Bows, Bullets, and Bears

John L Moore


Frontier Pennsylvania Series Jack Armstrong died violently along the Juniata River in early 1744. Armstrong was a rough-and-tumble frontier trader whose sharp business practices antagonized one Indian too many. He and...

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Frontier Pennsylvania Series

Jack Armstrong died violently along the Juniata River in early 1744.

Armstrong was a rough-and-tumble frontier trader whose sharp business practices antagonized one Indian too many. He and two men who worked for him traveled into the woods in early 1744 and never came out again. Word soon crossed the frontier that all three had been murdered. Obscure, but richly detailed documents tell how and why Iroquois Indians living along the Susquehanna River at present-day Sunbury developed evidence that exposed the Native Americans involved in Armstrong’s murder.

John L. Moore’s nonfiction book contains true stories of Armstrong and other real people caught up in the struggles that took place all along the Pennsylvania frontier throughout the late 1600s and 1700s. The stories are set mainly in the valleys of the Delaware, Juniata, Lehigh, Ohio and Susquehanna rivers.

Other chapters tell how:

  • The Philadelphia jury in Margaret Mattson’s 1683 witchcraft trail delivered a split verdict. She was acquitted of bewitching her neighbors’ cows, but found guilty of being known as a witch. Presiding over the trial was William Penn, who let Margaret go home after her husband and son posted a bond for her “good behavior.”
  • Moravian missionaries who traveled along the Susquehanna River’s West and North Branches during a famine in 1748 found many Indians sick with smallpox and suffering from starvation. The people in one native town were boiling tree bark for food. In another village they were cooking grass.
  • Early in the French & Indian War, an influential Iroquois chief known as “The Belt of Wampum” urged Pennsylvania officials to build a fort on the Susquehanna River at the native town called Shamokin, present-day Sunbury. “Such Indians as continue true to you want a place to come to and to live in security,” The Belt said in early 1756.
  • Frances Slocum, a small girl kidnapped by Indians from her home along the Susquehanna River during the America Revolution, spent most of her adult life as a Miami Indian. In 1839, her brother Joseph and his daughters traveled from Pennsylvania to Indiana to visit her. They traveled by stage coach, canal boat and horse-drawn railroad during their 19-day journey west.

Anecdotes throughout the book describe how Native Americans and Europeans hunted bears, ate bear meat, and used bearskins for blankets and mattresses. 


“Moore demonstrates his command of such subjects as relations between the Native Americans and English while drawing lively portraits of the individuals who shaped this tumultuous period in our nation’s history.”

~ Robert B. Swift

Author of “The Mid-Appalachian Frontier: A Guide to Historic Sites of the French and Indian War.”  

“Once again, John Moore has managed to enrapture even those who detest history. With his story full of murder, wars with bears, witches placing spells on cows and lost hats, the author yet again takes the reader back in time in order to witness stories of old. His masterful weaving of historical accounts with vivid explanations helps the reader to not only understand but also enjoy the stories from the old frontier.

“For those looking for a relaxing evening with a good read and a strong cup of tea, I recommend picking up Bows, Bullets & Bears. You'll be glad to peruse the lives of old and hear about the adventures that not only entertain, but did actually happen.

~ Catherine Felegi of Cranford, N. J.

Writer, editor, and blogger at:

“General Braddock and his European troops were unprepared for irregular (guerrilla) warfare in the forested mountains of Pennsylvania.  They failed not because of incompetence, but because their competencies were mismatched to the environment in which they tried to apply them.  There is a lesson here for moderns.  Adapt or die.  Braddock did the second.  …

“Moore’s accounts of life on the Pennsylvania frontier quickly have me using Google Earth to swoop, hover and trace watercourses. As a backpacker I’m amazed at how fast and far both settlers and Indians traveled, usually on foot, over the rugged terrain.  They routinely handled rain, snow, cold and disease as simply a part of life.  Moore’s book … makes me appreciate how little human nature changes over the centuries – but also how tough those folks living at the edge of civilization were.  Awesome writing!” 

Thomas J. Brucia, Houston, Texas.

Bibliophile, outdoorsman and book reviewer  

by John L Moore
Page Count: 96
Trim Size: 5 x 8
Publish Date: October 27, 2014
Imprint: Sunbury Press
Genre: History

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