I am still cataloging the Welles collection here at the Luzerne County Historical Society. This week, I came upon interesting information concerning to the Hollenback family, particularly Matthias Hollenback. Matthias Hollenback, born in 1752 and died in 1829, was the great-uncle of Stella (Hollenback) Welles. There is a document in the collection, written by one of Hollenback’s nieces or nephews, about the life of Matthias Hollenback. The document discusses about Hollenback’s time in the army, his settlement in Wilkes-Barre and his experience of the Wyoming Massacre. Hollenback came to the Wyoming Valley from Lebanon county in 1769, when he was a teenager. He became a merchant shortly after and settled in Wilkes-Barre around the public square. There Hollenback built his store that sold necessities, such as groceries and a home above it. The building was burned down shortly after the Wyoming Massacre. Afterwards, Hollenback would travel out of Pennsylvania and settle in other places. However, after a short time he missed the Wyoming Valley and returned.
Throughout most of his life, Matthias Hollenback had many encounters with Native Americans, some of the accounts unpleasant and others not. For instance, Hollenback discussed the events after the Wyoming Massacre and notes that while he was fleeing the battle, the Indians located him in the river and tried to kill him. Additionally, Hollenback came across Indians who robbed many individuals in the Wyoming Valley and attempted to stop them. On the other hand, Hollenback spoke of an instance at Seneca Lake, New York, where an experience with the Indians ended positively. Hollenback went to New York to establish a small number of stores near Seneca Lake and trade with the Indians. One day Hollenback and a group of other men went to Seneca Lake to make a trade for goods, however the Indians assumed that they planned to steal their land. Thus, the Indians took them prisoner and inspected their saddles. Hollenback stated that the Indians would have killed them if one of them had a compass. I thought this was interesting because I do not understand why the Indians would kill them for a compass. Nevertheless, Hollenback and the other men were let go after he explained to the Indian chief their peaceful intentions, which led to a fur-trade agreement. I am glad I came across this document because of its interesting account on the Wyoming Massacre and the quarrel with the Indians.