Yumpu_Catalogue_Peacemaking

galeriekerstan

Jacob Beyerly. A woman was found with a chain draped around her neck, a man

with a tomahawk, freshly inscribed with English initials, sunk in his skull

like a log. Bierly is the name of the lawyer who filed papers for my

divorce.

About to swing his ax into a tree, Hannes Miller—three of his children

married Speichers—was shot by an Indian. He was called Wounded Hannes,

Crippled John, or Indian John until his death in Somerset. Some insist they

can hear old trees shriek the instant an ax hits. The Northkill Amish moved

west, seeking more and better land. I live near fields some of them farmed.

By the 1850s, ridges around here were bare, trees baked into charcoal to

fuel the iron furnaces.

In 1955, my father, driving a feed truck for the Belleville Flour Mill,

lost his brakes on Nittany Ridge. He shifted down, laid on the horn, flew

off Centre Hall Mountain, thick with hemlock and rhododendron, and blared

through Pleasant Gap without incident.

In the ten miles I drive to work, I pass three prisons. The oldest opened

in 1915, the year M. G. Brumbaugh became the last ordained pacifist

governor of Pennsylvania. At Rockview, called the Honor Farm, inmates

learned to prune apple trees and tend a Victorian glasshouse. I have seen

guards on horseback beside dark-skinned prisoners swinging scythes in the

ditch along Benner Pike.

In 1939, my great grandfather was killed by a tree that fell the wrong way

when he was logging on Jack’s Mountain. Around that time, the Klan in

Pleasant Gap prevented white Catholics from building a high school in

Bellefonte.

Behind Rockview Prison, in a copse of hemlocks at the foot of the Nittany

Ridge, an electric chair sits in a former field hospital. By the year I was

born, the state had electrocuted 350 people there. Since then, three more

died by lethal injection. The Dunkers never forgave Governor Brumbaugh for

calling the National Guard to shoot strikers in Pittsburgh or for calling

the Pennsylvania militia to arms during the First World War.

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