A History of Oneonta
from its earliest settlement
to the present time
by Dudley M. Campbell. Oneonta, NY
G. W. Fairchild & Co. 1906

Transcribed & Contributed
by Sandy Goodspeed


Reverting to earlier times, I find in "Priest's Collection" already cited, a narrative of much interest relative to the experiences of a pioneer family in the Susquehanna valley. They were located, apparently, some miles further down the river; but the scenes and events described might as well have been witnessed here. As the book is rare, I give liberal quotations, thinking I could not better serve the reader, in whose further interest I have here and there condensed and rearranged somewhat:

"The shortness of the time between the arrival of the family and the setting in of winter prevented the building of a larger and better house. During the severe weather following they became experimentally acquainted with cold, hunger and a variety of sorrows, known only to pioneers of an entire new country. Money was of little use, as food was not to be bought where there was none for sale. There were but five families in the whole community, who having come in the spring of the same season, therefore had time to raise but little. To procure food from a distance was also extremely difficult, there being no settlement where it could be had nearer than old Schoharie, about seventy-five miles away, to which place at that time the road was not much better than none at all. This dreadful winter at last passed away, and with it, in a measure, their sufferings; as by this time they had learned of the Indians how to catch fish, which abounded in the river, coves and creeks of the country. Without this relief they must have finally perished.

"But now a new scene of things, such as I had never before witnessed, " says Mrs. Priest. "was about to captivate our attention. March had began to yield its rains; the snow to feel its dissolving power; every rill and creek of the mountains to swell and roar, plunging forward over crag and cleft to the vales below. The devious Susquehanna began to put on majesty, drinking largely of its annual libation from earth and sky, swelling the headlong waters, which as they rose lifted and tore away the ice from the shores and promontories. Loud sounds were heard to moan along the thick- ribbed ice, the covering of the waters bursting in ten thousand places with the noise of tempests. Already the banks were overflown, and the distant forests of the flats along the river inundated with the sweeping flood, to the very base of the hills. The broken ice began to move, large islands of it to rush upon each other, still breaking more and more, urging its way forward with resistless fury. Now the roar increases, large fields of ice plunge into the woods on either shore; the trees bending, groan and snap asunder beneath the overwhelming load, the ice still passing on till thrown in huge heaps along the shore and in the adjacent woods. Still the main stream pursues its way; every moment adds to the enormous weight it bears. As far as the eye can view, from the tops of commanding eminences, above, below, all in commotion, plunging onward with a loud and steady roar, till stayed on some long level in the river. Here it makes a stand, or but slowly moves; as a vast army on the verge of battle, which halts to adjust its prowess, then to move on again. So the river in its grandeur resumed its course a moment, while from shore to shore the ice stood piled in pyramids, chafing up and down as if in anger. But now the level narrows to a defile between the mountains, when all at once the mass for many miles above, with whirling eddies stood at bay. Now suddenly the waters rise and boil and foam through all the heaps and ranks of massive ice. The upper floods having gathered head, urge on with augmented power the water's course. All at once the frozen dam gives way and rushes on with sound of thunder. Fury and desolation mark its progress, trees torn from their roots lunge here and there; old timber with fences swept from the fields and woods mingle in the ruin. Onward roars the unconquered deluge, from Otsego lake to where the frightful Caughnawaga dashes to foam the descending river with the subdued and shivered ice which ends the scene.

"The sun has gained in this month, the month of March, a higher northern altitude, throwing his fiery beams through all the frozen woods by day, while by night the chill of the forest resumed its sway. Thus alternate between the powers above and the powers below, the juices of the maple were made to flow, when was commenced the curious and arduous work of manufacturing maple sugar. A more pleasing sight than an extensive sugar works, filling by its various branches of operation that space of time with profit and pleasure between the ending of winter and the blooming spring, is not witnessed in a new country. To see from a thousand trees at once of the majestic rock maple the luscious juice streaming as from so many fountains is highly delightful, especially to the isolated backwoodsman; as well as profitable. So it proved to the family of BEACH, who were in want of all things.

"But soon this scene had passed away, when May and June, with their ten thousand blossoms, decked the earth. Here flourished the mountain laurel, over entire ranges of the mountains, which in time of spring is thickly set with flowers, covering the evergreen limbs and leaves of the shrub with an immensity of red and white. This bramble has become the emblem of honor, and as such in ancient times encircled the brows of kings and heroes, because it is an evergreen. On the plains, among the sweet fern, grew a beautiful flower called the honeysuckle. The banks of the river and margins of lesser streams, were in many places adorned with the water pink (cardinal?) a flower of the deepest red that grows on nature's commons. The scarlet wild balm of the alluvials stood in groups here and there, protected by the warrior nettle, well known to the bare-legged and bare-footed boys of those early times. The wild lily of the hills, meadows and marshes bowed here and there its maculate head, which, while it attracts the eye, impresses the mind with a solitary yet tender emotion. In shady and secluded places grew a beautiful flower, variagated with stripes of white, red and yellow, having in shape a surprising resemblance to a real lady's slipper. In marshy places were entire patches of the golden cowslip, the herb of which furnishes a gentle repast, not to be rejected by even the sumptuous tables of luxury.

"The boxwood (dogwood?), a tree known to ancient and to modern artists as a wood valuable for musical instruments, was seen as a stranger enlivening the gloom of the mountains, with a redundancy of its large white blossoms. The mountain ash was found in the dreary swamps of cold and elevated lands, the slender branches of which are beautifully ornamented with thick clusters of scarlet berries, and are in the height of perfection in the death of winter, forming a delightful contrast with the whiteness of the virgin snows.

"Here were various nut-bearing trees, as the butternut, the chestnut, the walnut, and the beechnut, growing on the highland ridges and in the vales, furnishing food and luxury during the evenings of the long winter nights. The grape vine was also found climbing the tallest trees, and winding its tendrils among the branches of the forest.

"At this time a certain root, now almost, if not quite extinct, grew in abundance on the richest soils along the shores of rivers and creeks, which came early in the summer to perfection; this was the leek, and for aught we know was the famous Egyptian leek, and to the first settlers was of great use, being in no sense inferior to the onion, except in size. Another root which, when roasted, was also good for food, was the ground-nut, (wild bean), about the size of a large musket ball, and grew abundantly in the mellow soil of the river flats, in a wild state. This, too, is now nearly extinct. In some places were found a few wild plums, brought no doubt from the far west, by the Indians, where they flourish abundantly. Mandrakes, a fruit now but little known, was then exceedingly abundant, growing on a plant about a foot high, bearing but one apple; but this, when fully ripe, was highly palatable and good, as a transient luxury. "A multitude of berries, of the most delicious flavor, grew here without end. The whortle berry was chief, as to quantity, covering entire tracts of mountain and plain of a certain description of soil, furnishing both to men and animals, especially the bear, a good and nutritious food. But besides these there was, and still is, the blackberry, the raspberry of various kinds, the goosebery, with the wild currant; all of which are delicious, and to the first settlers were a grateful relief in the hour of hunger, during the season which produces them.

"At the opening of the spring innumerable birds carolled from the budding branches of the woods, while ten thousand came flying from the south of such kinds as follow the mild temperature, between cold land heat. Of such is the pigeon, countless millions of which came on the winds, stretching their feathery battallions across the whole arch of heaven and filling the wilderness with the cheerful cry of "tweet, tweet," as if they called for wheat, their favorite food. These little innocents, sent of heaven to supply their wants amid the solitudes of the west, after the horrors of such a winter, were received at that time with shouts and gladness. The net, the gun, with every other means which the hungry ingenuity of the inhabitants could invent, were employed to ensnare them. Ducks of several kinds, flying up and down the river, enlivened the scene; settling now and then in the eddies of the stream. The mountain partridge, the wildest bird among the fowls of heaven, was heard to drum, sitting upon its chosen log, with beating wings, which quiver in the wind not less rapid than those of the burnished humming-bird.

"At this season of the year (March and April), large flocks of the wild goose or brant, high soaring in the air, passed onward in the forked shape of the farmer's drag, following the scream of the parent leader, on their annual jaunt from the islands of the sea to the north and western lakes. These sometimes by a messenger from the sharp, quick-spoken rifle, were briefly invited to descend from the fields above, laden with flesh and feathers, plump and fair, a dainty good enough for kings.

"Even the night was not without its music; as the sweet but lonesome whip-poor-will sung in all directions its three-syllabled song, of "whip-poor-will, whip-poor-will," till morning light. Then hooted the owl, a bird famous among the Greeks for wisdom, the sound of whose voice is better far than no noise at all, and bespeaks by its gruff and far-sounding tones a race of feathered giants, peopling the tree tops of the highest mountains, as well as the deepest glens.

"In those early times, before the Susquehanna was interrupted by mill-dams, and its lucid waters beclouded with sawdust, it abounded with shad, from the sea. These, seeking the still, deep waters of Otsego lake-where to hide their incipient millions, the embryo children for another year's generation-the first settlers, without the common seine, contrived to take in the following singular manner: A whole neighborhood of the inhabitants would join together, and select some island situated near the middle of the river, with a low, gravelly beach, extending some way up the stream. At the upper end of this they would drive down into the sand and gravel a row of large stakes, in a circle sufficient circumference to enclose a rod square of space. At the upper side of this space a door was left open, looking up the stream. Between these stakes, which rose two and three feet above the level of the water, they wove from the bottom to their tops small green bushes close together, so that a shad of the smallest size could not pass through. Then from both sides of the door was driven a row of stakes extending quite to both shores of the river, running in a slanting direction up the stream; between these also was woven green bushes in the same manner, as the pound or circle, destined to receive the shad. When this was finished the whole company, consisting of fifteen, twenty or thirty, as the case might be, went all together several mile up the river to a convenient still, deep place, where they as quickly as possible constructed a huge bush fence extending quite across the river, made of the green bushes of the woods, fastening it firmly together; this they called a bush seine. It was then loosened from the shores and dragged down the stream, the water above being filled with canoes, men, boys, and dogs; hallooing, barking, yelling, and splashing in the water, making as much noise as possible. By this means the shad were frightened, and turned down the river, while on followed the seine toward the winged enclosure. In passing over the rifts or shallows, the frightened fishes were frequently seen tumbling over each other, flapping and foundering to get into deeper water. Soon the floating winrow of wood was driven on between the spreading wings of the weir, as it was called-which had caused the waters to rise a foot or two within-doubling as it was forced between the wings, concentrating a mass of brush, canoes, boys, dogs, and men, inclosing sometimes several hundred shad in the fatal pen. Here leaping in among them head and ears, the fishes were thrown on the dry beach, where they were placed in as many heaps as there were sharers, when one of the number turned his back and cried them off, as it was said to him, "Who shall have this?" and "Who shall this?" till the whole was disposed of, which ended the fishing expedition, when they dispersed to their several homes to enjoy the fruit of their labor.

"By the second year after their arrival, BEACH and his family had made considerable improvement upon his lands. A variety of the rewards of husbandry were springing from the soil, promising in the autumn an abundant recompense for their labor. They had among the variety of the field a beautiful plot of flax, from which they expected to replenish their clothing, which was now nearly worn out. The family felt now a tolerable assurance that the period of their privations was near its close, for the time of gathering in the produce, above alluded to, had nearly arrived. But that their wishes should be consummated, was not the will of heaven.

"On the sixth of October, the winds began to blow from the south. Presently the rain began to dash in slanting torrents to the earth. Soon, however, the wind which was furious, veered around and blew from the north, when the clouds seemed a little disposed to scatter. This was cheering, for on the coming up of the storm they had feared an immediate inundation of all their fields, which lay on the margin of the river the band of which was very low. But this respite proved of short duration; for soon the whirling clouds resumed their blackness and again poured down their overwhelming waters. The small brooks and rills rapidly swelling, came tumbling from the mountains. Night set in and hid by its terrible darkness the devastation and danger. But sleep, says Mrs. PRIEST, came not to her eyelids. All night she watched the progress of the rising waters, frequently loosening the batteau and canoe, till by daylight they were moored at the threshold of the door, which ascertained at least a rise of water full ten feet in a few hours. The utmost of their fears were now realized, as they were entirely surrounded by the overflowing river, the house being on the highest ground. Their fields lay whelmed beneath the flood, while the brown deluge passed by with dreadful roaring, bearing on its bosom huge trees, drift-wood, and stacks of hay which had been gathered on the little meadows above; wheat and rye in the sheaf, pumpkins and flax torn up by the roots,-all afloat in one promiscuous ruin. The rain subsided, the waters fell, the fields appeared again; but all was lost.

"We now," says Mrs. PRIEST, "betook ourselves to gather what we could from among the mud and sand, from the willows and flood- wood along the banks of the river, which was our only hope against another dreadful winter. As for me, I found myself nearly destitute of clothing and saw no way but to leave my home in quest of work, to earn among strangers the habiliments and comforts of life. But whither could I go? There were none living near but were in a similar situation with myself, and had lost their all in the same way; and could not therefore employ me, either to their own advantage or mine. Accordingly, in company with my father, I went very soon after this occurrence in a canoe up the river, toward the place now called Cooperstown, in quest of employment. A few miles below this place lived a family with whom my father was acquainted, whose circumstances in life were independent; where, through his influence I obtained a temporary home.

"After awhile I left this place, and went further toward the Mohawk in quest of another. The day on which I left this family was a gloomy one, for it snowed fast and the distance to which I wished to go was twenty miles-the place now known as Cherry Valley. The way was chiefly through woods, where there were no inhabitants on the road. I set out on horseback, but alone. Many were the sad reflections which passed my mind at this time; as I remembered the comforts of former days in the land of my nativity, old Connecticut. During these reflections, while descending along the deep, narrow snow path down a steep hill to a hemlock gulf, the gloom of which approached nearly to that of night, suddenly a monstrous wolf darted into the road, and stopped just before me. I knew not what to do; terror in an instant had frozen all my powers, so that I was nearly past feeling. It glared upon me a few moments, then slowly retired into the woods, constantly looking back, as if hesitating whether to attack or flee. At length I came to the little settlement where so much endured from the knife and tomahawk of the Indians in the Revolution." At Cherry Valley Mrs. Priest met Judge Isaac PARRIS, living "about two hours' ride" toward the Mohawk. With his family she passed the next six months, when news of the sudden death of her father, by drowning, recalled her to the home clearing on the Susquehanna. Continues the narrative:

"After a settlement of my accounts with this worthy family (that of Judge Parris), I took my leave, when they bestowed the sum of eight dollars over and above my proper wages, as a token of the interest they took in my afflictions. On my way to the head of Otsego lake (to Springfield), I bought a bushel of wheat, and got it floured there; where I also procured a passage in a batteau down the lake and river, being an unexpected opportunity, which was a distance of fifty miles to where my mother was. On the third day I came within sight of my home.

"I found them as I anticipated, entirely destitute of bread, and therefore hastened to relieve them with the flour I had provided. But on opening the sack, what was my surprise to find that the unprincipled miller had taken one-half of it and substituted in its place Indian meal; which, notwithstanding, made very good bread, yet afforded on that account no apology for the miller, as on his part it was an absolute theft. They were also nearly destitute of clothes; on which account I lingered not to distribute among them those I had procured during my eight months servitude, two months at the first place and six at the home of Judge Parris. A few days only passed after my return when my mothers began to be more resigned and cheerful; new hope sprung up from the encouragement of conversation, and from my exertions to make them more comfortable. However it was evident that a settled melancholy had seized her for its victim, which never left her till it ended in complete distraction; out of which she finally emerged, but not until her last sickness, when the one fixed and direful thought, leading her to despair of final salvation, was suddenly extinguished by strong and certain hope of eternal happiness through the great Redeemer."

The want of grist-mills was a privation of no small magnitude, to the first settlers of the Susquehanna. One story of hardship arising out of this circumstance will illustrate perhaps hundreds of like nature. Having for a long time made bread from corn pounded in a mortar, the family greatly coveted meal of a better quality, and hearing that some six or eight miles down the river was a mill newly built, they were anxious if possible to carry a little grain to be floured. Accordingly the eldest brother, a lad of about fifteen, undertook to carry on his back three pecks of corn to this mill, as from the time of the father's death all kinds of hardship incident to the care of the family had fallen to the share of this boy.

There was no road to the place, except the Indian path, which for ages had been the highway of warriors and hunters. The way was a gloomy one, being wholly through the woods, and accompanied by a circumstance which heightened in the child's imagination the terrors of the journey. The path led exactly by a certain tree, called the White Man's tree, where in the time of the Revolution the Indians had burnt a prisoner whom they had taken, the remembrance of which was painted, or stained, after the Indian manner, on the side of the tree. It was an elm, and was preserved many years after the country was settled as a memento of the tragical affair. It stood at the lower end of what is called the dug- way, immediately above the bridge which crosses the Susquehanna, near the upper end of the village called Unadilla. The ignorant, the superstitions, and children on passing this tree never failed to fear lest the victim's spirit might appear.

Now as poor Richard drew near and still nearer this tree the more its dread increased upon him, till he fancied that in reality he saw something stir close by its roots. He now stood still, straining his eyes to undeceive himself if possible. But to no purpose; there certainly was something, and that something had motion. The more he looked, the more it seemed like a man. He now had thoughts of returning, it seeming impossible for him to approach, as the thing which seemed to be alive and had motion might be the ghost. If it was, he thought he should died if he spoke to it, or that some strange thing would certainly befall him. But rather than give up his expedition in hope of obtaining some meal, he adventured slowly and cautiously a little nearer. Ere he was aware he trod on a dry stick, which broke, when in an instant the face of a man looked upon him and slowly rose to the height of a tall person. Richard now had no doubt but this was the soul of the burnt man; which so flurried his sight and confused his thought that it prevented his perceiving it to be a very aged Indian.

"The Indian, perceiving that the boy was frightened, spoke to him in English, in a good natured voice, and told him to come to him, as he would not hurt him. Richard now went boldly up to him, being naturally a stout-hearted boy, yet not without some trepidation. "Sit down," said the Indian to the boy; "Me tell you something. See this tree?" and here he pointed to the painted marks on the smooth spot, where the bark had been removed for that purpose long before by the hatchet of the Indians; "Me cut that, me paint him, too. A hundred moons ago (about nine years), me, twenty Indians more, come through woods from Sopus country, North river-have five prisoner, tied hands behind 'em. One man get way, when all sleep, stole gun shoot, one Indian fall dead. Pretty soon 'nother gun shoot. Nother Indian fall dead. Me see him, me shoot-broke him leg-carry him back-tie him to tree-burn him to Great Spirit. His name COONS, Dutchmans. We go on to Canada. Me now go Canada forever, pretty soon." Here they parted, the boy to the mill, the lone Indian to his fellows.

"It was late in the fall. Poor Richard was literally clothes in rags, with nothing but some cloth moccasins on his feet, although there was then on the ground quite a flurry of snow. But he shouldered his bag and about twelve o'clock arrived safely at the mill. What was his disappointment in perceiving it to be a mere temporary thing, placed over a small rivulet, not capable of turning a wheel larger than a common grindstone. On application to the proprietor to know if he would grind the corn, he received for answer: "No, it is impossible; you see the stone is but a small and poor one, which I have in the most miserable manner cut out of that rock there, and it will take all day to grind your grist; I cannot do it."

"This answer so discomfited and grieved Richard that he cried very much all the while pleading with the man to grind his corn for him, as it was too hard to be obliged to carry it back in the same state he brought it, and disappoint his mother and the children, who had tasted no good bread for a great while. At length the man was moved with pity, and told him he would try. The mill was set in motion and the grain poured into the hopper, when he waited the residue of that day, all night, and till near noon the next day before the corn was ground. He now shouldered the precious burden and retraced his way. It was nearly night when he was heard to halloo to be brought over the river in the canoe. One of his feet was naked, having worn out the moccasin and left it on the way. He was nearly exhausted, having ate nothing from the time he left home till his return-two days and a night-except the raw meal from the bag; as the miller, either from neglect or hardness of heart, had offered him nothing, and he was too stout-hearted to ask for any.

"In those early times, very soon after the Revolution the Indians were troublesome; not so much so on account of any hostile disposition, as from their strange manners and customs-a notable specimen of which was given at a certain time when several tribes met in the very neighborhood which constituted our little community. These were the Oneidas, Onondagas, and Tuscaroras, who had met at this place by the appointment of certain land speculators who had purchased of the Indians a tract somewhere in this region. They were here to receive their pay in specie, from the hands of one McMASTER, the agent of the purchasing company.

"During their stay among us there was one continued scene, night and day, of yelling and confusion; pow-wows, fighting, rough- and-tumble, leaping, and shooting at a mark, with both arrows and guns-which constituted their sports. Their fires illuminated the woods during the night; around which several tribes agreeable to their own customs, slept or celebrated the warlike deeds of their ancestors, in their war songs and dances, which were accompanied with the indescribable gestures of Indian education and devotion called the "pow-wows." And however wild and fantastic they may appear to to the white man, yet to them these songs, dances, and terrifying attitudes are, and always have been, the solemn and only modes by which traditionary accounts of former ages-their origin, deeds of fame, mighty battles, conquering or conquered, and of their continuance on the earth, the earth's origin, their belief in the Great Spirit-were handed down, from generation to generation, by impressing them on the minds of the young savage in this emphatic and never to be forgotten way.

"A company of these, having made free with ardent spirits procured of some of the families of the neighborhood, who had purchased it at Cooperstown for the occasion, came one evening to my father's house, with the view of getting whatever he might have to sell that was eatable. They had been in the room but a few minutes, when they fell to dancing after their manner; which was led on by a certain old squaw, who boasted much of being the mother of the great chief whom they called Shinnawana, or the Big Warrior, at the same time exposing her naked bosom, saying as she leaped here and there about the room: "Here me nourish Cornelius, great Shinnawana." Directly this big warrior, by way of demonstrating his prowess, knocked down an Indian of another tribe with his fist, called Schoharie John, which in a moment brought on a general fight. It seemed however, as afterwards ascertained, that Schoharie John had said something highly offensive to the big warrior, which invited his vengeance in a particular manner. Accordingly the offending Indian had no sooner fallen then Shinnawana sprang upon him with both feet and fell to stamping him down with all his might. This act, together with the rest of the scuffle, broke the floor, sleepers and all, when the whole company rolled into the cellar, one undistinguished mass of yelling Indians. In the morning my mother asked the big warrior why he had so abused poor Schoharie John, when he replied: 'Me make him feel my big power.'"

Mrs. Priest was early left a widow, the death of her husband being due to "a cold" contracted in the rescue of several persons from drowning, in the time of high water." Later she took up an uncleared farm; but says the narrative:

"I soon caused a house of logs to be built, in the very midst of a dense forest of pines, which from a hundred directions might have fallen upon it had the winds been over furious. To remove this alarming exposure I had felled several acres which were immediately about the house, so that when this was done I was literally in the midst of an immense brush-heap. Out of this circumstance arose another difficulty, which had well nigh been more ruinous than the dreaded whirlwinds acting on the trees. The surrounding wilderness filled with the brushwood and leaves of a thousand autumns, dry as the scorched forests of the torrid zone, by some means had taken fire at several miles distance. The air was filled with a smokey haze, the sun travelled in blood, the stars were dimly seen. Very soon in the night the distant hills in various directions were seen, flaming to their tops. Some places appeared to burn but feebly, while others poured forth flames as a great furnace. There the fire, on reaching a grove of withered pines, covered with pitch, at once darted to the clouds, in one long tissue of flame, till the pitch exhausted, a chasm appeared; here the streaming grandeur floated on the air as the mysterious light of the Aurora. At such a time, when the woods were burning in every direction, the only safety from ruin of all fences and all buildings was for the people of the neighborhood to run together, with axes, hoes, and rakes, and with these instruments remove the dry brush, leaves, etc., around their fields, or on the sides exposed to the current of the fire; then to set what are called 'back-fires,' so that by the time the fire of the woods should come near, it was met by a counter current, and thus assuaged, amid sweat, alarm and exhaustion.

"Day and night the fire continued to make rapid progress. My fears now began to be alarmed lest sooner or later the woods which encompassed my house, as well as the several acres of dry, fallen trees immediately about it, would take fire, when nothing could save my dwelling from its fury. I was alone and at a distance from neighbors. It was impossible to procure aid, as all people were engaged to save their own fences and houses. The fire had reached the neighboring hills, raging before the wind like a tornado, trees falling with a dismal crash, the flames flying like meteors. I clearly saw my fate; for the brush lay piled to the very eaves of my house, on all sides but the front. What could I do? Must I flee and leave my all to the flames, and sink in one sad house to ruin almost irreparable? Suddenly in the midst of my trouble it struck my mind that I would try one experiment, which would either be instantly fatal, or would save me; and this was to pull away the brush, where it came in contact with the house, and then set it on fire, calculating that it would naturally pursue the dry wood. This was my rescue; for in a moment it took fire and fled from the house every way, through the immensity of brush, farther and farther, roaring as it receded."

Apropos of the forest fire, the editor of Mrs. Priest's narrative introduces some interesting observations on what was perhaps the most important early industry:

"Perhaps no river of America abounds more in forests of pine than the Susquehanna, or of a superior quality, covering generally the mountain ranges from Otsego to the tide waters. But at the time of Mrs. Priest's settling of her new farm, these forests had not been broached by the axe of the raftsman. Of this description of enterprise among the first settlers on that river, a history of no small magnitude might be written, as for many years the ambitious exertions of the most for accumulating property were directed to this pursuit. Were we capable of chivalric and comic description, there is not wanting incident in the history of rafting on the Susquehanna to furnish both subjects with an amplitude of matter, and we may add, even of a tragical character. It is said of the whalemen of Nantucket and the fisheries of Maine, that however poor a young man be, if he is courageous and skilful in capturing the whale he is sure of being held in high estimation by the ladies, and even those who are rich; while at the same time, if the sons of the opulent do not labor to acquire glory in this way, their gallantries are far from being acceptable with the fair arbiters of that seaboard. We believe we should not exceed the truth were we to say as much of the raftsmen of the Susquehanna and the Delaware, in the time of their first settlement. In all ages, the most dangerous pursuits of men have drawn forth the admiration, and even the love of women; this very propensity, however difficult to account for, has laid the foundation and given the spring to all extravagant achievement among men since the world began. The Susquehanna is a river of exceedingly crooked, and in many places fearfully rapid, on which account in the first attempts to navigate or "run" it, as the raftsmen say, before its channels were better known, lives were often lost-by staving the rafts on the heads of islands, among flood-wood, or hidden trees fastened to the bottom; and in running the rapids, being driven ashore by the violence of the current in the short bends of the stream, and various other ways. On this account the importance of the pursuit was magnified, so as to fix on the man who had hardiness of soul, courage, good judgment, a knowledge of the channel, and withall, was lucky, a complete veneration of both men and women; and though his character otherwise might not be the most inviting, yet such a circumstance would be nearly overlooked on account of the all-absorbing qualification that he was a first-rate steersman. He could always commend the highest price, and was sought after equally with a first-rate whaleman among the oil merchants whose wealth is derived from the sea on the coasts of Newfoundland and the north; as the value of a ten cribbed raft of pine boards was of equal importance to the owner with a ship to the East India Company-his all being often at stake in one such raft. During the course of this river, there are many dangerous places occasioned by its crookedness, its falls, its rapids, and its islands, where all the skill, strength and ingenuity of the steersman and from four to eight men are brought into action for many miles together. Not even the extreme vigilance of a ship pilot on the most dangerous coasts of the ocean, in a storm, is more needed to guide and save his vessel than the exertions of a steersman of a raft on that river, as well as also on the Delaware. There is no class of human exertion, except the field of battle, which is capable of exciting more interest in the beholder than the deep fixed solicitude of a steersman and his hands passing a dangerous rapid.

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