Friday, September 02, 2005

The swelling of the St. Regis

I'll start home this morning after hugging my sweet daughter goodbye.

I spent yesterday at the New York Public Library reading about Stockholm, a town in ultra-upstate New York whose sketchy early records contain no mention of my ancestor's birth to her father, a first settler there.

After reading the following, I'm not surprised; I think they had more immediate things on their minds. From "The History of St. Lawrence and Franklin Counties," written in 1853:
In September, 1804 [two years after seven families had moved to this area] occurred the greatest flood ever known in the country, produced by heavy rains and swelling the St. Regis river far above its ordinary flood level. Four of the seven families, living near the bank of the river, were compelled to flee from their homes. One family living near Trout brook remained within doors until the under-floor was raised from the sleepers, and the wood was floated from the fire-place, and with the greatest peril and difficulty they escaped with their lives...
See also the following passage. Hmm, I wonder if this guy had trouble with his neighbors, making it seem worth it to drag his family across the river to start life again in complete isolation. I also wonder what his wife thought of his choice.
The first settler who located in the west half of Stockholm was John Thatcher, from Williston VT, who in March, 1805 started from the settlement in the east part of the town of Stockholm [named, incidentally, by the Swedish surveyor who laid it out], taking his wife and children, and the small sum of household articles which he was able to carry in a vehicle drawn by a single horse, to locate in the western part of the town.

On arriving at the river, he found it swollen and rapid, but providing himself with a pole to sustain himself against the current, he forded it repeatedly, carrying on his back his children, and his household goods, and finally, with much difficulty, assisting his wife in wading the river. Here he constructed a rude shelter of hemlock boughs beside a fallen tree, and kindling a cheerful fire on the site of the present little village of Sanfordville, he spent the first night. The horse was comfortably provided for on the opposite bank of the river ...

He is spoken of as a man capable of enduring fatigue to an extraordinary degree, and was known to have carried the flour of three bushels of wheat on his shoulders for miles through the forest to his family...

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