I TOOK A WALK

ON TUESDAY MORNING, APRIL 8, 2019 I BEGAN A PERSONAL QUEST, (A WALK),  BEGINNING AT THE NATIVE AMERICAN BURIAL SITE MEMORIAL IN POTTSTOWN, WHERE THE REMAINS OF A NATIVE AMERICAN WERE UNEARTHED IN 1859 BY BOROUGH WORKERS CLEARING A SITE ALONG THE BANKS OF THE SCHUYLKILL RIVER.  MY WALK CULMINATED AT THE CONESTOGA INDIAN MASSACRE MEMORIAL MARKER THREE DAYS LATER, IN LANCASTER COUNTY, 57 MILES FROM THE POTTSTOWN SITE. THE CONESTOGA INDIAN TOWN MEMORIAL MARKER  INDICATES THE LOCALE OF THE MASSACRE OF AN INNOCENT PEOPLE.

ON DECEMBER 14, 1763 WHERE A DERELICT VIGILANTE FRONTIER GROUP WHO CAME TO BE KNOWN AS THE PAXTON BOYS, ENTERED A SMALL VILLAGE OF CONESTOGA INDIAN TOWN, POPULATED BY APPROXIMATELY 22 MEN WOMEN AND CHILDREN, AND MASSACRED THE MEMBERS PRESENT ON THAT EARLY MORNING. THE FOURTEEN SURVIVORS WERE SUBSEQUENTLY MASSACRED BY THESE PAXTON BOYS TWO WEEKS LATER WHILE UNDER THE PRESUMED PROTECTION OF LANCASTER OFFICIALS.
THE SITE OF THE MASSACRE IS LOCATED A SHORT DISTANCE FROM THE TOWNSHIP OF CONESTOGA IN LANCASTER COUNTY PENNSYLVANIA AND IS APPROXIMATELY FIFTY SEVEN MILES FROM THE SITE OF OUR MEMORIAL IN POTTSTOWN PENNSYLVANIA.

I FIRST INTENDED THIS WALK TO BE A POWWOW FUND RAISING EFFORT, SEEKING PLEDGES PER MILE OR OUTRIGHT DONATIONS, BUT THAT CHANGED OVER A SHORT PERIOD TO A QUEST OF SORTS, A SPIRIT WALK IF YOU WILL.  AS I PLOTTED MY COURSE FROM ONE MEMORIAL TO THE OTHER, A FRIEND, NIKKI MINNICHBACH, LENT ME A BOOK, “INDIAN PATHS OF PENNSYLVANIA”, AND THIS CHANGED MY ENTIRE INITIATIVE FROM FUND RAISING TO INSIGHT.

FOR THOUSANDS OF YEARS BEFORE THE FIRST ENCOUNTERS WITH EUROPEANS, THE INDIGENOUS PEOPLE OF THIS CONTINENT TRACED PATHS THROUGHOUT THE REGION WE CALL PENNSYLVANIA NOW, AND THESE EARLY “ROADS” WERE LAID OUT INGENIOUSLY.  THEY WERE A SOURCE OF CONTACT BETWEEN SETTLEMENTS, COMMERCE AND TRADE AND ALL NATURE OF TRAVEL BETWEEN COMMUNITIES.  ONE OF THESE PATHS THAT I DISCOVERED IN THIS BOOK WAS CALLED THE FRENCH CREEK PATH.  A PATH THAT ROUGHLY MATCHED THE PATH THAT I HAD SET FOR MY JOURNEY BETWEEN MARKERS.  THE REVELATION I FELT I HAD ENCOUNTERED WHEN I DISCOVERED THIS SIMILARITY WAS ENOUGH TO MAKE ME DETERMINED TO FORGO ANY FUND RAISING THOUGHTS AND TO PURSUE THIS JOURNEY WITH THE SOLE PURPOSE OF ACQUIRING A PERSONAL SPIRITUAL GRATIFICATION, IF ONLY TO MYSELF,  OF JOINING THESE TWO LOCATIONS, FOR THEY SUDDENLY REPRESENTED ONE CERTAIN EXPRESSION TO ME.  I REALIZED THAT THERE WAS SOME, MOR MEANINGFUL SIGNIFICANCE FOR MY TREK.  IT OCCURRED TO ME THAT THE MESSAGE I NOW WANTED TO RELAY IN MY WALK WAS THAT A CONNECTION BETWEEN THE BURIAL SITE IN POTTSTOWN AND THE MASSACRE SITE IN CONESTOGA WAS MORE THAN JUST THE DEATHS OF A PEOPLE.  THE TRUE CONNECTION IS ABOUT THE CONTINUATION OF A PEOPLE.

THE REMAINS THAT WERE UNEARTHED IN 1859 WERE OF AN APPARENTLY IMPORTANT INDIVIDUAL WHO MUST HAVE BEEN OF SOME IMPORTANCE TO THOSE WHO BURIED HIM, BASED ON HIS DRESS AND THE ARTIFACTS LEFT FOR HIM TO TRAVEL TO HIS NEXT JOURNEY.  HE WAS EXHUMED FROM HIS PLACE OF REST, PUT ON DISPLAY ALONG WITH HIS ARTIFACTS AND EVENTUALLY LOST TRACK OF.  THE CIRCUMSTANCES EXPERIENCED IN THE BRUTAL MASSACRE AT THE INDIAN VILLAGE TOWN, (REFERRED TO AS THE MANOR), WAS ENTIRELY DIFFERENT.  THE CONNECTION WAS NOT ABOUT DEATH.  THE REALITY OF THE STORIES SHARED BY THESE TWO LOCATIONS WAS ABOUT THE TREATMENT OF THE NATIVE AMERICAN.  THE EFFORTS TO REMOVE THE INDIGENOUS PEOPLE AND THEIR VERY EXISTENCE FROM THEIR HOMES, THEIR PLACES OF REST, THEIR OWN LANDS, HAS BEEN A CONSISTENT AND PREVALENT EFFORT EVER SINCE THE FIRST ENCOUNTERS AND REGARDLESS OF THE HISTORIC TREATMENT I BELIEVE THAT THE MESSAGE THAT KEPT ME WALKING AND KEPT ME SINGING AS I PURSUED THIS QUEST WAS THE ONE SIMPLE SONG I KEPT RECITING AS I STEPPED OVER THE FIFTY SEVEN MILES AND AS I PRAYED TO THE VICTIMS I CHOSE TO VISIT…'”WE ARE STILL HERE!”