Standing Stone And Sinking Spring
( Originally Published 1900 )
Westward beyond the valley rises the next ridge pierced by the Juniata in its outflow, Jack's Mountain, and its gorge is known as " Jack's Narrows." Here penetrated Captain Jack Armstrong in the early colonial days, a hunter and Indian trader, whose cabin was burnt and wife and children massacred, making him always afterwards an avenging Nemesis, roving along the Juniata Valley and killing Indians indiscriminately. Jack's Narrows is a pass even more contracted than that below Lewistown, and a profusion of shingle and broken stone covers its mountain sides, the deranged limestone strata in places standing almost upright. Mount Union is in the valley east of this pass, and beyond it is the chief town of the Juniata, Huntingdon, which has about eight thousand people. This was the oldest settlement on the river, ninety-seven miles west of Harrisburg, the ancient " Standing Stone," where the Indians of the valley for centuries met to hold their councils. The earliest white settlers came in 1754. The original Standing Stone of Huntingdon, erected by the Indians, was a granite column, about fourteen feet high and six inches square, covered with strange characters, which were the sacred records of the Oneidas. Once the Tuscaroras stole it, but the Oneidas followed, and, fighting for their sacred treasure, recaptured it. When the whites came along, the Oneidas, who had joined the French, went west, carrying the stone with them. Afterwards, a second stone, much like the first, was set up, and a fragment of it is now preserved at Huntingdon. Here was built a large fort anterior to the Revolution, which was a refuge for the frontier settlers. The " Standing Stone " is engraved as an appropriate symbol on the city seal of Huntingdon, being surrounded y a representation of mountains, and the name of " Oneida" (the granite) is preserved in a township across the river. Selina, the Countess of Huntingdon, who was a benefactor of the University of Pennsylvania, had her titled name given the city. The then University Provost, Dr. William Smith, became owner of the town site, and thus remembered her generosity. About fifty miles southwest of Huntingdon, amid the mountains, is Bedford, noted for its chalybeate and sulphur springs, discovered in 1804, which have long been a favorite resort of Pennsylvanians on account of their healing waters. The whole country thereabout is filled with semi-bituminous coal measures, furnishing a lucrative traffic.
Diminishing in volume, our attractive Juniata flows through a rough country above Huntingdon, after threading the pass in the lofty Warrior Ridge. Extending off to the southwestward is Morrison's Cove, a rich valley under the shadow of the long mountain ridge, which was settled in 1755 by the Dunkards. These singular people, among whose cardinal doctrines are peace and non-resistance, were at-tacked y the Indians in 1777, who entered the valley and almost exterminated the settlement. Most of them bowed submissively to the stroke of death, gently saying " Gottes wille sei gethan " (God's will be done). One, however, resisted, killed two Indians and escaped; but afterwards returning, the Dmnkard Church tried him for this breach of faith, and he was excommunicated. In this region is the Sinking Spring, a strange water course originally appearing in a limestone cave, where it comes out of an arched opening, with sufficient water to turn a large mill ; but it soon disappears underground, the concealed current being heard through fissures, bubbling far below. Then it returns to the surface, flowing some distance, enters another cave, passing under Cave Mountain, and finally reappears and falls into the Juniata, making, in its peculiar waywardness, as remarkable a stream as can anywhere be found. Here our famous Juniata River, dwindled to a little creek, comes down the mountain side, and we penetrate farther by following up the Little Juniata. It has brought us, through the great ridges, into the heart of the Appalachian region, to the eastern base of the main Allegheny Mountain, on the flanks of which are its sources. It has displayed to us a noted valley, full of the story of early Colonial contests, massacres and perils, the scenes of the fearless missionary labors of Brainerd the Puritan and Loskiel the Moravian. Brainerd recognized the pagan idolatry of the Indians, and did not hesitate to take the Bible to their solemn religious festivals and expound its divine principles, to spoil the incantations and frustrate the charms of their medicine men. Once a Nanticoke pontiff got into a hot argument with Brainerd, saying God had taught him religion and he would never turn from it ; that he would not believe in the Devil ; and he added that the souls of the dead passed to the South, where, the good lived in a fair city, while the evil hovered forever in outer darkness. Many are the romances of the attractive Juniata :
"Gay was the mountain song