Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Famous Non-Residents of Black's Cemetery

Marker at the entrance to Black's Graveyard,
between Gettysburg and Mummasburg
Last year I was in the Gettysburg area visiting friends when I stumbled upon Black's Cemetery. The cemetery, located on Belmont Road (just off of Mummasburg Road), was the original site of the Gettysburg Presbyterian Church. The church is long gone but the sign at the front of the cemetery states it was built on site in 1740. This cemetery is one of the oldest in Adams County - the oldest burial I could find was 1749; further research shows that there are a couple burials from that year though I could only find one marker for that year.

I arrived at the cemetery and was immediately impressed with the overall condition of the area. As I walked the rows of old stones, I was impressed with the overall condition of the cemetery and the stones still standing. Many of the stones showed weathering, but most of them were still legible. It does appear that a number of stones are missing due to the gaps between the stones.

Wandering the grounds I found veterans of the American Revolution and a veteran of the War of 1812. The most famous people buried in this old cemetery, however, are the two who are no longer buried here. Yes, the most famous people who have been buried here are no longer buried here.

You might have heard of them. Their names are Samuel and Isabella. What? Never heard of them? They had a son, James, who you might have heard of once or twice? No, haven't heard of him either?

On August 14, 1759, James was born to Samuel and Isabella. In 1785, Samuel was forced to sell the farm in a sheriff's sale. James bought 116 acres of his father's farm. He immediately divided the 116 acres into 210 lots and on January 10, 1786, he started selling them. His desire was to have his newly laid out town become the county seat of a new county that was being proposed, so he donated land for a jail and helped raise money to offset the cost of building public buildings. The town he laid out would become infamous during the summer of 1863 when the Union and Confederacy met there.

Have you figured it out yet? The county would become Adams County and the county seat became Gettysburg, named after its founder James Gettys.

Memorial to Samuel and Isabella Gettys,
Black's Cemetery

James Gettys was a veteran of the American Revolution and was a very active member of society, always looking for ways to improve and expand. He served as Brigadier General of the local militia, as sheriff for the county, and as a state legislator, just to name a few of the positions he held during his lifetime. He married Mary Todd, ancestor of Mary Todd Lincoln, wife of President Lincoln.

In 1815, James, his wife Mary, and mother Isabella all died within a week due to "the fever." In 1865, James, Jr. returned to the area to have his ancestor's remains moved from Black's Cemetery to Evergreen Cemetery, where they still reside to this day. Evergreen Cemetery is located beside the National Cemetery in Gettysburg, along Baltimore Street.

As I wandered about the cemetery that day, the history of the area came alive. While many are drawn every year to Gettysburg to tour the battlefield and learn about the military history of the region, here in this small, backwoods cemetery I found the true history of the area. The people who settled here; the people who forged out a place in the wilderness; the people who had a vision of the future. True, they could never realize at that point what would happen when two armies collided here years later, but these settlers paved a way for generations to come.

I left the cemetery as I found it, alone on a hillside, filled with history waiting to be explored by others.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Pennsylvania's First Game Refuge

Marking the spot of the first Game Refuge in
Pennsylvania
Along Route 144, just south of Renovo, near the overlook of the Fish Dam Run and the area where the tornadoes touched down on May 31, 1985, is a stone marker just off the west side of the road. In the years of traveling up and down Route 144 I knew that the marker was there, but due to one reason or another I never stopped to see what the marker was all about.

Last year, while on a trip up to Kettle Creek State Park, I decided to stop and investigate the marker. The plaque on the tablet reads: "Site of First State Game Refuge 1906-1946."

The remoteness of this stretch of Route 144 would be an ideal location for a game refuge. I've often seen deer, bear, and turkey among countless other animals in this area, but I had never heard anybody talk about a game refuge ever being here.

A history of the Pennsylvania Game Commission reveals a bit about the history of the game refuges that existed within our state. On May 11, 1905, Governor Pennypacker authorized the Game Commission to establish game perserves for the protection of wildlife. While we often are graced by the fact we can see deer, turkey, and other forms of wildlife everyday, in 1905 this was not the case. Due to overhunting and the failure to conserve nature's resources, big game was rare within the state. According to many accounts only a handful of deer existed in the state due to that overhunting. Residents of the state had already wiped out the wolf and elk populations in previous years and now were on the verge of wiping out the deer, turkey and bear living within the borders of the state.

However, the cost of establishing a refuge came with a price. Once the land was selected, it was cleared of all predators; weasels, foxes, bobcats, and any other predators in the area were killed through trapping, shooting, and poison. Once the predators were exterminated then big game animals were stocked onto the game refuge.

Each refuge was roughly two to three thousand acres in size and was located on State Forest lands in hopes that the animals living in the refuges would disperse out onto public lands. Each refuge was surrounded by a 25 foot wide fire lane with a single strand of wire running the entire border of the game refuge. No one was allowed to hunt these lands and they were patrolled to make sure nobody hunted on them.

In 1919, Governor Sproul signed the bill that allowed lands to be bought to become a game refuge. By 1946, the game refuge system had allowed wildlife within the area to successfully thrive and was no longer needed. The lands were opened and hunting allowed on them.

Those refuges brought back the animal populations to our state that were gone or rapidly disappearing. These days we take the wildlife around us too often for granted, but without these early steps, we would not be able to enjoy the wildlife that abounds in the state today.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Hyner View State Park: Finding Peace of Mind

Looking northwest towards Hyner and North Bend
Of all of the overlooks I've visited, the one at Hyner View State Park in one of the prettiest and breath-taking vistas that anybody can visit. I know that in the couple hundred I've journeyed to so far (and I know I still have hundreds to visit) this one ranks in my top five vistas.

It had been many years since I had ventured up the mountainside to the overlook, so one cool autumn morning in 2010, I set out to explore the West Branch Valley of the Susquehanna and I knew I had to return to the vista. The last time I had been up to the overlook was when I was in college at Lock Haven, which had been many, many years ago.

Looking to the southeast from Hyner View

The day I set out wasn't the best of days. Nothing had been going right for me over the past couple days and that morning I needed to just get out and explore, allowing the cares of the world to disappear somewhere behind me. What I got that day was a lesson in how well I've had it in life.

Heading north on Route 120 out of Lock Haven, I made my way along the river until I arrived in the small town of Hyner. In Hyner, I turned right onto Hyner Road, drove just shy of two miles and turned right again onto Hyner View Road. The road up the mountainside is narrow (two vehicles can pass, but when one of them is a truck, it makes it a little exciting in places) so thankfully I only had passed two cars coming down that morning. At the top of the mountain, there is a sharp turn that is narrow as the road goes around the point. To the right is a brief glimpse of the overlook and a view of Huff's Run. The road makes its way around the hollow and finally the park is in sight. The access road into the park was built in 1949, allowing easier access to the overview.

The day I ventured up the mountainside, I was greeted with a black bear crossing the road in front of me. It crossed at one of the wider spots in the road and I was able to stop and watch it for a couple of minutes before a car caught up to me. I watched as they soon had their camera out and were taking pictures of it. At the park they caught up with me. "Did you see that bear? Did you? That was neat!" As they chatted on excitedly, I soon discovered the couple and their children lived only miles from me. They make the trip to Hyner View every year and then they return to State College via Route 144. I was surprised when they said that in the years they had made this trek that this was the first black bear they had seen in the wild.

As I approached the overlook that was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s, I was taken in by the beauty of the area. It was as beautiful as I remembered. Far below the West Branch of the Susquehanna rolled on, cutting through the mountains to the south. To the northwest I could see Hyner and in the distance beyond that was North Bend.

I stood there taking in the changing leaves and snapping lots of pictures when a voice interrupted my thoughts. "Beautiful day, isn't it?" The man who stood beside me was easily in his sixties, if not older; his long, white beard and even longer white hair, blew in the wind. He wore a beat up green jacket covered in military patches and an even rougher looking ballcap that was faded from years of use.

"Used to come up here all of the time when my wife was living," he spoke softly. He spoke of coming up with his wife when she was living and bringing his two boys up here every year. His wife had passed away a couple years back and he still came up yearly, though his boys were often too busy to make the journey. I listened to his story as he shared it.

Memorial to Pennsylvania Fire Wardens,
Hyner View

After talking to him for a while, he finally said it was time to go and I watched as he left. Suddenly the problems I had seemed so far away and so insignificant. As I stood there, I reflected upon his love, his lose, his loneliness, his lessons about life, and I knew I had nothing to really complain about despite the "hardships" in my life at the time.

The sound of laughter once again brought me back to reality. I was so lost in my thoughts that I had not heard the car pull into the lot, nor did I hear the young couple get out. "It's so beautiful up here!" I heard her say. "But it is so cold!" I did my best to ignore them.

"Could you take our picture?" the guy asked hesitantly. Sure. "Better take two or three." Before they left, I knew they were getting married in a couple weeks and that he was originally from the area, though she was from somewhere up in Connecticut. They looked at the pictures, thanked me and headed back into the warmth of their vehicle.

What I found that day wasn't just a view of the river. What I found in those I met was that things weren't as bad as I thought. What I found in them was a peace of mind through the eyes of strangers.

Life is good.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Aquila Henning

Aquila Henning's Grave, Old Albrightsville Cemetery,
Albrightsville
I was introduced to the grave of Aquila Henning in the summer of 2009 while on a geocaching trek across Eastern Pennsylvania. While the nearby cache was on my list, a number of fellow geocachers told me that I had to visit the grave. "I've never seen anything like it before," one friend wrote, "You'll definitely be interested in seeing it."

Parking at the cemetery is almost nonexistant, I pulled off the edge of it as far as I could; my attention was immediately drawn to the largest stone standing in the middle of the Old Albrightsville Cemetery. The side facing the road had the names and dates chiseled into it and was relatively plain, but the backside of the monument told one version of the death of Aquila Henning for the world to see. Standing in the foreground is Aquila Henning with his rifle and hidden in the bushes are those men who attacked him.

As I viewed the stone, I noticed that the death date doesn't state death: it states "Shot Nov. 24, 1932." Also noted is the fact that the man in the center of the laurel, holding a pistol, is a one-armed man. In front of the one-armed man in another man kneeling, while seven faces appear to be viewing the scene from the laurel. At the bottom of the memorial are chiseled the words "An Innocent Man Sent To Eternity." Who was Aquila Henning and what happened to him? What was this story carved here for the world to see?

Yes, Aquila is the man in the foreground carrying a hunting rifle. The one-armed man actually existed: his name was Harry Wilkinson, a local school teacher who had a feud going on with Aquila Henning and his kin. Supposedly the feud started when Harry caused Aquila Jr. to be arrested for illegal hunting. Words were exchanged between Aquila, Sr. and Harry; the feelings of hostility boiled between the two and it would only be a matter of time before it would turn violent.

On Thanksgiving Day 1932, the feud would turn bloody. Aquila and his son had spent the morning hunting; fate would cause them to run into Harry Wilkinson. With Harry was his brother Robert (who was a game warden) and seven other friends who were also spending the day hunting.

Here's where things get interesting.

According to testimony given in court, Aquila's son had shot and wounded one of the Wilkinson dogs. While Harry Wilkinson knelt to examine it, Aquila Sr. stepped out of laurel, stood up on a stump and took aim at Harry. Aquila fired, missing Harry. Robert, who was nearby, saw this, drew his gun and fired upon Aquila; the bullet went through his kidneys. Aquila would make it to Palmerton Hospital before passing away from his injuries. Aquila gave a statement before passing away that he did not shoot the dog or shoot at Harry.

In January of 1933, the case against Robert Wilkinson went to trial and after a week of testimony, the case went to the jury. They were gone only a short before returning with a verdict of "Not Guilty." They did not deny that Robert shot and killed Aquila; they thought the shooting was justified in order for Robert to save Harry's life.

The Wenz Memorial Company provided a stone for the grave. The picture on the stone portrays a different version of the story with Harry and his friends ambushing Aquila. The version chiseled in the stone shows Harry preparing to shoot Aquila from ambush. This version is the story that Aquila's widow believed happened according to the testimony of her late husband.

After the erection of the monument, Harry Wilkinson sued the Wenz Memorial Company for damages, claiming that the version on the stone was all a lie to make him look bad. He lost the case.

Only three people will ever known exactly what happened that fateful day. One died soon after due to his wounds, one claimed he was protecting his brother's life, and one claimed he was hiding after being shot at and didn't see the actual shooting. What exactly happened that day will remain a mystery.

The cemetery Aquila and his family are buried in was originally a family cemetery, but has since been taken care of by St. Paul's Lutheran Church.

To visit Aquila's grave, take Route 115 south from Interstate 80 (Long Pond/Blakeslee exit). Approximately two miles southward, Route 903 branches off to the right. Take this for just shy of five miles. You'll go through the "town" of Albrightsville. Turn right onto Old Stage Road (also called Henning Road); the road turns to the right and the cemetery is straight ahead (less than one hundred yards from the interesection with North Stage Road.) There is no parking in the cemetery, so to visit, you'll want to pull your vehicle as far off the road as possible. Thankfully, there's not a lot of traffic on this backroad. Like all other cemeteries, please use respect when visiting.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Weatherly Cemetery: Part Two

Weatherly Cemetery
I am starting out this post with a warning: This cemetery has been highly vandalized over the years and if you would visit it, please do so during daylight hours only. If you would visit this cemetery, or any other cemetery for that matter, please use respect and common sense. This cemetery is closed after dark and trespassers can and may be prosecuted.

When I stopped at this cemetery earlier this year I had no idea what cemetery it was that I had stopped at. Using the handful of names I had written down from tombstones provided little information. The only thing I came up with was that it was St. Joseph's Catholic Cemetery. The church that once stood on the grounds was abandoned in 1875 when the congregation moved to St. Nicholas Catholic Church in present-day Weatherly. In 1966, arson took the old building, leaving just the old cemetery at the present site.

A couple different searches of the name of the cemetery came up with little in the means of history of it. I got my answer a couple weeks later when I was sharing pictures from recent trips with a friend.

"You were up at the Haunted Cemetery?" he asked excitedly as he looked at the pictures I had taken.

"Haunted Cemetery?" I asked curiously.

"Yeah," he replied. "The one up above Weatherly."

"Yeah, it was near there," I replied.

"So you what do you think?"

"About what?"

"About it being haunted, of course. Surely you know about it?"

"No, I can't say I do."

"It is one of the most haunted places I've ever been. There's the sound of children laughing, mysterious shadows, the feeling of being watched...then there's a ghost car that drives past it from time to time, a white horse roams the grounds, a pair of glowing red eyes has been spotted among the stones, and that's just a handful of the stories."

"Ok," I replied. There was no mistaking the disbelief in my voice.

"Don't you believe it?"

"No."

"No?"

"No. Probably the only spirits seen in the cemetery are the spirits being drank by those seeing the 'ghosts'."

I had spent close to an hour in the cemetery the morning I visited without seeing or feeling a thing. No cars, real or otherwise, passed the cemetery while I walked among the stones. No white horses roamed the grounds (though there were some deer grazing along the woodline that morning). No feelings of unease or being watched crossed my mind. No red eyes stared out at me from behind the stones or trees; if they did, I failed to see them. No mysterious shadows were seen nor were any strange sounds heard as my brother and I roamed the grounds. No strange images appeared in any of the photos I snapped that morning.

My brother confirmed that nothing was experienced the whole time we were in the cemetery.

As I told my friend, I think the majority of the spirits haunting the cemetery are those spirits brought by people to the cemetery for their partying. Evidence of those spirits were obvious on the day of my visit; quite a few beer cans littered the small parking area and the edge of the cemetery. I can see why people would think it was haunted: the remoteness of the cemetery, the deep forest of pine, the relative coolness of the area - they all lead up to reasons the human mind would think it is haunted. With those thoughts in mind, and the addition of a little alcohol, the mind could easily run amok.

I really don't think that the cemetery is haunted. Though word of mouth says otherwise, I fail to find anything other than an old cemetery in need of some serious care.

Weatherly Cemetery: Part One

Weatherly Cemetery
I am starting this post with a warning: This cemetery has been heavily vandalized over the years and if you would visit this cemetery, or any other cemetery for that matter, please use respect and common sense. This cemetery is closed after dusk and trespassers can and may be prosecuted.

I found this cemetery quite by accident. Needing a place to turn around, I had turned onto the road hoping to find a quick turn around. However my quick turn around soon became an adventure as a cemetery soon came into view. My brother rolled his eyes at the sight of the cemetery and goes, "We're stopping, aren't we?"

"Yup, get the camera," was all I could reply as I got out of the truck and started looking around. The cemetery showed the signs of abandonment and neglect. Some of the headstones rested on the ground, having fallen or been toppled over by carelessness. The grass had been cut in various parts of the cemetery, but not all of the plots had been mowed; obviously some family members had been returning time after time to take care of their ancestor's graves. In the far corner, a movement caught my eye: four deer stood there watching us as we entered into the cemetery. They soon decided the grass was better elsewhere and silently slipped into the woods.

We walked around reading the stones of those buried there. In places, the sunken earth told of a burial whose stone had long since disappeared. Other stones jumped out at me as they told the story of those buried or memorialized there.

Regina H. Eberts, a Lieutenant in the Army Nurse Corps, Third Service Command, during World War 2. She died in 1946, the year after the war ended. I stood there wondering if she died due to injuries from the war or maybe it was an accident. Whatever the case may be, she was only 26 when she passed from this world. Later research failed to discover what had happened to her.

Then there were the stones that tell of the country of origin. Most of those were from Ireland, but the grave of Elizabeth McGinty states she was from LaFayette County, Wisconsin. I thought it was a little odd her husband had the stone carved with those words. I also found it strange the way it states that he had the stone erected for her; to me it almost seems that this is a memorial only and not a burial site. I could only scratch my head.

Another grave also caught my attention as I was exploring the stones of those buried there. A stone erected by Edward McGill in memory of his two sons lost on Buck Mountain. My first searches fail to find anything about the loss of Daniel and Patrick (ages 6 and 2 respectively) on April 24, 1870.

After walking the cemetery twice, I decided it was time to continue my journey. As we pulled out of the cemetery, something caught my eye and to my surprise, two of the deer had returned back into the cemetery. I left them eating in peace as I left the cemetery in silence.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Seven Mountains Strange: The Ingleby Monster

Location where the group of us had the strange experience,
Near Raven's Knob in the Seven Mountains


While I often talk about the mysterious and unexplained, I find it hard to share my personal experiences with the world. I've always tried to disprove any story about ghosts and hauntings, so when something strange occurs that I cannot explain, it confuses me greatly.

The story I'm about to share with you happened in the fall of 1998, a story that happened to myself and three of my coworkers at the time. Before ghost hunting was a big thing on the tv, we had set out on countless adventures to the local haunts, trying to prove or disprove them. Most often we had a laugh about the stories and merely went on our way. However, it was on one adventure, an adventure that was not originally about ghosts, that we had our strangest encounter; none of us really ever talked about it after the events of that day. As far as I'm aware, none of the other three ever publicly told this story and seeing I haven't talked to any of them in over ten years, I feel that I can finally share the story of that day.

The leaves were changing on the trees as we set out for a day of traveling through the Seven Mountains. We had visited Ingleby (a remote village near Coburn) and the Coburn train tunnel, followed by the Poe Paddy train tunnel before heading to the overlooks on Poe Mountain. We had a lunch packed and we stopped at the Raven's Knob Vista to enjoy lunch.

I'm not easily unnerved, but the longer we sat there eating, the more the feeling of unease effected my nerves. Though none said it at the time, we were all feeling the same. Finally one of the others swore and asked if any of us felt like we were being watched. We all agreed that it felt like someone or something was watching us. Looking around the mostly open woods we failed to find what was causing our fear.

By this time we were ready to leave. We rapidly gathered everything up and didn't bother to pack it; we were throwing stuff in the back of the vehicle just so we could get out of there as quickly as possible.

Before we could get out of the area, we all froze in place. The tension in the air and the fear we shared seemed to freeze us in place. Near the spot we stopped was an old road that lead down into the forest; something drew our attention towards the road that disappeared into the woods. I can't say that I saw anything, but something had my attention. As we all stared helplessly down that old logging road, we heard it.

Somewhere down that road, something was running towards us. The steady sound of footsteps running towards us was sending our group into overdrive; our hearts were racing and a cold sweat running. It was getting closer and closer yet we still could not see a thing. As loud as the steps were, we should have seen something and we all knew whatever it was, it was going to be upon us in seconds.

When the footsteps reached the open area, they stopped and a cold breeze blew past us. When I say cold, I mean it colder than anything I've ever experienced in my life. It was cold enough that it hurt when it blew past us. Then on the other side of the clearing, we heard the steps running away from us. We all stood there until we couldn't hear them anymore.

Once the sound of the footsteps disappeared into the forest, the spell that held us there was broken. None of us spoke a word as we scrambled in fear into the vehicle and took off like our lives depended on it. None of us spoke about it on the way home (our adventure was officially over for the day). It would be a couple days before we could really talk about what happened that day.

All four of us agreed on the events that day and none of us could come up with an explanation for what we experienced in the mountains that day. The fact that something did happen was pretty much the end of our exploring haunted places. We all drifted our separate ways soon after without ever saying another word about the events of that day. The events affected me so much that I avoided the area for years; it has only been in the last year or two that I finally ventured back up to the overlooks. Thankfully, nothing happened in recent trips back.

That day has never left me. I love sharing ghost stories and folklore with others, but this one I kept to myself. Who would ever believe me?

I was given a copy of Jeffrey Frazier's newest book and as I was reading the story of the Ingleby monster, I realized that the story he related in there was similar to the event we experienced. In fact, the events in his story and what I experienced were a little over a mile apart. Was it the Ingleby monster that we encountered that day? I will probably never know exactly what happened that day though it remains as fresh in my memory today as it did all those years ago.

The Hounds of Hans Graf Cemetery

Hans Graf Cemetery, near Marietta
I must start this entry with a warning: This is a cemetery and there are people buried there. Please show respect when visiting it. Police do patrol the area and night trespassing can result in charges. With that being said, allow me to continue.

I had first read about the Hans Graf Cemetery in a book about haunted locations in Lancaster County. While I found it interesting, it really wasn't high on my list of places to visit. However, on a recent trip to Marietta, I took a slight detour and visited the old cemetery.

The adventure continues in "Histories and Mysteries of Pennsylvania: Volume One" available now through Amazon.


Thursday, August 11, 2011

Founding Father of the Grange: Rev. Aaron Grosh

Grave of Rev. Aaron Grosh,
Marietta Cemetery, Marietta
As I was helping my sister make the National Grange Youth test a couple years back, I stumbled upon an interesting fact: two of the founding fathers of the National Grange are buried within our state's borders. One is in Philadelphia and one is buried in Marietta.

I made note of it at the time, filed it under "people of importance whose grave I should visit," but as with everything else, it got jostled to the back of my "to do list." But a phone call from Charlene, the National Grange Youth Director (and a really good friend of mine) set me off on another series of adventures to locate not only the two founders in Pennsylvania, but a long-term goal of visiting the final resting places of all seven founders.

A phone call earlier this year set me off on another interesting adventure. "We're trying to find the graves of the founders of the Grange and Ed (the National Grange Master) wants to know what the condition of those graves are. Interested?" Of course I'm interested. It would be another adventure and I'd get to see some new parts of the state that I hadn't visited before.

Reverend Aaron Grosh, along with Oliver Hudson Kelley and five other men formed the agricultural organization Order of the Patrons of Husbandry (also known as the Grange) in 1867. Of the seven founders, less is known about the early life of Rev. Grosh than any of the other founders.

What is known about Rev. Grosh is the fact he was born May 22, 1803 in Marietta and was a pastor of the Universalist faith. It is known he worked on a farm and was a teacher for a while before becoming a minister. Due to health issues, he later stopped ministering and took a clerk job at the Department of Agriculture. Grosh became involved with the founding of the Grange through a friendship he had with another of the founders, William Saunders.

Rev. Grosh was the first chaplain of the Grange and under his penmenship, many of the songs and and the ritual that is a part of the organzation was written. He also wrote the Odd Fellow's manual and much of the ritual that they still use to this day. Grosh died May 27, 1884 and was buried in Marietta, his hometown.

After a couple back and forth messages with Charlene, I made the mistake of bragging "I'll have his grave found in fifteen minutes or less." After all, how big can this cemetery be? Marietta doesn't look that big on the map. Little did I know what I was getting myself into.

Looking from the roadway in Marietta Cemetery -
Rev. Grosh's grave is under the tree to the left

Early one morning, I picked Adam up and south we headed. As I pulled into the cemetery, I mumbled under my breath, "What have I gotten myself into?" The map online of the cemetery didn't quite look as big as it really was. The grounds were crowded with old headstone and a couple sections of newer stone (which thankfully I could cross out on my list of places to search).

"Fifteen minutes?" Adam spoke. "There's a couple thousand stones in this cemetery. Where are we going to start?" We spread out and in less than nine minutes, Adam called out that he had found it. I hurried over to take a look. The old stone was weathered and showed it's age, but it was still legible for the most part. At the base of the stone was a marker placed there by the Grange during its one hundred year celebration.

Next to him is buried his wife, Sarah, whose stone is in as excellent condition as that of Aaron's. We took a couple of pictures and I took the time to clean the dead grass off of his stone before deciding it was time to leave this old cemetery in peace.

Finding his grave isn't too hard - there is only one road that leads in and out of the cemetery. Enter into the cemetery from West Fairview Avenue on that road. There is one mausoleum in the Marietta Cemetery -stop and park in front of it and look to the right. There are two pine trees in the cemetery in view looking to the right - he is buried under the farthest pine tree.

With one founding father down, it is time to turn my attention to another of the founding fathers, William Ireland.



Monday, August 1, 2011

Wechquetank

Monument to the Wechquetank Mission,
Mill Pond Road, Gilbert
 (Note the spelling of Historical)
Just south of Gilbert, along Mill Pond Road, is a monument that can easily be missed. Saying it is easily missed is an understatement; it was on my third trip to the area that I discovered the monument. While traffic rushes by on Route 209, less than half a mile to the north, on this narrow backroad stands a monument that sadly few realize exists.

While geocaching my way throughout the area, I tried to find one that was located near the monument (a geocache that I failed to find), but what I discovered that day was a mystery. After the trip ended, I did an internet search and came up with nothing about the Indian Mission. A copy of A History of the Indian Villages and Place Names in Pennsylvania written by Dr. George P. Donehoo and Forts on the Pennsylvania Frontier 1753-1758 by William A. Hunter provided some insight to the Wechquetank mission.

The Moravian Church was founded by Jan Hus (John Huss) and became the first large scale Protestant missionary movement. In North America, they were known for setting up missions and preaching to the natives to bring to them the news of Christianity.

Wechquetank was one of these missions. Set up in 1760, the mission came into existence four years after Fort Norris was erected just west of here. The mission took its name from the Indian word "Wekquitank," a species of willow that was predominate along Head's (Hoeth's) Creek at the time of the mission's founding by Gottlieb Senseman in April of 1760. The mission housed thirty Indians who had accompanied Senseman from Bethlehem. Once the mission was established, Bernard A. Grube was in charge of it and under his watchful eye, the mission flourished and grew.

For three years the mission flourished, but with the onset of Pontiac's War in 1763, the mission floundered. The rise in hostilities created a deadly threat to the Indians living here; they faced death at the the hands of both the white settlers and the warring Indians.

In August of 1763, the fears they faced started to boil over. Soldiers under the direction of Captain Wetterhold shot and killed an Indian woman named Zippora while she slept in a nearby barn. White settlers feared retaliation for the senseless murder; Indians at the mission feared more violence against them.

On October 8, 1763, a group of hostile Indians raided Bethlehem. Several settlers were killed in the raid, prompting the immediate abandonment of the Wechquetank mission on the 11th of that month. Fearing for their lives, those living at the mission fled to Nazareth, seeking shelter and protection.

On November 6th, the mission was officially abandoned and the peaceful Indians were ordered from Wechquetank; they were sent to Philadelphia for protection during the violence. Sometime around the 11th of November the mission was burned to the ground.

The monument was placed in 1907 by the Moravian Historical Society. The iron enclosed memorial is currently surrounded by rolling hills of a small farm. The day of my visit it was obvious that someone was preparing to do some work around the monument and since then have completed the work.

The only thing about visiting the area is there is very little parking at the site. Thankfully, there was very little traffic on the back road where the monument is located.

To visit the monument, turn south from the red light in Gilbert onto State Route 3005. Travel approxiamately one mile, turn right onto Mill Pond Road (this will be at the first intersection). The monument is a short distance along this road on the right.