Tag Archives: Indian

The Jacob Seybert family, Part 2: Fort Seybert

[Continued from The Jacob Seybert family: Coming to America]

Part 2: From the events at Fort Seybert to the defeat of the NW Indian Confederation.

 Wednesday, 28 April 1758:  On this fateful morning, a fog lay upon the land shrouding South Fork Valley.  The immediate presence of the approaching Shawnee war party was unsuspected.
Eastward from the stockade, the ground fell rapidly to the level of the river bottom.  At the foot of the slope was a damp swale through which flowed a stream that was crossed by a log bridge.  A few yards beyond this was a spring which supplied water for the fort[1]. In the early morning hours a woman walked there for water and was unaware that an Indian, supposedly Killbuck himself, was hiding under the log bridge.

About this time, Sarah Dyer-Hawes,  the wife of Peter Hawes (deceased), went out with a servant boy named Wallace to milk some cows.  While following a path which today leads toward the circa 1910 Post Office (south of the fort), they were surprised by two Indians and captured.  Mrs. Hawes was said to have had a pair of sheep shears in her hand and to have attempted to stab one of the Indians.

William Dyer[2] had gone out to hunt earlier that morning and was waylaid by the Indians near the fort.  He had time to fire his weapon, but his flintlock refused to prime.  As he drew back the hammer for a second trial he was pierced by several musket balls fired by the Indians. William fell dead and the cocked flintlock dropped from his grasp, where it lay on the forest floor until decay of the stock separated lock and barrel.  Mr. J. Clem Miller, (son of William C. Miller), has in his possession a rusty flintlock with its hammer cocked that was found west of the fort. He believes it may have been in the hands of William Dyer when he was killed.

The gunfire alerted the fog shrouded settlement.[3] With the presence of the enemy now known, Nicholas, the 15 year old son of Captain Jacob Seybert, took station in the upper floor of the blockhouse.  From his elevated position, he mortally wounded an Indian, who raised his head from behind the ledge of rocks under the brow of a hill, one hundred yards eastward, in the direction of the spring.[4]

At this time a horseman was riding toward the fort, but hearing the gunfire and knowing something was wrong, he spread the alarm among the more distant settlers.

Presently, Chief Killbuck, who was leading the war party, walked into a clearing by the fort and called for a truce.  He called on the defenders to surrender the fort, threatening no mercy if they did not, but good treatment if they did. Killbuck had good reason for using deceit in an attempt to take the fort.  It was not a great distance from Fort Seybert to the more heavily populated regions of the Shenandoah Valley.  White reinforcements would certainly be coming, so time was an important element.

Jacob listened to the deceitful parley.

Although there were about forty persons in the fort, there were very few men amongst them.  Most of the men from Dyer Settlement had gone across the Shenandoah Mountain on business a day or so before, among them Matthew Patton, Michael Mallow and Andrew Trumbo.  Also, several families had fled the valley in fear that very morning.
Regardless, it is doubtful that Fort Seybert ever had a strong garrison.  Whether the fewness of adult men or a shortage of supplies, especially ammunition, had anything to do with Jacob’s decision is not known, but Jacob yielded to the demands of the enemy, which also included turning over what money and other valuables the defenders had.[5]

Just before the gate was opened, Nicholas Seybert took aim at Killbuck and was squeezing the trigger when the gun muzzle was knocked downward; the ball only raised the dust at Killbuck’s feet.
(Accounts differ as to whether Jacob or another man, Robertson, deflected the gun.)  In finding that
surrender had been decided upon, Nicholas was so enraged he attempted to use violence on his father, Jacob.
The gate was opened, and the savages rushed in.
Killbuck dealt Jacob a blow in the mouth with the pipe side of his tomahawk, knocking out several of his teeth.  Instantly the whites realized the horror of their situation and saw the inevitable doom which awaited them.  In a false moment of security, they had trusted the promise of savages and now were about to pay for the folly with their lives.  Nicholas did not surrender, but was taken prisoner by being overpowered.
When the settlers were secured and led outside, the fort was burned.  A woman named, Hannah Hinkle, bedfast at the time, perished in the flames.
The man, Robertson, had hid himself and as soon as the Indians withdrew, he hurried to the river, followed a bluff to conceal his tracks and made his way over the Shenandoah Mountain.[6]

According to Keister family tradition: When the Indians poured into the fort and the settlers found they were to be massacred, they broke and ran.  During the confusion, Hannah Dyer Keister hid with two small children and one infant among large rocks about 200 yards from the fort and remained there during the slaughter.  The boulders being huge, could hide several people amongst them easily.  Today the place where she hid is called Galloping Run.

The war party took their prisoners up the slope toward South Fork Mountain, where they stopped on a hillside about a quarter mile to the west of the burning fort.  After some discussion, the Indians separated their captives into two groups and seated them in rows on two logs.  The row on one log was for captivity; the other was for slaughter.  Those to be killed were tied hand and foot.  On a signal, the doomed persons were tomahawked and scalped.  Their bleeding bodies left where they fell.  Sarah Dyer-Hawes fainted when she saw her father sink below the blow of his executioner.[7]

Tomahawks continued to fall killing the already wounded Jacob Seybert, age 41 years; his wife Mary Elizabeth Theiss, age 37 ; Jacob’s mother Johanna (about 65 years old); and others.[8]

Suddenly, James Dyer, a tall 14 year old boy, broke away and ran ahead of several pursuing warriors to a thicket on the river a half mile to the east.  He was recaptured.
Of the thirty settlers captured within the fort, only eleven were spared.

Among the remaining captives were the children of Jacob and Mary Seybert:  Nicholas, age 15 years; ancestor Margaret, age 12; Catherine, 10; Elizabeth, 9; Henry, 7; and  George, 5.
The other surviving captives included James Dyer, Mrs. Sarah Dyer Hawes, Mrs. Jacob Peterson, pregnant Mrs. Mallow, and Miss Henever.

The Indians’ reason to spare the captives was to adopt them and, thereby, strengthen the tribe.  They wanted young men who would make valiant warriors and strong young women who could help the squaws do work.  They did not want old people, weaklings or cowards.  They preferred brunettes to blondes because they  more closely resembled the Indian complexion.
The Wallace boy’s blonde scalp was later seen by Sarah Hawes at the Indian village.

By now, it was past noon.
The war party, with their eleven remaining captives and their wounded comrade on a improvised litter, began climbing South Fork Mountain.  (Their route can be followed on the Pendleton County Map.)  The settler’s surrendered valuables, which included a half bushel of silver and gold coins[9],  had been collected in an iron kettle that carried on a pole between two braves.  As the trudging up the east slope of the South Fork Mountain became more burdensome and fear of pursuit made faster travel more advisable, the two Indians fell behind the group and hid the valuables.  It is doubtful that they returned to claim the treasure, as this was their last known visit to the area.  One of the women, Mrs. Mallow, had a crying baby.  To quiet it, an Indian seized the child and stuck its neck into the forks of a dogwood sapling and let the tree fly back.  The baby died.
The war party followed a pathway, still known as Indian Trail, which crosses South Fork Mountain through Dean’s Gap and the Deer Run area.  By nightfall they had reached Greenawalt Gap, having come about nine miles north of the smoldering Fort Seybert.
It was here that the Indian, which Nicholas Seybert had shot in the head, died of his wound.  He was buried 500 feet up the steep mountain side in a cavern.  Until 1850 or so, portions of the skeleton were still to be seen in the cave.
The next morning the group continued past the site of the burned Fort Upper Tract and through Germany Valley.[10]  Their second night’s encampment was at the mouth of Seneca River.
The party traveled without pursuit or mishap.  After a journey of nine days the band of Shawnee and their captives reached the Indian villages near Chillicothe, Ohio.[11]

The next day after the massacre at Fort Seybert, a relief party led by Captain Brock, undoubtedly notified by Robertson, arrived at the smoldering ruins.  It was too late to do anything, except bury the slaughtered victims.[12]  Their ghastly corpses were interred in one common grave, undoubtedly, very near the spot where the tragedy occurred.  A stone wall was erected around the grave, where it stood for nearly a century.  The wall was removed by a Road Overseer, who was willing to overlook common decency and respect for the resting place of the dead, inorder to fill a mud hole.

Three weeks after the massacre, Daniel Smith was named administrator for the Jacob “Sivers” estate.  The estate was appraised on November 8th, 1758, recorded on November 15th and consisted of:
Horses – 4 mares, 3 colts, 2 yearlings
Cattle – 1 bull, 7 cows, 6 calves, 2 steers, and 6 young cattle
Parcel of old iron, parcel of copper
Colter and shears, Kettle and Basin
The estate, valued at 54 pounds, 4 shillings and 3 pence, was subsequently sold to pay for provisioning the militia.[13]  (See: Appraisal of the Seybert Estate, included in this document.)

George Washington estimated the total loss of life at Fort Upper Tract and Fort Seybert at sixty persons.  The burning of the forts and general havoc wrought in the foray delivered a severe blow to the infant settlements, but the land was not abandoned.

The captive pioneer children lived in a Shawnee Indian village near Chillicothe, Ohio.
“After a year or more with the Indians, Nicholas Seybert arranged for the escape of his brothers and sisters.  He had become a trustee with the Indians, and was allowed to carry on fur trading with the French.  One evening when a wagon load of furs was taken out of camp he put his brothers and sisters in the bottom of the wagon, piling furs on top of them.  As the wagon was driven away Nicholas
remained at camp, manifesting surprise when the Indians discovered their disappearance.  He pretended to be as disturbed as the Indians.  That same night he made his escape.”[14]

Several years after his return, Nicholas Seybert sold his father’s farm to John Blizzard and made a new home on Straight Creek.  Some of his descendants still live in that vicinity.
From 1768 to the early years of the Revolutionary War, he owned a Tavern or Inn at Fredericktown, Maryland.
Nicholas went into the Revolutionary War from Maryland and became a Lieutenant.  He later dropped out of the Maryland regiment to join a Virginian regiment. After the war, he spent the rest of his life on Straight Creek, in present day Highland County, Virginia, where he and his brothers owned land.[15]  (See: Pendleton County Map.)

James Dyer remained among the Indians for about two years, occasionally accompanying trading parties to Fort Pitt, now Pittsburgh, Ohio.  On his last trip, he was sent with an Indian to buy bread.  Eluding his companion, he entered a cabin and sought protection.  A French trader’s wife hid him behind a trunk and stacked furs over him.  In searching for James, the Indians came into the hut and removed a few furs, but stopped before he was discovered.

About a year and a half after making his escape, James accompanied his brother-in-law, Matthew Patton, to Fort Pitt to sell cattle.  A cattle dealer told them that a tribe near there had a red headed woman among them. Matthew arranged for a store dealer to have the woman come to the store.  The woman was his sister, Sarah Dyer Hawes.  She was  hidden behind and under the store’s counter and covered with hides.[16]

Sarah’s captivity made some changes in her appearance and manner, so that when she returned, her young daughter did not recognize her.  In time the child accepted her identity. Sarah’s husband, Henry, had died in 1755, before the massacre.  In 1764, a couple years after escaping from the Indians, she was remarried  to a Robert Davis.  Sarah died circa 1818, at about 80 years of age, leaving behind at least 25 grandchildren.

The pregnant Mrs. Mallow gave birth to a son, Henry, in captivity.  She eventually returned to her husband Michael, just before he was to be remarried.

As cruel and unmerciful as the Shawnee were in war, when a captive was saved and adopted into an Indian family the captive was treated the same as any other member of that family.  Every effort was made to make adopted whites content and create in them a willingness to stay.  Returned captives stated that they were treated with great hospitality and kindness, according to the Indian’s ideas of these virtues.  When the colonial militias and later the United States army forced the surrender of white captives, there was often great sorrow at the parting.  The Indians delivered their beloved captives with utmost reluctance, and shed torrents of tears over them.  As long as the army remained in camp, the Indian families would visit their adoptee daily, bringing them corn, skins, horses and other materials they had bestowed on them while in their families.[17]

This first stage of the Pioneer Period was brief. It marks little more than the gaining of a foothold on the new soil. It was the story of a weak settlement in the remote corner of a huge country.

With the collapse of French power in America in 1760, the Indian peril became less acute; however, the Indians carried on a war of their own account.

Meanwhile, a renewed wave of immigration swept into Highland County, into that part which became Pendleton County, West Virginia.  Land values rose, and highways were extended.  Church and school houses made their appearance.

In 1764 the Indians were forced to give up some thirty two men and fifty eight women and children as captives.[18]

During 1770, about 10 years after her escape from the Indians, 25 year old Margaret Seybert married 24 year old William Janes IV.[19]  William and Margaret developed a plantation on Straight Creek about 25 miles southwest of old Fort Seybert and the Dyer Settlement.  Their property was possibly either adjoining a part of or very near William’s parents’ plantation, which had been purchased in 1751.
The William Janes IV and Margaret Seybert plantation (ca 1770-1801) included properties located between 3 to 4 miles north of Monterey, on both the north side and within the forks of Straight Creek and West Straight Creek.  In this location the plantation was about 2.5 miles south of  the confluence of Straight Creek and the South Branch of the Potomac.  Nicholas Seybert and his brothers also bought property and lived in this area.

From 1764 to 1774 there was a period of relative peace on the “west” Virginia frontier.  During this time the Pendleton County Deed Book showed the conveyance of 200,000 acres of land to the “Whites” from the Shawnee, Delaware and Iroquois  Indians.  The payment was to be made in  blankets, shirts, stockings, ribbon, calico, serge[20], thread, gartering, strouds, and callimancoe; also in knives, needles, tobacco, tongs, brass kettles, powder, lead, gunflints, vermilion and ten dozen
jewsharps.[21]  The Indian Tribes were being pushed west and northwest by colonial expansion.

Meanwhile on Straight Creek, William and Margaret started a family with the births of son, Henry, born 1771 and daughter, Eleanor, born 1773.

1774 to 1779 was a time when great change swept through the American colonies:
1)  There was a successful revolution against England.
2) The French, who had been our enemies during the French and Indian War, were now celebrated allies in our fight for freedom.
3)  A fledgling, post Revolutionary War colonial government formed and signed the Constitution of the United States.

During 1774: Beyond the Shenandoah Mountains, a ten year period of peace with the Indians came to an end.  In a band stretching from the Indian Territories of Ohio into ‘west’ Virginia, there developed a long period of hostilities.  Beginning in 1774 and lasting twenty years, a renewed state of guerrilla warfare existed between the settlers and Indians.  During this long period there was always the chance that some war party might pass through the broadening zone of settlement and once more bring the tomahawk and torch to the realization of people who knew from experience what these things meant.

At their plantation on Straight Creek, a tributary of the South Branch of the Potomac, the William Janes IV and Margaret Seybert family continued to grow with the births of John, born in 1777, Samuel in 1779, my ancestor ♥ William V in 1780, Edward in 1783, Elizabeth in 1785, and Margaret in 1787.[22]

In 1789, George Washington, who in his younger years directed that Fort Upper Tract and other frontier forts be built on the western Virginia frontier during the French and Indian Wars, and who went on to command the Colonial Militia during the American Revolution, was overwhelmingly elected first President of the American Republic.

Records for 1793 show 47 years old William Janes was a company officer with the rank of Captain and commanded 67+ men in the First Battalion of the 46th Regiment.[23]  One can imagine the 48 year old Margaret Seybert backing her husband’s periodic duties as Captain of the local militia over the years.  Most of her life was spent in a tense and hostile relationship with the Savages.  About 35 years earlier the Indians killed her mother and father, grandmother, step-grandpa, and others she knew and loved and took her and her siblings into captivity. Then, for the last 19 years there existed a state of guerrilla warfare between the Indians and settlers.

1794: During the second term of his Presidency, George Washington appointed Revolutionary War hero, General Anthony Wayne, to command the U.S. Army against the Northwest Indian Confederation.

On 20 August 1794, General Wayne, with a force of one thousand seasoned soldiers, met and routed two thousand warriors who had gathered for the final confrontation near Fort Miami on the Maumee River in the Ohio Territory.  The decisive defeat of the Indians at The Battle of Fallen Timbers, lead to the Treaty of Greenville in 1795.  By terms of the treaty, the Indians were forced to cede to the United States most of Ohio and a large area which later became Indiana, Illinois and Michigan.

During September 1832, as per the treaty, the Shawnee were removed from Ohio and sent across the Mississippi River to Indian Territory on the Kansas River.

The next time our family line encountered the Shawnee was by Pulaski Easton: during the California Gold Rush of ’49 (see associated article). By this time, they were a peaceful, impoverished tribe, living on the Great Plains in ‘Indian Territory’, west of Independence, Missouri.[24]

As listed in Grave Register II, Pendleton County, West Virginia, Jacob Seybert and his wife, Mary Elizabeth Theiss Seybert, were killed in the massacre.  In 1936, the descendants of Roger Dyer had the grave site enclosed with a wall of native stone.  In 1986, Roger Dyer Family Association installed a bronze plate on the stone wall stating:

“Grave site of the 17 victims of the Fort Seybert Massacre, April 28, 1758.
Known names: Capt. Jacob Seybert and wife, Roger Dyer, Wallace boy,
William Dyer, Henry Haus, John Regger and wife.”[25]

The ground, on which Fort Seybert stood and upon which now stands a mortar and stone wall surrounding the grave of those slaughtered at Fort Seybert, belonged to Jacob Seybert.  In 1768, Nicholas Seybert, son of Jacob, sold the 210 acre tract to John Blizzard.  One of John Blizzard’s heirs sold the land to a minister named, Ferdinand Lair, in about 1800.[26]  Ferdinand Lair willed the land to his grandson, John Miller.  The land was willed down the Miller family to William C. Miller (alive in 1916)  and his sons, J. Clem Miller (alive in 1936) and Ed T. Miller.  In the late 1980s the property belonged to elderly Paul Conrad, a widower, who married a Miller daughter.

Footnotes below:
[1]  In later years, a willow cutting was planted near the spring which grew into a tree measuring four and a half feet in diameter.  It is thought that the tree subsequently dried up the spring.
[2] William was the eldest son of Roger Dyer. William had a wife and two sons.  His brother, James Dyer, and sister, Sarah Dyer-Hawes, survived the attack as captives.
[3] Talbot, The Dyer Settlement
[4] The ledge where the Indian was shot is, in the 20th Century, in front of the main entrance of the William C.  Miller house, at a distance of about 100 yards.
[5] Morton, A History of Pendleton County
[6] Talbot, The Dyer Settlement
[7] Morton, A History of Pendleton County
[8] Pendleton County Historical Grave Register, (Pendleton County: West Virginia, 1977), 52.
[9] Talbot, The Dyer Settlement
[10] “Origin of the Treasure Mountain Festival,” Treasure Mountain Festival Newspaper, 14-17 Sept 1989,    (Franklin:Pendleton County,West Virginia)
[11] Talbot, The Dyer Settlement
[12] From correspondance with my cousin, Doris Grubb, and husband, John Hughes, who visited the historic Fort Seybert site in December 1988 and spoke with Paul Conrad (related to the deceased Miller family by marriage.) John quoted Paul as saying of the massacre victims, “I always heard
they were killed up there on the hill where they’re buried.”
[13] Morton, History of Highland County, equivalent to $180.71 in 1910.
[14] Talbot, The Dyer Settlement
[15]  Correspondence with Doris Grubb Hughes. While looking for literature regarding Seybert descendants  at the Monterey, Virginia, public library, Doris and John Hughes were approached by the Head Librarian who while speaking with them claimed to be  a descendant of Nicholas Seybert. She said that Nicholas had owned 3000 acres in the vicinity of Monterey.
[16]  Talbot, The Dyer Settlement
[17]  Henry Howe, Historical Collections of Ohio, Vol. I and II, (Cincinnati: C.J. Krehbiel & Co. Publishers and Binders, 1904)
[18] It is estimated there were approximately 2,000 incidents of kidnapping of white settlers during the French and Indian War.
[19] Evelyn Halkyard Vohland, Betebenner – Horney and Allied Families,  (Shelton: Clipper Publishers, 1981)
[20] A twill weaved fabric made of silk or wool and often used for  military uniforms.
[21] Morton, A History of Pendleton County
[22] Bell, The Seiberts
[23] Morton, A History of Pendleton County
[24] Article, Pulaski Easton – California ’49er, mentions the Shawnee briefly, Line C: Midwestern Migration.
[25] “Marker Placed at Grave of 17 Victims of Fort Seybert Massacre”, The Pendleton Times newspaper
[27] October 1988, (Franklin: Pendleton County , West Virginia)
[26] Deed recorded in Pendleton County, West Virginia.


Filed under My family in history, __2. Settlers and Migrants

The Jacob Seybert family, Part 1: Coming to America

Part 1: From Germany  to the South Fork of the Potomac, late April 1758
Compiled by Mr Larry, 1988 – 1994

With the Peace of Westphalia in 1648, most of the hostilities in Europe’s Thirty Year War ceased.  The German emperor became a figurehead and the country collapsed into about three hundred regional entities, each with full sovereignty.
The territorial princes and rulers became free to build their own military powers and finances without interference from above or below, thereby consolidating the basis for their increased independence and for absolute government within their own territories.

In these times, during the year 1717, Jacob Seibert was born to the family of Christopher and Johanna Seibert in the small town of Sotern, Saarland, Germany. Jacob was the fourth and last child in the family which included two brothers, Adam and Wendel, and a sister, Catherine.[1]

On 28 July 1732, at fifty years of age, Christopher Seibert died in Sotern, thus disrupting the family’s well being at a time of deep rooted, national economic problems.

Saarland, like other parts of southern Germany, had suffered untold hardships during the Thirty Year War and during the 17th Century struggles for empire between France and Austria. German emigration rates were rising as a result of Europe’s unsettled political machinations and unfavorable economic conditions within Germany’s many principalities and ducal territories.

Among the economic problems were: 1) an oppressive and annoying compulsory service to the overlords, a remnant of medieval feudalism, 2) an increasing repeal of former grazing and wood gathering rights in ducal forests, and 3) mounting taxes which rested on the land owning classes alone. As a result, many sold their real-estate and emigrated.

A statesman of the period wrote: “These days the farmer is the most miserable of all creatures, he is being annoyed constantly with compulsory service, running errands, game beatings, work on fortifications and the like.  What is rescued from the wild game, a rough official may take to pay out standing taxes.  The barns are empty, the dwellings threaten collapse, the inhabitants appear miserable and ruined.”[2]

In addition to the enforced labor, there were gradually introduced grazing fees, hunting fees, watch fees, plowing fees, dyeing fees, food tax, tax on second hay crops, hand work rendered, money paid in lieu of labor with teams, the Prince’s personal tax, chimney tax, water tax, the so called “hearth tax”, etc.  There were also the percentage of one’s Shrovetide fowls and Martinmas geese.

For four years after the death of her husband, Johanna Seibert raised her children alone. In 1736 Johanna married Henry Lorentz, who brought a daughter to the family from a previous marriage.

Within two years of their marriage, the family decided to emigrate to America.

During the spring of 1738, several great-grandsons of Nickel Seibert, the miller, set out from Saarland for the Pennsylvania colony in North America.  Among those emigrating were: Johanna Seibert-Lorentz, her children Wendel, age 23; Jacob, age 21; Catherine; and husband Henry Lorentz, and his daughter. Several Seibert cousins, including two grown males and their sisters were also in the party of emigrants.

The travelers left Sotern and proceeded north then west through Germany and on to the port city of Rotterdam, Holland.  “The journey to Rotterdam was as a rule made by water. It must not, however, be imagined that one simply got aboard ship and went merrily down the valley.  There were several dozen toll – stations to be passed along the Rhine; everywhere there was a delay, many times
intentional, in order to force the people to stay overnight and shell out their money.”
The 280 mile trip down the Rhine River took four to six weeks! Occasionally, the already poor emigrants arrived in Rotterdam having spent what little money they had.

After making arrangements and waiting in Rotterdam for an undetermined time, the Seibert’s boarded the ship, Glasgow, and sailed for America, with a brief stop at Cowes, Isle of Wright, England.[3]  An example of the “Contract for Transport”, a common agreement between emigrants and the shipping firms of Rotterdam, is included immediately below.  The 1756 form seen below is probably  similar to the one agreed to by the Seibert group and their fellow passengers in the summer of 1738:


Agreement For Transport From Rotterdam To Philadelphia
Know All Men By These Presents, especially those whom it may concern,
that we, the undersigned passengers, have contracted with Messers Isaac &
Zacharias Hope, Merchants in Rotterdam, even as we here with contract for
ourselves and our families in the following manner:

The above mentioned Messers Issac & Zacharias Hope shall furnish us
a good, comfortable, and well-sailing ship, inorder with the same to have us
transported to Philadelphia.

And to that end there shall be made in the ship firm bunks for each
whole freight, six feet long and one and one- half feet wide.

The above mentioned Messers Issac & Zacharias Hope shall fit out the
said ship well with good and proper provisions, namely: good bread, meat,
bacon, flour, rice, barley, peas, syrup, butter, beer, good fresh water, and
what ever else is necessary; likewise the ship shall be twice daily cleaned
with vinegar and juniper berries to purify the air; and daily there shall be
given out to each whole freight the following:
Sunday – one pound of beef cooked with rice
Monday – barley with syrup
Tuesday – one pound of white wheat flour
Wednesday – one pound of bacon with peas
Thursday — one pound of beef cooked with rice
Friday – one pound of white wheat flour and one pound of butter
Saturday—one pound of bacon, one pound of cheese and six pounds of
bread   for the entire week.

Besides, everyday, one quart of beer (as long as it remains good) and
two quarts of water daily, to each whole freight.
If brandy is desired, it shall be given each morning to every person who
desires it. Lovers of tobacco, however, shall receive on enough to take along on
the journey.

We the undersigned passengers, want to have freedom (as God’s weather
permits) to cook a few victuals for ourselves and the little children, and to
make use of the fire from six o’clock in the morning til the same time in the
evening; also permission to be on deck; yet those who are sick are especially
to enjoy the right to help themselves to the fire and water as often as they
need it for their refreshment; likewise there shall be provided on the ship all
kinds of aromatics and also wine so that the sick can be better cared for.

In Return For Which
We the undersigned passengers promise to pay the above mentioned Messrs,
Isaac & Zacharias Hope in Rotterdam, or on their order, for transport of
our persons, baggage and household goods, from Rotterdam to Philadelphia

Seven And One Half Doubloons

for each whole freight, and goods that we have with us shall be
delivered on land there gratis, without our being forced to pay anything
therefore to the stevedores.

Now the freights shall be reconed in the following manners: children
under four years old are free; from four to fourteen years  they shall pay half freight; and fourteen
years and upwards, full freight…

In Witness where of we have validated this Contract with our personal  signature.

Done in Rotterdam, February 16, 1756

(signed)  Isaac & Zacharias Hope

[A list of prospective emigrants and their portions in the freight follow.]


It would be nice to think that our emigrant ancestors received the fair treatment promised in their contract, “But how often must have happened, that emigrants lost their entire baggage on the way, through treachery, theft or violence.  Contemporary reports are filled with hair raising accounts of this.
The crossing of the Atlantic – remember this was 1738 – took eight to twelve weeks.
There was much hardship, illness, death, hunger, storms, lack of water and crowded conditions…”

 Tuesday, 9 September 1738:  Four or five months after leaving Sotern, the Seibert-Lorentz group landed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and were authorized to enter the colony.[4]  Jacob, being under the age of consent was apparently not required to sign his name to the legal immigration document.  A copy of the ships passenger manifest, showing the names of Johan Jacob Seibert and Henry Lowrence, accompanies this document.[3]

The earliest record of the Seibert family in Germany dates to the baptismal record of Nickel Seibert of 26 October 1569.  It was about this time that surnames were widely adopted in Europe.  When the Seibert’s landed in America, a clerk unaccustomed to Germanic spelling convention, changed the two century old SEIBERT – to SEYBERT. Jacob continued to use the old spelling in his signature; however, be aware that the new Seybert spelling became a custom, as seen in the name, Fort ‘Seybert’.

When immigration procedures were finished, the Seybert-Lorentz extended family left Philadelphia and proceeded sixty to eighty miles northwest to the recently settled Tulpehocken region of Lancaster County (since changed to Berks County), Pennsylvania.  When the Seybert group reached their German
relatives and friends there was a happy reunion.[5]   The Tulpehocken region was a fertile valley settled in 1723 by a colony of Germans and which over the years continued to draw German immigrants.  In the next century the descendants of these families would move west with their gaily
painted covered wagons and be known as, ‘The Pennsylvania Dutch.’

26 February 1739 A half year after landing in America and at age 22 years, Jacob Seybert married Mary Elizabeth Theiss. The services were performed by J. Casper Stoever.

28 March 1739:  A month after their marriage, Jacob received a 209 acre tract of land in Bethel Township from the Penns.

1740 – 1747:    Jacob and Mary farmed their land and began a family with a son, Nicholas, born 1743; ♥ Margaret, born 1745; and Catherine, born 1747.[6] (See also the associated blog, William Janes IV and Margaret Seybert)

It was during this time that word came into the middle colonies, especially Pennsylvania that there
was a very beautiful and fertile country in the river valleys southward.  This area was composed of three rivers which flowed north to form the Potomac, each separated from the other by a mountain range.
A beautiful new valley was found on the South Fork of the Potomac, the most easterly of the three rivers.  Its valley was separated on the east from the populated Shenandoah Valley by the Shenandoah Mountain.  It was separated on the west from the South Branch Valley by the South Fork Mountain.  South Branch Valley was already familiar to pioneer settlers, being referred to as the “upper
tract” of Virginia.

Early 1748:  Family members attending the Trinity Reformed Church in the Tulpehocken region were: Jacob Seybert and his wife Mary Theiss; Mary’s sister and brother-in-law, Christian Lauer; Johanna and husband, Henry Lorentz.

Later 1748:  Jacob and his family, his mother and stepfather and other relations left their farms in  Tulpehocken region of Pennsylvania and traveled 180 miles southwest to the South Fork valley wilderness of Highland County,[7] Virginia.  In the mid 1700s, the area where they settled was on the leading edge of the Anglo-Saxon colonization of America.
Jacob’s brother, Wendel remained in Pennsylvania.

An 18th Century contemporary description of the “west” Virginia wilderness:
“We may picture to ourselves a primeval forest broken only by a few dozen clearings, nearly all of those lying on or near the larger water courses.  In these clearings were the small houses, usually of unhewn logs.  Around the houses were small, stump dotted fields of corn, grain and flax.  The pens for livestock were strongly built, so as to protect the animals from the bears, wolves and catamounts that were the cause of continual anxiety and occasional loss.  The ‘broads’ leading out from the settlement were simply bridle-paths, and commodities were carried on the backs of  animals.” (Photo taken along the South Branch of the Potomac)

 1749:  In South Fork Valley, where the Dyer Settlement formed two years earlier, the inhabitants wrote a petition to Augusta Court House (now Staunton, Virginia) asking that a road be opened through the wilderness:  “…Petition of inhabitants and subscribers of the South Fork of the South Branch of Pattomuck are very much discommoded for want of a road to market and to Court if occation but espetialy to market.  We have found a very good way for a road: Beginning at John Patton’s over the mountain to Cap. John Smith’s…” [8]

 1753:  Meanwhile, living in South Fork Valley, Jacob and Mary increased their number of children with the births of: Elizabeth born in 1749; Henry, born 1751; and George, born 1753.

Twenty seven tracts of land were surveyed on the wilderness plateau of South Fork Mountain, west of the Dyer settlement. Of the twenty one persons applying for land patents, sixteen were newcomers in Highland County, including Jacob Seybert.

Small Shawnee hunting parties often visited the homes of the settlers.  Through them and the traders, the Indians picked up serviceable knowledge of the white man’s tongue.  That their English vocabulary was well supplied with terms of abuse and profanity, is significant of the sort of language they were accustomed to hear.[9]

Meanwhile, the European settlers cut the trees and cleared the ground thus scaring away the game.  This in turn caused the Indians to give up land and fall back in pursuit of their food supply.  White and Indian relations were further strained by the fact that the European’s, except for the French, did not go to any pains to win or keep the good will of the “Red men”.

In the fall of 1753, the Shawnee of the South Fork of the Potomac were visited by neighboring Indians from across the Ohio River, who urged them to move out of their (West Virginia) country. Among those at the conference was Killbuck, chief of a small band of Shawnee, who lived and hunted the region where upon sat the cabins and farms of the Dyer Settlement.  Killbuck was known, even amongst the “Whites,” as an Indian of “much ability and strong mental powers.”  At the conclusion of the conference, the Shawnee accepted their red brothers’ offer to move west, and in the spring of 1754 they quietly and abruptly left.

Before the beginning of hostilities, Killbuck had lived among the settlers and was acquainted with many of them.  In particular, he held a grudge against Peter Casey. Casey had once employed Killbuck to bring back a runaway slave. When Killbuck delivered the slave, Casey refused to pay him the promised sum.  In an altercation that followed, Casey knocked Killbuck down with his cane, an indignity not to be borne by the lowest Indian, much less by a proud chief. Killbuck controlled his anger at the time, but when war broke out he relentlessly sought to kill Casey; however, he never found the opportunity.  Yet, according to the Indian custom, an injury or insult from one man might be avenged upon anyone of the community to which he belonged.

Prior to the year 1754, various small tribes or clans, belonging to the general Shawnee nation, roamed over the Valley of Virginia and the valleys and mountains of Pendleton County. Although they established settlements and formed villages, their dwelling was largely transitory.  They did not recognize individual or tribal ownership of the land.  The whole area was a great hunting ground into which they came, where they stayed, and from which they left of their own will.[10]   The mountain region was rich with wildlife including ground hog, opossum, raccoon, squirrel, rabbit, bear, wild turkey, deer and panthers. In the earliest days of settlement there had even been a few elk and buffalo.

21 May 1755:  Jacob Seybert purchased the 210 acre John Patterson Jr. farm and mill in the Dyer Settlement.[11]  (See: Pendleton County Map)  The same day, his step brother-in-law, Nicholas Haffner, bought an adjoining farm. Jacob’s brother-in-law, Matthais Theiss, also settled in the area, as did Jacob’s mother and step father, Johanna and Henry Lorentz.[12]

Between 1755 and 1759, the frontiers of Pennsylvania, Maryland, and “west” Virginia were exposed to increased attack as the French and Indian War flared anew. Boarder settlements were harassed by raiding parties of Indians, who at times acted alone; while at other times were accompanied by French soldiers. The resulting damage was great and was done by a comparatively small number of warriors.

Families of settlers located up and down the remote valleys were not entirely unprotected.  They “forted in” themselves, meaning their homes were built with facilities similar to a contemporary
military blockhouse.  The log house of the frontier was built considering a possible attack.  Commonly the structure was constructed near a spring.  The door could be strongly barred and the windows were too small for a man to crawl through.  There were loopholes in the walls through which the inmates could fire their guns.
And if possible, it was not too near a spot where the enemy could find cover.  A few of these old log houses still stand in this region of West Virginia and in some instances are still occupied; in the walls are “shooting-holes” which have since been covered by weather boarding.[13]

The Indians believed that by scalping their enemies they would be safe from harm from that enemy in the after life, since no one could enter the next world if disfigured in body or limb.  Wives were killed so they would not bear any more children to grow up and avenge their slain husband.  If a life was spared – as was often the case with the young – the captive was adopted. Otherwise, boys were killed because they would grow into warriors.  Girls were killed because they would become mothers of more warriors.  Finally, the house was burned in order to damage the enemy that much more.

 In 1755 the colonial governments decided to fight the Indians in the same way and began offering a bounty of 10  for the scalp of any hostile Indian over twelve years of age.

1755:  Seventy one civilian settlers were either killed or taken captive by the Indians, resulting in a stream of refugees pouring through the Blue Ridge for safety.

1756:  Virginia appropriated $33,000 to build 23 forts.  George Washington was sent into the frontier where he set up headquarters at Winchester, in northernVirginia.

4 January 1756George Washington’s letters give a vivid idea of the weak settlements of Highland County, “I have now ordered Captain Waggoner with sixty men to build and garrison two forts at places I have appointed high up the South Branch.”[14]

 February:  Jacob Peterson, living on North Mill Creek near Grant Line, lost six children to capture by the Indians – only one later escaped.

15 April:  Washington writes, “All my ideal hopes of raising a number of men to search the adjacent mountains have vanished to nothing.”

 A week later he writes, “I am too little acquainted with pathetic language to attempt a description of the people’s distresses.”

Two days later, “Not an hour, nay, scarcely a minute passes that does not produce fresh alarms and melancholy accounts.”  In another letter Washington writes, “…the deplorable situation of these people is no more to be described than is my anxiety and uneasiness for their relief.”  And again, describing the situation on the frontier, he writes, “Desolation and murder still increase.”

 16 May:  Michael Freeze and his wife, who lived in an area called Upper Tract, were killed.

By 16 August 1756: Washington writes, “…We have built some forts and altered others as far south on the Potomac as settlers have been molested; and there only remains one body of inhabitants at a place called Upper Tract who need guard. Thither I have ordered a party…”[15]

Fort Upper Tract, in South Branch Valley, was built a mile above Harman’s Landing and a mile south of the present Upper Tract village.  Built on a bluff, on the bank of the South Branch of the Potomac River, it was protected by a steep slope on one side, while being afforded some protection on two other sides by a ravine. The enclosed space was however very limited.  The structure’s foundation can still easily be traced on the ground.
The Dyer Settlement was located only nine miles southeast of Fort Upper Tract, just over South Fork Mountain.

1756:   A wooden palisade fort with a central blockhouse was constructed by the settlers at a strategic
location on Jacob’s centrally located farm. It was built on the west side of South Fork River, and situated on an elevation which sloped rapidly to a ravine on the north and descended abruptly over a ledge of rocks to the river bottom on the south-east.  Westwardly, a gradual incline sloped back to
the mountain.[16]

The fact that the previous owner, John Patterson Jr., had a mill at the river’s edge also influenced the choice of the site of Fort Seybert.  A road of some description was always built to a mill.  Consequently, the settlers could use the same road to get to the fort for safety.  There was also a bridle trail, or road of similar description, that began at the Patterson-Seybert property and went over the Shenandoah Mountain to Captain John Smith’s place and on to the county seat at Augusta, Virginia.  The fort was built about 100 yards from where the mill stood, and there was a good spring fifty to sixty yards from the fort.[17]

A description of Ft. Seybert: “There was a circular stockade with a two storied block house inside.  The diameter of the stockade was about 90 feet. (See the drawing at the top of this article).
 According to the practice of the day, the wall was composed of logs set in contact with one another and rising at least ten feet above the ground.  For going in and out there was a heavy gate constructed of puncheons (heavy framing timbers with a smooth face).  The blockhouse stood near the center of the circle and was apparently about 21 feet square. From the loopholes in the upper room, the open space around the stockade could be commanded by the garrison. There is no evidence of the fine spring then existing a two minute walk away.”[18]

FortSeybert stood in what became during the late 19th and early 20th Century the yard of the William C. Miller [alive in 1916] house. The Miller house is located about 0.5 miles north of the Fort Seybert Post Office, the Fort Seybert mail drop.) on the west side of County Road #3, also known as the Sweedlin Road, Fort Seybert, Pendleton County, West Virginia.
When constructing his home, Mr. Miller preserved in its original location a foundation cornerstone under his cellar window and another cornerstone on the surface of his lawn, 21 feet away.  Nor did he obliterate the circle arc that showed where the stockade wall use to rise. In a circa 1910 photograph of the Miller house and yard, the location of the former log wall can be seen as a slight depression in the ground.[19]

Winter 1756-57:  During the winter season the settlers were quite safe. The Indians were not inclined to maraud while food was scarce and the forest leaves fallen.

16 March 1757Possibly as a result of the tragedy at the Michael Freeze home ten months earlier, Jacob Seybert, age 40 years, was commissioned Captain of Militia.[20]

16 May 1757:  Jacob’s step father, Henry Lorentz, was killed by the Indians, who were making attacks
farther and farther down the South Fork and South Branch of the Potomac.

28 September:  George Washington writes, “The inhabitants of this valuable and very fertile valley are terrified beyond expression.”

10 November:  Determined to stay and fight the Indians if necessary, Jacob applied for a land patent for an additional 88 acres.

By the end of 1757, there were only about forty families, or about two hundred European – Americans left spread out in small settlements inPendletonCounty.

19 March 1758A destructive Indian raid occurred in the region of Fort Upper Tract. On this day three men were shot dead while working about their homesteads.  Two other men were wounded, and two persons were captured by the Indians.  Fort Upper Tract was located only nine miles northwest of Fort Seybert, just over SouthFork Mountain.

2 April:  Lieutenant Gist, was in charge of a company of Scouts, composed of six soldiers and 30 Indians under the employ of the colonists.  The lieutenant found a large Indian encampment about 15 miles “this side” (south) of Fort Duquesne[21] with tracks leading directly toward the Virginia
frontier.  Within days the scouts came upon the tracks of another large party pursuing the same course.[22]

24 & 27 April:  A band of French and Indians arrived in the valley near Fort Upper Tract and killed Captain James Dunlap and nine other persons. Captain Dunlap was an experienced soldier who had commanded a detachment in the Big Sandy Expedition.  Three days later, the Indians attacked Fort Upper Tract and killed an additional thirteen defenders before burning the fort.  It is thought that the massacre at Fort Upper Tract was complete since no stories have ever surfaced in local tradition.

After massacring the soldiers and settlers at Fort Upper Tract, the large Indian war party began its trek back to Indian country.
However, a group of forty or more Shawnee with perhaps one Frenchman, led by Chief Killbuck, took an independent course of action.  They proceeded southeast over South Fork Mountain  toward Fort Seybert.

Meanwhile, the residents of Dyer Settlement, having learned that an attack was imminent, sent an express rider to Fort Upper Tract for assistance, but the rider turned back upon seeing the tell tale column of smoke from the burning buildings.  Upon hearing of the nearby attack, several families from Dyer Settlement immediately left to cross the Shenandoah Mountains for safety.  Forty people were left to gather at Fort Seybert, of which very few were men.

Story continued in blog, The Jacob Seybert family: Fort Seybert

Footnotes follow:
[1]  Raymond Martin Bell, The Seiberts of Saarland,  Pennslyvania and West Virginia, (Washington, Pennsylvania, 1982)
[2]  Don Yoder, Pennsylvania German Immigrants 1709 – 1786, (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Company, 1936, reprinted 1980)
[3] Prof I. Daniel Rupp,  A Collection Of Thirty Thousand Names of German, Swiss, Dutch, French and Other Immigrants in Pennsylvania from 1727 to 1776, (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Company, reprinted 1965), p. 116-117.
[4] Rupp, A Collection
[5]  Bell, The Seiberts
[6]  Bell, The Seiberts
[7]  Through various land divisions, parts of Highland County became  Augusta County. In 1788, parts of Augusta, Rockingham and Hardy Counties were formed into Pendleton County, Virginia. In 1863    Pendleton County became part of the newly formed state ofWest Virginia.
[8]  Mary Lee Keister Talbot, The Dyer Settlement -The Fort Seybert Massacre-Fort Seybert, West Virginia, (The Roger Dyer Family Association, 1937) .
[9] Oren Frederic Morton, History of Highland County, Virginia, (Baltimore:Regional Publishing Company, reprinted 1969)
[10] Talbot, The Dyer Settlement
[11] Talbot, The Dyer Settlement
[12]  Bell, The  Seiberts
[13]  Morton, History of Highland County
[14]  W.C. Ford, George Washington Bicentennial Edition: Writings of Washington, Vol. I & II
[15]  Jared Sparks, Writings of Washington, [1834], Vol II, pages 179-198
[16] Talbot, The Dyer Settlement
[17] Talbot, The Dyer Settlement
[18]  Oren F. Morton, A History of Pendleton County, West Virginia, (Baltimore: Regional Publishing Company, 1916, reprinted 1980)
[19]  The house was still standing in 1988, but was uninhabited.  The two corner stones are still evident in the locations discussed.  The William C. Miller property is  [in 1988] owned by Paul Conrad, the husband of a Miller descendant, who lives  in the next house on this property (see footnote 34).
[20]  Talbot, The Dyer Settlement
[21] Fort Duquesne, French, built 1754, and taken by the British in 1758 then renamed Fort Pitt; now the site of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
[22] Ford, George Washington Bicentennial Edition


Filed under My family in history, __2. Settlers and Migrants

William Janes IV and Margaret Seybert

[Continued from The Jacob Seybert family: Fort Seybert]
Part 3: Margaret Seybert-Janes in the years after the massacre at Fort Seybert.
Recall that in April 1758, Margaret and several of her siblings were captured by a Shawnee war party and taken captive to Indian lands after the slaughter of her parents and other settlers at Fort Seybert, WV.

In the years following the ‘French and Indian Wars’ and her ordeal with the Shawnee, Margaret married William Janes IV. At the time, the British colonies in America were on track to become a national entity known as the United States…

William  JANES IV was born in 1746; died BEF 20 Oct 1801 in Pendleton, WV; buried in Pendleton,WV.

William JANES IV married Margaret SEYBERT in 1770. They had the following children: Henry JANES (b. 1771),Eleanor JANES (b. 1773), John JANES (b. 1777), Samuel JANES (b. 1779), ♥ William JANES V (b. 9 Apr 1780), Edward JANES (b. 1783), Elizabeth JANES (b. 1785), Margaret JANES (b. 1787).

1.  In 1751, while he was a child, William’s parents family settled on Straight Creek, near Monterey. Their plantation and the land mentioned in item #2  below, in William’s IV’s Will, might be or contain some of the same properties.{D1} A study of modern maps shows that William III and William IV probably lived within a maximum of 7 miles from one another along Straight Creek, between the present boarder of  WV and  Monterey, VA.
2.  William and Margaret developed a plantation on Straight Creek, about 25 miles southwest of old Fort Seybert and the Dyer Settlement. The location is probably just north of present day Monterey, VA.

Concerning locations, William’s Will states:
1) “75 acres on Straight Creek adjoining to Weeks land”,
2) “191 acres, lying in the forks of Straight Creek below the plantation where I now live”,
3) ” I bequeathe unto my wife Margaret her third part of the plantation whereon I now live”,
4) “a tract of land lying on Straight Creek, which formerly has and does now in part belong to the heirs of George Evick Sen.”{D1}

MILITARY: William was a Company officer, a Captain  of 67+ men in the First Battalion of the 46th Regiment in 1793. Colonel of the 1st Battalion, was Peter Hull; and Major, Henry Fleisher.{D2}

The Janes family were slave holders, as evidenced by William’s Will:

WILL: (Excerpt) “2nd. I give and bequethe unto my wife Margaret her third part of the plantation whereon I now live, during her life, also one negro woman named Luce. Also all my household furniture, three milk cows, and her choice of one breeding mare out of any that I may have at the time of my decease…4th. I give unto my son William and his heirs forever, the plantation whereupon I now reside containing  ___ acres, also two other small tracts of land adjoining to the plantation where I now live on the North and Northwest side containing ___ acres. I give unto my son William and his heirs forever one Negro boy named David…12th. I give unto my son William for his use and the use of my wife Margaret all my plows, harness and all my other farming utensils…” The WILL was signed
25 Apr 1801.{D1}

1. A copy of the Will exists inPendleton County Court,Pendleton County,West Virginia, pages 352-356. Also seen in Betebenner–Horney  and Allied Families, page 264.
2. A History of Pendleton County, West Virginia, by  Oren Morton, reprinted, copyright 1980,  publ by Genealogical Publishing co., Baltimore, MD, pg. 396.

Margaret SEYBERT was born in ABT 1745 in Tulpechocken region, Berks, PA; died AFT 1801.
BIRTH:  Margaret was born to Jacob Seybert and Elizabeth Theiss on the families 209 acre tract of land in Bethel Twp., Berks County (Tulpechocken region), PA, which was a settlers grant given to them by the colonial Pennsylvania government.

RELIGION: Her parent’s were members of Trinity Reformed Church in the Tulpechocken region.

TRAVEL: Circa 1748, when she was about 3 years old, her parents along with other members of their extended family, moved to the South Branch of the Potomac, now Pendleton County, WV.{Individual Source}

HOME: On 21 May 1755, her father Jacob, bought a 210 acre farm, his brother-in-law Nicholas Haffner bought an adjoining farm the same day.{D2} This property was in the Dyer Settlement and became the site of colonial Fort Seybert.

EVENT: The 1750s were the time of the French and Indian Wars. All up and down the frontier there were Indian raids, killings and kidnappings. On Wednesday, 28 April 1758, a war party of Shawnee attacked Fort Seybert at the Dyer Settlement.
Margaret Seybert was taken captive by the Indians, along with her brothers and sisters, after the massacre at Fort Seybert, which ended the lives of her parents, grandmother and many friends. The captured Seybert children were: Nicholas, age 15; ancestor, Margaret, 12; Catherine, 10; George, 8; Elizabeth, 2; Henry, 14. They were taken across the Ohio River to Indian lands in or near Chillicothe,
OH.{D1} {D2}

EVENT: “After a year or more with the Indians, Nicholas Seybert arranged for the escape of his brothers and sisters. He had become a trusty with the Indians, and was allowed to carry on fur trading with the French. One evening when a wagon load of furs was taken out of camp he put his brothers and sisters in the bottom of the wagon, piling furs on top of them. As the wagon was driven away he remained at camp, manifesting surprise when the Indians discovered they were gone. He pretended
to be as disturbed as the Indians. That night he made his escape.”{D3}

MARRIAGE: At about age 25 years, and 11 years after escaping from the Indians, Margaret married William Janes IV.

1. The story of the massacre of the Seybert family by the Indians is in A History of Pendleton County, West Virginia by  Oren Morton,  reprinted, copyright 1980, publ. by Genealogical Publishing co., Baltimore, MD. See pages 43-51.
2. History of Highland County, Virginia by Oren Frederic Morton, 1857-1926, reprinted 1969 by
Regional Publishing Co., Baltimore.
3. The Dyer Settlement: The Fort Seybert Massacre, Fort Seybert, West Virginia by Mary Talbot,
authorized by the Roger Dyer Family Assn.
4. Individual source: The Seiberts of Saarland, Pennsylvania and West Virginia by Raymond Martin
Bell, 1982 edition, Washington, PA, 46 pages.

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Filed under My family in history, __2. Settlers and Migrants

John Shafer and Lydia Dodge: early Michigan settlers

(Midwestern migration)

John Joseph Shafer: A Life story, 1819-1895

John Joseph SHAFER was born 22 April 1810 in New York at a location  believed to be near Albany.
John was first  married at about age 19 years, in New  York state, unfortunately the name of his wife has not been either located or preserved. This union produced two daughters: Hanna  Maria, born in 1829 in New York  and Harriet B., born before 1837.

It is believed  that John and his first wife separated in Pennsylvania before 1837.
Still in Pennsylvania, John married his second wife, our ancestor, Lydia A. Dodge. Lydia was born 2 May 1813, in New York  state. John and Lydia  remained together for the rest of their lives.

Little is known of John’s early years; children were born to him and his first wife in New York state; it is  said that he had worked on the Erie Canal,  which opened in 1825. Information gathered from the Lawrence Township, Van  Buren County, Michigan census of 1860 showed the family had moved to Carlisle  Township, Lorain, Ohio around 1836-37, where their eldest son, ♥ Martin Jackson was born 16 October 1837. Lorain is located twenty eight miles west of downtown Cleveland, Ohio, on the coast of Lake Erie.

Birth records show that the family moved to Ingham County, Michigan between March 1849 and February 1851 where the last of their children were born.

In 1855, the family moved to Lawrence Township in Van Buren County, Michigan. John Shafer was one of the first white men to settle in that area, which was west of a lake on the township line next to Hartford Township.  The lake was named, Shafer Lake after settler John Shafer. In the year 2011, the lake still bears the Shafer  family name.

John acquired a considerable tract of land in Lawrence and Hartford Townships. A piece of this land was donated for a school on Lawrence Township. The Shafer School, as it came to be called, was built on the property, located on the northeast corner of the crossroad that runs to the south of Shafer Lake.
The building was “The Shafer School, Hartford andLawrenceTownship’s Fractional District No. 7”.

[Howard Leroy Shafer wrote the following account in 1967]
“John Joseph Shafer the one this history is about, the writer well remembers the tellings of his first settling in Lawrence Township, Michigan.

How they cleared the forest land of Beech, Maple, Walnut, Cycamore Whitewood (better known as Yellow Poplar or Tulip trees) and many others, by cutting them down and piling in great heaps, all the logs with the brush, then set them on fire (logs like these would be a prize today), so they could till
the land between the stumps.”

“A section of very large Sycamore log which was hollow was used as a smoke house for meat. By standing it on end, cutting a door in the side to walk through–so they could hang up their meat to be smoked on metal hooks…a roof made of boards fastened lengthwise to the sloping cut of the top end of the log. They used Hickory wood for the smoke. After his death his youngest son, John W. Shafer used it for many years- later it was returned to the old home place, which is now owned by one of the descendants, Clayton F. Shafer (R.R. 2, Hartford, Michigan)”

“Crops raised were beans, corn, hops, oats and wheat. The last two were harvested with cradle scythe, tied with a few stalks of grain into bundles, which were stored in the barn to be threshed; this usually done in cold weather.
Beans were pulled by hand when ripe. All were thrashed out with a flail–a wooden instrument made of a long pole, about eight feet long and about one and a half inches in diameter and a two and a half long pole, fastened to the end of the other with rawhide. It could be swung into a circular motion and
let fall on the grain which would spread out in thin layers on the floor, thus knocking out the grain. On cold frosty days was the best for this, the items being threshed would seem to pop out of its hulls. The grain and beans then would be cleaned by running them through a fanning mill which was turned by hand, with a crank.”

“Hops, a vine that grew several feet long, was raised on poles into the ground. They would have cone shaped blooms which were picked at a certain time, these were steamed and dried in what was called a hop house. They were used in making yeast for bread, balance sold for use in malt for liquor and narcotics.”

“How they use to catch wild pigeon, now extinct, with large trap nets, set out in the fields where they came to feed.. Sometimes flocks were so large they would darken the ground as if a cloud were in the heavens. When these traps were sprung often they would catch them by the hundreds. They would take them in to town where they would sell them for as little as  fifty cents a dozen, to be sent to the larger towns of city. They often would roost at night in the woods nearby, and sometimes they would be so many on a single large limb it would break the limb off.”

In 1860 or shortly thereafter, John a Lydia’s youngest daughter, several  year old, Lodema, died of TB. It was thought at the time that the disease gained access to Lodema’s system after she had breathed hot steam (!) through he mouth and into her lungs from a boiling tea kettle when she was a small child.

“…some of the Pottawattamie Indians (the tribe use to live around Lake Michigan’s southern shores) use to come in summer months and put up their teepees along the roadside and then work for the farmers. As late as 1906 the writer remembers them along the road about a mile and a half south of the old Shafer homestead, and not far from where the writer lived they picked huckleberries in the swamps for the owners.

When not working for others they would make baskets from Black Ash logs, which they usually stole from nearby woods. They made cloths baskets, hampers with covers, market baskets and many others in many sizes. They would beat the log with a maul to remove the bark and a hard layer of wood, while the log was still full of sap. This allowed the soft layers to be mashed so they could
remove each layer at a time, in long strips as long as the log. They would cut this into desired widths they wanted for the many styles of baskets. They stained some for decoration with natural stains they would gather–blue, green, red and yellow most common used.”

“The writer has attended Indian picnics and dances given by them to raise money to keep up the
church and burial ground they used,. Located in a thicket on the south bank of Rush Lake, north west of Hartford, Michigan about four miles.

They put on a War Dance, used bow and arrow, and boomerang. Also dance for all who wished to. The church has long been gone; few markers were used for the dead and remain.”
End of Howard Leroy Shafer’s account.

In the  years  after 1860, the Shafer family cabin burned down. John Sr. and his youngest son John Wyman Shafer Jr., who’d became a carpenter, built a new house just north of the  Shafer School.

Some  of John Joseph’s children and many of his descendants, including Howard Leroy  Shafer, attended the Shafer School.
The school house burned down twice and thereafter was not rebuilt. The old home place and school ground was in 1967, still owned by a Shafer descendant.

John’s wife, Lydia, died 26 April 1882 in Lawrence Township at age 68 years 11 months and was buried in the New Lawrence Hill Cemetery.

John was a prosperous farmer who loved nice horses. One day he hitched a colt to a sulky in order to break him in for driving. They headed east on the road to Shafer’s Lake where the colt ran away with
him-going off the road and throwing him against a tree. The injury received by 84 year old John J. Shafer caused his death shortly thereafter on 5 February 1895. John was buried alongside his wife in the New Lawrence Hill Cemetery.

A large monument has been set at their grave site with their names and a verse inscribed:

“No pompus marble to
their name we raise this stone
Bespeak their praise
Potential fondness
did their life attend,
A tender mother and a
faithful friend.”

Some time before his death, John deeded parcels of about 28 acres to each of his heirs. On 20 February 1895, John W. Shafer Jr. petitioned for an administrator to divide his father’s  personal property which had an estimated value of about $900. Elijah M. Shafer, another of John‘s sons became administrator and listed the heirs to receive  their share. The Will was not probated.

The Shafer family descended through Martin Jackson Shafer, to his son Charles Elmer  Shafer, to his son Pearl Elmer Shafer, to daughter Hazel May (Shafer) to myself, Larry and daughter Jane Elizabeth.

John  Joseph Shafer: A Life story has been, taken  from the 93 page family genealogy book, Descendants of John Shafer 1810-1967 by Howard Leroy Shafer, who was born in 1898.

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Filed under My family in history, __4. Midwestern migration

Pulaski Easton: A California 49’er

(Midwestern migration/Easton branch)

Pulaski EASTON was born to the family of Daniel Easton and L. Vanway on 12 May 1826 in Oswego, Oswego, NY; died on 22 Apr 1901 in Hartford, Van Buren, MI; buried in the “old cemetery”, Hartford, Van Buren,MI.

Pulaski EASTON married Sarah CARLETON on 25 Apr 1857.
They had the following children: Frank C. Easton (b. 6 Jul 1858), Luther C. Easton
(b. 15 Dec 1860), ♥ Elsie Easton (b. 30 Jul 1869), Arthur Easton (b. 1 Mar).

“This soldier has Blue eyes, Light hair, Light complexion, Five feet Eleven inches high.” {D2} Also, “Hazel eyes.”

1845 At age 19 years, Pulaski moved from Oswego, New York to Van Buren County, Michigan.
1848 Age 22 years, he traveled to California in search of gold. (See Historical Note)
1851 Age 25 years, left California and returned to Oswego, New York.
1853 Age 27 years, he left New York and returned to Van Buren Co., Michigan.
1857 Age 31 years, Pulaski married Sarah Carleton in Michigan.
1864 Age 38 years 3 months, he enlisted in the Union Army and was engaged in the Civil War.
1866 At age 40 years, he was Honorably Discharged from the Union Army at Detroit, Michigan.

The greatest gold rush in the history of the United States began with the discovery of gold at Sutter’s Mill on the American River in northern California on 24 January 1848. The great rush was fully underway in 1849. The first mining region was in the mother-lode region of the Sierra Nevada from Sutter’s Mill south to Mariposa. The earliest placer miners sought the eroded gold in the form of dust, flakes, and nuggets. Found in stream beds and in gravel’s laid down by ancient rivers, this supply of gold was exhausted quickly by more than 150,000 gold seekers that came in 1849 and 1850. Having arrived in California by a long arduous journey up the Oregon Trail, through the Rocky and Sierra   Nevada Mountains, the only acceptable route home was by water. Many tens of thousands of lucky and unlucky gold seekers returned home by ship via the Isthmus  of Panama during 1851 and 1852.{D6} See also, the following article, Pulaski Easton – Gold Seeker, 49er.

Pulaski Easton and Sarah Carleton was married Apr 25th 1857“{D1}

“In 1845 he came to this township, bought a piece of land then in a dense wilderness, built a log house, cleared a small piece of land and worked in the vicinity for three years, then he took a trip to California, where he spent three years more in search of gold. He then returned to his old home in New York, where he remained a few years, when he returned to Michigan. In 1857 he was married to Miss Sarah Carleton of Three Rivers. They moved into the house he had built 12 years before, where they commenced their battle with the forest. They patiently endured the privations, trials and hardships incident to pioneer life…until the dense and gloomy forest was removed and in its place can be now seen broad fields, thrifty orchards and fine buildings, the marks of this industry…” {D4}

Pulaski was a farmer.{D2}

1.  On 12 Sep 1864, Pulaski volunteered for a 3 year enlistment in the Army, at Decatur,MI.
2.  He Mustered In on 30 Sep 1864at Kalamazoo, MI, where upon he was assigned as a Private to Capt. Eri Beebe’s G Company, 28th Regiment, Michigan Infantry Volunteers. The Regiment was completed with an enrollment of 886 officers and men, Colonel William W. Wheeler commanding.{D2}
3. The 28th Reg’t. left Kalamazoo Oct 26th for Louisville, KY, and upon arrival was sent to Camp
Nelson, TN, where it took charge of a wagon train enroute for Nashville,  TN…The regiment took  a gallant part in the battle of Nashville, Dec 12 to the 16th, in repelling the Confederates under Gen. Hood, who was defeated with great loss, and driven in confusion out of the state. {D5}
4. The 28th Reg’t. was assigned to the XXIII Corps and sent to Louisville,  KY where on Jan 1865 they were ordered to Alexandria, VA where they embarked on transports to Morehead City, NC. They then cooperated with Gen. Sherman’s army marching through the Carolinas.{D5}
5.  At Wise Forks the 28th Reg’t. was engaged for 3 days, the enemy making determined assaults on Union lines, but were repulsed in every instance. The 28th was in the thickest of the fighting…On the 21st January the 28th Reg’t. was assigned duty guarding the Atlanta and North Carolina railroad.{D5}
6.  2 Apr 1866, Pulaski requested 30 days furlough, “to attend to his private business  in Michigan.” {D2}
7.  3 May 1866, Pulaski reports to Head Quarters Dept. of the Ohio for transportation back to MI, He is instructed to report to the Chief Mustering Officer of his state for discharge.{D2}

Pulaski Easton died in Van Buren Co., MI at about 74 yr. 11 mo. 9 days of age, on 22 Apr 1901 from “Organic Heart Disease”{D3} also “dropsy”{D4}

Pulaski’s obituary reported that he was to be buried in the “old cemetery”, Hartford, Van Buren Co., MI

1. From handwritten notes made in the Pulaski Easton family Bible, 1856 edition. The Family Records appear to have been written primarily by Pulaski Easton with several later additions by another person.
2.  Military Service Branch, National Archives and Records Service, 8th & Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington, DC. Provided several various military service records of this individual.
3. Van Buren County Clerk, Paw Paw, MI; Certified Copy of Record of Death Record No. 4646.
4. Obituary of Pulaski Easton probably from the Hartford newspaper, Van Buren Co., MI, shortly after his death.
5. Book Record of Service of Michigan Volunteers in the Civil War 1861-1865, by the Michigan Adjutant
General’s Office; Pulaski Easton’s service is listed on page 23.
6. The World Rushed In: The California Gold Rush Experience, copr 1981 by J.S. Holiday, published by
Simon and Schuster, NY.

Sarah CARLETON was born on 30  Aug 1837 in Three Rivers(?), MI.

Pulaski Easton – Gold Seeker , ’49er
Compiled by Mr Larry
From the Obituary of Pulaski Easton (in bold italics):

“In 1845, at 19 years of age, Pulaski Easton removed from his home in Oswego, Oswego County, New York to Hartford Township, Van Buren County, Michigan. Here he bought a piece of land, then in a dense wilderness,  built a log house, cleared a small piece of land and worked in the vicinity for three years.”

Meanwhile, across the continent in distant California: The greatest gold rush in the history of the United States began with the discovery of gold in the millrace at Sutter’s Mill on the American River
in northern California on Jan.  24, 1848. Once the movement began it spread rapidly.
On March 7, some six weeks after the discovery, Sutter reported that his entire staff, laborers and overseers alike, had joined the rush to the foothills, and left me only the sick and lame behind.”

By April, a delegation was sent from the village  of San Francisco to visit the spot and learn what all the talk of a gold find was about. By May 8th, San Francisco’s townspeople were rushing pell mell to the diggings.
On May 20th people began arriving from Pueblo de San Jose.
By July, the scene at Sutter’s Fort was one of frightful confusion. “Men on horseback and afoot were milling around outside the walls, while loaded wagons were moving in and out the gates, some bringing goods from the Sacramento River landing, others taking them to the different mining regions. The open spaces within the enclosure were piled with heaps of merchandise being offered for sale, and the noise made by the crowd of buyers was such that one would have thought himself either in a Turkish bazaar or in one of the most frequented market places in Europe.”
On August 8th a St. Louis, Missouri, newspaper printed part of an article brought overland from San
Francisco, where it had appeared in the April 1 issue of the California Star. The news told of gold collected at random and without any trouble on the American River.” Other major newspapers
printed similarly colorful letters and reports from “the gold regions.” City folk and farmers who were discouraged by their prospects, those who were restless and others who were weary of marriage or fearful of growing debts found these first reports enough to send them off with expectations of quick fortune.

“In 1848, at age 22 years, Pulaski Easton left his cabin and small farm in Van Buren County, Michigan and traveled to California in search of gold.“

After December 5th and through the winter and spring of 1849, there appeared in literally every newspaper in the country continuing reports of the ever increasing emigration to California.
Week by week the news gathered force, men and their families agreed that if they could get to California success would be assured. The frugality of generations gave way to a contagion of optimism and ambition, responsible family men found their jobs and prospects unrewarding when set against all that California could provide.

Perhaps 25,000 left by sea that winter, bound for Panama and the hazardous journey across the isthmus or for the equally dangerous voyage around Cape Horn. For those who lived inland and had farming as a background, a voyage around South America or a tromp across the Isthmus of Panama seemed fearful, the overland trails on the other hand seemed practical, even familiar.
The well known history of travel from the Missouri frontier to Santa Fe and to Oregon increased their confidence. During the winter and early spring of 1849 tens of thousands of men throughout the
United States prepared for the overland trek that would begin with the first good weather in April or May. To raise money to join an overland company or purchase a wagon team and other fixings, gold seekers mortgaged or sold homes and farms, took out life savings, or borrowed from friends and father-in-law.
In cities and country villages they organized joint stock companies, each member paying an equal amount to provide funds for the company’s purchase of wagons, teams and provisions. Local newspapers often printed each company’s membership lists. Some company’s issued uniforms, elected officers with military titles and drilled their members.  On March 27, 1849 a newspaper in Ann Arbor, Michigan, estimated that $30,000. had been taken out of Wastenaw County alone, with each man spending an average of $400. to pay for his outfit and transportation to the frontier.

Pulaski Easton lived in Van Buren County, a mere 110 miles west of Ann Arbor.”

Those living in the central and upper Midwest packed their gear in their wagons and rolled down the nearest road, headed for the Missouri river towns of Independence and St. Joseph, Missouri.
At least 30,000 men, with possibly 1,000 women, traveled to the Missouri frontier, while other thousands went by other routes during the summer of 1849. Never before had this country, or any other, experienced such an exodus of civilians, all heavily armed, mostly young men on the road for the first time, many organized into formal companies, others alone or with a few friends from their
neighborhood. Impatient, curious, somewhat fearful of the uncertainties and dangers ahead they were not unlike a great volunteer army traveling from all parts of the nation to mobilize on the frontier.

In the spring of ’49, travelers just west of Independence, Missouri could see for miles across the ocean like swells of prairie. The trail ahead was marked to the horizon by an undulating line of white topped wagons and to the rear back to Independence.
No dust obscured the astonishing scene. At night the glow of campfires nearby and far off to the west gave everyone a sense of security.

About 40 miles west of the frontier the old Oregon Trail turned northwest. Entering “Indian Territory”
the gold seekers first encountered the now peaceful and poor Shawnee.

[Note: Recall from the biographical summaries of Jacob Seybert and his daughter, Margaret Seybert – Janes, that in 1758 a Shawnee war party slaughtered its captives, including the Seybert family adults, at Ft. Seybert, Pendleton County, West Virginia  and had taken all the Seybert children captive, back to Chillicothe in Indian Territory, across the Ohio River, in “the Ohio”.
After the defeat of the Northwest Indian Confederation by the US Army in 1794, the Shawnee were pushed out of “west” Virginia and Ohio. Then, with the Treaty of Greenville in 1795, the northwestern Indian nations ceded to the United States much of what became Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Michigan.]

The emigrants next passed through the fierce Pawnee Indian lands, again without problem. The Pawnee had been weakened by frequent attacks by their old enemies the Sioux and in the summer of 1849 they suffered 1,200 deaths from cholera, brought by the first much smaller wave of gold seekers in 1848. Having so long anticipated the danger of Indians and consequently equipped themselves as if an army, most gold seekers experienced the ironic disappointment of not seeing any “wild” Indians.

Life on the overland trail was an astonishment, because of its contrasts with their more orderly home routines; there was guard duty in wind and rain at night; food cooked by careless, impatient, grumbling men; the crude, loud campfire talk of men without women and a sense of freedom afforded by the traveling life. There was little charity along the wilderness trail.

The wagons continued northwesterly up the Little Blue River in Nebraska to Ft Kearney. Between the first week of May and mid June 1849, officers at Ft. Kearney counted 5516 covered wagons pass which included some 29,000 people.

Although they moved about 20 miles each day, they could not escape the sight and sound of hundreds of other emigrants. In the mornings as they crawled from their damp blankets, they could hear and see on all sides the great crowd of city folks and farmers. Nearby they heard the friendly banter of campmates, farther away the angry yells of strangers in argument, the impatient cry of the cook for
more firewood, the stamping and pushing sounds of mules and oxen corralled within the ring of company wagons, the bark of a dog chasing a horseman in pursuit of a vagrant team. While the mornings duties were performed one could hear in the distance the punctuated sound of the rifle fire of hunters target practicing in anticipation of seeing a herd of buffalo along the day’s route. After dark, their songs and fiddle playing aroused thoughts of wives and sweethearts.

The Oregon Trail continued along the Platte River in present day Wyoming and through 100 miles of rugged Black Hills country. Most companies had lightened their wagon loads at Fort Laramie, Wyoming, but the process continued as the country became rougher and harder on teams and wagons. The trail side became littered with all manner of gear, personal items and food, to say nothing of the corpses of dead draft animals and broken wagons. At South Pass, in the Rocky Mountains, the gold seekers crossed the Continental Divide. For the next 400 miles there were several trails and cutoff’s which all led westward across north-south rivers and smaller mountain ranges. The emigrates spread out amongst the various trails thus putting less pressure on forage, fuel and wildlife.

After traveling on routes that passed either to the north or south of the Great Salt Lake, the California trails descended some 300 miles along the Humboldt River through an arid, hostile wasteland from the northeast corner of present day Nevada to the Reno area. Most company’s moved along this leg of the trip during part of July or August. The nearly three weeks spent moving down the arid Humboldt
Valley intensified all the worst of the trek west. The emigrants wearily walked day after day under
scorching sun; breathing and tasting dung pulverized and mixed with dust; there was an increasing disgust with meals that looked and tasted shriveled and dry; and the incessant complaining and cursing of messmates, the squealing and groaning of the oxen; the monotony of sandy plains rising onto sage covered hills that blended into naked mountains; the dreariness of it all… Edible provisions no longer littered the trail side as they had in the high plains. So much had to be thrown away as they traversed the Black Hills, that food supplies were now fearfully short. More and more, backpackers were seen trudging along some distance from the dust stirred up by the passing teams and wagons.

In the evenings the gold seekers visited each other’s camps because they felt reassured when they could compare disappointments and problems and talk over the latest rumor about the trail up ahead or reports of Indian attacks. Camp visiting also allowed for trading to obtain what the cook did not have. By September the sounds of music were not common as the heat had either ruined the instruments or voices were too sorrowful to sing.

During September and October the wagons and their weary crews were either working their way south through the mountains, from Goose Lake, California, or driving right through the Sierra Nevada range on either the Truckee or Carson Trails.
None wanted to be caught in the High Sierras by snow and all knew the misfortune of the stranded Donner Party in 1846.

By early fall the mountain altitudes were cooling and there were flurries. Toward the end of the season,
trailing emigrants found themselves fighting mud, slippery rock, freezing rain and snow.
Between summer and late November, the overland emigrants came stumbling into the Sacramento Valley. Behind them lie 200 miles of mountain trail covered with drifting snow, collapsed wagons, deserted flapping tents, bloated carcasses and treasured possessions, trails that all had once promised a quick entry into the gold fields.

Meanwhile, by the summer of 1849, Sacramento had become “quite a flourishing place containing some 300 canvass houses and with lots in the business section bringing $600 to as much as $20,000“…and  there were a forest of ship masts lining Sacramento City’s embarcadero. “Vessels of every type and size capable of navigating the winding river channel were arriving daily, each loaded to its fullest capacity. Immediately on landing, most of the passengers hurried off to  the diggings, to be followed after a day or two by the bulk of the ships’ cargoes, which had in the interim been unloaded and transferred to the backs of pack animals.” News of the gold discovery had spread rapidly and was arousing keen interest at places far removed from California.

The great rush, by those hoping to strike it rich, was fully underway in 1849. By all overland routes at least 42,000 gold seekers reached California between late July and the end of 1849. During the year, 697 ships had entered San Francisco harbor delivering more than 41,000 Americans and foreigners, of whom fewer than 800 were women. Most of the ships were deserted by their crews and left to rot on mud flats or creak at anchor. California’s population grew from about 14,000 in 1848 to 100,000 in 1850.  The 89,000 gold seekers were not settlers or pioneers in the tradition of America’s westward migration. These people came as exploiters, transients, ready to take, not build. They found themselves surrounded by crowds of hurrying men concerned only with how to make the greatest amount of money in the shortest time.

Arriving in the goldfields, the men of  ‘49 were dismayed to see so many miners along the banks of the American, Feather, Mokelumne and other rivers. They faced a reality that some must have anticipated and feared: too many gold seekers had come to El Dorado. Some mining partners built stone or log cabins, with only a doorway to provide light and fresh air. During rainy cold periods these temporary quarters were dark and dank. Others survived in canvas-walled shacks or dugouts covered with brush. In this masculine world of primitive housing, ignorance of cooking, and unconcern for appearance and
hygiene, with liquor, gambling, and an occasional fight the only distractions from their weary work, the great moments were when they heard the “expressman” (mailman) was on his way.

The first mining region was in the mother-lode region of the Sierra Nevada from Sutter’s Mill south to Mariposa. During 1848 there was a maximum of 6,000 men working the diggings. By December of 1849 there were at least 40,000 miners in the same area. Those arriving in the fall of ’49 found many of the rivers and their tributaries already claimed. The earliest placer miners sought the eroded gold in the form of dust, flakes, and nuggets. Found in stream beds and in gravel’s laid down by ancient rivers, this supply of gold was exhausted quickly, and miners were forced to turn to other techniques
requiring greater cooperation, sophistication, and expenditure. Deep mines, however, required huge amounts of capital, forcing the individual placer miner to either work as a wage laborer, or return home. While 40,000 worked small claims another 40,000 were in the settlements and growing cities near the gold mining region either preparing to enter the mines, seeking their fortune in other
burgeoning business opportunities or giving up their hopes and planning to return home.

By the early spring of 1850 it had become apparent that their original expectations of quick riches were wrong. That promise still seemed possible, but they knew its fulfillment would require far more time and effort than once imagined. For those already in the mines, their small success’ justified staying on through the summer of 1850.

The miners read several month old, eastern news papers with concern: The pages were still filled with stories of booming California cities and the fortunes in gold being found and delivered to eastern ports by steamship. Worst of all, they read to their astonishment, that great numbers of Americans were planning to travel overland toCalifornia that very summer.

As the newspapers had promised, more new emigrants came during the summer and fall of 1850. Officers at Ft Laramie on the main overland trail counted 39,650 men and 2,421 women with 609 children.

Meanwhile, the miners had been wading in icy water up to their waists all summer, their legs ached from the cold, their hands were bruised and blistered from moving and piling rocks, their boots rotted. From the last of September, through October 1850 was a rainy, muddy period in the mountainous mining region.
Throughout the settlements and camps there were great numbers of men sick with chills and fever. In mid October, Cholera was brought from San Francisco to Sacramento City, within a month at least 364 deaths were recorded from the disease.

“During 1851, at age 25 years, Pulaski left the gold fields in California and returned to Oswego, New York.”

Whether rich or poor, there was only one way to go home: by sea. Overland travel eastward across the Sierra and the deserts was out of the question. The water route was the way, from San Francisco
to Nicaragua or Panama, across the jungled isthmus by foot and canoe to an Atlantic port and then by
ship again to New Orleans orNew York.

The first leg of the journey home led from the gold fields to Sacramento and down the Sacramento
River by boat to San Francisco. San Francisco was a place without homes, a boom town of men given over entirely to business, speculation and entertainment. Auction houses, hotels, bathhouses, groggeries, billiard rooms, eating and drinking houses, two- and four- story office buildings, banks, canvass shelled business’ and scores of gambling saloons- all these, along with “dens of lewd women,” crowded the steep and filthy streets. During the period August 1 through September 13th,  4,672 men left San Francisco, by the end of the year the total having left was at least 26,593 men and 8 women. Just as merchants in the frontier town had taken advantage of the ignorant city boys and speculators on their way to the gold fields, ship owners in San Francisco grasped at the opportunity to pluck those leaving. Many old and abandoned vessels were refitted and advertised as ready to receive passengers, with good food, clean quarters and skilled crews. Once at sea there was no escaping the unsanitary
quarters or improving the daily serving of putrid food. “The passengers were fed like hogs…some of the hard bread was of good quality, some moldy, and much of it was infested with black bugs burrowing into it like woodchucks in a sandbank…”

In Panama City two distinctly different crowds encountered one another: those expecting to find gold, and the sick and weary returning home. For those on their way across the isthmus to Chagres, an  ancient trail led through dense jungle on a three day journey. With their baggage packed on mules, the homebound Americans walked to “the most miserable” town of Gorgona, where they climbed onto
flat-bottomed boats to float down stream to the eastern coast. Everyone knew the dangers and uncertainties of the sailing ships, so they tried in every way to secure passage on a steamship. Most frequently, those returning would have to wait in Panama for 3 to 5 weeks before boarding one of the overbooked ships. Generally, the steamers sailed north from Central America with 1000 passengers pressed into the space designed for a maximum of 600.

Across the United States, in villages, towns and cities, thousands of wives and their returning husbands
felt the emotions of welcome and anxiety. Many men had returned home within about 2 years after leaving. Like soldiers home from far places, the gold seekers came back with new ideas and changed values, and within a few weeks or months many felt restless and impatient. The Marshall newspaper, Calhoun County, Michigan, 50 miles east of ancestor Pulaski Easton’s cabin, made general references in 1851 and 1852 to various gold seekers who returned to southern Michigan–“non with pockets full of rocks”.

 “Pulaski Easton returned to his childhood home in Oswego, New York, where he remained a few years.
In 1853, at age 27, he left New York and returned to Hartford Township, Van Buren County, Michigan.
In 1857, at age 31 years, he was married to Miss Sarah Carleton of Three Rivers. They moved into the house he had built 12 years before, where they commenced their battle with the forest. They patiently endured the privations, trials and hardships incident to pioneer life…until the dense and gloomy forest was removed and in its place can be now seen broad fields, thrifty orchards and fine buildings, the marks of this industry…”

For an ever-increasing number of Americans, California seemed to offer a robust alternative to the slow, conventional life in the other thirty states. California had become a new kind of West, not only a place with gold and all it promised, but also a place with business opportunities and new ways for farming. It was suddenly a place of cities and wealth, with newspapers, hotels, theaters, first class transportation, comforts and luxuries, a place where city folk could go.
For the first time in American history, California appealed to everyone. The population boom in turn encouraged construction of wagon roads and railroads and attracted essential outside capital. By the fall of 1851, there had sprung up the presence of blacksmith shops, trading posts, bridges, and ferry services along the overland trails. Shipboard transport had improved as well with a score of steamships offering passage to San Francisco in three weeks. In 1852 more than 50,000 emigrants, including many more women and children, traveled overland on the well developed trails to California. These families knew of the realities of mining. Now came farmers and businessmen who were aware of the
needs of 100,000 miners and the market demands of California’s rapidly growing cities. All played a part in opening up the western territories and tying them to the rest of the nation. The ’49ers, followed by businessmen, farmers and families, had in a few short years — won the west.

“On 22 April 1901, 53 years after his youthful journey to the goldfields in  California, Pulaski Easton, aged 74 years 11 months, died in Van Buren Co., Michigan.”

Note: Most of this historical narration was copied as excerpts from the sources listed below, I merely
assembled the information into a coherent story relating to the life and times  of Pulaski Easton.
Mr Larry

1. The World Rushed In: The California Gold Rush Experience, copr 1981 by J. S. Holliday, published by  Simon andSchuster,NY.
2. Sutter’s Fort: Gateway to  the Goldfields, copyright 1966 by Oscar Lewis, published by Prentis-Hall,
Inc., Englewood Cliffs, NJ.
3. Academic American Encyclopedia, topic “gold rush.”
4. Obituary of Pulaski Easton. The article  probably taken from the Hartford newspaper, Van Buren Co., Michigan within days  after his death.
5. Van Buren County Clerk, Paw Paw, MI; Certified Copy of Record of Death Record No. 4646


Filed under My family in history, __4. Midwestern migration