Westmoreland's early settlers were nearly all young men. Rarely ever were they beyond middle age. The old people were left behind in the east. Often a young man came across the mountains unmarried, and here located a tract of land, cleared a part of it, and sometimes built a house the first year. Late in the fall or winter he returned to his former home to get married. Then the two set out for their new home. He usually had a horse, not likely a thoroughbred, but an animal upon which the young wife rode, and on which was also carried a few indispensable household goods which could not be purchased here. Sometimes the well-to-do pioneer had two horses. If so, on one was a pack-saddle on which could be carried three hundred and fifty pounds of household utensils. In any event they brought a skillet, a pot, and perhaps a few dishes, an ax and mattock, for clearing land. There was generally some bedding material, though this was often entirely of skins of animals killed on the way or after their arrival. They also brought garden seeds, and a few dried herbs to last them until new ones could be raised.
Seed corn and seed grain generally was kept at the garrison, and thither went the farmer who was in need when planting time came. They also brought seeds from favorite apple and peach trees. The settler himself usually walked all the way, and carried a rifle on his shoulder, for a rifle he must have. Then if they had with them a few pounds of hard baked bread, and if he was fortunate enough to shoot a deer, a turkey or smaller game, they were all right for a week's journey or more through the wilderness. In novels one often reads of a bed in the wilderness, made of small branches of trees, and this is exactly what was done. There were often days of travel without the sign of a human habitation. If the travelers were near a settler's house, be it ever so humble and crowded, they were always welcome. This long journey was almost always made in the springtime, when sleeping outside was not dangerous nor inconvenient. They were nearly always going to a settlement where they were looked for and welcomed by old acquaintances or relatives. The journey had in it much to look forward to with pleasure. Seldom did a family locate in a new country alone. In case the community into which they were moving was entirely new, they formed a company among neighbors in the east who journeyed and located together. These companies were called colonies, and often had among them entire families. As has been observed before, the first log huts or cabins were built near the forts; then they spread out along the military roads, and finally the entire community was settled. Nearly all the forts in our county were garrisoned by the government of the state, and in these the settler and his wife or family were made welcome until the log house was ready for occupancy. Their residence in the fort was therefore not limited to times of danger.
We had few Daniel Boones in our early pioneer days -- men who isolated themselves entirely from companionship, and lived alone in the wilderness. Our people were home-makers, and after the acquisition of land, what they most desired was neighbors. They did not come here to hunt and fish, nor to buy furs and skins from the Indians. Generally they left better homes in the east, but were willing to endure all manner of hardships for a few years, with the hope of abundance later on. They very soon learned to love their new homes, and to fight for and defend them as though they were palaces. However rough the land, however small the clearing, or however rude his mud-plastered log cabin, it was his own, and that consolation compensated him for all its imperfections. Because he owned it himself he was willing to defend it against all the world, if necessary. "To be a land owner," said James G. Blaine in his eulogy on President Garfield, "has been a patent and passport of self-respect with the Anglo-Saxon race, ever since Horsa and Hengist landed on the shores of England." For many years, as we have seen, he worked with his gun near him, and in company with his neighbors. In house building he was compelled to have neighbors, or at least some assistance, in putting the logs in place. He could cut down and hew the timber, and perhaps a neighbor could help him drag the hewn logs to the place selected for the house. Then came the "raising," which was the big day of our pioneer ancestry. The whole community assembled and put up the skeleton of a house in a single day. Sometimes they cut and hewed the logs, and put up the house "between sun up and sun down." A house fifteen by thirty feet, two rooms below and one or two above, was a good sized house for that period. The axe was the principal tool used in house building. On the day of the raising the older citizens had each a "dram" before they began work, for whisky was supposed to be indispensable in every well regular community. There was also a big dinner, which was prepared by the women of the community, and thus both old and young were brought together at the raising, and all had a part to perform. The young man could show his strength lifting logs to their places. And not by any means the least attractive feature of the occasion, were the young maidens who attended to prepare the noon dinner. The young men were rough and unpolished, half hunter, half farmer, but nevertheless they greatly attracted our grand dames. The raising was governed by rules which greatly facilitated the work. The men were divided into two equal parties, and after the military order of the day, each side chose a captain. The logs were pushed up long slides at each side and at the ends, and the party which could the most rapidly put its logs in place were the victors. When it was at its place, it was notched at the ends to fit the long underneath it, and thus be firmly held in place. The man who notched the ends of the logs was called the "corner man," and there were four of these, that is, one for each corner. A sharp axe, a true eye and a strong arm were the necessary requisites of a good "corner man." Had he these qualifications he could very quickly notch the log to fit on the log below, and cuts it upper side to fit the triangular notch of the next log. He must also keep his corner plumb. While he was doing this, those on the ground were moving the next log up the slides to its final position. A good "corner man" must have the last log finished by the time the next arrived, so as not to keep the men waiting. But if he did keep them waiting, sometimes in the morning, when the logs did not have to be raised very high, later in the day he could often indulge in the sarcasm of calling for logs, for each succeeding log had to be raised one log higher. The average log when green, if twenty feet long, would weight not less than fifteen hundred pounds, and it was not an easy matter to hoist it fifteen or twenty feet with their limited appliances.
The average house of say twenty by thirty feet was nine or ten feet to the top of the first story, and the second story was not generally more than four or four and one-half feet to the eaves of the roof. Sometimes when the house was more pretentious, the second was a full story of eight or nine feet. The house was generally built of logs of equal length, making no provision for door or windows. The logs wee afterwards sawed away for such openings. That this was done can be noticed even to this day in our old log houses. Sometimes there was a chimney in the center, with a fireplace on each side, but not often. It was oftener at one side or end of the house, and frequently on the outside, in which case there was an opening through the logs for the fire place. In most houses the chimney was made of stones and mortar. A few houses had chimneys made of small pieces of wood, which, when laid in thick mortar which was made to thoroughly cover the inside, were fairly well protected from the sparks of the fire. The earliest houses had no glass windows. Light was admitted through greased paper, and the light at best was very poor. There was no glass manufactured in America then, and it was a luxury only indulged in by the very wealthy.
At the top of the first story were logs called joists, which were hewn at one side only. They were usually made from small saplings, say eight or ten inches in diameter. On the top came the rafters, made after the manner of the joists, but not so heavy. The roof was made of clapboards -- that is boardlike pieces split from straight-grained trees. They were much larger and thicker than split shingles. Sometimes they were smoothed off with a drawing-knife. From these were also made the rough floor of the second story, if there was a second story at all, for some of the houses were but one story high. The floor of the first story in the most primitive houses was made of clay. Next to clay in advancement was the puncheon floor, which was made of logs split in the center and the flat side turned up. These flat surfaces, with a little dressing, made a comparatively level floor. The fireplace was a great wide opening, so that a log even six feet long could be rolled into it as a back log, and this helped to throw out heat. Over this great fireplace was hung the rifle, bullet-pouch and powder horn. Sometimes the antlers of a deer hung above the fireplace, and from this were suspended the implements of the hunter. The door was hung on wooden hinges. The door latch was a short bar of wood on the inside, and from it upward and through a hole in the door passed the latch-string, so that it could be opened from the outside if the string was out. But when night came, the latch-string could be drawn in, a simple way of locking the door.
The house was made comparatively warm by filling up the cracks with small pieces of wood, and covering them with mortar. It was also a dry house after the floor was put in, but these were almost its only merits. The houses burnt in Hannastown were the best in the county in 1782, yet none of them were better than the description above, and some of them were smaller. The houses in Pittsburgh before the Revolution were not equal to this. In 1774 there was but one house in Pittsburgh with a shingle roof, and it was pointed out as a marvel in wooden improvement, and as an evidence of the enterprise of the city.
Dr. McMillen, who came to Westmoreland county to preach in 1788, says: "The cabin in which I was to live was raised, but there was no roof to it, nor any chimney or floor. We had neither bedstead, nor table, nor stool, nor chair, nor bucket. We placed two boxes, one on the other, which served us for a table, and two kegs served us for seats, and having committed ourselves to God in family worship we spread our bed on the floor and slept soundly till morning. Sometimes, indeed, we had no bread for weeks together, but we had plenty of pumpkins and potatoes, and all the necessaries of life; as for luxuries, we were not much concerned about them."
Dr. Power, who also preached here during the Revolution, says that for years after he came there was not a frame, stone, or brick house within the limits of his congregation, and his charge included the most advanced parts of our present county. Stone houses were not built till the latter part of the century, and even then only when building stones could readily procured. The furniture within the house was, as Dr. McMillen has indicated, nearly all home-made, and generally without sawed lumber.
Our day laborers now would not live in such houses, even though they were rent free, yet these were the houses and castles of our ancestors, who were not inferior to us in physical or moral qualifications, nor were they by nature intellectually inferior to us. If any reader prides himself on being descended from one of Westmoreland's old families will go back far enough he will find his ancestor living in just such a house as is described, and likely in one not quite so complete. Nor will he be ashamed of it, if he is a truly worthy and loyal son of his pioneer ancestry. The greatest and most distinguished many of the last century, Abraham Lincoln, was born in a one-storied log cabin in Kentucky. Daniel Webster, in a political address made during the "Log Cabin" campaign of 1840 at Saratoga, New York, said: "It did not happen to me to be born in a log cabin, but my elder brothers and sisters were born in a log cabin, raised amid the snowdrifts of New Hampshire, at a period so early that when the smoke first rose from it rude chimney and curled over the frozen hills, there was no similar evidence of a white man's habitation between it and the settlements on the rivers of Canada. Its remains still exist. I make to it an annual visit. I carry my children to it, to teach them the hardships endured by the generations which have gone before them."
Many of our early houses had but one room, and sometimes these had a second story, called a loft, which was reached by a ladder, or by pins driven into the logs. On the rafters were hung pieces of smoked meat, all kinds of herbs for medicines, and clothes not in use.
Stables were built like houses, but of smaller logs, and they were very rarely hewn logs. They were built of smaller logs to protect the stock from wild animals, such as bears and wolves, which roamed the county at will, and were very destructive. The stables were not much of a protection against the blasts of winter, for the cracks between the logs were very rarely closed.
When the early settler began to erect a building he always located it near a never failing spring, and thus generally on the lower ground. In felling trees for his house and stable he was clearing his land, and thus his first fields were near his house. Then he cut down others, rolled them together and burnt them. Other trees were deadened, and among these he raised grain. One man in a few days, could deaden the trees on a piece of land that would make a good sized field. In a few years the storms uprooted the deadened trees, and the huge boles by that time were very dry. So if three or four were rolled together, making a "log heap," they would be reduced to ashes in a few hours. In this way the primeval woods were cut away. Very little of the timber was utilized.
The next duty was to fence a few of his fields, that is, such as he intended to farm regularly. Cattle and horses were allowed to wander at large, browsing in the woodland. Bells were hung on the necks of the animals, so that they could be found when needed, and that the farmer might know from the sounds of the bell when they were encroaching upon his fields. Bells ere almost indispensable in the new unfenced country, yet they sometimes wrought great harm. Often the Indians removed the bells from the animals, and, hiding behind bushes or in dark ravines, induced children thither whom they captured, the children thinking they were approaching the cows or horses for which they were searching. The bells on animals were also a protection against wild beasts; rarely ever, it is said, would a wolf or bear attack an animal which wore a bell.
Corn, rye and potatoes were the principal products of the early farmers. They were very anxious to raise wheat, but had poor success in its culture, even in our present wheat growing communities. They believed that wheat and rye could be raised only on high ground, and for that reason settled the highlands first. The more level tracts and rich river or creek bottoms which now constitute our most productive farming communities, were considered too damp for wheat or rye to live in over winter. Furthermore, the rich bottom land was very wild, and had to be reclaimed by more farming than the higher ground. Corn was largely used for bread, and by hunters and travelers in the form of "Johnny cake," which wa originally called "journey cake." The average garden was a very small affair. They raised there the sage from the leaves of which they made a tea, used as a substitute for the tea of commerce; to the real tea our ancestors ere always hostile after the tax was put on it. When Arthur St. Clair first moved his family to Ligonier valley, Mrs. St. Clair brought with a chest of real tea. Many of her new neighbors had heard of it before, but had never seen or tasted it. They came from near and far to attend her "tea parties." They enjoyed it so much that it was but a short time till it was all used up. Coffee was not known to our early settlers, but by the time of the Revolution it was used for special occasions. The root-bark of the sassafras tree, roasted chestnuts and rye were all used in the place of coffee. From necessity our ancestors in that age were clothed almost entirely in home-made garments of linen or wool, or a mixture of the two called "linsey-woolsey," or of deer skins.
Flax culture is so far removed from our generation that perhaps a few words concerning it may not be out of place here, for it was undoubtedly the mainstay among our early pioneers. Flax culture is one of the oldest of human industries. Dr. Heer, the great German botanist, has proved pretty thoroughly that it was cultivated before history was written among the prehistoric races of Europe. After many years of research he asserts that it was cultivated in Egypt five thousand years ago. Its use in the formation of textile fabrics is much older than the use of wool, notwithstanding the fact that sheep are among the oldest of domestic animals.
It is a fibrous plant, from the bark of which all linen is made. It will grow readily on any soil, but best on moist channery ground. The seed is a small brown grain, and from it is manufactured pure linseed oil. The seed being small, a gallon would sow about two acres of ground. It grew about two and one-half feet high, and bore a very pretty blue blossom, a field of which was most attractive to the eye. When ripe it was pulled up by the roots and dried on the ground. The seeds were removed by threshing with a flail. The stem itself was very brittle when dried, and the bark was very tough, so, when "broken" on a crude machine called a break, the bark remained whole, while the brittle stems were reduced to small pieces, and they were easily separated from the fiber. The finer part of the fiber or bark could be spun into linen, and the coarser part was made into a cloth called tow. This separation was done by drawing it lengthwise over a "hackle," which was a board set with numerous iron spikes projecting about four inches. These caught the rough material and allowed the finer fibers to be drawn through.
Then the housewife spun it on a spinning wheel propelled by a treadle tramped by one foot. Spinning wheels can yet be seen in many houses, preserved as mementoes of the past age. Spinning with a wheel was a very ancient and a very simple art. They spun in the days of Virgil, for he says the "slender thread of life is drawn out from the spindles of the Fates." They both spun and wove in Greece, and, still farther back than Homer's age, the Egyptians were weaving linens, which would be of a high order even in our own advanced age. Homer compares the life of man to the "swift flying shuttle of the weaver."
Nor was spinning confined to the pioneer women in the west, but our grandmothers in the best of families were taught to spin and knit, and many of them to weave. The mother of General Washington, herself a woman of high birth and great wealth, could spin, knit and weave, and Martha, the wife of the General, became famous for her knitting societies in the Revolution. The cloth was woven on looms, which were rather expensive affairs, and only perhaps one family in a dozen could afford one. The neighbor who had a loom took in weaving, and retained a part of each web woven in payment for such services. A fabric made of two or linen durable, but not a warm covering for cold weather. So a mixture of wool and linen called "linsey-woolsey" was made. Wool could be prepared for home spinning by carding it, which was done by two hand-cards looking not unlike currycombs for horses. Then it could be spun and woven like linen or tow. But the early pioneers' great difficulty in producing wool was to protect the sheep from wolves and bears, which were found in very section of our county. Foxes, too, were very destructive of young lambs. When the country grew older these animals were banished, and wool carding by hand was abandoned, for in many localities there sprang up fulling mills. To these the farmer sent his wool to have it made ready for home spinning, or he could have it spun at the factory and woven into such cloth as he stood in need of. The woolen factories were run by water-power, and the word they did was not expensive. They also colored the wool and made it into blankets of red and white, or blue and white, some of which may yet be seen among the older families of the county. These factories were not built in Westmoreland county till after 1800, and for twenty-five or thirty years at least the early pioneer families spun and wove their own cloth almost entirely. In 1807 there were two of these factories in Greensburg, as is noticed from the "Farmer's Register" of that year. They colored and carded wool into rolls so that the pioneer's wife could spin them, and for this they charged ten cents per pound. Some time before there was a fulling mill at Jones' Mills, and there was also one erected in North Huntingdon township, on Robinson's creek. Every house in the community had one or more spinning wheels, but there was not one family in ten that had a loom. Through many a long evening, aided only by the flickering light of a tallow dip, did the industrious mother no obvious distress and bend over the spinning wheel, or grasp the countless threads with weary fingers and weave them into lasting webs of cloth for her children.
In the winter men wore caps made from the skins of animals, and in summer they wore straw hats, but all of home manufacture. Later the hatters came and made wool felt hats, which never wore out. Men wore buckskin trousers, and these were worn by men in all ranks of life. They often wore a hunting shirt, as it was called, though its use was not confined to the chase. This was sometimes made of doeskin, and was very slow to wear out. The well-to-do men wore shoes with buckles in the summer, while the poorer class were moccasins, a soft-soled shoe of home manufacture, made of buckskin. Along with shoe buckles and knee breeches went blue coats and brass buttons. There was much more difference between the well-to-do and the poor as to dress than there is now.
Women wore short skits of linsey-woolsey in summer, and of all wool in the winter. They wore beaver or felt hats upon special occasions, and their hats did not differ very much from those worn by men. It was then fashionable to tie a fringed silk handkerchief over the head. Most of the women before 1800 went barefooted in the summer when about their house work, and prior to that many of them attended church, the only dress occasion they had, without shoes. In the winter they wore moccasins. It was at least thirty years after the first settlers came here that silk dresses began to be worn by women. It is true, as we have said, that a silk dress was taken from a house in Hannastown by an Indian, but this was remarkable, and its being silk, was perhaps what preserved the incident to us. Calico and all kindred fabrics were unknown to our ancestors of the Revolutionary period. Part of the time in the early years of the last century calico sold here for one dollar per yard, and as late as 1825 it was selling for fifty cents per yard.
Another crude industry by which they lived was boiling the sap or the maple or sugar trees, and making syrup and sugar. It was done in a very primitive manner compared with the same industry of our age, yet the result was nearly the same. They bored a small hole into the tree and inserted a hollow reed or stick through which the sap dropped rapidly into a trough made of the halves of a split log, each about three feet long. These pieces were hollowed out with an ax, and could be made to hold three or four gallons. This they boiled in kettles over wood fires. The season for making it was very short, being confined to the first mild weather of spring time, and when the farmer had many trees they kept the sap boiling night and day. The sugar camp was a favorite place for young men and women to meet at night to make sugar, and keep the fire going and the water boiling after the older people had gone home, for the boiling was always done in the midst of the grove of trees. The trees on the eastern slopes of the hills and in the bottoms where the warm spring sun struck them best were the most productive.
A Scotch-Irishman located here about 1840 and was very much delighted with the sugar making, which to him was a new way of securing the saccharine substance. He worked his trees all he could in the early spring time, and then told his neighbors that he would "stop off" till his corn was planted and then would begin again. The English novelist, Thackeray, made a greater error than this. In his charming story entitled "The Virginians," written to portray the ill-fated expedition of General Braddock to Fort Duquesne, he represents his hero, George Warrington, as being taken a prisoner by the French and confined in the fort until his escape in October, 1756. The hero started on foot at once by long night journeys through wilderness to his home in Virginia. The novelist represents him as very greatly admiring the hues of the October frosts on the forest of Western Pennsylvania. Traveling mostly at night to escape pursuers, he saw one night a distant light in a valley. The hero was very hungry, yet feared to go to the light lest it be the camp of Indians or hostile French. But finally, spurred on by hunger, he ventured close enough to discover, to his great joy, that they were farmers boiling sugar, for this, says the novelist, "is the season of the year that the Pennsylvania farmers secure their sugar by boiling the sap of the maple tree."
The Indians, too, made syrup from maple sap. They cut a small niche into a tree and caught the drops of sap in pots or troughs, boiling very much as our forefathers did. The sugar, or syrup, was like all other products made for home consumption only. It was long years before there was a sale for it. The industry, with many modern improvements, is yet extensively carried on in many parts of western Pennsylvania, though the product now is almost exclusively syrup.
The woods also at that time were full of wild fruits, and moreover all small berries and fruits grew more abundantly and were more luscious than now. Horace Greely noticed this same change in the New England states, and attributed it entirely to the destruction of the original forests. This so changed the moisture of the atmosphere and the earth, and thus so subjected the tender buds to intense heat, stormy blasts of wind and severe cold, that small fruits scarcely thrive at all now compared with what they did when the country was in its original condition. Blackberries, whortleberries, raspberries, wild plums, wild strawberries, haws, wild grapes, and sarvesberries, the latter ripening early in June, were plentiful then, and of a much finer quality than the few stragglers which the woodsmen now occasionally find. Peach trees bear fruit in their third year, and were easily raised, while, owing to climate changes, can scarcely be grown at all now. Then they grew in every community. So also with cherries, another early bearer and rapid grower. As we have seen from Dr. McMillen's statement, our ancestors lived sometimes for days without bread. Often an escaping captive traveled hundreds of miles through an almost unbroken forest subsisting entirely on wild fruits.
Most of the early families depended mainly for their meat supply on the trust rifle. All men were presumed to know how to handle a gun. Small boys looked forward to a great day in the future when they could be entrusted with firearms. There was a necessity for this long after the Indians were driven away. Judge John B. Steel tells of a well founded tradition of an old landowner near Greensburg who had nine sons, and in boasting about it always added "that each son had a gun." The country was full of game. The most prominent animals were the black and brown bears which were very common and especially so in the eastern parts of the county, where spurs of the Allegheny mountains afforded them a ready passage from their natural haunts. They by nature inhabited deep ravines, and had dens among the rocks and in caves, common in the mountains. They ventured out into the settlement perhaps only in pursuit of food. The settlers' sheep, pigs and calves were always in danger, and much more likely to be carried off in the winter than in the summer, for obvious reasons.
Charles Mitchell lived on the Loyalhanna, not far above Latrobe. One morning he saw a large bear seize one of his half-grown pigs and carry it off. The bear swam the creek with the pig, and then hid it behind some rocks by covering it with leaves. Mitchell would have shot the bear, he said, had it not happened on the "Sabbath day." All parts of the county till at least 1810 suffered from such depredations. Bears were often seen and killed in the county, notable in the eastern part, after 1833. In late years they have been seen on Laurel Hill, and occasionally one has been chased over Ligonier valley. But all of them probably belonged to the Allegheny mountains, and were driven from their lair by hunger or by dogs. It is safe to say that no bears inhabited Westmoreland county except temporarily after 1850. The meat of the bear very much resembled pork, and was highly relished by the pioneers. They invariably laid in a stock for winter, and preserved it by salting and smoking it. The bear skin also made at least the half of a very warm blanket, because of his thick covering of fine soft hair. The bear was hunted with dogs. He could travel long distances through dense underbrush, and was therefore not by any means an easy prey for the hunter. When closely pursued by dogs he climbed a tree for safety, and could then be easily brought down by a ball from a rifle. They were also caught in large steel traps, and were so furious when thus snared that they frequently bit the foot off above the jaws of the trap and thus escaped. They were caught more securely in pens made of strong logs, built on the side of a hill, or so that the bear could easily reach the top of the pen which was bated with a tempting cow's head. But the roof or top of the pen was so arranged that it tilted with the bear's weight and dropped him into the pen, the roof immediately closing over his head. It was thus ready to antrap another bear. They were not crafty or cunning animals, and were often entrapped by these simple devices.
There were also many deer in the country, and they were not confined to the mountains, but roamed all over the present limits of the county. Later, of course, they were driven to the mountains exclusively. They fed on grass, herbs, and buds. They were wild and quick of movement when frightened, but, with the hunter who understood their habits, were comparatively easily shot. Dozens of them were sometimes shot in a single year by one hunter. The deer had certain places that it crossed from one hill or spur of mountains to another, and the hunter who knew these crossings could easily get a shot at them. There were then certain places where the water was slightly salted, and these places, called "deer-licks," were much frequented by them, for they had the same taste for salt that cattle, sheep and horses have. The meat was unlike bear meat; it more nearly resembled mutton or beef. It was dried, or "jerked," for preservation for future use. The skin of the deer was, like that of the bear, of great service to the hunter. It was covered with a thick growth of hair that was almost impervious to cold or rain. When prepared in the form of buckskin or doeskin it was manufactured into breeches, coats, moccasins, etc.
Small game such as wild turkeys, pheasants, partridges, rabbits, squirrels, etc., abounded, and in some localities were a nuisance to the growing crops. Ammunition was too expensive to be wasted on such small game, though wild turkeys were always considered a great delicacy. Twice each year they had droves of wild pigeons to shoot, that is, on their migration north in the spring, and south in the fall. To give some idea of small game hunting let us quote the following from an old newspaper published in 1820. "On July 4th (1820) fourteen hunters, citizens of Donegal township, divided into two parties and commended the pursuit of game. In the evening they met, and the scalps being counted, it appeared that they had killed 239 squirrels, 216 blackbirds, 255 ground squirrels, 258 woodpeckers, 7 ground hogs, 18 hawks and 10 crows. Total number, 1009."
The hunters of that day did not hunt for pleasure alone. From the "Farmer's Chronicle" of January 25, 1828, we learn of a meeting of many citizens of the county, held at the house of Jacob Coon, in Unity township, to devise some means of destroying wild animals which had been committing great depradations among the sheep and poultry. At this meeting it was resolved that the citizens of Derry, Unity, Salem and Hempfield townships, and others, be requested to turn out and form a line or circle around a certain district therein agreed on, and to have a great circular hunt. The line from Greensburg to New Alexandria was to be under the direction of Peter George, John H. Wise, William Williams, William McKinney, John Morrison, George Wallace, John Bigham, James Craig, James Kean and Jacob Frantz. The line then continued along the Loyalhanna and Nine Mile Run to Youngstown, and was to be superintended by James Moorhead, John Craig, Abraham Mansfield, Daniel H. Barr, James Haney, Samuel Cockran, Edward Braden, William Johnston, James Guthrie, John Welsh, Robert Dixon, William Cochran and William T. Smith. The net line was to reach to Tranger's, on the Buzzardstown road, and to be in charge of George Guiger, John Gibson, John Cline, Henry Tranger, John Aukerman, Archibald Shearer, Williams Dinsmore, John Brindle and Henry Fiscus. From Tranger's, the line passed through Pleasant Unity to Greensburg, and was in charge of Michael Poorman, Henry Graff, John Welty, Robert Jamison, Solomon Camp, Daniel Barns, John Barns, Daniel Kuhns, Eli Coulter, John H. Isett, Hugh Y. Brady, William F. Johnston and William Jack.
All were invited to turn out and assist in the work. The place of meeting was about the center of the ground surrounded, at McKissock's place, on the road leading from Johnston's, or Shaeffer's Mills, to Greensburg. No one was to bring firearms, nor dogs unless they led them. All who had tin horns were to take them along. Peter George, Jacob Coon, James McGuire, Peter Bridge, Adam Coon, Jacob Markle, Robert Storey, Oliver Niccolls and Peter Rogers were to stake off the meeting place and manage the final arrangements. To manage the hunt, superintend the line and prevent disorder and confusion, were appointed Major John B. Alexander, Dr. David Marchand, Alexander Johnston, Captain Alexander Storey, Jacob Eichor, George Smith, Major William Kean, John Chambers, John Markle and John Rogers. The reader will notice that the most prominent men in the county took part in this hunt.
From the same paper of February 8th following we learn that the "Grand Hunt" was a great success. The movements began by slow regular steps under a clear blue sky, and were accompanied by horns, bells, rattles, etc. When they met at the center there about two thousand five hundred men, and foxes were running in every direction. There were thirty red foxes killed. The lines also enclosed a bear and a deer, but both escaped before the line was thoroughly guarded. Wild turkeys, pheasants and rabbits were passed by the score, and were kept very little account of.
Source: Page(s) 208-233, History of Westmoreland County, Volume I, Pennsylvania by John N Boucher. New York, The Lewis Publishing Company, 1906.
Transcribed July 1999 by Linda Day Vourlogianes for the Westmoreland County History Project
Contributed by Linda Day Vourlogianes for use by the Westmoreland County Genealogy Project (http://www.pa-roots.com/westmoreland/)
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