St Clair Cemetery, Mt Lebanon, Allegheny Co, PA

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Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The Census Taker's Home!

For all of you who have struggled with reading an old census!! Please
enjoy this "Afternoon Rocking" message by Jan Philpot.

The Census Taker's Home

Ever wonder why those censuses just don't add up sometimes? Well we
all have
"our days" when our world is topsy turvy and effects most everything
happens, and I figure a census taker did too. Of course he might not
realized just how far reaching the effects of his bad day might be…

Well, I'm surely glad to be home, that I am. I tell you another day
this one and I am good mind just to fill them papers out on memory and
be done
with it. Here, put these socks over there next to the fire to dry out,
you? Got down yonder this mornin and everyone in Household 451 through
486 was
gone. Some big shindig going on down there. Good thing the folks in
441 could
tell me who they all was. Here, reckon you could go over some of the
on this here page? Got smeared a bit in the rain. I think you can
cipher most
of it out.

Then them folks down in the holler got suspicious over a census. Said,
derned if they had a point, what difference did it make who they was?
Was them
guvment folks up in Warshington going to come down here to say howdy
do? So
they finally let me write down they last name and first initial, but I
they wuz havin a bit of fun with me when they listed who lived in the
Saw some winkin goin on and I believe I got the same house a youngins
in two
or three places. It been a day, woman. Honey, git that paper out of
mouth,will ya? I worked all day on that thing, and no call to let him
chewin it up.

Went up the river a piece and tried to get that done fore it come a
downpour, but run into trouble there too. Ole Man Jenkins curr dog run
me off and I
tell you, ain't no call to get eat up over such a thing as this. They
ort to
be a limit what a man does for his country. Was lucky man down the
road mostly
knew Jenkins was nigh on sixty years old and was living there with his
and five youngins from his first marriage plus a passel from the
second. We
give em good Christian names. Best be doin something bout this pen. It
out on me halfway through. See you havin trouble too. Johnny! Hand
that here,

And I tell you I would ruther fight grandpap's British than mess with
feller out on the ridge. He got out his shotgun soon as he seen me
comin and I
went t'other direction. Had Jones tell me about him instead, and he
rightly know the feller's first name. said they called him "Squirrel",
and it
was ok just to put that cause wasn't nobody around here claimin him no
and they for sure didn't want the guvment knowin there was any
That coffee done?

Then got over to Smiths, and ole Hoss was in a nervous fit so wasn't no
getting information there. His woman havin another youngin and he
looked like he
could run right through me when I went to askin how many youngins he had
now. Hightailed it out of there, and Miz Hart helped me straighten that
household out. Think we got most of the names straight, and as he has
had a youngin a
year for the last ten, ages purty close too. Now look what Johnny went

I tell you, next time this come around I ain't gonna be no where in
Farmin a heap easier, and I figger there folks round here what can
read and
write and cipher and ain't no good fer nothing else we can spare for
foolishness. Pass me another tater, will you?

Copyright ©2000JanPhilpot

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Tax The Whiskey?

The marshal shows up and wants to serve a warrant. Tempers flare.
Shots are fired. Someone is killed. Preachers say "Listen to your
government." Hard working farmers say, "Unfair taxation!" Wait, this
sounds familiar-- is this now or .........

213 years ago, in a little corner of southwestern Pennsylvania, tempers
flared. Why, that rascal Alexander Hamilton wanted to tax whiskey.
Not only did he want to tax whiskey, he also decided small distillers
had to pay more taxes per gallon than the larger distillers. It seems
his argument was the government needed to raise money to pay off its
debts. Hmmmmmppphhhhh- the locals say.

There were no good roads in the area so the farmers took their excess
grain and distilled it. Distilling it made it easier to transport down
the river to where it could be sold or bartered. The Rev. John McMillan
preached obedience to his congregations. These farmers, many of them
Scot-Irish who had just fought to rid the land of the tyranny of unfair
taxes, just couldn't believe Hamilton's audacity. They had just
assisted their neighbors in declaring and fighting for independence--
and now--- this! Unbelievable. These same men had little hard cold
cash. They used whiskey to barter for what they needed. The government
wanted hard cold cash.

The Federal Marshal arrived at the home of Oliver Miller in Allegheny
County, PA, in July 1794 to serve his warrant for the taxes. Several
stories say it was only accidental that a shot was fired, others say it
was on purpose. The government inspector, who lived in the
neighborhood, had his barn burned. Men were killed- on both sides.
President George Washington called out the troops, some 13,000 of them
to squelch the rebellion. Interesting fact is the troops could only
find 20 or so of the rebels. Plenty has been written on the Whiskey
Rebellion and I invite you to read some of the stories.

This story took on life for me as I was looking at wills one day in
Washington County, PA. Ta da! I found the evidence I needed. Yes, my
John HENRY had been married twice, as some histories proclaim. Yes, I
found the will of his father-in-law, John SMITH. And, I found the
names of the children of John SMITH. One was Mary MILLER, the wife of
James MILLER. So who was he? Further investigation revealed he was
the son of Oliver MILLER, the man on whose farm the first shot of the
Whiskey Rebellion was fired. Wow! So I launched my investigation into
the MILLER family to learn more of the rebellion. It's really quite
interesting. For me, it opened new doors.

Since that day, I have visited the museum homestead of Oliver MILLER,
which stands today in its original location in a beautiful park named
South Park in Allegheny Co. We also had the pleasure of having the
home opened to us for our own tour. To sit, stand and walk in the
rooms that my 3g and 4g grandparents did resulted in a powerful feeling
of family for me. What joy and sadness those rooms could tell, and my
bones could feel it all.

It's wonderful- digging into the past. I'll take them all: immigrants
of old, American Revolution Patriots, Whiskey Rebellion participants,
hard working men and women who shaped this country and me.