Continuing from where we left off in last week's blog, here are four more family histories composed by members of the Nancy Hunter Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution.
Published June 21, 1924, in the Southeast Missourian:
GIRARDEANS WRITE OF EARLY EXPERIENCES OF FORE-FATHERS IN THIS COUNTRY...
BY MRS. A.R. ZOELSMANN
Extracts from the Journal of Lewis Birdsall Harris, 1836-1842:
"We lay up at a small place called Paducah on the Kentucky side at the mouth of the Tennessee River, remained all day taking on tobacco. Nothing very interesting to be seen. Passed the mouth of the Ohio into the grand Mississippi in the night. Saw New Madrid, where I had lived a short time when I was a child, and where the great earthquake sunk a large portion of the place and where it is said large cracks can still be seen. I saw two or three where the water was low. A small island opposite New Madrid was sunk.
"We arrived at Memphis in the night. We lay up at a store boat and I went ashore and went up on the hill, but could see very little of the town. We next stopped at Vicksburg which is a lively thriving place built on the side of the hill on very rough ground.
"Came in sight of the shipping of New Orleans. The sight was truly grand, it appeared like a dry pi9ne forest as first seen and then a bend of the river hid them from sight until another bend brought the city into full view. We arrived here March 31st, 1836.
"I came to a deserted cabin in the edge of the prairie and concluded to occupy it for the night. I stripped my horse and staked him out to good grass and took my dripping things into the cabin. I found the powder in my pistols so wet that I could not fire them, and my powder was so damp that I could not get fire in the pan in my pistols. So, I had to adopt the primitive way of producing fire by friction, rubbing two dry sticks together did not work, so I improvised a bow by tying a piece of cord at one end of a strong twig and stretching it to the other end making a bow. I took a dry piece of board and laid it on the floor and dug out a hole in it with my knife. I then took another piece of dry board and split off a piece about 8 inches long and sharpened it at one end after making it tolerably round. I took another small piece of board and made a hole a very little way into it to hold the upper end of my rounded stick with bow and my machine was ready. I placed one end of my stick in the hole in the board after placing around it the driest and finest materials I could find in the old house. Having placed one end of the stick in the hole, I took the piece of board in my left hand, placing the end with the hole on top of the stick to hold it in place, and with my bow I commended whirling the round stick around back and forth, pressing it down with my left hand. It did not take long before it began to smoke and to my delight the materials surrounding my stick caught into a blaze, and I soon had a roaring fire in the old fire place.
"The county seat was fixed at Houston and when my brother's health failed, I was appointed county clerk pro tem, and upon his return they elected me county assessor; everything about both offices was new and we had nothing to guide us but the statutes and the lawyers. Some of them did not know much law or much precedent, but we got along very well and made money hand over fist, but it was 'Texas money.' It did very well at first and passed current at par, but before annexation it got so low that I used to stuff it between the logs in my room in bundles.
"In assessing the property of the county I had various experiences. The county took up Galveston at the time, but as there was no improvements on Galveston Island then, I did not have to go there. As none of the people had been assessed before I had great difficulty in explaining to some of them the necessity and the object of the work. Old Mrs. McCormick, owner of the land on which the battle of San Jacinto was fought, at first would hardly let me come into her house, and said her land was not worth anything after being covered with dead Mexicans, and being Irish, was especially opposed to tax gatherers."
BY MRS. J.S. KOCHTITZKY
Lt. Samuel Smith with his wife and children sailed for New England the last day of April 1634, in the "Elizabeth" from Ipswich, Suffolk County, England. He first settled in Watertown, Massachusetts, and later was one of the 59 original settlers in the town of Haley, where he held important offices in church and state. He was lieutenant of the town of Hadley for about 15 years including the trying times of King Phillip's War. In May 1673, Lt. Smith requested to be freed from military duty being, as he said, "near 80 years old."
Hadley's History says the two judges, Whalley and Goff, the regicides, were undoubtedly sheltered by Lt. Samuel Smith part of the time during King Phillip's War,. Gen. Edward Whalley was a cousin of Oliver Cromwell and Gen. William Goffe was a son-in-law of Gen. Whalley. They were two of the 67 judges who passed sentence upon King Charles the First and two of the 59 who signed his death warrant Jan. 29, 1649. They were members of the "High Court of Justice" which was the forlorn hope of civil and religious liberty for the English race and which with one desperate blow shattered the battlements of Prerogative that its walls never have been nor ever can be built up again.
With the restoration of Charles the Second these two men fled to New England, where they were sheltered by loyal friends. A price was set upon their heads and a swift retribution awaited any who might relieve or conceal them. For 20 years the zealous minions of Charles the Second ransacked every corner of the colonies with the ardor and persistence of bloodhounds. They lived in such seclusion and their retreat was so carefully guarded that there is no authentic record of when or where they died. Austin Robinson in a letter to Mrs. J.S. Kochtitzky says, "Oliver Smith of Hatfield, Massachusetts, founder of the Smith Charities in the Connecticut valley towns of Northampton, Hadley, Hatfield, Amherst, Williamsburg, Deerfield, Greenfield and Whaley, Massachusetts; Sophia Smith, the generous endower of Smith's Academy, Hatfield, foundress of Smith's college, Northampton; and Mary Lyon, the foundress of Holyoke Seminary -- all such noble institutions that the people of Weathersfield take pride in -- the donors were descended from the loins of one of the first settlers of their own native town, Lt. Samuel Smith.
BY MRS. CHARLES PHILIP GREGORY
John Harris was a native of Yorkshire, England, and emigrated to this country with William Penn sometime previous to the year 1719.
In the year 1727, John Harris, the founder of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, was born. It is said that he was the first white child born in Pennsylvania west of the Conewago hills who attained the age of manhood.
The home built by him at Harrisburg still stands, so plain and substantial was it that it might have been a one time fort. Within the past few years it has been restored and extended into a modern mansion.
One day a tribe of predatory Indians past down the Susquehanna River on a piratical expedition, and on their return stopped at the Harris house. Most of them were intoxicated, and they demanded more liquor from Harris which he refused to give. Bearing him a grudge as the ally of a tribe hostile to them, they bound him to a mulberry tree and threatened to burn him. Dry faggots were gathered and heaped around the stake, and one of the (Indians) approached with a lighted torch. Suddenly there was a rustling in the bushes and a band of friendly Indians supposed to have belonged to the Paxton tribe, and to have come across the river from either the Indian village opposite the Harris residence, or the one situated at the mouth of the Candogoguinet Creek, burst suddenly upon the scene and set him at liberty. These Indians were led by a (Black) slave, Hercules, owned by Harris, who at the first alarm ran to the neighboring tribe for succor, and brought it to his master's relief.
A painting of this scene now hangs in the State Library at Harrisburg. At his death he directed that his body be deposited at the foot of this Mulberry tree; and there it now lies, surrounded by a high iron fence in a little park kept by the state of Pennsylvania.
By the following extract from Colonial Records, it appears that John Harris was desirous of extending his trading operations further westward, and with this view had commenced clearing land at the mouth of the Choniata (Juniata) River, about 1732 or 1733:
"June 19, 1733.
"At a council held at Philadelphia, Shekaliamy, a chief, by Conrad Weiser, as interpreter, asked whether the proprietor had heard of a letter which he and Sassoonan sent to John Harris, to desire him to desist from making a plantation at the mount of the Choniata, where Harris has built a house and commenced clearing fields.
"They were told that Harris had only built that house for carrying on his trade; that his plantation, on which has houses, barns, etc., at Peixtan, is his place of dwelling, and it is not to be supposed he will remove from thence; that he has no warrant or order for making a settlement on Choniata.
"Shekallamy said that though Harris may have built a house for the convenience of his trade, yet he ought not to clear fields. To this it was answered that Harris had only cleared as much land as would be sufficient to raise corn for his horses. Shekallamy said that he had no ill will to John Harris; it was not his custom to bear ill will; but he is afraid that the warriors of the Six Nations, when they pass that way, may take it ill to see a settlement made on lands which they had always desired to be kept free from any person settling upon. He was told in answer that care should be taken to give the necessary orders in it."
Shekallamy was an Indian of much consequence among the Six Nations. He was the father of the celebrated Logan. It appears he was a Cayuga Sachem, and styled by Loskiel, 'First Magistrate and head Chief of all the Iroquois Indians living on the banks of the Susquehanna, as far as Onondago." He died at Shamokin, his residence, in 1749. He had been a great friend to Moravian missionaries. ("I.D. Rupp's History of Dauphin County")
BY MRS. CLYDE VANDIVORT
Col. George Frederick Bollinger was born of Swiss parentage in North Carolina, his father Henry Bollinger, was a Revolutionary War soldier ans was shot by the Torries. Col. Bolliner came to upper Louisiana in 1796 and selected a location on White Water, including the site of the present town of Burfordville. He then went back to North Carolina and returned to White Water with his wife and 20 families. Soon after locating on the concession, Col. Bollinger erected a log mill which was later replaced with a stone structure. The settlers for many miles around were dependent upon this mill for their flour.
Col. Bollinger was a member of the first territorial assembly which met in October 1812 and served several terms in the state senate. Through his political prominence, Bollinger County and the town of Fredericktown were named for him. Because of the distance of the settlement from commercial centers, the pioneers were compelled to depend on the products of the country for every thing they used. In addition to the usual crops were grown flax for their linen looms, cotton and woolen goods were also woven by the women of the family and the slaves. There is now in the possession of Mrs. C.A. Vandivort a linen sheet woven at the Whitewater house of Col. Bollinger.
Colonel Bollinger had one daughter Sarah who went to Salem, North Carolina, to be educated. She became a proficient musician, and was the possessor of the first piano west of the Mississippi, she brought the piano back west with her having learned to tune it herself. She also painted pictures with water colors, which are still in a good state of preservation. The winter stores of fruit, vegetables and (?) were under her supervision as was the making of the clothing and the spinning of the years and the weaving of the woolen, cotton and linen cloth.