SUNBURY, Pa. — Sunbury Press has released John L. Moore’s Cannons, Cattle, and Campfires, the fifth of eight volumes in the Frontier Pennsylvania series.
About the Book:
Author John L. Moore serves up a miscellany of fascinating depictions of obscure but authentic people and situations in this non-fiction book about the Pennsylvania Frontier between 1743 and 1778.
We meet Sassoonan, an elderly Delaware Indian chief who lived at the Forks of the Susquehanna River. His position made him custodian of the tribal records, which consisted of belts of wampum. Wampum was also a form of currency, and Sassoonan regularly used this wampum to buy rum from the traders who brought it to town.
While visiting an Indian town on an island in the Susquehanna River, the Rev. David Brainerd held his Bible as he hid in the bushes, out of sight of the bonfire and the Native Americans who danced around it. The missionary believed that the Indians were attempting to summon Satan and, as he later wrote in his journal, he intended to “spoil their sport.”
It was January 1756 as General Benjamin Franklin led a column of infantry soldiers and mounted troops into the Blue Ridge Mountains north of Bethlehem and Easton to erect a series of log forts along strategic forest paths. Hostile Indians watched Franklin’s force as the men erected the stockade walls. Ever curious, Franklin himself used his watch to see how long it took two of his men to fell a pine tree.
Mary Jameson was a 15-year-old frontier farm girl when she helped her mother cook breakfast over the hearth in the family’s log house one cold morning in April 1758. The Jamesons don’t know it, but by lunchtime their cabin would be on fire, and all but two of the eight members of the Jameson family would be the prisoners of an Indian raiding party.
WHAT OTHERS SAY:
“Moore’s tales bear fascinating titles. Who could fail to be intrigued by “Camp Followers Displease Militia Chaplain,” or by “Benjamin Franklin Leads Militia Into Bethlehem,” or by “Chaplain’s Rum Draws Troops To Daily Worship”?
Some of the descriptions Moore takes from his original sources are fascinating, even 250 years later. For example, Benjamin Franklin observes: The Indians “dug holes in the ground about three feet in diameter, and somewhat deeper. … They had made small fires in the bottoms of the holes, and we observed among the weeds and grass the prints of their bodies, made by their laying all around, with their legs hanging down in the holes to keep their feet warm. … This kind of fire, so managed, could not discover them, either by its light, flame, sparks, or even smoke.” What an image!
One unusual tale is “Even Indians Become Lost, Hungry In Forest.” This is the chilling story of an Indian mother who, with her three children, was trapped in an early blizzard in 1739 on a mountain near present-day Lock Haven while traveling the Great Shamokin Path. The gruesome details were recorded by Moravian missionary John Heckewelder, and Moore passes them on to the reader without comment.
~ Thomas J. Brucia, Houston, Texas, bibliophile, outdoorsman and book reviewer
As winter approached in 1739, an Indian woman who lived west of the Allegheny wanted to visit relatives or friends. She decided that she and her three children would walk across the mountains to the Delaware Indian town at Big Island.
She failed to anticipate that winter would set in early and would bring much snow. She and the children had reached the West Branch, but were still far west of Big Island when she realized they couldn’t go on.
“She began with putting herself and her children on short allowances (of food) in hopes that the weather might become more moderate or the snow so hard that they could walk over it,” Heckewelder said.
“She strove to make her little store of provisions last as long as she could by using the grass which grew on the river’s edge,” he wrote. The woman also boiled the bark from certain types of trees in order to make them digestible.
But the snow kept falling, and soon it was six feet deep. She found as much wood as she could and built a campfire. If its flames kept her and the children from freezing to death, it also served as a weapon. There were “wolves hovering about night and day, often attempting to rush into her little encampment,” Heckewelder said. When they approached, she repelled them “by throwing out firebrands to them.”
The day came when all their food was gone, and “her situation at last became intolerable,” Heckewelder said.
Desperate, she decided to kill her youngest child and feed its flesh to its siblings “in order to preserve the others and herself from the most dreadful death,” Heckewelder wrote. She thought she could stave off starvation until the weather broke. But the wolves were also starving, and, “getting the scent of the slaughtered child, became more furious than ever before …”
The woman prayed to the Great Spirit for rescue, “but still the danger increased, the horrid food was almost exhausted, and no relief came,” Heckewelder said.
About the Author:
John L. Moore, a veteran newspaperman, said he employed a journalist’s eye for detail and ear for quotes in order to write about long-dead people in a lively way. He said his books are based on 18th and 19th century letters, journals, memoirs and transcripts of official proceedings such as interrogations, depositions and treaties.
The author is also a professional storyteller who specializes in dramatic episodes from Pennsylvania’s colonial history. Dressed in 18th century clothing, he does storytelling in the persona of “Susquehanna Jack,” a frontier ruffian. Moore is available weekdays, weekends and evenings for audiences and organizations of all types and sizes.
Moore’s 45-year career in journalism included stints as a reporter for The Wall Street Journal; as a Harrisburg-based legislative correspondent for Ottaway News Service; as managing editor of The Sentinel at Lewistown; as editorial page editor and managing editor at The Daily Item in Sunbury; and as editor of the Eastern Pennsylvania Business Journal in Bethlehem.
Cannons, Cattle, and Campfires
Authored by John L. Moore
List Price: $9.99
5″ x 8″ (12.7 x 20.32 cm)
Black & White on Cream paper
Sunbury Press, Inc.
BISAC: History / United States / State & Local / Middle Atlantic
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Cover artwork by Andrew Knez, Jr. For more information about Andrew’s work, please see:http://www.andrewknezjr.com/