A trip down Bear Swamp's memory lane

This is the time to walk in woods, especially if there is a fine rain to quiet things down and you can walk right up to wildlife. However, last month was great if you wanted to explore as no foliage was in way and everything was flattened out in the woods. I wandered around Bear Swamp in mid April and visited the farms of my ancestors.

It is still hard to imagine how they lived up there after their arrival from Ireland, but it was far better than facing the famine they left behind. The old stone fences run through the woods marking their fields. To build these fences and clear the land must have been beyond what I would think of doing today. I don't even mow my own lawn.

It is sometimes not as easy to find remains of the various homes. All that exist are ruins of a stone cellar, which in most cases have fallen. They are like a mausoleum of memories of past generations. The soil was not very good and was cheap but that was all they could afford. There were prior owners starting with Revolutionary War grants so that some of the swamp had already been cleared. No power lines would have been around to blight the view, and there have been a dirt path for a road and that is still there.

The Wilcox family was on Ridge Road prior to the Civil War and the Wilcox Cemetery is on their farm. I recall my grandfather telling the story of Henry Wilcox, the drummer boy that lost his life in that war and is buried in the family plot. Someone places an American flag on this site every year.

I have told many stories of the swamp, but it is something else to go alone in the quiet and stand on the stone foundations in the woods and try to imagine how they lived. You can ask yourself a lot of questions, but can only use your imagination about how they survived a winter, or at all.

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