Agriculture, With A Brief Mention Of Our Domestic Animals.
|are very hardy, insomuch that being very hot with riding or otherwise, they are turned out into the woods at the same instant and yet receive no harm." Robert Rodney, in a letter written in 1690,1 in speaking of the trade of the colony and the articles shipped to the West Indies, mentions horses, "of which we have very good," and also states that "a good breeding mare" is sold for five pounds, in the currency of the province. In 1683 the Assembly had forbidden the exportation of horses or mares without permission, under a fine of ten pounds. Under the Duke's law (1676) the owner of horses which were running at large, as was then the custom, was compelled to have a private brand or mark, and the town(ship) was required to have its brand to be burned on the horses owned by persons living within its boundary, while an officer was designated to register the age, color, and natural and artificial marks of the animal. A person buying or selling an unmarked horse was subject to a fine of ten pounds. In 1683 horses in the woods had so multiplied that an act was passed providing that no stallion under thirteen and a half hands should run at large, under a penalty of five pounds and by act of May 10, 1699, the height was made thirteen hands, and a horse under that size could be taken up and impounded by any freeholder or ranger. While by the act of May 9, 1724, no stallion, unless thirteen hands high from the ground to the wither, reckoning four inches standard measure to one hand, and of a comely proportion, "was permitted to run at large in the woods." During all our colonial history an officer, termed ranger, was appointed by the court to enforce the laws respecting domestic animals, and to impound those found roaming at large unmarked. The office continued until the beginning of this century, for at the January Court of Quarter Sessions, 1804, Joseph Neide, of the borough and township of Chester, was appointed ranger for the county of Delaware. In a letter written by Robert Park, from Chester township, Tenth month, 1725, to Mary Valentine, in Ireland, he desired that a saddle and bridle may be brought to him by his sister, who was about emigrating, and states, "Lett the tree be well Plated & Indifferent Narrow, for the horses here are Large as in Ireland, but the best racers and finest pacers in the World." Horses were not shod until about the middle of the last century.||1 Penna. Mag. of Hist., vol. vi. p. 312.|
Rev. Israel Acrelius, in 1758, mentioned the fleet horses owned by the descendants of the Swedish settlers on the Delaware. The horses were then broken to pace, that being the favorite gait. It was a pacer which bore Squire Cheyney to Gen. Washington on the morning of Sept. 11, 1777, with the intelligence that the bulk of the British army had crossed the Brandywine at the upper ford, and it was a pacer which Jefferson made fast to the railing of the capitol at Washington while he went in and took the oath as President of the United States. In June, 1879, the residents of Chester and vicinity had an opportunity of seeing the pair of dappled-gray Arabian stallions which were presented to Gen. Grant by the Sultan of Turkey. By the personal request of Gen. Beale the animals were sent to this city, and the horses, whose pedigree could be traced more than a thousand years, were viewed while here by a large number of people.
In early days, and in fact until the first decade of this century, cattle, as before stated, ran wild in the woods. Capt. Heinricks, of the British army, in 1778, stated that "perhaps the reason why the domestic animals are not half so good as ours is because they are left out winter and summer in the open air." Gabriel Thomas informs us in the infancy of the province some farmers had "forty, some sixty, and from that number to one or three hundred head of cattle; their oxen usually weigh two hundred pounds a quarter. They are commonly fatter of flesh and yield more tallow (by feeding only on grass) than the cattle in England."
William Worrall stated that before the Revolution the natural meadows and woods were the only pasture for the cattle of Delaware County, "and the butchers from Philadelphia could come out and buy one, two, or three head of cattle from such of the graziers as could spare them, for the supply of the market." To distinguish the cattle of one owner from those belonging to others, the early laws required every person to brand his cattle with his individual mark. Under the Duke of York all horned cattle were to be branded on their horns. After Penn acquired possession of the province the act of 1683 compelled owner to brand their cattle when six months old. In 1685 the time was extended to one year, and in 1690 the age of the stock when it must be branded, or deemed strays, was extended to eighteen months. These brands and marks were regularly entered on record on the docket of the Quarter Sessions. At a court held at Chester, Fifth month 1, 1684, we find "George Maris's cattle mark. A slit on the tip of the near ear, his brand mark G. M." On Sixth month 5, 1684, the record sets forth, "The ear mark of John Blunstone, of Darby, a crop in the near ear and a hole in the farr ear, his brand mark I. B." On 3d day of 1st week, Fourth month, 1686, "John Hannum's ear mark, a crop under slit of both ears, his brand I. H. on the near buttock." While at court 3d day of 1st week, Seventh month, 1686, the record is made of "John Harding's ear mark, a crop on the inside of ye far ear, his brand mark I. H. on the farr buttock." That the cattle did not increase as rapidly as was desired at an early period we inferentially learn from the act of First month, 1683, which interdicted the killing of a cow, calf, or ewe lamb for three years under a fine of five pounds, one-half of which was to go to the informer.
In 1876 the Delaware County American published the recollections of William Sheldon, of Upper Provi-