Friday, October 02, 2009

An Old Post from Rock Piles; "Indian Bars"

I dont know how I missed this post:

Indian “Bars”
SUNDAY, MAY 28, 2006

Jim P writes:
It's just a quote I ran into while doing research. It's from William Wood's New England's Prospect, 1634. He's talking about the deer in New England and how hard they are to catch with dogs.
"In summer it is hard catching of them with the best greyhounds that may be procured because they be swift of foot. Some credible persons have affirmed that they have seen a deer leap threescore feet at little or no forcement; besides, there be so many old trees, rotten stumps, and Indian bars, that a dog cannot well run without being shoulder-shot."
I wonder what the, "Indian bars," are that Woods is talking about? A look in the dictionary shows that, "bars," can mean:
"something that impedes or prevents action or progress. synonym - obstacle"
What's more, Woods is also saying that, "Indian bars," are quite numerous.

Norman said...
I would think "Indian bars" refers to stone walls, or what some early writers called "Indian fences."
David Wagner proposed that two converging walls at a stream in Pachaug State Forest in CT were an ancient deer weir, but a friend, who is a colonial historian, concluded they were instead a "sheep dip," where sheep were hearded to wash them in the stream.
Take your pick.
8:58 AM
JimP said...
I think you could be right Norman. If these, "bars," are stone walls, it's significant in my mind to see a primary source indicate an abundance of them in the woods.
8:26 PM

At this late date, I'd say that removable fence rails are sometimes called bars - not an actual gate, but rails you could remove and then replace: A treatise on the law of railroads - Google Books Result by Edward Lillie Pierce - 1881: "The company is required to keep in repair gates and bars which are a part of the fence. It is required to use reasonable diligence to keep them closed ..."

Chambers's journal of popular literature, science and arts‎ - Page 5 - 1858
“A herd of deer was trooping out from the edge of the cypress woods—at that corner where the rail-fence separated the savanna from the cultivated fields.
'Ha!' thought I, 'they have been poaching upon the young maize-plants.'
I bent my eyes towards the point whence, as I supposed, they had issued from the fields. I knew there was a gap near the corner, with movable bars. I could see it from where I stood, but I now perceived that the bars were in their places !
The deer could not have been in the fields then? It was not likely they had leaped either the bars or the fence. It was a high rail-fence, with 'stakes and riders.' The bars were as high as the fence. The deer must have come out of the woods ?”

I think there might be a little of appropriating of Indian Fences and Hunting Techniques that happened in the early days of Waterbury CT:

The town and city of Waterbury, Connecticut‎ - Page 693
by Sarah Johnson Prichard - Reference - 1896

DEER STAKES THE—They are at the east end of Mount Taylor rock. It is not known whether the natural formation of land and rocks furnished the name, or whether stakes were erected there to turn the deer from their course. It is a wild region, well-watered and suitable for deer to range in. Mount Taylor rock extends east and west nearly across Mount Taylor, leaving the place called the deer stakes at the eastern base. It is a narrow passway, of fifteen or twenty rods, from the lower to the upper end of the range, and it can readily be seen that stakes at this place would serve to turn the deer either way. The boulders lying here would'afford excellent hiding places for the hunter. Mr. Southmayd had land laid out on the range that was cultivated.

MOUNT TAYLOR—The rocky, prominent ridge above Waterville and between Naugatuck river and Hancox brook.
It was quite natural, therefore, that it should be used as one of the points of demarkation or departure in the Indian deeds of Waterbury, and also that the undiscovered Mr.Taylor whose name had been given to the height before the first Indian deed of Waterbury was drawn, should have made use of it in viewing and exploring the wilderness in the prehistoric days of Mattatuck.
The most prominent and elevated ridge of Mount Taylor was called Mount Taylor rock. The western extremity of the rock has its perpendicular face to the southward, and, with its abrupt ending at the river westward, it nearly cuts off the valley at that point. The eastern end has a. greater altitude, but terminates on the level summit of a wall of rock which presents an abrupt face to the brook below. At this point were located the " Deer Stakes," where deer pursued and driven from among the hills cither northward or southward of the place would have to pass in close quarters—the large and plentiful boulders thereabouts affording hiding places for hunters.

NICHOLS' PARK, THE PARK, THE PARK GATE, THE PARK FENCE, THE CRANK OF THE PARK—Before 1750 persons in the colony had erected parks or enclosures for keeping and preserving deer. The General Court approved of these parks and made most stringent and effective laws for the preservation of the deer within them, and of the fences, gates and bars pertaining to them. Seven pounds, beside the price of the deer, was the penalty for coursing, chasing, hunting or wounding any buck, doe or fawn kept in any park. For throwing down any fence whereby they might escape, the penalty was thirteen pounds, beside any damage that might accrue thereby.
We find mention, in Waterbury, in 1750. of The Park, also of "The Park fence " and " The Park gate "—leaving no doubt regarding the fact that at that date the region familiarly known as the Park was used as a deer park.
It contained more than three hundred acres, and remains to this day a wild, rugged region, almost untouched by the hand of man. It has had an interesting history. Much of it remains in the realm of tradition, but numerous facts may be gleaned from the records. There was an ancient highway laid out through it in 1716, known as the Stone path. It merits its name, and can still be found without difficulty. It began at the road west of "Westwood" (which in 1729 formed a part of the Litchfield road, and before that period the course of the Common fence) and ran to the Nichols' Farm road, now the Bunker Hill road. The Park road, surveyed in 1763, runs through a section of it. There was also a "way" from the Stone path to the point where the Park road enters the enclosure near Matthew Lilley's house. Here also was the Park gate (the early Woodbury road passing twenty rods distant from the gate). The Crank of the Park was the bend or angle at its more southern point, between the Stone path and the east fence. Tradition tells of a club house. The building stood on the "way" or path between the Stone path and the Park gate.
There is a tract of 17^ acres within it, that has had but two owners—Jonathan Scott (who was taken out of town by the Indians), and the Episcopal Church. Scott laid it out in 1720. He received it "for services done for the proprietors." In 1745, the year in which he died, he conveyed it (calling it woodland) to the Professors of the Church of England in Waterbury. It is still one of the glebe lands held by St. John's church. Daniel Scott—the son who
lived with his father—also signed the deed. At the layout of the land its northwest corner was an oak tree; in 1745 it was a " n>c&-oak tree"; in 1780 or a little later it had become a " largt rock-oak tree"; in 1842 it was an " old rock-oak tree," and in 1884 the shell of the stump of the tree could be seen, out of which two saplings of considerable size were growing. In 1724 a tract of thirty-two acres was laid out to John Richardson, the survey of which included the easterly corner of Scott's land. This overlapping of ancient surveys has full illustration, as found in the Park. This layout of 1724 mentions Bryant's hill. Who Bryant was, and why his name was given to the hill, we have not learned.
James Nichols—the founder and the owner of the Park—in 1733, when his father, Joseph Nichols, died, was a student at Yale college. Because of his studies he resigned the executorship of his father's will. He early sold his right in his fathers farm to John Nettleton. In 1742 he made his first purchase within the territory which he later owned. In 1749 he laid out, bought, exchanged, and bargained for lands all about that region, and became the virtual owner or controller of all the land in and surrounding his future park—so that the string of his purchases extended all the way from the summit of West Side hill to the extreme northern part of Gaylord's hill, including some of the Hopkins land—and this, notwithstanding the title still held by others to lands within the enclosure, probably provided for by "bargains" not on record.
It would be interesting to learn why James Nichols forsook his deer park. We only know that on January 2, 1756, he sold to his " brother" Ebcnezer Wakelee, all the land in the Park that he then owned, and that he was, at that date, living in Salisbury. In 1756 he sold also to Wakelee "sundry pieces outside of the Park fence." The same year Ebenezer Wakelee sold to his brother James Wakelee, for ,£135, " one half of that Land called ye park," and said that it was the land he bought of James Nichols.
The Park field lay in the southeastern portion of it. About 1760, George Nichols began to cultivate the land there, giving it that name. The Nichols family owned lands in that region and all about it, long after James sold out. Tradition indicates at a later period perhaps, and probably in the time of John Nichols (the author of a most remarkable conveyance of land) that a club of Waterbury's young men, built a club house in the Park and filled the region with the echoes of their festivities—but nothing more substantial has reached us than the possible site of this club house, elsewere referred to. George Nichols had an hundred-acre farm, said to be located at Scovill's meadow. It extended from the old Woodbury road northward, probably to the southern limit of the Park, and along on the outside of the western side of it. On it he seems to have built the famous tavern, referred to on page 422.
Solomon Tompkins lived near the southwest corner of Welton's mountain in the Park. The remains of his two houses still appear, one within, one without the fence. His first dwelling place, by tradition a famous Tory rendezvous in the Revolutionary war, is indicated by the ruins of a chimney fireplace, the other, by a cellar. He deeded in 1783, his house and land to his "friend Mary Robbins, living at The Clove in New York." This mysterous personage came to the Park from Satan's Meditation, situated near the Miry swamp in Middlebury, and later, it is said moved to Northeast, N. Y. Notwithstanding tradition, Solomon Tompkins was an American soldier in the war, and a pensioner of 1818. Tradition likewise gives us " Saul's " swamp (which doubtless should be Sol's) and " Saul " as an Indian.
Lemuel Nichols' tavern a little beyond the Park may account for a part of the tradition.
The last land laid out in the Park was, it is believed, Timon Miles's, about 1817.
The descendants of Elijah Nichols (son of Richard, son of Joseph), have lived for many years in that vicinity. Hannah, who owned an acre of orchard in the Park, was his daughter. Wishing to go West with her brothers, Elijah, Jr., and Clement, she, it is said, sold it to Amasa Roberts for a horse. Roberts sold the orchard to Aaron Benedict for a fat sheep. Later, Thomas Lockwood bought it of the Benedict estate, and cut the trees down. Gideon, brother of Hannah, lived a little eastward of the Glebe swamp, where he had a house near a spring, and a rude building in which he wove carpets.
Reuben Nichols lived very near the Park, where the watering place now is. He also built a house on its western edge —a part of it set into the ledge—and along which the Park fence ran. Bethlehem pippins grew there A somewhat celebrated apple tree of the above variety still stands not far from the house. The rail fence, in an angle of which this tree stands, it is said was frequently moved, so as to include the tree—the owner, on either side, contending for its possession.
ISAAC'S MEADOW BARS—At the intersection of the upper road to Woodbury with the Litchfield road, which followed the west fence of the common field to where it crossed the valley of Steele's brook.

Finally here we find mention of drives and stone piles, just a little west of Waterbury:

By Col. Wm. S. Brackett.
The most interesting of the Indian remains on our ranch is at Buffalo Bluff, where there is a remarkable game drive. Under the cliff, which is about 40 feet high, the ground is white with the splintered bones of large game animals that have been driven over the precipice - buffaloes, elks, and deer. Above is a level plain stretching back for several miles into the foothills. The cliff is only about a hundred yards wide at the steep part where the game was driven over. How did they manage to make wild animals run to this narrow cliff and leap over? You can see at once how this was accomplished when you climb to the plain above. There can be seen two long lines, composed of piles of stones, stretching out on the plains, each line about half a mile long and diverging from the edge of the cliff like the two arms of an open fan. The piles of stones are about 10 feet apart and each stone heap is 2 to 3 feet in height. When the Indians last used this game drive, which was about fifteen years ago, they set up wooden stakes about 5 feet long in each stone pile. From stake to stake were stretched lines of stout buckskin cord, like wires on a barbed wire fence, and from these cords were hung at short intervals feathers, strips of bright cloth, and scraps of white buckskin, fluttering in the wind. Of course this fence could be easily broken through, but the frightened animals always turned back from the fluttering rags, feathers, and other objects hanging from the long lines of cords.
A heard of buffalos or deer was carefully surrounded by the Indian hunters, and then gradually driven toward the opening of the drive, which was over half a mile wide. Once within these lines, the hunters drove the heard toward the bluff, waving their blankets as they rode forward. The terror stricken animals rushed toward the precipice, keeping away and turning back in fright from the lines of "fence," which gradually converged toward the cliff. At last, in a wild stampede, the frantic animals were driven over the edge of the precipice, where those who were not killed outright were dispatched by another party of hunters below. Only spears and arrows were used below the cliff, because the noise of firearms would frighten back the animals approaching the edge of the bluff. Among the mass of crumbling white bones beneath this Buffalo Bluff (as it is called here), where so many wild animals have been slaughtered, you can today occasionally find spear and arrow heads, beautifully formed of shining black obsidian, or volcanic glass, the material being formed in large quantities on the great plateau of the Yellowstone National Park.
*Reprinted from "The American Field," Feb. 11, 1893

Just about every zigzag row around where I live is about ten feet from point to point, an interesting coincidence - Tim

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