AN ACCOUNT OF THE DISCOVERY OF THE
TRUE SOURCE OF THE MISSISSIPPI,
TOGETHER WITH VIEWS, DESCRIPTIVE AND PICTORIAL OF THE CITIES, TOWNS,
VILLAGES AND SCENERY ON THE BANKS OF THE RIVER, AS SEEN DURING A CANOE VOYAGE OF OVER THREE
THOUSAND MILES FROM ITS HEAD WATERS TO THE GULF OF MEXICO.
CAPTAIN WILLARD GLAZIER,
Author of "Soldiers of the Saddle," "Capture, Prison-Pen and Escape," "Battles for the
Union," "Heros of Three Wars," "Peculiarities of American Cities,"
"Ocean to Ocean on Horseback," etc.
Hon. CHARLES P. DALY, LL. D.,
PRESIDENT OF THE
AMERICAN GEOGRAPHICAL SOCIETY;
AS ATRIBUTE OF RESPECT
FOR HIS EMINENT PUBLIC SERVICES;
AND HIS LIFELONG DEVOTION TO THE CAUSE OF
THIS VOLUME IS DEDICATED
Pictures and Illustrations.
MAP OF THE HEAD WATERS OF THE MISSISSIPPI
EMBARKING FOR THE SOURCE OF THE GREAT RIVER.
SOURCE OF THE "FATHER OF WATERS".
RUNNING RAPIDS ON THE UPPER MISSISSIPPI.
SIOUX AND CHIPPEWA DANCE MUSIC.
RAFT ON THE UPPER MISSISSIPPI.
AN IOWA TRIBUTARY OF THE MISSISSIPPI.
BRIDGE BETWEEN DAVENPORT AND ROCK ISLAND
SAINT LOUIS EXPOSITION BUILDING.
THE discovery of the Mississippi is very generally ascribed to Ferdinand De Soto, who, in his adventurous march in pursuit of gold and glory, reached the Great River in April, 1541, near the site of the present city of Natchez. Worn out with fatigue and humiliated by his many disappointments, he died on its banks, and found his final resting-place in its depths.
Discovery in the Valley of the Mississippi rested for nearly a hundred years after the death of De Soto, when the zealous Jesuit missionary, Father James Marquette, accompanied by Sieur Joliet, proceeded from Michilimackinac to the head waters of Fox River, then by portages into the Wisconsin, and descended that stream to its confluence with the Mississippi in 1673. Thoroughly exploring the Mississippi as far as the mouth of the Arkansas, Marquette began his return voyage to Canada, but after enduring many privations and hardships among the Indians fell a prey to malaria contracted on the Lower Mississippi, died and was buried on the western shore of Lake Michigan.
Robert de La Salle, following in the footsteps of Marquette, sailed from Rochelle, France, on his first voyage to the New World, in the summer of 1678; landed at Quebec in September, and in the spring of
viii1679 ascended the Niagara River and, traversing Lakes Erie, Saint Clair and Huron, reached Michilimackinac the latter part of August. From this point he proceeded in a southerly direction to Lake Michigan and erected on its banks a fort in the territory of the Miamis. In 1680, we find him at Fort Frontenac, on Lake Ontario, and in the autumn of 1681, he descended the Mississippi from the mouth of the Illinois River on his way to the Gulf of Mexico, reaching it April seventh, 1682. Soon afterward he returned to France by way of Quebec.
La Salle left France on his second expedition in July, 1684, reached the Gulf of Mexico in the following February, founded a settlement on the Bay of Saint Louis, and during his voyage to Canada was assassinated by his own men. The command of the expedition and the account of his explorations devolved upon his lieutenant, the Chevalier Tonti.
When La Salle led his first expedition to the Mississippi, Father Louis Hennepin, who had accompanied him from France, was sent northward with three voyageurs to explore its head waters. After ascending the Mississippi one hundred and fifty leagues above the junction of the Illinois, they were taken prisoners by the Indians and carried into captivity towards the source of the river in a journey of nineteen days. Being set at liberty they descended the stream and returned to Canada. Hennepin subsequently published an account of his explorations and adventures which tended to throw considerable light upon the Indian tribes he had encountered, and the regions he had traversed.
In 1683, Baron La Hontan, an unfrocked monk
ixand subsequently an officer of the French army, arrived at Quebec. During the four years of his military service in Canada, he was stationed for a time at Michilimackinac, where, in 1688, he first heard of the death of La Salle. Being commissioned to continue the work of exploration begun by Marquette, La Salle and Hennepin, he proceeded to Green Bay and passed through the Fox and Wisconsin rivers to the Mississippi in 1689. The highly colored stories of his observations and adventures related by this explorer rival the tales of Munchausen, and lead the reader to question the credibility of his published accounts.
For a period of one hundred and fourteen years succeeding the explorations of La Hontan, the Great River was seldom visited by white men. Charlevoix, who had been commissioned as the historian of New France, landed at Quebec in 1721 and, passing through the lakes, descended the Illinois and Mississippi to New Orleans.
Captain Jonathan Carver, a native of Connecticut, who had served several years in the provincial army, gave some attention to the Upper Mississippi in 1766. By his courage and invincible daring among the Indians he acquired a powerful influence over them; was elected by the Sioux to the chieftainship of a tribe, and given a vast tract of land, which, however, the British government declined to ratify. The fate of Carver cannot but elicit our warmest sympathies. His gallant services as a soldier and his zealous work in the field of exploration should have insured for him from his king a respectable competency; but, on the contrary, he was suffered to feel the annoyances of poverty, and died of want in the city of
xLondon, where, for a long time previous to his death, he endured greater privations than had fallen to his lot in the American wilderness.
From 1769 to 1793 several enterprising travelers carried forward the work of exploration in the New World. During these years Samuel Hearne made a journey from Hudson's Bay to the Coppermine River, and McKenzie performed a voyage to the Pacific Ocean. Nothing, however, was done in the direction of the Mississippi after the return of Carver, until 1805, when Lieutenant Zebulon Montgomery Pike, a brave and accomplished young officer of our regular army, was ordered by General Wilkinson, then in command of the Department of Louisiana, to proceed to the head waters of the river and continue the exploration.
Pike started from Bellefontaine, Missouri, with a force of twenty men, in August, 1805. Knowing comparatively little of the climate of the region he was about to visit, having no interpreter or guides, he labored under many disadvantages. Winter overtook him when he had readied a point only one hundred and twenty miles north of Saint Anthony Falls. Here he built a block-house and, leaving a detachment of his men in charge of a sergeant, pushed forward with snow-shoes and sledges as far as Cass Lake, then known to the agents of the North-west British Fur Company as Upper Red Cedar Lake.
It appears from the narrative of Lieutenant Pike's expedition that he derived his information of the topography of the country chiefly from representatives of the North-west Fur Company, on whom he seems to have relied largely for assistance in the delineation of maps. These fur-traders led him to a
xiwrong impression concerning the source of the Mississippi, which he located in Turtle Lake. Having, as he supposed, accomplished the object of his mission, Pike returned to Bellefontaine, and subsequently published an account of his expedition and its results.
General Lewis Cass, of Michigan, an eminent soldier and statesman, organized an expedition at Detroit and led it up the Detroit River and through the lakes to the Mississippi in the spring and summer of 1820. Like his predecessor, Lieutenant Pike, General Cass reached the Mississippi too late in the season to penetrate to its ultimate source. His exploration rested in the lake which now bears his name and which had been previously visited by Pike. Having on his staff several gentlemen of scientific attainments, the Cass expedition was distinguished by its attention to the peculiar characteristics of the Indian tribes and the botany, mineralogy, and meteorology of the regions traversed.
Passing over the expedition of Beltrami and his supposed discovery in 1823, we find that early in the spring of 1832, Henry Rowe Schoolcraft, who had accompanied General Cass in 1820, was commissioned by the Government to proceed to the Upper Mississippi, make certain treaties with the Indians and carry forward the work of exploration, if possible, to its fountain-head. Fully equipped, and with an officer of the regular army to command his escort, Schoolcraft arrived at Cass Lake on the tenth of July. Pushing forward with small canoes he reached Lake Itasca three days later. Evidently satisfied that he had found the object of his search, and having an appointment to meet Indians in council at the mouth of Crow Wing River, Schoolcraft neglected
xiito coast Itasca for its feeders, and thus missed the goal he had so industriously sought.
Jean Nicolas Nicollet, who succeeded Schoolcraft in Mississippi exploration, was a native of France, and came to America in 1832. His first visit to the head waters of the Mississippi was entirely unofficial and made in the interests of science. Having attracted the attention of our Government, he was sent at the head of an expedition to the same region in 1836. This eminent explorer appears, from his maps and the narrative of his expedition, to have overlooked the main stream entering the south-western arm of Lake Itasca, and to have accepted conclusively the statements of those who had preceded him.
Satisfied that the work of exploration at the head waters of the Mississippi had been completed by Schoolcraft and Nicollet, nothing further was attempted in this quarter, with the exception of a partial survey, from 1836 to 1881, an interval of forty-five years, when in the latter year the question of the fountain-head of the Great River was again revived, and a hitherto unrecognized lake to the south of Itasca was located by the author of this volume as the primal reservoir — the TRUE SOURCE of the FATHER OF WATERS.
Chapter I. — The Old Explorers.
WHILE crossing the continent on horseback from ocean to ocean in 1876 I came to a bridge which spans the Mississippi between Rock Island, Illinois and Davenport, Iowa. As I saw the flood of this mighty stream rolling beneath, I turned in imagination to its discovery in 1541; I saw the renowned De Soto on its banks and buried in its depths; I accompanied Marquette from the mouth of the Wisconsin to the mouth of the Arkansas; I followed Father Hennepin northward to Saint Anthony Falls, and saw the daring La Salle plant the banner of France on the shores of the Gulf of Mexico.
Musing thus upon the exploits of the heroic old explorers who led the way to this grand and peerless river of North America, I felt that it was a subject of much regret, that, although its mouth was discovered by the Chevalier La Salle nearly two hundred years
30ago, there was still much uncertainty as to its true source. Within the last century several expeditions have attempted to find the primal reservoir of the Great River; Pike, Beltrami, and Schoolcraft have each in turn claimed the goal of their explorations; and numerous lakes, large and small have from time to time enjoyed the honor of standing at the head of the Father of Waters.
Schoolcraft finally, in 1832, located a lake which he named Itasca, as the fountain head, and succeeded in securing for it the recognition of geographers and map makers. Notwithstanding the fact, however, that the new claim for geographical honors was very generally accepted as the source, I had frequently been told that many Indians denied that their ideal river had its origin in Lake Itasca, but that there were other lakes and streams above and beyond that lake. These reflections led me to conclude that there was yet a rich field for exploration in the wilds of Minnesota.
A combination of unfavorable circumstances prevented for several years the accomplishment of my purpose to penetrate to the true source of the Mississippi. The month of May, 1881, found me sojourning a few days at Cleveland, Ohio, where I had halted in my journey westward from New York. On the first day of June, I proceeded to Chicago, and from thence to Saint Paul, Minnesota, where I was joined by my brother George, and Barrett Channing Paine, of Indianapolis. The month of June was spent at Saint Paul in preparation. Tents, blankets, guns, ammunition, fishing-tackle, and other equipage necessary to a six weeks' campaign in the wilderness, were provided for the little baud which was to form nay expedition.
Having completed arrangements, I left Saint Paul on the morning of July Fourth, with Brainerd as my immediate objective. Short halts were made at Minneapolis, Monticello, Saint Cloud and Little Falls, on our way up the river. Brainerd was reached July seventh. This enterprising town is situated at the point where the Northern Pacific Railway crosses the Mississippi; is near the boundary of the Chippewa Indian Reservation, and is the nearest place of consequence to Lake Itasca. Here I again halted to further inform myself concerning the topography of the country; to decide upon the most feasible route to my destination, and to provide such extra supplies of rations and clothing as might be considered essential to the success of our enterprise. After consulting maps, I concluded that, while most of the recent explorers had sought its source by going up the stream through Lakes Winnibegoshish, Cass and Bemidji, a more direct course would be by way of Leech Lake and the Kabekanka River.
Chapter II. — Through The Chippewa Country.
A CAREFUL study of the route to Leech Lake, with a few valuable suggestions from Warren Leland, an old resident of Brainerd, led me to seek wagon conveyance to the former place over what is known in northern Minnesota as the Government Road. This road stretches for seventy-five miles through immense pine forests and almost impenetrable underbrush, and the only habitations to be seen from it are the half-way houses, erected for the accommodation of teamsters who are engaged in hauling Government supplies, and the occasional wigwams of wandering Indians. It was opened in 1856, by James Macaboy, for the convenience of Indian agents and fur traders.
Fully equipped and with a driver celebrated for his knowledge of the frontier, we commenced at eight o'clock on the morning of July twelfth our wagon journey to Leech Lake, the third objective in my expedition to the head waters of the Mississippi. John Monahan, who held the reins in this seventy-five mile journey over one of the roughest roads of Minnesota, is a true son of Erin, who need not take a back seat for Hank Monk, or any of the famous drivers of the border.
A ride of between three and four hours brought our little party to Gull Lake, where a halt was made for rest and refreshments. Gull Lake was for many years the home and head-quarters of the noted Chippewa chief, Hole-in-the-day, and was the scene of many sanguinary struggles between his braves and those of the equally celebrated Sioux chief, Little Crow. The remnant of a block house, fragments of wigwams, and a few scattered graves, are all that is now left to tell the tale of its aboriginal conflicts.
A family of four persons, domiciled in a log-house, constitute the entire white population of the place. Reuben Gray, the genial patriarch who presides over this solitary household in the wilderness, delights in the title of landlord, and his hotel has become somewhat famous as one of the pioneer half-way houses between Brainerd and Leech Lake.
Our arrival at Gull Lake was duly celebrated by launching a canoe, which soon returned with a fine mess of fish. These, with such fruits and vegetables as were in season, afforded a dinner which our appetites, whetted by a forenoon's jolting in a country wagon, had fully prepared us to enjoy.
After dinner we resumed our journey, with Pine River as the evening destination. Sometimes in the road, sometimes out of it; now driving along the shore of a lake, and again over huge logs and boulders, it was voted that our ride to Pine River was unlike anything we had ever elsewhere experienced.
The ranche of George Barclay, the only white habitation between Gull Lake and Leech Lake, was reached at five o'clock in the evening. Here we were most agreeably surprised to find very good accommodations
36for both man and beast. Barclay is a decided favorite with the Indians, and his prosperity in this isolated corner of Minnesota is largely due to his friendly relations with them. He is always supplied with guns, knives, beads, tobacco, and such other goods as are in demand by his dusky neighbors, for which he receives in exchange furs, game, snake-root, and such other products of the forest as find a ready market at Brainerd or Saint Paul.
Much valuable information was obtained at Pine River concerning our route to Leech Lake and beyond, the peculiar traits and characteristics of the Indiana whom we were likely to encounter, and those persons at the Agency who could be of most service to us.
An excellent breakfast on the following morning, with the prospect of reaching Leech Lake, put my little party in the most exuberant spirits for the day; and nothing but jolting over one of the most indifferent and rugged roads I have ever encountered could have lessened the enjoyment of our journey. A short halt was made for lunch at Fourteen Mile Lake. This was our first meal in the open air, and enabled us to gauge more accurately our supply of rations. It was readily discovered that we should need at least a third more provisions per diem for our expedition than would be required for the ordinary occupations of indoor life; and I at once decided to provide an additional supply of bacon and dried meats before passing the Indian Agency.
After lunch my brother and Mr. Paine took a bath in the lake, while I found amusement in duck-shooting and chatting with some straggling Chippewas, who were about launching their canoes for a six weeks' hunting
37and fishing excursion. These were the first birchbark canoes I had seen, and were regarded with considerable interest, as they were indispensable to the success of our undertaking. Curiosity led me to step into one of them, when from want of experience I was precipitated into the lake, much to my own discomfort and chagrin, and the amusement of the Indians. Being unable to swim, I was congratulated upon a capsize in shallow water. Firmly resolved upon more caution in the future, we continued our journey towards Leech Lake, which was readied at four o'clock in the afternoon.
Chapter III. — Home of the Chippewas.
UPON our arrival at Leech Lake our first glimpse of the embryonic red man was of a boy about six years of age, who ran out of a wigwam — his copper-colored skin unadorned by a single garment — brandishing a bow in one hand, and carrying arrows in the other. He was very far from being warlike, however, and on seeing his white brothers suddenly disappeared in the bushes. A little further on we came to several wigwams, and finally to a log-cabin, over the door of which was nailed a pine board, bearing the inscription, "HOTEL." Here we were received by a rough-looking man with long hair and unkempt beard, and wearing in addition to his one other article of clothing a pair of pants made from a red blanket.
The prospect was certainly not an inviting one, and no reason was found for forming a more favorable opinion when we had alighted and inspected his squalid accommodations. But as the government officials were away from the post, we accepted the situation, and as graciously as possible placed our names, figuratively speaking, on the register of the Weaver House. We fared much better than we
39expected, however, dining on fresh fish and potatoes. Our supper and breakfast were selected from the same bill of fare, varied by the addition of "flap-jacks." As a substitute for tenantable beds we swung our hammocks from the rafters of the loft.
This lake is one of the most peculiarly shaped bodies of water that I remember ever to have looked upon. Its characteristics are most striking, presenting an array of curves, peninsulas and bays rarely encountered even in a State which boasts of ten thousand lakes. Ten islands are found within its bosom, and seven rivers and creeks enter it from various quarters. It extends from north to south not less than twenty miles, and from east to west a still greater distance, with a coast line of nearly four hundred miles. Its waters are deep and clear in all its central parts, and yield the white fish, bass, pickerel and other species. The banks of its numerous and extensive bays abound in wild rice, and attract in the proper season a great variety of water fowl. The pelican, swan, brant and cormorant are the largest of the varieties that annually visit it. On its shores may be found the elk, deer and bear. Beavers were formerly abundant, but they have in a great measure disappeared. The mink and muskrat afford now the principal items of its fine furs. Such a lake in the midst of a hunting and trapping country is always considered a place of importance, and nearly a hundred years ago Canadian fur traders came through the forests and over the lakes and rivers from Montreal to establish a trading post at this point.
For many years Leech Lake was the seat of the Chippewa Indian Agency, but the latter is now consolidated with the White Earth and Red Lake
40agencies. Major C. A. Ruffe is at present agent of the three departments, with head-quarters at White Earth. The village on Leech Lake consists of a half dozen government buildings, as many log-cabins, and twenty or thirty wigwams, scattered here and there near one of the arms of the lake.
The day after our arrival the agency was thrown into a state of excitement by the announcement that Major Ruffe was en route to Lake Winnibegoshish by way of Leech Lake, and that he was expected to make his advent on the afternoon of the following day. The Major was accompanied by Captain Taylor, of Saint Cloud, one of the pioneer surveyors of Minnesota; Paul Beaulieu, the veteran government interpreter, and White Cloud, chief of the Mississippis.
Major Ruffe was untiring in his efforts to relieve the monotony of our sojourn at the Agency, and to render our condition as agreeable as possible while within the boundary of his dominions. Through conversations with this genial officer I learned much of the pioneer history of the post, and the attempts to civilize the Pillagers, as the Leech Lake Indians are styled. This tribe seems to have seceded from the other Chippewas many hundred years ago, and to have assumed the responsibility of defending this portion of the Chippewa border. They "passed armed before their brethren" in their march westward. Their geographical position was such as to compel them to be always on the alert and in every emergency, of which they have encountered no inconsiderable number, they have shown themselves capable of defending their chosen position, and on many trying occasions have won admiration as brave and active warriors.
Thoroughly accustomed to the practices of the forces, they have achieved many triumphs over their powerful enemies, the Sioux. With a valor seldom equaled and never surpassed, the Pillagers, with smaller numbers, have, on occasions neither few nor unimportant, fallen upon their enemies and vanquished them with a resolution characteristic of Spartan heroes. It is not easy on the part of the Government to repress the feelings of hostility which have so long existed, and to convince them that they have lived into an age when milder maxims furnish the basis of wise action. Pacific counsels fall with little power upon a people situated so remote from every good influence, and who cannot perceive in the restless spirit of their enemies any safeguard for the continuance of a peace, however formally it may have been concluded. The fact was adverted to by one of their chiefs, who observed that they were compelled to fight in self-defence. Although the Sioux had made a solemn treaty of peace with them at Tipisagi in 1825, they were attacked by them that very year, and almost yearly since had sustained insidious or open attacks.
"The domestic manners and habits of a people whose position is so adverse to improvement could hardly expected to present anything strikingly different from other erratic bands of the Northwest. There is indeed a remarkable uniformity in the external habits of all our Northern Indians. The necessity of changing their camps often, to procure game or fish, the wants of domesticated animals, the general dependence on wild rice and the custom of journeying in canoes, have produced a general similarity of life. And it is emphatically a life of want and vicissitude. There is
42a perpetual change between action and inanity of mind which is a striking peculiarity of the savage state. And there is such a general want of forecast that most of their misfortunes and hardships, in war and peace, come unexpectedly. None of the tribes who inhabit this quarter can be said to have, thus far, derived any peculiarities from civilized instruction. The only marked alteration which their state of society has undergone appears to be referable to the era of the introduction of the fur trade, when they were made acquainted with and adopted the use of iron, gunpowder and woollens. This implied a considerable change of habits, and of the mode of subsistence, and may be considered as having paved the way for further changes in the mode of living and dress. But it brought with it the onerous evil of intemperance, and left the mental habits essentially unchanged."
It was a subject of much regret that my arrival at Leech Lake was at a season when the Pillagers were away upon their annual hunting and fishing excursions. Their absence from the Agency, was a serious obstacle in the way of our further progress. Being compelled to take the final step in my expedition to the source of the Mississippi from this point, it was important that I should complete my equipment by securing an interpreter, reliable guides and birch-bark canoes.
Conversations with Flat Month, head chief of the Chippewas, developed the fact that he knew of but one Indian in the Chippewa country who had actually traversed the region which I was about to explore, and that he was then visiting some friends near Lake
43Winnibegoshish, and was not expected to return until the following Saturday, some three days later.
Satisfied that Chenowagesic would prove indispensable to the success of my expedition, I decided to await his return to the Agency. The tedium of my sojourn at Leech Lake was broken by a dinner with Flat Mouth, a visit to the missionary, and conversations with Paul Beaulieu concerning the source of the Mississippi.
Although for many years I had been much among the natives of the forest, my dinner with Flat Mouth was the first instance of a meal with Indian royalty. Flat Mouth, the present ruler of the Pillagers, is a descendant of Aish-ki-bug-ekozh, the most famous of all the Chippewa chiefs. He is stalwart in appearance, and is endowed with talents which certainly entitle him to this distinction. Having accepted his invitation to dinner, I went to his residence at the appointed hour, accompanied by my brother. I found him living in a comfortable log-house of two rooms, well floored and roofed, with a couple of small glass windows. A plain board table stood in the centre of the front room, upon which the dinner was spread. Pine board benches were placed on each side of the table and at the ends. We followed the example of our host in sitting down. Five other persons, including his wife, were admitted to the meal. The others White Cloud, chief of the Mississippis, and three Chippewa sub-chiefs.
The wife of Flat Mouth sat on his left and waited upon him and those whom he had invited. Teacups and teaspoons of plain manufacture were carefully arranged, the number corresponding exactly with
44the expected guests. A large dish of bass and white fish, cut up and boiled in good taste, was placed in the centre of the table, from which we were served. A birch-bark salt-cellar, in which pepper and salt were mixed in unequal proportion, allowed each the privilege of seasoning his fish with both or dispensing with it altogether. Our tea was sweetened with maple sugar. A dish of blueberries, picked on the shore of the lake, completed the dinner.
I was much gratified on this occasion by the presence of White Cloud, whom I had frequently been told was the most respectable man in the Chippewa country, and if the term has reference to his intellectual faculties and the power of reaching correct deductions from known premises, and the effect which these have had on his standing and influence with his own tribe, it is not misplaced. Shrewdness and quickness of perception most of the chiefs possess; but there is more of the character of common-sense and practical reflection in White Cloud's remarks than I remember to have noticed in any of the chiefs of my acquaintance. In early life this chief was both warrior and counselor, and these distinctions he held not from any hereditary right, but from the force of his own genius. I found him most agreeable in conversation and well informed upon those subjects which were of most interest to him. The sentiments to which he gave expression were such as would naturally occur to a mind which had possessed itself of facts and was quite capable of discussing them. His bearing was grave and dignified, and his oratory such as to render him popular wherever heard. While at dinner the room became filled with Indians, apparently the relatives and intimate friends of Flat
45Mouth, who seated themselves orderly and quietly upon the floor. On rising from the table White Cloud addressed me a few moments upon the objects of my expedition.
He expressed regret that his white brothers had been so long in ignorance of the source of the Mississippi, and said, although he had not himself seen the head of the Great River, there were many braves of his tribe who were familiar with its location. He hoped I had come thoroughly prepared to explore the country beyond Lake Itasca, and that I would not return to my friends until I had found the true source of the Father of Waters. Continuing, he said: "I am told that Chenowagesic, the Chippewa warrior, will accompany you. He is a good hunter and a faithful guide. He can supply you with game, and paddle your canoe. The Chippewas are your friends, and will give you shelter in their wigwams."
"Find Rev. Edwin Benedict as soon as you reach Leech Lake," was the last injunction I received on leaving Brainerd. Mr. Benedict is one of the five missionaries of the Episcopal Church on the Chippewa Reservation, and holds his commission from Bishop Whipple, of Minnesota. With this pleasant gentleman I spent the greater share of my time while at the Agency, when not engaged in preparations for my journey. The courtesy of a civilized bed, and a table with paper, pens and ink, were luxuries which will not soon pass from my memory.
Paul Beaulieu, the half-breed interpreter to Major Ruffe, possesses a fund of information concerning the Upper Mississippi, which cannot be consistently ignored by those who are in pursuit of its mysterious
46source; and I considered myself most fortunate in meeting him before my departure for Lake Itasca.
Beaulieu deserves more than a passing mention, as he is a man of large experience, and is well known throughout Minnesota, and in some circles throughout the country. He was born at Mackinaw, while General Sibley was stationed there in the interest of the American Fur Company, of which John Jacob Astor was then the head. His father was a Frenchman, and his mother an Indian. He received a liberal education partly in the Government school at Mackinaw and partly at Montreal. On leaving school he was employed by the Fur Company and sent all over the United States, from the Saint Lawrence to Lower California. He crossed the continent with the Stevens party on the first Northern Pacific survey, and rendered such valuable services that he was presented a testimonial in recognition of his efficiency.
Beaulieu had a theory of his own regarding the source of the Mississippi, based upon the stories of Indians of his acquaintance. Referring to this subject, he said that to the west of Lake Itasca there was another lake, the outlet of which unites with the stream from the former lake, and which contributes a much larger volume of water at the junction than the outlet of Itasca. He therefore assumed that this nameless and almost unknown lake was the true source of the Mississippi.
In corroboration of the Beaulieu theory, Major Ruffe said that he had heard the same idea expressed by a number of old Indian voyageurs. It will thus be seen that there was a great diversity of opinion among the best informed authorities as to the actual source of the Great River.
Chapter IV. — Exploration and Discovery.
UPON the return of Chenowagesic and other Indians a council was held, and requested to delineate maps of the country, and to furnish an interpreter, guides and canoes. Chenowagesic said: "My brother, the country you are going to visit is my hunting ground. I have hunted there many years, and planted corn on the shores of Lake Itasca. My father, now an old man, remembers the first white chief who came to look for the source of the Great River. But, my brother, no white man has yet seen the head of the Father of Waters. I will myself furnish the maps you have called for, and will guide you onward. There are many lakes and rivers in the way, but the waters are favorable. I will talk with my friends about the canoes, and see who will step forward to furnish them. My own canoe shall be one of the number."
But a few hours were required to complete the maps, and on the following morning, July seventeenth, three Chippewas, including Chenowagesic, brought each a canoe and laid it down on the shore of the lake. One other Chippewa expressed a willingness to
50accompany us to the mouth of the Kabekanka River. These with Mr. Paine, my brother and myself, and our luggage, were distributed equally in the three canoes secured by Chenowagesic.
A large number of Indians, most of whom were the relatives and friends of our guides, assembled near the point from which we had decided to launch. The wind blew briskly from the North, making the surface of the lake quite rough for canoe navigation, and it was with some distrust that we stepped gingerly into the canoes and took our appointed positions at the imminent risk of capsizing them by our awkwardness. The Indian guides took their places at the stern, with instructions to act as pilots. Rev. Mr. Benedict, who accompanied me to the place of embarkation, now stepped to the water's edge, and seizing the stern of my canoe, gave us the launch. A waving of hats by way of farewell to those who had come down to the shore to see us off, and our birchen fleet got under way and glided out into the deep water of the lake, propelled by the lusty strokes of the voyageurs, and our own faint attempts in the same direction.
An hour's vigorous paddling took us across the arm of the lake on which the Agency is situated, and then a short portage over a point of land brought us to a much larger body of water, where the wind and the waves had a sweep of from fifteen to twenty miles. We coasted along the shore for some distance, and then headed directly across the lake for the mouth of the Kabekanka River. The waves ran high, and our canoes rose lightly on them, sinking again with a swash into the trough, and splashing the water over our bows. Gradually we became somewhat accustomed
51to this, and gained sufficient confidence to gaze around at the broad expanse of lake and sniff the fresh and invigorating breeze which at the outset had caused as so much uneasiness.
Between two and three hours of persistent work with our paddles brought us to an inlet through which the Kabekanka empties; and, forcing our way through the rushes, with which its mouth is filled, we ascended the stream, and at about eleven o'clock came upon a small lake formed by an expansion of the river.
Paddling to the upper end of it, we landed, and, having built a fire, had our first meal in the open air. Re-embarking, we continued our course up the Kabekanka. As we ascended, the river became narrower and swifter, and the wild rice which at first filled its shallow bed gave place to snags and driftwood, through which it was almost impossible to force our canoes. We had nearly reached the conclusion that we could go no farther in the canoes, when we came to what seemed to be a pond of still water filled with rushes. This pond, we soon discovered, was the outlet of a large and beautiful lake not less than seven miles long, into whose tranquil waters we burst with a shout of gladness.
The sun was now well down towards the western horizon, and the question of supper and a camp-ground began to agitate the minds of my companions. Continuing our course, we paddled slowly up the lake, trolling for fish as we prospected for a suitable spot on which to pitch our tents. A model camp-ground was soon located on a bluff near the lake, wooded with Norway pines, and sloping rather abruptly to the water.
Our trolling was rewarded with a fine mess of pickerel; so we landed at once, and the fire of our first camp was soon crackling merrily. The guides prepared supper, while my brother and Paine pitched tents and swung their hammocks among the pines.
The zest with which we relished our supper of fish, enhanced by the addition of canned dainties from the civilized world, can readily be imagined; and as we smoked the pipe of contentment under the shelter of the grand old pines, we felt that the hardships which had been predicted for our voyage had been greatly magnified. After discussing the events of the day, we retired to our tents, or rather were driven thither by clouds of mosquitoes which, ignoring the smoke of our camp-fire, began their onslaughts as soon as the light of day disappeared. Paine attempted to find peaceful slumber in his hammock, but was soon sung and stung into a hasty retreat to the tent which George had, with some care, made mosquito-proof. A grand mosquito serenade was now inaugurated, which continued without interruption until the sun appeared above the lake. Fortunate, indeed, for us that we were beyond their reach.
We struck tents at break of day on the morning of July eighteenth, and, launching our canoes, paddled to the upper end of the lake, where we disembarked and had breakfast.
Learning from Chenowagesic that the Indians had no name for this beautiful body of water, I designated it "Garfield" in honor of our President, James Abram Garfield.
At the head of Lake Garfield we reached the terminus of uninterrupted water communication, and I
55was informed by my guides that a portage of between two and three miles lay before us. In blissful ignorance of what a portage really was, this announcement had no terror for us, and we gayly packed our traps into convenient bundles for carrying. The Indians had, in the meantime, prepared packs for themselves weighing upwards of a hundred pounds, which they rolled in their blankets and secured with a strap which was passed over the forehead, allowing the pack to rest on their shoulders. On top of this they each placed a canoe, bottom upwards, resting it on the pack by means of a cross-bar, and thus loaded started through what seemed to us a trackless forest.
Following the lead of our guides, we shouldered our guns and kept up as best we could, for their pace at times increased almost to a run. The undergrowth was so dense that we could not see where to put our feet, and were only guided by the white bottoms of the canoes in front of us. On we went, up hill and down, over logs and through bogs, barking our shins, scratching our faces on the rough limbs, panting for breath, the perspiration flowing in rivulets from every pore, and bitten by countless mosquitoes, until it seemed that we could proceed no farther; still the guides trotted along with their burdens, showing not the least sign of fatigue. At last, however, as we were about to drop from sheer exhaustion, the guides halted and deposited packs and canoes on the ground, rolled out from under them, and, after a smile at us, began picking blueberries which were found in great abundance near by. As for myself and white companions, we threw ourselves down almost breathless, without even energy enough to fight the mosquitoes.
Eager to reach higher ground, we again shouldered our luggage, and were soon on the trail following in the footsteps of Chenowagesic. Pushing rapidly forward, we gained the top of a hill at eleven o'clock, where we halted for rest and refreshment. Being out of mosquito range in this elevated region, we spent a few hours very pleasantly while the guides served dinner and carried the canoes and luggage forward to the next lake.
As soon as we were sufficiently recovered from the fatigues of the morning, we returned to the trail which had been our line of march since leaving Lake Garfield. On descending the hill we were again beset by clouds of mosquitoes — in short, to parody Tennyson, there were
Mosquitoes to left of us,
Mosquitoes all around us,
Singing and stinging.
A few rods from the foot of the hill we came to a lake, the first of a chain of five lakes having for their outlet a small river known to the Indians as the Gabekanazeba, which in Chippewa means portage.
Once more on the water, we pulled through three lakes alternated by as many portages, and at night encamped on the shore of a fourth lake. On the following morning we were astir at dawn. Had breakfast at sunrise, and by seven o'clock were again in our canoes paddling toward Itasca. The fifth and last of the portage chain was reached at ten o'clock. Learning from my guides that these beautiful lakes had never before, to their knowledge, been seen by white men, I named them successively Bayard, Stoneman, Pleasanton, Custer and Kilpatrick, as a tribute to the
57favorite Union cavalry leaders of the late war — patriot soldiers who deserve well of their country, and to whose calls I had often responded in the campaigns of the Army of the Potomac.
After crossing Lake Kilpatrick another string of portages was encountered, aggregating for the day no less than eight, alternating with as many lakes, all small, some of them being little more than ponds, except three which terminate the portage chain. Continuing my cavalry column, I named these three lakes, which are fine bodies of water, successively Gregg, Davies and Sheridan; after General Gregg of Pennsylvania, under whom I served for a short period during the Gettysburg campaign; General Davies of New York, on whose recommendation I received my first commission, and who rose from the rank of a major in my old regiment, the Harris Light Cavalry, to that of major-general and the command of the Cavalry Corps under Grant; and after that true knight of cavalry, Lieutenant-General Philip Henry Sheridan, hero of Cedar Creek and Five Forks.
Towards evening we readied the largest sheet of water between Leech Lake and Lake Itasca, the Indian name of which translated is Blue Snake Lake. We crossed this lake at a point where its width is about five miles, and carried our canoes to the summit of a narrow strip of land which separates it from another lake of less than half its size. Here, as else where during our journey and voyage through Minnesota, we found blueberries in great abundance, and it was with much difficulty that I persuaded my companions to perform their duties before they had satisfied their carvings for this delicious fruit.
As soon as we had decided upon a camp-ground, Paine and Chenowagesic pitched tents, my brother launched his canoe in quest of fish, while Moses Lagard, the interpreter, and his half-brother Sebatise prepared supper.
After attending to the duties of the camp, I went down to the lake which we had just crossed, and strolled along the white sand beach of its western shore. Tracks of the wolf and deer were frequently seen in the sand — the first evidences of wild game in our journey. Retracing my steps I met George, who was just returning with a fine mess of bass, which, with corned beef and a small quantity of bread supplied by Lagard, afforded us an excellent meal, which all were fully prepared to enjoy.
The mosquitoes, our inveterate enemies, did not neglect us here. On the contrary, they began their nightly orgies upon the going down of the sun; whereupon we dampened the ardor of their spirits in a measure by throwing a cordon of subdued fires entirely around our little camp at intervals of from ten to fifteen feet. We now enjoyed the alternative of enduring the smoke within the camp or fighting the mosquitoes without.
Next morning we had breakfast at five o'clock, struck tents at six, and a few moments later launched our canoes upon the beautiful lake which is a companion to the one we had crossed the previous evening. The first and largest of these lakes I called George, after my brother George, of Chicago, who accompanied me from Brainerd to the source of the Mississippi and thence to La Crosse in my descent of the river; the other I named Paine, after my constant companion,
59Barrett Channing Paine, of Indianapolis, Indiana, who stood at its head, drank from its farthest springs, and subsequently shared the privations, dangers and triumphs of my canoe voyage down the Great River to the sea.
Crossing Lake Paine, we made another portage of half a mile, which brought us to a small river known among the Chippewas as the Naiwa. Chenowagesic explained that the Naiwa was a stream of considerable length, having its origin in a lake which is infested with snakes, to which its name has reference. This lake I called Chenowagesic, after my faithful guide, and its outlet, the Naiwa, I denominated Lagard River, in honor of our interpreter.
We descended Lagard River between five and six miles, and then portaged westward to another small river, with which it unites a few miles below. We found the new stream more decidedly marshy in the character of its shores, but not presenting in its plants or trees anything to distinguish it particularly from the Lagard. The water is still and pond-like. It presents some small areas of wild rice, and appears to be a favorite resort for the duck and teal, which frequently rose up before us, and were aroused again and again by our progress.
Four hours of energetic paddling brought us to the foot of a lake where we halted a few moments to survey. This lake presents a broad border of aquatic plants with somewhat blackish waters. It is the recipient of two brooks and may be considered as the source of the Eastern fork of the Mississippi.
While passing through the lake we came upon several boards of mallard ducks, and my companions
60were not slow in testing their fowling pieces. A broadside from rifle, shot-gun and revolver was simultaneously opened, but, much to the chagrin of those who fired, only one duck was killed. The water fowl encountered here seem to exult in their seclusion, and evinced the infrequency of intrusion by flying a short distance and alighting within range of our fire-arms.
We were about twenty minutes in traversing this lake, which I named Elvira, in memory of my eldest sister. Entering one of the brooks at its southern end we paddled up stream about thirty or forty rods, when we appeared to be involved in a morass where it seemed difficult either to make the land or advance further. In this we were not mistaken. Chenowagesic soon pushed his canoe into the rushes and exclaimed: "Oma mikunna" — here is the portage. A man who is called on for the first time to debark in such a place will cast about for some dry spot to put his feet upon. No such spot, however, existed here. We stepped into rather warm pond-water, with a miry bottom. After wading a hundred yards or more the soil became firm, and we began to ascend a slight elevation, where the growth partook more of the character of a forest. Traces of a path appeared here, and we suddenly entered an opening which afforded an eligible place for landing. Evidences of former fires, the bones of birds, and scattered camp-poles indicated that it had previously been visited by Indians, whose migratory and undomesticated habits are of a character to create in the mind a suspicion of their determination never to become civilized and stationary.
Having ascended this fork of the Mississippi
63to its source, it may be noted that it has not as yet been given a place as a separate river in our geography. None of the maps indicate the ultimate separation of the Mississippi above Lake Bemidji into two forks. It is a matter of much surprise that this river should have been kept so long in darkness, especially when we consider the fact that its presence was known to white men nearly fifty years ago. I christened it De Soto River, as a tribute to the discoverer of the Mississippi, who though he failed to find gold and glory in the great valley which had lured him through the American wilderness, rendered a valuable contribution to the geographical knowledge of the sixteenth century.
The sun was rapidly sinking behind the hills as we readied dry land, and being nearly exhausted by the portages of the day, and in want of refreshment, a camp-ground was at once decided upon, and preparations for supper begun.
It was at this point that we first discovered a deficiency in our supply of rations. At the outset we counted largely upon our fire-arms and fishing-tackle to reinforce our bacon and canned meats; thus far, however, but one duck had been killed, and, as compared with our former estimates, but few fish had been caught. Then, as a climax to our embarrassments, my brother had the misfortune to lose the rolling hooks and nearly all the ammunition while passing through a bog in the last portage. Much powder and ball had also been consumed by my white companions, who sought to test their marksmanship upon every animate object along our line of march. A strict adherence to truth compels me to
64say that up to this time, much to their chagrin, the entire outlay of ammunition resulted in caging but the one duck previously alluded to.
We were now not less than seven days from the trading post at Cass Lake, and with only about two days' rations. Not even an Indian could be found in that lonely region with whom to parley for food. It may be safely concluded that before we retired to our tents that night we looked our project squarely in the face. Despatch in our onward progress was earnestly recommended. An equal distribution of rations, and the most rigid economy in the use of ammunition, was also insisted upon.
A dense fog which completely enveloped the swamp in our immediate front prevented our getting upon the trail until seven o'clock in the morning of July twenty-first, and it was even then impossible to distinguish objects at a distance of twenty yards. While waiting for the fog to raise, a small flock of pigeons dropped into the tops of some tall pines near by. George and Paine were inclined to observe their usual practice of discharging their fire-arms; but, as I considered the pigeons out of range, I reminded them that no more ammunition could be thrown away upon uncertainties.
The distance from the eastern to the western branch of the Mississippi is between six and seven miles. Beginning in a marsh the portage soon reaches a slight elevation covered with a growth of cedar, spruce, white pine and tamarack; then plunges into a swamp matted with fallen trees, obscured by moss. From the swamp the trail emerges upon dry ground, whence it soon ascends an elevation of oceanic sand, presenting boulders and bearing pines. There is then another
65descent and another elevation. In short, this portage carried us over a series of diluvial sand-ridges which form the height of land between the Mississippi and Red River of the North. It may be said that these ridges constitute the table-land between the waters of Hudson's Bay and the Gulf of Mexico, and give rise to the remotest tributaries of the River Saint Louis, which through Lake Superior and its connecting chain may be considered as furnishing the head-waters of the Saint Lawrence. This is unquestionably the highest land of North America between the Alleghenies and Rocky Mountains.
Chenowagesic led the way while crossing this highland, followed by the other guides, each carrying as usual a canoe and a portion of the luggage. George, Paine and myself moved forward on the trail in Indian file. As soon as all were in motion we pushed rapidly along, stopping occasionally for rest. The Chippewas denominate each of these stops opugidjewinon, or a place of putting down the burden. Thirteen of these halts were given by Chenowagesic as the distance to Lake Itasca. The trail is often obscured by a dense undergrowth, and requires the precision of an Indian eye to detect it. Even the guide was sometimes disconcerted, and went forward to explore. About midway of the portage we came to a small lake, into which we quickly put the canoes and pulled for the opposite shore. The route beyond was more obstructed by underbrush. To avoid this we waded through the margins of a couple of ponds, near which we observed old camp-poles, indicating former journeys of the Chippewas.
We found the weather much warmer than we had
66anticipated for Northern Minnesota, and not favorable to much exertion in bird or beast. Several flocks of pigeons and other birds common to northern latitudes were frequently observed. Tracks of deer were numerous in the marshes skirting the ponds, but traveling without the precaution required in hunting, we had no opportunity of seeing this animal in the high grounds. Ripe strawberries were found on the hillsides, and a very small species of the raspberry was brought to me by Chenowagesic at one of the resting-places. The student of botany would consider the plants few and of little consequence.
On turning out of a thicket at the foot of the last elevation, between three and four o'clock in the afternoon, our longing eyes rested upon the waters of Lake Itasca. A few moments later we were floating on its placid bosom, and, after a pull of between two and three miles, reached Schoolcraft Island. This island derives its name from Henry Rowe Schoolcraft, who discovered Itasca in 1832, and located it as the source of the Mississippi.
Hitherto the claim of Schoolcraft has been unquestioned, and for half a century Lake Itasca has enjoyed the honor of standing at the head of the Father of Waters. The island is about three-quarters of an acre in extent, and so densely studded with undergrowth that we experienced much difficulty in clearing a place for our tents. We found here but two or three trees worthy of notice, the most prominent of which was a tall, gray pine, and on this Paine blazed our names and the date of our encampment.
Itasca is in every respect a beautiful lake, between five and six miles in length, and from one-fourth to
67three-fourths of a mile in width. It has three arms — one to the southeast, three miles long; one extending to the southwest from the island; and one reaching northward to the outlet two and a half miles. Its greatest length is from southeast to northwest. I asked Chenowagesic the Chippewa name of this lake and he replied "Omushkos," which means Elk.
Schoolcraft tells us that the word Itasca is derived from the mythological and necromantic notions of the Chippewas concerning the origin and mutations of the country.
We were in no condition to enjoy our delightful surroundings at this point, in consequence of the reduced state of our supplies. Determined upon a thorough exploration of the region adjacent to Lake Itasca, we were now confronted with a subject for serious consideration. We were at least six days from the nearest post of relief, and entirely out of rations, with the exception of a small piece of bacon and a few pounds of flour. The trolling-hooks were lost, and there were but sixty-five rounds of ammunition left. In this dilemma my white companions favored exploration. The Indians preferred an immediate descent of the river.
Chapter V. — True Source of the Mississippi.
THE exhausting portages of July twenty-first, between the east and west forks of the Mississippi, prepared us for a sleep which even the Minnesota mosquitoes could not disturb, and which was not broken until long after the sun was glinting upon us through the trees on the morning of the twenty-second. Although I had cautioned the guides to awaken me at dawn, I found them snoring lustily at six o'clock.
As soon as all were astir, Chenowagesic and the Lagards prepared breakfast. George struck tents and rolled the blankets, while Paine busied himself with an article for the Saint Paul Pioneer Press, descriptive of our voyage to Lake Itasca. But little ceremony was observed at breakfast, which was served with a due regard to our scant rations, and consisted of a small slice of bacon and a "flap-jack," each of very meagre dimensions.
Notwithstanding the fact that we were now confronted with empty haversacks and nearly depleted cartridge boxes, my companions were still eager to follow my lead in the work of exploration beyond Itasca, which, from the beginning, had been the
69controlling incentive of our expedition, the grand objective towards which we bent all our energies. To stand at the SOURCE; to look upon the remotest rills and springs which contribute to the birth of the Great River of North America; to write finis in the volume opened by the renowned De Soto, more than three hundred years ago, and in which Marquette, La Salle, Hennepin, La Hontan, Carver, Pike, Beltrami, Schoolcraft and Nicollet have successively inscribed their names, were quite enough to revive the drooping spirits of the most depressed.
During our encampment on the island Chenowagesic again reminded me that he had planted corn there many years before, and that his wigwam once stood near the spot where we had pitched our tents. He also repeated what he had told me before launching the canoes at Leech Lake, that the region about Lake Itasca was his limiting ground, and that he was thoroughly acquainted with all the rivers, lakes and ponds within a hundred miles. He further said that Paul Beaulieu was in error concerning the source of the Great River, and led me to conclude that the primal reservoir was above and beyond Itasca, and that this lake was simply an expansion of the Missisippi, as are Bemidji, Cass, Winnibegoshish, Pepin and several others.
Fully convinced that the statements of Chenowagesic were entirely trustworthy, and knowing from past experience that he was perfectly reliable as a guide, we put our canoes into the water at eight o'clock, and at once began coasting Itasca for its feeders. We found the outlets of six small streams, two having well-defined mouths, and four filtering
70into the lake through bogs. The upper end of the southwestern arm is heavily margined with reeds and rashes, and it was not without considerable difficulty that we forced our way through tins barrier into the larger of the two open streams which flow into this end of the lake.
Although perfectly familiar with the topography of the country, and entirely confident that he could lead us to the beautiful lake which he had so often described, Chenowagesic was for several moments greatly disturbed by the net-work of rushes in which we found ourselves temporarily entangled. Leaping from his canoe, he pushed the rushes right and left with his paddle, and soon, to our great delight, threw up his hands and gave a characteristic "Chippewa yell," thereby signifying that he had found the object of his search. Returning, he seized the bow of my canoe, and pulled it after him through the rushes out into the clear, glistening waters of the infant Mississippi, which, at the point of entering Itasca, is seven feet wide, and from twelve to fifteen inches deep.
Lusty work with our paddles for half an hour brought us to a blockade of fallen timber. Determined to float in my canoe upon the surface of the lake towards which we were paddling, I directed the guides to remove the obstructions, and continued to urge the canoes rapidly forward, although opposed by a strong and constantly increasing current. Sometimes we found it necessary to lift the canoes over logs, and occasionally to remove diminutive sand-bars from the bed of the stream with our paddles. As we neared the head of this primal section of the mighty river, we could readily touch both shores with our hands at
71the same time, while the average depth of water in the channel did not exceed ten inches.
Every paddle stroke seemed to increase the ardor with which we were carried forward. The desire to see the actual source of a river so celebrated as the Mississippi, whose mouth had been reached nearly two centuries before, was doubtless the impelling motive. In their eagerness to obtain the first view of the beautiful lake toward which we were paddling, and greatly annoyed by the slow progress made in the canoes, my brother and Paine stepped ashore and proposed a race to the crest of the hill which Chenowagesic told them overhung the lake. To this proposition of my companions I made objection, and insisted that all should see the goal of our expedition from the canoes. What had long been sought at last appeared suddenly. On pulling and pushing our way through a net-work of rushes, similar to the one encountered on leaving Itasca, the cheering sight of a transparent body of water burst upon our view. It was a beautiful lake — the SOURCE of the FATHER OF WATERS.
A few moments later, and our little flotilla of three canoes was put in motion, headed for a small promontory which we discovered at the opposite end of the lake. We paddled slowly across one of the most pure and tranquil bodies of water of which it is possible to conceive. Not a breath of air was stirring. We halted frequently to scan its shores, and to run our eyes along the verdure-covered hills which enclose its basin. These elevations are at a distance of from three to four miles, and are covered chiefly with white pines, intermingled with the cedar, spruce and
72tamarack. The beach is fringed with a mixed foliage of the evergreen species. At one point we observed pond lilies, and at another a small quantity of wild rice.
As we neared the headland, a deer was seen standing on the shore, and an eagle swept over our heads with food for its young, which we soon discovered were lodged in the top of a tall pine. The waterfowl noticed upon the lake were apparently little disturbed by our presence, and seldom left the surface of the water.
This lake is about a mile and a half in greatest diameter, and would be nearly an oval in form but for a single promontory which extends its shores into the lake so as to give it in outline the appearance of a heart. Its feeders are three small creeks, two of which enter on the right and left of the headland, and have their origin in springs at the foot of sand-hills from five to six miles distant. The third is but little more than a mile in length, has no clearly defined course, and is the outlet of a small lake situated in a marsh to the south westward. These three creeks were named in the order of their discovery: Eagle, Excelsior and Deer. The small lake, which is the source of Eagle Creek, I called Alice, after my daughter.
Having satisfied myself as to its remotest feeders, I called my companions into line at the foot of the promontory which overlooks the lake, and talked for a few moments of the Mississippi and its explorers, telling them I was confident that we were looking upon the TRUE SOURCE of the Great River, and that we had completed a work begun by De Soto, in 1541, and
75had corrected a geographical error of half a century's standing. Concluding my remarks, I requested a volley from their fire-arms for each member of the party in commemoration of our discovery. When the firing ceased, Paine gave me a surprise, by stepping to the front and proposing "that the newly discovered lake be named Glazier, in honor of the leader of the expedition." The proposition was seconded by Moses Lagard, the interpreter, and carried by acclamation, notwithstanding my protest that it should retain its Indian name, Po-keg-a-ma.
Much to the surprise of every one, as we were about closing our ceremonies, Chenowagesic assumed an oratorical attitude, and addressed me as follows, in a few words of true Indian eloquence. "My brother, I have come with you through many lakes and rivers to the head of the Father of Waters. The shores of this lake are my hunting-ground. Here I have had my wigwam and planted corn for many years. When I again roam through these forests, and look on this lake, source of the Great River, I will look on you."
The latitude of this lake is not far from 47°. Its height above the sea is an object of geographical interest, which, in the absence of actual survey, it may subserve the purposes of useful inquiry to estimate. From notes taken during the ascent it cannot be less than three feet above Lake Itasca. Adding the estimate of 1575 feet submitted by Schoolcraft in 1832, as the elevation of that lake, the Mississippi may be said to originate in an altitude of 1578 feet above the Atlantic Ocean. Taking former estimates as the basis and computing them through the western fork, its length may be placed at 3184 miles. Assuming
76that the barometrical height of its source is 1578 feet it has a mean descent of over six inches per mile.
At Lake Bemidji the Mississippi readies its highest northing, which is in the neighborhood of 47° 30'. The origin of the river in an untraveled and secluded region between Leech Lake and the Red River of the North, not less than a degree of latitude south of Turtle Lake, which was for a long time supposed to be the source, removes both forks of the stream outside the usual track of the fur-traders, and presents a good reason, perhaps, why its fountain-head has remained so long enveloped in uncertainty.
Chapter VI. — Down the Great River.
Ten Miles Below Lake Itasca,
July 22, 1881.
STANDING at the source of the Mississippi, around which so many beautiful Indian legends cluster, and about which the white man has ever had much curiosity, I trust I felt a natural throb of pride in contemplation of the fact that at least a portion of my plan had been successfully executed; I had also a confident belief that the future held further good in store for us.
All being ready, and with the exclamation, "Now for the Gulf of Mexico!" I directed the canoes to be put into the water, and in a moment more we were on our way back to Lake Itasca; our speed greatly accelerated by the prospect of soon reaching our rations, which, for convenience, had been left with the luggage on Schoolcraft Island. This pull down to Itasca was in reality the first step in my voyage from source to sea, for as yet but a small portion of the undertaking had been realized. The old explorers had only navigated portions of the Great
78River. It was my purpose to descend its entire course from the remotest springs in the wilds of Minnesota to its outlet in the Gulf of Mexico. I desired to become familiar with the most striking features of the Mighty River, and to study, through personal intercourse, the varying phases of American life and character upon its banks. No one had ever attempted this before, and it is hardly probable that any one will ever attempt it again, for the perils of a voyage of over three thousand miles in an open canoe are not purely imaginary. And yet this was the only way in which I could practically and satisfactorily accomplish my purpose of making careful observations along the route traversed.
On our way down Itasca, my brother improvised a trolling-hook by twisting a piece of wire from a tin can into the form of a book, and by using a small piece of red flannel as a decoy, caught two fine pickerel. Just as we were nearing the island, Lagard, the interpreter, called my attention to a bald eagle sitting on a log, with a large, black bass in his talons, which he had evidently taken from the water but a moment before. A shot from my revolver had no other effect than to lead him to drop his prey, which, with the fish already caught by George, made a most acceptable meal for our little party, who now began to realize the extremity to which we were reduced. A few ounces of flour, and not more than two pounds of bacon, was at this time the sum total of our reserve rations; and yet we were seven days from the nearest trading post.
Dinner over at the island, we hastily re-embarked and continued our course down Itasca. The outlet
79lies to the northwest of the island, and proved to be a brisk brook, with a mean width of ten feet, and a depth of from fifteen to twenty inches. The water is exceedingly clear, and we at once found ourselves gliding over a sandy and pebbly bottom, strewed with the scattered valves of shell-fish, at a lively rate. Its banks are overhung with limbs and branches covered with foliage, which sometimes reach across and interlace. The bends are short, and have accumulations of flood wood, so that we often found it necessary to clear a passage with our axes. The Indians frequently suggested a portage, to which I invariably objected, being determined to paddle my canoe down the entire course of the Mississippi where possible. There was constant danger of running against boulders of black rock, lying along the margin or piled up in. the channel of the stream; and nothing but the most strenuous efforts on the part of our pilots preserved our canoes from immediate destruction. As the velocity of the current increased, we were hurled, as it were, through the narrow gorges, and would have descended at a prodigiously rapid rate had it not been for these interruptions to navigation.
The course of the river was northwesterly. After descending about ten miles, it enters a savanna where the channel is wider and deeper, but equally irregular. This extends some seven or eight miles. It then breaks its way through a pine ridge, where the channel is again very much confined and rapid, the rushing, tearing current threatening every moment to dash the canoes into a thousand pieces. The pilots were often in the water to guide the canoes, or stood ever ready with their paddles to fend off.
We disembarked and pitched tents in a grove of poplars on the right bank, directly opposite the mouth of the first stream that enters the Mississippi below Lake Itasca. This tributary is evidently the one to which Paul Beaulieu referred in his conversation with me at Leech Lake, and which he supposed might lead to the true source of the Mississippi. A careful investigation established the fact that Beaulieu was in error, and confirms the theory that the lake located and named by our party is the fountain head. Although a small stream, I deemed it of sufficient importance to be styled a river, and bestowed upon it the name of the zealous missionary and explorer, Marquette. Marquette River is some fifteen miles in length, has two small tributaries and is the outlet of four beautiful lakes which I named after Captain Charles Gordinier Hampton, of Detroit, Michigan; Lieutenant John Arthur Richardson, of Albany, New York; Moses W. Lemon, of Canton, New York, and John W. Wright, of Des Moines, Iowa; companions of my imprisonment and escapes during the war of the Rebellion.
Reflecting upon the Mississippi and its thousand tributaries, it is perhaps but a natural sentiment that the first to enter and pay tribute is entitled to more than a passing notice. In its onward march, the mighty river will take to its bosom, among others, the Minnesota, St. Croix, Des Moines, Wisconsin, Missouri, Illinois, Ohio, Yazoo, Arkansas and Red, all among the first rivers of the world, and yet their position on the family tree is not more important than the little Marquette, which bears the same relation to its source that the great Red River does to its mouth. If one
81is last, the other is first to swell its ever increasing flood.
Our camp opposite the mouth of the Marquette will long be remembered by my companions as the place where we first felt the gnawings of hunger, for it was here that the last of our rations was consumed, and we retired to our tents with appetites half satisfied after a day of unusual fatigue; add to empty haversacks the tortures of our inveterate enemies, the mosquitoes, and the reader will have some idea of our situation at the close of the first day in the descent of the Mississippi.
Fifteen Miles Below Marquette River,
We struck tents at six o'clock in the morning, and a few moments later were in our canoes and again descending the river. I immediately took position in the bow of the leading canoe with shotgun in hand, ready for game of any description which might appear in our front, for we were now entirely destitute of rations, with but little ammunition, and our fishing tackle in the bogs beyond Itasca. It was at once apparent that for some days at least, our explorations would lie more in the direction of food than the topography of the country. My companions were cautioned to keep a sharp lookout for evidences of animal life on the banks of the river, while the guides were instructed to be on the alert for ducks, as the Chippewas are adepts in killing many varieties of waterfowl by means of their paddles.
The same order in our descent of the river had thus far been adhered to which was observed in the voyage to Lake Itasca, the stream being still so narrow as to necessitate our moving forward in Indian file. Moses Lagard continued with me as pilot in the first canoe, which had been christened "Discovery" by Paine. My brother followed with Chenowagesic, in the Alice, named after my daughter while Mr. Paine, with Sebatise Lagard, brought up the rear in the Itasca.
We had been in our canoes but a few moments when my attention was drawn to a slight ripple on the surface of the water. An instant later I saw a small black object pointing down stream about twenty yards in advance of my canoe. Moses Lagard cried out at the top of his voice, "Shoot him! Shoot him, Captain!" Suiting the action to the word, I at once fired, and a moment later had the satisfaction of pulling in an otter, one of the finest prizes of our voyage; and, as will soon appear, a rare piece of good fortune at this time. Although many years before I had been counted something of a trapper, this was the first otter I had seen, and, as may be well supposed, was somewhat elated with my shot and trophy. The guides unanimously voted me a great hunter, as is the custom of the Chippewas whenever a member of their tribe kills this animal.
Turning a bend in the river, a brood of ducks next received our attention. A round from the shotgun put two juveniles on their backs, and sent the remainder under the surface apparently frightened by the discharge. The crews of both the Alice and Itasca were soon at the scene of action, the Indians
83screaming and gesticulating in the wildest manner in order to keep the ducks under water. An exciting chase now ensued, in which Indian skill in the use of the paddle was fully demonstrated. Eagerly watching for some evidence of the presence of his game, the practised eve of Chenowagesic readily got its bearings. A few sharp strokes of his paddle brought him in range, and then raising the paddle to a perpendicular, he sent it straight to the back of his prey. Another duck was captured in the same manner by Sebatise, which, with the two brought down by the shotgun, gave us a light breakfast, as all the ducks were young and small. My companions insisted that their leader should have one duck entirely to himself, but to this I objected, saving that whatever fortune had in store for us should always be equally divided.
Greatly encouraged by the good luck of the morning, it now seemed that if we had sufficient ammunition, or if the guides should be successful in paddling for game, we might pull through to the trading post at Lake Bemidji without serious difficulty. But right here was the rub: we had but twenty-three rounds of ammunition left, and while fortune had favored us once at least with the paddles, there was a much larger proportion of chance than certainty for the future.
Breakfast over, we were soon again gliding rapidly down the river, our speed greatly accelerated by a constantly increasing current. The strong rapids continued at intervals, and were rendered more dangerous by limbs of trees which stretched across the stream, threatening to sweep everything movable out of the canoes. In consequence of these obstructions all
84hands were kept busy cutting away drift and removing boulders with which the stream was literally choked.
Five miles below the mouth of Marquette River we came to a small stream having its source in a lake to the westward. I gave to this lake the name of Beaulieu, the veteran Government interpreter, to whom reference has been previously made. Chenowagesic informed me that this lake is but a short distance from the source of the Red River of the North.
The series of rapids encountered during the day and the consequent interruption to navigation, kept us so well employed, that even had game been seen, no time was found for hunting, and it was with sensations of hunger, as well as fatigue, that we debated the situation in our new camp. The propriety of eating the otter killed in the morning was freely discussed. I knew from early information obtained as a trapper, that this animal was seldom, if ever, eaten by white men, and then only when driven to great extremity. Their catlike appearance is quite enough to neutralize the cravings of hunger under ordinary circumstances. George and Paine declared they would starve before eating anything so repulsive in appearance, and started in pursuit of blueberries. Lagard and Chenowagesic said that otter was as good as baked dog, and at once proceeded to dress it for supper, while Sebatise made a small fire of pine knots, with which to roast their prize; for the Indians were determined to show us the edible qualities of the otter.
Returning to camp after a fruitless search for berries, George and Paine were in a humor to join me in an otter steak a la Chippewa. It is perhaps needless
85to add that Mr. Otter is not so black as he has frequently been painted, and the only regret upon finishing our rather unsavory supper was, that our four-legged friend had not been of larger dimensions, for he was both small and poor. I may further observe that it is quite natural to conclude that, as this animal subsists chiefly upon fish and vegetables, it may be eaten without hesitation, whenever the hunter or voyageur finds himself in straits for more palatable food.
Although the second day was a day of incessant toil with axes and paddles, we only advanced fifteen miles. Greatly refreshed, however, by our evening meal and thankful that our condition was no worse, we retired to our tents hopeful for the morrow.
Chapter VII. — Perils and Privations.
Forty Miles Above Lake Bemidji,
July 24, 1881.
Being still without rations all hands went in pursuit of blueberries at six o'clock this morning, but soon returned after a fruitless search, and again launched our canoes, trusting to the fates for something of an eatable character.
Another chain of rapids was encountered a few yards below Camp Otter. We were nearly an hour in passing down these rapids, when we reached the Kakabikons Falls. This little cataract is a swift rush of water, bolting through a narrow gorge, without a perpendicular fall. Chenowagesic suggested that we should make a portage, but after consultation, we decided to keep the canoes in the water as their crews were so reduced in strength as to be unable to carry the luggage.
While halting at its head for Paine to come up George caught hold of my canoe in order to bring his own to a stand. He succeeded in his purpose. But being checked suddenly, the stern of his canoe swung
89across the stream, which permitted his pilot to catch hold of the limb of a fallen tree. Thus stretched tensely across the rapid stream, in an instant the water burst over the gunwale, precipitating its contents into the swift current. The water was about four feet deep. George and his pilot found footing with considerable difficulty, but his canoe, tent, blankets, gun and everything, were swept over the falls and lost. He clung to his paddle, however, and by feeling with his feet brought up his fowling-piece.
Following the overturned canoe, we came up with it at the foot of the rapids, but injured the balance of our little fleet so much in the descent as to cause us considerable delay. It was hoped that this misfortune would prove a valuable lesson to George, who, notwithstanding the fact that he had already been capsized five or six times, had yet, it seemed, much to learn of navigation in birch canoes. Below these rapids the river receives a tributary on the right hand, which I called Joliet River, after the distinguished French explorer, Louis Joliet, who was for many years the companion of both La Salle and Hennepin.
We found the volume of the Mississippi nearly doubled by the junction of this stream, and hence its savanna borders were greatly enlarged. I noticed frequently among the shrubbery on its shores the wild rose and clumps of the salix. The channel winds through these savanna borders capriciously. At a point where we landed for blueberries, on an open pine bank, on the left shore, we noted several copious and clear springs pouring into the river. Indeed the extensive sand ranges which traverse the woodlands of this section of the Mississippi are
90perfectly charged with the moisture condensed on these elevations, which flows in through a thousand rills.
The physical character of the stream made this part of our route a most rapid one. Willing or unwilling we were hurried on; but indeed we had every desire to hasten the descent, for hunger, gaunt and stern still stared at us from each succeeding bend of the river. Towards evening, Sebatise caught two black bass, with a hook made from a small piece of tin while I killed four mallard ducks with three rounds of my shot-gun.
We disembarked a little before sunset and pitched tents on a hillside covered with Norway pines. After carefully discussing the situation, it was unanimously voted that the ducks should be reserved for breakfast, as we had learned from experience that we could better dispense with our rations at night than in the morning, when we had a day of paddling before us. My surprise can be readily imagined by those familiar with Indian character, when about midnight I heard loud grumbling in the tent occupied by the interpreter and guides. They had reconsidered their vote and were now in favor of eating fish and ducks at once. Believing that the course we had previously decided upon was best for all, I reasoned a few moments with our dusky friends, and then ordered guns and game to my own tent. This put an end to the disaffection and we again retired to sleep as best we could. I may here add that in my experience among Indians I have observed that when in the possession of food they seldom defer eating it, but when their larders are empty they patiently submit to the gnawings of hunger.
Twenty Miles Above Lake Bemidji,
All were astir at dawn. The much coveted fish and ducks were lustily dressed and broiled. A very simple calculation showed me that if four ducks of nearly equal size were to be divided fairly between six persons, each should receive four-sixths of one duck and upon this basis I quickly made the apportionment. As to the fish, which could not have weighed more than a half pound, it was somewhat difficult to divide, and so it was voted that the leader of the expedition should have the entire fish ration. This courtesy on the part of my companions was gratefully acknowledged, and I venture to say that I regarded it at the time as one of the highest compliments ever paid to leadership.
It is perhaps needless to add that fish and ducks were speedily disposed of, tents struck, and canoes again put into the water. We were now within two days of Lake Bemidji, which we had looked forward to as a post of relief since leaving Itasca. The only obstacle to rapid progress in the descent of the river was our exhausted condition, which seriously interfered with a vigorous use of the paddles.
A few yards below our last encampment, on turning a bond in the river, we came suddenly upon an old duck of the onzig species and her brood, which at this season are unfledged. This seemed a providential interposition, and I at once sent a charge from the shot-gun after them, but with no other effect than to
92kill one young duck and apparently wound its mother. As to the parent bird, however, I was greatly deceived; it affected for the moment to be disabled, flapped its wings upon the water as if it could not rise, in order to allow her young to escape, when she suddenly arose and winged her flight beyond the reach of my fowling-piece. Following the shot-gun, the Indians closed up, gesticulating and screaming loudly thereby frightening and keeping several of the ducks under water. An instant later, Chenowagesic sent his paddle straight home to the back of a juvenile duck, which, as soon as it came to the surface, was thrown into my canoe amid the shouts of the entire party. We were now two ducks ahead and hopeful of a further reinforcement of our commissariat before nightfall.
At ten o'clock we reached the mouth of a stream, having its source in a lake a few miles north of Lake Itasca. This is the second tributary entering on the right, and is the largest as well as the longest so far encountered. I named it La Salle River, in honor of Chevalier Robert de la Salle.
Several flocks of pigeons passed over our heads early in the afternoon, but as they were so far above us as to be out of shot range, I did not think it advisable to waste ammunition. My brother noticed a deer grazing at some distance from a point where we landed to search for blueberries; but while he crept up cautiously to within a few yards, he failed in his shot, either from the distance or want of practice. He immediately threw a fresh cartridge into his gun and fired again, before the animal had made many leaps, but to no purpose.
A halt was made at three o'clock for rest and
93refreshment, for we were so much exhausted by this time from paddling and want of food that we could proceed no farther. Lagard helped me out of my canoe and led me to the shade of a small tree, for on attempting to walk I found I was too weak to do so without assistance. The two ducks killed in the morning, together with a mud-turtle caged by Chenowagesic, were quickly broiled, and as quickly devoured. A few blueberries were gathered by George, which he divided equally among his companions.
At four o'clock the canoes were again put into the water and the descent of the river continued. Our progress for some miles was greatly retarded by a sluggish current, the route lying through wild rice savannas, the most extensive we had yet seen. These rice savannas seem indispensable to the Indian tribes of the Upper Mississippi, who rely upon them largely for their winter sustenance. Toward evening we came to the junction of a considerable stream, known among the Indians as the Pinidiwin River. This river originates in a lake on the northwestern summit of a range of hills called the Hauteur des Terres. It has another lake also near the point where it enters the Mississippi. One of these lakes is known as Monomina, the other I named Beltrami, after the eminent Frenchman who preceded Schoolcraft in Mississippi exploration.
Just below the mouth of the Pinidiwin a flock of wild geese passed over our heads. This was, under the circumstances, a very great temptation, and, while they were apparently beyond short range, I ventured a round of munition upon them, without effect. This was a hard blow. The sun was sinking behind
94the distant hills, and although we had eaten nothing since six o'clock in the morning, there was now no prospect of securing food before reaching Lake Bemidji. It was suggested that we should continue the descent during the night, but this was considered impracticable, as the channel was so tortuous and unsettled as to render navigation extremely difficult except in daylight. We were still passing through wild rice and blue grass savannas where the river is constantly changing its course, and the channel with which Chenowagesic was formerly familiar was now in many places filled up and overgrown with reeds and rushes.
We disembarked at eight o'clock, about ten miles below the mouth of the Pinidiwin, and pitched our tents in a pine grove on the left bank. The day's descent was indeed an arduous one. George and Paine estimated it at twenty miles. Taking into consideration a sluggish current and lack of rations, it must be admitted that our progress was all that could have been expected.
Chapter VIII. — Bemidji to Winnibegoshish.
Near Lake Bemidji, Minnesota,
July 26, 1881.
STRUCK tents at sunrise. Shot a muskrat with our last round of ammunition, and killed two ducks with paddles early in the forenoon, which, with a few blueberries gathered by the guides, gave us a scant dinner. Had we not been thus favored, it is hard to say what our fate might have been, for we were so much reduced in strength by this time that it was with the greatest difficulty we continued the descent of the river, aided only, as we were, by a sluggish current, and too weak to accomplish much with our paddles. A breakdown seemed inevitable, but this timely relief gave us renewed energy and braced us up for more vigorous work in pushing forward the canoes.
We met a canoe late in the afternoon, about ten miles above Lake Bemidji, in which there were an Indian, his squaw and pappoose. Finding they had some dried fish and a small quantity of maple sugar, we proposed a purchase, which was made after
96considerable parleying, and which resulted in our securing four small perch and about two pounds of sugar. The Fates certainly favored us on this occasion, for had we been a few moments later we should not have seen these Indians, as at the time of our meeting they were about turning from the Mississippi to ascend one of its tributaries.
As soon as we were in possession of sugar and fish it was voted that nothing should be eaten until our usual hour for supper; but I may add that our wise resolutions were not very strictly adhered to, and the official having charge of the sugar was frequently visited upon errands having no reference to the points of the compass.
We readied the mouth of the eastern fork of the Mississippi at five o'clock. This stream, to which allusion was made during our voyage to Lake Itasca, unites with the western fork about three miles south of Bemidji. We were now in latitude 47° 28' 46". Of the two primary streams which unite at this point, the one flowing from the west contributes by far the larger volume of water, possessing the greater velocity and breadth of current.
A few moments before six o'clock we entered a beautiful little lake of clear water and a picturesque margin, spreading transversely to our course, to which I gave the name of Marquette. Chenowagesic led the way directly north across this body of water, striking the river again on its opposite shore.
The Mississippi at the point of leaving Lake Marquette is a broad, shallow channel, with rapid current. I estimated this channel to be not more than one hundred yards long, at which distance we entered the
97largest lake yet encountered in our seaward voyage. This fine body of water is known to the Chippewas as Pemidjegumaug, which is the Lac Traverse of the early French explorers. It appears upon the recent maps of Minnesota as Bemidji, which is an indifferent abbreviation of its original title. The peculiarity recognized by the Indian name of Pemidjegumaug, or cross-water, is found to consist in the circumstance of the entrance of the Mississippi into its extreme southern end, and its passage through or across part of it at a short distance from the point of entrance.
Lake Bemidji is in every way a magnificent sheet of water, twelve miles in length from north to south, and six or seven broad, fringed by an open forest of hard wood. It is distant one hundred and forty-eight miles from the source of the river, and lies at an elevation of 1456 feet above the Gulf of Mexico, in latitude 47° 32' 45".
Continuing our course we paddled across the southern end of Lake Bemidji to its outlet. Descending the river a short distance we came to high ground, which was considered favorable for a camp; halted and pitched tents a few moments before sunset. Here we were again brought to the realization of an empty larder. Every grain of sugar had disappeared. The last round of ammunition was gone, and but four small dried perch left to carry us to Lake Winnibegoshish, distant about a hundred miles; for we had now learned that the trading post at this point, and also that at Cass Lake, had some time since been abandoned. The fish were carefully cut up and distributed, which, with a few blueberries found near our encampment, afforded temporary refreshment and sent us to our tents musing,
98not so much upon the beautiful scenery which had arrested our attention during the afternoon, as upon the probabilities of bagging something of an eatable character on the morrow.
Cass Lake, Minnesota,
Launched our canoes a few minutes after sunrise. Killed two small mallard ducks and one mud-turtle with our paddles, which, with the usual addition of the never-failing blueberries, gave us an indifferent breakfast at ten o'clock. All hands very weak again from want of sufficient food.
Reached Cass Lake at three o'clock in the afternoon. Here we found a wigwam on the shore of the lake occupied by an Indian woman and her children. A careful exploration brought to light a few dried fish, which we at once purchased with money and tobacco, the latter article being especially appreciated.
Dame Fortune seemed to be with us once more, and hastening back to our canoes we paddled directly across the lake, disembarking at a point near its outlet. Tents were pitched and preparations for supper begun, for we now had something to eat, and were in no humor to defer the eating. Desirous of adding something of a nourishing character to our small stock of dried fish, Chenowagesic and the Lagards were instructed to forage in the vicinity of our encampment. They soon returned, reporting the discovery of a deserted wigwam and a large garden of growing corn
99and potatoes. This garden, well filled with half-grown potatoes, was to my starving companions an object of sincere admiration, especially when we were told by our guides that in the Indian country the hungry are always at liberty to help themselves. Under the circumstances, this practice of our red brothers was well calculated to inspire us with the most exalted ideas of aboriginal generosity, and the alacrity with which we helped ourselves to those juvenile potatoes fully attested our appreciation.
After supper all went down to the lake and had a full bath, then returned to our tents thankful for the favors of the day, and loud in our praises of Indians who plant corn and potatoes.
Cass Lake is a fine body of transparent water, about eighteen miles in length, with several large bays and islands, which give it an irregular shape. The largest island, called Grande Ile by the French, is the Gitchiminis of the Indians. This island has a very fertile soil, and has always been a favorite garden spot with the Chippewas for raising maize or Indian corn. Cass Lake was the terminus of the respective explorations of Lieutenant Zebulon Pike, in 1806, and Governor Lewis Cass, of Michigan, in 1820. The points at which they approached it were not, however, the same. Pike visited it in a dog-train on the snow during the month of January, across the land from the trading post of the Northwest Company at Leech Lake. Cass landed in July, after tracing its channel from Sandy Lake to the entrance of Turtle River, the line of communication to Turtle Lake, which was for many years the reputed source of the Mississippi. The northern shore of Cass Lake lies in latitude
10047° 25' 23". The Mississippi at the point where it flows from the lake is one hundred and seventy-five feet wide.
CABIN OF MISSIONARY,
Lake Winnibegoshish, Minnesota,
All were up and doing at daylight. The Lagards hurried off to the potato field, while George and Chenowagesic made a rousing fire in which to roast the potatoes. None but those accustomed to frontier life can appreciate the luxury of potatoes baked in ashes; and our supper and breakfast at Cass Lake are among the things long to be remembered in connection with our experience on the Upper Mississippi.
Having some tobacco, with which we had provided ourselves at Saint Paul for dealing with the Indians, we placed a small quantity in a conspicuous place in the wigwam, concluding that when the strolling Chippewa occupants should return they would find acceptable payment for the potatoes confiscated by their white brothers.
As soon as breakfast was over, tents were struck, blankets rolled, and by six o'clock we were again in the canoes pulling vigorously for Lake Winnibegoshish, our next destination. The river looked very beautiful that morning, rippling over its gravelly bed and flecked with the cool shadows of bluffs and trees, its surface varied now and then by small rapids, shooting down which the water lashed itself against the boulders. Farther along the rapids ceased and the river flowed between waving meadows of wild rice.
We met several Indians in canoes at nine o'clock. Halted and parleyed with them for dried fish, but failed to accomplish anything, as they had barely enough for their own use. Tempted them with tobacco but they would not part with their fish. Later in the forenoon we disembarked and ascended the bank of the river, where we found a squaw and her children at work drying berries. Having some dried venison at her wigwam near by, she generously divided with us, receiving money in payment. Hurried back to our canoes and continued the descent of the river, eating venison and berries as we urged our little fleet toward Winnibegoshish.
A heavy swell followed by a rising and falling of the canoes betokened our near approach to a large body of water, and at eleven o'clock we shot out upon the bosom of Lake Winnibegoshish, the largest and grandest of all the great lakes of the Great River.
Our arrival at Winnibegoshish was at a time when a strong south wind blew its waters into white-capped waves, and it was at the imminent risk of swamping that the canoes were forced along the western shore and into the little bay upon which the Indian village stands. I shall not soon forget the peculiar sensations experienced when I realized that I was in a frail canoe in a heavy sea two or three miles from land. I would have given a good deal at this time if I could have suddenly placed my feet upon a firm foundation.
Although my proposition to cross the lake was stoutly opposed by the guides there seemed to be no alternative, as we were again without food and felt sure that something of an eatable character could be secured at the Chippewa village on the opposite side
102of the lake. For nearly two hours we pulled right lustily for our destination, sometimes riding upon the topmost waves, and again struggling in the trough of the sea. I felt several times that to get out of such a fix I would willingly fast six months. I would have given every dollar I had in the world to have been safely landed anywhere on the face of the earth. Finding that my pilot coveted such a hat as his captain wore, I promised to keep him well supplied with hats for some years to come if he landed me safely in the village towards which we were paddling. Our canoes soon became detached by ponderous waves which tossed us about quite at their pleasure, and no opportunity was found to discuss the situation; but I sincerely wished that all birch canoes had been consigned to perdition before we saw Winnibegoshish. We struck the beach at three o'clock in the afternoon, heartily glad that we stood once more on terra firma.
On disembarking we were very cordially received by a large number of Chippewas, headed by Kitchinodin, an Indian missionary, who welcomed us to their village, the missionary extending to me the courtesy of a bed in his cabin, and suggesting a favorable place for pitching the tents of my companions. These were the first civilities shown us in the descent of the Mississippi, and the three days that we were wind-bound at this Chippewa village afforded me an excellent opportunity for studying Indian character and habits.
When told that we had been many days without regular food, Kitchinodin promptly supplied us with such meats and vegetables as he could procure, and insisted that I should feel at home in his cabin.
Having been duly installed as the guest of Kitchinodin, I looked forward with considerable interest to our dinner, which I soon discovered was in course of preparation. Everything being ready, Kitchinodin turned to me and said in the best English he could command, and with some hesitation: Ne-che, din-ner-is read-y. Then taking me by the hand he led me into his cabin and placed me at the side of a plain wooden table opposite his wife. He seated himself at the end of the table, and in serving the few simple dishes which constituted our repast was assisted by an intelligent-looking Indian girl who carried a juvenile Kitchinodin in one arm and waited upon the table with the other. Dinner consisted of dried fish, potatoes, green corn, and red raspberries, which are found in abundance wherever there is a clearing in the neighborhood of this lake. Before proceeding with dinner my reverend host indicated, by raising his right hand and bowing his head, that he desired to ask a blessing. This was invoked in the Ojibway dialect, and with all the fervor of a true Christian.
Having embraced Christianity, this son of the forest manifested that respect for the practices of civilization which almost invariably follow conversion. He said to me through the interpreter that he desired to imitate and live as far as possible in accordance with the suggestions and teachings of his white brothers. He asked my advice in many things, and hoped my sojourn at Winnibegoshish would be much longer than I had contemplated. Dinner being over, Kitchinodin invited me to walk with him through the village, after which we sat down in the shade of his cabin and looked out upon the lake.
Lake Winnibegoshish, the largest lake of the Mississippi, is about twenty miles in its greatest length from north to south, and fifteen or sixteen broad from east to west. Its northern shore lies in latitude 47° 28' 32". This imposing lake was first seen by white men in 1806, when Hon. Lewis Cass, of Michigan, and Lieutenant Pike, United States Army, reached it during their tour of exploration on the Upper Mississippi. It was subsequently visited by Schoolcraft in 1832, when on his way to Lake Itasca. The waters of Winnibegoshish have a slightly turbid aspect after the prevalence of storms, which appears to reveal its shallowness with a probably white-clay bottom. The Chippewa name of Winnibegoshish is indeed said to be derived from this circumstance.
Chapter IX. — Habits and Traditions of The Chippewas.
HOME OF KITCHINODIN,
Lake Winnibegoshish, Minnesota,
July 29, 1881.
IT was my intention on our arrival at Lake Winnibegoshish to continue the descent of the river on the following morning, but, finding ourselves wind-bound at the appointed time for re-embarking, I decided to improve the day by further informing myself concerning the peculiar habits and religious notions of the Chippewas. Conversations with Kitchinodin convinced me that he was far above the ordinary Indian in point of natural intelligence and acquired knowledge of the practices and traditions of his race. He is a regularly ordained missionary of the Episcopal Church, having been duly appointed by Bishop Whipple, of Minnesota. Perfectly familiar with the current beliefs and superstitions of the Chippewas, he told me through my interpreter of many of the obstacles with which he has to contend in making converts to Christianity.
Their notions of religion appear to be of the most simple character; they believe in the existence of an
106only God, whom they term Ka-sha-ma-ne-to, or Great Spirit; Kasha signifying great, and Maneto an irresistible Almighty Being. The epithet Kasha is never applied to any other word but as connected with the Supreme Being. It would be highly indecorous to apply it to a house, a horse, or any other visible object. Yet it is in a few instances applied to a good man in order to give more force to the expression by connecting his good qualities with those which they ascribe to the Great Spirit. They recognize also an evil spirit, whom they call Mat-cha-ma-ne-to. This unfavorable epithet is not restricted in its application, but is extended to all unpleasant or disagreeable objects. They consider themselves indebted to the Good Spirit for the warm winds from the south, while the evil one sends the cold winds and storms of the north. The Kashamaneto dwells in the land of the mid-day sun, while the Matchamaneto resides in the cold regions of the north where the sun never shines.
Their worship appears to be addressed principally to the Evil Spirit, whom they think it expedient to propitiate; the good one needing no prayers, for his essential goodness will always induce him to assist and protect man without being reminded of it by his petitions; neither do they believe that their prayers to the Evil Spirit can in any manner displease the good. In certain cases, however, as when afflicted with disease, or when impelled to it in a dream, they will offer a sacrifice of living animals to the Kashamaneto. This is usually done at the suggestion of one of their chiefs or leaders, who calls all the warriors together, explains his views, and appoints one of them to go in search of a buck; to another he commits the killing
109of a raccoon; to a third he allots some other animal to be killed; and when they have been successful in their respective hunts, they meet and fasten the first buck which they kill upon a high pole, and leave it in this situation so that it may serve as a sacrifice to the Great Spirit. Upon the remainder of the chase they feast. After having boiled the game they partake of it in the name of the Great Spirit. The object of these sacrifices is to insure luck in their pursuits, whether of hunting or fighting.
The only period when they have regular sacrifices is during the winter and spring of the year, at which time many of the warriors give feasts; each selects the time that suits him best, and invites such guests as he thinks proper. Having assembled them all, he rises, takes a sort of tambourine, formed by fastening a piece of skin or parchment upon a frame, which he beats while he addresses himself to the divinity, accompanying his invocation with many violent gestures. When he has concluded, he resumes his seat, and hands the tambourine over to another, who proceeds in the same manner. They have regular songs which they sing together on such occasions.
Among the Chippewas, polygamy is not only allowed but even encouraged. A man frequently has two or three wives, sometimes four or five, according to his skill and success as a hunter. An Indian who has many wives is respected as being a better or more favored hunter than he who has but one wife; it therefore follows that the number of wives he keeps is equal to that which he can maintain.
They are very attentive to the proper education of their children, in order to impart to them those
110qualities of both mind and body which shall enable them to endure privation and fatigue, and to obtain influence in the councils of the nation, or during their military operations. Kitchinodin said that, when very young, his father began to instruct him in the traditions, laws and ceremonies of his tribe, in order that he might one day benefit his country with his counsel.
The education of boys usually commences at the age of ten or twelve years; they accustom them early to the endurance of cold by making them bathe every morning in winter. They likewise encourage them to abstinence from food in order that they may acquire the more readily those attributes which it is desirable for an Indian to possess.
Parents use no compulsory means to reduce their children to obedience; still, they generally succeed in obtaining a powerful influence over them by acting upon their fears; they tell them that if they do not do as they are required they will incur the displeasure of the Great Spirit, who will deprive them of all luck as hunters and as warriors. This, together with the constant and never-ceasing importance which the children observe that their parents attribute to luck in all their pursuits, is found to have the desired effect upon the minds of all those who are fired with the ambition of becoming distinguished at some future day by their skill and success.
Their fasts are marked by the ceremony of smearing their faces and hands with charcoal. To effect this, they take a piece of wood of the length of the finger and suspend it to their necks; they char one end of it, and rub themselves with the coal every
111morning, keeping it on until after sunset. No person whose face is blackened presumes to eat or drink during the period of fasting; whatever may be the cravings of his appetite he must restrain them until evening, when he may wash off his black paint and indulge moderately in the use of food. The next morning he repeats the ceremony of blackening his face, and continues it from day to day until the whole of his piece of wood is consumed.
After this term they either suspend or continue their fasting, according to the particular requirements of the case. Kitchinodin said that in no instance within his recollection had Indians been known to break their fasts; so powerful indeed is their superstitious dread of that "ill luck" which would attach to a transgression of their rules, that even children have been, in vain, tempted to take food when at the houses of teachers and beyond the control of their parents. Neither does it appear that they indulge after sunset in any unreasonable gratification of their appetite: in this respect therefore they prove themselves more consistent than the Mahometans, who are said, while their Ramadan or Lent lasts, to make up by the debaucheries of the evening for the restrictions imposed upon them during the day by the precepts of their Prophet.
The same apprehensions which will prevent an Indian, whether man or boy, from tasting food while covered with his coating of charcoal, will not allow him to shorten the term of his penance by consuming the piece of wood too hastily. If he does not use it sparingly, he is certain that the charm or virtue with which he invests it will be dispelled. In addition to
112fasting, the Indian attempts to impress upon his off-spring a permanent and unshaken belief in the existence of a Great Spirit, ruler of the universe, whose attributes are kindness to men and a desire of relieving them from all their afflictions. The necessity of doing all that may be grateful to him is often recurred to in those exhortations by which every Indian parent instructs his sons both morning and evening.
It does not appear that the same care is extended to the religious principles of females; they are not allowed to take part in the public sacrifices, and as they have no concern in the noble occupations of war or the chase, it matters but little whether or not they are agreeable in the sight of the Great Spirit. The only inducement which they have to pray is that they may continue to hold a place in the affections of their husbands.
The Chippewas are of the opinion that they have always existed in the neighborhood of the head waters of the Mississippi. They are also of the belief that the first man and woman were made by the Great Spirit. Their traditions at first mentioned but one original couple, the parents of the red people, from whom they believe themselves to have descended. But when they became acquainted with the different races of men, they supposed a couple of white and another of black had likewise been created by the Supreme Being, and that these had given rise to the white and black people whom they had since seen. Soon after the white men came among them they were told that far away towards the setting sun there was a race of people whose features and complexion resembled theirs. This had led them to much reflection and discussion. They had often inquired of other nations whence
113they came, but found strong reasons for adhering to their old tradition, that the land on which they now resided was that upon which the Great Spirit had first placed them.
Indians generally admit the existence of a future life of which, however, they entertain very confused ideas, believing for the most part that the spirits of those who have lived a good life will go to a country where they can pursue without fatigue their favorite occupation of hunting, where animals will be plentiful and fat. Not so with the spirits of the bad; theirs will be a country barren and nearly destitute of game, where the chase will become a painful and unprofitable occupation.
It is impossible on seeing this strange people at present not to feel that the time for obtaining correct information from them has long since passed away; they have imbibed from the missionaries so many notions which certainly did not belong to them originally, and the crafty policy of their chiefs to counteract the effect of their intercourse with white men has raised so many idle and false traditions, that it is difficult to distinguish the genuine from the false doctrines attributed to these nations in their original state. Of the many interesting customs which, according to their traditions, formerly prevailed among them, the degeneration of none is more to be regretted than that which accompanied the marriage ceremony. This has now nearly disappeared from the face of the country. Their intermarriages with other nations have become so frequent, and the demoralizing tendency of their intercourse with the traders has been so great, that it has led them to neglect practices which were recommended to them by a venerable antiquity.
Referring to the form of courtship among the Chippewas, Kitchinodin said that formerly when a young man had conceived an attachment for a female, or wished to make her his wife, he gave the first intimation of his design by throwing a deer into the lodge of the girl's parents. This he would repeat for several days, after which the father usually asked him what object he had in doing so, and whether it was to obtain his daughter. The young man having replied in the affirmative, the relatives of the girl would, if they approved of the connection prepare a dress for the youth, which they would take to his wigwam, and there the damsel's father would invest him with it. He would then take him home with him, and introduce him to the bride; there the lover remained ten or twelve days, until his friends had prepared the presents they intended for his wife's family. It was usual for the young couple to dwell with the bride's parents for the term of a year, during which time the husband was virtually a servant in the family, giving his father-in-law all the produce of his limit. At the expiration of this term he was at liberty to remove his wife to his own wigwam and treat her as he liked.
The power of the husband over his wife was unlimited; he might even put her to death if he chose, and she lost all claim to the sympathy and protection of her own relatives. They never would resent any treatment which she had been made to endure. There was no fixed time for marrying. Girls were sometimes betrothed at a very early age, long before maturity. The presents which it was customary to make were always of the most valuable kind, and
115consisted of horses, venison, guns and many other things that were likely to be of service to the contracting parties.
It was the custom when an Indian married one of several sisters to consider him as wedded to all; and it became incumbent upon him to take the others as concubines. The marrying of a brother's widow was not approved, but was always looked upon as a very improper connection. The intercourse of persons related by blood was likewise disapproved and discouraged.
The circumstances which attend funerals are also worthy of notice. They have, it is true, but few ceremonies at the time of the removal of the corpse; but the manner in which this duty is performed deserves mention. The greatest pains are taken that all should be transacted in the most decorous manner. The spot selected is always as dry as can be found in the vicinity of their villages. The body of the deceased is clothed in his best garments, and, if the relatives can afford it, new clothes are obtained for this purpose. His moccasins, rifle, knife, money, silver ornaments, in fact the whole of his possessions, are placed near him: the corpse is laid with its face turned towards the east. A small quantity of food is placed near the head. The funeral is generally attended by all the relatives, who express their grief by weeping. An Indian is buried in an erect, seated, or inclined posture, according to the wishes and directions which he may have given previous to death; for these are always most implicitly obeyed. The graves in which Indians are buried are generally from four to five feet in depth. If the deceased had, previous to death,
116signified a desire to be deposited in a tree, his wish is attended to; otherwise the body is always interred. When the corpse is to be placed in a tree, it is first sewed up in a blanket, and this is suspended to the branches. The friends of the deceased visit it frequently until they observe that the body is decaying; they then shake hands with it and bid it a last farewell. But even after this they return yearly to visit the spot where it is deposited, and uniformly leave some food near it.
At the time of a funeral they often light a fire near the head of the grave, and upon this they prepare their feast, throwing a part of the food on the grave for the use of their friend. If they have whiskey they likewise scatter some on the ground, but of this they are sparing, doubtless from the belief that the living require it much more than the dead. An invocation is then made to the deceased, who is entreated to speed his course direct to the Great Prairie without casting his eyes back, for they hold that, if on his way to the land of spirits he were to look behind him, it would bring ill luck upon some one of his relatives, to whom it would be a signal that his company was required by his departed friend. It is customary to mark the grave with a post, on which are inscribed in hieroglyphics the deeds of the deceased, whether of hunting or fighting.
The Chippewas are particular in their demonstrations of grief for departed friends. These consist in darkening their faces with charcoal, fasting, abstaining from the use of vermilion and other ornaments in dress. They also make incisions in their arms, legs and other parts of the body, from a belief that their
117grief is internal, and that the only way of dispelling it is to give it a vent through which to escape. Their outward signs of grief are not merely of a temporary character; they are more lasting than among those who consider themselves higher in the scale of refinement than the red man. Chenowagesic observed that he had abstained from the use of vermilion for the past fifteen years on account of the loss of a valued friend, and he meant to persist in this practice ten years longer. The deceased was not a relative, merely a friend. Public opinion requires of them some mourning for departed relations; but the Indian graduates his expressions of grief according to the value in which he held the deceased, rather than with reference to the mere relationship in which nature or accident placed him in life.
Much to my regret the conversation with Kitchinodin was suddenly brought to a close by the departure of Chenowagesic for his home at Leech Lake. This interview with the missionary was full of interest, and gave me a clearer insight into Indian character than I had as yet been able to gather from other sources.
The red man appears to me to possess some ideas of virtue and morality, which are fully as commendable as those that are supposed by many philosophers to be characteristic of civilization only. True, they are perhaps but too frequently checked in their growth by the uncontrolled sway which his evil propensities exercise over him; propensities which doubtless have been increased by an indiscriminate intercourse with the most worthless of white men, who, to serve their own selfish ends, have not been ashamed to
118stimulate the Indian to deeds which his own good sense would have prevented him from perpetrating.
The valuable service rendered by my faithful guide, Chenowagesic, made his retirement at Lake Winnibegoshish one of the notable events of our voyage. The ceremonies attending his leave-taking were made impressive by reason of the important part he had borne in leading us to the Source of the Mississippi. Our parting took place in front of a cluster of wigwams near the shore of the lake. George, Paine, the Lagards, Kitchinodin and many Indians from the village were present.
As soon as all were assembled I arose, and, addressing Chenowagesic, recounted the leading incidents of our journey to Lake Itasca and beyond. Spoke of our discovery and the privations we had endured in the descent of the river. Thanked him for the important duty he had performed, and expressed the hope that, after a visit to his family, he would be able to rejoin us at Aitkin and complete the voyage with us to the Gulf.
When I had concluded my remarks I paid Chenowagesic and Sebatise Lagard, who was to return to Leech Lake with him, for the time they had served. Gave each a photograph of myself, and divided equally between them all the tobacco we had in reserve. This done, Chenowagesic straightened himself up to his full height and began speaking. In a manner characteristic of the Indian he prefaced his speech by referring to the circumstances under which we had met at Leech Lake. Related his impressions on first
121seeing me. Referred to his promise to guide me to the TRUE SOURCE of the Great River; spoke with pride of his having accomplished all that he had undertaken and closed by trusting that it might be his good fortune to rejoin us at Aitkin, as I desired; but should he not be able to do so, he would anticipate meeting me and my companions in the Happy Hunting Ground. A general hand-shaking followed, after which Chenowagesic and Sebatise got into their canoe and started for Leech Lake.
Chapter X. — Lake Winnibegoshish to Grand Rapids.
Lake Winnibegoshish, Minnesota, July 30, 1881.
NOT WITHSTANDING the still turbulent condition of the lake and threatening southeasterly winds, we re-embarked at sunrise and continued our course with much difficulty for several hours along its western shore. The increasing strength of the wind, however, and consequent heavy sea forced us to run ashore at ten o'clock, at a point known among the fur traders as Old School Station. Here we were compelled to spend the day listening to the roar and swash of the waves as they lashed the beach in their fury.
It was voted that we would not venture upon the lake again until the "white caps" had entirely disappeared, and so we set to work to make ourselves as comfortable as possible. Tents were pitched, blankets spread, and preparations for dinner begun, for we were now in possession of a small quantity of meat and potatoes secured from the Indians through the kindness of Kitchinodin.
All day we waited and watched anxiously for a calm, but it did not come, and finally despairing of an opportunity to launch our canoes before morning, we retired to our tents. About midnight our slumbers were disturbed by the sound of paddles and voices in the little cove on the shores of which we were encamped; then the slight grating of a canoe on the beach; and presently two villainous-looking Indians appeared armed with Winchester rifles, one of whom I learned from my interpreter was a double murderer. They seemed to feel quite at home; blew the embers of our fire into a blaze and curled up in their blankets beside it. We let them alone, and though they made no further demonstration, we hardly slept as soundly afterwards.
Ten Miles below Winnibegoshish,
On coming from our tents a little before sunrise we found Winnibegoshish as angry and boisterous as ever. A heavy sea, the presence of white caps, and the roar of waves as they broke upon the beach, were not well calculated to hasten the launch of our canoes.
Breakfast was soon ready and over. A hurried consultation led me to decide that, let the consequences be what they might, we could not wait longer, but must cross the lake at once and enter the river. Our effort, was a success, but was attended with considerable risk, the wind being so strong ahead as to greatly
124retard the advance of the canoes, which were sometimes nearly filled with water.
After five hours of vigorous paddling against wind and wave we reached the outlet and continued the descent of the river, gliding along delightfully, aided by a brisk current, until we came to another lake known as Little Winnibegoshish. Here we again encountered high winds and rough water, but by hugging the eastern shore around to the outlet we avoided some of the unpleasant experiences of the morning.
Little Winnibegoshish is only about three-fourths of a mile below its namesake. It is a beautiful sheet of water of very respectable dimensions, and but for its nearness to the larger lake would attract much more attention than it has hitherto received.
The Lakes Winnibegoshish occupy a position on the American Continent, and particularly in relation to the Upper Mississippi, which makes it desirable to acquire more accurate details and observations than it fell to our lot to be enabled to make. But in the absence of such data, such facts as our means permitted may be substituted. We were impressed with their extent, and the picturesque and diversified appearance of their woodland shores. Their geological features are similar to those of Bemidji and Cass lakes, being a basin of diluvial formation, occupying a position on the great marine sand district of Northern Minnesota. This district abounds in pure springs, and is so impervious in its lower strata that it has probably retained to the present day more water in the character of lakes, large and small, than any other part of the world.
There is a portage from Winnibegoshish for light
125packages of goods across the summit level of the Mississippi valley into Red Lake, and the fertile valley of Red River. The latter embraces the settlements planned by the Earl of Selkirk, the inhabitants of which maintained their existence for several years against the strenuous opposition of the Northwest Company.
White Oak Point, Minnesota,
Paine sounded reveille at ten minutes after four o'clock in the morning. All turned out promptly and began preparations for getting on the river. Progress in our canoes very slow. We followed the windings of the river ten miles, to advance two towards our objective. Had dried fish and potatoes for dinner. Met a party of Indian hay-makers after dinner, of whom we purchased a small quantity of dried meat. Passed the mouth of Leech Lake River on the right hand between three and four o'clock. This is a considerable stream, is the outlet of Leech Lake, and nearly doubles the volume of the Mississippi at its point of entrance. We reached White Oak Point between six and seven o'clock in the evening, where we found a Chippewa village presided over by a chief with an unpronounceable name, which Lagard interpreted as Dull Knife.
Not caring to avail myself of the courtesies extended by Dull Knife, we pitched our tents in an open field rather than occupy a filthy wigwam with ten or fifteen
126Chippewas. These Indians appeared to regard our arms and equipments with considerable curiosity, and especially my self-acting revolver, a weapon with which they had had no experience. Wishing to keep them at a respectful distance from my tent, I found much pleasure in showing them how effective it could be made in skillful hands. The experiment proved successful, for they could not readily understand how pulling the trigger could cock and discharge the revolver at the same instant. Naturally superstitious they were inclined to believe that the evil one had taken possession of me and could not be persuaded to approach my quarters, although I found them quite sociable whenever I appeared among them in their village.
Dull Knife was well advanced in years but had none of the infirmities of old age. The women were all very ugly and the children looked like little imps, in whose countenances and apparently deformed bodies we could scarcely discover the rudiments of men as tall and elegant as those who stood before us. Most of their youth had gone out on a hunting excursion. The men whom we saw were almost naked, having no other garment than the breech-cloth, but as we drew near them they gathered up their blankets. The women wore a short gown and a blanket; the children ran about naked, with no other appendage than a belt about their loins. It is curious to observe that all Indians, whether old or young, wear a belt even when they have nothing to attach to it; and the children, who seldom assume the breech-cloth before maturity, invariably have a belt tied around them as soon as they are able to walk.
One of the wigwams which we visited was about fifteen feet in diameter and fully twelve feet high at its centre; it was formed of bark secured to a frame made of poles and covered with the same material. Like the wigwams visited at Bemidji and Winnibegoshish it had the appearance of being very comfortable. The fire was made in the middle, the smoke passing out between the poles; the sides of the interior were occupied with a frame three feet high and four or five feet wide, which was covered with blankets and skins, upon which the inmates sit and sleep. There is no partition or anything that can serve as a screen to separate one part of the family from the other.
The disposition of these Indians was friendly. The object of the expedition was explained to them, to which they made no reply, but the chief directed his squaw to give us some maple sugar in return for the tobacco we had presented him. He expressed his regret at having no fresh meat to give us, but added that if his hunters returned that evening with meat he would send some to our camp. We were somewhat surprised by their familiar manner, which we at first mistook for intentional impudence.
They all collected around us and carefully examined our equipments, with which they seemed highly pleased. One of them drew my brother's hunting knife from the sheath, and having looked at it for some time, returned it; he then took Paine's hat, which was a sombrero, and after having examined this also with care, tried it on his own head. All this, however, seemed to proceed rather from childish curiosity than from any intention to give offence. After a time
128they began to beg for money which soon compelled us to retire to our tents.
Grand Rapids, Minnesota,
Had a light breakfast on dried fish and potatoes obtained from Indians. Launched our canoes at seven o'clock. While descending the river we met three canoes filled with Chippewas and their families. They were freighted with heavy rolls of birch bark, such as their canoes are made of; together with a small quantity of snake-root designed for the trading post at Grand Rapids. We halted at two o'clock for dinner, which consisted of dried meat, potatoes and blue-berries. The annoyance suffered from mosquitoes on this great plateau was almost past endurance. We re-embarked at a quarter past four and reached Pokegama Falls at five o'clock. At this point the first rock stratum and the first wooded island are seen. The river has an aggregate fall of twenty feet.
Making a portage around the falls, we continued our course towards Grand Rapids two miles and a half down the stream, shooting the rapids just above and arriving at the little hamlet of the same name a few minutes before seven o'clock. This pioneer village consists of a hotel, two stores, a saloon and three or four private houses, all built of logs. The Potter House is the first hotel encountered in the descent of the river, and is intended chiefly for the accommodation of hunters and lumbermen, who gather here during the
129fall and winter months. It was with quickened pace we answered the call of "supper" at this house, and with a keen appetite that we sat down to the first civilized table we had seen in seventeen days. The bill of fare, though not elaborate, was ample and consisted of beefsteak, potatoes, raspberries, tea and coffee. Very little ceremony was observed, and we "stood not upon the order of our going."
Chapter XI. — Grand Rapids to Aitkin.
Twenty Miles Below Grand Rapids,
August 3, 1881.
We were detained at Grand Rapids until after dinner, in consequence of a heavy thunder-storm, which set in early in the morning and continued throughout the forenoon. Before leaving this place we provided ourselves with ten pounds of flour, the same quantity of bacon, one pound of coffee and three of sugar, rations considered necessary to carry us to Aitkin. George and Paine were compelled to exchange their birch canoe for a new one, as it had been rendered unseaworthy through the rough usage incident to our long voyage.
Re-embarked at one o'clock after shaking hands with every man in the place, a thing which we were not likely to attempt in towns farther down the stream. The storm had passed away, leaving a genial temperature and a placid surface, with the current somewhat accelerated by the storm of the forenoon. We dipped our paddles with increased energy and made good progress toward the close of the day.
Seventy-five Miles Below Grand Rapids,
Put our canoes into the water a few minutes after six o'clock in the morning. We noted a decided change in the scenery. Higher banks and greater variety of trees, grasses and flowers. Halted for dinner near the mouth of Swan River. This is a considerable stream, originating in Swan Lake, near the source of the Saint Louis River, which empties into Lake Superior.
The current of the Mississippi continued to increase in strength; its velocity during the descent of this day was estimated by Paine at two and a half miles per hour. We passed a rapid a few miles below Trout River, where there is a computed descent of three feet in a hundred and fifty yards.
We met the City of Aitkin, a small steamboat, late in the afternoon, on its way from Aitkin to Grand Rapids. This pioneer craft was commanded by Captain Houghton of the former place, and deserves special mention as the first boat propelled by steam which we had thus far seen in the descent of the river. The clatter of a stern-wheel, much puffing and blowing, followed by the report of several shots fired by sportive passengers, betokened the approach of this wonder of the Upper Mississippi. The captain of the Aitkin and his gallant crew must have been well advised of our movements, for, as soon as they had reached a point opposite the one we had taken on the shore, they saluted us with several rounds of
132cheers, supplemented by a general discharge of fire-arms. This compliment was reciprocated on our part by three cheers and a Chippewa yell for Captain Houghton.
We disembarked a few minutes after six o'clock and, hurriedly pitching our tents, took shelter from a heavy thunder-storm which set in just as we were pulling our canoes from the water. In spite of every precaution our tents were blown down and all hands thoroughly drenched by the rain which fell upon us in torrents. The tents were pitched again, and again dashed to the ground by the wind, which came whistling and roaring through the pines about us.
Twenty-eight Miles Above Aitkin,
The rain-storm which opened as we were pitching our tents at Camp Thunder continued throughout the night, and we found clothing, blankets and equipments thoroughly soaked in the morning. Breakfasted on bread, bacon and coffee. Got into our canoes at seven o'clock. Met a party of Indians in the forenoon coming up the river. Halted and talked with them a few minutes through Lagard, who had seen two of their number some years before.
Stopped at a log-cabin in the afternoon and secured bread and vegetables of an Indian woman who was the wife of a white man. She spoke very indifferent English, but her children readily understood our wants, and when they had communicated them she seemed to find pleasure in supplying us with the best her humble cabin afforded.
Camp Mosquito, like most of our encampments, was located on high ground, overlooking the Mississippi, and, being in a bend of the river, gave us a fine view of the surrounding country. It may here be observed that the course of the Mississippi, below the Falls of Pokegama, is still serpentine, but strikingly less so than above, and its bends are not so short and abrupt. Its general course, until it reaches the rock formation of Pokegama, is easterly; thence to Sandy Lake inlet it flows in a south-easterly direction; from this point to the inlet of Crow Wing it is deflected to the southwest; thence, almost due south, to the mouth of the Watab River; and thence again southeast to the Falls of Saint Anthony. A geographical line dropped from the inlet of Sandy Lake, where the channel is first deflected, to the south-west, to the mouth of the Minnesota River, forms a vast bow-shaped area of prairie and forest lands of high agricultural capabilities, whose products will reach eastern and southern markets through the railways and waterways now opened and opening for the convenience of the settler. These prairies and grove lands constitute the ancient area of the Isati, described by Hennepin, and are now known chiefly as having been the predatory border, or battle-ground, of the Sioux, Dakotas and Chippewas.
Struck tents in the morning with high hopes — the prospect of reaching Aitkin in season for dinner. Since leaving Winnibegoshish "Aitkin" had been the first
134word in the morning and the last word at night. It meant something more than a return to civilization; it meant, for the remainder of our voyage, less exposure better accommodations and more congenial surroundings than had fallen to our lot in the Chippewa country. We reached the month of Mud River at two o'clock. Listening to the advice of Lagard we attempted to paddle up to Aitken, but found the stream too shallow and the current too strong to make it practicable, so I ordered my canoe, the Discovery, ashore and walked up to the village. George and his new pilot, whom he had christened "Commodore," continued for a time their endeavor to arrive at Aitken from the water front, but much to their chagrin capsized about three hundred yards below the town, in three feet of water. Beyond being thoroughly soaked, however, they were not injured, and George added another chapter to his already long list of mishaps. Just as his birch was rolling its occupants into the water he set us all roaring with laughter by singing out to his pilot: "Don't get wet, Commodore! Stick to the canoe! Nothing so refreshing as the bottom of Mud River!" Distance traversed this day about thirty miles. Lagard left for Leech Lake soon after our arrival, with the intention of rejoining us at Brainerd and continuing with us in our voyage to the Gulf.
Aitkin is the county-seat of Aitkin County, the most northern settlement of any importance on the Mississippi, and the nearest to its source. The county of which it forms the capital has an area of nineteen hundred square miles, and contains a scattered population of only about four hundred, half of which number are found in the town of Aitken. The latter
135is situated on Mud River, near its confluence with the Mississippi, and was founded by William Aitkin, an enterprising fur trader, about the year 1832. The inhabitants for the most part are actively engaged in the lumber trade. Situated on the line of the Northern Pacific Railway and at the junction of two rivers, one of them the greatest waterway on the continent, Aitken has, in consequence, within the last few years, become a flourishing centre of the lumber interest, and will doubtless make rapid progress in population and the development of its industry. It is distant from Duluth in a westerly direction only eighty-eight miles and, connected with the last-named city by railway, commands transportation facilities on both Lake Superior and the Mississippi.
Chapter XII. — Ten Days at Aitkin.
In order to perfect plans for a continuation of the descent of the Mississippi, reorganize our little party, inspect the new canoes which were awaiting us, prepare the lecture which I proposed to deliver at certain points, and send forward an advance agent, I concluded to remain a few days at Aitkin. Ten days were thus consumed and profitably employed.
Mine host of the hotel, Carlos Douglass, I found genial, hospitable and communicative; and to him we were indebted for comforts of which we had been for some time necessarily deprived. He also directed our rambles on the outskirts of the town and added much to the enjoyment of our stay here. The soil of the surrounding country is rich, and produces bounteously, the surface being interspersed with numerous small lakes of clear, fresh water abounding in fish, and their shores covered with a fine growth of pine, spruce and tamarack.
At Aitkin we dispensed with two of our birch-bark canoes, retaining only one for myself for my journey
137down to Saint Paul. Two modern canoes had been previously purchased at Saint Paul and forwarded to Aitkin to meet us on our arrival. One of these, a Rushton canoe, was built by a native of Saint Lawrence County, New York, in the neighborhood of my old home. While on my way up the river I had met Mr. A. H. Seigfried at Saint Paul. This gentleman is an attache of the Saint Paul Pioneer Press, and a veteran canoeist; he very courteously offered to place at my disposal his canoe, as being well adapted, in his judgment, for navigating the Mississippi. This snug craft was Rushton's "No. 93," and was designed to carry two persons. It had full bearings, a seven-feet cockpit, and consequently was sufficiently roomy. It was fitted with back-board, cushion and the necessary double-blade paddless The keel and stern were of oak, the ribs of red elm, and the sides of white cedar. Her length was sixteen feet, width at the bottom of the top streak thirty inches, and on the top twenty-eight inches. The depth of gunwale was nine and one-half inches; between deck and floor, twelve inches, and at the ends, seventeen inches. Her weight, without fittings, was eighty pounds; and though her capacity was set down at two persons, we afterwards found it was not impossible to carry three. She was one of the several patterns of Rushton's "American Traveling Canoe," and could be fitted with a leg-of-mutton sail and used as a sailing boat. However, hoisting sail on so light a craft on the Mississippi involved a risk, which, in our inexperience, we did not care to run; so stuck to our paddles throughout the entire voyage.
On reaching Aitkin on our way down the river I found the following letter, among others, awaiting me:
Saint Paul, Minnesota,
July 28, 1881.
CAPTAIN WILLARD GLAZIER,
MY DEAR SIR: I am advised by Mr. Warren Potter, of Aitkin that the boats have both arrived there, and are in his charge. I hand you herewith Mr. Hinckley's receipt, and bill-of-lading of my boat. Expecting to be absent from the second to the thirteenth of August, inclusive, I may not be here to receive the news of your arrival at Aitkin, but hope you may not reach Saint Paul ahead of me. I want to have a little pull down the Wisconsin, and shall hope to meet you here in due time. Yours very truly,
A. H. SEIGFRIED.
During my halt at Saint Paul on my way north, Mr. Seigfried had made me acquainted with H. L. Hinckley, a gentleman largely interested in canoes and their patrons, and having under his control quite a fleet of all sizes and builds on White-Bear Lake, a beautiful sheet of water near Saint Paul. From this gentleman I obtained much information of a practical character. Mr. Hinckley showed me several of his canoes, and offered valuable suggestions as to the selection of a second boat for the accommodation of our small party. I concluded to take a, "Racine Saint Paul," built on the Rob Roy pattern. As all canoeists are aware, the "Rob Roy" was the canoe originally adopted by Mr. Macgregor, and in build is a cross between the "birch-bark" of the Indians and the "kyak" of the Esquimaux. It is long and pointed, each end containing a water-tight compartment. In my judgment the "Rob Roy" pattern is the best boat for cruising on lakes and rivers, its build combining strength with lightness. Mr. Macgregor circumnavigated the Baltic Sea in his fourteen-feet "Rob Roy," coasted the bays
139and inlets of Sweden and Norway, and threaded the Danube, the Nile, and the Jordan. The "Racine Saint Paul," being an improved "Rob Roy" was a better-sailing craft and possessed equally good paddling qualities. The length of her deck was fourteen feet; greatest beam, twenty-six inches; depth from top of gunwale, twenty-one inches, with a cockpit eighteen by forty-two inches. She was propelled by a double-bladed paddle, and was capable of supporting the weight of a man if the middle was full of water. She was, therefore, to all intents and purposes, a life-boat, which it was impossible to swamp. Like the Rushton canoe, the "Saint Paul" could be fitted with a sail, but we preferred to make our enterprise a veritable canoe voyage, and so dispensed with a sail in her case also. The subjoined letter, referring to the boat purchased of Mr. Hinckley, also reached me here:
Near Saint Paul, Minnesota,
August 9, 1881.
CAPTAIN WILLARD GLAZIER,
DEAR SIR: I have read in the papers of your arrival at the source of the Mississippi, and presume that you are now well on your way back to Saint Paul.
Thinking you were beyond the reach of mail-carriers, I have delayed writing you, and perhaps delayed too long.
As to the "Rushton" canoe which I shipped to Aitkin for you, I found it difficult to arrange the air-chambers so as to be promptly taken out and put in, as was my first intention. They can be removed by taking out a few screws, but this may be found somewhat troublesome. If, in this particular, or any other, the boat does not satisfy you, I trust we shall be able to arrange matters before you start southward from this point.
If you find the canoe too small for your purpose it will not be too late to substitute one of my larger boats, one which I feel sure will be well adapted for your voyage on the lower Mississippi. I
consider the canoe you purchased of me well adapted for two men with a moderate amount of baggage. She has carried three men but I would not recommend more than two.
I wrote Mr. Warren Potter, of Aitkin, concerning a small piece of work on the boat which had been overlooked before she left Saint Paul. I hope my letter will reach you at Aitkin, and wishing you fair weather and a comfortable time generally,
I am very truly yours,
H. L. HINCKLEY.
Chapter XIII. — Aitkin to Brainerd.
Thirty Miles Below Aitkin,
August 16, 1881.
On the morning of the sixteenth of August our little fleet metaphorically weighed anchor and set sail from Aitkin — in other words, we launched our canoes and paddled out into the stream in presence of a considerable number of the inhabitants, who had assembled on the banks to witness our departure and wish us a successful voyage. As captain of the Discovery, I led the way, my entire crew consisting of a pilot engaged at Aitkin. Following me came my brother in the Rushton canoe, which we had named the Alice after my little daughter. He was also accompanied by a pilot. Mr. Paine in the Itasca, as we had christened the Rob Roy, though not "an elderly naval man," might have appropriately recited:
And the mate of this canoe;
And a bo'sun tight and a midshipmite,
And the crew and pilot too;"
142not because he had dined on his crew, but because he sat alone in his Rob Roy, and their duties devolved on him. Thus we glided from this hospitable shore, our immediate destination being Brainerd, ninety-five miles distant by the river, but only twenty-seven as the crow flies, the Mississippi along its entire length being very tortuous. We might have saved ourselves many miles of canoeing by making portages. In one instance the river took a sweep of seven miles, and returned to within five rods of its starting point. In this section it is about fifty yards in width, with a current of about six miles an hour. It frequently changes its course. "Snags" and "sawyers" abound, but gave us little trouble, our small light craft easily gliding around them. The National Government is busy, even here, in removing obstructions, and the day is not distant when a line of small steamers will run between Aitkin and Brainerd. The banks of the river are low, rising but a few feet above its surface, while broad savannas, covered in summer with blue-grass from six to eight feet in height, are spread over a wide extent of country, commencing at the borders of the river, and are annually submerged at high water. The grass makes excellent fodder for stock.
The timber of this region is chiefly pine, with occasionally a clump of spruce or tamarack. The surface of the land away from the river is somewhat rugged; and the frequent windings of the stream, the green savannas, and the sombre forests, unite in producing a very pleasing landscape. Water-fowl are found in abundance on all the upper waters of the Mississippi, and while mosquitoes exceed them in numbers, they may almost be said to rival them in size! New Jersey
143and Florida are famed for their mosquitoes. The swamps and bayous of Louisiana have their myriads; but of all these pestiferous insects I have ever seen and suffered from, I can truthfully say that the mosquitoes of the valley of the Upper Mississippi in numbers and voraciousness are unequalled.
Between Aitkin and Brainerd there were but two habitations to be seen from the river. With this exception, all was a solitary wilderness. The day was wearing to its close when we came in sight of the first of these rustic homes. It was a log-cabin perched upon the western bank of the river, and occupied by an American named John Polly and his family. The bank, which they had named "Pine Knoll," was steep — perhaps twenty feet in height. Ascending it with some difficulty we challenged the hospitality of the household. Half a dozen daughters of the house, ranging from ten years upwards, greeted us, and we were at once made cordially welcome. The cabin comprised two rooms and a loft. It was built in a clearing and surrounded by beech, birch, and maple trees. The proprietor, Mr. Polly, had a thriving garden, in which were promising crops of corn and potatoes, and his stock appeared in fire condition, while the industry and good taste of the young maidens had made the exterior of the premises bright with flowers. The interior was plain, and contained only the rude furniture of the pioneer, but it bore a homelike and comfortable look; and copies of "Harper's Monthly" and the "Century," together with other current literature, were lying upon the table, while the walls were decorated with sundry wood engravings extracted from the illustrated weeklies. The family proved to be a
144very superior one. They had resided in half a dozen different states, and had finally found a home in this wilderness; the nearest white settlement being Aitkin, twenty miles distant by the river.
After a pleasant evening's intercourse with the family the hour came for retiring, and we bunked upon the floor, the cabin affording no better sleeping accommodation for casual visitors, who seldom if ever trouble their domestic arrangements and circumscribed limits. We might have reposed peacefully through the night, had not a sudden and severe thunder-storm sent rivulets of water through the cracks and fissures of the log structure, which meandered in numerous and vigorous streams across the floor on which we had made our beds. Mrs. Polly was much annoyed at this state of things, and with many apologies endeavored to convince us that she was very much surprised at such an occurrence. The storm came to an end about midnight; the water was mopped up, and, wrapping our blankets once more about us, we lay down again upon our damp couch, and slept soundly till daylight.
Mouth of Pine River, Minnesota,
Launched our canoes at seven o'clock, with colors flying and all hands in the best of spirits. After presenting each member of our party with a bouquet the Pollys took position on the bank of the river and waved us off.
A mile below Pine Knoll we passed the Sioux
145Portage, so named from an incident connected with it, which was told to us by Mr. Polly, who explained that some ten or fifteen years before a band of Chippewas were descending the river closely pursued by a party of Sioux. The Chippewas, not being entirely familiar with its course, continued down the river, which here makes an extended detour to the eastward, then, retraces its course westward, on a nearly parallel line. The Sioux, better informed, made a portage of about fifty yards and then, reaching a point down stream, placed themselves in ambush upon the bank, awaiting the arrival of the Chippewas. The latter, supposing their enemies still in pursuit in their canoes, were completely surprised when the Sioux opened fire upon them from a point in advance, and the whole party were massacred in their boats.
Late in the afternoon one of our canoes was unfortunately capsized; the men who were in it regained the shore with some difficulty, but much of the luggage was lost or damaged. We had scarcely repaired, as much as lay in our power, the effects of this accident, when we observed the heavens overcast with dark clouds, portending an approaching storm. We immediately landed near the junction of Pine River, with a view to protecting our persons and stores from the rain.
About seven o'clock in the evening the storm broke out with more violence than is usually noted in this latitude. The precautions which we had taken proved of but little or no avail. The stores, which had been carefully packed in a canoe, and covered up as well as our limited means permitted, were much damaged by the water. The tents were pitched in as favorable a spot with respect to the trees as the ground would
146admit of, but not sufficiently so to render our position either safe or comfortable. Several trees in the vicinity of our encampment were struck by lightning, and the wind blew with such force that the crash of falling timber was frequently heard during the night.
Notwithstanding the comfortless situation in which we found ourselves, there was an irresistible interest in the scene. A storm is at all times one of the most splendid phenomena in nature; but when experienced in the gloomy forests of the Mississippi, in the midst of a solitude, with no companions but a few fellow-sufferers standing in a shivering attitude around a small fire, it receives additional interest; every flash of lightning displays a scene which the painter would wish to fix upon the canvas. The loud peals of thunder resound more forcibly when reverberated by the rocky bluffs which border upon the river, and they contrast sublimely with the low but uninterrupted muttering of the waters.
Although our tents were pitched soon after disembarking, we found it quite impracticable to occupy them, as our clothing, blankets, and in fact the ground itself, was thoroughly soaked. To avoid drowsiness we drank large quantities of coffee, and at the request of my companions I entertained them with the story of my capture, imprisonment and escape during the late war. Beginning with my capture in Northern Virginia in the fall of 1863, I went back again to Libby Prison, journeyed in cattle-cars to Danville, told them of the prison-pen at Macon and its "tunnels;" then of our sojourn at Savannah; our experience at Charleston "under fire," and our removal to the capital of the Palmetto State. I escaped again
147from Columbia; wandered through the swamps of Carolina and Georgia; was recaptured, tried as a spy at Springfield; escaped from Sylvania and reached the Federal lines at Savannah just as day was breaking.
We passed at the mouth of Pine River one of the most wretched nights of our long voyage, relieved somewhat, perhaps, by a narration of events which I had hardly recurred to in many years.
We drank more coffee at sunrise, and breakfasted on bread and bacon. Put our paddles into the water at six o'clock, and with favorable weather pulled with a will for Brainerd, our evening destination. Halted at one o'clock at the mouth of a small creek three miles above Brainerd, and had dinner in the shade of a large tree. Re-embarked at four o'clock in the afternoon. We had scarcely proceeded a mile when we were met by a large number of ladies and gentlemen in canoes and skiffs, including a detachment of the Brainerd Boat Club. Among those who were prominent in receiving us were Warren Leland, Arthur E. Chase, of the Tribune, and Dr. Rosser, brother of General Rosser, late of the Confederate service. Our greeting by these genial people, whom we had left some six weeks previously when starting for the head-waters of the Mississippi, was most cordial, and will not soon fade from the memory of those who were the recipients of their courtesies.
That evening, in accordance with an appointment,
148I delivered the first lecture of my trip in Bly's Hall after an introduction by Judge Chauncy B. Sleeper. The audience was large and attentive, and the subject presented was, "Pioneers of the Mississippi," in which I talked of De Soto, Marquette, La Salle, Hennepin, and others who had engaged in the exploration of the Great River. Several of my hearers showed their interest in the subject by coming long distances to the lecture, and one, George Barclay, a pioneer, told me he had brought his family thirty-seven miles with an ox-team to hear what I had to say of the old explorers.
An event subjecting me to some inconvenience at the time, but amusing in many of its details, occurred at this place. As the flotilla of citizens met me upon the river, the first question with which I was hailed was: "Captain, what did you have in your trunk?" I thought it a singular question, to say the least, and did not at first know whether to set it down to absolute impertinence or merely to the excessive but innocent curiosity of frontiersmen. However, the matter was soon explained. My trunk, containing clothing and other personal effects, had been despatched from Aitkin to Brainerd, and on the previous evening the express office in which it was stored had been broken into and the trunk stolen. The thieves had taken it into a pine thicket on the outskirts of the town and there rifled and distributed its contents among themselves. Fortunately for my lecture appointment I had brought a coat and vest with me in the canoe. At the very time I was delivering my lecture a half dozen ruffians, with my clothing on, were walking the streets of Brainerd. What they had no personal
149use for, they had pawned in the saloons for liquor. The beaded pipe and tobacco pouch presented me by Flat-mouth, with a pair of moccasins, were left at a saloon as a consideration for half a dozen drinks. A mosquito-helmet, made of bolting-cloth by my wife before we started for Northern Minnesota, and the use of which they failed to recognize, was offered and received in pawn as a dress. After the thieves had drunk quite freely at my expense, they went out to the "Last Turn," as a certain locality with a history is called, and lay down in a row in a state of intoxication.
The Northern Pacific Express Company, in whose charge the trunk had been placed, took active measures to discover the guilty parties and succeeded in finding and arresting them with some of my clothing still upon them. On the following morning I was subpoenaed to give evidence against them, and went out with the district attorney through the streets of the town in search of stray articles of apparel. During this search I met a man having on the pair of cavalry boots which I had worn on my horseback journey across the continent in 1876. We picked up articles here and there, some of which, as has already been mentioned, had been pawned.
At the examination which ensued, a man who expressed willingness to testify against the thieves was a little snubbed by the prosecuting attorney, who thought that he probably knew very little about the affair. But when his turn came to take the witness-stand, he told a straightforward and interesting story. He said he happened to pass the thieves in the woods, while they were engaged in the disposition of their booty, and thinking their proceeding a little strange, asked
150them what they were doing. They replied that they had just arrived from New York, and being too poor to go to a hotel, had decided to take advantage of the grand dressing-room which nature had furnished them, and make their toilet under the trees. They finally made their questioner a present of a shirt and a pair of drawers. The witness concluded his testimony by throwing open his coat and exclaiming, "And I've got one of Captain Glazier's shirts on now, your Honor!" The shirt spoke for itself, as my name was marked upon it. His evidence and mine were conclusive, and the thieves were remanded to appear at the next term of court. They were not persons, however, to be easily disconcerted, for while the testimony was being given, one of them drew a bottle of whiskey from his pocket, and passing it up to the judge, invited him to take a drink. It is needless to add that he was promptly reprimanded.
Brainerd has already been referred to as a thriving town. It is situated on the borders of an extensive pine forest, in a bend of the Mississippi, at the crossing of the river by the Northern Pacific Railroad. It is ninety-five miles below Aitkin by river, but only twenty-eight by railway. The town is literally built among the pine trees, the streets having been cut directly through the original forest, and only such trees removed as were necessary for building and business purposes. Brainerd is the second town from the source of the river, and, after Saint Paul and Minneapolis, one of the most enterprising and populous on the Upper Mississippi. Seen from the river, which winds around it, it is very picturesque, the tall pines, straight as an arrow, overtopping the houses, Without a
151history, this town appears to have leaped into existence with a considerable population, mostly of New England origin, and will doubtless in a few years become a city of respectable dimensions. The "Northern Pacific" has its shops located here, and this circumstance, together with the large and growing lumber interest, and the spirit and enterprise of the people who have cast their lot in this section, have given Brainerd its present prominence and prospective importance as a centre of industry. It is the capital of Crow Wing County is one hundred and thirty-six miles northwest of Saint Paul by railway, and supports a weekly paper and a bank. The population at the time of my visit was about three thousand five hundred.
Chapter XIV. — Brainerd to Monticello.
Crow Wing, Minnesota,
August 19, 1881.
BETWEEN two and three o'clock in the afternoon a considerable number of the citizens of Brainerd accompanied us to the bank of the river to witness the launch of our canoes and to send after us their good wishes. Warren Leland gave my canoe its send-off, and we were soon out of hearing of the cheers of the friendly multitude upon the shore.
We halted at nightfall at Crow Wing, where we found shelter and food at the home of Charles Bailey, who, though he kept no regular hotel, welcomed strangers under his roof. He entertained us throughout the evening with stories of his hunting exploits, some of which almost rivalled the adventures of Munchausen, and which he told so gracefully and with such an air of innocence and plausibility as to make them most convincing. He had killed, if I remember correctly, on some occasions, not less than forty deer in a single day, while the narration of his encounters
153with bears and wolves was quite enough to make the hair of the listener stand on end. What our host did not know of hunting and, I might add, of story-telling, was hardly worth knowing.
Crow Wing, a little hamlet of half a dozen farmhouses, is situated on the eastern bank of the Mississippi, just below its junction with Crow Wing River. Its history is brief. It was at one time a mission-station, and then aspired to become the great town of the Upper Mississippi; but the Northern Pacific Railroad dealt its death-blow by locating on a higher parallel of latitude and making its crossing of the river at Brainerd.
Little Falls, Minnesota,
At seven o'clock in the morning we were again afloat. The day was a beautiful one, and the current being perceptibly stronger, we made rapid progress towards Little Falls, our evening destination. We were, however, unexpectedly delayed by an occurrence which, while it flattered our importance, gave expression to a generous impulse on the part of the citizens we were about to visit. When within about a mile and a half of Little Falls, we were suddenly startled by the appearance of two strangers who hailed us and introduced themselves as Judge A. F. Story, and A. J. Pierson, editor of the Transcript. They had hurried across a bend of the river to intercept us before reaching the town, and with many apologies and expressions of welcome and good feeling, begged us to
154delay our approach to the town for an hour. The explanation they gave for this singular request was extremely complimentary to our little party of explorers. Preparations, they said, were being made for our reception, which, as they were not quite completed would be spoiled by our premature advent upon the scene. They added that they had seen us coming down the river, and had rushed in hot haste to endeavor to persuade us to defer for an hour our arrival at the town. We, of course, readily complied with so kind and flattering a request, and at the expiration of about an hour resumed our paddles and started expectantly for the landing. Before reaching this spot, however, we were met by a small fleet of row-boats filled with citizens anxious to be the first to extend a welcome to us; while on the river banks it appeared that half the population of Little Falls had assembled to greet our arrival. A temporary landing stage had been improvised expressly for our accommodation, a brass band saluted us with a lively air, while cheers and words of welcome met us on every side. Being called upon for a speech, I offered a few remarks, thanking the good citizens for the interest they manifested in my undertaking, and explaining briefly its character and aims. At the conclusion of my remarks we were escorted to the Vassaly House by Judge Story and a number of citizens, including the band, which honored us with sundry airs deemed by them appropriate to the occasion, and thus added not a little to our entertainment. In the evening I delivered my lecture to an attentive audience in Vassaly Hall, according to previous appointment.
Thirty Miles Below Little Falls,
The day following our arrival at Little Falls being Sunday, we decided not to re-embark until afternoon. During the morning we received calls from a number of the leading citizens, among whom were Moses Lafond, one of the oldest residents, if not the very oldest; and Hon. Nathan Richardson, an ex-member of the State Legislature. The latter showed us many relics gathered in the State strongly corroborating the theory of a pre-historic race, and gave us much valuable information concerning the early history of this section of Minnesota.
The river at this point is divided by an island, on the eastern side of which the current is very swift, while on the western side the stream rushes along in a torrent, boiling and whirling over the rocks and bowlders in a descent of some twenty feet in perhaps eighty rods. This is the most considerable fall of the Mississippi between Pokogama and Saint Anthony. A rumor had been circulated in the town that we intended shooting the falls and rapids of the Mississippi from its source to its mouth! Hence, when prepared to embark and continue our cruise, a number of the worthy citizens assembled to see us shoot Little Falls — a feat, it was said, which had never before been attempted. I may here say that the rumor was entirely without foundation. I was in no sense sportively inclined, nor even possessed the qualification of an adept at handling a canoe under difficulties, and my long
156journey had been projected and undertaken, not with a view of displaying any extraordinary feats of nautical skill or physical endurance, but with the milder object of adding, if possible, to the geographical knowledge of this section of our country, and at the same time afford myself an opportunity of studying the character of our great North American river and the cities and people that lined its banks, extending over a distance of some twenty degrees of latitude. This opportunity I should have failed in finding by the ordinary and swifter mode of traveling by railway or steamboat. I therefore declined to make a spectacle of myself by shooting the falls, preferring to make a portage around them. My brother George, however, younger and more venturesome in such matters than myself, determined to give the people the show they were expecting, and, entering his Rushton canoe, soon went bounding over the steep descent. By a skilful use of his paddle he managed to steer clear of the bowlders in his course, and further, to show his daring, stood upright for a minute or two. The descent was of course very rapid, and he soon reached the more placid current at the foot-of the falls. The Alice had carried him securely over, springing buoyantly over the surging waters, swerving readily at command of the paddle, and accomplishing, without injury to herself or her passenger, what few canoes of so light a build would be capable of doing, and fewer amateur canoeists would, I think, have had the temerity to undertake.
Below the falls we found the strongest current we had yet encountered, and during the afternoon ran no less than thirteen rapids, including Pike Rapids.
157During our lightning progress down the latter, we scarcely knew, for three-quarters of a mile, whether we should find ourselves at the end on the surface, or at the bottom of the river. Our canoes were filled with water, and we received a most thorough drenching. This section of the Mississippi presents a succession of rapids as far down as Saint Cloud.
As night approached we halted near the residence of Mrs. William McNeil, a widow. This lady was successfully conducting a tolerably large farm, and with true western hospitality tendered us a night's accommodation in her dwelling. A volume treating of western scenes and people would be incomplete if it made no reference to the western women. The isolated life which many of them lead, and the insufficiency of domestic help, together with the vicissitudes of the pioneer, have developed a race of sturdy, self-reliant women, lacking, let me be understood, in no womanly graces; but supplementing these with strong traits of character which make them fit companions of the brave, stalwart and enterprising men whose wives, daughters and sisters they are. It is no uncommon thing in the northwest, should a husband die, for the widow to assume the business and conduct it quite as successfully as her late husband had done during his life. Many of the farms managed by women in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa are as prosperous in appearance, as well and thriftily managed, and equally as remunerative, as those in the hands of the men. Their feminine capabilities and talents are moreover practically demonstrated in many ways among the intelligent communities of the frontier.
Saint Cloud, Minnesota,
Embarking at the usual hour in the morning, we were met by a strong head-wind, against which it seemed almost impossible to advance. The river was widening and the country adjacent had been longer settled, leaving fewer trees upon its banks for protection. About noon we reached Sank Rapids, having a fall of about twenty feet in the course of sixty rods which my brother successfully passed over, but the remaining members of the party, less adventurous, again preferred carrying their canoes around the rapids to the risk of being swamped in their descent.
My brother reached Saint Cloud in advance of us, and returned accompanied by a son of Captain West, a prominent resident, who kindly escorted us to the landing where an assemblage of citizens awaited us. In the evening I delivered my lecture at the Opera House, being introduced to the audience by Judge L. A. Evans. Among those who called upon me were several clergymen, including a Catholic priest, and all evinced an intelligent interest in the purpose of my journey.
Saint Cloud is very pleasantly located on the western bank of the Mississippi, just below Sauk Rapids. It is the capital of Steams County, seventy-five miles north of Saint Paul by railway, and six hundred and seventy from the river's source. For some years it was considered the leading commercial and manufacturing town of Northern Minnesota, and is one of the
159oldest settlements in the State. Here we encountered the second bridge across the Mississippi, the first being at Brainerds Saint Cloud has always been a busy town, having a population of about three thousand five hundred, and is characterized by a spirit of enterprise. It has a public library, a state normal school, and two banks; two newspapers, one of which was edited by Jane Grey Swisshelm, a lady of wide reputation as a writer; several saw, planing and flour mills, foundries and other industrial establishments; all of which appeared to be in a highly flourishing condition. A considerable acreage of wheat and other cereals is raised in this vicinity, and the future of this progressive little city is sure to be prosperous.
A strong southerly wind faced us in the morning when we pushed off from the crowded landing-place, and our day's work was the most trying we had encountered since leaving Brainerd. We had forty-three miles to paddle with a slack current, but finally readied Monticello between four and five o'clock in the afternoon, considerably fatigued by the effort expended in pulling against the high wind. A cordial welcome awaited us, however, from the people lining the beach, while a band, brought out for the occasion, struck up a lively air, and afterward volunteered to play at my lecture. On this occasion I was introduced to my audience by Mr. Henry Kreis, a substitute for the gentleman who had been appointed to perform
160that ceremony, but was prevented by unforeseen circumstances from appearing. Only the day before the gentleman in question had had an altercation with a fellow-citizen which resulted in his kicking his opponent down-stairs, and this serious breach of good manners and of law and order had ended by his being temporarily lodged in jail. His son called on me bearing the apologies of his father and a message to the effect that an important legal engagement alone prevented him from fulfilling his appointment with me. It is well to add that this gentleman was one of the most highly respected citizens of the town, and that public opinion appeared to be strongly in his favor.
Monticello is a pleasant little town of from four to five hundred inhabitants. Hon. Samuel E. Adams, editor of the Monticello Times, and one of the pioneers of this part of Minnesota, extended many courtesies to our little party; and here I met two of my cousins, sons of Henry Glazier, who had been a resident of the State for many years, and one of the early settlers of Wright County.
Chapter XV. — Monticello to Minneapolis.
Elk River, Minnesota,
August 24, 1881.
I spent the morning with uncle Henry's family at their home in Monticello; walked down to the landing after dinner, accompanied by cousins Ward and George Glazier, Mr. Adams and others to whom we had been introduced during our sojourn. A waving of handkerchiefs, the discharge of firearms and the prolonged cheering which followed the launch of our canoes, bespoke the kindly interest felt in us, and for our undertaking. Large numbers of country people were assembled at many points along the river to see us pass. We still found river-drivers, wongans, logs, booms, jams and, in fact, we were told that we should meet these peculiarities of the Upper Mississippi as far as La Crosse. The village of Elk River is situated on the east bank of the Mississippi, opposite the river of this name which comes in from the west. Its population is small, probably not exceeding one thousand or twelve hundred persons.
We took to water between nine and ten o'clock at Elk River. Firm southerly winds met us at the very outset and it was only by dint of a most persistent use of our paddles that we succeeded in forcing our canoes down stream. George having left us at Elk River in order to arrange for my lecture at Minneapolis, had encumbered us with an extra canoe which tended largely to impede our progress, as we were compelled to tow it at our stern. Anoka was readied soon after one o'clock. It was our intention to pass this place, as it stands some distance back on a tributary of the Mississippi, but being blown ashore we concluded to walk up to the town, where we had dinner at a restaurant. After a stroll through some of the leading streets of this enterprising little city, we returned to our canoes and continued our course toward Friedley, at which place we disembarked a few minutes before sunset.
Friedley, or Fridley, as it is sometimes spelled, is a small hamlet in Anoka County, of less than three hundred inhabitants, and is some seven miles above Minneapolis. It enjoyed a bubble reputation some years ago, being looked upon by its founders as the future great city of the Upper Mississippi, but like many another its site was unfavorable, and it has been so overshadowed by its more fortunate rivals that it is now seldom mentioned, except in connection with its past aspirations.
We spent the morning in our quiet retreat at Friedley. My notes, covering our voyage from Aitkin, were perfected at this place and business and private correspondence attended to.
Re-embarked soon after dinner, and aided by a strong current dropped down to within three miles of the Falls of Saint Anthony, where we were compelled to take our canoes out of the water owing to the prevalence of jams and log-booms. The canoes were carried through Minneapolis and around the cataract on a farm wagon. After they had been carefully placed in a storehouse and we had registered at the "Nicollet," I walked out to the Falls.
Long before coming in sight of this grand spectacle, the car is greeted by the deep, solemn roar that truly resembles the "sound of many waters." The pulse of the traveler naturally quickens as he feels himself approaching the scene where Father Hennepin, of old, was so moved with admiration as to christen the red man's falls after his patron saint. It appears indeed as though some mighty strife were going on amid the elements, and as one advances, a strange, indescribable feeling steals over the senses, a feeling that awakens a spirit of admiration for the handiwork of the Almighty. The Falls at length burst upon the enraptured view — the celebrated Falls of Saint Anthony. One is not here so completely overwhelmed as when viewing the incomparable Niagara,
166with its great height of waterfall, its deafening roar, and the lofty character of its scenery. Saint Anthony is more within the grasp of human comprehension, and is therefore looked upon with greater pleasure. Niagara appears to wear a kind of threatening frown, while the former greets you with a winning and complacent smile. Yet, on account of the vast body of water continually rushing over the rocky mass in the bed of the river, the scene is one of sublimity as well as one of loveliness and beauty. As I gazed on these falls and listened to the warring elements I was forcibly impressed with the truth of the beautiful lines of the poet Brainard:
That hear the question of that voice sublime?
Oh, what are all the notes that ever rung
From war's vain trumpet by thy thundering side?
Yes, what is all the riot man can make
In his short life, to thine unceasing roar?
And yet, bold babbler, what art thou to Him
Who drowned the world, and heaped the waters far
Above its loftiest mountain? A light wave,
That breaks and whispers at its Maker's might!"
Concerning the height of the fall and the breadth of the river at this point, much incorrect information has been published. Hennepin, who was the first white man to visit it, states it to be fifty or sixty feet high. It was this explorer who gave it the name which it now bears, in honor of Saint Anthony of Padua, whom he had taken for the protection of his discovery. Carver reduces its height to about thirty feet; his strictures upon Hennepin, however, whom he charges with exaggeration, might, with propriety, be retorted upon him, and we feel strongly inclined to say of him, as he said of his predecessor, "the good Father, I fear,
167too often had no other foundation for his accounts than report, or at most a slight inspection." Lieutenant Pike, who is more accurate than any traveler whom we have followed, states the perpendicular fall to be sixteen and a half feet. It was again measured in 1817 with a plumb-line, from the table rock from which the water was falling, and found to be the same. The measurement at this time was made with a rough water-level, which made it about fifteen feet. The difference of a foot is trifling and might depend upon the place where the measurement was made; but we cannot account for the statement made by Schoolcraft that the river has a perpendicular pitch of forty feet, and this as late as fourteen years after Pike's measurement.
The breadth of the river near the brink of the fall is five hundred and ninety-four yards. Below the fall it contracts to about two hundred yards. There is a considerable rapid both above and below, and a portage of two hundred and sixty poles in length was usually made here in pioneer days. The entire fall or difference of level between the place of disembarking and reloading, was stated by Pike to be fifty-eight feet, which is, undoubtedly, very near the truth. The whole fall to the foot of the rapids, which extend several miles down the river, may be estimated at about one hundred feet.
This romantic spot in the Mississippi is not without a legend to hallow its scenery and enhance the interest which of itself it is calculated to awaken. The following tragic story was current some years ago among the Indians and white settlers in the neighborhood of the Falls. Ampato Sapa, a youthful female, whose name
168signifies the dark day, was united in marriage to a young Indian of the Dakota tribe. For several years they lived together happily and two children were born to them. Both parents doted on their children with a depth of feeling scarcely equaled by more civilized whites. The man became great as a hunter, and many of the surrounding families sought his guardianship and friendship, and shared the products of his chase. Some of them, anxious to strengthen their interest with the successful hunter, urged him to form a connection with their family, telling him that a second wife was indispensable to a man of his talent and importance who would probably soon be acknowledged as a chief. The daughter of an influential man was presented to him, and, animated with the ambition of attaining to high honor in his nation by a union with the daughter of a man of great influence, he took a second wife, without mentioning the subject to the young mother of his children. Desirous of conciliating his first wife, for whom he still retained much regard, he introduced the subject to her in these words: "You know, Ampato, that I can love no woman so fondly as I do you. With deep regret I have seen you of late subjected to toils which must be oppressive, and from which I would gladly relieve you; yet I know of no other way of doing so than by associating with you in the duties of our household one who shall relieve you from the trouble of entertaining the numerous guests whom my growing importance in the nation collects around me. I have, therefore, resolved upon taking another wife, but she shall always be subject to your control." With the deepest concern his wife listened to this unexpected announcement. She
171remonstrated with him in the kindest terms, and tearfully entreated by every consideration her devoted love could suggest, that he would not let another take her place in his affections. The Indian, with much duplicity, still concealed from her the secret of his marriage with another, while she put forth her strongest appeals in the effort to convince him that she was equal to the tasks imposed upon her. She pleaded all the endearments of their past life, dwelling on his former fondness for her, his regard for her happiness and that of children, and cautioned him to beware of the consequences of uniting himself to a woman of whom he knew very little. Finding her still opposed to his wishes he at length informed her that further opposition on her part was useless as he had already selected another partner; and that if she could not receive his new wife as a friend, she must receive her as an encumbrance, for he had resolved she should reside with him.
Deeply distressed at this information, she stole away from the cabin with her infant and fled to her father. She remained with him for a time, until some indians, with whom he lived, went up the Mississippi on a winter hunt. When they returned in early spring with their canoes loaded with skins, they encamped near the Falls. After they had left in the morning, ampato lingered near the spot, and soon launching a light canoe, entered it with her babes. She paddled down the stream chanting her death-song. Her friends saw her only too late, and their attempts to arrest her progress were of no avail. She was heard to sing in a doleful voice of the past happiness she had enjoyed while she was the sole object of her husband's affections. Finally her voice was drowned in the roar of the cataract;
172the rapids carried down her little bark; it came to the edge of the Falls; was seen for a moment covered with spray — but never was a trace of the canoe or its hapless freight seen more. The Indians say that often a voice has been heard to sing a piteous song near the edge of the falling water, and that the burden of the song is always the inconstancy of Ampato's husband. Some assert that her spirit wanders near the spot with her children clinging to her bosom. Such tales and traditions the Indians treasure and relate to the traveler.
Minneapolis proper is situated on the west side of the river, while Saint Anthony, which by mutual agreement has become united to the first-named city, is on the east side — the two forming one city under the name of Minneapolis. It is ten miles from Saint Paul. The city proper is built on broad esplanades overlooking the river and its falls, rapids and picturesque bluffs. It is the first place of magnitude reached in descending the river. The streets are laid out at right angles, eighty feet in width, bordered by sidewalks twenty feet wide, with double rows of trees on each side. The founders of western cities have gained wisdom from the mistakes of those of the eastern coast. Notwithstanding the broad expanse of country, which to the early colonists seemed limitless, the cities and towns built on and near the Atlantic seaboard were modeled upon European plans, even to the narrow streets and compact rows of buildings. Not so in the West. The original plans of our western towns are so wisely designed that no future increase of population, with its attendant demands for dwelling and business houses, can ever transform them into an aggregation of dense, stifling streets and lanes, such as
175are too often found in our first-class eastern cities. Health and beauty are two objects which have been steadily kept in view in their foundation. Though their rude beginnings have not always been attractive, the possibilities of beauty are always there and time is sure to develop them.
Saint Anthony saw its beginning in 1849, though a singIe log-cabin had stood upon its site for twelve years before this date. The first dwelling in Minneapolis proper was erected in the winter of 1849-50, by Colonel J. H. Stevens. Speaking of his early residence and neighbors, the colonel says: "We have often retired at night and opened our eyes in the morning upon the wigwams of either the Sioux, Chippewas, or Winnebagos, which had gone up while we slept."
The name "Minneapolis" is compounded of Indian and Greek; Minne being the Sioux for water, and polis the Greek for city, thus meaning the water city, or the city of the waters. It is located on what was formerly known as the Military Reserve of Port Snelling, a reservation nine miles square assigned to and surrounding the Fort for purposes of forage. In 1855, Congress granted the right of preemption to the settlers, and since that period a rapid growth of the city has taken place. In 1856, the population was only two thousand, while that of Saint Anthony was about three thousand five hundred.
A suspension bridge connecting the two cities was built in 1855. It cost over fifty thousand dollars, and was the first suspension bridge ever built in a Territory, and the first to span the Mississippi. A ferry-boat at this point had been established in 1851.
176That summer its proprietor realized three hundred dollars. In 1855, the receipts had increased to twelve thousand. In 1880, the population of the united towns numbered nearly fifty thousand, with the certain prospect of doubling, trebling, and even quadrupling that number in a very few years.
The University of Minnesota is located here, and there are several other important educational institutions. The public schools are in every respect excellent; the Athenaeum Library contains about ten thousand volumes, while the University possesses one of several thousand. There are more than sixty churches of all denominations, and some of the sacred edifices are very handsome.
The river is here about six hundred yards in width, and above Saint Anthony Falls rushes through low banks, rising in uneven bluffs from five to twenty-five feet, in foaming, tumultuous rapids, until it reaches the precipice, whence it springs in a single leap down a distance of about sixteen feet. Thence it proceeds in a series of rapids over piles of rocks in its bed for some distance, the great descent being made of eighty-two feet in two miles. Below the Falls the cliffs are bold and picturesque, the character of the scenery varying.
The Falls are divided by Cataract Island, from which a dam has been constructed to the eastern shore to furnish water-power for manufacturing purposes, and nearly the whole volume of water now rushes through the western channel. The Falls may be seen with equal advantage from either shore, but the best view is obtained from the centre of the Suspension Bridge which crosses the river above them, and from
177which the rapids may be seen boiling and rushing immediately beneath.
These falls furnish abundant power for manufacturing purposes, and as early as 1856 large mills were already in operation at Saint Anthony, in which millions of feet of lumber were annually sawn. The logs which fill the Mississippi above the Falls, sometimes even to the point of obstructing navigation, all have their destination at Minneapolis. Here they are converted into lumber and laths and sent to distant sections of the country, perhaps in the form of huge rafts again set afloat upon the river. The lumber business of this city is immense, probably exceeding that of any other city in the country. It is equaled only by the flour mills of this rapidly growing western giant. Minneapolis stands at the head of the flour manufacturing of the world. She has no equal in this branch of manufacture either on this continent or in Europe. The wheat raised in such immense quantities in the Northwest is here ground into flour and shipped to every part of the United States; while vast quantities are exported to Europe. The banks of the river are lined with immense flour mills, which furnish employment to thousands of hands.
Minneapolis is more a manufacturing than a commercial city. Saint Paul monopolizes much of the commerce of the Upper Mississippi. Steamboats can only ascend to Fort Snelling, some miles below the Falls, hence Minneapolis depends largely upon the railroads for transportation. But while Saint Paul measures miles of streets lined with stores and warehouses, Minneapolis can show an equal number of mills and factories. It is also a city of residences — a
178beautiful city. The streets are broad and amply shaded, and the houses are, many of them, very handsomely built and surrounded by ornamental gardens.
Minneapolis is the summer resort of thousands of visitors who come here from all points on the Mississippi, as far down as New Orleans, to escape the enervation of a southern summer, and enjoy the pure and healthful climate and delicious scenery of the city and its surroundings. It is especially a resort for invalids, who find its atmosphere bracing and health-giving. It is moreover the centre of a number of delightful summer haunts, all of which are daily growing in popularity. Lakes Calhoun, Harriet, and Minnetonka, and the Falls of Minnehaha, attract thousands of visitors, and present not only beauty of scenery, but all the conveniences and improvements one seeks for at watering-places in the East, and which the traveler from that section is hardly prepared to encounter on the confines of civilization in the Northwest. Boating, bathing, fishing and hunting are among the daily amusements, while commodious hotels and attractive cottages stud the shores of the lakes, and provide the numerous visitors with every comfort. These summer resorts are increasing in number and popularity, and the many lakes which are scattered over the State of Minnesota, will all of them, sooner or later, make their attractions known to the outside world and draw many summer visitors. Much of this transient travel will find its way through Minneapolis, being attracted thither by the beautiful Falls of Saint Anthony; so that while many of our eastern and northern cities record their largest number of inhabitants during the winter months, Minneapolis will, and in fact already
179does on the contrary, find her population very considerably increased during the summer.
Minneapolis, including Saint Anthony, is connected with Saint Paul by three lines of railway, while the railroads diverge to every point of the compass, bringing an influx of travel and produce and carrying away its merchandise. The city is surrounded by a magnificient farming country, which is fast becoming settled by a superior class of immigrants — Americans from New England and New York State, Germans from the Fatherland, and Norwegians and Swedes from the land of Thor. The labor of these farmers and the product of their industry contribute to keep its mills running, to increase their number, and to make this city the great bread-giver of the country. People may dispense with many of the artificial needs created by civilization; they may wrap furs around them instead of the products of the loom; they may dwell in caves, or construct for themselves huts of mud and the boughs of trees, but the whole human race, civilized and savage, must have bread, or its equivalent. The Indian raised his maize, finding an animal diet insufficient for his needs; and the great wheat fields of Minnesota furnish something better than maize for the race that has displaced and succeeded him; and the many mill-stones of Minneapolis, set in motion by nature's engine, the Falls of Saint Anthony, grind and crush the wheat into a shape ready to be transformed into bread for the million.
The lumbermen of the Upper Mississippi, who form a distinct class, will never cease their labor so long as there is a pine forest left standing; while the swift current of the river furnishes a highway on which,
180without the aid of steam or sails, and with river-drivers for captains and crews, their drives of logs find ready and inexpensive transportation. Transformed from their crude state into a shape to meet the needs of the builder, the river still affords them free transit and numerous markets along its more than two thousand miles of shore.
The inhabitants of Minneapolis, like those of this entire section of country, are pushing, enterprising citizens from the eastern and north-eastern states, who, relieved from the difficulties which beset them in their native home, and with all the resources of the Great West at their command, accomplish wonderful things in very brief periods of time. The sprinkling of Germans and Scandinavians prefer for the most part to settle in the country. There is, of course, the usual class of river-men, boatmen, and lumbermen of all kinds, together with the roughs who infest, more or less, all new cities; but the latter are comparatively few.
Minneapolis, we venture to prophesy, is destined to become the metropolis of the North-west. She is not only a great manufacturing city, but the most beautiful and attractive in this region. As age tones down the still manifest newness of her twenty-five or thirty years of existence, wears away the rough edges of some of her people, and substitutes handsome edifices for the few remaining rude habitations and business places of her early pioneers, she will become still more beautiful, and in a few years will abundantly repay a pilgrimage to the Upper Mississippi, while the Falls of Saint Anthony will continue to be not the least of her attractions to the tourist in search of the sublime and beautiful.
Chapter XVI. — Ten Days at Saint Paul.
WE re-embarked at ten o'clock on the morning of August twenty-seventh, just below the rapids at Minneapolis and, aided by an unusually strong current, soon found ourselves opposite Fort Snelling, which is midway between Minneapolis and Saint Paul. Here we halted to view one of the oldest land-marks of the North-west.
Fort Snelling is situated at the confluence of the Minnesota and Mississippi rivers, on the west bank of the latter. The buildings of the garrison are upon a high bluff, two hundred feet above the water level, stretching to the north and west in a gently undulating and fertile prairie interspersed here and there with heavy groves of timber. Around this Fort cluster memories of the early struggles of the pioneers of civilization with the savage tribes that have since been sent to other hunting-grounds. It is a prominent object in one of the finest landscapes of the Upper Mississippi. Recent alterations, however, have considerably changed and modernized the surroundings and deprived it of much of its picturesqueness. The
184building erected outside of the walls for the accommodation of officers, and the demolition of the tower that formerly occupied the extreme point of the bluff, have no doubt given it much less the appearance of a fortification than it previously wore, although making it presumably much pleasanter for those who reside there. The Fort is always open to those who may incline to to look within its walls and view whatever there is of interest to be seen. In these days of peace, however, it does not present a very warlike appearance. Of incidents connected with its history many interesting stories are told which illustrate the dangers, trials and hardships to which the early settlers were subjected, and the character of their savage neighbors.
Some of the most efficient officers of our military service have been quartered here, and have received with hospitality the various scientific expeditions that have from time to time passed through the country. On the island at the month of the Minnesota, Lieutenant Pike encamped and entered into negotiations with the Indians for the site of the present Fort. In a report to the War Department in 1817, Major Long recommended the position for a permanent fortification. In 1819, a detachment of the Sixth Infantry, numbering three hundred men, under Colonel Leavenworth, left Detroit with instructions to occupy the Fort, and on the seventeenth of September they established a cantonment on the south side of the Minnesota near its junction with the Mississippi.
Work on Fort Snelling was begun in the summer of 1820, at which time Colonel Snelling was in command. Saint Louis, distant nine hundred miles, was then the nearest town of any importance. The first
185row of barracks that were put up were constructed of hewn logs, the others of stone. The Fort was built in the form of a diamond in order to harmonize with the ground at the extreme points. Where a tree had stood was located a half-moon battery, to the rear of which were the quarters of the officers, a very neat stone building, the front of cut stone; at the opposite point a tower. The Fort was enclosed by a high stone wall, and is well represented in the accompanying illumination. Among the best remembered incidents in connection with the place is the fact that the first white woman who saw the Falls of Saint Anthony was the wife of Captain George Gooding of the Fifth Infantry.
With reference to the Minnesota River, formerly known as the Saint Peter, it is stated to have been first visited by Captain Jonathan Carver, towards the close of the eighteenth century, who published an account of its discovery in 1778. It was again thoroughly explored in 1823, under instructions from the War Department. Its elevation above the Gulf is seven hundred and forty-four feet. The precise latitude of its mouth 44° 52' 46".
The atmosphere of this locality is represented as serene and transparent during the spring and summer seasons, and free from the humidity which is so objectionable a trait of our eastern latitudes. The mean temperature is 45°. As to its geological and mineralogical condition, I refer to Pike, Schoolcraft, Nicollet, and other eminent scientists, who have preceded me in the exploration of this section of the Mississippi. It will be sufficient here to say that the stratification at and below Saint Anthony Falls consists wholly of
186formations of sandstone and limestone, horizontally deposited, whose relative ages are chiefly inferable from the evidences of organic life in the shape of fossils which they embrace. The lowest of this series of rock is said to be a white sandstone composed of transparent and loosely cohering grains.
Still favored with a brisk current and an encouraging breeze at our backs, we glided swiftly down to within two miles of the northern limits of Saint Paul. Here we halted and had luncheon in the shade of a cluster of a large trees standing on the west bank of the river.
Soon after re-embarking we were met by a delegation of the Minnesota Boat Club, who came up in their boats to exchange greetings and welcome us to their club-rooms, a courtesy always appreciated by voyagers, and especially by those in possession of craft requiring careful housing. I should be unworthy of civilities if I failed to say that the young men composing this club are gentlemen in the fullest sense of the term, and he is indeed most fortunate who holds a key to their delightful quarters on "The Island."
On leaving the boat-house we ascended a flight of steps leading up to the bridge which crosses the river at this point. Here we found some thousands of citizens congregated, who had apparently come out to witness our reception by the boat-club. A carriage was in waiting, into which we were ushered and driven to the Metropolitan.
An appointment having been previously made, I lectured at Sherman Hall at the usual hour; was favored with a very full house, which, considering the torrid condition of the weather at the time, was more
189than I had expected. The press criticisms evinced a decided interest in the "Pioneers of the Mississippi," and were all that I could have desired.
At the time of my visit, Saint Paul had about fifty thousand inhabitants, with large commercial interests, which were daily increasing in extent and importance. The city was originally built on the eastern, or left bank of the Mississippi, on a plain, some eighty feet above the river, but it has now extended to the western bank also. On the eastern side its site now embraces four distinct terraces, arranged around the curve of the river in the form of an amphitheatre with a southern exposure. The second and third terraces, upon which the city is principally built, widen out into level semicircular plains.
Father Hennepin was the first white man to reach the site of Saint Paul, having visited the locality in 1680. In 1766, Carver made a treaty with the Dakota Indians in what is now known as Carver's Cave. In 1837, the first United States treaty was entered into with the Sioux, who threw their lands open to settlement, and the first claim was entered by Pierre Perent, a Canadian traveler and adventurer, who sold it two years later for forty dollars. His former claim now embraces the principal part of the city. The first building was erected in 1838, and the place continued a mere Indian trading-post for several years thereafter. It was surveyed in 1845, and in 1847 there were but three white families upon the ground. In 1846, Saint Paul had but ten white inhabitants. In 1847, it was laid out into village streets, and in 1849 became the site of a Catholic mission. A municipal government was established in 1854, when the town had three
190thousand inhabitants. In 1856, the number had increased to ten thousand. In 1880, twenty-four years later, it had been multiplied by five, the census returns giving fifty thousand, with a growth of one hundred per cent. during the previous ten years. In 1849 the business of the place amounted to $131,000. In 1854, it had increased to $6,000,000, with $700,000 of capital invested.
The original town was regularly laid out, but the additions are irregular. The streets are well graded and generally paved. The third terrace is underlaid by a stratum of limestone from twelve to twenty feet thick, and of this material many of the buildings are constructed. The city has several excellent hotels, and many churches belonging to the various denominations of Christians. Five bridges cross the river; lines of horse-cars connect till parts of the city, and a system of sewerage drains it of all impurities. The State Capitol — in process of erection when I saw it — occupies one entire square, on an elevation overlooking the city and river. The Opera House, on Wabasha Street, seating about twelve hundred persons, is a large and handsome building. The Academy of Sciences contains about one hundred and thirty thousand specimens in natural history. The Historical Society and Library Association have each fine public libraries. The public and private schools of Saint Paul are all of the first order of excellence, and there are several female seminaries of a high grade. A Protestant and a Catholic Orphan Asylum and three hospitals represent the public charitable institutions.
Saint Paul is nominally at the head of navigation of the Mississippi, the further progress of steamboats up
191the river being checked by the rapids below the Falls of Saint Anthony. The river here is open from two hundred to two hundred and forty days in the year, and several steamboats arrive and depart daily. It is a thorough business city, its chief thoroughfares being lined with large and well-built stores and warehouses; the movements of the people on the streets indicating the hurry and preoccupation of pressing business pursuits. The casual visitor is reminded of Chicago more than of any other city of the West. At its back lie the grain and lumber-producing regions of Minnesota and Wisconsin, which are yearly filling up with an intelligent and industrious people. Their produce finds an outlet at this port, and here they look for a great portion of their supplies. The retail trade of Saint Paul is very large, and it is also in great part the wholesale centre of a large circle of smaller towns.
Its double line of river bank affords ample wharfage. It is surrounded by a network of railways, connecting it with the large and growing city of Minneapolis, and with every town of importance in Minnesota and adjoining states. These secure permanence to its prosperity, since railroads, even more than rivers, make flourishing cities in the present day.
There are many points of interest around the city. On the eastern bank of the river, near the shore, is the celebrated Carver's Cave, a romantic opening or aperture in Dayton Bluff, in the interior of which the treaty before referred to was concluded. There is a small lake in this cave which may be crossed by a boat. Two miles from Saint Paul is Fountain Cave, deriving its name from a stream which flows through it and which probably was the originating cause of the
192cave. It contains several chambers, some of ample dimensions, and, it is said, that at one thousand feet from the opening in the rock no termination has yet been discovered. The rock is of pure white, soft sandstone, and the entrance to the cave is about fifteen feet in width. About three hundred feet in the interior from its mouth, a cascade some fifteen feet in height falls into the stream. This cave is a favorite resort in the summer, and presents many features of interest to the geologist.
The Falls of Minnehaha, made famous by Longfellow in his immortal "Song of Hiawatha," are reached by a pleasant drive past Fort Snelling. The name of these Falls signifies "Laughing Water." In the words of Longfellow's beautiful description of the journey of his hero to the land of the Dakotas,
Heard the Falls of Minnehaha,
Calling to him through the silence,"
White Bear Lake, twelve miles distant from Saint Paul, and about an equal distance from Minneapolis, is becoming a popular pleasure resort. Located at the junction of the Saint Paul and Duluth and the
195Minneapolis and Saint Louis railways, it is about four miles in length; and nearly midway between its eastern and western banks is a long, forest-covered islet. The water of the lake is transparently pure and of the color of the bright blue sky overhead. The largest fleet of sailing yachts to be found on any western lake, is seen floating here, many of them costly and of elegant construction. Large hotels have been erected on the western and southern banks for the accommodation of visitors, while picturesque villas dot its western shore, owned by wealthy business men of Saint Paul and Minneapolis, who send their families here to reside during the summer, and join them each evening after the close of business. White Bear is the oldest summer resort in the State. Camping-out is here reduced to a science, and we find encampments large enough to be called villages, the tents being as commodious and comfortably furnished as the parlors and bedrooms at home. White Bear is a popular place for pic-nics for the surrounding cities, towns, villages and farms. In the country around are numerous smaller lakes, which are sought for fishing and duck hunting.
Bald Eagle Lake lies a mile beyond White Bear. It is a lovely sheet of water, but not so large as the latter. It has high banks and is full of fish of several varieties. A few pretty cottages have been built here, and occupied as summer residences. A mineral spring was discovered some years since and a pavilion erected over it by the late Dr. Post, of Saint Paul, who also built a summer residence near by. The City Park is located on the shores of Lake Como, two miles from the centre of Saint Paul.
Saint Paul is associated, like Saint Louis, with the names of early explorers and navigators of the Mississippi, although its settlement is comparatively recent. Its name was derived from that of a log-chapel dedicated to the Apostle Paul in 1841, by the Jesuit missionaries. Unlike Saint Louis, or New Orleans it has no antiquated streets and perpetuates no French or Spanish names. It is intensely American and intensely nineteenth century. The population is composed principally of immigrants or their descendants from the northern and especially the New England States, while its foreign element is largely German and Scandinavian, which, however, is gradually becoming Americanized. The children of these foreign citizens will be Americans not only in fact, but in feeling and interests.
The rapid growth of our country is in nothing more palpably demonstrated than by the founding and development of her cities. Yesterday there was a wilderness, uninhabited and almost unexplored. Today, there is a thriving town cherishing great expectations, which in most instances are more than realized on the morrow. Vast territories, inhabited by only a few bands of Indians, have in a single generation been converted into populous states; desert wastes have developed, under the intelligent labor of men, a wonderful degree of fertility; and the progress of civilization in its western march can be arrested only by the waves of the Pacific, which beat upon the rockbound coast of California, Oregon and Washington.
Chapter XVII. — Saint Paul to La Crosse.
September 5, 1881.
With the feeling that another week might have been profitably spent in and around Saint Paul, we shook hands with many newly-made friends and again stepped into our canoes in front of the Boat-club House. A moment later and we were once more wending our way upon the broad bosom of the Father of Waters, floating and paddling towards the Gulf of Mexico.
Having abandoned my birch canoe, Discovery, at Minneapolis, I took for personal use the Alice, which had hitherto been in charge of my brother, who had now retired from the expedition altogether and was acting in the capacity of advance agent in connection with my lecture appointments. Paine was assigned to the ltasca. Horace Greeley Scott, of Hudson, Wisconsin, who had been engaged at Saint Paul as voyageur, acted as "crew" of the Alice.
Our journey from Saint Paul to Hastings was uneventful, except as to the weather, which was
198decidedly uncomfortable. A drizzling rain set in at an early hour in the morning, which increased in strength until eleven o'clock, when the water came down in torrents, drenching our clothing and making navigation anything but agreeable. Nothing but an appointment to lecture in the evening could have kept me in my canoe under such circumstances.
At three o'clock in the afternoon we passed what is termed the narrowest place in the Mississippi below the Falls of Saint Anthony. The river at this point is clear of islands and not more than one hundred yards wide. Pike states that his men rowed across in forty strokes of the oar; another traveler avers that he crossed in 1857, from a dead start, in sixteen strokes.
While passing through this contraction of the river it was our good or ill fortune to meet the Gem City, the favorite steamer plying between Saint Paul and Saint Louis. Our meeting with this boat was the first instance in which we had encountered any craft of respectable dimensions in the descent of the Mississippi, and we had learned from actual experience that it was advisable to exercise some caution when venturing our canoes near the wake of such vessels as the one in question, if we desired to put our voyage on a practical basis. It is true we had taken some precautions; had paddled in towards the western bank from the middle of the stream, where we felt quite secure from the swell which would naturally follow the movement of so large a body in deep water. The waves came as we anticipated, but not so mildly as we had predicted; on the contrary, the first that reached us came with a snap and a swash, lifting us high and dry upon the beach at least five feet from the water's
199edge, precipitating on the beach the contents of the canoes, including their "gallant crews." Some consolation was found, however, in the reflection that any position on shore was preferable to one at the bottom of the river.
The "commodore" was compelled to bear the entire responsibility of this "toss up," as the captain of the Itasca had suggested paddling against the waves as a proper precaution against a capsize. It will be sufficient to add that this advice was not unheeded in similar cases thereafter.
With canoes half-full of water and streams of the same element running from our clothes, we disembarked at five o'clock at the ferry-landing in front of Hastings, where we were met and escorted to the Foster House by Irving Todd of the Gazette, Rev. A. B. Chapin, Dr. Reuben Freeman, J. B. Lambert and others. Acting upon the advice of Mr. Lambert, who had been engaged to introduce me, my lecture appointment at this place was indefinitely postponed in consequence of the storm which raged throughout the the night.
The evening was spent most agreeably in the parlors of the Foster House, where a number of the representative men of the city, including several clergymen, assembled to listen to whatever I felt inclined to tell them of our discovery and adventures at the headwaters of the Mississippi. I was not favorably impressed with the business enterprise of Hastings, but ill always have a pleasant recollection of the hospitality of its people. The city has a wheat and lumber market, with four-flour mills, and three saw-mills, and a population of about four thousand.
SAINT JAMES HOTEL,
Red Wing, Minnesota,
Eight o'clock found us in our canoes at Hastings. The weather indications of the morning were prophetic of a pleasant trip to Red Wing; but, alas! appearances were deceitful, as the storm, which had evidently been slumbering for a few hours, broke out afresh at ten o'clock and kept us company throughout the entire day. We attempted a landing at several points above the city, but rain, high winds and a swift current prevented.
The mouth of the Saint Croix River was reached at ten o'clock. This stream, which enters the Mississippi three miles below Hastings, forms the boundary between Minnesota and Wisconsin. For a considerable distance below the Saint Croix the water of the Mississippi, where shoal, is of a reddish appearance, but very black in deep water. The red is occasioned by the sand seen at the bottom, which is of that color; the dark is invariably common to deep water when moderately limpid.
Thoroughly drenched a second time since leaving Saint Paul, it was with an exceedingly keen appreciation that we received a hearty welcome at the boat house-landing at this place. Our canoes out of the water and securely housed, we hastened up to the Saint James, where we were quickly shown our rooms and glad enough to get into them, and into bed, too, as my trunk containing changes, which should have preceded us, had not arrived from Hastings.
A conference with the lecture committee led to the same conclusion we had arrived at in Hastings, that with the storm howling without, and the lecturer hors de combat, it were better to let the Pioneers of the Mississipp
Like several other cities in this State, Red Wing has a history, and exemplifies how much an intelligent and industrious people can accomplish in a very short time. The standard of civilization was originally planted here by two Swiss missionaries, Denton and Garin, who arrived, accompanied by their wives, in 1838. The savage Dakotas at this date occupied the territory, and these brave and self-denying missionaries labored among them until the health of Denton failed in 1846, when the American Board of Missions appointed Rev. Messrs. J. W. Hancock and John Aiton, of Vermont, to succeed them. Two mission-houses were built, one of which remains to this day. Two white families and about three hundred Indians were at that time — thirty-six years ago — the sole occupants of what is now the enterprising little city of Red Wing.
In June, 1852, the Indians entered into a treaty with the Government, which authorized the country to be occupied by white settlers, but the close of the same year saw only about forty white people in the village. On the following Christmas Day the entire white community dined at the residence of William Freeborn, one of the first settlers. The town now
202commenced to grow and has developed very considerably up to the present time, the population at this date being about ten thousand. Red Wing has the reputation of being one of the largest primary wheat markets in the country, having handled grain to the amount of nearly three million bushels. Some of its manufactures also are acquiring a wide reputation. The clay deposits in the neighborhood are said to be among the finest and richest in America; and it is in contemplation to commence the manufacture of glass, as a sand of very superior quality abounds here.
Being only six miles from Lake Pepin, one of the finest bodies of water in the West, surrounded by some of the most magnificent scenery to be found anywhere on the continent, Red Wing will probably in a short time become a summer resort; and at no distant day, with its abundance of timber, transportation facilities, and productive farming country, may possibly become one of the leading cities of Minnesota. Lumber and all its products are in a flourishing condition; laths, shingles, sashes, doors and blinds, hubs, spokes, felloes and every variety of bent-work being manufactured extensively. Boots and shoes, furniture, stoneware, boilers and wagons, have also found a solid footing. The lime and stone business has developed during the past few years into an important industry. Common and pressed brick are also extensively made here, and have acquired an excellent reputation throughout the Northwest. Steam-engines and heavy and light castings are manufactured. The city has an excellent fire department and water-works; and its public schools are said to rank among the best in the State. Red Wing is distant from Saint Paul sixty-five miles.
Lake City, Minnesota,
The clouds lifted at sunrise, and in anticipation of a pleasant trip through Lake Pepin we took a hurried stroll through the leading streets of Red Wing immediately after breakfast, and an hour later were in our canoes on our way down the river.
A gentle swell followed by a very perceptible buoyancy of the canoes gave intimation that we were approaching a body of water of no mean pretensions. For several days we had been cautioned to "beware of Lake Pepin," and when at last we found ourselves gliding smoothly over its placid bosom, we felt that its turbulent propensities had been greatly exaggerated. It took but a few moments however to reverse the scene and convince us that the Fates were not altogether favorable. A strong southerly wind, again accompanied by rain, made our journey through Lake Pepin memorable, if not agreeable. For over ten hours the elements held possession and the waves ran so high that Paine, who led the way in the Itasca, was frequently out of sight in the troughs, though not more than forty yards in advance of the Alice.
I contemplated a halt at one time, but the rugged and precipitous character of the bluffs, which came down to the water's edge, would have made a landing extremely difficult, if not dangerous; and besides, to be perfectly frank, we were engaged upon a voyage from Source to Sea, and I, for one, did not feel like taking the responsibility of showing the "white feather." Having
204an engagement to lecture at Lake City, I was compelled to stick to the canoes, and meet the appointment in the usual way, or disembark and go down by rail, thus acknowledging, after a three months' cruise on the Mississippi, that our mode of locomotion was impracticable. We, therefore, resolved to remain in the canoes if every member of the party went to the bottom of the lake.
My new voyageur, Scott, acquitted himself with great credit on this occasion, considering the fact that he had never been in a canoe before joining us at Saint Paul. His complete self-possession and steady nerve had much to do with carrying me safely through one of the most trying situations I had been called upon to master since leaving Lake Winnibegoshish.
We struck the beach at Frontenac between twelve and one o'clock, heartily glad to set our feet again on solid earth, and quite willing to let old Pepin lash his sides for an hour at least to his heart's content.
Frontenac is a small hamlet, of perhaps two hundred souls, standing on the western shore of the lake, about ten miles below Red Wing. It is a most romantic spot in appearance, and will, I venture to predict, at no distant day become a most delightful summer resort. Considerable attention has already been drawn to it in this particular, and we especially noted good hotel accommodations and the presence on its white-sand beach of many yachts, skiffs and canoes.
We were met here by Mr. A. W. Ditmars, of Lake City, who came up to confer with me concerning my lecture appointment at this place. After dining with us at the hotel, he suggested that I should have the pleasure of meeting General Israel Garrard. We
207walked up to the general's residence on the bluff, where I was introduced and spent an hour most agreeably. General Garrard is a gentleman of leisure and culture, and possesses a fund of information concerning the legendary history of Lake Pepin which is of absorbing interest to those who desire to preserve records of aboriginal times.
It was hoped, when we disembarked, that the lake would calm before we returned to our canoes, but in this we were destined to disappointment, for on reaching the beach we found the wind still piling up the waves to a threatening height and making the outlook for our little flotilla anything but inviting. General Garrard and Mr. Ditmars said, "if you value your lives, don't launch those canoes on Lake Pepin to-day." Many others on the shore echoed the same sentiment. Still determined, however, to go down to Lake City in our staunch little crafts, Paine stepped promptly into the Itasca, while Scott and myself pulled out in the Alice.
Running out into the lake we soon rounded the sandbar which lies directly in front of Frontenac and headed down stream. We hugged the western bank as closely as possible, seeking the protection of the friendly bluffs against the violent wind, which now came sweeping across the lake from a south-westerly quarter.
Three miles below Frontenac we descried the celebrated Maiden Rock, which rises to a height of nearly five hundred feet on the eastern shore. The upper two hundred feet are formed by a perpendicular bluff, and the lower three hundred constitute a very abrupt and precipitous slope which extends from the base of the bluff to the edge of the water. This forms a point,
208projecting into the lake and bounded by two small basins, each of which is the estuary of a brook. The wildness of the scenery is such that even the voyager who has gazed with delight upon the majestic bluffs of the Mississippi is forcibly impressed with the grandeur of this spot. There was much in it that we had not met with at any other point of the far-stretching Valley of the Mississippi, a high-projecting point, a precipitous crag resting upon a steep bank whose base is washed by a wide expanse of water, which contrasts strikingly with the savage outlines of the landscape. But Maiden Rock receives additional interest from the melancholy tale which is connected with its history and which casts a deep gloom over its brightest feature.
There was a time, so the legend runs, when this now desolate spot was the scene of a most tragic event. In the Indian village of Keoxa, in the tribe of Wapasha, there lived a young Indian maiden, whose name was Winona, which signifies the "first-born." She had formed an attachment for a young hunter of the tribe, who returned her affection. They had frequently met and agreed to become united in marriage, but on applying to her parents, the young hunter was rejected, and informed that a warrior of distinction had sued for their daughter and their consent had been given. The warrior was a favorite with the tribe, and had acquired great popularity from his services to the village against the Chippewas. Winona, however, remained faithful to her lover, notwithstanding his rival's efforts to supplant him and the countenance he received from her parents and brothers. To them she replied that she had made choice of a man who, being
209a hunter, would remain with her and secure her subsistence and comfort; while the warrior would be frequently absent, intent upon martial exploits. Winona's reasoning and earnest entreaties, however, were in vain, and her parents at length drove away her lover, and commenced harsh measures in order to compel her to marry the warrior. She begged them to allow her to live a single life, but to all her entreaties they turned a deaf ear. Winona had hitherto enjoyed a great share in the affections of her family, and had been indulged more than is usual with females among Indians. Her affectionate disposition had made her a favorite with her brothers, and they endeavored to influence their parents to use persuasive means to accomplish their wishes, in preference to compelling her to the union against her inclination. To remove some of her objections to the warrior, they undertook, themselves, to provide for her future maintenance, and accordingly presented to her suitor many articles that an Indian might desire to possess, as a propitiatory offering in behalf of their sister. About this time a party was formed in the village to ascend the river to Lake Pepin, in order to procure a supply of the blue clay which is found upon its banks at a certain spot, and which was used by the Indians to make paint. Winona and some of her friends were of the party, and it was on this day that her brothers had offered their presents to the warrior. Thus encouraged, he again addressed the young girl, but with the same ill success. She refused to be united to him, and would remain single all her life. Her parents again remonstrated in strong language and threatened to compel her to obedience. Winona, with tears, replied: "You will drive me to
210despair; I have said I love him not; I cannot live with him; I wish to remain a maiden. You say you love me, that you are my father, my mother, my brothers, my relations; yet you have cruelly parted me from the only man with whom I wish to be united; you have compelled him to leave the village; alone he now wanders through the forest, with no one to assist him, none to spread his blanket, none to build his lodge, none to wait on him; yet he was the man of my choice. Is this your love for me? But even this is not enough: you would have me rejoice in his absence; you wish me to unite with another man, one whom I do not and cannot love, and with whom I never can be happy.
If this is your love for me, I will say no more; but soon you will have no daughter nor sister to torment with your false love." She then withdrew; but her parents, still heedless of her words, decided that Winona should be united with the warrior that very day. While they and their friends were engaged in preparations for the festival, Winona wound her way slowly to the top of the high rock — since named Maiden Rock. On reaching the summit she called loudly to her friends below, and upbraided them for their cruelty to herself and her lover. "You were not satisfied," she exclaimed, "with refusing my union with the man I had chosen, but you tried to make me faithless to him, and when you found me resolved upon remaining a maiden, you threatened to compel me to marry another. You knew me not. You will see how I will defeat your designs." She then commenced to sing her dirge; the light wind wafted words of her doleful song to her family and friends; they rushed, some of them, to the top of the rock to
211stop her; others to the foot to receive her in their arms, while all, with tears, entreated her to desist from her fatal purpose; her father promising that no compulsion should again be resorted to. But Winona's resolution was taken, and, concluding her song, she at once leaped from the precipice, and fell a lifeless corpse at the feet of her parents and brothers.
This legend has given the rock its name. The fate of this young maiden has many parallels among the Indians, who are not all proof against the finest feelings of our nature, whatever may be thought by some to the contrary.
Lake Pepin was discovered by Father Hennepin in April, 1680, who says of it: "About thirty Leagues above Black River we found the Lake of Tears, which we named so because the Savages who took us, as it will be hereafter related, consulted in this Place what they should do with their Prisoners; and those who were for murthering us cried all the Night upon us, to oblige by their Tears their Companions to consent to our Death. This Lake is formed by the Meschasipi, and may be seven Leagues long and five broad. Its Waters are almost standing, the Stream being hardly perceptible in the Middle." The name which the lake perceptible in the Middle. The name which the lake now bears is evidently of French origin, but I have not been able to ascertain who applied it, or what circumstances suggested its adoption.
Progress through the lake was painfully slow, and although we came in sight of this place at four o'clock, and were within two miles of its landing at five, the wind and waves beat so persistently against our bows that we did not reach port until after sunset. Despite the rain, however, which was still falling, a large
212concourse of citizens had gathered on the beach to see us disembark and to welcome us to Lake City. A brass band was in attendance and discoursed a few lively airs, making us quite forget for a few moments that our clothing was thoroughly drenched from head to foot.
Lake City belongs to that class of magic cities of the West which, under favorable circumstances, leap into existence and develop so rapidly as to far exceed the brightest anticipations of their founders. Beautifully located on the western shore of Pepin, enjoying excellent rail and water communications with all points up and down the river, it is destined to sustain the prominence it has gained on the Upper Mississippi.
Weather in the morning fair and calm. We resumed our journey through the lake at eight o'clock, and glided along with great ease until within three miles of its southern extremity, when a violent windstorm from the northward bore down upon us, and for a time kept us hard at work with our paddles to prevent the swamping of the canoes. Our observations on Lake Pepin led us to conclude that the slightest breath of wind will produce a heavy swell, and from this circumstance it is the custom of voyagers on river to pass through the lake, if possible, at night; experience having taught them that it is generally calmer then than during the day. It is twenty-one miles long, and its breadth, which varies from one to
215three miles, may be averaged at about two and a half. Towards its outlet the valley widens considerably, owing to the entrance of the Chippewa River. This river is five hundred yards wide at its mouth, and is navigable at all seasons of the year for fifty miles, and in time of freshets boats can proceed much further up. The general direction of the lake is from west-northwest to east-south-east. The scenery along its shores contrasts strongly with that of the river. Instead of the rapid current of the Mississippi, winding around numberless islands, some of which display well wooded surfaces, while others are mere sand-bars, the lake, when calm, presents a smooth and sluggish expanse of water, unrelieved by a single island; nothing limits the view but the towering bluffs which enclose it; these extend in a more regular manner, and with a more uniform elevation than those along the river.
We halted for a few moments at Wabasha, a small town on the right bank, twelve miles below Lake City, having a population of between two and three thousand. After a stroll through its leading streets we returned to the landing and re-embarked.
Alma, Wisconsin, on the left bank, nine miles below Wabasha, was reached in season for dinner. Although we began the descent of the Mississippi on the twenty-second of July and had floated and paddled down upwards of twelve hundred miles of its course, we had until now eaten a meal outside of Minnesota. This state may well be proud of her relation to the Mighty River, for she has more than one-third of its entire length within her borders.
Minneiska, being in a bend of the river, was seen
216directly in our front, just as the sun was sinking behind the horizon. The river, the town, the towering bluffs, the gorgeous sky, and the glimmering rays of the sun, as it gradually disappeared from view presented a scene worthy the painter's most skilful art and one not readily effaced from the memory of the observer. Aside from its poetic name and natural attractions, very little can be said of Minneiska. It might be inferred, from its present appearance as seen from the river, that a cyclone had struck it many years ago and that its days of prosperity were long since numbered. A stroll through the streets after supper developed nothing to lead us to a more favorable impression.
Our journey from Minneiska to Winona was heartily enjoyed; the most enchanting scenery, and not a breath of wind nor a ripple to disturb the even tenor of our way. Halted for luncheon at a village on the east bank delighting in the name of Fountain City.
When within two miles of Winona we were met by several canoes and skiffs, bearing representatives of the local press and others who seemed much interested in our voyage and its objects. Our arrival at this place was made exceedingly pleasant by the numerous and flattering courtesies of the citizens. We noted at the landing the national colors, while the greetings were most cordial. A carriage was waiting to convey us to a private residence where we were entertained as guests during our stay in Winona. Lectured in the evening
217in the session-room of the Normal School in accordance with a previous appointment. Was introduced by Captain O. B. Gould, a prominent attorney and one of the trustees of the school.
The location and surroundings of this city, distant ninety-six miles south-east of Saint Paul by rail, are extremely picturesque. Standing on a plateau nine miles long by three broad, on the west bank of the river it is environed by lofty bluffs, the surfaces of which, in some cases from summit to base, appear of a velvety smoothness that has more the semblance of art than of nature. The city is laid out with the utmost regularity, the streets wide and mostly at right angles; and the business blocks, compactly built of brick and stone, are generally of a very substantial character. Many of the private residences are elegantly designed, and show indications of wealth. The whole appearance of the place betokens business activity and prosperity. The inhabitants number at present about fifteen thousand, and it is thus the third city in population in the State, and claims to be the third in commercial importance. It is the river outlet for a large portion Minnesota and Wisconsin. The Chicago, Milwaukee and Saint Paul; the Green Bay, Winona and Saint Paul and other branch-lines of railway, have their stations and termini here. Winona is the fourth primary grain market in the United States. Fifteen churches, of all denominations, attest the moral and religious status of the citizens. Here, also, are a good public library, the first State normal school, a high school, four banks, and one daily and four weekly newspapers. The city is one of the most important lumber-distributing points on the Upper Mississippi.
218Two grain elevators, seven flour-mills, three large saw-mills, six carriage and wagon manufactories, and several other manufacturing establishments show the extent to which the capital and industry of Winona have been developed in a few years by its enterprising inhabitants.
There was so much of interest to be seen in and around Winona, that we did not re-embark until three o'clock in the afternoon. On stepping into our canoes it was remarked that the outlook was not so favorable as on the morning of the previous day, when we embarked at Minneiska. A slight breeze from a southerly quarter paid its respects as we pulled out from the shore. A few moments later ugly-looking clouds were observed, portending something of an unusual character. Still we kept on, unmindful of the threatening aspect of the sky, until we reached an expansion of the river about three miles below Winona, when, suddenly, the wind shifted to the westward and swept across the stream with great violence. In less than five minutes we found ourselves at the mercy of a turbulent sea — the surface covered with white caps, and our frail barks dashing hither and thither, quite beyond the control of the paddles; now riding on the topmost wave, and again sinking in the troughs which were seen on every hand.
Scott having, retired from the expedition at Winona, my brother took his place as pilot and was now with me in the Alice. Naturally possessed of an excitable
219temperament and being only an amateur canoeist, like myself, his assistance was of little avail on this occasion. The canoes were soon filled with water and nothing but the light and buoyant material of which they were constructed prevented their sinking. Like Richard Ill., we would have been glad to exchange our kingdom — not for a horse — but for the air-tight compartments of our canoes which had been cast aside Aitkin as an unnecessary encumbrance.
In an attempt to reach the western bank we were caught by wind and wave and driven to the opposite or lee shore, where we were beset with snags, sawyers and driftwood, thus making a landing impracticable. A few moments later the wind subsided, the water again became calm, and our first and only squall on the Mississippi was numbered among the things of the past.
We disembarked at Trempealeau a little before sunset, and were pleasantly domiciled at the Melchior House. After tea we were most agreeably entertained in the parlors of the hotel by the family and friends of our hostess. George and Paine were especially zealous in their attentions to the young ladies and, notwithstanding the dilapidated appearance of Trempealeau, voted it among the most delightful places on the Upper Mississippi.
Chapter XVIII. — Three Days at La Crosse.
BREAKFAST over at Trempealeau, we took a hurried walk through its rickety streets and glanced at the relics of its former prosperity. Paine suggested that it would make an appropriate finis to a volume of which Minneiska might fittingly form the preface. Resumed our journey at ten o'clock after exchanging adieux with the Melchiors, who had come down to the landing to witness the launch of our canoes and to leave with us their best wishes for a safe and pleasant voyage to the Gulf.
Nothing could be more delightful than our trip from Trempealeau to La Crosse. A clear sky, a genial atmosphere, and a strong current, made navigation a pleasure rather than a burden, as had been the case on many preceding days. Everything now appeared different. Even the face of nature seemed changed. In place of the majestic bluffs, the banks here sloped gradually down to the water's edge, covered with various trees enriched by the variegated hues of autumn.
So pleasantly had the time passed that it was with something of surprise we discerned at one o clock the church spires of La Crosse. Half an hour later our canoes touched the boat-house landing and we were soon registered and assigned to rooms at the Commercial Hotel. Among the first to greet us at the "Commercial" was Mr. Pearce Giles, of Philadelphia, an old acquaintance and friend, who had assisted in the organization of my expedition at Saint Paul, before starting for the head waters of the Mississippi, and who was now sojourning for a few days at La Crosse.
The name of this ambitious young city is said to be derived from the invigorating game of "La Crosse," the favorite snort of the Indians on the level prairie upon which the city now stands. To indulge, in their athletic matches, it is recorded that they assembled here in large numbers annually — the plain being conveniently adapted for the purpose — and the first white settler, Nathan Myrick, became so enthusiastic an admirer of the exciting game, that he named the spot on which his solitary cabin was built, La Crosse, and hence the name of the Indian sport is perpetuated in that of the city.
La Crosse claims, and with good grace, to be the second city in commercial and manufacturing importance in the State of Wisconsin — Milwaukee, of course, ranking first. The prairie land on which it is built is seven miles in length by two and a half in breadth, on the east bank of the Mississippi River. The distance below Saint Paul is one hundred and ninety-seven miles. By railway, La Crosse is only one hundred and twenty-nine miles from the city, and one hundred and
222ninety-six from Milwaukee. The Black and La Crosse rivers fall into the Mississippi at this point, the former a most important lumbering stream. The growth and development of La Crosse, in a very few years, are in truth no less amazing than creditable to its enterprising pioneers and citizens. The first settler, Myrick, landed here in November, 1841, less than fifty years ago, with a boat-load of goods and notions from Prairie du Chien, and his laudable enterprise was to trade the contents of his boat with the red men for their furs. In the course of ten years Myrick's Indian trading-post had invited other settlers to it, and it became an incorporated town. In five years more, 1856, the town had attained sufficient size and importance to be made a city. To-day it has a population of over twenty thousand of as live, go-ahead citizens as are to be found in the valley of the Great River. The geographical location of this city is doubtless one of the secrets of its rapid progress and present nourishing condition. The products of one of the finest agricultural states in the Union, together with the vast supplies coming in from Minnesota and Northern Iowa, give to La Crosse immense advantages, occupying as it does, a commanding position on the river for attracting commercial relations by virtue of its great facilities of transportation. Besides numerous lines of railway centring here, the city has access to that grand highway, the Mississippi and its tributaries, embracing over sixteen thousand miles of navigable rivers. A stretch of over two thousand miles of water-way from Saint Anthony's Falls to the Gulf of Mexico, affords the cheapest kind of transportation, of the benefits of which La Crosse avails itself to a very large extent,
223and hence, mainly, its growth in population and in wealth.
The commerce and manufactures of a city depend largely upon the resources of the State in which it is situated. Wisconsin is one of the richest agricultural states in America. It is larger than the states of New York, Connecticut and Rhode Island combined, and in fertility of soil surpasses them. A considerable percentage of the wheat crop of the United States is grown in this province. Its immense cornfields, comprising several million acres, are another source of wealth. The hay producing area is about twice as large as the State of Iowa, and timber of the most valuable manufacturing descriptions is plentiful in the northern part of the State. Twenty million pounds of butter and fifteen million pounds of cheese are annually manufactured in Wisconsin, much of which is shipped to eastern markets and from them reshipped to the markets of the civilized world. The soil and climate of this State are especially adapted to the growth of potatoes, one of the most profitable crops raised in the country. The growth of flax is another leading industry of the State of Wisconsin, the yield being over twenty million pounds a year. Thus, in agricultural resources the "Badger" State possesses every advantage necessary for developing great commercial and manufacturing cities, and the favorable position of La Crosse eminently fits it for reaping the full benefit of the conditions provided by generous Nature.
La Crosse is a port of entry and ranks third on the Mississippi River, being exceeded in the number of vessels enrolled only by New Orleans and Saint Louis. The wholesale trade of La Crosse is in a
224flourishing condition and includes large receipts and shipments of grain and immense supplies of lumber. Hardware, boots and shoes, clothing, furniture and other necessaries of life are now also staples of the wholesale trade. In fact, from all we could learn from inquiry on the spot, the commerce of La Crosse is rapidly growing under the skilful management of its enterprising merchants, its annual transactions reaching about five million dollars. The retail trade is in a no less satisfactory condition, and the growth of this city in population and wealth is a subject of remark by all occasional visitors.
The manufactures of La Crosse are pointed to with justifiable pride by its citizens and promise great things in the near future. The wool manufactories are thirteen in number and of an extensive character. Iron manufactories, foundries and machine-shops are numerous, and the out-put of this class of industries is of the most varied description. Engines and boilers of every size are built here, and architectural iron products and stoves of all kinds are produced in great abundance, thus illustrating the genius, skill and enterprise embarked in the iron business in this busy city. The forests of Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota are practically inexhaustible, and it is claimed that no city in the Northwest is more advantageously situated in regard to lumber resources than La Crosse. Its position is such as to enable it to draw upon any source of supply through the far-reaching Mississippi River and its tributaries. The mills of La Crosse have a combined capacity of two hundred million feet, and consume, distribute and export not less than five hundred million feet of lumber annually. The aggregate
225wealth contributed to the city by lumber alone amounts to many millions of dollars per year.
The rapid development of the Northwest has largely increased the growth and importance of La Crosse within the past few years, and has assured its future as a commercial and manufacturing centre. It has become the base of supply for an extensive range of territory in the matter of lumber, and in everything that contributes to the growth of a city is annually making gains. It will afford some idea of the dimensions of the city to say that it has about thirty miles of graded streets, and forty-five miles of sidewalks. The fire department and the police force rank at a high standard of efficiency. Electric light for the streets and stores is furnished by the Brush Electric Light Company, which has erected four towers, each one hundred and fifty feet high, and nine masts, and the streets at night are consequently well illuminated. The public schools are eleven in number in addition to the High School, erected in 1878, at a cost of twenty-six thousand dollars. Two English, one German and two Norwegian newspapers keep the citizens posted in State and national politics and the general news of the locality. Twenty-five churches administer to the religious requirements of the various denominations and nationalities, some of them handsome specimens of church architecture. The Public Library contains about eight thousand volumes adapted to the mixed population. La Crosse, in short, is a rapidly improving city, and we think is destined to become in a few years prominent in population and wealth, and an important factor in the commerce and manufactures of the Nation.
Chapter XIX. — La Crosse to Dubuque.
September 14, 1881.
WHILE at La Crosse it was decided that our little party should be reduced to a more economical basis, in as much as there was little of an exploratory character on the Lower Mississippi, and since the duties devolving upon voyageurs in a wild country could now be readily dispensed with. Acting upon this decision, Paine rather reluctantly surrendered his commission as captain of the Itasca
It was proposed, on setting out in the morning, to make De Soto the evening destination, but a heavy thunder-storm, which had been gathering throughout the afternoon, burst at five o'clock and drove us ashore
227at victory. This remnant of by-gone days might very appropriately be classed with the Alma, Minneiska, Trempealeau series, which, but for the circumstance that it stand upon the banks of the Father of Waters, that be a poor "Victory" indeed. One of the shining lights of this place, happening to overhear a conversation between Paine and myself, concerning the town of De Soto, situated on the river five miles below, ventured to inquire if in our opinion the "De Sota" after whom the town was called, was any of "Minnie Sota," the girl after whom he understood the adjoining State was named!
Nothing of an unusual character in the scenery or of special interest as to incident was noted in the journey from La Crosse to Victory. A halt was made at one o'clock for dinner, which we had at a farm-house on the right bank, near the boundary line between Minnesota and Iowa. This was our last meal in the former State.
Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin,
On retiring to our rooms the previous evening, it the intention to get into our canoes at seven o'clock in the morning, but we were detained at Victory by rain until after eight, when, taking advantage of a lull in the storm, we pushed off, finding a brisk current, wind down stream and everything favorable until we readied Lansing, when more rain fell, and continued to fall throughout the day. Stopped at a farm-house on the Iowa side for dinner, our
228first meal in the Prairie State. Made short halt De Soto, Lansing, and Harpers.
Wind, rain, a swollen stream and approaching darkness rendered our landing at Prairie du Chien both difficult and dangerous. We were cautioned by persons on the shore not to attempt to pass under the low pontoon-like railway bridge which crosses the river at this point, but the warning came too late, as the brisk current and suction of the bridge trellis-work had placed the canoe beyond our control, and we were unable to do more than guide it through the network of huge posts which constitute its foundation and support. We succeeded ultimately in getting out of the trap in which we temporarily found ourselves, much to our own relief and the apparent gratification of the anxious spectators on the shore.
On the seventeenth of June, 1673, Marquette and Joliet, the former a Jesuit missionary, reached the junction of the Wisconsin with the Mississippi, a little above which, Prairie du Chien stands to-day. Seven years later, in 1680, Father Hennepin and M. Dugay explored the Mississippi from the mouth of the Illinois northward, and on ascending and descending the river passed the site of the present town. Hennepin claimed at this time to have readied the head-waters of the Mississippi, and also to have explored it to its mouth, but his narrative bears evidence of great exaggeration, and procured for him, with the French, the title of "the great falsifier." Yet his achievement was a splendid one, with which he might well have been satisfied. He passed twice the entire distance between the Falls of Saint Anthony and the mouth of the Arkansas, in all nearly three thousand miles, which voyage having
229been accomplished a canoe on an unknown and treacherous river, flowing through an unexplored wilderness something to be proud of.
There is a tolerably well authenticated tradition that Jesuit missionaries had visited the country during the twenty years previous to Marquette's expedition, and had established a number of missions among the Indians of the Mississippi Valley. At an early day a Jesuit mission was established on the present site of Prairie du Chien, and later it became a French trading-post. But Prairie du Chien and the surrounding country have an unwritten history extending back into the remote past, only a few traces of which still remain. Before the invasion of the white race it was the home of the Kickapoos and other tribes of Indians. Going back still farther into the dim past, the unknown race designated as Mound-Builders seem to have made this a favorite locality. In Crawford County, more than in any other part of Wisconsin, are found traces of their work. The antiquity of these mounds is undoubtedly remote, for frequently what is known as the "virgin forest" is found growing upon them.
The mounds found in Crawford County are of various forms and sizes. One of the largest and highest existed at Prairie du Chien, and was leveled in order to furnish a site for Fort Crawford. It was about twenty feet in height, with a base of two hundred feet. Another mound of similar form and dimensions stood within the old fort of which Crawford was the successor. The circular is the most common of these tumuli, though there are many of different shapes. Some are built like walls or breastworks, with open spaces like gates. Others take the form of a serpent; still others
230that of a bird or beast; while some few mounds resemble a man lying on his face. These latter are from three to four feet high. On the shores of the Mississippi and Wisconsin, on the beach lands and highest peaks of the bluffs, these mounds are, or rather were very numerous, and easily discernible from the river.
Some of the mounds of Prairie du Chien present a different soil from that on which they are built, none like it having been discovered within several miles, thus indicating that the soil must have been brought from a considerable distance. In no instance is there the appearance of the earth of which they are composed having been dug from the side of, or even near them. Sometimes the spot on which the mound stands has a natural elevation. One such, on the south-west angle of Prairie du Chien, is itself about ten feet high, while the hillock which it occupies gives it the appearance of being at least twice that height. From the top of this mound an extensive view may be obtained of the low bottom-lands and lakes which lie between the channels of the Wisconsin and Mississippi rivers, giving it the appearance of having been a watch-tower. It is scarcely probable, however, that they were all military defences. The supposition is more plausible that many of them were religious symbols, the mounds serving, perhaps, as altars. There is no positive evidence that they were built as tombs for the dead; for, though human remains have been found in some of them, these remains may have been deposited at later periods, and others have not contained any.
But the mounds are fast disappearing before the march of civilization. A utilitarian age and people
231are demolishing them with the plow, the pick and the spade, and already a majority have disappeared. The antiquarian of the future will sigh in vain for these sole relics of an unknown and a mysterious people. However, in some few instances, they are being preserved with that care to which their antiquity entitles them.
Prairie du Chien, the county-seat of Crawford County, is situated on the eastern bank of the Mississippi, on a level plain or prairie about nine miles long and between one and two miles wide. This prairie is bounded on the east by high, rocky bluffs, with scattered clumps of trees, while its western border is washed by the Mississippi. Its name was derived from that of an Indian chief who once resided there, known as Le Chien, or The Dog; hence Prairie du Chien, or The Dog Prairie. It was one of the oldest of the French trading-posts, but the first permanent settlement was located there in 1783. Gautier de Vorville, Michael Brisbois, and Captain Fisher were among the traders late in the last and early in the present century, and all of them have left descendants. Fisher was of Scotch origin, and carried on an extensive trading with the Indians. In 1815 he emigrated to more remote regions on the Red River of the North, but died in Prairie du Chien in 1827.
In 1814, the British sent a party of Indians, composed of Sioux, Menomonies, and Winnebagos, under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel William McKay, to capture Prairie du Chien from the Americans. After a four days' seige the fort surrendered, and the report of a great victory was carried by Captain Rolette to Mackinaw. Large numbers thronged the
232shores and inquired of the captain the news. "A great battle — a sanguinary contest," responded Rolette, with an air of great solemnity and importance. "How many were killed?" "None." "What a bloody contest!" vociferated the crowd, as they escorted the hero from the boat to the garrison. The following year, at the conclusion of peace, the post was evacuated.
Crawford County was established in 1818, while the country was still embraced in the territory of Michigan. At that early period it extended from the Wisconsin River on the south to the Buffalo River on the north, comprising an area now divided into ten or more counties.
Like many of its neighbors up and down the river Prairie du Chien had great expectations in its youth. It was confident of becoming the chief town of the Mississippi. It is situated five hundred and forty miles north of Saint Louis, in the midst of a productive agricultural and mineral region. But though one or more railroads touch it, the great through-lines of the continent passed it by; and for that, and other reasons, more or less difficult of explanation, but which act as a sort of Providence in shaping the ends of rough-hewn cities, it remains scarcely more than a town, having but about three thousand inhabitants. It is, however, an important local shipping-post, and has a number of manufactories. Saint John's College and Saint Mary's Female Institute are located here, under control of the Catholic Church.
Just above Prairie du Chien is the site of Fort Crawford, near the town of Saint Fiolle, which in 1846 was the larger of the two, but which has now altogether disappeared from the map. Prairie du Chien is a pretty
233town, being well built, with wide streets and an abundance of shade; and there is an air of thrift and enterprise about its inhabitants which impress the stranger. As in most other towns of the Upper Mississippi, its people are made up largely of New Englanders and New Yorkers; and wherever they are found, prosperity is sure to follow in their track. Thus, through Prairie du Chien will probably never become a large city, it will hold its own among the neighboring towns and cities up and down the river, and obtain a due share of the influx of immigration into this section of the country.
Lecture appointments at Davenport and other points below Dubuque made it imperative that we should launch our canoe at a seasonable hour in the morning, tough much against inclination, for the storm which opened the day before was still in progress. Halted a few moments at McGregor, and took dinner at the Mississippi House, Clayton, both of which towns are in Iowa. A glance through their streets reminded us very forcibly the "waning glory" of Minneiska, Trempeleau and Victory.
Finding from the westward we kept close to the Iowa shore all day. Reached Guttenberg at five o'clock and housed our canoe in the Diamond Jo frieght-house. Our clothing was again thoroughly soaked and no changes at hand.
Guttenberg, the county-seat of Clayton County,
234Iowa, is twenty-six miles below Prairie du Chien, and two hundred and eighty-one south of Saint Paul. It is the largest town in the county and the river-landing for an extensive section of country. It has a population of about fifteen hundred — nearly all Germans.
The traveler who seeks to penetrate the region west of Guttenberg will first encounter nature in its rough and primitive majesty. He ascends a gigantic bluff, step by step, until he attains a mountain elevation. Then, at his feet, he beholds the Mississippi, dotted with lovely islands and sparkling in the sunlight as it rolls its flood of waters toward the sea. Before him spreads the forest as it appeared a hundred years ago, beautiful in its grandeur. He journeys through it, and his eyes are greeted by smiling farms as he looks westward from the hill-tops. The country grows less rugged as he advances, until, five miles from Guttenberg, he enters a rolling prairie, extending far and wide on either hand, to within three miles of Elkader. This prairie is one of the largest in the State, and is broken into every variety of hill and dale. It is covered with farms, most of them under the very highest state of cultivation.
PACIFIC HOUSE, Dubuque, Iowa,
We paddled away from Guttenberg at eight o'clock in the morning. Weather still unsettled and in keeping with that which followed the launching of our canoes at Saint Paul, with the exception of two or
235three days. We learned from river-men that these September rains are a well-known characteristic of the Upper Mississippi, and are looked for annually.
Several attempts were made to arrange for dinner between twelve and one o'clock at farm-houses on the Iowa side, but the stupid foreigners whom we encountered declined to accommodate, seeming to regard us with suspicion. Our perseverance was ultimately rewarded with an excellent dinner at Specht's Ferry, thirty miles below Guttenberg.
The afternoon was the finest we had chronicled in many days and afforded us a splendid opportunity to study scenery and other objects of interest in our "line of march."
The geologist, mineralogist or artist will find in the tour from Prairie du Chien to Dubuque a most productive field for research, and one possessing more beauty of scenery and grandeur than any other section of the Mississippi below Winona. His attention will be arrested by the peculiar outline of hills that limit the vision on either side of the river, and the perpendicular walls of rock that rise from the grassy slope or green copsewood in massive cliffs, which terrace the heights as with continuous natural battlements. This scenery not only characterizes the banks of the Mississippi, but many of its Iowa and Wisconsin tributaries. At the base of the cliffs we often noted cool, clear, and copious springs, which not unfrequently give rise to small streams containing an abundance of delicious trout. The sportsman will find the rivers of this region well stocked with pike, carp, bass, cat-fish, pickerel and sun-fish, while the prairies abound in grouse, partridges and pheasants.
Along the banks of the Mississippi the surface is broken and too uneven for farming purposes, but affords excellent pasturage, while from the valleys and bottoms are gathered hay and grain for winter fodder leaving little to be desired by the shepherd and stock-raiser. Further back from the river on the Iowa side are found undulating prairies, interspersed with open groves of timber, watered with pebbly or rock-bedded streams, pure and transparent; hills of moderate elevation and gentle slope, with here and there small lakes and ponds, some skirted with timber, and others surrounded by the greensward of the open prairie.
Less than forty years have elapsed since this section was in full possession of the Winnebago Indians. How changed the scene! Their villages, their hunting-grounds and the unbroken forests have disappeared. The palefaces came among them, and the axe of the woodman broke the solitude of ages and warned them of an impending fate. No longer shall these groves and plains be the hunting-ground of the red man; no longer the deep ravines serve as lurking-places for the wily foe, nor the bluff-side as a battle-field between contending tribes. No longer
And belt and beads in sunlight glistening,
Does the savage urge his skiff like
A wild bird on the wing."
Their struggle against the onward march of civilization was in vain, and
Faith raised her altars to the God she loved."
Our journey was uninterrupted until about four
239o'clock when we ran into the log-boom of a saw-mill just above Dubuque. A long "pocket" had been constructed for the reception of logs, and into this we slipped before realizing that, like all well-ordered pockets, there was but one way out of it. We had, in brief, after discovering our dilemma, indulged the hope that as, in a few parallel cases still preserved in memory, there might be a hole in this rather unwelcome Mississippi saw-mill-log-boom pocket, and so glided down towards the mill. We recalled our Winona adventure, but that was a squall, while this affair was certainly a boom, and if there is anything in a name, our present unfavorable lookout was likely to result to our advantage. Proximity to the inevitable saw-mill finally brought our musings to an end, and our canoe to a standstill, for we had run into a nest of two or three thousand logs, and must either retreat by the route we had entered or lift the canoe over the boom, by no means an easy matter, considering that there was nothing but a narrow pole to stand on while we were making the transfer, and that floating on the surface of the water. Running the canoe alongside the boom, Paine stepped out upon the latter, and balancing himself with his double paddle, gave me a hand, and in a moment more I was beside him. We then hoisted the canoe over and launched it on the other side. It is perhaps needless to add that we resolved to give saw-mills and their booms a wide berth in future.
The citizens of Dubuque claim for their city the distinctive title of "Metropolis of Iowa." In what measure the claim is justified we must leave to the other enterprising and flourishing cities of this State to determine.
Up to the year 1803, the French owned an immense region west of the Mississippi, which in that year became part of the public domain of the United States by purchase. This region had previously belonged to Spain, and during the tenure of the Spaniards, namely in 1778, a young Canadian trader, named Julien Dubuque, obtained the privilege of working the lead mines which are situated within the limits of the present city. This privilege was obtained from the Indians, and in 1806, Dubuque and his companions applied to the United States Government to have their claim established as a Spanish grant, on the ground that the governor of Louisiana had confirmed, in 1796, the Indian permission given eight years before. In 1810, Dubuque died; but his heirs-at-law continued to press their claim, and the "Dubuque claim case" was legislated upon in Congress and litigated in the courts for nearly fifty years, until, in 1853, it was finally settled adversely to the claimants.
In the year 1832, the Black Hawk War was closed and a treaty extinguished the title of the Indians to the lands which now form the eastern part of the State of Iowa. A settlement was soon made by a few American immigrants and their families; others shortly followed, and Dubuque became in two years a busy mining village, having received its name by vote at a public meeting of the settlers.
Iowa became a Territory in 1838, Dubuque having been incorporated as a village in the previous year. In 1840 the population of the village was less than one thousand. The first newspaper published in the Territory was started in 1836, under the title of The Dubuque Visitor. In 1840 a movement was made to
241incorporate Dubuque as a city, and in the spring of 1841 this was effected by the election of a mayor and aldermen to manage the city affairs.
The lead-mining operations were prosperous, and the foundation of a flourishing city had been laid by this industry. In December, 1847, Iowa became a State, and the population of Dubuque had now increased to over three thousand. The city had become an important receiving point, but Galena was still its successful rival for the up-river commerce. It required another decade to secure the success which has been achieved by Dubuque.
The emigration from the Eastern States to Iowa in 1850, and for several years afterward, largely added to the population of this city. Improvement of the streets and business blocks followed, with large school-buildings for the accommodation of six hundred pupils each; and, during the five years preceding 1856, Dubuque made more progress than it had done in the previous fifteen years. During this latter year the population had grown to nearly sixteen thousand. In 1857 and 1858 the city met with some reverses owing to the general financial revulsion; but in 1859 business revived, immigration from the East was resumed, and the businessmen of Dubuque commenced earnest work for the welfare of their promising city. Fine blocks of buildings and commodious public halls were erected, and the General Government began the construction of the Custom House and Post-Office. From 1860 to 1870, the whole country was convulsed by the Civil War and its results. Although far removed from the scenes of military conflicts, Dubuque City and County sent three companies of volunteers to battle
242against rebellion, besides many who enlisted in the regular army. Within a year after the close of the war, the city grew more rapidly; trade, manufactures and public improvements increased, and more houses, schools and churches were built.
In 1870 the population of Dubuque had increased to over eighteen thousand. A street railway was added to the facilities for passenger transit; and steady progress made it all that pertains to a healthy municipal growth. Among the manufactures of this thriving city are those of steam-engines, boilers, threshing-machines, casting and the work of iron-foundries and machine-shops, coppersmith work, tobacco, window-shades, churns, fanning-mills, trunks, soap, flour, wagons and carriages, furniture, planing-mill work, cooperage, brick, vinegar and many others. The trade in lumber affords a striking contrast. In 1834 a small raft of pine boards, the first that ever descended the Upper Mississippi, furnished the material for a frame building used as a boarding-house in Dubuque. In 1870 fifty million feet of pine lumber were sold from fifteen Dubuque lumber-yards, and the trade has very considerably increased since that date.
The first school in Iowa was opened in Dubuque in 1833. At present there are in the city a dozen fine buildings, with about eighty well-qualified teachers and over three thousand pupils to mark the educational progress of its citizens. The lead mines of Julien Dubuque within the corporation limits and surrounding them, have been, and are still, an important element of prosperity. The lead district of Dubuque County comprises over a hundred square miles, but the larger number of the mines are worked within the
243city, or within a mile or two of it. Many of the valuable lodes near Dubuque have been worked beneath gardens, streets, roads and cultivated fields. The product of the mines has averaged in value about three hundred thousand dollars annually, and they are still as productive as they were nearly fifty years ago.
The Methodists, in 1834, were the first religious denomination established in Dubuque. The Catholics were the next, in 1835; and by the year 1840, the Presbyterians, Congregationalists, Episcopalians and Baptists had organized churches.
No city of the Union of equal population has in our opinion more reason to be proud of its position, character and reputation, than Dubuque, in developing all the elements of progress, placed by nature at its disposal. From its fortunate geographical position, nearly midway between Saint Louis and Saint Paul, it bids fair to justify its claim to be the "Metropolis of Iowa."
Chapter XX. — Dubuque to Davenport.
September 18, 1881.
REMAINED at Dubuque until after dinner. Spent the morning in strolls through and around the city. On calling for our canoe at one o'clock, we found a strong wind from the south, and in consequence rough water was encountered throughout the afternoon.
On leaving Dubuque we noticed a very pronounced change in the scenery. The bold, rocky bluffs, which had been observed at intervals all along our route from the Falls of Saint Anthony, had almost entirely disappeared, and in their place rolling prairies came down, in many cases to the water's edge, in gradual slopes. Illinois is now on our left hand, and as we reach and pass the various cities and towns that serve as landmarks on the river, we begin to realize that we are making good progress toward the Gulf. We were strongly tempted to paddle over to the east bank and set our feet on the soil of the "Sucker" State, but the wind having shifted to westward we
245thought it wise to hug the windward shore. If more favored to-morrow we shall run over and pay our respects.
Reached Bellevue at half-past seven o'clock and registered at the Bower House. Here, through the courtesy of our landlord, Mr. N. O. Ames, we were introduced to several very intelligent and agreeable citizens, among whom were Hon. W. O. Evans, editor of the Leader, Captain W. A. Warren and Mr. B. W. Seaward. From these gentlemen we gleaned considerable information concerning the peculiar origin and early history of Bellevue. It is said to have been settled by bandits in 1836, and has a present population of eighteen hundred honest, industrious and prosperous citizens.
It stands on a high bank thirty-two miles below Dubuque, has an excellent landing and is noted for its fine scenery.
I should do injustice to the moral standard of this respectable and enterprising town, if I failed to explain that its bandit pioneers, after many sanguinary struggles with the officers of the law, were, long years ago, exterminated, so that the traveler in these times, who contemplates a sojourn at this delightful summer resort, need have no fears, nor provide himself with an unusual supply of ammunition, nor call on the authorities to protect his life and property from the onslaughts of marauders.
Bellevue has two banks, one weekly paper and an extensive trade by railway in grain, stock and agricultural produce.
It is a promising town, and its onward movement seems assured.
So agreeably had we been entertained by the successors of the "bandits," that we did not re-embark until nine o'clock in the morning, and then rather reluctantly, notwithstanding our resolution of the previous evening to start at a much earlier hour. We reached Sabula, on the west bank, thirty-three miles below Bellevue, a few minutes after one o'clock, at which place we dined.
We stepped ashore at Lyons and looked through its principal streets. This city is fifty-eight miles south-east of Dubuque, and three above Clinton, with which it is connected by street railways. It has a national bank, two weekly papers, graded public schools, a seminary, several factories and extensive nurseries. Its population as given by the last census is something over four thousand.
Just below Lyons we were met by Messrs. E. L. Moses and W. F. Coan, Jr., of the Wapsipinicon Boat-club, who, having been apprised through their city papers that we were on our way to Clinton, came up the river to extend the hospitalities of their club. These gentlemen led the way down to their boat-house, where we were shown the various craft in which they delight to cut the water. Boats large and small, and of every variety of manufacture, from the rudest pattern of a dug-out, to the most delicately constructed sculls and skiffs.
After spending a half-hour with the "Wapsies" we
247were escorted to the Revere House and introduced to the proprietor, Mr. J. G. Cornue, to whom we were indebted for many favors and much valuable information concerning Clinton and vicinity.
Clinton, the county-seat of Clinton County, is situated on the west bank of the Mississippi, just above the mouth of the Wapsipinicon. It is eighty miles below Dubuque, forty-two above Davenport and one hundred and thirty-eight west of Chicago. It contains three banks, one daily and three weekly papers, railroad repair-shops, foundries, sash and blind-factories, a paper-mill and eight saw-mills. Population about ten thousand. The river is crossed at this point by an iron railway drawbridge, having its eastern terminus in Fulton, a small town on the Illinois side.
While here, we learned of the death of President Garfield, which occurred between eight and nine o'clock in the evening. The announcement reached Clinton at half-past ten. I had retired, but was aroused by the newsboys, who were crying extras on the streets, and a few moments later the hotel clerk handed me a copy of the Clinton Herald, giving an account of the sad event at Elberon, New Jersey.
We were up very early in the morning and, after reading the details of the President's death, had breakfast; then walked down to the boat-club house, where we found several members of the club awaiting us. Was introduced to their commodore, Mr. E. M.
248Treman, and others. Mr. E. L. Moses, who met us above Clinton the evening before, accompanied us down the river in a "scull" as far as Comanche, where he introduced me to an acquaintance of his, Colonel J. H. Smith, late of the Sixteenth Iowa Volunteers, who, I soon discovered, had been a fellow-prisoner at Richmond during the War of the Rebellion. We soon fell to talking over our army experiences, and became so much absorbed in the incidents of our prison-days, that Paine concluded I had quite forgotten that Moline was the evening objective. Perhaps I had, for it is not an easy matter to break away from those with whom we have shared privations, hardships and dangers, when we meet them but once or twice in the course of a lifetime.
Had dinner at Cordova, a small hamlet on the Illinois shore, twenty-one miles below Clinton. So strong was the current during this day's journey that we covered forty-three miles between nine o'clock in the morning and five in the afternoon, notwithstanding my interview with Colonel Smith, at Comanche, and an hour for refreshments at Cordova.
The Le Claire Rapids, ten miles above Moline, were thought by many to be dangerous to navigation in small boats; but we rather coveted the impetus which they were certain to give our staunch little canoe, while we felt sure that their turbulent character had been greatly exaggerated. It is needless to add that the rapids were safely passed and that we heartily enjoyed the excitement which invariably falls to the lot of a voyager in a swift current with occasional slight obstructions. These are the only rapids between Fort Snelling, Minnesota, and Keokuk, Iowa,
249with the exception of the Lower Rapids at Moline, which are a continuation of the former. The velocity of the Upper Rapids is sufficient to turn a mill-wheel requiring considerable power, and we noticed one in operation on the Iowa side.
Arriving at a convenient landing-place at Moline, in sight of many evidences of an advanced civilization in the shape of sundry gigantic smoke-stacks, we found ourselves in the lively little city which has been designated, with some show of reason, the "Lowell of the West." Moline is exclusively a manufacturing centre. Passing along its main street, parallel to the river, we see little else than factories, some of considerable size, and the busy hum of machinery salutes our ears for more than a mile, as we walk, and look with wonder on these signs of the march of western industry and progress. The motive power produced by a fall in the Mississippi at this point, and utilized for the driving of machinery, is the source of all this energy, and has made Moline one of the busiest and most flourishing places in the western country. The National Government has of late years greatly improved this motive power for the benefit, mainly, of the United States Arsenal works on the island, but no less has it contributed to the solid advantage of the enterprising settlers on the adjacent mainland, and hence Moline, the "City of Mills," has attained its present importance, and, we believe, it may truly be said that no other city in the West, of its size, equals it in manufacturing vigor and resources. The great plow-factory of Messrs. Deere & Company is known far and wide, while many other establishments of scarcely less celebrity flourish
250side by side on the river's bank, giving employment to large numbers of people and creating and distributing wealth over the land.
The site of this enterprising city is favorable to its growth, and already it extends its arms eastward almost to Rock River, an important tributary of the Mississippi, distant from Moline proper about three miles. It must be said, however, that the useful predominates over the beautiful here, as in most manufacturing centres, albeit not lacking, over the bluffs, in many beautiful spots, where extensive views of the Great River are obtained, and sites for building are being selected. Educational and religious matters are not forgotten by this busy people. Besides several excellent schools, including a handsome and commodious High School, the site of which overlooks the city, and is in every respect a credit to the citizens, Moline has a flourishing Public Library, containing many thousand volumes of theological, historical, biographical and scientific works, together with a good assortment of fiction. Here are also several churches of the various religious denominations and, from all we could learn, the people are generally sober, intelligent and industrious.
In population Moline is smaller than either Davenport or Rock Island City, but in manufacturing importance it far excels them both. The source of its growth and prosperity — the water-power — will doubtless continue to operate as such for generations untold, and Mobile will eventually fill the entire space between the Mississippi and Rock River at this point. Sylvan Water, the poetic designation given to a portion of the Great River lying between the city and
251Rock-Island Arsenal, has been the scene of the annual regatta of the Mississippi Valley Amateur Rowing Association, for which it is found to be eminently adapted. A substantial bridge uniting Moline with the arsenal crosses it, and from this a view is obtained of the extensive government works now in progress for the permanent improvement of the water-power.
Chapter XXI. — Four Days at Davenport.
THE entire forenoon of September twenty-first was devoted to an inspection of the varied manufactures of Moline, and in the afternoon we dropped down to Davenport. Among those who shook hands with us at the landing was Colonel P. A. J. Russell, city editor of the Democrat, who was the first to greet me here during my horseback journey from ocean to ocean in 1876, and who now seemed doubly interested in my canoe voyage from source to sea. The colonel remarked that he had no intention of letting me intersect my old line of march without seeing at least one familiar face.
Stepping into a carriage which was in waiting at the ferry, we were driven to the "Kimball," until recently known as the Burtis House, where I had registered during my former journey. The chief topic of conversation everywhere at this time was the death and approaching funeral of President Garfield. Having an engagement to lecture at Davenport on the twenty-third, it was thought advisable by many to cancel it out of respect to the Nation's dead; while others urged that as a large number of tickets had been sold it
253would be better to meet the appointment. I accordingly lectured at Library Hall, being introduced by Mayor Henry. I referred to the dead President before proceeding with my lecture, and gave my reasons for delivering it at a time when nearly all public engagements were either cancelled or postponed.
The site of Davenport and its vicinity was the camping-ground of the Indians from time immemorial. Marquette and Joliet, the discoverers of the country over two hundred years ago, found the tribes of the Illini here. There were three villages; the main one, at which they landed, was called Pewaria, where, it is believed, the city of Davenport now stands, as it is laid down on Marquette's map on the west side of the river "Conception," as he named the Mississippi. The beauty of its location has been often descanted upon. It needs no pen of mine to describe its loveliness and the rich and varied landscape that surrounds it.
Less than fifty years ago the first cabin was erected here by white men. The retreating footsteps of the red man were still heard over the bluffs. The graves of his people were still fresh on the brow of the hills, but all of this, with the play-grounds of his children, have now been covered over with the habitations of the pale face. The mighty river that once bore the frail bark of a Marquette and a Joliet has become the thoroughfare of states. Where the light canoe of the savage once glided in safety, the scu-ti-chemon (or steamboat) of the white man now floats with majesty and splendor, and this magnificent river has become the highway of a mighty nation. The Mackinaw trading-boat, with its French voyageur has left its
254moorings on As-sin-ne-Man-ess (Rock Island), and old Fort Armstrong, that had stood like a watchful sentinel on the jutting rocks of the island for more than forty years, has been burned clown by sacrilegious hands.
The bluffs of Davenport consist of a gentle rise from the river or bottom lands; not so steep but that roads are constructed up almost every part of them. The general elevation of these bluffs or highlands is about one hundred feet above the Mississippi, covered now with residences, gardens and cultivated fields to their summit. Davenport Township differs from most others upon the river in the beautiful rolling prairie immediately back from the river, after passing the bluffs. Back of the city the slope from the top of the bluff to Duck Creek, covered as it is with gardens and fields, is one of uncommon beauty and richness.
At the close of the year 1832 there were no settlements of white men in Iowa. In this year, on the fifteenth of September, General Winfield Scott negotiated a treaty with the Indians of the Sac tribe for the purchase by the United States of the territory comprising Scott County, bordering on the river. The city of Davenport was named after Colonel George Davenport, the first white settler on Rock Island, on the eastern shore of the river and immediately opposite the site of Davenport. The Government had appointed him Indian agent and he received a grant of land on the Island.
The first person that owned land in Davenport was Antoine Le Claire, the son of a Canadian Frenchman, born in Michigan in 1797. His mother was the daughter of a Pottawatomie chief. At this time the
255Territory of the Northwest, out of which half a dozen great States have since been formed, was peopled almost entirely by the red man, with here and there one of a different race, fearless enough to brave the perils of a frontier life among the dusky denizens of the wilderness. The father of Le Claire was one of these. The claim upon which the city of Davenport was laid out was purchased by Le Claire for one hundred and fifty dollars! In 1835 Mr. Le Claire sold his claim to a company, whose object was to lay it out as a town site. They chose well, as the event has amply established. During the first year only some half dozen families came in, mostly from Saint Louis. The first hotel, the first store and the first saloon were opened this same year. The saloon was a log shanty and stood on Front street below Western avenue. The "Davenport Hotel," a frame building of small pretension, erected by Messrs. Davenport and Le Claire, occupied a lot on the corner of Front and Ripley streets; and the first store was the property of James Mackintosh, who sold to the scant population dry-goods, groceries, hardware and provisions. But, in addition to the dozen families in Davenport, purchasers came from the opposite shore of the river. Lumber was at that time brought up the river from Cincinnati. Flour at sixteen dollars per barrel and pork at sixteen cents per pound were also brought from Cincinnati. From this first year the ferry also dates its origin — a flat-boat propelled by oars. This, in time, gave place to steam, and, at present, a large and commodious steamboat is constantly employed in transferring freight and passengers between the Iowa and shores of the river, which at this point is about
256a mile wide. The mortality of Davenport during the first year of its existence amounted to seven, with a population of less than one hundred souls. Stevenson — now Rock Island City, on the Illinois shore, which had been laid out in 1834 — possessed at this time a population of nearly five hundred.
Davenport, in the beauty of its location, excels all the other cities in the State. Handsome homes dot the bluffs. River views, for residences, have been extensively occupied by the well-to-do citizens, and the scope of country brought within the range of the eye from some of these hill-top dwellings is scarcely to be excelled for beauty by anything I have seen on the river. The drainage is of nature's own making — the city being built on a declivity. There is much room for improvement in the sidewalks here. Possibly the citizens are too busy to give thought to a subject that concerns them only externally. Strangers, however, notice their defective, and in many cases dilapidated, condition, and make uncharitable remarks. The same applies to the County Court House, which is, without exception, the meanest I have seen in any city east of the Rockies and north of "Dixie." Verbum sapientia sufficit.
To see oursels as ithers see us!"
The educational advantages are proportioned to the size of the city. Here are twelve school-buildings, including that of the High School, erected in 1874, at a cost of sixty-five thousand dollars. The annual cost of the twelve schools is about seventy thousand dollars. Griswold College, belonging to the Protestant Episcopal diocese of Iowa, occupies a very picturesque
257site overlooking the river. The Roman Catholic Academy of the Immaculate Conception is conducted by the Sisters of Charity of the B. V. M. Located within the city boundaries, it is surrounded by beautiful grounds and appears as quiet and retired as if miles away from the hum of the restless city. The buildings are elegant and commodious, and a new addition, at a cost of twenty-five thousand dollars is now in course of erection. This academy was opened for the education of young ladies in 1859. The churches are numerous and well attended. Grace Church, the cathedral of the Protestant Episcopal diocese of Iowa, is a very fine, substantial edifice, erected at a cost of eighty thousand dollars.
Trinity Church has a chime of bells, awaking memories of youth both grave and gay, and may be heard at a distance of several miles. The Roman Catholic diocese of Davenport, embracing the southern half of the State, has also its seat here in the residence of the bishop. Four Baptist, four Catholic, one Christian, two Congregational, four Episcopal, one Hebrew, three Lutheran, four Methodist, one Unitarian and four Presbyterian churches afford strong evidence of progress in the cause of religion.
The Public Library on Brady street, as a means of education, is not to be passed over without favorable mention. It was founded by the late Mrs. Clarissa C. Cook, a lady of wealth and benevolence, and contains about ten thousand volumes; but the institution which has contributed most to the fame of Davenport, is its Academy of Sciences. This embraces a most valuable collection of rare curiosities, ancient and modern — relics from the mounds of Iowa and adjoining
258states, including many skulls and portions of the skeletons of pre-historic man, and of animals of an extinct race. The visitor to Davenport may spend a day very profitably in this well-ordered and attractive museum. Mercy Hospital is under the management of the Sisters of Mercy, and was opened in 1868. It has grown to large proportions and receives and cares for patients without reference to their religious denomination. It has the entire confidence of the citizens and all testify to its judicious management and great usefulness. The Home for the Friendless, founded and liberally endowed by the benevolent Mrs. Cook, is a shelter for destitute females. It supplies a want found to exist, in a greater or less degree, in most cities, but unfortunately supplied in few. It is to the praise of Davenport that such an institution has been provided for friendless women and girls, and that it is so well and carefully conducted.
The growth of Davenport has been mainly since 1850. Surrounded by a beautiful and fertile country, it affords good sanitary conditions and every facility for the development of industry of many kinds. The present population is about 25,000.
Rock Island Arsenal lies to the north of Rock Island City, the latter not being situated on the Island, as might be supposed by the untraveled reader from its name. The Island proper has been appropriated by the United States Government since 1804, though unoccupied until 1812, on the breaking out of the war with Great Britain. A fort was erected here in 1816, and named Fort Armstrong, in honor of the then Secretary of War. It was garrisoned by United States troops until May, 1836, when it was evacuated. In
2591840, the Government established here an ordnance depot, but in 1845, the stores were removed to the Saint Louis Arsenal. In 1862, an Act of Congress converted the Island into an arsenal for the National Government, and such it remains to this day. General Thomas J. Rodman, the inventor of the Rodman gun, was appointed to the command of the Arsenal in June, 1865, and continued in command until his death in 1871. In March, 1869, Congress appropriated $500,000 for the construction of a bridge across the Mississippi, uniting the Island with the city of Davenport, immediately opposite. General Rodman was succeeded in June, 1871, by Colonel D. W. Flagler, of the Ordnance Corps. This officer, since his appointment, has effected great improvements on the Island, having converted it into a strong military post — in fact, the strongest on the Mississippi. He has erected substantial quarters for the commander and his subordinate officers, soldiers' barracks, a complete system of sewerage, a bridge, connecting the Island with the city of Moline; roads, streets and avenues across the Island; a water-power wall, powder-magazine, pump-house, and has introduced the manufacture of stores for the army and machinery for the various shops in which the material of war is extensively fabricated.
Rock Island Arsenal is united with the Iowa side of the river, as before stated, by a well-constructed and handsome bridge, 1,550 feet long; and with the Illinois side by two bridges, one leading to Rock Island City and the other to Moline. The one spanning the Mississippi on the north of the Island is a most durable structure, and is said to be one of the finest in the United States.
White settlers appear to have first located in the vicinity of Rock Island about the year 1828. In the spring of that year there were only nine men and their families on the site of the present city of Rock Island. About this time the Indians of the Sac tribe, of whom Black Hawk was the recognized chief, were in the habit of leaving their villages on the Island and its vicinity for several months on hunting expeditions, and the white settlers took advantage of this absence to move in and take possession. This gave rise to much discontent and hostility on the part of Black Hawk and his people when they returned to their homes; and as the number of settlers increased, the animosity of the Indians became stronger. The commanding officer on the Island and the Indian agent, Colonel George Davenport, frequently urged the Indians to give up their villages and lands and move across to the west side of the Mississippi, in accordance with a treaty they had entered into with the United States Government; but Black Hawk refused to go. Keokuk, the chief of the Fox tribe, in compliance with the treaty, moved to the Iowa side of the river and established himself there. From 1828 to 1831, the white settlers on the main land in the vicinity of Rock Island rapidly increased in number. The lands were surveyed and sold to the settlers by the United States Government, but Black Hawk and his party of Sacs, which numbered about five hundred warriors, still occupied their villages and refused to leave. The settlers frequently complained of depredations by the Indians, and in the spring of 1831 Black Hawk warned the white men that they must leave. It was feared that some neighboring tribes of Indians, the
261Kickapoos, Pottawatomies and Winnebagos, would join Black Hawk in an attack on the settlers. The latter sent petitions to the military authorities at Rock Island and Saint Louis and to the Governor of Illinois, and in this way commenced what is known as the Black Hawk War.
Governor Reynolds, of Illinois, in response to the repeated complaints of the settlers, assembled about sixteen hundred mounted volunteers at Beardstown, ninety miles from Rock Island, and marched them to the Island. General Gaines, who was stationed at Saint Louis, proceeded at once to Rock Island with the Sixth United States Infantry. The settlers were all ordered to move to the Island, and the General sent for Black Hawk for a talk. General Gaines, the officers of the Sixth Regiment, the officers of the Island garrison, and the settlers, met in the Council House. Black Hawk, accompanied by about one hundred warriors in their war-paint, drew near, and when within about one hundred yards of the place of assembly commenced shouting in a very loud and intimidating voice. It was thought, from the shouting and the manner of the Indians, that there would be an attempt made at a general massacre. A man called "The Prophet," who always accompanied Black Hawk, commenced shouting in the Council House in a very boisterous manner, gesticulating and speaking rapidly as though he was very angry and desired to excite the warriors to an attack. General Gaines spoke to Black Hawk quietly of the sale of their lands to the United States Government. The Indians said the lands had never been sold. General Gaines then called for the reading of the treaty, which seemed to enrage them
262still more. Black Hawk exclaimed, "The white people speak from a paper, but," striking his hand upon his breast, "the Indian always speaks from the heart." He said their lands had not been sold, as the men who signed the treaty had no authority to sell, having been sent to meet the Government chiefs at Saint Louis on other business. And if it was sold, they got nothing for it. The General then pressed for an answer about his leaving for the territory assigned him and his people on the west side of the Mississippi. He replied, that he would not leave, and he would not fight, but if the whites came to drive him off, he would sit down in his wigwam and they might do as they pleased with him; for himself he would do nothing. General Gaines interpreted this to mean that he would fight.
On the evening of June nineteenth, 1831, General Gaines' command was joined by General Reynolds with his volunteer troops near the mouth of Rock River, and the next morning the combined forces moved upon the Indian village. They found, however, that Black Hawk and all his people had left. They had crossed the Mississippi and camped about twelve miles below Rock Island. June thirtieth, Black Hawk came to the Island with twenty-seven of his warriors and signed a treaty of peace with General Gaines and the governor of Illinois, the latter acting in behalf of the Government. In this treaty, Black Hawk pledged himself not to return to the east side of the river near the Island, or to engage again in hostilities with the white settlers. The Illinois volunteers were then disbanded and went home, and provisions were distributed to the Indians by General Gaines.
During the following winter, it became evident that Black Hawk would not keep the treaty which he had signed only a few months before; and in the following April (1832) he crossed the Mississippi at Burlington and moved up the bank of the river with about five hundred warriors and his women and children, with the intention of driving out the settlers and reoccupying his old village on the Island. He expected assistance from the Winnebagos and other Indians on Rock River. The news of Black Hawk's movements soon reached Saint Louis, and Colonel Atkinson left that city with the First Infantry for Rock Island. Lieutenant-Colonel Zachary Taylor, afterwards President of the United States, was in command, and Lieutenant Jefferson Davis, afterwards President of the Confederate States, was attached to the First Regiment, and served through the campaign. Governor Reynolds, of Illinois, assembled about two thousand volunteers at Beardstown and marched to Yellow Banks, fifty miles below Rock Island. Then he moved to the mouth of Rock River, where he was joined by Colonel Atkinson and the regulars. The volunteers were commanded by General Whiteside; and Abraham Lincoln, afterwards President of the United States, held the rank of captain in the command and fought throughout the campaign. The Indians had gone up Rock River until they were opposite Rock Island. Then Black Hawk sent his women and children up the river in canoes, and he and his warriors ventured a bold attempt to capture Fort Armstrong on the Island. At this time the garrison mustered less than eighty fighting men. Black Hawk crossed to the Island with his warriors by night, a distance of five miles through
264the woods and over the bluffs to the west side. A violent snow-storm prevented an attack that night, and before morning Colonel Atkinson arrived with the First Infantry and probably saved the small garrison from massacre.
The Indians withdrew during the night and followed their women up Rock River. Colonel Atkinson at once joined General Whiteside and his volunteers and started in pursuit. After much hard fighting in the months of May, June, July and August, nearly the whole of Black Hawk's band was destroyed, and Black Hawk himself, his son Seoskuk and other chiefs, were captured and conveyed to Rock Island. They were afterwards taken to Washington and other eastern cities. The Government took much pains to secure for Black Hawk a kind reception by the Indians upon his return from his "eastern tour;" and the accounts of the meeting between him and the chiefs at Rock Island are very affecting. Black Hawk then established himself, with a remnant of his own tribe, on Des Moines River, in Iowa, where he died in 1838.
Tradition states that the Sacs and Foxes came from the vicinity of Montreal, Canada, before the year 1700; and that they had lived in their villages on or near Rock Island fully one hundred and fifty years. Their affection for these villages was like that of the Israelites for their city of Jerusalem. At the close of the Black Hawk War, there is no record of further hostilities with the Indians at Rock Island.
During the late Civil War, the Island was made available by the Government as a military prison, upwards of twelve thousand Confederate prisoners having been confined here. Of these, one thousand nine
265hundred and sixty-one died during their imprisonment and were buried on the Island. About four hundred Union soldiers were also buried here, and on each recurring Decoration Day, the graves are strewn with flowers.
There is little more to be said of the Island except that it rests upon a substantial foundation of rock of the limestone order and hence its name. The length of the Island is two and three-quarter miles, and its width varies from a quarter to three-quarters of a mile. A very pleasant day may be passed in wandering over this island, which seems intended to become the arsenal for the entire Mississippi Valley. When the works are completed, if crowded to its full capacity, it will arm, equip and supply an army of seven hundred and fifty thousand men — so it is estimated.
Surrounded with the paraphernalia of grim war, Commandant Flagler has found time and opportunity for the cultivation of the science of ornithology, and has converted his island-fortress into an immense aviary! Here are to be seen, flitting about the dense foliage of the woodlands, almost every variety of American bird — nearly all song-birds, which build their nests and raise their broods on the Island unmolested. It is a singular adjunct to an arsenal and reflects credit on the taste and refinement of its gallant commander. The colonel wages war without quarter on the English sparrow, however, which he will not allow to alight and rest its little wings on his preserves on pain of summary execution by the shot-gun, without even a preliminary trial by court-martial.
The city of Rock Island is situated on the main land at the extremity of Rock Island Arsenal, on the
266Illinois or left bank of the river. On its eastern side are some very picturesque bluffs, stretching away to the sheltered valley of the Rock River, and including scenery of unrivaled beauty. Comfortable residences dot the sides of these hills, amid clumps of trees and miniature forests that afford shelter and shade to the well-to-do residents. Rock Island is about midway between Saint Louis and Saint Paul, and immediately opposite the more populous city of Davenport, Iowa. It is, as already stated, connected with the latter city by an elegant and substantial iron bridge, owned by the Government and open to the public free of toll. The famous water-power produced by the lower rapids has contributed largely to the marvelous growth of this city as well as of Moline, the city of factories, within an easy walk or horse-car ride of Rock Island City. Here is to be the terminus of the projected Hennepin Canal, by which it is proposed to solve the problem of cheap transportation between the Atlantic Ocean and the Mississippi, through the intervening great lakes. Recently a deep interest has been manifested in the construction of this canal, the accomplishment of which will doubtless be of vast benefit to the people of the North-west, as well as to the public generally.
In Rock Island City we found numerous flourishing establishments for the manufacture of plows, cultivators and other agricultural appliances; of wagons and carriages, together with foundries and machine-shops. At night the streets are brilliant with the Brush electric lights; the side-walks are well paved and clean, and generally in a much better condition for pedestrians than those of the sister city of Davenport,
267across the river. Rock Island has a well-organized police force; a fire department, water-works, street cars, and a flourishing Public Library; free postal delivery, churches, public schools, and a commerce and trade second to no city of its size in the Union. In the interest of the growth of a city the transportation problem is, perhaps, the most important question for the consideration of the citizens, and Rock Island is very favorably situated in this respect, owing to her position as the centre of a system of railroads. Several lines pass through here and give the city a busy aspect at all times. It is on the line of the great transcontinental highway. The Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad, passing through Rock Island, connects the eastern trunk lines with the Union Pacific at Omaha; and here also are depots of the Chicago, Milwaukee and Saint Paul; the Chicago and Northwestern; the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy; the Rock Island and Peoria, and the Rock Island and Mercer County railways. The population of this enterprising little city is at present about 16,000. The private residences have a neat and thrifty appearance, while some afford evidence of the wealth and taste of their owners. The shrubbery and flowers which cluster about the doorways of even the humblest residences are indications of the comfort and thriving condition of the tenants.
Three miles inland from Rock Island City is situated a very picturesque and romantic resort, which is frequented by the inhabitants of both sides of the river at this point, the traditionary name of which is Black Hawk's Watch-Tower. The tower is of nature's architecture, and is the summit of the highest hill overlooking
268Rock River, an important tributary, from which a most extensive and pleasing picture of the surrounding country is obtained. The look-out derives its fanciful name from its having been used by Black Hawk as a point from which he could survey his country for many miles round and the valley of the great, winding river. It is said to have been selected by the chief's father, and overlooked the tribe's first village near the banks of Rock River. Black Hawk in the account he gave to Antoine Le Claire, in 1833, says: "The Tower was my favorite resort and was often visited by me alone, where I could sit and smoke my pipe and look with wonder and pleasure at the grand scenes that were presented, even across the mighty river. On one occasion a Frenchman, who had been resting in our village, brought his violin with him to the Tower, to play and dance for the amusement of my people who had assembled there, and, while dancing with his back to the cliff, accidentally fell over it and was killed. The Indians say that at the same time of the year soft strains of the violin can be heard near the spot." He further relates that "in the year 1827 a young Sioux Indian, who was lost in a violent snowstorm, found his way into a camp of the Sacs, and while there fell in love with a beautiful maiden. On leaving for his own country he promised to return in the summer and claim his bride. He did so, secreting himself in the woods until he met the object of his affection. A heavy thunder-storm was coming on at the time, and the lovers took shelter under a rocky cliff on the south side of the Tower. Soon a loud peal of thunder was heard: the cliff was rent into a thousand pieces and they were buried beneath them. This, their
271unexpected tomb," says Black Hawk, "still remains undistributed." The "Tower" is much admired, and the street-cars of Rock Island convey many hundreds of visitors to its summit in the spring, summer and autumn, where they pic-nic for the day and enjoy, with the pure, healthful breezes, a most sublime view of the country for many miles. The property is owned by the Davenport family and is made freely accessible to all.
Chapter XXII. — Davenport to Burlington.
September 25, 1881.
WE found an extended field for observation at Davenport, Rock Island and their environs, and would gladly have spent many more days in this delightful locality; but to keep in advance of the cold weather, which was now following us down the river with rapid strides, it was deemed prudent to press forward with all possible despatch. In consequence of this decision the lecture programme was abandoned and short halts contemplated in the cities and towns lying along our route.
Greatly refreshed by our four days on shore, we resolved to make an early start on the morning of the twenty-fifth, and at seven o'clock were in our canoe. Colonel Russell was at the landing, and after returning my "Mississippi Album," which had been left with him the previous evening, pushed us out into the stream with best wishes for a prosperous voyage.
On opening the album the following lines were found inscribed in the colonel's familiar hand
"DAVENPORT, on the Mississippi,
September 25, 1881.
"MY DEAR CAPTAIN:
Adown this mighty stream;
May heaven guard thy progress still,
And grant fulfilment of your dream!"
We echoed the sentiment of the last two lines thenceforth to the end of our voyage.
A vigorous use of our paddles for an hour and a half brought us to Buffalo, a small village on the right bank, ten miles below Davenport. After dinner at Buffalo we resumed our journey with Muscatine as the evening destination, which city was reached at five o'clock. We now began to regard ourselves as something more than amateurs in canoe navigation, as the distance covered from day to day will convince the reader that we were not lacking in propelling force.
Muscatine, on the west bank of the Mississippi, is built on a rocky bluff, the scenery from which in all directions is very charming to the lover of nature. The city is situated at the apex of the Great Bend, thirty miles below Davenport and three hundred and seventeen miles above Saint Louis by rail. The Muscatine division of the Burlington, Cedar Rapids and Minnesota, and the south-western branch of the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific railways have their stations here. It is the shipping-point of an extensive and fertile surrounding country, while widely extended beds of coal and quarries of freestone and limestone
274are in the neighborhood. Its lumber business is large and increasing, and barley, corn, oats, rye, wheat, wool, butter and pork are produced on the rich farms adjoining. It supports two large pork-packing establishments and three extensive saw-mills, and has a gasworks, four banking houses, good public schools, a Catholic school, a fine public library, five newspapers, a monthly periodical, and fifteen churches. Muscatine was first settled in 1836, and was incorporated as a city in 1853; and if the public spirit displayed by her capitalists is any indication of future prosperity, I conclude that they will not be disappointed. The population now reaches over ten thousand.
Near Mouth of Iowa River,
Learning that this day, which had been appointed for the funeral of the late President Garfield, would be observed at Muscatine with befitting ceremonies, we remained in that city until three o'clock in the afternoon, in the meantime listening to an eloquent oration upon the life and public services of the eminent soldier and illustrious statesman whose brilliant career had been so suddenly closed by the hand of the assassin.
It was some time since we had enjoyed the hospitalities of the farmers, but we had, nevertheless, not forgotten that many of the pleasantest evenings of our journey had been spent in the farm-houses of Minnesota. We were now desirous of testing the courtesies and accommodations of the Iowa grangers, and also
275of picking up some information concerning their social and industrial progress.
It was fortunate, perhaps, that circumstances brought to the farm of John Warren Walton, a pioneer of Louisa County, an intelligent and affable gentleman. We wandered over Mr. Walton's farm, and, looking to the westward from an elevated position, our eyes rested upon the beautiful groves and running streams, and we wondered not that Keokuk and Black Hawk clung with such tenacity to their ancestral hunting-grounds.
The Iowa River passes diagonally through this section of Iowa to its confluence with the Mississippi. Its banks are heavily timbered, and the farmer finds his highest hopes realized in the natural resources of his possessions. In this county, but a few miles from the Walton farm, is the small village of Florence, which lives in history as the home of Black Hawk. Here repose the bones of his ancestors, while the renowned chief "sleeps his last sleep" in a distant part of the State. Our evening with the Waltons was occupied chiefly in looking over a large number of Indian relics which had been carefully preserved and classified by our agreeable host. It was one of the finest private collections we had ever examined.
"Weighed anchor" at seven o'clock. Our attention had been drawn to so many objects of interest in our route to Burlington that we clearly saw the necessity
276of an early start. Weather pleasant and but little wind.
We ran down to Keithsburg for dinner. This is a small village of Mercer County, Illinois, thirty-five miles below Muscatine, and sixty-eight south-west of Chicago. It has a national bank, a graded public school, and a weekly paper. Population about one thousand.
So genial were wind and weather during our sixty-sixth day that we were registered at the Barrett House, Burlington, at five o'clock, having covered forty-four miles since pushing off at the mouth of the Iowa in the morning.
I had hardly reached my room at the hotel when my daughter, Alice, now a girl of twelve years, came bounding up the stairs to meet me. She had been looking for us all the afternoon, but we had dropped into Burlington so quietly that very few were aware of our arrival until we were registered at the "Barrett." I had placed her at a private school here before starting on my expedition.
After tea the card of a representative of the Hawk-eye was handed me, followed a moment later by the sender, Mr. J. E. Calkins, who politely solicited for his paper the fullest particulars of our explorations and discoveries in Northern Minnesota. This information we, of course, readily furnished, and the following day the readers of the Hawkeye were presented with a narrative of the discovery of the source of the Mississippi, and a brief outline of our voyage down the river.
Julian Dubuque, a French-Canadian, was the first pioneer, as has been previously stated, who found his
277way to what now constitutes the State of Iowa. At this period, 1778, the country about Burlington was claimed by France, and that government granted to the intrepid pioneer a large tract of land which included the site of the now flourishing city of Dubuque. His purpose was, like that of most of the earliest pioneers, to trade with the Indians for their furs, and his death occurred in 1810.
In 1833, the first American settlers arrived here, after the Black Hawk Indians had ceded their lands by treaty to the United States. These settlers came mostly from Illinois and located on the spot then called "The Flint Hills," on which the city of Burlington now stands. Not a single mark of civilization greeted these early settlers, if we except the trading-post of Julian Dubuque's successor, on the present site of the city named after him. The Mississippi was the western limit of civilization, but the land of promise lay beyond. Unbroken forests swept from the heights of Flint Hills down to the river's edge, with here and there the solitary wigwam of an Indian who yet lingered on the spot he had bartered away to the white man.
The city of Burlington, on the right bank of the Mississippi, is five hundred and thirty-six miles below Saint Paul, and two hundred and fifty above Saint Louis. Along the bank of the river and the valley of Hawkeye creek, the land is low, but back of this the site of the city is hilly to the height of two hundred feet, to the level of the prairie which stretches away to the west. The first settler on the site of Burlington was Samuel S. White, who built his cabin on what is now Front street, just below the lots on which the Sunderland
278mills stand. White's brother-in-law, Doolittle, and others, joined him in 1834, and together they laid out the original town. John Grey, a Vermonter, a friend of White, gave the name of "Burlington" to the prospective town, in honor of the city of that name in his native State. The future Burlington comprised then only a few log-cabins, and the first frame houses were erected by White and Doolittle in 1834. In this year the first store was opened by Dr. Samuel S. Ross. The first brick house was built by Judge David Rorer, in 1836.
In 1837, the population of the embryo city numbered three hundred, and in February, 1838, Burlington was incorporated. On the twenty-eighth of December, 1846, Iowa was admitted into the Union and John Lucas elected its first governor. Zion Church was used as a place of worship and State-house from the installation of the territorial government, in 1838, until the removal of the State capital to Iowa City. It stood on Third street, between Washington and Columbia streets, on the spot where now stands the magnificent Opera House, the pride of the Orchard City. "Old Zion" is no more.
Burlington's first school-house was erected in the year 1835; and its first saw-mill in 1837. Dr. Ross and Miss Matilda Morgan were the parties to the first wedding in 1833. The license and the preacher were obtained from Monmouth, Illinois, there being no territorial government at this time, and therefore no authority to perform the marriage ceremony on the west side of the river. The bridal company crossed in a scow and the knot was tied as they stood on the eastern bank, after which the guests returned to make merry
279at the wedding dinner. From a population of three hundred in 1837, Burlington leaped to one of twenty thousand in 1880, an interval of only forty-three years, and at the present date (1885) it numbers at least twenty-eight thousand inhabitants. A considerable proportion of these are of German birth or descent, many of whom are among its most substantial and enterprising citizens.
Burlington is a city of the first-class, with a mayor and aldermen, a well-organized police force, fire department, water-works, gas, street-cars, a fine public library, churches, public schools, two colleges, one of the best opera-houses in the West, a splendid boat-club house, and commerce, trade and manufactures of a character to warrant the belief of her citizens that in a few more years she will rank among the first of western cities. The private residences are exceedingly attractive in appearance, and nothing could be more beautiful than the view from those on the summit of Prospect Hill. Most of them are owned by their occupants, which accounts for their neat and thrifty style and surroundings. The little park on North Hill is a delightful resort in the summer, with its fountain and walks and seats under the shade of the maples and elms. North of the Catholic Cemetery is Black Hawk Amphitheatre, with a great granite boulder in its centre. Here, tradition says, the Sacs and Foxes assembled in council and determined the question of peace or war. The granite boulder was the rostrum from which Black Hawk appealed to his people when they rallied for the final struggle with the white man.
The city of Burlington is favorably situated in the important matter of transportation facilities. With
280nine lines of railway radiating to all points of the compass she connects with Chicago, Cleveland, Cincinnati, and the South-east; with Saint Paul, Minneapolis and the North-west; and with Missouri, Nebraska, Kansas, Colorado and Texas. She thus enjoys every advantage for developing her trade. The Mississippi also plays an important part as a means of transportation, large amounts of merchandise being brought here for distribution. The levee is a very fine one, embracing a quarter of a mile of solid paved roadway, with a gradual slope, making the landing easy of access. The quantity of freight received and shipped by river is said to be rapidly increasing. Large amounts of lumber from up-river are received and landed at Burlington to be stored in the yards to dry, after which it is shipped by railway to various points in Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, and Nebraska. The amount of lumber shipped from Burlington is a large item in her general trade. The smokestacks of the manufactories are seen in all parts of the city. The Murray Iron Works are large and substantial buildings. The Burlington Plow Company, Wolfe's Furniture Factory, the Buffington Wheel Works, and many others, are fully up to the times in the character and amount of their products.
The Opera House is a credit and an ornament to the city and is one of the finest constructed theatres in the West. It was opened in 1882, and cost one hundred thousand dollars. The Burlington Boat-club has been an important factor in promoting the improvement of the city. Its primary objects were to build and maintain a boat-house, purchase boats and promote the art of rowing with a view to the improvement
281of its members in manly exercise. But they have accomplished far more, and to them the city owes, in a great measure, the erection of its beautiful opera-house. They have a very handsome club-house which ornaments the river approach to the city, and the members, besides extending their fame from Lake Minnetonka to Creve Cour Lake, have participated with honors in the regatta of the National Rowing Association at Washington. A large percentage of the muscle and blood of Burlington are numbered among its members, who are noted for their skill in aquatic contests and regattas occurring in the Mississippi Valley.
A splendid iron bridge crosses the river at this point, built by the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad Company. It consists of nine spans and is about two thousand two hundred feet in length. There is also a commodious steam-ferry crossing the river to Henderson, which is considered one of the finest on the Mississippi. The Public Library occupies pleasant and well-arranged rooms on the north-west corner of Fourth and Jefferson streets. It has about seven thousand volumes on its shelves, which have cost over ten thousand dollars. The library originated in a liberal gift of five thousand dollars by the Hon. James W. Grimes.
The educational interests of Burlington appear to have been carefully fostered, as evidenced by the public schools, the denominational schools, private schools, colleges and academies. The high-school building is a model of its kind. Burlington College, at the head of College Street, is surrounded by ample and ornamented grounds, and is a select boarding and day school for young ladies and gentlemen. The Academy
282of Our Lady of Lourdes, on the corner of Fourth and Court streets, has a handsome building and accommodates about one hundred and twenty pupils. Several other public and private schools flourish here, and the poorest citizen can secure a good education for his children.
The press of Burlington through one of its members, has carried the name and fame of this city into the remotest corner of America; and across the ocean, on the news-stands of London, Liverpool, Manchester, Birmingham and Glasgow, it is found, and has given the city of its birth and growth a cosmopolitan character which it will probably never lose. Esto perptua, "The Burlington Hawkeye!" May thy witty and instructive pages continue to delight our descendants as they have instructed and delighted us.
Chapter XXIII. — Burlington to Quincy.
At Montrose, Iowa,
September 28, 1881.
PAPA, wont you let me get into the canoe and go a little way with you and Mr. Paine this morning?" These were the words that greeted my ears as we were about to re-embark at Burlington. It had never occurred to us that any one, large or small, would covet the position of third person in the very limited space at our command, for the good reason that a casual glance forbade such a venture; but Alice being persistent in her request to try it, we lifted her into the canoe and pushed off. Finding that our staunch little craft was not overburdened, we headed down stream, and were soon making good progress towards Dallas, our noonday objective. The only other incident of the morning was our first adventure with a sand-bar. It would hardly appear that a boat so slight as to draw but five inches of water could be brought to a stand by such an obstruction, but such was the case, much to our chagrin and the great amusement of the passengers and crews of the
284passing river steamers. The explanation is brief. A strong current throws the canoe or skiff upon the bar, and the voyager, not wishing to risk a wetting by stepping out of his boat and pushing or pulling her off the bar, continues to use his paddle or oar aided by the current, which, instead of helping him out of his difficulty, only renders his escape all the more impossible. After considerable moralizing and many experiments with our paddles, which did not materially improve the situation, captain and crew pulled off their boots and stepping out on the bar, carried the canoe and its solitary passenger into water of sufficient depth to float it. This occurrence on the sand-bar had no attractions for Paine or myself, but was greatly enjoyed by Alice, who exclaimed: "Oh, I am so glad, papa, for now I can remain with you so much the longer."
Dallas was reached in season for dinner. This town is in Hancock County, Illinois, fifteen miles below Burlington on the opposite shore. It has a weekly paper, two banks and several factories. Population something over eight hundred.
While at Dallas we were introduced to Dr. J. M. Lionberger and Mr. Benoni Mendenhall, who seemed to find much pleasure in pointing out the attractions of their village. I was indebted to Dr. Lionberger for the assurance that he would assume the responsibility of safely returning my daughter to Burlington. Parting with her at this place was the most trying experience that fell to my lot during our long voyage. Her desire to remain with us; the affectionate solicitude expressed for me, and the reluctance with which she promised to return to school, were quite all I could bear.
During our journey from Dallas to Montrose we observed on both banks of the river many graceful slopes, swelling and sinking, as far as the eye could reach. In some instances dense forests still cover these slopes with timber of the finest quality, the oak prevailing. Again, they revel in their carpet of green, dotted here and there with clumps of trees that it would baffle the skill of the landscape gardener to imitate; now crowning the grassy heights, now clothing the green fields with partial or isolated shade.
The slopes and the rich alluvial bottoms that intervene furnish the sites for the numerous cities, towns and villages which stud the banks of the Father of Waters, like gems in this great sea of commerce.
From the hill-tops are seen cultivated meadows and rich pasture grounds, irrigated by numerous rivulets winding through fields of hay, fringed with flourishing willows. On the summit levels spread the rich farms of Iowa and Illinois, the long, undulating waves of the prairie stretching away until sky and meadow mingle in the wavy blue. Art, science and manufactures gather their busy multitudes here and take possession of these sylvan scenes. As we glide along in our voyage towards the sea the ear is greeted by
The engine's pant along its quivering rails,
The anvil's ring, the measured beat of flails,
The sweep of scythes, the reaper's whistled tune,
Answering the summons of the bells of noon;
The woodman's hail along the river shores,
The steamboat's signal, and the dip of oars."
Among the chief objects of a noteworthy character which especially arrested our attention in this day's
286journey were Nauvoo and the ruins of its Mormon Temple, which, on account of their peculiar history, claim more than a passing notice.
Nauvoo, the "City of Beauty," situated on the eastern bank of the Mississippi, about midway on the western boundary of the State of Illinois, has an eventful history. It is to-day a small village composed of a few houses at a short distance from the ruins of the once magnificent Mormon Temple. The village is located upon one of the most lovely sites on the river, the ground rising with a gentle slope to a wide plateau at the summit, which overlooks the river and opposite country for many miles. In 1840 the spot, where subsequently the town was built, became a refuge for the Mormons, who were fleeing from the persecutions of an angry mob. A branch of the Mormon community had early been located in Jackson County, Missouri. According to an alleged revelation given to Joseph Smith, their pseudo prophet, that locality was the very spot on which "Adam's altar was built, in the centre of the Garden of Eden!" They had not been, according to the report, wholly desirable citizens and neighbors, and the inhabitants at last expelled them. Zion fell into the hands of the Gentiles, and while some of the Mormons returned to Kirtland, Ohio, others settled in Clay County, Illinois.
For several years they remained in this county unmolested, and even made many converts. In 1837, the bank of Kirtland having failed, Smith, Rigdon and others joined the Missouri settlement. A spirit of insubordination had sprung up in this community. There were contentions among those within, and quarrels with those without, and for three years a general
287excitement prevailed in the State. The Mormons came into frequent collision with their Gentile neighbors, and many persons were killed. The "Saints" openly defied the people who were not of their belief, and, with zeal begotten of fanaticism, even threatened to march upon Saint Louis and lay it in ashes.
Rumors now circulated among the people generally regarding the immoral practices of the leaders. Polygamy had not yet become a recognized doctrine of their church, and was even expressly forbidden by the "Book of Mormon." Finally, the disfavor in which they were held by the unbelievers in their religion culminated, and in November the entire people of the Mormon settlement were compelled to flee for their lives towards the Mississippi. Young and old, the sick and infirm, helpless women and children as well as strong men, twelve thousand in number, exposed to cold and hunger and every privation, at last found a temporary resting-place upon the western bank of the Great River.
The people of Illinois, on the opposite side, believing that the persecution was unjust to which the Mormons had been so ruthlessly subjected, extended help to them, and invited them to the shore of their State. Crossing the river, they pitched their tents upon a rich delta formed by the Des Moines and Mississippi rivers, and thus the town of Nauvoo was founded.
The believers soon built themselves rude log-huts, while they gave freely of their scant means for the erection of a temple, which was designed to excel in magnificence every other religious edifice in the world. This temple eventually cost them over five hundred thousand dollars, and was built of polished limestone.
It was one hundred and thirty feet long by eighty-eight wide; sixty-five feet to the cornice, and with a cupola one hundred and sixty-three feet in height. The weather-vane on the summit of the spire represented the figure of a prophet blowing a trumpet. An immense stone basin, supported by twelve colossal oxen, formed the baptistery, which was in the basement. The plan of the temple was revealed to Joseph Smith, according to his statement, and the corner-stone was laid on April sixth, 1841.
They were allowed to dwell in quiet in their new home; but to prepare for future contingencies, Smith organized a military corps, which he called the Nauvoo Legion, and of which he assumed command with the rank of lieutenant-general. On parade the prophet appeared at the head of his Legion, followed by half a dozen females on horseback, dressed in black velvet riding-habits, with long white plumes on their hats.
At Nauvoo was first given the alleged revelation concerning "spiritual wives," which finally culminated in open polygamy. This and other objectionable practices of the "Saints" fell under condemnation. The people of Illinois, like those of Missouri, felt scandalized. Smith attempted to check the rising storm by contradictions, denunciations and excommunications. But those who thus fell under his displeasure denounced him in turn. A newspaper was established at Nauvoo in acknowledged opposition to him, and charged him with all the crimes of which he had accused others. By his orders the paper was suppressed, the printing material destroyed, and the editors were compelled to flee for their lives. The latter entered complaint at Carthage for the violence done them, and
289warrants were issued for the arrest of Joseph Smith and his brother Hiram. The faithful rallied around their prophet and resisted the officers sent to serve the warrants. The city was fortified and the Legion slept under arms.
The governor of the State personally interfered and persuaded the Smiths to surrender, on the assurance that they should receive protection and justice. They were accordingly arrested and placed in Carthage jail. But a new charge was brought against them, that of treason against the Government, and it was rumored that through the connivance of the governor they were permitted to make their escape. The people became panic-stricken and vowed that "if law could not reach them, powder and shot should."
On the evening of the twenty-seventh of June, 1844, the jail of Carthage was forcibly entered by a mob, armed and disguised. Hiram Smith was shot dead in his cell, and Joseph was mortally wounded as he was attempting to leap from a window. Placing him against the wall of the jail, four muskets at once put an end to his life. The executioners were never identified.
Smith was at once magnified into a martyr, and his blood became the "seed of the church," which has increased in numbers from that day to this. Brigham Young was elected by the "College of Apostles," of which he was president, to succeed Smith as the head of their church, and the new chief promptly excommunicated Rigdon and others who had aspired to the position. Young moderated the vengeance of the Mormons, and peace seemed again to be about settling on community, when Rigdon and the other recreants
290spread reports of crime and debauchery at Nauvoo from one section of the country to the other. The smaller Mormon settlements, off-shoots of that at Nauvoo, were promptly attacked by armed mobs, and the same fate would doubtless have befallen the larger place had not a "special revelation" been received commanding the immediate departure of the Saints to the then remote West on the Missouri River near Council Bluffs.
In February, 1846, sixteen hundred men, women and children crossed the Mississippi on the ice, on foot and in ox-teams, for the new Land of Promise. Others followed them as soon as property could be disposed of and arrangements made. A command was, however, said to have been received from Heaven for them to remain for the completion and dedication of the Temple. But the mob became impatient and attacked the city. The Legion held it at bay while the Temple was completed and dedicated. The baptistery was festooned with flowers; the walls decorated with symbolic ornaments; lamps and torches glittered; prayers were uttered and chants were sung, and thus the dedication was completed.
In an hour afterwards the portal was closed and an inscription placed upon it: "The House of the Lord! Built by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Holiness to the Lord!" and the Saints were already making their way across the Mississippi. The last of the Mormons were, in September of the same year, driven from their homes at the point of the bayonet.
Thirty months after its consecration the Temple was destroyed by fire at midnight. It was afterwards
291partially restored, but in May, 1850, was cast into a heap of ruins by a tornado, which also laid the town low. The place fell into the hands of a colony of Icarian Socialists from Paris, under M. Cabet, who practised a sort of community life, but failed to attain that temporal prosperity which is not infrequently the result of such a system.
Thus concludes all that is of interest in the history of Nauvoo, though it is but the beginning of the history of the Mormons, who, driven from place to place, at last established themselves in the lap of the Rocky Mountains; a history full of romance and literally stranger than fiction, which has become interwoven with that of the Nation. So much of absorbing interest had been observed and commented upon at Dallas, Nauvoo and other points along the route from Burlington that we did not reach our evening destination until nearly eight o'clock. We were glad indeed to get out of the canoe and get into our hotel, where, after supper, I wrote up my log for the day, and gathered from the best authorities I could find some information concerning Montrose, which is claimed by many of its citizens to be the oldest town in the State.
It is on the west bank of the Mississippi, in Lee County, Iowa, forty miles south-east of Burlington, and twelve north of Keokuk. It is connected with Nauvoo by ferry, and is reported to have a population of a little less than a thousand. Its people are engaged largely in the preparation of lumber. The Chicago, Burlington, and Quincy Railroad runs through it and has a station here.
At Keokuk, Iowa,
"Look out for the Keokuk Rapids!" was the last injunction we received before leaving Montrose in the morning. In fact this had been our usual warning for several days whenever we appeared on shore, until we had come to think some terrible ordeal awaited us. So far, we had found but three of Nature's obstructions in the descent of the river, which we had overcome by having recourse to a portage; these, it will be remembered, were the Kak-a-bik-ons, a few miles below Lake Itasca, Pokegama Falls, below Lake Winnibegoshish, and the Falls of Saint Anthony. Some kindly disposed persons suggested that we should have the canoe carried down to Keokuk at the foot of the rapids on a wagon; while others advised a passage through the Government Ship Canal on the Iowa shore. Having run all the rapids of the Great River thus far, we were not inclined to make an exception of these if their descent was compatible with ordinary safety; and further, we did not care to be subjected to the inconvenience and delay of locking through the canal, or the seemingly unnecessary trouble and expense of a long portage. Inquiry at Montrose had elicited the following information: length of rapids, twelve miles; fall of water, twenty-four feet; occasional obstructions throughout entire length.
On reaching the head of the rapids we encountered what we had long since learned to anticipate almost regularly at ten o'clock in the morning, namely, a
293strong southerly wind, and in consequence a disturbed surface. So determined was the resistance offered by the wind that, instead of dashing down the rapids at "break-neck pace," as had been predicted by our friends, it was only by dint of a spirited use of our paddles that any perceptible progress was made in the canoe. There was greater danger of going to the bottom through the action of the waves than by contact with obstructions in the bed of the river. Paine, who used the double paddle, became so thoroughly exhausted that we were compelled to disembark about three miles above Keokuk. After resting half an hour we again pushed off, finding the elements still in possession. Another hour of persistent struggle against the high wind and a rough sea enabled us to reach the landing at Keokuk, between two and three o'clock, glad indeed to be out of range of the boisterous wind and rapids, which together fought us with such determination that we made but twelve miles in four hours of the hardest work that we had up to this point recorded.
The following tradition connected with the early history of the "Gate City" is generally accepted on the spot as true in outline if not in detail.
Dr. Samuel C. Miner, of the United States army, came to Warsaw, Illinois, in the year 1820, and built himself a log shanty on the corner of Main street and the levee. He soon found that it was "not good for man to be alone," and formed an attachment for the daughter of an Indian chief, which in these rude times, and the absence of church or legal functionaries, was unsanctioned by any marriage ceremony, except, we may presume, the primitive one of mutual consent. This woman bore him five children. But an order came
294at length from the War Department which suddenly dissolved the union by requiring all army officers and attaches to separate themselves from the Indian females with whom they were living in marital relations, and the doctor was removed to Puck-e-she-tuck, or "Foot of the Rapids," now known as Keokuk. Here he died of cholera in 1832, having been the first white resident of the future city. In the meantime the American Fur Company had established a trading-post, erecting several log-cabins on a spot now known by the euphonious title of "Rat Row," and large accessions to the settlement followed in a short time. The first, however, to settle here, after Dr. Miner, was Moses Stillwell and his family. Then the fur company and its employes came, after one of whom, Joshua Palean, a street in the city is named. The employes of the company all took Indian wives, and thereby rendered themselves very popular with the natives. The population grew rapidly, but the fur company, for reasons of its own, determined to remove. They were succeeded by Isaac R. Campbell and Samuel C. Muir, who occupied their buildings and continued their trade of supplying the Indians and whites with the necessaries of life. "Rat Row" at this period comprised nearly the whole of the settlement, and included hotel, church, court-house, grocery and saloon. Up to this time — 1835 — the settlement had been without a distinctive name, being known as "Foot of the Rapids," or its Indian equivalent, Puck-e-she-tuck. Finally, some steamboat men proposed to name it Keokuk, after the friendly chief of the Sacs, and this name was ultimately adopted.
In the spring of 1857 a village was laid out by
295Dr. Isaac Galland, agent of the New York Land Company, and was formally inaugurated and recorded as "Keokuk." In 1840 the main portion of Keokuk was a dense forest, and about a dozen log-cabins were sufficient for the settlers. In 1847 the census gave the population as six hundred and twenty. Keokuk was incorporated as a city in December of this year, and was governed by a mayor and aldermen. The first school was opened by a shoemaker, named Jesse Crayton, in 1833, who taught his few pupils and made shoes for the villagers, without detriment to his trade or his profession.
Keokuk is called the "Gate City," from its position at the foot of the rapids and near the mouth of the Des Moines River. It is situated about two hundred miles above Saint Louis, and is about the same distance from Chicago; stands on a high and commanding site and is surrounded by a very productive country. The population at present is about twenty-two thousand. As evidence of its good sanitary condition, the bluffs in its vicinity were known, it is said, among the Indians as the "Medicine Ground." The city possesses the requisites of a substantial prosperity, its location giving it many advantages. A fine iron bridge spans the Mississippi at this point, combining a railroad, wagon road and a foot bridge, which contributes, doubtless, to a considerable extent, to the trade of the city. Another substantial bridge crosses the Des Monies River, and adds largely to the business interests of Keokuk. The Government Canal is a grand work, by means of which the dangers arising from rocks and shoals in the rapids, that formerly interfered with navigation, are entirely obviated, and large vessels pass
296through in perfect safety on their way up and down the river. The cost of the canal to the Government was nearly four million dollars. The largest steamboats find ample room at Keokuk for loading and discharging freight and passengers. A great inducement to manufacturers to locate here is the valuable water-power created by the Des Moines rapids, and there can be little doubt that in due time this force will be taken advantage of and Keokuk become an important manufacturing centre.
One of the national cemeteries is located in this city. It is beautifully laid out and well kept, with marble headstones on which are inscribed the names of the soldiers who died during the Civil War in the Keokuk Government Hospital. Extensive waterworks and an effective fire-department have been provided since 1875. There are over ten miles of water-mains, and fifteen miles of macadamized streets, with good side-walks sheltered from the sun in summer by the foliage of countless shade-trees. The city contains a free public library with nine hundred volumes, for which a very handsome building has been provided. There are over twenty churches of all denominations, and eight school buildings with an enrolment of over two thousand pupils. There is also a well-appointed street railway, and a beautiful park has been opened for the exercise and recreation of the citizens. Another feature of Keokuk is an artesian well, throwing a barrel of water a minute, the exterior of which is highly ornamental.
The Buckeye Foundry and Machine-Shops were established here in 1849, and employ a considerable number of men in the manufacture of steam-engines,
297mill machinery, all kinds of castings, car-wheels, etc. A plow factory, also employing many hands, and a barb-wire factory, have been located here since 1875, and other manufactures are destined to follow in their wake.
The situation of Keokuk at the foot of the rapids has made her a port of considerable importance for steamboats, which carry large quantities of grain and other freight every season to Saint Louis and southern ports on the river. Steamers touch here daily, some bound through from Saint Paul, and others stopping at Keokuk to discharge and take on freight and passengers. The fair-grounds are located at a convenient distance from the city, are well inclosed and contain a fine-art hall, mechanical and agricultural halls, amphitheatre, dining-rooms and every convenience for the exhibition of stock. Seven railroads centre here, thus offering every facility for transport and travel.
Prominent among the educational institutions of the city is the College of Physicians and Surgeons, of the practical success of which the citizens have much to say. The building is a fine structure and occupies a central position in the city. The oldest daily newspaper in Keokuk, The Gate City, is an enterprising and wide-awake sheet. The daily Constitution, the leading Democratic organ, has a large and increasing circulation.
Keokuk, though small in comparison with some cities on the river, has broad thoroughfares, handsome and substantial buildings, occupies a beautiful locality, and her citizens are justly proud of the progress she has made since the day of Dr. Samuel C. Miner and his Indian princess.
At Gregory, Missouri,
Wind up stream, with occasional showers in the morning. Remained at Keokuk until four o'clock in the afternoon, when, finding the weather favorable, we floated down to the month of the Des Moines River. This is the largest river of Iowa, and is formed by the junction of two branches, known as the East and West Forks, which rise in a chain of small lakes in south-western Minnesota, and, flowing in a south-easterly direction, unite in Humboldt County, Iowa. From this junction it flows south-east, through the central portion of the State, to its confluence with the Mississippi, four miles below Keokuk. In its course of three hundred miles the Des Moines drains ten thousand square miles in Iowa, passing through an undulating, fertile region, interspersed with tracts of prairie, rich in coal and abounding in timber. Many flourishing towns have sprung up along its banks, among which is Des Moines, the capital of the State. The principal tributaries from the west are the North, Middle, South and Racoon rivers. The largest eastern branch is the Boone, which rises in Hancock County.
Our object in moving from Keokuk at so late an hour was not to insure better accommodations, but to sleep on the soil of Missouri, place another State at our backs, and subtract at least twelve miles from the balance of our seaward journey. We found nothing at Gregory worthy of attention except a supper, lodging and breakfast, if we omit numberless mud-holes, caused by overflows of the river.
We shook the mud of Gregory from our feet at eight o'clock in the morning, and stepping into the Alice started for Quincy. Weather warm and cloudy, with mercury at 85° in the shade. Met several streamers which were evidently on their way to points on the Upper Mississippi. A large flock of pelicans were seen a few miles below Gregory, presenting a wall of white as they stood in line on the beach a few hundred yards in advance of us. Paine fired at them with his revolver, but without apparent effect, except to frighten them away.
Went ashore at Canton, Missouri. This town is twenty-two miles below Keokuk, and one hundred and ninety-one above Saint Louis. It has a national bank, a weekly paper, several flour and lumber mills, and claims a population of between three and four thousand. On returning to the landing we found a large crowd admiring our canoe. One said: "Ain't she a daisy?" Another remarked: "I reckon that trick cost a heap of money!" A speculative bystander inquired: "How much will you take for her, colonel?" These were the first provincialisms we had noted since having the Chippewa country, and we were not a little amused by their oddity.
Dined at Lagrange, a pleasant village of Lewis County, Missouri, eight miles below Canton and twelve above Quincy. Here we found a college, a savings' bank and a weekly paper.
Quincy, the "Gem City" and the capital of Adams County, is situated on the east bank of the Mississippi. It stands on a limestone bluff, one hundred and twenty-five feet above the river, commanding a most picturesque view of the country for several miles, and has one of the best steamboat-landings to be found on the Mississippi. It is one hundred and sixty miles above Saint Louis, and ninety-five west of Springfield, the capital of the State.
Quincy saw the first white settler establish himself as a trader with the Indians in the year 1822. It was not long before others followed, and in 1825 a town was laid out, which in 1834 had attained sufficient growth and importance to be incorporated. It received its charter as a city in 1839, and now ranks in population as the second city in the State of Illinois. It is regularly laid out and well built, paved, watered and lighted; the business blocks being chiefly of brick, well designed and substantial. The city has an extensive river traffic; a splendid railroad bridge across the Mississippi; four well proportioned parks, providing convenient breathing-places for the citizens, who crowd them in the warm summer evenings; a fine fair-ground, covering about eighty acres; many elegant public and private edifices; numerous manufactories, employing about four thousand operatives, and producing annually $10,000,000 worth of goods. Lines of horse-cars traverse the leading thoroughfares. Many of the private residences are spacious, elegantly and tastefully planned, and surrounded by well-kept and very beautiful grounds. Quincy has thirty churches; four daily, one tri-weekly and seven weekly papers of different shades of politics. Two hospitals and three
301are among the benevolent institutions provided by the city for those in need of treatment. It has a medical college of great value to the people; several academies and seminaries, besides the public schools, which are nine in number, including a high school, a grammar school, and intermediate and primary departments; the number of pupils in these being about three thousand. A good city library is also provided for the intellectual enjoyment of the citizens. Two national and two other banks; a fine grain elevator, and a large business in pork-packing and ice-collecting; thirteen carriage and wagon manufactories; eight iron foundries; eleven brickyards and eleven flour-mills attest the commercial and manufacturing importance of the "Gem City;" which has also an efficient police force and a well-organized fire department. The present population of Quincy is estimated at over thirty thousand.
Chapter XXIV. — Quincy to Saint Louis.
October 2-4, 1881.
IT was the custom of the voyage to spend our Sundays in town, but having arranged to meet my wife at Hannibal we were again on the water at ten o'clock in the morning, and, at the end of three hours, had readied our destination, twenty miles below Quincy. At Hannibal we remained three days in the enjoyment of some approach to domestic comfort. The change was a welcome relief to both Paine and myself, and it was not without some reluctance we renewed our acquaintance with the Alice. This staunch little craft had, however, carried us thus far in safety, and, with confidence in her virtues begotten of experience, we again committed ourselves to her care.
Hannibal is a busy commercial city in Marion County, Missouri, on the west side of the river, one hundred and forty-four miles above Saint Louis. Its favorable position and extensive railroad connections have contributed largely to its rapid growth and prosperity, the latter being clearly indicated by the large
303number of fine residences on the surrounding slopes. The Mississippi is crossed here by a splendid iron bridge adapted for railroad, wagon and passenger travel. The city is rapidly increasing in extent and importance, and is the supply-point for large quantities of tobacco, pork, flour and other produce. The leading trade is in lumber with other parts of the State, as well as with Kansas and Texas, and it claims to be one of the most extensive lumber markets on the western bank of the Mississippi. The manufactories include iron foundries, car-shops, machine-shops, several large tobacco works, beef-curing establishments, saw-mills, flour-mills, and the lumber yards are fifteen in number. Coal and limestone abound in the vicinity, and the manufacture of lime is a prominent industry. It possesses a city hall, a Catholic seminary, several good public schools, including a high school, and daily and weekly newspapers. Hannibal College was established in 1868, under the auspices of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, and is in a flourishing condition. The present population is about fifteen thousand, and everything about the city wears the aspect of industrial prosperity.
I should fail to interest the reader were I to attempt a description of some of the villages and hamlets passed in the descent of the Mississippi. Many of these places do not possess even a local interest, and the eye soon wearies of the air of desolation and monotony that
304characterizes the majority of them. The guide-books dispose of these doubtful landmarks with a little dry detail, and rarely recommend the tourist to allot them the compliment of a passing notice.
One peculiarity, however, may be noted, and that is the ambition displayed by the pioneers of civilization in the West in naming villages and hamlets, which, with few exceptions, are still of little importance after the great cities of the Eastern States, and also of foreign lands. These names, which occupy such prominence on the maps, excite the curiosity of the traveler, and when the reality dawns upon him, and he scans their narrow limits, their commonplace architecture and usually unattractive surroundings, it has a depressing effect, and he wonders, after all, if there is anything in a name. We find upon the map the name and indication of a city, but it proves on acquaintance to be the most uninteresting of hamlets, though bearing so respectable a name as that of "Cincinnati."
CAP AU GRIS HOUSE,
Cap Au Gris,
Missouri, October Sixth.
We had resolved upon an early start from "Cincinnati," but from six to eight o'clock everything was enveloped in a dense fog, which gradually disappeared as the day advanced. At nine o'clock we pushed off and found the weather favorable, as is usually the case on the river after heavy fogs.
Disembarked at Clarksville, on the west or Missouri side, where we had an excellent dinner at a restaurant, and then walked through the town, which we discovered
305to be place of some enterprise. It is forty miles below Hannibal, and one hundred and two above Saint Louis. We noticed a bank, several flour-mills, and other factories.
Hamburg, Illinois, and Falmouth, Missouri, were seen, but from their appearance from the river we concluded they were great only in name.
It had been our aim to make a landing by seven o'clock, but becoming somewhat confused by a cluster of islands a few miles below Falmouth, knowing nothing of the river or country in our front, and moreover, completely enshrouded in darkness, we were, for nearly two hours, in a most unenviable position. To cap the climax, as we were passing the last island of the group, a large steamer was sighted coming up the river at a high rate of speed. This circumstance gave us considerable anxiety for a time, as we were unable to divine whether her course would be to the right or left of the island. Dropping the paddles across the canoe, we carefully watched the movements of this "midnight apparition," as she came tearing along unmindful of the peril to which she exposed two anxious canoeists but a few yards ahead of her. A flash of lightning revealed to us that our present adversary was none other than our old up-river acquaintance, the Gem City, presumably on her way to Saint Paul. It was a beautiful thing — this river giant with her red, green and electric lights — beautiful to look upon, though, under the circumstances of our relative positions, not particularly inspiriting to the captain and crew of the Alice, who were greatly relieved when they found themselves rocking in the wake of her huge sidewheels.
It was now after eight o'clock, and the thought
306uppermost in our minds was where we could effect a landing and secure lodging, for the current was so strong and the banks so steep and crumbling in this quarter as to render disembarking exceedingly precarious. At last a glimmering light was discovered, apparently at a farm-house on the west bank, which we straight-way attempted to reach, but making a miscalculation as to the strength of the current, which was very powerful, were carried a considerable distance below, striking the shore a few yards above another farm-house on the same side. Everything now seemed favorable, but it was only an illusion. On approaching the house we were met by a rough-looking man and two or three boys, accompanied by several dogs — the man armed with a shot-gun. Our sudden and unseasonable appearance on his premises had aroused suspicion, and we were bluntly told that he had no accommodation for "river tramps." We endeavored to explain, but to no purpose. It appeared that a party of highway-men had been captured some days previously on the islands opposite his farm, and this circumstance undoubtedly prompted him in repeating that he had no lodgings for strangers. Money was of course tendered, but refused. The only advantage gained from this interview was the cheering information that Cap Au Gris was fifteen miles below!
Returning to our canoe we pushed off, resolved upon another effort to pass the remainder of the night on shore. Soon a light was seen in a bend on the Illinois side; crossing the river, we found an easy landing and hastened up to farm-house "No. 3." Here we found more men and fewer dogs than on the Missouri side; but after some minutes' parley it became evident that
307our mission was fruitless, for the same reason apparently as that which had influenced bur Missouri friend, and we again returned reluctantly to our canoe, determined to keep a sharp look-out for Cap Au Gris, which, to our great joy, was reached a few minutes before twelve o'clock.
We will not say anything of Cap Au Gris that is likely to make its enlightened citizens feel uncomfortable. We were glad to reach its hospitable shores after several hours of peril and to receive a welcome at its leading "hotel." Let us simply say, therefore, that it stands on the banks of the mighty Mississippi. It is to be hoped it will always stand there. But it occurred to the writer — from the rapidity with which the river is now cutting down its banks — that its scattered remains will soon be found not far from the Gulf of Mexico.
Although we did not retire to our rooms at Cap Au Gris until after midnight, we had an early breakfast, for there was much to be seen and noted in our journey to Alton. The mouth of the Illinois River was passed between ten and eleven o'clock. We had very naturally looked forward to the confluence of this tributary with the Mississippi as one of the events in our voyage; for it was here, two hundred years ago, that the illustrious La Salle and his heroic followers first beheld the Great River, in which their highest hopes for New France were centred.
The Illinois, whose entire course is through the State of the same name, is formed by the junction of the Kankakee and Des Plaines rivers in Grundy County, about forty-five miles south-west of Lake Michigan. It passes Peoria, the most important city on its banks; Pekin, Havana, Beardstown, and Naples; and enters the Mississippi between Calhoun and Jersey counties, twenty miles above the mouth of the Missouri. It is about five hundred miles long, and is navigable for two hundred and forty-five. Water communication between the great lakes and the Mississippi is afforded by a canal, reaching from the mouth of the Vermilion, a tributary of the Illinois in La Salle County — where the latter is obstructed by rapids — to Chicago, a distance of ninety-six miles.
Here it may be stated that the name of this State was formerly bestowed upon all that vast tract of country which lies north and west of the Ohio, and was derived from the Illini, or Illinois, a tribe which possessed the country on the banks of the Illinois River. The name is said by Hennepin to signify a full-grown man. The first settlements within the present limits of the State were made by the French. La Salle set out from Canada on his adventurous enterprise in search of the Mississippi in the year 1680, in company with Father Hennepin, and descended the Illinois River from its source. He then returned to Canada, and in 1682 came back with a number of volunteers and founded the settlement of Kaskaskia — now included in Randolph County — and others. At the commencement of the eighteenth century these settlements are said to have been in a flourishing condition.
At the conclusion of hostilities between the French and English in 1763, the Illinois country, with and was ceded to the British Government. In 1778, during the Revolutionary War, the Virginia militia made an incursion through the Indian country, and subjugated Kaskaskia and other posts of the British on the Mississippi; and during the same year the Legislature of Virginia organized a county in this remote region, called "Illinois." This territory was afterwards ceded by Virginia to the United States. In 1800, it was included within the limits of Indiana Territory, and at that time the country that forms the present State of Illinois contained about three thousand inhabitants. After the year 1800, the population increased rapidly from immigration. In 1809 a territorial government was established, and the population the following year amounted to over twelve thousand. In 1818, Illinois was received into the Union as the twenty-second State.
Nature has given this great State immense advantages for inland navigation. On its northern borders it has, for some distance, the waters of Lake Michigan. On its north-west frontier, it has Rock River, a tributary of the Mississippi. On its whole western front it is washed by the Mississippi, and on its southern by the Ohio. On the east it is bounded by the Wabash. Through its centre winds, in one direction, the Illinois; and in another direction the Kaskaskia flows through the State; and such is the intersection of Illinois by its boatable streams, that no town in it is far from a point of river communication either with Lake Michigan, the Mississippi, the Ohio, or the Illinois. The Mississippi forms the western
310boundary of the State through its whole length from north to south, a distance, by the curvatures of the stream, of not far from six hundred miles.
From the mouth of the Illinois, whose waters seemed to make little impression on the majestic river on which we were floating, we paddled down to the city of Alton, a distance of twenty miles. Here we found convenient accommodation while writing up our notes of the journey.
In the year 1807, some Frenchmen from Saint Louis, erected a small building on this spot. They traded with the Indians, and the solitary building combined store, office and residence for these pioneers during several months of succeeding years, until, in 1817, the site was selected for a town, and named Alton. It is situated on the left bank of the Mississippi about twenty-four miles above Saint Louis. In 1870, the population of Alton comprised eight thousand eight hundred and sixty-five souls, and at present is about ten thousand. The city is long and narrow — its length along the river being nearly three miles and its average breadth only one mile and a half.
Alton is divided about its centre by a stream called Piasa Creek, which has its source in several springs within the city limits. This stream is arched over and is used as a main sewer.
The chief seats of business are found in the valley of this stream, and in the bottom lands along the Mississippi. Irregular bluffs, the highest being about two hundred and twenty-five feet above the river, raise their heads on each side of the valley, and give a picturesque appearance to the scenery. The city is built on the limestone rock, which is honeycombed with numerous
311caves, and along the banks of the river the rock forms perpendicular bluffs.
A rich fanning country surrounds Alton. Three railroads and the river connect it with all parts of the country, and manufactories of various kinds are abundant. Among these are iron-foundries, woolen-mills, flour-mills, glass-works, a castor-oil-mill, planing-mills, several lumber-yards and steam saw-mills, and agricultural implement factories. Lime and building stone of a very superior quality, are largely exported from Alton. A steam-ferry conveys passengers and freight to the opposite shore of the river. A large Roman Catholic Cathedral and several churches of the various denominations of Protestants are conspicuous objects throughout the city. The State Penitentiary, established here in 1827, was removed some years since to Joliet. The buildings are still in existence and were utilized during the Rebellion as a government prison of war.
Chapter XXV. — Three Days at Saint Louis.
SO much has been said by early and recent travelers concerning the turbulent character of the Missouri, the greatest tributary of the Father of Waters, that he who approaches its mouth for the first time in a frail skiff or canoe expects, if not well on his guard, to be sent whirling to the bottom — his effects mingling with the muddy current of the river. Imagine, therefore, our surprise, on reaching the confluence of these giants of running streams, to see them peacefully unite their mighty floods, creating scarcely a ripple on the surface! One cannot fail to be impressed with the majesty of the Mississippi as he observes the ease and grace with which she receives her numberless tributaries, many of them the most important rivers of North America. So quietly do some of these rivers enter the parent stream that the voyager might often pass their point of junction without realizing that a new accession had been made to the great body on which he is floating.
The Missouri, as we have said, is the largest and most important of the many tributaries of the Mississippi. It takes its rise in the Rocky Mountains, in
313Montana Territory, over three thousand miles from its mouth. The springs which give rise to the Missouri are less than a mile distant from the head-waters of the Columbia, which flows west into the Pacific Ocean. The Yellowstone River is probably the largest tributary of the Missouri, and enters it from the south-west. At its junction with the Missouri it is eight hundred yards wide. Steamboats ascend the Missouri to the Yellowstone, a distance of over eighteen hundred miles. The Great Falls of the Missouri are five hundred and twenty-one miles from its source. The river descends by a succession of rapids and falls three hundred and fifty-seven feet in about sixteen miles. The lower and greatest fall has a perpendicular pitch of eighty-seven feet. The principal tributaries, next to the Yellowstone, are the Little Missouri, Big Cheyenne, White Earth, Niobrara, Nebraska, Kansas and Osage, on the right; and the Milk, Dakota, Big Sioux, Little Sioux and Grand, on the left. These tributaries are each navigable from one hundred to eight hundred miles. The Missouri throughout the greater part of its course is a rapid and muddy stream. It is over half a mile wide at its mouth, and through the greater part of its course it is wider. In the winter it is frozen so hard as to be safely crossed by loaded wagons for a number of weeks.
Missouri was visited by Marquette and Joliet in 1673, and the first settlement was made at Saint Genevieve, twelve miles above Chester, in 1755. The territory was purchased by the United States from the French, in 1803, as a part of Louisiana. In 1821, Missouri was admitted into the Union as the twenty-fourth State. Early in the Civil War, Governor
314Jackson issued a proclamation declaring the State out of the Union. Major-General Freemont declared martial law throughout the State August thirty-first, 1861. In the early part of 1862, the Confederate troops held half of Missouri. The Missourians furnished 108,773 soldiers to the Federal side during the war.
We found the current of the Mississippi below the mouth of the Missouri much stronger than we had observed it to be since passing the Keokuk Rapids. Thus favored we made swift progress toward Saint Louis, touching the west bank in the vicinity of the Union Stock Yards, near the northern limits of the city at eleven o'clock. Here we dined at the Union Stock Yards' Hotel, afterward visiting the yards and talking with stock dealers. At three o'clock we were again in our canoe floating along the city front.
About a mile below the stock yards we were signaled from the shore and on pulling in discovered that a number of friends and acquaintances, together with several members of city boat-clubs, including the "Modocs," "Excelsiors," and "Westerns," had come up the river to escort us down to the club-rooms of the "Excelsiors," where we were surprised and gratified to learn that arrangements had been made to receive and entertain us.
It appeared that much interest had been awakened through the press of Saint Louis, which had followed us to the source of the Mississippi and back to our last launch at Alton. As we passed the shipping moored to the wharves, whistles were blown, and the crowds on shore voiced a hearty welcome and showed a kindly interest in our undertaking, which we had not looked for and which, for a time, quite bewildered us.
In reaching the "Excelsior" boat-house landing at the foot of Anna Street, we were met by representatives of the press, who were in pursuit of information bearing upon our voyage and purpose.
Desiring quiet, and an opportunity to see and study the varied industries of this great city, we avoided hotels, and sought the seclusion of a private residence, where we remained three days, and during this interval visited nearly every object of interest to the tourist.
Saint Louis is to-day the great metropolis of the Mississippi Valley, while its history takes us back to the early days of romance and discovery. Both Marquette and Joliet explored the Mississippi past the city's present site, and were followed by Hennepin and Dugay. La Salle in 1682 traversed the same route. In 1764, Pierre Auguste Laclede ascended the river from New Orleans and, being a merchant, established a trading-post on the site of the present city, and erected a few wooden huts near the present Old Market Square. From this point lead ore and wild game were shipped to New Orleans, and soon after, wheat, raised in Illinois, was added to the commerce. The furs were generally shipped to Canada and thence to Europe; and it required four years to make the returns.
In 1776, Pierre Laclede Lignest received a grant of land for the city of Saint Louis, so named in honor of King Louis XIV. of France. Saint Louis, in common with the rest of Louisiana, had passed under Spanish rule in 1769, the Spaniards having taken possession a year later. In 1780, the little frontier town was attacked by fifteen hundred Indians and forty British, and suffered severely at their hands. In 1785,
318the Mississippi rose to an unprecedented height and, sweeping over its banks, then unprotected by a levee, did great damage and threatened to destroy the town.
Up to the beginning of the present century, the inhabitants of this small city in the wilderness were principally French — a happy, careless people, who allowed the burdens to-day to sit as lightly as possible upon them, and troubled themselves little about those of to-morrow. Yet, situated as they were, many hundreds of miles from the civilization of both the East and the South, and surrounded by the hostile bands of Indians, sometimes with starvation staring them in the face, they endured incredible hardships and sufferings, the memory of which is still retained in the names of some of the older streets.
In 1790, Dr. Andrew Todd was authorized by the Spanish government to prosecute an extensive trade with the Indians of the Missouri River, and made his headquarters at Saint Louis. In 1803, Louisiana having been ceded to the United States, Saint Louis came under the control of this country. In 1808, the Missouri Fur Company was founded, with a capital of $40,000. One year later, John Jacob Astor and Company set out from Saint Louis on an expedition to the Pacific Ocean; and ten years later the company established a commercial house in the city, which was mainly the source of Astor's early wealth. The Missouri Fur Company having dissolved, another fur company was organized in 1819. In 1823, General Ashley entered from Saint Louis into the Indian trade of the Rocky Mountains, and discovered the famous South Pass to the Pacific. At the time of General Ashley the fur business was a very perilous
319one. Two-fifths of the men perished, some being drowned, others killed by hostile Indians, and still others devoured by white bears. Yet adventurous men were not lacking to take their chances in the pursuit. This branch of commerce, however, enriched the little town and gave her a prosperous foundation, upon which the fortuitous circumstances of the present century favored the building up of a great and prosperous city.
During the early period of her history, French was almost the only language spoken in Saint Louis, and the business men were Frenchmen. The farmers and boatmen were also French, and agriculture and navigation were carried on according to French systems. The inhabitants of the town cultivated, in common, a large field to the west of the city, which supplied them with wheat and corn for bread. They had also numerous and excellent stock. In 1807, Saint Louis was as much a French village in population and general appearance as though located in France. The following is a description of the dress of the people given by a historian
"The dress of the people, male and female, was foreign to an American. The voyageurs, courieurs du bois, and the farmers, scarcely ever wore a hat, but tied around their heads a cotton handkerchief. The white blanket-coat was the general wear in winter, and in summer a cotton white shirt, or red woolen one, was about all the garment the masses wore, except pantaloons of buckskin in the winter, and colored cotton in the summer. In the cold weather the masses generally wore moccasins on their feet, and in summer they used the same on their bare feet. It was common for the males to wear a belt around them, winter and summer,
wherein was fastened a pouch, generally made of seal-skin with the hair on, containing tobacco, a pipe, and a flint and steel; so that they could enjoy the genial luxury of smoking at any place or time. This habit was almost universal in olden times with the French male population. In the belt was also suspended a butcher-knife, and often a small hatchet. Thus equipped, a Frenchman, with a clay pipe in his mouth, was prepared for the Rocky Mountains, or a hunt in the neighborhood for raccoons and opossums."
The merchants and wealthy classes dressed well, and deported themselves like gentlemen. The women were always dressed neatly and tastefully, and paid careful attention to their appearance. They did not labor in the fields.
The dwellings were built after French models, and barns stood thick on the present Third street. These barns were very simply built by planting cedar posts in the ground, filling up the intervals with puncheons of split cottonwood, and thatching the roofs. In these barns were stowed away the wheat from the common field, and hay cut from the prairie.
Small round towers constructed of sods, extended quite around the town, and were the remains of fortifications erected during the Spanish dominion to defend it against the English and the Indians. A bluff of perpendicular rock, twenty or thirty feet high, extended from the foot of Chestnut Street up the river bank and was not removed until a considerably later period. The first ferry, which was established in 1796, was composed of rude canoes, known as dug-outs. When horses and wagons crossed, two large canoes were lashed together, and a platform placed on them.
At this period the population was exclusively Catholic, that church having from its earliest history planted itself in the town. In 1818, the first Baptist Church was built, and in 1820, the first Methodist organized and the first Episcopal Church was erected. In 1812, the first session of the State legislature was convened at Saint Louis.
The city at the beginning of the century depended almost wholly upon the fur trade; but the Saint Louis of to-day profits by the vast mineral and agricultural resources of the State, and by the commerce of the Valley of the Mississippi, which is now a comparatively densely populated region. When La Motte, the royal governor of Louisiana appointed in 1712, was ordered to assist the agents of Crozat in establishing trading-posts on the Mississippi and its tributaries, he wrote back to the ministry: "I have seen Crozat's instructions to his agents. I thought they issued from a lunatic-asylum, and there appeared to me to be no more sense in them than in the Apocalypse. What! is it expected that for any commercial or profitable purpose boats will ever be able to run up the Mississippi into the Wabash, the Missouri or the Red River? One might as well try to bite a slice off the moon! Not only are those rivers as rapid as the Rhone, but in their crooked course they imitate to perfection a snake's undulations. Hence, for instance, on every turn of the Mississippi it would be necessary to wait for a change of wind, if wind could be had; because this river is so lined with thick woods, that very little wind has access to its bed."
Could it be possible for the shade of La Motte to look down upon his late domain from his celestial
322abode, he would see many things to astonish his ghostly excellency, all accomplished in little more than a century and a half. He would see many great and populous cities on the banks of the Great River, and myriads of water craft of every description, not only proceeding down the river aided by the current, but strange vessels, unlike anything of his time, puffing smoke and steam out of their nostrils, proceeding directly up the stream, regardless of either wind or current, with a speed and by a means of locomotion which would seem to him, if he possessed only his eighteenth century knowledge, allied to sorcery.
The adaptation of steam as a motive power, has made Saint Louis what it is — the great inland city of the continent. Without it, she may have sent her loads of furs, metals, and grain down the river to New Orleans, but would have received little in return. In 1817, the first steamboat, the General Pike stopped at her landing. Since that time, her progress has been rapid and certain. In 1811, her population was but fourteen hundred. In 1850 it had increased to nearly seventy-five thousand; while in 1880 it had more than quadrupled, being set down by the census at 350,522. Now, a thousand steamboats speed up and down the Father of Waters and his tributaries, to bring produce to be reshipped from this port.
The State of Missouri is very rich in minerals. Lead, kaolin, iron, copper, zinc, cobalt, nickel and magnesia, all furnish material to keep busy the immense and numerous factories which have been established in Saint Louis, and furnish employment to about fifty thousand workmen. A large portion of Pilot Knob, which is five hundred and eighty-one feet
323high, is pure iron ore, and it is estimated that a single stratum will furnish nearly ten millions of tons, while there are several strata above, and at least one below. The iron ore in the region of Pilot Knob and Iron Mountain it is computed will furnish a million tons per year of manufactured iron for the next two hundred years. And most of the iron will be manufactured, or at least shipped from Saint Louis, furnishing an immense business and a proportionately large source of revenue. The limestone, sandstone, and granite of the State also furnish excellent building material for the houses and blocks of the city.
The agricultural resources of Missouri are also very great. The State furnishes large numbers of hogs and cattle, which are slaughtered and disposed of in Saint Louis; while breadstuffs, provisions, hay and lumber are constantly being received and shipped. It is one of the first cities in the Union in the manufacture of flour, the wheat being grown on the fertile prairie land of Missouri, Iowa and Kansas.
Saint Louis presents a fine appearance from the river. First, there is upon the river itself a city of steamboats, tugboats and flatboats, ranged in front of the levee, which rises high above low-water mark, and higher than all but the highest high-water mark, reached, perhaps, but once in a century. The great Saint Louis Bridge proudly stretches across the Mississippi, making three broad leaps in crossing. The centre span is five hundred and twenty feet in width; and the two side ones are each five hundred feet, the arches rising sixty feet, and permitting the largest steamboats to pass under them. This bridge was designed by Captain James B. Eads, now famous as the
324builder of the Jetties at the mouth of the Mississippi; was begun in 1869 and completed in 1874. It contains two tiers of tracks, the lower tier being for steam-cars and the upper one for horse-cars, carriages and pedestrians.
On the right bank of the river rises, terrace after terrace, the Saint Louis of to-day, differing no less in characteristics and people than in size from the Saint Louis of three-quarters of a century ago. Front street is one hundred feet wide, and extends along the levee. The streets running north and south are numbered west of Front street; while those running east and west, and terminating at the river, have arbitrary names given them. Front, Second, and Main streets are the principal wholesale avenues, and are lined with immense warehouses. Fourth street contains the most fashionable retail stores, and is the favorite promenade. The longest street is Grand avenue, running for twelve miles parallel with the river. Thirty years ago Carondelet was a separate suburb on the river bank, to the southward, but is now included in the city, the entire intervening space having been built upon. Washington and Chanteau avenues, Lucas Place, and Pine, Olive and Locust streets contain the finest residences.
The Missouri Gazette was the first newspaper established west of the Mississippi, having made its appearance in July, 1808, its publisher being Joseph Charles. This was the beginning of the Missouri Republican, of which Mr. Charles was one of the proprietors up to the time of his death. The second weekly appeared in 1815. There are now more than sixty papers issued in the city, including dailies, weeklies and monthlies.
325They are among the most ably conducted and widely circulated in the country. The Post Dispatch is one of the youngest of these, and at the same time one of the brightest and most enterprising. It prints three different editions, and is prompt in securing the freshest and most readable news. The Missouri Republican is not only the oldest paper of the city, but one of the leading papers of the country. It represents the interests of the Democratic party and has a very large circulation. The Globe-Democrat is Republican in its politics and a power in the party. The Journal and Times are both enterprising daily papers, and there are, in addition, two German dailies, three German weeklies, one French weekly, and one Spanish newspaper, published monthly. Agricultural, literary, religions, commercial, legal, medical and educational publications complete the list.
The Catholic church, although it has lost, to a certain extent, the supremacy which it first held over the city, is still represented by a large class of the population, and has a number of sacred buildings, while there are numerous charitable institutions under its control. The Cathedral, in Walnut street, between Second and Third, is one of the finest ecclesiastical structures in the city. Its lofty spire contains a fine chime of bells. The Sisters of Charity conduct a hospital which has accommodation for four hundred patients; and there are also a Deaf and Dumb Asylum, and a Convent of the Good Shepherd for the reformation of fallen women, in charge of Catholic orders.
Germans form a goodly proportion of the population of the city, and are, for the most part, orderly, industrious and intelligent. During the war of the
326Rebellion they proved themselves thoroughly loyal to the National Government and secured Saint Louis and, through it, the State from the evils of secession; and in this city the first military movements of the West were made. The population is largely made up of immigrants from Pennsylvania and New Jersey, these States being on the same parallels as Missouri, although latterly other sections of the country have become represented.
No one who visits Saint Louis should fail to see Shaw's Garden, one of the most interesting parks in the country, embracing an area of one hundred and four acres. It is owned and has been planned and perfected by Mr. Shaw, who intends to present it to the city. Ten acres are devoted to flowers and shrubbery of every known variety, a number of greenhouses sheltering tropical plants and other exotics. Fruits of every kind occupy six acres, and twenty-five acres furnish ample space for every kind of ornamental tree which will grow in this latitude. The labyrinth leads through a maze of hedge-bordered pathways to a summer-house in the centre; and there are a museum and a botanical library in connection with the Garden. During the week the grounds are open to the public, but on Sunday only strangers are admitted, who must procure tickets for the privilege.
The annual exhibition of the Agricultural and Mechanical Association of Saint Louis is the great feature of the city. Fair week, which is usually the first week in October, sees the city filled with strangers from every section of the State. The fair-grounds embrace eighty-five acres, and are three miles north-west of the Court House.
327Saint Louis has two thousand acres of public parks, admirably laid out and adorned with fountains and statuary. Forest Park embraces one thousand three hundred and fifty acres, and is four miles west of the Court House. The Des Perces River runs through it, and it is, to a great extent, still covered with the primitive forest. Northern Park, containing one hundred and eighty acres, is on the bluffs north of the city. There are a number of smaller parks or squares scattered through the city, prominent among which is Lafayette Park, containing bronze statues of Washington and Benton. The memory of Benton is greatly honored, Saint Louis being very proud of its citizen, the statesman who for so many years called this city his home.
Saint Louis is a handsome city, architecturally speaking, though there is a lack of that grand architectural display which is found in some of our western cities. The buildings are chiefly of stone or brick, and are, many of them, fine, though, as a whole, they are substantially rather than showily built. The finest public edifice is the Court House, occupying an entire square, and built of Genevieve limestone. It is in the form of a Greek cross, surmounted by a lofty iron dome, and each front is adorned with a handsome Doric portico. The Chamber of Commerce is the finest building of the kind in the country. It is built of gray limestone, is two hundred and fifty-five feet long, one hundred and eighty-seven feet wide, and five stories in height. The new Custom House and Post Office, at the corner of Eighth and Olive streets, is a very handsome edifice, occupying an entire block. It is built of Maine granite, with rose-colored granite
328trimmings, and its cost was about five million dollars. The Republican building, at the corner of Third and Chestnut streets, is one of the finest and most completely appointed newspaper offices in the country, and speaks well for the financial success of that newspaper. The city contains many handsome churches, among which the Jewish Temple, at the corner of Seventeenth and Pine streets, is one of the most conspicuous for its beauty.
The Elevator, at the foot of Ashley street, is one of the largest in the country, having a capacity of two millions of bushels. The levee is one of the most interesting features of the city. It is a hundred feet wide, facing the river with a solid wall of masonry; and here we find continual bustle and the busy activity of an immense commerce. In front of this levee, from early spring until early winter, while navigation is open upon the Mississippi, immense numbers of boats are daily seen, loading and unloading, discharging and taking on board their many passengers, coming and going. While the river is locked by ice during a brief season in the winter, these boats are securely fastened to the levee. Yet, with all the precautions which may be taken, when the ice breaks up in early spring, it is very common for some of them to be crushed like egg-shells between the floes.
Saint Louis is the great commercial depot of the Mississippi. Lying almost in the centre of the vast Mississippi Valley, it is connected by commerce with all the towns and cities above and below it and on the remotest tributaries of the Great River. As the West is developed, so will the magnitude and prosperity of this city increase. Lying equally between the North
329and South, the East and West, she will always maintain her present cosmopolitan character, uniting people of all sections and all nationalities; and in this commingling, and eventual blending of families and races, she will become more thoroughly American, in the broadest signification of that word.
Chapter XXVI. — Saint Louis to Cairo.
Crystal City, Missouri,
October 10, 1881.
WITH the feeling that three days had been pleasantly and profitably spent in the metropolis of the Valley of the Mississippi, we called for our canoe at the boat-house of the "Excelsiors," and pushing her once more into the river "set sail" for the tropical gulf. The weather now seemed settled, the temperature not having materially changed since leaving Saint Paul, as our progress in the descent of the river was about equal to the advance of the season.
Our seventy-ninth day was not marked by anything of especial interest. Went ashore but twice between Saint Louis and Crystal City, and then for a few moments only. Had luncheon in the canoe in order to save time. Distance covered between ten o'clock in the morning and five in the afternoon, forty-three miles.
Crystal City is a stirring village of Jefferson County, Missouri, situated on a small tributary of the
331Mississippi, about a mile from their junction. It has a population of nearly five hundred, and is engaged chiefly in the manufacture of plate glass. We were much impressed with the enterprise of this place, and trust that as the tide of its prosperity rolls on it will feel justified in erecting a commodious hotel, thus sparing future visitors the annoyance to which we were subjected of canvassing the entire village for a night's lodging, which resulted in securing a bed in a room already tenanted by two men and three dogs.
ST. JAMES HOTEL,
Some of the peculiar characteristics of the Lower Mississippi now began to force themselves upon our attention. Among the obstructions observed below the mouth of the Missouri are "planters," "sawyers," and "wooden islands," which are frequently the cause of injury and even destruction to the boats. "Planters" are large bodies of trees firmly fixed by their roots in the bottom of the river, in a perpendicular manner, and appearing not more than a foot above the surface of the water when at its medium height. So firmly are they rooted that the largest boats coming in contact with them will hardly move them; but, on the contrary, they materially injure the boats. "Sawyers" are also large trees, fixed less perpendicularly in the stream, yielding to the pressure of the current, disappearing and reappearing at intervals, and having a motion similar to the upright saw of a saw-mill, from which they take their name. These obstacles to
332navigation have seldom been seen of late years, as there are several government snag-boats constantly on the alert for them, and as soon as discovered they are promptly removed. "Wooden islands" are formed by driftwood, which from various causes has been arrested and matted together in different sections of the river. Formerly, these impediments were the cause of heavy losses to the merchant, and danger to the traveler; but since the introduction of the steamboat and the improvement of the channel, accidents of this nature are not of frequent occurrence.
The Mississippi and its principal tributaries give a peculiar cast to the mode of traveling and transportation, and have created a peculiar class of men called boatmen. Craft of every description are found on these waters. Here are still found the huge, shapeless masses denoting the infancy of navigation, and the powerful and magnificent steamship which marks its perfection; together with all the intermediate forms between these extremes. The most primitive of all water-craft is the "ark" or flatboat, an immense frame of square timbers with a roof. It is in shape a parallelogram, and lies upon the water like a log; it hardly feels the oar, and trusts to the current mainly for motion. It is usually fifteen feet wide and from fifty to eighty feet long. These arks are often filled with the goods and families of emigrants, carrying even their domestic animals and wagons. They are also frequently used as itinerant stores, and are filled with the various kinds of goods which are found most salable in the river towns. Sometimes they are fitted up as the workshops of artificers, who readily find employment in the villages and hamlets along the route selected.
Barges and keelboats are also frequently observed; skiffs, dugouts or pirogues, made of hollowed logs, and numerous other vessels for which language has no name and the sea no parallel. Since the advent of the steamboat much of the miscellaneous craft has disappeared, and the number of river boatmen has decreased by many thousands.
Favored with pleasant weather, our trip from Crystal City to Chester was greatly enjoyed. Halted at Saint Genevieve, on the west bank, where we dined and spent an hour on shore. This is the oldest settlement in Missouri, and one of the oldest in the Valley of the Mississippi, having been founded by Marquette in 1673. The surface is broken and hilly in the vicinity of the town, and is noted chiefly for its mines of lead and copper. It is an important river station, shipping the iron products of Iron Mountain, and the fruits, wines and cereals of the surrounding country.
Leaving Saint Genevieve, we ran down to Chester on the left bank, at the mouth of the Kaskaskia River, a considerable stream, navigable at high water to Vandalia, one hundred and fifty miles from its confluence with the Mississippi. The banks of the Kaskaskia, and those of its tributaries, are generally fertile and studded with rich and flourishing cities and villages. The surface is usually undulating and is well adapted to the cultivation of corn, wheat, rye, oats and tobacco. Cotton is raised to some extent in the lower part of its course.
Chester is the county-seat of Randolph County, Illinois; is seventy-six miles below Saint Louis, and is the shipping-point of the Chester coal-fields. It is an incorporated city; has eight churches, a bank, two
334weekly papers, rolling-mills, foundries, flour-mills, an elevator, and claims a population of three thousand.
Neely's Landing, Missouri,
Resumed our voyage at eight o'clock. Halted at Wilkinson's Landing, a small hamlet fifteen miles below Chester on the opposite shore. Stopped a few minutes at Grand Tower, forty miles below Chester. This natural rock-tower, rising from the bed of the river near its western bank, sixty feet above the water-level, gives its name to the town on the Illinois side.
"In some former period," observes Schoolcraft, "there has been an obstruction in the channel of the Mississippi, at or near Grand Tower, producing a stagnation of the current at an elevation of about one hundred and thirty feet above the present ordinary watermark. This appears evident from the general elevation and direction of the hills, which for several hundred miles above are separated by a valley from twenty to twenty-five miles wide, that deeply embosoms the current of the Mississippi." On the rocky and abrupt fronts of some of these hills a series of water-lines are distinctly seen, and are uniformly parallel; and at Grand Tower these water-lines are found about one hundred feet above the top of the stratum in which petrifactions of the madrepore and various fossil remains are deposited. Here the limestone rocks, by their projection towards each other, indicate that they have, at a remote period, been severed, either by some convulsion
335of nature, or by the action of water, and that a passage has been made through them giving vent to the stagnant waters on the prairie lands above, and opening for the Mississippi its present channel.
The bank of the Mississippi from near Grand Tower, extending up on the Missouri side of the river, is sufficiently elevated above the surface of the State of Illinois to have formed a western shore of an expanse of water covering the entire area of that State. And the alluvial deposits, of which the Illinois prairies are formed, are composed of fine, hard and compact layers of earth, similar to those at the bottom of mill-ponds or of water long stagnant.
We tried very hard towards evening to find a village on the east bank of which we had heard, and which is still placed on the maps as Preston, but a diligent search and much inquiry failed to discover anything but a single deserted house, standing upon the brink of the crumbling bank of the river. We subsequently learned that, lacking the protection of a levee, Preston had long since yielded to the ravages of the invading Mississippi.
Disembarked at half-past six o'clock and arranged to spend the night with the family of Mr. John Shinnaman, an ex-Union soldier who returned to his farm at the close of the war. In referring to his present financial condition, Mr. Shinnaman was far from hopeful. He explained that about a year ago he thought of selling his farm, at that time comprising over five hundred acres, and investing the proceeds in goods with which he proposed to open a store; but his wife opposed, had little faith in the store, and declined to sign the deed with him conveying their real estate to
336other parties. Since then the river has cut acre after acre away from his possessions, until at the time of our visit not more than seventy-five acres out of the original five hundred were left. It is safe to assume that in future Mrs. Shinnaman will sign all papers conveying property to anxious purchasers with promptness and despatch.
We were awakened at six o'clock in the morning by the farm hands, who were up and doing at a much earlier hour. A good old-fashioned farm-house break-fast was served at half-past six, reminding me of boy-hood days and the old house on the hill in northern New York. Excellent coffee, milk and cream furnished by milkmen who had not yet learned to sing, "Shall we gather at the river;" corn-bread, bacon and eggs, and such fruits and vegetables as are usually found on the farms of Missouri.
Returned to our canoe at eight o'clock. Mr. Shinnaman and family and several of their neighbors and friends accompanied us to the landing to see us off. Weather favorable until eleven; then wind up stream and comparatively slow progress.
Landed at Cape Girardeau for dinner and to attend to correspondence. Found the Cape astir with a circus and county fair, a combination almost too much for a town of its magnitude. The circus, however, I learned was very well patronized, as is usually the case, but at the expense of the other enterprise. We were driven from the river at Commerce by a severe wind and rain
337storm at four o'clock in the afternoon. We were glad, indeed, to find comfortable quarters at Commerce, and had the satisfaction of entering in our log forty-three miles as the day's run.
Commerce, the capital of Scott County, Missouri, is one hundred and fifty-four miles below Saint Louis. It is a pleasant village of five hundred inhabitants, and is engaged in the manufacture of flour, leather and pottery.
HOTEL DE WINTER,
At Cairo, Illinois,
It was necessary to make an early start in the morning, as we were expecting mail at Cairo and desired to reach that city before the hour of closing the post-office, and, besides, we were eager to see La Belle Riviere, the grand old Ohio, and witness the greeting of this greatest of its eastern tributaries to the Father of Waters. Consequently we were on the water soon after seven o'clock and making good progress towards our destination. A stout use of our paddles, aided by a current of four and a half miles per hour, brought us to the mouth of the Ohio at two o'clock, thereby scoring to our credit forty-three miles in six hours, allowing one hour on shore for luncheon.
At one o'clock we came to what is styled in river parlance a long reach, from the head of which we could plainly see Cairo resting upon the flat prairie in the distance. Across the southern extremity of this prairie city could be seen the placid Ohio rolling its waters along towards its confluence with its mighty rival, the Mississippi. A few moments more and our little craft
338was whirled into its comparatively quiet, clear current; and with our prow pointed northward we pulled quickly up to the Cairo steamboat-landing and disembarked.
At the wharf we were met by several citizens, including Captain W. P. Halliday and the editor of the Argus-Journal, the former of whom is perhaps the most prominent representative of the city's commercial interests.
Cairo occupies the extreme southern point of the State of Illinois at the junction of the Mississippi and Ohio rivers, being situated on a peninsula jutting out between them a little above their point of union. Marquette and Joliet were the first white men of whom there is any record, who visited the Mississippi at its confluence with the Ohio, which was then known as the Wabash. In 1673, they passed the spot where the latter mingled its bright waters with the turbid flood of the former; and after descending the Mississippi to latitude 33°, a little below the mouth of the Arkansas, they reversed their course, and in ascending the river repassed the same spot. It is possible that the Jesuit missionaries had preceded them, for at the time of their visit a number of missions had already been established among the Indians through the Illinois country.
Following Marquette and Joliet came Hennepin and Dugay in 1681; while in 1682, La Salle took the same route down the Mississippi, delaying for a few days at the mouth of the Ohio, to make arrangements for trade and intercourse with the Indians.
During the first half of the eighteenth century the Ohio River was little known, all that portion of it below the mouth of the Wabash being considered a
339continuation of the latter tributary; and above that point the Ohio, known only by report, was spoken of as the River of the Iroquois. It was not until 1749 that the river was regularly explored by the French and traced to its sources in the Alleghenies.
No settlement seems to have been made on the present site of Cairo during the French dominion in America. It was not even considered an eligible place for a trading-post, mission or fort; therefore all these were located both above and below it on the Mississippi, and also on the Ohio. It was not until the French had withdrawn from the Ohio River and ceded Louisiana to the United States, and the Anglo-Saxon race had begun to push westward, and was already figuring with its characteristic alertness of intellect on the great future of our country, that this locality was selected as a site for a town.
Cairo is said to be the geographical centre of the trade and population of our country. At the junction of two of its greatest rivers it would naturally seem to invite commerce, and also seem to occupy the very position for the metropolis of the Mississippi Valley. So reasoned the early settlers, and Cairo sprang into existence. But beyond its geographical position at the mouth of the Ohio, and in the centre of the great valley of the Mississippi, it possessed no natural advantages. The ground was low and annually overflowed during the spring freshets. Hence undoubtedly its name of Cairo, after that Egyptian city which is not unfrequently submerged by the Nile. Hence also the name of "Egypt" contemptuously bestowed upon southern Illinois.
Charles Dickens visited the little town in 1842, and
340described it in no flattering terms, as low and marshy, and at certain seasons of the year inundated to the house-tops — a breeding-place of fevers, ague and death. No doubt he looked at much which he saw in America at that date through blue spectacles. Nevertheless, Cairo was certainly not a paradise when Dickens visited it. Since that time large sums of money have been expended in improvements, chiefly in the construction of levees to protect it from inundation; but trade and commerce have in a great measure passed it by and established their headquarters at Saint Louis, further up the Mississippi and just below the mouth of the Missouri. Steamers upon the Mississippi and the Ohio make Cairo one of their regular stopping-places, and a number of railroads centre here. The Chicago division of the Illinois Central terminates at Cairo. The "Great Jackson Route," or the Chicago, Saint Louis and New Orleans Railroad — one of the main trunk lines between the Northern and Southern States — passes through the town. It is also connected by steam ferry with Columbus, Kentucky, the northern terminus of the Mobile and Ohio road. If railroads and river facilities could make a town, then surely Cairo ought to be one of the most prosperous in the West.
During the Civil War it had a brief period of prosperity. General Grant established his headquarters here in 1861, when he was appointed brigadier-general of volunteers, and it was the base of his first military operations. When Grant, by reason of his brilliant achievements at Forts Henry and Donelson, was promoted to the command of the Military District of Tennessee, General W. T. Sherman succeeded to the
341command of the District of Cairo, and from thence began his own distinguished career. Thus it was the starting-point of two of the most famous heroes of the late war — one who "broke the back of the Rebellion," and the other who eventually suppressed it. During that period it was an important depot of supplies, and enjoyed a satisfactory commercial activity. It was the headquarters of soldiers and participated in all the bustle of military life. For a time it rose into comparative importance and seemed to realize in a degree the dreams of its youth. But with the close of the war came the close of its prosperous times. The streets were again empty and comparatively silent, and the town lapsed into decadence.
Cairo is now a city of eleven thousand still hopeful inhabitants. It has several good hotels, and a fine Custom House of cut stone, which cost two hundred thousand dollars. The county buildings are also large and handsome. The levee keeps within bounds the two rivers which, not a generation ago, almost yearly united and spread out in a broad expanse of water several miles in extent at that point. But it does not give consistency to the Illinois mud, which, stickier and deeper even than that of the Chicago of early days, still turns the streets into semi-fluid canals at certain seasons of the year. Neither can it keep back the malaria which infests the lower portion of the State of Illinois.
Cairo has a heterogeneous population composed in part of Northerners and in part of Southerners, while there are also representatives of the genuine Westerner. It is not a handsome city, though there are some fine buildings, and its general architecture has improved
342of late years. The flat, unpicturesque country and the yellow flood of the Mississippi possess, neither of them, elements of beauty. Its future may possibly be brighter than its past, though it will probably never reach the goal of its early ambition. If the levees prove a sufficient protection against the surging flood of the Mississippi, so that the town is secure against occasional inundation, the advantages of its geographical position, and the superior facilities offered by its numerous railroads, may yet build it up into a tolerably populous and thriving city.
Chapter XXVII. — Cairo to Memphis.
October 15, 1881.
ON quitting Cairo we left Illinois to the northward and now had Kentucky on our left hand. The dilapidated village of Belmont, Missouri, was reached a few minutes after one o'clock. Here on the seventh of November, 1861, an indecisive battle was fought between the Confederates under Generals Polk and Pillow, and the Union troops commanded by General Grant.
Some of the most peculiar and interesting features of a journey on the Lower Mississippi are the studies presented by the "Shanty-boats." We passed many of them. They are also called family-boats, as they serve as a home during the winter for a peculiar class of people. They carry passengers and cargo from the colder regions of the Ohio to New Orleans. They hail mostly from the Allegheny and Monongahela region and from towns on the Upper Ohio. Winter-quarters are looked up in the fall, and the swift-running river is the path to warmer suns and a life of ease.
The shanty-boatman fishes in the stream for floating boards, planks and scantling to build his house. His scow or flatboat is roughly constructed, and is usually about twenty feet long by twelve wide. It is made of planks spiked together, calked and pitched, and thus made water-tight. A small shanty is built upon the boat, covering about two-thirds of it. If the proprietor has a family he takes them on board, and lays in a small stock of provisions, chiefly salt pork, flour, potatoes, molasses and coffee. An old cooking-stove is rigged up, rough bunks are constructed for sleeping, and if the family has any furniture, it is put on board and arranged in the shanty. A double-barreled gun and a good supply of ammunition for certain contingencies, with a number of steel-traps, are never forgotten. This rude shanty, with its door at each end, and a few small windows in its sides, makes a comfortable home for its rough occupants.
Every trade is represented on these floating dens. Cobblers, tinsmiths, agents and repairers of sewing-machines, grocers, saloon-keepers, barbers and others set afloat their establishments and ply their several trades at the small towns and villages on the river banks. The shanty-boat floats on the stream with the current, the occupants rarely doing any rowing. They keep on their course till a warmer climate is reached, when they work their craft into some creek and secure it to the bank. The men then set their steel-traps in the woods for coons, mink and foxes, and in the course of the winter, as the reward of their vigilance, secure many skins. They find other game, however, and feast upon the hogs of the backwoodsmen and small farmers. When engaged in the dangerous work of
347hog-stealing, the men will keep a number of the skins of wild animals stretched on the walls of their shanty, so that visitors to their boat may be led to believe that they are industrious trappers — "who wouldn't steal a hog for no money." They will attend with their whole family any religious meeting in the vicinity. They join with vigor in the shoutings and "amens," and affect a desire to lead Christian lives, so that the spectator is often misled by their seeming earnestness and sincerity. A visit to the shanty-boat, however, and a glimpse of these people "at home," will quickly dispel such hastily formed impressions.
The fleet of shanty-boats begins to reach New Orleans at the approach of spring. They there find a market for the skins of the animals trapped during their voyage, and the trapper disposes of his boat for fire-wood. He then purchases lower-deck tickets on an up-river steamboat for Cairo, Cincinnati, or Pittsburg, and returns to the Ohio River to rent a small patch of ground for the season, where he can raise a little corn, cabbage and potatoes, upon which to subsist until the time arrives to repeat his annual trip down the river to warmer climes.
Hickman is a small but busy town, the capital of Fulton County, Kentucky, and is the only place in this State of any importance on the Mississippi. It has a population of about two thousand, engaged mostly in the handling of agricultural produce. The surrounding country is fertile and produces, in considerable quantities, wheat, corn and tobacco. The town has various factories and supports a seminary and and a newspaper. It is the terminus of the Nashville, Chattanooga and Saint Louis Railroad.
Point Pleasant, Missouri,
Many of the features peculiar to the Lower Mississippi continued to force themselves upon our notice; sand-bars appeared frequently above the water, upon which were often seen large flocks of wild ducks and geese. The Chickasaw Bluffs, the first and highest of a series which rise at intervals, like islands, out of the low bottoms as far south as Natchez, came into view on the left side of the river, just above Hickman. The Mound-Builders of past ages used these natural fortresses to hold at bay the fierce tribes of the north, and many centuries later they played a conspicuous part in our Civil War.
We passed the Kentucky boundary at three o'clock and came in sight of Tennessee, Missouri still continuing on our right. Descending a long straight reach, after making a run of twenty-five miles below Hickman, we saw on the shore, in a deep bend of the river, the site of Fort Donelson, while in the middle of the stream, nearly opposite, lay "Island No. 10." Both of these places were full of interest, being the scenes of conflict during the Rebellion. Gliding down another long bend we passed New Madrid, on the Missouri side.
At four o'clock the mouth of Reelfoot Bayou opened before us, a creek which discharges the waters of one of the most peculiarly interesting lakes in America — a lake which was the immediate result of a series of disastrous disturbances, generally known as the New
349Madrid earthquakes, which took place in 1811-13. Much of the country in the vicinity of New Madrid and Fort Donelson was involved in these earthquakes. Swamps were upheaved and converted into dry uplands, while cultivated uplands were depressed below the average water-level and became swamps or ponds. The inhabitants, deprived of their farms, were reduced to such a stage of suffering as to call for aid from the Government, and new lands were granted them in place of their fields which had sunk out of sight.
The most interesting effect of the subsidence of the land was the creation of Reelfoot Lake, the fluvial entrance to which is from the Mississippi, some forty-four miles below Hickman, Kentucky. The northern end of the lake is west of, and but a short distance from Fort Donelson, which is about twenty miles from Hickman by the river route.
Cottonwood Point, Missouri,
Seven o'clock saw us again on the water. Our landlord, Captain Robinson, launched the canoe, giving us a hearty send-off, which was lustily echoed by his friends and neighbors assembled on the river-bank to witness our departure.
The climate was now growing delightful. It was like a June day in the Northern States. Each soft breeze of the balmy atmosphere seemed to say, as we felt its strange, fascinating influence, "You are nearing the goal!"
We found the river exceedingly tortuous at this time.
350The readies were usually from four to six miles in length, though some of them were considerably longer. Sometimes deposits of sand and vegetable matter will build up a small island adjacent to a large one, and then a dense thicket of cottonwood brush takes possession of it, and assists materially in resisting the encroachments of the current. These little low islands covered with thickets are called "tow-heads," and the maps of the Engineer Corps distinguish them from the numbered islands in the following manner: "Island No. 24," and "Tow-head of Island No. 24."
Commencing with "No. 1," below the mouth of the Ohio, these islands end with "No. 125," just above the inlet to Bayou La Fourche in Louisiana; and in addition there are many which have been named after their owners. During one generation a planter may live upon a peninsula comprising many thousand acres, with his cotton-fields and house fronting on the Mississippi. The treacherous current of this river may suddenly cut a new way across his estate at a distance of two or three miles from his house. As the gradual change goes on, he looks from the windows of his house upon a new scene. He no longer gazes upon the majestic river, enlivened by the passage of steam-boats and other craft; but before him is a sombre bayou or lake, whose muddy waters are almost motionless. He was possibly the proprietor of Beauregard Point, he is now the owner of Beauregard Island, and lives in the quiet atmosphere of the backwoods of Tennessee.
The area of land on both sides of the Mississippi subjected to annual overflow is very large. There are localities thirty or forty miles away from the river
351where the height of the overflow of the previous year is plainly registered upon the trunks of the trees by a coating of yellow mud, which frequently reaches from seven to ten feet above the ground. This great region covers vast tracts of rich land, as well as millions of acres of low swamps and bayou bottoms.
The settler builds his log-cabin on the highlands, and makes a clearing where the rich soil and warm sun aid his feeble efforts in the direction of agriculture, and he is rewarded with a large crop of corn and sweet-potatoes. These, with bacon, annually provided from his herd of wandering pigs, furnish the food for his family of children, who, usually without covering for their heads, roam through the woods until the sun bleaches their hair to the color of flax. With tobacco, whiskey and ammunition for himself, and an ample supply of snuff for his wife, he drags out an indolent existence; but he is the pioneer of American civilization, and as he migrates every few years to a more western wilderness, his lands are frequently occupied by a more intelligent and industrious class, and his improvements are improved upon. The new-comer, with more ambition and greater resources, raises cotton instead of corn, and looks to the North for his necessary supplies of food and clothing.
FORT PILLOW HOUSE,
We passed the Missouri boundary soon after leaving Cottonwood in the morning and had the State of Arkansas on our right. Ate our luncheon in the
352canoe as we floated through a cut-off near the Tennessee shore.
Late in the afternoon we met two colored men in a skiff, who in answer to inquiries directed our attention to the site of Fort Pillow, which is situated on the left bank of the river upon one of the Chickasaw Bluffs. It is about forty feet above the water and commands the low country opposite and two reaches of the river for a long distance.
At intervals we caught glimpses of negro cabins with their clearings, and their little crops of cotton glistening in the sun. Truly had the sword been beaten into the plowshare, and the spear into the pruning-hook.
Harrison's Landing, Arkansas,
This was a sunny and windy day. The Arkansas shores afforded us protection as we paddled away from Fulton. The island tow-heads and sand-bars were numerous, and in places the Mississippi widened into lake-like proportions, while the yellow current, now heavily charged with mud, increased in height every hour.
Having divested ourselves of all superfluous apparel we pushed southward with all the nerve we could command. The negroes at work on the plantations gave us a hearty hail as we passed. By a lively use of our paddles from seven o'clock in the morning until the same hour in the evening we were enabled to make Harrison's Landing, Arkansas, noting in our log sixty-three miles for the day.
Our evening with the Harrisons of Harrison's Landing one of the most agreeable and noteworthy experiences of our many halts on the Arkansas shore. It was the beginning of a long list of courtesies and entertainments of which Paine and myself were the recipients, but which we had hardly expected in the Far South, since I felt that, possibly, my service in the Union Army would be a bar to the usual Southern civilities; but in this we were greatly mistaken. No people could be more cordial in the treatment of their guests than were those whom it was our good fortune to meet in Mississippi, Arkansas, and Louisiana.
We were quite surprised in the morning, on proposing payment for our accommodations, to be told by the Harrisons that they preferred to have us consider our stay at their home a visit. Having already noted some peculiarities of Southern hospitality we deemed it prudent not to observe our usual practice of insisting that payment in full should be accepted.
With the cordial good wishes of those whom we had met at the Landing we again stepped into the Alice and pointed her prow towards Memphis, twenty-five miles distant. Near Randolph we passed at a distance large and well-cultivated cotton plantations, but the river country in its vicinity was almost a wilderness.
Arrived at Memphis, we landed, and after partaking of refreshments, started on a tour of observation through the city, as was our custom.
Memphis dates its origin from the year 1820, when its site was selected, and the city of the future planned and laid out. It grew rapidly and in 1831 was incorporated as a city. It is built on a bluff, forty-seven feet above the highest flow of the river, and its safety from inundation is thus assured. At a short distance above the city the Wolf River empties its clear stream into the Mississippi. Memphis is seven hundred and eighty miles above New Orleans, and four hundred and twenty below Saint Louis. Twenty years after its foundation the population had increased to three thousand three hundred and sixty; in 1884, it had readied nearly fifty thousand. Memphis has attained the dignity of being the most important point on the river between Saint Louis and New Orleans. The city is very tastefully and conveniently planned, and is adorned with many elegant and substantial private residences and public structures. The Esplanade, between Front street and the river, forms a fine addition to the city, and here we find the Custom House, a splendid specimen of architecture, built of the best quality of marble from the Tennessee quarries. The business streets are wide and regular and lined with handsome stores. Many of the private residences are surrounded with beautiful lawns, ornamented with classic statuary and flowers in profuse variety. The city occupies an area of over three square miles, a handsome park, filled with trees, adorning its centre. Here also in a bust of Andrew Jackson. The cemeteries are six in number, Elm wood, on the south-east border of the city, being the most tastefully laid out and the most beautiful of the number.
Intersecting the city is the Bayou Gayoso, with several
355branches, which, up to the year 1860, was the receptacle of most of the city drainage. Since that date over forty miles of sewers have been constructed and the city is now provided with a very superior and effective system of drainage. The facilities for transportation by railway are abundant in every direction, and to these are added an excellent and well-appointed street railway. Memphis is well paved and is supplied with pure water from the Wolf River by the Holly system.
In addition to the usual religions, educational and commercial institutions, the city contains a fine public library of about ten thousand volumes; three daily and ten weekly papers; a chamber of commerce, and a cotton exchange. The Christian Brothers' College — Catholic — established in 1841, has a large number of professors and instructors, and a corresponding number of preparatory and collegiate students, whose training does credit to the faculty. The Memphis College, for the education of females, is an admirable institution situated within the city limits. The State Female College is a little outside, and is also in a flourishing condition.
Navigation is open at all seasons of the year and large sea-going vessels ascend the river to Memphis. For the sale of cotton this city ranks as the largest interior market in the United States. It has also an extensive trade with Arkansas, Mississippi, West Tennessee and Northern Alabama. Several lines of steamboats run to Saint Louis, Cincinnati, Vicksburg and many other points. The Memphis and Little Rock Railway terminates at Hopefield, on the Arkansas side of the river, whence a powerful transfer-boat conveys an entire train at once to Memphis.
The annual value of the trade of the city is about sixty-five million dollars. Foundries and machine-shops are among the principal manufactories. There are also extensive wood-works, a large tobacco factory, furniture factories, and three of the largest oil-mills in the United States.
During the Civil War the Union forces took possession of the city after a naval engagement in which the Confederate flotilla was nearly destroyed. This occurred June sixth, 1862, and the Unionists held possession until the close of the war. In August, 1864, a cavalry raid was made upon the city by the Confederate General Forrest, who captured several hundred Federals and then departed.
Memphis has suffered greatly from the ravages of yellow fever. In 1878 and 1879 two-thirds of the population fled from the city. Business was wholly suspended, and for three months in each of these years all ingress or egress was forbidden, except for the most necessary purposes. The city became for a time hopelessly bankrupt. It is, however, at last regaining its normal condition of prosperity, and by thoroughly cleansing, repaving and sewering the streets, and supervising the construction of buildings, is likely to become eventually one of the healthiest cities on the Mississippi River.
Chapter XXVIII. — Memphis to Vicksburg.
Near Alexis, Mississippi,
October 21, 1881.
ON returning to our canoe at Memphis in the morning we found many interested citizens assembled on the levee to witness our departure and to leave with us their good wishes for a safe and pleasant voyage to the Gulf.
We made a miscalculation in the forenoon as to a cut-off, by which we lost four miles. Halted a few moments at a United States Survey-boat to inquire distances and to further inform ourselves concerning the route to Vicksburg.
Our first night among the colored people was brought about through a failure to reach a town or find a white family on or near the banks of the river before dark. Continuing our course, we hailed every visible light without response until nearly ten o'clock, when we came to the home of Robert Green, an intelligent and courteous colored man, who gave us a cordial welcome. We did not regret the circumstances which led us to the cabin of a negro. I was most anxious to
358place myself in possession of some facts concerning their method of gaining a livelihood and note their social advancement under the favoring influences of freedom. During my escape from a Southern prison many years before, I had found shelter and protection among the negroes of South Carolina and Georgia, when, as slaves, they were looking forward to a release from bondage, and at a time when there was much speculation as to the probabilities of their future, should the war result in emancipation.
Twenty years have passed, the problem has been solved, and every intelligent person North and South is thoroughly convinced that the negro has not only made rapid strides in the direction of intellectual development, but has proven himself capable of maintaining his family and accumulating property.
I learned through Mr. Green of many notable examples in which colored men have been prosperous to a very marked degree. He cited, among others, Ben Montgomery, who was at one time the slave and body-servant of Colonel Joseph Davis, brother of Jefferson Davis, ex-President of the late Confederate States. He was the manager of the Davis estates while a slave, and was so industrious and honest in all his dealings, and so successful in business, that after the war he was able to purchase his master's plantation, for which he paid him in gold.
Montgomery was described as fairly educated and possessing the presence and address of a gentleman. It is a singular fact that this large landed-estate should have become the property of the former slave so soon after the war, and proves most conclusively that the black man may aspire to wealth and station with as
359fair a prospect of success as the more favored race. Ben Montgomery died some years since, leaving an example to his colored kindred worthy of their imitation.
As soon as we had finished breakfast at the cabin of our colored host, Robert Green, we called for the Alice, and, accompanied by all the Greens, large and small, hurried down to the river and pushed off. Nothing of an unusual character was seen until about twelve o'clock, when, as we rounded a bend we saw in the distance Helena, the most enterprising city of Arkansas. We struck the beach at one o'clock, and on stepping ashore received a welcome from Arnot Harris and W. L. Morris. These gentlemen escorted us to the "Delmonico" for dinner, and extended many courtesies during our brief stay in their city.
Helena, standing on the right bank of the river, in Phillips County, Arkansas, has become, since the Civil War, a very enterprising town, and is growing rapidly into importance. It offers many advantages for navigation and commerce, and the only drawback to its still greater advancement is the destructive agency of the Mississippi, which occasionally threatens it with inundation. If it can protect itself against the overflows, Helena, from its peculiarly favorable position, is destined to become one of the first cities on the Lower Mississippi. Located in a fertile cotton section, the facilities for shipment of that staple to other ports is apparent. It is eighty miles below Memphis, and is
360the terminus of the Arkansas Midland, and the Iron Mountain and Helena railroads.
In the summer of 1863 Helena was held by a Union force under General Prentiss, strongly intrenched the river also being commanded by a gunboat. July fourth, an unsuccessful attempt to seize the town was made by a superior Confederate force under General Holmes. In the action which followed, the Confederates lost one thousand six hundred and thirty-six men, and the Unionists two hundred and fifty.
The present population of Helena is about four thousand, and it supports two banks and five newspapers.
Near Modoc, Arkansas
Wind, rain, and a chopped sea greeted us as we stepped into our canoe at an early hour in the morning. A persistent use of our paddles supported by a brisk current brought us to Friar's Point at eleven o'clock. Here we landed, and after climbing over a levee walked, or rather waded, up to town through several inches of mud and water.
After dinner, which we had at a restaurant, we took a hurried stroll through this forlorn-looking place, confining our walk chiefly to high ground and streets favored with paved or board sidewalks. Should the majestic Mississippi conclude some fine day to take Friar's Point on an excursion to the Gulf, it is doubtful if anything but the "point" would be missed.
Just before re-embarking we were invited aboard the "Doremus Floating Photograph Gallery," which
361has been upon the river for the past six years, under the direction of J. P. Doremus, of Paterson, New Jersey. Mr. Doremus explained that he made his floating gallery his home during the summer months, and that he had photographed every object of interest between Minneapolis and Vicksburg. Many of the views submitted for our inspection were faithful representations of Mississippi scenery, and will prove a valuable contribution to the illustrated history of the Great River.
The weather was showery throughout the afternoon, but in anticipation of several days more of the same sort we thought it best to continue our voyage, and pressed forward determined to cover as many miles as possible before nightfall.
The small landing and postal station known as Modoc was reached a few minutes before six o'clock. Here we spent the night with J. R. McGuire and family, a wealthy and enterprising cotton-planter, who named the place and established a post-office soon after the Modoc War. We were much gratified to note in our log a gain of forty-eight miles for our ninety-fourth day.
Our Modoc landlord, Mr. McGuire, gave us the launch at eight o'clock, pushing the Alice into a brisk current which, at this point, is said to be about seven miles an hour. Contrary to our predictions of the previous day, the weather was cool and pleasant, with wind up stream.
We met the steamer Vicksburg near "Island No. 66," and greeted her passengers and crew by raising our hats. This courtesy was responded to by the Vicksburg with her usual salute of three whistles. Dined with a cotton-planter on the Arkansas side, opposite Mahone's Landing, Mississippi. Laconia was passed at five o'clock in the afternoon and Concordia reached a few minutes before six. Several miles were saved in this day's run by availing ourselves of cut-offs. Distance covered forty-five miles.
The low banks of the river below Memphis brought plainly to view the levees or dikes built as a protection against the inroads of freshets. The mouths of the White and Arkansas rivers were passed during the afternoon of this day, the latter of which is the largest western tributary of the Mississippi south of the Missouri.
Below the mouth of the Arkansas is, or rather was, the town of Napoleon, at one time a place of enterprise and importance on the Lower Mississippi, but now represented by only a few scattered houses, the most demoralized-looking hamlet we had seen since leaving Minneiska, at the other end of the river. The banks were tumbling into the stream day by day. Houses had fallen into the current which was rapidly undermining the town. Here and there chimneys were observed standing in solitude, the buildings having been torn down and removed to other localities in
363order to save them from the persistent encroachments of the river.
Point Comfort, Mississippi,
Breakfasted at seven o'clock and then repaired to the little cove in which we had moored our canoe the previous evening. The river had risen several inches during the night and we were fortunate in finding the Alice near where we had left her — high and dry, but too near the bank of the river. In our haste to find a shelter for the night we had neglected to tie up, but luckily an honest fisherman living near saw the risk she ran of floating off on her own account — leaving her crew stranded — and dragged her up the bank to safer moorings. We were thus spared the loss of our staunch and faithful little friend and, taking our seats, pushed out into the rapidly flowing current.
Many large and well-cultivated plantations were observed in the distance near Glencoe, Mississippi, but the river country as we glided past seemed almost a wilderness. So favorable were wind and current in this day's pull that we ran off forty-eight miles in six hours, notwithstanding the fact that Paine was feeling very uncomfortable, owing to a slight attack of malaria.
Resumed our paddles at eight o'clock in the morning. Weather warm and cloudy, with some rain in the forenoon. Scenery along the river decidedly
364monotonous. Encountered the usual number of "regulation" bends, sand-bars, "tow-heads" and "nigger-heads;" in short, it may be truthfully said that from morning till night, from the beginning to the end of the week, there is but little to arrest the attention of the voyager in this section of the Lower Mississippi. When one has seen ten miles of the scenery below Memphis, he may know what to anticipate for the remainder of his journey to Vicksburg.
Disembarked at Greenville, the chief town of the Levee District, and the capital of Washington County, Mississippi. During the late Civil War the town was destroyed by the Federals, but was rebuilt in 1865, and incorporated in 1870. The citizens are enterprising and liberal, and enjoy a thriving trade with the surrounding country. The stability of Greenville and its future growth seem assured by its gradual increase of population, the opening of several branch railroads, and greater efficiency in the protection of the back country from overflow. The shifting channel of the river and its consequences are a trouble the city has to contend with in common with all other towns and counties on the Lower River; but the Government, through the plan of works adopted by the River Commission, bids fair to put an end to this difficulty.
The moral and religions education of the people is promoted by several churches and a number of excellent schools. A public library of well-selected books — the handsome building being the gift of a benevolent citizen — also provides for the enlightenment and elevation of the inhabitants.
The Mississippi River terminus of the Georgia Railroad is here; and at this point also is located one of the
365finest cottonseed oil-mills in the country; also a large saw-mill, a planing-mill and a grist-mill. Greenville, it is alleged by the inhabitants, is excelled in healthfulness by few towns in any locality. It is well drained, and there are no sources of malaria in the track of the prevalent breezes that blow over the town. Law and order are strictly enforced, and there is a total absence of rowdyism and violation of authority.
Our arrival at Ashton was more exciting than agreeable. We had some trouble in effecting a landing just above this place, which consisted simply and solely of a small store, residence and out-buildings. The current of the river was strong and the banks too steep and crumbling, without artificial help, for disembarking. Once on the shore, however, we presumed it an easy task to walk down to the house which we had noticed at a distance of about eighty rods. It was soon discovered that our line of march would carry us through a field inclosed with a ten-rail fence. Cattle were observed in this field, but it did not occur to either Paine or myself that there was any occasion for caution; when, suddenly, a massive bull sprang out from the herd and came in pursuit of us in a manner that indicated perhaps anything but a friendly greeting. It is needless to say that we were not long in reaching and mounting the fence on the Ashton side of the field we were crossing. Here, however, was encountered the climax to our dilemma. A pack of hounds, attracted
366by our scramble for the fence, came out in full force from the house, followed by their master, and confronted us from the opposite side. With his bullship roaring and bellowing in our rear, and the dogs barking and yelping in our front, we called a truce from the topmost rail and awaited developments. Having satisfactorily answered the challenge of the representative of Ashton, and convinced him that we were not marauders, our canine foes were speedily silenced and we were escorted down to Ashton, which we soon ascertained had been selected as a postal station for the surrounding country on account of its convenience to a landing for the river steamers. We learned upon further investigation that we had passed the Arkansas boundary and would spend our first night in Louisiana.
MAGNA VISTA STORE,
We left Ashton a few minutes after eight o'clock in the morning without any definite evening objective. A peculiar combination of circumstances prevented our disembarking until after nine o'clock, when we ran ashore at a small steamboat-landing known as Ingomar. Here we were very cordially received by Isaac Riegler, the proprietor of a small store, whose principal patrons were the colored people of the neighborhood. Happening at this place on Saturday evening we had an excellent opportunity to note the performances of the negroes after receiving their weekly pay. Story-telling, plantation songs, and dancing seemed to be the chief characteristics of their Saturday evening gathering.
Our first view of Vicksburg was over a long, low point of land, the base of winch was excavated by the Union Army during its investment of the city in the late conflict between the States. By passing through this cut-off, light draught gunboats could ascend or descend the Mississippi without passing near the batteries of the beleaguered city. This peninsula, which the Federal troops held, is on the Louisiana shore, opposite Vicksburg.
We came in sight of Vicksburg just as the sun was setting, and by the time we had reached the city front everything on the river was enveloped in darkness. As we floated quietly down the stream in our canoe, and gazed at the brilliantly lighted city upon the heights, I thought of the sanguinary deeds there enacted twenty years ago.
Vicksburg is situated on the eastern bank of the Mississippi, at the lower end of the immense Yazoo basin, created by the union of the river of that name with the Mississippi some twelve miles above. It is in the midst of some of the best scenery on the Lower Mississippi, being located on bluffs known as Walnut Hills, which extend for two miles along the river and rise gradually to a height of five hundred feet. It is about midway between Memphis and New Orleans, and is the largest city between them. As seen from the river it presents a highly picturesque appearance, and loses none of its attractiveness on a nearer approach.
Vicksburg, unlike many of the towns and cities on both the Upper and Lower Mississippi, has no history stretching back into a past century. Its existence dates only from 1836, when a planter by the name of Vick settled there and founded the town. Members of his family still reside there. The most interesting event connected with the town is its capture by Grant in 1863.
After a desperate struggle upon the river, New Orleans had capitulated to the Union forces under Farragut and Porter, and on May seventh the surrender of Baton Rouge had been demanded, and the demand had been complied with without any conflict.
On the thirteenth of May, Commander Palmer anchored before Natchez, where no resistance was offered him. His little squadron, consisting of the Iroquois and several gunboats, then proceeded up the river to Vicksburg, four hundred miles above New Orleans. The bluffs were lined with Confederate batteries and a scornful refusal was returned to his demand for a surrender of the city and garrison.
After an unsuccessful bombardment, the Confederate batteries being so strongly posted and so well manned that it was found impossible to reduce them, it was deemed necessary to resort to other methods for the subjugation of the city. Vicksburg is situated on a broad bend in the river, and as the only strategic point of value to the place was its command of the river, the idea was conceived of isolating it by cutting a new channel across the neck of the peninsula formed by the sweep of the river, and thus leave it six miles inland.
On the morning of the twenty-ninth of June, 1862,
371the ground was broken for this canal. It was expected that, were but a narrow channel cut, the force of the current in rushing through it would at once widen and deepen it, and it would thus speedily become the main channel of the Mississippi. Twelve hundred negroes from adjoining plantations volunteered their services, and went to work with a will, chopping, grubbing and digging. By the twenty-second of July the canal was completed, but to the chagrin of those who had planned it the river was then too low to run through it. Nothing remained but to leave Vicksburg in possession of the Confederates, or reduce it by other means.
One portion of the Union fleet was moored near the mouth of the Yazoo and the other portion below Vicksburg, and owing to the threatening attitude of that city with its frowning batteries, communication between them by means of the river was impossible. Meantime, at the Confederate navy-yard, up the Yazoo river, a powerful ironclad ram, named the Arkansas, was in process of construction, and was expected soon to be ready for duty. On the fifteenth of July, before the completion of the canal, the ram came down the river in close pursuit of two Union gunboats, having already driven the Carondelet ashore. All the gunboats of the Union fleet were brought to bear on her, but she successfully ran the fleet, apparently unharmed, and took shelter under the batteries of Vicksburg. It was subsequently learned that her loss was ten killed and fifteen wounded, Captain Brown, her commander, slightly in the head. Her smoke-stack was riddled, but otherwise she was not injured. A general engagement took place between the Union gunboats
372on one side and the Confederate batteries on the other.
It was in the midst of a hot southern summer and the men, one after another, fell sick. A man would be well one day and die before the close of the next. Of the one hundred and thirty men of the mortar fleet, more than one hundred were off duty, while more than one-half the crews of the gunboats were incapacitated by sickness. Farragut decided to drop back to New Orleans and wait for a better time and opportunity to strike an effective blow. The fleet therefore retreated down the river as far as Baton Rouge, where an engagement with the Confederates took place in August. During this engagement the terrible ram, Arkansas, having become disabled, at once became the objective point of the shells from the gunboats. The condensed cotton with which she was packed caught fire and, after all her upper works were destroyed, she blew up with a terrible explosion.
The naval attack upon Vicksburg having failed, General Grant decided upon a siege by land forces, which was commenced on May nineteenth of the following year. He had approached by mining and digging until his batteries were within reach of the city, which he had determined to capture, since such capture would give him control of the railroads and military highways, and enable him to drive Johnson from the State of Mississippi.
The first attack showing but slight results, a simultaneous assault was ordered on May twenty-second. The storming party were cut down by a deadly fire, but persisted, nevertheless, until the men under the command of General Hugh S. Ewing had crossed the
373ditch on the left of the bastion, scrambled up the outer wall and planted the Stars and Stripes near the top. Sergeant Griffith, of the Twenty-second Iowa, with eleven privates, succeeded in effecting an entrance to the bastion on the left, but all except the sergeant paid for their daring with their lives. The assault was kept up with vigor all day, during which three thousand of the besiegers fell.
Within the city the scene was terrible. The noise of the constant cannonading was deafening, and the shells fell like hail. The panic-stricken inhabitants, men, women and children, rushed madly through the streets and sought in vain for a place of shelter.
Vicksburg was now surrounded. The mining was going steadily on. The river was sentinelled by gunboats above and below, while a three-gun battery on the peninsula opposite sent a continuous fire of shell upon the garrison, burning up its shot and shell foundry. The Confederate forts were mined, and countermines were made by the besieged; and the sound of the picks of the hostile armies was heard through the partitions of earth which separated them. Food became scarce within the city, and at the end of six weeks the ammunition gave out and a flag of truce was sent out with a request for an armistice in order to arrange terms of capitulation. Grant, as usual, insisted upon "unconditional surrender," and to that the Confederates finally consented, and on the morning of the Fourth of July, 1863, the Stars and Stripes went up over the captured works. Twenty-seven thousand troops were paraded, supplied with three days' rations, and escorted out of town and across the Big Black on their way to Jackson, the officers
374taking with them their regimental clothing, and the staff, field and cavalry officers, a horse each.
The capture of Vicksburg was one of the most brilliant and important achievements of the war, yielding, as it did, the Mississippi wholly into the hands of the Federal army. It was accomplished by the same military skill and indomitable will which first distinguished themselves at Fort Donelson, and never failed until the fall of Richmond sent a shout of joy throughout the North. Grant was placed at the head of the Northern army, and from that day the Rebellion was doomed.
Vicksburg is now a city of about fourteen thousand inhabitants, and is the chief commercial mart of that section of the Mississippi. It has rallied from the vicissitudes which it suffered during the war, and is now a prosperous, as well as a beautiful city.
Chapter XXIX. — Vicksburg to Natchez.
October 31, 1881.
VICKSBURG has many attractions for the tourist owing to its picturesque position and history, and it was with some reluctance that we returned to our canoe late in the afternoon of the thirty-first. As we paddled out from the shore with thoughts of soon reaching the end of our journey, the Natchez came steaming in and diverted us for the moment to considerations for our safety. She is one of the finest boats plying on the Mississippi, and when plowing the water at a high rate of speed is an object of genuine admiration.
Our trip from Vicksburg to Warrenton, a distance of only eight miles, was uneventful, nothing of special interest being noted on the banks of the river, save here and there a cotton plantation with signs of cheerful and productive industry. A few minutes after our arrival at Warrenton, a small village of one or two hundred souls, we were pleasantly domiciled at the comfortable residence of D. G. Goodrum, a leading
378cotton planter of the neighborhood and proprietor of a general store. Notwithstanding the fact of our being Northerners, the Goodrums were most genial and hearty in their conversation and attentive to our wants. The fall elections were approaching at this time, and a desire that I had long felt, to listen to a political discussion in the South, was gratified during our stay here. We went to the place appointed for the meeting and found the representatives of three parties filling the hall, all eager for the fray. While republicans and black republicans, white democrats and black democrats, white fusionists and black fusionists, stepped upon the platform in turn and indicated, in impressive language, the party and principles of their choice. An old colored man, one of the blackest in the assembly, was called to the chair, which he filled with comparative dignity and impartiality. Having heard and read much of the party wrangles of political opponents in Mississippi, I not unnaturally anticipated a somewhat exciting time. Imagine, therefore, my surprise to witness the "house called to order" by the chair, and the issues of the campaign quietly and intelligently discussed, without any resort to high words, knives or revolvers — a condition of things with which I fear Mississippians have too often been credited by party writers and politicians possessed of more zeal than honesty.
The bitter feeling against the negroes that prevailed shortly after the close of the war which resulted in their emancipation, was no doubt largely due to the prejudices engendered by slavery and the political complications consequent upon their being suddenly placed on an equal footing with their former masters in
379the exercise of their rights as freemen. The sanguinary race-encounters at the polls in the South, reported in the Northern papers since 1865, not unfrequently with much exaggeration, are things of the past — let us hope never to be revived; and, as the years roll by and the rising generation of blacks, with their minds free from the shackles of ignorance as their bodies are from slavery, that the color-line will cease to be an obstacle to political and other preferment, and white and black live together and work for their common good in harmony and peace.
Saint Joseph, Louisiana,
Before resuming our voyage on the following morning we were allowed to inspect a cotton-gin, through the courtesy of Hon. J. W. Goodrum, brother of our host at Warrenton. We had noticed several of these gins on plantations after passing Vicksburg, but this was the first we had seen in operation, and we were much interested by the apparently complicated though really simple process of manipulating the useful vegetable product before its transmission to the manufacturer to be converted into material for clothing.
At Point Pleasant we halted for lunch and made the acquaintance of Albert Bland. After our meal, taken at his commodious store, I had a conversation with him in relation to the political condition of Louisiana. His views were based on intelligent investigation and appeared thoroughly sincere, and although presented from a Southern standpoint, were by no means partisan or illiberal. I left him with a
380most favorable impression on my mind of the growth of a sentiment which bade fair soon to unite all sections of our common country in the bonds of fraternal citizenship.
Grand Gulf, a small village standing on a high bluff, and one of the mouths of Big Black River, were reached at four o'clock in the afternoon. The Big Black takes its rise in Chocktaw County, and after a course of two hundred miles, enters the Mississippi through two mouths, one of which is in Warren County, and the other in Claiborne County at Grand Gulf. Here we disembarked a few minutes after sunset, at the point where General Grant landed during the operations against Bruinberg in 1863. I was kindly received as a guest at the Bondurant Plantation and honored by being assigned to the room formerly occupied by the great general.
Our run for the day was sixty-four miles between nine o'clock in the morning and six in the evening, one of the best heats in our long race to the sea, and a showing to which even a veteran canoeist might possibly refer with some pride. It is due, however, to my companion, Paine, that I should candidly confess that the credit belonged chiefly to his vigorous arms, as he used the double paddle in the bow of the canoe.
Rosedale Landing, Louisiana,
Breakfasted rather late at the Bondurant Plantation, at which our worthy host surprised us with a bountiful mess of fresh perch, caught by negroes in a
381bayou on the estate. Mr. Bondurant entertained us so agreeably and hospitably that we were startled to find it nine o'clock while boarding the Alice. He pushed us out from the landing, while a gathering of white and colored people on the banks waved their caps and cheered us God-speed. On nearing General Zachary Taylor's old plantation, a heavy and protracted rainstorm forced us to pull ashore. Here we were regaled with a generous lunch, and listened to stories of "Old Zach.," related with enthusiasm by colored admirers of the hero; and while the storm lasts and prevents our departure, we will tell the reader what we know of the hero of Buena Vista.
The family tree of this American patriot blossomed long ago on English shores, and the blood of his forefathers is said to have been both ancient and blue. The emigration of the family to Virginia took place in 1692, and the history of that State is inter-threaded in warp and woof with outcroppings of this distinguished name.
General Taylor's father held a colonel's commission in the Revolutionary War, and manfully helped to mould the country towards its future greatness. In 1790, the family moved to Kentucky, when young Zachary was less than a year old, and when the embryo State was little more than a battle-ground for contending tribes of Indians and the bloody wars then raging between the red and white races. Colonel Taylor, the father, bore so conspicuous a part in these early struggles as to render his name a terror to the barbarian foe, and a tower of strength to the settlers whose banner he bore. When peace at last brought repose to the country, he became one of Kentucky's
382leading politicians and public men. He helped frame the constitution of his State, represented Jefferson County and the city of Louisville for years in both branches of the legislature, and voted as a member of the electoral college for Jefferson, Madison, Monroe and Clay. His sons and daughters were left a grand heritage of fame, staunch character, and the true grit which fights for principle against all odds.
The younger Taylor, Zachary, is said to have had a boyhood filled with adventure and touched with the bold characteristics and heroic traits which afterwards distinguished his life. Raised on the frontier, exposed daily and nightly to sudden attacks from the surrounding Indian tribes, in danger of being scalped on his way to school, buffeted by the rough wind of adverse circumstances, he attained a character of strength which no gentler rearing could give. His opportunities for the discipline of the schools were meagre enough, but his great will-power and untiring perseverance enabled him to master an education where others would have failed.
In 1808, when the embers of the on-coming war were being fanned into flame and the capture of the United States Frigate Chesapeake by a British ship of war sent a thrill of indignation through the country, young Taylor made application to Jefferson for a commission in the army, and, on the third of May in that year, was created first-lieutenant in the Seventh Regiment, United States Infantry. In 1812, he was promoted to a captaincy, and having been placed in command of Fort Harrison, on the Wabash, about fifty miles above Vincennes, Indiana, he successfully repelled an attack of savages greatly outnumbering his
383own little band, and by his skilful strategy and heroism, covered his youthful name with glory. It was within an hour of midnight when the Fort was fired and the attack commenced. Surrounded by a yelling horde of four hundred and fifty Indians, this boy-captain calmly gave his orders amid the rushing of the flames and the cries of women and children inside, who had sought the protection of the Fort. By heroic efforts the flames were extinguished, temporary breastworks were erected and such a storm of shot poured into the enemy's ranks that by morning they were overpowered, and Captain Taylor and his men were left victors of the field. The country resounded with the praises of this officer of only twenty-two years, and the brave defence won for him the brevet rank of major.
During the years intervening between 1815 and 1832, Major Taylor was stationed at various frontier posts in the West and rendered efficient service. He had been promoted to the rank of lieutenant-colonel, and in the last-named year was appointed commander of the regular troops in the Black Hawk War. At the close of this war he received the appointment of colonel of the First Regiment, Infantry, then doing duty on the Upper Mississippi. Here he acted as Indian agent for several years, and acquired great influence over his dusky brethren, being known among them as the "Big Chief." In 1836, having been ordered to Florida, the brilliant and bloody battle of Okee-cho-bee was fought, in which Colonel Taylor so distinguished himself as to receive the brevet rank of brigadier-general. He was assigned command of the operations in Florida, and continued there until 1840, taking four years of difficult service in that particular field.
During this Florida war, General Taylor was censured for employing bloodhounds to ascertain the hiding-places of the wily foe; but the censure was ill-considered, since he himself said, in a letter on the subject, that his object in employing dogs was to "ascertain where the Indians were, not to injure them."
The admission of Texas into the Union, in 1845 having virtually brought on the Mexican War, General Taylor became at once one of the most prominent actors in that great military drama.
He was recalled by the Secretary of War, Mr. Marcy, from Louisiana to the defence of Texas, and appointed to the command of the army of occupation there. In August, he took up his position at Corpus Christi, on the west side of the Nueces, where he remained until March, 1846, at which time he went to the Rio Grande, as far as Fort Brown — or where Fort Brown afterwards stood — a distance of one hundred and nineteen miles.
Ampudia remonstrated against the blockade of the Rio Grande in vain, and thus matters progressed until the war was fairly inaugurated. General Arista had succeeded Ampudia in the command of the Mexican forces and on one or two minor occasions — when small detachments of Americans had been surrounded and captured by overwhelming numbers — he issued the most astonishing congratulatory orders, proclaiming the success of their arms. But this inflated bubble of bombast was doomed to be pricked.
Taylor advanced to Point Isabel and soon afterwards the bloody battle of Palo Alto was fought. For two hours the havoc raged with unceasing fury, and regiments of Mexican lancers and cavalry were mowed
387down like grass before the heavy fire of our artillery. The long prairie grass of Palo Alto, which reached nearly to the muzzle of the guns, was set on fire by the continuous sheet of flame issuing from our cannon, and enveloped the contending armies in a cloud of smoke. At the end of two hours a new battle line was formed under cover of the smoke and the conflict was renewed with increased vigor. For three hours longer the fighting continued. Again and again the Mexican line advanced to the onset with a brave front and were as many times hurled back in defeat. Arista endeavored to turn our flank and get possession of the stores in our rear, but his efforts were parried by more skilful resistance, and at last, as night set in, the enemy were driven in disorder from the field, and the Americans held a clear title of victory to the grounds of Palo Alto. At this battle two thousand men under General Taylor confronted and defeated six thousand Mexicans. The enemy's loss in killed, wounded and missing was estimated at one thousand. The memorable day was that of May eighth, 1846.
General Taylor is said to have exhibited an utter disregard of danger when in battle, always inspiring his men by his presence where the balls flew thickest and death seemed most imminent. At Palo Alto, he rode up to the Fifth Infantry on the American right as the Mexican Lancers charged down upon them, and addressed them in these words: "Men, I place myself in your square!" How much this act influenced the gallant repulse of the charge, who can tell?
The brilliant victory of Resaca de la Palma, in which General La Vega was captured, followed Palo Alto on the next day, and was almost or quite as hotly
388contested and perhaps quite as bloody. Arista's camp was captured with all its prodigal display of military grandeur and profuse splendor of equipage, and the American army partook of a bountiful supper from the contents of the camp-kettles simmering on the fires, left in such sudden haste when the panic came on. The tricolor of the Tampico Battalion was also captured and is still preserved among the nation's trophies of war. During the engagement General Taylor seemed to be everywhere at once as the inspiring and sustaining spirit of the great action. His official report of the affair is full of a clear sagacity as well as great modesty and reveals the character of the man.
The two victories of Palo Alto and Resaca de la Palma were all the more praiseworthy from the fact that the American army on these occasions contended against a force four times its number, and nothing but superior skill and generalship, added to well-disciplined troops, could have braved the repeated and furious onsets of the Mexicans. General Ampudia, second in command to Arista, barely escaped drowning while crossing the Rio Grande in the disorderly retreat which followed the battle. He rushed into the Plaza of Metamoras — the first man who entered the city with the news — exclaiming, "All is lost!"
On that night of terrible repulse to the enemy, between four and five thousand panic-stricken and lawless soldiers, were wandering about the streets of Metamoras, abandoned to the despair of the hour. Ampudia denounced Arista, and the women of the city tore down the festoons from the ball-rooms where they had prepared a festival in honor of the expected victory — and then threw aside and trampled upon their
389gay apparel. Citizens fled to the country, only perhaps to fall by the way into the hands of pillagers and murderers or scattered bodies of unorganized troops. Neither social nor civil nor military order had any place in this carnival of riot and confusion.
On the eleventh, there was an exchange of prisoners, among whom on our side were Captains Thornton and Hardee and Lieutenant Lane.
The Mexican army was now in full retreat and our successes were followed up by crossing the Rio Grande, taking possession of Metamoras and giving to the inhabitants of that city the security and protection which their own troops were unable to furnish. Here General Taylor was obliged to wait for reinforcements and wagons for a period of about three months before he could advance to the attack of Monterey. The Mexicans, meantime, had become strongly intrenched behind the natural and artificial fortifications of that walled city with an opposing force of ten thousand men, under command of Ampudia. The rugged heights of Monterey were supposed to be impregnable. For ten years it had been held by a handful of native troops, defying the Spanish power. To attempt its reduction would be to rush into the very jaws of death — for their guns commanded the entire approach. Yet against this famous stronghold General Taylor confidently advanced with a force of but six thousand men. After a march of twelve days he came in sight of the beautiful city enthroned among its mountains.
Thick stone walls environed it. Ditches and redoubts and bastions and a river in its rear, protected it. But the attack was skilfully undertaken, the city was stormed and in a few days the vaunted fortress of the
390Aztecs — the strongest save Vera Cruz in all Mexico — was in our hands. The generalship of Taylor on this occasion has been lauded everywhere, and well does his memory deserve the highest tribute paid to military genius.
Meantime Santa Anna had returned from exile at Havana, and gathering around him a force of twenty-two thousand men, set out from San Louis Potosi to drive back the Americans. This army Taylor met on the field of Buena Vista — eight miles from Saltillo — with a volunteer soldiery — Scott having drawn off most of the regulars for other points. Our troops were formed in line of battle in a mountain-pass under the towering peaks of the Sierra Madre, two thousand feet high. They occupied a lower spur of the range and advancing up the mountain side, their continuous firing after the battle had begun, wrapped the ascent in a sheet of smoky flame. The contest raged furiously along the whole line, and thrice during the ten hours of terrible conflict did the balance of victory seem to hang by a single thread — the immense numbers of the Mexicans almost insuring our defeat.
But the victory was at last ours though won at a fearful cost of life. How could it be otherwise when five thousand Americans were pitted against an enemy twenty thousand strong? "Throughout the action General Taylor was where the shot fell hottest and thickest, two of which pierced his clothes."
When a canister shot tore through the breast of his coat he remarked coolly that "those balls are growing excited."
At one time during the fray he watched the fighting of some Kentucky regiments — his own State troops —
391supposing them to be faltering; then, learning his mistake and seeing them advance in solid phalanx, he couldn't help shouting, "Hurrah for old Kentuck!" while tears of joy ran down his cheeks.
"And thus on Buena Vista's heights, a long day's work was done, And thus our brave old general another battle won; And still our glorious banner waves unstained by flight or shame, And the Mexicans among their hills still tremble at our name. So honour unto those that stood! Disgrace to those that fled! And everlasting honor to the brave and gallant dead!"
The military exploits of General Taylor were indeed glorious, but these could not outshine his tender-heartedness, his humanity and his noble qualities as a man. The fall of Hardin and McKee and Lincoln and young Clay, besides many others of his personal friends, affected him deeply, and drew forth heartfelt words of sympathy to the grief-stricken families.
After the battles of Palo Alto and Resaca de la Palma, Taylor received the appointment of major-general, which was confirmed by Congress, and he was constituted commander-in-chief of all the forces in Mexico — a position which he held until Scott was ordered to that country in 1846.
One of Taylor's personal peculiarities was an aversion to uniforms or full dress of any description; and in summer he delighted in cotton pantaloons, straw hat and linen roundabout. In character he was every inch the general. No emergency, however great, overthrew him. If dangers arose, he confronted them; if difficulties, he became their master. Superior in judgment, superior in tactical skill and strategy, prompt and decisive in action, he has conquered a name and fame in the four desperate battles of the
392Mexican War, which has won for him laurels of deathless renown.
The Alice, having been carried up to the plantation house at Rosedale the previous evening was born back to the river this morning on the shoulders of three burly negroes, who seemed very proud of the opportunity of rendering a service to the Northern strangers.
We found the aspect of the country very much changed as we approached Natchez. Large and well-tilled plantations protected by levees now skirted the river-banks, while occasional forests of dense green, heavily draped with Spanish moss, threw dark shadows on our watery path.
Soon after landing at Natchez we had the pleasure of attending a political meeting at which the Hon. L. Q. C. Lamar was the principal speaker, and were very much impressed by the liberal sentiments to which he gave expression. The senator spoke in advocacy of General Lowry, the democratic candidate for governor. Among other things, my memory recalls the following: "As they had accepted the situation at the close of the war they should act in good faith and endeavor to adapt themselves to the circumstances in which they were now placed and which followed the arbitrament to which they had succumbed. Northern men and Northern capitalists should be encouraged to come South and made welcome to join
395them in the development of their industries and commercial enterprises. It was their duty to do all in their power to promote the growth of good feeling between the sections and show the people of the North that they were now not less loyal to the old flag than those who had carried it through the war." The remainder of the speech was in the same liberal and enlightened strain. After the meeting at the Court House, I saw Senator Lamar in the parlor of the Foster House and conversed with him on the subject of the contest in which he was engaged. I also explained to him the nature and extent of my voyage, in which he appeared much interested.
Few towns or cities of the Mississippi are so rich in historical interest as Natchez, situated on the eastern bank of the river, two hundred and eighty miles north of New Orleans. The city is divided into two sections, known as Natchez-on-the-hill and Natchez-under-the-hill. The latter is built on a narrow strip of land between the bluff and the river, and includes the landings and principal business houses. It possesses neither architectural nor scenic beauty. It was formerly the resort of gamblers, river thieves and other desperate characters. Jim Bludsoe, the hero of one of Hays' poems, we are told, had
And another one here in Pike."
Broad and well-shaded roads connect it with Natchez-on-the-hill, which is beautifully located on a cliff nearly two hundred feet high overlooking the river. The latter has abundance of shade trees, and many handsome residences and other buildings. The houses
396are principally of brick, and surrounded by ample and attractive gardens.
Along the whole front of the city, on the brow of the cliff, is a park from which fine views can be obtained up and down the river. Adjoining this park is a National Cemetery, laid out and decorated in a tasteful manner. The Court House is in a public square, shaded with trees, and the Masonic Temple is a handsome building. The Catholic Cathedral has a spire one hundred and twenty-eight feet high, and there are other churches worthy of notice.
Natchez is the shipping-port of a large and fertile cotton region, and holds commercial intercourse with the whole Mississippi Valley. Its population in 1860 was 13,553. But the blockade of the Mississippi and the general prostration of business in the South during the Rebellion affected the city disastrously, so that even at the conclusion of the war it did not at once recover, and in 1870 its population had decreased to about 10,000. Since that time it has been gradually regaining lost ground, and is now on the road to prosperity.
The early history of Natchez is full of incident interwoven with romance. Before the white man set foot on the shores of the American continent it was the home of a tribe of Indians from which it takes its name. The Natchez Indians were a superior race, and may have been descendants of the Mound Builders, since their religion was that of fire-worship, which was evidently that of the prehistoric inhabitants of America. Their ceremonies were not unlike those of the fire-worshippers of Persia. Fire was kept perpetually burning upon the altar of the Temple of the Sun, and
397this fire they believed originally descended to them heaven. A short time before the appearance of the white man this fire accidentally went out, and great were their mourning and dismay, as they believed the accident foreboded some great misfortune to their tribe. Filled with the remembrance of this evil women, they made but a feeble struggle against the encroachments of the French, and were easily dislodged from the territory. In extreme cases they offered human sacrifices to appease the wrath of their deity.
In 1700, D'Iberville, whose exploits in America were not confined to Louisiana, but began in the provinces of New York and Newfoundland, proceeded up the Mississippi in order to explore the country and form friendly alliances with the native tribes. He visited the Natchez country, and decided it was the most favorable for the establishment of a colony, and on the bluff where Natchez now stands, he located the site of the future capital and built a fort. The exact location of this fort is now a matter of dispute. Some contend that it was at the back of the present town, and others that Ellis Bluffs marks the spot. While D'Iberville was there, one of the temples was struck by lightning and set on fire. The Indians were frightened, believing it to be a manifestation of anger by their deity, and the high priest besought the squaws to throw their little ones into the fire, in order to appease him. Four infants were thus sacrificed before D'Iberville could prevail upon them to desist.
The Great Sun, king of the Natchez tribe, was very friendly, and gave the French permission not only to build a fort, but to establish a trading-post. The latter, however, was not immediately done.
Sixteen years later no permanent settlement had been effected at Natchez. A feeling of unfriendliness had been engendered between the Indians and whites, and several of the latter had been murdered. And now romance unites with matter-of-fact in the history of the city. The daughter of Cardillac, then royal governor of Louisiana, fell in love with Bienville, who, though a young man, was in a certain sense the rival of her father. Cardillac was at first infuriated that one of her birth and rank should bestow her affections upon a mere adventurer, and a Canadian. He remonstrated with his daughter, but she grew so pale and thin that at last he was frightened into acquiescence with her wishes. Inviting Bienville to an audience, he offered him the olive branch of reconciliation, and the hand of his daughter as the guarantee of his good will. Bienville received the communication respectfully, but declined the honor intended him. In retaliation for the slight, Cardillac at once ordered him to the Natchez country to build a fort and punish the murderers of the Canadians, who had lost their lives at the hands of the Indians. "What!" exclaimed Bienville, "do you really intend to send me with thirty-four men to encounter a hostile tribe numbering eight hundred warriors?" But Cardillac was obdurate, and Bienville and his little force set out on their mad expedition.
In April, 1716, Bienville and his small company encamped on an island a little more than fifty miles distant from the Natchez, and sent to them word that he was going to establish a fort and trading-post among them. After a little demur, and the exchange of several communications, the Indian chiefs, deceived
399by the apparent friendliness, and believing the murder of the Canadians still unknown, visited Bienville on the island. They were immediately made prisoners, and finally, after exacting and receiving the heads of the murderers, two of them were put to death.
The Indians, thus intimidated, concluded a treaty of peace, and on the arrival of Bienville at Natchez, assisted in cutting the ditches, raising the parapets and bastions of the new fort, and in constructing the buildings to be occupied by the French. This fort was called Rosalie, and the ruins of it are still visible. The ground which it occupies is, however, gradually sinking, being undermined by subterranean springs, and soon it will have entirely disappeared. The depth of the artificial earth works, subsequently added, is plainly discernible, in the distinctly-marked strata of earth.
Bienville returned in triumph to New Orleans, to resume the government of that colony in the absence of De l' Epenay, who had been appointed to succeed Cardillac. The latter, on his way up the river, searching for gold and silver, stopped at Natchez, and was cordially received by the chiefs, who presented to him their calumet in token of peace. Scorning their offers of friendship, he treated them contemptuously, and as a result difficulties broke out afresh between the French and Indians, and Cardillac was summarily recalled by Crozat.
In 1729, the Indians massacred all the settlers of the Natchez country, including the colonies on the Saint Catherine, on the Yazoo, the Washita and near the present town of Monroe. More than two hundred men were killed, and ninety-two women and one
400hundred and fifty-five children taken prisoners. A war was the result, in which the Natchez were dispersed, and practically annihilated as a tribe. A few years ago a small remnant of this tribe still existed in Texas, its members exceedingly proud of their lineage.
The subsequent vicissitudes of the settlement were only such as were endured by all frontier towns. As the country became populated, Natchez became prosperous, and up to the period of the war was one of the most thriving cities of the Lower Mississippi. As the resources of the South are developed, and its productive capacity increased, Natchez will share its prosperity, and become an index of its material advancement.
Chapter XXX. — Natchez to Baton Rouge.
Near Fairview, Louisiana,
November 4, 1881.
WE had fully intended to leave Natchez at an early hour in the morning; but I was drawn into a conversation concerning the late war, on learning that a brother of the Misses Foster was killed in an action with Kilpatrick's cavalry. Supposing that I would be likely to know some particulars of their brother's death, they plied me with many inquiries which ultimately led to a general discussion of our cavalry movements in Virginia.
It was nearly ten o'clock when we pushed out from Natchez, but aided by an unusually strong current we covered our average distance for the day.
Being ignorant of the country in our advance, we made a miscalculation as to the evening destination and experienced some difficulty in effecting a landing late at night, which ended in our being compelled to seek quarters at a negro cabin or accept the alternative of remaining on the river, perhaps until daylight. We
404were not easily reconciled to our accommodation on this occasion, but had become so thoroughly accustomed to roughing it that we at length adjusted ourselves to circumstances, and "slept on our arms," as soldiers would express it, on the floor of the cabin, with a few old rags scattered over the boards and our blankets for covering. It should, however, be stated to the credit of our colored host, that he provided the best at his disposal, and with a generosity that commanded our admiration.
We found very little rest in the cabin of Benjamin Franklin Williams, owing to the progress of a religious revival in the vicinity. Mrs. Williams went to class-meeting after supper, and did not return until between two and three o'clock in the morning; then, upon her return, her husband joined her in a review of their work in the cause of the Gospel, and together, they spent in this way the remainder of the night. I may add that I have learned from some experience among colored people, that when they are once enlisted in religious work, their zeal is unbounded, and they are ceaseless in their endeavors to convert others.
Bayou Tunica, Louisiana,
In anticipation of very shortly making the mouth of the Red River, the last tributary of the Mississippi, we breakfasted at six o'clock, and a few minutes later pushed the Alice into her element, and were soon out of sight of our friends at Fairview. In less than an hour we were off the mouth of the Red
405and soon after met the steamer Henry Frank, engaged in the cotton trade between Natchez and New Orleans.
Red River rises in Texas, and flows east and then south, dividing Texas from Indian Territory and Arkansas. It then passes into Louisiana, flowing southeast until it falls into the Mississippi. Its length is about twelve hundred miles. Small steamers ascend it as far as Shreveport, Louisiana, three hundred and thirty miles from its mouth. The "Raft," an immense collection of trees and drift-wood, about fifteen miles long, had long obstructed the navigation; but in 1873, a navigable channel was opened through its entire length. Red River receives its name from its peculiar color, supposed to be derived from the red clay through which its upper course lies. In Louisiana it sends off numerous bayous, which find their way back again to the main stream, forming frequent lakes.
Arrived at Tunica Landing, we were very cordially received by Mr. John J. Winn and family. Mr. Winn is an enterprising merchant and cotton planter, and we found him an exceedingly affable and courteous host.
Tunica Landing, Louisiana,
The weather being rainy, with strong southerly wind, Mr. Winn easily persuaded us to remain another day at Tunica. Had the weather been more favorable we should either have continued our voyage, or accepted Mr. Winn's pressing invitation to join him in an alligator hunt — the chief sport of this section
406of Louisiana. Our host informed us that he had shot as many as seventeen of these creatures in one day among the bayous of his plantation.
The steamers Natchez and Robert E. Lee stopped at Tunica in the afternoon on their way up the river. Mr. Winn took me on board the latter and introduced me to several of the officers. Let me add that the Winns were untiring in their efforts to make our stay at their home in every respect agreeable, and it is but a slight recognition of their hospitality to say that they succeeded admirably.
It was with a feeling of regret that we parted with the Winns and paddled away from Tunica at nine o'clock in the morning. Mr. and Mrs. Winn, their clerks and the colored people of the hamlet were present at the launch.
The weather was still unsettled, while a high wind from the southward greatly retarded our progress. Seeing no plantation-houses or villages, between twelve and one o'clock we disembarked, and refreshed ourselves with coffee, corn-bread and bacon at a negro cabin about three miles above Bayou Sara, a flourishing village, which we passed at three o'clock. Twelve miles below Bayou Sara we passed Port Hudson, noted for important military events during the Civil War; and, late in the afternoon, met the United States mail steamer, Morning Star, the officers and crew of which honored us with a salute. Waterloo, a
407village of five hundred souls, was reached a few minutes after sundown, the dilapidated appearance of which led us to the reflection that a "great battle" had possibly been fought in its immediate vicinity.
Near Plaquemine, Louisiana,
Our run of November eighth led us through one of the richest sugar-producing sections of the State. Dotted here and there along the river's banks are the picturesque homes of the planters, made more attractive by the tropical vegetation, the clustering vines, blooming roses and bright green turf, than they could ever be from mere architectural beauty, while their continuous course along the shore gives the idea of an extended and prosperous village. We were welcomed to the Eliza Plantation, by its proprietors, Messrs. V. U. Lefebre & Son, who are counted among the wealthiest sugar planters of Plaquemine Parish, owning and controlling three large plantations.
This was our first experience on a sugar plantation, and I made the most of my opportunity. We were shown the cane-field and sugar-mill, and every detail was explained, from the cutting of the cane to the refining process, which leaves this useful product in condition for the market.
The sugar-cane varies in height from six to fifteen feet and upwards, and in diameter from one and a half to two inches. Its stalk is knotty. The roots are slender, about a foot in length, and furnished with a few short fibres. There are twelve or fifteen leaves at
408the top arranged like a fan. The sugar-cane requires a nutritious soil and a tropical or sub-tropical climate. It is propagated by slips, and requires from twelve to sixteen months to arrive at maturity. The leaves fall off before flowering, and the stem then becomes of a straw color. After the cane harvest the roots strike again and produce a fresh crop, but in about six years they must be removed. The canes are cut in dry weather. They should have a smooth skin, considerable weight, grayish pith and a sweet glutinous juice. The lowest joint contains the richest juice. The canes are tied up in bundles and sent to the crushing-mill. The cane-mill usually consists of three massive cast-iron rollers, about six inches in diameter. The juice passes into a channel below, and thence to a reservoir. From twelve to fourteen tons of good ripe cane produce about fifteen hundred gallons of juice, which are required for making one hogshead of sugar.
The juice of the cane is simply a solution of sugar in water. It is usually of a yellow color, but is sometimes colorless. It has an agreeable but rather insipid taste. The exposure of the juice to the air, even for half an hour, would cause fermentation to set in; lime is therefore immediately added for the purpose of neutralizing the acid. The process of refining is of too technical a nature to be popularly explained in a work of this character.
On the opposite, or eastern side of the river, stands Baton Rouge, one hundred and seventeen miles above New Orleans, and formerly the capital of Louisiana. It was one of the first French settlements on the Lower Mississippi, and had been previously the seat of an old Indian village. The city is built on a bluff
409twenty feet above the highest inundations, and is well and substantially erected. Plantations of sugar-cane, groves of tropical fruit trees and handsome villas with gardens, border the river at the foot of the bluff, the villas being, in some cases, of elegant architectural proportions. A National arsenal and barracks, a military hospital, the State Penitentiary and Deaf and Dumb Asylum, are located here, and the Louisiana State University was temporarily removed to this city after its edifice was burned in 1869. In the Civil War the city was occupied by the Federal troops after the capture of New Orleans. On August fifth, 1862, General Williams was attacked at Baton Rouge by the Confederates, under General Breckenridge. The Union general was killed, but the assailants, after a fierce contest, were repulsed. The city is advantageously situated for navigation and commerce, and has at present a population of about ten or twelve thousand.
Chapter XXXI. — Baton Rouge to New Orleans.
R. E. LEE HOTEL,
November 9, 1881.
WHERE was so much of interest to be seen on the Lefebre plantations that it was nearly eleven o'clock when we again turned our faces towards the river.
Donaldsonville was not reached until long after dark, and having been incorrectly informed as to the best point for landing, we found much difficulty in getting ashore. This is a small place of less than five thousand inhabitants, seventy-five miles above New Orleans. It has received but little recognition in the general history of the country, but is, nevertheless, a growing city and worthy of more attention than it appears to have hitherto attracted.
During the Civil War Donaldsonville fell into the possession of the Federals, who erected a small earth-work with a garrison of one hundred and eighty men of the Twenty-eighth Maine, under the command of Major D. Mullen. At 1.30 A. M. of June twenty-eighth, 1862, the Confederates attacked the work, but
411in the darkness there was a good deal of confusion in their movements. They were defeated by the combined action of the little garrison and three gunboats in the river, the affair lasting until daylight; with result of sixty-nine Confederate dead and one hundred and twenty prisoners.
Saint John Parish, Louisiana,
Started from Donaldsonville in a rain storm, which continued until late in the evening. I was frequently and forcibly reminded of our up-river experiences between Saint Paul and La Crosse, where we were thoroughly drenched daily for more than a week.
Nothing of special interest was noted in this day's log. The rain continuing to descend in torrents rendered the journey anything but pleasant, and the view of the banks was partially obscured by dark, overhanging clouds that portended an uninterrupted downpour and a soaking to the skin. Rice and sugar-plantations were just observable through the mist, at intervals of three or four miles on both sides of the river, and it may be stated that these were the first cultivated rice-fields we had witnessed.
Wishing to cover as much ground as possible, we remained in our canoe until eight o'clock in the evening and then, on pulling ashore, sought shelter from the rain under the first roof we came to, which proved to be another negro cabin.
I cannot say too much in praise of the genuine
412hospitality of the negroes we came in contact with in the South. Always ready and eager to do their utmost to please us, they were unselfish to a degree. It was but poor accommodation they could offer, and they were fully conscious of this; but, poor as it was, the demonstrations of cordial welcome with which it was tendered made us feel thankful to have found such friends.
The storm which followed as to our quarters on the night of the tenth greeted us again in the morning, and again continued with us through the day. Rice-fields, sugar-plantations and an occasional orange-grove were seen from the canoe. The high banks, which had hitherto greatly obstructed our view of scenery adjacent to the river, had now entirely disappeared. In fact, the river seemed higher as we descended, and its surface was nearly, if not quite, on a level with the land.
Anxious to reach New Orleans before dark, we refreshed ourselves with a cold lunch at midday as we floated along with the current, past Saint Charles, a small town on the west bank of the river.
We found it impossible to reach New Orleans at a seasonable hour in consequence of the strong wind from the south which impeded our progress from the time of re-embarking in the morning until we stepped ashore at night. The great depth of the river, too, was an obstacle to rapid progress, as a heavy sea is always sure to result from high winds and deep water.
413The idea of reaching New Orleans before dark was abandoned late in the afternoon, when we discovered that we could only hope to make Carrollton by a most vigorous use of our paddles. The night of November eleventh was one of unusual darkness, and when the river front of Carrollton was reached, where we found a swift current and an indifferent landing, our canoe came very near being capsized, as a friendly citizen caught the bow and pulled us up the bank.
Carrollton, on the left bank of the river, is in Jefferson Parish, and adjoins New Orleans. It contains the Court House and public buildings of the parish, and is connected with the centre of New Orleans by streetcars which start every three minutes. The public gardens of Carrollton attract many visitors from the Crescent City and the country immediately adjacent. The town supports a weekly society paper.
Since passing Saint Louis we had looked forward to the great Southern seaport as the chief object of attraction on the Lower Mississippi. Its early history, rapid development and present commercial importance combine to place it among the foremost cities of the continent. It was now in full view and the goal of our voyage not far distant.
Before proceeding, however, to our final destination in the Gulf, I must pause to give the reader some account of this great and flourishing city of New Orleans. It is on the left side of the river — with the exception of the annexed town of Algiers, which is on the right bank — and is about one hundred and twelve miles above its mouth, nine hundred and fifty-three miles below the mouth of the Ohio, and eleven hundred and forty-nine below the mouth of the Missouri.
414It embraces nearly the whole of Orleans Parish, with parts of Jefferson and Plaquemine, reaching on the north and east to Lakes Ponchartrain and Borgne. It derives its name of "The Crescent City" from the circumstance that the older portion of it is built within a great bend of the river. In the progress of its growth up stream it has now so extended itself as to follow long curves in opposite directions, so that the river front on the left bank presents an outline somewhat resembling the letter S.
The city is built on an inclined plane descending gently from the river toward the swamp in the rear, so that when the Mississippi is full, the streets are three or four feet below the surface of the river. To prevent inundations an embankment, called the Levee, has been raised at great expense. This Levee is fifteen feet wide and fourteen feet high, and is constructed for a great distance along the river bank. The view of the city from the river is beautiful, and, on entering it, I found it difficult to realize that I had arrived at an American city. The buildings, the manners, customs and language of the people are so different; the population being very nearly equally made up of Americans, French, Creoles and Spaniards, with a mixture of almost every nation of the globe.
New Orleans bears not only the evidence of its American and nineteenth century civilization, but it also still retains traces of its French and Spanish dominion, and of the old world civilization which those nations have left behind them. For nearly a century New Orleans, though located on the American continent, was European in its appearance and sympathies. In 1712 Crozat was granted by Louis XIV.,
415the exclusive privilege for fifteen years of trading in the then unknown, and literally boundless, territory of Louisiana. At that period, for every two shiploads of European immigrants a shipload of negroes was brought from Africa, and thus slavery was planted in the colony. Then came the great John Law scheme. A gigantic bubble was blown; the Loyal Bank sprang into existence; the charter of the Mississippi Company was registered at Paris, and Louisiana was represented in Europe as the long-sought El Dorado. Emigrants flocked to its shores, only to be disappointed and impoverished. The bubble burst, and with its bursting came the reaction. The pendulum swung to the other extreme, and the evil report of the colony matched that which but a short time previously had been said in its favor. Louisiana was now represented as the rendezvous of beggars, thieves and murderers, but the privations and terrors of its inhabitants were greatly magnified.
In the midst of this depression, Bienville selected the present site of New Orleans for a capital of the province over which he was governor. The site was surveyed in 1717, and the first settlement made in the following year. But flood, pestilence and famine came, so that it was not until 1723 that the settlement became permanent. In the same year the seat of government was removed from New Biloxi to the later settlement, which, in honor of the Regent of France, was called New Orleans.
The city was in the midst of a swamp, surrounded by a dense, rugged forest. The small, cleared space which was occupied was frequently inundated; and to dispose of the surplus water, which was always present,
416each street was bordered by a ditch, which cut up the town into small squares. These ditches were filled with stagnant water, swamp mud and refuse matter, and, under the burning sun, sent up offensive and poisonous odors. Reeds and swamp grasses grew to the very doors of the residences, and the toll of the vesper bells and the croaking of the frogs from the neighboring swamps mingled and harmonized in a mighty chorus.
The inhabitants, some of them representing the best blood of France, maintained in this noisome spot and in their rude dwellings the courtly manners which they had brought with them from their distant homes. Stately ladies walked the miry streets in pairs — for in those days etiquette would permit no lady to appear in public without a duenna. Monks and nuns stole silently along and were familiar objects upon the streets. The little cross-surmounted edifices set apart for the ceremonies of their religion daily summoned their worshippers, and no religion save the Roman Catholic was tolerated. The streets were named after princes of the royal blood: Toulouse, Bourbon, Conde, Chatres and Conti. Above the city, on the banks of the Mississippi, titled and Wealthy French families had established themselves and lived lives of ease and pleasure.
Occasionally the English threatened the little French colony, but were compelled to turn back before reaching the city; for the French pioneers, though a happy-go-lucky race, content with enjoying to-day and permitting tomorrow to take care of itself, were good soldiers, and very frequently successful in their military operations. They conquered and dispersed the
417warlike Natchez, the most superior Indian tribe which existed upon this continent when it was discovered. They held the English at bay and proved too much for the Spaniards, until, in 1777, the king of France, in a fit of generosity, bestowed upon his "cousin of Spain" the splendid gift of Louisiana, ceding it "without any exception or reservation whatever, from the pure impulse of his generous heart," thus, by a single stroke of the pen, depriving France of a province of untold and, at that period, unimagined wealth, for Louisiana embraced all the territory from the Gulf of Mexico and Mexico on the south, to the English possessions on the north, and from the Mississippi to the Pacific.
The French settlers rebelled against Spanish rule, but in the end had to submit to it. Then came a succession of Spanish governors and Spanish colonists, who have left their traces in quaint balconied houses and little touches of Moorish architecture. In 1789, Don Andre Almonastre, "Perpetual Regidor of New Orleans," built the Cathedral of Saint Louis, which was replaced in 1850 by the present structure, as ugly as it is modern in architecture.
Then, in 1803, Louisiana became again French, but the rejoicings of the Creole inhabitants had scarcely begun before they were turned into waitings by the unexpected sale of the province by Napolpeon I. to the United States. Thus all the domain west of the Mississippi was purchased for $15,000,000. "Spanish they might become, but English never!" was Napoleon's dictum, and hence the sale. The inhabitants and settlers resented the transfer and resolutely withdrew within their own quarters, refusing to become
418American citizens under the new regime. But again they were helpless.
Under the United States rule New Orleans made such progress as it had never done in the past. Its commercial interests were built up and there was a large influx of population. Only the following year it was incorporated as a city, and in 1810 its population had increased to more than seventeen thousand. Forty years later it numbered one hundred and sixteen thousand inhabitants, and in 1860 nearly one hundred and seventy thousand.
Then came the terrible years of the Civil War, when all its business was prostrated and it was contended for by two opposing armies. In the second year of the war the city was strongly fortified. Sixty miles below it, on the Mississippi, Fort Philip, on the left, and Fort Jackson, on the right, were two strong citadels, with a united armament of one hundred and twenty-six guns. The river was seven hundred yards wide, and an iron cable stretched across it, and, supported by rafts and eleven hulks securely moored, presented an effectual barrier. A fleet of thirteen gunboats, including the iron-clad battery Louisiana and the ram Manassas, was covered by the guns of the forts, while water-batteries swept the channel above. The city was held under General Lovell, while Commander G. N. Hollis directed the naval armament.
These protections of the city were considered impregnable, and one of the newspapers of April fifth, 1862, published the following: "Our only fear is that the Northern invaders may not appear. We have made such extensive preparations to receive them that it were vexatious if their invincible armada escape the fate we have in store for it."
The mortar fleet, under Commodore Porter, and the gunboat fleet, under Commodore Farragut, commenced a bombardment on April eighteen. The fleet embraced forty-six vessels, with three hundred guns and mortars but no iron-clads. The bombardment lasted six days and was heard at New Orleans, sixty miles distant. On the night of the twentieth boats passed up the river through a break in the raft. The Confederate squadron descended to meet them, but was destroyed within two hours. Twelve of the Federal boats passed the forts without injury and proceeded up towards the city.
When the news reached New Orleans the greatest consternation prevailed. Bells were rung and the people crowded the streets in a panic. Lovell immediately ordered the evacuation of the city. When this order went forth, the Confederates in their anger set fire to the rafts and shipping on the river and to private and public buildings. The city was surrendered to the Union forces, and the forts, which had already been silenced by the fleet, were compelled to capitulate. General Benjamin F. Butler's land force, having disembarked at Ponchartrain, took possession of New Orleans.
When the war was ended. New Orleans was found to have undergone a social as well as a political revolution. Slavery was no more, and slaveholders were bankrupt. Wealthy families had lost their all. Ladies who had enjoyed large incomes before the war now found themselves forced to open boarding-houses or engage in menial occupations in order to support themselves and their families. Young women daintily brought up, and who had every want supplied by
420others, were compelled to seek some kind of employment for their daily bread. Those who had been so fortunate as to preserve their property, converted it into money and took it away with them to Europe. Only those remained who had no money with which to go.
Such was the dark outlook, but prospects presently began to brighten. Business interests looked up. Fresh blood and fresh capital found their way into avenues of trade and New Orleans is more prosperous to-day than it was at any time in the past, and ranks in its exports and foreign commerce next to New York.
New Orleans to-day presents a strange compound of the past and present. Canal street separates the French quarter from the modern American city. This street, which is the main business thoroughfare and promenade, once had a canal running through it connecting the Mississippi with Lake Ponchartrain. But since other canals have been opened this has been filled up and replaced by a grass-plot twenty feet in width, bordered on each side by double rows of trees. The street is nearly two hundred feet wide and is lined by fine stores and handsome private residences.
On the lower side of Canal street is found the French quarter, which represents the original city. This was built around a curve of the river. It is now extended along the river bank both above and below this curve. In the French quarter are many houses dating back to the eighteenth century, some of them, with their overhanging balconies or airy niches and fantastic Moorish lattices, speaking of the time of the Spanish dominion. Many of these old-time houses
421have no beauty save that of age. They are of solid masonry, with great arched porticos and small windows; their pavements worn into unevenness by the footsteps of many generations. The old Ursuline convent in Conde street is one of the most interesting of these structures. It was erected in 1787, during the reign of Carlos III., by Don Andre Almonaster. It is huge and ugly in form, with queer gable windows, but quaint and venerable in appearance. When the site which it occupies became valuable, the nuns sold the building and removed to other quarters, where they have built themselves a large edifice, modern and stylish in appearance, and doubtless far more convenient and comfortable, but not half so interesting as their early home. The old convent building is now occupied by the Catholic bishop and is known as the Bishop's palace. It is elbowed on every side by modern structures, which present a strange contrast to its Old World appearance.
Jackson Square is situated in the French quarter, facing the river, and bounded on the three remaining sides by Saint Peter, Saint Ann and Chartres streets. Though it bears a modern name, its origin dates back to the earliest days of the infant colony. It was formerly known as the Place d' Armes, and was the military parade-ground and place of public gatherings during the French and Spanish periods of the history of New Orleans. It is now ornamented by trees and shrubbery, and contains Mill's equestrian statue of General Jackson. The Cathedral, dedicated to Saint Louis, and the Courts of Law, face the river from the opposite side of the square.
The old Creole families of New Orleans keep
422themselves to a great degree distinct from the American population. In their quarter the French language, spoken in a variety of dialects, from the pure, liquid accents of the higher classes down to the childish patois of the negroes, is almost universally used. At the French market, on the Levee, near Jackson Square, may be seen the greatest variety of peoples, and be heard the greatest jargon of tongues. On Sunday morning the scene is especially interesting, as the crowd on that day is greatest.
The Levee is also one of the characteristic features of New Orleans. Here is conducted the immense commercial business of the city, and in front of it is moored the shipping of all nations. New Orleans is the greatest cotton mart of the world, and also exports large quantities of sugar, rice, tobacco and other products. The Levee is the scene of constant activity and bustle. Sailors, river-men, merchants, shipping-clerks, foreigners of all nationalities, travelers, priests, monks and nuns are constantly passing and repassing, forming a panorama which for variety and life has probably not its equal on this continent.
The Shell Road out to Lake Ponchartrain is the favorite drive. After leaving the city, it passes through cypress swamps which, though gloomy, are exceedingly picturesque, the trees being fringed with long, gray Spanish moss. Lake Ponchartrain is itself a beautiful body of water, forty miles long by twenty-five wide, and abounds in fish and its borders in game. On its banks are the country residences of the wealthy inhabitants of the city.
The battle-field where, on January eighth, 1815, General Jackson obtained a victory over the British,
425lies a few miles below the city. It fronts on the Mississippi and extends inland about a mile to the cypress swamps. An unfinished marble monument, erected in commemoration of the victory, has attained a height of seventy feet. In the south-west corner of the field is a National cemetery, and between it and the city is the new edifice of the Ursuline convent, a large building overlooking the river.
The cemeteries of New Orleans are most peculiar. The ground is so low that water is readied at a depth of two or three feet, so that the tombs are all placed above ground. Some of them are very handsome structures of marble, granite or iron. Others are mere cells placed in tiers, one above another. These cells look like ovens, and when one receives a coffin it is hermetically sealed, and usually a marble tablet is placed over the brick-work. There are no less than thirty-three cemeteries in and near the city. Of these, Cypress Grove and Greenwood are best worth visiting.
The population of New Orleans is composed of French creoles and the more modern French, Spaniards, Portuguese, Italians, West Indians, Mexicans, colored people of every shade, from the full-blooded negro up to the octoroon, scarcely distinguishable in complexion and features from the southern European; Southerners of English descent; Northerners and Westerners; Chinese and Indians. The city still maintains, in many respects, its early characteristics. Its inhabitants are very gay, and theatres and operas are liberally patronized. Mardigras is the great annual holiday. Though a comparatively recent institution, having been first observed during the present century, it is now celebrated with a universality and
426abandon which is as astonishing as it is delightful to the visitor. On that day King Rex makes his appearance in the city, attired in regal splendor, and is followed by a retinue of knights and servitors. After these come a motley procession grotesquely masked. The streets and balconies are crowded with spectators and the day is given up to mirth and enjoyment, concluding with balls and pantomimes.
In 1880, the population of New Orleans amounted to two hundred and sixteen thousand. It is not architecturally a beautiful city, and, owing to its low site, can never become an imposing one. But from its location near the mouth of the Mississippi, it must command the trade of the Gulf States and be the gateway through which the commerce of the cities of the Mississippi Valley passes to other quarters of the globe. The constantly increasing prosperity of the South, due largely to free labor and to an influx of fresh blood, fresh capital and fresh enterprise, is telling upon its trade and commerce; and unless something in the form of a national calamity, such as war or pestilence, comes to check its prosperity, the progress of New Orleans must be onward to still larger commerce, broader social planes, and higher intellectual advancement.
Chapter XXXII. — New Orleans to the Gulf of Mexico — End of Voyage.
Plaquemine Parish, Louisiana,
November 12, 1881.
THE rays of the sun as he rose on the morning of this day fell upon us through a slight mist — the wind favorable and the water smooth — when we pushed off from the great seaport and turned our prow in the direction of the Gulf. Met two large ocean steamers inward bound — the first of these giants we had seen in motion. One of them glided so smoothly through the water that she appeared to us, at first, to be stationary. Soon, however, we discovered, by her wake, that she was forging ahead with her screw-propeller at a tolerably rapid pace, but so quietly as to lead to the impression that she was at anchor. We speedily paddled out of her way on finding our mistake, and the majestic vessel passed onward to her destination.
English Turn was duly reached, a point rendered memorable by the fact that in the war of 1812 the English fleet, bound for New Orleans, turned back on
428hearing of the defeat of their land force by General Jackson. The people who inhabit this spot appeared to be mostly of French origin or affinity. They spoke little else but French, and the patois of the negroes was especially amusing to us who had been accustomed to hear only English spoken by our colored fellow-citizens of the North.
The scenery on both banks of the river was picturesque and diversified — orange groves, many acres in extent; rice fields and sugar plantations succeeding one another as in a panorama, and rendering our trip very pleasant. The weather was all we could wish, and the reflection that we were rapidly nearing the end of our voyage imparted an extra impulse to our arms at each dip of the paddle as we drove the Alice through the smooth and comparatively limpid water.
Plaquemine Parish, Louisiana,
We took leave of our French-speaking friends at English Turn this morning at seven o'clock, wind and weather still favoring us; and, stepping into our canoe, pulled rapidly away from the crowd of whites and negroes who lined the landing-place to witness our departure. Several ocean steamers passed us during the forenoon on their passage to and from New Orleans. The Teutonia, hailing from some German port, the Shelburne, from one of the Australian colonies, and a local steamer, complimented us with a salute from their whistles when in short range.
Passed the night at an orange grove named Home
429Place, which consists, besides the grove, of a landing-stage and a general store. At Home Place we had no choice but to occupy a sleeping-room with four other men and an equal number of dogs, the men being laborers in the orange grove. From this point large quantities of oranges are shipped in sloops to New Orleans, which eventually find their way to the fruit-stands and stores of Northern cities.
Plaquenine Parish, Louisiana,
Again afloat, after an early breakfast at Home Place and a hurried stroll through the orange grove, we resumed our journey. Our course this day led us past some of the finest orange groves and rice fields we had yet seen. It may be noted that there is a somewhat striking resemblance between the extremes of the Mississippi. The wild rice savannas of Northern Minnesota may be compared with the cultivated rice-fields of Louisiana. The Indian at the head waters of the Mississippi relies largely upon the wild product for his winter sustenance, while his white brother of the fat South finds a ready market for the cultivated article. The sugar maple of the Upper Mississippi is replaced by the sugar-cane of the Lower, while the hemp and flax of Iowa and Wisconsin are paralleled by the cotton of Mississippi and Arkansas. The Jump is a small, scattered and primitive hamlet, with a population of possibly twenty-five or thirty souls, whose occupation appeared to be principally confined to fishing. Their language is a mixture of French and
430German, scarcely intelligible to our Northern ears. We failed to discover the origin or meaning of the singular name of this river-side cluster of cabins.
Plaquemine Parish, Louisiana,
A bright sun and clear sky greeted us as we opened the door of the little cabin at The Jump early on the morning of the last day of our voyage. A breakfast of bread and coffee was hastily taken and we were ready for the final strokes which would bring us to the Gulf of Mexico — the goal toward which we had floated and paddled for one hundred and seventeen days.
Pilot Station, at the head of the Passes, was reached at ten o'clock, and here we met with a hearty welcome from the sturdy men who devote their lives to the hazardous work of piloting vessels to and from the Gulf; a welcome which only those who have enjoyed their hospitality can adequately appreciate. Accustomed to exposure and danger, they are generous in the extreme to all who by fortune or accident fall into their hands. No sooner had we approached their landing-place than the Alice, with her crew, was pulled out of the water and a cordial invitation took us to their quarters, where we were promptly supplied with coffee and ship biscuit, and plied with questions as to our up-river experiences.
After lunch, the Alice was put into the Mississippi for the last time and our hospitable entertainers gave three lusty cheers as we pushed off. We then paddled
431briskly across the Expansion to the head of the South Pass, the most direct and best route to the Gulf. Port Eads was made at three o'clock. This village occupies a prominent and bleak position at the mouth of the South Pass at its entrance into the Gulf; is in Plaquemine Parish, and possesses an immense lighthouse. It is also a customs and pilot station.
This volume would be incomplete without some reference to the celebrated engineer of the Jetties, who has made it possible for the largest ocean vessels to enter in safety the Great River. We therefore pause to give the reader a brief sketch of his remarkably eventful life.
Captain James Buchanan Eads, a native of Lawrenceburg, Indiana, was born May twenty-third, 1820. He was a machinist almost from his birth. When nine years of age he removed with his parents to Louisville, Kentucky, and his first lesson in steam engineering was learned on board the steamboat that conveyed him to that city; the engineer, seeing the curiosity of the boy excited, explained to him the principal parts of the machinery. At the age of ten years he constructed models of saw-mills, fire-engines, steamboats, steam-engines, electrical and other machines. With no other tool than his pocket-knife, it is said, he could take to pieces and put together again a patent lever watch. At thirteen his parents went to Saint Louis, and he accompanied them. On the way there the steamer was burned in the night, and he landed nearly naked on the very spot now occupied by a part of the great bridge which he afterwards designed and built. For a few months he supported himself, his mother and sister by selling fruit on the street. He then
432obtained a situation in a mercantile house in which he remained for five years. Here he found an excellent library to which he was allowed access by his generous employer. He made good use of his opportunity to study subjects bearing upon mechanics, civil engineering and physical science. In 1839 we find him employed as clerk on a Mississippi steamer. Here again he made the best use of his opportunity to acquire a complete knowledge of the great river which he afterward turned to such good account. In 1842 he built a diving-bell boat for recovering the cargoes of sunken steamers. He soon improved upon this by constructing one of larger tonnage, with machinery for lifting the hull and cargo of a vessel. A company was formed for operating this boat on the river between the Balize and Galena. It was while engaged in this business that he obtained a thorough knowledge of the river-bed.
In 1845 he established a glass manufactory at Saint Louis. Two years later this enterprise failed and left him burdened with debt. He then returned to his former business of raising steamers, removing obstacles from the river, and improving the harbor of Saint Louis. A capital of fifteen hundred dollars was provided by his creditors, and ten years later he had increased this sum to nearly half a million, having long since paid off his creditors in full.
In 1856 Captain Eads proposed to Congress to keep the channels of the Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio and Arkansas rivers clear of all obstructions for a term of years. A bill was passed by the House of Representatives authorizing the scheme, but in the Senate it failed.
On the seventeenth of April, 1861, three days after
433the attack on Fort Sumter by the Confederates, Attorney-General Bates wrote to him from Washington: "Be not surprised if you are called here suddenly by telegram. It may be necessary to have the aid of the most thorough knowledge of our Western rivers, and in that event, I have advised that you should be consulted." The summons came shortly after the letter, and Captain Eads went immediately to Washington. He submitted a plan to the President and Cabinet for placing gunboats on the rivers and locating batteries at several points on shore. With Captain — afterward Rear-Admiral — John Rodgers, he was appointed to carry out the recommendations he had made, and to improvise three war-vessels for service at Cairo. He afterward designed seven iron-clad gunboats for the Government, which he engaged to build in sixty-five days. They were all finished according to contract and ready for their armament.
In 1862 Captain Eads was authorized to build six more armored iron gunboats, larger than the preceding ones. The kind of work these ironclads performed is recorded in the history of Grant and Halleck's campaigns, and of Farragut's capture of Mobile.
From 1867 to 1874 Captain Eads was engaged in the construction of the steel-arch bridge at Saint Louis. The central arch of this great work has a clear span of five hundred and twenty feet and is universally pronounced to be the finest specimen of metal arch construction in the world. The side arches are five hundred and two feet in span; the piers are sunk clear through to the bed rock.
In his proposal, in 1874, to deepen the mouth of the Mississippi by means of Jetties, he was opposed by
434nearly all the United States Engineers and by a commission composed of seven of them. This commission proposed to avoid the bars by building a canal from Fort Philip to Breton Bay. Captain Eads' plan was to make the river itself deepen the channel through the bars, and he had faith enough in his plan to offer to do the work at his own expense and wait for payment until he had proved its success. A bill was introduced in Congress to allow him to make his experiments on the South Pass. The cost was to be five and a quarter million dollars; only half a million was to be paid after a channel twenty feet deep by two hundred feet wide had been secured; another half million after a channel twenty-two feet deep, and other sums upon the obtaining of channels twenty-six and twenty-eight feet deep. The final million was to be withheld until a channel of thirty feet depth had been kept through-out twenty years. Congress, however, afterward voted to pay him one and three-quarter million dollars in advance of the terms of his contract when he had secured twenty-two feet depth in the channel.
The result of the application of the Jetty system to the South Pass has been a triumphant justification of its author's views. Four years after he commenced the work the United States inspecting officer reported that thirty feet depth had been secured throughout the channel, and that the least width was two hundred feet. The balance due Captain Eads by the Government was then paid him, and the million held as security was considered as earned and placed at interest for his benefit. The channel has maintained this depth ever since.
Before commencing the Jetties, he had turned his
435attention to the improvement of eleven hundred miles of the Mississippi by the Jetty system. On March fifteenth, 1874, he addressed a letter to the Hon. William Windom, chairman of the Senate Committee on Transportation Routes to the Seaboard, and in this and subsequent papers clearly outlined one of the most magnificent plans which hydraulic engineering has ever undertaken, by which thirty thousand square miles of rich land could be saved from devastating inundations. In 1880, a commission reported to Congress in favor of the "Jetty system" of Captain Eads, as opposed to the "Outlet system" and the "Levee system" of other eminent engineers; and several million dollars were voted to carry out his plans. Two reaches of the river, Plum Point, twenty miles long, and Lake Providence, thirty-five miles long, were selected for improvements, and the effect produced was simply marvelous.
During the time of the construction of the works for carrying his plans into execution, Captain Eads was in bad health, and for some time absent from the United States. No further appropriations were made to continue this great work; but enough has been done to show the entire practicability of the plan.
The grandest scheme contemplated by this indefatigable engineer is the Ship Railway across the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, for the transportation of large ships fully laden from ocean to ocean. This railway, he claims, can be built at one-half the cost of the Panama Canal and in one quarter of the time needed to build the canal; that four or five times the speed practicable on a canal can be secured; that more vessels can be carried in a day over the railway than through the canal; that
436it will cost less to operate it than to operate a canal; and that its location is the very best of all those which are proposed on the American Isthmus. Its proposed track is twelve hundred miles from the De Lesseps Canal, the immense territory of Central America lying between the two.
Captain Eads has, at the request of the Government and of individuals particularly interested, examined and reported upon the bar at the mouth of Saint John's River, Florida; the improvement of the Sacramento River; the improvement of the harbor of Toronto, and of the port of Vera Cruz; the improvement of the harbor of Tampico, and of Galveston, and the estuary of the Mersey, England. He was president of the Saint Louis Academy of Sciences for two terms. In 1881 he delivered an address before the British Association at York upon the improvements of the Mississippi, and also upon the Tehuantepec Ship Canal; and in June, 1881, he was awarded the medal of the British Society of Arts, in token of its appreciation of the services he had rendered to the science of engineering — he being the first American upon whom this medal had been conferred.
From Port Eads the sea-wall of the Jetties was plainly visible, and as we floated down stream our minds were occupied with thoughts of the renowned La Salle, who, nearly two hundred years ago, was the first European to enter the Gulf of Mexico and plant the banner of France on its shores.
Count Frontenac, at that time governor of Canada, was very desirous of continuing the exploration of the Mississippi which La Salle had already begun. It was his ambition, as a loyal Frenchman, to raise the ensign of France at the mouth of the Great River, and, in the name of his king, to take possession of the grandest valley on the globe.
La Salle accordingly left Fort Frontenac, on the Saint Lawrence, July twenty-third, 1680, on his way to the Mississippi via the lakes. On the twenty-eighth of August following he launched his canoes on Lake Erie, ascended the Detroit River, passed through Lake Saint Clair to Lake Huron, and finally reached the station at Mackinaw the latter part of September.
During the spring of 1681 he pushed his canoes through Lake Michigan to its southern extremity and found his way through the Chicago and Illinois rivers to the Mississippi. Continuing his course to the southward, he reached the Delta on the sixth of April, 1682, and drifting down the turbid current between its low and marshy shores, "the brackish water changed to brine, and the breeze grew fresh with the salt breath of the sea. The broad bosom of the Gulf then opened on his sight, tossing its restless billows limitless, voiceless, lonely, as when born of chaos, without a sail, without a sign of life. La Salle coasted the marshy borders of the Gulf and then, assembling his companions, on a spot of dry ground a short distance from the month of the river, he prepared a column on which was inscribed the arms of France.
"The Frenchmen were mustered under arms. Then, amid volleys of musketry and shouts of Vive le Roi! La Salle planted the column in its place, and,
438standing near it, proclaimed in a loud voice that, in the name of his king, he took possession of all that portion of North America which was drained by the Mississippi and its tributaries. On that day the monarchy of France received a stupendous accession. The fertile plains of Texas; the vast basin of the Mississippi, from its frozen northern springs to the sultry borders of Louisiana; from the woody ridges of the Alleghenies to the bare peaks of the Rocky Mountains, a region of savannas and forests, sun-cracked deserts and grassy prairies, watered by a thousand rivers and ranged by a thousand warlike tribes."
At twenty minutes after three o'clock, on the afternoon of November fifteenth, 1881, the prow of the Alice met the salt waves of the Gulf as they came rushing defiantly against the swift current of the mighty stream, and we were suddenly brought to a realization of the fact that our long voyage Down the Great River, from Source to Sea, was ended.
Chapter XXXIII. — The Father of Waters.
HAVING observed many times in the course of our voyage that the Mississippi is perhaps the first river of the world, I now pause at its mouth, and, without hesitation, affirm that it is incontestably entitled to the proud designation given it by the Chippewas, of May-see-see-be — THE FATHER OF RUNNING WATERS. In order to support my position it will be necessary to ask the indulgence of the reader, and invite him to accompany me in my return to its source. Should he feel unduly taxed, however, and hesitate to accept my invitation, let me explain that our journey back to its headwaters will be less arduous and accomplished in much less time than that we have just concluded at the Balize.
It has already been noted that the Lower Mississippi, through its numberless bayous, communicates with every quarter of Louisiana and with the sea. Through the Red River it reaches Arizona and New Mexico.
By means of the Yazoo the Mississippi invites the commerce of Tennessee, and, as the former stream is navigable to its sources in Georgia, it may readily communicate by canal with rivers that discharge their
440waters into the Atlantic Ocean. The sources of the Tombigbee are also near those of the Yazoo, and, consequently, communication is easily opened with the rivers of Alabama, which have their outlets in the Bay of Mobile.
As the debouchure of the Arkansas River, the Mississippi becomes the great water-way for the transportation of the exports of Colorado, Kansas and the State of Arkansas, and as the sources of the former are but a few hundred miles from those of the Colorado, it may be assumed that the Mississippi could easily communicate with the Gulf of California.
The White and Saint Francis rivers penetrate far into the interior of Arkansas and Missouri — a region of great fertility, and rich in its mines of lead, copper and iron.
The Ohio, the largest eastern tributary of the Mississippi, rises in New York and Western Pennsylvania, and will prove in the future, as it has in the past, a powerful lever in the development of the rich and flourishing States whose boundaries are its shores. Indeed, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia and Western Pennsylvania are largely indebted to this great tributary of the Mississippi for their happy commercial relations with the Eastern and Southern States.
To continue with the Ohio, we may assume that, by means of the Monongahela, the Mississippi could, with the aid of the canal, communicate with the Potomac, which empties into Chesapeake Bay and thence into the Atlantic Ocean.
The Allegheny River connects its waters by canal with Lake Erie, and thence through the Welland
441Canal with Lake Ontario and the Saint Lawrence River, thus opening communication with New York, Canada and the great lakes, Huron, Michigan and Superior.
Through the Kaskaskia, the Mississippi extends its commerce into the rich and populous State of Illinois.
The Missouri, the largest tributary river of the world, might, through its remotest feeders, open communication between the Mississippi and the rivers Lewis and Clark, which flow into the Columbia, and would ultimately connect it with the Pacific Ocean. What a grand problem is here presented for the solution of the future! The products of the great State of Missouri; the fertile prairies of Kansas and Iowa; the vast plains of Nebraska; the unlimited wheat fields of Dakota, and the gold and silver mines of Wyoming, Montana and Idaho, must, in a large measure, reach the leading commercial cities of America through the Mississippi — the grandest water-way of the world.
Through the Illinois River, the Mississippi communicates, by means of the Michigan Canal, with the Chicago River, which empties into Lake Michigan; while the proposed Hennepin Canal would open direct communication with this great inland sea, and thus invite the commerce of its sister lakes.
The Des Moines, Rock and Turkey rivers extend far into the interior, and are navigable many miles from their confluence with the Mississippi.
By means of the Wisconsin and Chippewa rivers, the Mississippi, aided by portages, communicates with the Fox and Menomonee rivers, through which it also reaches lakes Michigan and Superior.
A few miles above Lake Pepin the Saint Croix River enters the Mississippi and pays tribute from the vast lumber regions of Wisconsin.
The Minnesota River, formerly known as the Saint Peter, is the leading tributary of the Mississippi in Minnesota. This stream, like the Saint Croix, brings down yearly from the northern counties countless millions of logs from her seemingly inexhaustible pine forests.
It has been shown in a previous chapter that the source of the Red River of the North is but seven miles from the source of the Mississippi. The Red River discharges its waters into Hudson's Bay, which communicates with the Arctic Ocean. The Saint Louis, which falls into Lake Superior, also takes its rise in this section of Minnesota. The reader will recall that the source of the Mississippi can be reached by a canoe, and that, by a short portage, it may be relaunched on the Red River, and thus it is seen that the Gulf of Mexico greets the Arctic Ocean across the continent of North America — a range of between four and five thousand miles.
It is something to excite wonder that a river of such remarkable length should present no other obstacles to its navigation than Pokegama Falls, Saint Anthony Falls, Little Falls and the Keokuk Rapids; the last of which, it may be observed, is no longer an obstruction, since the Government Canal now conveys through its waters the largest craft that finds its way to the Upper Mississippi.
No one will question that this King of Rivers drains one of the most extensive, beautiful and fertile valleys of the globe; and its thousand affluents mingle
443their accumulated floods with the mighty stream so quietly as to scarcely create a ripple.
Through its numberless lagoons above the Falls of Saint Anthony, Nature has provided for the surplus water in time of freshets; but for which, the country adjacent to the entire lower river would be completely devastated in the fall and spring. The hand of the Creator is also seen in the bayous of Mississippi, Arkansas and Louisiana; and finally at the Delta, where it discharges quietly into the sea, as from a common centre the accumulated waters of more than half a continent.
What, then, is the conclusion? Can an other such river be found between the poles, which thus communicates with every sea; which combines so much of the wonderful with so much of the useful; which bears upon its bosom the freightage of both the old world and the new, and to which the future presents such a promising outlook?
The Amazon and the Nile surpass the Mississippi in length, and possibly in the volume of their waters. Still, in many, yea, all other particulars of far greater consequence, they cannot be compared with it. But apart from, and altogether beyond a consideration of, the length and width and depth of these great rivers of the world, we may consistently claim for the Mississippi a very decided superiority over its longer rivals, inasmuch as, throughout its entire length, its banks are peopled with freemen, and industry meets with no restriction.