Fred (Frederick Charles) Brenckman.

History of Carbon County, Pennsylvania; also containing a separate account of the several boroughs and townships in the county, online

. (page 2 of 44)
Online LibraryFred (Frederick Charles) BrenckmanHistory of Carbon County, Pennsylvania; also containing a separate account of the several boroughs and townships in the county, → online text (page 2 of 44)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

reached mid-ocean nearly every person on board was
sick, while many died. Late in Octoljer, the voyagers
rejoiced to see the low, woody banks of the Delaware,
and nine weeks after (putting the shores of England,
the Welcome ancliored at the i)ort of New Castle. As
the ship proceeded uj) the river, the perfume of the air
was like an orchard in full bloom. It was Indian
summer, and the trees and shrubs were clothed in gor-
geous colors, while many of the birds wore arrayed in


bright plumage. All nature appeared to be wearing
its richest dress on the coming of the new evangel of
peace and liberty.

From Newcastle, Penn proceeded to Upland, where
Chester now is. Ere long he reached the mouth of
Schuylkill, and four miles above this point the prow
of the Welcome was turned up Dock creek, which was
deep enough to enter, besides having a low, sandy
beach, where a landing could easily be effected. Here
Penn went ashore. He was on the site selected by
his commissioners for the provincial capital. He was
everywhere received with demonstrations of joy. Penn
met the people as though they were his children, his
mild and shining face reflecting the serenity of his
spirit and goodness of his heart.

Markham and the commissioners had bought land
of the Indians before Penn's arrival and the process
of settlement was already going on. Plans were now
perfected for the building of the proposed city. Its
name, form, streets, docks and open spaces were put
on paper, very much as the famous ancient cities of
the east were planned by their royal builders. Accord-
ing to the provisions of this design, Philadelphia was
to cover, with its houses, squares and gardens, twelve
square miles.

Having now fairly started his enterprise, Penn
turned his thoughts to the Indians. Putting aside all
ceremony, he won their hearts by his confiding and
familiar speech. He walked with them in the forests
and sat with them on the ground to watch their young
men dance. He joined in their feasts, and ate their
roasted acorns and hominy. They called him the Great
Onas, and were delighted with his companionship.

If tradition be true, his most famous meeting with
the Indians was at Shackamaxon, or the place of eels.


Tliis was a natural aini)liitlieatre shaded by a large
elm tree, uuder the graceful branchej^" of which friendly
nations had met and smoked the i)ij)e of peace long be-
fore the landing of the palefaces on the Delaware.
Dense masses of cedar, pine and chestnut spread far
away on every side, cut by the noble river, whose
crystal waters ran slowly to the sea.

The treaty which was there made was not fortified
by oaths and seal?. On both sides it was ratified with
yea; and unlike most treaties, this was kept.

The same year that Penn arrived, twenty-three ves-
sels brought from two thousand to three thousand
emigrants of various faiths and nationalities into the
province, most of them landing at Chester and at
Philadelphia, Some of these came in advance of Penn.
While building their home?, they dwelt in caves and
rude huts, sulTering but little from hardshij) and dis-

Even at that early day, the population of Pennsyl-
vania was cosmo])olitan in character. The lure which
accounted for this varied national rej)resentatiou in
the beginning of her history was the wealth of liberty
and freedom that was extended to all comers. At a
later date, the added attraction of the wealth of her
forests, fields and mines in(luce(l men from every clime
to build their homes within her boundaries. Naturallv,
from the first day of his landing, Penn found j)lenty to
do. Much of his attention was given to the new city
rapidly building on the banks of the Delaware. He
visited New York and its governor, as a mark of re-
spect to his friend, the Duke of York, also going to
I'altimore in a vain attempt to adjust a dispute con-
cerning the boundary line between l^ennsylvania and
Maryland. He preached in semi-weekly meetings of
the Quakers, and served his term as a member of com-


mittees in their work of organization. Numerous in-
dividual claims respecting land and settlers were
brought to him for disposition. In addition to the
three counties in the lower peninsula (now Delaware),
he laid out three more in Pennsylvania, Philadelphia,
Chester and Bucks. All of these stretched almost in-
definitely westward.

On December 6, he was ready for a meeting of the
assembly, when representatives from these six counties
were collected to perfect the government. In a brief
session of three days, held at Upland, several impor-
tant laws were passed, one of which was an act to
naturalize the Dutch, Swedes, and other foreigners.

Penn's wife being ill, and other considerations de-
manding his presence in Europe, he sailed from the
province, August 16, 1684, feeling that his "Holy Ex-
periment" was now successfully launched. In bidding
the red men farewell, he begged them to drink no more
fire water, forbade his own people to sell them brandy
and arms, and obtained their promise to live in peace
and amity with each other and with the white men.
At this time about seven thousand settlers were living
in the province. Of this number, one-third were in

The government during his absence was carried on
by five commissioners, chosen from the provincial

Upon returning to England, Penn labored unceas-
ingly in the cause of freedom and religious toleration.
Many persons who had been imprisoned for their
opinions were released through his intercession. He
had always intended to return to the province, but the
cour&e of events led him to defer another voyage from
time to time. Being left a widower, he, in January,
1696, married Hannah Callowhill, the daughter of a


Bristol arquaintanco of many yearp. She afterwards
became a urominent fi^ire in the affairs of the colony.

I>urin^ l^enn's Idiip: absence from the province,
affairs did not alwavs run smoothly, friction in the
government and dissatisfaction among the settlers
finally making his return imjierative.

Jle came in 1()1)9, bringing with him his new wife,
and fully expecting to spend the remainder of his days
on the banks of the Delaware. During the ensuing two
years he was busily engaged in sha})ing the govern-
ment to meet the needs and demands of the rapidly
growing population of the province. Penn's first act
on assuming the government was to pulilish a procla-
mation against pirates and contraband traders. The
robber sj>irit was rampant on the seas in those days,
and the shores and bays of the Delaware were highly
favored j>laces for these marauders of the deep, be-
cause the government, being dominated by the Friends,
was disinclined to use force to ca])ture or reyte] them.

Penn scarcely began to feel settled in the stately
mansion which had been built for him during his ab-
sence, when he received news from England requiring
his immediate return. Among other things, his ene-
mies had introduced a bill in the House of Lords for
seizing his province and vesting it in the crown.

Ap soon as the Indians heard that Onas was to
return, they came from all ])arts of the country to take
leave of him. They had a premonition that he would
never return to them, and clung more closely to his
wor<ls because they feared that his children would not
treat them in the same kindly way. Events proved
that their fears were well founded in both respects.

Penn sailed from Philadelphia on the first of
November, 1701, landing at Portsmouth six weeks
later. During his absence Parliament had tried to get


hold of his province, and though failing, had succeeded
in passing an act requiring the assent of the crown to
the appointment of a deputy governor.

Penn'g closing years were spent in pecuniary dis-
tress. He had expended vast sums of money on Penn-
sylvania and on the oppressed of his sect, besides hav-
ing neglected his private affairs. To make matters
worse, he was shamefully robbed by his steward,
Philip Ford, who took advantage of Penn's confidence
to ruin him.

Several times he narrowly escaped losing title to
Pennsylvania as a result of financial difficulties. In
1712 Penn sustained a paralytic stroke, from the
effects of which he never fully recovered. He passed
away at Rushcomb, Buckinghamshire, England, on
July 30, 1718, aged seventy-four years. He was the
noblest character in America's colonial history, while
his name is justly enshrined in the hearts of men as
that of the greatest champion of human rights of his

The widow of Penn became the executrix of his es-
tate during the minority of his children, and was for a
period the nominal head of the colonial government.
While she administered the affairs of the estate with
much shrewdness, the patriarchial relation which had
subsisted between Penn and his colony was at an end,
because the interest which his heirs took in the
province was of a mercenary character.

Especially noticeable was this change in the treat-
ment accorded the Indians in arranging for the pur-
chase of their lands.

The charter which King Charles gave Penn made
him the largest land owner in the world. It gave him
a legal title to 47,000,000 acres; and had he been so
minded, he might have taken forcible possession of the


country. He was honest and broad-minded enough,
liowever, to recognize tlie faet that while the King per-
haps liad a U^gal right to transfer the title to this large
domain to him, he liad no moral right to do so, the
English claim to the territory resting on the flimsy
assertion that Henry Hudson, the discoverer of the
Delaware bay, although cruising in the service of the
l)utcli at the time, was born an Englishman. Penn's
sense of honor did not ]>ermit him to wrest the soil of
Pennsylvania by force from the })eoi)le to whom God
and nature had given it, nor to establish his title in
blood. He considered the King's charter as nothing
more than a conveyance of the right to preemption,
and by purchases and treaties secured his real title
from the al)origines. During Penn's life-time only
a small (piantity of land along the Delaware had been
purcluised of the Indians. It was not enough to en-
danger their means of subsistence, and if a new claim-
ant ai)peared from time to time, something more was
given to satisfy him, and a deed was taken from him.

According to tradition, one of Penn's i)urchases was
to include land "as far back as a man could walk in
three days."

Penn and several Indians started at the mouth of
the Neshaminy creek, not far from Philadelphia, to
walk out the i)urcliase. They walked leisurely, after
the Indian manner, sitting down occasionally to smoke
their j»ii»es. cat biscuit an<l cheese, and drink wine.
After going a <lay and a half, Penn marked a s})ruce
tree, near the ])resent site of Wrightstown, Bucks
county, informing his com])anions that the distance
traversed would give liim enough land for his present
needs, leaving the remainder to be ascertained at a
future day.


This arrangement, while entirely creditable to Penn,
who did not show the disposition of the land grabber,
eventually proved ruinous to the Indians. The walk
was not completed during Penn's life-time, while the
settlers attracted to his province kept crowding
farther and farther into the Indian country. When
the Indians protested to the proprietaries that their
lands were being usurped and their hunting grounds
despoiled, they were always reminded of the addi-
tional land to which the whites were entitled by virtue
of the uncompleted walk of William Penn, and the
treaty which he had negotiated. Matters were allowed
to drag along in this unsatisfactory manner until 1737,
when, in response to the demands of the Indians it was
agreed that the walk should be finished, and the
boundaries of the purchase definitely defined. While
negotiations were being conducted, the proprietaries
caused a preliminary or trial walk to be made to ascer-
tain how much land could be secured. In order that
the longest distance possible might be covered, axe-
men were sent ahead to cut a pathway through the
forests. The men who had held out best in the trial
walk were those selected by the proprietaries to make
the decisive effort. Edward Marshall, James Yeates,
and Solomon Jennings, all noted for their powers of
endurance, were the men called upon to make the walk.
Timothy Smith, sheriff of Bucks county, and John
Chapman, a surveyor, were engaged to accompany the
trio on horseback and to carry provisions and stimu-
lants for them. It was arranged that the Indians
should send some of their young men along to see that
the walk was fairly and honestly made.

The starting point was fixed at a large chestnut tree,
near the Wrightstown meeting-house, in Bucks county,


and the walkers were promised five pounds in money
and five hundred acres in land.

Early on the morning of the 19th of September, 1737,
the day agreed upon for the walk, Marshall, Yeates,
and Jennings, their hands touching the tree, like run-
ners about to begin a race, waited for the command to
start. As the sun appeared upon the horizon, the
signal was given by Sheriff Smith, and the men
started. Yeates led the way with a light step; next
came Jennings and two Indian walkers, while Marshall
came last. He swung a hatchet in his hand and walked
with an easy, careless lope.

The walkers, stimulated by the promised reward
seemed untiring. The party stopped fifteen minutes
for lunch with an Indian trader named Wilson near
what is now the northern boundary line of Bucks
county, after which the walk was continued. The
Lehigh was forded a mile below Bethlehem, and cross-
ing the Blue mountains at Smith's Gap, near what is
now the southeastern corner of Carbon county, all
save Jennings slept at night on the northern slope. He
had given out before reaching the Lehigh, and although
he succeeded in reaching his home, which was situated
near the point where Allentown was started about a
quarter of a century later, he never fully recovered his
health. Yeates collapsed at the foot of the mountain
when the walk was resumed on the morning of the
second day. When taken up he was entirely blind ; he
died three days later.

Marshall, however, held out until noon, when he
threw himself at full length upon the ground and
grasped a sapling which wae marked as the end of the

The distance covered during the course of the walk
is variously estimated, some placijog it as low as fifty-


five miles, while others aver it to have been as high as
eighty-six miles. Naturally, the Indians who accom-
panied the walkers were disgusted by the performance.
One of their number, in speaking about it afterwards,
remarked : "No sit down to smoke — no shoot a squir-
rel ; but lun, lun, lun all day long. ' '

When the walk has been finished, it still remained
to run the line to the Delaware. The Indians main-
tained that, starting from the extreme northwesterly
point reached by Marshall, the line should be run
straight to the Delaware. Instead of this it was
slanted northward to such a degree as to take in about
twice at much territory as would have been included by
the other arrangement. Again, while the walk had
been made through Smith's Gap, terminating near the
Tobyhanna creek, on the borders of Monroe and Car-
bon counties, the arbitrary line was run through
Lehigh Gap, ending in what is now Penn Forest town-
ship, directly opposite Mauch Chunk.

The lines included nearly all the lands within the
forks of the Deleware (i. e., between the Delaware and
the Lehigh) and practically all the valuable territory
south of the Blue Kidge.

The Minisink flats, celebrated as hunting grounds of
the Indians, were contained in that portion of the pur-
chase lying north of the Lehigh, and the aborigines
parted with these very reluctantly. They rightly felt
that they had been robbed in the whole transaction,
flatly refusing to move from the land which was now
claimed by the whites, but which they still considered
their own. Finally the assistance of the Iroquois was
asked to get them out. The Iroquois had long held the
Minisinks in bondage as women, a most humiliating
condition. Responding to the summons to come and
remove their vassals, Canassatego, the spokesman of


the Iroquois, thus addressed the despairing Dela-
wares: "How came you to take it upon you to sell
lands at all I We conquered j^ou; we made women of
you. For this land you claim you have been furnished
with clothes, meat and drink, and now you want it
again, like the children that you are. We charge you to
remove instantly; we don't give you liberty to think
about it. You are women. Take the advice of a wise
man and go at once ! ' '

Notwithstanding their abject condition, the Dela-
wares still had a sense of wrong as keen as in the days
of their greatness; but from the imperious judgment
of the Iroquois there was no appeal. The Minisinks
sorrowfully made preparations to go to Wyoming, and
feeling that they would never return, burnt their huts
to signify their final departure. The message of the
Iroquois was effective; the land was given over to the
whites, and one of the most villainous transactions in
the early annals of Pennsylvania was consummated.
Thomas Penn, one of the sons of William Penn by his
second wife, was a prominent figure in this outrage
against the Indians. Such, in brief, is the story of the
disgraceful ** Walking Purchase." From this time
forth, the Delawares cherished an implacable hatred
toward those who had robbed them of their birth-right.
Years later, when the posture of affairs gave them the
longed for opportunity, the Delawares took their re-
venge, and the woeful destruction of human life and
property which took place on the Blue mountain
frontier was the heavy price exacted for the unscrupu-
lous conduct of the proprietaries.

The Penns acquired title to the major portion of the
soil of the province by five great treaties with the
Indians. The last and largest purchase made by them


was consummated in 1768, comprising an irregular
belt of land extending from the extreme northeastern
to the extreme southwestern part of the province.
Usually the lines of these purchases were very vague
and ill-defined.

All, or nearly all, of the territory now contained
within the borders of Carbon county was included in
the purchase of 1749, comprising a narrow belt of land
running diagonally from Pike to Dauphin county.
This purchase was made from the Six Nations, and not
from the Deleware occupants of the soil, the price paid
being five hundred pounds.

As time passed on and as the population grew, it
began to be felt that the old system of proprietary
ownership was inconsistent with the best interests and
happiness of the people. Soon after the breaking out
of the Revolutionary War, this feeling grew to a con-

Pennsylvania adopted a constitution in 1776, and
soon thereafter a series of acts were passed, vesting
the estates of the proprietaries in the commonwealth,
and the fudal relation created by the charter of King
Charles was dissolved. This action was taken directly
in response to the recommendation of the Continental
Congress, which urged all the colonies to form new
governments which should be independent of the Eng-
lish crown and foreign proprietaries. At the time the
divesting acts were passed, the proprietaries were two
grandsons of William Penn, the founder — John, the
son of Richard, and John, the son of Thomas Penn.
The state voted them 130,000 pounds by way of com-
pensation, which was paid with interest within eight
years after the close of the war. Besides this sum, the
Penn family received additional compensation in the


form of an annuity of 4,000 pounds from the British
government. Strange as it may seem, this annuity was
paid to the descendants of the founder of Pennsylvania
until recent years.



The Christian society known as the Moravian
Brethren had its origin among the religious movements
in Boliemia which followed the martyrdom of John
Hu£s at the hands of the Council of Constance. Huss
was burned at the stake, and his ashes thrown into the
Rhine in the year 1415, while the history of the society
which was formed by his followers can be traced back
to 1457.

When Luther appeared, the Moravians numbered
about two hundred thousand people; but in the deso-
lating wars which followed, they became almost ex-

Standing forth prominently among the leaders of
this society was Nicolaus Ludwig, Count Zinzendorf.
He was descended from an ancient Austrian family,
and was born May 26, 1700, at Dresden. Educated at
Halle and at the university of Wittenberg, he had
planned to follow the career of a diplomat. Subse-
quent to his marriage to the Countess Erdmuth, how-
ever, he embraced the faith of the Moravians, and re-
solved to devote his life and fortune to the spread of
the gospel. In 1722 he offered his persecuted brethren
an asylum on his estate. A number came, and thus
Herrnhut became the nucleus of a new growth. The
original Moravians were Slavonic ; the revival brought
in the Germans. Unlike many of the sects, the Mora-
vians had no distrust of learning, and they formed a
cultured, devoted society for the propagation of Chris-
tianity at home and abroad.



Persecuted in the old world, they sought an asylum
in the new. Count Zinzendorf obtained a grant of
land in Georgia, and in 1735 a settlement was begun.
Under the leadership of Bishop Nitschmann a church
was organized the following year. Ere long war be-
tween England and Spain interfered with the work,
and the Moravians, refusing to bear arms because to
do so was contrary to their religious principles, emi-
grated to Philadelphia with George Whitefield, the
famous preacher. They bought a domain of five thou-
sand acres at the Forks of the Delaware, and began to
build a large school house for negro children.

The land was purchased by Whitefield, but nomi-
nally it belonged to the Countess von Zinzendorf. A
question of dictrine soon caused a rupture, and the
Moravians were ordered to leave. At this stage of
affairs Bishop Nitschmann returned from Europe and
purchased Bethlehem, an extensive tract on the Lehigh
river, ten miles south of Whitefield 's land, and the
colony again began work. Afterwards, Whitefield 's
land was also purchased, and called the Barony of
Nazareth. On this tract several settlements were or-
ganized. The expenses of emigration remaining un-
paid, the Brethren united in a semi-communistic as-
sociation, Bethlehem forming the center. It was a
communism not of goods, but of labor. Each settler
was free to choose or reject the plan, while retaining
exclusive control of his property. Participants gave
time and work, receiving in return the necessaries and
comforts of life. This system was called economy, and
was admirably adapted to their peculiar wants. It
continued for twenty years, sufficing to pay the ex-
penses of ordinary emigration, to furnish the colony
with daily support, and to maintain a mission among
the Indians, besides an extensive itinerary among the


white settlers from Maine to Georgia. The Moravians
were a missionary church.

From the beginning they sought to Christianize the
Indians; nor were their efforts entirely unavailing.
Believers in peace, like the Friends, and making their
professions good by daily practices, they gained the
confidence of the aborigines by treating them with in-
flexible honesty, thus preparing the way for the ac-
ceptance of their religious teachings. For many
years the Moravians continued their work with vary-
ing success. Intemperance and wars between the In-
dians and the whites were the chief hinderances.

Count Zinzendorf came to Pennsylvania late in
1741, being accompanied by his eldest daughter, Be-
nigna. He visited the Brethren's settlement on the
Lehigh on December 24, and named it Bethlehem.
During the ensuing six months, animated by religious
zeal, he traveled through southeastern Pennsylvania,
supplying destitute and isolated neighborhoods with
the means of grace and education, organized churches,

Online LibraryFred (Frederick Charles) BrenckmanHistory of Carbon County, Pennsylvania; also containing a separate account of the several boroughs and townships in the county, → online text (page 2 of 44)