Created: Monday, 14 September 2015 Last Updated: Monday, 14 September 2015 Written by Administrator Print Email

While Judge Henry S. Picking was engaged in hotel-keeping, like every other landlord, he occasionally had some very queer customers. Once a stranger arrived, carrying a heavy bag, which he placed upon the bar, informing Mr. Picking that it contained nails. He stayed over night, and when he paid his bill in the morning the landlord learned that the bag, which had been laid away so carelessly, contained about half a bushel of silver money.

On another occasion, about 1840 a runaway slave was captured in Westmoreland county by Jonas Sparks and Joshua Marks, who brought him to the hotel kept by Mr. Picking. The poor negro was securely tied, his hands being fastened in front of him and his elbows tied with ropes behind him. Mr. Picking persuaded the captors to untie the hands of the slave. The men then went out upon the porch to look for the man who was hunting the slave and who had offered a reward for his capture. They saw him coming and shouted, "We've got the yellow bird in a cage!" The poor slave, trembling with excitement and fear, turned to Mr. Picking and asked, "What shall I do?" He was informed that the door was open and the woods were near. He started for the woods on a run; the men followed, but as it was nearly night, the fugitive was soon lost to view in the forest and the pursuit was abandoned. Seventeen years later the same negro returned, and presented Mr. Picking with a rifle and a razor, at the same time thanking him heartily for saving his life.

(Source: History of Bedford, Somerset & Fulton Counties, PA; 1884)