Here’s an interesting story forwarded by a reader from 1898 that was published in the Bucks County Gazette.
The Little Wanderer
Alice Rachel Peck, aged 3 years and four months, wandered away from her home in Burn’s Valley, Thursday, August 25th, 1898, in search for her mother, who went on an errand. The little girl traveled an old and unused bark road, climbed over a high and very rough mountain and there, worn out with hunger and without bonnet or shoes, for three days and night had nothing to eat but a few huckleberries, while friends and neighbors were diligently searching for her or her remains.
She was found on Sunday morning, August 28th at half-past seven o’clock, by William Bair, sound and well. She neither smiled nor cried as two hundred voices rang out the glad tidings of great joy, five miles from her home, in the mountains.
While her parents were in great agony at home, they were soon relieved when hearing the many voices and trumpets, proclaiming that the lost had been found. On the same morning, the child was found and in the same vicinity, from 8 until half-past 11 o’clock, 13 rattlers, 2 vipers and 2 copperheads were killed.
All returned happily, but some were very near worn out. The majority of those who participated in the child hunt saved their canes as relics of the day.
The reader Marc H. then writes:
This is a copy of an old newspaper article. A friend posted this on a community Facebook page we belong to. My brother-in-law had told me a longer version several years ago. The news clip seemed shorter than his version. He now lives in Burns Valley, Pa. which is just off Rt. 274 northeast of Doylesburg Pa.
His grandmother was Alice’s younger sister. The reporter makes it sound like a light-hearted adventure. They were picking berries with a group. Her mother left and went back to the house for some reason. When she came back, the group had thought that the girl had been with her mother. She had her shoes and bonnet when last seen. The area hasn’t changed much since then. It has basic Pa. mountain terrain with enough dirt between the boulders and rocks to grow trees and mountain laurel. You have to crawl under or walk on top of it. Her uncle wasn’t buying she traveled to where they found her on her own.
Alice was asked how she got over those big rocks. She told him “the big black man helped her.” That’s all she could tell him. If it had been a black man in that area back then, he would have been well-known by the residents.
One other story I’ve been told from that time period. Not much in detail. A family from the Doylesburg, Pa area would visit relatives in the Fort Loudon, Pa & Burnt Cabins, Pa area (Franklin County, Pa) in the fall for a few days and help butcher. On one of the visits, the morning they were leaving, one man decided to stay and help with some things and walk home later. His walk home took longer than expected. They wanted him to stay as he’d have to walk the mountain in the dark (The Tuscarora Trail now). Saying the wolf would get him. He wanted to get home and said if they loaned him a hayfork he would be OK. He took the fork and starting on his way. Later his mutilated remains were found along the path, with the fork nearby. Marc H.