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History of Wyoming, 1845
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History of Wyoming
Charles Miner
1845

 
 
History of Wyoming, in a series of letters, from Charles Miner, to his son William Penn Miner, Esq.

Philadelphia: published by J. Crissy, No. 4 Minor Street, 1845

Introduction

The history of Wyoming remains to be written. The book of Mr. Chapman is certainly valuable: so far as it extends. A man of talents, research and industry; had his life been prolonged, he would have produced a work worthy of the subject, and his own fame. Cut off in midlife, his manuscript was the first rude essay-the mere outline of what he must have intended to accomplish. The eagerness with which the volume was sought after and red, shows the lively interest which the public mind possesses in respect to the subject.

Col. Stone's popular book, "The Poetry and History of Wyoming," deserves commendation. His polished Penn has thrown a charmer around the narrative, easy year to admire been imitate. But the fact that he was obliged to reprint Campbell's Gertrude, with Irving's biography of the author, shows that, in his view, the materials of interest relating to the subject for either too few, or to remotely accessible, to form the groundwork for a respectable volume. Most of the more striking fax, and many the more touching personal incidents, he has wrought up with a master hand, and given with all the sparkling raciness which genius in parts to an interesting subject.

I came to Pennsylvania and 1799, a settler under the Connecticut claimed. The grounds of that claim, connected as they were with the early hopes of the writer, with then examined with care. Editor of a paper, and Wilkes-Barre, for 13 years, including the period of the sharp conflicts under the Intrusion Law, the claim of Connecticut was discussed in-the services and sufferings of the early settlers were inquired into, until the whole subject became one of the before being concerned, enter woven with the most interesting association of my life. When Judge Marshall published his first edition of the Life of Washington, I took the liberty of writing him, stating that the account of the Wyoming massacre was exceedingly erroneous, and gave him a version of the affair, derived from the best sources. I may lead to remark, that no important subject was ever before involved in such embarrassing contradictions. The reason I take it is this: on the invasion by Butler and his Indians, most of the leading men were slain, and the rest of the inhabitants scattered in the wildest state of alarm. Rumor brought to every flying group a tale of seven fold horror, and these, repeated by the fugitives, wherever they fled, were told and received its historic truth. Hence the exaggerated account published at Poughkeepsie a few weeks after the massacre, which was, without doubt, the groundwork, probably the sole authority, of Gordon and Ramsey, as they were the sources from which Marshall derived materials for his first edition. Black with cruelty, and christened with blood, sufficient to harrow up the sole with horror, is a simple narrative, and tested by truth, which displays the ferocity of the demons-the malignancy of fiends. The false account was in measurably worse. It may excite inquiry, all why the oft published error was not earlier corrected? Is obvious that the false statement which took its published form at Poughkeepsie, and was then circulated, not only in united colonies, but throughout every nation in Europe, was calculated to arouse the most powerful emotions of the human soul-pity for American suffering-detestation of blackest perfidy-and horror at unheard of cruelty on the part of Great Britain and her Savage allies: and tends to straighten our cause, by bringing popular sentiment to bear in our favor both at home and abroad.

With motives so powerful to allow the published story to run its course, it may be doubted even if the truth was known whether any American Wood at the time he fell in his duty to hunt up the evidence, and published a new version of the matter. After the war, Wyoming was, from her remote, reduced and harassed state, too much engaged in more immediately pressing concerns, to leave for people free to study her early animals, and correct the errors of the historian.

In 1832 I returned to Wyoming from Chester County, where I had resided 15 years, and commenced farming. Much she excluded by local position from society, I sought relaxation from labor, with more than usual pleasure, in my books. Four volumes of the journal of Congress, during the Revolution, whereupon the shelf, presenting in their details slight attraction, as I had thought, and a little use, except for occasional reference: but the lesion now afforded lead me to examine them with more care, and I presently found, scattered through a massive interesting matter, much that related to Wyoming. Communicating some fax which I had discovered, it seemed a particular interest, Gen. William Ross mention to me, that he bound volume containing the old Westmoreland records was in the possession of a person in the borough, who had used the blank leaves. A treasure to the antiquarian of themselves, the came to me with the increased charm that their contents harmonize with early and cherished studies. Every page opened new abuse to me. Light broke in upon the deep gloom that had heretofore, and an especial manner, enshrouded the civil history of Wyoming. From the fax obtained in these precious records, and those elicited by the perusal of the journals of Congress, I form the conclusion that the old sufferers had into word grievous and unredressed wrongs, from their own country as well as from the Britain and Savage. Two or three numbers, setting forth, though very them perfectly, the grounds of their claim and to redress, I published in the Wilkes-Barre papers, Winchester Butler, Esq., and whose prudence and judgment I had, and have, the utmost confidence, came to me, and said, "Mr. Miner, the case you are stating seems to me and very strong one, indeed almost irresistible;" and he immediately, with the greatest kindness, offered me the use of the papers of Col. Zebulon Butler, his grandfather. Mr. Anderson Dana also placed in my hands and very interesting papers belonging to his father. Thus excited and cheered, our result to lose not a moment in obtaining all the facts which obliterating time, and relentless death had spared, relating to the history of Wyoming. To this and I folded up little books of blank paper, for convenient carriage, took pens and eat, and accompanied by my daughter Sarah, (who though blind is, I think it not inappropriate here to say, besides being a most cheerful and agreeable companion, quick to here ready ready to understand, sound to judge, retention of memory, and like myself, deeply interested in the subject,) we visited 30 or 40 of the ancient people, were here at the time of the expulsion. "We have come to inquire about old Wyoming, pray tell us all you know. We wish an exact picture, such as the valley presented 60 odd years ago. Give us the lights and shadows, its joyous and its sorrows." In every instance we were treated with courtesy and kindness-communications, full and free, were made, not only with patients, but cheerfulness. This is said, as many of the statements, being combined of matters within the personal knowledge of the one examine, and things learn from others, our inquiries were often almost tediously minute. At night and returning home, I read over to Cerro put I had taken down, and carefully corrected any error into which the pen had fallen. If in examining several persons I found the material facts stated differently, they were revisited, the subject considered again, and new sources of information sought into we were satisfied of having arrived in the correct conclusion. This particular care was the more necessary, since, from the cause stated, multitudinous errors prevailed in respect to numerous details, in the minds of many intelligent persons.

With a view at once to communicate and elicit information, I may from time to time, publications of what we had learned, under the name of the "Hazleton Travelers." The title presupposed that two gentlemen were traveling from Hazleton for Wyoming. One, perfectly acquainted with the valley, its people and history, the other, eager to learn everything that concerned them. The communications of one to the other in their passing conversation constituted these numbers which have excited so much public attention, and have been liberally used by Col. Stone in his recent work. I wish you're distinctly to say, that the censure cast upon Col. Stone for making use of those materials, because he was aware that I was collecting the facts for my intended history, was wholly unmerited on his part. They were before the world and a newspaper-this would have been sufficient. But moreover, then gentlemen had my most full and unreserved assent to his using them at his pleasure.

Interesting as are the incidence growing out of the Revolutionary war, other matters of scarcely less interest will claim the reader’s attention. For nine years Wyoming, or Westmoreland, was under the jurisdiction of Connecticut-derived its laws from that state-and sent representatives to her assembly.

For seven years, Civil War prevailed or raged, between Wyoming and Pennsylvania. The advance attended on those unhappy conflicts demand from the historian penned a faithful record.

I have chosen to give the subject the form of familiar letters to my son, because, besides being indebted to him for aid and many valuable suggestions, it must be obvious that a variety of minute details necessary to be preserved to present a perfect picture of life, manners and events, among a plain people, and a new and rude settlement, requires an easier style and freer scope of pencil, and might be deemed fitting to the grave delineator of the fate of nations, or to the historian who records the revolutions, the rise and fall of empires.

Thanks era in the first place due to the Honorable Edward Everett, our Mr. at the Court of St. James: with characteristic kindness, on my soliciting his good offices, he applied to Lord Aberdeen, who gave directions that access should be had to such documents in the state paper office as might with propriety be copied: we're upon Col. J. R. Brodhead voluntarily took upon himself the trouble of making the necessary searches, and of transcribing whatever related to Wyoming. I feel very sensibly my indebtedness to Col. Brodhead, and acknowledge it with pleasure.

The Honorable John N. Conynhham with partial kindness has inquired for an obtained for me, well in the northern portion of his circuit, various facts, from old settlers, whom I could not conveniently see, and more especially several ancient manuscripts of much value.

Sen. Kidder and Mr. Speaker Wright, for their attention and politeness in obtaining, by vote of the assembly, the ancient Susquehanna Company's records, are desired to accept my most respectable thanks.

William S. Derrick, Esq., in the State Department, Washington, responded with his a custom kindness to my inquiries, and furnished me the ancient map, and other valuable papers.

Among the persons visited, and to whom I am indebted for information, are Samuel Carey,* Mrs. Carey, Thomas Williams, Cornelius Courtright, Esq., Mrs. Cooper, Stephen Abbott, Anderson Dana, Rufus Bennett,*Mrs. Bennett, Elisha Blackman,*Eleazer Blackman, Mrs. Blackman, Nathan Beach, Esq., Alexander Jameson, Esq., Mrs. Jenkins, and several members of her family, Mrs. Myers, Rev. Mr. Bidlack, Mrs. Bidlack, Col. John Butler, George M. Hollenback, Joseph Slocum, Col. G. P. Ransom, Jose Rogers, Col. Benjamin Dorrance, Col. Edward Inman, Samuel Finch,*Elisha Harding, Esq., Mrs. Young, David Perkins, Esq., Aaron Perkins, John Carey, Comfort Carey, Mrs. Carey, Rev. Mr. Dana, General William Ross, Williams Swetland, Esq., Col. Erastus Hill, Mrs. Ives, Mrs. Town, Mrs. Davis. The four whose names are designated by a star were in the battle. With one or two exceptions, the others were inhabitants of Wyoming, at the time of the massacre and expulsion, and most of them of an age to remember distinctly the events that then took place.

To Col. Joseph Kingsbury, I take great pleasure in making my acknowledgments, for anecdotes of Col. Franklin, and more especially, for a journal by that gentlemen, for many years, during the contest with a Pennsylvania land claimants. It an especial manner, I've beg leave to make my grateful acknowledgments to C. L. Ward, Esq. then gentlemen had been, gathering materials for a History of Wyoming, and had copied from the archives and Harrisburg numerous documents bearing on the subject, several of which were new to me, and of great interest. On the unfortunate destruction, by fire of what he had written, with papers obtained from Col. Franklin, he sent me those documents, and placed them at my disposal.

To Henry R. Strong, Esq. State Librarian, I am indebted for valuable extracts from books and documents and Harrisburg, furnished was so much promptitude as greatly to enhance the obligation. Things are due to Redmond Conyngham, Esq., whose thorough knowledge of our ancient history has enabled him to throw light upon numerous passages regarding the Indians. I cannot but expressed hope that he will gather into a volume and publish the garnered treasures of his antiquarian researches: Thomas Elder, Esq.; of Harrisburg (whose father the Rev. John Elder, at once a minister of the gospel, and Col. of the regiment, who used, surrounded by blood seeking savages, to ascend the pulpit with his Bible in one hand, and rifle in the other, and fought and prayed with Puritan courage and zeal) with the utmost kindness and confidence, sent me numerous family papers, bearing especially on incidents of the old French and Indian war. Extremely valuable, I cannot withhold my earnest wish that the facts they contain maybe embodied in a volume. Few of them come within the scope of the work so local and isolated as this in which I am engaged; but such have been selected with care. Miner S. Blackman, Esq., visiting Harrisburg, with his a custom politeness copied for my use several valuable documents.

Thus prepared with materials, I ventured upon the arduous, but pleasing task of writing

The History of Wyoming.

PS Philadelphia, Aug. 2, 1845.

To Mr. J. Jordan, Jr., of Philadelphia, member of the historical society, I make, with pleasure, my best a knowledge meds, cannot only for numerous ax of kindness connected with the publication of this work, before a number of interesting facts and documents, which his antiquarian researches and taste had enabled him to gather and preserved.

I hardly know how to express my deep sense of considerate kindness shown, and unremitting aid afforded me by Joseph R. Chandler, Esq., during the protracted and perplexing negotiations for the printing and publishing (of) this history. The generous confidence and danced by a gentleman of his established literary reputation, led the way to a most satisfactory arrangement; and a hope he will pardon me for saying that his efforts, so far transcending the claims of friendship, could only have proceeded from his characteristic love of doing good. My most gratefully knowledge meds wait upon him.

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