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Epinetus gathered his thoughts and continued his conversation with Mr. Parks.


“Grandfather returned home in mid-September; just in time for harvest. Discussions in the field centered on the experiences of his trip and the beauty of the land that he had spoken for. All of my aunts, my father Horace, and my uncle Henry were excited. Well – – – almost all of them were excited. Aunt Fanny who had her eye on a young local boy by the name of Syrus Page, and, Aunt Hester who had some thoughts about a lad named Isaac Marshall may have wanted to stay in Salem. Grandfather’s children had more questions that he had answers for. I am sure that Grandmother Abashaby also had a lot of very pointed questions. Those questions must have been asked in private as my aunts, uncle or father never mentioned any discussions, regarding the move, between Grandmother and Grandfather.”


Other clients of the Preston Manor Home walked by the two men having this earnest conversation; Epinetus and Mr. Parks. Some smiled knowingly at George Parks. Others simply shuffled by cocooned in their own worlds. Epinetus was moving the story along.


“The following spring, April 1811, Grandfather sold his farm with the stipulation that he would pay rent and live there for one more year. Grandfather was paid half the agreed to price of $500.00 minus $30.00 for that one year’s rent. Grandfather was anxious to deliver the difference of $220.00 to Esquire Garnsey. That required another trip to the Chenango Valley. Esquire Garnsey and Grandfather had been communicating by mail throughout the winter. Traveling ministers would read the Esquire’s letters to Grandfather and wrote Grandfather’s responses to the Esquire. Grandfather told the Esquire that he had some money for him and would like to set up a meeting. The Esquire set a date for the meeting and asked Grandfather to meet him in Unadilla this time. Unadilla was eleven miles north of Jericho – –   – sorry – – – Bainbridge.”


Epinetus rummaged around in an old trunk in his room. He pulled out maps and papers that would help him to put his story together. George Parks watched over Epinetus’ shoulder to see if he could glean anything from the yellowed disintegrating papers.


“Grandfather informed uncle Henry, who was twenty years old at the time, that he would be in charge of plowing and planting. Grandfather’s trip went much faster that spring. He knew the trail much better on this second round trip through the Katskill Mountains. Additionally, he would be taking a more northerly route for the last leg of his trip. This leg would take him on the same path as Captain William Gray’s 1779 march. The Gray march was in support of General Sullivan’s war against the Indians. Grandfather picked up the trail four miles north of the big island ford on the Delaware River. Parts of the trail were better used and some parts even had wagon tracks in them. Grandfather realized that the movement westward, into the newly opened Indian Territory must be gainnng momentum.”


Epinetus pointed to a scribbling on one of the maps. Esquire Parks could not make heads or tails out of it due to the poor condition of the paper.


“At the end of that last leg of the trip to Unadilla Grandfather departed from Captain William Gray’s trail at Bartlet Hollow and finished the last seven miles to Unadilla on the Susquehanna Turnpike.”


Epinetus broke away from his grandfather’s story to add in his own thoughts.


“Do you know why they call it ‘The Katskill Turnpike’ and not by its rightly name ‘The Susquehanna Turnpike?’ Well sir, you go on over there and look for yourself. Every few miles there is another milestone stating ‘Catskill 83 Miles’ then ‘Catskill 87 miles’ then ‘Catskill 90 Miles’. Ignorant bastards, those stone cutters! Everybody was heading west and they were marking the distances eastward.”


© wtomosky