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The next two land parcels looked promising. The third one had a strange feature. A large portion of flatland sat between the bottom of the hill and the river bank. However there was a large knoll between the flatland and the river. Beyond that knoll the land fell slowly to the river.


Grandfather, standing between the mountain and the river knoll, dug his heel into this lowland. Black soil erupted from the back of his boot. With each following thrust of his boot heel Grandfather dug deeper and found the same black dirt.


“Shovel, Mr. Birdsall? – – – try the shovel” shouted Esquire Garnsey as he held out the tool.


Grandfather took the shovel from the Esquire and dug in several locations not likely to contain tree roots. Shovel after shovel turned up nothing but that dark black rich soil. He then decided to check for depth; two feet down with the same results. Sweating from his brow he stopped and leaned against the shovel.


“Satisfied Mr. Birdsall? – – – Satisfied?” asked the Esquire.


“Indeed I am” responded Grandfather. They moved beyond the knoll towards the river. The soil was fertile but nowhere as deep. Glacier waste appeared about one foot down.


The pair rode their horses back toward the mountain. It was extremely steep; too steep for the horses. The men tethered their horses to the trees and moved forward on foot. The ground was strewn with flat rocks about the size of a man’s hand. The earth was thin and half of the trees had mineral rot.


“On top, Mr. Birdsall, – – – on top” said Esquire Garnsey in the repeat fashion that Grandfather was growing weary of.


The mountain became so steep that the men had a hard time holding their footing. Grasping at tree trunks they continued on. Esquire Garnsey stated that his heart was thumping and so he stopped from time to time to rest against a tree.


When they reached the mountain top the esquire found a fallen tree and sat upon the log trunk. Grandfather who was in better shape was exhilarated by the climb and the beauty of the forest at the top.


There were mature oak, pine, hemlock, ash, gum, chestnut, slippery elm and basswood trees. All of them were free of mineral rot. After a short rest they walked deeper into the forest. Grandfather, still carrying the shovel, sampled the depth and quality of the earth. It was satisfactory but nowhere as rich as the black earth in the valley.


“How much Esquire Garnsey?” asked grandfather.


“Seven hundred dollars, one hundred acres, Mr. Birdsall” stated the Esquire.


As they retreated across the semi-flat mountain top and down the steep side Grandfather made mental notes of several features. “Two water springs on top. Three small stone cliffs jutting out at the edge of the mountain top. Five water springs where the bottom of the mountain met the flat lands.”


Grandfather’s heart leaped with joy. Here was a parcel of land that would grow crops, yield hard wood for tools and wagon parts, had quarry stone for building foundations, log timber was abundant for a cabin and the river would serve as a waterway to move produce downstream to large villages such as Binghamton. “


THIS IS IT, Esquire Garnsey,” exclaimed grandfather, “my own small Hudson River Estate, except it is on the Chenango!”


Both men were exuberant. One had found his paradise and the other had made a fine profit.


Esquire Garnsey had never once, during the whole trip, asked Grandfather about how or when he would pay for the land he was looking for. And why would the Esquire have to ask? He knew that Grandfather was a Quaker and a Quaker’s word was as good as gold.


“One way or another,” thought Esquire Garnsey with total conviction, “the Quaker will pay on his own; even if he has to work himself to death.”


© wtomosky