THE author of the following sheets has no apology or excuse to offer for their publication, but sincerely good intentions, to which, however, he may justly lay claim; and an earnest desire of communicating, and transfusing throughout this the parent state of British America, a more general as well as a more particular knowledge of that extensive and extraordinary country, than seems to prevail at this interesting period, notwithstanding the great, though lately much to be lamented hostile intercourse between that vast continent and these kingdoms.
He candidly acknowledges a multitude of deficiencies, originating in want of abilities. They are written without ornament or elegance, perhaps in some respects not perfectly accurate, being composed under peculiarly disadvantageous circumstances: but although the subject, as well as the matter, be entirely new, yet he has strictly adhered to truth, which has been his invariable guide and director.
Having very lately arrived in England from America, where he had made many extensive journies, and fatiguing, perilous expeditions, prompted by unbounded curiosity, and an insatiable enthusiastic desire of knowledge, during a residence in that country for a considerable length of time, in which he had become perfectly reconciled and habituated to the manners, customs, dispositions, and sentiments of the inhabitants, he eagerly fought out, and pursued with a degree of avidity rarely felt, every treatise and publication relative to America, from the first discovery by the immortal Columbus,
3down to Carver's late Travels therein, and even the Pensilvania Farmer's Letters, by Mr. Hector St. John (if indeed such a person ever existed); but always had the extreme mortification to meet with disappointment in his expectations, every one grasping at, and enlarging on the greater objects, and not a single author descending to the minutiae, which compose as well the true perspective, as the real grand intercourse and commerce of life.
Actuated by these motives, he was induced to hazard this undertaking, wishing to supply that necessary share of inferior knowledge, which to him appeared to be wanting in Great Britain, the original seat of empire, from the deficiences already pointed out.
For a description of the formation of a single brick, of a vast multitude of which, artfully arranged, prodigious buildings and elegant palaces are constructed, to a person entirely unacquainted with such a thing, is as necessary, beneficial, and sometimes equally agreeable as the description of the edifice itself.
And the particular mode in forming the composition for making the finest china is more sought after, and certainly of no less value, than the most elegant, rich, and expensive set of porcelain of the best Dresden manufacture.
In one respect he solicits the indulgence of the public. As several matters related in the course of the following pages are perfectly novel, uncommon, and strange to an European reader, especially to a Briton, who may thereby be induced to decide against the veracity and probability of the whole, from the apparent incredibility, to him, of such singular phenomena, and in his opinion, marvelous, surprising relations; on these occasions, he entreats the man of candour only to suspend his censure and judgment, in such instances, either until he meets with some intelligent person in whom he can confide, and on whose decision he may rely, who has made a considerable residence in, and progress through that extraordinary country; or until he communicates
5his doubts and difficulties through the channel of the public, and balances in his mind the weight of the explanation and defence he may observe in reply, supported by such authority as may be adduced.
For however singular, wonderful, and astonishing some things herein may appear, yet the author solemnly declares he has been guided solely by nature and truth, which, during the course of his life, as well as in this relation, he has always endeavored to pursue, and to pay implicit obedience to their venerable dictates.
On this principle alone he has attempted to solve every difficulty that occurred to him in his travels; and such uncommon appearances, and strange phenomena, as to some have seemed not to be easily accounted for, he has always found more reconcilable to, and consistent with, the plain and simple chain of events, regularly proceeding from natural causes, than the imaginary splendid
6embellishments of fiction, however ingenious and elegant.
Should these Volumes be favorably received, and deemed to merit the notice and approbation of the public, he means to proceed with a brief account of the late war, in regular progression, from its commencement down to the present period. If otherwise, he conceives the publication of two volumes void of desert, is a sufficient obtrusion on the public, to whom, as well as to himself, it will be most agreeable, and more discreet, to cancel or suppress the remainder.
However, he trusts that a proper distinction will be made between his capacity and his good intentions, flattering himself, that what is wanting in the former may be supplied by the latter; and will endeavour to atone for his deficiences in abilities, by the strictest candour and impartiality.
On these grounds, therefore, he rests his expectations, and awaits the decision.
A Tour in the United States of America.
We came in sight of land, on the fourth day of August, in the forenoon, in a fine day, with a clear serene sky. It appeared at a distance like the tops of the trees just emerging above the horizon, on the surface of the water; and
8as the ship approached arose higher, but only the height of the pines, with which all the land on the sea board is covered; for the whole coast is very low, and soundings are found at a great distance from the shore, which gradually decrease as you advance nearer the land.
This regular decrease of the soundings, and the change of colour in the water, are the only preservatives of ships, in the night and hazy weather, from running on this dangerous, shallow, flat coast, without perceiving it until too late; for there is no light-house near the Capes of Virginia: a most laudable intention of erecting one on Cape Charles having been frustrated by a disagreement between the assemblies or parliaments of Virginia and Maryland, at whose joint expence it was to have been built and supported; and by the commencement of the late inauspicious hostilities in America.
We soon sailed within the Capes of Virginia, Cape Henry and Cape Charles, which last is an island named Smith's.
9We past Lynhaven Bay on our left, and the opening Chesapeak on the right, and in the evening anchored in Hampton Road, which appears to be very safe.
The distance between the Capes is about twelve miles, but the vast bay of Chesapeak widens after you enter, until it becomes about thirty miles over, near thirty-five English leagues within land; then the breadth decreases from thence to the head of it, and is generally from fifteen to five miles, which is the breadth of it at its extremity, where the Elk and the mighty river Susquahannah fall into it, at about three hundred miles distance from the sea, through the whole of which vast extent the tide ebbs and flows.
The night being calm we were assaulted by great numbers of musketoes, a very noxious fly, which seems to be of the species of gnats, but larger and more poisonous, leaving a hard tumor wherever they bite, with an intolerable and painful itching; they penetrate the skin, fill themselves with blood, and make their
10principal attacks in the night, accompanied by a small, shrill, disagreeable note, the very sound of which effectually prevents you from sleep, after you have been once bit.
On the day following, the captain of the ship, Mr. R———, and l went up Elizabeth River, in the yaul, to Norfolk, about twenty miles, where we dined very agreeably, and returned that evening to the ship in Hampton Road, so that l had not at this time an opportunity of seeing much of the town. However, it appears to be charmingly situated at the forks of a very pleasant river, the Elizabeth, on the north-east side, Mr. Sprowle's little village of Gosport being on the south, and the pretty town of Portsmouth on the south-west side, over against Norfolk, at the distance of about eight hundred yards, which is the breadth of the river there; with sufficient depth of water for a ship of the line.
Norfolk is a corporation, with a mayor, aldermen, &c. in a flourishing state of
11improvement, and increasing daily; it contains about seven thousand inhabitants, of all colours and denominations, of which perhaps more than two thousand are whites. But it was by no means in such a state of increase and improvement as the more inland towns, at or near the falls of the great rivers; these being the chief emporiums of trade and commerce for the large, populous, and extensive back country, west and south of them; and, having also all the advantages of navigation, intercept the inland trade from Norfolk, which renders it, though flourishing, yet only so in an inferior degree.
[Soon after the commencement of the late unhappy and ill-fated hostilities in America, the beautiful town of Norfolk fell a sacrifice to the mistaken fury and devastations of civil war; in an unfortunate measure of the British governor of Virginia, rendered excusable however, and even very justifiable, by the circumstances
12attending it; and the more imprudent, criminal, and even vindictive, savage depredations of a back-wood's mob of American soldiery, who seemed then to carry their unjust, barbarous, and ill-grounded resentments against all the low-country and sea-coast; having proposed even to spread desolation throughout the whole, merely because it was within reach and command of the British navy; and because the principles and conduct of the inhabitants were more temperate and liberal than theirs.
The American soldiery, chiefly then back-woods riflemen, taking every opportunity of firing from under the cover of the houses and wharfs, upon the troops, and loyalists who had been compelled to seek refuge on board the shipping then in the river, by this means picking off a few individuals every day, in this sneaking, cowardly manner; a message was sent them by his majesty's governor, the earl of Dunmore, who was then on board the fleet, requesting them
13to desist from such unjustifiable practices, otherwise he should be compelled to fire upon the town, perhaps to its destruction, though very reluctantly: but they persisting in their despicable unmilitary offences, he sent them orders to remove all the women and children out of the place by a limited time, when a cannonade would certainly be commenced upon the town; and the ships of war were drawn near, and prepared for that purpose. This being accordingly executed, and the enemy galling the troops from the warehouses on the wharfs, these were obliged to be set on fire to dislodge them, which was thus completely effected; but it was universally noticed, and particularly observed by every person, that almost at the same instant the flames broke out likewise in the back part of the town, farthest from the shipping; for the rebels had also set fire to it, in many different places themselves, by order of the provincial congress of Virginia, by which means the conflagration soon became general and tremendous, and in a short time entirely
14destroyed, and consumed to ashes this fine town, the first in Virginia in magnitude, opulence, and navigation.
The Americans not only burnt Norfolk, but the village of Gosport, and a great part of the beautiful little town of Portsmouth also, since that time; and, by an act of their legislature, granted compensation in money to such persons as were well affected to their cause for the value of their property thus destroyed.]
On the sixth, the ship weighed anchor, and proceeded up James River. As the weather was extremely hot, I preferred going up in her to a journey by land; which, from Norfolk to Richmond, at the falls of James River, is about an hundred and thirty miles.
After passing a great number of most charming situations on each side of this beautiful river, we came to anchor before James Town, now a paltry place, not by any means deserving even the name of a
15village, although once the metropolis of Virginia, and still possessing several privileges in consequence thereof, one of which is sending a member to the assembly, or parliament; who is now Champion Traverse, esq. the proprietor of the whole town, and almost all the land adjacent, and I believe there are no more voters than himself.
On the seventh, Mr. R——— and I, having been furnished with horses by Mr. Traverse, made an excursion to Williamsburg, which is but a few miles distant; perhaps eight or ten.
The roads are excellent, the face of the country is level, the soil rather sandy, but the whole land appears to be one continued immense forest, interspersed with openings where the trees have been cut down, and the ground is cultivated, of larger or less dimensions: these are called plantations, and are generally from one to four or five miles distant from each other, having a dwelling-house in the middle, with kitchens and out-houses all
16detached; at some little distance there are always large peach and apple orchards, &c.; and scattered over the plantations are the tobacco houses, large wooden edifices, for the cure of that grand staple produce.
We dined very agreeably at the Raleigh tavern, where we had exceeding good Madeira, and afterwards walked out to view the town, which is now the seat of government, and metropolis of Virginia.
Williamsburg is an inland town on the highest land about the middle between the rivers of York, on the north, and James, on the south, at the distance of seven miles from the nearest; and is healthy for the climate.
There is one handsome street in it, just a mile in length, where the view is terminated by a commanding object each way; the Capitol, an elegant public building, in which the assembly, or senate, and courts of judicature are held, at one end of the street; and the college of William and Mary, an old monastic structure, at the other end. About the middle between them, on the north side, a little distance retired from the street, stands the palace, the residence of the governor;
18a large, commodious, and handsome building.
[Since the commencement of the late hostilities in America, when the seat of war was in Virginia, about the time of, or soon after lord Cornwallis's surrender at York Town, the Americans converted the palace at Williamsburg into barracks for the accommodation of their troops; who, being by no means remarkable for cleanness or care, by some accident set it on fire, by which it was entirely destroyed; thus occasioned, as many imagine, by their neglect. It has also been alledged, that some loyalists, provoked at seeing it converted to such vile purposes, so very different from the original intention of the structure; and incensed in the highest degree at beholding the house of the representative of their sovereign thus polluted by the nastiness, filth, and depredations of the American soldiery, privately set fire to it in the night: and they
19are not few who believe that to this last cause it owed its ruin.]
All the public edifices are built of brick, but the generality of the houses are of wood, chiefly painted white, and are every one detached from each other; which, with the street deep with sand, (not being paved) makes a singular appearance to an European; and is very disagreeable to walk in, especially in summer, when the rays of the sun are intensely hot, and not a little increased by the reflection of the white sand, wherein every step is almost above the shoe, and where there is no shade or shelter to walk under, unless you carry an umbrella.
There is a whimsical circumstance attends Williamsburg; which is, a part of the town (that has been added to it since it was first built) having the streets laid out in the form of a W.
Williamsburg is also the county-town of James-city county; where the courts of common pleas are held monthly, as
20they are also in every county in the colony; which amount to sixty-eight in number. The quarter sessions are also held quarterly in each county. Besides these, there are two courts of oyer and terminer held annually at Williamsburg; and likewise two general courts in April and October, which receive and determine appeals from every county, and all the inferior courts, as well as try original causes for sums above twenty pounds.
These, as also the courts of chancery, courts of admiralty, and assemblies or parliaments, besides the college, occasion a great resort and concourse of people to Williamsburg; and are indeed the chief, if not the whole, support of the place: for her share of commerce is very inconsiderable, and she does not possess a single manufacture.
There are races at Williamsburg twice a year; that is, every spring and fall, or autumn. Adjoining to the town is a very excellent course, for either two, three or four mile heats. Their purses are
21generally raised by subscription, and are gained by the horse that wins two four-mile heats out of three; they amount to an hundred pounds each for the first day's running, and fifty pounds each every day after; the races commonly continuing for a week. There are also matches and sweepstakes very often, for considerable sums. Besides these at Williamsburg, there are races established annually, almost at every town and considerable place in Virginia; and frequent matches, on which large sums of money depend; the inhabitants, almost to a man, being quite devoted to the diversion of horse-racing.
Very capital horses are started here, such as would make no despicable figure at Newmarket; nor is their speed, bottom, or blood inferior to their appearance; the gentlemen of Virginia sparing no pains, trouble, or expence in importing the best stock, and improving the excellence of the breed by proper and judicious crossing.
Indeed nothing can be more elegant and beautiful than the horses bred here, either for the turf, the field, the road, or the coach; and they have always fine long, full, flowing tails; but their carriage horses seldom are possessed of that weight and power, which distinguish those of the same kind in England.
Their stock is from old Cade, old Crab, old Partner, Regulus, Babraham, Bosphorus, Devonshire Childers, the Cullen Arabian, the Cumberland Arabian, &c. in England; and a horse from Arabia, named the Bellsize, which was imported into America, and is now in existence.
In the southern part of the colony, and in North Carolina, they are much attached to quarter-racing, which is always a match between two horses, to run one quarter of a mile straight out; being merely an excursion of speed; and they have a breed that perform it with astonishing velocity, beating every other, for that distance, with great ease; but they have no bottom. However, I am confident
23that there is not a horse in England, nor perhaps the whole world, that can excel them in rapid speed: and these likewise make excellent saddle horses for the road.
The Virginians, of all ranks and denominations, are excessively fond of horses, and especially those of the race breed. The gentlemen of fortune expend great sums on their studs, generally keeping handsome carriages, and several elegant sets of horses, as well as others for the race and road: even the most indigent person has his saddle-horse, which he rides to every place, and on every occasion; for in this country nobody walks on foot the smallest distance, except when hunting: indeed a man will frequently go five miles to catch a horse, to ride only one mile upon afterwards. In short, their horses are their pleasure, and their pride.
In the evening, Mr. R——— and I were unfortunately separated, occasioned by a very ridiculous and singular accident; the effect of which had like to have been tragical enough to him. Just when we were ready to return to the ship, by some mistake, wrong horses were brought to the door; and not observing it, we mounted them: these horses being very spirited, and Mr. R——, having bid adieu to the gentlemen with whom we dined, suddenly clapped both his spurs in his horse's sides, inadvertently, with great force; the horse instantly reared up, and sprung forwards, leaving poor R—— upon the ground, at the door, flat on his back, with his skull almost fractured. By this means the mistake in the change of our horses was discovered and rectified; but Mr. R—— was so much hurt, that
25he was obliged to be blooded, and carried into the Raleigh again, where I left him; and was thereby reduced to the necessity of returning alone to the ship.
On the ninth of August the ship got under weigh, and proceeded up the river, passing the delightful situations of Sandy-Point, Cabin-Point, Brandon, Flower de Hundred, Maycox, &c. on the south side; and Swine-Yards, belonging to Mr. Cole, Colonel Byrd's beautiful seat of Westover, Colonel Harrison's of Barclay, &c. on the north side: we anchored opposite to City-Point, at the confluence of the Appamatox River and the James, and about an hundred and thirty miles within land, from the capes of Virginia.
Here the second mate was carried on shore to the house of a Mrs. Brown, having been for a considerable time languishing, and in great pain, occasioned by a violent contusion he received by a fall on the deck from the main-yard arm, reefing the main-sail in a gale of wind; and soon after he ended his days there.
As the ship was not to go much farther up, and was to receive great part of her cargo at this place, I hired a boat and four negroes, for one dollar and a half per day (about six shillings and nine-pence sterling); and on the tenth I left the ship moored, and proceeded up the river in the boat; proposing to land at every place whose beauty of perspective, or singular appearance of any kind, might strike the attention, or excite my curiosity.
I had almost omitted to mention an unfortunate accident that happened at this place, before I left the ship. A young sailor, having killed and cut up a fine large sturgeon, that had leaped out of the water and fallen into the boat, along side of the ship, which happens frequently here; bringing in the last piece himself, in his hand, his foot slipped off the gunwale of the boat, between which and the ship he fell into the river, and was never seen or heard of more.
The principal situations that commanded my notice and admiration, were
27Shirley Hundred, a seat of Charles Carter, esq. at present in occupation of Mr. Bowler Cock: this is indeed a charming place; the buildings are of brick, large, convenient, and expensive, but now falling to decay; they were erected at a great charge, by Mr. Carter's father, who was secretary of the colony, and this was his favourite seat of residence. The present proprietor has a most opulent fortune, and possesses such a variety of seats, in situations so exceedingly delightful, that he overlooks this sweet one of Shirley, and suffers it to fall to ruin, although the buildings must have cost an immense sum in constructing; and would certainly be expensive to keep in repair, which expence, however, must be greatly increased by this neglect.
Varina, the seat of Ryland Randolph, esq. a most lovely and delightful spot: an elegant building, but unfinished, occasioned by the owner's versatility of taste, and perpetual alterations.
Chatsworth, the seat of William Randolph, esq. whose father was surveyor-general of the southern district of North-America, &c, is a very good house, with an agreeable perspective.
A Mr. Mayho's; a very pretty place also. ——— All on the north side of the James.
On the south side are the beautiful little towns of Bermuda Hundred, Osborn's, and Warwick: and a seat belonging to a Mr. Gary, a lovely situation, who has also erected some extremely valuable mills, iron-works, &c. of equal emolument and importance to himself and the community. They are situated near the town of Warwick, about five miles below Richmond, and the falls of James-River.
[These valuable mills and iron works have been set fire to, and entirely destroyed, during the late unhappy war, in 1781, in an expedition under the
29command of Brigadier General Arnold.]
I slept on board the boat; and on the eleventh, in the forenoon, landed at the town of Shokoes, at the falls of James-River, and immediately discharged the boat.
I then waited on Mr. ———, a merchant, at that place, on whom I had been furnished with letters of credit, &c. He was at home, and received me with kindness, attention, and friendship. He offered me apartments in his house, which I accepted, and he seemed studious to serve and amuse me.
At this place the whole appearance of the country undergoes a total change. From the sea to the falls, about one hundred and fifty-five miles, there is not a hill to be seen; scarcely an eminence, being one continued flat level, without even a single stone to be found; nothing but sand and shells on the shores, and the land consists of loam, sand, and clay, but universally covered with woods.
Here a ledge of rocks interrupts the whole stream of the river, for the length of seven miles; during the course of which, that vast current of water rushes down, raging with impetuosity, tumbling and dashing from rock to rock, with an astonishing roar, that is heard for many miles distance. The land suddenly swells into hills of a great height, and abounds
31with prodigious rocks, and large stones, as well as trees.
On the summits of those hills, most of which over-look, and many of them over-hang the falling torrent of the James, handsome houses are built, which command a wild, grand, and most elegant perspective.
The James, here, is about half a mile wide; the tide flows up to the very rocks of the falls, which continue to interrupt the current for the length of seven miles above. There are several islands in the river among the falls, which are chiefly covered with wood and rocks; but are of small extent: the tide reaches the lower end of one of these islands, which is serviseable in checking the violence of the torrent of the water in the falls, and thereby favours the passage of the ferry boats below.
There are three towns at this place. Richmond, the largest, is below the falls, and is separated only by a creek, named Shokoes, from the town of Shokoes, which
32joins the lower end of the falls; these are both on the north side of the river: on the south side stands the town of Chesterfield, best known by the name of Rocky-Ridge, from its situation.
Vessels of small burthen come up to the rocks of the falls, and large ships come within two miles of them to load.
At James town, the river is between two and three miles wide; and just above it is always fresh water: the breadth decreases gradually to the falls.
During my residence at Richmond, I made several little excursions around in the adjacent country, on visits to several gentlemen, who honoured me with invitations. Among those, from whom I received particular attention and civilities, were Thomas Mann Randolph, of Tuckahoe, esq. R. Good, of Chesterfield, esq. Mr. Cary, &c.
I also rode as far as Westham, a small town on the James, seven miles above Richmond, just where the falls commence. Tobacco, the grand staple
33of Virginia, is navigated down the river from the back country to Westham, in hogsheads of a thousand weight each, ready for exportation, every hogshead upon two canoes lashed together; then it is brought by land-carriage to Shokoes, or Richmond, as the falls totally intercept and preclude all communication by water for their continuance of seven miles.
In floods, an immense body of water comes down the James, which swells to a great height and astonishing wideness, overflowing all the low ground for many miles; but at the falls, where the mountains arise abruptly on each side, and confine the river within more narrow bounds, the noise, violence, and impetuosity of the torrent, is not to be described. It is dreadfully tremendous and awful.
It seems that once, when the river was in such a state, a man, who was bringing down his tobacco to market, instead of landing at Westham, being quite intoxicated with spirituous liquor, was carried down the torrent; and, amazing to think
34on! arrived safe at Shokoes warehouse-wharf below, with his tobacco; having been brought to the shore, after he had got over all the falls, by boats sent out from thence to his assistance, by those, who with astonishment and horror, observed him in his dreadful rapid descent and passage over them. When he was brought to the shore, he was still in a state of insensibility and stupefaction, occasioned by inebriation and terror.
This is indeed one of the most extraordinary accidents that has occurred, or perhaps was ever heard of; but I have no reason to doubt the fact, as it was related to me, and vouched for, by several persons of credit and veracity, who were eye-witnesses of this singular event.
The customs and manner of living of most of the white inhabitants here, I must confess, did not a little surprise me; being inactive, languid, and enervating to the last degree.
Indeed the whole appearance of the country, and face of nature, is strikingly novel and charming to an European, especially to a Briton.
The air, the sky, the water, the land, and the inhabitants, being two-thirds blacks, are objects entirely different from all that he had been accustomed to see before. The sky clear and serene, very seldom over-cast, or any haze to be observed in the atmosphere; the rains falling in torrents, and the clouds immediately dispersing. Frequent dreadful thunder
36in loud contending peals; thunder gusts happening often daily, and always within every two or three days, at this season of the year. Eruscations and flashes of lightning, constantly succeeding each other, in quick and rapid trausitions. The air dry, and intensely hot in the summer, cold and piercing in the winter, and always keen and penetrating. During the night, thousands of lights, like bright burning candles, being large winged infects, called fire-flies, gliding through the air in every direction; frequently vanishing, and perpetually succeeded by new ones. The rivers, large expances of water, of enormous extent, and spreading under the eye as far as it can comprize; nature here being on such a scale, that what are called great rivers in Europe, are here considered only as inconsiderable creeks or rivulets. The land, an immense forest, extended on a flat plain, almost without bounds; or arising into abrupt ascents, and at length swelling into stupendous mountains, interspersed with
37rocks and precipices, yet covered with venerable trees, hoary with age, and torn with tempests. The mountains suddenly broken through, and severed by mighty rivers, raging in torrents at the bottom of the tremendous chasm, or gliding in awful majestic silence along the deep vallies between them. The agriculture on the plantations is different from every thing in Europe; being either tobacco, three feet high, with the plants a yard apart; or Indian corn, at the distance of six feet between each stalk, in regular streight rows, or avenues, frequently twelve or fifteen feet in height.
While the mind is filled with astonishment, and novel objects, all the senses are gratified.
The flowery shrubs which over-spread the land, regale the smell with odoriferous perfumes: and fruits of exquisite relish and flavour, delight the taste, and afford a most grateful refreshment.
The prodigious multitude of green frogs, reptiles, and large insects, on the
38trees, as well as the bull-frogs in the swamps, ponds, and places of water, during the spring, summer, and fall, make an incessant noise and clamour; the bull-frogs, in particular, emitting a most tremendous roar, louder than the bellowing of a bull, from the similarity of whose voice they obtained their name; but their note is harsh, sonorous, and abrupt, frequently appearing to pronounce articulate sounds, in striking resemblance to the following words, Hogshead tobacco, Knee deep. Ancle deep. Deeper and deeper. Piankitank, and many others; but all equally grating and dissonant. They surprise a man exceedingly, as he will hear their hoarse, loud, bellowing clamor just by him, and sometimes all around him, yet he cannot discover from whence it proceeds; they being all covered in water, and just raising their mouth only a little above the surface when they roar out, then instantly draw it under again. They are of the size of a man's foot.
Nor can you perceive the animals from whence the sounds in the trees proceed, they being most effectually hid among the leaves and branches. So that at first this absolutely appears to be a country of enchantments.
As I observed before, at least two-thirds of the inhabitants are negroes, whose difference of features and colour, and rank offensive smell, are extremely disagreeable and disgustful to Europeans: but, poor creatures! they are all humility and submission; and it is the greatest pleasure of their lives, when they can please the whites.
You cannot understand all of them, as great numbers, being Africans, are incapable of acquiring our language, and at best but very imperfectly, if at all; many of the others also speak a mixed dialect between the Guinea and English.
It is fortunate for humanity, that these poor creatures possess such a fund of contentment and resignation in their
40minds; for they indeed seem to be the happiest inhabitants in America, notwithstanding the hardness of their fare, the severity of their labour, and the unkindness, ignominy, and often barbarity of their treatment.
To give an idea of the manner in which a white man spends his time in this country, a description is necessary of each degree in life.
The gentleman of fortune rises about nine o'clock; he perhaps may make an excursion to walk as far as his stables to see his horses, which is seldom more than fifty yards from his house; he returns to breakfast, between nine and ten, which is generally tea or coffee, bread and butter, and very thin slices of venison-ham, or hung beef. He then lies down on a pallat, on the floor, in the coolest room in the house, in his shirt and trousers only, with a negro at his head, and another at his feet, to fan him, and keep off the flies; between twelve and one he takes a draught of bombo, or toddy, a liquor composed of water, sugar, rum,
42and nutmeg, which is made weak, and kept cool: he dines between two and three, and at every table, whatever else there may be, a ham and greens or cabbage, is always a standing dish; at dinner he drinks cyder, toddy, punch, port, claret, and madeira, which is generally excellent here: having drank some few glasses of wine after dinner, he returns to his pallat, with his two blacks to fan him, and continues to drink toddy, or sangaree, all the afternoon: he does not always drink tea; between nine and ten in the evening, he eats a light supper of milk and fruit, or wine, sugar, and fruit, &c. and almost immediately retires to bed, for the night; in which, if it be not furnished with musketoe curtains, he is generally so molested with the heat, and harrassed and tormented with those pernicious insects the musketoes, that he receives very little refreshment from sleep.
This is his general way of living in his family, when he has no company.
43No doubt many differ from it, some in one respect, some in another; but more follow it than do not.
The lower, and many of the middling classes, live very differently. A man in this line rises in the morning about six o'clock; he then drinks a julap, made of rum, water, and sugar, but very strong; then he walks, or more generally rides, round his plantation, views all his stock, and all his crop, breakfasts about ten o'clock, on cold turkey, cold meat, fried homminy, toast and cyder, ham, bread and butter, tea, coffee, or chocolate, which last, however, is seldom tasted but by the women; the rest of the day he spends much in the same manner before described in a man of the first rank, only cyder supplies the place of wine at dinner, and he eats no supper; they never even think of it. The women very seldom drink tea in the afternoon; the men never.
The poor negro slaves alone work hard, and fare still harder. It is astonishing,
44and unaccountable to conceive what an amazing degree of fatigue these poor, but happy, wretches do undergo, and can support. He is called up in the morning at day break, and is seldom allowed time enough to swallow three mouthfuls of homminy, or hoe-cake, but is driven out immediately to the field to hard labour; at which he continues, without intermission, until noon; and it is observed, as a singular circumstance, that they always carry out a piece of fire with them, and kindle one just by their work, let the weather be ever so hot and sultry. About noon is the time he eats his dinner, and he is seldom allowed an hour for that purpose. His meal consists of homminy and salt, and, if his master be a man of humanity, he has a little fat, skimmed milk, rusty bacon, or salt herring to relish his homminy, or hoe-cake, which kind masters allow their slaves twice a week: but the number of those, it is much to be lamented, are very few; for the poor slave generally fares
45the worse for his master's riches, which consisting of land and negroes, their numbers increase their hardships, and diminish their value to the proprietor, the expence precluding an extension of indulgence and liberality.
They then return to severe labour, which continues in the field until dusk in the evening, when they repair to the tobacco-houses, where each has his task in stripping allotted him, that employs him for some hours. If it be found, next morning, that he has neglected, slighted, or not performed his labour, he is tied up, and receives a number of lashes, on his bare back, most severely inflicted, at the discretion of those unfeeling sons of barbarity, the overseers, who are permitted to exercise an unlimited dominion over them.
It is late at night before he returns to his second scanty meal, and even the time taken up at it, encroaches upon his hours of sleep, which, altogether, do never
46exceed eight in number, for eating and repose.
But instead of retiring to rest, as might naturally be concluded he would be glad to do, he generally sets out from home, and walks six or seven miles in the night, be the weather ever so sultry, to a negroe dance, in which he performs with astonishing agility, and the most vigorous exertions, keeping time and cadence, most exactly, with the music of a banjor (a large hollow instrument with three strings), and a quaqua (somewhat resembling a drum), until he exhausts himself, and scarcely has time, or strength, to return home before the hour he is called forth to toil next morning.
When he sleeps, his comforts are equally miserable and limited; for he lies on a bench, or on the ground, with only an old scanty single blanket, and not always even that, to serve both for his bed and his covering. Nor is his cloathing less niggardly and wretched, being nothing but a shirt and trousers, made of
47coarse thin hard hempen stuff in the summer, with the addition of a sordid woollen jacket, breeches, and shoes, in the winter.
The female slaves fare, labour, and repose, just in the same manner; even when they breed, which is generally every two or three years, they seldom lose more than a week's work thereby, either in the delivery, or suckling the child.
In submission to injury and insults, they are likewise obliged to be entirely passive, nor dare any of them resist, or even defend himself against the whites, if they should attack him without the smallest provocation; for the law directs a negroe's arm to be struck off, who raises it against a white person, should it be only in his own defence, against the most wanton and wicked barbarity and outrage.
Yet notwithstanding this degrading situation, and rigid severity to which fate has subjected this wretched race, they are
48certainly devoid of care, and actually appear jovial, contented, and happy. Fortunate it is indeed for them, that they are blessed with this easy, satisfied disposition of mind, else human nature, unequal to the weight, must sink under the pressure of such complicated misery and wretchedness.
Having had occasion more than once to mention homminy, hoe-cake, &c, it may not be improper at this time to observe, that homminy is an American dish, made of Indian corn, freed from the husks, boiled whole, along with a small proportion of a large kind of French beans, until it becomes almost a pulp: it is in general use, and to my taste, very agreeable. Hoe-cake is Indian corn, ground into meal, kneaded into dough, and baked on a hot, broad, iron hoe. This is also in common use, and to my palate, extremely harsh and unpleasant.
The houses here are almost all of wood, covered with the same; the roof with shingles, the sides and ends with thin boards, and not always lathed and plaistered within; only those of the better sort are finished in that manner, and painted on the outside. The chimneys are sometimes of brick, but more commonly of wood, coated on the inside with clay. The windows of the best sort have glass in them; the rest have none, and only wooden shutters.
There is no distinction here between inns, taverns, ordinaries, and public-houses; they are all in one, and are known by the appellation of taverns, public-houses, or ordinaries, which, in the general acceptance of the names here, are synonymous terms. They are all
50very indifferent indeed, compared with the inns in England: and three-fourths of them are in reality little better than mere shelters from the weather; yet the worst of them is by no means deficient in charging high.
When a person arrives at Richmond, his ears are continually assailed with the prodigious noise and roaring of the falls, which almost stuns him, and prevents him from sleeping for several nights, it being a considerable time before he becomes habituated to it.
My principal amusement was walking: I took great delight in wandering alone among the rocks and solitary romantic situations, around the falls. In these excursions I always carried a book in my pocket, and when I came to any place that commanded my attention, either from the wildness and grandeur of the perspective, or from the observation of the raging torrent below, after admiring the beauties of the scene, I would frequently lie down in the shade, and
51amuse myself with reading, until I insensibly dropt asleep. This was my daily recreation, which I never neglected.
But I was once extremely surprised at beholding, as soon as I opened my eyes, a prodigious large snake, within a few feet of me, basking himself in the sun. He was jet black, with a copper-coloured belly, very fine sparkling eyes, and at least seven feet long. However he did me no injury; for I did not disturb him, nor did he molest me; but as soon as he heard the rustling of the leaves, on my moving, he went off with great precipitation and speed.
Another time, whilst I was reading in a very solitary retired place among the rocks and trees, on hearing some little noise near me, I looked around, and just had the glimpse of a very strange and singular animal, such as I had never seen even any resemblance of before. It appeared to me more like a fiddle with feet, than any thing else that I know; the fight I had of it was just as it was
52running behind a rock. I sought there, and every where for it immediately, to no purpose, for I could not discover even a trace thereof remaining.
When I returned, I mentioned what I had seen; but no one, from my description, could inform me what animal it was
However, nothing is more common here than the black snake. He is very bold and daring; yet, to the human race, entirely harmless and inoffensive; nor is his bite poisonous, and is as readily cured as the scratch of a briar: notwithstanding which, it is said, and I believe with truth, that he is master of all other snakes; even the rattle-snake submits to him. This superiority arises from the strength and power of his muscles, for he insinuates himself in spiral wreaths around his antagonist, and then contracting, by that means conquers or kills him. His prey, for food, he swallows whole.
It is confidently reported, and universally credited, that they devour squirrels, and that they have been found with squirrels whole in their bellies. I myself have seen them swallow frogs of a very large size. After the frog is almost wholly in, if you strike the snake, he will instantly disgorge it, and the frog will leap away.
The black snakes are particularly serviceable in destroying rats and mice, which they seek after very eagerly, and devour for food: for this purpose, they are even more useful than cats, because, by their slender form and peculiar make, they are enabled to pursue these vermin into their lurking holes and hiding places, which they generally do, and thereby at once destroy the whole progeny.
But the Americans, one and all, have such an aversion and antipathy to the very appearance of the whole species, that notwithstanding this kind of serpents are absolutely harmless, and indeed extremely serviceable for the purposes just
54mentioned, yet they are as eager to kill and destroy them, as the most noxious, virulent, and deleterious of the species, the rattle, moccasson, and horn-snakes.
I have heard many strange relations of the power of snakes, in charming birds, and drawing them down out of the air, to devour them, by a certain fascination in their eyes. To these tales I formerly gave no credit; but I have now had conviction of their truth, by frequent ocular demonstration.
I have observed a little bird, fluttering in the air, within a small compass, gradually descending until it came down on a bush, then hopping from spray to spray, every time lower, constantly sending forth a tremulous, doleful note, expressive of dread and surprise, until at length it would drop into the jaws of a snake on the ground, that was gaping open ready to devour it.
On such occasions, I always struck the snake, and the instant he moved, the
55bird became liberated from his fascination, flying away with the greatest alertness, and would chirp, and soar over my head in the air, for some little distance, as if grateful for its deliverance from so formidable an enemy. This very extraordinary circumstance I have taken particular notice of several different times.
Squirrels of many various kinds abound prodigiously, but the grey fox-squirrels are the most plenty, and most common: you may see them any where in the woods, and at any time, jumping from tree to tree, and making most astonishing leaps, often fifteen, twenty, and sometimes thirty feet, from one branch to another. These are the largest, but the flying-squirrel, though much smaller, jumps twice as far; and indeed he takes such prodigious vaults, that he seems to fly, and appears to have wings, but they are only an expansion of some loose skin on each side of him, which affords him some little support in the air, and breaks
56his fall when he misses his hold, which, indeed is very seldom.
The most beautiful of the whole species is the ground squirrel, which is small, and most delicately striped with contrasts of darker and lighter shades.
The most commanding and excellent situations about Richmond are, the seat of a Mr. Adams, on the summit of the hill which over-looks the town; and Belvidera, an elegant villa belonging to the late colonel William Bird, of Westover, who formerly possessed a princely fortune in America, and was almost the sole proprietor of all the land adjoining the falls, for many miles, even above Westham.
Just below the falls there are very lucrative fisheries, on each side of the river; as there are many more on the James in different places, that yield great profit to the owners.
On the south side are most valuable mills and iron-works, which are worked
58by means of a canal, cut from the adjoining falls of the James.
The low grounds on the James are extremely rich and fertile, producing vast quantities of Indian-corn, wheat, and tobacco. The soil is of a dark redish colour, and one foot and a half deep pure loam.
The high land is of an inferior quality, yet sufficiently fertile to produce good crops of tobacco, wheat, and Indian corn; some of it is of a redish colour, mixed with clay, which is the best; and the worst is of a light brown, intermixed with sand.
The low grounds yield an increase in wheat of twenty-five, thirty, and sometimes thirty-five bushels, from one of seed: the high land from eight to fifteen for one. This is generally the produce of one acre. Much about the same quantity of Indian corn is produced from an acre, according to the quality and excellence of the soil, though it does not
59require more than a peck of seed to plant it. The produce of an acre, in the culture of tobacco, in the best land, is about sixteen hundred and sixty pounds weight: on the worst, about five hundred pounds weight. An acre always contains nearly twelve hundred and fifty hills of Indian-corn, with two, three, and sometimes, in strong land, four stalks in each hill; or about five thousand plants of tobacco.
Above the falls, the high land becomes again tolerably level, and is equal in height to the summit of the first hills.
The towns of Richmond and Shokoes are in Henrico county; and Chesterfield, or Rocky Bridge, is in the county of Chesterfield.
On the twenty-eighth of August, I set out on a journey to the southward, and as there is no such thing as post-chaises to be obtained in all America to hire, and not having furnished myself with horses at Richmond, because I was informed that I could purchase them much better and cheaper at Petersburg, which was about
60twenty-five miles distant, and directly in my way, I rode a horse of Mr. ——'s, who pressed me to make use of him.
I was fortunate in the company of a Mr. Buchanan, who was also going as far as Petersburg. We crossed the James in the ferry-boat, early in the morning, rode through the towns of Rocky-bridge, and Warwick, which is about five miles from it.
We halted at a town named Osborn's, eight miles farther on, to bait our horses, after passing Chesterfield county courthouse, and a church, or chapel, at this little town. Here we dined, and in the afternoon, mounting our horses, we arrived at Blandford, having crossed the Appamattox river, on a lofty wooden bridge, at the town of Pokahuntas.
Here we put up at Boyd's, which is the best house of public entertainment in the place.
I shall never forget the prodigious and incessant noise and clamour that continually assailed my ears, during the whole of this
61day's ride, proceeding from the green-frogs, and a multitude of other large insects on the trees, and the bull-frogs in the swamps and places of water, on both sides of the road. I was perpetually questioning Mr. Buchanan if they were not birds; and was astonished that I could not possibly discover one of them: but the noise of the bull-frogs was absolutely tremendous.
Here, at the falls of the river Appamattox, are three towns, viz. Blandford, Petersburg, and Pokahuntas.
Over the river, just below the falls, there is a large wooden bridge, at the town of Pokahuntas which stands on the north side of the river named after the daughter of the famed Indian emperor, or chief, Powhattan (which is also the Indian appellation of the river James), who gave all the land around this place, as a portion in marriage, with his daughter Pokahuntas, to an ancestor of the present Randolph and Boiling families, from which ancient royal blood, a branch
62of the Randolphs, and the whole of the Bollings (two of the most respectable houses in Virginia), are actually descended.
On the south side of the river is the town of Petersburg, situated under a hill, amongst rocks, and is extremely unhealthy.
A little distance, perhaps half a mile below, on the south side also of the Appamattox, stands the charming pretty town of Blandford, in a beautiful plain, on the river brink, on a very pleasant and delightful spot.
The town of Pokahuntas is in Chesterfield county Petersburg is in the county of Dinwiddie, in the lower corner; and Blandford stands in the upper end of Prince George's county; but neither of them is a county-town.
The principal tobacco trade in America centers at Petersburg, or Bolling's Point, which it is generally called, from the name of a family (a branch of whose origin I have just related), to which the
63greater part of the town and adjoining lands belong.
It is something remarkable, that no child born at this place ever grew up to maturity, excepting the present proprietor, Mr. Bolling, whose seat over-looks Petersburg and the adjacent country and river; which is occasioned by the insalubrity of the air, and the extreme unhealthiness of the situation.
There are also some valuable mills in the vicinity of this place, erected by Mr. Bannister, a very public spirited man, who resides in an elegant house near Petersburg, which are carried on by means of a canal, cut from the neighbouring falls of the Appamattox.
The Appamattox is a small river, much about the size of the Thames, and runs into the James at City Point, about twelve miles, in a direct line, below Blandford. Sailing vessels, sloops, schooners, and flats, or lighters, come up to the bridge at the falls; but ships of burden take in their cargoes five and eight miles below.
In Blandford I found an excellent ordinary at Boyd's, and a tolerably agreeable mixed company of ladies and gentlemen. Amongst the rest, were a couple of old gentlemen, one of whom was a major in the army, with gay young wives, who did not seem altogether at ease, nor, in all probability, had they every reason to be so: however, they afforded us diversion and entertainment enough to observe their various manoeuvres on both sides, or rather on all sides; for each of the four appeared to be a commander in chief, and to have different pursuits and objects in view.
The Virginians are generous, extremely hospitable, and possess very liberal sentiments.
There is a greater distinction supported between the different classes of life here, than perhaps in any of the rest of the colonies; nor does that spirit of equality, and leveling principle, which pervades the greatest part of America, prevail to such an extent in Virginia.
However, there appears to be but three degrees of rank amongst all the inhabitants, exclusive of the negroes.
The first consists of gentlemen of the best families and fortunes in the colony, who are here much more respectable and numerous than in any other province in America. These in general have had a liberal education, possess enlightened
66understandings, and a thorough knowledge of the world, that furnishes them with an ease and freedom of manners and conversation, highly to their advantage in exterior, which no vicissitude of fortune or place can divest them of; they being actually, according to my ideas, the most agreeable and best companions, friends, and neighbours, that need be desired.
The greater number of them keep their carriages, and have handsome services of plate; but they all, without exception, have studs, as well as sets of elegant and beautiful horses.
Those of the second degree in rank are very numerous, being perhaps half the inhabitants, and consist of such a variety, singularity, and mixture of characters, that the exact general criterion and leading feature can scarcely be ascertained.
However, they are generous, friendly, and hospitable in the extreme; but mixed with such an appearance of rudeness, ferocity, and haughtiness, which is in fact only a want of polish, occasioned by
67their deficiencies in education, and in knowledge of mankind, as well as by their general intercourse with slaves, over whom they are accustomed to exercise an harsh, and absolute command.
Many of them possess fortunes superior to some of the first rank, but their families are not so ancient, nor respectable; a circumstance here held in some estimation.
They are all excessively attached to every species of sport, gaming, and dissipation, particularly horse-racing, and that most barbarous of all diversions, that peculiar species of cruelty, cock-fighting.
In short, take them all together, they form a strange combination of incongruous contradictory qualities, and principles directly opposite; the best and the worst, the most valuable and the most worthless, elegant accomplishments and savage brutality, being in many of them most unaccountably blended.
Yet indeed, notwithstanding this apparent inconsistency of character, principle,
68and conduct, numbers of them are truly valuable members of society, and few, or none, deficient in the excellencies of the intellectual faculties, and a natural genius, which, though in a great measure unimproved, is generally bright and splendid in an uncommon degree.
The third, or lower class of the people (who ever compose the bulk of mankind), are in Virginia more few in number, in proportion to the rest of the inhabitants, than perhaps in any other country in the universe. Even these are kind, hospitable, and generous; yet illiberal, noisy, and rude.
They are much addicted to inebriety, and averse to labor.
They are likewise over-burdened with an impertinent and insuperable curiosity, that renders them peculiarly disagreeable and troublesome to strangers: yet these undesirable qualities they possess by no means in an equal degree with the generality of the inhabitants of New England, whose religion and government
69have encouraged, and indeed instituted and established, a kind of inquisition, of forward impertinence and prying intrusion, against every person that may be compelled to pass through that troublesome, illiberal country: from which description, however, there are no doubt many exceptions.
To communicate an idea of the general hospitality that prevails in Virginia, and indeed through all the southern provinces, it may not be improper to represent some peculiar customs that are universal; for instance:
If a traveller, even a negroe, observes an orchard full of fine fruit, either apples or peaches, in, or near his way, he alights, without ceremony, and fills his pockets, or even a bag, if he has one, without asking permission; and if the proprietor should see him, he is not in the least offended, but makes him perfectly welcome, and assists him in choosing out the finest fruit.
But this is less to be admired at, when it is considered that there is no sale here for any kind of fruit, and the finest peaches imaginable are so abundant, that the inhabitants daily feed their hogs with them during the season.
In the time of pressing cyder, if a traveller should call, to enquire his way, he is generally offered as much fine cyder as he can drink, is frequently requested to stay all night, and made heartily drunk in the bargain, if he chooses it.
When a person of more genteel figure than common calls at an ordinary (the name of their inns), for refreshment and lodging for a night, as soon as any of the gentlemen of fortune in the neighbourhood hears of it, he either comes for him himself, or sends him a polite and pressing invitation to his house, where he meets with entertainment and accommodation, infinitely superior, in every respect, to what he could have received at the inn. If he should happen to be fatigued with travelling, he is treated in
71the most hospitable and genteel manner; and his servants and horses also fare plenteously, for as long a time as he chooses to stay. All this is done with the best grace imaginable, without even a hint being thrown out of a curiosity or wish to know his name.
However, it must be acknowledged, that many of the second, and almost all the lower class of the people, are ignorant in the extreme.
Their sentiments, and all their ideas are illiberal, narrow, and contracted; occasioned by their inactive situation, confined to a small compass, and very limited sphere of knowledge, wherein the same objects are ever presented to their view, without any variation, change, or novelty, being thereby precluded from a more general intercourse with the world, and the different members of society at large.
About the commencement of the late unfortunate disturbances, and inauspicious hostilities, the American congress
72pretended to have a calculation made of the numbers of all the inhabitants in each province and colony included within their domination, which they published.
But I have always concluded that ostensible enumeration of theirs to be greatly exaggerated, purposely to magnify their resources, numbers, and prowess.
In that ostentatious calculation, Virginia was represented to contain six hundred and fifty thousand inhabitants; of which near two-thirds are blacks.
I computed the true number of souls in Virginia to be then about five hundred thousand in the whole, with a similar proportion of slaves included; and they have certainly decreased in population since that time.
I purchased two horses at Petersburg; for the best I gave fifteen pounds, the worst cost me twenty-five pounds; and a negro boy, whose price was forty pounds.
I began to prepare for my journey southward, having had the honour to visit, by invitation, several of the principal families in and near this place, among whom were Mr. Buchanan's, Mr. Bolling's, Mr. Bannister's, Mr. Eppes's, Mr. Bland's, &c.
I took my departure from Blandford, on the fourth of September, in company with a young lad from North Carolina, then on his return.
After having rode about fifteen miles we stopped to bait our horses, and dine, at
74Hattan's ordinary, where the fare was ordinary indeed, and very indifferent.
The day being extremely hot and sultry, it was rather late in the afternoon before we set out again on our journey, and by that means I was prevented from reaching Stewart's ordinary, the house I intended to put up at that night; for being taken very ill, and as it was growing dark, I was obliged to take shelter in a shell of a house, wherein an overseer lived, and five or six negroes besides.
The young man from Carolina left me here, and continued on his journey,
My accommodation at this wretched place was miserable indeed, and it was fortunate for me, that I found myself better in the morning, or I might have been in actual danger of perishing for want of common necessaries, if my sickness had detained me therein.
If my situation, but for one night, was so intolerable, what must his be, whose constant residence it was?
It is indeed hardly to be conceived in what an uncomfortable state that poor forlorn young man, the overseer, then lived.
There might be about fifty acres of land cleared of woods, and chiefly under culture for Indian corn.
There was not another house nor hut upon the plantation, nor a single fruit-tree.
That miserable shell, a poor apology for a house, consisted but of one small room, which served for the accommodation of the overseer and six negroes: it was not lathed nor plaistered, neither ceiled nor lofted above, and only very thin boards for its covering; it had a door in each side, and one window, but no glass in it; it had not even a brick chimney, and, as it stood on blocks about a foot above upon the ground, the hogs lay constantly under the floor, which made it swarm with fleas; water was near half a mile distant, and that very bad; there was not a neighbour
76within five miles on one side, and eight miles on the other; no book, no convenience, no furniture, no comfort in the house, unless you call by that name a miserable thin chaff bed, somewhat raised from the floor, in a corner of the room, which alternately served him for his chair, his table, and his couch.
In this wretched habitation I had little sleep, and no refreshment, although the poor young man permitted me to lie on his bed alone, and did not come there himself, but lay on the floor with the negroes; for they were shelling Indian-corn with their hands all the former part of the night, when their songs kept me awake; and the disagreeable idea of such a parcel of nasty black devils, all snoring in the same room with me, with the assistance of the musketoes, prevented me from sleep until day-break, when I arose, and having gratified the poor inhabitants of this mansion of misery with a trifle, I mounted my horse, and pursued my journey.
This morning I crossed over a pretty river named Nottoway, at Swede's-bridge which is constructed of timber. There is some very good land on this river, both low grounds and high; it is what is called mulattoe land by the planters, from its colour.
This river is here about as large as the Thames at Kew, but is much incumbered with wood and fallen trees, brought down by the floods.
I arrived at Stewart's ordinary to breakfast, which was toasted Indian hoe-cake, and very excellent cyder, after a ride this morning of about eleven miles.
Being always particularly careful of my horses, and they having fared very indifferently the night before, I ordered the hostler to give them plenty of meat. The man stared at me, and asked me if they would eat it? Being somewhat irritated at his seeming impertinence, and out of humour by fatigue, indisposition, and want of rest, I answered, that I desired he would make the experiment, and
78immediately, turning away from him, went into the house.
In a few minutes, on looking out at the window, I was much surprised to find all the people of the place in the road before the door; and going out to enquire into the cause of their assembling there, I met the hostler and my boy, with each a large piece of bacon in his hand, telling me the horses would not eat a morsel of it.
They acquainted me, that it was to see the horses eat meat, by which they understood bacon, that excited the people curiosity, and had drawn them forth into the road. I laughed heartily, and directed the hostler, since the poor silly horses could not be prevailed on to taste his bacon, to give them whatever else they would choose to eat, and as much of it as they pleased.
By the bye, it was a great inconvenience, and extremely troublesome, that my boy, being an African, was of very little service to me; for he scarcely understood
79a single word that I said to him, nor did I know one syllable of his language.
This ridiculous affair induced one Andrew T——, who pretended to be a humourist, to make me an offer of the honour of his company, as he was then on his way to Halifax town, in North Carolina, where he resided. His exterior being to my taste peculiarly forbidding, I declined his proposal, having no inclination to such an acquaintance. But in this I was egregiously mistaken, and altogether disappointed: Mr. T——— was not to be repulsed with such facility: he was determined to amuse himself at my expence, and at my ignorance of the customs of his country, and I was almost compelled to suffer his company, for I certainly did not accept it, but endeavoured my utmost to avoid that honour.
I told him, that as it threatened rain, I would not risque getting wet, but intended to stay some time, the length of
80which, however, might be uncertain. Well, so would Mr. T——.
When I found this, I determined to set out in the rain, which had now come on; and actually did so to avoid his company; but Mr. T—— would accommodate himself to every change of my mind, and he departed along with me.
When I rode fast, so did he; when slow, he went slow also: at length I turned short from him, along a path on the right, but my stupid servant continued to accompany Mr. T——; this obliged me to return, and gallop very fast to overtake him, as he had thereby got some miles before me.
But descending a declivity too rapidly, and without caution, the road being on clay very wet and slippery, my horse fell down with me in three-parts speed, by which I was excessively dirted, as well as hurt.
Having remounted, and rode on again, I cut a most wretched figure, being
81daubed from head to foot with red clay, besides the farther injuries I had received from contusions by the fall.
In this ridiculous plight I overtook them: Mr. T—— fell a laughing fit to burst his sides, which act of rudeness and ill manners I did not seem to notice, but was much incensed at my stupid black, yet could not make him understand my expressions of resentment. This greatly increased Mr. T——'s diversion, and ill-timed noisy mirth.
In this disagreeable condition, and uncourtly guise, we crossed a considerable stream of water, named the Three Creeks, on three wooden bridges; and a considerable river named Maherrin, larger than the Thames, at Hicks's bridge which is remarkably lofty, and built of timber, as all in the southern part of America appear to be; having passed a fine plantation, the seat of Mr. Willis, a man of fortune, and proprietor of the original stock of extraordinary swift horses, for
82which this part of America is noted, that vanquish all others in quarter-racing.
About thirty miles higher up, on the side of this river, near one Ingram's plantation, there have been lately discovered some very valuable medicinal springs of mineral waters, which have already performed many most remarkable and astonishing cures on persons afflicted with various kinds of lameness, infirmity, and disease, who annually resort to these springs, from an hundred and fifty miles around.
We took some refreshment at Edwards's ordinary, an exceeding good building, with excellent accommodations, lately erected at this place, which is exactly twenty-eight miles north from Halifax, in North Carolina, and forty-seven south from Petersburg in Virginia.
We rested but a very short time here, and, although it continued to rain fast, proceeded on our journey.
At the distance of ten miles from Hicks's bridge and ford, we entered the province of North Carolina, and three
83miles farther on, crossed a large stream of water named Fountain's creek, fifteen miles north of Halifax town, which we reached that night, after crossing the river Roanoak, in a flat ferry boat, on the south bank of which the town is built.
Towards the conclusion of this day's ride, I had the satisfaction of retorting the laugh on Mr. T—— very handsomely, for his horse tumbled down, and fairly rolled him in the mire, all over, three times most completely.
He was in such a ridiculous condition and lamentable plight, being besides a most unwieldy, uncouth figure, that you could scarcely discover whether the creature was human or not; nor would it have been possible for the most rigid Cynic to refrain from immoderate laughter, at beholding his rueful countenance, and wretched guise.
This was a most unpleasant journey; bad accommodation, bad roads, bad company and attendance, and, in short, every thing disagreeable in the extreme.
Halifax is a pretty town on the south side of the Roanoak (a river larger, or at least containing more water than the James), about eight miles below the first falls, and near fifty miles higher up than the tide flows; but sloops, schooners, and flats, or lighters, of great burden, come up to this town against the stream, which is deep and gentle.
Halifax enjoys a tolerable share of commerce in tobacco, pork, butter, flour, and some tar, turpentine, skins, furs, and cotton.
There are many handsome buildings in Halifax and its vicinity, but they are almost all constructed of timber, and painted white; among them are Mr. Mountfort's, Mr. Abner Nash's, Mr. Martin's (now an ordinary, or inn, built by, and
85formerly the residence of a Mr. Elmsley, an eminent practitioner in the law), Mr. Long's, Mr. Eaton's, and Mr. Jones's; the last is in Occoneachy-neck, an extreme rich, and valuable tract of land, about two miles from town, and is indeed an elegant seat.
Halifax is twenty-five miles due south from Petersburg, and one hundred from Richmond, is the capital of a district, and the county-town of Halifax county.
In and around the town the soil is sandy; the banks of the river on the south side are high, but low on the north, and very subject to inundations, so remarkably, that the ferry-house, a wooden building, which stands on that side, is obliged to be fastened with ropes, tied to the trees, to prevent it from being washed away by the floods.
The quantity of water that comes down the Roanoak, on such occasions, is indeed amazing and enormous; trees, fences, corn, tobacco, horses, cattle, and even
86houses, are all swept away by the torrent, and carried down with the stream.
There is a singular phenomenon attends this river, which is, that during days, or seasons of rain, it does not rise any thing, or but very little beyond the common magnitude; but two or three days after the rain has ceased, when the sky and sun are again become bright and fine, and the bad weather is forgotten, then, and not before, the Roanoak begins to swell, and increases with such rapidity and violence, that the inhabitants have scarcely time to drive their cattle, horses, sheep, hogs, &c. off from the low-grounds up to the high, before the whole are overflowed; and without this precaution all their live stock would be swept away and destroyed, which frequently happens, notwithstanding every exertion and care.
There is another peculiarity attends this river; that is, the low grounds are generally higher, next the river side, than where they adjoin the high-land; thus,
87by means of guts, communicating from the river to the back part of the low-grounds, which is most commonly a miry swamp with causeways over it, the water of the floods is soon brought there, by which the retreat of every living creature is cut off in a very short time after the waters begin to encrease, and consequently all included within must inevitably perish, should the inundation overspread the whole.
However, the floods seldom cover every spot, there being some particular places in the low grounds considerably higher than the rest, which, on such occasions, are crowded with the poor terrified animals: but once every two or three years the Roanoak swells several feet above the highest of those places.
The Roanoak, or as it is sometimes called, the Morattuck, is above a quarter of a mile over at Halifax, but very deep, and is much wider many miles above. It empties itself into Albemarle Sound, at Edinton, where it is seven miles wide,
88and receives on the north side, the Chowan-River, or Sound; which is formed by the confluence of the three rivers, Maherrin, Nottoway, and Blackwater, and is something more than two miles in breadth.
The communication with the sea, from this enormous body of water, is through Roanoak inlet, where there is a bar, fluctuating banks, and shifting quicksands, that prevent ships of burden from entering this extensive bay.
I put up at Martin's, the best house of public entertainment in Halifax.
Here I disposed of my black boy, who was in fact totally useless to me; but I gained ten pounds by my bargain.
From this place I made many excursions around it, and had the honour of visiting, by invitation, every family of note, for a considerable distance in the vicinity.
Being one of a party that was to pass some days on a jaunt in the country, I proposed calling to take a view of the
89falls of Roanoak. We were accompanied by Charles Eaton, esq. and Mr. W. Park, whose seats are in the neighbourhood of these falls.
There was nothing remarkable to be observed in them, only a prodigious body of water, dashing and tumbling over rocks: but to those who have seen the falls of the James, these are no object.
There is a very extraordinary circumstance, however, attends these falls every spring, about the eighth of May; it is called the rock fight. This is occasioned by such amazing numbers of those fishes, here called Bass-Rocks, coming up to the falls at the same time to spawn, that a dog thrown into the river then, would not be able to swim across, nor could live in it one quarter of an hour: you may actually see them crowded thick upon each other, even to the surface of the water.
This singular phenomenon continues for three days, but on one of these days, in
90particular, the agitation of the water is most violent, the whole river being in a foam.
There are many valuable fisheries at, and in the vicinity of Halifax, below the falls, on each side of the river.
During this excursion we called at Mount Pleasant, the seat of ——— Dawson, esq. on the banks of the Roanoak, about eighteen miles above Halifax, and in returning stayed some days at the seats of Mr. Eaton, and Mr. Park.
About a mile out of Halifax town is a creek named Quankey (the Indian appellation for red paint, with which it abounds), with an exceeding lofty bridge thrown over it, built of timber, on the south side of which is the seat of a Mr. Nicholas Long, where we frequently walked out in the mornings and evenings to drink cow's milk, which was there excellent.
About five or six miles farther on, in the same direction, is a considerable settlement, upon a pretty large water-course, named
91the Marsh, where we several times went, on invitation from Alexander M'Colloch, esq. a gentleman of considerable note, and Archibald Hamilton, esq.
We visited Willie Jones, esq. doctor Cathcart's, William Williams, esq. &c. among many other gentlemen's seats, and met with a most courteous and friendly reception from all.
The low grounds of Roanoak are extremely rich and fertile, but in general too light and sandy for the culture of wheat, which here grows much too luxuriant and high, whereby it falls and lodges before the ears fill and ripen.
The soil is a fine black loam, for several feet deep, and is indeed inexhaustible, but extremely subject to inundations, which sweep away whole inclosures, as well as the crops, and often leave the land covered with wrecks of the flood, and incumbered with vast quantities of large trees, brought down by the torrent.
The low-grounds are generally from a quarter to a mile wide; and it is observable, for the whole length of the Roanoak, that the low-grounds are
93always on one side of the river only, never on both together, but still promiscuously: thus, when the low grounds are on the north side, there are high lands on the south; and where the low grounds are on the south side, the land on the north side is high, almost flush to the brink of the river. It is remarkable also, that wherever the high lands join the river, they are rich and fertile, but where they join the low grounds only, they are of a very inferior quality.
The timber is of an immense bulk on the low grounds, and consists of white and yellow poplars, black wallnut, hornbeam, red bud, sweet gum, dog wood, sycamores, oaks, ash, beech, elm, &c. On the rich high land, it consists of hickory, sassafrass, oaks, &c. and on the inferior high land, of lofty pines, of a great height, mixed with scrubby oaks, black-gum, and maple.
In this part of America there are seven different species of oak, viz. black-oak,
94white-oak, red-oak, Spanish-oak, willow-oak, live-oak, and scrubby oak.
The appearance and colour of the soil in the best high lands, is dark brown, with a slight tinge of red, and covered with tall timber. That of the worst is whitish-brown, either very sandy and light, or stiff, wet, and livery, with low, crooked timber, excepting the pines, which generally grow large, tall, and straight every where, unless they are crowded together. But the worst timber, on the worst land, makes a better appearance, and is larger than the trees in St. James's and Hyde-parks.
The general mode of clearing the land in this country, where timber is of no value, and labour is of great, is by cutting a circle round the tree, through the bark, quite to the wood, before the sap rises, which kills it; and they cultivate the ground below immediately, leaving the trees to rot standing, which happens within a very few years, and they never bear leaves more.
A large field in this situation, makes a most singular, striking, and tremendous appearance: it would seem indeed dangerous to walk in it, as the trees are of a prodigious height and magnitude; vast limbs, and branches of enormous size impending in awful ruins, from a great height, sometimes breaking off, and frequently whole trees falling to the ground, with a horrible crash, the sound of which is increased and protracted by the reverberation of the surrounding echoes. Yet, notwithstanding this apparent danger, very few accidents ever happen from it. I never heard of any excepting to beasts.
When the timber is cut down, or falls, they saw the smaller trees in pieces, and heap them up together in huge piles, and in many different places, where they set fire to them in the winter, at which time the whole country around appears in a blaze; and the atmosphere is then extremely incommoded, and totally pervaded with smoak.
For very frequently the large, dry, and almost rotten standing timber, catches fire, and blazes with great fury: the fire is also communicated to the leaves on the ground, in the surrounding woods, which are there accumulated to a great depth, by falling from the trees to the earth, where they have been encreasing, stratum super stratum, from the most remote period of time; being very dry and combustible, they instantly catch fire like tinder; the conflagration quickly spreads many miles on every side, and at length becomes general and dreadfully tremendous; for there is no possibility of extinguishing, or restraining the violence and velocity of the devouring flames, which destroy and consume fences, inclosures, timber, and all vegetation; driving even the wild beasts before them in flocks; and their progress, at length, is only terminated by some large river, or by heavy rains.
This has induced the legislature to endeavour to guard against such alarming accidents, by passing acts to prevent setting fire to the woods, &c. notwithstanding which, these terrible conflagrations are still frequent every year.
The inhabitants of this part of America may be comprehended in a very few classes.
All in the country, without exception, are planters, store-keepers or persons in trade, and hunters: these last are chiefly confined to the back country and frontiers next the Indians.
In the towns there are some few mechanics, surgeons, lawyers, storekeepers or persons in the commercial line, and tavern-keepers.
However, the generality of the towns are so inconsiderable, that in England they would scarcely acquire the appellation of villages.
The different distinct branches of manufacturers, such as hosiers, haberdashers,
99clothiers, linen-drapers, grocers, stationers, &c. are not known here; they are all comprehended in the single name and occupation of merchant, or storekeeper.
What are called shops in England, are known here by the appellation of stores, and supply the inhabitants with every individual article necessary in life, such as linens, woollens, silks, paper, books, iron, cutlery, hats, stockings, shoes, wines, spirits, sugars, &c. and even jewelry; for which in return they receive tobacco, skins, furs, cotton, butter, flour, &c. in considerable quantities at a time, being obliged to give a year's credit.
By this it appears, that there is but little specie in circulation; indeed there is no great occasion for it; for a planter raises his own meats, beef, and bacon, his own corn and bread, his drink, cyder, and brandy, his fruit, apples, peaches, &c. and great part of his cloathing, which is cotton.
He has no market to repair to but the nearest store; which chiefly supplies him with finery, besides the useful and necessary articles for agriculture, and what little clothing his slaves require, for which he pays his crop of tobacco, or whatever else may be his staple produce, and is always twelve months in arrear.
I made an excursion to a little town, named Tarburg: it is not half so large as Halifax, being a very insignificant place indeed.
I was entertained by a Mr. Hall, the night I remained in this place, and returned to Halifax next day.
Tarburg is about forty miles due south from Halifax, and has not been built many years.
The chief produce around this place is tar, Indian corn, and hogs.
There is a large wooden bridge over Tar-river, at this town, which is very high and wide, yet several as good have been carried away by the floods.
I made another peregrination, which on account of the singularity of the adventures therein, I shall relate.
It was to Chowan-sound.
I set out from Halifax, and rode along down the south side of the Roanoak, as far as Pulham's ferry (about fifteen miles below the town), where I crossed the river, and that evening reached Matthew Brickle's ordinary.
Here I found tolerable accommodations, but had to defend myself against the formidable attacks of a new-light itinerant preacher, who had perverted this family, as well as most of the inhabitants in the vicinity; and after exhausting all the fire of his artillery, cant, and pretended inspiration, upon me in vain, he very gravely and formally concluded, and pronounced with great solemnity, that I was an obstinate unbeliever, and that my hour of receiving light and divine grace was not yet arrived.
Having rode thirty-six miles that day, I set out next morning, and proceeded
103through the dreary pines, which compose almost all the woods that grow down this way; and about twelve o'clock, following a path that led me out of my road, I got entirely bewildered and loft.
Being extremely fatigued, hungry, and dry, I called at several miserable hovels, at the distances of five or six miles asunder, but could neither obtain directions on my way, or any kind of refreshment; even the water was so very ill tasted, and insalubrious, that it could scarcely be drank.
I rode on in this miserable dilemma and precarious situation, among these ignorant wretches, until night approached, when they all refused to permit me to lodge under their shelters: "Wondering (as they said) where I came from,or why I should come there, where nobody comes; but (telling me) if I could get to Mr. Tyers's, about seven miles off, I might get quarters; for he often had strange, outlandish folks to lodge at his house; and was a rich
104man, and had a mill, and a blacksmith's shop, and a still."
These people are the most wretchedly ignorant of any I ever met with. They could not tell me the name of the place, county, or parish they resided in, nor any other place in the adjacent country; neither could they furnish me with any directions, by which I might again discover and ascertain the right way.
Their appearance also is equally sordid and mean, being of a sallow complexion and yellowish hue, almost as tawney as mulattoes, with the smoak of the lightwood (the roots and knots of pine, so named here), which is their whole fuel, clothed in cotton rags, that had been once dyed of some colour, and all enveloped in dirt and nastiness.
With much persuasion, I procured one of these lumps of mortality to accompany me as a guide to this Mr. Tyers's, where, after much difficulty, and no small hazard in passing over several deep and
105miry swamps, I at length arrived, a little after dark.
Here I obtained ample compensation for the churlishness of those ignorant creatures whom I had been among, by the hearty welcome, and kind hospitable entertainment I received from Mr. Tyers, who appears to be a little monarch in this domain, being the only magistrate in this place for thirty miles around, and, I had almost pronounced, the only intelligent being.
His house was the seat of plenty and plainness, mirth and good-humour, and genuine hospitality without ostentation; but entirely out of the way from all public roads.
Here I found a large table loaded with fat roasted turkies, geese, and ducks, boiled fowls, large hams, hung-beef, barbicued pig, &c. enough for five-and twenty men.
Mr. Tyers told me, that it was but seldom he was favoured with the company of any strangers; but when he was
106so fortunate, it always afforded him great pleasure to entertain them, because he was sensible that they could obtain no refreshment any where near him, and for that reason, he had given directions to the inhabitants for twenty miles around him, to send all strangers to his house.
Mr. Tyers, with a benevolence and grace that would do honour to any station, mounted his horse, next morning, to accompany me for the day; both to shew me the way, and the country.
We arrived at a ferry on Chowan-river, or sound (named Cotton's): it is three miles over; we crossed it, and rode along upon a wooden causeway, through a marsh, which is here called a poccoson, growing thick with tall reeds, near three miles over.
Down this way I also observed great numbers of cypress trees, tall, straight, and lofty, in many of the swamps and low grounds: besides multitudes of
107singular excressences, named cypress knees, which make a very odd appearance, arising in the form of knees, out of the most miry places.
We then returned, and reached my old sanctified landlord Matthew Brickle's, that night, where Mr. Tyers stayed also; and in the morning we parted: he returning to his house, the mansion of benevolence and virtue; and I to Halifax, heartily tired, and sick of my excursion.
I cannot omit observing a singular and very disagreeable sight I noticed in passing Chowan-river: it was numbers of large serpents, lying upon logs and fallen trees in the river, basking themselves in the sun.
It seems this marsh, morass, or poccoson, as such places are named here, abounds with these noxious disgustful creatures.
Most of them were of the kind called moccosson snakes, as large as the rattle-snake, but thicker, shorter, and destitute of rattles, which renders them
108more dangerous, as by this means they bite without previous warning, which the rattle-snake never does, and their bite is equally poisonous and fatal; some say more so.
They are beautifully speckled, just in the same manner as the rattle-snake, though they appear duller, the colours of each being the same, but those of the moccossons not so bright; for the similitude between them is so very strong, that these are generally reckoned the female rattle snakes, by the more ignorant inhabitants.
Although the bite of both these snakes have always proved certain death, yet it is surprising to observe, that the inhabitants are under very slender apprehensions from them: indeed they seem to dread them no more than any other serpent.
However, all the Americans appear to have a particular antipathy to the whole species.
It has but very lately been discovered, that there is a remedy of efficacy for the
109bite of those snakes, and an antidote against their poison.
This is equal quantities of the juice of horehound and plantain, administered internally, largely and frequently, and poultices of the bruised plants applied to the wound.
It was a poor negroe slave that first discovered this valuable sovereign remedy; and the assembly, or parliament of North-Carolina, rewarded him with his freedom, and two hundred pounds for divulging it. A laudable example to governments, and an instance of their superior humanity; which will for ever reflect upon them the highest honour.
Notwithstanding this plain and simple remedy may be readily obtained, and easily administered by the most ignorant, as both horehound and plantain grow spontaneously near almost every house, and in most places where the land has been cleared of woods; yet the knowledge of this great benefit to be derived from them has extended but very little, occasioned
110by the small intercourse, and very limited communication there is in general between the thinly and distantly scattered inhabitants of this wide-spread country: so that from this ignorance, the bite of these noxious and deadly serpents continue still to prove almost as fatal as ever.
About the beginning of November I departed from Halifax, where with great satisfaction I had enjoyed a very agreeable society, on my route to Hillsborough, which is just one hundred and twenty-two miles distant.
I called at Edmundson's ordinary to bait my horse, and to breakfast; which is about ten or eleven miles from Halifax.
At this house I saw the largest and strongest woman, perhaps, in the world: she was six feet two inches and a half in height, well built in proportion, strong, robust, and muscular as a man of the same stature. She possessed a boldness and spirit inferior to no man; and there was no bully, bruiser, wrestler, or any person that excelled in athletic power and
112agility, for fifty miles around, that she had not complimented with a fair and complete drubbing; in short, she was a perfect virago, of great courage and astonishing strength and ill nature.
I submitted to some small imposition in her charge, rather than enter the lists with her in dispute, and run the risque of experiencing her prowess; for indeed this is only a contribution she constantly levies or exacts upon all that frequent this house, of which she is master as well as mistress, her insignificant husband being an absolute cypher.
Having received an invitation to spend some days with Thomas Eaton, esq. at his seat on the banks of the Roanoak, twenty-eight miles above Halifax, I arrived there to dinner.
It is pleasantly situated on the south side of the river, which is one half wider here than at Halifax.
There is a very public ferry at this place, belonging to Mr. Eaton, and of great emolument to him.
The low grounds are more extensive here than any where else on the Roanoak.
Mr. Eaton possesses a very fine estate: this plantation alone is worth at least three thousand pounds, containing about fifteen hundred acres; yet his father purchased the whole for thirty pounds. With such astonishing rapidity has the value of landed property increased in this province.
During the few days that I remained; at Mr. Eaton's, we made many pleasant excursions in the vicinity, on visits to every person of any note.
In a little emigration to Osborn Jefferies's, esq. on the banks of Tar-River, my horse falling lame, obliged us to call and make some stay at an ordinary, inn, or tavern, at Bute county court-house, kept by one Jethroe Sumner, where we found an excellent dinner as well as an agreeable facetious host.
[This inn-keeper has distinguished himself in the course of the late war, being
114the general Sumner, of the American army, who has been so active in the Carolinas.
He is a man of a person lusty, and rather handsome, with an easy and genteel address: his marriage with a young woman of a good family, with whom he received a handsome fortune; his being a captain of provincials last war; but above all his violent principles, and keeping an inn at the court-house (which is scarcely thought a mean occupation here), singular as the latter circumstance may appear, contributed more to his appointment and promotion in the American army, than any other merit.
For it is a fact, that more than one third of their general officers have been inn-keepers, and have been chiefly indebted to that circumstance for such rank.
Because by that public, but inferior station, their principles and persons became more generally known; and by
115the mixture and variety of company they conversed with, in the way of their business, their ideas and their ambitious views were more excited and extended than the generality of the honest and respectable planters, who remained in peace at their homes.]
There is an extreme valuable body of rich high land that extends five miles around Bute county court-house: this whole tract is strong and fertile in an uncommon degree. There is scarcely a pine-tree to be found within that distance, although the surrounding woods on every side, are very much mixed with them.
Having been favoured with a kind and pressing invitation to visit Robert Alexander, esq. I left Mr. Eaton's, and called upon him, from whom I also received every attention and civility.
Mr. Alexander accompanied me to view a remarkable place in the Roanoak, named the Horse-ford; the only one where horses can cross the river, in that
116manner, for a vast distance: it is fifteen, miles above Eaton's ferry, and at this place the river is more than half a mile wide: it is fordable only during one month in the driest season of the year, and even then it is extremely hazardous and difficult; the water being never less than four feet deep, and the current very rapid.
The land on each side of the river at this place is broken and hilly, besides being very sterile and poor in quality. The weather here, at this season of the year, is really charming, neither too cold, nor much incommoded with heat; the air and sky being always clear, bright, and serene, and thunder and storms much less frequent.
I forgot to mention, that while I was at Mr. Eaton's, one morning having arose very early, standing at the door, I observed a single small black cloud, and not another, of any kind, to be seen in the hemisphere, the sky being a pure bright azure: that instant, all on a sudden,
117there came the most violent and tremendous thunder-clap that ever I remember to have heard; the lightning struck Mr. Eaton's kitchen, split down the chimney, performed a multitude of fantastic freaks of electricity, and killed two negroe men, but did no hurt to two infants, then in their arms.
This was accounted the more extraordinary, as there was only that single explosion: and in the most violent thunder storms, when peals succeed each other, in loud contention, for a considerable duration of time, any accident happening therefrom is seldom ever heard of; only large, lofty trees in the woods are frequently split in shivers, from top to bottom, and set on fire by the lightning on such occasions.
Both Mr. Alexander and Mr. Eaton possess excellent plantations, rich, fertile, and very valuable: they are both great and eminent planters, and value themselves highly upon their skill, their industry, and their superior crops.
At Mr. Eaton's I saw the largest turnip that I can recollect ever to have heard of: it was four feet eight inches in circumference, but was of the flat spungy kind, and not at all thick in proportion. This turnip was not cultivated alone, but grew in a large field unmanured, promiscuously with many thousands more, numbers of which were perhaps as large as this, for I measured it myself in the field.
I shall here relate a trifling, or rather diverting circumstance that may be interesting to some, by evincing the great simplicity of the blacks.
Having taken with me a negroe named Richmond, from a plantation here, which I had just purchased and settled, to carry me over the Roanoak in a canoe, that I might contemplate on and enjoy an elegant, wild perspective, from the summit of a considerable eminence that arose abruptly on a peninsula, almost surrounded by the river, I ordered him to meet me with the canoe at the opposite side of the peninsula.
When I arrived there, at the time appointed, there was no canoe, and no negroe: I called out for Richmond, as loud as I could vociferate, but had no answer.
It was about the middle of the day, which happened to be uncommonly hot and sultry; I was much indisposed and reduced very weak with an intermittent fever.
After waiting until the heat of the weather and the fever had almost overcome me, I resolved to walk down, along the side of the river, until I should meet or find him; as I apprehended he might be asleep, which all negroes are extremely addicted to: but in this attempt I found the utmost difficulty, from the almost insuperable impediments of trees fallen, and impending over the water, deep miry soil and leaves that sunk to my knees every step, impenetrable briars and underwood, black muddy gutts from the river, which compelled me to make circuits of half a mile to get round each of them, and innumerable swarms of
120musketoes, ticks, poisonous insects, and snakes.
Every quarter of a mile I loudly called him, but received no answer. Frequently quite overpowered with weakness and fatigue, I sunk down to rest, and as often, for mere self-preservation and defence, was compelled to arise again to insupportable toil. At length night overtook me, with my cloaths torn, my flesh lacerated and bleeding with briars and thorns, flung all over by poisonous insects, suffocated with thirst and heat, and fainting under fatigue, imbecility, and disease.
In this wretched miserable condition, I at length arrived at the place where I had landed in the morning, having travelled about five miles in seven hours, through a perpetual thicket of almost impenetrable woods.
Here I found Richmond, fast asleep in the canoe, exactly in the same spot where I had left him in the morning.
Being incensed in the highest degree, I threatened him with severe punishment,
121when he begged me to listen to his excuse, ‘Kay massa (says he), you just leave me, me sit here, great fish jump up into de canoe; here he be, massa, fine fish, massa; me den very grad; den me sit very still, until another great fish jump into de canoe; but me fall asleep, massa, and no wake till you come: now, massa, me know me deserve flogging, cause if great fish did jump into de canoe, he see me asleep, den he jump out again, and I no catch him; so, massa, me willing now take good flogging ’.
My pain and vexation were for a moment forgotten, and I laughed heartily at the poor fellow's ignorance, and extreme simplicity, in waiting there for more fishes to jump into his canoe, because one had happened to do so; and therefore forgave his crime.
When I left Mr. Alexander's, I proceeded up the river side to Taylor's ferry, which is the most frequented of any on Roanoak, and is situated on the great road leading from the most populous parts of the Carolinas, to the richest and most thick settled division of Virginia.
I then struck out on my left hand, into a very fine settlement called Nutbush, from a creek of that name, which runs through it; and it is a large body of excellent land.
I put up at the house of a Mr. Penn, a man of some property, to whom I had been furnished with letters of recommendation and civility.
From this gentleman I received the politest attentions, and we entered on a
123very serious and private conversation on political subjects, wherein he fully opened his mind, and disclosed his sentiments on that head with the most undisguised confidence, freedom, and candour.
[The above Mr. Penn was afterwards a delegate to Congress from the state of North Carolina; and a few days subsequent to their declaration of independence, while I was a prisoner among the Americans, having, an opportunity of conversing with him, and finding his political principles so totally different from what they appeared to me to be before, I gave him a hint thereof, which calling back his recollection to our former confidential conversation, perfectly silenced him, so that he actually was incapable of making any farther reply.]
Here I also called at one Williams's, a lawyer, who is said to be, and is very much like a mulattoe.
At this house I happened to fall in company, and have a great deal of conversation with one of the most singular and extraordinary persons and excentric geniuses in America, and perhaps in the world.
His name is Nathaniel Henderson; his father is still alive, a poor man, whose residence is in the settlement of Nutbush, where he was at this time on a visit.
This son was grown up to maturity before he had been taught to read or write, and he acquired those rudiments of education, and arithmetic also, by his own indefatigable industry.
He then obtained the inferior office of constable; from that was promoted to the office of under-sheriff; after this he procured a license to plead as a lawyer, in the inferior or county courts, and soon after in the superior, or highest courts of judicature.
Even there, where oratory and eloquence is as brilliant and powerful as in Westminster-hall, he soon became distinguished
125and eminent, and his superior genius shone forth with great splendor, and universal applause.
He was, at the same time, a man of pleasure, gay, facetious, and pliant; nor did his amazing talents, and general praise, create him a single enemy.
In short, while yet a very young man, he was promoted from the bar to the bench, and appointed Associate Chief Judge of the province of North Carolina, with a salary adequate to the dignity.
Even in this elevated station, his reputation and renown continued to increase.
But having made several large purchases, and having fallen into a train of expence that his circumstances and finances could not support, his extensive genius struck out on a bolder tract to fortune and fame, than any one had ever attempted before him.
Under pretence of viewing some back lands, he privately went out to the Cherokee nation of Indians, and, for an insignificant consideration (only ten
126waggons loaded with cheap goods, such as coarse woollens, trinkets, some fire-arms, and spirituous liquors), made a purchase from the chiefs of the nation, of a vast tract of territory, equal in extent to a kingdom; and in the excellence of climate and soil, extent of its rivers, and beautiful elegance of situations, inferior to none in the universe. A domain of no less than one hundred miles square, situated on the back or interior part of Virginia, and of North and South Carolina; comprehending the rivers Kentucky, Cherokee, and Ohio, besides a variety of inferior rivulets, delightful and charming as imagination can conceive.
This transaction he kept a profound secret, until such time as he obtained the final ratification of the whole nation in form. Then he immediately invited settlers from all the provinces, offering them land on the most advantageous terms, and proposing to them likewise, to form a legislature and government of their own; such as might be most
127convenient to their particular circumstances of settlement. And he instantly vacated his seat on the bench.
Mr. Henderson by this means established a new colony, numerous and respectable, of which he himself was actually proprietor as well as governor, and indeed legislator also; having framed a code of laws, particularly adapted to their singular situation, and local circumstances.
In vain did the different governors fulminate their proclamations of outlawry against him and his people: in vain did they offer rewards for apprehending him, and forbid every person from joining, or repairing to his settlement; under the sanction and authority of a general law, that renders the formal assent of the governors and assemblies of the different provinces absolutely necessary to validate the purchase of any lands from the Indian nations. For this instance, being the act of the Indians themselves,
128they defended him and his colony, being in fact as a bulwark and barrier between Virginia, as well as North and south Carolina and him; his territory lying to the westward of their nation.
I beg leave to observe, that I do not presume to undertake his justification, but only admire his enterprising policy, and the vigour and activity of his mind.
From the conversation I had with this very extraordinary person, Mr. Henderson; I entertained a strong inclination to pay a visit to his domain; which must certainly afford a large field for speculation and enterprise, being situated in the very heart of the continent of America, and in a great degree precluded from the general intercourse of the rest of mankind, and society at large, being likewise several hundred miles distant from any other settlement.
However, some misunderstandings and disturbances that I was informed had broke out between the Virginians and the Shawnese and other Indians, I apprehended would at this particular period render the enterprize rather hazardous; Mr. Henderson himself appearing rather intimidated at the danger.
Having proceeded on my journey, I slept at a place where they have dignified a few log hovels with the appellation of a town called Harrisburg, from the proprietor's name.
On the day following I forded two streams of water named Fishing Creek and Tar River, some miles distant from each other; the last of which is pretty considerable, and very rocky.
Finding myself rather indisposed, I stopped at a house on the banks of a watercourse named Napareed's Creek, and was compelled to remain there all night.
In the morning I became much worse, and soon found myself seized with a most severe sickness, here called a Seasoning (to the country and climate.) It was a violent bilious fever, and soon reduced me to the verge of death.
There was nothing to be procured in this place fit for a sick person, not even a nurse. Nature and a good constitution were my only physicians and medicines.
I lay for ten days quite delirious and helpless, and it was five weeks before I was out of danger; but even then, so extremely weak and low, that I was scarcely able to walk across the room.
My strength returned so very slowly, that I was obliged to make a long residence in this solitary place, but thereby I became much more familiarized with, and reconciled to the customs, conversation, and manners of the people, which, it must be confessed, are sufficiently rude and disgusting.
I also formed particular, and agreeable enough acquaintances with the softer sex; who are, to be sure, very singular in their manners and behaviour, although almost the only humanized beings in the place.
In their shape and features some of them are certainly very handsome, yet, at best, little better than beautiful savages.
But was I to relate the various instances I have seen of the extreme rudeness and brutality of many of the men, they would
132scarcely appear credible to the civilized part of the species.
However, I shall hazard a very few of the most moderate, by which some judgement of the rest may be formed.
They seem to entertain little or no sense of religion, and as little knowledge, or fear, of a future state, God, or Devil.
But they all, especially the women, profess an avowed partiality for Britons, whom, notwithstanding, they call outlandish folks, ignorant and unpolished, thinking themselves the only polite, knowing people in the world.
The following are some of the instances I promised to mention of their ferocity.
They cut off the ears and tail of a favourate cat of mine, and called it fun.
She had young ones, and the barbarians cut off the ears and tails of all the kittens; this they called high; and were excessively delighted at beholding the poor animals agonies and contortions in death.
I accustomed myself to go out along with them a hunting, fishing,
133swimming, fowling, &c. for my amusement and diversion.
Being once on a visit at a Mr. Glen's, he and I went to the river to swim, it being but a very short distance from his house; whilst we were there, his wife and her sister, who were both young and handsome, came down to the water-side, and in a frolic hid our cloaths.
After they had laughed at us for some time, they informed us where they were, and I put mine on; but he ran out of the water, and pursued the women stark naked.
Having caught his wife, he brought her into the room where her sister and I were, locked the door, took out the key, threw her down on the bed, and notwithstanding her utmost endeavours to prevent him and disengage herself, committed an act that a mere savage would have been ashamed to have attempted in public.
This he would afterwards boast of in all companies, in the presence of his wife and every other lady, as an excellent joke, and prodigious piece of humour.
I had an aversion to the fellow ever after this, and I believe his wife liked him no better; for she frequently complained to me how extremely odious he was become to her.
Soon after this I played this biped a trick, that afforded me a sufficient share of diversion at his expence.
Being in a store where Glen had just purchased a very handsome fowling-piece, I secretly took an opportunity of loading her with powder, and wadding her with spunk, charge over charge, several times, until the barrel was almost full, (spunk is a fungous substance that grows on the oak, which catches sire like tinder, and consumes slowly, until it communicates the fire to whatever it touches.)
After he had mounted his horse to go home, I dropped a spark of fire into the muzzle of his gun as I handed her up to him.
He then rode on very quietly, followed at a little distance by me and another person, to whom I had disclosed the contrivance.
All on a sudden, as he was carrying her on his shoulder quite carelessly, she fired off with a loud report; his horse, which was a colt scarcely broke, being frightened, threw him and ran away.
Being much bruised, he was unable to follow his horse, and limped along towards his gun; he took her up, and began to walk slowly homewards, but appeared to be in a state of great surprize and perturbation.
In a little time she fired again, when recoiling against the side of his head, the cock-pin almost tore off his ear, and she fell a second time on the ground.
He stood some moments in the utmost terror and amazement, before he dared to venture to take her up again; which however he attempted at last, with fear and trembling.
Viewing her with the greatest timidity, care, and attention, and finding the pan shut, he opened it, and seeing it bright, unstained with smoak, and empty, and the whole piece without any uncommon
136appearance, he said to himself, "Surely the devil must, have been in this gun, but I hope he has got out now; however, I must be careful."
He then walked on once more, holding her out at arm's length from his body, and fast with both hands; presently she fired a third time, when his astonishment is not to be described: he instantly threw her down, and fled behind a tree, terrified beyond expression, and peeping at her from thence.
In this situation he continued to watch her, as she then lay upon the ground, until she fired a fourth time; upon that he could contain himself no longer, but affrighted, lest she should turn about and shoot him, for he was now well convinced that she was animated, he forgot his bruises, and ran away as fast as his feet could carry him, keeping under cover from tree to tree, with as great caution as ever an Indian retreated from a superior enemy, until he conceived himself beyond her reach, when he halted
137to rest and breathe, being just ready to sink down with terror and fatigue: at that instant she fired again, and, hearing the report, he took to his heels, and never stopped any more until he reached his own house; where he declared his full assurance that the devil, or something worse, had fixed his head quarters in the fowling-piece.
After he got home, he related to his wife, and to all his neighbours, a most lamentable, tale of his achievements and feats of prowess, in an engagement with the devil; embellished with many extraordinary and fictitious exploits in superabundance.
But the fright, and the fall from his horse, occasioned him a severe illness, which indeed had like to have put his grand antagonist in possession of him as well as of his gun.
After his recovery he could never be prevailed on to touch that fowling-piece, although he was made acquainted with the stratagem that had been imposed on
138him; and he was so ridiculed and laughed at by every one, that for a long time he did not venture to show his face in public.
This was the only act of retaliation I inflicted upon this fellow, in return for a multitude of ridiculous silly mischiefs, and stupid foolish tricks, or jokes (as he called them), which he was (before this one retorted on himself) perpetually playing off upon me, and every person he happened to fall in company with.
There was a rich planter's daughter, of her own accord, undertook, to polish me (as she was pleased to term it); this was with the approbation of her parents and friends, and certainly she honoured me with every attention, instruction, and kindness.
Indeed, if presents could have rendered me polite, I must have soon become one of the most polished youths in their country; for every present she received from the young gentlemen in the vicinity (which indeed was not a few, the girl being exceedingly handsome), she
139insisted on my accepting, so that at last, I knew not what to do with them.
Whilst I remained at this place I met with a very singular occurrence: having purchased a beautiful Chickasaw horse, named so from a nation of Indians who are very careful in preserving a fine breed of Spanish horses they have long possessed, unmixed with any other; the first day that I rode him, he was seized with a violent convulsion fit; the second day with another; the third day he was affected in the same manner, while at grass in the pasture; the fourth day he was taken in a manner still more extraordinary, his mouth was drawn up over his back, and he began to move on straight forwards, in a direct, line, with great speed and force, beating down fences, going over the trunks of fallen trees, and every obstruction in his way; in this manner he rushed on into woods, far distant from settlements, and was followed for seven miles, but being then lost sight of, he was never seen or heard of more.
Here, during my slow recovery from this dangerous indisposition, I began to accustom myself to walk, or ride, little distances alone in the woods. When I first attempted it, I was sure to get bewildered and lost, every time; which indeed one cannot avoid, until habituated to attend to the sun, the trees, and the water-courses. But it requires the experience of several years, to become a good and experienced wood's-man.
I observed here, in different places in the woods, some considerable glades, savannahs, or meadows. These are natural openings, of a few acres in extent, quite destitute of timber, not a tree, nor even the vestige of one, to be perceived in them;
141but the ground therein is always covered with abundance of excellent long grass.
Such meadows are generally to be found near the head spring, or source of small branches of running water, and are as uncommon in America, as an equal extent of natural woods, and large, stately, lofty trees are in Europe.
Throughout this inland country, one frequently hears of places called Licks; which appellation, being unintellgible to any but the inhabitants, I shall embrace this opportunity to explain.
Licks are particular places, most commonly on the banks of rivers, or creeks, and sometimes at spring-heads, where the clay or earth is impregnated with saline particles.
These places are frequented by deer, elks, buffaloes, horned cattle, and horses, which daily resort to them, to lick the earth or clay with their tongues; this they perform with a peculiar relish and gout, and appear to take great delight therein, coming there, for that purpose, from the distance of many miles around.
There is likewise another kind of licks here besides. These are also on the banks of rivers, lakes, streams of water, or large ravines and chasms, and consist of chalk; or calcarious earth, of a testaceous quality, which is greedily licked up and consumed by all those different animals I have already mentioned in the description of the former of these places.
To the use of this latter kind they are prompted by nature and instinct, for salutary and medicinal purposes, to correct the acidity of the super-abundant vegetative juices accumulated in the stomach; which would otherwise occasion severe gripings, strictures of the bowels, and many other painful disorders.
All these licks are generally frequented by hunters with their rifles, at the dawn of day, or on bright moon-shine nights, who, by this means, seldom fail of killing some of the deer, elks, or buffaloes, that resort to them at such private times, for the greater security.
These places, however, are only to be found or heard of in the back country, and are generally very considerable distances asunder, some ten, twenty, and thirty miles.
All the inhabitants throughout America, that are distant from the sea, or saltwater, give their cattle and horses salt, sometimes once, sometimes twice a week; which is not only to promote their increase of flesh, but to render them gentle and tame, and to allure them to come often to their owner's plantations; else, in the mild southern climate, where there is no occasion to provide a stock of provender for them against the winter, they would otherwise run wild, and roam far beyond the reach of their proprietors, through this immense and unbounded forest.
Indeed, notwithstanding every precaution, very great numbers of black cattle, horses, and hogs actually do so daily, and run at large, entirely wild, without
144any other proprietors than those of the ground they happen to be found upon.
In some parts, each person, in possession of a plantation, has what is called a right in the woods; by which he is entitled to the property of a certain proportion of the live stock that runs wild, such as I just described.
This right they dispose of, and transfer from party to party, in the same manner as affixed property.
And when they want to catch some colts, to render them tame and serviceable, it is an undertaking of no small difficulty to accomplish.
Throughout the middle and back settlements of America, there is no other criterion to ascertain the property of black cattle, sheep, and hogs, but ear-marks alone; and of horses, than brands with red hot irons, and ear-marks also.
Each person's mark differs from another; and they are all severally recorded by the clerk of the county-courts wherein they reside.
This is supported by the authority of the legislature, who have decreed it felony to alter or deface those marks or insignia of property.
There is an observation very remarkable, which occurred to me, and as I suppose to every European on his arrival in America, but I presume never thought on by any native. It is an idea of restraint, or a want of free open air, and an extension of view, occasioned by the appearance of confinement, and the perspective being always bounded by the surrounding woods, which perpetually limit the sight within narrower compass than the mind requires; besides an universal gloomy shade, rendered dismal by the intermixing branches of the lofty trees, which over-spread the whole country, and the sun never pervades.
This occasioned a sensation rather painful to me for a considerable time, which, however, gradually wore off, until I could only just recollect the idea.
I acknowledge indeed never to have heard this observation mentioned by any one whomsoever; but as it struck me most forcibly, I have therefore every reason to believe that others have likewise perceived, at first, the same kind of sensations, if they began to travel soon after their arrival in this part of America.
The face of the country, ever since I left Mr. Eaton's, has been gradually swelling more and more into hills and dales, which are here called bottoms, as I advanced westward; and the land is likewise more mixed with stones, which also continue to increase in magnitude.
The soil is a composition of reddish clay and loam, strong and fertile; the woods less intermingled with pines, and more with oak and hickory; and the water every where excellent, running in vast multitudes of beautiful clear streams.
The country and climate is in general healthy, the low grounds of the rivers alone otherwise, particularly those of the Roanoak, occasioned by exhalations arising from the damp soil, stagnated
148waters, and by the putrescence of the air, whose free circulation is prevented, in such situations, by lofty thick woods, impervious to the brightest beams of the fun, under which a dismal gloom and insalubrious moisture eternally reigns.
The inhabitants of these places, and their nearest vicinity, are subject to obstinate intermittents; these, and bilious complaints, being the chief and most prevailing endemial diseases throughout this country.
There are likewise great numbers of all kinds of serpents in these situations, particularly that most poisonous and dreadful of all, the rattle-snake; and the more silent and dangerous moccossons also abound, especially in and near the swamps, guts, and rivers, but are not met with so frequently.
Game is very plenty here, particularly deer, beavers, otters, raccoons, and that very extraordinary animal the oppossum, the female of which has a double, or false belly: within it the young ones
149grow to the teats, like fruit to the stalk, and drop off at a certain period.
After she has brought forth her young, during the season of their infancy, whenever they perceive danger nigh, they all run into the mother's bag, or false belly, for security and refuge.
Both these and the raccoons are used for food, generally barbicued, or roasted, and their flesh is not unpleasant.
There are also some wolves, and multitudes of foxes, wild turkies very large fat and fine, wild-geese, ducks, and squirrels innumerable, which make most excellent soup; also wood-peckers and jays of several different kinds; besides a vast variety of other animals, birds, beasts, &c. too many even to enumerate.
Great numbers of trees in the woods, especially in the low grounds, are covered with vines, and bend under the weight of the ripe grapes, which are suspended in accumulated multitudes of large and delicious clusters.
There is also a remarkable fruit named the persimmon, growing wild, about as large as the biggest Orleans plum, of a bright scarlet colour, with four or five very hard seeds in each, nearly of the size and shape of those of tamarinds, and the pulp of the fruit, when perfectly ripe, is of a sharp, but luscious sweetness.
As other fruits are ripened by the sun, so the persimmon is by the frost in conjunction with it; for although beautiful and tempting to the eye, they cannot be eaten, and scarcely even tasted, before they are maturated, or meliorated, by several sharp frosts, previous to which they are austere, rough, and astringent, to a greater degree than any other vegetative substance, or production, whatsoever.
All animals are excessively fond of this fruit, particularly the oppossums and raccoons, who are generally found on, or near the persimmon-trees. These trees are as large as oaks, elms, or ash, and
151are distinctly divided into male and female, the male never bearing fruit.
In some places, where apples and cyder are scarce, the inhabitants gather the persimmons, after they are perfectly ripe, knead them into a kind of dough, or paste, with wheat bran, which they form into loaves, and bake in ovens: of these they brew a fermented liquor, which is called persimmon beer. This serves for their common drink, and is tolerably pleasant and wholesome. It is sometimes, though rarely, distilled into brandy.
These trees grow chiefly in or near about the edges of glades, savannahs, and in old fields, as they term such places where the timber has been cut down, the land worn out, impoverished, or tired with culture, and young trees have not sprung up; for the perfimmon is found to thrive in the poorest soil, almost as well as in the most fertile.
Throughout this back country, there are so many rich and valuable tracts of land frequently to be disposed of, for
152considerations infinitely inferior to their real worth, that a man of reflection, even a traveller, cannot always withstand the temptation.
Here I have evinced the truth of this observation for the second time, having made a purchase of a survey, containing four hundred and fifty acres of excellent land, adjoining Flat river, with a cleared plantation, and a house upon it, for only one hundred pounds sterling.
The first purchase I made was on the banks of the Roanoak, nine miles above Eaton's ferry; it consisted of five hundred and fifty acres, of which about one hundred was in Virginia, mostly low grounds, and the rest in North Carolina, the dividing frontier line intersecting the land. On this there is a plantation, houses, orchards, &c. and a public ferry.
The small part of this tract that lies in Virginia cost me two hundred pounds, although I gave but fifty pounds more for all the rest of the survey that is on the
153North Carolina side of the frontier line, being four hundred and fifty acres.
On this plantation I settled an overseer, with a few negroes, and stock; and committed the whole to the care of my friend, Mr. Alexander, with whom I regularly corresponded.
But with this last purchase I was not so well satisfied, for when I reflected on the situation of it, I found it must be an incumbrance, being so far inland, and so for distant from navigation, that there was but a slender prospect of my reaping any benefit thereby.
This consideration induced me to offer it again for sale, and in the disposal thereof, I was more fortunate than I had any reason to apprehend, having sold it for fifty pounds more than it cost me, to a planter, who had just removed out to this place with his family, from the interior part of Virginia, and intended to make some more purchases of adjacent tracts that were quite contiguous to this, and thereby, very opportunely to me, enhanced its value.
The winter, if you may call so the finest time of the year, is in this part of the continent more pleasant and agreeable than can be conceived; neither so hot as to incommode, nor so cold as to displease; but is constantly a series of the most delightful weather imaginable: ever clear, bright, and serene, the face of nature is perpetually smiling.
As a specimen of the sentiments which this lonesome, recluse situation inspires, the following stanzas, or ode, may not be unacceptable, which claim no farther merit than evincing the natural bias of the human mind to philanthropy and benevolence, when detached from the general intercourse of polished society, and divested of the disguise and incumbrances of modern company and refinement.
It was addressed to Robert Alexander, esq. colonel of the militia of the county of Mecklenburg, in Virginia, the gentleman whom I have already mentioned.
On the banks of the rapid Roanoak;
Here to silence and solitude am I confin'd,
Like a bird just escap'd from the hawk
Using means that are honest, or vile;
Whilst narrow-soul'd misers are racking their brains,
To heap up more gold, and more guile.
And justice gives way to the cash;
Whilst the virtuous, the poor are respected by me,
And rich rascals smart under my lash.
And barter off death by the lump;
Whilst int'rest and power against merit prevail,
And honour's lopt low to the stump.
Since neglected, forsaken, retir'd;
For riches and splendour, with guile, I disdain,
Nor by me are high titles desir'd.
And friendship with you to enjoy;
This adds to our pleasure, and banishes strife,
And wisely our days we'll employ.
That at length we've discover'd the right,
Rude, noisy enjoyments expel'd from our mind,
Each scene now serene is, and bright.
With grief, we see rushing along;
Contending, with eager exertion and strife,
To excel in the culpable throng.
And Vice in her colours display;
Awak'ning reflection will urge them to know,
They, like butterflies, blaze but a day.
They approach me, — expecting my praise;
Since, like them, abandon'd to ev'ry excess. —
Let them listen, with heed, to my lays.
"Nor wax thus ill-natur'dly warm;
"But bear with the cordial advice of a friend
"Who can blush for himself, and reform.
"A rational use to your eyes;
"And look'd on those actions with envy and pride,
"Which reflection wust hate and despise,
"Disdain to be seen with a pen;
"Nor boast of being rais'd into something divine,
"When debas'd greatly lower than men.
"O never attempt to defend;
"Nor plunge the fell sword, for a casual jest,
"In the breast of your worthiest friend.
"'Tis a malice most cruelly cool;
"Nor plunge the soft virgin in anguish and shame,
"For the loudest applause of a fool.
"In pity, in justice, forbear;
"And think that a sister, or child of your own,
"May be drawn to disgrace and despair.
"Oblige you to praise and protect;
"And the silver-white ringlets of reverend age,
"Still meet with a decent respect.
"Than all your mistaken pursuits;
"Give zest to your pleasures, and weight to your store,
"Distinguishing reason from brutes."
THE last two considerable streams of water that I crossed on my way to this place, Fishing-creek and Tar-river, receiving several inferior creeks and branches in their course, from a tolerable large river, which passing by Tarburg, falls into the immense body of water, that is known by the appellation of Pamplico sound, at Bath town, after a course of about an hundred and fifty miles, in a direct line, from the source.
It was in February when I left this place, and again proceeded on my journey.
At the end of two miles, I crossed Flat river, and in two miles farther, Little river; these, with another river (the Eno) within a couple of miles more, meet some small distance below, and form the river Newse.
Each of these small rivers, is larger than the Thames at Richmond, and the Newse is not much inferior to the Roanoak.
After a course of more than three hundred miles, it empties itself in Pamplico sound, about thirty miles below the town of Newbern, which is sometimes called, and lately established as the capital of North-Carolina.
This town is situated in a very beautiful spot, on the banks of the Newse, at the confluence of a pretty stream, named Trent river.
After a ride of twenty-two miles, I arrived at Hillsborough, where I dined and passed the rest of the day.
This is the third appellation this town has already been honoured with since it was erected, being first named Corben-town, next Childsburg, now Hillsborough; all in less than thirty years.
It is also the capital of a district, and the county-town of Orange.
Hillsborough is a healthy spot, enjoys a good share of commerce for an inland town, and is in a very promising state of improvement.
The land, for some distance around Hillsborough, consists of a mixture of loam and strong red clay of so bright a colour that white horses and cattle, soon after they are brought there, become in appearance a fine scarlet.
In the vicinity of Hillsborough, and to the westward of it, there are a great many very fine farms, and a number of excellent mills.
The inhabitants are chiefly natives of Ireland and Germany, but of the very lowest and most ignorant class, who export large quantities of exceeding good butter and flour, in waggons, to Halifax, Petersburg, &c. besides multitudes of fat cattle, beeves, and hogs.
There is a very steep and high hill, or small mountain, with two summits of an equal height, on the south-west of Hillsborough, which arises abruptly in the middle of an extensive plain, and commands the whole country for a great distance around.
This might easily be rendered a very strong post, by works thrown up on the summits, which are near enough to cover and support each other, and so situated, as the communication between them could not be interrupted. The flanks and rear likewise would be strengthened by the river Eno, which runs at the base of this mountain, and washes two sides of it.
The staple produce of all this country being provisions of every kind, a fortified post in this place, would thereby be enabled to subsist and maintain itself in every necessary supply, excepting arms and ammunition, and might be defended, by a small force, against a very considerable and superior army.
Almost every man in this country has been the fabricator of his own fortune, and many of them are very opulent.
Some have obtained their riches by commerce, others by the practice of the law, which in this province is peculiarly lucrative, and extremely oppressive; but most of
163them have acquired their possessions by cropping, farming, and industry.
I dined next day, by invitation, at the house of Mr. Frank Nash.
[Since then it has happened, in the vicissitudes of fortune, that Mr. Nash and the author were engaged in battle on different sides; Mr. Nash as a General in the American army, and the author a Captain in the British, at the action of German-Town, near Philadelphia, where Mr. Nash received his mortal wound.]
Here, at Mr. Nash's, I happened to meet a Mr. Mabin (a native of Ireland) who very kindly insisted on my accompanying him to his feat on Haw river, adjoining the Haw fields, to spend some weeks there.
Having a great desire to view the Haw fields, a place I had heard much about, I went along with him to his plantation, which is about an easy day's ride, west of Hillsborough.
Mr. Mabin's farm is very valuable and extensive, but not particularly remarkable.
I rode several times over the Haw fields, but could not perceive any thing in them extraordinary.
They consist partly of wide savannahs, or glades, and partly of large fields overgrown with shrubs, brush, and low under-wood, entirely destitute of heavy timber. But there appears many vestiges of trees, which in all probability have been blown down by a hurricane, and the young shoots afterwards choaked by the extreme thickness of the low bushes, and scrubby underwood. This I have also observed to be the case in many other places besides.
From the effect of these most violent and tremendous hurricanes and tornadoes, which being sometimes partial, frequently move in strange fantastic directions, and from the irresistible force of the wind, and the vast deluges and innundations of water that generally accompany them, all the appearances may be readily
165accounted for in a common and natural way, which, however, have lately given scope to an ingenious, celebrated, and elegant author's (Dr. Dunbar) and others of less note (Mr. Carver, &c.) vague imaginations; hazarding their fanciful and wild conjectures of some of these being vestiges of military works, erected many ages past, by a people then conversant in that science, but whose descendants, by the mere dint of practice, (for war and hunting appear from the most early period of time to have been the sole study and occupation of their lives,) and by some other equally absurd and unaccountable transitions, have thereby forgotten, and, at this day, have lost every trace thereof.
Indeed it must be confessed, that the elephant's bones, or those of some other unknown animal of vast magnitude, found on the banks of the river Ohio, the antique sculptures in the Delaware's country, on the north-west side of that amazing river, the shells and marine substances in the Alegany mountains,
166together with many other strange appearances and singular phenomena, so frequently to be met with throughout this most extensive continent, display a fertile field for a creative, fanciful genius to explore, and may give rise to the most novel, elegant, and beautiful flights of imagination, and the brightest, most ingenious, and splendid embellishments of fiction.
However, I have reason to believe, that some of the Haw fields have been cleared of woods by the Indians, in ages past, who were undoubtedly settled here; many insignia, and vestiges of the remains of their towns, still remaining.
Having it in speculation to visit Henderson's settlement on Kentucky, I mentioned my intention to Mr. Mabin, who appeared very strenuous in dissuading me from undertaking such an enterprize at present, on account of the misunderstanding and disturbances now subsisting between the Indians and the Whites.
He informed me of a report, that even Henderson's whole settlement was either exterminated, or in imminent danger of being so.
For this reason, I concluded to postpone this arduous undertaking, until such time as more certain and favourable intelligence of their situation in the settlement should arrive, and a better prospect of reaching it without molestation.
On the third evening after I came here, a gentleman, named Frohawk, called at Mr. Mabin's, on his return to Salisbury, where he resided.
As he tarried all night, we had much conversation, and from his accounts of the Catawba Indians, my curiosity was strongly excited to visit their nation, which was only about an hundred miles beyond the town of Salisbury.
Accordingly, having expressed my desire and intention to Mr. Frohawk, he was so obliging as to propose to conduct and accompany me; an opportunity and eligible offer, which I with great satisfaction embraced, and set out along with him next morning.
The road we travelled in is named the Great Trading Path, and leads through Hillsborough, Salifbury, &c. to the Catawba towns, and from thence to the Cherokee nation of Indians, a considerable distance westward.
We forded the Haw river, which is there about twice as broad as the Thames
169at Putney, and within a few miles farther, in the like manner, we crossed Reedy river, another branch of the same stream, and as large.
We dined just by a Quaker's meeting-house, and in the afternoon crossed Deep river, at a ford. This is also about twice as wide as the Thames at Putney, and joins the Haw river some distance below, after washing the base of the north-east side of a ridge or chain of high hills, named the Carroway mountains.
The Haw is then a large river, and runs through the settlement and town of Cross creek, which is chiefly inhabited by Scots emigrants from the western Highlands and the Hebrides
170North-Carolina, on the north-east, and Brunswick, which is a little lower on the western bank of the river, it falls into the Atlantic ocean at Cape Fear, after a course of more than three hundred miles from the source.
We lodged that night at an inn or ordinary, as it is called here, at the foot of the Carroway mountains, which we had frequently had a glimpse of, during this day's ride.
We pursued our journey early on the following morning, which was extremely pleasant and fine; and when we arrived at the summit of the mountain, the sun just began to verge above the horizon.
Here I alighted, and indulged myself in gazing with great delight on the wild and extensive prospect around me.
On the north-east I beheld the mountains at Hillsborough, distant above fifty miles; on the south-west, the mountains near Salisbury; and on the west, Tryon mountains; with the wide extended forest below, embrowned with thick woods, and
171intersected with dark, winding, narrow chasms, which marked out the course of the different mighty streams that meandered through this enormous vale; thinly interspersed on the banks of which, the farms and plantations appeared like as many insignificant spots, that, while they pointed out the industry, served also to expose the littleness of man.
On this spot I could with pleasure have passed the day, had not a craving, keen appetite reminded us, that there are more gratifications necessary for our support, than feasting our eyes; so we descended the mountain, and pursued our journey.
It was fortunate for me, that at this time, my constitution, health, and taste, enabled me to subsist on any kind of food, without repining, and with sufficient satisfaction, however coarse or unusual it might be. For this is not an enterprise for an epicure, or a petit maitre: the apprehensions of perishing with hunger and want, would as effectually deter the one from such
172an undertaking, as the dread of absolutely expiring with fatigue and hardships, would the other; the fare and accommodations a traveller meets with throughout this country, being very indifferent indeed, even at best, and generally miserable and wretched beyond description, excepting at warm or opulent planters houses, where there is always a profusion of every thing, but in the coarsest and plainest style.
The greater number of those who travel through this country, have acquaintances among the inhabitants, at whose houses they generally put up every night, and seldom call at ordinaries.
Those that drive and accompany waggons on a journey, sleep in the woods every night under a tree, upon dry leaves on the ground, with their feet towards a large fire, which they make by the road side, wherever night happens to overtake them, and are covered only with a blanket. Their horses are turned loose in the woods, only with leather spancills or
173fetters on two of their legs, and each with a bell fastened by a collar round his neck, by which they are readily found in the morning. Provisions and provender, both for men and horses, are carried along with them, in the waggon, sufficient for the whole journey.
Even these advantages, trifling as they may appear, a traveller on horseback is destitute of, and is obliged to trust to Providence, and the country through which he passes, for accommodation and subsistence; both of which are not always to be met with, and even when they are, are seldom as good, never better than the waggoners.
Late in the afternoon we crossed the river Yadkin, at a ford, six or seven miles beyond which is the town of Salisbury, where we arrived that evening, being about one hundred and twenty miles west-south-west from Hillsborough.
The Yadkin is a very large stream of water, at least three times as wide as the Thames at Putney: it runs through a rich and extensive country, enters South Carolina, passing through the Chawraws, having a vast body of low grounds and rich rice and indigo lands on each side, before which it assumes the name of Great Peedee, and falls into the Atlantic Ocean a few miles below George-Town, which stands on the west side of
175a bay named Winyaw, formed within the mouth of this river, receiving a great many inferior streams in its course, which is remarkably crooked, being above five hundred miles along with its meanders, and more than four hundred miles, in a direct line, from its source.
Salisbury is the capital of a district, and is the county town of Roan: it is situated on a small creek that runs into the Yadkin on the south-west side.
This town is larger than Hillsborough, and less than Halifax; but does not share an equal degree of commerce with the least of them.
The trade from Salisbury is pretty exactly divided between the towns on James River in Virginia, and Charles Town in South Carolina.
There is a beautiful romantic mountain a few miles due south from Salisbury, which being seen from the town produces a very fine effect, as the Carroway mountains do also, the tops of which are likewise to be perceived.
I went to the summit of this delightful mountain, on the brow nearest to the town, and from thence beheld a perspective, beautiful, extensive, and grand, as I always do such a scene, with superior pleasure.
On the north-east I observed the Carroway mountains; on the north-west, at fifty miles distance, the Brushy Mountains, the Montague Hills, and the King's Mountain on the west.
[It was on this mountain that gallant officer and excellent partizan, Major Ferguson, of the British army, and his whole detachment, were cut off, and killed by a vast superiority of the rebels, in November 1780; by which misfortune this place has unhappily become distinguished.]
On the south and east I beheld an unbounded plain; and the whole an immense forest, without limits, interspersed with vast water-courses, and thinly spotted with settlements.
Mr. Frohawk being prevented by an unforeseen accident from accompanying me to the Catawba nation, I set out alone, and after a fatiguing ride of sixty miles, arrived at a little town, named Charlottesburg, at night; having forded several water-courses during the day, which form Rocky River, a branch of the Yadkin.
Charlottesburg is an inconsiderable place, and in England would not be thought deserving of even the name of a village. It stands upon a creek that runs into the Catawba River, is not a county town, and its trade and share of commerce is very insignificant.
During this day's ride, I observed that the settlements are fewer, the plantations smaller, and the land, in appearance, less fertile, than on the other side of Salisbury.
Throughout all this country, and in every back settlement in America, the roads and paths are first marked out by blazes on the trees, cut alternately on each side of the way, every thirty or forty yards: these are renewed every time the roads are repaired.
A blaze is a large chip sliced off the side of a tree with an axe; it is above twelve inches in length, cut through the bark and some of the sap wood, and by its white appearance, and brightness, when fresh made, serves to direct the way in the night as well as in the day.
The miles are chiefly computed, and are ascertained by notches chopped in the nearest tree; a notch for every mile.
The first blazed paths originated in this manner: when any person went from
179one place to another through the woods, where it would have been difficult, if not impossible, to return upon his track, he fell upon this method of blazing each side of the trees, at certain distances, as he passed on, and thereby retraced his way in returning, without the least trouble.
The convenience and simplicity of this mode has rendered it universal throughout the whole back country.
It became the more readily adopted, as all who travel beyond the roads and beaten tracks, always have tomahawks in their belts; which, in such situations and circumstances, are more useful than any thing, except the rifle-barreled firelocks; both of which all the male inhabitants habituate themselves constantly to carry along with them every where.
Their whole dress is also very singular, and not very materially different from that of the Indians; being a hunting shirt, somewhat resembling a waggoner's frock, ornamented with a great many fringes, tied round the middle with a
180broad belt, much decorated also, in which is fastened a tomahawk, an instrument that serves every purpose of defence and convenience; being a hammer at one side and a sharp hatchet at the other; the shot bag and powder-horn, carved with a variety of whimsical figures and devices, hang from their necks over one shoulder; and on their heads a flapped hat, of a reddish hue, proceeding from the intensely hot beams of the sun.
Sometimes they wear leather breeches, made of Indian dressed elk, or deer skins, but more frequently thin trowsers.
On their legs they have Indian boots, or leggings, made of coarse woollen, cloth, that either are wrapped round loosely and tied with garters, or are laced upon the outside, and always come better than half way up the thigh: these are a great defence and preservative, not only against the bite of serpents and poisonous insects, but likewise against the scratches of thorns, briars, scrubby bushes, and
181underwood, with which this whole country is infested and overspread.
On their feet they sometimes wear pumps of their own manufacture, but generally Indian moccossons, of their own construction also, which are made of strong elk's, or buck's skin, dressed soft as for gloves or breeches, drawn together in regular plaits over the toe, and lacing from thence round to the fore part of the middle of the ancle, without a seam in them, yet fitting close to the feet, and are indeed perfectly easy and pliant.
Thus habited and accoutered, with his rifle upon his shoulder, or in his hand, a back-wood's man is completely equipped for visiting, courtship, travel, hunting, or war.
And according to the number and variety of the fringes on his hunting shirt, and the decorations on his powder-horn, belt, and rifle, he estimates his finery, and absolutely conceives himself of equal consequence, more civilized, polite, and more elegantly dressed than the most
182brilliant peer at St. James's, in a splendid and expensive birth-day suit, of the first fashion and taste, and most costly materials.
Their hunting, or rifle shirts, they have also died in variety of colours, some yellow, others red, some brown, and many wear them quite white.
Such sentiments as those I have just exposed to notice, are neither so ridiculous nor surprising, when the circumstances are considered with due attention, that prompt the back-wood's American to such a train of thinking, and in which light it is, that he feels his own consequence, for he finds all his resources in himself.
Thus attired and accoutered, as already described, set him in the midst of a boundless forest, a thousand miles from an inhabitant, he is by no means at a loss, nor in the smallest degree dismayed.
With his rifle he procures his subsistence; with his tomahawk he erects his
183shelter, his wigwam, his house, or whatever habitation he may chuse to reside in; he drinks at the crystal spring, or the nearest brook; his wants are all easily supplied, he is contented, he is happy. For felicity, beyond a doubt, consists, in a great measure, in the attainment and gratification of our desires, and the accomplishment of the utmost bounds of our wishes.
This digression, which I thought necessary to impress an idea of the singular appearance and sentiments of these men, for that reason, I am hopeful, will be excused; and for which, I flatter myself, this will be deemed a sufficient apology.
On the morning following I pursued my journey to the Catawba towns, which are between thirty and forty miles distant from Charlottesburg.
Having hired a person at Charlottesburg, who was well acquainted in the nation, and conversant in their language and customs, to serve as my guide, and interpreter, if there should be occasion, we arrived at the nation that evening.
Our horses were turned out loose, and we lodged in a wigwam belonging to a family of these Indians, in which my guide was very intimate.
My bed was a large bear's skin, with a blanket to cover me, and I slept on the ground, before the fire. Being very much fatigued, I rested tolerably well, and in
185the morning I arose early, as usual, and walked out to view the town.
This day I had the honour of being introduced to the king, or chief of the Catawba nation, whose hard-mouthed Indian appellation I cannot recollect, but his English name was Joe.
He appeared to be a strong, straight, well-looking, robust fellow, little or no way distinguishable from the rest, otherwise than in the accidental gifts of his person; for he seemed to me the likeliest, best made, and handsomest man in the nation.
I was not a little surprised to find that they all spoke English very intelligibly; and they informed me that they understand, and pronounce it as well as their own language.
This once numerous, powerful, and even lately very respectable nation, is now dwindled away almost to nothing, there being at this time no more than sixty or seventy warriors in the whole, and such they are, as would excite the derision
186and contempt of the more western savages, for these are in a kind of state of civilization, which the Indians consider as enervating effeminacy, and hold it in the utmost abhorrence.
The Catawbas afford a melancholy example, and striking, but insuperable proof, of the ruin and fatality brought on any Indian nation, by the intemperance and vicinity of the settlements of the whites.
This astonishing havoc and depopulation, which is indeed most alarming, grievous, and awful, and truly painful for humanity to reflect upon, has been occasioned, in a great measure, by the introduction of the small-pox and spirituous liquors.
Their injudicious treatment of that infectious malady, generally renders it fatal, for they make use of hot stimulating medicines to promote a most profuse diaphoresis, in the height of which, whilst reeking with sweat, and dissolving in streams of warm moisture, they rush out
187into the open air, quite naked, and suddenly plunge into the deepest and coldest, stream of running water that can be found, immersing their whole body in the chilling flood.
It may well be supposed, that if their recovery was doubtful before, this renders it totally impossible; and the poor unfortunate victims fall sacrifices to the most wretched ignorance and folly.
The deleterious effects of spirituous liquors are not less notorious and extensive; for these unhappy wretches are one and all perfectly devoted to the immoderate use of them, when to be obtained by any means whatsoever in their power; and an universal inebriation constantly occasions a most dreadful carnage, which all the persuasions and power of the women, invariably exerted for that laudable purpose, is never able to prevent.
Yet after the fatal paroxysm of intoxication has ceased, no revenge is gratified, no resentments are indulged by the
188relations and friends of the murdered, against the survivor.
The brothers, the fathers, the sons of the deceased, are perfectly reconciled to, and in the strictest harmony and friendship with those that perpetrated the sanguinary deed. All unite in exculpating the actors from intentional crime, throwing the whole blame and stigma of evil and guilt on the wicked and pernicious spirits that gave rise to the whole.
Although every one execrates the abominable liquor, and appears to show the deepest contrition for the dreadful scene of which that alone was the sole cause, yet if they can procure as much more the very next night as will completely intoxicate them, they cannot resist the temptation, even if they were assured of as much mischief as before proceeding from it.
The women, therefore, as soon as they discover spirituous liquors in the house, hut, or wigwam, begin immediately to
189secrete and convey away every dangerous weapon and instrument of death.
The latent effects of these are not less prejudicial and destructive to population than those more immediate and apparent. For the warrior neglects his hunting; the squaw neglects her agriculture; the mother neglects her children; ill health and disease succeed, which generally terminate in the final exit of the unhappy victims, by immersion in the cold bath, while almost in a state of liquefaction by heat and a most profuse perspiration.
The decrease and depopulation of the Indian nations is also promoted by another cause besides these, which has contributed as powerfully as either of the former to that fatal purpose.
It is the frequent abortions of the young unmarried women: for they consider a promiscuous intercourse between the sexes before marriage as no disgrace, nor does it prevent a girl from obtaining a husband afterwards; but they are careful to destroy the fruits of this licentious
190connection by medicinal simples that promote abortion, in which fatal science they are very expert. It produces this pernicious effect, that such practices in their early youth subject them to miscarriages ever afterwards, and when it happens otherwise, they commonly have not more than two children, very seldom three, during the whole course of their lives.
However, although devotees to incontinence and the Cytherian rites while single, yet after they marry they are remarkable for their fidelity to the objects of their choice, unless they should happen to take a dislike to each other; then they mutually agree on an immediate separation, or divorce, and each party may marry again with any other person, without the smallest censure, or the least idea of impropriety.
It is customary when a white man enters an Indian town, or nation, with intention of residing there for some time, if only a few months, for him to
191have a wigwam, or hut, erected, in which he lives with some young squaw, whom he either courts to his embraces, or receives from her parents as his wife and servant, during the time he may stay among them.
In such cases she is always very faithful and true, and if she should prove pregnant, the child is raised by the nation: but if she be the daughter of one of their chiefs, and the father of the infant be inclined to fix his residence among them, he is presented with a large tract of land, several miles square, in trust for the child; which, as well as himself, is then formally adopted and received into the nation.
The Catawbas are indeed a poor, inoffensive, insignificant people, enveloped in filth and nastiness of person, for no Indian has any idea of cleanness.
But they possess an extensive and most valuable body of rich, fertile land, containing more than one hundred and fifty thousand acres, which they hold in absolute property and see simple inheritance.
Should their depopulation continue as rapidly as it has been hitherto, in a very few years this enormous, immense estate will center in a single family.
However, this estate, vast and immense as it is, is but a poor compensation for the loss of a whole province; for this nation formerly possessed, and were the actual proprietors of the greatest part of North Carolina.
I am told that there can be no certain determined judgment formed of the manners and appearance of the native, uncivilized, wild, western Indians, from these, who seem indeed, in a great measure, to have lost that martial independent spirit, for which that whole race of mankind have been ever distinguished, and to be sinking fast into degeneracy and a state of servility and dependence, inferior even to the most indigent of the whites.
The Indian women in general are called Squaws, and it is their business to cultivate the soil, as well as perform the common menial domestic services; the sole occupation of the men being war, hunting, fishing, fowling, and smoaking tobacco.
The only manufacture that I can discover among them is that of party-coloured little baskets, table-mats, made of straw, and chips, or splits of different coloured wood; and an ill-formed kind of a half-baked earthen ware.
These insignificant trifles are carried about by the squaws for sale, and are purchased for the most worthless invaluable considerations.
Many of the Catawbas have affixed property of various kinds and descriptions, and some of their hunters dispose of more than one hundred pounds value of deer-skins every year
Nothing can be more simple, submissive, and obliging than the behaviour of every individual I met with in the Catawba nation, male and female: and there was only their habitual nastiness, coarse fare, and rude accommodations that were any wise disgustful to me, during my residence among them.
However, these people seem to enjoy an ample share of the most valuable of all human blessings, the most estimable of all transitory possessions, health, contentment, and felicity; their principal concern proceeding from the apprehensions of the encroachments of the whites, of which all Indians are indeed,
195with great reason, extremely jealous and watchful. For no extension of territory can gratify our insatiable desires, no bounds can limit our perpetual usurpations, invasions, and inroads on the undoubted and sole property and domain of these comparatively defenceless and innocent race of aboriginal inhabitants.
[For a more particular account of the character and disposition of the Indians, and of the name, situation, and strength, or number of warriors, of each nation on the continent of North-America, see Chapter xliii. and xliv.]
Having, in a few days, sufficiently gratified my curiosity amongst this sinking and degenerating nation, I left the Catawbas, and set out on a journey to a very distinguished place of trade, in South-Carolina, lately entitled Camden, the capital of a district of the same name, formerly called, and still most universally known, by the appellation of the Pine-tree.
Having found my guide, or interpreter, useful to me as a servant, I confirmed to employ him to attend me, which seemed to afford him great satisfaction, although he was engaged for the small wages of half-a-crown per day for himself and his horse also. However, it must be acknowledged, we always lodged and fared alike.
The dividing line between North and South-Carolina, intersects the Catawba
197nation. The principal town, however, is in South Carolina.
We set out from hence in the morning very early, and within the distance of about seven miles, crossed the Catawba river, at a ford just above the confluence of a considerable rivulet that falls into it on the north-east side named Twelve Mile creek, leaving the great road or trading path on our right, that leads west towards the Cherokee country, our course being almost due south a little easterly; and during all this morning's ride hitherto, we have still been upon the territory belonging to the Catawba nation.
The Catawba is a large and rapid river, containing an enormous quantity of water: it is about three hundred and fifty yards wide, and, although fordable, is deep, and runs in a rocky channel with great velocity.
This day we had a dreary ride, and miserable accommodations; having breakfasted on some rice and milk, which it was with much difficulty we could
198procure, and we dined wretchedly at an ordinary of the same style, on the banks of a rivulet, named Fishing creek, which we forded, as also Rocky creek, and lodged at night in a house, or rather a hovel, belonging to a Mr. D—, a private and penurious planter.
In this habitation, which had many strong features of indigence, was only one room and one bed, which the proprietor himself occupied, but very benevolently afforded us (indeed with some degree of reluctance) the accommodation of a pallet on the floor; and after our fatiguing ride of more than fifty miles, even this was very acceptable.
However this house, or more properly shelter, appeared to me as another mansion of misery, and strongly recalled to my mind the poor overseer's wretched habitation, where I lodged the first night after I left Petersburg, in Virginia.
This solitary recluse I also considered as a poor, disconsolate, despised overseer, in the employment of some opulent
199proprietor wallowing in the wealth and luxuries of Charles-town.
Fully possessed with this idea, which I had imbibed over-night from every penurious appearance, I walked out early in the morning to take a general view of the plantation and agriculture.
After strolling about for a considerable time, without meeting a single person to answer any interrogation, I happened to go into a large barn, where to my astonishment, there were near fifty negroes at work.
I asked them to whom they belonged? They replied, to Mr. D—. Who is Mr. D—? Where does he live? — And to my great surprise, I found it was the poor penurious wretch on whose floor we had lodged, that was proprietor, not only of this estate, but of many other plantations, together with three or four hundred more half-starved negroes besides.
I departed from this place with a mixture of pity and contempt for the miserable wretch, who, possessing such a fortune, was incapable of using it as he ought, for
200the purposes of benevolence, and the benefit of mankind.
But with my heart penetrated with pain and anguish, I commiserated the fate of those unhappy wretches his slaves, who were not allowed even, a sufficiency of the coarsest common necessaries of life, in compensation for the hard labour of their lives, by this griping son of penury, who also endeavoured to avert his ruin, and fulfilled his consistency, by sending us away without breakfast.
After an unpleasant ride of better than twenty-five miles, and crossing the river Wateree (which is a continuance of the Catawba) in a ferry-boat, I arrived at Camden, or the Pine-tree, about noon.
This river, the Catawba, assumes three several appellations, but in different places. The upper part is named the Catawba, the middle is the Wateree, which appellation is continued to it as far as the confluence of the great Congarees river, on its south-west side, from thence it is
201called the Santee to its mouth at Cape Roman or Carteret.
The Catawba river, from its source in the Apalachian or Alegany mountains in North Carolina, to the mouth of Santee in the Atlantic ocean on the coast of South-Carolina, is nearly six hundred miles in length, along with its meanders, and almost five hundred miles in a straight line; containing an astonishing quantity of water. Including the other branches of this river, which also fall into the Santee, it passes through a country as rich and fertile, and contains on and adjoining its waters as large a quantity of fine land, as any river of its extent in the universe.
Camden is a place of considerable commerce, and is improving very fast, but I do not think it meriting the pains, fatigue, and trouble, I have taken to see it, for I can discover nothing particularly remarkable, either in the town, or in the country around it.
It is about an hundred and fifty miles, in a direct course, from Salisbury; but is an hundred and eighty, or near two hundred miles, by the circuitous route I made by the Catawbas, and between one hundred and sixty and an hundred and eighty miles from Charles Town.
There is no hill, scarcely an eminence near it, excepting Santee hills, about thirty miles to the eastward, on the same side of the river, but at the distance of several miles from the banks, and they
203continue in a chain, nearly in the same direction, for thirty or forty miles farther.
Here the land is divided into first and second low grounds, and high lands or barrens.
The first and second low grounds are what is cultivated, and formed into plantations, producing crops of Indian corn, rice, and indigo.
The high or barren land is divided into oak and pine barrens; of which the oak is always the sign of the more fertile soil, for the pine barrens are only pine or fir-trees growing, scattered promiscuously, in a bed of loose, deep sand, which scarcely produces a single blade of verdure, and is excessively fatiguing and troublesome for either horses or men to travel through, every step therein sinking almost to the knee.
In the woods, especially in the low-grounds of all the rivers, creeks and branches of water, vast quantities of reeds spontaneously vegetate, and are in a perpetual state of verdure, affording most
204excellent food for cattle and horses, which keep fat upon this provender all the year round; for no provision or forage of any kind is required to be laid in for them against the winter, as during that season they are the fattest.
For here all the inclemency of the weather is in the summer, when the intenseness of the heat, and the scorching rays of the sun, the multitudes of noxious and troublesome flies, and innumerable other pernicious insects, continually exhaust, prey upon, and torment every living creature in the fields and woods, sucking their blood, fretting, and torturing them almost to death; so that at this time of the year, every kind of beast falls away, and be comes miserably poor and lean. For even to mankind, with all his resources and advantages, the heat then becomes intolerable, nor can he find any shelter or defence against the assaults of these flies, insects, and poisonous reptiles, that then infest the whole surface of nature.
The country is throughout one continued plain and forest, with the plantations and settlements formed only upon the sides of the rivers and water-courses. The inhabitants are a feeble race, of a tawney, or yellowish hue, and sallow, cadaverous complexions; but many of the rice and indigo planters in this neighbourhood are very gay and opulent.
Even the Negroes are shrivelled, and diminutive in size, compared with those in Virginia; nor is their value equal, as I am informed, to theirs by near fifty per cent.
The culture of both rice and indigo is extremely unwholsome, as the former must be covered with water, during the greater part of the time of its vegetation; and the putrid exhalations, proceeding from the stagnated water, must be particularly injurious to health, and occasion obstinate intermittents.
The indigo also requires a great deal of water in its manufacture, and soon becomes rotten and putrid in this sultry climate: afterwards nothing can be more
206offensive and insalubrious than it is; yet, in that state of the highest putrescence, they manure their lands with it, spreading it over their fields whilst wet and stinking, which thereby become abominably noisome, and absolutely render the whole surrounding atmosphere, within the influence or contact of the offensive putrid effluvia, extremely deleterious and baneful.
South-Carolina was, for a long time, without a single court of judicature for the distribution of law, justice, or equity, throughout its whole extent, excepting at Charles Town, the metropolis, which was a grievance of very great magnitude to individuals, and really detrimental to the province at large; to palliate which, the jurisdiction of single magistrates was enlarged, and extended. However, it was peculiarly beneficial to the inhabitants of Charles Town, who were in a great measure enriched thereby, as a vast concourse of people from every part of the province,
207as well as from other governments, were then drawn there perpetually.
But lately, South-Carolina has been divided into six distinct districts: viz. George Town, Charles Town, Beaufort, Orangesburg, Camden, and Chawraw: at the capital, or chief town of each of which, courts of justice, common-pleas, quarter-sessions, &c. are established, and regularly held. Since that period, the whole country has been considerably benefited by the measure, and has flourished exceedingly,
In the calculation, made by the Congress, of the number of inhabitants in each state, South-Carolina is said to contain two hundred and twenty-five thousand one hundred and sixteen, of which one fifth part only are Whites. I have good reason to believe this number to be exaggerated about twenty-five thousand one hundred and sixteen.
This country has also decreased in population considerably since the rebellion, especially since the evacuation of Charles Town,
208when it is supposed near ten thousand; inhabitants left the province.
Throughout all this large and valuable province, there are only three sea-ports; the chief of which is Charles Town, with George Town on the north-east, and Port Royal on the south-west: the latter has much the best harbour of the whole, the other two being incumbered with bars at their entrance, which render them inaccessible to large ships, and difficult to any, especially as several of these banks and quicksands are reported to fluctuate, and frequently change their position.
Having soon sufficiently gratified my curiosity in Camden and its vicinity, and hearing much conversation again concerning Henderson's settlement on Kentucky, the rout to which being now thought safe, I changed my design of proceeding to Charles-Town, for that of art expedition to the Ohio, which had long been the first object of my wishes; intending to defer visiting Charles-Town, Savannah, Augusta, St. Augustine, &c. until after my return from Kentucky.
Accordingly I set out for Salisbury, by the nearest way, intending to pass through the Moravian towns on my journey from thence to Hillsborough, from which place I proposed to begin my expedition to Henderson's new settlement; these Moravians and their towns having been the
210only objects and places deserving attention, that escaped my observation on my progress southward.
It was about the last of April when I departed from Camden, the heat of the weather was increasing fast, and began to be troublesome: but this was the very best season of the year to enter upon my present hazardous undertaking.
On the third day at noon my guide Clifton took his last farewell of me, being nearly opposite to Charlottesburg, the place of his residence.
Having found him extremely useful and attentive, in return for his services and fidelity, I presented him with a gratuity of eight dollars at parting, over and above his scanty wages, at which the poor fellow was absolutely over-joyed, and, as I have frequently heard since, has resounded my praises, and his gratitude, far and near.
It may not be improper here to observe, how very troublesome and disagreeable the extreme curiosity of the lower class of
211inhabitants at first appears to strangers and travellers.
I was for a long time exceedingly pestered with the impertinent interrogations of, ‘What was my business? What I sought after? Where did I intend to settle? and What brought me to this country?’
As I always found some expedient to evade answering these questions, each resolved his own in the manner his imaginations and conjectures inclined him to believe, and they were all satisfied; but every one was pressing for me to fix my residenne in his neighbourhood.
My honest guide first took it into his head, that I was endeavouring to discover a judicious situation to commence and extend an European commerce; but finding that I passed by and overlooked the most excellent spots for that purpose, and that I took great notice of the face of the country, and of the quality and fertility of the soil, and examined into the state, nature, and mode of agriculture, as I passed; all
212these, with my avowed intentions, which I had frequently expressed, of visiting Henderson's settlement on Kentucky, induced him at length to alter his first opinion, and form an absolute conclusion, that I was a speculator in lands, sparing neither trouble, expence, nor enquiry to discover the finest land, and best bargains, to make purchases of.
This supposititious report he constantly circulated, and it spread with great celerity to an astonishing extent. However, I never found any injury or prejudice attend me on that account, but rather the reverse, for every person appeared studious to contribute to my amusement and information wherever I went, and by this means I acquired a degree of knowledge, which otherwise could not have been obtained in double the time; and besides I was always beheld in a respectable light.
As I rode easy journies, it was on the fourth day after my departure from Camden that I arrived at Salisbury.
Here I remained but one night, and set out next morning very early for the Moravian towns, which lie almost due north from Salisbury.
I crossed Grant's Creek about four miles from the town, and just above its mouth I crossed the Yadkin, at a very bad ford, about nine or ten miles from Salisbury.
About ten miles farther I forded the Moravian River at its mouth, just above where it enters the Yadkin, and rode along an exceeding bad rough road up the western side of the river, until I arrived at Bethania, which is the most westerly and northerly of all the
214Moravian towns, being about fifty miles from Salisbury.
It stands upon a water-course named Bethania Creek, which is a considerable branch of the Moravian River.
It was late at night before I arrived. I was extremely fatigued, and departed next morning for Bethabara, which I reached to breakfast, after fording another branch of the Moravian River, about six miles on this side of Bethania.
This town is ten miles from the other; but being informed that Salem was the principal, I immediately proceeded on after breakfast, and arrived there about noon, this place being only about seven miles distant from Bethabara.
This society, sect, or fraternity of the Moravians have every thing in common, and are possessed of a very large and extensive property.
They have a kind of monastic institution in their internal police, and in bringing up and educating the younger of both sexes, who are totally secluded
215from conversation, or intercourse, with each other, until marriage; after which a house, a portion of land, stock, and utensils of every kind, are allotted each couple, and the produce of their labour and industry is deposited in the common stock.
From their infancy they are instructed in every branch of useful and common literature, as well as in mechanical knowledge and labour, which even then is converted to beneficial and profitable purposes, for the emolument of the community at large.
But their peculiar uniformity in dress, and the long beards of the men of that particular sect of them, commonly called Dunkards, have a very singular, striking, and uncouth appearance.
The children are separated from their parents during their earliest infancy, and are brought up altogether, each sect distinct from the other, in a kind of seminaries, as belonging only to the whole society, to whom collectively a parental affection is by this means assiduously
216inculcated, cherished, and established; and all personal attachments and paternal love and regard are as diligently checked, discouraged, diminished, and, in a great degree, annihilated.
It is said that parents actually cannot distinguish their own offspring from others; and that the children also as soon forget every trace by which they might recognize their parents: as they are separated during the earliest stage of infancy, this is readily accomplished and easily accounted for.
It is also reported that those members of the society who have arrived at years of maturity, particularly the rulers or elders, enjoy their women in common, so that the parents on one side are difficult to be ascertained. This circumstance, however, though much and almost universally credited, they themselves absolutely deny; and I shall not undertake to pronounce a decision, or even an opinion, one way or the other.
The Moravians have many excellent and very valuable farms, on which they make large quantities of butter, flour, and provisions, for exportation.
They also possess a number of useful and lucrative manufactures, particularly a very extensive one of earthen ware, which they have brought to great perfection, and supply the whole country with it for some hundred miles around.
In short, although they very carefully preserve themselves from intermixing with, and detached from every other sect, society, or order of people, yet they certainly are valuable subjects, and by their unremitting industry and labour have brought a large extent of wild rugged country into a high state of population and improvement.
It is impossible for me to relate or discover one half of the singular manners, policy, customs, and peculiarities of the Moravians, during the very contracted residence I made amongst them, for I remained there but three days; and what
218I have mentioned is only a sketch of their exterior en passant.
And as I have no doubt but others have sufficiently explained the principles and minutiae of the internal government of this sect or fraternity, with the advantages of a better opportunity of information, and superior abilities and knowledge of the subject than I am able to boast of; therefore I conceive it is totally unnecessary for me to enlarge any farther upon that head on this occasion.
Salem, their principal town and settlement, is seven miles from Bethabara, seventeen from Bethania, about forty-five from Salisbury, and near ninety miles from Hillsborough.
It stands on Bellews Creek, a branch of the river Dan, which runs into or rather principally composes the Roanoak; although the other two Moravian towns are built upon branches of the Moravian River, or Creek, which is also pretty considerable, but falls into the Yadkin.
In the ride from Salisbury to Bethania, my sight was frequently regaled with a glimpse of the summit of Tryon mountains on my left, and the stupendous mountain of Ararat directly before me.
Coming from Bethania to Salem, I was extremely pleased with beholding the same mountains of Tryon on my right, the Moravian mountain on my left, and the Carraway Mountains in front, although it was but very seldom I could enjoy that pleasure; viz. only in passing over the summits of the high hills, appendages of these mountains.
The Moravian towns and settlements are situated on the base of the south west side of the Moravian Mountains, which are in fact only huge protuberances
220from, or appendages of, the stupendous Ararat on the north-west, and the Carraway Mountains on the south-east, to which they appear equally to belong.
The soil in general is rich and fertile, the face of the country rocky, broken, and mountainous, though many of the Moravian settlements are choice level spots, and the whole is extremely well watered with excellent streams of that fluid, light, clear, and wholesome, which are likewise converted, by the ingenuity, labour, and industry of the inhabitants, into the useful purposes of turning mills of many different kinds.
On the fourth day after my arrival at Salem I left it, and proceeded on my journey to Hillsborough; and, desiring to see as much of the country as possible, intended to take a very circuitous route to that place, by the lower road over the Allamance, as I had come out by the upper road over the Reedy River on my first journey south-westward.
For this purpose it was necessary for me to take a long ride along the base of the Carraway mountains, between the east side of them and the Deep River, a principal branch of the North-west or Cape Fear River.
Accordingly, at the distance of twelve miles from Salem, I arrived at the summit of the Carraway Mountains, at the north-east end of the ridge, an hour after sunrise.
Here I alighted as usual, to enjoy the pleasures of the grand, wild, and uncultivated scene of perspective around me.
The mountain is nearly half a mile broad on the summit, and on the south-west brow I first began to take a retrospective view of the beautiful scene which I was now leaving behind me. Tryon Mountain on the west; the Moravian Mountain on the north, brightened with the beams of the rising sun, over which the mighty Ararat erected his stupendous gilded head; the thick embrowned greenish forest below, intersected with the multitude of
222water-courses that fall into the meandering serpentine Yadkin, thinly spotted, as is common in these comprehensive, sylvan perspectives, with the settlements of the inhabitants of the earth, which were now darkened with the vast shadow of the mountains over-hanging them, that had as yet precluded them from a sight of the grand luminary of nature.
Having long gazed with infinite pleasure, and without an alloy of satiety, on these admirable scenes, time, ever advancing, reminded me of the necessity of proceeding, if it was only to behold the equally grand and delightful perspective on the opposite side of the mountain.
This was a more bright and splendid scene than the past, for here the sun gilded every object, and at the same time that the magnitude, wildness, and extent of the view rendered it awful, the serene smiling sky and climate inspired the most pleasing and delightful sensations.
From this situation I could perceive the mountains beyond Haw River, and above
223Hillsborough, at a vast distance on the left; on the right an extension of view of the ridge of the Carraway Mountains, towering above each other in wild disorder; and in front the sight was bounded by the horizon at an immense distance, verging above the line of which appeared the hills of Allamance, and the high lands on each side of them; and the Deep River below and directly before me winding in beautiful serpentine meanders, as if issuing from underneath the mountain where on I stood, and spreading for a long way under the eye, as if drawn upon a carpet ; with the dark chasms containing Reedy River and the numerous other branches of the Haw; but the whole, as is constantly the appearance in this country, an immense unbounded forest, so perfectly overspread and totally covered with thick and seemingly impenetrable woods, that the thinly scattered human settlements can scarcely be ascertained by the eye, lost and confounded in the magnitude, grandeur,
224and immensity of the general objects which compose the surrounding, pleasing, awful scene.
The trees were all just putting forth their young and tender foliage, over which the sun beams displayed a beautiful chearful lustre. The birds were warbling forth their melodious and variegated notes, welcoming the vegetation of returning spring. Odoriferous gales, from every direction, pervaded the whole surrounding atmosphere, with the most elegant and grateful perfumes. But society, endearing delightful society, was wanting to form and complete the felicity of man.
With a solitary sigh, occasioned by, and expressive of, the want of a proper object to share, increase, and to whom I might communicate the pleasures of my imagination and senses, in the enjoyment of this elegant perspective, I left this charming spot (described in the last chapter), and proceeded down the declivity of the mountain.
Having dined at the ordinary at the foot of the Carraway ridge, where I had lodged formerly on my first expedition to the south-westward, at the place where the upper road from Hillsborough to Salisbury crosses this, I arrived at another indifferent house of public entertainment, where I was obliged to take up my residence for the night, after a journey of fifty miles, which, in this rough country,
226and bad roads, is indeed excessively fatiguing both for the horse and his rider.
Ever since I crossed the mountain I have been descending all day between the Deep River and the base of the Carraway Ridge, and never at any considerable distance from either.
This ordinary, where I lodged, is situated at the crossing of two great public roads, viz. that from the Moravian towns (in which I have journied since I left them), to Wilmington, Brunswick, &c. on the coast of the Atlantic, and the lower road or great trading path from Hillsborough to Salisbury, &c. which now was the way for me to proceed by.
Accordingly, in the morning, I took my left-hand cross-road, and after a long, but pleasant, ride down the eastern side of the Allamance Creek, I arrived at night at the house of a Mr. Michael Holt, a Dutchman, whose plantation was adjoining the creek, near the place where it enters the Haw River; having observed that I rode over a great deal of
227excellent land during these two days, the last of which I likewise travelled at least fifty miles.
Mr. Holt, although a High Dutchman, or rather the son of Dutch or German parents, for he himself was born in America, is a very loyal subject, and entertained me with great hospitality. He is a magistrate, possesses a considerable property, and has a large share of good sense and sound judgement, but without the least improvement from education, or the embellishment of any kind of polish, even in his exterior.
In the course of a long interesting conversation, with which he entertained me, and really afforded me a great deal of satisfaction and information by his sensible, blunt, and shrewd remarks on every subject occasionally, he explained the whole grounds, proceedings, and termination of that most unfortunate and much to be lamented affair of the Regulators, which made so great a noise in North Carolina, their scene of action, as well as in all America besides.
But, to avoid throwing reflections and censure, however just or otherwise, on characters of persons still in existence, out of whose power it is now ever to atone for their former, perhaps ill-timed, unfortunate, and mistaken conduct, I shall suffer it to rest in oblivion, only observing that those unhappy, ill-fated victims, the Regulators of North Carolina, were, and still are among the worthiest, steadiest, and most respectable friends to British government and real constitutional freedom. But oppression, misrepresentation, and ill fortune seem ever to have been the attendants on, and inauspicious fate of exemplary loyalty and virtue.
I left Mr. Holt on the second day after breakfast, and crossing the Haw River, &c. at a very good ford, arrived at Hillsborough to dinner, having rode only about twenty-six miles.
[This Mr. Holt, of Orange county, some Americans from Guildford county, almost all the Chiefs of the former
229Regulators, and about fifty or sixty of the principal men of the Scots Highland Emigrants of the settlement of Cross Creek, all under the command of Lieutenant-colonel Donald Mac Donald, as brigadier-general (now in London), having received great encouragement and particular directions from Governor Martin, his Majesty's Governor of North Carolina, to array the loyal inhabitants as militia in arms, who are very numerous in this province, he having promised to support them with arms, ammunition, money, and troops, if they could penetrate as far as Wilmington, or Brunswick, before which he lay at anchor in the river of Cape Fear on board a vessel of war, accordingly raised and arrayed about fifteen hundred men within a few days.
But having very imprudently delayed time for several weeks afterwards, and having committed some other capital blunders and mistakes, which however they were in some measure compelled to do,
230much against Colonel Mac Donald's inclinations, and out of his power to prevent, this afforded the rebels an opportunity to assemble and collect in great force from every quarter around, to the number of six or eight thousand men, tolerably well armed, to oppose their progress.
Yet, in the face of so vast a superiority, this handful of brave men, without arms for one-sixth of their number, and even these almost entirely destitute of ammunition, marched boldly on, forcing their way, with great spirit and resolution, for eighty miles to More's Creek Bridge, within sixteen miles of Wilmington.
Here (on finding themselves unsupported, Colonel Mac Donald also being very sick, and unable to command) by falling into divisions and dissensions among themselves and other injudicious measures, in attempting to cross this rivulet in the face of works thrown up and lined by very superior numbers of the enemy under cover, and supported
231likewise by several pieces of artillery, at a place where it was not fordable, upon a wooden bridge, the planks of which had been taken up, and the beams and sleepers greased and rendered slippery and impassable by the rebels, they met with a total defeat, several being killed, (particularly a gallant officer, Captain Mac Leod, &c.) fighting bravely with their broad swords.
General Mac Donald, who, as I have already mentioned, happened then to be extremely ill, and almost all their officers being taken prisoners, were treated with the utmost rigour and barbarity, to a degree scarcely credible among civilized nations.
These gentlemen were all dragged through the country in triumph, in the most distressed miserable condition, destitute even of common necessaries, and were at last distributed in prisons and wretched places of restraint, constructed for the particular purposes of cruelty, through the distant inland parts of Virginia, Maryland, and Pensylvania; and very few of them
232indeed have ever been able to return to their unhappy, disconsolate, helpless families and homes
General Mac Donald, Mr. Holt, and about thirty of the principals persons amongst them, were brought to Philadelphia in that wretched condition, and thrown into prison, where I, being then also in close confinement in the same place, had the melancholy, mortifying satisfaction of seeing and conversing with my old friendly, hospitable Dutchman once more: however, he contrived to make interest with the Congress to permit him to return again to his family and home, which they also granted to all of them who were natives of America, excepting a very worthy officer, Captain Leggit.
But the gallant brave old general, a man then near seventy years of age, who had been almost half a century an officer in his majesty's service, was most ignominiously and inhumanly treated, being rigidly and
233cruelly confined in a close room, secured with iron doors and bars, along with nine gentlemen besides, in the most sultry weather, and hot climate, during the summer; for he magnanimously and nobly declined their offers of partial indulgence to himself, unless it was extended to the rest of his officers, which the Congress, to its eternal disgrace and infamy, absolutely refused, for no reason whatsoever but on account of their zealous and exemplary loyalty and resolution.
This worthy old officer General Mac Donald was at length exchanged along with General Prescott, for an American Colonel Mac Gaw, and the American General Alexander, or pretended Earl of Stirling.]
My horse, although an excellent one, being, as well as myself, a good deal fatigued and stiff with travelling, I remained three days at Hillsborough, for the benefit of rest and refreshment.
As I observed before, Hillsborough is the capital of a district, of which there are six in the province, where supreme courts of judicature, with extensive and peculiar jurisdictions, are held twice a year: each district contains a certain number of counties, of which there are thirty-two in the whole state. Every county also holds a court quarterly at a court-house erected in the most central place of each; besides those supreme courts for the districts.
Within the whole province of North-Carolina, there is not one good harbour,
235being all obstructed with bars, and fluctuating sand-banks. That of Brunswick and Wilmington on Cape Fear river is the best, but none will admit ships of great burden.
North-Carolina was computed to contain about three hundred thousand inhabitants, in the late calculation made by the Congress, and to have a larger proportion of Whites than any other of the southern provinces, that is, more than a third, and nearly one half. But I am well assured that this calculation was exaggerated above thirty thousand at least; and North-Carolina has decreased in population very much indeed since the commencement of the late fatal hostilities, more in proportion than any other state.
On the fourth day, early in the morning, I set out in great spirits for the lower Sawra towns, on the banks of the Dan river, the largest and most southern branch of the Roanoak, being the first commencement of my journey to Henderson's famed new settlement on Kentucky.
In the beginning of this day's ride, I was particularly unfortunate in losing my way among the various, different, perplexing paths and tracks that are met with on the north-west side of Hillsborough, among which no particular road can be distinguished in pre-eminence.
It was also unlucky for me that the greater number of the inhabitants on the plantations, where I called to enquire my way, being Germans, neither understood my questions, nor could render themselves intelligible to me; and the few I chanced to find, that did understand English, being chiefly natives of Ireland, most wretchedly ignorant and uncivilized, could give me no directions to ascertain the right way, having scarcely ever even heard of the name of the Sawras.
By this means I am confident that I rode over the distance of twenty-five miles before I had reached, in a direct line, ten miles from Hillsborough, from whence I had set out in the morning.
At length, after infinite difficulty, I discovered something like a path or road, which however could scarcely be ascertained, or followed, having been blazed and marked out some years before, but by its privacy, unfrequented direction, and want of use, had grown up again, so as to be even perceived at all with the utmost trouble.
Its course and continuance however, being pretty straight, enabled me to pursue it, which I did for this whole day with a mind filled and agitated with doubts and dilemmas, without once seeing a house, or the least vestige of a human habitation, from about ten miles north-west of Hillsborough.
The disagreeableness of my situation, and the anxiety of my mind, were not a little aggravated by the uncertainty whether or not this path or road, dull, difficult, and almost indeed imperceptible as it was, actually led towards the Sawra towns; as also, by the total want of food, or any kind of refreshment during the whole day, excepting a draught of water out of a brook running through a
238little glade or savannah, in which, I had alighted, and remained half an hour, for my horse to feed on the fine luxuriant grass with which it abounded, who was still less able to subsist without some kind of nourishment than I was, on account of the superior degree of fatigue he was compelled to undergo.
At the approach of night, my uneasiness and anxiety increased to a very heavy and painful degree, for there was no habitation within many miles distance around me, in the midst of an immense, universal, gloomy forest, abounding, and extremely infested with wild beasts, whose dismal howls and different horrid yells and cries began to resound through the woods on every side as night approached; and I was absolutely destitute not only of a great-coat, cloak, or blanket, to protect me from the cold of the night, and the dews, but likewise even of the means of making a fire to remain by, which is the only effectual method of preventing the approach of the ravenous wild beasts of the forest, that
239might otherwise be so daring as to attack, and perhaps devour the defenceless traveller.
My apprehensions were not a little magnified by a total want of confidence in my own abilities as a wood's-man, for in that most necessary acquisition, and for travelling in this country, indispensible qualification, I was yet a perfect novice, being perpetually subject to get bewildered and lost in going only the distance of five miles through the woods without a path.
In my present situation, I had advanced a long day's ride into the heart of this desart and uninhabited forest, even uncertain whether the almost imperceptible path I was in, led to the place I wished to gain: besides, in the supposition that it did lead to it, it must still be at the distance of another day's ride, which, in every probability, was also destitute of inhabitants, and equally infested with and abounding in difficulty and dangers.
I had been so negligent and thoughtless as to make little enquiry about this circumstance before I left Hillsborough, and in
240what I did make, could receive no kind of satisfaction, for there was not a single person in or near Hillsborough, who had ever travelled that way.
Nor had I been more provident in laying in some little stock of provision or refreshment, and other conveniences and necessaries for such a journey; never imagining that there were no inhabitants for the greater part of the way.
In this disagreeable, distressing dilemma, and anxious uncertainty, agitated with every painful reflection, I began to think of returning to Hillsborough.
This idea was strong on my mind, during one hour's time, on the approach of night; but still I proceeded on, deliberating on the consequences of the determination either way.
At length, recollecting, that even if I concluded to return, I should be under the necessity of remaining all night in these dismal woods, without a fire, or covering, and destitute of every protection or defence against the approaches and
241attacks of the surrounding wild beasts, whose loud roaring and hideous yells continually assailed mine ears, or else I must travel back again all night: in this case I considered, that as I found such difficulty in ascertaining and following this dull path in advancing forwards during this day, with all the advantages of light, it would be absolutely impossible to retrace it one hundred yards back in a dark night, the consequences of which must be, that of being entirely bewildered and lost in the woods, and in all probability, perishing in the immense unbounded forest, before I could arrive at a human habitation.
These considerations determined me to persist in my journey, and to pursue the path forwards to some settlement, which, in every human probability, it must at length conduct me to.
In this resolution I pushed boldly and briskly on, until I came to a very considerable stream of water, in the low grounds of which I was much puzzled to trace the continuance of the path.
This rivulet is named Hycoe creek ( as I have been informed since) and the place where I crossed was so very miry, that my horse had almost sunk down in it under me.
I was now in great expectations of finding some settlement, the land upon each side of this water-course being exceedingly rich and fertile, but, much to my mortification, I travelled through these valuable low grounds, re-ascended the high lands, and rode on some miles, without the least appearance of a human habitation.
At length, to my unspeakable comfort, when hope was almost fled, and the gloom, of evening had considerably advanced, I heard the barking of a dog, and the lowing of oxen; I immediately struck out of the path, and endeavoured, by the nearest way through the woods, to gain the place from whence these agreeable and welcome sounds proceeded.
But in this attempt it was my fortune to encounter farther disappointments, and insuperable obstacles, for I soon met with
243an impenetrable thicket of young hiccory saplings, growing so near to each other, and their branches so perfectly interwoven, and entangled together, that it totally obstructed my farther progress, and compelled me to return to the path I had just left: even this also was a task of difficulty, for in searching after it I was for some time entirely lost and bewildered, before I was able again to discover it.
Having at length found the path, and, pursuing it on very eagerly, I soon arrived at the low grounds of another considerable rivulet, which ran in such a serpentine direction, and with so many winding meanders, that the path crossed it five times within the distance of half a mile.
It was now become so dark, and especially in these low grounds, covered and overshadowed with the intermixing branches of the lofty thick woods, of which almost every tree was overgrown with prodigious vines, whose numerous branches and extensive foliage added to the gloom, and darkness below, that I could, no longer
244perceive the path, and consequently found it impossible to proceed much farther.
I was now in a situation and predicament the most disagreeable and distressing that can be conceived; the ground beneath me wet miry and sinking under my horse, his legs entangled in the vines, bambooes, briars, brush and under-wood, which prevented him from proceeding in any direction; the path entirely lost, not knowing even on which side I had deviated from it; infects, reptiles, and serpents of the most poisonous, deadly, and fatal nature, swarming in the woods, and on the ground, and the wild beasts howling hideously around me; the night excessively dark, overcast and threatening rain; no possibility of striking a light, or making a fire, and totally unprotected and defenceless against the attacks of all those surrounding, formidable foes.
My situation, as represented in the conclusion of the last chapter, was not rendered less mortifying by the certainty of a house and inhabitants being near, which was put beyond a doubt by the lowing of the oxen and the barking of the dogs, that I had heard, although I had found it impracticable to reach the place from whence those desirable sounds seemed to proceed.
At length I bethought myself of calling out as loud as I was able. This expedient succeeded to my wish, for, after I had hallooed several times as loudly as I could vociferate, to my great surprize and inexpressible satisfaction and pleasure, I was answered by a human voice, which seemed to come from some person on an eminence, just above the spot whereon I was fixed.
However, being unable to approach the place where he was, I continued to call aloud, and was regularly answered by the same voice, until in a short time a Negro arrived at the dismal thicket wherein I was fast entangled.
It was with the utmost difficulty, and a considerable time before he was able to extricate me from this perplexing and perilous situation, but at length he effected it, and brought me once more to the comfortable and much-wanted assistance of society.
The poor Negro himself, although accustomed to the woods, appeared astonished at the dangerous and dreadful situation in which he found me, and seemed almost equally rejoiced with myself at my fortunate deliverance.
The house and plantation to which the Negro slave conducted me, belonged to a Mr. Hart his master, who received and entertained me with the greatest hospitality and kindness; but what added to my astonishment and agreeable surprize was,
247to find the proprietor, not only a polished member of society, but almost an accomplished and complete gentleman.
To meet with such a person in the wild back woods of America, in a situation the most recluse, solitary and unfrequented, and at so great a distance from the inhabitants, who are themselves little better, perhaps much worse, than savages, especially at a time when I stood so much in need of assistance, was altogether unexpected, and afforded me a gratification and pleasure, thus enhanced by these attending circumstances, not to be described in language.
The refreshments, comforts, and consolation he bestowed upon me with a liberal hand, appeared to afford even a superior degree of satisfaction and felicity to him, than to me; and he pressed me to remain there the day following, which was wet and rainy, to rest and refresh both myself and my horse, and to recover from the severe fatigue and hardships we had undergone.
In the course of the ensuing day, we took an opportunity of visiting, and more narrowly examining the spot wherein I had been stopt, and from whence the Negro had extricated me. The slave conducted us to it.
It was indeed the most disagreeable and dangerous place imaginable: a deep miry swamp overgrown with briars, bambooes, and poisonous vines, among which my horse and I had been so perplexed and entangled.
Fortunate it was for us both that we met with those impediments, for had we proceeded only ten yards farther, both my horse and myself must have inevitably perished in a quagmire, or deep morass, from which no possible assistance could have rescued or preserved us.
We returned to the house, admiring with gratitude at this hair-breadth providential deliverance, and early on the morning following I took my last farewell of the humane benevolent Mr. Hart, and proceeded on my journey, very little better provided against contingencies than
249before, but perfectly refreshed and recovered from my fatigue, with my horse also in high spirits.
The last mentioned rivulet, the low grounds of which had been the scene of my principal difficulties and perils, and on the high land adjoining it the worthy and benevolent Mr. Hart's plantation was situated, is named Country Line creek.
There is a small settlement on the choice land on the banks of these two rivulets, the Hycoe and the Country Line, which are considerable streams of water, that run into the Dan River at the distance of fifty miles from this place.
Having made a very early breakfast before I departed, and having been shown the continuance of the former dull, difficult, blind path, whose direction to the Sawra Towns was now ascertained to my sufficient satisfaction, I travelled during all this long day likewise, until late in the afternoon, without once discovering the least vestige of a human settlement, or habitation.
But about that time, as I advanced on the summit of a considerable hill, I could plainly perceive mountains, vast valleys, and deep chasms, precipices, and ravines on my right: for I observed, that the face of the country had been becoming more and more uneven, broken, and rugged, and the eminences had been gradually swelling into higher hills, as I proceeded on, for the last ten or twelve miles.
I now perceived a path on my right, which appeared plainer than that I had travelled in so long: this raised my doubts, but at length determined me to continue to pursue that which was the dullest.
Fortunately for me, my decision was right in this instance, for in the evening I arrived at the Sawra Towns, after encountering some further difficulties in ascertaining the right way among the variety of different tracks I met with immediately on entering the vicinity of the settlement.
At the Sawra Towns, I lodged at the house of a Mr. Bailey, on the banks of the
251river Dan, a common plain back wood's planter, with a large family of Bel Savages, a hospitable, but uncultivated mind, and rude manners.
Mr. Bailey had only one room, and one bed, in his house, on which he and his wife were accustomed to sleep: this they very kindly offered to accommodate me with, but as they were advanced in years, and I was young and healthy, although superior in rank and appearance to them, I could not think of accepting their very generous offer, but took my chance on a pallet spread on the floor from one side of the room to the other, on which every person of the family, excepting the master and mistress, lay promiscuously, men and women, boys and girls.
The weather being uncommonly warm, I found the pallet by far the most agreeble place of repose, and I arose early in the morning with the rest of the family, which consisted, besides some slaves and his small children the little boys and girls, of several sons grown up to maturity, and
252three young women his daughters, the youngest of whom was just fifteen years old, a most lovely charming brunette, named Betsy, of a shape and features perfectly exquisite and expressive, and endued with a mind and manners, mild, gentle, and delicate, yet quite in a state of nature, unincumbered with polished refinements or fashionable ceremony, and unimproved by education, acquired knowledge, and modern accomplishments,
Mr. Bailey and all his family joined in entreating me to stay with them some days; and, as I really stood in great need of rest and refreshment, it was with infinite satisfaction that I complied with their very friendly hospitable request.
During ten days that I remained at the Sawra Towns, I found the lovely Betsy my kind friend and constant companion. She endeavoured to please, and she gave delight. Although truly, and in the most liberal sense, the child of nature, without an alloy either of art or dissimulation, I actually discovered in her mind a degree
253of generosity, sentiment, and the most delicate sensibility, that very few of the more polished and accomplished ladies can boast of.
She absolutely gained on my affections every moment, and it required the utmost exertions of resolution to tear myself at last from her delightful company. But the image of the lovely Betsy Bailey can never be erased from my mind, and it is with pleasure I cherish her remembrance.
The Sawras, although once a considerable nation of Indians, have been long extinct: there is not even a single family or trace of them remaining, excepting these vestiges of their towns, which still continue to support their name, this being fortunately preserved as the appellation of these two settlements.
The upper Sawra Towns are trifling and insignificant, compared with the lower Sawra Towns, which is an extremely valuable settlement: and although I found more fatigue, and greater hardships, difficulties, and dangers in my journey hither, than in all my former travels through
254America, this place is not more than sixty-five miles from Hillsborough, and ninety-five from Salisbury, in the same county with the latter, viz. that of Roan, it is situated; being within only a very few miles of the northern boundary line of the province of North-Carolina.
The river Dan, at the lower Sawra towns, is near six hundred yards wide, rocky, rapid, bold, and containing a vast body of water; it arises in the Alegany mountains, near to the source of the river Ararat, a branch of the Yadkin, and at no great distance from the New River, which is the upper part, or most southward branch of the Great Kanhaway that falls into the Ohio.
The Dan is the largest of three great rivers, namely, the Dan, the Bannister, and the Stanton, which at their confluence compose the Roanoak, and in all appearance this river alone, at the Sawra towns, contains a greater quantity of water than the Roanoak itself at Halifax, which is above two hundred miles below, and then it has received near an hundred
256large rivulets, besides the other two great rivers, the Bannister and the Stanton, in its course between these two places; yet the Dan, at the Sawra towns, is nearly twice as wide as the Roanoak is at Halifax.
This is a phenomenon difficult to be accounted for, and only reconciled to my ideas, or understanding, by the supposition of the vast quantity of water evaporated by the intensely hot beams of the sun, and by the air, during its course, and by still a more enormous proportion being constantly absorbed in the sandy soil through which it passes during the latter part of its progress.
I must confess that this solution is by no means a sufficient eclaircissement, therefore I shall not hazard any farther explanation, or conjecture, but leave it to the exercise of more ingenious minds, contenting myself with the bare relation of the mere matter of fact.
The length of this river from the source of the Dan, in the Alegany
257mountains, to Roanoak inlet on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean, is very extensive, being more than six hundred miles along with the meanders, and not less than five hundred miles in a direct line.
The whole settlement of the lower Sawra Towns, being a vast body of excellent and most valuable land, containing thirty-three thousand acres, of which more than nine thousand are exceedingly rich low grounds, is the property of Mr. Farley, of the island of Antigua in the West Indies, and formerly belonged to the late Col. William Byrd, of Westover, on James River, in Virginia.
About the year seventeen hundred and sixty-one, Mr. Byrd sold the whole of this large, valuable, and extensive tract of land to a Mr. Maxwell, for only five hundred pounds, who concluded the purchase without seeing it.
In the spring of the ensuing year, he went out to view his new estate.
It happened, just at that time, that a prodigious flood in the Dan had overspread
258the whole of the low lands on the river, of which near ten thousand acres were covered by the inundation.
This extraordinary circumstance, and very awful appearance, astonished and intimidated Mr. Maxwell, who, on his return to Westover, expressing dissatisfaction with his purchase, Mr. Byrd, with a generosity for which he was distinguished, returned him the five hundred pounds, and received again the property of his lands.
That same year, in the fall, or autumn, Mr. Farley of Antigua, being on a visit at Westover, in Virginia, and having understood that Col. Byrd had a large tract of excellent land in the back country to dispose of, after being informed of the number of acres, immediately offered one thousand pounds for the purchase, without ever having seen it also; which offer was as readily accepted.
Mr. Farley, having returned to Antigua, suffered it to remain in this uncultivated, unimproved state, and never went near it, until the year one thousand seven hundred and sixty-nine, when he sent his son, James
259Parke Farley, Esq. into Virginia, who ventured out that distance into the back country to view the estate, and after some difficulty in removing accidental settlers, who had taken possession of such parts thereof as they best approved without any legal right or authority, divided it into numerous plantations and farms, which he rented out, keeping in his own hands, a most valuable excellent tract, the choice of the whole; on this plantation he settled a great number of slaves, and a vast stock, all of which also increased prodigiously.
In short the value of this estate has augmented so exceedingly, that in the year seventeen hundred and seventy-two, Mr. Farley refused twenty-eight thousand pounds for the purchase of it. A mortifying circumstance and reflection this to Mr. Byrd, the first proprietor, who had transacted the business, and was then in existence and necessity; but somewhat alleviated by the younger Mr. Farley, in whose possession it was, having inter-married with
260his eldest daughter, so that by this means the estate was not entirely out of the family.
During the ten days of my residence at this place, we had frequent alarming accounts of the attacks, depredations, and shocking barbarities committed by the Indians on the White inhabitants, some distance beyond the Dan, about the head of Smith's River which falls into the Dan on the north side, almost opposite to the lower Sawra Towns.
This induced Mr. Bailey and his family, particularly the lovely, amiable Betsy, to be very strenuous and pressing in persuading me to defer the prosecution of my intended journey, and to proceed no farther, on account of the hardships, difficulties, and imminent dangers I must inevitably encounter, at this inauspicious period, in the pursuit of this proposed expedition to Henderson's new settlement on Kentucky, which was still a prodigious distance from me, no less than five hundred miles, and through the Indian country the greater part of the way.
They all very urgently and kindly requested me to remain along with them, during the ensuing summer; and had I at that time attended and given way to the bias of my inclinations, and the feelings of my heart, I should certainly have embraced their hospitable proposal with infinite pleasure.
But when I maturely considered the fatal consequences of yielding to the pleasing allurements of the senses, and the uncontrouled sway of the passions, at my early period of life, I summoned up all my fortitude and resolution to support and assist me in the conflict, determined to persist in my original undertaking, however perilous, and tear myself from this enchanting, but dangerous state of felicity.
I therefore finally concluded to proceed, notwithstanding the hazard and jeopardy attending my farther progress, arising from the alarming commotions of the Indians, which were now indeed sufficiently ascertained and authenticated.
When I related to Mr. Bailey the difficulty and hardships I had already encountered in my journey out to the Sawra Towns, he informed me, that the road or path, along which I had travelled, was first made and blazed about nine years before; but that it had been so very little frequented, and the bushes and underwood had grown up again so perfectly, that when he had occasion to go to Hillsborough, about two years ago, he could scarcely perceive it at all; but having a tomahawk with him, he blazed the trees on each side, as he went along, by which means he was enabled the more readily to find his way in returning; and that it was the remaining appearance of his blazing on the trees, by which I had been able to trace the path, else it must have been totally impracticable for me to have found or followed it at all; for he believed no person whatever, excepting himself and me, had travelled it for several years past, and very few indeed had ever used it, since its first existence.
The reason of its being so much unfrequented was, because what little intercourse and trade the inhabitants of the Sawra settlements carried on with the sea-ports, and more cultivated part of the country, was either by roads down along the side of the Dan and the Roanoak to Halifax, and Edenton, in North-Carolina, or across the country to Petersburg, and Richmond, &c. on James River, in Virginia.
While I was at the Sawra Towns, one day a little lad of Mr. Bayley's came to acquaint us that he had killed a horn snake, which being a curiosity that I was extremely desirous of observing and examining with particular attention, I accompanied him to the place where he said he had left it; but when we arrived there, to my great disappointment it was not to be found.
He assured me that it must not have been quite dead, and had recovered so much as to be able to crawl from the spot on which he had left it, and had secreted itself somewhere among the leaves.
However, every one, and all the inhabitants, with the greatest confidence asserted and avowed their having seen such snakes, though very seldom.
They represented them to me, as the most formidable and direful foes in existence to the human race, and to all animation; poisonous and fatal to a degree almost beyond credibility.
He is described as something resembling a black snake, but thicker, shorter, and of a colour more inclining to a dark brown. He never bites his adversary, but has a weapon in his tail, called his sting, of a hard, horny substance, in shape and appearance very much like to a cock's spur: with this he strikes his antagonist, or whatever object he aims at, when he least expects it, and if it penetrates the skin, it is inevitable and sudden death.
So very virulent is his poison, that it is reported, if he should miss the object he pointed at, and should strike his horn through the bark of a young sapling tree, if it penetrates into the sap or vital juice,
265the bark or rind will, within a few hours, swell, burst, and peel off, and the tree itself will perish.
As other serpents crawl upon their bellies, so can this; but he has another method of moving peculiar to his own species, which he always adopts when he is in eager pursuit of his prey; he throws himself into a circle, running rapidly round, advancing like a hoop, with his tail arising and pointing forward in the circle, by which he is always in the ready position of striking.
It is observed, they only make use of this method in attacking; for when they fly from their enemy, they go upon their bellies, like other serpents.
From the above circumstance, peculiar to themselves, they have also derived the appellation of hoop snakes.
Being firmly resolved to proceed on my expedition to Kentucky, I endeavoured to hire a guide from this place, but every one that I applied to declined it, both because they were as little acquainted with the way as myself, and on account of the
266disturbances, and violent outrages lately committed by the Indians, at which every person without exception was terrified in the highest degree.
They also endeavoured to communicate their panic, fears, and apprehensions to me; but my ignorance of the actual danger enabled me to resist, with effect, every attack of that nature, and determined me, although I could not obtain either a servant, guide, or companion, to persist in the enterprize, however hazardous; and I even concluded to set out alone.
On the fifteenth day of May I took my leave of Mr. Bailey and his family, every one of whom seemed to be really more concerned for my future safety than I could possibly have conceived, being all in tears, and appearing almost certain that I should be destroyed by the savages; having used their most earnest persuasions and utmost endeavours to change my resolution of proceeding on this journey.
The kind-hearted and truly amiable Betsy insisted on piloting me over the Dan herself, rather than any of her brothers, although the ford at this place was extremely rapid, rocky, and dangerous, particularly to those unacquainted therewith and with the intricate manner of passing it, the river being also very wide.
This I experienced to my cost, for being rather inattentive in following quite close to my beautiful young Amazonian conductor, who was on horseback, riding boldly like a man, my horse suddenly plunged with me into a deep place over both our heads, and we were carried down the current, a considerable distance, with great velocity.
Indeed it was with the utmost difficulty I reached the opposite shore at all, after the greatest hazard imaginable of being lost, notwithstanding both my horse and myself were excellent swimmers.
The concern of my lovely guide during this dangerous scene was inexpressible, and only equalled by her joy on my safe arrival on shore; the banks of which being so soft, steep, and interwoven with roots of trees, which entangled my horse's legs so much, that I could scarcely get him up at all: however, at length I accomplished it after several violent struggles.
There being no inhabitants on this side of the river, they having all abandoned their plantations, and fled into a
269stockaded fort, about thirty miles distance from thence, where they had taken refuge, upon some of them being found killed by the Indians, I was obliged to strike a light, and kindle a fire in the woods to dry my cloaths; in this my kind companion was as usual very serviceable to me, and in a little more than an hour we set out again on the journey, she insisting to accompany me some miles farther, in order to conduct me the right way which she represented as particularly intricate and difficult to find during that distance.
When we had rode about seven miles together, perceiving my lovely guide make no offer of returning, I insisted on our parting, on account of the extreme danger every person appeared to apprehend from the Indians by their having all left their habitations, which we found deserted and empty for the whole way on that side of the Dan.
Having at length, by an effort of all my resolution, overcome the struggle of parting with this lovely, kind, and affectionate friend, I was seized with a
270kind of languor, or carelessness of my fate, my mind and spirits being enervated and softened down with an inexpressibly painful sensibility, which rendered me regardless of whatever might befal me, and indeed quite inattentive to my way, so that in a very few hours, by pursuing the wrong path, I found myself in the woods without any tract whatever to direct my course, that in which I had been having terminated, being only made by the hogs, which run wild almost all over America, and especially in the western frontiers.
It was this disagreeable situation that first roused me from this lethargic, but painful reverie in which I had been absorbed, and I then eagerly pushed on in hopes, yet very doubtful, of finding some path to direct me, and indeed to enable me to travel at all, for it is with great difficulty a person on horseback can pass on through the woods at all where there is no path, on account of the roughness of the ground, the thickets of underwood, the
271branches of trees hanging low and intermingling with each other, and the numerous water-courses which are frequently altogether impassable for many miles.
It is impossible for me to ascertain how far I had travelled in this most disagreeable of all imaginable situations, when all on a sudden, on the side of a gentle ascent, I perceived a number of men sitting on the ground, and such they were as I had never seen before, painted black and red, and all armed with firelocks and tomahawks.
I was within the distance of fifty yards of them before I perceived them, and was absolutely rejoiced to fall in with them, my first idea being that they were hunters, white men, who frequently continue in the woods hunting, for several months together, without going near the inhabitants, or entering a house.
In this idea I immediately went up towards them with joy in my countenance, for in my bewildered condition it was really a pleasure to me to see any of my fellow
272creatures once more, and I did not know nor conceive danger, even from Indians.
But the instant they perceived me, one of them fell prostrate on the ground, and another jumped on his feet, put his hands to his mouth, and sent forth a most dreadful yell that made the whole woods resound; and seeing me coming boldly up towards them, he advanced a few steps to meet me, spoke some words I did not understand, and after pausing a while, held forth his hand towards me: I shook him heartily by the hand, and said I was very glad to meet with them, for I was lost; and intreated they would be so kind as direct me the way to Beaver Creek and Smith's River.
He answered again in a language that was to me altogether unintelligible, and I then found they were Indians; which discovery, however, did not at all alarm or intimidate me, because of my ignorance of the danger I was in.
Observing one of them point to a broad gold lace and stone buckle which was
273round the crown of my hat and glittered in the sun, I alighted from my horse, took it off, and buckled it round the head of him who had shaken hands with me and appeared to be the chief person among them. He seemed much pleased with the present, and made signs for me to sit down and eat with them: this I readily complied with, and partook of a repast, which consisted of venison, kernels of hickory nuts, and wall nuts, all mixed together with wild honey, and every one eat with his hands, dipping one of them into the victuals.
To be sure there was neither delicacy nor cleanliness in their manner of eating together, but the food was delicious, and exquisitely pleasant to the taste; and for my own part, having a keen appetite, I eat very heartily, which seemed to afford a particular satisfaction to my hospitable savage friends, for such indeed they were to me.
My horse, who had quite as much need of refreshment as me, was also regaling himself on the herbage, for I had turned him loose when I sat down to this Indian primitive feast.
The Indians and I made a shift to keep up a kind of conversation by signs and gestures, for I did not understand a single word of their language, and I did not then imagine that they understood me; but since that time I have had many reasons to believe that English was not altogther unintelligible to some of them, although they either could not, or would not attempt to speak it.
For after both I and my horse were sufficiently refreshed, having staid with them all night, one of the Indians was
275dispatched along with me, by him to whom I had made the present, and accompanied me for seven or eight miles, to put me into the right way to Beaver Creek, upon Smith's River; and after he had done so, and pointed out the course for me to proceed in, we shook hands and parted, he returned to his companions, and I pursued my journey along a very plain blazed path, that soon brought me to a large water-course, named Leatherwood Creek, which empties itself into Smith's River, a very capital branch of the Dan, the confluence of which is about four miles above the lower Sawra Towns, on the north side.
There were several fine plantations on the rich low grounds of this creek, but they were all deserted, not a single inhabitant was to be seen; their cattle, horses, &c. were wandering about their master's habitations, and conveyed to me the most mournful, melancholy, and dismal ideas that can be conceived.
About eight miles beyond Leatherwood Creek, I met a man on horseback, whose horse was covered with foam and sweat.
He seemed to be in the utmost astonishment at the sight of me, and asked me, "Where, in the name of God, I came from?" I answered him, I came yesterday from the Sawra Towns, and was on my way to the fort on Smith's River.
He then exclaimed, "Good God! did not I know that the Indians had taken up the hatchet, and had begun to kill the Whites?" and looking on the ground, "declared he saw their tracts," or the marks of their footsteps "there then;" and asked me "if I had not seen any of them? But why (said he) do I ask you that? If you had seen them, or they had seen you, I certainly should not have met you here, for they would either have scalped you, or have put you to death by their tortures."
I replied, "he was mistaken, for I had seen them, had ate and slept with them,
277and that they had been very kind to me, instead of scalping me, or putting me to death, as he imagined:" but he waited not to hear the last words of what I said, for as soon as he understood that I had seen them, he clapped whip and spurs to his horse back again, as fast as he could make him go, while I gazed after him, imagining the man was mad or delirious.
I rode on at my leisure, wondering at this man's strange conduct, and comparing it with that of the Indians towards me, it was not at all to their disadvantage.
I soon afterwards crossed another large water-course named Beaver Creek, not far from the fort, which also empties itself into Smith's River.
Upon this stream there was a very fine corn or grist mill, which was also abandoned by the proprietor, and had been left so suddenly, that the hopper remained half full of corn unground, while the other half was ground into meal, and in this condition it continued,
278the water being turned off from the mill-wheel.
Here I alighted, and fed my horse, and after he had eaten until he left, set out again on my journey.
In riding about two or three miles farther, I at length came to the fort itself, which contained all the inhabitants of the country around, men, women, and children crouded all together.
I was exceedingly happy at the thoughts of being once more among inhabitants, but this imaginary felicity was of very short duration, for when I went to the gate of the fort, expecting to go in, I was positively refused admittance.
My astonishment at this strange unaccountable conduct towards me could only be equalled by my concern at so grievous a disappointment and mortification, for all my entreaties and most earnest solicitations for permission to enter were in vain.
They within insisted that I was an enemy, or a Frenchman, because I had been in company with the Indians, and
279had escaped unmolested, and also as my accent was different from theirs.
This I found they were informed of by the man whom I met on horseback, and who turned back full speed as soon as I acquainted him of my having been with the Indians.
This man, it seems, had been dispatched as an express to the next fort, which was a considerable distance off, for assistance; and had also been directed to reconnoitre the country between; to discover, if he could, what danger was to be apprehended, whether the Indians were doing mischief; and what numbers of them were in the vicinity.
How well he executed his commission, his conduct, already related, evinces; as also how totally unfit he was for such a purpose, having fled with the utmost precipitation on even hearing of Indians, without waiting to discover whether they were hostile or friendly.
I continued to entreat for admittance until they threatened to fire upon me if I did not retire, which made me withdraw from the gate to consider what steps I must pursue, for I never found myself in so singular and unpleasant a predicament in my life.
However, the first thing I did was to turn my horse loose into a very fine field of green wheat that I observed on the banks of the river; and I wandered all round the country adjacent to the fort for several hours, totally at a loss what to do, or in what manner to proceed.
This was what is called a stockaded fort, but to any person, excepting those who have seen such in America, it would
281appear in no respect a place of arms, for there is nothing like an esplanade, counter-scarp, nor ditch, neither ramparts nor parapet, no out-post, out-centry, nor videttes; but it resembled a quadrangular polygon, inclosed with large timber, and cuts of trees split in two, about twelve or sixteen feet high above the ground, standing erect, and about three or four feet in the earth, and quite close together, with loop holes cut through about four or five feet from the ground for small arms.
There was also something like a bastion at each angle, which, however, could scarcely be said to flank the curtains; and a log-house, musket proof, on each side of the gate.
Within the area, nearly in the centre, was a common house framed and boarded, filled in, to the height of six feet, with stones and clay on the inside, as a defence against small arms; it was covered only with shingles made of pine, which could be easily set on fire as well as
282every other part of the whole structure, without exception.
I wandered round and round this fortress until night began to advance, and then ventured to approach the gate once more, soliciting for admittance, but with no better success than before.
I used every argument my mind could suggest to induce them to receive me; put them in mind I was but one man, and desired them to put me under guard if they suspected me after I was in, if they would only admit me; and beginning also to be under apprehensions for my own life, as the Indians would certainly be tempted to kill a person they saw straggling round the outside of the fort, although they did not molest me when I came up to them at a distance from it; and I also considered that although one party of them spared my life, another party might make no scruple of killing me, especially in so unfavourable a situation; this certain danger inspired me with a desperate determination,
283and I resolutely told them at the gate, that I must come in, represented the fatal consequences of my being left outside, and positively declared that I would absolutely set fire to the fort if they persisted in refusing me admittance.
They again threatening to shoot me, I assured them that I would as soon be killed by them as by the Indians, and solemnly swore I would set fire to the stockades.
Upon this, I was desired to wait a few minutes, until they consulted together; at the conclusion of which they agreed to admit me.
The wicker gate was then opened, and I crept in; but, good God! such a sight as was presented before mine eyes can scarcely be conceived in idea, much less described.
Such a motley crew of men, women, and children; such an abandoned set of miscreants, void of shame, but abounding with fear; such horrid imprecations, blasphemy, obsceneness, and every species
284of iniquity, I never before nor since have seen or heard of.
No subordination, no regularity, no propriety, no good conduct, not a single good word, I had almost said good thought, was there within those gates; but all was confusion, nastiness, and the most abominable wickedness.
To describe the detestable scenes of depravity that I was hourly witness of in this place, would be extremely irksome to myself, and disgusting to others; and on this account I shall pass them all over, only observing, that a set of more wicked, abandoned, shameless, and profligate miscreants never were nor can be collected together.
On the next day I proposed to take a walk about the fort, but they would not let me out at the gate.
However, on the day following I insisted upon it, and they threatened not to admit me again: but notwithstanding, I ventured out, and having saddled my horse, rode a great many miles round the
285country, without seeing a single inhabitant, or Indian.
I returned to the fort at night, and was admitted; having acquainted them with my observations, and the distance I had reconnoitred around, two young men proposed to accompany me next day, to visit their father's plantations.
Accordingly we three set out from the fort early in the morning, and went to one of their plantations, which was five miles off, where we found every thing unmolested, only the domestic animals were almost starved, and appeared rejoiced to see us.
The other plantation was twelve miles distant from this, and we visited it also; here a tame bear, which had been left, diverted us very much with his antic gestures, and his odd manner of saluting his two-legged brothers whom I had brought with me from the fort: but as, sooner or later, all, even the dearest of friends, must part, so must they, and the sorrow
286on the occasion was great, even as their joy had been, when they met.
We visited several other plantations, and the two young men concluding to return next day to their plantations to remain, we turned our horses heads towards the fort, where we arrived in the evening.
Having made our report concerning the occurrences of the day, and the appearance of peace and tranquility we had every where perceived, it was proposed for each person to return to his respective habitation on the day following; but timidity, distrust, and cowardice started a number of objections, which occasioned many warm debates on the subject; and at length it was concluded on to wait a few days longer, but in the mean time to dispatch two men on each quarter, to see that all was quiet, and that there was no appearance of Indians.
For my own part I determined on setting out early next morning to pursue my journey
287to Kentucky, having hired one of the young men, who accompanied me in our ride round the fort, to attend me in this journey, which he undertook to do with great alacrity, and seemed as eager to see that celebrated place as myself.
This fort is situated on a small eminence that commands a very fine view of Smith's River for several miles, and of the confluence of Beaver Creek; but it is only the low grounds of the river and creek on the north-east side that can be perceived; the lofty timber on the opposite banks of the river, as usual all over America, effectually prevents any greater distance being seen.
But the eminence, the fort is built upon, is by no means the highest in the vicinity; there are many, and some of them almost close to it, that altogether command it.
The low land on Smith's River and Beaver Creek is indeed excellent, but narrow: the high ground and hills, being very near the river on each side, are
289exceedingly rocky and steril; the roads, or rather paths, are as bad as can be conceived; and the houses and plantations are very indifferent indeed; but there is a great abundance of game, such as deer, bears, some panthers, wild cats, otters, raccoons, oppossums, wild turkeys, and all kinds of squirrels.
The growth of the timber on the low land is very large, but not equal to that on the low grounds of the Roanoak and the Dan: the soil is of a deep black colour, and rather light, but exceeding deep; however it is liable to be flooded.
The river is about fifty yards wide, but very much interrupted with old logs, large trees, &c. that have been brought down the stream by the floods after heavy rains; it is not rapid, but flows calmly along, in a smooth, gentle current, and it is fordable but in a very few places.
The high land, as I observed before, is very rough, rocky, and poor; some of it is rather light, and there is abundance of the valuable plant, or rather root of
290Ginseng found and gathered in the woods, which in China is accounted a specific for almost every disorder incident to the human frame, and sells for more than its weight in gold; here it sells for about fifteen pence currency, or a shilling sterling a pound.
The inhabitants, and negroes, likewise find and dig great quantities of snake-root, of each of the different kinds, which they also sell for nearly the same price as ginseng: this was exported to Europe, being sent by land-carriage to James River, where it was shipped, and British manufactures were taken in exchange for this as well as the rest of all their commodities, at very advanced prices.
They also sell great numbers of deer skins and furs; but the principal of their exports are hogs, which they raise in great numbers, and drive them, in droves of one, two, three, four, and five hundred together, to the falls of James River, and of Roanoak, and to the more populous parts of the country, as well as the sea-ports.
Some few black cattle are also brought from this part of the frontiers, but in no considerable numbers.
Deer skins, dried or cured with the hair on, are sold for about a shilling sterling a pound. Raccoon skins, about six-pence each. Otter skins, about two or three shillings each. Beaver, &c. in proportion.
Their hogs they sell alive, for about twelve shillings an hundred weight, that is, if they are bought there; but when driven down the country, they cost about twenty shillings sterling a hundred weight.
Black cattle sell nearly for the same prices.
Venison is excessively cheap, generally about half-a-crown for a whole deer, exclusive of the skin.
There is also a considerable quantity of tobacco cultivated here, which is almost all carried to James River, and sells there at the rate generally of sixteen, eighteen, or twenty shillings per hundred weight.
They make very little wheat, and use still less; the general price of wheat there at
292home is about half-a-crown per bushel, which is the measure they sell it by.
But the great support of the country is Indian corn, with which they subsist themselves, their negroes, their horses, and fatten their hogs, after they are in good plight by feeding on the acorns in the woods, which are always called Mast in America; of this there are some years amazing quantities, so that the hogs are frequently fattened with that alone, which they find themselves in the woods; but the pork is always soft, and for that reason, people generally feed them some little time upon Indian corn, after they appear sufficiently fatted with mast.
Indian corn is the great staff of life in America, and is measured by what is called the barrel there, which contains just five bushels, and the price then was a dollar, or four shillings and six pence sterling per barrel.
This however was accounted dear, for the general price is only three shillings per barrel, which is not quite seven pence
293halfpenny a bushel: the cheapest grain perhaps in the world; for it weighs from fifty to fifty-five pounds each the bushel.
As the culture of Indian corn is unknown in Great Britain, or at any rate but very little practised, a brief description of it may not be unacceptable.
Indian corn, which is in some places called Maize, is nearly as large as horse beans, being somewhat flat and flinty, of a yellowish white colour, sometimes red, and sometimes speckled.
It is contained in ears from eight to sixteen inches long, and from four to seven inches in circumference. In the middle is a hard substance called a cob, on which the grains grow close together, at right angles from it, and not obliquely like wheat, barley, or rye.
On each ear there are always either twelve or sixteen rows, and the whole is covered with a thick strong white husk, composed of three or four leaves or coats, which adhere to the whole very closely,
294and are each something more than the whole ear in length, to which they are united at the stalk, or lower extremity.
Indian corn is neither sown, nor reaped. It is planted and gathered.
The ground for it, is first plowed over one way, quite flush; this is crossed by furrows five or six feet asunder, and these by other furrows at right angles at similar distances, which divide the whole field into squares of five or six feet every way.
In each crossing, three grains of corn are dropped, and covered with a hand hoe; this is performed some time in the month of May, and is termed Planting of Corn.
After it has sprung up above the ground, when any is missing, or not come up, proceeding either from bad seed, or worms, vermin, and infects that destroy the tender shoots, the hills are supplied with fresh grains again, which is denominated Replanting the Corn.
It is afterwards plowed across the first furrows: the next plowing is across these;
295and so on alternately, until it is all plowed five times over; then it is weeded and chopped around the roots of the stalks with broad hand hoes; this is called Laying by the Corn.
In August and September it begins to blossom and shoot out ears, which is called To tassel, because beautiful, shining, silky tassels come out from the extreme end of the ears, and hang waving down.
These ears proceed from the joints, from the height of three to six feet above the ground.
There is also another beautiful blossom at the very top of the whole, which is in reality the male flowers, or farina, as the elegant shining silky tassels are the female; for this plant is both male and female in itself.
These tassels are as soft as silk, and of all different colours appearing very bright; glossy and delightful to the eye.
This state of it is denominated The Corn being in Silks.
It has been discovered that the fine farina from the male flowers, being carried by the wind and agitation of the air upon the female silky tassels, impregnate them, and fill the grain in the ears; for there is a tassel or silk proceeds from every single grain; and experiments have evinced, that one male will impregnate five hundred plants, when all the rest of the tops, which contain the male blossoms, are cut off, and only the female, or ears in silks are left.
It has been experienced also, that if there be a field of corn within a mile or two of one where all the tops or male blossoms are cut off entirely, yet still the ears will be impregnated and filled by the male farina brought by the agitation of the air and the winds; but the ears will not be all full.
But it has likewise been discovered by experiments, that if all the tops or male blossoms are cut off in a field of corn, and there be not another field within six or seven miles, the whole field will be useless;
297there will be no grain on the ears, which will not fill, because the female part of the plant has not been impregnated by the male.
The height of the stalks, when in a state of perfect maturity, is from eight to twelve feet and upwards; with joints at the distance of eight or ten inches from each other, at each of which are two leaves or blades, from one to two feet in length, and two or three inches broad.
The male flowers, as has been just observed, grow at the top of all, and appear something like to the heads or ears of rice, or large oats, after the fine farina is blown off.
The female flowers are rather below the middle of the stalk, at the extremity of the ears which proceed from the joints in that part of the stalk.
In October the blades, or leaves, which are broad and long, are pulled off, and tied in bundles, being left in the field to cure, and are excellent provender for horses; for those who are accustomed to
298this will not eat the very finest hay; then the tops are also cut off just above the ear.
And during the latter part of November, and all December, after the frosts have come on, the corn is gathered, two, three, and four ears from every stalk, and the stalks, each of which is generally above an inch in diameter, are left standing in the field.
A bushel of corn will plant near twenty acres; and on the richest lands twenty acres will produce two hundred and fifty barrels, or one thousand two hundred and fifty bushels. A most astonishing increase indeed!
The land is first plowed with two horses in the plough, because the labour is then harder; but every ploughing besides is done with one horse only; and one plough will work between thirty and forty acres in Indian corn.
The whole of this excellent grain is useful, and there is no part of it should be thrown away.
The leaves cured are excellent provender for horses; the tops, stalks, and husks are exceeding fine fodder for cattle, and the grain itself supports the inhabitants themselves, both white and black, besides feeding their horses, and fattening their hogs.
After this long digression on the culture of Indian corn, the grand staff of life throughout this continent, I shall proceed with an account of my journey to Kentucky; for my white savage and I set out from the fort early next morning.
I had procured rifles, ammunition, and Indian dresses for us both, which are by far the most convenient for travelling in that country; as also blankets to cover us, as we should be obliged to sleep in the woods every night; besides bells for our horses, to enable us to hear them at a distance when they were turned loose to feed, and hobbles, or spancils, made of strong leather, and fastened on their legs, to
301prevent them from wandering out of our reach where we remained all night.
I myself was provided with pocket compasses before I came here, and had besides a very just idea of the geography of the country.
I must beg permission at this place to correct an error I have observed in all the maps of that country, which give the name of Smith's River to the Stanton, for this is a very great mistake, as Smith's River is that which in the maps is named the Irwine River; and it was on the north-east side of it, near the confluence of Beaver Creek, where the fort I just left was erected; the whole country round, for a very great distance, being now denominated Pitsylvania county, which is the south-western frontier of Virginia.
Having heard much of the Wart Mountain, one of the first, but most considerably of the Aleganies, or rather the Blue Mountains, for height, as well as for its amazing extent of perspective, I
302determined to visit it, and ascend the summit thereof on my way; for which reason we bent our course towards it, and crossed Smith's River about nine miles above the fort, at a very bad ford, which was deep and dangerous.
After travelling through an exceedingly rough country, and in extreme bad paths indeed, frequently without any, as also crossing several deep creeks, or water-courses, we found ourselves at night beginning to ascend the Wart Mountain, which is upon the south-west side of Smith's River; and we alighted on an agreeable and convenient spot, near the side of a brook of water, to put up for the night, turning our horses out with their bells and hobbles on, to prevent our losing them.
We struck up and kindled a large fire, gathered leaves for us to lie upon, eat heartily of our jerked (or dried) venison, drank some brandy and water, (for we had brought a pretty large stock along us), wrapped ourselves up in our
303blankets, and lay down under a large tree, with our feet towards the fire; having travelled about forty-six miles that day.
I cannot undertake to pronounce whether it is owing to the salubrity and elasticity of the air, thus in free circulation, and totally unconfined, but certain it is, that I never found myself dejected, indisposed, or low-spirited in the morning, after passing the night in this manner.
I arose in the morning as gay and chearful as a lark, and set out at the dawn of day to ascend the mountain, with my mind filled with the most agreeable expectations of the vast pleasure I should enjoy from the amazingly great extent of the perspective from the summit, which is reckoned equal, if not superior to any, even the highest and most commanding inland situation in the world, at a distance from the sea.
As we approached the summit we found the journey exceedingly troublesome, the ascent becoming more and
304more perpendicular, until at length we were obliged to alight from our horses, and lead them after us.
Even this we found the greatest difficulty in performing, and we should not have attempted it had there been any place where we could have left our horses with the least certain prospect, or indeed probability of being able to find them again when we returned.
The height of the Wart Mountain may be about six or eight miles; but the extreme steepness thereof towards the summit retards the progress of a traveler so very much, that it is absolutely a severe day's journey to visit the highest part and return, making but a very short stay to enjoy the beauties of the almost unbounded and wonderful perspective.
After many halts we reached the summit of the mountain about eleven o'clock, and were then amply rewarded for the great perils and fatigue we had undergone to attain it.
Language fails in attempting to describe this most astonishing and almost unbounded perspective.
The mind was filled with a reverential awe, but at the same time the ideas, and I had almost said the very soul was sensibly enlarged.
The reflection on our own littleness did not diminish our intellectual faculties nor consequence; and the mind would boldly soar over the vast extent of the earth and water around, and even above the globe itself, to contemplate on, and admire the amazing works of the great Creator of all.
In short, the strong, mighty, pointed, and extended sensations of the mind, at this astonishing period are far beyond the power of human language to describe, or convey any idea of.
On the east you could perceive the deep and broken chasms where the rivers Dan, Mayho, Smith's, Bannister's, and Stanton direct their courses; some
306raging in vast torrents, and some gliding in silent gentle meanders.
On the north you see the Black Water, a branch of the Stanton; and the break in the mountains where the Fluvannah, a vast branch of the James, pass through in a north-east direction.
On the north-west you will observe with great astonishment and pleasure, the tremendous and abrupt break in the Alegany Mountains, through which the mighty waters of the New River, and the Great Kanhawah pass, the latter directing its course northward, a distance no less than two hundred miles from its source, where the New River meets the Green Briar river which comes from the north-east, a distance also of an hundred and fifty miles.
After the confluence, being then named the Great Kanhawah, it proceeds westward inclining to the north, until it falls into the mighty river Ohio, after a course of more than two hundred miles from the junction.
On the west you can very plainly discover the three forks or branches of the Holston, where they break through the Great Alegany Mountains, forming striking and awful chasms.
And still beyond them you may observe Clinch's River, or Pelisippi, that is almost equal to all the three branches of the Holston, with which it unites, after a course of three hundred and fifty or four hundred miles: the length of the course of the Holston being also above four hundred miles before they unite and form the mighty river Hogohegee or Cherokee, which afterwards flows a course of two hundred and fifty miles in extent before it falls into the Ohio, to which it is at least equal, in the vast quantity of water it contains, as well as the fertility of the soil on its banks, and far superior to it in the excellence of the climate it passes through.
On the south you can see the Dan, the Catawba, the Yadkin, and the Haw, breaking through the mighty mountains
308that appear in confused heaps, and piled on each other in almost every direction.
Throughout the whole of this amazing and most extensive perspective, there is not the least feature or trace of art or improvement to be discovered.
All are the genuine effects of nature alone, and laid down on her most extended and grandest scale.
Contemplating thereon fills the eye, engrosses the mind, and enlarges the soul.
It totally absorbs the senses, overwhelms all the faculties, expands even the grandest ideas beyond all conception, and occasions you almost to forget that you are a human creature.
I remained on the summit of this mountain until two o'clock in the afternoon, but was almost as much surprised at the inattention and disregard of the young back-wood's-man to the beauties and grandeur of the perspective, as I was charmed with the enjoyment of it myself; for he went down along one of the sides of the mountain, and was absent from me above an hour; in that time I heard the report of a gun, and when he returned he brought a fine wild turkey which he had shot; and he carried it along with us in order to dress for supper where we should halt at night.
We descended the mountain on the north-west side, and staid all night at the border of a beautiful small savannah or
310meadow, a little way from the base of the mountain, having turned our horses out as usual, kindled a fire, roasted our turkey, and made a delicious repast upon it. What remained we saved for the next day's provision.
We set out on our journey on the following morning, and steered our course as nearly west-north-west as the mountains would permit us, intending to cross the great Blue ridge, or South mountain, through a gap that is only used by the hunters, which is about twenty miles south-west of that which the great trading path goes over.
By this way we proposed to fall on the head waters of Little River, which runs into the New River just above the crossing place, and thereby save a distance of more than twenty-five miles travelling.
In this attempt we were fortunate enough to succeed, after a most fatiguing day's journey of forty miles at least, and after crossing a number of large streams of water.
We halted for the night on the side of a large rivulet, which we conjectured to be either Little River itself, or some of the waters of it, having crossed the great Blue ridge at a most disagreeable and dangerous gap in the afternoon.
Here we killed another wild turkey, and dressed it for supper as before; indeed they were so very numerous that we could have easily subsisted a company of men upon them, and might kill almost any number we pleased.
Next morning we set out early, and travelled down the north side of the rivulet, which we found to be Little River, until we arrived at New River, and at last came to the ford.
The New River is broad, deep and rapid, frequently impassable, and always dangerous.
However we crossed it in safety, though with great difficulty, and hazard of being carried down with the stream, and we looked out for a convenient spot on the
312west side, where we now were, to remain on for the night.
This we found necessary to do, both because our horses were greatly fatigued in crossing the river, and also to dry our cloaths which had all been soaked in the water; although we had not travelled more than twenty-five or thirty miles during this day.
The low ground on the New River is narrow, but exceedingly rich and fertile; the high land is also very fine in many places, but excessively broken, rocky, and mountainous.
The timber on the high land is very large and lofty, and that on the low ground is almost equal to the prodigious heavy trees on the Roanoak, already described.
The New River, which is only the upper part of the great Kanhawah, not being navigable, nor indeed the Kanhawah itself, the extreme roughness of the country, and difficulty of access to it, the roads or rather paths being not only almost impassable, but totally impossible ever to be
313rendered even tolerable, by any human efforts, will not only greatly retard the settlement of this country, but will always reduce the price and value of the land, be it ever so rich and fertile.
In the morning, our horses and ourselves being very much refreshed, we set out again on our journey; and after travelling ten or twelve miles, crossed a pretty large water-course named Peak's Creek; and soon afterwards a large branch of Reedy Creek.
In the afternoon we crossed another great ridge of the Alegany mountains at a gap, and in the evening came to the waters of the middle fork of the Holston, where we halted for the night; having travelled this day near fifty miles, and over a vast quantity of excellent land.
Next morning we pursued our journey, and travelled down the side of the middle fork of the Holston, which we crossed no less than three times this day; and at night came to Stahlmaker's, where a few people, indeed all the inhabitants, had also
314erected a kind of a wretched stockade fort for protection against the Indians; but they had all left it a few days before our arrival, and returned to their respective homes.
Here we remained for two days at the old Dutchman's house for rest and refreshment for ourselves and our horses, which we had really very much need of, and also to make enquiry ocncerning our future route.
The land on the Holston is certainly excellent, and fertile in the highest degree; the climate also is delightful.
But the value of estates here cannot be considerable for many years, perhaps centuries to come, for the same reasons that have been mentioned to affect those on the New River.
Here we gained intelligence of a nearer way to Kentucky, than that commonly made use of, which had very lately been discovered, viz. by crossing Clinche's River about sixty miles from Stahlmaker's, going over the great Ridge of the Alegany
315or Apalachian mountains, at a gap which had been used only by a few of the best hunters, and falling down on the waters of the Warrior's Branch, a river that runs into Kentucky.
With this route pretty exactly laid down we set out from the Dutchman's house on the third morning after our arrival, and after travelling over a vast quantity of exceedingly strong rich land covered with lofty timber, we reached the banks of the north branch of the Holston, crossed the river, and put up for the night; having travelled that day more than thirty miles.
The ford of this branch of the Holston is, if possible, worse than any we have hitherto met with, and is indeed extremely dangerous.
But we were so familiarized to danger and fatigue, as to regard any thing of that nature but little.
On the next morning we set out on our journey by the route which we had been directed to pursue, and at noon arrived at the summit of a vast chain of
316mountains which separate the north branch of the Holston from Clinche's River.
Here I had the pleasure of enjoying an extensive, wild, and romantic view, particularly that stupenduous ridge of the Alegany, or Apalachian mountains, which is the chief and most lofty of the whole.
It was rendered the more interesting to me by reflecting that I must cross it on my journey, our route being directly over it; and the summit of this vast chain was at the least sixty miles from the ridge whereon we then stood.
We made no unnecessary delay however on this commanding spot, but descended the mountain, and pursued our route with all the expedition we could; and we arrived on the banks of Clinche's River late in the evening, so that we could not venture to cross the ford that night.
This circumstance was a very great inconvenience to us, because we always got our cloaths wet in passing these great and rapid torrents of water, which situation is particularly disagreeable in the
317morning, because we must either delay our time by making fires to dry them, or travel with them all wet upon us, which is the most unpleasant of the two, as well as being prejudicial to health.
These vast ridges of mountains which we crossed rendered this day's journey extremely severe and fatiguing both for ourselves and our horses, although we did not travel more than about thirty miles.
In the morning we undertook the hazardous task of fording Clinche's River, and accomplished it after several plunges, as usual, over our heads; neither did we halt to dry our cloaths until noon, when we rested at the side of a savannah, spread all our wet cloaths on the grass to dry in the sun, which was then intensely hot, turned our horses out to graze, and after finishing a hearty meal, lay ourselves down to sleep.
Here we remained for two hours, and then arose exceedingly refreshed, and pursued our journey.
On the evening we had reached half way up the stupendous westermost ridge of the Alegany mountains, the last, greatest, and loftiest of the whole.
Here we remained all night, concluding to attempt the steepest and most difficult ascent in the morning, when our horses were refreshed and strong, and ourselves also less fatigued; for we always alighted and led our horses up these prodigious steep, and perilous ascents.
We pursued our journey up the mountain next morning, but the sun was several hours high before we could possibly reach the summit, notwithstanding we made all imaginable dispatch.
This ridge of the Alegany or Apalachian mountain, is indeed of a most stupendous and astonishing height, and commands a prospect proportionably extensive.
I took a retrospective view, with satisfaction and pleasure, of the vast chain of mountains beyond Clinche's River, which I had crossed: and I looked forward, with interesting anxiety and eagerness, towards the Ousiotto great ridge of mountains, which I had still to pass over, and were at least fifty or sixty miles distant before me.
The summit of this ridge, the most lofty of all the Aleganys, is near a mile wide, and consists of excellent strong rich land, of a deep red, or a dark reddish brown colour, with very large tall timber; and there are springs of water almost on the very summit of the mountain.
But as soon as we began to descend on the north-west side, we found the declivity exceedingly steep.
Yet the ascent on the south-east side where we came up was regular and gradual consisting generally of good land, and covered with lofty timber.
This north-west side was almost bare of soil; the trees and all the vegetation poor, scanty, and miserable; and quite incumbered with rocks and loose stones, which exceedingly impeded our way, and retarded our progress.
By these obstacles this day's journey was rendered intolerably disagreeable and dangerous.
But we forgot our toils, perils, and fatigues, when at night we reached the
321waters of the Warrior's branch, where we halted and remained until morning; having travelled about twenty-five miles during the day.
At the ensuing dawn we again renewed our journey, directing our course down the Warrior's branch until we reached the foot of the great ridge of the Ouasiotto mountains, where we put up for the night; having travelled above thirty miles this day.
On the morning following we began to ascend the mountain, and reached the summit in about three hours.
This last chain of mountains is covered with laurel, and so excessively thick in many places as to be absolutely impenetrable.
Here the great mass of mountains terminated on the north-west; excepting some spurs of the mountains that sometimes extended several miles into the more champaign country.
The summit of this ridge is not more than a quarter of a mile over, and the
322ground as well as the growth of the timber is very poor and miserable, being almost entirely covered with universal and impenetrable thickets of laurel.
From the brow or edge of the summit, looking back we could see the huge Alegany mountains which we had crossed; and on the other edge of the summit, as we advanced, I was delighted with a view, novel indeed to me at this time, and uncommonly beautiful and pleasing. For the eye was now relieved from being constantly filled with the vast exuberances of nature, which alone it had beheld for so many days, by viewing a beautiful champaign country, covered with prodigious woods 'tis true, but at the same in full verdure, and intersected with vast rivers, and prodigious water-courses, which all terminate in the mighty majestic Ohio.
Some of the course of this amazing and most beautiful river was also to be discovered by a chasm or break in the woods, where it flowed in awful solemn silence.
I enjoyed infinite delight in viewing the beauties of the perspective here for a considerable time, and at last left it with equal pleasure, eager to penetrate into that beautiful country, which I had beheld with such delicious gratification at a distance.
I descended the Ouasiotto mountains, and in a short time fell into the great War path, which has been used by the Indians time out of mind.
This afforded me very great satisfaction, for the road was now much better than any I had travelled in ever since I had first entered the mountains, and thereby enabled me to gain greater distances in each day's journey.
But although we had now left the mountains, and although before when I beheld all this country to the westward of them it appeared as a beautiful level extended far beyond the view, and all the horizon was as straight and even as a line, or as the ocean itself, yet now we had descended into it we found it extremely broken, with abundance of rocks, and thickly intersected with water-courses.
However nothing could be more pleasant than the pure and limpid streams, that either glided along in sweet and silent meanders; or tumbled and dashed from rock to rock, just sufficiently to give pleasure without an alloy of fear or pain, as pellucid and transparent as crystal.
I observed that almost all the rocks, not only here, but every where between the mountains, consisted of a blackish grey lime stone; and where that did not prevail, the earth, rocks and every loose stone appeared to be strongly and richly impregnated with iron ore, which certainly abounds throughout this inland part of America.
We slept that night on the banks of a creek, that runs into the Warrior's branch, at the distance of about a mile from the river itself, as we discovered in the morning when we went to look for our horses to proceed on our journey.
The Warrior's branch is a considerable river, and after its confluence with two more rivers, neither of which is so large as itself, forms the Kentucky which is indeed
325a very fine river, wide, deep, and with a very gentle current gliding along almost imperceptibly.
The whole length of the Kentucky, including its meanders, from the source of the Warrior's branch in the Alegany mountains, to the confluence of the Kentucky with the Ohio, is certainly between four and five hundred miles, containing a body of land on each side, that cannot be surpassed, and scarcely equalled by any in the universe, for fertility of soil, abundance of game, excellence of climate, and every other beauty and advantage imaginable, excepting the difficulty of access to it.
In five more easy days journeys, the particulars of which are not worth relating, as being not materially different from what has been already mentioned, we at length arrived at the famed settlement near the mouth of Kentucky, on the eighth day of June, after having travelled at least four hundred and ninety miles, from the fort on Smith's River, to this place, in nineteen days.
I was soon directed to the house of Mr. Henderson, where I found a most hospitable and kind reception.
We walked over his plantation, which, was really a very fine one; and being furnished with fresh horses we rode round several of the improvements in the neighbourhood.
He recollected me perfectly, but appeared very much surprised at the hazards, as well as the fatigues I had encountered to pay him and his settlement this visit, at this critical time, which it seems had been apprehended by every one to be particularly dangerous.
All the inhabitants of this settlement had also prepared for an Indian war,
327having erected three stockaded forts, into which they had thrown themselves, their wives, and families; but had remained only a very short time within them, and had left them and returned to their respective habitations not more than about a week or ten days before my arrival, which totally dissipated all their remaining apprehensions of danger or distrust.
Almost every house in the whole settlement was built of logs, which are proof against small arms, but being covered as well as entirely constructed of wood, nothing would be more easy for an enemy than to set them on fire, which prevents any idea of defence against such numbers as might be able to approach close to them.
The three stockaded forts also, though intended to cover the country against the attacks of the Indians, were neither calculated for that purpose, nor indeed were they tenable against an enemy of the least military knowledge, whose power
328or force might enable them to command the open country; for neither of the forts either communicated with, nor supported the other, at least what they intended as means of communication and support defeated the very purpose they expected it to promote.
The impropriety and total unfitness of these forts as places of defence I soon convinced Mr. Henderson of, as well as the rest of the principal inhabitants, and pointed out a commanding spot of ground to erect a fortification on, if ever they should again have such an occasion; which was indeed absolutely necessary, in their situation, for every reason.
It was a peninsula, containing above an hundred acres of rich low land, surrounded with the river Kentucky, and a large creek, on three sides, and on the neck of the peninsula, or rather just within it, there was a remarkably high and steep hill, which appeared to be composed of a solid rock very slightly covered with soil, but abundantly with loose stones.
Just before the neck of the peninsula, in a small circle round the bottom of the hill, there was a large morass or swamp, broad, deep and miry, which was covered and overflowed with water, after heavy rains, as well as during the periodical floods of the Kentucky.
In short nature seemed to have formed this commanding eminence for a most delightful seat, as well as for the purpose of defence; and it required but very little assistance of art to render it extremely strong.
Mr. Henderson was beyond all doubt a man of a vast and enterprising genius; he might be an excellent judge, as well as a great legislator; but he was certainly not at all calculated for arms, being void of any talents that way, and totally deficient even of a military eye, judgment, or disposition.
I have observed that throughout all the back country, indeed I had almost said throughout all America, there seems to
330be no such thing as any idea of subordination, or difference of ranks in life; excepting from the weaker to the stronger; and from the slaves to the whites.
In any of their forts it was all anarchy and confusion, and you could not discover what person commanded, for in fact no person did actually command entirely.
This total want of subordination renders the whole country particularly disagreeable to strangers, such especially as have been accustomed to the polished intercourse of Europe; for in the back-woods, and frontiers especially, there is no degree of insolence, impertinence and rudeness but they think themselves justifiable in practising, either to one another, or towards such as may come among them, and in a manner, as well as to an extent, that could not be credited by Europeans, had not so many seen and experienccd it.
Mr. Henderson had epitomised, and simplified the laws of England, for the government and internal police of his settlement.
Magistrates were chosen by the inhabitants, but with his approbation; and such disputes as could not be decided by one or two magistrates were determined by something like a jury, whose decisions were also regulated, and indeed in a great measure directed likewise by Mr. Henderson himself.
Although the inhabitants are in reality a rude, barbarous and unpolished set of men, yet you will frequently find pleasure in their conversation; their ideas are bold and spirited, but their sentiments are not liberal.
However, they are certainly a sensible, enterprising, hardy, unpolished race, yet open, free and hospitable.
Pusillanimousness, cowardice and mean spirit appear not there; hitherto they have not reached so far, and as yet are generally confined on the east of the mountains.
In our rides through, and around this settlement we visited the confluence of the Kentucky with the Ohio, and strolled
332for many miles on the banks of the last mentioned river also.
Near the confluence is the place on the banks of the Ohio where the skeletons of nine elephants, as they are called, though many say erroneously, were discovered; which has given rise to such multitudes of conjectures among the naturalists and philosophers, without one of them being able to account for this very singular and extraordinary circumstance in a manner reconcilable to common sense and reason.
For there certainly is none of the species (of elephants) now in the whole continent of North and South America.
It has been lately denied that they are the bones of elephants; and they are asserted to be the bones of some other very large animal, of which likewise at present none of the species is to be found.
I would not venture to pronounce upon my weak judgment, whether they are the bones of elephants or not, I mean
333those few that I saw there, however I am very certain that they are much larger than belong to any other quadruped in the world, that I ever saw or heard of.
But to what species they did belong, or in what manner they came there, is more than I can undertake to ascertain, or even to guess at.
The breadth of the Kentucky at the confluence is between three and four hundred yards; and that of the Ohio between eight hundred and nine hundred yards.
The low ground on both rivers is excellent; on the Ohio it is about a mile wide; on the Kentucky about half as much.
The high land also between the rivers is exceedingly rich, and of a reddish brown colour, with large lofty straight timber.
The soil of the low grounds is a very dark brown, almost a black.
The woods consist of walnut, poplar yellow and white, red-bud, hiccory, sassafras, wild cherry, oaks of many different kinds, such as red oak, Spanish oak, white-oak,
335black oak, scrubby oak or blackjacks, chesnut-oak, willow-oak, and live-oak, maple, black gum, sweet gum, sycamore, horn-beam, dog-wood, pine, chesnut, beech, holly, maple, cedar, and many other kinds peculiar to the country, all of an astonishing size, especially in the low grounds, many trees being twelve and fifteen feet diameter in the trunk.
These are useful in America for many purposes; for houses, which are almost all constructed, and even covered entirely with wood; as also for fences and inclosures, these being all composed of what is called there fence rails, which are made out of trees cut or sawed into lengths of eleven or twelve feet, which again are mauled or split into rails from four to six inches thick.
When the inclosure is formed, every one crossing the other obliquely at each end, in regular succession and erection, these rails are laid zig-zag upon each other for ten or eleven rails in height, then stakes are put against each corner double across each other, with the lower end sunk a little into the earth,
336and above these stakes, one, and sometimes two more rails are laid, which lock up the whole, and keep it steady and firm.
These inclosures are generally seven, eight and nine feet high, and are very strong, as well as convenient, as they can be removed at any time to any other place where they may become more necessary.
Timber also serves for fuel, as no other is made use of, all over America.
The Ohio here has two banks on each side; when the river is low, the waters are confined within the lowest banks; at this time the batteaux come up the stream, which is then smooth and gentle.
But when the periodical floods happen, which are always twice a year, the river is then swelled to the highest part of the upper banks, and runs with much greater rapidity and force, batteaux and vessels of all kinds then descend with the stream, and frequently attain the distance of an hundred miles a day.
At such times, ships of small burthen might go down from Pittsburg to New
337Orleans, &c. in the greatest safety, there being then seldom less than twenty-five feet water.
These last banks the river very seldom or never overflows, therefore the land is little liable to be flooded.
Fish are innumerable in the rivers here, such as perch, pike, eels, trout, roch, shads, old-wives, cat-fish, &c. &c. very fat, and so astonishingly large, credibility is endangered in relating it, for it is a fact, that of the cat-fish some are from twelve to eighteen inches between the eyes, and they are easily caught.
Game of all kinds is also exceedingly plenty; a man may kill six or eight deer every day, which many do merely for their skins, to the great injury and destruction of the species, and to the prejudice and public loss of the community at large.
Wild turkeys, very large and fat, are almost beyond number, sometimes five thousand in a flock, of which a man may kill just as many as he pleases.
Elks are also very plenty, as well as raccoons, oppossums, foxes and wolves. All these are found in the lofty woods, while in the savannahs or meadows buffaloes abound. And on the rivers multitudes of almost every kind of water fowl.
There was another animal that particularly engaged my attention, it being one of the same species that formerly I just had a glimpse of among the rocks at the falls of James River, when it struck me with the strange idea of its resembling a fiddle with feet.
These animals are called here Tarapens, and are both of the land and water kinds. They are all however of the species of the turtle.
One kind of them bites very fiercely when incensed, and keeps his hold so tenaciously that he will suffer decapitation before he quits it; these are called Snapping Turtles: but every species of these animals is so generally and perfectly known as to need no particular description here.
Some of them however are extremely beautiful, and are adorned with all the elegance of the brightest colouring, and the most fanciful engravings, or lines in regular and exact uniformity: this kind is perfectly inoffensive and harmless, nor are they larger than two or three pounds weight.
These animals will live, it is said, for several hundred years. [See chap. vii. pages 51 and 52.]
During a stay of six weeks, I made many excursions in the country around, and sometimes went very considerable distances, so as to take several days in going and returning; and they were chiefly by water, on the Ohio, and its branches.
Finding every thing in tranquillity, and the Indians perfectly quiet and friendly, I accompanied a Mr. Mac Gowan to one of the Shawnese towns, and another time to one of the nearest towns of the Miniamis or Tweetwees.
Both these excursions were by water; and I found that there was scarcely any variety in the manner of living and
340customs of the different Indian nations or tribes; for seeing one nation will enable a person to form a very just and exact judgment of all the rest.
So that the description already given, of the Catawba Towns, reduced and enervated as they are, is an exact representation of the Shawnese, Miniamis, &c. as well as every other nation of these kind of Indians. [see chap. xxv. page 195.]
However some farther general observations on the different tribes and nations of Indians in North America may not be unacceptable here; but it is rather a difficult task for me to give the proper and distinct account of every different nation, and their respective characters, &c. friendly or otherwise, (their general character and dispositions, as I have just remarked, being pretty much the same), being not only unacquainted with their language, but having never been longer than a few days together in their towns myself.
So what I relate must consequently be chiefly from the information of others; however it is from such authority as I judge may be depended upon.
The general character of the Indians is, that they are crafty, sensible, resolute, very suspicious, and very vindictive.
An Indian will travel on foot five hundred miles, through the woods, in night and darkness, secreting himself during the day to revenge an injury done to his relation, or to any one of his tribe.
However in every thing, but their cruel and revengeful disposition, I admire and respect the real character of the native uncivilized and uncorrupted Indians.
Their sentiments, with all the disadvantages of poor inexpressive language, and of what is worse, a flat, dull, and deficient interpretation, contain and convey the most elevated, noble, spirited, and just ideas, delivered in that beautiful and elegant simplicity and allegorical figures of explanation, which add dignity and grace
342to the subject, and are so much admired in the Bible and sacred scriptures of the Christians, in the Jewish Talmud, the Mahometan Alcoran, and in all the oriental writings.
Their sensual appetites however they have no great command of, especially inebriation, which they are particularly addicted to.
But the truth is, they are corrupted by the whites; for they copy after, and fall into our vices, these appearing in the most conspicuous point of view; and I am afraid that our external virtues are so few, and even those so difficult to be discovered, that the poor Indians cannot distinguish any of them to follow after.
They have also been so treacherously and barbarously massacred by the whites, and so often deceived by them, that the memory thereof is carefully preserved, and handed down from father to son, in order to keep the rising race sufficiently on their guard against our future snares and treacherous designs.
This I look upon to be the true cause of the great caution, and complete dissimulation the Indians are become so perfectly masters of.
Indeed they have arrived at so eminent a degree of duplicity, and disguising their sentiments and intentions, that without the assistance of the arts of writing, reading, or committing their thoughts and transactions to record, they far excel us at our own weapons of subtilty, craft, and precaution.
In short they are zealous steady friends; but rigorous implacable enemies, until satisfaction or reparation be made them for the injury they think they have sustained.
However let their inclinations at this present time be either amicable or hostile, they all are not now sufficiently powerful, either to contend against the whites in arms, or to do them any other material injury.
Whites who behave to them with uprightness and affability are greatly
344respected by them, and obtain an amazing influence over them.
But they must first be sufficiently convinced of the integrity and disinterestedness of the person; after which they are more at the command of such a man than of one of their own chiefs.
Kings they have none, and the principal men of their nation become such by their merit alone. Than this there is no other precedence, or difference of rank among Indians.
They enjoy the sweets of liberty and freedom in the truest sense, and certainly are not guilty of the many iniquitous and scandalous vices that disgrace Christianity and Europeans.
Their numbers on this side the Mississippi are considerable.
From the Gulf of Mexico to the Lakes of Canada inclusive, it is computed there may be about thirty-five thousand warriors.
Beyond the Mississippi they are much more numerous, and many people, that
345have travelled there, say they are very open and hospitable.
The little intercourse between them, in that distant country, and Europeans, renders them less suspicious, less subtle and designing, and not so cruel and vindictive as those on the eastern side of that extensive river, whose greater experience, communication and transactions with the whites produce those pernicious effects. A reproach more severe upon us than on them.
Here I must beg leave to make one particular observation; left, from what has been said, it should be thought that the Indians have a particular dislike to Europeans more than to the whites born in America; but the very reverse of this is the truth, for it is the white natives of the country that the Indians have the greatest aversion to, and by whom they have been so often most treacherously and barbarously used.
The white Americans also have the most rancorous antipathy to the whole
346race of Indians; and nothing is more common than to hear them talk of extirpating them totally from the face of the earth, men, women, and children.
The Indians indeed do not appear to entertain any dislike to the British or French, I mean those that are natives of Europe; nor have the real British or French any particular aversion to them, as the British Americans have.
The names of the different Indian nations in North America, with the numbers of their fighting men, from the best authority I have been able to collect, are as follow:
|Names of the Nations.||Situation.||Warriors.|
|The Choctaws or Flatheads||On the Mobile and Mississippi||4500|
|The Cherokees, behind South-Carolina||2500|
|The Catawbas, between North and South-Carolina||150|
|The Piantias, a wandering tribe on both sides of the Mississippi -||800|
|The Kasquuasquias, or Illinois in general, on the Illinois river, and between the Ouabache and the Mississippi -||600|
|Names of the Nations.||Situation.||Warriors.|
|The Piankishaws||On the Ouabache||250|
|The Shawnese, on the Siotto -||500|
|The Delawares, on the west of the Ohio||300|
|The Miamis, on the Misamis river falling into Lake Erie and the Miniamis||350|
|The upper Creeks, back of Georgia||4000|
|The middle Creeks, behind West-Florida|
|The lower Creeks, in East-Florida|
|The Caouitas, on the east of the river Alibamous -||700|
|The Alibamous, on the west of the Alibamous -||600|
|The Akansaws, on the Akansaw river falling into the Mississippi on the west side -||2000|
|The Ajoues, north of the Missouri||1000|
|The Paddoucas, west of the Mississippi||500|
|The white Panis||South of the Missouri||2000|
|The freckled or pricked Panis||2000|
|Names of the Nations.||Situation.||Warriors.|
|The Canses||South of the Missouri||1600|
|The Grandes Eaux||1000|
|The Missouri, upon the river Missouri||3000|
|The Sioux of the woods||towards the heads of the Mississippi||1800|
|The Sioux of the meadows||2500|
|The Blancs, Barbus, or white Indians with beards —||1500|
|The Assiniboils||far north near the lakes of the same name||1500|
|The Ouiscansins, on a river of that name that falls into the Mississippi in the east side -||550|
|The Mascoutens||South of Puans Bay||500|
|Folle Avoine, or the Wildoat Indians||Near Pucans Bay||350|
|The Powtewatamis; near St. Joseph's River, and Detroit||350|
|Names of the Nations.||Situation.||Warriors.|
|The Messesagues, or River Indians, being wandering tribes on the Lakes Huron and Superior||2000|
|The Ottahwas||Near the Lakes Superior and Michigan||900|
|The Wiandots, near Lake Erie||300|
|The Six Nations, or as the French call them, the Iroquois, on the frontiers of New-York, &c.||1500|
|The Round-headed Indians, near the head of the Ottahwa River||2500|
|The Algonquins, near the above||300|
|The Nipissins, near the above also||400|
|The Chalas||St. Laurence Indians, on the back of Nova-Scotia, &c.||130|
|The Conawaghrunas, near the falls of St. Lewis -||200|
This being the whole number of men fit for bearing arms, from hence we may be enabled to form some idea of the number of all the Indian inhabitants, men, women and children, on the continent of North America; which calculation, however, I am ready to confess can be but rather a vague conjecture.
There being fifty-eight thousand nine hundred and thirty warriors, it is computed that about one-third of the same number more are old men unfit for bearing arms, which makes the number of males come to maturity amount to about eighty-eight thousand five hundred and seventy; and multiplied by six will produce five hundred and thirty-one thousand four hundred and twenty, which I consider as the whole number of souls, viz. men, women and children, of all the Indian nations that are come in any degree within our knowledge throughout the continent of North America.
It is a most melancholy consideration to reflect, that these few are all that remain
352of the many millions of natives, or aboriginal inhabitants with which this vast continent was peopled when first discovered by the Whites; and that even these will soon be extinct and totally annihilated, considering the amazingly rapid depopulation they have hitherto experienced, since that (to them) fatal period, or aera of the first arrival of the whites in America.
About six weeks after my arrival at Kentucky two gentlemen from Virginia, on a tour from thence to New Orleans, called to view the settlement.
They came from Pittsburg, by water, in a very fine batteau which they had purchased, and intended to proceed in the same manner down the Ohio and Mississippi, being furnished with letters of recommendation to the Spanish governor of New Orleans, &c.
Having remained along with us at Mr. Henderson's some days, I discovered them to be uncommonly sensible intelligent
354persons, possessing an extraordinary share of genius, spirit and enterprize, and was not difficult to be persuaded to accompany them in their batteau to New Orleans.
For I promised myself abundance of satisfaction and gratification in this voyage down the Ohio and Mississippi.
Besides I had been so excessively over-fatigued in my journey here, over the mountains, that I absolutely dreaded the thoughts of returning in the same manner.
For these reasons I embraced this offer with great pleasure, and after returning Mr. Henderson, and several other of the principal inhabitants of Kentucky, many thanks for their civility and hospitable entertainment, I embarked on board Mr. Wood's and Mr. Lewis's batteau, along with my young savage whom I brought from the east side of the Alegany Mountains.
This young man, whose name was William Fortune, solicited me most earnestly for
355permission to attend me this voyage, which I very readily granted, having hitherto found him of great use to me in every respect, and an excellent hunter and woodsman.
In both these offers I considered myself extremely fortunate. First in my attendant, whose fidelity I had already experienced; and next in the company of these gentlemen who appeared equally gratified by having succeeded in persuading me to undertake the voyage, and in being able to furnish me with very tolerable accommodations.
My present companions and fellow-travellers were two gentlemen, the first named James Wood, esq. who was member of the assembly of Virginia for the county of Frederick, was young, active and vigorous, was frank, open and communicative in his disposition, and possessed a degree of candour and liberality of sentiment, that rendered his acquaintance valuable in the highest degree; the other was Charles Lewis, of Augusta county in Virginia, esq. scarcely inferior to
356Mr. Wood in every estimable qualification and desert.
They had two Chickesaw Indians, and three white men in their batteau, and as they just wanted one man more to complete their number, my servant supplied the place.
However, although I now call this man my servant, yet he himself never would have submitted to such an appellation, although he most readily performed every menial office, and indeed any service I could desire; yet such is the insolence, folly, and ridiculous pride of those ignorant backwoods men, that they would conceive it an indelible disgrace and infamy to be styled servants, even to his Majesty, notwithanding they will gladly perform the lowest and most degrading services for hire.
At the dawn of day on the nineteenth of July we left the Kentucky, and had a very pleasant voyage down the Ohio and Mississippi, if one can give that appellation to such a one, where we slept every
357night on terra firma, or at the shore in our batteau.
We passed by the mouth of a multitude of fine rivers, and some of vast magnitude, that empty themselves into the Ohio and Mississippi.
On our right were the mighty rivers Ouabache or St. Jerome's, and Buffaloe River, besides a great many inferior in size, whose names we could not discover, that run into the Ohio before the confluence thereof with the Mississippi.
On the left, the following rivers empty themselves into it, viz. Rotten or Bear Creek, Reedy River, the prodigious river Cherokee or Hogohegee, Muddy River, Deep Creek, besides many lesser ones.
As we sailed down the Mississippi, on our right were the rivers La Sonde, Aux Prunes, Metchigamias Lake or River, the river St. Francis, the White River, the river Sotouis or Akansas, Red River, Piakemines River, besides a vast number of others, some of a prodigious extent, as
358well as many inferior ones, whose names we never heard.
And on the left side were the Kaskinompa, the Chickesaw, Prudhomme River, Maggotty River, or Margot River, Bayouc River, Soto River, Yassous River, Tioux River, Petit Goussre River, Little River, and the Ibberville which scarcely deserves the name of a river, and is only known by being the Eastern boundary of the Spaniards, forming the island of New Orleans, whose territory, from the Ibberville Southward includes both banks of the Mississippi; besides a multitude of water-courses, whose very names we could not possibly learn.
The day after we left Kentucky we passed the falls of the Ohio very safely, by keeping well over on the right or north-western shore, for these falls are by no means dangerous; and after we had passed them we observed the low grounds on each side of the river widen very considerably, as well as the river itself, until we entered the Mississippi,
359where the land is so low that it is subject to frequent inundations.
After we had got some distance down the Mississippi, the high land, and sometimes the mountains approached the river, so as to render the low grounds on each side very narrow, which however were luxuriantly rich and fertile, even beyond a possibility of description.
There are likewise islands in many places, and some of them almost covered with reeds.
As we descended the stream of the Mississippi we observed several lakes, or as they are termed here Lagunes, sometimes on one side, sometimes on the other side of the river.
These lagunes generally had vast quantities of large reeds growing round the edges; and within them there were thousands of water fowl of every species.
Although there was no difficulty in killing multitudes of them, yet it was almost impossible to get them, because of
360the reeds, which rendered that part of the lagune, where they were, almost inaccessible.
These lagunes were formed by the vast body of water, that comes down in the annual periodical floods, forcing its way across the necks of many different peninsulas formed by the extreme crooked and meandering course of the Mississippi, and diverting the channel of the river itself, from its old direction around the peninsula, to this new one across the neck of it, by which means the place where the river formerly flowed becomes a large lake of standing water, here denominated a lagune.
One day while we were on shore at the mouth of the Yassous, a placid, beautiful, and noble river, a small hunting party of the Chickesaws came up to us, and at the request of our two Chickesaw Indians, as well as the others, we remained there two days along with them.
The Chickesaws are a very brave and respectable nation, not for their numbers,
361for they are few, but for their virtue, and unconquerable spirit.
They are also remarkably handsome, and what is very singular, have a beautiful breed of horses amongst them, which they carefully preserve unmixed.
The Chickesaws, it is said, and I make no doubt of the fact, came originally from South America, having travelled across the continent for upwards of two thousand miles, and brought these horses along with them, which are of the breed of that much admired kind called Spanish gennets, having long since taken them from the Spaniards.
There is no Indian nation on the continent of North America near so handsome as the Chickesaws. The Hurons come next them in beauty.
The Chickesaw nation have always been steady friends and allies to Britain, and their fidelity was never shaken, although the French have often attempted it, by promises, threats, and the most formidable attacks with a force considerably
362more than four times the number of all the warriors in the Chickesaw nation, either to detach them from the interest of Great Britain or to cut them entirely off.
In the former war, while the French were in possession of Canada, they detached about six hundred and fifty regular troops, and more than two thousand five hundred Indians from Canada and Illinois, against this small, but heroic community, for the avowed purpose, and with positive orders, of completing a total conquest, and even extirpation of the whole Chickesaw nation.
They set out on this expedition with all the secrecy and confidence of success imaginable, at least in their own minds; but they little considered what sort of men they were going to attack, and soon found, by dire experience, that no superiority in numbers is equal to a determined valour and innate heroism; for the whole detachment was totally defeated, the French regulars being almost
363to a man cut off, and the Indians their allies saved only a small proportion of their number, by a precipitate flight, leaving behind them multitudes of wounded and slain.
This was the last formidable attack made on the Chickesaw nation, either by the French, or the northern Indians; for there always has been a rooted enmity between the northern and southern Indians, who have been almost perpetually at war with each other, without any real, and indeed without any ostensible cause.
But the Chickesaws have always been distinguished for their gallant actions, and feats of the highest heroism, which has rendered them, even individually, to be particularly respected throughout all the nations of North America.
For which reason Chickesaw guides are more sought after, and are much more serviceable than those of any other nation.
For although their language is not commonly made use of in any nation but
364their own, yet it is understood by all, and among Indians is considered as the language of politeness and universality.
Another singularity that seems to be peculiar to this nation is, their frequently going out to meet their enemies on horseback, which, with their very fine horses that they take such delight in, renders them in fact a nation of cavalry.
This indeed is the case with no other nation either in North or South America, unless we except the Patagonians, those men of vast and uncommonly large stature, lately discovered by admiral Byron, and the other circumnavigators, &c. on the coast of Patagonia, near the streights of Magellan.
On the third morning we set out from Yassous River, on our voyage down the Mississippi, after taking an affectionate leave of our friendly, and as we really found them, hospitable Chickesaws.
We met with nothing very material nor interesting until we arrived at the Natches, which we did on the 20th of August, being just thirty-two days from the time we left Kentucky.
Here we staid three days, and in that time received many civilities and marks of kindness from Major Fields and Mr. L. Claiborne, who were settled on very fine and valuable plantations, upon the banks of the Mississippi, having come there from Virginia, of which colony they were also
366natives; and we really found them to be very entertaining, sensible and enterprising men.
From Natches we proceeded on our voyage on the fourth morning, and arrived at New Orleans in four days, being on the twenty-seventh of August.
Here we found almost all the inhabitants were French; very few of them even understanding the Spanish language; and they entertained the most rooted and implacable aversion to the Spanish nation and government, as well as a strong predilection for the British.
As a proof of this, although there is a penalty incurred, by proclamation of the Spanish Governor, of four hundred or five hundred dollars, for even admitting a British subject into one of their houses, unless they immediately make government acquainted with it, yet they make no scruple nor difficulty of receiving any Englishman, and entertaining him in the most generous and hospitable manner openly; at the same time taking care to enhance the
367estimation of their kind reception, by making him acquainted with the risque they run, and the penalty they incur the forfeiture of thereby.
This is the general practice in the island of New Orleans, at some distance from the town, which however being the seat of government, and being also occupied with a Spanish garrison, it would be impossible for the French inhabitants to fulfil such hospitable intentions and purposes therein with safety.
They were at this time extremely mortified, humbled and intimidated by a circumstance that had occurred but a short time, at least but a few years before our arrival.
Soon after the territory of New Orleans had been ceded by France to Spain, the French inhabitants assembled together, in a large body, on the thirtieth of October, one thousand seven hundred and sixty-eight, determined to expel Don Antonio d'Uloa the Spanish Governor, and all the other Spanish officers; accordingly on the second of November they sent them on
368board a large Spanish ship in the harbour, with orders to leave the island immediately.
Previously to the above exploit they confined M. Aubry, who was Commandant while the place belonged to France.
The occasion was, the Spaniards wanting to introduce their commercial regulations, which the inhabitants refused to submit to, and declared they would be either French or British subjects, but never would consent to be Spanish.
The Governor and the rest of the Spanish Officers sailed for the Havannah, and left in the harbour a Spanish frigate with the marines, not in a condition to put to sea, and two hostages for payment of debts due to the French.
Four of the principal inhabitants embarked soon afterwards to lay a representation of their affairs before the Court of France, and solicit redress of their grievances.
Things continued in this condition for some time, but at last General Count
369O'Reiley, a brave experienced officer of Irish descent, (who claims the island of Jamaica in the West Indies, as lord proprietor when the Spaniards possessed it,) was ordered there by the Court of Madrid, and landed at New Orleans, with three thousand Spaniards, and three or four ships of war.
The inhabitants then immediately submitted; and General O'Reiley ordered thirty of the leading men in this affair to be executed, and confiscated the estates of about two hundred more.
This severity restrained their actions, but cannot command the will.
At this time so great is their desire to be under British government, and so general, so hearty, so rooted is their detestation to that of Spain, that only a dozen or two of Britons, of spirit and enterprize, would be able to wrest all that country from the Spaniards; as the inhabitants are all French, excepting the garrison which consists only of a handful of lazy, proud, miserable Spaniards, who despise the French
370settlers as cordially as they themselves are hated by them in return.
At this time there would be nothing wanting or necessary but to erect the standard of Great Britain, and the French inhabitants would one and all support it; so much do they wish for British liberty, and to such a degree do they detest the arbitrary government of Spain.
The number of families in the town and island of New Orleans, and on the west side of the Mississippi, may amount to twelve thousand at least, all of whom are thus averse to be governed by the Spaniards.
In the river Mississipi, and on the banks, are many very singular appearances.
In the river, and in the creeks, rivulets and water-courses falling into it, especially near the mouth, are large dangerous animals named alligators, from ten to eighteen feet and upwards in length; they are a species of the crocodile, and equally, if not more dangerous than those of the river Nile in Egypt; these also devouring men, oxen, or whatever else they can get within their horrid jaws, in that crafty subtle manner, so often described already in different authors.
These render it dangerous to sleep in open batteaux on the Mississippi, and on this account travellers are obliged to lie on shore every night, near to a large fire, which always prevents the approach of any beasts of prey.
On this river the soil is so extremely rich, and so luxuriantly fertile, that reeds grow even on the high land; a circumstance that I believe is not to be paralleled any where else in the universe.
The grand culture and staple here being indigo, this amazing fertility of the soil not only produces larger crops thereof than are obtained from equal quantities of ground in any other land or country, but also enhances the value of the quality of it, which is always greater according to the superior richness and depth of the soil.
Another very singular and striking appearance is a kind of moss, in long and numerous filaments, here called Spanish Beards, which hang in prodigious quantities, impending in hoary majesty from
373all the large branches of the lofty oaks, sometimes touching the very ground.
These convey a venerable idea of vast antiquity, and strike the mind with an awe, and a sensation of reverential regard that can scarcely be described.
This has also its uses, being extremely serviceable and convenient to make our beds when we sleep in the woods; and it is clean, soft, agreeable, and abundant.
The town of New Orleans is situated on the eastern banks of the Mississippi, about ninety miles above Cape Laos or Mud-Cape, where that river falls into the gulf of Mexico.
The banks of the river are so perpendicular, and the water is so deep, that a ship of any burthen may lay her broad-side to the bank, to land and unload, and is moored by a cable fastened to the trees on the shore.
The river is above a thousand yards wide, and the current runs all downwards, as the tide does not reach near the town; indeed the tide is scarcely perceived
374at all within the mouth of this astonishing river, whose waters, especially during the periodical floods, may be distinguished in the gulf of Mexico for many leagues, some say above an hundred miles out at sea.
The streets of New Orleans are laid out in rectangular directions, the houses are generally only one story high, yet many of them pretty good, and they may amount in number to three or four hundred.
The island of New Orleans is generally pretty good land, and all of it very low and flat.
It is about an hundred and eighty or ninety miles in length, but not more than five miles from navigable water at any place throughout the whole of it.
On the very next day after our arrival at New Orleans, Mr. Wood, Mr. Lewis and I waited on the Spanish Governor; but being informed that he was engaged for that day, my companions declined sending him any of the letters of introduction and recommendation they were furnished with.
Indeed these haughty Virginians were so extremely incensed at this refusal of admission, that it was with the utmost difficulty I could prevail upon them to consent to pay their personal respects to the Governor any more at all, or to send or present their credentials; especially as it did not appear to them, nor indeed to me, that he was really engaged at the time we received that message and apology of excuse from him, as we could plainly discern him, through a window, observing and making his remarks, as we judged, on us, while we were walking backwards and forwards in the piazza, in expectation of his answer; walking in that manner being a kind of exercise a Spaniard holds in great contempt.
However we were admitted on the day following, and were even honored by a very friendly reception; though I must confess that there appeared to me a stiffness and formality, in his Excellency, that indicated a distrust, and seemed to say that he could have dispensed with our visit; not that there was any thing personal meant to us,
376for the frequent proofs of civility, and even generous attention, we received from him afterwards, evinced the contrary.
But we imputed it to that narrow, illiberal, and jealous policy of the Spanish government, by which they endeavour to preclude all other nations, not only from any communication with, but even as much from the knowledge of all their American settlements as possible.
The restrictions of the Spanish government on commerce render the prices of all European goods here very much advanced, and they would actually be almost intolerable, if the inhabitants did not contrive to get many things underhandedly from the English, French, and Dutch, by means of an illicit trade.
Indeed almost all the flour that supports New Orleans is imported from Philadelphia, in vessels belonging to a commercial house there, viz. Messrs. Willing and Morris, who have obtained an exclusive priviledge, for that sole purpose, from the King of Spain.
From this the Governor makes a perquisite of twenty thousand dollars annually, as all the flour, being consigned to the King of Spain, is paid for by the Governor, who orders it to be distributed to the inhabitants at the rate of a dollar a barrel, clear gain advanced on the price, after the deduction of all costs and charges.
During the time I was at New Orleans, a gentleman from Maryland, who had fallen, by a very unfortunate accident, into the hands of the Spaniards in New Mexico, and with several other British subjects had been most cruelly treated by them, arrived there.
Having at length obtained his liberty, for he had been a considerable time very rigidly confined, he came to New Orleans, to endeavour to procure a passage, either to Virginia, Maryland, or Philadelphia.
This gentleman, descended from a Roman Catholic family in Maryland, was master of a vessel belonging to his brother
378Athanasius Ford, of Leonard Town, in St. Mary's County, and had sailed from the river Potowmak, loaded with the French Neutrals (as they were called,) who had been removed from Nova-Scotia by the British government on account of their strong predilection to the French interest there, which at every risk they were always ready to promote and support.
The vessel was navigated by British sailors, and was bound to the Mississippi, in order to carry these French Accadians to their country-men there, where they intended to settle.
But having got into the trade-winds, and being unacquainted with the navigation of that part of the gulf of Mexico after having been reduced to the greatest distress for want of provisions, their whole stock being exhausted for some time, having subsisted on the rats, cats, and even all the shoes and leather in the vessel, they ran into Bernard's bay, and landed at the mouth of Rio de la Norte, or Rio Grande, in the
379kingdom or province of New Mexico, instead of the Mississippi.
Happening to discover a horse, immediately after their coming on shore, they killed him for food, which was certainly very excusable in their emaciated starving condition.
They had scarce finished their wretched repast, when the vessel was seized on by the Spaniards, and confiscated for the use of the King; and they were carried, most; of them to the town of New Mexico, and some to Santa Fe; the capital, no less than eighty-six days journey within land from the place where they came on shore on this inhospitable coast.
Here they were all closely confined for some time.
But at length the common people were permitted to go at large, in the day, on condition of their labouring for the inhabitants.
Yet the officers belonging to the vessel, as well as all the English sailors, were still
380imprisoned with the most rigid and barbarous severity.
However they were also offered a limited enlargement, on condition of their signing a paper, written in the Spanish language, which however they privately contrived to obtain a translation of, and found it contained an acknowledgment on their parts of having been guilty of the most unjustifiable and aggravated crimes, and of being treated with the greatest humanity and tenderness during this their captivity.
This they had the resolution and virtue of refusing to subscribe to, although they were actually in danger of starving and perishing for want of necessary food.
At length a priest, possessed of more humanity than the rest of the barbarous inhabitants of that country, having called to visit them, took compassion on their extreme wretchedness, made them a present of a fat bullock every day, and interested himself so effectually for them as to obtain their enlargement.
But so numerous were this man's flocks of cattle, as well as of horses, that although these poor unfortunate creatures received above an hundred oxen from him, yet they could not be missed out of the whole flock.
And Mr. Ford assured me that he possessed more than fifteen thousand horned cattle, and near ten thousand horses and colts, which were kept fat without any trouble the whole year round by the luxuriant pasture which that country affords.
For it seems the land there is not overgrown with woods, as in the rest of America, but is universally a rich meadow, abounding with the finest grass in the world, and interspersed here and there with clumps or clutters of tall and stately trees.
I made no considerable stay at New Orleans, which to me as well as to Mr. Wood, Mr. Lewis, and Mr. Ford, was rather a disagreeable place; and Mr. Lewis and I set out in a batteau for Manchac, leaving both Mr. Wood and Mr. Ford there, who were about engaging a passage
382for Philadelphia in one of Willing and Morris's vessels.
It was five days before we arrived at Mr. Edmund Gray's near Manchac; but here I was most agreeably surprised at meeting with an old acquaintance from Georgia, along with whom I had been initiated into the mysteries of free-masonry, in my journey through North-Carolina.
His name was Allan Groves, and as he proposed returning to Georgia by the same route as I did, we all agreed to join company together.
Having procured a batteau on the Ibberville, or Amit River, which falls into Lake Maurepas, we embarked, and coasted along the lakes, viz. Maurepas and Ponchatrain, passing by the mouth of the Nita Albany River, the Tangepahoa River, the Chesoncto River, and the Pearl River which is divided into two branches, called West River and East River, when it falls into the lake or bay of St. Lewis; also the river Ookahootoo, the Chencala River, the Booka Hooma River, Hunting River,
383Pasquagoocula River, Cedar River, Pines Bay, and Pool River.
Having touched by the way at a vast many islands, among which are Mattheuraux Island, Roebuck Island, Cat Island, Ship Island, Broad Key, and Dauphin Island, we arrived at Mobile point, at the mouth of the great bay of Mobile, which is formed by a vast concourse of mighty waters.
Here we made no stay, but immediately proceeded on our coasting voyage; passing the mouth of Perdido River, Escambe or Jordan River, Middle or Governors River, Chester River, St. Rosa River, Bay and Island, Chatahooche River, St. Andrew's Bay, River, and Island, Roebuck point, St. Joseph's Bay, Cape St. Blas or Escondido, and St. George's Island which forms the mouths of the river Calistobole, and of the mighty river of Apalachicola, which is the eastern boundary of the, province of West Florida.
The lands in this province are indeed most amazingly fertile and rich, especially on the banks of the Mississippi.
Old plantations, cultivated by the French fifty or sixty years, produced last year, that is the year before I was there, from forty to sixty bushels of Indian corn to the acre.
The culture of every thing here is altogether by hand hoes, and manual labour of slaves, without the assistance of horses or oxen.
Before I take my leave of the province of West Florida, it may not be improper to give a sketch of the courses, extent, and combination of the rivers; the distances between different places, as well within the province, as on the west side of the river Mississippi, along the coast of the Bay of Mexico; as also the state of the colony, culture of the soil, staple commodities, and population, of West Florida.
West Florida is bounded on the south by the Gulf of Mexico, including all islands, &c. within six leagues of the coast, from the mouth of Apalachicola to the lake Ponchartrain; on the west it is bounded by the lake Mauripas, and
386a canal, or river, named Ibberville, that joins the last mentioned lake to the Mississippi, and by the Mississippi itself; on the north by a line drawn due east from that part of the river Mississippi, which lies in the latitude of thirty-one degrees north, until it intersects the river Apalachicola or Catahouachee; and on the east by the said river, until it falls into the Gulf of Mexico.
Its greatest length from east to west, viz. from Apalachicola to the Mississippi, is about four hundred statute miles; but its breadth is inconsiderable from north to south, being in few places sixty-nine miles according to these boundaries.
From Rose Bay, and St. Mary's Bay, to the north line, is not more than forty miles, which is the general distance across, as far west as the lakes Ponchartrain and Mauripas.
From the mouth of the rivers Calistobole and Apalachicola to the north line is eighty-five miles, which is the widest part of the province.
From cape Loas, or Mud Cape, at the mouth of the Mississippi, to the canal cut by the French from the Ibberville to the Mississippi, being the northern boundary of New Orleans on the east of the Mississippi, is about an hundred and eighty miles by land.
The widest part of the island of New Orleans is from Turtle Point, and the Isles Aux Assiettes, opposite to Cat Island, to the Mississippi, and is not more than forty miles at the broadest part, which is about thirty-five miles above the mouth of the river: then above that place, from lakes Ponchartrain and Mauripas, and from the Amit and Ibberville rivers, it is not more than five miles, in general, to the Mississippi.
The town of New Orleans is in that narrow part, between the south end of lake Ponchartrain and the Mississippi, about ninety miles south from the canal or river of Ibberville, and about the same distance north from the mouth of the Mississippi.
From the uppermost, or most northerly end of the Island of New Orleans, to that part of the Mississippi at the thirty-first degree of north latitude, is just fifty miles.
These distances are in direct courses over land, by no means following the meanders of the rivers, which would generally render them double.
This boundary, already mentioned, was that first established for the province of West Florida; but I have understood that the north line has been extended farther up the river since, to include the Natches, and the mouth of the river Yassous, to which last place it was carried back by Governor Johnstone's proclamation.
From the upper part of the island of New Orleans to the confluence of the Yassous is about a hundred and thirty miles north.
From the mouth of the river Yassous, south to Natches Old Town, is about eighty miles; from Natches, south to Baton Rouge, and Fort Bute, is about
389seventy-five miles; from thence south, to the mouth of Hooma River, where it enters the lake Mauripas, is about seventy-five miles.
From the mouth of the Yassous up to the first considerable fork, which is on the west side, is about twelve miles; and the Yassous is navigable forty-five leagues from its confluence with the Mississippi.
This province, extending so far along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico, and along the rivers Mississippi and Apalachicola, being about five hundred and ninety, or six hundred miles, must consequently include a prodigious number of rivers; the chief of which, as well as of all North America and perhaps in the world, is the mighty and majestic river Mississippi, navigable to the falls of St. Anthony, which is computed to be eighteen hundred miles, and afterwards for a thousand miles above the falls in batteaux and canoes; having the richest lands, the happiest and most delightful variety of
390climates, and passing through the largest and finest country upon earth.
Where it derives its source is not known, having been traced as far as fifty-five degrees north latitude, and an hundred and ten degrees west longitude from London; being even there a very large river.
The country in that part is very flat and marshy, and the Indians themselves cannot tell how much farther north and west it has its source.
From that place it runs in a south-east direction to the forty-second degree north latitude, and ninetieth west longitude; then with many vast bendings, continues almost a due south course, until it falls into the Gulf of Mexico in north latitude twenty-nine degrees ten minutes, and eighty-nine degrees thirty-five minutes west longitude; having received a vast number of wide, extensive, and mighty rivers, and having stretched along this globe in a direct course, which, has been traced, above three thousand
391miles; and including the prodigious number of its bendings and meanders not less than six or seven thousand miles.
Its name in the Indian language is said to signify parent of rivers, or eldest son of the Ocean.
It receives more than an hundred very considerable rivers in its course, many of them some thousand miles in length, the chief of which on the eastern side are the following, viz.
First the Illinois, whose source is between the lakes Illinois or Michegan, Huron, and Erie; as the Mississippi itself, in one of its vast bendings, approaches near to lake Superior.
The second is the vast river Ohio, or Fair River, a prodigious concourse of mighty waters, extending behind all the British settlements, whose source is almost in New York government, being navigable in large batteaux within fourteen miles of lake Erie; so that the French, before the conquest of Canada by the British, sent three thousand men, with artillery,
392military stores, baggage, &c. from Quebec to New Orleans; viz. up the river St. Laurence, across lake Ontario, and lake Erie, and down French Creek, the Ohio, and the Mississippi.
The Ohio itself receives above an hundred rivers in its course, some of which (particularly the Cherokee or Hogohegee) are equal to the largest in Europe.
The last river that falls into the Mississippi on the eastern side, that I shall take notice of, is the Yassous, a fine, placid, deep, and beautiful stream, being navigable near an hundred and fifty miles.
It takes its rise near the falls of the Cherokee, or Hogohegee River, and runs through the Chickesaw nation, receiving many branches, but none very considerable, in its course of three hundred miles to the Mississippi, which is in a direct line, or five hundred miles with its windings.
From the source to the mouth of this very fine river, it is a most delightful open country, with few mountains or hills,
393considering its inland situation, and is the happiest, and most excellent and agreeable climate in the world.
It is possessed chiefly by the Chickesaws, a very gallant, brave, and respectable nation, and firm Allies of Great Britain, as has been already mentioned.
On the western side of the Mississippi are many vast rivers, but none more considerable than the Ohio. However not one of them is so well known.
The largest is the Pohitenous,or Misouri, whose source has not been discovered, and whose course extends (perhaps) some thousand miles, before it enters the Mississippi, which is almost opposite to the confluence of the Illinois, only about twenty-seven miles below.
A large river north of the Missoury is the river Moingona, and still farther north is St. Peter's River.
South of the Missouri is the river St. Francis; proceeding southward, the next is the Imahans or Akansaw River.
Then that most excellent, valuable, and delightful river, named Rio Rouge, or Red River, which is of vast extent, extremely crooked, placid, and beautiful beyond description.
The Red River receives two very large branches on the north side, named the Black River, and Ox River, and falls into the Mississippi almost opposite to Tonikas in West Florida: this is the last river I shall take notice of on the western side of the Mississippi.
The most remarkable places west, along the coast of the great Bay of Mexico, from Cape Laos, or Mud Cape, at the mouth of the Mississippi, is first la Balise Fort and Island, some distance west is Ensenada de Palos, then Woods Bay and Island, Ouachas Lake, Ascension Bay, Vermillion Bay, then from Ouachas Lake to North Cape are eight small rivers, and two lakes.
There is also an island at the Cape, in which indeed the Cape is itself, first discovered in the year one thousand seven hundred and twenty-six.
West of the Cape, the first is a small river, and a large bay named Jacdaiches Bay, with three rivers running into it; the next is Mexicana River, which some distance from the sea is named Adayes River; then a small but long island; then the river Floris; a long island; the river Magdalen; another island; and a small river; then Rio de la Trinidad; Dun River which falls into la Maligne River; Colorado or Cane River; little Cane River; and Guadaloupe River; Leon River; Rio del Vino; and Honda or Deep River, all fall into St. Bernards or St. Lewis's Bay, and the Bay of St. Joseph.
On the south-west of Maligne River M. la Salle settled in the year 1685, and was killed about three hundred miles up Trinidad River, in the year 1687.
On the river Sablomini is the town and settlement of Presidio; within the bay are five islands; and upon the banks of these different rivers and their branches are the nations of Killamouches and Allacappa, wandering Indians,
The rivers Guadaloupe and Leon fall into St. Joseph's Bay, on the south-west of which is a very long and large island named St. Joseph's island; and the rivers Honda, Del Vino, Sacro, and Nuces or Nutts, fall into a Bay on the south-west of it, forming St. Joseph's Lake or Bay.
On the south south-west is the mouth of the great river Bravo, or De la Norte, which bounds on the north and east the kingdom of New Leon, and is indeed a very large and noble river.
The next river of any note is Rio de las Palmas, which is named Rio de las Nacos at some distance from the sea. This is a fine beautiful large river, and derives its source within an hundred miles of the Gulf of California in the south sea.
Rio de la Norte or North River is also a very extensive and charming river, considerably larger than the last mentioned one, running in a course about middle way between the Mississippi and the Californian Gulf, and the rivers Colorado, le los Martyres, and Rio Grande le los
397Apostolos, or Del Coral or Blue River, which form or fall into the Gulf, but is nearer to California by five or six hundred miles than to the Mississippi.
These vast rivers, especially Rio de la Norte, and the Missouri, head very near each other, about the forty-sixth degree north latitude, and the hundred and fifth. west longitude.
I have thus investigated the source of these prodigious and extensive waters, on a foundation that may be relied on; and it will give power to form a more just and perfect idea of the country, by mentioning the distances these vast waters, and principal places, are from each other.
From Cape Loas to Bernard's Bay is about four hundred and fifty miles, thence to the mouth of Rio de la Norte two hundred, then to Rio de la Palmas is seventy-five miles, which make altogether seven hundred and twenty-five miles.
The course of Rio de las Palmas is nearly east, and the extent of it about five hundred and fifty miles.
From the mouth of Rio de las Palmas, in the Gulf of Mexico, west to the south sea, at the mouth of the river Culiacan, the beginning of the Californian Gulf, is six hundred miles.
From Tonikas on the Mississippi to Mexico, or Juan Baptista on Rio de la Norte, is six hundred and fifty miles; viz. to the crossing of Red River an hundred and fifty, to Adayes seventy-five, to Trinidad seventy-five, to the Rio St. Marco is an hundred and fifty, to Mexico on the North River two hundred.
From Mexico to California, at the Bay of St. Lucas, Pearl River, or the Bay of St. Mary's near Cinaloa, or to Culiacan, is five hundred and seventy-five miles; viz. to the head of Pearl River three hundred and seventy-five miles, to the mouth two hundred and fifty miles, this being in the south part of New Navarre.
New Mexico or St. Paul's is about six hundred miles, up the North River, from the Gulf of Mexico.