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DURING my long residence in the Southwest, I have often been surprised at the want of interest manifested in the preservation of family reminiscences. Many grandchildren know not where their grandparents came from. An adventurer from the North strays off to this new land of promise, forms new family ties, and finally dies and is buried, and carries to an unmarked grave much which his sons should have been proud to remember and transmit to their posterity. Even titles to land have been forfeited by this neglect of parental or filial obligation. I have almost literally helped in deciphering the dim records of old gravestones to aid Northern claimants to establish heirship to Southern dead men's property. What an unexpected surprise to a descendant of Dr. Timothy Dwight, if in some old Georgia cabin were yet to turn up a quaint tin box, containing the long-lost original title-deeds of his father and General Lyman to all that rich section of country embracing the city of Natchez and the surrounding region ! But it is in reference to what is more precious than lost land-titles that I would infuse a new spirit into every rising Southern village. Pride of ancestry is as valuable at the South as at the North, and should contribute as much in building up a Texan family as a New England town.
I was born in Columbia County, in the State of Pennsylvania, on the 12th of February, 1807. I am a lineal descendant, by my father's side, of those noble patriots who maintained the celebrated siege of Derry, in the north of Ireland, against the combined forces of James of England and the king of France. This siege lasted from December, 1688, to August, 1689. From this dates the “ Protestant succession,” and William, Prince of Orange, ascended the British throne. The sufferings of the people, during that memorable occasion, equal anything to be found in the records of English history. For several generations after coming to this country, there was preserved in my family a knife with which the original owner, of the name of Hutchison, dug up roots beneath the walls of Derry upon which to subsist during the horrors of that terrible siege. (Read Macaulay's England and Charlotte Elizabeth's Sketches.)
At what time my family crossed the Atlantic I am unable to say. I think it was in 1732. But my grandfather, Joseph Hutchison, was a native American, and was born in Dauphin County, Pennsylvania, near the spot where now stands the city of Harrisburg, the capital of the State.
In early times the Susquehanna, as well as all other Northern rivers, abounded in shad. It was customary, immediately after wheat-harvest, in those days, for neighbors to assemble together, and in a short time, by dragging the seine, to supply their families with fish sufficient to last during the ensuing winter. During my grandfather's boyhood, in one of those assemblies of the farmers for fishing, a violent thunderstorm coming up, my great-grandfather took shelter under a tree on a small island opposite where the city of Harrisburg now stands, and was instantly killed by a stroke of lightning
Soon after the birth of my father, my grandfather and his brother Samuel removed to that part of Northumberland County (Pennsylvania) now called Columbia County, where they purchased a large tract of land on the Chillisquaque Creek, near the present village of Washingtonville, and midway between Danville and Milton. This purchase included Bosley's Mills, where there was a small fort during the Revolutionary War. This neighborhood was the scene of many stirring incidents in the early settlement of the country. I remember, when a child, of hearing many romantic and thrilling incidents of border warfare and Indian barbarities. Whole settlements were often broken up, and the inhabitants killed or scattered. It was customary for families, on a sudden incursion of Indians, to hide their most valuable articles of property and flee to some more populous and better defended locality. I have, when a child, seen various articles, such as pots, gridirons, garments, etc., turned up by the plough in my grandfather's field, where they were buried in haste by the fleeing inhabitants. The place of my nativity is about thirty miles south of the valley of Wyoming, the scene of a massacre by Indians and Tories which will be forever remembered in the arnals of the country.
I will here relate an incident which I heard from my mother, and which illustrates the state of the times and the character of the people. At the massacre of Wyoming the whole region was aroused and the people fled to the block-houses. My mother, then a small girl, and residing with an aunt, had to flee with the rest. Hungry and exhausted, and gaining a respite from their savage pursuers, she and her young friends supplied themselves with a quantity of red apples, taken from a crib on the wayside which had been abandoned by its
When this act of taking the fruit came to the knowledge of the parents and guardians of the children, it was construed into a species of theft, and though in the direction of their Indian pursuers, all were required to retrace their steps and replace the apples, and thus run the risk of meeting the Indians. Such a requirement in a parent or guardian in our day would have been viewed by most persons as a cruel exposure of the life of a child. But in those days children were taught elevated views of morality, and the slightest approach to theft or falsehood was most promptly punished. The effect upon the mind of my mother of this severe test of her courage and obedience was most beneficial, and she often alluded to the incident in her family as exerting a happy influence on her character in all subsequent life.
My father, Andrew Hutchison, the second son of my grandfather, was a man of fine personal appearance, of medium size, of great muscular activity, and was very popular in his neighborhood. Possessing a better education than most other young men of his day, his services were in great demand as a surveyor, a writer of deeds, letters, etc. His earlier days were spent in attending the mills of his father and uncle, and towards manhood he was engaged in teaching school. He married young and settled on a small farm adjoining that of my grandfather. In 1813 he was chosen colonel of a regiment of militia which was ordered to the northern frontier to engage in the war with Great Britain. Though but six years old at the time, I remember every important event that occurred—the frequent mustering of the militia, my father's gay military dress, the patriotic songs, and many other thrilling incidents of a time of war.
At last, my father's departure for Black Rock, my mother's tears, and the adieus of friends are all remembered. Equally well do I remember my father's return in a short time-his illness, his death, in dead of winter, amid the deep snow, the grave (the first I had ever seen), and the painful impression I long enter