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Salt and Silver in Tioga Co., PA

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Salt and Silver in Tioga Co., NY
Spring 2000 and Revised: 23 Jan 2000

We found an interesting article posted by John Mitchell at PABRADFO-L@rootsweb.com. We set it out below because of the article's mention of the PRENTISS family.

"Richard Mitchell was born 5 July 1769 in Orange Co. Ny or Orange NJ. He settled in Tioga PA about 1791. At the time of this settlement the the county was a dense wilderness, with few cabins near the junction of the Tioga and Cowanesque Rivers, and perhaps one or two further up the latter stream.

"A letter passed down through the family tells of indians stopping at the Mitchell cabin to borrow kettles while on their way to the salt springs,and would return in a few days with the filled with salt. It was thought that the salt was in the western part of Tioga County, or the eastern part of Potter County.

"On April of 1993 we were at an indian powwow at Silver Springs FL near OCala. I was talking to an indian chief and he said his people gave our people the salt. I asked him to write me the information and he did. I received the letter from Chief Standing Bear of the Susquahannah Indian tribe [Standing Bear Howard,12850 SE. 7th St., Silver Springs, FL 34488]. The letter is as follows:

    The Tioga area was a hunting ground more then a living area. The Susqwahannock Indians were a very spread out Nation. One such band of indians that roamed this area were the Minquass. The salt was a necessary item as well as a high spiritual posession. When a person did a good deed to the indians it was their custom to give something of value in return. The loan of the cooking vesselwas a sign of high trust to the indians and to an indian trust was something hard to come by.

    We must remember how far the indian had to travel to get this salt, and how the salt weighed down the indian on his return trip. At this time there were many trails to this place. One such trail was out of the east. The trail was from Owego, NY, on the Susquahannah River just east of Tioga Co., PA. The people would come up the river to Owego, then follow Owego creek north to Browns Settlement, now Newark Valley. Here the indians would camp south of the settlement.

    At this time a small deposit of SILVER was found by the indians on property owned by the Prentiss Family where the salt trail passed through. In fear the white man would stop them from crossing his land, the indians traded the mine for crossing rights.

      (Note by Prentice Newsletter Editor: We do not know for sure which Prentiss family is referred to, but the earliest known Prentice family in the Newark Valley is that of Joseph Prentice who lived in Berkshire, later called Newark Valley, beginning in 1812. He is 187/30 in our PRENTICE book.)

    Another trail ran from Seeley Creek southeast of Elmira, NY, to Alpine, [a few miles north of Elmira,] then over the mountain to Ithaca [lying a few miles to the northeast], and up the east shore [of Cayuga Lake] to what is known as Myers today. This is where the salt was found.

"I also received a hand made map showing the trails. Hope you enjoyed the story.

"Jack Mitchell Sav. GA. jsmitchell1@worldnet.att.net"

If you have any information about the ancestors or descendants of any of the folks mentioned in this article, please contact us at dewald@prenticenet.com.


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