Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Indian Pines Account

The following written account describes what the early pioneers found at Indian Pines when they took possession of the area we now call the village of Penn Yan. It was taken from Stafford Cleveland's history of Yates county.

Penn Yan
There was an Indian burial ground on the west shore where large quantities of human bones were interred in a mound of conical shape, on the top of which grew an oak tree, eighteen inches in diameter. Many of the skeletons were judged by Dr. William Cornwell and others, to have belonged to very large and stalwart men, some of them nearly seven feet tall. From the shore of the Lake there appeared a drain-like structure about three feet in height and width, running toward the mound. A man could easily enter it but superstitious fears prevented its exploration. It was carefully walled up with flat stones and covered in the same manner. Indian relics abound there plentifully. George Heltibidal, Jr., says that among such articles found there were brass and copper kettles, rifle barrels, fragments of pottery, tomahawks of both iron and stone, stone pipes, and spear and arrowheads. The guns were of large size. He also found grape shot and a six pound cannon ball. Remnants of stone structures existed on the east side of the outlet, which appeared to be furnaces of hard sand-stone three to five feet in diameter, in circular form. Near Campbell’s pottery seven of these were to be seen in one row parallel with the Lake shore.
The Foot of the Lake was a great resort for wild animals. It was a favorite runway for the deer, and thousands of them were killed at that point and in the Lake. The wolves and bears were also very numerous in the early years. From all appearances it was a favorite resort and camping ground for the Indians. Perhaps some of the works here mentioned were constructed by other than Indian artifices. They may have antedated the Indian occupation, or they may have been due to Frenchmen dwelling among the Seneca.
The grounds on the west side were long the subject of superstitious notions. Old John Fredenburg and others held that great treasure was secreted there; and many a hard day and even night’s work was performed in digging for it under the direction of divining rods, and second sight seers. Some how the treasure eluded all the searchers. The pots of gold would move away when about to be seized, as if by enchantment, or the industrious digger would strike a hidden sepulcher, and fearful of angry ghost would make a rapid exit. George Heltibidal, Jr., relates that he and John Snyder and David Wagener once made a search after hidden wealth, by direction of his wife who saw through a divining stone and described the place in which to dig. Snyder a large heavy man while hard at work struck something which reverberated like the hollow echo of a vault. He dropped his tools instantly and struck for the boat in which they had crossed the outlet. The others followed at a double quick pace. Snyder always insisted that he saw an apparition the size of a lion, with his tail curved over his back, and only escaped by tumbling headlong into the boat.
The prospective city of Summersite has faded away and the orchards, and the Sulfur Spring of Calvin Carpenter are its Foot of the Lake is simply rural. A few vineyards and best attractions; but it is not wonderful that the natural features of the situation encouraged and long kept alive the expectation of village growth.
c pg. 716