Tales from the Indian Stream Republic; Land Grant

Chapter 3 of the Tales of the Indian Stream  Republic

Loosely based on facts and locations, totally composed of fiction…

In 1763 Enoch Hapgood married Adele Somersworth of Concord New Hampshire soon after returning home from the Western frontier. He was working as a foreman for his father’s sawmill, which was a good trade.

One night his father mentioned at supper that the Viscount of Preston, a Scottish lord, was looking for someone to build and operate a sawmill in a township in the upper Connecticut river valley. Having a sawmill would serve to attract settlers, provide jobs, and in general provide the basis for a local economy. The offer included five-hundred acres more or less, of prime land free and clear. His land would be on the Southern border of the Preston Grant with the Connecticut River as his western boundary. His eastern property line would extend from the intersection of the North branch of the brook due South to the border of Woodbury Grant and west to the Connecticut River.

After some discussion after supper it was decided that Enoch should take the deal. Adele was fully supportive; most land deals included just forty acres with an annual quitrent fee.  To own that much land without rental fee was too good a deal to pass up.

At that time all land under the British flag belonged to the King or Queen of England.  It was His, or Hers, to dispose of as He or She saw fit. A grant of land, in the form of a Royal Charter, could be made to a loyal and trusted member of the royal court, or, more often it was sold to some individual or company to enrich the Royal treasury.

The British colonization of America followed this model that had been in place for at least a thousand years. It was also a carryover from the Romans, and in Briton, the Anglo-Saxons. The Charter holders then, acting in the name of the crown doled out land to the serfs, (quitrents) or Yeomen, (freeholders). The Crown reserved the right to govern the lands through Royal Governors who could call on the Army and Navy for support.

The royal House also reserved the right to tax whatever it wished to raise funds for the common defense and other costs of governing the lands.

Enoch knew many of the other settlers from his days with the Rangers.  They had passed through just south of Preston’s grant on their way home from St. Francis. They had in fact made camp at Fort Wentworth at Stonington NH at the confluence of the Connecticut River and the Upper Ammonoosuc River.  Unfortunately. at that time the fort had been abandoned for the winter. They had made camp there while a small party traveled to Fort Number Four at Charleston, NH to summon a relief party. There was no doubt that they could defend themselves from the few Indians left in the region. The land was rich and the forests were a good mix of hardwoods and softwoods.

Adele agreed for the first year she would stay with the Hapgood family in Concord, as she was with child. Enoch would go ahead to build a small cabin and spend the winter setting their new home and business in order.  Enoch, his brother, Sam, and two other men from the Concord area set out on the first of May 1763. Each of the other two men had two oxen, and wagons loaded with hardware and supplies. They would also be preparing the way for their families. Former Rangers all, they had no illusions that this would be an easy undertaking.

Following the Pemigewasset River north to the pass through the mountains at Franconia they joined up with a large party led by David Page Jr. and Emmons Stockwell, who were to settle the new grant of Lancaster, on the Connecticut River.  If he hadn’t already accepted rights to five hundred acres in Preston’s Grant, about forty miles travel to the north Enoch would have been quite happy accepting the invitation to settle in Lancaster. It was reassuring to know that a well-organized town was being set up within a couple days travel.

On the sixth of June they arrived in Preston’s Grant.  As promised, his holding included land on the Connecticut River with a stream in a narrow valley running back into the imposing mountains beyond. Enoch and Sam spent another week walking his homestead, searching out a proper site for his future home and sawmill.

Plenty of good foundation stone for the mill would come from the brook without too much trouble. Flooding would be a problem, but with care, not a big one. The cabin would go to the north side of the brook in a stand of Maple where it would receive the benefit of the winter sun and have nice cool shade during the summer.

It would be a small cabin, twelve by twelve, one door and one window both on the south wall to provide light during the day. The walls would only be seven feet high so that it would be easy to heat.

A fireplace on the west end and a shed in the back for the oxen to shelter in with a canvas covered hayrack to supplement the grain he had hauled from Concord.  For this year a packed earth floor would have to do. He’d lived with far worse serving with the Rangers.

They spent the summer putting up walls, cutting and splitting firewood and gathering hay from the floodplain by the river, splitting shingles for his roof, and helping his neighbors when needed.

Mosquitoes and biting flies were bad near the brook but his building site was high enough that the breezes kept the bugs away. He also found a patch of sweet fern that he could rub on the bug bites to get rid of the itch.

By early September 1763, they were ready to raise the roof which just about everybody in Preston’s Grant got together for. Once he had a roof in place they began packing clay mixed with sand and straw into the gaps between the logs of the wall.

Enoch also made a deal with Bradford Johnson, one of the first settlers, who was a stone mason to build his fireplace and chimney. He would be owing some sawmill production when he was up and running but that was a fair exchange of labor.

With the fall they also spent time hunting. They took two deer and a moose, and again worked a deal with a neighbor, trading the larger deer to have the moose and smaller deer, brined and smoked for his winter’s meat supply.

Once snow was on the ground and the bears were in their dens for the winter Enoch took another deer for fresh meat to add some variety to their meals. Venison was not rich in fat but there was enough to make a supply of pemmican. Root vegetables and wild sour apples would provide the rest of their diet for the winter.

With winter came time to start building up his supply of logs to turn into lumber. Winter cut trees had less sap in the wood so the lumber would dry quicker and with less splitting. None of the harvested trees would go to waste. What wasn’t usable for making lumber would make fine firewood. Once his own needs were met it gave him a tradeable commodity to stock up with.

By March they had piles of pine, tamarack, birch, black locust, elm, and maple logs plus all his next years firewood. Once the frost started to leave the ground they put the oxen to work pulling stumps to make a garden plot. The stumps themselves were arranged around the plot making a serviceable fence and the plot itself was well turned over by the oxens’ hooves as they strained to pull the stumps. Every day they added a wagon full of the winter’s manure to the garden plot. They planted Indian style; corn, with beans to climb the corn and squash and pumpkins as ground cover to keep the weeds down.

By mid-May 1764 the trails were dry enough that Enoch lent his brother and the pair of oxen to the stone mason who agreed to cancel some of his debt for a month’s labor. Enoch packed his trail pack and headed for Concord on foot. He stopped in Lancaster a day later, and spent a night there in exchange for carrying some letters back to Concord.  Traveling fast and light as he had learned to do as a ranger, a week later his  wife introduced him to his new son, William, who was six months old.

 

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Sic Semper Fures

This is the second chapter of my Indian Stream Republic tales. On an historical note, The Indian Stream Republic was a short lived Republic that broke away from New Hampshire in the 1800’s.  The first post can be found here… The beginning of the Indian Stream Republic tales

 

Enoch Hapgood  decided to follow the north shore of Lake Erie instead of making the much longer, if safer trip along the southern shore, to Fort Niagara.  When he left Fort Detroit he had fifteen pounds of blueberry pemmican, five pounds of smoked venison jerky, five pounds of musket balls, (eighty-four, .69 caliber balls), two pounds of gunpowder, his bullet mold for casting more bullets, a bayonet, ten extra flints for his musket, his Ranger’s hatchet, and of course his Brown Bess firelock musket.

He as also carrying just over six pounds of various gold and silver coins. He had sold off the plunder he had collected from the sacking of Detroit. The plunder was too bulky to carry conveniently and he’d taken a loss on the sale. He would still be a wealthy man if he got it all home and it was much safer to travel light and not appear to be too well off. That sort of attention got people killed in the wilderness.

He also had his blanket roll, a small sheet of canvas for a shelter, fifty feet of rope, a wooden canteen, and an extra pair of moccasins which he knew he would need before reaching Concord. All told, he was carrying just over fifty pounds of necessaries. He planned on buying another fifteen pounds of pemmican at either Fort Niagara or Fort Oswego in New York territory depending on how fast he was able to travel. He never knew what to expect beside trouble on the trail.

He traveled at a quick trot when the trail was good, which was standard for a Ranger. Following the lake shore, Enoch kept it in sight but never traveled near the lake itself as was good Ranger practice. There was no sense in limiting your escape options if you were surprised.

He reached the Niagara river in just six days. There he got lucky and met a British Army patrol. His Ranger uniform convinced them he was a messenger, which got him a free boat ride across the river along with instructions for the best trail to Fort Oswego. Another hard three days to the east.

When he came in sight of Fort Oswego he circled back off the trail until he found a stand of tall slim spruce trees about twenty-five feet tall. Selecting one, he climbed up to near the top and tied his rope to it. Once back on the ground he located a fallen tree and ran the rope under it. then he pulled the top of the spruce down and tied it off to the log.

Making a sack out of his canvas containing most of his coins, supplies and a fifty-pound stone to help make it easier to pull the sack down again. He tied the sack to the tree top with a quick release knot then unhitched the rope and let the tree lift the sack back up so it was hidden in the tree tops of the spruce stand. Rangers often cached food supplies like this in bear country as bears liked pemmican as much as Rangers did and could smell it over great distances.

He made camp there that night and headed into the trading post at the fort the next morning. The trading post was a busy place, with a large inventory of trade goods. Beside fifteen pounds of pemmican, Enoch picked up another pair of bear hide moccasins, some hardtack, and a bar of lead for making bullets, and some British East India company tea.

He also looked over some new wool blankets that the East India company was using as trade goods for furs. White wool with four colored stripes. The trader explained that they were called Hudson’s Bay blankets and came in various sizes, 2.5, 3, 3.5, and 4 points. The four-point blankets were big enough for a standard marriage bed.

Enoch shook his head, they were really nice blankets but he was on the trail and they were just too bulky to travel well.  If the East India company was selling them they would be available back home too.  He could tell that they were a popular item as the trader didn’t push too hard or offer any discounts to sweeten the deal. Enoch settled his bill and shouldered his rucksack once outside the3 door. As he was leaving the fort he noticed another traveler following him and paused.

“Where you headed pilgrim?” the other man asked.

“King’s business,” Enoch replied.

“Westing?”

“Niagara in two days-time.”

“Want some company? Headed that way myself.”

Enoch shrugged. “Free trail if you keep up. I’ll not be wasting time waiting on any man. His Highness is depending on me, my Captain said.”

The other man snorted and chuckled, lead on then.”

“You’ve a name I suppose?”

“People call me Percy.”

“Enoch.” ‘Purse-y more like…this one is not a good man, even smells sour.’ Enoch started double timing back toward his camp.

“Damn, what is your rush Enoch?”

“Told you, Fort Niagara in two days.  Keep up or follow, your choice.”

“Guess I’ll follow, I ain’t in that kind of hurry!”

“Good then.” And Enoch picked up his pace.  He passed the turn off to his camp, moving fast. He soon came to a stream crossing the trail, pulled off his moccasins and stepping rock to rock moved up-stream for a hundred paces before cutting back toward his stand of spruces. Slipping his moccasins back on he moved with a ranger’s stealth, slowly moving from tree to tree to pause and listen.

He heard ‘Percy’ come up to the stream and pass beyond it before returning and following down stream slowly looking for sign. Deciding he had time to get to camp and with a little luck retrieve his travel gear and arrange a surprise for any intruder…

Enoch was pulling his rope to lower his stash when he heard…

“Well what have we here Enoch?”

Turning to his right, Enoch saw Percy approaching with a double-barreled pistol pointed in his direction.  “Nothing that concerns you, I’m sure. Just let me tie this off and we’ll discuss that if you want to.”

“I think not. You just keep hold of that rope with both hands, while I take a look-see what’s in that sack,” replied Percy, as he reached to pull the loose end of the quick release knot.  He let his eye follow the sack to the ground and Enoch twisted backwards he flipped the coiled tangle of rope around Percy’s neck and released the rope holding the sapling down.

The pistol discharged as Percy reacted to the unexpected move as he was suddenly jerked off his feet to the sound of a loud “pop” as his neck broke in the tangle of rope.

“Like I said ‘Purse-y’ there’s nothing here that concerned you,” muttered Enoch, as he remembered a Latin phrase from school… ‘Sic Semper Fures… Thus, always to thieves.  Guess I better stop at the trading post and pick up some fresh rope. Might even buy one of those nice blankets too…

 

3 Free book giveaways through Amazon

2 different kindle e-books and 1 Large Print Paperback edition of my Campfire tales (free shipping included)

  1.  (1 copy remaining as of now) The Navigators, Book One of my Pathfinder Series. The Navigators giveaway
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Friday 10-26, Free E-Book Promotion: The Navigators

Please Note:

This edition is issued as a “new” book.(different ASIN number). This means that if you pick this up on a promotional give away you will receive a completely updated version of the book. The same holds true for Kindle Unlimited users. No matter which previous edition you may have picked up before Edition 6, this edition will download clean. Check my author’s page for more information..With that information out of the way, thie edition fixes a few typos that slipped through before and adds some sketches of the Space Station described in chapter 10 and the details of spin induced artificial gravity.As always every location mentioned in this series are real places with fictional structures. There are a great plenty of interesting locations that really exist in our solar system that I find there is no need to go making up completely fictional locations..This series started out as an exploration of our very real solar system, under very real circumstances. Solar sails are an economical way of moving about, Reaction engines are a quick way of getting from point “A” to point “B”. The asteroids provide many of the necessary resources to support space based manufacturing from metals to carbon and silicon based rocks, with various forms of ice including water and methane that a robust economy is possible without having to “lift” everything from Earth..That is the general background I have developed this story around. Can people really live on Mercury? Probably in the polar regions and by migrating to stay on the dark side. Mercury experiences one day every two of it’s years. (88 Earth days each.) the temperature range at the poles varies between -280 degrees F at night to 800 degrees F during the day cycle. .So far is has been fun developing the various climates and conditions as functional environments for exploration and resource development. All in all I’m excited about the possibilities for developing workable space exploration projects to answer the classic sci-fi question.. What if?

Story Summary:

At the beginning of the third decade of the 22nd Century mankind is moving into the solar system forced by the necessity of providing resources for twenty billion people. Resource acquisition and processing has moved off Earth in order to free up land for food production and for recuperation, relaxation and education areas for spacers after a tour of duty, Human beings could not spend all their lives in micro-gravity environments. Provision had to be made for space workers to spend time in normal gravity conditions for health reasons.

Besides, most items could be more economically produced in space, even the fungal “synth” foods. Moving products from space to Earth was much more economical than moving people and material off Earth. And wages for space workers were attractive enough to encourage tens of thousands to apply each year for duty off-Earth.

From the frigid polar areas of Mercury to the orbital stations around Earth and Mars, to the vast emptiness of the Asteroid Belt’s mining stations, and beyond, people were willing to leave the relative safety of Earth and risk their lives attempting to wrest fortunes from the cold dark rocks of the “Belt” to retire on. And like any “gold rush” environment people supplying the logistical support for the miners were making fortunes too.

The Space Authority was now Earth’s governing body.The “SA” provided transport and training for those with the education and physical stamina to qualify. Not all those accepted proved able to complete the training for various reasons. Some didn’t survive the training at all. It was dangerous work, dangerous training, and accidents did happen. The Authorities’ representatives in space were the Navy and the Marines who functioned as a combined Coast Guard and police force.

The Space Authority maintained the seat of government at Lunar Base One, located in the starkly harsh Mount D’Alembert range of the Moon. The Navy had chosen the site for its psychological impact. It had scenic vistas that constantly reminded the legislators, administrators and bureaucrats of the government living there that everyone in space depended on others acting responsibly.

This is the story of one group of trainees as they learn to work together and face the challenges of working and living off Earth.Starting with Randal Stewart, who wants to train as an engineer. Born and raised in Vermont this will be his first experience with space. Baljit Singh,one of very few Sikhs to take training as a spacer. Siobahn Caruso, a white-hat hacker since she was 14. Hanna Dunstan, headed to the Navy as a career. Umra Mailu, from the central highlands of Kenya, who is seeking adventure with the Marines. And finally, there is Art Simmonds, an avid surfer looking for business opportunities to make a career.

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New Giveaway…Campfire Tales of the Greart North Woods, Large Print Edition

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This is my most popular book to date, so I’m giving away a copy to celebrate. Try your luck here: Hard Copy version, Large Print Edition Campfire Tales of the Great North Woods

About my recent posts…

I am still working on the third installment of  by Science Fiction Series, The Pathfinders, but I find an occasional need to write something else. When I stall out I have found it best to just write something different to clear the cobwebs my brain seems so capable of developing… i.e. a sticky tangled mass that too much gets caught up in.

One of the first things that I learned about myself as a writer is that the first draft is ALWAYS too complicated. Keeping things simple is a challenge best met by walking away and cooling  off a bit before dragging paragraphs and chapters to the trash bin of entropy.

By way of explanation the Indian Stream Republic series which I an currently creating as a diversion, was an independent republic which existed for a couple of years in the extreme northern area of New Hampshire, born of a border dispute between the United States and Canada.

While the main characters are completely fictional, some characters are of real people fictionally presented, playing parts that they actually played. General John Stark is one such character. This tale starts during the Seven Years War that terminated the French and Indian Wars and allowed the first settlers, (some of whom were my ancestors), to begin moving into the general area. Town and place names can be confusing because they often changed with the Grant holders. For instance Preston became Cockburn Town and was finally renamed Columbia as a result of a patriotic surge, at the time of the war of 1812.

Part of my goal here is to present colonial life the way it was. Settling new land was a hard and dangerous business. Those hardships created a tough, stubborn group of individualists, which is why I find the Indian Stream Republic so interesting. As always comments and questions are welcomed.

 

Tales from the Indian Stream Republic: Jean LeCleric

Note: This is part of the  Indian Stream Series.

~~~~~~~~~

Jean LeCleric

 

After Christmas, Enoch Hapgood and his two brothers started getting out logs for the mill. Winter was the best time for logging as the frozen ground made moving the logs easier on the horses. There were days it was just too cold to work outside but mostly they worked hard enough to keep warm. They trimmed the logs in the woods where they fell, salvaging the heavier branches for firewood. The brushy tops of hardwood trees they left in the woods to attract deer who fed on the tender tips of the branches. This meant fresh meat and hides to turn into buckskin for clothes, boots and mittens. Scrapping hides was good indoor work for the bitter cold days of January.

The middle of January saw a bit of a thaw and the temperature rose to almost freezing, It felt almost like spring. The brothers had been getting out some brown ash logs. Sam and Isiah had hooked up a “twitch” of three logs and were hauling them back to their log yard. Enoch had spotted a big beech tree and decided that it never hurt to have some beech on hand. Bowls, and eating utensils and cutting boards made of beech imparted no flavor to the food and were often sought after. The trouble with beech was that it was a very difficult wood to dry. It tended to crack and split if you looked at it cross-eyed. Small items could be dried successfully with care as less stress developed in small pieces.

Enoch made the first cut with a saw, then proceeded to notch the tree by cutting the wood above the cut with his axe. With that done he started the final cut above the notch and had just placed a falling wedge in the saw cut and started tapping it in when a bit of breeze caught the top of the tree and with a loud crack the frozen tree started to fall. Enoch stepped back along the path he had cleared when suddenly the falling tree caught the top of it’s neighbor and twisted enough for the brittle wood to snap off the stump completely. Enoch had just time enough to start a jump when his foot slipped. For the rest of his life he would never forget the sense of slow motion as the massive beech log came at him, catching him below his left arm and above the waist and threw him twenty feet through the air into nearby maple tree.

When he came to he hurt all over, and a stranger was feeling his neck for a pulse. He was short, broad-shouldered, with straight brown hair covered by a woolen cap, a full beard and concerned blue eyes.

“Be at ease, it seems that you will live after all,” the man said with a thick French accent.

French! Enoch glared and started. Oh Lord in Heaven how it hurt to breathe. Even after word of peace between France and England had spread slowly through the Northwoods it was hard being at the mercy of his long-hated enemy.

“Ah, mon ami, our kings have said we are all Anglais now. I mean you no harm. My name is Jean LeCleric, how may I help you?”

Enoch did not want any French help, but it was late and night would be too cold to survive alone and injured.

“Help me stand then.”

“Bon! If you can stand that will be well. I will help.”

Enoch took the Frenchman’s offered hand, held his breath, clenched his teeth and pulled himself up. He refused to make a sound. He wasn’t going to show any weakness in front of this enemy of his people. This enemy who was staring him straight in the eye and nodding.

“I think I myself would have wanted to groan just then. I too have felt the kiss of a tree. How many ribs did she break?”

Enoch thought for a moment as he took inventory of the pain. “Three I think.”

“I myself would look for a less aggressive lover M’sieur?”

“Excuse me Mr. LeCleric, my manners are lacking. I am Enoch Hapgood, I live just down stream from here. Thank you for helping me stand.”

“Ah, m’sieur, any manners good or less so, are better than what might have been eh? I will walk along with you if you will permit me? A fall so soon would not see you home this night I think.”

The words came hard. “Thank you, that would probably be best. About three-quarters of a mile down this valley.”

Jean LeCleric studied Enoch for a brief time and nodded. “If you will permit me I will carry your rifle, saw and axe. There is no reason to leave them for the porcupine to chew. And if you like I can wrap you with a rope to make breathing easier, It seemed to help me when I had the same problem.”

Enoch took a breath and nodded.

The rugged little French man opened his pack a pulled out a length of rope. He shook it out and folded it in half. “Here hold this middle section above your chest. He then passed the doubled rope around Enoch’s chest three times and said, “let your breath out and don’t breathe in.”

He made several more tight passes before pushing the two ends of the rope through the loop that Enoch was holding. Pulling gently, he tied off the loosed ends against the loop. “Better?”

Enoch nodded and tried a breath. “Yes, better, thank you again.”

“M’sieur Hapgood, if you would lean on my left shoulder, it would save the time to cut a stick to lean on…”

Enoch nodded, “Follow the horse trail.”

LeCleric was talkative on the trip down the valley. He was a fur trader looking to buy beaver, mink and martin pelts to sell in Sherbrooke which was closer than Concord and had an established fur market for export to Europe. He inquired if any one in the area did any trapping and if they did would they be willing to sell? For Spanish silver?

Enoch considered this information, said, “maybe,” and thought carefully while LeCleric chattered on. The man apparently had little use for governments in general but held the provincial governor of Quebec in particularly low regard… Fur trader is probably a loose term… Smuggler is probably more like it, as the Governor of Quebec has his finger in everybody’s pie, just as Wentworth and his friends do here. But if this fur trader is paying cash money that would make a big difference to many here… And he is right, the war is over and we’ve all just one king now… Best to see what Adele thinks. She’s got good sense about things like this and we are in this together.

“Jean, the farm is around the next corner. When we get there, I’d be honored if you would take supper with us and spend the night by our fire. It’s a small place but we can make room for you. It’s small enough thanks, but I will ask around the settlement to see if any are interested in selling some pelts.”

“Bon! I think this day ends better than either of us thought an hour ago eh?”

~~~~~~~~~~

The next morning, Sam and Isiah took the Belgians to retrieve the Beech log and pick up a couple more ash logs. While they were gone, Enoch, Adele, and Jean LeCleric had a discussion.  Adele instantly understood the possibilities that the LeCleric presented, and the potential problems.

“Mr. LeCleric forgive me for seeming a bit blunt, but I need to understand some points about your business. It seems to me that what you are doing is smuggling furs into Quebec to avoid certain taxes. I will not see my friends and family put at risk. We have too much to lose.”

“M’dame Hapgood,” LeCleric began with a smile, “It is not illegal for you to sell me anything I might wish to purchase. and Spanish silver is common everywhere. How can you be at risk? What I do when I leave here has nothing to do with you, your friends or your family, eh?” I admit I have some risk at the border, but that is many miles from here and it is all my own. And the border is very… uncertain as they say. Neither the beaver nor the mink speak French or English, is that not so? So, who is to say where the furs come from. Besides the men watching the border are not, how you say, interested?”

Adele smiled, “Good that is what I hoped to hear from you. Enoch, entertain our guest. I am going to visit some friends and see how interested they are in selling pelts. I will be back by dark.”

“But, M’dame…” LeCleric was obviously flustered, “you are… you…” and he used his hands to indicate her growing bump.

“Yes Mr. LeCleric, I am pregnant. And I will still be pregnant in a few hours no matter what I do. The trails are clear and the weather will hold. I am just visiting three neighbors and returning here, I do this every week. They in turn will visit others and in two days there will be a meeting here. Isn’t that what you want?”

“Mais oui, Madame. But yes.”

After Adele left Jean looked at Enoch, “Are all English women like her M’sieur?”

Enoch shook his head, “Very few Jean, very few.”

~~~~~~~~~

The next day Jean went back to his camp on the mountain and returned with his equipment which included his tent, snowshoes, a wide flat sled with a curved front edge and a few beaver pelts.

Two days later, Jean headed back to Quebec with over four-hundred pounds of mixed beaver, muskrat, martin and  mink pelts of his sled, and another hundred pounds in his back pack.

The population of Preston’s Grant had sufficient coin to pay their rents, taxes and enough left over to plan on a trip south to buy badly needed supplies.

Jean LeCleric was welcome back anytime.

Campfire Tale from the Indian Stream Republic

Enoch Hapgood, having served with Major Robert Rodgers during the Seven Years War against the French with their Abenaki allies, was sick of the British army.  He had volunteered for the rangers in 1759, just in time to chase the French out of their Fortress, Carillon, which the English called Ticonderoga, on Lake Champlain and the subsequent raid on the Indian village of Saint Francis in Quebec.

The next year they transferred to the western frontier under Brigadier General Robert Monckton. They were active in clearing the French from Fort Detroit, but the arrogance of some of the British officers was beginning to wear thin with the men from New Hampshire.

He was more than ready to accept a discharge in the spring of 1761. The raid on St. Francis had removed any illusions about the capability and competency of British officers.

The last two years of duty on the western frontier seemed to have removed the threat from France to their families. If it hadn’t been for some of the provincial officers, such as Captain John Stark and Ensign Nathaniel Hutchins, also from New Hampshire, Enoch would probably have left sooner, if somewhat more informally.

Captain Stark decided to arrange for Enoch’s discharge after he saw him adding salt to the boot polish he was using to shine a British officer’s boots. Neither Enoch nor his captain were surprised when a porcupine invaded the officer’s tent that night to chew on his boots. Nor was it any surprise when the officer tripped over the porcupine in the dark…

This event also caused Captain Stark to ponder the likelihood that an event of the previous week, when a skunk had cut loose in another unpopular officer’s tent, had been a truly random event. And that led to the thought that bringing Enoch up on charges would be very bad for morale. In fact it would make him into a hero to the men…

The next day, Captain Stark handed Enoch his discharge papers. Thanking him for his years of service, Captain Stark chuckled and said, “Good times private Hapgood.”

“Sir?” inquired Enoch.

“Oh, I was just thinking of that skunk last week… Nasty bugger, wasn’t he?”

Enoch blushed a bit, and said, “ I suspect someone was a mite careless with a bit of hardtack soaked in the stew… Skunks seem kind of partial to that for a midnight snack… Sir.”

With discharge papers in his pack and a smile on his face Enoch set out for Concord, New Hampshire.  High on his list of things to never do again was having anything to do with the British Army.