A LIST OF THE PROMINENT EARLY MEN HERE—THOSE WHO STOOD IN THE FRONT—HON. CHARLES MINER's LIST AND OTHERS ADDED—ETC.
IN preceding chapters is mention of the doings of nearly all the early settlers. In ordinary cases this is the best account of men's lives. While it is true that worthy deeds live on forever, it is no less true that the association of the actors with the works do not always continue. But seldom in this world can it be said of a community, as of some rare individuals, that too much can not be told of them in the way of biography, as well as the most minute accounts of their acts and doings.
The following flowers "sacred to the dead" are culled mostly from the reminiscences of the late Hon. Charles Miner and from other sources; family and personal recollections which first appeared in a local paper under the signature of "Hazelton Traveler," adding to and completing to date where it was possible, as well as new ones from other sources.
Col. Zebulon Butler.—A biography of this eminent man, if at all complete, is a compilation of the essence of the story of the remarkable people who wrested this fair land from savagery and gave it to Christian civilization. A native of Lyme, New London county, Conn.; born in 1731; in full manhood when he first made his appearance among the people here, and his coming was hailed with declamations of joy, the settlers fully realizing that they were in sore need of just such a man. His father, John Butler, left the abundant evidences that he was a man of polite education. The best information is that both his parents came from England.
On the breaking out of what is usually called the old French war, Zebulon Butler entered the military service of his country, bearing the commission of ensign, in one of the provincial companies raised by Connecticut for the crown. On the northern frontier, particularly at Ticonderoga and Crown Point, his ambition was soon gratified by entering upon a field of stirring and honorable action. So early as 1761 he had attained the rank of captain, and the following year sailed with his company on the memorable expedition to the Havana. In the perils, the glory and the acquisitions of the capture of that important place, Capt. Butler shared. Whether his future companions in arms, Capts. Durkee and Ransom, served as subordinates in these early campaigns is not certainly known, but is rendered probable from the fact that both were officers in the old French war, and the three were in the Wyoming conflicts, early associated in friendship and action together.
Peace was concluded with France, and in 1763 the provincial troops were disbanded. The emigration of Capt. Butler to Wyoming in 1769, and subsequent events in which he bore a part up to the Revolutionary war, have been fully narrated. Soon after the contest with Great Britain commenced, Capt. Butler received the appointment of lieutenant-colonel of a regiment in the Connecticut line of the army, and in September, 1778, he "was appointed full colonel to the late Charles Webb's regiment, against the will of Lieut.-Col. Sherman, who intended to have had the regiment." This extract of a letter from Col. Thomas Grosvenor, dated 1778, is regarded as important, because it shows the excellent standing and popularity of Col. Butler the fall immediately after the massacre, when time sufficient had elapsed for the country and constituted authorities perfectly to ascertain the merits [p.322] or defects of his conduct on that memorable and trying occasion. When it is recollected that Lieut.-Col. Sherman, his competitor for the office, was the brother of the distinguished Roger Sherman, and that Col. Butler was absent while his rival was upon the ground, the commission reflects more than common honor upon the recipient.
After being withdrawn from Wyoming, Col. Butler served with honor to the close of the contest, and when the army was disbanded returned to his residence in Wilkes-Barre, where he passed the remainder of his life, the prudent but steady supporter of the rights of the settlers, looking confidently to the justice of Pennsylvania to settle the existing controversy, by an equitable compromise. Such was the estimation in which he was held that in 1787, on the establishment of Luzerne, he received from the supreme executive council the honorable appointment of lieutenant of the county, which he held until the office was abrogated by the new constitution of 1790.
On the 28th of July, 1795, aged sixty-four years, this gallant soldier and estimable citizen resigned his breath to God who gave it, and his remains were interred in the Wilkes-Barre cemetery.
Col. Butler was thrice married—first to Miss Ellen Lord before his emigration from Connecticut. The fruit of this union was two children: the late Gen. Lord Butler, and Mrs. Welles, consort of the late Roswell Welles, a lawyer of handsome talents and attainments, who in his day was judge of the court, colonel of a regiment and several times member of assembly. A daughter of Judge Welles, Mrs. Harriet Cowles, was consort of Col. Cowles, of Farmington, Conn. Lord had intermarried with the daughter of Abel Pierce. Their sons were Pierce, John, Chester, Zebulon and Lord.
Pierce is a farmer, on the fine plantation running from the river a few rods above the bridge to the village of Kingston; Rev. Zebulon Butler was the pastor of a Presbyterian congregation at Port Gibson, Miss.; John, Chester and Lord, of Wilkes-Barre, are among its most active businessmen. Sylvina, the eldest daughter, several years since deceased, was the wife of the Hon. Garrick Mallery; Ruth Ann, the second daughter, married Hon. John N. Conyngham; Phebe, married Dr. Donalson, removed with her husband to Iowa.
The second wife of Col. Butler was Miss Johnson, daughter of one of the first gospel ministers of Wyoming. Their union was brief, and a son, the late Capt. Zebulon Butler, their only child. It was said he was proud. In command of his company on parade he looked "every inch a man." Honorable, generous, high-spirited, he seemed to pant for a wider field and more exciting scenes of action. In rolling the bullet and other athletic exercises he had no superior. The writer (Mr. Minor), knew, admired and esteemed him. He was cut off in the prime of life, and his numerous and interesting family are widely scattered.
While on duty at West Point, near the close of the war, Col. Butler married his third wife, Miss Phebe Haight. Three children by this marriage survived: Steuben Butler, of Wilkes-Barre, one time since commissioner of the county, and for many years editor of the Wyoming Herald; Lydia, who intermarried with George Griffin, of New York. (The late Rev. Edmund Griffin, whose accurate and extensive learning and brilliant talents gave promise of unusual usefulness and fame, and whose early death was so deeply lamented, was the grandson of Col. Butler.); Mrs. Robinson (whose late husband, Mr. John Robinson, was a direct descendant of the pilgrim minister), the third child. Their only daughter inter- married with H. B. Wright, Esq., speaker of the house of assembly. We can not refrain from the remark that it is at once curious and pleasing that two speakers of the house, and two president judges have been so intimately connected with the ancient Wyoming sufferers.
The distinguishing traits of Col. Butler's character were activity, energy, a [p.323] high sense of honor, a courage, moral and professional, that, when duty called, knew no fear.
Gen. Lord Butler was the eldest son of Gen. Zebulon Butler. He was but a youth at the time of the Revolution, yet he was some time in camp with his father. He was tall—more than six feet—straight as an arrow, his countenance manly, with bold Roman features, his manners grave and dignified. Courteous he was; but it was the courtesy of a gentleman who felt the dignity of his own character. Lofty and reserved to those who loved him not, no one approached him with a joke or a slap on the shoulder. A man of active business habits, he wrote a bold, free and excellent hand, and his accounts and affairs were always in the strictest order. He rode admirably, and appeared extremely well on horseback; no one loved a noble steed better than he. He was always and everywhere the gentleman. Decided in his political opinions, and free in expressing them, his opponents said he was proud. If an unworthy pride was meant the charge was unjust. But if an election was depending, and he a candidate, he would neither shake hands with nor smile on a man with whom he would not have done the same as cordially if he had not been on the lists. His delicacy, in this particular, was probably carried rather to excess, for no truer republican ever lived—no one had a more sincere regard for his fellow-men—no man was more devoted to the independence and liberty of his country. But his reserve, which enemies construed into hauteur, was the result of early associations. His father, the gallant Col. Butler, who had been much with British officers in the old French war, and with the accomplished French officers in the war of the Revolution, had a good deal of dignity and gravity about him.
Frances Slocum.—One of the pathetic stories of the valley is that of Jonathan Slocum's family, members of the Friends society, all noted for kindness and benevolence, who were always assured by the Indians of not being harmed. His son Giles was in the battle of Wyoming, therefore the family was marked for vengeance, and the awful blow soon came. Nathan Kinsley had been taken prisoner, and his family found shelter under the hospitable roof of Slocum.
November 2 the two boys were engaged grinding a knife, a shot and cry brought Mrs. Slocum to the door, when she saw an Indian in the act of scalping Nathan, the eldest of the boys, aged fifteen. The savage entered the house, took up the little boy, Ebenezer Slocum, when the mother, pointing to the child's lameness, said: "See, he can do you no good!" He then put down the boy and picked up the girl, Frances Slocum, aged five, and taking the boy by the band marched off. A negro girl was also taken. This was all within 100 rods of the Wilkes-Barre fort; the dreadful alarm was quickly given and the Indians pursued, but were not found.
But a little more than a month after the above tragedy, December 16, Jonathan Slocum, his father-in-law, Isaac Tripp, and the aged William Slocum, were foddering cattle, when they were ambushed by Indians, fired upon, and Mr. Slocum shot dead; Mr. Tripp wounded and then tomahawked; both were scalped. William was wounded slightly, but escaped and gave the alarm. This occurred almost within the shadow of the Wilkes-Barre stockade. Could anything now add to the horrors of poor Mrs. Slocum? Within a month her little daughter carried away into captivity, a son killed and scalped before her eyes, two others of her family prisoners, and now her husband and father murdered.
It seems there was nothing left in life for that poor woman except to nurse the faith and hope that her little girl was alive, and that she would some day recover her. This was her waking and her sleeping dream. After the war and the delivery of many of the captives, this woman with her bruised heart would go to the place of surrender of captives in the faint hope of finding among the number her little Frances, only to return in black despair of disappointment. Her two brothers, prominent men of their day, joined her in the long hunt for the child and traveled [p.324] to every point where faint hope pointed. Heavy rewards were offered, after long traveling to the scattered tribes. The two brothers had exhausted every trace, and concluded she must be dead. Not so with the broken-hearted mother. Her image was always before her—the same smiling, loving, happy child. At last a girl, about the suitable age, who could only remember that she had been carried off from the Susquehanna, and knew not her name or her parents, was taken to Mrs. Slocum's home, but in time both the girl and woman became convinced that they were not of the same blood, and the unknown returned to the Indians, and the mother again returned to the hunt and hope of recovering Frances, a search and a hope that ended together with the stricken woman's pilgrimage upon earth.
Fifty-nine years after the capture, August, 1837, a letter appeared in the Lancaster Intelligencer, by G. W. Ewing, of Indiana, stating the fact that there was then living near that place with the Miami Indians, an aged white woman, who had told him that she was taken from her father's house, near the Susquehanna river, when she was very young, and that her father's name was Slocum, a Quaker, and he gave some other particulars of her. The publication of this letter created a deep impression in this part of the country, where the story of the lost child was so well known. With her friends not an hour was lost. Her brother, Joseph, though nearly 1,000 miles intervened, moved by affection, a sense of duty, and the known wishes of a beloved parent, made immediate preparations for a journey. Uniting with his younger brother, Isaac, who resided in Ohio, they hastened to Logansport, where they had the good fortune to meet Mr. Ewing. Frances, who resided about a dozen miles from that place, was soon apprised of their coming. While hope predominated, doubt and uncertainty, amounting almost to jealousy or suspicion, occupied her mind. She came into the village riding a spirited horse, her two daughters, in Indian costume, accompanying her, with the husband of one of them. Her manners were grave, her bearing reserved. She listened, through an interpreter, to what they had to say. But night approached. Cautious and prudent, she rode back to her home, promising to return the coming morning. At the appointed hour she alighted from her steed, and met them with something more of frankness, but still seemed desirous of further explanation. It was evident on all sides they were almost prepared for the recognition. Mr. Joseph Slocum at length said, what he had so far purposely kept back, that their sister at play in their father's smith- shop with the children, had received a blow on the middle fidger of the left hand, by a hammer on the anvil, which crushed the bone, and the mother had always said that would be a test that could not be mistaken. Her whole countenance was instantly lighted up with smiles, while tears ran down her check, as she held out the wounded hand. Every lingering doubt was dispelled. Hope was merged into confidence. The tender embrace, the welcome recognition, the sacred, the exulting glow of brotherly and sisterly affection, filled every heart present to overflowing. Her father! Her dear, dear mother! Did she yet live? But they must long since, in the course of nature, have been gathered to their native dust. Her brothers and sisters? The slumbering affections awakened to life, broke forth in earnest inquiries for all whom she should love.
She then related the leading events of her life. Her memory, extremely tenacious, enabled her to tell that, on being taken, her captors hastened to a rocky cave on the mountain where blankets and a bed of dry leaves showed that they had slept. On the journey to the Indian country she was kindly treated. the Indian carrying her, when she was weary, in his arms. She was immediately adopted into an Indian family and brought up as their daughter, but with more than common tenderness. Young Kinsley, who was located near them, in a few years died. The woman showed all the quiet stoicism of the Indian nature. The first interview ended and she agreed to return the next day as stated. When complete recognition was established she invited them to go with her to her cabin home, where they spent several [p.327] days. Mrs. Ziba Bennett, daughter of Joseph, was one of the party. Every inducement that wealth and love could offer was made to induce her to return to her old home, but in vain. She thought it all over, and, no doubt wisely, concluded to remain with the people with whom she had spent so much of her eventful life. She felt that she was aging rapidly; that her days upon earth were but few, and in peace and the fullness of time she soon passed away. In Mrs. Abi Bntler's house in Wilkes-Barre conspicuous on the wall hung a full life-sized likeness of the "lost sister" in her Indian costume, of itself a mute, pathetic story of the Slocum family—a story read of all children and wept over by the mothers of the civilized world.
Mrs. Abi Slocum Butler departed this life March 15, 1887, at the residence of her daughter, Mrs. Ruth B. Hillard, in Wilkes-Barre. Mrs. Butler was a daughter of Joseph Slocum, one of the prominent pioneers, who married Sarah, daughter of Judge Jesse Fell, the man whom it was claimed discovered the use of anthracite coal in grates in 1808. Slocum's children were seven: Hannah, born in 1800, married Ziba Bennett and died in 1855; Ruth Tripp, born 1804, married Gen. William S. Ross, died in 1882, Deborah, born in 1806, married Anning Chahoon; Abi, born in 1808, married Lord Butler and died as above stated; George, born in 1812, married Mary Grandon; Jonathan, born 1815, married Elizabeth Cutler Le Clerc, died 1860; Harriet Elizabeth, born 1819, married Charles B. Drake.
Abi was aged twenty-four when married with Col. Lord Butler, and spent her life in Wilkes-Barre. Her daughter, Ruth B., is the widow of W. S. Hillard; Mary B. Mrs. Eugene B. Ayers.) The four sons of Abi Butler were Joseph, Zebulon, Ziba and Edmund G., the last named only surviving their mother.
Lord Butler was the son of Gen. Lord Butler and a grandson of Col. Zebulon Butler, the latter one of the most distinguished of the great Revolutionary patriots in northern Pennsylvania. He was in command of the heroic band of pioneer settlers who fought the British-Indians and tories in 1778 near Forty fort. Col. Zebulon Butler married Anna Lord, and of this union was the elder Lord Butler born at Lyme, Conn., in 1770. Lord Butler was one of the early and most prominent men in Wyoming valley; advanced to the highest position in the State militia; was first high sheriff of Luzerne county, then prothonotary, clerk of the courts, register and recorder. The courts were held in his house for years on the corner of River and Northampton streets, where is now Judge Stanley Woodward's residence. In 1790 he was a member of the supreme executive council of the State; was postmaster in Wilkes-Barre in 1794; in 1801 he was a member of the State assembly, and afterward was county commissioner and then was county treasurer; filled the office of borough councilman of Wilkes-Barre; was president of the board, and from 1811 to 1814 was burgess. His wife was Mary Pierce, granddaughter of Abel Pierce, one of the distinguished pioneers of the valley. Their youngest son was Lord Butler, born in 1806; married Abi Slocum in 1832, who was two years his junior, but who survived him twenty-five years, as he died in 1861 in the brick building on the public square, a building erected by Joseph Slocum in 1807—the first brick edifice in Wilkes-Barre. Lord Butler, 2d, was a civil engineer and identified with all the public works in this part of the State. The last twenty years of his life he was engaged in coal mining at Pittston with his brother, Col. John L. Butler, and his brother-in-law, Judge Garrick Mallory.
Col. Nathan Denison.—A name immortally linked with the battle of Wyoming. He commanded the left wing of Col. Butler's forces, and received the shock of the overwhelming flankers of the enemy; here was the heavy slaughter of that bloody day. The enemy suddenly rose from their ambush, to his left and rear, and with savage yells and fury bore down upon his command. In order to meet this movement that officer was compelled to execute the double maneuver of wheeling to the left and at the same time fall back to prevent the enemy from gaining his rear, a dangerous movement to attempt in the face of a flank onslaught, even with [p.328] the best of the "Old Guard." The commander promptly gave the order; the men quickly moved, when many lost all control of themselves and started a "stampede." Denison and his intrepid officers did all that could be done to rally the men and meet the shock of battle, but in vain. The bloody sequel is known to the world.
He was in command of the fort and negotiated the terms of honorable surrender, under the circumstances, alike creditable to his head and heart. The flaming falsehoods that went into the contemporary history of that day, into all the accounts of the scenes after the surrender, as published in the histories of Ramsey, Gordon, Botta, Marshall, and the London Gentleman's Magazine of 1778, while "all false," as Mr. Minor says, were a most outrageous reflection on the transactions as negotiated and carried out under the wise and able leadership of Col. Denison. In behalf of his memory let it never be forgotten, and strange it is that these writers never thought of referring to Col. Denison for the truth of history, the very man above all others cognizant of the facts—but seized upon the wildest imaginings and published these as the truths of history. He evidently regarded these bloody fictions as unworthy serious refutation, and during his long and worthy life among his old neighbors and friends he never so much as referred to them. He was ready to tell, and did often tell, all who inquired of him that after the surrender there was but one life taken, and that was the execution of Boyd, by Col. John Butler, as a deserter from the British army; he was tried by court-martial and shot. Much in the same way Gen. Sullivan executed one of his men here when on his noted expedition.
Nathan Denison and Zebulon Butler were commissioned by the general assembly justices in 1773, when this was, of the colony of Connecticut, erected into a chartered town, called Westmoreland, and attached to the county of Litchfield, Conn., and upon them chiefly devolved the work of organizing the machinery of civil government here. Both were men admirably equipped by nature and education for the difficult work of creating States.
From first to last Gen. Denison stood faithfully by his friends and neighbors, and to his last hour on earth no man was more beloved and respected by everybody. When the long double struggle was finally ended, and the jurisdiction of Connecticut ceased, and the Pennsylvania authority was complete, Gen. Denison was appointed one of the associates of the court for the county, the four members of the court being Denison, Gore, Fell and Hollenback, selected as men having eminently the full confidence of the people; men of integrity and sound sense.
Judge Denison, as he was universally called in the latter years of his life, returned to Connecticut soon after peace was declared, and brought his father, who resided here the remainder of his days, died in 1803, aged eighty-eight.
Col. Nathan Denison was united in marriage with Miss Sill in 1769, in a log cabin that stood on what is the corner of River and South streets, at one time where stood the old Wells house,—the first marriage in Wyoming.
Their son, Lazarus Denison, was born in 1773, and is said to be the first white child born in the valley.
George Denison, a son of Col. Denison, became one of the prominent men of northern Pennsylvania, was several terms in the legislature, and a member of congress; in every station serving with distinguished ability and fidelity.
Col. Nathan Denison departed this life January 25, 1809, aged sixty-eight years.
Dorrances.—Col. Benjamin Dorrance was a son of Col. George Dorrance, and of this member of the family Mr. Miner here makes special mention; opening his remarks with a description of the beautiful farm on which he resided—a part of the old Butler domain.
The Dorrance family came from Windham county, Conn. There were two brothers, George and John, who settled in Kingston; both men of intelligence and [p.329] energy. Lieut.-Col. George Dorrance, in 1777, led a large scouting party up the river consisting of eighty men, to disperse or capture a settlement of Indians and tories on the Wyalusing. Having accomplished the object, an unseasonable snow storm detained them beyond their expected time, and they suffered extremely from cold and hunger. By Col. Dorrance's order rafts were made of the huts from which the enemy had been driven, and the whole of the company were safely wafted down to Forty fort. In the battle Lieut.-Col. Dorrance commanded on the left wing under Col. Denison. His coolness in the midst of the fight, when one of his men gave way, is shown by the firm command, instantly obeyed: "Stand up to your work, sir." He fell in the prime of life, being about forty-five. In the Independent company of Capt. Ransom was Robert, the eldest of his two sons. He served to the close of the war; afterward in the western army; and was in the battle resulting in St. Clair's defeat. A good soldier, he was said to have been one of the few who did not abandon his gun in the flight. True to his colors to the last, he died in the army, supposed to have fallen in a subsequent engagement. Col. Benjamin Dorrance departed this life in August, 1837, aged seventy years, and was interred in the Kingston burying ground with every possible mark of respect and affection. He left two sons. Col. Charles Dorrance, resembling much his father. The Rev. John Dorrance was pastor of the Presbyterian church in Wilkes-Barre many years.
Benjamin Dorrance was in Forty fort at the time of the surrender, but a lad at the time. His young mind was deeply affected by the scenes of that day.
When a young man he was elected sheriff of Luzerne county. Soon after his term as sheriff expired, he was elected county commissioner. In 1808 he was chosen member of the assembly, and was re-elected for several terms, as often as he would consent to stand for the office. Among the characteristics of Col. Dorrance conspicuously shone the virtues of firmness and moderation. Ebenezer Bowman used to say he united in an extraordinary degree the suavitor in modo with the fortiter in re. Concession and conciliation, when no principle was involved, restoring harmony and inspiring confidence by healing councils, were his weapons and policy. Grave at the council board, merry at the banquet—his life has been highly useful, respectable and happy.
John Dorrance was born in 1733, the elder brother of Col. George Dorrance; lived a bachelor life and died in July, 1804, aged seventy-one years.
Lieut.-Col. George Dorrance, of the militia, reported killed, was severely wounded, taken prisoner, and being unable to march with his captors, it is said, was massacred the next day, the 4th. Perhaps it is nearer the truth to think he died of his wounds.
He and his brother John, sons of Rev. Samuel Dorrance, came to Wyoming with the early immigrants. George was born March 4, 1736. John died January 9, 1804.
Rev. Samuel Dorrance was a Scotch Presbyterian minister, and was graduated at Glasgow university, Scotland, and came to this country from Ireland in 1722, and was ordained a minister of the church at Voluntown, Conn., October 23, 1723, where he was serving as late as 1760. He died November 12, 1775, aged ninety years.
Benjamin Dorrance was a son of Col. George Dorrance; and he made this place his residence, returning with the family as soon as the dangers of war were passed enough for the Wyoming people to again possess their ruined homes.
Col. Charles Dorrance was a son of Benjamin Dorrance, and almost on the very ground where his heroic grandfather offered up his life as a sacrifice on the altar of liberty, spent his long, useful and honorable life.
Benjamin, father of the late Charles, was the son of George by his second wife. He was born in 1765 and died August 24, 1837. He was one of the most popular [p.330] men of his time, having been county commissioner, sheriff and seven times a member of the Pennsylvania legislature. He was also the first president of the Wyoming (now the Wyoming National) bank of this city. He married Nancy Buckingham, of Windham, Conn.
Col. Charles Dorrance was born January 4, 1805, and died at the old family home in Dorranceton, January 18, 1892. At the time of his death one of the oldest representatives of one of the most prominent pioneer families in the valley, a direct descendant of one of the noblest lives sacrificed in the Wyoming battle on the fateful day of July 3, 1778, and one into whose veins the patriotic blood of patriotic ancestry infused a spirit akin to theirs, which kept their early struggles and hardships ever fresh in his mind and filled him with a desire to honor their memory in public exercises on each recurring anniversary of their sacrifice. The spirit was finally inspiration for the organization of the Wyoming Commemorative association, which, beginning with the 3d of July, 1878, has annually held appropriate exercises on the monument grounds, conducted by the Colonel as president of the association —a position which he filled from the time of its organization until his death. He was proud of his ancestry, proud of their self-sacrificing devotion to homes and country, and in his declining years manifested a desire not only to do them honor himself, but to inspire those younger than he with the same patriotic impulse, so that when he should have passed away there would be others to take up his work and continue it with the same zeal that had characterized his efforts in its behalf.
He was born and always lived in the old homestead, surrounded by a beautiful farm of generous and productive acres, and his home has ever been one of the pleasantest and most attractive in the valley, noted for its hospitality, always offering a hearty, whole-souled welcome to the guest and imparting to the visitor the same genial, comforting feeling enjoyed by all the members of his household.
While he never sought official position, he was still more or less a public man and felt a keen interest in all that pertained to the public good. One whose wise counsels were largely sought, he exerted an influence upon almost all with whom he came in contact, and his life was one of industrious activity and marked success.
His military title, which he carried for about fifty years, was won in service with the Wyoming Volunteers, having risen from the position of captain through the successive grades to the rank of colonel. He was for a number of years one of the prison commissioners of Luzerne county, his appointment having been the last official act of Judge Conyngham, and served as president of the board during his several terms. At the time of his death he was president of the Wyoming National bank and of the Wilkes-Barre Bridge company, both of which positions he had held for many years, discharging their duties with marked ability. Both prospered under his wise and judicious guidance. The Wyoming National bank is to-day one of the most stable institutions of its kind in the country, and the son, as its head, proved a worthy successor to the father who preceded him by more than half a century.
It may be said of Col. Dorrance that those who knew him best found most in him to admire. Beneath an exterior that may at times have appeared cold and indifferent, there was a warm-hearted, generous and sympathetic nature, and while his charity was not of the ostentatious kind, it may not be said that a truly worthy subject was ever turned from his door empty handed, and many there are who have cause to cherish grateful remembrance of him for kindnesses that he had done. His friendship was stable and lasting, he recognized worth whenever and in whomsoever he found it, and in his mind industry, integrity and honesty of purpose were cardinal virtues and passports to admiration and favor.
Of his family surviving he left a widow, who was Susan E. Ford, youngest daughter of Hon. James Ford, of Lawrenceville, Pa., and five children—four sons and a daughter: Benjamin F. and J. Ford Dorrance, of Dorranceton; John, of [p.331] Keytesville, Chariton county, Mo.; Charles, of Chicago, and Mrs. Sheldon Reynolds, of this city, to whom, besides a generous bequest of worldly possessions, he leaves an honored name and the record of an unusually long life of business activity, indomitable energy, supreme usefulness and flattering prosperity.
The first time the writer of these lines ever saw Col. Dorrance he was presiding over the regular annual meeting of the Wyoming Commemorative association, July 3, 1891, at the base of the monument on the ground where is the dust of the fallen heroes. The grand old man, eloquent in every movement on the anniversary of that memorable day, and prophetic too in warning those younger men present that he was with them for the last time, at least officially, if not in propria persona, his noble face kindled with the fire of patriotism as he referred to the sacred ashes beneath the pyramid of stone above them. He counseled the younger generation to take up the good work that he was about to quit, and at each succeeding celebration to kindle anew the signal fires of liberty and patriotism. I could not but think that were it possible for the dead to know something of the movements upon earth—to see their descendants gathered at the base of their mausoleum, with this noble lineal representative of Col. George Dorrance presiding over the exercises of the day—they would know that the noble sacrifices of noble men were not in vain.
Col. Mathias Hollenback was a native of Virginia, who heard of this wonderful valley and came to see it; a born merchant and trader, and by association and a strong love of justice and liberty, became in a brief time a prominent "Connecticut settler."
In 1771, when the whole white population on the east side of the river occupied a stockade at the point where Mill creek unites with the Susquehanna, Mr. H. then aged eighteen, was one of its inhabitants. Huts were erected around the inside against the upright timbers. One was possessed by Capt. Zebulon Butler; next in the row was the store, containing the humble beginnings of the object of this notice. A boarding hut, having two rooms, was the third in order, kept by Dr. Sprague, Mr. Nathan Denison, a young bachelor from Stonington, making one of the family. On the enlistment of two independent companies being directed at Westmoreland, congress appointed Mathias Hollenback an ensign. Sergt. Williams used to take pleasure in relating the battle at Millstone, and the daring spirit exhibited by Ensign H., when he led and cheered his men, wading the river waist deep to attack the British regulars, insuring victory. When danger to Wyoming became imminent, and congress turned a deaf ear to pressing calls for protection, throwing up his commission he returned, not to avoid, but to meet danger. The skill acquired by eighteen months' service in camp was imparted to the militia, and his undaunted and elastic spirit infused into all around him. When the invasion came, when that terrible descent was made by Butler and his savage allies, when the war tocsin rung, and the alarm trumpet sounded from hill to hill, calling to battle, young Hollenback was among the foremost who sprang to arms and prepared to meet the foe. Our little army was composed chiefly of aged, or very young men, hastily called together. An enemy, fearful for his numbers, and terrible for his ferocity, was descending upon them. A vast distance and howling wilderness intervened between the settlement and any hope of assistance. It was indeed the moment to try the firmness of a soldier. Nearly all who were able to bear arms assembled; and Mr. Hollenback took his station in the midst of them. But two, or nearer three to one, was hopeless odds; while the right under our gallant Butler, where Hollenback was stationed, was advancing, the left, outflanked by hordes of savages, was compelled to give way. Thrown into confusion, the retreat became a rout, which no human courage or conduct could arrest. Mr. Hollenback was among those who escaped to the river. Expert in all manly exercises, he swam to Monocacy island, and then to the eastern shore. Foreseeing the necessity of instant aid from abroad, mounting his horse, he rode all night, gave information to Capt. Spalding's company, which so tardily had been [p.332] permitted to advance, and with praiseworthy thoughtfulness, rapidly returned, laden with bread, for the relief of the flying widows and their suffering children. Imparting a saving morsel to one, and then hastening on to another starving group, he came, said the ancient people, "like an angel of mercy." Ever prompt at the call of duty, Mr. Hollenback was actively engaged in collecting the remains of the slain, and giving them the most decent burial circumstances at that time permitted. On the passage by the Connecticut assembly of a resolve, allowing Wyoming to make, their own powder, Mr. Hollenback was looked to, to provide the requisite machinery. His arrival with the "Pounders" was spoken of by Mrs. Jenkins, with exultation, as an important event, for previously powder for the settlement was (chiefly) brought from Connecticut on horseback. After the enemy retired Mr. Hollenback was among the first to return and resume his former business. His shrewdness, foresight and enterprise soon had laid the sure foundation of his fortune. He was the first to establish a line of stores from Wilkes-Barre to the Genesee, along the Susquehanna river, and no man was better known through lower New York and all over northern Pennsylvania. At every principal point he established a store, and at such place would open a farm—carrying merchandise and commerce hand in hand. A most valuable man in the frontier community; his large views and public spirit were nearly invaluable in their time. After the contention over the soil here had ceased, he received many marks of favor from the Pennsylvania authorities. He was connected with the early militia of the county and from this circumstance received his military title, but he was more widely known in the later years of his life as "Judge" Hollenback. On the organization of Luzerne county he was chosen one of the associate judges—a position he filled nearly forty years, to the hour of his death. He was a noted friend of public improvements, and no man watched with keener interest the building of the canal up the river. He was a rough, strong man of large ideas and swift performance. Born February 15, 1752, he died February 18, 1829, aged seventy-seven years.
Col. John Jenkins was the son of John Jenkins, a magistrate and surveyor. Responsive to the first whisper of independence, the people of the valley assembled in town meeting to proclaim their hearty approval of the movement. The presiding officer at that meeting was Col. Jenkins; he was moderator, and in common with the other patriots assembled, devoted their lives and their sacred honor to the great cause of their fellow-man. Of that meeting and its resolves in behalf of liberty, Hon. Charles Miner has well said: "I would rather have those patriotic votes to show, as the work of an ancestor of mine, than the proudest patent of nobility ever granted by a king."
Col. John Jenkins was appointed tax collector, but was enrolled for military duty and was actively employed from first to last. He served the people with ability and fidelity in the Connecticut general assembly, when this was Westmoreland county. His neat and accurate records of surveys from Wilkes-Barre extending a considerable distance into New York, are the never-failing authority of civil engineers to this day. He was a democrat and nearly worshiped his ideal, Thomas Jefferson, while his friend and much a close companion in all those times that tried men's souls, Col. John Franklin, was an enthusiastic federalist. Here their political lines parted, but on the great question of liberty and human rights they were as the steel and magnet.
Of his capture while on a scouting expedition near Wyalusing, has been told on a preceding page. After a long and cruel captivity he returned and was the first to bring positive information of the invasion. The joy of the people at his safe return was turned to sudden gloom by the cloud then seen to be gathering in the north. He had been only recently married when captured. Mrs. Bertha Jenkins lived to the age of eighty-four years; died in 1841.
After the battle of Wyoming he joined Capt. Spalding's company and came in [p.333] with him under the command of Col. Butler. When the troops had advanced to the second mountain, within five or six miles of Wilkes-Barre, two parties were detached of ten men each, under Ensign M. Hollenback, to go down between the mountains and strike the valley opposite Nanticoke falls; the other, under Lieut. Jenkins, to go northerly and strike the river at Lackawanna. Ensign Hollenback saw a party of savages, who fled to their canoe; a shot from one of his rifles wounded an Indian, who sprang into the river, but was buoyed up by his friends till they reached the opposite shore, when he was carried off—whether dead or alive, could not be ascertained. One of our men, bravely, perhaps rashly, swam the river, found marks of blood, took the canoe as a trophy, and returned to his companions. Ensign Hollenback then marched up to Wilkes-Barre and met the main body. Lieut. Jenkins, on arriving at the river at Pittston, wheeled to march down, when he encountered a party of the enemy. His orders were prompt, his conduct spirited. At the head of his men he advanced; they fired on the Indians, but their retreat was too rapid. A person with him assured us that the conduct of Jenkins showed that he was of true courage, an undoubted soldier—a character which he sustained throughout the war. Congress conirmed his appointment—issued his commission —and he continued in active service till peace.
In 1779, when Gen. Sullivan advanced into the Indian country, Lieut. Jenkins was selected, for his activity, zeal, and knowledge of the country, for one of his guides; the arduous and responsible duty he performed in a satisfactory manner. Lieut. Jenkins was in the decisive battle of Newtown, and among the most efficient and useful officers of his grade in that campaign. He was always at the post of duty, of danger and of honor; and left the service, at its close, with the reputation of a faithful patriot and good soldier.
When peace came Mr. Jenkins became an active surveyor, and followed his compass, both in the Genesee country, and on the waters of the Susquehanna. In civil and political affairs he took an active part, and possessed a large share of public confidence. He held various civil and military offices in Luzerne—was commissioner of the county, member of assembly, colonel of militia, etc. When the great division in parties took place, Col. Jenkins zealously espoused the democratic side—while his distinguished friend and rival, Col. Franklin, took an active part with the federal party. For many years these two famous champions maintained a prominent lead, and were, in a good measure, the rallying points of the different parties. It was huzza for Col. Jenkins! Huzza for Col. Franklin! Both were respected, both beloved, both were men of unquestionable public virtue, capacity and patriotism.
Col. Jenkins died in April, 1827, aged seventy-three. In person he was of middle hight, stout, well-proportioned, framed for strength, endurance and activity combined; extremely hospitable, remarkably clever, yet grave, almost to austerity, in his looks when in thought or not speaking, but when animated in conversation there was patent the open window of a noble soul.
Col. George Palmer Ransom, son of Capt. Samuel Ransom, was hardly fourteen years of age at the commencement of the war of the Revolution, yet he was among the first to shoulder his musket and go forth to battle for freedom. In the dead of winter, in 1777, as a member of his father's company, he marched out to join Washington's army. Capts. Ransom's and Durkee's companies, when they were sent to Washington had about eighty men each; attached to no regiment or brigade, but acted as independent, and were, therefore, always in the more exposed and dangerous positions. They went to Morristown by way of Stroudsburg; thence to Millstone. The enemy were at Brunswick, about an hour's march distant. The enemy came out in considerable force to forage, carrying three pieces of cannon. They were attacked, routed and forty-seven wagons and 130 horses taken from them. In the engagement Justice Porter was almost cut in two by a cannonball. Capt. Ransom [p.334] brought to Wilkes-Barre one of the wagons as a trophy. The property captured was divided among the soldiers and amounted to about $4. each. The two independent companies during the following summer suffered much from sickness. Colton, Worden, Austin and James Smith had returned or were on a furlough. The companies were at Brandywine and Germantown and the bombardment of Mud fort, and then stationed at Woodbury, and a portion of them on detached duty, and exposed to the enemy's hottest fire, where Constant Matthewson, of Ransom's command, was killed. They wintered at Valley Forge. The news now began to reach them of the threatened invasion, and some of the men came home, some of the officers resigned, and the two companies were consolidated and placed under Capt. Simon Spalding.
Young Ransom remained with Capt. Spalding, and without the saying, one can well imagine what a heavy heart he had when he bade his father good-by, as he was about to return to his home and the defence of his fireside. They were their last words together on earth. Capt. Samuel Ransom was but forty-one years of age when his noble life was the bloody sacrifice upon the sacred altars of home and liberty. Capts. Ransom and Durkee live forever! Linked together in immortality, as in life in the service of your fellowman, your chivalry and endurance were not in vain!
Capt. Spalding's company, with whom was Private Ransom, was on the day of the battle, July 3, at Merwine's, and met the flying inhabitants, and in August, under Col. Butler, marched into Wilkes-Barre. Ransom was present for duty and served in all of Gen. Sullivan's expeditions, and was in the battle of Newtown.
The gallant young soldier was taken prisoner by the British in December, 1780. An old man named Harvey, and Bullock, Frisby, Cady and Elisha Harvey were taken at the same time. From a diary kept by the young man it is learned that he was taken in February, 1781, to Canada, forty-five miles above Montreal, on the St. Lawrence, on an island, where were 166 Americans, guarded by tories. All were subjected to the most cruel and brutal treatment; scourged, flogged, starved and exposed to the bitterest weather, without bedding and sufficient clothing. He then says:
"We remained here till the 9th day of June, when myself and two others, James Butterfield and John Brown, made our escape from the island and laid our course for Lake Champlain. The 11th, at noon, we came to the lake, and three days after we got to a settlement at Hubbertston, Vt.—the next day to Castleton, to a fort—from that to Pultney, where I had an uncle living. My companions went on to Albany, and there proclaimed the cruelty of the Scotch officer. It was published in the papers; a flag was dispatched to remonstrate against such abuse of our men, and we had the pleasure to hear, not long after, that MacCalpin was tried and broke, the prisoners being called as witnesses against him.
"After visiting his relations at Canaan, Conn., of which he was a native, Mr. Ransom returned to Wyoming, and soon after joined his company, attached to Col. Butler's regiment, stationed at West Point, where he remained till honorably discharged, at the close of the war.
"From that time to this (1845) Mr. Ransom resided at Plymouth, upon the beautiful Shawnee flats, perhaps the richest portion of Wyoming. He was called by the votes of his fellow-citizens to command the regiment, which his knowledge of military tactics well fitted him to maneuver and discipline. Having served his country during the dark hours of the Revolutionary contest long and faithfully, unambitious of office, he lived respected and beloved. Hardships endured while in the service, combined with age, affected his limbs, so that he helped himself along with two short staves or crutches.
He was strongly made, broad chested, and active in early life. He sprang quickly and he moved fast who got ahead of him then. His life and cheerfulness in the most gloomy hour diffused itself in good humor and spirit through the whole company. [p.337] The death of his father, the losses and sacrifices in the Revolutionary contest—for the savages and tories spared nothing of theirs when they swept the valley by fire and sword—left him poor at the close of the war, and imposed the necessity of constant industry. Children and grandchildren, among the most respectable in the valley, are living and growing up around him, and may be proud to claim descent from such ancestors. Without being wealthy, he was comfortable in his old age. No one taking a livelier pleasure in beholding the freedom and prosperity of his beloved country, the fruits of his father's and his own toils and sufferings. Rare indeed is the case presented of a son serving through the whole Revolutionary contest, and of his father serving several years and laying down his life in the same noble cause. Verily the services and the blood of the Ransoms have been a portion of that seed from which have sprung up the independence, freedom and prosperity which make happy our favored land."
To this account Mr. Miner added the following note:
"1845. Col. Ransom is still in the enjoyment of very tolerable health, except his lameness, though his age is eighty-two. A grandson, George Palmer Steele, has just closed his term of office as sheriff of Luzerne. Capt. Ransom, his father, was born in Canterbury. He and Capt. Durkee had both been in the old French war. Durkee, at the time of his death, was fifty, Capt. Ransom forty-one. Col. Durkee, an older brother, who is frequently spoken of, 1769, and afterward as colonel of one of the Connecticut regiments, died at Norwich, more than forty years ago, and was buried with extraordinary display."
He died at his home in 1850, at the green old age of eighty-seven years.
Sergt. Thomas Williams.—Of the descendants of this border hero was the late Ezra Williams, of Plains; his daughter, Mrs. Elizabeth A. Stewart, was the mother of Mrs. George B. Kulp, of Wilkes-Barre. Robert Williams emigrated to this conntry from England in 1637 and located in Roxbury, Mass. Ezra's grandfather, Thaddeus Williams, removed to Wyoming valley from Connecticut at an early day; driven from here after the invasion in 1778, and his house and property destroyed. He afterward returned and settled in Wilkes-Barre. In 1790 he was a resident of Weston, Conn.; died April 11, 1796. His wife, Frances Williams, nee Case, of Hartford, Conn., died in August, 1815.
Thomas Williams, son of Thaddeus, was born in Fairfield county, Conn., January 19, 1756. Fired by the love of liberty, participating with the patriotic spirits of that day, who were indignant at the encroachments of England upon the rights of America, he was among the first that joined the standard of his country at Wyoming when the recruiting banner was unfurled by order of the continental congress. Mr. Williams was in constant service till the end except when allowed to return on furlough (which was a frequent practice in the service), when a brother or friend took his place for a season. Thus at one time Mr. Williams' brother, Isaac, took his place for a month or two. The year of the massacre Isaac Williams and John Abbott were ambushed by the savages, and both murdered and scalped, near Mill creek. Isaac was only eighteen when he fell. He was fearless and active, ardent and patriotic. It is impossible, even at this late day, to think of his melancholy fate without the most painful emotions. He fell in the bloom of youth, in the dream of a most promising manhood. But these were times of great trial and suffering. The deprivation of those nearest and dearest was a source of ordinary affliction. It was the common lot. In March, 1779, the spring after the battle, a large body of Indians came down on the Wyoming settlements. So broken were our people by that fatal invasion that they were few in number, weak and illy prepared for defence, although a body of troops was stationed in the valley for protection. The savages were estimated to exceed 400 men. They scattered abroad over the settlement, murdering, burning, taking prisoners, robbing houses and driving away cattle. After doing much injury they concentrated their forces to [p.338] make an attack on the fort in Wilkes-Barre, situated on the river bank, just in front of the present residence of Hon. Stanley Woodward. Thaddeus Williams, father of Thomas Williams, occupied a house not far from where the late Judge Fell lived (near the corner of Northampton and Washington streets), and who for many years kept a public house. The Indians deemed it important to take this house before the attack on the fort should be made, and a detachment of twenty or thirty was sent for that purpose. It happened that Sergt. Williams was then at home. His father was unwell in bed. A lad, a younger brother of twelve or thirteen, was the only other male person with them, so that the task of defending the house fell entirely on Sergt. Williams. The odds were fearfully against him, the chances of success or escape desperate, but the call of duty to defend his parents from the tender mercies of the savages was imperious. He had been out in the service, and was familiar with danger. Naturally brave, being young and ardent, he resolved to do his utmost, and he did his duty like a hero. There were three guns in the house, all charged. The lad was directed as he fired to reload the pieces as well as he could, which the little fellow faithfully did. The enemy rushed up to the door, but it was barricaded, so that they could not force it open. Sergt. Williams, aiming through the logs, fired, and one of the enemy fell, when they fled, with a hideous yell, dragging away the wounded Indian. But, rallying again, they rushed up, surrounded the house, and several found places through which to fire. The sick father received by a ball a severe wound in the side, but Sergt. Williams was not idle. He fired several times, was certain of bringing another down, and thought a third, when the party again retreated. The next time they came on with brands of fire, and the fate of the besieged seemed almost certainly sealed, but Mr. Williams, getting sight of the savage who had the brand, took deliberate aim and fired. The savage fell, and his companions, dragging him away, with terrible yells, withdrew, and Williams was victorious. There is no doubt that the lives of his parents and the whole family were preserved by his courage and spirit. It was a glorious affair, and reflects on Mr. Williams the highest honor. How many he slew could not be known, as the Indians make it a point to carry off their dead, if possible. After the savages retired from Wyoming, Mr. Williams rejoined his company, and continued in the service till the close of the war. Thus, in the Revolutionary contest, the father was wounded, a brother was slain, and Mr. Williams himself served in the regular army for several ears, besides defending the house against a formidable attack.
Thomas Williams married, in 1782, Elizabeth Robertson, of Bethel, Conn. He lived at Danbury, Conn., until the spring of 1790, when he removed again to Wyoming, living until his death in the present township of Plains, rearing a family of six sons and four daughters, of whom Ezra was the third son. The following obituary notice is from the Republican Farmer and Democratic Journal of November 20, 1839: "Died, at his residence in the township of Wilkes-Barre (now Plains), on November 12, 1839, Thomas Williams, one of the oldest and most respectable inhabitants of the valley. The whole life of Mr. Williams has been an eminent example of industry, sobriety, usefulness and patriotism worthy to be followed by all. He bore an honorable part in the Revolutionary struggle, and to the end of his life has manifested a live devotion to the cause of liberty, to which he devoted the prime of his days. He has reared a numerous and respectable family, who are justly esteemed for their intelligence and excellent moral character, and who on all occasions have shown an ardent zeal in support of the principles for which their father fought. He rests with his compatriots who have gone before him, whose memories are embalmed in the hearts of freemen."
Ezra Williams was a native of Luzerne county, where he was born September 24, 1791. He died September 21, 1844. He married in February, 1818, Mary Black, daughter of Henry Black, of Bucks county. The maiden name of Mrs. Black [p.339] was Catharine Schattenger. Mrs. Williams was born February 27, 1792, and died July 10, 1869.
The Dana Family.—Pre-eminent among the many noble and patriotic people of Luzerne the name is immortally linked with that of Wyoming. Here was a race of men and women that would have ennobled itself in any place or time by its imperishable works; to-day but few are better known throughout the land.
Anderson Dana, Sr., was from Ashford, Windham county, Conn., a lawyer, the pioneer in the profession here, who, by his wise counsels, at once took a prominent place in the affairs of the people. A Puritan of the strictest sect, he was the strong friend and advocate of the church and school. He looked to the education of the young as of the first importance, and hardly had he cleared away the first trees around his cabin when he sent his oldest son, Daniel, to school at Lebanon to prepare for a regular college course. He was sent by the people to the Connecticut assembly at Hartford, from which he hastened to his home at the threatened invasion, and at once mounted his horse and rode over the settlement, rousing the people to prepare for the impending attack. [Mrs. J. R. Coolbaugh, of Wilkes-Barre, one of the descendants, informs us that Mr. Minor is mistaken on this point; that he reached home after a long, hard ride from Hartford, only in time for a hasty repast, when he went to the battle-field in the line. -ED.] By law exempt from military duty, as a citizen volunteer he was the first in the bloody conflict where his noble life was a sacrifice to the great cause. With him, and who fell by his side, was his son-in-law, Stephen Whiton, the noble young schoolmaster who had been married but a short time.
The widowed mother and daughter, even in that awful moment, had no time for despair. Mrs. Dana, with a thoughtfulness unequaled, knowing that, as her husband was much engaged in public life, his papers must be valuable, gathered up all she deemed most important, and, with her children, fled. Her husband's papers that she had hastily put in a pillowslip she carried on her back to Connecticut. Something of their value may now be known when it is told that these papers were the foundation title to much of the lands in the valley. These papers lost could never have been supplied, and the rightful owners of millions of dollars worth of these rich acres would have been cheated of their rights. Of these children was Anderson, a lad aged nine (thirteen?) all the male protector they had. The poor, distressed fugitives eventually found their way to their former Connecticut home, where Anderson was apprenticed and Daniel was in time sent to college, the women and children by their labors paying therefor. Daniel Dana became a lawyer, settled in New York and became one of the most eminent in the State.
Anderson Dana, 2d, completed his apprenticeship and returned to Luzerne to recover the patrimonial estate, and on the old homestead spent the remainder of his long and most honorable life. Prosperity, wealth and troops of friends were his. He made of the old Dana homestead one of the finest possessions in the county; the family mansion a landmark, and, in time, near the north line of the farm was the "Dana academy." Through this property was built the canal, and, in time, the railroad; the growth and spread of Wilkes-Barre made the broad acres in demand for building lots.
From his old family Bible, now in the possession or Mr. Clarence Porter Kidder, of Wilkes-Barre, is taken the following as entered therein in the neat and exact hand of Mr. Anderson Dana:
"Anderson Dana, born August 11, 1765; married Sarah Stevens; their children: Amelia, Laura, Asa S. (father of Judge Edmund L. Dana), Sarah, Francis, Louisa, Anderson, Eleazer, Sylvester, Mary and Charles.
"Mary married Lyman Church Kidder.
"Anderson Dana died June 24, 1851, aged eighty-six."
The son above named, Asa Stevens Anderson, was the father of Edmund L. Dana. The latter was born January 29, 1817, and spent his life here. He was a [p.340] lawyer, and, while still a young man, rose to the head of his profession. He was made one of the judges of the common pleas court, succeeding Judge Henry M. Hoyt in 1867. For many years he was widely known throughout the country for the strength and legal acumen of his decisions, and the published reports were accepted by the bench and bar without question. He was married in 1842 with Sarah Peters, daughter of Ralph and granddaughter of Hon. Richard Peters, of Philadelphia.
Sylvester Dana was another of the children that the heroic mother carried across the "Shades of Death." He devoted his life to the ministry of his beloved church; was the pastor in charge in Concord, N. H.
Eleazer Dana was the youngest; became a lawyer and for many years practiced in Owego, N. Y.
Hon. Amasa Dana, of Ithaca, N. Y., a grandson, was in congress several terms during the forties.
The posthumous daughter of Stephen Whiten was born several months after the flight from Wyoming; was married with Capt. Hezekiah Parsons, who was, during a long life, one of the prominent and influential men of the county. An account of the Parsons family is given elsewhere, but it may be here mentioned as a curious fact following in the long results of that awful day at Wyoming that Mrs. Hezekiah Parsons, even late in her old age, could never hear the report of firearms without being thrown into the most painful state of nervous excitement.
The Hardings.—"Remember the fate of the Hardings" was the inspiring cry of the patriots as they went out to battle on that historic day, July 3, 1778, and patriots died with these words on their lips, that will go ringing down the tide of history. "The fate of the Hardings" was a cruel one, indeed, but has left the oppressed of the world a watchword for all time and climes.
There were nine of the Hardings who were here, and early and active participators in the struggles of the day: Abraham Harding, Capt. Stephen Harding, Israel Harding, Henry Harding, Oliver Harding, Benjamin Harding, Stukely Harding and Stephen Harding, Jr. The last named, though at the time but a lad, was in some of the bloodiest of the many of those dark days. To this long list of the family Mr. Miner adds that of Elisha Harding, who lived here to an advanced age, and of whom he, over his new-made grave, used this expression: "One of the very few who were left among us who shared in the scenes and sufferings of Wyoming in the Revolutionary war, his departure creates a painful chasm, and compels the remark: 'A few years more and none will remain who can say: "I was there."
The Hardings came from Connecticut in 1770 and settled in old Exeter township. The very women and babes of this family were sturdy pioneers and patriots. When the Wintermoots in the early times erected their fort, the Hardings and Jenkinses deemed it best to erect one near, but above it. Of the work upon this fort, Elisha Harding, who was then a lad of thirteen, born in Colchester, Conn., in 1763, and came with his family in 1770. Mr. Miner says:
"Young Harding, then a boy too young to lift logs, had yet the true blood flowing in his veins; he could drive oxen; and he worked at the stockade with the spirit of youth and ardor of patriotism. This was in 1777. In November of that year John Jenkins, Jr., was taken prisoner by the Indians and carried to Niagara. A Mr. York and Lemuel Fitch were taken off at the same time. An old man named Fitzgerald was also made captive. The enemy placed him on a flax-brake and gave him his choice—to die, or renounce his whig principles and swear allegiance to King George. The reply is worthy of preservation in letters of gold: 'I am an old man—I can continue but a few years at most, and had rather die now, a friend to my country, than have my life spared and be branded with the name of tory!' He was a noble follow. And they had the magnanimity to let him go.
"The troubles, which may be said to have begun with the captivity of Jenkins, [p.341] now thickened around the settlement. In May, 1778, William Crooks and Asa Budd went up the river and stopped at John Secord's house, where Crooks was shot by the enemy, and Budd escaped. Was not the blood of Crooks the first shed at Wyoming? The people now repaired to the forts for safety. At Jenkins' fort were the family of that name, the head of which was John Jenkins, a man distinguished in his day by intelligence, zeal for liberty, and extensive influence. In May, 1777, he had been elected a member of assembly to Connecticut, from Westmoreland. He was the father of the Mr. Jenkins who was a prisoner; and afterward through the war a brave and active officer. Here were Capt. Stephen Harding, Benjamin, Stukely and Stephen Harding, Jr., William Martin, James Hadsall, Sr. and Jr., Samuel Morgan, Ichabod Phelps, Miner Robbins, John Gardiner, Daniel Weller and Daniel Carr, with their women and children.
"On June 30 the men left the fort and went up the river a few miles to work among their corn; they were ambushed by the savages, and six of them slain. Those who fell were Stukely Harding and Benjamin Harding, brothers of Elisha; Miner Robbins, James Hadsall, James Hadsall, Jr., and a colored man named Martin. The British Butler said our men fought as long as they could stand; when found their bodies were shockingly mangled—full of spear holes—their hands and arms cut, as if an attempt had been made to take them prisoners, and they had resisted to the last. Daniel Weller, Daniel Carr and John Gardiner were taken prisoners. Mr. Harding, of whom we write, used to say that in all his life he never saw a more piteous scene than that of Mr. Gardiner taking leave of his wife and children. After the battle he was allowed to see and bid them farewell, when he was driven off, led by a halter, loaded almost to crushing with plunder. He seemed an object of particular spite, probably arising from the revenge of some personal enemy. 'Go—go,' was the Indian's command. On the way, a few miles west of Geneva, he became worn-out—fell, and was given up to the squaws, who put him to death with cruel torture.
"The day before the battle Jenkins' fort capitulated to a detachment under Capt. Caldwell, and young Harding was among the prisoners. As suspected, Wintermoot's fort threw open its gate to the enemy. On July 3, in the afternoon about 1 o'clock, word came up to Jenkins' fort that the Yankees were marching out to battle and all the warriors must go down to Wintermoot's to meet them. The issue is known. The next day young Elisha describes the savages as smoking, sitting about, and with the most stoical indifference scraping the blood and brains from the scalps of our people and straining them over little hoops to dry—a most soul-sickening sight. Among the expelled he sought his way to Norwich, Conn., bound himself to the blacksmith's trade, and despising idleness and dependence, nobly resolved to live above the world and want by honest industry. Married, settled, having an admirable farm, and he a first-rate farmer, comfort and independence flowed in upon him, crowned his board with plenty, and gave him the means of charitable usefulness in reward for early toils and present labor.
"A man of strong mind and retentive memory, he read much and retained everything worth remembering. Shrewd, sensible, thoroughly understanding human nature, few in his neighborhood had more influence. A justice under a commission from Gov. Mifflin, he rendered useful service as a magistrate for a long series of years. Of a ready turn of wit, an apt story—an applicable Scripture quotation—a couplet of popular verse, always ready at command, rendered him a prominent and successful advocate in the thousand interesting conflicts of opinion that arise in life. A keen sarcasm—severe retort—an unexpected answer that would turn the laugh on his opponent, characterized him, but never in bitterness, for he was too benevolent to give unmerited pain. Of old times he loved to converse, and his remarkable memory enabled him to trace with surprising accuracy every event which he witnessed or heard during the troubles here. He could describe every house and farm, [p.342] and name every farmer from the lower to the upper line living in Exeter before the battle, although but a lad of twelve or thirteen.
"A very worthy, a very clever, a very upright man, he leaves the world respected and regretted. Thick set, not tall, but well knit together, he seemed formed for strength and endurance; of an excellent constitution, well preserved by exercise, cheerfulness and temperance, he had known but little sickness. A year ago, 1839, the last time I had the pleasure to see him, his mind seemed in full vigor, and he gave promise of many years of life and enjoyment." He died in August, 1840, the result of a sudden attack of apoplexy, at the age of seventy-five years.
In a foot note Mr. Miner says: "There was not a family in the country more ardently devoted to freedom than the Hardings. Those who fell at Exeter were taken to the burying ground near Jenkins' ferry and interred. Over their graves Elisha Harding erected a monument. On it is this: 'Sweet be the sleep of those who prefer death to slavery."
Thus, four of the Hardings were in the Exeter massacre—two of them killed— and four, namely, Henry, Stephen, Oliver and Israel, were members of Capt. Durkee's independent company.
So prominent was this family in the history of the early days, that the main facts are necessarily given in preceding pages. For later facts concerning the posterity the reader is referred to the biographical part of this work.
Sills. This family came to Wyoming in 1770, Mr. and Mrs. Sill and two young sons, Elisha Noyes Sill, aged nine, and Shadrack, younger. The family came from Lyme, Conn. Mr. Sill built the second house in Wilkes-Barre, where of late years has stood the dwelling of the late Col. Welles, and in this house was the first wedding—a sister of Mr. Sill with Nathan Denison, as relater elsewhere. Another of Mr. Sill's sisters soon after married in the same house, Capt. John P. Schott. In 1776 Elisha N. Sill, then aged fifteen, enlisted in Capt. Durkee's company, and soon after his brother Shadrack became a member of the same company. Hon. Charles Miner relates meeting Dr. E. N. Sill at Hartford in 1839, when he described the Millstone battle, in which the Sill brothers participated, correcting the current accounts of historians, or supplying any notice of that event as had most of the chroniclers of the day: "The two companies (Wyoming) which were there alone were out on parade, before sunrise; we saw the British coming over a rise of ground from toward Brunswick, artillery and infantry. Their numbers being too great, our companies retreated about half a mile. The enemy came out with a train of wagons for flour. While retreating we met Col. Dickinson with the New Jersey militia; our troops wheeled and all now charged the enemy, and a short fight put the British to rout.
The two Sills continued in the service in Spalding's company to the close of the war. Shadrack lost his health and was home on a furlough at the time of the Forty fort battle and fled with the exiles. In October, 1779, he removed to Connecticut with his father's family, became a physician, lived to an old age a useful and much respected citizen.
Dr. Elisha Noyes Sill died at Windsor, Conn., May 24, 1845, aged eighty-four.
Athertons.—There were two branches of this name that were among the earliest of the comers to Wyoming. The names of James and John Atherton are recorded as of the forty who came in 1762-3 and settled at Kingston. They were the first of the pioneers, and of those who, as Mr. Miner says, were double sufferers. It seems that James Atherton returned after the massacre, and, undaunted, commenced again the work of clearing the wilderness. In the list of the slain of the Wyoming battle appears the name of Jabez Atherton. Their arms essayed with other patriots to defend their country; their blood enriched its soil, and, as Mr. Miner well says, it is right to record that their descendants are in the full possession and enjoyment of the fruits of their father's toil, enterprise, bravery and sufferings. "In passing [p.343] through Kingston not far above the residence of Col. Denison, looking to the left, you may see embosomed in trees in a most romantic situation a neat dwelling, the farmhouse of a beautiful plantation. Intermarried with a daughter of the late Gen. Ross, here resides a descendant of one of the early settlers. The farm extending from the river to the mountain yields abundance, and it is a pleasure to add that it is the seat of intelligence and hospitality."
Jonathan Fitch was the first high sheriff of Westmoreland county, Conn., when that was the description of this part of Pennsylvania. He was the only man in the one large company of fugitives after the battle who fled across "The Shades of Death." He is mentioned here chiefly because he was one of the early and influential colonists. He was four times chosen a member of the Hartford general assembly. He probably never returned to this place after he conducted the women and children in their flight. At all events, in 1789 he is known to have settled on Fitch's creek, near Binghampton, N. Y. He was a man of high culture and refinement; became in time one of the judges of the court of New York.
The Durkees.—Maj. John Durkee had been in Col. Lyman's regiment at the taking of the "Havana." He is named in our annals as heading a party of the first emigrants in 1769-70. Arrested by Capt. Ogden and sent to Philadelphia, several months' imprisonment extinguished his ardor for the settlement of Wyoming, and he returned to Norwich. His name stands on the old records as one of the original forty settlers in Kingston. On the breaking out of the Revolutionary war, Maj. Durkee entered zealously into the contest. A paper published September, 1774, announces, "On Sunday morning 464 men, well armed, and the greater part mounted on good horses, started for Boston, under the command of Maj. John Durkee." Subsequently, in a subordinate station, he was with Putuam in the battle of Bunker Hill. Commissioned a colonel of the Connecticut line, on the continental establishment, this "bold Bean Hill man," as he was sometimes called, "accompanied the army to New York, fought at Germantown," and continued to serve with reputation to the close of the arduous struggle. He died in Norwich at his residence on, or near, Bean Hill, in 1782, aged fifty-four years. Military honors were accorded at his funeral, and the display on a similar occasion in that city had never been surpassed. It is evident he left property in Wyoming. Thomas Dyer, Esq., many years afterward, took out letters at Wilkes-Barre, and administered upon his estate.
That Robert Durkee, his brother, received a commission as captain of one of the independent companies; that when congress refused, notwithstanding its solemn pledge, to allow the soldiers to return to Wyoming, menaced as it was by impending danger, he, like Ransom, resigned his commission, and hastened home to defend his family; that he entered as a volunteer into the battle and fell, is all on record. His residence was in Wilkes-Barre on the main avenue, below Gen. Ross' farm. The ancient house is still standing—the property including the old stone wall near where the State road turns off. His widow married Capt. Landon, a respectable citizen of Kingston, and a surveyor. She died. September 3, 1803, aged sixty-five. Amelia Durkee, a daughter, resided on the farm, and in August, 1804, married Philip Weeks (whose family were such terrible sufferers in the battle). Some years afterward they moved to Oquago, and so far as our knowledge extends the name in Wyoming has ceased to exist but in remembrance.
He was the proprietor and founder of what is now the city of Wilkes-Barre—a place that for all time would have been signally honored to have borne his name. How striking it is in going over these ancient records that so few localities bear down to posterity the names and thereby the once green memories of those who were the actors, founders or creators of those very places or things that should most appropriately carry in their names the record of names that were not born to die.
Gen. Simon Spalding is a name always familiar to those who know anything of [p.344] the early and trying days of Wyoming. A history of those troublous times are his record. In 1841 his son-in-law, Joseph Kingsbury, in a letter to Hon. Charles Miner, from Sheshequin, wrote of him as follows:
"Gen. Simon Spalding was a native of Plainfield, Conn. He was born in 1741, married to Ruth Shepard in 1761, and died the 24th of January, 1814, aged seventy- three. [I may add that, frequently visiting Sheshequin from 1800 to 1812, I often saw Gen. Spalding. He was a large man, of imposing and pleasing appearance. His merits and services deserve a much more extended memoir, and no one is more capable of doing justice to the subject than Col. Kingsbury.—MINER.] He was a captain in the Revolutionary war, and from good testimony, I have no doubt but that he was a brave officer. But Gen. Spalding, as a captain in the war, never had justice done to him. The affair of Bound Brook was a performance of his. He recovered the forage the British had gathered at the time, and took several prisoners. But just as the skirmish was over and victory secured, an officer of superior rank came up (I forget his name) and to him was the honor of the victory given, when he had no more to do with it than you or I had. Gen. Spalding first discovered this unjust account in Weems' little history of the Revolutionary war, and it mortified the real actor of the scene very much.
"Gen. (then Capt.) Spalding was with Gen. Sullivan in his expedition into the Genesee country. In this tour he discovered and took a fancy to Sheshequin. On his return to Wyoming he made known his intention to settle at this place. In 1783, in company with his family and several of his neighbors at Wyoming, with their families, he removed from thence to Sheshequin. They arrived at this place on May 30. I have heard Gen. Spalding say that the Indian grass upon the flats at the time he came here, was as high as his head when he sat upon a horse. These pioneers set fire to it, and such a fire was never seen before by any one present; it ran from one end of the intervale to the other, a distance of about four miles, and no doubt was very destructive to the animals which made their homes in its dense covers.
"When the settlers took possession of Sheshequin there were a few Indian families resident upon Queen Esther's flats, and one family on this side of the river, but none of any note among them. These Indians proved very friendly, and the next year mostly moved off to the west.
"Gen. Spalding was a man calculated to gain the love and esteem of even a savage. A better hearted man I was never acquainted with. He had a peculiar tact in pleasing the redskins and usually when passing through the place on treaty business to Philadelphia, he would set some sporting on foot. I remember of hearing it told of a feat performed by a couple of these redskins at a time when a large company of Indians were on their return from the city of Brotherly Love. They always made it a point to stop a night with their old friend, who never failed in providing them something to eat. At this time he selected two long-legged hogs and informed the chiefs that these hogs were a present for their supper and breakfast, on these conditions however: the Indians to select two of their fleetest runners, they to catch the hogs in a fair running race. This pleased the red men greatly. The young racers were stripped to leggins and clouts, armed with a scalping knife; the hogs turned loose on the flats and the sport began. Such ecstasy as the Indians and even the gathered pale faces were in at the rare sport, which lasted for nearly an hour. The hogs were at first too swift for their pursuers. Once and a while the two- legged would catch the four-legged animals, when seizing them by the tail would be thrown sprawling or dragged a distance, and then on their feet again and the race renewed as well as the shouts of the spectators. Finally the hogs were killed, and the racing frolic was followed by the barbecue of the animals, which were thrown on the log fire "feathers and all" and hastily prepared for the royal feast.
Capt. William McKerachan was the first officer of the Hanover company. [p.347] Evincing at once a spirit of singular modesty and patriotism, he said to Capt. Stewart on the morning of the battle: "My pursuits in life have thus far been those of peace; you have been used to war and accustomed to command. On parade I can maneuver my men, but in the field no unnecessary hazard should be run; a mistake might prove fatal. Take you the lead; I will fight under you with my men as an aide or a private in the ranks. Your presence at the head of the Hanover boys will impart confidence." So it was arranged, and they fell together.
McKerachan was an Irishman, coming from Belfast in the summer of 1764, a young man; landed at Philadelphia, and taught school in Chester county at Nantmeal; thence to Bucks county, spent a year or two there and in New Jersey in teaching. He came and settled in Nanticoke in 1774, where for a period he taught school. In time he opened a store and purchased lands. A man much esteemed in his time; was commissioned a magistrate by the Connecticut authorities. He fell at the head of the column July 3, 1778, linking his name immortally with that of his adopted country as a noble sacrifice on the altars of its liberties.
The Gores.—A family whose woes were a most important chapter in the suffering and trials incurred in the establishment of a free country; a large family of big men, women and children, as patriotic and heroic as ever the sun shed light upon. Already much has been written of the different ones of the family in other portions of this book, but one can not refrain from here condensing into the briefest space what was written of them by Mr. Miner in the Traveller, and published in 1845:
"Having given a sketch of the Bidlack family, it is proper to say that Bidlack's wife was a daughter of Obadiah Gore and a sister of Obadiah Gore, Jr., the latter so many years associate justice of Luzerne county. The family came from Norwich, Conn. At this time  Mrs. Bidlack is eighty years old, but as active as at forty [she died soon after]; was twenty years of age at the time of the battle, and in the fort, and to the day of her death was considered the clearest authority on those things that came under her eyes at that bloody day."
Then speaking of the terrible sacrifices, Mr. Miner says: "Take the instance of the Gore family: The old gentleman was one of the aged men left in Forty fort for its defence. He was a magistrate under the Connecticut authority. His eldest son, Obadiah Gore, was lieutenant in the service and in the line before New York. In the battle of July 3, 1778, were his sons, Samuel Gore, Daniel Gore, Silas Gore, George Gore, Asa Gore—the father in the fort, and five sons marching out to the conflict! Nor was this all. John Murfee, who married a daughter of Mr. Gore, was also in the ranks; and Timothy Pearce, another brother-in-law, having ridden all night, came in and joined our army in the battle-field. Thus there were seven in the battle, while an eighth was in service with the regular army, and it proved a most bloody and disastrous day to the family. At sun setting five of the seven were on the field, mangled corpses. Asa and Silas were ensigns, and were slain, George was slain, Murfee was slain. Timothy Pearce held a commission in the regular army, but had hurried in. He also was killed. Lieut. Daniel Gore was near the right wing, and stood a few rods below Wintermoot's fort, close to the old road that led up through the valley. Stepping into the road, a ball struck him in the arm; tearing it from his shirt he applied a hasty bandage. Just at that moment Capt. Durkee stepped into the road at the same place. "Look out!" said Mr. Gore; "there are some of the savages concealed under yonder heap of logs." At that instant a bullet struck Capt. Durkee in the thigh. When retreat became inevitable, Mr. Gore endeavored to assist Capt. Durkee from the field, but found it impossible; and Durkee said, "Save yourself, Mr. Gore—my fate is sealed." Lieut. Gore then escaped down the road, and leaping the fence about a mile below, lay couched close under a bunch of bushes. While there, an Indian got over the fence and stood near him. Mr. G. said he could see the white of his eye, and was almost sure he was discovered. A moment after, a [p.348] yell was raised on the flats below, the Indian drew up his rifle and fired, and instantly ran off in that direction. Though the wave of death seemed to have passed over and spent itself, yet Lieut. Gore remained under cover till dusk, when he heard voices in the road near him. One said to the other, "It has been a hard day for the Yankees." "Yes," replied the other "there has been blood enough shed." He thought one was Col. John Butler, but could not say for certain. After dark Mr. Gore found his way to the fort and met his brother Samuel, the only survivors of the seven. The distress of Mrs. Murfee was very great. She feared her husband had been tortured. When she learned he fell on the field, she was less distressed; and, begging her way among the rest of the fugitives, traversed the wilderness and sought a home in the State from which she had emigrated, having an infant born a few days after her arrival among her former friends.
The mother of the Gore family survived to see her remaining children highly prosperous. Born in 1720, she lived until 1804, when she died at the house of her son in Sheshequin, aged eighty-four years.
In another chapter is an interesting account given by Samuel Gore of his part in the battle, embodied in his petition for a pension.
Maj. Ezekiel Pierce, whom Mr. Miner designates as the ready penman, who wrote all the early records of Westmoreland town when this was a part of Connecticut, came with his five grown sons in 1771. The sons were Abel, Daniel, John, Timothy and Phineas. In June, 1778, when the two independent companies were consolidated under Capt. Simon Spalding, Timothy and Phineas were commissioned first and second lieutenants, Timothy being one of the three who rode all night and the next day to hurry to the battle and death on that fatal July 3. John was also slain at the same time. Abel, the father of Mrs. Lord Butler, became a prominent citizen here. His son Charles was killed while yet a lad in the bloody struggles of civil strife, over the posession of the soil in the valley. A daughter became the wife and widow of Capt. Daniel Hoyt, and was living in Kingston in 1845.
The Finch Family.—Three of the Finch family—John, Daniel and Benjamin— were killed at the time of the invasion—two in the engagement, one murdered by the Indians the day previous near Shoemaker's mill.
Thomas Brown.—The names of Thomas Brown and John Brown are in the list of slain. Thomas, in the retreat, had nearly crossed the river, another person being in company. Overtaken by the enemy he was induced or forced to return, and on reaching the shore was instantly speared and tomahawked. His companion witnessed the deed but escaped. The particulars of the fall of John we have not learned. Daniel Brown, a brother, was then a lad in Forty fort. He now resides (1845) very independently near the Wyalusing, a neighbor to the gallant and fortunate Elliott, who escaped from the fatal ring with Hammond, having also near him Mrs. Wells, who was a Ross, and several other of the ancient Wyoming people. One of the stockades at Pittston was called Brown's fort, that family having erected it on their own land. Though not named, it is evidently referred to in the dispatches of Col. John Butler as one of the three that capitulated.
Asa and John Stevens.—Asa and John Stevens are named in the old records as inhabitants of Wilkes-Barre as early as 1772. Rosewell Stevens was one of the patriotic soldiers that entered the service in Ransom's independent company. Asa Stevens was an officer holding the commission of lieutenant in the militia, and was slain in battle. Like the Danas they were particularly distinguished by their zeal for the establishment of free schools, and the advancement of learning. This congeniality of sentiment led to the most intimate connection—Anderson Dana and Sylvester Dana marrying sisters of the Stevens family. Removing from Wilke-Barre, Jonathan Stevens settled in Braintrim, and afterward in Bradford county, where, on the organization of that county, having long exercised with [p.849] intelligence and firmness the duties of a magistrate, he was appointed one of the associate judges.
Nathan Beach, of Beach Grove, for many years one of the most distinguished citizens of Luzerne, furnished Mr. Miner a brief sketch of his life. Mr. Beach was a magistrate for many years, and for a still longer time postmaster at Beach Grove. In 1807-8 Beach and Miner represented the county of Luzerne in the assembly, then sitting in Lancaster. Room-mates as well as colleagues, a friendly intimacy commenced, which never suffered the slightest interruption. Active, enterprising, having a mind quick to perceive, a memory extraordinarily retentive, and a faculty to communicate with remarkable clearness and spirit the incidents occurring in his eventful life, a more pleasant or instructive companion, in respect to a ancient affairs, could rarely be met with. Even at the age of eighty-two (1845), his graphic account of the surrender of Cornwallis possessed more interest than any we have ever read or heard. Fortune has smiled on his exertions, and the poor exiled boy is now able to ride in his carriage and pair, abounding in wealth, still blessed with health, and buoyant in spirits, esteemed by a large circle of friends and acquaintances.
"In the year 1769 my father removed with his family from the State of New York to the valley of Wyoming, now Luzerne county, where he continued to reside within the limits of said county, until the 4th day of July, 1778, the day after the Wyoming battle. When the inhabitants, to wit, all those who had escaped the tomahawk and scalping knife, fled in every direction to places of security, about the first of August following I returned with my father and Thomas Dodson, to secure our harvest which we had left in the fields. While we were thus engaged I was taken prisoner by the Indians and tories; made my escape the day following. In the fall of the same year, 1778, my father and family went to live at Fort Jenkins. I was there employed, with others of the citizens, and sent out on scouting parties by Capt. Swany, commander of the fort, and belonging to Col. Hartley's regiment of the Pennsylvania line, continued at said fort until about the first of June, 1779, during which time had a number of skirmishes with the Indians. In May, 1779, the Indians, thirty-five in number, made an attack on some families that lived one mile from the fort, and took three families, twenty-two in number, prisoners. Information having been received at the fort, Ensign Thornbury was sent out by the captain in pursuit of the Indians, with twenty soldiers; myself and three others of the citizens also went, making twenty-four. We came up with them— a sharp engagement took place, which lasted about thirty minutes, during which time we had four men killed and five wounded out of the twenty-four. As we were compelled to retreat to the fort, leaving our dead on the ground, the Indians took their scalps. During our engagement with the Indians the twenty-four prisoners before mentioned made their escape and got safe to the fort. The names of the heads of those families taken prisoners as aforesaid, were Bartlet Ramey, Christopher Forrow and Joseph Dewey: the first named, Bartlet Ramey, was killed by the Indians. Soon after the aforesaid engagement, in June, I entered the boat department. Boats having been built at Middletown, Dauphin county, called continental boats, made for the purpose of transporting the baggage, provisions, etc., of Gen. Sullivan's army—which was on its march to destroy the Indian towns in the lake country, in the State of New York. I steered one of those boats to Tioga Point, where we discharged our loading, and I returned to Fort Jenkins in August, where I found our family. The Indians still continued to be troublesome; my father thought it advisable to leave the country and go to a place of more safety; we left the Susquehanna, crossed the mountains to Northampton county, in the neighborhood of Bethlehem; this being in the fall of 1779. In May, 1780, the Indians paid a visit to that country, took and carried away Benjamin Gilbert and family, and several of his neighbors, amounting to eighteen or twenty in all. Said Gilbert was [p.350] of the society called Quakers. It was then thought expedient to raise a certain number of militia men, and establish a line of block-houses north of the Blue mountain, from the Delaware river near Stroudsburg in Northampton county to the river Schuylkill in then Berks, now Schuylkill county, in which service I entered as substitute for Jacob Reedy. In May, 1780, was appointed orderly sergeant in Capt. Conrad Rather's company, in which situation I served that season six months, as follows: Two months under Capt. Rather; two months under Capt. Deal; during this two months the Indians made an attack upon our block-house, at which engagement some of the Indians were killed; and two months under Capt. Smeathers. During the winter it was considered unnecessary to continue the service. In May, 1781, the forces were reorganized at the block-houses, where I served four months. In September of the same year I entered the French service in Philadelphia as wagoner, with Capt. Gosho, wagon master, and was attached to the hospital department; arrived at Yorktown. Va., the last of September, about three weeks before the surrender of Lord Cornwallis. I remained with the army in the neighborhood of Yorktown until June, 1782, at which time the French army left Virginia for Boston; arrived at Providence, State of Rhode Island, about in November; remained there until the first of February, 1783, when the army marched to Boston, and embarked on board of their fleet. I then returned to Philadelphia, Pa., was discharged, and returned home after an absence of about eighteen months. I was born, says our family resister, July, 1763, near a place now called Hudson, on the North river, in the State of New York. Have continued to reside within Luzerne county from September, 1769, to the present time, excepting five years as before stated.
The Inmans, a family conspicuous in the days that were so dark and troubled here for the number of its name that gave their lives as a sacrifice. Five brothers went to the battle of Wyoming—two lay dead on the ground, three escaped, but Richard, from overheat and swimming the river, returned home only to die in a few weeks from disease thereby contracted. There were seven brothers; two remained at home that day because they could not secure arms; one, Isaac, was nineteen and the other a mere lad, both of whom would have been at the bloody sacrifice except for the fact stated. The parents were aged at the time, and it was doubly necessary for the two Youths to be with them, as the fates turned the battle and caused the following exodus. Elijah and Israel Inman were killed in the battle. Richard Inman saved the life of Rufus Bennett in the retreat by shooting the Indian that was in hot chase after him. Isaac Inman, the lad aged nineteen, spoken of above, was ambushed and killed by Indians the following winter. He was at home and thought he heard wild turkeys calling, and took his gun to find them. In a short time the family heard shots and the boy never returned. The family then knew that the "turkeys" were Indians, and they could only hope their boy was a prisoner and not dead. But when the spring melted away the snow, his mangled body was found where he had been murdered and scalped. Here were four of the seven brothers dead by the hands of the savages. Richard Inman had certainly killed one Indian, and it may be supposed that from first to last they had evened up with the savages in numbers slain, because they were not cowards. Col. Edward Inman in 1843 was a prominent and wealthy citizen on the old homestead south of Wilkes-Barre, where the father, Elijah Inman, had settled. The latter died in February, 1804, aged eighty-six, and his widow, Susan Inman, died in 1809, aged eighty-eight.
Shoemaker Family.—We give the verbatim account of the above family as we find it in Mr. Miner's publication in the Traveller:
"Let us tarry a moment before this beautiful mansion. A double house, set in from the avenue far enough to allow a spacious yard, lofty shade trees, fruits, flowers and shrubbery in exuberant profusion, yet nothing crowded! See that peacock spreading his golden honors as he moves upon the velvet lawn. Upon my word, [p.351] this would be thought handsome in New Haven itself. Yes, and possibly the pattern may have been taken from that fine city, for the owner was educated at Yale! And is he a descendant from an old Wyoming patriot? Ay, by both sides of the house. The Hon. Charles Denison Shoemaker, son of the late Elijah Shoemaker, formerly sheriff of Luzerne, who, it will be recollected, was the son of Lieut. Benjamin Shoemaker, so treacherously slain by Windecker on the day of the massacre. Benjamin married the daughter of the good old Cameronian Scotchman, frequently spoken of in preceding pages. That the alliance is cherished as it should be is show by 'McDowal' being given as a middle name by Sheriff Shoemaker to one of his sons. Elijah Shoemaker had married a daughter of Col. Nathan Denison, whose name is itself an eulogy, and synonymous with every manly virtue.
"In respect to the two grandfathers, our annals are so full as to leave no details necessary here, further than to say that their plantation was the original allotment of Mr. Shoemaker when, as one of the forty, he came in on the first settlement of Wyoming. Elijah, the father, added to it several lots. Between the avenue and the mountain, he held a mile square, bounded on four sides by roads, and subject, when the crops became inviting, to the depredations of cattle. During those summer months, just at dawning of day, you might see him mounted, two strong and favorite dogs his companions, starting for a four-mile ride round that favorite portion of his place. The early and stirring activity of the master kept alive a similar spirit in all around him, and it required the abundant product of his large plantation to support his numerous family and meet the demands which his hospitality and his too greatly obliging disposition made upon him. Every one who wanted a favor was sure of an obliging answer, and almost certain of aid from his purse, his granary, or his name.
"After finishing his studies and graduating at New Haven, C. D. Shoemaker returned, and was soon after appointed prothonotary of Luzerne, subsequently judge of the county, which he held several years. Among the active business men of the county, he has several brothers, all in prosperous circumstances."
Gen. William Ross.—Mr. Miner, in his Hazleton Travellers, points out this man's house as the "white house on the right," property that was once owned and occupied by Col. Pickering, the most prominent man sent here by the Pennsylvania proprietaries in the early settlements to save this land from the encroaching Yankees, the same man who was kidnapped by the people and carried off to the mountains in retaliation for the arrest and imprisonment of Col. John Franklin. Capt. Ross marched his company in pursuit to release Pickering, and, coming upon the guard of the prisoner, an engagement took place, in which Ross was wounded. The wound was so severe that for some time his life was considered in danger, but on his recovery the executive council of Philadelphia presented him an elegant sword. The inscription on the sword states that it is for his "gallant services of July 4, 1788."
When Pickering left the valley he sold his land to Col. Ross, on easy payments, and, during, the lifetime of the purchaser, it became of immense value.
Two of Gen. Ross' brothers, Perrin and Jeremiah, were slain in the Wyoming battle. At the flight the family were scattered, passing through the wilderness in great privation and suffering, by different routes, young Ross, with his mother, taking the lower or Nescopeck way. Soon after the coming here of Spalding and his command, they returned. Having a taste for military affairs, he soon rose by regular gradation from major to brigade inspector, and then general in the militia. For twenty years he held the commission of a magistrate, and during the last war, 1812, was chosen to represent the district composed of Northumberland and Luzerne in the senate of the State. A strong-minded man, he had studied human nature in the school of active life to great advantage, and performed the duties of all the various stations to which he was called with intelligence and integrity. He [p.352] was tall, straight, extremely active; he started early and he moved fast who ever got ahead of him. A zealous Democrat, of ardent temperament, he was among the most influential leaders of his party, and most feared by his opponents. In 1803 or 1804, having so far made his payment as to feel the full force of independence, Col. Ross resolved, with natural pride, and not an incommendable spirit, to visit his birthplace in Connecticut. Mounted on a high-spirited and elegant steed, black as jet, with holsters and pistols, his dress elegant, though unostentatious, he visited New London county, his native home.
William Sterling Ross, an only son, now (1845) occupies the seat of his father in the senate of the State. Gen. Ross had established a family burying-ground, in which he had erected a tablet of marble to the memory of his brothers. Having lived to the good old age of eighty-two years, on August 9, 1842, he closed his active and honorable life. Every fitting demonstration of respect was paid to his remains, the court adjourning to attend the funeral. One incident was too remarkable not to be noted. A thunder cloud arose above the Northeast mountain, a most unusual place, as the procession moved, and cast its dark shadow over the plains. For some time the repeated peals of thunder were regarded as minute guns from the cannon placed in some proper position. The cloud passed away without rain, and as the train arrived at the mansion house the sun came out again in all its brightness.
Rev. Benjamin Bidlack.—In 1846, Mr. Miner informs us, this gentleman, though past his four score years, was living in Kingston, erect and active, with dignity and much grace, moving among his people, beloved and respected by all; still full of energy, full of ardor, glowing with patriotism, much as in his young days when he entered the army of liberty and fought for independence. He was at Boston when Washington assembled the first American army to oppose Gage; afterward at the lines before New York. A brother, taken prisoner at Log island, whom it was said was starved to death in chains.
When Benjamin Bidlack's term of service was out, he joined his father's family at Wyoming in 1777, and here at once was in active duty. He was with Capt. Asaph Whittlesey in his scout up the river. After this expedition he entered the regular service and was in the army till the close of the war. Besides other engagements, it was his good fortune to be present at Yorktown and the surrender of Cornwallis.
James Bidlack, Jr., another brother, commanded the Wilkes-Barre company, which he led into battle on the fatal 3d. He died where he stood, at the head of his men. Only eight of all his company escaped. They were of the true blood, the whole family of Bidlacks-mild in private life, remarkably clever and obliging. The social virtues in the peaceful circle seemed to find in them their happiest illustrations; but called to arms and roused to action, they were, all and each, every inch the soldier.
The day that Capt. James Bidlack led his men into action, his father, James Bidlack, Sr., commanded a company of aged men and kept garrison in the fort at Plymouth. Father and sons—all of them were in the service, and two of them sealed with their lives their attachment to freedom. When the savages returned the following year in force to Wyoming, old Mr. Bidlack, the father, was surprised and taken prisoner, and carried into a deeply suffering captivity, from which he was only relieved by the return of peace. But he did return to the beloved valley, and lived to see his country rise into almost unhoped-for prosperity, the fruit of the services of the patriots of the Revolution. It is nearly thirty years since (1845) the father was called, we trust, to a better world. The circumstances that occurred in many years of active life after the close of the war to Mr. Benjamin Bidlack, it does not belong to the purpose of these sketches to portray. Many years ago he became a preacher of the Methodist persuasion, and spoke as he had fought, with impressive earnestness and ardent sincerity. Indeed, the Bidlack family seem in their conduct to have kept the true end of life in view. [p.353] Mr. Miner adds this note:
"May 1845. The worthy old patriot still lives, blessed with abundance, and the evening of life is cheered by the well-merited fortune of his son, the Hon. Benjamin Alden Bidlack, who has been the past four years member of congress from this district; and recently has been appointed minister to Grenada, carrying with him not only the approbation of his political friends, but the hearty good will of all his neighbors."
Noah Pettebone emigrated from Hartford county. He had three sons and four daughters; the names of the sons were Noah, Stephen and Oliver. When the independent companies of Durkee and Ransom were raised, Stephen, the second son, enlisted, and marched, near the close of 1776, to join the army of Gen. Washington, leaving Noah, the oldest brother, and Oliver, then a lad of fourteen, at home with their father.
When the alarm gun gave notice that the enemy was in the valley, Noah repaired promptly to the post of danger; was in the dreadful conflict that ensued, and was slain, leaving a young wife to mingle her tears with those of the aged father, for his loss. (In after years the widow intermarried with Amariah Watson.)
Stephen, having come in with Capt. Spalding's company, was murdered the following spring by a band of savages on the flats, a little beyond where the western abutment of the bridge terminates. Mr. Williams and Mr. Buck fell at the same time, and Mr. Follet was shot, pierced through several times with a spear, scalped and left for dead, but recovered. His own account of the matter was, that knowing they would strike while signs of life remained, summoning his utmost power he lay perfectly still, notwithstanding repeated wounds, pretending to be dead. The bold and daring deed being perpetrated in plain sight of Wilkes- Barre, the Indians, having brief space to effect their purpose, did not strike him with the tomahawk.
Thus two of the old man's sons poured out their life blood, victims to Indian barbarity, martyrs in the holy cause of liberty and independence.
The younger brother, Oliver, was in Forty fort at the time of its surrender. On the decease of his father the care of the family and estate devolved on him. He was tall, slender, but well made, of frank and agreeable manners. As commissioner of the county, a vigilant and faithful officer, and as a private gentleman liberal and kind, ever assiduous to please. He was a man of perfect integrity and honor. Having lived to the good old age of seventy, he died in March, 1832.
Such is the mingled, painful and pleasing record of one of the most patriotic families of Wyoming, and among the deepest sufferers.
The plantation is now (1846), owned by Noah (it is right to preserve the old family name) and his brother, the Hon. Henry Pettebone, in the possession of whose descendants we hope, it may remain a thousand years. Judge H. Pettebone received that appointment in place of Judge Bennett, resigned.*
*Col. Erastus Hill. who owns that very handsome seat, next above William Swetlands, married a daughter of Oliver Pettebone, and residing near the spot took great interest in the erection of the monument. In his possession are a number of skulls and thigh bones taken from the pit, where they were first deposited. For several years not only the deep stroke of the tomahawk was visible, but marks of the accursed scalping knife were plain to be seen; while the rifle bullet hole in the thigh bone smoothly cut, without the least splint or fracture, as with a sharp bit or gouge, excited much interest. But they are fast crumbling on exposure to the air.
In the family sketch on another page is a fall account of the Pettebone family.
It would appear that patriot blood ran warmly through the hearts of the whole Pettebone family, for our researches show us that those who remained in Connecticut, if less deeply sufferers, were not less active in the service of the country. In 1775 Col. Jonathan Pettebone assembled his regiment and addressed them. "The spirit was so generous," says the record, "that a number sufficient to form three companies, of sixty-eight men each, exclusive of officers, immediately enlisted, and were ready for any expedition on the shortest notice." [p.354] When the militia, two or three years afterward, was reorganized, Col. Pettebone received the command of the Eighteenth regiment.
A gallant enterprise was effected in 1777, in which Capt. Abel Pettebone, of Enos' regiment, and Capt. Levenworth and Ely, of Meigs' regiment, took the lead. Having, by great celerity, surprised the enemy at Horse Neck, they took six light-horse prisoners, a number of horses, cattle and arms, burned three vessels loaded with provisions for New York, and broke up a pestilent nest of cowboys; returning after traveling more than sixty miles, having been absent only ten hours.
Dr. William Hooker Smith filled a large space in public estimation at Wyoming for nearly half a century. A man of great sagacity and tact as well as of an excellent education, his influence was extensively felt and acknowledged. For many years he held the first rank as a physician. Both the patriotic spirit and activity of Dr. Smith are shown by the fact that, while he was relied on as chlef medical attendant, by the settlement, he yet accepted and exercised the post of captain, commanding in Wilkes-Barre the "old reformadoes." Subsequently, when numerous troops were stationed at Wyoming, Dr. Smith was still the principal physician. After the war his enterprise led him to the establishment of mills at the old forge place, Pittston, where in 1800 he resided.
While one of the most eminent of the physicians, as well as prominent in the stirring times of Wyoming, he found time to indulge in literary pursuits; writing and publishing an elaborate work on alchemy, which was published by Asher and Charles Miner.
A daughter married Mr. Isaac Osterhout, and after his decease, Fisher Gay, Esq., of Kingston. Mr. Gay resides near the monument, which is built on his plantation, and it is proper to record, to his honor, that he most liberally presented the ground on which the structure is erected. Besides the daughter named, Dr. Smith had a numerous family. William Smith, a third son, is now (1845) living in Windham, Wyoming county, at the advanced age of eighty-five years. A daughter, Sarah, married James Sutton, of Exeter. She died in 1834, aged about eighty years. Another daughter married Dr. Lemuel Gustin (whose name will be found appended as a witness to the capitulation of Forty fort). Dr. Gustin removed to the West, and an only daughter of theirs, who was in the fort at the time of its surrender, married the Rev. Mr., Snowden, father of James Ross Snowden. The heart leaps more quickly, and the life current flows more kindly at the mention of his name, when we recollect that the late honored speaker of the house of representatives and present treasurer of the State, is the descendant of one of the Wyoming sufferers.
A daughter, Mary, married Mr. Baker, of New York city; Elizabeth married Mr. Bailey, who died in the lake country. Two sons, John and James, resided and died in the State of New York.
Dr. Smith died in the township of Tunkhannock, July 17, 1816, aged ninety-one years, having been born in 1724.
His heirs received from congress, in 1838, an appropriation of $2,400 as pay for acting surgeon in the Revolutionary war. For many of these interesting facts we are indebted to the polite attention of Isaac S. Osterhout,. grandson of the deceased patriot. The grant was just in itself, due to the services and honorable to the memory of Dr. Smith.
The Starks.—Christopher, James and Henry Stark were all buried side by side in a cemetery a mile south of Pittston. These three were father, son and grandson, and the patrimonial estate in 1845 was occupied by James and John Stark, the sons, grandsons and great-grandsons of the three first named. In 1845 James Stark was aged fifty, and at that early day could point side by side to the three generations of his ancestors. Miner thought at that time there was not another instance where there was a great-grandfather buried in the county. The Starks came in [p.357] 1771, when Christopher Stark must have been a very aged man; both he and his son James died before the Wyoming battle, the former from old age and his son James a victim of the small-pox that scourged this country in 1777. Two of the Stark names appear in 1772—Aaron and James; the former sold his land claim to James and settled in another part of the valley. Three brothers came from England, and a descendant of one of the brothers was the Gen. Stark of immortal fame—the hero of Bennington. James Stark, son of James and brother of Henry, was a member of one of the independent companies. In the Wyoming battle were three brothers— Daniel, Aaron and James; the last named only escaped with his life. After the war a portion of the family settled on the Tunkhannock, and that name, it is supposed was given by Daniel Stark. A grandson of the slain Aaron, John D. Stark, became a prominent citizen of Pittston.
Samuel Carey was nineteen years of age at the time of the Wyoming battle. Mr. Miner relates of the Careys as follows:
"Active, ardent and patriotic, he was enrolled in Capt. Bidlack's company; was out on several scouting parties before the invasion; was up at Wyalusing, and with our men at Exeter, aiding to bring away the remains of the Hardings and others, murdered by the Indians a day or two before the battle. On the fatal 3d he was at his post, and marched with the brave Bidlack to the contest. Their position was near the right. The left wing was earliest pressed and retreated, being thrown into entire confusion before the center or right gave way; but retreat had become inevitable. Mr. Carey left the road and passed down on the low flats near where the monument is erected; Zipperah Hibberd was nearest to him. Hibberd was in the prime of early manhood, six feet high, built at once for strength and activity; he was straight as an arrow, and moved with a light, elastic step. Of him it is told by several of the old settlers, that in their athletic sports Hibberd would take off his hat and shoes; let two companions hold a string extended so that in walking under it he could just touch it with his head; he would then step off a few paces till he got his proper distance, return on the spring, and leap over the string with the alertness of the bounding deer. His activity, and manly and social qualities, rendered him a general favorite. Mr. Hibberd was but recently married. Preparations for the engagement had been made the day previous. Fear was a stranger to his breast, but he was sensible and sagacious, and he saw from the unprepared state of our people, enfeebled by the two companies raised for our special defence being marched and kept away, and from the evidence of great force on the part of the enemy, that the chances were all against us. Perhaps, and it is thought there was a particular presentiment, that go the battle as it would, he should not survive. But listening to nothing but the dictates of patriotism and duty, he fitted himself for the field—went to the door—looked abroad to the bright heavens and the beautiful earth, then clothed in the rich robe of approaching harvest—gazed a moment —rested his gun against the door-post—hastened into the house and impressed one parting kiss on the pale lips of his trembling bride—spoke not a word, but tore himself away; and the next hour there was not a soldier that marched to the field with more cheerful alacrity. He went to return no more.
"Hibberd and Carey ran together toward the river, Hibberd in advance, breaking a path through a heavy piece of rye. The obstruction, perhaps, proved fatal to him, for by the time they got through he was nearly exhausted, and showed signs of great fatigue. On coming near the river bank and leaving the rye field, Mr. Hibberd sprang to the sandbar, but was closely pursued by an Indian, who overtook him before he could gain the stream. As Hibberd turned to defend himself he received the accursed spear in his breast, and fell lifeless on the sand.
"Mr. Carey got to the river lower down, and succeeded in swimming across, but the savages had crossed over before him, and he was instantly surrounded by several. One who seemed to have authority took charge of him, but a small Indian, [p.358] pitted with the small-pox, and having lost an eye (as he stood naked, for Mr. Carey had stripped off all his clothes that he might swim), with a malicious smile, drew a knife up and down his breast and abdomen, about an inch from the skin, saying the, while, Te-te—te-te. They then made him swim back, bound his hands, and he was conducted to Wintermoot's. The fort had been set on fire by the enemy at the commencement of the engagement, and Mr. Carey saw the remains of one or two of our people, who had been thrown on the burning pile, but they were then lifeless. That night he lay on the ground, bound, and without food. The next morning an officer struck him on the mouth with his open hand. 'You are the follow,' said he, 'that threatened yesterday morning you would comb my hair, are you?' He then learned that the Indian who had taken him was Capt. Roland Montour, who now gave him food, unbound, and led him to a young savage who was mortally wounded. What passed he could not then perfectly comprehend, but afterward learned the purpose was to show him to the dying Indian, and ask if his life should be preserved and he be taken to the Indian's parents to be adopted instead of their lost son. He assented, and young Carey's life was saved. They then painted him, and gave him the name of the dying Indian—Coconeunquo—of the tribe of Onondagoes.
"When the enemy marched from the valley, Mr. Carey, carefully guarded. was taken with them, and when they reached the Indian country, was handed over to the family into which he had been adopted, where, if he would have conformed to savage customs, and have drunk so deep of the waters of forgetfulness as to cease to remember country, connection and friends, he might have remained peaceable, if not happy; but beloved Wyoming, doubly dear from her sorrows, would rise to his slumbers, as it was ever present to his waking hours, and he sighed for liberty and home. He thinks the old Indian and squaw—his savage parents—saw that he could not mingle in spirit with them, for they used constantly to mourn for their lost boy. Just at day-breaking they would set up a pitiful cry—oh! oh! ho!—and at evening, as the sun was going down—oh! oh! ho!—and with all their stoicism their sorrows would not cease. At times, while here, he suffered much from hunger, having only a spoonful of parched corn a day for several weeks. He thought he should have famished; and in the severe winters, his sufferings from cold were extreme; but he shared like the rest of the family, and they evidently meant, after once adopting, to treat him kindly.
"More than two weary years were passed in this way, when he got to Niagara, where he was detained, though with less suffering, until restored to liberty by the glorious news of peace and independence. It was on June 29, 1784, before the charming valley again met his sight, after having suffered six years of distressing captivity.
"Mr. Carey mentions the fact, stated by others, that Walter Butler, a favorite son of Col. John Butler, was killed by the Americans, near Mud creek, on returning from one of his excursions against our settlements on the Mohawk. He adds— what before I did not remember to have heard—that one of the Wintermoots was, killed at the same time. Butler was shot by a rifle ball through the head, aimed at him from an extraordinary distance.
"There was a Joseph Carey and Samuel Carey both killed in the battle, but it does not occur to my recollection whether they were relatives of the Mr. Samuel Carey of whom I now speak. His brother, Nathan Carey, was in the engagement, and fortunately escaped. Their father's name was Eleazer Carey, a name held by one of his descendants, still known and highly respected in the valley.
"Though at the advanced age of seventy-nine, Mr. Carey enjoys tolerable health; his mind active and his memory sound. Though not rich, he is yet, by the industry and frugality of a long life, comfortable in his declining days, and has the happiness of having sons and daughters settled around him, all well to do, and all [p.359] respectable—and some in very independent circumstances. His wife, Theresa, was the daughter of Capt. Daniel Gore; so that if the morning of life was crowded with sorrow and woe, his evening is calm and serene." Mr. Samuel Carey died in 1842, and was buried with military honors.
Mrs. Myers.—Mr. Miner relates graphically a visit he made in company with Prof. Silliman to this lady, who, he says, was the mother of Sheriff Myers, in office, in 1845. Mrs. Myers was a Bennett, and was in the fort at the time of the battle— sixteen years old. This good woman talked long with the Professor, and told of those scenes she so vividly remembered—of the arrival of Capt. Durkee, Lieut. Phineas Pearce and another officer. How "just at evening a few of the fugitives came rushing into the fort and fell down exhausted, some wounded and bloody; through the night, every hour, one or more came in; how the enemy marched in six abreast after the capitulation." She told, as she remembered seeing, of the interviews between Col. John Butler and Col. Denison in reference to carrying out in good faith the honorable terms of capitulation, and asking that the outrages of the Indians be stopped. Butler acknowledged the wrongs, and after repeated promises finally told Denison that he had no power to restrain the savages.
"The Indians, to show their entire independence and power, came into the fort, and one took the hat from Col. Denison's head; another demanded his rifle frock, a dress much worn by officers, as well as soldiers. It did not suit Col. Denison to be thus stripped, whereupon the Indian raised his tomahawk menacingly, and Col. Denison was obliged to yield; but seeming to find difficulty in taking off the garment, he stepped back to where the young women were sitting. The girl who sat by Miss Bennett was one of Col. Denison's own family—she understood the movement, and took from a pocket in the frock a purse, and hid it under her apron. The frock was delivered to the Indian, and the town money (for the purse, containing a few dollars, was the whole military chest of Wyoming) was saved.
"Mrs. Myers represents Col. Butler as a portly, good-looking man, perhaps forty-five, dressed in green, the uniform of Butler's rangers, with a cap and feather. Col. Butler led the chief part of his army away in a few days, but parties of Indians continued in the valley burning and plundering. Her father's house was left for a week; she used to go out to see if it was safe. One morning as she looked out from the fort, fire after fire rose, east, west, north and south, and casting her eyes toward home, the flames were bursting from the roof, and in an hour it was all a heap of ruins."
The splendid farm half a mile above the Dorrance place was at the time Mr. Miner wrote the property and residence of a son of the boy, Bennett, who was a captive with his father, and escaped as related above (this was John Bennett). As stated, one of the sons of Mrs. Myers was sheriff; another was for years a magistrate; a daughter married Rev. Dr. Peck. In 1845 Mrs. Bennett, widow of the Bennett who was captured and escaped, was eighty-three years of age—blind—but her mental faculties, Mr. Miner says, were as clear as in her prime, and her recollections of the bloody days in the valley were full, and as told by her, remarkably interesting. She was an eye-witness of many
Of most disastrous consequences—hair-breadth 'scapes.
The Bennetts were conspicuous in the trials and sore tribulations of the early day in war and in peace, and several lineal descendants are now among the citizens of the county. Her father and brother, and Lebeus Hammond, were at one time all at work in the field, when they were captured by six Indians and hurried north. May 3, when they went into camp at night, the prisoners had made up their minds from certain indications that the Indians intended to massacre them the next day, and, pretending, sleep, watched their opportunity, when Bennett killed the Indian on watch, and the three killed five of the captors, when the last one fled. Joyfully they returned to their friends, bringing the arms and scalps as trophies.
[p.360] Joseph Elliott was in the battle of July 3, and of him has been handed down much of the blood-curdling stories that furnished the aftermath to the battle. He was one who, in after life, "oft shouldered the crutch and showed how" the wicked Brant and the yet more cruel Queen Esther breathed death and slaughter upon the prisoners who were bound and helpless.
Joseph Elliott, in 1845, was living at Wyalusing at the age of eighty-nine years; born October 10, 1756; his father had died in 1809, aged ninety-seven years. A family of unusual longevity and large physical development. The family came from Stonington to Luzerne county in 1776. The next year Joseph Elliott, a member of a detachment of eighty men under Col. Dorrance, which scouted up the river, ascending to Sheshequin. When the British and Indians invaded the valley, and the battle of July 3 followed, Elliott was in the ranks of the American army and fought in Capt. Bidlack's company. He was taken prisoner, and on his authority and oft repetition of the story, even Mr. Miner was misled into the current stories of the time as to the Indian chief, Brant, and the presence here of the bloody Queen Esther. Elliott was wounded as he fled from the field, while swimming the river at Monocacy island, being struck in the left shoulder. His escape was remarkable and he reached the fort, and his wound dressed, and, no doubt, his life saved by the presence and skill of Dr. William Hooker Smith. He often told that he remembered seeing Jeremiah Ross, Samuel and Joseph Crooker, Stephen Bidlack and Peter Wheeler butchered on that day.
No sooner was Elliott recovered, and his wounded shoulder sufficiently healed than he entered again upon acceptable services. On Sullivan's advance into the Indian country a line of expresses, to connect with Wyoming, was established, when Mr. John Carey and Joseph Elliott were selected to perform the duty. And, says Mr. Elliott, "after eighty days' constant service I was taken sick, and can not tell what should be the cause, unless too often sleeping out in the wet, overdone with fatigue and being very hungry." Joseph Elliott was an actor in another trying scene— the making prisoners of all Rosewell Franklin's family by the Indians, 1782. His account of the affair, so far as he was concerned was this: Several parties were marshaled to pursue the savages. One of these assembled at Mill creek, numbering nine persons. They chose Thomas Baldwin to be their leader, and himself to be second in command. Making their way up the river with all possible celerity, they were satisfied, when they reached the path on the mountain nearly opposite Frenchtown, that the enemy had not passed. Taking up a position on the hill which was deemed most eligible, being out of provisions, two of the men, expert hunters, went out for venison, when the Indians, thirteen in number, with Mrs. Franklin, her babe, two little girls and a boy about four years old, as prisoners, were reported by the advanced sentinel to be near. To call in their scattered hunters was of course impossible. There they were seven to thirteen, and it was bravely resolved to give battle. The fire was sharp on both sides. Capt. Baldwin received a rifle ball in the hand which nearly disabled him, but Thomas Baldwin was every inch a soldier, and still exerting himself he led on and cheered his men. How near they were is evident from the children knowing the voices of our party, and with instinctive sagacity they ran from the Indians, and clung to the knees of their friends. Mrs. Franklin, who had been ordered to sit still, raised her head on hearing the joyous cry of her children, and the savages instantly shot her. Pressing forward, the Indians were compelled to retreat, leaving two or three of their number dead on the field. The infant was borne off in their flight, and its fate never known. The two little girls and younger boy were, after the burial of their mother, decently as circumstances permitted, brought safely to Wyoming, and restored to the arms of their father. Mr. Franklin had been with another party in eager pursuit, but had failed to find the enemy. Gen. William Ross used to say the battle for Mr. Franklin's family was one of the best contested in Wyoming.
[p.361] A pension of $65 a year has contributed to render the evening of the days of Elliott comfortable. Below the middle hight, he was well built, and of that cast best shown by experience to be adapted to endure fatigue. June 25, 1845, when we called on the old gentleman to hear his narrative, he was at work in his garden. In early life Joseph Elliott must have been handsome, for, except the loss of his right eye, he still looks well. His face is round and lighted up by a benevolent smile. Half his thin hair is still dark, and his manner mild and pleasing. But when he is in full tide, relating the events of battle—"when the Indians came down on us like so many raging devils," age is forgotten, and he is full of animation. His habits have been simple, his life virtuous, his conduct in war meritorious as fidelity and bravery could render it. He lives universally respected, and it is hoped, may enjoy his pension these many coming years. With pleasure we add that his son was, at the last session, a member of assembly from Bradford county.
Silas Harvey was one of the victims of that fatal field of July 3. He was a son of Benjamin Harvey, who came with his family from Lyme, Conn., an intimate friend, neighbor and confidant of Col. Z. Butler, not any in the old State before they came here, but in the trying times they passed in the valley. Benjamin Harvey had three sons; the eldest, Benjamin, joined the independent companies in 1776 and served under Gen. Washington and died in the army; Silas, mentioned above, died as stated. In December, 1780, the savages made an incursion and captured several prisoners, of whom were Benjamin Harvey and his youngest and only remaining son, Elisha. They were driven to Canada and during the winter their sufferings were intense. In 1784 Benjamin was cruelly imprisoned by the Pennites.
Elisha Harvey married Rosanna Jameson. Their son, Jameson Harvey, was one of the earliest to make a fortune of the rich coal mines here.
Phebe Young.—Her maiden name was Phobe Poyner. Her father was a Huguenot, who was compelled to leave France and come to this country, in consequence of persecution for religious opinions. An active and intelligent man, he was a commissary in the old French war: The name of her mother was Eunice Chapman, a native of Colchester, Conn., but married to Mr. Poyner at Sharon, Nine- partners, New York—where the subject of this notice was born, in 1750. Her father died of small-pox at Albany, and her mother married Dr. Joseph Sprague, a widower, who had several children by his first wife. The united families removed to Wyoming in 1770—Mrs. Young being then twenty years old.
There were only five white women in Wilkesbarre township when she arrived; Mrs. McClure, wife of James McClure; Mrs. Sill, wife of Jabez Sill; Mrs. Bennett, grandmother of Rufus Bennett, the brave old soldier, who was in the battle; another of the same name, wife of Thomas Bennett, mother of Mrs. Myers, and a Mrs. Hickman. At Mill Creek, just above the large merchant mills of Mr. Hollenback, a fort was erected—containing, perhaps, an acre. A ditch was dug around the area— logs, twelve or fourteen feet high, split, were placed perpendicularly in double rows, to break joints, so as to enclose it. Loop-holes to fire through with musketry were provided. There was one cannon in the fort, the only one in the settlement, until Sullivan's expedition in 1779; but it was useless, except as an alarm gun, having no ball. Within this enclosure the whole settlement was congregated; the men, generally armed, going out to their farms to work during the day, and returning at night. The town plot of the borough had been laid out, but not a house built. It was a sterile plain, covered with pitch pine and scrub oak. Mr. John Abbott (who fell by the hands of the savages, the father of Mr. Stephen Abbott of Jacobs Plains) put up the first house, on the southwest corner of Main and Northampton streets. Mr., afterward Col. Denison, and Miss Sill, were the first couple married at Wilkes-Barre. The wedding took place at the house where the late Col. Wells' house stands. Mrs. McClure gave birth to the second child born here—a son. But let us look in upon them. The houses, store and sheds were placed around against the [p.362] wall of timbers. Matthias Hollenback, then about twenty, full of life and enterprise, had just come up the river with a boat load of goods, and opened a store of various articles exceedingly needed. On the left was the house of Capt. Z. Butler. Next on the right was the building of Dr. Sprague, the physician of the settlement, and who kept a boarding-house. Here Mr. Hollenback and Mr. Denison had their quarters. Capt. Rezin Geer, who fell in the battle, was here. For bread they used pounded corn; mills there were none; nor a table, nor a chair, nor a bedstead, except the rude manufacture of the hour. Dr. P. would take his horse, with as much wheat as he could carry, and go out to the Delaware to get it ground. A bridle path was the only road, and seventy or eighty miles to mill was no trifling distance. The flour was kept for cakes, and to be used only on extraordinary occasions. But venison and shad were in abundance. All were elate with hope, and the people for a time were never happier. But sickness came, Zebulon, a son of Capt. Butler, died —two daughters of the Rev. Mr. Johnson; two men, Peregrine Gardiner and Thomas Robinson; then Lazarus Young, a brother of Mrs. Young's husband, was drowned. Soon after Capt. Butler and Mr. Young, her husband, were taken prisoners by the Pennites and carried to Philadelphia. Dr. Sprague died in Virginia. A son fell in the Wyoming battle. Phebe Young's husband was at the Narrows with Col. Butler, July 1, and in the battle on the 3d, but escaped. Mrs. Young was at Hanover, with Mrs. Col. Denison and her two children Col. Lazarus Denison and Betsey, the late Mrs. Shoemaker). These three, with Mrs. Sheriff Fitch, Mrs. Young and two children, entered a canoe, rowed by Levi Vincent, and fled down the river to Harrisburg. Mrs. Young was the last survivor of the port at Mill Creek. She died at the good age of eighty-nine years.
Jamesons.—This family came here in 1776 from Voluntown, Conn. Robert Jameson, the father, was born in 1714, and, consequently, was sixty-two years old when he came, bringing his sons, all grown, Robert, William, John, Alexander and Joseph. His one daughter married Elisha Harvey, and their daughter married Rev. George Lane, long and well known in this part of the State. Elisha Harvey was taken a prisoner and taken to Canada by the Indians. Robert and William Jameson were in Capt. McKerachan's company in the Wyoming battle. Robert was killed and William's gunlock was shot away. William Jameson was murdered near Careytown in the fall of 1778, as was John in 1782 near the Hanover meeting house. Thus three of the five sons fell victims of the savages. John Jameson, one of the killed, had married a daughter of Maj. Prince Alden, and left two children— son and daughter. Hannah, a third child, was born soon after his decease and married Elder Pearce, a distinguished minister of the Methodist Episcopal church. Polly was married to Jonathan Hunlock, and Samuel, the oldest child, resided at the original farm in Hanover, where he died in 1845, having sustained the character of an upright and amiable man. For several of the last years of his life he was a member of the Presbyterian church. The two other sons of the old gentleman resided on their beautiful plantation in Salem adjoining that of N. Beach, having at their command and hospitably enjoying all the good things that could make life pass agreeably. Joseph, one of the pleasantest and most intelligent men of our early acquaintance, chose to live a bachelor, the more unaccountable as his pleasing manners, cheerful disposition and inexhaustible fund of anecdote rendered him everywhere an agreeable companion. Alexander was for a number of years a magistrate. He was a man of active business habits. Both these brothers, besides the deep sufferings of their family, were themselves participators in the active scenes of the war and endured hardships that the present inhabitants can form no true conception of. Their mother's maiden name was Dixon, of the family from which the Hon. Dixon, senator in congress from Rhode Island, was descended. Their father died in 1786, aged seventy-two. On the main road between Beach Grove and Berwick, a distance of six miles, in 1856 there resided the following named persons [p.363] who died at an advanced age: Alexander Jameson, ninety-five; Joseph Jameson, ninety-two; Elizabeth Jameson, eighty-eight; Mary Jameson, eighty-five; Nathan Beach, eighty-four; Mr. Hughes, ninety; two of the Messrs. Courtright, each about eighty, and Mr. Varner, ninety-one. Besides these there were a number who lived to an age exceeding seventy-five years.
The Perkins Family.—"Among the many instances of Indian barbarity the murder of Mr. John Perkins has been narrated. He was from Plainfield, Windham county. On the enlistment of the two independent companies his eldest son, then an active young man of about twenty, enrolled his name in the list and marched to camp under Ransom. Hence the family were special objects of hatred to the enemy. Aaron Perkins continued in the army to the close of the war, having given his best days to the service of his country. David Perkins, the next brother, took charge of the family, and, by great prudence and industry, kept them together and not only preserved the plantation but improved and enlarged it so that now it is among the most valuable in Kingston. For a great number of years Mr. Perkins executed the duties of a magistrate to the general acceptance. A son of his held the commission of major in the United States army. Numbers of his children were well married and settled around him or not far distant. The late Mrs. James Hancock, whose amiable character endeared her to all who had the pleasure of her acquaintance, was the daughter of David Perkins. The beautiful farm of Mr. Hancock, embracing more than 100 acres of rich alluvial land, contains the lower part of the ancient Indian fort, the upper part running into the no less valuable plantation of John Searle, whose grandfather fell in the battle; so that the children, descendants of both those ancient sufferers by savage barbarity, now disport in peaceful triumph on the ruined palace of those haughty and cruel warriors by whose hands their forefathers fell.
"David Perkins still lives  in the enjoyment of fine health and an easy fortune. Aaron, the old soldier, one of the extreme remnant of Ransom and Durkee's men, broken with age and toil, you may yet see slowly pacing his brother's porch or in summer a day taking his walk along those beautiful plains. If not enjoying much positive pleasure he yet seems to suffer no pain. Linger yet, aged veteran! Ye winds blow kindly on him! Beam mildly on his path, thou radiant sun that saw his father slaughtered! and must have witnessed the gallant soldier in many a noble conflict. Plenty surrounds him. Peace to his declining years! As a most interesting memorial of the past we love to look upon you!"
Such is the glowing tribute of Mr. Miner to this worthy family.
Luke Swetland was the Grandfather of William Swetland, for many years a prominent business man whose elegant country seat was a short distance above Col. Denison's place. Mr. Miner says:
"Luke Swetland bore arms in defence of Wyoming, although it is not certainly known whether he was in the battle. Immediately after the expulsion, he, with twenty-five or thirty others of the inhabitants, united together and joined (not enlisted) the company of Capt. Spalding. The fact is shown by the receipt they gave to Col. Butler for continental arms, issued to them at Port Penn. Their aid thus strengthening Spalding's company enabled him earlier to march to Wilkes-Barre and arrest the depredations of the Indians. Mr. Sweetland was taken prisoner with Joseph Blanchard, near Nanticoke, where they had gone to mill (this was August 24, 1778), and were carried by the savages to their country, near Geneva lake. Besides the constant dread of torture, his sufferings from cold and want of food during the winter were intense. A man of ardent piety, the confidence and hope imparted by religion sustained him. To trace his weary days of captivity would be but a repetition of ever-recurring sorrows. After having failed in several attempts to escape, he was at length rescued by our army under Gen. Sullivan. Returning to his native Connecticut, he had a narrative of his captivity and sufferings [p.364] printed at Hartford. His taste and pride took a right direction, and were of much value to the settlement; I refer to his establishment of a nursery for fruit, and his introduction from New England of various kinds of apples, selected with care. It is long since he was withdrawn from life. The contrast between the sufferings of the grandsire and the prosperity of his descendant, leads to agreeable reflections. I can not close this very brief notice without a passing tribute to the memory of William Swetland and Belding Swetland, sons of the old gentleman, who in early life were the attached, the respected friends of the writer. Though in a position remarkable for general health, they were both taken away in the midday of activity and usefulness. Peace to those who have departed; prosperity and honor to the living!"
The Searles.—William Searle's daughter, Abagail, was married with Stephen Abbott, as mentioned in Abbott's sketch. William's father was Constant Searle, who was in the Wyoming battle, a man of advanced age at the time, and grandfather of several children. With this man in the battle was his young son, Roger Searle, and his son-in-law, Capt. Dethic Hewett, in command of the third company raised at Wyoming by order of congress. Three, therefore, were in the fight, and the fourth, William Searle, was not, because confined to the house by a wound from a rifle shot inflicted when with a scouting party a few days previous. Young Roger Searle was only eighteen; his venerable father wore a wig. By the side of young Searle was the yet yonnger lad, William Buck, who was killed when only fourteen years of age. William Searle, Mrs. Abbott's father, went out of the valley with the fugitives, having twelve women and children in his charge. Charles Miner quotes from a diary of his of that time:
"Battle of Westmoreland, July 3, 1778.
"Capitulation ye 4th.
"Prisoners obtained liberty to leave the settlement ye 7th.
"We reached Stonington ye 25th."
Constant Searle, who was in the battle, died at Providence, August 4, 1804, aged forty-five years. Four of the Searle name, to wit, Roger, William, Constant and Miner Searle, settled on the Lackawanna, where in the early part of this century they became prominent citizens.
Lucy Ives, nee Williams, wrote Charles Miner, when he was publishing his series in the Traveller, and briefly tells the following: "Had two brothers and a brother-in-law in the battle; brothers killed and brother-in-law severely wounded. Father and family retreated through the swamp, but he returned in the fall in the hope of securing a portion of his crop, and in his field was killed by the Indians. When the battle occurred the family had resided here five years. After Mr. Williams was massacred, the widow, with the children, returned to Connecticut, where they remained until peace was made. The five children were Esther, Desire, Martha, Lucy and Darius. The father was Elihu Williams, and the two brothers killed in the battle were Rufus and Elihu. The only son left was Darius, who at the time was an infant. The struggle and poverty that followed this poor woman and children was a hard inheritance to be added to the bloody visitations that were theirs."
The Abbotts.—John Abbott and family came as early settlers to the valley, his family being wife and nine children, the eldest a boy eleven years old. He shouldered his gun and went forth to battle, leaving his ten dependents to fate. He escaped in the general massacre of July 3; fled and crossed the river at Monocacy island; then fled with his family to Sunbury, leaving his whole possessions behind. In the face of the certain dangers, he returned to secure his crops. With a man named Williams he was at work on the flats, and near a ravine, on the Hollenback farm, above Mill Creek, when they were ambushed, massacred and scalped.
Mrs. Abbott's maiden name was Alice Fuller, and now, broked-hearted and utterly [p.367] hopeless, she started with her nine children on the dreadful journey through the wilderness to the former home in Hampton, Conn., a distance of nearly 300 miles. Imagination will try in vain to recall the picture of this family, stripped of their protector and of every vestige of their property, facing such unequaled trials. They reached, finally, the old home, destitute, sore and broken-hearted, but the little toddlers at once commenced to help the mother in providing food, nearly all the children finding temporary homes among the adjacent farmers. In time the boys had grown to lusty youths, when the family returned to claim their once father's lands and rebuild the burned cabin. Soon the family was once more united, and glints of the sweet sunshine once more brought life and hope to these poor people. The widow intermarried with Stephen Gardiner. A son, Stephen Abbott, married Abigail Searle (a family mentioned elsewhere). He finally settled on the patrimonial property and became a prominent and wealthy citizen— past seventy years of age when Mr. Miner wrote of him as the "little boy who, in the exodus, was pattering barefoot by his mother's side on the way to Connecticut." Stephen Abbott's second wife was a daughter of Col. Denison.
John Abbott, the name mentioned in the first paragraph of this article, built the first house in what is now the city of Wilkes-Barre, which stood at what is the corner of Main and Northampton streets.
The Blackmans.—Of this family Mr. Miner wrote in 1838:
"Maj. Eleazer Blackman is the son of Elisha Blackman, who died in September 1804, in Wilkes-Barre, aged eighty-seven. I believe I have mentioned that companies of old men, out of the trainband, were formed, called 'The Reformadoes,' to defend the forts and do garrison service, while the younger portion performed the more active duties. Thus the fort in Plymouth was kept by a company, of which old Mr. Bidlack was captain. The fort at Pittston was kept by a company, of which old Mr. Blanchard, father of the late Capt. Jeremiah Blanchard, was captain. Jenkins' fort, above Wintermoot's, was commanded by Capt. Harding, father of the Hardings slain at Exeter; Esq. Jenkins was his lieutenant. And at Wilkes-Barre the 'Reformadoes' were commanded by William Hooker Smith, Elisha Blackman being his lieutenant.
"In conversation with Maj. Eleazer Blackman, who, though only about thirteen years old at the time, is yet, from his clear mind and extraordinary memory, very intelligent in respect to all that happened at that early day he informed me that neither the continental congress, nor colony of Connecticut expended a penny in building those forts. The people of Wyoming built them all, in the language of a resolution of the town of Westmoreland, 'without fee or reward.' He, too young to go out to battle, worked at the fort at Wilkesbarre, drove oxen to haul in timber, dug in the trenches, and labored constantly until it was finished. This fort stood where the courthouse now stands, and embraced from a quarter to half an acre. It was square, built by setting yellow pine logs upright in the earth close together, fifteen feet high, surrounded by a trench. The corners were so rounded as to flank all sides of the fort. The gate opened toward the river, and they had one double fortified four-pounder for defence and as an alarm gun to the settlement. All the forts were built on the same plan, except, in some cases, there were double rows of logs set on end in the ground, thereby strengthening the defences. The day preceding the battle Maj. Blackman"s father and two brothers, Elisha and Ichabod, were with the party up at Exeter. Elisha Blackman, the brother, was eighteen at the time of the engagement. The family was from Lebanon, in the State of Connecticut, and removed to Wyoming in 1773. He belonged to Capt. Bidlack's company, and when they marched up to battle there were thirty-two men. Of these only eight escaped; himself, Sergt. Daniel Downing, Jabez Fish, Orderly Sergeant Phineas Spafford, M. Mullen, Samuel Carey, Tom Porter. drummer, and one other; all the rest were slain.
[p.368] "Bidlack's company was near the right, being next to Capt. Hewitt's. Bidlack, brave man, would not retreat, though the left was broken and retreating, and he died at the head of his men. Darius Spafford, brother-in-law of Elisha and Eleazer Blackman, who had married their sister Lavina only two months before, was shot, and fell in the arms of his brother Phineas and died simply saying, 'Take care of Lavina.' Old Mr. Blackman would not leave the fort, believing with Dr. Smith, it would give the best protection, while Eleazer, his mother and widowed sister, and his sister Lucy and Phineas Spafford, fled with the other flying fugitives. Elisha Blackman, Jr., returned with Spalding's command." Mr. Miner wrote in 1838: "Elisha aged seventy-eight; Eleazer aged seventy-three, the first in Hanover, the other in Wilkes-Barre, each on his own farm and with a liberal competence." Then a note is added: "Eleazer Blackman died in 1844, aged seventy-nine. Elisha still living (1844), it is said, is one of the survivors of the Wyoming battle."
The Marcys.—Zebulon and Ebenezer Marcy were brothers. The painful circumstances connected with the flight of the wife of Ebenezer are elsewhere related. The case of the wife of Zebulon was still more distressing. She fled with an infant six weeks old in her arms, at the same time leading a child two years older. The oldest died in the wilderness, and as there were no means to bury it decently, they covered it with moss and bark as well as they could, and hurried on, leaving its remains to the beasts of prey. The infant daughter, Mrs. Whitmore, formerly Mrs. McCord, is now (June, 1845) living in Wyoming county. Zebulon Marcy, after the war, established himself on a fine farm, on the Tunkhannock, where he exercised the duties of a magistrate for many years. On the 11th of September, 1834, he closed his eventful life at the advanced age of ninety years.
The Gaylord Family emigrated at an early day to Wyoming, from Norwich. Justus Gaylord commenced a settlement in Springfield, on the Wyalusing, before Indian hostilities began; but was obliged to remove down the river to the more densely populated country. When the independent companies were raised, two of his sons, Justus and Ambrose, enlisted in that of Capt. Ransom, and served during the war. On the restoration of peace, the old gentleman and his son Justus resumed their possessions at Wyalusing; while Ambrose established himself at Braintrim.
"Aholiab Buck, captain of the Kingston company, about a year before the battle, had married Miss York, born in Stonington. The (subsequently) Rev. Miner York was her brother. Mrs. Buck was in Forty fort, having in her arms an infant daughter, a few weeks old, when her husband led his men to the field—no more to return. Their fight, their sorrows, their deep sufferings, so similar to those of hundreds of others, it would seem like repetition to relate. At the conclusion of the war, Justus Gaylord, Jr., and Mrs. Buck were married by the Rev. Mr. Johnson. The author waited upon her, June 25, 1845, and found the good old lady, now eighty-eight years of age, in fine health and spirits, the profusion of lace upon her cap speaking of habitual fondness for dress, her round, full face, and cheerful smile indicating in early life, remarkable personal beauty. She had walked up a mile to visit Mrs. Taylor, wife of Maj. John Taylor, the daughter we have spoken of as being on her nursing bosom in July, 1778. Mrs. Gaylord never had but that one child. But Mrs. Taylor has counted seventeen, and nearly forty grandchildren, besides seven or eight great-great-grandchildren. So that, although the name of Capt. Buck is not perpetuated, yet his descendants are now numerous, and well to live."
In 1806 Justus Gaylord, Jr., was on the ticket for assembly. Luzerne then embraced Wyoming, Susquehanna and Bradford, except the Tioga district set off to Lycoming. The votes stood: Justus Gaylord, Jr., 333; Justus Gaylord, 38; total, 371; Moses Coolbaugh, 364. So that if the votes given without the Jr. were added to his list (his father being a very old man and not a candidate), he was [p.369] chosen. But the place had not charm enough to induce the old soldier to contest the election, and Mr. Coolbaugh took the seat. The incident is mentioned to show the respect in which he was held, as well as to show the fact less than 400 votes chose a member of assembly. The old gentleman removed with a son to the Ohio, where, at a very advanced age, he died. Justus died May, 1830, aged seventy-three. Ambrose, who settled in Braintrim, married Eleanor Comstock, daughter of John Comstock, who came from Norwich west, farms. Mr. Gaylord died June 12, 1844, and had he lived to November, he would have been ninety-five. His country had not entirely forgotten him, for his old age was cheered by a pension of $80. His good wife Eleanor (June, 1845) is eighty-two years of age, of sound mind and memory. She states that her father and two brothers were in the battle, she living in Forty fort. Her two brothers, Kingsley and Robert, were killed. Her father, exhausted in the flight, threw himself beside a fallen tree. Presently two Indians sprang upon it, intent on those at a distance, and, on stepping down to pursue, bent the bushes so as to brush him. When night came, he found his way to the fort. Another branch of the name settled in the lower part of Wyoming. The father of the late Charles E. Gaylord, of Huntington, died while in the service, having been a member of Capt. Durkee's company. Lieut. Aaron Gaylord, one of the officers who fell in the battle, was his brother.
Dr. Charles Gaylord studied medicine after the war with Dr. Henderson, a distinguished physician of Connecticut, in compliment to whom he gave that name to his son. Dr. Gaylord died in 1839, aged sixty-nine years. Four, therefore, bore arms for their country, one of whom died in the service and one fell in battle. Josiah Rogers removed with his family to Wyoming, and settled at Plymouth in 1776. After the massacre, with his family he fled, taking his course down the Susquehanna two days' journey; thence across the mountains toward Northampton of Berks. Exhausted by fatigue, and heart-stricken with terror, Mrs. Rogers fainted upon the journey; and notwithstanding the utmost aid was administered their poor means afforded, she died in the wilderness, many miles from any human habitation. This was July 9, 1778. Husband and children gathered round to look upon the pale face of one who in life they had loved so fondly. It was a scene of inexpressible sorrow. A broken piece of board that lay in the path was used for a spade, and in a hollow where a fallen tree had upturned its roots, a shallow grave was dug, and her remains were buried with all the care and respect their distressed condition would allow. On the board placed over the grave, this inscription was written with a piece of charcoal:
"Here rest the remains of Hannah, wife of Jonah Rogers, who died while fleeing from the Indians after the massacre at Wyoming."
Frail memorial of reverence and love! yet how slightly more endurable, having reference either to time or eternity, are the costliest monuments that ostentatious pride, or heartfelt grief, have ever erected, to perpetuate what the inexorable law of nature has prescribed shall be forgotten! The deceased was aged fifty-two years. Her maiden name was Hannah Ford.
Lieut. James Welles is on the record of the honored patriots who fell in that disastrous battle, which filled Wyoming with lamentation and woe. The family were the earliest settlers in Springfield, on the Wyalusing, from which on danger of the savages becoming imminent, they removed to the more densely settled part of the country in the valley. Resuming the occupation of their property on the restoration of peace, the family became prosperous, and among the most respectable and independent inhabitants of that beautiful place, formerly, it will be remembered the residence of the Moravian missionaries and Christian Indians.
Corey and Bullock.—Of the Corey and Bullock families, no longer residents of Wyoming, we have been able to learn much less than from their sacrifices and sufferings could have been wished. Amos and Asa Bullock were killed in the battle. [p.370] One of the name, probably one of the brothers who fell, was a lawyer; the father resided at the meadows, six miles on the Easton road from Wilkes-Barre, where the night and day after the massacre, from the rushing in and departure of the fugitives, images of sorrow and despair, the dreadful uncertainty of the fate of his boys, the scene was inexpressibly distressing. Nathan Bullock, probably the father, was two years afterward taken by Indians a prisoner to Canada.
Three of the Corey family were among the victims of the rifle and tomahawk— Jenks, Rufus and Anson. The former was one of the original proprietors of Pittston. It may be noted as extraordinary that three of the younger branches of the name came by melancholy accident to untimely deaths. One being shot by a neighbor, mistaken for a deer; one lumbering some years ago on the Lehigh, the other in the far western country, to which the remainder of the family had emigrated. The father died long since in Kingston, and his remains are buried on or near the spot where the tavern stood on the northeast corner at New Troy.
The Church Family came from Kent, Litchfield county. "An abstract of the second independent company raised in the town of Westmoreland, commanded by Capt. Samuel Ransom," dated October 7, 1777, contains the names of Nathaniel Church, John Church and Gideon Church. The farm on the Kingston flats, opposite Mill Creek, was owned by, and the residence of Gideon, and the property belongs to his son, William Church. The reader familiar with old Indian wars will remember the gallant and successful Capt. Church, who was scarcely less distinguished than Mason, the hero of the Pequot conquest. There is no reason to doubt that the families were of the same original stock that in a very early day emigrated from England.
In the list of slain in the battle furnished by Col. Franklin is the name of Joel Church, who was also a brother of Gideon. With many other Wyoming people, attracted by alluring accounts of the richness of western lands, several of the family removed to Ohio. The Gere family was from Norwich, descended from one of the oldest families of that place. A Mr. Rezin Gere is named in its annals as living 200 years ago. Capt. Gere was aged forty years at the time of his death. Stephen Gere, of Brooklyn, Susquehanna county, is the only son living (June, 1845).
Capt. Rezin Gere commanded the Second or upper Wilkes-Barre company on the fatal 3d. He left three sons, the eldest only five years of age, to the care of his widow. Driven with her orphan children from the valley, their house and all their paper were consumed by fire. Too young to know their rights to return and repossess their farm, the title papers being destroyed, the land of course went into other hands. Capt. Jeremiah Gere, a highly respectable citizen of Susquehanna county, recently deceased, was one of the sons. The other brothers not long since visited Wyoming. "We are becoming old and poor," said they; "our father fell, a commissioned officer, fighting the enemies of liberty and his country—we lost everything, even the land. Is there no redress? Is there no aid to be obtained from the government of the country?" Their case seems one of great hardship. Is there one instance in a hundred in which congress has granted lands or pensions where the claim was so strong as this?
Mrs. Lucy Carey, of Scott township, whose maiden name was McKay, was in Forty fort at the time of the massacre, and, if now (1865) living, is one hundred years of age. She was alive one year ago.
Gershom Prince, though but a humble negro here when this was more intensely slave territory than was ever Virginia, is entitled—well entitled—to take his place among the immortals whose lives were a noble sacrifice to the liberty of mankind. Prince went out in the line and, bravely fighting, fell, and was with the silent heroes whose bones were left so long to bleach on the spot thus consecrated by the blood of heroes. It is supposed Prince was born in New England about 1733, and became a soldier in Capt. Israel Putnam's company, where he came to know Capt. [p.371] Durkee (a lieutenant then), and came with him to Wyoming. He was a soldier in the English army in 1762 in the war against Spain, and when the Revolution broke out he joined Col. Christopher Green's colored regiment, of Rhode Island. He was in the engagement at Red Bank in 1777, and soon after this came here with Durkee, it is supposed somewhat as a servant. He came post haste with Durkee, and at once went into the battle, and by his side died. On his body was found his powder horn, and his hand had carved carefully the following: "Prince negro his hornm." In another place, "Garshom Prince his hornm made at Crown Point Sept. ye 3rd day 1761." A caution is carved in a third place, "Steal not this hornm." He has, besides, given a view of six buildings on his horn, one of which hangs out the swinging sign. He has endeavored also to represent a water craft, but fearing it would not be recognized as such, has carved over it the word "vesel."
Stephen Abbott.—[Mr. Miner, in 1845, thus wrote of this family:] "On the other side of the river, opposite Forty fort, lives Stephen Abbott, a respectable and independent farmer. His father, John Abbott, was an early settler in Wyoming. There was one cannon, a four-pounder, in the Wilkes-Barre fort, and it had been agreed upon that, when certain information came that the enemy was dangerously near, the gun should be fired as a signal. At work on the flats, with his son, a lad eight or nine years old, he heard the terrific sound come booming up. Where or how near the enemy might be, of course he could not tell, but loosening the oxen from the cart, he hastened to the place of rendezvous. He was in the battle and fought side by side with his fellows to defend their homes. It makes my heart bleed to recur, as in these sketches I am obliged to do so often, to the retreat of our people. Again and again I aver there was no dishonor in it. I do not believe a braver or more devoted set of men ever marched forth to battle; but remember a greater part of the fighting men, those first for war, raised for the defence of Wyoming, were away defending the country, to be sure, fighting in the thrice glorious cause of liberty and independence, most certainly, but leaving their own homes wholly exposed, so that our little army was made up of such of the settlement as was left who could carry a gun, however unfit to meet the practiced and warlike savage, and the well-trained rangers of the British Butler. Mr. Abbott took his place in the ranks. He had a wife and nine children (the oldest boy being only eleven) depending on his protection, labor and care. If a man so circumstanced had offered his services to Washington, the General would have said, 'My friend, I admire your spirit and patriotism, but yonr family cannot dispense with your services without suffering; your duty to them is too imperious to permit you to leave them even to serve your country.' Such would have been the words of truth and soberness. But the emergency allowed no exemption. In the retreat Mr. Abbott fled to the river at Monocacy island, waded over to the main branch, and now being unable to swim, was aided by a friend and escaped. In the expulsion which followed, taking his family he went down the Susquehanna as far as Sunbury. What could he do? Home, harvest, cattle, all hope of provision for present and future use were at Wyoming. Like a brave man who meets danger and struggles to overcome it, like a faithful husband and fond father, he looked on his dependent family, and made his resolve. Mr. Abbott returned in hopes to secure a part of his excellent harvest which he left ripening in his fields. I am somewhat more particular in mentioning this my friend, for I wish, as you take an interest in this matter, to impress this important fact upon your mind—that our people, though sorely struck, though suffering under a most bloody and disastrous defeat, did not lie down idly in despair without an effort to sustain themselves. No; the same indomitable spirit which they had manifested in overcoming previous difficulties, still actuated them. Mr. Abbott came back, determined, if possible, to save from his growing abundance the means of subsistence. He went upon the flats to work with Isaac Williams.
[p.372] "Mr. Abbott and Mr. Williams were ambushed by the savages, and both murdered and scalped. There is a ravine on the upper part of the plantation of Mr. Hollenback, above Mill creek, where they fell.
"All hope was now extinguished, and Mrs. Abbott (her maiden name was Alice Fuller), with a broken heart, set out with her nine children (judge ye how helpless and destitute!) to find their way to Hampton, an eastern town in Connecticut, from whence they had emigrated. Their loss was total. House burnt—barn burnt— harvests all devastated—cattle wholly lost—valuable title papers destroyed—nothing, nothing saved from the desolating hand of savage ruin and tory vengeance. 'God tempers the wind to the shorn lamb.' They had between 200 and 300 miles to travel, through a country where patience and charity had been already exhausted by the great number of applicants for relief. But they were sustained; and arrived at their native place, the family was separated, and found homes and employment among the neighboring farmers, where they dwelt for several years, until the boys, grown up to manhood, were able to return, claim the patrimonial lands—again to raise the cottage and the byre, and once more to gather mother and children round the domestic hearth, tasting the charms of independence and the blessings of home.
"An interesting case, most certainly. Besides the deprivation of a father, the direct loss of property must have been considerable—more than $1,000, I should suppose. I confess it appears to me very plain, that the continental congress, having drawn away the men of war raised for the defence of Wyoming, thereby brought down the enemy on a defenceless place, and were the cause of the sufferings and losses, and that the national government is, therefore, by every consideration of justice and honor, though late postponed, bound to make good to the sufferers the losses sustained. Did you say that Mrs. Abbott, the widow, also returned?
"Yes—and long occupied the farm where her busbadd fell. She was afterward married to a man whose name was known widely as the extent of the settlement; a shrewd man—a great reader—very intelligent—distinguished far and near for the sharpness of his wit, the keenness of his sarcasm, the readiness of his repartees, and the cutting pungency of his satire; withal not unamiable—for in the domestic circle he was kind and clever, and they lived happily together; but his peculiar talent being known, for many years every wit and witling of the country round about thought he must break a lance with him. Constantly assailed— tempted daily 'to sharp encounter'—armed at all points like the 'fretful porcupine'— cut and thrust, he became expert from practice as he was gifted for that species of warfare, by nature. All the old people, in merry mood, can tell of onslaught and overthrow of many a hapless wight who had the temerity to provoke a shaft from the quiver of old Mr. Stephen Gardiner.
"You began by speaking of Mr. Stephen Abbott. Did he marry before he returned from Connecticut, or did he take a Wyoming girl to wife—a daughter, as he was the son, of one of the Revolutionary patriots?
"You shall hear. He married a Searle. Having resettled on the patrimonial property, a fruitful soil, industry and economy brought independence in their train. Could you look upon the expelled orphan boy of 1778, pattering alone, his little footsteps beside his widowed mother and the other orphan children, as they were flying from the savage, and contrast his then seemingly hopeless lot with the picture now presented, you would say, 'It is well.'"
The Finches were one of the notable pioneer families in this valley. On February 1, 1887, was held an interesting family reunion to celebrate the ninetieth birthday of Mrs. Fanny Spencer, in the house where the dear old lady had passed sixty-nine years of her life. She was a daughter of Isaac Finch, and was born in Pittston township, February 1, 1797, and married Leonard Spencer in 1818. They had eight children, six living, and at the time of the family reunion her grandchildren, thirty-six, of whom twenty-six were living; great grandchildren, fifty-four, living forty-five.
[p.373] Isaac Finch was born in Plains township, February 25, 1763; married Sarah Tomkins, October 19, 1798; died March 10, 1848, aged eighty-five. They had ten children: Capt. Isaac Finch, born November 20, 1798, died April 14, 1860; Nathaniel, born February 3, 1792, died June 20, 1884; John G. Finch, born May 19, 1794, died January 16, 1886. There were many others of the Finch family, nearly every one living to great age.
The Wilcoxes, Isaac and Crandall, brothers, came to Wyoming soon after the year 1772. They escaped the Wyoming massacre and returned to their old home in Rhode Island. There Isaac married Nancy Newcomb, whose mother was a Gardner, when he returned to Wyoming and later to Dutchess county, N. Y., where he died in 1810. Crandall Wilcox returned to Wyoming in 1791. A sister married Daniel Rosenkrans and went to Ohio. In 1792 Amos Wilcox of Minisinke, conveyed to Isaac Wilcox, husbandman, and Crandall Wilcox, blacksmith, land in Wilkes-Barre township. Esen Wilcox occupied land in Pittston, in his father, Stephen's right. Esen was killed in the Wyoming battle. Elisha Wilcox sold to, Ebenezer Marcy, August 1, 1783, his land in Pittston. In 1778 Elisha was on his way down the river to warn the inhabitants of the enemy's approach and was captured, and his fate remains unknown. The name of Daniel Wilcox appears as a granter to the Indian purchase in 1754.
Wesley Johnson died at his home, in Wilkes-Barre, October 27, 1892. A word concerning his life is eminently proper here, as he was mainly instrumental in pushing to a successful completion the Wyoming Monument association, and the stone shaft reared above the heroes, as well as the great meeting dedicating the monument, and his careful history of the same in commemoration of those who died that we might live, and secretary of the association.
Mr. Johnson was born at old Laurel Run, now Parsons borough, December 20, 1819, and was consequently not yet seventy-three years of age. He was the son of Jehoida Pitt Johnson and a grandson of Rev. Jacob Johnson, the first settled minister in Wilkes-Barre, and who officiated over what is now the First Presbyterian church, from the time of his call from Connecticut, in 1772, to his death in 1797. Jacob was the son of Jacob of Wallingford, Conn. (1674-1749), the son of William of New Haven, the son of Thomas of New Haven, who emigrated from Kingston-on- Hull, England, and was drowned in 1640, in New Haven harbor. Jacob drew up the articles of capitulation between the British and Americans in the battle and massacre of Wyoming in 1778.
Wesley was one of a large family of brothers and sisters, of whom there now survive only two—William P. Johnson, of Dallas township, in this county, and Sarah, widow of Henry C. Wilson, of Ohio, now residing at Columbus. Of his brothers, Ovid F. Johnson was a distinguished lawyer and was attorney-general of Pennsylvania under Gov. Porter from 1839 to 1845. Of the other brothers, Miles died in California within a few years, Johoida died at the old homestead about twenty years ago, and Priestley R., a twin brother of Wesley, died 1878. Of the sisters, Diantha died in 1874 and Mary G. Reel in 1881.