Lucy Crawford.

The history of the White Mountains, from the first settlement of Upper Coos and Pequaket online

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on the niorninfr of the 20th. Hitherto the path had been
on a general biU moderate ascent. The camp is on the
Amanoosuc, and on quitting it, we began immediately to
ascend the steep, here making an angle of 45°. To be
particular would be tedious. The task is excessively
laborious; for ladies, though not impracticable, it is too
severe. Having been joined at the camp by our driver,
Bachelder, each lady had an assistant, and though after
passing the woods and bushy region, the wind became
very fresh, we all continued to ascend, scrambling over
the cliffs, for some time. At last, exhausted by fatigue,
and coming to a shelf of rocks which appeared more than
usual steep and difficult, Mrs. Park and my daughter
Mary Ann, concluded it impossible to proceed. Unpleas-
ant as it was to separate so near the summit, for we were
now within three quarters of a mile from the apex, we
saw no other plan; and, lodging Mrs. Park and ]Mary Ann
in a cleft between large rocks, where they would be in
some degree sheltered by the v.ind, we proceeded ; my
daughter Louisa Jane, having JNIr. Howe to support her
on one side and Batch elder on the other. It was a des-
perate business; the wind grew more violent every step
we ascended, and the fog or cloud which enveloped us,
was wet as rain. At twenty-five minutes past ten, we
reached the top, in the midst of a dismal hurricane — no
prospect — but certainly our situation partook much of the
sublime, from our known elevation, the desolation around
us and the horrors of the tempest. I have experienced
gales in the Gulf Ftream — tempests off Cape Hatterns —
tornadoes in the West Indias, and been surrounded by
water spouts in the Gulf of Mexico — but I never saw
any thing more furious or more dreadful than this. I
staid on the top but five minutes', anxious for those whom
we had left. In less than a half of an hour, I found
them safe, though cold and anxious. The rest of our
party soon arrived, and taking a little refreshment, we
began to descend together. Soon after we left the regions
of barrenness and desolation and entered the woods, we
were met by Mr. Crawford himself, who had kindly come
out to see what might be our situation. We arrived safe
and well at the encampment, at fifteen minutes after one,
took a little refreshment, and continued our return to Mr,


Crawford's, where we arrived precisely at six o'clock,
P. M., having been absent about twenty-eight hours.

" Gentlemen, there is nothing in the ascent of Mount
Washington that you need dread. Ladies, give up all
thoughts of it; but if you are resolved, let the season be
mild, — consult Mr. Crawford as to the prospects of the
weather; and with every precaution, you will still find it,
for you, a tremendous undertaking.

*' Though we were disappointed after all we had read
and heard, in not having Mr. Crawford for our guide, yet
we had no reason to complain. Mr. Howe, who con-
ducted us, will be found a faithful and obliging young
man. Of Mr. and Mrs. Crawford's kindness and atten-
tion, during our short stay here, we have ample reason to
join in the common report of all travellers."


In September, the same year, a small part\^ of
gentlemen and three ladies came to visit the
mountains ; and I went with them. We stayed
at the camp over night : next day we went up
the hill and back again to the camp, with little
trouble or fatigue. After this, when walking
on a more level Avav, one of the ladies became
lame in her ancles, and it was with difficulty
she could walk. I then took off the bundle of
clothes from my back and made a good cushion
of them, and placed them on my right shoulder,
took my hat in my left hand ; the gentlemen
then sat her upon my right shoulder, and I
brought her some miles in this way quite well.
I have brought gentlemen along in a similar
way, when they thought they could go no further.

The following" is another extract from the Al-
bum :

*' When we started in the morning, we were fearful
of rain, but the weather was good and the temperature
of the air, comparatively warm on the summit. Our
prospect but ill repaid us the fatigue of ascending, as the
atmosphere was smoky. After remaining on the summit
for more than an hour, and singing Old Hundred, in which
the whole party joined, at half past eleven o'clock, we
began to descend, and reached the camp in two hours
nnd a half. Here the party rested and refreshed about
an hour : left the camp and arrived at Mr. Crawford's al


seven o'clock in the evening. As the ladies of our party
iiiiike !i third of the number who have reached the sum-
mit of -Mount W^ushinjton, soniethinj^ may be expected to
be said of them and of the practicability of the ascent for
Jadies. ]\Iiss Harriet C. Woodward performed the ascent
and descent of the mountain ami tlic walk from the camp
to Mr. Crawford'.*, with much less fatigue than could
have been expected. Miss Lawrence suffered a little more,
^liss Elizabeth Woodward supported the ascent and de-
scend to the camp tolerably well, but became excessively
fatigued and lame durini; the return walk iVoni the can)p
to Mr. Crawford's, — and had it not been for the kind and
hnmane attention and assistance of Mr. C. (which we
here record with much gratitude) would scarcely have
been able to have reached Mr. C.'s. In conclusion ;
could ladies be carrieil and hnd a little more comfortably
accommodations on the mountains, the ascent of Mount
Washington even, would be a comparatively easy achieve-
ment. As it is, ladies, do nnt attempt it : at least, ncoer
hut in fair icenthcr. Of .Mr. Cravvford's kindness and
humanity nothing need be said : all who visit the moun-
tain will be satisfied witii it."

Getting tired of carrying blankets every time
we went up this iDountain, and not being able
to leave them in safely on account of the mice
and squirrels, for they would make holes in
them, unless we hanged them on a tree, ar^d
then they were exposed to the Aveather, — some-
time in the forepart of the summer, I bought a
sufficient quantity of sheet-iron and made a
chest that would hold ten bushels — apparently
large enough for the man who carried it to lie
down and rest himself in it. This we placed at
the camp and there made a deposite for all things
that might be left there. We had eleven blank-
ets, and cooking utensils for cooking a irood warm
meal : and would fre((uently add to the variety,
by a dish of trout, which could be caught but


a few rods from the camp. These I could cook
to a charm, much better ihan an old experienced
cook in a city hotel could, — at least, they tasted
much better here than there. 1 had a plenty of
good salt pork to cook them with, and that is the
very thing that gives them a relish — and fatigue
would never fail of giving us good appetites.
Afterwards I made my tea, and then could drink
it in clean fresh-washed cups. I had here every
convenience for doing all this work. I w\is pre-
sented with a box of tin-ware from the before
mentioned Botanisi, containing an apparatus
sufficient for a number to eat and drink together
with ; and it was of a superior quality : and
then on the corner of the iron chest, I would
sometTmes put birch bark from a tree and spead
it as a substitute for a cloth, and in this way I
have enjoyed many a good meal with my friends.
We had two camps built and they stood facing
each other, and there was a good fire in the
middle. The wood we cut from six to eight
feet in length and rolled it together, any way or
size we could manage, and when one pile burnt
out, we would put another on, and thus keep a
good fire through the night. One camp Avas for
ladies and the other for gentlemen. For beds
we took a large quantity of spruce and hemlock
boughs and laid them down — spread our blankets
upon them, and this would make a healthy bed.
To secure the ladies, we would make a blanket
curtain in front of their camp, and thev were
entirely by themselves. Now the untiring mus-
quitoe would sing to us constantly and every
now and then would stop and taste a little.


I never knew a single person that ever took
cold from these wild excursions. We frequently
received letters froin invalids saying their healths
were much improved by this visit with us.

Now we were in trouble again, there being a
complaint for want of a shed and more stable

The winter of 1S26 being at haiid, and a
great deal to do, and after having done other
necessary business, I went to hauling boards
and shingles from the same short distance of
twelve miles only, and this being up through
the Notch. My father had put him up a new
saw-mill, and I could get boards from them now
better than from anywhere else, but it w^ some
trouble to draw them up the Notch hills. Some
perhaps thiidv this a heavy job, but when a
thing is undertaken in good earnest, it is soon
over ; so with this job. In the spring I hired
men and went to work and soon had limber pre-
pared for a stable sixty feet by forty, and a shed
to stand between the old stable and the new one,
fifty feety by forty, which accommodated both
stables, and the whole length of these buildings
was nearly one hundred and fifty feet, in a
straight line, facing the road. The outside of
these buildings was nearly finished, when a stop
was put to all business in consequence of the
great rain, which you will soon find recorded.

In June, as m}'' father with a number of men
was at work repairing the turnpike road through
the Notch, there came on a heavy rain, and they
were obliged to leave their work and retire to
the house — then occupied by the worthy Willey

WHlTa ,UOU-NTAl.Nb. 91

family, and it rained very hard. "While there
they saw on the west side of the road a small
movement of rocks and earth coming down the
hill, and it took all before it. They saw like-
wise, whole trees coming down, standing up-
right, for ten rods together, before they would
tip over — the whole still moving slowly on,
making its way uiitil it had crossed the road,
and then on a level surface some distance before it
stopped. This grand and awful sight frightened
the timid family very much, and ]\Irs. W^lley
proposed to have the horses harnessed and go
to my father's, but the old gentleman told her
not to be alarmed, as he said they were much
safer there than they would be in the road ; for,
said he, there may be other difficulties in the way,
like the one just described, or the swollen waters
may have carried away some of the bridges,
and they could not be crossed ; and after some
reasoning with her in this way she was pacified
and remain safelv. The next dav as the storm

ml ^

had abated, they set about removing the burden
from the road, which required much trouble and
labor. This seemed to be a warning as it ap-
peared so to them. Mr. Willey had looked
round and about the mountains and tried to find
out a safer place than the one they then occu-
pied ; and having satisfied himself, as he
thought, placed a good tight cart-body in such a
manner as would secure them from the weather
in case a similar thinsf should occur — as visitors
had advised them to leave the place, as they
were anxious for their safety ; and lie, it appear-
ed, was fearful, or he would not have made this


effort : but there is an overruling God who
knows all things and caused all things to happen
for the best, although we short-siglited mortals
cannot comprehend them. Had they taken the
advice of St. Paul and all abode in the ship,
they might have been saved, but this was not to
be their case — they were suffered to perish.

August 26th, there came a party from the
West to ascend the mountain, but as the wind •
had been blowing from the south for several
days, I advised them not to go that afternoon,
but they said their time was limited and they
must proceed. Every thing necessary for the
expedition being put in readiness, we all, like so
many good soldiers, with our staves in our hands,
set forward at six o'clock and arrived at the
camp at ten o''clock ; and I with my knife and
flint struck fire, which caught in a piece of dry
punk, which I carried for that purpose, and from
that I could make a large fire. As this was the
only way we had in those days of obtaining fire,
and after my performing the duties of a cook
and house maid, we sat down in the humble sit-
uation of Indians, not having the convenience of
chairs, and told stories till the time for rest.
The wind still continuing to blow from the south.
In the morning, about four o'clock, it commenced
raining, which prevented their hopes of ascend-
ing the mountain that day, and not having pro-
visions for another day, and they being unwilling
now to give it up, when they had got so near,
a meeting was called and it was unanimously
agreed that I should go home and get new suj)-
})lics and then return to them again. I obeyed

UIIITK .MOt.\TAl>s». 93

their commands ; shouldered my empty pack,
took my leave of them and then returned ; but
as the raui was falling so fast, and the mud col-
lected about my feet, my progress was slow and
wearisome. I at lenij:th got home, and being
tired and my brother Thomas being there, 1
desired him to take my place, which he cheer-
fully consented to do, and in a short time, ho
was laden and set forward, and when arriving at
the camp, the party was holding a council as to
what Avas to be done, for the rain had fallen so
fast and sjteadily that it had entirely extinguished
the lire. They consulted Thomas upon the
matter to know if they had time to get in. He
told them to remain there would be very unpleas-
ant, as they must sutler with the wet and cold,
not considering d.aniier, but if they would go as
fast as they could, they might reach the house ;
each taking a little refreshment in his hands, and
having the precaution to take the axe with them,
set off in full speed, and when they came to a
swollen stream, which they could not ford,
Thomas would, with his axe, fall a tree, for a
bridge, and then they would walk over. They
got along tolerably \\ ell until they came to a
large branch, which came from the Notch, this
was full and raging, and they had some difficulty
to find a tree that would reach to the opposite
bank, but at length succeeded in finding one, and
they all got safely over, and those who could not
walk, crawled along, holding on by the limbs,
and when they came to the main stream, the
water had risen and come into the road for sev-
eral rods, and when they crossed the bridge it


trembled under their feet. They all arrived
in safety about eight o'clock in the evening, when
tliey were welcomed by two large fires to dry
themselves. Here they took olf their wet gar-
ments, and those that had not a change of their
own, put on mine and went to bed, while we set
up to dry theirs. At eleven o'clock we had a
clearing up shower, and it seemed as though the
windows of heaven were opened and the rain
came down almost in streams ; it did not, how-
ever, last long before it all cleared away and be-
came a perfect calm. The next morning we
were awakened by our little boy coming into the
room, and saying, " father, the earth is nearly
covered with water, and the hogs are swimming
for life." I arose immediately and went to their
rescue. I waded into the water and pulled away
the fence, and they sw^am to land. What a
sight ! The sun rose clear ; not a cloud nor a
vapor was to be seen ; all was still and silent,
excepting the rushing sound of the water, as it
poured down the hills ! The whole intervale
was covered with water a distance to be seen, of
over two hundred acres of land, when standing
on the little hill which has been named and call-
ed Giant's Grave, just back of the stable, where
the house used to stand that was burnt. After
standing here a short time, I saw the fog arise
in different places on the water, and it formed a
beautiful sight. The bridge v.hich had so lately
been crossed had come down and taken Avith it
ninety feet of shed which was attached to the
barn that escaped the fire in 1818. Fourteen
sheep that were under it were drowned, and


those which escaped looked as though they had
been washed in a mud puddle. The water came
within eighteen inches of the door in the house
and a strong current was running between the
house and stable. It came up under the shed
and underneath the new stable, and carried
away timber and wood — passed by the west
corner of the house and moved a wagon which
stood in its course. Now the safety of my father
and of the Willey family occupied our minds —
but there was no way to find out their situation.
At or near the middle of the day (Tuesday)
there came a traveller on foot who was desirous
of going down the Notch that night, -as he said
his business was urgent, and he must if possible
go through. I told him to be patient as the
water was then falling fast, and as soon as it
should fall and I could swim a horse, I would
carry him over the river. Owing to the narrow-
ness of the intervales between the mountains
here, when it begins to fall, dreans soon away,
and at four o'clock, I mounted a large strong
horse, took the traveller on behind, and swam
the river, and landed him safely on the other
side and returned. He made the best of his
way down to the Notch house and arrived there
just before dark. He found the house deserted
of e\'ery living creature, excepting the faithful
dog, and he was unwilling at first to admit the
stranger. He at length became friendly and
acquainted. On going to the barn he found it
had been touched by an avalanche and fallen in.
The two horses that were in it were both killed,
ajid the oxen confined under the broken timber


tied In lliclr stalls. TIjcpc lie set at liberty after
finding an axe and cultin^j; away the timber :
they were lame, but soon got over it. What
must have been the feelings of this lonely trav-
eller while occupying this deserted house — find-
ing doors opened and bed and clothes as though
they had been left in a hurry ; bible open and
laying on the table as it seemed it had lately
been read. He went round the house, and pre-
pared for himself a supper, and partook of it
alone, except the company of the dog, who
seemed hungiy like himself — then quietly laid
down in one of these open deserted beds, and
consoled himself by thinking the family had
made their escape and gone down to my father's.
Early the next morning he proceeded on his
way and he had some diiBcultv in getting across
some places, as the earth and water were mixed
together and made a complete quagmire. He
succeeded in getting to father's ; but could ob-
tain no information of the unfortunate family.
He told this story as he went down through
Bartlett and Conway, and the news soon spread.
On Wednesday the waters had subsided so
much that we could ford the Amanoosuc river
with a horse and wagon ; and some of the time-
limited party agreed to try the ground -over
again ; and they, with the addition of another
small party who came from the West on Tues- '
day, and Thomas for guide, again set out, while
I with a gentleman from Connecticut, went to-
wards the Notch. After travelling a distance of
two miles in a wagon, we were obliged to leave
it and take to our feet. We now found the road


ill some jilaces entirely demolished, and seem-
ingly, on a level surface ; a crossway which had
been laid down for many years and firmly cov-
ered with dirt— that to the eye of human reason
it would be impossible to move — taken up, and
every log had been disturbed and laid in different
directions. On going still a little farther, we
found a gulf in the middle of the road, in some
places ten feet deep, and twenty rods in length.
The rest of the roa,d — my pen would fail should
I attempt to describe it — suffice it to say, I could
hardly believe my own eyes, the water having
made such destruction. Now, when within a
short distance of the house, found the cows with
their bags filled with milk, and from their ap-
pearance, they had not been milked for some
days. My heart sickened as I thought what had
happened to the inmates of the house. We
went in and there found no living person — and
the house in the situation just described. I was
going down to my father's to seek them out, but
the gentleman with me w^ould not let me go, for
he said he could not find his way back alone,
and I must return with him. We set out and ar-
rived home at four o'clock in the afternoon.

I could not be satisfied about the absent family,
and again returned, and when I got back to the
house found a number of the neighbors had as-
sembled and no information concerning them
could be obtained, and my feelings were such
that 1 could not remain there during the night,
although a younger brother of mine, being one
of the company, almost laid violent hands upon
m.e to compel me to stay, fearing some accident


might befall me, as I should have to feel my way
through the Notch on my hands and knees, foi*
the water had in the narrowest place in the
Notch, taken out the rocks which had been beat
in from the ledge above, to make the road and
carried them into the gulf below, and made a
hole or gulf twenty feet deep, and it was diffi-
cult, if not dangerous, to get through in the
night — as all those who visited this scene of
desolation will bear testimony to; but my mind
was fixed and unchangeable, and I would not be
prevailed on to stay. I started and groped my
Way home in the dark, where I arrived at ten
o'clock in the evening. Here I found that the
party from the mountain had arrived ; as they
had nowhere to stay, they were obliged to come
in that night. Now we began to relate our dis-'
covcries. They had much difficulty in finding
their way, as the water had made as bad work
with their path as it had done with the road, in
proportion to its length. The water had risen
and carried away every particle of the camp
and all my furniture there. The party seeme(i
thankful that they, on Monday, had made theii*
escape. What must have been their fortune had
thev remained there ? Thev must have shared
the same fate the AVilley family did, or suffered
a great deal with fear, wet, cold and hunger, for
it would have been impossible for them to have
come in until Wednesday, and their provisions
must have been all gone, if not lost, on Monday
night. It seemed really a Providential thing in
their being saved. No part of the iron chest
was ever found, or any thing it contained, ex-


ceptiiig a few pieces of blanket that were caught
on bushes in dit!erent places down the river.

The next morning our friends, with gratitude,
left us ; and we had the same grateful feelings
towards them, wishing each other good luck.

The same day (Thursday) before I had time
to look about me and learn the situation of my
farm, and estimate the loss I had sustained, the
friends of the Willey family had come up to the
deserted house and sent for me. At first I said
I could not go down, but being advised to, I
went. When I got there, on seeing the friends
of that well-beloved family, and having been
acquainted with them for many years, my lieart
was full and my tongue refused utterance, and I
could not for a considerable length of time speak
to one of them, and could only express my re-
gards I had to them in pressing their hands — but
gave full vent to tears. This was the second
time my eyes were wet with tears since grown
to manhood. The other time was when my
family was in that destitute situation. Diligent
search being made for them, and no traces to be
found until night, the attention of the people
was attracted by the flies, as they were passing
and repassing underneath a large pile of flood-
wood. They now began to hall away the rub-
bish, and at length, found Mr. and Mrs. AVilley,
Mr. Allen, the hired man, and the youngest
child, not far distant from each other. These
were taken up, broken and mangled, as must
naturally be expected, and were placed in cof-
fins ; and the next day they were interred, on a
piece of ground near the house, and there to


remain until winter. Saturday, tlic oilier liired
man was found and interred ; and on Sunday,
the eldest daughter was found, some way from
where the others were, across the river ; and it

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Online LibraryLucy CrawfordThe history of the White Mountains, from the first settlement of Upper Coos and Pequaket → online text (page 6 of 13)