by John L Moore
Frontier Pennsylvania Series
As he traveled across the Pennsylvania Frontier in 1743, naturalist John Bartram didn’t know what to expect when he accepted an invitation to spend the night in the cabin of a white man who traded goods for furs with the Indians. The cabin was near the native town of Shamokin (present-day Sunbury) along the Susquehanna River. “About midnight, the Indians came and called up him and his squaw,” Bartram wrote later. “She sold the Indians rum. ... Being quickly intoxicated, men and women began first to sing and then dance round the fire.”
Bartram is one of many early Pennsylvanians that people this colorful non-fiction work. Others include Conrad Weiser, the Pennsylvania Colony’s Indian agent; William Penn, the colony’s visionary founder; Madame Montour, an interpreter who was the daughter of an Algonquin mother and French father; and Major General Edward Braddock, who led British troops against the French army in the Ohio River Valley.
Author John L. Moore raises and answers many questions about who the frontiersmen and natives were and what they did. What was William Penn’s colony like in its early days? How did the Lenni Lenape Indians living in Penn’s colony obtain their food? What did they eat? How did they get along with Penn, and how did Penn get along with them? Why did Penn’s sons recruit athletic young men to walk the boundary of land the Lenape weren’t especially interested in selling?
These true stories are set mainly in the valleys of the Delaware, Juniata, Lehigh, Ohio and Susquehanna rivers. They chronicle many aspects of a nearly forgotten past.
The Iroquois, for example, claimed the land along the Susquehanna and its tributaries by right of conquest of the Susquehannocks. They regarded the Juniata River Valley as prime hunting land. During the late 1740s they became distressed to see white settlers cross the Susquehanna and begin to build homesteads in territory they hadn’t sold and had intended to reserve for themselves.
In May 1750 a posse of magistrates and lawmen sent by Gov. James Hamilton rode up the Juniata and began evicting the squatters. Iroquois representatives accompanied them and forced the Pennsylvanians to set fire to the cabins of the homesteaders.
Eventually, the Indians left the Susquehanna Valley. White settlers who subsequently ventured into the upper Susquehanna during the 1780s came into a region that was still remote and desolate. The forests and fields of Pennsylvania still teemed with game, and one of these whites, Philip Tome, became a professional hunter. He let his dogs chase deer, used torchlight to hunt at night, and kept written records. One year, “every time I saw a bear, I marked it down, and in a month I counted 43,” Tome said.
Page Count: 110
Trim Size: 5 x 8
Publish Date: November 29, 2014
Imprint: Sunbury Press