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BY THOMAS R. WHITXEY.
or fifteen feet English soldwaal 11-30-40 42009 v.1-4 inlv. VOL. 1. NEW-YORK, JANUARY, 1851.
No. 1. THE FLOOD.
accomplished, a scene of desolation in nature, and of sorrow in the domestic circle.
These sudden inundations are caused by the waters which fall upon the vast and rapid slopes of the mountains during heavy rain storms, and concentrating rapidly as they descend into the ravines, convert the brooks into streams, the streams into rivers, and the rivers into lakes; sometimes causing a rise in the Ohio River of in a single day, and covering, for a short period, large tracts of that beautiful and fertile valley. Owing to the frequency of these floods, the people of that region usually take the precaution to select for their dwelling places and farms, elevated situations; but even then they are not entirely safe from danger,-for it has occasionally happened that the flood has surpassed, in its extent, all human calculation, and many a family who has retired to rest in fancied security at night, has found itself houseless and homeless on the morrow-the farm devastated-crops
destroyed, and cattle swept away. The THOSE who have never visited the western , following sketch will illustrate the hardships siope of the Alleghany Mountains, find it diffi- and sufferings that have been encountered by cult to realize the accounts that reach them those hardy pioneers who, in advance of the of the sudden floods which rise sometimes in a age in which they lived, made the mountains single night, and sweeping through the gorges vocal with civilization, and caused and valleys, bear irresistible destruction before
“ The wilderness to blossom like the rose.” them-uprooting trees,-bearing away from the scant farms the result of a season of toil, Let the reader take a retrospective glance, lifting dwellings from their foundations, and for a period of about thirty-five years, from leaving behind, almost as suddenly as it was this present anno domino 1850, and see in his
mind's eye the little frame-built cabin of Jared | dimensions had been erected for the use of the Hanford, lying cosily under the very branches family. No barn had yet been reared, because of a huge oak, within a rifle-shot of the Cone- lumber was not only scarce but expensive, and maugh River, in Armstrong County, Pennsyl- the few cattle that they had acquired were vania. This river empties into the Alleghany sheltered from the storms of winter by a hovel River a few miles from the site of the now which Jerry had himself erected, and the mathriving city of Pittsburgh. There you will terials of which were logs, branches of trees, see the spot on which Jerry, with his hearty and a thatch of dried grass. Taken all in all, young wife, and little Annie, their child, then their means of comfort had been greatly inabout four years old, made their first settle- creased, and the little family were comparament in the Great West, after having been tively happy. deprived by some legal chicanery, of the old In addition, also, to their immediate comhomestead in Connecticut, on which Jerry had forts, the deep and almost frightful solitude of been born, and from which his father, after the place had been somewhat softened by the fighting the battles of his country's indepen- proximity of three other families, who, like dence, and his mother, who first taught him to themselves, being driven by the hardships of pray, had been buried. The young couple civilization from the dense haunts of men, had were thoroughly learned in all matters pertain- cast their fortunes in the wilderness, detering to farming; and having braved a passage mined to rise with the rising greatness of a of the Alleghanies in a covered wagon, with new country, rather than live submerged belittle to boast of at the shrine of Mammon, neath the mature littleness of artificial exisbeyond their old vehicle, a span of horses, an tence. These families had all “squat” within economical sufficit of kettles and pans, a good, the range of a mile from the domicil of our but rather ancient, musket, which had been a friend Jerry Hanford, and as they had been trophy in the family of the Hanfords since the all mechanics, their talents were frequently battle of Bennington, and a brace of stout brought into use in doing little jobs for one hearts, they were fain to halt on the spot above another, from the mending of a broken ploughdescribed as one adapted to their then limited share even to the building of a shanty. A means of cultivating the soil. They had been carpenter's and a blacksmith's shop had been told that land was so plenty in the “ West” erected, and the “settlement” was getting that all a body had to do was to "squat,” as along snugly, and even prosperously. Two they called it, build them a house, and go right years had passed in the accomplishment of to work farming; and that, as the land belonged these small changes and improvements, when to nobody, nobody would trouble them about one afternoon, about the middle of September, title deeds, or writs of ejectment. They did Mrs. Hanford heard the whistle and voice of not, it is true, select the finest farming portion her husband in the field near the house. of the Great West but after the weary journey “Whe-wit-whe-wit—here Bose--here boy, of passing the mountains, they were fain to be here !" content with the first spot that indicated soil No response was heard to this earnest sumenough for a crop of grain, a hill of potatoes, mons. Bose, the dog, having little to do that and pasture for the cow, when they should get day, had gone on a hunt to the foot of the one--and there, in Armstrong County, Penn- mountain, in company with another of his own sylvania, they pitched their tent and reared race, who belonged to the neighboring blacktheir habitation. At that time, there was not smith. Hanford's voice and whistle was again another human creature resident within twen- heard, evidently not in the best humor with ty miles of their settlement—the wilderness the absentee. was primeval, and the wild beasts of the forest "Whe-wit-whe-wit;—here, boy-here! were their only companions.
Confound the dog !—he is never to be found Two years had gone by since their first when he's wanted. Here's a sou’-easter coming settlement, and some changes had taken place down from the mountain like all creation, both in the external aspect, and the social con- and the cows are, nobody knows where.dition of the squatters. Another member had Whe-wit - whe-wit;- here — here -- here;been added to the family, in the person of come, boy!" " little Robby," who was now nearly a year Be it known to the reader, that Bose was a old. The old log hut had been converted into personage of no small importance in the family a pig-sty, and a building of rather more ample of his master. He had his duties to perform
as well as others, and, he knew as well as any a corner of the cottage, and with a look of one, at what time the cows should be sought seeming supplication, laid himself down. The for in the woods, and brought in for milking. instinct of the brute taught him that there was This was one of his principal vocations, and he danger abroad, and his master partook so much very seldom failed to have them at the door, of the same feeling that the order was not retogether with the pigs, in due season. At this peated. By this time the thick, dark clouds had time, however, his hour had not arrived, but like completely overcast the earth, and shrouded his master, he had seen the indications of the the face of nature in a mantle of gloom, broapproaching storm, and was even then hasten- ken only by occasional flashes of lightning:ing homeward.
fierce gusts of wind swept howling by the cotOn hearing her husband's voice, Mrs. Han- tage--and in a few moments the hurricane in ford came to the door of the hut, and saw in all its fury burst upon them, in a deluge of the distance the fast approaching storm. Far rain—uprooting trees, and whirling their rifted as the eye could reach the lofty peaks and branches aloft into the very clouds. The cotridges of the Alleghanies were clad in the dense tage in which the family were gathered was mist as in a shroud, and with the rapidity of saved from instant destruction only through the winds the dark clouds were stretching the shelter afforded by a thick forest, lying a away over the valley. Though all was yet few rods east, which broke the force of wind; calm in their low retreat-the sound of the but the old oak over their heads swayed and rushing storm was distinctly heard, as it came bowed so low before the storm as to excite an pouring like a flood over the high summits, and apprehension that it would yield and crush through the gorges, and down the rough moun them in its fall.-Darkness came on, but with tain sides, in the direction of their dwelling. it came no cessation of the elemental strife. These indications were too well understood to
The eloquent storm, pouring its wild voices be neglected, but storms from the mountains
On the night, grand, sublime, and terrible, were not unusual occurrences, and, therefore, And the electric blazon of the clouds, created no serious apprehension. The skiff
And the vibrations of the affrighted earth,
As peak and vale answered ti e thunder-shock, which Hanford used on the river, was drawn upon the bank, to be out of the reach of the produced a combination of appalling grandeur, freshet that was expected as a matter of course, and contrasted strangely with the quiet scene at every rain; the horses were put under the within the cottage. From infancy to mature hovel, and such other precautions taken as age, Jared Hanford and his excellent wife had were necessary. Meanwhile, large fields of been taught to regard regular family worship fleecy scud, like winged pioneers, were passing as one of the paramount duties of life; and amid over in whirling eddies high above the cottage, all their vicissitudes and privations, they had and the sides of the distant mountains became never neglected to acknow edge, morning and obscured in the gathering mists. The groaning evening, their dependence upon their Creator ; of the forest, as the winds whirled through the to pour out before Him, the grateful emotions close branches and foliage, grew more and of their hearts for any blessing conferred, and more loud and near, resembling, to the unprac- to ask with humility, through the name of the ticed ear, the roar of a vast and ceaseless water- Mediator, a continuation of his blessings here, fall; and already, though scarce a leaf was and wisdom to prepare for a glorious immorstirred by the wind in their immediate vicin- tality hereafter. The usual hour of their deity, Hanford and his wife could see afar the votions had arrived, a chapter in the Holy lofty monarchs of the forest bowing and sway- Scripture had been read by the wife, and now ing their proud heads to the resistless blast. the deep, earnest, and manly voice of the husOur mountaineer gazed upon the fierce gather- band mingled in solemn prayer with the coning tumult of the elements with a contracted fused tumult of the elements. Though all brow, and the face of his wife became pallid without was at war, all within was at peace, with apprehension. They saw plainly that and although the hearts of the husband and no ordinary storm was approaching, and they wife may have beat quicker than usual at the awaited the onslaught with fear. At this imminence of the danger that surrounded them crisis, the truant dog came panting home, and as they knelt with little Annie between them, crouched exhausted at the feet of his master; at the family altar, yet their devotional exerand when ordered to perform his accustomed cise was not the result of impulse or immediate duts, instead of obeying, be slunk away into fear; it was the customary outpouring of a
sense of religious duty, the daily appeal of that in anticipation of his neighbour's distress, and little family, for divine interposition and pro- now came to offer his best efforts in their sertection.
vice. Hanford started for his skiff, and fortuThe family had scarcely risen from their at- nate it was that his attention had been called titude of prayer, when they heard, mingling to that direction, the water was already floodwith the howl of the storm, the sound of a ing up about the cottage, and nearly kneehuman voice. A loud and prolonged hallo, deep at the spot where the boat had been left , from some person near at hand, was clearly a few moments more and it would, doubtless, distinguished, and although there was nothing have been broken from its mooring, and carpeculiar in the voice itself, yet the sound at ried away by the swift-flowing current. It was that particular moment was startling. Han- plain, too, that the prediction of his neighbor ford and his wife paused an instant to listen, was likely to prove a truth, for the rain was and again the hallo was heard. Their first still pouring down, and Hanford well knew impression was that it came from some tra- that if the storm had been as severe in the veller, lost and benighted in the storm, seeking mountains as it was in their vicinity, the rise a shelter, and the first impulse was to receive, must continue for several hours after the rain and make him welcome. Hanford opened the
It was necessary, therefore, to take door of his hut and answered the hallo, while instant measures for the safety of his family, his wife brought the candle to the closed win- and such of his limited household effects as dow as a beacon to guide the steps of the could be taken care of. The first movement stranger. The rain still poured down in tor- was to “pole” the boat across a hollow, now rents, and by the occasional flashes of lightning filled with water, which ran like a river, to our friend saw that the whole earth seemed to the spot where the lad had been waiting, and have been converted into a lake; the waters bring him to the house. Hanford next went were on every hand.
to the hovel and detached the halters from the " Halloa! Hanford!” was now distinctly heads of the two horses, in order that they heard from a prominence about fifty yards might be free to take care of themselves in east of the house
case the flood should drive them from their “Hallo," again shouted Hanford, “Who are shelter, while his wife got the clothing toge
ther, and tied it up in bundles, ready for a "A neighbour,' was the reply, and then start. followed the enquiry, “Where's your boat ?" About nine o'clock, the force of the hurri
“ All handy,” answered Hanford, “I drew cane had passed away to the westward, and her up before the storm-she is here by the the deep-toned thunder was heard only in the ash tree."
distance, or in prolonged reverberations, as its “ Make haste aad get her then—the Cone- heavy sound came back in rumbling echoes maugh's over the lanks, and your house 'll be from the successive mountain peaks; but the flooded before you can say Jack Robinson.” rain continued to fall from the dense masses of
“But Joe, lad, what brings you here ?" in- clouds above, and the whole earth was shrouded. quired Hanford, as he' recognized the voice of in the very - blackness of darkness;" so that à neighbor's son, “ the storm's enough to not an object could be discerned at the disdrown such a stripling as you, without wait- tance of a single yard. This fixed and impeneing for the Conemaugh to run over."
trable solidity of darkness was, if possible, “Why, I come down to lend you a hand. more fearful than had been the storm itself, in Your land's so low, father said he was afraid its worst fury; for now the waters were gatheryou'd be washed away 'fore mornin', and as he ing around them, and the thought of being had to stay home and take care of our folks. I driven from shelter in a poor, frail skiff, on come to help you if you want it; I can't git such a night, and thus left to the mercy of the no furder though, without you bring the boat; winds and the flood, was truly terrible. “My it's too dark to swim this current.”
poor children,” exclaimed Mrs. Hanford, claspThis act of disinterested kindness, though ing them closely to her heart,—“God must be not uncommon among the pioneers of the west, your protection !" was touching to the heart of our cottager. The All, at length, were gathered in the hut, lad was not over sixteen years of age, yet he waiting with deep anxiety the result of the had risked his life, wading through the forest flood. There was no upper story to the builda distance of half a mile on that terrific night | ing to which the family could retire in case the