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Tri-Counties Genealogy & History by Joyce M. Tice
Passenger Pigeon in Pennsylvania, J.C. French, 1919
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In Pennsylvania and Elsewhere – A Tale of Reliable Observations
by John Lyman, a Pioneer

 In the annals of Potter County we find that settlement was made first in the vicinity of Coudersport, and at Roulette and at Burtville, in 1804.  In the spring of 1805, late in May, a hard freeze killed all the crops in their gardens and meager fields.  Floods in all the streams made it impossible to cart seeds from Jersey Shore, on the Susquehanna.  John Lyman, a youth of 18 or 19 years of age, offered to go by boat, down the Allegheny to Olean, or Hamilton as it was first named, where Adam Hoops had started a settlement in 1803, to get some seeds for their urgent need.
 With a companion he started, at once, with food for the trip and money to buy seeds.  Seven miles below Coudersport, at the mouth of Trout Brook, they landed and found an Indian family, planting corn in a narrow field on the river bank, which, with the Indian cemetery, half a mile below, upon a high gravelly bank, and a few deserted lodges, was all that then remained of the Seneca’s outpost and hunters’ town of Allegheweo.
 At a later date Mr. Lyman bought and cleared a farm there, where he spent the remainder of his life.  In 1866, he told this story, and many others, to the writer, in great detail, as we saw thirty Senecas from their reservation in Cattaraugus County, New York, encamped upon the site of the abandoned town, during the pigeon nesting near there.  The Indian cemetery was made by platforms in the trees.  Afterward Mr. Lyman buried the bones, parched corn, arrows, bows and ornaments of the Indian dead in the gravel near the river.  It has been enlarged and incorporated as the John Lyman Cemetery, and it is the principal place of interment in Roulette Township, to this day.
 In late May, 1805, John Lyman bought several hundred squabs of the Indians to take to Olean and barter for the seeds he was in search of; for there was a nesting then, near there, along Reed’s Run and on the hill from Point Lookout, where the canyon of the Sinnemahoning was overlooked for possible intruders from the south.  Smoke from their camp fires would betray their forays, for about fifty miles, to the Seneca scout and he would paddle down the river to Tununguam, their chief town on the Allegheny, nine miles below Olean, opposite to the mouth of a creek, now name Tuna Gwant, flowing past the city of Bradford and thence to the river.  The Senecas would then be ready to defend their hunting grounds, when the intruders arrived.
 The first night was spent by John Lyman with Cyrus Turner, at his home in a hollow buttonwood tree on the left bank at Voemont – Wailing Hill – and he went through to Olean the second night, where he sold the squabs; but found no seeds and continued down the river to Warren, Pa., calling at Tununguam on the way, where he became acquainted with John Titus, the young chief who led his braves, 1814, to Lundy’s Lane at Niagara Falls, Ontario, in one day – 80 miles – and joined the fighting Americans at sunset, the record for infantry; and also stopping at Cornplanter’s Run in Warren County, where he met John O’Bail, known as Chief Corplanter, the friend of the whiteman.
 He found that Captain Warren had been to Pittsburgh with rafts of pine lumber and, upon hearing of the freeze up the river, had hustled a boat load of fresh seeds to Warren, which had just arrived, and Mr. Lyman procured all he required and then began his arduous return trip – 100 miles up the Allegheny.  With help of Indians the canoe, loaded with seeds, was poled and, in swift places, hauled by towlines, back to Allegheweo, in fifteen days, and by oxen, on sleds onward to Coudersport, and beyond, to Lymansville, where all the gardens were replanted by the 24th of June, and the ruined corn fields sown with buckwheat, on and before July 4, by the rejoicing settlers.
 John Lyman told the story of the flocks of pigeons he had seen every day and of twenty colonies, in nesting valleys along the river, that he heard of from Indians, and estimated that these twenty wards each held a million adult birds – 20 millions in all.
 Fireside speculations, in doubtful tones, were rife for five years, until a nesting city along the Allegheny river was reported in 1810.  Then John Lyman and Francis King of Ceres made the trip over again, by canoe to Cornplanter’s town; thence on foot, returning across the segment of a circle made by the river in its northward sweep through fify miles of New York; thence southward again into Warren County, Pennsylvania.  They went up Sugar Run, near the boundary line between Warren and McKean Counties, to the magnificent beech timber around Marshburg; thence down to Kinzua Creek, in Lafayette Township (which was presented to Marquis de Lafayette in 1821 by William Bingham of Philadelphia, when the distinguished Frenchman revisited us.  It was parceled and sold to settlers, at a later date, after a forest road had been made through it, from the Clarion River valley to the Allegheny at Kinzua, Pennsylvania).  They ewnt up the Kinzua Valley, crossed the hills to Colegrove; then through Norwich Township; thence up Heath’s Creek in Keating Township to the Lookout and down Reed’s run to the Allegheny River, in Roulette Township, and up the river to Coudersport, Pa.
 They saw pigeons all the way, in that vigorous hardwood belt, beech predominating, and visited fifteen nesting colonies; besides hearing of five colonies north of the Allegheny in Cattaraugus County, New York, which they did not visit.  They decided that the estimate of twenty million adult birds in the Allegheny nesting city of Passenger Pigeons was conservative for the year  1810.  During the same month reliable observers have recorded other pigeon cities of equal proportions, viz:  On the east slope of Appalachian mountains, in New York and Pennsylvania; in Indiana and Ohio and two cities in Kentucky, one of which is described by the great Audubon and the other by the equally scientific naturalist, Alexander Wilson.  That is the data for approximating these birds at one hundred millions in 1810, which was recorded in each locality, independently, by men who were unknown to each other.  Each man of them, evidently, believed that he was telling a big story about all the Passenger Pigeons in existence being gathered together in the locality of his own observations.
 In his great book, “Origin of Species,” Charles Darwin has given us comfort, in the following paragraph of Section 574, viz:  “We need not marvel at extninction; if we must marvel, let it be at our own presumption in imagining for a moment that we understand the many complex contingencies on which the existence of each species depends.  If we forget for an instant, that each species does increase inordinately, and that some check is always in action, yet seldom perceived by us, the whole economy of nature will be utterly obscured.  Whenever we can precisely say why this species is more abundant in individuals than that; why this species and not another can be naturalized in a given country; then, and not until then, we may justly feel surprise why we coannot account for the extinction of any particular species or group of species.”  (In these chapters we are endeavoring to make plain the cause for development of the passenger pigeons in Eastern North America; and they persisted so long in Pennsylvania and adjacent states of the Appalachian regions of mountains and valleys.  At last they deserted their nesting place, undoubtedly, because the hunters had night – fires, appearing like a forest on fire.)
Explanatory Note
 Tradition may be wrong, as to the second trip having been in 1810.  Most likely, the second trip was made in 1814, the first one in 1810, as written history gives 1809 as the beginning of settlements in Potter County, near Coudersport, and 1810 at Roulette and Burtville, although the same authority says that Mr. Jaundrie had a shingle covered and sided house, and a cleared field at Jaundrie’s Creek, at the town of Shinglehouse on the Oswayo, in 1806; also that a Mr. Butler had lived there previous to 1797.  Perhaps the renegade, Walter Butler, from Tryon County, New York sought asylum there for a few years.

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Published On Tri-Counties Site On 7/23/2001
By Joyce M. Tice