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Subject: Settlement of Western PA: Massey Harbison's Account Part I
From: Linda Merle <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:CELTIC-L - The Celtic Culture List.
Date:Mon, 18 Dec 1995 17:19:04 -0800

text/plain (106 lines)

Massy Harbison was an early Western Pennsylvanian settler. After her
capture by the indians, she authored a book: Flood Tides Along the
Allegheny,  of her experiences and of the settlement of this
area. It is one of the few contemporary accounts we have of the
life of early Scots-Irish and Irish settlers. This book has been
re-printed by the Massy Harbison Chapter of the DAR (Daughters of
the American Revolution), New Kensingon, PA.
Her account of the history of what is now Butler, Westmoreland,
and Allegheny Counties is hardly impartial or objective. How
could she be? She was a Celt. Nonetheless, it is interesting
and amusing. She herself married  John Harbison
from County Monaghan. He was descended from a Scotsman of
Selkirkshire who married a Carson of Shanroe, Ireland, whose
son inherited the Carson lands in Monaghan. They held this land
in Ireland through the fifteen century.
If parts of this offend you, just wait, in the end everyone is
praised in biblic style.
"The racial characteristic of the people of western Pennsylvania
has been described as a bit of Ulster acclimated to the frontier
lands. " p 90.
"The Genesis of the Scotch-Irish race lay in the reign of James I
of England. The turbulent Earls of Tyrone and Tyrconnel, semi-
barbaric chieftains, claimed dominion over the north of Ireland.
Their lands were wild ranges of fertile soil upon which their
feudal followers eked out a meager existence. James outlawed
them, confiscated their lands, and in order to strengthen his
power in Ireland, allotted it to his various favorites and the
crown and opened it for settlement to the English and his loyal
Scots. Few English yeoman accepted, but the Scots were ready for such
an adventure. Ulster is rooted in Scotland and in the spirit of
the race whose progenitors said to the Pope in 1320 that they
would be liegemen of Bruce only so long as he resisted England.
"'As long as one hundred Scots are left alive, they would continue
the war for freedom which no man loses save with his life.' Here on
this sterile, rocky land a race had been developing which verily
had been absorbing the granite of the motherland into their
bones. The race multiplied and the economic pressure for food and
for land on which to feed the multiplying generation had caused them
to cast longing eyes on the emerald fields of Ireland. In the settle-
ment of eight hundred thousand confiscated acres the Scots prevailed.
They and the native Irish remained distinct and antagonistic, but, in
the migrations, the males exceeded the females and gradually the Scots'
took to themselves wives from the native race; took them from the
native hovels and native church; and from them bred a new race poss-
essed of the Scotch tenacity and obdurancy, with the Irish plasticity,
buoyancy, brightness, and love of life and venture. They, in that land,
were an aristocratic race which had been enabled by superior civil-
ization, by close union, eternal vigilance, and intrepid courage to
keep in subjection a numerous and hostile population. Such men in all
ages have developed outstanding vices and equally conspicuous virtues.
...They made the land now called Ulster blossom like the rose and on
its shores built factories and established trades that aroused the
envy of the English cities across the channel. Their landlords in
England looked upon them and lusted for the fruits of their toil
and leased the lands they had reclaimed and improved to the native
Irish and alien newcomers. Famine fell upon the land. The Anglican
rulers ordered their conformation with the established church,
forbade their gathering in the churches built with their hands,
and by these exactions alienated the loyalty of the men who had saved
Ulster for the English Crown at Londonderry and Enniskillen and
drove from the land saved by their courage the unquenchable
spirits who gave America a multitude of national figures, and a
spirit which gave freedom to the land and shaped its government
and institutions for a century....
"The exodus of this people commenced about the beginning of the
eighteenth century. They went forth rebellious against the
intolerance of the Anglican Church with a Calvinistic intolerance
not inferior, and against the absentee landlordism which had
sought to exact from them the fruits of their labors.  They streamed
through the gateway of Philedelphia, a mighty army of over ten thousand
a year until the Revolution. Landing at Philedelphia, or at New
Castle, they moved westward, going up the old roads, going down the
valley of the Cumberland, up the vlley of the Juniata, and clear
across the mountains, reaching the headwaters of the Ohio, and
centering in Old Westmoreland for their next advance against the
Indian lands beyond. When the Whites [Massy] migrated across the
mountains, the Ulstermen had already stamped upon the country
their texts, their creeds, and the modes and manners of their living.
They had arrived at their racial home in America. Much of it lay,
like the promised land at Moses' feet viewed from Mount Pisgah,
across the rivers, the Monongahela, the Ohio, and the Allegheny,
where the Indian still ruled supreme.
"They sought homes. The land of the Penns stretched around them in
every direction, and, beyond, the Indians claimed the land.  They
appropriated Penn's lands, and, when assailed and ordered to pay or
move on, answered, 'It is against the law of God and nature that so
much land should be idle while so many Christians want it to labor
on and to raise their bread.' The ownership of the Penns crumbled
before their irresistible advance.....
"Here they entered into an unceasing battle against wild nature
and the wilder Indian. They entered into the struggle of the
Revolution with an inbred hatred toward the English. They fought
the hirelings of the English king. They fought so well that on
them Washington leaned, and of them he had said that if the worse
came, he could retire to the mountains and fight it out with his
faithful Scotch-Irish." pp 15-17
next: their language and the coming of the Donegal Irish

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