Oscar Jewell Harvey.

A history of Wilkes-Barré, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania : from its first beginnings to the present time, including chapters of newly-discovered early Wyoming Valley history, together with many biographical sketches and much genealogical material (Volume v.3) online

. (page 86 of 111)
Online LibraryOscar Jewell HarveyA history of Wilkes-Barré, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania : from its first beginnings to the present time, including chapters of newly-discovered early Wyoming Valley history, together with many biographical sketches and much genealogical material (Volume v.3) → online text (page 86 of 111)
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" 'Brothers : I desire you to look on my commission, and observe the seal of our Great Chief,
and his name, written with his own hand.'

"My commission was then handed round among the chiefs.

' ' ' Brothers : As this is the first time that I have held a treaty with you, it cannot be expected
that I am well acquainted with your customs. I therefore desire you to excuse any defect in point
of form. But what I speak to you shall be the truth ; which I am sure you will think more important
than a strict observance of ceremonious forms.

" 'Brothers: You now see my commission, which has been read and interpreted, that,
according to my letter to you, I was appointed to wash off the blood of our murdered brothers,
and wipe away the tears from the eyes of their friends; and that this occasion was to be improved
to brighten the chain of friendship between you and the United States.

" 'Brothers: You said the hatchet was yet sticking in your head. I now pull it out. I
have now met you to wash off the blood of the slain, and wipe away the tears from the eyes of their
friends. And, as a token of friendship and peace, and of the perfect security with which we may
confer together, I now present to you these strings.'

"I then delivered to the principal chief, usually called 'The Farmer's Brother', strings of
wampum. After some consultation with the chiefs near him, he rose and addressed me to the
following effect:

" 'Brother: We thank the Great Spirit who has appointed this day, in which we sit side
by side, and look with earnestness on each other. We know you have been long waiting for us,
and suppose you have often stretched up your neck, to see if we were coming. Brother: We sent
your letter to the Grand River by the Fish Carrier, and we have been waiting for its return; but
it has not yet come to hand ; and therefore we cannot yet properly enter upon business. We must
wait two days for the arrival of the Fish Carrier, or to hear from him. But, in the mean time,
as the letter is not come back, we desire you to accept this belt as a pledge.'
"He then delivered the belt.

"After a pause, the chief, called Red Jacket, rose, and spoke to this effect:
" 'Brother: We are happy to see you here, for which we thank the Great Spirit.
" 'Brother: You say you are not acquainted with our customs. Brother: We are young,
but we will describe the ancient practices of our fathers. The roads we now travel were cleared
by them. When they used to meet our brothers of Pennsylvania, at Philadelphia, our brothers
not only pulled the hatchet out of their heads, but buried it. You say you have now pulled the
hatchet out of our heads; but you have only cast it behind you; and you may take it up again.
Brother: While the hatchet lies unburied, we cannot sit easy on our seats.'

" 'Brother: From the time we made peace with the United States, we have experienced
troubles, even more than before. The United States have also had their troubles. Brother:
we now hear General Washington, the Great Chief of the United States, speaking to us by you ;
and hope our troubles will now have an end. But our eyes are not yet washed, that we may see,
nor our throats cleared, that we may speak.'

"As soon as Red Jacket sat down. I rose, and spoke to the following effect:
" 'Brothers: You say that I have only pulled the hatchet out of your heads, and have not
buried it; and that, while it remains unburied, you cannot sit easy on your seats.'

" 'Brothers: In declaring that I pulled the hatchet out of your heads. I meant to comply
with your own demand, in your letter to the President and Council of Pennsylvania; which was.


that he should come and pull the hatchet out of your heads. However, to give you entire satis-
faction in this point, as the hatchet is already pulled out of your heads, I now bury it, and pray
God that it may remain buried; that its edge may never more be seen. Brothers: The United
States have no wish but to live with you as brothers in perpetual peace.'

" 'I now wash off the blood of your murdered brothers, and the tears from the eyes of their

"I then drank to their healths.

"After they had been served round with a glass of rum, the Farmer's Brother rose, and
spoke to this effect:

" 'Brother: You have now taken us by the hand, and washed our eyes. Our women
expect you will show them equal attention. They are here waiting your invitation, to receive
the same tokens of your friendship, which, the last evening, you gave to us. Perhaps, in taking
them by the hand, you may see one who may please you.' (A general laugh at the speaker's
humor. )

"I rose, and addressed the women:

" 'Sisters: I am very glad to meet you here. I have seen agreeable women of various
complexions, and doubt not such are to be found among you. I invite you to my quarters, where
we may eat and drink together in friendship. I now take you by the hand as my sisters.'

"I then went round and shook hands with every woman present."*

Colonel Pickering's conference with the Indians at Tioga Point was the
beginning of long service in this connection. He was singularly adapted to it.

There were many elements of his
aspect, character and deportment that
gave him great influence over Indians,
and won both their confidence and good
will. He stood six feet, of broad mus-
cular frame, his carriage and gestures
together with the initiative, courage and
firmness stamped on his face were what
they admired.

The Six Nations made him a Chief
and at the Council fire addressed him as
"Conni-Santi," "The Sunnv Side of a

On April 10, 1791, Major Hodgden
was approached by the War Depart-
ment in order that Colonel Pickering
might be felt out as to accepting another
important Indian Commission. He
measured up to this task as he did others,
by accepting^ the call. In a letter to his
brother John, acknowledging acceptance i„
of the Commission, he brings out what
is fixed in his mind, as to the education of his children:

"Philadelphia, April 23, 1791-
"Dear Brother.

"An unexpected call to this city, to prepare for holding another treaty with the Indians
of the Six Nations, gives me the pleasure of this opportunity of writing by Mr. Dalton.t

*ColoneI Pickering's bill of accounts for services rendered in connection
"The United St.^ies.
"For mj' time and troubl

George Catlin

n Student and Painter, who sketched "Colonel Picki-
ng at Tioga Point," illustrated page 1 128, Vol. II.

th the Seneca conference follows:

To Timothy Pickering. Dr
, . , Philadelphia two days, in various matters preparatory to the intended

ference, at eight dollars a day $ 16 00

y time and trouble in procuring provisions for the Indians, and iioidiiig a conference witiitiie^^
irom October 1 ;th (when I set ofl from my house in Wilkesbarre for Tioga) until No% ember 29th,
at night (when I reached home), both days, included, at eight dollars a day. . $352 GO

Wilkesbarre to Tioga and back $ 3.37

fter my return, in transcribing the rough minutes of the proceed-

making a joirrney from Wilkesbarre to Philadelphia for that

lettled: and in completing the payments yet to be

davs. at eight dollars..S 96.00


For my travelUng expenses f
For my time, trouble, and expen:

ings. to report to the president. „

purpose and to get the account of expense

''Uzerne County and York State, equal to twel

made to sundry per
"Philadelphia, January 8th, 1791."
tSee the "Life of Pickering." Ill : 486



"I have felt much concern for the eduction of my children, who have suffered sAce my
removal to Wyoming. At present they are provided for by an ingenious young lawyer,* who
formerly kept school, who now boards at my house, assists in ray office, and who has undertaken
the daily task of instructing the children in reading and writing, and Tim in geogra|)hy. My
son John, I am informed, is a good scholar; and now, I suppose, is fit for entering a college. I
have had no communications with you on this subject, nor do I know your kind intentions con-
cerning him. I earnestly wish you to write me. He is yet young enough. Fifteen, I think, is early
enough for a youth to make the best improvement of college advantages. * * *"

To Alexander Hamilton, the statesman of his time, belongs the honor of
initiating a movement which was later to result in the creation of the Department
of Agriculture which has merited its worth at the hands of the present government.

In 1791, while in the capacity of vSecretary of the Treasury, Hamilton wrote
many letters to those whom he knew were informed of agricultural developments
in their sections.

Among his correspondents of that period was Colonel Pickering, who

answered him in terms that indicate what the Wilkes-Barre district raised in

such agricultural pursuits as were followed :

"Philadelphia, October 13th, 1791.
"Dear Sir,

"When I received your letter of the 13th of August, I did not consider it with that attention
which would have been necessary if at that time I had attempted to answer the questions you
propose. Now it appears to me impossible to do it with any degree of precision. It then struck
me that certain communications to the Society of Agriculture, of this city, would have furnished
the principal documents required on the subject at large. But upon review of them (after a lapse
of several years)I find I was mistaken.

"In my late absence from the city I meant to have made inquiries in the counties through
which I travelled in this State; but here also I was disappointed, not meeting with any farmers
sufficiently informed.

"From the farms in my neighborhood (from which you naturally expected me to collect
accurate information) no conclusions can be drawn; their peculiar situation, in respect to title,
and their quality rendering them exceptions to most of the farms in the United States. Their
title, being in suspense between the claimants under Connecticut and Pennsylvania, prevents
their due cultivation and improvement; and the parts under cultivation are almost exclusively
the bottom (or interval) lands, adjacent to the River Susqueharma and its branches. The residue
of the country is without enclosures, where the cattle range at large, and where, till within four
years past, the people cut wood for timber and fuel at discretion, without regarding their own
lines of property. This singular state of the Wyoming farms precludes the idea of fixing their
value. Their contents, generally, are three hundred acres, of which, upon an average, not thirty
acres are reclaimed from a state of nature. The average produce of their cultivated grounds I
estimate as follows:!

Wheat 15 Bushels per acre. 1

Rye .12

Buckwheat:::::: ::::i5 J without Manure.

Indian Corn 25 " " " j

Hay - - 1 !2 Tons " " I

Late in June, 1791, Colonel Pickering left Wilkes-Barre for his second
conference with the Six Nations. This led him to Newtown, New York, as
evidenced by the following letter to his family from that point:

"Newtown, July 5th, 1791.

"Yesterday we began the real business of the treaty; and, from what at present appears,
I suspect it will not he finished under ten days. We have now about nine hundred Indians on the
ground, about a hundred and thirty more will be here today or to-morrow. They are all in good
temper, and I expect the treaty will close in a very satisfactory manner. The bearer is Mr.
Rutherford, a member of Congress, who is on his way home to New Jersey; should he call with
the letter himself, you will ask him to breakfast or to tea, if it happens to be convenient."

*The gentleman spoken of as the teacher of the children in the family has been frequently mentioned. Ebenezer
Bowman was a graduate of Harvard College, Class of 1 782. .Mter teaching school at Cambridge, he left Massachusetts
and settled at Wyoming. .\s has been stated, when Colonel Pickering opened the first Court in Luzerne County, Mr.
Bowman was one of four applicants admitted to the bar. They were the only lawyers in the county for several years.
In 1794 Mr. Bowman retired from practice, but continued in active business. He represented Luzerne in the Pennsyl-
vania House of Assembly in 1793. For a long period he boarded in Colonel Pickering's family, and was a faithful
and zealous friend. They died in the same year. 1829.

tSee the "Life of Pickering," III : 491.


Joseph Brant

By Romney.
I England during Brant's visit there in 1776.

Having accomplished the object of his mission, in concluding a treaty
with the Six Nations, which proved of vital importance in cementing their friend-
ship to the United States, Colonel Pick-
ering immediately set off for Wilkes-
Barre, and thence to Philadelphia, to re-
port to Secretary of War Knox, his ac-

While in Philadelphia, under date
of August 12, 1791, he wrote the follow-
ing to his wife:

"As I left you, these words dropped from
your lips, 'I do not think we shall live here
always,' — nor will you. This day the President
appointed me Postmaster-General. Mr. Osgood
has resigned. Next Monday or Tuesday I go to
New York to see him, on the business of the de-

"I pray God to preserve you and my dear
family, that you may see good after so many
evil days; for, if the office should not add to my
little fortune, at least I trust we shall live more
comfortablv, and get our children well educated.
* * *'»

"The troubles, cares and trials to
which his family had been exposed at
Wyoming, undoubtedly made the pros-
pect of a removal an inexpressible relief
to them, writes Colonel Pickering's
biographer, in Upham's "Life of Pickering."

Thus it happened, after years of service in a position which brought him
into intimate touch with Wilkes-Barre and the Wyoming Valley, during a criti-
cal state of its peculiar affairs, Colonel Pickering was called, by his old Com-
mander in Chief, to the higher service of his countrymen, in affairs of the
national government. How he succeeded to the offices of Secretary of War,
Secretary of State, and upon his return to Massachusetts, to a dignified closing
period of his life as Senator from that Commonwealth, is for his biographer,
rather than a writer of local history to record. That Wilkes-Barre has never
honored him in the slightest degree, as the most distinguished man who was
ever, actually as well as in name, one of its citizens, seems almost incredible.
Even the house he built and from which he was abducted does not now bear
his name. It, with all his other property and lands in Wilkes-Barre (now
assessed at over $18,000,000) was sold as purchasers offered. Gen. William
Ross acquired the homestead from Colonel Pickering in 1796.*

In the fall of 1791, Colonel Pickering entered upon his duties as Post-
master General, at Philadelphia. Finding a great scarcity of houses there, it
was decided to leave his family at their comfortable Wilkes-Barre home until
Spring. That the hospitality'of this house was boundless, may be gathered from
a knowledge that a teacher, a preacher, and a sister of Mrs. Pickering were all
guests there during this particular winter.

A fund had been raised to secure a minister at Wyoming, to which fund,
the Pickerings and other New Englanders were subscribers. That a young


Abraham Bradley

Appointed Assistant Postmaster Gene

preacher had been found to accept the position is disclosed by a letter from Colonel
Pickering, to his wife dated November
8, 1791:

"Mr. Bowman called on me to-
day, " runs the letter, "bringing with him
an agreeable young man, who is going to
Wyoming to commence a preacher. *
* * Warm testimonials you will find
enclosed. These testimonials of Mr.
Thayer's* worth will be sufficient to in-
duce you to embrace every opportunity
of contributing to make his residence
agreeable to him."

On the same subject, and in-
dicative of how schooling of that period
was accomplished. Colonel Pickering,
the same day wrote the Rev. John
Clark of Philadelphia, the following;

"Mr. Thayer handed me your
letter of introduction. I am glad he is
gone to Wyoming. * * * There is at my
house, where he will also stay, an ingen-
ious young man, Mr. Bradley, f of some
reading and a taste for literature. The
ensuing winter he will school mine, and some of the neighbor's children."

In the spring of 1792, Colonel Pickering found a suitable house at his new
place of residence. He wrote of it on March 16th, as follows:

"I have engaged a house in Second Street. 'Tis a large house, with two
rooms in front. I shall keep my office in them and by that, and other means,
stand myself at $300 rent."

On May 10, 1792, Colonel Pickering made his last visit to Wilkes-Barre
to escort his family to this new home. By way of concluding his official business
at Wyoming, he penned the following report to Governor Mifflin:

"Philadelphia, August 16th, 1791.

"It is proper for me to inform you that the President of the United States has been pleased
to appoint me to the office of Postmaster-General. This, or course, vacates the offices which I
held under Pennsylvania; and, though I do not feel myself under any obligations to the county
of Luzerne, yet I shall be pleased to see its welfare promoted. I shall be pleased to see that part
of Pennsylvania prosper; and I shall also be pleased, Sir, to see your administration approved
and applauded.

"In the first place, give me leave to assure you that the business in all these offices together
is of but small extent, and consequently of small emolument, too small to admit of a di\-ision.

"In the Register's office, during a space of more than four years, but about half a dozen
wills have been presented. Letters of administration have been more numerous. I think between
eighty and ninety have been issued; but these have been chiefly on the estates of persons who
were dead before the change of jurisdiction in 17S2; and of these the greater part fell \-ictiras to
the Indians in 177S. The run of these is over, and scarcely half a dozen letters are now issued
in a year.

"In the Orphan's Court, all the proceedings do not fill a quire of paper.

"In the Court of General Quarter-Sessions of the Peace, as little business has occurred as
in the Orphan's Court.

*Nathaniel Thayer D.D. wasa native of Hampton, New Hampshire, and a graduate of Harvard, in the class of
1789. In 1793, he settled at Lancaster. Massachusetts and continued in his ministry there until his death, in 1840.

t.\braham Bradley, mentioned above, later became a resident of Hanover township. In 1800 he was appointed
Assistant Postmaster General of the United States at Colonel Pickering's suggestion. In 1802 be published "A New
Theory of the Earth," copies of which book are still found among old libraries of Wilkes-Barre.


"In the Recorder's office, the deeds and mortgages are recorded in separate books; and,
if united, would fill about three-fourths of one folio volume of demi, or about five quires of paper.

"The Prothonotary's office furnished most business; but this arose from the like cause
with the letters of administration; the business had been damned up during several years; the law,
introduced, opened the gates, and, during three years, there was a run of from twenty to forty
actions at a term. But the sources have failed, and the stream is greatly reduced. At the last
term, the number of actions was about eighteen; and when I left home, ten days ago, there stood
on the docket but a solitary action for the ensuing term, commencing this day two weeks.

"These facts I state from my memoty (which, however, I believe is pretty correct) not
expecting such occasion to use them; for, till I reached Bethlehem, I knew not that any office
under the United States was vacant.

"Permit me now, Sir, to mention a gentleman there who can well execute, and who well
deserves all those offices. I mean Abraham Bradley, Esquire, whose prudence, steadiness, and
sobriety are exemplary — whose integrity is unblemished, whose industry has no rival, and whose
judgment and law knowledge have there no superior; I should speak more accurately if I should
say no equal. In pleadings and the necessary forms, he is decidedly superior to all. But he came
later into the practice than the other attorneys, was younger, somewhat diffident, and has not
formed a habit of speaking. He has therefore had few cases to manage, and his fees have been
trifling. He studied law and wrote in the office of Tapping Reeve, Esquire, an eminent lawyer
at Litchfield, in Connecticut. He writes a fair, strong, legible hand, perfectly adapted to records.
During my frequent absences in the last two years, he has done the business in the Court and in
my office with great propriety. 'Tis a business in which he takes pleasure. His law knowledge
renders him peculiarly fit to hold all the offices before mentioned and will give great facility in
the execution. And his law knowledge will not be stationary; it will advance. For he has an
inquisitive mind, and a taste for literature in general.

"This, Sir, is not the language of hyperbole. 'I speak the words of truth and soberness,'
from an intimate personal acquaintance with Mr. Bradley. I think he was, last spring, admitted
an attorney in the Supreme Court; but Mr. Burd can inform you.

"Give me leave, Sir, to close this long letter with a few words relative to the county Judges.
Mr. Joseph Kinney was pretty early appointed a Judge of the Common Pleas; but, fully expecting
to remove to the State of New York, he sent to the Court a letter of resignation ; but I do not know
whether his resignation was ever declared to the late Executive Council. I believe it was not.
He lived near Tioga, where Esquire Holknback was sometimes present, and to which neighbor-
hood Esquire Murray moved up from Shawnee. Mr. Kinney was disappointed in respect to the
lands in York State to which he meant to go, and has remained in Luzerne. Christopher Hurlbut,
Esquire, is now a Justice of the Peace, and of the Court of Common Pleas for that county. These
two gentlemen I name before all others who can have any pretensions to the office of Judge of the
Common Pleas under the new Constitution; because they are decidedly men of superior discern-
ment, of minds more improved and still improving; because they are inquisitive, have a taste for
reading, and a thirst for knowledge. I do not know that the other Judges can be better chosen
than from among the gentlemen who have held seats in the legislature and Executive Council,
whom you personally know. The characters of the gentlemen I have described, I think, are
drawn with truth. If I were never to see you again, if I were going to quit this country or
w'orld, I should freely write what I have here written.

"Should you' honor me with any questions relative to the County of Luzerne, I shall answer
them with pleasure, and with the same candor that I should have given you information at any
period of my life.

"I have the honor to be respectfully. Sir, your most obedient and humble servant,
"Thomas Mifflin, Esq.," Governor of Pennsylvania." "T- Pickering.

To conclude a reference to the closing days of Colonel Pickering's adminis-
tration without further record of the career of his chief antagonist, Col. John
Franklin, might seem neglectful. Miner, in his History, page 438, makes an
incorrect assumption that Colonel Franklin was released from confinement after
the session of the Supreme Court in Wilkes-Barre, in 1788. As a matter of fact,
he was to suifer nearly a year's further confinement at the hands of Pennsylvania.
We have seen in the preceding Chapter how and when he was removed from
Wilkes-Barre to the jail at Easton. In the collection of "Franklin Papers,"
of the Tioga Point Museum, it appears that he was, for some reason not
apparent to Wyoming, in December, 1788, returned to the Philadelphia jail,
January 8, 1799, and sent to Easton again, May 24, 1799. Documents in the
Archives of Pennsylvania, were not arranged for publication when Miner wrote
(1845) or he might have found two letters therein written by Franklin, in 1789,
while still a prisoner at Philadelphia. One of these follows:
"May it please your Excellency, "Philadelphia Gaol, March the 5th, 17S9.

"In my address the 17th ult., I stated to your Excellency that I was unable to provide
myself with fuel and Clothing necessary to guard me against the Inclemency of the season, (the


Clothing then alluded to was bedding,) I was at the same time in want of Sundry articles of
wearing apparel, but it was at that time, and still is my wish to be patient under all my afflictions,
and to avoid as much as possible all complaints. I, at that time had a hope that I should shortly

Online LibraryOscar Jewell HarveyA history of Wilkes-Barré, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania : from its first beginnings to the present time, including chapters of newly-discovered early Wyoming Valley history, together with many biographical sketches and much genealogical material (Volume v.3) → online text (page 86 of 111)