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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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       Early Western Travels
Volume XVIII
I (If-'
1 ra iiimimwwrimiHrai 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 XVIII
Pattie's Personal Narrative, 18 24-1830; Willard's Inland Trade
with New Mexico, 1825, and Downfall of the Fredonian
Republic; and Malte-Brun's Account of Mexico.
Cleveland, Ohio
The Arthur H. Clark Company
IO°5 Copyright 1905, by
Vtt fcifcefflit yte<»
Preface.    The Editor ......
Personal Narrative during an Expedition from St. Louis,
through The Vast Regions between that place and the Pacific
Ocean, and thence back through the City of Mexico to Vera
Cruz, during journeyings of six years; in which he and his
Father, who accompanied him, suffered unheard of Hardships and Dangers, had Various Conflicts with the Indians,
and were made Captives, in which Captivity his Father died;
together with a Description of the Country, and the Various
Nations through which they passed.   James O. Pattie, of
Kentucky, edited by Timothy Flint.
■ Copyright notice     ......
The first Editor's Preface.    Timothy Flint
Author's Introduction .....
Text    ........
The first Editor's Note.    Timothy Flint .
Inland Trade with New Mexico.   Doctor Willard, edited by
Timothy Flint     .......
Downfall of the Fredonian Republic.   Doctor Willard, edited by
Timothy Flint     .......
Mexico.   Some Account of its Inhabitants, Towns, Productions,
and Natural Curiosities.   Conrad Malte-Brun
37o i o Early Western Travels [Vol. 18
American trader appears to have sought this region for five
years. A party then outfitting from St. Louis was seized
at the New Mexican frontier, hurried to an inland dungeon,
and kept in durance nine miserable years. News of this
harsh treatment, and of the revolutionary movement which
was upheaving the social structure of all New Spain, proved
sufficiently deterrent to keep any organized expeditions
from risking the hazard of the Southwest trade, until the
third decade of the nineteenth century. More favorable
reports being then received, several caravans were fitted out,
and the real history of the Santa Fe" trail began.
Among the early merchants of St. Louis, the name of
Bernard Pratte, near relative of the Chouteaus and Labba-
dies, was connected with important fur-trading enterprises.
In the summer of 1824 Pratte's eldest son headed a caravan
destined for the Santa Fe, his party being rendezvoused at the
company's post upon the Missouri, not far from the present
site of Omaha. There, while waiting for its final equipment,
the expedition was reinforced by four free-traders who had
left their home upon the Gasconade River, the frontier of
Missouri settlement, and with a small outfit had ascended
the river to this point, bent on trading and hunting upon its
upper waters. Barred from their enterprise by the lack of
an authoritative license for dealing with the Indians, the
little band were easily persuaded to join Pratte's party.
Two of these recruits were the heroes of our tale — Sylvester
Pattie and his son James Ohio.
For three generations the Patties had been frontiersmen.
Restlessly they moved onward as the border advanced,
always hovering upon the outskirts of civilization, seeking
to better their condition by taking up fresh lands in untilled
places, and remorselessly fighting the aborigines who disputed
their invasion. They longed unceasingly for new adventures in the mysterious West, that allured them with its
strange fascination.    Brave, honest, God-fearing, vigorous 1824-1830]
in mind and body, dependent on their own resources, for
food and for defense chiefly dependent on the familiar rifle,
the Patties belonged to that class of Americans who conquered the wilderness, and yearly pushed the frontier westward.
The career of the grandfather and father of our author,
as in simple phrase he relates it in his Introduction, is
typical of those of the founders of Kentucky, and the early
settlers of the rich valley of the Missouri. To have early
emigrated from Virginia to Kentucky, to have aided in the
defense of Bryant's Station, and to have served under
Colonel Benjamin Logan, and the still more renowned Ken-
tuckian, George Rogers Clark, was unquestionable guaranty
to the proud title of pioneer. It was typical, also, that the
grandfather, having acquired some local fame and position,
and attained the rank of magistrate, the father, tiring of
Kentucky, should, like the Boones, join the stream of emigration to Missouri. There, history repeated itself. The War
of 1812-15 breaking out, the frontier blockhouses must again
withstand the assaults of savages. Lieutenant Pattie's
relief of Cap-au-Gris, upon the Missouri, takes rank with
Logan's Revolutionary exploits at St. Asaph's. The war
ended, and the country filling up, j 'Mr. Pattie, possessing a
wandering and adventurous spirit," once more removed to
the utmost borders of civilization, and built a mill upon the
rapid Gasconade. Here he was in a fair way to prosperity,
when domestic affliction sent him forth into the wilderness,.
taking with him his eldest son, who "inheriting the love of
a rifle through so many generations, and nursed amid such
scenes, he begged so earnestly of his father that he might be
allowed to accompany the expedition, that he prevailed."
Thus began that long series of adventures, so full of hazard
and suffering that their unvarnished narration would seem
the invention of romance, did not one often find counterparts in the experiences of other Western wanderers. 12 Early Western Travels [Vol. 18
Recruited to the number of a hundred and sixteen,
Pratte's caravan advanced first toward the Pawnee villages
of the Platte. Because of his long experience in border
warfare, Sylvester Pattie was now chosen commander, and
thereafter arranged the details of march and guard. The
Pawnee were inclined to be friendly, their chiefs having
recently visited the Great Father at Washington; but in
rescuing an ill-treated native child, captured by them on a
recent raid against a hostile itribe, the whites were nearly
embroiled with these pirates of the plains. Securing the
little waif, also some Indian guides, the Pawnee were
left behind August n, 1824, and the advance to the
Southwest begun. Day after day the party toiled across
the plains, their journey filled with stirring incident.
Once, prepared to fight a band of from six to eight hundred well-mounted Comanche, the whites were rescued
by a rival tribe of horsemen, who, "with a noise like
distant thunder," swept in between the hostile lines, and
won the battle for them. Again, amid a vagrant party
of Indians, the father of the little captive suddenly appeared, and presented the captain of the expedition with
tokens of his gratitude for the rescue. Upon the twentieth
of August, buffalo were first encountered; and twenty days
later, on the ridge between the waters of the Kansas and the
Arkansas, young Pattie was introduced to that then formidable enemy, the grizzly bear. From that time forward,
these fierce creatures attacked the camp almost nightly; on
one occasion, a member of the party was caught and so
maimed by a grizzly that he shortly after died of his wounds.
On the twentieth of October the caravan reached the
mountains, and after a difficult crossing descended into the
attractive valley of Taos, the New Mexican frontier. Pattie
was surprised at the primitive life and customs of the inhabitants of New Mexico, of which in a few unadorned sentences
he gives us a vivid picture.    Passing on to Santa Fe, the 1824-1830]
ancient capital, our adventurers were just in time to join
a punitive expedition against a hostile band of Indians,
wherein the junior Pattie had the good fortune to rescue
from the hands of the savages a charming young Spanish
maiden, daughter of a former governor of the province.
The gratitude of the fair captive and of her father was profusely expressed, and their friendship proved of lasting
value to the gallant narrator.
Obtaining permission from the New Mexican government
to trap upon the Gila River, the Patties organized a small
party for that purpose. Leaving Santa F6 on November 22,
they passed down the Rio del Norte to Socorro, and then
struck across country to the Gila, visiting en route the
famous copper mines of Santa Rita. The trip extended
through nearly five months, and the hunters were probably
the first Americans to visit the upper valley of the Gila.
Many of the natives having never seen a white man, fled at
their approach; but others were more bold, and viciously
attacked them with their arrows. James's appearance upon
his return to the New Mexican settlements was so haggard
that the rescued Spanish girl shed tears upon observing his
Securing fresh supplies, the party set out to bring in their
buried furs from the Gila, only to find that the Indians had
discovered and rifled their cache; thus had their hardships
and sufferings gone for naught. Returning to the mines,
they succeeded in repelling an attack thereon by hostile
Apache, and in wringing from them a treaty which ensured
the peaceful working of the deposits; whereupon the Spaniards rented these works to Sylvester Pattie, whose American
methods enabled him to derive from them a profit unknown
to their former operators. But the tranquil life at Santa
Rita proved too monotonous for the younger Pattie. He
was seized with ' 'an irresistible desire to resume the employment of trapping," and despite paternal remonstrances set
14 Early Western Travels [Vol. 18
out January 26, 1826, with a few companions, for the Gila
valley, where he had already suffered and lost so much.
During the following eight months, the range of the trappers' journey was wide. Passing down the Gila to its
junction with the Colorado, they ascended the banks of the
latter stream, seeing in its now world-famous canons only
walls of highly-colored rock that debarred them from the
water's edge. Crossing the continental divide, probably at
the South Pass, they emerged upon the plains, and once
more hunted buffalo in their native habitat. Turning north
to the Big Horn and Yellowstone, the adventurers pursued
a somewhat ill-defined course, coming back upon the upper
Arkansas, and crossing to Santa Fe, where Pattie was again
deprived of the harvest of furs gathered with such wearisome
labor — this time by the duplicity of the Spanish governor,
who claimed that the young man's former license did not
extend to this expedition. After once more visiting the
gentle Jacova, his young Spanish friend, Pattie sought his
father at Santa Rita. Delaying there but three days for
rest, he set forth upon another excursion afield — this time
to Sonora, Chihuahua, and other provinces of northern
Mexico, returning by way of El Paso, and reaching the
mines by the middle of November.
The winter and spring were spent in occasional hunting
excursions, and in visits to the Spanish haciendas. In the
spring, a new turn was given to the fortunes of the Patties,
by the embezzlement and flight of a trusted Spanish subordinate, through whom were lost the savings of several years.
Forced to abandon their mining operations, father and son
sought to rehabilitate themselves by another extended trapping expedition, and set forth with a company of thirty,
again in the direction of the Gila.
Engagements with hostile Indians were of frequent occurrence. Early in November, many of their party having
deserted and all of their horses being stolen, the remainder 1824-1830]
built themselves canoes, and embarked upon the river.
Communication with the natives being only possible through
the sign language, our adventurers misunderstood their
informants to declare that a Spanish settlement existed at
the mouth of the Colorado; and in expectation of here finding succor, they continued down that great waterway to its
mouth. There they met with nothing but deserted shores,
and tidal waves which seriously alarmed and disturbed these
fresh-water voyagers. Finding the ascent of the swift current beyond their powers, they had now no recourse but to
bury their store of furs, and strike across the rugged peninsula of Lower California toward the Spanish settlements on
the Pacific coast. The story of their sufferings in the salt
lakes and deserts of this barren land is told with more vigor
than delicacy. Arrived at a Dominican mission on the
western slope of the mountains, the weary travellers were
received with suspicion rather than hospitality. Being
placed under surveillance, they were forwarded to San
Diego, then the residence of the governor of the Spanish
settlements of California.
We now come to a most interesting portion of Pattie's
book — his residence in California, in the time of the Mexican regime, and, his report of conditions and events in the
"land of the golden fleece." According to his account, he
and his companions were at first treated with severity, being
imprisoned at San Diego for lack of passports, and there
detained for many months. The elder Pattie died in his cell,
without being permitted to see the son for whose presence
he had piteously pleaded in his latest hours. Young Pat-
tie's hatred for the Mexican governor was not unnatural; but
the consequent bitterness of expression quite distorts his
narrative. A Mexican tradition reports that the Patties
were received by the inhabitants with wonder, and treated
kindly; also that the elder Pattie embraced the Catholic
faith before his death, and expressed his appreciation of the mmmm
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 18
hospitality shown them. We may infer even from the son's
statements, since his chief anathemas are reserved for the
officers and the priests, that the unofficial population disapproved of the governor's measures.
Pattie was at last released, in recognition of his services
as an interpreter, and in order that he might vaccinate the
natives of the missions, among whom a smallpox epidemic
had broken out.   The adventurer now set forth up the coast,
stopping in turn at each mission and presidio, and presenting
us with a graphic picture of the pastoral life of the neophytes
and rancheros.    Arrived at San Francisco, he pushed on to
the Russian fort on Bodega Bay, returning to Monterey in
time to describe and participate in the Solis revolt of 1829.
Here he consorted with the small American colony, and in
his narrative probably magnifies his own part in this affair,
which, seen through the mists of memory, bulked larger
than the facts would warrant.   At Monterey he encountered
his old enemy, Governor Echeandia, who with apparent surprise found his former captive among those who had aided
in suppressing the revolt.    Proffered Mexican citizenship,
Pattie represents himself as showering reproaches on the
governor for the indignities he had suffered.    Advised by
his new friends to make a formal statement of his injuries,
and the losses suffered by refusal to permit the securing of
his furs, Pattie embarked for Mexico in May, 1830, together
with the revolutionists who were being sent to the capital for
trial.   Upon his departure he conveys his impressions of
Alta California in a few striking sentences:   "Those who
traverse it [the California coast] . . . must be constantly
excited to wonder and praise.    It is no less remarkable for
uniting the advantages of healthfulness, a good soil, a temperate climate, and yet one of exceeding mildness, a happy
mixture of level and elevated ground, and vicinity to the
sea."   He then proceeds to animadvert upon the inhabitants
and the conduct of the mission padres in their treatment of
the natives.   The companions of his long and adventurous 1824-1830]
journey he left settled among the Mexicans; most of them
made California their permanent home.
At the City of Mexico, Pattie visited the American diplomatic representative, also the president of the republic, but
failed to obtain satisfaction for his losses or injuries. On
the way to Vera Cruz, Pattie's travelling party met with an
incident then common to travel in Mexico — being halted
by the outlawed followers of the recently-deposed president,
their arms seized, one of their number hanged, and the
remainder relieved of their valuables. From Vera Cruz
our adventurer found passage to New Orleans; thence,
through the kindly help of compatriots, who loaned him
money for the steamboat passage, he ascended the Mississippi to Cincinnati and his early Kentucky home. Here
the narrative closes. The only clue we have in reference
to his after life, is the one given by H. H. Bancroft, the historian, who thinks he was again in San Diego, California,
after the American advent.1
When poor Pattie arrived in Cincinnati, August 30, 1830,
he not only was penniless, but long incarceration in Mexican
prisons had broken his health and spirits. The tale of his
adventures was doubtless received with slight credence by
his simple relatives. But the Reverend Timothy Flint, the
young editor of the Western Monthly Review of Cincinnati,
who was already enamored of stories of Western pioneering,
prevailed upon Pattie to write an account of his curious
experiences. Thus originated the Personal Narrative,
which we now republish in full for the first time.2
1 Bancroft, History of California, iii, p. 171, note 44.
2 The first edition was published at Cincinnati in 1831; this is, however, less
commonly seen than one dated 1833. Both are, however, from the same plates,
and differ only in date and style of title-page and form of copyright clause. We
follow the earlier edition, in these respects. In 1847, one Bilson published a book
in New York under the title, The Hunters of Kentucky; or, the trials and toils of
traders and trappers during an expedition to the Rocky Mountains, New Mexico
and California, in which much of Pattie's narrative was incorporated verbatim.
Harper's Magazine, xxi, pp. 80-94, also gives a resume of Pattie's adventures, with
slight embellishments.
Hi i8
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 18
Pattie appears to have written from memory, without the
aid of notes taken on the journey — a fact which accounts for
the occasional discrepancies in dates, and the obvious confusion of events. Upon the whole, however, the narrative
impresses the reader with a sense of its verity, and has the
charm of simplicity and vigor. The emendations of the
editor, we are assured, were chiefly in the matters of orthography and punctuation, "with the occasional interposition
of a topographical illustration, which my acquaintance with
the accounts of travellers in New Mexico, and published
views have enabled me to make." It is probable that we
thus owe to Flint most of the descriptions of scenery, for
there is abundant textual evidence that Pattie was not possessed of a poetic fancy. To expand the dimensions of the
book, Flint added an article on ' ■ Inland Trade with New
Mexico," composed chiefly of extracts from the journal of
a Doctor Willard, who in May, 1825, set out from St. Charles,
Missouri, with an overland party bound for Santa Fe\
Thence, practicing medicine on the way, he visited Chihuahua and the northeastern provinces of Mexico, ending his
journey at Matamoras. This article, together with another
by the same author, on the 'c Downfall of the Fredonian
Republic," also included in the volume, had appeared three
years before in Flint's magazine. The volume closes with
an extract on Mexican manners and customs, from Malte-
Brun's G&ographie universelle.
A thrilling tale of pure adventure, ranging all the way from
encounters with grizzly bears, and savages who had never
before seen a white man, to a revolution in a Latin-American
state, Pattie's narrative has long been a classic. Its chief
value to the student of Western history depends upon the
vast extent of country over which the author passed, the
ethnological data which he presents, especially in relation to
the Southwestern tribes, and his graphic picture of the contact between two civilizations in the Southwest, with the 1824-1830]
inevitable encroachments of the more progressive race.
One sees in his pages the beginnings of the drama to be
fought out in the Mexican War — the rich and beautiful
country, which excited the cupidity of the American pioneer;
the indolence and effeminacy of the inhabitants, which
inspired the virile backwoodsmen's contempt; and the
vanguard of the American advance, already touching the
Rockies, and ready to push on to the Pacific. The Spanish-
American official, displaying his little brief authority, but
irritated the restless borderer, whose advent he dreaded, and
whose pressure finally proved irresistible. As a part of the
vanguard of the American host that was to crowd the Mexican from the fair northern provinces of his domain, Pattie's
wanderings are typical, and suggestive of more than mere
adventure. His book is well worthy of reproduction in our
The present Editor is under obligations to Louise Phelps
Kellogg, Ph.D., and Edith Kathryn Lyle, Ph.D., for assistance in preparing this volume for the press.
R. G. T.
Madison, Wis., July, 1905.
M ;' \ Pattie's Personal Narrative of a Voyage
to the Pacific and in Mexico
June 20, 1824-August 30, 1830
Reprint of the original edition:  Cincinnati, 1831
V- I
mmmm ■.umiriiMimi
BE it Remembered, that on the 18th day of Oct., Anno Domini
1831; John H. Wood, of the said District, hath deposited in this
office, the title of a Book, the title of which is in the words following,
to wit:
"The Personal Narrative of James O. Pattie, of Kentucky, during an expedition
from St. Louis, through the vast regions between that place and the Pacific ocean,
and thence back through the city of Mexico to Vera Cruz, during journeyings of
six years; in which he and his father who accompanied him, suffered unheard of
hardships and dangers; had various conflicts with the Indians, and were made
captives, in which captivity his father died, together with a description of the country, and the various nations through which they passed."
The right whereof he claims as proprietor, in conformity with an act of Congress,
entitled "An act to amend the several acts respecting copyrights."
Clerk of the District. EDITOR'S  PREFACE1
It has been my fortune to be known as a writer of works
of the imagination. I am solicitous that this Journal should
lose none of its intrinsic interest, from its being supposed
that in preparing it for the press, I have drawn from the
imagination, either in regard to the incidents or their coloring. For, in the literal truth of the facts, incredible as some
of them may appear, my grounds of conviction are my
acquaintance with the Author, the impossibility of inventing
a narrative like the following, the respectability of his relations, the standing which his father sustained, the confidence
reposed in him hy the Hon. J. S. Johnston,2 the very respectable senator in congress from Louisiana, who introduced
him to me, the concurrent testimony of persons now in this
city, who saw him at different points in New Mexico, and
1 Timothy Flint (1780-1840) was a native of Reading, Massachusetts. Graduated from Harvard College (1800), he became a Congregational minister, and in
1815 went as a missionary to the Far West. Until 1822 his headquarters were at
St. Charles, Missouri; in that year he descended the Mississippi in a flatboat and
settled in Louisiana, conducting a seminary on Lake Pontchartrain. HI health
compelled him to return to the North (1825), and thereafter he gave his attention to
literature. For three years he edited the Western Review at Cincinnati; but later,
removing to New York (1833), conducted the Knickerbocker Magazine. In addition to publishing a number of romances and biographies of Western life, he was
the author of two well-known books on the West: Recollections of the Last Ten
Years Passed in the Valley of the Mississippi (1826), and Condensed History and
Geography of the Western Stales (1828).— Ed.
1 Josiah Stoddard Johnston was bom in Salisbury, Connecticut (1784), but
when a small boy removed with his parents to Washington, Kentucky. He was
graduated from Transylvania University (1805), and soon after began the practice
of law in Alexandria, a frontier village of Louisiana. Gaining reputation as a
lawyer, he served as district judge from 1812-21, was elected to the 17th congress,
and in 1823 became a member of the federal senate, where he supported a protective
tariff and the other measures advocated by Henry Clay. In 1833, Johnston was
killed in the explosion of the steamboat "Lyon," on Red River.— Ed. 2.6 Early Western Travels [Vol. 18
the reports, which reached the United States, during the
expedition of many of the incidents here recorded.
When my family first arrived at St. Charles' in 1816, the
fame of the exploits of his father, as an officer of the rangers,
was fresh in the narratives of his associates and fellow soldiers. I have been on the ground, at Cap au Gris, where
he was besieged by the Indians. I am not unacquainted
with the scenery through which he passed on the Missouri,
and I, too, for many years was a sojourner in the prairies.
These circumstances, along with a conviction of the truth
of the narrative, tended to give me an interest in it, and to
qualify me in some degree to judge of the internal evidences
contained in the journal itself, of its entire authenticity. It
will be perceived at once, that Mr. Pattie, with Mr. McDuffie,
thinks more of action than literature, and is more competent
to perform exploits, than blazon them in eloquent periods.
My influence upon the narrative regards orthography, and
punctuation [iv] and the occasional interposition of a topographical illustration, which my acquaintance with the accounts of travellers in New Mexico, and published views of
the country have enabled me to furnish. The reader will
award me the confidence of acting in good faith, in regard
to drawing nothing from my own thoughts. I have found
more call to suppress, than to add, to soften, than to show in
stronger relief many of the incidents. Circumstances of
suffering, which in many similar narratives have been given
in downright plainness of detail, I have been impelled to
leave to the reader's imagination, as too revolting to be
The very texture of the narrative precludes ornament and
amplification. The simple record of events as they transpired, painted by the hungry, toil-worn hunter, in the midst
of the desert, surrounded by sterility, espying the foot print
of the savage, or discerning him couched behind the tree
or hillock, or hearing the distant howl of wild beasts, will
I 1824-1830]
Pattie's Personal Narrative
naturally bear characteristics of stern disregard of embellishment. To alter it, to attempt to embellish it, to divest it of
the peculiar impress of the narrator and his circumstances,
would be to take from it its keeping, the charm of its simplicity, and its internal marks of truth. In these respects I
have been anxious to leave the narrative as I found it.
The journalist seems in these pages a legitimate descendant of those western pioneers, the hunters of Kentucky, a
race passing unrecorded from history. The pencil of biography could seize upon no subjects of higher interest. With
hearts keenly alive to the impulses of honor and patriotism,
and the charities of kindred and friends; they possessed
spirits impassible to fear, that no form of suffering or death
could daunt; and frames for strength and endurance, as if
ribbed with brass and sinewed with steel. For them to
traverse wide deserts, climb mountains, swim rivers, grapple
with the grizzly bear, and encounter the savage, in a sojourn
in the wilderness of years, far from the abodes of civilized
men, was but a spirit-stirring and holiday mode of life.
[v] To me, there is a kind of moral sublimity in the contemplation of the adventures and daring of such men. They
read a lesson to shrinking and effeminate spirits, the men of
soft hands and fashionable life, whose frames the winds of
heaven are not allowed to visit too roughly. They tend to
re-inspire something of that simplicity of manners, manly
hardihood, and Spartan energy and force of character, which
formed so conspicuous a part of the nature of the settlers
of the western wilderness.
Every one knows with what intense interest the community
perused the adventures of Captain Riley,8 and other intrepid
3 James Riley (bom in Connecticut, 1777, died at sea, 1840) was a sea captain,
who experienced some romantic adventures. In 1815 he sailed from Hartford on
the brig '' Commerce," was shipwrecked on the coast of Africa, and for eighteen
months held as a slave by the Arabs until ransomed by the British consul at Moga-
. dove. In 1817, Anthony Bleecker published from Riley's journals An Authentic
Narrative of the Loss of the American Brig Commerce, on the Western Coast of
Mm 28
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 18
mariners shipwrecked and enslaved upon distant and barbarous shores. It is far from my thoughts to detract from
the intrepidity of American mariners, which is known, where-
ever the winds blow, or the waves roll; or to depreciate the
interest of the recorded narratives of their sufferings. A
picture more calculated to arouse American sympathies
cannot be presented, than that of a ship's crew, driven by
the fierce winds and the mountain waves upon a rock bound
shore, and escaping death in the sea, only to encounter
captivity from the barbarians on the land. Yet much of the
courage, required to encounter these emergencies is passive,
counselling only the necessity of submission to events, from
which there is no escape, and to which all resistance would
be unavailing.
The courage requisite to be put forth in an expedition such
as that in which Mr. Pattie and his associates were cast,
must be both active and passive, energetic and ever vigilant,
and never permitted to shrink, or intermit a moment for
years. At one time it is assailed by hordes of yelling savages,
and at another, menaced with the horrible death of hunger
and thirst in interminable forests, or arid sands. Either
position offers perils and sufferings sufficiently appalling.
But fewer spirits, I apprehend, are formed to brave those
of the field,
'Where wilds immeasurably spread,
Seem lengthening as they go.'
than of the ocean, where the mariner either soon finds rest
beneath its tumultuous bosom, or joyfully spreads his sails
again to the breeze.
Africa, in the Month of August, 1815 with a Description of Tombucloo.
The book had a wide circulation both in England and America, but until other
survivors of the vessel returned and confirmed the account, was popularly sup- '
posed to be fictitious. In 1821 Riley settled in Van Wert County, Ohio, founding the town of Willshire, and in 1823 was elected to the legislature. He
resumed a seafaring life (1831), and an account of his later voyages and adventures was published by his son (Columbus, 1851).— Ed. INTRODUCTION
The grandfather of the author of this Journal, was born
in Caroline county, Virginia, in 1750. Soon after he was
turned of twenty-one, he moved to Kentucky, and became
an associate with those fearless spirits who first settled in the
western forests. To qualify him to meet the dangers and
encounter the toils of his new position, he had served in
the revolutionary war, and had been brought in hostile contact with the British in their attempt to ascend the river
He arrived in Kentucky, in company with twenty emigrant
families, in 1781, and settled on the south side of the Kentucky river. The new settlers were beginning to build
houses with internal finishing. His pursuit, which was that
of a house carpenter, procured him constant employment,
but he sometimes diversified it by teaching school. Soon
after his arrival, the commencing settlement experienced
the severest and most destructive assaults from the Indians.
In August, 1782, he was one of the party who marched to
the assistance of Bryant's station/and shared in the glory
of relieving that place by the memorable defeat of the savages.
Not long afterwards he was called upon by Col. Logan* to
join a party led by him against the Indians, who had gained
4 This station, five miles northeast of Lexington, had been established in 1779 by
four Bryan (later, Bryant) brothers from North Carolina, one of whom married a
sister of Daniel Boone. It contained about forty cabins in 1782 when, August 16, it
was attacked by a force of Canadians and Indians under the leadership of Simon
Girty. Failing to draw the men out of the stockade, as had been planned, the
Indians besieged the station until the following day, when they withdrew. For a
full account, see Ranck, "Story of Bryant's Station," Filson Club Publications,
xii.— Ed.
' For a brief sketch of Colonel Benjamin Logan, see A. Michaux's Travels,
volume iii of our series, p. 40, note 34.— Ed. qo Early Western Travels [Vol. 18
a bloody victory over the Kentuckians at the Blue Licks.6
He was present on the spot, where the bodies of the slain
lay unburied, and assisted in their interment. During his
absence on this expedition, Sylvester Pattie, father of the
author, was born, August 25, 1782.
In November of the same year, his grand-father was summoned to join a party commanded by Col. Logan, in an
expedition against the Indians at the Shawnee towns, in the
limits of the present state of Ohio.7 They crossed the Ohio
just below [viii] the mouth of the Licking, opposite the site of
what is now Cincinnati, which was at that time an unbroken
forest, without the appearance of a human habitation. They
were here joined by Gen. Clark8 with his troops from the
falls of the Ohio, or what is now Louisville. The united
force marched to the Indian towns, which they burnt and
Returning from this expedition, he resumed his former
occupations, witnessing the rapid advance of the country
from immigration. When the district, in which he resided,
was constituted Bracken county, he was appointed one of the
6 An account of the battle of the Blue Licks may be found in Cuming's Tour,
in our volume iv, pp. 176, 177.— Ed.
7 This expedition, to avenge the battle of the Blue Licks and the attack on
Bryant's Station, rendezvoused at the mouth of the Licking. A force of a thousand
mounted riflemen under George Rogers Clark marched thence against the Shawnee
towns in the neighborhood of the present Chillicothe. These were completely
destroyed, the expedition meeting with no resistance.— Ed.
8 A footnote cannot do justice to the services of General George Rogers Clark
in Western history. Born in Albemarle County, Virginia (1752), he became a
surveyor on the upper Ohio. Serving in Dunmore's campaign in 1774, the following
year he settled in Kentucky. Returning to Virginia to urge upon the legislature
the conquest of the Illinois territory, he was made a lieutenant-colonel and authorized to raise troops for the undertaking. June 24, 1778, he set out from the Falls
of the Ohio, upon his memorable campaign, capturing Kaskaskia July 4, and
Vincennes the following February. See Thwaites, How George Rogers Clark
won the Northwest, etc. (Chicago, 1903). The attack upon the Shawnee towns in
1782 was his last important work; an expedition up the Wabash against Detroit,
was undertaken in 1786; but part of the troops mutinied, and Clark was forced to
turn back before reaching his destination. He died at his sister's home, "Locust
Grove," near Louisville, in February, 1818.— Ed.
V 1824-1830]
Pattie's Personal Narrative
judges of the court of quarter sessions, which office he filled
sixteen years, until his place was vacated by an act of the
legislature reducing the court to a single judge.
Sylvester Pattie, the father of the author, as was common
at that period in Kentucky, married early, having only
reached nineteen. He settled near his father's house, and
there remained until there began to be a prevalent disposition
among the people to move to Missouri. March 14, 1812,
he removed to that country, the author being then eight
years old. Born and reared amidst the horrors of Indian
assaults and incursions, and having lived to see Kentucky
entirely free from these dangers, it may seem strange, that
he should have chosen to remove a young family to that
remote country, then enduring the same horrors of. Indian
warfare, as Kentucky had experienced twenty-five years
before. It was in the midst of the late war with England,
which, it is well known, operated to bring the fiercest assaults
of savage incursion upon the remote frontiers of Illinois and
To repel these incursions, these then territories, called
out some companies of rangers, who marched against the
Sac and Fox Indians, between the Mississippi and the lakes,
who were at that time active in murdering women and
children, and burning their habitations during the absence
of the male heads of families.9 When Pattie was appointed
lieutenant in one of these companies, he left his family at
St. Charles' where he was then residing.10 It may be
imagined, that the condition of his wife was  sufficiently
' The war with the Sauk and Foxes was part of the general War of 1812-15.
These Indians had in 1804 signed a treaty at St. Louis, by which they surrendered
all their lands in Illinois and Wisconsin. But the cession was repudiated by the
Rock River band of the united tribes, who eagerly joined with the British in the
hope of saving their hunting grounds. The noted warrior Black Hawk accepted
a commission in the British army.— Ed.
10 For the early history of St. Charles, see Bradbury's Travels, volume v of our
series, p. 39, note 9.— Ed. 32
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 18
lonely, as this village contained but one American [ix] family
besides her own, and she was unable to converse with its
French inhabitants. His company had several skirmishes
with the Indians, in each of which it came off successful.
The rangers left him in command of a detachment, in
possession of the fort at Cap au Gris.11 Soon after the main
body of the rangers had marched away, the fort was besieged
by a body of English and Indians. The besiegers made
several attempts to storm the fort, but were repelled by the
garrison.— The foe continued the siege for a week, continually firing upon the garrison, who sometimes, though
not often, for want of ammunition, returned the fire. Lieutenant Pattie, perceiving no disposition in the enemy to
withdraw, and discovering that his ammunition was almost
entirely exhausted, deemed it necessary to send a despatch
to Bellefontaine,12 near the point of the junction of the
Missouri and Mississippi, where was stationed a considerable
American force. He proposed to his command, that a
couple of men should make their way through the enemy,
cross the Mississippi, and apprize the commander of Bellefontaine of their condition. No one was found willing to
risk the attempt, as the besiegers were encamped entirely
around them.   Leaving Thomas McNair13 in command in
11 Cap-au-Gris is situated on the Mississippi a few miles above the mouth of
Cuivre River. In 1812 Fort Howard was erected near that point, for the protection
of the Missouri frontier; its name was in honor of the governor, Benjamin Howard.
Fort Howard was a shipping port of some importance until the advent of the railroads into that region, but it now exists only in name. The event here related was an
attack upon Fort Howard by Black Hawk and his band, immediately after the
siege of Fort Meigs (July, 1813).— Ed.
12 Fort Bellefontaine was established (1805) by General James Wilkinson,
governor of Louisiana, on the site of an old Spanish fort named Charles the Prince.
It was on the Missouri River, four miles above its junction with the Mississippi,
and was occupied by United States troops until the construction of Jefferson Barracks in 1827. For further details, see Thwaites, Original Journals of the Lewis and
Clark Expedition, v, p. 392, note 2.— Ed.
13 Thomas McNair was a son of Robert, a blacksmith living at Troy, about
eighteen miles west of Cap-au-Gris; and a nephew of Alexander McNair, governor
of Missouri (1820-24). The family had emigrated to St. Louis from Dauphin
County, Pennsylvania, about 1800.— Ed. 1824-1830]
Pattie's Personal Narrative
his place, and putting on the uniform of one of the English
soldiers, whom they had killed during one of the attempts
to storm the fort, he passed by night safely through the
camp of the enemy, and arrived at the point of his destination,
a distance of over forty miles: 500 soldiers were immediately
dispatched from Bellefontaine to the relief of the besieged
at Cap au Gris. As soon as this force reached the fort, the
British and Indians decamped, not, however, without
leaving many of their lifeless companions behind them.
Lieutenant Pattie remained in command of Cap au Gris,
being essentially instrumental in repressing the incursions
of the Sacs and Foxes, and disposing them to a treaty of
peace, until the close of the war.14 In 1813 he received his
discharge, and returned to his family, with whom he enjoyed
domestic happiness in privacy and repose for some years.
St. Louis and St. Charles [x] were beginning rapidly to improve; American families were constantly immigrating to
these towns. The timber in their vicinity is not of the best
kind for building. Pine could no where be obtained in
abundance, nearer than on the Gasconade, a stream that
enters on the south side of the Missouri, about one hundred
and fifty miles up that river. Mr. Pattie, possessing a
wandering and adventurous spirit, meditated the idea of
removing to this frontier and unpeopled river, to erect
Mills upon it, and send down pine lumber in rafts to St.
Louis, and the adjoining country. He carried his plan into
operation, and erected a Saw and Grist Mill upon the
Gasconade.16   It proved a very fortunate  speculation, as
14 As Pattie obtained his discharge in 1813, he must have yielded his command
to Lieutenant John McNair, brother of Thomas, who was stationed at Cap-au-Gris
during the latter part of the war. See Goodspeed, History of Lincoln County,
Missouri (Chicago, 1888), p. 224.
The Sauk and Foxes signed a treaty of peace in May, 1816, wherein they
acknowledged the cession of 1804; but the consequent removal across the Mississippi was one of the causes of the Black Hawk War (1832).— Ed.
u Gasconade River rises in southern Missouri, and flowing northeast empties
into the Missouri about a hundred miles above the tatter's junction with the Mississippi.— Ed.
I t   t
34 Early Western Travels [Vol. 18
there was an immediate demand at St. Louis and St. Charles
for all the plank the mill could supply.
In this remote wilderness, Mr. Pattie lived in happiness
and prosperity, until the mother of the author was attacked
by consumption. Although her husband was, as has been
said, strongly endowed with the wandering propensity, he
was no less profoundly attached to his family; and in this
wild region, the loss of a beloved wife was irreparable. She
soon sunk under the disorder, leaving nine young children.
Not long after, the youngest died, and was deposited by her
side in this far land.
The house, which had been the scene of domestic quiet,
cheerfulness and joy, and the hospitable home of the stranger,
sojourning in these forests, became dreary and desolate. Mr.
Pattie, who had been noted for the buoyancy of his gay
spirit, was now silent, dejected, and even inattentive to his
business; which, requiring great activity and constant attention, soon ran into disorder.
About this time, remote trapping and trading expeditions
up the Missouri, and in the interior of New Mexico began
to be much talked of. Mr. Pattie seemed to be interested
in these expeditions, which offered much to stir the spirit
and excite enterprise. To arouse him from his indolent
melancholy, his friends advised him to sell his property,
convert it into merchandize and equipments for trapping
and hunting, and to join in such an undertaking. To a man
born and reared under the circumstances [xi] of his early
life — one to whom forests, and long rivers, adventures, and
distant mountains, presented pictures of familiar and birth
day scenes — one, who confided in his rifle, as a sure friend,
and who withal, connected dejection and bereavement with
his present desolate residence; little was necessary to tempt
him to such an enterprise.
In a word, he adopted the project with that undoubting
and unshrinking purpose, with which to will is to accom- 1824-1830]
Pattie's Personal Narrative
plish. Arrangements were soon made. The Children were
provided for among his relations. The Author was at school;
but inheriting the love of a rifle through so many generations,
and nursed amid such scenes, he begged so earnestly of his
father that he might be allowed to accompany the expedition,
that he prevailed. The sad task remained for him to record
the incidents of the expedition, and the sufferings and death
of his father. 1 COMMENCEMENT OF THE
I pass by, as unimportant in this Journal, all the circumstances of our arrangements for setting out on our expedition;
together with my father's sorrow and mine, at leaving the
spot where his wife and my mother was buried, the place,
which had once been so cheerful, and was now so gloomy
to us. We made our purchases at St. Louis. Our company consisted of five persons. We had ten horses packed
with traps, trapping utensils, guns, ammunition, knives,
tomahawks, provisions, blankets, and some surplus arms,
as we anticipated that we should be able to gain some additions to our number by way of recruits, as we proceeded
onward. But when the trial came, so formidable seemed
the danger, fatigue, distance, and uncertainty of the expedition, that not an individual could be persuaded to share
our enterprize.
June 20, 1824, we crossed the Missouri at a small town
called Newport,19 and meandered the river as far as
Pilcher's fort,17 without any incident worthy of record, except
'that one of our associates, who had become too unwell to
travel, was left at Charaton, the remotest village on this
frontier of any size.18   We arrived at Pilcher's fort, on the
M Newport, now Dundee, is a small town on the Missouri, at the mouth of Buffalo
Creek, some sixty miles above St. Louis.— Ed.
17 This was an important place during the fur-trading era. It was more commonly known as Bellevue, and was situated about nine miles above the mouth of
the Platte. The first post was established about 1810, and soon passed into the
control of the Missouri Fur Company, under Joshua Pilcher — hence the name
of Pilcher's Post. For a sketch of Pilcher, see James's Long's Expedition, in our
volume xiv, p. 269, note 193.— Ed.
18 Chariton was about two hundred and twenty miles up the Missouri, at the
mouth of Chariton River.    In 1818 the sale of government land began in that
12 38
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 18
If,    :      9
13th day of July. There we remained, until the 28th,
waiting the arrival of a keel boat from below, that was partly
freighted with merchandize for us, with which we intended
to trade with the Indians.
On the 28th, our number diminished to four, we set off
for a trading establishment eight miles above us on the
Missouri, belonging to Pratte, Choteau and Company.19
In this place centres most of the trade with the Indians on
the upper Missouri. Here we met with Sylvester, son of
Gen. Pratte,20 who was on his way [14] to New Mexico, with
purposes similar to ours. His company had preceded him,
and was on the river Platte waiting for him.
We left this trading establishment for the Council Bluffs,
six miles above.21 When we arrived there, the commanding
officer demanded to see our license for trading with the
Indians. We informed him, that we neither had any, nor
were aware that any was necessary. We were informed,
that we could be allowed to ascend the river no higher
without one. This dilemma brought our onward progress
to a dead stand. We were prompt, however, in making
new arrangements. We concluded to sell our surplus arms
in exchange for merchandize, and change our direction from
the upper Missouri, to New Mexico. One of our number
was so much discouraged with our apparent ill success,
region, and the town sprang up with extraordinary rapidity. Many lots in St.
Louis were exchanged for lots in Chariton, but the site of the latter is now_a
farm.— Ed.
19 This was Cabanne's Post, nine or ten miles (by land) above Omaha. It was
established about 1822 for the American Fur Company, by J. P. Cabanne. He
remained in charge until 1833, and soon thereafter the company moved its trading
station to Bellevue.— Ed.
20 Silvester Pratte was born in St. Louis (1799), the son of Bernard Pratte, a
partner in the American Fur Company. He did not return from this expedition;
but died in New Mexico; see post.— Ed.
21 For the early history of Council Bluffs, see Brackenridge's Journal, volume vi
of our series, p. 78, note 28.— Ed. 1824-1830]
Pattie's Personal Narrative
and so little satisfied with this new project, that he came
to the determination to leave our ranks. The remainder,
though dispirited by the reduction of our number, determined not to abandon the undertaking. Our invalid
having rejoined us, we still numbered four. We remained
some time at this beautiful position, the Council Bluffs. I
have seen much that is beautiful, interesting and commanding in the wild scenery of nature, but no prospect above,
around, and below more so than from this spot. Our
object and destination being the same as Mr. Pratte's, we
concluded to join his company on the Platte.
We left the Bluffs, July 30th, and encamped the night after
our departure on a small stream, called the Elkhorn.22 We
reached it at a point thirty miles S. W. from the Bluffs. The
Pawnee Indians sometimes resort upon the banks of this
stream. The country is so open and bare of timber, that
it was with difficulty we could find sufficient wood to cook
with, even on the banks of the river, where wood is found,
if at all, in the prairie country.
Early the next morning we commenced our march up the
bottoms of the stream, which we continued to ascend, until
almost night fall, when we concluded to cross it to a small
grove of timber that we descried on the opposite shore,
where we encamped [15] for the night, securing our horses
with great care, through fear that they would be stolen by
the Indians.
In the morning, as we were making arrangements to
commence our march, we discovered a large body of Indians,
running full speed towards us. When they had arrived
within a hundred yards of us, we made signs, that they
must halt, or that we should fire upon them. They halted,
and we inquired of them, as one of our number spoke their
22 For Elkhorn River, see James's Long's Expedition, in our volume xiv, p. 240,
note 182.— Ed.
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 18
language, to what nation they belonged? They answered
the Pawnee.23 Considering them friendly, we permitted
them to approach us. It was on our way, to pass through
their town, and we followed them thither. As soon as we
arrived at their town, they conducted us to the lodge of their
chief, who posted a number of his warriors at the door,
and called the rest of his chiefs, accompanied by an interpreter. They formed a circle in the centre of the lodge.
The elder chief then fighting a pipe, commenced smoking;
the next chief holding the bowl of his pipe. This mode
of smoking differed from that of any Indians we had yet
seen. He filled his mouth with the smoke, then puffed
it in our bosoms, then on his own, and then upward, as he
said, toward the Great Spirit, that he would bestow upon
us plenty of fat buffaloes, and all necessary aid on our way.
He informed us, that he had two war parties abroad. He
gave us a stick curiously painted with characters, I suppose
something like hieroglyphics, bidding us, should we see any
of his warriors, to give them that stick; in which case they
would treat us kindly. The pipe was then passed round,
and we each of us gave it two or three light whiffs. We
were then treated with fat buffaloe meat, and after we had
eaten, he gave us counsel in regard to our future course, particularly not to let our horses loose at night. His treatment was altogether paternal.
Next morning we left the village of this hospitable old
chief, accompanied by a pilot, dispatched to conduct us to
Mr. Pratte's company on the Platte. This is one of the
three villages of the Republican Pawnees. It is situated
on the little Platte River,24 in the centre of an extensive
23 For the Pawnee Indians, consult Brackenridge's Journal, in our volume vi,
p. 6i, note 17.— Ed.
24 This is not the stream now known as the Little Platte, for which see James's
Long's Expedition, in our volume xiv, p. 174, note 141. Possibly it was Mapie Creek,
a stream which rises in the southern part of Stanton County, Nebraska, and flowing
westward through Dodge County joins the Elkhorn nearly opposite the town of mm
Pattie's Personal Narrative
prairie plain; having near [16] it a small strip of wood extending from the village to the river. The houses are cone-
shaped, like a sugar loaf. The number of lodges may
amount to six hundred.
The night after we left this village, we encamped on the
banks of a small creek called the Mad Buffaloe. Here we
could find no wood for cooking, and made our first experiment of the common resort in these wide prairies; that is,
we were obliged to collect the dung of the buffaloe for that
purpose. Having taken our supper, some of us stood guard
through the night, while the others slept, according to the
advice of the friendly chief. Next morning we commenced
our march at early dawn, and by dint of hard travelling
through the prairies, we arrived about sunset, on the main
Platte, where we joined Mr. Pratte and his company. We
felt, and expressed gratitude to the pilot, who, by his knowledge of the country, had conducted us by the shortest and
easiest route. We did not forget the substantial expression
of our good will, in paying him. He started for his own
village the same evening, accompanying us here, and returning, on foot, although he could have had a horse for the
At this encampment, on the banks of the Platte, we
remained four days, during which time we killed some
antelopes and deer, and dressed their skins to make us
moccasins. Among our arrangements with Mr. Pratte,
one was, that my father should take the command of this
Fontenelle. At the time of Major Long's expedition (1820), all the Pawnee villages
were situated within a few miles of each other, on the Loup fork of the Platte (see
volume xv of our series, pp. 144-149), while Pattie finds a Republican Pawnee
village within a day's march of the Elkhorn. Probably this was but a temporary
village, as Colonel Henry Dodge (r835) and later travellers describe the location on
the main Platte (see Senate Doc, 24 Cong., 1 sess., 209). Pattie is also the only
person who mentions more than one Republican Pawnee village. It seems likely
that he erroneously classed as Republican the other Pawnee villages, excepting that
of the Loups (which he mentions separately) — namely, the Grand and the Tapage
villages.— Ed.
1 42
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 18
company, to which proposition my father and our associates
consented. The honor of this confidence was probably
bestowed upon him, in consequence of most of the company
having served under him, as rangers, during the late war.
Those who had not, had been acquainted with his services
by general report.
In conformity with the general wish, my father immediately entered upon his command, by making out a list of
the names of the whole company, and dividing it into four
messes; each mess having to furnish two men, to stand
guard by reliefs, during the night. The roll was called,
and the company was found to be a hundred and sixteen.
We had three hundred mules, and some [17] horses. A
hundred of them were packed with goods and baggage.
The guard was posted as spies, and all the rest were ordered
to commence the arrangements of packing for departure.
The guard was detached, to keep at some distance from the
camp, reconnoitre, and discover if any Indians were lurking
in the vicinity. When on the march, the guards were
ordered to move on within sight of our flank, and parallel
to our line of march. If any Indians were descried, they
were to make a signal by raising their hats; or if not in
sight of us, to alarm us by a pistol shot. These arrangements gave us a chance always to have some little time to
make ready for action.
It may be imagined, that such a caravan made no mean
figure, or inconsiderable dust, in moving along the prairies.
We started on the morning of the 6th of August,25 travelling
up the main Platte, which at this point is more than a hundred
yards wide, very shallow, with a clean sand bottom, and
very high banks.   It is skirted with a thin belt of cotton-
25 The definiteness with which Pattie gives his dates, lends to his account an
appearance of accuracy, which an examination of the narrative does not sustain.
By his own enumeration of days after leaving Council Bluffs, this should be August
8. There is no indication that Pattie kept a journal, or that he wrote any account
of his travels before reaching California.— Ed. 1824-1830]
Pattie's Personal Narrative
wood and willow trees, from which beautiful prairie plains
stretch out indefinitely on either side. We arrived in the
evening at a village of the Pawnee Loups.28 It is larger
than the village of the Republican Pawnees, which we had
left behind us. The head chief of this village received us
in the most affectionate and hospitable manner, supplying
us with such provisions as we wanted. He had been all
the way from these remote prairies, on a visit to the city of
Washington. He informed us, that before he had taken the
journey, he had supposed that the white people were a small
tribe, like his own, and that he had found them as numberless as the spires of grass on his prairies. The spectacle,
however, that had struck liim with most astonishment, was
bullets as large as his head, and guns of the size of a log of
wood. His people cultivate corn, beans, pumpkins and
Here we remained five days, during which time Mr.
Pratte purchased six hundred Buffalo skins, and some
horses. A Pawnee war party came in from an expedition
against a hostile tribe of whom they had killed and scalped
four, and taken twenty horses. We were affected at the
sight of a little child, taken [18] captive, whose mother they
had killed and scalped. They could not account for bringing in this child, as their warfare is an indiscriminate
slaughter, of men, women and children.
A day or two after their arrival, they painted themselves
for a celebration of their victory, with great labor and care.
The chiefs were dressed in skins of wild animals, with the
hair on.— These skins were principally those of the bear,
wolf, panther and spotted or ring tailed panther. They wore
necklaces of bear's and panther's claws. The braves, as a
certain class of the warriors are called, in addition to the
26 For the Pawnee Loups see Bradbury's Travels, volume v of our series, p. 78,
note 44. An account of the visit of the Pawnee chiefs to Washington may be
found in Faux's Journal, volume xii of our series, pp. 48-52.— Ed.
.    !
v. i ' m
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 18
dress of the other chiefs, surmounted their heads with a
particular feather from a species of eagle, that they call the
war eagle.27 This feather is considered worth the price of
ten ordinary horses. None but a brave is permitted to
wear it as a badge. A brave, gains his name and reputation
as much by cunning and dexterity in stealing and robbing,
as by courage and success in murdering. When by long
labor of the toilette, they had painted and dressed themselves to their liking, they marched forth in the array of then-
guns, bows, arrows and war clubs, with all the other appendages of their warfare. They then raised a tall pole, on the
top of which were attached the scalps of the foes they had
killed. It must be admitted, that they manifested no small
degree of genius and inventiveness, in making themselves
frightful and horrible. When they began their triumphal
yelling, shouting, singing and cutting antic capers, it seemed
to us, that a recruit of fiends from the infernal regions could
hardly have transcended them in genuine diabolical display.
They kept up this infernal din three days. During all this
time, the poor little captive child, barely fed to sustain life,
lay in sight, bound hand and foot. When their rage at
length seemed sated, and exhausted, they took down the
pole, and gave the scalps to the women.
We now witnessed a new scene of yells and screams, and
infuriated gestures; the actors kicking the scalps about,
and throwing them from one to the other with strong expressions of rage and contempt. When they also ceased, in
the apparent satisfaction of gratified revenge, the men
directed their attention [19] to the little captive. It was
removed to the medicine lodge, where the medicine men
perform their incantations, and make their offerings to the
Great Spirit. We perceived that they were making preparations to burn the child.   Alike affected with pity and
27 This is the golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos). The tail-feathers are about a
foot long, and were especially prized by the Indians for decorative purposes.— Ed. 1824-1830]
Pattie's Personal Narrative
horror, our party appealed, as one man, to the presiding
chief, to spare the child. Our first proposition was to purchase it. It was received by the chief with manifest displeasure. In reply to our strong remonstrances, he gravely
asked us, if we, seeing a young rattlesnake in our path, would
allow it to move off uninjured, merely because it was too
small and feeble to bite? We undertook to point out the
want of resemblance in the circumstances of the comparison,
observing that the child, reared among them, would know
no other people, and would imbibe their habits and enmities,
and become as one of them. The chief replied, that he had
made the experiment, and that the captive children, thus
spared and raised, had only been instrumental, as soon as
they were grown, of bringing them into difficulties. 'It
is' said he, 'like taking the eggs of partridges and hatching
them; you may raise them ever so carefully in a cage; but
once turn them loose, and they show their nature, not only
by flying away, but by bringing the wild partridges into your
com fields: eat the eggs, and you have not only the food,
but save yourself future trouble.' We again urged that the
child was too small to injure them, and of too little consequence to give them the pleasure of revenge in its destruction. To enforce our arguments, we showed him a roll of
red broad cloth, the favorite color with the Indians. This
dazzled and delighted him, and he eagerly asked us, how
much we would give him. We insisted upon seeing the
child, before we made him an offer. He led us to the lodge,
where lay the poor little captive, bound so tight with thongs
of raw hide, that the flesh had so swelled over the hard and
dried leather, that the strings could no longer be perceived.
It was almost famished, having scarcely tasted food for four
days, and seemed rather dead than alive. With much
difficulty we disengaged its limbs from the thongs, and
perceiving that it seemed to revive, we offered him [20] ten
yards, of the. red cloth.    Expatiating upon the trouble and 1
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 18
danger of his warriors in the late expedition, he insisted,
that the price was too little. Having the child in our possession, and beginning to be indignant at this union of avarice
and cruelty, our company exchanged glances of intelligence.
A deep flush suffused the countenance of my father. 'My
boys,' said he, 'will you allow these unnatural devils to burn
this poor child, or practice extortion upon us, as the price
of its ransom?' The vehemence and energy, with which
these questions were proposed, had an effect, that may be
easily imagined, in kindling the spirits of the rest of us. We
carried it by acclamation, to take the child, and let them
seek their own redress.
My father again offered the chief ten yards of cloth, which
was refused as before. Our remark then was, that we
would carry off the child, with, or without ransom, at his
choice.— Meanwhile the child was sent to our encampment,
and our men ordered to have their arms in readiness, as we
had reason to fear that the chief would let loose his warriors
upon us, and take the child by force. The old chief looked
my father full in the face, with an expression of apparent
astonishment. 'Do you think' said he, 'you are strong
enough to keep the child by force?' 'We will do it,' answered
my father, 'or every man of us die in the attempt, in which
case our countrymen will come, and gather up our bones,
and avenge our death, by destroying your nation.' The
chief replied with well dissembled calmness, that he did
not wish to incur the enmity of our people, as he well knew
that we were more powerful than they; alledging, beside,
that he had made a vow never to kill any more white men;
and he added, that if we would give the cloth, and add to it
a paper of vermillion, the child should be ours. To this we
consented, and the contract was settled.
We immediately started for our encampment, where we
were aware our men had been making arrangements for a
battle.   We  had  hardly  expected,  under   these  circum- 1824-1830]
Pattie's Personal Narrative
stances, that the chief would have followed us alone into a
camp, where every thing appeared hostile. But he went on
with us unhesitatingly, [21] until he came to the very edge
of it. Observing that our men had made a breast work
of the baggage, and stood with their arms leaning against
it ready for action, he paused a moment, as if faltering in
his purpose to advance. With the peculiar Indian exclamation, he eagerly asked my father, if he had thought that
he would fight his friends, the white people, for that little
child ? The reply was, that we only meant to be ready for
them, if they had thought to do so. With a smiling countenance the chief advanced, and took my father's hand
exclaiming, that they were good friends. 'Save your
powder and lead,' he added, 'to kill buffaloes and your
enemies.'  So saying he left us for his own lodge.
This tribe is on terms of hostility with two or three of the
tribes nearest their hunting grounds. They make their
incursions on horseback, and often extend them to the
distance of six or seven hundred miles. They chiefly engage
on horseback, and their weapons, for the most part, consist
of a bow and arrows, a lance and shield, though many of
them at present have fire arms. Their commander stations
himself in the rear of his warriors, seldom taking a part in
the battle, unless he should be himself attacked, which is
not often the case. They show no inconsiderable military
stratagem in their marches, keeping spies before and behind,
and on each flank, at the distance of a few days travel; so that
in their open country, it is almost impossible to come upon
them by surprise. The object of their expeditions is quite
as often to plunder and steal horses, as to destroy their
enemies. Each one is provided with the Spanish noose, to
catch horses. They often extend these plundering expeditions as far as the interior of New Mexico. When-they have
reached the settled country, they lurk about in covert places,
until an opportunity presents to seize on their prey.    They )
48 Early Western Travels [Vol. 18
fall upon the owner of a large establishment of cattle and
horses, kill him during the night, or so alarm him as to cause
him to fly, and leave his herds and family unprotected; in
which case they drive off his horses, and secrete them in the
mountains. In these fastnesses of nature they consider them
safe; [22] aware that the Mexicans, partly through timidity,
and partly through indolence, will not pursue them to any
great distance.
We left this village on the nth of August, taking with us
two of its inhabitants, each having a trap to catch, and a
hoe to dig the beavers from their burrows. During this
day's march we traversed a wide plain, on which we saw
no game but antelopes28 and white wolves. At five in the
evening, our front guard gave the preconcerted alarm by
firing their pistols, and falling back a few moments afterwards, upon the main body.— We shortly afterwards discovered a large body of Indians on horseback, approaching
us at full speed. When they were within hailing distance,
we made them a signal to halt: they immediately halted.
Surveying us a moment, and discovering us to be whites,
one of them came towards us. We showed him the painted
stick given us by the Pawnee Republican chief. He seemed
at once to comprehend all that it conveyed, and we were
informed, that this was a band of the Republican Pawnee
warriors. He carried the stick among them. It passed
from hand to hand, and appeared at once to satisfy them
in regard to our peaceable intentions, for they continued
their march without disturbing us. But our two associate
Indians, hearing their yells, as they rode off, took them to
be their enemies, from whom they had taken the child.
They immediately disappeared, and rejoined us no more.
We travelled a few miles further, and encamped for the night
28 This animal is not, correctly speaking, an antelope, but constitutes a separate
family. The scientific name, Antilocapra americana, was assigned to it (1818) by
the naturalist Ord, upon data furnished by Lewis and Clark.— Ed. 1824-1830]
Pattie's Personal Narrative
on a small stream, called Smoking river.   It is a tributary
stream of the main Platte.    On this stream a famous treaty
had been made between the Pawnees and Shienne;29 and
from the friendly smoking of the calumet on this occasion-
it received its name.
Next morning we made an early start, and marched
rapidly all day, in order to reach water at night. We halted
at sunset to repose ourselves, and found water for our own
drinking, but none for our mules and horses. As soon as
the moon arose, we started again, travelling hard all night,
and until ten the next morning. At this time we reached a
most singular spring fountain, forming a basin four hundred
yards in diameter, in the centre [23] of which the water
boiled up five or six feet higher, than it was near the circumference. We encamped here, to rest, and feed our
mules and horses, the remainder of the day, during which
we killed some antelopes, that came here to drink.
Near this place was a high mound, from which the eye
swept the whole horizon, as far as it could reach, and on this
mound we stationed our guard.
Next morning we commenced the toil of our daily march,
pursuing a S. W. course, over the naked plains, reaching
a small and, as far as I know, a nameless stream at night,
on the borders of which were a few sparse trees, and high
grass. Here we encamped for the night. At twelve next day
we halted in consequence of a pouring rain, and encamped
for the remainder of the day. This was the first point,
where we had the long and anxiously expected pleasure of
seeing buffaloes. We killed one, after a most animating
sport in shooting at it.
Next day we made an early start, as usual, and travelled
hard all day over a wide plain, meeting with no other incidents, than the sight of buffaloes, which we did not molest.
29 For the Cheyenne Indians, see Bradbury's Travels, volume v of our series,
p. 140, note 88.— Ed.
50 Early Western Travels [Vol. 18
We saw, in this day's march, neither tree nor rising ground.
The plains are covered with a short, fine grass, about four
inches high, of such a kind, as to be very injurious to the
hoofs of animals, that travel over it. It seems to me, that
ours would not have received more injury from travelling
over a naked surface of rock. In the evening we reached
a small collection of water, beside which we encamped.
We had to collect our customary inconvenient substitute
for fuel, not only this evening, but the whole distance hence
to the mountains.
On the morning of the 17th, we commenced, as usual,
our early march, giving orders to our advance guard to kill
a buffaloe bull, and make moccasins for some of our horses,
from the skin, their feet having become so tender from the
irritation of the sharp grass, as to make them travel with
difficulty. This was soon accomplished, furnishing the
only incident of this day's travel. • We continued the next
day to make our way over the same wearying plain, without
water or timber, having been obliged [24] to provide more
of our horses with buffaloe skin moccasins. This day we
saw numerous herds of buffaloe bulls. It is a singular fact,
in the habits of these animals, that during one part of the
year, the bulls all range in immense flocks without a cow
among them, and all the cows equally without the bulls.
Theherd, which we now saw, showed an evident disposition
to break into our caravan. They seemed to consider our
horses and mules, as a herd of their cows. We prevented
their doing it, by firing on them, and killing several.
This evening we arrived on one of the forks of the Osage,30
80 Pattie is altogether too far north and west to meet the Osage River. The
distance from the Platte makes it fairly certain that he was on the Republican fork
of the Kansas. This stream rises in Colorado, and flows eastward across the arid
plains of southern Nebraska as far as longitude 980; it there enters the state of
Kansas, and following a southeasterly course unites with the Smoky Hill River at
Junction City, to form the Kansas. Its name arose from the fact that the village
of the Republican Pawnee was located upon it until about 1815, when these tribesmen joined the Pawnee upon the Platte.— Ed. 1824-1830]
Pattie's Personal Narrative
and encamped. Here we caught a beaver, the first I had
ever seen. On the 20th, we started late, and made a short
day's travel, encamping by water. Next morning we discovered vast numbers of buffaloes, all running in one direction, as though they were flying from some sort of pursuit.
We immediately detached men to reconnoitre and ascertain,
whether they were not flying from the Indians. They
soon discovered a large body of them in full chase of these
animals, and shooting at them with arrows. As their
course was directly towards our camp, they were soon
distinctly in sight. At this moment one of our men rode
towards them, and discharged his gun. This immediately
turned their attention from the pursuit of the game, to us.
The Indians halted a moment, as if in deliberation, and rode
off in another direction with great speed. We regretted
that we had taken no measures to ascertain, whether they
were friendly or not. In the latter case we had sufficient
ground to apprehend, that they would pursue us at a distance, and attack us in the night. We made our arrangements, and resumed our march in haste, travelling with
great caution, and posting a strong guard at night.
The next day, in company with another, I kept guard on
the right flank. We were both strictly enjoined not to fire
on the buffaloes, while discharging this duty. Just before we
encamped, which was at four in the afternoon, we discovered a herd of buffaloe cows, the first we had seen, and gave
notice on our arrival at the camp. Mr. Pratte insisted,
that we had mistaken, and said, that we were not yet far
enough advanced into the country, [25] to see cows, they
generally herding in the most retired depths of the prairies.
We were not disposed to contest the point with liim, but proposed a bet of a suit of the finest cloth, and to settle the point
by killing one of the herd, if the commander would permit
us to fire upon it. The bet was accepted, and the permission given.   My companion was armed with a musket, and 52
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 18
It   f
I with a rifle. When we came in sight of the herd, it was
approaching a little pond to drink. We concealed ourselves,
as they approached, and my companion requested me to
take the first fire, as the rifle was surer and closer than the
musket. When they were within shooting distance, I
levelled one; as soon as it fell, the herd, which consisted of
a thousand or more, gathered in crowds around the fallen
one. Between us we killed eleven, all proving, according
to our word, to be cows. We put our mules in requisition
to bring in our ample supply of meat. Mr. Pratte admitted, that the bet was lost, though we declined accepting it.
About ten at night it commenced raining; the rain
probably caused us to intermit our caution; for shortly after
it began, the Indians attacked our encampment, firing a
shower of arrows upon us. We returned their fire at random, as they retreated: they killed two of our horses, and
slightly wounded one of our men; we found four Indians
killed by our fire, and one wounded. The wounded Indian
informed our interpreter, that the Indians, who attacked
us, were Arrickarees.81 We remained encamped here four
days, attending our wounded man, and the wounded Indian,
who died, however, the second day, and here we buried
We left this encampment on the 26th, and through the
day met with continued herds of buffaloes and wild horses,
which, however, we did not disturb. In the evening we
reached a fork of the Platte, called Hyde Park.32 This
stream, formerly noted for beavers, still sustains a few.
Here we encamped, set our traps, and caught four beavers.
In the morning we began to ascend this stream, and during
31 For a brief description of the Ankara Indians, see Bradbury's Travels,
volume v of our series, p. 127, note 83.— Ed.
82 Pattie's geography is confused by his apparent ignorance of the Kansas and
its branches. Hyde Park is probably a tributary of the Republican — possibly
Beaver Creek, which rises in western Kansas and flowing northeasterly discharges
into the Republican in Harlan County, Nebraska.— Ed. 1824-1830]
Pattie's Personal Narrative
our progress, we were obliged to keep men in advance, to
affrighten the buffaloes and wild horses [26] from our path.
They are here in such prodigious numbers, as literally to
have eaten down the grass of the prairies.
Here we saw multitudes of prairie dogs.33 They have large
village estabhshments of burrows, where they live in society.
They are sprightly, bold and -self important animals, of the
size of a Norwegian rat. On the morning of the 28th, our
wounded companion was again unable to travel, in consequence of which we were detained at our encampment three
days. Not wholly to lose the time, we killed during these
three days no buffaloes, of which we saved only the tongues
and hump ribs.
On the morning of the 31st, our wounded associate being
somewhat recovered, we resumed our march. Ascending
the stream, in the course of the day we came upon the dead
bodies of two men, so much mangled, and disfigured by the
wild beasts, that we could only discover that they were white
men. They had been shot by the Indians with arrows, the
ground near them being stuck full of arrows. They had
been scalped. Our feelings may be imagined, at seeing the
mangled bodies of people of our own race in these remote
and unpeopled prairies. We consoled ourselves with believing that they died like brave men. We had soon afterwards
clear evidence of this fact, for, on surveying the vicinity, at
the distance of a few hundred yards, we found the bodies
of five dead Indians. The ground all around was torn and
trampled by horse and footmen. We collected the remains
of the two white men, and buried them. We then ascended
the stream a few miles, and encamped. Finding signs of
Indians, who could have left the spot but a few hours before,
we made no fire for fear of being discovered, and attacked
33 The journals of Lewis and Clark contain a good description of the prairie
dog (Cynomys or arctomys ludovicianus). See Thwaites, Original Journals of
the Lewis and Clark Expedition, index.— Ed.
1 1
54 Early Western Travels [Vol. 18
in the night. Sometime after dark, ten of us started up
the creek in search of their fires. About four miles from
our encampment, we saw them a few hundred yards in
advance. Twenty fires were distinctly visible. We counselled with each other, whether to fire on them or not. Our
conclusion was, that the most prudent plan was to return,
and apprize our companions of what we had seen. In consequence of our information, on our return, sixty men were
chosen, headed by my father, who set off in order [27] to
surround their camp before daylight. I was one of the
number, as I should have little liked to have my father go
into battle without me, when it was in my power to accompany him. The remainder were left in charge of our camp,
horses, and mules. We had examined our arms and found
them in good order. About midnight we came in sight of
their fires, and before three o'clock were posted all around
them, without having betrayed ourselves. We were commanded not to fire a gun, until the word was given. As it
was still sometime before daylight, we became almost impatient for the command. As an Indian occasionally arose and
stood for a moment before the fire, I involuntarily took aim
at him with fhe thought, how easily I could destroy him,
but my orders withheld me. Twilight at length came, and
the Indians began to arise. They soon discovered two of
our men, and instantly raising the war shout, came upon us
with great fury, Our men stood firm, until they received
the order which was soon given. A well directed and destructive fire now opened on them, which they received, and returned with some firmness. But when we closed in upon
them they fled in confusion and dismay. The action lasted
fifteen minutes. Thirty of their dead were left on the field,
and we took ten prisoners, whom we compelled to bury the
dead. One of our men was wounded, and died the next
day. We took our prisoners to our encampment, where we
questioned them with regard to the two white men, we had
HUtij'i. 1824-1830]
Pattie's Personal Narrative
found, and buried the preceding day. They acknowledged,
that their party killed them, and assigned as a reason for so
doing, that when the white men were asked by the chief to
divide their powder and balls with him, they refused. It
was then determined by the chief, that they should be killed,
and the whole taken. In carrying this purpose into effect,
the Indians lost four of their best young men, and obtained
but little powder and lead, as a compensation.
We then asked them to what nation they belonged ? They
answered the Crow.34 This nation is distinguished for
bravery and skill in war. Their bows and arrows were then
given them, and they were told, that we never killed defenceless prisoners, but [28] that they must tell their brothers of
us, and that we should not have killed any of their nation,
had not they killed our white brothers; and if they did so in
future, we should kill all we found of them, as we did not
fear any number, they could bring against us. They were
then allowed to go free, which delighted them, as they
probably expected that we should kill them, it being their
custom to put all their prisoners to death by the most
shocking and cruel tortures. That they may not lose this
diabolical pleasure by the escape of their prisoners, they
guard them closely day and night. One of them, upon
being released, gave my father an eagle's feather, saying,
you are a good and brave man, I will never kill another
white man.
We pursued our journey on the 1st of September. Our
advance was made with great caution, as buffaloes were now
seen in immense herds, and the danger from Indians was
constant. Wandering tribes of these people subsist on the
buffaloes, which traverse the interior of these plains, keeping
them constantly in sight.
On the morning of the 2d, we started early.    About ten
84 A short account of the Crow Indians may be found in Bradbury's Travels,
in our volume v, p. 226, note 121.— Ed. 56
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 18
o'clock we saw a large herd of buffaloes approaching us with
great speed. We endeavored to prevent their running
among our pack mules, but it was in vain. They scattered
them in every direction over the plain; and although we rode
in among the herd, firing on them, we were obliged to follow
them an hour, before we could separate them sufficiently to
regain our mules. After much labor we collected all, with
the exception of one packed with dry goods, which the crowd
drove before them. The remainder of the day, half our
company were employed as a guard, to prevent a similar
occurrence. When we encamped for the night, some time
was spent in driving the buffaloes a considerable distance
from our camp. But for this precaution, we should have
been in danger of losing our horses and mules entirely.
The following morning, we took a S. S. W. course, which
led us from the stream, during this day's journey. Nothing
occurred worthy of mention, except that we saw a great
number of [29] wolves, which had surrounded a small herd
of buffaloe cows and calves, and killed and eaten several.
We dispersed them by firing on them. We judged, that
there were at least a thousand. They were large and as
white as sheep. Near this point we found water, and
encamped for the night.
On the morning of the 4th, a party was sent out to kill
some buffaloe bulls, and get their skins to make moccasins
for our horses, which detained us until ten o'clock. We
then packed up and travelled six miles. Finding a lake,
we encamped for the night. From this spot, we saw one
of the most beautiful landscapes, that ever spread out to
the eye. As far as the plain was visible in all directions,
innumerable herds of wild horses, buffaloes, antelopes, deer,
elk, and wolves, fed in their wild and fierce freedom. Here
the sun rose, and set, as unobscured from the sight, as on
the wastes of ocean. Here we used the last of our salt, and
as for bread, we had seen none, since we had left the Pawnee m
■ ffT^
m 1
m 11
i 1824-1830]
Pattie's Personal Narrative
village.    I hardly need observe, that these are no small
The next day we travelled until evening, nothing occurring, that deserves record. Our encampment was near a
beautiful spring, called Bellefontaine, which is visited by
the Indians, at some seasons of the year. Near it were some
pumpkins, planted by the Indians. I cooked one, but did
not find it very palateable: The next day we encamped
without water. Late in the evening of the following day
we reached a stream, and encamped. As we made our
arrangements for the night, we came upon a small party of
Indians. They ran off immediately, but we pursued them,
caught four, and took them to the camp they had left, a little
distant from ours. It contained between twenty and thirty
women and children, beside three men. The women were
frightened at our approach, and attempted to run. The
Indians in our possession said something to them in their
own language, that induced them to stop; but it was sometime, before they were satisfied, that we intended them no
harm. We returned to our camp, and were attending to
our mules and horses. Our little Indian boy was playing
about the camp, as usual. [30] Suddenly our attention was
arrested by loud screams or cries; and looking up, we saw our
little boy in the arms of an Indian, whose neck he was
closely clasping, as the Indian pressed him to his bosom,
kissing him, and crying at the same time. As we moved
towards the spot, the Indian approached us, still holding
the child in his arms; and falling on his knees, made us a
long speech, which we understood only through his signs.
During his speech, he would push the child from him, and
then draw it back to him, and point to us. He was the father
of this boy, whom we saved from being burnt by the Pawnees. He gave us to understand by his signs, that his child
was carried off by his enemies. When the paroxysm of his
joy was past, we explained, as well as we could, how we ■ i\t:
60 Early Western Travels [Vol. 18
obtained the child. Upon hearing the name Pawnee, he
sprang upon his feet, and rushed into his tent. He soon came
out, bringing with him two Indian scalps, and his bow and
arrows, and insisted, that we should look at the scalps,
making signs to tell us, that they were Pawnee scalps, which
he took at the time he lost his child. After he finished this
explanation, he would lay the scalps a short distance from
him, and shoot his arrows through them, to prove his great
enmity to this nation. He then presented my father a pair
of leggins and a pipe, both neatly decorated with porcupine
quills; and accompanied by his child, withdrew to his tent,
for the night. Just as the morning star became visible, we
were aroused from our slumbers, by the crying and shouting
of the Indians in their tent. We arose, and approached it,
to ascertain the cause of the noise. Looking in, we saw
the Indians all laying prostrate with their faces to the
ground. We remained observing them, until the full light
of day came upon them.— They then arose, and placed themselves around the fire. The next movement was to light a
pipe, and begin to smoke. Seeing them blow the smoke
first towards the point where the sun arose, and then towards
heaven, our curiosity was aroused, to know the meaning of
what we had seen. The old chief told us by signs, that they
had been thanking the Great Spirit for allowing them to see
another day. We then purchased a few beaver [31] skins
of them, and left them. Our encampment for the evening
of this day, was near a small spring, at the head of which we
found a great natural curiosity. A rock sixteen yards in
circumference, rises from eighty to ninety feet in height,
according to our best judgment, from a surface upon which,
in all directions, not the smallest particle of rock, not even
a pebble can be found. We were unable to reach the top
of it, although it was full of holes, in which the hawks and
ravens built their nests. We gave the spring the name of
Rock Castle spring.    On the morning of the 9th, we left
w 1824-1830]
Pattie's Personal Narrative
this spot, and at night reached the foot of a large dividing
ridge, which separates the waters of the Platte from those
of the Arkansas.35 After completing our arrangements for
the night, "some of us ascended to the top of the ridge, to
look out for Indians; but we saw none. >$
The succeeding morning we crossed the ridge, and came
to water in the evening, where we encamped. Here we
killed a white bear,38 which occupied several of us at least
an hour. It was constantly in chase of one or another of
us, thus withholding us from shooting at it, through fear of
wounding each other. This was the first, I had ever seen.
His claws were four inches long, and very sharp. He had
killed a buffaloe bull, eaten a part of it, and buried the
remainder. When we came upon him, he was watching the
spot, where he had buried it, to keep off the wolves, which
literally surrounded him.
On the nth, we travelled over some hilly ground. In
the course of the day, we killed three white bears, the claws
of which I saved, they being of considerable value among
the Indians, who wear them around the neck, as the dis-
tmguishing mark of a brave. Those Indians, who wear
this ornament, view those, who do not, as their inferiors.
We came to water, and encamped early. I was one of the
guard for the night, which was rather cloudy. About the
middle of my guard, our horses became uneasy, and in a
few moments more, a bear bad gotten in among them, and
sprung upon one of them. The others were so much
alarmed, that they burst their fastenings, and darted off at
full speed. Our camp was soon aroused, and [32] in arms,
for defence, although much confused, from not knowing
what the enemy was, nor from what direction to expect the
35 Pattie is still among the tributaries of the Kansas. This must be the dividing
ridge between the sources of the Republican and Smoky Hill rivers.— Ed.
38 This is the grizzly bear {JJrsus horribilis), described satisfactorily for the first
time by Lewis and Clark, who also called it the white bear.— Ed. FI!
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 18
attack. Some, however, immediately set off in pursuit of
bur horses. I still stood at my post, in no little alarm, as I
did not know with the rest, if the Indians were around us
or not. All around was again stillness, the noise of those
in pursuit of the horses being lost in the distance. Suddenly
my attention was arrested, as I gazed in the direction, from
which the alarm came, by a noise like that of a struggle at
no great distance from me. I espied a hulk, at which I
immediately fired. It was the bear devouring a horse, still
alive. My shot wounded him. The report of my gun,
together with the noise made by the enraged bear, brought
our men from the camp, where they awaited a second
attack from the unknown enemy in perfect stillness.— Determined to avenge themselves, they now sallied forth, although
it was so dark, that an object ten steps in advance could
not be seen. The growls of the bear, as he tore up the
ground around him with his claws, attracted all in his direction. Some of the men came so near, that the animal saw
them, and made towards them. They all fired at him, but
did not touch him. All now fled from the furious animal,
as he seemed intent on destroying them. In this general
flight one of the men was caught. As he screamed out in
his agony, I, happening to have reloaded my gun, ran up
to relieve him. Reaching the spot in an instant, I placed
the muzzle of my gun against the bear, and discharging it,
killed him. Our companion was literally torn in pieces.
The flesh on his hip was torn off, leaving the sinews bare, by
the teeth of the bear. His side was so wounded in three
places, that his breath came through the openings; his head
was dreadfully bruised, and his jaw broken. His breath
came out from both sides of his windpipe, the animal in his
fury having placed his teeth and claws in every part of his
body. No one could have supposed, that there was the
slightest possibility of his recovery, through any human
means.   We  remained  in  our  encampment   three  days, 1824-1830]
Pattie's Personal Narrative
attending upon him, without seeing any change for the worse
or better in his situation. [33] He had desired us from the
first to leave him, as he considered his case as hopeless as
ourselves did. We then concluded to move from our encampment, leaving two men with him, to each of whom
we gave one dollar a day, for remaining to take care of him,
until he should die, and to bury him decently.
On the 14th we set off, taking, as we believed, a final leave'
of our poor companion. Our feelings may be imagined,
as we left this suffering man to die in this savage region,
unfriended and unpitied. We travelled but a few miles
before we came to a fine stream and some timber. Concluding that this would be a better place for our unfortunate
companion, than the one where he was, we encamped with
the intention of sending back for him. We despatched men
for him, and began to prepare a shelter for him, should he
arrive. This is a fork of Smoke Hill river, which empties
into the Platte.37 We set traps, and caught eight beavers,
during the night. Our companions with the wounded man
on a litter, reached us about eight o'clock at night.
In the morning we had our painful task of leave taking to
go through again. We promised to wait for the two we
left behind at the Arkansas river. We travelled all day up
this stream.— I counted, in the course of the day,.two hundred and twenty white bears. We killed eight, that made
an attack upon us; the claws of which I saved. Leaving
the stream in the evening we encamped on the plain. A
guard of twenty was relieved through the night, to prevent
the bears from coming in upon us. Two tried to do it and
were killed.
In the morning we began our march as usual: returning
37 Smoky Hill River, the main southern fork of the Kansas, takes its rise in
Colorado, arid receiving numerous tributaries in its eastward course of nearly four
hundred miles, unites with the Republican, to form the Kansas, about one hundred
and twenty miles from the mouth of the latter.— Ed.
H 64 Early Western Travels [Vol. 18
to the stream, we travelled until we came to its head.38 The
fountain, which is its source, boils up from the plain, forming
a basin two hundred yards in circumference, as clear as
crystal, about five feet in depth. Here we killed some wild
geese and ducks. After advancing some distance farther
we encamped for the night. Buffaloes were not so numerous,
during this day's journey, as they had been some time previous, owing, we judged, to the great numbers of white bears.
[34] On the 17th we travelled until sunset, and encamped
near water. On the 18th we found no water, but saw great
numbers of wild horses and elk. The succeeding morning
we set off before light, and encamped at 4 o'clock in the afternoon by a pond, the water of which was too brackish to
drink. On the 20th we found water to encamp by. In the
course of the day I killed two fat buffaloe cows. One of
them had a calf, which I.thought I would try to catch alive.
In order to do so, I concluded it would be well to be free
from any unnecessary incumbrances, and accordingly laid
aside my shot-pouch, gun and pistols. I expected it would
run, but instead of that, when I came within six or eight
feet of it, it turned around, and ran upon me, butting me
like a ram, until I was knocked flat upon my back. Every
time I attempted to rise, it laid me down again. At last I
caught by one of its legs, and stabbed it with my butcher
knife, or I believe it would have butted me to death. I
made up my mind, that I would never attempt to catch
another buffaloe calf alive, and also, that I would not tell
my companions what a capsizing I had had, although my side
did not feel any better for the butting it had received. I
packed on my horse as much meat as he could carry, and
set out for the camp, which I reached a little after dark.
My father was going in search of me, believing me either
lost, or killed. He had fired several guns, to let me know
the direction of the camp.
88 In Cheyenne County, Colorado.— Ed. 1824-1830]
Pattie's Personal Narrative
We travelled steadily on the 21st, and encamped at night
on a small branch of the Arkansas. During the day, we had
seen large droves of buffaloes running in the same direction,
in which we travelled, as though they were pursued. We
could, however, see nothing in pursuit. They appeared in
the same confusion all night. On the 22d, we marched fast
all day, the buffaloes still running before us. In the evening
we reached the main Arkansas, and encamped. The sky
indicating rain, we exerted ourselves, and succeeded in
pitching our tents and kindling fires, before the rain began
to fall. Our meat was beginning to roast, when we saw
some Indians about half a mile distant, looking at us from
a hill. We immediately tied our [35] mules and horses. A
few minutes after, ten Indians approached us with their
guns on their shoulders. This open, undisguised approach
made us less suspicious of them, than we should otherwise
have been. When they were within a proper distance, they
stopped, and called out Amigo, Amigo. One of our number understood them, and answered Amigo, which is friend,
when they came up to us. They were Commanches,39 and
one of them was a chief. Our interpreter understood and
spoke their language quite well. The chief seemed bold,
and asked who was our captain? My father was pointed
out to him. He then asked us to go and encamp with him,
saying that his people and the whites were good friends.
My father answered, that we had encamped before we knew
where they were, and that if we moved now, we feared that
the goods would be wet. The chief said, this was very good;
but that, as we now knew where his camp was, we must
move to it. To this my father returned, that if it did not
rain next morning, we would; but as before, that we did
not wish to get the goods wet to night. The chief then said,
in a surly manner, 'you don't intend then to move to my
38 For the Comanche Indians, see James's Long's Expedition, in our volume
xvi, p. 233, note 109.— Ed. I!
Kif:   (i
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 18
camp to night?' My father answered, 'No!' The chief
said he should, or he would come upon us with his men,
kill us, and take every thing we had. ij Upon this my father
pushed the chief out of the tent, telling him to send his men
as soon as he pleased; that we would kill them, as fast as
they came. In reply the chief pointed his finger to the spot,
where the sun would be at eight o'clock the next morning,
and said, 'If you do not come to my camp, when the sun is
there, I will set all my warriors upon you.' He then ran
off through the rain to his own camp. We began, immediately, a kind of breastwork, made by chopping off logs, and
putting them together. Confidently expecting an attack
in the night, we tied our horses and mules in a sink hole
between us and the river. It was now dark. I do not
tlrink an eye was closed in our camp that night; but the
morning found us unmolested; nor did we see any Indians,
before the sun was at the point spoken of. When it had
reached it, an army of between six and eight hundred
mounted [36] Indians, with their faces painted as black as
though they had come from the infernal regions, armed
with fuzees and spears and shields appeared before us.
Every thing had been done by the Indians to render this
show as intimidating as possible. We discharged a couple
of guns at them to show that we were not afraid, and were
ready to receive them. A part advanced towards us; but
one alone, approaching at full speed, threw down his bow
and arrows, and sprang in among us, saying in broken
English 'Commanches no good, me Iotan, good man.' He
gave us to understand, that the Iotan nation was close at
hand, and would not let the Commanches hurt us, and then
started back. The Commanches fired some shots at us, but
from such a distance, that we did not return them. In less
than half an hour, we heard a noise like distant thunder.
It became more and more distinct, until a band of armed 1824-1830]
Pattie's Personal Narrative
Indians, whom we conjectured to be Jotans/0 became
visible in the distance. When they had drawn near, they
reined up their horses for a moment, and then rushed in
between us and Commanches, who charged upon the Iotans.
The latter sustained the charge with firmness. The discharge of their fire arms and the clashing of their different
weapons, together with their war-yell, and the shrieks of the
wounded and dying were fit accompaniments to the savage
actors and scene. I do not pretend to describe this deadly
combat between two Indian nations; but, as far as I could
judge, the contest lasted fifteen minutes. I was too deeply
interested in watching the event, to note it particularly. We
wished to assist the Iotans, but could not distinguish them
from the mass, so closely were the parties engaged. We
withheld our fire through fear of injuring the Iotans, whom
we considered our friends. It was not long before we saw,
to our great satisfaction, the Commanches dismounted,
which was the signal of their entire defeat. The Iotans
then left the Commanches, and returned to their women and
children, whom they had left some distance behind. They
brought them to our camp, and pitched their own tents all
around us, except that of the chief, which was placed in the
centre with ours. A guard of warriors was then posted
around [37] the encampment, and an order given for the
wounded Iotans to be brought into the tent of the chief.
There were ten, two of whom died before night. A message
was now sent to the chief of the Commanches, in obedience
to which he came to the Iotan chief. A council then seemed
to be held, and a peace was made, the terms of which were,
that the Iotan chief should pay the Commanche chief two
horses for every warrior, he had lost in the battle, over the
*° Ietans (Iotans) is another name for the Comanche, the latter being originally
the Spanish appellation. See James's Long's Expedition, in our volume xiv, p. 223,
note 179.— Ed. V
68 Early Western Travels [Vol. 18
number of Iotans killed. We gave the Iotan chief goods to
the amount of one hundred dollars, which pleased him
exceedingly. He expressed himself perfectly satisfied with
this recompense for the warriors he had lost in our defence.
The knowledge, that a party as large as ours was traversing
the country, had soon spread in all directions from the
reports of Indians, who had met with us, and we became to
these savage tribes a matter of interest, as a source of gain
to be drawn from us by robbing, kindness or trade.— Our
movements were observed. The Commanches determined
to possess themselves of their object by force; and the
Iotans interfered in our defence, that they might thus gain
their point by extortion from friends.
Not a single Commanche was allowed to enter our camp,
as arrangements were making for the Iotans to trade with
us. All, who had any beaver skins, or dressed deer skins,
were sent for. A guard was placed around in a circle, inside
of which the skins were thrown down. Each Indian then
inquired for the article he wanted. In this way we exchanged with them butcher knives, paint, and powder and
ball, for beaver and deer skins, to the amount of fifteen hundred dollars, allowing them what we considered the value
of the skins.
The old Commanche chief came to the Iotan chief to ask
permission to talk with us, but was forbidden; and we were
told not to have any dealings with him. We did not. The
Iotan chief then gave us the character of the Commanche
chief. He seemed to be thinking some time before he began.
'I know,' said he, 'you must think it strange that I should
fight with the Commanches, and then pay them for their
warriors killed, over [38] our own number lost, and make
peace with them. I will give you my reasons for doing so.
Four years ago, this Commanche chief with his followers,
went in company with my father, who was a chief, and a
few of his followers, in search of buffaloes.   After they had 1824-1830]
Pattie's Personal Narrative
killed what they wanted, they divided the meat. The Commanche took all the best of it, leaving the remains for my
father. The old man. put up with it, and said nothing. On
their return, close to this place they met a band of Nabahoes,"
a nation that had long been at war with ours, and killed a
great number of our people. My father wanted to kill them,
and began to fire upon them. The Commanches joined the
Nabahoes, and together they killed my father and most of
his men. He then paid for the fives he had taken, in horses,
giving twenty for my father, and four for each warrior. I
only give two horses for a warrior. I am now happy. I
have killed three times as many of them, as they did of us,
and paid less for it. I know they can never get the upper
hand of me again. This Commanche chief is a mean man,
for whenever he has power, he makes others do as he
pleases, or he kills them, and takes all they have. He
wanted to act in this way with you; but I do not think he
could, for you know how to shoot better than he does; and you
would not give up, as long as you had powder and ball and
one man alive.' My father as commander, said, 'his men
were all good soldiers, and knew how to get the advantage
in fighting; and that we had plenty of ammunition and good
guns, and were not in the least afraid of being beaten by
them.' T think so,' replied the chief; 'But I thank the
Great Spirit, that it happened as it did. I have taken revenge
for the death of my father, and his people, and gained, I
hope, at the same time the love of a good and brave people
by defending them.' We assured him that he had, expressing
our thanks for his aid, and regret for those who had been
a The Navaho Indians are closely related to the Apache, both belonging to the
Athabascan family. At this time they numbered nearly ten thousand people, their
territory being west of the Rio del Norte, between the San Juan River and latitude
35°. Their manner of life was more settled than that of the Comanche and Apache;
and the blankets they manufacture have gained a wide notoriety. They are now
located, to the number of about one thousand five hundred, on the Navaho reservation in northwest New Mexico — Ed. \ I.
it I
Early Western Travels
killed in our defence. 'Yes,' said the chief, 'they were brave
men; but they loved my father, whom they have now gone
to see, where they will have plenty to eat, and drink, without
having to fight for it.' These were his thoughts, as near as
I can express them.
The Commanche chief made a second application for
permission to talk with us, which was now granted. His
object in conversing [39] with us, was, as he said, to make
friends with us, and induce us to give him some powder and
ball. We told him that we would willingly make peace with
him; but not give him any thing, as we did not break the
peace. He had threatened to kill us, and take our property
without any provocation from us, and certainly, if any
present was necessary, it must come from him. We did not,
however, wish any present from him, and would make peace
with him, provided he promised never to kill, or try to kill
a white man. He answered, that he had neither done it,
or intended to do it; that with regard to us, he only sought
to frighten us, so that we should come to his camp, before
the Iotans came up, whom he knew to be not far distant, in
order that he might precede them in trading with us, adding
that as he had been so disappointed, he thought we ought
to give him a little powder and ball. Our answer was, that
we had no more ammunition to spare; and that we could not
depart from our resolution of not purchasing a treaty from
him; but we would give him a letter of recommendation to
the next company that came in this direction, by means of
which he might trade with them, and obtain what he wanted
of these articles. He consented to a treaty on these conditions, and lighting his pipes we smoked friends.
He then asked us if we came through the Pawnee village ?
We answered in the affirmative. His next question was,
had they plenty of ammunition ? Our reply was again, yes.
We were then given to understand, that he was then at war
with them, and had been for a number of years, and that he
y} 1824-1830]
Pattie's Personal Narrative
should soon either make peace with them, or have a general
engagement. He would prefer peace, as they were at war
with the Spaniards, as well as himself. By uniting forces,
they could beat the Spaniards, though in case of a treaty or
not, he intended to go against the Spaniards, as soon as he
should return from the country of the Pawnees. He added,
T suppose you are friends with the Spaniards, and are now
going to trade with them.' Our commander replied, that
we were going to trade with them, but not to fight for them.
That, said the chief, is [40] what I wanted to know. I do
not want war with your people, and should we accidentally
kill any of them, you must not declare war against us, as we
will pay you for them in horses or beaver skins. We did
not express our natural feeling, that the life of one man was
worth more than all the horses or beaver skins, his nation
could bring forth; but told him, that we would not injure
his people, unless they did ours, on purpose. He returned,
apparently satisfied, to his camp. We were detained here
until the fourth of November by our promise of awaiting
the arrival of the two men, we had left with our wounded
companion. They came, and brought with them his gun
and ammunition. He died the fifth day, after we had left
him, and was buried as decently, as the circumstances would
On the 5th of November a we again set off in company
with a party of Iotans. The Arkansas is here wide and
shallow, like the Platte; and has wide but thinly timbered
bottoms on both sides. Extending from the bottom ten or
twelve miles on the south side, are low hills composed principally of sand. We found travelling upon them very
fatiguing, particularly as we met with no water. Late in
the evening we reached water, and encamped.
The next morning we resumed our journey.   We were
42 Manifestly a slip, since the subsequent dates show that it was the fifth of
October.— Ed.
m i 11
Early Western Travels
•[Vol. 18
exceedingly diverted, during the day, to see the Iotan Indians
in company with us, chase the buffaloes on horseback. They
killed them with their arrows. The force, with which they
shoot these arrows, is astonishing. I saw one of them shoot
an arrow through a buffaloe bull, that had been driven close
to our camp. We were again upon level plains, stretching off in all directions beyond the reach of the eye. The
few high mounds scattered over them could not but powerfully arrest the curiosity. From the summit of one I again
looked down upon innumerable droves of wild animals,
dotting the surface, as they seemed to forget their savage
natures, and fed, or reposed in peace. I indulged the
thoughts natural to such a position and scene. The remembrance of home, with its duties and pleasures, came upon
my mind in strong contrast with my actual circumstances.
[41] I was interrupted by the discharge of guns, and the
screams and yells of Indians. The Iotans had found six
Nabahoes a half a mile from us, and were killing them.
Three were killed. The others, being well mounted, made
their escape. The Iotans came to our camp with their
scalps, leaving their bodies to be eaten by wild animals. My
father sent men to bury them. The Iotans danced around
these scalps all night, and in the morning took up the bodies,
we had buried, and cut them in pieces. They then covered
themselves with the skins of bears and panthers, and, taking
the hearts of the dead men, cut them into pieces of the size
of a mouthful, and laid them upon the ground, and kneeling
put their hands on the ground, and crawled around the pieces
of hearts, growling as though they were enraged bears, or
panthers, ready to spring upon them, and eat them. This
is their mode of showing hatred to their enemies. Not relishing such detestable conduct, we so manifested our feelings,
that these Indians went to their own camps.
We encamped the evening of the next day near water.
Nothing worthy of record occurred during the journey of the 1824-1830]
Pattie's Personal Narrative
four succeeding days, except that we came to a small creek
called Simaronee.43 Here we encamped, and killed some
buffaloes, and shod our horses. We travelled up this stream
some distance, and left it on the 15th.
On the 16th we encamped on a creek, where we found four
gentle mules, which we caught. I could not account for
their being there. Nothing of importance occurred in the
two last days.
From the 17th to the 20th, we journied without interruption. The latter day we came in view of a mountain covered
with snow, called Taos mountain. This object awakened
in our minds singular but pleasant feelings. On the 23d
we reached its foot. Here Mr. Pratte concealed a part of his
goods by burying them in the ground. We were three days
crossing this mountain.
On the evening of the 26th, we arrived at a small town in
Taos, called St. Ferdinando,44 situated just at the foot of the
mountain on the west side. The alcalde asked us for the
invoice [42] of our goods, which we showed him, and paid
the customary duties on them. This was a man of a swarthy
complexion having the appearance of pride and haughtiness.
a For the Cimarron River, see Nuttall's Journal, volume xiii of our series, p. 263,
note 203.— Ed.
** San Fernandez de Taos was one of two small Spanish towns in the fertile
valley of Taos, about seventy-five miles northeast of Santa Fe\ This valley formed
the Mexican boundary for those who came up Arkansas River, and crossed to
New Mexico from the north. The first Spaniard to settle in Taos valley, so far as
records show, came about the middle of the eighteenth century; for his story, see
Gregg's Commerce of the Prairies, in our volume xx. Fernandez de Taos is at
present the seat for Taos County, with a population of fifteen hundred. See
Report of the Governor of New Mexico to the Secretary of the Interior (Washington,
i903). P- 287-
The Indian pueblo of Taos, discovered in 1541 by Barrionuevo, one of Coronado's
lieutenants, lies about three miles northwest of San Fernandez, and has had a
varied history. A Franciscan mission was established here before 1617, when
was built the church which suffered bombardment from the American armyin 1847.
The great Pueblo revolt of 1680 was largely fomented at Taos; and again, in 1837,
a half-breed from Taos, Jose" Gonzales, was the leader of a revolt against the
Mexican government. There is still a community of Indians at this pueblo, where
in 1847 the final stand was made against Price's army.— Ed. 74
Early Western Travels     * [Vol. 18
m w
The door-way of the room, we were in, was crowded with
men, women and children, who stared at us, as though they
had never seen white men before, there being in fact, much
to my surprize and disappointment, not one white person
among them. I had expected to find no difference between
these people and our own, but their language. I was never
so mistaken. The men and women were not clothed in our
fashion, the former having short pantaloons fastened below
the waist with a red belt and buck skin leggins put on three
or four times double. A Spanish knife is stuck in by the
side of the leg, and a small sword worn by the side. A long
jacket or blanket is thrown over, and worn upon the shoulders. They have few fire arms, generally using upon occasions which require them, a bow and spear, and never wear
a hat, except when they ride. When on horse back, they
face towards the right side of the animal. The saddle, which
they use, looks as ours would, with something like an arm
chair fastened upon it.
The women wear upon the upper part of the person a
garment resembling a shirt, and a short petticoat fastened
around the waist with a red or blue belt, and something of the
scarf kind wound around their shoulders. Although appearing as poorly, as I have described, they are not destitute
of hospitality; for they brought us food, and invited us into
1 their houses to eat, as we walked through the streets.
The first time my father and myself walked through the
town together, we were accosted by a woman standing in her
own door-way. She made signs for us to come in. When
we had entered, she conducted us up a flight of steps into a
room neatly whitewashed, and adorned with images of saints,
and a crucifix of brass nailed to a wooden cross. She gave
us wine, and set before us a dish composed of red pepper,
ground and mixed with corn meal, stewed in fat and water.
We could not eat it. She then brought forward some tortillas
and milk.   Tortillas [43] are a thin cake made of corn and 1824-1830]
Pattie's Personal Narrative
wheat ground between two flat stones by the women. This
cake is called in Spanish, metate. We remained with her
until late in the evening, when the bells began to ring. She
and her children knelt down to pray. We left her, and
returned. On our way we met a bier with a man upon it,
who had been stabbed to death, as he was drinking whiskey.
This town stands on a beautiful plain, surrounded on one
side by the Rio del Norte,45 and on the other by the mountain, of which I have spoken, the summit being covered with
perpetual snow.
We set off for Santa Fe on the 1st of November. Our
course for the first day led us over broken ground. We
passed the night in a small town, called Callacia, built on a
small stream, that empties into the del Norte. The country
around this place presents but a small portion of level surface.
The next day our path lay over a point of the mountain.
We were the whole day crossing. We killed a grey bear,
that was exceedingly fat. It had fattened on a nut of the
shape and size of a bean, which grows on a tree resembling
the pine, called by the Spanish, pinion. We took a great
part of the meat with us. We passed the night again in a
town called Albukerque.48
The following day we passed St. Thomas,47 a town situated
on the bank of the del Norte, which is here a deep and muddy
stream, with bottoms from five to six miles wide on both
45 The Rio del Norte rises in the San Juan mountains, in southwestern Colorado.
Closely hemmed in by mountains, it flows almost directly south as far as El Paso,
where it reaches the plains and thence forms the western boundary of Texas.
From El Paso it is called the Rio Grande, or Rio Bravo.— Ed.
46 Pattie could not have passed the town of Albuquerque, as that is seventy-five
miles south of Santa Fe\ He probably means Abiquiu, a town on the Chama, a
western affluent of the Rio del Norte, and on the well-known trail leading from
Santa F6 to Los Angeles, California. Pike passed down the valley of the Rio del
Norte (1807), and his descriptions of places and of Mexico are as a whole valuable.
See Coues, Expeditions of Zebulon M. Pike (New York, 1895), ii.— Ed.
1 This was the mission of St. Thomas de Abiquiu.— Ed. mv-
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 18
sides. These bottoms sustain numerous herds of cattle.
The small huts of the shepherds, who attend to them, were
visible here and there. We reached -another town called
Elgidonis, and stopped for the night. We kept guard around
our horses all night, but in the morning four of our mules
were gone. We hunted for them until ten o'clock, when two
Spaniards came, and asked us, what we would give them, if
they would find our mules? We told them to bring the
mules, and we would pay them a dollar. They set off, two
of our men following them without their knowledge and went
into a thicket, where they had tied the mules, and returned
with them to us. As may be supposed, we gave them both
a good whipping. It seemed at first, that the whole [44]
town would rise against us in consequence. But when
we related the circumstances fairly to the people, the officer
corresponding to our justice of the peace, said, we had done
perfectly right, and had the men put in the stocks.
We recommenced our journey, and passed a mission of
Indians under the control of an old priest. After crossing
a point of the mountain, we reached Santa Fe,48 on the 5th.
This town contains between four and five thousand inhabitants. It is situated on a large plain. A handsome stream
runs through it, adding life and beauty to a scene striking and
48 Santa Fe" is one of the oldest towns within the present limits of the United
States. The site was first visited by Coronado in 1541; but the founding of the
town was the work of Onate, who established the colony of New Mexico in 1598.
The date of the founding of Santa Fe is uncertain, owing to the destruction of the
records by the revolt of 1680; but it was sometime between 1605 and 1609. By
1630, Santa F6 had one thousand inhabitants; its first church was built on the
site of the present cathedral, in 1622-27; the ancient governmental palace, still
existing, dates from the seventeenth century. In 1680 the Spaniards were expelled,
but twelve years later returned under Diego de Vargas. From that time to the
present, Santa Fe' has been continuously inhabited. In the eighteenth century,
French traders found their way thither, and by the early nineteenth the American
trade began. In 1822, the Mexican standard was raised over the town, and in
1846 General Stephen W. Kearny secured its surrender to the United States.
Santa F6 has always been the capital of the territory. It has now (1905) a population of about eight thousand. At the time of Pattie's visit the governor of New
Mexico, the first under republican rule, was Bartolome Baca.— Ed.
111 1824-1830]
Pattie's Personal Narrative
agreeable from the union of amenity and cultivation around,
with the distant view of the snow clad mountains. It is
pleasant to walk on the flat roofs of the houses in the evening,
and look on the town and plain spread below. The houses
are low, with flat roofs as I have mentioned. The churches
are differently constructed from the other buildings and make
a beautiful show. They have a great number of large bells,
which, when disturbed, make a noise, that would almost
seem sufficient to awaken the dead.
We asked the governor for permission to trap beaver in
the river Helay. His reply was that, he did not know if he
was allowed by the law to do so; but if upon examination it
lay in his power, he would inform us on the morrow, if we
would come to his office at 9 o'clock in the morning. According to this request, we went to the place appointed, the
succeeding day, which was the 9th of November. We were
told by the governor, that he had found nothing, that would
justify him, in giving us the legal permission, we desired.
We then proposed to him to give us liberty to trap, upon the
condition, that we paid him five per cent on the beaver we
might catch. He said, he would consider this proposition,
and give us an answer the next day at the same hour. The
thoughts of our hearts were not at all favorable to this person,
as we left him.
About ten o'clock at night an express came from the river
Pacus,49 on which the nobles have their country seats and
large farming establishments, stating, that a large body of
Indians had come upon several families, whom they had
either robbed, or [45] murdered.    Among the number two
49 The Rio Pecus is the largest branch of the Rio Grande. Rising in the Santa
Fe mountains immediately east of Santa Fe\ and following a south-southeast course
for about eight hundred miles, it enters the Rio Grande in latitude 290 41'. The
name is derived from an old pueblo, situated on one of the mountain tributaries
about twenty-five miles southeast of Santa Fe". In 1540 this was the largest Indian
village in New Mexico, containing a population of about two thousand souls; but
the United States troops in 1846 found it desolate and in ruins. A small modern
village has grown up near the ancient site.— Ed. tr
Early Western Travels
Americans had been killed, and the wife of one taken prisoner, in company with four Spanish women, one of whom was
daughter of the former governor, displaced because he was
an European. The drum and fife and French horn began
to sound in a manner, that soon awakened, and alarmed the
whole town. The frightened women, and the still more
fear-stricken men, joining in a full chorus of screams and
cries, ran some to where the drum was beating in the public
square, and others to our quarters. Upon the first sound
of alarm we had prepared to repel the enemy, whatever it
might be, provided it troubled us. When this group came
rushing towards us, the light of the moon enabled us to discern
them with sufficient clearness to prevent our doing them any
injury. We did not sleep any more that night, for the
women, having got the wrong story, as most women do in a
case of the kind, told us that the Commanches were in town,
killing the people. We awaited an attack, without, however, hearing any sound of fire arms. Our conclusion was,
that they were skulking around, dealing out death in darkness and silence with their arrows; and in the feelings, which
were its natural result, the remainder of the night passed.
The first light of morning showed us a body of four hundred
men ready to mount their horses. At sunrise the governor
came to us to ask, if we would aid in the attempt to recapture
the prisoners taken by the Commanches, relating to us the
real cause of the alarm of the preceding night. We complied readily with his request, as we were desirous of gaining
the good will of the people. Our arrangements were soon
made, and we set off in company with the troops I have mentioned.
The 12th was spent in travelling. We stopped for the
night at St. John's, a small town.50   On the 13th we reached
60 This small town, presumably to the east of Santa F£, cannot be the well-
known San Juan, on the Rio del Norte opposite the mouth of the Chama River
and about thirty miles north of Santa Fe. This latter San Juan was made the
capital of New Mexico by Onate in 1598-99, and so remained until the founding of
Santa F6.— Ed.
V-r » 1824-1830]
Pattie's Personal Narrative
the spot, where the murders and robbery were committed.
Here we took the course the Indians had marked in their
retreat, stopping only for refreshments. We pressed on all
night, as we found their fires still smoking. At eight on the
morning of the 15th, the trail being fresh, we increased our
speed, and at twelve came in sight of them, as they advanced
toward a low gap in [46] the mountains. We now halted,
and counselled together with regard to the next movements.
The commander of the Spaniards proposed, that my father
should direct the whole proceedings, promising obedience
on his own part and that of his troops.
The gap in the mountains, of which I spoke, was made
by a stream. The Indians were now entering it. My
father formed a plan inimediately, and submitted it to the
Spanish commander, who promised to aid in carrying it
into effect. In conformity to it, the Spaniards were directed
to keep in rear of the Indians, without being seen by
them. We took a circuitous route, screened from sight by
the highland, that lay between us and the Indians, in order
to gain unobserved a hollow in advance of them, in which
we might remain concealed, until they approached within
gunshot of us. Our main object was to surprize them, and
not allow them time to kill their captives, should they be
still alive. The party in the rear were to close in, upon
hearing the report of our guns, and not allow them to return
to the plain. Our plan seemed to assure us success. We
succeeded in reaching the hollow, in which we placed ourselves in the form of a half circle, extending from one side
of it to the other, our horses being tied behind us. Every
man was then ordered to prime, and pick his gun afresh.
The right flank was to fire first, the left reserving theirs to
give a running fire, that should enable the right to re-load.
The Indians, surrounding the prisoners, were to be taken
as the first aim, to prevent the immediate murder of them
by their captors. My post was in the centre of the line. We
waited an hour and a half behind our screens of rocks and .1
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 18
trees, before our enemies made their appearance. The
first object, that came in sight, were women without any
clothing, driving a large drove of sheep and horses. These
were immediately followed by Indians. When the latter
were within thirty or forty yards of us, the order to fire was
given. The women ran towards us the moment they heard
the report of our guns. In doing this they encountered the
Indians behind them, and three fell pierced by the spears
of these savages. The cry among us now was, 'save the
women!' Another young man and [47] myself sprang forward, to rescue the remaining two. My companion fell in
the attempt. An Indian had raised his spear, to inflict
death upon another of these unfortunate captives, when he
received a shot from one of our men, that rendered him incapable of another act of cruelty. The captives, one of whom
was a beautiful young lady, the daughter of the governor
before spoken of, both reached me. The gratitude of such
captives, so delivered, may be imagined. Fears, thanks and
exclamations in Spanish were the natural expression of
feeling in such a position. My companions aided me in
wrapping blankets around them, for it was quite cold; and
making the best arrangements in our power for their comfort and safety. This was all done in less time, than is
required to relate it, and we returned to our post.
The Indians stood the second fire, and then retreated.
We pursued keeping up a quick fire, expecting every moment to hear the Spaniards in the rear following our example
to check them in their retreat; but we could discover the
entrance upon the plain, before we heard any thing from
our Spanish muskets. The Indians then began to yell;
but the Spaniards, after one discharge from their fire arms,
fled. Being mounted on good horses the Indians did not
pursue them, but satisfied as to our numbers, now that we
were upon the plain, they rallied, and rushed upon us.
Our commander now ordered us to retreat into the woods, 1824-1830]
Pattie's Personal Narrative
and to find shelter behind trees, and take aim that every shot
might tell, as it was of the utmost importance, not to waste
ammunition, saying, 'stand resolute, my boys, and we make
them repent, if they follow us, although those * * Spaniards have deserted us, when we came to fight for them.
We are enough for these * * devils alone.' As they came
near us, we gave them a scattering though destructive fire,
which they returned bravely, still pressing towards us. It
was a serious contest for about ten minutes, after they
approached within pistol shot of us. From their yells, one
would have thought that the infernal regions were open
before them, and that they were about to be plunged in
headlong. They finally began to retreat again, and we soon
[48] put them completely to flight. The Spaniards, though
keeping a safe distance, while this was going forward, saw
the state of affairs, and joined us in the pursuit, still taking
especial care not to come near enough to the Indians, to
hurt them, or receive any injury themselves. After the
Indians rallied, we lost ten men, and my father received a
slight wound in the shoulder.
We removed our horses and the rescued captives into the
plain, and encamped. The Spaniards had killed an Indian
already wounded, and were riding over the dead bodies of
those on the ground, spearing them and killing any, who still
breathed. My father commanded them to desist, or he
would fire upon them, and the Spanish officer added his
order to the same effect. The latter then demanded of us,
the two women, whom we had rescued, with as much assurance, as though himself had been the cause of their deliverance. My father replied, by asking what authority or
right he had, to make such a request, when his cowardice
withheld him from aiding in their release? The officer
became enraged, and said, that he was unable to rally his
men, and that he did not consider the captives any safer in
our hands than in those of the Indians, as we were not 82
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 18
christians. This insult, coupled with such a lame apology,
only made my father laugh, and reply, that if cowardice
constituted a claim to Christianity, himself and his men were
prime and undoubted christians. He added further, that if
the rescued women preferred to accompany him, rather than
remain, until he should have buried his brave comrades, who
fell in their defence, and accept his protection, he had nothing to say. The subjects of our discussion, being present
while it took place, decided the point before they were appealed to. The youngest said, that nothing would induce her
to leave her deliverers, and that when they were ready to go,
she would accompany them, adding, that she should pray
hourly for the salvation of those, who had resigned their lives
in the preservation of hers. The other expressed herself
willing to remain with her, and manifested the same confidence and gratitude. The enraged officer and his men set
off on their return to Santa Fe.
[49] The sun was yet an hour from its setting. We
availed ourselves of the remaining light to make a breastwork
with the timber, that had drifted down the stream, that we
might be prepared for the Indians, in case they should return.
We finished it, and posted our sentinels by sunset. The
governor's daughter now inquired for the individual, who
first met her in her flight from the Indians, and so humanely
and bravely conducted her out of danger, and provided for
her comfort. I cannot describe the gratitude and loveliness,
that appeared in her countenance, as she looked on me, when
I was pointed out to her. Not attaching any merit to the
act, I had performed, and considering it merely as a duty, I
did not know how to meet her acknowledgments, and was
On the morning of the 16th we buried our dead. My
father's shoulder was a little stiff, and somewhat swollen.
We saddled our horses, and began our return journey. I
gave up my horse to one of the ladies, and made my way on 18 24-1830]
Pattie's Personal Narrative
foot. We drove the sheep, which escaped the balls, before
us. Our last look at the ground of our late contest gave a
view sufficiently painful to any one, who had a heart; horses
and their riders lay side by side. The bodies of robbers
surrounded by the objects of their plunder would probably
remain, scattered as they were, unburied and exposed to the
wild beasts.
We halted in the evening for the refreshment of ourselves
and horses. This done, we again set off travelling all night.
The sheep giving out, we were obliged to leave them. At
twelve next day we reached Pacus. Here we met the father
of the youngest of the two ladies accompanied by a great
number of Spaniards. The old man was transported almost
to frenzy, when he saw his daughter. We remained here for
the day. On the morning of the 18th we all set off together,
the old governor insisting, that my father and myself must
ride in the carriage with him; but we excused ourselves, and
rode by the side of it with the interpreter. The father
caressed us exceedingly, and said a great many things about
me in particular, which I did not think, I deserved.
[50] The next day at two in the afternoon, we arrived at
Santa Fe. We were received with a salute, which we returned with our small arms. The governor came in the
evening, and invited my father and the interpreter to sup
with him. He ordered some fat beeves to be killed for the
rest of us. The father of Jacova, for that was the name of
the young lady, I had rescued, came, and invited us all to
go, and drink coffee at his son-in-law's, who kept a coffeehouse. We went, and when we had finished our coffee, the
father came, and took me by the hand, and led me up a
flight of steps, and into a room, where were his two daughters.
As soon as I entered the room, Jacova and her sister both
came, and embraced me, this being the universal fashion of
interchanging salutations between men and women among
these people, even when there is nothing more, than a simple ,i
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 18
introduction between strangers. After I had been seated
an hour, looking at them, as they made signs, and listening
to their conversation, of which I did not understand a syllable, I arose with the intention of returning to my companions
for the night. But Jacova, showing me a bed, prepared for
me, placed herself between me and the door. I showed her
that my clothes were not clean. She immediately brought
me others belonging to her brother-in-law. I wished to be
excused from making use of them, but she seemed so much
hurt, that I finally took them, and reseated myself. She
then brought me my leather hunting shirt, which I had
taken off to aid in protecting her from the cold, and begged
the interpreter who was now present, to tell me, that she
intended to keep it, as long as she lived. She then put it
on, to prove to me that she was not ashamed of it.
I went to bed early, and arose, and returned to my companions, before any of the family were visible. At eight the
governor and my father came to our quarters, and invited
us all to dine with him at two in the afternoon. Accordingly we all dressed in our best, and went at the appointed
time. A band of musicians played during dinner. After
it was finished, and the table removed, a fandango was begun.
The ladies flocked in, in great numbers. The instruments,
to which the dancers' moved, were [51] a guitar and violin.
Six men and six women also added their voices. Their mode.
of dancing was a curiosity to me. The women stood erect,
moving their feet slowly, without any spring or motion of
the body, and the men half bent, moved their feet like drum
sticks. This dance is called ahavave. I admired another
so much, that I attempted to go through it. It was a waltz,
danced to a slow and charming air. It produces a fine effect,
when twenty or thirty perform it together. The dancing
continued, until near morning, when we retired to rest.
At eight the following morning we received a license,
allowing us to trap in different parts of the country.   We 1824-1830]
Pattie's Personal Narrative
were now divided into small parties. Mr. Pratte added
three to our original number, they making the company, to
which my father and myself belonged, seven. On the 22d,
we set off. Our course lay down the del Norte to the Helay,
a river never before explored by white people.61 We left
our goods with a merchant, until we should return in the
spring. Our whole day's journey lay over a handsome
plain covered with herds of the different domestic animals.
We reached Picacheh a small town in the evening. Jacova
and her father overtook us here, on their way home, which
was eighty miles distant from Santa Fe.
In the morning we began our journey, together. During
the day we passed several small villages and stopped for the
night in one called St. Philip, situated on the banks of the
del Norte, surrounded by large vineyards. Jacova's father
insisted upon our drinking plentifully of the wine made at
this place.
The morning of the 24th saw us again on our journey.
Our companion, the old governor, was much amused at
seeing us kill wild geese and prairie wolves with our rifles,
the latter being abundant in this country. In the evening
we reached another small town, called St. Louis. All these
inconsiderable villages contain a church. The succeeding
day we traversed the same beautiful plain country, which
had made our journey so far, delightful. The same multitude of domestic animals still grazed around our path.
[52] On the 27th, we arrived at the residence of Jacova
and her father. It was a large and even magnificent building.
We remained here until the 30th, receiving the utmost
51 "The Gila was known to the whites before the Mississippi was discovered; it
was long better known than the Rio Grande and down to the present century was
far better known than the Rio Colorado."— (Coues, Expeditions of Zebulon M.
Pike, ii, p. 374.) The first name, Rio del Nombre de Jesus, was given to it by
Ofiate in 1604; the present name dates from 1697. The stream heads in the
mountains of western New Mexico, and traversing Arizona empties into the Colorado at Fort Yuma (320 43' north latitude).    See post, notes 54, 63.— Ed. 86
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 18
attention and kindness. At our departure, the kind old
governor pressed a great many presents upon us; but we
refused all, except a horse for each one of us, some flour and
dried meat.
Seven hunters coming up with us, who were going in our
direction, we concluded to travel with them, as our united
strength would better enable us to contend with the hostile
Indians, through whose country our course lay. We made
our way slowly, descending the river bank, until we reached
the last town or settlement in this part of the province,
called Socoro.52 The population of the part of the country,
through which we travelled was entirely confined to a chain
of settlements along the bottoms of the del Norte, and those
of some of the rivers, which empty into it. I did not see,
during the whole of this journey, an enclosed field, and not
even a garden.
After remaining one day here, in order to recruit our
horses, we resumed our course down the river, Dec. 3d.
The bottoms, through which we now passed, were thinly
timbered, and the only growth was cotton-wood and willow.
We saw great numbers of bears, deer and turkeys. A bear
having chased one of our men into the camp, we killed it.
On the 7th we left the del Norte, and took a direct course
for the Copper mines.53   We next travelled from the river
62 This name, meaning succor, was given by Onate to the Indian pueblo of
Teipana, about eighty miles south of Albuquerque, because of the supplies of
maize furnished by the inhabitants on his expedition up the Rio del Norte (1598-99).
The old pueblo was destroyed in 1681, and the modern town founded in 1817. It
is now the seat of Socorro County, and contains over 1,500 inhabitants. The
home of the Spanish ex-governor and his daughter must have been in the neighborhood of the present city of Albuquerque, the largest town in New Mexico. Pattie's
course quite closely followed the line of the Santa F6 railroad.— Ed.
68 The mines were the well-known "Santa Rita de Cobre," in the western
angle of the Sierra de Mogoyon, near the headwaters of the Gila and about one
hundred miles west of the Rio del Norte. Mexicans began to work them in 1804.
They proved very profitable (see post, p. 350), although the difficulty of obtaining
supplies was great, owing to the plundering Apache. In 1838 these Indians entirely cut off the supply trains, and the mines were abandoned.   They were for a 1834-1830]
Pattie's Personal Narrative
over a very mountainous country four days, at the expiration
of which time we reached this point of our destination. We
were here but one night, and I had not leisure to examine
the mode, in which the copper was manufactured. In the
morning we hired two Spanish servants to accompany us;
and taking a north-west course pursued our journey, until
we reached the Helay on the 14th. We found the country
the greater part of the two last days hilly and somewhat
barren with a growth of pine, live oak, pinion, cedar and
some small trees, of which I did not know the name. We
caught thirty beavers, the first night we encamped on this
river. The next morning, accompanied by another man,
[53] I began to ascend the bank of the stream to explore, and
ascertain if beaver were to be found still higher, leaving the
remainder of the party to trap slowly up, until they should
meet us on our return. We threw a pack over our shoulders,
containing a part of the beavers, we had killed, as we made
our way on foot. The first day we were fatigued by the
difficulty of getting through the high grass, which covered
the heavily timbered bottom. In the evening we arrived
at the foot of mountains, that shut in the river on both sides,
and encamped. We saw during the day several bears, but
did not disturb them, as they showed no ill feeling towards
On the morning of the 13th we started early, and crossed
the river, here a beautiful clear stream about thirty yards
in width, running over a rocky bottom, and filled with fish.
We made but little advance this day, as bluffs came in so
close to the river, as to compel us to cross it thirty-six times.
We were obliged to scramble along under the cliffs, sometimes upon our hands and knees, through a thick tangle of
time (1851) the headquarters of the boundary commission for the United States
and Mexico. See Bartlett, Personal Narrative of Explorations (New York, 1854),
i, pp. 226-239. Mining was resumed in 1873; the property is now operated by the
Santa Rita Company, and is among the best equipped mines in the territory.— Ed.
II 88
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 18
grape-vines and under-brush. Added to the unpleasantness
of this mode of getting along in itself, we did not know, but
the next moment would bring us face to face with a bear,
which might accost us suddenly. We were rejoiced, when
this rough ground gave place again to the level bottom. At
night we reached a point, where the river forked, and encamped on the point between the forks. We found here a
boiling spring so near the main stream, that the fish caught
in the one might be thrown into the other without leaving
the spot, where it was taken. In six minutes it would be
thoroughly cooked.
The following morning my companion and myself separated, agreeing to meet after four days at this spring. We
were each to ascend a fork of the river. The banks of that
which fell to my lot, were very brushy, and frequented by
numbers of bears, of whom I felt fearful, as I had never
before travelled alone in the woods. I walked on with
caution until night, and encamped near a pile of drift wood,
which I set on fire, thinking thus to frighten any animals
that might approach during the night. [54] I placed a spit,
with a turkey I had killed upon it, before the fire to roast.
After I had eaten my supper I laid down by the side of a
log with my gun by my side. I did not fall asleep for some
time. I was aroused from slumber by a noise in the leaves,
and raising my head saw a panther stretched on the log by
which I was lying, within six feet of me. I raised my gun
gently to my face, and shot it in the head. Then springing
to my feet, I ran about ten steps, and stopped to reload my
gun, not knowing if I had killed the panther or not. Before
I had finished loading my gun, I heard the discharge of one
on the other fork, as I concluded, the two running parallel
with each other, separated only by a narrow ridge. A
second discharge quickly followed the first, which led me
to suppose, that my comrade was attacked by Indians.
I immediately set out and reached the hot spring by day
iV.    W 1824-1830]
Pattie's Personal Narrative
break, where I found my associate also. The report of my
gun had awakened Mm, when he saw a bear standing upon
its hind feet within a few yards of him growling. He fired
his gun, then his pistol, and retreated, thinking, with regard
to me, as I had with regard to him, that I was attacked by
Indians. Our conclusion now was, to ascend one of the
forks in company, and then cross over, and descend the other.
In consequence we resumed the course, I had taken the
preceding day. We made two day's journey, without
beaver enough to recompense us for our trouble, and then
crossed to the east fork, trapping as we went, until we again
reached the main stream. Some distance below this, we
met those of our party we had left behind, with the exception
of the seven, who joined us on the del Norte. They had
deserted the expedition, and set off upon their return down
the river. We now all hastened on to overtake them, but
it was to no purpose. They still kept in advance, trapping
clean as they went, so that we even found it difficult to catch
enough to eat.
Finding it impossible to come up with them, we ceased to
urge our poor horses, as they were much jaded, and tender
footed beside, and travelled slowly, catching what beaver
we [55] could, and killing some deer, although the latter
were scarce, owing, probably to the season of the year. The
river here was beautiful, running between banks covered
with tall cotton-woods and willows. This bottom extended
back a mile on each side. Beyond rose high and rather
barren hills.
On the 20th we came to a point, where the river entered
a cavern between two mountains. We were compelled to
return upon our steps, until we found a low gap in the
mountains. We were three day's crossing, and the travelling
was both fatiguing and difficult.   We found nothing to kill.
On the 23d we came upon the river, where it emptied into
a beautiful plain.   We set our traps, but to no purpose, for
I 9°
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 18
the beavers were all caught, or alarmed. The river here
pursues a west course. We travelled slowly, using every
effort to kill something to eat, but without success.
On the morning of the 26th we concluded, that we must
kill a horse, as we had eaten nothing for four day's and a half,
except the small portion of a hare caught by my dogs, which
fell to the lot of each of a party of seven. Before we obtained
this, we had become weak in body and mind, complaining,
and desponding of our success in search of beaver. Desirous
of returning to some settlement, my father encouraged our
party to eat some of the horses, and pursue our journey.
We were all reluctant to begin to partake of the horse-flesh;
and the actual thing without bread or salt was as bad as the
anticipation of it. We were somewhat strengthened, however, and hastened on, while our supply lasted, in the hope
of either overtaking those in advance of us, or finding
another stream yet undiscovered by trappers.
The latter desire was gratified the first of January, 1825.
The stream, we discovered, carried as much water as the
Helay, heading north. We called it the river St. Francisco.54
After travelling up its banks about four miles, we encamped,
and set all our traps, and killed a couple of fat turkies. In
the morning we examined our traps, and found in them 37
beavers! This success restored our spirits instantaneously.
Exhilarating [56] prospects now opened before us, and we
pushed on with animation. The banks of this river are for
the most part incapable of cultivation being in many places
formed of high and rugged mountains. Upon these we saw
multitudes of mountain sheep.55 These animals are not
found on level ground, being there slow of foot, but on these
cliffs and rocks they are so nimble and expert in jumping
64 The present name of this stream, one of the initial forks of the Gila.    The
confluence is in Arizona, a few miles over the New Mexican border.— Ed.
66 The Rocky Mountain sheep (Ovis montand) was well described by Lewis
and Clark.— Ed. 18 24-1830]
Pattie's Personal Narrative
from point to point, that no dog or wolf can overtake them.
One of them that we killed had the largest horns, that I
ever saw on animals of any description. One of them would
hold a gallon of water. Their meat tastes like our mutton.
Their hair is short like a deer's, though fine. The French
call them the gros cornes, from the size of their horns which
curl around their ears, like our domestic sheep. These
animals are about the size of a large deer. We traced this
river to its head, but not without great difficulty, as the
cliffs in many places came so near the water's edge, that we
were compelled to cross points of the mountain, which
fatigued both ourselves and our horses exceedingly.
The right hand fork of this river, and the left of the Helay
head in the same mountain, which is covered with snow, and
divides its waters from those of Red river. We finished our
trapping on this river, on the 14th. We had caught the very
considerable number of 250 beavers, and had used and
preserved most of the meat, we had killed. On the 19th we
arrived on the river Helay, encamped, and buried our furs
in a secure position, as we intended to return home by this
On the 20th we began to descend the Helay, hoping to
find in our descent another beaver stream emptying into it.
We had abandoned the hope of rejoining the hunters, that
had left us, and been the occasion of our being compelled to
feed upon horse flesh. No better was to be expected of us,
than that we should take leave to imprecate many a curse
upon their heads; and that they might experience no better
fate, than to fall into the hands of the savages, or be torn in
pieces by the white bears. At the same time, so ready are
the hearts of mountain hunters to relent, that I have not a
doubt that each man of us would [57] have risqued his life
to save any one of them from the very fate, we imprecated
upon them.
In fact, on the night of the 2 2d, four of them, actually
92 Early Western Travels [Vol. 18
half starved, arrived at our camp, declaring, that they had
eaten nothing for five days. Notwithstanding our recent
curses bestowed upon them, we received them as brothers.
They related that the Indians had assaulted and defeated
them, robbing them of all their horses, and killing one of
their number. Next day the remaining two came in, one of
them severely wounded in the head by an Indian arrow.
They remained with us two days, during which we attempted
to induce them to lead us against the Indians, who had
robbed them, that we might assist them to recover what had
been robbed from them. No persuasion would induce them
to this course. They insisted at the same time, that if we
attempted to go on by ourselves, we should share the same
fate, which had befallen them.
On the morning of the 25th, we gave them three horses,
and as much dried meat as would last them to the mines,
distant about 150 miles. Fully impressed, that the Indians
would massacre us, they took such a farewell of us, as if
never expecting to see us again.
In the evening of the same day, although the weather
threatened a storm, we packed up, and began to descend
the river. We encamped this night in a huge cavern in the
midst of the rocks. About night it began to blow a tempest,
and to snow fast. Our horses became impatient under the
pelting of the storm, broke their ropes, and disappeared.
In the morning, the earth was covered with snow, four or
five inches deep. One of our companions accompanied me
to search for our horses. We soon came upon their trail,
and followed it, until it crossed the river. We found it on
the opposite side, and pursued it up a creek, that empties
into the Helay on the north shore. We passed a cave at the
foot of the cliffs. At its mouth I remarked, that the bushes
were beaten down, as though some animal had been browsing
upon them. I was aware, that a bear had entered the cave.
We collected some pine knots, split them with our toma-
\\i 1 1824-1830]
Pattie's Personal Narrative
hawks, and kindled torches, with which I proposed to [58]
my companion, that we should enter the cave together, and
shoot the bear. He gave me a decided refusal, notwithstanding I reminded him, that I had, more than once, stood
by him in a similar adventure; and notwithstanding I made
him sensible, that a bear in a den is by no means so formidable, as when ranging freely in the woods. Finding it impossible to prevail on him to accompany me, I lashed my
torch to a stick, and placed it parallel with the gun barrel,
so as that I could see the sights on it, and entered the cave.
I advanced cautiously onward about twenty yards, seeing
nothing. On a sudden the bear reared himself erect within
seven feet of me, and began to growl, and gnash his teeth.
I levelled my gun and shot him between the eyes, and began
to retreat. Whatever light it may throw upon my courage,
I admit, that I was in such a hurry, as to stumble, and
extinguish my fight. The growling and struggling of the
bear did not at all contribute to allay my apprehensions. On
the contrary, I was in such haste to get out of the dark place,
thinking the bear just at my heels, that I fell several times on
the rocks, by which I cut my limbs, and lost my gun. When
I reached the light, my companion declared, and I can believe it, that I was as pale as a corpse. It was some time,
before I could summon sufficient courage to re-enter the
cavern for my gun. But having re-kindled my light, and
borrowed my companion's gun, I entered the cavern again,
advanced and listened. All was silent, and I advanced still
further, and found my gun, near where I had shot the bear.
Here again I paused and listened. I then advanced onward
a few strides, where to my great joy I found the animal dead.
I returned, and brought my companion in with me. We
attempted to drag the carcass from the den, but so great
was the size, that we found ourselves wholly unable. We
went out, found our horses, and returned to camp for assistance.    My father severely reprimanded  me for venturing
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 18
■■ I ; J
m if
to attack such a dangerous animal in its den, when the
failure to kill it outright by the first shot, would have been
sure to be followed by my death.
Four of us were detached to the den. We were soon
enabled [59] to drag the bear to the light, and by the aid of
our beast to take it to camp. It was both the largest and
whitest bear I ever saw. The best proof, I can give, of the
size and fatness is, that we extracted ten gallons of oil from
it. The meat we dried, and put the oil in a trough, which
we secured in a deep crevice of a cliff, beyond the reach of
animals of prey. We were sensible that it would prove a
treasure to us on our return.
On the 28th we resumed our journey, and pushed down
the stream to reach a point on the river, where trapping had
not been practised. On the 30th, we reached this point,
and found the man, that the Indians had killed. They had
cut him in quarters, after the fashion of butchers. His
head, with the hat on, was stuck on a stake. It was full of
the arrows, which they had probably discharged into it, as
they had danced around it. We gathered up the parts of
the body, and buried them.
At this point we commenced setting our traps. We
found the river skirted with very wide bottoms, thick-set
with the musquito trees,56 which bear a pod in the shape of a
bean, which is exceedingly sweet. It constitutes one of the
chief articles of Indian subsistence; and they contrive to
prepare from it a very palatable kind of bread, of which we
all became very fond. The wild animals also feed upon this
On the 31st we moved our camp ten miles. On the way
we noted many fresh traces of Indians, and killed a bear,
66 There are at least three varieties of mesquit-tree (prosopis) in New Mexico
and Arizona. It is related to the acacia and locust; and the fruit, consisting of
ten or twelve beans in a sweet, pulpy pod, is gathered by the Indians, pounded in
a mortar, and made into bread. A prolific tree will yield ten bushels of beans in
the hull.   The Comanche also concoct an intoxicating drink from this bean.— Ed.
ia-L 1824-1830]
Pattie's Personal Narrative
that attacked us. The river pursues a west course amidst
high mountains on each side. We trapped slowly onward,
still descending the river, and unmolested by the Indians.
On the 8th of February, we reached the mouth of a small
river entering the Helay on the north shore. Here we
unexpectedly came upon a small party of Indians, that fled
at the sight of us, in such consternation and hurry, as to
leave all their effects, which consisted of a quantity of the
bread mentioned above, and some robes made of rabbit
skins. Still more; they left a small child. The child was
old enough to distinguish us from its own people, for it
opened its little throat, and screamed so lustily, that we
feared it would have fits. The poor thing meanwhile made
its [60] best efforts to fly from us. We neither plundered nor
molested their little store. We bound the child in such a
manner, that it could not stray away, and get lost, aware,
that after they deemed us sufficiently far off, the parents
would return, and take the child away. We thence ascended
the small river about four miles, and encamped. For fear
of surprize, and apprehending the return of the savages,
that had fled from us, and perhaps in greater force, we
secured our camp with a small breast-work. We discovered
very little encouragement in regard to our trapping pursuit,
for we noted few signs of beavers on this stream. The night
passed without bringing us any disturbance. In the morning two of us returned to the Indian camp. The Indians
had re-visited it, and removed every thing of value, and
what gave us great satisfaction, their child. In proof, that
the feelings of human nature are the same every where, and
that the language of kindness is a universal one; in token of
their gratitude, as we understood it, they had suspended a
package on a kind of stick, which they had stuck erect.
Availing ourselves of their offer, we examined the present,
and found it to contain a large dressed buck skin, an article,
which we greatly needed for moccasins, of which some of us 96
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[Vol. 18
were in pressing want.    On the same stick we tied a red
handkerchief by way of some return.
We thence continued to travel up this stream four days in
succession, with very little incident to diversify our march.
We found the banks of this river plentifully timbered with
trees of various species, and the land fine for cultivation.
On the morning of the 13th, we returned to the Helay, and
found on our way, that the Indians had taken the handkerchief, we had left, though none of them had shown any
disposition, as we had hoped, to visit us. We named the.
Stream we had left, the deserted fork, on account of having
found it destitute of beavers. We thence resumed our
course down the Helay, which continues to flow through a
most beautiful country. Warned by the frequent traces of
fresh Indian foot-prints, we every night adopted [61] the
expedient of enclosing our horses in a pen, feeding them with
cotton-wood bark, which we found much better for them
than grass.
On the 16th, we advanced to a point, where the river runs
between high mountains, in a ravine so narrow, as barely
to afford it space to pass. We commenced exploring them
to search for a gap, through which we might be able to pass.
We continued our expedition, travelling north, until we discovered a branch, that made its way out of the mountains.
Up its ravine we ascended to the head of the branch. Its fountains were supplied by an immense snow bank, on the summit
of the mountain. With great labor and fatigue we reached
this summit, but could descry no plains within the limits of
vision. On every side the peaks of ragged and frowning
mountains rose above the clouds, affording a prospect of
dreariness and desolation, to chill the heart. While we
could hear the thunder burst, and see the lightning glare
before us, we found an atmosphere so cold, that we were
obliged to keep up severe and unremitting exercise, to escape
freezing. 1824-1830]
Pattie's Personal Narrative
We commenced descending the western declivity of the
mountains, amidst thick mists and dark clouds, with which
they were enveloped. We pitied our horses and mules,
that were continually sliding and failing, by which then-
limbs were strained, and their bodies bruised. To our great
joy, we were not long, before we came upon the ravine of a
branch, that wound its way through the vast masses of
crags and mountains. We were disappointed, however,
in our purpose to follow it to the Helay. Before it mingled
with that stream, it ingulfed itself so deep between the cliffs,
that though we heard the dash of the waters in their narrow
bed, we could hardly see them. We were obliged to thread
our way, as we might, along the precipice, that constituted
the banks of the creek. We were often obliged to unpack
our mules and horses, and transport their loads by hand
from one precipice to another. We continued wandering
among the mountains in this way, until the 23d. Our
provisions were at this time exhausted, and our horses and
[62] mules so worn out, that they were utterly unable to proceed further. Thus we were absolutely obliged to lie by two
days. During this time, Allen and myself commenced climbing towards the highest peak of the mountains in our vicinity.
It was night-fall, before we gained it. But from it we
could distinctly trace the winding path of the river in several
places; and what was still more cheering, could see smokes
arising from several Indian camps. To meet even enemies,
was more tolerable, than thus miserably to perish with hunger and cold in the mountains. Our report on our return
animated the despair of our companions. On the morning
of the 25th we resumed our painful efforts to reach the river.
On the 28th, to our great joy, we once more found ourselves
on its banks. A party of Indians, encamped there, fled at
our approach. But fortunately they left a little mush prepared from the seeds of grass. Without scruple we devoured
it with appetites truly ravenous.    In the morning we took 98
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 18
ten beavers in our traps, and Allen was detached with me
to clear away a path, through which the pack horses might
pass. We were obliged to cross the river twelve times in the
course of a single day. We still discovered the fresh footprints of Indians, who had deserted their camps, and fled
before us. We were continually apprehensive, that they
would fire their arrows upon us, or overwhelm us with
rocks, let loose upon us from the summits of the high cliffs,
directly under which we were obliged to pass. The third
day, after we had left our company, I shot a wild goose in
the river. The report of my gun raised the screams of
women and children. Too much alarmed to stop for my
game, I mounted my horse, and rode toward them, with a
view to convince them, or in some way, to show them, that
we intended them no harm. We discovered them ahead of us,
climbing the mountains, the men in advance of the women,
and all fleeing at the top of their speed. As soon as they
saw us, they turned, and let fly a few arrows at us, one of
which would have despatched my companion, had he not
been infinitely dextrous in dodging. Hungry and fatigued
and by no means in the best humor, my companion returned
[63] them abundance of curses for their arrows. From
words he was proceeding to deeds, and would undoubtedly
have shot one of them, had I not caught his gun, and made
him sensible of the madness of such a deed. It was clearly
our wisdom to convince them, that we had no inclination to
injure them. Some of them were clad in robes of rabbit
skins, part of which they shed, in their hurry to clamber
over the rocks.
Finding ourselves unable to overtake them, we returned
to their camp, to discover if they had left any thing that we
could eat. At no great distance from their camp, we observed a mound of fresh earth, in appearance like one of
our coal kilns. Considering it improbable, that the Indians
would be engaged in burning coal, we opened the mound, 1824-1830]
Pattie's Personal Narrative
and found it to contain a sort of vegetable that had the
appearance of herbage, which seemed to be baking in the
ground, to prepare it for eating. I afterwards ascertained,
that it was a vegetable, called by the Spanish, mascal,
(probably maguey.)57 The Indians prepare it in this way,
so as to make a kind of whiskey of it, tasting like crab-apple
cider. The vegetable grows in great abundance on these
Next day we came to the point, where the river discharges
its waters from the mountains on to the plains. We thence
returned, and rejoined our company, that had been making
their way onward behind us. March 3d, we trapped along
down a small stream, that empties into the Helay on the
south side, having its head in a south west direction. It being
very remarkable for the number of its beavers, we gave it the
name of Beaver river. At this place we collected 200 skins;
and on the 10th continued to descend the Helay, until the
20th, when we turned back with as much fur, as our beasts
could pack. As yet we had experienced no molestation
from the Indians, although they were frequently descried
skulking after us, and gathering up the pieces of meat, we had
thrown away. On the morning of the 20th we were all
prepared for an early start, and my father, by way of precaution, bade us all discharge our guns at the word of command, and then re-load them afresh, [64] that we might, in
case of emergency, be sure of our fire. We were directed to
form in a line, take aim, and at the word, fire at a tree. We
gave sufficient proofs, that we were no strangers to the rifle,
for every ball had lodged close to the centre of our mark.
But the report of our guns was answered by the yell of more
67 The maguey is the American aloe (Agave americand). The Mexicans and
Indians cut off the leaves near the root, leaving a head the size of a large cabbage.
The heads are placed in the ground, overlaid with earth, and for a day a fire is kept
burning on top of them; they are then eaten, tasting something like a beet. The
roasted heads are also placed in a bag made of hides, and allowed to ferment, producing the liquor known as "mescal."— Ed.
im IOO
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 18
than an hundred savages, above us on the mountains. We
immediately inarched out from under the mountains on to
the plains, and beckoned them to come down, by every
demonstration of friendship in our power. Nothing seemed
to offer stronger enticement, than to hold out to them our
red cloth. This we did, but without effect, for they either
understood us not, or were reluctant to try our friendship.
Leaving one of our number to watch their deportment, and
to note if they followed us, we resumed our march. It
would have been a great object to us to have been able to
banish their suspicions, and make a treaty with them. But
we could draw from them no demonstrations, but those of
fear and surprize. On the 25th we returned to Beaver river,
and dug up the furs that we had buried, or cashed,58 as the
phrase is, and concluded to ascend it, trapping towards its
head, whence we purposed to cross over to the Helay above
the mountains, where we had suffered so much in crossing.
About six miles up the stream, we stopped to set our traps,
three being selected to remain rjehind in the camp to dry
the skins, my father to make a pen for the horses, and I
to guard them, while they were turned loose to feed in the
grass. We had pitched our camp near the bank of the river,
in a thick grove of timber, extending about a hundred yards
in width. Behind the timber was a narrow plain of about
the same width, and still further on was a high hill, to which
I repaired, to watch my horses, and descry whatever might
pass in the distance. Immediately back of the hill I discovered a small lake, by the noise made by the ducks and<
geese in it. Looking more attentively, I remarked what
gave me much more satisfaction, that is to say, three beaver
lodges. I returned, and made my father acquainted with
my discovery. The party despatched to set traps had returned.    My father informed [65] them  of my discovery,
68 For the method of making a "cache," see Thwaites, Original Journals of the
Lewis and Clark Expedition, index.— Ed. 1824-1830]
Pattie's Personal Narrative
and told them to set traps in the little lake. As we passed
towards the lake, we observed the horses and mules all
crowded together. At first we concluded that they collected together in this way, because they had fed enough.
We soon discovered, that it was owing to another cause.
I had put down my gun, and stepped into the water, to prepare a bed for my trap, while the others were busy in preparing theirs. Instantly the Indians raised a yell, and the
quick report of guns ensued. This noise was almost
drowned in the fierce shouts that followed, succeeded by a
shower of arrows falling among us like hail. As we ran
for the camp leaving all the horses in their power, we saw
six Indians stealthily following our trail, as though they were
tracking a deer. They occasionally stopped, raised themselves, and surveyed every thing around them. We concealed ourselves behind a large cotton-wood tree, and
waited until they came within a hundred yards of us. Each
of us selected a separate Indian for a mark, and our signal
to fire together was to be a whistle. The sign was given,
and we fired together. My mark fell dead, and my companions' severely wounded. The other Indians seized their
dead and wounded companions, and fled.
We now rejoined our company, who were busily occupied
in dodging the arrows, that came in a shower from the
summit of the hill, where I had stationed myself to watch
our horses. Discovering that they were too far from us,
to be reached by our bullets, we retreated to the timber, in
hopes to draw them down to the plain. But they had had
too ample proofs of our being marksmen, to think of returning down to our level, and were satisfied to remain yelling,
and letting fly their arrows at random. We found cause
both for regret and joy; regret, that our horses were in then-
power, and joy, that their unprovoked attack had been
defeated with loss to themselves, and none to us.
At length they ceased yelling, and disappeared.    We, on 102
Early Western Travels
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our part, set ourselves busily to work to fortify our camp for
the night. Meanwhile our savage enemy devised a plan,
which, but for the circumspection of my father, would have
enabled [66] them to destroy us. They divided themselves
into two parties, the one party mounted on horses, stolen
from us, and so arranged as to induce the belief, that they
constituted the whole party. They expected that we would
pursue them, to recover our horses. As soon as we should
be drawn out from behind our fortification, they had a
reserve party, on foot, who were to rush in, between us and
our camp, and thus, between two fires, cut us all off together.
It so happened, that I had retired a little distance from the
camp, in the direction of the ambush party on foot. I met
them, and they raised a general yell. My father, supposing
me surrounded, ran in the direction of the yell, to aid me.
He, too, came in direct contact with the foot party, who let
fly a shower of arrows at him, from which nothing but good
providence preserved Irim. He returned the fire with his
gun and pistols, by which he killed two of. them, and the
report of which immediately brought his companions to his
side. The contest was a warm one for a few minutes, when
the Indians fled. This affair commenced about three in
the afternoon; and the Indians made their final retreat at
five; and the succeeding night passed without further molestation from them.
In the morning of the 26th, we despatched two of our men
to bring our traps and furs. We had no longer any way
of conveying them with us, for the Indians had taken all our
horses. We, however, in the late contest, had taken four of
their's, left behind in the haste of their retreat. As our
companions were returning to camp with the traps, which
they had taken up to bury, they discovered the Indians,
sliding along insidiously towards our camp. We were all
engaged in eating our breakfast in entire confidence. Our
men cried out to us, that the enemy was close upon us.   We 1824-1830]
Pattie's Personal Narrative
sprang to our arms. The Indians instantly fled to the top
of the hill, which we had named battlehill. In a few minutes
they were all paraded on the horses and mules stolen from
us. They instantly began to banter us in Spanish to come
up to them. One of our number who could speak Spanish,
asked them to what nation they belonged ? They answered,
Eiotaro. In return, they asked us, who we were? We
answered Americans. Hearing this, they stood in apparent
[67] surprise and astonishment for some moments. They
then replied, that they had thought us too brave and too
good marksmen, to be Spaniards; that they were sorry for
what they had done, under the mistake of supposing us
Spaniards. They declared themselves ready to make a
treaty with us, provided that we would return the four
horses, we had taken from them, and bring them up the hill,
where they promised us they would restore us our own
horses in exchange. We were at once impressed, that the
proposal was a mere trick, to induce us to place ourselves in
their power. We therefore answered their proposal by
another, which was, that they should bring down our horses,
and leave them by the pen, where they had taken them, and
we in return would let their horses loose, and make friendship
with them. They treated our proposal with laughter, which
would have convinced us, had we doubted it before, that
their only purpose had been to ensnare us. We accordingly
faced them, and fired upon them, which induced them to
clear themselves most expeditiously.
We proceeded to bury our furs; and having packed our
four horses with provisions and two traps, we commenced
our march. Having travelled about ten miles, we encamped
in a thicket without kindling a fire, and kept a strict guard
all night. Next morning we made an early march, still
along the banks of the river. Its banks are still plentifully
timbered with cotton-wood and willow. The bottoms on
each side afford a fine soil for cultivation.   From these
m 104
Early Western Travels
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bottoms the hills rise to an enormous height, and their summits are covered with perpetual snow. In these bottoms
are great numbers of wild hogs, of a species entirely different
from our domestic swine. They are fox-colored, with their
navel on their back, towards the back part of their bodies.
The hoof of their hind feet has but one dew-claw, and they
yield an odor not less offensive than our polecat. Their
figure and head are not unlike our swine, except that their
tail resembles that of a bear. We measured one of their
tusks, of a size so enormous, that I am afraid to commit my
credibility, by giving the dimensions. They remain undisturbed [68] by man and other animals, whether through fear
or on account of their offensive odor, I am unable to say.
That they have no fear of man, and that they are exceedingly
ferocious, I can bear testimony myself. I have many times
been obliged to climb trees to escape their tusks. We killed
a great many, but could never bring ourselves to eat them.
The country presents the aspect of having been once settled
at some remote period of the past. Great quantities of
broken pottery are scattered over the ground, and there are
distinct traces of ditches and stone walls, some of them as
high as a man's breast, with very broad foundations. A
species of tree, which I had never seen before, here arrested
my attention.58 It grows to the height of forty or fifty feet.
The top is cone shaped, and almost without foliage. The
bark resembles that of the prickly pear; and the body is
covered with thorns. I have seen some three feet in diameter at the root, and throwing up twelve distinct shafts.
On the 29th, we made our last encampment on this river,
intending to return to it no more, except for our furs. We
set our two traps for the last time, and caught a beaver in
each.— We skinned the animals, and prepared the skins
** This is apparently the giant cactus (Cereus giganteus). The height to which
it grows varies with the nature of the soil, the average being from twenty to thirty
feet.— Ed. 1824-1830]
Pattie's Personal Narrative
to hold water, through fear, that we might find none on our
unknown route through the mountains to the Helay, from
which we judged ourselves distant two hundred miles.
Our provisions were all spoiled. We had nothing to carry
with us to satisfy hunger, but the bodies of the two beavers
which we had caught, the night before. We had nothing
to sustain us in this disconsolate march, but our trust in
providence; for we could not but foresee hunger, fatigue
and pain, as the inevitable attendants upon our journey.
To increase the depression of our spirits, our moccasins
were worn out, our feet sore and tender, and the route full
of sharp rocks.
On the 31st, we reached the top of the mountain, and
fed upon the last meat of our beavers. We met with no
traces of game. What distressed me most of all was, to
perceive my father, who had already passed the meridian
of his days, sinking with fatigue and weakness. On the
morning of the first of April, [69] we commenced descending
the mountain, from the side of which we could discern a plain
before us, which, however, it required two severe days
travel to reach. During these two days we had nothing
either to eat or drink. In descending from these icy mountains, we were surprised to find how warm it was on the
plains. On reaching them I killed an antelope, of which
we drank the warm blood; and however revolting the
recital may be, to us it was refreshing, tasting like fresh
milk. The meat we put upon our horses, and travelled on
until twelve o'clock, before we found water.
Here we encamped the remainder of the day, to rest, and
refresh ourselves. The signs of antelopes were abundant,
and the appearances were, that they came to the water to
drink; from which we inferred, that there was no other
drinking place in the vicinity. Some of our hunters went
out in pursuit of the antelopes. From the numbers of these
animals, we called the place Antelope Plain.   The land lies
J Ji il
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 18
very handsomely, and is a rich, black soil, with heavily
timbered groves in the vicinity.
On the morning of the 3d, though exceedingly stiff and
sore, we resumed our march, and reaching the opposite side
of the plain, encamped at a spring, that ran from the mountain. Next day we ascended this mountain to its summit,
which we found covered with iron ore. At a distance we
saw a smoke on our course. We were aware that it was the
smoke of an Indian camp, and we pushed on towards it.
In the evening we reached the smoke, but found it deserted
of Indians. All this day's march was along a country
abundant in minerals. In several places we saw lead and
copper ore. I picked up a small parcel of ore, which I put
in my shot-pouch, which was proved afterward to be an ore
of silver. The misfortune of this region is, that there is no
water near these mineral hills. We commenced our morning
march half dead with thirst, and pushed on with the eagerness inspired by that tormenting appetite. Late in the
evening we found a little water, for our own drinking, in the
bottom of a rock. Not a drop remained for our four horses,
that evidently showed a thirst no less devouring than ours.
[70] Their feet were all bleeding, and the moment we paused
to rest ourselves, the weary companions of our journey
instantly laid down. It went still more to my heart, to see
my two faithful dogs, which had followed me all the
way from my father's house, where there was always bread
enough anal to spare, looking to me with an expression, which
a hunter in the desert only can understand, as though begging
food and water. Full gladly would I have explained to
them, that the sterile wilderness gave me no means of
supplying their wants.
We had scarcely commenced the next morning's march,
when, at a little distance from our course, we saw a smoke.
Supposing it an Indian camp, we immediately concluded to
attack it.   Adopting their own policy, we slipped onward 1824-1830]
Pattie's Personal Narrative
in silence and concealment, until we were close by it. We
found the persons women and children. Having no disposition to harm them, we fired a gun over their heads, which
caused them instantly to fly at the extent of their speed.
Hunger knows no laws; and we availed ourselves of then-
provision, which proved to be mascal, and grass seed, of
which we made mush. Scanty as this nutriment was, it was
sufficient to sustain life.
We commenced an early march on the 6th, and were
obliged to move slowly, as we were bare-footed, and the
mountains rough and steep. We found them either wholly
barren, or only covered with a stinted growth of pine and
cedar, live oak and barbary bushes. On the 8th, our provisions were entirely exhausted, and so having nothing to
eat, we felt the less need of water. Our destitute and forlorn condition goaded us on, so that we reached the Helay
on the 12th. We immediately began to search for traces
of beavers, where to set our traps, but found none. On the
morning- of the 13th, we killed a raven, which we cooked
for seven men. It was unsavory flesh in itself, and would
hardly have afforded a meal for one hungry man. The
miserable condition of our company may be imagined, when
seven hungry men, who had not eaten a full meal for ten
days, were all obliged to breakfast on this nauseous bird.
We were all weak and emaciated. But I was young [71]
and able to bear hardships. My heart only ached for my
poor father who was reduced to a mere skeleton. We moved
on slowly and painfully, until evening, when we encamped.
On my return from setting our two traps, I killed a buzzard,
which, disagreeable as it was, we cooked for supper. In the
morning of the 18th, I found one of the traps had caught an
This served for breakfast and supper. It seemed the
means of our present salvation, for my father had become
so weak, that he could no longer travel.   We therefore io8
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 18
! J£
encamped early, and three of us went out to hunt deer among
the hills. But in this sad emergency we could find none.
When we returned, my father had prepared lots, that we
should draw, to determine who of us should kill one of the
dogs. I refused through fear that the lot would fall to me.
These faithful companions of our sufferings were so dear to
me, that I felt as though I could not allow them to be killed
to save my own life; though to save my father, I was aware
that it was a duty to allow it to be done.
We lay here until the 18th, my father finding the flesh of
the dog both sweet, nutritive and strengthening. On the
18th, he was again able to travel; and on the 20th, we arrived at Bear creek, where we hid the bears oil, which we
found unmolested. We lay here two days, during which
time we killed four deer and some turkies. The venison
we dried, and cased the skin of one of the deer, in which to
carry our oil. We commenced an early march on the 23d,
and on the 25th reached the river San Francisco, where we
found our buried furs all safe. I suffered exceedingly from
the soreness of my feet, giving me great pain and fever at
night. We made from our raw deer skins a very tolerable
substitute for shoes. The adoption of this important
expedient enabled us to push on, so that we reached the
Copper mines on the 29th.
The Spaniards seemed exceedingly rejoiced, and welcomed
us home, as though we were of their own nation, religion
and kindred. They assured us, that they had no expectation
ever to see us again. The superintendent of the mines,
especially, who appeared to me a gentleman of the highest
order, received [72] us with particular kindness, and supplied
all our pressing wants. Here we remained, to rest and
recruit ourselves, until the 2d of May. My father then
advised me to travel to Santa Fe, to get some of our goods,
and purchase a new supply of horses, with which to return,
and bring in our furs.   I had a horse, which we had taken 18 24-1830]
Pattie's Personal Narrative
from the Indians, shod with copper shoes, and in company
with four of my companions, and the superintendent of the
mines, I started for Santa Fe. The superintendent assured
us, that he would gladly have furnished us horses; but the
Appache Indians80 had recently made an incursion upon
his establishment, stealing all his horses, and killing three
men, that were herding them. This circumstance had suspended the working of the mines. Besides he was unable
to procure the necessary coal, with which to work them,
because the Appaches way-laid the colliers, and killed them,
as often as they attempted to make coal.
We arrived at the house of the governor on the 12th.
Jacova, his daughter, received us with the utmost affection;
and shed tears on observing me so ill; as I was in fact reduced by starvation and fatigue, to skin and bone. Beings
in a more wretched plight she could not often have an
opportunity to see. My hair hung matted and uncombed.
My head was surmounted with an old straw hat. My legs
were fitted with leather leggins, and my body arrayed in a
leather hunting shirt, and no want of dirt about any part of
the whole. My companions did not shame me, in comparison, by being better clad. But all these repulsive
circumstances notwithstanding, we were welcomed by the
governor and Jacova, as kindly, as if we had been clad in a
manner worthy of their establishment.
We rested ourselves here three days. I had left my more
decent apparel in the care of Jacova, when we started from
the house into the wilderness on our trapping expedition.
She had had my clothes prepared in perfect order. I once
more dressed myself decently, and spared to my companions
all my clothes that fitted them.    We all had our hair trimmed.
60 The Apache were long the scourge of New Mexico, Arizona, and northern
Mexico. Living by plunder alone, they systematically robbed and killed Spaniards,
Mexicans, and Americans. They belong to the Athabascan family, and comprise
many tribes and sub-tribes. At present they number about six thousand souls,
and are located on five different reservations.— Ed. Ii
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 18
All this had much improved our appearance. When we
started [73] on the 15th, the old gentleman gave each of us
a good horse, enabling us to travel at our ease.
On the 18th we arrived at Santa Fe, where we immediately
met some of- our former companions. It hardly need be
added, that the joy of this recognition was great and mutual.
We found Mr. Pratte ill in bed. He expressed himself
delighted to see me, and was still more desirous to see my
father. He informed me, that four of the company that he
had detached to trap, had been defeated by the Indians,
and the majority of them killed. He had, also, despaired
of ever seeing us again. I took a part of my goods, and
started back to the mines on the 21st. None of my companions were willing to accompany me on account of the
great apprehended danger from the Indians between this
place and the mines. In consequence, I hired a man to go
with me, and having purchased what horses I wanted, we
two travelled on in company. I would have preferred to
have purchased my horses of the old governor. But I
knew that his noble nature would impel him to give them to
me, and felt reluctant to incur such an obligation. When I
left his house, he insisted on my receiving a gold chain, in
token of the perpetual remembrance of his daughter. I saw
no pretext for refusing it, and as I received it, she assured me
that she should always make mention of my father and me
in her prayers.
I left this hospitable place on the 24th, taking all my
clothes with me, except the hunting shirt, which I had worn
in the battle with the Commanches. This she desired to
retain, insisting, that she wished to preserve this memorial
to the day of her death. We arrived at the mines the first
day of June, having experienced no molestation from the
Indians. We continued here, making arrangements for
our expedition to bring in the furs, until the 6th. The good
natured commander gave us provisions to last us to the point 1824-1830]
Pattie's Personal Narrative
where our furs were buried, and back again. Still more,
he armed ten of his laborers, and detached them to accompany us. The company consisted of four Americans, the
man hired at Santa Fe, and the commander's ten men,
fifteen in all.
[74] We left the mines on the 7th, and reached Battle-hill
on Beaver river on the 22d. I need not attempt to describe
my feelings, for no description could paint them, when I
found the furs all gone, and perceived that the Indians had
discovered them and taken them away. All that, for which
we had hazarded ourselves, and suffered every thing but
death, was gone. The whole fruit of our long, toilsome and
dangerous expedition was lost, and all my golden hopes of
prosperity and comfort vanished like a dream. I tried to
convince myself, that repining was of no use, and we started
for the river San Francisco on the 29th. Here we found the
small quantity buried there, our whole compensation for a
year's toil, misery and danger. We met no Indians either
going or returning.
We arrived at the mines the 8th of July, and after having
rested two days proposed to start for Santa Fe. The commander, don Juan Unis, requested us to remain with him
two or three months, to guard his workmen from the Indians,
while pursuing their employment in the woods. He offered,
as a compensation, a dollar a day. We consented to stay,
though without accepting the wages. We should have considered ourselves ungrateful, after all the kindness, he had
rendered us at the hour of our greatest need, either to have
refused the request, or to have accepted a compensation.
Consequently we made our arrangements to stay.
We passed our time most pleasantly in hunting deer and
bears, of which there were great numbers in the vicinity.
We had no other duties to perform, than to walk round in
the vicinity of the workmen, or sit by and see them work.
Most of my time was spent with don Juan, who kindly under-
m 112
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 18
'/    !,
took to teach me to speak Spanish. Of him, having no other
person with whom to converse, I learned the language easily,
and rapidly. One month of our engagement passed off
without any molestation from the Indians. But on the first
day of August, while three of us were hunting deer, we discovered the trail of six Indians approaching the mines.
We followed the trail, and within about a mile from the
mines, we came up with them. [75] They fled, and we pursued close at their heels. Gaining upon them, one of them
dodged us, into the head of a hollow. We surrounded him.
As soon as he saw that we had discovered him, and that
escape was impossible, he sprung on his feet, threw away
his bow and arrows, and begged us most submissively not to
shoot him. One of our men made up to him, while the other
man and myself stood with our guns cocked, and raised to
our faces, ready to shoot him, if he made the least motion
towards his bow. But he remained perfectly still, crossing
his hands, that we might tie them. Having done it, we
drove him on before us. We had advanced about a hundred
yards from the point where we took him, when he pointed
out to us a hollow tree, intimating that there was another
Indian concealed there. We bade him instruct his companion to make no resistance, and to surrender himself, or
we would kill him. He explained our words to his companion in the tree. He immediately came forth from his
concealment with his bow, and we tied his hands in the same
way as the other's. We marched them before us to the
mines, where we put them in prison. The Spaniards, exasperated with their recent cruelties and murders, would have
killed them. We insisted that they should be spared, and
they remained in prison until the next morning.
We then brought them out of prison, conversed with them,
and showed them how closely we could fire. We instructed
one of them to tell his chief to come in, accompanied by all
his warriors, to make peace.   We retained one of the pris- 1824-1830]
Pattie's Personal Narrative
oners as a hostage, assuring the other, that if his chief did
not come in to make peace, we would put the hostage to
death. In regard to the mode of making it, we engaged,
that only four of our men should meet them at a hollow,
half a mile from the mine. We enjoined it on Mm to bring
them there within the term of four days. We readily discovered by the tranquil countenance of our hostage, that he
had no apprehensions that they would not come in.
Afterwards, by way of precaution, my father put in requisition all the arms he could find in the vicinity of the mines,
with [76] which he armed thirty Spaniards. He then
ordered a trench dug, at a hundred yard's distance from the
point designated for the Indians to occupy. This trench
was to be occupied by our armed men, during the time of
the treaty, in case, that if the Indians should be insolent or
menacing, these men might be at hand to overawe them, or
aid us, according to circumstances.
On the 5th, we repaired to the place designated, and in a
short time, the Indians to the number of 80, came in sight.
We had prepared a pipe, tobacco, and a council fire, and had
spread a blanket, on which the chief might sit down. As
soon as they came near us, they threw down their arms.
The four chiefs came up to us, and we all sat down on the
blanket. We commenced discussing the subject, for which
they were convened. We asked them, if they were ready
to make a peace with us; and if not what were the objections? They replied, that they had no objections to a peace
with the Americans, but would never make one with the
Spaniards. When we asked their reasons, they answered
that they had been long at war with the Spaniards, and that
a great many murders had been mutually inflicted on either
side. They admitted, that they had taken a great many
horses from the Spaniards, but indignantly alleged, that a
large party of their people had come in to make peace with
the    Spaniards,    of   which   they   pretended   to   be very
1 ii4
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 18
desirous; that with such pretexts, they had decoyed the
party within their walls, and then commenced butchering
them like a flock of sheep. The veryjew who had escaped,
had taken an unalterable resolution never to make peace
with them. 'In pursuance,' they continued, 'of our purposes of revenge, great numbers of our nation went in among
the Spaniards, and were baptized. There they remain faithful spies for us, informing us when and where there were
favorable opportunities to kill, and plunder our enemies.'
We told them in reply, that if they really felt disposed
to be at peace with the Americans, these mines were now
working jointly by us and the Spaniards; that it was wrong
in them to revenge the crimes of the guilty upon the innocent,
and that [77] these Spaniards had taken no part in the cowardly and cruel butchery, of which they had spoken; and
that if they would not be peaceable, and allow us to work
the mines unmolested, the Americans would consider them
at war, and would raise a sufficient body of men to pursue
them to their lurking places in the mountains; that they had
good evidence that our people could travel in the woods and
among the mountains, as well as themselves; and that we
could shoot a great deal better than either they or the Spaniards, and that we had no cowards among us, but true men,
who had no fear and would keep their word.
The chiefs answered, that if the mines belonged to the
Americans, they would promise never to disturb the people
that worked them. We left them, therefore, to infer that
the mines belonged to us, and took them at their word. We
then lit the pipe, and all the Indians gathered in a circle
round the fire. The four chiefs, each in succession made a
long speech, in which we could often distinguish the terms
Americans, and Espanola. The men listened with profound
attention, occasionally sanctioning what was said by a nod
of the head. We then commenced smoking, and the pipe
passed twice round the circle.   They then dug a hole in 1824-1830]
Pattie's Personal Narrative
the ground in the centre of the circle, and each one spat in
it. They then filled it up with earth, danced round it, and
stuck their arrows in the little mound. They then gathered
a large pile of stones over it, and painted themselves red.
Such are their ceremonies of making peace. All the forms
of the ceremony Were familiar to us, except the pile of stones,
and spitting in the hole they had dug, which are not practised by the Indians on the American frontiers. We asked
them the meaning of the spitting. They said, that they did
it in token of spitting out all their spite and revenge, and
burying their anger under the ground.
It was two o'clock before all these ceremonies were finished. We then showed them our reserve force in the trench.
They evinced great alarm to see their enemies the Spaniards
so close to them, and all ready for action. We explained to
them, that we intended to be in good faith, if they were; and
that these [78] men were posted there, only in case they
showed a disposition to violence. Their fears vanished and
tranquility returned to their countenances. The chiefs
laughed, and said to each other, these Americans know how
to fight, and make peace too. But were they to fight us,
they would have to get a company entirely of their own
people; for that if they took any Spaniards into then-
company, they would be sure to desert them in the time of
We thence all marched to the mines, where we killed three
beeves to feed the Indians. After they had eaten, and were
in excellent humor, the head chief made a present to my
father, of ten miles square of a tract of land lying on a river
about three miles from the mines. It was very favorable for
cultivation, and the Spaniards had several times attempted
to make a crop of grain upon it; but the Indians had as often
either killed the cultivators, or destroyed the grain. My
father informed them, that though the land might be his, he
should be obliged to employ Spaniards to cultivate it for
tt' n6
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 18
ftl  V.
Sin i
him; and that, having made the land his, they must consider
these cultivators his people, and not molest them. With a
look of great firmness, the chief said 'that he was a man of
truth, and had given his word, and that we should find that
nothing belonging to the mines would be disturbed, for that
he never would allow the treaty to be violated.' He went
on to add, 'that he wanted to be at peace with us, because
he had discovered, that the Americans never showed any
disposition to kill, except in battle; that they had had a proof
of this in our not killing the two prisoners we had taken;
but had sent one of them to invite his people to come in, and
make peace with us, and that he took pleasure in making
known to us, that they were good people too, and had no
wish to injure men that did not disturb or injure them.'
All this farce of bringing the Indians to terms of peace
with this establishment was of infinite service to the Spaniards, though of none to us; for we neither had any interest
in the mines, nor intended to stay there much longer. But
we were glad to oblige don Juan who had been so great a
benefactor [79] to us. He, on his part, was most thankful
to us; for he could now work the mines without any risk of
losing men or cattle. He could now raise his own grain,
which he had hitherto been obliged to pack 200 miles, not
without having many of those engaged in bringing it, either
killed or robbed. The Indians now had so much changed
their deportment as to bring in horses or cows, that they
found astray from the mines. They regularly brought in
deer and turkies to sell, which don Juan, to keep alive then-
friendship, purchased, whether he needed the articles or
not. Every day more or less Indians came into the settlement to go and hunt deer and bears with us. They were
astonished at the closeness of our shooting; and nothing
seemed to delight them so much, as our telling them, we
would learn them to shoot our guns. My father had the
honor to be denominated in their language, the big Captain.
Ii 1824-1830]
Pattie's Personal Narrative
Don Juan, apprehending that the truce with the Indians
would last no longer than while we staid, and that after our
departure, the Indians would resume their former habits of
robbery and murder, was desirous to retain us as long as
possible. We agreed to stay until December, when our
plan was to commence another trapping expedition on the
Helay, following it down to its mouth. With every disposition on the part of don Juan to render our stay agreeable,
the time passed away pleasantly. On the 16th of September,
the priest, to whose diocese the mines belonged, made a visit
to the mines, to release the spirits of those who had died
since his last visit, from purgatory, and to make Christians
by baptising the little persons who had been born in the
same time.
This old priest, out of a reverend regard to his own person,
had fled from this settlement at the commencement of the
Indian disturbances; and had not returned until now, when
the Indians had made peace. A body of Indians happened
to be in, when the priest came. We were exceedingly
amused with the interview between the priest and an Indian
chief, who, from having had one of his hands bitten off by
a bear, was called Mocho Mano. The priest asked the one
handed chief, why [80] he did not offer himself for baptism ?
Mocho remained silent for some time, as if ruminating an
answer. He then said, 'the Appache chief is a very big
rogue now. Should he get his crown sprinkled with holy
water, it would either do him no good at all, or if it had any
effect, would make him a greater rogue; for that the priests,
who made the water holy, and then went sprinkling it about
among the people for money, were the biggest rogues of all.'
This made the priest as angry as it made us merry.
When we had done laughing, Mocho asked us, how we
baptised among our people? I answered that we had two
ways of performing it; but that one way was, to plunge the
baptised person under water.   He replied promptly, 'now 118 Early Western Travels [Vol. 18
there is some sense in that;' adding that when a great quantity of rain fell from the clouds, it made the grass grow; but
that it seemed to him that sprinkling a few drops of water
amounted to nothing.
The priest, meanwhile, prophesied, that the peace between the Spaniards and Indians would be of very short.
duration. On the 18th, he left the mines, and returned to
the place whence he had come. On the 20th, we started
with some Indian guides to see a mountain of salt, that they
assured us existed in their country. We travelled a northerly course through a heavily timbered country, the trees
chiefly of pine and live oak. We killed a great number of
bears and deer on the first day; and on account of their
reverence for my father, they treated me as if I had been a
prince. On the second we arrived at the salt hill, which is
about one hundred miles north of the mines. The hill is
about a quarter of a mile in length, and on the front side of it
is the salt bluff, eight or ten feet in thickness. It has the
appearance of a black rock, divided from the earthy matters,
with which the salt is mixed. What was to me the most
curious circumstance of the whole, was to see a fresh water
spring boiling up within twenty feet from the salt bluff, which
is a detached and solitary hill, rising out of a valley, which is
of the richest and blackest soil, and heavily timbered [81] with
oak, ash and black walnut. I remained here two days,
during which I killed fifteen deer, that came to lick salt.
An Indian woman of our company dressed all my deer
skins, and we loaded two mules with the salt, and started
back to the mines, where we arrived the first of October.
Nothing could have been more seasonable or acceptable to
don Juan, than the salt we brought with us. Having mentioned these mines so often, perhaps it may not be amiss,
to give a few details respecting them. Within the circumference of three miles, there is a mine of copper, gold and
silver, and beside, a cliff of load  stone.   The silver mine
H 1824-1830]
Pattie's Personal Narrative
is not worked, as not being so profitable, as either the copper
or gold mines.
We remained here to the last of December, when the
settlement was visited by a company of French trappers,
who were bound for Red river.81 We immediately made
preparations to return with them, which again revived the
apprehensions of don Juan, that the Indians would break
in upon the settlement as soon as we were gone, and again
put an end to the working of the mines. To detain us
effectually, he proposed to rent the mines to us for five years,
at a thousand dollars a year. He was willing to furnish
provisions for the first year gratis, and pay us for all the
improvements we should make on the establishment. We
could not but be aware, that this was an excellent offer.
My father accepted it. The writings were drawn, and my
father rented the establishment on his own account, selecting
such partners as he chose.
I, meanwhile, felt within me an irresistible propensity to
resume the employment of trapping. I had a desire, which
I can hardly describe, to see more of this strange and new
country. My father suffered greatly in the view of my
parting with him, and attempted to dissuade me from it.
He strongly painted the dangers of the route, and represented
to me, that I should not find these Frenchmen like my own
country people, for companions. All was unavailing to
change my fixed purpose, and we left the mines, January 2d,
We travelled down the river Helay, of which I have formerly [82] given a description, as far as the point where we
had left it for Battle-hill. Here, although we saw fresh
Indian signs, we met with no Indians. Where we encamped
for the night, there were arrows sticking in the ground. We
made an early start on the 16th, and at evening came upon
M The Red is here used as one of the rather infrequent names for the Colorado.— Ed.
i\ 120
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 18
the self same party of Indians, that had robbed us of our
horses, the year past. Some of them had on articles of my
father's clothes, that he had left where we buried our furs.
They had made our beaver skins into robes, which we now
purchased of them. While this bargain was transacting, I
observed one of the Indians mounted on the self same horse,
on which my father had travelled from the States. My
blood instandy boiled within me, and, presenting my gun
at him, I ordered him instantly to dismount. He immediately did as I bade mm, and at once a trepidation and alarm
ran through the whole party. They were but twenty men,
and they were encumbered with women and children. We
were thirteen, well mounted and armed. The chief of the
party came to me, and asked me, 'if I knew this horse?' I
answered, that 'I did, and that it was mine.' He asked me
again, 'if we were the party, whose horses and furs they had
taken the year before ?' I answered, that I was one of them,
and that if he did not cause my furs and horses to be delivered
up to me, we would kill them all on the spot. He immediately brought me 150 skins and three horses, observing,
that they had been famished, and had eaten the rest, and
that he hoped this would satisfy me, for that in the battle
they had suffered more than we, he having lost ten men,
and we having taken from them four horses with their saddles and bridles. I observed to him in reply, that he must
remember that they were the aggressors, and had provoked
the quarrel, in having robbed us of our horses, and attempting to kill us. He admitted that they were the aggressors,
in beginning the quarrel, but added, by way of apology, that
they had thought us Spaniards, not knowing that we were
Americans; but that now, when he knew us, he was willing
to make peace, and be in perpetual friendship. On this we
lit the pipe of peace, and smoked friends. I gave him some
red [83] cloth, with which he was delighted. I then asked
him about the different nations, through which our route ""*$*■»
Pattie's Personal Narrative
would lead us? He named four nations, with names, as he
pronounced them, sufficiendy barbarous. All these nations
he described as bad, treacherous and quarrelsome.
Though it was late in the evening, we resumed our march,
until we had reached the point where the river runs between
mountains, and where I had turned back the year before.
There is here little timber, beside musqueto-wood, which
stands thick. We passed through the country of the first two
tribes, which the Indian chief had described to us, without
meeting an individual of them. On the 25th, we arrived at an
Indian village situated on the south bank of the river. Almost
all the inhabitants of this village speak Spanish, for it is situated only three days journey from a Spanish fort in the province of Sonora,62 through which province this river runs. The
Indians seemed disposed to be friendly to us. They are
to a considerable degree cultivators, raising wheat, corn
and cotton, which they manufacture into cloths. We left
this village on the 25th, and on the 28th in the evening
arrived at the Papawar village, the inhabitants of which
came running to meet us, with their faces painted, and their
bows and arrows in their hands. We were alarmed at these
hostile appearances, and halted. We told them that we were
friends, at which they threw down their arms, laughing the
while, and showing by their countenances that they were
aware that we were frightened. We entered the village, and
the French began to manifest their uncontrollable curiosity,
by strolling about in every direction. I noted several crowds
of Indians, collected in gangs, and talking earnestiy.   I
0 The Mexican province of Sonora had then nearly the same boundaries as now,
save for a northern strip — the Gadsden Purchase — which was transferred to
Arizona in 1803. Along its northern frontier stretched a line of five forts, to protect the ranches and villages from Apache raids. The tribe of Indians which
behaved so treacherously towards the French companions of Pattie were the
Papago (Papawar), who still inhabit this region, being herdsmen in southern
Arizona and northern Sonora. See Bandelier, "Final Report of Investigations
among the Indians of the Southwestern United States," American Archaeological
Institute Papers, American Series, iii, pp. 250-252.— Ed.
• irl
i P.H
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 18
called the leader of my French companions, and informed
him that I did not like these movements of the Indians, and
was fearful that they were laying a plan to cut us all up. He
laughed at my fears, telling me I was a coward. I replied,
that I did not think that to be cautious, and on our guard,
was to show cowardice, and that I still thought it best for
us to start [84] off. At this he became angry, and told me
that I might go when I pleased, and that he would go when
he was ready.
I then spoke to a Frenchman of our number, that I had
known for a long time in Missouri; I proposed to him to
join me, and we would leave the village and encamp by
ourselves. He consented, and we went out of the village to
the distance of about 400 yards, under the pretext pf going
there to feed our horses. When the sun was about half an
hour high, I observed the French captain coming out
towards us, accompanied by a great number of Indians, all
armed with bows and arrows. This confirmed me in my
conviction that they intended us no good. Expressing my
apprehensions to my French companion, he observed in his
peculiar style of English, that the captain was too proud and
headstrong, to allow him to receive instruction from any
one, for that he thought nobody knew any thing but himself.
Agreeing that we had best take care of ourselves, we made
us a fire, and commenced our arrangements for spending
the night. We took care not to unsaddle our horses, but to
be in readiness to be off at a moment's warning. Our French
captain came and encamped within a hundred yards of us,
accompanied by not less than a hundred Indians. They
were all exceedingly officious in helping the party unpack
their mules; and in persuading the captain, that there was
no danger in turning them all loose, they promised that they
would guard them with their own horses. This proposal
delighted the lazy Frenchmen, who hated to go through the
details of preparing for encampment, and had a particular 1824-1830]
Pattie's Personal Narrative
dislike to standing guard in the night. The Indian chief
then proposed to the captain to stack their arms against a
tree, that stood close by. To this also, under a kind of spell
of infatuation he consented. The Indian chief took a rope,
and tied the arms fast to a tree.
As I saw this, I told the captain that it seemed to me no
mark of their being friendly, for them to retain their own
arms, and persuade us to putting ours out of our power, and
that one, who had known Indians, ought to be better acquainted with their character, than to encamp with them,
without his men having [85] their own arms in their hand.
On this he flew into a most violent passion, calling me, with
a curse added to the epithet, a coward, wishing to God that
he had never taken me with him, to dishearten his men, and
render them insubordinate. Being remarkable neither for
forbearance, or failing to pay a debt of hard words, I gave
him as good as he sent, telling Mm, among other things no
ways flattering, that he was a liar and a fool, for that none
other than a fool would disarm his men, and go to sleep in
the midst of armed savages in the woods. To this he replied,
that he would not allow me to travel any longer in his company. I answered that I was not only willing, but desirous
to leave him, for that I considered myself safer in my own
single keeping, than under the escort of such a captain, and
that I estimated him only to have sense enough to lead
people to destruction.
He still continued to mutter harsh language in reply, as I
returned to my own camp. It being now dusk, we prepared,
and ate our supper. We had just finished it, when the head
chief of the village came to invite us to take our supper with
them, adding, by way of inducement, that they had brought
some fine pumpkins to camp, and had cooked them for
the white people. We told him, we had taken supper; and
the more he insisted, the more resolutely we refused. Like
the French captain, he began to abuse us, telling us we had 124
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 18
•i 1"'
bad hearts. We told him, that when with such people, we
chose rather to trust to our heads than our hearts. He
then asked us to let some of his warriors come and sleep with
us, and share our blankets, alleging, as a reason for the
request, that the nights were cold, and his warriors too poor
to buy blankets. We told him, that he could easily see that
we were poor also, and were no ways abundantiy supplied
with blankets, and that we should not allow them to sleep
with us. He then marched off to the French camp, evidentiy
sulky and in bad temper. While roundly rating us to the
French captain, he gave as a reason why we ought not to
sleep by ourselves, that we were in danger of being killed in
the night by another tribe of Indians, with whom he was at
[86] The captain, apparently more calm, came to us, and
told us, that our conduct was both imprudent and improper,
in not conciliating the Indians by consenting to eat with
them, or allowing them to sleep with us. My temper not
having been at all sweetened by any thing that had occurred
since we fell out, I told him, that if he had a fancy to eat, or
sleep with these Indians, I had neither power nor the will
to control him; but that, being determined, that neither he
nor they should sleep with me, he had better go about bis
business, and not disturb me with useless importunity. At
this he began again to abuse and revile me, to which I
made no return. At length, having exhausted his stock of
epithets, he returned to his camp.
As soon as we were by ourselves, we began to cut grass for
our horses, not intending either to unsaddle, or let them
loose for the night. My companion and myself were alike
convinced, that some catastrophe was in reserve from the
Indians, and seeing no chance of defending ourselves against
an odds of more than twenty to one, we concluded, as soon
as all should be silent in the camp, to fly. We packed our
mules so as to leave none of our effects behind, and kept
*—■ 1824-1830]
Pattie's Personal Narrative
awake. We remained thus, until near midnight, when we
heard a fierce whistie, which we instantly understood to be
the signal for an attack on the French camp. But a moment
ensued, before we heard the clashing of war clubs, followed
by the shrieks and heavy groans of the dying French, mingled
with the louder and more horrible yells of these treacherous
and blood thirsty savages. A moment afterwards, we heard
a party of them making towards us. To convince them that
they could not butcher us in our defenceless sleep, we fired
upon them. This caused them to retreat. Convinced that
we had no time to lose, we mounted our horses, and fled at
the extent of our speed. We heard a single gun discharged
in the Indian camp, which we supposed the act of an Indian,
who had killed the owner. We took our direction towards a
high mountain on the south side of the river, and pushed for
it as fast as we thought our horses could endure to be driven.
We reached the mountain at day break, [87] and made our
way about three miles up a creek, that issued from the
mountain. Here we stopped to refresh our horses, and let
them feed, and take food ourselves. The passage of the
creek was along a kind of crevice of the mountain, and we
were strongly convinced that the Indians would not follow
upon our trail further than the entrance to the mountain.
One of us ascended a high ridge, to survey whatever might
be within view. My companion, having passed nearly an
hour in the survey, returned to me, and said he saw something
on the plain approaching us. I ascended with him to the
same place, and plainly perceived something black approaching us. Having watched it for some time, I thought it a
bear. At length it reached a tree on the plain, and ascended
it. We were then convinced, that it was no Indian, but a
bear searching food. We could see the smokes arising from
the Indian town, and had no doubt, that the savages were
dancing at the moment around the scalps of the unfortunate
Frenchmen, who had fallen the victims of their indolence irrnS
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 18
11    ft .1 iff j I / L
and rash confidence in these faithless people. All anger
for their abuse of me for my timely advice was swallowed up
in pity for their fate. But yesterday these people were the
merriest of the merry. What were they now? Waiting a
few moments, we saw the supposed bear descend the tree,
and advance direcdy to the branch on which we were encamped. We had observed that the water of this branch,
almost immediately upon touching the plain, was lost in the
arid sand, and gave no other evidence of its existence, than
a few green trees. In a moment we saw buttons glitter on
this object from the reflected glare of the sun's rays. We
were undeceived in regard to our bear, and now supposed it
an Indian, decorated with a coat of the unfortunate Frenchmen. We concluded to allow him to approach close enough
to satisfy our doubts, before we fired upon him. We lay
still, until he came within fair rifle distance, when to our
astonishment, we discovered it to be the French captain!
We instantly made ourselves known from our perch. He
uttered an exclamation of joy, and fell prostrate on the earth.
Fatigue and [88] thirst had brought him to death's door.
We raised him, and carried him to our camp. He was
wounded in the head and face with many and deep wounds,
the swelling of which had given him fever. I happened to
have with me some salve, which my father gave me when I
left the mines. I dressed his wounds. Having taken food,
and sated his thirst, hope returned to him. So great was his
change in a few hours, that he was able to move off with us
that evening. In his present miserable and forlorn condition, I exercised too much humanity and forbearance to
think of adverting to our quarrel of the preceding evening.
Probably estimating my forbearance aright, he himself led
to the subject. He observed in a tone apparently of deep
compunction, that if he had had the good sense and good
temper to have listened to my apprehensions and cautions,
both he and his people might have been now gaily riding 1824-1830]
Pattie's Personal Narrative
over the prairies. Oppressed with mixed feelings, I hardly
knew what reply to make, and only remarked, that it was
too late now to lament over what was unchangeable, and that
the will of God had been done. After a silence of some time,
he resumed the conversation, and related all the particulars
of the terrible disaster, that had come to his knowledge.
His own escape he owed to retaining a pocket pistol, when
the rest of their arms were stacked. This he fired at an
Indian approaching him, who fell, and thus enabled him to
fly; not, however, until he had received a number of severe
wounds from their clubs. I had not the heart to hear liim
relate what became of the rest of his comrades. I could
easily divine that the treacherous savages had murdered
every one. Feelings of deep and burning revenge arose in
my bosom, and I longed for nothing so much as to meet with
these monsters on any thing like terms of equality. About
sunset we could distinctly discern the river bottom about five
miles distant from us. When it became dark, we descried
three fires close together, which we judged to be those of
savages in pursuit of us. Like some white people, the
Indians never forgive any persons that they have outraged
and injured. We halted, and took counsel, what [89] was
to be done. We concluded that my companion and myself
should leave our wounded companion to take care of the
horses, and go and reconnoitre the camp, in which were these
fires, and discover the number of the Indians, and if it was
great, to see how we could be most likely to pass them unobserved. When we had arrived close to the fires