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Mr. Miner, in his exhaustive History of Wyoming, says :—“The valley is diversified by hill and dale, upland and intervale. Its character of extreme richness is derived from the extensive Alats, or river-bottoms, which in some places extend from one to two miles back from the river, unrivaled in expansive beauty, unsurpassed in luxuriant fertility. Though now generally cleared and cultivated, to protect the soil from floods, a fringe of trees is left along each bank of the river—the sycamore, the elm, and more especially the black walnut-while here and there, scattered through the fields, a large shell-bark yields a summer shade to the weary laborer, and its autumn fruits to the black and gray squirrel or the rival plow-boy. Pure streams of water come leaping from the mountains, imparting health and pleasure in their course, all of them abounding with the delicious trout. Along these brooks, and in the vales scattered through the uplands, grow the wild plum and the butternut, while, wherever the hand of man has spared it, the native grape may be gathered in unlimited profusion. I have seen a grape-vine bending beneath its purple clusters, one branch climbing a butternut, loaded with fruit ; another branch resting on a wild plum, red with its delicious burden ; the while,
growing in their shade, the hazelnut was ripening its rounded kernel.
Such,” he adds, were common scenes when the white people first came to Wyoming (which seems to have been formed by nature a perfect Indian paradise). Game of every sort was abundant. The quail whistled in the meadow; the pheasant rustled in its leafy covert; the wild duck reared her brood, and bent the reed in every inlet; the red deer fed upon hills, while in the deep forests, within a few hours' walk, was found the stately elk. Several persons now living delight to relate their hunting prowess in bringing down this noblest of our first inhabitants. The rivers yielded at all seasons a supply of fish,—the yellow perch, the pike, the catfish, the bass, the roach, and, in the spring season, myriads of shad.”
The only changes that have been wrought out in the aspects and appearance of the valley are such as the wit and industry of man have projected and accomplished in the so-called improvements of the age. Improvements unquestionably have been made, and great ones too; but why, in carrying them out, it should be necessary to mar (and it would seem to have been done almost wantonly in many instances) the face of
nature, by stripping the hill and mountain-side of the growth and groves of trees, where, in former days, was
many a shade that love might share, And many a grotto meant for rest,”
but where now is to be seen only a barren, neglected surface
“ doth give us pause."
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It is only within a few years that this species of vandalism was undertaken, and pretty nearly accomplished with what yet remained of a former luxuriant growth of beech, maple, walnut, and elm trees, that adorned the western banks of the river below the bridge. But the crime met the recompense of reward ; for the Aloods came shortly after and utterly obliterated broad acres, washing away an extent which would probably have remained intact, yielding its increase for years to come, as during ages past it had done, had the trees been allowed to remain to protect it from the relentless foods.
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THE INDIAN REMAINS.
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The whites, upon their discovery and first exploration of the valley, found it occupied by two tribes of
Indians—the Shawanese, on the western bank of the Susquehanna, and the Delawares, on the eastern. The main village of the Delawares was at the bend of the river, just below the town of Wilkes-Barre, and nearly opposite to the first island. The villages of the Shawanese were upon the opposite bank—one not far from the lower end of Ross Hill, and another, the main one, on the Shawanese Flats below.
Upon the site of these, from time to time, either by the washing away of the banks, or in carrying out some improvement, numerous discoveries of Indian graves have been made, and the usual relics which they were accustomed to bury with their dead have been brought to light; but these, instead of being carefully kept together and preserved, have been widely scattered, and are now, many of them, hopelessly lost. To show how little value is attached to these remains, I was told of a perfect specimen of Indian pottery, which only the winter before had been broken by some boys who were playing at football with it.
Besides these Indian villages there must have been others, and the “River Bank” at Wilkes-Barre is likely
, to have been one; for here Indian graves have been frequently discovered, exposed to view either by the washing away of the bank or by leveling it, with a view to improve the same; and now that a horse railroad is projected, perhaps, in carrying out the plan,more
may be discovered. At the bend of the river, about a mile above Mill Creek, are unmistakable evidences that a village formally existed ; for, to this day, numerous pieces of their broken pottery, Aint arrow-heads, and other rude relics are to be found there.
The Shawanese, whose villages were on the western bank, came into the valley from their former localities, at the “forks of the Delaware” (the junction of the Delaware and Lehigh, at Easton), to which point they had been induced at some remote period to emigrate from their earlier home, near the mouth of the river Wabash, in the “Ohio region,” upon the invitation of the Delawares. This was Indian diplomacy, for the Delawares were desirous (not being upon the most friendly terms with the Mingos, or Six Nations) to accumulate a force against those powerful neighbors. But, as might be expected, they did not long live in peace with their new allies : disturbances soon rose between the Shawanese and that portion of the tribe of the Delawares who occupied the country lower down the river. These at length resulted in conflicts so violent, that the Shawanese were compelled to leave the forks of the Delaware, and the whole tribe removed to Wyoming Valley, which they found unoccupied ; here,