Tag Archives: American County Histories

17th Century Swedes on the Delaware

The first white settlers within the present bounds of Delaware, as has already been shown in the preceding chapters, and the only white settlers previous to the coming of Penn who made any distinct and durable impress upon the country, were the Swedes. Their first, second and third colonies arrived in 1638 and 1640.

Landing of the Finns and Swedes in Delaware

Landing of the Finns and Swedes in Delaware

The Swedes on the Delaware have sometimes been reproached as a lazy people because they did not clear the forests at a rapid rate, nor build themselves fine houses. But this is not the character which Penn gives them, nor that to which their performances entitle them.

Penn says, “They are a plain, strong, industrious people, yet have made no great progress in the culture or propagation of fruit-trees as if they desired to have enough, not a superfluity.” He speaks also of their respect for authority, adding, “As they are a people proper and strong of body, so they have fine children, and almost every house full; rare to find one of them without three or four boys and as many girls; some six, seven and eight sons. And I must do them that right, I see few men more sober and industrious.”

In speaking of their lack of diversified husbandry, Penn forgot that their leading crop was tobacco, which, being without slaves almost entirely, they had to cultivate with their own hands. Their intelligence must have been at least equal to their loyalty, for they were more than fully represented, on the basis of comparative population, in all the early assemblies, councils and magistrates’ courts, under Lovelace and Penn, and they were the only interpreters Penn could get in his intercourse with the Indians. They were not devoid, moreover, of what would nowadays be esteemed remarkable industrial enterprise.



Bald Eagle Tales from 1911

This is from Chapter XVII of History of Walton County by John L. McKinnon in our Florida County Histories:

The Great American Bald Eagle

This bird, symbolical of American liberty, is a great bird, and develops a faculty, or instinct, very near akin to reasoning. They give much trouble in the range to sheepmen. Since I have lived in DeFuniak, J. Love McLean, Bazey Andrews (a colored man) and myself were on a cow hunt in the southern range. We were on horseback, each had a dog, but no gun. As we passed up east of the scrub and near the “scrub pond,” we heard a great noise in the air. We looked to our right and there was one of these great bald eagles, swooping down on a fleet-footed doe, striking her at one time on the head, and then on the rump, tearing the flesh each time with his great beak and talons, repeating these blows. On nearing us, the scared doe saw us on the slant of the hill, ran to us, stopped in our very midst, looked up to us with her soft, dreamy eyes, as much as to say, “will you not protect me from this terrible bird of prey?”

Bald EagleThe eagle poised in mid-air for a moment just above us, then flew away across the pond and lighted on the lowest limb of a very low pine, under which were ewes and lambs feeding. When our dogs came up they chased the panting doe from our midst into the “scrub” that was close at hand, where she was safe from all. We passed through the pond, rode immediately under the bird, hollowed and squalled at him until we found that there was no use wasting our breath, and could never make it fly away. It would move sideways back and forth along the limb looking at us, as much as to say, “you kept me, through your dogs and the “scrub” from dining on venison, I will see to it that you will not keep me from dining on tender lamb. I am the great bald eagle, symbol of American liberty. This is my country, where in the mischief are you from?”

We had to go on and leave him there, knowing well that he would soon dine on lamb meat. We reported that evening to the sheep men and they went in quest of the saucy rascal. Are we not reminded here that there is a Refuge for us when we are pursued by the evil one, that is more secure than the “scrub” was to that stricken, soft-eyed doe?


Story of Inyo 1

A Look Inside: The Story of Inyo

The Story of Inyo can be found in the California section of our American County Histories: The West. This book was compiled by Willie Arthur Chalfant (1868-1943) and dedicated to Pleasant Arthur Chalfant.

Story of Inyo Dedication

Story of Inyo Dedication

From the Foreword to the First Edition

California has furnished probably more themes for books than has any other American State. The easy-going romantic years of Mexican rule, the padres, the Argonauts, the golden era, the wonders of this Empire of the West, have had generous attention from both masters and amateurs in prose and poetry, fact and fiction. The flood of writing hardly diminishes, for magazine literature and still more books add to it month by month.

This book’s purpose is to preserve, particularly, the record of Inyo County earlier than 1870, when a printed record began. Gathering data for some such purpose began more than twenty years ago, while many of the pioneers still lived. It was the author’s good fortune to know personally every early-day Inyoite then in the county. All narratives were checked and rechecked with each other and with other sources of information.

One of the most valuable sources of information was an extensive manuscript collection in the private library of Henry G. Hanks, in San Francisco. Mr. Hanks was an assayer in San Carlos and Chrysopolis mining camps, Owens Valley, in 1863. In later years he became State Mineralogist of California. He was a man of education, and when age caused his retirement from active labors his library received his whole attention. His interest in Owens Valley continuing, he kept and arranged many letters, diaries and other writings relating to this county’s history.

Everyone who took any prominent part in the Indian war has passed on. The Hanks library was burned in the fire of 1906. As those sources of information are thus forever lost, there is some justification in believing that a service was done in getting what they had to impart; and also, that these chronicles, having that advantage, give the only fairly complete record of the county’s beginnings that can be compiled.

Story of Inyo - Settlement Map

Story of Inyo – Settlement Map



The Instruction of Slaves in Alabama

This brief overview of literacy among slaves of Alabama appears in the chapter titled History of Public Education in Alabama in the volume History of Clarke County by John Simpson Graham in our American County Histories: Southeastern States.

The Instruction of Slaves

Historical writers have given little or no concern to negro education in slave times. Presumably this want of concern has been due to the assumption that there was no such thing as the instruction of slaves, but as a matter of fact there was (see See C. G. Woodson, The Education of the Negro Prior to 1861).

No inconsiderable number of negroes in Alabama came out of slavery with the ability to read and write. At least three causes operated to give to a small proportion of the slave population a modicum of text-book instruction.  These were:

(1) the clandestine efforts of anti-slavery enthusiasts;
(2) the profits accruing to some masters by reason of the ability of their slaves to read, write, and otherwise transact business; and
(3) the kindness of young masters and mistresses in instructing their servants.

There was, moreover, a more or less general feeling that negroes might be permitted to learn to read their Bibles, and what is known as “vocational training” was widespread. But the fear of insurrectionary influence and the spread of abolitionist propaganda led to the legal regulation of slave assemblies and to the creation of the patrol system; and, as the abolitionists became more insistent, the education of slaves, in the case of individuals as well as in assemblies, was prohibited by law.

In making this prohibition, Alabama was neither first nor last among the slave states, but occupied a middle ground; its law was enacted in 1832. These laws generally had the effect of preventing organized effort to instruct the slaves, so that such literacy as negroes possessed when emancipated was of the sort that young masters and mistresses had chosen to give, in disregard of the law, to their favorite servants.

The full-text search capability of the American County Histories database permits the student/researcher to explore all the publications of a particular county by using a single query. In addition, those wishing to read or browse the text on a page by page basis may do so in the original format merely by scrolling down the screen and then continuing to the next chapter.

Bandera County

Meet Mrs. Mary Jane Walker

This short memoir appears in Pioneer History of Bandera County (Texas) by J. Marvin Hunter. Bandera County, formed in 1856 from Bexar and Uvalde counties, is a located on Texas’s Edwards Plateau. This volume is in our American County Histories:  The Southwest collection.

The full-text search capability of the American County Histories database permits the student/researcher to explore all the publications of a particular county by using a single query. In addition, those wishing to read or browse the text on a page by page basis may do so in the original format merely by scrolling down the screen and then continuing to the next chapter.

From the Forward

Bandera county has a wonderful history. During the seventy-five years that have passed since white people settled this region, history has been in the making. Many tragedies have been enacted, many privations endured, many dangers experienced during this long span of years—three-quarters of a century. We have yet living with us some of the hardy pioneers that came with the first settlers, men and women who are today nearing the century mark, but still active and full of life.

The rising generation ought to know something of the cost of the blessings we today enjoy, and it is the purpose of this volume to place on record a correct history of these pioneers, and tell of the sacrifices they made in order to redeem this great land from the hands of the roving bands of Indians who had always claimed it.

Mrs. Mary Jane Walker

Born in Claiborne Parish, La., November 18, 1834, and now in the 88th year of her age, Mrs. Mary Jane Walker, nee Moore, looks serenely back upon the great span of years that intervene between her childhood days and the glorious present, and rejoices that she has lived to see the wonderful changes that have taken place. Grandma Walker makes her home with her son, John Travis Walker, and family on Chalk Creek, Bandera county. She came to Texas with her parents in 1853, and located near Austin. On June 22, 1857, she was married to William Andrew Walker, in Blanco county. After living in Blanco and Llano county for awhile she and her husband came to Bandera county that same year, 1857, remaining here awhile, then went back to Llano county. They returned to Bandera in 1866 and located on Laxson’s Creek, afterwards buying the Joe W. Minear place there. Nine children were born to them, four of whom are still living, Mrs. Cynthia Artie Reed of Lima, John Travis Walker of Bluff, Joseph Daniel Walker of Seymour, Mrs. Selina Argie Ferguson of Pear Valley.