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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 1906

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Array     1*1  Early Western Travels
Volume XXVIII  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 ofthe Lewis and Clark Expedition," "Hennepin's
New Discovery," etc.
Volume  XXVIII
Part I of Farnham's Travels in the Great Western
Prairies, etc., May 21-October  16, 1839
Cleveland, Ohio
The Arthur H. Clark Company
i Copyright 1906, by
Ste «tLafttattif. 3fr«»
Preface to Volumes XXVIII and XXLX.    The Editor
Travels in the Great Western Prairies, the Anahtjac
and Rocky Mountains, and in the Oregon Country.
[Part I, being Volume I and chapters i-iv of Volume II of
the London edition, 1843.]    Thomas Jefferson Farnham.
Preface by the First Editor
Author's Preface
Author's Introduction
Author's Table of Contents
Text of Part I .
45  y .
•Facsimile of title-page to Farnham's Travels, Vol. I   .     23
»  Il
With these two volumes our series returns to Oregon, and
to the question already shadowed forth upon the horizon,
whether this vast territory drained by the Columbia River
should belong to the United States or to Great Britain.
Since the treaty of joint occupancy (1818) the English fur-
traders had been in almost exclusive control. From the
upper waters of the great rivers that drain the Arctic plains
they had pushed their way across the Rockies down into
the fertile southern valleys, and had explored, mapped, and
threaded the entire region lying between Spanish territory on the south and Russian on the north. Between the
great mountain barrier on the east, and the Pacific on the
west, they held the country as a vast preserve in which fur-
bearing animals might be reared and hunted. For many
years the American right to joint occupancy lay in abeyance.
After his thrilling journey of exploration and adventure,
Jedediah S. Smith was cordially received at Fort Vancouver (1828), his injuries by predatory Indians avenged, and
his furs purchased by the company's factor; in return for
this courtesy, however, he considered himself in honor
bound to restrict the further trapping enterprises of his firm
to the eastern side of the Rocky Mountains. When Captain
Bonneville, with his band of trappers, reached the forts on
the upper Columbia (1833) he was courteously but firmly
refused the privilege of trading at posts of the Hudson's
Bay Company. Thus, fifteen years after joint occupancy
had been arranged, there was scarcely an American in
i IO
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 28
In our volume xxi we traced the rise and fall of the trading adventures to this far Western territory of Captain
Nathaniel Wyeth of Massachusetts. His two expeditions
left on the Willamette River a small residuum of New Engenders, and before his departure he had seen the corning
of the first American missionaries, pioneers then as now in
advancing American interests. The existence of Oregon
had now come to be known to a considerable body of our
people, its fertility and beauty had been enlarged upon by
several writers, its advantages pictured, and its possession
In returning to the United States, one of the missionaries,
Jason Lee, undertook a tour through the border states of
the West, lecturing and raising funds for his work. In
the autumn of 1838 he stopped at the Illinois town of
Peoria, where his glowing descriptions of the land whence
he came produced an impression sufficiently lasting to
result in the organization of an emigration society, which
prepared to set forth for this land of promise early the following spring. Among the band was a young Vermont
lawyer, Thomas Jefferson Farnham, who a few years earlier had removed to Illinois, and who now sought on the
Western prairies recuperation of his wasting health through
outdoor exploits and change of scene. He also avowed a
patriotic purpose to take possession of this fair territory of
Oregon for the American flag, and to aid in resisting the
British fur-trade monopoly. His address and eloquence
won him the honor of being chosen captain of the small
band of nineteen adventurers, none of whom knew aught
of wilderness life or was prepared to endure the hardships of
the proposed journey.
Notwithstanding the serious purpose expressed in the
motto worked by Mrs. Farnham upon the flag of the little
company—"Oregon or the Grave"—they set forth in a 1839-18461
holiday mood, ill-equipped for traversing the vast and
rugged spaces lying between Illinois and the Pacific Slope.
Each member of the "Oregon Dragoons," as they styled
themselves, was expected to furnish $160 in money to serve
for outfit and provisions.
The thirtieth of May, 1839, found them leaving Independence, on the western border of Missouri, provided with
"bacon and flour, salt and pepper sufficient for four hundred miles," as well as the necessary arms and ammunition
carefully packed on horses and mules. By the advice of
two experienced fur-traders returning from the mountains,
the travellers determined upon the Santa Fé trail, probably
because of the escort privileges in connection with the annual
caravan just setting forth. Therein they made a serious
mistake, for the route across the mountains from the upper
Arkansas to Snake River valley was infinitely more difficult
and dangerous than the ordinary Oregon Trail, by way of
the North Platte, Sweetwater, and South Pass; it was also
less frequented by experienced mountain men, who could
offer advice and assistance to the amateur travellers.
Moreover the usual seeds of dissension and dissatisfaction
had already been sown in the litde party, each blaming
others for the hardships and trials already experienced.
Some of Farnham's followers pronounced the leader
incompetent. Several deserted at the Lower Crossing of
the Arkansas, preferring to follow the caravan to Santa Fé;
while at Bent's Fort, on the upper trail, the remainder of
the party left their leader with but four companions, one
of these a man who had been accidentally wounded in
crossing the plains. Of the "mutineers," who crossed to
Fort St. Vrain, above Denver, the majority arrived in Oregon that or the following year.
Farnham, however, having secured a competent guide,
with undiminished energy pushed on across the ranges of
1 12
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 28
the Colorado mountains, through the mazes of its parks and
passes, and halted awhile at Brown's Hole. This was the
most difficult part of the journey. With graphic touches
our author makes us feel the hardships, hunger and thirst,
the Indian alarms, and the surprise and joy of meeting
mountain men; while at the same time he is not oblivious
to the rugged grandeur of the scenery, or the delicate tints
of sunrise and sunset, and the majesty of the starlit nights
among the hills. At Fort David Crockett, in Brown's Hole,
two more of Farnham's comrades turned back, discouraged
by the gloomy prospects, and the disheartening accounts of
Oregon furnished by a returning guide. Here also Kelly,
the unerring scout, was to leave the party, now consisting of
but three travellers, who were under the necessity of trusting
to the guidance of Shoshoni Indian " Jim" as far as the hospitable gates of Fort Hall. Here, the Shoshoni guide was
exchanged for a Wallawalla, who contracted to conduct
the party across the arid wastes of Snake River valley, halting briefly at Fort Boisé, and leading the way over the Blue
Mountains to the valley of the Wallawalla and the upper
Columbia. There meeting a Christian Cayuse on his way
to Dr. Whitman's mission at Waiilatpu, Farnham turned
aside for a brief rest at this hospitable station, whose
owners were "desirous to ask me how long a balloon line
had been running between the States and the Pacific."
Resting a few days under their mission roof, Farnham
gives a favorable report of the activities and the success of
the missionaries. Passing on his way by Fort Wallawalla
down the Columbia to the Hudson's Bay Company's
headquarters at Fort Vancouver, he there received the
customary courtesy extended to all travellers in that
distant region, this account closing our volume xxviii.
Three weeks' recuperation from the hardships of the four
months of difficult journeying refreshed our traveller suffi- 1839-1846]
ciendy to set him forth on an exploration of the settied portions of the country. He visited the Willamette valley, where
he met the Methodist missionaries, and his presence
furnished the opportunity to discuss the desirability of
American occupation. A petition was thereupon set
on foot, of which Farnham was undoubtedly the author,
signed by seventy settlers of the valley, praying the United
States to take them under its protection and describing
the country as " one of the most favored portions of
the globe." The language of the petition being much
more favorable to Oregon than Farnham's later writings,
these latter caused some acrimony among his Willamette
hosts, one of whom told Commodore Wilkes, the following
year, that a few days before Farnham left his party were
lost in the woods and obliged to pass a cold and dark night,
standing up to their ankles in mire, which cured the visitor
of his enthusiasm for the country.1 Certain it is that Farnham wrote from the Sandwich Islands early in January,
1840, that everything in the Oregon country had been much
overrated except the seat of the Methodist mission.3
Whatever may have been the cause of Farnham's change
of heart, after a brief sojourn, he left Oregon on the Hudson's Bay Company's vessel bound for Hawaii. Thence
he took passage for the coast of California, where he arrived
at Monterey during one of those tempestuous revolutions
to which Latin-American governments are subject. A
number of American residents had been imprisoned by the
successful revolutionists on charge of complicity with the
losing party. According to Farnham's own account,3 given
in somewhat grandiloquent style, it was largely due to his
1 Charles Wilkes, Narrative o] United States Exploring Expedition (Philadelphia
1844), iv, p. 348.
2 Niles' Register, lviii, p. 242.
* Travels in the Calijornias and Scenes in the Pacific Ocean (New York, 1844).
■ana 14
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 28
efforts that the lives of the Americans were saved, and that
they were shipped on transports to Mexico for trial. Lingering a few days longer to enjoy a fiesta on the seashore near
Monterey, and to visit the neighboring Carmelo mission, our
traveller embarked for Santa Barbara, finally arriving at
San Bias on the sixteenth of May, 1840. Thence he undertook a hurried journey across Mexico and through its gulf
to New Orleans, which brought him once more to the
confines of his native land. He now "ascended the
Father of Waters to the holy and blooming plains of my
Prairie Home—to wife—and the graves of those I loved
among the trees at Prairie Lodge."
The remainder of Farnham's life was passed in literary
labors, and in travels throughout the United States in search
of health. In 1841 he was in New York City. At one
time the family moved to Wisconsin for a brief period, but
soon settled in the neighborhood of Alton, Illinois. About
1846 Farnham returned to California, where he died at San
Francisco in September, 1848. His wife, Eliza Woodson
Farnham, acquired some reputation as an author and philanthropist. She successfully attempted prison reform
among the women inmates at Sing Sing, for a time assisted
Dr. Howe in the Massachusetts Institute for the Blind, and
revisited California, of whose early days she wrote entertainingly.
No doubt Farnham's books did much to awaken interest in the Western country, and to call attention to its possibilities. Written in an easy, attractive style, although
somewhat garrulous in tone and inclined to speculative
digressions, they were in their day popular works and ran
through several editions, being widely read in the Eastern
and Middle States.4   Their interest for our present series
* In successive editions, his books appear under different titles; but the subject
matter is largely the same, one detailing his experiences crossing the continent and 1839-1846]
lies chiefly in the description of the journey across the plains,
by a route differing much from those of other travellers.
Farnham's descriptions are detailed and well phrased.
The first after Pike to thread the passes of the upper
Arkansas, he vividly portrays the Colorado mountain valleys, streams, and ranges, the grandeur and nobility of the
views, and the fertility of the great parks, and makes his
readers realize the hardy endurance needed for such
mountain journeyings in that early day. Encounters with
Indians were rare in these regions, but occasional meetings
with solitary trappers add a human interest to the picture
of the wilderness. The life of these mountain men —
their Indian families, their poverty, generosity, recklessness, and almost passionate attachment for the wild life
that claimed them — Farnham describes with a sympathetic touch. He also gathered information at first hand
concerning the Indians of the region, the status of the
fur-trade, and the far-reaching operations of the Hudson's
Bay Company. His information on Oregon is, to be sure,
largely the report of hearsay. He includes in his descriptions the vast region of New Caledonia, whose factors
he met at Fort Vancouver, and whose resources and geography he describes in general terms. The value of his
Oregon material lies chiefly in the reports of his own experiences and impressions. It is interesting for us to know
how the Western missionary operations, the progress of
early Willamette settlement, and the aspect of the new land
impressed a vivacious and observant New Englander with
a gift for easy narrative. His book is thus an important
contribution to our series.
The experiences of Father Pierre Jean de Smet, the inde-
in Oregon, the other narrating the California visit. To the latter was added in
later editions a history of the American conquest of California. Farnham also
published a work on Mexico, in style similar to the others. i6
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 28
fatigable Jesuit missionary traveller, were introduced to our
readers in volume xxvii of this series, where the initiation of
his Flathead mission, in Bitterroot valley, was narrated,
together with his subsequent return to St. Louis by way of
the country of the Crows and the Missouri River. The
second account of his work, which we here republish, is
entitled Oregon Missions and Travels over the Rocky Mountains in 184.5-46 (New York, 1847).
After returning from his second journey to the Flathead
country, which included his first visit to the Columbia and
the Oregon settlements (1840-42), Father de Smet went to
Europe to obtain re-inforcements for bis mission and apostolic sanction for his work. Gathering a company of sisters
of Notre Dame to lay the foundation of a convent and school
in the Willamette valley, and enlarging his mission forces
by the addition of a Belgian and three Italian priests, Father
de Smet embarked from Antwerp for a sea voyage to the
Northwest Coast. This was sighted July 28, 1844, after a
tedious passage of eight months around Cape Horn.
Having established the nuns in their convent on the Willamette, Father de Smet set forth across the mountains to
visit his aboriginal neophytes, who had been gathered at
the missions of St. Mary and St. Francis Borgia. On his
way he instituted the mission of St. Ignatius for the Pend
d'Oreilles on the lake of that name. The following year,
a great journey was accomplished by the intrepid missionary
in search of the warlike Blackfeet, whose raids were so
disastrous to the peaceable Indians surrounding the missions. TMnking best to approach them through the medium
of the Hudson's Bay Company's traders, De Smet proceeded
to the head of Columbia River, crossed the divide to the
waters of the Saskatchewan, and found himself at the company's Rocky Mountain House on October 5, 1845. After
negotiations with the Blackfeet, he proceeded   thence to
_ 1839-1846]
Fort Augustus, where were spent the early weeks of the
winter of 1846. Impatient to be at work, the eager traveller
left his comfortable quarters early in March, proceeding on
the ice to Jasper House, at the eastern end of Athabasca
Pass, pressing on to the "Foot of the Great Glacière," there
awaiting the Columbian fur-trade brigade which arrived
early in May. The traders reported the pass in a dangerous condition, for the snow was deep and in a melting
state, and snowshoes were the only possible means of
travelling. Despite his unwieldy bulk, and bis unacquaint-
ance with such mode of travelling, the resolute missionary
immediately donned the prescribed foot-gear and amid much
hardship and suffering made his way with his faithful Indian guides over the mountain barrier to the forts of New
Caledonia. Thence he descended the Columbia to Fort
Colville which he reached by the end of May. Allowing
himself but a brief rest, he once more made the round of his
Oregon missions, going to Vancouver and the Willamette,
back across the Spokane plains to the Cœur d'Alêne mission,
and finally to St. Mary's, "the nursery of our missionary
operations in the Far West."
The expenses of the enlarging missions required consideration, so Father de Smet was deputed to visit St. Louis in
their behalf. On the way he once more sought his cherished
object of securing peace with the Blackfeet. This time his
mission proved successful, for after three weeks in a Blackfoot camp the good priest had the happiness not only to
establish an alliance between the Flathead chiefs who
accompanied Hm and their redoubtable foes, but also of
reconciling among the Blackfeet themselves two warring
bands of Blood and Piegan Indians. With a thankful
heart the missionary embarked from Fort Lewis, near the
site of the later Fort Benton, leaving Father Point to continue
his labors among the new admirers of the "black gowns." IHUW-WWHI
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 28
Floating in a tiny skiff down the upper Missouri, Fort
Union was reached October 11 ; Fort Berthold was passed
seven days later, and the end of the month found our tireless traveller the guest of Honoré Picotte at the American Company's Fort Pierre. Just below Council Bluffs he
encountered Brigham Young and his settlement of ten thousand Mormons, whose persecutions and sufferings the good
father declares, "will one day probably form a prominent
part of the history of the Far West." Once more in St.
Louis, the missionary terminates his volume with a sketch
of a Potawatomi mission and a graphic account of the custom of human sacrifice among the Pawnee Loups.
The later career of Father de Smet falls without the field
of our inquiry. Although in "labors abundant" until the
end of his days, he never returned as missionary to the mountain tribes among whom his earlier days were so happily
but strenuously spent. The superiors of his society found
other work for him in the province of St. Louis, permitting
him only an occasional visit of supervision to his "dear Indians" of the Far West. Thrice his aid was requested by
the United States government to assist in pacification,
and in important Indian negotiations. His influence
and fame among the red men was so great that a sight
of his black robe was sufficient to impel them to a peaceful
humor. His services to Western settlement were thus
In the volume of Oregon Missions, which we here republish, De Smet is seen in the fullness of his powers, physical
and mental. With few words, but with graphic touches,
he describes the regions through which he passes, and the
Indian tribes and their customs — thus adding much to
the material on far Western geography and ethnology
which has already been included in our series.
In the preparation of both these volumes for the press, the 1839-1846]
Editor has had the assistance of Louise Phelps Kellogg,
Ph.D., his editorial assistant on the staff of the Wisconsin
Historical Library.
R. G. T.
Madison, Wis., June, 1906.
II  Part I of Farnham's Travels in the Great Western:
Prairies, etc., May 2i-October 16, 1839
Reprint of Volume I and chapters i-iv of Volume II of original
London edition, 1843  TRAVELS
^uNtefcrr in ©rBinarp to T$tt JHettatç
This authentic account of the Great Western Prairies and
Oregon Territory supplies a deficiency which has been felt
for a long time. The author, by his own personal observations, has been enabled to furnish a very interesting narrative of travel; and whether he treats of the Prairies, or of
the Oregon region, the various incidents related by him cannot fail to give entertainment and instruction.
With respect to the Introduction, in which the Author
asserts the claims of the United States to the Oregon
Territory little need be said here: the subject will no
doubt receive the full consideration of the Governments
interested in the decision of the question.
London, 1843.
It was customary in old times for all Authors to enter the
world of letters on their knees, and with uncovered head, and
a bow of charming meekness write themselves some brainless dolt's "most humble and obedient servant." In later
days, the same feigned subserviency has shown itself in other
forms. One desires that some will kindly pardon the weakness and imbecility of his production; for, although these
faults may exist in his book, he wrote under "most adverse
circumstances," as the crying of a hopeful child, the quarrels
of his poultry, and other disasters of the season.
Another, clothed with the mantle of the sweetest self-
complacency, looks out from his Preface, like a sun-dog
on the morning sky, and merely shines out the query, "Am
I not a Sun? " while he secures a retreat for his self-love,
in case any body should suppose he ever indulged such a
singular sentiment.
[viii] A few others of our literary shades make no pretentions to modesty. They hold out to the world no need
of aid in laying the foundations of their fame; and, however adverse the opinions of the times may be to their
claims to renown, they are sure of living hereafter, and
only regret they should have lived a hundred years before
the world was prepared to receive them.
There is another class, who, confident that they understand the subjects they treat of, if nothing else, and that,
speaking plain truth for the information of plain men, they
cannot fail to narrate matter of interest concerning scenes
or incidents they have witnessed, and sensations they have
experienced — trouble   not   themselves   with   the   qualms
•>* 28
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 28
of inability, or lack of polish, but speak from the heart.
These write their names on their title-pages, and leave
their readers at leisure to judge of their merits as they
develop themselves in the work itself, without any special
pleading or any deprecatory prayers to the reviews, by
The Oregon Territory forms the terminus of these
Travels; and, as that country is an object of much interest
on both sides of the Atlantic, I have thought proper to
preface my wanderings there by a brief discussion of the
question as to whom it belongs.
By treaties between the United States and Spain and
Mexico and Russia, the southern boundary of Oregon is
fixed on the 42nd parallel of north latitude; and the northern
on an east and west line, at 540 40' north.1 Its natural
boundary on the east is the main ridge of the Rocky Mountains, situated about four hundred miles east of the Pacific
Ocean, which washes it on the west. From these data the
reader will observe that it is about six hundred miles in
length, and four hundred in breadth.
According to the well-established laws of nations applicable to the premises, the title to the sovereignty over it
depends upon the prior discovery and occupancy [x] of it, and
upon cessions by treaty from the first discoverer and occupant.
These several important matters I proceed to examine, with
Greenough's History of the North-west Coast of America, and
the works therein named, before me as sources of reference.2
1 Our treaty with Spain, made in 1819, adjusted the boundary as far as the Pacific
Ocean, between the latter's possessions in North America and those of the United
States; see Gregg's Commerce oj the Prairies, in our volume xix, p. 217, note 52.
By this convention the United States considered itself the heir of all Spanish claims
north of the international boundary line (420).
Our treaty with Mexico, in 1828, ratified the boundary as defined by the
Spanish treaty of 1819.
By our convention with Russia in 1824, the two countries agreed to make no
settlements north or south, respectively, of the Une 54° 40'. This by no means established the United States claim as far as the line specified.— Ed.
2 Robert Greenhow, born in Virginia in 1800, was educated at William and Mary
fl m
30 Early Western Travels [Vol. 28
From the year 1532 to 1540, the Spanish government sent
four expeditions to explore the north-west coast of America,
in search of what did not exist — a water communication
from the Pacific to the Atlantic. These fleets were severally
commanded by Mazuela, Grijalva, Becera, and Ulloa.
They visited the coast of California, and the south-western
shore of Oregon.3
The next naval expedition, under the same Power, commanded by Bartoleme Ferrello, penetrated to the north as
far as latitude 430, and discovered Cape Blanco.4
Juan de Fuca discovered and entered the Straits that
bear his name in the year 1592. He spent twenty days
within the Straits in making himself acquainted with the
surrounding country, trading with the natives, and in taking
College and later studied medicine in New York, afterwards spending some years
in Europe. In 1828 he was appointed clerk in the department of state at Washington, where he soon rose to the position of official translator and librarian, an
office retained until 1850, when he went to California with the United States Land
Commission, dying in San Francisco in 1854. In 1837 he prepared, at the request
of the senate, a History oj the Discovery offyhe Northwest Coast, published in Senate Docs., 26 Cong., 1 sess., 174. This was later expanded into a History oj Oregon and Calijornia (Boston, 1845). His access to the records of the state department, and his knowledge of Spanish sources, make Greenhow's books authoritative in their field.— Ed.
8 In his History oj Oregon and Calijornia, Greenhow adds information to that
given in his first volume, regarding these expeditions. His chief source of information was the work of Herrera, although he secured journals of some of the voyagers from W. H. Prescott. All of these expeditions were inspired by Hernando
de Cortez. The first (1532) was headed by his kinsman Hurtado de Mendoza,
whose lieutenant Juan de Mazuela brought back one vessel after his superior officer
had been killed. In 1533, Hernando Grivalja and Diego Becerra were sent
to search for the survivors. The former returned without touching mainland;
Becerra was killed in a mutiny, and his pilot, Fortuno Ximenes, is supposed to
have touched the southern end of the peninsula of Lower California. Farnham
omits mention of Cortez's own expedition of 1535-36, when he also is supposed
to have reached Lower California. In 1539-40, Francisco de Ulloa proved that
this was not an island, and explored its coast to about 300 north latitude.— Ed.
* This relates to the voyage (1542-43) of Juan Rodriguez de Cabrillo. The
leader of the expedition died upon one of the Santa Barbara Islands (January,
I543)> but his pilot Bartolomé Ferrelo sailed farther north.    The location of his 1839]
Farnham's Travels
possession of the adjacent territories in the name of the
Spanish Crown.5 The Straits de Fuca enter the land in
latitude 490 north, and, running [xi] one hundred miles in
a south-easterly direction, change their course north-west-
wardly, and enter the ocean again under latitude 510 north.
Thus it appears that Spain discovered the Oregon Coast
from latitude 420 to 490 north two hundred and fifty-one
years ago; and, as will appear by reference to dates, one
hundred and eighty-four years prior to the celebrated English Expedition under Captain Cook.'
In 1602, and subsequent years, Corran and Viscaino, in
the employment of Spain, surveyed many parts of the Oregon Coast, and in the following year Aguiler, in the same
service, discovered the mouth of the Umpqua River in latitude 440 north.7
northern point of exploration is given as 430, which would be near Cape Blanco;
but recent editors consider that there was an early error of calculation, and that
Cape Mendocino is the more probable point. Ferrelo in all likelihood advanced
as far as the southern boundary of Oregon. See translation of journal of the expedition, with valuable notes by H. W. Henshaw, in United States Geographical
Surveys West oj the One Hundredth Meridian (Washington, 1879), vii, pp. 293-
314.— Ed.
5 The voyage of Juan de Fuca is generally considered apocryphal. Greenhow, however, thinks it probable, from the correspondence of the straits now
called by his name with the great passage he claimed to have entered. The only
authority for the alleged voyage of De Fuca, who was a Greek pilot in the service
of Spain, is the relation of Michael Lok, an Englishman, who claimed to have met
De Fuca at Venice. Lok's story was published by Purchas in his Pilgrims (1625)
and on its face was a bid for patronage from the English court.— Ed.
• For Cook's discovery of the Hawaiian Islands and his death thereupon, see
Franchère's Narrative in our volume vi, p. 209, note 21. During his northward
expedition he skirted the entire Northwest Coast from Cape Mendocino to North
Cape, in the Arctic Ocean, not finding, however, either the entrance to the Columbia or to Puget Sound.— Ed.
>" The expedition commanded by Admiral Torribio Gomez de Corvan and
Sebastian Vizcaino was equipped by the Mexican governor, Count de Monterey
(1602). Corvan returned home from the harbor of Monterey, while Vizcaino
with his lieutenant Martin Aguilar pushed northward. The identification of the
headlands which they named, is now difficult. H. H. Bancroft, History oj the
Northwest Coast (San Francisco, 1886), i, p. 148, concludes that neither Vizcaino
|jî|ggMtaK££ 32
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 28
In August, 1774, Parez and Martinez, under the Spanish
flag, discovered and anchored in Nootka Sound. It lies
between 490 and 500 of north latitude.8
In 1774 and 1775 the north-west coast was explored by
Parez and Martinez of the Spanish service, as far north as
the 58th parallel of latitude.9
On the 6th day of May, 1789, the Spanish Captain Martinez, commanding two national armed vessels, took possession of Nootka Sound and the adjoining country, [xii]
Previous to this event, say the authorities referred to, no
jurisdiction had been exercised by the subjects of any civilized power on any part of the north-west coast of America
between 370 and 6o° of north latitude.
Thus is it shown on how firm and incontrovertible data
the Spanish claims rest to the prior discovery and occupancy
of the Oregon Territory.
But as against England this claim was rendered if possible more certain by the treaty of February 10th, 1763, between Spain, England and France — by which England
was confirmed in her Canadian possessions, and Spain in
her discoveries and purchased possessions west of the Mississippi. If, then, England has any claim to Oregon as derived
from Spain, it must rest on treaty stipulations entered into
subsequently to the 10th of February, 1763.
nor Aguilar passed 420 latitude.    Farnham's identification of the river described
by Aguilar as the Umpqua appears to rest upon his own authority.— Ed.
8 The account of the expedition of Juan Perez, who with his lieutenant Estévan
Martinez penetrated to the northern end of Queen Charlotte's Island, and passed
some months in a bay probably to be identified with Nootka Sound, was not given
to the world by the Spaniards until years later; the English therefore considered
themselves, in the person of Captain Cook, the discoverers of this portion of the
Northwest Coast.— Ed.
" This refers to the voyage of Bruno Heceta in 1775, Juan Perez being second
in command. This expedition discovered the mouth of the Columbia and took
possession for Spain of the entire Northwest Coast from 420 to 550 of north latitude.— Ed. 1839]
Farnham's Travels
We accordingly find her to have formed a treaty with
Spain in the year 1800, settling the difficulties between the
two powers in relation to Nootka Sound. By the first
article of the convention, Spain agreed to restore to England
those portions of the country around Nootka Sound which
England [xiii] has so occupied in regard to time and manner as to have acquired a right to them. The 5th article
stipulates as follows:
" 5th. As well in the places which are to be restored to
the British subjects by virtue of the first article as in all other
ports of the North-West Coast of North America, or of the
Island, adjacent, situate to the north of the coast already
occupied by Spain wherein the subjects of either of the
two Powers shall have made settlements since the month
of April 1789, or shall hereafter make any. The subjects
of the other shall have free access and shall cany on their
trade without any disturbance or molestation." 10
The inquiries that naturally arise here are, on what places
or parts of the North-West Coast did this article operate;
what rights were granted by it, and to what extent the
United States, as the successors of Spain, in the ownership
of Oregon, are bound by this treaty?
These will be considered in their order.
Clearly the old Spanish settlements of the Californias
10 This is a brief but imperfect résumé of what is known as the Nootka Sound
controversy. Martinez seized three English vessels, and carried them as a prize
to San Bias, Mexico. The English resenting this, war nearly ensued, but the
difficulty was adjusted by the Nootka convention, signed October 28, 1790 (not
1800). The Washington State Historical Society has recently signalized this event
by erecting a monument at Nootka Sound, containing the following inscription:
"Vancouver and Quadra [English and Spanish representatives respectively] met
here in August 1792 under the treaty between Spain and Great Britain of October 1790. Erected by the Washington University State Historical Society, August,
1903." The matter was not wholly adjusted until 1795. Consult Bancroft,
Northwest Coast, i, pp. 204-238; Greenhow, Oregon and Calijornia, pp. 185-215,
and particularly W. R. Manning, "Nootka Sound Controversy," in American
Historical Association Report, 1904, pp. 283-475.— Ed. 34 Early Western Travels [Vol. 28
were not included among the places or parts of the North-
West Coast on which this article was intended to operate,
for the reason that England, the party in [xiv] interest, has
never claimed that they were. But on the contrary, in all her
diplomatic and commercial intercourse with Spain since
1800, she has treated the soil of the Californias with the
same consideration that she has any portion of the Spanish
territories in Europe.— And since that country has formed
a department of the Mexican Republic, England has set up
no claims within its limits under this treaty.
Was Nootka Sound embraced among the places referred
to in this article? That was the only settlement on the
North West Coast, of the subjects of Spain or England,
made between the month of April, 1787, and the date of the
treaty, and was undoubtedly embraced in the Fifth Article.
And so was the remainder of the coast, lying northward of
Nootka, on which Spain had claims. It did not extend
south of Nootka Sound. Not an inch of soil in the valley
of the Columbia and its tributaries was included in the provisions of the treaty of 1763.
Our next inquiry relates to the nature and extent of the
rights at Nootka, and northward, which England acquired
by this treaty. They are denned in the concluding phrase
of the article before cited. The subjects [xv] of both
the contracting Powers "shall have free access, and shall
carry on their trade without disturbance or molestation."
In other words the subjects of England shall have the same
right to establish trading posts and carry on a trade with
the Indians, as were, or should be enjoyed by Spanish
subjects in those regions. Does this stipulation abrogate
the sovereignty of Spain over those territories? England
herself can scarcely urge with seriousness a proposition
so ridiculously absurd. A grant of an equal right to
settle in a country for purposes of trade, and a guarantee i839]
Farnham's Travels
against " disturbance " and " molestation," does not, in
any vocabulary, imply a cession of the sovereignty of the
territory in which these acts are to be done.
The number and nature of the rights granted to England
by this treaty, are simply a right to the joint occupancy of
Nootka and the Spanish territories to the northward, for
purposes of trade with the Indians; a joint tenancy, subject
to be terminated at the will of the owner of the title to the
fee and the sovereignty; and, if not thus terminated, to be
terminated by the operations of the necessity of things —
the annihilation of the trade [xvi] — the destruction of
the Indians themselves as they should fall before the
march of civilisation. It could not have been a perpetual
right, in the contemplation of either of the contracting
But there are reasons why the provisions of the treaty of
1763 never had been, and never can be binding on the
United States as the successors of Spain in the Oregon territory.
There is the evidence of private gentlemen of the most
undoubted character to show, that Spain neither surrendered
to England any portion of Nootka, or other parts of the
north-west coast; for that if she offered to do so, the offer
was not acted upon by England; and testimony to the
same effect in the debates of the times in the Parliament
of Britain, in which this important fact is distinctly asserted,
authorise us to declare that the treaty of 1763 was annulled
by Spain, and so considered by England herself. And
if England did not mean to show the world that she
acquiesced in the non-fulfilment of Spain, she should have
re-asserted her rights, if she thought she had any, and not
left third parties to infer that she had quietly abandoned
them. The United States had every reason to infer [xvii]
such abandonment; and   in view  of it, thus  manifested, Ml
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 28
purchased Oregon of Spain. Under these circumstances,
with what justice can England, after the lapse of nearly
half a century, come forward and demand of the successor
of Spain rights in Oregon which she thus virtually abandoned — which were refused by Spain, and to which she
never had the shadow of a right on the score of prior
discovery, occupancy or purchase? The perpetually controlling and selfishness of her policy is the only plea
that history will assign to her in accounting for her
pretensions in this matter.
England also places her claim to Oregon upon the right
of discovery.    Let us examine this : —
The first English vessel which visited that coast was commanded by Francis Drake. He entered the Pacific in 1770 u
and sailed up the coast to the 45th parallel of north latitude,
and then returned to the 38th degree; accepted the crown
of the native Prince in the name of his Queen — called the
country New Albion, returned to England and was knighted.
[xviii] The portions of Oregon seen by Drake had
been seen and explored by the Spaniards several times
within the previous thirty years.12
Sir Thomas Cavendish next came upon the coast; but
did not see so much of it as Drake had seen.18
The celebrated Captain Cook followed Cavendish.    He
u This date is incorrect. It was in 1577; and he sailed to the 48th parallel of
north latitude.— English Editor.
ls Much has been written on Drake's famous voyage of circumnavigation (1577-
80), when first of any known Englishmen he explored the Northwest Coast of
America, searching for a Northwest passage. Bancroft concludes (Northwest
Coast, p. 145) that he did not go north of 430 north latitude. See also on this subject, Julian S. Corbett, Drake and the Tudor Navy (New York, 1898), i, p. 306;
and especially Miller Christy, Silver Map oj the World (London, 1904), p. 20,
wherein, on the evidence of the chart, Drake's voyage is traced as far north as 480.
For Drake's Bay, see our volume vi, p. 257, note 66.— Ed.
18 It is generally conceded that Sir Thomas Cavendish's freebooting expedition of 1587 did not proceed north of the peninsula of Lower California.— Ed. 1839]
Farnham's Travels
saw the coast in latitude 43 and 48 degrees. He passed
the Straits de Fuca without seeing them, and anchored in
Nootka Sound on the 16th February, 1779." In trading
with the Indians there, he found that they had weapons of
iron, ornaments of brass, and spoons of Spanish manufacture. Nootka had been discovered and occupied by the
Spaniards four years before Cook arrived.
The subsequent English navigators—Messrs. Vancouver,15
and others, so far as the Oregon coast was the field of then-
labours, were followers in the tracks pointed out by the
previous discoveries of the Spaniards.
So ends the claim of England to Oregon, on the right of
prior discovery. As opposed to England, Spain's rights on
this principle were incontestible.
[xix] By the treaty of Florida, ratified February 22d, 1819,
Spain ceded to the United States her right in the Oregon
territory, in the following words: " His Catholic Majesty
cedes to the said United States all his rights, claims, and pretensions to any territories eastjfand north of said line;"
meaning the 42d parallel of north latitude, commencing at
the head waters of the Arkansas, and running west to the
Pacific; 1 and for himself, his heirs and successors, renounces
all claim to the said territories for ever."
But the United States have rights to Oregon which of
themselves annihilate the pretensions not only of England
but the world. Her citizens first discovered that the country on which Nootka Sound is situated was an island; they
first navigated that part of the Straits of Fuca lying between
Puget's Sound andQueen Charlotte's Island, and discovered
the main coast of north-west America, from latitude 480 to
500 north.   American citizens also discovered Queen Char-
! He was killed on the 14th February, 1779.— English Ed.
" For Vancouver see Franchère's Narrative, given in our volume vi, p. 184,
note 2.— Ed. WM
38 Early Western Travels [Vol. 28
lotte's Island, sailed around it, and discovered the main land
to the east of it, as far north as latitude 55°.ie
England can show no discoveries between these latitudes
so important as these; and consequently has not equal rights
with the [xx] Americans as a discoverer, to that part of Oregon north of the 49th degree of latitude. We also discovered
the Columbia River;17 and its whole valley, in virtue of
that discovery, accrues to us under the laws of nations.
One of these laws is that the nation which discovers the
mouth of a river, by implication discovers the whole country
watered by it. We discovered the mouth of the Columbia
and most of its branches; and that valley is ours against the
world — ours, also, by purchase from Spain, the first discoverer and occupant of the coast — ours by prior occupancy
of its great river and valley, and by that law which gives us,
in virtue of such discovery and occupancy, the territories
naturally dependent upon such valley.18 We are the rightful and sole owner of all those parts of Oregon, which are
la Farnham here refers to the voyages of the "Columbia" and "Washington"
(1787), sent out by Boston merchants under command of Captains John Kendrick and Robert Gray. After wintering at Nootka (1788-89), Gray explored the
coast to the northward. Unaware of earlier English explorations, he christened
Queen Charlotte's as Washington Island. The question of Kendrick's exploration (1790) of Puget Sound is much in doubt. Farnham makes a specious plea
at this point — his cited authority, Greenhow, admits the discovery (1787) of
Queen Charlotte's Island by Dixon, and by Berkely (1787) of the Straits of Juan
de Fuca. A recent historian of Oregon (H. S. Lyman, History oj Oregon, ii, p.
93), however, claims that the Americans by their boldness of exploration and exact charting of the northern shores, were the real discoverers of the territory as
far as 540 40'.— Ed.
17 Referring to the second voyage of Captain Robert Gray. See our volume
vi, p. 183, note 1.— Ed.
18 The prior occupancy was the settlement at Astoria, for which see prefaces
to Franchère's Narrative, in our volume vi, and Ross's Oregon Settlers in our volume vii. After the close of the War of 1812-15, the United States made application in accordance with the Treaty of Ghent for the restoration of Astoria, which
accordingly was formally transferred, October 6, 1818, to Commissioner J. H.
Prévost and Captain J. Biddle. No use was made, however, of this sovereignty,
the treaty of joint occupancy being signed October 20, of the same year.— Ed. 1839]
Farnham's Travels
not watered by the Columbia, lying on its northern and
southern border, and which, in the language of the law, are
naturally dependent upon it. Oregon territory, for all these
reasons is the rightful property of the United States.  CONTENTS
The Rendezvous — The Destination — The Education of Mules
— The Santa Fé Traders — The Mormons—The Holy War —
Entrance upon the Indian Territory — A Scene — An Encampment — A Loss — A Hunt — The Osage River — A Meeting
and Parting — Kauzaus Indians — An Indian Encampment —
Council Grove — Ruins — An Indian and his Wants — Elk —
A Tempest — Captain Kelly — A comfortless Night
Scarcity   of   Food — An   Incident — Looing   and   Bleating —
Messrs. Bents — Trade — Little Arkansas — A Nauseous Meal
— A Flood — An Onset — A Hard Ride — The Deliverance —
The Arkansas — An Attack — The Similitude of Death —
The Feast and a bit of Philosophy — The Traders Walworth
and Alvarez's Teams — A Fright — A Nation of Indians —
Their Camp and Hunts — A Treaty — A Tempest — Indian
Butchering — A Hunt among the Buffalo — A Wounded Man
— A Drive — A Storm and its Enemy — Night among the Buffalo — The Country and the Heavens — The Ford — A Mutiny
and its Consequences — Blistered Fingers — Liberty — Bent's
Fort — Disbanding .... ....
The Great Priarie Wilderness—Its Rivers and Soil — Its People
and their Territories — Choctaws — Chickasaws — Cherokees
— Creeks — Senecas and Shawnees — Seminoles — Pottawa-
tamies — Weas — Pionkashas — Peorias and Kaskaskias —
Ot.towas — Shawnees or Shawanoes — Delawares — Kausaus
— Kickapoos — Sauks and Foxes — Iowas — Otoes — Ome-
has — Puncahs — Pawnees, remnants — Carankauas — Cu-
manche, remnants — Knistineaux — Naudowisses or Sioux —
Chippeways, and their traditions   ......
Fort William — its Structure, Owners, People, Animals, Business,
Adventures, and Hazards — A Division — A March — Fort el Il
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 28
Puebla — Trappers and Whisky — A Genius — An Adventurous
Iroquois — A Kentuckian — Horses and Servant — A Trade
— A Start — Arkansas and Country — Wolfano Mountains —
Creeks — Rio Wolfano — A Plague of Egypt — Cordilleras —
James' Peak—Pike's Peak — A Bath—The Prison of the
Arkansas—Entrance of the Rocky Mountains — A Vale      .    161
An Ascent — A Misfortune — A Death — The Mountain of the
Holy Cross— Leaping Pines— Killing a Buffalo [xxiii] — Asses
and Tyrants — Panther, &c.— Geography — Something about
descending the Colorado of the West — Dividing Ridges — A
Scene •— Tumbleton's Park — A War Whoop — Meeting of Old
Fellow Trappers — A Notable Tramp — My Mare — The etiquette of the Mountains — Kelly's Old Camp, &c.— A Great
Heart — Little Bear River — Vegetables and Bitterness — Two
White Men, a Squaw and Child — A Dead Shot — What is
Tasteful—Trapping—Blackfoot and Sioux—A Bloody Incident — A Cave — Hot Spring — The Country — A Surprise
— American and Canadian Trappers — The Grand River —
Old Park — Death before us — The Mule — Despair
[v] CHAPTER VI  [I of Vol. n, original éd.]
Bear Hunt— Sulphur Puddle — The River — Wolves and their
Fare — Dog Eating — Little Snake River — Thirst — Deserts
— Mountains — Mountain Hottentots — Brown's Hole —
Fort   David Crockett — Traders — Winter and its Hilarities
— Love — The Way to get a Wife — A Recommendation to Civilized People -— The Colorado of the West — Club
Indians — The Shoshonies — An Indian Temperance Society
— The Crows — The Blackfeet — Unburied Skeletons — The
Arrapahoes, and Citizenship among them — War Parties —
Lodge of the Great Spirit — Religious Ceremonies — The Vow
and an Incident — The First Shoshonie who saw a White Man
An Arrival from Fort Hall — An Account from Oregon — Return
of two of my companions to the States — A startling Condition
— An Indian Guide — A Farewell — [vi] How a Horse studies
Geology — A Camp — Dog Mutton superseded — A Scene —
Sheetskadee — Butes — Desolation — Midnight Scene in the
Mountains — Indian Jim and the Buffalo — Hungry Stomachs
— A fat Shot — Fine Eye-sight — An old Trapper picked
up— Beautiful Desert—"Hos, Hos"— Meek the Bear Killer
— A wild Vale — Steamboat Spring — Natural Soda   Foun- 1839]
Farnham's Travels
tains — Neighbouring Landscape—A hard Drive — Valley
of Chasm — Nature's Vase — A heavy March — Passing the
Mountains — A charming Gorge — Entrance into Oregon —
The South Branch of the Columbia — Fort Hall and its
Hospitalities .        .        .        . . .        .        .        .274
The Rocky Mountains and their Spurs — Geography of the
Mountain Region — Wyeth — The Outset — The Beaver
Catcher's Bride — Trois Butes — Addition from a Monastery
— Orisons — A Merry Mountain Trapper — Root Diggers —
Enormous Springs — Volcanic Hearths and Chasms — Carbo
— An old Chief — A Bluff — Boisais River — Incident of
Trade — The Bonaks — The Dead Wail — Fort Boisais, its
Salmon, Butter, and Hearty Cheer — Mons. Payette — Curiosity — Departure — Passing the Blue Mountains — The
Grandeur   of them — Their  Forests, Flowers, and  Torrents
— Descent of the Mountains — Plain, a Christian Crane —
Arrival   at   Dr.   Whitman's   Mission — Wallawalla — People
— Farm — Mill — Learning — Religion — Mr." Ermitinger —
Blair — Nez Percés — Racing — Indian Horse Training —
Sabbath and its joys in the Wilderness      .....
[vii]   CHAPTER IX [TV of Vol. II]
Tarting with Friends — Wallawalla Valley — Fort Wallawalla —
Mr.  Pambrun — The  Columbia — Country down  its banks
— What was seen of Rock Earth — Wood, Fire, and Water —
Danger, &c. from the Heights — Falling Mountain — Morning Hymn to God — Giant's Causeway — A View of the Frozen
Sublime — Turn Turn Orter' and other appurtenances — Dalles
— Methodist Episcopal Mission — Mr. and Mrs. Perkins —
Mr. Lee — Mission Premises — Egyptian Pyramids — Indians
— How Fifty Indians can fight One — Boston — The Result
of a War — Descent of the Columbia in a Canoe — A Night on
the River — The Poetry of the Wilderness — The Cascades —
Postage — Dr. McLaughlin — Indian Tombs — Death — A
Race — The River and its Banks — Night again — Mounts
Washington and Jefferson — Arrival — Fort Vancouver —
British Hospitality     346 I TRAVELS  IN  THE   GREAT WESTERN
PRAIRIES, &c, &c.
The Rendezvous — The Destination — The Education of Mules —
The Santa Fé Traders — The Mormons — The Holy War — Entrance upon the Indian Territory — A Scene —An Encampment —
A Loss — A Hunt — The Osage River — A Meeting and Parting —
Kauzaus Indians — An Indian Encampment — Council Grove —
Ruins — An Indian and his Wants — Elk — A Tempest — Captain
Kelly — A comfortless Night.
On the 21st of May, 1839, the author and sixteen others
arrived in the town of Independence, Missouri.19 Our destination was the Oregon Territory. Some of our number
sought health in the wilderness — others sought the wilderness for its own sake — and others sought a residence
among the ancient forests and lofty heights of the valley of
the Columbia; and each actuated by his own peculiar reasons, or interest, began his preparations for leaving the
frontier.20 [2] Pack mules and horses and pack-saddles were
purchased and prepared for service. Bacon and flour, salt
and pepper, sufficient for four hundred miles, were secured
in sacks;  our powder-casks were wrapt in painted canvas,
18 For a sketch of Independence see Gregg's Commerce oj the Prairies, in
our volume xix, p. 189, note 34.— Ed.
*> When Jason Lee, the Methodist missionary, went east (1838-39) for reinforcements, he took with him two Indian youths to be educated. Meetings were
held in many cities; at Peoria, Illinois, one of the lads being taken ill, was left
behind. His presence continued the interest aroused by Lee's representations,
so that early in 1839 a company of young men, not one of whom had ever been
west of St. Louis, was organized to undertake the Oregon migration. The party
consisted at first of nineteen persons. See Robert Shortess, "First Emigrants
to Oregon," in Oregon Pioneer Association Transactions, 1896.— Ed. 46 Early Western Travels [Vol. 28
and large oil-cloths were purchased to protect these and
our sacks of clothing from the rains; our arms were thoroughly repaired; bullets were moulded; powder-horns and
cap-boxes filled; and all else done that was deemed needful, before we struck our tent for the Indian territory.
But before leaving this little woodland town, it will be
interesting to remember that it is the usual place of rendezvous and "outfit" for the overland traders to Santa Fé and
other Mexican states. In the month of May of each year,
these traders congregate here, and buy large Pennsylvania
waggons, and teams of mules to convey their calicoes, cottons, cloths, boots, shoes, etc. over the plains to that distant
and hazardous market. It is quite amusing to greenhorns,
as those are called who have never been engaged in the trade,
to see the mules make their first attempt at practical pulling.
They are harnessed in a team, two upon the shaft, and the
remainder two abreast in [3] long swinging iron traces; and
then, by way of initiatory intimation that they have passed
from a life of monotonous contemplation, in the seclusion
of their nursery pastures, to the bustling duties of the " Santa
Fé trade," a hot iron is applied to the thigh or shoulder of
each, with an embrace so cordially warm, as to leave there,
in blistered perfection, the initials of their last owner's name.
This done, a Mexican Spaniard, as chief muleteer, mounts
the right-hand wheel mule, and another, the left hand one of
the span next the leaders, while four or five others, as foot-
guard, stand on either side, armed with whips and thongs.
The team is straightened — and now comes the trial of
passive obedience. The chief muleteer gives the shout of
march, and drives his long spurs into the sides of the animal that bears him; his companion before follows his
example; but there is no movement. A leer — an unearthly
bray, is the only response of these martyrs to human
supremacy.   Again   the   team   is straightened,   again  the 1839]
Farnham' s Travels
rowel is applied, the body-guard on foot raise the shout, and
all apply the lash at the same moment. The untutored
animals kick and leap, rear and plunge, and fall in their
harness. In. fine, they act the mule, [4] and generally
succeed in breaking neck or limb of some one of their
number, and in raising a tumult that would do credit to
any order of animals accustomed to long ears.
After a few trainings, however, of this description, they
move off in fine style. And, although some luckless animal may at intervals brace himself up to an uncompromising resistance of such encroachment upon his freedom,
still, the majority preferring passive obedience to active
pelting, drag him onward, till, like themselves, he submits
to the discipline of the traces.
•Independence' was the first location of the Mormons
west of the Mississippi. Here they laid out grounds for
their temple, built the ' Lord's store,' and in other ways.
prepared the place for the permanent establishment of their
community. But, becoming obnoxious to their neighbours,
they crossed the Missouri, and founded the town of 'Far
West.' In 1838 they recommenced certain practices of
their faith in their new abode, and were ejected from the
state by its military forces.21
The misfortunes of these people seem to have arisen
from proceeding upon certain rules of action peculiar to
themselves. The basis of these rules is the assumption that
[5] they are the "Saints of the Most High," to whom the
Lord promised of old the inheritance of the earth; and that
as such they have the right to take possession of whatever they may be inspired to desire. Any means are justifiable, in their belief, to bring about the restoration to the
"Children of God" of that which He has bequeathed to
a For the Mormons in Missouri consult our volume xx, pp. 93-99, with accompanying notes.— Ed.
mm 481 Early Western Travels [Vol. 28
them. In obedience to these rules of action, any Mormon or
"Latter-Day Saint" labouring for hire on a "worldly"
man's plantation, claimed the right to direct what improvements should be made on the premises; what trees should
be felled, and what grounds should, from time to time, be
cultivated. If this prerogative of saintship were questioned
by the warm-blooded Missourians, they were with great coolness and gravity informed that their godly servants expected
in a short time to be in comfortable possession of their
employers' premises; for that the Latter-Days had come,
and with them the Saints; that wars and carnage were to
be expected; and that the Latter-Day Prophet had learned,
in his communications with the Court of Heaven, that the
Missourians were to be exterminated on the first enlargement
of the borders of "Zion;" and that over the graves of those
"enemies [6] of all righteousness" would spring that vast
spiritual temple which was "to fill the earth."
The prospect of being thus immolated upon the altar of
Mormonism, did not produce so much humility and trembling among these hardy frontiersmen as the prophet Joe
had benevolently desired. On the contrary, the pious
intimation that their throats would be cut to glorify God,
was resisted by some ruthless and sinful act of self-defence;
and all the denunciations of the holy brotherhood were
impiously scorned as idle words. However, in spite of the
irreligious wrath of these deluded, benighted Missourians,
the Saints cut timber wherever they listed on the domains
which were claimed by the people of the world. And if
the "Lord's hogs or horses" wanted corn, the farms in the
hands of the wicked were resorted to at a convenient hour
of the night for a supply. In all these cases, the "Saints"
manifested a kind regard to the happiness even of the
enemies of their faith. For whenever they took corn from
fields in possession of the world's people, they not only 1839]
Farnham's Travels
avoided exciting unholy wrath by allowing themselves to
be seen in the act, but, in order that peace might [7] reign
in the bosoms of the wicked, even, the longest possible
time, they stripped that portion of the harvest field which
would be last seen by the ungodly owner.
The I Church militant," however, being inefficient and
weak, the Prophet Joe declared that it was their duty to
use whatever means the Lord might furnish to strengthen
themselves. And as one powerful means would be the keeping its doings as much as possible from the world, it was
he said, the will of Heaven, revealed to him in proper form,
that in no case, when called before the ungodly tribunals of
this perverse and blind generation, should they reveal, for
any cause, any matter or thing which might, in its consequences, bring upon the brotherhood the infliction of those
pretended rules of Justice, by the world called Laws. Under
the protection of this prophecy, a band of the brethren was
organized, called the "Tribe of Dan," whose duty it was to
take and bring to the "Lord's store," in the far West, any
of the Lord's personal estate which they might find in the
possession of the world, and which might be useful to the
"Saints," in advancing their kingdom. Great good is said
to have been done by this Tribe of Dan; [8] for the Lord's
store was soon filled, and the Saints praised the name of
Joe. The Prophet's face shone with the light of an all-
subduing delight at the increase of " Zion," and the
efficiency of his administration.
The Missourians, however, were destitute of the Latter-
Day Faith, and of just views of the rights devised to those,
who, in the Lord's name, should destroy his adversaries,
and restore the earth to the dominion of millennial righteousness. Poor mortals and deluded sinners! They believed
that the vain and worldly enactments of legislative bodies
were to prevail against the inspirations of the Latter-Day mm
ço Early Western Travels [Vol. 28
Prophet Joe; and in their unsanctified zeal, declared the
Saints to be thieves, and unjust, and murderous; and the
Tribe of Dan to be a pest to the constitutional and acknowledged inherent and natural right to acquire, possess, and
enjoy property. From this honest difference of opinion
arose the "Mormon War," whose great events are recorded
in the narrative of the "Latter-Day Saints? " Some events,
there were, however, not worthy to find record there, which
may be related here.
The Governor of the Missouri *2 ordered [9] out the State
troops to fight and subdue the Mormons, and take from
them the property which the "Tribe of Dan" had deposited
in the "Lord's brick store" in the "citadel of Zion," called
"Far West." It was in 1838 they appeared before the
camp of the "Saints" and commanded them to surrender.
It was done in the manner hereafter described. But before
this event transpired, I am informed that the Prophet Joe
opened his mouth in the name of the Lord, and said it had
been revealed to him that the scenes of Jericho were to be
re-enacted in Far West; that the angelic host would appear
on the day of battle, and by their power give victory to the
To this end he ordered a breast-work of inch pine boards
to be raised around the camp, to show by this feeble protection against the artillery of their foes, that their strength
was in the "breast-plate of righteousness," and that they
were the soldiers of the militant portion of the Kingdom of
Heaven. There were moments of awful suspense in the
camp of the "Saints." The Missouri bayonets bristled
brightly near their ranks, and an occasional bullet carelessly penetrated the pine-board rampart, regardless of
the inhibition of the [10] Prophet.  The Heavens were gazed
a The governor of Missouri (1836-40) was Lilburn W. Boggs, for whom see
our volume xx, p. 98, note 65.— Ed. i839l
Farnham's Travels
upon for the shining host, and listening ears turned to catch
the rushing of wings through the upper air. The demand
of surrender was again and again repeated; but Faith
had seized on Hope, and Delay was the offspring.
At this juncture of affairs, a sturdy old Missourian approached the brick store, pickaxe in hand, apparently determined to do violence to the sacred depository. One of the
sisters in robes of white accosted him, and with proper solemnity made known that the "Lord of the Faithful" had revealed to Joe, the Prophet, that every hand raised against
that "holy structure" would instantly be withered. The
frontiersman hesitated, but the hardihood characteristic of
these men of the rifle returning, he replied, "Well, old gal,
I'll go it on one hand any how." The awful blow was
struck; the hand did not wither! "I doubles up now,"
said the daring man, and with both hands inflicted a heavy
blow upon a corner brick. It tumbled to the ground, and
the building quickly fell under the weight of a thousand
vigorous arms. The confidence of the Saints in their
Prophet waned, and a surrender followed. [11] Some of
the principal men were put in custody, but the main body
were permitted to leave the State without farther molestation. We afterwards met many of them with their herds,
&c, on the road from Far West to Quincy, Illinois. It was
strongly intimated by the planters in that section of country,
that these emigrating | saints " found large quantities of
the "Lord's corn" on their way, which they appropriated
as need suggested to their own and their animals' wants.
The origin of the "Book of Mormon"23 was for some
time a mystery. But recent developements prove it to have
been written in 1812 by the Rev. Solomon Spaulding, of
New Salem, in the state, Ohio. It was composed by that
gentleman as a historical romance of the long extinct race
" Consult the references in our volume xxiv, pp. 119, 120, notes 99, 100.— Ed. C2 Early Western Travels [Vol. 28
who built the mounds and forts which are scattered over
the valley States. Mr. Spaulding read the work while composing it to some of his friends, who, on the appearance of
the book in print, were so thoroughly convinced of its identity with the romance of their deceased pastor, that search
was made, and the original manuscript found among his
papers. But there was yet a marvel how the work could
have got into the hands of Joe [12] Smith. On further
investigation, however, it appeared that the reverend author had entertained thoughts of publishing it; and, in
pursuance of his intention, had permitted it to lie a long
time in the printing office in which Sidney Rigdon, who has
figured so prominently in the history of the Mormons, was
at the time employed.2* Rigdon, doubtless, copied poor
Spaulding's novel, and with it, and the aid of Joe Smith,
has succeeded in building up a system of superstition, which,
in vileness and falsehood, is scarcely equalled by that of
Solomon Spaulding was a graduate of Dartmouth College.
On the 30th of May, we found ourselves prepared to
move for the Indian Territory.25 Our pack-saddles being
girded upon the animals, our sacks of provisions, &c. snugly
lashed upon them, and protected from the rain that had begun to fall, and ourselves well mounted and armed, we took
the road that leads off southwest from Independence in the
direction of Santa Fé.28 But the rains which had accompanied us daily since we left Peoria, seemed determined to
M See a brief sketch of Rigdon in Flagg's Far West, our volume xxvi, p. 358,
note 209.— Ed.
M For the use of this term Indian Territory — which did not at that time
correspond with our present Indian Territory — see Wyeth's Oregon in our
volume xxi, p. 50, note 31.— Ed.
»* The Santa Fé route was taken in preference to the Oregon trail on the advice of Andrew Sublette and Philip Thompson, who had just returned from the
mountains.    See Shortess's "Sketch," cited in note 20, above.— Ed. 1839]
Farnham's Travels
escort us still, our ill-natured scowls to the contrary notwithstanding: for we had travelled only three miles when
[13] such torrents fell, that we found it necessary to take
shelter in a neighbouring schoolhouse for the night. It was
dismal enough; but a blazing fire within, and a merry song
from a jovial member of our company imparted as much
consolation as our circumstances seemed to demand, till we
responded to the howling storm the sonorous evidence of
sweet and quiet slumber.
The following morning was clear and pleasant, and we
were early on our route. We crossed the stream called Big
Blue, a tributary of the Missouri,27 about twelve o'clock,
and approached the border of the Indian domains. All
were anxious now to see and linger over every object which
reminded us we were still on the confines of that civilization
which we had inherited from a thousand generations; a
vast and imperishable legacy of civil and social happiness.
It was, therefore, painful to approach the last frontier
enclosure — the last habitation of the white man — the last
semblance of home. At length the last cabin was approached.
We drank at the well and travelled on. It was now behind
us. All, indeed was behind us with which the sympathies
of our young days had mingled their holy memories. Before
us were the treeless [14] plains of green, as they had been
since the flood — beautiful, unbroken by bush or rock; un-
soiled by plough or spade; sweetly scented with the first
blossomings of the spring. They had been, since time commenced, the theatre of the Indian's prowess — of his hopes,
joys, and sorrows. Here, nations, as the eve of deadly battle
closed around them, had knelt and raised the votive offering
to Heaven, and implored the favour and protection of the
Great Spirit who had fostered their fathers upon the wintry
" For this stream see James's Long's Expedition, in our volume xiv, p. 184,
note 153.— Ed.
SBSm f*m
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 28
mountains of the North, and when bravely dying, had borne
them to the islands of light beneath the setting sun. A
lovely landscape this, for an Indian's meditation! He
could almost behold in the distance where the plain and
sky met, the holy portals of his after-state — so mazy and
beautiful was the scene !
Having travelled about twenty-five miles over this beautiful prairie, we halted on the banks of a small stream at a
place called Elm Grove.28 Here we pitched our tent, tied
our horses to stakes, carried for that purpose, and after considerable difficulty having obtained fuel for a fire, cooked
and ate for the first time in the Indian Territory.
At this encampment final arrangements [15] were made
for our journey over the Prairies. To this end provisions,
arms, ammunition, packs and pack-saddles, were overhauled, and an account taken of our common stock of goods
for trade with the Indians. The result of this examination
was, that we determined to remain here a while, and send
back to the Kauzaus Indian mill for two hundred pounds of
flour. We were induced to take this step by assurances
received from certain traders whom we met coming from the
mountains, that the buffalo had not advanced so far north
as to furnish us with their fine hump-ribs so early by a
week or fortnight as we had expected. Officers were also
chosen and their powers defined; and whatever leisure
we found from these duties during a stay of two days, was
spent in regaling ourselves with strawberries and gooseberries, which grew in great abundance near our camp.
Our friends having returned from the mill with the flour
for which they had been despatched, we left Elm Grove on
the 3d of June, travelled along the Santa Fé trail about
fifteen  miles,  and  encamped   upon  a  high  knoll,   from
28 This is probably the same as Round Grove, for which see Gregg's Commerce
oj the Prairies, in our volume xix, p. 193, note 35.— Ed. 1839]
Farnham's Travels
which we had an extensive view of the surrounding plains.
The grass was now about four inches in height, and
[16] bent and rose in most sprightly beauty under the gusts
of wind which at intervals swept over it. We remained
here a day and a half, waiting for two of our number
who had gone in search of a horse that had left our
encampment at Elm Grove. The time, however, passed
agreeably. We were, indeed, beyond the sanctuaries of
society, and severed from the kind pulsations of friendship;
but the spirit of the Red Man, wild and careless as the
storms he buffets, began to come over us; and we
shouldered our rifles and galloped away for a deer in the
lines of timber that threaded the western horizon. Our
first hunt in the depths of the beautiful and dreadful
wilderness! It was attended with no success, however,
but was worth the effort. We had begun to hunt our
In the afternoon of the 4th, our friends returned with the
strayed animals. The keepers immediately fired the signal-
guns, and all were soon in camp. Our road on the 5th was
through a rich, level prairie, clothed with the wild grass common to the plains of the West. A skirt of black oak timber occasionally lined the horizon or strayed up a deep
ravine near the trail. The extreme care of the pioneers in
the [17] overland Santa Fé trade was every where noticeable,
in the fact that the track of their richly-loaded waggons never
approached within musket-shot of these points of timber.
Fifteen miles' march brought us to our place of encampment. A certain portion of the company allotted to that
labour, unpacked the company's mules of the common-
stock property, provisions, ammunitions, &c. ; another portion pitched the tent; another gathered wood and kindled
a fire; whilst others brought water, and still others again
put  seething-pots  and   frying-pans   to   their  appropriate m
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 28
duties. So that at this, as at many a time before and after,
a few minutes transposed our little cavalcade from a moving troop into an eating, drinking, and joyous camp. A
thunder-storm visited us during the night. The lightning
was intensely vivid, and the explosions were singularly frequent and loud. The sides of the heavens appeared to
war like contending batteries in deadly conflict. The rain
came in floods; and our tent, not being ditched around,
was flooded soon after the commencement of the storm, and
ourselves and baggage thoroughly drenched.
The next day we made about fifteen miles through the
mud and rain, and stopped for [18] the night near a solitary
tree upon the bank of a small tributary of the Konzas river.
Here fortune favoured our fast decreasing larder. One
of the company killed a turtle, which furnished us all with
an excellent supper. This was the only description of game
that we had seen since leaving the frontier.
On the 7th, as the sun was setting, we reached Osage
River — a stream which flows into the Missouri below Jefferson City. The point where we struck it, was one hundred miles south-west of Independence.29 We pitched our
tent snugly by a copse of wood within a few yards of it;
staked down our animals near at hand, and prepared, and
ate in the usual form, our evening repast. Our company
was divided into two messes, seven in one, and eight in the
other. On the ground, each with a tin pint cup and a
small round plate of the same material, the first filled with
coffee, tea, or water, the last with fried bacon and dough
fried in fat; each with a butcher-knife in hand, and each
mess sitting, tailor-like, around its own frying-pan, eating
20 The Osage rises in Kansas south of Kansas River, and as Farnham states,
flows in a general easterly course into the Missouri. The usual camping place
on the Santa Fé trail was about a hundred miles out, on what was called One
Hundred and Ten Mile Creek, indicative of its distance from Fort Osage.— Ed. Wm
Farnham's Travels
with the appetite of tigers formed the coup-d'ceil of our
company at supper on the banks of the Osage.
[19] Near us were encamped some waggoners on their
return to Missouri, who had been out to Council Grove with
the provisions and that part of the goods of the Santa Fé
traders which the teams of untrained mules had been unable to draw when they left Independence. With these men
we passed a very agreeable evening; they amused us with
yarns of mountain-life, which from time to time had floated
in, and formed the fireside legends of that wild border. In
the morning, while we were saddling our animals, two of
the Kauzaus Indians came within a few rods of our camp,80
and waited for an invitation to approach. They were armed
with muskets and knives. The manner of carrying their
fire-arms was peculiar, and strongly characteristic of Indian caution. The breech was held in the right hand, and
the barrel rested on the left arm; thus they are always prepared to fire. They watched us narrowly, as if to ascertain
whether we were friends or foes, and upon our making
signs to them to approach, they took seats near the fire, and
with most imperturbable calmness, commenced smoking
the compound of willow-bark and tobacco with which they
are wont to regale themselves. When we left the ground,
one of [20] the men threw away a pair of old boots, the soles
of which were fastened with iron nails. Our savage visitors
seized upon them with the greatest eagerness, and in their
pantomimic language, aided by harsh, guttural grunts, congratulated themselves upon becoming the possessors of so
much wealth.    At eight o'clock we were on march.
The morning breezes were bland, and a thousand young
flowers gemmed the grassy plains. It seemed as if the
tints of a brighter sky and the increasing beauty of the earth
were lifting the clouds from the future, and shedding vigour
39 For the Kansa, see Bradbury's Travels, in our volume v, p. 67, note 37.— Ed. r
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 28
upon our hopes. But this illusion lasted but a moment.
Three of my valuable men had determined to accompany
the waggoners to the States; and as they filed off and
bade adieu to the enterprise in which they had embarked,
and blighted many cheering expectations of social intercourse along our weary way-faring to Oregon, an expression of deep discouragement shaded every face. This was
of short duration. The determination to penetrate the
valleys of Oregon soon swept away every feeling of depression, and two hunters being sent forward to replenish our
larder, we travelled happily onward.
The Osage River at this place is one [21] hundred yards
wide, with about two-and-a-half feet of water. Its banks
are clothed with timber of cotton-wood, ash and hickory.
We crossed it at eight o'clock in the morning, passed
through the groves which border it, and continued to follow
the Santa Fé trail. The portion of country over which it
ran was undulating and truly beautiful; the soil rich,
very deep, and intersected by three small streams, which
appeared from their courses to be tributaries of the Osage.
At night-fall, we found ourselves upon a height overlooking a beautiful grove. This we supposed to be Council
Grove. On the swell of the hill were the remains of an old
Kauzaus' encampment; a beautiful clear spring gushed out
from the rock below. The whole was so inviting to us, weary
and hungry as we were, that we determined to make our
bed there for the night. Accordingly, we fired signal-guns
for the hunters, pitched our tents, broke up the boughs
which had been used by the Indians in building their wigwams, for fuel, and proceeded to cook our supper. This
encampment had been made by the Kauzaus six years ago,
when on their way south to their annual buffalo-hunt.
A semi-circular piece of ground was enclosed by the outer
lodges.    [22] The area was filled with wigwams, built in
mm i839]
Farnham's Travels
straight lines, running from the diameter to the circumference. They were constructed in the following manner.
Boughs of about two inches in diameter were inserted by
their butts into the ground, and withed together at the top
in an arched form; over these were spread blankets, skins
of the buffalo, etc. Fires were built in front of each: the
grass beneath, covered with skins, made a delightful couch,
and the Indian's home was complete. Several yards from
the outer semi-circular row of lodges and parallel to it, we
found large stakes driven firmly into the earth, for the purpose
of securing their horses during the night. We appropriated
to ourselves, without hesitation, whatever we found here of
earth, wood or water, which could be useful to us, and were
soon very comfortable. About nine o'clock, our signal-
guns were answered by the return of our hunters. They
had scoured the country all day in quest of game, but found
none. Our hopes were somewhat depressed by this result.
We had but one hundred pounds of flour and one side of
bacon left; and the buffalo, by the best estimates we could
make, were still three hundred miles distant; the country
between [23] us and these animals, too, being constantly
scoured by Indian hunters, afforded us but little prospect
of obtaining other game. However, we did not dwell very
minutely upon the evils that might await us, but having put
ourselves upon short allowance, and looked at our horses as
the means of preventing starvation, we sought rest for
the fatigues of the next day's march.
In the morning we moved down the hill. Our way lay
directly through the litde grove already referred to; and,
however we might have admired its freshness and beauty,
we were deterred from entering into the full enjoyment
of the scene by the necessity, which we supposed existed, of
keeping a sharp look-out among its green recesses for the
lurking savage.    The grove is the northern limit of the 6o Early Western Travels [Vol. 28
wanderings of the Cumanches — a tribe of Indians who
make their home on the rich plains along the western
borders of the republic of Texas.81 Their ten thousand
warriors, their incomparable horsemanship, their terrible
charge, the unequalled rapidity with which they load
and discharge their fire-arms, and their insatiable hatred,
make the enmity of these Indians more dreadful than
that of any other tribe of aborigines. Fortunately for us,
however, [24] these Spartans of the plains did not appear,
and right merrily did we cross the little savannah between
it and Council Grove, a beautiful lawn of the wilderness,
some of the men hoping for the sweets of the bee-tree,
others for a shot at a turkey or a deer, and others again
that among the drooping boughs and silent glades might
be found the panting loins of a stately elk.
Council Grove derives its name from the practice among
the traders, from the commencement of the overland commerce with the Mexican dominions, of assembling there for
the appointment of officers and the establishment of rules
and regulations to govern their march through the dangerous
country south of it. They first elect their commander-in-
chief.82 His duty is to appoint subordinate leaders, and to
divide the owners and men into watches, and to assign
them their several hours of duty in guarding the camp
during the remainder of their perilous journey. He also
divides the caravan into two parts, each of which forms a
column when on march. In these lines he assigns each
team the place in which it must always be found. Having
arranged these several matters, the council breaks up; and
the commander, with the guard on [25] duty, moves off in
advance to select the tract and anticipate approaching dan-
31 On the Comanche, see our volume xvi, p. 233, note 109.— Ed.
33 See Gregg's description of this place, and the method of forming a caravan,
in our volume xix, pp. 196-203, with accompanying notes.— Ed. i839]
Farnham's Travels
ger. After this guard the head teams of each column lead
off about thirty feet apart, and the others follow in regular
lines, rising and dipping gloriously; two hundred men, one
hundred waggons, eight hundred mules; shoutings and
whippings, and whistlings and cheerings, are all there; and,
amidst them all, the hardy Yankee move happily onward to
the siege of the mines of Montezuma. Several objects are
gained by this arrangement of the waggons. If they are
attacked on march by the Cumanche cavalry or other foes,
the leading teams file to the right and left, and close the
front; and the hindermost, by a similar movement, close
the rear; and thus they form an oblong rampart of waggons laden with cotton goods that effectually shields teams
and men from the small arms of the Indians. The same
arrangement is made when they halt for the night.
Within the area thus formed are put, after they are fed,
many of the more valuable horses and oxen. The remainder of the animals are \ staked '— that is, tied to stakes, at
a distance of twenty or thirty yards, around the line. The
ropes by which [26] they are fastened are from thirty to
forty feet in length, and the stakes to which they are attached
are carefully driven, at such distances apart, as shall prevent their being entangled one with another.
Among these animals the guard on duty is stationed,
standing motionless near them, or crouching so as to discover every moving spot upon the horizon of night. The
reasons assigned for this, are, that a guard in motion would
be discovered and fired upon by the cautious savage before
his presence could be known; and farther, that it is impossible to discern the approach of an Indian creeping among
the grass in the dark, unless the eye of the observer be so
close to the ground as to bring the whole surface lying within the range of vision between it and the line of light around
the lower edge of the horizon.    If the camp be attacked, 6 2 Early Western Travels [Vol. 28
the guard fire and retreat to the Waggons. The whole body
then take positions for defence; at one time sallying out,
rescue their animals from the grasp of the Indians; and at
another, concealed behind their waggons, load and fire upon
the intruders with all possible skill and rapidity. Many
Were the bloody battles fought on the 'trail,' and such were
some of the anxieties [27] and dangers that attended and
still attend the f Santa Fé Trade.' Many are the graves,
along the track, of those who have fallen before the terrible
cavalry of the Cumanches. They slumber alone in this
ocean of plains; no tears bedew their graves; no lament
of affection breaks the stillness of their tomb. The tramp
of savage horsemen — the deep bellowing of the buffalo —
the nightly howl of the hungry wolf — the storms that sweep
down at midnight from the groaning caverns of the ' shining
heights;' or, when Nature is in a tender mood, the sweet
breeze that seems to whisper among the wild flowers that
nod over his dust in the spring — say to the dead, "You are
alone; no kindred bones moulder at your side."
We traversed Council Grove with the same caution and
in the same manner as we had the other; a platoon of four
persons in advance to mark the first appearance of an ambuscade; behind these the pack animals and their drivers; on
each side an unincumbered horseman; in the rear a platoon
of four men, all on the look-out, silent, with rifles lying on
the saddles in front, steadily winding along the path that
the heavy waggons of the traders had made among the [28]
matted under-brush. In this manner we marched half a
mile, and emerged from the Grove at a place where the
traders had, a few days before, held their council. The
grass in the vicinity had been gnawed to the earth by their
numerous animals; their fires were still smouldering and
smoking; and the ruts in the road were fresh. These
indications of our vicinity to the great body of the traders 1839]
Farnham's Travels
produced an exhilarating effect on our spirits; and we
drove merrily away along the trail, cheered with renewed
hopes that we should overtake our countrymen, and be
saved from starvation.
The grove that we were now leaving was the largest and
most beautiful we had passed since leaving the frontier of
the States. The trees, maple, ash, hickory, black walnut,
oaks of several kinds, butternut, and a great variety of
shrubs clothed with the sweet foliage of June — a pure
stream of water murmuring along a gravelly bottom, and
the songs of the robin and thrush, made Council Grove a
source of delight to us, akin to those that warm the hearts
of pilgrims in the great deserts of the East, when they behold, from the hills of scorching sands, the green thorn-tree,
and [29] the waters of the bubbling spring. For we also
were pilgrims in a land destitute of the means of subsistence,
with a morsel only of meat and bread per day, lonely and
hungry; and although we were among the grassy plains
instead of a sandy waste, we had freezing storms, tempests,
lightning and hail, which, if not similar in the means, were
certainly equal in the amount of discomfort they produced,
to the sand-storms of the Great Sahara.
But we were leaving the Grove and the protection it might
yield to us in such disagreeable circumstances. On the
shrubless plain again ! To our right the prairie rose gradually, and stretched away for ten miles, forming a beautiful
horizon. The whole was covered with a fine coat of grass
a foot in height, which was at this season of the deepest and
richest green. Behind us lay a dark line of timber, reaching
from the Grove far into the eastern limits of sight, till the
leafy tops seemed to wave and mingle among the grass of the
wild swelling meadows. The eyes ached as we endeavoured to embrace the view. A sense of vastness was the
single and sole conception of the mind ! I
64 Early Western Travels [Vol. 28
Near this grove are some interesting Indian [30] ruins.
They consist of a collection of dilapidated mounds, seeming
to indicate the truth of the legend of the tribes, which says,
that formerly this was the Holy ground of the nations,
where they were accustomed to meet to adjust their difficulties, exchange the salutations of peace, and cement the bonds
of union with smoking, and dancing, and prayers, to the
Great Spirit.
We had advanced a few miles in the open country when
we discovered, on the summit to the right, a small band of
Indians. They proved to be a party of Caws or Kauzaus.
As soon as they discovered our approach, two of them
started in different directions at the top of their speed, to
spread the news of our arrival among the remote members
of the party. The remainder urged on with the utmost
velocity their pack-horses laden with meat, skins, blankets,
and other paraphernalia of a hunting excursion. We pursued our way, making no demonstrations of any kind, until
one old brave left his party, and came towards us, stationing himself beside our path, and awaiting our near approach.
He stood quite upright and motionless. As we advanced,
we noted closely his appearance [31] and position. He had
no clothing, except a blanket tied over the left shoulder and
drawn under the right arm. His head was shaven entirely
bare, with the exception of a tuft of hair about two inches
in width, extending from the center of the occiput over the
middle of the head to the forehead. It was short and
coarse, and stood erect, like a comb of a cock. His figure
Was the perfection of physical beauty. It was five feet nine
or ten inches in height, and looked the Indian in every
respect. He stood by the road-side, apparently perfectly at
ease; and seemed to regard all surrounding objects, with as
much interest as he did us. This is a distmguishing characteristic of the Indian.    If a thunderbolt could be embodied t839]
Farnham's Travels
and put in living form before their eyes, it would not startle
them from their gravity. So stood our savage friend, to
all appearance unaware of our approach. Not a muscle of
his body or face moved, until I rode up and proffered him
a friendly hand. This he seized eagerly and continued to
shake it very warmly, uttering meanwhile with great emphasis and rapidity, the words "How de," "how," "how."
As soon as one individual had withdrawn his hand from
his grasp, he [32] passed to another, repeating the same process and the same words. From the careful watch we had
kept upon his movements since he took his station, we had
noticed that a very delicate operation had been performed
upon the lock of his gun. Something had been warily removed therefrom, and slipped into the leathern pouch worn
at his side. We expected, therefore, that the never-failing
appeal to our charity would be made for something; and in
this we were not disappointed. As soon as the greetings
were over, he showed us, with the most solicitous gestures,
that his piece had no flint. We furnished him with one;
and he then signified to us that he would like something to
put in the pan and barrel; and having given him something
of all, he departed at the rapid swinging gait so peculiar to
his race.
As we advanced, the prairie became more gently undulating. The heaving ridges which had made our trail thus
far appear to pass over an immense sea, the billows of which
had been changed to waving meadows the instant they had
escaped from the embraces of the tempest, gave place to
wide and gentle swells, scarcely perceptible over the increased expanse in sight. Ten [33] miles on the day's
march; the animals were tugging lustily through the mud,
when the advance guard shouted "Elk! Elk!" and "steaks
broiled," and "ribs boiled," and "marrow bones," and
"no more hunger!" "Oregon for ever, starve or live," as m
66 Early Western Travels [Vol. 28
an appointed number of my companions filed off to the
The hunters circled around the point of the sharp ridge
on which the Elk were feeding, in order to bring them between themselves and the wind; and laying closely to their
horses' necks, they rode slowly and silently up the ravine
towards them. While these movements were making, the
cavalcade moved quietly along the trail for the purpose of
diverting the attention of the Elk from the hunters. And
thus the latter were enabled to approach within three hundred yards of the game before they were discovered. But
the instant — that anxious instant to our gnawing appetites
— the instant that they perceived the crouching forms of
their pursuers approaching them, tossing their heads in the
air, and snuffing disdainfully at such attempt to deceive
their wakeful senses, they put hoof to turf in fine style. The
hunters attempted pursuit; but having to ascend one side of
the ridge, [34] while the Elk in their flight descended the
other, they were at least four hundred yards distant, before
the first bullet whistled after them. None were killed.
And we were obliged to console our hunger with the hope
that three hunters, who had been despatched ahead this
morning, would meet with more success. We encamped
soon after this tourney of ill luck — ate one of the last
morsels of food that remained — pitched our tent, stationed
the night-guard, &c, and, fatigued and famished, stretched
ourselves within it.
On the following day we made twenty-five miles over a
prairie nearly level, and occasionally marshy. In the afternoon we were favoured with what we had scarcely failed,
for a single day, to receive since the commencement of our
journey, viz: all several and singular, the numerous benefits of a thunder-storm. As we went into camp at night,
the fresh ruts along the trail indicated the near vicinity of 1839]
Farnham's Travels
some of the Santa Fé teams.    No sleep;  spent the night in
drying our drenched bodies and clothes.
On the 12th under weigh very early: and travelled briskly
along, intending to overtake the traders before nightfall.
But [35] another thunder-storm for a while arrested the
prosecution of our desires.— It was about three o'clock
when a black cloud arose in the south-east, another in the
south-west, and another in the north-east; and involving
and evolving themselves like those that accompany tornadoes of other countries, they rose with awful rapidity
towards the zenith. Having mingled their dreadful masses
over our heads, for a moment they struggled so terrifically
that the winds appeared hushed at the voice of their dread
artillery — a moment of direful battle; and yet not a breath
of wind. We looked up for the coming catastrophe indicated by the awful stillness; and beheld the cloud rent in
fragments, by the most terrific explosion of electricity we
had ever witnessed. Then, as if every energy of the destroying elements had been roused by this mighty effort, peal
upon peal of thunder rolled around, and up and down the
heavens; and the burning bolts appeared to leap from cloud
to cloud across the sky, and from heaven to earth, in such
fearful rapidity, that the lurid glare of one had scarcely
fallen on the sight, when another followed of still greater
intensity. The senses were absolutely [36] stunned by the
conflict. Our animals, partaking of the stopifying horror
of the scene, madly huddled themselves together and became immovable. They heeded neither whip nor spur;
but with backs to the tempest drooped their heads, as if
awaiting their doom. The hail and rain came down in
torrents. The plains were converted into a sea; the sky,
overflowing with floods, lighted by a continual blaze of
electric fire ! It was such a scene as no pen can adequately
describe. w
68 Early Western Travels [Vol. 28
After the violence of the storm had in some degree abated,
we pursued our way, weary, cold and hungry. About six
o'clock we overtook a company of Santa Fé traders, commanded by Captain Kelly. The gloom of the atmosphere
was such, that when we approached his camp, Captain
Kelly supposed us to be Indians, and took measures accordingly to defend himself. Having stationed his twenty-nine
men within the barricade formed by his waggons, he himself, accompanied by a single man, came out to reconnoitre.
He was not less agreeably affected, to find us whites and
friends, than were we at the prospect of society and food.
Traders always carry a supply of wood over these naked
plains, [37] and it may be supposed that, drenched and
pelted as we had been by the storm, we did not hesitate to
accept the offer of their fire to cook our supper, and warm
ourselves. But the rain continued to fall in cold shivering
floods; and, fire excepted, we might as well have been elsewhere as in company with our countrymen, who were as badly
sheltered and fed, as ourselves. We, therefore, cast about
for our own means of comfort. While some Were cooking
our morsel of supper, others staked out the animals, others
pitched our tent; and all, when their tasks were done,
huddled under its shelter.   We now numbered thirteen.
We ate our scanty suppers, drank the water from the
puddles, and sought rest. But all our packs being wet, we
had no change of wardrobe, that would have enabled us to
have done so with a hope of success. We, however, spread
our wet blankets upon the mud, put our saddles under
our heads, had a song from our jolly Joe, and mused and
shivered until morning.
As the sun of the 13th rose, we drove our animals through
Cottonwood creek.33   It had been very much swollen by the
33 For the Cottonwood see our volume xix, p. 204, note 42. The crossing was
nearly two hundred miles from Independence.— Ed. 1839]
Farnham's Travels
rains of the previous day; and our packs [38] and ourselves, were again thoroughly wet. But, once out of the
mire and the dangers of the flood, our hearts beat merrily
as we lessened, step by step, the distance from Oregon.
Scarcity  "f '■'nod—An  Incident—Looing  and  Bleating — Messrs.
Bents — Trade — Little Arkansas — A Nauseous Meal — A Flood
— An Onset — A Hard Ride — The Deliverance — The Arkansas
— An Attack — The Similitude of Death — The Feast and a bit
of Philosophy — The Traders Walworth and Alvarez's Teams —
A Fright — A Nation of Indians — Their Camp and Hunts —
A Treaty — A Tempest — Indian Butchering — A Hunt among
the Buffalo — A Wounded Man — A Drive — A Storm and its
Enemy — Night among the Buffalo — The Country and the
Heavens — The Ford — A Mutiny and its Consequences —
Blistered   Fingers — Liberty — Bent's Fort — Disbanding.
Our hunters, who had been despatched from Council
Grove in search of game, had rejoined us in Kelly's camp.
And as our larder had not been improved by the hunt,
another party was sent out, under orders to advance to the
buffalo with all possible dispatch, and send back to the
main body a portion of the first meat that should be taken.
This was a day of mud and discomfort. Our pack and
riding animals, constantly annoyed by the slippery clay
[40] beneath them, became restive, and not unfrequently
relieved themselves of riders or packs, with little apparent
respect for the wishes of their masters. And yet, as if a
thousand thorns should hatchel out at least one rose, we
had one incident of lively interest. For, while halting to
secure the load of a pack-mule, whose obstinacy would have
entitled him to that name, whatever had been his form, we
espied upon the side of a neighbouring ravine several elk
and antelope. The men uttered pleas for their stomachs at
the sight of so much fine meat, and with teeth shut in the jo Early Western Travels [Vol. 28
agony of expectation, primed anew their rifles, and rushed
away for the prize.
Hope is very delusive, when it hunts elk upon the open
plain. This fact was never more painfully true, than in the
present instance. They were approached against the wind
— the ravines that were deepest, and ran nearest the elk,
were traversed in such a manner that the hunstmen were
within three hundred yards of them before they were
discovered; and then never did horses run nearest their
topmost speed for a stake in dollars than did ours for a
steak of meat. But, alas! the little advantage gained at
the start, from the bewildered [41] inaction of the game,
began to diminish as soon as those fleet coursers of the
. prairie laid their nimble hoofs to the sward, and pledged
life upon speed. In this exigency a few balls were sent
whistling after them, but they soon slept in the earth,
instead of the panting hearts they were designed to render
pulseless; and we returned to our lonely and hungry march.
At sunset we encamped on the banks of a branch of the
Arkansas.84 Our rations were now reduced to one-eighth of
a pint of flour to each man. This, as our custom was, was
kneaded with water, and baked or rather dried in our
frying-pan, over a fire sufficiently destitute of combustibles
to have satisfied the most fastidious miser in that line.—
Thus refreshed, and our clothing dried in the wind during
the day, we hugged our rifles to our hearts, and soundly slept.
The sun of the following morning was unusually bright,
the sky cloudless and delightfully blue. These were new
pleasures; for the heavens and the earth had, till that morning, since our departure from borne, scourged us with every
discouragement which the laws of matter could produce.
Now all around us smiled.    Dame [42] Nature, a prude
84 Turkey Creek, for which see our volume xix, p. 205, note 44.— Ed. 1839]
Farnham's Travels
though she be, seemed pleased that she had belaboured our
courage with so little success. To add to our joy, a herd
of oxen and mules were feeding and lowing upon the opposite bank of the stream. They belonged to the Messrs.
Bents, who have a trading post upon the Arkansas. One
of the partners and tliirty odd men were on their way to St.
Louis, with ten waggons laden with peltries. They were
also driving down two hundred Santa Fé sheep, for the
Missouri market. These animals are usually purchased
from the Spaniards; and if the Indians prove far enough
from the track so as to permit the purchaser to drive them
into the States, his investment is unusually profitable. The
Indians, too, residing along the Mexican frontier, not infre-
quendy find it convenient to steal large numbers of mules,
&c, from their no less swarthy neighbours; and from the
ease with which they acquire them, find themselves able and
willing to sell them to traders for a very easily arranged
Of these several sources of gain, it would seem the Messrs.
Bents35 avail themselves; since, on meeting the gentleman
in charge of the waggons before spoken of, he informed [43]
us that he had lost thirty Mexican mules and seven horses;
35 Silas Bent of St. Louis (1768-1827), judge of the superior court of the territory and prominent at the bar, had seven sons. The third, John ^803-45),
remained in St. Louis, was admitted to the bar, and held the office of district
attorney. The others went out upon the frontier. In 1826 William W., Charles,
Robert, and George formed a partnership with Ceran St. Vrain and built a picket
fort high up on the Arkansas. The following year they removed somewhat farther
east, and built an adobe. William W. Bent was the chief founder of the enterprise. A daring Indian fighter, tradition describes his defeat of two hundred
savages after a three days' battle. He married a Cheyenne woman, and made
his home at Bent's Fort. In 1847-48 he acted as guide for the American army
against New Mexico, whence his title of colonel. For one year (1859) he served
as Indian agent, and died at his home in Colorado, May 19, 1869. Robert and
George both died young, about the year 1841. They were buried near the fort,
their remains afterwards being removed to St. Louis. For Charles Bent, who
made his home at Taos, see our volume xix, p. 221, note 55.— Ed. ff
72 Early Western Travels [Vol. 28
and desired us, as we intended to pass his post, to recover
and take them back. A request of any kind from a white
face in the wilderness is never denied. Accordingly, we
agreed to do as he desired, if within our power.
We made little progress to-day. Our packs, that had
been soaked by storm and stream, required drying, and
for that purpose we went early into camp. The country in
which we now were, was by no means sacred to safety of
life, limb or property. The Pawnee and Cumanche war-
parties roam through it during the spring and summer
months, for plunder and scalps. The guards, which we
had had on the alert since leaving Council Grove, were
therefore carefully stationed at night-fall among the
animals around the tent, and urged to the most careful
watchfulness. But no foe molested us. In the expressive
language of the giant of our band, prefaced always with an
appropriate sigh and arms akimbo, "We were not murdered yet."
About twelve o'clock of the 14th, we passed the Little
Arkansas.8" Our hunters had been there the previous night,
and had succeeded in taking a dozen cat-fish. Their [44]
own keen hunger had devoured a part of them without
pepper, or salt, or bread, or vegetable. The remainder we
found attached to a bush in the stream, in an unwholesome
state of decomposition. They were, however, taken up
and examined by the senses of sight and smell alternately;
and viewed and smelt again in reference to our ravenous
palates; and although some doubt may have existed in
regard to the Hebrew principle of devouring so unclean
a thing, our appetites allowed of no demur. We roasted
and ate, as our companions had done.
I had an opportunity at this place to observe the great
38 Concerning the crossing of the Little Arkansas, consult our volume xix,
p. 207, note 45.— Ed. i839]
Farnham's Travels
extent of the rise and fall of these streams of the plains in
a single day or night. It would readily be presumed, by
those who have a correct idea of the floods of water that the
thunder-storms of this region pour upon the rolling prairies,
that a few miles of the channels of a number of the creeks
over which the storms pass may be filled to the brim in
an hour; and that there are phenomena of floods and falls
of wafer occurring in this vast den of tempests, such as
are found nowhere else. Still, bearing this evidently true
explanation in mind, it was with some [45] difficulty that I
yielded to the evidences on the banks of the Little Arkansas,
that that stream had fallen fifteen feet during the last twelve
hours. It was still too deep for the safety of the pack animals to attempt to ford it in the usual way. The banks,
also, at the fording-place were left by the retiring flood, a
quagmire; so soft, that a horse without burthen could, with
the greatest difficulty, drag himself through it to the water
below. In our extremity, however, we tied our lashing-
lines together, and, attaching one end to a strong stake on
the side we occupied, sent the other across the stream, and
tied it firmly to a tree. Our baggage, saddles and clothing
suspended to hooks running to and fro on this line, were
securely passed over. The horses being then driven
across at the ill-omened ford, and ourselves over by
swimming and other means, we saddled and loaded our
animals with their several burthens, and recommenced our
The 14th, 15th, and 16th, were days of more than ordinary hardships. With barely food enough to support life,
drenched daily by thunder-storms and by swimming and
fording the numerous drains of this alluvial [46] region, and
wearied by the continual packing and unpacking of our
animals, and enfeebled by the dampness of my couch at
night, I was so much reduced when I dismounted from my 74
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 28
horse on the evening of the 16th, that I was unable to loosen
the girth of my saddle or spread my blanket for repose.
The soil thus far from the frontier appeared to be from
three to six feet in depth; generally undulating, and occasionally, far on the western horizon, broken into ragged and
picturesque bluffs. Between the swells, we occasionally
met small tracts of marshy ground saturated with brackish
On the night of the 16th, near the hour of eight o'clock,
we were suddenly roused by the rapid trampling of animals
near our camp. "Indians!" was the cry of the guard,
"Indians!" We had expected an encounter with them as
we approached the buffalo, and were consequently not
unprepared for it. Each man seized his rifle, and was
instantiy in position to give the intruders a proper reception. On they came, rushing furiously in a dense column
till within thirty yards of our tent; and then wheeling
short to the lift, abruptly halted. [47] Not a rifle-ball or
an arrow had yet cleft the air. Nor was it so necessary
that they should; for we discovered that, instead of
bipeds of bloody memory, they were the quadrupeds that
had eloped from the fatherly care of Mr. Bent, making a
call of ceremony upon their compatriot mules, &c, tied to
stakes within our camp.
17th. We were on the trail at seven o'clock. The sun of
a fine morning shone upon our ranks of beasts and men.
Were I able to sketch the woe-shrivelled visages of my starving men, with occasional bursts of wrath upon Mr. Bent's
mules as they displayed their ungrateful heels to us, who
had restored them from the indecencies of savage life to
the dominion of civilized beings, my readers would say that
the sun never looked upon a more determined disregard
of the usages of social life. A long march before us — the
Arkansas  and its   fish before us,  the   buffalo   with   all 1839]
Farnham's Travels
the delicate bits of tender loin and marrow bones, (even the
remembrance of them inspires me) — with all these before
us, who that has the sympathies of the palate sensibilities
within him, can suppose that we did not use the spur, whip
and goad with a right good will on that memorable day ?
[48] Thirty or forty miles, none but the vexed plains can tell
which, were travelled over by one o'clock. The afternoon
hours, too, were counted slowly. High bluffs, and butes, and
rolls, and salt marshes alternately appearing and falling
behind us, with here and there a plat of the thick short
grass of the upper plains and the stray bunches of the
branching columnar and foliated prickly pear, indicated
that we were approaching some more important course of
the mountain waters than we had yet seen since leaving
the majestic Missouri. "On, merrily on," rang from our
parched and hungry mouths; and if the cheerful shout did
not allay our appetites or thirst, it quickened the pace of our
mules, and satisfied each other of our determined purpose
to behold the Arkansas by the light of that day.
During the hurried drive of the afternoon we became
separated from one another among the swells over which
our track ran. Two of the advanced platoon took the
liberty, in the absence of their commander, to give chace
to an antelope which seemed to tantalize their forbearance
by exhibiting his fine sirloins to their view. Never did men
better earn forgiveness for disobedience of orders. One
of them crept as I [49] learned half a mile upon his hands
and knees to get within rifle shot of his game; — shot at
three hundred yards' distance and brought him down ! And
now, who, in the tameness of an enough-and-to-spare state
of existence, in which every emotion of the mind is surfeited
and gouty, can estimate our pleasure at seeing these men
gallop into our ranks with this antelope ? You may " guess, "
reader, you may "reckon," you may "calculate," or if y 6 Early Western Travels [Vol. 28
learned in the demi-semi-quavers of modern exquisiteness,
you may thrust rudely aside all these wholesome and fat
old words of the heart, and "shrewdly imagine," and still
you cannot comprehend the feelings of that moment ! Did
we shout? were we silent? no, neither. Did we gather
quickly around the horse which bore the slaughtered animal? No, nor this. An involuntary murmur of relief
from the most fearful forebodings, and the sudden halt of
the riding animals in their tracks were the only movements, the only acts that indicated our grateful joy at
this deliverance.
Our intention of seeing the Arkansas that night, however,
soon banished every other thought from the mind. Whips
and spurs therefore were freely used upon our animals [50]
as they ascended tediously a long roll of prairies covered
with the wild grasses and stinted stalks of the sun-flower.
We rightly conceived this to be the bordering ridge of the
valley of the Arkansas. For on attaining its summit we
saw ten miles of that stream lying in the sunset like a beautiful lake among the windings of the hills. It was six miles
distant — the sun was setting. The road lay over sharp
rolls of land that rendered it nearly impossible for us to keep
our jaded animals on a trot. But the sweet water of that
American Nile, and a copse of timber upon its banks that
offered us the means of cooking the antelope to satisfy our
intolerable hunger, gave us new energy; and on we went at
a rapid pace while sufficient fight remained to show us the
When within about a mile and a half of the river a
most annoying circumstance crossed our path.    A swarm
37 The trail reached the Arkansas in the neighborhood of the northern reach
of the Great Bend; but Farnham's party must have wandered from the regular
route, in order to employ three days and a half from the crossing of the Little
Arkansas — a distance of not more than thirty-five miles.— Ed.
I 1 i839]
Farnham's Travels
of the most gigantic and persevering musquitoes that ever
gathered tribute from human kind, lighted on us and
demanded blood. Not in the least scrupulous as to the
manner in which they urged their claims, they fixed themselves boldly and without ceremony upon our organs of
sight, smell, and whipping, [51] in such numbers, that in
consequence of the employment they gave us in keeping
them at the distance, and the pain which they inflicted
upon our restive animals, We lost the trail. And now came
quagmires, flounderings, and mud, such as would have
taught the most hardened rebel in morals that deviations
from the path of duty lead sometimes to pain, sometimes to
swamps. Long perseverance at length enabled us to reach
the great "River of the Plains."
We tarried for a moment upon the banks of the stream
and cast about to extricate ourselves from the Egyptian
plagues around us. To regain our track in the darkness of
night, now mingled with a dense fog, was no easy task. We,
however, took the lead of a swell of land that ran across it,
and in thirty minutes entered a path so well marked that
we could tread our way onward till we should find wood
sufficient to cook our supper. This was a dreary ride. The
stars gave a littie light among the mist, which enabled us
to discern, on the even line of the horizon, a small speck
that after three hours' travel we found to be a small grove of
cotton wood upon an island. We encamped near it; and
after our baggage was piled up so [52] as to form a circle
of breastworks for defence, our weariness was such that we
sank among it supperless, and slept with nothing but the
heavens over us. And although we were in the range of
the Cumanche hunting as well as war-parties, the guard
slept in spite of the savage eyes that might be gloating vengeance on our little band. No fear or war-whoop could
have broken the slumbers of that night.    It was a temporary Il
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 28
death. Nature had made its extreme effort, and sunk in
helplessness till its ebbing energies should reflow.
On the morning of the 18th of June we were up early —
early around among our animals to pull up the stakes to
which they were tied, and drive them fast again, where they
might graze while we should eat. Then to the care of ourselves. We wrestled manfully with the frying-pan and
roasting-stick; and anon in the very manner that one sublime act always follows its predecessor, tore bone from
bone the antelope ribs, with so strong a grip and with such
unrestrained delight that a truly philosophic observer might
have discovered in the flash of our eyes and the quick energetic motion of the nether portions of our [53] physiognomies, that eating, though an uncommon, was nevertheless
our favourite occupation.— Then "catch up," "saddles on,"
"packs on," "mount," "march," were heard on all sides,
and we were on the route, hurry-scurry, with forty loose
mules and horses leering, kicking and braying, and some
six or eight pack animals making every honourable effort
to free themselves from servitude, while we were applying
to their heads and ears certain gentle intimations that such
ambitious views accorded not with their master's wishes.
In the course of the day we crossed several tributaries
of the Arkansas. At one of these, called by the traders
Big Turkey Creek,88 we were forced to resort again to our
Chilian bridge. In consequence of the spongy nature of
the soil and the scarcity of ,timber, we here found more
difficulty in procuring fastenings for our ropes, than in any
previous instance. At length, however, we obtained pieces
of flood-wood, and drove them into the soft banks "at an
38 Either Walnut or Ash Creek, the only two tributaries before reaching Pawnee Fork. Farnham seems, however, to have written from memory, and possibly confuses this stream with Turkey Creek, an affluent of the Little Arkansas.
See ante, p. 70, note 34.— Ed. i«39l
Farnham's Travels
inclination," said he of the axe, "of precisely 450 to the
plane of the horizon." Thus supported, the stakes stood
sufficiently firm for our purposes; [54] and our bags, packs,
selves, and beasts were over in a trice, and in the half of
that mathematical fraction of time, we were repacked,
remounted, and trotting off at a .generous pace, up the
Arkansas. The river appeared quite unlike the streams of
the East, and South, and Southwest portion of the States in
all its qualities. Its banks were low — one and a half feet
above the medium stage of water, composed of an alluvium
of sand and loam as hard as a public highway, and generally covered with a species of wiry grass that seldom grows
to more than one and a half or two inches in height. The
sun-flower of stinted growth, and a lonely bush of willow, or
an ill-shaped sapless, cotton-wood tree, whose decayed trunk
trembled under the weight of years, together with occasional
bluffs of clay and sand-stone, formed the only alleviating
features of the landscape. The stream itself was generally
three-quarters of a mile in width, with a current of five
miles per hour, water three and a half to four feet, and of
a chalky whiteness. It was extremely sweet, so delicious
that some of my men declared it an excellent substitute
for milk.
[55] Camped on the bank of the river where the common
tall grass of the prairie grew plentifully; posted our night-
guard, and made a part of our meat into soup for supper.
I will here give a description of the manner of making this
soup. It was indeed a rare dish; and my friends of the
trencher — ye who have been spiced, and peppered, and
salted, from your youth up, do not sneer when I declare
that of all the innovations upon kitchen science which
civilization has engrafted upon the good old style of the
patriarchs, nothing has produced so depraving an effect
upon taste, as these self-same condiments of salt, pepper, &c. *•■**
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 28
But to our soup. It was made of simple meat and water
— of pure water, such as kings drank from the streams
of the good old land of pyramids and flies, and of the wild
meat of the wilderness, untainted with any of the aforesaid
condiments — simply boiled, and then eaten with strong,
durable iron spoons and butcher-knives. Here I cannot
restrain from penning one strong and irrepressible emotion
that I well remember to have experienced while stretched
upon my couch after our repast. The exceeding comfort
of body and mind [56] at that moment undoubtedly gave
it being. It was an emotion of condolence for those of
my fellow mortals who are engaged in the manufacture
of rheumatisms and gout. Could they only for an hour
enter the portals of prairie life — for one hour breathe the
inspiration of a hunter's transcendentalism — for one hour
feed upon the milk and honey and marrow of life's pure
unpeppered and unsalted viands, how soon would they
forsake that ignoble employment — how soon would their
hissing and vulgar laboratories of disease and graves be
forsaken, and the crutch and Brandreth's pills be gathered
to the tombs of our fathers!
Our next day's march terminated in an encampment
with the hunters whom I had sent forward for game. They
had fared even worse than ourselves. Four of the
seven days they had been absent from the company,
and had been without food. Many of the streams, too,
that were forded easily by us, were, when they passed, wide
and angry floods. These they were obliged to swim, to
the great danger of their lives.
On the 18th, however, they overtook Messrs. Walworth
and Alvarez's teams,89 [57] and were treated with great
hospitality by those gentlemen. On the same day they
killed a buffalo bull, pulled off the flesh from the back, and
30 For Manuel Alvarez see our volume xx, p. 26, note 5.— Ed.
— 1839]
Farnham's Travels
commenced drying it over a slow fire preparatory to packing.
On the morning of the 19th, two of them started off for us
with some strips of meat dangling over the shoulders of
their horses. They met us about four o'clock, and with us
returned to the place of drying the meat. Our horses were
turned loose to eat the dry grass, while we feasted ourselves
upon roasted tongue and liver. After this we "caught up"
and went on with the intention of encamping with the Santa
Féâns; after travelling briskly onward for two hours, we
came upon the brow of a hill that overlooks the valley of
Pawnee Fork, the largest branch of the Arkansas on its
northern side. The Santa Fé traders had encamped on
the east bank of the stream. The waggons surrounded an
oval piece of ground, their shafts or tongues outside, and
the forward wheel of each abreast of the hind wheel of the
one before it. This arrangement gave them a fine aspect,
when viewed from the hill, over which we were passing.
But we had scarcely time to see the [58] little I described,
when a terrific scream of "Pawnee! Pawnee !" arose from
a thousand tongues on the farther bank of the river; and
Indian women and children ran and shrieked horribly,
"Pawnee! Pawnee!" as they sought the glens and bushes
of the neighbourhood. We were puzzled to know the
object of such an outburst of savage delight, as we deemed
it to be, and for a time thought that we might well expect
our blood to slumber with the buffalo, whose bones lay
bleaching around us. The camp of the traders also was in
motion; arms were seized and horses saddled with "hot
haste." A moment more, and two whites were galloping
warily near us; a moment more brought twenty savage
warriors in full paint and plume around us. A quick
reconnoitre, and the principal chief rode briskly up to me,
shook me warmly by the hand, and with a clearly apparent
friendship said "Sacre fcedus" (holy league,) "Kauzaus," 82
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 28
"Caw." His warriors followed his example. As soon as
our friendly greetings were discovered by some of the minor
chiefs, they galloped their fleet horses at full speed over the
river, and the women and children issued from their concealments, and lined the bank with their dusky forms. The
chiefs rode [59] with us to our camping ground, and remained
till dark, examining with great interest the various articles
of our travelling equipage; and particularly our tent as it
unfolded its broadsides like magic, and assumed the form
of a solid white cone. Every arrangement being made to
prevent these accomplished thieves from stealing our horses,
&c, we supped, and went to make calls upon our neighbours.
The owners of the Santa Fé waggons were men who had
seen much of life. Urbane and hospitable, they received
us in the kindest manner, and gave us much information
in regard to the mountains, the best mode of defence, &c.,
that proved in our experience remarkably correct. During
the afternoon, the chiefs of the Kauzaus sent me a number
of buffalo tongues, and other choice bits of meat. But the
filth discoverable on their persons generally deterred us
from using them. For this they cared little. If their
presents were accepted, an obligation was by their laws
incurred on our part, from which we could only be relieved
by presents in return. To this rule of Indian etiquette we
submitted; and a council was accordingly held between
myself and the principal chief through an interpreter, [60]
to determine upon the amount and quality of my indebtedness in this regard. The final arrangement was, that in
consideration of the small amount of property I had then
in possession, I would give him two pounds of tobacco, a
side-knife, and a few papers of vermillion; but that, on my
return, which would be in fourteen months, I should be
very rich, and give him more.    To all these obligations 1839]
Farnham's Travels
and pleasant prophecies, I of course gave my most hearty
The Caws, or Kauzaus, are notorious thieves. We
therefore put out a double guard at night, to watch their
predatory operations, with instructions to fire upon them,
if they attempted to take our animals. Neither guard nor
instructions, however, proved of use; for the tempest,
which the experienced old Santa Féâns had seen in the
heavens, thunder-cloud in the northwest at sunset, proved
a more efficient protection than the arm of man. The cloud
rose slowly during the earby part of the night, and appeared
to hang in suspense of executing its awful purpose. The
lightning and heavy rumbling of the thunder were frightful.
It came to the zenith about twelve o'clock. When in that
position, the cloud covered one-half the heavens, and for
[61] some minutes was nearly stationary. After this, the
wind broke forth upon it at the horizon, and rolled up the
dark masses over our heads — now swelling, now rending
to shreds its immense folds. But as yet not a breath of air
moved over the plains. The animals stood motionless and
silent at the spectacle. The nucleus of electricity was at
the zenith, and thence large bolts at last leaped in every
direction, and lighted for an instant the earth and skies so
intensely, that the eye could not endure the brightness. The
report which followed was appalling. The ground trembled — the horses and mules shook with fear, and attempted
to escape. But where could they or ourselves have found
shelter? The clouds at the next moment appeared in the
wildest commotion, struggling with the wind. "Where
shall we fly ? " could scarcely have been spoken, before the
wind struck our tent, tore the stakes from the ground,
snapped the centre pole, and buried us in its enraged folds.
Every man, we were thirteen in number, immediately seized
some portion and held it with all his might.    Our opinion 84 Early Western Travels [Vol. 28
at the time was, that the absence of the weight of a single
man would have given the storm the victory — our tent
would have eloped in the [62] iron embraces of the tempest.
We attempted to fit it up again after the violence of the
storm had in some degree passed over, but were unable
so to do. The remainder of the night was consequentiy
spent in gathering up our loose animals, and in shivering
under the cold peltings of the rain.
The Santa Féâns, when on march through these plains,
are in constant expectation of these tornadoes. Accordingly,
when the sky at night indicates their approach, they chain
the wheels of adjacent waggons strongly together to prevent
them from being upset — an accident that has often happened, when this precaution was not taken. It may well
be conceived, too, that to prevent their goods from being
wet in such cases, requires a. covering of no ordinary powers
of protection. Bows in the usual form, except that they
are higher, are raised over long sunken Pennsylvania
waggons, over which are spread two or three thicknesses
of woollen blankets; and over these, and extended to the
lower edge of the body, is drawn a strong canvas covering,
well guarded with cords and leather straps. Through this
covering these tempests seldom penetrate.
At seven o'clpck on the morning of the 27th, "Catch up,
catch up," rang round [63] the waggons of the Santa Féâns.
Immediately each man had his hand upon a horse or mule;
and ere we, in attempting to follow their example, had our
horses by the halter, the teams were harnessed and ready
for the "march." A noble sight those teams were, about
forty in number, their immense waggons still unmoved,
forming an oval breastwork of wealth, girded by an impatient mass of near four hundred mules, harnessed and
ready to move again along their solitary way. But the
interest of the scene was much increased when, at the call
Farnham's Travels
of the commander, the two lines, team after team, straightened themselves into the trail, and rode majestically away
over the undulating plain. We crossed the Pawnee Fork,40
and visited the Caw Camp. Their wigwams were constructed of bushes inserted into the ground, twisted together
at the top, and covered with the buffalo hides which they
had been gathering for their winter lodges. Meat was
drying in every direction. It had been cut in long narrow
strips, wound around sticks standing upright in the ground,
or laid over a rick of wicker-work, under which slow fires are
kept burning. The stench, and the squalid appearance of
the women and children, [64] were not sufficiently interesting to detain us long; and we travelled on for the buffalo
which were bellowing over the hills in advance of us.
There appeared to be about one thousand five hundred
souls, almost in a state of nudity, and filthy as swine.
They make a yearly hunt to this region in the spring, lay
in a large quantity of dried meat, return to their own
territory in harvest time, gather their beans and corn, make
the buffalo hides, (taken before the hair is long enough for
robes), into conical tents, and thus prepare for a long and
merry winter.
They take with them, on these hunting excursions, all the
horses and mules belonging to the tribe, which can be
spared from the labour of their fields upon the Konzas
River, go south till they meet the buffalo, build their distant
wigwams, and commence their labour. This is divided in
the following manner between the males, females, and
children: —The men kill the game. The women dress and
dry the meat, and tan the hides. The instruments used
in killing vary with the rank and wealth of each individual.
The high chief has a lance, with a handle six feet and blade
three feet in length.    This in hand, mounted [65] upon a
*° For Pawnee Fork see our volume xvi, p. 227, note 105.— Ed. in—»
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 28
fleet horse, he rides boldly to the side of the flying buffalo,
and thrusts it again and again through the liver or heart of
one, and then another of the affrighted herd till his horse
is no longer able to keep near them. He is thus able to kill
five or six, more or less, at a single hit. Some of the
inferior chiefs also have these lances; but they must all be
shorter than that of his Royal Darkness. The common
Indians use muskets and pistols. Rifles are an abomination to them. The twisting motion of the ball as it enters,
the sharp crack when discharged, and the direful singing
of the lead as it cuts the air, are considered symptoms of
witchcraft that are unsafe for the Red Man to meddle with.
They call them medicines — inscrutable and irresistible
sources of evil. The poorer classes still use the bow and
arrow. Nor is this, in the well-trained hand of the Indian,
a less effective weapon than those already mentioned.
Astride a good horse, beside a bellowing band of wild beef,
leaning forward upon the neck, and drawing his limbs close
to the sides of his horse, the naked hunter uses his national
weapon with astonishing dexterity and success. Not unfre-
quently, when hitting no bones, does he throw his arrows
quite through the buffalo. Twenty [66] or thirty thus variously armed, advance upon a herd. The chief leads the
chase, and by the time they come alongside the band, the
different speed of the horses has brought them into a single
file or line. Thus they run until every individual has a
buffalo at his side. Then the whole line fire guns, throw
arrows or drive lances, as often and as long as the speed of
the horses will allow; and seldom do they fail in encounters
of this kind, to lay upon the dusty plain numbers of these
noble animals.
A cloud of squaws who had been hovering in the neighbourhood,' now hurry up, astride of pack-animals, strip off
hides, cut off the best flesh, load their pack saddles, mount» i839]
Farnham's Travels
themselves on the top, and move slowly away to the camp.
The lords of creation have finished their day's labour. The
ladies cure the meat in the manner described above, stretch
the hides upon the ground, and with a blunt wooden adze
hew them into leather. The younger shoots of the tribe
during the day are engaged in watering and guarding the
horses and mules that have been used in the hunt — changing their stakes from one spot to another of fresh grass,
and crouching along the heights around the camp to notice
the approach of [67] foes, and sound the alarm. Thus
the Konzas, Kausaus, or Caws, lay in their annual stores.
Unless driven from their game by the Pawnees, or some
other tribe at enmity with them, they load every animal
with meat and hides about the first of August, and commence the march back to their fields, fathers, and wigwams,
on the Konzas River.
This return-march must present a most interesting scene
in savage life — seven hundred or eight hundred horses or
mules loaded with the spoils of the chase, and the children
of the tribe holding on to the pack with might and main,
naked as eels, and shining with buffalo grease, their fathers
and mothers loafing on foot behind, with their guns poised
on the left arm, or their bows and arrows swung at their
back ready for action, and turning their heads rapidly and
anxiously for lurking enemies — the attack, the screams of
women and children, each man seizing an animal for a
breastwork, and surrounding thus their wives and children,
the firing, the dying, the conquest, the whoop of victory and
rejoicings of one party, and the dogged, sullen submission
of the other — all this and more has occurred a thousand
times upon [68] these plains, and is still occurring. But if
victory declare for the Caws, or they march to their home
without molestation, how many warm affections spring up
in their untamed bosoms, as they see again their parents
m I
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 28
and children, and the ripened harvest, the woods, the streams,
and bubbling springs, among which the gleeful days of
childhood were spent! And when greetings are over, and
welcomes are said, embraces exchanged, and their homes
seen and smiled upon ; in fine, when all the holy feelings of
remembrance, and their present good fortune, find vent in
the wild night-dance, who, that wears a white skin and ponders upon the better lot of civilized men, will not believe
that the Indian too, returned from the hunt and from war,
has not as much happiness, if not in kind the same, and as
many sentiments that do honour to our nature, as are
wrapped in the stays and tights of a fantastic, mawkish
civilization — that flattering, pluming, gormandizing, unthinking, gilded life, which is beginning to measure mental
and moral worth by the amount of wealth possessed, and
the adornment of a slip or pew in church.
We travelled eight miles and encamped. [69] A band of
buffalo cows were near us. In other words, we were determined upon a hunt — a determination the consequences of
which, as will hereafter appear were highly disastrous.
Our tent having been pitched, and baggage piled up, the
fleetest horses selected, and the best marksmen best mounted,
we trotted slowly along a circling depression of the plain,
that wound around near the herd on the leeward side.
When we emerged in sight of them, we put the horses into
a slow gallop till within three hundred yards of our game;
and then for the nimblest heel! Each was at his utmost
speed. We all gained upon the herd. But two of the
horses were by the side of the lubbers before the rest were
within rifle-reach; and the rifles and pistols of their riders
discharged into the sleek, well-larded body of a noble bull.
The wounded animal did not drop; the balls had entered
neither liver nor heart; and away he ran for his life. But
his unwieldy form moved slower and slower, as the dripping i839]
Farnham's Travels
blood oozed from the bullet-holes in his loins. He ran
towards our tent; and we followed him in that direction,
till within a fourth of a mile of it, when our heroes of
the rifle laid him wallowing in his blood, a mountain of
flesh [70] weighing at least three thousand pounds. We
butchered him in the following manner: Having turned
him upon his brisket, split the skin above the spine, and
pared it off as far down the sides as his position would
allow, we cut off the flesh that lay outside the ribs as
far back as the loins. This the hunters call "the fleece."
We next took the ribs that rise perpendicularly from
the spine between the shoulders, and support what is
termed the " hump." Then we laid our heavy wood-axes
upon the enormous side-ribs, opened a cavity, and took out
the tender-loins, tallow, &c,— all this a load for two
mules to carry into camp.
It was prepared for packing as follows: the fleece was
cut across the grain into slices an eighth of an inch in thickness, and spread upon a scaffolding of poles, and dried and
smoked over a slow fire. While we were engaged in this
process, information came that three of Mr. Bent's mules
had escaped. The probability was that they had gone
to the guardianship of our neighbours, the Caws. This was
a misfortune to our honourable intention of restoring them'
to their lawful owners. Search was immediately ordered
in the Indian camp and elsewhere for them. It was [71]
fruitless. The men returned with no very favourable
account of their reception by the Caws, and were of opinion
that farther search would be in vain. Being disposed to
try my influence with the principal chief, I gave orders to
raise the camp and follow the Santa Féans, without reference
to my return, and mounting my horse, in company with
three men, sought his lodge. The wigwams were deserted,
save by a few old women and squalid children, who were 9°
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 28
wallowing in dirt and grease, and regaling themselves upon
the roasted intestines of the buffalo. I inquired for the
chiefs, for the mules, whether they themselves were human
or bestial; for, on this point, there was room for doubt: to all
which inquiries, they gave an appropriate grunt. But no
chief or other person could be found, on whom any responsibility could be thrown in regard to the lost mules. And
after climbing the heights to view the plains, and riding
from band to band of His Darkness's quadrupeds for three
hours in vain, we returned to our camp sufficiently vexed
for all purposes of comfort.
Yet this was only the beginning of the misfortunes of the
day. During my absence, one of those petty bickerings, so
common [72] among men released from the restraints of
society and law, had arisen between two of the most quarrelsome of the company, terminating in the accidental
wounding of one of them. It occurred, as I learned in the
following manner: a dispute arose between the parties as to
their relative moral honesty in some matter, thing, or act in
the past. And as this was a question of great perplexity in
their own rninds, and doubt in those of others, words ran
high and abusive, till some of the men, more regardful of
their duty than these warriors, began preparations to strike
the tent. The redoubtable combatants were within it; and
as the cords were loosed, and its folds began to swing upon
the centre pole, the younger of the braves, filled with wrath
at his opponent, attempted to show how terrible bis ire
would be if once let loose among his muscles. For this purpose, it would seem he seized the muzzle of his rifle with
every demonstration of might, &c, and attempted to drag
it from among the baggage. The hammer of the lock
caught, and sent the contents of the barrel into his side.
Every thing was done for the wounded man that his condition required, and our circumstances permitted.    Doctor i839]
Farnham's Travels
Walworth, [73] of the Santa Fé caravan, then eight miles in
advance, returned, examined, and dressed the wound, and
furnished a carriage for the invalid. During the afternoon
the high chief of the Caws also visited us; and by introducing
discoloured water into the upper orifice, and watching its
progress through, ascertained that the ball had not entered
the cavity. But notwithstanding that our anxieties about
the life of Smith41 were much lessened by the assurances of
Dr. Walworth, and our friend the Chief, yet we had others
of no less urgent nature, on which we were called to act.
We were on the hunting-ground of the Caws. They were
thieves; and after the Santa Fé traders should have left the
neighbourhood, they would without scruple use their superior force in appropriating to themselves our animals,
and other means of continuing our journey. The Pawnees,
too, were daily expected. The Cumanches were prowling
about the neighbourhood. To remain, therefore, in our
present encampment, until Smith could travel without
pain and danger, was deemed certain death to all. To
travel on in a manner as comfortable to the invalid, as our
[74] condition would permit—painful to him and tedious
to us though it should be — appeared therefore the only
means of safety to all, or any of us. We accordingly covered
the bottom of the carriole with grass and blankets, laid
Smith upon them, and with other blankets bolstered him
in such manner that the jolting of the carriage would not
roll him. Other arrangements necessary to raising camp
being made, I gave the company in charge of my lieutenant;
11 Sidney W. Smith, who afterwards reached Oregon in a destitute condition,
was cared for at Dr. Whitman's mission, and went on to the Willamette where
he settled with Ewing Young. He acquired considerable property, and was influential in the establishment of the provisional government, serving as its secretary, as captain of militia, and on the first provisional committee. He acquired
the name of " Blubbermouth Smith" among the early pioneers, but became a man
of sterling ability and founder of a prominent Oregon family.— Ed. 02
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 28
and ordering him to lead on after me as fast as possible,
took the reins of the carriage and drove slowly along the
trail of the Santa Féâns.
The trail was continually crossed by deep paths made
by the buffalo, as a thousand generations of them had in
single file followed their leaders from point to point through
the plains. These, and other obstructions, jolted the carriage at every step, and caused the wounded man to groan
pitiably. I drove on till the stars indicated the hour of
midnight; and had hoped by this time to have overtaken
the traders, but was disappointed. In vain I looked through
the darkness for the white embankment of their waggons.
The soil over which they had passed was [75] now so hard,
that the man in advance of the carriage could no longer
find the trail; and another storm was crowding its dark pall
up the western sky. The thunder aroused and enraged
the buffalo bulls. They pawed the earth and bellowed, and
gathered around the carriage madly, as if they considered
it a huge animal of their own species, uttering thunder in
defiance of them. It became dangerous to move. It was
useless also; for the darkness thickened so rapidly that we
could not keep the track. My men, too, had not come up;
they had doubtiess lost the trail — or, if not, might join
me if I waited there till the morning. I therefore halted
in a deep ravine, which would partially protect me from
the maddened buffalo and the storm, tied down my animals
head to foot, and sought rest. Smith was in great pain.
His groans were sufficient to prevent sleep. But had he
been comfortable and silent, the storm poured such torrents of rain and hail, with terrible wind and lightning,
around us, that life instead of repose became the object of
our solicitude. The horseman who had accompanied me,
had spread his blankets on the ground under the carriage,
and, [76] with his head  upon  his saddle, attempted  to 1839]
Farnham's Travels
disregard the tempest as an old-fashioned stoic would the
toothache. But it beat too heavy for his philosophy. His
Mackinaw blankets~and slouched hat, for a time protected
his ungainly body from the effects of the tumbling flood.
But when the water began to stream through the bottom of
the carriage upon him, the ire of the animal burst from his
lank cheeks like the coming of a rival tempest. He cursed
his stars, and the stars behind the storm, his garters, and the
garters of some female progenitor, consigned to purgatory
the thunder, lightning, and rain, and waggon, alias poor
Smith; and gathering up the shambling timbers of his
mortal frame, raised them bolt upright in the storm, and
thus stood, quoted Shakspeare, and ground his teeth till
As soon as day dawned I found the trail again, and at
seven o'clock overtook the Santa Féans. Having changed
Smith's bedding, I drove on in the somewhat beaten track
that forty odd waggons made. Still every small jolt caused
the unfortunate man to scream with pain. The face of
the country around Pawnee Fork was, when we saw it, [77]
a picture of beauty. The stream winds silentiy among
bluffs covered with woods, while from an occasional ravine,
long groves stretch out at right angles with its main course
into the bosom of the plains. The thousand hills that
swelled on the horizon, were covered with dark masses of
buffalo peacefully grazing, or quenching their thirst at the
sweet streams among them. But the scene had now changed.
No timber, not a shrub was seen to-day. The soft rich
soil had given place to one of flint and sand, as hard as
M'Adam's pavements; the green, tall prairie grass, to a
dry, wiry species, two inches in height. The water, too,
disgusting remembrance! There was none, save what we
scooped from the puddles, thick and yellow with buffalo
offal. 94
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 28
We travelled fifteen miles, and halted for the night. Smith
was extremely unwell. His wound was much inflamed and
painful. Dr. Walworth dressed it, and encouraged me
to suppose that no danger of life was to be apprehended.
My company joined me at twelve o'clock, on the 22d,
and we followed in the rear of the cavalcade. After
supper was over, and Smith made comfortable, [78] I sought
from some of them a relation of their fortunes during
the past night. It appeared they had found the buffalo
troublesome as soon as night came on; that the bands of
bulls not unfrequently advanced in great numbers within
a few feet of them, pawing and bellowing in the most
threatening manner; that they also lost the trail after midnight, and spent the remainder of the night in firing upon
the buffalo, to keep them from running over them. Their
situation was dangerous in the extreme; for when buffalo
become enraged, or frightened in any considerable number,
and commence running, the whole herd start simultaneously, and pursue nearly a right-line course, regardless of
obstacles. So that, had they been frightened by the Santa
Féâns, or myself, or any other cause, in the direction of
my companions, they must have trampled them to death.
The danger to be apprehended from such an event, was
rendered certain in the morning, when we perceived that
the whole circle of vision was one black mass of these
animals. What a sea of life — of muscular power — of
animal appetite — of bestial enjoyment ! And if lashed
to rage by some pervading cause, how fearful [79] the
ebbing and flowing of its mighty wrath !
On the 23d the buffalo were more numerous than ever.
They were arranged in long lines from the eastern to the
western horizon. The bulls were forty or fifty yards in
advance of the bands of cows to which they severally intended to give protection.    And as the moving embankment i839]
Farnham's Travels
of waggons, led by the advanced guard, and flanked by
horsemen riding slowly from front to rear, and guarded in
the rear by my men, made its majestic way along, these
fiery cavaliers would march each to his own band of dames
and misses, with an air that seemed to say "we are here;"
and then back again to their lines, with great apparent satisfaction, that they were able to do battle for their sweet ones
and their native plains. We travelled fifteen or sixteen
miles; distance usually made in a day by the traders.
Smith's wound was more inflamed and painful; the wash
and salve of the Indian chief, however, kept it soft, and
prevented to a great extent the natural inflammation of the
The face of the country was still an arid plain — the water
as on the 22d — fuel, dried [80] buffalo offal — not a shrub
of any kind in sight. Another storm occurred to-night.
Its movements were more rapid than that of any preceding
one which we had experienced. In a few moments after
it showed its dark outline above the earth, it rolled its pall
over the whole sky, as if to build a wall of wrath between
us and the mercies of heaven. The flash of the lightning,
as it bounded upon the firmament, and mingled its thunder
with the blast, that came groaning down from the mountains; the masses of inky darkness crowding in wild tumult
along, as if anxious to lead the leaping bolt upon us — the
wild world of buffalo, bellowing and starting in myriads, as
the drapery of this funeral scene of nature, a vast cavern
of fire was lighted up; the rain roaring and foaming like a
cataract — all this, a reeling world tottering under the great
arm of its Maker, no eye could see and be unblenched; no
mind conceive, and keep its clayey tenement erect.
I drew the carriole in which Smith and myself were
attempting to sleep, close to the Santa Fé waggons, secured
the curtains as firmly as I was able to do, spread blankets 96
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 28
over the top and around the sides, and [81] lashed them
firmly with ropes passing over, under, and around the carriage in every direction; but to little use. The penetrating
powers of that storm were not resisted by such means.
Again we were thoroughly drenched. The men in the tent
fared still worse than ourselves. It was blown down with
the first blast; and the poor fellows were obliged to lie
closely and hold on strongly to prevent it and themselves
from a flight less safe than parachuting.
On the morning of the 24th, having given Smith in charge
of my excellent Lieutenant, with assurance that I would
join him at the "Crossings," I left them with the traders,
and started with the remainder of my company for the
The buffalo during the last three days had covered the
whole country so completely, that it appeared oftentimes
extremely dangerous even for the immense cavalcade of the
Santa Fé traders to attempt to break its way through them.
We travelled at the rate of fifteen miles a day. The length
of sight on either side of the trail, 15 miles; on both sides,
30 miles: —15 x 3 = 45 x 30 = 1,350 square miles of [82] country, so thickly covered with these noble animals, that when
viewed from a height, it scarcely afforded a sight of a square
league of its surface. What a quantity of food for the sustenance of the Indian and the white pilgrim of these plains!
It would have been gratifying to have seen the beam kick
over the immense frames of some of those bulls. But all
that any of us could do, was to 'guess' or 'reckon' their
weight, and contend about the indubitable certainty of
our several suppositions. In these disputes, two butchers
took the lead; and the substance of their discussions that
could interest the reader is, "that many of the large bulls
would weigh 3,000 pounds and upwards; and that, as a
general rule, the buffalo were much larger and heavier than i839]
Farnham's Travels
the domesticated cattie of the States." We were in view
of the Arkansas at four o'clock, p. m. The face of the earth
was visible again; for the buffalo were now seen in small
herds only, fording the river, or feeding upon the bluffs.
Near nightfall we killed a young bull, and went into
camp for the night.
On the 25th we moved slowly along up the bank of the
river. Having travelled [83] ten miles, one of the men shot
an antelope, and we went into camp, to avoid if possible
another storm that was lowering upon us from the northwest; but in spite of this precaution, we were again most
uncomfortably drenched.
On the 26th we struck across a southern bend in the
river, and made the Santa Fé "Crossings" at four o'clock,
p. m. ; 27th. we lay at the " Crossings," waiting for the Santa
Féâns, and our wounded companion.42 On this day a
mutiny, which had been ripening ever since Smith was
wounded, assumed a clear aspect. It now appeared that
certain individuals of my company had determined to leave
Smith to perish in the encampment where he was shot;
but failing in supporters of so barbarous a proposition,
they now endeavoured to accomplish their design by less
objectionable means. They said it was evident, if Smith
remained in the company, it must be divided; for that they,
pure creatures, could no longer associate with so impure a
man. And that, in order to preserve the unity of the company, they would propose that arrangements should be
made with the Santa Féâns to take him along with them.
[84] In this wish a majority of the company, induced by a
laudable desire for peace, and the preservation of our small
force entire, in a country filled with Indian foes, readily
a For the Crossings see our volume xix, p. 218, note 54. The trading caravans proceeded by the Cimarron route, while Farnham's party took the mountain trail.— Ed.
• 9 8 Early Western Travels [Vol. 28
united. I was desired to make the arrangement; but my
efforts proved fruitiess. The traders were of the opinion that
it would be hazardous for Smith, destitute of the means of
support, to trust himself among a people of whose language
he was ignorant, and among whom he could consequently
get no employment; farther, that Smith had a right to
expect protection from his comrades; and they would not,
by any act of theirs, relieve them from so sacred a duty.
I reported to my company this reply, and dwelt at length
upon the reasons assigned by the traders.
The mutineers were highly displeased with the strong
condemnation contained in them, of their intention to desert him; and boldly proposed to leave Smith in the carriole,
and secretly depart for the mountains. Had we done this
inhuman act, I have no doubt that he would have been
treated with great humanity and kindness, till he should
have recovered from his wound. But the meanness of the
proposition to leave a sick companion [85] on the hands of
those who had shown us unbounded kindness, and in violation of the solemn agreement we had all entered into on the
frontier of Missouri — "to protect each other to the last
extremity"—was so manifest, as to cause C. Wood, Jour-
dan, Oakley, J. Wood, and Blair, to take open and strong
grounds against it. They declared, that "however unworthy Smith might be, we could neither leave him to be
eaten by wolves, nor to the mercy of strangers; and that
neither should be done while they had life to prevent it."
Having thus ascertained that I could rely upon the cooperation of these men, two of the company made a litter,
on which the unfortunate man might be borne between two
mules. In the afternoon of the 28th, I went down to the
traders, five miles below us, to bring him up to my camp.
The traders generously refused to receive anything for the
use of their carriage, and furnished Smith, when he left them, i839]
Farnham's Travels
with every little comfort in their power for his future use.
It was past sunset when We left their camp. Deep darkness
soon set in, and we lost our course among the winding bluffs.
[86] But as I had reason to suppose that my presence in the
camp the next morning with Smith was necessary to his
welfare, I drove on till three o'clock in the morning. It was
of no avail: the darkness hid heaven and earth from view.
We therefore halted, tied the mules to the wheels of the carriage, and Waited for the sight of morning. When it came,
we found that we had travelled during the night at one
time up and at another time down the stream, and were
then within a mile and a half of the trader's camp.
On reaching my encampment, I found every thing ready
for marching, sent back the carriole to its owners, and attempted to swing Smith in his litter for the march; but to
our great disappointment, it would not answer the purpose.
How it was possible to convey him, appeared an inquiry of
the most painful importance. We deliberated long; but
an impossibility barred every attempt to remove its difficulties. We had no carriage; we could not carry him upon
our shoulders; it seemed impossible for him to ride on
horseback; the mutineers were mounted ; the company was
afraid to stay longer in the vicinity of the Cumanche Indians,
[87] with so many animals to tempt them to take our lives;
the Santa Fé waggons were moving over the hills ten miles
away on the other side of the river; I had adjured the
command, and had no control over the movements of the
company; two of the individuals who had declared for
mercy towards Smith had gone with the traders;43 there was
but one course left — one effort that could be made; he
must attempt to ride an easy, gentle mule. If that failed,
those who had befriended him would not then forsake him.
*» From the later narrative it is apparent that these were  Chauncey  Wood
and Quinn Jordan.— Ed.
1 lOO
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 28
About eleven o'clock, therefore, on the 29th, Smith being
carefully mounted on a pacing mule, our faces were turned
to Bent's trading post, one hundred and sixty miles up the
Arkansas. One of the principal mutineers, a hard-faced
villain of no honest memory among the traders upon the
Platte, assumed to guide and command. His malice towards Smith was of the bitterest character, and he had an
opportunity now of making it felt. With a grin upon his
long and withered physiognomy, that shadowed out the
fiendish delight of a heart long incapable of better emotions,
he drove off at a rate which none but a man in health could
have long endured. His motive [88] for this was easi'y
understood. If we fell behind, he would get rid of the
wounded man, whose presence seemed to be a living evidence of his murderous intentions, thwarted and cast back
blistering upon his already sufficiently foul character. He
would, also, if rid of those persons who had devoted themselves to saving him, be able to induce a large number of
the remainder of the company to put themselves under his
especial guardianship in their journey through the mountains; and if we should be destroyed by the Cumanche
Indians who were prowling around our way, the blackness
of his heart might be hidden, awhile at least, from the world.
The rapid riding, and the extreme warmth, well-nigh
prostrated the remaining strength of the invalid. He
fainted once, and had nearly fallen headlong to the ground ;
but all this was delight to the self-constituted leader; and
on he drove, belabouring his own horse unmercifully to
keep up the pace; and quoting Richard's soliloquy with a
satisfaction and emphasis, which seemed to say "the winter"
of his discontent had passed away, as well as that of his
ancient prototype in villany.
[89] The buffalo were seldom seen during the day: the
herds now becoming fewer and smaller.    Some of the men,
■ i839]
Farnham's Travels
when it was near night, gave chase to a small band near
the track, and succeeded in killing a young bull. A fine
fresh steak, and night's rest, cheered the invalid for the
fatigues of a long ride the following day. And a long one
it was. Twenty-five .miles under a burning sun, with a
high fever, and three broken ribs, required the greatest
attention from his friends, and the exertion of the utmost
remaining energies of the unfortunate man. Base though
he was in everything that makes a man estimable and valuable to himself and others, Smith was really an object of
pity and the most assiduous care. His couch was spread
— his cup of water fresh from the stream, was always by
his side — and his food prepared in the most palatable
manner which our circumstances permitted. Everything
indeed that his friends (no, not his friends, for he was
incapacitated to attach either the good or the bad to his
person, but those who commiserated his condition), could
do, was done to make him comfortable.
In connexion with this kindness bestowed [90] on Smith,
should be repeated the name of Blair, an old mechanic
from Missouri, who joined my company at the Crossings
of the Arkansas. A man of a kinder heart never existed.
From the place where he joined us to Oregon Territory,
when I or others were worn with fatigue, or disease, or
starvation, he was always ready to administer whatever
relief was in his power. But towards Smith in his helpless condition he was especially obliging. He dressed his
wound daily. He slept near him at night, and rose to
supply his least want. And in all the trying difficulties
that occurred along our perilous journey, it was his greatest
delight to diffuse peace, comfort, and contentment, to the
extent of his influence. I can never forget the good old
man. He had been cheated out of his property by a near
relative of pretended piety, and had left the chosen scenes I02
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 28
of his toils and hopes in search of a residence in the wilderness beyond the mountains. For the purpose of getting to
the Oregon Territory, he had hired himself to a gentleman
of the traders' caravan, with the intention of going to the
country by the way of New Mexico and California. An
honest man — an honourable [91] man—a benevolent,
kind, sympathizing friend—he deserves well of those who
may have the good fortune to become acquainted with
his unpretending worth.44
On the 30th, twenty-five miles up the river.— This morning the miscreant who acted as leader exchanged horses,
that he might render it more difficult for Smith to keep in
company. During the entire day's march, Shakspeare
was on the tapis. If there be ears of him about the ugly
world, to hear his name bandied by boobies, and his immortal verse mangled by barbarians in civilized clothing, those
ears stood erect, and his dust crawled with indignation, as
this savage in nature and practice discharged from his
polluted mouth the inspirations of his genius.
The face of the country was such as that found ever since
we struck the river. Long sweeping bluffs swelled away
from the water's edge into the boundless plains. The
soil was a composition of sand, clay, and gravel — the only
vegetation — the short furzy grass, several kinds of prickly
pear, a stinted growth of sun-flower, and a few decrepid
cotton-wood trees on the margin of the stream. The south
side of the river [92] was blackened by the noisy buffalo.
It was amusing when our trail led us near the bank, to observe the rising wrath of the bulls. They would walk with
a stately tread upon the verge of the bank, at times almost
yelling out their rage, and trampling, pawing, falling upon
** W. Blair was a millwright, and upon reaching Oregon found employment
in Spaulding's mill at the Lapwai mission. Afterwards he went to the Willamette, and finally emigrated to California, where he died.— Ed. •w*
Farnham's Travels
their knees, and tearing the earth with their horns; till, as if
unable to keep down the safety-valve of their courage any
longer, they would tumble into the stream, and thunder,
and wade, and swim, and whip the waters with their tails,
and thus throw off a quantity of their bravery. But, like
the wrath and courage of certain members of the biped
race, these manifestations were not bullet proof, for the
crack of a rifle, and the snug fit of a bullet about their
ribs operated instantaneously as an anodyne to all such
like nervous excitation.
We pitched our tent at night near the river. There was
no timber near; but after a long and tedious search we
gathered fire-wood enough to make our evening fire.
The fast riding of the day had wearied Smith exceedingly.
An hour's rest in camp however, had restored him, to such
an extent, [93] that our anxiety as to his ability to ride to
Bent's was much diminished. His noble mule proved too
nimble and easy to gratify the malice of the vagabond leader.
The night brought us its usual tribute — a storm. It was
as severe as any we had experienced. If we may distinguish between the severities of these awful tumults of nature,
the thunder was heavier, deeper. The wind also was very
severe. It came in long gusts, loaded with large drops of
rain, which struck through the canvas of our tent, as if it
had been gauze.
The last day of June gave us a lovely morning. The
grass looked green upon the flinty plains. Nor did the
apparent fact that they were doomed to the constant recurrence of long draughts take from them some of the interest
which gathers around the hills and dales within the lines of
the States. There is indeed a wide difference in the outline of the surface and the productions of these regions. In
the plains are none of the evergreen ridges, the cold clear
springs, and snug flowering valleys of New England; none •«''■■■■■'■■■«■••Mi»!
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 28
of the pulse of busy men that beats from the Atlantic through
the great body of human industry to the western border
of the [94] republic; none of the sweet villages and homes
of the old Saxon race; but there are the vast savannahs,
resembling molten seas of emerald sparkling with flowers,
arrested while stormy and heaving, and fixed in eternal
repose. Nor are lowing herds to be found there, and bleating flocks, which dépendance on man has rendered subservient to his will; but there are thousands of fleet and silent
antelope, myriads of the bellowing buffalo, the perpetual
patrimony of the wild, uncultivated red man. And however other races may prefer the haunts of their childhood,
the well-fenced domain and the stall-pampered beast —
still, even they cannot fail to perceive the same fitness of
things in the beautiful adaptation of these conditions of
nature to the wants and pleasures of her uncultivated lords.
We made fifteen miles on the 1st of July. The bluffs
along the river began now to be striped with strata of lime
and sand-stone. No trees that could claim the denomination of timber appeared in sight. Willows of various kinds,
a cotton-wood tree, at intervals of miles, were all; and so
utterly sterile was the whole country that, as night approached, we were obliged carefully to search along [95]
the river's bends for a plat of grass of sufficient size to feed
our animals. Our encampment was twelve miles above
Choteau's Island.45 Here was repeated, for the twentieth
time, the quarrel about the relative and moral merits of the
company. This was always a question of deep interest
with the mutineers; and many were the amusing arguments
adduced and insisted upon as incontestible, to prove themselves great men, pure men, and saints. But as there was
much difference of opinion, I shall not be expected to remember all the important judgments rendered in the premises.
46 For Chouteau's Island see our volume xix, p. 185, note 26.— Ed. i839]
Farnham's Travels
If, however, my recollection serves me, it was adjudged,
that our distinguished leader was the only man among
us that ever saw the plains or mountains, the only one
of us that ever drove an ox-waggon up the Platte, stole a
horse and rifle from his employers, opened and plundered
a "cache" of goods, and ran back to the States with well-
founded pretensions to an " honest character."
Matters of this kind being thus satisfactorily settled, we
gave ourselves to the musquitoes for the night. These
companions of our sleeping hours were much attached to
us — an amiable quality which [96] "runs in the blood;"
and not unlike the birthright virtues of another race in its
effect upon our happiness.
It can scarcely be imparting information to my readers to
say that we passed a sleepless night. But it is due to the
guards outside the tent, to remark, that each and every one
of them manifested the most praiseworthy vigilance, and
industry, during the entire night. So keen a sense of duty
did musquito beaks impart.
The next day we travelled twelve miles, and fell in with
a band of buffalo. There being a quantity of wood near at
hand wherewithal to cure meat, we determined to dry, in
this place, what might be needed, till we should fall in with
buffalo again beyond the hunting-grounds of the Messrs.
Bents. Some of the men, for this purpose, filed off to the
game, while the remainder formed the encampment. The
chase was spirited and long. They succeeded, however, in
bringing down two noble bullocks: and led their horses in,
loaded with the choicest meat.
In preparing and jerking our meat, our man of the stolen
rifle here assumed extraordinary powers in the management of [97] affairs. Like other braves, arm in hand, he
recounted the exploits of his past life, consisting of the entertainment of serious intentions to have killed some of the io6
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 28
men who had left, had they remained with us; and also, of
how dangerous his wrath would have been in the settlements
and elsewhere, had any indignity been offered to his honourable person, or his plantation; of which latter he held the
fee simple title of a "squatter." On this point, "let any
man, or Government even," said he, "attempt to deprive
me of my inborn rights, and my rifle shall be the judge
between us. Government and laws! what are they but
impositions upon the freeman." With this ebullition of
wrath at the possibility that the institutions of society might
demand of him a rifle, or the Government a price of a portion of the public lands in his possession, he appeared satisfied that he had convinced us of his moral acumen, and sat
himself down, with his well-fed and corpulent coadjutor,
to slice the meat for drying. While thus engaged, he again
raised the voice of wisdom. "These democratic parties
for the plains, what are they? what is equality any where?
A fudge. One must [98] rule; the rest obey, and no grumbling, by G !"
The mutineers were vastiy edified by these timely instructions; and the man of parts ceasing to speak, directed his
attention to drying the meat. He, however, soon broke
forth again, found fault with every arrangement which had
been made,, and with his own mighty arm wrought the
changes he desired.
Meanwhile, he was rousing the fire, already burning
fiercely, to more and more activity, till the dropping grease
blazed, and our scaffold of meat was wrapped in flames.
"Take that meat off," roared he. No one obeyed, and
he stood still. "Take that meat off," he cried again, with
the emphasis and mien of an Emperor; not deigning him-^
self to soil his rags, by obeying his own command. No one
obeyed. The meat burned rapidly. His ire waxed high;
yet, no one was so much frightened as to heed his command. Hi
Farnham's Travels
At length his sublime forbearance had an end. The great
man seized the blazing meat, dashed it upon the ground,
raised the temperature of his fingers to the blistering
point, and rested from his labours.
[99] Three days more fatiguing travel along the bank of
the Arkansas brought us to the trading-post of the Messrs.
Bents. It was about two o'clock in the afternoon of the
5th of July, when we came in sight of its noble battlements,
and struck our caravan into a lively pace down the swell
of the neighbouring plain. The stray mules that we had
in charge belonging to the Bents, scented their old grazing
ground, and galloped cheerfully onward. And our hearts,
relieved from the anxieties which had made our camp for
weeks past a travelling Babel, leaped for joy as the gates
of the fort were thrown open; and "welcome to Fort William"— the hearty welcome of fellow-countrymen in the
wild wilderness, greeted us. Peace again — roofs again —
safety again from the winged arrows of the savage; relief
again from the depraved suggestions of inhumanity; bread,
ah ! bread again : and a prospect of a delightful tramp over
the snowy heights between me and Oregon, with a few men
of true and generous spirit, were some of the many sources
of pleasure which struggled with my slumbers on the first
night's tarry among the hospitalities of "Fort William." 48
[100] My company was to disband here ; the property held in
common to be divided ; and each individual to be left to his own
resources. And while these and other things are being done,
the reader will allow me to introduce him to the Great Prairie
Wilderness, and the beings and matters therein contained.
*» For a brief history of this post see our volume xx, p. 138, note 92; see also
post, chapter iv. A cut of the fort may be seen in J. T. Hughes, Doniphan's Expedition (Cincinnati, 1847), p. 35. Fremont visited there in 1844 and speaks of
the hospitable treatment accorded him. In the palmy days of the fur-trade the
Bents employed from eighty to a hundred men who made their headquarters at
this post.— Ed.
mWk Ill
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 28
The Great Prairie Wilderness — Its Rivers and Soil — Its People and
their Territories — Choctaws — Chickasaws — Cherokees — Creeks
— Senecas   and    Shawnees — Seminoles — Pottawotamies — Weas
— Pionkashas — Peorias and Kaskaskias — Ottowas — Shawnees or
Shawanoes — Delawares — Kausaus — Kickapoos — Sauks and
Foxes — Iowas — Otoes — Omehas — Puncahs — Pawnees, remnants — Carankauas — Cumanche, remnants — Knistineaux —
Naudowisses or Sioux— Chippeways,  and their traditions.
The tract of country to which I have thought it fitting to
apply the name of the "Great Prairie Wilderness," embraces the territory lying between the States of Louisiana,
Arkansas, and Missouri, and the Upper Mississippi on the
east, and the* Black Hills, and the eastern range of the
Rocky and the Cordilleras mountains on the west. One
thousand miles of longitude, and two thousand miles of
latitude, 2,000,000 square miles, equal to 1,280,000,000
acres of an almost unbroken plain! The sublime Prairie
Wilderness !
The portion of this vast region, two [102] hundred miles
in width, along the coast of Texas and the frontier of the
States of Louisiana, Arkansas, and Missouri, and that lying
within the same distance of the Upper Mississippi in the
Iowa Territory, possess a rich, deep, alluvial soil, capable
of producing the most abundant crops of grains, vegetables,
&c, that grow in such latitudes.
Another portion lying west of the irregular western line
of that just described, five hundred miles in width, extending
from the mouth of St. Peter's River to the Rio del Norte,
is an almost unbroken plain, destitute of trees, except here
and there one scattered at intervals for many miles along
the banks of the streams. The soil, except the intervals of
some of the rivers, is composed of coarse sand and clay, so
thin and hard that it is difficult for travellers to penetrate 1839]
Farnham' s Travels
it with the stakes they carry with them wherewithal to fasten their animals or spread their tents. Nevertheless it is
covered thickly with an extremely nutritious grass peculiar
to this region of country, the blades of which are wiry and
about two inches in height.
The remainder of this Great Wilderness, lying three hundred miles in width along [103] the eastern radices of the
Black Hills and that part of the Rocky Mountains between
the Platte and the Cordilleras-range east of the Rio del
Norte, is the arid waste usually called the " Great American
Desert." " Its soil is composed of dark gravel mixed with
the sand. Some small portions of it, on the banks of the
streams, are covered with tall prairie and bunch grass; others,
with wild wormwood; but even these kinds of vegetation
decrease and finally disappear as you approach the mountains. It is a scene of desolation scarcely equalled on the
continent, when viewed in the dearth of midsummer from
the base of the hills. Above, rise in sublime confusion,
mass upon mass, shattered cliffs through which is struggling the dark foliage of stinted shrub-cedars; while below
you spreads far and wide the burnt and arid desert, whose
solemn silence is seldom broken by the tread of any other
animal than the wolf or the starved and thirsty horse which
bears the traveller across its wastes.
The principal streams that intersect the Great Prairie
wilderness are the Colorado, the Brasos, Trinity, Red,
Arkansas, Great Platte and the Missouri. The latter is
in many respects a noble stream; not so [104] much so
indeed for the intercourse it opens between the States and
the plains, as the theatre of agriculture and the other dut-
suits of a densely populated and distant interior; for these
plains are too barren for general cultivation. As a channel
for the transportation of heavy artillery, military stores,
" See on this subject our volume xvi, p. 174, note 81.— Ed. Ill
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 28
troops, &c. to posts that must ultimately be established
along our northern frontier, it will be of the highest use.
In the months of April, May, and June it is navigable
for steam-boats to the Great Falls; but the scarcity of water
during the remainder of the year, as well as the scarcity of
wood and coal along its banks, its steadily rapid current,
its tortuous course, its falling banks, timber imbedded in
the mud of its channel, and its constantly shifting sand
bars, will ever prevent its waters from being extensively
navigated, how great soever may be the demand for it. In
that part of it which lies above the mouth of the Little
Missouri and the tributaries flowing into it on either side,
are said to be many charming and productive valleys,
separated from each other by secondary rocky ridges sparsely
covered with evergreen trees; and high over all, far in southwest, west and north-west, tower into [105] view, the ridges
of the Rocky Mountains, whose inexhaustible magazines of
ice and snow have, from age to age, supplied these valleys
with refreshing springs — and the Missouri — the Great
Platte — the Columbia — and Western Colorado rivers with
their tribute to the seas.
Lewis and Clark, on their way to Oregon in 1805, made
the Portage at the Great Falls eighteen miles. In this
distance the water descends three hundred and sixty-
two feet. The first great pitch is ninety-eight feet, the
second nineteen, the third forty-eight, and the fourth
twenty-six. Smaller rapids make up the remainder of
the descent. After passing over the Portage with their
boats and baggage, they again entrusted themselves to the
turbulent stream — entered the chasms of the Rocky Mountains seventy-one miles above the upper rapids of the
Falls, penetrated them one hundred and eighty miles,
with the mere force of their oars against the current, to
Gallatin,   Madison   and   Jefferson's   Forks — and in  the ^
Farnham's Travels
same manner ascended Jefferson's River two hundred and
forty-eight miles to the extreme head of navigation, making
from the mouth of the Missouri, whence they started, three
thousand and ninety-six [106] miles; four hundred and
twenty-nine of which lay among the sublime crags and
cliffs of the mountains.48
The Great Platte has a course by its northern fork of
about one thousand five hundred miles; and by its southern
fork somewhat more than that distance; from its entrance
into the Missouri to the junction of these forks about four
hundred miles. The north fork rises in Wind River Mountain, north of the Great Pass through Long's range of the
Rocky Mountains, in latitude 420 north.49 The south fork
rises one hundred miles west of James Peak, and within
fifteen miles of the point where the Arkansas escapes from
the chasms of the mountains, in latitude 390 north.60 This
river is not navigable for steamboats at any season of the
year. In the spring floods, the batteaux of the American
fur traders descend it from the forts on its forks. But even
this is so hazardous that they are beginning to prefer taking
down their furs in waggons by the way of the Konsas River
to Westport, Missouri, thence by steamboat to St. Louis.
During the summer and autumn months its waters are too
shallow to float a canoe. In the winter it is bound in ice.
Useless as it is for [107] purposes of navigation, it is destined to be of great value in another respect.
48 Farnham is quoting from the Biddle (1814) edition of the journals of
Lewis and Clark. Consult R. G. Thwaites, Original Journals oj the Lewis and
Clark Expedition (New York, 1903-05), ii, pp. 159-339.— Ed.
" For the sources of North Platte see James's Long's Expedition, our volume
xv, pp. 234-236, with accompanying note.— Ed.
50 Long's expedition of 1819-20 followed the South Platte nearly to its source.
See our volume xv, pp. 241-305, especially p. 292, note 141. James's Peak was
the name bestowed by Long upon what is now known as Pike's Peak, because
Dr. Edwin James was the first to make the ascent. Fremont restored the name
of Pike in 1843.    See our volume xvi, pp. 11-36, especially note 15.— Ed.
mm ■7
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 28
The overland travel from the States to Oregon and California will find its great highway along its banks. So that
in years to come, when the Federal Government shall take
possession of its Territory West of the Mountains, the banks
of this stream will be studded with fortified posts for the
protection of countless caravans of American citizens emi
grating thither to establish their abode; or of those that
are willing to endure or destroy the petty tyranny of the
Californian Government, for a residence in that most beautiful, productive country. Even now, loaded waggons can
pass without serious interruption from the mouth of the
Platte to navigable waters on the Columbia River in
Oregon, and the Bay of San Francisco, in California.61
As it may interest my readers to peruse a description of
these routes given me by different individuals who had often
travelled them, I will insert it: "Land on the north side of
the mouth of the Platte; follow up that stream to the Forks,
four hundred miles; in this distance only one stream where
a raft will be needed, and that near the Missouri; all the
rest fordable. At the Forks, take the north side of [108]
the North one; fourteen days' travel to the Black Hills;
thence leaving the river's bank, strike off in a North West
direction to the Sweet-water branch, at "Independence
Rock," (a large rock in the plain on which the old trappers
many years ago carved the word "Independence" and their
own names; oval in form;) follow up the sweet-water three
days; cross it and go to its head; eight or ten days travel
this; then cross over westward to the head waters of a small
creek running southwardly into the Platte, thence westward to Big Sandy creek two days, (this creek is a large
»l For the first wagons on the Oregon Trail see De Smet's Letters, in our volume
xxvii, p. 243, note 116. The Whitman party in 1836 succeeded in conveying
wagons as far as Fort Boise, on Lewis River. There is no record that wagons had
gone through to Walla Walla at the time of Farnham's journey.— Ed. i«39]
Farnham's Travels
stream coming from Wind river Mountains in the North;)
thence one day to Little Sandy creek — thence westward
over three or four creeks to Green River, (Indian name
Sheetskadee,) strike it at the mouth of Horse creek — follow it down three days to Pilot Bute; thence strike westward one day to Ham's Fork of Green River — two days
up Ham's Fork — thence West one day to Muddy Branch
of Great Bear River — down it one day to Great Bear
River — down this four days to Soda Springs; turn to the
right up a valley a quarter of a mile below the Soda Springs;
follow it up a north west direction two days to its head;
there take the left hand valley leading over the dividing
[109] ridge; one day over to the waters of Snake River at
Fort Hall;62 thence down Snake River twenty days to the
junction of the Lewis and Clark Rivers — or twenty days
travel westwardly by the Mary's River — thence through
a natural and easy passage in the California Mountains to
the navigable waters of the San Joiquin — a noble stream
emptying into the Bay of San Francisco." 6S
52 This is a good brief description of the Oregon Trail as far as Fort Hall. See
our volume xxi, Wyeth's Oregon, pp. 52, 53, and notes 32-34; also Townsend's
Narrative, pp. 187-211, notes 36, 43, 44, 45, 51.— Ed.
68 This description regarding the California route shows the indefiniteness
of the knowledge then current. No one is known to have passed t-tifa way save
Jedediah S. Smith (1827) and Joseph Walker, sent by Captain Bonneville (1833).
When Bidwell and Bartleson went out in 1841, they found no one who could give
them detailed information of the route from Fort Hall to California, and they
stumbled through the wilderness in great confusion. See John Bidwell, "First
Emigrant Train to California," in Century Magazine, xix (new series), pp. 106-
129. Mary River is that now known as the Humboldt, which rises a hundred
miles west of Great Salt Lake and after a course of nearly three hundred miles
west and southwest flows into Humboldt Lake or Sink. This river was originally named Ogden for Peter Skeen Ogden, a Hudson Bay factor, whose Indian
wife was known as Mary. The name Humboldt was assigned by Lieutenant
Fremont (1845), who does not appear to have connected it with Mary River, which
he sought the preceding year. This explorer also proved (1844) that the San
Joaquin and other affluents of San Francisco Bay do not "form a natural and easy
passage " through the California or Sierra Nevada Mountains.— Ed.
Hi ii4
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 28
The Platte therefore when considered in relation to our
intercourse with the habitable countries on the Western
Ocean assumes an unequal importance among the streams
of the Great Prairie Wilderness! But for it, it would be
impossible for man or beast to travel those arid plains,
destitute alike, of wood, water and grass, save what of each
is found along its course. Upon the head waters of its
North Fork, too, is the only way or opening in the Rocky
mountains at all practicable for a carriage road through
them. That traversed by Lewis and Clark, is covered
with perpetual snow; that near the debouchure of the
South Fork of the river is over high and nearly impassable
precipices; that travelled by myself farther south, is, and
ever will be impassable for wheel carriages. But the Great
Gap, nearly [no] on a right line between the mouth of
Missouri and Fort Hall on Clark's River — the point
where the trails to California and Oregon diverge — seems
designed by nature as the great gateway between the
nations on the Atlantic and Pacific seas.64
The Red River has a course of about one thousand five
hundred miles. It derives its name from a reddish colour
of its water, produced by a rich red earth or marl in its
banks, far up in the Prairie Wilderness. So abundantly
is this mingled with its waters during the spring freshets,
that as the floods retire, they leave upon the lands they have
overflowed a deposit of half an inch in thickness. Three
hundred miles from its mouth commences what is called
"The Raft," a covering formed by drift-wood, which conceals the whole river for an extent of about forty miles.
And so deeply is this immense bridge covered with the sediment of the stream, that all kinds of vegetable common in
its neighbourhood, even trees of a considerable size, are
m By the "Great Gap" Farnham intends South Pass, for which see Wyeth's
Oregon in our volume xxi, p. 58, note 37.— Ed.
-— 1839]
Farnham's Travels
growing upon it. The annual inundations are said to be
cutting a new channel near the hill. Steamboats ascend
the river to the Raft, and might go fifty leagues above, if
that obstruction were removed.66 Above this latter point
[in] the river is said to be embarrassed by many rapids,
shallows, falls, and sand-bars. Indeed, for seven hundred
miles its broad bed is represented to be an extensive and
perfect sand-bar; or rather a series of sand-bars; among
which during the summer months, the water stands in ponds.
As you approach the mountains, however, it becomes contracted within narrow limits over a gravelly bottom, and a
swift, clear, and abundant stream. The waters of the Red
River are so brackish when low, as to be unfit for common
The Trinity River, the Brazos, and the Rio Colorado,
have each a course of about twelve hundred miles, rising in
the plains and mountains on the north and north-west side
of Texas, and running south south-east into the Gulf of
The Rio Bravo del Norte 68 bounds the Great Prairie
Wilderness on the south and south-west. It is one thousand
six hundred and fifty miles long. The extent of its navigation is littie known. Lieutenant Pike remarks in regard to
it, that "for the extent of four or five hundred miles before
you arrive near the mountains, the bed of the river is extensive and a perfect sand-bar, which at a certain season is
dry, at least the waters stand [112] in ponds, not affording
sufficient to procure a running course. When you come
nearer the mountains, you find the river contracted, a
gravelly bottom and a deep navigable stream.   From these
66 For this obstruction, and the clearing of it, see our volume xvii, p. 70, note
64. — Ed.
» For this river see Pattie's Personal Narrative in our volume xviii, p. 75, note
45-— Ed. il
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 28
circumstances it is evident that the sandy soil imbibes all
the waters which the sources project from the mountains,
and render the river in dry seasons less navigable five hundred miles, than two hundred from its source." Perhaps
we should understand the Lieutenant to mean that five
hundred miles of sand bar and two hundred miles immediately below its source being taken from its whole course,
the remainder, nine hundred and fifty miles, would be the
length of its navigable waters.67
The Arkansas, after the Missouri, is the most considerable
river of the country under consideration. It takes its rise
in that cluster of secondary mountains which lie at the
eastern base of the Anahuac Ridge, in latitude 410 north —
eighty or ninety miles north-west of James Peak. It runs
about two hundred miles — first in a southerly and then in
a south-easterly direction among these mountains; at one
time along the most charming valleys and at another through
the most awful chasms — till it rushes from them with a
foaming [113] current in latitude 390 north. From the
place of its debouchure to its entrance into the Mississippi
is a distance of 1981 miles; its total length 2173 miles.
About fifty miles below a tributary of this stream, called
the Grand Saline,68 a series of sand-bars commence and run
down the river several hundred miles. Among them, during the dry season, the water stands in isolated pools, with
no apparent current.    But such is the quantity of water
57 For a brief biography of Zebulon M. Pike, see our volume viii, p. 280, note
122. The journals of his expedition have been edited by Elliott Coues, Expeditions oj Zebulon M. Pike (New York, 1895).— Ed.
58 Anahuac was a native Mexican word originally applied to the low coastal
lands, but gradually transferred to the great central plateau of Mexico, with its
mountainous ranges. Farnham considers the Rocky Mountain range south of
South Pass an integral part of this Mexican system, as it was in his time under
the Mexican government.
The Grand Saline branch of the Arkansas is probably intended for the Ne-
gracka, now called Salt Fork.    See our volume xvi, p. 243, note 114.— Ed. i839]
Farnham's Travels
sent down from the mountains by this noble stream at the
time of the annual freshets, that there is sufficient depth,
even upon these bars, to float large and heavy boats; and
having once passed these obstructions, they can be taken
up to the place where the river escapes from the crags of
the mountains. Boats intended to ascend the river, should
start from the mouth about the 1st of February. The
Arkansas will be useful in conveying munitions of war to
our southern frontier. In the dry season, the waters of this
river are strongly impregnated with salt and nitre.
There are about 135,000 Indians inhabiting the Great
Prairie. Wilderness,59 of whose social and civil condition,
manners and customs, &c. I will give a brief account. [114]
It would seem natural to commence with those tribes which
reside in what is called "The Indian Territory;" a tract
of country bounded south by the Red River, east by the
States of Arkansas and Missouri — on the north-east and
north by the Missouri and Punch Rivers,60 and west by
the western limit of habitable country on this side of the
Rocky Mountains. This the National Government has
purchased of the indigenous tribes at specific prices; and
under treaty stipulations to pay them certain annuities in
cash, and certain others in facilities for learning the useful arts, and for acquiring that knowledge of all kinds of
truth which will, as is supposed, in the end excite the wants,
create the industry, and confer upon them the happiness
of the civilized state.
These benevolent intentions of Government, however,
have a still wider reach.   Soon after the English power
69 This estimate of population would seem to be fair. Compare Gregg's tables
in our volume xx, pp. 317-341, notes 204-215, compiled from the report of the Indian commissioner in 1844.— Ed.
•0 Ponca (Punca) Creek, which in 1837 formed the northern boundary of what
was known as "Indian Territory."    See our volume xxii, p. 291, note 253.— Ed. n8
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 28
had been extinguished here, the enlightened men who had
raised over its ruins the temples of equal justice, began to
make efforts to restore to the Indians within the colonies the
few remaining rights that British injustice had left within
their power to return; and so to exchange property with
them, as to [115] secure to the several States the right of
sovereignty within their several limits, and to the Indians,
the functions of a sovereign power, restricted in this, that
the tribes should not sell their lands to other person or body
corporate, or civil authority, beside the Government of the
United States; and in some other respects restricted, so as
to preserve peace amongthe tribes, prevent tyranny, and lead
them to the greatest happiness they are capable of enjoying.81
Various and numerous were the efforts made to raise and
ameliorate their condition in their old haunts within the
precincts of the States. But a total or partial failure followed them all. In a few cases, indeed, there seemed a
certain prospect of final success, if the authorities of the
States in which they resided had permitted them to remain
where they were. But as all experience tended to prove that
their proximity to the whites induced among them more vice
than virtue.;; and as the General Government, before any
attempts had been made to elevate them, had become
bound to remove them from [116] many of the States in
which they resided, both the welfare of the Indians, and the
duty of the Government, urged their colonization in a portion of the western domain, where, freed from all questions
of conflicting sovereignties, and under the protection of the
Union, and their own municipal regulations, they might
find a refuge from those influences which threatened the
annihilation of their race.
61 This is a gratuitous remark. The conduct of the British Government Will
compare most favourably with that of the United States. The English have not
thought of hunting Indians with blood-hounds.— English Ed. i839]
Farnham's Travels
The "Indian Territory" has been selected for this purpose. And assuredly if an inexhaustible soil, producing all
the necessaries of life in greater abundance, and with a
third less labour than they are produced in the Atlantic
States, with excellent water, fine groves of timber growing by the streams, rocky cliffs rising at convenient distances
for use among the deep alluvial plains, mines of iron and
lead ore and coal, lakes and springs and streams of salt
water, and innumerable quantities of buffalo ranging
through their lands, are sufficient indications that this country is a suitable dwelling-place for a race of men which is
passing from the savage to the civilized condition, the Indian Territory has been well chosen as the home of these
unfortunate people. Thither the Government, for the last
thirty years, has been endeavouring [117] to induce those
within the jurisdiction of the States to emigrate.82
The Government purchase the land which the emigrating
tribes leave — giving them others within the Territory;
transport them to their new abode; erect a portion of their
dwellings; plough and fence a portion of their fields;
furnish them teachers of agriculture, and implements of
husbandry, horses, cattle, &c. ; erect schoolhouses, and
support teachers in them the year round; make provision
for the subsistence of those who, by reason of their recent
emigration, are unable to support themselves; and do
every other act of benevolence necessary to put within
their ability to enjoy, not only all the physical comforts
that they left behind them, but also every requisite, facility,
and encouragement to become a reasoning, cultivated, and
happy people.
Nor does this spirit of liberality stop here. The great
doctrine that Government is formed to confer upon its
** See on this subject Gregg's Commerce oj the Prairies, in our volume xx, p. 300,
note 191.— Ed. msm
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 28
I à
subjects a greater degree of happiness than they could
enjoy in the natural state, has suggested that the system of
hereditary chieftaincies, and its dependant evils among the
tribes, should yield, as circumstances may permit, to the
ordination of nature, the supremacy [118] of intellect and
virtue. Accordingly, it is contemplated to use the most
efficient means to abolish them, making the rulers elective,
establishing a form of government in each tribe, similar
in department and duties to our State Governments, and
uniting the tribes under a General Government, similar in
powers and functions to that at Washington.83
It is encouraging to know that some of the tribes have
adopted this system; and that the Government of the
Union has been so far encouraged to hope for its adoption
by all those in the Indian Territory, that in 1837 orders
were issued from the Department of Indian affairs, to the
Superintendent of Surveys, to select and report a suitable
place for the Central Government. A selection was accordingly made of a clrarming and valuable tract of land
on the Osage river, about seven miles square; which, on
account of its equal distance from the northern and southern line of the Territory, and the beauty and excellence
of the surrounding country, appears in every way adapted
to its contemplated use. It is a little more than sixteen
miles from the western line of Missouri. Any member of
those tribes which come into the confederation, may own
property in the district, and no other.84
M See our volume xx, pp. 308-315, with accompanying notes.— Ed.
M This plan for a general federation of the tribes west of the Mississippi was
popular in 1836-37. Rev. Isaac McCoy was appointed agent and detailed to approach the tribes with explanations. He chose the site for a central government
as here described by Farnham. See 25 Cong., 2 sess., Senate Docs., i, pp. 579-584.
The following year a change in the administration of the commissionership of
Indian affairs brought about a reversal of policy. The difficulties were enlarged
upon, and the reluctance of the more civilized tribes made an excuse for dropping
the project.— Ed. 1839]
Farnham' s Travels
[119] The indigenous, or native tribes of the Indian
Territory, are — the Osages, about 5,510; the Kauzaus or
Caws, 1,720; the Omahas, 1,400; the Otoe and Missouri,
1,600; the Pawnee, 10,000; Puncah, 800; Quapaw, 600 —
making 21,660. The tribes that have emigrated thither
from the States, are — the Choctaw, 15,600 (this estimate
includes 200 white men, married to Choctaw women, and
600 negro slaves); the Chickasaws, 5,500; the Cherokees,
22,000 (this estimate includes 1,200 negro slaves owned by
them); the Cherokees (including 900 slaves), 22,000; the
Creeks (including 393 negro slaves) 22,500; the Senecas
and Shawnees, 461; the Seminoles, 1,600; the Pottawa-
tamies, 1,650; the Weas, 206; the Piankashas, 157; the
Peorias and Kaskaskias, 142; the Ottawas, 240; the Shawnees, 823; the Delà wares, 921; the Kickapoos, 400; the
Sauks, 600; the Iowas, 1,000. It is to be understood that
the numbers assigned to these tribes represent only those
portions of them which have actually removed to the Territory. Large numbers of several tribes are still within the
borders of the States. It appears from the above tables,
then, that 72,200 have had lands assigned them; and,
abating the relative [120] effects of births and deaths
among them, in increasing or diminishing their numbers,
are actually residing in the Territory. These, added to
21,000 of the indigenous tribes, amount to 94,860 under
the fostering care of the Federal Government, in a fertile
and delightful country, six hundred miles in length from
north to south, and east and west from the frontier of the
Republic to the deserts of the mountains.
The Choctaw country lies in the extreme south of the
Territory. Its boundaries are — on the south, the Red
River, which separates it from the Republic of Texas; on
the west, by that line running from the Red River to the
Arkansas  River,   which  separates  the  Indian  American —
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 28
Territory from that of Mexico;85 on the north, by the Arkansas and the Canadian Rivers; and on the east, by the State
of Arkansas. This tract is capable of producing the most
abundant crops, the small grains, Indian corn, flax, hemp,
tobacco, cotton, &c. The western portion of it is poorly
supplied with timber; but all the distance from the Arkansas' frontier westward, two hundred miles, and extending
one hundred and sixty miles from its northern to its southern
boundary, the country is capable of supporting [121] a
population as dense as that of England. 19,200,000 acres
of soil suitable for immediate settlement, and a third as
much more to the westward that would produce the black
locust in ten years after planting, of sufficient size for
fencing the very considerable part of it which is rich
enough for agricultural purposes, will, doubtless, sustain
any increased population of this tribe that can reasonably
be looked for during the next five hundred years.
They have suffered much from sickness incident to settlers in a new country. But there appear to be no natural
causes existing, which, in the known order of things, will
render their location permanently unhealthy. On the
other hand, since they have become somewhat inured to
the change of climate, they are quite as healthy as the whites
near them; and are improving in civilization and comfort;
have many large farms; much live stock, such as horses,
mules, cattle, sheep, and swine; three flouring-mills, two
cotton-gins, eighty-eight looms, and two hundred and
twenty spinning-wheels; carts, waggons, and other farming
utensils. Three or four thousand Choctaws have not yet
settled on the lands assigned to them. A part of these are
in [122] Texas, between the rivers Brazos and Trinity, 300
in number, who located themselves there in the time of the
general emigration;  and others in divers places in Texas,
66 That is, the one hundredth meridian of west longitude.— Ed. i839]
Farnham's Travels
who emigrated thither at various times twenty, thirty, and
forty years ago. Still another band continues to reside east
of the Mississippi.
The Choctaw Nation, as the tribe denominates itself, has
adopted a written constitution of Government, similar to
the Constitution of the United States. Their Declaration
of Rights secures to all ranks and sects equal rights, liberty
of conscience, and trial by jury, &c. It may be altered or
amended by a National Council. They have divided their
country into four judicial districts. Three of them annually
elect nine, and the other thirteen, members of the National
Assembly. They meet on the first Monday in October
annually; organize by the election of a Speaker, the necessary clerks, a light-horseman (sergeant-at-arms), and doorkeeper; adopt by-laws, or rules for their governance, while
in session; and make other regulations requisite for the
systematic transaction of business. The journals are kept
in the English language; but in the progress of business are
read off [123] in Choctaw. The preliminary of a law is,
"Be it enacted by the General Council of the Choctaw
By the Constitution, the Government is composed of
four departments, viz.: Legislative, Executive, Judicial
and Military. Three judges are elected in each district by
popular vote, who hold inferior and superior courts within
their respective districts. Ten light-horse men in each district perform the duties of sheriffs. An act has been passed
for the organization of the militia. Within each judicial
district an officer is elected, denominated a chief, who holds
his office for the term of four years. These chiefs have
honorary seats in the National Council. Their signatures
are necessary to the passage of a law. If they veto an
act, it may become a law by the concurrence of two-thirds
of the Council.   Thus have the influences of our institu- liiif
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 28
tions begun to tame and change the savages of the western
At the time when the lights of religion and science had
scarcely begun to dawn upon them — when they had scarcely
discovered the clouds of ignorance that had walled every
avenue to rational life — even while the dust of antiquated
barbarism was [124] still hanging upon their garments —
and the night of ages, of sloth, and sin held them in its cold
embraces — the fires on the towers of this great temple of
civil freedom arrested their slumbering faculties, and they
read on all the holy battlements, written with beams of
living light, "All men are, and of right ought to be, free and
equal." This teaching leads them. It was a pillar of fire
moving over the silent grave of the past — enlightening the
vista of coming years — and, by its winning brightness,
inviting them to rear in the Great Prairie wilderness, a
sanctuary of republican liberty — of equal laws — in which
to deposit the ark of their own future well-being.
The Chickasaws have become merged in the Choctaws.
When they sold to the Government their lands east of the
Mississippi, they agreed to furnish themselves with a home.
This they have done in the western part of the Choctaw
66 This constitution was adopted in 1838; later it was amended, and brought
more into harmony with the Cherokee constitution, which was modelled upon
that of Mississippi. The modified document provided for a single executive,
called the principal chief, elected for two years, and ineligible for more than four
years in six; two houses of legislature; courts of judiciary, etc. After the War
of Secession this constitution was further amended, slavery being then abolished.
In 1897 the Choctaw entered into the Atoka agreement with the commission to
the Five Civilized Tribes, whereby the judicial functions of their tribal government have passed to the United States courts erected in the territory. Tribal
government itself was to have ceased March 6, 1906; at that time, all lands
being allotted, it was expected that the Choctaw became full-fledged American
citizens. But owing to complications involved in settling the estates, an act of
postponement was passed by Congress in the spring of that year, providing that
"tribal existence and present tribal governments are continued in full force until
otherwise provided by law. ' ' See article, "The End of the Civilized Tribes, ' ' in
The Independent (New York, 1906), lx, pp. ino, mi.— Ed. i839]
Farnham's Travels
country for the sum of £106,000. It is called the
Chickasaw district; and constitutes an integral part of
the Choctaw body politic in every respect, except that the
Chickasaws, like the Choctaws, received and invest for
their own sole use, the annuities and other moneys proceeding from the sale of their lands east of the Mississippi.87
[125] The treaty of 1830 provides for keeping forty
Choctaw youths at school, under the direction of the President of the United States, for the term of twenty years.
Also, the sum of £500 is to be applied to the support of
three teachers of schools among them for the same length
of time. There is, also, an unexpended balance of former
annuities, amounting to about £5,000, which is to be applied
to the support of schools, at twelve different places. School-
houses have been erected for this purpose, and paid for,
out of this fund. Also, by the treaty of 1825, they are
entitled to an annuity of £1,200, for the support of schools
within the Choctaw district.
The treaty of the 24th of May, 1834, provides that £600
annually, for fifteen years, shall be applied, under the direction of the Secretary of War, to the education of the Chickasaws. These people have become very wealthy, by the
cession of their lands east of the Mississippi to the United
States. They have a large fund applicable to various
objects of civilization; £2,000 of which is, for the present,
applied to purposes of education.68
The country assigned to the Cherokees is bounded as
follows: beginning on the [126] north bank of   Arkansas
87 On the Chickasaw see our volume xx, p. 310, note 199. The Chickasaw
were embraced in the Atoka agreement (see preceding note), and the allotment
of their lands is about completed. As in succeeding paragraphs Farnham has
here changed the sums originally indicated in American currency to their corresponding equivalents in English money.— Ed.
68 On the subject of education and the Choctaw Academy see our volume
xx, p. 306, with accompanying notes.— Ed. u-mi
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 28
ill '
River, where the western line of the State of Arkansas
crosses the river; thence north 70 35' west, along the line of
the State of Arkansas, seventy-seven miles to the south-west
corner of the State of Missouri; thence north along
the line of Missouri, eight miles to Seneca River; thence
west along the southern boundary of the Senecas to
Neosho River; thence up said river to the Osage lands;
thence west with the South boundary of the Osage lands,
two hundred and eighty-eight and a half miles; thence
south to the Creek lands, and east along the north line
of the creeks, to a point about forty-three miles west of
the State of Arkansas, and twenty-five miles north of
Arkansas River, thence south to Verdigris River, thence
down Verdigris to Arkansas River; thence down Arkansas
River to the mouth of Neosho River; thence South 530
west one mile; thence south 180 19' west thirty-three miles;
thence south four miles, to the junction of the North Fork
and Canadian Rivers; thence down the latter to the
Arkansas; and thence down the Arkansas, to the place
of beginning.89
They also own a tract, described, by beginning at the
south-east corner of the Osage lands, and running north with
the Osage line, fifty miles; thence east twenty-five [127] miles
to the west line of Missouri; thence west twenty-five-miles,
to the place of beginning.
They own numerous Salt Springs, three of which are
worked by Cherokees. The amount of Salt manufactured
is probably about 100 bushels per day. They also own two
Lead Mines. Their Salt Works and Lead Mines are in the
Eastern portion of their country. All the settlements yet
formed are there also. It embraces about 2,500,000 acres.
They own about 20,000 head of cattle, 3,000 horses, 15,000
«» This is an accurate description of the present boundary of the Cherokee
Nation, but " state of Kansas " should be read for "Osage lands."— Ed. 1839]
Farnham's Travels
hogs, 600 sheep, no waggons, often several ploughs to one
farm, several hundred spinning wheels, and one hundred
looms. Their fields are enclosed with rail fences. They
have erected for themselves good log dwellings, with stone
chimenys and plank floors. Their houses are furnished
with plain tables, chairs, and bedsteads, and with table and
kitchen furniture, nearly or quite equal to the dwellings of
white people in new countries.— They have seven native merchants, and one regular physician, [beside several "quacks."
Houses of entertainment, with neat and comfortable accommodation, are found among them.
Their settlements are divided into four districts, each of
which elects for the term [128] of two years, two members
of the National Council — the title of which is, "The
General Council of the Cherokee Nation." By law, it
meets annually on the first Monday in October. They
have three chiefs, which till lately have been chosen by the
General Council. Hereafter, they are to be elected by
the people. The approval of the chiefs is necessary to the
passage of a law; but an act upon which they have fixed
their veto, may become a law by a vote of two thirds of
the Council. The Council consists of two branches. The
lower is denominated the Committee, and the upper, the
Council. The concurrence of both is necessary to the
passage of a law. The chiefs may call a Council at pleasure. In this, and in several other respects, they retain in
some degree the authority common to hereditary chiefs.
Two Judges belong to each district, who hold courts when
necessary. Two officers, denominated Light-horsemen,
in each district perform the duties of Sheriffs. A company
of six or seven Light-horsemen, the leader of whom is styled
captain, constitute a National Corps of Regulators, to prevent
infractions of the law, and to bring offenders to justice.70
70 Compare a similar description by Gregg in our volume xx, p. 306.— Ed. 128
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 28
It is stipulated in the treaty of the 6th [129] of May, 1823,
that the United States will pay £400 annually to the Cherokees for ten years, to be expended under the direction of the
President of the United States, in the education of their
children, in their own country, in letters and mechanic arts.
Also £200 toward the purchase of a printing-press and types.
By the treaty of December 29, 1835, the sum of £30,000 is
provided for the support of common schools, and such a
literary institution of a higher order as may be established
in the Indian country. The above sum is to be added to an
education fund of £10,000 that previously existed, making
the sum of £40,000 which is to remain a permanent school
fund, only the interest of which is to be consumed. The
application of this money is to be directed by the Cherokee
Nation, under the supervision of the President of the United
States. The interest of it will be sufficient constantly to
keep in a boarding-school two hundred children; or eight
hundred, if boarded by their parents.
The country of the Creeks joins Canadian river, and the
lands of the Choctaws on the south, and the Cherokee lands
on the east and north. Their eastern limit is about sixty-
two miles from north to south; [130] their western limit the
Mexican boundary.71
Their country is fertile, and exhibits a healthy appearance;
but of the latter Creek emigrants who reached Arkansas in
the winter and spring of 1837, about two hundred died on
the road; and before the 1st of October succeeding the
arrival, about three thousand five hundred more fell victims to bilious fevers. In the same year three hundred of
the earlier emigrants died.   They own salt springs, culti-
71 In 1856 the Creeks ceded part of the western portion of their strip to the Seminole ; and again in 1866, both Creeks and Seminole ceded to the United States
a portion of their western territory, which makes a large part of the present Oklahoma.    The Creek western boundary is, therefore, a trifle east of 970.— Ed. 1839]
Farnham's Travels
vate corn, vegetables, &c, spin, weave and sew, and follow other pursuits of civilised people. Many of them have
large stocks of cattle. Before the crops of 1837 had been
gathered, they had sold corn to the amount of upwards of
£7,800; and vast quantities still remained unsold. Even
the emigrants who arrived in their country during the winter
and spring, previous to the cropping season of 1837, broke
the turf, fenced their fields, raised their crops for the first
time on the soil, and sold their surplus of corn for £2,000.
They have two native merchants.
The civil government of this tribe is less perfect than
that of the Cherokees. There are two bands; the one
under Mcintosh, the other under Little Doctor.72 That led
[131] by the former, brought with them from their old home
written laws which they enforce as the laws of their band.
That under the latter, made written laws after their arrival.
Each party holds a general council. The members of each
are hereditary chiefs, and a class of men called councillors.
Each of these great bands is divided into lesser ones; which
severally may hold courts, try civil and criminal causes,
sentence, and execute, &c. Laws, however, are made
by the general councils only; and it is becoming customary
to entertain trials of cases before these bodies, and to detail
some of their members for executioners.    The legislative,
72 The Creek confederacy was divided into two parts, known as Upper and
Lower Creeks. The former were the chief aggressors in the Creek War of r8i3,
which was in fact largely a civil outbreak. General William Mcintosh, half-
breed son of Roderick Mcintosh, a Highland emigrant to West Florida, was an
influential chief of the Lower Creeks and loyal to the Americans. He led the
party favoring removal to Indian Territory, and signed the treaty of Indian
Springs (1825) whereupon he was put to death by the band opposed to emigration. His sons Chilly and Roily Mcintosh became leaders of the emigration
party and removed west of the Mississippi (1826-27). One of the chiefs of the
Eastern band was Little Doctor, who volunteered to aid the United States in the
Seminole War (1835-42). He came west with his band about r836. It was not
until 1867 that the two factions united under a written constitution and a republican form of government.— Ed.
èL 13°
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 28
judicial, and executive departments of their government
are thus becoming strangely united in one.
The treaty of the 6th of March, 1832, stipulates that an
annuity of £600 shall be expended by the United States,
under the direction of the President, for the term of twenty
years, in the education of their children. Another £200
by the treaty of the 14th of February, 1833, is to be annually
expended during the pleasure of Congress for the same
object, under the direction of the President.
In location and government the Seminoles [132] are
merged in the Creeks.78 In the spring of 1836, about four
hundred of them emigrated from the east, and settled on
the north fork of Canadian river. In October, 1837, they
were reduced by sickness nearly one-half. During these
awful times of mortality among them, some of the dead
were deposited in the hollows of the standing and fallen
trees, and others, for want of these, were placed in a temporary inclosure of boards, on the open plains. Guns and
other articles of property were often buried with the dead,
according to ancient custom; and so great is said to have
been the terror of the time, that, having abandoned themselves awhile to their wailings around the burial-places of
their friends, they fled to the western deserts till the
pestilence subsided. Of the two thousand and twenty-
three emigrants who had reached their new homes prior to
73 The Seminole who made their home in Florida, were a branch of the Creeks.
After the Creek War (1813-14) the majority of the hostiles made their way to the
Seminole. When attempt was made to remove these tribesmen to Indian Territory (1832-34), they resisted sharply and finally war broke out which was prolonged until 1842. As various bands surrendered to the United States or were
captured, they were sent out to the territory, so that by 1839 (the year of Farnham's journey) there were nineteen hundred Seminole among the Creeks. In
1856 they attempted autonomy, and with the consent of the United States bought
200,000 acres of Creek land; two years later the remainder of the band from Florida, under their chief Bowlegs, came out and joined their tribe. In 1881-82 they
added 175,000 acres to their tract.— Ed. 1839]
Farnham's Travels
October, 1832, not more than one thousand six hundred
remained alive.
The Senecas consist of three bands, namely: Senecas
two hundred, Senecas and Shawanoes two hundred and
eleven, Mohawks fifty; in all four hundred and sixty-one.
The lands of the Senecas proper adjoin those of the Cherokees on the south, [133] and abutting on the Missouri border, the distance of thirteen miles, extend north to Neosho
river. The lands of the mixed band of Senecas and Shawanoes, extend north between the State of Missouri and
Neosho river, so far as to include sixty-thousand acres.74
These people, also, are in some measure civilized. Most
of them speak English. They have fields inclosed with
rail fences, and raise corn and vegetables sufficient for their
own use. They own about eight-hundred horses, twelve
hundred cattie, thirteen yoke of oxen, two hundred hogs,
five waggons, and sixty-seven ploughs; dwell in neat, hewn log
cabins erected by themselves, and furnished with bedsteads,
chairs, tables, &c, of their own manufacture; and own one
grist and saw-mill, erected at the expense of the United States.
The country of the Osages lies north of the western portion of the Cherokee lands, commencing twenty-five miles
west of the State of Missouri, and thence, in a width of fifty
miles, extends westward as far at the country can be inhabited. In 1817, they numbered ten thousand five hundred.
Wars with the Sioux, and other causes, have left only five
thousand five hundred. [134] About half the tribe reside
on the eastern portion of their lands; the residue in the
Cherokee country, in two villages on Verdigris river.76
74 The majority of the Seneca refused to leave New York State — see our volume viii, p. 183, note 41; and volume xxiv, p. 163, note 176. The mixed bands
in Kansas were removed to Indian Territory in 1867, and located on the Quapaw
Agency. They are now citizens, having lands allotted in severalty (about 1889)
in the northeastern part of Indian Territory.— Ed.
75 On the Osage see our volume v, p. 50, note 22.   Their Kansas lands having mm
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 28
This tribe has made scarcely any improvement. Their
fields are small and badly fenced. Their huts are constructed of poles inserted in the ground, bent together at
the top, and covered with bark, mats, &c, and some of
them with buffalo and elk skins. The fire is placed in
the centre, and the smoke escapes through an aperture at
the top. These huts are built - in villages, and crowded
together without order or arrangement, and destitute of