A ghost appeared at some activities celebrating the Bath Bicentennial
and hung around awhile. Said his name was Heinrich or Reinhold or something
like that. He did a bunch more talking before he left. So John Rezelman
claims. According to John, what follows here are his exact ghostly words:
"People used to ask 'How do you get to Bath?' and the usual answer
was 'You take Route 15.' Now they call it 415 here, but I call it 'The
Williamson Road.' I know plenty about it—cut that path, opened
it up from the woods the very first time. Stand you still a minute and
I'll tell you how it was.
"This Dr. Berezy, he got a bunch of us together in Germany in 1792,
two hundred of us in families, with women and children, and he said
'I'll take you to the Genesee Country; there is good land cheap, all
you want and you can have a good life.' Well, we couldn't have been
much poorer in Germany than we were and it sounded pretty good, so we
said 'Ja, we'll go.' We got on a ship in Hamburg and crossed the water,
then we went to a place, Northumberland, Pennsylvania, where we met
Colonel Williamson. We startled him. I saw him suck in his breath and
shake his head when he first saw us. But he was a fast-thinking, fast-talking
salesman. He recovered himself quick and went to telling how good it
would be for us when we got to this Genesee place, how nice the land
was and so rich. We walked a ways up this creek and we said 'Where is
the road?' He said 'Right in front of you, you're looking at it, You're
going to cut it.'
"All there was there was dark, dark woods, big grossen trees. I took
one look and, ach, how I wished 1was back in Germany. But we had nothing,
not even one day's food. What could we do?
"In charge of us they put Ben Patterson who was a hunter and guide.
He spoke German. To help him he had seven young men like him. They were
rough, like wild men, and there was nothing they couldn't do in those
woods. I got to say this for Patterson: There was never one day we didn't
have plenty of the best deer meat to eat. That was a good thing, the
way we had to work.
"The axes they gave us to use, you should have seen those things. Nine
pounds they weighed. Never in Germany did we work with anything like
that. Swing one for an hour and at first you could hardly lift it then.
They laughed at us, 'You don't chop good,' they said, 'your stumps look
like they was cut by beavers.' That was what they called this animal
that cut trees. Well, maybe so, but we did cut trees and every day we
cleared a little farther.
"Oh, it was schwehr arbeit in those woods—all kinds
of bugs swarmed around us and bit and stung, and those ugly snakes—whirrrrr!
They bit three or four of the children and them poor little fellows
all swole up and turned black and was sick a long time. One of them
"Day after day we worked like that. We moved ahead, but it never got
any better. Finally we said, 'This is no good. We will end up dead in
here. Better we do what you now call "go out on strike."' We told Ben
Patterson. He backed himself up against a tree and pulled out his tomahawk.
'You get back to work damn quick,' he yelled, 'or I will kill every
man of you.' He was rubbing his thumb on the edge of that tomahawk while
he hollered. We had seen what he could do with that thing. We didn't
say anything for a short minute. Then we went back to work.
"It came October and we was yet in Pennsylvania, down below what is
now Mansfield, they call it Canoe Camp. We ran out of flour and we ran
out of coffee and we thought we would just lay down and die for sure,
right there. Patterson yelled awful and threatened us, but this time
he couldn't move us. We just didn't care. So he left deer meat for us
and said he and his men would go to Painted Post and bring back boats
to take us there. They left. After a while they came back up that Tioga
"When we saw those boats we felt worse than ever. They was little skinny
things made out of tree bark and we didn't want to get in them. The
only thing worse was to wait for what Patterson would do if we didn't,
we knew that already. So we got in. Gott in Himmel, what a
ride we had! We kept our eyes shut half the time and why nobody died
from fright I don't know; we was scared enough. Down the Tioga we raced
and finally we came out on quiet water where was the Painted Post. There
was flour and coffee and cabins and beds and it seemed just like heaven.
We rested a few days and then we felt better.
"It was getting late, winter coming, so Patterson took only the strongest
men, I was one of them, and we cut to Dansville by December. On the
way we went through a place they called the Pine Plains. They said 'This
will soon be Bath.' Hah! Some Bath! It was nothing but some big rock
cliffs and woods and more woods, nothing but woods. Us strong ones,
we kept on cutting all winter while the rest of us stayed at Painted
"Come spring they come back with us and we finished cutting and reached
that Genesee Country. They gave us some land all right. But we wasn't
farmers, really. We was city people, tradesmen. We didn't know what
to do with land and how to do it, so it all come to nothing in the end—except
"Now I want you, when you travel Route 415, to think of us and how
we made that road once. Now I got to go—danke for listening.
Next thing, he was gone. Rezelman observes that it is noteworthy how
closely his account checks, for a first-person story, with that of Guy
McMaster covering the same episode.