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.
TALLYRAND VISITS ASYLUM
IN the fall of 1795, Tallyrand visited Asylum and remained some time. Afterwards he was Napoleon Bonaparte's minister of Foreign Affairs, and became one of the ablest, shrewdest, most adroit and unscrupulous diplomatists in Europe. In 1796, Louis Philippe, Duke of Orleans, (afterwards King of France) accompanied by the Duke Montpensier, and Count Beaujolais, his brother, came to Asylum and remained there some time, the guests of his former Parisian friends. After visiting Niagara Falls and other places of interest, Louis Philippe went to Philadelphia where he remained several weeks. It is said that while there he proposed marriage to the beautiful daughter of Richard Willing, a wealthy gentleman, the President of the United States Bank. Mr. Willing told him: "In case you do not obtain your throne in France, you would not be able to support my daughter in the manner to which she has become accustomed. If you should obtain it, my daughter would not be good enough for you. You would have to put her away and marry a King's daughter."
Among the prominent residents while the colony existed, were persons of wealth, and who had held high position in France. The Marquis Leucretions de Blaçons was a deputy for Dorphine in the constituent Assembly. After leaving France he married Madam Selle de Maulde, late Canoness of the Chapter of Bonbourg. He kept a store at Asylum in partnership with Nancy Colin, formerly Abbé de Sevigny, an Archdeacon of Tours. M. Blaçcon returned to France and become a member of the National Assembly. M. Colin went to San Domingo and became a chaplain in the army of Toussaint l'Overture, whose surrender was obtained by the treachery of General LeClerc (Bonaparte's general). Colin fled to Charleston, S.C., where he died. James Montule, a French baron, was captain of a troop of horses in the King's service. At Asylum he was superintendent of the clearings. His cousin, Madam de Seybert, whose husband died in San Domingo, lived near him in the upper part of the town.
John Becdellière had a store. His partners were the brothers, Augustine and Frances de La Roue, one of whom had been in the police service in Paris, the other a captain of infantry. They both returned to France with Talleyrand before the breaking up of the colony, and one of them became his private secretary. M. Becdellière returned to France in 1803. Dr. Lawrence Buzzard, a physician, who had been a rich planter in San Domingo, came with his wife, son and daughter, and settled in Asylum. Afterwards went to Cuba, where he died. Mr. John Brevost, a native of Paris, was interested with Mr. Dulong in the settlement at Butternuts, N.Y. He removed to Asylum where he became a farmer. In January, 1801, he advertised in the "Wilkes-Barre Gazette" that he intends to open a school at Asylum for teaching the French language. The price of teaching a child between the age of ten and sixteen years will be sixty bushels of wheat per year, to be delivered at Newtown, Tioga, Asylum, or Wilkes-Barre, at the place pointed out by the subscriber - one-half every six months. His new school at Asylum proving a failure, he went to New Orleans, where his wife and daughter established a flourishing young ladies seminary. Peter Regnier was an innkeeper at Asylum, when the settlement broke up he returned to France where he remained two years. He disposed of some property he had there and transmitted a large sum of money to his partner in Philadelphia. He returned to America and found that his partner had absconded to the West Indies, taking his money with him, leaving Regnier and his family destitute. He had good pluck and did not give up in despair. In a letter to Judge Gore, he says: "However, I keep up my spirits and trust in Providence, the only hope I can rely on. I have returned to this country with the intention never to quit it again, being of the opinion there is not a better one in the world." Mr. Aubrey, a blacksmith at Asylum, went to Philadelphia for surgical aid to remove a tumor from his neck, and remained there. Mr. Beaulieu, who had been a captain in the French army, married his wife in this country and remained here, but where he resided after leaving Asylum is unknown. Madame d'Autremont's oldest son, Louis Paul, who returned to France with Talleyrand, was an able man employed in government business. He was sent on missions to Portugal and to England. He re-visited the United [States] in 1832, but returned to France, where he died. He invested considerable sums of money in real estate in this country, but investments in "wild lands" seldom prove profitable possessions.
On the breaking up of the colony at Asylum, Madame d'Autremont with her two sons, went to the Butternuts, N.Y., where they had formerly resided, and soon after removed to Angelica, N.Y., where some of her descendants still reside, (1916). Here they were joined by Victor Dupont de Nemours, an exile, who subsequently removed to Delaware, where he and his brother established the largest gun powder manufactory in the United States, which is still conducted on an immense scale by their descendants. Madame d'Autremont died at Angelica, August 29th, 1809, aged 64 years. Alexander Hubert, who married the daughter of Major Oliver Dodge, died at Angelica, August 4th, 1857. They had ten children, all of whom are dead. The other son, Augustine François Cécile, who married Sarah Ann Stewart, who also had ten children. She died in Angelica in 1840, and he in 1860. The wife of Alexander Hubert died in 1866, (January 12th).
M. Charles Bue Boulogne, who had been the very active agent of the colony at Asylum, was drowned in attempting to ford Loyal Sock Creek at Hillsgrove, July 20th, 1796, and was the first person buried there, as stated on another page.
In May, 1795, the Duke de Rochefoucauld de Liancourt, a French nobleman, visited the colony and gave a very full account of it in his "Journey of Travels in North America." At the time of his visit, he says:
"Asylum consisted of about thirty houses inhabited by families from San Domingo, and from France, by French artisans, and even by Americans. Some inns (taverns) and two shops (stores) have been established. Several town stares have been put into very good condition, and the fields and gardens begin to be productive. A considerable quantity of ground has been cleared on the Loyal Sock Creek. The owner can either settle there himself or intrust [sic] it to a farmer. The sentiment of the colonists is good. Each one follows his business--the cultivator, as well as the innkeeper, or tradesman, with as much zeal as if he had been brought up to it. The real farmers who reside at Asylum live upon the whole on very good terms with each other, being sensible that harmony is requisite to render their situation comfortable and happy. They possess no considerable property, and their way of life is simple. Mr. Talon lives in a manner somewhat more splendid than the others, as he has to entertain home seekers and visitors, and as he is obliged to maintain a number of persons to whom his assistance is indispensable. The price of the company's lands at present is $2.50 an acre. That in the town of Asylum fetches a little more. The bullocks which are consumed at Asylum are generally brought from the back settlements, but it is frequently found necessary to send thither for them. The grain, which is not consumed at Asylum, finds a market in Wilkes-Barre, and it is transported there on the river. In the same manner all kinds of merchandise are transported from Philadelphia to Asylum. They are carried in wagons as far as Harrisburg, and thence by barges up the river. The freight amounts in the whole to two dollars per hundred weight. (The freight from Wilkes-Barre was 51 cents per cwt.). The salt comes from the salt houses at Genesee, N.Y. Flax is produced in the country about Asylum. Maple sugar is made in great abundance. Each maple tree is reputed to yield from two to three pounds per year. Maple molasses and vinegar are prepared here and sold abroad. A considerable quantity of tar is made, and sold at four dollars per barrel, containing 32 gallons. Day laborers are paid five shillings per day. (Probably it was the "York" shilling, worth 12½ cents, as it was the shilling in general use at that time). The manufacture of potashes has been commenced at Asylum, and it is contemplated the brewing of malt liquors. A corn mill and a sawmill are building on the Loyal Sock.
The new land company taught by the errors of the former, will no doubt make it their principal business to promote the prosperity of Asylum which alone can in any considerable manner increase the value of the land. The soil is tolerably good, and the climate healthful. Almost all the ingredients of a prosperous colony are found in Asylum, and afford room to hope that these great natural advantages will in time be improved for the benefit and prosperity of the colonists. It will be necessary to construct new roads and repair old ones. If these things be done, Asylum will soon be peopled. Motives arising from French manners and opinions have thitherto prevented even French families from settling here. These are now in a great measure removed, and if the company shall proceed with judgment and prudence, as it is to be hoped, there will scarcely remain in doubt that Asylum will speedily become a place of importance. Its situation on the Susquehanna, 200 miles from its source, fits it in a peculiar manner for an emporium for the inland trade. French activity supported with money will certainly accelerate its growth, and this in time, will convince the world that the enterprise, assiduity of Frenchmen are equally conspicuous in prosperous and adverse circumstances."
The Duke also gives a list of the principal French residents at the time of his visit in 1795, as follows:
"(1st) M. de Blaçon, Deputy for Dauphine in the Constituent Assembly. Since quitting France, he has married Mademoiselle de Maulde, late canoness to the chapter Bonbourg. They keep a haberdasher's shop. Their partner is M. Colin, formerly Abbé de Sevigny, Archdeacon of Tours, and conseiller and grand conseil. (2nd) M. de Montule, late captain of a troop of horse, married to lady of San Domingo, who resides at present at Pottsgrove. (3rd) Madame de Seybert, a cousin to M. de Montule, and relict of a rich planter of San Domingo. (4th) M. Becdellière, formerly a canon, now a shop-keeper. His partners are the two Messrs. De la Roue, one of whom is was formerly a petit gens d'armes, and the other a captain of infantry. The latter married a sister of Madame Seybert. (5th) Mademoiselle de Bercy, who intends establishing an inn on the road from Asylum to the Loyal Sock, eight miles from the former place, whither she is on the point of removing with her husband. (6th) M. Beaulieu, former a captain of infantry in the French service who served in America during the late war in the legion of Potonsky. He has remained ever since in this country, has married an English lady, and now keeps an inn. (7th) M. Buzzard, a planter of San Domingo, and a physician in that country, who has settled at Asylum with his wife, daughter, son and some negroes [sic], the remains of his fortune. (8th) M. de Noailles, a planter of San Domingo. (9th) M. Daudelot of Frenchcourte, late an officer of infantry, who left France on account of the Revolution, and arrived here destitute of property, but was kindly received by Mr. Talon, and is now engaged in agricultural pursuits with spirit and success. (10th) M. du Petithouar, an officer of the navy who, encouraged by the Constituent Assembly, and assisted by a subscription, embarked in an expedition in quest of M. de la Peroufe. He was detained on the coast of Brazil by the governor of that colony, Fernando de Noriguez, and sent with his crew to Portugal, where he was very ill-treated by the Portuguese government, stripped of all his property, and only escaped further persecution by fleeing to America, where he lives free and happy without property, yet without want. He is employed in clearing about 200 or 300 acres of woodland. His sociable, mild, and truly original temper and character are set off by a noble simplicity of manner.
"(11th) M. Nores, a young gentleman who embarked with M. du Petithouar and escaped with him to this country. He formerly wore the Petit collet, (or little band which was formerly a distinguishing mark of the secular clergy in France) was a pupil of M. de la Capelle, possessor of a small priory, and now earns his subsistence by cultivating the ground.
"(12th) John Keating, an Irishman, and late captain of regiment of Welch. At the beginning of the Revolution he was in San Domingo, where he possessed the confidence of the parties, but refused the most tempting offers of the commissioners of the Assembly; though his sentiments were truly democratic. It was his choice and determination to retire to America without a shilling in his pocket rather than to acquire power and opulence in San Domingo by violating his first oath. He is a man of uncommon merit, distinguished abilities, extraordinary virtue, invincible disinterestedness. His advice and prudence have proved extremely serviceable to M. Talon in every department of his business. It was he who negotiated the arrangements between Messrs. Morris and Nicholson, and it may be justly said that the confidence which his uncommon abilities and virtues inspire enables him to adjust matters in dispute with much greater facility than most other persons. (13th) M. Benand, a rich merchant of San Domingo, has just arrived with his family and a very considerable property preserved from the wreck of an immense fortune. (14th) M. Carles, a priest and canon of Guernsey, who retired to America with a small fortune, and who has now settled at Asylum. He is an industrious and much respected farmer. (15th) M. Brevost, a citizen of Paris, celebrated for his benevolence. He was a member of all benevolent societies, treasurer of the Philanthropic Society, and retired to America with some property, a considerable part of which he expended on a settlement he attempted to establish on the banks of the Chenango River, N.Y., but which did not eventually succeed. He now cultivates his lot of ground on the Loyal Sock as if his whole life had been devoted to the same pursuit, and the cheerful serenity of a gentle, candid, philosophical mind still attends him in his laborious retreat. His wife, and sister-in-law, who have also settled here, share in his tranquility and happiness. (16th) Madame d'Autremont, with her three children. She is the widow of a steward of Paris. Two of her sons are grown up. One was a notary, the other a watch maker, but they have now become hewers of wood, and tillers of the ground, and secure by their zeal, spirit, politeness and unblemished character the sympathy and respect of every feeling mind.
"Some families of artisans are also established at Asylum and such as conduct themselves properly earn great wages. This cannot be said of the greater part of them. They, in general, are very indifferent workmen, much addicted to drunkenness. In time they will be superseded by more valuable men, and American families of a better description will settle here, for those who reside at present are scarcely worth keeping.
"One of the greatest impediments to the prosperity of the settlement will probably arise from the prejudice of some Frenchmen against the Americans unless self-interest and reason should prove the means of removing them. These are frequently manifested with that inconsistent levity with which Frenchmen decide on things and persons of the greatest moment. Some of them vauntingly declare that they will never learn the language of the country or enter into a conversation with an American. Whether particular facts and occurrences can justify this prejudice in regard to individuals, I will not affirm, but certain it is that they can never justify it in the latitude of general opinion.
"A conduct founded on such prejudices would prove extremely hurtful to the interest of the colony, the progress of which has already been retarded by so many unfavorable obstacles that there is certainly no occasion to create new ones by purposely exciting the animosity of a people among whom the colony has been formed, and who, in the judgment of every impartial man, must be considered as in a state of less degeneracy than many European nations.
"The real farmers who reside in Asylum live upon the whole on very good terms with each other, being duly sensible that harmony is requisite to render their situation comfortable and happy. They possess no considerable property and their way of life is simple. M. Talon lives in a manner somewhat more splendid, as he is obliged to entertain a number of persons, to whom his assistance is indispensable. It is to be wished and hoped that the whole settlement may prove ultimately successful. A more convenient spot might have been chosen, but not to mention that all ex post facto judgments are unfair, the present situation of the colony appearing so advantageous as to warrant the most sanguine hopes of success. Industrial families, without whom no settlement can prosper, must be invited to it, for it must be considered that however polished its present inhabitants may be, the gentlemen cannot so easily dispense with the assistance of the artisan and husbandman, as these can with that of the gentleman. A speedy adjustment of the present difficulties between Connecticut and Pennsylvania with the estates contiguous to the lands of Asylum would also prove a desirable and fortunate circumstance for the colony. None but persons of indifferent character are willing to settle on ground, the title to which remains in dispute. Even the small number of colonists we found between Wilkes-Barre and Tioga, are by no means praiseworthy in their morals and they are poor, lazy, drunken, quarrelsome, and extremely negligent in the culture of their lands. The valuable emigrants from New England who should be encouraged to settle here, will certainly not make their appearance till they can be sure of cultivating their lands without opposition and retaining the undisturbed possession of their estates. It is, therefore, of the greatest importance to the company at Asylum that this weighty business should be speedily and finally adjusted. When that is accomplished, the company will undoubtedly embrace the earliest opportunity of advertising the whole million acres (they own). They will endeavor to combine separate estates with each other by purchasing the intervening lands. They will perceive how advantageous and important it is to place Asylum as it were in full activity by reconstructing the roads already projected and commenced; by establishing a school; by inviting industrious settlers and endeavoring to improve the breeds of houses and cattle; in short, by encouraging useful establishments of every kind.
"Everything in the settlement at present appears in a precarious condition. The price of provisions depends on a variety of fluctuating circumstances. By the activity and prudence of certain individuals the town is abundantly supplied with grain and meat, and their honest economy keeps provisions at a moderate price. But men of a less liberal way of thinking have it also in their power to occasion scarcity of the first necessaries of life, and raise their price to a rate beyond all proportion to that of other commodities. The information that I have been able to collect relative to the state of agriculture, however accurate at the present moment, can hardly be though sufficient for the direction of a planter who should be inclined to settle here. The land behind the town is tolerably good. That on the banks of the river consists of excellent me meadows, laid out by those who settled here before the present colonists, producing very good hay in considerable quantities, and they are capable of still further improvement. The price of the company's lands is at present $2.50 per acre. Very little of it, however, is sold. There is little doubt that the price will raise to $10 per acre. Hitherto the grain has suffered very little from the Hessian fly, or from blight. The winter here lasts from four and a half to five months. Both the oxen and cows are of the very indifferent sort, and little attention has yet been paid to the breeding of cattle. The land yields about 15 to 20 bushels of wheat per acre; 60 bus. of corn, and three tons of hay per acre. In plowing, they generally employ oxen. They are sometimes driven to Philadelphia."
In concluding his account of Asylum, the Duke says: "On our arrival at Asylum it was not our intention to have stopped more than four days in that place, but the pleasure of meeting with M. and Madame de Blaçons, a desire to obtain a knowledge of the present state of the colony as well as the prospects of future improvement, and the cordial reception we received from all its inhabitants, induced us to add four days to our stay, and in the whole we stopped twelve days. On Tuesday, the 2nd of June, we took our departure, Messrs. de Blaçons and Dupetithouar joined our caravan. The latter, who traveled on foot, set out the preceding morning."
The Duke was a copious, voluminous writer with a vocabulary abundantly stocked with excellent language, but it seems as if he might have made the record in his journal just as clear in fewer words. However, we must honor him for giving us much information about the place and the people, which we would not have obtained from any other source.
As the Duke intended to publish an account of his travels (which he did) he took extraordinary pains to get all the reliable information about the place, its people and their history that was possible.
M. Becdellière, one of the storekeepers,
was evidently generous and fond of children. He frequently gave candy and
raisins to Abraham Vanderpool, a little boy four years old, which kindness
was never forgotten by the boy.