Pictures and Illustrations.
Plan of Pittsburg in 1817. A — Site of Fort Du Qyesné B — Fort Pitt C — City Hotel, where I lodged D — Bakewell's glass works F — O'Hara's Brewhouse G — Shipyard H — Col. Killbuck's island, a chief of the six nations
Ohio River Flatboat (A), and Keelboat (B)
English Prairie. Every square is one mile, and contians 640 acres. Thirty-six miles from a township. The squares are called sections and are sold entire or in quarters, price 2$ in four annual installments. Discount for cash 6 per cent.
FOR information regarding the personal history of Elias Pym Fordham, author of the narrative herewith published, the Editor is indebted to Dr. Hubert de Laserre Spence, of Cleveland, Ohio, who has supplied not only a statement of his own knowledge of the enterprising young Englishman, but also a memorandum by his aunt, Sophia Worthington, and an interesting manuscript embodying the recollections of Mary Spence, his mother.
The preparation of the notes has been facilitated to such a degree by recent volumes of Early Western Travels, 1748-1846, edited by Dr. Reuben Gold Thwaites, that special acknowledgment of obligation ought to be made for use of material in the early volumes of travel made accessible in that valuable series. Full titles of the works chiefly referred to will be found in the list of contemporary travels at the end of this volume. It is hoped that the publication of the Fordham manuscript may be of service to students of Western history in general, and especially to those interested in the processes by which the composite population of the Mississippi Valley was built up in the great era of migration.
F. A. O.
HARVARD UNIVERSITY, January, 1906.
THE years immediately following the close of the second war with Great Britain witnessed a remarkable increase in the population of the Mississippi Valley, particularly of the old Northwest Territory and the remoter regions of Missouri and Arkansas. Aside from the high birth-rate uniformly characteristic of American frontier communities, this increase was due to an unprecedented influx of settlers from two sources: the seaboard states and Europe, chiefly Great Britain and Germany.
Prior to about 1815 emigration from the East to the West had been large in the aggregate, but very unsteady. The westward movement had been in the nature of successive waves separated by intervals of comparative inactivity. Three important epochs of migration since the establishment of national independence can be distinguished: (1) the years of uncertainty and distress between the end of the Revolution and the adoption of the Constitution; (2) the period including the "hard times" of 1800 and culminating in the acquisition of the Louisiana Territory in 1803; and (3) the era of commercial depression which began with the embargo of 1807 and continued until relieved by the succeeding war. During each of these periods of unsettlement, thousands of people in the older states abandoned conditions which they found disadvantageous, or positively onerous, and yielded to the allurements of
14the far-famed West. As time went on, the numbers increased and the movement tended steadily to become more constant and less dependent upon prosperity or the lack of it on the seaboard.
The outbreak of war in 1812, with the accompanying Indian uprisings in the West, checked the flow of homeseekers temporarily; but by the winter of 1814 the exodus from the East along the highways of New York and Pennsylvania and down the Ohio had come to be on such a scale as to call forth astonished comment in all sections of the country. By 1816 Ohio, which the census of 1810 showed to contain a population of 230,000, was estimated to be the home of 400,000 whites. In these six years the population of Indiana increased from 24,000 to 70,000, enabling this territory in 1816 to become a member of the federal union. From 406,000 to more than 500,000 was Kentucky's growth in the same period. And Illinois was brought from 13,000 or 14,000 almost to the attainment of statehood. The frontier — technically defined as the line of at least two settlers to the square mile, though more properly to be regarded as a belt or zone than as a line — was pushed back rapidly and given long finger-like protrusions up the larger water-courses, especially the Wabash, the Kaskaskia, the Mississippi, the Missouri, the Arkansas, and the Red.
In the Eastern states, where there was a strong disposition to lament the draining off of the sturdiest elements of the population, it was expected that
15the end of the war and the restoration of commercial prosperity (together with the rise of new and profitable industries) would reduce emigration across the Alleghenies to something like its earlier volume. But this anticipation was not realized. With each succeeding year after the Peace of Ghent the number of emigrants rose to a higher figure, and as a matter of fact the decade from 1815 to 1825 became the period during which the central Mississippi Valley attained its highest per cent of increase in population in the century. Land-hunger, dislike of overcrowding, discontent with economic conditions, love of adventure and novelty — these were the great forces which impelled men to forsake New England, New York, and Virginia for the ruder but roomier prairies and river-valleys of the West. The final suppression of the Indians, by William Henry Harrison in the Northwest and by Jackson in the South, relieved many prospective emigrants of the fears which had hitherto been an insuperable obstacle; and the development of steam navigation on the western lakes and rivers, which began with the launching of the "New Orleans" on the Ohio in 1811, provided means of travel and trade distinctively stimulative to migration and settlement.
The peopling of the West, however, was not left entirely to be accomplished by the migrations of native Americans. The same decade which was marked by so considerable a westward movement from the seaboard states was likewise notable for
16the unprecedented immigration of Europeans, part of whom settled in the East and offset in a measure the depopulation caused by the westward exodus, but a very large proportion of whom pressed on across the mountains in quest of homes in the fertile and undeveloped interior. Prior to 1820 no records of immigration were kept by the United States Government, and hence we have nothing better than unofficial estimates from which to judge the extent of the settlement of Europeans in America during the six important years following the Peace of Ghent. Since the majority of immigrants in this part of the century came from Great Britain, the hostilities of 1811-1814 very naturally caused a marked cessation in the movement. But about 1817 the tide resumed with greater force than ever, and in that year the total number of immigrants arriving was estimated at over 20,000. The number the following year was probably about the same. Congress saw in these figures a necessity for legislation to regulate the transportation of immigrants and to prevent the overcrowding of ships on which they made the voyage to the United States; and a law was enacted, March 2, 1819, containing suitable provisions in this direction and prescribing that an official count should begin to be kept the following year. The first records obtained in consequence of this legislation showed how overwhelmingly our immigrants from the United Kingdom outnumbered those from other European countries. While from September, 1819, to September, 1820,
17the number of Germans coming to the United States was but 948, of Frenchmen but 371, and of Spaniards but 139, that of British and Irish was 6,000.
The close of the Napoleonic wars left Great Britain in a condition, politically and economically, exceedingly favorable to heavy emigration. The nation had been engaged in a titanic conflict which had lasted with little intermission for more than twenty-two years and which had left the Government staggering under a war debt of Å831,000,000. During this long period the movement for larger popular liberty, which had grown to considerable proportions during the years in which the seeds of revolution were ripening in France, had been held in abeyance; much had been lost in this time and nothing gained by the cause of liberalism. The Tory ministry, absorbed wholly in the conflict with the ambitious Corsican, had shown itself quite indifferent to domestic well-being and in the hour of victory its proud and complacent attitude betokened the period of political reaction through which England was destined in the next decade to pass. The establishment of a lasting peace cleared the way for a revival of domestic problems, and a great mass of discontented people who had been patriotic enough to withhold their criticisms while the nation was in danger, now became more insistent than ever that numerous and far-reaching reforms in governmental and industrial conditions be speedily undertaken.
Part of the evils complained of were political. Owing to excessive property requirements for the exercise of the franchise and the lack of adjustment of representation to the distribution of population, Parliament was very far from constituting a true national assembly and its legislation was felt to be that of a class for a class, regardless of the interests of the masses of the people. The multiplying of sinecure offices, created and maintained at heavy public expense for the benefit of do-nothing aristocrats, was regarded as another crying political abuse. Even more critical were the evils of an economic character. England was yet in the throes of the Industrial Revolution, and thousands of men were being crowded out of employment, temporarily at least, by the introduction of machinery and the establishment of the factory system. Then the return of peace reduced the foreign demand for many kinds of manufactured goods, resulting in a yet further over-supply of labor. The Corn Law of 1815, enacted for the express purpose of keeping up the price of foodstuffs, in the interest of the aristocratic landlord class, bore intolerably on the poverty-stricken tenants, and indeed upon the entire laboring class of the realm. The condition of the poor, in both city and country, was worse, relatively if not absolutely, in 1815 than it had been thirty years before. Wages which fell below the cost of bare subsistence coupled with rising rents and famine prices for bread could but stir up the spirit of insurrection; for economic
19distress will frequently provoke men to action when political disabilities call forth only harmless complaint.
The result was a period of incessant agitation for reform — for the liberalizing of the Government so that laws might be made according to the desires of the majority of the people, for the immediate repeal of obnoxious class legislation like the Corn Law, and for the cutting off of aristocratic sinecures and every other excrescence which made the burdens of the ordinary people harder to be borne. Led by William Cobbett, editor of the Weekly Political Register, Major John Cartwright, and others, the liberal element (organized into the Radical Party in 1819) entered upon a campaign which soon stirred the whole population and caused the Government to take stern measures to prevent the growth of the disaffection. Riots and popular demonstrations of every character became common and on several occasions — notably the gathering at Spa Fields, London, in 1816, and the Manchester Massacre (or "battle of Peterloo") in 1819 — the assemblies of the people to protest and organize against the existing state of things were forcibly broken up.
Success was destined to reward the agitators, but not until after many years and in many cases in ways quite different from those they had mapped out. In the meantime, during the period from about 1815 to 1820, while the movement was yet young and far from promising, many men became discouraged
20or impatient and sought the relief in emigration which they could see little reason to hope for if they remained in their old homes. "A nation," declared one of these, "with half its population supported by alms, or poor-rates, and one fourth of its income derived from taxes, many of which are dried up in their sources, or speedily becoming so, must teem with emigrants from one end to the other: and, for such as myself, who have had ‘nothing to do with the laws but to obey them,’ it is quite reasonable and just to secure a timely retreat from the approaching crisis — either of anarchy or despotism." About 1817-18 the desire to emigrate spread over the entire country and affected all classes of people except the privileged aristocrats. The land to which men looked for a new home, one which would be free from the oppressions of an aristocratic government and the distress occasioned by its economic policies, was quite naturally the United States. In the first place its population was made up predominantly of English-speaking people, bound to English people everywhere by numerous ties of sentiment and interest. In the next place it had at its disposal a superabundance of the choicest of land, which it was ready to bestow at inconsiderable cost. Even in the Eastern states land could be had at reasonable rates, and beyond the Alleghenies, especially in Indiana, Illinois, and to the westward, it need only be entered according to legal process and paid for within four years at the rate of two dollars an acre. Finally, the rapidly expanding
21manufactures of the United States, created largely during the war period, called for thousands of skilled laborers, so that English mechanics land artisans could expect to find profitable employment without being compelled to resort to the unaccustomed occupation of agriculture.
As a consequence of discouraging conditions at home and liberal advertising of the opportunities offered in America, emigration became easily the most discussed subject of the times, aside from the transcendent question of reform. That the actual migration in the years after 1815 was large is abundantly attested, not only by fragmentary evidences in contemporary American records, but also by the files of all the important English newspapers and magazines of the period. On the one hand, accounts of popular meetings in the interest of emigration to America are abundant, and on the other innumerable editorials and articles bewail the departure of the tillers of the soil, and also of not a few capitalists, for an alien country. The press made a united demand upon Parliament to stop the "ruinous drain of the most useful part of the population of the United Kingdom," and all manner of arguments, including many palpable falsehoods, were brought forth to dissuade men from migrating. But it was to no avail. People came from all parts of the kingdom, both country and city, to the ports to take passage. We are told that 229 English immigrants landed at New York in a single week, and that in the week ending August
2223, 1817, 1500 arrived at the five ports of New York, New London, Perth Amboy, Philadelphia, and Boston. Nor were the immigrants all, or even generally, of the poorest class. English law forbade vessels to carry more than two passengers for each ton, and this restriction was in itself sufficient to keep passenger rates at a high figure and to preclude the pauper class from taking passage. This fact only increased the indignation of the English press, since the people who migrated were almost exclusively the fairly well-to-do who could most ill be spared. In his Sketches of America, published in London in 1819, Henry Bradshaw Fearon tells us that by 1817, when he was deputed by thirty-nine English families to visit the United States and ascertain what portions of the country were best adapted to settlement by Englishmen, "Emigration had assumed a totally new character: it was no longer merely the poor, the idle, the profligate, or the wildly speculative, who were proposing to quit their native country; but men also of capital, of industry, of sober habits and regular pursuits, men of reflection who apprehended approaching evils; men of upright and conscientious minds, to whose happiness civil and religious liberty were essential; and men of domestic feelings, who wished to provide for the future support and prosperity of their offspring."
While the controversy regarding the expediency of the settlement of Englishmen in America was raging, an enterprise of large moment was undertaken
23by two gentlemen of wealth and influence living in the vicinity of London — Messrs. Morris Birkbeck and George Flower. This was the establishment of an agricultural colony in southeastern Illinois, in the portion of Edwards County which afterwards came to be known as the English Prairie.
English Prairie. Every square is one mile, and contians 640 acres. Thirty-six miles from a township. The squares are called sections and are sold entire or in quarters, price 2$ in four annual installments. Discount for cash 6 per cent.Morris Birkbeck (1763-1825) was a successful practical farmer of Quaker origin who very well represents the type of well-to-do middle class Englishmen in this period who were dissatisfied with conditions in England and saw little prospect of an early improvement. Happening, in 1816, to meet the American diplomat, Edward Coles, who was returning from a mission to Russia, he first got from him an authoritative idea of the vast extent of unoccupied lands in the Illinois country. After some reflection he determined to sell his estate near London, migrate to Illinois with his family, and there prepare the way for the establishment of a colony of discontented English country laborers. Doubtless he expected to better his own fortunes, but his project seems to have been shaped in no small degree by philanthropic considerations. Another English farmer of similar station, George Flower, was attracted by the scheme and decided to join his old friend in it. In the summer of 1816 Flower came out to America in advance to get a personal knowledge of the land and its people. He visited various sections of the country, including the West, and, returning to Virginia in the autumn, spent most of the winter with Thomas Jefferson at
24Monticello. The following spring Birkbeck, with his family, landed at City Point, Virginia, and with Flower proceeded to the Illinois. A tract of 16,000 acres of unbroken prairie was in part purchased outright and in part designated to be taken up later, and on this it was planned to locate the prospective colonists. The purchase lay in Edwards County, which at that time embraced an immense area, extending almost from the Ohio to Upper Canada and including a portion of the present state of Wisconsin. The two promoters then began to build log huts, import furniture, and make other preparations for the influx of settlers. Reports of the most optimistic character were sent back to England, with the result that a new stimulus was given to emigration, though many of the persons thus attracted found land that suited them without going so far west as to the English Prairie.
In the same year in which the settlement was begun Birkbeck published a book under the title Notes on a Journey in America from the Coast of Virginia to the Territory of Illinois, with Proposals for the Establishment of a Colony of English (Philadelphia, 1817). The next year another book, Letters from Illinois (London, 1818), appeared from the same author. Both attracted widespread attention in England, and the English Prairie settlement became the center about which was waged the whole controversy over the expediency of emigration of English people to America. Birkbeck's writings represented emigration, particularly if directed to
25his section of Illinois, as an enviable escape from political oppression and economic ruin and a sure road to good fortune and happiness. Some of those, however, whom he induced to settle in the western country were keenly disappointed, and, embittered by ill-luck or the hardships of frontier life, sent back reports denouncing Birkbeck in no uncertain terms and asserting that, having been himself deceived in the character of the American interior, he was seeking to recoup himself by selling his lands to unsuspecting emigrants. The letters of the malcontents were seized upon and made use of with avidity by those who were laboring to restrain emigration, while on the other hand men who were satisfied with the Western settlement or who had interests involved in its prosperity, as warmly defended Birkbeck's project. The result was a veritable war of the newspaper writers and pamphleteers — a war in the first instance between two groups of English writers attacking and defending, respectively, the policy of emigration; and in its later phase between the English who satirized American conditions and the Americans who resented this procedure and declaimed vehemently against it. While the literary belligerents talked and wrote, the people continued to migrate. Adlard Welby, a conservative Englishman who made a tour of inspection in the West in 1819, very fairly summed up the situation when he said: "These favorable accounts [the writings of Birkbeck], aided by a period of real privation and discontent
26in Europe, caused emigration to increase ten-fold; and though various reports of unfavorable nature soon circulated, and many who had emigrated actually returned to their native land in disgust, yet still the trading vessels were filled with passengers of all ages and descriptions, full of hope, looking forward to the West as to a land of liberty and delight — a land flowing with milk and honey — a second land of Canaan."
The ablest attack upon the English Prairie scheme was made by William Cobbett, the noted Radical leader and pamphleteer, who, in 1818, published his Year's Residence in the United States of America (New York, 1818), by way of a reply to Mr. Birkbeck's books. Cobbett was not opposed to emigration from England in itself, but he savagely denounced Birkbeck and all others who sought to induce the emigrant to go beyond the Alleghenies in search of a home. His writing upon this subject was done at a farm in Long Island where he was living in virtual exile, with prosecution for political offenses hanging over him if he returned to British jurisdiction. It cannot be known definitely whether, as Birkbeck declared, he was practically bought up by Eastern capitalists to advocate the settling of immigrants in the seaboard states rather than on the western prairies, but in any case this was the policy he urged with uncompromising fervor. For information as to what really were the conditions at the English Prairie Cobbett made use of Thomas Hulme's Journal made
27during a Tour in the Western Countries of America: Sept. 30, 1818 — August 7, 1819. Hulme was an honest English farmer, strongly Radical in principles and a follower of Cobbett. On the whole his Journal, however, exhibits a favorable attitude toward the Birkbeck enterprise, and it was only by twisting its statements and utterly ignoring their real import that the vilifying pamphleteer could adapt them to his ends. Cobbett's attack, which was renewed in successive editions of his book and in other writings, brought the English Prairie settlement its highest measure of notoriety, though scarcely to its profit. Birkbeck kept up his side of the controversy in similar new editions and incidental effusions, and was not lacking in out-spoken supporters. Chief among these was Richard Flower, father of George Flower, who in 1818 sold his estate in Hertfordshire and joined his relatives and former neighbors in Illinois. In 1819 he published Letters from Lexington and the Illinois, containing a Brief Account of the English Settlement in the Latter Territory, and a Refutation of the Misrepresentations of Mr. Cobbett (London, 1819); and somewhat later Letters from the Illinois, 1820, 1821. Containing an Account of the English Settlement at Albion and its Vicinity, and a Refutation of Various Misrepresentations, Those more particularly of Mr. Cobbett (London, 1822). In 1821 John Woods, a well-to-do, practical, and observant English farmer who had but lately established a home in the West, published Two Years'
28Residence in the Settlement on the English Prairie, in the Illinois Country, United States. This, like Flower's books, was a sane, honest description of the settlement, which contrasted markedly in these qualities with the glib criticisms of writers like Cobbett, and showed that if conditions and prospects were not quite so roseate as Birkbeck pictured them they were at least immeasurably better than the detractors would have people believe.
Other books of this period, written by English travelers and settlers and containing noteworthy descriptions of the English Prairie in particular or of the Illinois country in general, are: (I) Henry Bradshaw Fearon's Sketches of America. A Narrative of a Journey of five thousand miles through the Eastern and Western States of America; with Remarks on Mr. Birkbeck's "Notes" and "Letters" (London, 1819); (2) Adlard Welby's Visit to North America and the English Settlements in Illinois, with a Winter Residence at Philadelphia (London, 1821); (3) William Tell Harris's Remarks made during a Tour through the United States of America during the years 1817, 1818, and 1819 (London, 1821); (4) James Flint's Letters from America (Edinburgh, 1822); (5) George W. Ogden's Letters from the West, comprising a Tour through the Western Country, and a Residence of two summers in the States of Ohio and Kentucky (New Bedford, 1823) ; and (6) William Faux's Memorable Days in America: being a Journal of a Tour to the United States, principally undertaken
29to ascertain, by positive evidence, the condition and probable prospects of British Emigrants; including accounts of Mr. Birkbeck's settlement in the Illinois (London, 1823). Of these six writers it may be added simply that Fearon was an agent sent out by thirty-nine English families to ascertain what parts of the United States were best adapted to settlement; Welby was a conservative farmer of the upper middle class, prone to display in his writings a degree of insularity and prejudice even beyond that displayed by the average English traveler of the time; Harris was a fair-minded student of agrarian questions who came to America "with a view to estimating the advantages the United States were represented to afford;" Flint was a Scotch economist who emigrated primarily to study prices, wages, land questions, and labor problems, but who found pleasure in observing and recording his impressions of all sorts of things having little connection with economics; Ogden was an agriculturist and traveler of much the same type as Harris; and Faux was another farmer whose object in visiting the United States was to investigate the advisability of English migration thither — a writer who, though of inferior grade, yet in his characteristic blunt and inelegant manner supplies much valuable information.
One of the party of nine which accompanied Birkbeck to America in the spring of 1817 was a young Englishman by the name of Elias Pym Fordham, author of the letters and journal herewith published.
30The family to which Fordham belonged is among the oldest in Eastern England. The claim is made that its line of descent can be traced back with ease as far as the time of King Stephen. For eight centuries its ancestral estates in Hertfordshire and Cambridgeshire have passed from generation to generation, and they are today in the possession of a branch of its vigorous descendants. Elias Fordham, father of Elias Pym, was born in 1763, and at the age of twenty-one married Mary Clapton, one of the last descendants of an honorable old family which, among other distinctions, had furnished Elizabeth a lord chancellor. The elder Fordham is described as a lively, bright, and happy man, whose admirable character and gracious manner won for him a multitude of friends. He was educated to be a Trinitarian minister and for some years had charge of a congregation of that faith; but, suffering an attack of throat trouble, he decided after a time to abandon the ministry and to become a brewer. In the new occupation he was doing well, until one night while riding near his home his horse stumbled over a tipsy man who, when aroused, managed to mumble that "it was all along of Fordham's fine ale." The incident troubled the conscientious brewer and the upshot was that he gave over the business, retired to Gannock where he had some property and, renting a tract of land of his brother, spent the rest of his life as a farmer. During his later years he occupied much of his time with occasional preaching, though diligent study of his Bible
31had led him to reject the Trinitarian and to adopt the hitherto despised Unitarian creed. In those days Unitarianism was looked upon by people generally with horror; yet so exemplary and sincere a man was Fordham that, rank dissenter though he had become, the bishop of his diocese licensed the kitchen of the worthy farmer's residence as a place for public worship.
In 1808 Mrs. Fordham died, leaving two sons, Elias Pym and Charles, and five daughters, Anne, Maria, Catherine, Harriet, and Sophia. Elias Pym became a pupil of George Stephenson and while yet a young man developed into a capable and promising engineer. Despite his enviable prospects, however, he was seized with the fever for migration to America which spread over England about 1816 and instead of settling in the practice of his profession at home began to cast about for a chance to try his fortunes in the New World. The opportunity was speedily forthcoming. George Flower was an uncle of his by marriage, and when Flower decided to take part in Birkbeck's projected settlement in the Illinois, Fordham, who was then twenty-nine years of age, resolved to be one of the first members of the new colony. As has already been related, Flower came to America in 1816, in advance of the rest of the party. Fordham came with Birkbeck and his family early the next year. The vessel on which they took passage from Gravesend brought them to the James River, in Virginia, whence the Birkbecks continued their journey westward over
32the mountains to Pittsburg, traveling in a phaeton and a light Jersey wagon, and thence went on horseback across southern Ohio to Cincinnati. Fordham took charge of the equipment which was being transported to the new settlement, consisting mainly of farming implements and household furniture, and arranged for its transportation by water from Norfolk to Baltimore, thence overland to Pittsburg and down the Ohio River to Cincinnati, where the party was reunited and from whence it proceeded across southern Indiana to the site of the prospective colony.
Ohio River Flatboat (A), and Keelboat (B)
One of the ladies who accompanied the expedition was Fordham's sister Maria, who, being in ill-health, had been sent to America in the hope that the change would prove beneficial. In the Wabash country she soon became acquainted with a Frenchman, Charles de la Serre, who was descended from a Huguenot family which had fled from France at the time of the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes and settled in Guernsey. La Serre had abandoned his English home for a life of travel and sport in the American wilderness and, when discovered by Flower, was spending his time with a band of Indians in the vicinity of the English Prairie. In a short time he and Maria Fordham were married; but the young wife was still an invalid and died a few years later. A daughter, born in July, 1823, was the mother of Dr. Hubert de Laserre Spence of Cleveland, through whose good offices it has been
33made possible to publish the documents contained in this book.
Elias Pym Fordham made an entry of land in the English Prairie, and, from the outset found abundant labors to occupy his time in surveying, investigating the quality of lands to be purchased, and assisting in the preparation of buildings, mills, etc., for the use of prospective settlers. William Faux, who visited the Prairie in November, 1819, tells us in his Memorable Days in America that he met Fordham and that the young emigrant "never means to return to England, except rich, or to be rich. If he fails here, he will turn hunter and live by his rifle on the frontiers." Concerning his actual fortunes in the new home we know little, but in any event his residence in America was comparatively brief. We hear of him while not yet a middle-aged man once more in England following his favored occupation of civil engineering. That he enjoyed a high reputation for skill and integrity is evidenced by his appointment as Engineer to the Cinque Ports — a position in those days of no small trust and responsibility. He is known also to have been employed by Stephenson in various technical undertakings of national importance.
Late in 1818 a member of the family in England made a transcript of portions of the letters and journals which Fordham had sent home during the past eighteen months from Illinois. The collection (which in recent years has come into the hands of Dr. Spence) was given the title, Extracts from Letters
34written on a Journey to the Western parts of the United States, and during a residence in the Illinois Territory, By an English Farmer. Its authorship has been positively identified and though it does not appear in all cases to whom the individual letters were addressed this is not a matter of much importance; the names of the addressees were omitted by the transcriber because they were regarded as of no consequence to the reading public, and because the persons in question were still living and did not desire the notoriety of appearing by name if the letters were printed. As a matter of fact, though it was evidently in the mind of the transcriber to publish the manuscript thus prepared, no further steps, so far as we know, were ever taken toward this end.
In adding another to the already long list of published records of western travel in the early part of the nineteenth century it may not be amiss to call attention briefly to the character of the new material and the degree of value it possesses for the student of western history. The manuscript falls naturally into three parts: (I) a series of seven letters, written between May 18 and November 15, 1817, from as many different places in the West and on the way thither; (2) a journal of daily happenings on and about the English Prairie from December 7, 1817, to February 26, 1818; and (3) another series of ten letters, written between February 3 and October 30, 1818, chiefly from Kentucky, Cincinnati
35at Princeton and New Harmony. Following roughly the chronology of Fordham's experiences during the first eighteen months of his sojourn in America, the movements which he recounts and the topics which he discusses, may be indicated somewhat as follows: the land and people of Virginia, a voyage up the Chesapeake, a trip on the Pennsylvania Road from Baltimore to Pittsburg, the people of western Pennsylvania, the city of Pittsburg, the descent of the Ohio to Cincinnati by flat-boat, the land and people of southern Indiana, establishing the settlement at the English Prairie, hardships of the first winter, the surveying and entering of public land, prices, wages, and labor in the West, the classes of people on the frontiers, a trip through Kentucky to Cincinnati, the character of the Kentuckians, the city of Cincinnati, the Rappite settlement at New Harmony, and the prospects for English emigrants in the American interior.
As is explained in the Preface prepared by the transcriber of the letters, the author wrote under all the disadvantages incident to the life of the frontier settler and explorer. He made no attempt to relate his experiences or to describe the Western people and country in a systematic and thoroughgoing fashion. He probably had not the slightest idea that the hurried letters which he despatched to relatives and inquiring friends and the fragmentary journals which he kept for their amusement and instruction would ever be put in print — at least without having undergone considerable revision.
36What we have in his writings is not a formal compendium of information, like Fearon's Sketches or Melish's Travels of an earlier date, but simply a personal narrative of life as an English immigrant found it, and learned to share it, in a favored region of the growing West. The claim of the manuscript to the dignity of source material for the study of Western history arises from its author's superior intelligence and training, his candor and utter artlessness, and his rather unusual opportunities for observation. The scientific trend of mind which his professional study had developed saved him from numerous errors of other writers and led him to a wholesome comprehension of the difficulty of describing a frontier people with entire fairness and accuracy. "I find it no easy task," he acknowledges frankly, "to write descriptions of manners and opinions. If individual pictures only be drawn, the inferences must be in part erroneous; and sketches of a more comprehensive nature are either loose and incorrect, or tame and unreadable." In the main, Fordham wrote cautiously and conservatively, confining himself pretty closely to what he had himself seen and giving the reader due notice when speaking merely from hearsay. His only object was to keep his relatives and friends informed concerning his novel experiences and to give them such facts as he felt to be of interest regarding the country and its people. He had no ambition to be known in London as the author of the latest book on America.
As much cannot be affirmed of most English visitors to the United States in this period, whose writings we possess. For, as Dr. Thwaites has well said, "Every English traveler hither, whether his journey was that of a serious investigator or merely of a tourist eager to behold strange lands and new conditions, felt impelled to give his personal impressions in volumes of varying merit, evincing every shade of admiration and dislike." Many of these books were mere collections of letters or diaries; only a very small number were in the nature of systematic treatises. This was inevitable; but the unfortunate thing, from the standpoint of the historical student at least, is that most of these publications were composed with a definite purpose either to promote or to discourage emigration. In the one case, America was pictured in the most extravagant manner as a land possessing every desirable physical resource and condition, inhabited by a people of rare enlightenment, and offering to every newcomer all the delights of material prosperity, free institutions, and opportunity for unlimited advancement; in the other, the country was represented to be an unhealthy wilderness, defying the substantial advance of civilization, and the people to be the off-scourings of Europe, now retrograded almost to the level of savages.
Fordham represents the type of English emigrant, all too rare, who appreciated to the full the manifold inconveniences and deprivations of life in a new country but yet had the faith to believe that
38the difficulties were only temporary and that incessant industry was all that was needed to transform the crude backwoods settlements into flourishing and enlightened commonwealths. Like other travelers, he saw many things — slavery, intemperance, ignorance, lack of manners — of which he could not but heartily disapprove, but he did not allow these to blind him to the fundamental facts of American opportunity and achievement. Without in any sense posing as a seer, he was able to forecast with remarkable success the main lines along which the development of the country took place during the two formative decades after he wrote. A sane optimism, a clear insight, an honest purpose — these were the young engineer's best qualifications as a portrayer of conditions and a chronicler of events in the Middle West of his day. F. A. O.
The following pages contain extracts from letters written by a young man to his friends in England. They were composed under every disadvantage: sometimes when the writer was surrounded by the noisy inhabitants of a smoky cabin, in his blanket tent, or in the bar room or no less public dormitory of a tavern. As he wrote to intimate and dear friends, and without any thought of their being presented to the world, the writer requests it may be remembered that what was meant for the eye of friendship alone is not a fair subject of criticism.
The author is now engaged in exploring the State of Illinois, and, probably will have further and better opportunities of describing this interesting country. Whether he will appear again before the public will be determined by the degree of favor now shown to him.
Nov. 2, 1818.
The ocean voyage — Ascent of the James — A Virginia landscape — Petersburg — The Virginia farmers — Voyage from Norfolk to Baltimore — The coasts of the Chesapeake.
On board the Schooner George Whythe. Chesapeak Bay May 18th 1817.
Our voyage was remarkably quick and, to those who were in health, agreeable.
44It becomes so feeble and indistinct after it reaches the Azores that it loses its name. But westward of the Banks it runs at one or two miles per hour or even faster. Bad weather is always expected within its current which varies from 200 to 60 miles in width. If fear was felt at any time, no person in the cabin expressed it, and I believe none felt it. Indeed, a gale of wind comes on so gradually that it is not nearly so formidable as one would suppose it would be to a landsman. The wind rises — studding sails are taken in — the waves roughen — top gallant sails are struck, and top-sails are reefed — the sky looks dark and darker yet — the waves climb the ship's sides and the spray rattles against the cabin windows — the dead lights or shutters are put in — the Captain and the officers are looking out to windward — a squall is seen in the distance, upturning the billows and covering their crests with foam; — "Brail up the Mizen quick; bear up the helm a weather;" — it comes — we are prepared; — the vessel stoops before it, snorts through the waves, rises again and bounds onward like a stag. One day while we were at dinner Mr. B. observed that the ship snorted more than usual, when the first mate came in and said "Captain, a heavy squall is coming." The Captain left his knife and fork sticking in the ham he was carving, and went out to give the necessary orders. The ladies at the cabin door, the gentlemen wrapped in boat cloaks and holding by the shrouds, awaited its coming. It did come — the waves dashed over us — the leeward ports sunk deep
45into the water; "Man the yards" — but, before a man had reached a shroud, in one instant, the foresail was split, rent from its yard, and carried in tatters over the ship's side. After this we lay under stormstay sails for 24 hours, but the heavy swell that followed the gale sprung the bowsprit and foretopmast.
We all liked our Captain exceedingly; next to the safety of the ship and the interest of the owners, the comforts of his passengers was the object of his attention. Mr. B. drew up a letter of thanks for his kindness to us, which we all signed, and presented to him the day before we left the ship; he was so affected by it that he could not restrain his tears.
We cast anchor in Hampton Roads on Saturday night,
The next morning the Jolly boat was sent ashore with part of the passengers, and the pinnace, decorated and manned with eight of the smartest sailors, took Mr. B., the ladies, and the Captain to Mr. H____'s, who is an acquaintance of the Captain's. Mr. H. was not at home, but Mrs. H. received the party with politeness. There was a great deal of company there and everything in and about the house was most elegant. After staying some time, sweetmeats were handed round by a train of black servants and the party received pressing invitations to return the next day.
I landed with the boys and young men on the opposite shore, on a most beautiful and picturesque bank which was covered with acacias in full blossom, almond trees covered with flowers of snowy whiteness, cedars, weeping willows, mountain ashes, laurestinas,
47and cultivated, and narrow vallies or rather ravines, clothed with shrubs which were beautiful beyond description scented the air with delightful perfumes, conducted streams of fresh water which were oftener heard than seen in the dark recesses of the thickets. Here, while a fervid sun rendered walking in the open fields painful, we enjoyed the most refreshing coolness, and birds of most beautiful plumage or of sweetest notes seemed to invite us to stay. The Mocking-bird which is here, as the Robin is in England, esteemed sacred, would scarcely avoid us, and partridges, turtle-doves, and hares started up at every step.
These delightful regions are cultivated by lazy Slaves, who are fat and comfortable enough in their general appearance, but who are never trusted out of the sight of the Overseers; nor are they, I am told, trustworthy.
After two days of excessive exertion, our ship was dragged through 300 yards of mud, into which she had sunk 3 feet. A few hours carried us to City point,
48gigs were not quite equal to English ones. Having been for some time an invalid, I was afraid of being jolted, and tried to get a saddle-horse; but that was not to be obtained. The saddle hurt the horse — or, I should hurt the horse — or, ride too fast; — at last a light sulky was found for me, which, when the horse trotted, shook my poor bones unmercifully. Our road was through forests of pine, live oak, acacias, and many ornamental trees. Spaces of cleared land occurred at intervals, with shabby farm houses, and now and then fields worn out, and abandoned to the growth of young pines and weeds. The land is not very good here, but the scenery beautiful.
Petersburg, a port and market town, was half destroyed by fire two years ago. The old part consists of wooden houses, surrounded by balconies and supported by posts. The Shops are like wooden booths. The new part, which already contains 300 handsome brick houses, would shame most of the country towns of England. After finishing our business, we went to dine at a tavern with about 60
49farmers, who had just arrived from the race-ground. A violent rain detained the whole party all night, which gave us an opportunity of gaining some information from the most intelligent and communicative guests of the tavern. When I speak of a Virginian farmer, at least, such as I have hitherto seen, you must not imagine him to be a plainly dressed, clownish man: nothing is more unlike; he is usually a tall, pale, genteel looking man; his language is correct and good with no vulgarisms in pronunciation. He has a free, independent, look. His easy manners and loose long dress remind you of a Frenchman, only that the latter has most frequently something of a military appearance, which the Virginian has not. Their manners are too familiar, though not coarse. They used to be great duellists; but since the laws against duelling are enforced with rigour, the young men, I am told, carry dirks and decide their quarrels upon the spot. This, I am assured, is a common practice. One young man was cut in the hand by a dirk at the tavern we slept at, soon after we went to bed.
Mr. B., having decided to go to the Ohio State as soon as he could, enquiries were made as to the most eligible mode of travelling. Indian corn being
50two $ per bushel at Richmond, and as in the Mountains it cannot be procured for any number of horses, I agreed to go down the River to Norfolk
51I hailed a Schooner, bound to Norfolk, and agreed with the master, a free Negro, to take me for 30$. His miserable cabin contained Sailors, negroes, and a half-bre[e]d indian woman and her child.
At Norfolk I arrived on Monday morning. That day and the next I was employed in looking out and bargaining for a vessel to take me to Baltimore. I got an introduction to an English merchant residing at Norfolk, who gave me much assistance. I engaged a small bark to take the goods and myself for 44$, and sailed on Tuesday evening. On board this bark I am at this moment. It is a tight little Schooner, commanded by a respectable young man, only 22 years old, but he is married and has a family. His crew consists of two boys and one man younger than myself. Young as we all are I can assure you we are very careful: in fact, Mr. Dennis is rather too much so for my patience; for I want to get round to Cincinnati in time to join Mr. B. who wishes me to go with him in his exploring journey.
I have now been six days out from Norfolk and am yet 200 miles from Baltimore. The Schooner though nearly full of our luggage, is yet so lightly loaded, that she does not stand well against head winds when they blow hard. We have run into harbour
52three times since we left Norfolk. The coasts of the Chesapeak thus far are low. The farm houses, which I have yet seen, are mean: the people live in a plain way. Even in Norfolk, though there is some splendor, there is little Comfort — English Comfort I mean. An air of lazy luxury pervades everything.
From Baltimore I shall proceed over land to Pittsburg. I must hire waggons for the luggage, and, if I am well enough, I shall walk with them. But, if I feel too weak for that, I shall go by the stages to Pittsburg, and thence down the Ohio to Cincinnati. My tour will be eleven or twelve hundred miles.
P. S. There is expected to be a great scarcity of wheat. Flour at Norfolk is worth 14 1/2$ per barrel. Indian Corn, which is the food for the horses and blacks, and much eaten by poor people, is 2$ per bushel. Corn bread, when new, is very palatable, and, I believe, wholesome. I have eaten scarcely any other.
When you consider I have been much engaged, and that I am not quite in health, you will excuse the negligent, loose, way, in which I have written this letter. I have been afflicted with headaches ever since the Seasickness left me, but I hope I shall regain my strength, as I live very temperately. The evening air is dangerous to new comers; for after a hot day, the dew falls like rain. I have a fire lighted in our little Cabin every evening. Wood costs nothing but the fetching. I have just been busying myself in chopping up a fine deal board, which the
54boys found on the shore. It went against my conscience to burn such a piece of wood, which had scarcely a knot in it and would have made four or five steps for a handsome Staircase.
Character of the Virginians — Unhealthful physical conditions — Baltimore — Communications between Baltimore and Pittsburg — The Marylanders — The Pennsylvanians — The East and West as fields for settlement.
I think I gave you an account of my voyage up the Chesapeak. That little trip made me more of a Sailor than my passage across the Atlantic; and I felt much more anxiety, as I had the charge of goods worth at least a thousand pounds, which could not be replaced. The whole crew of the little Schooner were one night so fatigued that they fell
56asleep repeatedly while the vessel's head was plunging under every wave. I steered her four hours myself.
Of the Virginians I can say but little of my own observations, but I hear from all quarters that they are urbane, hospitable and generous. They have very little commercial enterprise; they live much on their own Plantations, which they cultivate with little spirit. Almost all of them deplore the existence of Slavery; though they think it must be continued, now it is introduced. They were fond of gaming and they were till lately great duellists, but both practices are partially put a stop to by Laws lately enacted. It seems there is something in the influence of the fervid sun, under which they live, or probably in their education; for now duelling is prevented, they do not quarrel the less frequently; but they (that is the young men) draw the dirks, which they usually wear, and stab one another upon very slight provocations.
It is said they are peculiarly addicted to Swearing: I do not think they are more so than the Marylanders and Pennsylvanians; but all Swear a great deal. They are a tall, elegantly shaped race of men. The gentlemen are fairer than Englishmen, their faces being always shaded by hats with extraordinarily broad brims. The poorer people and overseers are very swarthy: on the hills of the westward, very healthy, but on the low shores of the Chesapeak very much otherwise.
I landed very often; and, sometimes rambled for miles through the Pine woods with my gun. At every opening where I saw a house I used to make up to it, and always received an invitation to enter, and sometimes to share a meal.
The Ague and Fever are very common here. I gave away in these visits all my bark and laudanum. They would send a negro five miles through the woods, and as far with a canoe on the water, for one or two doses. In return they always sent milk or anything I wanted. The medical men in these districts have not much reputation. I have no doubt that, with an Edinburgh Dispensary, I could gain a good income in any of these unhealthy districts, if my conscience would allow me. The Eastern shores of the Chesapeak are lower, if possible, than the western, and more intersected with marshes, which emit a most offensive effluvia. Such is the quantity of decaying vegetable and animal substances on these Shores that the stench arises through the salt-water when touched by the keel of a boat. There are some rich meadows here, which cattle can scarcely keep down, however numerous they may be.
58from the water, to the Petapsco
Do you ask me how I like this Country? Upon the whole very much. But there are many things to disgust an Englishman. There is too much Luxury; too much slavery, in Virginia and Maryland. But, on the other hand, the country is beautiful, most of the people are well informed; some men among the higher orders are very gentlemanly, elegant in their manners and cultivated in their understandings.
I had several letters of introduction; and the gentlemen with whom I became acquainted gave me
59much good advice respecting my journey and treated me with great kindness.
Mr. A. joined me at Baltimore.
The distance from this place to Pittsburg is 240 miles, across four ridges of mountains. The mail is six days going this distance — the waggons sixteen. They travel at 12, 15 or 20 miles per day. They avoid, as much as possible, the turnpike roads, & scramble over hills and mountains, where English waggons would be dashed to pieces; but these light carriages, built in a masterly way, & of the best materials, seem to be indestructible. The waggoners requested that we keep with them on the mountains; for the combined strength of several men is necessary to keep the waggons from upsetting in descending the cliffs. The horses would in England be admirably adapted for the gig or coach.
Plan of Pittsburg in 1817. A — Site of Fort Du Qyesné B — Fort Pitt C — City Hotel, where I lodged D — Bakewell's glass works F — O'Hara's Brewhouse G — Shipyard H — Col. Killbuck's island, a chief of the six nations
Maryland, which I have now traversed from Baltimore to its Eastern extremity, is very hilly; and westward, very mountainous. Even the plains between the ranges would be reckoned hilly in England. They are in general very rich; and, where this
60is the case, the people are so too. A great many Quakers among the Marylanders are Slave-holders. They are not like the Virginians; being a mixture of Dutch, German, Irish; boorish when poor, rather reserved when rich; very inquisitive, but soon repulsed. I have been but 15 or 16 days among them, so you must take my observations as giving only a hasty sketch.
As soon as I entered Pennsylvania, I remarked a different people. Here are no slaves; white people are seen working in the fields and roads. They are cleaner than the Dutch, but the latter are not always boorish. If Maryland be the land of hills, Pennsylvania is the land of mountains. We have struggled over four distinct ridges — the North Mountains — the South Mountains — the Cove Mountains & the Sidelong Hills. The two last are infested with banditti, after whom about 40 young men went with their rifles about a week since. These men have not yet attacked travellers, but they plunder farmers
61of their clothes and cattle. They have women with them, and live in wigwams among the rocks.
My health having suffered from a severe cold, which I could not attend to while I was travelling with the waggons and as I could hear nothing of the three hindermost, I stopped here yesterday at noon. Mr. A. went on with the first; to-day the last came up. I shall proceed to-morrow by the Stage to the foot of the Allegany mountains; and if I hear that the roads over them are bad, I shall again march with the foremost waggon which contains the Piano. We have already saved it from being dashed to pieces twice: it is a high load, as the case would not lie at the bottom of the waggon. If I hear a good account of the road I shall go on in the Stage to Pittsburg, which I shall then reach in three days. At Pittsburg I hope to meet the ladies: Mr. B. and -------- I suppose are gone to explore the South Western country.
I have visited to-day the mineral springs; about a mile and a quarter from this little town.
62pr. acre. Then it is one's own; few taxes, no tythes, good market, society, & European papers daily.
I am not sure that English elderly people would do right to pass the mountains. The ocean is a mere nothing; and if all I hear of Philadelphia and N. York be true, an English family with moderate property may fancy themselves in England improved on a hired farm. For young men, everybody agrees, that the Western territory will be the best to settle in. But, alas, it is another world; not only distant but distinct from Europe; more connected with the Spanish Main, with the East Indies even, than with England. The bright side of the prospect is, that the further West (I quote Gen. Wilkinson)
63laborious, enterprising, set of men, mingled with sharpers, desperadoes, &c. Then rise towns and cities.
Give my kindest remembrances to all friends — I cannot mention all the names that I value. Excuse the incorrectness of this letter, for time is seldom at my command — you have a better or truer description of what I see and feel than a more laboured one would give.
Vices of the western Pennsylyanians — Slavery, and society in the slave states — The climate of the United States.
Pittsburg June 17, 1817.
Though I have so long delayed, yet I have not forgotten to write. Several times I have begun a letter, which I wanted time to finish. I have put it in my travelling trunk, seen more, and found that I had written down first impressions, which upon deeper insight I have discovered to be erronious.
Of this singular country nothing is known in England: the Inhabitants of its cities even do not know it, so various and contrasted are the materials of which its population is composed, so strange is the structure of society, so imperfectly is it cemented by opinion.
Of the Inhabitants of the Northern States, or Yankees, I have seen nothing: they have the reputation of being very keen, shrewd, enterprising and industrious. The Merchants of the Cities are like the Merchants of England: indeed, most of them finish their commercial education in England, France, or Holland.
But the inhabitants of the interior of Pennsylvania are very different. Coarse in their manners, inquisitive to a tormenting degree, careless of giving pain or offense, and obstinate in persisting in their rudeness: these are the most common features in their characters. They are chiefly of Dutch, German,
65or Irish extraction; and in general seem to have preserved all the vices of their forefathers, and to have acquired a few others. Whisky is very cheap. With the labour of an hour a man may purchase as much as will make him ferocious, if not drunk; he fights with the first drunkard he meets, and they bite each other like dogs, or tear out each other's eyes. Perhaps disgust has induced me to shade the picture too darkly.
66of a German in Bedford County — a tavern frequented by waggoners; if I had been a son, I could not have been better treated. The landlady prescribed for me and nursed me, the sons came to chat to me at my bedside, and the old man never passed my chamber door without enquiring how I was. Books were borrowed for me in the Town, and I read the Romances of Mrs. Radcliffe
In Maryland, a slave state, the people are more mild and civilized. The Virginians, though dissipated, are gentlemen. I am told by a person of this town that I shall universally find a good society and polished manners in Slave States, and the reverse where slavery is not allowed. If this be the case, how superior is England to America, as a place of residence, to those who can afford to stay there!
The Southern States, at least Georgia and the Carolinas, must be cultivated by blacks or abandoned. The heat there is so excessive in August that to walk a mile in the Sun would subject a European to the most imminent danger. The landed Proprietors of those States are hospitable and generous, but not so refined as the Virginians. They make great profits from their plantations; but they are usually in debt, & are dissipated and indolent.
The climate of the United States, from the Latitude of 39° North, is very severe. Sleighs are seen at every house. The Monongahela, which is rolling its turbid waves beneath my window, is frozen across every winter, and loaded waggons pass to the opposite bank; yet now the Thermometer I think would be as high as 90 in the shade. I could not venture out in the Sun without suffering for my imprudence, now I am in ill health. When I recover I shall be more hardy. When I crossed the Alleganies the leaves on the Trees were frost bitten on each side, and the weather here is as hot as it is ever known to be in England. . . .
The baggage amounts to 9,000 lbs. weight, contained in about 70 packages. I have sent off half of it under the care of Mr. A., in a keel boat. The remainder is not come in, and if it does not arrive tonight, I shall tomorrow take a horse and go in search of it. Mr. B.'s Phaeton was left in Virginia. The party travelled by the Stage as far as it was safe from M'cConnal's town
68place. They walked 120 miles across the Mountains, along roads of which you can have no idea. . . .
If the Ladies should be left at Cincinnati, I believe they will proceed with me by water to St. Louis, Missouri Territory.
Having said so much against the commonalty of this Republic, I ought to say, that from the gentlemen, and there are gentlemen here, I have met with kindness, politeness and hospitality. M * * N * *, DeG* * of N * * and some others, remind me of those I most love and esteem in England.
Excuse this bad writing; having just been bled, I cannot mend my pen, and the heat makes my head ache. I shall not close the letter, 'till I leave this place.
June 19th: Since writing the above, I have been in agreeable parties — a higher set. I have met with women, whose Manners are quite English, and whose personal appearance and attractions would be admired anywhere.
I am informed that Mr. B. has reached Cincinnati, and that he intends leaving the ladies there. I am going to embark on a flat boat; my provisions are already on board. Cincinnati is 500 miles hence, and I shall be 10 days on the voyage.
Methods of earlier writers on the West — Pittsburg — Industries of the vicinity — Flat-boats and keels on the Ohio — The start down the river — Neville's Island — Logstown — Beavertown — Wheeling — Fish Creek — A thunder-storm — Marietta — The Muskingham [Muskingum] — Blennerhassett's Island — Galliopagus [Gallipolis] — Portsmouth — Manchester — Maysville — Augusta — Arrival at Cincinnati.
On the Ohio River June 22.
. . . If it be observed that my letters contain no information concerning the state of the country, you may say in my defence, that I have but little opportunity to make correct observations; I have something else to do. It is very easy to write letters and books, too, as Mellish, Wild
71him all he chooses to tell them, and set it down: nine times in ten the information is very incorrect, sometimes purposely distorted. No dependence can be placed on any representation but that of an intelligent, honest man, long resident in the country, and who is personally well disposed toward you.
When I arrived at Pittsburg I went to Mr. B. of that place with letters of introduction. As I was very ill, I consulted Mrs. B. about having Medical advice. She recommended me to Dr. M. and to him I went; — he was a sensible clever man & set me up for 6$. I expected to have paid 20$.
72mostly engaged in manufactures. The land around is fertile, though too hilly. It is pretty well cleared near the town, but 10 miles off the country is an immense forest, broken into and gapped by settlers. The farmers live well and work rather hard. Their servants are paid 75 cents per day and are boarded — in the morning with meat and coffee, hot meat and whisky at dinner and coffee, cold meat, and vegetables for Supper. Farming is not reckoned very
75profitable, but there are many able, that is rich, farmers. A Saw Mill is very profitable. One on a constant stream, costing 6 or 700$ will earn its value in one year; and sometimes a great deal more. When worked by steam and connected with a Grist Mill, it is an excellent business. It then requires a capital of 13 or 1400Å sterling. Tradesmen at Pittsburg live well and save money; but they complain of hard times, because Peace has thrown the Ocean trade into New Orleans, which they in War monopolized.
Mr. Bakewell's glass works are admirable: he has
76excellent artists, both French and English. His Cut Glass equals the best I have seen in England.
Brewing succeeds well here, especially the Porter Brewery. New Orleans is the principal market for it. The Pottery business must be very profitable; a plate, worth a 1d. in England, sells here for 6d. Distilling on a small scale answers well: many farmers are distillers.
I met some Baltimore acquaintances here, Messrs. E ------ Senr. & Junr. The old man took me
79to see his son's manufactory of Steam Engines and his Foundery. Seventy men were employed in the different works.
I sent off the first load of baggage under the care of Mr. A., and when the remainder arrived I hired freight on board a flat boat for 50 cents per cwt. These flat boats or Orleans boats as they are called in the Western Waters are from 12 to 25 feet wide, and from 30 to 90 feet long. They are sold when they arrive at their place of destination, and broken up. Not a 100 nails are used in building one, but they are stuck together with wooden pins. They will carry 700 barrels of flour. They cost 1$ pr. foot in length and sell for Åº$. They are manned by four men each, and a pratoon. In the Mississippi double that number is necessary for the stream runs eight miles an hour: and is full of Eddies. Goods are brought up the river on keels or keel-boats, which require 12 or 24 men to row and pole them against the current. It was in such a boat that Lewis and Clarke ascended the Missouri; it was built at Pittsburg.
On Thursday, at noon, I went on board my Kentucky boat: there was another lashed to it. Having bid my friends farewell, we pushed off into the middle of the stream, which here runs at 3 miles an hour.
81is well farmed by his tenants. This is not often the case: very little land is rented here.
On Friday the 20th we advanced 60 miles, passed Big beaver Creek, 70 yards wide at the mouth. Four miles up it has falls or rapids, which extend three miles. On them are forging, fulling, and grist mills; chiefly in the hands of Quakers. The river here is very crooked, bounded by high, precipitous, banks, which are covered with gigantic trees. In some places bare rocks project into the Stream, forming eddies and ripples. Beavertown,
83place, was almost the only break we saw this day. It stands 200 feet above the river. The rounded pebbles evince that the Ohio has been 200 feet higher here, than it is now. We passed two or three log houses and taverns, with an acre or two of cleared land attached to each, but the general character of the river scenery is gloomy and grand. My amusement was to row the skiff through the eddies, to land and scramble up the rocks and search for curious plants or squirrels. This skiff is so light that I can with ease catch the boats when they are 3 miles ahead. I find that I have not forgotten the art of swimming, so that I am under no apprehension when the skiff strikes a log as it sometimes does.
I should have told you that I had a letter to Major N ----, son of Gen. N ----. This gentleman has shewn me much civility. His father was the richest man in Pensylvania, and has signalized himself
84in the Indian Wars. In Mr. N ------'s house I found books of taste; Ariosto, the English poets, &c &c, which was quite refreshing after a long journey through the wilds of Pensylvania. Major N. has given me a letter to his father the General.
The inhabitants of the western towns are not so hospitable as they were formerly. The constant stream of emigration would make such hospitality enormously expensive. Besides there are so many unworthy characters amongst these emigrants, that the people are become shy of them.
Saturday 21st. The hills are now rather lower, and the woods a little more broken by settlements. Mr. ----- and -----, my fellow passengers, landed at Wheeling,
85Ohio (the County, Virginia) and contains 120 houses 11 stores and 2 inns. I bought a tin pot for boiling coffee for 62Ë Cents. Several men were drinking at the Tavern. At 9 A. M. this day it was excessively hot. A shower fell, and the moisture immediately rose off the plants in dense steam. We moored at night below Fish Creek,
86an hour, I heard voices in answer; and presently I saw a light. It was kindled on the deck of one of the boats, which was moored under the shade of some gigantic Sycamores. The sultry dark night — the croaking of the frogs — and the innumerable fireflies, which were flashing among the trees, all foretold a storm; which came on an hour after midnight. The lightning fell so near us, that we distinctly heard it whiz through the air. The trees, rocks, and hills were at times distinctly visible in the intense blaze, then lost in utter darkness; while the sky was rent by rattling thunder. The thunderstorms in England are insignificant to those of America.
Sunday the 22d. We made a short trip this day; — not quite 40 miles. The banks of the river here are exceedingly crooked, high, and crowned with dark forests.
Monday 23d. Landed at Marietta
87pretty town on the banks of the Muskingham, having about 120 houses. This town is laid out on rather a large scale, which will not be filled up for a century or more. The streets are now green lanes, bounded by worm fences. Where houses ought to be, there are now groves or gardens. The land is good, and pretty well cultivated. Here I found Dr. B., whose men were going to leave him. He wished me much to take the command of his boat, which I declined, as I did not like to leave my luggage. I, however, found and engaged two sailors for him.
The banks of the Ohio are now comparatively low and fertile, both on the Ohio and Kentucky side, but most so on that of the latter state. They are not yet more than broken into by the axe of the cultivator. The Muskingham is a fine river. It is crossed by a ferry boat, attached to a cable stretched high above the water, alternately at the head and stern of the ferry boat it is carried over either
88way by the force of the current.
As the late rains have made the waters uncommonly high, our pratoon held on all night. On Tuesday we passed Blannerhasset's Island.
89attempt which he made to excite an insurrection against the government of the United States.
On Wednesday we moored at Portsmouth
90miles from Pittsburg. The men at the oars of the second boat, Germans and Swiss, not understanding the orders of the Pratoon, pulled it into a current they were unable to stem, and it was driven against a tree with a tremendous crash. It was loaded with Iron, and had my luggage on board. It got off with no material damage, except being stripped of one of its roofs. Whilst the attention of our people was called off to that boat, we were drifting on a Planter, the point of which projected about a foot above the water. Our Pratoon called the men to their duty; but though the boat cleared it, one oar, made of an entire tree, caught against the stump. The men dropped down to save themselves; I had that moment, thrown myself on the oar to assist them. Its recoil threw me into the boat, with no injury but a slight contusion on the thigh.
After we had moored at Portsmouth, Messrs. P----- C----- and myself went to the mouth of the Scioto, and then into the skiff, to see the ancient Indian fort opposite Alexandria.
91though not the first constructors of the fort, which is a circular redoubt, were defeated here by Gen. St. Clair
92us, but so often was the skiff bumped against logs, that Mr. C. preferred walking on shore and dragging the rope when he could. In two hours and a half we got up the river, high enough to cross over to Portsmouth. With two oars and two paddles, we worked as hard as three young men in high spirits could work. We dashed across in the midst of floating logs and branches of trees, which the river was bringing down in great abundance.
Thursday — . A heavy thunderstorm and rain kept us within this morning. Called at Manchester,
We reached at length the pleasant thriving town of Maysville,
93the tall, pale, well dressed men, and agreeable looking women, reminded me of Virginia, of which Kentucky is an offslip. There are a few slaves in this place, comfortable, sleek looking fellows. We entered the port in the afternoon, amid repeated feux de joie from some small pieces of cannon. On enquiring the cause, we learnt that a vessel from Baltimore had just arrived with Gen. N. from New Orleans, and several from Pittsburg, and on this account they were firing. I smiled at the cause, yet I could not but admire the effect of this cannonade. The echoes rolled along the high banks like claps of thunder.
The dislike of Slavery is becoming less violent. There are more men of refined manners and cultivated minds in the slave states, than in those that are more consistently democratic. This I learn more from information than observation; yet both more and more confirm me in this opinion. Behind this town is a fine, rocky, eminence, up to which we scrambled through a watercourse. On the top, we were rewarded for our trouble by a birds-eye view of the Town, and the river of Limestone Creek, as
94rich and beautiful as can be imagined. The top of the hill is a rich, black, earth, producing abundant crops of Indian corn and wheat: the latter is changing colour. . . .
In two days I shall see my friends in Cincinnati, from whom I have been separated seven weeks today; and I have travelled in that time 1200 miles.
Saturday. Left the pretty town of Augusta;
We moored in the course of the day seven miles from Cincinnati. If a thundergust had not occurred, I should have gone thither in the skiff, but it was not possible. So I rolled about in my blanket all night, called the Pratoon before day, tugged at the oar with the men, and got to Cincinnati
Lack of time for writing — The trip across Indiana — Vincennes — The Indians of the neighborhood — Princeton — Prices of land.
St. Vincennes State of Indiana July 26. 1817.
I wrote to C----- as I descended the Ohio, and finished my letter at Cincinnati and sent it thence to Philadelphia. I hope it has been received safe by this time, for I had great pleasure in writing it, and often pictured to myself your family circle, gathered together in the garden parlour, listening to the narrative of the journeyings of their poor wanderer. . . .
I cannot give you a journal of our march across Indiana: many sheets of paper could not contain it; and I am too well employed in business or too much engaged in the pleasures of the chase, to devote much time to writing. Do not take this confession unkindly; if I am wrong, I have many excuses and palliatives to offer; — but I know you will excuse me.
We travelled on horseback, each person furnished with an upper and under blanket, and saddle-bags, and two pack horses with extra luggage and bedding. Taverns on the road are bad and "few and far between." Farmers have generally a room appropriated to the reception of travellers, for whose food they charge moderately. We were furnished with guns and tomohawks, and all things
96necessary to encamp in the woods; which Mr. B. actually did one night; but the main body of the party escaped that adventure.
Indiana is a vast forest, larger than England, just penetrated in places, by the back-wood settlers, who are half hunters, half farmers.
This old town, which was a settlement made by the Indian traders, stands near the river on a beautiful prairie, surrounded by woods and gently rising hills. Its inhabitants are Canadian and European French, Anglo Americans, Negroes, and a few half-bre[e]d Indians. The French have given their tone of manners to the place.
There are many Indians in the neighborhood, Delawares, Miamies, and Kaskaskians. The former
97tribe contains about 1200 warriors, and are a fierce, determined race of men. The Miamies and Kaskaskians, though excellent warriors, are more mild. They all hunt and fight with rifles, and are good marksmen. I have seen a young Delaware warrior present a heavy rifle, and hold it immovable without a rest, for several minutes. Some of the Miamies are very fine fellows; comparatively rich. Their Tomohawks and guns are beautifully ornamented. They ride blood ponies; and some of them have handsome saddles and bridles.
I have received an invitation to visit a camp of Miamies, a few miles hence, and to join a hunting party. I have declined it, not being master of sufficient leisure, nor do I know enough of the Indian, who invited me, to entrust myself with them.
We staid at St. Vincennes a week, then went 25 miles S. W. to a little new town, called Princetown,
98and there the ladies, servants, and myself are left, while Mr. B----- & ----- go on to explore.
I have met with two agreeable men, of whom I have heard excellent characters, and who have shown me great civilities. Mr. H----- and Col. E----- a gentleman from Virginia. The latter, especially, is a very engaging man; just after my own heart. All I have heard of him has been favorable, and the best of it has been confirmed to me by Gen.----- an old revolutionary officer.
Col. E----- and Mr. H-----have proposed to form a grand hunting party, as soon as I shall be at leisure; and Judge P----- with several experienced hunters are to go with us. We shall be out several days. Our game will be deer, bears, and opossums.
My health is good. I never sleep in a bed: usually my cloak and saddle-blanket, spread on the floor, form my couch. The climate is so fine, that sleeping in open balconies is a common practice.
I left Princetown yesterday, accompanied by ----- in order to copy a map of the Southern part of the State of Indiana from the Maps of the Land Office. I shall most probably finish it, and return, tomorrow.
Mr. B., after he returns from the Illinois territory, wishes minutely to survey the banks of the Ohio, from the Wabash to the Great Miami.
Best land is worth 6 or 700Å sterling per section: further from Market 350 Å or 400Å — uncleared.
Let important letters have duplicates, and even triplicates, sent by different ships, and with different directions.
The forests of Indiana — The Indiana Constitution — Character and prices of land — Emigration directed further west — Commercial importance of the Mississippi — Unhealthy conditions on the lower Mississippi — The Wabash — Description of Princeton — Prospective visit to the Illinois Territory.
July 31. 1817. Princetown, Gibson County, Indiana.
. . . We left Cincinnati in the last week in June, and crossed over the Great Miami River into Indiana. Excepting on the banks of the Rivers Ohio and Wabash, this state is one vast forest, intersected by a few Blaze roads
101Courts, and a Supreme Court. Its civil code is founded on the Common Law of England. Every office, civil or military, is elective, and held only during good behaviour. Every citizen is by law a soldier, but he need not enter the regular army unless he choose it. Every Citizen may carry what arms he please for the defence of his person or property. Slavery is not allowed in this State. All religions are equally protected. The word "tolerate" is not to be found in the articles of their Constitution.
The land near the Water Courses is excellent. Some of the very first quality; but all that is quite conveniently situated on the Ohio banks, that is,
102high, dry, and rich, has been already entered. It was bought at the auctions of the U. S. at high prices, from 10 to 15$ pr. acre. What was not then sold may now be purchased at 2$ pr. acre at the Land Offices; but it is often better to give 6 or 7$ per acre to the first settler for his chosen section with an improvement upon it, than to go into the woods, away from a navigable river and take land at the Land Office price.
103chance, however, in this latter plan, for there is a district as large as all England to be picked over now. Mr. ----- and I have a great fancy to look
104at the Western side of the Illinois territory; and since he and Mr. B----- have left me here, I have received an account of a tract of land on the left bank of the Mississippi, reaching from Kaskaskia
105acres, with house and buildings, for 5$ pr. acre; the land, half prairie, half wood, and all richer than your tame, English, imagination can conceive; at least, if it be equal to the descriptions I have of it.
The wave of Emigration has already reached 200 miles up the Missouri. It is this thirst, this rapacious desire, to obtain the very best land, that keeps Indiana so thinly inhabited.
If the whole population of England were planted in Indiana and Illinois, there would be good land enough in the state and territory to make every man an independent farmer.
Were the choice left to me, I would settle on the Ohio banks below the falls,
106that "father of waters," as the Indians call it, below its junction with the Missouri; because that great river must be as much the high road of Commerce as Main Street is in Philadelphia, or Cheapside in London. Every kind of produce is sent to New Orleans in the cheapest way — to Europe if you please, or to the West Indies, for Sea vessels are often built on the river, but flat boats are the usual conveyances. For the conveyance of goods up the river, keel boats are used which are impelled by sails, oars and poles. Steam boats are now beginning to supersede their use, and one of 400 tons burden has made several trips.
Again — the Mississippi banks below the Ohio mouth are universally unhealthy, generally uninhabitable, from the overflowing of the River and the many Bayous which form inland swamps of great extent. The perpendicular rise of the river water is sometimes 200 feet, at such times the whole valley of the Mississippi below the Ohio is overflowed. Now this is not the case above the Ohio. The Bluffs of Kaskaskia are always safe. How valuable then must land be in such situations in a few years, when the population above, and the trade below, have increased, so that towns, like Cincinnati and Pittsburg, shall be built on convenient landing places. — The finest land in the world, on the banks of the greatest river, with the market at your gate.
108warm, transparent, waters over a bed of sand and gravel. It is navigable for keels nine and for batteaux and flats twelve months in the year. It interlocks with the head waters of the Great Miami of the Lakes. Its Eastern fork, the Missisipany, rises in rich low ground, and so near to the springs of St. Mary's, which is the principal branch of the Miami of the lakes, that when the waters are high, boats pass over the intervening land.
Princetown, where we now reside, is situated about ten miles from the Wabash, 12 from the White River, 28 from the Ohio, and 30 South of Vincennes. It stands on a range of hills in the midst of woods. It was laid out 3 years ago, but one cabin stood here 11 years ago. There are three small brick, four or five frame, and seven or eight log, houses, and about a dozen cabins in the town. The stumps of the trees have not yet had time to rot away in the streets, which are therefore dangerous to walk in after dark. We have hired a small frame house, with a log kitchen &c, adjoining a good garden and stable.
The woods around us are inhabited by Indians, bears, wolves, deer, opossums and raccoons. We hear the howling of the wolves every evening, as they are driven back from the farmyards by the dogs, who flock together to repel the invaders.
In looking in the maps, I find I am wrong in saying, that the Indians inhabit the neighborhood. Their boundary line is thirty miles hence, but they often hunt here.
August 3d. 11 at night. I delayed finishing this letter, because ----- returned two days ago, and Mr. B----- this evening. I am going off tomorrow by sunrise to the Illinois territory, to explore the Little Wabash for a mill seat ----- G----- will go part of the way with me.
I am informed that the Illinois is a most beautiful country; — quite unsettled in the interior, with no accommodations for travellers but such as the cabins of the hunter afford. In my next letter I hope I shall be able to give you some important information.
. . . I wish you could see your brother mount his horse to morrow morning. I will give you a sketch. A broad brimmed straw hat, — long trousers and moccasins, — shot pouch and powder horn slung from a belt, — rifle at his back, in a sling, — tomohawk in a holster at his saddle bow, — a pair of saddle bags stuffed with shirts and gingerbread, made by an old friend of yours, — Boat cloak and Scotch tent buckled behind the saddle. . . . Good bye.
P. S. Tell ----- and ----- that I like them well enough to wish them here. Bears eat neither cows, hogs, nor sheep, till they have been accustomed to see them two or three years; by that time they are hunted away.
Physical character of southern Illinois — The English Prairie — Three lines of communication with the Atlantic — Settlers in and about the English Prairies — Rates of freightage — Cost of travel — A tabular view of products — Fauna of the region — Salt deposits — Cost of building — Advantages of the backwoods settler — Profits of trade — Land the basis of wealth — The Mississippi river system — Slaves and bound persons —Classes of frontier settlers — Character of the backwoodsman — Democratic manners — Signs of progress — How to take up land — Eastern ignorance of the West — The climate — Size of the Illinois Territory — Opportunities for capital in Illinois — No prejudice against liberal-minded Englishmen.
I am here resting from a journey through part of the Wabash country, and I gladly seize this opportunity of describing it. But I must first express
112my regret that I have not yet received a letter from old England. . . .
That part of the Illinois Territory
115Limestone has been found in the Piankeshaw village prairie,
The English Prairie
116+, and we have a hunting cabin on the spot marked o; and there will probably be a range of cottages on the dotted line.......
The little Wabash,
The Steam boats descend the Ohio and the Mississippi so rapidly that I could be with you in Hertfordshire, via New Orleans, in two months.
The spaces on the map contained by the dark lines are Mr. Birkbeck's and Mr. Flower's purchases.
117line a.b. Besides this, they have made entry of another prairie, near the little Wabash. The dots are entries made by American Back-woodsmen.
All but six have been made since August. There were none at that time in the Village Prairie, two miles to the North of us: there are now 15. A Mr. DePugh made an entry of a quarter section in the Village Prairie; a month afterwards, he wished to sell in order to purchase close to our settlement, and he has been bid 3Ë$ pr. acre for his land.
Let us go back to the means of access to our settlement. It is on a ridge between the Great and Little Wabash; nearly equi-distant from both. The former is always navigable; the latter two months in the year; and two days ago, I signed a petition to the Governor, requesting permission and authority to form a Company, for the purpose of rendering it permanently navigable.
Mr. Birkbeck's and Flower's purchase in the Brushy Prairie
The present rate of freightage is — from Shawnee to Orleans 1$ per hundred lbs. — back 4Ë$ — to Pittsburg 3Ë$ — from Pittsburg 1$ — from Louisville, Kentucky, 373Ë cents — from Shawnee, or the
118mouth of the Wabash, to Carmi,
|Indian Corn — 50 to 80 bushels||.25 per bush.|
|Wheat — 25 to 30||.75|
|Barley — say 32||.75|
|Oats — 50||.37Ë|
|Tobacco --12 to 15 hundred lbs.||4.50 per hundred lbs.|
|Cotton for domestic manufacture||40.00|
|Pork — fatted in the woods||3.50|
|Do. — corn-fed||4.00|
|Hides||12.00 pr. hundd. lbs.|
|Maple Sugar||37.50 -----|
|Honey||.75 per gallon.|
|A day's work||.50 with board.|
|A labourer's board||.12Ë|
|A horse and man, one day Do. with a plough||1.00 (without 1.25 board)|
|A good horse||60.00|
|A handsome saddle horse||100.00|
|A Sow with Pigs||6.00|
|Shop-goods — double what they are in England.|
In the Woods there are great quantities of Grapes, Walnuts, Hickory Nuts, and Parsimins; and, in low river bottoms, Pocoons, a species of thin shelled walnut, and little pappaws. Raspberries and strawberries grow wild; as do also hops and indigo. Hemp and flax are cultivated; and I have eaten in these wilds as fine musk and water Melons, as I have in France
Game is as plentiful here as in other parts of the U. S. east of the Mississippi. Bears, Deer, Raccoons, and Beavers, are chiefly valued by the hunters. There are wolves, a very few panthers, and some elk in remote situations; Also Turkeys, Pheasants, American Partridges, prairie Hens, and innumerable Squirrels, which are delicious food. The rivers abound with fish, some species of which weigh upwards of 100 lbs.
There are many Salt ponds. Those at the Saline
120river near Shawnee
A Cabin of rough logs, containing 2 rooms costs 50$ — Ditto, smoothed by the axe 60$. A brick house containing 4 rooms 12 feet square with shingled roof 600$. A Kitchen detached, log built 30$. Smoke house 20$. Stable for 4 horses, with loft, 35$. Corn house 30$. Barn 100$. Fencing with split-rails 25 Cents per rod. Ditching in the Prairies 31Åº; one rail and stakes to do, with hedge planted, perhaps, 12Ë Cents more.
Farming will not, perhaps, pay more per Cent here than it does in England, if the farmers personal labour be deducted. There is an obvious reason for this; although we are here 1500 miles from the sea, yet the water communication is so expeditious and cheap, that the prices in West Indian and
121European Markets affect the value of produce here, so wonderfully and beautifully does the commerce undisturbed by war connect men living in the most distant regions, and equalize the profits of producing food.
But, still the advantage is greatly in favour of the back settler in America: His table is profusely furnished; if he choose, with delicacies: He is lord of the soil he cultivates: His land tax, on first rate land, is 1 Cent per acre; on second rate Åº of a Cent: And the lowest estimate of the annual rise of the value of his Estate, even when unimproved by cultivation and building, is 16 per Cent per annum on first cost.
Trade, from the general want of capital, and other causes with which I am unacquainted, is exceedingly profitable. 75 to 100 per Cent is reckoned a good profit; 50 per cent is a living profit; 25 pr. cent, will not keep a man to his business, he will look out for something else. A Tanner is now in the room, who has quitted N. York and a business which paid him 30 pr. Cent. He is going to St. Louis to establish himself there with the expectation of getting Cent per Cent.
I had the following account from a River Trader
|A boat of 36 tons burden from Orleans to Louisville||Dr. $||Cr. $|
|14 men at 75$||1050||Freight of 36 tons at 90$||3240|
|-- board for 75 days||525||Deduct expences||1750|
|-- extra pay to Steersman||75||------|
|-- wear of boat||100 ------||Clear profit remaining||1400|
Freighting down to Orleans will pay the expence of going, and leave one or two hundred dollars overplus. But if, besides 700 dollars, the price of a new boat completely rigged, the owner has a capital of 1500 or 2000$, he may make the Voyage down pay him from 500 to 1500 dollars. The whole trip is completed in two or three months. Steam boats pay better interest still, and are gradually increasing in number and perfection of machinery. . . .
Moreover, Land is the basis of wealth. The possession of it is sure to enrich the purchaser, if he has selected it with any judgment. The enhancement of its value does not depend on contingent circumstances, but on the never ceasing and progressive increase of the human race. We are here on the most favorable spot for buying it; we have headed the tide of Emigration.
My friends have made their election almost before a civilized being had set his foot upon this ground, which a few months ago was traversed only by the Savage or the hunter. From the contemplation of an entire continent, they descended to the examination of limited states. With minds unbiassed and intensely fixed upon its object they have passed by every district that offered peculiar advantages, till they found one that contained an aggregate of all: — the climate of Virginia, — the fertility of Ohio, — a commercial communication with the Ocean, — Prairies, like those of the Missouri, —
123the Minerals from the North and East, — and — freedom from slavery.
If you will look at any of the Maps constructed since the Travels of Pike or Lewis and Clarke have been published,
124a Gulf, which seems to be designed by Nature to be the very focus of Commerce — the centre of the habitable world.
The Illinois territory is watered by five of the most important of these streams. It is bounded by no tract of land intended by Nature to be a desert. Northward lies one inland Sea, and North Eastward, it has water communication with another.
The ease with which property is acquired by the industrious, produces an equality unknown in old Countries. No white man or woman will bear being called a servant, but they will gladly do your work.
125Your hirelings must be spoken to with Civility and cheerfulness. Domestic services, perhaps, will be obtained with difficulty.
Respectable families from Kentucky, who do not distinguish between a Servant and a Slave, do all their domestic work, except washing, with their own hands; others indenture negroes for 10 or 15 years; but having been accustomed to treat their Slaves with severity, they generally spoil the tempers of their bound servants, whom they have not so much under command.
The people who live on these frontiers may be divided into four classes, — not perfectly distinct yet easily distinguishable.
1st. The hunters, a daring, hardy, race of men, who live in miserable cabins, which they fortify in times of War with the Indians, whom they hate but much resemble in dress and manners. They are unpolished, but hospitable, kind to Strangers, honest and trustworthy. They raise a little Indian corn, pumpkins, hoes, and sometimes have a Cow
126or two, and two or three horses belonging to each family: But their rifle is their principal means of support. They are the best marksmen in the world, and such is their dexterity that they will shoot an apple off the head of a companion. Some few use the bow and arrow. I have spent 7 or 8 weeks with these men, have had opportunities of trying them, and believe they would sooner give me the last shirt off their backs, than rob me of a charge of powder. Their wars with the Indians have made them vindictive. This class cannot be called first Settlers, for they move every year or two.
2d. class. First settlers; — a mixed set of hunters and farmers. They possess more property and comforts than the first class; yet they are a half barbarous race. They follow the range pretty much; selling out when the Country begins to be well settled, and their cattle cannot be entirely kept in the woods.
3d. class. — is composed of enterprising men from Kentucky and the Atlantic States. This class consists of Young Doctors, Lawyers, Storekeepers, farmers, mechanics &c, who found towns, trade, speculate in land, and begin the fabric of Society. There is in this class every gradation of intellectual and moral character; but the general tone of Social manners is yet too much relaxed. There is too much reliance upon personal prowess, and the laws have not yet acquired sufficient energy to prevent violence.
Such are the Inhabitants of the Southern parts of
127Indiana, and of Shawanoe town, St. Louis, St. Genevieve
4th. class — old settlers, rich, independent, farmers, wealthy merchants, possessing a good deal of information, a knowledge of the world, and an enterprising spirit. Such are the Ohio men, Western Pennsylvanians, Kentuckians and Tennessee men. The young men have a military taste, and most of them have served in the late war. They were great duellists, but now the laws against duelling are more strictly enforced; they carry dirks, and sometimes decide a dispute on the spot. Irritable and dissipated in youth, yet they are generally steady and active in Manhood. They undertake with facility, and carry on with unconquerable ardour, any business or speculation that promises great profit, and sustain the greatest losses with a firmness that resembles indifference.
You will perceive from this slight sketch, which I have made as impartially as I am able, that the Backwoods men, as they are called somewhat contemptuously by the Inhabitants of the Atlantic States, are admirably adapted by Nature and education for the scenes they live and act in. The prominent feature of their character is power. The young value themselves on their courage, the old
128on their shrewdness. The veriest villains have something grand about them. They expect no mercy and they shew no fear; "every man's hand is against them, and their hand is against every man's."
As social Comforts are less under the protection of the laws here, than in old countries, friendship and good neighbourhood are more valued. A man of good character is an acquisition; not that there is a small proportion of such men, but because the bad are as undisguisedly bad, as their opposites are professedly good. This is not the land of Hypocrisy. It would not here have its reward. Religion is not the road to worldly respectability, nor a possession of it the cloak to immorality.
I wish I could give you a correct idea of the perfect equality that exists among these republicans. A Judge leaves the Court house, shakes hands with his fellow citizens and retires to his log-house. The next day you will find him holding his own plough. The Lawyer has the title of Captain, and serves in his Military capacity under his neighbour, who is a farmer and a Colonel. The shop keeper sells a yard of tape, and sends shiploads of produce to Orleans; he travels 2000 miles in a year; he is a good hunter, and has been a soldier; he dresses and talks as well as a London Merchant, and probably has a more extensive range of ideas; at least he has fewer prejudices. One prejudice, however, nothing will induce him to give up — he thinks the Americans in general, and particularly
129those of his own state, are the best soldiers in the world. Such is the native Shopkeeper: the Eastern Emigrant is very different.
I have not seen an effeminate, or a feeble man, in mind or body, belonging to these Western Countries. The most ignorant, compared with men of the same standing in England, are well informed. Their manners are coarse; but they have amongst themselves a code of politeness, which they generally observe. Drinking whisky is the greatest pest, the most fertile source of disorders, amongst them. When intoxicated by it, they sometimes fight most furiously. In this they resemble the Lower Irish.
There is an universal spirit of enquiry amongst all classes of people. In the state of Indiana, in which there is but one town that is of six years standing, there are several Book-clubs. Newspapers and Reviews from Philadelphia, Baltimore, Kentucky, and St. Louis, are received weekly. When we arrived at Princetown, there was no Post-office nearer than Vincennes; now we have the Mail once a fortnight, and shall soon have a Western and a Southern mail every week.
Mr. Birkbeck was known here by his writings, before he came to America. His tour through France has been read at St. Louis.
130has already attracted the attention of Land Speculators and Farmers. W----- of Philadelphia writes: "I have directed 120 Germans to you; they are proceeding toward Ohio, and you will probably receive a deputation from them."
Mr. J----- of Philadelphia wishes to send a number of families to our neighbourhood. I met him at Cincinnati in September. He requested me to select 5,000 acres for him; which I declined to do. He wants 20,000 acres.
I think of entering some land about Sections 12 and 13. The land is high, soil light, and tolerably rich. Timber — good; not standing thick, but pretty large; it is black oak, hickory, walnut, with some white oak. A Stream winds through a narrow valley between the hills, and the house if placed on the mark # would command a view of the whole prairie, and have a southern and western aspect.
If any persons in England would like to possess a small stake in this Country, I could procure it for them thus. A.B. in England advances the first and second installments of Ë per acre per annum. I pay the third and fourth, and have the option of holding the land as a partner, or of selling it by auction. If I should fail in making my payments, the land is secured to us for five years. It would
131then be sold by the U. S. and the overplus of 2$ would revert to the original purchasers. To a share of this overplus I should then relinquish all claim, and return it entire to my partner A.B. But, if I pay my installments, I should be an equal sharer with A.B., putting my knowledge of land acquired by travelling, and studying the subject on the spot, and also my trouble, against the credit of 1 dollar per acre for two years. This is the plan Mr. E----- acts upon.
Were you to ask me, "Do you think the Illinois Territory would be the best place in the U. S. for me to emigrate to, supposing that I could with propriety and prudence leave England?" I should hesitate in giving an affirmative to this question. You want the society that is to be found near old established towns, comforts ready made to your hands. You ought to enjoy them at your time of life. Easy and constant intercourse with Europe, a quiet and respectable neighbourhood, religious institutions, and access to large libraries, are advantages you would probably not like to forego. The vicinity of Philadelphia, the Jerseys, many parts of the State of New York, present them all to you.
The inhabitants of the Eastern ports know no more about this country, than you do in England. Some are afraid to cross the Mountains: so many terrible stories of it are in circulation. Kentucky, or Bloody Ground, as it used to be called, seems to them to be the verge of the habitable world. These prejudices are, however, disappearing. The
132rising, and already important, commerce of the West is becoming an object of their jealousy. The poorer and more enterprising of the farmers leave the inhospitable climates of the North, and find here fertile lands and short winters.
The hottest weather of July and August did not injure my health; yet the thermometer was frequently as high as 90, generally at 80 at noon. I enjoyed that weather very much. This Autumn more rain has fallen than has ever been remembered at this season of the year. It has at length ceased, and we have now fine sunshiny days and slightly frosty nights. Heavy freezing, I am told, sets in at Christmas, and lasts from three to six weeks. Then the snow melts, and Spring comes on rapidly. I have been writing all day with the door open to the road, and this is the 24th. day of November.
Farmers are now gathering their Indian corn, which they pick from the stalks. Their wheat was cut in June, and housed in July. They will begin soon to kill their pork for the Orleans market.
I have written a long letter of heterogeneous observations just as they have arisen in my mind. You will perceive that I have taken care to state every thing exactly as the impressions I have felt were left upon me. So rapid is improvement in this Country, that by the time you read them, circumstances will be altered, and many statements will be incorrect.
I must add a word or two more. The Illinois
133Territory has but a small proportion of Indian Lands. In this it has greatly the advantage of Indiana, in which state the Indians possess two thirds of the soil.
Illinois is 300 miles long and 200 broad; it contains 50,000 square miles, or 32 millions of acres. It is supposed to contain 30,000 inhabitants, who are scattered about, chiefly on the banks of rivers.
There is so much to be done and such a field for exertion, that no one need be discouraged from
134coming here, by the fear of wanting Markets for produce, or for his labour. A capital of Å50,000 could be as easily employed here as in England, and with great advantage to the country and to the capitalist. This is not a random guess: I could prove it, and calculate results. A man may fall into poverty here, as well as elsewhere; but the proportion of those who succeed is greater here, than in any place I have ever been in. Every thing and every body is in motion: no standing still, and living upon interest of capital: but every man has his business or employment. . . .
P. S. Rough and democratic as these backwoodsmen are, they shew great respect to talent, to superior knowledge, to age, and to wealth. There is no danger to an European who possesses these advantages, of being jostled, or of not being of consequence among his neighbours. The respect that is shewn to Mr. B. is even more marked than that he commanded in England from his labourers. Lord Selkirk
135day at a dinner and ball, and received the most marked attentions. But worth and talent, without Rank, will command respect. Indeed, no rank is known here, but military rank, and that is obtained by tavern-keepers and farmers.
English Aristocrats could not live here. But such men as you would be judges, Magistrates, and respected Citizens.
A trip down the Patoka — Winter labors and amusements — Christmas — Legislation against duelling — A journey to Cincinnati — Lack of scenery — Difficulties of travel — A frontier judge — Fredericksburg — Albany — Louisville — Shelbyville — Cost of lodgings — Frankfort — The Kentuckians — Arrival at Cincinnati.
Princeton, Indiana. Decr. 7, 1817. As it will be agreeable to myself, and, perhaps, amusing to my relations in England, to review the occurrences and difficulties of settling the Bolton-house, or English, Prairie, and as I shall have an opportunity of seeing ab initio an English settlement in the wilderness of the Illinois, I will keep a record of our transactions.
The prairie is fine, dry, light land, and rolling. It contains about 16 square miles, and lies about 6 miles from each of the Wabashes. The country around is healthy, although at a distance there are swampy places.
A few weeks ago, two carpenters (and the wife of one of them) arrived uninvited from England.
Yesterday I purchased a batteau on Mill Pond, for 3$ and Isaac P----- repaired it.
This morning I sent Isaac to Harmony on horseback to buy saws, with directions to proceed across the Wabash to Carmi; there to get provisions and necessaries, which he is to get hauled to the English Prairie.
Jacob P----- and his wife, B-----d B., and myself are going down the Patoka
137swamp between this town and Coffee Island
Monday Decr. 7th. — Put the batteau on the carriage of a waggon, and sent it off to the Patoka with J. P-----, who is directed to make oars &c, and to launch the boat. Yesterday 8 men on foot armed with pistols and rifles came into the town from Harmony. They had been in pursuit of an absconded debtor from Vincennes.
Decr. 8th. B------d, P-----'s wife, and myself went on horseback to T-----'s on the Patoka, where we breakfasted. Loaded the batteau; which was found to be much too small to carry us, our tools, and the various "impedimenta" which were stowed in it. Besides being too small, it was weak and very leaky. We borrowed a canoe in exchange for the skiff; but that was so ticklish that we did not like to venture in it heavily loaded. At last we determined to take both batteau and canoe.
The Patoka crosses Indiana from East to West. It is a deep, but narrow stream, and exceedingly crooked throughout its whole course. Its length
138in a right line is about 200 miles. Where we embarked it was about 20 yards wide.
We have been much impeded by fallen trees, some of which lie quite across the river; one we have been obliged to cut through.
I hunted for an hour without success; missed some ducks, my gun being loaded with Buck shot. B-----d took his turn. He saw a large herd of deer, but killed nothing but a parroquet.
Encamped at night on the Northern shore. Soil, rich. Timber, — Poplar, Sycamore, Hickory, & Spice. Weather warm, but squally.
Made 15 miles this day.
Decr. 9th. Morning rainy. Caulked the batteau. Weather cleared at 9. Launched our craft. We had not started an hour, before we had a thunder storm and hard rain.
This day the trees were more across the river than yesterday. Nearly lost the batteau on a rapid, which was incumbered by fallen trees. I leaped out with an axe and cut through some branches, and we passed under the trunks. The canoe soon after got again entangled under a fallen tree. Currents very rapid. The axe was employed all day.
Towards evening I left P----- and B-----d to dig a channel for the boats round the butt end of
139a fallen tree; and I walked across a neck of land to find a camping ground. Had great difficulty in lighting a fire; the wood was so wet.
The Timber and soil nearly the same as yesterday.
— Pappaws and Cane —
The stream was so crooked, that we went towards every point of the compass, and only once had a view down it of 300 yards.
The meal and bread got wet. We shall be on short allowance in two days. Memm. — To get a tobacco pouch, with a compartment for matches; for not being able to get logwod bark, I burnt almost all my tow in kindling a fire. Advanced 18 miles.
Decr. 10th. Morning rainy. Waited till nine and started in a drizzling shower, which soon increased to a heavy rain, which lasted all day. Arrived at Coffee Island at night thoroughly soaked.
The banks of the Patoka clayey, and covered generally with cane. The Timber — Hickory, the soil — thin.
The banks of the Wabash low and swampy. The Sycamore is the most common tree on the shore, which spreads its white crooked arms over the stream. The Wabash at Coffee Island is 1,100 yards wide.
Advanced to-day, down the Patoka 15 miles — down the Wabash 9 ----- 24.
Slept at M-----'s house.
Decr. 11th. We were discouraged from proceeding further by water, and enquired for waggons. There were but two wheeled carriages in the settlement; one was broken and the other rotten. After some delay we engaged a Frenchman to take our plunder
In crossing the Cypress creek,
No rain to-day, but the weather rather cold. The snow is now drifting into the camp, which we have pitched one mile beyond the crossing.
DuG----- is a complete hunter and an entertaining companion.
Marched to-day 10 miles.
Decr. 13th. Saturday. Breakfasted before sunrise and struck our camp. The long prairie is an entire swamp. Waded through several creeks. At 9 a. m. it began to snow, and continued all day.
At 10 entered our own prairie, and met Isaac P. with the waggon. The water was running rapidly off through the creeks, which were nearly full. Passing the second, the waggon was stuck in the mud, and the sprig tailed mare, upon which B-----d and J. P----- were crossing, fell with them into the water.
I left the baggage, and went on to light a fire in the cabin,
Spent the afternoon in fixing ourselves as well as we could in our cabin.
DuG----- and the waggons left us to return to their respective homes.
The snow is now (9 p. m.) 5 inches deep. We shall sleep in our blankets on Clapboards with our feet to the fire.
Decr. 14th. Sunday. Sent the two P-----s to W-----'s, about three miles off for the Yager Rifle, and the Wallet, containing my blanket and plunder, and the spade.
We have now a complete set of Sawyer's and Carpenter's tools. B-----d went to E-----'s and brought back a kettle of honey.
While the men were gone, W----- and another man, who had heard of our arrival, came to call on us. W----- promises to come tomorrow to begin
142the other cabin. I hear that another English Emigrant has arrived at Princeton, and is coming out to us with his family.
I searched for a good place to make a saw pit. Made a tent in the house to keep off the snow, which drifts through the roof. Snow to-day a foot deep.
P----- unpacked his base viol and has played several psalm tunes and the evening hymn — the latter recalled England to my mind.
Decr. 15th. The P-----'s are making a sawpit. B-----d went on the mare to A----- and W-----, and bought a hog weighing 200 lbs for 7$. I went surveying. The weather very cold — the snow 14 inches deep.
The soil where the sawpit is dug is rich mould, but thin: next to it lies a hazle mould: beneath lies a fine grey clay, mixed with ochry substances.
Decr. 16th. The P-----'s still preparing for sawing. E----- called to ask me to follow a bear, whose track, freshly made, was within 200 yards of our cabin. As I could not go, he returned home.
A----- came with W----- and agreed to build two cabins 12 feet by 14 inside, — standing 16 feet apart, and the roof to be continued over the intermediate space; they are to be chunked, doors to be cut out; joists and sleepers laid: the whole for 25$.
Went with B-----d to get a grape vine as a substitute for a chain. After dinner surveyed till dark.
The weather is more mild to-day — some snow, but a Southwest wind has driven away all the clouds. The night is calm and beautiful.
I found to-day a beautiful prisimon tree, about fifty feet high, and a great quantity of fruit upon it, — which are now delicious. They taste like raisins dipped in honey. I have kept some seeds to send to M-----.
Decr. 17th. Wednesday. Surveying. Saw some prairie hawks, blue bodies, ash coloured belly and wings, tipped with black.
Came home over the middle creek, into which I fell through the Ice.
Decr. 18th. Bought a deer of B----- for $1.50. He promises to bring in some Turkeys.
W----- brought in a hog, which A----- shot for us.
I planted about a peck of peach stones. Bid W----- good bye.
The settlers are all glad we are going to have a mill built; they have now to pack their meal 25 miles. A----- has been pounding corn for us, and it makes good bread.
Weather still very cold — 7 degrees below zero.
I rather dread my voyage up the Patoka, as we shall have logs, and, perhaps, ice to impede us. S----- has told me how to rig the canoe to the best advantage.
Sawing goes on very slowly: the tools are all new; and the black oak very hard. Every body says that the mill will be carried away by the first hurricane. But, as Smeaton has erected a tower, which withstands the winds and waves of the Ocean,
144there is certainly a possibility, that another may be made to stand fast against wind alone.
The P-----s have been a little disheartened by the difficulty of getting provisions, but now that they have 300 lbs of meat hanging against the wall, they are quite cheerful.
B-----d and I cut off two ribs from the Buck, spitted them on a sharp pointed stick, and roasted them for our dinner; they were delicious.
Walked to W-----s and slept there. We could not take our pack horse across the Boonpas, because of the Ice. We were therefore obliged to leave him tied to a tree, with a blanket over him, which was more merciful than to swim him through freezing water.
Decr. 19th. Walked to DuG-----'s, where we were told that the Wabash was impassible because the Ice was floating down in such great quantities.
Sent Isaac back with the packhorse and walked on to the river. The masses of ice filled the current of the stream, and broke against the shore, like harsh and distant Thunder.
20th. 21st. Decr. At the cottage of the ferryman. This cabin contains but one room 12 feet square. The owner is a Canadian Frenchman, and he and
145his wife are very civil to us. We have two blankets and a buffalo robe on which we sleep with our feet to the fire.
Three men on the opposite shore, have, at the risk of their lives, crossed over amidst the ice. They were nearly two hours making unsuccessful efforts. They relanded, and lighted a fire. In the afternoon they tried again and dashed across. Their Canoe was nearly bored through, and half filled with Ice, which broke over them. They described the grinding of the Ice terrible.
I believe I should try, but my guns are valuable; and though B-----d and myself might save ourselves, we should inevitably lose them if the Canoe should upset.
There is more genuine kindness and politeness among these backwoodsmen, than among any set of people, I have yet seen in America. They know so well the value of good neighbourhood, and feel so independent of the laws and restraints of every kind. Each man has a consciousness of power to do good or evil. Thus he is polite, for the same reason that the most powerful animals are gentle.
|Canadian French Words|
|orea, s.||ear||L'isle. s.||for||l'oeil|
The river upon which Detroit is built is thickly settled for 60 leagues.
The Hurons and Iroquois are Catholics.
Mocassins are sewed with the sinews of the Deer.
There are a few Indian slaves in Detroit.
23d. Crossed the Wabash in the afternoon in a Canoe amidst the Ice. Walked to the Swamp; but it was too dark for us to find the way across, and the Ice was rapidly thawing. After making three attempts we held a Council, whether it would be best to camp out upon a neck of land running into the Swamp, or to go back some miles to the only hut on that side the Swamp. We decided on the latter, as the melting snow would have made it impossible to light a fire, and it was then raining hard. The whistling of the wind and the howling of the wolves, all seemed to promise a stormy night. After cutting up my gun case to cover my thin Mocassins, which did not sufficiently protect my feet, we slowly retraced our steps, and reached Mr. A-----'s cabin at 10. Found all the inhabitants abed, but not asleep. The room was so full of children, hunters, hogdrivers, and dogs, that it was with difficulty we could stretch our bodies upon the floor. There on our wet great coats, with our own wet blankets laid over us, we slept as soundly as ever I have slept on a featherbed.
Next morning, proceeded at day break in a pelting shower to the swamp, with a man who was going the same way. Found a Canoe half full of Ice, and brimfull of water. Bailed it dry with our hands, and with difficulty launched it. After working hard in breaking the ice, and having our bodies completely drenched in perspiration, though our feet were very cold, we left the canoe, trusting ourselves to the Ice, and reached Mr. C-----'s house, where we breakfasted and hired two horses, to take us to Princeton at Christmas Eve.
It was not expected we should have crossed the Wabash.
Christmas Day — This day was spent by one set of the religionists in hearing a sermon and prayers which lasted from breakfast till nightfall.
Another set of people were busy in cooking wild turkeys, and dancing in the evening.
The young men had their rifles out, and were firing feux de joi almost all the preceding night, all the day till late into the evening. It reminded me of Byron's description of the Moslems firing at the feast of the Ramadan in Constantinople :
26th. The Ball — There were about 20 couples: most of them genteelly dressed. We had Judge ----- there with his daughter, with whom I
148danced. There were no thin shoes to be obtained in the town, so we young men agreed to dance in Mocassins; some of which, made by the Indians, gaily embroidered and hung with little tassels of hair dyed red looked very smart.
27th & 28th. — Planning the Mill.
January 18th. 1818. I have been making a model of a Windmill, which is now nearly completed. The weather has been cold, but the air clear and cheerful. The Thermometer once down to 8 below zero; but afterwards the air gradually became milder, till yesterday at noon it rose to 57°., and at night was 48°.
Several families have passed through the town for the Illinois, and every thing is going on so favorably, that all are cheerful.
A repeal of the old law against duelling has been obtained, and a new one enacted which subjects delinquents to corporal punishments, in addition to the other penalties of fine and disability to hold public offices. Col. E. drew up this bill.
This bill was thrown out at the third reading. The subject is involved in more difficulty, than it is in Europe. Every State has attempted to put a stop to duelling, and some have nearly effected it; but the manners and dispositions have not become more moderate or more mild. There are a number of dissipated and desperate characters, from all parts of the world, assembled in these Western States; and these, of course, are overbearing and
149insolent. It is nearly impossible for a man to be so circumspect, as to avoid giving offence to these irritable spirits; who, in fact, do not always wait for provocation to be insolent. The Kentuckians on these occasions use their dirks, and the Ohio men are abusive. Men of education and manners, will, if they can, fight with weapons; and the vulgar bite, kick, and gouge each other.
A new County has been made South of us; and Evansville, it is expected, will be the County Seat.
There are Pelicans on the Wabash.
Rode this afternoon with Messrs. H----- and S----- through the Seminary Township,
150be probably sold in a year or two. The land we crossed was excellent. Sugar tree, Elm, Oak, Hickory, and Sassafras mixed together. The Surface — rolling — and several fine eminences for houses. H----- has proposed to me to go to the South with him to join Gen. Gaines,
151Creek Indians. I declined the honour, and I believe he has relinquished his design.
Jany. 19th. Thermometer 54°. The morning opened with a thunderstorm. The day has been darker than any we have had this winter. I have yet seen no mists, except on the great rivers.
Jany. 23d. Commenced my journey to Cincinnati. Slept at Vincennes.
-----24th. — Sunday. — Slept at Mrs. H's. Killed an Opossum on the road. Weather cold and rainy.
-----25th — Monday — Slept at Bar's between the forks of White River.
Snow in evening.
26th. Crossed the East fork of White River and slept at Dr. A-----'s. . . .
I made myself very comfortable here, and slept, for the first time in many months, between a pair of sheets. These are, however, no luxuries, compared with a clean and rather fine blanket.
A few miles from Dr. A-----'s a river gushes from the ridge of rocky hills to the North, at once in its full size. Seventeen miles further North, a stream apparently as large, sinks into the hills. These are
152probably one and the same. Last summer I rode with ----- over that ridge, and missed both rivers. We passed some wildernesses, which seemed to be the abode of nothing but wild beasts; yet there while I was thinking of camping out, being quite lost, I found a habitation and a welcome.
It is reported that 250 warriors are assembled on the head waters of the White River, to avenge the deaths of some men, who have been murdered near this place.
Judge ----- of ----- overtaking me, informed me that the road to Cincinnati through Indiana was too bad to be travelled with safety.
I then changed my route, and set off with him. We swam Cane Creek and another little rapid stream. My mare swam by jerks, and dipped me waist deep. It was freezing hard, so that our clothes soon became stiff, and our horses were bearded with icicles.
Our road then lay over some high, rocky hills, which afforded distant prospects. We passed the mouths of some caverns, out of which rushed some mountain torrents.
America, however, is not the land of prospects. There is too much wood; and, when on the barren peak of some rocky hill, you catch a distant view, it generally is nothing but an undulating surface of impenetrable forests. The very views which are admired by the few Americans who have taste proves to me that North America is not generally picturesque.
Perhaps some parts of the mountains of Virginia and Kentucky would present exceptions; and the great rivers during the summer season.
The footsteps of man, in spite of all the nonsense that has been written and said to the contrary, leave behind them beauty and delight. When the forests recede from the valleys, and verdure clothes the hills, and villages are scattered through wastes, North America will become a beautiful and picturesque country.
It is seldom that a view of 200 yards in extent, can be caught in Indiana. The woods west of the Mountains are not, as Mrs. W. says in the wrongs of woman, "clustering forests of small trees." It is a long time before an English eye becomes accustomed to their size and grandeur. The live poplar, or tulip-bearing tree, of which canoes are made, the sycamore, the walnut, and the white oak, grow to a prodigious size.
Four miles from Cane Creek we struck into a new path, which led over the tops of one of these knobs, which was composed chiefly of sandstone, with some argillaceous schist. The trees were covered with ice, so transparent and so brilliant, that the boughs looked like glasswork, and threw on the eye a confused splendour, which was bounded only by the distant hills. The boughs and fretwork of ice, that intercepted the rays of the sun, were faintly tinged with prismatic colours. At our feet were rapid torrents, which gushed from the caverns
154above us, sparkled in light, and then leaped into the darkness of the abysses below.
Another hour brought us to French-lick creek,
We slept at Mr. H-----'s on ----- Creek, a substantial Indiana farmer. He came home while we were at supper, with three of his neighbours, who were completely armed. They had been to take some men to Paoli
155the hills, and it was said they had three or four guns apiece. One of Mr. H-----'s guests wanted to raise the whole force of the settlement that night, and to make an attack on the rock house before daylight. But more prudent councils prevailed.
My companion Judge ----- is a lively, entertaining young man; 24 years old. He is an associate Judge and sits on the bench with the circuit or law judge; but gives his opinion only on the equity of a case. He is a merchant and a store keeper. He rides a good horse with silver studded bridle, and his saddle is ornamented with silver, and scarlet housings. He carried a pair of pistols at his saddle bow; and altogether looks more like a Dragoon Officer in plain clothes, than a Judge. At least, he is not at all like Lords Mansfield or Ellenborough.
27th. Breakfasted at Mr. C.-----'s — another substantial farmer. He was at Corydon;
The country is still hilly, though not so broken as that we crossed yesterday.
Soil — third rate, — except in the bottoms. We crossed the Little Blue River at Fredericksburg, a miserable village, in a mud hole. The river is 50 yards wide, deep, and has a rapid current. It is called blue from the tint of the waters, which are clear and flow over a slaty bottom.
The land around Fredericksburg is high, and some of it sandy. It is inconceivable that the Americans should be so stupid as to plant their towns in the dirtiest puddles they can find. But they have such a dread of a little trouble, that they must be near a creek, that they may dip for water at their Cabin doors; for wells won't dig themselves, and the swing pole and bucket are for ever out of order. Pumps are out of all question with a backwoods man.
Ascending the hill from the forks of the Little Blue, we entered a high rolling country of sandy barrens. When we had passed these, we got entangled in a flat swampy tract of White oak land, which we were two hours crossing. At Sunset passed another little village of hewn log Cabins, and arrived at Mr. D-----'s just as it got dark. . . .
Here we overtook a Captn. B----- from the upper parts of Kentucky, who joined Company with us.
28th. About 8 miles from D-----'s we ascended a high ridge, which gave us a view of the Ohio with its Silver waves gleaming in the Sun. Louisville
157hills of Kentucky, formed a waving outline of dark forests, and around and beneath us were steep banks thinly covered with timber.
Two hours brought us to Albany,
158Its Main Street is a broad ditch of mud. We crossed the Ohio here, and took leave of Judge -----. Captn. B----- and myself went on to Louisville.
We put up at the Washington Hall, a handsome hotel; supplied apparently with the usual luxuries of European Inns, except clean floors. There were a great many well-dressed gentlemen in the reading and bar room, whose attention was caught by my appearance. I had on a decent suit of clothes, though past their best, and a pair of Kentucky leggings, but over my great coat I wore a blanket, pinned under the chin in the Indian fashion, and confined to the waist by a leather belt; to which was suspended a large hunting or scalping Knife. Fifteen years ago, this was a common dress in Kentucky, as it is now on the frontiers of Indiana and in the Illinois Territory. But the early Settlers of Kentucky are dead, or moved farther west; or have become rich and luxurious, and Mercantile adventurers have introduced the fashions of London and Paris. Perhaps there is a greater proportion of well dressed men in Louisville than in any European Commercial city.
We remounted our horses again at 4 p. m., and at dark we reached the habitation of Monsr. N., who keeps a house of private entertainment, that is to say, an Inn; in which travellers are received, but neighbours are not allowed to drink.
These houses are more comfortable than Inns, and are generally a little cheaper. You take your Meals with the family, — retire into the strangers' room, as soon as the meal is over, — and generally the master of the house follows to chat with you. You are not expected to call for liquors; which, indeed, are not often kept in the house. . .
To avoid sleeping with a bedfellow in a small bed, I wrapped myself up in my blanket and laid on my great coat and Saddle bags before the fire. This arrangement disconcerted two Negro slaves, who had chosen that place for themselves. I obliged them to sleep at some distance.
Negroes are never supplied with more bedding than a blanket and the Kitchen or dining room floor. This too in Kentucky; which is the Paradise of slaves, compared with the Southern States.
Jany. 30th. We passed through a fertile country, well settled, but with miserably bad roads by Middleton,
Here we met, at a good Inn, a large party of rich farmers and Merchants, all busy talking politics.
160The Landlord, finding I was an Englishman, invited me to spend the evening with his wife and daughters. I found them handsome and agreeable women. Our charge for Supper, breakfast, and horsefeed was $1, 75 cents. Hostler & boots got, 25 c. Dearer travelling than in Indiana, where a dollar per day will pay all the expences.
They may be stated thus:
|In Indiana||In Kentucky|
|D°. at noon||12Ë||12Ë|
|Supper & horsefeed||62Ë||1,00|
The above are the charges at houses of private entertainment. At good taverns the charges are at least 50 pr. Cent higher. If the badness of the roads, in the Winter, is taken into consideration, travelling at this Season is dearer than in England; for you cannot get half the distance in the same time.
In Summer the roads are, in general, good for travelling on horseback.
Jany. 31st. Started for Frankfort.
161through a fine rolling country; cleared enough to present something like views; though none of them of any extent.
Frankfort is a smart little town, on the Kentucky river. It is the seat of Government; and the Legislature is now sitting.
It was Sunday, and a few smartly dressed young men were picking their way through the half frozen mud in the streets. Like others it is hid in a mud hole, with fine commanding situations around it. They have begun to pave the Main Street — in a way that would make a London Paviour laugh.
The Kentucky River pours a noble stream over a bed of Limestone. It is crossed by a wooden bridge supported by four stone piers.
Five miles further, we put up at Mr. B-----s' house. A respectable and venerable man, who has been thirty four years in Kentucky. His lady was complaining bitterly of the Mal-practices of their State Legislature, of their taxes &c, though the latter are nothing more than County rates.
Monday Feby. 2d. Took leave of Captn. B----- who was going to Lexington,
The roads have been so bad, that my horse has been for two days much fatigued. Today he gave out, and I with difficulty got him through the wilderness. I arrived at the house I am now writing in, and as the people seem to be civil and courteous, I shall rest tomorrow.
A Traveller, who has been four or five months in the wildernesses of the Illinois Territory, or the gloomy forests of Indiana, is delighted with the fine clearings of the Kentucky farms. Yet these seldom extend half a mile from the road, and that the most public one from Louisville to Lexington. Hence there are seldom any views that can be called picturesque in that tract of country which lies within 50 miles of Ohio. There are some that are grand and solemn among the hills, but in the rich country, the stumps of trees in the fields, the worm rail-fences running in straight lines, and even the forests, with their rigid outlines as left by the axe, have little of beauty and still less of the picturesque. It is the feeling that he is surrounded by the dwellings of man, that cheers the lonely traveller.
They pride themselves on their veracity and honour.
In their persons they are large, and generally handsome, but are too much inclined to corpulency.
Tuesday and Wednesday. My horse being unable to proceed, I staid two days at Mr. T-----'s, a Kentucky farmer of the middle class. He works himself and employs two Negroes. Every thing around him bespoke comfort and moderate wealth. Yet he has cultivated his own land among these hills only 10 years. His farm is productive, though far from being so rich as the level plains.
He talks of moving out to the Illinois Territory.
Feby. 5th. Thursday. Rode to Mr. H-----'s Tavern, with whom I spent a most agreeable evening. He rents a farm for which he pays one third of the produce. He talked of mechanics, and is going to erect a carding machine.
Feby. 6th. Friday. Rode to Mr. G-----'s. At this house I met Mr. S-----, a member of the Senate, and other interesting gentlemen.
The bridge of Frankfort cost 40,000$. One is projected over the mouth of Licking at Newport,
Feby. 7th. Crossed the Ohio and arrived at Cincinnati.
A trip across the Wabash in search of land — A night in the woods — The people of Indiana — The Kentuckians.
At a farm house among the Eagle Creek Hills; 30 miles West from Frankfort, Kentucky. Feby. 3. 1818.
As general descriptions of Countries give always vague and unsatisfactory ideas, I will fill up this sheet with extracts from [my] Journal, which I hope will be amusing. You will keep in mind, the truth of a picture depends much upon the slightest touches, and that resemblance cannot be produced but by attention to minutiee.
Soon after my return from Cincinnati in September, I went across the Wabash to seek some good timbered land. I went alone on horseback, carrying my American Rifle, which is a long gun, weighing 10 lbs, and shoots a bullet of Åº oz weight. I had a clean shirt and stockings in my saddle bags, and provisions for four days; a bag of Indian corn for my horse, a blanket, a cloak, and tin cup; a pocket compass, a map of the country, a large hunting Knife, and a hatchet.
The first day's ride brought me to a swampy, flat prairie, which I crossed just as the sun went down. I turned into a thick wood, where the trees were small and close together. I was then a poor woodsman, or I should have chosen a better place. I lighted a fire with brush wood, and then began cutting down some small trees.
I had nearly finished the second, when my hatchet flew off the handle. During the time I spent in looking in vain for it, the fire went out and it got quite dark.
I was in a bad fix, as they say in the back woods. However, I made the best of it; fed my horse, eat my supper, and wrapped myself up warm, hugging my gun in my blanket. I lay listening a good while, and had fallen into a doze, when my horse snorted, and my dog jumped up, and I heard something rush through the woods at, perhaps, 100 yards distance. All was still again, — but the winds whistling through the trees, and now and then a wolf howling afar off. I lay down again, and soon fell asleep.
The next morning I struck a path which led to a Cabin where I breakfasted on hominy and honey, and proceeded across the Boonpas, up the long Prairie 2 miles. I then took the woods, and, after struggling five hours among grape vines and creeks, I found some Whiteoak timbered land near our prairie. I ran the section line, then crossed the prairie to the North end, and reached Mr. E.----- at dark.
The next day I found still better land, well timbered. Found the section line and started off for Shawnee town, which I reached in two days.
Here I entered land; and soon after went again to the Prairie to get a cabin built, and returned to Shawnee. . . .
I hope you will not think this letter is filled with
168matter unworthy of being sent across the Atlantic. These minute descriptions alone can give you an idea of these wildernesses.
The farmers of Indiana generally arrive in the country very poor, but somehow they get a great deal of property very soon. They all work, and there are not half so many labourers for hire, as there are farmers. The former live with their employers, and are their equals, if they are men of good character; which is not always the case. The hunters have more politeness, and I think more of virtue and hospitality than the farmers. The worse set are boatmen, and petty traders in horses and whisky, who live on the banks of rivers. Some of these are connected with horse stealers and forgers, and are the pests of a rising society. The new towns on the frontiers generally are inhabited by these men, till they rise into importance; when the scamps move off. Though we have rascals even here, yet the tone of morals is higher on the frontiers, than among men of the same station in England. They are either very good or openly bad in these back woods.
I do not think much can be said in praise of the daughters of Indiana; they are completely destitute of education. Not so, the Kentucky women. From the little I have seen and the much I have heard, I judge they are the most spirited women in the world. They are exceedingly fond of dress, and are generally very handsome. But Kentucky
169is growing very rich, and the people are becoming very proud.
I shall reserve my observations on Kentucky for a future letter, and likewise a geographical and statistical sketch of the South Eastern section of the Illinois Territory.
Either Kentucky or Illinois must be the abode of an English farmer. In the one he will find an agreeable society, in the other there is none, and he will give to it, as it rises, a tint of his own manners.
Cincinnati. Feby. 14th . . . .Land has been sold near this town for 200$ per acre. — 45Å. The people cannot be poor who buy or sell such land. Yet twenty-two years ago, this land was the property of the Indians, and the few white men who lived here, dared not leave their fort. Still if it were not for Slavery, Kentucky or Virginia would be the countries for English Gentlemen. A Kentuckian is an Englishman with a little more pride.
The Americanizing of emigrants — Attitude of Westerners toward Englishmen — Prospective peace with the southern Indians — Emigration to Missouri — Mr. Birkbeck's estate — Fordham's farm — Opportunities for men with capital — Respect for education and manners.
Cincinnati Feby. 18. 1818.
I take a hasty opportunity of sending you a few lines by a gentleman who is going to Scotland from this place. He will start tomorrow morning early; and I have to give a dozen orders to Engineer, Smiths and founders in the course of the day; so you will excuse a very hastily written scrawl.
We are all in good health and spirits, and are more accustomed to American manners; — therefore more comfortable. It is useless for Emigrants to think of retaining English manners or English feelings, in this country of liberty and equality. But, to do the Americans justice, they respect the love, which every man of generous feeling has for his native country, and they are pretty in expressing their contempt of a Renegado. There are too many of this character; and I have been more hurt by their conduct, than by all the rudeness of the Ohioans, or the pride and haughtiness of Kentuckians.
The Western Americans generally feel great hostility to the British Government, but towards the English Emigrants, they are, with few exceptions, kind and hospitable. They are in most respects different from their brethren in the East, for
171whom they do not entertain much respect or affection.
Military courage is here considered to be the prince of all the virtues. Even quakers talk like soldiers, and frequently the younger members turn out with their fellow citizens.
The Indians in the South, who were making a great head against Gen. Gaines, have now proposed a friendly talk, and, probably, peace will be concluded before this reaches you. I am glad of this, because there was some danger of the spirit of hostility spreading among the tribes who live on the Western banks of the Mississippi, and the Northern tribes. In that case we must have fortified our dwellings; and we young men, though not called upon by law, should have looked small if we had not volunteered.
The prophet chief, brother of Tecumseh,
172will be backed up on that side. The banks of the Okaw
An English gentleman of fortune, a Mr. Q-----, is gone down the river with his family, with the intention of buying land close to us.
Mr. Birkbeck is laying out a farm of 1600 acres in the midst of his Estate of 4000 acres. He has entered the whole of the Bolton house prairie; with the exception of three quarters on the South West side, and one quarter on the North side of Mr. Flower's land, which I have entered for myself.
My little Estate lies on and between two small hills, from which descend several small streams, that unite in the valley and flow on through the prairie. An arm of the prairie runs up this valley and extends itself on the heights somewhat in this shape.
173walnut, and Hickory. There are some Persimmons, a most delicious fruit, growing on straight and rather lofty trees, a good many grapes and hazels.
I am getting the iron work for a wind-mill, and other machinery. Iron costs 12Ë cts. per lb, and the working is charged at 12Ë cts. more. I have bought anvils, bellows, and all the tools of a Blacksmith's, Millwright's, and Carpenter's shop. I can get work done here as well as in London at from 50 to 100 per Cent advance upon London prices.
I am going down the river in a boat of which I shall take the command. I went down last Autumn in two boats, in one of which I had two horses. To confess the truth I nearly lost the boats and all the property would have been gone, if my lads had not made uncommon exertions. It was in the night and a most tremendous thunder storm came on. The intervals between the flashes of lightning were so dark that we could not see some rocks, which we ran foul of, and hung to all night.
I am boarding in a very respectable quaker family, who do not in general take in boarders. But I was recommended by a gentleman of this town, with whom I had travelled, and to whom we are all well known. Introductions into respectable families
174are as necessary in this country as in any other; and as much is thought of steadiness of conduct, though more latitude is given to speech.
I have consciously avoided giving to my young friends in England coloured descriptions of this country: but I must beg leave to assure you — that you cannot do a greater favour to any young man, who possesses from 800Å to 5,000Å, with a proper degree of spirit, than by sending him out here. But if he has no money, if he knows no mechanical trade, and if he cannot work, — he had better stay in a Counting house in England.
Any young man, who wishes to marry, but dare not enter into business and the expenses of a family in England, if he can command 1000Å, may choose his trade here. If he is a plain working farmer, 500Å will make him more independent than an English gentleman with1000Å per annum.
An Emigrant who is rich, may settle near a large town; find society, libraries, and a great many comforts. If he does not object to holding Slaves, Kentucky offers him great advantages. But if he is not rich, or is ambitious, — the Illinois and Missouri Territory, and, from what I have heard, I may say, the Alabama Country, will hold out advantages that will pay him for all sacrifices.
A bill is in Congress for making a State of the Illinois Territory.
Men of Education and Manners are much respected; and there is a large proportion of the people, who have a great deal of information; which though acquired more by conversation and observation, than by reading, makes them good judges of character, and enables them to value literary and scientific acquirements.
I have had interest offered me to procure an election to a command in a Militia regiment in Indiana; but I have declined the offer. . . .
The people of Virginia — The Kentuckians — The winning of Kentucky from the Indians — The work of Daniel Boone — Sensations experienced in the wilderness — Nature of Indian warfare — Cassidy's achievements — Manner of life of a wealthy Kentucky farmer — Society inchoate in the Illinois Country — The farming class — The hunters.
Cincinnati Feby. 26. 1818.
HAVING an opportunity of sending a letter by a private conveyance, I seize it with avidity, because I have great hope you will receive it safe. The post offices of this Western Country are so ill conducted that it is quite discouraging.
I need not tell you what we are doing, for Mr. Birkbeck's book
Now I will tell you a little of what I have seen and learnt; and that I may give you my ideas undisturbed, and fresh from my mind, I will not affect any sort of arrangement.
I have seen but little of Virginia. The men of education and wealth are much like English Country gentlemen, about as refined and nearly as proud. The young men are irascible but goodnatured. They are, however, rude and greedy in their manners at public tables to a most shameful degree.
The women are pretty, languishing, made-up misses. Their chief pleasures seem to be in dressing well and in combing their long fair hair. They
177have most beautiful hair, and are generally much fairer than English women. Like the men, they are tall and thin; but they have not the intelligent look of the former.
Kentucky, which is the daughter of Virginia, has fewer men of literary tastes and habits, but more men of enterprise, both commercial and military. Their military enthusiasm scarcely knows any limit. They are, without doubt, very brave, but the men of other States say they are not steady. It is certain that they have in the late war been at times most unaccountably panic-struck.
Kentucky, or "bloody field," was won inch by inch from the Indians; — by a few enterprising men, unaided by governments, unorganized, for the most part poor, and connected merely by mutual wants and interests. It was not the property of any particular tribe of Savages, but the disputed hunting ground of many. It was the theatre of their wars; — and was won from them by Boon and his associates contending with them in their own way.
178in the interval between these years he had been living 18 months in the wilderness alone, clad in bear skins, and often fearing to light a fire. He had sent away his Companions for his family and for powder.
You will never have a correct idea of what a wilderness is till you come to visit me. It is no more like a great wood, than a battle is like a review. Whatever limits it may have on the map, however quickly the eye may traverse the chart, or the imagination may skim over the fancied desert, — the traveller and hunter find impediments, which give to him notions of extension.
To be at an unknown distance from the dwellings of man; to have pathless forests of trees around you; and intervening rivers, across which you must swim on your horse or on a raft, whatever be the temperature of the water or the air; — the whispering breeze among the leaves, the spring of the deer, or the flap of the Eagle's wing are the only sounds you hear during the day; and then to lie at night in a blanket, with your feet to a fire, your rifle hugged in your arms, listening to the howling wolves, and starting at the shriek of the terrible panther: This it is to be in a Wilderness alone.
To return to Daniel Boon, — and Kentucky — He was twice taken prisoner by the Indians and
179French, and once marched to Canada. He had been spared by the Indians because they admired his bravery. He escaped alone, and returned to his fort on Kentucky river. His wife and daughters, having been left by their husband, who had been surprised in the woods, had likewise left the fort desolate. Boon pushed on across the Mountains to N. Carolina, and found his family at a relation's house.
Battles with the Indians are a series of duels; it was so then, and is so now. A brave man kills the greatest number, and it is nothing to him, whether ten are engaged or a hundred. He only looks to do his own duty, and to get as many scalps as he can. The Kentuckians have adopted the Indian custom of scalping the dead.
Cassidy, an Irishman, — a smaller man, it is said, by people who know him, than I am, — is the next on the list of fame.
A wealthy Kentucky farmer has 20 or 30 slaves, whom he treats rather like children than servants, — 2 or 3000 acres of land, 500 acres of which are cleared and in cultivation. He lives in a bad house, keeps a plentiful table, which is covered three times a day with a great many dishes. Brandy, Whisky, and Rum are always standing at a side table. He is hospitable, but rather ostentatious, plain in his manners, and rather grave; a great politician, rather apt to censure than to praise, and a rather bigoted republican. It is said by enemies, that were a person to travel through Kentucky and openly approve of Monarchical principles, he would be stabbed. This is not true; but it is true that they are irascible, to a great degree, and it would not be wise for any man to preach up even federal, that is, tory, principles in this State.
Nothing is more common than for men in Kentucky to quarrel about politics, and the pistol used to be the universal resort. But as almost every duel was fatal, the legislature took effectual means to prevent duelling. The dirk is now generally worn, and not unfrequently used in the lower parts near the Tennessee line.
I, however, like Kentucky: — there is much to interest me in its inhabitants, though there is much to disapprove.
You have heard of the Mammoth Cave
181seen the skull of a Mammoth found in White River in Indiana — it is a tremendous head-piece.
In the Illinois Country, Society is yet unborn, — but it will be soon. The western parts toward St. Louis are thickest settled, and with very dissipated characters. French and Indian traders, Canadians, &c, gamblers, horsestealers, and bankrupts. Near us there are only a few farmers and hunters. Farmers, who till their own land, shear their own sheep, grow their own cotton and tobacco, the former of which their wives manufacture into clothing through every process. They tan the hides of their cattle and deer skins, and make them up into shoes and harness. They are hospitable according to their means; but, if they live near roads, expect payment for food and lodging, which is rather demanded by travellers than accepted as a favour.
The hunters live rather worse, but are more entertaining and interesting companions. Clothed in dressed not tanned buckskins: — a home-made, homespun hunting shirt outside; — belted to his waist with a broad belt, to which is appended a knife with a blade a foot long: a tomohawk, or powder horn, in the belt of which is sometimes a smaller knife to cut the patch of the bullet; a bullet-pouch; mocassins on his feet; a blanket on his saddle; and a loaf of Indian Corn. Thus equipped and accoutered he enters the trackless woods, without a compass, or a guide, but what appears a kind of instinct. He is fearless of every thing, attacks every thing that comes in his way, and thinks himself
182the happiest and noblest being in the world. These men have kindly feelings. I should expect to receive more sympathy from them in real distress, such as they could understand, than from more enlightened, and more civilized men. They never swear. Their women never sit at table with them; at least, I have never seen them. I cannot speak in high terms of the manners or of the virtue of their squaws and daughters. Their houses contain but one room, and that used as a sleeping room as well by strangers as by the men of the family, they lose all feminine delicacy, and hold their virtue cheap.
Dimensions of the Ohio — Its scenery — Velocity of the current — La Salle on the Ohio — Early settlements in the West — Struggle of frontiersmen and Indians — Population of the western states — The growth of Cincinnati — Description of the city — Manners of the people — The negro population — Story of the negro Anthony — Character of the flatboatmen.
Cincinnati March 6. 1818.
I WISH you could see this town,
184The Ohio river is 1,000 miles long; join it with the Alleghany it is 1,300. Its width at Cincinnati, which is nearly equidistant from Pittsburgh and its confluence with the Mississippi, is 534 yards; which may be assumed, says Dr. Drake,
187be less than 700 yards. Its annual range from high to low water is 50 feet — its extreme range 7 feet more. It may be forded in many places above Louisville when the water is at the lowest stage; but between these bars, which form slight rapids, there are basins of deep water many miles long.
It is frozen over at Pittsburg almost every winter — sometimes at Cincinnati — I believe never at Shawanoe. Generally navigation is stopt by floating ice 8 or 10 weeks.
The Ohio river is not generally a picturesque object. It addresses itself powerfully to the imagination, but not to the senses. Its banks are clothed with dark forests. Here and there a small cabin peeps from the trees. Sometimes the rocks rise around you in solemnity and gloom — but at one place only, at the falls, do your eyes glance over any expanse of country.
Nevertheless, I am more happy, more self-satisfied, on the banks of the Ohio, than ever I could have been on the fair plains of Old England. The forests of Indiana, the mountains of Kentucky, the wilds of the Illinois, if they are not so beautiful, yet their grandeur calls forth deeper, more sublime, emotions. They are the fields of enterprise, the cradle of freedom, the land of rest to the weary, the place of refuge to the oppressed. Every sound that issues from the woods, from the crashing tornado which rushes across entire regions, clothed in sheets of fire and shaking the hills to their foundations, — to the soft low murmur of an autumnal
188breeze, — all excites the most profound sentiments of adoration for the divine author of Nature, — all recall to man the uncertain duration of his existence; but these thoughts are unmixed with aught that can debase his worth or circumscribe his powers. These wildernesses are given to him alone: in them he is free; owning no master but his God, and no authority but that of reason and truth.
"A nation's laws more sovereign still than he."
To go back to the Ohio River. The velocity of its current is estimated at 3 miles per hour. When the waters are high and rising, it is equal to 4 and 5. But the progress of a boat must be estimated at less, because the filament of the current always inclines towards, and is generally very near, the concave shore; thus making the course of a boat longer than the length of the middle of the river: And there is generally a light breeze on the surface of the water, blowing upwards against it.
Monsr. de la Salle, a frenchman, in an inland voyage from Quebec to the Mississippi in 1680, descended the Ohio. Probably he was the first white man who ever navigated it; and his adventure was imitated by his countrymen exclusively for 70 years.
A dreadful War was waged by the Indians against the New Comers, who appear to have been well furnished with arms, and with nothing else. They used to steal out singly at night, and watch the deer come to the creeks to drink; and when
190they had shot one, they were obliged to lie hid for some time to discover if any Indians were roused by the report of the gun; then the poor hunter would take the whole carcase on his back, and carry it perhaps 5 and 6 miles. They had seldom any bread, and sometimes no salt to eat with their Venison. In process of time they drove back the Indians, built their huts, made themselves farms, and married. Their children grew hardy and chubby by paddling in the mud, rolling in the sand, and eating hominy.
I copy the following table from Dr. Drake's book.
|Tennessee settled in 1775 had||in 1791||in 1800||in 1810|
|Kentucky settled in 1775||1790||in 1800||in 1810|
|Ohio settled in 1788||1790||1800||1810|
|The proportion of males to females||Ohio 100 to 86|
|Kentucky 100 to 91||North'n States 100 to 101|
|in Tenessee 100 to 93 in||Middle States 100 to 95|
|Mexico 100 to 95||South'n States 100 to 95|
|Rhode Isl'd 100 to 105|
I shall tire you with dates and numbers. Let us see what Cincinnati is now. It stands on the first and second banks of the Ohio. The second is 40 feet higher than the first. The two banks are both plains nearly parallel with the horizon. At the distance of a mile from the river you come to steep hills above 300 feet high.
In 1810 Cincinnati contained 2,320 Inhabitants;
191in 1814, 4,000, in 1815, 6,000; at the present time the lowest estimation is 8,000, living in 800 houses. There are 6 places of worship; 2 presbyterian, 2 methodist, 1 baptist and 1 quaker; no Roman Catholic Chapel, though there are Catholics; a Unitarian has preached here, and they talk of getting a Chapel built.
It is a Corporation town, governed by a Mayor, and twelve councilmen.
It has a Court house and gaol, a public seminary on Lancaster's plan, and a Theatre fallen into disrepute, and in a state of dilapidation. The Steam Mill cost 130,000$.
Mr. Greene's foundery is a flourishing establishment. He has workmen equal to do any thing in Machinery.
There are four Banks. They issue notes as low as dollars. There are tickets in circulation of as small value as 6Åº Cents — about 4 pence. This is the smallest division of money, and is valued about as much as a halfpenny is in England.
There is a United States' Land Office here, and Mr. Jesse Embree has established a Land agency office, at which emigrants may procure information, that might otherwise cost them many hundred miles travelling to obtain.
The houses of the principal streets are built of brick, and are handsome without and convenient within. The upper part of the Town is not yet much built upon, and is chiefly encumbered by mean paltry wooden houses; though there are some
192dwellings with their proud porticos, that look too aristocratic by half for the State of Ohio. Around the town are scattered a few good and many indifferent villas and ornamented Cottages; like, but unequal to those near London.
The river, which is now rising, and open, displays a gay and busy scene. Boats and barges, some of which are schooner-rigged, are taking in or discharging cargoes. Flour is shipped here, which you possibly may eat in London, and English goods block up the path along the shore. Some of these boats are manned by Sailors, and their cheerful shouts and yo-hoing make me forget I am 1,500 miles from the Ocean.
Of the manners of the Citizens of Cincinnati I ought to say but little, for my acquaintance has been confined to the Quakers. Servants are so difficult to be obtained that the wives and daughters of the middle classes do nearly all the household work themselves, and a negro, unless you hire him by the month to clean your boots will charge you each time 12Ë Cents. This, however, is not the case with the very rich, who live in plenty and even splendour, that would excite the envy of an English Shopkeeper. There are several carriages and some one-horse chaises, but Jersey waggons are more common and more useful.
The western Americans are not so domestic as the English. Business and politics engross the thoughts of the men. They live in their Stores and Counting houses, and associate with their wives
193as little as may be. The latter are generally inferior in information and talents of conversation to English women of the same station in life. They are good managers in their houses, but are fond of dress, in which they have but little taste. The Ohio women are pretty, but not interesting. We sometimes meet with one who is above the common standard, but she is, ten to one, an Emigrant from the East.
But, however, there is no standard of manners, no classification of these people, who have come perhaps from the Mountains of Vermont or the barren sands of Nantucket, from Massachusetts and Connecticut and from every State in the Union, from the frozen regions of Canada, from every Country in Europe.
There are a few white servants, chiefly indentured girls, who are allowed indulgencies which would astonish an English housekeeper. They are treated rather as poor relations, or as children, than as menials. Black servants will take liberties that are not granted.
There are a few Negroes here; perhaps 200 in the whole town. More dissipated, vile, insolent beings there cannot be. I have been on the point of knocking my Shoeblack down twice. I changed him; — and but little for the better. It will not do to speak to a Negro as you must to a white man; he assumes upon it immediately. Yet I know Negroes who are most excellent servants. Mr. J----- has one — his story is worth relating.
Anthony was brought into Indiana by a man named Hopkins, who became Sheriff, and went with the Militia to Tippecanoe. He took Anthony with him as a waggoner. In that fiercely fought battle the Americans nearly yielded to the onset of the Indians. Anthony, who was safe amidst the baggage, rushed into the thickest of the fight, snatched a rifle from a dying soldier, and fought by the side of his Master. When Indiana became a state, slavery was abolished and Anthony was free.
195broke from them and ran into Princeton, where his part was taken by my friend Mr. J----, who bought his time and treats him as a friend rather than a servant. In three years he will be free, and he talks of going to his father, who lives among the Chickasaws, but I tell him I shall want him. As I always pay him the respect due to his virtues and almost heroic character, he is very much attached to me. He is learning to read of Mr. Birkbeck's servant.
This man Anthony is as well made as any white. His colour is deep black. There is a quickness and cheerfulness about him, which makes him an excellent servant.
The whites here hold themselves above the blacks, be they bondsmen or free. The blacks are the Helots of this modern Sparta.
Workmen of every class are upon an equality with every man. I am now surrounded by those of Mr. Green's Shops, whose address is equal to that of many an Englishman who farms his thousand acres; they expect civility and they generally return it.
The boatmen who used to be my aversion, are not nearly so much so now. There are some incorrigible scoundrels among them; and their conversation and manners are only to be equalled in the sinks of London; but should you take a respectable young woman on board a boat, especially if it be your own, you will not hear a word to offend you. — But I would advise all travellers going alone
196down the river, to get one man at least that they can depend upon, and to wear a dagger or a brace of pistols; for there are no desperadoes more savage in their anger than these men. Give them your hand, — accost them with a bold air, — taste their whisky, — and you win their hearts. But a little too much reserve or haughtiness offends them instantly, and draws upon you torrents of abuse, if not a personal assault. They are a dauntless, hardy set; thoughtless, and short lived from intemperance. I must say for them, that, since I have understood their characters, I have never received a saucy word from any of them.
I write in a desultory manner, which I hope you will excuse; and I hope you will never imagine things to be worse than I represent them. I give the darker shade to every vice, the full, broad, outline to all I dislike in this Country. So pray do not let your imagination dwell on the ills, which follow the footsteps of man wherever he goes.
The family I am in are from Nantucket. In the Pennsylvanian farmer's letter by Hector St. John, there is a pretty description of that little island, and it is correct, I am told, in all respects, but one in which he mentions the general use of opium.
The Nantucketers are most like the good, old fashioned English, of any Americans I have seen. To me, now I am becoming an American, they seem to be absolutely English. Perhaps there may be
197some differences, but they are not very obvious. I am treated by this family with great kindness, as much so as if I were a Son of it. I should say that part of the family is from New Jersey, who are next akin to English. New Yorkers, perhaps, come next.
A record of temperatures — A hard winter — Life during the cold weather — The climate and health — Reasons for lack of longevity among the Westerners — A trip from Princeton to the English Prairie — The hiring of laborers — Entering more land — English manners to be preserved in Mr. Birkbeck's settlement — Possibility of an Indian war — The Rappites of Harmony — Their manners and character — Religious services.
English Prairie May 5. 1818.
I SHALL attend to your desire to have a meteorological diary kept: it is the only way of obtaining a correct knowledge of the temperature of the climate.
Mr. B. has noted in his almanack the variations of the Thermometer till he left Princeton 3 weeks ago. — I will give you now from memory a sketch of the changes since July 1817.
|July.||Therm, at noon 75°. to 85°. — at night, perhaps, 50°. to 55°. — Thunderstorm once in 10 days — no fogs or hazy weather.|
|August.||75°. to 90°. Thunderstorms, frequent — clear weather and warm nights.|
|Septr.||70°. to 85°. Thunderstorms and hard rain two or three days, nights warm.|
|October.||40°. to 80°. Cold winds and rains the latter part of the month.|
|November.||40°. to 70°. A few days of hazy weather, succeeded by the Indian Summer, during which the sky was always obscured as if by smoke. The weather warm and pleasant. The sun looked red, and the clouds yellowish. This was succeeded by rain and after by cool weather — It was still pleasant sleeping in the woods.|
|December.||Therm: varied a good deal. Sometimes we sat out of doors in the evening. The month closed with hard frosts, which broke up after 10 days duration — say for this month — 1st. week 40°. to 55°. at noon. 2d. ----- 35° to 50°. 3d. ----- at night 8°. below 0. at noon 10° and 15°. above. 4th. ----- The frost broke up with cold rain.|
|January.||Pleasant weather; generally 50°. at noon.|
|February.||Freezing hard and thawing again. Weather changing every week.|
|March.||Cold winds, — quite English March weather.|
|April.||English April weather.|
|May. 5th.||Trees are putting forth leaves, grass beginning to grow, and woods gay with blossoms.|
The oldest Indian traders say that there has been more rain, and that it has been altogether severer, this winter, than they have known for thirty years. Some very old men say at the first settling of St. Vincennes 60 years ago, there were two or three such winters. Much credit cannot be given to such long recollections. The waters of the Wabash this winter rose to some very old water marks, which evidently had not been touched for many years.
When the Thermometer is 10°. below Zero, it is impossible to warm a boarded frame house. A good log or plastered one may be made warm. Men never think of working in this weather, but every body crowds round the tavern fires to talk politics. The bear hunters, however, choose this weather, and go out 9 or 10 days without returning home. They make blanket tents, open towards the fire, which is an oblong pyramid of logs 10 feet by 3 or 4 at the base.
The coldest weather is cheerful: fogs are almost unknown, except on large bodies of water. On the Ohio I have known it so dark at 10 a. m. that I could not see 30 yards.
This spring is later than any ever remembered. There is, upon the whole, a superiority in the Climate of the western Country to that of England; though not so great as I at first imagined, or as you would expect from the latitude. Consumptions are almost unknown here. Bilious fevers are rather prevalent, but not dangerous when early attended to. Women have not such good health as the men
201have; but that is to be attributed to their mode of life, — being always in the house, usually without shoes and stockings, and roasting themselves over large fires.
People are not so long-lived here as in England, and they look old sooner. This I think may be justly attributed to
1st. The universal use of spirituous liquors.
2dly. The disregard of personal comfort and cleanliness, exposure to bad air near swamps &c, and want of good Clothing.
3dly. The great stimulus and excitement of the mental passions, which adventurers and first settlers are, by their situation, subject to.
4thly. (Perhaps) violent religious enthusiasm.
5thly. In some instances, very early marriages.
I find it no easy task to write descriptions of manners and opinions. If individual pictures only be drawn, the inferences must be in part erroneous; and sketches of a more comprehensive nature are either loose and incorrect, or tame and unreadable.
Harmonic on the Wabash — May 6. Robert W----- arrived at Princeton on Sunday, while I was taking a walk in the woods with Mr. S-----. As we returned into the town, a woman poked her head out of a hole, called a window, in the side of a log cabin, and screamed out "An Englishman is come."
I ran home, and found whole packets of letters. You do not know what it is to have letters from a
202long left native land. — I did not sleep that night.
The next morning Robert and I started for the Prairie. I took him the shortest road, or rather through Woods and Swamps where there was no road at all. He had been wearied by his journey and discouraged. I talked, laughed, galloped and splashed along, to his great astonishment, who could not imagine that a civilized Englishman could like such a dismal Country.
We came to the Wabash: Even "the handsome river," with its silver waves, excited in the Londoner no admiration. At Coffee Settlement
Eight miles more of woods and wet prairies brought us to Boonpas, and my friends the W-----'s, fine specimens of backwoodsmen. Their hospitable, not to say, courteous manners, frank and intrepid look, and the pleasure they expressed at seeing me, pleased Robert: here he felt a little better.
We then travelled through some rough, brushy woods, broken by ravines; then through part of the Long Prairie and a narrow strip of wood; and the English Prairie, with all its swelling hills, meandering brooks, and dark surrounding forests, opened at once upon our sight. A strong Northwesterly
203wind swept off the clouds over the Southern ridges, and the sun shone forth in the clear sky of a Southern climate, throwing alternate light and shade on the wood-clothed hills, which rise above each other in long succession till they are lost in the blue horizon. Robert exclaimed, "This is grand!" and I was shaking hands with him to welcome him to our territory, when four deer springing from a thicket startled our horses; and his ran away with him across the Prairie. We reached the settlement at sun down; and that night Robert shared my blanket on the floor of a new Cabin.
Yesterday I left the English Prairie with -----, and came here to engage hands to take a keel boat to Shawnee. I must go then to enter land, and shall return immediately on horseback to superintend the building of houses to receive -----'s and my people. Mine will be French Canadians.
I have hired one man, his wife and three boys, great and small, for 15$ per month, and I am to find them food. The woman is to cook and wash for me. DuG----- has offered me his eldest son, 15 years old, a very nice boy, on trial. I have sent to Vincennes for 3 more men; besides which I want to contract with Americans to build four houses, and to make two miles of fence railing, and one mile of ditching.
I have surveyed the land next behind mine, and only one quarter section is good. There are some hills of thin timber, such as will lie unoccupied, perhaps five or six years. But I think I can find some
204good land for you near the Brushy Prairie. The English Prairie is entirely taken up by our party, except 3 quarter sections at the bottom, which I have no doubt will be bought by some of us.
I shall enter one quarter more north of my own, which will make my farm 480 acres, of which 200 acres will be good prairie, and the remaining 280 acres, white oak, post oak, shell-bark hickory and walnut land, that is pretty good second rate land, such as will grow fine wheat crops, and about 50 bushels of Maize per acre. The timber is very thrifty, apparently of about 40 or 50 years growth.
I will not enter inferior land for you for the sake of proximity. The country is filling up fast; so it will answer better to buy good land further off.
I am obliged to you for remembering me. I can assure you, I often think of you in this land of dirt, bad cooking, and discomfort of every kind.
But I am not, thanks to the very nice family I am with, either discouraged, or yet quite a hottentot. I still prefer sweet butter to grease, milk fresh from the cow to sour and rancid swill; although, I like corn or hoe cakes, hominy (that is boiled corn) and mush (hasty pudding made of Indian meal) and stewed pumpkins very well. I change my shirt, when it is convenient, twice a week, and sometimes take my clothes off when I go to bed. My hands, though rougher by far, are not quite so dark as an Indian's; and moreover I am grown very stout.
Mr. Birkbeck does not mean to introduce more American customs in our Colony than will be necessary. English ideas and manners will be preserved as much as possible; and already we begin to be respected. Some of the wildest fellows want to remove, but other respectable men wish to get near us. So in many respects the desert will soon begin to smile.
When we first came out there was no population to withstand an incursion of Indians, if a war had been excited by the violent and cruel hunters. Our houses were planned to be easily converted into forts, and bastions erected at the angles. These precautions will be unnecessary now; though Mr. B., who never pronounces the word fear, and Judge H., a cidevant Soldier, both thought them to be prudential measures a few months ago.
However, should a war break out on our frontiers, I hope there is not nor will be, a young Englishman among us, who would hesitate to turn out with his gun and blanket. There is much less Indian Territory in Illinois than in Indiana.
I am at Harmonie,
206both with the leaders Messrs. Rapp Senr. and Junr. and with the people. I am treated here with great kindness.
Their monastic way of life is, which I once doubted, the result of religious conviction. I have talked with some of them on their religious Principles. The Tavern is conducted in the most orderly and cleanly manner that a tavern can be in America, where men spit every where, and, almost on every thing. Now they know my habits are European, they put me in a clean bed, give me clean towels, and pay me more respect than they do any American.
Their cooking, their dress, is exactly the same as it was on the banks of the Rhine. Their language is German. They are orderly, civil people, and their town is already very neat. The houses, log-built, are placed at regular distances, and are each surrounded by a neat kitchen and flower garden, paled in. The footpath is divided from the road by rows of lombardy poplars. Mr. Rapp's house is a handsome brick building, by far the best in Indiana.
The Harmonists have, to each family a cow, which comes to its owner's gate every morning and evening. In the woods they are kept by herdsmen. They have public ovens, public stores, and every thing in common. They brew beer and make wine: the latter is kept for the sick and to sell. They all dress alike: — Mr. Rapp as the meanest labourer; — except when he goes out of town.
They are great musicians, and many of them study music as a Science. Once a week they have a concert at Mr. Rapp's, to which I am invited.
Their church is a neat wooden building, painted white. It has a tower, a bell, and a clock. The
208men sit at one end of the church and the women at the other; and Mr. Rapp sits while he preaches in a chair placed on a stage, about one yard high, with a table before him. When I heard him one week day evening, he wore a linsey woolsey coat and a blue worsted night cap. In praying the Harmonists do not rise up nor kneel down, but bend their bodies forward, almost to their knees. Their singing is very good.
The country people hate the Harmonists very much, because they permit no drunkenness in their taverns.
When I make severe remarks on the Americans, you must understand I always except a considerable number; some of whom would be ornaments to any Country. Judge H-----, S-----, and B----- (though quite a youth) are of this number. . . .
Rise of land values — The question of admitting slavery — Lack of free laborers — Wages and expenses of laborers — Land for every immigrant — Mr. Birkbeck's plan for the settlement of his English laborers — Difficulties of establishing a settlement — Threatened incursion of Indians — Kentucky hospitality — Mode of life of the Kentuckians.
Princeton June 20. 1818.
KENTUCKIAN Speculators are very busy in every direction around us, and I expect that land on the Wabash, the Ohio, the Illinois, and the Mississippi, will be very shortly worth from 5$ to 30$ per acre. Perhaps in two or three years; and as far inland as the beneficial effects of navigation can be felt. The rise of the value of land will be modified by the circumstances of local situation, quantity and quality of timber, water, and, — more than all, — by the decision of the Convention, now about to be elected, upon the grand question of Slavery.
210chosen land will double in value in one day; and no good and well-situated land will be worth less than 10$ per acre. In fact, some land is worth 10$ per acre at this moment, and a section at the mouth of Bon pas is valued by the owner at 15$ per acre. I believe Mr. B. will purchase it.
I would not have upon my conscience the moral guilt of extending Slavery over countries now free from it, for the whole North Western Territory. But, if it should take place, I do not see why I should not make use of it. If I do not have servants I cannot farm; and there are no free labourers here, except a few so worthless, and yet so haughty, that an English Gentleman can do nothing with them.
A man used to work will earn in one day what will suffice for the simple wants of a Backwoodsman a whole week. If he be sober and industrious, in two years he can enter a quarter section of land, buy a horse, a plough, and tools. The lowest price for labour now is 13$ per month with board and
211lodging. I will give two years net proceeds in figures.
|12 months at 13$||156$|
|12 months at 13||156|
|Clothing for two years say||100|
|One quarter of land||80|
|One horse and harness and plough||100|
|Axe grubbing hoe &c||10|
|Gun and powder &c||15|
After putting in his crop of maize, he can supply himself with meat and some money by hunting, or he can earn $1 per day in splitting rails for his neighbours. Many men begin as independent farmers with half the above mentioned sum, but they are thorough Backwoodsmen.
Now, is it not evident that while land can be bought, no matter how far from navigable rivers, at $2 per acre, and when there are tracts they may "squat" upon for nothing, that labour will be for many years limited in price only by the ability of those who want it, to pay for it. It is indeed the only expence; but is so overwhelming that I would rather farm in old England with a capital of 2 or 3000Å than on the North West of the Ohio. If we consider the immense territory to the North West of us, and the roving spirit of the Americans, we may wonder that any work can be hired. The truth is, none are to be hired but Emigrants from the Eastern States, who intend to be land owners in one, two, or three years. And these are few in number: for the steady and prudent earn the money at home and bring it with them.
Mr. Birkbeck's object is to settle his old servants around him, and, while they earn money to enable them to be independent farmers, he will get his Estate greatly improved. It will be raised in value by the industrious population around improving the land he sells. Thus his speculation will succeed; and he will be gratified by his being looked up to as the chief of the Colony: but for immediate, or even distant, profit in money, he does not expect. His English labourers have already caught the desire to be land owners, but they rely on his promise to let them have land when they can pay for it at 2$ per acre. They feel gratified for this generosity, which is in fact a wise and liberal policy.
Our colony now contains between 40 and 50 persons, besides American settlers in the neighbourhood. Mr. B. with great difficulty gets Cabins erected by the Backwoodsmen; and not nearly fast enough for the demand. His own people finish them, make fences &c. I cannot convey to you any idea of the difficulties one meets with at every step in founding a colony; especially when food is to be carried on horses, or a waggon, and a road to be made 12 miles to a river, where it is to be unloaded from boats on to land the property of a stranger, and which is unsettled. Then every article must be slightly covered in a Camp, and guarded, or exposed to the cupidity of the boatmen or hunters. Horses are to be broken in to work together; waggons, carts, and ploughs to be made, or brought several days journey. Even when they are ordered,
213there is no certainty of the order being executed: for the Smith has no iron; you buy it, then he has no coal. The Wheelwright is gone a hunting, or is drunk, or attending a lawsuit. The Sadler and collar maker will sell the articles you have ordered to the first comer. — You are sure of nothing; not even when you go for it yourself; except at Harmonie where business is done, when they have time, with great regularity.
Mr. Birkbeck has fifty acres fenced. He has sunk two wells 20 or 30 feet, and found coal instead of water. He must try elsewhere. I have one cabin covered in, and one house of hewn logs nearly done for ----. There is a small spring near his house.
Some of Mr. Birkbeck's men are sick. I have all mine, except a frenchman, engaged by the job; and they are all well. I expect an additional force from Harmonie of 3 men and 2 women, just arrived from Switzerland. They are good looking people, and one speaks a little french.
A message from the prairie informs me, that 8 backwoodsmen are gone to drive off some Indians from a creek near my line. They have killed 20 does in one day. If the Indians resist they will be murdered.
I have been here two days since my return from Kentucky, ill from riding in the sun. But I shall go to the Prairie tomorrow or Robert W. will be uneasy. He lives in my cabin and takes care of the provisions and stores. I shall put it into a defensible state, if any mischief has been done; but I shall be under no personal apprehensions; for besides being known to a great many Indians, I can bring down deer, birds and squirrels at every shot with my rifle. I have done harm to none, and I have not the least fear that any will do harm to me.
In my late visit to Kentucky I have become acquainted with several respectable families. Mr. A. received us with great kindness and hospitality. I will describe our reception, and it will answer for all the rest of our visits. We alighted at the Inn at Henderson
My dirty shirt, cravat, &c, was taken possession of by the laundress. At dinner, every thing in profusion; — but no imported luxuries. Ice was placed on the butter and on the water and in the water jug. Whisky and Toddy instead of Wine. Supper — much the same, with the addition of tea and coffee, — the only imported luxuries in the house; Mr. A.'s garden and icehouse furnished all the rest. My bed was delightfully adapted for a warm climate; sheets like gauze, and gauze mosquito curtains around it.
We visited Judge T-----, Mr. H-----, Mr. A-----s and Gen. H-----, members of Congress. Not one of these gentlemen live in so good a house as that of our baker at ----- in England. Gen. H----- has 160 negroes, who live in cottages on the skirts of the farm of 500 acres, which is cut out of immense and dark forests. In the centre of this clearing are the old rotten cabins which are occupied by the General and his genteelly dressed daughters; to each of whom he gives 10 negroes and a farm, for a marriage portion.
Many gentlemen live just as well as the General, who have only 70 or 80 acres of productive land.
The Kentuckians are so hospitable that they will stop you on the road, and oblige you to go to their houses, if they have ever seen you in respectable society.
This has happened to me, and I have not been suffered to pursue my journey till I had promised to call again and sleep.
Though the houses near Henderson are bad, there are good gardens and icehouses; and cleanliness, which strongly contrasts with the dirty Ohio houses, and the Indiana and Illinois pigsties, in which men women and children wallow in promiscuous filth. But the Kentuckians have servants; and whatever may be the future consequences of Slavery, the present effects are in these respects most agreeable and beneficial. A Kentuckian farmer has the manners of a gentleman; he is more or less refined according to his education, but there is generally a grave, severe, dignity of deportment in the men of middle age, which prepossesses, and commands respect. . . .
I thought I was Mosquito proof last year; but in sleeping at the mouth of the Bon pas 3 weeks ago, I was terribly bitten. I have been exposed to their attacks once since, and my body is covered with swellings, which itch intolerably. After the skin is once inoculated and saturated with the poison of these insects, their bites have but little effect. . . .
I am not at present very well. The weather is very hot. — Therm: 90°. — the sky clear: — if a cloud passes once a week, a thunder gust drives it off. We have had a slight shock of an Earthquake.
A Prussian Baron B-----, who was five years Minister at the Court of Louis 15, is coming to visit me.
Mr. Birkbeck's book — A journal of ten days — A fourth of July celebration — The coming struggle over slavery in Illinois — Acts of Congress regarding Illinois — A projected trip up the Red River — Character of the backwoodsman — High regard for Englishmen — The life of the hunters on the Wabash — The hunters on the Missouri — Men needed to develop the wilderness.
Princeton July 6th. 1818.
You have read Mr. Birkbeck's book.
I will give you my journal of the last ten days.
June 26th. Went with Mr. R-----, just arrived from England, to our settlement. Before we left Princeton filled our pockets with biscuits, and carried two sacks of corn (maize) for our horses. At Coffee Island Swamp Mr. R----- was astonished that I left the road and all visible track, to go through a part that was not so deep a bog. He offered me his compass, which I, a little vain of my hunting instincts, declined using. — We came out 2 miles from the place we entered exactly where the road passes between the two ponds.
27th. Hunting land with Mr. R-----. Did not find any that quite pleased us. Crossed the Pianke-shaw Prairie at noon — Sun — burning hot. Reached Mr. Q-----'s Cabin just at dinner time — it is floored and carpetted. It is made of Hickory logs, and is ornamented with large mirrors in gilded frames, a handsome four post bedstead &c. It looked like a fairy bower in the wilderness.
28th. Started alone at daybreak from my own humble cabin and went to B----- of Burke's prairie.
29th. B----- accompanied me to the Banks of the Little Wabash. He went fishing while I swam across the river. Not liking the growth of timber there, I returned, and he took me a few miles up the stream, to a rich bottom, where I took notes of 480 acres of land to be entered for my uncle K-----. B----- shewed me this day how to entice does by bleating. But though he could bring the beautiful
219affectionate looking creatures within twenty steps, and leveled his unerring rifle several times, he would not shoot one. Yet there was no meat in his cabin and we lived this day on squirrels. We saw fresh signs of Bears in many places, but could not put one up. Chased a wolf half a mile without success. Returned well pleased with my day's work.
July 2d. Went to Princeton (40 miles) for letters. Met Messrs. ----- and -----, English visitors to our Prairie.
July 4th. Anniversary of independence. Last night I assisted in raising the flag of liberty in the public square, which this morning waved proudly over the group of young citizens assembled there to celebrate the day with festal games. The young men of the more respectable class gave a ball to all the damsels of the village and the vicinity. It commenced at three o'clock.
Some few of the girls were really handsome, and all were well dressed and appeared to be very happy. English country dances, or sets as they are called were attempted without success. In reels and cotillions they were quite at home.
In this land of equality it is very difficult to keep improper persons out of a public or even a private party. This evening some of the young men armed themselves with Dirks (poignards worn under the clothes) to resist the intrusion of the Militia, as the vulgar are contemptuously called. Unluckily one of our party was electioneering, and treated some hunters in the bar room with rum.
We supped in the open air at 7, and afterwards continued the dance till ten. After supper several attempts were made by some shabby looking fellows to come in, but they were prevented by the bar-keeper. The dancers kept it up most indefatigably, in spite of heat almost equal to that of the West Indies. In going away some of the gentlemen were insulted by the rabble, but the rumour that they were armed with dirks and pistols prevented serious mischief. In the night a large window was smashed to pieces, and the frame driven into the house.
The female part of the Company were all well dressed, but their birth and education as different as possible. The daughter of a proud and poor Virginian stood next the heiress of a bricklayer's fortune: An English adventurer danced with the wife of a member of the legislature; the maker of laws with the daughter of a lawless hunter: and a major of militia led out the only female servant in the inn, and who was obliged to leave the party to help, not her mistress but the tavern-keeper's wife, to set out the supper table.
July 5th. This day being Sunday was spent by the young men in visiting their mistresses and talking politics.
I am going tomorrow across the Wabash, and, probably, the next day I shall cross the Little Wabash to "hunt land."
Today the people of the Illinois meet to choose members of a convention to frame a constitution.
221There will be a grand struggle between those who are for, and those who are against Slavery. Numbers are nearly balanced; but the advocates of Slave-holding gain strength daily.
Congress has granted to the people of the Illinois power to form a constitution, although there are but 35,000 inhabitants scattered over a tract 400 miles long and 200 miles wide. Congress has enlarged the limits of the state northwardly, so as to embrace 60 miles of the shore on the western side of Lake Michigan, and has given up the advantages to be drawn from its Salt works, which are the best in the United States. With these concessions it has forbidden Slavery, according to its Ordinance for the Government of the North Western Territory. But the people here are utterly regardless of ordinances, and will take the subject into their own hands, and say they will make a treaty with Congress as an independent State.
Liberty is the watchword of the popular or democratic party, and in their vocabulary it means any thing and every thing. It has no limits but the weakness of man, no boundary but that of his desires. To right oneself by violence, to oppose force to force, is reckoned a virtue here; and woe to the man who is suspected of cowardice.
If particular circumstances had not happened I should probably have gone up the Natchitoches or Red River on a trading expedition to the Osage Nation.
222out last winter 600 miles up the Red River, and made a profitable trip of it. He likes the Country so well that he is going to take his young wife and infant, his father in law, and his wife's brothers and sister, with him, to settle on that remote frontier, 300 miles above the town of Natchitoches. I had almost engaged to go with an expert hunter and Indian trader, a second Drewyer or Clarke, when Dr. P----- told me of his plan. This seemed to add safety to enterprise; and we reckoned on engaging a large boat's crew to carry with us arms, beaver traps and Indian goods, and to make it a trading expedition on my part, a hunting one on J-----'s, and to facilitate Dr. P----- to settle with his family. If I liked the adventure, I should return in the ensuing fall of the year, and buy the furs which J----- and P----- would by hunting and by barter be able to procure.
Our market would have been New Orleans or New York, according to circumstances. If New York, I should go there by sea from N. Orleans, purchase Indian fittings, take them by land to Pittsburg, thence down the Ohio, and the Mississippi, and up the Red River to our station on Pocoon point. . . .
Lax morals; few principles, but those deeply impressed on the mind; a careless haughtiness of manner, without any affectation, or consequential airs; and a quick perception of the ridiculous — these are
223some of the characteristics of a man born and raised in the backwoods. The fondness for ridicule is remarkable in the Kentuckians, as well as their patience in taking a joke. But try to offend, and a knife or a dirk is drawn and aimed in an instant. Mr. S----- wears one, when among strangers, ten inches long in the blade. He is so avowedly fond of ridiculing unworthiness, that he confesses it is one of the greatest pleasures of his life, to laugh at and despise a scoundrel. — There is plenty of food for his spleen in this country.
Some of our Englishmen have won the Kindness of the Americans almost by surprise. G----- and Mr. B----- have both become favorites in a few days. A Kentuckian suspects nobody but a Yankee, whom he considers as a sort of Jesuit. An Englishman is one of that nation with whom he is proud to contend in the field of battle. Comes he as a visitor? he is received courteously; as a settler? — with frank hospitality and kindness. But if he thinks to flatter them by declaiming against his old country, he will be listened to with suspicion and contempt. You please them by openly avowing your affection and even your prejudice in favour of Old England, if you admit at the same time that you do not approve of all the acts of the British Government.
I fear you will find this a dull letter, but I am so racked with anxiety to see ----- that I can attend to nothing. I must take my rifle and my horse and bury myself for another week in the forests
224with B-----. He is a fine fellow. There are traits of kindness in his character, which soften down the sterner features of a ranger. Three Indians with their wives were killed at the South end of the English prairie 15 months ago. B----- had moved them off his hunting ground, but would not kill them, in pity of their wives. Three others 25 miles further off came after them, killed all six, and buried them in our Prairie. B----- said his hand should never be stained with woman's blood.
I have been at these hunters' cabins, and found them almost without food of any kind. A deer or a turkey has been brought in at nightfall; each has cut off the part he liked best, stuck it on a sharpened stick which he has inserted between the logs of the chimney, and so roasted it. The best skins and blankets have been chosen for me. The broken fiddle, and a cup of metheglin made of wild honey, have been produced; and dances, songs and mirth have lasted till past midnight. I have been obliged to get up and dance with them, such has been the intolerable noise. Living all together in one room, they have no notion that silence is necessary to a sleepy man: and, having no society and no regular engagements, night and day are alike to them.
The hunters on the Missouri are, I am told, a more abandoned set than those on the Wabash. They live entirely under the shelter of a blanket or the bark of trees, and are never nearer to each other than 9 or 10 miles, and moving every week or two. They trap a great many beavers and by
225this are enabled to buy spirits. They are more like the amphibious race on the banks of the Ohio, who are by turns hunters, boatmen, and farmers, and to whom robbing, violence and even murder, are familiar.
Instead of being more virtuous, as he is less refined, I am inclined to think that man's virtues are like the fruits of the earth, only excellent when subjected to culture. The force of this simile you will never feel, till you ride in these woods over wild strawberries, which die your horse's fetlocks like blood yet are insipid in flavour; till you have seen waggon loads of grapes, choked by the bramble and the poisonous vine; till you find peaches, tasteless as a turnip, and roses throwing their leaves of every shade upon the winds, with scarcely a scent upon them. Tis the hand of man that makes the wilderness shine. His footsteps must be found in the scene that is supremely & lastingly beautiful.
Opportunities for English settlers in the West — Sacrifices and comforts of frontier life — Places of settlement recommended for various classes of English emigrants — Expenses of living — Servitude.
Princeton August 24. 1818.
You ask me, can a farmer with a capital of Å250 live comfortably in this country? — Certainly much more comfortably than he can in England, if he has only Å250, and no friends to lend him Å2,000 in addition to it, or his friends are unwilling to help him. It is only a matter of choice then between servitude and independance. But there is no comfort here for the poor man beyond coarse food in plenty, coarse clothing, log huts, and the pleasure of repose earned by hard work. If the industrious farmer invest his capital in Land and Hogs in the Illinois, these will pay him 50 per cent, and that 25 per cent. per ann. for several succeeding years. But perhaps he must carry his horse-load of wheat 30 miles to the mill, — and his wife, if he have one, must make biscuits of it on his return. This is not consistent with English notions of comfort, but it is certain the backsettler is happier than the wretch, who is condemned to crouch to haughty landlords, to dread the oft repeated visit of the tytheman, the taxgatherer, and the overseer.
If a man can live within his income without losing his rank in society, and without being forced to borrow of those who think they oblige by lending;
227if he can pay the overwhelming taxes, which the English Ministry have so thoughtlessly squandered in making the English name hated to the uttermost parts of the earth: there are in England comforts, nay, sources of happiness, which will for ages be denied to these half savage countries, good houses, good roads, a mild and healthy climate, healthy, because the country is old, society, the arts of life carried almost to perfection, and Laws well administered.
"Where Man, by Nature fierce, has laid aside
"His fierceness; having learnt, though slow to learn
"The Manners and the Arts of civil life."
I will loosely classify English Emigrants, and point out the sections of country, in which each will find the greatest number of advantages.
The English Country Gentleman, — may settle in Virginia, district of Columbia, Maryland, New Jersey, and the lower part of Pennsylvania.
The genteel farmer — in Kentucky.
The rich yeoman — in Kentucky, Missouri, Tennessee, and Appalachicola.
The poor farmer — with a capital of Å300 & upwards, — in Illinois and Indiana.
Ditto, — if unmarried, — in Missouri, the lower parts of Kentucky and Appalouchia;
Mechanics, — if masters of the most useful trade, and capitalists, — always in the most settled parts of the Western Country, and generally in the Slave States.
Ditto — inferior workmen, — or without money, — in the new towns on the frontiers.
Engineers, smiths, founders, millwrights, and turners, may find employment in the larger towns on the Ohio.
Shopkeepers, and makers and dealers of articles of luxury, should never cross the mountains.
I cannot think that any elderly man, especially if he have a family delicately brought up, would live comfortably in a free state. In a slave State, if he have wealth, say, 5000Å and upwards, he may raise upon his own farm all the food and raiment, the latter manufactured at home, necessary to supply the wants of his own family.
This has been, till lately, the universal economy of the first Kentucky families. Thus, without living more expensively than in a free state, a family may have the comforts of domestic services, and yet find plenty of employment within doors; not sordid slavery that wears out the health, and depresses the
229spirits of Ohio, but useful yet light labours, that may be remitted and resumed at pleasure.
There is more difference between the manners of the female sex on the East and West sides of the Ohio River than on the East and West shores of the Atlantic Ocean. Servitude in any form is an evil, but the structure of civilized society is raised upon it. If the minds of women are left unimproved, their morals will be at the mercy of any man. It is much worse where there is no superior rank to influence them by example, or to awe them by disapprobation. I am conscious that I repeat again and again the same arguments — or rather I state similar facts; but it is an important subject.
Society may suffer more by the abjectness of Slaves than by the want of servants, and a father of a family would prefer to live where there are good free servants as in Europe, or where slaves have more liberty of action than servants, as in Kentucky. The question in these wildernesses is this: Shall we have civilization and refinement, or sordid manners and semi-barbarism, till time shall produce so much inequality of condition that the poor man must serve the rich man for his daily bread?
Messrs. F. and W. R----- arrived here yesterday. I go with them to-day to the prairies. .
The prevalence of intermittent fevers — The climate of Illinois — Lung troubles almost unknown.
Shawnee Oct. 17. 1818.
Soon after -----'s arrival at the prairie I fell sick, and indeed throughout the Settlement there were more sick than well. G----- had brought no medicines with him and mine were almost all used or given away, and the nearest Physician was thirty miles off. My fever reduced me to a state of extreme weakness, but my nurse, by constantly supplying me with corn meal gruel and chicken broth prevented me from sinking under the violence of my disorder.
The fever soon became a regular intermittent, of which I was soon cured by bark and laudanum.
These intermittent fevers are the Scourges of new Settlements in the Western Country. They are seldom dangerous and are much under the power of medicine, but ought to be considered by Emigrants as unavoidable. When provided for, they are slight and of little consequence.
The first year may be passed by a careful or robust person without receiving any injury from the climate, but in the second the system becomes relaxed by heat. I cannot explain how, but I can state the fact as related to me, and confirmed by my own experience, that those who come from Northern and healthy climates will in these Southern
231latitudes suffer a change of constitution, and that this change will be produced or accomplished by a fit of sickness. This is not to be wondered at, when we consider that for some weeks in the year the air is a perfect hot bath, and, for another period of equal duration the cold causes the quicksilver to sink 8°. below zero in Fahrenheit's Thermometer.
The Western Americans, especially the poorer class, are likewise very subject to febrile diseases. Their irregular way of living, their intemperance, the great mental excitement which to them is pleasure, produced by gambling, racing, fighting and moving, wear their constitutions. Their lean carcasses, their pale and eager countenances, early in life marked with wrinkles, and their reckless air, shew them to be adventurers, to whom anything is more welcome than plodding industry; to whom risk and danger is the preferable road to wealth, and the only path to honour. . . .
The leaves are now falling. We have fine delightful weather with frosty nights. The woods are beautifully
The climate of the Illinois is more agreeable than that of England. The sky is brighter, the air more transparent, but at present, less healthy. The country
232is intersected with innumerable streams whose overflowings produce swamps, which partially dry up in the summer, filling the air with mosquitoes and noxious effluvia. There are situations elevated and remote from stagnant waters, such as the English Prairie. But even here English Emigrants ought to expect to suffer a seasoning, before they can be inured to the changes of the weather. These changes are less sudden with us than in the state of Ohio, and become less and less so as we advance southward and southwestward, till in Appalouchie 500 miles west of the Mississippi, a climate is found of medium temperature; the summers being cooled by the breezes from the snowy mountains of Mexico, and the northern winds are tempered by passing over the Prairies of the Missouri.
You will take into consideration, that disorders of the lungs are here almost unknown, and that those who are already invalids are quite as likely to improve as to injure their constitutions by removing to this Country. I am more strong and healthy than I was in England, and I should probably have escaped the seasoning sickness, if the summer had not been uncommonly hot and wet. When good houses are erected, roads opened, and mills built, the health of the people will be much better. . . .
The town of Albion planned — Continued surveying — The surrounding prairies — Prairie fires — Instructions for Emigrants: Capital required — Paying occupations — Clothing to be brought — Blankets a good investment — Travelling in the steerage — The journey from Philadelphia to Pittsburg — Down the Ohio to the Illinois Country.
English Prairie Oct. 30. 1818.
I am laying off a new town to be called Albion.
As soon as I have laid out this town, and the winter is well set in, I intend entering some more land, as the waters are up, and you may know what
234places are acceptible or not, or what lands are too wet for cultivation or healthfulness; in short, you are sure not to be deceived by the apparent beauty of the situation.
I was yesterday taken from the New Town Survey to explore, and run the section lines over, the Long Prairie
I had never before crossed them so high from the mouth of the river, and was delighted with the beauty and variety of these meadows. The Bon Pas Prairie extends itself like a vast lake of verdure. The soil is rich, but lies rather too low.
The Northern arm of the Long Prairie is more like an immense river, studded with islands of wood, and bounded by dark forests, whose irregular outlines present to the eye fresh views at almost every step. The surface of this Prairie is gently undulating, completely free from brushwood, and its soil is still more rich than that of the Bon Pas Prairie. I have noted down some sections to enter for friends. . . .
Since I began to write this letter I have been interrupted by a tremendous fire in the Prairie, which driven by a strong South wind threatened our habitations. By the exertions of about 40 Americans
235we saved every thing but a hay stack of G-----'s.
It was the most glorious and most awful sight I ever beheld. A thousand acres of Prairie were in flames at once; — the sun was obscured, and the day was dark before the night came. The moon rose, and looked dim and red through the smoke, and the stars were hidden entirely. Yet it was still light upon the earth, which appeared covered with fire. The flames reached the forests, and rushed like torrents through. Some of the trees fell immediately, others stood like pillars of fire, casting forth sparkles of light. Their branches are strewed in smoking ruins around them.
While I was with G-----'s people, burning a trough round his house, I saw the fire approach my own. It almost had surrounded it. I ran with my utmost speed, and found I could not get round the fire. A small opening appeared in one part, and I dashed through, though not without singing my hunting shirt and scorching my mocassins with the glowing ashes.
A small creek near my house stopped the fire; which, however, would not have reached it, as the grass had been eaten down and trodden to pieces by my horses. The way to stop the fire is to light smaller fires, which are kept from spreading by beating the grass with Clapboards or poles. This can only be effectual where the grass is short, or much trodden.
There are five large fires visible tonight, some many miles off.
The prairies are fired by the hunters to drive out the deer. Two or three years after a place is settled, the grass is eaten down and will not burn.
We have now 200 English on our Settlement.
[The following directions were given by the author to young men of small fortune in England who might feel inclined to emigrate.
If you are tired of a state of dependency, or if you are not in a good line of business, come out if you can raise 300Å.
You need not work at any laborious employment, but you must not mind a little rough living at first. I would advise you to learn to butcher a hog, to cut it up, and to salt it down properly; likewise a bullock. For the most profitable trade is salting pork and beef for home consumption, or for New Orleans.
Dealing in corn, grain, and flour, pays extremely
237well. There are indeed many things you could do here, and your choice would be puzzled with the variety.
Bring three good coats, cloth waistcoats and trowsers, for Breeches are never worn here, except by a few English; three or four pair of light linen trowsers; two suits of fustian coats and trowsers; and several pair of worsted and cotton socks, but no stockings. Bring no shooting jacket, unless you have it by you.
Let your chest be made of seasoned deal, and the lid should have a groove in three sides, and the box have a slip or tongue to fit into it. The back part should have a rule joint, like a table. Such a box would be air tight.
The only article of merchandise I can recommend you to bring is blankets; some tolerably good, others coarse. These will pay you Cent per Cent. Invest Å50 in this article.
Come in the steerage, if there are but few steerage passengers, but don't venture among a great many; and by all means, take your passage in an American ship. If you can meet with two or three respectable young men, board yourselves, and you may live a little better than on ship provisions.
Do not bring with you any English rifles, or indeed any firearms but a pair of pistols. A good rifle gunlock would be valuable.
I will suppose you come by way of New York to Philadelphia. Bring with you, if you can procure them, letters of introduction; and at the latter
238city enter your intention of becoming a citizen of the United States.
Engage a waggoner to carry your box and bed; but not yourself. The inside of the waggon is always filled, so that you cannot ride with any comfort. Your ship mattress and blankets are the best things you can bring to sleep on. You may wrap them in a horse-rug, rolled up and fastened with two stirrup leathers. By sleeping on your own bed, you will save from 12Ë to 25 cents per night, and avoid catching anything disagreeable.
You may perhaps meet with an intelligent, well-behaved, waggoner; this will add much to the comfort of your journey, and you may, by rendering him a little assistance now and then, make him your friend.
Americanise your appearance as much as you can; you will be treated better. You may pick up companions on the road, but beware lest you associate yourself with a scoundrel.
Address your luggage to some merchant at Pittsburg, and get a letter of credit sent forward to him. Otherwise, should you fall sick, or not choose to keep up with the waggon, you will then be under no uneasiness respecting it. One small trunk or portmanteau you should have with you to contain a change of linen.
Arrived at Pittsburg, you would take your passage to Cincinnati in a flat boat, or buy a skiff. Land at Evansville, leave your baggage there, and proceed to Princeton.
Selected List of Contemporary Travels.
The following volumes are frequently cited in the introduction and notes by short titles. Complete titles are given below for the sake of reference.
Birkbeck (Morris), Notes on a Journey in America from the Coast of Virginia to the Territory of Illinois, with Proposals for the Establishment of a Colony of English (Philadelphia, 1817).
Birkbeck (Morris), Letters from Illinois (London, 1818).
Bradbury (John), Travels in the Interior of America in the Years 1809, 1810, and 1811 (London, 1819). Reprinted in Thwaites, Early Western Travels, 1748-1846: A series of annotated Reprints of some of the best and rarest contemporary volumes of travel descriptive of the aborigines and social and economic conditions in the middle and far West, during the period of early American settlement (Cleveland, 1904); v.
Bullock (William), Sketch of a Journey through the Western States of North America. With a description of Cincinnati, by B. Drake and E. D. Mansfield (London, 1827). Thwaites, Early Western Travels, xix.
Buttrick (Tilly, Jr.), Voyages, Travels, and Discoveries (Boston, 1831). Thwaites, Early Western Travels, viii.
Cobbett (William), A Year's Residence in the United States of America (London, 1818).
Cuming (Fortescue), Sketches of a Tour to the Western Country, through the States of Ohio and Kentucky (Pittsburg, 1810). Thwaites, Early Western Travels, iv.
Evans (Estwick), Pedestrious Tour of Four Thousand Miles, through the Western States and Territories (Concord, N. H., 1819). Thwaites, Early Western Travels, viii.
Faux (William), Memorable Days in America: being a Journal of a Tour to the United States, principally undertaken to ascertain, by positive evidence, the condition and probable prospects of British Emigrants; including accounts of Mr. Birkbeck's Settlement in the Illinois (London, 1823). Thwaites, Early Western Travels, xi-xii.
Fearon (Henry Bradshaw), Sketches of America. A Narrative of a Journey of five thousand miles through the Eastern and Western States of America (London, 1818).
Flint (James), Letters from America (Edinburgh, 1822). Thwaites, Early Western Travels, ix.
Flower (Richard), Letters from Lexington and the Illinois, containing a Brief Account of the English Settlement in the Latter Territory, and a Refutation of the misrepresentations of Mr. Cobbett
241(London, 1819). Thwaites, Early Western Travels, x.
Flower (Richard), Letters from the Illinois, 1820, 1821. Containing an Account of the English Settlement at Albion and its Vicinity, and a Refutation of Various Misrepresentations: Those more particularly of Mr. Cobbett (London, 1822). Thwaites, Early Western Travels, x.
Harris (Thaddeus M.), Journal of a Tour into the Territory Northwest of the Alleghany Mountains, made in the Spring of the Year 1803 (Boston, 1805). Thwaites, Early Western Travels, iii.
Harris (William Tell), Remarks made during a Tour through the United States of America during the Years 1817, 1818, and 1819 (London, 1821).
Hulme (Thomas), Journal made during a Tour in the Western Countries of America: September 30, 1818-August 7, 1819. Thwaites, Early Western Travels, x.
Melish (John), Travels in the United States of America in the Years 1806 & 1807 and 1809, 1810 & 1811 (Philadelphia, 1812). Two vols.
Michaux (Francois André), Voyage Å l'ouest des Monts Alléghanys, dans les Etats de l'Ohio, et du Kentucky, et du Tennessée, et retour a Charleston par les Hautes-Carolines (Paris, 1804). English edition (London, 1805). Thwaites, Early Western Travels, iii.
Nuttall (Thomas), Journal of Travels into the Arkansa
242Territory, during the Year 1819, with Occasional Observations on the Manners of the Aborigines (Philadelphia, 1821). Thwaites, Early Western Travels, xiii.
Ogden (George W.), Letters from the West, comprising a Tour through the Western Country, and a Residence of Two Summers in the States of Ohio and Kentucky (New Bedford, 1823). Thwaites, Early Western Travels, xix.
Welby (Adlard), Visit to North America and the English Settlements in Illinois, with a Winter Residence at Philadelphia (London, 1821). Thwaites, Early Western Travels, xii.
Woods (John), Two Years' Residence in the Settlement of the English Prairie, in the Illinois Country, United States (London, 1822). Thwaites, Early Western Travels, x.
John Melish, Travels in the United States of America in the Years 1806 & 1807, and 1809, 1810 & 1811 (Philadelphia, 1812). Melish was a Scotchman who visited the United States for the first time in 1806, in the pursuit of commercial interests. During the next six years most of his time was spent in this country. He tells us that prior to his first visit he read all the "Travels in America" that he could lay hold of, but found them uniformly unsatisfactory — in some cases because of the ignorance and superficiality of the authors, in others because the facts had been twisted or obscured with a view to promoting or discouraging emigration. Hence he resolved to utilize his opportunities for observation in the preparation of a full and unprejudiced description of the country and the various elements of its population. His earlier travels took him through New England, the Middle States, and much of the South; and in 1810-11, as the relations of Great Britain and the United States became more strained he came to the conclusion that there would be no profit in international trade for some time to come and that the lull could be best occupied by him with a tour through the West. Having carefully planned the places he desired to visit and the inquiries he desired to make as he went along, he set out from Baltimore June 3, 1811. It was late autumn before he returned to the East, and with him he carried a vast amount of information regarding Kentucky, Ohio, and other parts of the western country, which he proceeded to put in shape for publication. The result was the two volumes published the next year, embodying his observations on all sections of the United States — East, South, and West — which he had been able to visit. The value of Melish's writings is considerably greater than Fordham's remarks would lead one to suppose.
"Sawyers are likewise bodies of trees fixed less perpendicularly in the river, and rather of a less size, yielding to the pressure of the current, disappearing and appearing by turns above the water, similar to the motion of a saw-mill saw, from which they have taken their name.
"Wooden-Islands are places where by some cause or other large quantities of driftwood have, through time, been arrested and matted together in different parts of the river." Zadoc Cramer, The Ohio and Mississippi Navigator (Pittsburg, 1804), p. 11. This little book, which passed through twelve editions, was the standard guide of navigators for more than a quarter of a century. There is a description and synopsis of it in Archer B. Hulbert, Waterways of Westward Expansion (HISTORIC HIGHWAYS OF AMERICA, ix, pp. 73-99).
This word is pronounced in the back woods "saitelmeant." — FORDHAM.