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In May, 1783, when Capt. Spalding arrived on the ground, the Indian grass on the flats was so tall as to reach to a man's shoulders when on horseback. To this his people set fire: the raging fames ascending to the heavens-sweeping-coursing—whirling along the plain for several miles, was long dwelt on by the inhabitants as a scene, exceeding any thing they had ever witnessed, or imagined of sublimity and grandeur.
With more than even hoped for promptitude of approbation, the Assembly, at their August session, received the report of the commissioners, and confirmed all that had been done, or was recommended.
The division of Wyoming into three towns was approved, and made legal, as was the election of magistrates. A law was forthwith passed to repeal “ An act to prevent and stay suits from being brought against the inhabitants of Wyoming," which had not yet been six months on the statute book. The terms proposed to the inhabitants were recognized as “generous offers," and the commissioners were complimented by a flattering eulogium for the “laudable zeal and industry” displayed by them* in the execution of their mission.
After the conclusion of peace, the company of Capt. Robinson had been withdrawn from the Valley, leaving that of Capt. Shrawder, the intimate friend of Alexander Patterson, to afford such protection as was intended to be granted to the inhabitants. In view of ulterior measures, shadowed forth by the proceedings of Assembly, a resolution was adopted, September 22, 1783, “ That the Supreme Executive Council are hereby empowered, and required to take into the service of this State, one major, two captains, four subalterns of the officers of the Pennsylvania line, who are forthwith to be instructed to enlist two full companies of the soldiers who have served in the Pennsylvania line, to serve such time as to the Supreme Executive Council, or the succeeding Assembly shall seem meet, etc.” This resolution was passed with closed doors, in secret session, and recorded on the secret journals of the House; and was regarded when known, as a direct infraction of the articles of confederation. Major James Moore was appointed to the supreme command. Capt. Shrawder re-enlisted his company, while Capt. Christie enlisted a company near Philadelphia, and repaired immediately to Wyoming,
* It may excite a smile when known, that the committee who thus laud, and the commissioners praised, consisted in part of the same persons. Messrs. Joseph Montgomery, William Montgomery, and Mr. M'Clean, being members of both.
Capt. Patterson having received his commission as magistrate, returned from the city, where he, the sole and prime agent, had been to superintend, to advise and direct all these movements, preparatory to the decisive measures so manifestly contemplated. Brave undoubtedly he was, full of enterprise, overflowing with zeal, he took up his quarters at Wilkesbarre, near the fort, changing the name of the place to Londonderry, from which, in his communications, he dated.* And fully armed with legal and illegal power, forthwith commenced its exercise.
Col. Zebulon Butler, (by whom Patterson had in 1770 been starved out and made a prisoner,) returned from the army with his lady, (having married Miss Phæbe Haight at West Point, the previous winter,) arriving at Wilkesbarre on the 20th of August. How welcome was his presence to friend or foe, may be easily imagined. The licentious soldiery, freed from the restraints of discipline, which the presence of an enemy tends to enforce, and encouraged by the civil authority, became extremely rude and oppressive. They took without leave, whatever they fancied. Several persons had been arrested and brought before Captain Shrawder. Col. Butler, indignant at the treatment the inhabitants suffered, expressed his opinions freely, and for himself, said he was going to camp, was still a continental officer, and swore his soldier's oath,“ set fire to 'em,” they shall not stop me. It was enough. A writ was issued, and Col. Butler arrested on the 24th of September, as it was said, for high treason. Surrounded by a guard of soldiers, he was conveyed to the fort, and treated with great indignity. The next day under a military guard, the gallant veteran was sent by Esquire Patterson to Sunbury, a distance of sixty miles. When delivered at the jail, lo! there was no mittimus, and Sheriff Antis said he could not legally detain him. But that day two of the new Wyoming justices having taken the oath of office at Northumberland, made out a mittimus, directing Sheriff Antis to hold the prisoner in custody, until more accurate documents could be procured from Justice Patterson. Very soon after, satisfactory bail being offered, Sheriff Antis set Col. Butler at liberty, and he returned to his family.t
• We cannot help adverting to the gallant Ogden. Where was he? What was his fate? His name does not appear that we have been able to learn, during the war. Death alone could have subdued so noble a spirit.
+ Thus the patriot soldier, who had served with reputation through the war, had periled his life again and agoin for Wyoming, in one short month from his arrival at his home, was seized, and without law cast into prison as a felon! Indignation must have been lost in
On the 1st of October, Capt. Franklin was arrested on a charge of trespass, for proceeding to farm his land, and brought before Justice Patterson. Mr. F. plead title, and desired that a fair trial by court and jury might decide the matter. Such course not according with his policy, he was dismissed by the justice.
Capt. Christie arrived with his company on the 29th of October, and forthwith the two companies of soldiers were quartered upon the inhabitants, in some instances where special oppression was meditated, eight and ten were placed with one family. Col. Butler was particularly distinguished by having twenty billeted upon him, the more distressingly unwelcome, as Mrs. Butler was then recently confined. We cannot refrain from adding that the daughter then born, has been for thirty years, and is now moving in the first circles of New York, respected and beloved, the lady of one of the most eminent legal gentlemen of that city, (1845.) The house being small, hastily erected after the conflagration of the Savages, the people poor, and the soldiers insolent, their sufferings were exceedingly severe, too great for human nature patiently to endure. But seeing it was the purpose to drive them to some act of desperation, the injury and insults were borne with forbearance and fortitude.
His strength being now equal to any probable emergency, Justice Patterson proceeded to adopt measures of greater energy. October 31, the settlement of Shawney was invaded by the military, headed by the Justice in person, and eleven respectable citizens arrested, and sent under guard to the fort. Among the prisoners was Major Prince Alden, sixty-five years old, feeble from age, and suffering from disease. Compassion yielded nothing to alleviate his sufferings. Capt. James Bidlack was also arrested. He was between sixty and seventy. His son of the same name had fallen, as previously recorded, at the head of his company in the Indian battle; another son, Benjamin, had served in the army through the revolutionary war. Mr. B. himself had been taken by the Savages, and suffered a tedious captivity in Canada. All this availed him nothing. Benjamin Harvey, who had been a prisoner to the Indians was also arrested. Samuel Ransom, son of Capt. Ransom, who fell in the massacre, was most rudely treated on being taken. “Ah ha!” cried Patterson, “ you are the jocky we wanted ; away with him to the guard-house, with old Harvey, another damned rascal." Eleven in all were
amazement at the audacious deed. Added to the iniquity of the illegal arrest, was an attempt, amply proved, to compel Harding, a witness, to give a false deposition against Col. Butler.
taken, and driven to the fort, where they were confined in a room with a mud floor, wet and comfortless, with no food and little fire, which, as they were sitting round, Capt. Christie came in, ordered them to lie down on the ground, and bade the guard to blow out the brains of any one who should attempt to rise. Even the staff of the aged Mr. Alden was taken from him. On demanding what was their offence, and if it was intended to starve them, Patterson tauntingly replied: "Perhaps in two or three months we shall be at leisure, and you may be set at liberty.” At the intercession of D. Meade, Esq., three of the elder prisoners the next day were liberated, the remaining eight being kept in their loathsome prison, some a week, others ten days, and then dismissed without arraignment or trial. But the object had been accomplished ; their several families had been turned out of their houses, and creatures of Patterson put in possession. Oppression will drive a wise man mad; but the people still endured their sufferings, being alleviated by the charity of those who had been less unfortunate.
It is scarcely possible to conceive the insolence of manner assumed by Justice Patterson. Meeting by accident with Capt. Caleb Bates, and learning his name, “Why have you not been to see me, sir ?" Capt. Bates answered, he did not know him. “I will recommend myself to you, sir-I am Esquire Patterson of Pennsylvania,” and almost instantly ordered a serjeant to take him to the guard-house.
The following documents scem necessary to a more perfect understanding of the situation of the people, subsequent to the transfer of jurisdiction by the decree of Trenton ; and after the recommendation of the Assembly to the landholders and settlers, to make "reasonable compromises" under the prefecture of Alexender Patterson.
RESOLUTION passed 220 September 1783. " Resolved, That the Supreme Executive Council, are hereby empowered and required to take into the service of this State, one major, two captains, four subalterns of the ufficers of the Pennsylvania line, who are forthwith to be instructed to enlist two full companies of the soldiers who have served in the Pennsylvania line, to serve such time as the Supreme Executive Council, or the succeeding Assembly shall seem meet; and that one month's pay shall be advanced to the said officers and soldiers, who shall be armed and accoutred at the expense of the State, the money for which purpose, shall be drawn by order of the Supreme Executive Council, out of the money collected by virtue of the impost law of this State, and now in the hands of the Naval Officer, or which may hereafter come into his hands by virtue of the aforesaid law.”'
ADDRESS. The Honorable the Representatives of the Commonwealth of the State of Pennsylvania, in General Assembly met:
The petition, address and remonstrance, of us the subscribers, in behalf of the rest of the inhabitants of Wyoming, humbly sheweth: That after the judgment at Trenton, changing the jurisdiction from that of Connecticut to that of Pennsylvania, since which we have considered ourselves as citizens of Pennsylvania, and have at all times by our peaceable demeanor, and ready submission to government, duly submitted ourselves to the laws of the State of Pennsylvania, and not only so, but as we were not made duly acquainted with the laws of the State, bave tamely submitted to every requisition of the executive and military authority, although the same appeared in many instances to us to be unconstitutional and unlawful. We beg leave to observe, that nothing special happened until the resolve of the Assembly, appointing commissioners, in which we observed that after the report of those commissioners so appointed, we were to have a time and place appointed for choosing of authority, holding elections, etc. But to our great surprise and grief, it seems that there was a choice made, as we understand, by those that called themselves landholders, some from one part of the State, and some from other parts. Some from New Jersey and elsewhere, and principally not inhabitants of this county, of a number of persons to be commissioned in authority, all without our knowledge, and before the report of the commissioners or the appointment of a time or place for that purpose, and a return of those persons was, by some way or means to us unknown, made to the Honorable the General Assembly of the State, and have since been commissioned, which has produced the following facts, viz: Some time in September 1783, Col. Zebulon Butler was met at the ferry boat, by a man that is called a constable ; but how he came by his authority, we know not; however this man, Brink by name, seized his horse by the bridle, told him he was his prisoner, took him into the fort, delivered him up to the martial department. He, the said Butler, was kept there twenty-four hours under guard, then sent off under a strong guard of soldiers to Northumberland, with out either civil officer or writ, and was not made acquainted with any crime for which he was taken, he has been taken three times since by different officers under pretences of the same crime, and yet knows not what it is, although he got bail for his appearance at court. Since this the property of sundry persons has been taken by force under a pretence, and the persons that take it, say by the advice of the authority, and upon application to the authority, no redress can be had. That persons taken for pretended crimes have been told by the Justices that if they would take a lease, they should be set at liberty, and have in fact been obliged to comply, or suffer in prison in a guard house. Widows and fatherless children, in a sickly condition, turned out of their houses and sick beds, and drove ofi in a tedious storm, and said to be done by advice of the authority, and no redress could be obtained from the authority, though application was made. Some taken under pretence of some crime, and when confined, their wives were told if they would submit to their carnal desires, their husbands should be set at liberty. Some taken by a guard of armed soldiers in presence of the Justices, and their wives and families turned out of doors. The possession of a grist mill taken away by force, and given to another man, and although frequent application has been made to the Justices for redress, none can be had. That eleven persons were taken at Shawney by a guard of twenty-five armed men, in company with Esquire Patterson and Seely, under pretence of some crime, although not any was alleged, neither any writ ever produced, nor yet sheriff or constable, and were drove at the point of the bayonet for six miles in a tedious storm to the fort. Confined in an open guard-house without any floor, and the mud shoe deep, ordered to lie down in the mud, and the sentinel ordered, that if one raised his head from the ground to shoot him through. A staff taken from an old gentleman and ordered to be burnt. This old gentleman and sundry others, were at the same time sick with a fever, yet closely confined for six days in that situation, and then disinissed without ceremony. That persons when taken and brought before the Justices, not suffered to speak a word in their own defence, or to hear a witness, although requested, and judgment given without ever being made acquainted with the cause. That writs are given out for sixpence against children fifteen years of age, and that said to he lawful, although it was for one gill of whiskey, and parents, guardians, nor masters, never notified. Locks and doors broke, when the families were from home, under pretence of quartering soldiers in the bouse, and public buildings at the same time that might have received them. That one of the inhabitants having business