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Benjamin Harvey's
Discovery of the Lake

Chapter 1

Indian and Ranger Marauders Capture Harvey and Son

A town meeting of the inhabitants of Westmoreland (Connecticut name of the Wyoming District) was held at the house of Abel Yarington, Wilkes-Barre, on Tuesday, December 5, 1780. John Hurlbut, Esq., acted as moderator, and he, Colonel Denison, Captain John Franklin, James Nisbitt and Jabez Sill were chosen selectmen of the ensuing year. Also, men were chosen to fill the offices of town clerk, treasurer, constable, surveyors of highways, fence viewers, listers, collectors, leather sealers and grand jury men. “The fewer of the inhabitants,” says Miner, “may be inferred from the fact that James Nisbitt and Jabez Sill were each chosen to three offices, and several others were voted in to the duties and honors of two.

The occasion was one of comparative cheerfulness. Winter had set in – snow had fallen—the enemy, kept at a respectful distance by the spirited conduct of Hammond, Bennet, VanCampen, Rogers and Pike, would not be likely, it was thought, soon to return. With frost, sickness had ceased; and Forseman’s arrival with a supply of cattle dissipated all fears of suffering from famine. But these pleasing dreams of security were destined to be brief duration.

On November 19, 1780, a detachment of 19 “Rangers” and five Indians set out from Niagara, under the command of Lieutenant John Turney, Sr., on a marauding expedition to the valley of the Susquehanna. In due time the party reached the river, where they took canoes and descended as far as Secord’s on the west bank of the river, two or three miles above the present borough of Tunkhannock. Leaving their canoes here they marched westward through a gap in the mountains and then in a southerly direction towards the valley of Wyoming. They arrived on the summit of Shawanese Mountain, overlooking the Plymouth Township settlement, in the afternoon of Wednesday, December 6th, 22 days after leaving Niagara.     

On the evening of this day George Palmer Ransom, a member of Capt. Simon Spalding’s Westmoreland Independent Company, in the Continental service at the Wyoming garrison, Manasseh Cady, Jonathan Frisbie, James Frisbie, Nathan Bullock, Benjamin Harvey and his son Elisha, all privates in Capt. John Franklin’s militia company, were gathered together at the home of Benjamin Harvey, where, also, were his daughter, Lucy Harvey and Lucy Bullock, a daughter or sister of Nathan Bullock. Mr. Harvey’s home was in what is now the borough of Plymouth, on the northwest side of Main Street, about midway between the present Center and Eno avenues.

There had been a heavy fall of snow a few days previously, and on this Wednesday night the weather was extremely cold; but, within the deep and broad fireplace in the “living room’ of Benjamin Harvey’s house, there blazed a fire of pine knots and chestnut logs, whose genial brightness and warmth the little company seated about the hearth enjoyed with much satisfaction, heedless of the blustering winds and drifting snow without. At the same time the men of the party were enjoying also plenteous draughts of the hardest kind of hard cider, which, with our New England forefathers, was the usual drink on extra-ordinary occasions during the winter season.

The hours were yet early when, suddenly, a noise was heard by this little group of friends at the fireside, which hushed their conversation and caused them to look at one another with apprehension. The noise was caused, simply, by two or three gentle knocks struck on the outer door of the house; but there was a ringing sound to them, which, to the experienced ears of those within the house indicated that the knocks did not come from the knuckles of a closed hand.

After a few moments of silence, the knocking was renewed, but more sharply than before, Benjamin Harvey then went forward an unbarred the door, whereupon it was pushed violently open, and five Indians, in full war-paint crossed the threshold. Glancing through the doorway, Mr. Harvey discovered that the house was surrounded by a number of armed men, which fact he immediately made known to his companions. Shortly afterwards the commander of the band, accompanied by two or three of his men, joined the savages within the doors, demanded food and drink for his party.

These marauders, it will be understood, where Lieutenant Turney and his detachment from Niagara, who, as soon as the shades of night had fallen upon Wyoming, had passed, as quietly and rapidly as possible, from their bivouac on top of Shawanese Mountain down into the valley.

Having satisfied their hunger and thirst without delay, they began to bind with cords the arms of the inmates of the house, who, in the meantime, had been informed by Lieutenant Turney that they must consider themselves prisoners of war. The marauders then set out for the mountain with their nine captives and with such booty as they could easily secure and carry. Arriving on top of the mountain, and out of danger of immediate pursuit, the party halted for consultation. After a while one of the Indians, who was past middle age, and was apparently a chief, led Lucy Harvey and Lucy Bullock aside from the other captives, and by the dim flickering light of a torch painted their faces in true Indian style. Then, unloosing the cords with bound the young women, he told them his name, and added: “Go, tell Colonel Butler I put on this paint!”

Parting from their relatives and friends, whom they never expected to see again, Lucy Harvey and Lucy Bullock made their way into the valley, through the gloomy forest and over the rough, snow-covered ground. Reaching the Plymouth highway they hastened in the direction of the Wilkes-Barre ferry, which they reached a short time before daylight. Awakening the ferrymen, they were rowed across the river by him, and arrived in a few minutes at Fort Wyoming.