Romance Of Quaker Maiden,

Swiss Soldier Had Ceres As Its Locale

By Dorothy Godfrey Wayman

Transcribed By Frankie Stonemetz

Submitted By Geraldine Pfleuger


How a swiss veteran of the Waterloo came to be buried under the pines of Ceres, NY is a romantic story full of history.

Henry Chevalier fell in love with a Quaker maid, Lydia Clendenon, while he was surveying a map of the Susquehanna River route to McKean County, Pa. He was working for John Keating, Philadelphia agent for the Ceres Land Company, a group of Dutch bankers anxious to attract settlers to the wilderness.

He presumably met the maid in Drumore, Pa., but had to complete his map-making before he could follow her to Ceres, where she had moved with her parents. His original sketch map, with the names written in French ad the areas of water done in delicate water colors, descended to Mrs. William C. Ronolder of Olean and has been micro-filmed for the Friends Historical Society at Swarthmore, Pa. 

CHEVALIER was born in the Canton of Neuchatel in Switzerland in 1801, and at the age of 12 years was drafted into Napoleonís Army as a bugler. Napoleon had taken Switzerland under his " protection " in 1802 and drafted 18,000 Swiss for his campaign against Russia.

The young bugler was wounded at the Battle of Leipzig in 1813, and after recovering managed to escape to Holland where he joined the British army and participated in the Battle of Waterloo in 1815.

Napoleonís exile in Elba enabled the Congress of Vienna to restore Switzerlandís freedom, but young Chevalier stayed in Amsterdam to complete his education and thus came in contact with the Dutch bankers of Ceres Land Company, who sent him overseas to John Keating, as a map-maker.

There were less than six houses in Ceres when Lydia Clendenon and her parents, the aging Quaker missionaries to the Seneca Indians, arrived ther in 1826. They came with their furniture in a Conestoga wagon drawn by a pair of horses over the long trail up the Susquehanna River and down the Upper Allegeny River to Oswayo Creek.

Cheif among them were John King who had married Hannah Clendonon in 1816; the Bell and Gilbert families all Quakers who had left England for the wilderness to escape persecution.

The Pennsylvania Assembly had named Ceres March 26, 1804 as the first township set apart in Mckean County, and Governer Thomas McKean personally bought a tract of 300 acres on aa hill now in Annin, and, bequething it to his grandson, descried as "my plantation Mount Equity."

Later as the New York-Pennsylvania state division was officially surveyed, the post office became Ceres, NY and was no longer served by postrider from Jersey Shore, Pa., but from Bolivar, NY.

Abigail Clendenon married Asahel Wright, who was farming John King's land on shares and he and Lydia Clendenon kept the post office and farm accounts on sheets of linen paper sewed into a booklet.

John King, eldest son of the first settler in 1797, was the first postmaster and also land agent for John Keating and the Ceres company, and often had to make long trips to Philadelphia. The settlement in Pennsylvania, which had some five houses as late as 1832, was known as "Glenn, PA."

Lydia Clendenon was the first teacher in the log schoolhouse at Ceres in 1827, and she was the only magnet that could have drawn the Waterloo Veteren to settle in this wilderness hamlet.

In 1832, the Account Book reports "The Bolivar (NY) Post Boy began to feed his horse with hay August 25th." But the Waterloo Veteran was already living in Glenn because on July 12, 1831 is an entry " Henry Chevalier harvest work for John King" and in August " Henry Chevalier 30 successive days mowing hay getting timber for the bridge." Asahel Wright was paid only $22.19 ½ for 27 months "service" so it is not surprising that Henry Chevalier also " taught French" and was agent for a New York City firm to sell land and collect payments.

In 1836 the accounts show that he took in $2, 931 and reported eight new settlers at Glenn.

The Quaker Pioneer missionaries to the Seneca Indians at Quaker Bridge, NY, Robert and Elizabeth Battin Clendenon , in 1826 had retired to Glenn and their son-in-law built them a house. They were aging and feeble now. Robert Clendenon died first and Lydia faithfully nursed her mother several years longer, while Henry Chevalier patiently served as long as Jacob, in the Bible, served for his beloved Rachel.

When Elizabeth Clendenon died, her will left the good daughter, Lydia as her sole heir after the customary year of mourning. Lydia and the Waterloo veteran, in a Quaker ceremony without a clergyman, "took each other in marriage in Ceres Township in the county of McKean in the State of Pennsylvania" on Oct. 9, 1834 in the presence of 16 witnesses who signed the marriage certificate.

In 1840, Henry replaced the old log house and built a frame house, said to have had its living room paneled in cucumber tree wood. He was aided by his brother-in-law Asahel Wright, whom he repaid by aid in farming. In 1886 Henry was named Postmaster at Glenn, Pa.

Hi wife Lydia Clendenon Chevalier, died in 1878. They had three daughters, Cornelia, Marion and Jane.The daughter Marion cared for Henry until his death on Jan. 15, 1892.

The detailed story of the Quakers at Ceres Township, refugees from persucution in England, and of the Swiss Waterloo veterans, are told in two number of Quaker History, quarterly bulletin of the Friends Historical Library at Swarthmore, Pa . Quaker Pioneers in McKean County, Pa. Spring, 1962 and Friends on the Frontier Spring, 1965) both written by Dorothy Godfrey Wayman of the Times Herald staff and exerpted by permission. The original letters and Account Book, owned by Doris Ronolder, wife of fire Captian William C. Ronolder of Olean, who is a descendant , have been preserves on microfilm at the Friends Historical Library at Swarthmore, Pa.

Submitters Notes: 

Cornelia- Mother of my Grandfather (Joan)

Henri Chevalier- Great, great grandfather of Joan

Cornelia (daughter of Henry Chevalier) married Asahel Holocmb.

Back To McKean County

If you have anything of genealogical or historical interest to add to this site, or if you are interested in becoming a member of the Painted Hills Genealogy Society, please contact us at:
Painted Hills

This page is maintained by the PHGS
Last Update January 30, 2020