Old Chief Wisamek, of the Kittochtinny Indians, had lost his spouse. He
was close to sixty years of age, which was old for a redman, especially
one who had led the hard life of a warrior, exposed to all kinds of
weather, fasts and forced marches. Though he felt terribly lonely and
depressed in his state of widowerhood, the thought of discarding the
fidelity of the eagle, which, if bereaved, never takes a second mate,
and was the noble bird he worshipped, seemed repugnant to him until he
happened to see the fair and buxom maid Annapalpeteu.
He was rheumatic, walking with difficulty; he tired easily, was fretful,
all sure signs of increasing age; but what upset him most was the sight
of his reflection in his favorite pool, a haggard, weazened, wrinkled
face, with a nose like the beak of an eagle, and glazed eyes as
colorless as clay. When he opened his mouth the reflected image seemed
to be mostly toothless, the lips were blue and thin. He had noticed that
he did not need to pluck the hairs from his skull any more to give
prominence to his warrior’s top-knot; the proud tuft itself was growing
sparse and weak; to keep it erect he was now compelled to braid it with
hair from a buffalo’s tail.
Brave warrior that he was, he hated to pay his court to the lovely
Annapalpeteu when on all sides he saw stalwart, six-foot youths, masses
of sinews and muscle, clear-eyed, firm-lipped, always ambitious and
high-spirited, more suited to be her companions.
But one afternoon he saw his copper-colored love sitting by the side of
the Bohundy Creek, beating maize in a wooden trough. Her entire costume
consisted of a tight petticoat of blue cloth, hardly reaching to the
knees, and without any ruffles. Her cheeks and forehead were neatly
daubed with red. She seemed very well content with her coadjutor, a
bright young fellow, who, except for two wild cat hides appropriately
distributed, was quite as naked as the ingenuous beauty. That
Annapalpeteu had a cavalier was now certain, and immediately it rankled
what flames remained in his jaded body; he must have her at any cost.
Down by the Conadogwinet, across the Broad Mountain, lived Mbison, a
wise man. Old Wisamek would go there and consult him, perhaps obtain
from him some potion to permanently restore at least a few of the fires
of his lost youth. Though his will power had been appreciably slackening
of late years, he acted with alacrity on the idea of visiting the
soothsayer. Before sundown he was on his way to the south, accompanied
by several faithful henchmen. Carrying a long ironwood staff, he moved
on with unwonted agility; it was very dark, and the path difficult to
follow, when he finally consented to bivouac for the night. The next
morning found him so stiff that he could hardly clamber to his feet. His
henchmen assisted him, though they begged him to rest for a day. But his
will forced him on; he wanted to be virile and win the beautiful
The journey, which consumed a week, cost the aged Strephon a world of
effort. But as he had been indefatigable in his youth, he was determined
to reach the wise man’s headquarters walking like a warrior, and not
carried there on a litter like an old woman. Bravely he forged ahead,
his aching joints paining miserably, until at length he came in sight of
his Promised Land.
The soothsayer, who had been apprised of his coming by a dream, was in
front of his substantial lodge-house to greet him. Seldom had he
received a more distinguished client than Wisamek, so he welcomed him
with marked courtesy and deference.
After the first formalities, the old chief, who had restrained himself
with difficulty, asked how he could be restored to a youthful condition,
so that he could rightfully marry a beautiful maiden of eighteen
summers. The wise man, who had encountered similar supplicants in the
past, informed him that the task was a comparatively easy one. It would
involve, however, however, first drinking the waters of the Warm Springs
(in what is now Perry County), then another journey across mountains.
Wisamek shouted for joy when he heard these words, and impatiently
demanded where he would have to go to be finally restored to youth.
“Across many high mountain ranges, across many broad valleys, across
many swift streams, through a country covered with dark forests and
filled with wild beasts, to the northwest of here, is a wonderful
cavern. In it rises a deep stream of greenish color, clear as crystal,
the fountain of youth. At its heading you will find a very old man,
Gamunk, who knows the formula. Give him this talisman, and he will allow
you to bathe in the marvelous waters and be young again.”
With the final words he handed Wisamek a red bear’s tooth, on which was
cleverly carved the form of an athletic youth. The old chief’s hands
trembled so much that he almost dropped the precious fetich. But he soon
recovered his self-control and thanked the wise man. Then he ordered his
henchmen to give the soothsayer gifts, which they did, loading him with
beads, pottery, wampum and rare furs.
Despite the invitation to remain until he was completely rested, Wisamek
determined to depart at once for the warm springs and the fountain of
youth. He drank the warm water copiously, enjoying the beautiful
surroundings at the springs. He was so stimulated by his high hope and
the mineral waters that he climbed the steep ridges, crossed the
turbulent streams and put up with the other inconveniences of the long
march much better than might have been the case. During the entire
journey he sang Indian love songs, strains which had not passed his lips
in thirty years.
His followers, gossiping among themselves, declared that he looked
better already. Perhaps he would not have to bathe in the fountain after
all. He might resume his youth, because he willed it so. Indians were
strong believers in the power of mind over matter.
When he reached the vicinity of the cave he was fortunate enough to meet
the aged Indian who was its guardian. Though his hair was snow white and
he said he was so old that he had lost count of the years, Gamunk’s
carriage was erect, his complexion smooth, his eyes clear and kindly. He
walked along with a swinging stride, very different from Wisamek’s
mental picture of him. The would-be bridegroom, who handed him the
talisman, was quick to impart his mission to his new-found friend.
“It is true,” he replied, “after a day and a night’s immersion in the
cave’s water you will emerge with all the appearance of youth. There is
absolutely no doubt of it. Thousands have been here before.”
With these reassuring words Wisamek again leaped for joy, gyrating like
a young brave at a cantico.
The party, accompanied by the old guardian, quickly arrived at the
cave’s main opening, where beneath them lay stretched the calm,
mirror-like expanse of greenish water.
“Can I begin the bath now?” asked the chief, impatiently. “I am anxious
to throw off the odious appearance of age.” “replied the old watchman,
who took him by the hand, leading to the ledge where it was highest
above the water. “Jump off here,” he said quietly. Wisamek, who had been
a great swimmer in his youth and was absolutely fearless of the water,
replied that he would do so. “But remember you must remain in the water
without food until this hour tomorrow,” said the guardian.
As he leaped into the watery depths the chief shouted he would remain
twice as long if he could be young again. Wisamek was true to his
instructions; there was too much at stake; he dared not falter.
The next morning his henchmen were at the cave’s mouth to greet his
reappearance. They were startled to see, climbing up the ledge with
alacrity, a tall and handsome man, as young looking as themselves. There
was a smile on the full, red lips, a twinkle in the clear eye of the
re-made warrior as he stood among them, physically a prince among men.
The homeward journey was made with rapidity. Wisamek traveled so fast
that he played out his henchmen who were half his age.
Annapalpeteu, who was seated in front of her parents’ cabin weaving a
garment, noticed a youth of great physical beauty approaching, at the
head of Chief Wisamek’s clansmen. She wondered who he could be, as he
wore Wisamek’s headdress of feathers of the osprey or “sea eagle.” When
he drew near he saluted her, and, not giving her time to answer,
joyfully shouted: “Don’t you recognize me? I am your good friend
Wisamek, come back to win your love, after a refreshing journey through
the distant forests.”
Annapalpeteu, who was a sensible enough girl to have admired the great
warrior for his prowess, even though she had never thought of him
seriously as a lover, was now instantly smitten by his engaging
appearance. The henchmen withdrew, leaving the couple together. They
made marked progress with their romance; words of love were mentioned
before they parted.
It was not long before the betrothal was announced, followed shortly by
the wedding festival. At the nuptials the bridegroom’s appearance was
the marvel of all present. It was hinted that he had been somewhere and
renewed his youth, but as the henchmen were sworn to secrecy, how it had
been done was not revealed.
The young bride seemed radiantly happy. She had every reason to be; the
other Indian maids whispered from lip to lip, was she not marrying the
greatest warrior and hunter of his generation, the handsomest man in a
hundred tribes? Secretly envied by all of her age, possessing her
stalwart prize, the fair bride started on her honeymoon, showered with
acorns and good wishes.
So far as is known the wedding trip passed off blissfully. There were
smiles on the bright faces of both bride and groom when they returned to
their spacious new lodge-house, which the tribe had erected for them in
their absence, by the banks of the sparkling Bohundy. But the course of
life did not run smoothly for the pair. Though outwardly Wisamek was the
handsomest and most youthful-looking of men, he was still an old man at
heart. Annapalpeteu was as pleasure-loving as she was beautiful. She
wanted to dance and sing and mingle with youthful company. She wanted
her good time in life; her joy of living was at its height, her sense of
enjoyment at its zenith.
[Illustration: BLACK BEAR, KILLED IN SUGAR VALLEY]
On the other hand, Wisamek hated all forms of gaieties or youthful
amusements. He wanted to sit about the lodge-house in the sun, telling
of his warlike triumphs of other days; he wanted to sleep much, he hated
noise and excitement.
Annapalpeteu, dutiful wife that she was, tried to please him, but in due
course of time both husband and wife realized that romance was dying,
that they were drifting apart. Wisamek was even more aware of it than
his wife. It worried him greatly, his dreams were of an unhappy nature.
He pictured the end of the trail, with his wife, Annapalpeteu, in love
with some one else of her own age, some one whose heart was young. He
had spells of moodiness and irritability, as well as several serious
quarrels with his wife, whom he accused of caring less for him than
The relations became so strained that life in the commodious lodge-house
was unbearable. At length it occurred to Wisamek that he might again
visit the fountain of youth, this time to revive his soul. Perhaps he
had not remained in the water long enough to touch the spirit within. He
informed his spouse that he was going on a long journey on invitation of
the war chief of a distant tribe, and that she must accompany him. He
was insanely jealous of her now. He could not bear her out of his sight.
He imagined she had a young lover back of every tree, though she was
The trip was made pleasantly enough, as the husband was in better
spirits than usual. Annapalpeteu enjoyed the waters of the warm springs,
would liked to have tarried. He thought he saw the surcease of his
troubles ahead of him!
When he reached the Beaver Dam Meadows, at the foot of Egg Hill, near
the site of the present town of Spring Mills, beautiful level flats
which in those days were a favorite camping ground for the red men, he
requested the beautiful Annapalpeteu to remain there for a few days,
that he was going through a hostile country, he would not jeopardize her
safety. He was going on an important mission that would make her love
him more than ever when he returned. In reality no unfriendly Indians
were about, but in order to give a look of truth to his story he left
her in charge of a strong bodyguard.
Wisamek’s conduct of late had been so peculiar that his wife was not
sorry to see her lord and master go away. Handsome though he was, a
spiritual barrier had arisen between them which grew more insurmountable
with each succeeding day. Yet, on this occasion, when he was out of her
sight, she felt apprehensive about him. She had a strange presentiment
that she would never see him again.
Wisamek was filled with hopes; his spirits had never been higher, as he
strode along, followed by his henchmen. When he reached the top of the
path which led to the mouth of the enchanted cave he met old Gamunk, the
guardian. The aged redman expressed surprise at seeing him again.
“I have come for a very peculiar reason,” he said. “The bath which I
took last year outwardly made me young, but only _outwardly_. Within I
am as withered and joyless as a centenarian. I want to bathe once more,
to try to revive the old light in my soul.”
Gamunk shook his head. “You may succeed; I hope you will. I never heard
of any one daring to take a second bath in these waters. The tradition
of the hereditary guardians, of whom I am the hundredth in direct
succession, has it that it would be fatal to take a second immersion,
especially to remain in the water for twenty-four hours.”
Then he asked Wisamek for the talisman which gave him the right to
bathe. Wisamek drew himself up proudly, and, with a gesture of his hand
indicating disdain, said he had no talisman, that he would bathe anyhow.
He advanced to the brink and plunged in. Until the same hour the next
day he floated and paddled about the greenish depths, filled with
expectancy. For some reason it seemed longer this time than on the
At last, by the light which filtered down through the treetops at the
cave’s mouth, he knew that the hour had come for him to emerge–emerge as
Chief Wisamek–young in heart as in body. Proudly he grasped the rocky
ledge and swung himself out on dry land. He arose to his feet. His head
seemed very light and giddy. He fancied he saw visions of his old
conquests, old loves. There was the sound of music in the air. Was it
the martial drums, played to welcome the conqueror, or the wind surging
through the feathery tops of the maple and linden trees at the mouth of
the cave? He started to climb the steep path. He seemed to be treading
the air. Was it the buoyant steps of youth come again? He seemed to
float rather than walk. The sunlight blinded his eyes. Suddenly he had a
flash of normal consciousness. He dropped to the ground with a thud like
an old pine falling. Then all was blackness, silence. Jaybirds
complaining in the treetops alone broke the stillness.
His bodyguards, who were waiting for him at old Gamunk’s lodge-house,
close to where the hotel now stands, became impatient at his
non-appearance, as the hour was past. Accompanied by the venerable
watchman they started down the path. To their horror they saw the dead
body of a hideous, wrinkled old man, all skin and bones, like a
desiccated mummy, lying stretched out across it, a few steps from the
entrance to the cave. When they approached closely they noticed several
familiar tattoo marks on the forehead, which identified the body as that
of their late master, Wisamek.
Frightened lest they would be accused of his murder, and shocked by his
altered appearance, the bodyguards turned and took to their heels. They
disappeared in the trackless forests to the north and were never seen
Old Gamunk, out of pity for the vain-glorious chieftain, buried the
remains by the path near where he fell. As for poor Annapalpeteu, the
beautiful, she waited patiently for many days by the Beaver Dam, but her
waiting was in vain. At length, concluding that he had been slain in
battle in some valorous encounter, she started for her old home on the
It is related that on the way she met and married a warrior of her own
age, living happily ever afterwards in a comfortable cabin somewhere in
the majestic Bower Mountains. In him she found the loving response, the
congeniality of pleasures which had been denied the dried, feeble soul
of Wisamek, who bathed too often in the fountain of youth.
It seemed that Andrew McMeans and Oscar Wellendorf were born to be
engaged in rivalry, although judging by their antecedents, the former
was in a class beyond, McMeans being well-born, of old Scotch-Irish
stock, a valuable asset on the Allegheny. Wellendorf, of Pennsylvania
Dutch origin, of people coming from one of the eastern counties, was
consequently rated much lower socially, had much more to overcome in the
way of life’s obstacles. The boys were almost of school age; Wellendorf,
if anything, was a month or two older. In school in Hickory Valley
neither was a brilliant scholar, but they were evenly matched, and
although not aspiring to lead their classes, felt a keen rivalry between
When school days were over, and they took to rafting as the most obvious
occupation in the locality, their rivalries as to who could run a fleet
quickest to Pittsburg, and come back for another, was the talk of the
river. In love it was not different, and despite the talk in McMean’s
family that he should marry Anna McNamor, daughter of his father’s
life-long friend, Tabor McNamor, the girl showed an open preference for
The old Scotch-Irish families were, as the London Times said in
commenting on some of the characteristics of the late Senator Quay
(inherited from his mother, born Stanley) “clannish to degree,” and
Anna’s “people” were equally anxious that she marry one of her own
stock, and not ally herself with the despised and socially insignificant
“Dutch”. Old Grandmother McClinton called attention to the fact that the
headstrong beauty was not without a strain of “Dutch” blood herself, for
her great, great grandmother had been none other than the winsome
Madelon Ury, a Swiss-Huguenot girl of Berks County, who, when surprised
in the field hoeing corn by a blood-thirsty Indian, had dropped her hoe
and taken to her heels. She ran so fast over the soft ground that she
would have escaped her moccasined pursuer had she not taken time to
cross a stone fence. This gave the red man the chance to throw his
tomahawk, striking her in the neck, and she fell face downward over the
wall. Just as her foe was overtaking her, Martin McClinton, a sword
maker from Lancaster, who was passing along the Shamokin trail en route
to deliver a sabre to Colonel Conrad Weiser, at Heidelberg, rushed to
her rescue and shot down the Indian, so that he fell dead across his
McClinton extricated the tomahawk from her neck, bound up the wound with
his own neckerchief and carried her to her parent’s home, near the
Falling Springs. He remained until the wound healed, when he married
her. Later the pair migrated west of the Alleghenies.
Madelon McClinton was very dark, with an oval face and aquiline
features, possibly having had a strain of Pennsylvania Jewish blood to
account for her brunette type of beauty. She always wore a red scarf
wrapped about her neck, being proud and sensitive of the ugly long white
scar left by the Indian’s weapon.
This ancestress, so Grandmother McClinton thought, was responsible for
Anna’s affinity for the rather prosaic Dutchman Wellendorf. Although the
girl was open in her preference for Oscar, she did not make a decision
as to matrimony for some time. When Wellendorf was absent, she was nicer
to McMeans than anyone else. However, if Oscar appeared on the scene,
she had eyes and ears for no other.
On one occasion when the two young men started down the river on their
rafts, proudly standing at the steering oars in the rear, for the
Allegheny pilots rode at the back of the rafts, whereas those on the
Susquehanna were always at the front. Anna was at the water’s edge,
under a huge buttonwood tree–or, as Wellendorf called it in the breezy
vernacular of the Pennsylvania Dutch, a “wasserpitcher”–and waved a red
kerchief impartially at both.
McMean’s raft on this trip was of “pig iron”, that is unpeeled hemlock
logs, as heavy as lead, and became submerged when he had only gotten as
far as the mouth of French Creek. He had to run ashore to try and devise
ways and means to save it from sinking altogether, while Wellendorf
floated along serenely on his raft of white pine, and was to Pittsburg
and back home before McMeans ever reached the “Smoky City.” “John C.
French tells us, “White Pine (pinus strobus) was King, and his dusky
Queen was a beautiful Wild Cherry, lovely as Queen Alliquippa of the
redmen. Rafting lumber from Warren County began about 1800, and it
reached its maximum in the decade, 1830 to 1840. The early history of
Warren County abounds in very interesting incidents, along the larger
Allegheny River, from rafts of pine lumber assembled to couple up for
“After the purchase of Louisiana, in 1804, the hardy lumbermen decided
to extend their markets for pine beyond Pittsburg, Wheeling, Cincinnati
and Louisville–to go, in fact, to New Orleans with pine and cherry
lumber. So large boats were built in the winter of 1805 and 1806 at many
mills. Seasoned lumber of the best quality was loaded into the flat
boats and they untied on April 1, 1806, for the run of two thousand
miles, bordered by forests to the river’s edge.
“It was in defiance to ‘All Fools’ Day’, but they went through and sold
both lumber and boats. For clear pine lumber, $40.00 was the price per
one thousand feet received at New Orleans–just double the Pittsburg
price at that date. For three years thereafter the mills of Warren
County sent boats to New Orleans loaded with lumber, and the men
returned on foot. Joseph Mead, Abraham Davis and John Watt took boats
through in 1807, coming back via Philadelphia on coastal sailing ships.
“The pilots and men returned by river boats or on foot, as they best
could. The markets along the Ohio from Pittsburg to St. Louis soon took
all the lumber from the Allegheny mills, and the longer trips were
“It was in 1850 that there came the first lumber famine at Pittsburg.
Owing to the low price of lumber and an unfavorable winter for the
forest work, few rafts of lumber and board timber went down the
Allegheny on the spring freshets, but the November floods brought one
hundred rafts that sold for more favorable prices than had previously
prevailed. Clear pine lumber sold readily for $18.00 and common pine
lumber for $9.00 per one thousand feet.
“The renown of these prices stimulated lumbering on the Allegheny
headwaters and the larger creeks. So the demand for lumber was supplied
and the railroads soon began to bring lumber from many sawmills. The
board timber was hewed on four sides, so there were only five inches of
wane on each of the four corners. These rafts of round-square timber
were sold by square feet to Pittsburg sawmills.
“Rafts of pine boards at headwater mills were made up of platforms, 16
feet square and from 18 to 25 courses thick, 9 pins or “grubs” holding
boards in place as rafted. Four or five platforms were coupled in tandem
with 3 feet “cribs” at each joint, making an elastic piece 73 feet or 92
feet long for a 4 or 5 platform piece as the case might be, 10 feet
“At Larrabee or at Millgrove four of these pieces were coupled into a
Warren fleet, 32 feet wide, 149 feet or 187 feet long.
“Four Warren pieces or fleets were put together at Warren to make up a
Pittsburg fleet. At Pittsburg four or more Pittsburg fleets were coupled
to make an Ohio River fleet. Some became very large, often covering
nearly two acres of surface, containing about 1,500,000 feet of lumber
at Cincinnatti or at Louisville. They each had a hut for sheltering the
men and for cooking their food. They often ran all night on the Ohio. To
find where the shore was on a very dark night, the men would throw
potatoes, judging from the sound how far away the river bank was and of
their safe or dangerous position. These men were of rugged bodies and of
“A small piece, in headwaters and creeks, had an oar or sweep at each
end of the piece to steer the raft with. Each oar usually had two men to
pull it. An oar-stem was from 28 to 35 feet long, 8″ by 8″, and tapered
to 4″ by 4″, shaved to round hand-hold near the end toward center of
raft. The oar blade was 12′, 14′ or 16′ long, and 18″ to 20″ wide, a
pine plank, 4″ thick at the oar-stem socket, and 1″ thick at the
out-end, tapered its whole length.
“There were other sizes of stem and blade, but the above indicates the
power that guided a raft of lumber along the flood-tides, crooked
streams, and over a dozen mill dams to the broader river below.
“From the Allegheny boats or scows, 30 feet long and 11 feet wide,
carried loads of baled hay, butter, eggs and other farm produce to the
oil fields of Venango County in the ’60’s, sold there and took oil in
barrels to the refinery at Pittsburg. Then sold the scows to carry coal
or goods down the Ohio.
“Mr. Westerman built five boats at Roulette about 1870, 40 feet long and
12 feet wide, loaded them with lumber and shingles and started for
Pittsburg, but the boats were too long for the dams and broke up at
Burtville, the first dam.
“Much of the pine timber of the west half of Potter county was cut in
sawlogs and sent to mills at Millgrove and Weston’s in log drives down
the river and Oswayo Creek into the State of New York. The lumber was
shipped via the Genesee Valley Canal to Albany and New York City and
other points on the Hudson River.
“The first steamboat to steam up the river from Warren was in 1830. It
was built by Archibald Tanner, Warren’s first merchant, and David Dick
and others of Meadville. It was built in Pittsburg; the steamer was
called Allegheny. It went to Olean, returned and went out of commission.
“The late Major D. W. C. James furnished the incident of the Allegheny
voyage. A story was told by James Follett regarding the trip of the
Allegheny from Warren, which illustrates the lack of speed of steamboats
on the river at that early day.
“While the steamer was passing the Indian reservation, some twenty odd
miles above Warren, the famous chief, Cornplanter, paddled his canoe out
to the vessel and actually paddled his small craft up stream and around
the Allegheny, the old chief giving a vigorous war hoop as he
accomplished the proud feat.
“Chief Cornplanter, alias John O’Bail, first took his young men to
Clarion County, about 1795, to learn the method of lumbering, and in
1796 he built a sawmill on Jenneseedaga Creek, later named Cornplanter
Run, in Warren County, and rafted lumber down the Allegheny to Pittsburg
for many years.
“Many tributary streams, such as Clarion, Tionesta and Oswayo,
contributed rafts each year to make up the fleets that descended the
Allegheny River from 1796 to 1874, our rafting days.
“We must mention the Hotel Boyer, on the Duquesne Way, on the Allegheny
River bank, near the “Point” at Pittsburg, where the raftsmen and the
lumbermen foregathered, traded, ate and drank together, after each trip.
Indians were good pilots, but must be kept sober on the rafts.
‘Bootleggers’ along the river often ran boats out to the rafts and
relieved the droughty crews by dispensing bottles of ‘red-eye’ from the
long tops of the boots they wore.”
Of the big trees in the Allegheny country, Dr. J. T. Rothrock, “Father
of Pennsylvania Forestry,” has said: “About 1860, when I was with a crew
surveying the line for the Sunbury & Erie Railroad, we had some
difficulty in getting away from a certain location. A preliminary line
came in conflict with an enormous original white pine tree, and the
transitman shouted ‘cut down that tree’. After it was felled another
nearby was found to be in the way, and was ordered out. The stump of the
first tree, four feet above the ground measured 6 feet, 3 inches in
diameter; of the second tree a trifle over 6 feet. Such was the
wastefulness of the day.”
As soon as Oscar returned he saw Anna forthwith. She was in a
particularly pliant mood, and in response to his direct question if she
would marry him, replied she would, and the couple boarded the train at
Warren for Buffalo City, where they were married.
When Andrew McMeans came back from his protracted expedition they were
already home from their honeymoon, and residing with the elder McNamors
in the big brick house, overlooking the Bend. Andrew McMeans felt his
jilting deeply; it was the first time that any real disappointment had
come in the twenty-one years of his life; he had imagined that, despite
her predilection for Wellendorf, he would yet win her, and his pride as
well as his heart was lacerated. Outwardly he revealed little, but
inwardly a peculiar melancholy such as he had never felt before overcame
him, and like Lincoln, after the death of Ann Rutledge, he realized that
he must either “die or get better.”
Anna seemed happy enough in her new life, and liked to flaunt her
devotion to Oscar whenever her rejected lover was about. Ordinarily this
might have wounded him still deeper, but he was absorbing fresh
anxieties, reading Herbert Spencer, whose abominable agnosticism soon
wrecked his faith, and bereft of love and the solace of immortality, he
became the most wretched of men.
It was five years after Anna’s elopement, and when she was twenty-one
years old, that one morning she started for Endeavor to get the mail and
make some purchases at the country store. It was a cold, raw day in the
early spring, and the wild pigeons were flying. The beechwoods on both
sides of the road were alive with gunners, old and young. Some one fired
a shot which hurtled close to the nose of the old roan family horse, a
track horse in his day, and he took the bit in his teeth and ran away
madly, with the buggy careening after him. Anna, standing up in the
vehicle, was sawing on the lines until he crashed into a big ash tree
and fractured the poor girl’s skull. She was picked up by some of the
hunters and carried home unconscious the next thing was to get the news
to her husband. Oscar at that time had just finished a raft on West
Hickory Creek, while his old time rival, McMeans, was completing one on
East Hickory, which stream flowed into “The Beautiful River”, almost
directly opposite to the West Hickory Run.
About the moment that Anna received her cruel death stroke, the two
rafts were being launched simultaneously, with much cheering on both
banks, for partisanship ran high among dwellers on either side of the
river. Members of the family hurried to the river side to watch for the
Wellendorf raft, to “head him off” before it was too late. It was
several hours after the accident when the two rival rafts, with the
stalwart young pilots at the sterns, swept around the Bend, traveling
“nip and tuck”. It promised to be an evenly matched race, barring
accidents, clear to Pittsburg. The skippers of the contending yachts for
the American Cup could not have been more enthused for their races than
were Andrew McMeans and Oscar Wellendorf.
In front of the McNamor homestead several women were to be seen running
up and down the grassy sward, frantically waving red and green shawls.
What could they mean? They were so vehement that Oscar divined something
was wrong, and steered ashore, followed by McMeans, who, noting the
absence of Anna from the signaling party, feared that a mishap had
Both young men jumped ashore almost simultaneously, leaving their rafts
to their helpers. The worst had happened–Anna was in the house with a
fractured skull, and the doctors said she could not live the night. If
anything, McMeans turned the paler of the two. The men said little as
they followed the women up the boardwalk to the house.
That night McMeans, who asked to be allowed to remain until the outcome
of the case, for the river had lost its attractions, was sitting in the
kitchen with Grandmother McClinton. The raw air had blown itself into a
gale after sundown, and during the night the fierce wind beat about the
eaves and corners of the house like an avenging fury. The old tall
clock, made years before by John Vanderslice, of Reading, on top of
which was a stuffed Colishay, or gray fox, with an uncommonly fine
brush, was striking twelve. Amid the storm a wailing voice joined in the
din, incessantly, so that there was no mistaking it, the Warning of the
[Illustration: RUINS OF FORT BARNET. BUILT IN 1740. (Photograph Taken
The old grandmother watched McMeans’ face until she saw that he
understood. Then she nodded to him. “It is strange how that thing has
followed the McClinton family for hundreds of years. In Scotland it was
their ‘Caointeach’, in Ireland their ‘Banshee’, in Pennsylvania their
‘Token’ or ‘Warning’. It never fails.”
As McMeans listened to the terrible shrieks of anguish, which sometimes
drowned the storm, he shivered with pity for the lost soul out there in
the cold, giving the death message, so melancholy and sad, and perhaps
unwillingly. Anna lay upstairs in her room, facing the river, or
windward side of the house, and the Warning was evidently somewhere
below her window, where the water in waves like the sea, was
over-running the banks.
On a kitchen chair still lay a red Paisley shawl that had been used to
signal to Wellendorf earlier in the day. It seemed ample and warm.
Picking it up, McMeans went to the kitchen door, which he opened with
some effort in the force of the gale, and, walking around the house,
laid it on one of the benches at the front door, saying, “Put on this
shawl, and come around to the leeward side of the house.”
When he returned, he said to Grandmother McClinton, “That Token’s voice
touched me somehow tonight. Something tells me she hated her task, is
cold and miserable. I left the shawl on the front porch and told her to
come out of the wind.”
After that they both noticed that the unhappy wailings ceased, there was
nothing that vied with the storm.
“Perhaps you have laid her,” said Grandmother McClinton. “Anna may now
But these words were barely out of her mouth, when Oscar Wellendorf,
pale as a ghost, appeared in the kitchen to say that Anna had just
passed away. Andrew felt her death keenly, but he was also satisfied
that perhaps he had by an act of kindness, removed the Warning of the
McClintons. He was more convinced when a year later Anna’s father joined
the majority, then her mother, with no visits from the mournful-voiced
Five years more rolled around, and Andrew McMeans, still unmarried, and
cherishing steadfastly the memory of his beloved Anna, embarked his
fleet for Pittsburg. It was a morning in the early spring, the air was
soft and warm, and the shad flies were flitting about. He arrived in
safety, but was some time collecting his money, as he was dealing with a
scamp, and meanwhile put up at a boarding house on the river front, near
the Hotel Boyer. The afternoon after his arrival he was sitting on the
porch of his lodgings, gazing out at the rushing, swirling river, which
ran bank full, on a bench similar in all ways to the one on which he had
laid the shawl to warm the freezing back of the Warning of the
McClintons. Somehow he fell to thinking about that ghost, and its
disappearance, and of Anna McNamor; how much he would give if only he
could see her again.
He recalled how the old grandmother had told him that some families
married out of the Warning, while others married into it, much as he had
heard was the case with the Assembly Ball in Philadelphia. The McClinton
Warning had evidently clung to the female line, as it had been very much
in evidence when Anna McNamor’s time had come.
Something made him look up the street. Coming slowly towards him was a
slender school girl, with a little green hat perched on her head, the
living image of Anna, dead for five years! He almost fell off the bench
in surprise, to note the same slim oval face, the aquiline features, and
hazel eyes that he had known and loved so well. She paused for a moment
in front of the house next door, holding her school books in her arms,
while she looked out at the raging river. The spring breezes blowing her
short skirts showed her slim legs encased in light brown worsted
stockings. Then she went indoors.
It did not take him long to seek his landlady and learn that she was a
flesh and blood, sure enough girl, Anna Harbord by name, whose mother,
widow of Mike Harbord, an old time riverman, also ran a boarding house.
It was not many days before some errand brought the girl to the house
where McMeans was stopping, and matters fortuitously adjusted themselves
so that he met her.
He was struck by her similarity to the dead girl, even the tones of her
voice, and it seemed strange she should have such a counterpart. She
appeared friendly disposed towards him from the start, and it was like a
compensation sent after all his years of disappointment and loneliness.
She was then sixteen years old, and must have been eleven when her
“double” passed away.
As their acquaintance grew into love, and all seemed so serene, as if it
was to be, Andrew McMeans gradually regaining his faith, human and
divine, felt he owed his happiness to the Warning of the McClintons’,
whose misery he had appeased by taking the cloak out to her, while
engaged in her disagreeable duty of fortelling the coming dissolution of
the unfortunate girl.
McMeans and Anna Harbord married. They decided to remain in Pittsburg,
and he became in a few years a successful and respected business man.
If few persons had been kind to ghosts, certainly he had profited by his
interest in the welfare of the “Warning of the McClintons”. The girl’s
mother informed him that in the early spring, about five years before,
her daughter had been seized with a cataleptic attack, had laid for days
unconscious, and when she came out of it, her entire personality, even
the color of her eyes, had changed. Could it have been, the young
husband often thought, as he sat gazing at his bride with undisguised
admiration, some act of the grateful “Warning,” in sending Anna
McNamor’s soul to enter the body of this girl in Pittsburg, and
reserving her for him, safe and sound from Wellendorf and all harm,
until his travels brought her across his path! Human personality, he
reasoned, is merely a means to an end. The unfinished life of Anna
McNamor could not go on, like a flower unfolding, until her fragrance
had been spent on the one who needed it most. Then he would shudder at
the idea that if the school girl, who stopped to look at the flooded
river, had started on again, passing him by, never to see her again. He
would feel that he had been dreaming perhaps, until, touching his wife’s
soft creamy cheeks, would realize that she was actually there, and his.
Through her his soul took on new light, and from a vigorous young
woodsman, he was slowly but surely passing into an intellectual
existence. He had been strangely favored by the mainsprings of destiny,
and why should he not give the world all that was best in him. Life,
ruthless though it seems, has always compensations, and if we live
rightly and truly, the debt will be owing us, whereas most of us through
mistakes and misdeeds, have a great volume of retribution coming in an