The Reverend Mr. David Craft
PREVIOUS to the date mentioned at the head of this chapter, less than one hundred families of white people had come into this county, for the purpose of making for themselves a home. These, for the most part, were located on the flats which occur at intervals along the river, where the lands had been cleared by the Indians for their corn-patches, though fertile, was easy of cultivation. With but few exceptions, the settlements were confined to the Susquehanna company’s townships of Springfield, Standing Stone and Claverack.
About the year 1710, a large number of Palatines, people of one of the German states, were induced to emigrate into the province of New York, where many of them were placed to the westward of the British settlements, which they were intended to shield from the incursions of the warlike Mohawks. Many of these emigrants, becoming dissatisfied with their location and with the treatment they received from the New York authorities, removed to Pennsylvania, in which large numbers of Palatines had begun to settle as early as 1727.
At first their route was down the Delaware; but the short and easy portage from the Mohawk, where their principal settlements were established, to the head of the Susquehanna, soon made this to be preferred to the former route. It is probable these hardy Germans were the first white people to navigate our river, for as early as 1737 Conrad Weiser found some of them at Wyoming, trying to buy lands of the Indians. Of these emigrants, Rudolph Fox with his family stopped at Towanda, and Peter Shoefelt* at Frenchtown, and were the first white people who undertook to make a permanent home in the county, having settled here in the month of May, 1770.†
* Written Sheufelt in the Documentary History of New York.
† The settlements made by the Palatines in Schoharie, New York, consisted of seven “dorfs” or villages, which were each presided over by a head man or commissary, whose duty it was to enroll his men, make careful reports from time to time of the changes in his dorf, and make requisitions for the supplies necessary for their wants. These people, as we learn, were patriotic citizens, possessing largely those sterling qualities, good common sense, sympathy, honor, and a spirit of bravery in a just cause. Of these seven head men William Fox was one; and Simms, in his “History of Schoharie,” p. 50, says, “Fox’s dorf was next to Smith’s, north, and took its name from William Fox, its leading man. He settled about a mile from Smith, in the vicinity of Fox’s creek, so called after him.” This creek, which empties into the Schoharie river, and this town, are often mentioned throughout the work. Rudolph, a descendant of his, emigrating down the Susquehanna, was the first permanent white settler in this county.
Soon after this, explorers under the Susquehanna company began to make their appearance up the river, looking out favorable locations for settlements; and previous to the migration of the Moravian Indians, surveyors were running out land, both for the company and for the Proprietaries of Pennsylvania. In the Wyalusing mission diary, under date of May 10, 1769, is the following entry:
“Mr. Anderson and two surveyors came up from Wyomik in order to survey at Mescheschung, Towwandaeming, and also Sheshequanink, and on their return, at Tuscarora. For whom the survey was to be made they said they did not know.”
June 10, 1769—“Mr. Anderson and Mr. Stewart, with three of his men, arrived in order to survey Wyalusing for Mr. William Smith, of Lancaster county, of which Job Chillaway told us in the afternoon. Hereupon, Job, Joshua, and John went to Mr. Stewart, and told him that this could not be allowed, as the governor and secretary had told them in March, at Philadelphia, that Wyalusing was reserved for the Indians. Stewart, the surveyor, immediately came up from the river to see me, and said that he had orders to survey Wyalusing, but some Indians had forbid him, but added, ‘I will desist, and as I am going to Philadelphia, I will report how matters stand here.’ He left us with goodwill after being at our chapel. He wanted us to enquire at once, as in August he was coming again to measure land.”
Although traders and adventurers frequently, in passing up and down the river, stopped for a short time at the various Indian villages, no further attempts were made towards effecting permanent settlements within the bounds of the county until the spring of 1774, when a few of the proprietors of the Susquehanna company came up and made pitches at various points along the river, and had surveyed for themselves and their associates the Long township, including Standing Stone and Wyalusing. Among these were James Wells and Robert Carr, at Wyalusing; Edward Hicks, at Sugar Run; Benjamin Budd, at Terrytown; the Van Valkenbergs and Stropes, at Misiscum; Anthony Rummerfield, at Rummerfield; Lemuel Fitch, at Standing Stone, and John Lord at the lower Sheshequin, and perhaps a few others.
This year, 1774, a French gentleman, who signs himself St. John de Creve Cœur, in company with an Indian escort, passed up the river from Wilkes-Barre to Anaquaga, and thus describes the country*: “There are sixteen districts from the line of their (the Connecticut people’s) claim to the bounds of Wyolusing, seven on the west side of the river, viz., Wapwallapen, Sisshiney, Shawney, Lackawaney, Exeter, Mahapaney, Wyolusing; nine on the east side, to wit, Aldentown, Nanticoke, Wioming, Pittstown, Coupas, Tanhanock, on the banks of a stream of the same name, Mashapi, Standing Stone, Wyssack. These districts all have an extent more or less considerable on the river, depending upon the proximity of the mountains, the breadth of the plains, and the fertility of the woodlands. The most narrow extend to both sides of the river. We arrived on the fifth day at Wyolusing, situated ninety miles from Wilkesbury. It is a plain of considerable extent, and of great fertility. I observed that the blue grass had been replaced by white clover, with which the pastures were covered. There were as yet only a very few families living here. Their cattle were of great beauty. The savages were anxious to get home, we therefore left this place the next morning. Passing up the river, they showed me the remains of the ancient villages of the Senecas—Sissusing (Sheshequin?), Teogo, Shamond (Chemung), Ockwackao (Owego), Shenando, etc. In fine, after three days’ navigation, always against the current, we landed at Anaquaga, one hundred and ninety-eight miles from Wilkesbury.”
* Paris Ed. I., pp. 202, 203
The reader will observe that in the above description Wyalusing is located on the west side of the river. On the map which accompanies it, Wyalusing is marked as lying on both sides of the river, including the plains on the east, and reaching from Rocky Forest to Frenchtown on the west. That this whole country was known by the old people as Wyalusing is also evident from the narrative of Mrs. Budd, given in the following pages, in which she describes her home, which was at Terrytown, as being in Wyalusing.
Some of the grants made by the Proprietaries to their friends of lands in the county having been located and surveyed as early as 1775, a few from the neighborhood of Philadelphia came, either as lessees or tenants, upon these lands, for the purpose of keeping off intruders and holding the claim for the grantees. Of this class was Philip Fox, who must not be confounded with the Fox family at Towanda, settled at Fairbanks, Caspar Hoover nearly opposite, on the Dodge farm, at the upper end of Terrytown, and perhaps others.
Henry Pawling, a wealthy gentleman of Providence, in what is now Montgomery county, having purchased of Job Chillaway the Wyalusing plains, also four rights in the Susquehanna company, which were located on part of the same land, his three sons—Benjamin, Jesse, and William—settled on it probably the same year (1775). Isaac Hancock came with them as tenant and housekeeper; Richmond Berry and a man by the name of Page were laborers on the plantation. The Pawlings were young men without families, who, from their wealth and social position, were well known throughout the county. Hancock, Berry, and Page each had families.
In 1777 the farms in Springfield lying on the river were all taken up, and settlements were established on the Wyalusing creek above Camptown, and on the river at Asylum, Standing Stone, Macedonia, Wysauking, Towanda, Lower Sheshequin, and perhaps at Sugar Creek.
In Wilmot, besides Philip Painter, Leonard Lott was settled on the Gamble place. Above, at the mouth of Sugar Run, Hicks had sold to Prince Bryant, and he to Benjamin Eaton, April 1, 1777, who lived there until the spring of 1778. William Crooks lived above on the Horton place, on the lots drawn by William McKarrichan, Esq., of Hannover.
In Wyalusing, the Pawlings, Hancock, Berry, and Page lived on the site of the old Moravian Indian town; Isaiah Pasco probably next above, on a lot owned by Elihu Williams; James Wells and his family next above, near where the old Foley house formerly stood; Nathan Kingsley, in the old house still standing a few rods north of the railroad depot; Amos York, on the farm lately owned by John Hollenback, deceased, and his nephew Miner Robbins near him. Captain Robert Carr had sold his lots on the north side of the Wyalusing creek to James Forsyth, and he to Abraham Bowman. Ephraim Taylor was living on the creek on the farm lately owned by Justus Lewis, deceased; William Dunn above him, near Mr. Cleaveland’s; Benjamin and Stephen Skiff on the Jonas Ingham farm, still farther up the creek, on a pitch made by ------ Staples; Justus Gaylord, the elder, with his family, were settled at the Old Misiscum. Besides these there were in the township Josiah Dewey, Caleb Atherton, Jacob Burt, a man named Winters, and John Segar; the latter probably a tenant of William Kinsley’s, in the lower part of Browntown.
At Terrytown were Benjamin Budd and his family, including for a time his three sons, John, Joseph, and Asa, and Parker Wilson.
In Asylum, Peter Shoefelt had removed to the West Branch, and James Forsythe was living at Frenchtown, Samuel Ketchum on the farm now owned by William Storrs, and Samuel Cole, with his family, Jacob Bruner, and Stephen Sarah at Macedonia.
In Standing Stone, Anthony Rummerfield was on the creek which bears his name; Simon Spalding, Lemuel Fitch, the four Van Alstynes, Henry Birney, Charles Angar, John Pencil, and Adam Simmons above him at various places below the York narrows.
In Wysox the Van Valkenbergs and Stropes were living near the Wysauking creek, William Nelson on the Lanning place, Isaac Larraway and his son, Isaac Larraway, Jr., on the flats nearly opposite Towanda, and Samuel Showers near them.
On the Towanda flats Jacob Bowman had moved near Mr. Fox, while Capt. John Bartles had settled, or at least made a pitch, above them towards Monroeton, and probably John Neeley at Greenwood.
At Sheshequin, on the Gore place, John Lord had settled, but had sold his possession to William Stewart; whether he continued to live there or not is uncertain. Mrs. Whittaker speaks of a family living at Sheshequin, but does not give their names.
John Secord, with his family and sons, James and Cyrus, lived at Tioga Point.
Although of different nationalities, holding lands under adverse titles, and of diverse opinions, tastes, and habits, the inhabitants lived together in peace and quietude, without law, without peace-officers, without courts; and having no need of any. In the retirement and simplicity of their forest homes, removed at a distance of more than fifty miles from the lower settlements, their wants were few and easily supplied. Game was abundant in the forests, the river and creeks swarmed with fish, the samp mortars were their mills, the skins of wild animals furnished clothing for the men, and the loom, which was an essential part of the furniture of each household, enabled the housewife to secure the necessary fabrics to clothe the women and children. Occasionally some trader would come up with a boat-load of articles which would be exchanged for corn and peltry, and now and then one or two in the neighborhood would take a canoe-load of grain to Wilkes-Barre to mill for flour and fine meal to be used on extra occasions. With his axe the pioneer constructed his log house, which he covered with bark, and made the furniture, which was in keeping with the rude simplicity around him. All occupied the same social level and mingled in the same social enjoyments, aided each other in their labors, and shared with each other in the fruits of their toil. The picture given by one of their number of the domestic comfort and joy in these retired homes is one now rarely met with.
In a new and sparsely-settled community, as this was at that time, we look in vain for anything like an organized condition of society. The people were getting ready to live. Each was fully occupied in providing for present needs and future necessities. Erecting log houses and barns, clearing up little patches of ground for meadow and grain-fields, marking out the lines of their claims, and building fences constituted all the improvements they were able to make. The solitary exception to this was a saw-mill commenced by Anthony Rummerfield, but which he was unable to finish. Schools they had none, and of stores there was no need. Rev. Jacob Johnson, of Wilkes-Barre, is said to have visited here a few times and preached an occasional sermon.
At Wyalusing, in the autumn of 1776, Aholiab Buck, of Kingston, married Lucretia, daughter of Amos York, which doubtless was an occasion for happy greetings and good cheer for all the country round; while in the same family the death of one son and the birth of another brought alternate sorrow and joy to the household, and aroused the sympathies of the community in their mingling with the gladness or in their ministrations to sufferings of their neighbor’s home.
But war thrust its ruthless plowshare through this garden of peace, and upturned opposing sentiments and evil passions, which bred animosities and feuds that not only put an end to the peace but ultimately to the very existence of the settlements.
At the beginning of the Revolutionary war quite a number of persons settled about Exeter and Tunkhannock became dissatisfied with the measures instituted by the Whigs of Wyoming, were branded as Tories, and threatened with arrest; to escape which they forsook the lower settlements and came to this county, where they would be farther from the circumspection of the Whigs, and nearer and more serviceable to their friends. Among these were the Secords, Jacob Anguish, and George Kentner. Here they were looked upon with suspicion and distrust by the decided Whigs, with commiseration by the more conservative, and received aid and sympathy from others whose sentiments of loyalty to the British crown were decided and outspoken.
The quiet and prudent among the settlers had hoped that peaceable measures would prevail among them. They were exposed to immediate danger in case the war should be transferred from the coast to the interior. They were just on the confines of the Indian country, and must necessarily suffer the horrors and cruelties incident to border warfare if the savages violated their pledge of neutrality. They were about equally divided in sentiment among themselves, as many being favorable to the Crown as were in sympathy with Congress. Every consideration of prudence would seem to counsel mutual forbearance with each other and peace with their dusky neighbors. In the summer of 1777, British emissaries came among the Indians, persuading them to violate their pledge of neutrality, and among these settlements, stirring up the disaffected and endeavoring to muster recruits for St. Leger, who was then investing Fort Schuyler. This same year some deserters from the American army sought refuge in the settlements. Diversity of sentiment began to develop itself. The old land quarrel was renewed. The terms Yankee and Pennamite were dropped, and those of Whig and Tory took their place. The peace once disturbed, a thousand things contributed to foment the quarrel.
During the latter part of this year the Indians began to assume a more threatening attitude towards the Susquehanna settlements, and before the close of the year acts of undisguised hostility began to be perpetrated, and many of the Whigs were plundered of their property, and the men carried into captivity. Those who escaped sought refuge at Wyoming, then esteemed a place of comparative security. Those who sympathized with the British interest removed their families within the British lines, and the men joined Johnson’s Royal Greens. The whole county was swept clean of white settlers—both Tory, Whig, and neutral—by the various hostile expeditions which passed through it, and from 1779 to 1783 was probably without an inhabitant, either white man or Indian.
To aid the commissioners, appointed under the act of 1799, in confirming titles to the Connecticut claimants, Nathan Kingsley, Esq., and Justus Gaylord, Jr., made out a list of the early settlers in Springfield; Jacob Bowman and Henry Strope a like list for Claverack, which will be referred to as the Springfield and Claverack lists, and will be found in full at the close of this chapter.
To preserve the record of these early settlers, such sketches and facts as can now be obtained will be given.
Leonard Lott settled on the farm now owned by Joseph Gamble, in Wilmot township. He was married on Long Island to a Frenchwoman named Letitia Flander. Removed to Stillwater, N. Y., where he was living in 1773. In the summer of 1777 he was at Wilmot, from whence he removed to Plymouth in the early part of the winter, and lived there with Ira Manville from the 10th of December, 1777, until the 1st of June, 1778. He was at the Forty fort at the time of the battle. After the war he returned to the Gamble place, remained there two or three years, when he moved to Meshoppen, thence to the Mehoopany creek, where he died. His descendants still reside in Wyoming county.
Philip Painter lived farther up the river, on the farm subsequently purchased by James Quick. He was probably a lessee of Philip Weeks, the Connecticut claimant, but of his history I have been unable to learn nothing more, except that after the war it is probable that he settled in Northumberland county.
Edward Hicks, from Dutchess Co., N. Y., made a possession at the mouth of Sugar Run, as early as 1775, and remained there about a year, and left. He embraced loyalist sentiments, and was taken by the Westmoreland militia, December, 1777, from which time his name disappears from our local records.
Prince Bryant, of Providence, R. I., a tanner by trade, occupied this farm in 1776. By deed dated April 21, 1777, he sold the property to Benjamin Eaton, for £200, and described it as “a certain lot or parcel of land in Westmoreland, being the lot that I bought of Amaziah Close, containing three hundred acres, lying in a district that was laid out by Jeremiah Ross and Lieut. Wells; said lot is situated on the south side of the Susquehanna river, opposite Wialuchin.” About this time he was engaged for nine months as post-rider between Hartford, Conn., and Wyoming, making the round trip each fortnight. In January, 1781, he was living in Goshen, Orange Co., N. Y., to which he removed about the time of the battle of Wyoming. He subsequently settled above Athens, near the mouth of Cayuta creek, where, in 1788, he owned six hundred acres of land, on which were two dwelling-houses, a grist-mill, and a saw-mill, which in January of that year he sold to Nathaniel Shaw and John Shepard.
Benjamin Eaton, who purchased of Prince Bryant, was from Kent, Litchfield Co., Ct. He remained on this property until the spring of 1778, when re removed to Wyoming for safety. Near by him was settled Calvin Eaton, probably a relative. In 1787, Mr. Eaton was living in the “Mohawk district, Montgomery Co., N. Y.,” when he sold his land in Bradford County to Isaac Benjamin. In Erwin’s History of Painted Post it is said that, “in 1795, Benjamin Eaton opened the first store in the town, if not in the county, for the benefit of civilization.” I have failed to learn anything further of his history there. A note from Prof. D. C. Eaton, of Yale college, gives the following facts: Benjamin, fifth son of Thomas and Elizabeth (Parker) Eaton, was born at Tolland, Conn., Feb. 1, 1732. Thomas was the oldest son of Thomas and Lydia (Gay), who was the son of John, oldest son of John, who emigrated from London to Massachusetts Bay in 1635.
It may be added, that Isaac Benjamin sold the farm to Jonas Ingham, Sept. 4, 1789, whose great-grandson now occupies it.
It will be remembered that Henry Pauling, of Montgomery Co., Pa., purchased of Job Chillaway the site of the Mission village, in May, 1775. Soon after he sent up Isaac Hancock, to take possession of his lands and cultivate them. Here, on the 10th of September, 1777, Mrs. Hancock gave birth to a daughter, Betsy, who became the wife of Jesse Ross. Mr. Hancock returned to his home, near Philadelphia, late in the fall of the same year. His subsequent residence in the county will be noticed in the township annals.
In order to make his title secure, Mr. Pauling purchased four rights in the Susquehanna company, and his three sons, Benjamin, William, and Jesse, came upon the property in the year 1776 or ’77. The wealth and social standing of the family gave the young men great influence among the settlers. Generous of their means, fond of the hunt and the rough sports of the times, they soon became the leading spirits in the community, and lived on terms of great friendship with their neighbors until the breaking out of the Revolutionary war, when their ardent zeal for their Pennsylvania title, the suspicions and possibly unwise eagerness of the prominent Whigs to crush out all loyalty to the crown of England, led them, in common with many other prominent men in the colonies, although greatly to the mortification and chagrin of their father, who espoused heartily the cause of the colonists, to join the loyalists, and identify themselves with the interests of the mother government. The prominence of the family made the course of the young men the subject of much correspondence among the leading men of this valley, a few extracts from which are appended.
In a letter written by Judge Gore, he says, “The circumstance of Mr. Pauling is this: when he had purchased of Job Chillaway, he then sent his son, John Pauling, to Wyoming to purchase a number of Connecticut rights to cover the tract he had purchased of the Indian. Those Connecticut rights were laid in a different direction from the former, so as to cover about one-half of the bottom land, while the Indian right took no other. Afterwards he settled three sons, to wit: Benjamin, Jesse, and the other name don’t occur. However, they lived there several years in good agreement, so far as I know, until the Indians made war against the United States, when these young men went off and joined the enemy. One [William] was appointed a captain in Butler’s rangers, one a lieutenant, and the third a quartermaster. They were all personally down against the settlement at Wyoming, with the savages, and exercised great severities upon the prisoners. They are yet at Niagara, one a justice of the peace.”
In 1802, Col. John Jenkins writes to Joseph Kingsbury as follows: “The three Paulings who left our settlement the year before the battle in 1778, went and joined Col. John Butler. They were commissioned as officers in his rangers. They afterwards returned home in the winter, and made arrangements for their friends, returned again, and joined Col. Butler early in the spring of 1778.”
Living in the immediate neighborhood of the Paulings were two families, one named Page, and the other Richmond Berry. They were tenants of the Paulings, and were loyalists. Berry was taken by the militia in 1777, and his family were removed to Wyoming in the following spring.
James Wells lived next above the Paulings. His house stood in a grove of white oaks, about sixty rods above the Stalford line, and twenty rods west of the State road. He was a native of Colchester, Connecticut, from which place he emigrated to Wyoming in 1771, and removed to Wyalusing in 1774. In company with Jeremiah Ross he laid out the town in that year. He probably had two children born in Wyalusing, viz., Alice, born in 1774, the first white child born in the township, and Mary, born in 1776. Mr. Miner says (Hazleton Travelers, p. 57), “The family were the earliest settlers in Springfield, on the Wyalusing, from which, on danger becoming imminent from the savages, they removed to the more densely settled part of the country, in the valley.” He and his oldest son, James, enlisted in the First Independent Company, of Wyoming, under command of Captain Robert Durkee. In this company Mr. Wells was first lieutenant. He, with others, on learning the great danger to which Wyoming was exposed from the savages, resigned his commission, left his company in New Jersey, and hastened home to participate in the ill-starred battle of Wyoming. In this battle he probably served as a private in Captain Bidlack’s (lower Wilkes-Barre) company, which was on the right wing of the patriot army. Here he was surrounded and slain. There is a tradition, which comes pretty well authenticated, that he was wounded in the leg so that he could not run, and the Indians attempted to capture him. Being a man of stalwart frame and giant strength he hurled off his enemies, when one sunk a tomahawk into his skull, which ended his life. He was forty-six years of age.
After the battle, the mother with her ten children fled with the other fugitives to their friends in Connecticut, where they remained until 1787, when they returned to Wyalusing, where the family will be again mentioned. James, Jr., served in Captain Spalding’s company until the close of the war, when he removed to the State of New York. James and Amos Wells were appointed in 1773 to settle the line in dispute between the towns of Kingston and Plymouth, and reported in November of that year. He was a proprietor of Charlestown, one of the Susquehanna company’s townships, laid out on the West Branch, and sacked by Plunket, September, 1775, but there is no evidence that he ever lived there. Little else can be found in the meager records of these early times, but these scraps show that he had the confidence of the early settlers in this part of the country.
Nathan Kingsley, Esq., lived on the northern half of the farm now owned by George H. Welles, at Wyalusing. The old house in which he lived is still standing about thirty rods north of the railroad depot. He was the oldest son of Salmon Kingsley, and was born in Scotland, Windham Co., Connecticut, January 23, 1743, and married Roccelana (Wareham?), of Windsor, Connecticut. (Prof. James L. Kingsley, of Yale College, was a nephew of Nathan.) He came to Wyoming about 1772 or ’73 and was one of the original proprietors of Springfield. August 8, 1775, he was appointed one of the committee of inspection for the county of Westmoreland. He purchased by deed bearing date January 8, 1776, of Elijah Brown, for £60, one-half of a saw-mill “standing on a creek called by ye name of Moughshopping, together with one-half of ye stream, tools, and timber belonging thereto,” etc. He sold the same to Thomas Wigton on the 8th of March following. The precise date of Mr. Kingsley’s settlement at Wyalusing cannot now be fixed. He was there previous to the survey of the township of Springfield in October, 1777, and had set off to him lots numbered 34 and 35, and it appeared that subsequently, in his absence, the township committee changed his corners.
About the latter part of this year he was captured by the Indians, and remained in captivity nearly a year. While in captivity he secured the friendship and confidence of the Indians by his skill in doctoring their horses. He was, in consequence, allowed considerable liberty, and permitted to go into the woods to gather herbs and roots for his medicines. Seizing a favorable opportunity, he made his escape, and reached Wyoming in safety. During his captivity his family found a home with Jonathan Slocum, a member of the Friends’ society. Here Nathan, Jr., was killed, and another son carried into captivity by the Indians. Mr. Miner gives the account as follows: “A respectable neighbor, Nathan Kingsley, had been made prisoner, and taken into the Indian country, leaving his wife and two sons to the charity of the neighbors. Taking them home, Mr. Slocum bade them welcome until Mr. Kingsley should be liberated, or some other mode of subsistence present. On the 2d of November (1778), the two boys being engaged grinding a knife, a rifle-shot and cry of distress brought Mrs. Slocum to the door, where she beheld an Indian scalping Nathan, the eldest lad, fifteen years of age, with the knife he had been sharpening. Waving her back with his hand, he entered the house, and took up Ebenezer Slocum, a little boy. The mother stepped to the savage, and, reaching for the child, said, ‘He can do you no good; see, he is lame.’ With a grim smile, giving up the boy, he took Frances, her daughter, aged about five years, gently in his arms, and, seizing the younger Kingsley by the hand, hurried away to the mountains; two savages, who were with him, taking a black girl seventeen years old. This was within one hundred rods of Wilkes-Barre fort. An alarm was instantly given, but the Indians eluded pursuit, and no trace of their retreat could be found.”
July 12, 1780, Lieutenant Kingsley was appointed on a court-martial, but when, where, or in what company he received his military title is not known.
At the close of the war he returned to his old home in Wyalusing. His wife and one son, Wareham, had survived the perils of the war, and now he enjoyed a few years of quiet and comfort. On the organization of Luzerne county, Mr. Kingsley, Matthias Hollenback, William Hooker Smith, Benjamin Carpenter, James Nesbit, and Obadiah Gore were commissioned, May 11, 1787, judges of the common pleas and justices of the peace, and constituted the first court held in the county. Under date of Jan. 14, 1790, Mr. Kingsley sent the following letter to the president of the supreme executive council, resigning his commission:
“Nathan Kingsley, of the county of Luzerne, commissioned one of the
judges of the courts of quarter sessions and common pleas for the county
aforesaid, finding it impracticable many times, by reason of high water,
to attend courts, and living sixty miles from the county town, joined to
the smallness of the fees allowed him in this behalf, is obliged, from
necessity, to inform council that he cannot in future serve in his aforementioned
capacity. Were his abode nearer than what it is at present to the county
town, he would think of resigning his office, but would continue in it
with pleasure and satisfaction. The fall and spring sessions happen at
a time when the waters are high, and of consequence make his traveling
not only expensive, but very difficult and dangerous. The time of attending,
coming to, and returning from courts takes up so considerable a part of
the seasons of summer and fall that he is obliged to neglect his agricultural
pursuits, to the singular injury of his interest. From these considerations,
he desires council to accept his resignation, and take such other order
in directing the choice of another judge in his district as to them shall
His resignation was accepted on the 1st of the following February, and Lawrence Myers was appointed to fill the vacancy. About 1787 or 1788 he built a distillery on the creek, near the stone quarry, which was probably the first in the township. His wife died, and is buried in the cemetery at Wyalusing, but the precise date is not known. Mr. Kingsley is described as a large, tall man, of more than ordinary intelligence, deeply interested in the prosperity of the community and the development of the country. He fell a victim to the habits of the times, lost his property, and in his old age was supported at the public charge. He died in the State of Ohio in 1822, at the age of eighty.
Amos York lived next neighbor above Mr. Kingsley, on what has more recently been known as the John Hollenbeck place. He came from Voluntown, Conn. At what period I am unable to ascertain. He purchased a farm opposite the mouth of Meshoppen creek, in Wyoming county, and there made a settlement. From the Mehoopany creek up, on the west side of the river, several families were settled prior to 1776. In Joseph Biles’ field-notes of the survey of the Susquehanna river, under date of March 30, 1796, he notes “Eight pitches by article of agreement, dated June 14, 1776, “which were to contain 1200 acres, of which Elijah Phelps had three lots, numbered 4, 5, and 8; Thomas Millard, No. 2; Amos York, No. 7; Ichabod Phelps, No. 3; Benjamin Kilbourn, No. 6; and Thomas Millard, Jr., No. 1. From the records of the commissioners, under the act of 1799:
“Thomas Wigton, sworn in support of the first claim entered by Mrs. York [for about 300 acres], saith that the said Amos York erected a house on, and inclosed a considerable part of, the said tract of land opposite and above the mouth of the Meshopping; that after he had removed to Wyalusing he, the said deceased, went down and wrought on this land before the Indian battle in 1778, and that Elijah Phelps being entered upon the said land, the deceased informed the said deponent, some time prior to the said battle, that he was going over the river to warn off the said Phelps, and on his return said he had warned him off.”
Mr. York moved to Wyalusing about 1774. His daughter, Sarah, in her narrative, says about four years previous to 1778, although she may have included in this the time they lived at Meshoppen. Manasseh Miner, the father of Mrs. York, was one of the original proprietors in the Susquehanna company, and conveyed this right to his daughter, and Mr. York made the pitch on which the right was to be located at Wyalusing, on some of the Indian clearings. Here he had carried on his improvements with considerable success. He had erected a good log house, a log barn, and had a considerable stock of horses, cattle, sheep, and hogs, and raised sufficient quantities of grain for their support.
On the breaking out of the Revolutionary war, he was known as an active and ardent Whig, which arrayed against him the enmity of his Tory neighbors. Apprehending trouble from the Indians, in the fall of 1777 he went down to Wyoming to seek the advice of friends, and make arrangements for the removal of his family. It was there thought there would be no danger from the savages in the winter, and if in the spring they continued to favor the interests of the British, there would be ample time to seek the protection of the lower settlements. The capture of some of his neighbors occasioned new alarm, but there seemed to be no alternative but run the risk of being undisturbed until spring. To move his family sixty miles through a pathless wilderness, in the depth of winter, could not be thought of.
On Feb. 12 and 13, 1778, there occurred a severe snowstorm. Each evening a negro from the old Indian town came to Mr. York’s, on a trifling excuse, and remained until late in the evening. On the 14th the storm ceased, and Mr. York determined to find out the reason for the negro’s strange conduct. Immediately after breakfast he set out on horseback on an errand to Mr. Pauling’s. As to what followed will be nearly in the words of his daughter Sarah, who at the time was fourteen years of age. She says, “The snow was two feet deep. In the afternoon, Miner, his little son, ran in and said the Indians were coming. The family looked out and saw Indians and white men, quite a company,* and the children said they were not afraid, for father was with them. Parshall Terry came in first, Tom Green next, and father next. Father took his seat on the bed and drew his hat over his eyes. I went to him and said, ‘Father, what is the matter?” He made no answer, but the tears were running down his cheeks. Terry used to boat on the river, and often stopped at our house. When he came in, mother said, ‘How do you do, Terry?’ He replied, ‘Mrs. York, I am sorry to see you.’ Mother said, ‘Why, have you taken my husband prisoner?’ He answered, ‘Ask Tom Green.’ Mother said, ‘Tom, have you taken my husband prisoner?’ He said, ‘Yes,’ but added, that he should not be hurt, only that he must take an oath that he will be true to King George. My mother appealed to him and Terry by the many acts of kindness they had done, represented to them the peaceable, generous, and obliging disposition of her husband, and deplored the wretched condition of the family.
*There were forty or fifty in the whole company, of whom only fourteen went to Mr. York’s house.
“After a while Terry lit his pipe and said to Green, ‘It is late, and we must be going.’ They then drove the cattle into the road, stripped the house of everything of value they could carry away, broke open the chests, tied up the plunder in sheets and blankets, and put the bundles on the backs of the men. Father had to take a pack of his own goods. When they got prepared to start, my father asked permission to speak to his wife,----he took her by the hand, but did not speak. When the company started, my father was compelled to walk, carry a bundle, and assist in driving his cattle, while his favorite riding-mare carried Terry.”
The journey was a tedious, toilsome one for the captive. He was held a prisoner for about nine months, during which time he was subject to exposure and want, and endured all manner of hardship and suffering, not the least of which was the constant anxiety for the welfare of his family, who were left destitute in the midst of winter, and far from friends on whom they could call for aid in their distress.
The narrative continues: “After the company had gone, and no more was to be seen of father, my mother and sister, Wealthy, started down to the town of Wyalusing, to see what had been done there. When they came to the village they found only two women, the wives of Page and Berry, and some children, whose I do not recollect. My mother stayed there a while and then came back…..That night we expected every moment when the Indians would come and kill us, or take us prisoners. We sat up and waited for the Indians all night. Next morning my mother and the older children concluded to move the family down to Wyalusing. We had eight fat hogs in the pen and a crib of corn. The bottom of the crib was opened and the hogs let out, so they could get what corn they wanted, and we all started for the village, taking what we could of necessaries. My oldest sisters went every day and brought some things out of our house. We lived in this village, in one of the cabins, about three weeks. One night, a man came to our cabin and handed my mother a letter from my father. His name was Secoy (John Secord), a Tory. While he was in the house, my brother Miner came in and said there were three men coming. Secoy said, ‘Mrs. York, for God’s sake, hide me!’ She threw some bedding over him on the floor, and then went and stood in the door. The men came up. They were Captain Aholiab Buck, her son-in-law, Miner Robbins, my mother’s sister’s son, and a Mr. Phelps. My mother told them not to come in, but to cross the river and stay at Eaton’s that night; that Eaton was the only man left in the settlement; that early in the morning she and the children would be ready to go with them. They crossed over as my mother advised. She then told Secoy he might get up. He said he was hungry, and mother gave him something to eat. He said she had saved him, and he would save her; that his son was at the head of a body of Indians close by, and he was sent as a spy to see if there was any armed men there.
“Next morning Captain Buck came over, and we all started on foot and traveled ten miles towards Wyoming, with no track except what the three men made coming and going. The first house we came to was Mr. Van der Lippe’s. My mother and two of the older sisters went on next day with Captain Buck, the rest of the children stayed at Van der Lippe’s,* until spring, when Mr. Phelps took us away in a canoe to his house. Afterwards Miner Robbins took us in a canoe to Wyoming fort, where mother was.”
* Mr. Fitzgerald and probably some others from up the river were staying in this neighborhood.
As affording some idea of the value of Mr. York’s improvements at Wyalusing, Mrs. Carr (Sarah York) says the Indians took off one yoke of oxen, one yoke of four years’ old steers, one horse, eleven good cows, a number of young cattle. There were besides eight fat hogs, store hogs, sheep, fowls, etc.; that he had sufficient hay for his stock, three hundred bushels of corn in the crib, besides other grain. When it is remembered that this was on hand the latter part of February, we may infer that his crops were quite abundant. Including clothing and bedding taken off by the enemy, she estimates the loss to the family at $1395.
While living at Wyalusing, Mrs. York gave birth to two sons: one named Amos, born July, 1775, and died April 27, 1776, probably the first death in the township; the other born June 27, 1777, consequently about six months old at the time of his father’s capture.
Mrs. York and her family took refuge in the Forty fort, where she maintained herself by cooking for the garrison stationed there. Here she remained until after the battle in which Capt. Buck fell, in the twenty-seventh year of his age, leaving an infant daughter, born March 25, 1778, and who afterwards became the wife of Major Taylor, of Wyalusing. Speaking of the evening of the battle, Mrs. Carr, whose narrative I have quoted, says, “Some crawled in on their hands and knees, covered with blood, during the night. The scenes of that night cannot be described,----women and children screaming and calling, ‘Oh my husband! My brother! My father!’ etc.
“Next morning after the battle this Parshall Terry* came with a flag and written terms from Tory Butler to Col. Denison. He told Denison if he surrendered peaceably not a soul should be hurt, but if he refused the whole fort should be put to the tomahawk. My mother went to Col. Denison and told him that this was the man who had deprived her of a husband and her children of a father, and she could not bear to see him come into the fort; that she had no confidence in his promises, and if he was allowed to come in she would go out. Denison said she must not go out. She declared she would, called her children to her, went to the gate and demanded a passage out. The sentry presented his bayonet to her breast and asked Col. Denison if he should let her pass. The colonel said no. He then pushed the bayonet through her clothes so that it drew blood. She said to Col. Denison, ‘I will go out with my children, or I will die here at the door.’ The colonel said, ‘Let her pass.’ We went down along the bank of the river. We could see burning houses on both sides of the river, which the Indians had set fire to. We went on until we got opposite Wilkes-Barre. We saw a woman on the other side of the river, and mother called to her to bring a boat over. The woman was a Mrs. Lock, a Dutchwoman. We all got into it, and Mrs. Lock pushed it down the river with all her might. We run all day, and at night we stopped at a house near the bank. Not long after we had been in the house a boy informed us that Lieut. Forsman was on the bank with a boat-load of wounded men. We all got into our canoe again, and Forsman took a man [Richard Fitzgerald] from his boat to manage the canoe for us, and we run all night. We went down to Paxton, where we stayed until October. At Paxton my mother buried her youngest child, a son of thirteen months. He died at the house of Col. Elder.
* Col. Butler, in his report, says he sent Lieut. Therry with a flag. A different spelling.
“After a time mother received letters from Wyoming stating that she might return with safety. In October we went up to Wyoming in company with a Dutch family. Capt. Buck’s widow was with us. We stayed about two weeks at Wilkesbarre; but, as there was frequent murdering in the neighborhood, mother would not stay. There were three men going through the big swamp; mother and her family accompanied them on foot, resolved to make her way to her father’s in Voluntown, Conn. One of the men was Asahel, brother of Capt. Buck. We lay one night in the swamp. When we got through it the men left us. We traveled on foot to New Milford, Conn., where mother was taken sick, and it was a fortnight before she was able to travel.
“When we were at the North river, where Gen. Washington lay, an officer informed him that there was a woman in distress. Gen. Washington ordered her to be brought to his tent. She told him her story, and Washington gave her fifty dollars. But we did not need money to bear traveling expenses, for the people on the road treated us with great sympathy and kindness.
“At New Milford my sister, Buck, was among her husband’s relatives. She and sister Esther remained there all winter. From New Milford we were carried in a wagon a hundred miles to Windham, from there we traveled on foot a day and a half to Voluntown. When within a mile of her father’s, a man met her and said, ‘How do you do, Mrs. York?’ Mother said she did not recollect him. He told us who he was, and said, ‘Have you heard about your husband?’ She said she had not. Said he, ‘I will tell you. He is dead and buried.’ Mother looked around on her children, but did not speak. Not another word was spoken by her until she got to her father’s. This was the first intelligence we had of father from the time he was taken, except the letter Secoy brought. He was detained a prisoner at different places nine months, and was exchanged at New York. After his release he went to Mr. Miner’s to make inquiries after his family, but could get no intelligence from them. He declared that he would start in two days, and would find his family if living; but was taken sick, and died eleven days before his family arrived. We all visited his grave that night.”
The following is a copy of Col. Butler’s pass to Mrs. York, the original of which is still in existence:
“Permit the Bairor, Mrs. York & family consisting of Nine to pass
from this to Stonington in Connecticut. And I do also Recommend to all
Authority both Sivil and military to Assist the above family as they are
of the Distressed [inhabitants] which were drove from this Town by Indians
and tories, and her husband has been a prisoner with the enemy for eight
months.----“ZEBN. BUTLER, Lt. Col. Comdg.
“WESTMORELAND, Oct. 13, 1778.”
I have given the narrative thus full because it presents a vivid picture of the fortitude and heroism of the women of this period of our country’s history. Mrs. York was only one of thousands, especially on the border, who endured similar sufferings, and were compelled to exhibit like firmness and self-reliance in the hour of danger or of necessity.
Miner Robbins, a nephew of Mrs. York, came to Wyalusing probably at the same time as his uncle, and lived either with him or on the next place above, on the Wyalusing probably at the same time as his uncle, and lived either with him or on the next place above, on the Wyalusing creek. He married a Miss Phelps, of the family living opposite Meshoppen. He retired either to Meshoppen or Kingston in the autumn of 1777. Here he was identified with the patriots in the defense of the settlements and the protection of the inhabitants. About the middle of June, 1778, he was fatally wounded while on a scout up the river. Under date of June 17, Mr. Jenkins says, “Miner Robbins killed, and Joel Phelps wounded.” Elisha Harding gives the following account: “Soon after six men with two canoes went up the river as far as where Osterhouts now live. They landed, and ascended the bank, and saw an armed force of Indians and Tories running towards them. They ran to their canoes, and strove to get round the point of the island to escape the fire of the enemy, but they were too nigh, were fired on, and two were wounded,----a Miner Robbins, one of Captain Hewitt’s men, who died next morning, the other Joel Phelps, severely.” In another place he says, “Miner Robbins was buried near where the burying-ground is near Carpenter’s. Elijah Phelps said in my hearing that he was in the party, and fired on the men in the canoe when his brother was wounded and his brother-in-law was killed.”
The liberal policy adopted by Roger Williams induced a considerable immigration from the north of Ireland, Scotch-Irish, who settled in the southeastern part of Rhode Island. From these families quite a number emigrated to Wyoming, and some of them found their way into this county. Prominent among these was:
Captain Robert Carr, who, before his coming to Wyoming, had been a sea-captain. He was one of the original proprietors of Springfield, and made his settlement there somewhere about 1774. He lived on the flats just above, and near the mouth of the creek, and included in his pitch the island opposite, which for a long time was known as Carr’s island. In the “Long township” laid in 1774, this was known as lot No. 29, but in the later survey of Springfield it was Nos. 51 and 52. By deed, bearing date Aug. 12, 1776, he sold his improvement to James Forsyth, and purchased a lot in Durell. He was, however, living in Wyalusing, June 21, 1777, as at that date he sold his Durell lands to a Mr. Ketchum. He seems to have been interested in mill property, and may have been a mill-wright by trade. He at one time owned half the grist- and saw-mill on Mill creek, above Wilkes-Barre, at another a saw-mill on Tuscarora creek in Wyoming county, and in Bradford his purchases were on creeks, evidently with an eye to their being suitable mill sites. He was one of the committee of inspection appointed August 8, 1775. In the autumn of 1777 he retired to Wyoming, at least he is found there in December of that year. On the 9th of November, 1778, being in company with David Goss below Wapwallapen, they were attacked by a band of Indians, and Carr was shot through the thigh, tomahawked, and scalped. Goss was also killed. Carr was probably a single man, at least I can find no evidence of his having a family.
James Forsyth was the youngest of three sons, whose father emigrated from Edinburgh, Scotland, to Rhode Island. James was among the earliest settlers at Wyoming, where he is found with the Connecticut party. In August, 1769, the Wyoming settlers petitioned the general assembly of Connecticut to take the settlement under their protection, and establish civil government over them. James Forsyth was among the petitioners. On the 14th of November of that year, the Pennsylvania party, under John Jennings, Amos Ogden, and Charles Stewart, seized and sent to Philadelphia Capt. John Durkee, and compelled the whole Connecticut party to surrender their possessions to the agent of the governor of Pennsylvania. In the articles of agreement entered into between the parties, it was stipulated that fourteen men of the Connecticut settlers might remain on the ground for the purpose of gathering the crops and preserving the property of their friends, until the question of jurisdiction should be settled. James Forsyth was one of the party left in pursuance of this agreement. In 1773 he was a resident of Kingston, in which township he held a settling right. He was one of the original proprietors of Springfield, and drew lot No. 53, which covered the flats on the creek now owned by the heirs of Bascom Taylor. He probably moved his family to Wyalusing in 1776, as in August of that year he sold his dwelling in Hanover and his interest in the Nanticoke fishing company to Josiah Pell, and purchased of Robert Carr “Number 29 of the township of Washington so called, with an island called Carr’s island,” in consideration of £55, deed dated Aug. 12, 1776. Having purchased of David Smith a right in the Susquehanna township of Standing Stone, which was laid in the upper part of present Frenchtown, he removed there in 1777, and in the autumn of the same year returned to Wyoming, where he is lost sight of in this valley. November 18, 1788, at the suit of Benjamin Baily vs. James Forsyth, Lord Butler, sheriff of Luzerne county, sells to Rosewell Welles “three hundred acres on Shoefelt’s flats.” As indicating something of the habits of the times, when the whipping-post and cropping ears were not unusual methods of punishment, the following may be of interest:
“Westmoreland on Susquehanna, in the Colony of Connecticut---Whereas
James Forsyth, Junr., of said Westmoreland, In February, 1774, by accident
from ye bite of a horse lost a great part of his left ear. Now James Forsyth,
Doctor William Hooker Smith who was called as a chirgion to inspect ye
case and dress ye wound, did personally appear before me Nathan Denison
one of his majesty’s Justices of the Peace for ye town of Westmoreland
in ye Colony of Connecticut, and being sworn to declare by ye bite of a
horse ye sd. James Forsyth lost a part of his left ear.
“Sworn by me NATHAN DENISON, Justice of ye Peace.”
(Westmoreland County Records)
Abraham Bowman, the same person whose name appears on the Springfield list as Ephraim Bowman, and elsewhere as Ephraim Boardman, was a native of Germany; emigrated to New York; lived for a time in Schoharie, then Albany Co., N. Y., from which place he came to Wyalusing in the spring of 1777, and bought of James Forsyth. The deed bears date May 27, 1777, and describes the land as lying in the district of SPRING, so called, being lots NOS. 51, 52, 53, including an island called Carr’s island. On account of a mistake in the name, this was followed by a deed of confirmation dated June 19 of the same year. He went to Dover, York Co., Pa., where he died previous to June 3, 1785, as at that date his cousin administers upon his estate. In the deed given by the administratrix, she recounts that the said Bowman died intestate and unmarried, and she is his only near relative in this country.
Ephraim Tyler came from Wyoming, and lived on the Merryall Flats one season. He was one of the original proprietors of Springfield, and drew lot No. 27, which was afterwards a part of the Thomas Lewis farm. Mr. Tyler was at Wyoming in the battle; his father, Ephraim, died soon after. During the trouble known as the second Pennamite war he was an active partisan on the Yankee side and one of the abductors of Timothy Pickering. He was an early settler in Wyoming county, after the Revolutionary war, and removed to Susquehanna county, where some of his descendants still reside. Mr. Tyler’s residence in this county was known and described as “Tyler’s Flats” in the early records.
William Dunn was a native of York county, Pennsylvania, but became a speculator in the Susquehanna lands. He made a settlement on the flats just opposite to Camptown, and some improvement at the mouth of Camp creek, which was first called Dunn’s creek, and the improvement “Dunn’s Possession.” He was killed by the Indians during the Wyoming troubles. His name is found among the list of the killed in the battle, but this is probably a mistake.
Benjamin Skiff and Stephen Skiff were settled on a pitch made by John Staples, the farm subsequently owned by Jonas Ingham. In a deposition made by Col. John Franklin he says, “that in the lifetime of Jonas Ingham, this Dept. was often at his house near Wyolusing creek; that he understood and believes that the sd. Ingham was living on a farm which he purchased of Isaac Benjamin; sd. Farm was formerly known as ‘Staples Pitch’ and claimed by Benjamin and Stephen Skiff, who this Dept. understood and believes were settled on the lands before the massacre by the savages at Wyoming, which took place July 3, 1778.” At the time of his settlement there in 1789, Mr. Ingham says the cabin was still standing. August 30, 1787, Benjamin and Stephen Skiff, from the “Mohawk district, Montgomery Co., N. Y.,” sell “Staples Pitch” to Benjamin Eaton. Stephen Skiff enlisted in Captain Ransom’s company and served through the Revolutionary war. The family were from Windham Co., Connecticut.
Ambrose and Justus Gaylord laid a right in Springfield and drew Nos. 20 and 21, which included the Irving and Homet farms at the old Misiscum at Homet’s Ferry. They came here in 1776 or ’77. On the commencement of the troubles of the Revolutionary war, both the brothers enlisted in the Continental army, and served through the war. Justus held the rank of sergeant in Spalding’s company.
Benjamin Budd, with his sons John, Joseph, and Asa, drew lots Nos. 14 and 15, in Springfield, subsequently owned by George and William Terry and the Hortons. The lots were purchased by Parshall Terry. His wife, Rachael Budd, has narrated the story of their settlement, which contains such a picture of frontier life of that period, that it is inserted at considerable length.
NARRATIVE OF RACHAEL BUDD.
From “Letters of an American Farmer,” by St. John de Creve-Cœur. 3 vols. Paris, 1787.
(Lettres d’un cultivateur américain, addressees à Wm. S----on Esqr., depuis l’année 1780 jusqu’en 1786. Par M. St. John de Creve-Cœur: Traduites l’Anglois. Paris, 1787.)
The author* of these volumes, a Frenchman by birth and education, but an American by adoption and by virtue of over thirty years’ residence, became acquainted with Mrs. Budd probably within a few months of the battle of Wyoming, as his account is dated Orange county, April 28, 1779. The book is dedicated to the Marquis de La Fayette, then a major-general in the American army. It was originally published in English. As it appears in its French dress, this narrative is so full of Gallicisms and inflated verbiage as to discredit its claim to be a verbatim report, though given in the first person. Yet there is no reason to doubt the substantial accuracy of Mrs. Budd’s statements, and, as she and her husband were among the earliest settlers within the limits of Bradford County, as well as at Wyoming, a condensed report of her story is given here; the language of the original being quoted only where not objectionable by reason of verbiage or prolixity.
* Hector St. Jean de Crevecœur, a French writer, born at Caen in 1731, emigrated to America in 1754, and settled on a farm near New York. In 1782 he published his “Letters of an American Farmer,” and was appointed French consul at New York. He is said to have enjoyed the confidence of Washington and Franklin. Died in France, 1813.
Mrs. Budd, who does not give her maiden name, was the daughter of a clergyman at Southampton, Long Island. At the age of seventeen she married Benjamin Budd, a neighboring farmer, shortly after which they removed to Orange county, where they remained until she was the mother of six sons and two daughters. Tired with contending with a rigorous climate and ungrateful soil, her husband entered with enthusiasm into the new project of the Connecticut people for a colony on the Susquehanna river. “Nothing,” she says, “could be more seducing than the descriptions of this new country as printed in our newspapers. The first path was hardly broken when we sold our farm and departed for Wyoming. I cannot describe to you the fatigues and dangers that we encountered in this long journey; for you know that from Wells’ ferry, on the Delaware river, there is a continuous forest of 120 miles, mountainous, filled with pines, hemlocks, beech, spruce, and wild laurel.” This wild region they traversed with great labor and difficulty, accompanied by their eight children, and a goodly stock of cattle, horses, sheep, and swine. “We arrived finally in this promised land. Everything I saw announced its fertility and abundance. I viewed with peculiar pleasure the striking contrast afforded by the rugged hills which we had traversed, and the beautiful lowlands which they surrounded, skirting both sides of this lovely river.”
The date of this arrival is not given; but in Worden’s list Benjamin Budd is said to have acquired 1 ½ shares in the Susquehanna company in 1768; and in “a list of settlers at Wilkes-Barre, 24 July, 1769,” occurs as follows: “No. 92, Benjamin Budd, deserted” (or left the settlement). This fixes his arrival as among the earliest at Wyoming. Here, in a society of seventeen families, within the space of two leagues, lodged in her humble bark cabin, and exposed to many privations, though rich in hopes, Mrs. Budd became the mother, four and a half months after their arrival, of the first white child born in Wyoming. “We named him ‘Susquehanna Budd,’ in memory of the new place of his birth. My husband made him a cradle of bark, very commodious. Although this furniture evinced the lowliness of his fortunes, this child might have been able, but for this cruel war, to become a rich colonist.”
In the subsequent troubles between the Connecticut and Pennsylvania settlers Mr. Budd lost all his cattle, and was himself carried a prisoner to Philadelphia; and his wife, being reduced to indigence, placed five of her children at service,--the eldest at Mehoopany,--and with the assistance of her second son, and with the little Susquehanna in her arms, returned to Orange county; five days’ travel through the snow of early winter, with only a couple of blankets for nightly shelter from the cold. The following May, her husband having been released from prison, they returned to Wyoming. He seems, however, by reason of his peace principles, to have lost the confidence of the Connecticut people during the Pennamite troubles, and after five years’ residence at Wyoming (presumably in the year 1774), he removed his family to Wyalusing, hoping to end his days there. “In our neighborhood lived Job Chilloway and the old Hendrick, two respectable Shawanese Indians. They were more acute and subtle than these natives generally are; they loved gold and silver; they had acquired from their compatriots more than five hundred acres of lowlands,--an immense property, if you knew all the value of it. They were generous and humane. We found among them the resources of friendship.
“The rich pastures of the neighborhood, the repose which we enjoyed, the honesty of our neighbors, made us very soon forget all our old calamities,--they served only to make us enjoy our present happiness. My second son married a woman who gave him 300 acres of land at Wissack (Wysox), a new settlement above Wyalusing; our oldest (probably Asa Budd) was established at Mehoopany.” The three years of her residence at this loved and peaceful asylum Mrs. Budd speaks of as the happiest period of her life. But they were not to enjoy their quiet longer. The sharp definition of sympathy and co-operation which ranged the seaboard population on the side of Whig or Loyalist, reached the most obscure retreats of the frontier. Budd’s three oldest sons took part with the Whigs; while their father, though a non-combatant and a pacificator, became obnoxious on account of suspected Tory sympathies, and in common with the whole population of “the three upper settlements of Wi-o-Lucing, Wissack, and Standing Stone” was forced to retire; the more pronounced Tories going northward* into the Indian country; while others took refuge in the settlements below.
* To Anaquaga, Ockwako (Owego?), and Shenando, as the names of these Indian villages are given in the narrative.
“Our two savages retired with the rest to Shenando (Chenango?), an Indian village. Happy mortals! They knew where to find peace; and we dared to call them savages! Would to God we had followed them, as we were several times invited to do!” The third son, who had joined the militia against his parents’ wishes, had been carried a prisoner to Montreal, by the way of Ockwako and Niagara; and at the time of this relation his mother had heard nothing more of him.
Returning to Wyoming, probably in 1777, the Budds found everything changed from the peaceful situation of former years. “All was turmoil and excitement. The time of happy hospitality was past; rumors and factions only remained. They reproached my husband for his tranquility and love of peace as a crime. Reduced to cultivate land which did not belong to us, we passed our nights deploring in secret the loss of our former opulence, and the quiet of Wyalusing; we wept to recall that in twenty-nine years of fatigue and hardship we had enjoyed but three years of peace and repose.
“Ah,” said I to my husband, “why did we not remain where we were? Here we are distrusted and despised. Exposure to the depredations of the two parties (at Wyalusing) could not be worse than these daily insults which we do not deserve. You have no doubt heard, Monsieur, of the embassy of savages from Ockwako, who came to reclaim the cattle of the settlers who had taken refuge among them. ‘We have given hospitality,’ said they, ‘to the whites whom you have exiled and persecuted; we have received them into our villages, because they were unhappy and hungry. They have touched our wigwams,* but we have no milk for their children. The village has sent us to reclaim their cows: what do you say to it?’ Our leaders had the imprudence to arrest them. It had been easy to foresee the folly of such conduct, which tended to attach these tribes to the Royalist cause; but such was the power they (our leaders) had usurped, that nobody dared find fault with their proceedings.
* A ceremony which conferred the right to demand hospitality.
“In the mean time Brant and Butler fell on our settlements with the rapidity of lightning. You know the bloody details of this frightful tragedy, which resulted in the destruction and banishment of more than twelve hundred families, established along a line of one hundred and twenty miles of shore.”
On the approach of the enemy Mr. Budd and his family, consisting of wife, three young children, daughter, and son-in-law,* took refuge in the stockade,† into which Mrs. B. was carried with a broken leg, from an accident on entering the bateau to cross the river. After the battle and subsequent capitulation, Mrs. Budd says that the old Indian, Hendrick, was the first to enter the fort, where he recognized her husband and family, whom he saluted with every mark of friendship. On inquiry for the two eldest sons of the family, he was told that they were supposed to be safe at Mehoopany, at which he expressed gratification; but as it afterwards appeared, he knew better than they. Two hours after this the prisoners were all ordered, for their own protection, to paint their faces with vermilion, which was served out for the purpose, and they were ordered to quit the country within five days. Towards night Hendrick returned and led Mr. Budd away to the Indian camp, passing the field of battle, where he recognized on all sides the bodies of his friends and neighbors. At the camp Hendrick presented him with his two sons, painted red. They had come down from Mehoopany, as would appear from Mrs. Budd’s narrative, to join in the defense of Wyoming; but having been taken prisoners, were indebted for their safety to the friendly offices of Hendrick. Seeing his friend’s distress at the desolation which had overtaken his country, and his despondency and despair of ever finding a better fate, Hendrick advised him to return to his old home at Wyalusing, saying that his house there was not, and should not, be burned, and promising him protection, adding that Budd was a man of peace, and the friend of every one, and that no one would harm him. Finding him disinclined to run so great a risk, Hendrick gave him two horses, and told him to take what property and supplies he had brought with him into the fort and go in peace, and with his blessing.
* This son-in-law, whose name is not given, appears afterwards to have
gone out to the battle, from which he did not return.
† Mrs. Budd says “at Shawney, called Kingston.” It is evident that she means Forty fort, which was the one used for a refuge for the women and children, and where the capitulation took place, while the Shawney stockade was in Plymouth township, and was not in use at the time of the battle.
Three days afterwards this afflicted family started for Shamokin by water; but finding a lack of accommodations when they arrived there, went on to Northumberland, where they found, indeed, abundant hospitality, but were destined soon to suffer worse evils than had yet befallen them, for while Mrs. Budd was lying helpless with her broken limb, her husband and two of her sons died with the smallpox. “They lost their lives in this new settlement after having escaped from the fire and sword of our enemies. I more than once reproached my cruel destiny for leaving me to survive such disasters. I recommended myself to God, and thought of all my parents and friends. But how should a woman in my condition ever hope to join them? I departed finally, accompanied by three sons who remained to me, and my daughter Rachael, who had a child at the breast; the other daughter married, in Pennsylvania, was ignorant of our fate. Mounted on one of the horses that the good Hendrick gave us, we were advised to take the lower road. Scarcely had we passed the great forest when my daughter was attacked with the smallpox, and my cruel fortune obliged me to leave her at the first house that we came to. They promised me to take care of her, for our company was too large to admit of our awaiting her convalescence.”
Taking with her her daughter’s child, ten months old, and the remainder of the party, Mrs. Budd proceeded on her way to join her friends in Orange county, passing the Delaware at Minisink. One of her sons left her at this place in order to rejoin his wife, whom he had taken to an asylum in the forest during the general disaster. Soon after, her little grandchild died in her arms with the smallpox, and she was herself attacked with it; hoping then, as she says, to finish her painful career. But fortune was not so good to her; “for I am, as you see, nearly blind, and an object of unavailing compassion. My daughter rejoined me at the end of thirty-two days. She rented a house in the vicinity of my parents, and their bounty, united to her industry, procured for us a comfortable subsistence. Ah! If my husband had been willing, this is the asylum I would have proposed to him. Perhaps he might still have lived; but I was fated to weep alone. Such were the gradations of our misfortunes and ruin; after having owned successively four plantations, I now await only the little hillock of earth which will ere long cover me. Let the moment come: it will be one of repose.”
There were probably in the Susquehanna valley other persons by the name of Budd who did not belong to the immediate family of Benjamin. This, with the apparent difficulty of always understanding clearly Mrs. Budd’s narrative, renders the relation of the parties uncertain. Franklin reports a Joseph Budd slain in the massacre, but probably not a son of Rachael, although she had a son of that name.
Miner’s list of 1772 gives Benjamin Budd, page 138. Captain John Budd is mentioned in Worden’s list. John Budd, in 1802, deposes to the sale by his father to Parshall Terry of the Terrytown plantation. Harding reports Asa Budd at Tunkhannock at the invasion; this was, I suppose, one of those spoken of as at Mehoopany. What was the name of the second son, who married at Wysox, and what his wife’s name, she does not state. Probably Asa was one of the two whose lives were saved by Hendrick. This Hendrick, called a Shawanese Indian by Mrs. B., appears to be the same called Peter Hendrick, a Mohawk, by Miner in his “History,” p. 91.
OTHER EARLY SETTLERS
Besides the families named, there were at various times within the limits of old Springfield, but at what particular location cannot now with certainty be ascertained, the following persons: Josiah Dewey, Isaiah Pasco, Caleb Atherton, Jacob Burt, John Segar, Philip Fox, ----- Winters, Casper Hoover, and Parker Wilson. The most of these were probably lessees, under parties holding either the Pennsylvania or Susquehanna company’s title. The following memoranda of deeds throw light on other settlements:
“To all people to whom these presents shall come, greeting: Know ye, that I, Gideon Church, of ye town and county of Westmoreland and State of Connecticut, for and in consideration of twenty pounds lawful money to me in hand paid, of Benjamin Hatch of Sheffield, in the county of Berkshire, in Massachusetts Bay, do by these presents five, &c., one quarter of a whole proprietor’s right of land, now in partnership with the heirs of Ezbon Hatch….together with ye pitch and improvements made on Wialushin creek about five miles from ye mouth, or where it falls into ye Great River, to have and to hold ye above granted and bargained premises together with all ye privileges and appurtenances as thereunto belonging…this 19th day of August, A.D. 1777.”
From which it would appear that there were settlements even above or in the immediate neighborhood of Skiffs, but by whom made does not appear. Under date of 26th October, 1782, Asahel Atherton conveys to Aaron Wormer [Warner?] “about 300 acres lying in that part of said town, near Wiolusink, and within the bounds of a township there laid out on the creek, called and known by the name of Wiolusink creek,….with the privileges and appurtenances,” etc. The deed does not sufficiently describe the land to locate it, but it is quite likely that Caleb Atherton made the improvements.
At the mouth of Rummerfield creek, Anthony Rummerfield [Rommerfeldt?], a blacksmith by trade, from the Mohawk region, was a settler previous to 1774. After the war he removed to Catherines town, in Tioga Co., N. Y., where, under date of Jan. 9, 1794, he sells to Matthias Hollenback “a piece of land near Standing Stone, including the mouth and falls of a creek which empties itself into the Susquehanna river,…with my possession, improvement, and mill-work, formerly erected by me the said Anthony Rummerfield.”
Next above Rummerfield was Simon Spalding, who moved up the river from Wyoming in 1775, remained a year, and then leased to Conrad Sill. In a deed bearing date April 1, 1790, to his son John Spalding, the property is described as a “tract of land containing 300 acres, lying opposite the Standing Stone, extending up the river three-fourths of a mile to Van Alstine’s possession, which tract was laid out to me in 1775 on a proprietor’s right, belong originally to Jonas Shepard. The said land, in 1776, I leased to Conrad Sill for five years, on which said Sill built a house and barn and other improvements.”
“Sunday morning, 7 o’clock, moved toward Tioga, and encamped on a piece
of low ground by the river, where there has been a settlement, and four
families dwelt there in 1775. This place is called ‘Standing Stone Bottom.’
Captain Spalding, who commands the independent company in General Hand’s
light troops, lived at this place.” [Anon. Journal of Sul. Cam.]
“Captain Spalding is one of those for Wyoming; he is the truest of any of which I have seen yet; his interest doth not lay here at all, he claiming only a certain place near the Standing Stone, on which he formerly lived.” [Captain Shrawder to John Van Campen, Pa. Ar., x. 24.]
Next above the Spalding place was the settlement of Richard Fitzgerald. His former place of residence was Schodac, in Albany Co., N. Y. While here he was drafted for the old French war, and for a year was on garrison duty at the British fort at Oswego. “In the spring of 1776,” says his nephew, William Huyck, who was the adopted son of Mr. Fitzgerald, “our family emigrated from the county of Albany; we went on as far as Springfield, at the head of Lake Otsego, and when the lake was clear of ice, when my uncle procured a bateaux, and we moved down the river with considerable difficulty to Standing Stone.” Here they were successfully engaged in farming until about Dec. 6, 1777,* when a party of “about
* Mr. Huyck says it was about a fortnight before the expedition sent against the Tories, which was Dec. 20, 1777.
twenty of those refugees came to his uncle’s house, having the aforesaid Indian, Hopkins, and his lieutenant, Parshall Terry, with them, and plundered the house of an abundance; putting it into a boat of our own, proceeded up the river with their booty, driving off four cows, young cattle, eighteen sheep, and three good horses. Two other families above us shared the same fate, and a Mr. Fitch, a near neighbor, was not only plundered, but himself captured and never returned.” To this Mr. Elisha Harding adds that the party took Mr. Fitzgerald as far as Wysox, where they bound him to a flax-brake, and declared they would break every bone in his body unless he would hurrah for King George. The honest old Dutchman replied, “I am an old man and cannot live long at any rate. I had rather die now, a friend to my country, than live longer and die a Tory.” Mr. Harding adds, “they released him.”
The Whig families had intended to go down to Wyoming with the troops, but they moved so rapidly that opportunity was not afforded. Soon after the departure of the expedition, Mr. Fitzgerald gathered what effects the enemy had left him and with his family started in a canoe down the river. Their progress was slow on account of the thickly floating ice, and tedious on account of the cold. When they reached Blackwalnut they found the river was frozen over, and they could proceed no farther. Taking possession of one of the deserted houses, there they remained until spring, when, in the month of March, with other Whigs living in their neighborhood, they retired to Wyoming. Two fat hogs which the plunderers did not discover, and the corn they could not take away, afforded the family subsistence. They remained at Wyoming until the battle, in which Mr. Huyck served in the ranks and escaped, while old Mr. Fitzgerald remained in the fort. Immediately after the battle they pressed out of the fort with other fugitives. Stopping a day or two at Northumberland, they made their way to Paxton, where they remained until October following, when “we all returned to Wyoming, which place we now kept possession of by garrison. I was young, but as we were compelled to live in a state of perpetual defense, I entered the military service, in which I continued until I joined the army under General Sullivan.” In this expedition Mr. Fitzgerald was one of the guides. Returning with the expedition, they remained at Wyoming until peace, when the family returned to their old plantation at Standing Stone. Here he died some time previous to June 1, 1789, as at that date his widow, Nelly, took out letters of administration on his estate.
Henry Birney, a native of Ireland, was an early settler in Plymouth, being there as early as 1773. About 1774 or ’75 he moved to Standing Stone, and settled on the farm now owned by Asa Stevens. His wife was a Shears. On the breaking out of the war he moved his family back to Plymouth, and himself entered the Continental army, in which he served most of the time until the close of the war, when he moved his family back to Standing Stone, where he lived until 1812, when he sold his plantation to Judge Stevens and moved to Scioto, Ohio, where he died at an advanced age.
Mrs. Rachel Birney, wife of Henry Birney, died in Standing Stone, July 22, 1805, aged fifty-seven years. The Luzerne Federalist, in announcing her death, says “She lived on the river thirty-three years, and suffered many losses and hardships with her family during the long and bloody wars, by the inhuman savages.”
Lemuel Fitch was settled on the creek in the upper part of the village of Standing Stone, which by the older people was called Fitch’s creek. He was a native of Colchester, Conn., where he married Rebecca Comstock. In the spring of 1774 he and James Wells laid out the Long township, as it was called, and the same year moved upon the lot he had selected for himself. Here he remained until after January, 1778, as at that time a nephew of Mrs. Fitch was sick at her house. He was captured by the Indians, probably by the same party which took Mr. York, who plundered his house and carried off whatever they could take. Mr. Fitch died in captivity. His widow married a Mr. Gromet. She died childless previous to June, 1795.
The late Hon. Jonathan Stevens, in a communication to the Pennsylvania Historical Society, says, “In it [the township of Standing Stone], including where the respondent resides, the first settlements were made between the years 1774 and 1776, by Anthony Rummerfield, Richard Fitzgerald, Low Dutch, from near Albany; Henry Birney, from Ireland; Lemuel Fitch, from New England; Conrad Sill, believed to be Dutch, from near Albany. These were driven away by British, Indians, and Tories in 1777, but some of them returned after the war. The farms they settled are the most valuable in the township.”
The above, and in the conveyance of Simon Spalding, are the only references I find to Conrad Sill, and contain all I know of him.
Besides these, there were living in the neighborhood of the Standing Stone three or four brothers by the name of Van Alstyne, who were connected by marriage with the Wintermoots of Wyoming. These young men were in ill repute among the Whigs of the valley. Miner mentions them as among the interlopers who came from eastern New York to the Susquehanna at the beginning of the war. Col. Franklin says that the news of the departure of the Hartley expedition was carried to the enemy by a deserter by the name of Van Alstyne. In a paragraph of a letter written by William Huyck, he says, “Now comes on the Tories, the Van Alstynes, and Isaac Larraway, and Jacob Bowman, and his father, and his uncle, and Philip Fox, and Parshall Terry.”
Adam Simmons and Charles Angars were of the same stripe as the Van Alstynes. After the war they retired to Canada. Near them was John Pensil,* whose
* As against this there is on file at Hartford, Conn. (vol. Wyoming,
No. 132), a memorial to the general assembly of Connecticut, setting forth
that the memorialists had been in the Continental service until date, and
praying to be discharged, dated Jan. 23, 1782, signed by John Ryon, Lemuel
Whitman, John Jackson, John Oakley, John Platnore, John Pencill, and certified
by the selectmen of Westmoreland. Query.----Is the whole story of the Fratricide
a myth, which is most likely, or were there two men of the same name and
nearly the same age living at Wyoming, and no mention made of but one?
It looks as if great injustice had been done a true man.
reported inhumanity in murdering his own brother Henry in cool blood at the battle of Wyoming has given him the name of the “Fratricide,” and covered his memory with infamy. Above, but in the same neighborhood, were Henry Anguish, Jacob Sipes, Michael Shawers, Isaac Larraway, and Isaac Larraway, Jr. Adonijah Stanborough while living at Wyoming secured a claim to a number of rights covering several thousand acres, lying within the seventeen townships of Luzerne county. In the deed by which he conveys his claim to William Jones, he describes one piece as containing nine hundred acres, settled by Charles Angars, John Pensil, Conrad Sill, and Adam Simmons, which would locate these in Standing Stone; a thousand acres settled by Jacob Bruner, Henry Anguish, Jacob Sipes, and Michael Shawers,---this tract is at present called Macedonia; and eight thousand acres, said formerly to be the right of Abraham Jacob Lansing [Claverack], settled by the Van Valkenburgs, Larraways, Bruner, and others.
Peter Schufeldt* (so spelled in the Albany Genealogies) was most likely from the Schoharie region, and settled at Asylum in 1770. In 1776 he sold to James Forsyth, and moved to the West Branch, where he was killed by the Indians, in June, 1778.
* Usually spelled “Shoefelt” by English-speaking people. His farm was for many years called “Schoefelt’s flats.”)
Samuel and Amaziah Ketchum came from Warwick, Orange Co., N. Y., and made a settlement on the flats just above William Storrs, Esq., and opposite Standing Stone village, in 1776, cleared several acres, built a log house, and made other improvements. On the breaking out of the war they returned to Warwick, joined the Association of the Sons of Liberty, and were in active service through the war. After peace they returned, sold their possession to Amos Bennett in 1791, when they probably left the valley.
Samuel Cole came from Gageborough, Berkshire Co., Mass., to Macedonia about 1775. He had lived about a year in Wilkes-Barre. His possessions in Macedonia covered all the plain from the mountain to the river. Of this he sold one hundred acres to Jacob Bruner, who, on Dec. 20, 1777, was arrested on suspicion of being a Tory, and sent to Hartford. By deed dated at Springfield, Montgomery Co., N. Y., Feb. 25, 1789, he re-conveys the lot to Samuel Cole. On the breaking out of hostilities, Mr. Cole removed to Wyoming, where one son and a son-in-law were slain in the battle. In the list of the killed, as given by Mr. Miner, is a Samuel Cole; this may be the son. It will be remembered Mrs. Budd speaks of one of her sons having married the daughter of a man living up the river. The name of Joseph Budd is given in the Springfield list, and is also in Miner’s list of the killed; from these facts it might be surmised that Joseph Budd had married the daughter Mary, who afterwards married a Culbertson, became insane, and was known as Molly Cole. Mr. Cole removed his family to Windham Co., Conn., during the war, and afterwards returned to Macedonia. Some of his descendants are still on the property.
Stephen Sarah, a Loyalist, was in the immediate neighborhood.
The Van Valkenburg and Strope families settled on the west bank of Wysox creek, near its mouth, a few rods southeast of the present residence of Thomas Madill, M.D. They were of Holland descent, from the neighborhood of Claverack, on the Hudson. In the genealogies of Schenectady, Isaac, son of Jochem Van Valkenburg, and Lydia, daughter of Jacques Van Slyck, were married May 12, 1705. They had a son,---Isaac,---who married Jannetje Clement, whose daughter, Marytje, was baptized Jan. 29, 1744. Early in the spring of 1773, Isaac Van Valkenburg, with his family, his brother Hermonos,---a bachelor,---and his two sons-in-law,---Sebastian Strope, who had married his daughter Lydia, and John Strope,---an unmarried daughter, and probably a son John, emigrated from Catskill on the Hudson, and selected the site of their future residence at Misiscum, having their log house on the low flat below the Frenchtown depot. Here they remained for two years, when finding the land was held by another right, they moved up to the Wysox. In the deed by which they quitclaimed their possession to William Ross the describe it as a lot improved by them in May, 1773. They purchased by deed dated Feb. 17, 1776, a whole right in the Susquehanna purchase, which they laid in Wysox. As this was some time before the allotment of Claverack, within which their pitch was made, according to the rules of the company, they retained possession of their location. Here for about three years they pursued their avocations in peace. When the disturbances of the war began to be felt in these remote settlements their situation was a very trying one. Their location, nationality, and language made them strangers to the party with which they were in sympathy. They hoped, however, that by kindness they might conciliate the others, and so be left in peace. After the capture of several of his neighbors, Mr. Sebastian Strope made arrangements with the officer commanding at Wyoming that if danger was apprehended help would be sent to move them to a place of safety. In anticipation of this they buried many of their kettles and other heavy articles.
On the evening of May 19, 1778, an Indian stayed over night at Mr. Strope’s, and was treated with great kindness. His conduct and the hints he threw out aroused suspicion of danger, and immediately after his departure Mr. Sebastian Strope set off in great haste for Wyoming, for the promised assistance. He had been gone but a short time, when a company of thirteen Indians was seen ascending the bank towards the house, and the family were quickly informed that they were captives. It is likely that Hermanos Van Valkenburg had died previous to this, as his name is not mentioned in any of the subsequent narratives. The capturing party soon gathered the stock and grain from the farm, and the furniture from the house, and setting fire to what they could not carry, hastened the family on their tedious journey. An incident occurred here which deserves to be related. Old Mr. Van Valkenburg had taken possession of his Bible, a large, massive, heavily-bound book, which will weigh several pounds, and holding to it with great care, an Indian snatched it from his arms and flung it into the fire. The old man at once sprang forward and pulled it out of the flames, carried it with him through all of his journeyings, and it is now preserved, bearing the marks of the fire, as an heir-loom in the family. The men were separated and sent to various parts of Canada. The women and children were kept for some time about Tioga Point, Niagara, and Montreal. After nearly three years, arrangements were made for their exchange, which was effected near White Hall, in New York. Here they were met by Sebastian Strope, and the whole family, except John Strope, were reunited, and returned to their old home in New York. John Strope did not return until after peace, and bore all his lifetime the marks of the hard usage he had received while in captivity.
Sebastian Strope returned to Wysox the next day after he left with the aid he desired, only to find his family and relatives taken away, and the charred and smouldering ruins of what was the morning before a quiet, happy home. He returned to Wyoming, hoping that from some of the scouts which were sent up the river he might learn the fate of the captives. He joined the patriot army in defense of the common interest, and escaped on the evening of that fatal 3d of July. He returned to the Hudson, where, hearing of the exchange of prisoners, he hastened to White Hall to find his family all safe. In 1784, Sebastian Strope and his son returned to Wysox, rebuilt their house, planted corn and potatoes, and in the fall the rest of the family gathered on the old spot to begin life anew. Here the old people died, and were buried on the knoll back of Dr. Madill’s house. The family have been widely scattered; none of the name, and scarcely one of the blood, remains in Wysox.*
* In a letter of Wm. Huyck, he says, speaking of the sufferings from the Indians, “Likewise Mr. Strope and his family and Mr. Van Valkenburg. Mr. Bastian Strope made his escape from them, and got safe to Wilkesberry, and was in the Massacre, but he made his escape. The rest of his family was taken to Canada, and suffered greatly, and never returned until peace was proclaimed, and then they were taken to Albany by a British escort.”
William Nelson made a possession on the farm now owned by Mr. Lanning, which was called Nelson’s possession. Neither the time of his coming or of his return can be exactly determined. He probably did not remain long.
Living nearly opposite the Stropes, on the other side of the river, and on the west side of Towanda creek, was the family of Rudolph Fox, the first permanent white settler in Bradford County. There seemed to be a very general opinion among the Germans of New York that in Pennsylvania the Indians were regarded as the lawful owners of the soil, and a purchase from them was sufficient to give good title. When Mr. Fox came to Towanda, a few families of Indians were living on the stream near Major Hale’s, who claimed all the land in the vicinity. Of these Mr. Fox purchased the land lying on Towanda creek, extending from the river to the forks at Monroeton. He built his cabin near the mouth of the creek, and on the fertile flat all kinds of crops grew in wonderful luxuriance. Excepting the Christian Indian towns at Wyalusing and Sheshequin, the nearest white settlements were at Wyoming. So far removed from all the appliances of civilized life, he must of necessity have supplied his wants in the rude manner of the pioneer.
While Mr. Fox had purchased his land of the Indians for a satisfactory price, yet their presence was anything but pleasant. Soon after the breaking out of the war, the friendly feelings of his tawny neighbors were observed to undergo a change, and they became more haughty and exacting. Living so remote from all other settlers, his cattle and horses had unrestricted range of the country, and sometimes wandered widely. In the month of March, 1777,* while in search of his
* Unless there is some mistake in dates here, which does not seem likely, the reasons for the capture could hardly be on account of his political sentiments, as the Indians observed their pledge of neutrality, and manifested no hostility to the patriots until the autumn of this year. The probable cause was likely to have been more personal in its nature. After the Indians began to show their hostility to the patriots, it would have been very natural for them then to have assigned the reason they gave, “He was not a good King’s man.”
cattle, he was seized and taken a captive to Quebec, where he was kept for nine months, during all of which time his family were ignorant of his fate. At one time the Indians, who were frequent and troublesome visitors, informed Mrs. Fox that her husband was killed because he was not a good King’s man. The family were now obliged to secrete whatever the Indians might fancy in order to keep it from their depredations, especially provisions. So watchful were they for plunder that frequently the family were compelled to pass the whole day without food, and at night eat in the cellar. In December, on a very cold night, a call was heard from the other side of the river, which Mrs. Fox recognized as that of her husband. The Indians had stolen their canoe, and a raft could not be pushed across the river on account of the ice, so he was obliged to encamp in the pines, which grew thickly on the Wysox plains, and spend the night within call of his family. It was a night of suffering for all. So intense was the cold that the river had frozen over during the night, and in the morning he ventured across it, and reached his family in safety.
He was not molested again until the party which captured the Strope family came along, when they took Mr. Fox on their way down lest he should give the alarm. He managed, however, to escape from them before reaching Tioga Point.
Danger from the Indians daily increased, and Mr. Fox determined to take his family to a place of greater safety. John Neeley, an Irishman from Northumberland, had taken possession of the tract of land above Mr. Fox, at Greenwood, and was probably there at this time, and aided Mr. Fox in his emigration. Gathering some of his horses and cattle, he and his assistant undertook to take them by land, while the family went in a canoe. When in the vicinity of Dodge’s island, Mr. Fox discovered a band of Indians crossing the hill in front of him. He motioned his family to come to shore with the canoe, when he abandoned his stock, got into the canoe with his family, and secreted themselves behind the island until the hostile party passed on, when they resumed their journey. It was about the time of the Wyoming battle, and the river was swarming with parties of hostile Indians. It seems almost miraculous that they could have escaped. At one time, as they were passing along, they heard firing and cries on the shore. A band of Indians had surprised and attacked a party of whites. The family expected discovery and certain death. What added to their danger, the babe, Rudolph, commenced screaming, so that more than once the mother took him up to throw him overboard, ---a desperate, but apparently only means of escaping discovery. But the mother’s heart could not consent to the sacrifice. They succeeded in passing the Indians, and reached Sunbury in safety. After the battle of Wyoming, Mr. Fox came up the river to look after his affairs, and passed up the river as far as Tioga with Col. Hartley, and came back in company with the detachment to his family. They remained at Northumberland until the close of the war, when, in 1783, Mr. Fox moved his family to Wilkes-Barre, while he and four of his children proceeded to their old home in Towanda. They came up in company with Jonathan, a brother of James Forsyth, who pushed on to Binghamton.
Here they found everything had been burned. A bark-covered cabin was constructed, and other preparations made for the reception of the family. When ready to return for the remainder of the family, the daughter, Elizabeth (Mrs. Means), then thirteen years of age, was the only one who would consent to remain. A more heroic undertaking could scarcely be proposed. A young girl, on the spot where their buildings had been burned, surrounded by savage beasts, and liable to be disturbed by savage men, consents to be the sole occupant of the premises for ten days, the time supposed to be necessary for the trip. But unexpected trials awaited her. The mother was found to be too ill to be removed, and a delay of more than a month was unavoidable. Provisions ran short with the little girl. The Forsyths returned, and called to see her, and tried to persuade her to go back with them. This she stoutly refused to do, and they left her some food, while she awaited the coming of the family. One night she was surprised by a fierce attack upon her bark-covered cabin. Nothing daunted, she kindled a fire, and the unceremonious visitor departed. From the marks found the next morning it was supposed to be a panther. She kept her post for about six weeks, when, after eating the last of her provisions, and seeing no prospect of relief, she set out to meet the family, or find a hut where she might procure some food. She had proceeded but a few miles, when, at Gordon’s island, she discovered the boat with her family slowly ascending the river. The moment of deliverance from peril was not only a moment of pleasure, but of pleasantry. The father inquired, “Where are you going?” “To Wilkes-Barre, to get something to eat,” replied the daughter. She was taken on board, and they reached home after an absence of five years.* The subsequent history of the family belongs to a later period.
* In a narrative of the family contained in an obituary of Deacon John Fox, written by Rev. Julius Foster, which has been substantially followed, he makes the period of absence three years. The battle of Wyoming was July 3, 1778; John Fox was born in Sunbury, Oct. 31, 1778; that fixes the time of their departure. Elizabeth, born Sept. 1, 1770, was thirteen years old when they returned, which would give 1783 as the date. Forsyth, who was in company, gives the same date. This makes the interval five instead of three years.
Jacob Bowman came from about the mouth of Bowman’s creek, and settled on the opposite side of Towanda creek from Mr. Fox, about 1777. Some members of the family were accused by the Yankees of being Loyalists. Whatever of truth there may be in the accusation, Jacob was too young to take an active part in the contest, and was in the British camp only by compulsion. After the war he returned to his old home on the Towanda, married a daughter of Rudolph Fox, and was the father of a large and respectable family, some of whom still remain about the place of this early settlement.
George Kentner and Jacob Anguish (the full name was probably Hans Jacob) were among the earliest settlers at Wyoming, where they held rights in the Susquehanna company, and made common cause with the Yankees. They were both Germans, from Pennsylvania, and probably came together to Wyoming, as their names are found together in the list of Sept. 5, 1771. Anguish moved up into the neighborhood of Tunkhannock. In a deed given to Godfrey Guernsey, dated April 6, 1774, he describes “two hundred acres on Tunkhannock creek, being a part of a pitch I had liberty to make by the committee of settlers.” Kentner probably remained near Wilkes-Barre until March 22, 1774, when he sells lot No. 2 to William Stark, and moved near Anguish.
What was the occasion of the disaffection between these two men and the settlers below cannot now be ascertained. In the beginning 1777, they came up in the neighborhood of Sugar creek, or Sheshequin. Under date of March 18, 1777, Kentner deeds to Reuben Harrington his “house, grain, and improvements on a fourth of a proprietor’s right, and the improvements I now live on,” etc. In December of that year (1777) they, with sixteen others, were captured by the Westmoreland militia, and sent, under guard, to Hartford. In a memorial to the general assembly of Connecticut they tell their own story, which is as follows:
“To the Honourable Assembly of the State of Connecticut, now sitting
at Hartford, in sd State, the memorial of Jacob Anguish and George Kentner,
of Westmoreland, in sd State, humbly sheweth:
“That your memorialists, in the Spring of the year 1777, lived up the Susquehannah River about thirty miles above the main settlements on sd River; and by some evil and designing persons your memorialists were induced to leave sd settlement and move up sd River on to some Indian lands, and that soon after your memorialists had removed, your memorialists were taken by a number of foreign Indians and carried to Niagara, and then obliged to go into the service of the King of Great Britain or into confinement. Whereupon your memorialists went to battoing in sd service, and as soon as your memorialists could find opportunity, got from sd savages and returned to our former settlement, about thirty miles above the main settlement on sd River; and some time after our return as aforesaid, a number of persons who were inimical to the United States, with a number of Indians, came down sd River, and took and plundered sundry persons living up sd River. Whereupon the colonel of the 24th Regiment in sd State, sent a party to take sd party that had been taking, &c., as above said, and in their way found your memorialists, whom they suspected had been joining sd party plundering as aforesaid, and took and confined your memorialists in the common gaol in sd Westmoreland, and after some time sent your memorialists with others to the gaol in sd Hartford, where your memorialists are now confined, and your Honours’ memorialists would beg leave to say that your memorialists are friends to their country, and never had any intent to hurt or destroy their country, and are willing to take the oath of fidelity required in this State, and will to the utmost of our ability [contribute] to the support the United States. Whereupon your memorialists pray that they may be liberated from sd gaol and return to their families in sd Westmoreland, who are in distressed circumstances, or in some other way grant relief to your Honours’ memorialists as your Honours in your great wisdom shall think best, as your memorialists, in Duty bound, shall ever pray.
“Dated at Hartford, this 27th day of May, A.D. 1778.*
They were released.
* Connecticut Archives, Susquehanna Settlers, No. 90.
John Lord was an early settler near the mouth of Hornbrook. The only information I have of him or of his settlement is in the following from the Westmoreland records: Know all men by these presents, that I, John Lord, for and in consideration of forty-one Spanish milled dollars to me in hand paid by William Stewart,.…I do forever quitclaim unto him, the said Stewart, one whole right or share of land in the Susquehanna purchase, which right I bought of Major John Durkee on July 7, 1770, together with my improvement on the first flat below Sheshequin, with rights, privileges, and appurtenances, &c.,---given Feb. 17, 1772.”
John Seacord at first settled on the west side of the river above the narrows, nearly opposite Tunkhannock. Of his early history or place of emigration nothing definite is known. In 1777 he moved to Tioga Point, where he remained most of the time until the close of the Revolutionary war, when he retired with the British to Canada. “On the 8th of August, 1775, John Seacord was appointed with others a committee of inspection, to watch and note the conduct of the settlers in reference to their conduct towards the British cause; but he afterwards became lukewarm in the American side of the conflict, and was said to have become an active enemy or Tory.” (Col. Jenkins’ Journal.) In the spring of 1778 his son James, leading a band of Tories and Indians on an expedition for plunder as far as Wyalusing, sent forward his father to reconnoiter the village and see if any Yankee soldiers were there. Entering the house in which Mrs. York was living, he asked for something to eat. While she was getting the food in readiness, her son reported that three men were approaching on horseback. Seacord, in alarm, begged Mrs. York to secrete him, which she did, and after the men had crossed the river, Seacord informed Mrs. York of the approaching expedition, but said, “Mrs. York, you have saved me, and I will save you.” He returned to his son, and reported a strong force of Yankees in the settlement, and the hostile party beat a rapid retreat.
Mrs. Whittaker relates that while the Strope family were held as captives at Tioga Point, that Seacord was acting as a sutler to the British soldiers encamped there, and says, “While we were captives on the Susquehanna, a man by the name of John Seacord, a Tory, had some flour which had been brought from Niagara, and he was dealing it out to one and another of the company, and my mother went to him and begged for some for her children, who were almost starving. He refused to let her have any. His son Cyrus, standing by, said, ‘She is not to blame for her husband’s being a rebel;’ but he steadily refused to give her a morsel. The son, however, gave some to my mother without his knowing of it. After the war, this same Seacord and his son Cyrus came to Wysox to settle. His name stuck to him, but he did not stay long to hear it. My father heard he thought of settling on Franklin’s flats, and he went to him with a heavy ox-whip, and said, ‘John Seacord, do you think we are going to have you among us when you refused to let m wife have flour for her starving children?’ and followed that up with a terrible whipping. He left the settlement, but my father also told him before he left, if his son Cyrus would come, he would be glad to have him for a neighbor, and would do all for him that one neighbor should do for another.”
“Northumberland County, June 6, 1785.---John Secord, of the State of
New York, conveyes to Matthias Hollenback all his right, title, and interest
in a certain tract of land called Tioga Point, in the county of Northumberland
and State of Pennsylvania, at the Junction of the Tioga and Susquehanna
Rivers, with the improvements, in consideration of one hundred pounds,
“June 29, 1785, before me, Wm. Maclay, Esq., one of the Justices of the Court of Common Pleas for Northumberland County, came Jacob Bowman, of Tyoga, and James Whitney, of Wyoming, laborers, and made affidavit that they respectively knew of John Secord’s dwelling at Tioga Point, nearly where Matthias Hollenback has a dwelling and improvements, before the year 1780: and that the said Secord had a suitable house, barn, &c. Bowman says improved land to the value of seven or eight acres.”
“PHILADELPHIA COUNTY, ss.
“Personally appeared before me, Plunket Fleeson, one of the Justices of the aforesaid county, Rudolph Fox, of the county of Northumberland, being of full age, who, being duly sworn according to the law, deposeth and saith, that this deponent was at Tioga in the year one thousand seven hundred and seventy-eight, where he saw John Secord settled with his family at the point of Tioga, in a cabin built by the said Secord, and that the said Secord had considerable stock of cattle and horses. This deponent further saith that he and the said Secord, and all the settlers in that settlement, had positive warning from the Indians for them to move up immediately into their lines or settlements, and in case of neglect or disobedience of this order they might depend upon a total extinction. That the said Secord, with the rest of the settlers, was removed in consequence of these orders. That this deponent knew that a party of Indians had gone down the river to the Lower Settlements; that this deponent accidentally got the opportunity to come off with Col. Hartley’s troops, who had then arrived there. And this deponent further saith that he never knew said Secord to take up arms for or against the country, and further this deponent saith not.
“Sworn the 31st day of October, 1785, before
There was on the Tioga, in the township of Athens, and a little above the village, what is described by one of the journalists as “Provost’s plantation.” In the subsequent settlement of the place, quite an amount of buried household goods was found, consisting of pewter dishes, iron kettles, etc.; but who was the occupant of the property there is no certain knowledge. In fact, it is very certain that during the British and Indian occupation of this town in the early part of the Revolutionary war, quite a number of Loyalists had homes of more or less permanence in this region, extending from Tioga to Chemung, but their names and particular localities cannot be fixed, and would be of but little historical value if they could.
The following is a list of settlers in Springfield township before the war of 1778:* Leonard Lott,* Philip Painter,* Calvin Eaton, Benjamin Eaton, Edward Hicks, Benjamin Pawling,* William Pawling,* Jesse Pawling,* Edmund (Richmond) Berry,* ------ Page,* Josiah Dewey,* James Wells,* James Wells, Jr.,* Nathan Kingsley,* Amos York,* Isaiah Pasco,* Caleb Atherton,* Miner Robbins, William Dunn, Ephraim Tyler,* James Forsythe, Jacob Burt, Ephraim Bowman, John Segar, Benjamin Budd,* John Budd,* Joseph Budd,* Asa Budd,* William Crooks,* Ambrose Gaylord,* Justus Gaylord,* ---- Winters, Stephen Skiff, Prince Bryant,* Parker Wilson, Caspar Hoover. The above list is in the handwriting of Justus Gaylord, Jr.
* Pennsylvania land-office.
“1802, September 20th.---Before me, Thomas Cooper, personally appeared
Nathan Kingsley, Esquire, who, upon his oath, deposeth, that of the names
in the preceding list, he remembers all the persons thereby designated,
as settlers in the township of Springfield, before the year 1778, and many
of them in 1776 and 1777; but he cannot depose whether they settled specifically
under the Susquehanna title or not in the cases of Leonard Lott, Edward
Hicks, John Segar, ---- Winters, and Caspar Hoover, in the said list mentioned;
all the rest were generally known and understood by this deponent and others
to be settlers under the Susquehanna claim. Deponent further saith that
the Township of Springfield was first granted and laid out about the year
1775 (May, 1774), in what was called the Long Township; which not being
agreeable to the rules and regulations of the Susquehanna company, the
present five-mile township was granted about the spring of 1777.
“NATHAN KINGSLEY. His mark.
“Sworn before me, Sept. 20, 1802.
“September 20, 1802.--- Before me, Thomas Cooper, Commissioner under
the act of April 4, 1799, &c., appeared Justus Gaylord, who, upon his
oath, deposeth and saith, that he was a settler in the Township of Springfield
before the year 1778; during which time he personally knew the twenty-three
persons in the foregoing list, whose names are marked with a cross (*)
as settlers under the Connecticut title I said Township, as was then understood,
and as deponent believes, except Benjamin, William, and Jesse Pawling,
who were reported and understood to have purchased the title under Pennsylvania
as well as under Connecticut, for the land whereon they lived in said Township.
“JUSTUS GAYLORD, JR.
“Sworn before me, date as first above written.
LIST OF SETTLERS IN CLAVERACK*
“1802, October 4.---Before me, Thomas Cooper, Commissioner under
the act of April 4, 1799, for offering compensation, &c., personally
appeared Jacob Bowman, resident at the mouth of Towanda creek, out of the
Township of Claverack, and not owning any lands in the said Township, who,
upon his solemn oath, declared that he was acquainted with many of the
original settlers of the Township of Claverack, and that in particular
he knows the persons named in the list hereunder as settlers in the said
Township, under the Connecticut title, prior to and within the years 1784,
1785, and 1786, viz.: Jacob Bowman, Jesse Allen, Sebastian Strope, Sale
Robert, John Robert, Roswell Franklin, Arnold Franklin, Samuel Cole, Jehial
Franklin, John Newell, Abel Newell, Josiah Newell, Isaac Foster, Abiel
Foster, Rufus Foster, Daniel Guthrie, Ezra Rutty, Jonas Smith, Jacob Grenadier
(Grantier), Isaac Van Valkenburg, William Nelson, John Heath, Nathaniel
Heacock, Benjamin Gardner, Herman Van Valkenburg.
“JACOB BOWMAN. His mark.
“Sworn before me the day and date above written.
* Pennsylvania land-office.
“At the same time before me, the said Thos. Cooper, John Strope, of
the Township of Claverack, claimant of a lot in the said Township, who,
upon his solemn oath, deposes, that the above list of names, now by me
read over to him separately and distinctly, were to his knowledge settlers
under the Susquehanna title within the township of Claverack, previous
to the year 1786, except Samuel Cole, John Heath, Nathaniel Heacock, and
Benjamin Gardner, whom he knows only as settlers by reputation, and cannot
depose as to the time of their coming on.
“Mark of JOHN STROPE.
“Sworn before me, date as above.
PETITION OF ELIJAH PHELPS AND OTHERS.*
“To the Honourable General Assembly of the State of Connecticut, now
sitting at Hartford:
“The memorial of Lemuel Fitch, Richard J. Jeralds (Fitzgerald), Amos York, Benjamin Skiff, Benjamin Eaton, Benjamin Merry, John Williamson, Frederick Vanderlip, Nathan Kingsley, Nicholas Depew, Elijah Brown, Elijah Phelps, Ichabod Phelps, Elijah Phelps, Jr., James Forsythe, Thomas Millard, Thomas Millard, Jr., and James Wells, of the County of Westmoreland, humbly sheweth: That your memorialists were settlers on the Susquehanna river, in the upper part of the county aforesaid, nearly adjoining the Indian settlements, and were very much exposed to being plundered, robbed, and captivated by the Indians and Tories, and were obliged to leave our possessions and move off with our families and effects to a different part of the country for safety, whereby your memorialists are deprived of the privilege of our settlements and improvements for the support of our families; whereupon your memorialists pray your Honours would take our case into your consideration, and grant that our several rates made on the list of August, 1777, may be abated, or in some other way may grant relief, as your memorialists in duty bound will ever pray.
“on behalf of himself and others.
“HARTFORD, the 27th day of May, 1778.”
"Fitch, Jeralds, York, Skiff, Eaton, Kingsley, Forsythe, and Wells, are known to have been settlers in Bradford County.". This petition is not a fair statement of facts, and was doubtless made without the knowledge of all whose names are mentioned. York, Fitch, and Kingsley were at that date captives among the Indians; James Wells was in the Continental army; while some of the others were Tories in the British army.
* Connecticut Archives, Susquehanna Settlers, No. 86.
The story of our ancestors of this period, the perusal of the traditions and incidents, which have been gathered of their lives, has afforded us glimpses of their social condition. We have stood beneath their humble roofs, and looked with thoughtful eyes upon their few comforts. We have been made familiar with the simple things that made up the sum of their common necessities. Their food, clothing, and furniture have afforded suggestive glimpses of their manners, customs, and peculiarities. We have been witnesses of their thrift, and quiet, peaceful well-being, at one time, and of the privations they endured, and the outrages to which they were subjected, at another. We have returned with them from flight to look upon the blackened ruins of their dwellings, and their crops devastated by the red men, led on oftentimes by the more savage, malicious, and revengeful Tories. Their patient endurance, their zealous patriotism, their unconquerable devotion, their thrift, frugality, simplicity, rectitude, and fortitude, have arrested our attention, and caused us to think about them with unspeakable admiration and reverential pride. May their memory remain green and their example influential among us as long as freedom lives in America!