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Early western travels 1748-1846 : A series of annotated reprints of some of the best and rarest contemporary… Thwaites, Reuben Gold, 1853-1913 1905

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Array         Early Western Travels
1748-i 846
Volume XIII
m / Early Western Travels
A Series of Annotated Reprints of some of the best
and rarest contemporary volumes of travel, descriptive of the Aborigines and Social and
Economic Conditions in the Middle
and Far West, during the Period
of Early American Settlement
Edited with Notes, Introductions, Index, etc., by
Reuben Gold Thwaites, LL.D.
Editor of "The Jesuit Relations and Allied Documents,"  "Original
Journals of the Lewis and Clark Expedition," "Hennepin's
New Discovery," etc.
Volume XIII
NuttalFs Travels into the Arkansa
Territory, 1819
Cleveland, Ohio
The Arthur H. Clark Company
i9°5 u*tt««Hu»m
Copyright 1905, by
STtje îUkcsirjt Jpvcus
Preface.    The Editor	
A Journal of Travels into the Arkansa Territory, during the year 1819, with Occasional Observations on the
Manners of the Aborigines.    Thomas Nuttall, F.L.S.
Copyright Notice .......
Author's Dedication      ......
Author's Preface .......
Author's Table of Contents   .....
Text   I	
Section I.    An Account of  the Ancient Aboriginal Population of the Banks of the Mississippi and the Contiguous Country
Section II.   The History of the Natchez  .
Section HE.    Observations   on   the   Chicasaws
and Choctaws ......
Section IV.    Thermometrical   Observations   in
the Arkansa Territory, during the year 1819
n 1 i
"A Map of the Arkansas River, by H. S. Tanner "       .        . 22
Facsimile of title-page to Nuttall...... 23
"Distant View of the Mamelle"  153
"Mamelle"  159
"Cadron Settlement"  163
"Magazin Mountain"  185
"Cavaniol Mountain"        ....... 203
I m
The present volume of our series is devoted to a reprint
of Thomas Nuttall's Journal of Travels into the Arkansa
Territory, during the year 181c, with Occasional Observations on the Manners of the Aborigines, originally published at Philadelphia in 1821.
Nuttall was born in the market town of Settle, West
Riding, Yorkshire, in 1786.1 His parents being in
humble circumstances, at an early age he was apprenticed to a printer, probably an uncle who was a member
of that craft, in Liverpool. After a few years, becoming
dissatisfied with his employer, he journeyed to London,
where his pecuniary condition approached so near to destitution that he emigrated to the United States, arriving
at Philadelphia in 1808, aged twenty-two.
In spite of the disadvantages which had beset him in
his early years, a natural love for books and a faculty for
application had by this time given him some knowledge
of history, Greek, and Latin, and much of natural science,
already his favorite study. Soon after his arrival in Philadelphia, he was seeking information relative to a plant
which interested him, when he met Dr. Benjamin Smith
Barton; the interview stimulated him to the botanical
studies on which his fame as a scientist chiefly rests, and
he soon began to make excursions, especially along the
1 The chief source of information concerning Nuttall's life is a " Biographical
Notice" prepared upon his death by Elias Durand, for the American Philosophical Society, and published in their Proceedings for 1859-60 (volume viii, p. 297).
Other details are given in his writings, especiaEy the Journal, and in Bradbury
and Townsend, who were his associates on other expeditions (see volumes v
and xxi of our series).
i 12
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 13
seacoast as far south as North Carolina. In 1810, he
accompanied John Bradbury (whose Travels comprise
volume v of our series), on the latter's scientific expedition
into the Missouri country, described in volume v of our
Nuttall returned to Philadelphia early in 1811, and during the succeeding eight years spent his summers in excursions within the area east of the Mississippi, his winters
being passed in studying the collections thus acquired.
The fruits of these studies appeared in The Genera of
North American Plants and a Catalogue of the Species to
1817 (Philadelphia, 2 vols., 1818), for which he personally
set most of the type. Just before the appearance of this
work, Nuttall, who was already a member of the Lin-
naean Society of London, was elected to membership
both in the American Philosophical Society and the Academy of Natural Sciences, at Philadelphia. To the journal
published by the Academy he became a frequent contributor.
Being well acquainted with the cis-Mississippi region,
and having already visited the Northwest, he now turned
his thoughts to the Southwest. He had long desired to
visit the Arkansas country, which still offered a practically virgin field for the scientific investigator.2 Accordingly, assisted by a number of friends who were likewise
interested in science,3 he prepared for the journey
which is herein recorded, and set out from Philadelphia
on the second of October, 1818.   Crossing southern Penn-
2 The expeditions of William Dunbar and Dr. George Hunter, who explored
the Ouachita as far as Hot Springs in 1804, under a commission from President Jefferson, and of Lieutenant James B. Wilkinson, who descended the
Arkansas River under General Z. M. Pike's orders in 1806, were primarily
geographical and topographical reconnaissances.
3 This fact, and the names of Nuttall's patrons, appear in the dedication. 1818-1820]
sylvania to Pittsburg, and descending the Ohio and
Mississippi by boat, he arrived at Arkansas Post on
January 22, 1819. Thence ascending the Arkansas
River, he reached the recently-founded Fort Smith on
April 24. Here he remained for three weeks, studying
the flora of the vicinity. On May 16, he set out from the
post with the commandant, Major Bradford, and a
company of soldiers; and crossed the wilderness to Red
River, following the Poteau and Kiamichi. Near the
mouth of the latter, while loitering to collect some curious
plants, he became separated from his companions and
was compelled to spend three weeks with the squatters,
awaiting the departure of a party for Fort Smith, where
he finally arrived after an absence of five weeks.
On July 6, Nuttall again left Fort Smith in the boat of
a trader whose establishment was situated at the mouth
of Verdigris River. Reaching this point on the fourteenth,
nearly a month was spent in making short trips to study
the plant-life and geology of the neighborhood, and in
observing the habits of the Osage Indians.
On August 11, accompanied by a hunter for guide, he
began the final stage of his journey, having as its objective the river now called Cimarron. At this season the
streams were stagnant, and the intense heat, foul water,
poor food, and night dews soon brought on a fever, which
came near terminating our traveller's career. The
Indians, moreover, were an almost constant source of
annoyance and danger. Nuttall rejected the guide's
suggestion of a return to the Verdigris, and finally it
became impracticable; so the two pushed on until the
Cimarron was reached. By this time his fever had somewhat abated, and an effort was made to ascend that river.
The loss of one of the two horses, however, compelled the Early Western Travels
[Vol. 13
abandonment of the project, and a canoe was built, in
which the guide essayed to return by water while his
chief rode the remaining horse. Setting forth in this
fashion, still beset by Indians, who pilfered from them on
every pretext, they soon found that the horse could not
keep pace with the boat. The two travellers thereupon
agreed to separate, and Nuttall completed the journey to
the Verdigris alone, arriving, more dead than alive, on
September 15. For a week he was unable to proceed
farther; at Fort Smith another long halt was necessary,
but on October 16 he began the descent of the Arkansas,
and reached New Orleans on February 18, 1820, without
further mishap.
Two years later, Nuttall was appointed curator of the
botanical garden of Harvard College. He spent several
years at Cambridge cultivating rare plants, pursuing his
studies, and delivering occasional lectures. These years
were fruitful in contributions to Silliman's Journal, the
Journal of the Academy of Natural Sciences, the Transactions of the American Philosophical Society, and the
American Journal of the Medical Sciences.* A little
later appeared his Introduction to Systematic and Physiological Botany, and at about the same time he produced
the Manual of the Ornithology of the United States and
Canada (Part I, Land Birds, Cambridge, 1832; Part II,
Water Birds, Boston, 1834). The life at Cambridge was,
however, distasteful to him; he declared that he was, like
his plants, only vegetating. His instincts and habits
drew him to the wilderness, that he might unravel its
secrets. About the beginning of 1833, ne nad received a
collection of plants gathered by Captain Nathaniel Jarvis
4 For full titles of the numerous essays, see the sketch of his life, referred to
in note i, ante. i8i8-i82o]
Wyeth during a journey overland to Oregon. With interest in the far Northwest thus quickened, Nuttall joined
Wyeth when he set out on a second expedition,6 resigning his position at Harvard when the college authorities
refused to grant a leave of absence. He was accompanied by John K. Townsend, as representative of the
Philosophical Society and the Academy of Natural Sciences. The party rendezvoused at Independence, Missouri, and began the long march on April 28, 1834.
Nuttall and Townsend passed the autumn exploring the
environs of Fort Vancouver; but as winter drew near,
they embarked on a Boston brig bound for the Sandwich
Islands, where they arrived January 5, 1835. Two
months later, leaving Townsend, Nuttall sailed to the
California coast, where he passed the summer, returning
thence to the Sandwich Islands and embarking for Boston
by way of Cape Horn, on board the vessel whose cruise has
been made famous by Dana's Two Years before the Mast.
Upon reaching the United States, Nuttall resumed his
abode in Philadelphia. In 1840, the results of the Pacific
journey were published in the Transactions of the Philosophical Society, in the form of two long essays, entitled :
j 'Descriptions of new species and genera of plants in the
natural order Compositse, collected in a tour across the
continent to the Pacific, a residence in Oregon, and a visit
to the Sandwich Islands and California, in the years 1834
and 1835;" and "Description and notices of new and rare
plants of the natural orders Lobeliaceœ, Campanulaceœ,
Vacciniceae and Ericaceae, collected in a journey across the
continent of North America, and during a visit to the
Sandwich Islands and Upper California."
5 Wyeth's expedition was dispatched for the purpose of establishing trading
posts for the Columbia Fishing and Trading Company. i6
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 13
Nuttall's last work, The North American Sylva; or a
Description of the Forest-Trees of the United States, Canada
and Nova Scotia, not described in the work of François
André Michaux (Philadelphia, 3 vols., 1842-49), was, as
the title indicates, undertaken as a supplement to the
earlier work of Michaux.6 It was completed on the
eve of his departure from the United States, and entrusted
to a friend for publication. Part one of the first volume
appeared in 1842, and the second part the following year.
The remaining volumes were delayed by various causes,
not being printed until 1846 and 1849, respectively.
In 1841, by the bequest of an uncle, Nuttall received
the estate of Nutgrove, near Liverpool, with the accompanying condition that during the remainder of his life
he reside in England at least nine months of each year.
Reluctantly leaving the land of his adoption and the field
of his labors, impelled, it is said,7 by regard for the needs
of his sisters' families, he retired to the ancestral estate,
which he largely devoted to the cultivation of rare plants.
He revisited America in 1847-48; by taking three months
at the end of the first year and three at the beginning of the
next, he was able to spend six consecutive months outside
of England without infraction of the terms of his relative's
will. After seventeen years of the simple farm life which
both his disposition and circumstances required, his death
came, September 10, 1859, as the result of overstraining
in his eagerness at unpacking a case of plants which had
been sent to him from Asia.
Nuttall's natural shyness was enhanced by the character
8 Histoire des arbres forestiers de l'Amérique du Nord (Paris (?), 4 vols.,
1810-13); translation by Augustus L. Hillhouse, North American Sylva, or a
description of the forest trees of the United States, Canada and Nova Scotia
(Paris, 3 vols., i8r9).
7 See the Durand Memorial. i8i8-i82o]
of his studies, so largely pursued in the solitude of the
field or forest. Both in Cambridge and Philadelphia, his
circle of acquaintance was quite small; even his intimates
in Philadelphia declaring that they knew not the place of
his residence — his intercourse with them was largely
in their homes. Of a contemplative mind, his manner
was often abstracted, yet with those of like interests he
was companionable and communicative. His head was
large and bald, his forehead broad, his features small;
he was fair of feature, and often pale from application to
his work; and stout and slightly stooped of frame, but
above middle height. The story of his explorations proves
him to have been of an active temperament. A persistent
worker, his enthusiasm was unlimited. "To me," he
said, "hardships and privations are cheaply purchased,
if I may but roam over the wild domain of primeval
nature . . . My chief converse has been in the wilderness with the spontaneous productions of nature; and
the study of these subjects and their contemplation have
been to me a source of constant delight." Several anecdotes are related, which illustrate his ardor. On one of
his early excursions to the Carolina coast, he was badly
bitten by mosquitoes; but, absorbed in his investigations,
was unconscious of the presence of the insects until, upon
approaching a dwelling, he was thought to be afflicted
with small-pox, and well-nigh driven away. When rounding Cape Horn, with the vessel beset by wind and icebergs,
he vainly pleaded with the captain to be set on shore if only
for a few hours, that he might examine the vegetation of
that little-known coast.8
Nuttall will chiefly be remembered as a man of science.
His work was painstaking, and he made solid contributions
8 Dana, Two Years Before the Mast, quoted by Durand.
# Early Western Travels
[Vol. 13
to the knowledge of his generation. Nor was he in his
own lifetime denied his meed of praise, especially for his
botanical work. Contemporary reviews of his books were
usually appreciative; a fellow-member9 of the American
Philosophical Society left this testimony: "No other
explorer of the botany of North America has, personally,
made more discoveries; no writer on American plants,
except perhaps Professor Asa Gray, has described more
new genera and species. His name will live as long as
our Flora remains an object of study."
The journal of the Arkansas journey, reprinted in the
present volume, while primarily interesting to the scientist is not without value for the historian. The author
was fairly well acquainted with the principal printed
accounts of Spanish and French exploration in the region,
as well as with the reports of the previous American visitors. But Nuttall's historical statements are not invariably
accurate; the value of the work lies in the record of his
personal observations, from which we obtain often
graphic descriptions of the settled portions of the Arkansas country and the state of civilization prevalent there in
1819. Neither does our author neglect the Indians, in
whom he was much interested. His book ranks high as
a source of information regarding the native tribes of
that region, especially the Quapaw; although such of his
information as was obtained second hand needs the corrective of critical study.
In the preparation of this volume for the press, the
Editor has had the assistance of Homer C. Hockett,
fellow in American history in the University of Wisconsin.
R. G. T.
Madison, Wis., February, 1905.
1 Elias Durand, in sketch already cited. 'w
Nuttall's Journal or Travels into the Arkansa
October 2, 1818-February 18, 1820
Reprint of the original edition:   Philadelphia, 1821
1 M
ft/ k
«msrwim miamim
*m ft#
BE IT  REMEMBERED,   That on the sixth day  of
[l. s.]   November, in the forty-sixth year of the independence of the
United States of America, A.D. 1821, Thomas H. Palmer, of
the said District, has deposited in this office, the title of a book, the
right whereof he claims as proprietor, in the words following, to wit:
" A journal of Travels into the Arkansa Territory, during the year
1819, with occasional observations on the manners of the Aborigines.
Illustrated by a map and other engravings. By Thomas Nuttall,
F.L.S. Honorary member of the American Philosophical Society,
and of the Academy of Natural Sciences, &c."
In conformity to the act of the Congress of the United States,
entitled, "An Act for the encouragement of learning, by securing the
copies of Maps, Charts, and Books, to the authors and proprietors of
such copies during the times therein mentioned."— And also to the
Act, entitled, "An Act supplementary to an act, entitled, "An act for
the encouragement of learning, by securing the copies of Maps,
Charts, and Books, to the authors and proprietors of such copies
during the times therein mentioned," and extending the benefits
thereof to the arts of designing, engraving, and etching historical and
other prints."
Clerk of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. TO
SOCIETY,   &C.   &C.
Permit me to lay before you, the humble narrative of
a journey, chiefly undertaken for the investigation of the
natural history of a region hitherto unexplored. Excuse
the imperfect performance of the gratifying task which
your liberality had imposed, but which was rendered
almost abortive by the visitations of affliction.
If, in so tiresome a volume of desultory remarks, you
should meet with some momentary gratification, some
transient amusement, or ray of information, the author
will receive the satisfaction of not having laboured entirely
in vain. Hi
To those who vaguely peruse the narratives of travellers
for pastime or transitory amusement, the present volume
is by no means addressed. It is no part of the author's
ambition to study the gratification of so fastidious a taste
as that, which but too generally governs the readers of the
present day; a taste, which has no criterion but passing
fashion, which spurns at every thing that possesses not
the charm of novelty, and the luxury of embellishment.
We live no longer in an age that tolerates the plain
' 'unvarnished tale." Our language must now be crowded
with the spoils of those which are foreign to its native
idiom; it must be perplexed by variety, and rendered
ambiguous and redundant by capricious ornament.
Hermes, no longer the plain messenger of the gods, exercises all his deceit, and mingles luxury in the purest of
intellectual streams.
Had I solely consulted my own gratification, the present
volume would probably never have been offered to the
public. But, as it may contain some physical remarks
connected with the history of the country, and with that
[vi] of the unfortunate aborigines, who are so rapidly dwindling into oblivion, and whose fate may, in succeeding generations, excite a curiosity and compassion denied them by
the present,I have considered myself partly excused in offering a small edition to the scientific part of the community,
just sufficient to defray the expenses of the printer, who
kindly undertook the publication at his own risk. I may
safely say, that hitherto, so far from writing for emolument,
I have sacrificed both time and fortune to it.   For nearly mMMMiiiiHI
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 13
ten years I have travelled throughout America, principally
with a view of becoming acquainted with some favourite
branches of its natural history. I have had no other end
in view than personal gratification, and in this I have not
been deceived, for innocent amusement can never leave
room for regret. To converse, as it were, with nature, to
admire the wisdom and beauty of creation, has ever been,
and I hope ever will be, to me a favourite pursuit. To
communicate to others a portion of the same amusement
and gratification has been the only object of my botanical
publications; the most remote idea of personal emolument
arising from them, from every circumstance connected
with them, could not have been admitted into calculation.
I had a right, however, reasonably to expect from Americans a degree of candour, at least equal to that which my
labours had met with in Europe. But I have found,
what, indeed, I might have [vii] reason to expect from
human nature, often, instead of gratitude, detraction and
envy. With such, I stoop not to altercate; my endeavours,
however imperfect, having been directed to the public
good; and I regret not the period I have spent in roaming
over the delightful fields of Flora, in studying all her mysteries and enigmas, if I have, in any instance, been useful
to her cause, or opened to the idle wanderer one fruitful
field for useful reflexion.
Not wishing to enlarge the present publication, or retard it by the addition of a voluminous appendix, I reserve
for a subsequent volume, which will shortly be issued,
A general view and description of the aboriginal antiquities
of the western states, and some essays on the languages of
the western Indians, and their connection with those of
other parts of the world, involving, in some measure, a
general view of language, both oral and graphical. 1818-1820]
The surveys and collections towards a history of the
aboriginal antiquities, have remained unpublished in my
possession for several years, and would have been longer
withheld, in hopes of rendering them more complete, had
not an unexpected anticipation obliged the author to hasten
to do justice to himself, and claim, at least, that which
was due to his personal industry.
The aboriginal languages of America, hitherto so neglected and unjustly consigned to oblivion as the useless
relics of barbarism, are, [viii] nevertheless, perhaps destined to create a new era in the history of primitive language. In their mazes is infolded a history of morals, of
remote connections, of vicissitudes and emigrations, which
had escaped the circumstantial pen of history; and yet,
however strange it may appear, are more durably impressed than if engraven upon tablets of brass, and possessed of an intrinsic veracity nothing short of inspiration.
The literary character of the aboriginal languages of
America, have, of late years, begun to claim the attention
of the learned both in Europe and America. The reports
and correspondence of the Historical committee appointed
by the American Philosophical Society, stand meritoriously
preeminent in this research; and it must be highly gratifying to the public to know, that the same members continue
still to labour in the field with unabated vigour. These
various efforts united, I may venture to predict, will be
crowned with successful discoveries which could not have
been anticipated, and which will ultimately contribute
towards the development of that portion of human history,
which, above all others, appeared to be so impenetrably
buried in oblivion.
Philadelphia, November, 1821. W t
m It
CHAP. I.— Departure from Philadelphia. Geological remarks.
Route through Harrisburgh and Carlisle to Cammel's town. Loudon,
and the adjacent mountain scenery. The North Mountain. Cove
Mountain. Passage of the Juniata, and surrounding scenery. Bedford. Organic remains. The Alleghany Ridge. Stoy's-town. First
indications of bituminous coal. Laurel Mountain. Greensburgh.
Arrival at Pittsburgh; manufactures; scenery, and peculiar character
of its coal-mines.
CHAP. II.— Departure from Pittsburgh. Autumnal scenery.
Georgetown. The unfortunate emigrant. Steubenville. Picturesque scenery. Wheeling. Little Grave creek, and the Great
Mound. Other aboriginal remains. Marietta. Belpré settlement.
Other ancient remains. Coal. Galliopolis. Ancient level of the
alluvial forest. Misletoe. Aboriginal remains. Big Sandy creek,
and commencement of Cane-land. Corn-husking. Salt creek.
Maysville. Organic remains. Cincinnati. Lawrenceburgh. The
French emigrant. Vevay. Madison. Louisville. Prevalence of
particular winds on the Ohio.   Falls of the Ohio.
CHAP. HI.— Departure from Shippingsport. Velocity of the
current. Troy. Owensville. Indigence of the hunting emigrants.
Mounds. Evansville. The Diamond island. Shawneetown.
Grandeur of the river, and the uncultivated state of the surrounding
country. Fort Massac. Arrival at the mouth of the Ohio. Delayed by the ice of the Mississippi, [x] A visit from the Delaware
and Shawnee Indians. Observations on their mutual jealousy and
CHAP. IV.— Embark amidst the ice of the Mississippi. Run
aground on Wolf's island in attempting to land. Relieved from this
situation, but find ourselves again involved in it, and are imposed
upon by the extortion of a neighbouring voyager. Pass the Iron
banks. Cypress. Solitude of the country. New Madrid. Oscillations of the earth still frequent. Point Pleasant. Vestiges of the
great earthquake. The Little Prairie settlement almost destroyed by
it. The Canadian reach. A dangerous and difficult pass of the
river.   The first Chickasaw Bluffs.    Additional danger and uncer- 32
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 13
tainty of the navigation. Stratification of the Bluff. A dangerous
accident. The second Chickasaw Bluffs. Observations on their
CHAP. V.—Pass the third Chickasaw Bluff. Dangers of the
navigation, and solitude of the country. The fourth Bluff of the
Chickasaws. Lignite prevalent. Chickasaw Indians. St. Francis
river. Depopulation of the neighbouring country. Trees of the
alluvial forest. Destruction of the Big Prairie settlement. Scrub
grass. Difficulties of the navigation. Changes of the soil, produced
by the agency of the river. A visit from three of the Arkansa Indians.
A dense fog over the river; the cause of it. Arrival near the mouth
of the Arkansa and White river.
CHAP. VI.— Proceed up White river for the Arkansa. Suspicious conduct of one of the boatmen. Pass through the connecting
bayou, and proceed up the Arkansa; its navigation; soil and surrounding scenery. A small French settlement. Extraordinary mildness of the season. Mounds. Changes in the alluvial lands produced by the agency of the river. Land speculators. Vegetation of
the alluvial lands. The town or post of Arkansas. Enormous land
[xi] claims. Difficulty of navigating against the current. The Great
Prairie. First settlement on the Arkansa; its present state. Agricultural advantages arising from the mildness of the climate. Storax.
Aboriginal remains. The Quapaws or Arkansas. Their traditions
and character.
CHAP. VII.— Departure from Arkansas. Indian villages.
Mooney's settlement. Curran's settlement. Interview with the
Quapaw chief. The Pine Bluffs. Soil, climate, and productions.
The Little Rock. Roads. Mountains. Vegetation. The Mamelle.
Cadron settlement. Tumuli. Soil and climate. Pecannerie settlement. Mountains. Cherokees. The Magazine mountain. Dar-
danelle settlement. Manners and customs of the Cherokees. The
war with the Osages.
CHAP. VIII.— Pass several inconsiderable rivulets, and obtain
sight of the Tomahawk mountain and the Gascon hills. Mulberry
creek; that of Vache Grasse. Lee's creek. Prairies. Sugarloaf
mountain. Arrive at the garrison of Belle Point. A change in the
vegetation. The Madura or Bow-wood. The garrison. Cedar
prairie.   Rare plants.
BffljBfflflWfflBÎWHmwraffiBlHmRw 1818-1820]
Nuttall's fournal
CHAP. IX.— Journey to Red river. Prairies and mountains of
the Pottoe. Pass the dividing ridge. Kiamesha river. Arrival on
the banks of Red river. The murder of a Cherokee; attempts to obtain redress. Wild horses. Character, geological structure, and
rare vegetable productions of the prairies. Return to the garrison
at Belle Point.
CHAP. X.— Continue my voyage up the Arkansa. Geological
remarks. Pass several lesser rivulets, and the outlet of the Canadian
and the Illinois. Salt springs. Obstructions in the navigation.
Indications of coal.   Pass Grand river, and enter the Verdigris.
CHAP. XI.— Character of the surrounding country of the Verdigris river.   Remarks on the Osage Indians.
[xii] CHAP. Xn.— An excursion up Grand River to visit the
Osage salt works. Geological observations. Return across the
prairie; its general appearance and phenomena.
CHAP. Xm.— Interviews with the Osages. Occasional observations on their manners, habits, &c.    Sickness in the encampment.
CHAP. XTV.— Journey by land to the Great Salt river of the
Arkansa. Proceed across the prairies to the Little North Fork of
the Canadian. Detained by sickness. Continue up the Little North
Fork, arrive at Salt river, and afterwards at the Arkansa. Molested
and pursued by the Osages. Arrive again at the Verdigris, and proceed to the garrison. Conclusion of the treaty between the Osages
and Cherokees.
CHAP. XV.— Proceed from the garrison to the Pecannerie settlement.   Hot springs of the Washita.   Phenomena of the seasons.
CHAP. XVI.— Cadron settlement. Arrive at Arkansas. Continue to the Mississippi. The wandering fanatics. Pirates.
Natchez; stratification of its site, and remarks on its agricultural
productions. The Choctaws. Fort Adams. Point Coupé. Baton
Rouge.   Opulent Planters.   New-Orleans.
SECT. I.— An account of the ancient aboriginal population of
the banks of the Mississippi, and the contiguous country.
SECT. IL— The history of the Natchez.
SECT. HI.— Observations on the Chicasaws and Choctaws.
SECT. PV.— Thermometrical observations in the Arkansa Territory, during the year i8ro.
m ii ■ iff
Departure from Philadelphia — Geological remarks —
Route through Harrisburgh and Carlisle to Cammel's-
town — Loudon, and the adjacent mountain scenery —
The North Mountain — Cove Mountain — Passage of
the Juniata, and surrounding scenery — Bedford —
Organic remains—The Alleghany Ridge — Stoy's-town
— First indications of bituminous coal — Laurel Mountain-— Greensburgh — Arrival at Pittsburgh; manufactures; scenery, and peculiar character of its coalmines.
On the morning of the second of October, 1818,1 took
my departure from Philadelphia in the mail stage, which
arrived safely in Lancaster, sixty-three miles distant, a
little after sun-set. Though always pleasingly amused by
the incidents of travelling, and the delightf ul aspect of rude
or rural nature, I could not at this time divert from my
mind the most serious reflections on the magnitude and
danger of the journey which now lay before me, and which
was, indeed, of very uncertain issue.
[10] Scarcely any part of the United States presents a
more beautiful succession of hill and dale, than that which
succeeds between Philadelphia and Lancaster; the valley,
however, of Chester county, including Downingston, exceeds every other, except the site of Lancaster, in fertility
and rural picture. It is about twenty-five miles in length
by one in breadth, and pursues from hence a north-east
direction. The rock throughout this valley is calcareous,
and the soil is consequently of a superior quality.   This Early Western Travels
[Vol. 13
lime-stone, which has been assiduously examined by the
mineralogists and naturalists of Philadelphia, though not
very dissimilar to that of the western states, except in the
high inclination of the strata and the predominance of
spar, has never yet been found to contain any kind of
organic remains, and scarcely any metals more than traces
of iron, manganese, titanium, and lead.
3d.] From Lancaster, I continued my route on foot, as
affording greater leisure, and better opportunity for making
observation. The rain, however, to-day prevented me
from proceeding more than seventeen miles on the road to
Harrisburgh.1 About twelve miles east of Middleton, I
had again occasion to observe certain ledges of the prevailing calcareous rock, dipping at an angle scarcely under
that of 450, traversed by sparry veins, occasionally intermingled with epidote, in which are also imbedded bright,
brown-red rhombic masses of felspar and amorphous
quartz, a circumstance which had formerly fallen under
my notice in a pedestrian tour on this road; I was now,
however, enabled to trace this appearance into a connection with the transition formation which almost immediately succeeds, presenting masses of agglomerated rock,
chiefly calcareous, of which the fragments are both angular
and arrounded. Beyond this, on the first succeeding hill,
occur layers of the old or transition sand-stone, not always red, though some of that colour appeared in the
vicinity, interlayed with [11] brown-red slate-clay. Afterwards, and in connection with this formation, appears the
green-stone of the Germans, and the bottoms of the valleys
only are calcareous. Twelve miles west of Lancaster,
we enter the fine fertile tract, once known to the natives of
1 For the early history of the site of Harrisburgh, see Post's Journals, volume i
of our series, note 73.— Ed.
MMMM 1818-1820]
Nuttall's Journal
the Susquehannah by the name of Pe-quay, or the Pleasant
4th.] To Middleton, grunstein and argillaceous trap,
with sand-stone conglomerate, and Spanish-brown slate-
clay alternate and succeed each other, affording an indifferent soil, and forming lofty hills, with precipitous
declivities and narrow valleys. The sylvan hills of the
Susquehanna are, however, calcareous and underlayed
with common bluish grey and chlorite slate, which as at
Lancaster abounds with scattered or imbedded cubic
pyrites.8 The long bridge of a mile and a quarter, connecting with a small island, crosses a wide and shallow
part of the river, whose bed is of slate (or argillite).
5th.] About half past seven, I left Harrisburgh, and in
the course of the day proceeded through Carlisle to within
five miles of Shippensburg,4 a distance of about 31 miles,
over a deeply undulated country, evincing, by the ease
and comfort of its scattered population, no inconsiderable
degree of fertility in the soil, which is calcareous. The first
considerable chain of hills, proceeding from north-east to
south-west, clad with unbroken forests, appeared on our
left during most part of the day, and indicated an approach
to the mountains.
6th.] This evening I arrived at Cammels'-town,5 situated at the foot of the North Mountain.   The inter-
2 In colonial days, the Pequea Indians lived on the creek of that name, in
Lancaster County.    A township of this county still bears the name.-— Ed.
8 The chlorite slate of the Wissahickon, near Germantown, considered as
primitive, contains similar pyrites with octahedral crystals of iron ore.—
* For the early history of Carlisle and Shippensburg, see Post's Journals,
volume i of our series, notes 75, 76.— Ed.
'Cammels'-town (Campbellstown?); no such town remains. The early
settlers in the region were Scotch-Irish, and the name Campbell appears among
them as early as 1766.— Ed. 3«
Early Western Travels
[Vol. r3
mediate and surrounding country is deeply undulated
with hills of a softish sandstone and slate clay. The more
conspicuous hills of shale, accompanied [12] by organic
remains, commence at Chambersburg,8 and, as in Virginia,
are characterised by the appearance of Pine (Pinus inops),
and scrub oak {Quercus ilicifoUa); here also occurs the
fragrant sumach (Rhus aromaticum).
The road, on which several bands of labourers were
employed, was now nearly completed to Pittsburgh,
affording that convenience and facility to the inland commerce of the state which had been so long neglected.
The states of New-York and Virginia, equally interested
in the advancement of their internal trade, now begin to
show themselves as the serious rivals of Pennsylvania,
which, till lately, with the exception of New-Orleans, enjoyed the most considerable portion of the commerce of
the west.
7th.] To-day I proceeded about 21 miles, over a very
poor and mountainous country. From the little village,
or cluster of cabins, called Loudon,7 we commence the
ascent over the North Mountain, by an easy and well-
levelled turnpike. From its summit appeared a wide
and sterile forest extending across the glen, and, only at
small and distant intervals, obscurely broken by scattered
farms. The soil is here argillaceous, a slate-clay passing
into argillaceous trap and siliceous sandstone, occasionally
changing into an almost homogeneous quartz, predominates. At Loudon, there is a small iron-furnace, and ore
in inconsiderable quantities found in the neighbourhood.
Passing this range, sometimes called the Cove or North
6 For the early history of the site of Chambersburg, see Post's Journals,
volume i of our series, note 77.— Ed.
7 For history of fort of same name near Loudon, see ibid., note 78.— Ed. 1818-1820]
Nuttall's "Journal
Mountain, we descend to M'Connels'-town,8 which now
presents itself in bird's-eye view before us, here the soil
is calcareous, but still, to all appearance, destitute of organic remains. Deep and narrow valleys, steep hills
every where presenting shale devoid of impressions,
though often so far bituminous as to blaze, abound, but
no coal is to be met with nearer than the valley of the
Juniata, where organic impressions also commence.
Within the great valley of the [13] North Mountain, are
several other lower and interrupted ranges. The chain
also called the North Mountain, proceeding much to the
east in its southern course, presents in that direction acuminated peaks, and appears interrupted as towards
Staunton in Virginia. From this summit we are distinctly
enabled to mark the direction of the South Mountain, so
low where we crossed it as to afford an almost imperceptible ascent.
What still remained of the old road,9 appeared here as
bad as can well be imagined; a mere Indian trace, without
any choice of level, over rocky ledges and gullies, threatening at every instant the destruction of the carriages which
ventured over it.
8th.] After travelling about 28 miles, I arrived, in the
evening, at the very pleasant and romantically situated
town of Bedford,10 hemmed in by a cove of mountains to
the south and west, near whose declivity issue the chalybeate springs, occasionally the resort of the sick and convalescent. Very little of the road over which I came
to-day was yet turnpike, and as bad as may naturally be
8 M'Connels'-town (now McConnellsburg) is the site of Fort Lyttleton.
See VM., note 80.— Ed.
* Ibid., note 82; also Harris's Journal, in our volume iii, note 3.— Ed.
10 For the early history of the site of Bedford, see Post's Journals, volume i
of our series, note 81.— Ed.
J 4°
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 13
supposed over a succession of mountain ridges, which,
though scattered, and interrupted by the passage of waters,
scarcely fall short of the North Mountain in point of elevation. These ridges, of which in the above distance
there are three or four, are all often confounded in the
name of Cove Mountain.
I crossed the Juniata by a wooden toll-bridge, which,
like all other private accommodations in the United States,
does not exempt the pedestrian traveller. The valley of
the river is narrow and romantic, embosomed by cliffs,
rudely decorated with clumps of sombre evergreens, particularly the tall Weymouth pine and spruce, with the
splendid Rhododendron and the Magnolia acuminata.
As we approach towards Bedford the valleys widen, are
more fertile, and present calcareous strata still inclined
at a lofty angle, and generally destitute of organic remains.
Every elevation, [14] and most of them short and steep,
presents a predominance of argillaceous earth, either red
or greenish and slatey, as it may happen to contain an
admixture of iron or chlorite; there are, however, no iron
furnaces nor ore in this quarter nearer than the vicinity
of Huntingdon. Seams of coal have been discovered on
the banks of the Juniata, but unworthy of notice or difficult to drain. Fifteen miles from Bedford, coal begins
to appear. Indeed, about a mile from the town I observed
in the siliceous sandstone made use of for repairing the
road, and which was obtained in the vicinity, casts of
orthoceratites? or something resembling them, collected
into fascicles or clusters, and aggregated over the surface
of the rocks in which they are found ; the transverse septa
or channels are all proximate, and their circumference
is about two inches. Excepting a second impression,
something similar, but much smaller (and which rather
if 1818-1820]
Nuttall's Journal
resembles some alcyonite), no other reliquiae appeared in
this stone, which is also the first occurrence of the kind on
my journey to the westward.
The mountain scenery, at first so grand and impressive,
becomes at length monotonous; most of the cimes, terraces,
and piles of rocks lose their effect beneath the umbrageous
forest which envelopes them, and which indeed casts a
gloomy mantling over the whole face of nature.
To judge of the inland commerce carried on betwixt
Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, a stranger has but to view
this road at the present season. All day I have been
brushing past waggons heavily loaded with merchandise,
each drawn by five and six horses; the whole road in fact
appears like the cavalcade of a continued fair.
9th.] To-day I proceeded about 20 miles from Bedford
on the way to Pittsburgh, and in the evening lodged at a
tavern situated on the top of the Alleghany ridge. About
nine miles from Bedford I first observed [15] the occurrence of fossil shells, consisting of terebratulites, and
amongst them the Anomia trigonalis of Martyn, with
some other species. They occur in the sandstone employed for mending the road, with which also alternates
much liver-brown argillaceous shale. From hence the
dip of the strata gradually diminishes, and the hills are no
longer so short and steep; slate-clay with appearances of
coal are also visible, but as yet there are no zoophytic, or,
as some consider them, phytolithic or vegetable impressions.
The ascent to the summit of the Alleghany from the east
is much more gentle than that of the North Mountain, or
the other mountains scattered through this valley. The
Alleghany,' here from 10 to 20 miles broad, is apparently
the boundary of the transition, and the long slopes and
salient coves of its western declivity are within the range
aa 42
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 13
of the secondary formation. Much of the Quercus Primos
monticola (or mountain chesnut oak) presents itself on
the mountain, together with the Magnolia acuminata and
Sorbus americana or service-berry.
10th.] To-day I walked nine miles to Stoystown," if a
handful of houses like this deserves such an appellation.
The declivity of the surface is much more gentle and inconsiderable than that which I had passed. Indications
of coal were also apparent along the margin of the road.
The valleys are now broader, and the soil of a better
quality. The inhabitants, however, chiefly Irish, are indigent, and considerably deficient in prudence and cleanliness. I spent most part of the day in collecting seeds
of the Magnolia acuminata.
nth.] To-day I proceeded 18 miles to the little hamlet
of Liganier12 lately begun, and passed through Loughlins-
town, equally inconsiderable, except for dram shops,
improperly called taverns, with which this road abounds.
The turnpike is completed nearly throughout this distance, and also to Greensburgh. Towards evening I
crossed the Laurel Mountain, and found abundantly on
[16] its western declivity the Circœa alpina. In the valley
on the eastern ascent I likewise saw the Betula glauca, and
a profusion of the common Rhododendron, which gives the
name of Laurel to this mountain. Indications of coal,
and a continued declension in the dip of the strata are still
obvious. The sandstone, which is almost the only rock
I have seen throughout the course of the day, is remarkable for the absence of organic reliquiae.   In some places
11 For a sketch of Stoystown, see Flint's Letters, volume ix of our series,
note 33.— Ed.
" For early history of Ligonier, see Post's Journals, volume i of our series,
note 83 ; also F. A. Michaux's Travels, in our volume iii, note 14.— Ed. 1818-1820]
Nuttall's Journal
it appears like grauwacke blended with angular fragments
of a soft slate. Near the western base of the Laurel ridge
the usual zoophytes make their appearance, chiefly
Culmaria striata19 (Striaticulmis of Martyn), also casts of
enormous channelled Culmariœ like those of Bradford, in
Yorkshire (England). Vegetation at this advanced season still appeared very luxuriant on the western descent
of the Laurel, and the valleys bore the appearance of
12th.] This evening I arrived at Greensburgh," 18
miles west of Liganier. The last considerable mountain
range to the west on this route is Chesnut Ridge, [17]
which I crossed to-day. Here I met with the Imperatoria
lucida of Sprengel, also abundance of the Cimicifuga ameri-
18 Although we are as yet unacquainted with the internal and essential physical structure of these organic remains, which have been hitherto considered as
plants, I have thought it necessary to assume the above generic name as preferable to the improbable, and at any rate merely ordinal name of Phytoli-
thus. The Culmari-E, as I have termed them, are striated or grooved and
somewhat compressed, cylindric, articulated bodies, gradually attenuating from
joint to joint, mostly undivided, or simple, but occasionally bifid, and at length
terminating in a point. On one of the sides they commonly possess a deep and
central channel, and in some species at the joints present alternate small protuberances and cavities. Their soboliferous propagation appeared to originate
from these joints, in the form of wart-like or areolate protuberances, and,
unlike plants, they never seem to have produced any thing similar to leaves,
flowers, or seeds.
The tessellated zoophytes, by others also considered as vegetable remains»
which I have termed Strobilari^e are subcylindric and often somewhat conic,
but inarticulated; some of the species protruded, as occasion required, from the
centre of those tessellas, bodies resembling hollow spines, or (as would appear
from a specimen in my possession from Bradford, in Yorkshire) suckers or
hollow cylinders, with circular contractile and striated mouths. The whole of
these processes, when exserted mistaken for leaves, could also be withdrawn
within the body of the animal, and indeed most of the casts present this quiescent or contracted state. These bodies likewise exhibit in some specimens a
complicated internal structure.— Nuttaix.
14 See sketch of Greensburgh in F. A. Michaux's Travels, volume iii of our
series, note 16.— Ed.
m Il
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 13
cana and Asplenium angustifolium. The dip of the strata
becomes now more and more inconsiderable, but organic
remains, except those peculiar to the coal formation, are
scarcely to be met with, and there is a predominance of
slaty and argillaceous sandstone.
13th.] The turnpike was now completed through the
last 40 miles up to Pittsburgh, and scarcely any undertaking promises more advantage to the state in general.
It will tend to check the competition of the inland navigation of the state of New York, as well as that of the state
of Virginia, through which the United States have established a national road16 as far as the town of Wheeling on
the Ohio.
14th.] West of Greensburg, and indeed east of it, from
the base of the Chesnut Ridge, the surface of the country
is deeply undulated, and laborious to travel. The land
upon the height is sterile and thinly populated; still every
five or six miles we meet with some poor-looking hamlet,
which commonly, out of 12 to 20 log cabins composing it,
contains six or seven licensed dram shops, besides three
or four stores for the retailing of merchandise. How
much is a scattered and independent population like that
of the honest and industrious Germans inhabiting the
eastern parts of Pennsylvania to be preferred to these
towns whose inhabitants are brought together by no prospect of general industry or economy. To say that coal
is common throughout this country, and that it is generally
employed for fuel, is repeating a fact familiar to every one
who has ever visited the western country.
15th.] To-day I arrived again in Pittsburgh, and endeavour as I may to drive away my former prejudices
against this very important commercial and manufactur-
16 On national road, see Harris's Journal, in our volume iii, note 45.— Ed.
mm I8I8-I820]
Nuttall's Journal
ing city, I find it impossible. Nothing appears to [18]
me to predominate but filth and smoke and bustle. The
rivers and surrounding country are engaging and romantic
— its situation — the Thermopylae of the west, into which
so many thousands are flocking from every christian country in the world — its rapid progress, and the enterprising
character of its inhabitants, are circumstances which excite our admiration. In national industry, the true source
of wealth and independence, Pittsburgh is now scarcely
inferior to any of the older and larger towns in the Union.
The shores of the Monongahela were lined with nearly
100 boats of all descriptions, steam-boats, barges, keels,
and arks or flats, all impatiently and anxiously waiting
the rise of the Ohio, which was now too low to descend
above the town of Wheeling. A bridge was at this time
nearly completed across this stream, and one of the piers
of another across the Alleghany was also laid.
The day after my arrival I went through the flint-glass
works of Mr. Bakewell, and was surprised to see the
beauty of this manufacture, in the interior of the United
States, in which the expensive decorations of cutting and
engraving (amidst every discouragement incident to a
want of taste and wealth) were carried to such perfection.
The productions of this manufacture find their way to
New Orleans, and even to some of the islands of the West
The president Monroe, as a liberal encourager of
domestic manufactures, had on his visit to those
works given orders for a service of glass, which might
indeed be exhibited as a superb specimen of this elegant
Mr. Bakewell was now beginning to employ the beautiful white and friable sandstone which had been observed 46
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 13
m '
near to a branch of the Merrimec by Mr. Bradbury18 and
myself, as well as others, in the winter of 1809. It promises every important requisite for the production of the
purest flint-glass, and exists in inexhaustible quantities.
[19] i6-i9th.] Still at Pittsburgh, waiting for an opportunity to descend the river, which was now almost
impracticable in consequence of the lowness of the water.
19th.] This morning I took a walk to Grant's Hill,17
from whence there is a delightful view of Pittsburgh, and
on the hill itself some very pleasing rural retirements of
the wealthy citizens.
My attention, as usual, was directed to the surrounding
minerals and stratification, which are no unimportant
matters in the economy of this settlement. The coal
basin, or rather bed, which has been so long wrought on
this hill, about six feet thick, is almost exactly horizontal,
and consequently worked by a simple parallel drift without making any inconvenient quantity of water. The coal
bassets out towards the edge of the hill, and so near the
summit as to present scarcely any other overlay than a
thin shale, more or less friable, and no sandstone. The
dip, such as it is, is to the north of east, but scarcely manifest. It is bituminous or inflammable, and of a very good
quality. Beneath this single bed of coal, occurs a fine
grained, micaceous sandstone, rendered greenish from an
admixture of chlorite earth; still lower in the series appears a compact calcareous rock, in which I did not perceive any reliquiae. At the^southern extremity of the hill,
where it approaches the Monongahela,  the laminated
16 Bradbury was Nuttall's companion on the expedition to the upper Missouri in 1810; see Preface. For observations on the Merrimec (Maramec), in
that year, see Bradbury's Travels, in our volume v, note 136.— Ed.
17 For origin of the name Grant's Hill, and history of the site, see Harris's
Journal, volume iii of our series, note 30.— Ed. I8I8-I820]
Nuttall' s Journal
micaceous sandstone, however, exhibits great clusters of
culmarice (striaticulmis of Martyn), almost ancipitally
compressed, and with the striatures very fine. Here the
calcareous rock beneath the micaceous sandstone exhibits
masses of terebratulites, some of which are very minute,
but in great quantities. Near to the precipitous termination of Grant's Hill, and in several other contiguous places,
the sandstone appears to have been disintegrated with
violence, and the angular fragments again to have been
cemented by a stalactitial deposition of calcareous spar,
of a fibrous [20] texture, almost similar to Arragonite.
Seams of fibrous gypsum,-possessing a silky lustre, have
also been discovered in this vicinity.
In the course of this ramble I found abundance of the
Monarda hirsuta, which as well as M. ciliata, do not much
resemble the legitimate species of the genus.
Departure from Pittsburgh — Autumnal Scenery —
Georgetown — The unfortunate emigrant — Steuben-
ville—Picturesque Scenery—Wheeling,—Little Grave
creek, and the Great Mound — Other Aboriginal remains—Marietta—Belpré settlement — Other ancient
remains — Coal — Galhopolis — Ancient level of the
alluvial forest — Misletoe — Aboriginal remains — Big
Sandy creek and commencement of Cane-land — Corn-
husking — Salt creek — Maysville — Organic remains
— Cincinnati — Lawrenceburgh — The French emigrant — Vevay — Madison — Louisville — Prevalence
of particular winds on the Ohio — Falls of the Ohio.
21ST.] To-day I left Pittsburgh in a skiff, which I purchased for six dollars, in order to proceed down the Ohio.
I was fortunate enough to meet with a young man who
had been accustomed to the management of a boat, and
m "■m HllliattMttlttWH
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 13
who, for the consideration of a passage and provision,
undertook to be my pilot and assistant. We set out after
11 o'clock, and made 19 miles. Here we were overtaken
by a thunder-storm, accompanied by very heavy rain,
which continued during most part of the ensuing night.
We had no choice, and therefore took up our abode for the
night in the first cabin which we came to, built of logs,
[21] containing a large family of both sexes, all housed in
one room, and that not proof against the pouring rain.
Provided, however, with provision and beds of our own
we succeeded in rendering ourselves comfortable, and were
pleased with the hospitable disposition of our landlord,
who would scarcely permit any of his family to receive
from us the moderate compensation which we offered.
22d.] At day-break we again betook ourselves to the
voyage; but after proceeding about nine miles, the strong
south-west wind forced us to a delay of several hours.
In this distance from Pittsburgh the Ohio meanders
through a contracted alluvial flat, thickly settled, and
backed with hills, which are often peaked and lofty,
fringed, at this season, by a forest of the diversified, but
dying hues of autumn. The water was extremely low,
and we passed through several rapids, in which bare
rocks presented themselves in such quantity, as to deny
the passage of any thing but boats drawing 9 or 10 inches
of water.
After proceeding about two miles below Beavertown18
we landed in the dark, and went to the tavern to which
accident had directed us, but finding it crowded with
people met together for merriment, we retired to a neighbouring hovel, in order to obtain rest and shelter from
18 For the early history of the site of Beavertown, see Cuming's Tour, in our
volume iv, note 56.— Ed. 1818-1820]
Nuttall's Journal
the weather, which was disagreeably cold. Our prospect of repose was soon, however, banished, as our cabin,
being larger than the tavern, was selected for a dancing
room, and here we were obliged to sit waking spectators
of this riot till after one o'clock in the morning. The
whiskey botde was brought out to keep up the excitement,
and, without the inconvenience and delay of using glasses,
was passed pretty briskly from mouth to mouth, exempting neither age nor sex. Some of the young ladies also
indulged in smoking as well as drinking of drams. Symptoms of riot and drunkenness at length stopped [22] the
dancing, and we now anticipated the prospect of a little
rest, but in this we were disappointed by the remaining of
one of the company vanquished by liquor, who, after committing the most degrading nuisance, at intervals disturbed
us with horrid gestures and imprecations for the remainder
of the morning. On relating in the neighbourhood our
adventure at this house, we were informed that this tavern
was notorious for the assemblage of licentious persons.
23d.] After an hour or two of interrupted repose we
again embarked, and found that there had been a slight
fall of snow. The wind was still adverse, and so strong
as perfectly to counteract the current; with some labour
we got down to Georgetown,19 and warmed ourselves by
a comfortable fire of coal. The tavern was very poorly
accommodated, a mere cabin without furniture, of which
its owner was from habit scarcely sensible. About two
o'clock in the afternoon we again landed at a poor log-
cabin to warm ourselves, and were very kindly welcomed
by the matron of the house, who, without the benefit of
education, seemed possessed of uncommon talents.   I
19 Georgetown is the last town on the Pennsylvania side, a mile above the
Ohio boundary, on the left bank of the river.    Ibid., note 59.— Ed.
J 5°
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 13
had read, in the first settlement of Kentucky, of remarkable instances of female intrepidity, brought forward by
the exigencies of a residence on a dangerous frontier, and
our hostess appeared to be equally an Amazon, modest,
cool, and intrepid. I listened to her adventures with
much interest. She and her husband, with a small family,
had some years ago followed the tide of western emigration to the banks of the little Miami, near Cincinnati.
Here, after a tedious and expensive journey, they had
settled on a piece of alluvial land, and might probably
have prospered, but for the dreadful effects of continued
sickness (ague and bilious fever), which urged them to
sacrifice every other interest for that of their emaciated
offspring, and to ascend the Ohio in search of a situation
which might afford them health! She pointed to some
remains of decent furniture [23] which the cabin scarcely
sheltered, saying, with an affectionate look at her poor children, \ 'we once had a decent property, but now we have
nothing left; emigration has ruined us!" With six children around her, and accompanied by another family, ascending the Ohio in a flat-boat, they were struck by a
hurricane. She herself and one of her children had taken
their regular turn at the oar, the master of the boat, who
had also his family around him, became so far alarmed
and confused as to quit his post in the midst of the danger
which threatened instantly to overwhelm them, tremendous waves broke into the boat, which the affrighted steersman knew not how to avoid. This woman seized the
helm which was abandoned, and by her skill and courage
saved the boat and the families from imminent destruction.
24th.] The wind still south-west, but abating a little.
We proceeded at 11, and about 18 miles from Steuben- -m
Nuttall's Journal
ville, landed and took up our lodging on an island, with
no other shelter than the canopy of heaven; but we slept
comfortably, with our feet to a warm fire, according to
Indian custom.
25th.] This evening we arrived at Steubenville,2*
which appears to be a place of industry and manufacture.
Two miles below the town we lodged in the cabin of a
poor tenant farmer.
The banks of the river are exceedingly romantic, presenting lofty hills and perpendicular cliffs of not less than
300 feet elevation, every where covered or fringed with
belts of trees in their autumnal foliage, of every bright
and varying hue, more beautiful even than the richest
verdure of summer. The uplands being calcareous are
found to be exceedingly fertile, and we consequently perceive houses and fences on the summits of the loftiest
hills which embosom the river. From 50 to 70 dollars
per acre was demanded for these lands, which are better
for wheat than the [24] alluvial soils. Flour was here
four dollars per barrel, and beef six cents per pound.
26th.] This evening we arrived at Wheeling,21 consisting of a tolerably compact street of brick houses, with the
usual accompaniment of stores, taverns, and mechanics.
It is also the principal depot for the supply and commerce
of the interior of this part of Virginia. A number of boats
had been fitted out here this season, which could not navigate from Pittsburgh in consequence of the lowness of the
water. At this place the great national road into the interior, from the city of Washington, comes in conjunction
with that of Zanesville, Chillicothe, Columbus, and Cin-
20 For sketch of Steubenville, see ibid., note 67.— Ed.
n For sketch of Wheeling, see André Michaux's Travels, in our volume iii,
note 13.— Ed.
\m Early Western Travels
[Vol. 13
cinnati. At the northern extremity of the town there is a
very productive bed of coal, and equally horizontal with
that of Pittsburgh; its thickness is about six feet, and as it
occurs beneath the limestone it must of course be considered as a second bed. Every where along the banks of
the river, particularly at this low stage we perceive adventitious boulders and pebbles of sienite, which cannot have
originated nearer than the mountains of Canada, situated
beyond the lakes. Proceeding about four and a half
miles from Wheeling, we took up our night's residence at
a cabin near to the outlet of M'Mahon's creek.22
27th.] To-day I again observed a bed of coal in the bank
of the Ohio, worked beneath the limestone, situated nearly
opposite to Little Grave creek.28 This superincumbent
limestone does not appear to abound with organic remains,
and is nearly horizontal, with a slight dip, perhaps io°,
to the south-east. Ten or 12 miles further, the same coal
bed still bassets out from beneath the calcareous rock,
and so near to the present low level of the river as not to
admit of being worked at any other stage of the water.
The shale (or biftiminous slate clay) above and below the
coal [25] is extremely superficial, being only a few inches
in thickness, and interspersed with small masses of bitumen and reliquiae which imitate charred wood, but are
destitute of the characterizing cross grain.
At the mouth of Little Grave creek we landed, to view
a A northern tributary which flows into the Ohio about half a mile below
Bellâtre, Ohio.— Ed.
B Little Grave Creek flows into the Ohio from the West Virginia side, a
hundred miles below Pittsburg. The village of Elizabethtown now lies at its
mouth, upon the left bank. A mile below is Big Grave Creek; and Moundsville,
West Virginia, is between the two streams. Near here, frontiersmen murdered a number of Shawnee, in 1774, leading to Lord Dunmore's War. For
other historic incidents of this locality, see Cuming's Tour, volume iv of our
series, notes 77, 78.— Ed. km
Nuttall's Journal
the famous mound,24 said to be 75 feet high. The ascent
is extremely steep: it is indeed a pyramid, and of an elegant
conic figure; at the summit there is a circular depression
indicative of some excavation, and it is surrounded by a
shallow ditch, across which, there are left two gateways.
It appears to be elevated at about an angle of 6o°, and the
earth, as in many other similar monuments, has evidently
been beaten down to resist the washing of rains. It is
remarkably perfect and compleat, and would probably
continue a monument as long as the walled pyramids of
Egypt. Amongst other trees growing upon it, there was
a white oak of not less than two centuries'- duration. In
the immediate vicinity, there is likewise a small ditched
circle with two entrances, and a smaller ditched mound.
At this place, I took in a young man going down to
Big Sandy creek, who assisted in working his passage with
us. At dark we landed on the Ohio shore, and lodged
with a poor but hospitable resident.
28th.] Tired of the boat, I got out and walked^io or 12
miles, on the Virginia side of the river, t-Many of the^set-
tlers here appear to be Yankees, from Vermont and Connecticut, and in prosperous circumstances. A mile and a
half above Sistersville, and 35 from Marietta, in Virginia,
there is a small aboriginal station, consisting of five or six
low mounds, and a circle containing an area of about an
29th.] Twenty-six miles above Marietta, on the Virginia side, on the estate of Mr. Cohen, there was on the
platform of the third, or most ancient alluvial bottom, a
large, but low mound, grown over with brambles; and,
at the distance of about a quarter of a [26] mile below, a
M Another description of this mound is given in Cuming's Tour, volume iv
of our series, note 76.— Ed. 54
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 13
small square embankment containing near an acre, with
only one or two openings or entrances.
Most part of the afternoon, I continued walking along
the Ohio bank, and observed, as I have done for near 30
miles above, the alluvial lands to be more extensive, occupying often both banks of the river, and a sensible
diminution in the elevation of the hills. The bottoms here
abound with elm, and there are also extensive and un-
drainable tracts covered with beech.
30th.] At day break, we again betook ourselves to our
laborious journey, which, in consequence of the adverse
wind, was nearly as toilsome as a voyage up, in place of
down the stream; in addition to which, we had also to
encounter the severe and benumbing effects of frost. We
passed Marietta,25 remarkable for its aboriginal remains,
and in the evening, encamped on the beach of the river,
but did not rest very comfortably, in consequence of the
31.] Passed Belpré28 settlement, an extensive portion
of fertile alluvial land, and thickly settled. All the prevailing rock here, for some distance, is a massive sandstone, cither brownish, greenish, or grayish, fine grained
and micaceous, and occasionally exposing something like
impressions of alcyonites, but appearing in no place indicative of coal. This evening we lodged at a house, four
miles above the mouth of Shade river, where the bottoms
are extensive and fertile. In a rocky situation, I found
abundance of the Seymeria macrophylla, near six feet in
height; also a new species of Aster, in full bloom, at this
advanced season.
26 A sketch of the settlement of Marietta will be found in André Michaux's
Travels, volume iii of our series, note 16.— Ed.
28 For Belpré, see Cuming's Tour, volume iv of our series, note 87.— Ed. 1818-1820]
Nuttall's Journal
November ist.] We proceeded about 19 miles without any material hindrance, when the south-west
wind, which had so constantly opposed our descent, blew
up a thunder-storm with rain, which detained us for the
remainder of the day. Below Marietta, the [27] alluvial
lands become still more extensive, and appear to be held
at a price considerably above their real value by speculators, who thus prevent the population from accumulating. We scarcely, indeed, see any thing in this quarter but
the miserable log cabins of tenants so poor and ill provided,
even with the common necessaries of life, that, had we not
taken the precaution of providing ourselves with provision, we must often have had either to fast, or sit down
to nothing better than mush and milk; which, though an
agreeable, is not a sufficiently nourishing diet for a traveller.
In descending the river, we uniformly find rapid water
along the islands and bars; a circumstance appearing to
indicate the former union of such islands with the land.
Nearly all the sugar here made use of by the inhabitants,
is obtained from the maple (Acer saccharinum), which, by
more careful management, might be refined equal to muscovado.
2d.] We were again detained a considerable part of
the day by the contrary wind, and, during the delay, fell
in with a descending family, which had passed us the preceding day. In a short time after meeting, two hounds
belonging to our companion, which had been let loose in
the woods, chased a buck to the river: my companion and
the old migratory hunter instantly launched the skiff in
the pursuit, and succeeded in shooting the unfortunate
deer in the water; a method commonly resorted to in this
country, where the chase is more a matter of necessity than
a \ Early Western Travels
[Vol. 13
3d.] This morning I walked up the right bank of the
river, to view an aboriginal station, said to be situated on
the present estate of Mr. Warf, on Park's bottom; but,
on proceeding about two miles through an enswamped
beech forest, I relinquished the undertaking, finding it
to be more than three miles above Mill creek, which I had
crossed the preceding day. [28] I understood that this
work was a circular embankment, including an area of
three or four acres; and in the vicinity of which, were several inconsiderable mounds. Beech woods, flanked by
elevated cliffs, still continued for four miles on the Virginia side, to Le Tart's rapids,27 where the boat was to
wait my arrival. On the way I found abundance of the
Dracocephalum cordifolium with long slolons like ground
ivy, also Hesperis pinnatifda, but I was more particularly
gratified in finding the Tilia heterophylla. Nothing is
here more abundant than the Stylophorum (Chelidonium.
Mich.). This evening, we were 16 miles above Gali-
4th.] About 11 miles from which, I observed a bed of
coal, now worked on the bank of the river, some distance
above the base of a high cliff, and overlaid by a massive
micaceous sandstone, constituting the main body of the
hill, and, as usual, horizontally stratified. Beneath the
coal appeared a laminated limestone. Not many miles
from hence, nitre is also obtained in caves.
The wind still continued against us, and with consider-
27 Letart Falls are at the northward turn of the river in the so-called
"Pomeroy Bend" between Meigs County, Ohio, and Mason County, Kentucky. The rapids are of slight consequence, but were exaggerated into
importance by some of the early travellers.— Ed.
28 For sketch of Gallipolis and the unfortunate French colony of which it
was the centre, see F. A. Michaux's Travels, in our volume iii, note 34.— Ed. 1818-1820]
Nuttall's Journal
able labour we got five miles below Galiopolis, at which
and Point Pleasant29 there are several mounds and aboriginal remains.80
5th.] This evening we had proceeded about 26 miles
below Galiopolis. Yesterday and to-day, I remarked,
parallel with the present level of the river, and often surmounted by a lofty and friable bank of earth, beds of
leaves compressed and blackened, giving out ferruginous
matter to the water which oozed through them. On examination, they proved to be the same kind of foliage as
that of the trees which compose the present alluvial forest;
as platanus, beech, oak, poplar, &c.
About Steubenville I observed the first occurrence [29]
of misletoe (the Viscum verticillatum of the West Indies),
which now appears very prevalent and conspicuous. The
fruit of the popaw (Porcelia triloba) here comes to perfection, and is rich and finely flavoured, while above, and in
a few localities where it exists in Pennsylvania, it is scarcely
I was again informed of the existence of aboriginal
mounds and entrenchments on the fertile alluvial lands
called Messer's Bottom, which are of several miles extent,
commencing almost immediately below Galiopolis on the
Virginia side, but after several unsuccessful inquiries, the
ignorance and supineness of the settlers, though numerous, prevented me from discovering them.
6th.] We proceeded about nine miles, and were as
usual prevented from continuing further by the reiterated
29 Point Pleasant is at the mouth of Great Kanawha River. For history of
.the site, see Croghan's Journals, volume i of our series, note 101; "also Bradbury's Travels, in our volume v, note 156.— Ed.
30 A more particular account of these monuments is given in the latter part
of this work.— Nuttall.
BTJkJ [Vol. 13
violence of the pertinacious south-west wind, accompanied
by a haze, which made every object appear as if enveloped in smoke.
7th.] This evening, we passed the mouth of Big Sandy
creek, the boundary of Kentucky. Near to this line commences the first appearance of the cane (Arundinaria
macrosperma), which seems to indicate some difference in
the climate and soil. The settlements are here remote,
the people poor, and along the river not so characteristically hospitable as in the interior of Kentucky. Landing
rather late, we took up our lodging where there happened
to be a corn-husking, and were kept awake with idle merriment and riot till past midnight. Some of the party, or
rather of the two national parties, got up and harangued
to a judge, like so many lawyers, on some political argument, and other topics, in a boisterous and illiberal style,
but without coming to blows. Is this a relic of Indian
customs ?
The corn-fields, at this season of the year, are so overrun with cuckold-burs (Xanthium strumarium), and the
seeds of different species of Bidens or Spanish-needles, [30]
as to prove extremely troublesome to woollen clothes, and
to the domestic cattle, which are loaded with them in tormenting abundance. In consequence of these weeds, the
fleece of the sheep is scarcely worth the trouble of shearing. The best remedy for checking the growth of these
noxious plants, would be to plow them in about the time
of flowering, which would exterminate them, and improve
the crop of corn.
The people here, living upon exigencies, and given to
rambling about instead of attending to their farms, are
very poor and uncomfortable in every respect; but few of
them possess the land on which they live.   Having spent 1818-1820]
Nuttall's Journal
every thing in unsuccessful migration, and voluntarily exiling themselves from their connections in society, they begin to discover, when too late, that industry would have
afforded that comfort and independence which they in vain
seek in the solitudes of an unhealthy wilderness. We
found it almost impossible to purchase any kind of provision, even butter or bacon, nothing appearing to be cultivated scarcely but corn and a little wheat.
I was again informed of the existence of aboriginal remains in the vicinity of the place where we arrived this
8th.] We were delayed nearly the whole of the day by
the usual adverse wind.
9th.] To-day, however, we were fortunate enough, at
last, to obtain the breeze in our favour, and proceeded
about 28 miles, encamping three miles below the town
of Portsmouth.81
10th.] The wind still continuing in our favour, accompanied by a considerable current, we proceeded about 32
miles, and encamped 12 miles below Salt creek, and 17
above'Maysville.82 In this course the river appears very
meandering, and from Portsmouth, the hills, which are
considerable, come up diagonally to the margin of the
river and present serrated [31] or conic summits.   At the
81 Portsmouth is situated at the mouth of the Scioto, on the east bank. On
the west bank was the chief Shawnee village, in the days of rivalry between
French and English fur-traders. Gist, exploring for the Ohio Company, was
here in 1751. Two years later a flood drove the Indians across the river to the
higher ground on which Portsmouth was afterwards built; but a part of them
removed to the upper Scioto and the Little Miami, founding the Old and New
Chillicothe towns. Portsmouth was the place of captivity of Mrs. Mary Ingles,
in 1755 ; the site was abandoned by the Indians in 1758. The present town was
platted (1803) by Henry Massie, on land bought by him in 1801. It was named
for Portsmouth, Virginia.— Ed.
82 For the history of Maysville (formerly called Limestone), see André
Michaux's Travels, in our volume iii, note 23.— Ed.
nil 6o
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 13
*ft ?
lowest stage of the water we perceive horizontal ledges of
calcareous rock filled with terebratulites, &c. The salt
at Adamsville appears to be made from water issuing out
of the alluvial argillaceous soil near to the outlet of Salt
Creek, but in many parts of the Western country coring for
salt water is frequently continued some hundreds of feet,
(sometimes as much as 400 feet) below the surface,
through calcareous and sand-stone rocks, and occasionally
through beds of coal.
nth.] We proceeded seven miles below the thriving
town of Maysville, formerly called Limestone from the
rock in its neighbourhood, and experienced heavy rains
during the whole day, which in our open skiff proved very
unpleasant, and, to augment our uncomfortable situation, we encamped at a late hour on a very disagreeable muddy shore, where it was not possible to kindle a
The farmers along the river for many miles down appear
to be in thriving circumstances. Their houses are very
decent in external appearance, but so badly finished and
furnished that many of the rooms are unoccupied, or
merely serve the purposes of a barn, and the family are
commonly found living in the kitchen. Most of these
ostentatious shells of frame houses are the work of the
New-England settiers, who are very industrious, and not
without more or less of their usual economy and sagacity.
12th.] We were again retarded by the south-west wind.
The shore on which we landed was thickly strewed with
fragments of calcareous rock filled with terebratulites, al-
cyonites, flustras, encrinal vertebrae, &c. &c. Some specimens which I here collected of the encrinal vertebrae were
coated with a cellular epidermis, in appearance resembling
a millepore; they are also remarkably dichotomous.    In 1818-1820]
Nuttall's Journal
one of the calcareous fragments which I broke occurred
the Trilobites paradoxus.
[32] The wind abating, we passed down to Augusta,88
and with our emigrant companions encamped on the opposite shore. Here the insolence of my companion rendered
our separation absolutely necessary. It is to be regretted,
that so many of those wandering New-Englanders (who,
like the Jews in Europe, are to be met with in every part
of the union), should prove so disgraceful to their country.
My impression now was, that this young man was a refugee from justice or deserved infamy, and in all probability I narrowly escaped being robbed.
13th.] To-day I arrived at Cincinnati,84 and was again
gratified by the company of my friend Doctor I. Drake,85
one of the most scientific men west of the Alleghany
33 Augusta is forty-two and a half miles above Cincinnati. It was formerly
seat of justice of Bracken County, Kentucky, and is still, on account of its good
harbor, an important point for shipping tobacco.— Ed.
34 For a sketch of the early history of Cincinnati, see Cuming's Tour, in our
volume iv, note 166.— Ed.
35 Nuttall mistook the name. Dr. Daniel Drake came to Cincinnati from
Kentucky in 1800, at the age of fifteen, and clerked in a drug store while privately
studying medicine. He was graduated from the medical school of Pennsylvania
University, in 1816, and the next winter lectured at Transylvania University.
The plan for a medical college, referred to in the text, was successfully carried
out. The charter was obtained in December, 1818, the college being opened
the following November, with twenty-five students. Drake was president.
This was the beginning of the Ohio Medical College. In 1821, Drake secured
from the legislature a grant which laid the foundation for the Cincinnati hospital. For many years he was the leader of his profession in Ohio and Kentucky, and was influential in numerous progressive movements. He died in
1852, a member of the faculty of the college founded in 1818-20. See biographical sketch by his son, prefixed to a collection of his letters, Pioneer Life
in Kentucky (Cincinnati, 1870).
Hugh Glenn, mentioned in the succeeding paragraph, soon afterward established a trading-post near the mouth of the Verdigris River, in what is now
Indian Territory. He was one of the first to succeed in the Santa Fé overland trade.— Ed.
i» J
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 13
The town appeared to have improved much, both in
appearance and population, since my last visit; it is, indeed, by far the most agreeable and flourishing of all the
western towns. Here I had the good fortune, through
Dr. D., to be introduced to Mr. H. Glenn, lately sutler to
the garrison of Arkansa; from whom I had the pleasure to
learn something more explicit concerning the probable progress of my intended journey.
A medical college was, I understood, about to be established in Cincinnati. Dr. D., who delivered a very appropriate introductory oration, will, probably, be the principal of the institution. But such undertakings are yet
rather premature, and the student would derive many exclusive advantages by acquiring a medical education in
the universities already established.
17th.] About 12 o'clock I left Cincinnati in my skiff,
and was accidentally joined by two strangers going to
Lawrenceburgh,88 25 miles distant, where we arrived this
evening. This is a neat and thriving town, situated near
the estuary of the Great Miami, and on the line of the
state of Indiana.
[33] 18th.] I departed at day-break, but, after descending five miles, discovered my gun had been forgotten at the tavern where I lodged. The day was dismal
and cloudy, with showers of snow and gales of wind,
undissembled winter. In the evening I arrived at a
little town called the Rising Sun,37 from its tavern, 13 miles
below Lawrenceburgh.
19th.] A fine morning and but littie wind.— I now con-
38 Lawrenceburgh is the seat of justice of Dearborn County, Indiana. The
town was laid out in 1802 by Samuel C. Vance, United States surveyor at
Cincinnati, who bought the site in 1801. He named the town for his, wife, whose
maiden name was Lawrence.   The site is low, and subject to inundations.— Ed.
37 Founded in 1813.— Ed. 1818-1820]
Nuttall's Journal
tinued alone to navigate the Ohio, which is here exceedingly crooked. The alluvial lands are extensive, with the
hills low, and the rock, as usual, calcareous and filled with
organic impressions. I descended about 30 miles, and
lodged with a very polite and hospitable Frenchman, three
miles above the Swiss88 towns of Vevay and Ghent. He
informed me that he had emigrated the last summer from
Grenoble, and had purchased land here at the rate of 10
dollars per acre, including the house and improvements
which he occupied. He complained how much he had
been deceived in his expectations, and that if he was home
again, and possessed of his present experience, he would
never have emigrated. He did not give a very favourable
account of the settlement of Vevay, and he and others, particularly a Swiss whom I called upon, informed me that
the wine here attempted to be made was of an inferior
quality. It sold at 25 cents the bottle, but soon became
too sour to drink, and that instead of obtaining the northern vines for cultivation, as those around Paris, they had
all along attended to the southern varieties. So the vineyards of Vevay, if not better supported, will probably soon
be transformed into corn-fields. The wine which they
have produced is chiefly claret, sometimes bordering on
the quality of Burgundy, for the preservation of which
their heated cabins, destitute of cellars, are not at all
adapted; we do not, however, perceive any obstacle to the
distillation of brandy, which could be disposed of with
great facility and profit. The quantity of [34] wine said
to be yielded to the acre, is about 500 gallons, which, if
saleable, ought to produce a considerable emolument, and
materially benefit the country, by dirninishing the foreign
88 For an account of the founding of the Swiss settlements in Indiana, see
Bradbury's Travels, in our volume v, note 164.— Ed. 64
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 13
1 ■; (
demand. Several gentlemen of science, wealth, and patriotism in Kentucky and Mississippi Territory, are now
also beginning to devote their attention to this important
and neglected subject, and are commencing by the cultivation of improved varieties of the native species of vine,
which promise, above those of Europe, every requisite of
fertility, hardihood, and improved flavour.
20th.] To-day I passed the rising town of Madison,39
and the outlet of Kentucky river.— The sun was setting
when I arrived, and just served to disclose the beauty of
the surrounding scenery. On one side of the river rose a
lofty fascade of calcareous rocks, fretted like net-work;
on the opposite extended the low alluvial lands of Kentucky, thickly lined with an almost unbroken rank of tall
poplars, (Populus angulisans,) resembling a magnificent
vista planted by the hand of man.
21st.] Late in the evening I arrived at Bethlehem, a
miserable little hamlet in speculation, containing about
half a dozen houses.
22d.] To-day I came within 11 miles of Louisville, and
lodged with a hospitable and industrious Irishman, who
had emigrated from Belfast about 17 years ago.
23d.] At length I arrived at the large and flourishing
town of Louisville, but recently a wilderness. Labour
and provision rated here much above the value which they
commonly bore in the state and the surrounding country.
The markets were very negligently supplied, and at prices
little inferior to those of New Orleans. In fact, the vortex
of speculation, this commercial gambling, absorbed the
solid interests of the western states, and destroyed all mercantile confidence.   The whole country was overrun with
39 Madison, first settled about 1808, is the seat of justice of Jefferson County,
Indiana.— Ed. 1818-1820]
Nuttall's Journal
banks, which neither deserved confidence nor credit. Not
a note in Kentucky [35] commanded specie, the capital
was altogether fictitious, and ought to have been secured
by every species of property possessed by the stockholders. A more ruinous and fraudulent system of
exchange was never devised in any Christian country; it
is truly a novelty to see a whole community, at least the
wealthy part of it, conspiring in a common system of
public fraud.
The love of luxury, without the means of obtaining it,
has proved the bane of these still rude settlements of agriculturists, naturally poor in money by reason of their
remoteness from the emporium of commerce, and their
neglect of manufactures. When one heard a farmer demand a price for his produce in Kentucky, equal nearly to
that of Philadelphia, we might be certain that he expected
payment in depreciated paper.
A stranger who descends the Ohio at this season of emigration, cannot but be struck with the jarring vortex of
heterogeneous population amidst which he is embarked,
all searching for some better country, which ever lies to
the west, as Eden did to the east. Amongst the crowd
are also those, who, destitute of the means or inclination of
obtaining an honest livelihood, are forced into desperate
means for subsistence.
In my descent from Pittsburgh to Louisville, I found the
wind, excepting about two days, constantly blowing up
the river. The north-west or south-west winds, in fact,
continue almost three quarters of the year. The deep valley which the river has excavated forms a vortex, into
which the rarified air of the land rushes for equilibrium.
The south-west wind is uniformly, at this season of the
year,  attended with a dense and bluish atmosphere, 66
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 13
charged with vapours, which appear like smoke, and sometimes accumulate so as to obscure the land.
I was detained at Louisville until the 7th of December,
[36] trying various means of descending the river. The
lowness of the water prevented the descent of the steamboats, and the price of passage to Natchez was now no less
than 50 dollars. Wearied by delay, I at length concluded
to purchase a flat-boat, and freighted it nearly at my own
cost, which, for an inexperienced traveller, was certainly an
act of imprudence, as the destruction of the boat, which
frequently happens, would probably have plunged me into
penury and distress.
The wealth and population of Louisville40 are evidently on the increase, and a canal is now proposed, to
obviate the difficulty of navigating by the Falls.
I perceive no material variation in the soil or river scenery. The surface is deeply undulated, fertile, and much
sunk into circular depressions or water-swallows. The
rock is all calcareous, but destitute of coal, or indeed
any kind of overlaying stratum in this neighbourhood.
The Falls, at this stage of the water, roar in terrific
grandeur; the descending surges resemble the foaming
billows of the sea, and do not now admit the passage of
vessels drawing more than 12 inches of water, though at
other seasons there is a sufficiency for the largest boats on
either side of the island which divides the falls. The calcareous ledge over which the water thus pours is nearly as
horizontal as a floor, and filled with the reliquiae of terebra-
40 For description of the Falls of the Ohio and the early history of Louisville,
see Croghan's Journals, in our volume i, note 106. A company was chartered
in 1818 to build a canal around the falls, but the work was not completed until
December, 1830, under the direction of the Louisville and Portland Canal
Company, organized in 1825. After 1845, the stock was gradually purchased
by the United States, which eventually became entire owner.— Ed. 1818-1820]
Nuttall's Journal
tulites, caryophillites, corallines, encrinites, &c. It also
contains an unusual portion of pyrites, illinitions of blende
ore of zinc, and a bluish green pulverulent substance,
which is perhaps an ore of copper, or an oxide of nickel.
Wood in a state of petrifaction has been discovered near
the island which divides the cataract, and that in considerable quantity. The steam-boats, which ascend as far
as Shippingsport,41 below the Falls, are of no less than 3
to 500 tons burthen, and are handsomely fitted up for
[37] tne accommodation of passengers. Sometimes they
descend to New Orleans in eight or ten days, affording a
facility of communication heretofore unprecedented.
Departure from Shippingsport — Velocity of the current
— Troy — Owensville — Indigence of the hunting emigrants — Mounds — Evansville — The Diamond
island — Shawneetown — Grandeur of the river and
the uncultivated state of the surrounding country —
Fort Massac — Arrival at the mouth of the Ohio —
Delayed by the ice of the Mississippi — A visit from the
Delaware and Shawnee Indians — Observations on
their mutual jealousy and improvidence.
On the 7th, towards evening, I left Shippingsport in
the flat-boat which I had purchased, accompanied by an
elderly gentleman and his son, who intended to proceed to
New Orleans. The river had now taken a sudden and
favourable rise of eight or ten feet perpendicular. We
floated all night, keeping an alternate watch, and before
the expiration of 24 hours, on the 8th, the current alone
had carried us without labour near 80 miles!   We ac-
a For sketch of Shippingsport, see Cuming's Tour, in our volume iv, note
171.— Ed. ir
W*fi «
Ft j».       v-fl
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 13
companied another vessel of the same kind, and, for mutual convenience, our boats, according to custom, were
lashed together side by side, thus also facilitating our
progress by obtaining a greater scope of the current.
9th.] We continued at the same rate, floating along without any labour, except that of occasionally rowing out
from the shore, or avoiding submerged trunks of trees,
called snags or sawyers, as they are either stationary or
moveable with the action of the current; by the French
they are called chicos. In the night [38] we passed the
town of Troy, an insignificant handful of log-cabins, dignified by this venerable name; here we stopped a few minutes to unload some salt, which, in consequence of the
scarcity, incident to the low stage of water, sold at
four dollars per bushel. Nearly all the salt which supplies this country descends the Kanhaway.
On the 10th we arrived at Owensville,42 more commonly
called Yellow Banks, from the ochraceous appearance of
the argillaceous friable bank of the river. This is another
insignificant cluster of log-cabins, and the seat of a county.
Flour sold here at 10 dollars per barrel. In consequence
of the want of mills, they depend altogether on the
upper country for their supplies of this important article.
Mills are much wanted, and, in order even to obtain corn-
meal, every one has to invent something of the kind for
himself. At this place the store-keepers were busily collecting pork for the market of New Orleans, at the rate of
five dollars per hundred, in exchange for dry-goods and
a Now Owensborough, seat of Daviess County, Kentucky. The original
name of the place was Rossborough, but it was rechristened in honor of Abraham
Owen, who fell at Tippecanoe. The shore from which the name Yellow Banks
was derived, is from twelve to twenty feet in height. The undermining of
these banks by the river frequently engulfs trees, and sometimes even drives
people from their dwellings.— Ed.
mm i8i8-i82o]
Nuttall's Journal
groceries. No other produce appeared in this place.
No orchards are yet planted, and apples were worth one
dollar and a half the bushel.
We floated as usual till towards midnight, but the
north-west wind arising, at length put a stop to our progress. Having proceeded about 18 miles below Owens-
ville, we endeavoured to land on the Kentucky side, but,
in the attempt, ran an imminent risk of grounding on an
extensive bar; with considerable labour we rowed our unmanageable flat to the opposite shore, where we found
deep water, and a good harbour from the wind.
nth.] About day-break we were accosted by a backwoods neighbour, anxious for a dram of whiskey, which
we had foreseen and provided for. We were detained all
day by the wind, and the hunters went out in quest of
turkeys. The improvidence of these hunting farmers,
is truly remarkable: annually [39] mortgaging their produce for the meanest luxuries of civilized life; still destitute of flour, of the produce of the orchard, of country
spirits, and, indeed, of coffee and sugar for a great part of
the year; at the same time, that they might become independent, with even moderate industry.
Potatoes are very indifferent in this country, but pulse
and all kinds of grain excellent and productive.
Here, at Mountplace43 as it is called, there are two or
three Indian mounds, upon one of which our visitor had
built his house, and in digging had discovered abundance
of human bones, as well as several stone pipes, and fragments of earthen ware.
12th.] About 9 o'clock, we pushed out and proceeded.
m 1
43 Mountplace is not shown on modern maps. From the distances given by
Nuttall, the site must be quite near Newburg, Indiana, opposite Scuffletown,
Kentucky.— Ed. ni '
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 13
Towards evening, 15 miles from Hendersonville,44 in
Indiana, we passed a small town called Evansville,48 apparently a county seat, by the appearance of a court house.
We continued to float throughout the night, which was
very fine and moonlight, but cold, the thermometer being
down at 200. We passed Henderson in the night, and,
about 5 o'clock in the morning of the 13th, came in sight
of the large and beautiful broad island, called the Diamond, with the river, on either side of it, apparently a
mile in breadth. At two intervals of 10 miles each, we
had passed two other islands, and about one o'clock,
found ourselves carried by good fortune, and at an easy
rate, opposite to the Wabash 46 and its island, which mark
the commencement of the territory of Illinois.
From Owensville, cane begins to be tall and abundant.
The prospect of an approaching storm caused us to come
to shore at an early hour, where we remained for the night,
having our boat tied to a stout branch or stem of the Borya
acuminata," which grows here in abundance, and is nearly
as thorny as a [40] sloe bush, sending up many straight
stems from the same root.
14th.] We rode over to Shawneetown,48 a handful of
"Nuttall must mean Henderson, Kentucky, the words "in Indiana" referring to the location of Evansville, about twelve miles above. Henderson,
incorporated in 1810, is the seat of Henderson County, and was at this time
Audubon's residence; it was in 1818 that the botanist Rafinesque visited him
there.    See note 175, in Cuming's Tour, volume iv of our series.— Ed.
46 Evansville, the seat of Vanderburgh County, Indiana, was named for
General Robert M. Evans, of Gibson County, Indiana. It was founded (1814)
on ground donated by Hugh McGary, famous as a Kentucky pioneer, who had
for several years possessed lands in this region. McGary was one of the leaders
in the disastrous Battle of the Blue Licks. See Cvanings}Tour in our volume iv,
note 120.— Ed.
48 For sketch of Wabash River, see Croghan's Journals, in our volume i,
note 107.— Ed.
47 Now Forestiera acuminata.— Nuttall.
48 For sketch of the site of Shawneetown, see Croghan's Journals, volume i
of our series, note 108.— Ed. mm
Nuttall's Journal
log cabins, with some of them shingled, commanding an
agreeable view of the river, but not situated beyond the
reach of occasional inundation. I learned, on inquiry,
that Mr. Birkbeck's settlement49 was not so unhealthy as
had been reported, and that it was continually receiving
accessions of foreigners. After floating some distance,
we came up with three other flat boats, and lashing to
them proceeded all night. The river is here very wide
and magnificent, and checquered with many islands. The
banks at Battery Rock, Rock in the Cave,50 and other
places, are bold and rocky, with bordering cliffs. The
occidental wilderness appears here to retain its primeval
solitude; its gloomy forests are yet unbroken by the hand
of man, they are only penetrated by the wandering hunter,
and the roaming savage.
15th and 16th.] Got down below fort Massac,51 and
remained ashore most part of the night, being detained
by the wind. On the night and morning of the 15th, the
thermometer fell to io°. In a cypress swamp, near to the
shore, grew the Gleditsia monosperma and the Cephalan-
thus, with pubescent leaves and branchlets, which grows
in Georgia and Louisiana, also the Asclepias parvv-
17th.] Between 2 and 3 o'clock in the afternoon, we
arrived at the mouth of the Ohio, and were considerably
mortified on perceiving the Mississippi to be full of floating ice. Governed by the conduct of the boats which we
had for three days accompanied, we came to on the Kentucky shore, and remained in company with several other
boats, this and the whole of the following day.
48 On Birkbeck, see various references in our volume x.— Ed.
80 Rock-in-the-cave (Cave-in-Rock). See Cuming's Tour, in our volume iv»
note 180.— Ed.
a For sketch of Fort Massac, see André Michaux's Travels, volume iii of our
series, note 139.— Ed.
■i\H Early Western Travels
[Vol. 13
The summit of the bank, at the foot of which we had
landed, was surmounted by an almost impenetrable and
sempervirent cane brake; we measured several [41] canes
upwards of 30 feet in height. These wilds afford but little
gratification to the botanist, their extreme darkness excluding the existence of nearly every herbaceous plant.
Among the trees, we still continue to observe the coffee-
bean (Gymnocladus canadensis), now loaded with legumes,
the seeds of which, when parched, are agreeable to eat,
but produce a substitute for coffee greatly inferior to the
The whole country here, on both sides of the Mississippi
and the Ohio, remains uninhabited in consequence of inundation, and abounds with various kinds of game, but
particularly deer and bear, turkeys, geese, and swans,
with hosts of other aquatic fowls; though, with the exception of the white pelican, they are such as commonly exist
in many other parts of the Union.
While amusing ourselves on the 17th, we were visited
by a couple of the Delaware Indians, and shortly after by
a hunting party of Shawnees,52 who reside some miles west
of St. Louis. I invited one of them into our cabin, and
prevailed upon him to take supper, with which he appeared
to be well satisfied and grateful. On the following day, a
number of the Shawnees came with our evening guest,
and desired to purchase gun-powder. They behaved
with civility, and almost refused to taste of spirits, but
their reluctance was at length overcome by some of our
neighbours, and the night was passed at their camp with
yells and riot. Although the Delawares and Shawnees
are proximately allied to each other, yet we perceive the
existence of that jealousy among them, which has ever
On the Shawnee, see Weiser's Journal, in our volume i, note 13.— Ed. i8r8-i82o]
Nuttall's Journal
been so fatal to the interest of the aborigines, from the conquest of Cortes to the present moment. The Delawares
cautioned me against the Shawnees, among whom they
were continually hunting, and stigmatized them as rogues;
I found them, however, all equally honest in their dealings,
as far as I had any intercourse with them; still the history
[42] of the Shawnees, on many occasions, has long proved
the truth of the character which is given of them by the
Delawares. Scarcely any of the Indian tribes have migrated so often and so far, as the restless and intriguing
Shawnees; who, since their first discovery on the banks of
the Savannah, in Georgia, have, in the space of a century,
successively migrated through the western states to the
further bank of the Mississippi. Ever flying from the
hateful circle of civilized society, which, probably in their
own defence, they have repeatedly scourged, so as, indeed,
to endanger their safety; averse to agriculture and systematic labour, they still depend upon the precarious bounty
of the chase for their rude subsistence. Retreating into
the forests of the western interior, according to their own
acknowledgment destitute of lands, they are reduced to
the misery of craving the favour of hunting ground from
the Cherokees and Osages,58 excepting the uninhabitable
wilds of the Mississippi, which, as in former times, still
continue the common range of every tribe of native
These Indians possess the same symbolical or pantomimic language, as that which is employed by most of the
nations with which I have become acquainted. It appears
to be a compact invented by necessity, which gives that
facility to communication denied to oral speech.
63 See ibid., note 33, for the Cherokee; for the Osage, see Bradbury's Travels,
our volume.v, notes 22, 107.— Ed.
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 13
Embark amidst the ice of the Mississippi — Run aground
on Wolf's island in attempting to land — relieved
from this situation — but find ourselves again involved
in it, and are imposed upon by the extortion of a neighbouring voyager — Pass the Iron banks — Cypress —
Solitude of the country — New Madrid — Oscillations
of the earth still frequent — Point Pleasant — Vestiges
of the great earthquake — The Little Prairie settlement
almost destroyed by it — The Canadian reach — A
dangerous and difficult pass of the river — The first
Chicasaw Bluffs — Additional danger and uncertainty
of the navigation — Stratification of the Bluff — A dangerous accident — The second Chicasaw Bluffs — Observations on their stratification.
19TH.] This morning, after breakfast, our more than
usually timid neighbours and ourselves ventured into the
floating ice of the Mississippi, which we soon found to be
less formidable than we had imagined, though still not
without some danger of drifting imperceptibly or unavoidably upon some sunken tree, of which there are no small
abundance throughout the bed of the Mississippi. Carried upon these by the rapid current, our boats might
be staved or entirely overturned, accidents which not infrequently happen to those who give way to negligence or
About half an hour before sun-set, our company came
to alongside a breaking sand-bar, where lay also two other
boats; governed by their example we attempted to land,
but floated by the current to a distance below, and here,
unfortunately, attempting to make a landing, and trusting
too confidently to the lightness of our boat, we were instantly carried upon a shallow and miry bar. I was sensible of the dilemma [44] into which we had fallen, and lost 1818-1820]
Nuttall's Journal
no time to plunge into the water, though at the point of
freezing, attempting, but in vain, to float off the boat by a
lever. The effort was beyond my strength, and after remaining in the water nearly an hour, I had reluctantly to
submit to our situation. At length, two boatmen offered
their assistance, for the consideration of five dollars, with
which I complied, and in a few moments we again floated.
They took us in the dark about ioo yards further down,
and there made a landing. I still felt suspicious of our
situation, notwithstanding their assurances of safety: and
at day-light, we found ourselves (in consequence of the
rapid falling of the river) as far as ever grounded upon the
bar; to obviate which, all our strength and ingenuity
availed nothing. The boatmen also, who had assisted us
the preceding night, and put us off our guard by false
assurances, now passed us with indifference, and denied
us the assistance which they had promised. We immediately commenced unloading, and had proceeded pretty
far in our labour, when we were visited by the owner of a
neighbouring boat, who, pretending to commiserate our
situation, offered to assist us gratuitously; and hearing
how we had been cheated out of five dollars, expressed
his dislike at any boatman having acted with such want
of fellow-feeling. We had scarcely time to breakfast,
before our yankees arrived with two skiffs; and one of
them now assured us that we should never be able to get
off until the rise of the river; though, as appeared in the
sequel, merely with the friendly view of putting a good
price upon his services. The other, instead of the gratuitous assistance which he had offered, made a tender of his
services at three dollars. At length, like genuine Arabs, they
demanded the value of eight dollars, with which I was
reluctantly obliged to comply.   After about ten minutes
m IT
'l )5
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 13
further unloading, a lever placed under the bow, set us
readily afloat [45] in one minute; so much had these kind
gentlemen deceived us, as to our real situation. They now
also refused to fulfil the bargain of assisting us to reload,
until brought to some sense of duty by remonstrance.—
I shall not indeed soon forget Wolf's island, and its harbour of sharpers.
20th.] The day was far advanced when we got off, and
after floating 10 miles we moored for the night, taking care
to have deep water.
The land appears low and uninhabited on every side,
except at the Iron-banks54 (called Mine au Fer by the
French) we passed yesterday, and which are cliffs of friable
and argillaceous earth, the upper bed being ferruginous,
beneath which occurs a very conspicuously-coloured band
of pink clay about 12 inches thick, and below are white
beds of the same material, improperly considered
The Cyprus (Cupressus disticha) which continues some
distance along the Ohio above its estuary, is here much
more common, and always indicates the presence of annual
inundation and consequent swamps and lagoons, but we
do not yet meet with the long moss (Tillandsia usneoides),
a plant so characteristic of the prevalence of unhealthy
humidity in the atmosphere.
21 st.] We commenced our voyage at the dawn of day,
and continued to float along without interruption. The
river here appears truly magnificent, though generally
bordered by the most gloomy solitudes, in which there are
64 The bluffs called Iron Banks are on the Kentucky side of the river, about
twenty miles below the mouth of the Ohio. They are eighty to a hundred and
twenty feet in height. From their brownish color, the early explorers supposed
them to contain rich deposits of iron, whence the name; but the amount of the
metal is negligible.— Ed. IT
Nuttall's Journal
now no visible traces of the abode of man. It is indeed a
sublime contrast to the busy hum of a city, and not altogether destitute of interest. In the course of the day we
passed a number of capacious islands, but all as they
ever were from their creation, and most of them even without names, the property of any one who will assume
the possession; but they are in general, I suspect, annually submerged by inundation.
[46] This evening we were 10 miles above New Madrid,
and moored opposite to one of the islands which had been
convulsed by the earthquake of 1811.
22d.] We commenced our voyage early, and arrived
before noon at New Madrid.55 We found both sides of
the river unusually lined with sunken logs, some stationary
and others in motion, and we narrowly avoided several of,
considerable magnitude.
New Madrid is an insignificant French hamlet, containing little more than about 20 log houses and stores miserably supplied, the goods of which are retailed at exorbitant
prices: for example, 18 cents per pound for lead, which
costs seven cents at Herculaneum; salt five dollars per
bushel; sugar 31 1-4 cents per pound; whiskey one dollar
25 cents per gallon; apples 25 cents per dozen; corn 50
cents per bushel; fresh butter 37 1-2 cents per pound; eggs
the same per dozen; pork six dollars per hundred; beef five
dollars. Still the neighbouring land appears to be of a
good quality, but people have been discouraged from settling in consequence of the earthquakes, which, besides
the memorable one of 1811, are very frequently experienced, two or three oscillations being sometimes felt in a
day. The United States, in order to compensate those
who suffered in their property by the catastrophe, granted
81 For New Madrid, see Cuming's Tour, our volume iv, note 185.— Ed.
iiir mmm
m l\
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 13
to the settlers an equivalent of land in other parts of the
The site of the town, as we learn from La Vega, the historian of Soto, bears unequivocal marks of an aboriginal
station; still presenting the remains of some low mounds,
which, as usual, abound with fragments of earthen
23d.] We proceeded about six miles, and came to at
another small French hamlet called Point Pleasant. [47]
Here I saw the Catalpa (Catalpa cordifolia) in the forests,
apparently indigenous, for the first time in my life, though
still contiguous to habitations.
This place and several islands below were greatly convulsed by the earthquake, and have in consequence been
abandoned. I was shown a considerable chasm still far
from being filled up, from whence the water of the river,
as they say, rushed in an elevated column. The land is
here of a superior quality, but flat, and no high grounds
have made their appearance since we passed the Iron-
Banks, no rock is any where to be seen; the banks of the
river are deep and friable; islands and sand-bars, at this
stage of the river connected with the land, are almost innumerable. In the midst of so much plenty provided by
nature, the Canadian squatters57 are here, as elsewhere,
in miserable circumstances. They raise no wheat, and
scarcely enough of maize for their support. Superfine
flour sold here at 11 dollars per barrel.
68 See the Appendix, and the account of De Soto's incursion.
In the immediate vicinity of the town I met with Bcebera glandulosa, Erigeron
(Ccenotus) divaricatum, Verbena stricta, V. Aubletia, Croton capitatum, and
Selenium quadridentatum. On the banks of the river Oxydenia attenuata and
the Capraria mullifida of Michaux.— Nuttall.
•' Such as cultivate unappropriated land without any species of title.—
Nuttall. 1818-1820]
Nuttall's Journal
The dresses of the men consist of blanket capeaus, buckskin pantaloons, and mockasins.
25th.] Christmas-day. We left Point Pleasant,58 and
floated along without encountering any material obstacle,
except glancing against an enormous moving log (or sawyer), which for the moment-threw us into terror. Indeed
the submerged trees become more and more numerous.
In the evening we arrived at the remains of the settlement called the Little Prairie, where there is now only a
single house, all the rest, together with their foundations,
having been swept away by the river, soon after the convulsion of the earthquake, in consequence (as the inhabitants say, and as they also affirm in New Madrid) of the
land having sunk 10 feet or more below its former level.58
[48] 26th.] After continuing about 10 miles below the
Little Prairie, we were detained for the remainder of the
day by the commencement of a storm, which towards
evening increased to violence, and continued so throughout
the night. I felt under some apprehension that we should
break our cable, and so be cast away upon some of the
many snags and sawyers which obstruct the river.
27th.] Towards noon, the north-west wind moderating,
we continued as usual, and proceeded about 12 miles
through a portion of the river filled with islands and trunks
of trees. No habitations whatever appeared since we left
the Little Prairie.
28th.] Proceeded a few miles, to the head 01 the 25th
68 Point Pleasant is on the Missouri side of the river, ten miles below New
Madrid, and eighty below the mouth of the Ohio. This place should not be
confused with the site of the battle of Point Pleasant, at the mouth of the Great
Kanawha.— Ed.
69 For a historical account of this country, once thickly inhabited by the
natives, see the abridged relation of its discovery, and pretended conquest, by
Ferdinand de Soto, in the Appendix.— Nuttall.
I 8o
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 13
island, as marked in the Pittsburgh Navigator,80 and remained about four hours, waiting the abatement of the
wind, which did not permit us to proceed in safety. Our
company did not appear inclined to advance towards the
Canadian reach until the following morning; but not wishing to spend any time unnecessarily, we continued about
five miles further.
29th.] Proceeding at day-break, we looked with apprehension for the dangers described by the Navigator, but
passed along with so little difficulty as almost to doubt our
actual situation. A few miles below, however, we observed the river contracted within a narrow space by a
spreading sand-bar (or island), and planted almost across
with large and dangerous trunks, some with the tops, and
others with the roots uppermost, in a perpendicular posture. The water broke upon them with a noise which I
had heard distinctly for two miles, like the cascade of a
mill-race, in consequence of the velocity of the current;
with all our caution to avoid them, the boat grazed on one,
which was almost entirely submerged, and we received a
terrific jar. All day we had experienced uninterrupted
rain, but it was now pouring down in torrents. About
two o'clock in the afternoon, as soon [49] as the fog had
cleared away, we perceived ourselves again moving towards the field of danger. I counted, in the space of a
minute, about 100 huge trees fixed in all postures, nearly
across the whole river, so as scarcely to leave room for a
passage. We proceeded towards a bank of willows on
the Louisiana side, thinking to land for the night, in
consequence of the unremitting and drenching rain, but
found it impracticable, by reason of the rapid current.
60 For comment on the Pittsburgh Navigator, see Cuming's Tour, in otfr
volume iv, note 43.— Ed. TIP
Nuttall's Journal
At length we descended to water which had the appearance
of an eddy, and here I was strongly urged to land, in
which attempt the boat would, in all probability, have been
sunk amidst a host of snags and half-concealed trunks
which lined the shore. With all our exertions in rowing
off, we but narrowly escaped from being drawn into the
impassable channel of a sand island which spread out
into the river, presenting a portion of water resembling a
sunken forest. The only course which we had left appeared no less a labyrinth of danger, so horribly filled with
black and gigantic trunks of trees, along which the current
foamed with terrific velocity — Scylla on one hand, and
more than one Charybdis on the other. Fortunately,
however, our voyage was not destined to end here, and,
after an hour's drenching amidst torrents of rain, we at
length obtained a landing place about 10 miles above the
first Chicasaw Bluffs.81 On the point of one of these bars
at Flour island, we observed the wreck of two large flat
boats which we supposed might have been lost during the
earthquake. Nothing still appeared on every hand but
houseless solitude, and gloomy silence, the inundation
precluding the possibility of settlement.
30th.] We proceeded as soon as the dense fog this morning would permit, but could not ascertain our situation
any longer by the vague trifling of the Navigator, [50] and
after proceeding some distance at the beck of the current,
came in sight of Flour island. Here the Navigator says,
' 'the channel is on the right side, but some prefer the left,"
but the very sight of the right-hand channel was to me
sufficient, and finding the main body of the river carrying
us to the left, I felt satisfied to go farther round rather
than venture through such a horrid pass, which indeed re-
61 Called by the first French settlers the Cliffs of Prud'homme.— Nuttall. fym
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 13
sembled a submerged forest, and through which no flat
boat, I should suppose, could ever proceed with safety,
however deep might be the water. That we had got a
passable channel to the left, I was fully satisfied on perceiving the intersection of the first Chicasaw Bluffs or hills,
all the high lands of the Mississippi being uniformly
washed at their base by a deep and rapid current. Here
we landed for a few moments, to survey those hills, the
only ones we had seen since leaving the Iron banks. The
ascent was steep, and the elevation between 2 and 300
feet above the level of the river. These banks appeared
to consist of a stratified, ferruginous, and bluish sandy
clay, probably a disintegrated sandstone, which it perfectly resembled to the eye, though altogether friable
to, the touch. In some places, lower down the river, we
observed masses of ferruginous conglomerate blackened
by the atmosphere, the pebbles chiefly hornstone, and
some of them quartz. The débris of which this conglomerate consists is entirely adventitious, or unconnected with
the existing rocks, which form the basis of this ancient
At this place, we saw the first cabin since our departure
from the Little Prairie. On approaching the 34th island
from the mouth of the Ohio, which presents itself rounding, and nearly in the middle of the river, we had at first
determined to take the left-hand side, set down by the
Navigator as the channel, but finding ourselves to float
very slowly, we rowed a little, and then submitted to the
current. It was soon [51] observable, that we drifted towards the right-hand channel, though much the narrowest,
and my companion advised that we should keep the left,
especially as it was the nearest, and as the wind accompanied by rain blew strongly up the river.   However,* on mm
Nuttall's Journal
finding still that the current drew to the right, even
against the wind, and having arrived at the commencement of the bar of the island, I determined, at all events,
to keep to the right. At length, after considerable labour,
we landed at a neighbouring cabin, and were informed
that the left channel had not in places more than 12 inches
of water, being nearly dry, and almost destitute of current.
Here, again, we made a fortunate escape. We also learnt,
that not more than two days ago, a flat boat was sunk by
the snags, which filled the right-hand channel of Flour
At this place, we met with two or three families of
hunters, with whom were living some individuals of the
Shawnees and Delawares. They had lately caught an
unusual abundance of beaver in the neighbourhood, and
were anxious to barter it for whiskey, though scarcely possessed either of bread or vegetables. Amongst their furs,
I also saw a few skins of the musk-rat, (Arctomys monax,
L.) which are never met with further to the south.
31st.] We continued our voyage as usual at daylight,
and floating with a brisk current down the right side of
the 34th island, had nearly cleared ourselves of a host of
snags and sawyers, when at last, puzzled on which side of
one of these terrific objects to steer, we unfortunately
struck it with considerable force, and the young man who
accompanied us (the son of Mr. G.), an amiable youth
of 16, was precipitated headlong into the river, together
with the steering oar, which was suddenly jerked off by
the snag; our boat was at the same instant careened over
so far, as at first to appear overturning, but I instantly had
the satisfaction to see that she was free, had received no
[52] injury, and that Edwin on this emergency could swim,
and, though much alarmed, had come within our reach,
W&i mtÊtÊmmÊtÊiÊiimÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊmÊm
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 13
and got safely on board. As to our steering oar it remained across the snag, and was now become a sawyer;
working horizontally upon the back of the black and
fearful trunk which had so justly thrown us into consternation.
The wind springing up against us, we came to under
the second Chicasaw Bluff, and had time to examine and
contemplate these romantic cliffs, now doubly interesting
after such a monotonous and cheerless prospect of solitary
brakes and enswamped forests. This fasçade, or perpendicular section, precisely of the same materials and
consistence as that of the Iron banks above, continues, I
think, uninterruptedly for near two miles, and is about
150 feet high. The uppermost bed (all of them as nearly
horizontal as may be), 12 to 20 feet thick, commencing
immediately below the present vegetable loam, consists of
a yellowish, homogeneous, now friable, sandy, and argillaceous earth, which is succeeded by a thinner and more
ferruginous bed ; below occurs a layer or band of pink-red
clay, now and then variegated with white specks, and,
though constant in its appearance and relative position,
no where exceeding 18 inches in thickness; below again
occur ferruginous earths and clays more or less sandy,
then a bed of a brownish-black colour, and about 18 inches
in thickness, which, on examination, I found to be lignite,
or wood-coal, containing less bitumen than usual, and so
distinctly derived from the vegetable kingdom, exhibiting
even the cross grain of the wood, as to remove all doubts
of its origin. To the taste it was sensibly acid, and
smelt in burning like turf. Beneath this coal, and in connection with it, occurs a friable bed of dark-coloured argillaceous and sandy earth, in which I could very distinctly
perceive blackened impressions of leaves of an oak, like 1818-1820]
Nuttall's Journal
the red oak and the willow oak, with [53] Equisetum hiemale
or Shave-rush, and other vegetable remains, not much unlike the black beds of leaves which occur along the banks
of the Ohio, but much more mtermingled with earth. In
this bed also occur masses or nodules of a hard and very
fine-grained light gray sandstone, bordering almost upon
hornstone, likewise charged with vegetable remains, resembling charred wood, together with leaves of oaks and
of other forest trees. Nearly on a level with the present
low stage of the river, there was a second bed of this coal,
more interrupted than the first in its continuity, though
constant in its locality, no less in some places (like basins)
than 8, 12 or 15 feet in thickness. Below, clays again
succeeded, and terminated the visible stratification.
In two or three places, I observed that the mud, which
was very deep, had been boiling up into circular masses
like fumeroles, and have no doubt, but that the decomposition of this vast bed of lignite or wood-coal, situated
near the level of the river, and filled with pyrites, has been
the active agent in producing the earthquakes, which have
of late years agitated this country. The deposition of vast
rafts of timber, thus accidentally brought together by the
floods of the river, are continually, even before our eyes,
as I may say, accumulating stores of matter, which, in
after ages, will, no doubt, exert a baneful influence over
the devoted soil, beneath which they are silently interred !
How much has the vegetable kingdom to do with the destiny of man ! The time, though slowly, is perhaps surely
approaching, which will witness something like volcanic
eruptions on the banks of the Mississippi. The inhabitants frequently, and almost daily, experience slight oscillations of the earth: I have even witnessed them myself
while descending the river. Iff
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 13
[54]   CHAPTER V
Pass the third Chicasaw Bluff — Dangers of the navigation, and solitude of the-country — The fourth Bluff
of the Chicasaws — Lignite prevalent — Chicasaw
Indians — St. Francis river — depopulation of the
neighbouring country — Trees of the alluvial forest —
Destruction of the Big Prairie settlement — Scrub
grass — Difficulties of the navigation — Changes of the
soil, produced by the agency of the river — A visit from
three of the Arkansa Indians — A dense fog over the
river; the cause of it — Arrival near the mouth of the
Arkansa and White river.
January 1st, 1819.] We proceeded slowly, in consequence of adverse wind; and at length, came in sight of
the third Chicasaw Bluff,82 quite similar in appearance
and conformation with that of the second above described.
The 35th island of the Navigator intervened betwixt us
and the cliff, there being no water to the left of it; the channel at this stage of the river, was completely choked up by
a bed of sand.
We came to for the night on a sand-bar, opposite the
centre of the island, resembling an Arabian desert, and
scattered in every direction with lignite or bovey coal,
washed probably from the basis of the Bluffs. The shore
of the island was horribly strewed with the wreck of the
alluvial forest, brought down by the overwhelming current
of the river at its highest stage, and thrown confusedly
together in vast piles.
In the course of the day, we stopped awhile at a Shawnee
camp, and bartered for some venison and wild honey,
which they had in plenty.   The honey, according to the
82 For historical sketch of site of the third bluff, see Cuming's Tour, our
volume iv, note 188.— Ed. " wr ■
Nuttall's Journal
Indian mode, was contained in the skin of a deer taken off
by the aperture of the neck, [55] thus answering, though
very rudely, the purpose of a bottle.
On the 2d, we passed the ' "Devil's Race-ground," as
it has been very formidably termed, but observed no obstructions in the river equal to that at Plumb point, where
we saw the wrecked boats. We observe, however, every
day, wrecks of flat boats, drifted along the shores. We
continued to the lower end of the •'Devil's Elbow," and
again found the difficulty greatly exaggerated. The whole
surrounding country still continues a desolate wilderness,
abandoned to inundation, presenting impenetrable cane
brakes and gloomy forests: none of the trees, however,
attain that enormous magnitude, which they so frequently
present along the borders of the Ohio. This appearance
may perhaps be attributed, in part, to the perpetual revolutions of the soil, occasioned by the overwhelming force
and inundations of the river.
A dog lost in the forest, and perishing with hunger, came
up to the bank of the river, yelling most piteously; but
would not enter our skiff, which was sent for it, and continued to follow us for some distance, but the danger of
the shore, and the rapidity of the current, rendered our
endeavours to assist the miserable animal perfectly useless,
and, after some time, he fell back, stopped and yelled, till
he reluctantly disappeared.
3d.] We proceeded only a few miles in consequence of
the wind, and came to at the point of a sand-bar, seven
miles above the fourth Bluff. Here we observed a flat-
boat lying aground, and dry upon the bar, for want of
precaution in landing during  the falling state of the
AM* 88
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[Vol. 13
4th.] This morning we descended to the fourth Chicasaw Bluffs,88 and, after endeavouring in vain to proceed,
were obliged to desist for the wind, and come to under fort
Pickering.84 The strata are here again similar to those
of the second Bluffs, even the [56] seam of pink clay occurs,
and near the level of the river we likewise perceive the lignite in a bed of about six feet thickness; but not probably
continuous. Along the shore we saw masses which looked
precisely like burnt logs, but all this coal, at length, blazes
in the fire, and gives out, as usual, a smoke partaking of
the odour of coal and turf.
We found a store here for the supply of the Indians and
the settlers of the neighbourhood, besides that of the
United States. The advance upon articles sold to the
natives is very exorbitant: for example, a coarse Indian
duffell blanket four dollars, whiskey,'well watered, which
is sold almost without restraint, in spite of the law, two
dollars per gallon, and every thing else in the same proportion. Yet the Indians get no more than 25 cents for
a ham of venison, a goose, or a large turkey.
On visiting a neighbouring encampment of the Chica-
saws, we found many of them in a state of intoxication.
They are generally well dressed, extravagantly ornamented, and, from the fairness of many of their complexions, and agreeable features, appear to have profited by
their intercourse with the whites. Several of them possessed some knowledge of English, and a considerable
number are making advances towards civilization. General Jackson purchased from them a tract of land, said to
be of more than 300 miles extent, and bounded by Wolf
river, a small stream which enters the Mississippi at the
88 For sketch, see ibid., note 189.— Ed.
84 For note on Fort Pickering, see ibid., note 192.— Ed. wmm
Nuttall's Journal
commencement of the Bluffs.85 On the river lands I here
first noticed the occurrence of Brunichia, Quercus lyrata,
and Carya aquatica (Juglans, Mich.)
On the 5th we passed President island, of considerable
magnitude, contiguous to which there is a rapid current.
The left channel was now choked up with sand at its entrance. Here we again observed a settlement of two or
three families. In the evening we came to alongside a
sand-bar or willow island, at [57] least so in high water,
though now connected with the land by a dry sand-bar,
like many other of the transient islands noticed in the
Navigator. We, at length, began to observe a rise in the
bed of the river.
6th.] To-day we saw a few widely-scattered log-cabins
along the bank,88 and came within 14 miles of the mouth
of St. Francis.
7th.] We proceeded by the left channel of St. Francis
island, and found it very shallow and difficult, abounding
with snags and bars, upon one of which lay a flat-boat
aground, which had been detained here 12 days. We
endeavoured to make a landing at the uppermost house
of the settlement, near the mouth of the St. Francis, but
found the water much too rapid; we succeeded, however,
in eddy water half a mile below, but found a considerable
difficulty in ascending the broken bank.
I made some enquiries respecting the Arkansa, 95 miles
from hence. The Osages87 bear a very bad character
with these hunting farmers, of whom we saw but two
individuals, and one inhabited house, excepting that we
86 For brief statement regarding the purchase, see ibid., note 190.— Ed.
88 There is no record of a compact or permanent settlement at this date near
the mouth of the St. Francis. There were scattered settlers as early as 1800,
for John Patterson was born in that year not far above Helena.— Ed.
87 For the Osage Indians, see ante, note 53.— Ed. ■SMB
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 13
had first endeavoured to make. This settlement appears
to be nearly abandoned, and very undeservedly. I
walked out two or three miles into the woods, and found
the land considerably elevated above the reach of inundation, and of a good quality. Nearly opposite island 60,
a few miles below, we were informed of the existence of
hills within a quarter of a mile of the river.
How many ages may yet elapse before these luxuriant
wilds of the Mississippi can enumerate a population equal
to the Tartarian deserts ! At present all is irksome silence
and gloomy solitude, such as to inspire the mind with
I was greatly disappointed to meet with such a similarity
in the vegetation, to that of the middle and northern states.
The higher lands produce black ash, elm (Ulmus ameri-
cand), hickory, walnut, maple, [58] hackberry (Céltis
integrifolia, no other species), honey-locust, coffee-bean,
&c. On the river lands, as usual, grows platanus or
buttonwood, upon the seeds of which flocks of screaming
parrots were greedily feeding,68 also enormous cotton-wood
trees (Populus angulisans), commonly called yellow poplar,
some of them more than six feet in diameter, and occasionally festooned with the largest vines which I had ever beheld. Here grew also the holly (Ilex opaca), Aplectrum
hiemale, (Ophrys hyemale, Lin.), Botrychium obliquum,
and Fumaria aurea. Nearly all the trees throughout this
country possessing a smooth bark, are loaded with misletoe
(Viscum verticillatum).
8th.] About a mile below the place where we spent the
last night, is the settlement called the Big Prairie, consisting of three or four log-cabins, and two families, but in
88 Their most favourite food in the autumn is the seeds of the cuckold bur
(Xanthium strumarium).— Nuttall. "»*•
Nuttall's Journal
a state of abandonment since the shock of the earthquake,
which the inhabitants assert to have produced a depression
of the ordinary level, that exposed the settlement to inundation; and, in fact, by a sudden encroachment of the
river, which carried off the land for more than a quarter
of a mile in breadth, all the habitations, except the two
now surviving, were swept into the river. About a mile
and a half below commences the 6oth island of the Navigator; the right channel was now choked up with sand at its
outlet. A little distance below we landed at a store to
purchase some necessaries. Considerable tracts of good
and elevated land, once numerously peopled by the natives, appear in this quarter, over which the conspicuous
devastations of a hurricane now added horror to solitude.
The scrub-grass or rushes, as they are called here
(Equisetum hiemale), from about 50 to 60 miles above, to
this place, appear, along the banks in vast fields, and,
together with the cane, which is evergreen, [59] are considered the most important, and, indeed, the only winter
fodder for all kinds of cattle. The cane is unquestionably
saccharine and nutritious, but the scrub-grass produces
an unfavourable action on the stomach, and scours the
cattle so as to debilitate and destroy them if its use be long
We proceeded, without any accident worthy of remark,
about six miles, below the ' 'Little Round island," noticed
in the Navigator, which from its uncommon aspect affords
a pretty good local object for the boatmen. While passing the island we were accosted by some, to us, suspicious characters, rnimicking distress to draw us to land, but
in vain. We had been well assured of the existence of
gangs of pirates occasionally occupying these solitudes.
9th.] We continued, as usual, soon after day-break, and mmmm
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 13
ft! I
were about to stop by reason of the wind, when it unexpectedly abated, so far as to prevent us, and we proceeded
to the Three Islands, as they ought to be called for the
sake of distinction, and which are not intelligible as the
62d and 63d of the Navigator. These islands He nearly
parallel, and present themselves at the commencement of
a left hand bend in the river. Two of them which first
appear are small willow islands, with adjoining sand-bars.
The channel of the first was now dry; that of the second
smooth, but apparently shallow. The principal insulated
forest is crescent-formed like Flour island, or deeply and
circularly indented on the right-hand side. We had proceeded past the two willow islands nearly to the principal
one, when we perceived, unexpectedly, that the greater
part of the river was pouring along with headlong velocity
between the main and second willow island. To the left,
the channel round the third island appeared broad and
shallow, indeed nearly deserted by the river. We now
entered the torrent almost too late for precaution, which,
towards the main island, the side to which we had been
inadvertently [60] drawn, was planted full of black and
fearful logs. It was only with the utmost exertion that
we saved ourselves (by rowing out towards the bar) from
the fate of some unfortunate boatmen, which presented
itself to us with more than usual horror. This was a large
flat-boat, which hung upon the trunk of an implanted tree,
by which it had been perforated and instantly sunk.
We passed islands 64 and 65, and came to the shore in
the bend opposite the middle of 66, which appeared to be
about three miles in length. From New Madrid to this
place the river appears singularly meandering, sweeping
along in vast elliptic curves, some of them from six to
eight miles round, and constantly presenting themselves V
Nuttall's Journal
in opposite directions. The principal current pressing
against the centre of the bend, at the rate of about five
miles per hour, gradually diminishes in force as it approaches the extremity of the curve. Having attained
the point or promontory, the current proceeds with accumulating velocity to the opposite bank, leaving, consequently, to the eddy water, an extensive deposition in the
form of a vast bed of sand, nearly destitute of vegetation,
but flanked commonly by an island or peninsula of willows. These beds of sand, for the most part of the year
under water, are what the boatmen term bars. The
river, as it sweeps along the curve, according to its force
and magnitude, produces excavations in the banks;
which, consisting of friable materials, are perpetually
washing away and leaving broken and perpendicular
ledges, often lined with fallen trees, so as to be very dangerous to the approach of boats, which would be dashed
to pieces by the velocity of the current. These slips in
the banks are almost perpetual, and by the undermining
of eddies often remarkable in their extent. To-day we
witnessed two horrid sinkings of the bank, by each of
which not less than an acre of land had fallen in a day or
two [61] ago, with all the trees and cane upon them, down
to the present level of the river, a depth of 30 or 40 feet
perpendicular. These masses now formed projecting
points, upon which the floating drift was arrested, and
over which the current broke along with more than ordinary velocity. Just after passing one of these foaming
drifts, we narrowly escaped being drawn into a corresponding eddy and vortex that rushed up the stream, with a
fearful violence, and from which we should not have
been easily extricated. I now sufficiently saw the reason
why the flat-boats were always kept out from the shore, w»
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 13
and towards the bars which occupy the opposite side of
the river.
The encroachments in the centre of the curves of the
meanders, proceeding to a certain extent, at length break
through and form islands, in time the islands also disappear, and so the river continually augmenting its uncon-
troulable dominion over the friable soil, alternately fills
up one channel, and more deeply excavates or forms another, in proportion to the caprice of the current.
In regard to landing, eddy or silent water is constantly
to be found beyond the point of the bends or curves of the
river. The bars are also generally safe, when sufficiently
high, and the water deep. In such situations, the counter
current, though inconsiderable, affords also a singular
facility to vessels which are ascending.
A rude cabin, which we passed to-day, was the only
habitation we had seen for 30 miles.
This evening we were visited by three young men, a
boy, and a squaw of the Osarks, a band of the Quapaws89
or Arkansa Indians. Their aspect was agreeable, their
features aquiline, and their complexion comparatively
fair; my first impression was that they somewhat resembled
the Osages. Their errand was whiskey, and I regretted
that it was not possible to satisfy them without it. They
drank healths in [62] their own language, and one of them
could mumble out a little bad English. They informed
me, partly by signs, that their company was about five or
six families or fires, as they intimated, out on a hunting
excursion. I was sorry to find that they were beggars,
and that one of them proved himseK to be a thief.
10th.] This morning we left the 66th island, opposite
the middle of which we came to last evening, but found.
89 For the Quapaw, see post, note 84.— Ed. V
Nuttall's Journal
our situation hazardous from the sliding in of the bank
around, and which might easily have involved us in
difficulty. By the time we had proceeded about a mile
and a half along the bend or right hand channel of 67 and
68, which he opposite to each other, a fog sprung up, so
very dense as to render our situation amidst almost unseen obstacles extremely dangerous. We had no alternative but rowing over to the bar of the island on our left,
in which attempt we at length succeeded, not, however,
without a risk of grounding. Here we lay until towards
evening, when we proceeded to the termination of the 68th
island, and made an indifferent landing. On exposing
the thermometer to the air, it rose and remained at 620.
In the water it fell to 420; the difference being 200, which
readily accounted for the dense fog that exclusively enveloped the river. This coldness of the water was no
doubt occasioned by the thawing of ice in the upper part
of the river, or some of its more considerable tributary
streams, in consequence of which, the vapours of the moist
and warm air were perpetually precipitated over it. The
air, of unequal temperature, now and then felt extremely
On the nth we were again detained by the fog and
heavy rain, but turned out about 10 o'clock. After proceeding opposite the commencement of the 69th island
we stopped in consequence of the fog. Here, on ascending the bank, I found the woods almost impenetrably
laced with green briars (Smilax), [63] supple-jacks (Œno-
plia volubilis), and the Brunichia, and for the first time
recognised the short-podded honey-locust (Gleditscia
brachycarpa), a distinct species, intermediate with the
common kind (G. triacanthos), and the one-seeded locust
(G. monosperma), differing from G. triacanthos in the per-
>P*l 96
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[Vol. 13
sisting fasciculated legumes, as well as in their shortness
and want of pulp.
We proceeded a few miles further amidst torrents of
rain, and were again obliged to land in consequence of
the fog. Here we met with two hunters, who informed us
of the existence of a considerable settlement on the banks
of White River.70
The wind springing up in the evening from the northwest, the thermometer fell to 520, and the water to 400,
from which time the dense fog that had exclusively enveloped the river began to disperse, and in the night we
had a storm.
12th.] Coming along the bend of the 71st island, we
struck upon an enormous planter, or immoveable log,
but again escaped without accident. About noon we
landed at Mr. M'Lane's,71 a house of entertainment.
Here I was advised to proceed with my small cargo and
flat-boat to the port of Osark, on the Arkansa, by the
bayou,72 which communicates between the White and
Arkansa rivers, in both of which it was now conjectured
there was back-water from the Mississippi. Concluding
upon this measure, I hired a man at five dollars to assist
me, and parted here with Mr. G and son, who soon,
to my satisfaction, got a further passage on board a flat-
boat. The idea of so soon arriving on the ground which
I more immediately intended to explore, did not fail to
inspire me with hope and satisfaction.
70 Local historians mention an early settlement at Crockett's Bluff, on. White
River, which may be the one here referred to.— Ed.
71 We find nothing positive relative to this individual; but it is interesting to
note that Arkansas County was represented in the upper house of the territorial
legislature in 1821 by Neil McLane, who may have been the same man.— Ed.
72 This bayou, sometimes called "White River Cut Off," was the common'
route from the Mississippi to the Arkansas, for travellers from the North.— Ed.
■M 1818-1820]
Nuttall's Journal
Proceed up White river for the Arkansa — Suspicious
conduct of one of the boatmen — Pass through the connecting bayou, and proceed up the Arkansa; its navigation; soil and surrounding scenery — A small French
settlement — Extraordinary mildness of the season —
Mounds — Changes in the alluvial lands produced by
the agency of the river — Land speculators — Vegetation of the alluvial lands — The town or Post of Arkansas — Enormous land claims — Difficulty of navigating against the current — The Great Prairie —
First settlement on the Arkansa; its present state —
Agricultural advantages arising from the mildness of
the climate — Storax —Aboriginal remains —The Qua-
paws or Arkansas — Their traditions and character.
13TH.] To-day I was detained at Mr. M'Lane's, waiting the drunken whim of the Yankee, whom necessity
had obliged me to hire. In the course of a few hours he
had shifted from two bargains. At first, I was to give him
five dollars for his assistance, and in case that should prove
inadequate, I had agreed to hire an additional hand on
the Arkansa. Now he wished to have the boat for bringing her completely to the Port, and next he wanted 10
dollars !
I endeavoured to amuse myself in the neighbourhood,
by a ramble through the adjoining cane-brake. Here.I
found abundance of the Celtis integrifolia (entire-leaved
nettle tree) and the common and one-seeded honey-locust;
also Forrestiera acuminata of Poiret (Borya acuminata,
Wild.). The day was as mild and warm as the month
of May, and the Senecio laciniata, so common along the
banks of the Mississippi, already showed signs of flower
14th.] To-day we proceeded up White river with [65] 98
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 13
considerable difficulty, and hard labour, the Mississippi
not being sufficiently high to produce any eddy. The
course which we made, in the two miles that we ascended,
was west by north. I now found the boatman whom I
had hired, one of the most worthless and drunken scoundrels imaginable; he could not be prevailed upon to do
any thing but steer, while myself and the other man I had
hired, were obliged to keep constantly to the oar, or the
cordelle (tow-rope). In the evening we left the boat
without any guard, intending to repair to it in the morning
from Mr. M'Lane's, where we returned again this evening, being only three miles distant across the forest.
Here I discovered that the Yankee intended to proceed
to the boat in our absence and rob me, pretending some
business to the mouth of the Arkansa, for which he must
depart by moon-light. Unknown to him, however, and
accompanied by a young man whom I had hired in his
place, we repaired to the boat, waiting under arms the approach of the thief, but unable to obtain a boat, he had
relinquished the attempt, and saved himself from chastisement.
In the neighbouring woods I was shewn a scandent
leguminous shrub, so extremely tenacious as to afford a
good substitute for ropes, and commonly employed as a
boat's cable. A knot can be tied of it with ease. On
examination I found it to be the plant which I have called
Wisteria speciosa ((glycine frutescens. Willd.) the Carolina kidney-bean tree.78
15th.] We continued with hard labour ascending White
river to the bayou, said to enter seven miles up that stream.
The latter proceeds from the bayou, in a direction of west
78 The name of Thyrsanthus, given by Mr. Elliott, has been already employed
for another genus.— Nuttall. "*^r
1818-1820] Nuttall's Journal 99
to north-west, the bayou or cut-off continuing to the southwest. In this distance, there are no settlements, the land
being overflowed by the back water of the Mississippi.
We passed nearly [66] through the bayou, in which there
are four points of land and a half; the current carrying us
almost three miles an hour towards the Arkansa, which
it entered nearly at right angles, with a rapid current,
and a channel filled with snags. The length of the bayou
appears to be about eight or nine miles.
16th.] Leaving the bayou, we entered the Arkansa,
which was very low, but still red and muddy from the
freshets of the Canadian. Most of the larger streams
which enter into it from the south, are charged with red
and turbid water, while those of the north are clear.
Every where I observed the chocolate or reddish brown
clay of the salt formation, deposited by the southern
freshets. The Arkansa had here a very gentle current,
and was scarcely more than 200 yards wide, with its
meanders on a small scale, similar to those of the Mississippi. In consequence of the unrestrained dorninion of
the inundation, no settlements yet appeared in this
quarter. We proceeded chiefly by means of the cordelle,
but at a very tedious and tiresome rate, for, after the
utmost exertion, with our unwieldy boat, we were this
evening only six and a half miles above the outlet of the
17th.] We found the labour of towing our boat exceedingly tiresome, in consequence of the sudden falling of the
river, produced by a corresponding ebb of the Mississippi.
With painful exertions, and after wading more than three
hours in the river, we passed only two bars in the course
of the day.
18th.] To-day we towed along two bars, much more con- IOO
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 13
\ a
■ ■ :i\ )
siderable than any preceding bends, but had the disappointment to spend the night only a single mile below
Madame Gordon's, the place of our destination with the
boat, and only 16 miles above the bayou, by which we
entered the Arkansa. This house is the first which is
met with in ascending the river. Nearly opposite to the
foot of the last bar [67] but one which we passed, a vast
pile of drift wood marks the outlet of a bayou, which is
open in high water, and communicates with the Mississippi.
The three last bends of the river, like the four first,
tending by half circles to the north-west, are each about
two and three miles in circuit. As in the Mississippi, the
current sets with the greatest force against the centre of
the curves; the banks of which are nearly perpendicular,
and subject to a perpetual state of dislocation. In such
situations we frequently see brakes of cane; while, on the
opposite side, a naked beach of sand, thinly strewed with
succulent and maritime plants, considerably wider than
the river, appears to imitate the aridity of a desert, though
contrasted at a little distance by skirting groves of willows
and poplars.
No other kind of soil appears than a friable loam, and
the beds of red clay, which so strongly tinge the water at
particular periods of inundation. The sand of the river
appears to be in perpetual motion, drifting along at the
beck of the current; its instabihty is indeed often dangerous to the cattle that happen to venture into the river,
either to drink or traverse the stream.
The land, although neglected, appears in several places,
below Madame Gordon's, high enough to be susceptible
of cultivation, and secure from inundation, at least for
some distance from the immediate bank of the river.
11 i8r8-i82o]
Nuttall's Journal
No change, that I can remark, yet exists in the vegetation, and the scenery is almost destitute of every thing
which is agreeable to human nature; nothing yet appears
but one vast trackless wilderness of trees, a dead solemnity, where the human voice is never heard to echo, where
not even ruins of the humblest kind recal its history to
mind, or prove the past dominion of man. All is rude
nature as it sprang into [68] existence, still preserving its
primeval type, its unreclaimed exuberance.
19th.] This morning we had extremely hard labour, to
tow the only mile which remained of our tiresome voyage.
I was obliged to plunge into the water up to the waist, and
there work for some time, to disengage the boat from a
hidden log upon which it was held; the men I had employed, being this morning scarcely willing to wet their
feet, although I had to pay them exorbitant wages.
A mile and a half from Madame Gordon's, there was a
settlement, consisting of four or five French families,
situated upon an elevated tract of fertile land, which is
occasionally insulated by the overflowings of the White
and Arkansa rivers.
20th.] To-day, and indeed for more than a week past,
the weather, except being cloudy, has felt to me like May;
towards mid-day, the thermometer rose to 670. The
birds had commenced their melodies; and on the high and
open bank of the river near to Madame Gordon's, I had
already the gratification of finding flowers of the same
natural family as many of the early plants of Europe; the
Cruciferae; but to me they were doubly interesting, as the
first fruits of a harvest never before reaped by any botanist.
In the afternoon, I walked about a mile from the river
to the house of Monsieur Tenass, an honest and industrious farmer.    The crop of cotton, and of corn, here the I02
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 13
last summer was, I understand, very indifferent, for want
of rain. The first sold here, at five to six dollars per hundred weight, in the seed; and flour at 10 dollars per barrel.
The climate is said to be too warm for apples, but
quite suitable for peaches. The land on which this gentleman and his neighbours resided, in tolerable independence, is very considerably elevated and open, bearing a
resemblance to the lands about the Chicasaw [69] Bluffs,
and at first view, I thought I discovered a considerable
hill, but it was, in fact, an enormous mound, not less than
40 feet high, situated towards the centre of a circle of
other lesser mounds, and elevated platforms of earth.
The usual vestiges of earthenware, and weapons of horn-
stone flint, are here also met with, scattered over the surrounding soil.
In any other direction from this settlement, the lands
are totally overflowed in freshets as far as the Mississippi. On this side of the Arkansa, the floods cover the
whole intermediate space to White river, a distance of
30 miles. Within this tract, cultivation can never take
place without recourse to the same industry, which has
redeemed Holland from the ocean. The singular caprice of the river, as it accidentally seeks its way to the
sea, meandering through its alluvial valley, is truly remarkable. The variation of its channel is almost incredible, and the action which it exercises over the destiny of
the soil, can scarcely be conceived. After pursuing a given
course for many ages, and slowly encroaching, it has, at
length, in many instances cut through an isthmus, and thus
abandoned perhaps a course of six or eight miles, in which
the water stagnating, at length becomes totally insulated,
and thus presents a lagoon or lake. One of these insulated channels, termed a lake, commences about two miles 1818-1820] Nuttall's Journal 103
from hence, and approaches within four miles of the Arkansas or the Post of Osark, affording a much nearer
communication than the present course of the river.
Towards evening, two keel boats came in sight, one of
which was deeply loaded with whiskey and flour; the other,
a small boat fitted out by a general Calamees and his
brother, two elderly men out on a land speculation, who
intended to ascend the river as far as the Cadron,74 which
is 300 miles from hence by water, or to the Fort,75 which is
350 miles further. I perceived that they noted down
every particular which [70] came to their knowledge, but
appeared to be illiterate men, and of course, I found them
incapable of appreciating the value of science. On application, they merely condescended to offer me a passage,
provided I would find my own provision, and work as a
boat-man. Such was the encouragement, which I at length
wrung from these generous speculators; not, I dare say,
exploring the Missouri territory with the same philanthropic views as the generous Birkbeck.
21st.] About 12 o'clock, the thermometer was again at
67° In the course of the forenoon, I took a solitary
ramble down the bank of the river, and found along its
shelving border, where the sun obtained free access, abundance of the Mimosa glandulosa of Michaux; also Poly-
premum procumbens, Diodia virginica, Verbena nodiflora,
Lin. Eclipta erecta, Mich. Poa stricta, Panicum capil-
laceum, Poa reptans as usual in vast profusion, and Cap-
raria multifida. The trees and shrubs are chiefly the
Pecan, (Carya olivceformis) C. aquatica; the black walnut, (Juglans nigra), but very rare; Fraxinus quadran-
gulata, Liquidamber and Platanus, but rarely large or full
74 See post, note 133.— Ed.
78 Fort Smith.    See chapter viii.— Ed. ri
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 13
grown; also Celtis integrifolia; the swamp oak (Quercus
aquatica), nearly sempervirent, the red oak (Q. rubra),
the scarlet oak (Q. coccinea), Spanish oak (Q. falcata)',
Populus angulisans, the cotton wood, of greater magnitude than any other tree in this country, with the wood
yellowish, like that of the Tulip tree, answering the purpose of fence rails, and being tolerably durable. The
smaller white poplar (P. monilifera), never so large as the
preceding, commonly growing in groves like the willows,
and presenting a bark which is white and even. Different kinds of honey locust, as the common species Gledits-
cia triacanthos, the one-seeded G. monosperma, and the
short podded G. brachyloba. There is no sugar-maple,
as I understand, nearer than the upper parts of the St.
Francis and White river.
[71] The alluvial soil is here sandy and light; by no
means luxuriant, except on the very margin of the river.
We no where see such enormous trees as those which
so frequently occur along the banks of the Ohio; this,
however, may in part be occasioned by the instability of
the soil, from whence they are occasionally swept at no
very distant intervals. The tuhp tree (Lyriodendron
tulipifera), which attains the acme of its perfection and
magnitude in Kentucky, is not met with on the banks of
the Arkansa.
In consequence of the many saline streams which fall
into this river, its waters are frequently found to be almost
22d.] The path, which I this morning pursued to the
Post, now town of Arkansas, passed through remarkably
contrasted situations and soil. After leaving the small
circumscribed and elevated portion of settled lands already noticed, and over which were scattered a number "^
1818-1820] Nuttall's Journal 105
of aboriginal mounds, I entered upon an oak swamp,
which, by the marks on the trees, appeared to be usually
inundated, in the course of the summer, four to six feet
by the back water of the river. The species are principally Quercus lyrata, Q. macrocarpa (the over-cup oak);
Q. phellos (the willow oak) ; Q. falcata (the Spanish oak) ;
and Q. palustris (the swamp oak) ; with some red and scarlet, as well as black and post oak on the knolls, or more
elevated parts. In this swamp, I also observed the Nyssa
aquatica, N. pubescens (Ogechee lime, the fruit being prepared as a conserve), as well as N. biflora, and Gleditscia
monosperma. After crossing this horrid morass, a delightful tract of high ground again occurs, over which the
floods had never yet prevailed ; here the fields of the French
settlers were already of a vivid green, and the birds were
singing from every bush, more particularly the red bird
(Loxia cardinalis), and the blue sparrow (Motacilla sialis).
The ground appeared perfectly whitened with [72] the
Alyssum bidentatum. The Viola bicolor, the Myosurus
minimus of Europe, (probably introduced by the French
settlers) and the Houstonia serpyllifolia of Michaux, (H.
patens of Mr. Elliott) with bright blue flowers, were also
already in bloom. After emerging out of the swamp, in
which I found it necessary to wade about ankle deep, a
prairie came in view, with scattering houses spreading
over a narrow and elevated tract for about three miles
parallel to the bend of the river.
On arriving, I waited on Monsieur Bougie,76 one of the
earliest settlers and principal inhabitants of the place, to
whom I was introduced by letter.   I soon found in him a
78 Probably Charles Bogy, as the name is given by later writers. He was a
native of Kaskaskia, Illinois, who came to Arkansas Post with the federal troops
which took possession in 1804.— Ed.
Ml '«ifî
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 13
gentleman, though disguised at this time in the garb of a
Canadian boatman. He treated me with great politeness
and respect, and, from the first interview, appeared to
take a generous and active interest in my favour. Monsieur B. was by birth a Canadian, and, though 70 years of
age, possessed almost the vigour and agility of youth.
This settlement owes much to his enterprise and
The town, or rather settlement of the Post of Arkansas,77
was somewhat dispersed over a prairie, nearly as elevated
as that of the Chicasaw Bluffs, and containing in all
between 30 and 40 houses. The merchants, then transacting nearly all the business of the Arkansa and White
river, were Messrs. Braham and Drope, Mr. Lewis, and
Monsieur Notrebe,78 who kept well-assorted stores of
merchandize, supplied chiefly from New Orleans, with
the exception of some heavy articles of domestic manufacture obtained from Pittsburgh. Mr. Drope, to whom I
was also introduced by letter, received me with politeness,
and I could not but now for awhile consider myself as once
more introduced into the circle of civilization.
The improvement and settlement of this place proceeded slowly, owing, in some measure, as I am informed,
to the uncertain titles of the neighbouring [73] lands.
Several enormous Spanish grants remained still undecided; that of Messrs. Winters, of Natchez, called for no
77 For a brief history of Arkansas Post, see Cuming's Tour, volume iv of our
series, note 195.— Ed.
78 Of these merchants, Lewis may be the Eli I. Lewis who was clerk of
Arkansas County from 1821-39. Local histories mention none of the others
save the Frenchman, Frederick Noteribe. He took part in the French Revolution and;was an army officer during the consulate, but left France when
Napoleon became emperor. Coming to Arkansas about 1815 or 1818, he became a wealthy planter, being considered in the forties the most prominent man
in the county.    He died of choleTa in 1849, at New Orleans.— Ed.
i	 lï
70 The loose system pursued by the Spanish in making land grants caused
much trouble after jurisdiction passed to the United States. In 1804 President
Jefferson appointed commissioners to examine land titles in the newly-acquired
territory, and considerable legislation resulted. Most of these large grants were
finally invalidated (1847-48), on the ground of indefmiteness; among them, the
Winter grant referred to in the text. This grant was made (1797) to Elisha,
William, and Gabriel Winter, William Russell, and Joseph Stillwell. Other
large grants in the same region were made to Captain Don Joseph Vallière, on
White River (1793); Don Carlos de Villemont, commandant of the post (1795);
and Baron de Bastrop (1799).— Ed.
1818-1820] Nuttall's Journal 107
less than one million of acres, but the congress of the
United States, inclined to put in force a kind of agrarian
law against such monopolizers, had laid them, as I was
told, under the stipulation of settling upon this immense
tract a certain number of families.79
The cotton produced in this neighbourhood, of a quality
no way inferior to that of Red river, obtained this year
from six to six and a half dollars per cwt. in the seed,
and there were now two gins established for its preparation, though, like every thing else, in this infant settlement of the poor and improvident, but little attention
beyond that of absolute necessity, was as yet paid to any
branch of agriculture. Nature has here done so much,
and man so little, that we are yet totally unable to appreciate the value and resources of the soil. Amongst other
kinds of grain, rice has been tried on a small scale, and
found to answer every expectation. The price of this
grain, brought from New Orleans, was no less than 25 to
37^ cents per lb. by retail. Under the influence of a climate mild as the south of Europe, and a soil equal to that
of Kentucky, wealth will ere long flow, no doubt, to the
banks of the Arkansa.
I again made application to the land speculators, trying
to prevail upon them on any terms, to take up my baggage,
as far as the Cadron, which would have enabled me imme- i
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 13
diately to proceed on my journey, across the great prairie,
but they remained inexorable.
23d.] To-day, I returned to Madame Gordon's, which,
though only six miles distant by land, is not less than 15
by water. I was now obliged more deeply to wade
through the enswamped forests, which surround the
habitable prairie lands, in consequence of the late rain.
In these ponds, I am told, the Proteus [74] or Syren is occasionally met with. There are also alligators, though
by no means numerous.
24th.] This morning I again proceeded up the river
with my flat boat, by the assistance of two French boatmen, full of talk, and, at first, but indifferently inclined
to work; we succeeded, however, by night, to get to the
third of the five sand-bars or bends, which intervene between this place and the village of Arkansas. The following day in the evening, after a good deal of hard labour and
wading, on my part, and that of the negro in my employ,
we arrived at Monsieur Bougie's, and the next day I
parted with a sort of regret from the boat, which, with all
its difficulties, had afforded me, through the most inclement season of the year, no inconsiderable degree of comfort and convenience.
On the 26th, I proceeded with my baggage and property
to the village in Monsieur Bougie's perogue, accompanied by one boatman. Near to the town, we grounded
on the inner side of a recent, and still augmenting bar,
and, after falling a little back, we crossed over, but here
the current would not permit us to advance with the oars.
The shore was high, and the water too deep for poles, so
that we had again to attempt the side we had left; here,
in drifting with velocity again on the bar, our fickle boat or
canoe was so near overturning, notwithstanding our exer- Ë
1818-1820] Nuttall's Journal 109
tions, that, for a moment I considered every thing as lost;
getting out, however, into the water, we with some difficulty
set the perogue afloat, and for safety dragged her along,
up to our waists in water. The sand was here so moveable, as to bury our feet at every step. We at length succeeded, and came to shore, under a bank 100 feet high,
without any kind of practicable landing for merchandise,
that of last year being now choked up with moving sand.
In the meanest garb of a working boat-man, and [75]
unattended by a single slave, I was no doubt considered,
as I had probably been by the land speculators, one of
the canaille, and I neither claimed nor expected attention;
my thoughts centered upon other objects, and all pride of
appearance I willingly sacrificed to promote with frugality
and industry the objects of my mission.
An insignificant village, containing three stores, destitute even of a hatter, a shoe-maker, and a taylor, and containing about 20 houses, after an existence of near a century, scarcely deserved geographical notice, and will never
probably flatter the industry of the French emigrants,
whose habits, at least those of the Canadians, are generally opposed to improvement and regular industry. During my stay, I took up my residence with Dr. M'Kay,
and found in him an intelligent and agreeable companion;
but such is the nationality of these ignorant people, that
French quackery has hitherto been preferred to the advice of a regular physician. Blanket capeaus, mocassins,
and overalls of the same materials, are here, as in Canada,
the prevailing dress; and men and women commonly wear
a handkerchief on the head in place of hats and bonnets.
28th.] This morning I accompanied the doctor to shoot
wild geese, as they passed to a neighbouring lake, about
two miles in the rear of the town.    Here a vast prairie I IO
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 13
opens to view, like a shorn desert, but well covered with
grass and herbaceous plants. Over this vast plain,
which proceeds a little to the west of north, computed
to be not less than 30 leagues in length, by 10 to 15 in
breadth, passes the road- to the Cadron, and the settlements of Red river.
Among other plants already in flower in these natural
meadows, we saw abundance of a new and fragrant species of Allium with greenish-white flowers, and destitute
of the characteristic odour of the genus in common with
A. fragrans, to which it is allied. [76] The Houstonia
serpylUfolia and Claytonia caroliniana were also in full
bloom at this early season.
February 3^.] This afternoon I walked to Mr. Mose-
ly's, six miles distant by land, and 15 by water. The
prairie, in consequence of the late rains, appeared almost
one continued sheet of water. I observed springing up,
the Eryngium aquaticum, occasionally employed as a medicine by the inhabitants, acting as a diuretic, and in larger
doses proving almost emetic. Crossing the prairie, which
is bordered with settlements, we entered the alluvial forest, containing oak, hickory, box, elder (Acer negundo),
elm, &c. nearer the river cotton-wood appears as usual.
I saw here a prickly-ash (Zanthoxylion Clava Her cutis),
the size of an ordinary ash, but the same species as that
of the southern states, and the bark proving equally efficacious for allaying the tooth-ache.
The first attempt at settlement on the banks of the
Arkansa, was begun a few miles below the bayou which
communicates with White river. An extraordinary inundation occasioned the removal of the garrison to the borders
of the lagoon near madame Gordon's, and, again dis- n*
1818-1820] Nuttall's Journal 111
turbed by an overflow, they at length chose the present
site of Arkansas. The first band of hunters who attempted
to reside here, were, it is said, obliged to remove, in consequence of the swarms of rats, with which they found the
country infested. These animals, which are native, differ
specifically from the European species, are much larger,
and commit the most serious depredations.80
[77] The poverty of the land in the immediate vicinity
of this place, will probably operate as a perpetual barrier
to its extension. The encroachments of the river upon the
precipitous and friable bank in front of the town, and
the enlargement of the ravines by which it is intersected,
renders the site altogether precarious, and prevents the
practicability of any thing like a convenient landing for
merchandise. During the period of high water, however,
the adjoining bayou, or channel of communication with
a neighbouring lake, affords this convenience.
The love of amusements, here, as in most of the French
colonies, is carried to extravagance, particularly gambling,
80 A much earlier settlement was made by Chevalier de Tonti, who, in 1685,
proceeding from the fort of the Illinois, recently established, down to the mouth
of the Mississippi, in order to second the unfortunate La Salle, and not finding
him, ascended the river in order to return to his post. In his way he entered
the Arkansa, and proceeded up to the village of that nation, with whom he
made an alliance, and left 10 of his people, at their earnest request, to settle
among them. This small party, occasionally augmented by the Canadians who
descended the river, keeping on peaceable terms with the natives, and intermarrying amongst them, continually maintained their ground, though rather
by adopting the manners of the Indians, and becoming hunters, than by any
regular industry or attention to the arts and conveniences of civilized life.
Families of this mixed race are now scattered along the banks of the Arkansa,
to the extremity of the present Quapaw reservation.
Had the unfortunate grant of Mr. Law been carried into effect, which proposed to settle at, and round the present village of Arkansas, 9000 Germans
from the Palatinate, we should now probably have witnessed an extensive and
flourishing colony, in place of a wilderness, still struggling with all the privations
of savage life.— Nuttall.
I 12
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 13
and dancing parties or balls. But the sum of general
industry is, as yet, totally insufficient for the support of
any thing like a town.
The houses, commonly surrounded with open galleries,
destitute of glass windows, and perforated with numerous
doors, are well enough suited for a summer shelter, but
totally destitute of comfort in the'winter. Without mechanics, domestic conveniences and articles of dress were
badly supplied at the most expensive rate. Provision
produced in the country, such as beef and pork, did not
exceed six cents per pound; but potatoes, onions, apples,
flour, spirits, wine, and almost every other necessary
article of diet, were imported at an enormous price, into
a country which ought to possess every article of the kind
for exportation to New Orleans. Such is the evil which
may always be anticipated by forcing a town, like a garrison, into being, previous to the existence of necessary
[78] supplies. With a little industry, surely every person
in possession of slaves might have, at least, a kitchen
garden! but these Canadian descendants, so long nurtured amidst savages, have become strangers to civilized
comforts and regular industry. They must, however, in
time give, way to the introduction of more enterprising
The enormous claim of Messrs. Winters, containing
about a million of acres of this territory, and which will
yet probably for some time remain undetermined, proves
a considerable bar to the progress of the settlement. Besides a great portion of the neighbouring prairie, it embraces much of the finest land on the northern border of
the river, and continues for near one hundred miles along
its bank.
The great prairie of which wè have already spoken,
— ""•«r*
1818-T820] Nuttall's Journal 113
said to be 90 miles in length, contains an invaluable body
of land, and, where sufficiently drained, which is pretty
generally the case, except during the rains of winter,
would produce most species of grain in abundance. As
a pasture it is truly inexhaustible, though in the hottest
months of summer occasionally deprived of water.
The cattle throughout this country are generally left to
provide for themselves, and suffered to range at large, excepting such as are in domestic use. That they may not
become entirely irreclaimable, they are now and then enticed to come up to the fold by a handful of salt, or a few
ears of corn. No hay is provided for fodder, nor does it
indeed appear necessary, except to assist in fattening for
the stall, but this piece of economy, like almost every
thing else which might promise comfort, is neglected,
and the cattle are killed just as they are hunted up from
the prairie or the cane-brake. It is from the prevalence
of the cane, and the shave-rush (Equisetum hiemale),
that the cattle are kept in tolerable condition, and often
even fat, through the severest part of the winter. Indeed,
at [79] this early, but perhaps uncommonly advanced
season of the year (not yet the middle of February),
there was already a few inches of green herbage, and
only one night during this month have I seen any ice.
The thermometer, towards noon, rises to 700, and the
peach and plum-trees, almost equally naturalized, have
nearly finished blooming. The fig, however, unprotected
by the shelter of a wall, thougm sufficiently vigorous, appears every year to die down nearly to the ground.
Grapes succeed so as to promise wine, but without the
advantage of cellars it soon becomes subjected to the
acetous fermentation.
The sweet gum tree (Liquidambar styraciflua), which ii4
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 13
Wm $
produces no resin in the northern states, where it is equally
indigenous, here, as in Mexico and the Levant, exudes the
odoriferous Storax of the shops.
As to the breed of domestic animals, no selection of
those commonly raised has yet been attended to, nor any
foreign ones introduced from parallel climates, so as to
afford us any idea of the resources and conveniences
which might here be brought into existence. The horned
cattle increase and fatten without any labour or attention,
more than the trouble of occasionally ascertaining their
existence in the wilderness through which they are at
liberty to roam without limit. It is in consequence of this
unrestrained liberty, and the advantage of a perpetual
supply of food, that the horse has become already naturalized in the southern parts of this territory, and the adjoining province of Spain. By this means, however, the
domestic breed has been, in some respects considerably
deteriorated; the horses of this country are rather small,
though very hardy, and capable of subsisting entirely
upon cane or grass, even when subjected to the hardest
labour. They were commonly sold from 30 to 50 and 100
dollars a piece, though paid for in the depreciated currency of the country, bearing a discount of from 10 to 20
per cent.
[80] The singular temperature and general mildness of
this climate, which may be presumed from a cursory inspection of its flora and agriculture, and then again the
occurrence of considerable frosts in the winter, are circumstances which justly excite astonishment when we survey
the same parallels of latitude in the transatlantic regions.
Here, in the latitude of the Cape of Good Hope, in that of
Sidon, and even south of Candia and Cyprus, with its
groves of myrtle, near to the latitude of Madeira, and in i8r8-i82o]
Nuttall's Journal
that of the empire of Morocco, we find the fig annually levelled to the ground by frosts. Not even the low palmetto
(Sabal minor) indigenous, consequently no prospect of
naturalizing the date, so common in the same parallels of
Africa; no olive, nor any well-grounded prospect of its
success; wines, for which Madeira has so long been celebrated (at least any of superior quality), appear also proscribed from this part of America. No evergreens of any
description, except the holly, appear throughout the dreary
forests. The north-western winds, sweeping over the
arctic deserts of eternal winter, have extended the temperature of northern Europe over all the regions of the United
States, nearly to the very limits of the tropic. The climate of Arkansas, scarcely elevated more than 5 or 600
feet above the level of the sea, is not more ardent and less
temperate than that of the south of France.
For several miles in and round the town, the accumulation of low mounds or Indian graves, scattered with
those fragments of pots, which were either interred or
left on the graves with offers of food, by the affectionate
friends of the deceased, mark the ancient residence of the
natives. In one of the tumuli, on the bank towards the
bayou, intersected by the failing away of the earth, a pot
of this kind, still employed by the Chicasaws and other
natives for boiling their victuals, had fallen out of the
grave, and did not appear [81] to be of very ancient interment. Whether these monuments had been the slow
accumulation of natural and casual mortality, or the sad
remains of some overwhelming destruction, was now impossible to determine. From the ashes of fires, and fragments of charcoal, besides the accompaniment of many
indestructible weapons, utensils, and pots broken into Hs-if!
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 13
fragments by force, I suspect that these mounds are merely
incidental, arising from the demolition of the circular
dwelling in which the deceased had been interred, a custom which was formerly practised by the Natchez, Cherokees, and other of the natives. Indeed, the sacrifices
and offerings which the Indians formerly made to
the manes of the deceased father, were sometimes almost
ruinous to his family, though no longer blackened by the
immolation of human victims. Father Charlevoix81 relates, that stopping, as he descended the Mississippi, at a
village of Ouyapes (or Wyapes), the same with the Qua-
paws (or, as they call themselves, O-guah-pas), then living
near the confluence of White river with the Mississippi,
he found them in great distress from the ravages of the
small-pox. Their burying-place appeared "like a forest
of poles and posts newly set up, and on which there hung
all manner of things: there is every thing which the savages
use." The men and women both continued lamenting
throughout the night, and repeating without ceasing,
"Nihahani, as the Illinois do, and in the same tone."
A mother weeping over the grave of her son, poured upon
it a great quantity of Sagamitty (or hominy). Another
kindled a fire near one of the tombs,82 probably for the
purpose of sacrificing food, as I have seen practised by
the Pawnee-Rikasrees88 of the Missouri.
The aborigines of this territory, now commonly called
Arkansas or Quapaws and Osarks, do not at this time
81 Pierre-François-Xavier de Charlevoix (1682-1761) was admitted to the
Jesuit order in 1698. In 1720 he went to Canada, ascended the St. Lawrence,
crossed Illinois, and descended the Mississippi. Passing by the Gulf to St.
Domingo, he returned to France in December, 1722, and as a result of his tour
wrote an authoritative history of New France.— Ed.
" Charlevoix's Historical Journal, p. 307, London Edition.— Nuttall.
88 The Arikara.    See Bradbury's Travels, our volume v, note 76.— Ed. 1818-1820]
Nuttall's Journal
number more than about 200 warriors.84 They [82] were
first discovered about the year 1685, by Chevalier de
Tonti.85   From what source Father Charlevoix ascertains
84 The Quapaw belong to the Siouan family; the Omaha, Ponca, Osage, and
Kansa being their nearest kindred. In prehistoric time, the Siouan stock
dwelt east of the Mississippi. The five tribes mentioned constituted one nation,
which dwelt near the Ohio River; the Illinois called them Arkansa. When, in
the course of their migration westward, the Siouan tribes separated at the
mouth of the Ohio, those who turned down the Mississippi became known as
the Quapaw, -meaning "the down-stream people." The rest, who went up
the river, received the name Omaha, "those going against the current." See
Dorsey, "Migrations of Siouan Tribes," in The American Naturalist, xx, p. 211.
Notwithstanding Nuttall's account, the Quapaw are doubtless the same
Indians whom De Soto encountered in this region. It is surprising that our
author does not think of identifying them with the ' ' Capaha" of La Vega. He
may have been misled by the name ' ' Pacaha," which he takes (see Appendix)
from the "Gentleman of Elvas" and Biedma (see post, note 87). The seat of
the Quapaw in De Soto's time is variously placed, by modern students, on the
Red, White, St. Francis, and Mississippi rivers; but it is agreed that, roughly
speaking, their territory was the lower Arkansas valley. In the early days of
French exploration, they were still partly east of the Mississippi.
The Quapaw lands were purchased by treaties in 1818 and 1824 (see post,
note 102), and the tribe was removed during the winter of 1825-26 to a reservation in the extreme northeast corner of Indian Territory. At that time it numbered 158 men, 123 women, and 174 children; the present population is about
275, and the tribe is practically civilized.— Ed.
85 Henri de Tonty (Italian form, Tonti) was the son of an Italian refugee at
Paris. The father was the originator of the form of life insurance known from
the inventor as tontine. In 1678 Henri sailed from Rochelle with La Salle, and
with him (1682) descended the Mississippi. After this expedition, Tonty returned to the Illinois and was there engaged in the fur-trade until 1702. In
1686, hearing of La Salle's ill-fated attempt to found a colony on the Texas
coast, he sought in vain to find him with a relief party. (See Cuming's Tour,
volume iv of our series, note 195.) In 1702 he joined D'Iberville in lower
Louisiana, and his subsequent career is unknown. Tonty having lost a hand
by the explosion of a grenade in the Sicilian wars, wore in place of the lost member a metal hand covered with a glove, which on several occasions he used to
good purpose on disorderly Indians, gaining their regard as great "medicine."
Nuttall is in error in assigning the first visit of Tonty to the Quapaw to the
year 1685. La Salle and his followers ascended the Arkansas in March, 1682,
and in the open space in the midst of the Quapaw village raised a cross bearing
the arms of France, taking formal possession of the country in the name of their
king. The official report of this occurrence was dated March 13-14, 1682.
See document in Margry, Découvertes et Établissements des Français (Paris,
btH ■rnii
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 13
that they were very numerous in the time of Ferdinand
de Soto, I am unable to learn. In the abridged relation
of this expedition by Purchas,881 cannot possibly discover
any thing relating to them. The people of Quigaute
must have occupied a country not far from the Arkansa,
and are said by La Vega87 to have been numerous and
powerful, but that they were the same people as the Arkansas or O-guah-pas, seems by no means probable.
From their own tradition it does not appear that they
were visited by the whites previous to the arrival of La
Salle; they say, that many years had elapsed before they
had any interview with the whites, whom they had only
heard of from their neighbours.
In a council held with the Quapaws some years ago, con-
1877), ii, p. 181. For a secondary account, see Parkman, La Salle (Boston,
1892), index. In 1686, as Tonty ascended the Mississippi after his vain search
for La Salle, he visited the Arkansas village and left six men to hold a post.
Nuttall seems to have confused the two visits.— Ed.
86 Samuel Purchas, born in Essex about 1575, attempted to continue the
work of Hakluyt, and collected numerous MSS. in addition to those left to him
by the latter. Several editions of Ilakluytus Posthumus; or Purchas, his pil-
grimes, were published in London, the best being that of 1626. The abstracts
of the journals printed are imperfect, for Purchas in his editorial work was
neither accurate nor judicious. Most of the material is now accessible in better
editions; but Purchas's collection still has value for the student, because it contains some accounts not recorded elsewhere. Volumes iii and iv' deal with
America; the account of De Soto's explorations is in volume iv.— Ed.
87 Garcilaso Inca de la Vega, born at Cuzco about 1540, was the son of a
member of an illustrious Spanish family and on his mother's side was of the
Peruvian blood royal. His history of Peru is the chief original ancient authority,
and includes a narrative of De Soto's explorations, based, it is said, on the account
given him by a soldier who took part in the expedition. It is one of the three
important sources of our information regarding De Soto's wanderings. The
others are, the narrative by the ' ' Gentleman of Elvas," who was a Portuguese
adventurer in De Soto's company, and that of Biedma, a Spanish factor on the
expedition. For a critical discussion of the value of these sources, see Hakluyt
Society Publications, ix, introduction; this volume contains Hakluyf s translation of the account of the "Gentleman of Elvas" (London, 1851).— Ed. 1818-1820] Nuttall's Journal 119
cerning the boundaries of the lands which they claimed,
a very old chieftain related to the agent, that at a very remote period his nation had descended the Mississippi,
and after having proceeded in one body to the entrance of
a large and muddy river (the Missouri), they had there
divided, one party continuing down the Mississippi, and
the other up the miry river. The descending band were
checked in their progress by the Kaskaskias,88 whose opposition they at length subdued. In their further descent
they were harassed by the Chicasaws and Choctaws, and
waged war with them for some considerable time, but, at
length, overcoming all opposition, they obtained the banks
of the Arkansa, where they have remained ever since.
Some of them, reverting apparently to the period of creation, say, that they originally emerged out of the water,
but made many long and circuitous journeys upon that
element, previous to their arrival on the banks of this river.
As their language scarcely differs from that of the
Osages, Kanzas, Mahas, and Ponças of the Missouri, it
is presumable that these sprung from the band [83] which
ascended the Missouri. They say, they remained separated from a knowledge of each other for many years,
until mutually discovered on a hunting party, taking each
other at first for enemies, till assured to the contrary by
both uttering the same language.
They bear an unexceptionally mild character, both
amongst the French and Americans, having always abstained, as they say, from offering any injury to the whites.
Indeed, to do them justice, and to prove that this opinion
concerning them is no modern prejudice, I cannot do less
88 On the Kaskaskia Indians, see André Michaux's Travels, in our volume iii,
note 132.— Ed. I20
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 13
ifv II
if;. 11
than quote the testimony of Du Pratz,89 made about a century ago. Speaking of the Arkansa territory, he adds,
' 'I am so prepossessed in favour of this country, that I
persuade myself the beauty of the climate has a great
influence on the character of the inhabitants, who are at
the same time very gentle, and very brave. They have
ever had an inviolable friendship for the French, uninfluenced thereto, either by fear or views of interest; and
live with them as brethren, rather than as neighbours."90
They say, that in consequence of their mildness and love
of peace, they have been overlooked by the Americans;
that they are ready enough to conciliate by presents those
who are in danger of becoming their enemies, but neglect
those who are their unchangeable friends.
The complexion of the Quapaws, like that of the Choctaws and Creeks, is dark, and destitute of any thing like
the cupreous tinge. The symmetry of their features,
mostly aquiline, often amounts to beauty, but they are not
to be compared in this respect to the Osages, at least those
of them which now remain. Charlevoix says, "The
Akansas (as he calls them) are reckoned to be the tallest
and best shaped of all the savages of this continent, and
they are called, by way of distinction, the fine men." I
question, however, whether this epithet is not similar to
88 Le Page Du Pratz went to Louisiana in 1718 with a colony of eight hundred
men sent out by John Law's West India Company. He was a planter there for
sixteen years, and travelled extensively through the territory, being overseer of
the public plantations under the Company, also after the crown resumed control.
The French original of his History of Louisiana appeared in 1758, being Englished and published in London in 1763; second edition 1764.— Ed.
80 Du Pratz, History of Louisiana, p. 61.— Nuttall.
Comment by Ed. Father Zénobe Membre, a Recollect friar in La Salle's
Company, reported to his superior: "I cannot tell you the civility and kindness
we received from these barbarians. . . They are so well formed that we
were in admiration at their beauty."    See Parkman, La Salle, p. 279. i8i8-i82o] Nuttall's Journal 121
that of the [84] Illinois, and the Llenilenape, or ' 'original
and genuine men," as it is translated, of the Delawares.91
The name of Akansa or Arkansa, if ever generally assumed by the natives of this territory, is now, I am persuaded, scarcely ever employed; they generally call themselves O-guah-pa or Osark, from which last epithet, in
all probability, has been derived the name of the river
and its people; indeed, I have heard old French residents
in this country, term it Riviere des Arks or d'Osark.
They employ artificial means to eradicate that pubescence from their bodies, which is, indeed, naturally scanty.
The angle of the eye is usually elongated, but never turned
up exteriorly, as it is said, in common with the Tartars,
by Humboldt, to be the case with the Mexicans.
Although they may be said to be taciturn, compared with
Frenchmen, their passions are not difficult to excite.
As hunters, they are industrious, but pay little attention to agriculture; and pleased by intercourse with the
whites, they are not unwilling to engage as boatmen and
About a century ago, father Charlevoix describes the,
Arkansas as occupying four villages; that which he visited
was situated on the bank of the Mississippi, in a little
meadow, which was (in 1819) M'Lane's landing, the only
contiguous spot free from inundation. The people called
Akansas by this author, were then made up of the confederated remnants of ruined tribes.   The villages which he
— m
81 Various interpretations of the meaning of Lenno Lenapt have been given.
Lenno means genuine or real, and Lenapi signifies male. The combination
denoted a race of eminent antiquity, valor, and wisdom, and may best, perhaps,
be rendered in English as "manly men." The character thus boastfully ascribed to themselves by the Delawares was apparently confirmed by the name
"grandfather" applied to them by kindred tribes. Illini is the Illinese equivalent of Lenno. See Schoolcraft, History, Condition and Prospects of the Indian
Tribes (Philadelphia, 1851-57), v, p. 1360; vi, p. 177.— Ed. m-rt
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 13
visited, called themselves Ouyapes, evidently the O-guah-
pa. On the Arkansa, six miles from the landing, there
was a second village, consisting of the Torimas and Topin-
gas. Six miles higher were the Sothouis, and a little
further was the village of the Kappas;92 these are again
the same people as the Quapaws or O-guah-pas.
[85] In the time of Du Pratz, the Arkansas had all retired up the river of this name, and were living about
twelve miles from the entrance of White river. They
were still said to be pretty considerable in numbers, and
had been joined by the Kappas, the Michigamias,93 and
a part of the Illinois. He likewise remarks, that they
were no less distinguished as warriors than hunters, and
that they had succeeded in intimidating the restless and
warlike Chicasaws.94 Indeed, the valour and the friendship of the Arkansas is still gratefully remembered by the
Canadians and their descendants, and it is much to be regretted that they are making such evident approaches
towards total destruction. The brave manner in which
they opposed the Chicasaws, has long ensured them the
quiet possession of their present country. Among the
most extraordinary actions which they performed against
those perfidious Indians, is the story which has been related to me by major Lewismore Vaugin,95 one of the
most respectable residents in this territory. The Chicasaws, instead of standing their ground, were retreating
before the Quapaws, whom they had descried at a distance,
m Charlevoix, Hist. p. 306, 307. Lond. Ed.— Nuttall.
93 Michigamies was the name given by the French to several tribes of Algon-
quian stock who lived on Lake Michigan. The designation sometimes included the Mascoutin, or Fire-Indians, and the Illinese.j&See Croghan's Journals, volume i of our series, note in.— Ed.
'* Du Pratz, Hist. Louisiana, p. 318.— Nuttall.
*' See post, note no.— Ed. 1818-1820]
Nuttall's Journal
in consequence of the want of ammunition. The latter
understanding the occasion, were determined to obviate
the excuse, whether real or pretended, and desired the
Chicasaws to land on an adjoining sand-beach of the
Mississippi, giving them the unexpected promise of
supplying them with powder for the contest. The chief
of the Quapaws then ordered all his men to empty their
powder-horns into a blanket, after which, he divided the
whole with a spoon, and gave the half to the Chicasaws.
They then proceeded to the combat, which terminated in
the killing of 10 Chicasaws, and the loss of five prisoners,
with the death of a single Quapaw.
I am informed, that it is a custom of the Quapaws, after
firing the first volley, to throw aside their guns, and make
a charge with their tomahawks.
[86] The treacherous Osages, to whom they are naturally allied by the ties of consanguinity, at one period
claimed the assistance of the Quapaws, with the secret
intention of betraying them to destruction. Arriving near
the scene of action, and discovering, as was said, the
encampment of the supposed enemy, the Osages parted
from their friends, under pretence of ambuscading the
enemy. Their conduct, however guarded, had not, it
seems, been sufficient to remove the suspicions of the wary
leader of the Quapaws, who now concerted measures of
security. The Quapaws made their fires as usual, but
secretly left them, in order to watch the motions of the
Osages, who, as it had been suspected, crept up to their
encampment in the dead of night, and fired a volley near
the fires, not doubting but they had destroyed those who
had seemingly confided in their friendship. But at this
instant, the Quapaws, sufficiently prepared, arose from
their concealment, and exercised a just chastisement on
the traitors. r' *r
I ii
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 13
The social regulations, as well as the superstitions and
ideas of the supernatural entertained by the Quapaws,
are no way materially distinct from those which are practised by their eastern and northern neighbours. The
most simple testimonies of attachment, without the aid
of solemn vows, are thought sufficient to complete a conjugal felicity, which, where all are equal, in wealth and
property, can only be instigated through the desire of
personal gratification or mutual attachment, and can but
seldom be attended with that coldness and disgust, which
is but too common, where this sacred tie is knit by avarice.
Neither is this contract controlled by any unnatural and
overruling policy. The obligation to decorum and the
essential ties of society are not abandoned by the Indian,
in consequence of his being freed from that perpetual restraint, which appears to have been requisite in civilized
society. The father can recall his daughter from [87]
the habitation of one who has rendered himself odious to
his child. The husband can abandon the wife who has
made herself obnoxious to his house and family. They
are only united by the bonds of mutual esteem and reciprocal friendship; they will, of course, endeavour to deserve
it of each other, as affording a gratification to themselves,
no less than to their parents and relatives.
As the marriage is never ostentatious, or strictly ceremonious, so its disavowal, when not induced by any thing
flagrant, is not a matter to alarm the repose of society.
The male children go with the father, the females attend
upon the mother. Children, however begotten, are dear
to a society ever on the brink of extermination.
That any ceremonies, more than the celebration of a
frugal and sober feast, are constantly practised by any of
the natives of this country, is much more than can be satis-
L 1818-1820]
Nuttall's Journal
factorily proved. Among the Quapaws, I have been informed, that the husband, on the consummation of his
marriage, presents his wife with the leg of a deer, and she,
in return, offers him an ear of maize, both of which are so
many symbols of that provision against the calls of necessity, which they are mutually accustomed to provide.98
The young and unmarried women of the Quapaws,
according to a custom equally prevalent among many
other tribes of Indians, wear their hair braided up into
two parts, brought round to either ear in a cylindric form,
and decorated with beads, wampum, or silver. After
marriage these locks are all unfolded, the decorations laid
aside for her daughters, and her hair, brought together
behind in a single lock, becomes no longer an assiduous
object of ornament. According to the History of the
Costume of all Nations, this manner of braiding the hair
appears to have been equally prevalent among the women
of [88] Siberia, Tartary, Turkey, and China. As an expression of the greatest grief and misfortune, anciently
practised by many other nations of the world, I have,
amongst the aborigines of the Missouri, not unfrequently
seen both men and women shave away their hair. It is
not, however, I believe, practised by the Indians of the
Mississippi, nor among the Quapaws and Osages.
The ideas of supernatural agency, entertained by the
Arkansas, are very similar to those which prevail among
the natives of the Missouri. Every family, for example,
chooses its pénates, or guardian spirit, from among those
various objects of creation which are remarkable for their
sagacity, their utility, or power. Some will perhaps choose
a snake, a buffaloe, an owl, or a raven; and many of them
88 A ceremony similar to this, was also, according to Adair, practised among
the Creeks.— Nuttall.
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 13
venerate the eagle to that degree, that if one of those birds
should happen to be killed during any expedition, the
whole party immediately return home. The large feathers
of the war-eagle, which they consider talismanic, are sometimes distributed throughout the nation, as sacred presents,
which are expected to act as sovereign charms to those who
wear them.
The cure of diseases, though sometimes attempted with
rational applications, is not unfrequently sought, among
the Quapaws, and many other natives of the continent,
in charms and jugglery.
As to the future state, in which they are firm believers,
their ideas are merely deduced from what they see around
them. Their heaven for hunters is at least as rational as
that of some of our own fanatics.
For some considerable time after the interment of a
warrior and hunter, his grave is frequented with provision,
which, if still remaining, after a reasonable lapse of time,
is considered as a sure presage that the deceased has arrived
at a bountiful hunting ground, and needs no further supply
from the earth.
The Quapaws, though no greater proficients in music
than the rest of the Indians, have, however, [89] songs
appropriated to love, to death, and to battle, but which are
merely so many simultaneous effusions of the heart, accompanied by rude and characteristic airs and dances.
It is hardly necessary to detail the dress of the Arkansas,
which scarcely, to my view, in any respect, differs from
that of the Delawares, Shawnees, or Chipeways. Its
component parts are, as usual, mocasins for the feet; leggings which cover the leg and thigh; a breech-cloth; an
overall or hunting shirt, seamed up, and slipped over the
head; all of which articles are made of leather, softly 1818-1820]
Nuttall's Journal
dressed by means of fat and oily substances, and often
rendered more durable by the smoke with which they are
purposely imbued. The ears and nose are adorned with
pendents, and the men, as among many other Indian tribes,
and after the manner of the Chinese, carefully cut away the
hair of the head, except a lock on the crown, which is
plaited and ornamented with rings, wampum, and
feathers. Many of them, in imitation of the Canadian
French, wear handkerchiefs around their heads, but in
the manner of a turban. Some have also acquired the
habit of wearing printed calicoe shirts next to the skin.
The younger Indians, as I am informed, notwithstanding
the neglect of renewing their dress, are so partial to cleanliness of the skin, that they practice bathing both winter and
Departure from Arkansas — Indian villages — Mooney's
settlement — Curran's settlement — Interview with the
Quapaw chief — The Pine Bluffs — Soil, climate, and
productions — The Little Rock — Roads — Mountains
— Vegetation — The Mamelle — Cadron settlement —
Tumuli — Soil and climate — Pecannerie settlement —
Mountains — Cherokees — The Magazine mountain —
Dardanelle settlement — Manners and customs of the
Cherokees — Their war with the Osages.
From Arkansas to the Cadron, a distance of about 300
miles by water, I now understood there existed a considerable line of settlements along the north border of the river,
and that the greatest uninhabited interval did not exceed
30 miles. Though the spring was premature, and the
weather still subject to uncomfortable vicissitudes, the
87 For an exhaustive account of the customs of the kindred Omaha, see
Dorsey, "Omaha Sociology," in Report of Bureau of Ethnology, 1881-82, iii,
pp. 205-370.— Ed. •vrrtt
m. M.
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 13
want of society and of employment induced me to embrace
the earliest opportunity of continuing my journey into the
interior of the territory, where I hoped to find additional
employment and gratification in my researches connected
with natural history. For this purpose I again embarked
on the river in a large skiff, which was proceeding to the
Baird's-town settlement;98 but as most of our company
were fond of whiskey, the only beverage in the country, except water or milk, it was difficult to get them parted
from their companions and conversation; however, after
many efforts to make a start, we at last got off, though
merely to make one or two miles, so as to be disengaged,
at any rate, for the morning. Our encampment was a
sand-bar or beach, skirted by willows, and though in itself
a situation by no means interesting, yet far from disagreeable [91] to him who can enjoy the simple fare of the
hunter, and the calm and unsullied pleasures of nature.
On the following day (February the 27th) we proceeded
about 21 miles, or seven points up the river, and in some
places against a current of considerable velocity, which
had been augmented by a southern freshet, communicating
a muddiness and chocolate-brown colour to the stream.
In the evening, to avoid the attacks of musquitoes, we
again chose a sand-beach for our place of encampment.
In the course of the day we passed the outlet of the
bayou, or rather river, Meta,99 which diagonally traverses
the Great Prairie, also two Indian villages on the south
bank, which continues to be the Quapaw line as far as the
88 Beards Town appears in Finley's Atlas of 1826 just west of Little Meto
Creek, thirty-five or forty miles above the Post, but it disappears from later
maps.    Beards Town was opposite the modern village of Heckatoo.— Ed.
•* Big Bayou Meto is the first important northern tributary of the Arkansas.
It now forms part of the boundary between Jefferson and Arkansas counties.
Little Bayou Meto is a few miles farther up.— Ed.
mtÊmmmmmmm !»
Nuttall's Journal
Little Rock. The first was the periodical residence of a
handful of Choctaws, the other was occupied by the
Quapaws. On this side of the river there appeared to be
considerable bodies of very fertile land elevated above
The peach-trees, now in bloom, were considerably disseminated beyond the immediate precincts of the Indian
villages, and seemed to be almost naturalized, but, in
common even with the wild fruits of the country, they are
occasionally robbed of fruit by the occurrence of unseasonable frosts.
On the 28th, after ascending about 13 miles, we arrived
at the settlement begun by colonel Mooney,100 consisting
of three or four families. I was here very hospitably entertained by Mr. Davison. Near this house, and about 200
yards from the river, there was a fine lake of clear water,
of considerable extent, communicating with the river by
a bayou, which enters a few miles below. Its bed
appeared to be firm and sandy. The neighbouring land
was of a superior quality, either for corn or cotton, but all
conditionally held on the uncertain claim of Messrs»
Winters. Notwithstanding the extent of inundated lands,
the climate was considered unusually healthy, and the
[92] soil, with but little labour, capable of insuring a comfortable independence to the cultivator.
March 1st.] This morning a slight white frost was
visible, though, yesterday and the day before, the thermometer rose, at noon, to 700, and the Red-bud (Cercis
canadensis) was commonly in flower. We proceeded
about 10 miles, and encamped opposite to an island; the
100 Daniel Mooney was one of the earliest settlers in Arkansas after the
cession to the United States. His name appears on the records of Arkansas
County as early as 1804. In 1814 he was appointed sheriff by William Clark,
then governor of Missouri Territory, of which Arkansas was still a part.— Er>. w
I 30
Early Western Travels
[Vol. r3
water now falling as rapidly as it had risen. Leaving the
boat, and walking through the woods, I was surprised to
find myself inadvertentiy at the Quapaw village we had
passed yesterday, situated upon a small prairie, constituting the isthmus of a tongue of land, which, six or seven
miles round, was here scarcely half a mile across. Endeavouring now to obtain a nearer route to the river,
than that of returning by the path, I found myself in a
horrid cane-brake, interlaced with brambles, through
which I had to make my way as it were by inches. The
delay I thus experienced created alarm among my companions, who fired three guns to direct me to the spot where
they waited, and where I soon arrived, pretty well tired of
my excursion.
2d.] A slight frost appeared again this morning. We
proceeded slowly, passing in the course of the day three
points of land, one of which was about six miles, the others
three each, and in the evening encamped a mile below
Morrison's bayou. Nearly opposite to this stream there
was another village of the Quapaws, containing about 15
cabins, and called, by the French, ville de Grand Barbe,
from their late chief, who, contrary to the Indian custom,
wore a long beard. It stands on the edge of the forest,
surrounded by good land, and elevated above the overflows.
3d.] To-day we arrived at Curran's settlement, consisting of six families, who had chosen for their residence a
body of very superior land. From 1000 to 1500 pounds of
cotton have been produced upon the acre, and of a staple
no way inferior to that of Red [93] river. As to maize, it
is as luxuriant as possible. But what most recommended
this settlement, in my estimation, was the unequivocal
appearance of health and plenty.   We landed for the 1818-1820]
Nuttall's Journal
night nearly opposite what is called the Old River, four
miles above Curran's, an elliptic curve of the river, n
miles in circuit, cut off at the isthmus in the course of a
single night, as was witnessed by a French trader encamped on the spot, who fled in terror from the scene of
devastation. On the borders of this bend, now become a
lake, and which explains the origin of similar bodies of
water along this river, there were three families now
4th.] The middle of the day, and early part of the afternoon, felt warm and sultry as summer. About noon I
arrived at the cabin of Mr. Joseph Kirkendale, four miles
above the cut-off in the river, where I tasted nearly the
first milk and butter which I had seen since my arrival
on the banks of the Arkansa. This farm, like those below
on Old River, was situated upon a small and insulated
prairie or open and elevated meadow, about 15 miles
from the Great Prairie. The drought which was experienced last summer throughout this territory, proved, in
many places, nearly fatal to the crops of corn and cotton,
so that the inhabitants were now under the necessity of
importing maize for provision, at the rate of one dollar
and a quarter per bushel.
At Mr. Kirkendale's I had an interview with the principal chief of the Quapaws, who landed here on his way
down the river. His name, to me unintelligible, was Ha-
kat-ton (or the dry man).101 He was not the hereditary
chief, but received his appointment as such, in consequence of the infancy of the children of the Grand Barbe.
101 The name of this chief is preserved in the village of Heckatoo. Heckatoo
(Heketon, in correspondence of Indian, agent) removed with his tribe to Indian
Territory and died there. His successor was a half-breed named Sarrasin, who
in his old age returned to his native country, and persuaded Governor William
F. Pope (1829-35) to allow him to die in his former home.— Ed. «Will
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 13
His appearance and deportment were agreeable and prepossessing, his features aquiline and symmetrical. Being
told that I had journeyed a great distance, almost from the
borders of the great lake of salt water, to see the country
of the Arkansa, [94] and observing the attention paid to
me by my hospitable friend, he, in his turn, showed me
every possible civility, returned to his canoe, put on his
uniform coat, and brought with him a roll of writing,
which he unfolded with great care, and gave it me to read.
This instrument was a treaty of the late cession and purchase of lands from the Quapaws, made the last autumn,
and accompanied by a survey of the specified country.
The lines of this claim, now conceded for the trifling sum
of 4000 dollars in hand, and an annuity of a thousand
dollars worth of goods, pass up White river, until a south
line intersects the Canadian river of Arkansa, then continuing along the course of this river to its sources, afterwards down Red river to the great Raft, and thence in a
north-east direction to point Chicot, on the Mississippi,
and so in a north-west line to the place of commencement,
near White river. Their reservation (situated exclusively
on the south bank of the Arkansa) commences at the post
or town of Arkansas, and continues up that river to the
Little Rock, thence in a southern direction to the Washita,
which continues to be the boundary, to a line intersecting the place of commencement. To this deed were added
the names of no less than 13 chiefs. This tract contains
probably more than 60,000 square miles. Such are the
negotiating conquests of the American republic, made
almost without the expense of either blood or treasure !102
m -phis treaty was signed by William Clark and Auguste Chouteau, commissioners for the United States, on August 24, 1818, and ratified by the Senate
December 23.   Nuttall does not give the boundaries quite correctly.    The i8i8-i82o]
Nuttall's Journal
Hakatton informed us, that he had lately returned
from the garrison, where, in concert with a fellow chief
and the commander, they had succeeded in rescuing from
bondage some unfortunate prisoners and females of the
Caddoes,108 of whom about 15 or 20 had been killed by
the Osages. The former reside on the banks of Red river,
into whose territory the Osages occasionally carry their
depredations. This chief warned me from trusting myself alone amongst the [95] Osages, who, if they spared
my life, would, in all probability, as they had often done
to the hunters, strip me naked, and leave me to perish for
want. But in his nation, he took a pride in assuring me,
if I was found destitute, I should be relieved to the best
of their ability, and conducted, if lost, to the shelter of
their habitations, where the stranger was always welcome.
His late journey to the seat of government, appeared to
have inspired him with exalted ideas of the wealth and
power of civilized society.
To my inquiries, respecting the reputed origin of the
O-guah-pas,104 he answered candidly, that he was igno-
cession line passed up the Arkansas and the Canadian Fork to the source,
thence south to Red River, and down its middle to the "Big Raft," thence
directly to a spot on the Mississippi thirty leagues in a straight line below the
mouth of the Arkansas. All claims to lands north of the Arkansas and east of
the Mississippi were also abandoned. The reservation, lying within the limits
specified, was bounded by a line running due southwest from Arkansas Post to
the Ouachita, thence up the river and the Saline Fork to a point directly southwest from Little Rock, from that point to Little Rock, and down the right bank
of the Arkansas to the point of beginning. See American State Papers: Indian
Affairs, ii, p. 165. This reservation was ceded by the treaty of November 15,
1824.— ED.
103 The name is a corruption of kd-ede, meaning chief. There are three
groups of the Caddo family; the northern is represented by the Arikara of
North Dakota; the middle, principally by the Pawnee of southern Nebraska;
and the southern, by the Caddo, Wichita, Kichai, and other tribes. The home
of the southern group included southwestern Arkansas, eastern Texas, and
most of Louisiana.— Ed.
104 Another name for the Quapaw.    See ante, p. 122.— Ed. 134
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 13
rant of the subject; and that the same question had been
put to him at St. Louis, by governor Clarke.105
This morning I observed the wife of the chief, preparing
for her family a breakfast from the nuts of the Cyamus
(or Nelumbium). They are first steeped in water, and
parched in sand, to extricate the kernels, which are afterwards mixed with fat, and made into a palatable soup.
The tubers of the root, somewhat resembling batatas or
sweet potatoes, when well boiled, are but little inferior
to a farinaceous potatoe, and are penetrated internally
and longitudinally, with from five to eight cavities or cells.
5th.] We were again visited by the Quapaw chief, who
appeared to be very sensible and intelligent, though much
too fond of whiskey. I took an opportunity to inquire of
him, whether the Quapaws considered smoking as in any
way connected with their religion, to which he answered,
that they merely regarded it as a private gratification or
luxury; but that the Osages smoked to God, or to the sun,
and accompanied it by a short apostrophe: as, "Great
Spirit, deign to smoke with me, as a friend ! fire and earth,
smoke with me, and assist me to destroy mine enemies,
the Caddoes, Pawnees, Mahas, &c. ! my dogs and horses,
smoke also with me !"
Among the most remarkable superstitious ceremonies
106 William Clark, the brother of George Rogers Clark, who conquered the
Northwest during the Revolutionary War, and the associate of Meriwether
Lewis on the famous transcontinental expedition of 1803-06, was born in Virginia in 1770. He entered the army in 1792, and shared in several Western
campaigns, notably that of Wayne in 1794-95. In 1796 he left the service on
account of ill health, and became a hunter and trapper. After the expedition
to the Pacific coast, Clark was stationed at St. Louis as Indian agent and
brigadier-general of militia. In 1813 he became governor of the Missouri
Territory, which at first included Arkansas. Upon the admission of Missouri
to statehood, he was appointed superintendent of Indian affairs, and remained
at St. Louis in this capacity until his death, in 1838.— Ed. i8i8-i82o]
Nuttall's Journal
[96] practised by the Quapaws, is that which I now found
corroborated by Hakatton. Before commencing the
corn-planting, a lean dog is selected by the squaws, as a
sacrifice to the Indian Ceres, and is, with terrific yells and
distorted features, devoured alive. This barbarous ceremony, which we derided, he assured us gravely, was conducive to the success of the ensuing crop. After the harvest of the maize, and subsequent to the Green-corn
Dance, they have also a succession of dances and feasts,
which they support like our Christmas mummers, by
going round and soliciting contributions.
The Quapaws are indeed slaves to superstition, and
many of them live in continual fear of the operations of
supernatural agencies.
On the 7th, we proceeded to Mr. Morrison's,106 a few
miles distant, but did not accomplish it until the succeeding morning, in consequence of the prevalence of a violent
storm from the south-west.
On the 8th, I remained at Mr. Morrison's farm, agreeably situated on a small prairie, contiguous to the river,
surrounded with an extensive body of good land, continuing a considerable distance from the bank. These small
prairies often appear to have been the sites of ancient
Indian stations.
A number of Quapaw canoes passed down the river,
and several drunken Indians, accompanied by Paspatoo,
108 Few settlers had entered this region prior to Nuttall's journey, and most
of these were thinly scattered along the river. Many of the English names
which Nuttall mentions on the following pages are those of men who had settled
on the river, in Jefferson County, during the year or two preceding his visit.
Morrison was on the south bank. The Dardennes, or Dardennis, and the
Masons, mentioned below, were on the north side.— Ed. rrr
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 13
their chief, now 75 years of age, were straggling about in
quest of whiskey, which if not prohibited, would, in all
probability, be less plentifully supplied.
The adjoining forest was already adorned with flowers,
like the month of May in the middle states. The woods,
which had been overrun by fire in autumn, were strewed
in almost exclusive profusion with the Ranunculus maril-
andicus, in full bloom, affording, with other herbage,
already an abundant pasture [97] for the cattle. Towards
evening, Mr. Drope, with his large and commodious trading boat of 25 tons burthen, passed this place on his way
to the garrison, with whom I was to embark on the following morning.
9th.] I walked about four miles to Mr. Dardennes',
where there were two families residing on the bank of the
river, which is agreeably elevated, and here I had the satisfaction of joining Mr. Drope. Lands of the same fertile quality as that on the border of the river, extend here
from it for eight miles without interruption, and free from
inundation. The claim of Winters' still continues up to
an island nearly opposite Mr. Lewismore's, but the survey of all this land, now ordered by Congress, seems to
imply the annihilation of this claim, which for the benefit of the settlement ought promptly to be decided.
Four miles above Dardennes', commences the first
gravel-bar, accompanied by very rapid water.
10th.] We now passed Mr. Mason's, 18 miles above
Dardennes', where likewise exists an extensive body of
rich and dry land, along the borders of Plum bayou.107
107 Plum Bayou, not shown on ordinary maps, flows southeast through the
centre of the north half of Jefferson County, roughly parallel to the river, which
it enters six miles above New Gascony. Most of its course is through the township of the same name. A village called Plum Bayou is near the northwest
corner of the county, four or five miles north of the source of the stream.— Ed. m
Nuttall's Journal
We encamped at the upper point of the sand-beach,
about three miles above Mason's, on the margin of a
small and elevated prairie, which, from the abundance of
Chicasaw plum bushes forming a grove, I fancied might
have been an ancient aboriginal station. The day was exceedingly wet, accompanied with thunder, which had continued with but little intermission since the preceding
nth.] Passed Mr. Embree's, and arrived at Mr. Lewis-
more's.108 Six miles above, we also saw two Indian villages, opposite each of those settlements. The land is
here generally elevated above the inundation, and of a
superior quality; the upper stratum a dark-coloured loam,
rich in vegetable matter.
The Indians, unfortunately, are here, as usual, both
poor and indolent, and alive to wants which they have
[98] not the power of gratifying. The younger ones are
extremely foppish in their dress; covered with feathers,
blazing calicoes, scarlet blankets, and silver pendents.
Their houses, sufficiently convenient with their habits,
are oblong square, and without any other furniture than
baskets and benches, spread with skins for the purpose
of rest and repose. The fire, as usual, is in the middle of
the hut, which is constructed of strips of bark and cane,
with doors also of the latter split and plaited together.
The forest was already decorated with the red-bud,
and a variety of humble flowers. A species of Vitis,109
called the June grape, from its ripening at that early
period, was also nearly in blossom.   It does not appear
108 Nuttall doubtless means Major Lewismore Vaugine, mentioned a few
lines below.— Ed.
108 The infertile plant cultivated in the vicinity of the city of London, has
received the name of Vitis odoratissi/ma, by the gardeners, an epithet which does
not express any peculiar character.— Nuttall.
: 1
mm i38
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[Vol. 13
to exist in any of the eastern states; in leaf it somewhat
resembles the vigne des batures (or Vitis riparia of Michaux), while the fruit, in the composition of its bunches,
and inferior size, resembles the winter grape.
We spent the evening with major Lewismore Vaugin,110
the son of a gentleman of noble descent, whose father
formerly held a considerable post under the Spanish government.
Fifteen miles above this place, Monsieur Vaugin informed me of the remains of an aboriginal station of considerable extent, resembling a triangular fort, which the
Quapaws on their first arrival in this country say, was inhabited by a people who were white, and partly civilized,
but whom, at length, they conquered by stratagem. The
hunters possess an opinion, by no means singular, that
this embankment is of antediluvian origin.
12th.] This morning we met captain Prior111 and Mr.
Richards, descending with cargoes of furs and peltries,
118 Although Vaugine was for several generations a prominent name in the
Southwest, and is still borne by the township in Jefferson County in which the
county town is located, it is difficult to distinguish the different individuals who
possessed it. It was borne by one of the French officers who remained in
Louisiana after its cession to Spain; and it was the name of another Frenchman
who emigrated to New Orleans late in the eighteenth century, removed later to
Arkansas Post, and finally settled, as farmer and trader, four miles below Pine
Bluff, where he died in 1831, aged sixty-three years. As the latter served
as major in the War of 1812-15, he is probably the Major Lewismore Vaugine
of the text; but his relationship to the first mentioned does not appear.
Other members of the family were prominent in Jefferson County as late as the
close of the War of Secession.— Ed.
111 Nathaniel Prior (sometimes spelled Pryor and Pryer) enlisted under
Lewis and Clark as a private, being later appointed sergeant. In 1807, then
an ensign, he was appointed to escort to his home the Mandan chief Shahaka
("Big White"), who had visited Washington at the request of the explorers.
Prior's party were fired upon by the Sioux, and compelled to return to St.
Louis; it was not until September, 1809, that Shahaka could be returned to
his people — this time escorted by an expedition under Pierre Chouteau. Prior
continued in the regular army until 1815, at which time he was a captain.— Ed. VI
Nuttall's Journal
collected among the Osages. The former [99] was one of
those who had accompanied Lewis and Clarke across the
continent. Six miles above Mr. Vaugin's, at Monsieur
Michael Le Boun's,112 commences the first appearance of
a hill, in ascending the Arkansa. It is called the Bluff,118
and appears to be a low ridge covered with pine, similar
to the Chicasaw cliffs, and affording in the broken bank
of the river the same parti-coloured clays. Mr. Drope
remained at the Bluff, trading the remainder of the day
with the two or three metif114 families settled here, who
are very little removed in their habits from the savages,
with whose language and manners they are quite farniliar.
In the evening, a ball or dance was struck up betwixt
them and the engagées. The pine land is here, as every
where else, poor and unfit for cultivation. Over this elevated ground were scattered a considerable number of
low mounds.
13th.] To-day I walked along the beach with Mr. D.,
and found the lands generally dry and elevated, covered
with cotton-wood (Popul/us angulisans), sycamore (Pla-
tanus occidentale), maple (Acer dasycarpa), elm (Uhnus
americana), and ash (Fraxinus sambucifolia and F. plati-
carpa). We observed several situations which appeared
to have been formerly occupied by the Indians.   A canoe
m According to local histories, the first permanent white settler at this point
was Joseph Bonne, a French trapper and hunter, who came about 1819.— Ed.
"• This bluff is the site of the town of Pine Bluff, seat of Jefferson County.
The town was laid out about 1837, and incorporated in 1848; but the county
was organized in 1829, the court being from the beginning held at the ' ' Bluff."
For ten years there served as court-house a house which Bonne built in 1825,
on the river bank between Chestnut and Walnut streets of the present town,
on land which has since caved into the river. When built, it was near'the
camp of the Quapaw chief Sarrasin (see ante, note 101).— Ed.
114 Metif, from French metif, meaning of mixed breed; specifically, the offspring of a white and a quadroon.— Ed.
HJHjjHiaHiiji W'FT
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[Vol. 13
of the Quapaws coming in sight, we prevailed on them to
land, and, during the interval of our boat's arriving, I
amused myself with learning some of their names for the
forest trees. While thus engaged, I observed, that many
of their sounds were dental and guttural, and that they
could not pronounce the th. In the evening we came to
a little above the second Pine Bluff.
14th.] We proceeded to Mons. Bartholome's,115 where
Mr. D. stayed about two hours. Mons. B. and the two
or three families who are his neighbours are entirely
hunters, or in fact Indians in habits, and pay no attention
to the cultivation of the soil. These, with two or three
families at the first Pine Bluffs, are the [100] remains of
the French hunters, whose stations have found a place in
the maps of the Arkansa, and they are in all probability
the descendants of those ten Frenchmen whom de Tonti
left with the Arkansas, on his way up the Mississippi in
the year 1685.118 From this place we meet with no more
settlements until our arrival at the Little Rock, 12 miles
below which, and about 70 from hence, by the meander-
118 Ambrose Bartholomew was one of the early settlers on the north bank
of the river.— Ed.
118 See ante, note 85; also Cuming's Tour, volume iv of our series, note 195.
The date of this visit of Tonty is not exactly known, but it was in the spring
of 1686. He left Illinois to seek La Salle in February, and left Texas for the
return journey on Easter Monday.    He was again in Illinois on June 24.
Other settlers at Pine Bluff besides Bonne were John Derresseaux and one
Prewett. The preponderance in this neighborhood of settlers of French blood
is indicated not only by the names of persons, but also by the fact that New
Gascony is the name of one of the oldest towns.
It is said that the first white man in Jefferson County was Leon Le Roy,
one of Tont/s men, who deserted from the Post in 1690. He was held
in captivity for fourteen years by the Osage, and when he escaped was captured
and adopted by the Quapaw, whom he taught the use of firearms. When the
Quapaw treaty of 1818 was made, one chief gave the commissioners, as an emblem of friendship, a gun said to be the one which Le Roy had a century earlier
taught the Quapaw to use. This weapon is preserved in the Smithsoniaa
Institution, at Washington.— Ed. IP*
Nuttall's Journal
ing course of the river, we again meet with a house. We
proceeded about eight miles from Bartholome's, and about
sun-set came in sight of another pine bluff of about 100
feet elevation, and a mile in length. On the right hand
bank the land appeared fertile and elevated. Near our
encampment there was a small lake communicating
with the river by a bayou. The horizontal beds of
clay in this cliff or precipice are precisely similar to those
of the Chicasaw Bluffs.
15th.] The land appeared still, for the most part, on
either bank, elevated above inundation. Some cypress117
'clumps, however, were observable on the Quapaw side.
On the opposite we saw a cluster of Hollies (Ilex opaca),
which were the first we had seen any way conspicuous
along the bank of the river. The forests every where
abound with wild turkeys, which at this season are beginning to be too poor for food. We came about 16 miles
above the last pine bluff, and were there detained the
remainder of the evening by the commencement of a strong
south-west wind, which in the night veered round to the
north-west. The land on the Indian side, contiguous to
the river, abounded with thickets of Chicasaw plum-trees,
which appear to have overgrown the sites of Indian huts
and fields, but, except in a few elevated places, the first
alluvial platform or terrace is subject to inundation.
The second bank, where the large cane commences, is,
however, free from water. The [101] right side of the
river appeared universally high, and rich cane land with
occasional thickets and openings.
Throughout this country there certainly exists extensive
bodies of fertile land, and favoured by a comparatively
healthy climate.    The cultivation of cotton, rice, maize,
117 Cupressus disticha.— Nuttall.
m 142
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[Vol. 13
wheat, tobacco, indigo, hemp, and wine, together with the
finest fruits of moderate climates, without the aid of artificial soils or manures, all sufficiently contiguous to a market, are important inducements to industry and enter-
prize. The peach of Persia is already naturalized
through the forests of Arkansa, and the spontaneous mulberry points out the convenience'of raising silk. Pasturage at all seasons of the year is so abundant, that some of
our domestic animals might become naturalized, as in
Paraguay and Mexico; indeed several wild horses were
seen and taken in these forests during the preceding year.
The territory watered by the Arkansa is scarcely less
fertile than Kentucky, and it owes its luxuriance to the
same source of alluvial deposition. Many places will
admit of a condensed population. The climate is no less
healthy, and at the same time favourable to productions
more valuable and saleable. The privations of an infant
settlement are already beginning to disappear, grist and
saw-mills, now commenced, only wait for support; and
the want of good roads is scarcely felt in a level country
meandered by rivers. Those who have large and growing families can always find lucrative employment in a
country which produces cotton. The wages of labourers
were from 12 to 15 dollars per month and boarding,
which could not then be considered as extravagant, while
cotton produced from five to six dollars per hundred
weight in the seed, and each acre from 1000 to 1500
16th.] At sunrise the thermometer was down to 280,
and the wind at north-west. This sudden transition,
after such a long continuance of mild weather, [102] felt
extremely disagreeable, and foreboded the destruction of
all the fruit in the territory.   This morning we passed the
^ ■^l
Nuttall's Journal
fifth Pine Bluff, and the last previous to our arrival at the
Little Rock; the fasçade was about the same height and
of the same materials as the preceding. Among the
pebbles of a gravel beach which I examined were scattered
a few fragments of cornelian, similar to those of the Missouri, and abundance of chert or hornstone containing
organic impressions of entrocites, caryophillites, &c. here
and there were also mtermingled a few granitic fragments,
which, if not more remotely adventitious, had probably
descended from the mountains.— We proceeded to-day
about 17 miles.
17th.] This morning we had the disagreeable prospect
of ice, and the wind was still from the north-west, but
abating. To-day we progressed about 20 miles. The
sixth point we passed, since our encampment of the preceding night, was called the Eagle's Nest, which is here
seen situated on the opposite side of the bend before us,
of six miles in circuit, and only about 100 yards across at
the isthmus.
The almost uninterrupted alternation of sand-bars in
the wide alluvial plain of the Arkansa afford, as on the
Mississippi, great facilities to navigation, either in propelling the boat by poles, or towing with the cordelles.
As the bars or beaches advance, so they continually change
the common level of the river, and driving the current
into the bend with augmenting velocity, the curve becomes at length intersected, and the sand barring up the
entrances of the former bed of the river, thus produces the
lakes which we find interspersed over the alluvial lands.
In the present state of the water, which is remarkably
low, considering the rains which have fallen, it is difficult
to proceed with a large merchant boat more than 18 or 20
miles a-day.
1 w
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 13
[103] 18th.] We now passed an island or cut-off two
miles long, and forming a point four or five miles round.
Near its commencement we were again gratified with the
sight of a human habitation.
Although the lands along the bank of the river here,
appear elevated above the inundation, yet, betwixt the
lower settlement and Mr. Twiner's, where we now arrived,
the surveyor found considerable tracts subject to the overflow, and in one place a whole township so situated. On
the opposite side, or Indian reservation, the hills approach
within six or eight miles of the river, and, like most of the
southern pine lands, promise but little to the agriculturist,
but the intermediate alluvion is as fertile as usual. The
Great Prairie,118 as I am told, on our right, lies at the
distance of about 18 or 20 miles; the intermediate space,
unbroken by hills, must necessarily afford an uninterrupted body of land little removed from the fertile character of alluvial.
Towards evening we arrived at Monsieur La Feve's,119
where two families reside, at the distance of about eight
miles above Mr. Twiner's; these are also descendants
from the ancient French settlers.
19th.] This morning we met with a boat from the garrison, commanded by lieutenant Blair, on his way to
Arkansas. We also passed Trudot's island, and Mr. D.
stopped awhile at the elder La Feve's, for the purposes of
118 Great Prairie, or Grand Prairie, as it is usually called, is the low upland
north of the Arkansas. The tract especially designated by this name is about
ninety miles long and from ten to fifteen wide, and roughly runs parallel to the
river.— Ed.
118 Peter Lefevre, a French Canadian, settled in the fall of 1818 on the north
side of the river about six miles below Little Rock. Descendants still dwelt
upon the identical spot a few years ago. The name is common in the early
history of this section. In corrupted form it is preserved in Fourche la Fave
Creek, which flows eastward through Perry County.— Ed. 1818-1820]
Nuttall's Journal
trade. Monsieur F. by his dress and manners did not
appear to have had much acquaintance with the civilized
world. In the evening, we arrived at the house of Mr.
Jones, where we were very decently entertained.
20th.] Two miles further lived Mr. Daniels,120 in whose
neighbourhood a second family also resided. The land
in this vicinity appeared to be of a very superior quality,
and well suited for cotton. Some of it, obtained by the
grant of the Spaniards, and since confirmed by the United
States, is held as high [104] as ten dollars the acre. From
this place proceeds the road to St. Louis, on the right,
and Mount Prairie settlement, and Natchitoches on Red
river, on the left. From all I can learn, it appears pretty
evident that these extensive and convenient routes have
been opened from time immemorial by the Indians; they
were their war and hunting-paths, and such as in many
instances had been tracked out instinctively by the bison
in their periodical migrations. It is in these routes, conducted by the Indians, that we are to trace the adventurers De Soto and La Salle, and by which we may possibly
identify the truth of their relations.121 From the appearances of aboriginal remains around Mount Prairie we may
safely infer the former existence of the natives on that
site, and it appears also probable, that this must have
been the fertile country of the Cayas or Tanicas described
by La Vega, a people who are at this time on the verge of
The distance from Mr. Daniels', on the banks of the
Arkansa, to Red river, is believed to be about 250 miles.
ao About the year 1814, Wright Daniels located on the north side of the river,
four miles below Little Rock. Robert Jones came to the same neighborhood
in 1818.— Ed.
m See post, note 126.— Ed.
122 The Cayas of La Vega are the modern Kansa.— Ed. »*{»
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[Vol. 13
The Great Prairie, bearing from hence to the north-east,
is said to be 40 rniles distant, and there is likewise a continuation of open plains or small prairies, from hence to
the Cadron settlement. White river lies about 100 miles
distant to the north.
In the course of the day we passed the sixth Pine Bluff,
behind which appeared the first prominent hill that occurs
to view on the banks of the Arkansa. The fasçade or
cliffs, in which it terminates on the bank of the river, is
called the Little Rock,128 as it is the first stone which occurs
in place. The river, no longer so tediously meandering,
here presents a stretch of six miles in extent, proceeding
to the west of north-west. In the evening we arrived at
Mr. Hogan's,124 or the settlement of the Little Rock,
opposite to which appear the cliffs, formed of a dark greenish coloured, fine-grained, slaty, sandstone, mixed with
[105] ininute scales of mica, forming what geologists
commonly term the grauwacke slate, and declining beneath
the surface at a dip or angle of not less than 450 from
the horizon. The hills appear to be elevated from 150
to 200 feet above the level of the river, and are thinly covered with trees.
There are a few families living on both sides, upon high,
healthy, and fertile land; and about 22 miles from Hogan's,
there is another settlement of nine or ten families situated towards the sources of Saline creek of the Washita,125
123 Called La Petite Rochelle by the French, to distinguish it from the larger
rocky promontory two miles farther up the river. A few settlers located here
as early as 1818. Little Rock became the capital of the territory in 1821, and
the same year it was proposed to rechristen it Arkopolis. Although never
officially adopted, this name appears on some old maps.— Ed.
124 Edmund Hogan, from Georgia, was said to be the first permanent settler
of Pulaski County. Upon the organization of the county in 1819, he was appointed justice of the peace.— Ed.
126 The Saline joins the Ouachita a few miles from the southern boundary
of .Arkansas, but its headwaters are in Saline County, which joins Pulaski on
the west.   This river should be distinguished from the Saline branch of Little I8I8-I820]
Nuttall's Journal
which enters that river in 330 27'; this land, though fertile
and healthy, cannot be compared with the alluvions of
the Arkansa; notwithstanding which, I am informed,
they were receiving accessions to their population from
the states of Kentucky and Tennessee. The great road
to the south-west, connected with that of St. Louis,
already noticed, passing through this settlement, communicates downwards also with the post of Washita, with the
remarkable thermal springs near its sources, about 50
miles distant, and then proceeding 250 miles to the settlement of Mount Prairie on Saline creek of Red river,
and not far from the banks of the latter, continues to
Natchitoches.128 The whole of this country, except that
of the hot-springs, which is mountainous, consists either
of prairies or undulated lands thinly timbered, and possessed of considerable fertility.
River, a tributary of the Red. The settlement here referred to was near the
point where the road to Hot Springs crossed the Saline. It was begun (1815)
by William Lockert (or Lockhart), from North Carolina; other families came
in 1817. See James, Expedition, volume xvii of our series, p. 300 (original
pagination).— Ed.
128 Nuttall's description of the course of the road below Little Rock is confusing. By the thermal springs he means the site of Hot Springs, where the
road forked. The eastern branch followed the Ouachita to the side of the
modern town of Monroe, seat of Ouachita Parish, Louisiana, where was Nuttall's
"post of Washita;" thence it ran southwest to Natchitoches, on Red River, an
old French mission town, founded in 1714, now the seat of Natchitoches Parish.
The other branch ran almost directly south to Natchitoches, and on Darby's
map of 1816 is marked, "Trace from Natchitoches to Hot Springs."
Mount Prairie was not on the headwaters of the Saline Fork of the Ouachita
where Nuttall's map places it. The name suggests the old French "upper
settlement" on Red River, which was near the old Caddo village, situated in
Long Prairie, south of Red River, about fifty miles above Little River. In
this prairie was a hill which the Indians regarded with superstitious veneration.
However, the settlements on Red River, near the mouth of the Kiamichi, are
probably meant (see post, notes 182, 184). The trail from St. Louis to Little
Rock, which passed through Cape Girardeau, Missouri, was followed by Major
S. H. Long on his expedition into Arkansas (1810). Members of Long's
exploring party of 1819-20, who followed this "great road" from the Saline to
Little Rock, called it then an "obscure path."—Ed. 148
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 13
21st.] For three or four nights past, we experienced
frost sufficient to destroy most of the early grape, plum,
popaw, and red-bud bloom. At 6 o'clock this morning,
the thermometer was down to 220. In the distance of
two miles we arrived at the younger Mr. Curran's, nearly
opposite to whose house appeared gentle hills, presenting
along the bank of the river beds of slate dipping about 450
to the north-west. About two miles above, commence
on the right bank of the river, the first hills, or rather
mountains, [106] being not less than 4 or 500 feet high,
and possessing a dip too considerable to be classed with
the secondary formation. Their character and composition refer them to the transition rocks, and, as far as I have
had opportunity to examine, they appear, at all events,
generally destitute of organic reliquiae. Similar to what
we had already examined, they are a stratum of slate made
up of the detritus of more ancient rocks, and frequently
traversed with crystalline quartzy veins. I cannot, in
fact, perceive any difference betwixt this rock and that
of the greater part of the Alleghany mountains in Pennsylvania and Virginia, and particularly those which are
of like inconsiderable elevation. About eight miles from
Mr. Curran's, appeared again, on the left, very considerable round-top hills, one of them, called the Mamelle,127
in the distance, where first visible, appeared insulated and
conic like a volcano. The cliffs bordering the river,
broken into shelvings, were decorated with the red cedar
(Juniperus virginiana), and clusters of ferns.
After emerging as it were from so vast a tract of alluvial
127 The Mamelle is at the mouth of a stream which is still marked on the
maps as the Maumelle, a corruption of the original. The name was not infrequently applied by the French to hills of breast-like form. This peak is
now called ' ' The Pinnacle."— Ed.
I i8i8-r82o]
Nuttall's Journal
lands, as that through which I had now been travelling for
mor° than three months, it is almost impossible to describe
the pleasure which these romantic prospects again afforded
me. Who can be insensible to the beauty of the verdant
hill and valley, to the sublimity of the clouded mountain,
the fearful precipice, or the torrent of the cataract. Even
bald and moss-grown rocks, without the aid of sculpture,
forcibly inspire us with that veneration which we justly
owe to the high antiquity of nature, and which appears
to arise no less from a solemn and intuitive reflection on
their vast capacity for duration, contrasted with that
transient scene in which we ourselves only appear to act
a momentary part.
Many of the plants common to every mountainous and
hilly region in the United States, again attracted my
attention, and though no way peculiarly interesting, [107]
serve to show the wide extension of the same species,
under the favourable exposure of similar soil and peculiarity of surface. To me the most surprising feature in
the vegetation of this country, existing under so low a latitude, was the total absence of all the usual evergreens, as
well as of most of those plants belonging to the natural
family of the heaths, the rhododendrons, and the magnolias; while, on the other hand, we have an abundance of
the arborescent Leguminosce, or trees which bear pods,
similar to the forests of the tropical regions. Here also
the Sapindus saponaria, or soap-berry of the West Indies,
attains the magnitude of a tree.
On the banks of the river, near the precise limit of inundation, I met with a new species of Sysinbrium, besides
the S. amphibium, so constant in its occurrence along the
friable banks of all the western rivers.   This plant, which
. i; ;-.•- i5°
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 13
-,-■'. 1
is creeping and perennial, possesses precisely the taste of
the common cabbage (Brassica oleracea), and, from its
early verdure, being already in flower, might perhaps be
better worth cultivating as an early sallad, than the Bar-
barea americana, or winter sallad.
22d.] From Mr. Blair's, at which place and in the neighbourhood Mr. D. spent the remainder of the day, I proceeded down the river about eight miles, in order to examine the reported silver mine of that place. My route along
the banks of the river lay through rich and rather open
alluvial lands, but, in many places, not free from transient
The pretended suver-mine is situated about one mile
below White Oak bayou or rivulet. The search appears
to have been induced by the exposure of the rocks in the
bank of the river, which present indeed an appearance
somewhat remarkable. The dip of the strata, about 450
to thefnorth-west, and the whole texture of the rock, is
similar to that which we have already noticed. The principal and lowest stratum, [108] is a dark coloured, sandy,
but fragile slate-clay; the upper beds are a fine-grained,
siliceous sandstone, containing grains of mica, and
occasionally traversed with veins of quartz. In one
of these veins, about a foot in breadth, were abundance of rock crystals, scattered over with round masses
or imperfect crystals of a white and diaphanous talc,
collected into radii, each plate forming the segment of
a circle.
I was for some time unable to ascertain the character
of the pretended ore of silver, as the whole concern lay
abandoned. I observed, however, that the slags of their
furnace betrayed a considerable proportion of iron in
their operations, and at length I discovered a heap of
L 1818-1820]
Nuttall's Journal
what appeared to have been the ore, containing pyrites,
some of the crystals of which were cubic, like those so
common around Lancaster (Pennsylvania), in the chlorite slate. Whether these pyrites did indeed contain silver
or not, I could not absolutely determine, though nothing
extraordinary could reasonably have been expected from
their very common appearance and unequivocal character.
On showing these specimens to the neighbours, they informed me, that the pyrites was the ore in question, while
others asserted it to be sulphur, and considered the siliceous matrix as the silver ore. It did not, however, to
the microscope betray the smallest metallic vestige which
could be taken for silver. Like all the rest of this rock,
it indeed contained abundance of magnetic iron-sand,
which on the disintegration of the stone, appeared scattered along the strand of the river. Upon the whole, I
am inclined to believe that some imposition had been practised upon the ignorance and credulity of those who were
enticed into this undertaking. Monsieur Brangiere is the
person who first made the experiment, or attempted to
bring the project into execution.
Ever since the time of Soto, reports concerning the discovery of precious metals in this territory have [109] been
cherished; we see them marked upon the maps, and although the places are easily discoverable, the gold and
silver they were said to afford has entirely vanished like
a fairy dream. It is indeed averred that about 60 dollars
worth of silver were obtained from this rock, but that it
was relinquished in consequence of the labour exceeding
the profits. A furnace and several temporary sheds
proved that some earnest attempts had been made, either
really or fictitiously, to obtain silver. If any silver was
obtained, it may be considered as connected with the mag-
M !52
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 13
netic iron-sand, which at St. Domingo and in India is
found occasionally mixed with gold and silver.128
Du Pratz, after animadverting on the visionary reports
of the wealth of this territory, himself adds; "I found,
upon the river of the Arkansas, a rivulet that rolled down
with its water, gold-dust." "And as for silver mines,
there is no doubt but that they might be found there, as
well as in New Mexico, on which this province bordered."120
Near to these hills reported to afford silver, I observed
two low aboriginal mounds, though the situation did not
appear favourable to the residence of the natives.
23d.] Mr. D. remained nearly the whole day at J.
Piat's,180 where a second family also resides, as well as a
third on the opposite side of the river, and several others
in the vicinity. About a quarter of a mile above Piat's
I amused myself in sketching a view of the romantic hills
that border the river, and which are not less than 5 to 800
feet high, with the strata inclined about 450 to the southeast.
In the afternoon I crossed the river, and ascended to
128 A granitic formation is exposed in central Arkansas, extending from
Pulaski County to Pike. Argentiferous galena is found throughout this area,
but is especially rich around Silver City in Montgomery County. The Spaniards left numerous old diggings as evidence of their knowledge of the existence
not only of lead, but of more valuable metals. At one time considerable quantities of silver were obtained from lead mines a few miles north of Little Rock.
A gold "craze" was caused in 1809 by the finding of a nugget in the same
neighborhood where Nuttall places the silver mine.— Ed.
128 Hist. Louisian. p. 219, London Edition.— Nuttall.
Comment by Ed.   Second London edition (1764).
180 Major James Pyeatt and his brother Jacob came from North Carolina
in wagons in 1807, and the settlement which grew up about them was called
Pyeattstown. It was twelve miles above Little Rock, but has disappeared.
Here resided for a time James Miller, first governor of Arkansas Territory.
See post, note 214.— Ed. i
'i-Si^^m^^^^^^ rpw
M ■w
Nuttall's Journal
the summit of these lofty cliffs of slaty and siliceous sandstone, where, from an elevation of about 600 feet, I obtained a panorama view of the surrounding country, [no]
checquered with low mountains running in chains from
the north of west to the south of east. The meanders of
the river appeared partly hid in the pervading forests of
its alluvial lands, still fertile and expansive. To the west,
the lofty, conic, and broken hill called the Mamelle now
appeared nearly double the elevation of that on which I
stood, probably more than 1000 feet in height. Two
miles above, it presented the appearance of a vast pyramid, hiding its summit in the clouds. In this direction
opened an extensive alluvial valley, probably once the
bed of the river, which from hence makes a general curve
of about 20 miles towards the north. These mountains
appear to be connected with the Mazern chain of Darby,
as they continue from hence towards the sources of the
Pottoe of Arkansa, and the Little river, and Kiamesha
of Red river.181
Amidst these wild and romantic cliffs, and on the ledges
of the rocks, where, moistened by springs, grew a cruciferous plant, very closely allied, if not absolutely the same,
with the Brassica napus or the Rape-seed of Europe, and
beyond all question indigenous.
24th.] After taking a second sketch of the Mamelle
mountain, from a different point of view, I proceeded to
join the boat, and crossed a poor and rocky Pine hill.
Here the sandstone is scarcely slaty, and, as usual, more
or less ferruginous. Crossing the bayou Palame (or
rather rivulet), I joined the boat at Mr. Gozy's, in whose
m The Mamelle terminates a range of hills to which it gives name (known
locally as the Maumelle Mountains). North of this lies the valley of Fourche la
Fave River, and between this valley and that of the Arkansas rises another
range of hills.   See post, note'i8i.— Ed. 1
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 13
neighbourhood there were also two other families. This
evening we proceeded nearly to the termination of Grand
island, which is four miles in length.
25th.] About a mile below Grand island, on our left,
the hills again come in upon the river, presenting the most
romantic cliffs. In one place particularly, an unbroken
fasçade not less than 150 feet of slaty sandstone presents
itself, the lamina of which, about 12 or [in] 18 inches in
thickness, dipping to the south-east, are elevated at an
angle of near 8o° from the horizon, and altogether resemble
the basis of some mighty pyramid. In four miles further
we passed the outlet of Fourche La Fève, said to proceed
in a western direction for 200 miles, and to take its sources
in the mountains of the Pottoe.182 A north-western range
of hills here in the whole distance border the river, the
strata of which, still lamellar, dip north-north-east, and
are inclined about 450. This evening, at Mr. Montgomery's, the Cadron hills appear before us, at the distance of
about six miles.
26th.] A strong north-west wind arose in the night, accompanying a rise in the river of two and a half feet, and
a current of the velocity of four or five miles per hour.
On the 27th we arrived at the Cadron settlement,183
containing in a contiguous space about five or six families.
is2 >pne name 0f t]ùs stream is derived from Lefevre, the name of a French
family prominent in early Arkansas history (see ante, note 119). The sources
of the stream are near the western boundary of the state, in Scott County; its
headwaters are only a few miles from those of Little River, a tributary of the
Red, and those of the Ouachita he between; it flows slightly to the north of
east.— Ed.
188 The site of Cadron settlement was the mouth of Cadron Creek, thirty-
eight miles above Little Rock, in Faulkner County. In 1820 it was made the
seat of justice for Pulaski County against the wishes of Governor James Miller,
who favored Pyeattstown, his own residence. In time Cadron fell into decay,
and it has now disappeared from the map.— Ed. 1818-1820]
Nuttall's Journal
Mr. M'llmery,134 one of the first, is at present the only
resident on the imaginary town plot. A cove of rocks
here affords a safe and convenient harbour, and a good
landing for merchandize.
No village or town, except Arkansas, has yet been produced on the banks of this river, though I have no doubt,
but my remarks may ere long be quoted and contrasted
with a rising state of more condensed population. Town-
lot speculations have already been tried at the Cadron,
which is yet but a proximate chain of farms, and I greatly
doubt whether a town of any consequence on the Arkansa
will ever be chosen on this site. Some high and rich body
of alluvial lands would be better suited for the situation
of an inland town, than the hills and the rocks of the
Cadron. Modern cities rarely thrive in such romantic
situations. There is scarcely a hundred yards together
of level ground, and the cove in which Mr. M'llmery
lives is almost impenetrably surrounded by tiresome and
lofty hills, broken into ravines, with small rills of water.
It [112] is true, that here may be obtained a solid foundation on which to build, without danger of dislocation by
the perpetual changes and ravages of the river, but in an
agricultural settlement something more is wanting than
foundations for houses.
The Cadron was at this time in the hands of four proprietors, who last year commenced the sale of town-lots
to the amount of 1300 dollars, and the succeeding sale was
appointed to take place in the approaching month of May.
What necessity there may be for projecting a town at
this place, I will not take upon myself to decide, but a
mJohn McElmurray settled at Cadron prior to 1818. In the spring of
that year he had for neighbors Benjamin Murphy, Harvey Hager, and families
named McFarland and Newell.— Ed.
< ru
■— i58
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 13
house of public entertainment, a tavern, has long been
wanted, as the Cadron lies in another of the leading routes
through this territory. It is one of the resorts from St.
Louis, and the settlements on White river, as well as to
the hot springs of the Washita,135 and the inhabitants of
Red river. From Arkansas to this place, about 150 miles
by land, there is a leading path which proceeds through
the Great Prairie.
To those southern gentlemen who pass the summer in
quest of health and recreation, this route to the hot springs
of the Washita, which I believe is the most convenient,
would afford a delightful and rational amusement.
In the course of the day I amused myself amongst the
romantic cliffs of slaty sand-stone, which occupy the vicinity
of the Cadron. Here I found vestiges of several new and
curious plants, and among them an undescribed species of
Eriogonum, with a considerable root, partly of the colour
and taste of rhubarb. The Petalostemons, and several
plants of the eastern states, which I had not seen below,
here again make their appearance. The Cactus ferox of
the Missouri, remarkably loaded with spines, appears to
forebode the vicinity of the Mexican desert.
The dip of the strata is here south-east, and the mountains, generally destitute of organic remains, [113] pass off
in chains from the north of west to the south of east.
28th.] The river still continued rising. This morning
I walked out two or three miles over the hills, and found
186 Hot Springs, now the famous health resort in Garland County. The
spot was widely known among the Indians, and De Soto, led on by their reports,
probably visited it in 1542. Summer parties of wealthy planters began to frequent the region early in the nineteenth century, and to such visits were doubtless due the well-marked roads from Natchitoches, described above (see ante,
note 126). The town of Hot Springs is of late growth; it was a mere village in
i860. A tract of four square miles surrounding the springs was purchased in
1877 by the government, and is now a national park.— Ed. -'-"'ff»
I if
mm ■*»
Nuttall's Journal
the land, except in the small depressions and alluvion of
the creek, of an inferior quality, and chiefly timbered with
oaks and hickories thinly scattered. Ages must elapse
before this kind of land will be worth purchasing at any
price. Still, in its present state, it will afford a good range
of pasturage for cattle, producing abundance of herbage,
but would be unfit for cotton or maize, though, perhaps,
suited to the production of smaller grain; there is not,
however, yet a grist-mill on the Arkansa, and flour commonly sells above the Post, at 12 dollars per barrel. For
the preparation of maize, a wooden mortar, or different
kinds of hand or horse-mills are sufficient. Sugar and
coffee are also high priced articles, more particularly this
year. In common, I suppose, sugar retails at 25 cents
the pound, and coffee at 50. Competition will, however,
regulate and reduce the prices of these and other articles,
which, but a few years ago, were sold at such an exorbitant rate, as to be almost proscribed from general use.
There is a maple in this country, or rather, I believe, on
the banks of White river, which has not come under my
notice, called the sugar-tree (though not, as they say, the
Acer saccharinum), that would, no doubt, by a little
attention afford sugar at a low rate; and the decoctions of
the wood of the sassafras and spice bush (Laurus benzoin),
which abound in this country, are certainly very palatable
substitutes for tea.
It is to be regretted that the widely scattered state of the
population in this territory, is but too favourable to the
spread of ignorance and barbarism. The means of education are, at present, nearly proscribed, and the rising
generation are growing up in mental darkness, like the
French hunters who have preceded [114] them, and who
have almost forgot that they appertain to the civilized w.
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 13
world. This barrier will, however, be effectually removed
by the progressive accession of population, which, like a
resistless tide, still continues to set towards the west.
Contiguous to the north-eastern, or opposite declivity
of the chain of hills, which flank the settlement of Mr.
M'llmery, I observed in my ramble, a considerable collection of aboriginal tumuli, towards the centre of which,
disposed in a somewhat circular form, I thought I could
still discern an area which had once been trodden by
human feet; — but, alas! both they and their history
are buried in impenetrable oblivion! their existence is
blotted out from the page of the living ! and it is only the
eye which has been accustomed to the survey of these
relics, that can even distinguish them from the accidental
operations of nature. How dreary is this eternal night
which has overtaken so many of my fellow-mortals ! — a
race, perhaps brave, though neither civilized nor luxurious, and who, like the retreating Scythians pursued by
Darius, made, perhaps, at last, an obstinate resistance
around their luckless families, and the revered tombs of
their ancestors !
* * *
Besides these tumuli scattered through the forests,
there are others on the summits of the hills, formed of
loose stones thrown up in piles. We have no reason to
suppose, that these remains were left by the Arkansas;
they themselves deny it, and attribute them to a people
distinct and governed by a superior policy.
29th and 30th.] Still at Mr. M'llmery's, during which
time the weather has been cold and stormy.
The United States have now ordered the survey of all
the alluvial and other saleable lands of the Arkansa, which
are to be ready for disposal in about two years from the o
m  •m***
■I U,
Nuttall's Journal
present time. One of the surveyors, Mr. Pettis, was now
laying out the lands contiguous to the [115] Cadron into
sections. Another surveyor is also employed in the Great
Prairie, and proceeding, at this time, from the vicinity of
Arkansas to this place. The poorer and hilly lands,
generally, are not yet thought to be worth the expense of
a public survey. Some of these surveys, however, extend
as far to the north as the banks of White river. Mr. P.
obtains three dollars per mile, for surveying the river lands,
which are extremely difficult, from the density and extent
of the cane-brakes, and the multiplicity of lagoons or
portions of the deserted channel of the river, which, as
we have had already occasion to remark, are still continually forming.
These fine cotton lands have not altogether escaped the
view of speculators, although there is yet left ample room
for the settlement of thousands of families, on lands,
which, except the few preemption rights, will be sold by
the impartial hand of the nation, at a price as reasonable
as the public welfare shall admit of, which has heretofore
been at the rate of two dollars the acre, and as no lands
on this river are now surveyed and offered for sale, but
such as are considered to be of the first and second rate,
there can consequently be no room left for imposition,
and though there is, indeed, a considerable proportion of
inundated land unavoidably included, yet in general, as
I understand from the surveyor, there will be in almost
every section, a great portion of elevated soils.
The preemption rights, as they are called, are a certain
species of reward or mdemnification for injuries sustained
in the late war, and afforded to such individuals only, as
had made improvements in the interior of the territories,
prior to the year 1813.   Such individuals, if able to pay, .--«1
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 13
are entitled to one or more quarter sections, as the lines
of their improvements may happen to extend into the
public lines when surveyed, of one or more such plots
or fractional sections of land. These rights have been
bought [116] up by speculators, at from 4 or 500 to 1000
dollars, or at the positive rate of from 3 to 10 dollars the
acre, including the price of two dollars per acre to the
United States; a certain proof of the growing importance
of this country, where lands, previous to the existence of
any positive title, have brought a price equal to that of the
best lands on the banks of the Ohio, not immediately
contiguous to any considerable town. The hilly lands,
which have not been thought worthy of a survey, will
afford an invaluable common range for all kinds of cattle,
while the alluvial tracts are employed in producing maize,
cotton, tobacco, or rice. I must, here, however, remark
by the way, that there exists a considerable difference in
the nature of these alluvial soils. They are all loamy,
never cold or argillaceous, but often rather light and
sandy; such lands, however, though inferior for maize,
are still well adapted for cotton. The richest soils here
produce 60 to 80 bushels of maize per acre. The inundated lands, when properly banked so as to exclude and
introduce the water at pleasure by sluices, might be well
employed for rice, but the experiment on this grain has
not yet been made, on an extensive scale, by any individual in the territory, although its success, in a small
way, has been satisfactorily ascertained. Indigo is occasionally raised for domestic use, but would require more
skill in its preparation for the market. Indeed, as yet,
the sum of industry calculated to afford any satisfactory
experiment in agriculture or domestic economy, has not
been exercised by the settlers of the Arkansa, who, with
sum i I8I8-I820]
Nuttall's Journal
half the resolution of the German farmers of Pennsylvania,
would ensure to themselves and their families comfort
and affluence.
After the most diligent inquiries concerning the general
health of this country, I do not find any substantial reason
to alter the opinion which I have already advanced. I
am, however, firmly persuaded, [117] that the immediate
banks of the Arkansa, in this respect are to be preferred
to the prairies, and I can only account for this remarkable
circumstance, by the unusual admixture of common salt,
or muriate of soda, in its waters, which prevents it from
becoming dangerously putrid in the neighbouring ponds
and lagoons; and I would farther recommend its use to
the inhabitants in preference to any fountain water, however convenient. The pellucid appearance of the.water,
in most of the lagoons which have come under my notice,
is, in all probability, attributable to this circumstance.
I was indeed informed that instances of the ague were
known at some seasons, but that this disease had been
principally confined to those who were destitute, through
indolence or accidental poverty, of the proper means of
nourishment, and who, after its commencement, neglected
the aid of medicine. A better proof, than the general
healthy appearance of the inhabitants, and the total absence of doctors, whose aid must of course be unnecessary,
need not be adduced in favour of the prevailing salubrity
of the banks of the Arkansa.
From Mr. M'llmery, I learn that there exists very considerable tracts of fertile land, along the banks of La Feve's
creek, which proceeds in a south-west direction towards
Red river for about 200 miles, deriving its source with
Little river of the latter, as well as with another contiguous
stream of the Arkansa, called Petit John, and likewise with
m —.ar
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 13
et J
the Pottoe. It is also said to be navigable near 100 miles,
and possessed of a gentle current.
From Mr. Pettis, the surveyor, I obtained two small
specimens of the oil-stone, or hone of the Washita. It is a
siliceous slaty rock, of a conchoidal and sometimes splintery
fracture, bordering on hornstone; some of it is as white as
snow, and it splits so evenly as to afford hones without any
additional [118] labour. Occasionally it appears divided
by ferruginous illinitions, presenting muscoid ramifications in relief, but scarcely discolouring the surface. It
feebly absorbs oil or water, and then becomes somewhat
diaphanous.   It is infusible by the common blowpipe.188
31st.] This evening we proceeded to David M'Umery's,
about three miles above the Cadron,- who lived about a
mile and a half from the bank of the river, at the head of
a small alluvial plain or prairie, apparently well calculated
for a superior farm. While passing through this prairie,
I observed five deer feeding, and passed almost without
disturbing them.
Wild cats of two kinds, both striped and spotted, as well
as panthers, bears, and wolves (black and grey), are in
considerable abundance in this country. The bison (improperly called buffaloe) is also met with occasionally in
the distance of about a day's ride towards the Washita.
The inhabitants were just beginning to plough for cotton,
an operation here not very laborious, except when breaking
up the prairies, as the soil is friable and loamy.
In a small prairie adjoining, where a second family were
residing, a single tree of the bow-wood (or Maclura) existed, having a trunk of about 18 inches diameter.
188 For a further account of this mineral, which appeared to be undescribed,
see a note in the Essay on the Geological Structure of the Valley of the Mississippi, which I published in the first part of the second volume of the Journal
of the Academy of the Natural Sciences of Philadelphia.— Nuttall. y
Nuttall's Journal
April ist.j The Arkansa after a sudden rise had now
commenced again to fall; its inundations being chiefly
vernal, taking place from February to May, are less injurious than those of the Missouri and Mississippi, which
occur in mid-summer, and are consequently unavoidably
injurious to the advancing crops. This circumstance also
tends to prove, that no considerable [119] branch of this
river derives its source within the region of perpetual snow,
which dissolves most in the warmest season of the year,
and that its inundations are merely the effect of winter
rains; its rising and falling, from the same cause, is also
much more sudden than that of the Missouri.
About eight miles from the Cadron, we passed Mr.
Marsongill's,137 pleasantly situated on the gentle declivity
of a ridge of hills, which commence about a mile from the
river. Three miles further, we passed Mr. Fraser's, the
commencement of the Pecannerie settlement. Here, at
the distance of more than 12 miles, the hills of the Petit
John appear conspicuous and picturesque. In three miles
more, seven or eight houses are seen, situated along either
bank of the river, and sufficiently contiguous for an agreeable neighbourhood.
From the Cadron upwards, the falls of the rivulets
afford conveniences for mills. A grist-mill did not, however, as yet exist on the banks of the Arkansa, though a
saw-mill had been recently erected.138
2d.] Mr. D. proceeded about eight miles above Fraser's,
187 The name may be a corruption of Massengill. Two brothers of this name,
who had been Tories during the American Revolution, drifted into the region
in 1818, and soon passed on before the advancing tide of civilization. On the
Pecannerie settlement and the character of its people, see post, pp. 280-281.— Ed.
U8"lf the date given by local authorities is correct, Nuttall is wrong in asserting that no grist-mill had been set up prior to his visit. William and John
Standlee are said to have erected a grist- and saw-mill in 1818, the first within
the present limits of Faulkner County.— Ed. 7°
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 13
and remained the rest of the afternoon nearly opposite to
the bayou or rivulet of point Remu,139 from whence, on
that side, commences the Cherokee line. Here the hills
again approach in gentle declivities, presenting beds of
black slaty siliceous rock (grauwacke slate), inclined about
6o° south-east. Both banks of the river in this distance
are one continued line of farms. Some of the cabins are
well situated on agreeable rising grounds; but the nearer,
I perceive, the land is to the level of inundation, the
greater is its fertility. The highest grounds are tliin and
sandy, so much so, that occasionally the Cactus or prickly-
pear makes its appearance.
3d.] Still opposite point Remu. On this side of the
river, where Mr. Ellis now resides, an agreeable site for a
town offers, but the landing is bad. A few [120] miles
back there are not less than 14 famihes scattered over the
alluvial land. There were also a number of families
settled along the banks of the Remu. Adjoining Mr.
Ellis's there was a small sandy prairie, over which I found
Cactus's and the Plantago gnaphaloides abundantly
scattered. I am informed that there are considerable
quantities of this poor and sandy land, though not in any
one place very extensive, and immediately surrounded with
richer lands which have been, and are yet skirted by the
overflow. With slight banking, these lands, not too
deeply submerged, will one day be considered the best for
all kinds of produce, but more particularly maize and rice.
4th.] A storm of wind sprang up during the night from
the south-west, and continued so as to retard us, after
proceeding with difficulty about six miles, in which distance we arrived at the house of Mr. Tucker, situated at
139 Qr pomt Remove, whose name is derived from the action of the current.
For the boundary of the Cherokee reservation, see post, note 145.— Ed. m-mmm
Nuttall's Journal
the base of a lofty ridge of broken hills, not less than 6 or
700 feet high, presenting an alternation of terraces and
cliffs, and continuing in a north-west direction nearly
the same height for about eight miles. This range is
known by the same name as that of the contiguous
rivulet, the Little John,140 some Frenchman probably
who first discovered it. At the south-east end I found
the ascent very steep, and which, like most considerable
chains, was at this extremity the highest and most precipitous. From the summit a vast wilderness presented
itself covered with trees, and chequered with ranges
of mountains, which appeared to augment and converge
towards the north-west. To the east a considerable
plain stretches out, almost uninterrupted by elevations.
From the south-west I could enumerate four distinct
chains of mountains, of which the furthest, about
40 miles distant, presented in several places lofty blue
peaks, much higher than any of the intermediate and less
broken ridges. I thought that this ridge tended somewhat towards the Mamelle, whose summit at this distance
[121] was quite distinct, though, at the lowest estimate, 40
miles distant. To the north-east the hills traverse the river,
and are in this quarter also of great elevation, affording
sources to some of the streams of White river, and to others
which empty into the Arkansa. Over the vast plain immediately below me, appeared here and there belts of
cypress, conspicuous by their brown tops and horizontal
branches; they seem to occupy lagoons and swamps, at
some remote period formed by the river. As it regards
their structure, the lower level of the hills was slaty, the
140 The Little John (or Petit Jean) enters the Arkansas at the northeast corner
of Yell County. Tradition says that the stream is named for a Frenchman of
small stature, named Jean, who was here killed by the Indians.— Ed.
3 III mmà
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 13
tabular summits a massive, fine-grained sandstone, containing nodules of iron ore. In one place I also saw one of
those gigantic tessellated zoophytic impressions,141 which
indicate the existence of coal. The dip of the sandstone
is inconsiderable, and to the north-west. Towards the
southern extremity of the ridge which I ascended, there
are several enormous masses of rock so nicely balanced as
almost to appear the work of art; one of them, like the
druidical monuments of England, rocked backwards and
forwards on the slightest touch. On the shelvings of this
extremity of the mountain, I found a new species of
As we proceeded in the boat, towards the level of the
river, and about a mile below the entrance of the Petit
John, we could perceive a slaty, and partly horizontal bed
of matter, in which there were distinct indications of coal.
5th.] We passed the outlet of the Petit John, a rivulet
about 200 miles long, deriving its source with the Pottoe
and other streams in the Mazern mountains. Here the
hills turn off abruptly to the south, and for four or five
miles border the rivulet, which, for some distance, keeping
a course not very far from the Arkansa, approaches within
10 miles to the south-east of the Dardanelle settlement.
At the distance of [122] about five miles from the first
Cherokee village, called the Galley, Mr. D. and myself
proceeded to it by land. The first two or three miles presented elevated and rich alluvial lands, but in one or two
directions bordered by the back-water. At length we
arrived at the Galley hills, a series of low and agreeable
acclivities well suited for building. Here the Cherokees
had a settlement of about a dozen families, who, in the
141 A Strobilaria, more commonly considered as a species of Phytolite.—
Nuttall. 1818-1820]
Nuttall's Journal
construction and furniture of their houses, and in the
management of their farms, imitate the whites, and
appeared to be progressing towards civilization, were it
not for their baneful attachinent to whiskey. Towards
the level of the river a darkish bed of slate-clay appeared,
having a dip of not more than 10 to 150; beneath which
occurred a slaty sandstone, containing a little mica, and
somewhat darkened apparently by bitumen. It likewise
abounded with organic reliquiae, among which were something like large alcyonites, sometimes the thickness of a
finger, but flexuous instead of rigid, and collected together
in considerable quantities; also, a moniliform fossil allied
to the Icthyosarcolite of Desmarest, though not very distinctly, being equally flexuous with the above, and fragments resembling some species of turrilites, but no shells
of any other description, besides these, were visible.
The insects which injure the morel cherry-tree so much
in Pennsylvania, I perceive, here occasionally act in the
same way upon the branches of the wild cherry, (Prunus
6th.] This morning the river appeared rapidly rising
to its former elevation, being nearly bank full, almost a
mile in width, and but little short of the Mississippi in
magnitude. The current was now probably four or five
miles in the hour, and so difficult to stem, that after the
most laborious exertions since day-light, we were still in
the evening five miles below the Dardanelle, having made
only about 10 miles [123] from the Galley. We have had
the low ridge, which originated this fanciful name, in sight
nearly the whole day. On the same side of the river, but
more distant, a magnificent empurpled mountain occupies
the horizon, apparently not less than 1000 feet high, forming a long ridge or table, and abrupt at its southern ex-
1 174
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 13
tremity. From its peculiar form it had received the name
of the Magazine or Barn by the French hunters.142 It
strongly resembles the English mountain in the north of
Yorkshire, called Pendle-hill, familiar to me from infancy,
and by which all the good wives in the surrounding country
could foretel the weather better than by the almanac.
Along either bank the lands are generally elevated and
fertile, and pretty thickly scattered with the cabins and
farms of the Cherokees, this being the land allotted to them
by congress, inexchange for others in the Mississippi Territory, where the principal part of the nation still remain.
I was considerably disappointed in learning that Mr. D.
had relinquished the idea of proceeding to the garrison,
with whom I had entertained the hope of continuing my
passage, without interruption or additional delay.
7th.] Both banks of the river, as we proceeded, were
lined with the houses and farms of the Cherokees, and
though their dress was a mixture of indigenous and
European taste, yet in their houses, which are decently
furnished, and in their farms, which were well fenced and
stocked with cattle, we perceive a happy approach
towards civilization. Their numerous families, also, well
fed and clothed, argue a propitious progress in their population. Their superior industry, either as hunters or
farmers, proves the value of property among them, and
they are no longer strangers to avarice, and the distinctions
created by wealth; some of them are possessed of property
to the amount of many thousands of dollars, have houses
handsomely [124] and conveniently furnished, and their
tables spread with our dainties and luxuries.
142 Magazine Mountain rises two hundred and eighty feet above the level of the
stream. It terminates on the river in the headland called the "Dardanelle,"
to be described a few pages below.— Ed. I8I8-I820]
Nuttall's Journal
They say, that their language is perfectly distinct from
that of every other spoken by the aborigines.143 Yet the
Delawares, according to Mr. Heckewelder, considered
them as their descendants.
The following notice of them occurs in La Vega's history
of the incursion of Ferdinand de Soto, as early as the year
1541. Seven days' journey from Cutifachiqui, which is
stated to be 430 Spanish leagues, or 860 miles from the bay
of Apalache, and in a direction of from south-west to northeast, De Soto arrived in a province called Chalaque (evidently the same people now called Cherokees, as they call
themselves Chalakee). The country they then occupied
was said to be sterile, and affording but little maize, that
they fed upon spontaneous roots and herbs, which they
sought in the wilds, and upon the animals of the forest,
hunted with bows and arrows. In their manners they were
gentle, and went habitually naked. Their chief sent as a
present to De Soto a couple of deer skins, and their country
abounded with wild hens (probably the Prairie hen,
Tetrao cupido). In one town they made him a present of
700 of these birds, and he experienced the like liberality in
several other of their towns.144
They were acquainted with this country prior to their
removal, but never laid any claim to it. It was merely
the resort of their renegadoes and wandering hunters.
The number who have now emigrated hither are about
1500. The unsettled limit of their claim in this country,
has been the means of producing some dissatisfaction,
and exciting their jealousy [125] against the agents of
143 Charlevoix also remarks, "I cannot find out to what language the Cherokees belong, a pretty numerous people, who inhabit the vast meadows between
the Lake Erie, and the Mississippi," and adds, that the Iroquois make war with
them.   Hist. Journal, p. 115, London Ed.— Nuttall.
144 Purchas's Pilgrims, vol. TV., p. 1539.— Nuttall.
SI 176
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 13
government. One of their principal chiefs had said, that
rather than suffer any embarrassment and uncertainty,
he would proceed across Red river, and petition land
from the Spaniards. The Cherokees, with their present
civilized habits, industry, and augmenting population,
would prove a dangerous enemy to the frontiers of the
Arkansa Territory. As they have explicitly given up the
lands which they possessed in the Mississippi Territory,
in exchange for those which they have chosen here, there
can be no reason why they should not immediately be
confirmed, so as to preclude the visits of land speculators,
which excite their jealousy. A serious misunderstanding will probably arise at their ejectment from the south
side of the river, which has, I believe, been concluded on
by the government. Although the power of the natives is
now despised, who can at this time tell, what may grow out
of this nation of the aborigines, who, by wisely embracing
the habits and industry of the Anglo-Americans, may in
time increase, and become a powerful and independent
nation, subject by habit to a monarchial form of government.
We find mention, as already remarked, of the Cherokees (under the name of Chalaque) by Garcilasso de la
Vega, who found them hving near the Apalachian mountains, and speaks in contempt of their poverty and population. At this time, however, they amount to between 12
and 13,000 souls, and are in a promising way of advancing
beyond all the other aborigines in strength and population.
From examining the oldest histories and maps, it appears
that a portion of this nation also occupied the sea-coast of
South Carolina, where, according to a tradition still extant, they first saw the white people approach in ships,
near to the present site of the city of Charlestown.   They I8I8-I820]
Nuttall's Journal
requested, say they, a small portion of land, which was
readily granted, but at length encroached [126] upon us,
until we had to cross the mountains, and now even the
banks of the Mississippi.145
Arriving in the afternoon at Mr. Raphael's, who keeps
a store for the supply of the Cherokees, I hastened to
exarnine the neighbouring ridge of rocks, which originated
the name of the Dardanelle, or as it is here more commonly
called Derdanai, both by the French and Americans.148
The fires which commonly take place among the dry
145 It is not now believed that the Cherokee ever occupied the Carolina coast.
It is more probable that they came from the north, a century or two before De
Soto visited them. Their traditions and the researches of archaeologists indicate that their original home was northwest of Lake Superior, whence they migrated southeast, coming up the Ohio and the Kanawha valleys, and finally
descending the Great Valley of the Appalachians to their historic seat. They
are thought to have built, en passant, the mounds of the Ohio region.
The removal policy was a gradual development. Even before the close of
the eighteenth century — soon, in fact, after the treaty of Hopewell (1785) —
bands began to cross the Mississippi; and as the pressure of white population
increased the migration was facilitated by treaties. In 1803, President Jefferson suggested the desirability of removing the tribe beyond the river, and the
Act of 1804, dividing the Louisiana Purchase, appropriated $15,000 for this
purpose. In 1809, Jefferson encouraged a part of the tribe which was discontented with existing conditions to send a delegation to inspect lands on the Arkansas, with a view to exchanging their old range for a new one in that region.
The exchange was not consummated until 1817, by which time the migration of
families and small parties had swelled the number in Arkansas to two or three
thousand. The treaty of July 8, 1817, gave the Arkansas Cherokee a tract
lying between the White and Arkansas rivers, bounded on the east by a line
running northeast from Point Remove on the Arkansas to Shield's Ferry on
White River, and on the west by a parallel line starting from Table Rock, just
above Fort Smith. This reserve was surrendered in 1825 for seven million acres
in Indian Territory. The main body of the eastern Cherokee were removed
to the Territory under a treaty made in 1835.— Ed.
148 Derdanai, or "Dardonnie," is said to mean "sleep with one eye." The
name and the appearance of the rocks suggest the Dardanelles, whence, it is
alleged, the modification of the name to Dardanelle. The Cherokee agency
was located on this site in 1820; but the town proper dates from the coming,
some years later, of white settlers ejected from Indian lands. The modern
town of Dardanelle is the most important commercial town on the river between Little Rock and Fort Smith.— Ed.
if i78
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[Vol. 13
herbage, and which had but recently been in action, prevented me from making any botanical collections, and I
amused myself by ascending the ridge, which, at the first
approach, appeared to be inaccessible. At length I
gained the summit, which, at the highest point on the bank
of the river, might be about 300 feet. The rock was a
massive sandstone, with the laminae elevated towards the
south-east, at an inclination of near 6o°, and, in many
places intricately traversed with seams of ferruginous
matter, presenting, by their numerous intersections, an
almost tessellated or retiform appearance. In some specimens, the interstices were perfectly rhomboidal, and separated into rhombic fragments. Several enormous and
romantic blocks were scattered along the margin of the
river, and on some of them small trees were growing.
From the summit opened another sublime view of the
surrounding country. Again to the south and south-west,
I could distinguish three of the four chains of mountains,
which were visible from the high hills of the Petit John,
and still, to my surprise, distinctly appeared the Mamelle,
though, by water, near upon 100 miles distant, and not
less than 60 by land, which would appear to argue an elevation more considerable than that which I had at first
imagined. The Magazine mountain to the west, though,
at first, apparently so near, is not less than 10 miles distant,
looking, if any thing, more considerably elevated than the
Mamelle, and probably not less than 1200 feet high. In
this point of view, it appears [127] isolated, gradually
descending into the plain, and accumulating in magnitude
to the north-west; it here descends rather more abruptly,
though the highest point is still to the south, where it
appears to rise in broken fasçades unconnectedly with the
auxiliary ridge.
m i8i8-i82o]
Nuttall's Journal
8th.] From the Cherokees I understood that there still
exists some portion of the Natchez, who live with the
Choctaws, near Mobile river. It would be interesting to
learn, what affinities their language possesses with that
of the existing nations. The Chetimachas of bayou Plac-
quiniine, said by Du Pratz to speak the same language,
and to be a branch of the same people, might also afford
some information concerning the Natchez and their connections.147
In the evening, we crossed to the right-hand cliff of the
Dardanelle, where Mr. D. again renewed his trade with
the Indians and their retailers. I embraced this opportunity to make one of my usual rambles, and found an
extraordinary difference in the progress of vegetation here,
exposed to the south and sheltered from the north-western wind. Proceeding leisurely towards the summit of
the hill, I was amused by the gentle murmurs of a rill of
pellucid water, which broke from rock to rock. The
acclivity, through a scanty thicket, rather than the usual
sombre forest, was already adorned with violets, and occasional clusters of the parti-coloured Collinsia. The groves
and thickets were whitened with the blossoms of the Dog-
147 When first encountered by whites in 1560, the Natchez occupied a considerable tract on the east side of the Mississippi. Their chief village was near the
site of the modern Natchez. According to their own traditions, they came from
the Southwest, and their customs — worship of the sun, human sacrifices, etc.—
indicate a connection with the Indians of Mexico and Yucatan. The men were
of large stature, few being under six feet. The tribe soon acquired dissolute
habits from the whites, and rapidly dwindled in numbers. Hostilities with the
French began in 1715, and continued intermittently until 1740. The Choctaw
and Chickasaw became involved, the former as allies of the French, and the
latter, incited by the English, as allies of the Natchez. The final result of the
wars was the extinction of the Natchez as a distinct tribe, although a remnant
long persisted among the Chickasaw and Muskogee; in 1835 this remnant
numbered three hundred souls.
The Chetimachas were a small tribe which dwelt on Lake Grand, in southern Louisiana.— Ed. i8o
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 13
wood (Cornus florida). The lugubrious vociferations of
the whip-poor-will; the croaking frogs, chirping crickets,
and whoops and halloos of the Indians, broke not disagreeably the silence of a calm and fine evening, in which
the thermometer still remained at 700; and though the
scene was not finished in the usual style of rural landscape,
yet to me it was peculiarly agreeable, when contrasted
with the dull monotony of a gloomy and ^terminable
forest, [128] whose solitude had scarcely ever been cheered
by the voices or habitations of men.
9th.] In the forenoon, I proceeded to Mr. Webber's,
along the hills of the Dardanelle, which border the right
bank of the river, opposite to which, a contiguous ridge
and similar cliffs also appear, forming, as it were, a wide
chasm traversed by the river. The approach of these
hills to either bank, like vast portals, probably originated
the name of this place. Walking along the margin of the
continued precipice which bordered the river, I observed
a brownish animal quickly retreating into its burrow,
which in size appeared to be little short of that of a mole.
On rolling away a fragment of rock, I succeeded in discovering that the object of my pursuit was an enormous
spider, no less than four inches from the extremity of one
foot to that of the other, and two inches from head to tail,
covered with long brown hair; the eyes six in number and
minute, the mouth not discoverable, but in the place of
jaws, as in the Monoculi, two of the six pair of feet, of a
strong cartilaginous texture, very short and retracted
together, each terminated by a simple hooked claw, and
internally lined with a row of minute teeth for mastication. In fact, it entirely resembled those gigantic tropical spiders, which we see exhibited in museums.
The rocks, like many others which we had now seen, i8i8-r82o]
Nuttall's Journal
are still arenilitic, and apparently destitute of organic
remains. From the enormous dislocated masses and
gaping chasms which here border the precipice, I am
strongly inclined to believe, that this ridge had, at some
period, been convulsed by an earthquake.
In the course of my inquiries concerning minerals, I
was told of the existence of a silver mine, somewhere along
the banks of White river, but though the opinion is a very
prevalent one, it is necessary to receive it with caution.
Fragments of pyrites, as [129] usual, have been shown to
me for precious ores, and the true statement of their value,
so contrary to sanguine expectation, is often treated as
an imposition to conceal their importance.
Mr. Walter Webber, a metif, who acts as an Indian
trader, is also a chief of the nation, and fives in ease and
affluence, possessing a decently furnished and well provided house, several negro slaves, a large, well cleared,
and well fenced farm; and both himself and his nephew
read, write, and speak English. Yesterday, while passing along the bank of the river, I observed with pleasure
the fine farms and comfortable cabins occupied by the
Indians, and found them very busily employed felling
trees, and clearing their grounds preparatory to the seedtime. The failure, however, of last year's crops, in consequence of the dry weather, was severely felt, and more
particularly in consequence of the arrival among them of
many ill-provided families of emigrants from the old
In the evening, the brother of their late principal chief
Tallantusky,148 arrived here, accompanied by his wife and
148 Tallantusky (Tollontuskee, Tollunteeskee, Tolontusky, Talootiske, etc.)
was one of the chiefs who signed the treaty of October 25, 1805, at Tellico, Tennessee.    This rewarded Tallantusky and another chief, Doublehead, by certain
iii ffyr^[
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 13
two or three other Indians. He last year took leave of
the old nation in the Mississippi territory, and embarked
with the emigrants, who are yet far from forming a majority of the nation. Being a half Indian, and dressed
as a white man, I should scarcely have distinguished him
from an American, except by bis language. He was very
plain, prudent, and unassuming in his dress and manners;
a Franklin amongst his countrymen, and affectionately
called the "beloved" father. Sensible to the wants of
those who had accompanied him in his emigration, he had
confidently expected a supply of flour and salt from Mr.
Drope, all of which articles had, however, been sold below, excepting a small quantity reserved for the chief himself. He could have sent, he said, some of his people down
to the mouth of the river, to purchase maize and flour,
but that it would interrupt them [130] in preparing their
fields for the ensuing crop. Mr. D., who had in the Mississippi territory become acquainted with Jolly,149 the
chief, tells me that his word was inviolable, and that his
secret reservations; and for this and further abuses of his power Doublehead
was afterwards slain by decree of other chiefs of his tribe. To Tallantusky
is due the establishment of the first mission among the Cherokee of Arkansas.
While visiting the eastern Cherokee in 1818, he met an officer of the American
Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, and invited him to send missionaries to his people. As the result, Cephas Washburn and Alfred Finney, accompanied by their families, established Dwight mission, opposite Dardanelle,
in the spring of 1820. The station was named in honor of Timothy Dwight,
the president of Yale College, and a pioneer organizer of the mission board.
Tallantusky's brother, here mentioned, was Jolly the chief, referred to in
the text a few lines below.    See following note.— Ed.
149 John Jolly (Oolooteka), brother of Tallantusky, and his successor as
chief, had removed from the mouth of the Hiawassee, in Tennessee. There
young Samuel Houston, famous later as the emancipator of Texas, had won his
friendship and been adopted as his son. After the Arkansas Cherokee had
removed to Indian Territory, Houston settled near Jolly (1829), and married
his niece, Talihina, daughter of a half-breed named Rogers. See post, note
153.— Ed. i8i8-i82o]
Nuttall's Journal
generosity knew no bounds, but the limitation of his
nth.] Returning from my rambles to-day, chiefly in
quest of insects, I picked off my skin and clothes more
than 50 ticks (Acarus sanguisugas), which are here more
abundant and troublesome than in any other part of
America in which I have yet been. Many of the same
kinds of insects, common to the banks of the Missouri,
and, indeed, to most parts of the United States, are also
found in this territory.
From the hills in the vicinity of Mr. Webber's, I obtained
a fine view of the Magazine mountain, and now found that
it was connected with a range of others, proceeding for
many miles a little to the north of west. The side which
here presents itself, appeared almost inaccessibly precipitous.
15th.] This afternoon, I had again the pleasure of seeing
the brother of the late governor Lewis, now Cherokee
agent, whom I had first met with at fort Mandan, on the
Missouri.150 From him I learn, that the progress of civilization among the Cherokees, is comparatively modern;
that Nancy Ward,181 called by way of eminence and
esteem "the beloved," first introduced among them the
domesticated cow.    From her have sprung several men
160 Reuben Lewis. See Bradbury's Travels, volume v of our series, note
93.— Ed.
161 Nancy Ward was born about 1740. Her father was a British officer,
and her mother a sister of the principal chief of the Cherokee. The Indians
believed her to be the inspired mouthpiece of the Great Spirit, and allowed her
a voice in their councils with the power of deciding the fate of captives. She
was friendly to the whites, and several times saved captives from death. In
1776 she warned the settlers of the Holston and Watauga rivers of the hostile
plans of her kinsmen, and in 1781 represented her tribe in seeking peace
from the frontiersmen. She is described as tall, erect, and beautiful, with prominent nose, regular features, clear complexion, long, silken black hair, large,
piercing black eyes, and an imperious yet kindly air.— Ed.
1 ■•?<
ÊM -■*
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 13
of distinction in the nation, by whose influence and example the condition of their Indian brethren has been
ameliorated. Her advice and council borders on supreme,
her interference is allowed to be decisive even in affairs
of life and death.
From the civilized Cherokees, with whom alone I could
conveniently hold converse, I found it extremely difficult
to acquire any knowledge, either of the traditions, opinions, or ancient customs of their nation. The humiliating
details of former poverty, [131] ignorance, and superstition, tended to wound the feelings of those, who, besides
the advantages, had also imbibed the pride and luxury of
Europe. If the Cherokees had only discarded their superstitions, and retained their social virtues, besides acquiring habits of industry, we might indeed congratulate them
on the change of their condition; but, unfortunately, with
the superior intelligence, conveniences, and luxuries of
civilization, have also been acquired that selfish attachment to property, that love of riches, which, though not
really intrinsic, have still the power to purchase sinister
interest, and separate the condition of men, and hence
arises that accumulation of laws and punishments, from
which the patriarchal state of those we call savages was
so happily exempt. No legal snares were laid for the
heedless; no gallows erected for the guilty; no contest
arose for wealth or power. Every tribe was but a single
family; their aged chief and his venerable associates were
as fathers, governors, and advisers. Their young men
considered themselves as brothers. No one was rich while
the others were poor; and they considered nothing of
value that was not essentially useful. As their frugal
wants were almost spontaneously supplied, they were
strangers alike to poverty and affluence; they boasted not
il -,k\ p
V- -  ? ^3Z;5"1 m
jgaMiiMHi "T*
Nuttall's Journal
of possessions; and were habitually hospitable to strangers. Scarcely sensible of want, they were alive to friendship and undissembled passions. Their pride, confined
to personal excellence, was always checked by the emulation of superior worth, sanctioned and acknowledged by
the approbation of the aged.
Almost unrestrained by artifice or moral education, we
should, perhaps, expect the man of nature to become the
prey of passion, like the irrational creation. Yet so nicely
balanced, in every situation, is the proportion of good and
evil allotted to humanity, that one stage of society has but
little advantage over another. [132] Nature is not a cruel
demon, nor delights in the accomplishment of destruction. Those who are fed by her frugal bounties are but
seldom hurried into excess; indeed, the nations of America
were stigmatized with apathy, so great was their command
of the social passions, and their magnanimity under suffering. But the dire hatred which they bore their enemies,
was a lasting proof of the strength of their affections, and
mutual attachment. They felt for each other as members of the same family, as sons of the same father; a
band of brothers mutually bound to defend and revenge
the cause of each other, by a just and undeviating system
of retaliation.
Their affection for those, whom time or casualty removed from the social circle, was as great and sincere, as
extravagant demonstration could possibly declare. Among
the Cherokees and others, the dead were not only accompanied by the choicest things which they had valued in
life, but even, if a chief or father, interred in the house
which had been his habitation, and which was thenceforth
devoted to ruin and desolation. So awful even was the
inanimate body then considered, that all who had imme- i88
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 13
diately attended the interment, or touched the corpse,
refrained from the company of their wives and families,
for the space of seven days and nights.
In no part of North America have we ever met with that
kind of irrational adoration called idolatry. All the
natives acknowledged the existence of a great, good, and
indivisible Spirit, the author of all created being. Believing also in the immortality of the soul, and in the existence of invisible agencies, they were often subjected to
superstitious fears, and the observance of omens and
dreams, the workings of perturbed fancy. By these imaginary admonitions, they sometimes suffered themselves
to be controlled in their most important undertakings, re-
linquishing every [133] thing which was accidentally
attended by any inauspicious presage of misfortune.
As among the Asiatics, and other imperfectly civilized
nations, the condition of the female sex bordered upon
degradation. Considered rather as objects of pleasure
and necessity, than as rational companions, several of
them often lived together in the house of the same husband.
However custom might have tolerated this habit, we are
happy to find that civilization tends to its abolition.
Polygamy among the Cherokees, without any legal restraint, will, in time, be spontaneously abandoned, as
their conjugal attachment appears to be strong and sincere.
Marriage among the Cherokees, as with most of the
natives, was formerly consummated with very little ceremony. When a young man became enamoured, it was
the custom modestly to declare his desire to marry through
the medium of some female relative, who exclusively conferred with the mother, the father never interfering. If
the mother agreed, and thought well of the proposal, it
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Nuttall's Journal
was immediately made known. If not, she put off making a direct answer by a reference to her brother or eldest
son. Consent being obtained of the mother, the bridegroom without much further conference with the bride,
was then told where she lay, and thenceforward admitted
to her bed.
From some cause or other, it appears, that the women
of the Cherokees frequently made use of means to promote abortion, which at length became so alarming, as to
occasion a resort to punishment by whipping.
In all stages of society regulations have existed, either
as controling customs, or written laws, whereby the conduct of men with each other was limited and restrained.
A system of equity was established, more or less strictly
according with justice, as influenced by exterior circumstances; thus life was claimed for [134] life, and objects
wrested from the weak or unsuspecting, restored by the
interference of moral power vested in superiors and rulers.
Among the Cherokees and other Indians of North America, the conviction of natural justice went so far as frequently to draw no distinction of punishment betwixt manslaughter and murder. Governed also by the idea of a
general fraternity existing throughout a tribe of people,
the brother of a murderer, or even his nearest relative was
not secure from- the fatal avenger, in the absence of the
principal. In consequence of this, it sometimes happened
that the brother became the executioner of his brother or
nearest relative, who had committed a murder, in order
to save himself from vengeance. He who had taken away
the life of another, either by malice or accident, was also
occasionally suffered to redeem it, by obtaining and presenting to the injured party, a scalp or a prisoner of the enemy,
as they were satisfied in any way to obtain life for life.
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An institution, I believe unparallelled in the policy of
the northern natives, except among the Cherokees and
Creeks (and which has been quoted by Mr. Adair152 in
order to prove an affinity with the Jews), was the existence of a town of refuge, inhabited by the supreme chief,
in which no blood was suffered to be shed, and into which
those who had committed manslaughter and other crimes
were suffered to enter on excusing themselves or professing
With the inequality of fortune which civilization has
introduced among the Cherokees, we find also a severity
in their legal punishments, to which they were formerly
strangers. Out of their salaries now received from government, they appropriate a certain sum towards the
support of a police, whose duty it is to punish those
who are guilty of crimes against the public. A man
who has for the first time been convicted of horsestealing, receives a punishment of 100 lashes, and for the
second offence 200, thus increasing [135] the punishment
for every additional offence. For stealing a cow 50 lashes
were inflicted, and so on, in proportion to the value of the
property stolen.
Mr. John Rogers,158 a very respectable and civilized
Cherokee, told me that one of the regulators happening to
have a relation who had been repeatedly guilty of theft,
and finding him incorrigible, he destroyed his eye-sight
with a penknife, saying, ' 'as long as you can see you will
162 See Long's Voyages, our volume ii, note 31.— Ed.
163 James Rogers signed the treaty of July 8, 1817, as one of the deputies
of the Cherokee on the Arkansas. Whether he is the John Rogers here referred
to does not clearly appear. John Rogers figures during the difficulties with the
Osage, as the person charged with the task of bringing Osage captives from the
Cherokee east of the Mississippi, not long after Nuttall's visit. Samuel Houston's wife, Talihina, was the daughter of a half-breed named Rogers, quite
possibly the person mentioned in the text.— Ed.
mM 1818-1820] Nuttall's Journal 191
steal, I will therefore prevent your thefts by the destruction of your sight." Dissatisfied with this system of punishment, many of the poor renegadoes fled from the bosom
of the Cherokee nation, and came to the banks of the
Arkansa and Red river. The same punishment for theft
will now, however, probably be established also in this
The former preparation of the warrior, among the
Cherokees, was more calculated to inspire fortitude under
suffering than courage in the field. The chief was ever
attentive to the admonition of dreams and omens. They
sung the songs of war, and imposed upon themselves the
most rigid fasts and mortifying ablutions, at all seasons of
the year, in order to obtain a favourable omen for their
departure. Day after day these privations and voluntary
sufferings were continued with fearful austerity, and those
who might express a wish for relaxation were desired to
leave the society.
The arrival of the Cherokees in this country did not
fail, as might have been foreseen, to excite the jealousy
of the Osages, within whose former territory they had now
taken up their residence. Major Lovely, the first agent
appointed to reside among the Cherokees of the Arkansa,
on his arrival held a council with the Osages at the falls of
the Verdigris, and about 60 miles distant from their village.
Some quarrel, however, about two years ago arising between the two nations, [136] the Osages way-layed 12 or
14 of the Cherokees and killed them. On this occasion,
the Cherokees collected together in considerable numbers,
and ascended the river to take revenge upon the Osages,
who fled at their approach, losing about 10 of their men,
who either fell in the retreat, or becoming prisoners, were
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reserved for a more cruel destiny. The Cherokees, now
forgetting the claims of civilization, fell upo