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Entered according to Act of Gongress, by
WILEY & PUTNAM, In the Clerk's Office of the Southern District of New York,
in the year 1841.
Astor, Lenox and Tilden
NEW-YORK: Hopkins & Jennings, Printers,
THE “ Happy Valley” to which the illustrious author of Rasselas introduces his reader in the opening of that charming fiction, was not much more secluded from the world than is the Valley of Wyoming. Situated in the interior of the country, remote from the great thorough-fares of travel, either for business, or in the idle chase of pleasure, and walled on every hand by mountains lofty and wild, and over which long and rugged roads must be travelled to reach it, Wyoming is rarely visited, except from stern necessity. And yet the imagination of Johnson has not pictured so lovely a spot in the vale of Amhara as Wyoming.
Much has been said and sung of the beauty of Wyoming ; yet but comparatively little is actually known to the public of its history. That a horrible massacre was once perpetrated there, and that the fearful tragedy has been commemorated in the undying numbers of Campbell, every body knows. But beyond this, it is believed that even what is called the reading public is but inadequately informed; and there are thousands, doubtless, who would be surprised on being told that, independently of the event from which the poet has woven his thrilling tale of Gertrude, Wyoming has been the theatre of more historical action, and is invested with more historical interest, than any other inland district of the United States of equal extent. The revolutionary occurrence, supplying the Muse's theme in the beautiful tale just referred to, forms but a single incident in a course of fifty years of various and arduous conflict between belligerent parties of the same race and nation, each contending for the exclusive possession of that fair valley, and for the expulsion of the rival claimants. Added to which is its antecedent Indian history, extending back more than fifty years prior to the intrusion of the white man, and perhaps a hundred. The dusky Indians were engaged in bloody strife with each other there, hand to hand and foot to foot. All that is fierce and brutal, selfish and unrelenting, bitter and vindictive, in the passions of men embroiled in civil strife, has been displayed there. All that is lofty in patriotism — all that is generous, noble, and self-devoted in the cause of country and liberty, has been proudly called into action there. All that is true, confiding, self-denying, constant, heroic, virtuous, and enduring, in woman, has been sweetly illustrated there.
Nevertheless the remark may be repeated that but comparatively little of the actual history of this secluded district, - a history marked by peculiar interest, and a district upon which nature has bestowed beauty with a lavish hand, — is known to the general reader. True, indeed, Wyoming is mentioned in almost every book of American history written since the Revolution, as the scene of the massacre; but for the most part, that is the only occurrence spoken of; the only fact that has been rescued from the rich mine of its historic lore. The reader of poetry has probably dreamed of Wyoming as an Elysian field, among the groves of which the fair Gertrude was wont to stray while listening to the music of the birds and gathering wild-flowers; and the superficial reader of every thing has regarded it as a place existing somewhere, in which the Indians once tomahawked a number of people.
And yet Wyoming has had its own historian. More than twenty years ago a gentleman resident there, Mr. Isaac Chap
man, undertook the preparation of a history, but he died before his work was completed. His manuscripts, however, were edited and published some years after his death; but the work was very incomplete. The preliminary Indian history was merely glanced at, while that of the revolutionary war was hurried over in the most imperfect and unsatisfactory manner possible. It was not written in a popular style, nor published in an attractive form. The author, morever, in regard to the protracted controversy between the Connecticut settlers and the Pennsylvanians, was governed by strong partialities in favour of the former. Proud's History of Pennsylvania comes down no later than 1770; and from this it could scarcely be gathered that there was any such spot as Wyoming known. Gordon's late History only comes down to the Declaration of American Independence. He has, indeed, devoted some twenty or thirty pages to the early stages of the civil contest in Wyoming, but he writes as though he had been a paid counsellor of the old Ogden Land Company, which so long and vainly strove to dispossess the Connecticut settlers. An impartial history, therefore, was a desideratum, and such I have attempted to supply, written in the style of popular narrative, confined to facts without speculation, and divested entirely of documentary citations.
My own attention was directed to Wyoming as a field of historical investigation only about three years ago, when engaged in preparing for the press the Border Wars of the Revolution, as connected with the Life of the Mohawk chieftain, Brant. It became necessary, in executing the plan of that work, to examine the history of Wyoming, so far at least as it had been connected, — most erroneously, with the name of that distinguished warrior of the woods ; and I soon discovered so much of interest in the tales and traditions of the valley - its history, written and unwritten, -independently of the war of the revolution, - that I resolved upon