Photos by Joyce M. Tice
Retyped for Tri-Counties by Anne PRATT Slatin
(Joyce's Third Cousin)
Many thanks to the Tri-Counties guest who sent this book to Joyce and who wishes to remain anonymous.
HABITS AND AMUSEMENTS
AMONG the ablest and most active promoters of the colony was John Keating, an Irishman, but whose ancestors were English Catholics who emigrated to Ireland on account of religious persecution at the hands of Queen Elizabeth and Oliver Cromwell. In Ireland they had fought against England and had to go to France for safety. At the beginning of the Revolution, John Keating was in San Domingo, and on the breaking out of the insurrection there, came to Philadelphia with only $280 in his pocket. Like Noailles, he was attracted mainly by benevolent motives instead of a desire to speculate in land. After the abandonment of the colony at Asylum he became associated with de Noailles in a land purchases in Tennessee and also in northern Pennsylvania. Shortly after the breaking up of the colony he married Eulalie Deschampelles, the daughter of a prominent planter from San Domingo of French lineage, and resided at Philadelphia until his death at the age of ninety-six.
It is probable that no place in America ever held at one time, or in so short a time, so many persons of noble birth, or who became so distinguished afterwards. Some of them had been connected with the King's household, a few had been soldiers, and army officers; a few had been the keepers of cafés (restaurants) and stores; three belonged to the Catholic priesthood; few, if any, had belonged to the laboring class, and none had been farmers. They were mostly Parisians by birth and residence, and were accustomed to the comforts, conveniences, refinements and pleasures of the gayest and most beautiful city in the world. They knew nothing about clearing land and raising crops, nothing about the toil and hardships to which the early settlers in a new country, covered with woods, are exposed. They were to make a living by farming, but not one of them had ever been a farmer. In clearing land they did more chopping than there was any need of, chopping to an equal depth all around a tree, and have a man stand and watch which way it started to fall, and tell the chopper which way to run for safety when it fell to the ground. By chopping only on two sides, the tree would have fallen with less work, and the chopper could have told which way it would fall, or could have made it fall, usually in the direction he wanted it to fall.
In some things the French showed remarkable foresight and economy. The tar from the pitch pines (of which there were many) was extracted and sold instead of being burned up with the wood in their log heaps. The ashes from the huge fireplaces and from the log-heaps was [sic] preserved and made into pot-ash.
These Parisians did not become regardless of personal appearance after they became residents of the woods. No matter how plain the food on their tables, the ladies always came to dinner in full dress, and the men put on the best suit of clothes in their possession. Their American neighbors laughed about this, but it was entirely proper and praiseworthy. It showed respect for each other, promoted cheerfulness, and beguiled the solitude of their situation. Although strangers in a strange land, they did not forget their French gaiety. They frequently spent the evening in each other's houses with music and dancing. In summer they congregated on the hill above the town which commanded a magnificent view of the valley, and here they frequently picnicked. Judge Jonathan Stevens, who knew them well, says"
"Their amusements consisted of riding, walking,
swinging, music, (and perhaps dancing), and some times they passed their
time with cards, chess, or the back gammon [sic] board. In their manners,
they were courteous, polite, and affable. In their living they followed
their French customs. Breakfast late, on coffee, fresh meat, bread and
butter. Dinner at 4 o'clock. Drank best wine or brandy after dinner, ladies
and gentlemen who chose, drank tea in the evening. (I speak of the wealthy).
They were able to command the best of everything. One of their American
choppers, or log cutters, stated that he was directed to fall [sic] a tree
across a big stump so that when it was trimmed and the top cut off, it
would balance like a pair of scales, and make a splendid teeter. Four or
five persons could sit on each end, eight, or ten could enjoy the pleasure
at the same time. The same chopper states that several times he was sent
a mile to cut trees that obscured a perfect view up and down the river."