History of Bedford and
Chapter 7 - Volume 2, pages 80 – 132
THE COX'S CREEK GLADES, OR SOMERSET SETTLEMENT – PERIOD OF THE REVOLUTIONARY WAR – ATTEMPT OF INDIANS TO CAPTURE JAMES WELLS – THE SETTLERS WHO FLED RETURN – TORIES COME INTO THE SETTLEMENT – NON-RESISTANTS IN THE SETTLEMENT – A MILL IS BUILT – TROUBLES ON THE FRONTIER CONTINUE – REMINISCENCES OF JOSEPH ANKENY – REMINISCENCES OF MRS. SUSAN FERNER – SLOUGHS AND DEER LICKS.
part of Somerset county in the
vicinity of what is now Somerset
was not settled quite as early as was the section that we now know as
It cannot be said to date any earlier than 1771. Indeed, it cannot well be said to date back any earlier that 1772, if we are to consider that the time of settlement should date from the time at which the first family came in. It may be put about in this way: The head of the first family that came in, himself was here in June, 1771, but he did not bring his family until in 1772.
It is true that there were a number of hunters and trappers scattered over these parts, most of whom had been here for several years. Some of them had been in these glades as long as three or four years, some perhaps even longer. Quite a number of these hunters eventually did bring out their families and so became permanent settlers. It is only by looking on their having established their hunting camps as an act of settlement that we can make the date of settlement here any earlier than the year 1771.
This region was at that time considered as being a part of the Stony Creek Glades and for a time it was so known. But presently it came to be known as the Cox’s Creek Glades, taking this name from the circumstance that an early hunter named Isaac Cox had established himself on the headwaters of the stream that still bears his name. The name Stony creek could not well be considered as being a very appropriate one for this locality. That name was quite a proper one for such of those glades as lay along that stream and its tributary waters. In a general way these may be said to flow to the north, while the streams in these parts flow to the south and are a part of the drainage system of the Castleman’s river.
speaking of the
reaching man’s estate he had emigrated to the
This state of antagonism and opposition to the abuse of the royal authority continued for several years, until at last the tension became so great that the dispute ended in bloodshed at what is known as the battle of Alamance, and with the outcome that the people were worsted and left at the mercy of the royal governor and his creatures.
is denied that Husband himself had advised armed resistance, but his part
in the movement had been so conspicuous that he was compelled to seek safety
in immediate flight. Escaping his pursuers by singular good fortune, making
his way through
was what promised to be a haven of refuge. Obtaining the best information
he could as to where Cox might be found, he at once set off in search of his
early friend. As a matter of precaution he changed his name, adopting the
rather strange sounding one of “Tuscape Death” –this in
remembrance of his wonderful escape from
has already been made, in our account of the
Bending his steps in that direction, on reaching the place he found that the trees had been deadened, the ground rudely dug up and planted with potatoes, and a few rods away was a small cabin roofed with bark and grass. Although he found himself at the door of a human habitation, no host appeared to give him welcome. Giving his horse his liberty, he awaited the return of the owner of the cabin. But night was coming on, and with it the muttering of a thunder storm. Possibly the owner of the cabin might have gone off to the settlements and might not return for days. So he decided to try and gain entrance to the cabin, and after some difficulty he succeeded in opening the door and in getting himself and his effects in just as the heavy rain came on. Though both the rain and night had now set in, the owner still failed to appear. From the surroundings our traveler felt quite certain that it could not be the cabin of his friend Cox. It the owner did not appear within a day or two he still might have trouble in finding Cox’s camp, and this might be a serious matter to him, as he was now out of provisions. But, glad to be sheltered from the storm, and though supperless, he composed himself for sleep. To quote from his journal:
"I passed the night very comfortably, and awoke about dawn. The rain had subsided, but the atmosphere was dense with fog and twilight lingered around my couch. I lay for some time watching the increase of day as the light forced its way through each crevice of the hut, until I could at length distinguish objects and the interior arrangements of my sleeping room. The first and most agreeable sight was a half-dozen venison hams that were suspended from the ridge pole of the roof. This at once removed my apprehensions of suffering for the want of food, even if the hunter did not soon return. In another place was a heavy rifle, hung on wooden hooks fastened to the sides of the cabin. In one corner stood a hoe and an axe, and above them hung a pair of steel traps. A bundle of skins rolled up in another place made up the principal amount of stock on hand at this time."
About the middle of the day the owner of the cabin returned and was greatly surprised to learn that he had a guest, but none the less he made him welcome. The name of this hunter was William Sparks, and his camp was located on what is now (1905) the farm owned by William Miller, hard by the borough of Somerset, on its northwest side, and which really is the old Husband farm. Here on this farm was the first soil in the Somerset Settlement broken for cultivation.
From Sparks the location of Isaac Cox’s camp was now learned. He found it to be about three miles northwest from Spark’s cabin, and on the farm that for many years was owned by the late John C. Barron. Sparks had spent the preceding night at Cox’s cabin, and informed Husband that Cox had that morning gone away, to be absent for a week. This, of course, made it necessary for him to remain the guest of Sparks for the time being. The week was spent in exploring the country under the guidance of Sparks and calling on several of the neighboring hunters. Sparks was amazed to learn that his guest had brought no gun with him. In utter astonishment he exclaimed: “You come out here into this wilderness and no gun. Why, you are a fool to travel, settle and live in the wilderness and have no gun. Why, man, you are crazy.”
to Husband’s account, during the week that he was awaiting Cox’s
return they visited the locality south of Somerset,
where Kantner’s woollen factory now is. At this place the beaver had built a strong
dam across the creek, which made a very large pond, very similar to the one
now existing here by reason of the dam that was built across the stream to
obtain power for the factory. This pond was studded with beaver huts, indicating
a large colony of these animals, which were numerous along all of these glade
streams. On the influx of settlers which presently followed this period,
the dams of the beaver were cut and destroyed, and the animals themselves
soon disappeared or became extinct. At the end of a week Sparks
and Husband visited Cox’s camp, and found that he had returned. When
Cox recognized Husband, he, too, was surprised, and asked: “What strange
whim is it that has brought you out here into the backwoods? You would never
take part in our hunting and sporting expeditions in the settlements. Now,
I suppose, you are going to turn regular hunter.” “No,”
replied Husband, “I have as little inclination for hunting as I ever
had.” Husband then explained the situation in
"I took up my abode for the present with Cox, but after looking around for some days, having made up my mind to remain at least until the next spring, that I might be better able to form a just and proper opinion of all the circumstances connected with the bringing out of a family into the wilderness and sustaining them during the winter time. I concluded to raise myself a cabin near that of my host. This was necessary, inasmuch as his accommodations and space were limited to his business and wants. I would need additional space to cure a sufficiency of meat for my own support and to preserve it after it was prepared. After I had my cabin finished, I concluded that it would be prudent to make some provision for sustaining my horse during the winter. He was now in fine condition from leisure and good pasture. I prepared a shed covered with bark, and then commenced mowing with my clasp knife, it being the only instrument that could be had for cutting the grass. By industry and perseverance I cut and bound up in sheaves a sufficient amount of hay to feed the horse during the severe part of the winter."
These preparations having been completed, the “Old Quaker,” as he was by this time known, turned his attention to the further exploration of the valleys. He drafted or mapped many of the streams and dividing ridges, one rather extensive one, showing the dividing ridges in Somerset county between the waters of the Youghiogheny, Potomac and Juniata rivers. While some of these early drafts and maps may still be in possession of some of his descendants who have moved west, it is not at all probable that any remain here in Somerset county, as all of these old papers that still remained here are supposed to have been lost in the burning of the house of his last male descendant, who still lived here some years ago. Truly a great loss of valuable historical material.
In speaking of his observations on the valley, the Quaker says:
"This valley is what properly may be termed rolling in its general features, divided into hills, bottoms and glades; generally densely timbered and with little underbrush, the bottoms open, and sodded with a short, fine grass.
As to the glades: Nothing could exceed in beauty and luxuriance these plains when vegetation was at its full growth. In many places for acres, grass was as high as a man, of bluish color, with a feathery head of blueish purple. But after the permanent settlement it was found that this original grass disappeared under pasturage, and was supplanted by the broad-bladed sour grass except in places that were never reached by stock.
The screams usually rise in the hills and worm their way through the glades, then break between high banks through the dark forest. The native fruits began to ripen in July. Service berries abounded to a fabulous extent. Choke cherries, wild cherries, plums and haws were found in the bottom ripening to perfection in their proper season. On the upland and the mountains were found in equal profusions, blackberries, raspberries, whortleberries and similar fruits. The hunting season began in October, and the beaver trapping in December, continuing until April. After this time their fur becomes loose and worthless. Deer and bear were hunted for their skins. Panthers were destroyed by the hunters whenever encountered. Wolves were seldom killed, and were very numerous, and always followed in the wake of the hunters to devour the offal and carcasses that they left, making the night hideous with their howls and prowling around the very doors of the camps."
Such is the description of this region as its features impressed themselves on the mind of one who had come here before its soil had been broken for cultivation, and who, so far as we now know, was the only person who committed to writing his first impressions of the country and left them to those who have come after him.
This community of hunters, as we must call it, for want of a better term, among them Husband’s lot was thus cast, numbered perhaps a dozen persons. Of some of them the full names have come down to us. Of others only the surnames. Among them, in addition to Cox and Sparks, were David Wright, (A.) Wright, (S.) Wright (three brothers), Aquilla White, John Penrod, Sr., John Penrod, Jr., John Vansel, ___Wilson, ___Wills, Peter Bucher, ___Pursley and Rhoades (probably John). The locations of the camps of some of these hunters are still known, others are unknown. Once that actual settlers began to come in, the business of hunting as an occupation was in a measure destroyed. Some of these men then brought their families, and so became permanent settlers. Others went further into the wilderness, seeking out new hunting grounds, and among the very first to leave was Isaac Cox. John Penrod, Sr., and John Vansel, who was his son-in-law, had their camp about three or three and a half miles northeast of Somerset. This is the same place that John Schrock lived on in 1870. A later owner was Valentine Blough. It is said of this place that it was not a very favorable location for a hunter’s camp. Two of the Wright brothers, as nearly as can now be told, must have had their camps to the southwest of Somerset, and possibly as far away as Milford township, while David Wright, the third brother, was located to the north of Somerset, and on the lead waters of the Quemahoning. The Rhoades camp cannot certainly be located. All of these men remained here for at least several years, and may be considered as having become permanent settlers.
Peter Bucher’s camp was on what in later years has been known as the John H. Morrison farm, in Jefferson township. He is said at one period of his life to have been a man of a somewhat cruel disposition, killing deer out of season from mere wantonness, seeking out the laying-in places of the does, killing them and leaving the young fawns to starve. In later years he is said to have omit these practices. We believe that to him also belongs the distinction of having shot the last elk known to have been killed in Somerset county. As we will not have occasion to refer to him again, we will here relate the circumstances:
Bucher had made it a matter of pride to kill at least one of these animals every year, but in time these animals became very scarce. Finally there came a time-the particular year is not known-when he could no longer find such an animal in these parts. Still wishing to keep up his record as a hunter of these animals, he went across the Negro mountain into what is now Elk Lick township, with the full purpose of killing an elk if there was one to be found anywhere in that region. There was snow on the ground at the time, and after several days’ searching he at last came on the track of one somewhere on the side o the Allegheny mountain. Following up, he ran the elk across the river and up the Negro mountain. Coming down the west side, it crossed the river again and took up the Middlecreek valley. Crossing the Laurel Hill creek, it went up the mountain in a northwest direction. The elk was becoming exhausted by the hot pursuit. Bucher, knowing a pass by which he felt certain the animal would cross the mountain, made a circuit and reached the summit ahead of it. Presently the elk appeared, straining himself to the utmost to double the mountain. Not expecting his enemy to be in his front, he every few rods threw up his ponderous head and looked back. Suddenly came the crack of the hunter’s rifle. The bullet sped true to its mark, and the animal floundered and fell dead before him. Disemboweling his game, Bucher started for his camp, which was about six miles away. Next morning he returned with a horse to bring in the meat. As he approached the place he found a large panther busily engaged in making a meal out of his prize. Bucher only thought of driving him away, but the panther stuck to the carcass and soon showed that a fight was inevitable unless he was permitted to finish his meal in peace. Peter had been in too many such contests to be defied in this way, and without further parley gave him the contents of his rifle, seriously wounding him. Disabled as he was, the panther still showed fight and made at Bucher, who began to realize that he was in some danger. Not being able to reload his gun, he drew his tomahawk, and baffling him with his gun, he fell back. The panther, he saw, was so badly hurt that he could not leap upon him. Though its wound was bleeding profusely, it still followed him with all the signs of rage and fury. Bucher retreating with gun in one hand and ready to strike with the other. They were nearing some large rocks with deep fissures, and directing his movements so as to the draw the panther to the edge of one of these fissures, he made a sudden rush and pushed him over the precipice. He then reloaded his gun and dispatched his antagonist. From this adventure these rocks have been named the Panther Rocks. They are near the boundary line between Somerset and Fayette counties. This elk is supposed to have been the last one killed in the county.
Husband, knowing that if he went into what was then a wilderness, in which there would be no settlers and none save hunters, and that he would have to depend for a time on these hunters for most of his subsistence, had brought with him as much powder, lead, tobacco, and possible a few other articles, as he could conveniently pack on his single horse, so that he might have something to offer in exchange for such provisions as he might need. Most of these hunters at this time looked to the chase as being the beginning and end of their prospects. When they saw this man who had come among them without a weapon of defense of any kind, who spent his time in exploring the country and making drafts of its streams, it seemed to them that, to say the least, he was somewhat singular in at this. Cox and Sparks never explained to them the real situation as regarded their friend, but they rather encouraged the idea that there was something mysterious about him.
After it became generally known among these hunters that “The Quaker” talked of bringing his family out into the wilderness and settling down, it became a subject of jest and merriment among them, and he was frequently asked to buy their claims, and jestingly they would offer to take a few pounds of powder, lead or tobacco for them.
As a matter of fact, these men did have what may be looked on as a legal title to a quantity of land on which their camps were located, not exceeding four or five hundred acres, and by virtue of such improvement they were entitled to a warrant of survey from the land office. But few of them placed any particular value on it at that time. When “The Quaker” finally did buy one of these so-called improvements, it was largely looked on as a piece of fun, an idea that Cox encouraged, and he had offers from others also for the sale of their “improvements,” as they now began to call them. They seemed to think that if “The Quaker” was disposed to part with his stock of powder and lead for these titles, such as they were, they might as well come in for a share as not. Just then land was a matter of little consequence to them. There was plenty of it, and if a better situation for their own particular purpose was discovered, they were at all times ready to abandon the present one, and they so estimated it as to others. They thought that the smallest amount that they obtained for their rights was just so much clear gain. But in the end ”The Quaker” profited largely from the low estimate at which they held their lands, along with their doubts of his sanity.
In the month of August “The Quaker” proposed to Sparks a trip to Bedford, where he wished to obtain some information in reference to the purchase and location of lands, the claims of the proprietaries, and the general laws and regulations of the province. Sparks readily fell in with this proposition, and a few days thereafter, the Quaker, who was still Mr. Tuscape Death, taking his horse, and the hunter his rifle and equipment, they set forth on their journey. While the Forbes road was at that time already a well traveled road, roads were a matter of little account with these two travelers. Passing through the Great Glades on the headwaters of the Stony creek, the real Stony Creek Glades, they crossed the Allegheny mountain and struck the headwaters of the Raystown branch of the Juniata river, passing what for many years after was known as Harmon’s Bottom, now New Baltimore.
Arriving at Bedford, they first learned of the forming of a new county, and that the region from which they came was embraced within the limits of the new county. After a three days’ sojourn at the new county seat, the business that brought them there having been transacted and some pleasant acquaintance having been formed, our backwoodsmen set forth on their return home, “Tom,” the old horse, carrying a sack of salt and another of meal. To most of the hunters the news of the forming of the new county, and the general impression that settlers would during the coming spring push their way into the Glades, was anything but welcome, and none were more disturbed over it that was Isaac Cox. He said that with the coming in of settlers the beaver would at once decamp, and that part of their business be ruined. Soon after, he announced that would sell out his favorite location, and plunge deeper into the wilderness. Sparks and Vansel met one day at his and the Quaker’s cabin, and Cox bantered them to buy his claim. He said he did not want to be crowded, and that the idea of having courts, with their appendage of lawyers, squires, constables and tax collectors, within thirty miles of him was intolerable. He expected that if Billy and the Quaker made a few more trips to Bedford they would be bringing a court house with them to this side of the Allegheny mountain. In time the court house did come.
While this offer to Cox to sell was made more in jest than anything else, it soon became earnest, and it ended in Vansel buying Cox’s claim. In a few days Cox took his departure for wilds further west, and the only memory of him is the tradition of him preserved in the Husband family, and the stream that bears his name is his only monument.
John Vansel, who by what may be considered as the second transaction in real estate in this parts, Husband’s purchase of Sparks’ claim being the first, and thus had become proprietor of Cox’s camp and hunting ground, had only been here one season, so far does not seem to have had a camp of his own, apparently staying at the camp of James Penrod, Sr., who was his father-in-law, and had been here for several seasons. Their families had been left in Cumberland county. In their hunting operations they were partners. Their location was rather a poor one for hunting and trapping. Having acquired Cox’s rights, they at once moved over and took possession, although Penrod occasionally lodged a night in his first cabin, so as to hold the improvement right. Through this transaction the Quaker, of course, changed landlords, but this change made little or no difference to him, as Vansel readily allowed him all the privileges that he had enjoyed under Cox. It was true that he might have moved over to Sparks claim, which he had bought, but this just then did not suit.
presently became known that a number of persons had been in the Stony Creek
Glades proper, and had brought claims. Others had marked out tomahawk claims
by barking the sides of trees, and also that several hunters in these Glades
had brought out their families. Some families had also cone into the
The improvement right or claim was considered legal, and
was looked on as being just and respectable. A tomahawk claim, unless followed
by speedy settlement, was usually looked on and treated with contempt. When
it really was made for actual settlement and encroached on by any one, it
was no uncommon thing for the intruder to be well thrashed by the claimant
or by some of his friends, courts and juries being seldom if ever troubled
on account of such matters. At the time of his visit to Bedford,
the Quaker had made arrangements to communicate with his friends in eastern
He learned that his enemy, Tryon, the royal governor of North Carolina, had been displaced and transferred to New York, and that no steps had been taken toward confiscating his estates there, a policy of conciliation now being carried out. Under these circumstances he probably might have returned there without molestation. But by this time he seems to have determined to remain where he then was; that is in the region where he had found a haven of refuge. Possibly he may also have foreseen that the present peaceful situation there was only the calm preceding the great struggle that only a few years later was to follow, and in which the principles still rooted in his mind, as the result of his early training, would not allow him to take the same active part that others might, and therefore he wished to remain far away from the impending conflict. He did not remain Vansel’s tenant for any great length of time, but in turn he became Vansel’s landlord. For, in the month of September (1771), he bought the Cox camp from Vansel, this sale on the part of Vansel for the time not interfering with his and Penrod’s occupation of it as a hunting camp. This was his second land purchase here, and also the third known real estate transaction within the limits of this inchoate settlement. For this reason, as well as that it was in Husband’s own handwriting, we here give the deed or bill of sale in full. The paper was still in existence within the last thirty years, and it may yet be:
Know all men by these presents that I John Vansel of the township of Brothers valley in the County of Bedford & Province of Pennsylvania, for and in the Consideration of Twenty pounds Current Money of pensylania have bargained & sold, assigned and set over and do by these presents Bargain and sell, assign & set over all my Improvements Rights and Claim unto a Certain Tract of Land Situated and lying & being in the aforesd Brothers Valley, adjoining the of Michael Hoeff unto Tus Cape to have and to hold the said Tract of Land (which s’ Land is commonly known by the name of Coxes Camp) Improvements, Right & Claim unto the s’d Land called Coxes Camp to him the s’d Tuscape Death, his heirs and assigns forever (The Purchase Money due to the honourable Proprietary together with all other proprietary rights and dues & charges according to law excepted, and in confirmation of these presents John Vansell hath hereunto set his hand seal this Present Seventeeth day of September in the year of our Lord One thousand Seven hundred and Seventy one 1771
JOHN VANSELL (Seal)
Sealed and delivered to the Presence of us
Bedford county Ss
On the Eighteenth day of September in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and seventy one came Before me one of his majesti’s Justices of the Peace for said County John Vansel and acknowledged the within Bill of Sale to be his act and Deed and Desirt the same to be recorded as such, witness my Hand and Seal the Day and year above written
This deed was made to Tuscape Death, as Husband still did not deem it entirely prudent to assume his own proper name in his real estate transactions. This camp or claim in our own time has been known as the John C. Barron farm, to the west of Somerset. It is not known for what sum Cox sold his rights to Vansel, but on the resale Husband, as the deed shows, paid Vansell twenty pounds in Pennsylvania currency, equivalent to about fifty-three dollars in the United States money of a later period-this in addition to all charges that might be due to the land office. The reference to the claim of Michael Hoeff would indicate that at least some parties had in some manner located claims in this vicinity. It also affords an indication of what value was then placed on lands here from another than the hunter’s view. It may also be looked on as the estimate of value placed on what was really a desirable hunter’s location by the hunter himself.
Previous to this time, Sparks had sold to the Quaker his rights to the camp where he had first found him, although he still occupied the cabin. But as there was now every prospect of settlers coming in during the next year, and knowing that this would be detrimental to hunting as an occupation, he decided that he had better locate another camp before settle5rs would come and while he still had first choice of almost anything that he might wish to have. He therefore went across the Glade and put up a cabin on what afterwards was long known as the old Marteeny farm, and which still later was owned by Henry Long, and in full view of what is now Somerset. The time of the hunter’s harvest was now approaching, and here we may once draw on the Quaker’s journal, for it describes a condition of things the passing away of which forever would soon begin.
"To the lover of the chase and the excitement of the hunting season nothing could surpass the sight that were now of daily occurrence.
Herds of any moderate number of deer as fat as stall fed bullocks, with sleek and shining coats, horns of any dimension, from the spiked buck of a single year to the wide forked antler spreading two and three feet on larger and older bucks. The deer were now feeding on chestnuts and acorns, but at times came into the glades for an occasional nip of grass.
Frosts began about middle of September, and the nuts began to fall, the hazel usually in clusters along the edge of the glades. The oaks began to drop their fruit. The chestnut poured his tribute in boundless protusion, and last in the season, the hickory showered down his nuts among the promiscuous mass, until the earth at many places was literally covered. The northern slopes of the hills were covered with the wild pea. The vine makes the richest pasturage. The fruit, about the size of the field pea, grows on the root, and in the after settlement it was found to be the most nourishing food for hogs and after hogs became numerous, acres upon acres were ploughed up by them in the winter and spring in search of the pea.
The hunting season being opened, from this time I was left alone, not taking part in the chase, but brought in a portion of the best meat and cut and prepare it for preservation and future use. This was done by cutting the flesh in strips from the bone, partially drying it before a moderate fire until the surface was hardened, then rubbing it with a little salt and ashes, and then hung in smoke for some time, and finally hung up in the cabins. The skins were dried and packed away and were the wealth of the hunter. The fall season was fine and pleasant. The slaughter of the deer was immense, and the wolves feasted to satiety. In return they treated us all to a howling serenade almost nightly, with interludes from the wail of the stealthy panther."
The winter of 1771-72 proved to be a very mild one for the altitude, and confirmed the Quaker in the good opinion he had formed of the country. He..therefore began to make preparations for the bringing in and support of his family. As soon as the weather opened in the spring he began to enlarge Sparks’ potato patch, clearing and fencing an acre and a half of ground. With a primitive plow and harness, along with the assistance of “Old
Tom,’ his horse, he prepared the ground for potatoes. Sparks had quite a good crop from his small patch the preceding year, and this was plenty for seed. He also cut and prepared logs to enlarge the cabin.
As winter passed away, and with it the hunting season, Sparks one day announced to his friends that he had reached the conclusion to take unto himself a wife, and settling down on his new claim, adding, “It is just as Cox said, as soon as settlers come the beaver will leave, and I don’t care to follow them any further.” To the Quaker’s congratulations and advice to seek out a partner and bring her out by the time he brought out his own family, he said that she was already sought out; all he needed to do was to go down to the Juniata, marry her and bring her up. Some time in the month of March Sparks borrowed “Old Tom,” and loading him with his stock of beaver and deer skins, started to make his annual visit to the settlements. Vansel and Penrod would seem to have gone with him. Indeed, at this time of the year it was the custom of all of these to make this annual visit, carrying with them as much of their stock of furs and skins as they well could, the remainder of their stock being traded to packers who cane in later and carried them away. The single men usually returned in a month or six weeks, but those having families would remain away a longer time.
This left the Quaker alone in the wilderness. Before his three neighbors left, he had moved over and taken possession of the Sparks camp, and had set himself to the labor of preparing to put out a crop. Nearly all of these hunters had an extra gun, and before Sparks, the two Penrods and Vansel took their departure, they brought to the Quaker’s cabin four guns to be cared for by him in their absence, and incidentally to defend himself with if the occasion should arise. In a jocular way they told him that they hardly expected him to get into any quarrel with his neighbors, but that if any Indians came prowling around they might undertake to interfere with his operations on his cabin. They plainly warned him that in such a contingency he could not expect to play the role of a noncombatant, and they also cautioned him to keep at all times within reach of his cabin, where, with four loaded guns, he should be more than a match for any half-dozen redskins. “Now act soldier until we come back, and then if you please you may be a Quaker again.” The journal from which we have so often quoted reveals the perturbed state of the Quaker’s mind over the advice given him by his friends, and the possible conflict that might arise between the principles of nonresistance that he had all of his life and that instinct of self-preservation that must exist in the mind of every man. He says:
"After my friends, and, I may say, my protectors, had left me, a spirit of loneliness settled upon me for some days. Never before since I had taken up by abode with these hunters had any feeling of danger impressed my mind. Under their faithful guardianship I had lived in conscious security, without even the apprehension of a lurking foe, or the idea of an effort in case of extremity for the preservation of my own life. Now, all of a sudden, all this was changed. The stealthy Indian, who had scarcely entered my mind before, now in imagination, at least, lurked around my solitary abode like the stealthy panther waiting to spring upon its victim. Yet fear formed no part of these apprehensions. * * * I, always, a non-combatant of the Quaker school, in the midst of a howling wilderness, not a fellow-being within ten miles of me that I knew of, a stranger to the use of arms left in my care and for my defense, liable at any moment to be attacked by the primitive claimants of the domain n which I was a trespasser. * * * Then again the thought of shedding the blood of a fellow creature would rise up in all its horrible features."
But after a few days these feelings passed away, and he settled down with the same feeling of security as when the hunters were around him, but adhering to the advice of his friends, and keeping within reach of the camp. He admits, however, that he did try what he might do with a gun by occasionally shooting at a deer, and that he was always successful in bringing it down; and it is quite probable that if any Indians had turned up, with any chance at all it would not have been an entirely one-sided game.
He worked steadily on his clearing, chopping and making rails and heaping the brush, the burning of which was deferred until after the return of the hunters, as, if there were any Indians about, they might descry the smoke for a great distance.
Day after day the clearing was enlarged until it had reached an area of four acres. Week after week had passed, and the time for the return of the hunters was now up, with no change or incident worthy of note. Be it remembered that the time was in the spring of the year 1772, that this was the first real work ever done in the beginning of this settlement, and in the way of preparing the soil for cultivation, and these the circumstances under which it was done.
The locality was on what we now know as the William Miller farm, hard by the northwest side of the town of Somerset. Indeed, there is not a little reason for believing that a part of its original survey is within the town.
the third or fourth day after the time set for the return of the hunters the
Quaker observed and soon recognized his friend Sparks
and “Old Tom,” with another horse that he had bought. In addition
to the general news, Sparks also
brought from Bedford a package
of papers, among which were letters from his wife and friends in
Sparks, as he had said he would, had become a married man while on his trip, and was now equally interested in making the necessary arrangements for bringing out his wife in the fall. He had also brought with him a share for a plow, and some things needed for getting up a team. He and the Quaker concluded to work together so far as it would be profitable to do so. Accordingly, the potato patch was doubled in area and they planted all the seed potatoes that they could procure. In the work of enlarging their cabins they also found it to their advantage to assist each other. In addition to the mare that he had brought with him, Sparks had also brought a lot of cattle from a man named Stoner, who lived on the Juniata river, which he intended bringing across the mountain as soon as the grass was fairly started. This man was to have the cattle at Bedford by the tenth of May, at which time Sparks was to meet him and receive them.
the return of the hunters, the clearing was burned off, and by the tenth of
May they finished the planting of their potatoes, and the cattle were met
in Bedford as had been agreed
on. This also afforded an opportunity for answering the letters from
After the cattle had been brought in, at the proper time grass was cut and cured for their support over the winter. Thus to the old Husband farm (now Miller) must be awarded the distinction of having been the first in this settlement to have its soil brought under cultivation, while the “old Marteeny” (later Long) farm is the one to have been first stocked with cattle. Both places are in full sight of each other, and the latter, though farthest away, is in full view of Somerset. As the summer days passed by the potatoes were cultivated, and preparations were made to put in a crop of fall or winter grain. In the meanwhile they were also receiving calls and visits from people who were exploring the country and selecting desirable places for locating claims. A number of families had come into the Stony Creek Glades proper, and that section was now assuming more of the appearance of a settlement.
and Vansel, who had returned later than did Sparks,
also caught the spirit of the times and began to make preparations for bringing
out their families, and the same may be said of others of the hunters. Matters
here in the wilderness bore a new aspect. In previous years the summers had
largely been whiled away in idleness, but now most of the hunters were making
more or less preparation toward locating themselves permanently on their various
camps, or such other places as perhaps pleased them better. This, of course,
meant some change in their manner of living, for most of them readily perceived
that a man would soon no longer be able to gain a livelihood depending solely
on the chase. It was, therefore, a self-evident fact that the succeeding spring
would witness the coming in of a dozen or more families. After the hay had
been secured the Quaker made of trip into the
was now a packers’ trail across the mountains that passed near Hancock,
And so their march toward the wilderness was taken up. John and Harmon, his two older sons, were then stout sons, and each carried a gun, for they had not taken up their father’s peculiar opinions on the matter of carrying weapons of defense. A journey of nearly two weeks brought them to their destination without sickness or accident of any kind. Their new home was reached a little before sunset and they were heartily welcomed by Sparks in his cheerful manner, which went far toward raising the spirits of the tired travelers. Mrs. Husband in after life often referred to the feeling of depression which had come over her as she approached this lonely home in the wilderness, and how the pleasant voice and encouraging words of the hunter had dispelled her misgivings and given omen of brighter days in the future, and that, later on, as the alarms of danger and the privations, with the sense of isolation, often weighed down her spirits, she would recall that gloomy hour when the spell was broken by the cheerful voice of this fellow pioneer. Sparks went out into the glade and soon returned with a fine deer which he had shot, and which was dressed and prepared for supper. It was the fatted calf killed for a hearty welcome. Though appreciated by the appetite, yet none was inclined to merrymaking.
The next morning after their arrival this pioneer woman, the first of her sex to come here, took stock of the means of subsistence and looked over the arrangements made by the head of the family for their comfort and protection during the coming winter, all of which appeared limited enough when contrasted with the size of the family. But Sparks assured her that this was ample with the meat that could be gathered after the hunters, that only the wolves would lose by reason of their having come here. The wheat and rye that had been sown had started fairly, giving promises of better things for the future. After a few days she was able to take a more cheerful view of the situation. The boys were delighted over the prospect for sport. Deer frequently passed the cabin, or might be seen in the glade at almost any time, and these sights assured them that here was little to be feared from famine and want. The neighboring hunters, too, dropped in to see and welcome the family and gave them assurance that there was but little danger to be feared from the Indians, that some of them had been here as long as four years and had not been molested; in fact they had never even seen a red man.
After a week “Old Tom,” the horse, was again detailed for duty, and Sparks started to bring in his wife, returning in two weeks, and also bringing with him a sack of flour for his friends. Like Mrs. Husband, Mrs. Sparks was greatly depressed by the wildness of the country which was to be her new home, and the former now had an opportunity of returning the kindness of her neighbor in sympathy and encouragement, along with the hearty welcome which she now greeted his wife. The hunting season had now set in and the boys were enamored of the chase. Under the training of Sparks they soon became expert marksmen, and savory viands daily graced the table as witnesses of their skill. The excitement offered by the chase soon banished all signs of loneliness from their home. Later in the fall another trip was made eastward to bring in a supply of salt and another sack of flour. Shortly after the return from this trip winter set in with a heavy fall of snow, and all outdoor work save that of hunting and trapping was suspended.
The wolves, however, felt the effect of the increased number of consumers, and during the severe weather that prevailed for some weeks became so bold as to threaten the horses and cattle. In order to divert them from the stock, at times carcasses of deer that had been killed were brought in and placed at some distance away from the cattle. Sometimes they were suspended from branches of trees, just high enough to be beyond their reach, and which would serve to cause them to spend the night in a vain effort to reach them. But later it became necessary to build an enclosure near the cabins, into which the stock could be placed for protection during the night.
Such is the history of the beginning of what would now be called Somerset settlement, as it has come down to us through one of the few families that has to any extent preserved its traditions.
It is to be noted that these two families were the first and only ones to be here at the close of the year 1772, and that to Mrs. Emy Husband and the wife of William Sparks belongs the distinction of having been the pioneer women of the settlement which must now be considered as having had its beginning.
The second winter, that of 1772-73, spent here by Harmon Husband proved to be of greater severity than the preceding one. Snow fell before Christmas, and in all it attained a depth of about two feet and did not disappear until about the middle of March. The wheat and rye at that time looked quite promising, and the deer appeared to be quite willing to pasture it, and they had to be frightened off by putting up strange sights. In other words, the grain field had to be protected against them in the manner that the farmer of today protects his corn field by putting up scarecrows.
When the spring of 1773 fairly opened, settlers began to come in and commenced the clearing of land, but just who were the very first of these newcomers cannot now be told. John Penrod, Sr., and John Vansel both brought out their families, as probably also did the younger John Penrod. Others of the hunters did the same. Some of the single among them, while on their annual trip to the eastern settlements, had married and brought out their young wives and began the making of farms. Among those who now came in as settlers and not primarily as hunters were Ulrich (or Woolerick) Bruner, Henry Bruner and George Bruner, who are presumed to have been brothers; Richard Brown, Richard Wells and several sons; Michael Huff and John Ferguson. Daniel Lout may also belong to this period. These are the names of which particular mention in made. Still others continued to come in during the summer. In all, before the close of the year there must have been at twenty permanent settlers. Of these whose locations are still known, Colonel Richard Brown fist improved what in later times has been known as the Samuel Will farm.
As to the Bruners, the authority from which we have drawn so much of our information says that W. Bruner settled to the north of Somerset, and H. Bruner’s house was where the Charles A. Kimmel house now is (on the square, north of the courthouse, in Somerset town). Only the initials are given, and we are inclined to think it is a slip of the pen and that their places are reversed. Woolerick Bruner certainly owned the land on which the town of Somerset was afterward platted. In fact, he first platted the town of Milford, on the same site. If Henry Bruner really first improved it, then there must have been a deal of some kind between the two men, the record of which cannot now be traced. It may also be added that each of these men owned several tracts of land, which adds to the difficulty of tracing their exact locality. It is a name that is still known in Somerset county. Michael Huff’s place of settlement must have been on the northwest of Somerset. There is some reason for supposing that it joined Cox’s camp. George Bruner had his land west of Somerset.
Husband speaks in a general way of the Wells having come in at this time also. The head of this family was Richard Well, Sr. He had been twice married and was the father of twenty-four children---twelve in each family. It is not supposed that all of them were ever in these parts, but Richard, Jr., Thomas, James and John Wells certainly were here, and the latter remained here to the end of his life. His place we cannot definitely locate. We can only connect his name with two of the early surveys-one, somewhere on the upper waters of the Quemahoning in the direction of Forbes road. There is another survey to Philip Kimble (or Kimmell), in sight of Richard Wells, and that would seem to have been in the Stony Creek Glades proper, or at least in that direction; on which place he lived we cannot say. This Wells family was closely connected with that of Colonel Richard Brown and was of some prominence in our early history. This Richard Wells himself left these parts prior to the breaking out of the Revolutionary war, going toward the Panhandle of West Virginia. It is related in their family traditions that in the party were seven sons capable of bearing arms, and that somewhere near the Ohio river a party of Indians succeeded in running off their horses. They were followed, and in the fight that ensued two Indians and one horse was killed and seven of the horses recaptured.
From this time on (1773) the settlement began to be called the Cox’s Creek Glades, in order to distinguish it from the Stony Creek Glades proper, which may be said to have been an entirely different settlement, with its own separate history, of which, we regret to say, only very meager accounts have come down to us. But, while this settlement began to be so known among the people here, in the eastern settlements the entire region was for a long while generally known as the Stony Creek Glades.
With the coming of the settlers the country in some of its features began to wear a different face. The many dams which the industrious beaver had built across the streams had flooded their adjacent bottoms more or less, creating not a few miniature lakes or ponds, and these were the cause of much inconvenience. It was not long until most of these dams were cut and the streams restricted to their natural channels. But the beaver, thus disturbed, rapidly disappeared from this part of the country.
Another change was in the sounds that now fell upon the ear. A year ago these were few save those of nature. Now they are the resounding blows made by the axe that is being swung by the sturdy arm of the woodman as he lays low the monarchs of the forest, whose resounding crash is heard in every direction. There are also changes in many other ways. As acre after acre of the wooded hills is opened to light and warmth of the sun, there is visible change in the landscape.
Most of the settlers who were first comers, so far as they could do so, located their improvements on the edge of a glade, that they might have pasturage and hay for their cattle. This disturbed the deer and they soon became wild. It drove them under the cover of the woods and wrought an entire change in their habits and instincts. From the woods they would come during the night and feed in these natural meadows, and later on in the grain field of the settlers. With the return of the morning they sought their places of refuge in the forest.
It would be assumed that the first comers here would naturally select for themselves the choicest of these virgin lands, but such was not always the case. There were some strange selections, as witness that of Jacob Kreitzer, who located it improvement on the ridge a couple of miles south of Somerset, building on a flat rock, while all around are rocks, barrenness and sterility. Yet when he settled here there were still thousands of acres of good land all about him, unoccupied and unclaimed. One might think that he was a hunter and chose this place as a natural resort for game after the better part of the country was settled, but other settlers have said that he was no hunter and had settled here for some years with the design of making a farm. After laboring here for some years he abandoned the place and moved west. Far and wide the place is still known as Kreitzer’s Cabin, but to this day no other man has ever fancied the spot or located on the tract again.
The summer of 1773 was marked by the exertions on the part of the settlers for the succeeding winter. All of the potatoes that could be procured were planted. Beans, pumpkins, radishes and turnips were cultivated. Cabbage did not thrive in new ground; beets and cucumbers did better. Cabin after cabin, after the logs had been cut and assembled, was raised by gathering the neighbors together, each bringing his rations and such tools as he possessed. In those days the appetite was not tempted on such occasions by tarts, pies and sweetmeats. Cheerfulness and lard labor were the condiments that seasoned and gave relish to their plain food. The principal part of the food needed for the sustenance of the families of the settlers had to be procured from the chase for nearly all of a year. This caused the deer to decrease in numbers very rapidly. To supply their places the settlers speedily saw the need for bringing in cattle, sheep and hogs as fast as possible, and for these the situation was highly favorable. The Glades furnished grass almost without limit, both for pasturage and for cutting and curing into hay for the wintering of the stock. The mast of the forest, with the wild fruits and the wild pea of the bottoms, furnished ample food for the hogs. On these last bears and wolves were at all times ready to commit depredations, but it was soon found that the larger the herd and the older the hogs the more able they were to take care of themselves. This led to the slaughtering of young hogs only, and the preserving of the older ones. A herd thus trained under natural instinct and courage of the animal, often encountered, drove off and even destroyed both bears and wolves. Several remarkable instances of this kind that were seen by eyewitnesses have been preserved and handed down to us.
In the fall of 1773, all things being considered, there was a considerable acreage sown in wheat and rye. The yield of the few acres sown by the Quaker and Sparks during the preceding year had been very satisfactory, and all of it that they could spare was eagerly sought for seed. Some seed was also brought in from the valley and from the vicinity of Bedford.
There had been no alarms on account of the Indians, and this served to induce other settlers to come in during the following years. It may here be said of those who had first come here as hunters that so long as they only were here they gave themselves little or no concern as to any possibility of Indian forays, but so soon as women and children were brought here a change came over these same men, and they were ever on the alert for the possibility of such a thing happening.
The fall of 1773 was a favorable one, and no snow came until late in the year, with a winter that was more variable than the preceding one. Wolves and panthers had now become very troublesome. The game killed in the chase was mostly take up by the settlers, leaving but little for the wolves and like animals. A hunter who had killed a deer that he could not bring home at once could only expect to save it by bending down a sapling and fastening the carcass near, then allowing it to spring back so as to leave the carcass suspended some six or eight feet above the ground. Even then these ravenous animals, by repeated leaps, would often succeed in reaching and devouring it.
this winter, on account of the death of one of the parents of Mrs. Sparks,
family members were left in such shape that Mr. Sparks and his wife thought
it was best for them to return to the Juniata country.
This decision being reached, Sparks
thereupon offered his new improvement for sale, together with all of his stock.
This, according to the memoranda of agreement for their sale, which was still
in existence up to a recent period, consisted of seventeen head of cattle
and two colts. Certainly this was a well stocked place, when it is considered
that it had only been improved two years. Husband again became the purchaser
of this second Sparks improvement
for the consideration of one hundred and fourteen pounds, probably
the arrival of his family there was no longer any mystery about the name of
the Quaker. He was now known by his proper name of Harmon Husband. But as
the country was still a part of the domain of the crown of
When the land office was opened in April, 1769, for the survey and sale of lands in the purchase of 1768, it gave appointment to many surveyors. These were appointed as deputy surveyors and appear to have been assigned to districts. This region fell within the district of Colonel Alexander McLean. He was one of the seven brothers, all of whom were surveyors. Being then an unmarried man, he may have changed his residence from place to place as suited his employment. He must, at least for a time, have resided either in this settlement or in that of the Stony Creek Glades. In 1775 he married Sarah Holmes, who was the stepdaughter of Colonel Richard Brown, who then lived about two miles northeast of Somerset. McLean, however, does not seem to have continued to reside in these parts for any very great length of time, for in the spring of 1776, he settled near where Uniontown, in Fayette county, now is. But his work as a surveyor continued here for many years. Up to the outbreak of the Revolutionary war fully two hundred and fifty surveys are found drafted in the survey book, and these represent only a small part of the lands settled on, for many of the settlers were poor and could not at the time pay the necessary fees and expenses to have their lands surveyed. They simply held them under improvement rights, their being on them and in possession being usually looked on as a sufficient title to keep others off.
wheat and rye sown in the fall of 1773 and harvested in the summer of 1774
yielded a fair crop, and the reputation of this part of the country as a grain
producing section, of which up to this time there had been some doubt on account
of its elevated situation, was now fully established. Although no one settler
had more than a few acres seeded, still in the aggregate it made a considerable
amount of grain. The want of a mill was now severely felt. As it was, the
grain had to be packed on horses to the nearest mills, which were those near
Bedford, and Cumberland,
In the fall of 1774 there seems to have been some apprehension felt on account of the Indians. Just what this feeling of alarm was based on does not appear. But so great was this feeling of unrest that it is said that but few of the settlers thought of going to the mill unless it was in parties of eight or ten and presumably well armed. As they went in such numbers for mutual protection, that they might return home in the same manner they were under necessity of remaining until the last of their grists were ground. All of this was a great drawback on the settlement, which led to a great deal of talk about building a mill at home. In some way Husband learned that somewhere near Cumberland there was a tub mill that, being superseded by a better mill, had been abandoned. He proposed going to the place and try to purchase the millstones and irons and bring them across the mountain, if the neighbors would join together with their labor and help to put up the necessary building. This proposition meeting with favor, he did go and buy them, and they were also brought across the mountains into the settlement, but how, or in what manner, has always been something of a puzzle to later generations that know anything at all of this matter. The stones were three feet in diameter and eight inches thick. It is not known that there were any roads at that time; nothing but packer’s trails. It can hardly be supposed that such stones could have been packed on a horse’s back. By some it is supposed that in winter time they might have been brought across the mountain and through the forests on rude sleds, and by cutting away the brush and by worming their way around more serious obstructions. But, whatever the manner of their transportation, the fact remains that in some way they were brought here. But that was as near as the settlement came to getting a mill at that time, for shortly after the stones were brought here the Revolutionary war came on, and this, with threatened Indian troubles, led to the postponement of the building of the mill, and, as the sequel proved, it was many years before a mill was built anywhere near the proposed site for this mill. This pair of millstones, there, lay in the pine forest from the spring of 1775 until the year 1843, when they were put into the Husband’s (later the Metzler) mill, now (1905) owned by the estate of Noah Hoover, for the purpose of cleaning grain.
Among the new settlers who came here in the years 1774 and 1775 (the dates are a little uncertain as to some of them) were Christian Ankeny, Peter Ankeny, Jacob Barnhart, Peter Barnhart, John Rowley, James Black, then a single man; ___ Young, ___ Kifer, ____ Doom, and probably George and Nicholas Barron, who seem to have been father and son. Some of these are still well known names here, while others have long since disappeared and the present generation knows nothing of them.
(or Christly) Ankeny, as he was
called, had first settled in the
Ankeny, brother of Christian, came here at the same time, but leaving his
family in Washington County,
The Barrons located somewhere within a few miles to the west of Somerset. It is a family that has maintained its footing in the county down to the present time.
James Black, when he finally located, did so along the Glade road, about east of Somerset. He was a man of some prominence in our early history, and was the grandfather of Somerset county’s most distinguished son, Judge Jeremiah S. Black.
By 1774 and 1775 quite a number of head of cattle had been brought in, so milk and butter were added to the limited fare of the settler’s table.
In the days of the hunters, deer and similar game were killed largely for the sake of the skins; the carcass was usually left for the wolves. But now there were so many settlers that about all the meat taken in the chase was consumed by them, with the result that during the winter the wolves and panthers, driven by hunger, became so bold that they attacked cattle and colts in broad day. The herds of hogs were still mostly too small and young to protect themselves against their wild enemies, but we will here give an instance belonging to this period in which they did this quite successfully. On the Husband farm a barn had been built, or rather, two stables of round logs were built, with a floor for threshing between them. Under one of these stables a herd of about twenty-five hogs were accustomed to sleep at night. One night, about , a great commotion among the hogs aroused both dogs and the family. On their going out, it was found too dark to find out what was the cause of the uproar among these animals, but when a lantern was brought out a large wolf was discovered sitting on the end of a log that projected several feet from the threshing floor, and four feet above the ground, while the herd was arrayed against the building in a half circle, the larger hogs making great efforts to reach him, all the while keeping up their furious clamor. An occasional low whine from the wolf only added to their fury. The entrance to the yard was shut up, and an attempt made to dislodge the wolf from his perch by prodding him with a pole. Finally, by a tremendous leap, he attempted to clear the circle of his enemies, only to be seized and torn to pieces about as soon as his feet touched the ground.
At this time grass could be cut on the Glades, and as the cattle were now becoming numerous, the season for hay making became a busy as well as an important time. In this labor the women as well as the men at times took part. It is related that in the haying season of this year a settler named Ferguson, with the assistance of his wife, was making hay on a glade below the present Cobaugh farm. The woman had taken an infant child with her, and spreading a blanket, left the child lying on it. Returning to it after some absence, she was dreadfully frightened at seeing a large rattlesnake lying by her child. Her screams soon brought the husband to the spot. By good fortune they succeeded in removing the child uninjured by the reptile.
THE PERIOD OF THE REVOLUTIONARY WAR
The history of this settlement has now been brought down to the beginning of the Revolutionary war.
on the remote frontier and far away from what was soon to become the theater
of a long and bloody war, the settlers here in the backwoods had not been
ignorant of the growing breach between the government of
In the spring of 1776 a company of riflemen was enlisted here and marched off
was not long while after the beginning of the war until British agents had
incited the hostility of the Indians against the colonists along the entire
frontier both of
With the reports that came from the Sinking Valley, the Standing Stone and Frankstown, all of which were in Bedford county as it was then constituted, it readily be seen how great was the apprehension that at this period pervaded the minds of the people. It cannot well be doubted but that this feeling of uneasiness extended itself to all in what is now Somerset county, but we do not have so much account of it as it relates to the other settlements, as we have of the situation here in these --- Cox’s Creek Glades, and along the Forbes road.
So unsettled was the situation all through the fall of 1776, and so great was the alarm that the settlers along the Forbes road, which was looked on as being the outskirts of this settlement to the north, had abandoned their homes. While it is extremely probable that some of them had retired toward Bedford, others moved into this settlement (Cox’s Creek Glades). Some of them may be said to have been forted in a blockhouse that had been built on Richard Brown’s place. Still others were at a building that was known and which was on the old Ferner farm. Others, as the accounts of those times have come down to us, found shelter among the neighbors. In addition to the two blockhouses named, there was during the Revolutionary period a stockade that covered the spring at Peter Ankeny’s house; that is, on the old Hugus farm. It is also known that there was a stockade on the Husband farm.
About the first of October a meeting of the settlers was held for the purpose of considering the situation and means of defense. Among other things it was agreed that the firing of a gun at any house should be construed as a signal to mean that there was cause for alarm; that two shots at the same place would mean that signs of Indians had been discovered; while three shots would indicate that Indians had actually been seen. All hunting was for the time suspended, so that there could be no unnecessary alarm to arise from the shooting of game.
It is related that during this suspension of the hunting season four boys of the neighborhood had gone down the creek one morning for the purpose of fishing. While the boys were crossing the stream by means of a fallen tree, somewhere near where Kantner’s woolen factory now is, some man who had been out hunting beyond hearing distance from the settlement, saw the boys, and concealing himself in a clump of bushes near by, he discharged his gun for the purpose of frightening them and having a laugh at their expense. The smoke that rose up on the discharge of the gun showed the place of concealment. The boys, jumping off the log on which they had been at the firing of the gun, and at a place where there was a plenty of stones, sent such a shower of them into the bushes that the fellow was forced to beg off.
Of the Indians who were the occasion of so much alarm, those of the Dalaware tribe are said to have been friendly to the colonists those who were hostile being of the Tribes.
ATTEMPT OF INDIANS TO CAPTURE JAMES WELLS
James Wells at that time was living on the old Dennison (or Henry Rauch) farm, a part of which lies in the present borough of Jennerstown. When the situation became so alarming, Wells was one of those who brought his family to Brown’s blockhouse for safety. This was probably chosen as a place of refuge for the reason that Captain Richard Brown was his father-in-law. Captain Brown himself was then absent in the war. Presently this feeling of alarm subsided somewhat. At the time that the people of the north end of the settlement had abandoned their several places, all of the crops had not been entirely secured. At several places there were potatoes to be lifted, and Wells himself had apiece of buckwheat that he desired to thresh. So a party of eight or nine men and boys was got together for the purpose of going there and finishing up this work. A young woman belonging to the Wells household went with them for the purpose of cooking for the party. Whether the party was armed or not does not appear, but it looks as though such was not the case. They also had a horse with them.
Four or five days had passed by, and they were about finishing up their work in one of Well’s fields. They had really left the house, the girl had mounted the horse, and they were about ready to start away. Just here a dog that happened to be with the party began to bark furiously on the north side of the field, where there was a thick brushwood that also ran around the west end of the field. The path that they were to take also ran along this thicket. Wells told the party to go on, while he would go across the field and call off the dog, and that he would strike the path above the field on the west. Some of the party were moving on, and Wells was partly across the field, when two Indians suddenly dashed out from the brush some ten or twelve rods east from where the party had been standing, and before they were observed they had cut off Wells from the rest of the party. The girl was the first to see them, and gave the alarm by a scream. On looking around, Wells at once comprehended his danger, and being unarmed also, saw that his only chance for escape was to gain the thicket at the end of the field. Wells was a very active man, and his pursuers soon saw they could not prevent him from getting into the woods. Then three other Indians started out from the brush considerably west from where the first two had come out. These ran west to head him off in that direction. While this was going on, the remainder of the party had scattered in order to effect their own escape. The girl being mounted rode on, keeping, however, a close watch on the outcome of the race between Wells and the Indians. When she saw that Wells had cleared the fence and disappeared in the thicket, she applied the whip to the horse and soon came upon one of the party, known as Irish Jimmy. This Jimmy was looked on as a great coward, and of being none too bright, but on this occasion he showed that he could be both cool and prudent. The girl, as she came up to him, cried out, “Run, Jimmy run!” but Jimmy answered, “The lowly saints preserve us from the varmints! But, faith, I wanted to see the redskins wanst!” In this wish he certainly had been gratified. The girl, as she passed again, told him to save himself. She also knew where Wells would probably strike the path, and made all the speed she could to reach the place. As for Jimmy, he also started off in the same direction that the rest of the party had taken, but coming to a muddy place, where the tracks of the others could be seen, he stopped long enough to cover them with leaves, and obliterate the trail so as to foil Indian sagacity and prevent pursuit. The girl was right in her conjecture as to where Wells would probably gain the path, which he reached, greatly exhausted, as she came up. Dismounting she urged him to take her place and continue his flight, while she took to the woods. Up to this time it had been an attempt on part of the Indians to effect his capture, but now, seeing that he would escape them, they opened fire on him. They appear to have been good marksmen, for four of their balls struck the body of Wells, while a fifth one struck the pommel of the saddle. He, however, was not so seriously disabled but that he could retain his place in the saddle, and soon was beyond the reach of his pursuers, who then abandoned the chase. They made no attempt to capture the girl. The entire party reached Brown’s blockhouse before sunset, the girl being the last to come in.
The alarm and report of Wells’ capture was spread over the settlement before he got in, for the fastest of the party came in ahead of its slower members, and these, when they reached the first house not deserted, sent forward a man on horseback with all dispatch to warn the settlers and gather them to places of safety and security. This necessarily brought the news an hour or two in advance of Wells’ arrival. The signal of three successive discharges of firearms was promptly given, and as their report sounded over the settlement consternation reigned everywhere. As soon as the signals were reported at Brown’s blockhouse, which by common consent had been agreed on as the headquarters of the settlement, messengers on fresh horses were started around to the different cabins to make known to the people their real danger and warn them to gather into the places chosen for defense as quickly as possible. “I well recollect,” said the late Isaac Husband, “when I was a child about six years of age, of seeing that express coming across the Glade at full speed, with a blood-red handkerchief borne aloft in his hand, and I can still hear his thrilling voice as he rode past my father’s house and cried out, ‘Indians! Indians! Wells is killed!’ and, merely slackening his pace, added “Make your arrangements; they will be on the settlement tonight,’ and then passed on to repeat the same cry at every cabin.
“The first messenger was passed about an hour when another was seen coming with equal haste. All was excitement and terror, and we strained our eyes, expecting to see the savages in full pursuit. As soon as he came within hearing distance he called out, ‘Wells is in, but wounded and dying from loss of blood.’ This summons was for my mother, who was about the only person in the settlement who knew anything of surgery, and she was hurried off to attend to the wounded man, who had reached the blockhouse at Brown’s in a fainting condition.
Three of the balls were extracted, but the fourth one remained in his body. His wounds were severe, but not mortal, and after a winter of suffering he was restored to health and vigor. In the meanwhile an armed party was sent out to find the girl, as well as to try and learn something further of the movements of the Indians. The girl was met making her way toward the blockhouse, and as she reported that she had not been pursued that she was aware of, the party returned with her, to the great joy of everyone, for she was now looked on as the heroine of the settlement. Wells himself always esteemed her as the preserver of his life. It is to be regretted that the name of this brave girl has been lost to the present generation.
After taking counsel, the conclusion was finally reached that perhaps it would be better to abandon the settlement for the present, or at least remove the women and children to a place of safety. The conduct of the Indians in this affair appeared to be somewhat strange, and this led to the belief that a general foray on the settlement was to be looked for. No other reason than this could be assigned for their not having attempted to kill or capture others of the party than Wells, or for not having pursued the defenseless girl after she had given up her horse to Wells. Pickets were kept out for some time, and finally a scouting party ventured back to the scene of the attack, to find that no houses had been burned, and that nothing appeared to have been disturbed, nor were there any further signs of the enemy. In the meanwhile, however, a number of families had left the settlement, some going to Bedford, some to Conccocheague, and other distant points. Had it not been for the condition of Wells, and the impossibility of removing him in his then dangerous state, it is probable that the settlement would have been almost entirely abandoned. As matters stood, the wounded man could not be moved, and those having to care for him were compelled to remain with him. This, in the end, proved fortunate for those of the settlers who had stayed, as they were not further molested at this time.
is not often that the Indian’s side of the story of such an incident
as has here been related has been told, but in this instance it can also be
given. There were some singular circumstances connected with this attack on
Wells that remained a mystery for many years thereafter. At one time there
was a reservation for the Delaware Indians near Kaskaskia,
"I was in a party of five Indians, three Delawares and two Shawnees, among the mountains for the purpose of capturing a man by the name of Wells who had ill treated an Indian woman and killed an Indian child while on a scout on the headwaters of the Conemaugh. The father of the child had sworn revenge at the risk of his life. He was my brother, and I promised to support him to the same extent, as did also a second brother, and the Shawnees were our friends. We learned where this man lived, but we found it deserted. We lay around for four days until we saw him come back with other people with him. We saw them at work, and could have killed all of them and could have killed Wells, but we wanted to take him alive in order to torture him to death. The others we did not want to hurt. After watching for a chance to catch Wells, we got him separated from the rest of the company, and were sure of taking him alive, but he was the best runner I ever saw. He got off from us. We saw him mount the horse. We all fired upon him, but he did not fall. We then started to the Allegheny river and traveled all day and late in the night. Then we stopped, made a fire, and lay down until morning when we were fired on. Three were killed, one was wounded, and one escaped."
explained some at least of the strange features of the attack. The
There was sometimes retaliation for the barbarities of the Indians on part of the frontiersmen; the brutality and savagery of some men could not always be restrained.
The few descendants of James Wells who know anything of this Indian account challenge it correctness. They deny that he was the sort of a man who would be guilty of the charge made against him by the Indians. He continued to reside in this county until after the year 1800, and certainly must have been a man of character and reputation, for he filled various public offices that were only conferred on such men, and while these Indians may have had a just grievance of this kind against some one, it is probable that they were mistaken, and sought to wreak their vengeance on the wrong man.
Quite a number of the settlers had moved their families to places of safety
during the panic created by the attack on Wells in the fall of 1776, and this
settlement may be looked on as having been to some extent abandoned during
the following winter. Just what the effect of this panic was on the other
settlements, meaning by this the Stony Creek Glades,
In the spring of 1777 some of the settlers returned, many of them without their families, but by fall nearly all the families were again settled down as before.
After the country had been left so bare and depleted of men and arms by the departure of Captain Brown’s company, as well as so many cabins having been vacated on account of the Indian alarm, wolves became so numerous and troublesome that as association was formed to promote their destruction. This was organized in May, 1777, under the following rules.
The undersigned hereby agree to form themselves into an association to encourage
the destruction of wolves, by subscribing and paying two shillings for each
wolf scalp killed within the settlement or within a circuit of ten miles.
The foregoing list may be assumed as showing the number of persons who were still in the settlement in the spring of 1777.
Through the latter months of 1777, and all through the succeeding winter, the settlers in Westmoreland county were greatly harassed and distressed by Indian forays, and as the distance was not so great that it could not have been traversed in a day or two, it may well be believed that the reports that from time to time came from those parts added anything to the feeling of security among the people on this side of the Laurel Hill. To show just what was the state of affairs at this time so near this settlement, we quote the following letter from Colonel Archibald Lochrey, the county lieutenant for Westmoreland county, to President Wharton:
Honored Sir. The Distressed Situation of our Cuntery is such that we have no Prospect But Disolation and Distruction the whole county On the North side of the Rode from the Allegany Mountains to the River is all Keept Close in forts and can get no subsistance from their plantations they have made application to us requesting to be put under Pay and Receive Rations and as we could see no other to keep the People from flying and Leeting the Cuntery be evacquiated we were Oblidged to adopt them Measures (Requesting your Excellancy to give the necessary orders to enable us put them in Execution if these very Measures is Not adopted I see no other Method that can secure the people from giving up the Cuntery these People while they support these fruntear Posts are certainly serving the publick) & Cartainly cannot Continue Long so to do unless supported by the Publick --- Lieut Col Charles Camble and for other Persons is Maide Prisoners on the waters of Blackleig’s Creek fore other men kill’d and scalped near the same pleace one man kil’d near Wallace’s fort on Cunnomoch Eleven other Persons Kill’d and Scalped at Palmer’s fort near Logonear amongst which is Ensign Woods at the pleace where Col Campble was maid Prisoner, fore raskely Proclamations wass Left by the Savages from the Governor of Detroit Requesting all Persons to come to him or any other of the Garrisons occupied by His Majesties Troops and they should Receive Pay & Lodgings as they rank with us, every Private Person for encouragement to have 200 Acres of Land.
In short there is very few Days there is not some murder committed on some part of our fruntears (if your Excellency would Please to adopt our measures and give the necessary orders for Putting them into Execution: I Hoop with Divine assistance we shall be able to Hold the Cuntery till we are Enabled by the more Effectual Meashurs, that is Carring an Expedition into their Cuntery) We have likewise Ventured to erect two Stockade forts at Logenear & Hannabs Town at the Publick expense with a Store House in each to secure Both Publick and Private Property in, and Be a place of Retreat for the Suffering fruntears in case of needsessity which I flatter myself will meet with your Excellancys approbation and Beigs Leave to subscribe Myself
Most Oblidged Most
A LOCHRY Lieut.
Westmoreland ye 4th Nov. 1777
On Public Service
To His Escelliancy Thos Wharton Junr President of the Shurpraim Exceutive Council of the State of Pennsylvania
Col John Shields
(P. A. Archives, 1st series, vol. 5, page 74.)
Such being the situation just beyond the Laurel Hill, and so near by, the strain and anxiety that our people here suffered can readily be imagined.
Under date of November 27th of the same year, Thomas Smith and George Woods, both citizens of Bedford county, as well as being men of prominence and reputation, write to the president in council as follows:
Gentlemen: The present situation of this County is so truly deplorable that we should be inexcusable if we delayed a moment in acquainting you with it.
An Indian War is now raging around us in its utmost fury---Before you went down they had killed one man at Stony Creek, Since that time they have killed five on the mountain over against the heads of Dunning Creek killed or taken three at the Springs, wounded one and kill’d some Children by Frankstown and had they not providentially been discovered in the Night & a party went out and fired on them they would in all probability have destroyed the greater part of that settlement in a few hours. A small party went out into Morrison’s Cove Scouting and unfortunately divided, the Indians discovered one division and out of eight killed seven and wounded the other. In short a day hardly passes without our hearing of some new murder, and if the People continue only a week longer to fly as they have done for a week past Cumberland County will be the frontier.
From Morrison’s Croyl’s & Friend’s Coves Dunning’s creek and one half of the Glades they are fled or forted and for all defense that can be made here the Indians may do almost what they please.
We keep put ranging parties in which we go out by turns but all we can do that way is but weak and ineffectual for our defense because one half of the people are fled those that remain are too busily employed in putting their families and the little of their effects that they can save and take into some place of Safety so that the whole burden falls upon a few of the Frontier Inhabitants. For those who are at a distance from danger have not as yet offered us any assistance. We are far from blaming the officers of the Militia because they have not ordered them out not only for the foregoing reasons but also for these, not one Man in of them is armed.
This letter, of which we quote only a part, is very lengthy, and is
to be found in the First Series, Pennsylvania Archives, Vol. VI. Page 39, and it amply confirms all that has been said concerning the dangers
and perils to which all the border settlements were exposed at that time.
These two gentlemen appear to have studied the situation carefully, and in
this same letter they strongly advised the enlistment of not less than a hundred
rangers, well armed, and men who were at home in the woods and understood
Indians’ way. Only by such men, led by spirited officers, could it be
expected that the settlements could be protected. But previously to the writing
of the letter from which we have been quoting, the council of safety had addressed
the following letter to the delegates of
In Council of Saefety
Lancaster 14 Nov 1777
Sirs This Council is applied to by the people of the County of Westmoreland in this Commonwealth with the most alarming complaints of Indian Depredations. The Letter of which the inclosed is a copy will give you some Idea of their present situation We are further informed by verbal accounts that an extent of 60 Miles has been evacuated to the Savages full Stock Corn, Hoggs & Poultry that they have attacked Palmers Fort about 7 miles from Ligonier without success; and from the information of White Eyes and other circumstances it is feared Fort Ligonier has been by this time attacked. There is likewise reason to fear the ravages will extend to Bedford & along the frontier.
We shall order out the Militia of Bedford County & take such other steps as may be necessary for the relief of those Settlements, but we find they are greatly deficient in the Articles of arms & especially ammunition & Flints In Fort Ligonier when our informants left it, there was not more than 40 lb. of powder & 15 lb. of Lead ---Flints are sold at a Dollar apiece. We must beg the assistance of Congress in these articles --- arms we dare hardly ask but ammunition and & Flints we hope may be supplied by Congress both to Westmoreland & Bedford and we must also intreat the attention of Congress to the general defense of the Frontier --- We know not the Situation of Gen Hand, his forces or his views but we have reserved the Militias of Bedford & West Moreland for the purpose of co operating with him in those parts of the States & the neighbor.
Mr. Thomas Galbraith will call on you in a few Days on his way to Ligonier, the supplies should be furnished to him from Carlisle to be carried from thence on Pack horses. He will explain more at large their situation & it might not be amiss to communicate to him what may be expected from Gen Hand as well as what Congress shall order
To Delegates of Pennsylvania in Congress
through the winter of 1777 reports continued to come in that Westmoreland
was still being harassed by Indian forays, and as a matter of course these
reports kept alive a certain feeling of uneasiness in these settlements. At
the same time it was hoped and believed that the deep snows on the mountains
would for the time prove a barrier against an attack on the part of the savages.
That some efforts in the way of defending these settlements were made may
be learned from this letter of Colonel Piper, the lieutenant of
Bedford Jan 20th 1778
Sir I would Beg Leave to Enform that on my Return from Council the Distressing Situation of our frontiers oblidged me to call upon the Sub Its. To Consult upon measures to prevent our fronteers from Being Entirely Evacuated when we were oblidged to adopt the following Measures viz: to Give orders to Raise 30 men for the defense of the Settelmt called the Gleades 40 men for the Senter division Encluding Bedford thirty men for Franks town and the same number for the Sinking Valley and thirty men to Guard the inhabitants of Harts Log Settelmt the urgent Call for these men and the Exorbitant Prices of all articles Layd us under the necessity of augmenting their Pay in five Pounds Pr month the men to Be engaged for the space of nine monts unless sooner discharged. These People Have Repeatedly applyd to me, praying their Situation to Be Layd Before Concill of their determination to make a Stand if they meet with this necessary Assistance, they Likewise Pray the a Suitable Person may be appointed to Lay a Small Store of Provisions at each Post to Supply Scouting Partys or other troops who may be Employed as Guards If these measures are approven by Councill the People will Stand, and if Rejected I have the Greatest Reason to believe that on the first alarm from Indians A Great Part of our County will Be Left desolate --- These measures that we Have Adopted is by no means to be understood as acting against Authority But in Compliance with the order of Council of the 9th of December and the situation of our County Renders it impossible to Call the People out in classes these Considerations I Beg Leave to Lay Before Councill and Refar to Col Davis for further Enformations
And am Sir
With due regard Your
Excellancys most Obdt Hble servt
P.S.---The Pressing Call for Money obliges us to Press our demand for a further Supply By this Bearer Col Davis who is appointed to wait upon Councill doe that Purpose.
I am & c
The Honorable President in council Lancaster
(Pa. Arch., 1st series, vol. 6, page 194.)
TORIES COME INTO THE SETTLEMENT
As the spring passed and the summer approached, there was little or no improvement in the situation. The barrier that the Westmoreland settlements offered was liable to be swept away at any time, and then this settlement would be the next in the way of the savage foe. The reports from that quarter were anything but reassuring, while to the north the Great road was considered as being practically closed.
During the years 1777 and 1778 there was an immigration into these parts of an entirely different character from that of any previous year, and one that was in no wise to be desired. This was an immigration of Tories---that is, of persons who sided with the English in the struggle that was then going on between them and the colonists. Necessarily they were against the colonists. These newcomers had been living in the eastern and older settled parts of the state, as it was now called. They had refused to take the oath of allegiance to the new order of things, as prescribed by the assembly. They had also refused to join the associations that had been formed in aid of the popular cause, and by thus withholding their aid and sympathy from the cause in which the most of the colonists had so heartily enlisted they became obnoxious to their Whig neighbors, as well as objects of suspicion. It certainly must have difficult for any one to remain neutral in those strenuous days.
This led to their being harassed by fines and in many other ways. Their conduct often was such as to forbid their close proximity to the hostile armies, and many times it was a military necessity to arrest and place them in confinement, so that they might be prevented from giving aid and information to the enemy. There can be no doubt but that to many of this class of persons the situation where they were then living was intolerable, and this caused the removal of many of them to the remote settlements on the frontier in the hope that they might escape at least a part of what they looked on as persecution on the part of their Whig neighbors. It is all over now, and those who were living in those days have long since passed from the state of action. It us it has long been apparent that there may have been two sides to the great questions that were then at issue, just as it is with about everything else over which men differ, and those who happen to take the unpopular side in a revolution usually are apt to suffer for what, after all, may be a matter of conscience.
We only need look back to the great Civil war of our own days to see how it is in such times. The Union man of the South, the man who remained loyal to the flag under which he had been born and desired to see the integrity of the Union maintained, was in the eyes of his fellow-citizens who had espoused the other side a Tory, and as such he was persecuted and made to flee from the country. He was in about the same position as was the Tory of the American Revolution, with this difference, that his side prevailed in the great questions that had been appealed to the court of arms.
these Tories were thus forced to seek what may be said to have been places
of refuge on the frontier, these settlements received their full proportion
of them. It was not long after their coming into the settlement until there
was enough of dispute and bickering between those who were Whigs and the adherents
of the crown. Their disputes often ran high in words, but never resulted in
more than pugilistic encounters, and in those days these were not looked on
as being very much of a breach of the law. No names of any of these Tory immigrants
have come down to us. If they remained here after the war was over, their
attitude while it was going on has long since been forgotten. But after the
Revolutionary war was over there was quite a large immigration to
NON-RESISTANTS COME IN.
There was also a considerable emigration of another character that also sought the frontier on account of the war. Members of the Dunkard, or German Baptist, Amish and Mennonite churches had come into these settlements between the two mountains about as early as any other, notably so in Elk Lick, Brothers Valley and Stony Creek. Then, as now, a cardinal tenet of their several faiths was that their members must not bear arms or take part in wars. This was with them a matter of conscience; these things were wrong. In Eastern Pennsylvania all of these people were more or less numerous. Like the Tories, they refused to take the oaths prescribed, but from different motives. They were non-jurors. They refused to bear arms or take part in the war because was wrong. This, also, in some localities at least, led to their being vexed by fines, to their being looked on with suspicion, and to be more or less persecuted. So many of them, too, sought refuge in the wilds of the frontier, that they might live in peace. As a descendant of one of this class once said to the writer, they were not disloyal to the authorities as they were then constituted. It was their religious scruples that led them to take the attitude that they did. And on these things they hold the position today.
A MILL IS BUILT
here we will make a momentary digression from the story of the alarms and
dangers of Indian attacks that were disturbing the peace of mind of every
one in the settlement, to note an event of another kind that was of the greatest
importance to the well being and convenience of the settlement. It has already
been told that the settlers were obliged to pack their grain to Bedford
About the year 1778 (though it may also have been a little earlier) a Mr. Jones came into the settlement, and in traveling over it he soon noticed the need for a gristmill and began to look around him for a good mill site. Peter Bucher, who then was still more of a hunter than anything else, and who lived on the John H. Morrison farm of a later day, pointed out to him such a site on the present David Putnam farm in Jefferson township, near where Matthias Scott’s forge was afterward built. This site pleased Jones so well that he secured title to the land at once. William Jones, a son of this Jones, came in shortly afterward and built a mill here. This place is near the foot of Laurel Hill, somewhat on the outskirts of the settlement, it is true, but still only ten miles from it central part, and the long and toilsome journeys across the mountain, taking days of time to make them, in order to obtain so necessary a staple of life as flour, were now a thing of the part. We cannot say that this was the very first mill to be built within the present county of Somerset, but it certainly was one of the first, for we have no account whatever of settlers ever having gone to any mill in Brothers Valley or elsewhere on this side of the Allegheny mountain. It is probable, however, that the “Troyer Mill” in Brothers Valley, as it was first called, was built about the same time. There is also a vague tradition of a small tub mill having been built on the south side of Flaugherty run, ear Meyersdale, also about the same time. The mill at Draketown, in the Turkeyfoot settlement, may be of this period. Jones’ mill, as it was called, was in a sense one of the centres of the settlement or village grew up around it. This mill, which in its day served so useful purpose, has long since been abandoned. It may not be out of place here to say that when Mr. Jones, the elder, bought the millsite of which we are speaking, he also at the same time bought a second mill site on the waters of Indian creek, on the western side of Laurel Hill. Here Robert Jones, another son built a mill, and there has always been a mill there, which to this day is known as Jones’ mill.
TROUBLES ON THE FRONTIER.- CONTINUED.
But to take up once more the story of the troubles on the frontier. In a letter dated February, 1779, that Colonel Hugh Davison, one of the sub-lieutenants, wrote to the council, he fully confirms all that was said by Colonel Piper, and laid stress on the fact that the people expected at attack when the weather became more open, and that the condition of the county was such that when one part of it was attacked, danger was to be apprehended to the whole county. From this letter we also learn that the Glade settlements were considered and called the western frontier of the county. The year 1778 passed by. What the real situation was that prevailed in many parts of Bedford county may best be judged from the following petition of the commissioners and assessors of the county to the assembly:
Bedford February 16 1779
To the Honourable the Representatives of the Freemen of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in general Assembly met.
The Petition of the Board of Commissioners Assessors & Assistant Assessors of Bedford County---Humbly Sheweth: That the Petitioners have met in order to Lay the Taxes directed by Law to be paid by this County, but the situation of the greatest part of the County is such that Humanity forbids them to levy the Same and induces them to apply to the Honourable House for relief and to represent That for eighteen months past the frontier inhabitants have almost entirely been deprived of the fruits of their labor by the incursions of the Indians. Many of them are gone entirely out of the County, and when that part of the Petitioners whose duty it is to take the Returns of Property went to the once Chearful abodes of Humble Industry & content the Inhabitant had fled to preserve his life, and nothing presented to their view but forlorn inhabitations and untilled field (in several of which the grave of the former owner murdered by the Indians was to be seen) and to levy Taxes off those would be adding distress to the afflicted and taking from the Poor that which he has not to give.
That part of the Inhabitants which remained collected into forts-some formed into Companies and Ranged along the Frontiers in order to afford some small Protection to the rest who, at the hazard of their lives ventured out to save their Scanty harvest and to prepare another but they were so often driven in that it was but little they could do.
The Panic occasioned by one incursion was scarcely over till they were alarmed afresh by another. Many were deprived of Sowing & planting & not a few were prevented from reaping that which they had put in-In Consequence of which Famine Stares us in the face. There is not Bread enough amongst us to sustain the Inhabitants till Harvest & were it to be had for Money which it is not. Many of the Poorer sort have not wherewithal to purchase it The great Plenty of Money that is circulating in other parts of the Country is to them no relief because their Savage Foe has prevented them from having anything to sell to acquire Money and many of them have undergone hardship & distress and suffered such loss that they are really objects of Compassion & if the Times would permit their Situation would strongly Plead for Public assistance to save the helpless families of those to have perished by the Sword, and those who have been deprived of Providing Bread for their families from suffering by Famine. The few who have been permitted to remain at their Habitations, and reap the fruits of their industry will chearfully pay their part of the Taxes according to their circumstances but should the whole Quota laid on this County be levied off them it is so large and their numbers so few that they would be reduced to beggary by it. We therefore intreat the interposition of the Honourable House and that they would grant such an exemption in the premises as to their wisdom shall seem meet & the Petitioners as in duty bound shall pray &c.
James Martin Henry Abrams
Saml Davidson Hugh Robinson
Allen Rose Absalom Gray
David Jones Thos’s Crossan
Gideon Richey Robert Moore
John Canan Township Assessors
Of the signers of this petition, which tells it own story, Henry Abrams was from the Turkeyfoot settlement, while Hugh Robinson was the assessor for Brothers Valley township, and lived about two miles south from the present town of Meyersdale.
On the 17th of May following, the commissioners and assessors again met for the purpose of levying this, as we find from this extract from the commissioners:
Pursuant to adjournment the subscribers met at George Milligan’s with the Intention to assess and lay the Quota of the 62000 Dollars as also the taxes for the current year but the Indians having made a recent and general Invasion into this County the unfortunate Habitations have generally been obliged to abandon their Habitations and either to fly or collect into Forts to save their lives has made it impossible for the full board to meet.
They follow this up with the declaration that the situation was so critical that they could not with any degree of certainly appoint a fixed time to meet again. There do not appear to have been any of the assessors belonging to our part of the county present.
On July 5 the commissioners again set forth the impossibility of having a meeting of the board of assessors at that time, or that it was possible for the township assessors to perform duties requited by the act of assembly, and that many of the inhabitants had been obliged to abandon their homes on account of the many murders committed by the savages on the frontier. Of course, this applies to Bedford county as a whole, and some other parts of the county suffered vastly more from these inroads of the Indians than did those parts on the west side of the Allegheny mountain. Aside from what took place in the stretch along the Forbes road, it was more the constant coming in of the reports of these savage inroads and forays that acted as a continual menace to the peace of the settlements and kept such of the people as did remain in a continual state of worry.
The gravity of the situation was appreciated by the council of safety at Philadelphia, and about this time orders were issued to the authorities of the counties of York, Cumberland and Lancaster, to detach two hundred and fifty militia for the countries of Bedford and Westmoreland, in the hope that with this aid the people could do something in the way of sowing and gathering crops. But York county found a pretext for not complying with the order, and Lancaster followed her example. All of this will be found to be borne out by a reference to the first series of the Pennsylvania Archives covering this period.
So with all the efforts that were made, not a man could be got out in aid of these exposed settlements, and it is not to be wondered at that many of the settlers gave way to despair and abandoned their homes.
There would also seem to have been differences and dissensions between the county lieutenant, Colonel John Piper, and his two sub-lieutenants in this part of the county. These were probably Philip Cable and Richard Brown. In the accounts we have of these matters only the surnames are given. This sort of trouble covered a period of several years, and at least as far back as 1777, for in a letter to James Martin, a sub-lieutenant on the east side of the Allegheny mountain, Colonel Piper as much as charged these sub-lieutenants with sowing dissensions among the people. This letter we give in full:
Sir:-Please wait upon the Executive Council for this state and lay before them the disadvantages we labor under in Executing the Business Committed to us the art and influence of Some individuals in this County Has induc’d Maney of the inhabitants to deny the authority of our Present Legislators So that whole townships are taught to deny all authority nor will they Comply in one single instance with the acts of our Present assembly and the Great Caus, why our Business is not Carry’d on with dispatch is owing in a great Measure to the two Gentn viz Cable and Brown who were appointed Sub Lieuts in the Western district* of this county there refusing to do their duty until the Scence of the People are taken at Large which throws Such Load of Business upon me that I find Me Self unable to Perform notwithstanding the numbers of Good People in this county, that are active in their duty Yet from the art and influence of these People there So mutch oposition and So many difficultys thrown in our way that our Business is mutch Retarded therefore, Sir I hope you’l Lay this Matter before the House and Executive Council and Pray that they may Grant us Such Relief Either by appointing others to do the duty or Any other directions they in their wisdoms May think proppair. Pleas to Enform that the County is Lay’d off in districks and Each districk apointed their field officers, But the other Business is much Kep’d Back for the want of Concurrance and assistance of the above named Gentlemen.
I am Sir you obed’t serv’t
July 20 1777.
It would look very much as if these two officers, Mr. Cable and Mr. Brown, stickled in this particular instance for some sort of a referendum before they would carry out their instructions. In this they were certainly away in advance of the times.
If we fully understand the reply of Colonel Piper to a petition of certain inhabitants of Quemahoning township, it would appear that neither the suffering of the people of these settlement nor the dangers to which they were exposed, nor yet their extreme poverty, served to protect them against unjust and illegal demands on the part of military subordinates. We are not able to give the petition itself, and can only infer it nature from the reply made to it, which reply we here give, first saying that we do not know the names of the sub-lieutenants referred to in the petition:
To the inhabitants of Quemahoning Township, 1780
Gentlemen: I received your Petition to me directed by the Hand of Mr. Black, I am fully sensible of your situation and the Difficulties you labor under by reason of the exorbitant Demands made upon you by the Sub Lieutenants of this County for large sums of Money to Pay the hire of two Men annexed to the Bedford Company of Pennsylvania Voluntiers.
I look upon it as a grievance upon the Said remaining inhabitants of the Frontier Inhabitants of this County and as such I have already remonstrated to Council, and likewise to Mr. Powel a Member of the House of Assembly for this County. I assure you Gentlemen the Proceedings of the Sub Lieutenants of this County in Demanding such large Sums of Money from the Distressed Frontier inhabitants is Contrary to my Judgement & apprehend contrary to the intention or meaning of the act for I am fully of opinion the meaning of the act was to call for two Men out of a Company, where there is a Company and not from the few remaining parts of Companies that are assembled in Small Parties on our extended Frontiers who for a considerable time past have been holding their weapons with the one Hand and Labouring with the other& am of opinion that if the measures that have been adopted by the Sub Lieutenants of this County are pursued to their ful extent it will instead of Supporting the Frontiers be a means of effectually breaking them up. Neither do I see any method of redress but by Petitioning our House of Assembly.
These, Gentlemen are my sentiments and I am sorry so far from having an Actual Hand in the present distressing measures that I have never so much as been consulted upon the matter. I am sorry to tell you Gentlemen that it is not in my Power as I apprehend to give you relief in yr difficulties.
I am Gentlemen with Respect yr Most Humble Sevt,
Sept st 1780 a true Copy
P James Martin S Lift
in the winter of 1779-80 there was a very heavy fall of snow. It is said to
have been from four to five feet deep on a level, and seems to have lain until
very late in the spring of 1780. In
This great depth of snow for the time isolated the people who still remained in these settlements from their neighbors both to the east and the west. In fact, from all accounts, the settlers were largely isolated from each other all of the winter. In a way, this deep snow was really a great blessing that brought a feeling of security to the settlers for the time being, for it was not believed that the Indians would attempt any incursion with such a snow covering the earth as this was. But when spring had really come, this blockade of snow soon disappeared under the warmth of the sun, and the fears of Indian invasion were once more renewed.
While it is true that in the year 1780 no savage incursion was actually made into these Glade settlements, yet other parts, of Bedford county were not so fortunate, for a number of forays were made into the county by the enemy, many persons were killed, and there was much waste during this year. Even though the settlers here escaped actual attack, yet they underwent all the strain and anxiety over the uncertainties of their situation. It cannot be said that the year 1781 brought any change for the better, the situation remaining much as it had been through the preceding year, and remained so until the middle of the summer of 1782.
through all this continual state of alarm some families here still clung to
their homes, fully determined to remain and take their chances. But the news
of the destruction of Hannastown, in Westmoreland county,
can give an outline of the occurrences and scenes connected with the abandonment
of the settlement in those troubled days. As the ominons
news from Hannastown was borne eastward along the
Each family tried to take with them what they could. The horses, of course, were loaded with packs of their most indispensable effects. Some things were concealed by burying them in the ground, some by placing them in hollow logs in the woods. The grain was mostly left in sacks, and the potatoes in the hills. The cattle were generally driven along, but in many instances, after reaching places of safety, their owners were compelled to sell them at nominal prices because they were not possessed of the means to purchase the needed provender to sustain them. The hogs, of which there large numbers, were left behind to shift for themselves, and the probability of falling prey to wolves and bears. But as against these, their own power and sagacity would seem to have in a measure protected them, for on the return of the settlers in the following year, large herds of them were still found, their increase not being materially affected by the depredations of the wild animals.
The families moved out as fast as they could pack and get off, directing their steps to places of security or where they had relatives or acquaintances. Some of them went to the Conococheague, others to York and Cumberland counties. Very little in the shape of food could be taken along. Among these people were many who a few years ago had come and sat down in this wilderness in misgiving and doubt whether they would be able to sustain themselves, but who, by their industry and perseverance, as well as thrift, had surrounded themselves with an abundance of the necessaries of life. These they were now compelled to abandon to the mercy of the expected enemy, while destitution and want stared the refugees in the face as they fell back on the country without means or money to sustain themselves.
Husband removed his family to
Extracts from the following letter of Barnard Daugherty to President Moore and the council will show the gloom and darkness that had settled over the situation on the frontier at this juncture.
Philada. Aug 19 1782
Sir. I beg leave to lay before Your Excellency and the Honourable Council the present situation of the County of Bedford. On the 8th of this Inst. Were found killed and scalped about eighteen Miles on this side of the Town of Bedford, and within half a Mile of the great Road one Peck his wife and two children his house burnt and another who lived there is missing and thought to be taken away. The Enemy penetrating so far into the very heart of the country has struck a general panick and the People are mostly fled.
Speaking of the several forts or posts at which there were a few rangers and militia, he says:
That there is not above one week’s provisions for their Subsistence and that it was not possible for me to have got more having not a penny to purchase with and if there is a speedy supply sent to those stations they will of Course be evacuated and as sure as Franks town Fort Piper (Heads of) Dunning Creek posts or any one of them is evacuated, I am of Opinion Cumberland county will become the frontier because these are the most material stations in the County and if it is heard once that any of them are deserted the whole Country to which they are a frontier will immediately fly. * * * I had almost forgot informing your Excellency that the Notorious Girty has for some years threatened the Town of Bedford with destruction in like manner as he has that of Hannas Town, he effected his design on the latter and how soon he may effect a similar Destruction I know not but I am greatly afraid he has it in contemplation. This information I thought myself under an absolute necessity of giving to your Honorable Board.
actual reference is made to our Glade settlements in this letter, but if such
was the situation to the eastward of them, it is easy to imagine what was the condition of things here. But about this same time Mr. Daugherty
Dear Sir: I beg leave to lay the enclosed through your means before the Honorable Board of Council (though imperfectly) some account of the present situation in Bedford County. You were kind enough to promise me a copy of such instructions as are necessary to observe relative to the issuing of provisions. I pray it may be remembered with respect to signing vouchers that the County Lieutenant lives upwards of fifteen miles from Bedford town. Nothing can be more distressing than the present situation of it for the places said in the enclosed to be broken up are nearly on the Maryland line.
It can hardly be doubted but that here he is making a direct reference
to the several settlements here in these parts, for these settlements certainly
are near the
In March, 1783, Mr. Husband decided to return to the settlements and ascertain for himself what the situation there really was. He found things were much as they had been left by their owners, aside from the disorder that always is incident to abandoned property. He also found that a very small number of families had clung to their homes in spite of the last year’s alarms and the general exodus that had then taken place. These had chiefly been of the early hunters. Among them was John Rhoades. In speaking of the matter afterwards, he said, in his German speech, that he himself want to go to Bedford. “ober die mommy hut gesacht sie daed net gae” (“mother said she would not go.”) and as mother refused to go he was constrained to remain. To this Mrs. Rhoades herself added, “Mer hen eva a mohl aweck gesprunga fur nix and ich spring nimme mae” (“We ran away once for nothing and I will not run away again.”).
As a matter of fact, notwithstanding all the alarms that had harassed the settlers in these Cox’s Glades, keeping them under a constant strain and excitement, we have no account of any Indians ever having penetrated into these parts with hostile intent any nearer than the Forbes road, and we think that this remark will apply to most of the Stony Creek Glades, Brothers Valley and Elk Lick. While many savage inroads were made into part of Bedford county east of the Allegheny mountains, the Indians apparently found their way thither by trails and paths further to the north.
Having looked fully over the situation, Mr. Husband returned to his family at Fort Cumberland, and after consulting with his wife concluded to take the two older boys and return to the settlement, look after his property, and if not disturbed, to try and put out a crop, while his family remained where they then were. They brought with them a horse and the yoke of oxen, getting down to work about the last of April. Others of the refugees also returned to look after their abandoned homes, and some families came back in the spring. Among the first of these was that Peter Ankeny. The buried and hidden property was gathered together. The last year’s grain, which had been left in the stacks, was still as it had been left, aside from some injury from squirrels. Grain thus was plenty, and the mill only ten miles away. Then came the news that the long war had at last come to an end, and the independence of the colonies was now an acknowledged fact. This glad news was hailed as joyfully here in the mountain cabins as it was welcomed by the people living in the cities and towns along the seaboard.
As the fathers and mothers of the frontier returned to their deserted homes and prepared to renew the struggle here in the wilderness, they were animated by the hope that their savage enemies, being deprived of British aid and supplies, would now be driven so far back into the wilderness as to be no longer dangerous. The summer and fall passed by. All who had returned in time to sow had reaped. After all, their condition had been materially improved over what it was ten years before.
In the spring of 1784 nearly all of the remaining refugees returned. With them were many new settlers, some of whom, for those times, were men who were fairly well off, and affairs began to take on a new aspect. This was not only the case here in this settlement, but it applied equally to all the other settlements in what is now Somerset county.
Not many head of the horses and cattle that had been driven away in the light of 1782 had been brought back into the settlement, their owners mostly having been compelled to sell them at ruinous prices because of the inability to keep them, and among the stock that was brought back there were but few cows. These animals continued somewhat scarce for several years. The hogs had been left behind, and would seem to have been able to care for themselves fairly well, but they had become quite wild, and usually moved in herds. While wolves and bears preyed on them to some extent, it could only be done with safety where an animal had happened to stray away from its herd. A wolf or bear that was too persistent in trying to have a meal of pork, sometimes had the tables turned on him and himself devoured.
REMINISCENCES OF JOSEPH ANKENY---MRS. FERNER
We have now brought the history of this settlement down in the close of the Revolutionary war, but we still have some things relating to the early days that will be found of interest to at least some of our readers. Among them is a letter which we here give, that was written by the late Joseph Ankeny, in 1870, to David Husband. Mr. Ankeny was a son of Peter Ankeny, the pioneer, who was one of the founders of the town of Somerset. The subject matter of this letter is family traditions as he heard them from the lips of his parents.
Yours of the 8th inst. Was duly received, and I will cheerfully contribute such items of facts as fell from the lips of my dear old mother, of the trials and privations of this early settlement as they were eagerly listened to by her last born child, and they are as vividly impressed on my mind as if they were of quite recent occurrence.
My uncle, Christian Ankeny, moved to what is now called Somerset county from Washington county, Maryland, in the spring of 1772 or ’73, my father accompanying him, but leaving mother and one child in Maryland. Uncle Christly made his first improvement on the farm owned by Mr. Fritz, west of Pine Hill, in Brothers Valley township. He remained here but a short time. He located on lands near where Somerset now is, in 1774, and probably moved here in’74 or’75. His first improvement on these lands was on the east line of his farm (this is where John Schrock now lives) and west of the old Hugus farm. The old orchard and part of the remains of the stone chimney were still standing when I left that country thirty-nine years ago.
My father, Peter Ankeny, commenced his farm on the Hugus farm, around the spring where the present buildings are now located. He built his log cabin just below the spring, the spring house being the lower story. He cleared several acres where the old orchard now remains, and sowed it in wheat that fall, and returned to Maryland in the spring for his family. He took his wife and only child on horseback, with some pack-horses to carry their clothes and bedding, and a ten-plate stove weighing not less than four hundred pounds. With this caravan they took their winding pathway over the Allegheny mountains, full of hope to open a new home in the wilderness for themselves and their posterity. Oh! Here I cannot help but shed tears on reflection of how they must have felt leaving the land of their birth and going to a wilderness of savages.
My impression is that Uncle Chorpening and Walter did not come until 1780. Uncle C.’s first improvement was the same ground still occupied by buildings on the old Chorpening farm: Walter’s I am not able to describe.
Harmon Husband, according to my best recollection, came the next summer after father. He came with his son Isaac. He rode a sorrel stallion, his little son riding on the same horse. He gave his name as Harman Scapedeath, and his son’s as Tuppy. He located were the old orchard now remains, no doubt still visible, adjoining town on the north. He used to call often at father’s; they were always good friends, and it was considered quite a treat by the old gentleman to partake of a meal cooked by a woman, as he and Tuppy kept bachelor’s hall. He used to tell his experience on this wise: He would put his potatoes in the hot ashes after breakfast, and at noon scrape them out with a stick. Often they did not relish well, and he would put them back in the ashes and go to work for several hours remarking as he went, “They will taste better by-and by,” and they always did. He said it always improved their taste by working and prolonging the time between meals. These little dry jokes over his potato meals he enjoyed very much, as did also my father and mother.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Old Jamy Black settled about the same time my father did, on the farm Judge Black’s father lived on in the Stony Creek Glades.
Reports of Indian depredations and massacres in Ligonier valley and elsewhere kept the settlement in constant apprehension, and many of them, taking their cattle along, left the country for a time. These were trying times on women and children-at night the cattle bellowing, horses neighing, and the whole neighborhood stock concentrated in one drove, and these crowded and pressed forward on a crooked path, with the fear of an attack in the rear or an ambush in front. Some took the trail by Bedford and McConnell’s valley, and others went by Cumberland and Hancock. During these frequent alarms the neighbors built a stockade of split timber fifteen feet high around my father’s house and spring, deeming it the best situation for defense. They could occupy the upper part as a fort, while the women and children were safe in the under apartment, and could not be cut off from the water. This stockade stood there in part above the spring in my time. Brother Isaac one day, in his boyish freaks, cut down the last of the stockade. Mother reproved him for his vandalism-it grieved her to tears to see the last of her once great hope of safety destroyed. She had long preserved it as a relic of those days of anxiety and peril. Twenty years after, in opening a ditch above the spring to prevent rain flood from washing in, I came in contact with the remains of these timbers. I took some of the decayed remains into the house and showed them to my mother, when we had all the reminiscences of those fearful times rehearsed again, which impressed the facts and incidents on our minds, with tears for those who had shared the dangers but had passed away and left her alone in the world.
In the fall of 1779 the neighbors were all busy threshing and preparing to go to mill to get their flour ground out. My father had finished his threshing, and intended to go to Jones’ mill, which was at the foot of Laurel Hill, about twelve miles, this being the only mill within thirty or forty miles, but the evening before he was to start it commenced to snow, and by morning the snow was about three feet, and it continued to snow for forty successive days, more or less every day. The snow was from four to five feet average depth. Nobody was able to get to mill, and they lived on potatoes and boiled wheat in lieu of bread for six weeks, and it made a good substitute, and they never thought of starving. Some time in March, the snow having settled some, all hands turned out to break the path to the mill, and in four days they returned with flour. Doughnuts and flannel cakes no doubt tasted good; they had no waffle irons in those days.
I am now done with this narrative. There may be some errors as to dates, but nothing else; the facts are imprinted on my memory so clearly from having heard my mother repeat them so often during my childhood and mature age, always the same; they are as gospel facts to me. I have written hurriedly, of course, merely for the historian to glean from. If any questions are deemed necessary, I will cheerfully answer, and might be able to throw light on some things that seem dark to others.
We will now give some reminiscences of Mrs. Susan Ferner, who was a daughter of Abraham Good, a pioneer settler.
Good came from the Conococheague about 1783, and first settled in
On this farm was pointed out to Mrs. Ferner a grave, said to have been that of a child that was killed by a servant, whether by accident or design, is not known.
Sheep began to be brought into the settlement about the time Abraham Good came in, and he had a small flock of them. He enclosed them in a pen near his house every night, but even this precaution did not entirely protect them. On one occasion the sheep, having wandered a short distance away, were set on a broad day by wolves and seven of them killed before they could be driven off. Mr. Good then built a wolf pen, and succeeded in catching a very large one. With the aid of several young men the wolf was got out of the pen alive, his legs tied together, and with the help of a pole they carried him home. Here several young dogs that it was desired to train were turned on him, and the wolf so buffeted and worried that Mrs. Good finally came out of the house and interfered in the matter and compelled them to kill him.
About this time not a little excitement was caused in this particular neighborhood by reason of one George Baker blacking and painting himself, and so personating an Indian. In lonely places he would occasionally show himself to women and children and greatly frighten them. After enjoying this kind of sport for a time, he was finally found out. He was at once waited on and warned to lose no time in leaving the settlement, or to abide by the consequences. This notice, being very peremptory, he thought it best not to disregard it.
SLOUGHS AND DEER LICKS
There were sloughs and sinks in some parts of the neighborhood that were quite dangerous to cattle who had wandered into them, becoming mired and lost. A Mr. Heinle, living to the north of Good’s had a very fine horse that he turned out to graze one night, that he never saw again. It was tracked into one of these places and had entirely disappeared.
The first immigration of rats into these parts is said to have taken place about 1784 or ’85. They would seem to have been first observed by some boys about the stable or barn on the Bruner or Snyder place, that is within the present town of Somerset. The boys reported the presence of strange little animals about the place, and on some older persons going out to see what they were, they were at once recognized as being of the rat tribe.
There were natural licks or saline springs in different parts of the county that were frequented by deer, and still later by cattle after these had once been brought in. There were at least three of these springs, or licks, on the west branch of Cox’s creek. The second of them was at the mouth of Adams’ run, and the third one on the Barron farm, and not far from Cox’s camp. These licks long since disappeared. The best account of them is derived from Isaac Husband.
When I was a boy, in the early days of the settlement, my daily task was to hunt and bring home the cows. This was no pleasant task when the country was full of bears, wolves and panthers, and often having been unsuccessful or delayed in my search, I would not reach home until after darkness had set in, and the wolves howling around me. Sometimes the cattle would leave their regular walks and strike off to the licks on Cox’s creek. The one at the mouth of Adams’s run was the one most frequented by the cattle. This was a circular bed of about three rods in diameter. In this basin was a dozen or more of small, bubbling fountains. When not tramped up for several days, each of these would form a reservoir, or cone, by boiling up a muddy sediment that hardened in the sun, the water rising in the orifice until it attained a foot above the bed of the lick. When the cattle came they would thrust their noses into these cones up to the eyes, and suck up the water and mud, demolishing the conical mounds and trampling up the whole bed of the lick, which as soon as they left again commenced forming a new, to be again destroyed by the next herd. I used to taste the water often when visiting the licks, and when a reservoir had been standing for several days it was sensibly impregnated with salt. From some of these small reservoirs of waft water, gas issued, agitating the water by a constant bubbling. At the Aspen (upper) lick, the water from the brook overflowed the sources of the salt water, and I have seen the cattle stand in the water to their knees and thrust their noses down into the water and suck at the stream of salt water.
One evening I failed to find the cattle, and in the morning I went to the lower lick, where I found the remains of a large ox that had been killed by the wolves. On these daily excursions I was constantly meeting droves of deer, bears, wolves, and at chance times a panther would cross by path. I was always accompanied by one or more dogs, and was never molested by any animal. I have passed within a few feet of the black bear when going along a path through the thick, tangled brush, without any hostile manifestations on his part, from which circumstance I have always esteemed the black bear as not a dangerous animal unless wounded, starved, or otherwise irritated. Among bears, and I never knew any one being injured.
These licks were discovered by the deer, and were still resorted to by them after the settlement was well established, but their visits were generally at night. An adventure with a panther occurred at the upper lick, which was known as the Aspen lick. After the deer had become wild and shy, George Bruner, wishing to have some venison, went our one evening to watch the lick. He selected as his place of concealment a thick clump of bushes a few yards distant from the lick. Having arranged his gun and seated himself as comfortable as possible before it became too dark, he was patiently waiting for the approach of the deer. After waiting for some time he became aware of the stealthy approach of some animal, but could not tell in the darkness what it was, but finally it came close up and ensconced itself in the same butch of bushes so close to Bruner that he could feel its warm breath as it respired and as it settled down quietly for the same purpose that he had. He recognized who his neighbor was by a low cat-like whine. Bruner now began to realize his danger and the improbability of remaining long undiscovered in such close quarters with a panther. He had the prior title to the ground by right of occupancy, but would willingly have yielded it to the new claimant if a peaceful removal could have been guaranteed him, but he felt too doubtful of this to make the attempt. Bruner said that his excitement increased to such an extent that a tremor ran through him that caused his tin charger to strike against his powder and tingle like a tiny sheep bell. His gun had in some manner been tied down, pointing in the direction in which the deer would almost certainly come within range, when he expected to discharge it. Anxious to get rid of his neighbor by some means, he finally got his gun cocked and, pulling the trigger, if flashed directly under the panther’s nose, who, not relishing such fun, unceremoniously bounded off, while Bruner, feeling as little disposed to watch longer, left the deer to visit the lickunmolested.
[Source: The History of Bedford and Somerset Counties by Blackburn and Welfley, published in 1906. Chapter 1, pages 1- 9. Transcribed and donated by Batha Karr <email@example.com>. ]
Updated: August 25, 2005
Copyright © 2005. Somerset County, PAGenWeb Project.