How Far Back
Old Time Tales of Warren County


How Far Back

In writing a book of historical nature the question inevitably arises, "How far back shall it begin?" When one consults popular opinion concerning the matter, it is at once discovered that no two people have quite the same idea as to just how far back a history should begin, or attempt to begin. Some believe that a century is far enough back, others think one hundred and fifty years is about the proper distance to back-track on the flying feet of Father Time. Still others contend that any historical book dealing with the development of Warren County should go back into the days of the Indians, "the original inhabitants." But when you investigate you find that the Indians, in spite of the fact that they held the property for quite some time, were hardly "the original inhabitants."

When the great chiefs of the Six Nations flourished in all the gaudy glory of their paint and feathers the land had already changed hands a number of times. The Mound Builders, humble folk that they were, had an American ancestry leading straight back to the soil, and into it. While officers of the D.A.M.B. (Daughters of the American Mound Builders) read long essays, etched on stone tablets, proving they were the Original Families, the evidence seems to indicate the Mound folk were mere moderns, following in line with a long procession that moves forever into the murky mists of time. It would be nice if we knew just who was the first resident of this favored space on the earth, just now known as Warren County; it would be most interesting to know how he looked, what he wore, if anything. If we could know a little something of that first resident's life, his love affairs, his views on the younger generation, his attitude toward prohibition,-how very interesting it would certainly be, what helpful light it might throw on some of our own, present day problems.

He must certainly have been here, that earliest human resident of the county, perhaps peeping from a mound on Bunker Hill, possibly dwelling in a tree-top home in the high branches of some variety of tree all unknown to arborists today. If we could but produce a picture of our first resident on this page, what a priceless thing it would be, we might be amazed at his strong resemblance to the man of today. But he is far gone, that first human who had his habitation here, and these same hills and valleys that knew him well tell no tales concerning him. A strange stone relic here and there, instruments known to antedate the Indian, bits of clay vessels,-but then, these things may not have belonged to the first inhabitant, they may have come thousands of years after. No, we can capture no hint of who or what he was, he is vanished as completely as the great green glaciers that ploughed their way through our valleys, rather he is much more gone for the slow-moving glaciers left their unmistakable trails, while our first inhabitant left nothing at all in the way of lasting traces when he and his kin faded into the unfathomable past.

How far back to go in beginning a history? Opinion is so varied on the matter the only safe course seems to be to go back to the beginning. And what was the beginning? It would be easy to believe our own Warren County might be the site of the original Garden of Eden, never satisfactorily located by historians. Might it not be here as possibly as somewhere else? The Fundamentalists would like to have a book begun with the creation, that would be far enough back for them.

But then you have the Evolutionists to deal with; they would say the story of the creation was figurative or symbolic and the real beginning much farther back. But when you go farther back to begin your book you encounter more trouble, you encounter two schools of creation, each with plenty of enthusiastic supporters who know they are right. Supporters of the nebular hypothesis invented by Mr. Swedenborg and further elaborated and patented by Kant, Herschel and Laplace are divided into two schools and these schools are subdivided to suit individual taste creations. But the nebular hypothesis, which supposes this earth was originally formed from whirling vapors which gathered unto themselves solidity as they spun through space seems to be the commonly accepted theory of men who have a scientific turn of mind; they are pretty well agreed on it. This being the case it has been decided to begin this history of Warren County with the creation of the earth, under the rules and regulations of the nebular hypothesis. This ought to satisfy the people who have said, "You ought to go back farther." We shall begin with the nebular hypothesis and work up. If anyone wants to go farther back than that they will have to do the looking up of data for themselves, the gathering of details would take more time than we have to spare.

The Beginning of Warren County

Sometime in the beginnings of eternity the solar system existed as a nebula composed of vapors which, spinning and whirling in the vast vaults of space, gathered to themselves solidity and became the sun and planets. As our earth took form from the mists, Warren County undoubtedly was born with it, though not recognizable at the time, except by experts.

In order not to burden our reader with the details of all that came between, Mr. Einstein has recently estimated this stretch of time as something like one hundred million years, we will at once bring him up to the good year 1749, when the white man's history began in Warren County. In that year Captain Bienville de Celeron, with a party of gentlemen friends composed of French and Indians, came down the Conewango to the Allegheny, landed on the south bank of the river, and buried a leaden plate declaring the sovereignty of the King of France. Celeron then passed on down the river and out of Warren County's history. He had obligingly left his name for use of a nearby summer resort.

SOURCE:  Page(s) 5-8: Old Time Tales of Warren County; Meadville, Pa.: Press of Tribune Pub. Co., 1932


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