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The End Of One Journey, The Start Of A New One!

This is the post excerpt.

This is the very first blog of our new journey through life.  We have just finished selling Leu Cat, our Lagoon 44 Catamaran sailboat which we spent 10 years sailing around the world, and have bought a Tiffin Allegro Bus to explore North America.  We are very excited to begin this new journey and look forward to sharing it with you.

Before we begin, we wish to share with you some very sad news.  The new owners of Leu Cat, Susan and Doug, have just emailed us to say that Leu Cat is no more.  We sold Leu Cat on August 30th and she was anchored in the lagoon at Sint Maarten.  Unfortunately, the massive hurricane called Irma swept over Sint Maarten just a few days later and destroyed much of the island and hundreds of boats, including Leu Cat.  Here is the message that we received from Susan and Doug:

“It is my sad task to tell you that Leu Cat is a total loss from Hurricane Irma. According to the last AIS transmission, she ended up against the Skipjack Restaurant on Welfare Road at the short bridge to Snoopy Island at 5:05 am on Wednesday, Sept. 6. That was almost immediately after the hurricane hit St. Maarten. With that information, Ian found her at that location today under a pile of wrecked boats with only the flags on the forward hulls visible to identify her. She is in small pieces as she was blown through the causeway bridge. We are saddened also to know that he lost his Leopard catamaran (which was a business in addition to his surveying) as well.”

We were so saddened to hear this tragic news.  Susan and Doug are such nice people and this is the last thing we would want for them.  Fortunately, they did purchase hurricane insurance so they should recoup much of their loss.  Also, we are saddened because Leu Cat was such a wonderful home, sailboat and companion to us as we sailed around the world.  If you are interested in sharing the adventure we had with her, you can go go to our blog site by Click here to go to our sailing adventure blog site

In the days to come, we will be sharing with you our new adventures as we start our exploration of North America in our new home.  We have yet to name her and are open to any suggestions that you may have.  We will post photos of her in the next few days as the dust settles from our outfitting her.  She is a beauty!

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           Year 2 Day 170 Tracking Down The History of The Bulltown Massacre; Part 2

 

Yesterday’s blog focused on the history of Captain Bull and what led he to led his family and followers to set up their small village in a creek that runs in the Little K River, and what became known as Bulltown.  Today’s blog continues with the 1940 report that I found which dives into whether the massacre of Captain Bull and his tribe actually happened. It analyses another story of who may have committed the massacre and then rebukes that story.  The conclusion that I walk away with after digesting this report and a few other documents that I was able to dig up is that most historians do not believe that the massacre ever happened.  I stumbled over a photo of this historic marker, posted by the State of West Virginia, which also cast doubt on it having occurred.

STROUD FAMILY MASSACRE Historic Marker

Here is the continuation of the Bulltown report from where I left off in yesterday’s blog:

 

BULLTOWN

 

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By

Don Norman

 

In other areas of the trans-Allegheny territory, Indian raids were committed with ever increasing frequency and by 1772 the threat of an Indian war occupied all minds.  Tension between the western settlers and the Indians became constantly greater.  The pioneers desired a final settlement and when they began laying plans for forcing the issue, war was assured.

 

Stories that the Indians at Bulltown were massacred by whites have appeared in a number of books, papers and journals and the following story from the WPA Writers Project can be accepted as typical.

 

STROUD FAMILY MASSACRED

“Shortly after the 1768 treaty with the Indians, Adam Stroud, a German, and his family, settled on what is now Stroud’s Creek, near its junction with the Gauley River in what is now Webster County.  Here he erected a crude log cabin and in the course of time cleared some land and planted crops.  For four years he and his family enjoyed the freedom of the frontier unmolested.  Then, in the month of June 1772, while Stroud was absent from his home, a party of Indian warriors, supposed to have been of the Shawnee tribe, murdered the entire German family of seven children and the mother.  They also plundered the house and drove off what livestock the Strouds possessed.”

 

“Because the Shawnees, who were guilty of the Stroud massacre, left a false trail leading in the general direction of the Delaware village, suspicion at once fell upon Captain Bull and his warriors; even Stroud himself expressed the belief that the Bulltown Indians were responsible for the massacre.  When he arrived home that June day and found his entire family murdered, Stroud sped to the Hacker’s Creek settlement in Lewis County and spread the alarm.”

“An immediate cry went up to avenge the deed at once.  Many, however, doubted that Bull or any of his band had any part in the killing. They held back because on frequent visits to the Little Kanawha village they had found the leader of the Bulltown Indians very friendly and were slow in being convinced of his guilt.”

 

“Five men, Jesse Hughes, William White, John Cutright, William Hacker and a man by the name of Kettle, who would believe nothing but that the Bulltown Indians were guilty announced their intention of proceeding against the Little Kanawha village. Jesse Hughes, like Lewis Wetzel, had a great hatred for the Indians — whether friendly or not, and nothing delighted him more than an opportunity to kill a redskin.  It is therefore possible that Hughes, because of his feeling towards the Indians, and because he lived only a short distance from their settlement, instigated the action against Captain Bull’s people.”

 

“Hughes and his party went to Bulltown, and returned a day or two later.  They denied having as much as seen an Indian, telling the Hacker’s Creek settlers that Bull and his people had left the country.

 

“What really did occur at the Indian village was not disclosed until several years later.  On his death bed in 1852 when 105 years old, John Cutright told the true story of the disappearance of Captain Bull and his fellow Delawares.”

 

“Cutright said that as Jesse Hughes and the four other men left the Hacker’s Creek settlement, and made their way toward the Bulltown colony, they became more and more embittered against the Indians. Hughes, it appears, goaded the men on, and planned the best way to attack the Indian village.  With his usual cunning, Hughes planned to take the Indians completely by surprise.”  “He succeeded, and falling upon the Delawares before they were aware that and danger was near, the Hughes party killed every member of the Indian settlement, men, women, and children alike.  Realizing the extent of their malefaction, the men, fearful of possible unpleasant consequences when their deed became known, removed the last evidence of their crime by throwing the bodies of the Indians into the Little Kanawha River. Thus ended the career of the notorious Delaware chieftain whose name will not be forgotten so long as Bulltown exists.”

 

This massacre was first reported in A.S. Withers’ “Chronicles of Border Warfare”, published in 1831.  Withers was not certain that the story was true and gave the names of only two of the alleged assassin, William White and William Hacker.  He further explained that White and Hacker had planned to go to Bulltown to see if they could find evidence that the Delawares had participated in the Stroud massacre.  The two men were reported to have returned to Hacker’s Creek and reported that the entire Bulltown village was vacant.  The men were alleged to have inadvertently said something in following years that indicated that they were guilty of the massacre.

L.V. McWhorter, in a footnote to the Withers story, added the death bed confession story and the names of Jesse Hughes and John Cutright.  The name Kettle is from an unknown source.  Other manuscripts substitute Adam Stroud for Kettle.

 

Although these accounts have been accepted as fact for many years, other authors doubt its truth. An anonymous writer of an article in “Awhile Ago Times”, reprinted in “The Hacker’s Creek Journal” states that Chief Bull and his Delawares were moved from Bulltown by the Indian Affairs Commissioner in May 1772 and references a number of documents proving that the Delawares moved south to the lower Mississippi, where Chief Bull died after 1810.

 

Robert B. Smith states that in 1772, Captain Bull and his people moved to the White River in Indiana, about eighteen miles from present day Wabash.  In 1778, after the capture of English General Hamilton, they removed to the Mississippi.  Smith cites Simon Kenton’s “Notes”, Draper’s “Manuscripts” and private documents is support of his statements.

 

According to Smith, traditional Hacker history states that Withers “stole” the manuscript for “Chronicles of Border Warfare” from William Hacker.  The fact that William Powers and William Hacker advertised the sale of a forthcoming “History” in a Morgantown newspaper lends credence to the story.  The book was to be published in 1825, if sufficient subscriptions were obtained.

 

The “Hacker’s Creek Journal” Vol.10 Issue 2, p.23, states that Withers was hired by Clarksburg, VA (WV) publisher Joseph Israel to rewrite chronicles by Hacker and Powers that “… are said to have been published in the 1820’s by a newspaper in Morgantown.”

 

If these things are not enough, let us examine the stories rationally.  Withers was writing 59 years after the event and was not sure that the story was true.  McWhorter was writing more than a hundred years after the event.  The alleged “deathbed confession” of John Cutright was supposed to have occurred in 1852, 80 years after the event, and more than 20 years before McWhorter’s writing.  Any deathbed statement of a person 105 years old probably owes more to the questions and perceptions of the hearer than of the dying person.  And any verbal report of such a confession 20 years in the past is highly suspect.

 

A history of the Hughes Family, published in “The Hacker’s Creek Journal”, states:

 

“In 1786, a party of Indians murdered Jesse’s father, Thomas Hughes and in 1787, another party of Indians led by the white renegade, Leonard Schoolcraft, captured Jesse’s daughter. Although Jesse was able to purchase his daughter’s freedom the following year, the two incidents turned Jesse and his brother Elias into implacable enemies of the Indians.”

 

Note that Jesse and his brother were not turned into “implacable enemies of the Indians” until four years after the Bulltown massacre is alleged to have occurred.

 

Killing more than forty persons and throwing them in a river would be quite a warm day’s work for five men, even if the victims were totally passive.  Considering that the Indians were experienced warriors, albeit somewhat out of practice, and given the rather primitive weapons of the period, the slaughter of so many by so few seems highly unlikely, if not impossible.

 

The Little Kanawha River at Bulltown is a rather small and shallow affair and throwing a hundred bodies in such a river in June is not quite the same as throwing a handful of pebbles in the Mississippi at Memphis.  It is doubtful that a hundred bodies could be thrown in such a river by five men in “a day or two”, the time frame from the WPA paper, in such a manner that they would not be visible.  And even if the bodies were sunk in the river, they would not stay sunk.  The writer of this sketch has participated in several body recovery operations and has ample experience to know that bodies sunk in a shallow river in warm weather usually surface within 48 hours.

 

If the Bulltown massacre did occur as alleged, someone should have commented to some author or other about the disproportinate number of dead Indians in the Little Kanawha at a specific period.

 

The WPA paper mentions the coming of John and Benjamin Conrad to Bulltown in 1800 and mentions that Adam O’Brien blazed a trail from Sutton to Bulltown in 1792 and says that “many ‘squatters’ came to the Bulltown Country before the Conrad brothers, but only for the purpose of hunting and obtaining salt from the springs.”

 

From these statements, we must conclude that the village site was regularly visited in the years following the alleged massacre, but there have been no reports of bones and other traces that one would expect to find on the site of such a massacre.

 

The writer of the “Awhile Ago Times”, article terms the entire story “A Ridiculous Tale.”   Perhaps Smith’s statement describes such a situation best:

 

“If these five men could attack Bulltown, where sixteen warriors were fortified in twenty cabins and they being in the open and fighting behind trees, the Squaws were no doubt loading weapons for the warriors and they all being aware of the approach of the white men, it would be a feat unheard of and unsurpassed in all history of the frontier, to believe that they could kill all sixteen of the warriors, the fifteen squaws and eight children, dump their bodies in the Little Kanawha River and never suffer wound or casualty themselves.  This unbelievable and much too much to comprehend.”

 

 

 

Year 2 Day 169 Tracking Down The History of The Bulltown Massacre; Part 1

 

Today, I went over to the historical area of our campground where the US Corp of Engineers has built a little museum and history center. As it turns out, prior to damming the Little Kanawha River (a tributary to the Ohio River), forming Burnsville Lake in 1976, they discovered a number of historical buildings. They decided to save these relics of the past by disassembling them and moving them to this spot. This is also where Moses Carpenter built his family house and farm in the first half of the 1800s.

 

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Thus, along with the museum and historical center, you have the original Carpenter house, many of his outbuildings, and two 1800s log cabins.

 

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Besides all of the above, there is also the site of the 1863 Battle of Bulltown, where “Mudwall” Jackson, the cousin of Stonewall Jackson, fought a Union fortification that controlled this area. I will write about that battle in a future blog.

 
Todays’ blog is about what I learned of the Bulltown Massacre, where a friendly tribe of Delaware Indians were allegedly murdered out of revenge for another massacre the Indians were accused of committing near what is now Centralia, West Virginia, near the Braxton-Webster county line to the north.

 
As you will learn, according to local lore, which has been handed down from generation to generation, in 1772, the Indian chief, Captain Bull, with his family and about 20 or so other friendly Delaware Indians were supposedly massacred by frontiersmen. The lore states that Jeremiah Carpenter, whose family members were killed by Shawnee Indians, led the alleged massacre. It is told that the Shawnee created a false trail which led Jeremiah Carpenter to Captain Bull and his tribe. He mistakenly thought these were the Indians that murdered his family.

 
Before I get into what I discovered about this very interesting story, I wish to note that Jeremiah Carpenter was a remarkable fiddle player who wrote the tune “Shelvin’ Rock”. The tune is about the experience of escaping from Indians to a rock shelter where he hid with his Indian wife. She gave birth to their son. Solomon, under that ledge. You can read more about the Carpenters and their generations of remarkable West Virginian fiddlers by going to: CLICK HERE and you can listen to the tune “Shelvin Rock” by going to: CLICK HERE

 
While I was at the historical center, a US Corp Of Engineers volunteer gave me a personalized tour of the historical buildings and the Civil War battlefield. It lasted almost 3 hours. Along the way, we stopped in a clearing in the woods along creek that runs into the Little Kanawha River where the Bulltown Massacre allegedly occurred and he presented me with a detailed description of its history as if it was fact.

 

As I later discovered, the story is actually based on lore that was been passed down and modified through generations. The story he shared with me was so remarkable that I decided to research it further when I returned to LeuC.

 

What I learned contradicts the story of the massacre that I was told. In fact, it supports the position that the Bulltown Massacre never occurred. Instead, it appears that Captain Bull and his followers moved on and left the area safely. Furthermore, it appears that the massacre of settlers which occurred up near Centralia, did occur but it happened years later, closer to the 1790s instead of in the 1770s. In fact, Jeremiah’s brother, Benjamin, who was killed in that raid, actually fought in the Revolutionary War.

I found a report entitled: “History of Braxton County and central West Virginia”, dated 1919 which states:

“Of this interesting pioneer family, more than a passing notice should be given. As early as 1790 or perhaps a year or two earlier, Jeremiah and Benjamin Carpenter settled on the Elk river near the mouth of the Holly. Their mother and a brother named Enos lived with them. Jeremiah settled on what is known as the Samuel Skidmore bottom, and Benjamin’s cabin stood in the “bottom just below the mouth of the Holly. Their father’s name was “William and was killed at the Big Bend on Jacksons’ river by the Indians, and his son Jeremiah was taken prisoner and remained with the Indians from his ninth to his eighteenth year. He together with three of his brothers, afterward became soldiers in the Revolutionary army.

Their settlement must have been but a few years prior to 1792 as this is the date of the Indian raid in which his brother Benjamin and his wife were killed; and either at this time or perhaps a raid that was made a few months later, he and his family made their escape to a cliff of rocks, and within their stay there his son, Solomon was born, being the first white child born in the county.”

 

The following is a modified version of a 1940 article I found on the Internet. It is the most comprehensive history and analysis of Captain Bull and The Bulltown Massacre that I have found. Instead of writing about this bit of interesting history, I have revised the original text a bit and shortened it considerably. It is posted below. If you are interested in reading the original text, you can go to: CLICK HERE

 

Please note that West Virginia did not become a State until it ceded from Virginia during the Civil War. It was granted statehood by the Union in 1863, the same year that Nevada became a State. Until then, and during the time of Captain Bull, it was just part of western Virginia.

 

Also, note that because this text is so long, today’s portion of it is just on the background of Captain Bull and that period of time which led up to the alleged massacre. The rest of the text concerning the alleged massacre will continue tomorrow.

BULLTOWN

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By

Don Norman

Captain Bull, the Delaware chief whose name is perpetuated in Bulltown on the Little Kanawha river in Braxton County, WV, came to the hills of northwest Virginia as an exile from his homeland on the upper Susquehanna in New York State. In 1764, when he led his twenty relatives to the site of the present town, he was fleeing the wrath of the English Indian Commissioner, Sir William Johnson, who had become incensed against the Delaware after discovering Captain Bull’s role in the Pontiac conspiracy (see below).
Johnson had organized a band of English settlers and friendly Indians and in March of 1764 this group captured Bull and a number of his adherents. Bull was led in irons to New York City. After a short imprisonment, however, he had been released on his promise to leave the territory.
Captain Bull was the son of Teddyuscung, the last chieftain of the Delaware tribe. Teddyuscung, born at Trenton, New Jersey about 1705, had been chosen Chief of the Delawares at about 50 years of age. He was once baptized by the Moravians as brother Gideon and was an Indian advocate of peace. However, after General Braddock was defeated during the French and Indian Wars, Teddyuscung became an enemy of white settlers. He was burned to death on the night of April 16, 1764, when enemy Indians, either Seneca or Mohawk, set fire to his lodge in the Indian village at Wyoming, New York while he lay drunk.
After his father’s death, Captain Bull led a band of dissatisfied Delaware braves into the hostile camp of Chief Pontiac. He then led a series of raids on settlers which finally led to his arrest. His arrest and exile prevented him from becoming the Great Chief of the Delaware.
PONTIAC’S CONSPIRACY
At the time of the Conspiracy, small English garrisons occupied the forts along the shores of the Great Lakes and in the territory drained by the Ohio River and its tributaries, and the French held posts on the Wabash and Mississippi Rivers and had a considerable settlement at New Orleans. Discontent moldered amongst the Indians, since most of the Indians preferred the more casual French to the English, believing that the English would drive them from their hunting grounds and treat them with neglect and injustice.
French traders from St. Louis and Montreal worked on their fears and fomented disaffection and the result was an uprising under the leadership of Pontiac, Chief of the Ottawa warriors, who was determined to restore the supremacy that the French and Indians had enjoyed before the fall of Quebec and DeVaudreuvil’s capitulation at Montreal.
In 1763, Sir William Johnson estimated that Pontiac’s forces were not more than ten thousand warriors from the Delaware, Iroquois, Shawnee, Guyandotte, Miami, Kickapoo, Ottawa and Ojibwa tribes. Captain Bull led about 600 Delawares who were included in Pontiac’s plan and Bull was as deeply involved in the scheme as any other participant.
Eagle’s “History of Pennsylvania”, “The Pennsylvania Gazette”, “Frontier Forts of Pennsylvania” and Miner’s “History of Wyoming Valley” give details of two marauding raids of Captain Bull’s followers. On October 8, 1763, the Delawares burned farms and houses and killed at least 23 people, men, women and children, and wounded many more. On another raid in the Wyoming Valley on October 15, 1763, the Delawares killed at least twenty people and destroyed many houses.
Early in 1764, Andrew Montour led a force of about 200 Iroquois and a few whites against a Delaware raiding party on the upper Susquehanna in Steuben County New York. Twenty-nine prisoners were captured, including Captain Bull. A 1764 letter from Commissioner William Johnson to Thomas Gage relates the story of Bull’s capture and imprisonment and comments on his character and activities.

“Dear Sir:
I have the pleasure to acquaint you that the prisoners arrived here on the 15 of March & were yesterday sent down under a Guard of a Capt. and 50 Provincials to Albany….The number of prisoners I have sent to Coll Elliot are 14 men, with Capt. Bull, a villain of the first rank, the manner of their being taken disagrees with what I first heard, except that one of them was wounded, as he made a good deal of resistance when they Tyed him up, but it is with particular satisfaction I inform you that they are all of Kanestio and have many prisoners amongst them which Bull offered for his ransom, he told the party that took him that he had with his own hands killed 26 English since Spring & it appears that their design was to come here, make offers of peace, beg for a little ammunition & on their return destroy Cherry-Valley or some other of our settlements, they insulted the Indians of 2 or 3 Small Friendly villages & shot down their cattle, & took away their provisions by force. Capt Bull did not attempt to deny his behavior, and on my asking him on what account he became sonveterate an Enemy, he told me, he did not know, that he was advised to do it, & his party followed his example; he is a fellow of great address, but feigns ignorance &is full of prevarication, he is very likely and remarkably active as are several of the others with him, which makes me dread their escaping, altho’ I told him if he attempted to escape, those in our hands would be put to death immediately.”

 
Captain Bull was released from the New York prison on condition that he leave the State and never return. This he did, with more than forty Delewares, men, women and children appearing at Frederick Ice’s settlement on the Cheat River in VA in the summer of 1764. They remained until the late Fall, when they moved up the Monongahela River and camped at the site of present day Fairmont, WV.
In the Spring of 1765, the Delawares moved to the site of present day Weston, WV and camped for a while before moving to the Bulltown site.  No one knows how or why Bull chose his next home along the Little Kanawha in what was to become Braxton county WV. Nevertheless, the location was ideal. Game was plentiful, rich ground grew good crops and there was a salt spring.
Although the saline waters of the spring at the Indian village were not very salty and about 800 gallons of water had to be evaporated by the primitive method of gathering the brine in wooden trough and heating it by dropping in hot stones to yield a bushel of salt, they were able to make enough for their own needs, with a small quantity for trade. Salt was a precious commodity in those time and whites came from Randolph County to trade for salt as early as 1770.
The Indians hunted, fished, made salt and visited pioneer settlements in the country farther north, and according to Withers’ “Chronicles of Border Warfare”, the settlement had grown to more than a hundred persons by 1772. Withers’ number of inhabitants is at considerable variance with a head count detailed in a letter from Captain James Booth to Zackwell Morgan. Booth stated that the town consisted of Captain Bull, sixteen warriors, fifteen squaws, eight or more children and twenty cabins. Since Booth was a contemporary of Captain Bull and Withers was writing more than fifty years after the events, Booth’s figures seem more likely to be accurate.
Captain Bull, after coming to western Virginia, was a different character; during the years that he and his people inhabited the Little Kanawha valley, he was peaceful toward the whites with whom he came in contact, often hunting with them. His tepee was always open to the hunter and the pioneer and he was their friend. However, Bull’s attitude was not typical of the times.”

 
This story will be continued in tomorrow’s blog.

Year 2 Days 168 Country Roads, West Virginia

 

 

We left our campsite near Confluence, Pennsylvania today and headed down the road towards Burnsville, West Virginia.  As we worked our way through heavily forested country roads, going up and down mountain ridges and weaving over the winding country roads, John Denver’s song “Take Me Home, Country Roads” was playing in my head.  If you are not familiar with that 1970’s hit song, you can listen to it here.

We got a bit nervous at times as we passed by road signs posting weight limitations that were about half of LeuC’s 20 tons.  In fact, in one instance, we refused to follow the GPS generated suggested route because the road looked way too narrow, windy and steep.  Furthermore, it was posted with a weight restriction of 10 tons.

 

Instead, we continued down the road we were on, keeping our fingers crossed that it would eventually take us out of this mountainous terrain and drop us near I-68, the freeway that would take us near our next stop at the Bulltown Campground near Burnsville, WV.

 

At times the views were breathtaking with rolling ridges of the Allegheny Mountains before us. Allegany Mts

At other times, there was white knuckled excitement as the narrow country lane plunged down steep ridges with sharp curves, no guard rails, and ravines that if you fell into, no one would ever know.  Fortunately, we have become rather good in keeping LeuC on roads which are narrow, windy, and steep with deep, plunging banks. Part of the secret of doing this is keeping the speed well under control and using as much of the center of the road as you can.  The other part is having the navigator keeping eyes peeled on what is in front of us to see if another vehicle is heading our way just past the curve that is in front of us.

 

After 45 minutes of such fun, we spied and then pulled into a gas station that was in a little town next to the freeway.  After we put LeuC into neutral, pulled on the air brakes and shut off the engine, we both looked at each other and took a collective big sigh of relief.  Another driving adventure behind us!

 

The next hour or so was easy peasy as we boogied down the freeway, past Morgantown, WV, driving deeper and deeper into West Virginia.  We then left the freeway and returned, once again, to the narrow country roads as we made our way to Bulltown, WV.

 

Bulltown actually no longer exists.   Nevertheless, it is the location of the Corp of Engineer’s recreational area that houses our campground.  It is also the former site of where Captain Bull, a Delaware Indian chief, had set up a camp and was massacred by a white settler who had his wife murdered by Shawnee Indians back in the 1700s.  He had mistaken Captain Bull and his tribe of Delaware Indian for the Shawnees. Captain Bull was actually well liked by the locals who lived near what they called Bulltown because he and his tribe discovered a salt deposit and would trade his salt for food and goods.  I will get into this history in my next blog.

We have now setup camp and I have also discovered that I can buy Internet time from the campground.  Since there are not cell towers that reach down into the valley where we are, it pains me to say that I bought access at an outrageous cost.  Actually, it would not be so bad if the Internet connection was reliable but it keeps dropping, which makes uploading the blog and pictures very frustrating.

 

Just another day in the lives of RV nomads….

Year 2 Days 166 and 167 The Pittsburgh Left

 

We have just returned to LeuC from spending the last two days with our old friends, Donna and Rob, who live in Pittsburgh.  Yesterday, we hopped into our little Fiat and drove about two hours to see them.  The last time we had gotten together was about 35 years ago, which is it literally a lifetime ago.

When we arrived in Pittsburgh, we experienced what we thought were a bunch of crazy and rude drivers.  There are tons of stop lights in Pittsburgh and none of them appear to be very well timed and all of them seem to ignore the current traffic patterns.  In other words, when you arrive at a red stop light, you tend to sit there for what seems an eternity, even when there is no cross traffic.  As you sit there, twiddling your thumbs, you can feel the frustration and anger build and build.

Thus, when the light finally does change, you step on the gas to make up lost time and quickly accelerate to move through the intersection.  However, as I did this, on two occasions, the driver sitting cross the intersection from us, would turn left and cut right across in front of us as he/she made a left-hand turn.  Whoa!  Only a quick slam on the brakes on my part prevented an accident.  What we did not know at the time, was that we were experiencing what is known as and loved by locals as The Pittsburgh Left!

When we arrived at Donna and Rob’s house and had our hugs and kisses, I was so exasperated that I ranted and raved about the crazy drivers we had experienced driving through Pittsburgh.  This resulted in a laugh by our hosts as they explained to us The Pittsburgh Left.  Apparently, this novel way of driving is part of the local culture and everyone does it.  Holly Molly!  If this is so common and is an expected driving habit, the city should post large warning signs along the roads entering the city explaining The Pittsburgh Left as it is so contrary to standard driving customs around the rest of the country.20180616_132835

Once I settled down and decided not to let The Pittsburgh Left get under my skin, I began to enjoy our getting together with Donna and Rob and catching up after all of these years.  It was so great to see and be with them again.  It was remarkable as Mary Margaret made a comment that was very true.  Specifically, it seemed like it was just yesterday we had last seen them as they had not changed a bit and we just picked up our conversations right from where we had left them the last time we were together.  How remarkably neat is that!

Donna and Rob took us over to “The Strip”, a section of town that has made a comeback from the disastrous closing of the many steel mills that Pittsburgh had grown up on.  We ate lunch in a neat bistro that was housed in an old restored brick building.  We then rambled around the strip, taking in the views and inspecting the many trinkets and tourist stuff being hawked there. 20180616_142444

When we returned to Donna and Rob’s house, we settled in and continued catching up.  We had such a great time doing this.  We also were able to meet their son, Grant and his son.

After a wonderful dinner we then stayed up late continuing our catching up.  It was only after yawns and heavy eyelids started making their appearance that we all retired for the night. 20180616_204916

This morning, after Rob made us all a breakfast of French toast, it was time to part, with hopes of seeing each other sometime in the not so distant future.  Our brief stay was wonderful and we are so thankful that we were able to get together again.  What dear friends.

By the way, tomorrow we take off for our next campground, which will be the Bulltown Campground, near Burnsville, West Virginia.  It is another Corp of Engineers’ site and has not only water and 50 Amp power at each site but all sewer.  Whoo Hoo!.  Unfortunately, we have read reviews that it does not have cell phone or Internet connection.  Thus, we may be “dark” for the next 4 or so days.

Year 2 Day 165 Fore!

Today I took the day off and went golfing.  It is something that I had hoped to do more now that we are back on land and exploring North America.  However, it is something that I just have not had the time to do.  The last time I played golf was last March when we were back in Alabama.  Go Figure!

There is a nice little course in Middleburg which is about 30 minutes from our campsite.  It is just a nine- hole course but it is full length and you could get in 18 holes by just play two rounds.  18 holes and cart only cost $25.  Whoo Hoo.  As it turned out, the course is beautiful, very well groomed and the greens are in perfect shape.20180615_103929

Had a great time and ended up playing with a fellow and his nephew during the second nine.  I was surprised at how well I played and ended up shooting a 94.  Not too bad for a 68-year-old guy…

On the drive over to the golf course, I decided to take a back road (actually, all of the roads in this area are what I would call back roads) to follow one of the branches that flows into the Youghiogheny River.  By doing this, I discovered a covered bridge that crossed the river.  I had not seen a covered bridge in years so I just had to stop and capture it with my camera.  I did not realize that Pennsylvania had a covered bridge but this is proof that it does!

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Year 2 Days 164 A Timely Outreach

Clear out of the blue we received a surprise email today from a couple that we have been trying to locate for months.  I had thought that I had their contact information but discovered that I just could not find it.  We have not seen Donna and Rob in over thirty-five years but knew that they lived in the SW Pennsylvania area.

 

I had first met Donna way back in college when she and I, along with about 8 other people, worked together at the University of Michigan as Freshman Orientation Leaders.  During the summer, high school students who have been accepted into the University’s upcoming freshmen class are invited to attend a 3 day-long orientation program to help prepare them for the big jump from living at home to leaving home and attending college.  During orientation they learned about the university, enrolled in classes, discovered where their classes are located across the University’s various campuses, and how to get there., what university resources and program were available to them, etc., etc., etc.  As Orientation Leaders, it was our job to help them through this process, give them tours of the various campuses and feel welcomed to The Big U.

 

We each had a group of about 25 or 30 soon-to-be-freshman for a 3-day period and the orientation program would last through about a 10-week period over the summer.  By the time the summer was over, the ten of us orientation leaders were a pretty close-knit group and it was hard to say goodbye as we each went our own way, focusing on our school work and our respective lives as upper classmen.

 

Donna and I really did not get close until after we each had married, graduated from college and then discovered that we and our spouses had moved to the East Coast and were living just 40 minutes from each other.  Actually, it was thanks to Donna and Mary Margaret that this discovery was made as they shared Christmas letters each year.  Donna and her husband, Rob, had moved to Philadelphia where Rob was attending Med School at Thomas Jefferson University and Donna was working as a nurse to put Rob through Med school and getting her Master’s degree at U of Pennsylvania.  It was Donna who got MM her interview with U of Penn to transfer and finish her Master’s degree there.  Mary Margaret and I had moved to Newark, Delaware where I was getting my Ph.D. at U of Delaware and Mary Margaret was completing her Master’s Degree at U. of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.

 

After Rob graduated they moved back to Southwestern Pennsylvania (where they eventually set up a series of family clinics), then both of our families started having kids, we then moved to California and before we realized it, we kind of lost track of each other.  Life just seems to get in the way of things sometimes and over the years, contacts are lost.  Sigh!

 

As it turned out, they somehow discovered our sailing blog when we were sailing and a couple of times a year would check out what we were doing and where we were.  They have kept this up when we moved into LeuC and this is how they discovered that we were now in their neck of the woods.  Whoo Hoo!  These blogs sure are helpful sometimes!

 

We are so happy they reached out and we have now made arraignments to drive up to Pittsburg this Saturday to spend the day with them and catch up after all of these years.  We are so excited and can hardly wait!

 

Year 2 Day 162 and 163 Coal Country

Yesterday, we rested from our all-day outing at Gettysburg and got ready to leave our campsite.  This meant running into the nearby town of Hanover to reprovision.  Along the way, I stopped along the country lanes that are the main travel arteries in this area and took these pictures.  The first is one of the many red barns that dot the countryside.  20180612_125715

The other photo is of a little one room red brick school house that used to be a mainstay for education.  20180612_130235We have seen a number of these small school houses in our drives to Gettysburg.  They have all now been replaced with modern campuses but are a nice reminder of what was so common in the last hundred years.  MY grandmother, Helga, on my mother’s side taught in a school house similar to this in North Dakota during in early 1900s.  Thus, every time I see one of these, it lights up a special place in my heart.

Today, we bundled up LeuC and headed down the road.  Our next two campsites are located in the heart of what is known as Coal Country.  While 25 states in the US produce coal, the biggest coal beds are in southwestern Pennsylvania and West Virginia.  Today, we are staying near Confluence, Pennsylvania.  Confluence is located at the juncture of the Casselman River and Laurel Hill Creek with the Youghiogheny River.  Here is a copy of a 1900s era postcard that shows what this area looked like back then.LOC_1905_birds_eye_Confluence_PA

Now, the upper reaches of the Youghiogheny River are now dammed to ease the likelihood of downriver flooding.  Since its completion in 1943, it has prevented flood damages estimated to be in excess of $569 million. Youghiogheny has the capability to store the equivalent run-off of 11 inches of precipitation from its 434 square mile drainage area.  Since we have had almost of foot of rain in the last 6 weeks, you can guess that it is now bulging with water.  In fact, as we wound our way over the curving country roads to get here, following the river valley, we saw that the river was at it very peak and, in places was flooding the low areas.  This must be because the Corp of Engineers is releasing massive amounts of water that has been captured by this dam during this period.

 

We will be staying at the Corp of Engineers campground called Overflow, aptly named since we are just downstream of the dam and the overflow portion of the dam.  As you can see from the Google Maps image I have captured, we are literally at the bottom of its emergency overflow that would channel the water out of the lake if it rose to top of the dam.  Yikes!Overflow Part of Dam, Confluence, PA

Fortunately, we are projected to have nice, sunny weather while we are here.  Nevertheless, with all of the rain we have had, one of the first things I will be doing tomorrow is going over to the dam to check out how high the lake is.  LOL!

After we setup LeuC, I walked over and met our neighbors.  They are two couples who also have two of their children setup nearby.  The ladies are sisters and they live just 30 miles north of Johnstown, which is about 30 miles to the north of here.  One of the husbands, Jim, yesterday caught a 22-inch brown trout in the river here.  He showed me a picture and it was a monster of a fish.  He caught it using a nightcrawler worm.  Needless to say, the fishing is great here!

Our campground is just lovely with lots of green grass and a beautiful mix of evergreen and deciduous trees dotting the grounds.  We are right along the Youghiogheny River and we can see it from our site.  It is gushing by!20180614_104331

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We will be here for 4 nights before we move on into West Virginia.