Note: Excerpted from the Proceedings and Collections of the Wyoming Historical and Geological Society, for the Year 1900
Page 174 DALLAS TOWNSHIP, PA.
About 1812-13 William Honeywell moved from New Jersey and bought and settled on a portion of the Edward Duffield tract, near where the farm of his grandson, William J. Honeywell, now is, also part of the same land now occupied by the Dallas Union Agricultural Society for a fair ground and racing track. For much of the information that I have concerning that period I am indebted to Abram S. Honeywell, Esq., son of William Honeywell, who is still living (September 5, 1885 and very active at the age of ninety-five years. Mr. Honeywell's narrative in connection with his father's moving to Dallas is very interesting, and 1 give it in his own words as he gave it to me on the 19th day of September, 1885 at the house of his son, William J. Honeywell, in Dallas.
“ I have a very distinct recollection of many things that occurred about the time my father moved into this country (Dallas). I cannot give the year, exactly, that we came, but it was in the spring. My father had been out here the fall before and had bought a large body of land, part of lot one certified Bedford (this deed is dated 20th September, 1813 and the deed for part of Edward Duffield tract is dated 30 November, 1814 (but the purchases may have been contracted for before either of those dates,) and we moved in the next spring. We came from Nolton (Knowlton) township, near Greensburg, Warren county, New Jersey Many of the early settlers of Dallas came from there. The township of Dallas had not yet been cut off from Kingston and Plymouth townships, from which it was taken.* There were five families who came in from New Jersey when we did. Widow Sweazy and her son, Thomas Sweazy, about my age, were in the party. We drove our teams and wagons all the way. We first came down to Wilkes-Barre, and expected to cross there and come up to Dallas, through the narrows and along Toby's Creek by the way of Trucksville, but the water was so high in the river that spring that we (pg. missing)
"The old Leonard Meadows or Leonard Clearing was then about as it is now, but John Leonard had moved away when we came. The original forest covering Dallas township was very heavy. There was a growth of very large pine trees, many of them 150 to 200 feet high. There were also oak, maple, chestnut and hemlock in abundance. There were many other kinds of wood, but these predominated. There were no worked roads or bridges when we first went to Dallas. The best roads we had were simply the natural ground with the trees and brush cut so as to let a wagon through. The woods were full of game of all kinds—bears, deer, wild turkeys, &c. Wolves were very thick, too. There were no Indians in Dallas when we went there, but I have heard McCoy tell about seeing them, when he first moved in, as they went from the valley, through where Dallas village now stands, to Harvey's Lake, on their hunting and fishing trips. Harvey's Lake was a grand place to hunt and fish then. You could kill a deer there almost any time. Many of the settlers who came in after we did moved away very soon because the country was so rough that they could not stand it. It was very hard for any of us to get a living then. There was no money a-going. The most important thing with us was to get our roads opened and fixed up so that people could get about through the country. We were often called by the supervisors of Kingston to work out our road tax on the roads in the valley, and we had to get down there by seven o'clock in the morning or have our time docked. To do this, we had to get up and eat breakfast before daylight even in the summer time, and they kept us at work until sundown, so that we had to go home in the dark also. It was very discouraging. We could not get supervisors to go over into the Dallas end of the township to work the roads, nor would they let us work our tax out there. At last we began trying to get a new township. (This was first tried in 1814.) We had very hard work of that, too. The people in the valley fought us all they could, and we had to work three or four years before Dallas township was set off. Then we began harder than ever to lay out and open roads. Everyone was so poor, however, that we had almost no tax, and so we had to turn out and have working bees on the roads in order to make them even passable. Dallas township filled up very fast after the separation. Most of the settlers were Jerseymen, though there were a few Connecticut Yankees among them.
Peter Ryman came in about 1814 He was from Greensburg, Warren county,
New Jersey. John Honeywell, my father's brother, came in the year before
we did. Richard Honeywell, another brother, came in soon after we did. They all came from Warren county, New Jersey. My brothers
were Joseph, Thomas and Isaac. I had one sister, Elizabeth, who married
Eleazor Swetland, brother of William Swetland of New Troy (Wyoming). John
Orr came here about the time we did. He was a blacksmith, and used to sharpen
plowshares. He would not shoe horses much. The only plow in use then was
the old fashioned shovel plow. The only iron about it was the blade, which
was about the shape of an ordinary
*The first petition for the new township was filed October sessions, 1814 and the court appointed Oliver Pettibone, Charles Chapman and Josiah Lewis viewers, but they never made any return or report of any kind to the court.
round-pointed shovel. This was fastened to the lower end of an upright post. To the post was attached handles to hold it with, and a beam or tongue to which the team could be hitched. This plow was jabbed into the ground here and there between the roots, stumps and stones, and with it a little dirt could be torn up now and then. There was no patent plow in use then, nor could it be used there for many years after we settled in Dallas. Nor could we use a cradle for cutting grain. At that time the ground was so rough, and there were so many stumps and roots and stones, that we had to harvest at first with a sickle."
As narrated by Mr. Honeywell, and as may yet be inferred from the great number of large pine stumps still seen in the fields and numerous stump fences about Dallas, there was at one time a species of very tall pine trees covering that country. A very few of them can still be seen (1886) towering far above the other highest trees in the woods below Dallas, near the Ryman and Shaver steam saw-mill, but they are the last of their race. For some reason they do not reproduce, and will soon be an extinct species. Many of them grew to a height of 175 to 200 feet, and often the trunk would be limbless for 150 feet from the ground with a diameter of from five to six feet at the ground.*
It is difficult to fell them without breaking them in one or two places. They are so heavy and have so few limbs to retard their fall, or to protect them in striking the ground, that they come down with a terrible crash, and any stone, stump, log or unevenness on the ground where they fall is sure to break them.
Little benefit was ever derived by the people of Dallas from this now
valuable timber. The most important consideration with the first settlers
was how to clear away and get rid of the vast and impenetrable forest that
covered the entire country. Saw-mills were built to make sufficient lumber
to supply the wants of immediate neighbors. There was no great market for
lumber anywhere, because all parts of the country had mills and lumber
as abundant as it was in Dallas. Furthermore, there were no roads over
which it could be conveyed, even if there had been a market, so most of
it had to be cut down and burned on the ground.
Mr. Abram Honeywell tells me that when his father wanted a few slabs to cover the roof of his house in Dallas, they had to carry and drag them from Baldwin's mill at Huntsville, about three miles, because the roads were so poor a wagon could not then be driven between Dallas and Huntsville.
While on the subject of roads, a few dates may be noted when some of the earlier roads of that country were petitioned for, laid out or opened.
At August sessions, 1804 the petition of Zacariah Hartzshoof and others was read asking for viewers to be appointed to lay out a road from James Landon's saw-mill, the nearest and best route to the bridge near William Truck's gristmill, whereupon the court appointed viewers. No report was made, and nothing more seems to have been done with this petition.
At January sessions, 1806 the petition of Samuel Allen and others was
read praying for viewers to be appointed to lay out a road from Dallas
and Baldwin's Mills (afterwards called Huntsville) to intersect the road
that was laid out from Mehoopany to Wilkes-Barre (old state road, now entirely
opened, superseded by road of 1820 hereinafter mentioned), at or near William
Truck's grist-mill. The said road to begin at or near Mr. Foster's.
* This statement, when originally read before the Historical Society, was questioned somewhat by Hon. Steuben Jenkins, who was then living and present. I have since had some of the trees measured, and find that my statement as to their height is correct.