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Author Topic: Long Island or Peach Island  (Read 7290 times)
William Flowers
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« on: May 09, 2004, 09:47:36 AM »

The John Secord Beebe letter of 1 April 1871 to Thomas Bebee mentions a "Long Island" or "Peach Island" on the Susquehanna River as "opposite" the site of Joshua Beebe's and Mary Secord's land in the Wyoming Valley.  

Does anyone have any ideas as to the precise location?

William Flowers
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William Flowers
William Cooke
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« Reply #1 on: August 18, 2005, 01:27:19 PM »

Joshua BEEBE, along with Mary SECORD's brothers Peter, John and James settled on the East Branch of the Upper Susquehanna River near the point where the river valley widens to become the Wyoming Valley. This widening of the valley occurs a few kilometres upstream of Tunkhannock in Wyoming County, Pennsylvania.

John Secord BEEBE’s letter of 1 Apr 1871 describes the location of Joshua BEEBE homestead on the Susquehanna River:

“… the Secords with your grandfather Beebe moved to the Susquehanna some fiew years before the revolution. they had located themselfes on the river just where the river after winding throug the mountains came into a flat country called Wyoming leading down to the Chesapeak Bay. they wher[e?] amongst the first that settled on the [illegible word] lands amongst the mountains, one of there farms was the first as they came to the mout[h?] that is to say the country was flat or more level from that toward the Chesapeak each one of the four of them had taken as heads of family one of those [illegible word] flats being A A[repeated word at end of the written line] large flat on one side and mountains on the other, opposite your grandfathers farm in the river was an islan[d] by some Called long Island whilst others called it Peach Island owing to A quantity of Peach trees growing on it.”

While Alex Newman in her article "In Search of Mary Beebe" (The Beaver, July 2005) believes that the "Peach Island" mentioned in the John Secord BEEBE letter is Peach Bottom Island (on the Susquehanna near York), “Peach Island” would more likely have been one of the numerous long islands on the East Branch of the Upper Susquehanna. It is important to remember that these river channel islands are highly susceptible to geomorphological processes. After 230 years “Peach Island” as Joshua BEEBE saw it may no longer exist.

A number of published histories also place the SECORDs in this area. Mary SECORD’s brother John is mentioned frequently. John SECORD had been arrested as a British spy in 1776 but successfully petitioned the Connecticut government for his release. Afterwards, John SECORD moved his family upriver to Tioga Point where he served as a sutler to Butler’s Rangers. Tioga Point is located just south of Athens in Bradford County, Pennsylvania at the confluence of the Chemung and Susquehanna Rivers.

Here are a few of the online references. Most deal with the events leading up to the Battle of Wyoming on 3 Jul 1778:

“In the month of May [1778], scouting parties began to be met by those of the enemy, who hovered around the settlements at a distance of 20 miles, seeming intent to prevent all communication with the upper country, and it is presumed to cut off all chance of learning the preparations making for the descent, rather than to do mischief. No families were attack-no houses burned. Shots were exchanged rarely, as the enemy rather kept aloof than courted battle; but one of the Wyoming men, William Crooks, coming out of a house near Tunkhannock, abandoned by John Secord, who had gone to the enemy, was shot dead at the door. This was the first life taken at Westmoreland by the Indians.”

Charles Miner, History of Wyoming County, 1845
http://www.rootsweb.com/~srgp/books/wyomlt17.htm

“Capt. Franklin, with 26 men, pursued, the next morning, crossing the Susquehanna at Secord’s, three miles above Tunkhannock; but the enemy were so far in advance, as to render further pursuit hopeless; and taking the canoes they had descended the river with and abandoned, Capt. Franklin return to the Fort.”

Charles Miner, History of Wyoming County, 1845
http://www.rootsweb.com/~srgp/books/wyomlt20.htm

“Among the first settlers was one John Secord, who located on the flat about two miles above Tunkhannock, on the opposite side of the river, in 1773. This flat was then called Catchakamy Plains. It was at his house that the first white man was killed in Westmoreland during the Revolutionary war.”

http://www.csonline.net/prissy68/Wyoming03.htm

“A scouting party was near Tunkhannock when a man named William Crooks approached the door of a house that had been occupied by John Secord, a tory, when he was shot dead by Indians within.”

H. C. Bradsby, History of Luzerne County, 1893
http://www.rootsweb.com/~usgenweb/pa/luzerne/1893hist/ch4.htm

“During the month of June [1778] some acts of hostility by the Indians and tories occurred. On the 12th William Crooks was shot and scalped about two miles above Tunkhannock at the abandoned house of the tory John Secord; and on the 17th a reconnoitring party of six were fired on about six miles below Tunkhannock, and one of the party, named Miner Robbins, killed, and another, named Joel Phelps, wounded.”

W. W. Munsell , History of Luzerne, Lackawanna and Wyoming Counties, 1880
http://www.lowerluzernecounty.com/articles/history-of-luzlackwyom/chapter6.htm

Finally, Joshua BEEBE appears along with John and Peter SECORD on the “Up the River” tax list of August 1776, transcribed by the Wyoming Historical and Genealogical Society and reprinted online at:

http://www.teachout.org/du/nan/uptheriver.html

While the general location of Joshua BEEBE’s homestead is known it may not be possible to determine the precise location. Apparently many of those who settled "Up the River" were never granted title to their land either by the Susquehanna Company of Connecticut or by Pennsylvania and were essentially squatters.
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William Flowers
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« Reply #2 on: August 20, 2005, 07:34:11 PM »

Quote
It is important to remember that these river channel islands are highly susceptible to geomorphological processes. After 230 years “Peach Island” as Joshua BEEBE saw it may no longer exist.

This is an excellent point.  Not only can islands shift within a channel, but channels can move far enough to leave former islands "high and dry."  What once was "Peach Island" could now be some disance from the current channel. Still, one can always hope to find a historical reference to the location of even a former island.  I've searched a 19th century Pennsylvania gazetteer, but with no results.

Concerning the continuing claim by some that the Beebes once lived and had children on the western branch of the Susquehanna near York, it would sure be informative to know the origin and source of those claims.

Thanks for those great references concerning the Secord land and presence on the eastern branch of the Susquehanna.  Those will be very informative for all who are interested in Beebe and Secord family history.

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William Flowers
Allan Ross
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« Reply #3 on: November 08, 2008, 09:52:57 AM »

Bill,

On my recent rip to the U.S. I was visiting friends in Maryland and drove towards the Susquehanna River valley.
Here is what I found. The Wyoming Valley, as you know, is located towards the northern reaches of the river near Scranton and Wilkes Barre area.
Peach Island and Long Island are located at the mouth of the river as it approaches the state line with Maryland. This is just southeast of the city of York and within reasonable distance from York Haven where I found a telephone listing for a Martha Beebe - perhaps a distant relative!!The two islands are almost opposite each other - Peach Island on the east side of the river and Long Island on the west side of the river. Both are within sight of each other.

Hope this helps.

Cheers

Allan
 
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William Flowers
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« Reply #4 on: November 09, 2008, 01:33:14 PM »

On my recent rip to the U.S. I was visiting friends in Maryland and drove towards the Susquehanna River valley.
Here is what I found. The Wyoming Valley, as you know, is located towards the northern reaches of the river near Scranton and Wilkes Barre area.
Peach Island and Long Island are located at the mouth of the river as it approaches the state line with Maryland. This is just southeast of the city of York and within reasonable distance from York Haven where I found a telephone listing for a Martha Beebe - perhaps a distant relative!!The two islands are almost opposite each other - Peach Island on the east side of the river and Long Island on the west side of the river. Both are within sight of each other.

This may be significant. Could you point out Peach Island and Long Island a little closer, name of nearest town on the river?

Thanks.
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William Flowers
Allan Ross
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« Reply #5 on: November 10, 2008, 11:30:36 AM »

The Susquehanna river flows southeast towards the Maryland border and eventually into the Chesapeake bay. It cuts through here midway between York and Lancaster. Past this point there are no cities, merely small villages and dots ont he map - a true rural area - beautiful but rather isolated and lonely. Just prior to reaching the border with Maryland Long Island will be on the west bank side of the river and Peach Island (so called because of its shape) will hug the eastern bank. There is no road to connect the mainland with either of the islands. Just prior to crossing into maryland is the small village of Peach Bottom - the site of a nuclear power plant!
The locals in the area knew exactly the names of the islands - as well as all the others in the area - even though I have been unable to locate any of them on a map. The islands are marked but seemed to have no name. There seemed to be no visble habitation of the islands. Both islands are within sight of each other on opposite sides of the river which is quite wide at this point as it nears its journey's end before spilling into Chesapeake bay.

I checked out Martha Beebe on the 411 website and saw that she was aged 82!! Assuming she is still alive and can recall her mother and father and perhaps her grandparents. it may provide some useful insight to the Beebe family of that particualr time

Hope this helps

Allan.
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William Flowers
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« Reply #6 on: November 10, 2008, 04:45:36 PM »

The Susquehanna river flows southeast towards the Maryland border and eventually into the Chesapeake bay. It cuts through here midway between York and Lancaster. Past this point there are no cities, merely small villages and dots ont he map - a true rural area - beautiful but rather isolated and lonely. Just prior to reaching the border with Maryland Long Island will be on the west bank side of the river and Peach Island (so called because of its shape) will hug the eastern bank. There is no road to connect the mainland with either of the islands. Just prior to crossing into maryland is the small village of Peach Bottom - the site of a nuclear power plant!
The locals in the area knew exactly the names of the islands - as well as all the others in the area - even though I have been unable to locate any of them on a map. The islands are marked but seemed to have no name. There seemed to be no visble habitation of the islands. Both islands are within sight of each other on opposite sides of the river which is quite wide at this point as it nears its journey's end before spilling into Chesapeake bay.

I checked out Martha Beebe on the 411 website and saw that she was aged 82!! Assuming she is still alive and can recall her mother and father and perhaps her grandparents. it may provide some useful insight to the Beebe family of that particualr time

I found it, thanks!  This certainly deserves further study and tends to support a Beebe presence near or in York. There always seems to be a complication, though; there is another Peach Island northeast of York, just a little farther away than the Peach Island to the southeast you point out. Again, though, either location lends support the York tradition that exists among some Beebe researchers.

It's possible that the Martha Beebe you found may be related. It's useful to remember, though, that if she is related it is likely that such a relationship probably occurred because she shares a common ancestor with Joshua Beebe, rather than her being a descendant of his. There were other Beebe families in Pennsylvania at the time Joshua was there, and they also could very well be from Connecticut.
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William Flowers
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