Archive for the ‘Pennsylvania’ Category

“The roads surpass all description”

SUSAN LIVINGSTON married John Cleves Symmes in 1794. Susan was his third wife, the first two having died. Symmes had been a member of the Continental Congress, active in the military during the Revolution, an associate judge of the New Jersey supreme court, and in 1785 he was named judge for the newly designated Northwest Territory. In 1788, lured by the prospect of money to be made in land speculation there, Symmes and some associates contracted to buy a substantial amount of land in Ohio—known as the Symmes Purchase—to be paid for in part with notes issued by Congress to raise money to finance the Revolution. Symmes settled in North Bend, Ohio near Cincinnati and proceeded to subdivide and sell parcels of land.

In 1794 he persuaded his wife Susan to come to Ohio, promising that she could return frequently to visit her family in New Jersey. Traveling with Symmes was his wife; a daughter by a previous marriage, nineteen-year-old Anne Tuthill Symmes called Nancy; and the daughter of Susan’s sister Kitty Livingston also named Susan (Kitty had married Matthew Ridley in 1787). Susan Livingston Symmes described the early part of the trip in a letter to her sister Sarah Livingston Jay who was in New York City.

22d Novr 1794 2 oClockMy dr Sister
We have just crossed the Junietta, the return of the Army [from settling the Whisky Rebellion in western Pennsylvania] impedes our progress very much, we have been detained on the opposite side of the river since yesterday, owing to the number of Waggons to be ferryed over—we do not proceed above 10 miles a day, & to-day we shall not get about—The roads surpass all description, no one can have an idea of any thing half so bad, such a season as this has not been known these10 years, while the army was passing it rained a fort-night, the teams cut up the roads most dreadfully—it is one succession of mountains from Straasburgh to Pittsburgh,we have yet 2 very considerable ones to pass, the Allegeny & Lawrel—Col.Hamilton [Alexander, who was with the troops] breakfasted at the Inn this morning where we lodged—he looked a little weather-beaten as well as ourselves—We are so happy as to be preserved in Health—expect to winter at Pittsburgh. it will make the journey less heavy—we shall be sufficiently tired by the time we reach that—An officer that’s now here proposes to leave this in the Post-Office at Phila—Remember me affecly to my dr Kitty [her sister Kitty Livingston Ridley], & your little flock, Nancy [Symmes] also desires to be remembred—Susan [the daughter of Kitty] keeps in good heart, we are in tolerable spirits & should be in better were the roads better—Mr Symmes has been unwell for many days, indeed ever since we left Morris [town], he is just beginning to recover his spirits—I find Col. Hamilton has not much expectation of mr. Jays return before Spring—I long to hear what accounts you have of him [John Jay was in England negotiating a treaty with Britain of which Hamilton approved]—I received a letter from my dr Maria dated the 15th of Novr & was happy to find she was content with her situation [Maria Jay was at school in the Moravian Academy in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania]—We are yet 114 miles from Pittsburgh—I will write again in a day or 2, this is the third letter—I would travel on Horseback, but I do not know what to do about Susy, I do not like to leave her in the carriage without me neither would she be contented—
I am my dr Sister unalterably Yours

The letter is part of the Jay Papers at the Columbia Rare Book and Manuscript Library: Order no. 402136C.

posted November 8th, 2016 by Janet, comments (0), CATEGORIES: Hamilton, Alexander,Jay, Sarah Livingston,Livingston, Catharine "Kitty",Ohio,Pennsylvania,Ridley, Matthew,Symmes, Susan Livingston

” forty of our Friends brought up the rear”

ANN HEAD WARDER accompanied her husband John to the United States in 1786 and spent much of her time visiting relatives in and around Philadelphia. She described some of them to her sister Elizabeth in England. Cousin Sukey she reported “is married to a butcher, (a profession Friends follow here), who is remarkably short, fat and a good tempered man and everything about the house so plainly indicated a happy connection that I felt truly comforted.”
Of her sister-in-law Emlen “whose husband has been away several weeks,” she suggested that “it might be happy if he would never come home again, though perhaps she don’t think so.”

On a visit to John Clifford and his wife who were “esteemed by some the superior Male and Female for understanding in the city,” she said of John:

[he] is a stout, good tempered looking man; his wife a little woman but a great talker, has much affectation in her manner which is disagreeable at first acquaintance and she has the reputation for wearing the breeches, but whether deserved I cannot tell. But one thing I observed, it was necessary that somebody should take the petticoat.”

Ann sampled watermelon that she had for the first time “about which the natives of this country talk much . . . which in hot weather tastes like sweetened snow.”

She attended one funeral and observed another, that of a black man.

7th mo.22d.—The intelligence of the death of Robert Valentine at first was rather a shock to me, and I felt a particular inclination to attend his funeral. . . . [A foursome set out, stayed at an inn on the way.]
7 mo. 23d.—At four o’clock we were aroused and got up just as day was breaking. We had twelve miles to go which we accomplished before seven. . . . [Sammy and I] sat in the room with the corpse, whose features looked just as when alive—he was laid in one of his own shirts with a sheet first put into the coffin, which looked much more natural and comfortable than our woolen except his having no cap on, that I never remember seeing before. . . . [They departed for the meeting leaving] the multitude, not less . . . than five hundred mostly on horseback. . . . I never saw the like, full half appeared to be women who are here very shiftable [able to get around easily] if they have a good creature,—which is what all in this part of the country call horses,—they ride by themselves with a safeguard which when done with is tied to the saddle and the horse hooked to a rail, standing all meeting time almost as still as their riders sit. The carrying of the corpse I did not like, as it was only corded on to a thing like the bottom part of a single horse chaise, which is the general mode here when the distance is too far for shoulder [carriers] except that a box in the shape of a coffin is fixed and the corpse slipped in. The burying ground adjoined the meeting house and dear Robert with solemnity was interred, and after standing a few minutes at the grave we all went in. . . . We had a very long but comfortable meeting, and several Friends spoke. . . .

8th mo. 8th.—After meeting went to Aunt Emlen’s to drink tea and while there was called to see a black’s burial, who is reputed to have conducted himself with great reputation and was a man of some consequence. Six men walked first, then the corpse was carried by four of the most agreeable looking negroes I ever saw, being well dressed and appeared to be like men of property. Next followed fifty women, in couples, then one hundred and sixty men, then ninety-six more women, and about forty of our Friends brought up the rear, which would look very singular with us, but is common here for them to attend all church buryings.

“Extracts from the Diary of Mrs. Ann Warder” 458-61, The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, Vol. XVII, 1893, No. 1.

posted October 7th, 2016 by Janet, comments (0), CATEGORIES: Death,Food,Free blacks,Pennsylvania,Philadelphia,Quakers,Warder, Ann Head

Hercules and the Birthday Cake for Washington

In the news recently is the recall by Scholastic Publishers of A Birthday Cake for George Washington by author Ramin Ganeshram and illustrator Vanessa Brantley-Newton which was released on January 5. The story is about Washington’s cook, a slave named Hercules, and his daughter Delia who bake the cake of the title. The book for young readers has been criticized because it depicts slavery in the Washington household as rather benign.
Hercules was an accomplished chef who served the president in Philadelphia and was accorded privileges denied other enslaved workers. A bit of a dandy, he ran a tight ship lording it over his underlings in the kitchen and was able to accrue a considerable amount of money by selling leftovers from the presidential table.
Washington regularly rotated his slaves back to Mount Vernon from Philadelphia because of a Pennsylvania law that allowed them their freedom after six months residence. When Hercules was returned to Mount Vernon early in 1797 and was assigned duties as a laborer, which he must have considered beneath him, he ran away.
George Washington was angered and mystified by his action just as he and Martha never could understand why Oney Judge, a slave who was one of Martha’s personal maids, also ran away in 1796 when she was in Philadelphia. In both cases Washington attempted to recover the slaves, but his efforts failed. See recent posts about Oney here, here, and here.
Although notes in the Birthday Cake book do say that Hercules ran away, that fact and his desire to escape are not dealt with in the story itself, nor are the evils of slavery. These are unfortunate errors in judgment on the part of the author and illustrator who are both African Americans. The Washingtons did not comprehend that being “well treated” is not the same as being free. And readers of the book need to understand that too. Oney said “she did not want to be a slave always.” And when asked whether she regretted her decision to run away replied “No, I am free, and have, I trust, been made a child of God by the means.”

See the article on Hercules in George Washington’s Mount Vernon, also J.L. Bell’s blog post on the subject.

posted January 21st, 2016 by Janet, comments (0), CATEGORIES: Book Beat,Hercules,Pennsylvania,Philadelphia,Staines, Ona "Oney" Judge,Washington, George,Washington, Martha

To Conclude the Story of Frances Slocum

FRANCES SLOCUM continued living near Peru, Indiana until 1847 when she died at the age of 74. Pictured is a monument at her grave site erected in 1900. On its four sides is recounted the story of her captivity and life.
The “Lost Sister” has been remembered in both Pennsylvania and Indiana. In Kingston Township, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, there is Frances Slocum Park. It includes a lake, which is a popular fishing spot, and a rock ledge under which the Indians and Slocum are thought to have spent the night after her capture. There are memorial tablets in Wilkes-Barre, and one of the buildings at Wilkes College is named Slocum Hall. The town of Mocanaqua on the southern side of the Susquehanna River, downstream from Willkes-Barre and and across from Shickshinny, bears the Indian name for Frances Slocum “Ma-con-a-quah” meaning “young bear” or “little bear.”
In Indiana there are an elementary school, a high school, a park, and a trail named after Frances Slocum.
In 1840 a treaty between the United States government required the Miami Indians to leave their home in Indiana, ceding their land to the federal government, and relocate in the Kansas Territory. Slocum’s remaining brothers, joined by others, appealed to Congress asking that an exception be granted to Slocum and her descendants allowing them to continue to live on their land. A Congressional Resolution was passed granting 620 acres to Slocum and the members of her village in Indiana. The remaining Indians were called the Eastern Miamis as opposed to those who had to move—the Western Miamis.
PS. A word about the city of Wilkes-Barre. Founded in 1769, it was named after two Parliamentarians who supported the cause of the American rebels: John Wilkes and Isaac Barré. Note the accent on the latter’s name. Barré was an Irish citizen and soldier, son of a Huguenot refugee from Dublin, who is said to have coined the phrase “Sons of Liberty.” The accent has been dropped and the city name is pronounced Wilkes-“Bear,” or by some, Wilkes-“Beary.”

posted August 17th, 2015 by Janet, comments (0), CATEGORIES: Barré, Isaac,Indiana,Pennsylvania,Slocum, Frances

“Frances Slocum: The Lost Sister of Wyoming”

Jonathan Slocum, the father of FRANCES SLOCUM, was a Quaker from Rhode Island who had visited Wyoming Valley (see previous post) and, pleased with what he saw, brought his wife Ruth Tripp and their children there in 1777, settling on land in Wilkes-Barre a short distance from the fort. After the Massacre in July of 1778, Jonathan and his family, who had been spared, did not join the settlers who fled believing that their Quaker principles and friendly relations with the Indians would protect them. They were wrong.

In November three Delaware Indians approached the house in which were Mrs. Slocum, her four young children and the two Kingsley boys the family had taken in after Indians had made a prisoner of their father. The Indians killed and scalped Nathan Kingsley; nine-year-old Mary, with great presence of mind, fled with her baby brother Joseph. The Indians, however, seized Frances, four years and seven months old, her brother Ebenezer, and the other Kingsley lad. Mrs. Slocum pleaded with them not to take Ebenezer as he was lame; they left him behind but took the other two. An alarm was given and the area searched to no avail. Several weeks later Mr. Slocum, his father-in-law, and a boy named William were gathering fodder for their cattle in a field when they were attacked by Indians. The boy escaped but the two men were killed and scalped. Mrs. Slocum bore these terrible tragedies as best she could, knowing at least that two of her loved ones, though dead, were buried. But she still agonized over the fate of Frances. Was she alive or dead?

In 1906, a descendant of the Slocums, Martha B. Phelps, compiled information from various sources, including her grandfather, and wrote the story of Frances Slocum, the Lost Sister of Wyoming. According to her account this is what subsequently happened.

The two sons of Mrs. Slocum, grown to manhood, searched for their sister after the Revolution in the area of Niagara, offering a reward for information about her. With no success. In 1788 the two journeyed into the Ohio wilderness on the same quest. Once again they could find no trace of her. Mrs. Slocum made the trip to Niagara in 1789 where a group of captives held by the Indians had been assembled. She could not identify any as her beloved Frances. Mrs. Slocum died in 1807 without knowing the fate of her child. The remaining family members promised her not to give up the search.

In 1835 while traveling in Indiana, a Colonel Ewing, who did business with the Indians, discovered an aged white woman in an Indian lodge where he stopped for the night. In the course of the evening she told him her name was Slocum and recounted her story in the tongue of the Miami Indians which Ewing understood. Ewing wrote a letter to the postmaster of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, asking that the information he had gleaned be published in a local newspaper in the hope that a Slocum relative or friend might see it. Here is what he wrote:

There is now living near this place, an aged white woman, who a few days ago told me, while I lodged in the camp one night, that she was taken from her father’s house, on or near the Susqueha0nna River, when she was very young . . . by the Delaware Indians, who were then hostile toward the whites. She says her father’s name was Slocum; that he was a Quaker, rather small in stature and wore a large-brimmed hat; was of sandy hair and light complexion and much freckled; that he lived about half a mile from a town where there was a fort; that they lived in a wooden house two stories high, and had a spring near the house. She says three Delawares came to the house in the daytime, when all were absent but herself, and perhaps two other children; her father and brother were . . . working in the field. The Indians carried her off, and she was adopted into a family of Delawares, who raised her and treated her as their own child. They died about forty years ago, somewhere in Ohio. She was then married to a Miami, by whom she had four children; two of them are now living—they are both daughters—and she lives with them. Her husband is dead; she is old and feeble, and thinks she will not live long.
These considerations induced her to give the present history of herself, which she would never do before, fearing that her kindred would come and force her away. She has lived long and happy as an Indian, and, but for her color, would not be suspected of being anything else than such. She is very respectable and wealthy, sober and honest. Her name is without reproach. . . . She had entirely lost her mother tongue, and speaks only in Indian, which I also understand. . . .
I have been much affected with the disclosure, and hope the surviving friends may obtain, through your goodness, the information I desire for them. If I can be of any service to them, they may command me. . . .

The story continues in the next post.

Biography of Frances Slocum, the Lost sister of Wyoming: A complete Narrative of her Captivity and Wanderings Among the Indians, John Franklin Meginness (Williamsport, PA: Heller Bros. Printing House, 1891). Also Frances Slocum: The Lost Sister of Wyoming, Compiled and written by her grand niece Martha Bennett Phelps for her Children and Grandchildren (New York: Knickerbocker Press, 1906), available online HERE.

posted August 3rd, 2015 by Janet, comments (0), CATEGORIES: Indians,Pennsylvania,Slocum, Frances,Wyoming Massacre

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