce Cooper, 
Daniel Franklin, Charles Gaylord, Amb:ose Gaylord, 
Timothy Hopkins, Benjamin Harvey, Asahil Nash, 
Ebenezer Roberts, George P. Ransom, Samuel Saw- 
yer, Asa Sawyer, John Swi.t, Thomas Williams and 
Aziba Williams. To these twenty we may add the 
names of Jeremiah Coleman, Jesse Coleman, Nathan- 
iel Evans, Samuel Tubbs, and James Gould — total, 
in the two companies, twenty-five men. The name 
of Benjamin Harvey appears upon the roll of Captain 




THE OLD n A N S O M HOUSE. 



DURKEE'S and ransom's COMrANIES. 165 

Durkee ; but Mr, James Harvey, his grandson, in- 
forms me this is a mistake, that he was a member 
of Captain Eansom's company. 

The roll, as we now have it, contains but fifty-five 
names. If we give Plymouth the credit of one-third 
of the full complement of eighty-four men, then it 
would appear that the town furnished not less than 
thirty-five men in the two companies in the Kevolu- 
tionary establishment. 

The name of Benjamin Bidlack does not appear 
on either of the rolls, when it is a fact that he served 
throughout the whole seven years of the war. It 
does not appear either from any records how many 
of the men were from Plymouth, enlisted by Wisner 
and Strong, who recruited previously in the valley. 

If we j)ut down the whole number at forty, we 
should probably fail to do justice to the early settlers 
of the town. 

There is one undeniable, positive fact, however, 
which does not admit of dispute or cavil, and that is, 
that the people of the town came boldly up to the 
work, and that they have left behind them a record 
worthy of the imitation of their descendants, if occa- 
sion shall ever require, and one which will never cause 
them to blush. 

And another fact is also positive, that each and 
every one of them went through the terrible ordeal of 
those days with honor and credit, and that they are 
well entitled to our gratitude and respect : to our 



166 HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

gratitude for the ricli legacy they bequeathed to us, in 
the kind of government we enjoy; to our respect, for 
the deeds of daring and bravery they exhibited. 

Our men, under Durkee and Ransom, were sta- 
tioned between the British and American lines, near 
Morris town, N. J. The first time they were under 
fire was on the twentieth of January, 1777, at the 
battle of Millstone, " as gallant and successful an ac- 
tion," says Miner, " considering the number engaged, 
as was fought during the war." They were attached 
to a command under Greneral Dickinson, which num- 
bered about four hundred men ; they made a raid 
upon a foraging party of British troops of about the 
same n imber. The affair resulted in a complete suc- 
cess. They nobly repulsed the enemy ; he fled in 
confusion, leaving to the victors some fifty wagons 
loaded with flour and provisions, and over a hundred 
horses. Each man shared in the booty — the prize- 
money of each amounting to several dollars. Cap- 
tain Ransom sent home a wagon to Plymouth as a 
trophy. Porter, one of Ransom's men, was killed in 
this action by a cannon-ball. 

Greneral Washington, in giving a report of this 
affair to Congress, uses the following complimentary 
language : 

" This action happened near Somerset Court 
House, on Millstone river. General Dickinson's be- 
havior reflects the highest honor on him; for though 
his troops were all raw, he led them through the 



OUR MEN UNDER FIRE. 167 

river, middle deep, and gave the enemy so severe a 
charge, that although supported by three field-pieces, 
they gave way and left their convoy." 

It will be borne in mind that half of this force of 
Dickinson was composed of Wyoming men, and 
probably not less than forty of these were from old 
Plymouth. Raw and undisciplined, yet true to their 
colors, under the first fire, and receiving the com- 
pliment of their great chief in a written report of 
the battle. 

How often have I listened to the details of the 
affair at Millstone, from the lips of our old friend. 
Colonel George P. Ransom, who was in his father's 
company, and in that engagement ! 

We next hear of the two Independent companies 
in the battles of Brandywine, Germantown, Bound 
Brook and Mud Fort. The battles of Brandywine 
and Germantown were severely fought contests; the 
two comi^anies were merged in large masses, and we 
cannot follow them through these engagements. They 
had stood fire at Millstone, and they undoubtedly 
maintained their courage afterwards. 

At the terrible bombardment of Mud Fort, Lieu- 
tenant Spalding, of Ransom's company, was in com- 
mand of a detachment. As the raldng fire of the 
British artillery made sad havoc with the slender 
breast- works, and the balls came whizzing through in 
all directions, one of his soldiers threw himself upon 
the ground, exclaiming, " nobody can stand this ! " 



168 HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH, 

" Get up, my good fellow/' said Spalding coolly, 
"I should hate to have to run you through; you can 
stand it if I can; " and the man, springing to his feet, 
returned to his duty. 

Constant Mathewson, one of Ransom's men, was 
killed in this engagement, and several were wounded. 
The two Sawyers, Plymouth men, died soon after 
with camp disease; also Spencer, and one of the Gay- 
lords. Others died whose names are not given. Ben- 
jamin Harvey was frozen to death at Valley Forge — 
so that we find Captain Eansom's company, in Octo- 
ber, 1777, reduced to sixty-two men. 

The following spring dark and ominous clouds 
began to overshadow the valley. The Indians began 
to show themselves on the outskirts, committing 
murder and carrying off prisoners. The tories, here- 
tofore silent, began to throw out hints of an approach- 
ing storm. " Coming events cast their shadows be- 
fore." 

The demon of carnage and battle was preparing 
for his grand banquet, which was to be displayed on 
the approaching third of July. The entire popula- 
tion became restive and excited; the runners who were 
sent out brought back chilling information, and a 
general alarm throughout the valley was created. 
This state of things reached Washington's camp, at 
Morristown, where the two Independent companies 
were stationed. Those of them who had left their 
unguarded and unprotected wives and children at home 



BATTLE OF WYOMING. 169 

became excited and furious. All the commissioned of- 
ficers but two resigned; and these, with some twenty 
or thirty men (with or without permission does not 
appear), left the camp and sped to Wyoming. 

It is probable that the authorities in the camp, 
knowing the desperate condition of the families of 
the men, winked at their departure. The single men 
remained, and on the twenty-fourth of June, 1778, 
the two companies were united in one, and Lieuten- 
ant Spalding, of Ransom's company, was appointed 
captain. 

As this was but ten days preceding the massacre, 
it is probable that was about the time that the men 
left the camp. They had waited to the last moment: 
human endurance could be delayed no longer. Their 
love and affection for their families, their fear for 
their safety, their knowledge of the terrible foe that 
was hovering over them, were reasons which could 
brook no restraint. They came; but alas, poor fel- 
lows ! they came to sodden the field of carnage with 
their blood. Their bones, now gathered together in 
one common receptacle, repose at the base of the 
humble and unpretending monument which their 
children in after years erected, to point out the spot, 
to strangers, where their fathers were slain. 

It was not my design in giving Historical Sketch- 
es of Plymouth, to write an account of the details of 
the battle of Wyoming. I find, however, that there 
were so many of our town's people engaged in it, that 



170 HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

my outline would be imperfect did I not give at least 
a condensed view of the engagement. Connected as 
our people were with this battle, and so many of 
them having fallen on that eventful day, my sketches 
would not be complete were I not to include in them 
an account of it. 

While, therefore, this will lengthen out the chain 
of local events necessarily, still they are so intimately 
blended with our township history that it is proper to 
speak of them. 

In the latter part of June the people of the val- 
ley were fully apprised of the approach of the enemy. 
The Indian vanguard, descending both sides of the 
Susquehanna, commenced gathering their crop of 
scalps for the British market. The price of the 
article varied : this was graded in amount, beginning 
with the scalp of the robust and able-bodied man, 
and so down to the child of two years. They were 
all assorted, and labeled, and baled as the Indians 
pack their peltry, and in this way delivered over to 
the officers of the Crown entrusted with this branch 
of the British service/ 

In their descent upon the valley they murdered 
and scalped all before them, sparing neither age, nor 
sex, nor condition. 

On the thirtieth of June, the British Colonel 
Butler, at the head of some four hundred provincials 
and tories and about seven hundred Indians, took up 
his position on the mountain bordering the north- 



BATTLE OF WYOMING. 171 

eastern j^art of the township of Kingston. Here the 
British, tory and savage commander made his point 
of observation. He soon ascertained that his tory 
allies, the Wintermoots, Van Gorders, Von Alsteens, 
and Secords, who had visited him the year before, in 
the " Lake country," had made a true and faithful 
exposition of the helpless condition of the people of 
the valley. It was an easy prey. 

To meet this invading force now became the great 
and momentous question upon the part of the people 
of Wyoming. And when we take into consideration 
that the whole possible available force of the valley 
did not amount to one-third of the number invading 
it, we may well be amazed that an effort should even 
have been made to resist it. But retreat would have 
been death, and to meet the foe would only add the 
pangs of torture which were to follow. The poor 
chances of success overbalanced these : a firm stand 
was the only alternative. 

A council was convened, and resistance to the last 
determined upon. Plymouth, ever ready to respond, 
gave every man and boy that could bear arms. Cap- 
tain Samuel Ransom, now at home, having resigned 
his commission in the army to stand or fall with his 
friends and neighbors, went into the Plymouth com- 
pany as a private in the ranlts. The people of the 
town assembled, had elected Asaph Whittlesey captain. 
The rank and file of this company, the remnant of the 
people, after the drain made upon them to fill up the 



172 HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH, 

muster-roll of the Second Independent company of 
United States troops, numbared forty-four; too many 
for the slaughter that was dej)ending. 

The roll of this company was not preserved. Prob- 
ably it perished in the pocket of the dead orderly 
upon the battle-field. The only way left to us to as- 
certain who were on it after the lapse of ninety-three 
years, is to copy the names of our dead from the mar- 
ble slab of the monument erected upon the ground 
where they fell. 

The following are believed to have been Plymouth 
men; their names are enrolled upon the monumental 
tablet: their memory should be upon the hearts of the 
people of Plymouth in all time to come. 

Samuel Eansom, Asaph Whittlesey, Aaron Gray- 
lord, Amos Bullock, John Brown, Thomas Brown, 
Thomas Fuller, Stephen Fuller, Silas Harvey, James 
Hopkins, Nathaniel Howard, Nicholas Manville, Job 
Marshall, John Pierce, Silas Parke, Conrad Daven- 
port, Elias Koberts, Timothy Boss, Eeynolds, 

James Shaw, Joseph Shaw, Abram Shaw, John Wil- 
liams, Elihu Williams, Jr., Rufus Williams, Aziba 
Williams and William Woodring. These are sup- 
posed to be twenty-seven of the forty-four. As to the 
remaining seventeen, those who knew them have 
passed away, and their names, as well as the fate of 
some of thera, are lost to history. 

Of the little band of forty-four of our town's 
people whom Captain Asaph Whittlesey led to the 



THE BATTLE OF WYOMING. 173 

field on the third of July, 1778, probably twenty of 
the number did not survive the disasters of the 
day. 

Captain Whittlesey occupied and owned the pres- 
ent Calvin Wadhams homestead. The little stream 
running through the premises, and emptying into the 
river near the Nottingham coal shaft, still bears his 
name. 

The united force of the valley amounted to from 
three to four hundi'ed men, and most of them were 
enrolled into four companies. 

1st, Captain Dethick Hewit's company, composed 
of forty men, regulars, just recruited for the general 
service. 

2d. Captain Asaph Whittlesey's company, Ply- 
mouth, forty-four men. 

3d. Caj3tain Lazarus Stewart's company, Han- 
over, forty men. 

4th. Captain James Bidlack's company, lower 
Wilkes-Barre, thirty-eight men. 

5th. Captain Kezin Greer's company, upper 
Wilkes-Barre, thirty men. 

6th. Captain Aholiab Buck's company, Kingston, 
forty-four men. 

The companies of Plymouth and Kingston, each 
forty-four, were the largest companies in the little 
army. All told make two hundred and thirty-six 
men. There were others who volunteered for the oc- 
casion, not enumerated in either of the company 



174 HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

rolls, the whole constituting a body of some four 
hundred men. 

The historians of the valley fix the numl^er at 
about three hundred, but the probability is that it 
approached nearer to four hundred. As there was a 
general excitement and alarm, the people rushed to 
the common headquarters, and there was not that at- 
tention to enrollment and classification by companies 
that there would have been in a state of quiet. The 
enemy was upon the border, and it was not known 
what moment he would advance. So that confusion 
was the element which ruled the situation. 

The names of one hundred and sixty-four persons 
are preserved to us of the slain. There can hardly 
be a doubt but there were nearly three hundred. 
Franklin's account in his journal of the event says 
" that near three hundred brave men fell a sacrifice to 
Indian barbarity." He was on the spot the evening 
of the day of the battle, and probably his journal is 
as correct an account as is left us of the actual num- 
ber slaughtered. 

But the exact number of our people who went 
forth to battle upon that eventful occasion will never 
be known. 

On the twelfth of December, 1837, I carefully 
wrote down the narrative given me by Samuel Finch, 
one of the survivors of the battle. The old gentle- 
man was, at the time of my interview with him, in 
his eighty-first year. His mind was unimpaired, and 



BATTLE OF WYOMING. 175 

his memory about details, so far as I had previously- 
learned from others who had escaped from the general 
slaughter, was very correct. 

This old veteran, in 1837, was a resident of Tioga 
county, in this State. He was on a visit, at the time 
I speak of, to Mr. George M. Hollenback, of Wilkes- 
Barre, who brought him to my office, with the re- 
quest that I would write down his account of the 
battle. Mr. Hollenback's father, the late Judge 
Hollenback of this city, and Mr. Finch, made their 
escape from the field together. Hollenback was in 
Captain Durkee's company. The captain was seri- 
ously wounded in his thigh and could not walk. 
Hollenback, being much attached to him, carried him 
some distance from the field on his shoulders; but 
being pressed closely by Indian pursuers, Captain 
Durkee "prayed him to abandon him to his fate, as 
they would both lose their lives in any further eflbrt 
to save him." Reluctantly, Hollenback laid him 
upon the ground, with his prayer of " God Almighty 
protect you, captain," and sped on towards the river 
in company with Finch. They had gone, however, 
but a few rods before they heard the crash of the 
tomahawk in poor Durkee's brain. Hollenback was 
an expert swimmer. He plunged into the river — 
having disposed of the most of his clothing as he 
ran — and putting a guinea in his mouth — about his 
only fortune — amidst the discharge of Indian bullets, 

safely reached the western shore. Finch being unable 
11 



176 HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

to swim, concealed himself in some drift-wood near 
the shore, but was, on the following morning, discov- 
ered, taken back to Queen Esther's rock, and among 
the orgies there practised, was ordered to run the 
gauntlet, which he safely accomplished, escaping 
twenty-four blows directed at him by twenty-four 
tomahawks, in the hands of the same number of 
savages, standing in parallel lines some ten feet 
apart ! His escajDe from this terrible ordeal " he at- 
tributed to the fact that it was a common pastime 
among the earlier settlers of those days to practise run- 
ning the gauntlet, not knowing but the time might 
come when their skill thus acquired might be of ser- 
vice to them, and in my case it most certainly was." 

Mr. Finch further stated, "that along with the 
other prisoners he commenced the march toward the 
Canadian frontier, but on the journey made his escape, 
and found his way back to his friends in Wyoming." 

But my design in refemng to this narrative, writ- 
ten down from the mouth of the witness thirty-five 
years ago, is to throw light, if possible, upon that 
long-disputed and never-to-be-settled point, touching 
the number of our people who fought the battle of 
Wyoming. 

Samuel Finch states, " that he, with another sol- 
dier, was stationed at the gateway of Forty Fort by 
Colonel Butler to count the m^n as they passed out to 
battle; and that, including the regulars and militia, 
there were four hundred and eighty-four men." 



THE WYOMING BATTLE-FIELD. 177 

If this information be correct, then the number 
is larger than that mentioned by any of the numer- 
ous persons who have heretofore written upon this 
subject, 

M J written memoranda is in the exact language of 
the witness; nor am I aware that there is any reason 
why the account thus given by him should not be en- 
titled to credit and belief. He could certainly have 
had no motive to state a falsehood. 

Mr. Finch further stated, " that he was the mes- 
senger sent to Colonel Dorrance, at the extreme left of 
the line, with the order to ' fall back,' which, through 
mistake, was accepted as an order to retreat." 

The memorable field upon which the Wyoming 
battle, or more generally and appropriately known as 
the field of the Wyoming massacre, was fought, is sit- 
uated upon the west bank of the Susquehanna, and a 
half mile north-east of the granite monument erected, 
commemorative of the event, in the "old certified" 
township of Kingston. The base of the mountain 
being the northern, and a break or elevation in the 
plain, midway between the mountain and river, the 
southern boundary. At the foot of this divide, in 
the plain, one portion being some twenty feet higher 
than the other, is a morass, which at the date of which 
we speak, was covered by a thick growth of under- 
brush. At the base of the mountain was also a much 
wider morass than the one named, covered densely 
with scrub oaks and a thick net- work of undergrowth, 



178 HISTOKICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

very difficult of access. From this jungle came forth 
the Seneca chief and liis savage braves. The distance 
between the southern boundary of the upper plain 
and the thicket at the foot of the mountain is about a 
half mile. This space was mostly covered with a 
sparsely growth of native pines, there being a cleared 
field of some two acres on the extreme right of the 
American line. 

Upon the brow of the little hill was located the 
Tory fortification, known as Fort Wintermoot. When 
this fort was first erected, it was considered as belong- 
ing to friendly people; in a few years it passed as one 
of neutrality. On the morning of the battle, how- 
ever, the British flag floated over it. 

The lower plain was also sparsely covered with 
pines, and it was across this ground that a large num- 
ber of the fugitives, after the defeat, made an effort to 
reach the river. 

Such I believe to be a pretty correct description 
of the ground upon which was fought the short but 
decisive and disastrous battle of Wyoming, in the 
afternoon of the third day of July, 1778. 

On the second day of July, the day preceding the 
battle. Colonel John Butler, the commander of the 
British, Tory and Indian army of invasion, removed 
his camp from the mountain, in the immediate vicin- 
ity, entered the valley, and established his chief depot 
at the Wintermoot fort. The Wintermoot family 
occupied the fort at the time, and by previous ar- 



DEMANDS OF BRITISH BUTLER. 179 

rangement, had made all the necessary preparations 
for the reception of their distinguished guest. 

The day before this, Colonel Zebulon Butler had 
made a reconnoissance in force, of the upper end of 
the valley, to inquire into the circumstances of the 
murder of the Harding family, and others, perpetra- 
ted by the Indians who were attached to the command 
of the British leader, as well as to gather what in- 
formation he could of the position and numbers of 
the enemy. 

The day that the British Butler established him- 
self at Wintermoot, he sent a deputation of three 
men to Forty Fort, under a white flag, who demanded 
a surrender of that fort, together with all the other 
stockades and military defenses of the valley, muni- 
tions of war, public property, as well as all men in 
arms, in opposition to his majesty the King of Great 
Britain. 

This demand of course was refused. On the 
morning of the third of July, a like deputation was 
sent, which ended in a like result. A demand of 
surrender had thus been made and refused. The 
next step was the casting down and the acceptance 
of the red gauntlet of battle. Which, if not done 
with all formulas of civilized warfare, was understood 
well by the offensive and defensive parties. 

From the thirtieth of June to the morning of the 
fatal third day of July, the entire effective force of 
the whole valley, including men of seventy years of 



180 HISTOKICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

age and boys of fourteen, had been gathered together, 
and mostly enrolled and organized into companies, 
for the purpose of meeting the approaching foe; as to 
the actual numbers of which, the people of the valley 
entertained but a vague and indefinite knowledge. 

The women and children had been placed in the 
diiferent fortifications of the valley, on both sides of 
the river, for safety and protection. The greater num- 
ber, however, had been quartered in Forty Fort, that 
being the most capacious as well as the strongest 
garrison. Its enclosure contained an area of about 
a half acre of ground, surrounded by a stockade, the 
sharpened timbers firmly set in the earth, and of suf- 
ficient height and strength to afford an available de- 
fence, except against siege artillery, which neither of 
the belligerents possessed. 

Here assembled on the morning of the disastrous 
day, in council, for the last time, the little band of 
bold and daring men who were soon to meet in dead- 
ly conflict with more than three times their own num- 
ber, to decide the momentous issue, whether they 
would fall with their faces or backs to the foe. To 
meet them was death; to retreat was death; and 
death therefore tainted the atmosphere which the 
people of the little garrison inhaled. But they were 
nevertheless firm and resolute, and they had made up 
their minds that if they must die, they " would die 
with harness on their backs." 

Colonel Zebulon Butler, a commander of one of 



PROPOSITION TO SURKENDER. 181 

the regiments of the Continental army, being at his 
home in Wilkes- Barre on a furlough, had been, by 
common consent, invested with the command in chief 
of this little army. His staff consisted of Colonel Na- 
than Denison, Lieutenant-Colonel George Dorrance, 
and Major John Garret. To this he added Captain 
Samuel Ransom and Captain Robert Durkee, men of 
military skill, and upon whose judgment he placed 
great consideration and reliance. 

The first question to be disposed of on that day, 
which terminated amid the darkest gloom and the 
the most heart-rending sorrow, was to decide upon the 
proposition of the British commander to surrender! 
Upon this question there was not a dissenting voice. 
A conflict was inevitable, so they took up the gage 
of battle defiantly thrown at their feet by the lead- 
er of a force more than thrice their own number; a fact 
which he knew, but which they did not. And if they 
had, it would not have changed their conduct. 

The next point to be determined was, whether 
they should immediately give battle, or remain within 
the fortification and stand a siege, with the expecta- 
tion of the arrival of reinforcements. This gave rise 
to a division of opinion. 

Colonel Butler and his staff took the ground that 
there should be delay, for a short time at least, be- 
cause there was reason to hoi3e that Captain Spalding, 
with his Continental com^^any, was on his way to 
Westmoreland; that Captain John Franklin, with a 



182 HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

company from Huntington and Salem, was also on his 
way to join tliem; that there should be time for the 
general panic throughout the valley to subside; that 
coolness, resulting from discipline, as well as valor, 
were elements necessary for success. 

To these arguments were interposed the objection, 
that the enemy had now been three days in the valley; 
they were fast carrying on their work of conquest and 
murder; that this fact would be likely to create in- 
stead of suppress panic; that two forts had already 
surrendered; that all the craft in the river above 
Forty Fort were in the possession of the enemy, thus 
affording him an opportunity to cross to the east side, 
which would compel the abandonment of the only 
really stronghold they had for retreat in case of disas- 
ter; that they could not rely upon keeping their men 
together when most of them were within gun-shot 
sound of their helpless and unprotected families; and 
finally, if death was to be their doom, there were 
enough of them to suffer the penalty. These argu- 
ments were decisive of the matter. The last one re- 
minds us of the speech of Henry V. before the battle 
of Agincourt: 

"If -we are mark'd to die, we are enougli 
To do our country loss : and if to live, 
The fewer men, the greater share of honor." 

It is not for us to say, after the lapse of nearly a 
hundred years, without those means of .knowledge 
which existed on that occasion, whether the decision 



DECISION OF THE COUNCIL. 183 

tliey arrived at was judicious and prudent, or other- 
wise. The men who made it had to assume the fear- 
ful consequences that followed. If an error was com- 
mitted, tlie motive which prompted it cannot be ques- 
tioned. It is true that CajDtain Spalding was between 
the Pocono and the Blue Mountain, within two days' 
march of Wilkes-Barre, with a company of sixty men 
or more, and that Captain Franklin, with thirty-five 
men, was within eight hours' march of the camp. But 
it is no more than reasonable to suppose, as circum- 
stances afterwards transpired, that if Spalding and 
Franklin had been present, that there would have 
been contributed an additional hundred to the slaugh- 
tered hecatomb in reserve. 

The decision of the council of war to adopt imme- 
diate offensive action may possibly have been prema- 
ture. From the limited knowledge, however, of the 
circumstances which is left to us at this remote period 
of time, we cannot help concluding that the decision 
was right. 

The men who made it were not aware of the nu- 
merical strength of their enemy; and the sequel, as de- 
veloped afterwards upon the field, is pretty conclusive 
that a hundred men more could not have saved the 
day. The fair presumption is, that a hundred more 
would have fallen had they been in the engagement. 
Three or four to one are fearful odds in an open 
field, and where the strategy of war cannot be made 
available. 



184 HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

Two o'clock in tlie afternoon had arrived; the 
solemn decision to fight in the open field had been 
made; the minority had cheerfully yielded their opin- 
ions to the majority, and the little army of four hun- 
dred men marched out of the fort in battle array. 

Colonel Butler detailed Captains Durkee and Kan- 
som, and Lieutenants Boss and Wells, for the purpose 
of making a reconnoissance of the ground, and to es- 
tablish the locality of the line of battle. These men 
had been under fire upon continental battle-fields, 
and were, therefore, properly selected for the purpose 
with which they were entrusted. They went, but 
they never returned from the field they surveyed. 

Upon the ground they designated, Colonel Butler 
formed his line. The two posts of honor were as- 
signed to Captain Durkee, who was put at the ex- 
treme right, and our townsman, Captain Whittlesey, 
upon the extreme left. Durkee was protected as to 
any flank movement by the morass; Whittlesey by 
the mountain and dense thicket at its base, which 
the savages however could penetrate. 

Colonel Butler, with Major Garret, took the com- 
mand of the right wdng; Colonel Denison, supported 
by Colonel Dorrance, the left. Durkee was placed 
with Bidlack, and Kansom with Whittlesey. This 
was the order of battle at three o'clock in the after- 
noon of the third of July, 1778. 

All this preparation had undoubtedly reached the 
ears of the British, Tory and Indian commander, for 



SPEECH OF COLONEL BUTLER. 185 

at about tlie same time he had formed his line a 
short distance below Fort Wintermoot. Divesting 
himself of his plumes and martial tawdry, with a 
black handkerchief bound about his head, he took the 
command of his left wing, composed of regulars and 
provincial troops. He placed his right wing, com- 
posed of Indians and Tories, under the command of 
Gucingeracton, a Seneca chief, supported, prohahly, 
by Captain Caldwell, of Johnson's Royal Greens. 
The fact as to the presence of Johnson is somewhat 
obscure, but as Caldwell was his next in rank, the 
better opinion seems to favor the idea that he com- 
manded the Royal Greens on this occasion. 

Both parties, therefore, being within a half mile 
of each other, and in battle array, it required but the 
signal gun for the commencement of the conflict. 

Colonel Butler made a short address before he 
displayed his column. He said : " Men, yonder is 
the enemy. The fate of the Hardings tells us what 
we have to expect if defeated. We come out to 
fight not only for liberty, but for life itself ; and, what 
is dearer, to preserve our homes from conflagration, 
our women and children from the tomahawk. Stand 
firm the first shock, and the Indians will give way. 
Every man to his duty." 

As Denison was filing his column ofi" to the left, 
he again repeated : "Be firm, everything depends on 
resisting the first shock." 

Our line began the advance, and at the same time 



186 HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

the flames and smoke were seen to ascend from Fort 
Wintermoot. The motive for this has never been 
disclosed; but as the burning embers were afterwards 
used as a means of torturing wounded and disal)led 
prisoners of war, we may suppose that the savage- 
hearted man, who that day led his Indian and Tory 
bands, prepared his rack in advance for the torture of 
his victims. 

Colonel Zebulon Butler ordered his men to fire 
throughout the whole line, and to keep up the volley 
as they advanced. The fire was rapid as well as 
steady the whole length of his line. The British 
advancing at the same time, the discharge of mus- 
ketry became continuous. 

There being fewer natural obstacles on the right, 
Colonel Zebulon Butler made rapid advances, and 
drove the left wing of his adversary before him: he 
not only compelled him to yield his ground, but also 
created confusion in his ranks. The British line 
could not withstand the regular and steady fire to 
which it was exposed. Following up their advan- 
tages, the British Butler's left wing was now more 
than a quarter of a mile in the rear of the point of 
attack, and very close upon the burning fortification; 
everything looked favorable upon the right, but, alas ! 
not so on the left. 

Colonel Denison had to meet a concealed foe. 
The morass Uterally swarmed with savages, and 
while our people were partially upon a plain, they be- 



HAND-TO-HAND CONFLICT, 187 

came the objects of deliberate aim from the concealed 
savage warriors. In a few moments they had picked 
out Colonel Dorrance, Captains Ransom and Whit- 
tlesey, and who, like brave men as they were, fell in 
the front ranks. The Indians becoming encouraged 
at their success in the fall of these officers, with a 
tremendous yell, which was taken up and repeated 
from band to band through the morass, darted ui3on 
the company of Whittlesey by a flank movement 
which of course threw it into confusion. Colonel 
Denison did what any prudent soldier would have 
done under the circumstances. He made the effort 
to place Whittlesey's company with its front to the 
enemy, which had just turned his flank. To do this 
it was necessary that they should fall back, and such 
was his order; but we must bear in mind when this 
order was given probably half of his company had 
fallen, and that each survivor, in this hand-to-hand 
fight, had to contend with a half dozen infuriated 
savages against him. Orders under such circum- 
stances could amount to nothing. The left wing was 
overpowered; it had not the strength nor the num- 
bers to resist the enemy it had to contend with. 

Seven hundred of these excited and wild savages 
let loose upon the left wing, which probably did not 
exceed two hundred men all told, was a fearful ob- 
stacle ; and therefore whether the order were retreat 
or fall back, it could not have changed the result. The 
line was too feeble to withstand the avalanche; it did 



188 HISTOEICAL SKETCHES X)F PLYMOUTH. 

not waver, it was crushed. Nothing short of a mira- 
cle could have resisted the overpowering weight 
thrown upon it. 

Most of our local historians, from Chapman 
down, taking up the oft-repeated version of this fea- 
ture of the Wyoming battle, impute the failure upon 
our part to the misunderstanding of the order to fall 
back for one of fetreat. 

There is no doubt whatever but what many men 
who escaped death upon that field were under this 
impression. Suppose the left wing had understood 
the order to fall back, would it have been possible for 
them to have faced successfully an enemy of such su- 
perior force ? Where would they have made their 
base ? They were sm-rounded on all sides, in front, 
and rear, and flank. 

It is time that public opinion should decide this 
question, and that the facts should be properly un- 
derstood. 

The rout upon the left became general. The 
success which Butler had achieved on the right 
amounted to nothing amidst the disasters which had 
taken place on his left. Amid desperation and hope 
he rode between the two lines, appealing to his men, 
whom he called his children, "to stand their ground." 
It was the last act remaining for him to do as a brave 
man; but superior numbers had accomplished its 
work, and thus within half an hour after the com- 
mencement of the battle, the whole Kne was in full 



butler's brutality 189 

retreat, each flpng for liis life, and seeking the most 
available refuge from his bloodthirsty pursuers. 

The scenes of brutality and murder which fol- 
lowed the disastrous defeat at the Wyoming battle, 
thank God ! have but few parallels. The sickening, 
abhorrent and disgusting details of which, though 
done within an enlightened age, perhaps ought not 
to be repeated to an enlightened people. The part 
played by the wild and savage Indian does not so 
much shock the senses, because he was cradled in 
blood and educated in the belief that he was serving 
the Great Spirit in taking vengeance in the most 
cruel manner upon his real or imaginary enemies. 
But what have we to say in defence of the memory 
of the man, born and educated within the pale of 
civilization, and placed in command as a reward of 
merit, probably, of a regiment of British infantry ? 
. And can we wonder either that a British King, 
whose sense of humanity, as exhibited in his conduct 
towards his American subjects, was of the most cruel 
kind, should have stood aghast and refused the honor 
of knighthood to Colonel John Butler until he cleared 
up the charges against him of brutal conduct at the 
battle of Wyoming. It was too much for George 
III., by no means a monarch of nice aiid discriminat- 
ing virtues, to swallow the dose. 

And how grateful it is to reflect that British gold 
could not purchase from our old settlers of this val- 
ley a certificate palliating the monstroas conduct when 



190 HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

eagerly souglit for by his entreaties ! They were 
poor, but they were honest. Gokl did not buy them. 

The principal avenue of retreat from the battle- 
ground was in the direction of the river. The flank 
movement made by the savages cut off the means of 
escape by the road leading to the fort. Some few 
escaped in that direction, but the main body of the 
fugitives sought the river, the enemy in full pursuit. 
Scores of them were shot down, or wounded and car- 
ried back to Queen Esther's rock for the bloody car- 
nival which was to come off there. Twenty-seven 
mutilated and disfigured bodies were afterwards found 
at that place, and so disfigured by wounds and gashes 
as not to be recognized. 

The Tory animosity and hate, if they did not ex- 
ceed the savage disposition, came almost up to it. 
Upon Monocasy Island, in the immediate vicinity of 
the battle-ground, where many of the poor creatures 
sought refuge, a beast in human shape, by the name 
of Pensil, deliberately shot down a brother who was 
upon his knees before him supplicating for his life. 
With the imprecation that " he was a d — d rebel," 
he blew out his brains. There were instances where 
other Tories invited back their fleeing enemy, under 
the promise that their lives should be saved, but in 
every case where they returned under such promises, 
they were mercilessly butchered. Captain James 
Bidlack, with others, who were wounded, were thrown 
by the Indians and Tories into the flames of Fort 



HORRIBLE BRUTALITY. 191 

Wintermoot, and held down by pitchforks till the 
burning embers consumed their bodies. Deeds of 
cruelty inflicted in the civil family feuds between the 
houses of York and Lancaster are dwarfed in their 
comparison with those of the Wyoming massacre, 
and perpetrated, too, under the eye, if not by the 
order of the British commander, a man who had the 
benefits and advantages of civilization. But the 
progress in moral reform of three hundred years had 
extended no kindly influences over him. 

The battle did not exceed half an hour in dura- 
tion, so that from four o'clock until the dawn of the 
next day, the horrid creatures carried on their fearful 
orgies. The atmosphere for miles around was pol- 
luted with the stench of burning human bodies. 
"All night long," says Pearce, "there was a revel in 
blood and in the fumes of burning human flesh. 
Not until the morning light did they cease their de- 
moniac orgies for want of victims. The sun never 
shed his rays on a bloodier field. Spectators standing 
upon the opposite shore of the river saw naked men 
forced around the burning stake with spears, andT 
heard their heart-rending shrieks and dying groans." 

I pass over the troubles and sacrifices which befel 
the women and helpless children in their flight from 
the valley. Their husbands and fathers and broth- 
ers were nearly all slain. Of the army which went 
out in the morning, fifty did not return alive. Of 

the fifteen officers, eleven were slain. Every captain 
12 



192 HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

of the six companies, including Eansom and Durkee, 
were found dead at the front of the line, with the 
exception of Bidlack, whose charred body was found 
among the burned debris of Wintermoot fort. 

The women and children of Plymouth started on 
the night of the battle for Fort Augusta, at Sunbury. 
The roads in every direction leading from the valley 
were thronged with fugitive women and children — and 
as they ascended the high hills skirting the valley, 
they looked back upon their burning homes and in- 
haled the tainted breeze from the battle-field of their 
slaughtered husbands, brothers and fathers. 

On the preceding day, July fourth, the British 
Butler marched to Forty Fort, where he found Colonel 
Denison with a small remnant of the men who had 
escaped the horrors of the day before. Captain Frank- 
lin, with his thirty-five men, had reached there on the 
evening of the battle. These soldiers and the women 
and children composed the garrison. Articles of ca- 
pitulation were drawn up and signed. But except as 
to the commission of any other deeds of murder, the 
conditions were almost totally disregarded. The In- 
dians were still Indians, and the British commander 
pretended he could not control them. They robbed 
the women of their clothing and the children of their 
bread. What they could not carry away they burnt 
and destroyed. After the signing of the treaty, bands 
of Indians and Tories traversed the valley and de- 
stroyed by fire nearly all the buildings. 



DOUBT AS TO BRANDT's PRESENCE. 193 

To show tlie brutal character of the British com- 
mander, we will give an incident. In entering the 
gateway of Forty Fort, he recognized Sergeant Boyd, 
a deserter. " Boyd," said he, with the sternness of 
savage ferocity, " go to that tree." — " I hope," said 
Boyd, imploringly, "your honor will consider me a 
prisoner of war." — " Go to that tree, sir." And then 
summoning an Indian squad he ordered them to fire 
upon him. The poor sergeant fell dead. 

In this we read the temper and disposition of the 
man. He had it in his power to have checked the 
slaughter of his prisoners; he had it in his power to 
have saved the people of the valley from plunder, and 
their homes from the brand. He was under Tory in- 
fluence and acted from savage impulses. 

And after all these examples of monstrosity, he 
sought the honorable distinction of knighthood. It 
was too much for even George III. to grant ! 

Brandt was not in the battle. It is somewhat re- 
markable that almost every survivor of the massacre 
was under the impression that the Mohawk chief was 
at the head of the Indians on the third of July. 
Chapman took up the same idea from revelations un- 
doubtedly made to him by the survivors, and such was 
and is the tradition of this matter. I have been told, 
time and again by them, that they saw him and they 
would describe his dress and person. Miner followed 
Chapman, but doubtingly, and in a note he submits 
the question to the judgment of his readers. Pearce 



194 HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

says that lie was not in the battle, and Dr. Peck is of 
the same opinion. 

In order to satisfy my own mind, some years since 
I wrote a letter to Mr. Bancroft, the historian, on this 
subject. He had come down in the chain of his his- 
tory to the eve of the Wyoming battle. I wrote 
stating to him that there was a difference of opinion 
on the question whether Brandt was in the battle of 
Wyoming. 

I give the copy of his reply to my letter on the 
subject: 

" New York, April 15, 1867. 
"My Dear Mr. Wright : I had already -written the account of the 
Wyoming massacre, and having had before me very full contempo- 
rary materials, I had avoided the error against which you so kindly 
caution me. 

" Brandt was not in the valley ; your party was of the Seneca 
tribe, and led by a great Seneca chief. Brandt led an expedition in 
New York, as the enclosed papers will show. 

" Very truly yours, Geo. BANCROFT." 

The enclosed paper which is here referred to, is a 
copy of a report, of the massacre, made by Colonel 
Gruy Johnson to Lord Greorge Germain, at the time 
Secretary of War under George III., dated at New 
York, on the twentieth of September, 1778, two 
months after the battle. The following is the report : 

" Your Lordship will have heard before this can 
reach you of the successful incursions of the Indians 
and Loyalists from the Northward. In conformity to 
the Instructions I conveyed to my officers, they as- 



GUY Johnson's repoht. 195 

sembled their force early in May, and one division un- 
der one of my Deputies, Mr. Butler, proceeded with 
great success down the Susquehanna, destroying the 
Posts and Settlements at Wyoming ; augmenting 
their number with many Loyalists, and alarming all 
the country ; whilst another Division under Mr. 
Brandt, the Indian Chief, cut off two hundred and 
ninety-four men near Schoharie, and destroyed the 
adjacent settlements, with several Magazines, from 
whence the rebels had derived great resources, thereby 
affording great encouragement and opportunity to 
many friends of the Government to join them." 

This document would seem to settle the question 
that Brandt was not in the battle of Wyoming. He 
took his two hundred and ninety-four scalps at Scho- 
harie, " and destroyed the settlements " in that coun- 
try at the same time that " Mr. Butler " took nearly 
or quite the same number of scalps at Wyoming, 
"and destroyed the settlements " on the Susquehanna, 
as well as " alarming all the country," 

How idle was it, therefore, for "Mr. Butler" to 
allege to Colonel Denison that he could not control 
the Indians in their destruction of property in the 
valley. His master, Mr, Guy Johnson, says that 
such were the orders he gave. Butler, therefore, 
when his Indians and " Loyalists " (Tories) were de- 
stroying the entire settlement of Wyoming with the 
brand and the sword, was but caiTying out the orders 
of the agents of a Christian King, 



196 HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

It is well that this -part of the history of Wyo- 
ming, as to the presence of Brandt, is fully settled 
and understood, though at a very modern date. 

I have in this statement of the battle of Wyoming 
not gone into it as fully as I should have done, because 
it did not have a material bearing on the subject I 
have in hand. The local history of Plymouth, how- 
ever, became so much connected with it, that I was 
compelled to give it a short examination. 

I have already stated the number of our people 
slain in the massacre, and the circumstances under 
which they were marshalled into the ranks, and that 
they did not flinch from the duties which events im- 
posed upon them. The Williams family alone con- 
tributed four of their number to the slaughter. 

Our people should know the spot where their an- 
cestors fell in the battle. When any of them here- 
after shall, through curiosity or motives of regard, 
visit the field, they will find the particular locality 
about a mile above the Lackawanna and Bloomsburg 
depot, at Wyoming station, and very nearly on the 
bed of the track of that road. There our townsmen, 
Captain Samuel Ransom, Captain Asaph Whittlesey, 
and some twenty-five of our people were outflanked 
and slain by Indians and Tories on that ever-memor- 
able day. 

The following statement of Daniel Washburn, a 
Plymouth man, was kindly furnished me by Steuben 
Jenkins, Esq., as written down by him in 1846, from 



STATEMENT OF DANIEL WASHBURN. 197 

the mouth of the old man. I give his precise lan- 
guage. It is an interesting statement of the thrilling 
events of the times, from one of our own people : 

"I lived in Shawnee. The Nanticoke company- 
came up to Shawnee and I joined in with them under 
Captain Whittlesey. We all marched up to Forty- 
Fort that night. The next morning we saw the flag 
of the enemy coming with two men; one carried the 
flag and the other played upon the fife. They had a 
letter for our Colonel, from what I could learn, telling 
ITS to give up the fort. The Colonel told them he 
would not give up the fort, and they left. After they 
had left, orders were given by our Colonel, Butler, 
that we must go and meet the enemy." (Here fol- 
lows an account of the massacre.) '•'■ "■•'•" * " We then 
started, and steered a straight course for the Shawnee 
fort (Garrison Hill), through fields and woods, till we 
came to Ross Hill, where we came in the main road, 
and went to the fort. We came to the fort about 
midnight, and to our great surprise it was occupied 
by no one except my father, Jesse Washburn, and my 
brother Caleb, my step-mother with two small chil- 
dren, and Mrs. Woodring, the wife of William A. 
Woodring, who was killed in the battle. Mrs. Wood- 
ring had five children, four sons and one daughter. 
We all remained till daybreak, when we could see no 
one else around. The fort was full of provisions and 
store-goods, bedding and house furniture. In the 
morning we three, father, Caleb and myself carried 



198 HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

rails and made a raft. At nine o'clock we had our 
raft finished. About this time we heard the report of 
the enemy shooting at the Wilkes-Barre fort (and 
we kneiv it to he the enemy). We then got aboard of 
our rail raft; my father and mother, Caleb and the 
two children, and Mrs. Woodring and her five chil- 
dren, taking with us provisions to last us across the 
Blue Mountains. We then set sail ^^^th our rail raft 
and went on very well till we got to Nanticoke Falls, 
when we saw two boats fast on a rock. They called to 
us to help them loose. There were in these boats 
men, women and children. We then landed our raft 
on the Shawnee side and went and helped them loose, 
and helped them below the rifi" safe, for which they 
paid us. When we were getting the boats loose we 
saw a man come out of the woods. He was naked 
and had not a stitch of clothes about him. He said he 
swam the river about Forty Fort, and had come down 
through the woods. He spoke to us from the other 
side and told us of his happy escape, and then went 
on again. When we had them all loose — it was 
about twelve o'clock in the day — then we pushed off 
our rail raft again and sailed on very well till night, 
when we landed at, or a Httle above, the mouth of 
Little Wapwallopen, and put up for the night in a 
small cabin that stood where Jacob and Joseph Hess 
now live (1846). A man by the name of Dewey had 
moved out about two days before. Here we stayed 
over night. In the morning we again pursued our 



STATEMENT OF DANIEL WASHBUKN. 199 

journey along the old Indian path. This day we 
travelled beyond the Buck Mountain and put up for 
the night in the woods, Mrs. Woodring and her five 
children being still with us. The next morning we 
again renewed our journey, and on the third day we 
landed at a place called Greaden Head {Gnadden- 
Hutten), in Northampton county. I was about fif- 
teen years old at the Wyoming battle, and went for 
my father. I am now nearly eighty-three. When 
we got to Wapwallopen we met a man with a horse 
and some cows which he wished us to assist him in 
driving to ]Srorthamj)ton. The women and children 
rode alternately upon the horse. We had much 
trouble in driving the cattle." 

There seems to be no definite account preserved of 
the number killed of the enemy in the battle. They 
removed their dead and wounded. It is probable 
that fifty would include the enemy's loss — ^possibly a 
less number. We are left to conjecture as to the 
fact. 



CHAPTER VIII. 

INDIAN MUKDERS AND PRISONERS. — CONDUCT OF THE 
BRITISH GOVERNMENT. PERKINS, WILLIAMS, BID- 
LACK, PIKE, ROGERS, VAN CAMPEN, PENCE, BEN- 
JAMIN AND ELISHA HARVEY, GEORGE P. RANSOM, 
LOUIS HARVEY, LUCY BULLFORD AND M'^DOWEL. 

A LESS number of our townspeople were murdered 
or carried into captivity by the Indians than in 
other parts of the valley, compared with our popula- 
tion. The records we have, though probably incom- 
plete, show but two murdered and fourteen carried 
away as prisoners. Some of those taken prisoners 
were not afterwards heard from, and were probably 
murdered. 

This number does not embrace those slain in the 
Wyoming battle. 

Mr. Miner's list of the murdered within the town 
of Westmoreland contains the names of sixty-one, and 
his prisoners' list sixty, making a total of one hun- 
dred and twenty-one; and while this catalogue wa; 
made with great caution and with much research and 
labor, we do not find upon it the names of Louis 
Harvey and Lucy Bullford, of Plymouth, who were 
captured at the time Colonel Ransom and the two 
Harveys were. He, however, admits that the num- 

(200) 



CONDUCT OF THE BRITISH GOVERNMENT. 201 

ber, including those killed and captured, was larger 
than the list he furnishes. There can be but little 
doubt of this, as sixty years had passed by from the 
time of these slaughters and imprisonments to the 
period in which he wrote. The one hundred and 
twenty-one would probably bear an addition of fifty, 
and come nearer to the true state of the facts. Our 
people of Plymouth, therefore, were remarkably fortu- 
nate considering the terrible sacrifices that their sur- 
rounding neighbors were subjected to, for the three 
years succeeding the Wyoming battle. Before the 
occurrence of this event, there was not an instance 
of murder or capture in the town. It was after the 
battle that the Indian character took on those terrible 
and remorseless features of cruelty, the exhibitions of 
which, in some cases, are too shocking to relate. 

To the natural feeling of revenge and the thirst 
for blood, the policy of the British king had imbued 
the Indian heart with the new elements of avarice and 
cupidity. These were before unknown to the red 
man. He was proud and haughty in his manners, in- 
different to any luxuries, content with the bare neces- 
saries to sustain life, and in the language of Camp- 
bell, 

" A Stoic of the woods ; a man •without a tear." 

In his intercourse with the white man he had ac- 
quired a new appetite. He tasted of the cup which 
intoxicates, and he became unscrupulous as to the 
manner of gratifying it. The scalp of an American, 



202 HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOXJTH. 

whether of man, woman or child, had a market value 
under British law. The Indian dealt in the commod- 
ity; he could make more money in the traffic of the 
white man's scalp than he could in the peltry of the 
chase. He could sell them on presentation ; the 
market was never dull; there was no credit; the gold 
was paid over the counter on delivery of the merchan- 
dise. This would buy rum, and rum made the red 
man happy. The new appetite supplanted all the 
others, and his natural savage ferocity became in- 
creased tenfold. Before this it was prescribed by 
limits. True, the boundary was frail, but still the 
line was discernible; the scalp bounty removed all re- 
straint. The king gloried in the accumulation of his 
new article of traffic; and the Indian, made more 
savage in his cujds, sharpened the already keen edge 
of his knife with the exultant feelings of a monster. 
The minds of purchaser and seller were in accord, and 
so the trade went on for the mutual profits of each. 

The voices of such men as Chatham, Wilkes and 
Barre, in the English Parliament, were impotent. 
There was no mercy to be shown to rebels; they were 
outside of the pale of humanity — their crime did not 
entitle them to " the beneiit of clergy." 

It is therefore not a matter of surprise that the 
savage, nerved up to acts of cruelty by the example of 
a nation professing to be governed by rules of Christi- 
anity, and basking in the sunshine of a high civiliza- 
tion, would stop to scrutinize the mode or manner of 



THE HAKVEST OF SCALPS. 203 

executing his new calling. His well strung girdle of 
reeking scalps was not ornamental merely to the 
savage warrior, but it possessed a specific value in 
pounds, shillings and pence — which the British trea- 
sury paid on the production of the article. 

The dull and obtuse faculties of the Indian m'nd 
could not be made to comprehend that there was any 
immorality in the mere act of murdering the victim 
for the value of the scalp upon his head, when the 
transaction received the endorsement of so renowned a 
dignitary as G-eorge III. 

The conduct, therefore, of this inhuman j^rince 
gave license to the commission of the most terrible 
and revolting brutalities. He gathered his harvest of 
three hundred scalps at the massacre of Wyoming — 
and while this scene was being transacted upon the 
Susquehanna, his friend Brandt strung upon his belt 
two hundred and ninety-four, taken from the heads of 
the defenseless people of Schoharie, upon the Mohawk. 

In the two expeditions under the orders of his 
Majesty, one intrusted to " Mr. Butler," on the Sus- 
quehanna, and the other intrusted to " Mr. Brandt," 
on the Mohawk, his royal tannery was replenished 
with about six hundred fresh scalps; some of them, it 
is true, from the heads of women and children, but 
all in a good state of preservation — all marketable ! 

Now when we consider that this course of conduct 
was in the eighteenth century, and in not merely a 
civilized but an enlightened age, we are confounded 



204 HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

and amazed. There is one redeeming feature in it, 
however, and which will ever redound to the honor 
of English statesmen, that the high-toned men of the 
Lords and Commons denounced the act of their Sov- 
ereign in the most bitter and scathing invective. 

The untutored wild man of the woods, without 
the pale of civilization as to the knowledge even of an 
accountability to a supreme ruler in the world to 
come, or being clothed with the mantle of Chris- 
tianity, may plead these things in palliation of his 
beastly murders; but with the memory of George 
III. ] est the curses and anathemas of the enlightened 
world. 

Immediately succeeding the Indian battle where 
the great harvest of scalps had been reaped by Butler 
and his allies, bands of straggling, marauding Indians 
and Tories commenced their incursions upon the now 
desolate people of the desolate valley of Wyoming. 

Colonel Zebulon Butler was in command of the 
fortifications, but his force was inadequate to suppress 
the raids which were frequently made by the enemy; 
and instances of murder and capture were often occur- 
ring within sight of the people in these fortifications. 

The following letter from Washington, in reply to 
one from Colonel Zebulon Butler asking for aid, I 
found many years since among some old papers of 
Colonel Butler. It has never before been published. 
The original is still in my library, and is in a perfect 
state of preservation. 



Washington's letter, 205 

" Headquarters, > 
" MORRISTOWN, April 7, 1780. ] 

" Sir : I received yesterday your letter of the 2d instant, and 
am extremely sorry to find that parties of the enemy have appeared 
and committed hostilities in the neighborhood of Wyoming. It is 
not in my power to aiford any troops fi-om the army, and I should 
hope those already there, and the inhabitants, will be able to repel 
at least incursions by light parties. 

" It was my intention, as I informed you, that you should join 
your regiment immediately after your return : however, I am in- 
clined from the face of things to let j'ou continue where you are for 
the present, and you will remain till further orders. Should fur- 
ther depredations and mischief be committed by the enemy, you 
will take occasion to inform me of them. 

" I am, sir, 
" Your most obedient servant, 

" G. Washington." 

" To Colonel Zebulon Butler." 

This letter fully shows that the people of the 
valley could not depend upon Washington for any as- 
sistance. The defense of the valley was left with 
Colonel Butler, his command consisting of Captain 
Spalding's company, composed of the remnant of the 
two independent companies of Durkee and Ransom, 
with a few stragglers which Sullivan had left the year 
previous. Death and slaughter had intimidated the 
living, and the people were a helpless prey to the pre- 
datory bands of Tories and Indians who were contin- 
ually prowling about the valley. And it now became 
the lot of our townspeople to submit to their share cf 
the pains and penalties in reserve for them. 

John Perkins, a Plymouth man, was murdered by 
the Indians on the seventeenth of November, 1778, 



206 HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

in the lower end of the township, shortly after the 
battle. 

In March following, a band of twenty Indians ap- 
peared on the Kingston side of the river, in sight of 
the Wilkes-Barre fort, in broad daylight, and mur- 
dered three valuable citizens : Mr. Elihu Williams, 
Lieutenant Buck and Mr. Stephen Pettibone. Fred- 
erick Follet, who was with them, fell pierced by 
seven wounds from a spear, and with the others 
was scalped and left for dead. Instantly a detach- 
ment of men was sent over: the Indians had fled. 
Follet, sweltering in blood, gave signs of life and was 
taken to the fort. Dr. William Hooker Smith, on 
examining his wounds, said that while everything 
should be done that kindness and skill could sug- 
gest, he regarded his recovery as hopeless. Yet he 
did recover. One spear thrust had penetrated the 
stomach, so that its contents came out at his side. 
Mr. Follet lived for many years, and removed to 
Ohio, where he left a large family. — Miner's History, 
p. 263. 

It would afford me much pleasure to speak of Dr. 
William Hooker Smith at length. He was the pion- 
eer physician of the valley ; a man of good qualifica- 
tions as a physician and surgeon, and possessed of a 
knowledge of the prospective value of anthracite coal 
far beyond his contemporaries. The numerous deeds 
made to him in early days of coal privileges and min- 
eral rights, prove him to have been a man of great 



OUR PEOPLE IN INDIAN CAPTIVITY. 207 

forecast and sound judgment. His history, however, 
does not properly come within our limits. 

Elihu Williams was a Plymouth man. His son 
had fallen in the massacre the year previous. The 
residence of the Williams family, and Avhere the Kev. 
Darius Williams, a descendant, lived for many years, 
was on the south side of the Plymouth road leading 
from Wilkes-Barre to Ross Hill, and immediately 
below the machine shops of the Lackawanna and 
Bloomsburg Railroad Company. 

Darius Williams was for many years a local Meth- 
odist EjHSCopal preacher, and a man of strong mind 
and peculiar powers of pulpit eloquence. The writer 
has often heard him preach. He had great earnest- 
ness of manner, and his language was strong and well 
chosen. He earned, and very justly too, the repu- 
tation of not only being a good and exemplary man, 
but also of possessing a high order of talents. He 
died at the old homestead, probably about thirty 
years ago. 

Captain James Bidlack, a Plymouth man, father 
of the Captain James Bidlack who fell in the Wyo- 
ming battle, at the head of his company, was taken 
prisoner on the second of March, 1779, in the upper 
end of the township. He made his escape, or was re- 
leased about a year afterwards. 

Captain Bidlack had another son, the Rev. Ben- 
jamin Bidlack, who served the whole period of the 

Revolutionary war, and wa.s discharged at Yorktown 
13 



208 HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

upon the surrender of Cornwallis. The Kev. Benja- 
min Bidlack resided many years in a small log house 
on the north side of the main road, immediately below 
the Joseph Wright homestead. My mother, now liv- 
ing at an advanced age, informs me that Mr. Bidlack 
occupied this house when she first went to Plymouth 
to live, about the year 1795 ; that Mr. Bidlack was 
then a Methodist preacher, and travelled the circuit. 
I shall have occasion to speak of him hereafter. 

Our local historians agree mainly as to the circum- 
stances attending the capture of Rogers, Van Campen 
and Pike, but they are wide apart as to the incidents 
attending their release and escape. My own memory 
is somewhat imperfect as to the account I have heard 
of the circumstances, though I have probably listened 
to Mr. Rogers' statement of them more than a score 
of times. But this is long ago, fifty years at least. 
I shall, however, rely more upon my own memory — as 
I have learned the story from the actors of the drama 
— than the written accounts of it by others. 

A band of ten Indians, on the twenty-seventh of 
March, 1780, made their appearance in Hanover. 
This was ten days preceding the date of the letter I 
have introduced from Greneral Washington to Colonel 
Zebulon Butler; and their acts, together with another 
band of six, who made their appearance on the same 
day in Kingston, carrying off three prisoners, proba- 
bly gave rise to the correspondence. The ten who 
visited Hanover shot and killed Asa Upson about two 



ABRAHAM PIKE, THE INDIAN KILLER. 209 

miles below Wilkes-Barre, on the main road. On 
the day following, two men were engaged in making 
sugar near Nanticoke : one of them was killed on the 
spot, the other taken prisoner. This was the work of 
the same party, undoubtedly; the man taken prisoner 
was never heard of again. On the twenty-ninth they 
passed over the river, near Fish Island, and found Jo- 
nah Rogers, a boy then fourteen years of age, who 
had been sent by his parents on an errand to the 
lower end of the valley. They took Rogers and went 
down the river to Fishing Creek, in the vicinity of 
Bloom sburg, and on the following day they surprised 
the family of the Van Campens. Moses Van Campen, 
a young, athletic man, they took prisoner, having 
murdered and scalped his father, his brother, and his 
uncle. On the same day they captured a boy by the 
name of Pence, whom Rogers says was older than 
he — probably eighteen years of age. From Fishing 
Creek they passed northerly through Huntington. 
Here they were opposed by a scout of four men under 
the direction of John Franklin. A skirmish ensued; 
two of Franklin's men were wounded. The Indian 
party being too numerous for Franklin to contend 
with, they continued on to what is known as " Pike's 
Swamp," in the southern part of what is now 
Lehman township. Here they found Abraham Pike, 
a Plymouth nan — and known for the rest of his life 
as "T/ic Indian Killer" — and his wife, making sugar, 
Mrs. Pike had an infant some four months old. 



210 HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

Here they staid over night. In the morning they 
took Pike and his wife prisoners; binding the child 
up in a blanket, they threw it on the roof of the 
sugar cabin and hastened on with their prisoners. The 
lamentations of Mrs. Pike for her poor child, thus left to 
exposure and certain death, seemed to excite the feel- 
ings of the savages. After travelling a few miles 
they halted, and upon consultation, they painted Mrs. 
Pike, saying, "joggo squaw" — go home, woman. 
She returned to her cabin, got her child, and fled to 
the settlement and gave the alarm; but the Indiana 
were out of reach. 

It is an interesting fact that the bottom logs of 
this old cabin are still visible; and a gentleman in- 
forms me, who visited the spot within the last year, 
that in the centre of it stands a beech tree some two 
feet in diameter. Ninety-one years is a long time for 
the foundation logs of Pike's cabin to resist the en- 
croachment of the seasons. I remember seeing it a 
great many years since : it was then three or four 
courses of logs high. 

About the third of April, they encamped for the 
night upon the Susquehanna, some fifteen or twenty 
miles below Tioga Point. The Indians feeling that 
they were now safe from pursuit, and upon the bor- 
ders of their own possessions, made arrangements for 
a night of quiet repose. Not so with Abraham Pike; 
he was a British deserter. He had fought under that 
flag at Bunker Hill, and received a wound there. An 



ABRAHAM PIKE. 211 

Irishman by birth, and full of the idea of liberty, he 
made his escape and volunteered for a term of two years 
in the American army, at the end of which time he 
came to the Susquehanna. He had also been in the 
battle of Wyoming, thus not only deserting the 
British ranks, but having openly fought against the 
British flag. 

His Indian captors knew these things. He was 
now on the way to the British lines, and he would 
soon be handed over to the men whose cause he had 
abandoned. He knew his fate; his position was one 
of desperation. We may, therefore, readily understand 
who was the originator of the bold scheme which took 
place on the night of that encampment. There was no 
one of the party who had the same issue at stake that 
he had, and we must rely upon the statement of Sog- 
ers and Pike, in opposition to that of Van Campen. 
The two former died before the latter, and he strange- 
ly asserted the claim of the whole credit of the es- 
cape, and there was no one to contradict. 

As I have had the stoiy from Mr. Rogers, he says : 
" That in the afternoon of the day before we reached 
the place of encampment, we came to a stream; I 
was tired and fatigued with the journey; my feet 
were sore, and I was just able to proceed; Pike told 
the chief of the gang that he ' would carry me over 
on his shoulders.' The old chief in a gruff voice, said 
' well.' Pike whispered in my ear as we were crossing 
the stream : ' Jonah, don't close your eyes to-night; 



212 HISTOKICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

when they sleep take the knife from the chief's belt 
and cut the cords with which I am hound.' I was 
the only one of the prisoners who was not bound, and 
every night the old chief took me under his blank- 
et. The nights were cold and raw, and though pro- 
tected in this way, I thought that I should perish." 

This much of the project was communicated to the 
other prisoners by Pike. Towards nightfall, they 
halted on the banks of the river, kindled the camp 
fire, partook of their meal, and were soon extended 
upon the ground, five Indians upon each side and the 
four prisoners in the middle. 

Mr. Rogers says : '' In a few moments the old 
chief was asleep, and in the course of half an hour, the 
savages were all snoring, but he knew his friends 
were awake, from their occasional half-suppressed 
cough. Pike was the nearest to me, and not over two 
feet in distance. It was a terrific effort for me to 
make up my mind to perform my part of the business, 
for I knew that instant death would be the penalty in 
a failure. But as the time passed on, and the snor- 
ing of the savages grew louder, my courage seemed to 
gather new strength. I had noticed that when the old 
chief laid down, that the knife in his belt was on his 
side next to me. I peered out from under the blank- 
et and I saw the embers of the fire still aglow, and a 
partial light of the moon. I also saw the hands of 
Pike elevated. I thought the time had come, and 
these two hours of suspense I had passed were more 



STATEMENT OF JONAH ROGERS. 213 

terrible than all the rest of my life put together. I 
cautiously drew the knife from the scabbard in the 
old chiefs belt, and creeping noiselessly out from under 
the blanket, I passed over to Pike, and severed the 
cords from his hands. 

" All was the silence of death, save the gurgling 
noise of the savages in their sleep. Pike cut the 
cords that bound the other prisoners. We were now 
all upon our feet. The first thing was to remove the 
guns of the Indians ; the work for us to do was to be 
done with tomahawks and knives. The guns were 
carefully removed out of sight, and each of us had a 
tomahawk. Van Campen placed himself near the old 
chief and Pike over another. I was too young for 
the encounter, and stood aloof. I saw the tomahawks 
of Pike and Van Campen flash in the dim light of the 
half- smouldering flames ; the next moment the crash 
of two terrible blows ; these were followed in quick 
succession, when seven of the ten arose in a state of 
momentary stupefection and bewilderment, and then 
came the hand-to-hand conflict in the contest for life. 
But our enemy was without arms, still they were not 
disposed to yield. Pence, however, seizing one of the 
guns, fired and brought down his man, making four 
killed, and two of them were very dangerously 
wounded; they fled with a terrific yell on the report 
of the gun. As they were retreating, Van Campeu 
hurled his tomahawk, which buried itself in the shoul- 
ders of one of the retreating foe. And this Indian, 



214 HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

with the terrible scar in his shoulder-bladej I saw 
years afterwards, and who acknowledged that he got 
the wound upon this occasion." 

This is the story, as near as my memory retains 
it, and which I have so often heard from the lips of 
my old school-master, Jonah Rogers. It would ap- 
23ear from this that four were killed, six escaped, 
three of whom were wounded, two probably fatally. 

Van Campen represents that the whole number 
were killed, and chiefly by his own hands. This is 
wholly improbable, and it is a matter of much doubt 
if any one of the prisoners knew precisely the condi- 
tion of the battle-field after the conflict. It was 
light; it was of course the most exciting state of 
affairs in which men could possibly be placed. 

The prisoners, now free, collected together imme- 
diately the arms of their savage captors, their blank- 
ets, the scalps of their friends, and the provisions at 
hand, and left the camp. In the morning they 
found a canoe. Getting into this they plied the pad- 
dles with celerity, and, in two days after, were at the 
fort at Wilkes-Barre. 

It is unfortunate that there should have been any 
spirit of rivalry on the part of Van Campen, induc- 
ing him either to confuse the state of facts connect- 
ed with this gallant exploit, or by misrepresentation, 
to have diminished its thrilling character. There 
was gloiy enough for them all. 

I knew Abraham Pike well, and towards the close 



COLONEL JENKINS' MEMORANDUM. 215 

of his life, I made several attempts to get liis version 
of this startling adventure; but he became extremely- 
intemperate in his old age, and his mind was im- 
paired and his eye wandered in vacancy, and he 
failed to give a satisfactory statement. But his ac- 
count of the aifair, as I have heard it from others, 
agrees substantially with that given by Rogers. 

I am inclined to make him the hero of the trans- 
action, and I think the facts fully sustain the con- 
clusion. 

Colonel Jenkins — and who by the way may be 
regarded as a safe authority, a man of much intelli- 
gence, and one of the leading men in those days in 
the valley — says in a memorandum made by him at 
the time : " Pike, and two men from Fishing Creek, 
and two boys that were taken by the Indians, made 
their escape by rising on the ground, killed three, and 
the rest took to the woods and left the prisoners with 
twelve guns," etc. 

This statement very nearly agrees with the ac- 
count of Mr. Eogers which I have given, with the 
exception of making one prisoner more and one In- 
dian killed, less. 

Van Campen, as late as 1837, in his petition to 
Congress for a pension, — in which he gives a narrative 
of the transaction, — ^represents himself as the prin- 
cipal man, giving Pence some credit, but stating 
that the others were terrified and inactive. At this 
time he was the only survivor, and the mouths of 



216 HISTOEICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

his fellow-prisoners were sealed. We can afford to 
allow an old man — and at the time in poverty — con- 
siderable of a margin, but we can hardly justify him 
in so gross a misrepresentation of the case. Mr. Mi- 
ner thinks " there was honor enough for all, and that 
there could be no motive but excessive self-glorification 
for representing Pike and Rogers as cowards." 

Rogers does not pretend that he took an active 
part in the melee, but the share assigned to him — 
considering that he was but a lad of fourteen years — 
was performed with great adroitness and uncommon 
courage. 

The statements of Pike and Rogers connected 
with the journal of Colonel Jenkins, agreeing with 
them in the main features, must establish the true 
history of the matter. 

Reviewing the whole subject from this stand- 
point, it presents a case of the exhibition of won- 
derful courage based upon a cool, deliberate, and daring 
resolution. This fearless and courageous act, accom- 
panied at about the same time by a corresponding 
one by Bennett and the prisoners arrested with him 
in Kingston, and attended with nearly the same re- 
sults, served as a salutary check to Indian incursions. 
While prisoners were taken afterwards, there were no 
such acts of brutality attending them as were prac- 
tised by the band who arrested Pike and his com- 
panions. 

Poor old Abraham Pike, who had been a ser- 



ABRAHAM PIKE. 217 

geant in the British army — a soldier of the Revolu- 
tion — fought bravely in the Wyoming battle ; a scout 
for Sullivan's army in its expedition into the Indian 
country, became in the latter years of his life a wan- 
dering mendicant, going from door to door for charity, 
and finally died a pauper, by the roadside, November 
eleventh, 1834, with no kindly hand even to close 
his eyes after his spirit had departed. His habits of 
extreme intemperance in his old age had blasted and 
destroyed a mind quick, discriminating, and very 
sensitive to honor ; and utterly prostrated a stout 
and well-knit frame, which in its hour of develop- 
ment had undergone great hardships and endured 
the most oppressive fatigues. 

It is probable that there is no one left in the val- 
ley who can point out the spot where repose the bones 
of the old " Indian killer." 

Jonah Rogers remained in Plymouth till within a 
few years before his death, when he removed to the 
Township of Huntington. He was a man highly re- 
spected, as also a man of comfortable means. His 
death occurred about the year 1825, ; hough as to 
this, I speak only from vague memory. Plis residence 
was upon the back road, about midway between those 
of the late Calvin Wadhams and Captain James Nes- 
bitt. But I suppose this designation will hardly be 
intelligible to the majority of the people of Plymouth 
of this day. 

Pike may be said to have had no residence during 



218 HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

the last years of liis life. He was a wanderer, and 
while his citizenship was in our town, the blue vault 
of heaven was the roof, and the solid earth the floor, 
of liis cabin. 

There is one circumstance which is related both 
by Pike and Kogers, which does not reflect much 
credit upon Yan Campen, and weakens materially his 
credibility in the narrative which he furnishes us. 

On the night of their escape from the Indian 
camp, Eogers became so disabled that he could not 
walk. Van Campen proposed to leave the boy in the 
wilderness, and the rest of them make their journey 
without him. To this proposition Pike solemnly pro- 
tested, and said " that he would carry the boy back 
to his parents or he would die with him." And he 
accordingly took him upon his shoulders, and thus 
saved him from desertion, and very likely, from death. 

Probably this circumstance should not now be 
noted, as all the parties are dead; and my only excuse 
is that Van Campen, in his published statement, 
deliberately branded Pike and Kogers T\^th cowardice. 

The capture and arrest of the two Messrs. Harvey, 
Colonel Kansom and the two young women, Louis 
Harvey and Lucy BuUford, are not involved in any 
questions of doubt or perplexity. 

Benjamin Harvey was an aged man at the battle 
of Nanticoke, December twenty-fifth, 1775. He had 
three sons, Benjamin, of Captain Eansom's Indepen- 
dent Company, Revolutionary service, who died at 



BENJAMIN HAKVET. 219 

Valley Forge from the severity of the winter; Silas, 
who fell in Captain Whittlesey's company at the bat- 
tle of Wyoming; and Elisha, father of the gentleman 
of that name, and till very recently a resident of Ply- 
mouth. 

Old Benjamin Harvey resided in 1780 in a log 
house standing on a little elevated spot on the north 
side of the main road, opposite the old Indian burial- 
ground, and between the Christian Church edifice and 
the small stream I have heretofore noticed. 

On a cool evening on the sixth of December, 1780, 
the elder Mr. Harvey, his son Elisha, Miss Lucy Bull- 
ford and his daughter Louis, and George Palmer 
Ransom, were seated around a bright wood fire in the 
house I have named. Colonel Ransom was then a 
young man of some twenty years, of pleasant personal 
address, had been with his father in the Revolution- 
ary war acting in the capacity of orderly-sergeant, and 
gained some credit for his valor at Millstone, Bound- 
brook, Germantown and Brandy wine. On this even- 
ing he put on his best regimentals and went up to 
Mr. Harvey's, as he has frequently told the wi-iter, " a 
sparking." Now this word, which in old times meant 
the civil attentions of a young gentleman to a young 
lady with a view of marriage, if all things went on 
mutually agreeable, is not i:)robably quite so euphoni- 
ous as our word courting, yet still its significance is 
entitled to the same consideration. 

Our young soldier, dressed in his blue coat, with 



220 HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

buff lappels and gilt buttons, had just made bis 
best bow and laid aside his cocked hat, when there 
was a gentle knock at the door; but while the knock 
was just audible, the party inside knew that it did not 
proceed from the knuckles of a closed hand. There 
was a shriller tone to the sound, very much as though 
it were made with the head of a tomahawk. The 
practised ear becomes very sensitive in discriminating 
sounds. 

The party about the fire looked at each other, and 
read in each others looks " the cause of that alarm." 
Old Mr. Harvey broke the silence by saying, " they 
had better invite them in, as resistance might make 
the matter worse;" and as the gentle knock was again 
repeated, he bade them enter. 

A band of six Indians came in, and immediately 
bound the whole party and set out towards Canada. 
This was the route the Indian always travelled with 
his bale of scalps, or with his prisoners of war. There 
his friends resided, and there his human peltry 
brought a better price than in any other market of the 
world, barbarous or enlightened. 

Arriving on the top of the Shawnee mountain — 
and out of danger of immediate pursuit — the party 
made a halt for consultation. Of the Indians, one of 
them was past middle age, two others were some years 
younger, and the remaining three were mere youths, 
this probably being one of thei" first expeditions. 
To the credit of humanity, this consultation re- 



RELEASE OF THE YOUNG WOMEN, 221 

suited in the release of the two young women. The 
old chief taking them aside from the rest of the party, 
painted their faces in true Indian style, and dis- 
charged them in the dark and gloomy wilderness, with 
directions to go to Colonel Butler, and tell him that 
" / put 011 this paint." To this they did not, of 
course, take exceptions; so parting with their friends, 
whom they never again expected to see, they c im- 
menced their descent down the mountain, arriving at 
the fort at Wilkes-Barre on the following morning. 
The cannon was fired as the signal of alarm, but the 
captors and the captured were by this time far on their 
journey, and out of the sound even of the signal which 
fell upon the ears of the people of the valley as a no- 
tification, that somebody had been murdered or car- 
ried into captivity; a sound that not unfrequently in- 
formed them of terrible deeds as well as reminded 
them of human suffering and woe during the three 
years immediately succeeding that fearful massacre 
upon the Wyoming battle-field. The report of the 
cannon meant torture, death or bondage. 

The Indians and their prisoners moved on their 
trail after the girls had been released. The inclem- 
ency of the weather, or the snows and th > wilderness 
were obstacles not to be considered. They travelled 
on that night, and the close of the day which fol- 
lowed brought the party to the head waters of the 
Mehoopany Creek, which empties into the Susquehan- 
na, some fifteen miles above Tunkharmock. 



222 HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

Benjamin Harvey was an old, feeble man, and not 
able to meet the exposures he had already incurred. 
He was nearly seventy years of age. It was evident 
that he could not endure the march on the following 
morning. 

After spending the cold and chilly night of De- 
cember as they best could, in the morning the Indians 
held a council of war as to what was to be done with 
old Mr. Harvey. The value of his scalp in the British 
market preponderated the scale against his life. The 
savages bound him to a tree with thongs, and fastened 
his head in a position that he could neither move to 
the right nor to the left. The old chief then meas- 
ured off the ground some three rods, called the three 
young braves, and placing a tomahawk in the hand of 
each and stepping aside, pointed his finger to the head 
of the old man. All this was done in silence and 
without the least emotion depicted upon their stoic 
countenances. 

The first one hurled his tomahawk — after giving 
two or three flourishes in the air — with a piercing 
whoop. It fastened itself in the tree, five or six 
inches above the old man's head. The second and 
third made the same efibrt, but with Kke efiect ! The 
whole Indian party now became furious; the young 
warriors, for their want of skill in this, probably their 
first effort, and the older ones from some other im- 
pulse. An angry scene ensued, and they came nearly 
to blows. The old chief approached the victim, un- 



BENJAMIN HARVEY. 223 

loosened his bands, and j)ointing to the trail they had 
passed over, told him to "go." The rest of the party- 
moved sullenly on their way, and old Mr. Harvey 
took his. 

The old gentleman in giving an account of this said, 
" that as each tomahawk came whizzing through the 
air, it seemed as though it could not but split his 
head in two. That so far as he could understand 
from the Indian dispute — having some knowledge of 
their language, though imperfect — the old chief took 
the ground that " the Great Spirit had interfered and 
prevented his death," while the others imputed it 
wholly to the unpractised hands of the young braves, 
and that "the Great Spirit had no hand in the 
matter." The stubborn will of the old sachem, how- 
ever, prevailed, and though in the minority, his coun- 
sel in the affair decided the issue. 

Mr. Harvey, thi-ough fatigue and weariness, and 
the effect of the terrible shock to his nerves, became 
bewildered, and after travelling the whole day found 
himself at night at the point from which he had set 
out on that fearful morning. Overcome with exhaus- 
tion, he rekindled the fire at the encampment of the 
night before, and on the following morning started 
with a better prospect, as he thought, of finding his 
way out of the woods. 

He wandered the most of that day without any 
better prospect, and by this time hunger began to 
make loud demands upon his already exhausted 



224 HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

frame. Towards evening a small dog came to him. 
This was a subject of alarm as well as comfort. He 
did not know who might be the owner of the poor 
creature. The dog stuck to his new friend, as he 
supposed, i. e., if instinct can form conclusions — 
a matter somewhat doubted now, but may not al- 
ways be. 

On the third morning, still travelling without any 
idea of his whereabouts, following the example of 
Byron's shij)wrecked crew who dined upon poor "Pe- 
drillo," he made a meal of his new friend, saving the 
remainder of the carcass for future necessities'. On 
the fourth day, however, he came to the river, and 
getting upon a float, arrived safely at the fort at 
Wilkes-Barre, where he met his daughter and Miss 
Bullford, with whom he had parted on the Shawnee 
mountain. 

Our Indians travelled on with Eansom and Elisha 
Harvey towards their point of destination. The only 
incidents I shall notice were, that the old chief would 
make Ransom, who was a good marksman, shoot a 
horse or two on their long journey for their commissa- 
riat, and require him to make the fires and prepare 
tlie banquet, giving him secretly now and then, as a 
mark of especial favor, a pinch of salt with which to 
flavor his diet of horse meat ! The regimentals made 
an easy disposition of Ransom; when they reached the 
British lines he was handed over to the servants of 
King Greorge, and sent to a prison at Montreal. Foi 



ELISHA HARVEY. 225 

the present we leave him and follow Harvey to the 
far distant waters of Green Bay. 

Harvey had not yet reached his majority; he was 
about seventeen years of age. Young, sprightly and 
active, he won upon the good opinion of his master, 
who proved to be a sachem of the Seneca tribe, and 
had been with his people two years before at the Wy- 
oming battle. The three young Indians were noviti- 
ates, whom this brave had taken out on their first 
expedition. It was well for old Mr. Harvey that they 
had not yet become proficient in hurling the toma- 
hawk. 

During the remainder of the winter our prisoner 
remained with the Seneca chief, and in the spring fol- 
lowing, a large Indian party set out for Green Bay to 
spend the summer and following autumn in hunting 
game. 

The expedition turned out very favorably, and in 
the beginning of winter the party returned to Mon- 
treal. Here the Indians disposed of their furs, but 
in the course of a month they had used up the pro- 
ceeds in riot and dissipation. Our Seneca brave be- 
gan casting about for a market for his prisoner, which 
he found became necessary, as he had not the means 
of subsistence for himself, much less for poor Harvey. 

He finally stumbled on a Scotchman, who was a 
small dealer in Indian commodities, and after a half 
day's bantering and talk, in which the good qualities 
of Harvey were highly extolled by the old chief, they 



226 HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

at last settled upon the price to be paid for Elisha, 
which was a half-barrel of rum ! 

He now went behind the counter of his new mas- 
ter, and was duly installed in the mysteries and se- 
crets of an Indian trader. Among the first lessons 
he learned the important fact that the hand weighed 
two pounds and the foot four ! Under this system of 
avoirdupois there never occurred any fractions. The 
weight always came out in even pounds ! Human 
peltry went by the piece; the peltry of beasts by the 
pound. Our Scotch merchant did not deal in the 
former; the depot for it was over the way, and a gen- 
tleman with a red coat and lace collar stood at the 
counter, in that estabhshment, to wait on his cus- 
tomers. 

Our prisoner became a great favorite with his new 
master, who was a bachelor, and promised to make 
him the heir of his estate if he would assume his 
name and become his child by adoj)tion. EHsha 
openly favored the idea, but his secret thoughts were 
centred on old Shawnee. He managed to communi- 
cate with his family; and his father, in 1782, pro- 
cured his exchange for a British prisoner held at the 
Wilkes-Barre fort by Colonel Butler. 

The authority upon which this exchange was 
made is still in existence — a venerable looking 
paper, now in the custody of Jameson Harvey, the 
son of our prisoner, and which he has permitted me 
to copy. 



RELEASE OF ELISHA HARVEY. 227 

" These certify that Adam Bowman, now a pris- 
oner of war to the United States of America, was 
taken by the Inhabitants of Westmoreland and 
brought to this Garrison some time in 1780, when I 
commanded this post; and upon application made to 
me by Mr. Benjamin Harvey, for the prisoner, to send 
him to Montreal in exchange for his son there, and 
yet in captivity. Which request I granted, and Mr. 
Harvey, at his own expense, did take the prisoner from 
this place to Saratoga for the above purpose. I have 
been informed that he has for some reason been sent 
from there down to West Point, or its vicinity, and I 
should yet request that Mr. Harvey may be indulged 
with the prisoner for the purpose of redeeming his son. 
"Zeb'n Butler, ^th Connecticut Begiment. 
''July 29th, 1782. 
" To the officers in whose custody the prisoner may be " 

From the date of Colonel Butler's order, it will be 
seen that Elisha Harvey had been a prisoner for nearly 
two years. In the first eflbrt of conducting Bowman 
from Wilkes-Barre to Canada, it appears that under 
some question of the legality of his papers, the pris- 
oner had been taken from him on his arrival at Sara- 
toga and sent to West Point. Uj)on the return of 
Mr. Harvey, and procuring the letter already re- 
corded, he went back to West Point, and taking Bow- 
man with him to Montreal, procured the release and 
exchange of his son. 



228 HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

Notwithstanding the many hair-breadth escapes 
of Elisha Harvey, it was his destiny to die a natural 
death in Plymouth, at his long-occupied and peaceful 
home, in the lower end of the town, in March, 1800. 
I am not able to say whether the old stone tenement still 
stands; probably not, as progress has big eyes glaring 
in every direction where a dollar can be made, without 
regard to the memory of the living or the dead; and 
it would be exceedingly strange if what was once the 
rather aristocratical stone mansion, in early days, of 
Elisha Harvey, had not disappeared. I do not like to 
make the inquiry whether the old house still stands. 
I am afraid that along with the old threshing-floor 
and the stone barricade, between the two chestnuts, 
this too had disappeared under the itching palms of 
modern levelling hands. 

And now let us visit Montreal and find what has 
become of our prisoner in the Continental uniform — 
the boy who went " a sparking " at a terrible discount, 
as the sequel too plainly showed. 

Ransom and the other American prisoners at Mon- 
treal were removed in February, 1781, to Prisoner's 
Island, situate some fifty miles above Montreal ; and 
as an account of this imprisonment was given at 
length by Colonel Ransom to Mr. Miner, which was 
reduced to writing at the time, and pubHshed un- 
der the head of " The Hazleton Travellers," I shall 
give his text up to that time, in the narrative, when he 
swam the St. Lawrence; from that up to his restora- 



COLONEL ransom's STATEMENT. 229 

tion to his friends, and as to subsequent events,! shall 
rely on my own memory, as I have frequently heard 
them from his own lips, being his next door neighbor 
for a period of twenty years, and intimately ac- 
quainted with him for more than thirty years. 

He says: — "In February, 1781, I was in Canada, 
forty-five miles up the St. Lawrence river from Mon- 
treal, on an island with about one hundred and sixty- 
six American prisoners. We were guarded by the ref- 
ugees, or what was called Tories, who belonged to Sir 
John Johnson's Second Kegiment. The commanding 
officer of the guard on the island was a young Scotch 
officer by the name of MacAlpin, about eighteen 
years of age. The winter was very severe, and a great 
snow-storm drifted before the door of the guard, who 
sent for some of the American prisoners to shovel it 
away. They refused, saying that they were prisoners 
of war, and he had no right to set them to work for 
his pleasure. Enraged at this, the officer ordered 
them into irons, and directed others to get shovels and 
go to work; these also refused, and were put in irons. 

" So he went on commanding and meeting with 
resolute disobedience to what they considered a tyran- 
nical order. They had taken up arms and perilled 
their lives to resist British tyranny, and would not 
now, though prisoners, submit to it. Some were 
ironed together; thus he kept putting into irons as 
long as he had handcuffs left. Among the last who 
refused were myself and one William Palmeters. We 



230 HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

were tlien put into an open house, without door, floor 
or windows, and directions given that we should have 
neither victuals, brandy nor tobacco; but our faithful 
friends contrived to evade the guard, and we were 
furnished with all. There we remained all night, suf- 
fering extremely from the cold. 

" The next morning MacAlpin came, thinking our 
spirits were broken, and demanded if we would not 
shovel snow.^ One word all answered: 'Not by order 
of a d — d Tory ! ' He then took us out of that place 
and put us in a hut just finished, with a good floor, 
and we sent for a black man, a good fiddler, for we 
had two on the island. We then opened our ball, 
dancing, to keep ourselves warm, jigs, hornpipes, four 
and six-handed reels. Where four were ironed to one 
bar, they could dance the cross-handed, or what we 
called the York reel. 

" We continued in this merry mood till our Scotch 
gentleman found the place was too good for us. He 
then took us out and put us into the loft of one of the 
huts, which stood so low that a man could stand up 
only under the centre of the ridge. Here we were kept 
in extreme sufiering two days and two nights. In the 
mean time MacAlpin sent for Charles Grandison, our 
fiddler, and ordered him to play for his pleasure. The 
black went, but firmly declared that he would not play 
wliile his fellow-piisoners were in irons. The ofiicer 
then ordered a kind of court-martial, composed of 
Tories, who of course brought in the poor negro guilty. 



COLONEL ransom's STATEMENT. 231 

The sentence of the court was that he should be 
stripped, tied up, and receive ten lashes on his naked 
back, which was done. Smarting with the lash, the 
officer then demanded if he would fiddle as he was or- 
dered ? ' No, not while my fellow-prisoners are in 
irons ! ' Again he was tied up and ten lashes laid on, 
but his firmness was not to be shaken, and the officer 
sent him to his hut, 

" MacAlpin then sent a party of soldiers to bring 
up some of the prisoners, several of whom were flogged 
severely; and one, against whom the Tories had a par- 
ticular spite, was tied neck and heels, and a rope put 
around his neck, and he was thus drawn up to the 
chamber floor and so kept till he was almost dead — 
let down and then drawn up again. 

" One John Albright, a Continental soldier, was 
flogged almost to death for being a kind-hearted man 
and speaking his mind freely. But no American was 
found to shovel snow. 

" We remained here till the ninth of June, when 
myself and two others, James Butterfield and John 
Brown, made our escape from the island and laid our 
course for Lake Champlain. On the eleventh, at noon, 
we came to the lake, and three days after we got to 
Hubbardstown, Vermont; the next day to Castleton, 
to a fort; from that to Pultney, where I had an uncle 
living. My companions went to Albany and I to Con- 
necticut." 



232 HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

This statement of facts, in a plain way, gives the 
reader an idea of the gross and barbarous character of 
the times as well as the severe trials to which the 
people of the last century were exposed — and es- 
pecially that part of them who fell under the denomi- 
nation of rebels. The gracious influences which were 
produced by the elevation of the masses, in after times, 
had not then become visible. The freedom of man 
was the severe taunt and ridicule of tyrants. And if 
the man of the lower orders asserted a single privilege 
with which nature endowed him, he became the es- 
pecial object of persecution. We have abundant oc- 
casion to thank the All Wise ruler of the universe 
that in his Providence the result of the American Ee- 
bellion placed man upon a. solid, and, it is to be hoped, 
a perpetual foundation of equality. 

And as we, the descendants of the bold and fear- 
less men who had the courage to proclaim the princi- 
ples of freedom in the face and teeth of tyranny, are 
now the recipients of the vast and indefinable bless- 
ings which flow from the effort, should we not only 
cherish but revere the memory of the men who were 
the direct cause of it all ? 

Colonel Kansom's statement, so far given, has but 
little reference to himself The trials he passed 
through in his escape from the island during the three 
days and three nights in the wilderness, before reach- 
ing Lake Champlain, are not given. 



IN THE WILDEKNESS. 233 

He passed from the island with Butterfield and 
Brown upon a rude raft which they had been for sev- 
eral days collecting the materials of, and concealing by 
day in the sand npon the beach from the observation 
of the sentinel ! When they reached the American 
shore they were in a state of great exhaustion. . They 
had been able to procure but little food, and were 
chilled through by the exposure upon the water, their 
little raft with its human freight being a foot or more 
submerged. When they landed, a vast wilderness lay 
before them, and they were to make their experi- 
mental journey without chart or compass. It was a 
wilderness that had not yet been penetrated but by 
wild beasts and savage men. They had made the 
desperate effort to regain their freedom, and great ob- 
stacles lay in their path; but they were young and 
had the power of endurance, and so they left the 
river and entered the forest before them. The thick 
underbrush and swamps which they encountered 
made it almost impossible at times to proceed. The 
first day exhausted their slender stock of provisions, 
with their keen appetite but half appeased. They 
travelled with forked sticks, and with these they cap- 
tured snakes and frogs, upon which they sustained 
life. From fatigue and hunger one of the party gave 
out, and declared that he could go no further. They 
halted at a spring, and providing their sinking com- 
panion with some vermin, they built a brush covering 
to protect him at night, and shook hands with tears 



234 HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

in their eyes, and without speaking a word they sep- 
arated. 

" The heart feels most when the lips move not." 

Towards the close of their last day in the wilder- 
ness, as they approached a trail or obscure path, they 
saw two poor and half-starved horses browsing upon 
the sparse herbage. Daylight had partially dawned. 
Here was food. The first thought was to kill one of 
them and satiate their ravenous cravings of appetite. 
The second thought was to mount the horses, and by 
giving them their own road, they might conduct them 
to some habitation. This they adopted. The horses 
brought them to a log hut not far distant, the only 
occupant present being an old woman. Upon the 
representation of their condition, she gave them each 
a half pint of milk, mixed with an equal quantity of 
water, and a mouthful of bread only. 

They laid themselves upon the floor, but they 
were awakened in the night by the most voracious 
cravings of appetite. They aroused the old woman. 
The small quantity of food she had given them only 
enkindled the raging fire in their stomachs, and had 
not in the least degree assuaged it. They told her that 
she must give them some more milk, that they could 
not live, and their words of entreaty assumed the 
language of threats. " Well," said she, with much 
composure, seated by the rude hearth, with the dim 
light flickering up now and then, where she had 



IN THE WILDERNESS. 235 

posted herself as a kind and protecting guardian, 
"you may have what I've got to eat, and you may 
dispose of it at once, but mind you, I wash my hands 
of the murder which will he the result." This made 
us ashamed of our conduct, and "we apologized to 
the good old soul." 

They finally compromised with the old lady " for 
three swallows of milk each, unmixed with water, and 
a piece of bread for each the size of one's hand." 

" But," as I have time and time again heard it 
from the old gentleman's lips, " such swallows have 
never been repeated since that day when the whale 
engulfed poor Jonah ! I would not have exchanged 
my chances at that bowl for one of the same size 
filled with diamonds." 

By degrees the woman of the log hut restored 
them to their usual condition. Her husband had 
gone to the settlement, some twenty miles away, for 
food for their household. The John Frankhn of the 
wilderness, or more properly, the Daniel Boone of the 
frontier. 

But while they were here the companion whom 
they had left behind them, recovering from the stupor 
in which they had left him, and reinvigorated by his 
refreshing diet of vermin, took up their trail and 
joined them again — an event as unexpected when 
they separated as though the dead were to come to 
Hfe. 

In this connection I must name one incident fresh 



236 HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

in my mind : " One day/' said the old gentleman, 
"faint and famished by hunger, sitting upon a de- 
cayed fallen tree, I saw a small striped snake make 
its appearance from under it. I fastened my eyes 
upon the reptile and made a pass to catch it, but get- 
ting hold near the tail in the struggle, with the tight 
grip I gave, it separated, leaving me with six or eight 
inches of its little end in my hand; the rest of the 
body disappeared under the tree. At this misfortune 
I cried like a great booby." 

In a couple of days or so of kind attention by 
this good Samaritan woman, they were all fully re- 
stored, and being now out of the wilderness, they 
begged their way to their different destinations. 
Butterfield and Brown went to Albany, and Ransom 
to Litchfield, Connecticut. 

Soon after this. Colonel Ransom returned to the 
valley, joined his company — Captain SjDalding's — 
went from here to West Point, where he remained to 
the end of the Revolutionaiy struggle, and was hon- 
orably discharged. He was not in the battle of Wy- 
oming. He was with Spalding's company on Pocono 
the day of the battle, and thus escaped that carnage. 
He was here afterwards and helped to collect the mu- 
tilated bodies upon the battle-field. He said " there 
were but few of them that we could recognize; the 
stench was very offensive; we put them on sledges 
with pitchforks and shovels, and hauled them to one 
common grave and put them into it." The body of 



COLONEL RANSOM. 237 

his father they found near Fort Wintermoot, with a 
musket shot in the thigh and his head severed from 
his shoulders, and his whole body scarred with gashes. 
He says, "I counted twenty-seven mutilated bodies 
around Queen Esther's Rock — old men and lads of 
fifteen." Scattered over the field they lay in a state 
of far-advanced decomposition. In all cases the 
Bcalp was removed. 

The winter after the battle he obtained a furlough. 
He stayed with his mother and family at the old Ply- 
mouth homestead, the chief subsistence of them all 
being the milk of one cow. The loss of the entire 
crop of that season, with the effects of the Indian and 
Tory devastations, comj^letely deprived the people of 
food and nearly of raiment. 

Colonel Ransom was born in Canaan, Litchfield 
county, Connecticut, in 1761. This was the same 
town in which Franklin was born, and there was ever 
a strong intimacy between the two families. His 
father was chosen a " Selectman " for Plymouth, at a 
town meeting for Westmoreland, on the second of 
March, 1774. He probably came here in 1771 or 
1772. 

The following anecdote, which I have often heard 
repeated, I will give in the language of Dr. Peck, as 
it is very cleverly related by that gentleman : 

" Wliile in one of the old taverns in Wilkes- 
Ban-e" (Arndt's he might have added), " when 
quite advanced in years, he heard a windy young man 



238 HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

speak very disrespectfully of General Washington. 
The General, he said, was not a great man nor a great 
soldier, but had taken advantage of fortunate circum- 
stances to palm himself off upon the world as such. 
This was more than the old soldier could bear, and he 
lifted his cane and felled the impudent young sprig to 
the floor. The whipped puppy prosecuted the Colonel 
for assault and battery. 

" When the cause came on, Colonel Eansom ap- 
peared in court without advocate, and simply pleaded 
guilty, and flung himself on the mercy of the Court. 
Hon. David Scott was Presiding Judge, his associates 
were the venerable Matthias HoUenback and Jesse 
Fell. Judge Scott remarked : ' This is a case which 
T choose to leave to my associates, as they are old sol- 
diers, and can fully appreciate the circumstances of 
the case,' and then left his seat. Judge HoUenback 
asked Colonel Ransom 'where he was at such a date V 
The answer was, ' in my father's company in Washing- 
ton's army.' 'And where on the third of July, 
1778 T Answer. ' With Captain Spalding, on my 
way to Wyoming.' ' And where the following sum- 
mer V Answer. ' With General Sullivan in the Lake 
country flogging the Indians.' 'And where the next 
fall and winter,^' Answer. ' A prisoner on the St. 
Lawrence !' ' Ah !' said the Judge, ' all that is true 
enough, Colonel Ransom. And did you knock the 
fellow down, Colonel .^' 'I did so, and would do it 
again under like provocation,' was the answer. ' What 



COLONEL RANSOM. 239 

was the provocation ?' asked the Judge. ' The rascal 
abused the name of General Washington/ was the an- 
swer. The Judge coolly said, ' Colonel Ransom, the 
judgment of the Court is that you pay a fine of one 
cent, and that the j)rosecutor j)ay the costs !' This 
sentence was followed by a roar of applause." 

My earliest recollection of Colonel Ransom brings 
back to my mind a stout built, square-shouldered man 
about five feet eight inches high, light complexion 
and blue eyes. I remember when he was the colonel 
of a militia regiment, and have been present at his 
annual regimental parades. He was then in the 
prime of life, probably not over fifty years of age. He 
had a pleasant and agreeable manner, very communi- 
cative, and was a most obliging neighbor. He was a 
man who liked mirth, and nobody enjoyed a joke 
better than he. He was quiet and peaceable; a man 
of thoroughly domestic habits. He raised a large 
family of children and brought them up respectably, 
giving them all a good common school education. 

I never knew him, during my long acquaintance, 
to have been more than twice in the court; one occa- 
sion I have already noticed, the other was in a civil 
suit. 

In the last ten years of his life he became feeble, 
and would hobble about his premises with a cane in 
each hand. His house was always open to hospital- 
ity, and no man more thoroughly and keenly relished 
a convivial assemblage than he. He possessed the 
15 



240 HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

highest sense of honor. His long training in the rev- 
olutionary service made him very punctilious in his 
intercourse. His word was his bond. 

He lived to a very advanced age; he died in 1850, 
in the full enjoyment of his mental faculties. He was 
therefore in his eighty-ninth year. I attended his 
funeral. "We buried him with military honors at the 
cemetery near Boss Hill, And when the smoke of 
the musketry over his last resting-place cleared away, 
and we moved off in silence from his grave, the re- 
flection came home to the heart of one at least I know, 
that we had consigned to earth a man of many virtues, 
and whose strong arm and resolute will had made 
their impression in the frame work and superstructure 
of Free and Republican America. 

Daniel McDowal, one of our townspeople, was 
canied away by the Indians to Niagara some time in 
1872; but I am unable to ascertain where his resi- 
dence was located. A daughter of his married Gene- 
ral Samuel McKean, of Bradford county, and at one 
time a Senator from this State in Congress. I cannot 
say either how long he was held in captivity. 

Mr. Miner mentions the capture at the same time 
of the arrest of the two Harveys, Bansom, and the 
two girls, Louis Harvey and Lucy Bullford, of Na- 
than Bullock, Jonathan Frisby, James Frisby, Man- 
asah Cady, and George Palmer. I am inclined to 
think there is an error in this statement. The name 
of Bullock has been confounded with Bullford, and 




i*>' 



COLONEL GEORGE P. R A N S O 31.— Taken- at S5. 



SAMUEL RANSOM. 241 

that of George Palmer, with George Palmer Ransom. 
This, however, would not explain the matter as to the 
two Frisbys and Cady. But as he fixes the same 
date, December sixth, 1780, of the capture of Ran- 
som and his party, he is most certainly incorrect. 

It is not surprising by any means that this confu- 
sion may have occurred in the multiplicity of facts 
that Mr. Miner grouped together for the material of 
his history. 

The only remaining instance of Indian atrocity 
committed on our people of which we have knowl- 
edge, was that upon Samuel Ransom, brother of 
George P. Ransom. The house of his deceased father 
was attacked on the tenth of March, 1781, in the 
night, the following spring after his brother had been 
carried into captivity. 

Being aware that the house was surrounded by 
Indians, he took his gun and walked out; the moon 
shining brightly, the Indians discovered him and fired 
upon him, breaking one of his arms. He coolly and 
deliberately rested his gun against the house, and 
with his remaining arm fired and brought down his 
man. This success, accompanied by the discharge of 
a gun, at random, within the house, by Jonah Rog- 
ers, at the same time, induced the marauding party to 
fly, leaving their dead comrade upon the field. 



CHAPTER IX. 

THE WAR OF 1812. 

SOON after the commencement of the war of 1812, 
between the United States and Great Britain, a 
volunteer company, principally composed of Kingston 
men, with a few from Plymouth, under the command 
of Captain Samuel Thomas, offered their services to 
the United States government and were accepted. 

This company, on the thirteenth of April, 1813, 
embarked on board of a boat at Shupp's Eddy, in the 
upper part of Plymouth, on their way to join Gen- 
eral Harrison's army on the western frontier. They 
numbered thirty-one men. They proceeded to Dan- 
ville in their boat, and thence they went overland to 
Lake Erie. In passing through Bedford county, Cap- 
tain Thomas procured the addition of thirty-seven 
recruits", and in Fayette twenty-seven more, thus 
making his full complement of ninety-four men. 

On their arrival at Erie, the company (artillery) 
of Captain Thomas was attached to a Pennsylvania 
regiment under Colonel Reese Hill. 

Of this company the following were Plymouth 
men : Abraham Roberts, John Blane, Festus Free- 
man, James Devans and William Pace. 

The company had not been long at the point of 

(242) 



OVEK THE BAR. 243 

their destination before they had occasion to test their 
courage. 

The harbor of Presque Isle — now Eirie — contained 
a part of Perry's squadron upon the lake, which had 
been built there, but which could not join the rest of 
the fleet. A bar extended across the mouth of the 
harbor, and the British fleet under Barclay had no 
trouble in a contest for the supremacy of the lake, 
while the fleet of Perry was thus divided. Perry 
made a desperate effort to reach the harbor in order 
to form a union of his fleet. He accomplished it; 
but in this he was materially aided by the cannonade 
from the shore of Captain Thomas' battery; and as 
these shots were answered from the British squadron, 
a lively cannonade was kept up for some time, and 
for the coolness and courage of Captain Thomas' men, 
they received especial commendation. 

In consequence of the bar, however. Perry could 
not get his heavy ships out, and dared not meet the 
enemy without them. To his great relief, however, 
Barclay moved to the Canada shore, not supposing 
that his adversary was ready to go to sea. 

Perry immediately taking advantage of the ab- 
sence, passed his flag-ship, the Lawrence, and the 
Niagara, his largest vessels, over the bar with light- 
ers, the schooners following; and within twenty-four 
hours after the departure of Barclay, he had his ships 
ready for action. He lacked, however, his comple- 
ment of men. 



244 HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

And here comes in the Plymouth feature of the 
great battle of the Lakes, small, comparatively, it is 
true, but nevertheless so important as to be stamped 
upon medals of silver to be held in perpetual 
memory. 

The tenth of September was approaching, when 
the gallant young officer of but twenty-seven years 
was to measure swords with the mistress of the seas. 
The crews of his new ships were to be replenished. 
Time was short, and the slow progress of enlistment 
in the ordinary way would not meet the emergency. 
He sent an invitation ashore for volunteers to fully 
man his quarter-decks. The proportion which fell to 
Captain Thomas' company was four. He ordered out 
his company, read the request, and desired four men 
to volunteer Ky stepping four paces to the front. 

William Pace, Benjamin Hall, Godfrey Bowman, 
and James Bird advanced to the line of honor. They 
were immediately placed on board the Niagara. A 
thousand cheers for old Shawnee and Kingston. 
Kevolutionary sprouts ; they bore high aloft the fame 
of their ancestors. The blood of the Ransoms, the 
Hitrveys, the Gaylords, or the Bidlacks had not sod- 
dened the Wyoming battle-field in vain. The shore 
of Lake Erie was about to chronicle new feats of valor 
of men of the same soil, after the lapse of a third of 
a century. 

On the morning of the tenth of September, the 
British fleet of sixty-three guns weighed anchor in 



THE BATTLE OF LAKE ERIE. 245 

the port of Maiden, Perry, with his fleet of fifty- 
four guns, was waiting to meet it. He hoisted the 
flag upon his own vessel, on which were inscribed the 
last words of Commodore Lawrence : " Don't give 
UP THE Ship." This was the signal for action, and 
cheer upon cheer rolled down the line. 

When within a mile and a half of the enemy's 
)ine, the blast of a bugle came ringing over the water, 
the signal of battle. This was followed by a single 
gun, whose shot went bounding by the Lavvi-ence, and 
then followed the discharge of the long guns of the 
whole British squadron. Perry was unable to use his 
carronades, and was thus exposed for a half hour be- 
fore he could bring his guns within range. 

" Steering straight for the Detroit, a vessel a fourth 
larger than liis own, he gave orders for the schooners 
that lagged behind to close up within half cables' 
length. Those orders, the last he gave during the 
battle, were passed by trumpet from vessel to vessel; 
the light wind having nearly died away, the Lawrence 
sufiered severely before she could get near enough to 
open with her carronades, and she had scarcely taken 
her position before the fire of three vessels were di- 
rected upon her. Enveloped in flames and smoke, 
Perry strove desperately to maintain his ground till 
the rest of the fleet could close, and for two hours 
sustained, without flinching, this unequal contest. 
The balls crashed incessantly through the sides of the 
ship, dismounting the guns and strewing the deck 



246 HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

with the dead, until at length, with every trace and 
bowline shot away, she lay an unmanageable wreck on 
the waters. But still through the smoke, as it went 
before the heavy broadsides, her colors were seen fly- 
ing, and still gleamed forth in the sunlight that glo- 
rious motto : ' Don't give up the Ship ! ' Calm and 
unmoved at the slaughter around and his own des- 
perate situation. Perry gave his orders tranquilly as 
though executing a manoeuvre." — (Headley.) 

After every gun had been dismounted, and out of 
the one hundred men who entered the action with him 
but eighteen stood before him unwounded, when peer- 
ing through the smoke, he saw the Niagara, appar- 
ently uncrippled, drifting out of the battle. Leaping 
into a boat, he exclaimed: " If a victory is to be gained, 
I will gain it!" and amidst a perfect storm of shot and 
shell he boarded the Niagara, faced her about, and 
flung out his signal for close action. He immediately 
bore down upon the enemy's centre, reserving his fire 
till in the midst of the enemy's fleet; with the Detroit 
and Lady Provost withyi pistol shot on the right and 
left, he opened his broadside. Headley says, that " the 
shrieks that wrung out from the Detroit were heard 
even above the cannonade; while the crew of the Lady 
Provost, unable to stand the fire, ran below, leaving 
their wounded, stunned and bewildered commander 
alone on deck, leaning his face on his hand, and gazing 
vacantly on the passing ship." 

An action conducted in this manner could not last 



THE BATTLE OF LAKE ERIE, 247 

long, and within fifteen minutes after the desperate 
charge, the British flag struck — the proud and haugh- 
ty " Mistress of the Seas " had met more than her 
equal; and so Perry notched it down upon the tablets 
of history, before the smoke had cleared away, or 
the last echo of his guns rebounded from the shore : 
" We have met the enemy, and they are ours." 

One of the most brilliant naval engagements of 
the world, and the victory at the time was almost de- 
cisive of the war. Three hundred men were killed 
and wounded upon both sides. 

Our townsman, William Pace, has very fre- 
quently given me an account of the engagement, and 
as he would dilate upon the conduct of Perry and the 
terrible charge of the Niagara upon the two vessels, 
the little man's frame would shake with emotion. He 
assisted to raise Perry from his boat to the deck of 
the Niagara. He was also upon the Lawrence imme- 
diately after the action, and saw the fifty men, whose 
bodies were mangled, still lying there, the blood and 
gore covering the entire surface of the deck. 

The Legislature granted those^ who volunteered for 
the naval action and citizens of this State, silver 
medals. He brought me his in 1847, with the view of 
obtaining for him a pension. It is a circular plate, 
probably four inches in diameter, and the eighth of an 
inch in thickness. On one side is the raised profile 
likeness of the American commander, with the in- 
scription: " Presented by the Government of Penn- 



248 HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

sylvania. Oliver Hazard Perry; Pro patria vicit." 
Upon the other side : "To William Pace, in testi- 
mony of his patriotism and bravery, in the Naval en- 
gagement on Lake Erie, September Tenth, 1813." 

He was a short, thick-set little man, probably five 
feet four inches in height, with a pleasant smile gen- 
erally on his face. He remarked, " that so long as he 
had been able to support himself he would not accept 
a pension from his State; but now, as he was getting 
<)ld, he thought the State ought to assist him." And 
so I thought, and I sent the medal to General Boss, 
who was then our representative in the Senate of 
Pennsylvania, who procured the passage of a law on 
the fifteenth of March, 1847, granting him a pen- 
sion. 

Pace lived in the back part of Plymouth, known 
as Blindtown, at the time of his enlistment, and died 
but a few years since an humble and unpretending 
man; upriglit in his conduct, and held in the esteem 
and good opinion of all his neighbors. 

Our company was in several engagements before 
they were discharged. At the battle of the Thames 
the company behaved well under the command of 
Lieutenant Ziba Hoyt, who by the way was a most 
excellent and worthy citizen. Captain Thomas, being 
detained at Detroit with a part of the company and 
the field-guns, for its defense, the rest of the company, 
under Lieutenant Hoyt, followed the fleeing enemy to 
the Thames. 



LETTER FROM CAPTAIN THOMAS. 249 

They were honorably discharged after the expira- 
tion of the term for which they enlisted. 

During the time I was engaged in preparing these 
sketches for publication, I received the following very 
interesting letter from Captain Thomas, now a resi- 
dent of Wyoming, State of Illinois, and in good 
health at the age of eighty-five years. I insert the 
letter, as it will be not only a reminder of an old and 
valued acquaintance to the citizens of this county 
who knew him, and where he spent the greater part 
of his life, but also testimony of some of the facts 
about which I write. 

"Wyoming, Illinois, Nov. 23, 1871. 
'' Colonel H. B. Wright: 

" Deak Sir. — Mr. Charles Myers (formerly from Wilkes-Barre) 
brought to my notice a statement under your name, in the Luzerne 
Union of the first of this month, giving a short sketch of the com- 
pany that marched under my command to Lake Erie in the 
year 1813. 

" In reading your remarks it brought vividly to my mind all 
the circumstances of the part 1 had in that campaign, although 
fifty-eight years have passed, and the years of my age ■will be 
eighty-five on the second of February next. While you have given 
a more favorable as well as accurate account of the behavior of the 
company while in the service of our country than has been written 
or published, yet I see that you are in fault in some particulars. 

" One instance I mention : you state ' that the company march- 
ed with the army to the river Thames under the command of Lieu- 
tenant Hoyt.' This requires explanation. The fact is, that when 
we crossed the Lake and marched up opposite to the city of De« 
troit, the hostile Indians appeared in strong force on the bank of 
the river in a warlike and threatening attitude. I was ordered to 
cross the river with my company and drive the Indians from the 



250 HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

city, and to remain there and guard the place while the main army 
followed in the pursuit of the retreating enemy. This service was 
faithfully performed, although the Indians tried to prevent our 
landing, firing at us with their rifles ; but when we opened upon 
them with our field-guns, they scattered like a flock of sheep. 
While we were guarding the city we had several alarms, but the 
Indians finding us always in readiness to meet them, never ven- 
tured to come within reach of our guns. 

" I would like to relate many incidents that I recollect con- 
nected with this service, but I have been wholly out of the prac- 
tice of writing many years ; still, I must mention one circumstance. 
"We went down the Susquehanna on a board raft that Elihu Par- 
rish was taking to market. We ran into Shupp's Eddy, and landed, 
for the purpose of taking in some men in that vicinity who were 
members of my company. Among them was a man by the name 
of Moyer. All of them had got aboard of the raft but him, and we 
were impatient to get off. He did not come, and I went to his 
home near by to hurry him on. I opened the door and entered, 
when a scene presented itself that requires one of better descrip- 
tive powers than I have to describe. Moyer stood there in his uni- 
form, and apparently ready to march. His wife and a number of 
children surrounding him, crying bitterly, and as though their 
hearts would break at the parting — they literally held him so fast 
that he could not move. 

" James Bird, whose sad fate has been commemorated in song, 
was standing by, and seeing the family in such distress, it touched 
his generous sympathies, said to Moyer, * Give me your uni- 
form COAT AND I "WILL GO IN TOUR PLACE.' Moyer was so over- 
powered by the generous and noble act that he could not say a 
word, but silently took off his coat and gave it to Bird ; when we 
immediately went upon the raft and proceeded at once on our 
journey to Lake Erie. Very respectfully yours, 

"Samuel Thomas." 

The coiTGction of General Thomas is not very ma- 
terial. The point of discrepancy is, whether the 



JAMES BIRD. 251 

whole of his company passed over the river to De- 
troit, or a part of it only. The tradition of the aifair 
is that Lieutenant Hoyt, with a part of the company, 
left Captain Thomas at this place and proceeded on 
with the army to the Thames, and participated in the 
battle there. 

The noble conduct of poor Bird, in taking the 
military coat of Moyer and joining the company as a 
substitute, cost him his life, and that too under a 
state of facts that shocks the mind. It is true he was 
convicted of desertion, but it was not desertion 
through cowardice or a desire to shun the service of 
his country. It is, indeed, passing strange, how the 
man should have been convicted, or what the officer 
meant, in command, who could affirm such a finding. 

Bird was a patriot and a man of unquestioned 
courage. He had voluntarily left the ranks of his 
company and went on board the Niagara at the mo- 
ment, when every one knew that a desperate action 
was about to be fought. 

And when severely wounded, was ordered to " leave 
the deck" by Perry — 

" No," cried Bird, " I will not go, 
Here on deck I took my station : 
Ne'er will Bird his colors fly; 
I'll stand by you, gallant Captain, 
Till we conquer or we die I " 

This was the language of a man who a few days 
afterwards was condemned for desertion by a " drum- 



252 HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

head " court-martial and shot down like a dog ! And 
what was the charge ? Certainly not an offense that 
corresponded with the awful character of the penalty 
inflicted. Was it cowardice ? No. Was it a desire 
to flee the service "? No. It was charged upon him 
that he had deserted the ranks, but it was after the 
battle was fought and the victory won — a victory too 
that was sealed by his blood. 

I well remember, though then but a lad of six 
years of age, that the report of the execution of this 
man sent a thrill through this valley. Grief pervaded 
the entire population. He was a great favorite with 
the people, and the sensation produced by his death 
was as sincere as it was intense. The people of the 
valley could not believe the rumor; and when the facts 
of the case became known, it only added fuel to the 
burning fire of excitement. 

He was promoted on the Niagara for deeds of 
courage. Shortly after the naval engagement on the 
lake, and in which he had exhibited so much courage, 
he learned of the intended attack by the British on 
New Orleans; that the South were arming for resist- 
ance, and he made up his mind to be with them. In 
company with some of his men, he left without orders ; 
he was overtaken at Pittsburg, where he had made ar- 
rangements with a few bold and congenial spirits to 
join him, and enter Jackson's army. 

Tried by a court-martial, he was condemned for 
desertion, and shot to death, kneeling upon his coffin I 



JAMES BIRD. 253 

The poor fellow's prayer to be allowed time to lay 
his case before Perry was denied him, and his execu- 
tion immediately followed the unrighteous sentence. 

It makes one's heart sick at such savage and inex- 
cusable conduct. Such a penalty for such an offense! 
It might have suited an age of barbarism, but is not 
to be tolerated in this. 

It was the untimely death, and the inexcusable 
circumstances which surrounded it, that inspired the 
muse of Hon. Charles Miner, from whom we have al- 
ready quoted, in the production of that commemora- 
tive, and, at the time, most popular ballad, commenc- 
ing : 

" Sons of Freedom, listen to me." 

Deeds are sometimes done under the sanction of 
law that shock our senses, and make us feel the utter 
imbecility and total want of qualifications in human 
jurisprudence. A more glaring case in proof of this 
cannot be cited than in the conviction and execution 
of James Bird! 

More than fifty years have passed by since the 
tragedy; but these same fifty years have not erased 
from my memory the deep and lasting impression the 
sad event indelibly stamped upon my mind. I am 
but one of the multitude that shared this feeling at 
the time, yet all of those who are now gone, as well 
as those who survive, never changed their opinion of 
the cruelty of this judicial murder. 

Upon the attack upon Baltimore by the British, in 



254 HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

1814, a requisition was made upon our northern coun- 
ties for a draft. Five companies were raised in pursu- 
ance of this order. The Plymouth men were in Cap- 
tain Peter Halleck's company. Those who were 
drafted from Plymouth were: Adjutant of the regi- 
ment, Noah Wadhams; Second Lieutenant, Jeremiah 
Fuller; Third Sergeant, Joseph Wright; First Corpo- 
ral, Ezra Ide; Privates, George D. Nash, Thomas 
Lynn, John Hunter, Anson Car Skadden, Aaron Van 
Loon, Wm. Blane, Philip Group, Luke Blane, Samuel 
Harvey and Aaron Closson. 

The company of Captain Halleck marched to 
Danville, and was there attached to a regiment under 
the command of Colonel James Montgomery. But 
before full arrangements were made at Danville, the 
northern rendezvous, in making the necessary organi- 
zation for a march, news came of the gallant defense 
of Fort McHenry and the expulsion of the British 
from the Chesapeake; and the regiment was dis- 
charged, the men of the northern companies returning 
to their homes. 

Among the papers of my father, I find one of 
which the following is a copy. It seems that he was 
not only a member of Captain Halleck's company, 
but also an officer. I give the papin- as a relic of the 
past. 

" Josepit WriglU, Third Sergeant : 

" Take notice, that you are hereby required personally or by suf- 
ficient substitute to appear at the house of Jonathan Hancock, in 



TOWN MEETINGS. 255 

the Borough of Wilkes-Barre, properly ^xined and equipped for 
Bervioe at the hour of ten o'clock A. M. on the ninth day of Novem- 
ber next, to march when required. Appeals to be heard at the house 
of Jonathan Hancock, on the ninth day of November next. 

" Given under my hand, the twenty-eighth day of October, A. 

D. 1814. 

" Stephen Van Loon, Captain." / 

It appears, as I find by a memorandum in a small 
diary of his made on the fom-teenth, that " on this day 
I eat my first rations of bread and beef furnished by 
the United States." 

In years after I procured his land warrant, as also 
for most of the others, who were at, as they termed it, 
" the Siege of DanviUe ! " 

As to the part our people took in the war with 
Mexico and the late rebellion, I leave it to be re- 
corded by some other pen. 



CHAPTER X. 

TOWN MEETINGS. EARLY SYSTEM OF LAWS. FIRST 

TOWN OFFICERS. 



rp^HE "town-meeting" of our ancestors was an 

JL important affair, and so it was within my own 

recollection in Plymouth. 

In the early days of the valley, the town meeting 

of Westmoreland assembled the " Freemen " of all 

that territory between the Delaware river east and the 
16 



256 HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

present Sullivan county line west, and from the Le- 
high south to Tioga point north, emhracing more than 
seventy miles square. 

Within this town of Westmoreland, Plymouth 
had heen early designated and named one of the first 
five, as already stated, and set ofi' by the Susquehanna 
company in 1768. Other townships from time to time 
were set off and designated as districts. Plymouth was 
known outside of the public records as Shawnee — 
Shawanee or Shawney — Franklin's journal spells it 
Shawney; the Indian name being provincialized from 
chuanois, which is a very pretty appellation. 

The town of Westmoreland was governed by a 
digest of laws, or more properly called rules and reg- 
ulations. These were prepared by the Susquehanna 
company, at Hartford, Connecticut, on the second of 
June, 1773, with the acquiescence of the settlers. 

The principal authority under these rules, as to 
the toAvnship or disti'ict municipal government, was 
vested in a board of directory, "to be composed of 
three able and judicious men among such settlers." 
These were to be elected annually on the first Mon- 
day in December; and their duties were, "to take 
uj)on them the direction of the settlement of each 
town, under the comj^any, and the well-ordering and 
the governing the same; to suppress vice of every kind; 
preserve the peace of God and the King therein; to 
whom each inhabitant shall pay such, and the same, 
submission, as is paid lo the civil authority in the 



DIBECTORS' MEETINGS. 257 

several towns of this colony." The rules provided for 
the election of a constable, " to be vested with the 
same power and authority as a constable by laM-s of 
this colony is, for preserving the peace and apprehend- 
ing offenders of a criminal or civil nature." 

These directors of each town were required to 
meet " on the first Monday of each month, and oftener 
if need be, with their peace officers, as well to consult 
for the good regulation thereof, as to hear and decide 
any differences that may arise, and inflict proper fine 
or other punishment on offenders, according to the 
general laws and rules of this colony, so far as the 
peculiar situation and circumstances of such town and 
plantation will admit of ; and as the reformation of 
offenders is the principal object in view, always pre- 
ferring serious admonition and advice to them, and 
their making public satisfaction by public acknowl- 
edgment of their fault, and doing such public service 
to the plantation as the directors shall judge meet; 
to fines in money or corporal punishment, which how- 
ever, in extreme cases, such directors shall inflict as 
said laws direct." 

The directors of all the towns were required to 
meet quarterly " to confer with each other on the 
state of each particular town, and to come into such 
resolutions concerning them as they shall find for 
their best good; as also to hear the complaints of any 
that shall judge themselves aggrieved by the decisions 
of their directors in their several towns, who shall 



258 HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

have tlie right to apj^eal to such quarterly meet- 
ing." 

The rules further provide, " that no one convicted 
of sudden and violent breach of the peace, of swear- 
ing, drunkenness, stealing, fraud, idleness and the 
like, shall have the liberty of appeal without first 
procuring good security for his orderly and sober be- 
havior," etc., and in civil proceedings an appeal was 
confined to matters in controversy exceeding twenty 
shillings. 

In this way petty matters were to be disposed of; 
but when it came " to the high-handed crimes of 
adultery, burglary and the like, the convict shall be 
sentenced to banishment from the settlement and a 
confiscation of all their personal efi'ects therein to the 
use of the town where such offense is committed; and 
should there still be the more heinous crime of mur- 
der committed, which Grod forbid, the ofi'ender shall 
be instantly arrested and delivered into the hands of 
the nearest civil authority in Connecticut," etc., etc. 

No appeal lay " from the doings of such quarterly 
meeting, or their decrees to the Susquehanna company, 
save in disputes as to land." 

And thus we find the character of the tribunal 
and the mode of administering justice in Plymouth 
ninety-eight years ago. 

As the frame of law was adopted and promulgated 
by the Susquehanna company in June, 1773, and the 
time named for the election of directors in December 



APPOINTMENT OF DIRECTORS. 259 

in each year, a general town meeting is warned, i. e., 
of the whole territory of Westmoreland, which on as- 
sembling appointed three directors to act till the fol- 
lowing December, in the towns of Wilkes-Barre, Ply- 
mouth, Providence, Kingston, Pittston and Hanover. 

The appointments for Plymouth were Phineas 
Nash, Captain David Marvin and J. Gaylord. These 
gentlemen, therefore, we may consider as the first ju- 
dicial officers who ever sat in judgment upon the Ply- 
mouth bench. But only reflect, if these three civil 
magistrates were alive to-day, and in commission, 
what labor would devolve upon them in disposing of 
all the cases of "breaches of the peace, swearing, 
drunkenness, gaming and idleness." Would they 
have many spare hours out of the twenty-four, that 
is, if they faithfully discharged their duties ? 

And this is a question we have no right to ask, as 
all officers in those days discharged their official du- 
ties personally. Those were days when there was no 
pay and competent men held office, and their charac- 
ter was at stake to do the duty faithfully. Is such 
the case now ? This is a question we have a right 
to ask. 

But as I am writing history, I must confine myself 
to the past, and let some one who shall follow me 
comment upon the present ! Each district was thus 
empowered on the December following the general 
town meeting, to elect its three directors, composing a 
municipal court, and its constable; the ajjpointing 



260 HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

power for all other officers was vested in the general 
town meeting, and so remained up to the time when 
Westmoreland was set oif into a county. 

At a town meeting held on the first of March, 
1774, the districts were established and all the officers 
appointed. I copy from the journal the following : 
" March y« 2d, 1774. 

" Voted, That y® town of Westmoreland be di- 
vided in the following manner into districts, that is to 
say, that y® town of Wilkes-Barre ' be one entire dis- 
trict, and known by the name of Wilkes-Barre dis- 
trict; ' and that Plymouth, with all y^ land west of 
Susquehanna river, south and west to the town line, 
be one district, by the name of Plymouth district." 
And at the same time defining the limits of Kings- 
ton, Pittston^ Hanover, Exeter, Providence; also mak- 
ing Lackaway^ Blooming Grove, Shehola and Coshu- 
tunk districts on the Delaware. 

After defining the boundaries of each, the meeting 
proceeds to appointing officers. I shall only name 
those appointed for Plymouth. Seven selectmen 
were chosen, one of them was Samuel Ransom ; seven 
collectors of rates, one of them, Asaph Whittlesey; 
twenty-two surveyors of highways, three of them, 
Elisha Swift, Samuel Ransom and Benjamin Harvey; 
fourteen fence viewers, two of them, John Baker and 
Charles Graylord; fifteen listers, i. e., persons to make 
enrolments, two of them, Elisha Swift and Gideon 



THE TOWN SIGN-POST. 261 

Baldwin; twelve grand jurors, two of them, Phineas 
Nash and Thomas Heath; seven ty thing men, one of 
them, Timothy Hopkins; eight key keepers, one of 
them, Thomas Heath. 

And so the civil list was filled up. The represen- 
tatives to the Connecticut Assembly were chosen 
semi-annually — they had probably been chosen at a 
former meeting. Two hundred and six persons took 
the freemen's oath at this meeting, which shows that 
there were not a dozen absentees of the whole male 
voting population of the town of Westmoreland at 
the time this meeting assembled. 

It was '' voted at this meeting that for y® present, 
y^ tree that now stands northerly from Captain But- 
ler's house, shall be y^ Town Sign-Post." 

The year fol; owing, a strife grew up between the 
people on the two sides of the river, the Plymouth 
and Kingston people demanding that the Sign Post 
should be on the west side of the river, and accord- 
ingly they met to take a vote. The west side carried 
it by a small majority, and designated a certain tree 
in Kingston, " ten rods north of the house of Mr. 
Ross, the Public Sign-Post." The proceedings of the 
few succeeding meetings, and important ones too, for 
there were chosen at them representatives to the Gen- 
eral Assembly of Connecticut, do not state at which 
Public Sign -Post they were held. Bad blood grew 
out of this strife. A compromise was finally made, 
and at a general town meeting it was 



262 HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

" Voted, That for the future the annual town 
meetings and Freemen's meetings shall be held half 
the time on the east side of the river, and the other 
half on the west side of the river, for one year." 

In this vote they had a precedent, for the home 
government of Connecticut had settled a like diffi- 
culty between New Haven and Hartford, in designat- 
ing each of these towns as the alternate places of the 
meeting of the Legislature. 

The Public Sign-Post in these days meant some- 
thing; it was the public hall for conducting the pub- 
lic business and holding elections; the place for post- 
ing notices, for newspapers had not yet made their 
appearance there; the public whipping-post for pun- 
ishment of petty offenses, and it may be well doubt- 
ed whether our reform iu this particular has bene- 
fited the public morals; it was the central place 
of business transactions, the exchange, the auction 
mart, the forum, the hustings, the recruiting depot, 
and the general centre of all jjublic affairs. 

It don't precisely conform to our modem ideas of 
things, but nevertheless did very well ninety-eight 
years ago. There is one thing about which there 
cannot be much question, and that is, that at these 
Public Sign-Posts they elected better men to office 
than now; and that if some of the men who now hold 
places, had lived in the days of Sign-Post elections, 
and used the effrontery and despicable practices they 
now do to procure them, they would liave been tied 



SELLING THE TOWN POOR. 263 

up to these same Sign-Posts and enlightened with the 
cat-o'nine-tails. 

Those were the blessed days when the office sought 
the man, and it was sustained in its dignity by his 
acceptance; not as is the case now, frequently, when 
the office gives the incumbent the only claim he has 
to notice. 

These annual town meetings furnished the occa- 
sion for not only a general assemblage of the voting 
population, but of the young men also. It was a day 
of jubilee and amusement. The young men would 
engage in feats of physical strength — wrestling, 
throwing the bar, playing ball, foot races, and like 
amusements. 

In later years I can well remember myself, that 
the annual town meeting day in Plymouth was a day 
of amusement as well as of business. This was held, 
if I remember, on the third Friday in March, at which 
time the township officers were elected. All turned 
out, old and young, and made it a general jubilee. 
The practice, I suppose, came down from the prece- 
dents of the town meetings of old Westmoreland. 

But there was one thing always done at these 
annual meetings which did not very much redound 
to the credit or humanity of our early settlers ; 
that was the selling of the town poor to the lowest 
bidder, to be boarded for the year. Along from 
1812 to 1820, Jerre Allen, a deranged man, would 
be brought to the place of holding the town meet- 



264 HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

ing, in chains, and thus put up for sale. Speedy 
Nash, a poor, simple, foolish creature, also. The 
bidding on the paupers, for the year's keep, would 
generally begin at a hundred dollars and go down to 
fifty or forty-five, and would be generally struck off 
to some mountaineer,living in a log hut, and the town 
contribution would sustain pauper and purchaser. 
The practice was not local; it reached throughout the 
State. Finally, however. Judge Burnside caused the 
overseers of the poor of some district to be indicted 
in his court, and the penalty he imposed on this 
offense of inhumanity, put a final stop to the selling 
of the township poor annually, at auction, to the 
lowest bidder. 

The town meeting, however, is one of the institu- 
tions of the past. The last twenty-five or thirty 
years have changed its features to such an extent, 
that one of our old settlers, were he to return, would 
not recognize it any better than he could divine the 
meaning of a telegraph wire or a locomotive ! 

In a careful review of the system of laws applica- 
ble to Plymouth a hundred years ago, we can hardly 
say that there has been much improvement for the 
better. That they were better administered I think 
there cannot be a doubt. If drunkenness, and gaming 
and idleness were upon our calendar of this day, and 
made the subjects of punishment, there cannot be a 
question but the moral tone of the communiiy would 
occupy a higher standard. 



THE FIRST TRIUMVIRATE. 265 

We cannot therefore say that we are ahead of our 
plain and unpretending ancestors in this particular. 
Idleness, perhaps, should not be classed as a crime, 
and yet the example it furnishes to those who cannot 
afford to be idle, is of the most pernicious character, 

I have not been able to ascertain, after diligent 
inquiry, where our first Triumvirate held their 
court. Phineas Nash, Captain David Marvin, and 
J. Gay lord, clothed as they were with the municipal 
power of Plymouth, must have had a court, and un- 
doubtedly a whipping-post and stocks ; but the lo- 
cality 0, these things deemed necessary in a past age, 
has become somewhat obscure. These men and their 
successors were to Plymouth what the three triumvirs 
were to Kome after the fall of Ceesar, or the three 
Consu's to France who preceded the first Empire. 
Holding therefore the commissions of the peace, and 
the balances of justice for old Plymouth, it is to be 
regretted that not only the records of their court but 
the place oi' administration are gone. 

Nor can we find any record of the acts of their 
successors, or even the names of them. The floods 
and the ravages of the common enemy have left but 
little to enlighten us, 

A friend has furnished me with a very venerable 
looking paper, but well written, and in a hand too 
which I recognize as that of my old schoolmaster, of 
which the following is a copy: 

" At a meeting of the proprietors of the common- 



266 HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

field in Shawney, legally warned, and held on the 
twenty-fourth of March, 1786, 

" Voted, That John Franklin, Esq., be moderator 
for said meeting. 

" Voted, That all such houses as are within the 
limits of this commonfield, and occupied with families, 
be removed out of said field by the tenth of April next; 
the committy to give speedy warning to any such 
residents and see it is put in execution. The house 
now occupied by the widow Heath excepted, provided 
the said widow Heath shall run a fence so as to leave 
her house without said field. 

" [A true copy]. 

" Attest: Jonah Rogers, Clark." 

It is probable that this commonfield, as it is 
called, may have had something to do with the place 
of the administration of justice. One or two of the 
oldest people, now resident in Plymouth, have a per- 
fect recollection that the general parade-ground was 
on the brow of Ant Hill. The fences in those days 
had not so far encroached upon the common. This 
was the commonfield referred to in the memorandum 
of the meeting, for Mrs. Heath's house, afterwards 
Mrs. Morse, still stands near the elm tree; and here 
was a common place of assembling within my own 
recollection; and it is more than probable that the 
elm tree still standing there was the Public Sign- 
Post of the town. My own recollections do not go 
further back than fifty-five years; and while I remem- 





^ 


: 


'=^^'; ^tMi'. 


■ ''^^^ 


\^' 


K^- ■•.\^^^-\3iL xiyy/ -J- 


''M& 


1. 


. V^^i^jV^ / tL ^^^T W^^i 


^^ 


^^ 




IB 


^ 




^^s 


fe^' 


1 ' 


8^^ 


^^ 


— ,- A\ 


/^■:^ itlMlW 


k 


-^T 



THE OLD E L Jr, OR WHIPPING POST. 



THE PUBLIC SIGN-POST. 267 

ber well the tree standing there fifty years since, of 
large size then, I do not remember the tradition of its 
being the Public Sign-Post of the town. The sign 
post, commonfield,and house of justice, were probably 
all on this parade-ground. 

In those days there was a public school-house on 
the opposite side of the road, a few rods below the 
locality of the elm. Here I first went to school, to 
John Bennet, Esq., late of Kingston. The benches 
and desks were removed from that to the academy, 
and the old house was torn down about 1815. 

I have but little doubt, therefore, but the old 
school-house upon Ant Hill was in early days the fo- 
rum of justice, and the old elm, the Public Sign and 
whipping-post of Plymouth, ninety-eight years ago. 

Will you spare it ? It stands there now, erect, 
green and vigorous; a glorious old landmark of the 
early days of Plymouth, and it is to be hoped that it 
may be permitted to remain. The eyes of our ances- 
tors rested upon it in days agone. To me it is a 
pleasant reminder of the plain and primitive days of 
the town. 



CHAPTER XI. 

OCCUPATIONS AND HABITS OF THE PEOPLE IN EARLY 

DAYS. INDUSTRY. ECONOMY. CHURCH. 

SCHOOL-TEACHERS. ROGERS, PATTERSON, CUR- 
TIS, SWEET AND OTHERS. 

I COME now to that time in our history when I 
write chiefly from my own knowledge and per- 
sonal observation. I have reached the point where it 
was my original design to have begun. 

Starting out in company with our people, in 1768, 
from Litchfield, Connecticut, we found a tribe of red 
men in the possession of old Shawnee. This led to 
the inquiry who they were, where they came from, 
and what finally became of them. Disposing of this, 
it was very natural to ascertain if there had been any 
white people there ahead of us. Before I had fairly 
got through the mazes in which these inquiries in- 
volved the thread of my story, I found myself in the 
midst of the Pennamite and Yankee war, and then 
in the Revolutionary struggle. And while pursuing 
the red line of battle, I at last found myself on board 
the Niagara, alongside of our gallant and brave old 
friend, "Billy Pace," charging under the command 
of young Perry, the British fleet on Lake Erie. 

And into all these different positions I found my- 

(268) 



HABITS or THE PEOPLE. 269 

self compelled to go because the people were there of 
whom I was writing. 

And this must be my apology, if an apology is 
necessary. My readers may well conclude that I have 
given them a long introductory chapter. But those 
of them who are the descendants of Plymouth men 
must blame their ancestors and not me. So long as 
they were fighting men, if we speak of them at all, 
we must speak of them in the battle as well as on the 
farm, or in other occupations. 

We have seen how they behaved themselves 
throughout the most trying and disheartening difiicul- 
ties that it was ever the destiny of men to encounter. 
"War at their own thresholds ; war throughout the 
land ; murder, captivity and torture : these made up 
the yearly calendar. 

Their valor and courage at Millstone elicited the 
especial notice and public commendation of Washing- 
ton. Butler put Whittlesey and his Plymouth men 
at the post of honor, as well as danger, at the battle 
of Wyoming. The officers of this company fell in 
the front ranks; the rank and file were literally over- 
powered and cut to pieces by a vastly superior force. 
At Lake Erie, the conduct of a private in the ranks 
is singled out as the object of especial notice by the 
Government, and the deeds of his bravery recorded 
upon a plate of silver. 

Wherever the exigency of the exciting times call- 
ed them, there they were, and they maintained their 



270 HISTOKICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

honor. It is a pleasant thing indeed to be able in af- 
ter years to record such facts. They showed them- 
selves men of high tone and remarkable valor ; great 
self-reliance, and unflinching patriotism. These traits 
of character were alike exhibited upon the field of 
battle, as well as in Indian captivity. 

We are, therefore, by no means afraid to lift up 
the veil and disclose them to the world in their pri- 
vate employments and domestic relations. 

The war of the revolution had taught the lesson 
of personal as well as national independence; captivity 
the lesson of submission, as well as the important fea- 
ture of self-reliance; and the final result of the long 
and bitter conflict as to the question of the title to 
their lands, that a just cause should never be aban- 
doned. 

When universal peace therefore dawned, and do- 
mestic strifes were healed at their own homes and 
firesides, those of them who had survived the crash 
of war, and could breathe in repose, free from the re- 
straints of fear, were in a condition, if any people ever 
were, to enjoy the luxuries of a plain, simple and un- 
obtrusive life. The sons of those who had fallen in 
the public service, or in defense of their own private 
rights, knew well the cost of the soil they inherited 
and therefore how to appreciate it. 

When, therefore, peace reigned and titles were con- 
firmed, they immediately set themselves down with 
no other view than to live by their labor. This they 



HOME PRODUCTS. 271 

■were not only willing to do, but it was to them a 
source of perfect happiness. The musket and the 
sickle did not now require partnership. The field 
could he planted with the expectation of gathering 
the crop it produced. 

The occupation of the people of the town fifty 
years since was agriculture. A retail store, a coujjle 
of blacksmith shops, a wheelright shop, and a carpen- 
ter's shop, were about the only exceptions. The coal 
business was then in its swathing bands. It may 
have been used in a dozen houses, partially, but upon 
the big kitchen hearth blazed the wood fire. 

The people had but little to do with the store. 
They lived upon what they produced by their own 
labor from the earth. The food they eat and the 
clothing they wore, they produced with their own 
hands — a little tea, some spices, salt and molasses were 
the chief articles of their purchases. The best of them 
drank rye cofiee, unless upon some holiday or other 
extraordinary occasion. They dressed in homespun. 
I do not think that I wore an article of clothing till I 
was sixteen years old, that did not come out of my 
mother's loom ; and I suppose that my father's means 
were as ample as a majority of the people. A shirt 
made of homespun linen was a little scratchy at first, 
but after being washed a few times it sat very easy. 
In its new state it kept the pores open, and that was 
beneficial to health. 

In these times there was not much inducement for 
17 



272 HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

merchandising. Even the article of tobacco was a 
home product. I presume that the Plymouth mer- 
chant of those days considered that he had done a 
good business for the year, if his sales reached two 
thousand dollars. 

Most of the early settlers owned a lot on the flats. 
Here was the broad field of their labor; and daily 
labor in those primitive days began at sunrise and 
ended with the approaching stars. One common 
highway led to the flats. Upon this road could be 
seen almost the entire male population of the town 
wending their daily way, at early dawn, during the 
season of planting and harvest, to the j)roductive fields 
of the broad plain. Old and young made up this 
line. The summer school was for small children not 
yet of sufiicient age for the requirements of the field. 
There was a common equahty between master and 
man. They were clad alike; they ate the frugal but 
substantial meal from the same board. To save time, 
they carried with them their noon meal, so that on 
leaving home in the morning they made provision 
for the whole day, and did not return till evening. 

And so along the main thoroughfare and through 
" the old swing gate," passed and repassed for the six 
days of the week of the summer, a long line of in- 
dustrious and contented people. All labored. There 
were no drones in the busy hive. No man was above 
work. Labor was respectable; labor was inviting; 
and more than all that, labor was the true and genu- 



INDUSTRY AND ECONOMY. 273 

ine test of social position in those good old primitive 
days in Plymouth — God bless them. A hard hand 
was the index of manhood; and if the countenance 
did happen to be a little burned in the rays of the 
sun, it detracted nothing from the social status of the 
person. The homespun garment did not derogate 
from the character of the man who wore it. 

In harvest time the minister, the schoolmaster, 
the blacksmith, the wheelwright and the carpenter 
lent a hand, and all went " merry as a marriage bell." 

No one in these days, in our town, lived upon the 
perquisites or the spoils of office. The seeds of cor- 
ruption had not been sown even, and there was of 
course no crop. One idea of obtaining a livelihood 
only prevailed. The door opened to this the path of 
honest and simple toil, and this was the one they all 
pursued. The primitive door of the Plymouth home- 
stead a half century ago needed no locks, no bolts. 
These are the precautions of a higher state of civili- 
zation ! The days of simplicity and integrity and 
honesty required no defensive walls for the protection 
of the humble castle. A lock upon the door ! It 
would have implied that thieves and robbers were 
about; that some one of the community was under 
the ban of suspicion. 

All being occupied, there was little time either to 
think of, much less to commit crime. Noah Wad- 
haras, for a great number of years the sole justice of 
the peace of the town, held his court on Saturday 



274 HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

afternoons to liear any cases that were to be tried; but 
a half day's work had to be done in the field before 
the parties litigant could be heard. And at these 
trials there were no persons present save the parties 
and their witnesses. There were no idle loungers 
thronging the tribunal to gratify their curiosity or 
waiting their chances, if need be, on either side for 
witnesses. This is a commodity more in demand, I 
am told, in modern days; and the article is cheap. 

The dwellings were very generally on the main 
road; a few of which are still standing; the barns 
were on the opposite side. The bountiful harvest 
was stowed away in these, and when the winter set 
in, the sound of the flail resounded from the one end 
of the long road to the other. Modern invention has 
almost totally supplanted this implement. But I like 
the music of the flail, and with the accompaniment of 
the keen whirr of the spinning-wheel, and the meas- 
ured beats of the old square loom, which was in motion 
in almost every house, it was infinitely ahead of the 
tones of the piano. This may be in bad taste upon 
my part, but I am now too old to be taught other- 
wise ; nor do I desire to be. 

The principal crop in those days was wheat. 
Upon the sale of this, the farmer relied for all the 
money he received. The remaining products of the 
farm were used in barter and exchange. There was 
very little money: what there was came from Easton, 
on the Delaware, the market for the wheat of the 



" TRIPS TO EASTON." 275 

whole valley. There were no banks. Easton bank 
bills made up the entire currency. 

When the winter set in, the first matter was the 
thrashing of the wheat. It was put away in bins, 
awaiting the fall of the first snow for transportation. 
When this occurred, all was commotion. The mo- 
ment the snow fell in sufficient quantity to warrant 
the journey, the teams were started. The distance 
by the Easton and Wilkes-Barre Turnpike, and then 
the only avenue of travel out of the valley toward the 
east, was sixty miles'. The round trip could be made 
in three days. The load was usually about thirty 
bushels. 

It was an exciting and pleasant excursion in early 
days, this Easton journey. I have hauled many a 
load, and I have counted on Pecono a hundred sleds 
in line. The jingling of bells, the mirth and laughter, 
and sometimes the sound of music, gave it a charm 
that made it very agreeable. Besides this, every tavern 
upon the roadside had its fiddler, and we generally 
had a dance for half the night, and then off in the 
morning, our horses steaming in the snow flakes, and 
the merry songs and shouts made the summits of Po- 
cono and the Blue Mountain ring with their echoes! 

Ah! if we could only always be young! 

I noticed, however, in these " trips to Easton," as 
they were called, that the "old settlers" enjoyed 
them quite as much as the boys. The first segar I ever 
smoked was while walking behind my sled up the Blue 



276 HISTOKICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

Mountain. I remember it well, for the effects were 
not so agreeable. I was then a boy of some eighteen 
years; I am told that young gentlemen commence 
smoking now at eight and ten years of age. So much 
for progress. 

But I am wandering. 

Every farmer in the days I am writing about, 
raised his own flax. From it the linen of the house- 
hold was manufactured; he grew his own wool; he, in 
fact, produced from his land almost everything con- 
sumed in the family. Luxuries were few, the neces- 
saries of life were abundant. I have no reason to 
question, but that under this mode and manner of 
life the masses enjoyed themselves and were quite as 
happy as they are now. Nay, more so; for no debts 
were incurred then as now, in apeing the follies and 
the vices of those who assume a higher social position 
on account of their money. 

Fifty years ago equality was the rule; caste in 
society had not reared its head; there was no necessity 
of striving for the highest round in the ladder because 
all were perched upon it. Every man was as good as his 
neighbor, that is if he behaved himself well. He was 
not set back for the reason that his hands were soiled 
with labor, or that he wore a homespun coat. 

Little was known in the primitive days of our 
town about distinction in the social relations of life. 
There was a common scale of friendly and personal 
intercourse which was very generally acknowledged 



SOCIAL EQUALITY. 277 

and observed. The exception to the rule was immoral 
and vicious conduct. The man who conformed to the 
proprieties of a well-ordered social system, and was 
industrious in his habits, ranked with the best, with- 
out regard to his calling or occupation, or the amount 
of property he possessed. The tradesman, the mer- 
chant, the mechanic, and the farmer, as to social 
caste, all stood upon the same platform. Grade was 
unknown, except measured by industry and moral ex- 
cellence. The same board was spread for the whole 
household. The homespun cloth furnished the mate- 
rial for the whole family wardrobe; the hired man, the 
hired girl, and the apprentice came in for a share 
uj^on the equality principle with the employer and 
master. 

Industry was the common theme, and hence very 
few holidays were observed. New Year's day, Christ- 
mas, and the Fourth of July embraced them all, and 
pressing engagements on hand would often overrule 
the observance of those festive periods. Industry the 
year round was the universal creed, and to it all 
yielded implicit obedience. Idleness was disrepu- 
table. And for the reason that crime was extremely 
rare, it was therefore regarded with more abhorrence. 
It is familiarity with this, and when of frequent oc- 
currence, that relieves it of half of its repulsive char- 
acter. 

This geneial social intercoui'se brought the people 
closer together, and gave them a deeper feeling of 



278 HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

interest in eacli other's affairs. It was not an unusual 
tiling for the whole farming community to turn out 
and gather the crop, which would otherwise have gone 
to waste, of some unfortunate neighbor who was pros- 
trated upon a sick bed. This I have very frequently 
witnessed, and scarcely a year passed that an instance 
did not take place. 

Bees were very common with the men, chopping 
new ground, raising buildings, corn husking, and a 
variety of other branches of manual labor; with the 
women, quilting, spinning, sewing, etc. 

These frequent assemblages of the people were a 
means of uniting industry with pleasure. They 
would generally conclude with a supper, succeeded by 
games and other amusements; sometimes by a dance 
This, however, was of rare occurrence, as the Puritan 
mind had not yet come down to the belief, that danc- 
ing was altogether a harmless recreation ! 

The settlers were very generally New England 
people, and the social customs of their ancestors were 
pretty generally adhered to. Dancing, therefore, was 
an innovation, and its progress was slow. But in 
the end it was regarded with more favor, and very 
properly too, so that at this day, in our town, there 
are few probably of the " straightest " religious sect 
who would condemn the amusement. 

Buildings for the purjiose of religious worship and 
for education were erected by common contribution. 
All gave their mite in these enterprises, and those 




THE OLD A C A D E BI Y, 



FAMILIAKITY OF RELIGIOUS SECTS. 279 

who had not money gave their labor, so that there 
was no tax imposed, and consequently no sinecure for 
the indolent, in its collection. No one grew suddenly 
rich because he was fortunate enough to hold the tax 
duplicates. There was but one road open to compe- 
tence and respectability, and that was honest, diligent 
and persevering labor. 

All denominations of religion worshipped in the 
second stoiy of the old Academy for a great number 
of years. The fact that a particular sect had occu- 
pied the common benches on one Sabbath day, did 
not require their purification before another sect could 
use them on the next. Presbyterian, Methodist, Bap- 
tist, Episcopal, Christian. Catholic and Congregational 
in turn, all knelt at one common altar, and they were 
none the worse for it. The public morals and private 
virtues were not dimmed in the least particular by 
this familiar intercourse. It may be said, however, 
that this state of things was better suited to a primi- 
tive, simple people than to a people more advanced in 
civilization. It is possible, barely possible. 

The schools were kept open winter and summer; 
in summer, however, they were taught by female in- 
structors; in winter, by male. It Avas small children 
only who attended the summer school; the larger ones 
were at labor. 

The school-master " boarded around." And as 
most of my readers may not know what this means, I 
will explain it. He would go from house to house 



280 HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

for board and lodging, among the patrons of the 
school, and remain according to a schedule of time, 
which he based upon the number of his pupils, and in 
the proportion which each patron sent to him. It was 
frequently said, however, but I do not pretend to as- 
sert upon what ground of authority, that the master 
did not always adhere to his schedule time with all. 
He would ever incline to exceed his limit where he 
fared best, and shorten it where he fared worse. And 
it was not unfrequently the case that the master in en- 
tering into his contract, which was a monthly allow- 
ance, "board and lodging in," provided to be relieved 
from sojourning with certain families; though this was 
a kind of confidential arrangement, and charity would 
ascribe it to distance, a large family, or sickness. 
And this . was the way in which the kind-hearted, 
burly old settlers would dispose of a knotty question; 
and their memory is to be held in generous remem- 
brance for it. 

Among those who may be classed as the early per- 
manent instructors, were Jonah Kogers (of whom no- 
tice has already been made), Thomas Patterson and 
Charles C. Curtis. Dr. Thomas Sweet, an eminent 
physician afterwards, and now a resident of Scranton, 
taught occasionally; and, by the way, the doctor 
presented me with a thin, flat ruler, a few years since, 
which he said he broke over the shoulders of the writer 
for misconduct, and had retained it some fifty years as 
a souvenir of early days. The circumstance had passed 



THE SCHOOL-MASTERS. 281 

my memory, as flagellations in the remote days of 
which we are writing were of too frequent occmTence 
to be held in memory. The old idea, and one by no 
means to be scouted, pretty generally prevailed, " that 
if you spared the rod you spoiled the child." 

Jonah Kogers never called up a poor urchin for 
punishment that this quotation was not a matter pre- 
cedent; and the consequence was that he came very 
nearly making his whole school unbelievers in the di- 
vine doctrines of the revelation ! But I must say 
that while the good old man made a great deal of fuss 
and talked very loud, and looked uncommonly fero- 
cious, his blows were exceedingly light. He taught 
in the public school of Plymouth probably fifteen 
years, commencing, I am informed, not far from 1800. 

Thomas Patterson succeeded him, and he contin- 
ued as the principal instructor for probably ten years. 
He spent his summers upon his farm, and his win- 
ters in Plymouth in the capacity of teacher. He 
possessed a very good education; in all the English 
branches he was very proficient, and he had some 
knowledge, though limited, of the classics. He had 
much energy of character, and was a man of strict 
integrity and honor. He was an Irishman. Having 
taken part in the Kebellion of 1798, he fled in disguise 
from his native country and made this one his home. 
He would often tell his scholars of the marked and 
bloody events of the noble effort of the Irish people 
to rid themselves of their English oppressors; and in 



282 HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH, 

speaking of the execution of Kobert Emmet — with 
whom he was acquainted — upon his conviction of 
high treason, the old man would shed tears. 

His reverence and love for the free institutions and 
government of the United States were unbounded. 
He would say, " that the only hope for the ameliora- 
tion of the condition of man was centred in the 
American Eepublic; that when this system failed, de- 
basement and slavery would follow in its train." 

I attended his school when he commenced teach- 
ing in Plymouth. This was not far from 1817. He 
was then a man of near fifty, stout, broad-shouldered, 
and nearly six feet in height. He had a well-de- 
veloped head, prominent features, a keen blue eye, 
heavy bushy eyebrows, and when his countenance 
was lighted up, he exhibited evidence of great intel- 
lectual power. The old gentleman always had lying 
upon his desk, before him, a bound volume containing 
the speeches of Curran and Grattan, with the speech 
of Emmet delivered before his judges, when the ques- 
tion was propounded as "to what he had to say why 
the sentence of death should not be pronounced 
against him." A boy of sixteen, I committed this 
speech to memory, and would declaim it occasionally 
in school exercises, which was very agreeable to his 
feelings; and I have no doubt but that this fact led to 
the liberal education which I afterwards received, as 
the old gentleman never ceased his importunity with 
my father to give his son a collegiate course. And 



THE SCHOOL-MASTERS. 283 

his arguments prevailed. It is due, therefore, that I, 
at least, should honor the old patriot's memory, and 
I do. 

He came to the valley soon after the conclusion of 
the Irish Rebellion, selected this spot as his home, 
married a daughter of the late Colonel Nathan Deni- 
son, of Kingston, and settled in Huntington, where he 
ended his days. He died some twenty years since. 
On a visit to Huntington some years ago, I went some 
distance out of my course to visit the old man's grave. 
He left a comfortable estate to his family. Three of 
his sons held prominent positions of trust in the 
Lehigh Coal and Navigation Company, in the days of 
Josiah White and Erskine Hazard. One of them, 
Ezekiel, is a prominent man in New Brunswick, New 
Jersey. 

Charles C. Curtis was the successor of Thomas 
Patterson. He continued several years in the pubhc 
school as instructor. He was a kind and affable man 
in his deportment, and very highly respected for his 
probity of character. He married a daughter of 
Colonel George P. Ransom, who still survives her 
husband. Mr. Curtis, after the close of his occupa- 
tion as school-teacher, settled down with his family 
upon a farm in Jackson township, inherited by his 
wife from her father, where he died about the year 
1850. 

And thus much for the early instructors of the 
youth of Plymouth. There were others, but they 



284 HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

were of more recent date, and I cannot therefore speak 
of them from my own knowledge. 

The languages were taught in the old Academy as 
early as 1829. Mr. Nyce and Mr. Patterson, gradu- 
ates of Dickinson College, were engaged three or four 
years in the capacity of teachers — they were suc- 
ceeded by Mr. Seiwers. 

I am not aware that the dead languages have been 
a part of the system of education in Plymouth since 
Mr. Seiwers left. 

As it is not my purpose to bring the Historical 
Sketches of Plymouth down to a later period than 
1850, it will be no part of my labor to speak of the 
later progress of the school system, and which has 
been attended with very cheering and hopeful pros- 
pects, not only as regards our town but the country 
at large. 



CHAPTER XII. 



OLD LANDMARKS. POUND, SWING-GATE, COMMON- 
FIELD, SIGN-POST, MILLS, ETC. 

IN early days, the " Shawnee Flats " were all with- 
in one common enclosure. The several lots com- 
posing the great field were divided by surveys, 
with stone monuments at the corners, but there 
were no fences dividing as well as protecting the re- 



PUTTING UP FENCES. 285 

spective ownerships. The annual floods, caused by 
the rise of the Susquehanna, were deemed too formid- 
able to permit the idea of erecting fences. Since the 
great ice flood of 1784, which removed all the buildings 
from Garrison Hill, no owner has presumed to put up 
buildings for any purpose upon the lower plain. 

About the year 1820, my father made the first 
experiment of inclosing his land by fencing. The 
other proprietors, waiting a year or two, and seeing 
that the fences remained, followed his example, and 
in a short time each owner had at least the exterior 
lines of his lots protected by inclosures. These, from 
that time down, have been pretty generally main- 
tained. 

Before this, the river was the only barrier on one 
side, and the fence, which skirted the main road, on 
the other. The two ends of the plain coming to an 
acute angle, the highway and river were very close 
together at each. 

After the crops were gathered in the fall, the 
whole field was thrown open to the public. This was 
bad farming, as the winter crops were very much in- 
jured by being eaten off and trampled upon by the 
herds of cattle grazing over them. This led to the 
necessity of enclosures, and a good farmer would be 
well satisfied if he did not have to replace his enclo- 
sures oftener than every seventh year — about half the 
ordinary time they would have lasted without the ac- 
cident by floods. 



286 HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

But while the plain was thus in common, and 
which continued from 1784 to 1820 — nearly forty 
years — some extraordinary means had to he adopted 
to jjrevent the trespasses of cattle running at large. 

To obviate this, the proprietors of the flats — and 
this embraced very nearly two-thirds of the taxable 
inhabitants — erected a public Pound. This structure 
was built of hewn logs. It was of an octagon shape, 
covering an area of probably a thousand square feet, 
and some ten feet in height. It stood on the lower 
side of the flat road, and at the junction of it with 
the main thoroughfare, upon land of the late Colonel 
Kansom, and a few rods east of the old red mansion 
house, in which he resided many years, and in which 
he died. 

In this stronghold were imjiounded all the cattle 
which were found running at large upon the Flats, 
before the season of their being thrown open to the 
public. The owners could only procure their release 
on the payment of a fine. This averaged probably 
about twenty-five cents a head, which was paid to the 
" Key Keeper." This officer, at the first date of my 
cvNTi recollection — over a half century ago — was Heze- 
kiah Roberts. He occupied a house upon the little 
rise of ground on the opposite side of the way from 
the pound — now the estate of Oliver Davenport, Esq. 

Hezekiah was an active, dapper little man, and 
supposed that the running gear and the machinery of 
the whole universe, and the United States in particu- 



THE "key-keeper." 287 

lar, depended very much on the faithful discharge of 
his duties as keeper of the municipal keys. 

You might see him every morning during the 
summer, at the dawn of day, mounted on his gray 
horse, making a reconnoissance of the big field, and if 
he made a large haul, it was a pretty profitable day's 
work. He did not become, in this tour of a Sunday 
morning, liable to a fine for pursuing worldly emjiloy- 
ment on the Lord's day. It was a work of necessity. 
For while the forefathers were very exemplary, and 
extremely exacting in the observance of the Sabbath, 
they still had an eye to the security of their crops. 
All very proper, undoubtedly. This office of " Key- 
Keeper," at the first settlement of Plymouth, was 
considered a matter of especial trust, and was a mark 
of distinction that no one of them would refuse. I 
have already mentioned the fact that at a town meet- 
ing of the people of Westmoreland, held on " March 
y® second, 1774," Thomas Heath, one of the promi- 
nent men of the town, was chosen for this office. 
Next to the selectman and the board of directors, 
came this functionary. His duties were to hold the 
keys of the garrison, the church, the school-house, the 
pound, and the SAving-gate. And it was a mark of 
the public confidence for which any man of reasona- 
ble ambition might very properly feel elated. He 
may have been said to have carried the state and the 
church in his breeches pocket; at all events, the key 
which opened the door to each. And I can well re- 
18 



288 HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

member tlie impression the display of these bright 
shining evidences of power, as well as personal dig- 
nity, made upon my mind. No less, probably, than 
that produced by the distinguished personage entrust- 
ed with the keys of Dover or Calais, upon the hum- 
ble people of the wayside. 

As these were the days of summary justice, the 
public sign-post in its double capacity of gazette and 
whipping-post, supplied the place of criminal records 
and prison, and there was no occasion for a jail key on 
the official ring. Whipping and banishment were the 
two penalties for crime. Our early pioneers went 
upon the principle that it was not worth their while 
to be bothered with lock-ups, and taken from their 
useful occupation to lounge about courts, waiting days 
and weeks for a trial, in the case of some miserable 
fellow who was of no account to the community, in 
prison or out of prison. So for a small offense they 
tried the culprit, and if found guilty, tied him up to 
the whipping-post and gave him ten or twenty lashes; 
and thus fifteen minutes ended the whole matter, and 
the court, the constable, the complainant, witnesses, 
and the criminal could all go to work, and probably 
in the same field. A pretty efficacious, if not sensi- 
ble, way of doing things. The fellow who committed 
felonies they sent off to Connecticut to be dealt with 
according to his deserts, and for the intermediate 
grade of crime they banished. So that dispatch was 
the order of the day, and moderate taxation. 



HEZEKIAH ROBEKTS. 289 

My own memory does not reach back to the time 
when the whipping or sign post, or the town forti- 
fications were in use. So that when I first became 
acquainted with the town key-keeper, in the person 
of Mr. Hezekiah Roberts, he only had on his ring the 
key of the pound, the school-house and the swing- 
gate. Troublesome men had crept into the church; it 
now had two doors to it, so that the old office — which 
in the days of Thomas Heath was of great honor and 
importance — I am sorry to say, in the days of Heze- 
kiah Roberts, had become very much curtailed, though 
still respectable; and people who did not have "just 
at that moment " the ready money to pay over for the 
redemption of their impounded cattle, were very ob- 
sequious to Mr. Roberts. 

The old jjound was one of the institutions of its 
day, and its locality and purposes were well under- 
stood by every man, woman and child over six years 
of age, fifty years ago in Plymouth. 

Some thirty years since it disappeared ; the in- 
closures on the flats, and the people beginning to learn 
that it was not lawful to permit their cattle to 
run at large, seemed to have diminished the necessi- 
ties for its continuance. It was a landmark, and I 
could not well pass by it in silence. 

Famous as is the memory of the Pound, the " old 
swing-gate " is quite as much so. That and its chil- 
dren have survived a hundred years. It opened to 
the flat road, and through it passed and repassed 



290 HISTOKICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

daily during the summer season, going to and returning 
from their labor ; the substantial representative men 
of the township; men who were an honor to their race 
because they lived by the sweat of their brow, and 
whose word did not require to be written down or at- 
tested by a witness. And through it rolled too, upon 
creaking wagons, the annual produce of a thousand 
acres of as fertile land as the sun ever shone upon. 

Why this should have been particularly called the 
swing-gate, I do not understand, as I am pretty sure 
that there was not in the township any other gate, 
public or private, that did not swing upon hinges. 
This too will probably disappear in time. 

" The commonfield," so called because it was the 
parade-ground, the place where the common sign-post 
was located, and the spot of general rendezvous, was 
upon Ant Hill. The ground was originally eight 
rods wide, and extended from the brow of the hill 
above the house of J. W. Eno, Esq. The fences 
upon the west side have gradually encroached upon 
the " commonfield,'' and it is now by no means what 
it was fifty years since. We find so long ago as the 
twenty-fourth of March, 1786, at the meeting at 
which John Franklin was chairman and Jonah Rog- 
ers clerk, tliat the people owning land on the borders 
of the commonfield were encroaching upon it, and 
that they warned them off, with the exception of the 
Widow Heath. Her house was made a special case, 
probably because her husband had been entrusted at 



THE OLD ELM. 291 

one time with the responsible office of holding the 
public keys. This commonfield has long since ceased 
to be occupied for public purposes. 

I can remember when it was used for military pa- 
rades, but for no other purpose. 

But on this field stood a hundred years ago, and 
stands to-day, the lofty old elm which was the public 
sign-post of our ancestors. There is no reason but 
wantonness why this old landmark should be re- 
moved. Like the Charter Oak of revolutionary mem- 
ory, now standing upon the Boston " commonfield," 
it should be nursed and presei-ved with the same care 
that it is. It should have a strong barricade put 
about it, that its life may be prolonged to the latest 
possible day. 

If the old elm had a tongue and could speak, 
strange stories to our ears, at least, would it relate. It 
could inform us that on such and such days, such and 
such offenders, who stood charged and convicted of 
sundry and divers crimes of " swearing, drunkenness, 
frauds, gaming, and idleness," w^re lashed to its 
rough bark, and soundly whipped, as they deserved 
to be, for these and all like crimes and offences ! 

Wise men were the good, solid men of Plymouth. 
Labor was honorable, and idleness a punishable 
crime. They knew how to keep down taxes; and 
honor to their memory, for their independence of char- 
acter in adopting and enforcing, too, the means to 
prevent idleness and dissipation. But I fear that the 



292 HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

wisdom and courage of these old patriarchs, were they 
back to-day, would not be equal to the task of re- 
formation. 

Mr. Pearce informs us, in his "Annals of Lu- 
zerne," that " Robert Faulkner erected a log grist-mill 
in 1780, on Shupp's creek, below the site of the old 
Shupp mill ; and the same year, Benjamin Harvey 
erected a log grist-mill and residence on Harvey's 
creek, which was occupied by his son-in-law, Abra- 
ham Tillbury; and that about the same time, Heze- 
kiah Roberts erected a saw-mill on Ransom's creek; 
and in 1795 Samuel Marvin built a saw-mill on 
Whittlesey's creek, on the Calvin Wadhams farm." 
The foundations of these old mills have passed away. 
I remember the old log grist-mill of Mr. Tillbury, 
and the saw-mill on Whittlesey creek: the others had 
disappeared before my day. 

The Shupp mill must have been erected as early 
as 1800. That, when I was a boy, was the principal 
flouring mill of the town, and many a time have I 
carried my grist - on horseback to it. One horse 
wagons were unknown till after the close of the war 
of 1812. Mr. Philip Shupp, the grandfather of the 
present gentleman of that name, now a resident of 
Plymouth, then owned the mill and mill farm. A 
short, stout-built old German, from Northampton 
county, and a man of the strictest integrity. I have 
known three generations at that miU. It has also 
disappeared. 



THE SHAD FISHEKIES. 293 

Having spoken of the stone threshing-floor, the 
barricades, and the old Academy, with a notice of the 
other old landmarks of Plymouth, I conclude the sub- 
ject, in the earnest liope and prayer that the old 
Academy and the big elm sign-post may be permitted 
to remain as venerable indexes, pointing back to the 
good old days of our ancestors. They are not here to 
speak for them, and in humble supplication I do, in 
their name, and on their behalf. 



CHAPTER XIII. 

SHAD FISHERIES. GAME. 



WHEN the State of Pennsylvania commenced 
the building of her public canals, it put an 
end to the shad fisheries. It became necessary to use 
the large rivers for the purposes of feeders; and the 
erection of dams to accomplish this, created a barrier 
which totally interrupted the annual ascent of this 
delicious fish up the Susquehanna. Before that, this 
stream had become famous for its shad fisheries, and, 
in fact, this product was one of the chief staples of 
food in the early settlement of the country. The 
system of internal navigation commenced in 1825; 
since then the fisheries have been abandoned. It was 
in one sense a public calamity, for the people along 
the shores of the Susquelianna looked forward with as 



294 HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

much interest to tlie fisliing season as to the time of 
their harvest. The crop, indeed, was quite as im- 
portant to them. Many poor families the fisheries 
supplied with the chief article of their food, for at 
least a third of the year. By a reference to Franklin's 
diary, it will be seen that one of the causes of the 
wrongs inflicted upon the Plymouth settlers by 
Wilkes-Barre magistrates, as far back as 1784, and 
of which he complains, was the destruction of their 
fishing-nets and seines. 

From that time down to 1825, a period of thirty- 
nine years, the shad crop was relied upon by the 
people as one of the utmost importance. Large num- 
bers of the people of Plymouth were shareholders in 
the shad fisheries. Those who were not, were sup- 
plied at a mere nominal price. Previous to 1800, 
the price probably did not average more than two 
cents a piece, and from that period up to 1825, when 
the dams were put in the river, the highest price did 
not exceed eight or ten cents apiece. Thus a laboring 
man, who had no interest in the fisheries, could lay 
in his year's supply for the receipts of a week's wages. 

And while the whole population along the Sus- 
quehanna were exceedingly anxious to have the canal, 
thoy indulged in feelings of deep regret at the idea 
that it would result in the total destruction of their 
fisheries. The great advantages they contemplated 
from the inland navigation, overbalanced the conse- 
quent loss of the fisheries. They submitted, but a 



THE SHAD FISHERIES. 295 

great many of the old settlers could hardly reconcile 
their minds to the exchange. They did, however, but 
with extreme reluctance. 

The day of railroads had no existence forty years 
ago. " De Witt Clinton and the grand canal," were 
the watchwords of progress. New York led off, and 
the other states followed in her wake. The motto 
was interwoven upon handkerchiefs and vest patterns. 
I well remember of wearing a vest with these words 
interwoven all over it. And so with the ordinary 
water pitchers; they would be decorated with the 
profile likenesses of Washington, Lafayette, Decatur, 
Lawrence, Perry, or Scott, so that every time the old 
pioneer brought the cider mug to his mouth, he had 
looking him in the face some one of the land or ma- 
rine heroes of the country. A good reminder ! It 
may be said these were days of primeval simplicity. 
I would they could return to us again. Particularly 
if they would bring along with them those habits of 
honest rusticity, when jails were tenantless, and the 
scaifold a thing of the imagination only. 

But our subject is not to theorize, but to jot down 
facts and things connected with the past, and blended 
with the lives and transactions of our ancestors. 

Plymouth was noted for its good shad fisheries. 
There were three of them. " The Mud Fishery," 
nearly opposite the old Steele ferry. The point of 
" hauling out " was on the west bank of the river, 
and probably a half mile below " Garrison Hill," called 



296 HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

also a "night fisliery." They never drew the seine in 
the daytime. I have taken part in the work here a 
great many nights, in years gone by, and have shared 
as many as a hundred shad for the labor of a night. 

Another fishery was located at " Fish Island," 
sometimes called "Park's Island." Its last name 
came from the residence of an old rheumatic man 
who hobbled on two crutches, one under each arm- 
pit, with a bag slung over his shoulders, in which he 
carried herbs. He was an herb doctor, and was 
known far and wide as Dr. Parks. Some time about 
the year 1835, he made a voyage to Washington, D. 
C, in his canoe. He went for a pension, and he got 
it. He came back with his canoe by the way of the 
Chesapeake and Delaware canal; thence up the Del- 
aware to Easfcon, and then up the Lehigh navigation 
to White Haven, within twenty miles of his home. 
Canoes in past days were an important river craft. I 
have already stated that this was the vessel Colonel 
Franklin navigated when he went on his mission from 
the valley to Annapolis, to present the settlers' peti- 
tion to Congress. He informs us that he left his 
canoe at Conawago Falls, near Harrisburg, and pro- 
ceeded the rest of his journey on foot, by land. 

Dr. Parks being unable to walk, or with very 
great difficulty, passed through the falls and landed 
at the wharves on the Potomac at Washington. The 
doctor gave a circumstantial and interesting account 
of his voyage on his return, and exhibited his pension 



THE SHAD FISHERIES. 297 

certificate; as to the propriety of granting it, the people 
of the valley generally entertained very grave doubts. 
And I believe it never has yet been ascertained, and 
probably never will be, for what particular military 
service this bounty was granted. He said " it took 
him just two months to make the voyage; and the 
rheumatics enemost killed him, too; the tide water 
seemed to baffle the vartu of all his yarbs, and at one 
time he nearly give in." 

Dr. Parks had a slab hut some ten feet square, 
and six feet high, on Fish Island. This was his dom- 
icile and home, except during high floods, and when 
these occurred, the doctor, along with the exodus of 
his friends and neighbors, the muskrats, would seek 
refuge on the main land. His cabin was fastened by 
a cable to a huge sycamore hard by. 

The old name of Fish Island became partially 
obscured; the long residence of the root doctor at- 
taching to it his own patronymic. Before the erec- 
tion of the dam immediately below, this island was 
much larger than it is now, the back flow of the 
water has submerged probably two-thirds of the 
original surface. 

This was a day fishery, and in early times there 
were some most extraordinary " hauls " made. One 
of them, somewhere between 1790 and 1800, tradi- 
tion informs us, yielded " nine thousand nine hundred 
and ninety-nine shad." I have been informed by 
persons who were present, that this haul was made on 



298 HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

a Sunday morning; that in bringing the seine to, on 
the point of the island, it soon became apparent that 
the twines of the meshes would not withstand the 
pressure of the load, and that two other nets were 
put around it, and in this way only a part of the 
immense catch was secured. That the number of 
fish taken at this haul was nearly or quite ten thou- 
sand, there is no question. I have heard the relation 
of the story from the mouths of credible persons who 
were present at the time. 

The third was known as the "Dutch Fishery," 
located at the lower end of the narrows below Nanti- 
coke; the upper end of the Croup farm was the point 
of " hauling out." The fishing was done most gen- 
erally here during the night, though occasionally they 
dragged their nets in the daytime. My father said 
that his share at one night's catch, at this fishery, 
was nineteen hundred. He was the owner, however, 
of the seine, and drew a fifth of the product. 

I think that it may be fair to estimate that these 
three fisheries, in an ordinary season, would yield not 
less than two hundred thousand shad. The state, 
therefore, in closing up the natural channels of the 
Susquehanna, did an immense injury to the people 
along its shores. The policy, however, which caused 
it may have made a full equivalent for the damage in 
other ways. The generation, however, who immedi- 
ately preceded us, could not forget the annual luxury 
which the shad fisheries of the Susquehanna had 



THE OSWEGO BASS. 299 

afforded them. With them it was ever a subject of 
regret, that they had exchanged their fisheries for the 
canal. 

An attempt has been made within the few past 
years to so arrange the schutes of the Susquehanna 
dams that the shad may pass up them; but the 
result thus far has been an ahnost total failure. The 
people of this valley will probably never have the sat- 
isfaction of seeing the river stocked with this most 
delicious fish, so long as the waters are made contrib- 
utory for feeders of the canal. The shad fisheries, 
therefore are among the things of the past. 

The Susquehanna, but for its shad, was not re- 
markably celebrated for its fish. Eels were pretty 
abundant in the fall of the year, but the season for 
taking them was very short; and its waters contained 
but few other specimens, and those comparatively in- 
significant in number. " The Oswego bass," however, 
were common in its waters, and sometimes obtained 
a large size. I have seen them of fourteen pounds 
weight. 

Within my own recollection the Plymouth moun- 
tains, and the broad stretch of forest between them and 
the Blue Ridge, contained a great abundance of game. 
Deer were remarkably plenty ; and wild turkeys 
might be seen in large flocks. Pigeons, particularly 
in the spring of the year, would alight upon the 
Shawnee flats in countless numbers. Peter Gould, 
who resided in a log house a few rods above the Acad- 



300 HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

emy, was celebrated for his skill and success in taking 
these birds. He sold them at a shilling a dozen, with 
a dull demand at that price. I have occasionally 
heard the wolves howl by night on the Plymouth 
mountain. 

The clearing up, however, of the forest land, and 
its occupation by the husbandman, drove off the 
remnant of these denizens of the wood ; the deer 
and the wild turkeys, with the red man, have disap- 
peared. 

Our town does not chronicle the names of any 
very celebrated hunters. Those people lived a step 
further towards the " green woods." Joseph Worth- 
ington, of Lake memory, was a renowned hunter, as 
was James Wandel of Union township. The ex- 
ploits of these two men would fill a small volume. 
They would make contracts with the early retail deal- 
ers of merchandise to furnish them game by the 
wagon load, which was sent to New York and Phila- 
delphia in exchange for goods. The price of venison 
in those days was four and five cents a pound, for the 
saddle. 

These two men, when the game disappeared, 
wended their way west. They had been so long ac- 
customed to a life on the border, that they felt the 
encroachment of the pioneer's axe. Worthington 
went first to Illinois, then to Kansas, and the last 
heard of him was in California, still in pursuit of his 
old and darling occupation. Though now if living — 



OLD HUNTEKS. 301 

and lie was a year since — waning towards eighty, still 
upon the track of the quarry ! A Daniel Boone of 
the wild woods. Wandel also went ■ west under the 
same impulses which moved Worthington, and was 
also living at a very recent date. 

It is a marvel to what an extreme old age these 
hunters will attain. We would suppose their occu- 
pation would be very prejudicial to health. George 
Sax, the great panther hunter of " the shades," is 
living at over eighty. I think that John McHenry, 
of Fishing creek, is still living. Mr. Pearce, in his 
Annals, informs us that the old hunter told him in 
1840, that his registry then numbered nineteen hun- 
dred deer and sixty-five bears, besides immense quan- 
tities of other game. 

The forests of the Susquehanna and its tributaries 
were alive with game. When we reflect that the 
streams also were well stocked with fish, and that the 
natural prairies bordering the river were free from 
trees and incumbrances, so that the Indian could 
easily till his cornfields, we may well conclude that he 
left his wigwam with as keen an anguish as the most 
intellectual and enlightened white man would his 
houses, his fields and his herds. Human natures are 
alike in their attachments. The Indian was happy in 
the occupation of his wild domain. He roved over it 
with all the conscious pride of a conqueror. He ac- 
knowledged no allegiance but to Manitou. The 
Great Spirit was, in his judgment, his only superior. 



302 HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

To him alone lie acknowledged submission. To the 
white man he was too proud to pay tribute. 

When the German missionary, prompted by the 
most elevated piety, and ready to meet almost any 
sacrifice, approached the wigwam of the Shawnees, 
the keen and penetrating glance of these children of 
nature saw, that in the professions for the good of 
their sj)iritual wants, they were coming in contact 
with a people who, though they might tender kind 
offices, still might inflict great harm; they brandished 
their scalping-knives and exhibited every demonstra- 
tion of dissatisfaction. They were probably in the 
right. Events which followed show but too plainly 
that the advance of the white man was to them, the 
signal of extermination and death. 

But civilization came, and the Indian and the for- 
ests and the wild game vanished before it. And in all 
this change it is probably for the best. The territory 
of old Plymouth to-day furnishes emjiloyment, and its 
industrial pursuits feed some ten thousand intelligent 
people. Churches and seminaries of learning, and 
manufactories and machinery, all tell the story of the 
advance of knowledge and the useful arts. The ex- 
change of these for the occupations of the trapper and 
hunter, bespeak a better state of things. It is the 
enlargement of the area for the more useful em- 
ployments of free and enlightened men. Though this 
may have been a sacrifice to a few, the general good 
which the multitude has reaped is a consummation 



EARLY MERCHANTS. 303 

which is to be approved. Broad and diffusive as the 
rays of the sun, the blessings of high civilization 
reach and permeate the great masses; thousands are 
made happy and independent, instead of the comjjar- 
atively small number of the past. We will conclude 
the chajDter with the remark of Othello to honest 
lago, that " it is better as it is." 



CHAPTER XIV. 

EARLY MERCHANTS. 

BENJAMIN HARVEY, Jr., of Captain Ransom's 
Independent Company revolutionary service, and 
who died from exposure at Valley Forge, seems to 
have been the first merchant of Plymouth. In 1774 
he started a small retail store in the log house of his 
father, which has been already mentioned, and located 
veiy near the site of the Christian Church building. 
Here, for a couple of years, he dealt in a small way in 
articles of absolute necessity — salt, leather, iron, a 
few groceries, etc. At that time, and for many sub- 
sequent years, all articles of merchandise were trans- 
ported upon the river in " Durham boats." These 
boats were some forty feet in length, with a beam of 
some tet feet, and would carry from fifteen to twenty 
tons burden. They were propelled with long " set- 
ting-poles," with iron sockets at the ends, three men 
19 



304 HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

on each side, with a steersman at the stern. Ten or 
twelve miles up the stream was considered a fair day's 
work. 

These boats were the only means of transportation 
of merchandise until the making of the Easton and 
Wilkes- Barre turnpike. This thoroughfare was com- 
pleted about the year 1807. Thence down to the 
time of the canal navigation in 1830, the merchants 
of the entire valley received all their goods, either by 
" Durham boats " on the river, or by wagons on the 
turnpike. The turnpike company was chartered in 
1802, and the road was constructed at a cost of 
$75,000. This road was regarded as a very import- 
ant matter by the early settlers of the valley; and in- 
deed such was the fact, as it gave a much shorter 
outlet to the seaboard. The corporation was a joint- 
stock company, and it required the contribution of 
nearly every landholder in the valley to accomplish 
the construction of this important link of intercommu- 
nication. Seventy-five thousand dollars in 1802 was 
a large sum of money to be raised, and it required a 
united effort of all the people to accomplish it. 

The old " Conestoga wagon," drawn by four 
horses, was the vehicle of transportation on the turn- 
pike. It has disappeared; but it was a goodly sight 
to see ohe of those huge wagons drawn along by four 
strong, sleek, and well-fed horses, with bearskin hous- 
ings and "winkers tipped with red." It was very 
common to have a fifth horse on the lead. I have 



THE CONESTOGA WAGONS. 305 

seen trains of these wagons, miles in length, on the 
great road leading to Pittsburg, as late as 1830. It 
was the only way of transportation over the Allegheny 
chain westward. A wagon would carry three, four, 
and sometimes five tons. The bodies were long, pro- 
jecting over front and rear, ribbed with oak, covered 
with canvas, and generally painted blue. There were 
several persons, residents of the valley, who made it 
their only occupation to carry goods for the early 
merchants here. Joshua Pettebone, one of this num- 
ber, is still living in Kingston at an advanced age. 

But in the days of the first merchant of Plymouth, 
the " Conestoga wagon " was not known. His trans- 
port was the " Durham boat." It will be remembered 
that Benjamin Harvey, Jr., that same first merchant, 
was at Fort Augusta, near Sunbury, with his boat, in 
December, 1775, when Colonel Plunkett imjDressed 
him and his vessel into the Proprietary service, imme- 
diately preceding the battle of Nanticoke. He was 
then on his way down the Susquehanna for a supply 
of goods for his log store. 

After the enlistment of Mr. Harvey in the United 
States army, his father took charge of his small stock 
of goods and sold them out, but the store was never 
replenished. 

From this time down to the year 1808, there 
seems to have been no store kept in Plymouth. In 
February of that year, my father, the late Joseph 
Wright, opened a small retail establishment in the 



306 HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

east room of his residence, in the lower end of the 
village; the same building is now standing there, 
in a good state of preservation. By a reference to his 
ledger, which is in my possession, I find the first en- 
try bears date the twenty-sixth February, 1808. 
"Abraham Tillbury, Dr. 

" To one qt, of rum, at 7-6 per gallon, £0. Is. 
10 l-2d." 

It is well for our young people, therefore, to 
know, that even as late as 1808, accounts were kept 
in Plymouth in pounds, shillings, and pence. 

Mr. Jameson Harvey informs me, and to whose 
kindness I am indebted for many interesting facts 
concerning the early settlement of our town, that he 
made the first purchase at the new store. He bought 
"a Jew's Harp, and paid sixpence for it in cash." 
He being at that time a minor, it is probable 
he did not deem it prudent to ask for credit. Mr. 
Tillbury therefore, must be placed as second upon 
the list. 

These old books, which tell in plain and simple 
language the plain and simple habits of a race of 
people gone, I cannot lay aside without permitting 
them to speak out. In the first place, the handwrit- 
ing is dear to me; for it brings before me the benev- 
olent and honest countenance of the man who noted 
down the memoranda upon these venerable pages, 
nearly seventy years ago. And in the next place, 
are the names of all the hardy old settlers of the 




THE WRIGHT HOUSE, AND BIRTH PLACE OF AUTHOR. 



THE OLD LEDGEK. 307 

town, with the faces of nearly every one of whom I 
was familiar. And their economy, and that all im- 
portant question of living within one's means, are 
spread out on every page of the ancient ledger. It 
is true that the accounts against Abraham Pike, 
William Hodge, Thomas Car Skadden, Benjamin 
Eumsey, Adolph Heath, John L. Shaw and some 
others, have rather too much of a sprinkKng of rum 
about them ; but then we must remember that it 
was wise lips which uttered the sentence — " Let him 
that is without sin, cast the first stone." 

The logic of the old ledger shows us that people 
can live comfortably and happy without money. 
Barter and exchange seem to have been the rule in 
the primitive days of the town. The old ledger shows 
the payment of a small, very small sum of money, 
occasionally. Abijah Smith was one of the principal 
customers of the store. He was then makins: a small 
beginning of the trade, and engaged in the develop- 
ment of an article which later years has increased to 
a wonderful magnitude. He paid money, while nearly 
all the other customers of the store paid in the pro- 
duct of the farm. The accounts exhibit the fact that 
of an annual sale of probably two thousand dollars, 
there was not paid in cash, exclusive of the money of 
Abijah Smith, ten pounds. The credits are for wheat, 
rye, corn, oats and flax. The last article particularly is 
a large item. And this is by no means singular, as 
tow and linen cloth were staples of old Plymouth in 



308 HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

those remote days. Credit also for bear and deer 
skins, venison and wild turkeys, appear here and 
there, but cash rarely. The goods bartered in 
exchange were mostly the absolute and necessary 
wants of life; iron, leather, salt, molasses (generally 
sold by the pint and quart), sugar, tea, coffee (in 
small quantities, a quarter and half pound at a time), 
cutlery, spices; no cloths of any account, thread, nee- 
dles, pins, calico, muslin and cambric (in small quan- 
tities), to the most opulent; and these made the bulk 
of the necessaries. The luxuries may be summed up 
in rum, whisky, tobacco and snuff. 

The old settlers of that day generally smoked 
their tobacco in pipes. The charges of pipes, at 
three-pence a piece, are numerous. The only entry I 
find of cigars are several charges to John Turner, at 
the very moderate price of three-pence a dozen. 

The accounts embrace the names of the people 
generally of the town — Calvin and Noah Wadhams, 
Benjamin Keynolds, Abraham and James Nesbitt, 
Samuel and James Pringle, Thomas Davenport, Wil- 
liam Currie, George P. Ransom, Mrs. Rosannah Har- 
vey, Abraham, Nicholas and Stephen Vanloon, Hez- 
ekiah Roberts, Joshua Pugh, Jonah and Joel Rogers, 
Charles Barney, John and Daniel Turner, Jesse Cole- 
man, Moses Atherton, Jacob and Peter Gould and 
Philip Andrus. These, with names already given, 
and a few others, were the principal customers at 
Joseph Wright's store in 1808. 




JOHN B. SMITH'S O P E li A HOUSE. 



EARLY CUSTOMERS OF THE STORE. 309 

There is not one of them except Abijah Smith 
whose annual account amounts to a hundred dollars. 
We do not find in this fact a want of ability to pay, 
but it exhibits a frugality and a disposition of the 
men of that day to contract no debt that they could 
not pay. And to show how little our ancestors knew 
about paper money, every note paid in is registered 
in the back of the ledger, giving the name of the 
bank issuing the note, from whom received, and its 
date and number. 

In 1812, Joseph Wright sold out his stock of 
goods to the Reverend George Lane, who continued 
the best part of the year at the old stand, then taking 
Benjamin Harvey, a son of Elisha, and whom we 
must designate as the third of that name, into part- 
nership with him, they commenced business in a 
small frame building, lately removed by Mr. John B. 
Smith, and on the site of the new Music Hall. They 
continued on at this stand until 1816, when Mr. 
Lane removed to Wilkes-Barre, put up a dwelling 
and store at the north-west corner of the public square 
and Market street (Osterhout property now), where 
he carried on the business of a merchant for several 
years. Mr. Harvey the same year removed to Hunt- 
ington, where he still resides. 

The next mercantile adventure in the township 
was a firm composed of Joseph Wright, Benjamin 
Reynolds, and Joel Rogers. This firm opened a store 
in a small frame building on the east side of the road, 



310 HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

opposite the j)resent residence of Mr. Henderson Gay- 
lord. This was in the year 1812. They employed 
Mr. Gaylord, then a young man and resident of Hunt- 
ington, as the clerk and salesman. And this young 
gentleman here commenced the pursuit of an occupa- 
tion, which he carefully and industriously followed 
up in after years, with a very prosperous result. 

This firm was dissolved in October, 1814, and the 
business continued by Mr. Kogers and Mr. Gaylord, 
under the firm of Joel Rogers & Co., up to 1816. 

In this year a new firm of Reynolds, Gaylord & 
Co. was formed, consisting of Benjamin Reynolds, 
Henderson Gaylord and Abraham Fuller, which con- 
tinued to December, 1818, when Abraham Fuller 
died. From this period down to the fall of 1824, 
Mr. Gaylord continued the business, and then entered 
into a partnership with the late William C. Rey- 
nolds. This partnership lasted for a period of ten 
years, under the firm name of Gaylord & Reynolds. 
During this time they had established a branch at 
Kingston. 

Shortly after the dissolution of the firm of Gay- 
lord & Reynolds, in 1836, Mr. Gaylord and Draper 
Smith formed a partnership, which continued down 
to 1839, when it was dissolved. 

In 1816, the business stand was removed to the 
premises now occupied as a hotel by John Deen, and 
continued there to the year 1827. In that year Mr. 
Gaylord erected a store-house on the opposite side of 




n E N D E K S O N G A Y Ij O R D. 



OLD FIRMS. 311 

the street, in which he and Mr. Smith carried on the 
business till they dissolved, and Mr. Gaylord alone 
from that time up to 1856, when he retired. 

About the year 1828, John Turner opened a store 
where Turner Brothers now are. Soon after that he 
sold his stock to Gaylord & Keynolds. Asa Cook, 
now a resident of Boss township, commenced business 
in the Turner store, and was soon followed by John 
Turner, in the same building, and the establishment 
has been continued down to the present time either in 
his name or the name of his sons. 

Samuel Davenport and Elijah W. Keynolds opened 
a store where A. S. Davenport, son of Samuel, now 
keeps, in the year 1834. This firm was dissolved in 
1835, and the business continued by Samuel Daven- 
port to the year 1840, when he formed a partnership 
with John B. Smith; this firm lasted till the death 
of Mr. Davenport, which was in the year 1850, and 
for several years succeeding the store was continued 
by Mr. Smith. 

Ira Davenport opened the establishment he now 
occupies in the year 1845. Chauncey A. Reynolds 
also opened a store in 1850, which was continued by 
him some four or five years. 

And this completes the history in a few para- 
agraphs of the early merchants of the town. It is 
an agreeable reflection that none of them failed or 
became bankrupt. All of them were successful, and 
the most of them, though beginning with small 



312 HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

means, became men of wealth. I am not aware that 
any of them were addicted to habits of intemperance, 
and being acquainted with them all, with the excep- 
tion of Benjamin Harvey, the pioneer, if such had 
been the case, it would not have escaped my knowl- 
edge. They were, too, men of correct business hab- 
its, and enjoyed the confidence and respect of the 
people of the town. 

It is certainly worthy of record, that among so 
considerable a number of men engaged for so long a 
period of time, that there should have been no fail- 
ures, and that sobriety and temperance should have 
been a characteristic of every one of them, and each 
successful. It may be a very difficult task to find a 
parallel. 

The business character, enterprise and upright 
conduct, therefore, of the merchants of Plymouth of 
earlier days, furnish a good model for the imitation of 
their successors; and if he who writes the history of 
the merchants of Plymouth at the end of the next 
fifty years, will be able to truthfully state what is here 
recorded of the fifty and more years past, it will not 
merely be to him an agreeable duty, but will illustrate 
the fact that moral precept and good examples have 
had their influence. 



SAMUEL DAVENPORT. 



CHAPTER XV. 

COAL TKADE, AND COAL MEN. 

IN the fall of the year of 1807, Abijah Smith pur- 
chased an ark of John P. Arndt, a merchant of 
Wilkes-Barre, which had been used for the transpor- 
tation of plaster, for the price of $24.00. This ark 
he floated to PljTnouth, and loaded with some fifty 
tons of anthracite coal, and late in the same season he 
landed it safely at Columbia, Lancaster county. Pa. 

This was probably the first cargo of anthracite 
coal that was ever otiered for sale in this or any other 
country. The trade of 1807 was fifty tons; that of 
1870, in round numbers, sixteen millions! It may 
be fairly estimated that the sale of 1880 will reach 
twenty-five millions. 

Abijah Smith therefore, of Plymouth, was the 
pioneer in the coal business. Anthracite coal had 
been used before 1807, in this valley and elsewhere, 
in small quantities in furnaces, with an air blast; but 
the trafiic in coal as an article of general use, was 
commenced by Abijah Smith, of Plymouth. The 
important discovery of burning coal without an air 
blast, was made by Hon. Jesse Fell, of Wilkes-Barre, 
one of the Judges of the Luzerne county courts, on 
the eleventh day of February, 1808, and less than 
six months after the departure of the first cargo from 

(313) 



314 HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

tlie Plymoutli mines. This important discovery, 
which led to the use of coal for culinary and other 
domestic purposes, enabled Mr. Smith, in the year 
succeeding his first shipment, to introduce it into the 
market. But even then, as is the case in most new 
discoveries, the public were slow in coming to the 
conclusion that it would answer the purposes of fuel. 
Time, however, has fully demonstrated its usefulness; 
and the rapid increase of its consumption, from fifty 
tons annually, to sixteen millions, in a period of a lit- 
tle more than fifty years, is one of the wonders of the 
nineteenth century. 

The statistical tables of the trade, which yearly 
appear in the public press, date the commencment 
in 1820. It is put down in that year at three hun- 
dred and sixty-five tons, as the shipment from the 
Lehigh region to market. 

In this there is error, for thirteen years previous 
to that time, as we have already stated, Mr. Smith 
had shipped coal from his Plymouth mine. But in 
fact the article had been put in the market long pre- 
vious to 1820, by other persons than the Messrs. 
Smith. 

Charles Miner, Jacob Cist, John W. Eobinson 
and Stephen Tuttle, all of Wilkes-Barre, had leased 
the old Mauch Chunk mines, and in August, 1814, 
had sent an ark load of it down the Lehigh. Mr. 
George M. Hollenback sent two ark loads down the 
Susquehanna, taken from his Mill creek mines, in 




^^^^ *^ 



A B IJ A U SMITH'S COAL OPENING OF ISO", 



EARLY COAL MINING. 315 

I 

1813. The same year, Joseph Wright, of Plymouth, 
mined two ark loads of coal from the mines of his 
brother, the late Samuel G. Wright, of New Jersey, 
near Port Griffith, in Pittston. This was an old 
opening, and coal had been mined there for the 
smith's forge as far back as 1775. The late Lord 
Butler, of Wilkes-Barre, had also shipped coal from 
his mines, more generally known of late years as the 
" Baltimore mines," as early as 1814, and so had 
Crandal Wilcox, of Plaines township. 

My object in making these references is to show 
that the coal-trade actually began in 1807, and not 
in 1820, as is now generally believed. 

But while the persons I have named did not fol- 
low up the business, Abijah and John Smith, his 
brother, continued the business down to the period 
of their respective deaths; and their children contin- 
ued on the trade long afterwards. 

Abijah Smith came to the valley in 1806, and 
in that or the following year he purchased some 
seventy-five acres of coal-land on the east side of Ran- 
som's creek, for about five hundred dollars. In 1807 
he commenced mining; and coal has been taken al- 
most yearly from the opening he made down to the 
present period. 

In the year 1808, his brother John came to the 
valley. He bought the coal designated in the deed, 
from Wm. Curry, Jr., as " Potts of Coal," on the ad- 
joining tract of one hundred and twenty acres, for 



316 HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

the consideration of six hundred dollars. This mine 
was soon after opened, and workings have been unin- 
terruj)tedly continued ever since. Abijah and John 
were partners in the coal business for many years. 
They were natives of Derby, in the state of Connec- 
ticut. From the time they commenced coal opera- 
tions, they continued on in trade, as a means of living, 
for the remainder of their lives. It was their sole oc- 
cupation. They prosecuted their employment with 
great energy and perseverance, and amid a great 
many difficulties and disappointments; and although 
neither of them lived to see their anticipations real- 
ized, their descendants — who are still the owners of 
the estates they purchased more than a half century 
ago — are enjoying the advantages and comforts which 
resulted from their ancestor's foresight and judg- 
ment. 

Abijah died in 1826, at his residence, the site of 
which is now occupied by the new brick Music Hall, 
recently put up by his son, John B. Smith, of Ply- 
mouth. His brother John died in 1852. 

I knew them both intimately for a great number 
of years. They were industrious, upright and worthy 
men. They started the coal trade, and their names 
will ever be blended with it. 

It is proper that we should examine into the 
details of the mode and manner of mining and trans- 
portation, as pursued by these early pioneers in the 
business. There are but few now engaged in the great 



JOHN SMITH. 



PROCESS OF MINING. 317 

trade who are aware of the troubles and sacrifices 
whicli attended it in its infancy. We wall look at the 
child when in its swathing bands; it is now a giant, 
but fifty years ago it was in its infancy. The experi- 
ment which was perseveringly followed up, and beset 
on all sides by difficulties and hazards, resulted in a 
grand success. 

The annual trade, which at the commencement 
was limited to hundreds of tons, has now become tens 
of millions of tons. The price of coal land of five 
dollars an acre, in the days of the Smith purchase, is 
now a thousand per acre. What the future demand 
for the article may be — or the annual production — the 
future alone can determine, human foresight cannot; 
nor can it be said that the field is inexhaustible. 
There is a limit to it; and those who will occupy our 
places five hundred years hence, will say that our 
prophecy is not entirely fiction. 

In the early process of mining, there was no powder 
used: this, under the present system, is the chief 
agency. It was all done with the pick and wedge. The 
miner did his labor by the day, and received from fifty 
to seventy-five cents. The product of his day's labor 
was about a ton and a half; his time was from sunrise 
to sunset. The coal was transported from the mine to 
the place of shipment, in carts and wagons, and de- 
posited upon the banks of the river, to be put in arks, 
in the time of the annual spring freshets of the Sus- 
quehanna. 



318 HISTOEICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOTJTH. 

The process of mining with the pick and wedge 
was too slow and too exjDensive. Mr. Abijah Smith 
came to the conclusion that the ordinary powder 
blast might be made available in mining. He must 
have some one, however, who was accustomed to the 
quarries. There was no one here who understood the 
business. 

In the year 1818 he found that he could get a 
man for the work. This man was John Flanigan, of 
Milford, Connecticut. His occupation was quarrying 
stone with the powder blast. He wrote to Mr. Flani- 
gan to come and make the experiment, — we say ex- 
periment, because it was contended that coal had not 
enough of strength and consistency to be properly 
mined with a blast. That the explosion would not 
reach far enough, and loosen and detach a sufficient 
quantity to make the blast economical in mining. 

In March of that year, Mr. Flanigan came on. 
The result of the experiment was a success. We may 
therefore chronicle the name of John Flanigan as the 
first man who ever bored a hole and aj)plied the powder 
blast in the anthracite coal of Pennsylvania. An im- 
portant era in the commencement of a trade that has 
become so immense in later years. 

In August of the same year he returned to Mil- 
ford in company with Samuel French, a step-son of 
John Smith, for the purpose of removing his family 
to Plymouth. 

I am obliged to Mrs. Flanigan, who is still living 



MKS. FLANIGAN's JOURNEY. 319 

with one of her sons in Kingston, at a very advanced 
age, for an account of their journey from Milford to 
Plymouth. 

She says, " that on the sixth of September, 1818, 
my husband, myself, and five children, in company 
with Samuel French and Henry Grabriel, set out for 
the Susquehanna. Om* conveyance was a two-horse 
covered lumber wagon, in which myself and children 
and a few traps were deposited; the men walking. At 
the end of eleven of the longest days of my life, we 
landed at Abijah Smith's, in Plymouth. I bore up 
under the dreary journey, and preserved my courage 
pretty well, till we struck the log way, on the Easton 
and Wilkes-Barre turnpike, when I was forced to 
give vent to my feelings, and wept like a child. Had 
I but foreseen, before starting, the trials and misery 
of the long journey ahead, I should never have con- 
sented to have left my old home and friends." 

Of this party, Henry Gabriel was one. He was a 
blacksmith, and made Plymouth his home and resi- 
dence. He married respectably, and spent a long, la- 
borious and useful life there. He was a man of integ- 
rity, and a most excellent and exemplary citizen. He 
accumulated some property, and died but a few years 
since, beloved and regretted by the whole of the com- 
munity, in which he spent the greater part of his life. 

Samuel French afterwards became one of the prin- 
cipal coal operators of Plymouth. He was engaged 
in the trade for several years, and at a time when the 
20 



320 HISTOKICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

profits arising from it, conducted in tlie most skilful 
and economical manner, would afford a living only. 
Mr. French, through much prudence and great in- 
dustry, accumulated some property in coal lands, 
which have recently been sold by his family at a thou- 
sand dollars an acre. 

He died some ten years since. He was a man 
very highly esteemed, and his conduct and manner of 
life most richly warranted it. Two of his sons are now 
business men of prominence in Plymouth. A daugh- 
ter of his is the wife of Elijah C. Wadhams, Esq. 

The annual average of the business of the Messrs. 
Smith, from 1808 down to 1820, was from six to 
eight ark loads, or about four to five hundred tons. 

The old Susquehanna coal ark, like the mastodon, 
is a thing of the past. The present men of the busi- 
ness should understand the character of the simple 
vessel used by the pioneers of the trade. Its size and 
dimensions, cost and capacity, must be chronicled. 
And the difl'erence between it and the present mode of 
transportation is as wide as the rough old grate of 
Jesse Fell — still to be seen — compared with the costly 
heating fixtures of the modern palace, of the modern 
coal prince. 

The length of the craft was ninety feet, its width 
sixteen feet, its depth four feet, and its capacity sixty 
tons. Each end terminated in an acute angle, with 
a stem-post surmounted by a huge oar, some thirty 
feet in length, and which required the strength of 



THE OLD COAL AKK. 321 

two stout men to ply it in the water. It required, in 
its construction, three thousand eight hundred feet of 
two inch-plank for the bottom, ends and sides; or 
seven thousand six hundred feet, board measure. The 
bottom timbers would contain about two thousand 
feet, board measure, and the ribs or studs, sustaining 
the side planks, four hundred feet; making a total of 
some ten thousand feet. 

The cost at that time for lumber was 

$4.00 per M $40.00 

Construction, mechanical work. . . . 24.00 
Running plank, oars, caulking material, 
hawser (made of wood fibres), bailing 
scoops, etc 6.00 

Total cost $70.00 

The ark was navigated by four men, and the or- 
dinary time to reach tide water was seven days. The 
cost attending the trip was about $50.00. Two out 
of three arks would probably reach the port of their 
destination; one-third was generally left upon the 
rocks in the rapids of the river or went to the bottom. 
The following estimate, therefore, of sixty tons of 
coal, laid down in market, is not far from the facts: 

Cost of mining 60 tons $4.5.00 

Hauling to the river , . 16.00 

Cost of ark 70.00 

Expenses of navigation 50.00 

Total $181.00 



322 HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

or equal to $3.00 a ton. To this must be added one- 
third for the perils of navigation, which will make the 
actual cost of the ton at tide water, $4.00. Commis- 
sions on sales, transhipment from the ark to coasting 
vessels and other incidents, would probably make the 
whole outlay upon a ton, about five dollars. 

The average price of sales at this time was proba- 
bly $10.00, leaving a profit of $5.00 on the ton. If, 
therefore, three hundred and fifty tons of the five 
hundred annually transported by the Messrs. Smith 
reached the market, it left them a profit of seventeen 
hundred dollars, not taking into the account their 
personal services. • 

Eight hundred and fifty dollars each. A modern 
family would consider themselves in very straitened 
circumstances, if limited to this sum for their yearly 
support. Times have materially changed, it is true; 
but foolish and unnecessary wants have multiplied be- 
yond all rules of propriety or necessity. These men 
lived comfortably and respectably upon the product 
of the business tliey were engaged in; and this did 
not sum up a thousand dollars annually to each. If 
the primitive days of our fathers did not spread their 
tables with unjiecessary luxuries, or their wardrobe 
with tinselled tawdry decorations, they slept as sound- 
ly, enjoyed themselves as well, and were quite as hap- 
py as the most favored and wealthy of the present 
time ; nay, a thousand times more so ; for their wants 
were few, and their ambition did not require curbs 
and fetters to prevent its " overleaping itself." 



"black stones" for fuel. 323 

In this small way the coal trade continued on 
from 1807 to 1820, when it assumed more importance 
in the public estimation. The years preceding that 
of 1820, were the years of its trials, and the men 
during that period who were engaged in the business, 
were merely able to sustain themselves with the 
closest economy and the most persevering and unre- 
mitting labor. Some of the Plymouth men who em- 
barked in the business, made total failures; and oth- 
ers encumbered their estates with debts which re- 
quired subsequent years of labor to wipe out. It was 
the work of forty years to convince the people that 
" black stones " could be made available for fuel. 
The problem at this day is fully solved. 

The following account current, rendered by Price 
& Waterbury, of New York, to Abijah Smith & Co., 
composed of Abijah and John Smith, in 1813, and 
furnished me by Mr. John B, Smith, is a remarkably 
interesting relic of the coal business in its infancy. 
It very clearly exhibits two facts: one, the demand, 
price and consumption of coal, in the great city of 
New York, at that period; and the other, the won- 
derful zeal manifested in the " pioneer dealers to intro- 
duce the article into the market. 

The coal was sent to Havre de Grace, Maryland, 
and thence by coasting vessels to New York. 

"New York, February, 1813. 
"Messrs. Abijah Smith & Co.— Gentlemen : Having lately 
taken a view of the business we have been conducting for you this 



324 HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

sometime past, we liaf e thought it "would be gratifying to have the 
account forwarded, and therefore present you with a summary of it 
up to the eighteenth of January, 1813, containing, first, the quan- 
tity of coal sold and to whom ; second, the amount of cash paid by 
us from time to time ; third, the amount of interest, cash on the 
various sums advanced, the credit of interest on sums received, and 
lastly, the quantity of coal remaining on hand unsold. Should you, 
on the receipt of this, find any of the items incorrect, we need 
hardly observe that the knowledge of such an error will be cor- 
rected with the greatest pleasure. As it respects our future plan 
of procedure, we shall expect to see one of your concern in the city 
sometime in the spring, when a new arrangement may be fixed 
upon. Our endeavors to establish the character of the coal shall not 
at any time be wanting, and we calculate shortly to dispose of the 
remaining parcels of coal unsold. 

1812. 
June 8. — By cash of Doty & Willets for 5 chaldrons 

coal $100.00 

By cash of John Withington for 5 chaldrons 

coal 100.00 

By cash of Coulthaid & Son for 10 chaldrons 

coal 200.00 

By John Benham's note (60 days) for 10 chal- 
drons coal 200.00 

By cash of G. P. Lorrillard for 1 chaldron coal 20.00 

By cash of J. J. Wilson for 4 chaldrons coal 80.00 

June 13,- — By cash of Doty & Willets for 5 chaldrons coal . . 100.00 
By cash of G. P. Lorrillard for 11^ chaldrons 

coal 230.00 

By A. Frazyer's note (90 days) for 25 chaldrons 

coal 475.00 

By cash received of T. Coulthaid for 5 chaldrons 

coal 100.00 

By M. Womas's note (90 days) for 20 chaldrons 

coal 380.00 

By half measurement, received for 9 bushels. . . . 6.33 



ACCOUNT CURKENT. 325 

June 13. — By B. Ward and T. Blagge for Ij chaldrons 

at |20 25.00 

By Wittinghara for 1^ chaldrons coal 10.00 

June 25. — By Pirpont for ^ chaldron coal 11.00 

By Mr. Lands for ^ chaldron coal 12.00 

July 16.— By Robert Barney for 17| chaldrons at $22 

per chaldron 385.00 

Sept. 15. — By cash for 1 chaldron coal 12.50 

Oct. 9. — By William Colman for ^ chaldron coal 12.50 

By Sexton & Williamson for 1^ chaldrons coal 37.50 

Oct. 24. — By cash for 1 chaldron coal 25.00 

Oct. 29. — By cash for ^ chaldron coal 12.50 

Nov. 7. — By cash for | chaldron coal 12.50 

Nov. 12.— By cash for 1 chaldron coal 25.00 

Nov. 16. — By Mr. A. Le Briton for 12 chaldrons at $25 per 

chaldron 288.50 

Dec. 5. — By cash for ^ chaldron coal 12.50 

Dec. 11. — By cash of A. Daily for ^ chaldron coal 12.00 

Dec. 14. — By cash for ^ chaldron coal 12.50 

1813. 

Jan. 4. — By cash for 1 chaldron coal 25.00 

Jan. 18. — By J. Curtiz for 9 bushels coal 6.27 

By amount of balance this day . . . .' 763.13 

Total $3,601.20 

Errors excepted. Price & Waterbury." 

It will be seen by this account current that coal 
was sold by the chaldron : thirty-six bushels, or 
nearly a ton and a third, to the clialdron. The sales, 
therefore, lor the New York supply in 1812, were inside 
of two hundred tons. Though the price was liberal, 
about $15.00 a ton, most of the early coal operators 
of Plymouth were unsuccessful. The risk attending 



326 HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

the navigation, and the system of barter and ex- 
change of those days, instead of cash, were serious 
obstacles in the coal trade. And even at a later pe- 
riod, when the canal opened a new thoroughfare of 
transportation, the trade was not remunerative. The 
demand for the article was limited, and it required 
years of struggle to establish the cash in the place of 
the credit system. 

Mr. Daniel Davenport embarked in the trade 
about the year 1826. He pursued the business for 
several years, but the result was the final loss of the 
greater part of his estate. Ziba Davenport also made 
the attempt, but with no better result. And to the 
unsuccessful catalogue of coal men may be added the 
names of Thomas Borbidge, Francis J. Smith, John 
Ingham, John Flanigan, and Martin Brenan. 

At a later period, some of the merchants connect- 
ing the coal trade with their business, turned it to 
some account; but still down to 1840 the coal busi- 
ness in Plymouth could by no means be regarded 
a success. And with the exception of the Messrs. 
Smith, nearly all of the men engaged in the trade at 
its commencement, or immediately after, met with 
disasters. 

The Smiths pursued the business steadily, with 
great economy and energy of purpose. These qualities, 
combined with the knowledge which they had gleaned 
from long experience, enabled them to live merely, 
but not to accumulate money. They held on to their 




FREEMAN THOMAS. 



GREAT RED ASH VEIN. 327 

mines, which in subsequent years became very valua- 
able. Tlie Messrs. Smith worked what is known as 
the great red ash seam, and which is thicker and the 
coal of a much better quaUty than the same seam on 
the east side of the river. On the east side of the 
river this seam crops out near the summit of the 
Wilkes-Barre mountain, and is not exceeding eight 
feet in thickness, while at the Smith mines, Avondale 
and Grand Tunnel, it averages twenty-six feet of pure 
coal. During the entire period that the Messrs. 
Smith worked this vein, some twenty years, and their 
successors a quarter of a century after them, the 
whole space cleared out has not reached ten acres. 

Modern mining and modern facilities of transpor- 
tation to market, and the demand are, of course, mak- 
ing deep inroads upon the red ash vein, and it is dif- 
ficult to anticipate what the next quarter of a cen- 
tury will have produced in the extent of mining in 
this very valuable coal seam. 

It is the underlying seam of the coal measures of 
the valley, and on the west side of the river by far 
the most valuable, because the largest. The John 
Smith part of the old mine is now owned by Mrs. 
William C. Reynolds, his daughter, and the Abijah 
Smith partjby his sons and the writer of this notice, 
and both under lease to Messrs. Broderick, Conygham 
and Walter. 

Among the later coal men, I must not omit the 
name of Freeman Thomas. He came to Plymouth, 



328 HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

from Northampton county, about the year 1811. He 
purchased the Avondale property. He gave it that 
name fifty years since. But when the old farmer con- 
ferred upon it this poetical cognomen, he was not 
aware of the vast mineral treasure which its surface 
concealed. 

Mr. Thomas was in advance of most of his neigh- 
bors in his knowledge of coal measures. At an early 
day he commenced driving the " Grrand Tunnel " into 
the mountain side, with the purpose of striking the 
coal. This was probably as early as 1828. This was 
the first experiment of tunneling in the Wyoming 
valley through rock. He labored on very assidu- 
ously for several years before the object was accom- 
plished. His neighbors regarded the enterprise as 
Utopian, but amidst all obstacles, and against the 
counsel and advice of his friends to abandon the tun- 
nel, he moved steadily and persistently on; and after 
three or four years of persevering labor, and with his 
credit almost sunk, he struck the big red ash vein. 

This experiment established a new theory, new at 
least in this valley. And the " Grand Tunnel," as 
its constructor named it, will long be remembered as 
one of the most expensive efforts of the early days of 
the coal pioneers, as also a monument to commemo- 
rate the name of the man whose sagacity and fore- 
sight were far in advance of his contemporaries. In 
the toiling years which he devoted to the excavation 
of the tunnel, he constantly encountered the opposi- 



FREEMAN THOMAS. 329 

tion of kis friends; and many of them failing in ar- 
gument to convince him of what they called his er- 
ror, would laugh at and deride him,as the last means 
of driving him from his fixed and determined purpose. 
But to all this he meekly submitted, still holding on 
to his own convictions, and finally proved to them all 
that the error was with them and not with himself. 

Freeman Thomas lived to a good old age. He died 
in 1847, at his home in Northumberland county, in 
his eighty-eighth year. He left the valley for his 
new residence some ten years since. His children are 
still the owners of the "Grand Tunnel" property, 
and they also own an undivided interest in Avondale. 

Not long: after the construction of the " Grand 
Tunnel," Jameson Harvey discovered coal upon his 
premises near by. And these two coal properties be- 
ing most eligible to the canal, were more extensively 
worked than any other mines in the township. Wil- 
liam L. Lance became the lessee of the " Grand Tun- 
nel " property in the year 1851. He carried on the 
business of mining and transporting coal from this 
mine for several years, and became otherwise very 
largely engaged in the trade. 

But although I did not commence my sketches of 
Plymouth with a view of speaking of its present 
prosperity, and the vast business that is now done in 
coal operations, I must mention the fact that proba- 
bly six thousand tons are now daily mined, prepared 
and shipped to market. 



330 HISTOKICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

There is not in the whole coal field of the valley 
as much merchantable coal embraced in the same 
area as there is within the region of " Old Shawnee." 
It is a favored spot in the great basin; and the fact 
that every acre within the measures will readily find 
sale at a thousand dollars, is conclusive proof of the 
allegation. 

When we compare the present trade (October, 
1871), with the business in 1812, it strikes us with 
surprise. There are now in Plymouth fifteen break- 
ers in active operation, yielding an aggregate of six 
thousand tons a day, and 23roducing annually a mil- 
lion and a half of tons. The probability is, from 
present prospects, that this will be increased to two 
millions in the course of a couple of years, and the 
increase of production has not exceeded the increase 
of values. Coal lands upon the mountain side fifty 
years since were considered of no account. While it 
was manifest that coal was present in large quantities, 
the fact of there being but a small demand, and no 
facilities of transportation, made the article a drug; 
and any one would have been deemed the fit subject 
for a mad-house and a straight-jacket who would have 
predicted the coal trade of Plymouth in 1871, at a 
milhon and a half of tons annually. The results 
have exceeded the anticipations of the most sanguine; 
and were Freeman Thomas alive at this day, he would 
find his air-built castles of forty years since more 
than reality. Men would laugh at his predictions, 



FREEMAN THOMAS. 331 

" tliat the man with a heard on his face," when he 
made them, " would live to see fifty thousand tons of 
coal shipped yearly from the Plymouth basin ! " If 
the old gentleman had said fifty thousand weekly, 
ho would have approached more nearly the result. 
But his estimate of " fifty thousand tons yearly," lost 
him the confidence of his neighbors, and they con- 
cluded, and so whispered among themselves, that 
"the man's mind was waning, and that it was a pity 
it was so." 

The men who condemned the sagacity and fore- 
sight of Freeman Thomas, lived, many of them, to see 
the most extravagant of his speculations far exceeded 
by the results. He was a man of much reflection, 
and he made the coal measures his study; and while 
by his expenditures he encumbered his estate, he 
lived to realize the fact that all his theories had 
become fixed realities, and he could well afford, there- 
fore, in the day of his prosperity, to retort upon those 
who had suggested that his mind was " waning " and 
his judgment was at fault. 

Mr. Thomas was a man of placid and even tem- 
per, kind, hospitable, and generous to a fault. The 
likeness we present of him was taken at seventy-one, 
and while not so perfect as it should be, still shows 
the resemblance and features of the man. 

I made every effort to procure a likeness of Abijah 
Smith, but he died before photographing became a 
science, and there is no painting representing him to 



332 HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

be had. It would have been exceedingly gratifying, 
if the face of this man, who was pre-eminently, the 
pioneer in the coal trade, could have been preserved 
to us. 

That a member of his family should be placed in 
my gallery, I thought proper : and therefore I pro- 
cured the consent of his son, John B. Smith, and who 
very much resembles his father, to consent that I 
might introduce his photographic likeness. 



CHAPTEK XVI. 



EARLY PHYSICIANS MORSE, MOREL AND, CHAMBERLIN, 

GAYLORD. 

THE first settlers of the town did not require the 
attendance of the doctor as frequently as their 
descendants. They were but little accustomed to 
that luxurious course of Kfe which is pretty sure to be 
followed by severe pains and penalties. They lived 
upon plain fare, and their hours of labor and rest 
were regular: — they therefore did not have much 
occasion for medicine. Every garret was an herba- 
rium in itself, and carefully supplied with medicinal 
plants and roots — catnip, balsam, elderberries, penny- 
royal, hemlock; and the whole family of roots and 
herbs were methodically arranged, tied up in bunches, 
and suspended from the rafters, and the matron of 




J O n N B. SMI T H. 



n»^ 



DR. WILLIAM HOOKER SMITH. 333 

the establighment pretty well understood liow to pre- 
pare, apply, and administer them. It was a part of 
her education, and she took pride in this branch of 
knowledge. Ajjothecary shops did not, in those days, 
occujiy the corner of every cross-road. The conse- 
quence was, that under this system, health was the 
general rule, and disease the incident. Modern cus- 
tom and habit have reversed it. 

Dr. William Hooker Smith, though not a resident 
of the town, was the earliest practitioner of medicine 
in it. He was the only physician of note of the 
whole valley, in the first settlement of Westmore- 
land; and the limits of his circuit extended through- 
out its broad territory. He has left behind him the 
fame and renown of a most skilful surgeon and able 
physician. The old settlers of the valley were all 
accustomed to speak of this man with great respect. 
He was, undoubtedly, a man of learning in his pro- 
fession, and entertained the public confidence to a 
wonderful degree. With such a man within a rea- 
sonable distance, there was but little occasion for 
local doctors. 

I do not learn that until in the beginning of the 
century, that Plymouth had an established resident 
physician. My own memory and observation go back 
nearly sixty years: at that time the physician was Dr. 
Anna IMorse, a stout, waddling old lady of two hun- 
dred pounds avoirdupois, with a green medicine bag 
pendant from her girdle, on one side, and the keys of 



334 HISTOEICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

the tap-room on the other. This was the same lady 
known as Mrs. Heath, of early times, and who was 
permitted to leave her house stand within the boun- 
daries of " the commonfield/' provided that she put 
a fence about it. The house is still standing in jux- 
taposition with the old rough barked elm, upon Ant 
Hill, a sketch of which appears in the back-ground 
of the elm-tree photograph, and a modern coal-breaker 
on the right of the picture. It may possibly have 
been enlarged since the time of holding " y" meeting 
on y^ twenty-fourth March, 1786/' at which Colonel 
John Franklin appeared as moderator, and Jonah 
Eogers, "dark." But the old two-story double 
frame house, was an old house when I first knew it, 
and Mrs. Doctor Morse was then the tenant and owner. 
Her first husband was Thomas Heath, the " town 
key-keeper," and grand juror, elected at the town 
meeting of Westmoreland, held "y^ second March, 
1774," and but five years after the first settlement of 
the town. 

At the time I speak of, Anna Morse, as an M. D., 
she had survived her second husband, and the old 
double-framed house was a licensed tavern. Before 
it creaked, on rusty liinges, a capacious sign-board, on 
which were painted in bold characters: — "Entertain- 
ment for Man and Horse! " The north-east room, on 
the first floor, contained the chest of drawers wherein 
were deposited the mysterious cures for all diseases. 

I have an occasion to remember the treatment of 



DR. MORSE. 335 

Dr. Morse; for when a child I was a patient of hers, 
and I distinctly remember listening to the conversa- 
tion uj)on her first visit, when the question was dis- 
cussed, in a low voice, whether the prescription should 
be '^ a hemlock sweat, or a dose of calomel and 
jallop." These were her invariable prescriptions, 
both for old and young, as well as for all diseases. 
The scale of occult science (to me at least), prepon- 
derated in favor of calomel and jallop; and holding 
in remembrance the nauseating taste, I have never 
been able to be reconciled to the appearance of a 
green bag. for from one of this kind the dose was 
taken. As a member of the bar, I never carried one. 
I could not abide it. 

Dr. Morse continued on for several years in the 
double capacity of the healing art, and vending liquor 
by the gill and half-gill. In these times liquor was 
bought by the measure ; the bottle was never set 
before the customer, to drink according to his pleas- 
ure. In fact the old custom of selling by the gill and 
half-gill was not abrogated till within the last forty 
years. A bold landlord was he, who first introduced 
the habit of placing a full decanter before his cus- 
tomer. 

After the decease of Mrs. Morse, Dr. Moreland, an 
old gentleman, resided a couple of years or so, in the 
town. This was probably about the years 1814 and 
1815. He left, and was succeeded by Dr. Ebenezer 
Chamberlin, in the year 1816. He was born in 
21 



336 HISTOEICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

Swanzej'-j Cheshire county, New Hampshire, Decem- 
ber first, 1790, and was the practising physician of 
the town, from the time of his immigration to his 
death, which occurred April twelfth, 1866. ^., 

An effort upon my part to give a biographical 
sketch of the doctor, I fear, will be abortive; and 
yet, probably, no one has more of the material at 
hand with which to do it. 

He was a man of good common sense; but his pro- 
pensity to turn everything which he touched into rid- 
icule, was a governing passion. As a physician, he 
was careful and prudent; and his long practice, united 
with his observation of the numerous cases which fell 
into his hands, made him ordinarily proficient. He 
might be classed as a very respectable physician: he 
made no pretensions to surgery. A redeeming feature 
of the man was his perfect willingness to listen to the 
counsel and advice of a consulting brother: a some- 
what rare virtue with the craft generally. 

He was an eccentric man, and the fund of his an- 
ecdote was inexhaustible. The greater part of his 
abundant stock, and always on hand ready for de- 
livery, will not bear repetition. He was not remark- 
ably choice in his selections. He was an original, 
and I have never met with an individual who so 
thoroughly blended sense and nonsense together; and 
yet there was a vein of cleverness throughout his con- 
versation. Before you reached the point of condemn- 
ing an out-of-place expression, he would convulse you 



DOCTOR CHAMBERLIN. 337 

with laughter with an unexpected hit, the embodi- 
ment of wit and sarcasm. 

As he was for fifty years the town physician, and 
known to everybody, great and small in it, it will 
not, I hope, be amiss to write out a few personalities 
of this unusual character. 

It was during the time that Charles C. Curtis 
kept the public school in the old Academy, that a Sat- 
urday afternoon would be occasionally assigned for 
what was called a " manners school." On these occa- 
sions the friends and patrons of the school would be 
invited to participate: there would be lectures on 
proper and becoming behavior — suggestions as to 
polite conduct, and now and then there would be short 
dramatic entertainments and colloquies — all having in 
view the lesson of civility and gentlemanly and 
womanly deportment. 

To give an impression of the clown, he must needs 
be exhibited. And this part was always assigned to 
the doctor. Without him the role would have been 
incomplete, and he acted it out to life. 

His grimaces, and blunders, and vulgar attitudes, 
actions and expressions, were life-like models, and the 
then, young doctor would bring down the hearty ap- 
plause of the house. 

His observation of men and things was scrutiniz- 
ing, and his conclusions were correct, but he had an 
odd way of illustration. 

Having in a measure lost the run of affairs in my 



338 HISTOEICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

native town, meeting the doctor, I inquired of him 
how matters were progressing there ? " Progressing," 
he replied, " I will tell you how things are progress- 
ing. Only a few years ago, Calvin Wadhams, Ben- 
jamin Reynolds and Joseph Wright wore boots on 
Sundays; and now only think of it, the Rumseys wear 
boots every day in the week ! " 

A few years after he came to the town, he became 
religious and joined one of the churches. I was upon 
the bank of the stream at his immersion. He had a 
dispute with the minister (Elder Rogers, I think it 
was), while in the water, about the necessary depth 
where the sacrament should be performed. It was 
finally compromised at " a depth of water reaching 
the lowest button on his vest." At the conclusion of 
the ceremony, as he came dripping out of the stream, 
with a strong shake of the shoulders, he repeated in a 
loud voice, " This is glory enough for one day." 

I am obliged to say, however, that he did not 
make a shining light in the church. 

To illustrate this ruling passion which he had of 
the ludicrous, when upon his death bed, he was asked 
the question, " how he felt with the approach of death 
so near at hand T' He replied, " that he was entirely 
contented. That since his sickness began, and which 
would probably be his last, he had carefully reviewed 
the whole subject of the past, and carefully contem- 
plating the future, the result of his conclusion was, 
that he had lived over forty years of his life in Shaw- 



DOCTOR CHAMBERLIN. 339 

nee, and had passed through the long time manfully, 
and he was now prepared for the worst; but did not 
anticipate, that under any state of circumstances, he 
could be placed in a more unfavorable position ! " 

But while the doctor had a rough exterior, and 
would make enetoies by the severity of his criticisms 
and remarks, he was a kind-hearted, generous man, 
and the last one in the world to entertain or cause a 
feeling of malevolence. At the cost, however, of re- 
laxing the bonds of friendship, he could not refrain 
from the perpetration of a joke. His gibes, however, 
were entirely harmless, and with those who knew him 
well, they were always forgiven. 

He was commissioner of the county for three years, 
and held for a long time the commission of Justice of 
the Peace. He never possessed the faculty of accu- 
mulating property, and the consequence was that he 
died poor; but there was no citizen of Plymouth who 
did not feel that in Dr. Chamberlin's death, there 
passed from the stage a man of generous impulses, 
and one who would not knowingly do a wrong. 

Dr. Charles E. Gaylord, father of the worthy gen- 
tleman of that name, still residing in the town, and in 
the enjoyment of a liberal fortune, the result of his 
own careful industry, can hardly be classed among 
the physicians of the town. 

Dr. Gaylord was an eminent physician. He was 
the son of one of the original " Forty " who first 
planted the advanced standard of civilization on the 



340 HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

wilderness frontier, in 1768. And tliere were none of 
that gallant and ]3erseveriDg band who suffered more 
in the toils, and exposures, and battles, than this 
family. Three of them were in Captain Eansom's 
company, in the Revolutionary war, and another fell 
in the Wyoming massacre. 

The father of Dr. Gaylord gave him a liberal 
course of study, and he graduated at an early day, in 
one of the medical colleges of Connecticut. He set- 
tled in Huntington, in this county, where he spent a 
long life in a laborious practice. He had an excellent 
reputation as a physician and surgeon. In the latter 
part of his life he came to Plymouth, and resided 
with his son to the time of his death, which was on 
the fourth day of February, 1839. While resident in 
Plymouth, he would occasionally be called on, in cases 
of consultation. He did not, however, pretend to 
practice to any extent in Plymouth. I remember him 
well, but at a time when he had become debilitated 
by the infirmities of age. He was a man very highly 
respected for his social virtues, and lived to a good 
old age. 

Dr. Charles E. Gay lord was one of the ablest phy- 
sicians of the territory of old Westmoreland. 

It was common to see the physicians of the ad- 
joining towns, in Plymouth, upon professional calls, 
forty years since. Doctors Baldwin, Whitney, Crary, 
Covels — father and son ; Atkins, Chrissey, J. J. 
Wright, Miner, Jones, all distinguished men: and all 



RESIDENCE OF HENDERSON GAYLORD. 



EARLY PREACHERS. 341 

save Dr. Wright, who is now the oldest surgeon in 
commission of the United States army, have paid the 
great, last debt of nature, and theii- names even have 
almost become forgotten. 



CHAPTER XVII. 



EARLY PREACHERS — ROGERS, LEWIS, LANE, PEARCE, 
PECK. 

HAVING already spoken of Noah AVadhams and 
Benjamin Bidlack, the two pioneers of the 
gospel of the town, I come now to the consideration 
of the state of the church, the different creeds, and 
the men who respectively supported them, after the 
conclusion of the two wars through which our people 
had passed. 

Before the erection of the old Academy, the sec- 
ond floor of which was dedicated exclusively to reli- 
gious meetings, and a common place of worship for all 
religious sects, services were conducted in private dwell- 
ings, school-houses, and sometimes in barns. The old 
stone-house in the lower part of the town, now occu- 
pied by Mrs. French, but in early days by the Cole- 
mans and the Hodges, was a very frequent place of 
meeting. Tradition informs us that Mr. Bidlack and 
Anning Owen, preached in this house very frequently. 
Both of these men were preachers pf the Methodist 



342 HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

faith. Noah Wadhams would hold his meetings at 
his own house on the back road, and in the school- 
house u^jon " the Commonfield." He was a Congre- 
gationalist, and previous to 1800, this order of people 
was largely in the ascendant, in point of numbers. 

Not far from this time, Elder Joel Kogers, brother 
to Jonah, who has been frequently mentioned in our 
reminiscences of the town, hoisted the Baptist flag, 
and continued for many years to act in the capacity 
of a preacher. He was joined by Elder Griffin Lewis 
a few years later. 

Mr. Lewis resided in that part of Plymouth now 
called Jackson. These two men were at the head of 
the Baptist part of the jDopulation. They were both 
excellent and exemplary men ; and while neither of 
them could claim any pretensions to what is called 
pulpit oratory, they nevertheless might be classed as 
solid, sensible men, and preached solid, sensible doc- 
trines. 

When I first knew them, they were both past 
middle age. They were of the old school of divines, 
who were governed by the idea that the sanctity of 
their lives, their exemplary conduct, their weekly dis- 
courses, and the importance of their mission, furnish- 
ed a sufficient guarantee of success. Progress in 
church, however, as well as in state, was steadily weav- 
ing a web of a different texture. The agitating poli- 
cy which had upturned the foundations of a govern- 
ment, was not limited to temporal affairs alone. The 



THE PRIMITIVE METHODISTS. 343 

spirit of the country was becoming changed: old cus- 
toms were giving place to new ones; — and in the spir- 
itual field, if the multitude would not come to the 
sanctuary, for religious instruction, the doctrines of 
the church must be carried to the hearth-stone and 
domicile of the indifferent and the heedless. 

The Revolutionary ideas brought into the field a 
new class of competitors. Under the banner of Meth- 
odism, they were literally scouring the liighways and 
by-ways, the lanes and alleys, and forcing the doc- 
trines of the cross upon men who might have heard 
of the Christian religion, but to whom its necessities 
were a sealed book. This system of persevering labor 
and untiring energy was a controlling element of the 
jirimitive Methodists, and the old system of manag- 
ing and conducting spiritual affairs must needs yield 
to the new order of things,in the hands of young and 
determined men. 

The matter may be pretty well illustrated by the 
comparison of the speed of the old stage-coach with 
the locomotive — Napoleon with the Bourbons and the 
old dynasties of Europe. 

The Methodist clergy were generally young, ath- 
letic and vigorous men. They had the power of en- 
dm-ance. They devoted their whole time to their 
calling, week days as well as Sundays. They trav- 
elled upon horseback in sunshine and storm; their 
clothing, which was not much, to be sure, they car- 
ried in their portmanteaus; and if they could not 



344 HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

get enoiigli food to allay their appetites where night 
overtook them, they went hungry. Like the crusader 
of the Thirteenth Century, with staff in hand, his 
eyes fixed on the Holy Sepulchre, and his mind chafed 
to fury at the wrongs of the infidel Saracen ; on they 
went, over bog and mire, over mountains accessible 
by a bridle-path only, and over streams without 
bridges; through snows and hurricanes, despising all 
obstacles and disregarding all perils, so that they 
planted their flag upon the embattled walls of the 
enemy's castle. 

They were types literally of the Apostles, and 
whose acts they strove to imitate; and therefore they 
moved on, having "no scrip, no bread, no money in 
their purse." Devoted and self-sacrificing, they 
would do a thousand times more severe labor for a 
yearly compensation of fifty dollars, than men like 
Beecher and Frothingham, of the present day, with a 
salary of twenty thousand. With a firm grasp on 
the handles of their big subsoil, spiritual plow, 
they j)lunged through roots and stumps and rocks, 
through quicksands and hard-pan. They prepared 
and sowed the field, and laughed and rejoiced at its 
product of an " hundred-fold," 

With the manifestation of all this zeal and de- 
termined progress, there would be, of course, now 
and then an act of indiscretion. 

At a quarterly meeting, held in the old Academy, 
somewhere about fifty years ago, one of the preach- 



EARLY METHODIST CLERGY. 345 

ers declared from the juilpit, " that on the death of a 
Plymouth sinner, Satan would hold a grand jubilee, 
and throw wide open the gates of his dominion, and 
exclaim, at the top of his voice, ' clear the way, re- 
joice now, brethren, for here comes one of my be- 
loved subjects from Shawnee.' " 

I shall not repeat the name of the author of this 
threat; he was a venerable man, and in years after 
he died full of honors, and left a name of renown 
throughout the valley. To this language some of the 
people took umbrage; but they were mostly of the 
class who were down uj)on the men who were daily 
thinning the ranks of their wayward associates. The 
liberal, sensible part of the community, concluded 
that religious zeal was entitled to a clever margin; 
and like sensible men came down to the stubborn 
fact, that there was no more severity of punishment 
for a " Shawnee sinner " than for a sinner of any 
other locality. The doggerel rhymes, therefore, which 
the expression provoked, and which were designed to 
slap the Methodist church full in the face, did not 
long survive ; and a twelvemonth cleared up the 
murky spiritual atmosphere. 

The activity and energy displayed by this class of 
men, formed and fashioned anew the habits and dis- 
position of the people. The man driven to his house 
from felling the forest trees, preparatory for his new 
ground crop, by severe cold, or heat, or storm, peering 
through his window at the Methodist minister, in his 



o46 HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

white hat and blue surtout coat, galloping ahead npon 
his horse, would conclude that he also was alike able to 
resist the elements, and would resume his labor. In 
this way men became accustomed to walk faster, talk 
faster, decidequicker, and work harder; and many has 
been the rough field whose ledges, inequalities and 
declivities would not have been reclaimed and culti- 
vated for years but for the go-ahead example of the 
man in the white hat and blue surtout. His zeal 
gave a new impulse in temporal, as well as spiritual 
matters. 

Under these influences the old Congregational es- 
tablishment soon gave way. It could no more stand 
up against them, than the French squares at Water- 
loo, could resist the dashing charges of the Scotch 
Highlanders. The Baptists contested the ground, 
and while they maintained a respectable position 
in point of numbers, they were nevertheless far 
behind the Methodists. Several years later the 
Christian church attained a foothold in the town, 
which it still maintains, and has a very respectable 
congregation. The Baptist church finally became 
nearly extinguished, until more recently renewed by 
the Welsh immigration into the town. 

Of the earlier Methodist preachers, some of them 
were of decided talents. Without disparagement 
to others, I name particularly George Lane, Mar- 
maduke Pearce, and Dr. George Peck, with each 
of whom I was well acquainted, and who were on the 




REV. GEORGE LANE. 



GEORGE LANE, 347 

Plymouth circuit before I removed from the town to 
Wilkes- Barre, which was in 1824. 

Mr. Lane was assigned to what was known as the 
Wyoming circuit, in the year 1809. This included 
Plymouth. Gideon Draper, a man of whom the peo- 
ple of early times spoke in the highest praise, and 
who was reputed as an orator of unusual power, was 
associated with him as presiding elder. 

Mr. Lane was a stout, thick-set, firmly-built man, 
of medium height, blue eyes, and fair complexion. 
He possessed a well-disciplined mind ; his ideas were 
exj^ressed in forcible language, and when warmed up 
with the excitement produced by his subject, he would 
deeply enlist the feelings of his audience. Ilis meth- 
od and manner were both agreeable and pleasant, and 
his argument was always the result of careful thought 
and, apparently, laborious research. His mind was 
thoroughly disciplined, and he possessed many of the 
elements of genuine oratory. He married a daughter 
of Elisha Harvey, and as has already been stated, 
was engaged in mercantile pursuits in Plymouth and 
Wilkes-Barre. The occupation, however, did not 
comport with his ideas of his duty, and after a few 
years he abandoned it and returned to his church, in 
the service of which he ended his days. He ever 
maintained a high standing among his people, and 
for many years was entrusted with the management 
of their large " Book Concern," located in New York; 
a position not merely of responsibility, in a financial 



348 HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

point of view, but also requiring literary qualifica- 
tions. 

As Mr. Lane was many years a resident of our 
town, and married there, lie may be considered a Ply- 
mouth man. He died in Wilkes-Barre, in the year 
1858, Two of his sons survive him — Harvey B. 
Lane, a merchant of New York, and Charles A Lane, 
a citizen of Wilkes-Barre. 

Marmaduke Pearce, father of the author of the 
" Annals of Luzerne," and the present postmaster of 
the city of Wilkes-Barre, came on to the Plymouth 
circuit in 1815. He was continued in the capacity 
of ]3residing elder and preacher, on that circuit, for 
some eight or ten years. He was an immense man, 
physically; about six feet in height, and weighing, 
in ordinary health, three hundred pounds. He had 
a well-developed head, fair complexion, and gray 
eyes. He was born in Chester county, in this state, 
August eighteenth, 1776 — his father's farm and resi- 
dence being upon the famous Paoli battle-ground, of 
revolutionary fame. A brother of Mr. Pearce — Crom- 
well — was Colonel of the sixteenth U. S. Infantry in 
the war of 1812, and was in some of the engagements 
on the Canadian frontier. 

As a preacher, Mr. Pearce was the embodiment 
of sound common sense. Eeason and logic were the 
weapons which he employed. His sermons did not 
generally exceed thirty minutes, but in that period, 
by reason of his unusual powers of condensation, he 



DK. GEORGE PECK. 349 

would say as much as most men in double that time. 
He seldom became excited, but in a cool and delib- 
erate manner, would hold his audience at his will ; 
because his sermons were the product of a strong in- 
tellect, abounding in the illustrations of j)ractical life, 
plain and sound, but devoid of what is commonly un- 
derstood, as oratorical flourish. He died at Berwick, 
Columbia county, Pa., in 1852, in his seventy-sixth 
year. 

Dr. George Peck, a venerable man, still living, 
and still in the service of his church, in which he has 
been an exemplary ornament and shining light for 
more than half a century, made his debut in the old 
Academy of Plymouth, in 1818. I say debut, but 
probably this may not have been the theatre of his 
first efforts, but however, not far from the first. He 
was frequently after that assigned to the Wyoming 
circuit, in the capacity of ] residing elder and preacher, 
and having married his wife in Kingston, an adjoin- 
ing town, we may almost claim him as a Plymouth 
man. He preached there, at diflerent times, through 
a terra of several years. 

I have a distinct and vivid recollection of the man 
from the commencement of his ministry in Plymouth. 
Of a tall and commanding figure, a countenance 
showing a high order of intelligence, a clear and dis- 
tinct utterance, a fine flow of language, with a capac- 
ity of analysis, he, of course, would not only attract, 
but entertain an audience. The announcement of his 



350 HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

name, thougli then comparatively a youth; would al- 
ways bring out the people. 

His style, at this remote period, was of the fervid 
and nervous order of oratory. His sermons were ex- 
cellent specimens of this class. I have not heard him 
of late years; probably age and long practice have 
toned him down. 

I remember now, though more than fifty years 
ago, with their cares and anxieties intervening, the 
substance of a sermon I heard him deliver in the 
old Academy. The text involved the relation be- 
tween parent and child; and the impression made 
upon my mind, is still fresh and unimpaired. From 
memory alone I am able to repeat the text. 

I would like to say more of Dr. Peck, and speak 
of him as he deserves; but it is of the memory of 
those who have gone that I am writiog, and not of 
the living. 

The biography of the living is out of place; for 
opinions are restrained, and besides, our motive may 
be the subject of criticism. 

At a later period, the Kev. Cyi'us Gildersleeve, 
pastor of the Presbyterian church, Wilkes-Barre, and 
Doctor James May, of the Episcopal church of the 
same place, preached occasionally in Plymouth. 
This extended over a period of probably ten years, 
commencing about 1824. 



CHAPTER XVIII. 

OLD FAMILIES. — THE BIDLACKS. 

AMONG- the earliest of the Plymouth settlers, 
though not of the first, was Captain James Bid- 
lack. He came from Windham, Connecticut, with 
Ills family, in 1777, and Luilt for himself a log house 
on Garrison Hill. At this time all the residences 
were clustered in a group at this place, and until 
after the ice-flood of 1784, there were no buildings 
elsewhere within the cei'tified lines of the old town- 
ship, unless on the east side of Ross Hill. Captain 
Bidlack had three sons — James, Benjamin and Shu- 
bal. James, as has already been stated, commanded 
the company made up of men from lower Wilkes- 
Barre, and was stationed upon Colonel Zebulon But- 
ler's right wing at the battle of Wyoming, and being 
wounded, was captured and inhumanly tortured in 
the burning flames of Fort Wintermoot. The life of 
Benjamin was an eventful one. 

After the house of Captain Bidlack was swept 
away in the great flood, he erected a small log house 
on a lot adjoining the Wright homestead farm, where 
he resided for several years, and at the time of his 
death. During the time he lived on Garrison Hill, 
March twenty-first, 1779, on returning home from 
Wilkes-Barre, he was captured by the Indians, not 
far from his house. He and the elder Jonah Rogers 
22 (351) 



352 HISTOKICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

were on horseback. Upon the attack of the Indians, 
they put spurs to their horses, and Rogers made his 
escape ; but the saddle-girth of the captain giving 
way, he was thrown from his horse and taken pris- 
oner. 

The Indians took him to Canada. In some way 
he obtained his release, and in the following autumn 
we find him at the town meeting. Whether his re- 
lease was effected by an exchange, or by other means, 
we are not informed. Subsequent to this period, there 
is no further mention of the name of Captain Bid- 
lack, nor am I able to ascertain when he died. He 
was a man past middle life when he came to the 
valley. 

His son Benjamin became one of the prominent 
and leading men of the township of Westmoreland. 
He enlisted at the commencement of the Revolutionary 
war, and served throughout the contest. His name 
does not appear upon the rolls of Durkee's or Ran- 
som's companies. He j)robably was among the vol- 
unteers of Wisner or Strong; — these men were re- 
cruiting in Westmoreland before the two independent 
companies were raised. He was at Boston when 
Washington took charge of the patriot army to op- 
pose General Uage. He was at Trenton on the tak- 
ing of the Hessians; he was at Yorktown on the oc- 
casion of the surrender of Cornwallis, and was in 
Washington's camp, at Newburg, when the army 
was disbanded. 




K E V. B E N J A JI I N B I D L A C K. 



M 



BENJAMIN BIDLACK. 353 

During tlie Pennamite and Yankee conflict, he 
was arrested and lodged in the Sunbury jail. He 
escaped from his prison, under laughable circum- 
stances. 

He was a remarkably good singer. The camp is 
a good school to develop this faculty. I had occasion, 
frequently, to visit our military encampments during 
the late rebellion, and it seemed as though almost 
every soldier had acquired the capacity of song sing- 
ing, and very many of them became very clever in 
this particular. 

Mr. Bidlack, in the later years of his life, would 
dwell with a great deal of satisfaction upon the vocal 
music of the men of the Revolutionary army. He had 
assisted in erecting the " Temple of Liberty " at 
Newburg, and the singing which he had there listened 
to, and in which he had joined, lingered upon his 
memory. The great battle had been fought and won, 
and many of the soldiers' songs were commemorative 
of this event. There was reason for the deep impres- 
sion it seems to have made upon him. In speaking 
to a friend of the songs in the " Temple of Liberty," 
he remarked: "I never heard such singing in my life. 
Some of the ofiicers from New England were ti'ained 
singers, and many of the men could sing well, and 
they made the temple ring with sweet and powerful 
melody." 

In his confinement at the Sunbury jail, his songs 
led the people to collect about the grated window of 



354 HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

his cell. And in the evening, men, -women and chil- 
dren would gather there to listen to the Yankee's 
songs. They finally prevailed upon the jailer to let 
the man out, who had afforded them so much pleas- 
ure, that they might see him. 

And thus many a pleasant evening was spent in 
mirth, song and laughter. Upon one of these occa- 
sions, in singing a song called " The Swaggering 
Man," he told his audience that to give them a 
proper appreciation of the character he was represent- 
ing, they must give him a cane, and make room for 
him, as he could not do his subject justice otherwise. 
They furnished him a cane, and cried out, " Give him 
room, make way, let him have a fair chance." The 
prisoner, after taking a drink, and passing backwards 
and forwards several times, acting out the character 
of a drunken man, to the infinite amusement of his 
audience, and suiting the action to the word, when he 
came to the chorus, " Here goes the old swaggering 
man," he bounded from them like a wild deer. Pur- 
suit was in vain, " the swaggering man " was too fleet 
of foot and strong of limb for the pack at his heels. 
They could not overtake the quarry ; and the dawn 
of day found him thirty miles from his prison door; 
and before sunset, he rejoined his family in his log 
house in Plymouth. For a more particular account 
of this incident, I refer the reader to Dr. Peck's 
History. 

At this period of his life, Mr. Bidlack seems to 



EEV. BENJAMIN BIDLACK. 355 

have been addicted to habits of intemperance. The 
army is a poor school for temperance. Many, very 
many grains of allowance are to be made for the 
poor soldier, amid the hardships and exposures of the 
camp. This vice, however, he had the courage and 
decision to cast off, after he had assumed the ranks 
of civil life. He reformed, became a religious man, 
joined the Methodist church, and devoted the remain- 
der of his days to preaching the Gospel. For the last 
ten years of his life, he was placed upon the " super- 
annuated list," but so long as he was able to travel 
the circuit, he labored zealously in the cause. 

He was present at the remarkable discussion 
among the officers of the army, in Newburg, in 1783, 
previous to the disbanding of the troops. It was an 
occasion of unusual excitement. The officers and men 
had received their pay in Continental bills: they were 
worthless. They were about to be discharged and 
sent to their homes in poverty. Congress had no 
money nor credit. The situation became one of fear 
and alarm. The celebrated anonymous letters, said to 
have been written by General Armstrong, were circu- 
lated in the camp. These fanned the flame of dis- 
cord, and but for the firm stand taken by Washing- 
ton, the probabilities are, that the glorious fruits of 
the rebellion would have been destroyed. The con- 
duct of this great captain and noble patriot was never 
reflected in brighter colors, than upon this memorable 
occasion. The name alone of Washington caused 



356 HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

the veteran soldier to lay down his arms; his venera- 
tion for his great leader made him submit to want 
and destitution, and forego the righteous claims he 
had upon his country for his severe labor. These let- 
ters were drawn with exceeding ability, and appealing 
to the men to take care of themselves before their 
arms were taken from them, and they disbanded, and 
sent hungry and naked to their unprovided homes 
and helpless families. 

In their debates the officers spoke in their uni- 
forms, with their swords by their sides. On one oc- 
casion one of them, laying his hand upon the hilt of 
his sword, demanded with great vehemence: " Gentle- 
men, are you prepared to give up these swords, which 
have procured freedom for the country, and for your- 
selves glory and renown ? Can you retire to your farms 
or shops, and ingloriously abandon the profession of 
arms ? Will you not rather spill your heart's blood 
in defence of rights which have been so dearly bought 
in the camp and upon the field of battle T' 

But the genius of Washington was equal to the 
crisis. It was his noble example and boundless influ- 
ence that quieted the storm, and subdued the fearful 
and threatening commotion. 

The arguments pro and con which were made in 
this celebrated council, Mr, Bidlack had treasured up 
in his memory, and when the old man would repeat 
them, in his declining days, as he was very frequently 
in the habit of doing, he would become animated, and 



"our WASHINGTON." 357 

often eloquently emphasizing his periods, by bringing 
his staff down upon the ground with force. He 
would generally wind up his rehearsal with a benedic- 
tion on Washington. And never was mortal man 
worshij)ped with more sincerity than he by his soldiers. 

I was intimately acquainted with a large number 
of these venerable patriots. I attended their meet- 
ing, in the court-house in Wilkes-Barre, in 1832, 
where they were invited for the purpose of preparing 
their pension applications. I made out several of 
them. A pension application without the name of 
Washington embodied in it, they would look upon 
with suspicion. Time and time again I have intro- 
duced the name in their papers merely as a gratifica- 
tion to them. They were never tired of speaking of 
" Our Washington," as they endearingly called him; 
and they would give him the whole credit of achiev- 
ing American Independence, reserving none whatever 
to themselves. 

A large number of these old veterans met in 
Wilkes-Barre on a fourth of July, probably about 
1830. There may have been some thirty of them. 
The Rev. Benjamin Bidlack was their orator. The old 
g-ntleman was then straight and erect, and moved uif 
at the head of his column with a firm step and mar- 
tial bearing. They marched after the drum and fife 
to the old meeting-house upon the square, a large 
crowd following after. 

The occasion seemed to have invigorated their 



358 HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

venerable orator. He made a powerful impression 
upon his compatriots in arms, as well as upon the 
dense mass of spectators. He was a tall man, six 
feet in height; he had a bass voice, though well mod- 
ulated, and his delivery was graceful, and his manner 
earnest. The prevailing feature of this speech was 
that the Providence of God marked every feature of 
the eventful struggle of the Eevolution, and that 
Washington was his viceroy on earth, and the instru- 
ment of his will. 

His description of the cannonading of the British 
fortifications at Yurktown was well drawn, and de- 
livered with great effect. 

" For fourteen days and nights," said he, " there 
was one continual thunder and blaze. At night it 
was so light that you could see to pick up a pin. A 
white flag was raised from the British breastworks, 
and the firing ceased. Cornwallis proposed to leave 
the ground with the honors of war, with colors flying, 
and to embark his army on the English ships in the 
nearest h ii bor. ' No,' was the answer, and the parley 
closed. ' Now,' said Washington, ' give it to them 
hotter than ever,' and sure enough the storm of the 
battle raged more terribly than ever. They soon came 
to terms, and the heart of the war was broken." 

Language like this, from the mouth of one of the 
actors in the terrible scene, and addressed with all the 
fervor and power of youth, to the scarred and hoary 
veterans before him, many of them too who had taken 



REV. BENJAMIN BIDLACK. 359 

a part in the decisive victory, went with a thrill to 
the very centre of the heart ! 

When the old patriot, with hands and eyes eleva- 
ted to Heaven, and in his deep, sonorous, and pathetic 
voice, invoked the blessings of God upon the spirit of 
Washington, and upon the band of noble veterans, 
covered with honorable scars, and bent with years of 
hard service, assembled before him ; big tears coursed 
down the deep furrows of his broad and manly face, 
and they wept like children. There was not a dry 
eye upon the thousand up-turned faces there present. 

The old man's utterance failed him to pronounce 
a benediction, and he and his revolutionary comrades 
separated in silence and tears. 

A feeling of conscious pride flitted over my mind 
at the conclusion of that day's business, that old 
Shawnee had won the garland of honors in the person 
of one of her pioneers. Eloquence and patriotism had 
clasped hands, and the people wept for joy. 

Mr. Bidlack removed from Plymouth to Kingston, 
where he closed his days. He died on the twenty- 
seventh of November, 1845, in the eighty-seventh year 
of his age. During the last few years of his life he 
had become imbecile in mind, and died from the ef- 
fects of a cancer upon his nose. 

By his second marriage he had one son, Benjamin 
A., who was a representative from this district both 
in the State and National Legislatures. He was also 
appointed, under Polk's administration, to the mis- 



360 HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

sion at Bogota, Central America, where he died in 
1847. 

Shubal, the remaining one of the three sons of 
Captain James Bidlack, settled in Salem, after the 
family separated in Plymouth. Some of his descend- 
ants still reside there. Dr. Peck, in speaking of the 
Bidlacks, says: "They were a family of patriots — 
were all tall, large-boned, powerful men, and good 
soldiers." 

I have already referred to the incident of the Bid- 
lack mansion having been swept away by the great 
flood, with Benjamin in it. The name in Plymouth 
has become extinct, but seventy years ago it was 
prominent, and stood out in bold relief; it was a part 
of the historical feature of many a well-fought battle- 
field in the great revolutionary struggle. 



CHAPTEE XIX. 



OLD FAMILIES, CONTINUED REYNOLDS NESBITTS 

WADHAMS DAVENPORTS VAN-LOONS— PRINGLES 

TURNERS ATHERTONS CASES LAMEROUX. 

I SHALL conclude my historical sketches with a 
short biographical notice of a few of the early 
settlers, who were not so closely connected with the 
trials, sufferings, and exposures, as those who have 
been already alluded to. Some of them came to the 



r 



B E N J A 31 I N REYNOLDS. 



THE REYNOLDS FAMILY. 361 

valley at a verj'- early period of its settlement, and re- 
turned to Connecticut, where they remained until 
the troubles terminated; others emigrated to the 
town several years afterwards. But inasmuch as 
some of them shared in many of the hardships, and 
otliers were of the principal families of the town, 
though making their home there at a later period, it 
is proper that they be noticed. 

The Reynolds family may be classed among the 
pioneers of the town. David, the ancestor, came 
from Litchfield, Connecticut, under the auspices of 
the Susquehanna Company, not long after the first 
immigration to the town. He was one of the forty 
adventurers assigned by the company for Plymouth, 
though he did not reach the valley till the year 1770. 
This would make the commencement of his residence 
two years later than the arrival of the first settlers. 
His father — William — came out with him, with the 
view of seeing his son located in his new home, and 
was in the habit of occasionally visiting his son, and 
died while on one of these visits to him, and was 
buried in the graveyard upon his son's premises. 

David selected the farm now owned by the family, 
and upon which stands the Nottingham coal- breaker. 
He erected a log house a few rods east of the shaft. 
Soon after the commencement of the Pennamite and 
Yankee war, his house, with his other buildings, were 
destroyed by fire — the work of Indians or his Pen- 
namite enemies. He fled with his family to the fort 



362 HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH, 

at Wilkes-Barre, and a short time after, made his 
way back to Litchfield. A very fortunate thing for 
him, probably, as it may have saved him from the 
fate of his friends and neighbors at the Wyoming 
massacre. 

At the close of the Eevolutionary war, he again 
returned to his possessions. But he still found war 
raging in the valley. This was about 1784. His 
stay was short — as he, with the other settlers under 
the Connecticut claim, were driven from the valley 
by the order and decree of Patterson, the civil mag- 
istrate, (?) under the Pennsylvania authorities, sta- 
tioned at Wilkes-Barre. During this exodus, one of 
his children was born in the wilderness, between the 
Susquehanna and the Delaware. David did not re- 
turn with the fugitives; he continued on his journey 
to his father's, in Litchfield. 

When the domestic broils had become in a meas- 
ure quieted, he came back, erected a house on the 
same site now occupied by the family mansion, where 
he remained to the time of his death, which occurred 
on the eighth of July, 1816. 

I have a distinct recollection of the old man, 
though I was but eight years of age when he died. 
In the last few years of his life, he became totally 
blind. From this misfortune he never recovered. 

The only members of David's family, within my 
recollection, were Benjamin and Joseph. There were 
others. Joseph resided for many years, and died, in 



REYNOLDS. 363 

that part of Plymouth now Jackson. Benjamin 
remained upon the homestead farm during his long 
and industrious life. He died in 1854_, in the sev- 
enty-fourth year of his age. As he was one of the rep- 
resentative and substantial men of Plymouth for a 
half century or more, it is appropriate that I should 
notice him more particularly. He was a stout, square- 
built man, five feet eight or ten inches in height, 
light brown hair, and dark eyes. Inclined to corpu- 
lency, but very active. He had a pleasant and agree- 
able manner, and a character for much benevolence. 

Fifty years ago, when i3olitical excitement ran 
high, he and Noah Wadhams and Stephen Van Loon 
were the active political men of the town. They 
were of the Jefferson school in politics, and strongly 
attached to that side of the question. But while 
they strongly adhered to their opinions, and were 
thoroughly convinced of their correctness, neither of 
them permitted their party opinions to affect their 
social relations. 

Stephen Van Loon was elected sheriff in 1816, 
soon after the war, and when political affairs were 
conducted with much feeling. The boys even, of 
those days, wore the black and tri- colored cockades as 
the badges of the Federal and Republican parties. 

Mr. Reynolds was also elected sheriff of the 
county in 1831. I had just been admitted to the 
bar, and though a mere novitiate in the law, he did 
me the kindness to name me as his legal adviser. 



364 HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

This was an introduction to the business of the pro- 
fession ; it created, upon my part, an attachment to 
the man which ended only in his death. 

He was a man of great industry; up with the sun 
and astir with his men upon the farm, he did not 
know what it was to be idle. He was a pleasant and 
agreeable man in his intercourse with his neighbors, 
and remarkably kind and indulgent to those depend- 
ent upon him. He reared a large and highly respect- 
able family, and gave all his children a good common 
school education. It may be said that Benjamin 
Keynolds was one of " the solid men " of old Ply- 
mouth. His name was connected with three of the 
early mercantile firms of the town. He never gave 
the store any part of his time. The premises were 
too contracted and cramped for him. His ambition 
and pleasure were upon the farm, with an open sky 
above him. 

He was for many years a justice of the peace for 
the town. In those days the justices were appointed 
by the Governor, and the very best men were selected. 
They were appointed for life, or during good behavior. 
It was in the times of the old constitution, and in the 
days when the office of justice of the peace was hon- 
ored, and the incumbent respected. The men hold- 
ing the commissions of justice, at the period of which 
I am writing, were as much, or more respected by the 
people, than the men of the present day who occupy 
the Common Pleas bench; nor do I speak in deroga- 




WILLIAM C. REYNOLDS. 



REYNOLDS. 365 

tion of the character of any of our judges. The days 
when Thomas Dyer, Roswell Wells, Matthias Hol- 
lenback, Nathan Beach, Noah Wadhamp, Abiel Fel- 
lows, Elisha S. Potter, Lawrence Meyers, John Marcy, 
and men of that stamp were the keepers of the peace 
of the county, the men who formed the type and 
character of the times in which they lived. When, 
therefore, Benjamin Reynolds was appointed a justice 
for life, or during good behavior, it was not a mere 
compliment, it meant something; it was a mark of 
distinction. 

His sons were all thorough business men. One 
of them. Honorable William C. Reynolds, amassed a 
large fortune. He was a successful merchant, elected 
to the G-eneral Assembly, and at one time one of the 
associate judges of the county. The success of Judge 
Reynolds is but an illustration of what can be accom- 
plished by a life of industry and perseverance, guided 
by a sound mind and discerning judgment. He was 
the architect of his own fortune. He began business 
with comparatively small means, but as an offset to 
this, he was untiring in his efforts, and devoted all 
his time to his business. A merchant for the greater 
part of his life, and in which occupation he succeeded 
well; but his foresight and high character of intellect 
led him to make the investment of his spare funds in 
coal lands; and tlie increase of the value of these 
lands was the foundation of a large estate. 

Judge Reynolds and myself were intimate in early 



366 HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

life. We went to scliool together, in the old Acad- 
emy, in the winter months; and were plow-boys in 
the summer, upon Shawnee Flats. 

Our fathers' lands adjoined; and many were the 
conversations we had, while we would be eating our 
frugal meal, at noon, under a tree shade, as to our 
future hopes and exj^ectations in life. 

In these discussions we came to the conclusion 
that some other occupation would be more advan- 
tageous to us both. He talked up the store, and I 
the bar. And while we carried on this juvenile dia- 
logue, there was before us the apparently insurmount- 
able obstacle of the means to buy his stock of goods, 
and to procure the necessary legal education, on my 
part. And well do I remember his manly argument, 
though more than half a century has elapsed: " The 

WILL IS HALF THE BATTLE, AND DETERMINED PER- 
SEVERANCE, WITH UPRIGHT, TEMPERATE, MORAL 
DEPORTMENT, THE OTHER HALF." 

Apples of gold are contained in this noble sen- 
tence. And it is somewhat strange that time found 
him in his counting-house, and myself at the bar. 
The subject of our colloquy, as plow-boys, became a 
reality. And his " upright, temperate, moral deport- 
ment, and determined perseverance," not merely laid 
the foundation, but erected the superstructure of his 
fortune. 

He was a man of fine social qualities, and the 
most kind and indulgent of fathers. 



NESBITTS. 367 

The photographic likeness of him herein inserted, 
is perfect and life-like. To my own mind, a more 
correct delineation of features was never transfen-ed 
to canvas. 

To me, this is a som'ce of much satisfaction; for 
when I look upon it, there comes back the agreeable 
events of long past years; and the consoling reflec- 
tion, that the intimacy of our childhood was only sep- 
arated by death; and that nothing in the long interim 
occurred to mar or interrupt the friendship of many, 
many succeeding years. He died in Wilkes-Barre, 
where he resided at the time, some three years ago. 

Colonel J. Fuller Reynolds, another, and a man 
of probity and excellent business qualifications, still 
resides upon the old family homestead. Another 
one, Abraham H., is a prominent business man of 
Kingston. 

NESBITTS. 

The Nesbitt family were among the first settlers. 
Jam3S Ncsbitt, the ancestor, immigrated from Con- 
necticut in 1769, and was one of the "Forty." His 
name appears on the list of settlers of the valley, 
made out by Colonel Zebulon Butler, on the twenty- 
fourth July, 1769; and also upon a list prepared by 
Colonel Butler, of the persons in the Fort at Wilkes- 
Barre, on the twelfth April, 1770. Both of these 
enrolments are still preserved, and are in the hands 

of Steuben Jenkins, Esquire. 
23 



368 HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

He made liis " pitch " (the phrase used in those 
days to indicate permanent location and settle- 
ment) at the foot of Ant Hill, where he resided with 
his family during the remainder of his life; and 
which was also the residence of his two sons, Abra- 
ham and James, during their respective lives after 
him. 

He returned to Connecticut in 1774, on account 
of the Pennamite and Yankee troubles, but came 
back to Plymouth in 1777. From this period he 
remained on his farm to the time of his decease, July 
second, 1792. He was, therefore, a resident of the 
town at the time of the Wyoming massacre. He was 
in the Wyoming battle, and one of the survivors of 
Captain Whittlesey's company. 

The proprietors of Shawnee flats, at the com- 
mencement of the Revolution, leased their lands to 
an association of the settlers, on condition that they 
would maintain their possessions, and keep the block 
house upon Garrison Hill in repair. Among the per- 
sons who thus became lessees, is the name of James 
Nesbitt. Mr. Miner represents the person as Abra- 
ham Nesbitt. This is undoubtedly an error, as he 
was at that time a boy only. The associates of Mr. 
Nesbitt in this enterprise were, Major Prince Alden, 
Alexander and Joseph Jameson, Jonah Rogers, the 
elder, Samuel Ayres, Samuel Ransom, and others. 
The two Jameson . were at this time residents of 
Hanover; but the troublesome times brought the peo- 



NESBITTS. 369 

pie together for self-preservation. The Jamesons 
were never permanent residents of Plymouth. Major 
Prince Alden was a citizen of the town, but for a year 
or two only. He was a Hanover man, and the owner 
of the very valuable homestead farm of the late Colo- 
nel Washington Lee. 

The name of James Nesbitt appears in the pro- 
ceedings of several of the early town meetings. He 
was an ofScer at a meeting held December sixth, 1779. 

On the death of the old gentleman, he divided his 
homestead farm between his two sons, Abraham and 
James; the latter taking the part of it north of the 
back road, and the former that part between the back 
road and the river. These brothers resided many 
years upon their ])atrimonial estate. Each of them 
reared large families, and were among the representa- 
tive men of the town. Abraham died January sec- 
ond, 1847, and James, August sixteenth, 1837. 

James Nesbitt, Jr., a son of Abraham, was elected 
sheriff of the county, upon the expiration of the offi- 
cial term of Mr. Keynolds, and was also elected to the 
General Assemb'y of the State, after retiring from 
the sheriffalty. He was a man of unusual business 
qualifications, and left a large estate to his son 
Abraham, now a resident of Kingston, and his daugh- 
ter, late the wife of Samuel Hoyt, Esquire, of the 
same place. He resided many years on the eastern 
6li)])e of Ross Hill. His dwelling stands near the 
railroad bridge that spans the Susquehanna at that 



370 HISTOKICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

place. The largest part of this now very valuable 
estate, he inherited in right of his wife, who was the 
daughter of Philip Shupp, owner of Shupp's mill of 
early days. The farm is still owned by his son and 
son-in-law. It is an evidence of their sagacity and 
good judgment to have held on to this estate, as the 
coal which underlies its surface has now become 
exceedingly valuable. 

I must relate an incident connected with the pur- 
chase of a part of this property, for the purpose of 
showing the astonishing increase of the value of land, 
on account of coal developments, and to which I was 
a witness. 

A part of the estate of the late James Barnes, 
who resided many years on the north-eastern slope of 
Koss Hill, was exposed to public sale — some thirty or 
forty acres of woodland, adjoining the Nesbitt farm. 
He was a competing bidder for the land at the sale. 
This was probably in 1832 or 1833. As he bid 
" seven and a half dollars " an acre, I stepped up 
to him and remarked, that I thought him wild in 
bidding seven dollars and a half per acre for unculti- 
vated woodland. He replied, " that the land adjoined 
him, and that he could make pasturage of it; that he 
was aware that he was offering more than its value, 
and should not bid any farther." The auctioneer 
failing to get another bid, struck it down to Mr. Nes- 
bitt, and he thus became the owner of it, and, as I 
thought, against his inclination. 




THE VVADHAMS HOUSE. 



WADHAMS. 371 

The same land to-day, I presume, could not be 
bought at a thousand dollars an acre. Its intrinsic 
value exceeds two thousand. 

After the expiration of his term, as sheriff, Mr. 
Nesbitt remained in Wilkes-Barre, and entered into 
mercantile pursuits. He died in that town some 
thirty years since. 

WADHAMS. 

The Reverend Noah AVadhams, a clergyman of 
the Congregational church, and the progenitor of the 
Plymouth family, was one of the original " forty " of 
the first immigrants. He came from Litchfield, Con- 
necticut, in the year 1769. He had previously been 
first pastor at the church at New Preston, in that 
county — installed in the year 1775. A portion of 
this immigration came the year previous, but the 
main body of them came in the year 1769. Mr. Wad- 
hams was the shepherd of the small flock, which took 
up their residence in the wilderness, made more for- 
bidding because of the savage people who were in 
possession of the valley. 

Our Puritan ancestors were thoroughly imbued 
with the idea that religion and progress were insepar- 
able; that an enterprise which did jiot have a sprink- 
ling of the church about it could not succeed. A 
very safe rule, perhaps, and the observance of which 
might well be followed upon the part of their descend- 
ants, even down to the third generation. When, 



372 HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

therefore, an expedition was fitted out by the Susque- 
hanna Company, with a view of founding a Yankee 
town, upon any part of the company's chartered ter- 
ritory, the providing of a pastor was considered of as 
much importance as that of a physician, or a person 
skilled in any of the mechanical branches. Without 
a clergyman, the expedition would be incomplete. 
And that this personage might not be an incumbrance 
upon an infant colony, the company made provision 
for his support and maintenance. 

Thus, at a meeting of the company, held in 1768, 
I find among other things the following entry: — " The 
standing committee was directed to procure a pastor, 
to accompany the second colony, called the ' first for- 
ty,' for carrying on religious worship and services ac- 
cording to the best of his ability, in a wilderness 
country." 

The proceedings further make provision, " that he 
shall receive one whole share, or right in the purchase, 
and such other encouragements as others are entitled 
to have and enjoy." This share amounted to some 
three hundred acres, besides the perquisites, which 
sometimes accompanied the grant. The company 
further required the colonial adventurers to provide 
their pastor, when they located upon the promised 
land, " with sustenance according to the best of their 
ability." 

It will be seen, therefore, that there was a condi- 
tion precedent attached to every Yankee grant, to sup- 



REV. JACOB JOHNSON. 373 

port and maintain a religious pastor. And this the 
immigrants faithfully executed, as we find in all the 
divisions and allotments of land among them, that a 
certain part was set off for education and religion. 
This was done by the people of all the " seventeen " 
towns. 

As early as 1762, when John Jenkins and his 
hand of bold and fearless associates entered the val- 
ley and located at Mill Creek, the Kev. William 
Marsh accompanied them as pastor. In the autumn 
of 1763, Mr. Marsh was one of the number, of which 
mention has already been made, who were slain by 
the Indians. 

The Rev. George Beckwith, Jr., from Lynn, 
Massachusetts, came to Wyoming in 1769, as the 
successor of Mr. Marsh; he remained a year or two, 
and was succeeded by the Rev. Jacob Johnson, of 
Groton, Connecticut. Mr. Johnson was the pastor of 
the Wilkes-Barre *' forty" from 1773 to the time of 
his death, in 1795 — for nearly a quarter of a century. 
Mr. Johnson was a man of strong mind, though pos- 
sessed of some eccentricities of character. It is said 
that he prepared his grave with his own hands, a year 
or two preceding his death, on the rocky eminence on 
Bowman's Hill, at the termination of Franklin street, 
in Wilkes-Barre. And upon this rocky promontory 
still repose the bones of the old Puritan leader, along 
with those of his wife — their's being the only graves 
of the locality. Some of the descendants of Mr. 



374 HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

Johnson were men of mark in later years. Ovid F. 
Johnson, an eminent lawyer, and at one time Attor- 
ney-Greneral of the State, was a grandson. 

Kev. Andrew Gray was the pastor of the Han- 
over "forty." He continued for many years in that 
capacity in Hanover, It was under his administra- 
tion that the old church was erected on the Hill, 
a short distance below the Colonel Inman home- 
stead. 

When, therefore, preparation was being made to 
start the Plymouth colony, on their journey to the 
wilderness, it became a necessary part of the pro- 
gramme to select a pastor. 

The Rev. Noah Wadhams was chosen for the pur- 
pose, and he accepted. He was at this time, 1769, 
forty-three years of age, and had a family of small 
children. Leaving his family at home, he embarked 
with his flock amid the perils which lay before them, 
on the distant shores of the Susquehanna. The 
spirit of adventure was a ruling passion with our 
ancestors, and it has by no means become extinct 
with their descendants, 

Mr. Wadhams was born in Middletown, Connec- 
ticut, on the seventeenth of May, 1726. He was a 
graduate of the college of New Jersey. His diploma, 
bearing date the twenty-fifth of September, 1754, is 
now in the custody of his great-grandson, Calvin 
Wadhams, Esq., counsellor-at-law, of Wilkes-Barre; 
and what is a most singular coincidence, this same 



WADHAMS. 375 

great-grandson graduated at the same university, just 
one hundred years after his paternal ancestor. 

The old diploma is a venerable looking paper. It 
bears the name of Aaron Burr, father of the celebra- 
ted man of Eevolutionary fame, as president of the 
college. There are also attached the signatures of 
the trustees of the college, Jacob Green, William 
E. Smith, Kichard Treat, John Braynard and John 
Pierson. The document is the surviving witness 
of three generations, past and gone : a testament 
also of the times of George III., and when the pres- 
ent state of New Jersey was one of the colonies of 
his realm. 

Mr. Wadhams continued his pastoral relations, 
interrupted by an occasional visit to his family, in 
Litchfield, until the year succeeding the Wyoming 
massacre, when he removed them to Plymouth. From 
this time to the period of his death, on the twenty- 
second of May, 1806, he faithfully pursued his relig- 
ious duties; preaching in Plymouth, and in other 
parts of the valley. He was a man of very consider- 
able talents, having received a liberal education, as 
already stated, and as a mark of merit, he had also 
conferred upon him, by Yale College, in 1764, the 
degree of master of arts. 

He left four sons, Ingersoll, Calvin, Noah, and 
Moses. They were all too young to have taken any 
part in the early and angry strifes of the valley. I 
find all their names, however, upon the assessment 



376 HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

list of the township, returned in 1796. Moses died 
of the yellow fever in 1803. 

Calvin and Noah were for many years jjrominent 
business men of the town. The' success of the former 
was remarkable. At the time of his death, in 1845, 
Calvin Wadhams was the man of the largest wealth 
in the township; and probably there was not more 
than one other citizen of the county, who possessed 
more property than he. 

He was a stout, athletic man, as I remember him, 
about five feet eight inches in height, dark blue eyes, 
and a florid complexion. He possessed an agreeable 
presence, and always had a kind expression upon his 
lips. I knew him well and intimately, and I don't 
remember of ever seeing him angry, or even excited. 
He was strictly temperate, very industrious, and lived 
in a plain and economical manner. 

He possessed a sound judgment, and no man 
knew better the value of real estate. All these qual- 
ifications, united with good health and a strong con- 
stitution, he could not but succeed. He made up his 
mind to become rich, and he succeeded. But in his 
progress towards the accomplishment of this purpose, 
his business relations with the world immediately 
about him, and connected with the theatre of his op- 
erations, were not marked by acts of oppression; nor 
did he avail himself of the opportunity of enforcing 
the collection of his debts, and becoming the owner 
of the property of his debtors at forced judicial sales. 




CALVIN W A D II A M S. 



WADHAMS. 377 

He was, in addition to his occupation of farmer, 
what would be called, in these times, a private banker. 
He was in the habit of loaning money, and it seemed 
to afford him more satisfaction to lend to the poor 
than the rich, A plausible story, upon the part of 
a man of small means, was pretty generally success- 
ful, and such people would procure the loan of money 
from Calvin Wadhams, when it would have been out 
of the question to have succeeded elsewhere. 

Accommodating such people, as a matter of course, 
he would be annoyed when the day of payment came; 
and to resort to execution was the last remedy he em- 
ployed. To avoid this, he would extend the time, 
and receive almost any thing under the name of prop- 
erty in payment. I question if he ever sold out the 
house or home of any one who had become indebted 
to him. In this particular, his conduct was remarka- 
bly praiseworthy. 

But his chief occupation, and the one from which 
he derived the most satisfaction, was that of a farmer. 
He was a practical farmer too, for he put his own 
hand to the plow; and in the later years of his life, 
when the infirmities of age had overtaken him, you 
might see him in the field superintending the gather- 
ing of his harvest. When he became unable to walk 
there, he would ride there in his carriage. It had 
been his custom so many years to superintend the 
work going on upon his farm, that he could not con- 
tentedly relinquish it. 



378 HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH, 

He was kind and indulgent to the men in his em- 
ployment, and he would sell them corn upon credit, 
when they might have gone further and with less 
success. 

Living in a frugal way, and with his mind con- 
stantly upon his business, he accumulated a large es- 
tate. His old homestead farm — and being but a part 
of the estate which he left at his death — was recently 
sold,by his family, for seven hundred thousand dollars. 

As to his habits of frugality and industry, he was 
a genuine type of the men of the generation imme- 
diately preceding us. Labor, temperance, and econo- 
my, in his judgment, proved the true standard of man- 
hood, and that made up the rule of his long and pros- 
perous life. 

He was a religious man, and strongly devoted to 
the church of his faith. Born and educated as a 
Congregationalist, he left the creed of his ancestors, 
and embraced the Wesleyan doctrines. Having done 
this, he remained firm and steadfast in that creed to 
the end of his life. His home was ever open to the 
brethren of the Methodist church. At a quarterly 
meeting of these people in Plymouth, he would enter- 
tain as many as fifty of them at a time. Nor was 
his hospitality confined to the people of his own re- 
ligious sect — it was broad and general, and his home 
was open to all. He died at a ripe age, and in the 
full enjoyment of all his faculties. 

But one of his children survived him — the late 




SAMUEL W A D II A M S. 



WADHAMS. 379 

Samuel Wadhams, Esq., who inherited the larger 
part of his father's estate. 

He inherited too, the business qualifications and 
the even temper and kind disposition of his fath- 
er. Stepping into the occupation of so large an es- 
tate, he exhibited great skill and judgment in its 
management, and made valuable additions to it. 
Samuel Wadhams was a remarkably methodical man 
in his business affairs. He understood the detail, 
and knew well how to manage and control. He was 
probably more cautious than he might have been, in 
view of the accumulation of property. But he had 
that other and probably more useful qualification, 
prudence. 

He came to his conclusions with moderation, and 
they were generally right. Those who succeeded him 
will not have occasion to reflect upon his memory, for 
a lack of genuine good sense, as to the mode and man- 
ner of managing the large estate, the most of which 
he inherited. He was cautious in entering the great 
field of speculation which lay before him ; he hesitated 
at the contraction of debt; he seemed to have been 
governed by the idea, that as his fortune was ample, 
there was no need upon his part of putting any of 
that fortune in jeopardy, by grasping with cupidity for 
that which might, and still might not, be as advanta- 
geous as the theories of speculation pointed out. And 
there is not, in this view of the case, any reason to 
question the propriety of his conclusions. 



380 HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

He had enough. Possessing the cautious and 
methodical characteristics of his father, he turned 
over the large estate, with the accumulations it had 
received, through his careful management, to his chil- 
dren; which makes each of them an ample fortune. 
He died on the fifteenth of December, 1868, in his 
sixty-third year. He died as he had lived, a man of 
unblemished integrity; upright in his dealings, and a 
worthy Christian member of society. 

He left three sons — Elijah C, Calvin, and Moses, 
and one daughter, who is the wife of Hon. L. D. 
Shoemaker, the representative in Congress from this 
district, at this time. 

The faces of three members of this family, repre- 
senting three generations, accompany the short bio- 
graphical sketches I have attempted to draw of them. 

Noah, the third son of the pioneer, was one of the 
early Justices of the Peace of the county. He was a 
graduate of the famous law school of early days, at 
Litchfield, under the management of Judge Reeve. 
He was admitted to the bar of Luzerne county, 
not far from 1800 ; but the profession did not 
seem to have afforded him any attractions, and he 
settled down upon his patrimonial estate in Ply- 
mouth, where he spent the remainder of his life. He 
was an industrious, upright man. As a justice of the 
peace, his decisions seldom found their Avay to the ap- 
pellate court. His knowledge of the law, assisted by 
his good common sense, enabled him so to decide, be- 




E L I J A U C. W A D H A M S. 



NOAH WADHAMS. 381 

tween the parties before him, that they seldom ap- 
pealed. 

As an evidence of the way in which the early 
people of the town economized their time, the regula- 
tions of Esquire Wadhams' court will aflbrd an ex- 
cellent illustration. Saturday afternoons were his re- 
turn days, as well as the times fixed for the trial of 
the cases before him. This gave the magistrate an 
opportunity to do a half-day's labor before the open- 
ing of the court, and if an unusual amount of business 
was on hand, and it became necessary to extend the 
session into the night, it was so much gained. But 
the adjournment of an unfinished case went over to 
the succeeding Saturday. This was the general rule; 
there may have been exceptions to it. Noah Wad- 
hams was a frank, outspoken man, and one not in- 
timately acquainted with him, might have thought 
him rude and severely harsh, in his manner. But he 
was remarkably sensitive; and while his outward de- 
portment carried the semblance of a brusque and 
haughty appearance, the heart and disposition of the 
man were as docile as a child's. The defendant upon 
whom he would pronounce the judgment of the law, 
with the appearance of not mtrely cold indifference, 
but boisterous nnger, would find in him the most ac- 
cessible person to become his bail, even for stay of 
execution. His eyes and tongue were but a poor ex- 
ponent of the emotions of his heart. 

Probably a purer man, or one who strove harder 



382 HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

to do even and exact justice, in his official capacity, 
never received or acted under a commission of the 
peace. He was a model magistrate, and for many 
long years did he enjoy the confidence and respect of 
his neighbors. 

He was as positive a man in his politics, which were 
of the Jefferson school, as his brother Calvin was in 
his, which were Washingtonian. No two men were 
ever more diametrically opposed to each other than 
these two brothers, in their political principles. One a 
radical Democrat, the other a radical Federalist. 

Noah Wadhams died in 1846, in the seventy-sixth 
year of his age. His farm was situated between the 
river and the back road, and extended from the 
Lackawanna and Bloomsburg railroad depot to the 
small stream heretofore referred to, and on which now 
stand some of the most expensive and best buildings 
of the borough. There are now, none of his family 
left in Plymouth, 

DAVENPORTS. 

The Davenports, a very numerous family of the 
present day in Plymouth, were among the early set- 
tlers of the town, and one of them was of the original 
"Forty." I am not able to ascertain the length 
of time he remained in Plymouth after his immi- 
gration. 

The name of Danford is on the original list. The 
surname is so obliterated that I cannot decipher a 



DAVENPORTS. 383 

letter of it. It was undoubtedly KoLert, however, 
father of Thomas, who came a few years afterwards. 
The name of Davenport and Danford are the same. 
The family were known by the latter name many 
years since my recollection; and it is so wiitten in 
the old deeds of conveyance. The family is of low 
Dutch origin, and this may account for the difi'erent 
manner of spelling the name. 

The name of Conrad Davenport is upon the dead 
list of the Wyoming battle. I think this man was a 
resident of Newport, and a member of Captain Stew- 
art's company, and probably of that family of Daven- 
ports still residing in Union township, but who are 
not related to the Plymouth family. 

The Danford whose name appears upon the roll 
of the Susquehanna immigrant company, and to 
whom was allotted some of the lands still in posses- 
sion of the family, came out, most likely, as an ex- 
plorer; and, on his return, giving a favorable account 
of the new country, his son Thomas succeeded his 
father in the Plymouth jiossessions. Robert does 
not seem to have returned to the valley. It is also 
pretty well settled that he was a member of Captain 
Whittlesey's company in the battle, and a survivor 
of that terrible disaster. Such is the tradition of the 
family at the present time, and most likely a correct 
one. 

Thomas Davenport, the ancestor of the now resi- 
dent family, came from Esopus, on the Hudson, state 
24 



384 HISTOKICAL SKETCHES OF PLIMOUTH, 

of New York, in the year 1794. His name is regis- 
tered on the assessor's list of 1796, and he was then 
the owner of a large landed estate. His name does 
not appear on the enrolments of the people of the 
town before this period. He died in the year 1812, 
leaving a large family — six sons and four daughters. 
His sons were Thomas, John, Kobert, Samuel, Dan- 
iel and Stephen. 

A considerable part of the old homestead farm is 
still owned by the descendants. In early days the 
four Davenport houses, with their long stoops extend- 
ing the length of the entire front of each, presented a 
unique apjDearance, compared with the other buildings 
of the pioneers. The latter followed Yankee models, 
built after the Litchfield houses of Connecticut. 
The former were after models of the people of Sir 
Hendrick Hudson. This row extended from the 
" Swing-gate " to the mountain road, near the Not- 
tingham colliery. The residence of the ancestor was 
situated about half way between the two points 
named. 

Two of these ancient buildings still stand; but 
they have lost the old ornament of the front stoop, 
and they do not have the cheerful appearance they 
possessed forty years ago. 

From the death of the old gentleman down to the 
year 1820, the entire estate remained in common, not- 
withstanding three of the sons had residences of their 
own^ and three of the daughters were married and re- 



DAVENPORTS. . 385 

siding away from the paternal mansion; still, for the 
period of eight years, the property remained in com- 
mon. A somewhat strange state of affairs, compared 
with the present times — for now the earth has scarcely 
time to settle down upon the lid of the ancestral 
coffin, before the process goes out for carving up and 
dividing the ancestral estate. 

The Davenports, for the period of time named, 
labored in the same field; fed, we may say, from the 
same board — as the crib and granary contained the 
same common stock of grain — and they were, in fact, 
a commune of themselves. The whole machinery 
moved without a jar ; there was perfect accord. 
AVhen they would meet together of an evening, after 
the day's labor, upon the old homestead stoop, it 
used to be the remark of others, that " Congress had 
assembled." And here were discussed, not those in- 
triguing and subtle questions which now occupy the 
time of a somewhat degenerate body of men, known 
by tlie same name, but the more useful and necessary 
and solid questions of life, such as how such a field 
should be tilled ? What should be the character of 
the succeeding day's employment ? Which of them 
sliould swing the cradle, and which rake and bind ? 
How much of the crop should be thrashed and sent to 
Easton, and how much put into bins for the year's 
supply .^ Solid, sensible, and man-like discussions. 
And in this way the Davenport congress managed 
their affairs. Secret schemes, involving the means of 



386 HISTOEICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

living, independent of industry and hard labor, had no 
place upon their " private calendar." 

And so they went on through years of prosperity, 
their names appearing neither on the criminal, or civil 
dockets of the courts, of the county, as litigants. The 
family for two generations, within the knowledge of 
the writer, have been upright, industrious, and active 
business men. Of the six sons of old Thomas Daven- 
port, Stephen, late County Commissioner, and now a 
resident of Huntington, is the only survivor. 

Daniel, as has already been stated, became seri- 
ously involved in the coal trade, at an early day, and 
lost most of his estate. He was a man of integrity, 
of frank and pleasant deportment, and very popular 
with the people of the town. His misfortunes in the 
coal business enlisted the sympathies of the citizens 
deeply, and these troubles were undoubtedly the cause 
of his premature death. 

He was a representative man of his day; and he 
gave employment to, and fed large numbers of labor- 
ing men, for those times, and of them all, no one ever 
had cause for complaint in his dealings and inter- 
course with them. I refer back to this generous and 
kind-hearted man with feelings of lively emotion. He 
was but three or four years my senior; we were inti- 
mate for many years. We occupied the same bench 
in Thomas Patterson's school, in the Old Academy; 
and when I came to the bar, he was one of my first 
and best clients. These reasons make me clinsr with 



DAVENPORTS. 387 

great regard to his memory. He left a large family at 
his death, as did also Thomas, John and Eobert. In 
the division of the estate of their father, each received 
a competency. 

Jacob Gould and John Pringle, both highly 
respectable men, married daughters of the old gen- 
tleman. Mrs. Pringle is living; she and Stephen are 
the only survivors of the family of ten. 

The Davenports were among the substantial busi- 
ness men of the town for a great many years. They 
were of that class which, above all others, are entitled 
to public consideration, because they were devoted to 
their own affairs, and were not in the habit of med- 
dling with those of others. They faithfully main- 
tained their credit, and their lives were marked with 
strict economy, industry and fair dealing. The six 
sons were all farmers, and they literally were gov- 
erned by the sentiment contained in the couplet of 
our great American philosopher, Benjamin Franklin, 
that — 

" He that by tlie plough would thrive, 
Himself must either hold or drive." 

VAN LOONS. 

The family of Van Loons also immigrated from 
Esopus in the year 1794. There were three broth- 
ers — Abraham, Mathias and Nicholas, As the 
name indicates, they were of low Dutch origin. I 
find them all on the assessment list of 1796. They 
came to Plymouth after the valley troubles had ceased 



388 HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

to exist. They were a family of hard workers, and 
were among the active business men of the town. 
Abraham, or as he was generally called, Brom, had a 
large family of children. His residence stood on the 
south side of the Nottingham shaft, at the corner of 
the Main and Mountain roads. 

Stephen, his eldest son, was elected high sheriff 
of the county in the year 1816. He was captain of 
the militia of the town in 1814, and mustered the 
men of his company into the United States service, 
who were drafted from it. He was a man of very 
considerable energy, and during the war of 1812 was 
a very noted politician of the town. Being of the 
democratic party, he was rewarded by it, with the 
office of sheriff, as a compensation for his political 
services. He discharged the duties of the office faith- 
fully. He died February 1840 or 1841. 

Samuel Van Loon is a son of Stephen, a man 
well known in the county. He was also elected to the 
same office in 1859. He was the last of the five 
sheriffs of the county selected from Plymouth men. 
It is somewhat remarkable that the township of 
Plymouth should have held this office a third of 
the time, from 1816 to 1859. The county being 
large in territory, and the population numerous, Ply- 
mouth had more than her share of sheriii^. The 
order in which they were elected is as follows : 
Stephen Van Loon, Benjamin Eeynolds, James Nes- 
bitt, Calel) Atherton and Samuel Van Loon. 



VAN LOONS. 389 

Another feature marks the case, which is •well 
worth recording — these gentlemen were all of them 
descendants of the first settlers of the town. The 
grandfathers of three of them were of the original 
" Forty," The ancestors of the two Van Loons 
came but a few years later. 

John, anotlier son of Abraham, was a man of keen 
and sarcastic wit. How many times I have listened, 
with others, to the stories of John Van Loon, while 
the men of the harvest field were laying under the 
shade of the big cherry-tree, on my father's farm, on 
Shawnee Flats, taking the " hour's nooning." Like 
Shakspeare's Yorick, " he was a fellow of infinite 
mirth." He would for a half hour keep the company 
in uproarious laughter. 

At the risk of being charged with a departure 
from the dignified theme of history, I must relate a 
specimen of his numerous stories, though I do not 
vouch for the truth of it! 

He was a pilot of the Susquehanna, and made the 
navigating of arks a part of his employment. 

At the foot of the Halifax mountain, this side of 
Harrisburg, an old man by the name of Hoaklander 
kept a way-side inn. The ark and raftsmen were 
accustomed to stop at this tavern. The house stood 
at the base of a very high hill and with a steep 
ascent. 

As Van Loon related the story: "Hoaklander 
had a one horse sled, whicli he used in transporting 



390 HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

his fire-wood from this mountain side. The harness 
had buckskin traces. On a thawing spring day in 
March he ascended the hill with his one horse sled, 
put on his load of wood, and started homeward, lead- 
ing his horse. On arriving at his house at the bot- 
tom of the hill, he found his sled missing; in a great 
fury he jerked off the harness, and threw it over a 
stump by the way-side, and put his horse in the sta- 
ble, vexed beyond endurance at the result of his work. 

The weather changed at night, and it became sud- 
denly very cold; the eflect of this was, to retract the 
stretched buckskin traces. The old man was awak- 
ened by a rumbling noise during the night, like dis- 
tant thunder. The sound continued; he jumped from 
his bed and went to his door, when lo! in the moon- 
light he saw his sled load of wood precipitately de- 
scending the mountain pitch; and to his astonishment 
it came up to his door with a rush." 

Daddy Hoaklander and his buckskin traces would 
well bear an annual repetition. 

John removed with his family to the State of 
Ohio, where he died some twenty-five years ago. 

Jeremiah, another brother, removed to the same 
State a few years before John. 

Acquainted with two generations of this family, it 
afibrds me much satisfaction to speak of them all as 
men of probity, industry, and congenial social dis- 
positions. A streak of mirthful humor was a prevail- 
ing characteristic with most of them. 



PRINGLES. 391 



PRINGLES. 



This family were among the early settlers. There 
were two brothers — Samuel and James. I find the 
name of Samuel on the assessment list in 1796. He 
owned the farm upon which is located the Gaylord 
coal shaft and breaker. James resided in what is 
now called Jackson. Samuel raised a large family. 
His eldest son, Thomas, man-ied a daughter of Elisha 
Harvey. He removed some forty years since to Kings- 
ton, where he died. His sons are now among the 
best and most enterprising business men of that 
township. Thomas Pringle was a most exemplary 
and upright citizen; a prominent member for a good 
number of years in the Methodist church, and his 
house, to the day of his death, was a temporary home 
for the circuit preachers of that religious order. 

Samuel, the ancestor, died many years since; he 
also was a man of good standing, and a worthy and 
upright citizen. The old stone farm-house and pleas- 
ant surroundings made an inviting spot in old times; 
but heaps of culm and stacks of machinery have de- 
faced its former appearance; and it is very doubtful 
that if the sjoirit of the old farmer, of early days, were 
to return there now, whether he could recognize the 
locality. 

TURNERS. 

John Turner, the first settler in the town of the 
family of that name, immigrated at an early day; but 



392 HISTOKICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

he was not of the first colony. He came to Plymoutli 
about the year 1780. His son, the late John Turner, 
informed me that his father removed to the town, from 
near Hacketstown, Warren county, New Jersey; but I 
find in an obituary notice of this gentleman, published 
soon after his death, which occurred on the third day 
of July last (1871), and apparently prepared with 
care, that the family residence originally is fixed at 
Bushkill, Northampton county, Pa. I think, how- 
ever, that the family were originally from the State 
of New Jersey. 

The first settler died of an epidemic, which was 
remarkably malignant and destructive of life in Ply- 
mouth, in the year 1803, and known as the " Fall 
Fever; " but in reality a type of yellow fever. A 
brother of his also died the same season of the same 
disease. Four sons survived him — Emanuel, Daniel, 
John and Jonah. Emanuel settled in Huntington; 
Daniel in Kingston, both in this county; Jonah at 
Hope, Warren county. New Jersey, and John re- 
mained upon the homestead farm in Plymouth. 

It is of John, who was born in the town in 1787, 
and died there as above stated, and resided there dur- 
ing his whole life, of whom I shall more particularly 
speak. 

He was a tall, stout man, with remarkably fair 
complexion, and blue eyes, and possessing an agree- 
able presence. Like nearly all of the early resi- 
dents of the town, he pursued the occupation of a 



JOHN TURNER. 393 

farmer, though in later years of his life, he opened a 
store, and connected this branch of business with coal 
operations. Still his chief occupation, and the one 
best suited to his tastes and inclinations, was that of 
a farmer. 

He was a man of abstemious habits, and his whole 
life was marked by untiring industry. He was liter- 
ally a man of domestic habits; always upon his plan- 
tation, and always engaged. He had no idle mo- 
ments. Uniform in his politics, and firm in his party 
prmciples, which were of the Jefferson school, he never 
however s ught office; and with the exception of hold- 
ing the commission of postmaster of the town a few 
years, and acting in the capacity of municipal ap- 
pointments, his whole life was that of a private cit- 
izen. 

He was a strong advocate of education, and was 
mainly the cause of introducing the teaching of the 
dead languages into the Plymouth school. I speak in 
this particular from my own knowledge, as upon his 
directions I made an engagement with both Mr. Pat- 
terson and Mr. Nyce, graduates of Dickinson College, 
Pennsylvania, as teachers in the Old Academy. 
These gentlemen were principals of the school, tlie 
one succeeding the other in the years 1828-1830. I 
think, too, that Mr. Turner sustained a much larger 
proportion of the expenses of the school, during these 
years, than his legal share. He was determined that 
the teaching of the languages should be made a part 



394 HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH, 

of the school exercises; and after much difficulty and 
pretty serious OiDposition, he succeeded in carrying his 
point. This enabled him to give his children a good 
education, and he availed himself of the opportunity. 
Two of his sons became thorough business men. 

Samuel G. Turner, his second son, was a man of 
much energy, and pursuing the occupation of mer- 
chant and coal dealer, gathered up a very handsome 
estate. He might be classed, at his decease, among 
the men of wealth of the county, at a time too when 
men were measured by a more liberal standard than 
in the days of his father. 

He represented the county in both branches of the 
State Legislature, and with much credit and ability. 
He was the father of the mine ventilating bill, and is 
deserving of much praise for his active exertions in 
preparing and passing this law. He possessed more 
than an ordinary degree of intelligence, and his judg- 
ment in real estate was very superior. 

He removed to Wilkes-Barre some six years since, 
and remained there till his death, which occurred in 
the early part of January, 1873. Samuel G. Turner 
may be ranked among the most successful men, in a 
business way, of the town or of the county. He died in 
the prime of life, and at a period when his prospects 
of a successful future were very brilliant. Living 
somewhat as a gentleman of leisure, he devoted much 
of his time to political affairs, and in his capacity of 
legislator, there attaches not the least suspicion of a 



JOHN TURNER. 395 

want of fidelity. This testimony, in the times in 
whicli we are writing, is eminently deserving of notice. 

Frank Turner, following the example of his father, 
has taken a very active part in promoting the charac- 
ter and efficiency of tlie common schools of the town. 

As was the custom in early days for all to labor, 
Mr. Turner devoted himself assiduously to his occu- 
pation : early and late, during the period of seed time 
and harvest, he might be seen in the field, and doing 
his full share of the work on hand — the first on " the 
Flats," in the morning, and the last to leave at night. 
Careful, prudent and judicious, the accumulation of 
much more than competency was the result. These 
habits he kept up until age and decrepitude forbid 
their continuance. During the few years preceding 
his death, his sight and hearing became very much 
impaired, and from necessity, he lived in a secluded 
manner. 

He was the last of a class of hardy and industrious 
men, who for a long period of years gave tone and 
high standing to old Plymouth, as a place where 
labor was dignified in the character of the men who 
performed it. 

I conclude this notice with a quotation from an 
obituary, from the pen of my brother, C. E. Wright, 
Esquire, upon the death of Mr. Turner. The remarks 
are truthful and well expressed: 

" There was much in the life and character of John Turner to 
excite aMlmiration, and furnish a model for imitation. He was fru- 



396 HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

gal, industrious, studious and constant. In his life, wlien in the 
enjoyment of health, there was little of ■waste time. He had a dis- 
criminating mind, and the habit of constant thought. 

" As you beheld him, you were assured the machinery of the 
mind was never at rest. He read much, and digested what he read. 
In his demeanor he was always dignified and grave. The low buf- 
fooneries of the world he looked on with contempt. He ■v\'ould 
have graced the highest walks of social or civil state, had fortune 
cast him upon them. 

" In his political opinions he was changeless. From the first to 
the last he was a Democrat — not a noisy brawler, but quiet and 
fixed. No one could ever force on him a demand for office. He 
had his business line of life laid down, and from it he never 
swerved. 

" Mr. Turner's taste seemed to be for the intellectual. The 
halls of public debate had a great charm for him. A man of 
research, he delighted in any exposition of art, science, literature 
or governmental policy. Hence the advocate, the lecturer, the pro- 
fessor, or divine, found in him a patient, attentive, and discriminat- 
ing auditor. Sharing, in a good degree, his confidence and friend- 
ship while in life, I am happy to afford his memory the tribute of 
my humble pen." 

ATHERTONS. 

The Atliertons were among the first settlers of the 
valley. Caleb, the ancestor of the Plymouth branch, 
heads the list of Captain Kansom's company. The 
other brothers, who immigrated from Connecticut, 
were among the first settlers of Kingston. Jabez 
was among the slain upon the Wyoming battle-field, 
and came to the valley with John Jenkins, as early 
as 1763. 

Members of this family, therefore, were subjected 
to as ^QVetQ trials as often befall the lot of man. 



MOSES ATHEBTON. 397 

The name in Plymouth has become extinct, 
with that of Whittlesey, Alden, Bidlack, Pike, 
Rogers, Allen, Heath, Roberts, and many more; tra- 
dition in a few years to come, will hardly preserve 
them. But the times have been when these names 
were familiar with the entire population of the town. 
It is my desire, and that alone which challenges my 
pen to preserve and perpetuate, so far as possible, the 
names and memories of these men of a preceding age, 
and to give an idea to succeeding generations who 
they were, how they behaved, what they endured, and 
what they accomplished. 

"While I am unable to speak positively, I think 
that Caleb Atherton was of the first "forty." Nor 
can I ascertain whether he was in the Wyoming bat- 
tle, or when, or where he died. 

His son Moses, who succeeded his father in the 
occupation and ownership of the family estate, was 
born and died in Plymouth. I find his name on the 
enrolment of 1796; so that his birth must have been 
very soon after the occupation of the town by white 
men — assuming that the name of no person was 
placed upon this list under twenty-one years of age. 

His residence was a few rods south of the Acad- 
emy, and adjoining the Turner farm. The present 
two-story frame house, upon the site of the first 
building, was erected within my recollection — proba- 
bly fifty-five years ago. The old barn on the opposite 
Bide of the way, and which was old fifty years ago, 



398 HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

still stands in defiance of the angry elements with 
which it has been in yearly conflict for a hundred 
years. 

Moses Atherton was a man, in stature, under the 
medium size; he presented a peculiar appearance from 
the manner in which he always wore his hat; it was 
always drawn down half-way over one ear, and eleva- 
ted an inch above the other. Being a short man, it 
became necessary in his conversation to elevate the 
side of his head the least covered by his hat, which 
tended to tilt it still further over, which added to the 
singularity of his presence. He was always ready, and 
would seek the opportunity for a religious contro- 
versy, A convert to the doctrines of universal salra- 
tion, he went armed with all the panoply of that 
liberal sect. Every passage of the Old and New Testa- 
ment which could be made available for the support 
of this doctrine, was at his tongue's end. Therefore, 
upon all occasions of a gathering of the people — at 
town meetings, militia trainings, elections, or assem- 
blages of any kind — Mr. Atherton would be present, 
ready, willing and anxious to take up the cudgels of 
universal faith. And in whatever part of the crowd 
you would see the little man, with hat on one side, 
one ear concealed by its crown, and the other exposed 
to daylight, surrounded by a knot of listeners, you 
could be assured that universal salvation was the 
theme. He never tired in argument: his subject was 
inexhaustible. 



OLD SETTLERS. 399 

He was a man of industrious habits; he had a 
large family of children, and his four sons became 
highly respectable men of the town. His oldest, 
Truman, resided many years at Huntsville, in what is 
now Jackson township, and was the owner of the flour- 
ing and lumber mills there. He was a representative 
of the county in the General Assembly of the State for 
two years, and a most worthy and excellent citizen. 
He is still living, at an advanced age, in Huron county, 
Ohio, where he removed some ten years ago. 

Caleb, the second son, was elected High Sheriff 
of the county in 1838. He has been dead several 
years. Adnah, another son, is a resident farmer of 
Wyoming county; and Stephen, the youngest son, is 
a lumber dealer in Lancaster county, Pennsylvania. 

It was my design to have extended these old 
family sketches further, but my readers may well 
conclude that they have been carried too far already. 

There was a class of pioneers, however (whose 
names, at least, I must not omit), who scaled the 
northern wall of the valley, the Shawnee mountain, 
and settled down on its western slope, literally in the 
wilderness. A class < f hardy adventurers to whom 
the rocks and forest trees, and the less productive soil, 
were no obstacles. At the head of them were Thomas 
Case, Thomas and John Lameroux and Jesse Brown, 
James Pringle, Eden Ruggles, and Joshua and Ben- 
najah Fuller, all of whom commenced their improve- 
ments there before 1800. 
25 



400 HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

In fact, from these families sprang a very large 
number of the people now resident in Jackson. 
Thomas Case had a family of eight sons, all of whom 
grew to manhood, and Thomas Lameroux six. What 
a power to reclaim the forest, and tame down the 
wilderness, in two families only ! They faithfully ac- 
complished the work. The vast extent and character of 
the stone wall upon the farms of these two old settlers, 
were a matter of marvel in early days. The work was 
all done hy their own family forces, and well done; 
and the miles of it to-day, stretching out over their 
plantations, are a monument of the toil and industry 
which were bestowed a half century since. 

I remember well, when a young man, how one of 
the sons of these families would be pointed out, as an 
object of especial regard, for having laid so man}- feet 
of stone wall in a day; and one of the others as having 
dressed so many pounds of flax in a day. 

How much nobler an object of praise than the 
delicate white hand of modern youth, bedizened with 
rings, or the nicety and precision with which the hair 
of the head can be divided. 

So far as it related to mutual acts of kindness, a 
parallel may be drawn between these people of the 
north-western slope of the mountain and their neigh- 
bors below, with the ancient Gael, or Scottish High- 
lander, and the Saxon of the plains. 

They would come down and help, at the harvest 
on Shawnee Flats, receiving corn in exchange for their 



OLD SETTLERS AT THE POLLS. 401 

labor, and would drive down their cattle for pastur- 
age, when the big " Swing Gate " was thrown back 
upon its hinges, after the crops were gathered, as a 
kind of general invitation to all, to enter the inviting 
field with their flocks and herds. 

These hardy and industrious people were a true 
type of the times in which they lived. Labor to them 
was inviting and honorable; and it was a subject of 
boast with them, that their farms supplied them with 
ail the necessary wants of life, and that they and 
their children cultivated them with their own hands. 

Simple and jilain days, of a race of men now gone, 
and their descendants scattered over the broad land. 
Ah ! and the bones of many of them bestrew the 
battle-fields of the late internecine war. 

How well I remember these old patriarchs, dressed 
in their holiday suit of homespun, coming down to 
the election polls in the valley, fifty years ago, with 
staff in hand, to deposit their ballots ! Not noisy or 
boisterous, but sober, dignified, and thoughtful men. 
Their arguments were interchanged in candor, and 
their politics discussed in mild, inoffensive language. 

The polls closed, they returned to their mountain 
homes, and whatever the result of the election may 
have been, they yielded with grace to the will of the 
majority. An effort made to cast an illegal vote, 
branded with disgrace the name of the man who 
had the hardihood or daring to give countenance to 
the act. 



CHAPTER XX. 

OLD FAMILIES, CONTINUED JOSEPH WRIGHT. 

MY reminiscences of Plymoutli men, end with a 
biograpliical notice of my father. I throw my- 
self upon the indulgence of my readers, in paying a 
short tribute of paternal regard to one of the kindest of 
parents, as well as the best of men. I am well aware 
that it is somewhat out of place, for the son to be the 
biographer of the father, but as this one has passed 
from the mortal stage, and that one is in the last act 
in the drama of life, he will at least feel less sensi- 
tive to criticism,than he might under other circum- 
stances. 

I am fully aware, too, of the force and power of 
family pride, as well as family prejudice, and shall 
therefore make an honest effort to confine myself to a 
truthful statement of facts. If I exceed this, there 
will be one consolation left, that mine will not have 
been the first instance of a departure from the truth. 
But those few who are now living, and who knew the 
man, I am pretty certain will not charge me with col- 
oring too highly the portrait I am drawing. Those 
who did not know him, if they are in doubt and feel 
inclined to pursue the subject, must seek the tradi- 
tionary evidence of the town, and compare the result 
of such inquiry with the narrative presented. 

He was a resident of the town for more than half 

(402) 




JOSEPH W U I G n T. 



JOSEPH WRIGHT. 403 

a century, and during that long period, was inti- 
mately connected with its municipal government, and 
was one of its representative men. As the annual 
assessor and auditor of the public accounts, he served 
probably a much longer term than any other citizen 
in it. Being remarkably correct in figures, and writ- 
ing a most excellent hand, these burdens, for this 
reason, were the more frequently imposed on him. 
Such qualifications were not so common in the early 
history of the town as they are now. The annual set- 
tlement and auditing of the municipal accounts most 
generally passed under his inspection. In later years, 
Henderson Gaylord took upon himself a share of this 
duty, and for a period of more than thkty years, these 
two men performed, or supervised, this responsible 
duty. 

The discharge of public services did not pay so 
well forty years ago as now. It was no sinecure then. 
At the annual town meeting, the question would be, 
" Will you accept the ofiice.^ " Present customs shape 
it somewhat differently: " Will you please to give me 
the office ? " A sense of public duty and obligation un- 
der the old usages, assumed the imposition. I fear very 
much that the emoluments of the office have a good 
deal to do with it now. But then the cost of living 
now is more, rents are higher, and there does not 
seem to be employment for all the good people ! 
Then the deputy is to be paid out of the fees and 
perquisites; whereas, under the old and simple pro- 



404 HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

cess of our ancestors, the principal was willing to do 
the work with or without pay! Changes will come; 
changes have come! Taxes, too, will increase; taxes 
have increased ! Have they reached the maximum ? 
And who shall answer this question ? 

The old records of the town from 1807 to 1855, 
will probably show the name of Joseph Wright, in 
connection with the administration of its municipal 
affairs for at least half that period of time. I think, 
also, that there is no person either who will allege 
that the duties in this position were not faithfully, 
honestly and correctly discharged. 

Having thus been so long a resident of Plymouth, 
and so closely associated with its prosperity and 
growth, I feel that the people of the town will con- 
sider the memory of the man as much their property 
as that of his family. Making his home there at a 
later period, and after the close of the early disasters 
of the settlement, there will not be of course that in- 
terest in his personal biography as with many of those 
who preceded him. 

The family, consisting of seven brothers, came 
from England in 1681, with William Penn's colony 
of Quaker immigrants. John Wright, one of the 
number, in a short time after the landing, commenced 
a residence in the eastern part of Burlington county, 
New Jersey, and was the first settler at Wrightstown, 
being the founder in fact of the village, or little town 
of that name. 



JOSEPH WRIGHT. 405 

He held a commission of justice of the peace and 
captain of the militia, under the royal seal of Charles 
II. A diary kept by this pioneer is still in the pos- 
session of the family. Among other things therein 
recorded, it appears that "he subscribed and paid £3 
towards building the brick meeting-house." This 
building is still standing, after a lapse of almost two 
hundred years, and was probably the first meeting- 
house erected in that State. It appears also that he 
" made the fii'st barrel of cider in the State of New 
Jersey." The circumstances attending the jubilee 
over this " first barrel of cider," I must insert. It 
was an event in the history of the new country. 

"He invited all his neighbors to partake; they 
very willingly attended. Duke Fort was appointed 
tapster; and a merrier assemblage never took place in 
the neighborhood of Penny Hill, for so Wrightstown 
was tlicn called." 

Among the curiosities contained in this old diary 
I add the following : " The soil is very productive, 
and the earth yields very bountifully; but then the 
farmer has poor encouragement, considering that those 
terrible pests, the wild geese and wild turkeys, de- 
stroy almost entirely one's crops." 

The frontiersman of Minnesota and Dacotah may 
be to-day noting down the same text, to be the won- 
der of the people two hundred years hence. 

At Wrightstown, on the second day of May, 1785, 
the subject of this notice was born; and of the fourth 



406 HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

generation of the family in America. His father, 
Caleb Wi'ight, removed with his family to the " Sus- 
quehanna country " in the year 1795. 

He purchased and settled upon a farm in Union 
township, two miles above Shickshinny, where he re- 
mained till the year 1811, and then returned to New 
Jersey. During this time Joseph had married, and 
commenced a small retail store in Plymouth — already 
mentioned. He alone of the family remained here. 

Joseph Wright was the second merchant of old 
Plymouth. His ancestors for two hundred years be- 
fore him having belonged to the " Society of Friends/' 
he steadily adhered to the faith of that religious or- 
der of people to the hour of his death. Notwith- 
standing he had been expelled from the Society, be- 
cause he had married outside of the church limits, 
and in direct violation of its discipline, he ever consid- 
ered himself as one of the order, however, and bound 
by its formulas and creed. He would say, " that in 
matter of substance he had lived up to the faith of 
his fathers; but that in two matters of form only, 
viz. : his marriage, and submitting to the military 
draft of 1812, he had wandered a trifle, but that this 
was by no means a matter of regret." And probably 
these were the only two instances in which he had 
failed, during a long and eventful life, of fulfilling the 
requirements of his creed. And yet it is somewhat 
difficult to reconcile his professed religious obligations, 
in view of his conduct in entering the service in the 



JOSEPH WRIGHT. 407 

war of 1812. His argument was, " my people enjoin 
peace, and so do I, unless the enemy is upon the 
border, and then there should be no peace till he be 
expelled; nor can I relieve my conscience by sending 
a substitute in my place, for I would thus only be 
doing indirectly what the country demands directly of 
all her citizens. I must, therefore, lay aside the 
Quaker coat, and shoulder the musket, if the requisi- 
tion of the draft falls to my lot," 

It did; and in 1814 we find him in Captain Hal- 
leck's company of Pennsylvania militia, on the march 
for the defense of Baltimore, which was besieged by 
British guns. Patriotism had triumphed over relig- 
ious fealty; the tri-colored cockade usurped the broad 
brim. 

The regiment, however, was countermanded in its 
march, and he, with the others, was discharged; but 
for the small service he lived to receive the govern- 
ment bounty in a land warrant of one hundred and 
forty acres of the public domain — an acknowledg- 
ment upon the part of the government of which he 
was exceedingly proud. And who shall say that van- 
ity, under such circumstances, is not tolerable ? 

The occupation of a merchant does not seem to 
have been congenial to him. He pursued it but a 
short time, and abandoned it, for, to him, the more 
active and agreeable employment on the farm. And 
into the business he went with all his energy and in- 
domitable will. 



408 HISTOEICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

Endowed by nature with an iron constitution, and 
possessing a frame-work begirt with, stalwart thews 
and sinews, he was prepared to resist ordinary obsta- 
cles, and his mind was made up to fight out the 
great battle of life in a heroic and resolute manner. 
The marshals of the Fii'st Consul, fighting under the 
eye of their great captain, never entered the field with 
a more determined purpose to win than did he. And 
with this fixed and unchangeable determination, you 
might see him at all hours and seasons, and in all 
kinds of weather, steadily pursuing his occupation. 
Entirely temperate in his habits, and eminently moral 
in all his relations of life, and having a well balanced 
mind, and much more than ordinary intellect, success 
was certain. 

The early Plymouth men, almost, I may say, 
without exception, seem to have had a hankering for 
a share of the broad acres of the great field. Their 
wealth and social consequence seem to have been 
measured by the number of acres they could acquire 
of it. As the wealth and position of the nomadic 
chiefs of the hills of Judea were estimated according 
to the number of cattle of their grazing herds, so 
were these men as to the number of acres they owned 
of the " Shawnee Flats." 

Sharing therefore this feeling of ambition, if not to 
a greater extent than most of his neighbors, at least 
to an equal degree with any of them, he deserted the 
shop, and entered the field of labor, literally, without 



JOSEPH WRIGHT. 409 

tlie least mental reservation. His aim was the ac- 
quisition of land; and had he followed out this idea 
alone, he would have died a man of very large wealth. 
In the place of leaving for his children thirty or forty 
thousand dollars, it might have been ten times mul- 
tiplied. 

He was a model farmer; no man understood its 
theory and practice better. He knew when to sow, 
and when to reap; how to crop, and the mode and 
manner of agriculture, from the most important to 
the smallest details. And his rapid success was an 
evidence that he thoroughly understood the business. 
And, as Byron said of George III. : 

" A better farmer ne'er brushed dew from lawn." 

He possessed a solid judgment, and he came to 
his conclusions after deep thought aad deliberate re- 
flection. He read much in his intervals from his 
daily toil. Josephus, Rollin, Hume and Ramsay 
were his standards as to ancient and modern history. 
Shakspeare, Sir Walter Scott and Burns were his 
posts. He could almost entirely repeat the " Lady 
of the Lake," and " Marmion." And the " Cotter's 
Saturday Night " was his ideal of the master. 

Thus reading, and reflecting upon wliat he had 
read, there was presented to him an obstacle in his 
pathway to a liberal fortune. He stopped to consider 
it, and relaxed his efibrts for the addition of acres, 



410 HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

and turned his thoughts upon the education of his 
children, 

" Knowledge, if properly applied/' he would say, 
" is of more importance than gold or silver. A stock 
in trade of education needs no policy of insurance; it 
cannot be burned by fire; it cannot be encumbered 
with debts and sold under the auctioneer's hammer; 
and therefore my sons may choose, at the proper age, 
whether they will pursue my occupation, or acquire a 
learned profession." 

Adopting, therefore, this idea, and treating it as a 
fixed fact, he set himself about the work of its accom- 
plishment. To do it, however, must necessarily dis- 
pel the hope of becoming rich; the money, therefore, 
annually laid aside to buy more acres, must now be 
applied to other purposes. " Boys," he would say 
(and by the way this was the manner in which he 
would address us when we were gray-headed men), 
" boys, it is my purpose, if my life be spared, to give 
each of you an opportunity of fitting yourselves for 
the pursuit of a learned profession. While I am en- 
tirely satisfied with my own lot in life, I cannot but 
feel that if I had had a better education, I should 
have been a happier man. Though as to this, I may 
be mistaken; for I entertain a greater respect for a 
first-rate farmer or mechanic, than I do for a second 
or third-rate professional man. Knowing, therefore, 
that I am a first-rate farmer, my position is one that 
I am proud of; and as such, the communily respect 



JOSEPH WRIGHT. 411 

me. Had I lield an indifferent standing in any of 
the professions, with my ambition, I should not have 
the same feeling of pride that I now enjoy. There- 
fore, it is probable that it is all for the best. You 
must understand, however, that you must thoroughly 
learn my trade first. For this I have two reasons. 
In the first place, you will leave me with a fully de- 
veloped frame, with sinews and muscles matured, and 
you will thus be prepared for the rough shock of the 
world, whether in the camp or civil life. All this may 
be done now, but not after you have reached the 
years of manhood. In the second place, if you shall 
not have the talents and ability to sustain yourselves 
in a learned pursuit, you will have the knowledge of 
my trade to fall back upon as a reserve, and so be 
enabled to make a living with the lessons of industry 
I shall teach you. Bear in mind, too, if you choose a 
profession, to strive and be at the head of it, or do 
not make the effort at all. You will, therefore, con- 
tinue to labor daily in the field by my side, in seed 
time and harvest; attending the school, at home, 
during the winter months, till you severally reach the 
age of eighteen years; by that time you will have 
matured your physical power, and also have learned 
my trade; and I hope will also have obtained suffi- 
cient knowledge and judgment to decide for yourselves 
as to your future course. And as you shall then de- 
termine, the responsibility must rest with you, not 
me. 



412 HISTOEICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

Here is the reasoning of a philosopher, and could 
not have heen improved with the possession of the 
learning and wisdom of all the schools. Plain 
common sense, accompanied with a sound discretion, 
• seldom to be found in a man who had been blessed 
with so few opportunities in early life. 

Acting, therefore, under this advice, myself and 
two younger brothers, in arriving each at the age of 
eighteen years, with a pretty good knowledge of 
the rudiments of learning, acquired during the winter 
months, in the old Academy, under the tuition of 
Jonah Kogers, Thomas Patterson, Charles C. Curtis, 
and Thomas Sweet, as well as a pretty good develop- 
ment of body and frame from the field lessons on 
Shawnee Flats, went through a classical course of 
study, and severally became members of the Luzerne 
county bar. With what degree of success, however, 
it does not become me to speak. My readers, how- 
ever, will pardon me in saying of my younger brother, 
Harrison, now deceased some fifteen years, that a 
more profound lawyer and jurist, or an abler or more 
eloquent advocate, never practised law in the courts 
of the county of Luzerne. He died in the meridian 
of life, and with the most brilliant prospects of an 
eminent professional career before him. 

While my father professed to belong to the old 
Federal school in politics, and was a regular reader 
of the United States Gazette, so long as Mr. Chand- 
ler continued to edit that paper, he did not have any- 



JOSEPH WRIGHT. 413 

tiling to do, ordinarily, with jiarty aftairs. He would 
generally make his own selections from both party 
tickets at the polls, and seldom voted what is called a 
" straight ticket." He was, however, a great admirer 
of Henry Clay, and whenever the name of this great 
statesman came before the peoj)le, then his energies 
knew no bounds. In fact all of the old party men of 
the Federal, or in later days the Whig school, were 
wonderfully attached to Mr. Clay. They would 
make any reasonable sacrifice for his advancement, 
and I have seen many of his old friends and sup- 
porters shed tears over his defeat. He was literally 
the idol of his party, and a more noble and gallant 
political leader never occupied the commanding posi- 
tion of party ranks. The unkindest remark I ever 
had from my father, came from him in consequence 
of some strictures I had made upon Mr. Clay, in a 
speech, advocating Mr. Polk's election, in 1844. He 
remarked to me, "that he blushed to be the father of 
a son who had not the independence of character to 
sustain such a man as Henry Clay, in preference to a 
man of the talents and statesmanship of James K. 
Polk ! That no personal benefit could arise to me, if 
he should by scheming strategy and deception mis- 
lead the public mind, and secure the election; of 
which, in his judgment, there was not the remotest 
chance." 

This language was expressed with much energy 
and deep feeling, and months elapsed before the 



414 HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

impression wore away from the old gentleman's mind. 
Mr. Polk, however, was elected, and as events turned 
out, there was a strange reality in the prophecy; for 
notwithstanding I had been the presiding officer of 
the boisterous and stormy convention which gave him 
the nomination at Baltimore, and participated in all 
the preliminary movements which terminated in his 
nomination and subsequent success, I was unable to 
control the appointment of a ten-dollar postmaster, 
in this district, during his administration of the gov- 
ernment. 

Meeting, therefore, with this rebuff, after the 
important relations between him and myself, I must 
confess that my mind would go back to the expres- 
sions made by my father. For I never did know, and 
do not now know, the cause of Mr. Polk's turning a 
deaf ear to every suggestion I made to him on the 
subject of local patronage. A third of a century has 
however elapsed, and it is now a matter of exceed- 
ingly small moment. 

My father had a wonderful passion for the 
drama, and particularly in the representation of the 
plays of Henry IV., and the Merry Wives of Wind- 
sor, in the character of Falstaff. The humor of these 
plays seemed to have filled full the cup of his enjoy- 
ment. In his early days he was in the habit of visit- 
ing Philadelphia two or three times a year to pur- 
chase the goods for his store. He would attend faith- 
fully to the work of the day, but would always go to 



JOSEPH WRIGHT. 415 

tile theatre at night, if" any play was posted that 
pleased him. I have heard him say " that if he 
were in Philadelphia with hut two dollars in his 
pocket, he would spend one of them at the theatre." 

This, in fact, was about the only thing in which 
he was extravagant, and the expenditure of a dollar 
for any thing else not absolutely necessary, very sel- 
dom occurred. 

Hospitable in his house, moderately indulgent 
only to his children, economical in his apparel, 
though always dressed neatly and becomingly, when 
not engaged in labor, he may be classed as a man of 
the strictest economy, and governed by the most rigid 
rules of frugality; not parsimonious, Imt prudent and 
close in his management. To all this, however, he 
made one grand exception in the expenditures, for a 
man -considering his means and habits of life, in the 
education of his sons. In this he was liberal to a 
fault. The ruling and absorbing passion of his early 
life to become rich, became merged in the nobler and 
more exalted sentiment of education, and in that 
moving idea he was most generously seconded by my 
mother. On that topic they acted in perfect accord, 
as well as to the full and perfect accomplishment of 
their purpose. Through years of toil and personal 
privations they accomplished the object nearest their 
hearts. And it affords me much satisfaction to re- 
cord the fact, that neither of them ever expressed a 
regret for these sacrifices they assumed. 
26 



416 HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

Although sectarian in his Quaker creed, the spirit 
of universal toleration in matters of religion never 
more eminently shone out in the character of any 
man. His doors were always open to the visiting 
clergy, and tliey were profusely entertained with the 
best his house afforded. To those of them who were 
poor and needy, he was liberal. They did not go 
away without carrying with them some evidence of 
his generosity. 

He was temperate in all things — in his tastes, in 
his language, and all his habits. I never saw him 
under the slightest influence of liq[uor ; nor did I 
ever hear a profane or irreverent expression escape 
from his lips. 

During the last few years of his life, though in 
very easy, if not to say affluent circumstances, he 
would not permit himself to be idle. If he did not 
take a farming implement in his hands, he would nev- 
ertheless spend most of the day in the field, and if a 
necessity arose, would cheerfully give his aid and 
assistance. 

In the fulfilment of his engagements he was exact, 
and up to the hour. No man ever had more horror 
of debt. In the settlement of his estate, and it was a 
large one, the whole amount of his indebtedness, of 
liis own contracting, did not amount to ten dollars. 
He avoided the law; and would incur the loss of a 
small debt sooner than prosecute the claim. He would 
Bay to his debtors who had disappointed him, "you 



JOSEPH WEIGHT. 417 

liave deceived me, but I shall take care that you do 
not have another opportunity." In his business trans- 
actions of half a century, and they were large, I know 
that an action of law was never instituted against 
him; nor do I remember of an encumbrance of judg- 
ment or mortgage entered against him, or of a suit 
brought by him. He bought and he paid — and he 
never bought till he had the means to pay. 

He was literally a peace-maker among his neigh- 
bors. Frequently called upon to act as umpire in 
neighborhood disputes and difficulties, he would most 
generally reconcile the conflicting opinions of the par- 
ties who sought his advice and counsel. Understand- 
ing the whims, caprices, and peculiarities of the people 
before him, and knowing how to humor and when to 
use argument, his strong and well-adjusted mind gen- 
erally terminated the controversy. I have seen neigh- 
bors thus before him, who would refuse to speak to 
each other civilly when they came, shake hands before 
they left, and go away apparently the best of friends. 
He would frequently bring these people in his pres- 
ence by strategy, and after he had healed up the open 
wound of dispute, and reconciled them to each other, 
he would tell them how they had been brought face 
to face, and for what purpose; and then they would 
all laugh, and after emptying a mug of cider, all part 
in merry glee. His judgment fee would generally be 
"a big apple!" I have seen the parties litigant, on 
more than one occasion, in the way of carrying out 



418 HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF PLYMOUTH. 

tlie joke, come afterward and make a formal tender of 
"the big apple," and demand "a receipt in full of 
the taxable cost of the case." 

The Danes have a law, that is in force in their 
West India possessions, and probably also with the 
home government, that no suitor shall be permitted 
to bring his case into coutr, till he has first made an 
effort to settle the matter of dispute with his adver- 
sary before a mutual friend or umpire. Might we 
not improve our own jurisprudence by engrafting this 
Danish law upon a limb of our legal tree ? 

And so, in a few paragraphs, I have sketched the 
outlines merely of a moral, industrious, upright, and 
exemplary man : 

" For even Ms failings lean'd to virtue's side." 

The last acts of his life were in keeping with his 
previous conduct. But a few days before his death, 
and when it was manifest that the end was near at 
hand, some one at his bedside inquired if he would 
have a minister, in view of religious services .^ He 
said, " No; I am not aware that I ever did a human 
creature a wrong, and I have, therefore, no confession 
to make; and as to the future, I have an abiding and 
firm faith in the creed of my fathers. Death has no 
terrors to me. I rather consider him my friend." 
And under this state of mind he entered the spirit 
world. 

The expressions are fresh in my memory, and so 



JOSEPH WRIGHT. 419 

they will he while it exists; and I have thought a 
tliousand times how happy a man I should be, if it 
were in my power, to truthfully utter such a sentiment, 
in my own case. 

He died on the fourteenth day of August, 1855, 
in his seventy-first year. His remains rest in the 
Hollenback Cemetery, in the city of Wilkes-Barre. 



THE END. 



F 



'^J 



J 9 



STK F159.P7W9 

Wright. Hendrick Bradley, 

Historical sketches of Plymouth, Luzerne 

Vm/,,.? .Scranton/Alumni Meii. Lib. 



3M7 DDD71S53 S 



Y