Cumberland And Lebanon Valleys
( Originally Published 1900 )
Harrisburg stands in the centre of the great Appalachian Valley, where it is bisected by the broad Susquehanna. To the southwest it stretches away to the Potomac as the Cumberland Valley, and to the northeast it spreads across to the Schuylkill as the fertile Lebanon Valley. The high mountain wall of the Kittatinny bounds it on the northwest, with all the rivers, as heretofore described, breaking out through various " gaps." In the Colonial days, when Indian forays were frequent, the Province of Pennsylvania defended the entrances to this fertile valley by a chain of frontier forts located at these gaps, with attendant block-houses, each post garrisoned by from twenty to eighty Provincial soldiers, as its importance demanded. Benjamin Franklin, who was then commissioned as a Colonel, was prominent in the advocacy of these frontier defences, and he personally organized the settlers and arranged the garrisons. Fort Hyndshaw began the chain on the Delaware, there were other forts on the Lehigh and Schuylkill, and Fort Henry located on the Swatara, now Lebanon, while just above Harrisburg was Fort Hunter, commanding the passage of the Susquehanna through the Dauphin Gap.
Over in the Cumberland Valley, about nineteen miles from Harrisburg, is Carlisle, a town of some nine thousand people, in a rich country, and the chief settlement of that valley. Here is located in what were formerly the army barracks, coming down from the time when this was a frontier post, the Government Indian Training School, where about eight hundred Indian boys and girls are instructed, being, brought from the far western tribes to be taught the arts and methods of civilization. These Indian children are numerous in the streets and on the railway trains, with their straight hair, round swarthy faces and high cheek bones, and show the surprising influence of a civilizing education in humanizing their features and modifying their nomadic traits. They have quite a noted military organization and band at the School. Dickinson College, a foundation of the Methodist Church, is at Carlisle, having begun its work in 1783, when it was named after John Dickinson, then the President of Pennsylvania, who took great interest in it and made valuable gifts. Among its graduates were President James Buchanan and Chief Justice Roger B. Taney. Carlisle was President Washington's headquarters in 1794, during the " Whisky Insurrection" in West-ern Pennsylvania. After the United States Govern-ment got fairly started, the Congress in 1791 imposed a tax of seven cents per gallon on whisky. This made a great disturbance among the frontier settlers of Pennsylvania, who were largely Scotch-Irish, the population west of the Kittatinny to the Ohio River being then estimated at seventy thou-sand. They had no market for their grain, but they made it into whisky, which found ready sale. A horse could carry two kegs of eight gallons each on the bridle paths across the mountains, and it was worth a dollar a gallon in the east. Returning, the horse-back load was usually iron worth sixteen cents a pound, or salt at five dollars a bushel. Every farmer had a still, and the whisky thus became practically the money of the people on account of its purchasing value. Opposition to the tax began in riots. A crowd of " Whisky boys" from Bedford came into Carlisle and burnt the Chief Justice in effigy, setting up a liberty pole with the words "Liberty and No Excise on Whisky." President Washington called for troops to enforce the law, and this angered them. One John Holcroft, a ready writer, appeared, and wrote sharp articles against the law and the army, over the signature of " Tom the Tinker." These were printed in hand-bills, and the historian says "half the trees in Western Pennsylvania were whitened with Tom the Tinker's notices." _Officials sent to collect the tax were roughly treated, farmers who paid it were beaten by masked men, and one man who rented his house to a tax collector was captured at midnight by a crowd of disguised vigilants, who carried him into the woods, sheared his hair, tarred, feathered and tied him to a tree.
Soon there were gathered at Carlisle an army of thirteen thousand men from Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland and Virginia, under Governor Henry Lee of -Virginia. President Washington and Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton came to Carlisle, and accompanied the troops, in October, 1794, on their march across the mountains to Bed-ford. The Governors of New Jersey and Pennsylvania led the troops of their respective States, and in the army were many Revolutionary veterans. As they advanced they found Tom the Tinker's notices on the trees, of which the following is a specimen :
"Brethren, you must not think to frighten us with fine arranged bits of infantry, cavalry and artillery, composed of your watermelon armies taken from the Jersey shores. They would cut a much better figure in warring with crabs and oysters about the banks of the Delaware. It is a common thing for Indians to fight your best armies in the proportion of one to five; therefore we would not hesitate to attack this army at the rate of one to ten."
The soldiers riddled these notices with bullets and pressed on, hunting for " Tom Tinker's men," as the insurgents came to be called. But they never seemed able to find them. All the people seen told how they were forced by threats, and when asked where the persons were who threatened them, replied, " Oh, they have run off." The army finally reached Pitts-burg, the people submitted to the law and paid the tax, the insurrection was suppressed, and the army returned and was disbanded. The whisky excise was peacefully collected afterwards until the tax was repealed.
In the Lebanon Valley east of Harrisburg are important iron furnaces, and here are the " Cornwall Ore Banks," which is one of the greatest iron-ore deposits in the worldóless rich than some others, possibly, but having a practically exhaustless supply almost alongside these furnaces. There are three hills of solid iron ore, one of them having been worked long before the Revolution, the original furnace, still existing, dating from 1742. This great Cornwall iron mine was bought in 1737 for $675, including a large tract of land. A half-century later $42,500 was paid for a one-sixth interest, and to-day a one-forty-eighth interest is estimated worth up-wards of $500,000. These ores have some sulphur in them, and are therefore baked in ovens to remove it. They yield about 50 per cent. of iron. A geologist some time ago reported upon the ore banks that there were thirty millions of tons of ore in sight above the water-level, being over three times the amount taken out since the workings began in the eighteenth century. The deposits extend to a depth of several hundred feet under the surface, thus in-definitely multiplying the prospective yield.