Over the past few years, I’ve completed a fair amount of research on Isaac Post, one of the most important Founding Fathers of Montrose, Pennsylvania. Maybe the most important. His story continues to fascinate me. I’ve not only written about him, but I actually had a chance to play his brother, David Post, by taking his part in Susquehanna County Historical Society’s cemetery walk last October. This living history project was a huge success, despite the frigid temperatures over the two days that took their toll on the actors and visitors. Incidentally, David and Isaac have large obelisks that mark their graves, which suggest the importance of their roles in the history of Montrose.
More recently, I’ve dug back into my research of Isaac Post, trying to put the pieces of his story together. Fortunately, he left behind a fair amount of his daily journal. Some of the posts are three lines long and mention business or local events in succinct, matter of fact language. Other posts, especially on important days, are much longer and much more inspired. On one Sunday, for example, he writes about speaking with Elder Dimock and attending the funeral of a child. He says of himself that he needs to avoid those addicted to drinking and frequenting the tavern, because he sees the negative effects of alcohol. My favorite line from the journal entry is about his role in the world. He writes, “Enable me heavenly Father to conduct myself in that way that I may not be a stumbling block to others but a guide to those that would wish to be guided in wisdom’s ways.” Such a beautiful sentiment that Isaac expresses on this Sunday. (I wish I knew the exact date, but I’ll add that later to this post.) He seems most inspired, and as some of you know, Isaac’s integrity would continue to be put to the test in the future, for even as a county judge, Isaac helped runaway slaves, breaking the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 by following his conscience—his wisdom—rather than federal law.
I write this all as a prelude to the primary text of this post that happens to be three very inspired paragraphs by Isaac Post’s stepfather, the one who brought him to the “Hinds Settlement,” which later became, Montrose, the county seat of Susquehanna County. Captain Bartlet Hinds fought in the Revolutionary War, especially at some very notable engagements such as the Battle of Stony Point on July 16, 1779, where the Americans recaptured what had become an important British fort in Rockland County, New York. After having discovered just this short passage, I’d estimate that Captain Hinds probably played a significant role in shaping Isaac’s integrity. Someone, whether it was Isaac himself or another, had the wherewithal to save the words of Hinds, adding them to the diary of Isaac Post where I found them a few weeks ago under the title, “From the Papers of Bartlet Hinds.” I share them with you, and I hope you find the same inspiration that makes us united as Americans, especially during this time of such division and tribalism within our country.
From the Papers of Bartlet Hinds
I love to ponder over Revolutionary scenes. Not a period in the history of the past saving that when the meek & lowly lamb of God walked upon these low grounds not having where to lay his head has to me more thrilling incident than the seven years of struggle for freedom in freedom’s holy land America. The world before had talked about freedom, poets had sung its praises. Warriors had drenched hundreds of fields with human blood to attain it, but it was left for Americans to win it and to solve the problem that man was capable of self-government.
Man had in other times nobly struggled to make the few of nations free; then every man for his home, his own natural liberty staked his life, his all. It was a glorious time. Man lifted himself in the zeal of being, shook off the dust of despotism which had covered him for too many ages & stood erect & comely, somewhat as he came from the hands of his maker.
I love to hear tread of Washington & Adams & Hancock & Franklin & Jefferson & Jay and that host whose names are inscribed on the tablet of fame. I love to hear the tale of the old veteran whose name may be lost in the glory of his deeds. And what fought they for? A faith’s pure shrine—“freedom to worship God” as they did in fleeing from the storms of the old world. Happy is he who has heard the story from one of the actors in the scene; I have had that happiness. I have hung with ecstasy upon the lips of one who had stood & struggled where the battle waged warmest and the messengers of death flew thickest around. But the old man has gone to sit down with Abraham & Isaac & Jacob & all that bright throng to count the mercies with them forever.
—Captain Bartlet Hinds
Such a beautiful post, although I wish I knew exactly who “the old man” is that Captain Hinds mentions in this post. ( I also want to note that Captain Hinds sharees the same birthday as me, April 4, which makes me feel especially attached to him. And incidentally, it’s same day that MLK was assassinated, too, which also makes me feel somethng special in connection to these people.) Undoubtedly, I’ll need some more research to clear up the question of “the old man,” but from the sounds of it, I believe he’s referring to George Washington, who died on December 14, 1799—just two years after giving up his presidency. That date is significant, because it’s just before the founding of the Hinds Settlement that later became Montrose. Again, more research is needed, but I’d like to think that Hinds heard the news and, inspired by the sacrifice of his forefathers, decided to set forth his feelings about the Revolutionary War and the quest for both freedom and independent rule.