Three years of tranquil enjoyment had increased the number of settlers at Wyoming, while unremitted industry upon a prolific soil, had diffused throughout the valley most of the necessaries, many of the conveniences, and some of the luxuries of life. Abundant food and clothing were enjoyed in every cottage. Numerous herds of cattle grazed upon the mountains. Hill and meadow were spotted with flocks of sheep. The flats, nearly cleared, yielded 30 and 40 fold the seed that was sown. Schoolhouses were erected in every district. The Sabbath was kept with Puritan strictness. Congregated in convenient places, the people listened to sermons from their gospel ministers. Prayer ascended to the Most High for grace and spiritual matters, and his protection in their secular concerns; while
"they chant their artless notes in simple guise;
They tune their hearts, by far the noblest aim:
Perhaps Dundee’s wild warbling measures rise;
Or plaintive Martyrs, worthy of the dame."
Such was the picture presented by Wyoming at the commencement of 1775. At the spring election, John Jenkins, Esq., (the elder,) was elected member of assembly, to be holden at Hartford, in May. The dispute between Great Britain and the colonies, now approaching to an open rupture, had already affected a sensible, and so far, not unfavorable influence on the settlement, as, by occupying the attention of the proprietary government was more important affairs, the Connecticut people had been left undisturbed to extend and established their possessions. The battle of Lexington had taken place April 19th. On the 17th of June, the battle of Bunker's Hill was fought, so glorious to the American arms. The effect produced at Wyoming, by those soul-stirring events, will be best expressed by the simple record of the "town meeting legally warned."
"Any meeting of ye proprietaries and settlers of ye town of Westmoreland, legally warned and held in Westmoreland, August 1st, 1775, Mr. John Jenkins was chosen moderator for ye work of ye day. Voted that this town does now vote that they will strictly observe and follow the rules and regulations of the Honorable Continental Congress, now sitting at Philadelphia.
"Resolved by this town, that they are willing to make any accommodations with ye Pennsylvania party that shall conduce to ye best good of ye whole, not infringing on the property of any person, and come in common cause of liberty in ye defence of America, and that we will amicably give them ye offer of joining in ye proposals as soon as may be.
"Voted-This meeting is adjourned until Tuesday the 8th day of this instant, August, at one out of the clock in ye afternoon at this place."
"This meeting is opened and held by adjournment August the 8th, 1775.
"Voted-Ss this town has but of late been incorporated and invested with the privileges of the law, both simple and military, and now in a capacity of acting in conjunction with our neighboring towns within this and other colonies, in opposing ye late measures adopted by parliament to enslave America.-Also this town having taken into consideration the late plan adopted by parliament of enforcing their several oppressive and unconstitutional acts, all depriving us of our property, and of binding us in all cases without exception, whether we consent or not, is considered by us highly injurious to American or English freedom; therefore do consent to an acquiescence in the late proceedings and advice of the Continental Congress, and do rejoice that those measures are adopted, and so universally received throughout the Continent; and in conformity to the 11th article of the association, we do now appoint a committee to attentively observe the conduct of all persons within this town, touching the rules and regulations prescribed by the Honorable Continental Congress, and will unanimously join our brethren in America in the common cause of defending our liberty.
"Voted-that Mr. John Jenkins, Joseph Sluman, Esq., Nathan Denison, Esq., Mr. Obadiah Gore, Jr., and Lieut. William BUck, be chosen a committee of correspondence for the town of Westmoreland," etc.
While all the votes of that meeting, breathe a spirit of patriotism, the notice of the reader cannot fail to be attracted to the second resolve, offering the olive branch to the Pennsylvania party, and proposing a truce of their private and local quarrels-that all hearts and all hands might be united in the general defense of the liberty. Politic, as it was apparently patriotic and fair, both parties well knew, that time gained was greatly important to consolidate the strength of the settlement.
In no part of the thirteen colonies, neither in Massachusetts nor Connecticut, was there more lively zeal, or more perfect unanimity, in behalf of independence, then among the settlers under the Connecticut claim upon the Susquehanna and Delaware purchases. Among those who had taken the Freeman's oath, previous to the above resolutions, there proved to be but one solitary Tory. It was charged by the Connecticut people, that the interlopers, the transient persons, sent by the Pennsylvania landholders, to assume the mask of Connecticut settlers, were Tories. To what extent this charge may have been true, we have now no means of forming an accurate opinion; but justice obliges us to say, in some instances that odious epithet was applied to such intruders, and assigned as a reason for expelling them from the settlement.
In a distribution of lots, two years previous, mention was made of the settlement at Muncy, on the West Branch of the Susquehanna. Two townships had been surveyed including those inviting plains, so early as 1771. One was named Charleston, the other age Judea. We are not able to designate the actual settlers, but the following is a list of the proprietors of the former, embracing names of some of the most respectable families in Connecticut.
A list of the proprietors
of the township of Charleston, in the Susquehanna purchase, on the West
branch, June 1772.
|Joseph Green||Nathaniel Green|
|Jonathan Root||Daniel Foot|
|David Bigelow||Jonathan Harris’ heirs|
|David Carver||Samuel Fitch|
|Joseph Warters||William Martin|
|Capt. Thomas Loomis||John Kellogg|
|John Clemsted||Israel Kellogg|
|Amos Wells||Charles Foot|
|James Wells||Samuel Carver|
|John Bigelow, Jr.||Capt. Ebenezer Leech|
|Jonah Porter||Dr. John Crocker|
|Capt. William Clark||Daniel Kellogg|
|William Swetland||David Barber, Esq.|
|Eunice White||Nathaniel Clark|
|Benjamin Kibben||Charles Dewey|
|Thomas Heath||John Hastings|
|William Buck||Edward Lester|
We also subjoin a List of Proprietors in Judea
"A list of the proprietors
of the township of Judea, is as follows:-
|Increased Mosely, Esq.||Asahel Hooker|
|John Leavensworth||Joseph Easton|
|Ensign Caleb Wheeler||Elijah Atwood|
|Lieut. Peter Guernsey||Joseph Waugh|
|Samuel Jackson||Hezekiah Hooker|
|James Morris||Capt. Abner Mallory|
|Samuel Slater||Titus Barnes|
|Benjamin Hungerford||Thomas Porter|
|James Hannah||Josiah Averit|
|James Kasson||Jesse Weeks|
|Jonathan Smith||Thomas Walsworth|
|James Frisbie||Deliverance Spalding|
|Return Strong||William Choate|
|Capt. Nathan Hurd, Jr.||Aholiab Buck|
|Josiah Brownson||Capt. Obadiah Gore|
It will be remembered that the general assembly of Connecticut had not included the settlement in the limits of Westmoreland, the west line of that town extending only 15 miles beyond the North Branch, not, therefore, reaching within 20 or 30 miles of Muncy. A comparatively small settlement, and unsupported, it offered at the same time an afflicting eye sour to the well excited jealousy of the proprietaries, and an inviting prize to the cupidity of those who, at some risk, should think proper to seize it. In September 1775, Col. Plunkett, under orders from the government, detailed a strong force from the Northumberland militia, and marched to break up the settlement at Charlestown in Judea. The spirit or extent of resistance, is nowhere preserved, but is presumed to have been inconsiderable. One life was lost, and several persons of the Connecticut party were wounded. It has not been ascertained whether any loss was sustained by the Pennsylvania troops. After burning the buildings, and gathering together, for distribution among victors, all the movable property, the men taken were marched as prisoners, and confined in Sunbury jail; while the women and children were sent to Wyoming, where most of them had relations or friends.
This successful expedition extinguished forever all settlements, by the Yankees, west of Westmoreland. Leaving the prisoners closely incarcerated, our attention is attracted to the proceedings of Connecticut and of Congress.
Hartford, Nov. 3, 1775-"Letters were laid before counsel by the governor, which stated that the Pennimites, on the West Branch of the Susquehanna River, were about to come 500 in number, armed, to drive off the Connecticut settlers from the Wyoming country. The council viewed it as having a most dangerous tendency, to break the union of the colonies, and esteemed it a plan, probably considered by enemies, with that view. The governor was desired to address Congress on the subject, and endeavored to have the matter quiet did."
On Saturday, the fourth of November, having been apprised of the destruction of Charleston and Judea, Congress came to the following resolution:
"The Congress, considering that the most perfect union between all the colonies, is essentially necessary for the just rights of North America, and being apprehensive that there is great danger of hostilities being commenced at, or near Wyoming, between the inhabitants of the colony of Pennsylvania, and those of Connecticut,"
Resolved-"that the assemblies of said colonies be requested to take the most speedy and effectual steps to prevent such hostilities."
"Ordered-That a copy of the said resolutions be transmitted by express, to the magistrates and people of Pennsylvania and Connecticut, on the waters of the Susquehanna."
Unfortunately, the influence of the Continental Congress was not sufficiently powerful to quell the storm. On the seventh of the month, in reply to the resolutions quoted, an evasive verbal answer was made by the Pennsylvania assembly, through Mr. Dickinson: "desiring to know on what evidence the Congress grounded the apprehension there and expressed of hostilities commencing at, or near Wyoming, between the inhabitants of the colony of Pennsylvania, and those of Connecticut."
To complete, perhaps easy conquest, and desolation of the Muncy settlement, instead of satisfying, only rendered more eager the Pennsylvania landholders, to strike a decisive blow against Wyoming. Col. Plunkett had returned, his brow wreathed with victory, and a long line of Yankee prisoners graced his triumphal entry into Sunbury; while some of his followers, enriched by so much plunder, obtained was scarce a contest, were desirous of trying their fortunes in a new enterprise in a more extended scale, offering to their successful arms an hundred fold more valuable reward. More elated perhaps, than wisdom would have justified; proud and flattered for what he had already achieved, Col. Plunkett was told by others, and seems not to have doubted himself, that he was the man for whom the honor had been reserved, of rescuing Wyoming (the desired,) from the unprincipled encroachments of the moss trooping Yankees. Had he known the gallant Ogden, and could he have appreciated half his worth, the Col. would modestly have judged the task, without undervaluing his own prowess, much more difficult of accomplishments and seems to have been apprehended. But ample means were promised him, and those promises were filled. An army, for it may be so termed, of 700 men, were placed at his disposal.
During the continuance of the first Pennimite and Yankee war, from the commencement of 1769, to the close of 1771, it will be remembered that any expedition against Wyoming was of a civil character. Sheriff's Jennings and Hacklein being ostensibly the chief officers on duty, merely supported by Capt.Odgen, Capt. Francis, Col. Clayton, Capt. Dick, Captains Morris and Ledlie, with their several military companies; the burnished musket, the glittering bayonet, the four pounder-the whole martial array being simply an appurtenant to a peace officer while he should serve a civil process. The same policy was again assumed. Col. Plunkett, with his 700 armed men, his train of boats, with store of ammunition, the leading and largest one armed with a field peace ready for action, on board, or to be landed, were the mere accompaniments of William Cook, Esq., the High Sheriff of Northumberland, whose business at Wyoming was to arrest two or three individuals on civil writs.
A high degree of excitement prevailed on both sides. Several boats from Wyoming, trading with the settlements below, were seized on passing Fort Augusta, and their cargoes confiscated. Early in December, his preparations having been completed, Col. Plunkett took up his line of march, the whether then being mild, the river free from ice, a manner extremely unusual at that season of the year.
Justly alarmed at these formidable preparations, the Wyoming people dispatched an agent to state the condition of affairs before Congress, and solicit their friendly interposition.
But while calling on Congress the inhabitants were far too wise to omit placing themselves in the best possible posture of defense. The military were revived. As there was no public magazine of provisions, every man able to bear arms was directed to hold himself in readiness to march at a moments warning, his arms in order, with all the ammunition requisite for a weeks muster, and provisions for at least three days.
Scouts sent out for the purpose, returned, one every day with information of the advance of the enemy, were coming up strong, and confident of success.
The cruelty of the contemplated attacked was sensibly felt, intended, it was not doubted, like that on the Muncy settlement, to effectuate the entire expulsion of the whole people. It being in the midst of winter, those at least given to despondence, look to the probable issue with extremely inquietude, for defeat would assuredly devote the valley to flames, and the inhabitants to famine. 700 men! Nearly double the force Westmoreland could bring into the field. Of those who had taken the Freeman's oath, the whole number amounting to 285, and of these several came from the Lackawaxen settlement, 40 miles east of Wyoming, a few from Coshutunk, on the Delaware, and many aged men were on the list. There were probably in the valley 20 or 30 persons, like David Meade, (holding a Connecticut right, you in heart and hand if need be, being secretly Pennsylvania landholders,) who, if they took no open part, wished success to the enterprise of Plunkett, and at a proper moment would have lent their efficient aid in his behalf. These of course never took the Freeman's oath. The young men from 15 to 21, rallied was spirit on the occasion.
On the 20th December, the invading army was announced as having arrived at the mouth of the Nescopeck Creek, making their way now more slowly as the ice was gathering in the river, and checked the passage of their boats. Never did more earnest prayers ascend to heaven for snows of Lapland to impede the march of the army, and ice of the Arctic circle to arrest their voyage.
Again Congress interposed, and on the 20th of December, adopted the following most important proceedings.
"The Congress taking into consideration, the dispute between the people of Pennsylvania and Connecticut, on the waters of the Susquehanna, came to the following resolution:
"Whereas, a dispute subsists between some of the inhabitants of the colony of Connecticut, settled under the claim of the said colony on land near Wyoming, on the Susquehanna River, and in the Delaware country, and the inhabitants settled under the claim of the proprietors of Pennsylvania, which dispute it is apprehended will, if not suspended during the present troubles in the colonies, be productive of pernicious consequences, which may be very prejudicial to the common interest of United Colonies, therefore
"Resolved, that it is the opinion of this Congress, and it is accordingly recommended, that the contending parties and immediately cease all hostilities, and avoid every appearance of force until the dispute can be legally decided. That all property taken and detained, be immediately restored to the original owners; that no interruption be given to either party, to the free passing and repassing of persons behaving themselves peaceably, through the disputed territory, as well by land as by water, without molestation of either persons or property; that all persons seized and detained on account of said dispute on either side, be dismissed and permitted to go to their respective homes, and that things being put in the same situation they were before the late unhappy contest, they continue to behave themselves peaceably on their respective possessions and improvements, until legal decision can be had on said dispute, or this Congress shall take further order thereon, and nothing herein done, shall be construed in prejudice of the claim of either party."
But the came too late to wrest the attack of Col. Plunkett, whose force had arrived on the 23rd, at the southwestern opening of the valley. Col. Zubulon Butler, who commanded the Yankees, by the most strenuous exertions had mustered about 300 men and boys, but there were not guns enough to arm the whole, and several appeared on the ground with scythes fastened upon handles, projecting straight as possible; a formidable weapon in the hands of an active soldier, if they should be brought to close quarters, but otherwise useless. These weapons the men sportively called "the end of time." On the night of the 23rd, he encamped on a flat near the union of Harvey's Creek with the river. From this point he dispatched Maj. John Garrett, his second in command, to visit Col. Plunkett with a flag, and desire to know the meeting of this extraordinary movements, and to demand his intentions in approaching Wyoming was so imposing a military array? The answer given was, that he came peaceably as an attendant on Sheriff Cook, who was authorized to arrest several persons at Wyoming, for violating the laws of Pennsylvania, and he trusted there would be no opposition to a measure so reasonable and Pacific. Major Garrett reported that the enemy outnumbered the Yankee more than two to one. "The conflict will be a sharp one, boys," said he, "I for one am ready to die, if need be, for my country." Things wore a different aspect from what they had done formerly. Men then, were almost the only inhabitants. Now the valley abounded with old men, women and children, brought out by the confidence inspired by three years of peace and prosperity. It was a season of gloomy apprehension.
Col. Butler was humane as he was brave-politic as he was undaunted. Several positions existed below the Nanticoke Falls where the river leaves the valley, and takes its way for four or five miles between precipitous mountains, where a stand might have been made with almost certain success. It was thought better, however, justifiable as would have been such a course, to wait the attack within the Valley itself. Orders were also given to this effect-not to take life unless rendered unavoidable in self-defense. Leaving Ensign Mason Fitch Alden, with 18 men on the ground where he had bivouacked, Col. Butler retired on the morning of the 23rd, and detached Captain Stewart with 20 men across to the east side of the river, above the Nanticoke Falls, with orders to lie in ambush, and prevent any boat’s crew from landing on the shore.
On the morning of the 24th, about 11 o'clock, Ensign Alden was apprised of the approach of Plunkett and his army, and, retiring slowly and in order, was followed by their vanguard, who came up with martial music playing. Keeping at a respectable distance, no shot was fired from either side, and Alden joining Col. Butler, reported the approach of the foe.
Displaying his column on the flat just abandoned by the Yankees, Col. Plunkett directed a spirited advance in pursuit of Alden, not doubting that the main forces of the Yankee were near, and the hour of battle had come. In less than thirty minutes the advancing line was arrested by the word, halt! And Plunkett, who was in the front, a little on the right, observing Col. Butler's position, was heard to exclaim, "My God! What a breastwork!"
Harvey's Creek coming in from the north, cuts the high mountain which here approaches the river, deep to its base. A precipitous ledge of rocks, from near the summit, runs southerly to the river, presenting to the west by south a lofty natural barrier, for a mile along the ravine; and where the defense was not perfect, Col. Butler had made it so by ramparts of logs, so that it would require a powerful, as well as bold enemy, to dislodge him. Nothing could have been more perfectly military than the selection of the spot, and the whole preparations of defense. So it was regarded by his soldiers. Mr. John Cary says in respect to the conduct of Col. Butler, and all that affair "I loved the man-he was an honor to the human species." Such a declaration speaks the merits of Col. Butler and language more impressive than the most labored eulogium. To take life was not the object, but orders were given for a general discharge all along the line of the defense by platoons, so as to impress Col. Plunkett with a proper idea of the strength and spirit of its defenders. No one was hurt, but considerable confusion was seen to prevail in his ranks as Plunkett's men recoiled from the formidable breastwork. A boat was forthwith dispatched by him, with a number of soldiers, to the opposite shore, it being the intention of the invaders to cross over and enter the settlement by a way apparently less obstructed, for Sheriff Cook to serve his civil process. The passage of the boat and crew was watched by both parties with intense anxiety. A few minutes decided to its fate. As it approached the shore, Captain Stewart opened a fire, which wounded one man, and killed a dog that was on board, probably specially aimed at, when instantly pulling their oars with a will, the men gained this suction of the falls, through which they sped among the breakers with a rapid flight of an arrow, fortunately without further injury.
Thus closed the battle for the day. Col. Plunkett retired, and encamped on the ground occupied by Col. Butler two nights previously. Early on the ensuing morning the contest was renewed, Col. Plunkett returning to the attack, and determining to out flank the Yankees, while at the same moment he should storm the breastwork. His troops displayed; they approached the line of Yankee defense, covering themselves by trees and loose rocks which lay below, and opened a spirited fire all along the line. While he thus assailed Col. Butler in front, a detachment of his most determined and alert men was sent up the mountain on the left, by a rapid march, concealed as much as possible, to turn the right flank of the Connecticut people. But this danger having been foreseen, and guarded against, the flanking party was repelled. During this contest several lives were lost, and a number on both sides wounded, how many, no record has been kept. A son of Surveyor General Lukens fell in the engagement; a fine young man, deeply lamented on all sides; but it was the fortune of war.
A circumstance extremely affecting grew out of this battle. A great portion of the male population on the upper waters of the Susquehanna, it is known, in after times sawed lumber during the winter, and descended with it in rafts to market in the spring. The most cordial good understanding had for many years subsisted between the Yankee raftmen and the inhabitants below; the latter being remarkable for their hospitality and kindness. A person who was in the battle saw one of Plunkett's men approach with great intrepidity very near the Yankee line, who, taking shelter behind a rock to load, would step out and fire wherever he could bring his rifle to bear. Already several men had fallen-the blood was up;-it had become a matter of life or death, and the aims became more close and deadly. The relator watched the opportunity, and as the head of Plunkett's brave soldier rose above the rock, he fired, and the man fell. After the battle was decided, going to the place, the relator found a hatband cut by a bullet; the man and hat were gone.
Being down the river on a raft, many years afterwards, and staying all night with a fine, hospitable old gentleman, they talked of Wyoming, and the ancient troubles there. "I lost a beloved son in the Plunkett invasion," said the aged father, as a tear fell. "See here," producing a hat perforated by a ball, "the bullet must have cut the band." The narrator he said he never before experienced the depth of the calamities of war-the scene was most painful. Of course, he did not avow the deed, but most deeply deplored it, although never doubting he was doing right at the time, and under the circumstances, in defending his home from the invaders.
Finding Col. Butler's position too strong to be carried by storm, Col. Plunkett concluded his rash enterprise by a retreat. On Christmas day he withdrew his troops, they marching as they had come up, on the west side of the river. In the meantime, a party of Yankees followed on the east side, with a view to capture one of the boats, but Mr. Harvey, who was a prisoner on board, calling to them not to fire, for they might injure their friends, they returned, and left the retreating army to pass down without further pursuit.
The expedition of Col. Plunkett was, in every respect in which it could be viewed, rash, and ill advised. After the resistance made in 1771, and the two previous years, when they were comparatively weak, the expulsion of the Wyoming people could not have been rationally calculated on, without a long and bloody contest. Just at the opening of the war with Great Britain, to commence a Civil War, would seem to have been extremely unwise. In the depth of winter, when the Susquehanna is usually frozen up, to rely on transporting provisions, and munitions of war in boats, appears to have been sitting every precept of prudence at defiance. We see no reason to doubt the courage of Col. Plunkett, and his men were unquestionably brave. But however zealous he and some of his troops may have been, the great body of them were extremely indisposed to adopt the harsh measures proposed against the Connecticut people. Though zealous for the rights of Pennsylvania, an impression prevailed that the Connecticut people, though in error, honestly believed their title good, and it was thought by most of them, that some peaceable mode of settling the controversy would be preferable to a resort to violence and arms. Had the Northumberland militia pursued the attack with the zeal of their commander, they would have given the Yankees, brave and determined as they might have been, infinitely more trouble, and occasioned a much heavier mutual loss of life. It is probable too, that the resolution of Congress had reached the camp, and rendered many unwilling to pursue the matter further. In recording the transaction, we cannot reframe from the expression of pleasure, that the consequences were to either, no further disastrous.
While these affairs were in progress, the colony of Connecticut had resolved to prohibit any addition being made to the settlement at Wyoming, unless under special license from the General Assembly.
Situated as the inhabitants of Westmoreland were, on the very borders of the Indian towns which spotted the upper branches of the Susquehanna, several of these villages at Tioga, Sheshequin, and Queen Esther's Flats, being in fact within the town of Westmoreland, and whose conduct already gave strong indications of hostility, this resolution prohibiting any accessions of strength to the colony, they had set out to assert and maintain their charter rights west of New York, must appear to every candid reader, as a very extraordinary character. Perhaps iat may have been done in concert with, and to quiet the apprehensions of Pennsylvania. The times demanded union. Patriotism urged the most powerful persuasiveness that every proper sacrifice should be made to assuage jealousy, and lead to concert in counsel and action. Connecticut had previously forbidden any settlement on the disputed ground, except under her authority. Two years had not elapsed, and now she positively forbids any further settlement of whatever, even under her claim, except upon special license of the assembly, not likely to be easily obtained. The keeping at home all her able-bodied man, and the wealth they might possess, to aid her in the war just commenced, it must be confessed, might have been a motive deriving some sanction from prudence and policy, but none from justice and good faith to the Wyoming settlement.
A town meeting had been held December 6th, 1775, at which among other officers, Simon Spalding was chosen constable. The fact we quote in illustration of the previous remark, namely, that there was no office so high, or low, demanding the service of any freeman, which was not promptly accepted by the principal and leading men. Every station where the public was to be served, was a station of honor. Simon Spalding soon after held a captain’s commission with distinguished honor, in the Continental Army, and was afterwards a general in the militia. The emoluments of office were a secondary consideration; to serve the country seemed to be, in those patriotic times, a hallowed duty.
But the meeting not having finished the business on which it had met, adjourned to Wednesday, the 20th of the month. Then, as the reader is aware, the whole valley was in commotion, preparing for the reception of Plunkett. But a subsequent entry is made by Ezekiel Pierce, the usual Clark. "This meeting was adjourned until Wednesday, the 20th of December, at 9 of ye o'clock in the afternoon at ye house of Mr. Jebez Sill.
"But there was no meeting by reason only ye Pennimites," etc.
Though trifling in itself, yet as we mean to hold the mirror up to nature, and reflect a true picture of those ancient times, the fact must be stated. A rivalry for power and procedure had sprung up between Kingston, or the Forty, and Wilkes-Barre. The widely extended and rich bottomlands on the west side of the river, Abraham’s Plains, and Shawney, had attracted thither a large portion of the settlers. Why should they cross the river and pay ferriage to attend town meetings in Wilkes-Barre? Aye, but Wilkes-Barre, with its superb town plot, already seeing itself a County town in perspective, thought nothing could be more reasonable and pleasant than that public business should be transacted on her side. This jealousy had led to a town vote, and it had been decided by a small majority, that a certain tree in Kingston, "ten rods north of the house of Mr. Timothy Ross, shall be the public sign post;" repealing thereby, and repudiating the tree north of Mr. Butler's, in Wilkes-Barre. Several town meetings were held in Kingston, and to the prudence of Clerks would not, or failed to, state where they were holden. At length a compromise was made, as they had excellent precedent from home, Hartford and New Haven possessing half share rights in the honor of having the General Assembly meet in their respective cities. So, too, the county courts were held alternately at the rival cities of Norwich and New London.
"Voted-That for the future the annual town meetings, and freeman's meetings shall be held, half the time on the east side of the river, and the other half on the west side of the river, for one year."
On the 29th of December, only four days after Col. Plunkett had retired, we find the whole settlement together, in "TOWN MEETING." It was in importance equal to the Wittenagemote of our Saxon ancestors. The rigid Puritanism of the times allowing few amusements, the town meeting was a matter both of business and recreation. When met the most athletic threw the bar, rolled the bullet, wrestled, standing face-to-face, the right hand on each other’s collar, the left hold on each other's elbow, the play with the feet, and the expert trip and twitch, affording a fine opportunity to display activity and skill. Or the parties took each other round the back, seizing by the waist-band, the other hands interlocked, and then came the less neat and scientific, but more arduous struggle, the result depending greatly on strength. A third mode was for two to stand at a few rods distance, and rushing in, seizing each other, and wrestled rough and tumble. Others again ran foot races, especially the lads, while some of the first in activity would run and jumped the string. William Hibberd, it is told with a sort of bold pride by the old man, would cause a twine to be stretched so high that he could pass under it, just touching his hair-then stepping back a rod or two, he would leap like a deer, so light, so airy, as scarcely to touch the earth, and clear it with ease at a bound.
Several votes were passed in consequence of the Plunkett invasion, too important to be omitted.
"That Mr. Christopher Avery be chosen Agent for this town, and to proceed forthwith to his Honor the Governor of this Colony, and lay our distressed case before him."
Obadiah Gore, Jr., was also appointed to proceed to Philadelphia, "and lay before the honorable Continental Congress, the late invasion made by the Tory party of the Pennsylvania people"
"Voted-That Titus Hinman and Perrin Ross, be appointed to collect the charity of the people for the support of the widow Baker, the widow Franklin, and the widow Ensign."
How many single men were slain, or how many more married men whose circumstances were such that their widows would not need the aid of contributions we are not informed. It is probable six or eight were killed in all, and three times that number wounded.
It is not strange that money should have been scarce at Wyoming, as no market invited and rewarded the transportation of their surplus products, but grain, it is inferred, must have been plenty, from the prices at which it was valued. A vote was passed that in payment of taxes, corn should be received at two shillings a bushel, rye at three shillings, and wheat at four shillings, that is 34, 50, and 67 cents.
So ended the memorable Plunkett invasion, and thus closed the eventful year 1775.