Abraam Storms, Bainbridge, Binghamton, Birdsall, Birdsall Family, Chenango Canal, Chenango Valley, Confluence of the Chenango and Susquehanna Rivers, French Courtiers, Garnsey, George Park, Greene NY, Guernsey, Henry Birdsall, Homet's Crossing, Hornby, Indian Territory, Jean Guillaume deBesse, Jericho, Loyalsock River, Madame d'Autremont, The French Asylum, Wyalusing PA, Wysox PA
The Esquire smoked his pipe while telling Grandfather the story.
“You see, there is a long story behind that land and the partnership of Mr. Juliand and I. The whole thing began in New York and ended in France; the year was 1787. Mr. Malachi Treat and Mr. William W. Morris had purchased a large piece of the Indian Territory here in New York. They registered it as the ‘Treat & Morse Tract’. Sales were meager and this put Treat and Morris under financial pressure. The partnership was failing and drastic measures were taken. A large piece of property was sold to the Hornby family. That property is located right across the river and therefore they named the village ‘Hornby’.”
Once the Esquire had laid out that small history regarding the division of the Indian Territory he continued on with the history of the French refugees.
“Additionally, Treat and Morris sent a land purveyor to France. They had heard of the civil unrest and calculated that the French Royalty and royal civil servants would be planning a foreign haven if it became necessary to escape. Several members of various families did exactly that. One of those was a Madam d’Autremont who contracted for three hundred acres. She and several other families pooled their resources to obtain that large piece of property. These were the people who saved the young Indian, John Leaf. Remember our discussion about the French? Escaped the revolution and moved above Hornby but on the east side of the river where we saw their abandoned cabins.”
Grandfather acknowledged the Esquire’s question, “Yes, they stayed there from 1792 until 1794.”
Esquire Garnsey congratulated Grandfather on his memory and continued.
“Excellent retention Mr. Birdsall. Now for the sad part. The French people were totally unprepared. They had neither the skills nor the determination to live in the forest. One family, thinking it a necessity, even brought rolls of wallpaper as part of their cargo.”
At that point Mr. Juliand broke in with “Yes, and you can see that wallpaper on the walls of this room. I traded an axe for it”
The Esquire smiled at the interruption and continued.
“It came time to makase another payment on the property. The French refugees selected a representative to make the payment and sent him to Philadelphia with the money. About half way there the representative attempted to cross the rain swollen and raging Loyalsock River in Pennsylvania. He was drowned along with his horse. Neither was ever seen again. The money, apparently, was lost and after some time the mortgage holder foreclosed. The discouraged people of the small French Colony packed their possessions and came to Hornby. Here they bought whatever floating craft they could. Once their goods were loaded in the boats they proceeded to Binghamton where the Chenango meets the Susquehanna. From there they floated the Susquehanna River to a French Asylum, in Pennsylvania. They met other French courtiers there who had also escaped the French Revolution and set up asylum.”
Grandfather was held in amazement at the story. When the Esquire stopped to relight his pipe Grandfather asked “Are they still there? Where is this asylum?”
Grandfather wondered how this story affected the land that they would see tomorrow. Esquire Garnsey continued with his short version of the saga. He answered Grandfathers two questions in the same order that they were asked.
The esquire first said “Yes, they remain there. In Pennsylvania.”
“And the land,” Grandfather interrupted, “how does that fit in?”