History of Bradford County, Pennsylvania with Biographical Sketches
By H. C. Bradsby, 1891
44 HISTORY OF BRADFORD COUNTY.
A COMPARATIVE STUDY-', THE SIMPLE ANNALS" OF THE WORLD'S REMARKABLE MEN-THE HARD SCHOOLS OF FATE THAT PRODUCED THEM-THE SILENT MEN OF THE WILDERNESS- TH FT R WORK THE SPLENDID RESULTS AND THE PAUCITY OF RESOURCES AT THEIR COMMAND-THE MEN WHO MADE EMIGRATION A SCIENCE AND BUILT AN EMPIRE FOUNDED ON THE BIBLE-THE SAXON AND THE GAUL-THE FUR TRADE-THE COUREURS DES Bois-ETC.
THE ripest scholars are realizing that the "simple annals of the poor' is the interesting and most important branch of history; and it will come to pass that the history of nations will no longer be considered written and completed when there is the long and dreary recital of the kings' and princesses' lives and the doings of the royal nursery and bedchamber, where a great era is marked by a princely birth, baptism or death; or a long account is given of wars and battles in
HISTORY OF BRADFORD COUNTY. 47
which the life and habits of the commander and his doings are the chief objects to be related in the minds of the historian. Once the history of a nation or people was but little more than a rescript of the morning court bulletins; his supreme, august majesty's menu and the commotion among the courtiers and vast army of retainers, when be opened for the day his blood-shot eyes; who had the honor of handing his supreme highness the towels; how he swore and kicked his grandmaster of the hounds; and then how the little ones were up betimes, takingtheir royal porridge from gold spoons, and such other miserable nonsense through volume after volume, to be read with consuming, all the living, and passed on t delight by o posterity as "history Kings and their households, wars and the commanders, and the bloody battles they fought, were for centuries ail that was supposed to be worth any attention from the historian. Royalty was everything, the common people nothing. The people believed implicitly, because so all were taught, that this was the order of heaven ; that fate had so ordained that one man and his household were to have and enjoy the earth, and. that all else was made to slave for and give up their lives at the whim or pleasure of this divinely-born ruler. The people were born to these monstrous beliefs, and the kin-, generally the most ignorant and superstitious of all, believed that he was sent of God to do with the lives of the people -what be listed. To be looked upon by the king was a supreme honor, to be touched by his hand was to be cured of even incurable diseases. When he rode abroad, couriers with loud bugle blasts Preceded and warned the people to clear the highway to hide themselves, and to prostrate their bodies in the dirt. The king, though often the lowest and meanest man in the realm, was immaculate, possessing all wisdom, could not sin and could do no wrong The average king and queen of history, if stripped of the miserable fictions and superstitions concerning, their lives, will be found to be a shabby lot, with hardly a redeeming quality or a gleam of superior intelligence in the whole gang. In the nature of things, in the whole of their education, it was not possible for them to be either wise or good men and women. The beliefs drilled into them, commencing even before they could lisp, were inconsistent with good sense, and, therefore, in violation of all good morals. These about royalty grew with the ages, like the boys wicked superstitions rolling a snowball, until the long sufferings of mankind became so frightful, and then the miseducated turned upon themselves, destroy and rending, one another, in the belief that it was all the results of their own wickedness and lack of faith and fealty to their "divine ruler." If here and there a genius was born, who dared to think the least bit aloud in behalf of suffering mankind, they would rush upon him like wild beasts and tear him limb from limb.
It is but a brief century or two ago when this was the belief of the generality of mankind. It was an awful sentiment to prevail throughout the half-civilized world, and the marvel will forever remain, how it was possible in such conditions that civilization could advance at all. Yet it has advanced regularly. It is still advancing, notwithstanding that there is yet a very large' contingent of men
48 HISTORY OF BRADFORD COUNTY.
making the same obstruction in its way that was so marked two centuries ago. The world slowly emerged from the dark ages-how it did so is one of the mysteries. Certainly man, like other things in creation, possesses inherent forces, that, in the long centuries, can not be resisted to evolve f rom the lower plane and spirally ascend into the purer air and the warm and better sunshine.
The story of the American immigrants--the pioneers of this continent-is by far the most important and really the most interesting of any of the great movements or the human race since the earliest dawn of history. It has remapped the entire world. Their first coming to America, so bravely leading the way for the innumerable throng to follow, was the incomparable era in history, the turning point in the long struggle between ignorance and brutal life and that blessed civilization that is now running so brightly round the world. These early pioneers were the little persecuted bands of the Old World, fleeing from inflictions far worse than death, and in their rude ships braving the dangers of the unknown seas on their way to the New World fugitives from the inappeasable wrath of their fellow-man, and especially of their divinely appointed king, they braved the treacherous elements of the waters, to land upon the shores of the cannibal savages, and the dark old forests that were alive with both wild beasts and wilder men, to beat them back or destroy them. Often there were colonies of them that had been fugitives all over Europe, and, when stripped of all earthly possessions, with nothing- more than stout hearts and resolute hopes, they came across the ocean ; forgetting home and the bones of their dead, and their native land and its childhood memories, they came to create a new civilization. They made emigration a science, and founded the earth's greatest empire upon the old family Bible that they had so carefully kept and guarded in their long wandering. These little bands, from Florida to Massachusetts, made Their landings at points along the shore. Their first concern was a church service, to thank God for the free air they at last were permitted to breathe. These little colonies sometimes utterly perished from the earth, but there were others to take their places and carry on the battle against savagery. What odds, apparently, were against them in this contest, and yet how these feeble beginnings have so quickly conquered and overrun the continent! The savage man and beast, sickness in its multiple form of new and strange diseases, the absence of all ces to help the grim and hardy old pioneers, were some of theresour obstacles that they set about overcoming.
The circumstances required religious, earnest, brave and hardy men, and such they were supremely. They were made to want freedom because of their cruel persecutions at the hands of their fellow-man. Such an age would naturally create a new and distinct race of men, because man adjusts himself to his environments, and herein in this victory over the vast wilderness was the victory of all mankind, and it has given us the historical era in the movements. the advances and recoils of the human mind.
These people had their strong prejudices and mastering superstitions, and perhaps, in their times and circumstances, it were best it
HISTORY OF BRADFORD COUNTY. 49
should be so. They came from the Old World where these things were intrenched in the deep and hopeless ignorance of the masses. They were the first people in the world who in moral affairs looked to God, and in all else looked to themselves. Self-reliance and those nobler qualities of a nobler manhood could only come of such a school. With energies ever alert, and senses whetted to the keenest edge, they slept upon their arms, and from the cradle to the venerable grandsire everyone learned to do picket duty over his own life. Their lives are the evidence that the highest possible acquirement of a people is that self-reliance and robust manhood that quails before nothing that is mortal.
This was the first loosening movement of men of those bonds that bound our remotest ancestors to the blind faith and adoration of their kings or rulers-that species of national fetich for the stupid or brutal born king-which grew up in all men's hearts, and that seemed to multiply as the royal master descended in the scale of life. Whether it were the now-born babe-a little, animated bundle of scrofula or inherited blood disease-or whether it were some coarse monster, a moral leper, idiot or madman, it was all the same; be was their national fetich, and the meaner he was, it seems, the more sacred he became.
The first arrivals on American soil that came here for homes and havens from the cruelties they had left behind, no doubt, were but little aware, either of the permanent effects to come of their movement, or of the deep causes that impelled them. Indeed, they felt that their loyalty to the king was unabated. Thank God, in this one thing they builded better than they knew; otherwise we would have had no Revolution, no Washington or Patrick Henry, no liberating of men's minds and bodies from the cruel thrall of the dreary past.
The results that come as the effects of men's lives are the only tests by which we can measure the great and small. When we add to this test a consideration of the resources each one had at command then in the history of the race, where is there a people to compare with the American pioneer? This silent man of the unbroken solitude, this man of great action and of little speech, this unwritten hero, came and went with no trumpet's blast and blare, no note of fame, no shouting rabble nor train of flatterers-indeed with no other thought but that he was of no more consequence to the great world at large than the wild game he pursued and killed; yet in his greatest obscurity and humility he stood side by side with many of the world's celebrities, how incomparably would he rise above them.
Our young school children learn to look with interest at the rather cheap wood-cut in the old school books, representing Napoleon on his white horse, his martial cloak fluttering in the breeze, as at the head of his army he is seen crossing the Alps. He is the "Young Corsican," the " Little Corporal," the "Great Emperor," at the bead of his invincible army and its fluttering eagles, on his mission of death and woe, conquering and subjugating the world by sword and fire. Kings were his playthings, and empire was his booty. It was new and plebian blood among the effete and nerveless royal breeding nests of the Old World. In his earlier and the better part of this wanderer's career
50 HISTORY OF -BRADFORD COUNTY.
the bluest blood from the longest line of royal ancestors was no more to him than that of the humblest soldier of the line. We can not know the bounds of this man's original ambition. Whatever it was, there is but little doubt that in time it changed, and instead of being the world's liberator he would be its conqueror and oppressor. No man has ever yet met and missed so great an opportunity as did Napoleon. Had he devoted his genius to the true welfare of man kind-li berated them, and then by his military power forced them to accept the liberation and to recast their thoughts on the subject of every man's right to absolute liberty, instead of driving to the one mean and low thing of becoming the great emperor, of simply destroying existing dynasties to supplant them with yet more cruel ones, how different might the story of Europe have been to what it is now. How radically different might have been the memory of himself left as the world's legacy. If this man ever were great, lie fell from that high estate, perished ignobly, and is now literally nothing to the world. Had Napoleon been smothered in his cradle, it would have been no loss to mankind. His life was not great, because it was not good. He cared Only for his own aggrandizement, and was indifferent as to the cost to mankind. It was a feverish, turbulent life, ending, as it deserved, in wreck and ruin, and the drunken Parisian mob, when it toppled over the great mausoleum that held his remains, were nearer in accord with the eternal fitness of things than were the mistaken authorities who in taxed the poor unpaid laborers of France to build the glittering obelisk. There is man a costly marble or granite pile standing guard over the moldering remains of some of the world's most conspicuous shams and frauds. To the clear-eyed man they are mere sores and blotches on the fair face of the earth, the ugly evidences of so much unpaid or slave labor, and are so many wretched object lessons to teach the young minds to meanly admire a mean thing
No monuments, mausoleums, tall shafts, halls or great art buildings have ever yet been reared to the memory of the original pioneers of America. The most of them sleep in long forgotten graves ; in the deep woods, on the mountain-side, by the bubbling spring, at the outer edge of the ancient "clearin'," anywhere that was most convenient, were buried these men as they felt with their faces toward the common enemy Of civilization, scalped so often by the savage, and left to the wild animals, and their scattered bones carried to the dens of ravening beasts. These heroes were standing picket- guards for the oncoming civilization, for us, and the comforts and luxuries we now enjoy. In the ceaseless struggle that was going on, there was not even time to stop and mourn over the fallen brave, but as one would go down there in time were two to take his place. How far nobler were the aim and end of these humble men's lives than was that of Napoleon! His was to conquer, enslave and destroy by fire and sword. Theirs was to reclaim, to make us homes, to lift up our civilization, and bring peace and permanent happiness; to supplant savagery with gentle intelligence, and build the empire of thought over the ruins of brute force.
Here are the results of the unwritten, obscurest of men's lives placed side by side with the world's great military hero, the subject
HISTORY OF BRADFORD COUNTY. 51
somewhat stripped of this unreasoning adoration of the world's average fetich It is the contrast of the truly noble by the side of the admired and ignoble. It is the attempt, however feeble it may be, to direct the thoughts of men into higher and better channels. It is one of the true lessons of real history. It is worth imprinting on the minds of the young, and should be blazoned on the walls of the school-rooms, and hung, in the balls and porches of the great institutions of learning.
To produce such a grand race of men required a long course of preliminary preparation. Their love of freedom and their hatred of tyranny, their stubborn and resolute natures, to rising above that feeling of helpless dependence upon assumed superiors; that peculiar frame of mind that dared anywhere and upon every emergency to rely upon itself and its own inherent resources, where no aid could come from others,. where there were none of the arts or helps of civilization to call upon in sickness, in hunger, in death or birth - no church, school, physician, blacksmith, mills, no nothing, save the implacable foes that fairly rose up out of the earth in legions to Oppose his coming. The swarms of parasite and venomous insects, the rattling, hissing reptiles spotted with deadly beauty ; the howls of the hungry wolves, the piercing screams of the panthers, and the savage war-whoops that oft woke the sleep of the cradle, were some of the things against which were raised the bare hands of the white man. Had these men stopped to count the odds against them, they surely would never have come-flying from present ills to those we know not of, and they did not stop, but, fearless and unconquerable, they moved ever to the front, shoulder to shoulder, silent and resistless.
Mostly it is to the severe religious persecutions that three centuries ago overran Europe that we owe the people that came and the conquering or the New World. This severe and bloody era was much of the preparatory school that bred the virile races of men destined to conquer and possess the wilderness, and cause it to bloom in peaceful civilization. The y were in the hunt of homes and the free temples of God, to worship and adore the Heavenly Master with none to molest or make afraid. Here are now some of the results of these long and cruel persecutions. They were the fiery ordeals that brought forth the men and women, equipped for the great work that lay before them.
The Old World was sadly and cruelly governed, and of all these the bloodiest was that of Great Britain. Here were the peculiar, strong people, made to oppress, and to resist. On the one side full of the spirit of revolt, On the other simply savage and pitiless in repression. Wild and unreasoning in their adoration and fealty to the crowned bead, yet those rugged, wild, carousing, old barons would lay down their lives for the king as readily to-day as they would chop off his head to morrow. Among no Other people in the world's history would the nasal-twanged fanatic, Cromwell, and his terrible following, have been possible. He was the noblest fetich smasher, particularly that ancient and deep delusion of "the divinity of kings," that has appeared since creation began. He enjoyed beheading kings and princelets, shooting lords and confiscating their landed estates, and he
52 HISTORY OF BRADFORD COUNTY.
picked up tinkers, hostlers, scavengers, anybody, the lower in the old order of society the better, in the hunt for men, real men without the tinsel trappings, and made them premiers, judges, chancellors and high state officers, and his psalm-singing praying army was a flaming word and the fiery blast. Think of the man as you may, yet who can withhold some meed of praise and admiration for the sovereign contempt with which he kicked over the nation's idols, the assumed human divinities, bowed to by the nation as fetiches? Cromwell's school was the seed of America, its possession and independence.
Back in the Old World, its travails, its persecutions and its bloody schools were laid the preparations and making possible North America, and to-day, here as everywhere and in all time, are effects following causes.
The Saxon and the Gaul, impelled by the same motives, came in parallel lines, crossed and re-crossed each other's paths in the wilderness. The immigrants to the New World were at first hired into the deeper forests by the fur trade, and the glittering wealth from this source was the incentive that bore along that wave of humanity that has covered finally the continent from shore to shore. The French about Quebec were originally the most successful in getting the fur trade. Among them grew up a remarkable class of men known to history as the coureurs des bois-translated-" travelers of the woods." The peculiar times as well as people were necessary to produce this distinct class of men They were land sailors, and something of their remains may now be seen among the western cow-boys of the plains. They were young Frenchmen who had come to or had grown up in this country, who upon the slightest taste of nomadic life in the wilderness were enchanted by it, and they threw off the stern morals of the churchmen who were in control of Canada, and repelled by austerity at home and allured by absolute freedom toward the wild wood, they practically abandoned civilized life and adopted that of the wild man.
They traveled, did these brave pioneers, among the Indians, learned their ways of capturing game and living, and these brave and hardy young men soon became much as naked barbarians. Their long light bark canoes shot around the bends of the rivers, floated along the currents of the smaller streams, or were carried over the portage here and there ; they struck into the dark old woods, scaled the steepest hills and passed over the tallest mountains, and to every tribe and Indian village they traveled and were welcomed for the bright trinkets and fire water that they exchanged for pelts and furs. Sailor-like, these voyagers in the woods married squaws with great impartiality in nearly every tribe and village after the Indian fashion. The Indian law required the purchase of wives for an agreed time, and these rollicking young outlaws no doubt often for a single colored glass bead completed the wedding trade for as many days as they would remain trading at that particular place. They in time could equal. if not excel, the Indian in making the light canoe, and then in handling it on the water. They were expert hunters and marksmen with the long old-style match-lock guns, and they could make and use the bow and arrow. They spoke the Indian language, and in meeting a new tribe with a now language
HISTORY OF BRADFORD COUNTY. 53
they could readily by signs make their wants understood by the strangers. They learned the streams and the country well, and were familiar with the Susquehanna and its branches for nearly a century before the pioneer settlers followed them to possess and hold it. While the authorities at Quebec were greatly scandalized by the immoral and reckless lives of these men, and enacted severe laws against them, ,yet they increased in numbers and were the builders of the fur trade that came to be the chief concern of the contending English and French at one time. These voyagers built up an important trade, as well as being the first to visit nearly every part of the unknown land. They would load their canoes with the little provision necessary, Ind the trinkets to trade and go out on their fifteen months' expedition, and return laden with valuable furs. These they would sell to the merchants, and then in a few days' drunken debauch spend the entire proceeds, often selling the last rag of new clothes they had purchased on their arrival, and when everything was gone go to the trader and on credit get their meager supplies and outfit, and start on another fifteen months' expedition. Their commissary supplies were hominy and bear's grease-a bushel of lye hominy and two pounds of grease was a month's subsistence. To this meager fare they added but little of such as they could readily get, and on it fared abundantly. When the adjustments of war came, these coureurs were the nucleus of armies that could successfully contend with the cunning and scattered savages in the forests and the swamps.