The testimony of Richard Townsend, shewing the providential hand of God, to him and others, from the first settlement of Pennsylvania, to this day. (About the year 1727.)
To that end, in the year 1682 several ships being provided, I found a concern on my mind to embark with them, with my wife and child; and about the latter end of the Sixth-month, having settled my affairs in London, where I dwelt, I went, on board the ship Welcome, Robert Greenaway, commander, in company with my worthy friend, William Penn; whose good conversation was very advantageous to all the company. His singular care was manifested, in contributing to the necessities of many, who were sick of the Small-pox, then on board; out of which company about thirty died.—After a prosperous passage of about two months, having had, in that time, many good meetings, on board, we arrived here.
At our arrival, we found it a wilderness; the chief inhabitants were Indians, and some Swedes; who received us in a friendly manner: and though there was a great number of us, the good hand of Providence was seen in a particular manner; in that provisions were found for us, by the Swedes and Indians, at very reasonable rates, as well as brought from divers other parts, that were inhabited before.
Our first concern was to keep up and maintain our religious worship; and, in order thereunto, we had several meetings, in the houses of the inhabitants; and one boarded meeting-house was set up, where the city was to be, near Delaware; and, as we had nothing but love and good-will, in our hearts, one to another, we had very comfortable meetings, from time to time; and after our meeting was over, we assisted each other, in building little houses, for our shelter.
After some time I set up a mill, on Chester creek; which I brought ready framed from London; which served for grinding of corn, and sawing of boards; and was of great use to us. Besides, I, with Joshua Tittery, made a net, and caught great quantities of fish; which supplied ourselves and many others; so that, notwithstanding it was thought near three thousand persons came in the first year, we were so providentially provided for, that we could buy a deer for about two shillings, and a large turkey, for about one shilling, and Indian corn for about two shillings and six pence per bushel.
And, as our worthy Proprietor treated the Indians with extraordinary humanity, they became very civil and loving to us, and brought in abundance of venison. As, in other countries, the Indians were exasperated by hard treatment, which hath been the foundation of much bloodshed, so the contrary treatment here hath produced their love and affection.
About a year after our arrival, there came in about twenty families from high and low Germany, of religious, good people; who settled about six miles from Philadelphia, and called the place Germantown.—The country continually increasing, people began to spread themselves further back.—Also a place called North Wales, was settled by many of the ancient Britons, an honest inclined people, although they had not then made a profession of the truth, as held by us, yet, in a little time, a large convincement was among them; and divers meeting-houses were built.
About the time, in which Germantown was laid out, I settled upon my tract of land, which I had purchased of the Proprietor, in England, about a mile from thence; where I set up a house and a corn mill;—which was very useful to the country, for several miles round:—But there not being plenty of horses, people generally brought their corn on their backs many miles;—I remember one man had a bull so gentle, that he used to bring his corn on him, instead of a horse.
Being now settled about six or seven miles from Philadelphia, where leaving the principal body of friends, together with the chief place of provisions, as before mentioned, flesh meat was very scarce with me, for some time; of which I found the want. I remember I was once supplied by a particular instance of Providence, in the following manner:—
As I was in my meadow, mowing grass, a young deer came and looked on me; I continued mowing, and the deer in the same attention to me; upon which I laid down my scythe, and went towards him; upon which he ran off a small distance; I went to my work again, and the Deer continued looking on me; so that several times I left my work, to go towards him; but he still kept himself at a distance; at last, as I was going towards him, and he, looking on me, did not mind his steps, but ran forceably against the trunk of a tree, and stunned himself so much, that he fell; upon which I ran forward, and, getting upon him, held him by the legs:—After a great struggle, in which I had almost tired him out, and rendered him lifeless, I threw him on my shoulders, holding him fast by the legs, and, with some difficulty, from his fresh struggling, carried him home, about a quarter of a mile, to my house; where, by the assistance of a neighbour, who happened to be there, and killed him for me; he proved very serviceable to my family. I could relate several other acts of Providence, of this kind, but omit them for brevity.
As people began to spread, and improve their lands, the country became more fruitful; so that those, who came after us, were plentifully supplied; and with what we abounded we began a small trade abroad. And as Philadelphia increased, vessels were built, and many employed. Both country and trade have been wonderfully increasing to this day; so that, from a wilderness, the Lord, by his good hand of providence, hath made it a fruitful field:—On which to look back, and observe all the steps, would exceed my present purpose; yet, being now in the eighty-fourth year of my age, and having been in this country near forty-six years, and my memory pretty clear, concerning the rise and progress of the province, I can do no less than return praises to the Almighty, when I look back and consider his bountiful hand, not only in temporals, but in the great increase of our meetings; wherein he hath many times manifested his great loving kindness, in reaching to, and convincing many persons of the principles of truth; and those, that were already convinced and continued faithful, were not only blessed with plenty of the fruits of the earth, but also with the dew of Heaven:—I am engaged, in my spirit, to supplicate the continuance thereof to the present rising generation; that, as God hath blessed their parents, the same blessing may remain on their offspring, to the end of time; that it may be so is the hearty desire and prayer of their ancient and loving friend,