John Stearns Minard.

Recollections of the log school house period, and sketches of life and customs in pioneer days online

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wagon shop, cooper's shop, blacksmith and shoe shop, with a
tannery in process of erection. A new stage route had been
established, with Bugville for one of its terminals, and the city
the other, the distance covered being just a good days drive
over fairly passable roads; the two stages meeting for dinner
at the Half Way Tavern at Oak Hill.

Joe Jackson, one of the drivers, and Bill Moseley, had come
to be great friends and boon companions. Joe had a brother
who was a printer in the city, and he persuaded Bill to let him
get his brother to print some bills for him, claiming that he
could get it done a little better and a little cheaper than anyone
else, and would bring them out free of charge. Bill's pride
was appealed to, as it would be the first turkey shoot to be ad-
vertised with printed bills in all that section.

Joe did the business up in good shape, as appears by
the bill.

The undersigned will put up— 100 GOOD FAT TURKEYS near

The Eagle Tavern, Bugville,
to be shot at by all who wish a good Christmas or New Year's
Dinner, for a little money.

Resting shot at 40 rods 10c

Off-hand shot at 40 rods 5c

Resting shot at 30 rods 15c

Off-hand shot at 30 rods 10c

Any shot drawing blood takes the bird.


Bill Jones of Hardscrabble, and Sam Weller of Beaver Mea-
dows, are barred, but may shoot at double rates if they wish
to. Shoot to begin at one o'clock in the afternoon of Decem-
ber 23, 1835.

Bugville, Dec. 15, 1835. WILLIAM MOSELEY.

Jones anJ We ier oi course were not well pleased, but they
had to stand it. It was however somewhat consoling, as it
justified their claim to be the best marksmen in the neighbor-
hood. Mosely didn't care to sell his turkeys for 5 and 10 cents
a piece. The bills were industriously; posted and the shoot
came off as advertised. The day was fine, and the crowd was
large. Three or four city sports, Joe Jackson's particular
friends, came out in the stage the day before, and when Dea-
con Mosher awoke that morning, he was surprised to find a
good fire started, and Billey Bowlegs, Sam Sundown and Tom
Trimsharp, Indians from the reservation, in full possession of
the kitchen, having arrived sometime after midnight, and find-
ing the door unfastened, a habit of the deacon's of which,
doubtless, they were aware. The Indians were expert in
shooting deer.

The shooting began promptly at the appointed time, and,
for a while, was very lively. It was indeed a noisy afternoon
for Bugville. With an eye to business, Moseley had, through
his agents, so largely promoted the sale of drinks at the bar of
the Eagle, that by 3 o'clock, it looked as if he would take in
money enough to net a good price for all his turkeys, and still
have half of them left.

Just then there came a load of six men from the Brier Hill
settlement, nearly twenty miles away, every one of them a
crack shot. Bill knew of them, but it never occurred to him
that the wide publicity the printed bills would give his turkey-
shoot, would attract marksmen from so far, and they were not
barred. The captain of the Brier Hill shooters, Jim Swanzy,


TOM TRiMSHARP, on his way to the Turkey Shoot.
Ugh! Golly! Gess me shoot em sum turkey too-hey!

was a full match in every particular for Bill Moseley, and had
through a spy, secured the exact measurements of the distances


at which Moseley's turkeys were to be shot at, and their guns
and charges had been»thoroughly tested, and the men were as
thoroughly sober. (Parenthetically it may be remarked that
the distances at which the turkeys were placed were sometimes
found to be much longer than was claimed by the owners).
The old crowd became hilarious, and the frequency of drinks
began to tell on their nerves, and many wild shots were the
result. At once the Brier Hill fellows began to shoot, and the
birds were picked off with amazing rapidity.

Bill's "heart was in his boots" in short order, at seeing his
turkeys go so cheap, and his friends showed their friendship by
making every effort to induce the Brier Hillers to drink, and
were ready to treat to any extent. But they stoutly refused,
expressing their thanks, and saying "they were too busy just
then, but would accomodate them when they got through
shooting", and they kept right on till the last turkey was put
up and won, hardly giving the other fellows a chance. At one
time Bill's friends suggested to him that a number of birds
might in some way be held back, secreted or taken away, and
something in that line was actually attempted: but the Brier
Hill chaps were "on to their job". Their spy detected and
stopped it. He had kept a strict count of all the birds shot and
would allow no fooling.

Forty eight turkeys were won by the sharp rifles of Brier
Hill. Some were killed outright, others were maimed so as
to make it an act of mercy to kill them, while a full half of the
number were only slightly hurt, and some required an expert
to detect blood.

Throwing the dead turkeys into the wagon-box, and the
others into a large dry-goods box, all the arrangements for the
home journey were completed ; when, as they promised in the
beginning, they were ready to drink with the Bugville chaps,
who could not — with good grace — withdraw their offers. So
they repaired to the tavern and the spacious bar-room was soon


filled with the crowd, and whiskey straight, hot " Tom and
Jerry," toddy and flip and cider, flowed freely. If the Brier
Hill fellows were good shooters, they were as good patrons
of the bar, and while in a near by building, a lot of turkeys
won by the Butternut Flats fellows, were being raffled for by
one party of men, while others were engaged in the old time
practice of "snufBng the candle", that is, shooting at a lighted
candle for a mark, they continued to imbibe, to tell stories, to
sing, dance and have a jolly good time.

As the hours passed, the moon showed full above the hills,
audit was time for the Brier Hill fellows to start for home.
But they were in no condition to go. Some were too full for
utterance, others filled up just far enough to swash about,
while no one of the party was capable of driving the team.
This was Bill Moseley's opportunity, and he was quick to em-
brace it. He felt sort of worked up over the result, and now
saw a chance for revenge, and possibly for recovering some of
his turkeys. His lieutanants were ready to carry out his plans.
For the first four or five miles the road, over which the Brier
Hill people had to travel, was in a horrid condition, and, in
places, almost impassable. So Bill, in the goodness (?) of his
large heart, offered to send an escort of two men who were
entirely sober, one to drive, and the other to help in bad places
till they should get to where the road was better, and possibly
also until they were sobered up.

They started. It was indeed a queer load. The dead tur-
keys, the live turkeys, making more or less noise, the drunken
men, some hardly able to sit up, and the hilarious ones who
wouldn't keep still, and made lots of noise. They made fair
progress, however, till they reached a bad place along a dug-
way, where the driver made some miscalculation and allowed a
wheel to get too near the bank, when the conglomeration of
live and dead turkeys and more or less drunken men, was pre-
cipitated some fifteen feet below, among the shrubs, bushes


and tree tops. The horses, by some fortunate breakage of
irons, kept the road with the driver who, at the time, was
plodding along afoot.

The miserable dry-goods box, a rickety old thing at the
best, went to pieces, and the turkeys were liberated and scat-
tered in every direction. It was near morning before the
wagon was back in the road, but the men from Brier Hill were
so completely sobered as to resume their way with their dead
turkeys, and the loss of the live ones was more than balanced
by their good luck in escaping serious injuries.

Mike Parsons and Dave Sanborn, Bill Moseley's men, at
once retraced their steps to Bugville, and informed him just
where turkey shooting might be found good for a short time:
and Bill of course was in condition to profit by the knowledge
thus gained.

Two of the city chaps secured a turkey each, after expend-
ing many shots: but they were out just for fun and they made
a lot of it for themselves and the whole crowd, who gazed
with curious interest on their cityfied clothing, polished boots
and queer manners. Of the Indians, Tom Trimsharp was the
only one who won a bird, for though good shoots for deer,
they were soon gloriously drunk, and in no condition for
shooting, though they wasted many shots, and so had so much
less money to spend for snick-e-i.

Ephraim Thornton, "mine host" of the Eagle, counted con-
siderable revenue from the barn, meals and drinks: indeed he
was ever after known to brag of it as the best day he ever had.
Bill Moseley was well suited with the final outcome, and gen-
eral satisfaction prevailed. Even Deacon Mosher, who had to
harbor and endure the Indians the night after, was pleased
with the first turkey shoot ever advertised with printed bills in


During the Log School House
. Period, the old Militia System of the
state was in operation, and all the
able bodied white male citizens, be-
tween 18 and 45 years of age, were
held liable to do military duty. All
the officers of each brigade or battal-
ion were required to rendezvous two
days in succession in June, July or
August, for drill, under the brigade
inspector. A day was also appointed
for the commissioned officers and
musicians of the regiment to meet for
drill. This was usually the day af-
ter the last mentioned gathering. A
general training, or parade, and re-
view of each brigade occurred once
in each year.
"General training" was the day of all days m the year's cal-
endar, that was looked forward to with the liveliest anticipa-
tions, by old and young, all ages and conditions. The small
boy of the time, who had succeeded in gathering a few pennies,
would extract more real enjoyment from the gingerbread he
could buy with them, than the lads of our time get from as


many shillings, or perhaps dollars, expended in the fashionable
nicknacks of the day. Most everything else had, for the time,
to give way for general training. All turned out to have a
jolly good time.

The commanding officer appointed the time, place of meet-
ing, and extent of the parade ground. It was by his permis-
sion only, that spirituous liquors were sold on the grounds.
"Total abstinence" on these occasions was not the rule.

The words of another will be used in the following humor-
ous description of the general training and the crowds attend-
ing. Of course the account is only typical of the average of
such parades and crowds, and is probably only applicable to
the last years of the old general training period. Possibly it
may be slightly overdrawn, but the reader can allow the usual
discount, and thus get pretty near to the actual truth in regard
to those gatherings after the old militia system had fallen into
disrepute, and was made the subject of much ridicule, mirth
and frivolity.

"Although the companies exhibited the elite of our regimen-
tal splendors, glittering with tinsel and flaunting with feathers,
a more heterogenous and unsoldierly parade could hardly be
imagined. There were the elect from the mountains, who
sometimes marched to the rendezvous barefooted, carrying
their boots and soldier clothes in a bundle: the ambitious cob-
blers, tailors and plowboys from the cross road hamlets, and
remote rural districts, short, tall, fat, skinny, bow-legged,
sheep-shanked, cock-eyed, hump-shouldered and sway-backed,
equipped by art as economically, awkwardly and variously, as
they were endowed by nature: uniformed in contempt of all
uniformity, armed with old flint-lock muskets, horseman's
carbines, long squirrel rifles, double barrelled shotguns and
bell muzzled blunderbusses, with side arms of as many differ-
ent patterns, from the old dragoon saber of Harry Lee's Le-
gion, to the slim basket hilted rapier which had probably



graced the thigh of some of our French allies in the Revolu-

"The officers of the volunteer companies, on the other hand,
were generally selected for their handsome appearance and
martial bearing, and shone with a certain elegance of equip-
ment, each in the uniform pertaining to his company. There
was also a sprinkling of veterans of 1812, recognizable by a
certain martinet precision in their deportment, and a shadow of

contempt for their crude comrades, but quick to resent any
extraneous comment derogatory to the service. A city dandy
who undertook to ridicule the old fashioned way in which some
officers carried their swords, was silenced by the snappish re-
ply: 'Young man, I've seen the best troops of (xreat Britian
beaten by men who carried their swords that way'.


"This harlequinade of equipment, costume and charactef,
was duly paraded twice a day, marched through the streets,
and put through its maneuvres on the green common adjoin-
ing the village, much to the satisfaction of all emancipated
school boys, ragmuffins, idlers, tavern-keepers, and cake and
beer vendors, and somewhat, perhaps, to the weariness of in-
dustrious mechanics who had apprentices to manage, and busy
housewives who depended on small boys for help".

Before 1850 the general training, and the olTficers' and com-
pany drills had so deteriorated as to become farcial and mirth-
provoking in the extreme, fully matching in some instances the
parade of fantastics in a modern Fourth of July procession.

Sometimes if too much of the ardent had been indulged in —
those in the ranks cut up all sorts of pranks— the musicians al-
so were sometimes affected, as witness those in the picture,
particularly the fifer.

The dress of the officers and trappings of the horses were
gaudy with gilt and tinsel. The old military chapeau, or the
tall hat, surmounted with showy white and red feathers, the
galloping to and fro, and the flashing of swords in the bright
sunlight, made an enduring impression on the small boy of the
time, the old man of to-day: and many an octogenarian will
still insist that The General Training aft'orded more real genuine
pleasure, the old fashioned circus possibly excepted, than any
of the events of his boyhood days.

During the years of general traning, the big woods were full
of men carrying military titles: scarce a town but had its gen-
erals and as for colonels, captains and lieutenants, why every
settlement, every hill and every hollow and four corners had
them, enough and to spare.

Jonathan Thatcher.


The pioneers of Western
New York were not all saints
by any means. Far from it.
It may be also, that they aver-
aged no better than the pres-
ent population, if indeed as
well. It must be confessed
there were many extraordinary
characters among the settlers.
Some had made records as In-
dian fighters, some had been
made captives by the Indians
and had been assimilated, as it
were, into their tribes, and giv-
en names, like Horatio Jones
and Jasper Parrish. Some
perhaps had been tories and
took part with Indians and
British in the Revolution, and it is barely possible that the
grand old woods furnished asylum for an occasional horse
thief who was wanted in staid old Connecticut or Vermont, or
villains of deeper dye who had fled from justice and sought re-
fuge in this new country.

Another class who, if not very many, were numerous enough
to supply every settlement with more than was wanted, were a
lot of ne'er-do-wells who were not noted for piety, cleanliness


nor industry, nor had been famous for bloody encounters with
the Indians. Some of this class were trappers and made a pre-
carious livelihood by trading skins for powder and clothing,
and some were farmers in a small way. All of them however
were rovers and idlers.

Of this class was Jonathan Thatcher, as curious an old fel"
low as ever roamed through the woods. At various times he
lived in Hume, Caneadea and Belfast, Allegany County, N. Y.,
but his fame covered all the upper Genesee country and spread
considerably east and west: and from 1835 to 1865 he was more
generally known all over the territory indicated, than any other
man. He was the country's most extraordinary character. It
was his habit to roam about constantly. Indeed, such was his
reputation in this respect, that a man once offered to make a
wager that he could start four men at the same time, from the
corners at Fillmore, each taking a different road, and that each
of them before going two miles, would meet Jonathan That-
cher, and that as many as two of them would meet Betsey his
wife, trudging along behind, and no one dared to take the bet!

Jonathan had no remarkable talents. He certainly was not
thrifty. As the picture indicates he was not over particular
about his dress. No one ever presumed to call Jonathan a
dude, and the one thing he hated above everything else, was
soap. When soap was mentioned it would nearly throw him
into convulsions. He didn't like it hard or soft, hot or cold,
white or brown, plain or colored. He said it didn't agree with
him, but he couldn't prove it, for no one knew of his ever try-
ing it. No one who ever saw this wild man of the woods was
able to forget him; and those to whoai Jonathan did not ap-
pear in their dreams were counted lucky. Thatcher is suppos-
ed to be one of the twenty historic families which, tradition
says, an enterprising land speculator introduced as settlers in a
certain township on the Holland Purchase, as a condition of a
bargain with Joseph Ellicott, the land agent at Batavia, where-


by he was to have a large tract of land at greatly reduced
prices. The settlers moved in, the colony was established, and
Ellicott sent a man to investigate. This man reported that he
found a colony of twenty adult settlers, heads of families, but
"if hell were raked with a fine toothed comb, another such lot
could not be found".

Jonathan had two brothers. Alike and Jim, but neither
achieved the peculiar fame that he enjoyed. As to the ances-
try of the family, nothing trustworthy was ever learned. Mike
however one day, inadvertently let in a little light on this inter-
esting branch of the subject, but only in a negative way. A
neighbor, who was something of a wag, one day said: "Mike
there's a bad story started about you. It will hurt you if you
can't stop it, for people are beginning to believe it". What
is it?" inquired Mike. "Why" said the neighbor, "they are
saying that there is human blood in your veins". "It's a lie,
an infernal lie" said Mike, "and I can prove it. I can lick the

man that said it, too. There a'int a d d drop of human

blood in me, and never was".

Jonathan was a patriot. He said he was at Lundy's Lane
and fought and bled, and came near dying for his country.
When living near Belfast, Jonathan had a canoe, and one win-
ter it was frozen in the ice. A great thaw came on. The ice
breaking, Thatcher sought to secure his boat, when the swell-
ing current moved the large cake of ice, in which the canoe
was frozen, away ffom its moorings, and he was soon out
on the swiftly running flood at the mercy of the elements.
There was a dam a few miles below. Jonathan knew it,
and was fully aware of the gravity of the situation. As he
neared it, it is said he fervently prayed to God for deliver-
ance and promised never to do another wicked thing. The
dam was reached, the shock encountered in making the passage
parted the canoe from the ice, Thatcher clinging to it with all
the tenacity of a cat. By the help of some people who saw him


he was rescued from a watery grave. It was afterward told by
some of his rescuers, that as soon as Jonathan was thoroughly
assured of the fact that he was on terra firma, and safe, he ex-
claimed that "it was the d dest flood he ever got into".

A whole volume might be written of anecdotes and adven-
tures, reminiscent of Jonathan Thatcher, but for the purpose
of this sketch the foregoing must sufifice. As the years passed
Jonathan and his wife grew old and became debilitated and,
having no visible means of support, they were, against Jona-
than's strong protests, taken "over the hill to the poor house".
Their stay there was short. Subjected to a bath, housed in warm
rooms, clad with clean rainment and supplied with wholesome,
nourishing food, the change was so abrupt and decided, the
shock so great, their systems, which had survived so many
years of the old regime, gave way. Succumbing to the new,
and what the world calls better conditions, their natures with-
stood, for a few days only, the effects of the shock, and they
passed away.

No imposing shaft marks the resting place, nor gilded mau-
soleum received the remains of Jonathan Thatcher, yet his
name will be handed down to, and his memory kept green by,
generations yet unborn, who will gaze with a sort of listless
admiration on the proud columns which bear the names of
those of whom they have never heard, and are hardly curious
enough to inquire.

Note — This chapter appeared some years since in the Roch-
ester Post Express, and is the joint production of Mr. W. H.
Samson, the managing editor of that paper, and the author:
the first part of it being by Mr. Samson.

Red Jacket.

SA-CO-YA-WAT-HA. (He keeps them awake.)

At the great

Mil council or
treaty of Big
Tree in Sept-
ember 17 9 7,
when the In-
dians parted
with their title
to most of west-
ern New York,
to Robert Mor-
ris, nearly a
dozen reserva-
tions of more
or less extent,
in the immed-
iate vicinity of
their 'principal
villages, were
made. On
these reserva-
tions the In-
dians gathered and lived, and so, daring the earlier years of
the pioneer period, many of the settlers were close neighbors
with them. The relation on the whole was pleasant and many
of the pioneers became quite proficient in their language, and



were able to converse with them with but little restraint.

In some cases the children of Indian parents attended the
district schools, and made good progress in their studies. The
acquaintance between the whites and the Indians came to be
quite extensive, and the names of many of the more prominent
of the Indians have been handed down from one generation to
another, and are familiar to many still living. Always to be
first spoken of in such connection was the renowned orator
Red Jacket, a picture of whom heads this chapter. Aside from
being a wonderful orator, he was a much travelled man, and
frequently visited different parts of the country, generally on
foot and following the centuries old trails, though sometimes,
and always during his later years, he made his journeys astride
a pony.

In those years he sometimes rode his pony out from his
home near Buffalo to Batavia following "the white man's
trail" (the old stage road), and at the old Eagle Tavern would
engage in playing checkers, at which game it was said he was
quite an expert. Between games, potations of the white man's
fire water would be indulged in, and if the process of playing
and drinking continued long enough, his ability to play a sharp
game was considerably lessened. His wonderful power as an
orator was nearly equaled by his appetite for drink, and it has
been said that on several occasions he was known to pawn his
Washington melal, of which he was e-.pecially proud, and
which he prized very highly, and wore on all public occasions,
for liquor.

He was thoroughly opposed to the policy of selling the In-
dian lands, and made powerful speeches in support of his posi-
tion, nevertheless his name was always appended to the deeds
of conveyance. He viewed with alarm the encroachments of
the whites and the progress of settlement, and was said to be
overcome with emotion when, in following the old trails, from
one Indian village to another, he would come upon a fence



enclosing a clearing, or perhaps a field of wheat, and be
compelled to make a detour to get into the trail again.
The author has been treated by an eye and ear witness to a
description of his style and manner when speaking. The gen-
tleman said he knew the subject of the deliberations at the

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Online LibraryJohn Stearns MinardRecollections of the log school house period, and sketches of life and customs in pioneer days → online text (page 8 of 9)