Gambar halaman
PDF
ePub

paintings and altar decorations. They joined the church in platoons and communities—with no more real ideas of what it meant than a cage of monkeys. A petrified savagery, nor its posterity, is ever converted to the higher civilization or its religious systems. You may cover his savage body with the outward forms and ceremonies, but it is only a thin veneer at best; beneath is the savage still, and he transmits it to his children's children. After 200 years of contact with the best civilization, the "Voodoo" and the "rabbit's foot" possess much the same charms in America as in Africa. In the Sandwich Islands for one hundred years the entire population are in outward forms and ceremonies members of the church, yet every one in every journey or emergency has hid away within easy reach the same savage idols that his fathers worshiped. They simply grafted onto their fetich worship the symbols of Christianity.

Conrad Weiser passed up the river and was here in the early spring of 1737. He was fitted by nature to mingle with these woods children, and lead them away from cannibalism and to the milder precepts of the Christian religion. He stood in this beautiful valley with the cross in one hand and the word of God in the other, the representative of the church and the Prince of Peace. He was on his way to the Onondaga Indian council, and stopped at the Indian villages and mingled with the natives. He spent a night at the wigwams where were Indians in what is now the southern part of Wilkes-Barre. He made notes of his observations of the people and the country over which he traveled. In 1743 John Bartram, an Englishman, passed, in company with Conrad Weiser, up the river, following much the same route that Weiser had previously traveled. He was a botanist, and his brief description of this portion of the State is what he designated as the "terrible Lycoming wilderness." Two years later Spaugenberger and Zeisberger, Moravian missionaries, visited the country and were here in June of that year. In 1755 Lewis Evans published a crude map of this portion of the country, and called it the "Middle British Colonies." The Moravians had established headquarters of their order at Bethlehem. Another branch of the order had settled at the confluence of the Lehigh river and the Mahony, opposite Fort Allen, which place was called Gnadeuhntten or "Huts of Mercy." Except the erection of the fort, this was the first white settlement in this portion of the State above the Blue mountains—about forty miles from Wilkes-Barre.

The tremendous struggle between the English and French for the possession of this beautiful land commenced as early as 1603. France granted charters to a large portion of the country from the northern Canadas to the mouth of the Mis sissippi river, and commenced systematic settlements. In 1605, two years later, England commenced a similar system, granting charters and making settlements. The French built forts, rather a system of fortifications, to overawe and expel the daring English, that commenced at Quebec, followed the St. Lawrence, the lakes to«Detroit, along the Ohio to the Mississippi and its mouth. They won the friendship of the savages from the British. For the next fifty years matters were shaping themselves in many directions that culminated in the Franco-Indian war. In July, 1755, our northern frontier flamed out in war. In terrible fury the savages poured down upon the frontiers and along the lower Susquehanna over the scattered, defenseless settlers.

In 1763 the most notable conspiracy of the Indian tribes ever formed broke upon the country as the Pontiac war. This remarkable chief had traveled among all the tribes and formed the conspiracy to drive all the whites from the country or extirpate them.

The first savage blow to what was then the nearest settlement to this place was at old Shamokin (Fort Augusta, now Sunbury), where the Moravians had gathered a small settlement. The missionaries were spared, but fourteen white persons were brutally massacred. This was soon after Braddock's defeat in 1754. The next year, in 1755, Guadenhutten was visited by the savages, and attacked at night, the men murdered as fast as found, and the women and children sought refuge in the upper rooms of the house with barred doors, when the house was fired and eleven persons, including young children, perished in- the flames. Two of the brothers had escaped by jumping from a back window. This settlement was again attacked in 1756 on New Year's day, many killed and all improvements burned and destroyed.

England declared war against France in 1756. A great council was held at Easton, November 8, 1756. At this gathering appeared the noted Indian, Teedeuscung, who had gone from what is now Luzerne county. He spoke for the Indians; told why they had changed their friendship from the English to the French; chief among which was the deception practiced upon them in the "walking purchase." This purchase was quite a Yankee sharp trade according to Chief Teedeuscung. It provided the sale of land as far as a man could walk "in a day and a half," from Neshomony creek. He claimed that the man ran all the way, and did not even go in the intended direction, etc. The war between England and France continued until 1763, when France yielded all the. northern portion of the continent to England.

In 1762 arrived the first Connecticut settlers. The first real immigrants who came to make homes and till the soil, just who they were, how many and where in points in that State they came from, is not fully known. They made small clearings, sowed and planted grain and returned for their families, and came here the next spring, bringing probably their worldly possessions. They settled near the Indian village of Maughwawame (Wyoming), in the flats below Wilkes-Barre, but nearer the river than the Indians. 'the season had been favorable, and the wheat sown the previous fall had grown well. October 15, following, the settlement was attacked without warning by the savages. About twenty of the men were killed and scalped; the residue men, women and children fled to the mountains.

The Pennsylvania Gazette of November, 1763 published the following extract from a letter sent from Lancaster county, dated October 23: "Our party, under Capt. Clayton, has returned from Wyoming, where they met with no Indians, but found the New Englanders who had been killed and scalped a day or two before they got there. They buried the dead, nine men and a woman, who had been cruelly butchered—the woman was roasted. * * * They burnt what houses the Indians had left, and destroyed a quantity of Indian corn. The enemy's tracks were up the river toward Wighaloasing." (Wyalusing.)

As the Indians started up the river after the massacre, they came upon John and Emanuel Hoover, building a chimney to a cabin on the flats, and made prisoners of them. They already had another white man prisoner. The prisoners were taken to where is Geneva, where John Hoover and the other prisoners (name not known), attempted an escape. The latter, it is said, succeeded in making his way to Shamokin. John Hoover's remains were afterward found in the woods where, he had perished.

Col. Stone, in his history of Wyoming, gives a graphic account of the narrow escape and suffering of Noah Hopkins, a wealthy man from Dutchess county, N. Y., who had come to the valley as a purchaser of lands of the Susquehanna company. After capturing the Hoovers the Indians pursued him, but he hid in a hollow log, the account says, and after remaining there as long as nature could endure, and darkness had come, he carefully ventured out, and began his wandering in the wilderness. Five days after the massacre he carefully stole to the place of the settlement, and says: "All was desolation there; crops destroyed, cattle gone, and the smouldering ruins of cabins were the only things visible. * * The stillness of death prevailed." The man was nearly famished. He found, he says, the carcass of a turkey that had been killed and left. This he devoured raw. After wandering many days and surviving incredible hardships, he found his way at last to the white settlement.

This visitation of horrors upon the first settlers, it was said and for a time believed, but is not now, was inflicted by the Delaware Indians upon the whites, as revenge for the killing of Chief Teedenscung. The truth seems to be that it was the work of the Six Nations and not the Delawares at all, and was a part of their policy to exterminate or drive off the whites from the Susquehanna.

It is stated above on the authority of Charles Miner, that it is not known who the settlers were, that is their names, who had returned here in 1763, and were the settlement when the massacre occurred. However, Stewart Pearce, in his "Annals of Luzerne County," published in 1866, gives fifty-eight names of the 117 persons who settled in Wyoming in 1763, as follows: John Jenkins, John Comstock, Ephraim Seely, William Buck, Oliver Jewell, Oliver Smith, David Honeywell, Ezra Dean, Jonathan Weeks Jr., Obadiah Gore, Ezekiel Pierce, Philip Weeks, Daniel Gore, Elkana Fuller, Wright Stevens, Isaac Underwood, Benjamin Ashley, Gideon Lawrence, Isaac Bennett, Stephen Lee, Silas Parker, James Atherton, Moses Kimball, Ebeuezer Searles, Timothy Hollister, Nathaniel Terry, Ephraim Tyler, Timothy Hollister Jr., Wright Smith, Ephraim Tyler Jr., Isaac Hollister Jr., Nathaniel Chapman, John Dorrance, Thomas Marsh, Rev. William Marsh, Timothy Smith, Mathew Smith, Jonathan Slocum, Benjamin Davis, Benjamin Follett, George Miner, Nathaniel Hollister, Benjamin Shoemaker, Nathaniel Hurlbut, Simeon Draper, Samuel Richards, John Smith, Daniel Baldwin, Stephen Gardner, Eliphalet Stephens, David Marvin, Augustus Hunt, Pascall Terry, William Stephens and Thomas Beunett.

The following were killed in the massacre of October 15, 1763. Rev. William Marsh. Thomas Marsh, Timothy Hollister, Timothy Hollister, Jr., Nathan Terry, Wright Smith, Daniel Baldwin and wife; Jesse Wiggins. Zeruah Whitney, Isaac Hollister.

Mr. Shepherd and a son of Daniel Baldwin were taken prisoners.

The conditions of the frontier now became alarming. The marauders of the savages became more daring, bloody and frequent. The people began to believe that the Quakers and peaceful Moravians shielded if not actually protected the murderers. The authorities of Philadelphia looked with continued leniencey upon the conduct of the Indians. Lazarus Stewart, an officer in the English forces, a young man of high character and noble courage, had been west on a military expedition and hastening his return to meet his affianced and marry her, found the family home in smoking ruins, the family butchered, and the lovely girl's head had been severed and stuck on a pole. The tiger was now roused and he swore a terrible vengeance, and from that moment woe betide the red man on whose tracks he once commenced the trail. On one occasion he took his Rangers and went to Philadelphia where a murderer was safe behind the prison walls, really protected against the vengeance of the Rangers and by force dragged the wretch out and slew him. Stewart glutted his vengeance; treating with contempt the efforts of the proprietaries to stay his uplifted hand or to shield the savage. December 14, 1763, he attacked and destroyed the Indian village of Conestoga. Such of the Indians as escaped fled to Philadelphia and were received by the authorities. It was one of these fugitives that Stewart and his men followed and killed. The governor offered a reward of £200 for the arrest of Stewart, and the assembly passed a law that any person accused of killing an Indian should not be tried at the place of murder, but carried to Philadelphia for trial.

This part of the story is told and told with ever increasing variations. Lazarus Stewart was, and no doubt would have been under any circumstances, a daring and rash leader, but under the circumstances he was more than all this—secretly or openly, by day or by night, he was a very sleuth hound on the tracks of the savages and he knew neither mercy nor pity. Possibly there may have been little foundat ion for this bloody romance in Stewart's life. It was an old-time story, and, if all true, it seems that he outlived it to some extent, because in the Wyoming battle his son

[graphic][subsumed][subsumed]

for their defense, should their title and proceedings be disputed. The party of forty from Connecticut pressed close upon the heels of Stewart and Ogden, and sat down before their little garrison on the 8th of February. It was a close investment, all intercourse between the besieged and their friends, if they had any, in the surrounding country, being cut off.

As already stated Lazarus Stewart in 1769 went to Connecticut and entered into negotiations with the Susquehanna company. He and his followers were granted Hanover township, provided they would settle on and defend the same.

On the 1st of January, 1770, Stewart at the head of forty of his men and ten New Englanders entered what is now Luzerne county, coming direct to Wyoming and captured Ogden and Jenning's garrison that had been left at Fort Durkee.

Ogden was then sent with a force from Philadelphia and again took possession of his fort at Mill creek. The Yankees were driven out and forced to retreat back to the Delaware river. Stewart was then joined by Maj. John Durkee, who had been released from prison, and they marched against Ogden and compelled him to surrender, drove him from the valley and burned his block-house. One man was killed in the encounter. Stewart and his men then took possession of Hanover township and proceeded to clear the land, improve and plant the soil.

On June 28 Governor Penn issued a proclamation forbidding settlements under Connecticut, and offering a reward of £300 for the apprehension of Lazarus Stewart, Zebulon Butler and Lazarus Young, three persons against whom the governor's ire was especially excited. About the last of August, Stewart and his men left Wyoming for Paxton, purposing to return in November with their families. In September, during Stewart's absence, Ogden entered the valley with a large force, captured several men in the field, and, storming Fort Durkee, compelled the Yankees to surrender. Capt. Butler and other leaders were sent prisoners to Philadelphia, and the rest were forced, with women and children, to return on foot to New England. A few days before this event, Stewart was arrested by a posse in Lebanon, under the proclamation of the governor, but, seizing an axe handle, he knocked down the constable and one or two of his aids, and forced his way into the street. The town was in an uproar; the authorities called on the people to aid in his arrest, but they refused. At this juncture Stewart's comrades, who had heard of his danger, rode impetuously into the village, and bore away their leader in triumph. About the last of October following, Stewart crossed the Susquehanna with a span of horses, at Wright's Ferry, into York county, where he was going on business. He was immediately arrested by the sheriff of York and his posse, and thrown into the county prison. Fearful of a rescue, he was hurried away, pinioned and handcuffed, early the next morning, to be carried to Philadelphia, to answer for his offeuce in acting against his native State in favor of the Connecticut settlers. He was in charge of the sheriff, accompanied by three assistants. No sooner had the "Paxton Boys" heard of his arrest, than they proceeded in great haste to York, but they arrived too late. The sheriff was one day in advance of them with his charge. They, the prisoner and escort, tarried for the night at Finley's, many miles on the road toward the city. The night was cold, and the three guards, with Stewart, lay down before a large fire in the bar-room, the prisoner being fastened to one of the men, to prevent his escape. The sheriff slept in an adjoining room, dreaming, doubtless, of his success, and his reception at Philadelphia with a captive whom Governor Penn had declared to be the most dangerous man in the province. But Stewart was wide awake. At the dead of night he cautiously unloosed the rope which bound him to the snoring guard, and, with noiseless tread, made his way, unobserved, into the open air. Handcuffed, and without coat, hat or shoes, he traveled through the woods and unfrequented thickets to Paxton, where he .^arrived on the following day. His presence brought great joy to his sorrowing wife and children, and exultation to his Rangers.

« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »