« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »
line to the utmost extent of the said day and a half's journey, and from thence to the aforesaid River Delaware, and from thence down the Several Courses of the said River to the first mentioned Spruce Tree."
From the date of this instrument to the actual walk twenty-four days intervened. Penn published a notice and offered 500 acres of land and £5 in money to the man who could walk the farthest. Of many applicants three men, Edward Marshall, Solomon Jennings and James Yates were selected to walk. The Indians were invited to have young men to go with the walkers and see that all was fair.
Twenty years after the " walk" the British government closely investigated the transaction in its attempt to ferret out the cause of the preceding Indian wars that had been so destructive to the colony. It was well understood that one of the leading causes of Indian outhreaks was this same "Walking Purchase" and therefore the authorities felt called upon to make a thorough investigation. As parties present and knowing about it the following persons were summoned before the board and gave testimony: Edward Marshall (the man who walked the day and a half, distancing the other two, but who never got his reward of the promised 500 acres of land), Timothy Smith, Alexander Brown, Nicholas Scull, Benjamin Eastburn, John Heider, Ephraim Goodman, Joseph Knowles, Thomas Purniss and James Steele. Their several accounts of the affair were taken down and are of record.
Early Monday morning, September 19, 1737, an interesting group of men assembled at the starting point on the Durham road, near a large chestnut tree at the corner of John Chapman's land, a few rods from Wrightstown meeting house in Bucks county. Timothy Smith, sheriff, had charge of the walk in Penn's interest. The Indians had three of their young men present to go with the walkers. The trained racers, for that is what it turned out to be, started at exactly 6 o'clock in the forenoon. Smith had sent in advance on horseback ample provisions and every comfort for the walkers. Instead of going along up the river as the Indians understood to be the contract, the walkers followed a blazed route striking straight north-northwest, and so palpable was the cheat that by noon of the first day the Indians denounced it all and ceased to take any further interest in it. The walkers pushed each other to the utmost degree; one would forge ahead and then the others would run to catch up, and so hard was the struggle that before noon Jennings gave out and retired leaving Marshall and Yates. Keeping this due northwest course until fifteen minutes past 6 o'clock in the evening as the* first day's walk; the last fifteen minutes in a hard run, so much be that the men were completely blown. The Indians had left in disgust long before nightfall. The next morning at 8 o'clock the race again commenced, pushing rapidly in the same course. In a few hours Yates gave completely out and Marshall alone continued the long run. At 2 o'clock in the afternoon the eighteen hours was up and the walk ended, at a point on the Pocono mountain. From this point the proprietary at his leisure ran a direct line in a northeast direction to the Delaware river. The line of the walk may now be described as commencing on the Chapman farm, on the Durham road in Wrightstown, or rather on the line between Wrightstown and Newtown township line. By way of parenthesis it may be here mentioned that there was always much confusion as to the real starting point. And it is said that in this matter Penn gained fully a mile in the matter of the agreed starting point. The walkers then passed where is now Centerville, Pipersville, Bucksville, Springtown, crossing the Lehigh river just below Bethlehem, through the Lehigh Water Gap and crossing the river near Mauch Chunk (where Yates gave out). Marshall proceeded about four and a half miles on Broad or Second mountain, where it terminated.
The Indians realized before the first day's walk was over that it was the intention to take from them the rich and coveted lands in the forks of the Delaware and Lehigh rivers, occupied by Nutimus and his tribe. And they protested vigorously but in vain. The end was Nutimus and his tribe were compelled to move to Nescopeck and give up their cherished home and hunting grounds. The Indians in their exasperation over the loss of their land in the rich Ninnisink country from protests proceeded to outhreaks and murders of the settlers, and the flames of war soon followed. While it perhaps can not be said that the Walk Purchase was the sole cause of what followed, yet there can be little doubt that it was one of the powerful incentives thereto.
The Last Indian Massacre in this county occurred July 8, 1782. The Jamesons, Aldens and Hurlbuts, after the battle in which Robert Jameson had been killed, fled to old Hanover, in Lancaster county. John Jameson with his brothers, Alexander and Joseph, and mother, who carried her child Samuel in her arms all the way to Sunbury. Soon after the families were safely landed at Fort Augusta (Sunbury), John Jameson returned to look after the farm and household and effects, The families did not return until 1780.
July 8, 1782, John Jameson, with his youngest brother, Benjamin, and a neighbor, Asa Chapman, started from their homes in Hanover township to WilkesBarre, on horseback. Approaching open ground near the church in "Hanover Green," John Jameson noticed Indians ambushed, and exclaimed, "Indians!" and was instantly shot from his horse, three balls striking him. His horse with empty saddle fled, and Jameson was found where he fell, tomahawked and scalped. Asa Chapman and horse were both wounded; but the horse turned and carried his rider home, where he died in a few days. Benjamin's horse wheeled at first fire, and carried him safely away. John Jameson was at the time thirty-three years old. He had married Abigail Alden, a descendant of John Alden, who came with the Pilgrims in 1620 to Plymouth, Mass. This first John Alden married Priscilla Mullins or Molines, in 1623. This is the girl that Miles Standish sent his friend John Alden, to propose marriage. Capt. Standish was a widower. The father of the girl called her in, and bade Alden tell her his mission. He told her that Capt. Miles Standish wanted her for a wife. The blushing maiden listened to the story, and then very sensibly said: "Prithee, John, why do you not speak for yourself?" The result is known to the world. Priscilla and John were duly married.
LUZERNE COUNTY CREATED.
Witchcraft — Westmoreland Town Erected—Interesting Items From The Records — Townships Within The Town — Prices Regulated By Law — Punishment Of Evil Doers — Oldest Land Records — County Created — Courts And Lawyers — Resident Attorneys—O FficiAls—Centennial, Etc.
THE preceding chapter tells of the first attempted settlement by the Connecticut people in ]762, and then the first three years of the struggle for the possession of the soil of this locality that ended in 1771, leaving the Yankees in possession, and they turned their attention to opening little farms, building new forts and strengthening old ones; and the commencement of that herculean work of making this the fitting place for the wealth, comforts and civilization that we now see about us on every hand. There had passed nine years, almost every hour crowded with important events — nine years of blood and flame, of massacres, battles, the swarming home-seekers and the dreary exodus through the "Shades of Death " — as was called the way through the wilderness back to the Delaware river. Nine years of bloody lawlessness — no schools, churches or law—save that of common defence against formidable outside enemies. It was an era of terrible education — the shorn lambs exposed to the untempered winter winds. These people, it must not be forgotten, were the immediate descendants of the superstitious of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries — the time of witch burners and when charms and spooks and spells were playing fantastic tricks in nearly every household. Our fathers believed in witches; that the earth was flat; a hell of fire and brimstone, and a literal seven days' creation. They were fresh from a race full of the wildest and crudest superstitions. Pennsylvania at one time recognized as in full force and effect the British laws against witchcraft, as well as all those cruel laws administered by the old Bailey court, where human life was so cheap, and property was the one precious thing in the world.
The records show that two Swedish women, Margaret Mattson and Yethro Hendrickson, were accused before Gov. Peun as being witches. Several witnesses testified respecting the strange conduct of certain cows, geese, hogs, etc., but, luckily, the court thought this was not enough direct evidence to convict the women. The jury returned a verdict: "They have the common fame of witches, but not guilty in the manner and form of the indictment." The governor, however, required security of them for their good behavior the next six months. This was once Northampton or a part of that county. A number of persons were arrested and imprisoned as witches. Luckily, none were executed, as was common in New England.
In what is now Luzerne county, the people hardly had time, from other and more serious foes, to war much on witch women. But many poor old women here
"had the fame of witchcraft." Stewart Pearce, in his Annals, says: "Mrs. J ,
at W , bewitched the cattle of Mr. , and several died, in spite of the efforts
of Titus, an old negro witch doctor. For several days Titus labored, using the ordinary remedies, one of which was a gun-barrel filled with a particular kind of liquid. But no effect was produced upon the witch, who continued, contrary to expectation, to exercise all her bodily functions. At length, a fine ox was taken sick, when a new remedy was applied to break the spell. Miller, the sexton of the old church on the public square, taking the church key, approached the ox, and, putting it in the animal's mouth, turned it about three times, repeating certain spell-breaking words known only to himself. The power of the witch was destroyed, and the ox recovered.
Mrs. H , near Tunkhannock, frequently bewitched the hunters' guns, to
remedy which a bullet was fired, from a gun not affected by any spell, into the body of a tree. So soon as the bullet became covered by the growth of the wood, the witch would be seized by severe pain in certain parts of her body, from which she would find no relief until she removed the spell from the gun.
Mrs. , in the village of P , bewitched the cows and hogs of Mr. .
The cows twisted their tails upon their backs, threw up the earth with their feet, bellowed, and ran their hind legs up the trunks of trees. The pigs squealed night
and day, frothed at the mouth, rolled over, and turned summersaults. Mr.
and his wife were in a state of consternation, expecting they themselves would be seized with similar impulses for ground and lofty tumbling. Fortunately, a celebrated German witch doctor arrived. Taking a gun barrel, he filled it with, a certain saline fluid, plugged up the muzzle and touch-hole, and placed it in the chimney corner. In a short time the husband of the witch came to the house, saying his
wife was taken suddenly ill. and requesting Mrs. to come and see her; but
the request was not complied with, at the instance of the doctor, who represented that the effect of his remedy would be counteracted if the desire of the witch were granted. The next day the witch sent again, urging the attendance of Mrs. ,
who again refused to visit her. The husband then placed his wife, the witch, in a wagon and conveyed her to the house of Mr. , where she confessed she had bewitched his cattle, and implored the doctor to unstop the gun-barrel. This he did, and, as soon as the saline fluid began to flow from the muzzle, the witch was relieved, and the cows and hogs were cured.
In 1772 the people were emerging from their severe conditions slowly, but mostly living in stockades. Charles Miner says the huts of Capt. Butler and Nathan Denison were adjoining each other, then came Mathias Hollenback's, the first man who brought merchandise to sell. Dr. Joseph Sprague opened the first boarding house. A samp mortar was used to pound grain for bread. Venison and shad were plenty, but salt was scarce. Dr. Sprague would load a horse and go two miles on the Delaware, at Coshutuuk. Neither a chair, table nor bedstead was in the settlement except such as were made by the auger and axe. John Carey, who gave his name to Carey town, died in 1841, the last survivor of these people.
The Indians had left the valley after the massacre of 1763, and were seen hereafter only as marauding parties and small remnants of scattered tribes. A few friendly ones lived a mile above Mill creek.
From the stockade the people, breakfasting early, taking with them a luncheon, went forth armed to their daily labor. The view here presented, with slight variations, was exhibited in four or five different places in the valley. Stockades or blockhouses were built in Hanover and Plymouth. The celebrated Forty fort in Kingston was occupied. Many returned to the east for their families, and new settlers came in. It was a season rather of activity than labor—moving and removing; surveying; drawing lots for land rights; preparing for building; hastily clearing up patches to sow with winter grain, the sad consequence of which was the harvests of autumn were not sufficient for the considerably augmented number of inhabitants. Until the conclusion of 1772 very little of the forms of law or the regulations of civil government had been introduced or required. Town committees exercised the power of deciding on contested land rights
Thus: "Doings of the committee, May 22, 1772.
"That Roswell Franklin have that right in Wilkes-Barre drawn by Thomas Stevens.
"That James Bidlack have that right in Plymouth drawn by Nathaniel Drake.
"That Mr. McDowell be voted into the Forty town (Kingston).
"That for the special services done this company by Col. Dyer, agreed that his son, Thomas Dyer, shall have a right in the Forty, if he has a man on it by the first day of August next.
"That the rights that are sold in the six mile township, or Capouse, shall be sold at $60 each, and bonds taken," etc.
It may be regarded as a transition year, full of undefined pleasure, flowing from the newness and freshness of the scene—a comparative sense of peace and security. The year happily passed without " justice or lawyers."
The year 1773 was remarked as one when, from the influx of new settlers, provisions ran short and hunger threatened. Five persons were selected to go to the Delaware for provisions, a distance of fifty miles, and had to cross the Lehigh river. Ice was floating in the river; they stripped and swam across. These men on their shoulders carried back each 100 pounds of supplies. The opening of the shad season was looked forward to with great hopes, and they were not disappointed.
The spring, too, was attended with sickness. Several deaths took place. Capt. Butler buried a son named Zebulon; and soon after his wife followed her boy to the grave. Both were interred on the hill, near where the upper street of the borough is cut through the rocks, as it passes from the main street to the canal basin. This picture of the early settlement, simple in its details, we could not doubt, would be agreeable to numbers now living, and not less so to readers in future years, when the valley shall become, as it is destined to be, rich and populous, not surpassed, if equaled in the Union.
Among the first objects of general interest was the erection of a gristmill. This was undertaken by Nathan Chapman, to whom a grant was made of the site where Hollenback's old mill now stands, near the stone bridge on the road from WilkesBarre to Pittston. Forty acres of land were part of the donation. Mr. Hollenback brought the'mill irons in his boat from Wright's ferry, and the voyage was rendered memorable by the loss of Lazarus Young, a valuable young man, who was drowned on the way up.
Immediately afterward the town voted: "To give unto Capt. Stephen Fuller, Obadiah Gore, Jr., and Mr. Seth Marvin all the privileges of the stream called Mill creek, below Mr. Chapman's mill, to be their own property, with full liberty of building mills and flowing a pond, but so as not to obstruct or hinder Chapman's mills: Provided they will have a sawmill ready to go by the 1st day of November, 1773, which gift shall be to them, their heirs and assigns, forever." And this was the first sawmill erected on the upper waters of the Susquehanna.
The township of Wilkes-Barre had been surveyed in 1770 by David Meade, and received its name from John Wilkes and Col. Barre, members of parliament, and distinguished advocates for liberty and the rights of the colonies. "Wilkes and Liberty—North Britain—45," was then heard from every tongue. A final division was now made of the back lots among the proprietors. The town plot, now the borough, was laid out by a liberal forecast on a very handsome scale. On a high flat, on the east bank of the Susquehanna, above all fear of inundation, the position was chosen. Two hundred acres were divided into eight squares of twenty-five acres, and these into six lots each, containing, after the streets were taken off, about three and three-quarters of an acre. A spacious square was allotted for public buildings.
Main street was laid off to run in the general course of the river, northerly and southerly, two miles long, and was crossed by five streets at right angles. Two ferries were kept up, at Mill creek and at the foot of Northampton street. This point on Mill creek is now just beyond the northern limits of the city.
Prior to the coming of the first settlers here distilleries had been erected on the lower Susquehanna. This circumstance had an important bearing on the movements of the people of what is now Luzerne county. The rich valley produced with slight labor an abundance of corn. One man who came to northern Pennsylvania on horseback alone had traveled in the wilderness until finally he came to a " windfall." The storm had blown down the forest over several acres, and here he alighted, built a pen large enough to sleep in, one end opened probably to allow his feet extended to his full length. He had seed corn in his saddle-bags, and the only agricultural implement he had was a shoe hammer. With this he planted his corn, and in the fall gathered forty bushels.
As soon as the people here were left alone they commenced planting and sowing. The distillers from the lower district came as corn buyers and shipped in rafts and arks. This suggested the building distilleries here, which was promptly put in execution. There was probably not a settlement in all Pennsylvania but that one of the first public institutions was a distillery, and soon nearly every farm had one. Reading an ancient '' for sale" of a farm, and as a special inducement to purchasers, it was mentioned that there were "two distilleries on the place." The first merchant here was Mathias Hollenback, and from his account book of 1773 is taken the following entries:
One quart of whisky, SI.50; 2 quarts of apple brandy, $3.33^; 1 nip of toddy, 8 cents; 1 quart of rum, 411 cents; J sling, 8 cents; 1 egg-nog, 22 cents; 2 bowls of toddy, 50 cents; 1 bowl of sangaree, 47 cents; 1 gill of rum, 6 cents; 1 dram, 6 cents; 2 yards of tobacco, 4 cents; 1 bushel of wheat, 83^ cents; 1 elk skin, $4; 1 pound