Friday, March 6, 2015

Martha McAntier (McIntire) 1733? - 1785(?)

Early in the 1700s, many citizens of Ireland found their rents greatly increased when the leases they had held for generations ran out. Rather than pay these exorbitant rents, many decided to emigrate to America where they could own their own land. They risked the dangers of an ocean crossing, and the hardship of creating a new home in a wilderness. But undaunted, they headed west.

Often friends and neighbors emigrated in groups together. One such group lived in the rolling hills of Dromore, County Down in the northern part of the country. When they landed in Philadelphia, the government of the Penn family welcomed them and granted them land in a wilderness beyond the neat houses and fertile fields near the border with Maryland.

Previously, the pioneers moving into this new area were Mennonites and Quakers. The government feared that these pacifist people wouldn't fight incursions across the border from Catholic Maryland. They knew the Irish would. So the Dromore immigrants were granted land, and immediately moved across the settled parts of the state into the wilderness. In 1729, this new territory became the new county of Lancaster.

The Dromore immigrants found this new land rich for farming, and set about creating new homes in their new land. They named their new town, Drumore to honor and remember their own native home in Ireland. It was here in Drumore that Martha McAntier was born around 1733. For her, this new land would always be home.

The names of her parents has been lost. But she was certainly born in a log cabin, the creation of which was one of the first imperatives for the immigrants. The Irish homes were built on the tops of the rolling hills, as the timber was less dense there, and they could view the lovely rolling land that they actually owned.
Pennsylvania Log Cabin

In order to clear land, and keep the family fed, clothed and sheltered, everyone had to work, even children barely able to walk. Easy jobs like gathering acorns every fall in the woods to feed the pigs were assigned her. The Irish stocked their farms in a careful sequence. First were oxen and horses to make clearing their fields possible. Then they bought cows and sheep. Finally hogs were added to the family livestock. The fact that the McAntiers had already acquired pigs is probably proof that the newcomers had in a few short years been able to establish themselves in their new country.

A.rustic log cabin provided Martha's first home. Within a few years, the McAntiers build a new house of stone. This was the home that Martha would remember.
Robert Fulton House, Near the Black Farm

Religion was an important part of the lives of these Presbyterian families. The people of Drumore built their first church at a place called Chestnut Level. Every Sunday, families would gather there, bundled up against the  cold to attend services that often lasted for several hours.

There were dangers in this new land as well. The local Indians were peaceful, but the raiders from Maryland were not. Lord Baltimore who owned Maryland and the Penn family of Pennsylvania fought over a strip of land that both colonies claimed. When Martha was still a child, Lord Baltimore send a raider into the territory to take money from the new settlers, Lord Baltimore viewed this money as taxes, but the Irish settlers saw the intrusion as a theft. When the dispute was finally settled, the Irish families were safely settled in Pennsylvania, just a short distance from the new border. which would later become the Mason and Dixon line.
Map of Area Disputed in Cresap's War

Martha knew nothing of Ireland. But her life in the new country would be much like that of her parents in the old one. Women were expected to work incredibly hard. When she was still young, Martha was taught to make clothes from the flax they grew on their farm and the fleece from their home flocks of sheep. She wore linen clothes in the summer, wool in the winter. Beyond management of the home, Martha often had to help in the fields to when the her father and the older boys were hunting, When the hunt was successful, Martha joined in cleaning the carcass  and preserving food for use in the winter. In the Irish culture, only men had time to sit about the fire and chat over an evening smoke.

Life didn't change too much for Martha when she married Moses Black. Even bearing children provided little time for rest. Martha and Moses's first child was a boy they named Aaron who was born in 1752. Martha had 6 more children, Margaret in 1754, Jean in the same year, Hugh in 1759, Moses in 1762, Martha in 1765 and Mary in 1767. Before the children were grown, Hugh and Martha could look with satisfaction on clear fields, neatly bounded by split rail fences. Barns and outbuildings surrounded their neat stone house.
Modern Landscape Near Black Farm

Early the year after Mary was born, Martha endured a great personal and financial loss. Moses died on March 8, 1768. Fortunately, Aaron was old enough to assume the work that Moses had done. Margaret and Jean were old enough to help Martha manage her work.

Martha soon met a new immigrant from Ireland, James Laird soon became her second husband She had one last child with her second husband, a son named James in 1771.

This child was not full grown when Martha herself died at the age of 52. When Martha died, the farm that she and Moses had created from a wilderness totalled 200 acres. Hopefully, they were very proud.

Martha McAntier (Black) .Aaron Black > Moses Black > Elizabeth Black (Rippey) > Ada Rippey (Harshaw) > Harold McCloskey Harshaw > Marjorie Harshaw (Robie)

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