History of Bradford County, Pennsylvania with Biographical Sketches
By H. C. Bradsby, 1891
HISTORY OF BRADFORD COUNTY. 39
MISSIONARIES AND TRADERS.
THE FIRST WHITE MEN HERE-COUREURS DES BOIS-HUNTERS-THE MORAVIAN MISSIONARIES-ETC.
IT is now more than one hundred and fifty-three years since the first white man passed up the Susquehanna, following the windings of the river, and looked out over this beautiful valley. The waters of the streams were filled with shining fish, and the old dark forests were full of game. The great flat tops of the Towanda mountains had their gentle declivities sweeping away in graceful curves and windings to the soft, hazy, blue distance. Over all are the great hemlock trees, the mountain ash and the graceful pines, the more stubborn oaks, the thick groves of sumac and the climbing vines, all bending and bowing to the breeze, and clothed in green and bright flowers in the budding spring and in the rich colorings of the rainbow in the mild autumn. Here how beautiful and picturesque was all nature-the
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ever-changing panorama of the seasons unfolding in entrancing visions! In the winter when the old gnarled trees bared their arms to meet the severest winter storms, and the driven snow softly wrapped in its white mantle the earth, folding it away for the winter's long sleep and quiet, and then the spring when the earth is fretted with sprouting and the buds and flowers and leaves begin their low lullaby, and the earth and air are again vocal with joyous life, and then come the birds of delicious song from their far south wintering-the low distant drumming of the pheasant, the 11 gobble, gobble, gobble," of the enormous bronze-wild turkeys, the merry mating song of the golden winged blackbirds, the chattering magpies, the hoarse croak of the crane, and the merry clatter of the wild ducks and geese, were answered by the nearly human scream of the striped, panther and the sharp yells of the ever-hungry and savage wolf. In the rivers and the crystal mountain streams the shining fish disported themselves, and the beautiful shad, in great schools of many millions, would leave the salt sea and ascend to the headwaters of the Susquehanna to deposit their eggs; and the beaver in all his sleek cunning built his dams across the streams and thereon his winter houses, side by side with the sleek otter, and on land his fur-bearing conqueror, the bear patiently hunted out the stores of the wild bees and grew rolling fat and laughed at the gorgeous springtime that came after his long winter's sleep in his dark and damp cave.
These mountains and hills had slowly risen from the unfathomed depths of the sea, their rocky beads dripping with waters of the briny deep; slowly, stupendously they rose, then were dry rocky cliffs, and the rains and the winds, the beat and the cold beat upon them and the rocks turned to ashes, and from the first delicate mosses clinging to the hard stones gradually came this forest giant crowning in glory the hill tops, penetrating the low clouds and protecting the humbler vines and heavy undergrowth, filling the earth with insect and animal life and the air with birds of radiant plumage, caroling their songs to the deep blue heavens.
Thus passed the golden summer with its ripened fruits and brown nuts-nature's bounty to all animal life. And then the sere and yellow leaf of autumn, the first frost, and lo, what an entrancing vision of beauty spreads out over the great old hills and the sweeping valleys The season of the festival of the foliage is here in its annual visit In banks and billows rolling up the mountain side, soft and rich in all the tintings of the rainbow blending away in the distance with the clouds beyond and spreading down to the silvery mountain stream far below.
And the four seasons have come and gone, and thus the centuries and ages were reeled off with nothing here in beautiful Bradford to appreciate all this natural wealth and beauty more than the fish, the bird and the wild beasts and the wilder and fiercer savages.
In the fulness of time to this new and beautiful region came the ever wandering white man-the "pale face" as he was described by the natives; the wandering home-seeker abroad upon the face of the earth; the fugitive from the, Old World Persecution, the bloodiest and
HISTORY OF BRADFORD COUNTY. 41
most pitiless that has ever struck poor suffering men women and even little children. Stripped of his goods, and striped -with the lash, broken on wheels and nailed up in barrels filled with spikes, blown up with hand-bellows to the most intolerable torture; thrown in dungeons, and clamp prison walls, tortured for confessions to madness, their tongues cut out, their ears cut off, and branded with hot irons and burned over slow fires of a few green fagots, so slow and so infernal that the poor creatures would struggle and bury their chains deep in the flesh to get their faces down close to the smoke that they might hurry the prolonged death agony to an end. These horrible sufferings came to these poor fugitives in the name of the Heavenly Father and His meek and Lowly Son, who suffered and died that A men might be saved. Whole communities and large classes of people were driven from country to country in the East, because they were heretics; one country would drive out the Moors from Spain; the Jews from France, and thus from every district in the Old World communities were exterminated by persecution or became flying fugitives before the inappeasible wrath of their fellow-men. As the last hope the poor unfortunates turned their faces toward America and in the frail barks steered into the deep waters, and the calms and storms of the elements were welcomed with prayers and hymns to the Almighty for their escape from their pursuers-the victims of the cruelest fanaticism that has ever darkened the face of the earth. The escape from the Old to the New-from the lands of churches and civilization to that of the wilderness and savagery. They came with their. immigrant chests and the old black family clasp-bibles, in the heart of home and religious freedom. Poor in this world's goods, rich only in their deep and abiding religious faith. Landing upon these shores, these deep religious men erected their altars, and commenced the supreme work of founding the new empire. They made immigration a science; founded a new civilization and builded the State whose foundation rested upon the Bible. Their surroundings at their old home, the circumstances enfolding them in the wilderness, in the end distinguished them as the most remarkable people in all the annals of history. They became savagely religious, unconquerably brave, and fiercely dogmatic, as they daily read their family Bible and spelled out the syllables with horrid pronunciation accepted even detached sentences in the most literal sense, and then girded about their loins with the flaming sword of Gideon, ready to inflict upon heretics the same pitiless persecutions that bad driven them in their poverty and utter wretchedness from their homes and their native lands. They were as brave and hardy as they were cruel and inconsistent against what they esteemed an error of faith. The North American pioneer is the unequaled character in all time and all ages. A crude bundle of inconsistencies, a power, nevertheless, something like the volcanic forces beneath the earth's surface. Hardly pausing where be first struck the sea coast, he planted the outpost, dressed himself in the skins of the wild animals he had slaughtered, shouldered his Iong flint-lock rifle, and pushed his way into the deepest forests, and westward the star of empire forged its way. A terrible bundle of incongruities and inconsistencies
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-too intense in his faith even to be merciful, so overflowing with doctrinal religion, his visions fixed on heaven, fearing nothing mortal, and hating everyone who crossed in the least any of his dogmas, lie forgot all gratitude, and with studied guile and craft lie would circumvent and strike to the heart his only benefactor. The pioneers, the silent men, the avant-coureurs of the most remarkable movement of mankind in all history-the miracle of miracles. What secret force was it that ever pushed this wandering nomad on and o'er, across the seas, the rivers and the mountains, across the continent?
So far as we can now find the record evidence, the first man who was ever in what is now Bradford county was Conrad Weiser, an Indian interpreter. He was on his way to attend a council of the -Iroquois, or the Five Nations, at Onondaga, and passed up the Susquehanna river, its entire length from the bay, and reached Tioga, the Indian town at the junction of the Chemung and Susquehanna rivers, March 29, 1737. This place was the "door"' to the Indian tribes to the north in New York, and here the traveler stopped several days and noted many of the peculiarities of the Indians. His journal of his trip was the first known to the world of the north branch of the winding, river that passes through the entire State of Pennsylvania. He was received with marked kindness, and partook of the food prepared by the great chief's bride, even eating it with the relish of a keen appetite after witnessing the mode of its preparation. He sums up his description of the settlement as consisting "of a few people, and all hungry," their chief food being the juice of the sugar tree. For a healthy person, who has camped out all his life, that was rather a delicate diet.
This is the oldest record of the coming here of a white man, yet it assuredly is not the fact that there were none of the 11 pale faces" 'Who preceded Weiser. The lower portion or mouth of the Susquehanna river had been known to the whites more than one hundred years before Weiser came on his trip. The explorers, trappers and hunters, those restless busy, men who were spying out every nook and corner of the new continent, must have followed up so important a stream as the Susquehanna years and years before this man passed through here on his mission to the Onondaga council. It was years after the interpreter came, 1755, that Lewis Evans published the first crude map of the "Middle British Colonies;" in this was the outlines of what is now Bradford county, as well as this portion of northern Pennsylvania and southern New York. The Indians had seen the pale faces" before Weiser brought his here. His appearance was not regarded by them as either supernatural or even remarkable. They could converse with him as be understood their jargon, and could use signs, grunts and gestures that were much of the common language among the various tribes.
In 1743, John Bartram, a noted English botanist, in company with Conrad Weiser, and Indians as guides, and Lewis Evans traveled from Philadelphia to Onondaga- leaving the former place July 3d-and they describe the 11 terrible Lycoming wilderness" through which they passed with much weary labor and suffering, as they slowly ascended
HISTORY OF BRADFORD COUNTY. 43
the river over the same route the guide Weiser had learned well in his previous trip. These parties passed on beyond Onondaga to the lakes. These men traveled on horseback, and so far as is now known were the first who had come with horse transportation.
In 1745, Spangenburg and Zeisberger, missionaries of the Moravian Church, made a visit to the Indians along the Susquehanna river. They reached the Wyalusing village, June 11th. They, like the other visitors, were simply travelers on their way to the New York Indian Confederacy, whose headquarters were at Onondaga.
Three years after this, in August, 1748, the Nanticoke Indians came up the river from the eastern shore of Maryland. A portion of this tribe stopped at the mouth of Towanda creek. They cleared small patches of ground, and the squaws planted and raised corn in the Indian fashion-planting year after 'year in the same hills, the only part of the soil they disturbed in their primitive agriculture.
Zeisberger returned to Philadelphia, and two years, later induced Bishop Cammerhoff to accompany him on an expedition to Onondaga. He had deeply interested his superior in the church work along the beautiful Susquehanna Like the other expeditions, they traveled all the way to Onondaga, making only brief stops at the many small villages along the banks of the stream. All this time these travelers bivouacked under the twinkling stars, or sought cover in the rude wigwams or the natives, subsisting upon the game that felt in their way, or partaking of the not very delicate viands of the savage repasts. They had become inured to the hard life of 'travelers in the "terrible wilderness."
William Penn, the great and pure man, had made his treaty in 1682 with the Indians, at Shackamaxon, and then for more than sixty years the province was at peace with the savages, and the friendliest intercourse existed between these two peoples. When this good man had long passed away, his Christian reaching had been forgotten, and the year that Weiser appeared as a traveler along the Susquehanna, 1737, the arts of deception and diplomacy were introduced in the trades for the Indian lands. Grasping at the possession of the lands and recklessness of honesty or integrity of their agents became a flagrant part of the intercourse with these simple children of the woods. The walking purchases," in which lands were measured by walks, began to be used to cheat outrageously. The Delawares refused to recognize a treaty for their possessions of this kind, and would not remove from their lands. These were some of the first symptoms of what followed. soon after, and is known in our history as the French war, in which the Indians sided with the French and -were the tools of some of the bloodiest massacres in colonial times. After the defeat of Braddock in July, 1755, the whole frontier blazed out in war. In terrible fury the savages poured down upon the scattered defenseless settlers of the frontier. Some of the noted Indians who had been baptized into the church by the Moravian missionaries, apostatized and turned upon the people in implacable hatred. The Bradford county Indians, although some of them, it was supposed, had now become exemplary Christians, especially those at Wyalusing, joined in the war upon the whites and
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forgot all Christian precepts as well as their friendship for the pale faces.
The Pontiac war, the most noted in the annals of troubles with Indians, broke upon the country in 1763. Northern Pennsylvania was then the border settlement, the most exposed always to the fierce marauds of the savages.
In May, 1760, Christian Fredrick Post, a Polish Prussian, and missionary of the Moravian Church, arrived at Papunhauk's village (Wyalusing), and preached the next day. This was the first sermon, so far as we can know, ever preached in the county. This place had rival chief men, Papunhauk and Job Chillaway--the latter speaking English fluently. They were Christians, and the Moravian Church sent to that place a missionary, Zeisberger accompanied by a man named Anthony. Zeisberger was recalled to Bethlehem in 1763. The Moravian converts at Wyalusing, were taken to Bethlehem for protection from the raiders who were devastating the country. After the Pontiac war these good Indians returned, and the intrepid missionary, Zeisberger, accompanied by a man named Smick and his wife, returned to Wyalusing, where they were permanently stationed in charge of the Indian Church. The place was now renamed-Friedenhutten huts of peace."
Another Moravian mission was at Sheshequin, at the mouth of Cash creek, where were a few families of the Monsey Indians. This place was reckoned a day's journey from Wyalusing. Rev. Roth was the stationed missionary at this place. On August 4, 1771, his wife gave birth to a child. This is said to be the first white child born in Bradford county.