Εικόνες σελίδας
PDF
Ηλεκτρ. έκδοση

That he was chosen to represent Luzerne in the Convention which ratified the United States constitution, has already been stated. Subsequently he was elected to the convention for forming a new State constitution, and bis name will be found appended to the beautiful frame of Government adopted in 1790.

When the new Federal Government went into operation, under the auspices of Washington, Col. Pickering was invited to take charge of the Post Office department. Selecting as his Assistant Post Master General, Abraham Bradley, Esq., then, though a very young man, an Associate Judge of the court in the county, he removed to Philadelphia, having sold the Connecticut claim to lands he had bought for £500, to William Ross for £2600, notwithstanding the repeal of the confirming law. Although it would be equally unnecessary and foreign to the rightful purpose of our narrative to trace the life of Col. Pickering with minuteness to its close, I may add, that after serving his country in the various capacities of Post Master General, Secretary of War, and Secretary of State, he removed to Massachusetts his native State, a number of liberal friends having purchased his wild lands and relieved him from pressing pecuniary embarrassments.* From Massachusetts Col. Pickering was sent to the Senate of the United States. During the whole of his life he devoted much attention to agriculture, and the papers of the day were frequently enriched by essays on that most interesting subject, from his pen. Col. Pickering closed his active and honourable life at his farm in Wenham, Massachusetts, January 29, 1829, in the eighty-fourth year of his age. .. Col. Franklin, after his return from captivity, submitting to the laws, and giving rein to his strong but honourable ambition, sought and obtained for many years a large share of public favour. Ia 1792, little more than four years after his incarceration in a Philadelphia prison, and indictment for high treason, there came a commission from his excellency Gov. Mifflin, running thus: “Reposing special trust and confidence in your patriotism, integrity and ability, etc,constituting John Franklin High Sheriff of Luzerne.

He was succeeded in that office by his friend William Slocum, for whom he called so earnestly in the extremity of his distress, when arrested by Capt. Erbe. Immediately and frequently afterwards Franklin was chosen member of Assembly, sometimes by a vote of

Considering the exact method and carefulness of Col. Pickering, it is matter of surprise that he was not rich. When at Wilkesbarre, if he lent a neighbour a bag, he was particular to make a minute of it in his day book, and to note its return.

cree.

three to one over any opponent. Having removed to his farm, situate on the east bank of the Susquehanna, opposite Tioga Point, keeping himself as he supposed within the limits of the law, he led off strongly as the advocate of the Connecticut claim generally, discountenancing all compromise that did not embrace the “half share men," or recent settlers; as well as those before the Trenton de

A zealous federalist, wielding a large influence in Luzerne ; in the then nearly balanced state of parties in Pennsylvania, he was courted or countenanced by eminent men, and even the heart of his old enemy, Col. Pickering, so far relented, that they “ exchanged civilities,” that is, it is understood, dined together at the Secretary's table. Whether at Philadelphia, Lancaster or at home, his ever busy pen was in requisition, and he filled the papers with essays upon the Connecticut title. At length, under the intrusion laws he was indicted, but the court dividing in opinion, Judge Yates affirming, Judge Breckenridge denying the constitutionality of the act, the matter slept, and the prosecution was lost sight of from the favorable progress of the compromising law, and the rapid decline of the new claims under the Susquehanna and Delaware Companies. A few months before an election, with great tact Franklin would commence his essays, awaken new and old prejudices and hopes, kindling the spirit of the people to that degree of warmth, that “Col. Franklin must go to the Assembly," and he went. Determined to rid themselves of a man so obnoxious, the Legislature enacted a law dividing the county of Luzerne, and setting off a very small part, including the district in which Col. Franklin lived, to Lycoming county. After several efforts one proved successful, and behold the great Yankee leader was chosen a representative from Lycoming county, appeared in triumph at Lancaster, and took his seat, December 1805. As it was his crowning, so it was his closing victory. Age had come with its whitening frost and chilling influence. The warm Saxon blood began to flow languidly, and that eye of fire to gleam with faded lustre; the stalwart frame gave way, and the once powerful arm fell nerveless; but the old gentleman, still revered and beloved, used to give and receive delight, by gathering round him a circle of eager listeners in the village of Athens, where he would recount the eventful stories connected with the early settlement of Wyoming.

John Franklin was born in Canaan, Connecticut in 1749, and in 1828, then more than 78 years old, his iron memory was so retentive, that he would relate with minute accuracy, stating numbers

and dates, series of events that had happened half a century before. A vein of sly humour often mingled in his conversation. Giving in testimony before the Court, referring to some transaction that took place about the time of his forcible abduction, he said with much gravity, though a smile lighted up every other countenance, “ Haring at that time a call on important business to Philadelphia, I had just gone in company with several gentlemen to that city."

He died on the 1st of March, 1831, having attained the great age

of 82 years.

Lord Butler succeeded Col. Pickering, as Prothonotary, Clerk of the Quarter Sessions and Orphans' Court, Register and Recorder.

[blocks in formation]

Such was the constitution of the court in 1798, and the reader will recognize in its members three of the Wyoming settlers, introduced to them twenty-seven years before.

of the Sheriffs of Luzerne, of whom there have been twenty, Lord Butler, John Franklin, William Slocum, were themselves actively engaged in the scenes we have described ; Benjamin Dorrance lost his father in the battle, Jabez Hyde was connected with the Jenkins' family, having married the oldest daughter of John and Bertha Jenkins; Elijah Shoemaker was son to Lieut. Shoemaker who fell, and he had married the daughter of Col. Denison. Naptha Hurlbut was son to Deacon Hurlbut, preacher in the absence of Priest Johnson, and representative to the Assembly at Hartford. James Nesbit, son of one of the early settlers in Plymouth. Thomas Myers, grandson of Mr. Bennet, who with Hammond, rose on the Indians. Caleb Atherton, son of Mr. Atherton of Plymouth, still one of the clearest chroniclers of Dr. Plunkett's defeat, which he witnessed and aided; George P. Steel, grandson of Col. George P. Ransom.

In the minutes of the sessions in 1794, it is stated that the only attorneys in Luzerne are Ebenezer Bowman and Putnam Catlin, (Rosewell Welles had been appointed judge.) That E. Bowman has declined practice, and P. Catlin was about to decline-that Nathan

Palmer* and Noah Wadhams, jr., having been admitted in the Supreme Court of Connecticut, be “ under the circumstances" admitted, &c., (the two years residence and study within the State, being dispensed with.) So great is the contrast between the fewness of attorneys in 1794, and the number of gentlemen at the bar in 1844, that we have preserved the fact.

Among the lawyers from other counties admitted to practice from time to time, we find the names of Wm. R. Hanna, Evan Rice Evans, Archibald T. Dick, Charles Houston, Thomas Cooper, John Carson, William Nichols, Daniel Clymer, John Kidd, John Ross, Daniel Smith, Daniel Levy, Samuel Sitgreaves.

An allusion has been made to the rise of property. Col. Pickering, January 1787, bought of Col. Z. Butler, town lots numbered 27 and 39, for 100 dollars, containing nearly seven and three-quarter acres, or about fifteen dollars an acre. In 1842 a piece of ground for building, cut out of one of these lots, 30 feet front by 225 deep, sold for $990, or at the rate of $6,000 an acre.f

So striking does the contrast of assessed property between 1781 and 1845, exhibit to those who take an interest in Wyoming, that it is a pleasure to present them with the gratifying picture; exclusive of polls, the assessment of the former year was £2,248—$7,493 33. 1844, in Luzerne county the real and personal property was assessed,

$4,291,058 Bradford,

3,793,957 Susquehanna,

2,658,813 Wayne,

1,238,425 Pike,

847,515

$12,829,768

Those six counties constituting the old town of Westmoreland. Of this value the township and borough of Wilkesbarre are assessed $910,580.

Afterwards, 1809, distinguished as a Senator from the District in the Pennsylvania Assembly.

† Among the various items of expense paid by the county, in suppressing the riot, at the abduction of Pickering, we note the following:

L. 8. d. Major Lawrence Myers, and his command on duty, seven days, fifty-two men, 66 57 Capt. John Paul Schott's expense, his troop, eight days,

23 10 0 And our old friend Abraham Westover, for extraordinary services in taking sioters, with approbation of Court,

9 17 6

Referring to the census, the view is equally pleasing. Westmoreland in 1781, contained 114 males from 21 to 70, and 26 from 16 to 21, making 140, quadruple this and we shall have 560 inhabitants. At the first census under the constitution, viz: 1790, there were in Luzerne,

4,904 In 1800,

12,839
[An increase of nearly 300 per cent., of which

about 6000, or one-half, were located in town-
ships up the river from the Valley, a large
proportion of them being new settlers under

the Connecticut claim.]
In 1810, an increase of 50 per cent.,

18,109
Luzerne, in 1820,

20,027 Bradford county, taken from Luzerne, 11,554 Susquehanna, taken from Luzerne, 9,990

41,571 An almost unprecedented increase of 120 per cent.

During this period of ten years, the full influence of the compromising law, and the settlement of titles generally, was selt.

[blocks in formation]

Hence it will manifestly appear that the part of Pennsylvania, settled under the Connecticut Claim, so far from having been retarded in population and wealth, has advanced in both in a ratio not exceeded by any portion of the Commonwealth. Compared with the counties within the Connecticut Charter, west of Westmoreland, where the controversy, in effect did not extend, the increase is obvious. Without meaning the slightest invidiousness of distinction, it may yet be said, that no part of the State presents a more intelligent, moral, or industrious people. Since conciliated by her kindness, and won by the steady exhibition of her justice, the once outlawed Yankees have become attached, with all the enduring ardour of

« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »