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Early Western Travels 
1 748 -1 846 

Volume XIII 

Early Western Travels 


A Series of Annotated Reprints of some of the best 
and rarest contemporary volumes of travel, de- 
scriptive of the Aborigines and Social and 
Economic Conditions in the Middle 
and Far West, during the Period 
of Early American Settlement 

Edited with Notes, Introduftions, Index, etc., by 

Reuben Gold Thwaites, LL.D. 

Editor of **The Jesuit Relations and Allied Documents," "Original 

Journals of the Lewis and Clark Expedition," "Hennepin's 

New Discovery," etc. 

Volume XIII 

Nuttall's Travels into the Arkansa 
Territory, 18 19 

..:;^<'\ R A i^ r • 
,- OF Tr-.f. 

Cleveland, Ohio 

The Arthur H. Clark Company 

Copyright 1905, by 


?rt)£ Eakestlie J^rtBB 



Preface. The Editor 1 1 

A JousNAL OF Travels into the Arkansa Territory, dur- 
ing the year 1819, with Occasional Observations on the 
Manners of the Aborigines. Thomas Nuttall, F.L.S. 

Copyright Notice ....... 24 

Author's Dedication . . . . . -25 

Author's Preface . . . . . . -27 

Author's Table of Contents . . . . - 31 

Text 35 


Section I. An Account of the Ancient Abori- 
ginal Population of the Banks of the Missis- 
sippi and the Contiguous Country . - 319 
Section II. The History of the Natchez . - 338 
Section III. Observations on the Chicasaws 

and Choctaws . . . . . -353 
Section IV. Thermometrical Observations in 

the Arkansa Territory, during the year 1819 365 


"A Map of the Arkansas River, by H. S. Tanner " . . 22 

Facsimile of title-page to Nuttall ...... 23 

"Distant View of the Mamelle" . . . . . - 153 

"Mamelle" 159 

" Cadron Settlement " 163 

" Magazin Mountain " ....... 185 

"Cavaniol Mountain" ....... 203 


The present volume of our series is devoted to a reprint 
of Thomas Nuttall's Journal of Travels into the Arkansa 
Territory, during the year i8ig, with Occasional Obser- 
vations on the Manners of the Aborigines, originally pub- 
lished at Philadelphia in 182 1. 

Nuttall was born in the market town of Settle, West 
Riding, Yorkshire, in 1786.^ His parents being in 
humble circumstances, at an early age he was appren- 
ticed to a printer, probably an uncle who was a member 
of that craft, in Liverpool. After a few years, becoming 
dissatisfied with his employer, he journeyed to London, 
where his pecuniary condition approached so near to des- 
titution that he emigrated to the United States, arriving 
at Philadelphia in 1808, aged twenty-two. 

In spite of the disadvantages which had beset him in 
his early years, a natural love for books and a faculty for 
application had by this time given him some knowledge 
of history, Greek, and Latin, and much of natural science, 
already his favorite study. Soon after his arrival in Phila- 
delphia, he was seeking information relative to a plant 
which interested him, when he met Dr. Benjamin Smith 
Barton; the interview stimulated him to the botanical 
studies on which his fame as a scientist chiefly rests, and 
he soon began to make excursions, especially along the 

* The chief source of information concerning Nuttall's life is a " Biographical 
Notice" prepared upon his death by Elias Durand, for the American Philosoph- 
ical Society, and published in their Proceedings for 1859-60 (volume viii, p. 297). 
Other details are given in his writings, especially the Journal, and in Bradbury 
and Townsend, who were his associates on other expeditions (see volumes v 
and xxi of our series) . 

1 2 Early Western Travels [Vol. 13 

seacoast as far south as North Carolina. In 1810, he 
accompanied John Bradbury (whose Travels comprise 
volume V of our series), on the latter' s scientific expedition 
into the Missouri country, described in volume v of our 

Nuttall returned to Philadelphia early in 181 1, and dur- 
ing the succeeding eight years spent his summers in ex- 
cursions within the area east of the Mississippi, his winters 
being passed in studying the collections thus acquired. 
The fruits of these studies appeared in The Genera of 
North American Plants and a Catalogue oj the Species to 
18 1 y (Philadelphia, 2 vols., 1818), for which he personally 
set most of the type. Just before the appearance of this 
work, Nuttall, who was already a member of the Lin- 
naean Society of London, was elected to membership 
both in the American Philosophical Society and the Acad- 
emy of Natural Sciences, at Philadelphia. To the journal 
published by the Academy he became a frequent contrib- 

Being well acquainted with the cis-Mississippi region, 
and having already visited the Northwest, he now turned 
his thoughts to the Southwest. He had long desired to 
visit the Arkansas country, which still offered a practi- 
cally virgin field for the scientific investigator.^ Accord- 
ingly, assisted by a number of friends who were likewise 
interested in science,^ he prepared for the journey 
which is herein recorded, and set out from Philadelphia 
on the second of October, 1818. Crossing southern Penn- 

^ The expeditions of William Dunbar and Dr. George Hunter, who explored 
the Ouachita as far as Hot Springs in 1804, under a commission from Presi- 
dent Jefferson, and of Lieutenant James B. Wilkinson, who descended the 
Arkansas River under General Z. M. Pike's orders in 1806, were primarily 
geographical and topographical reconnaissances. 

^ This fact, and the names of Nuttall's patrons, appear in the dedication. 

i8i8-i82o] Preface 1 3 

sylvania to Pittsburg, and descending the Ohio and 
Mississippi by boat, he arrived at Arkansas Post on 
January 22, 18 19. Thence ascending the Arkansas 
River, he reached the recently-founded Fort Smith on 
April 24. Here he remained for three weeks, studying 
the flora of the vicinity. On May 16, he set out from the 
post with the commandant. Major Bradford, and a 
company of soldiers; and crossed the wilderness to Red 
River, following the Poteau and Kiamichi. Near the 
mouth of the latter, while loitering to collect some curious 
plants, he became separated from his companions and 
was compelled to spend three weeks with the squatters, 
awaiting the departure of a party for Fort Smith, where 
he finally arrived after an absence of five weeks. 

On July 6, Nuttall again left Fort Smith in the boat of 
a trader whose establishment was situated at the mouth 
of Verdigris River. Reaching this point on the fourteenth, 
nearly a month was spent in making short trips to study 
the plant-life and geology of the neighborhood, and in 
observing the habits of the Osage Indians. 

On August II, accompanied by a hunter for guide, he 
began the final stage of his journey, having as its object- 
ive the river now called Cimarron. At this season the 
streams were stagnant, and the intense heat, foul water, 
poor food, and night dews soon brought on a fever, which 
came near terminating our traveller's career. The 
Indians, moreover, were an almost constant source of 
annoyance and danger. Nuttall rejected the guide's 
suggestion of a return to the Verdigris, and finally it 
became impracticable; so the two pushed on until the 
Cimarron was reached. By this time his fever had some- 
what abated, and an effort was made to ascend that river. 
The loss of one of the two horses, however, compelled the 

14 Rarly Western Travels [Vol. 13 

abandonment of the project, and a canoe was built, in 
which the guide essayed to return by water while his 
chief rode the remaining horse. Setting forth in this 
fashion, still beset by Indians, who pilfered from them on 
every pretext, they soon found that the horse could not 
keep pace with the boat. The two travellers thereupon 
agreed to separate, and Nuttall completed the journey to 
the Verdigris alone, arriving, more dead than alive, on 
September 15. For a week he was unable to proceed 
farther; at Fort Smith another long halt was necessary, 
but on October 16 he began the descent of the Arkansas, 
and reached New Orleans on February 18, 1820, without 
further mishap. 

Two years later, Nuttall was appointed curator of the 
botanical garden of Harvard College. He spent several 
years at Cambridge cultivating rare plants, pursuing his 
studies, and delivering occasional lectures. These years 
were fruitful in contributions to Silliman's Journal, the 
Journal of the Academy of Natural Sciences, the Tran- 
sactions of the American Philosophical Society, and the 
American Journal of the Medical Sciences.* A little 
later appeared his Introduction to Systematic and Physio- 
logical Botany, and at about the same time he produced 
the Manual of the Ornithology 0} the United States and 
Canada (Part I, Land Birds, Cambridge, 1832; Part II, 
Water Birds, Boston, 1834), The life at Cambridge was, 
however, distasteful to him ; he declared that he was, like 
his plants, only vegetating. His instincts and habits 
drew him to the wilderness, that he might unravel its 
secrets. About the beginning of 1833, he had received a 
collection of plants gathered by Captain Nathaniel Jarvis 

* For full titles of the numerous essays, see the sketch of his life, referred to 
in note i, ante. 

i8i8-i82o] Preface 1 5 

Wyeth during a journey overland to Oregon. With in- 
terest in the far Northwest thus quickened, Nuttall joined 
Wyeth when he set out on a second expedition,"' resign- 
ing his position at Harvard when the college authorities 
refused to grant a leave of absence. He was accom- 
panied by John K. Townsend, as representative of the 
Philosophical Society and the Academy of Natural Sci- 
ences. The party rendezvoused at Independence, Mis- 
souri, and began the long march on April 28, 1834. 
Nuttall and Townsend passed the autumn exploring the 
environs of Fort Vancouver; but as winter drew near, 
they embarked on a Boston brig bound for the Sandwich 
Islands, where they arrived January 5, 1835. Two 
months later, leaving Townsend, Nuttall sailed to the 
California coast, where he passed the summer, returning 
thence to the Sandwich Islands and embarking for Boston 
by way of Cape Horn, on board the vessel whose cruise has 
been made famous by Dana's Two Years before the Mast. 
Upon reaching the United States, Nuttall resumed his 
abode in Philadelphia. In 1840, the results of the Pacific 
journey were published in the Transactions of the Philo- 
sophical Society, in the form of two long essays, entitled : 
"Descriptions of new species and genera of plants in the 
natural order Compositae, collected in a tour across the 
continent to the Pacific, a residence in Oregon, and a visit 
to the Sandwich Islands and California, in the years 1834 
and 1835;" ^^^ "Description and notices of new and rare 
plants of the natural orders Lobeliaceae, Campanulaceae, 
Vacciniceae and Ericaceae, collected in a journey across the 
continent of North America, and during a visit to the 
Sandwich Islands and Upper California." 

^ Wyeth's expedition was dispatched for the purpose of establishing trading 
posts for the Columbia Fishing and Trading Company. 

1 6 Early Western Travels [Vol. 13 

Nuttall's last work, The North American Sylva; or a 
Description of the Forest-Trees oj the United States, Canada 
and Nova Scotia, not described in the work of Frangois 
Andre Michaux (Philadelphia, 3 vols., 1842-49), was, as 
the title indicates, undertaken as a supplement to the 
earlier work of Michaux.® It was completed on the 
eve of his departure from the United States, and entrusted 
to a friend for publication. Part one of the first volume 
appeared in 1842, and the second part the following year. 
The remaining volumes were delayed by various causes, 
not being printed until 1846 and 1849, respectively. 

In 1 841, by the bequest of an uncle, Nuttall received 
the estate of Nutgrove, near liverpool, with the accom- 
panying condition that during the remainder of his life 
he reside in England at least nine months of each year. 
Reluctantly leaving the land of his adoption and the field 
of his labors, impelled, it is said,' by regard for the needs 
of his sisters' families, he retired to the ancestral estate, 
which he largely devoted to the cultivation of rare plants. 
He revisited America in 1847-48; by taking three months 
at the end of the first year and three at the beginning of the 
next, he was able to spend six consecutive months outside 
of England without infraction of the terms of his relative's 
will. After seventeen years of the simple farm life which 
both his disposition and circumstances required, his death 
came, September 10, 1859, as the result of overstraining 
in his eagerness at unpacking a case of plants which had 
been sent to him from Asia. 

Nuttall's natural shyness was enhanced by the character 

' Histoire des arbres foresliers de I'Amerique du Nord (Paris (?), 4 vols., 
1810-13); translation by Augustus L. Hillhouse, North American Sylva, or a 
description 0} tlie forest trees oj the United States, Canada and Nova Scotia 
(Paris, 3 vols., 18 19). 

' See the Durand Memorial. 

i8i8-i82o] Preface 17 

of his studies, so largely pursued in the solitude of the 
field or forest. Both in Cambridge and Philadelphia, his 
circle of acquaintance was quite small; even his intimates 
in Philadelphia declaring that they knew not the place of 
his residence — his intercourse with them was largely 
in their homes. Of a contemplative mind, his manner 
was often abstracted, yet with those of like interests he 
was companionable and communicative. His head was 
large and bald, his forehead broad, his features small; 
he was fair of feature, and often pale from application to 
his work; and stout and slightly stooped of frame, but 
above middle height. The story of his explorations proves 
him to have been of an active temperament. A persistent 
worker, his enthusiasm was unlimited. "To me," he 
said, "hardships and privations are cheaply purchased, 
if I may but roam over the wild domain of primeval 
nature . . . My chief converse has been in the wil- 
derness with the spontaneous productions of nature; and 
the study of these subjects and their contemplation have 
been to me a source of constant delight." Several anec- 
dotes are related, which illustrate his ardor. On one of 
his early excursions to the Carolina coast, he was badly 
bitten by mosquitoes; but, absorbed in his investigations, 
was unconscious of the presence of the insects until, upon 
approaching a dwelling, he was thought to be afflicted 
with small-pox, and well-nigh driven away. When round- 
ing Cape Horn, with the vessel beset by wind and icebergs, 
he vainly pleaded with the captain to be set on shore if only 
for a few hours, that he might examine the vegetation of 
that little-known coast.* 

Nuttall will chiefly be remembered as a man of science. 
His work was painstaking, and he made solid contributions 

' Dana, Two Years Before the Mast, quoted by Durand. 

1 8 Early Western Travels [Vol. 13 

to the knowledge of his generation. Nor was he in his 
own lifetime denied his meed of praise, especially for his 
botanical work. Contemporary reviews of his books were 
usually appreciative; a fellow- member^ of the American 
Philosophical Society left this testimony: ''No other 
explorer of the botany of North America has, personally, 
made more discoveries; no writer on American plants, 
except perhaps Professor Asa Gray, has described more 
new genera and species. His name will live as long as 
our Flora remains an object of study." 

The journal of the Arkansas journey, reprinted in the 
present volume, while primarily interesting to the scien- 
tist is not without value for the historian. The author 
was fairly well acquainted with the principal printed 
accounts of Spanish and French exploration in the region, 
as well as with the reports of the previous American visi- 
tors. But Nuttall's historical statements are not invariably 
accurate; the value of the work lies in the record of his 
personal observations, from which we obtain often 
graphic descriptions of the settled portions of the Arkan- 
sas country and the state of civilization prevalent there in 
1 81 9. Neither does our author neglect the Indians, in 
whom he was much interested. His book ranks high as 
a source of information regarding the native tribes of 
that region, especially the Quapaw; although such of his 
information as was obtained second hand needs the cor- 
rective of critical study. 

In the preparation of this volume for the press, the 
Editor has had the assistance of Homer C. Hockett, 
fellow in American history in the University of Wisconsin. 

R. G. T. 

Madison, Wis., February, 1905. 

' Elias Durand, in sketch already cited. 

Nuttall's Journal of Travels into the Arkansa 

October 2, 1818- February 18, 1820 

Reprint of the original edition: Philadelphia, 1821 


I — i. 



s oiigitial inaniist-ripts, by 



Coiistructed frcMU his origiual manuscripts, by 



























BE IT REMEMBERED, That on the sixth day of 

[l. s.] November, in the forty-sixth year of the independence of the 

United States of America, A.D. 182 1, Thomas H. Palmer, of 

the said District, has deposited in this office, the title of a book, the 

right whereof he claims as proprietor, in the words following, to wit : 

"A journal of Travels into the Arkansa Territory, during the year 
1819, with occasional observations on the manners of the Aborigines. 
Illustrated by a map and other engravings. By Thomas Nuttall, 
F.L.S. Honorary member of the American Philosophical Society, 
and of the Academy of Natural Sciences, &c." 

In conformity to the act of the Congress of the United States, 
entitled, "An Act for the encouragement of learning, by securing the 
copies of Maps, Charts, and Books, to the authors and proprietors of 
such copies during the times therein mentioned." — And also to the 
Act, entitled, "An Act supplementary to an act, entitled, "An act for 
the encouragement of learning, by securing the copies of Maps, 
Charts, and Books, to the authors and proprietors of such copies 
during the times therein mentioned," and extending the benefits 
thereof to the arts of designing, engraving, and etching historical and 
other prints." 

Clerk of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. 















Permit me to lay before you, the humble narrative of 
a journey, chiefly undertaken for the investigation of the 
natural history of a region hitherto unexplored. Excuse 
the imperfect performance of the gratifying task which 
your liberality had imposed, but which was rendered 
almost abortive by the visitations of affliction. 

If, in so tiresome a volume of desultory remarks, you 
should meet with some momentary gratification, some 
transient amusement, or ray of information, the author 
will receive the satisfaction of not having laboured entirely 
in vain. 


To those who vaguely peruse the narratives of travellers 
for pastime or transitory amusement, the present volume 
is by no means addressed. It is no part of the author's 
ambition to study the gratification of so fastidious a taste 
as that, which but too generally governs the readers of the 
present day; a taste, which has no criterion but passing 
fashion, which spurns at every thing that possesses not 
the charm of novelty, and the luxury of embellishment. 
We live no longer in an age that tolerates the plain 
' 'unvarnished tale." Our language must now be crowded 
with the spoils of those which are foreign to its native 
idiom; it must be perplexed by variety, and rendered 
ambiguous and redundant by capricious ornament. 
Hermes, no longer the plain messenger of the gods, exer- 
cises all his deceit, and mingles luxury in the purest of 
intellectual streams. 

Had I solely consulted my own gratification, the present 
volume would probably never have been offered to the 
public. But, as it may contain some physical remarks 
connected with the history of the country, and with that 
[vi] of the unfortunate aborigines, who are so rapidly dwin- 
dling into oblivion, and whose fate may, in succeeding gen- 
erations, excite a curiosity and compassion denied them by 
the present,! have considered myself partly excused in offer- 
ing a small edition to the scientific part of the community, 
just sufficient to defray the expenses of the printer, who 
kindly undertook the publication at his own risk. I may 
safely say, that hitherto, so far from writing for emolument, 
I have sacrificed both time and fortune to it. For nearly 

28 Early Western Travels [Vol. 13 

ten years I have travelled throughout America, principally 
with a view of becoming acquainted with some favourite 
branches of its natural history. I have had no other end 
in view than personal gratification, and in this I have not 
been deceived, for innocent amusement can never leave 
room for regret. To converse, as it were, with nature, to 
admire the wisdom and beauty of creation, has ever been, 
and I hope ever will be, to me a favourite pursuit. To 
communicate to others a portion of the same amusement 
and gratification has been the only object of my botanical 
publications; the most remote idea of personal emolument 
arising from them, from every circumstance connected 
with them, could not have been admitted into calculation. 
I had a right, however, reasonably to expect from Ameri- 
cans a degree of candour, at least equal to that which my 
labours had met with in Europe. But I have found, 
what, indeed, I might have [vii] reason to expect from 
human nature, often, instead of gratitude, detraction and 
envy. With such, I stoop not to altercate; my endeavours, 
however imperfect, having been directed to the public 
good ; and I regret not the period I have spent in roaming 
over the delightful fields of Flora, in studying all her mys- 
teries and enigmas, if I have, in any instance, been useful 
to her cause, or opened to the idle wanderer one fruitful 
field for useful reflexion. 

Not wishing to enlarge the present publication, or re- 
tard it by the addition of a voluminous appendix, I reserve 
for a subsequent volume, which will shortly be issued, 
A general view and description of the aboriginal antiquities 
of the western states, and some essays on the languages of 
the western Indians, and their connection with those of 
other parts of the world, involving, in some measure, a 
general view of language, both oral and graphical. 

i8i8-i82o] Preface 29 

The surveys and collections towards a history of the 
aboriginal antiquities, have remained unpublished in my 
possession for several years, and would have been longer 
withheld, in hopes of rendering them more complete, had 
not an unexpected anticipation obliged the author to hasten 
to do justice to himself, and claim, at least, that which 
was due to his personal industry. 

The aboriginal languages of America, hitherto so neg- 
lected and unjustly consigned to oblivion as the useless 
relics of barbarism, are, [viii] nevertheless, perhaps des- 
tined to create a new era in the history of primitive lan- 
guage. In their mazes is infolded a history of morals, of 
remote connections, of vicissitudes and emigrations, which 
had escaped the circumstantial pen of history; and yet, 
however strange it may appear, are more durably im- 
pressed than if engraven upon tablets of brass, and pos- 
sessed of an intrinsic veracity nothing short of inspiration. 

The literary character of the aboriginal languages of 
America, have, of late years, begun to claim the attention 
of the learned both in Europe and America. The reports 
and correspondence of the Historical committee appointed 
by the American Philosophical Society, stand meritoriously 
preeminent in this research ; and it must be highly gratify- 
ing to the public to know, that the same members continue 
still to labour in the field with unabated vigour. These 
various efforts united, I may venture to predict, will be 
crowned with successful discoveries which could not have 
been anticipated, and which will ultimately contribute 
towards the development of that portion of human history, 
which, above all others, appeared to be so impenetrably 
buried in oblivion. 

Philadelphia^ November, 1821. 


CHAP. I. — Departure from Philadelphia. Geological remarks. 
Route through Harrisburgh and Carlisle to Caramel's town. Loudon, 
and the adjacent mountain scenery. The North Mountain. Cove 
Mountain. Passage of the Juniata, and surrounding scenery. Bed- 
ford. Organic remains. The Alleghany Ridge. Stoy's-town. First 
indications of bituminous coal. Laurel Mountain. Greensburgh. 
Arrival at Pittsburgh; manufactures; scenery, and peculiar character 
of its coal-mines. 

CHAP. II. — Departure from Pittsburgh. Autumnal scenery. 
Georgetown. The unfortunate emigrant. Steubenville. Pictur- 
esque scenery. WheeUng. Little Grave creek, and the Great 
Mound. Other aboriginal remains. Marietta. Belpre settlement. 
Other ancient remains. Coal. GalliopoUs. Ancient level of the 
alluvial forest. Misletoe. Aboriginal remains. Big Sandy creek, 
and commencement of Cane-land. Corn-husking. Salt creek. 
Maysville. Organic remains. Cincinnati. Lawrenceburgh. The 
French emigrant. Vevay. Madison. Louisville. Prevalence of 
particular winds on the Ohio. Falls of the Ohio. 

CHAP. III. — Departure from Shippingsport. Velocity of the 
current. Troy. Owensville. Indigence of the hunting emigrants. 
Mounds. Evansville. The Diamond island. Shawneetown. 
Grandeur of the river, and the uncultivated state of the surrounding 
country. Fort Massac. Arrival at the mouth of the Ohio. De- 
layed by the ice of the Mississippi, [x] A visit from the Delaware 
and Shawnee Indians. Obser\'ations on their mutual jealousy and 

CHAP. IV. — Embark amidst the ice of the Mississippi. Run 
aground on Wolf's island in attempting to land. Relieved from this 
situation, but find ourselves again involved in it, and are imposed 
upon by the extortion of a neighbouring voyager. Pass the Iron 
banks. Cypress. Solitude of the country. New Madrid. Oscil- 
lations of the earth still frequent. Point Pleasant. Vestiges of the 
great earthquake. The Little Prairie settlement almost destroyed by 
it. The Canadian reach. A dangerous and difficult pass of the 
river. The first Chickasaw BluflFs. Additional danger and uncer- 

32 Early Western Travels [Vol. 13 

tainty of the navigation. Stratification of the Bluff. A dangerous 
accident. The second Chickasaw Bluffs. Observations on their 

CHAP. V. — Pass the third Chickasaw Bluff. Dangers of the 
navigation, and solitude of the country. The fourth Bluff of the 
Chickasaws. Lignite prevalent. Chickasaw Indians. St. Francis 
river. Depopulation of the neighbouring country. Trees of the 
alluvial forest. Destruction of the Big Prairie settlement. Scrub 
grass. Difficulties of the navigation. Changes of the soil, produced 
by the agency of the river. A visit from three of the Arkansa Indians. 
A dense fog over the river; the cause of it. Arrival near the mouth 
of the Arkansa and White river. 

CHAP. VI. — Proceed up White river for the Arkansa. Suspi- 
cious conduct of one of the boatmen. Pass through the connecting 
bayou, and proceed up the Arkansa; its navigation; soil and sur- 
rounding scenery. A small French settlement. Extraordinary mild- 
ness of the season. Mounds. Changes in the alluvial lands pro- 
duced by the agency of the river. Land speculators. Vegetation of 
the alluvial lands. The town or post of Arkansas. Enormous land 
[xi] claims. Difficulty of navigating against the current. The Great 
Prairie. First settlement on the Arkansa; its present state. Agri- 
cultural advantages arising from the mildness of the climate. Storax. 
Aboriginal remains. The Quapaws or Arkansas. Their traditions 
and character. 

CHAP. VII. — Departure from Arkansas. Indian villages. 
Mooney's settlement. Curran's settlement. Interview with the 
Quapaw chief. The Pine Bluffs. Soil, climate, and productions. 
The Little Rock. Roads. Mountains. Vegetation. The Mamelle. 
Cadron settlement. Tumuli. Soil and climate. Pecannerie settle- 
ment. Mountains. Cherokees. The Magazine mountain. Dar- 
danelle settlement. Manners and customs of the Cherokees. The 
war with the Osages. 

CHAP. VIII. — Pass several inconsiderable rivulets, and obtain 
sight of the Tomahawk mountain and the Gascon hills. Mulberry 
creek; that of Vache Grasse. Lee's creek. Prairies. Sugarloaf 
mountain. Arrive at the garrison of Belle Point. A change in the 
vegetation. The Madura or Bow-wood. The garrison. Cedar 
prairie. Rare plants. 

i8i8-i82o] Nuttair s journal 33 

CHAP. IX. — Journey to Red river. Prairies and mountains of 
the Pottoe. Pass the dividing ridge. Kiamesha river. Arrival on 
the banks of Red river. The murder of a Cherokee ; attempts to ob- 
tain redress. Wild horses. Character, geological structure, and 
rare vegetable productions of the prairies. Return to the garrison 
at Belle Point. 

CHAP. X. — Continue my voyage up the Arkansa. Geological 
remarks. Pass several lesser rivulets, and the outlet of the Canadian 
and the Illinois. Salt springs. Obstructions in the navigation. 
Indications of coal. Pass Grand river, and enter the Verdigris. 

CHAP. XI. — Character of the surrounding country of the Verdi- 
gris river. Remarks on the Osage Indians. 

[xii] CHAP. XII. — An excursion up Grand River to visit the 
Osage salt works. Geological observations. Return across the 
prairie; its general appearance and phenomena. 

CHAP. XIII. — Interviews with the Osages. Occasional obser- 
vations on their manners, habits, &c. Sickness in the encampment. 

CHAP. XIV. — Journey by land to the Great Salt river of the 
Arkansa. Proceed across the prairies to the Little North Fork of 
the Canadian. Detained by sickness. Continue up the Little North 
Fork, arrive at Salt river, and afterwards at the Arkansa. Molested 
and pursued by the Osages. Arrive again at the Verdigris, and pro- 
ceed to the garrison. Conclusion of the treaty between the Osages 
and Cherokees. 

CHAP. XV. — Proceed from the garrison to the Pecannerie settle- 
ment. Hot springs of the Washita. Phenomena of the seasons. 

CHAP. XVI. — Cadron settlement. Arrive at Arkansas. Con- 
tinue to the Mississippi. The wandering fanatics. Pirates. 
Natchez; stratification of its site, and remarks on its agricultural 
productions. The Choctaws. Fort Adams. Point Coupe. Baton 
Rouge. Opulent Planters. New-Orleans. 


SECT. I. — An account of the ancient aboriginal population of 
the banks of the Mississippi, and the contiguous country. 

SECT. II.— The history of the Natchez. 

SECT. III. — Observations on the Chicasaws and Choctaws. 

SECT. IV. — Thermometrical observations in the Arkansa Terri- 
tory, during the year 18 19. 



Departure from Philadelphia — Geological remarks — 
Route through Harrisburgh and Carlisle to Cammel's- 
town — Loudon, and the adjacent mountain scenery — 
The North Mountain — Cove Mountain — Passage of 
the Juniata, and surrounding scenery — Bedford — 
Organic remains — The Alleghany Ridge — Stoy's-town 
— First indications of bituminous coal — Laurel Moun- 
tain — Greensburgh — Arrival at Pittsburgh; manu- 
factures; scenery, and peculiar character of its coal- 

On the morning of the second of October, 1818, I took 
my departure from Philadelphia in the mail stage, which 
arrived safely in Lancaster, sixty-three miles distant, a 
little after sun-set. Though always pleasingly amused by 
the incidents of travelling, and the delightful aspect of rude 
or rural nature, I could not at this time divert from my 
mind the most serious reflections on the magnitude and 
danger of the journey which now lay before me, and which 
was, indeed, of very uncertain issue. 

[10] Scarcely any part of the United States presents a 
more beautiful succession of hill and dale, than that which 
succeeds between Philadelphia and Lancaster; the valley, 
however, of Chester county, including Downingston, ex- 
ceeds every other, except the site of Lancaster, in fertility 
and rural picture. It is about twenty-five miles in length 
by one in Kreadth, and pursues from hence a north-east 
direction. The rock throughout this valley is calcareous, 
and the soil is consequently of a superior quality. This 

36 Early Western Travels [Vol. 13 

lime-stone, which has been assiduously examined by the 
mineralogists and naturalists of Philadelphia, though not 
very dissimilar to that of the western states, except in the 
high inclination of the strata and the predominance of 
spar, has never yet been found to contain any kind of 
organic remains, and scarcely any metals more than traces 
of iron, manganese, titanium, and lead. 

3d.] From Lancaster, I continued my route on foot, as 
affording greater leisure, and better opportunity for making 
observation. The rain, however, to-day prevented me 
from proceeding more than seventeen miles on the road to 
Harrisburgh.^ About twelve miles east of Middleton, I 
had again occasion to observe certain ledges of the pre- 
vailing calcareous rock, dipping at an angle scarcely under 
that of 45°, traversed by sparry veins, occasionally inter- 
mingled with epidote, in which are also imbedded bright, 
brown-red rhombic masses of felspar and amorphous 
quartz, a circumstance which had formerly fallen under 
my notice in a pedestrian tour on this road ; I was now, 
however, enabled to trace this appearance into a connec- 
tion with the transition formation which almost immedi- 
ately succeeds, presenting masses of agglomerated rock, 
chiefly calcareous, of which the fragments are both angular 
and arrounded. Beyond this, on the first succeeding hill, 
occur layers of the old or transition sand-stone, not al- 
ways red, though some of that colour appeared in the 
vicinity, interlayed with [11] brown-red slate-clay. After- 
wards, and in connection with this formation, appears the 
green-stone of the Germans, and the bottoms of the valleys 
only are calcareous. Twelve miles west of Lancaster, 
we enter the fine fertile tract, once known to the natives of 

* For the early history of the site of Hamsburgh, see Post's Journals, volume i 
of our series, note 73. — Ed. 

i8i8-i82o] Nuttair s Journal 37 

the Susquehannah by the name of Pe-quay, or the Pleasant 

4th.] To Middleton, gninstein and argillaceous trap, 
with sand-stone conglomerate, and Spanish-brown slate- 
clay alternate and succeed each other, affording an indif- 
ferent soil, and forming lofty hills, with precipitous 
declivities and narrow valleys. The sylvan hills of the 
Susquehanna are, however, calcareous and underlayed 
with common bluish grey and chlorite slate, which as at 
Lancaster abounds with scattered or imbedded cubic 
pyrites.^ The long bridge of a mile and a quarter, con- 
necting with a small island, crosses a wide and shallow 
part of the river, whose bed is of slate (or argillite). 

5th.] About half past seven, I left Harrisburgh, and in 
the course of the day proceeded through Carlisle to within 
five miles of Shippensburg,^ a distance of about 31 miles, 
over a deeply undulated country, evincing, by the ease 
and comfort of its scattered population, no inconsiderable 
degree of fertility in the soil, which is calcareous. The first 
considerable chain of hills, proceeding from north-east to 
south-west, clad with unbroken forests, appeared on our 
left during most part of the day, and indicated an approach 
to the mountains. 

6th.] This evening I arrived at Cammels'-town,^ sit- 
uated at the foot of the North Mountain. The inter- 

' In colonial days, the Pequea Indians lived on the creek of that name, in 
Lancaster County. A township of this county still bears the name. — Ed. 

' The chlorite slate of the Wissahickon, near Germantown, considered as 
primitive, contains similar p)nites with octahedral crystals of iron ore. — 


* For the early history of Carhsle and Shippensburg, see Post's Journals, 
volume i of our series, notes 75, 76. — Ed. 

' Cammels'-town (Campbellstown ?) ; no such town remains. The early 
settlers in the region were Scotch-Irish, and the name Campbell appears among 
them as early as 1766. — Ed. 

38 Early Western Travels [Vol. 13 

mediate and surrounding country is deeply undulated 
with hills of a softish sandstone and slate clay. The more 
conspicuous hills of shale, accompanied [12] by organic 
remains, commence at Chambersburg,® and, as in Virginia, 
are characterised by the appearance of Pine {Finns inops)^ 
and scrub oak {Quercus ilicijolia)', here also occurs the 
fragrant sumach (Rhus aromaticum). 

The road, on which several bands of labourers were 
employed, was now nearly completed to Pittsburgh, 
affording that convenience and facility to the inland com- 
merce of the state which had been so long neglected. 
The states of New- York and Virginia, equally interested 
in the advancement of their internal trade, now begin to 
show themselves as the serious rivals of Pennsylvania, 
which, till lately, with the exception of New-Orleans, en- 
joyed the most considerable portion of the commerce of 
the west. 

7th.] To-day I proceeded about 21 miles, over a very 
poor and mountainous country. From the little village, 
or cluster of cabins, called Loudon,'' we commence the 
ascent over the North Mountain, by an easy and well- 
levelled turnpike. From its summit appeared a wide 
and sterile forest extending across the glen, and, only at 
small and distant intervals, obscurely broken by scattered 
farms. The soil is here argillaceous, a slate-clay passing 
into argillaceous trap and siliceous sandstone, occasionally 
changing into an almost homogeneous quartz, predomi- 
nates. At Loudon, there is a small iron-furnace, and ore 
in inconsiderable quantities found in the neighbourhood. 
Passing this range, sometimes called the Cove or North 

' For the early history of the site of Chambersburg, see Post's Journals, 
volume i of our series, note 77. — Ed. 

' For history of fort of same name near Loudon, see ibid., note 78. — Ed. 

i8i8-i82o] Nuttair s 'Journal 39 

Mountain, we descend to M'Connels'-town/ which now 
presents itself in bird's-eye view before us, here the soil 
is calcareous, but still, to all appearance, destitute of or- 
ganic remains. Deep and narrow valleys, steep hills 
every where presenting shale devoid of impressions, 
though often so far bituminous as to blaze, abound, but 
no coal is to be met with nearer than the valley of the 
Juniata, where organic impressions also commence. 
Within the great valley of the [13] North Mountain, are 
several other lower and interrupted ranges. The chain 
also called the North Mountain, proceeding much to the 
east in its southern course, presents in that direction acu- 
minated peaks, and appears interrupted as towards 
Staunton in Virginia. From this summit we are distinctly 
enabled to mark the direction of the South Mountain, so 
low where we crossed it as to afford an almost impercep- 
tible ascent. 

What still remained of the old road," appeared here as 
bad as can well be imagined ; a mere Indian trace, without 
any choice of level, over rocky ledges and gullies, threaten- 
ing at every instant the destruction of the carriages which 
ventured over it. 

8th.] After travelling about 28 miles, I arrived, in the 
evening, at the very pleasant and romantically situated 
town of Bedford,*" hemmed in by a cove of mountains to 
the south and west, near whose declivity issue the chaly- 
beate springs, occasionally the resort of the sick and con- 
valescent. Very little of the road over which I came 
to-day was yet turnpike, and as bad as may naturally be 

' M'Connels'-town (now McConnellsburg) is the site of Fort Lyttleton. 
See ibid., note 80. — Ed. 

• Ihid., note 82; also Harris's Journal, in our volume iii, note 3. — Ed. 

*" For the early history of the site of Bedford, see Post's Journals, volume i 
of our series, note 81. — Ed. 

40 Early Western Travels [Vol. 13 

supposed over a succession of mountain ridges, which, 
though scattered, and interrupted by the passage of waters, 
scarcely fall short of the North Mountain in point of ele- 
vation. These ridges, of which in the above distance 
there are three or four, are all often confounded in the 
name of Cove Mountain. 

I crossed the Juniata by a wooden toll-bridge, which, 
like all other private accommodations in the United States, 
does not exempt the pedestrian traveller. The valley of 
the river is narrow and romantic, embosomed by cliffs, 
rudely decorated with clumps of sombre evergreens, par- 
ticularly the tall Weymouth pine and spruce, with the 
splendid Rhododendron and the Magnolia acuminata. 
As we approach towards Bedford the valleys widen, are 
more fertile, and present calcareous strata still inclined 
at a lofty angle, and generally destitute of organic remains. 
Every elevation, [14] and most of them short and steep, 
presents a predominance of argillaceous earth, either red 
or greenish and slatey, as it may happen to contain an 
admixture of iron or chlorite; there are, however, no iron 
furnaces nor ore in this quarter nearer than the vicinity 
of Huntingdon. Seams of coal have been discovered on 
the banks of the Juniata, but unworthy of notice or diffi- 
cult to drain. Fifteen miles from Bedford, coal begins 
to appear. Indeed, about a mile from the town I observed 
in the siliceous sandstone made use of for repairing the 
road, and which was obtained in the vicinity, casts of 
orthoceratites? or something resembling them, collected 
into fascicles or clusters, and aggregated over the surface 
of the rocks in which they are found ; the transverse septa 
or channels are all proximate, and their circumference 
is about two inches. Excepting a second impression, 
something similar, but much smaller (and which rather 

1818-1820] Nuttair s yourfial 41 

resembles some alcyonite), no other reliquiae appeared in 
this stone, which is also the first occurrence of the kind on 
my journey to the westward. 

The mountain scenery, at first so grand and impressive, 
becomes at length monotonous; most of the cimes, terraces, 
and piles of rocks lose their effect beneath the umbrageous 
forest which envelopes them, and which indeed casts a 
gloomy mantling over the whole face of nature. 

To judge of the inland commerce carried on betwixt 
Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, a stranger has but to view 
this road at the present season. All day I have been 
brushing past waggons heavily loaded with merchandise, 
each drawn by five and six horses ; the whole road in fact 
appears like the cavalcade of a continued fair. 

gth.] To-day I proceeded about 20 miles from Bedford 
on the way to Pittsburgh, and in the evening lodged at a 
tavern situated on the top of the Alleghany ridge. About 
nine miles from Bedford I first observed [15] the occur- 
rence of fossil shells, consisting of terebratulites, and 
amongst them the Anomia trigonalis of Martyn, with 
some other species. They occur in the sandstone em- 
ployed for mending the road, with which also alternates 
much liver-brown argillaceous shale. From hence the 
dip of the strata gradually diminishes, and the hills are no 
longer so short and steep; slate-clay with appearances of 
coal are also visible, but as yet there are no zoophytic, or, 
as some consider them, phytolithic or vegetable impressions. 
The ascent to the summit of the Alleghany from the east 
is much more gentle than that of the North Mountain, or 
the other mountains scattered through this valley. The 
Alleghany, here from 10 to 20 miles broad, is apparently 
the boundary of the transition, and the long slopes and 
salient coves of its western declivity are within the range 

42 Early Western Travels [Vol. 13 

of the secondary formation. Much of the Quercus Primos 
monticola (or mountain chesnut oak) presents itself on 
the mountain, together with the Magnolia acuminata and 
Sorbus americana or service-berry. 

loth.] To-day I walked nine miles to Stoystown," if a 
handful of houses like this deserves such an appellation. 
The declivity of the surface is much more gentle and in- 
considerable than that which I had passed. Indications 
of coal were also apparent along the margin of the road. 
The valleys are now broader, and the soil of a better 
quality. The inhabitants, however, chiefly Irish, are in- 
digent, and considerably deficient in prudence and clean- 
liness. I spent most part of the day in collecting seeds 
of the Magnolia acuminata. 

nth.] To-day I proceeded 18 miles to the little hamlet 
of Liganier" lately begun, and passed through Loughlins- 
town, equally inconsiderable, except for dram shops, 
improperly called taverns, with which this road abounds. 
The turnpike is completed nearly throughout this dis- 
tance, and also to Greensburgh. Towards evening I 
crossed the Laurel Mountain, and found abundantly on 
[16] its western declivity the Circcea alpina. In the valley 
on the eastern ascent I likewise saw the Betula glauca, and 
a profusion of the common Rhododendron, which gives the 
name of Laurel to this mountain. Indications of coal, 
and a continued declension in the dip of the strata are still 
obvious. The sandstone, which is almost the only rock 
I have seen throughout the course of the day, is remark- 
able for the absence of organic reliquiae. In some places 

'' For a sketch of Stoystown, see Flint's Letters, volume ix of our series, 
note 33. — Ed. 

" For early history of Ligonier, see Post's Journals, volume i of our series, 
■ote 83; also F. A. Michaux's Travels, in our volume iii, note 14. — Ed. 

1818-1820] Nuttair s 'Journal 43 

it appears like grauwacke blended with angular fragments 
of a soft slate. Near the western base of the Laurel ridge 
the usual zoophytes make their appearance, chiefly 
Culmaria striata^^ {Striaticulmis of Martyn), also casts of 
enormous channelled Culmarm like those of Bradford, in 
Yorkshire (England). Vegetation at this advanced sea- 
son still appeared very luxuriant on the western descent 
of the Laurel, and the valleys bore the appearance of 

12th.] This evening I arrived at Greensburgh,^* 18 
miles west of Liganier. The last considerable mountain 
range to the west on this route is Chesnut Ridge, [17] 
which I crossed to-day. Here I met with the Imperatoria 
Iticida of Sprengel, also abundance of the Cimicijuga ameri- 

'^ Although we are as yet unacquainted with the internal and essential phys- 
ical structure of these organic remains, which have been hitherto considered as 
plants, I have thought it necessary to assume the above generic name as prefer- 
able to the improbable, and at any rate merely ordinal name of Phytoli- 
thus. The Culmaria, as I have termed them, are striated or grooved and 
somewhat compressed, cylindric, articulated bodies, gradually attenuating from 
joint to joint, mostly undivided, or simple, but occasionally bifid, and at length 
terminating in a point. On one of the sides they commonly possess a deep and 
central channel, and in some species at the joints present alternate small pro- 
tuberances and cavities. Their soboliferous propagation appeared to originate 
from these joints, in the form of wart-like or areolate protuberances, and, 
unlike plants, they never seem to have produced any thing similar to leaves, 
flowers, or seeds. 

The tessellated zoophytes, by others also considered as vegetable remains' 
which I have termed Strobilari^ are subcylindric and often somewhat conic, 
but inarticulated; some of the species protruded, as occasion required, from the 
centre of those tessellae, bodies resembling hollow spines, or (as would appear 
from a specimen in my possession from Bradford, in Yorkshire) suckers or 
hollow cylinders, with circular contractile and striated mouths. The whole of 
these processes, when exserted mistaken for leaves, could also be withdrawn 
within the body of the animal, and indeed most of the casts present this quies- 
cent or contracted state. These bodies likewise exhibit in some specimens a 
complicated internal structure. — Nuttall. 

** See sketch of Greensburgh in F. A. Michaux's Travels, volume iii of our 
series, note i6. — Ed. 

44 Early Western Travels [Vol. 13 

cana and Asplenium angusti folium . The dip of the strata 
becomes now more and more inconsiderable, but organic 
remains, except those peculiar to the coal formation, are 
scarcely to be met with, and there is a predominance of 
slaty and argillaceous sandstone. 

13th.] The turnpike was now completed through the 
last 40 miles up to Pittsburgh, and scarcely any under- 
taking promises more advantage to the state in general. 
It will tend to check the competition of the inland naviga- 
tion of the state of New York, as well as that of the state 
of Virginia, through which the United States have estab- 
lished a national road^^ as far as the town of Wheeling on 
the Ohio. 

14th.] West of Greensburg, and indeed east of it, from 
the base of the Chesnut Ridge, the surface of the country 
is deeply undulated, and laborious to travel. The land 
upon the height is sterile and thinly populated ; still every 
five or six miles we meet with some poor-looking hamlet, 
which commonly, out of 12 to 20 log cabins composing it, 
contains six or seven licensed dram shops, besides three 
or four stores for the retailing of merchandise. How 
much is a scattered and independent population like that 
of the honest and industrious Germans inhabiting the 
eastern parts of Pennsylvania to be preferred to these 
towns whose inhabitants are brought together by no pros- 
pect of general industry or economy. To say that coal 
is common throughout this country, and that it is generally 
employed for fuel, is repeating a fact familiar to every one 
who has ever visited the western country. 

15th.] To-day I arrived again in Pittsburgh, and en- 
deavour as I may to drive away my former prejudices 
against this very important commercial and manufactur- 

'* On national road, see Harris's Journal, in our volume iii, note 45. — Ed. 

i8i8-i82o] Nuttair s 'Journal 45 

ing city, I find it impossible. Nothing appears to [18] 
me to predominate but filth and smoke and bustle. The 
rivers and surrounding country are engaging and romantic 
— its situation — the Thermopylae of the west, into which 
so many thousands are flocking from every christian coun- 
try in the world — its rapid progress, and the enterprising 
character of its inhabitants, are circumstances which ex- 
cite our admiration. In national industry, the true source 
of wealth and independence, Pittsburgh is now scarcely 
inferior to any of the older and larger towns in the Union. 
The shores of the Monongahela were lined with nearly 
100 boats of all descriptions, steam-boats, barges, keels, 
and arks or flats, all impatiently and anxiously waiting 
the rise of the Ohio, which was now too low to descend 
above the town of Wheeling. A bridge was at this time 
nearly completed across this stream, and one of the piers 
of another across the Alleghany was also laid. 

The day after my arrival I went through the flint-glass 
works of Mr. Bakewell, and was surprised to see the 
beauty of this manufacture, in the interior of the United 
States, in which the expensive decorations of cutting and 
engraving (amidst every discouragement incident to a 
want of taste and wealth) were carried to €uch perfection. 
The productions of this manufacture find their way to 
New Orleans, and even to some of the islands of the West 

The president Monroe, as a liberal encourager of 
domestic manufactures, had on his visit to those 
works given orders for a service of glass, which might 
indeed be exhibited as a superb specimen of this elegant 

Mr. Bakewell was now beginning to employ the beau- 
tiful white and friable sandstone which had been observed 

46 Early Western Travels [Vol. 13 

near to a branch of the Merrimec by Mr. Bradbury^' and 
myself, as well as others, in the winter of 1809. It prom- 
ises every important requisite for the production of the 
purest flint-glass, and exists in inexhaustible quantities. 

[19] i6-i9th.] Still at Pittsburgh, waiting for an op- 
portunity to descend the river, which was now almost 
impracticable in consequence of the lowness of the water. 

19th.] This morning I took a walk to Grant's Hill,*^ 
from whence there is a delightful view of Pittsburgh, and 
on the hill itself some very pleasing rural retirements of 
the wealthy citizens. 

My attention, as usual, was directed to the surrounding 
minerals and stratification, which are no unimportant 
matters in the economy of this settlement. The coal 
basin, or rather bed, which has been so long wrought on 
this hill, about six feet thick, is almost exactly horizontal, 
and consequently worked by a simple parallel drift with- 
out making any inconvenient quantity of water. The coal 
bassets out towards the edge of the hill, and so near the 
summit as to present scarcely any other overlay than a 
thin shale, more or less friable, and no sandstone. The 
dip, such as it is, is to the north of east, but scarcely mani- 
fest. It is bituminous or inflammable, and of a very good 
quality. Beneath this single bed of coal, occurs a fine 
grained, micaceous sandstone, rendered greenish from an 
admixture of chlorite earth; still lower in the series ap- 
pears a compact calcareous rock, in which I did not per- 
ceive any reliquiae. At thejouthern extremity of the hill, 
where it approaches the Monongahela, the laminated 

" Bradbury was Nuttall's companion on the expedition to the upper Mis- 
souri in 1810; see Preface. For observations on the Merrimec (Maramec), in 
that year, see Bradbury's Travels, in our volume v, note 136. — Ed. 

" For origin of the name Grant's Hill, and history of the site, see Harris's 
Journal, volume iii of our series, note 30. — Ed. 

i8i8-i82o] Nuttair s journal 47 

micaceous sandstone, however, exhibits great clusters of 
culmarice (striaticulmis of Martyn), almost ancipitally 
compressed, and with the striatures very fine. Here the 
calcareous rock beneath the micaceous sandstone exhibits 
masses of terebratulites, some of which are very minute, 
but in great quantities. Near to the precipitous termina- 
tion of Grant's Hill, and in several other contiguous places, 
the sandstone appears to have been disintegrated with 
violence, and the angular fragments again to have been 
cemented by a stalactitial deposition of calcareous spar, 
of a fibrous [20] texture, almost similar to Arragonite. 
Seams of fibrous gypsum, possessing a silky lustre, have 
also been discovered in this vicinity. 

In the course of this ramble I found abundance of the 
Monarda hirsuta, which as well as M. ciliata, do not much 
resemble the legitimate species of the genus. 


Departure from Pittsburgh — Autumnal Scenery — 
Georgetown — The unfortunate emigrant — Steuben- 
ville — Picturesque Scenery — Wheeling, — Little Grave 
creek, and the Great Mound — Other Aboriginal re- 
mains — Marietta — Belpre settlement — Other ancient 
remains — Coal — Galliopolis — Ancient level of the 
alluvial forest — Misletoe — Aboriginal remains — Big 
Sandy creek and commencement of Cane-land — Corn- 
husking — Salt creek — Maysville — Organic remains 
— Cincinnati — Lawrenceburgh — The French emi- 
grant — Vevay — Madison — Louisville — Prevalence 
of particular winds on the Ohio — Falls of the Ohio. 

2 1 ST.] To-day I left Pittsburgh in a skifif, which I pur- 
chased for six dollars, in order to proceed down the Ohio. 
I was fortunate enough to meet with a young man who 
had been accustomed to the management of a boat, and 

48 Early Western Travels [Vol. 13 

who, for the consideration of a passage and provision, 
undertook to be my pilot and assistant. We set out after 
II o'clock, and made 19 miles. Here we were overtaken 
by a thunder-storm, accompanied by very heavy rain, 
which continued during most part of the ensuing night. 
We had no choice, and therefore took up our abode for the 
night in the first cabin which we came to, built of logs, 
[21] containing a large family of both sexes, all housed in 
one room, and that not proof against the pouring rain. 
Provided, however, with provision and beds of our own 
we succeeded in rendering ourselves comfortable, and were 
pleased with the hospitable disposition of our landlord, 
who would scarcely permit any of his family to receive 
from us the moderate compensation which we ofifered. 

22d.] At day-break we again betook ourselves to the 
voyage ; but after proceeding about nine miles, the strong 
south-west wind forced us to a delay of several hours. 

In this distance from Pittsburgh the Ohio meanders 
through a contracted alluvial flat, thickly settled, and 
backed with hills, which are often peaked and lofty, 
fringed, at this season, by a forest of the diversified, but 
dying hues of autumn. The water was extremely low, 
and we passed through several rapids, in which bare 
rocks presented themselves in such quantity, as to deny 
the passage of any thing but boats drawing 9 or 10 inches 
of water. 

After proceeding about two miles below Beavertown^^ 
we landed in the dark, and went to the tavern to which 
accident had directed us, but finding it crowded with 
people met together for merriment, we retired to a neigh- 
bouring hovel, in order to obtain rest and shelter from 

** For the early history of the site of Beavertown, see Cvuning's Tour, in our 
volume iv, note 56. — Ed. 

1818-1820] Nuttair s 'Journal 49 

the weather, which was disagreeably cold. Our pros- 
pect of repose was soon, however, banished, as our cabin, 
being larger than the tavern, was selected for a dancing 
room, and here we were obliged to sit waking spectators 
of this riot till after one o'clock in the morning. The 
whiskey bottle was brought out to keep up the excitement, 
and, without the inconvenience and delay of using glasses, 
was passed pretty briskly from mouth to mouth, exempt- 
ing neither age nor sex. Some of the young ladies also 
indulged in smoking as well as drinking of drams. Symp- 
toms of riot and drunkenness at length stopped [22] the 
dancing, and we now anticipated the prospect of a little 
rest, but in this we were disappointed by the remaining of 
one of the company vanquished by liquor, who, after com- 
mitting the most degrading nuisance, at intervals disturbed 
us with horrid gestures and imprecations for the remainder 
of the morning. On relating in the neighbourhood our 
adventure at this house, we were informed that this tavern 
was notorious for the assemblage of licentious persons. 

23d.] After an hour or two of interrupted repose we 
again embarked, and found that there had been a slight 
fall of snow. The wind was still adverse, and so strong 
as perfectly to counteract the current; with some labour 
we got down to Georgetown," and warmed ourselves by 
a comfortable fire of coal. The tavern was very poorly 
accommodated, a mere cabin without furniture, of which 
its owner was from habit scarcely sensible. About two 
o'clock in the afternoon we again landed at a poor log- 
cabin to warm ourselves, and were very kindly welcomed 
by the matron of the house, who, without the benefit of 
education, seemed possessed of uncommon talents. I 

" Georgetown is the last town on the Pennsylvania side, a mile above the 
Ohio boundary, on the left bank of the river. Ihid.., note 59. — Ed. 

50 Early Western Travels [Vol. 13 

had read, in the first settlement of Kentucky, of remark- 
able mstances of female intrepidity, brought forward by 
the exigencies of a residence on a dangerous frontier, and 
our hostess appeared to be equally an Amazon, modest, 
cool, and intrepid. I listened to her adventures with 
much interest. She and her husband, with a small family, 
had some years ago followed the tide of western emigra- 
tion to the banks of the little Miami, near Cincinnati. 
Here, after a tedious and expensive journey, they had 
settled on a piece of alluvial land, and might probably 
have prospered, but for the dreadful effects of continued 
sickness (ague and bilious fever), which urged them to 
sacrifice every other interest for that of their emaciated 
offspring, and to ascend the Ohio in search of a situation 
which might afford them health. She pointed to some 
remains of decent furniture [23] which the cabin scarcely 
sheltered, saying, with an affectionate look at her poor chil- 
dren, ' 'we once had a decent property, but now we have 
nothing left; emigration has ruined us!" With six chil- 
dren around her, and accompanied by another family, as- 
cending the Ohio in a flat-boat, they were struck by a 
hurricane. She herself and one of her children had taken 
their regular turn at the oar, the master of the boat, who 
had also his family around him, became so far alarmed 
and confused as to quit his post in the midst of the danger 
which threatened instantly to overwhelm them, tremen- 
dous waves broke into the boat, which the affrighted steers- 
man knew not how to avoid. This woman seized the 
helm which was abandoned, and by her skill and courage 
saved the boat and the families from imminent destruc- 

24th.] The wind still south-west, but abating a little. 
We proceeded at 11, and about 18 miles from Steuben- 

i8i8-i82o] Nuttair s "Journal 5 1 

ville, landed and took up our lodging on an island, with 
no other shelter than the canopy of heaven; but we slept 
comfortably, with our feet to a warm fire, according to 
Indian custom. 

25th.] This evening we arrived at Steubenville,^" 
which appears to be a place of industry and manufacture. 
Two miles below the town we lodged in the cabin of a 
poor tenant farmer. 

The banks of the river are exceedingly romantic, pre- 
senting lofty hills and perpendicular cliffs of not less than 
300 feet elevation, every where covered or fringed with 
belts of trees in their autumnal foliage, of every bright 
and varying hue, more beautiful even than the richest 
verdure of summer. The uplands being calcareous are 
found to be exceedingly fertile, and we consequently per- 
ceive houses and fences on the summits of the loftiest 
hills which embosom the river. From 50 to 70 dollars 
per acre was demanded for these lands, which are better 
for wheat than the [24] alluvial soils. Flour was here 
four dollars per barrel, and beef six cents per pound. 

26th.] This evening we arrived at Wheeling,^^ consist- 
ing of a tolerably compact street of brick houses, with the 
usual accompaniment of stores, taverns, and mechanics. 
It is also the principal depot for the supply and commerce 
of the interior of this part of Virginia. A number of boats 
had been fitted out here this season, which could not navi- 
gate from Pittsburgh in consequence of the lowness of the 
water. At this place the great national road into the inte- 
rior, from the city of Washington, comes in conjunction 
with that of Zanesville, Chillicothe, Columbus, and Cin- 

^" For sketch of Steubenville, see ibid., note 67. — Ed. 

'* For sketch of Wheeling, see Andre Michaux's Travels, in our volume iii, 
note 15. — Ed. 

52 Early Western Travels [Vol. 13 

cinnati. At the northern extremity of the town there is a 
very productive bed of coal, and equally horizontal with 
that of Pittsburgh ; its thickness is about six feet, and as it 
occurs beneath the limestone it must of course be consid- 
ered as a second bed. Every where along the banks of 
the river, particularly at this low stage we perceive adven- 
titious boulders and pebbles of sienite, which cannot have 
originated nearer than the mountains of Canada, situated 
beyond the lakes. Proceeding about four and a half 
miles from Wheeling, we took up our night's residence at 
a cabin near to the outlet of M'Mahon's creek." 

27th.] To-day I again observed a bed of coal in the bank 
of the Ohio, worked beneath the limestone, situated nearly 
opposite to Little Grave creek. ^^ This superincumbent 
limestone does not appear to abound with organic remains, 
and is nearly horizontal, with a slight dip, perhaps 10°, 
to the south-east. Ten or 12 miles further, the same coal 
bed still bassets out from beneath the calcareous rock, 
and so near to the present low level of the river as not to 
admit of being worked at any other stage of the water. 
The shale (or bituminous slate clay) above and below the 
coal [25] is extremely superficial, being only a few inches 
in thickness, and interspersed with small masses of bitu- 
men and reliquiae which imitate charred wood, but are 
destitute of the characterizing cross grain. 

At the mouth of Little Grave creek we landed, to view 

^ A northern tributary which flows into the Ohio about half a mile below 
Bellaire, Ohio.— Ed. 

^ Little Grave Creek flows into the Ohio from the West Virginia side, a 
hundred miles below Pittsburg. The village of Ehzabethtown now lies at its 
mouth, upon the left bank. A mile below is Big Grave Creek; and Moundsville, 
West Virginia, is between the two streams. Near here, frontiersmen mur- 
dered a number of Shawnee, in 1774, leading to Lord Dunmore's War. For 
other historic incidents of this locality, see Cuming's Tour, volume iv of our 
series, notes 77, 78. — Ed. 

i8i8-i82o] NuttaWs 'Journal 53 

the famous mound, ^^ said to be 75 feet high. The ascent 
is extremely steep : it is indeed a pyramid, and of an elegant 
conic figure; at the summit there is a circular depression 
indicative of some excavation, and it is surrounded by a 
shallow ditch, across which, there are left two gateways. 
It appears to be elevated at about an angle of 60°, and the 
earth, as in many other similar monuments, has evidently 
been beaten down to resist the washing of rains. It is 
remarkably perfect and compleat, and would probably 
continue a monument as long as the walled pyramids of 
Egypt. Amongst other trees growing upon it, there was 
a white oak of not less than two centuries' duration. In 
the immediate vicinity, there is likewise a small ditched 
circle with two entrances, and a smaller ditched mound. 

At this place, I took in a young man going down to 
Big Sandy creek, who assisted in working his passage with 
us. At dark we landed on the Ohio shore, and lodged 
with a poor but hospitable resident. 

28th.] Tired of the boat, I got out and walked^io or 12 
miles, on the Virginia side of the river. • Many of the'set- 
tlers here appear to be Yankees, from Vermont and Con- 
necticut, and in prosperous circumstances. A mile and a 
half above Sistersville, and 35 from Marietta, in Virginia, 
there is a small aboriginal station, consisting of five or six 
low mounds, and a circle containing an area of about an 

29th.] Twenty-six miles above Marietta, on the Vir- 
ginia side, on the estate of Mr. Cohen, there was on the 
platform of the third, or most ancient alluvial bottom, a 
large, but low mound, grown over with brambles; and, 
at the distance of about a quarter of a [26] mile below, a 

'* Another description of this mound is given in Cuming's Tour, volume iv 
of our series, note 76. — Ed. 

54 Early Western Travels [Vol. 13 

small square embankment containing near an acre, with 
only one or two openings or entrances. 

Most part of the afternoon, I continued walking along 
the Ohio bank, and observed, as I have done for near 30 
miles above, the alluvial lands to be more extensive, oc- 
cupying often both banks of the river, and a sensible 
diminution in the elevation of the hills. The bottoms here 
abound with elm, and there are also extensive and un- 
drainable tracts covered with beech. 

30th.] At day break, we again betook ourselves to our 
laborious journey, which, in consequence of the adverse 
wind, was nearly as toilsome as a voyage up, in place of 
down the stream; in addition to which, we had also to 
encounter the severe and benumbing effects of frost. We 
passed Marietta,^^ remarkable for its aboriginal remains, 
and in the evening, encamped on the beach of the river, 
but did not rest very comfortably, in consequence of the 

31.] Passed Belpre ^^ settlement, an extensive portion 
of fertile alluvial land, and thickly settled. All the pre- 
vailing rock here, for some distance, is a massive sand- 
stone, either brownish, greenish, or grayish, fine grained 
and micaceous, and occasionally exposing something like 
impressions of alcyonites, but appearing in no place in- 
dicative of coal. This evening we lodged at a house, four 
miles above the mouth of Shade river, where the bottoms 
are extensive and fertile. In a rocky situation, I found 
abundance of the Seymeria macrophylla, near six feet in 
height; also a new species of Aster, in full bloom, at this 
advanced season. 

^^ A sketch of the settlement of Marietta will be found in Andre Michaux's 
Travels, volume iii of our series, note i6. — Ed. 

^^ For Belpre, see Cuming's Tour, volume iv of our series, note 87. — Ed. 

i8i8-i82o] NuttaWs journal 55 

November ist.] We proceeded about 19 miles with- 
out any material hindrance, when the south-west 
wind, which had so constantly opposed our descent, blew 
up a thunder-storm with rain, which detained us for the 
remainder of the day. Below Marietta, the [27] alluvial 
lands become still more extensive, and appear to be held 
at a price considerably above their real value by specula- 
tors, who thus prevent the population from accumulat- 
ing. We scarcely, indeed, see any thing in this quarter but 
the miserable log cabins of tenants so poor and 01 provided, 
even with the common necessaries of life, that, had we not 
taken the precaution of providing ourselves with pro- 
vision, we must often have had either to fast, or sit down 
to nothing better than mush and milk; which, though an 
agreeable, is not a sufficiently nourishing diet for a traveller. 

In descending the river, we uniformly find rapid water 
along the islands and bars; a circumstance appearing to 
indicate the former union of such islands with the land. 
Nearly all the sugar here made use of by the inhabitants, 
is obtained from the maple {Acer saccharinum), which, by 
more careful management, might be refined equal to mus- 

2d.] We were again detained a considerable part of 
the day by the contrary wind, and, during the delay, fell 
in with a descending family, which had passed us the pre- 
ceding day. In a short time after meeting, two hounds 
belonging to our companion, which had been let loose in 
the woods, chased a buck to the river : my companion and 
the old migratory hunter instantly launched the skiff in 
the pursuit, and succeeded in shooting the unfortunate 
deer in the water; a method commonly resorted to in this 
country, where the chase is more a matter of necessity than 

56 Early Western Travels [Vol. 13 

3d.] This morning I walked up the right bank of the 
river, to view an aboriginal station, said to be situated on 
the present estate of Mr. Warf, on Park's bottom; but, 
on proceeding about two miles through an enswamped 
beech forest, I relinquished the undertaking, finding it 
to be more than three miles above Mill creek, which I had 
crossed the preceding day. [28] I understood that this 
work was a circular embankment, including an area of 
three or four acres; and in the vicinity of which, were sev- 
eral inconsiderable mounds. Beech woods, flanked by 
elevated cliffs, still continued for four miles on the Vir- 
ginia side, to Le Tart's rapids," where the boat was to 
wait my arrival. On the way I found abundance of the 
Dracocephalum cordijolium with long slolons like ground 
ivy, also Hesperis pinnatifida, but I was more particularly 
gratified in finding the Tilia heterophylla. Nothing is 
here more abundant than the Stylophorum {Chelidonium. 
Mich.). This evening, we were 16 miles above Gali- 

4th.] About II miles from which, I observed a bed of 
coal, now worked on the bank of the river, some distance 
above the base of a high cliff, and overlaid by a massive 
micaceous sandstone, constituting the main body of the 
hill, and, as usual, horizontally stratified. Beneath the 
coal appeared a laminated limestone. Not many miles 
from hence, nitre is also obtained in caves. 

The wind still continued against us, and with consider- 

" Letart Falls are at the northward turn of the river in the so-called 
"Pomeroy Bend" between Meigs County, Ohio, and Mason County, Ken- 
tucky. The rapids are of slight consequence, but were exaggerated into 
importance by some of the early travellers. — Ed. 

^* For sketch of Gallipolis and the unfortunate French colony of which it 
was the centre, see F. A. Michaux's Travels, in our volume iii, note 34. — Ed. 

1818-1820] Nuttair s 'Journal 57 

able labour we got five miles below Galiopolis, at which 
and Point Pleasant ^* there are several mounds and abo- 
riginal remains.^" 

5th.] This evening we had proceeded about 26 miles 
below Galiopolis. Yesterday and to-day, I remarked, 
parallel with the present level of the river, and often sur- 
mounted by a lofty and friable bank of earth, beds of 
leaves compressed and blackened, giving out ferruginous 
matter to the water which oozed through them. On ex- 
amination, they proved to be the same kind of foliage as 
that of the trees which compose the present alluvial forest ; 
as platanus, beech, oak, poplar, &c. 

About Steubenville I observed the first occurrence [29] 
of misletoe (the Viscum verticillatum of the West Indies), 
which now appears very prevalent and conspicuous. The 
fruit of the popaw (Porcelia triloba) here comes to perfec- 
tion, and is rich and finely flavoured, while above, and in 
a few localities where it exists in Pennsylvania, it is scarcely 

I was again informed of the existence of aboriginal 
mounds and entrenchments on the fertile alluvial lands 
called Messer's Bottom, which are of several miles extent, 
commencing almost immediately below Galiopolis on the 
Virginia side, but after several unsuccessful inquiries, the 
ignorance and supineness of the settlers, though numer- 
ous, prevented me from discovering them. 

6th.] We proceeded about nine miles, and were as 
usual prevented from continuing further by the reiterated 

" Point Pleasant is at the mouth of Great Kanawha River. For history of 
the site, see Croghan's Journals, volume i of our series, note loi; also Brad- 
bury's Travels, in our volume v, note 156. — Ed. 

'" A more particular account of these monuments is given in the latter part 
of this work. — Nuttall. 

5 8 Early Western Travels [Vol. 13 

violence of the pertinacious south-west wind, accompanied 
by a haze, which made every object appear as if envel- 
oped in smoke. 

7th.] This evening, we passed the mouth of Big Sandy 
creek, the boundary of Kentucky. Near to this line com- 
mences the first appearance of the cane {Arundinaria 
macros perma), which seems to indicate some difference in 
the climate and soil. The settlements are here remote, 
the people poor, and along the river not so characteristic- 
ally hospitable as in the interior of Kentucky. Landing 
rather late, we took up our lodging where there happened 
to be a corn-husking, and were kept awake with idle mer- 
riment and riot till past midnight. Some of the party, or 
rather of the two national parties, got up and harangued 
to a judge, like so many lawyers, on some political argu- 
ment, and other topics, in a boisterous and illiberal style, 
but without coming to blows. Is this a relic of Indian 
customs ? 

The corn-fields, at this season of the year, are so over- 
run with cuckold-burs {Xanthium strumarium), and the 
seeds of different species of Bidens or Spanish-needles, [30] 
as to prove extremely troublesome to woollen clothes, and 
to the domestic cattle, which are loaded with them in tor- 
menting abundance. In consequence of these weeds, the 
fleece of the sheep is scarcely worth the trouble of shear- 
ing. The best remedy for checking the growth of these 
noxious plants, would be to plow them in about the time 
of flowering, which would exterminate them, and improve 
the crop of corn. 

The people here, living upon exigencies, and given to 
rambling about instead of attending to their farms, are 
very poor and uncomfortable in every respect ; but few of 
them possess the land on which they live. Having spent 

i8i8-i82o] Nutt all's 'Journal ' 59 

every thing in unsuccessful migration, and voluntarily ex- 
iling themselves from their connections in society, they be- 
gin to discover, when too late, that industry would have 
afforded that comfort and independence which they in vain 
seek in the solitudes of an unhealthy wilderness. We 
found it almost impossible to purchase any kind of pro- 
vision, even butter or bacon, nothing appearing to be culti- 
vated scarcely but corn and a little wheat. 

I was again informed of the existence of aboriginal re- 
mains in the vicinity of the place where we arrived this 

8th.] We were delayed nearly the whole of the day by 
the usual adverse wind. 

9th.] To-day, however, we were fortunate enough, at 
last, to obtain the breeze in our favour, and proceeded 
about 28 miles, encamping three miles below the town 
of Portsmouth. ^^ 

loth.] The wind still continuing in our favour, accom- 
panied by a considerable current, we proceeded about 32 
miles, and encamped 12 mil^s below Salt creek, and 17 
above Maysville.^^ In this course the river appears very 
meandering, and from Portsmouth, the hills, which are 
considerable, come up diagonally to the margin of the 
river and present serrated [31] or conic summits. At the 

'' Portsmouth is situated at the mouth of the Scioto, on the east bank. On 
the west bank was the chief Shawnee village, in the days of rivalry between 
French and English fur-traders. Gist, exploring for the Ohio Company, was 
here in 1751. Two years later a flood drove the Indians across the river to the 
higher ground on which Portsmouth was afterwards built; but a part of them 
removed to the upper Scioto and the Little Miami, founding the Old and New 
Chillicothe towns. Portsmouth was the place of captivity of Mrs. Mary Ingles, 
in 1755; the site was abandoned by the Indians in 1758. The present town was 
platted (1803) by Henry Massie, on land bought by him in 180 1. It was named 
for Portsmouth, Virginia. — Ed. 

'^ For the history of Maysville (formerly called Limestone), see Andre 
Michaux's Travels, in our volume iii, note 23. — Ed. 

6o Early Western Travels [Vol. 13 

lowest stage of the water we perceive horizontal ledges of 
calcareous rock filled with terebratulites, &c. The salt 
at Adamsville appears to be made from water issuing out 
of the alluvial argillaceous soil near to the outlet of Salt 
Creek, but in many parts of the Western country coring for 
salt water is frequently continued some hundreds of feet, 
(sometimes as much as 400 feet) below the surface, 
through calcareous and sand-stone rocks, and occasionally 
through beds of coal. 

nth.] We proceeded seven miles below the thriving 
town of Maysville, formerly called Limestone from the 
rock in its neighbourhood, and experienced heavy rains 
during the whole day, which in our open skiff proved very 
unpleasant, and, to augment our uncomfortable situa- 
tion, we encamped at a late hour on a very disagree- 
able muddy shore, where it was not possible to kindle a 

The farmers along the river for many miles down appear 
to be in thriving circumstances. Their houses are very 
decent in external appearance, but so badly finished and 
furnished that many of the rooms are unoccupied, or 
merely serve the purposes of a barn, and the family are 
commonly found living in the kitchen. Most of these 
ostentatious shells of frame houses are the work of the 
New-England settlers, who are very industrious, and not 
without more or less of their usual economy and sagacity. 

12th.] We were again retarded by the south-west wind. 
The shore on which we landed was thickly strewed with 
fragments of calcareous rock filled with terebratulites, al- 
cyonites, flustras, encrinal vertebrae, &c. &c. Some speci- 
mens which I here collected of the encrinal vertebrae were 
coated with a cellular epidermis, in appearance resembling 
a millepore; they are also remarkably dichotomous. In 

1818-1820] Nuttair s 'Journal 61 

one of the calcareous fragments which I broke occurred 
the Trilobites paradoxus. 

[32] The wind abating, we passed down to Augusta,^' 
and with our emigrant companions encamped on the oppo- 
site shore. Here the insolence of my companion rendered 
our separation absolutely necessary. It is to be regretted, 
that so many of those wandering New-Englanders (who, 
like the Jews in Europe, are to be met with in every part 
of the union), should prove so disgraceful to their country. 
My impression now was, that this young man was a ref- 
ugee from justice or deserved infamy, and in all proba- 
bility I narrowly escaped being robbed, 

13th.] To-day I arrived at Cincinnati,^* and was again 
gratified by the company of my friend Doctor I. Drake,^^ 
one of the most scientific men west of the Alleghany 

^ Augusta is forty-two and a half miles above Cincinnati. It was formerly 
seat of justice of Bracken County, Kentucky, and is still, on account of its good 
harbor, an important point for shipping tobacco. — Ed. 

^* For a sketch of the early history of Cincinnati, see Cuming's Tour, in our 
volume iv, note i66. — Ed. 

^^ Nuttall mistook the name. Dr. Daniel Drake came to Cincinnati from 
Kentucky in 1800, at the age of fifteen, and clerked in a drug store while privately 
studying medicine. He was graduated from the medical school of Pennsylvania 
University, in 1816, and the next winter lectured at Transylvania University. 
The plan for a medical college, referred to in the text, was successfully carried 
out. The charter was obtained in December, 1818, the college being opened 
the following November, with twenty-five students. Drake was president. 
This was the beginning of the Ohio Medical College. In 1821, Drake secured 
from the legislature a grant which laid the foundation for the Cincinnati hos- 
pital. For many years he was the leader of his profession in Ohio and Ken- 
tucky, and was influential in numerous progressive movements. He died in 
1852, a member of the faculty of the college founded in 1818-20. See bio- 
graphical sketch by his son, prefixed to a collection of his letters, Pioneer Life 
in Kentucky (Cincinnati, 1870). 

Hugh Glenn, mentioned in the succeeding paragraph, soon afterward es- 
tablished a trading-post near the mouth of the Verdigris River, in what is now 
Indian Territory. He was one of the first to succeed in the Santa Fe over- 
land trade. — Ed. 

62 Early Western Travels [Vol. 13 

The town appeared to have improved much, both in 
appearance and population, since my last visit; it is, in- 
deed, by far the most agreeable and flourishing of all the 
western towns. Here I had the good fortune, through 
Dr. D., to be introduced to Mr. H. Glenn, lately sutler to 
the garrison of Arkansa; from whom I had the pleasure to 
learn something more explicit concerning the probable pro- 
gress of my intended journey. 

A medical college was, I understood, about to be estab- 
lished in Cincinnati. Dr. D., who delivered a very ap- 
propriate introductory oration, will, probably, be the prin- 
cipal of the institution. But such undertakings are yet 
rather premature, and the student would derive many ex- 
clusive advantages by acquiring a medical education in 
the universities already established. 

17th.] About 12 o'clock I left Cincinnati in my skiff, 
and was accidentally joined by two strangers going to 
Lawrenceburgh,^^ 25 miles distant, where we arrived this 
evening. This is a neat and thriving town, situated near 
the estuary of the Great Miami, and on the line of the 
state of Indiana. 

[33] 1 8th.] I departed at day-break, but, after de- 
scending five miles, discovered my gun had been forgot- 
ten at the tavern where I lodged. The day was dismal 
and cloudy, with showers of snow and gales of wind, 
undissembled winter. In the evening I arrived at a 
little town called the Rising Sun," from its tavern, 13 miles 
below Lawrenceburgh. 

19th.] A fine morning and but little wind. — I now con- 

^' Lawrenceburgh is the seat of justice of Dearborn County, Indiana. The 
town was laid out in 1802 by Samuel C. Vance, United States surveyor at 
Cincinnati, who bought the site in 1801. He named the town for his wife, whose 
maiden name was Lawrence. The site is low, and subject to inundations. — Ed. 

^' Founded in 1813. — Ed. 

1818-1820] NuttaW s 'Journal 63 

tinued alone to navigate the Ohio, which is here exceed- 
ingly crooked. The alluvial lands are extensive, with the 
hills low, and the rock, as usual, calcareous and filled with 
organic impressions. I descended about 30 miles, and 
lodged with a very polite and hospitable Frenchman, three 
miles above the Swiss ^^ towns of Vevay and Ghent. He 
informed me that he had emigrated the last summer from 
Grenoble, and had purchased land here at the rate of 10 
dollars per acre, including the house and improvements 
which he occupied. He complained how much he had 
been deceived in his expectations, and that if he was home 
again, and possessed of his present experience, he would 
never have emigrated. He did not give a very favourable 
account of the settlement of Vevay, and he and others, par- 
ticularly a Swiss whom I called upon, informed me that 
the wine here attempted to be made was of an inferior 
quality. It sold at 25 cents the bottle, but soon became 
too sour to drink, and that instead of obtaining the north- 
ern vines for cultivation, as those around Paris, they had 
all along attended to the southern varieties. So the vine- 
yards of Vevay, if not better supported, will probably soon 
be transformed into corn-fields. The wine which they 
have produced is chiefly claret, sometimes bordering on 
the quality of Burgundy, for the preservation of which 
their heated cabins, destitute of cellars, are not at all 
adapted ; we do not, however, perceive any obstacle to the 
distillation of brandy, which could be disposed of with 
great facility and profit. The quantity of [34] wine said 
to be yielded to the acre, is about 500 gallons, which, if 
saleable, ought to produce a considerable emolument, and 
materially benefit the country, by diminishing the foreign 

'* For an account of the founding of the Swiss settlements in Indiana, see 
Bradbury's Travels, in our volume v, note 164. — Ed. 

64 Early Western Travels [Vol. 13 

demand. Several gentlemen of science, wealth, and pa- 
triotism in Kentucky and Mississippi Territory, are now 
also beginning to devote their attention to this important 
and neglected subject, and are commencing by the culti- 
vation of improved varieties of the native species of vine, 
which promise, above those of Europe, every requisite of 
fertility, hardihood, and improved flavour. 

20th.] To-day I passed the rising town of Madison,^® 
and the outlet of Kentucky river. — The sun was setting 
when I arrived, and just served to disclose the beauty of 
the surrounding scenery. On one side of the river rose a 
lofty fascade of calcareous rocks, fretted like net-work; 
on the opposite extended the low alluvial lands of Ken- 
tucky, thickly lined with an almost unbroken rank of tall 
poplars, {Populus angulisans,) resembling a magnificent 
vista planted by the hand of man. 

2 1 St.] Late in the evening I arrived at Bethlehem, a 
miserable little hamlet in speculation, containing about 
half a dozen houses. 

22d.] To-day I came within 11 miles of Louisville, and 
lodged with a hospitable and industrious Irishman, who 
had emigrated from Belfast about 17 years ago. 

23d.] At length I arrived at the large and flourishing 
town of Louisville, but recently a wilderness. Labour 
and provision rated here much above the value which they 
commonly bore in the state and the surrounding country. 
The markets were very negligently supplied, and at prices 
little inferior to those of New Orleans. In fact, the vortex 
of speculation, this commercial gambling, absorbed the 
solid interests of the western states, and destroyed all mer- 
cantile confidence. The whole country was overrun with 

^' Madison, first settled about 1808, is the seat of justice of Jefferson County, 
Indiana. — Ed. 

1818-1820] Nuttair s 'Journal 65 

banks, which neither deserved confidence nor credit. Not 
a note in Kentucky [35] commanded specie, the capital 
was altogether fictitious, and ought to have been secured 
by every species of property possessed by the stock- 
holders. A more ruinous and fraudulent system of 
exchange was never devised in any Christian country; it 
is truly a novelty to see a whole community, at least the 
wealthy part of it, conspiring in a common system of 
public fraud. 

The love of luxury, without the means of obtaining it, 
has proved the bane of these still rude settlements of agri- 
culturists, naturally poor in money by reason of their 
remoteness from the emporium of commerce, and their 
neglect of manufactures. When one heard a farmer de- 
mand a price for his produce in Kentucky, equal nearly to 
that of Philadelphia, we might be certain that he expected 
payment in depreciated paper. 

A stranger who descends the Ohio at this season of emi- 
gration, cannot but be struck with the jarring vortex of 
heterogeneous population amidst which he is embarked, 
all searching for some better country, which ever lies to 
the west, as Eden did to the east. Amongst the crowd 
are also those, who, destitute of the means or inclination of 
obtaining an honest livelihood, are forced into desperate 
means for subsistence. 

In my descent from Pittsburgh to Louisville, I found the 
wind, excepting about two days, constantly blowing up 
the river. The north-west or south-west winds, in fact, 
continue almost three quarters of the year. The deep val- 
ley which the river has excavated forms a vortex, into 
which the rarified air of the land rushes for equilibrium. 
The south-west wind is uniformly, at this season of the 
year, attended with a dense and bluish atmosphere, 

66 Early Western Travels [Vol. 13 

charged with vapours, which appear Hke smoke, and some- 
times accumulate so as to obscure the land. 

I was detained at Louisville until the 7th of December, 
[36] trying various means of descending the river. The 
lowness of the water prevented the descent of the steam- 
boats, and the price of passage to Natchez was now no less 
than 50 dollars. Wearied by delay, I at length concluded 
to purchase a flat-boat, and freighted it nearly at my own 
cost, which, for an inexperienced traveller, was certainly an 
act of imprudence, as the destruction of the boat, which 
frequently happens, would probably have plunged me into 
penury and distress. 

The wealth and population of Louisville *" are evi- 
dently on the increase, and a canal is now proposed, to 
obviate the difficulty of navigating by the Falls. 

I perceive no material variation in the soil or river scen- 
ery. The surface is deeply undulated, fertile, and much 
sunk into circular depressions or water-swallows. The 
rock is all calcareous, but destitute of coal, or indeed 
any kind of overlaying stratum in this neighbourhood. 

The Falls, at this stage of the water, roar in terrific 
grandeur; the descending surges resemble the foaming 
billows of the sea, and do not now admit the passage of 
vessels drawing more than 1 2 inches of water, though at 
other seasons there is a sufficiency for the largest boats on 
either side of the island which divides the falls. The cal- 
careous ledge over which the water thus pours is nearly as 
horizontal as a floor, and filled with the reliquiae of terebra- 

*" For description of the Falls of the Ohio and the early history of Louisville, 
see Croghan's Journals, in our volume i, note io6. A company was chartered 
in 1818 to build a canal around the falls, but the work was not completed until 
December, 1830, under the direction of the Louisville and Portland Canal 
Company, organized in 1825. After 1845, the stock was gradually purchased 
by the United States, which eventually became entire owner. — Ed. 

i8i8-i82o] Nuttair s yournal 67 

tulites, caryophillites, corallines, encrinites, &c. It also 
contains an unusual portion of pyrites, illinitions of blende 
ore of zinc, and a bluish green pulverulent substance, 
which is perhaps an ore of copper, or an oxide of nickel. 
Wood in a state of petrifaction has been discovered near 
the island which divides the cataract, and that in consid- 
erable quantity. The steam-boats, which ascend as far 
as Shippingsport," below the Falls, are of no less than 3 
to 500 tons burthen, and are handsomely fitted up for 
[37] the accommodation of passengers. Sometimes they 
descend to New Orleans in eight or ten days, affording a 
facility of communication heretofore unprecedented. 


Departure from Shippingsport — Velocity of the current 
— Troy — OwensvUle — Indigence of the hunting emi- 
grants — Mounds — Evansville — The Diamond 
island — Shawneetown — Grandeur of the river and 
the uncultivated state of the surrounding country — 
Fort Massac — Arrival at the mouth of the Ohio — 
Delayed by the ice of the Mississippi — A visit from the 
Delaware and Shawnee Indians — Observations on 
their mutual jealousy and improvidence. 

On the 7th, towards evening, I left Shippingsport in 
the flat-boat which I had purchased, accompanied by an 
elderly gentleman and his son, who intended to proceed to 
New Orleans. The river had now taken a sudden and 
favourable rise of eight or ten feet perpendicular. We 
floated all night, keeping an alternate watch, and before 
the expiration of 24 hours, on the 8th, the current alone 
had carried us without labour near 80 miles! We ac- 

*^ For sketch of Shippingsport, see Cuming's Tour, in our volume iv, note 
171. — Ed. 

68 Early Western Travels [Vol. 13 

companied another vessel of the same kind, and, for mu- 
tual convenience, our boats, according to custom, were 
lashed together side by side, thus also facilitating our 
progress by obtaining a greater scope of the current. 

9th.] We continued at the same rate, floating along with- 
out any labour, except that of occasionally rowing out 
from the shore, or avoiding submerged trunks of trees, 
called snags or sawyers, as they are either stationary or 
moveable with the action of the current; by the French 
they are called chicos. In the night [38] we passed the 
town of Troy, an insignificant handful of log-cabins, dig- 
nified by this venerable name ; here we stopped a few min- 
utes to unload some salt, which, in consequence of the 
scarcity, incident to the low stage of water, sold at 
four dollars per bushel. Nearly all the salt which sup- 
plies this country descends the Kanhaway. 

On the loth we arrived at Owensville,^^ more commonly 
called Yellow Banks, from the ochraceous appearance of 
the argillaceous friable bank of the river. This is another 
insignificant cluster of log-cabins, and the seat of a county. 
Flour sold here at 10 dollars per barrel. In consequence 
of the want of mills, they depend altogether on the 
upper country for their supplies of this important article. 
Mills are much wanted, and, in order even to obtain corn- 
meal, every one has to invent something of the kind for 
himself. At this place the store-keepers were busily col- 
lecting pork for the market of New Orleans, at the rate of 
five dollars per hundred, in exchange for dry-goods and 

^ Now Owensborough, seat of Daviess County, Kentucky. The original 
name of the place was Rossborough, but it was rechristened in honor of Abraham 
Owen, who fell at Tippecanoe. The shore from which the name Yellow Banks 
was derived, is from twelve to twenty feet in height. The undermining of 
these banks by the river frequently engulfs trees, and sometimes even drives 
people from their dwelUngs. — Ed. 

i8i8-i82o] Nuttair s 'Journal 69 

groceries. No other produce appeared in this place. 
No orchards are yet planted, and apples were worth one 
dollar and a half the bushel. 

We floated as usual till towards midnight, but the 
north-west wind arising, at length put a stop to our pro- 
gress. Having proceeded about 18 miles below Owens- 
ville, we endeavoured to land on the Kentucky side, but, 
in the attempt, ran an imminent risk of grounding on an 
extensive bar; with considerable labour we rowed our un- 
manageable flat to the opposite shore, where we found 
deep water, and a good harbour from the wind. 

nth.] About day-break we were accosted by a back- 
woods neighbour, anxious for a dram of whiskey, which 
we had foreseen and provided for. We were detained all 
day by the wind, and the hunters went out in quest of 
turkeys. The improvidence of these hunting farmers, 
is truly remarkable: annually [39] mortgaging their pro- 
duce for the meanest luxuries of civilized life; still desti- 
tute of flour, of the produce of the orchard, of country 
spirits, and, indeed, of coffee and sugar for a great part of 
the year; at the same time, that they might become inde- 
pendent, with even moderate industry. 

Potatoes are very indifferent in this country, but pulse 
and all kinds of grain excellent and productive. 

Here, at Mountplace*^ as it is called, there are two or 
three Indian mounds, upon one of which our visitor had 
built his house, and in digging had discovered abundance 
of human bones, as well as several stone pipes, and frag- 
ments of earthen ware. 

12th.] About 9 o'clock, we pushed out and proceeded. 

^ Mountplace is not shown on modem maps. From the distances given by 
Nuttall, the site must be quite near Newburg, Indiana, opposite Scuffletown, 
Kentucky. — Ed. 

70 Early Western Travels [Vol. 13 

Towards evening, 15 miles from Hendersonville,** in 
Indiana, we passed a small town called Evansville,*^ ap- 
parently a county seat, by the appearance of a court house. 
We continued to float throughout the night, which was 
very fine and moonlight, but cold, the thermometer being 
down at 20°. We passed Henderson in the night, and, 
about 5 o'clock in the morning of the 13th, came in sight 
of the large and beautiful broad island, called the Dia- 
mond, with the river, on either side of it, apparently a 
mile in breadth. At two intervals of 10 miles each, we 
had passed two other islands, and about one o'clock, 
found ourselves carried by good fortune, and at an easy 
rate, opposite to the Wabash *® and its island, which mark 
the commencement of the territory of Illinois. 

From Owensville, cane begins to be tall and abundant. 
The prospect of an approaching storm caused us to come 
to shore at an early hour, where we remained for the night, 
having our boat tied to a stout branch or stem of the Borya 
acuminata,*'' which grows here in abundance, and is nearly 
as thorny as a [40] sloe bush, sending up many straight 
stems from the same root. 

14th.] We rode over to Shawneetown," a handful of 

" Nuttall must mean Henderson, Kentucky, the words "in Indiana" re- 
ferring to the location of Evansville, about twelve miles above. Henderson, 
incorporated in 1810, is the seat of Henderson County, and was at this time 
Audubon's residence; it was in 1818 that the botanist Rafinesque visited him 
there. See note 175, in Cuming's Tour, volume iv of our series. — Ed. 

*^ Evansville, the seat of Vanderburgh County, Indiana, was named for 
General Robert M. Evans, of Gibson County, Indiana. It was founded (1814) 
on ground donated by Hugh McGary, famous as a Kentucky pioneer, who had 
for several years possessed lands in this region. McGary was one of the leaders 
in the disastrous Battle of the Blue Licks. See Cuming'sj2"oMr in our volume iv, 
note 120. — Ed. 

*° For sketch of Wabash River, see Croghan's Journals, in our volume i, 
note 107. — Ed. 

*' Now Forestiera acuminata. — NuTTALL. 

*^ For sketch of the site of Shawneetown, see Croghan's Journals, volume i 
of our series, note 108. — Ed. 

i8i8-i82o] Nuttair s journal ji 

log cabins, with some of them shingled, commanding an 
agreeable view of the river, but not situated beyond the 
reach of occasional inundation. I learned, on inquiry, 
that Mr. Birkbeck's settlement *^ was not so unhealthy as 
had been reported, and that it was continually receiving 
accessions of foreigners. After floating some distance, 
we came up with three other flat boats, and lashing to 
them proceeded all night. The river is here very wide 
and magnificent, and checquered with many islands. The 
banks at Battery Rock, Rock in the Cave,^" and other 
places, are bold and rocky, with bordering cliffs. The 
occidental wilderness appears here to retain its primeval 
solitude; its gloomy forests are yet unbroken by the hand 
of man, they are only penetrated by the wandering hunter, 
and the roaming savage. 

15th and 1 6th.] Got down below fort Massac,^* and 
remained ashore most part of the night, being detained 
by the wind. On the night and morning of the 15th, the 
thermometer fell to 10°. In a cypress swamp, near to the 
shore, grew the Gleditsia monosperma and the Cephalan- 
thus, with pubescent leaves and branchlets, which grows 
in Georgia and Louisiana, also the Asclepias parvi- 

17th.] Between 2 and 3 o'clock in the afternoon, we 
arrived at the mouth of the Ohio, and were considerably 
mortified on perceiving the Mississippi to be full of float- 
ing ice. Governed by the conduct of the boats which we 
had for three days accompanied, we came to on the Ken- 
tucky shore, and remained in company with several other 
boats, this and the whole of the following day. 

*^ On Birkbeck, see various references in our volume x. — Ed. 

'" Rock-in-the-cave (Cave-in-Rock). See Cuming's Tour, in our volume iv, 
note 180. — Ed. 

" For sketch of Fort Massac, see Andre Michaux's Travels, volume iii of our 
series, note 139. — Ed. 

J 2 Early Western Travels [Vol. 13 

The summit of the bank, at the foot of which we had 
landed, was surmounted by an almost impenetrable and 
sempervirent cane brake; we measured several [41] canes 
upwards of 30 feet in height. These wilds afford but little 
gratification to the botanist, their extreme darkness ex- 
cluding the existence of nearly every herbaceous plant. 
Among the trees, we still continue to observe the coffee- 
bean {Gymnocladus canadensis), now loaded with legumes, 
the seeds of which, when parched, are agreeable to eat, 
but produce a substitute for coffee greatly inferior to the 

The whole country here, on both sides of the Mississippi 
and the Ohio, remains uninhabited in consequence of in- 
undation, and abounds with various kinds of game, but 
particularly deer and bear, turkeys, geese, and swans, 
with hosts of other aquatic fowls; though, with the excep- 
tion of the white pelican, they are such as commonly exist 
in many other parts of the Union. 

While amusing ourselves on the 17th, we were visited 
by a couple of the Delaware Indians, and shortly after by 
a hunting party of Shawnees,^^ who reside some miles west 
of St. Louis. I invited one of them into our cabin, and 
prevailed upon him to take supper, with which he appeared 
to be well satisfied and grateful. On the following day, a 
number of the Shawnees came with our evening guest, 
and desired to purchase gun-powder. They behaved 
with civility, and almost refused to taste of spirits, but 
their reluctance was at length overcome by some of our 
neighbours, and the night was passed at their camp with 
yells and riot. Although the Delawares and Shawnees 
are proximately allied to each other, yet we perceive the 
existence of that jealousy among them, which has ever 

'^ On the Shawnee, see Weiser's Journal, in our volume i, note 13. — Ed. 

i8i8-i82o] Nutt all's "Journal 73 

been so fatal to the interest of the aborigines, from the con- 
quest of Cortes to the present moment. The Delawares 
cautioned me against the Shawnees, among whom they 
were continually hunting, and stigmatized them as rogues ; 
I found them, however, all equally honest in their dealings, 
as far as I had any intercourse with them; still the history 
[42] of the Shawnees, on many occasions, has long proved 
the truth of the character which is given of them by the 
Delawares. Scarcely any of the Indian tribes have mi- 
grated so often and so far, as the restless and intriguing 
Shawnees; who, since their first discovery on the banks of 
the Savannah, in Georgia, have, in the space of a century, 
successively migrated through the western states to the 
further bank of the Mississippi. Ever flying from the 
hateful circle of civilized society, which, probably in their 
own defence, they have repeatedly scourged, so as, indeed, 
to endanger their safety ; averse to agriculture and syste- 
matic labour, they still depend upon the precarious bounty 
of the chase for their rude subsistence. Retreating into 
the forests of the western interior, according to their own 
acknowledgment destitute of lands, they are reduced to 
the misery of craving the favour of hunting ground from 
the Cherokees and Osages,^^ excepting the uninhabitable 
wilds of the Mississippi, which, as in former times, still 
continue the common range of every tribe of native 

These Indians possess the same symbolical or panto- 
mimic language, as that which is employed by most of the 
nations with which I have become acquainted. It appears 
to be a compact invented by necessity, which gives that 
facility to communication denied to oral speech. 

^ See ihid., note ^t,, for the Cherokee; for the Osage, see Bradbury's Travels, 
our volume v, notes 22, 107. — Ed. 

74 Early Western Travels [Vol. 13 


Embark amidst the ice of the Mississippi — Run aground 
on Wolf's island in attempting to land — relieved 
from this situation — but find ourselves again involved 
in it, and are imposed upon by the extortion of a neigh- 
bouring voyager — Pass the Iron banks — Cypress — 
Solitude of the country — New Madrid — Oscillations 
of the earth still frequent — Point Pleasant — Vestiges 
of the great earthquake — The Little Prairie settlement 
almost destroyed by it — The Canadian reach — A 
dangerous and difficult pass of the river — The first 
Chicasaw Bluffs — Additional danger and uncertainty 
of the navigation — Stratification of the Bluff — A dan- 
gerous accident — The second Chicasaw Bluffs — Ob- 
servations on their stratification. 

19TH.] This morning, after breakfast, our more than 
usually timid neighbours and ourselves ventured into the 
floating ice of the Mississippi, which we soon found to be 
less formidable than we had imagined, though still not 
without some danger of drifting imperceptibly or unavoid- 
ably upon some sunken tree, of which there are no small 
abundance throughout the bed of the Mississippi. Car- 
ried upon these by the rapid current, our boats might 
be staved or entirely overturned, accidents which not in- 
frequently happen to those who give way to negligence or 

About half an hour before sun-set, our company came 
to alongside a breaking sand-bar, where lay also two other 
boats; governed by their example we attempted to land, 
but floated by the current to a distance below, and here, 
unfortunately, attempting to make a landing, and trusting 
too confidently to the lightness of our boat, we were in- 
stantly carried upon a shallow and miry bar. I was sensi- 
ble of the dilemma [44] into which we had fallen, and lost 

i8i8-i82o] NuttalPs Journal 75 

no time to plunge into the water, though at the point of 
freezing, attempting, but in vain, to float off the boat by a 
lever. The effort was beyond my strength, and after re- 
maining in the water nearly an hour, I had reluctantly to 
submit to our situation. At length, two boatmen offered 
their assistance, for the consideration of five dollars, with 
which I complied, and in a few moments we again floated. 
They took us in the dark about 100 yards further down, 
and there made a landing. I still felt suspicious of our 
situation, notwithstanding their assurances of safety: and 
at day-light, we found ourselves (in consequence of the 
rapid falling of the river) as far as ever grounded upon the 
bar; to obviate which, all our strength and ingenuity 
availed nothing. The boatmen also, who had assisted us 
the preceding night, and put us off our guard by false 
assurances, now passed us with indifference, and denied 
us the assistance which they had promised. We imme- 
diately commenced unloading, and had proceeded pretty 
far in our labour, when we were visited by the owner of a 
neighbouring boat, who, pretending to commiserate our 
situation, offered to assist us gratuitously; and hearing 
how we had been cheated out of five dollars, expressed 
his dislike at any boatman having acted with such want 
of fellow-feeling. We had scarcely time to breakfast, 
before our yankees arrived with two skiffs; and one of 
them now assured us that we should never be able to get 
off until the rise of the river; though, as appeared in the 
sequel, merely with the friendly view of putting a good 
price upon his services. The other, instead of the gratui- 
tous assistance which he had offered, made a tender of his 
services at three dollars. At length, like genuine Arabs, they 
demanded the value of eight dollars, with which I was 
reluctantly obliged to comply. After about ten minutes 

76 Early Western Travels [Vol. 13 

further unloading, a lever placed under the bow, set us 
readily afloat [45] in one minute; so much had these kind 
gentlemen deceived us, as to our real situation. They now 
also refused to fulfil the bargain of assisting us to reload, 
until brought to some sense of duty by remonstrance. — 
I shall not indeed soon forget Wolf's island, and its har- 
bour of sharpers. 

20th.] The day was far advanced when we got off, and 
after floating 10 miles we moored for the night, taking care 
to have deep water. 

The land appears low and uninhabited on every side, 
except at the Iron-banks" (caUed Mine au Fer by the 
French) we passed yesterday, and which are cliffs of friable 
and argillaceous earth, the upper bed being ferruginous, 
beneath which occurs a very conspicuously-coloured band 
of pink clay about 12 inches thick, and below are white 
beds of the same material, improperly considered 

The Cyprus {Cupressus disHcha) which continues some 
distance along the Ohio above its estuary, is here much 
more common, and always indicates the presence of annual 
inundation and consequent swamps and lagoons, but we 
do not yet meet with the long moss (Tillandsia usneoides), 
a plant so characteristic of the prevalence of unhealthy 
humidity in the atmosphere. 

2 1 St.] We commenced our voyage at the dawn of day, 
and continued to float along without interruption. The 
river here appears truly magnificent, though generally 
bordered by the most gloomy solitudes, in which there are 

" The blufFs called Iron Banks are on the Kentucky side of the river, about 
twenty miles below the mouth of the Ohio. They are eighty to a hundred and 
twenty feet in height. From their brownish color, the early explorers supposed 
them to contain rich deposits of iron, whence the name; but the amount of the 
metal is negligible. — Ed. 

i8i8-i82o] Nuttair s ^Journal yy 

now no visible traces of the abode of man. It is indeed a 
sublime contrast to the busy hum of a city, and not alto- 
gether destitute of interest. In the course of the day we 
passed a number of capacious islands, but all as they 
ever were from their creation, and most of them even with- 
out names, the property of any one who will assume 
the possession; but they are in general, I suspect, an- 
nually submerged by inundation. 

[46] This evening we were 10 miles above New Madrid, 
and moored opposite to one of the islands which had been 
convulsed by the earthquake of 181 1. 

2 2d.] We commenced our voyage early, and arrived 
before noon at New Madrid. ^^ We found both sides of 
the river unusually lined with sunken logs, some stationary 
and others in motion, and we narrowly avoided several of 
considerable magnitude. 

New Madrid is an insignificant French hamlet, contain- 
ing little more than about 20 log houses and stores miser- 
ably supplied, the goods of which are retailed at exorbitant 
prices: for example, 18 cents per pound for lead, which 
costs seven cents at Herculaneum; salt five dollars per 
bushel; sugar 31 1-4 cents per pound; whiskey one dollar 
25 cents per gallon; apples 25 cents per dozen; corn 50 
cents per bushel; fresh butter 37 1-2 cents per pound; eggs 
the same per dozen ; pork six dollars per hundred ; beef five 
dollars. Still the neighbouring land appears to be of a 
good quality, but people have been discouraged from set- 
tling in consequence of the earthquakes, which, besides 
the memorable one of 181 1, are very frequently experi- 
enced, two or three oscillations being sometimes felt in a 
day. The United States, in order to compensate those 
who suffered in their property by the catastrophe, granted 

'* For New Madrid, see Cuming's Tour, our volume iv, note 185. — Ed. 

yS Early Western Travels [Vol. 13 

to the settlers an equivalent of land in other parts of the 

The site of the town, as we learn from La Vega, the his- 
torian of Soto, bears unequivocal marks of an aboriginal 
station; still presenting the remains of some low mounds, 
which, as usual, abound with fragments of earthen 

23d.] We proceeded about six miles, and came to at 
another small French hamlet called Point Pleasant. [47] 
Here I saw the Catalpa {Catalpa cor dij olio) in the forests, 
apparently indigenous, for the first time in my life, though 
still contiguous to habitations. 

This place and several islands below were greatly con- 
vulsed by the earthquake, and have in consequence been 
abandoned. I was shown a considerable chasm still far 
from being filled up, from whence the water of the river, 
as they say, rushed in an elevated column. The land is 
here of a superior quality, but flat, and no high grounds 
have made their appearance since we passed the Iron- 
Banks, no rock is any where to be seen; the banks of the 
river are deep and friable; islands and sand-bars, at this 
stage of the river connected with the land, are almost in- 
numerable. In the midst of so much plenty provided by 
nature, the Canadian squatters" are here, as elsewhere, 
in miserable circumstances. They raise no wheat, and 
scarcely enough of maize for their support. Superfine 
flour sold here at 11 dollars per barrel. 

" See the Appendix, and the account of De Soto's incursion. 

In the immediate vicinity of the town I met with Bcehera glandulosa, Erigeron 
{Canotus) divaricatum, Verbena stricta, V. Aubletia, Croton capitatum, and 
Helenium quadridentatum. On the banks of the river Oxydenia attenuata and 
the Capraria muUifida of Michaux. — Nuttall. 

^' Such as cultivate unappropriated land without any species of title. — 

i8i8-i82o] Nuttair s "Journal 79 

The dresses of the men consist of blanket capeaus, buck- 
skin pantaloons, and mockasins. 

25th.] Christmas-day. We left Point Pleasant,^* and 
floated along without encountering any material obstacle, 
except glancing against an enormous moving log (or saw- 
yer), which for the moment threw us into terror. Indeed 
the submerged trees become more and more numerous. 

In the evening we arrived at the remains of the settle- 
ment called the Little Prairie, where there is now only a 
single house, all the rest, together with their foundations, 
having been swept away by the river, soon after the con- 
vulsion of the earthquake, in consequence (as the inhabi- 
tants say, and as they also affirm in New Madrid) of the 
land having sunk 10 feet or more below its former level.^' 

[48] 26th.] After continuing about 10 miles below the 
Little Prairie, we were detained for the remainder of the 
day by the commencement of a storm, which towards 
evening increased to violence, and continued so throughout 
the night. I felt under some apprehension that we should 
break our cable, and so be cast away upon some of the 
many snags and sawyers which obstruct the river. 

27th.] Towards noon, the north-west wind moderating, 
we continued as usual, and proceeded about 12 miles 
through a portion of the river filled with islands and trunks 
of trees. No habitations whatever appeared since we left 
the Little Prairie. 

28th.] Proceeded a few miles, to the head of the 25th 

^* Point Pleasant is on the Missouri side of the river, ten miles below New 
Madrid, and eighty below the mouth of the Ohio. This place should not be 
confused with the site of the battle of Point Pleasant, at the mouth of the Great 
Kanawha. — Ed. 

" For a historical account of this country, once thickly inhabited by the 
natives, see the abridged relation of its discovery, and pretended conquest, by 
Ferdinand de Soto, in the Appendix. — Nuttall. 

8o Early Western Travels [Vol. 13 

island, as marked in the Pittsburgh Navigator,'** and re- 
mained about four hours, waiting the abatement of the 
wind, which did not permit us to proceed in safety. Our 
company did not appear inclined to advance towards the 
Canadian reach until the following morning; but not wish- 
ing to spend any time unnecessarily, we continued about 
five miles further. 

29th.] Proceeding at day-break, we looked with appre- 
hension for the dangers described by the Navigator, but 
passed along with so little difficulty as almost to doubt our 
actual situation. A few miles below, however, we ob- 
served the river contracted within a narrow space by a 
spreading sand-bar (or island), and planted almost across 
with large and dangerous trunks, some with the tops, and 
others with the roots uppermost, in a perpendicular pos- 
ture. The water broke upon them with a noise which I 
had heard distinctly for two miles, like the cascade of a 
mUl-race, in consequence of the velocity of the current; 
with all our caution to avoid them, the boat grazed on one, 
which was almost entirely submerged, and we received a 
terrific jar. All day we had experienced uninterrupted 
rain, but it was now pouring down in torrents. About 
two o'clock in the afternoon, as soon [49] as the fog had 
cleared away, we perceived ourselves again moving to- 
wards the field of danger. I counted, in the space of a 
minute, about 100 huge trees fixed in all postures, nearly 
across the whole river, so as scarcely to leave room for a 
passage. We proceeded towards a bank of willows on 
the Louisiana side, thinking to land for the night, in 
consequence of the unremitting and drenching rain, but 
found it impracticable, by reason of the rapid current. 

'" For comment on the Pittsburgh Navigator, see Cuming's Tour, in our 
volxune iv, note 43. — Ed. 

1818-1820] Nuttair s 'Journal 81 

At length we descended to water which had the appearance 
of an eddy, and here I was strongly urged to land, in 
which attempt the boat would, in all probability, have been 
sunk amidst a host of snags and half-concealed trunks 
which lined the shore. With all our exertions in rowing 
off, we but narrowly escaped from being drawn into the 
impassable channel of a sand island which spread out 
into the river, presenting a portion of water resembling a 
sunken forest. The only course which we had left ap- 
peared no less a labyrinth of danger, so horribly filled with 
black and gigantic trunks of trees, along which the current 
foamed with terrific velocity — Scylla on one hand, and 
more than one Charybdis on the other. Fortunately, 
however, our voyage was not destined to end here, and, 
after an hour's drenching amidst torrents of rain, we at 
length obtained a landing place about 10 miles above the 
first Chicasaw Bluffs.®^ On the point of one of these bars 
at Flour island, we observed the wreck of two large flat 
boats which we supposed might have been lost during the 
earthquake. Nothing still appeared on every hand but 
houseless solitude, and gloomy silence, the inundation 
precluding the possibility of settlement. 

30th.] We proceeded as soon as the dense fog this morn- 
ing would permit, but could not ascertain our situation 
any longer by the vague trifling of the Navigator, [50] and 
after proceeding some distance at the beck of the current, 
came in sight of Flour island. Here the Navigator says, 
* 'the channel is on the right side, but some prefer the left," 
but the very sight of the right-hand channel was to me 
sufficient, and finding the main body of the river carrying 
us to the left, I felt satisfied to go farther round rather 
than venture through such a horrid pass, which indeed re- 

" Called by the first French settlers the Cliffs of Prud'homme. — Nuttall. 

82 Early Western Travels [Vol. 13 

sembled a submerged forest, and through which no flat 
boat, I should suppose, could ever proceed with safety, 
however deep might be the water. That we had got a 
passable channel to the left, I was fully satisfied on per- 
ceiving the intersection of the first Chicasaw Bluffs or hills, 
all the high lands of the Mississippi being uniformly 
washed at their base by a deep and rapid current. Here 
we landed for a few moments, to survey those hills, the 
only ones we had seen since leaving the Iron banks. The 
ascent was steep, and the elevation between 2 and 300 
feet above the level of the river. These banks appeared 
to consist of a stratified, ferruginous, and bluish sandy 
clay, probably a disintegrated sandstone, which it per- 
fectly resembled to the eye, though altogether friable 
to the touch. In some places, lower down the river, we 
observed masses of ferruginous conglomerate blackened 
by the atmosphere, the pebbles chiefly hornstone, and 
some of them quartz. The debris of which this conglom- 
erate consists is entirely adventitious, or unconnected with 
the existing rocks, which form the basis of this ancient 

At this place, we saw the first cabin since our departure 
from the Little Prairie. On approaching the 34th island 
from the mouth of the Ohio, which presents itself round- 
ing, and nearly in the middle of the river, we had at first 
determined to take the left-hand side, set down by the 
Navigator as the channel, but finding ourselves to float 
very slowly, we rowed a little, and then submitted to the 
current. It was soon [51] observable, that we drifted to- 
wards the right-hand channel, though much the narrowest, 
and my companion advised that we should keep the left, 
especially as it was the nearest, and as the wind accom- 
panied by rain blew strongly up the river. However, on 

i8i8-i82o] Nuttair s journal 83 

finding still that the current drew to the right, even 
against the wind, and having arrived at the commence- 
ment of the bar of the island, I determined, at all events, 
to keep to the right. At length, after considerable labour, 
we landed at a neighbouring cabin, and were informed 
that the left channel had not in places more than 1 2 inches 
of water, being nearly dry, and almost destitute of current. 
Here, again, we made a fortunate escape. We also learnt, 
that not more than two days ago, a flat boat was sunk by 
the snags, which filled the right-hand channel of Flour 

At this place, we met with two or three families of 
hunters, with whom were living some individuals of the 
Shawnees and Delawares. They had lately caught an 
unusual abundance of beaver in the neighbourhood, and 
were anxious to barter it for whiskey, though scarcely pos- 
sessed either of bread or vegetables. Amongst their furs, 
I also saw a few skins of the musk-rat, {Arctomys monax, 
L.) which are never met with further to the south. 

31st.] We continued our voyage as usual at daylight, 
and floating with a brisk current down the right side of 
the 34th island, had nearly cleared ourselves of a host of 
snags and sawyers, when at last, puzzled on which side of 
one of these terrific objects to steer, we unfortunately 
struck it with considerable force, and the young man who 
accompanied us (the son of Mr. G.), an amiable youth 
of 16, was precipitated headlong into the river, together 
with the steering oar, which was suddenly jerked off by 
the snag; our boat was at the same instant careened over 
so far, as at first to appear overturning, but I instantly had 
the satisfaction to see that she was free, had received no 
[52] injury, and that Edwin on this emergency could swim, 
and, though much alarmed, had come within our reach. 

84 Early Western Travels [Vol. 13 

and got safely on board. As to our steering oar it re- 
mained across the snag, and was now become a sawyer; 
working horizontally upon the back of the black and 
fearful trunk which had so justly thrown us into conster- 

The wind springing up against us, we came to under 
the second Chicasaw Bluff, and had time to examine and 
contemplate these romantic cliffs, now doubly interesting 
after such a monotonous and cheerless prospect of solitary 
brakes and enswamped forests. This fas5:ade, or per- 
pendicular section, precisely of the same materials and 
consistence as that of the Iron banks above, continues, I 
think, uninterruptedly for near two miles, and is about 
150 feet high. The uppermost bed (all of them as nearly 
horizontal as may be), 12 to 20 feet thick, commencing 
immediately below the present vegetable loam, consists of 
a yellowish, homogeneous, now friable, sandy, and argil- 
laceous earth, which is succeeded by a thinner and more 
ferruginous bed ; below occurs a layer or band of pink-iQd. 
clay, now and then variegated with white specks, and, 
though constant in its appearance and relative position, 
no where exceeding 18 inches in thickness; below again 
occur ferruginous earths and clays more or less sandy, 
then a bed of a brownish-black colour, and about 18 inches 
in thickness, which, on examination, I found to be lignite, 
or wood-coal, containing less bitumen than usual, and so 
distinctly derived from the vegetable kingdom, exhibiting 
even the cross grain of the wood, as to remove all doubts 
of its origin. To the taste it was sensibly acid, and 
smelt in burning like turf. Beneath this coal, and in con- 
nection with it, occurs a friable bed of dark-coloured argil- 
laceous and sandy earth, in which I could very distinctly 
perceive blackened impressions of leaves of an oak, like 

i8i8-i82o] NuttaWs 'Journal 85 

the red oak and the willow oak, with [53] Equisetum hiemale 
or Shave-rush, and other vegetable remains, not much un- 
like the black beds of leaves which occur along the banks 
of the Ohio, but much more intermingled with earth. In 
this bed also occur masses or nodules of a hard and very 
fine-grained light gray sandstone, bordering almost upon 
homstone, likewise charged with vegetable remains, re- 
sembling charred wood, together with leaves of oaks and 
of other forest trees. Nearly on a level with the present 
low stage of the river, there was a second bed of this coal, 
more interrupted than the first in its continuity, though 
constant in its locality, no less in some places (like basins) 
than 8, 12 or 15 feet in thickness. Below, clays again 
succeeded, and terminated the visible stratification. 

In two or three places, I observed that the mud, which 
was very deep, had been boiling up into circular masses 
like fumeroles, and have no doubt, but that the decom- 
position of this vast bed of lignite or wood-coal, situated 
near the level of the river, and filled with pyrites, has been 
the active agent in producing the earthquakes, which have 
of late years agitated this country. The deposition of vast 
rafts of timber, thus accidentally brought together by the 
floods of the river, are continually, even before our eyes, 
as I may say, accumulating stores of matter, which, in 
after ages, will, no doubt, exert a baneful influence over 
the devoted soil, beneath which they are silently interred ! 
How much has the vegetable kingdom to do with the des- 
tiny of man ! The time, though slowly, is perhaps surely 
approaching, which will witness something like volcanic 
eruptions on the banks of the Mississippi. The inhabi- 
tants frequently, and almost daily, experience slight oscil- 
lations of the earth: I have even witnessed them myself 
while descending the river. 

86 Early Western Travels [Vol. 13 


Pass the third Chicasaw Bluff — Dangers of the naviga- 
tion, and solitude of the country — The fourth Bluff 
of the Chicasaws — Lignite prevalent — Chicasaw 
Indians — St. Francis river — depopulation of the 
neighbouring country — Trees of the alluvial forest — 
Destruction of the Big Prairie settlement — Scrub 
grass — Difficulties of the navigation — Changes of the 
soil, produced by the agency of the river — A visit from 
three of the Arkansa Indians — A dense fog over the 
river; the cause of it — Arrival near the mouth of the 
Arkansa and White river. 

January ist, 18 19.] We proceeded slowly, in conse- 
quence of adverse wind; and at length, came in sight of 
the third Chicasaw Bluff,®^ quite similar in appearance 
and conformation with that of the second above described. 
The 35 th island of the Navigator intervened betwixt us 
and the cliff, there being no water to the left of it ; the chan- 
nel at this stage of the river, was completely choked up by 
a bed of sand. 

We came to for the night on a sand-bar, opposite the 
centre of the island, resembling an Arabian desert, and 
scattered in every direction with lignite or bovey coal, 
washed probably from the basis of the Bluffs. The shore 
of the island was horribly strewed with the wreck of the 
alluvial forest, brought down by the overwhelming current 
of the river at its highest stage, and thrown confusedly 
together in vast piles. 

In the course of the day, we stopped awhile at a Shawnee 
camp, and bartered for some venison and wild honey, 
which they had in plenty. The honey, according to the 

*^ For historical sketch of site of the third bluff, see Cuming's Tour, our 
volume iv, note i88. — Ed. 

1818-1820] Nuttair s 'Journal 87 

Indian mode, was contained in the skin of a deer taken off 
by the aperture of the neck, [55] thus answering, though 
very rudely, the purpose of a bottle. 

On the 2d, we passed the "Devil's Race-ground," as 
it has been very formidably termed, but observed no ob- 
structions in the river equal to that at Plumb point, where 
we saw the wrecked boats. We observe, however, every 
day, wrecks of flat boats, drifted along the shores. We 
continued to the lower end of the ''Devil's Elbow," and 
again found the difficulty greatly exaggerated. The whole 
surrounding country still continues a desolate wilderness, 
abandoned to inundation, presenting impenetrable cane 
brakes and gloomy forests: none of the trees, however, 
attain that enormous magnitude, which they so frequently 
present along the borders of the Ohio. This appearance 
may perhaps be attributed, in part, to the perpetual revo- 
lutions of the soil, occasioned by the overwhelming force 
and inundations of the river. 

A dog lost in the forest, and perishing with hunger, came 
up to the bank of the river, yelling most piteously; but 
would not enter our skiff, which was sent for it, and con- 
tinued to follow us for some distance, but the danger of 
the shore, and the rapidity of the current, rendered our 
endeavours to assist the miserable animal perfectly useless, 
and, after some time, he fell back, stopped and yelled, till 
he reluctantly disappeared. 

3d.] We proceeded only a few miles in consequence of 
the wind, and came to at the point of a sand-bar, seven 
miles above the fourth Bluff. Here we observed a flat- 
boat lying aground, and dry upon the bar, for want of 
precaution in landing during the falling state of the 

88 Early Western Travels [Vol. 13 

4th.] This morning we descended to the fourth Chica- 
saw Bluffs,'^ and, after endeavouring in vain to proceed, 
were obHged to desist for the wind, and come to under fort 
Pickering.'* The strata are here again similar to those 
of the second Bluffs, even the [56] seam of pink clay occurs, 
and near the level of the river we likewise perceive the lig- 
nite in a bed of about six feet thickness ; but not probably 
continuous. Along the shore we saw masses which looked 
precisely like burnt logs, but all this coal, at length, blazes 
in the fire, and gives out, as usual, a smoke partaking of 
the odour of coal and turf. 

We found a store here for the supply of the Indians and 
the settlers of the neighbourhood, besides that of the 
United States. The advance upon articles sold to the 
natives is very exorbitant: for example, a coarse Indian 
duffell blanket four dollars, whiskey, well watered, which 
is sold almost without restraint, in spite of the law, two 
doUars per gallon, and every thing else in the same pro- 
portion. Yet the Indians get no more than 25 cents for 
a ham of venison, a goose, or a large turkey. 

On visiting a neighbouring encampment of the Chica- 
saws, we found many of them in a state of intoxication. 
They are generally well dressed, extravagantly orna- 
mented, and, from the fairness of many of their complex- 
ions, and agreeable features, appear to have profited by 
their intercourse with the whites. Several of them pos- 
sessed some knowledge of English, and a considerable 
number are making advances towards civilization. Gen- 
eral Jackson purchased from them a tract of land, said to 
be of more than 300 miles extent, and bounded by Wolf 
river, a small stream which enters the Mississippi at the 

^ For sketch, see ihid., note 189. — Ed. 

" For note on Fort Pickering, see ibid., note 192. — Ed. 

i8i8-i82o] Nuttair s journal 89 

commencement of the Bluffs.^^ On the river lands I here 
first noticed the occurrence of Brunichia, Quercus lyrata, 
and Carya aquatica (Juglans, Mich.) 

On the 5th we passed President island, of considerable 
magnitude, contiguous to which there is a rapid current. 
The left channel was now choked up with sand at its en- 
trance. Here we again observed a settlement of two or 
three families. In the evening we came to alongside a 
sand-bar or willow island, at [57] least so in high water, 
though now connected with the land by a dry sand-bar, 
like many other of the transient islands noticed in the 
Navigator. We, at length, began to observe a rise in the 
bed of the river. 

6th.] To-day we saw a few widely-scattered log-cabins 
along the bank," and came within 14 miles of the mouth 
of St. Francis. 

7th.] We proceeded by the left channel of St. Francis 
island, and found it very shallow and difficult, abounding 
with snags and bars, upon one of which lay a flat-boat 
aground, which had been detained here 12 days. We 
endeavoured to make a landing at the uppermost house 
of the settlement, near the mouth of the St. Francis, but 
found the water much too rapid ; we succeeded, however, 
in eddy water half a mile below, but found a considerable 
difficulty in ascending the broken bank. 

I made some enquiries respecting the Arkansa, 95 miles 
from hence. The O sages" bear a very bad character 
with these hunting farmers, of whom we saw but two 
individuals, and one inhabited house, excepting that we 

" For brief statement regarding the purchase, see ibid., note 190. — Ed. 

" There is no record of a compact or permanent settlement at this date near 
the mouth of the St. Francis. There were scattered settlers as early as 1800, 
for John Patterson was bom in that year not far above Helena. — Ed. 

" For the Osage Indians, see ante, note 53. — Ed. 

90 Early Western Travels [Vol. 13 

had first endeavoured to make. This settlement appears 
to be nearly abandoned, and very undeservedly. I 
walked out two or three miles into the woods, and found 
the land considerably elevated above the reach of inunda- 
tion, and of a good quality. Nearly opposite island 60, 
a few miles below, we were informed of the existence of 
hills within a quarter of a mile of the river. 

How many ages may yet elapse before these luxuriant 
wilds of the Mississippi can enumerate a population equal 
to the Tartarian deserts ! At present all is irksome silence 
and gloomy solitude, such as to inspire the mind with 

I was greatly disappointed to meet with such a similarity 
in the vegetation, to that of the middle and northern states. 
The higher lands produce black ash, elm (Ulmus ameri- 
cana), hickory, walnut, maple, [58] hackberry (Celtis 
integrijolia, no other species), honey-locust, coffee-bean, 
&c. On the river lands, as usual, grows platanus or 
button wood, upon the seeds of which flocks of screaming 
parrots were greedily feeding,®* also enormous cotton-wood 
trees (Populus anguUsans), commonly called yellow poplar, 
some of them more than six feet in diameter, and occasion- 
ally festooned with the largest vines which I had ever be- 
held. Here grew also the holly (Ilex opaca), A plectrum 
hiemale, {Ophrys hyemale, Lin.), Botrychium obliquum, 
and Fumaria aurea. Nearly all the trees throughout this 
country possessing a smooth bark, are loaded with misletoe 
(Viscum verticillatum). 

8th.] About a mile below the place where we spent the 
last night, is the settlement called the Big Prairie, consist- 
ing of three or four log-cabins, and two families, but in 

" Their most favourite food in the autumn is the seeds of the cuckold bur 
(Xanthium strumarium). — Nuttall. 

1818-1820] Nuttair s journal 91 

a state of abandonment since the shock of the earthquake, 
which the inhabitants assert to have produced a depression 
of the ordinary level, that exposed the settlement to in- 
undation; and, in fact, by a sudden encroachment of the 
river, which carried off the land for more than a quarter 
of a mile in breadth, all the habitations, except the two 
now surviving, were swept into the river. About a mile 
and a half below commences the 60th island of the Navi- 
gator ; the right channel was now choked up with sand at its 
outlet. A little distance below we landed at a store to 
purchase some necessaries. Considerable tracts of good 
and elevated land, once numerously peopled by the na- 
tives, appear in this quarter, over which the conspicuous 
devastations of a hurricane now added horror to solitude. 

The scrub-grass or rushes, as they are called here 
{Equisetum hiemale), from about 50 to 60 miles above, to 
this place, appear along the banks in vast fields, and, 
together with the cane, which is evergreen, [59] are con- 
sidered the most important, and, indeed, the only winter 
fodder for all kinds of cattle. The cane is unquestionably 
saccharine and nutritious, but the scrub-grass produces 
an unfavourable action on the stomach, and scours the 
cattle so as to debilitate and destroy them if its use be long 

We proceeded, without any accident worthy of remark, 
about six miles, below the ''Little Round island," noticed 
in the Navigator, which from its uncommon aspect affords 
a pretty good local object for the boatmen. While pass- 
ing the island we were accosted by some, to us, suspi- 
cious characters, mimicking distress to draw us to land, but 
in vain. We had been well assured of the existence of 
gangs of pirates occasionally occupying these solitudes. 

9th.] We continued, as usual, soon after day-break, and 

92 Early Western Travels [Vol. 13 

were about to stop by reason of the wind, when it unex- 
pectedly abated, so far as to prevent us, and we proceeded 
to the Three Islands, as they ought to be called for the 
sake of distinction, and which are not intelligible as the 
62d and 63d of the Navigator. These islands lie nearly 
parallel, and present themselves at the commencement of 
a left hand bend in the river. Two of them which first 
appear are small willow islands, with adjoining sand-bars. 
The channel of the first was now dry; that of the second 
smooth, but apparently shallow. The principal insulated 
forest is crescent-formed like Flour island, or deeply and 
circularly indented on the right-hand side. We had pro- 
ceeded past the two willow islands nearly to the principal 
one, when we perceived, unexpectedly, that the greater 
part of the river was pouring along with headlong velocity 
between the main and second willow island. To the left, 
the channel round the third island appeared broad and 
shallow, indeed nearly deserted by the river. We now 
entered the torrent almost too late for precaution, which, 
towards the main island, the side to which we had been 
inadvertently [60] drawn, was planted full of black and 
fearful logs. It was only with the utmost exertion that 
we saved ourselves (by rowing out towards the bar) from 
the fate of some unfortunate boatmen, which presented 
itself to us with more than usual horror. This was a large 
flat-boat, which hung upon the trunk of an implanted tree, 
by which it had been perforated and instantly sunk. 

We passed islands 64 and 65, and came to the shore in 
the bend opposite the middle of 66, which appeared to be 
about three miles in length. From New Madrid to this 
place the river appears singularly meandering, sweeping 
along in vast elliptic curves, some of them from six to 
eight miles round, and constantly presenting themselves 

1818-1820] Nuttair s 'Journal 93 

in opposite directions. The principal current pressing 
against the centre of the bend, at the rate of about five 
miles per hour, gradually diminishes in force as it ap- 
proaches the extremity of the curve. Having attained 
the point or promontory, the current proceeds with accu- 
mulating velocity to the opposite bank, leaving, conse- 
quently, to the eddy water, an extensive deposition in the 
form of a vast bed of sand, nearly destitute of vegetation, 
but flanked commonly by an island or peninsula of wil- 
lows. These beds of sand, for the most part of the year 
under water, are what the boatmen term bars. The 
river, as it sweeps along the curve, according to its force 
and magnitude, produces excavations in the banks; 
which, consisting of friable materials, are perpetually 
washing away and leaving broken and perpendicular 
ledges, often lined with fallen trees, so as to be very dan- 
gerous to the approach of boats, which would be dashed 
to pieces by the velocity of the current. These slips in 
the banks are almost perpetual, and by the undermining 
of eddies often remarkable in their extent. To-day we 
witnessed two horrid sinkings of the bank, by each of 
which not less than an acre of land had fallen in a day or 
two [61] ago, with all the trees and cane upon them, down 
to the present level of the river, a depth of 30 or 40 feet 
perpendicular. These masses now formed projecting 
points, upon which the floating drift was arrested, and 
over which the current broke along with more than ordi- 
nary velocity. Just after passing one of these foaming 
drifts, we narrowly escaped being drawn into a correspond- 
ing eddy and vortex that rushed up the stream, with a 
fearful violence, and from which we should not have 
been easily extricated. I now sufficiently saw the reason 
why the flat-boats were always kept out from the shore. 

94 Early Western Travels [Vol. 13 

and towards the bars which occupy the opposite side of 
the river. 

The encroachments in the centre of the curves of the 
meanders, proceeding to a certain extent, at length break 
through and form islands, in time the islands also disap- 
pear, and so the river continually augmenting its uncon- 
troulable dominion over the friable soU, alternately fills 
up one channel, and more deeply excavates or forms an- 
other, in proportion to the caprice of the current. 

In regard to landing, eddy or silent water is constantly 
to be found beyond the point of the bends or curves of the 
river. The bars are also generally safe, when sufficiently 
high, and the water deep. In such situations, the counter 
current, though inconsiderable, affords also a singular 
facUity to vessels which are ascending. 

A rude cabin, which we passed to-day, was the only 
habitation we had seen for 30 miles. 

This evening we were visited by three young men, a 
boy, and a squaw of the Osarks, a band of the Quapaws ^* 
or Arkansa Indians. Their aspect was agreeable, their 
features aquUine, and their complexion comparatively 
fair ; my first impression was that they somewhat resembled 
the Osages. Their errand was whiskey, and I regretted 
that it was not possible to satisfy them without it. They 
drank healths in [62] their own language, and one of them 
could mumble out a little bad English. They informed 
me, partly by signs, that their company was about five or 
six families or fires, as they intimated, out on a hunting 
excursion. I was sorry to find that they were beggars, 
and that one of them proved himself to be a thief. 

loth.] This morning we left the 66th island, opposite 
the middle of which we came to last evening, but found 

'* For the Quapaw, see post, note 84. — Ed. 

1818-1820] Nuttair s yournal 95 

our situation hazardous from the sliding in of the bank 
around, and which might easily have involved us in 
difficulty. By the time we had proceeded about a mile 
and a half along the bend or right hand channel of 67 and 
68, which lie opposite to each other, a fog sprung up, so 
very dense as to render our situation amidst almost un- 
seen obstacles extremely dangerous. We had no alterna- 
tive but rowing over to the bar of the island on our left, 
in which attempt we at length succeeded, not, however, 
without a risk of grounding. Here we lay until towards 
evening, when we proceeded to the termination of the 68th 
island, and made an indifferent landing. On exposing 
the thermometer to the air, it rose and remained at 62°. 
In the water it fell to 42° ; the difference being 20°, which 
readily accounted for the dense fog that exclusively en- 
veloped the river. This coldness of the water was no 
doubt occasioned by the thawing of ice in the upper part 
of the river, or some of its more considerable tributary 
streams, in consequence of which, the vapours of the moist 
and warm air were perpetually precipitated over it. The 
air, of unequal temperature, now and then felt extremely 

On the nth we were again detained by the fog and 
heavy rain, but turned out about 10 o'clock. After pro- 
ceeding opposite the commencement of the 69th island 
we stopped in consequence of the fog. Here, on ascend- 
ing the bank, I found the woods almost impenetrably 
laced with green briars (Smilax), [63] supple-jacks {(Eno- 
plia volubilis), and the Brunichia, and for the first time 
recognised the short-podded honey-locust (Gleditscia 
hr achy car pa), a distinct species, intermediate with the 
common kind (G. triacanthos), and the one-seeded locust 
(G. monosperma), differing from G. triacanthos in the per- 

96 Early Western Travels [Vol. 13 

sisting fasciculated legumes, as well as in their shortness 
and want of pulp. 

We proceeded a few miles further amidst torrents of 
rain, and were again obliged to land in consequence of 
the fog. Here we met with two hunters, who informed us 
of the existence of a considerable settlement on the banks 
of White River. ^° 

The wind springing up in the evening from the north- 
west, the thermometer fell to 52°, and the water to 40°, 
from which time the dense fog that had exclusively en- 
veloped the river began to disperse, and in the night we 
had a storm. 

12th.] Coming along the bend of the 71st island, we 
struck upon an enormous planter, or immoveable log, 
but again escaped without accident. About noon we 
landed at Mr. M'Lane's/^ a house of entertainment. 
Here I was advised to proceed with my small cargo and 
flat-boat to the port of Osark, on the Arkansa, by the 
bayou, ^^ which communicates between the White and 
Arkansa rivers, in both of which it was now conjectured 
there was back-water from the Mississippi. Concluding 
upon this measure, I hired a man at five dollars to assist 

me, and parted here with Mr. G and son, who soon, 

to my satisfaction, got a further passage on board a flat- 
boat. The idea of so soon arriving on the ground which 
I more immediately intended to explore, did not fail to 
inspire me with hope and satisfaction. 

^° Local historians mention an early settlement at Crockett's Bluff, on White 
River, which may be the one here referred to. — Ed. 

" We find nothing positive relative to this individual; but it is interesting to 
note that Arkansas County was represented in the upper house of the territorial 
legislatiire in 182 1 by Neil McLane, who may have been the same man. — Ed. 

" This bayou, sometimes called "White River Cut Off," was the common 
route from the Mississippi to the Arkansas, for travellers from the North. — Ed. 

1818-1820] Nuttair s 'Journal 97 


Proceed up White river for the Arkansa — Suspicious 
conduct of one of the boatmen — Pass through the con- 
necting bayou, and proceed up the Arkansa; its naviga- 
tion ; soil and surrounding scenery — A small French 
settlement — Extraordinary mildness of the season — 
Mounds — Changes in the alluvial lands produced by 
the agency of the river — Land speculators — Vegeta- 
tion of the alluvial lands — The town or Post of Ar- 
kansas — Enormous land claims — Difficulty of navi- 
gating against the current — The Great Prairie — 
First settlement on the Arkansa ; its present state — 
Agricultural advantages arising from the mildness of 
the climate — Storax — Aboriginal remains — The Qua- 
paws or Arkansas — Their traditions and character. 

13TH.] To-day I was detained at Mr. M'Lane's, wait- 
ing the drunken whim of the Yankee, whom necessity 
had obliged me to hire. In the course of a few hours he 
had shifted from two bargains. At first, I was to give him 
five dollars for his assistance, and in case that should prove 
inadequate, I had agreed to hire an additional hand on 
the Arkansa. Now he wished to have the boat for bring- 
ing her completely to the Port, and next he wanted 10 
dollars ! 

I endeavoured to amuse myself in the neighbourhood, 
by a ramble through the adjoining cane-brake. Here I 
found abundance of the Celtis integrijolia (entire-leaved 
nettle tree) and the common and one-seeded honey-locust ; 
also Forrestiera acuminata of Poiret (Borya acuminata, 
Wild.). The day was as mild and warm as the month 
of May, and the Senecio laciniata, so common along the 
banks of the Mississippi, already showed signs of flower- 

14th.] To-day we proceeded up White river with [65] 

98 Early Western Travels [Vol. 13 

considerable difficulty, and hard labour, the Mississippi 
not being sufficiently high to produce any eddy. The 
course which we made, in the two miles that we ascended, 
was west by north. I now found the boatman whom I 
had hired, one of the most worthless and drunken scoun- 
drels imaginable; he could not be prevailed upon to do 
any thing but steer, while myself and the other man I had 
hired, were obliged to keep constantly to the oar, or the 
cordelle (tow-rope). In the evening we left the boat 
without any guard, intending to repair to it in the morning 
from Mr. M'Lane's, where we returned again this eve- 
ning, being only three miles distant across the forest. 
Here I discovered that the Yankee intended to proceed 
to the boat in our absence and rob me, pretending some 
business to the mouth of the Arkansa, for which he must 
depart by moon-light. Unknown to him, however, and 
accompanied by a young man whom I had hired in his 
place, we repaired to the boat, waiting under arms the ap- 
proach of the thief, but unable to obtain a boat, he had 
relinquished the attempt, and saved himself from chas- 

In the neighbouring woods I was shewn a scandent 
leguminous shrub, so extremely tenacious as to afford a 
good substitute for ropes, and commonly employed as a 
boat's cable. A knot can be tied of it with ease. On 
examination I found it to be the plant which I have called 
Wisteria speciosa {Glycine jrutescens. Willd.) the Caro- 
lina kidney-bean tree." 

15th.] We continued with hard labour ascending White 
river to the bayou, said to enter seven miles up that stream. 
The latter proceeds from the bayou, in a direction of west 

" The name of Thyrsanthus, given by Mr. Elliott, has been already employed 
for another genus. — Nuttall. 

i8i8-i82o] Nuttair s "Journal 99 

to north-west, the bayou or cut-off continuing to the south- 
west. In this distance, there are no settlements, the land 
being overflowed by the back water of the Mississippi. 
We passed nearly [66] through the bayou, in which there 
are four points of land and a half; the current carrying us 
almost three miles an hour towards the Arkansa, which 
it entered nearly at right angles, with a rapid current, 
and a channel filled with snags. The length of the bayou 
appears to be about eight or nine miles. 

1 6th.] Leaving the bayou, we entered the Arkansa, 
which was very low, but still red and muddy from the 
freshets of the Canadian. Most of the larger streams 
which enter into it from the south, are charged with red 
and turbid water, while those of the north are clear. 
Every where I observed the chocolate or reddish brown 
clay of the salt formation, deposited by the southern 
freshets. The Arkansa had here a very gentle current, 
and was scarcely more than 200 yards wide, with its 
meanders on a small scale, similar to those of the Missis- 
sippi. In consequence of the unrestrained dominion of 
the inundation, no settlements yet appeared in this 
quarter. We proceeded chiefly by means of the cordelle, 
but at a very tedious and tiresome rate, for, after the 
utmost exertion, with our unwieldy boat, we were this 
evening only six and a half miles above the outlet of the 

17th.] We found the labour of towing our boat exceed- 
ingly tiresome, in consequence of the sudden falling of the 
river, produced by a corresponding ebb of the Mississippi. 
With painful exertions, and after wading more than three 
hours in the river, we passed only two bars in the course 
of the day. 

1 8th.] To-day we towed along two bars, much more con- 

I oo Early Western Travels [Vol. 13 

siderable than any preceding bends, but had the disap- 
pointment to spend the night only a single mile below 
Madame Gordon's, the place of our destination with the 
boat, and only 16 miles above the bayou, by which we 
entered the Arkansa. This house is the first which is 
met with in ascending the river. Nearly opposite to the 
foot of the last bar [67] but one which we passed, a vast 
pile of drift wood marks the outlet of a bayou, which is 
open in high water, and communicates with the Missis- 

The three last bends of the river, like the four first, 
tending by half circles to the north-west, are each about 
two and three miles in circuit. As in the Mississippi, the 
current sets with the greatest force against the centre of 
the curves; the banks of which are nearly perpendicular, 
and subject to a perpetual state of dislocation. In such 
situations we frequently see brakes of cane; while, on the 
opposite side, a naked beach of sand, thinly strewed with 
succulent and maritime plants, considerably wider than 
the river, appears to imitate the aridity of a desert, though 
contrasted at a little distance by skirting groves of willows 
and poplars. 

No other kind of soil appears than a friable loam, and 
the beds of red clay, which so strongly tinge the water at 
particular periods of inundation. The sand of the river 
appears to be in perpetual motion, drifting along at the 
beck of the current; its instability is indeed often danger- 
ous to the cattle that happen to venture into the river, 
either to drink or traverse the stream. 

The land, although neglected, appears in several places, 
below Madame Gordon's, high enough to be susceptible 
of cultivation, and secure from inundation, at least for 
some distance from the immediate bank of the river. 

i8i8-i82o] Nuttair s 'Journal loi 

No change, that I can remark, yet exists in the vegeta- 
tion, and the scenery is almost destitute of every thing 
which is agreeable to human nature; nothing yet appears 
but one vast trackless wilderness of trees, a dead solem- 
nity, where the human voice is never heard to echo, where 
not even ruins of the humblest kind recal its history to 
mind, or prove the past dominion of man. All is rude 
nature as it sprang into [68] existence, still preserving its 
primeval type, its unreclaimed exuberance. 

19th.] This morning we had extremely hard labour, to 
tow the only mile which remained of our tiresome voyage. 
I was obliged to plunge into the water up to the waist, and 
there work for some time, to disengage the boat from a 
hidden log upon which it was held; the men I had em- 
ployed, being this morning scarcely willing to wet their 
feet, although I had to pay them exorbitant wages. 

A mile and a half from Madame Gordon's, there was a 
settlement, consisting of four or five French families, 
situated upon an elevated tract of fertile land, which is 
occasionally insulated by the overflowings of the White 
and Arkansa rivers. 

20th.] To-day, and indeed for more than a week past, 
the weather, except being cloudy, has felt to me like May ; 
towards mid-day, the thermometer rose to 67°. The 
birds had commenced their melodies; and on the high and 
open bank of the river near to Madame Gordon's, I had 
already the gratification of finding flowers of the same 
natural family as many of the early plants of Europe; the 
Crucif erae ; but to me they were doubly interesting, as the 
first fruits of a harvest never before reaped by any botanist. 

In the afternoon, I walked about a mile from the river 
to the house of Monsieur Tenass, an honest and industri- 
ous farmer. The crop of cotton, and of corn, here the 

I02 Early Western Travels [Vol.13 

last summer was, I understand, very indifferent, for want 
of rain. The first sold here, at five to six dollars per hun- 
dred weight, in the seed; and flour at 10 dollars per barrel. 

The climate is said to be too warm for apples, but 
quite suitable for peaches. The land on which this gen- 
tleman and his neighbours resided, in tolerable indepen- 
dence, is very considerably elevated and open, bearing a 
resemblance to the lands about the Chicasaw [69] Bluffs, 
and at first view, I thought I discovered a considerable 
hill, but it was, in fact, an enormous mound, not less than 
40 feet high, situated towards the centre of a circle of 
other lesser mounds, and elevated platforms of earth. 
The usual vestiges of earthenware, and weapons of horn- 
stone flint, are here also met with, scattered over the sur- 
rounding son. 

In any other direction from this settlement, the lands 
are totally overflowed in freshets as far as the Missis- 
sippi. % On this side of the Arkansa, the floods cover the 
whole intermediate space to White river, a distance of 
30 miles. Within this tract, cultivation can never take 
place without recourse to the same industry, which has 
redeemed Holland from the ocean. The singular ca- 
price of the river, as it accidentally seeks its way to the 
sea,|meandering through its aUuvial valley, is truly re- 
markable. The variation of its channel is almost incred- 
ible, and the action which it exercises over the destiny of 
the soil, can scarcely be conceived. After pursuing a given 
course for many ages, and slowly encroaching, it has, at 
length, in many instances cut through an isthmus, and thus 
abandoned perhaps a course of six or eight miles, in which 
the water stagnating, at length becomes totaUy insulated, 
and thus presents a lagoon or lake. One of these insu- 
lated channels, termed a lake, commences about two miles 

i8i8-i82o] NuttaWs 'Journal 103 

from hence, and approaches within four miles of the Ar- 
kansas or the Post of Osark, affording a much nearer 
communication than the present course of the river. 

Towards evening, two keel boats came in sight, one of 
which was deeply loaded with whiskey and flour; the other, 
a small boat fitted out by a general Calamees and his 
brother, two elderly men out on a land speculation, who 
intended to ascend the river as far as the Cadron,'^ which 
is 300 miles from hence by water, or to the Fort," which is 
350 miles further. I perceived that they noted down 
every particular which [70] came to their knowledge, but 
appeared to be illiterate men, and of course, I found them 
incapable of appreciating the value of science. On ap- 
plication, they merely condescended to offer me a passage, 
provided I would find my own provision, and work as a 
boat-man. Such was the encouragement, which I at length 
wrung from these generous speculators; not, I dare say, 
exploring the Missouri territory with the same philan- 
thropic views as the generous Birkbeck. 

21 St.] About 12 o'clock, the thermometer was again at 
67°. In the course of the forenoon, I took a solitary 
ramble down the bank of the river, and found along its 
shelving border, where the sun obtained free access, abun- 
dance of the Mimosa glandulosa of Michaux; also Poly- 
premum procumbens, Diodia virginica, Verbena nodiflora, 
Lm. Eclipta ereda, Mich. Poa stricta, Panicum capil- 
laceum, Poa reptans as usual in vast profusion, and Cap- 
raria multifida. The trees and shrubs are chiefly the 
Pecan, (Carya olivcBJormis) C. aquatica; the black wal- 
nut, (Juglans nigra), but very rare; Fraxinus quadran- 
gulata, Liquidamber and Platanus, but rarely large or full 

"See post, note 133. — Ed. 

^^ Fort Smith. See chapter viii. — Ed. 

I04 Early Western Travels [Vol. 13 

grown; also Celtis integrijolia; the swamp oak (Quercus 
aquatica), nearly sempervirent, the red oak (Q. rubra), 
the scarlet oak (Q. coccinea), Spanish oak (Q. jalcata); 
Populus angulisans, the cotton wood, of greater magni- 
tude than any other tree in this country, with the wood 
yellowish, like that of the Tulip tree, answering the pur- 
pose of fence rails, and being tolerably durable. The 
smaller white poplar (P. monilijera), never so large as the 
preceding, commonly growing in groves like the willows, 
and presenting a bark which is white and even. Differ- 
ent kinds of honey locust, as the common species Gledits- 
cia triacanthos, the one-seeded G. monosperma, and the 
short podded G. brachyloba. There is no sugar-maple, 
as I understand, nearer than the upper parts of the St. 
Francis and White river. 

[71] The alluvial soil is here sandy and light; by no 
means luxuriant, except on the very margin of the river. 
We no where see such enormous trees as those which 
so frequently occur along the banks of the Ohio ; this, 
however, may in part be occasioned by the instability of 
the soil, from whence they are occasionally swept at no 
very distant intervals. The tulip tree (Lyriodendron 
tulipijera), which attains the acme of its perfection and 
magnitude in Kentucky, is not met with on the banks of 
the Arkansa. 

In consequence of the many saline streams which fall 
into this river, its waters are frequently found to be almost 

2 2d.] The path, which I this morning pursued to the 
Post, now town of Arkansas, passed through remarkably 
contrasted situations and soil. After leaving the small 
circumscribed and elevated portion of settled lands al- 
ready noticed, and over which were scattered a number 

i8i8-i82o] Nuttair s journal 105 

of aboriginal mounds, I entered upon an oak swamp, 
which, by the marks on the trees, appeared to be usually 
inundated, in the course of the summer, four to six feet 
by the back water of the river. The species are princi- 
pally Quercus lyrata, Q. macrocarpa (the over-cup oak); 
Q. phellos (the willow oak) ; Q. jalcata (the Spanish oak) ; 
and Q. palustris (the swamp oak) ; with some red and scar- 
let, as well as black and post oak on the knolls, or more 
elevated parts. In this swamp, I also observed the Nyssa 
aquatica, N. pubescens (Ogechee lime, the fruit being pre- 
pared as a conserve), as well as N. bi flora, and Gleditscia 
monosperma. After crossing this horrid morass, a de- 
lightful tract of high ground again occurs, over which the 
floods had never yet prevailed ; here the fields of the French 
settlers were already of a vivid green, and the birds were 
singing from every bush, more particularly the red bird 
(Loxia cardinalis), and the blue sparrow (Motacilla sialis). 
The ground appeared perfectly whitened with [72] the 
Alyssum bidentatum. The Viola bicolor, the Myosurus 
minimus of Europe, (probably introduced by the French 
settlers) and the Houstonia serpyllijolia of Michaux, (H. 
patens of Mr. Elliott) with bright blue flowers, were also 
already in bloom. After emerging out of the swamp, in 
which I found it necessary to wade about ankle deep, a 
prairie came in view, with scattering houses spreading 
over a narrow and elevated tract for about three miles 
parallel to the bend of the river. 

On arriving, I waited on Monsieur Bougie, ^^ one of the 
earliest settlers and principal inhabitants of the place, to 
whom I was introduced by letter. I soon found in him a 

" Probably Charles Bogy, as the name is given by later writers. He was a 
native of Kaskaskia, Illinois, who came to Arkansas Post with the federal troops 
which took possession in 1804. — Ed. 

I o6 Early Western Travels [Vol. 13 

gentleman, though disguised at this time in the garb of a 
Canadian boatman. He treated me with great politeness 
and respect, and, from the first interview, appeared to 
take a generous and active interest in my favour. Mon- 
sieur B. was by birth a Canadian, and, though 70 years of 
age, possessed almost the vigour and agility of youth. 
This settlement owes much to his enterprise and 

The town, or rather settlement of the Post of Arkansas," 
was somewhat dispersed over a prairie, nearly as elevated 
as that of the Chicasaw Bluffs, and containing in all 
between 30 and 40 houses. The merchants, then tran- 
sacting nearly all the business of the Arkansa and White 
river, were Messrs. Braham and Drope, Mr. Lewis, and 
Monsieur Notrebe,'* who kept well-assorted stores of 
merchandize, supplied chiefly from New Orleans, with 
the exception of some heavy articles of domestic manufac- 
ture obtained from Pittsburgh. Mr. Drope, to whom I 
was also introduced by letter, received me with politeness, 
and I could not but now for awhile consider myself as once 
more introduced into the circle of civilization. 

The improvement and settlement of this place pro- 
ceeded slowly, owing, in some measure, as I am informed, 
to the uncertain titles of the neighbouring [73] lands. 
Several enormous Spanish grants remained still unde- 
cided; that of Messrs. Winters, of Natchez, called for no 

" For a brief history of Arkansas Post, see Cuming's Tour, volxime iv of our 
series, note 195. — Ed. 

^' Of these merchants, Lewis may be the Eli I. Lewis who was clerk of 
Arkansas County from 1821-29. Local histories mention none of the others 
save the Frenchman, Frederick Noteribe. He took part in the French Revo- 
lution and was an army ofl&cer during the consulate, but left France when 
Napoleon became emperor. Coming to Arkansas about 1815 or 1818, he be- 
came a wealthy planter, being considered in the forties the most prominent man 
in the county. He died of cholera in 1849, at New Orleans. — Ed. 

i8i8-i82o] Nuttair s Journal 107 

less than one million of acres, but the congress of the 
United States, inclined to put in force a kind of agrarian 
law against such monopolizers, had laid them, as I was 
told, under the stipulation of settling upon this immense 
tract a certain number of families." 

The cotton produced in this neighbourhood, of a quality 
no way inferior to that of Red river, obtained this year 
from six to six and a half dollars per cwt. in the seed, 
and there were now two gins established for its prepara- 
tion, though, like every thing else, in this infant settle- 
ment of the poor and improvident, but little attention 
beyond that of absolute necessity, was as yet paid to any 
branch of agriculture. Nature has here done so much, 
and man so little, that we are yet totally unable to appre- 
ciate the value and resources of the soil. Amongst other 
kinds of grain, rice has been tried on a small scale, and 
found to answer every expectation. The price of this 
grain, brought from New Orleans, was no less than 25 to 
37I cents per lb. by retail. Under the influence of a cli- 
mate mild as the south of Europe, and a soil equal to that 
of Kentucky, wealth will ere long flow, no doubt, to the 
banks of the Arkansa. 

I again made application to the land speculators, trying 
to prevail upon them on any terms, to take up my baggage, 
as far as the Cadron, which would have enabled me imme- 

" The loose system pursued by the Spanish in making land grants caused 
much trouble after jurisdiction passed to the United States. In 1804 President 
Jefferson appointed commissioners to examine land titles in the newly-acquired 
territory, and considerable legislation resulted. Most of these large grants were 
finally invalidated (1847-48), on the ground of indefiniteness; among them, the 
Winter grant referred to in the text. This grant was made (1797) to EUsha, 
William, and Gabriel Winter, William Russell, and Joseph Sdllwell. Other 
large grants in the same region were made to Captain Don Joseph Valliere, on 
White River (1793); Don Carlos de Villemont, commandant of the post (1795); 
and Baron de Bastrop (1799). — Ed. 

io8 Early Western Travels [Vol. 13 

diately to proceed on my journey, across the great prairie, 
but they remained inexorable. 

23d.] To-day, I returned to Madame Gordon's, which, 
though only six miles distant by land, is not less than 15 
by water. I was now obliged more deeply to wade 
through the enswamped forests, which surround the 
habitable prairie lands, in consequence of the late rain. 
In these ponds, I am told, the Proteus [74] or Syren is oc- 
casionally met with. There are also alligators, though 
by no means numerous. 

24th.] This morning I again proceeded up the river 
with my flat boat, by the assistance of two French boat- 
men, full of talk, and, at first, but indifferently inclined 
to work; we succeeded, however, by night, to get to the 
third of the five sand-bars or bends, which intervene be- 
tween this place and the village of Arkansas. The follow- 
ing day in the evening, after a good deal of hard labour and 
wading, on my part, and that of the negro in my employ, 
we arrived at Monsieur Bougie's, and the next day I 
parted with a sort of regret from the boat, which, with all 
its difficulties, had afforded me, through the most incle- 
ment season of the year, no inconsiderable degree of com- 
fort and convenience. 

On the 26th, I proceeded with my baggage and property 
to the village in Monsieur Bougie's perogue, accompa- 
nied by one boatman. Near to the town, we grounded 
on the inner side of a recent, and still augmenting bar, 
and, after falling a little back, we crossed over, but here 
the current would not permit us to advance with the oars. 
The shore was high, and the water too deep for poles, so 
that we had again to attempt the side we had left; here, 
in drifting with velocity again on the bar, our fickle boat or 
canoe was so near overturning, notwithstanding our exer- 

i8i8-i82o] Nuttair s 'Journal 109 

tions, that, for a moment I considered every thing as lost ; 
getting out, however, into the water, we with some difficulty 
set the perogue afloat, and for safety dragged her along, 
up to our waists in water. The sand was here so move- 
able, as to bury our feet at every step. We at length suc- 
ceeded, and came to shore, under a bank 100 feet high, 
without any kind of practicable landing for merchandise, 
that of last year being now choked up with moving sand. 

In the meanest garb of a working boat-man, and [75] 
unattended by a single slave, I was no doubt considered, 
as I had probably been by the land speculators, one of 
the canaille, and I neither claimed nor expected attention ; 
my thoughts centered upon other objects, and all pride of 
appearance I willingly sacrificed to promote with frugality 
and industry the objects of my mission. 

An insignificant village, containing three stores, desti- 
tute even of a hatter, a shoe-maker, and a taylor, and con- 
taining about 20 houses, after an existence of near a cen- 
tury, scarcely deserved geographical notice, and will never 
probably flatter the industry of the French emigrants, 
whose habits, at least those of the Canadians, are gener- 
aUy opposed to improvement and regular industry. Dur- 
ing my stay, I took up my residence with Dr. M'Kay, 
and found in him an intelligent and agreeable companion; 
but such is the nationality of these ignorant people, that 
French quackery has hitherto been preferred to the ad- 
vice of a regular physician. Blanket capeaus, mocassins, 
and overalls of the same materials, are here, as in Canada, 
the prevailing dress; and men and women commonly wear 
a handkerchief on the head in place of hats and bonnets. 

28th.] This morning I accompanied the doctor to shoot 
wild geese, as they passed to a neighbouring lake, about 
two miles in the rear of the town. Here a vast prairie 

1 1 o Early Western Travels [Vol. 13 

opens to view, like a shorn desert, but well covered with 
grass and herbaceous plants. Over this vast plain, 
which proceeds a little to the west of north, computed 
to be not less than 30 leagues in length, by 10 to 15 in 
breadth, passes the road to the Cadron, and the settle- 
ments of Red river. 

Among other plants already in flower in these natural 
meadows, we saw abundance of a new and fragrant spe- 
cies of Allium with greenish- white flowers, and destitute 
of the characteristic odour of the genus in common with 
A. fragrans, to which it is allied. [76] The Houstonia 
serpyllifolia and Claytonia caroliniana were also in full 
bloom at this early season. 

February 3c?.] This afternoon I walked to Mr. Mose- 
ly's, six miles distant by land, and 15 by water. The 
prairie, in consequence of the late rains, appeared almost 
one continued sheet of water. I observed springing up, 
the Eryngium aquaticum, occasionally employed as a med- 
icine by the inhabitants, acting as a diuretic, and in larger 
doses proving almost emetic. Crossing the prairie, which 
is bordered with settlements, we entered the alluvial for- 
est, containing oak, hickory, box, elder {Acer negundo), 
elm, &c. nearer the river cotton-wood appears as usual. 
I saw here a prickly-ash {Zanthoxylion Clava Her cults), 
the size of an ordinary ash, but the same species as that 
of the southern states, and the bark proving equally effica- 
cious for allaying the tooth-ache. 

The first attempt at settlement on the banks of the 
Arkansa, was begun a few miles below the bayou which 
communicates with White river. An extraordinary inunda- 
tion occasioned the removal of the garrison to the borders 
of the lagoon near madame Gordon's, and, again dis- 

i8i8-i82o] Nuttair s 'Journal 1 1 1 

turbed by an overflow, they at length chose the present 
site of Arkansas. The first band of hunters who attempted 
to reside here, were, it is said, obhged to remove, in conse- 
quence of the swarms of rats, with which they found the 
country infested. These animals, which are native, differ 
specifically from the European species, are much larger, 
and commit the most serious depredations.*" 

[77] The poverty of the land in the immediate vicinity 
of this place, will probably operate as a perpetual barrier 
to its extension. The encroachments of the river upon the 
precipitous and friable bank in front of the town, and 
the enlargement of the ravines by which it is intersected, 
renders the site altogether precarious, and prevents the 
practicability of any thing like a convenient landing for 
merchandise. During the period of high water, however, 
the adjoining bayou, or channel of communication with 
a neighbouring lake, affords this convenience. 

The love of amusements, here, as in most of the French 
colonies, is carried to extravagance, particularly gambling, 

*" A much earlier settlement was made by Chevalier de Tonti, who, in 1685, 
proceeding from the fort of the Illinois, recently established, down to the mouth 
of the Mississippi, in order to second the unfortunate La Salle, and not finding 
him, ascended the river in order to return to his post. In his way he entered 
the Arkansa, and proceeded up to the village of that nation, with whom he 
made an alliance, and left 10 of his people, at their earnest request, to settle 
among them. This small party, occasionally augmented by the Canadians who 
descended the river, keeping on peaceable terms with the natives, and inter- 
marrying amongst them, continually maintained their ground, though rather 
by adopting the manners of the Indians, and becoming hunters, than by any 
regular industry or attention to the arts and conveniences of civilized life. 
Families of this mixed race are now scattered along the banks of the Arkansa, 
to the extremity of the present Quapaw reservation. 

Had the unfortunate grant of Mr. Law been carried into effect, which pro- 
posed to settle at, and round the present village of Arkansas, 9000 Germans 
from the Palatinate, we should now probably have witnessed an extensive and 
flourishing colony, in place of a wilderness, still struggling with all the privations 
of savage life. — Nuttall. 


1 1 2 Early Western Travels [Vol. 13 

and dancing parties or balls. But the sum of general 
industry is, as yet, totally insufficient for the support of 
any thing like a town. 

The houses, commonly surrounded with open galleries, 
destitute of glass windows, and perforated with numerous 
doors, are well enough suited for a summer shelter, but 
totally destitute of comfort in the winter. Without me- 
chanics, domestic conveniences and articles of dress were 
badly supplied at the most expensive rate. Provision 
produced in the country, such as beef and pork, did not 
exceed six cents per pound; but potatoes, onions, apples, 
flour, spirits, wine, and almost every other necessary 
article of diet, were imported at an enormous price, into 
a country which ought to possess every article of the kind 
for exportation to New Orleans. Such is the evil which 
may always be anticipated by forcing a town, like a garri- 
son, into being, previous to the existence of necessary 
[78] supplies. With a little industry, surely every person 
in possession of slaves might have, at least, a kitchen 
garden! but these Canadian descendants, so long nur- 
tured amidst savages, have become strangers to civilized 
comforts and regular industry. They must, however, in 
time give way to the introduction of more enterprising 

The enormous claim of Messrs. Winters, containing 
about a million of acres of this territory, and which will 
yet probably for some time remain undetermined, proves 
a considerable bar to the progress of the settlement. Be- 
sides a great portion of the neighbouring prairie, it em- 
braces much of the finest land on the northern border of 
the river, and continues for near one hundred miles along 
its bank. 

The great prairie of which we have already spoken, 

1818-1820] NuttalTs 'Journal i 1 3 

said to be 90 miles in length, contains an invaluable body 
of land, and, where sufficiently drained, which is pretty 
generally the case, except during the rains of winter, 
would produce most species of grain in abundance. As 
a pasture it is truly inexhaustible, though in the hottest 
months of summer occasionally deprived of water. 

The cattle throughout this country are generally left to 
provide for themselves, and suffered to range at large, ex- 
cepting such as are in domestic use. That they may not 
become entirely irreclaimable, they are now and then en- 
ticed to come up to the fold by a handful of salt, or a few 
ears of corn. No hay is provided for fodder, nor does it 
indeed appear necessary, except to assist in fattening for 
the stall, but this piece of economy, like almost every 
thing else which might promise comfort, is neglected, 
and the cattle are killed just as they are hunted up from 
the prairie or the cane-brake. It is from the prevalence 
of the cane, and the shave-rush {Equisetum hiemale), 
that the cattle are kept in tolerable condition, and often 
even fat, through the severest part of the winter. Indeed, 
at [79] this early, but perhaps uncommonly advanced 
season of the year (not yet the middle of February), 
there was already a few inches of green herbage, and 
only one night during this month have I seen any ice. 
The thermometer, towards noon, rises to 70°, and the 
peach and plum-trees, almost equally naturalized, have 
nearly finished blooming. The fig, however, unprotected 
by the shelter of a wall, though sufficiently vigorous, ap- 
pears every year to die down nearly to the ground. 
Grapes succeed so as to promise wine, but without the 
advantage of cellars it soon becomes subjected to the 
acetous fermentation. 

The sweet gum tree (Liquidambar styraciflua), which 

1 1 4 Rarly Western Travels [Vol. 13 

produces no resin in the northern states, where it is equally 
indigenous, here, as in Mexico and the Levant, exudes the 
odoriferous Storax of the shops. 

As to the breed of domestic animals, no selection of 
J those commonly raised has yet been attended to, nor any 
foreign ones introduced from parallel climates, so as to 
afford us any idea of the resources and conveniences 
which might here be brought into existence. The horned 
cattle increase and fatten without any labour or attention, 
more than the trouble of occasionally ascertaining their 
existence in the wilderness through which they are at 
liberty to roam without limit. It is in consequence of this 
unrestrained liberty, and the advantage of a perpetual 
supply of food, that the horse has become already natural- 
ized in the southern parts of this territory, and the adjoin- 
ing province of Spain. By this means, however, the 
domestic breed has been, in some respects considerably 
deteriorated; the horses of this country are rather small, 
though very hardy, and capable of subsisting entirely 
upon cane or grass, even when subjected to the hardest 
labour. They were commonly sold from 30 to 50 and 100 
dollars a piece, though paid for in the depreciated cur- 
rency of the country, bearing a discount of from 10 to 20 
per cent. 

[80] The singular temperature and general mildness of 
this climate, which may be presumed from a cursory in- 
spection of its flora and agriculture, and then again the 
occurrence of considerable frosts in the winter, are circum- 
stances which justly excite astonishment when we survey 
the same parallels of latitude in the transatlantic regions. 
Here, in the latitude of the Cape of Good Hope, in that of 
Sidon, and even south of Candia and Cyprus, with its 
groves of myrtle, near to the latitude of Madeira, and in 

1818-1820] Nuttair s 'Journal i 1 5 

that of the empire of Morocco, we find the fig annually lev- 
elled to the ground by frosts. Not even the low palmetto 
{Sabal minor) indigenous, consequently no prospect of 
naturalizing the date, so common in the same parallels of 
Africa; no olive, nor any well-grounded prospect of its 
success; wines, for which Madeira has so long been cele- 
brated (at least any of superior quality), appear also pro- 
scribed from this part of America. No evergreens of any 
description, except the holly, appear throughout the dreary 
forests. The north-western winds, sweeping over the 
arctic deserts of eternal winter, have extended the tempera- 
ture of northern Europe over all the regions of the United 
States, nearly to the very limits of the tropic. The cli- 
mate of Arkansas, scarcely elevated more than 5 or 600 
feet above the level of the sea, is not more ardent and less 
temperate than that of the south of France. 

For several miles in and round the town, the accumu- 
lation of low mounds or Indian graves, scattered with 
those fragments of pots, which were either interred or 
left on the graves with offers of food, by the affectionate 
friends of the deceased, mark the ancient residence of the 
natives. In one of the tumuli, on the bank towards the 
bayou, intersected by the falling away of the earth, a pot 
of this kind, still employed by the Chicasaws and other 
natives for boiling their victuals, had fallen out of the 
grave, and did not appear [81] to be of very ancient in- 
terment. Whether these monuments had been the slow 
accumulation of natural and casual mortality, or the sad 
remains of some overwhelming destruction, was now im- 
possible to determine. From the ashes of fires, and frag- 
ments of charcoal, besides the accompaniment of many 
indestructible weapons, utensils, and pots broken into 

1 1 6 Early Western Travels [Vol. 13 

fragments by force, I suspect that these mounds are merely 
incidental, arising from the demolition of the circular 
dwelling in which the deceased had been interred, a cus- 
tom which was formerly practised by the Natchez, Cher- 
okees, and other of the natives. Indeed, the sacrifices 
and offerings which the Indians formerly made to 
the manes of the deceased father, were sometimes almost 
ruinous to his family, though no longer blackened by the 
immolation of human victims. Father Charlevoix" re- 
lates, that stopping, as he descended the Mississippi, at a 
village of Ouyapes (or Wyapes), the same with the Qua- 
paws (or, as they call themselves, O-guah-pas), then living 
near the confluence of White river with the Mississippi, 
he found them in great distress from the ravages of the 
small-pox. Their burying-place appeared "like a forest 
of poles and posts newly set up, and on which there hung 
all manner of things: there is every thing which the savages 
use." The men and women both continued lamenting 
throughout the night, and repeating without ceasing, 
^^Nihahani, as the Illinois do, and in the same tone." 
A mother weeping over the grave of her son, poured upon 
it a great quantity of Sagamitty (or hominy). Another 
kindled a fire near one of the tombs, ®^ probably for the 
purpose of sacrificing food, as I have seen practised by 
the Pawnee-Rikasrees^^ of the Missouri. 

The aborigines of this territory, now commonly called 
Arkansas or Quapaws and Osarks, do not at this time 

" Pierre-FraiKjois-Xavier de Charlevoix (1682-1761) was admitted to the 
Jesuit order in 1698. In 1720 he went to Canada, ascended the St. Lawrence, 
crossed lUinois, and descended the Mississippi. Passing by the Gulf to St. 
Domingo, he returned to France in December, 1722, and as a result of his tour 
wrote an authoritative history of New France. — Ed. 

" Charlevoix's Historical Journal, p. 307, London Edition. — Nttttall. 

" The Arikara. See Bradbury's Travels, our volume v, note 76. — Ed. 

i8i8-i82o] Nutt all's Journal i 1 7 

number more than about 200 warriors.*^ They [82] were 
first discovered about the year 1685, by ChevaHer de 
Tonti.*^ From what source Father Charlevoix ascertains 

" The Quapaw belong to the Siouan family; the Omaha, Ponca, Osage, and 
Kansa being their nearest kindred. In prehistoric time, the Siouan stock 
dwelt east of the Mississippi. The five tribes mentioned constituted one nation, 
which dwelt near the Ohio River; the Illinois called them Arkansa. When, in 
the course of their migration westward, the Siouan tribes separated at the 
mouth of the Ohio, those who turned down the Mississippi became known as 
the Quapaw, meaning "the down-stream people." The rest, who went up 
the river, received the name Omaha, "those going against the current." See 
Dorsey, "Migrations of Siouan Tribes," in The American Naturalist, xx, p. 211. 

Notwithstanding Nuttall's account, the Quapaw are doubtless the same 
Indians whom De Soto encountered in this region. It is surprising that our 
author does not think of identifying them with the "Capaha" of La Vega. He 
may have been misled by the name "Pacaha," which he takes (see Appendix) 
from the "Gentleman of Elvas" and Biedma (see post, note 87). The seat of 
the Quapaw in De Soto's time is variously placed, by modern students, on the 
Red, White, St. Francis, and Mississippi rivers; but it is agreed that, roughly 
speaking, their territory was the lower Arkansas valley. In the early days of 
French exploration, they were still partly east of the Mississippi. 

The Quapaw lands were purchased by treaties in 1818 and 1824 (see post 
note 102), and the tribe was removed during the winter of 1825-26 to a reserva- 
tion in the extreme northeast comer of Indian Territory. At that time it num- 
bered 158 men, 123 women, and 174 children; the present population is about 
275, an^ the tribe is practically civilized. — Ed. 

'* Henri de Tonty (Italian form, Tonti) was the son of an Italian refugee at 
Paris. The father was the originator of the form of life insurance known from 
the inventor as tontine. In 1678 Henri sailed from Rochelle with La Salle, and 
with him (1682) descended the Mississippi. After this expedition, Tonty re- 
turned to the Illinois and was there engaged in the fur-trade until 1702. In 
1686, hearing of La Salle's ill-fated attempt to found a colony on the Texas 
coast, he sought in vain to find him with a relief party. (See Cuming's Tour, 
volume iv of our series, note 195.) In 1702 he joined D'Iberville in lower 
Louisiana, and his subsequent career is unknown. Tonty having lost a hand 
by the explosion of a grenade in the Sicilian wars, wore in place of the lost mem- 
ber a metal hand covered with a glove, which on several occasions he used to 
good purpose on disorderly Indians, gaining their regard as great ' ' medicine." 

Nuttall is in error in assigning the first visit of Tonty to the Quapaw to the 
year 1685. La Salle and his followers ascended the Arkansas in March, 1682, 
and in the open space in the midst of the Quapaw village raised a cross bearing 
the arms of France, taking formal possession of the country in the name of their 
king. The oflScial report of this occurrence was dated March 13-14, 1682. 
See document in Margry, Decouverles el Etablissements des Franfais (Paris, 

I I 8 Early Western Travels [Vol. 13 

that they were very numerous in the time of Ferdinand 
de Soto, I am unable to learn. In the abridged relation 
of this expedition by Purchas,^® I cannot possibly discover 
any thing relating to them. The people of Quigaute 
must have occupied a country not far from the Arkansa, 
and are said by La Vega*^ to have been numerous and 
powerful, but that they were the same people as the Ar- 
kansas or O-guah-pas, seems by no means probable. 
From their own tradition it does not appear that they 
were visited by the whites previous to the arrival of La 
Salle; they say, that many years had elapsed before they 
had any interview with the whites, whom they had only 
heard of from their neighbours. 

In a council held with the Quapaws some years ago, con- 

1877), ii, p. 181. For a secondary account, see Parkman, La Salle (Boston, 
1892), index. In 1686, as Tonty ascended the Mississippi after his vain search 
for La Salle, he visited the Arkansas village and left six men to hold a post. 
Nuttall seems to have confused the two visits. — Ed. 

*° Samuel Purchas, bom in Essex about 1575, attempted to continue the 
work of Hakluyt, and collected numerous MSS. in addition to those left to him 
by the latter. Several editions of Hakluytus Posthumus; or Purchas, his pil- 
grimes, were published in London, the best being that of 1626. The abstracts 
of the journals printed are imperfect, for Purchas in his editorial work was 
neither accurate nor judicious. Most of the material is now accessible in better 
editions; but Purchas's collection still has value for the student, because it con- 
tains some accounts not recorded elsewhere. Volumes iii and iv deal with 
America; the account of De Soto's explorations is in volume iv. — Ed. 

" Garcilaso Inca de la Vega, bom at Cuzco about 1540, was the son of a 
member of an illustrious Spanish family and on his mother's side was of the 
Peruvian blood royal. His history of Peru is the chief original ancient authority, 
and includes a narrative of De Soto's explorations, based, it is said, on the account 
given him by a soldier who took part in the expedition. It is one of the three 
important sources of our information regarding De Soto's wanderings. The 
others are, the narrative by the "Gentleman of Elvas," who was a Portuguese 
adventurer in De Soto's company, and that of Biedma, a Spanish factor on the 
expedition. For a critical discussion of the value of these sources, see Hakluyt 
Society Publications, ix, introduction; this volume contains Hakluyt's transla- 
tion of the account of the "Gentleman of Elvas" (London, 185 1). — Ed. 

1818-1820] Nuttair s 'Journal i 1 9 

ceming the boundaries of the lands which they claimed, 
a very old chieftain related to the agent, that at a very re- 
mote period his nation had descended the Mississippi, 
and after having proceeded in one body to the entrance of 
a large and muddy river (the Missouri), they had there 
divided, one party continuing down the Mississippi, and 
the other up the miry river. The descending band were 
checked in their progress by the Kaskaskias,^^ whose oppo- 
sition they at length subdued. In their further descent 
they were harassed by the Chicasaws and Choctaws, and 
waged war with them for some considerable time, but, at 
length, overcoming all opposition, they obtained the banks 
of the Arkansa, where they have remained ever since. 
Some of them, reverting apparently to the period of crea- 
tion, say, that they originally emerged out of the water, 
but made many long and circuitous journeys upon that 
element, previous to their arrival on the banks of this river. 

As their language scarcely differs from that of the 
Osages, Kanzas, Mahas, and Poncas of the Missouri, it 
is presumable that these sprung from the band [83] which 
ascended the Missouri. They say, they remained separ- 
ated from a knowledge of each other for many years, 
until mutually discovered on a hunting party, taking each 
other at first for enemies, till assured to the contrary by 
both uttering the same language. 

They bear an unexceptionally mild character, both 
amongst the French and Americans, having always ab- 
stained, as they say, from offering any injury to the whites. 
Indeed, to do them justice, and to prove that this opinion 
concerning them is no modem prejudice, I cannot do less 

*' On the Kaskaskia Indians, see Andre Michaux's Travels, in our volume iii, 
note 132. — Ed. 

I20 Early Western Travels [Vol.13 

than quote the testimony of Du Pratz,^' made about a cen- 
tury ago. Speaking of the Arkansa territory, he adds, 
' 'I am so prepossessed in favour of this country, that I 
persuade myself the beauty of the cHmate has a great 
influence on the character of the inhabitants, who are at 
the same time very gentle, and very brave. They have 
ever had an inviolable friendship for the French, unin- 
fluenced thereto, either by fear or views of interest; and 
live with them as brethren, rather than as neighbours."®" 
They say, that in consequence of their mildness and love 
of peace, they have been overlooked by the Americans; 
that they are ready enough to conciliate by presents those 
who are in danger of becoming their enemies, but neglect 
those who are their unchangeable friends. 

The complexion of the Quapaws, like that of the Choc- 
taws and Creeks, is dark, and destitute of any thing like 
the cupreous tinge. The symmetry of their features, 
mostly aquiline, often amounts to beauty, but they are not 
to be compared in this respect to the O sages, at least those 
of them which now remain. Charlevoix says, ''The 
Akansas (as he calls them) are reckoned to be the tallest 
and best shaped of all the savages of this continent, and 
they are called, by way of distinction, the jine meny I 
question, however, whether this epithet is not similar to 

*' Le Page Du Pratz went to Louisiana in 1718 with a colony of eight hundred 
men sent out by John Law's West India Company. He was a planter there for 
sixteen years, and travelled extensively through the territory, being overseer of 
the public plantations under the Company, also after the crown resumed control. 
The French original of his History of Louisiana appeared in 1758, being Eng- 
lished and published in London in 1763; second edition 1764. — Ed. 

*" Du Pratz, History of Louisiana, p. 61. — Nuttall. 

Comment by Ed. Father Zenobe Membre, a Recollect friar in La Salle's 
Company, reported to his superior: "I cannot tell you the civility and kindness 
we received from these barbarians. . . They are so well formed that we 
were in admiration at their beauty." See Parkman, La Salle, p. 279. 

1818-1820] Nuttair s 'Journal 1 2 1 

that of the [84] Illinois, and the Llenilenape, or ' 'original 
and genuine men," as it is translated, of the Delawares." 
The name of Akansa or Arkansa, if ever generally as- 
sumed by the natives of this territory, is now, I am per- 
suaded, scarcely ever employed; they generally call them- 
selves O-guah-pa or Osark, from which last epithet, in 
all probability, has beer, derived the name of the river ^ 
and its people; indeed, I have heard old French residents 
in this country, term it Riviere des Arks or d' Osark. 

They employ artificial means to eradicate that pubes- 
cence from their bodies, which is, indeed, naturally scanty. 
The angle of the eye is usually elongated, but never turned 
up exteriorly, as it is said, in common with the Tartars, 
by Humboldt, to be the case with the Mexicans. 

Although they may be said to be taciturn, compared with 
Frenchmen, their passions are not difficult to excite. 

As hunters, they are industrious, but pay little atten- 
tion to agriculture; and pleased by intercourse with the 
whites, they are not unwilling to engage as boatmen and 

About a century ago, father Charlevoix describes the 
Arkansas as occupying four villages; that which he visited 
was situated on the bank of the Mississippi, in a little 
meadow, which was (in 1819) M'Lane's landing, the only 
contiguous spot free from inundation. The people called 
Akansas by this author, were then made up of the confed- 
erated remnants of ruined tribes. The villages which he 

*' Various interpretations of the meaning of Lenno Lenapi have been given. 
Lenno means genuine or real, and Lenapi signifies male. The combination 
denoted a race of eminent antiquity, valor, and wisdom, and may best, perhaps, 
be rendered in English as "manly men." The character thus boastfully as- 
cribed to themselves by the Delawares was apparently confirmed by the name 
"grandfather" applied to them by kindred tribes- Illini is the Illinese equiva- 
lent of Lenno. See Schoolcraft, History, Condition and Prospects of the Indian 
Tribes (Philadelphia, 1851-57), v, p. 1360; vi, p. 177. — Ed. 

122 Early Western Travels [Vol.13 

visited, called themselves Ouyapes, evidently the 0-guah- 
pa. On the Arkansa, six miles from the landing, there 
was a second village, consisting of the Torimas and Topin- 
gas. Six miles higher were the Sothouis, and a little 
further was the village of the Kappas;®^ these are again 
the same people as the Quapaws or 0-guah-pas. 

[85] In the time of Du Pratz, the Arkansas had all re- 
tired up the river of this name, and were living about 
twelve miles from the entrance of White river. They 
were still said to be pretty considerable in numbers, and 
had been joined by the Kappas, the Michigamias,^^ and 
a part of the Illinois. He likewise remarks, that they 
were no less distinguished as warriors than hunters, and 
that they had succeeded in intimidating the restless and 
warlike Chicasaws.^^ Indeed, the valour and the friend- 
ship of the Arkansas is still gratefully remembered by the 
Canadians and their descendants, and it is much to be re- 
gretted that they are making such evident approaches 
towards total destruction. The brave manner in which 
they opposed the Chicasaws, has long ensured them the 
quiet possession of their present country. Among the 
most extraordinary actions which they performed against 
those perfidious Indians, is the story which has been re- 
lated to me by major Lewismore Vaugin,^^ one of the 
most respectable residents in this territory. The Chica- 
saws, instead of standing their ground, were retreating 
before the Quapaws, whom they had descried at a distance. 

'^ Charlevoix, Hist. p. 306, 307. Lond. Ed. — Nuttall. 

*' Michigamies was the name given by the French to several tribes of Algon- 
quian stock who lived on Lake Michigan. The designation sometimes in- 
cluded the Mascoutin, or Fire-Indians, and the Illinese.^See Croghan's Jour- 
nals, volume i of our series, note in . — Ed. 

•* Du Pratz, Hist. Louisiana, p. 318. — Nuttall. 

•^ See -post, note no. — Ed. 

1818-1820] NuttalPs Journal 123 

in consequence of the want of ammunition. The latter 
understanding the occasion, were determined to obviate 
the excuse, whether real or pretended, and desired the 
Chicasaws to land on an adjoining sand-beach of the 
Mississippi, giving them the unexpected promise of 
supplying them with powder for the contest. The chief 
of the Quapaws then ordered all his men to empty their 
powder-horns into a blanket, after which, he divided the 
whole with a spoon, and gave the half to the Chicasaws. 
They then proceeded to the combat, which terminated in 
the killing of 10 Chicasaws, and the loss of five prisoners, 
with the death of a single Quapaw. 

I am informed, that it is a custom of the Quapaws, after 
firing the first volley, to throw aside their guns, and make 
a charge with their tomahawks. 

[86] The treacherous Osages, to whom they are natu- 
rally allied by the ties of consanguinity, at one period 
claimed the assistance of the Quapaws, with the secret 
intention of betraying them to destruction. Arriving near 
the scene of action, and discovering, as was said, the 
encampment of the supposed enemy, the Osages parted 
from their friends, under pretence of ambuscading the 
enemy. Their conduct, however guarded, had not, it 
seems, been sufficient to remove the suspicions of the wary 
leader of the Quapaws, who now concerted measures of 
security. The Quapaws made their fires as usual, but 
secretly left them, in order to watch the motions of the 
Osages, who, as it had been suspected, crept up to their 
encampment in the dead of night, and fired a volley near 
the fires, not doubting but they had destroyed those who 
had seemingly confided in their friendship. But at this 
instant, the Quapaws, sufficiently prepared, arose from 
their concealment, and exercised a just chastisement on 
the traitors. 

1 24 Early Western Travels [Vol. 13 

The social regulations, as well as the superstitions and 
ideas of the supernatural entertained by the Quapaws, 
are no way materially distinct from those which are prac- 
tised by their eastern and northern neighbours. The 
most simple testimonies of attachment, without the aid 
of solemn vows, are thought sufficient to complete a con- 
jugal felicity, which, where all are equal, in wealth and 
property, can only be instigated through the desire of 
personal gratification or mutual attachment, and can but 
seldom be attended with that coldness and disgust, which 
is but too common, where this sacred tie is knit by avarice. 
Neither is this contract controlled by any unnatural and 
overruling policy. The obligation to decorum and the 
essential ties of society are not abandoned by the Indian, 
in consequence of his being freed from that perpetual re- 
straint, which appears to have been requisite in civilized 
society. The father can recall his daughter from [87] 
the habitation of one who has rendered himself odious to 
his child. The husband can abandon the wife who has 
made herself obnoxious to his house and family. They 
are only united by the bonds of mutual esteem and recip- 
rocal friendship ; they will, of course, endeavour to deserve 
it of each other, as affording a gratification to themselves, 
no less than to their parents and relatives. 

As the marriage is never ostentatious, or strictly cere- 
monious, so its disavowal, when not induced by any thing 
flagrant, is not a matter to alarm the repose of society. 
The male children go with the father, the females attend 
upon the mother. Children, however begotten, are dear 
to a society ever on the brink of extermination. 

That any ceremonies, more than the celebration of a 
frugal and sober feast, are constantly practised by any of 
the natives of this country, is much more than can be satis- 

i8i8-i82o] NuttalV s 'Journal 1 25 

factorily proved. Among the Quapaws, I have been in- 
formed, that the husband, on the consummation of his 
marriage, presents his wife with the leg of a deer, and she, 
in return, offers him an ear of maize, both of which are so 
many symbols of that provision against the calls of neces- 
sity, which they are mutually accustomed to provide.^® 

The young and unmarried women of the Quapaws, 
according to a custom equally prevalent among many 
other tribes of Indians, wear their hair braided up into 
two parts, brought round to either ear in a cylindric form, 
and decorated with beads, wampum, or silver. After 
marriage these locks are all unfolded, the decorations laid 
aside for her daughters, and her hair, brought together 
behind in a single lock, becomes no longer an assiduous 
object of ornament. According to the History of the 
Costume of all Nations, this manner of braiding the hair 
appears to have been equally prevalent among the women 
of [88] Siberia, Tartary, Turkey, and China. As an ex- 
pression of the greatest grief and misfortune, anciently 
practised by many other nations of the world, I have, 
amongst the aborigines of the Missouri, not unfrequently 
seen both men and women shave away their hair. It is 
not, however, I believe, practised by the Indians of the 
Mississippi, nor among the Quapaws and Osages. 

The ideas of supernatural agency, entertained by the 
Arkansas, are very similar to those which prevail among 
the natives of the Missouri. Every family, for example, 
chooses its penates, or guardian spirit, from among those 
various objects of creation which are remarkable for their 
sagacity, their utility, or power. Some will perhaps choose 
a snake, a buffaloe, an owl, or a raven ; and many of them 

" A ceremony similar to this, was also, according to Adair, practised among 
the Creeks. — Nuttall. 

126 Early Western Travels [Vol. 13 

venerate the eagle to that degree, that if one of those birds 
should happen to be killed during any expedition, the 
whole party immediately return home. The large feathers 
of the war-eagle, which they consider talismanic, are some- 
times distributed throughout the nation, as sacred presents, 
which are expected to act as sovereign charms to those who 
wear them. 

The cure of diseases, though sometimes attempted with 
rational applications, is not unfrequently sought, among 
the Quapaws, and many other natives of the continent, 
in charms and jugglery. 

As to the future state, in which they are firm believers, 
their ideas are merely deduced from what they see around 
them. Their heaven for hunters is at least as rational as 
that of some of our own fanatics. 

For some considerable time after the interment of a 
warrior and hunter, his grave is frequented with provision, 
which, if still remaining, after a reasonable lapse of time, 
is considered as a sure presage that the deceased has arrived 
at a bountiful hunting ground, and needs no further supply 
from the earth. 

The Quapaws, though no greater proficients in music 
than the rest of the Indians, have, however, [89] songs 
appropriated to love, to death, and to battle, but which are 
merely so many simultaneous effusions of the heart, ac- 
companied by rude and characteristic airs and dances. 

It is hardly necessary to detail the dress of the Arkansas, 
which scarcely, to my view, in any respect, differs from 
that of the Delawares, Shawnees, or Chipeways. Its 
component parts are, as usual, mocasins for the feet; leg- 
gings which cover the leg and thigh; a breech-cloth; an 
overall or hunting shirt, seamed up, and slipped over the 
head; all of which articles are made of leather, softly 

1818-1820] Nutt all's 'Journal 1 27 

dressed by means of fat and oily substances, and often 
rendered more durable by the smoke with which they are 
purposely imbued. The ears and nose are adorned with 
pendents, and the men, as among many other Indian tribes, 
and after the manner of the Chinese, carefully cut away the 
hair of the head, except a lock on the crown, which is 
plaited and ornamented with rings, wampum, and 
feathers. Many of them, in imitation of the Canadian 
French, wear handkerchiefs around their heads, but in 
the manner of a turban. Some have also acquired the 
habit of wearing printed calicoe shirts next to the skin. 

The younger Indians, as I am informed, notwithstanding 
the neglect of renewing their dress, are so partial to cleanli- 
ness of the skin, that they practice bathing both winter and 


Departure from Arkansas — Indian villages — Mooney's 
settlement — Curran's settlement — Interview with the 
Quapaw chief — The Pine Bluffs — Soil, climate, and 
productions — The Little Rock — Roads — Mountains 
— Vegetation — The Mamelle — Cadron settlement — 
Tumuli — Soil and climate — Pecannerie settlement — 
Mountains — Cherokees — The Magazine mountain — 
Dardanelle settlement — Manners and customs of the 
Cherokees — Their war with the Osages. 

From Arkansas to the Cadron, a distance of about 300 
miles by water, I now understood there existed a consider- 
able line of settlements along the north border of the river, 
and that the greatest uninhabited interval did not exceed 
30 miles. Though the spring was premature, and the 
weather still subject to uncomfortable vicissitudes, the 

'^ For an exhaustive account of the customs of the kindred Omaha, see 
Dorsey, "Omaha Sociology," in Report of Bureau of Ethnology, 1881-82, iii, 
pp. 205-370.— Ed. 

128 Early Western Travels [Vol.13 

want of society and of employment induced me to embrace 
the earliest opportunity of continuing my journey into the 
interior of the territory, where I hoped to find additional 
employment and gratification in my researches connected 
with natural history. For this purpose I again embarked 
on the river in a large skiff, which was proceeding to the 
Baird's-town settlement ;^^ but as most of our company 
were fond of whiskey, the only beverage in the country, ex- 
cept water or milk, it was difficult to get them parted 
from their companions and conversation; however, after 
many efforts to make a start, we at last got off, though 
merely to make one or two miles, so as to be disengaged, 
at any rate, for the morning. Our encampment was a 
sand-bar or beach, skirted by willows, and though in itself 
a situation by no means interesting, yet far from disagree- 
able [91] to him who can enjoy the simple fare of the 
hunter, and the calm and unsullied pleasures of nature. 

On the following day {February the 27th) we proceeded 
about 21 miles, or seven points up the river, and in some 
places against a current of considerable velocity, which 
had been augmented by a southern freshet, communicating 
a muddiness and chocolate-brown colour to the stream. 
In the evening, to avoid the attacks of musquitoes, we 
again chose a sand-beach for our place of encampment. 

In the course of the day we passed the outlet of the 
bayou, or rather river, Meta,^^ which diagonally traverses 
the Great Prairie, also two Indian villages on the south 
bank, which continues to be the Quapaw line as far as the 

" Beards Town appears in Finley's Atlas of 1826 just west of Little Meto 
Creek, thirty-five or forty miles above the Post, but it disappears from later 
maps. Beards Town was opposite the modern village of Heckatoo. — Ed. 

** Big Bayou Meto is the first important northern tributary of the Arkansas. 
It now forms part of the boundary between Jefferson and Arkansas counties. 
Little Bayou Meto is a few miles farther up. — Ed. ;j; 

i8i8-i82o] NuttaW s 'Journal 1 29 

Little Rock. The first was the periodical residence of a 
handful of Choctaws, the other was occupied by the 
Quapaws. On this side of the river there appeared to be 
considerable bodies of very fertile land elevated above 

The peach-trees, now in bloom, were considerably dis- 
seminated beyond the immediate precincts of the Indian 
villages, and seemed to be almost naturalized, but, in 
common even with the wild fruits of the country, they are 
occasionally robbed of fruit by the occurrence of unsea- 
sonable frosts. 

On the 28th, after ascending about 13 miles, we arrived 
at the settlement begun by colonel Mooney,^°° consisting 
of three or four families. I was here very hospitably enter- 
tained by Mr. Davison. Near this house, and about 200 
yards from the river, there was a fine lake of clear water, 
of considerable extent, communicating with the river by 
a bayou, which enters a few miles below. Its bed 
appeared to be firm and sandy. The neighbouring land 
was of a superior quality, either for corn or cotton, but all 
conditionally held on the uncertain claim of Messrs. 
Winters. Notwithstanding the extent of inundated lands, 
the climate was considered unusually healthy, and the 
[92] soil, with but little labour, capable of insuring a com- 
fortable independence to the cultivator. 

March ist.] This morning a slight white frost was 
visible, though, yesterday and the day before, the ther- 
mometer rose, at noon, to 70°, and the Red-bud (Cercis 
canadensis) was commonly in flower. We proceeded 
about 10 miles, and encamped opposite to an island; the 

"" Daniel Mooney was one of the earliest settlers in Arkansas after the 
cession to the United States. His name appears on the records of Arkansas 
County as early as 1804. In 18 14 he was appointed sheriff by William Clark, 
then governor of Missouri Territory, of which Arkansas was still a part. — Ed. 

130 Early Western Travels [Vol. 13 

water now falling as rapidly as it had risen. Leaving the 
boat, and walking through the woods, I was surprised to 
find myself inadvertently at the Quapaw village we had 
passed yesterday, situated upon a small prairie, constitut- 
ing the isthmus of a tongue of land, which, six or seven 
miles round, was here scarcely half a mile across. En- 
deavouring now to obtain a nearer route to the river, 
than that of returning by the path, I found myself in a 
horrid cane-brake, interlaced with brambles, through 
which I had to make my way as it were by inches. The 
delay I thus experienced created alarm among my compan- 
ions, who fired three guns to direct me to the spot where 
they waited, and where I soon arrived, pretty well tired of 
my excursion. 

2d.] A slight frost appeared again this morning. We 
proceeded slowly, passing in the course of the day three 
points of land, one of which was about six miles, the others 
three each, and in the evening encamped a mile below 
Morrison's bayou. Nearly opposite to this stream there 
was another village of the Quapaws, containing about 15 
cabins, and called, by the French, ville de Grand Barbe, 
from their late chief, who, contrary to the Indian custom, 
wore a long beard. It stands on the edge of the forest, 
surrounded by good land, and elevated above the over- 

3d.] To-day we arrived at Curran's settlement, consist- 
ing of six families, who had chosen for their residence a 
body of very superior land. From 1000 to 1500 pounds of 
cotton have been produced upon the acre, and of a staple 
no way inferior to that of Red [93] river. As to maize, it 
is as luxuriant as possible. But what most recommended 
this settlement, in my estimation, was the unequivocal 
appearance of health and plenty. We landed for the 

i8i8-i82o] Nuttair s "Journal 1 3 1 

night nearly opposite what is called the Old River, four 
miles above Curran's, an elliptic curve of the river, 11 
miles in circuit, cut ofif at the isthmus in the course of a 
single night, as was witnessed by a French trader en- 
camped on the spot, who fled in terror from the scene of 
devastation. On the borders of this bend, now become a 
lake, and which explains the origin of similar bodies of 
water along this river, there were three families now 

4th.] The middle of the day, and early part of the after- 
noon, felt warm and sultry as summer. About noon I 
arrived at the cabin of Mr. Joseph Kirkendale, four miles 
above the cut-off in the river, where I tasted nearly the 
first milk and butter which I had seen since my arrival 
on the banks of the Arkansa. This farm, like those below 
on Old River, was situated upon a small and insulated 
prairie or open and elevated meadow, about 15 miles 
from the Great Prairie. The drought which was experi- 
enced last summer throughout this territory, proved, in 
many places, nearly fatal to the crops of com and cotton, 
so that the inhabitants were now under the necessity of 
importing maize for provision, at the rate of one dollar 
and a quarter per bushel. 

At Mr. Kirkendale's I had an interview with the prin- 
cipal chief of the Quapaws, who landed here on his way 
down the river. His name, to me unintelligible, was Ha- 
kat-ton (or the dry man)}^^ He was not the hereditary 
chief, but received his appointment as such, in conse- 
quence of the infancy of the children of the Grand Barbe. 

'"' The name of this chief is preserved in the village of Heckatoo. Heckatoo 
(Heketon, in correspondence of Indian agent) removed with his tribe to Indian 
Territory and died there. His successor was a half-breed named Sarrasin, who 
in his old age returned to his native country, and persuaded Governor William 
F. Pope (1829-35) t^o allow him to die in his former home. — Ed. 

132 Early Western Travels [Vol.13 

His appearance and deportment were agreeable and pre- 
possessing, his features aquiline and symmetrical. Being 
told that I had journeyed a great distance, almost from the 
borders of the great lake of salt water, to see the country 
of the Arkansa, [94] and observing the attention paid to 
me by my hospitable friend, he, in his turn, showed me 
every possible civility, returned to his canoe, put on his 
uniform coat, and brought with him a roll of writing, 
which he unfolded with great care, and gave it me to read. 
This instrument was a treaty of the late cession and pur- 
chase of lands from the Quapaws, made the last autumn, 
and accompanied by a survey of the specified country. 
The lines of this claim, now conceded for the trifling sum 
of 4000 dollars in hand, and an annuity of a thousand 
dollars worth of goods, pass up White river, until a south 
line intersects the Canadian river of Arkansa, then con- 
tinuing along the course of this river to its sources, after- 
wards down Red river to the great Raft, and thence in a 
north-east direction to point Chicot, on the Mississippi, 
and so in a north-west line to the place of commencement, 
near White river. Their reservation (situated exclusively 
on the south bank of the Arkansa) commences at the post 
or town of Arkansas, and continues up that river to the 
Little Rock, thence in a southern direction to the Washita, 
which continues to be the boundary, to a line intersect- 
ing the place of commencement. To this deed were added 
the names of no less than 13 chiefs. This tract contains 
probably more than 60,000 square miles. Such are the 
negociating conquests of the American republic, made 
almost without the expense of either blood or treasure I^"* 

i*" This treaty was signed by William Clark and Augusta Chouteau, conunis- 
sioners for the United States, on August 24, 1818, and ratified by the Senate 
December 23. Nuttall does not give the boundaries quite correctly. The 

1818-1820] N utt air s 'Journal 133 

Hakatton informed us, that he had lately returned 
from the garrison, where, in concert with a fellow chief 
and the commander, they had succeeded in rescuing from 
bondage some unfortunate prisoners and females of the 
Caddoes,^"^ of whom about 15 or 20 had been killed by 
the Osages. The former reside on the banks of Red river, 
into whose territory the Osages occasionally carry their 
depredations. This chief warned me from trusting my- 
self alone amongst the [95] Osages, who, if they spared 
my life, would, in all probability, as they had often done 
to the hunters, strip me naked, and leave me to perish for 
want. But in his nation, he took a pride in assuring me, 
if I was found destitute, I should be relieved to the best 
of their ability, and conducted, if lost, to the shelter of 
their habitations, where the stranger was always welcome. 
His late journey to the seat of government, appeared to 
have inspired him with exalted ideas of the wealth and 
power of civilized society. 

To my inquiries, respecting the reputed origin of the 
O-guah-pas,^"^ he answered candidly, that he was igno- 

cession line passed up the Arkansas and the Canadian Fork to the source, 
thence south to Red River, and down its middle to the "Big Raft," thence 
directly to a spot on the Mississippi thirty leagues in a straight Une below the 
mouth of the Arkansas. All claims to lands north of the Arkansas and east of 
the Mississippi were also abandoned. The reservation, l)ang within the limits 
specified, was bounded by a line running due southwest from Arkansas Post to 
the Ouachita, thence up the river and the Sahne Fork to a point directly south- 
west from Little Rock, from that point to Little Rock, and down the right bank 
of the Arkansas to the point of beginning. See A merican State Papers: Indian 
A flairs, ii, p. 165. This reservation was ceded by the treaty of November 15, 
1824. — Ed. 

'"^ The name is a corruption of kd-ede, meaning chief. There are three 
groups of the Caddo family; the northern is represented by the Arikara of 
North Dakota; the middle, principally by the Pawnee of southern Nebraska; 
and the southern, by the Caddo, Wichita, Kichai, and other tribes. The home 
of the southern group included southwestern Arkansas, eastern Texas, and 
most of Louisiana. — Ed. 

'"^ Another name for the Quapaw. See ante, p. 122. — Ed. 

134 Early Western Travels [Vol. 13 

rant of the subject; and that the same question had been 
put to him at St. Louis, by governor Clarke. ^"^ 

This morning I observed the wife of the chief, preparing 
for her family a breakfast from the nuts of the Cyamus 
(or Nelumbium). They are first steeped in water, and 
parched in sand, to extricate the kernels, which are after- 
wards mixed with fat, and made into a palatable soup. 
The tubers of the root, somewhat resembling batatas or 
sweet potatoes, when well boiled, are but little inferior 
to a farinaceous potatoe, and are penetrated internally 
and longitudinally, with from five to eight cavities or cells. 

5th.] We were again visited by the Quapaw chief, who 
appeared to be very sensible and intelligent, though much 
too fond of whiskey. I took an opportunity to inquire of 
him, whether the Quapaws considered smoking as in any 
way connected with their religion, to which he answered, 
that they merely regarded it as a private gratification or 
luxury; but that the Osages smoked to God, or to the sun, 
and accompanied it by a short apostrophe: as, ''Great 
Spirit, deign to smoke with me, as a friend ! fire and earth, 
smoke with me, and assist me to destroy mine enemies, 
the Caddoes, Pawnees, Mahas, &c. ! my dogs and horses, 
smoke also with me!" 

Among the most remarkable superstitious ceremonies 

*"* William Clark, the brother of George Rogers Clark, who conquered the 
Northwest during the Revolutionary War, and the associate of Meriwether 
Lewis on the famous transcontinental expedition of 1803-06, was bom in Vir- 
ginia in 1770. He entered the army in 1792, and shared in several Western 
campaigns, notably that of Wayne in 1794-95. In 1796 he left the service on 
account of ill health, and became a hunter and trapper. After the expedition 
to the Pacific coast, Clark was stationed at St. Louis as Indian agent and 
brigadier-general of miHtia. In 1813 he became governor of the Missouri 
Territory, which at first included Arkansas. Upon the admission of Missouri 
to statehood, he was appointed superintendent of Indian affairs, and remained 
at St. Louis in this capacity until his death, in 1838. — Ed. 

i8i8-iS2o] NtitialTs Journal 135 

[96] practised by the Quapaws, is that which I now found 
corroborated by Hakatton. Before commencing the 
corn-planting, a lean dog is selected by the squaws, as a 
sacrifice to the Indian Ceres, and is, with terrific yells and 
distorted features, devoured alive. This barbarous cere- 
mony, which we derided, he assured us gravely, was con- 
ducive to the success of the ensuing crop. After the har- 
vest of the maize, and subsequent to the Green-corn 
Dance, they have also a succession of dances and feasts, 
which they support like our Christmas mummers, by 
going round and soliciting contributions. 

The Quapaws are indeed slaves to superstition, and 
many of them live in continual fear of the operations of 
.supernatural agencies. 

On the 7th, we proceeded to Mr. Morrison' s,^^ a few 
miles distant, but did not accomplish it until the succeed- 
ing morning, in consequence of the prevalence of a violent 
storm from the south-west. 

On the 8th, I remained at Mr. Morrison's farm, agree- 
ably situated on a small prairie, contiguous to the river, 
surrounded with an extensive body of good land, contin- 
uing a considerable distance from the bank. These small 
prairies often appear to have been the sites of ancient 
Indian stations. 

A number of Quapaw canoes passed down the river, 
and several drunken Indians, accompanied by Paspatoo, 

'* Few settlers had entered this region prior to Nuttall's journey, and most 
of these were thinly scattered along the river. Many of the English names 
which Nuttall mentions on the following pages are those of men who had settled 
on the river, in Jefferson County, during the year or two preceding his %isit. 
Morrison was on the south bank. The Dardennes, or Dardennis, and the 
Masons, mentioned below, were on the north side. — Ed. 

136 Earfy Western Travels [Vol. 13 

their chief, now 75 years of age, were stragghng about in 
quest of whiskey, which if not prohibited, would, in all 
probability, be less plentifully supplied. 

The adjoining forest was already adorned with flowers, 
like the month of May in the middle states. The woods, 
which had been overrun by fire in autumn, were strewed 
in almost exclusive profusion with the Ranunculus maril- 
andicus, in full bloom, affording, with other herbage, 
already an abundant pasture [97] for the cattle. Towards 
evening, Mr. Drope, with his large and commodious trad- 
ing boat of 25 tons burthen, passed this place on his way 
to the garrison, with whom I was to embark on the follow- 
ing morning. 

9th.] I walked about four miles to Mr. Dardennes', 
where there were two families residing on the bank of the 
river, which is agreeably elevated, and here I had the sat- 
isfaction of joining Mr. Drope. Lands of the same fer- 
tile quality as that on the border of the river, extend here 
from it for eight miles without interruption, and free from 
inundation. The claim of Winters' still continues up to 
an island nearly opposite Mr. Lewismore's, but the sur- 
vey of all this land, now ordered by Congress, seems to 
imply the annihilation of this claim, which for the bene- 
fit of the settlement ought promptly to be decided. 

Four miles above Dardennes', commences the first 
gravel-bar, accompanied by very rapid water. 

loth.] We now passed Mr. Mason's, 18 miles above 
Dardennes', where likewise exists an extensive body of 
rich and dry land, along the borders of Plum bayou. "^ 

^"^ Plum Bayou, not shown on ordinary maps, flows southeast through the 
centre of the north half of Jefferson County, roughly parallel to the river, which 
it enters six miles above New Gascony. Most of its course is through the town- 
ship of the same name. A village called Plum Bayou is near the northwest 
corner of the county, four or five miles north of the source of the stream. — Ed. 

1818-1820] NuttalFs yournal 137 

We encamped at the upper point of the sand-beach, 
about three miles above Mason's, on the margin of a 
small and elevated prairie, which, from the abundance of 
Chicasaw plum bushes forming a grove, I fancied might 
have been an ancient aboriginal station. The day was ex- 
ceedingly wet, accompanied with thunder, which had con- 
tinued with but little intermission since the preceding 

nth.] Passed Mr. Embree's, and arrived at Mr. Lewis- 
more's.^**^ Six miles above, we also saw two Indian vil- 
lages, opposite each of those settlements. The land is 
here generally elevated above the inundation, and of a 
superior quality; the upper stratum a dark-coloured loam, 
rich in vegetable matter. 

The Indians, unfortunately, are here, as usual, both 
poor and indolent, and alive to wants which they have 
[98] not the power of gratifying. The younger ones are 
extremely foppish in their dress; covered with feathers, 
blazing calicoes, scarlet blankets, and silver pendents. 
Their houses, sufficiently convenient with their habits, 
are oblong square, and without any other furniture than 
baskets and benches, spread with skins for the purpose 
of rest and repose. The fire, as usual, is in the middle of 
the hut, which is constructed of strips of bark and cane, 
with doors also of the latter split and plaited together. 

The forest was already decorated with the red-bud, 
and a variety of humble flowers. A species of Vitis,'^^* 
called the June grape, from its ripening at that early 
period, was also nearly in blossom. It does not appear 

108 Nuttall doubtless means Major Lewismore Vaugine, mentioned a few 
lines below. — Ed. 

"* The infertile plant cultivated in the vicinity of the city of London, has 
received the name of Vitis odoratissima, by the gardeners, an epithet which does 
not express any peculiar character. — Nuttall. 

138 Early Western Travels [Vol.13 

to exist in any of the eastern states; in leaf it somewhat 
resembles the vigne des batures (or Vitis riparia of Mi- 
chaux), while the fruit, in the composition of its bunches, 
and inferior size, resembles the winter grape. 

We spent the evening with major Lewismore Vaugin,"" 
the son of a gentleman of noble descent, whose father 
formerly held a considerable post under the Spanish gov- 

Fifteen miles above this place, Monsieur Vaugin in- 
formed me of the remains of an aboriginal station of con- 
siderable extent, resembling a triangular fort, which the 
Quapaws on their first arrival in this country say, was in- 
habited by a people who were white, and partly civilized, 
but whom, at length, they conquered by stratagem. The 
hunters possess an opinion, by no means singular, that 
this embankment is of antediluvian origin. 

12th.] This morning we met captain Prior*" and Mr. 
Richards, descending with cargoes of furs and peltries, 

'*' Although Vaugine was for several generations a prominent name in the 
Southwest, and is still borne by the township in Jefferson County in which the 
county town is located, it is difficult to distinguish the different individuals who 
possessed it. It was borne by one of the French officers who remained in 
Louisiana after its cession to Spain ; and it was the name of another Frenchman 
who emigrated to New Orleans late in the eighteenth century, removed later to 
Arkansas Post, and finally settled, as farmer and trader, four miles below Pine 
Bluff, where he died in 1831, aged sixty-three years. As the latter served 
as major in the War of 1812-15, he is probably the Major Lewismore Vaugine 
of the text; but his relationship to the first mentioned does not appear. 
Other members of the family were prominent in Jefferson County as late as the 
close of the War of Secession. — Ed. 

*" Nathaniel Prior (sometimes spelled Pryor and Pryer) enlisted under 
Lewis and Clark as a private, being later appointed sergeant. In 1807, then 
an ensign, he was appointed to escort to his home the Mandan chief Shahaka 
("Big White"), who had visited Washington at the request of the explorers. 
Prior's party were fired upon by the Sioux, and compelled to return to St. 
Louis; it was not until September, 1809, that Shahaka could be returned to 
his people — this time escorted by an expedition under Pierre Chouteau. Prior 
continued in the regular army until 1815, at which time he was a captain. — Ed. 

i8i8-i82o] N utt air s 'Journal 139 

collected among the Osages. The former [99] was one of 
those who had accompanied Lewis and Clarke across the 
continent. Six miles above Mr. Vaugin's, at Monsieur 
Michael Le Bonn's,"- commences the first appearance of 
a hill, in ascending the Arkansa. It is called the Bluff, "^ 
and appears to be a low ridge covered with pine, similar 
to the Chicasaw cliffs, and affording in the broken bank 
of the river the same parti-coloured clays. Mr. Drope 
remained at the Bluff, trading the remainder of the day 
with the two or three metif"* families settled here, who 
are very little removed in their habits from the savages, 
with whose language and manners they are quite familiar. 
In the evening, a ball or dance was struck up betwixt 
them and the engagees. The pine land is here, as every 
where else, poor and unfit for cultivation. Over this ele- 
vated ground were scattered a considerable number of 
low mounds. 

13th.] To-day I walked along the beach with Mr. D., 
and found the lands generally dry and elevated, covered 
with cotton-wood (Populus angulisans), sycamore {Pla- 
tanus occidentale) , maple (Acer dasycarpa), elm (Ulmus 
americana), and ash (Fraxinus sambucijolia and F. plati- 
carpa). We observed several situations which appeared 
to have been formerly occupied by the Indians. A canoe 

*" According to local histories, the first permanent white settler at this point 
was Joseph Bonne, a French trapper and hunter, who came about 1819. — Ed. 

"' This bluff is the site of the town of Pine Bluff, seat of Jefferson County . 
The town was laid out about 1837, and incorporated in 1848; but the county 
was organized in 1829, the court being from the beginning held at the "Bluff." 
For ten years there served as court-house a house which Bonne built in 1825, 
on the river bank between Chestnut and Walnut streets of the present town, 
on land which has since caved into the river. When built, it was near the 
camp of the Quapaw chief Sarrasin (see ante, note loi). — Ed. 

"* Metif, from French metif, meaning of mixed breed ; specifically, the off- 
spring of a white and a quadroon. — Ed. 

140 Early Western Travels [Vol. 13 

of the Quapaws coming in sight, we prevailed on them to 
land, and, during the interval of our boat's arriving, I 
amused myself with learning some of their names for the 
forest trees. While thus engaged, I observed, that many 
of their sounds were dental and guttural, and that they 
could not pronounce the ih. In the evening we came to 
a little above the second Pine Bluff. 

14th.] We proceeded to Mons. Bartholome's,^^^ where 
Mr. D. stayed about two hours. Mons. B. and the two 
or three families who are his neighbours are entirely 
hunters, or in fact Indians in habits, and pay no attention 
to the cultivation of the soil. These, with two or three 
families at the first Pine Bluffs, are the [100] remains of 
the French hunters, whose stations have found a place in 
the maps of the Arkansa, and they are in all probability 
the descendants of those ten Frenchmen whom de Tonti 
left with the Arkansas, on his way up the Mississippi in 
the year 1685."® From this place we meet with no more 
settlements until our arrival at the Little Rock, 12 miles 
below which, and about 70 from hence, by the meander- 

"* Ambrose Bartholomew was one of the early settlers on the north bank 
of the river. — Ed. 

"' See ante, note 85; also Cuming's Tour, volume iv of our series, note 195. 
The date of this visit of Tonty is not exactly known, but it was in the spring 
of 1686. He left IlUnois to seek La Salle in February, and left Texas for the 
return journey on Easter Monday. He was again in Illinois on June 24. 

Other settlers at Pine BlufJ besides Bonne were John Derresseaux and one 
Prewett. The preponderance in this neighborhood of settlers of French blood 
is indicated not only by the names of persons, but also by the fact that New 
Gascony is the name of one of the oldest towns. 

It is said that the first white man in Jefferson County was Leon Le Roy, 
one of Tonty's men, who deserted from the Post in 1690. He was held 
in captivity for fourteen years by the Osage, and when he escaped was captured 
and adopted by the Quapaw, whom he taught the use of firearms. When the 
Quapaw treaty of 1818 was made, one chief gave the commissioners, as an em- 
blem of friendship, a gun said to be the one which Le Roy had a century earlier 
taught the Quapaw to use. This weapon is preserved in the Smithsonian 
Institution, at Washington. — Ed. 

1818-1820] NuttalV s 'Journal 141 

ing course of the river, we again meet with a house. We 
proceeded about eight miles from Bartholome's, and about 
sun-set came in sight of another pine blufif of about 100 
feet elevation, and a mile in length. On the right hand 
bank the land appeared fertile and elevated. Near our 
encampment there was a small lake communicating 
with the river by a bayou. The horizontal beds of 
clay in this cliff or precipice are precisely similar to those 
of the Chicasaw Bluffs. 

15th.] The land appeared still, for the most part, on 
either bank, elevated above inundation. Some cypress"' 
clumps, however, were observable on the Quapaw side. 
On the opposite we saw a cluster of Hollies {Ilex opacd), 
which were the first we had seen any way conspicuous 
along the bank of the river. The forests every where 
abound with wild turkeys, which at this season are be- 
ginning to be too poor for food. We came about 16 miles 
above the last pine bluff, and were there detained the 
remainder of the evening by the commencement of a strong 
south-west wind, which in the night veered round to the 
north-west. The land on the Indian side, contiguous to 
the river, abounded with thickets of Chicasaw plum-trees, 
which appear to have overgrown the sites of Indian huts 
and fields, but, except in a few elevated places, the first 
alluvial platform or terrace is subject to inundation. 
The second bank, where the large cane commences, is, 
however, free from water. The [loi] right side of the 
river appeared universally high, and rich cane land with 
occasional thickets and openings. 

Throughout this country there certainly exists extensive 
bodies of fertile land, and favoured by a comparatively 
healthy climate. The cultivation of cotton, rice, maize, 

"' Cupressus disticha. — Nxjttall. 

142 Early Western Travels [Vol. 13 

wheat, tobacco, indigo, hemp, and wine, together with the 
finest fruits of moderate climates, without the aid of arti- 
ficial soils or manures, all sufficiently contiguous to a mar- 
ket, are important inducements to industry and enter- 
prize. The peach of Persia is already naturalized 
through the forests of Arkansa, and the spontaneous mul- 
berry points out the convenience of raising silk. Pastur- 
age at all seasons of the year is so abundant, that some of 
our domestic animals might become naturalized, as in 
Paraguay and Mexico; indeed several wild horses were 
seen and taken in these forests during the preceding year. 

The territory watered by the Arkansa is scarcely less 
fertile than Kentucky, and it owes its luxuriance to the 
same source of alluvial deposition. Many places will 
admit of a condensed population. The climate is no less 
healthy, and at the same time favourable to productions 
more valuable and saleable. The privations of an infant 
settlement are already beginning to disappear, grist and 
saw-mills, now commenced, only wait for support; and 
the want of good roads is scarcely felt in a level country 
meandered by rivers. Those who have large and grow- 
ing families can always find lucrative employment in a 
country which produces cotton. The wages of labourers 
were from 12 to 15 dollars per month and boarding, 
which could not then be considered as extravagant, while 
cotton produced from five to six dollars per hundred 
weight in the seed, and each acre from 1000 to 1500 

1 6th.] At sunrise the thermometer was down to 28°, 
and the wind at north-west. This sudden transition, 
after such a long continuance of mild weather, [102] felt 
extremely disagreeable, and foreboded the destruction of 
all the fruit in the territory. This morning we passed the 

1818-1820] Nuttair s 'Journal 143 

fifth Pine Bluff, and the last previous to our arrival at the 
Little Rock; the fasfade was about the same height and 
of the same materials as the preceding. Among the 
pebbles of a gravel beach which I examined were scattered 
a few fragments of cornelian, similar to those of the Mis- 
souri, and abundance of chert or hornstone containing 
organic impressions of entrocites, caryophillites, &c. here 
and there were also intermingled a few granitic fragments, 
which, if not more remotely adventitious, had probably 
descended from the mountains. — We proceeded to-day 
about 17 miles. 

17th.] This morning we had the disagreeable prospect 
of ice, and the wind was still from the north-west, but 
abating. To-day we progressed about 20 miles. The 
sixth point we passed, since our encampment of the pre- 
ceding night, was called the Eagle's Nest, which is here 
seen situated on the opposite side of the bend before us, 
of six miles in circuit, and only about 100 yards across at 
the isthmus. 

The almost uninterrupted alternation of sand-bars in 
the wide alluvial plain of the Arkansa afford, as on the 
Mississippi, great facilities to navigation, either in pro- 
pelling the boat by poles, or towing with the cordelles. 
As the bars or beaches advance, so they continually change 
the common level of the river, and driving the current 
into the bend with augmenting velocity, the curve be- 
comes at length intersected, and the sand barring up the 
entrances of the former bed of the river, thus produces the 
lakes which we find interspersed over the alluvial lands. 

In the present state of the water, which is remarkably 
low, considering the rains which have fallen, it is difficult 
to proceed with a large merchant boat more than 18 or 20 
miles a-day. 

144 Karly Western Travels [Vol. 13 

[103] i8th.] We now passed an island or cut-off two 
miles long, and forming a point four or j&ve miles round. 
Near its commencement we were again gratified with the 
sight of a human habitation. 

Although the lands along the bank of the river here, 
appear elevated above the inundation, yet, betwixt the 
lower settlement and Mr. Twiner's, where we now arrived, 
the surveyor found considerable tracts subject to the over- 
flow, and in one place a whole township so situated. On 
the opposite side, or Indian reservation, the hills approach 
within six or eight miles of the river, and, like most of the 
southern pine lands, promise but little to the agriculturist, 
but the intermediate alluvion is as fertile as usual. The 
Great Prairie,"* as I am told, on our right, lies at the 
distance of about 18 or 20 miles; the intermediate space, 
unbroken by hills, must necessarily afford an uninter- 
rupted body of land little removed from the fertile char- 
acter of alluvial. 

Towards evening we arrived at Monsieur La Feve's,"^ 
where two families reside, at the distance of about eight 
miles above Mr. Twiner's; these are also descendants 
from the ancient French settlers. 

19th.] This morning we met with a boat from the gar- 
rison, commanded by lieutenant Blair, on his way to 
Arkansas. We also passed Trudot's island, and Mr. D. 
stopped awhile at the elder La Feve's, for the purposes of 

"* Great Prairie, or Grand Prairie, as it is usually called, is the low upland 
north of the Arkansas. The tract especially designated by this name is about 
ninety miles long and from ten to fifteen wide, and roughly runs parallel to the 
river. — Ed. 

"• Peter Lefevre, a French Canadian, settled in the fall of 1818 on the north 
side of the river about six miles below Little Rock. Descendants still dwelt 
upon the identical spot a few years ago. The name is common in the early 
history of this section. In corrupted form it is preserved in Fourche la Fave 
Creek, which flows eastward through Perry County. — Ed. 

i8i8-i82o] NuttalV s 'Journal 145 

trade. Monsieur F. by his dress and manners did not 
appear to have had much acquaintance with the civilized 
world. In the evening, we arrived at the house of Mr. 
Jones, where we were very decently entertained. 

20th.] Two miles further lived Mr. Daniels,^^" in whose 
neighbourhood a second family also resided. The land 
in this vicinity appeared to be of a very superior quality, 
and well suited for cotton. Some of it, obtained by the 
grant of the Spaniards, and since confirmed by the United 
States, is held as high [104] as ten dollars the acre. From 
this place proceeds the road to St. Louis, on the right, 
and Mount Prairie settlement, and Natchitoches on Red 
river, on the left. From all I can learn, it appears pretty 
evident that these extensive and convenient routes have 
been opened from time immemorial by the Indians; they 
were their war and hunting-paths, and such as in many 
instances had been tracked out instinctively by the bison 
in their periodical migrations. It is in these routes, con- 
ducted by the Indians, that we are to trace the adventur- 
ers De Soto and La Salle, and by which we may possibly 
identify the truth of their relations. ^^^ From the appear- 
ances of aboriginal remains around Mount Prairie we may 
safely infer the former existence of the natives on that 
site, and it appears also probable, that this must have 
been the fertile country of the Cayas or Tanicas described 
by La Vega, a people who are at this time on the verge of 

The distance from Mr. Daniels', on the banks of the 
Arkansa, to Red river, is believed to be about 250 miles. 

"" About the year 1814, Wright Daniels located on the north side of the river, 
four miles below Little Rock. Robert Jones came to the same neighborhood 
in 1818.— Ed. 

"' See post, note 126. — Ed. 

'*^ The Cayas of La Vega are the modern Kansa. — Ed. 

146 Early Western Travels [Vol. 13 

The Great Prairie, bearing from hence to the north-east, 
is |Said to be 40 miles distant, and there is likewise a con- 
tii^uation of open plains or small prairies, from hence to 
the Cadron settlement. White river lies about 100 mUes 
distant to the north. 

In the course of the day we passed the sixth Pine Bluff, 
behind which appeared the first prominent hill that occurs 
to view on the banks of the Arkansa. The fas^ade or 
cliffs, in which it terminates on the bank of the river, is 
called the Little Rock,*^' as it is the first stone which occurs 
in place. The river, no longer so tediously meandering, 
here presents a stretch of six miles in extent, proceeding 
to the west of north-west. In the evening we arrived at 
Mr. Hogan's,*^* or the settlement of the Little Rock, 
opposite to which appear the cliffs, formed of a dark green- 
ish coloured, fine-grained, slaty, sandstone, mixed with 
[105] minute scales of mica, forming what geologists 
commonly term the grauwacke slate, and declining beneath 
the surface at a dip or angle of not less than 45° from 
the horizon. The hUls appear to be elevated from 150 
to 200 feet above the level of the river, and are thinly cov- 
ered with trees. 

There are a few families living on both sides, upon high, 
healthy, and fertile land; and about 22 miles from Hogan's, 
there is another settlement of nine or ten families situ- 
ated towards the sources of Saline creek of the Washita,"^ 

'^' Called La Petite Rochelle by the French, to distinguish it from the larger 
rocky promontory two miles farther up the river. A few settlers located here 
as early as 1818. Little Rock became the capital of the territory in 182 1, and 
the same year it was proposed to rechristen it Arkopolis. Although never 
officially adopted, this name appears on some old maps. — Ed. 

"* Edmund Hogan, from Georgia, was said to be the first permanent settler 
of Pulaski County. Upon the organization of the county in 1819, he was ap- 
pointed justice of the peace. — Ed. 

^^^ The Saline joins the Ouachita a few miles from the southern boundary 
of Arkansas, but its headwaters are in Saline County, which joins Pulaski on 
the west. This river should be distinguished from the Saline branch of Little 

i8i8-i82o] Nuttair s 'Journal 147 

which enters that river in 2i'^ 27'; this land, though fertile 
and healthy, cannot be compared with the alluvions of 
the Arkansa; notwithstanding which, I am informed, 
they were receiving accessions to their population from 
the states of Kentucky and Tennessee. The great road 
to the south-west, connected with that of St. Louis, 
already noticed, passing through this settlement, commu- 
nicates downwards also with the post of Washita, with the 
remarkable thermal springs near its sources, about 50 
miles distant, and then proceeding 250 miles to the settle- 
ment of Mount Prairie on Saline creek of Red river, 
and not far from the banks of the latter, continues to 
Natchitoches.^^® The whole of this country, except that 
of the hot-springs, which is mountainous, consists either 
of prairies or undulated lands thinly timbered, and pos- 
sessed of considerable fertility. 

River, a tributary of the Red. The settlement here referred to was near the 
point where the road to Hot Springs crossed the Saline. It was begun (1815) 
by William Lockert (or Lockhart), from North CaroUna; other families came 
in 1817. See James, Expedition^ volume xvii of our series, p. 300 (original 
pagination). — Ed. 

'^ Nuttall's description of the course of the road below Little Rock is con- 
fusing. By the thermal springs he means the site of Hot Springs, where the 
road forked. The eastern branch followed the Ouachita to the side of the 
modem town of Monroe, seat of Ouachita Parish, Louisiana, where was Nuttall's 
"post of Washita;" thence it ran southwest to Natchitoches, on Red River, an 
old French mission town, founded in 17 14, now the seat of Natchitoches Parish. 
The other branch ran almost directly south to Natchitoches, and on Darby's 
map of 1816 is marked, "Trace from Natchitoches to Hot Springs." 

Mount Prairie was not on the headwaters of the Saline Fork of the Ouachita 
where Nuttall's map places it. The name suggests the old French "upper 
settlement" on Red River, which was near the old Caddo village, situated in 
Long Prairie, south of Red River, about fifty miles above Little River. In 
this prairie was a hill which the Indians regarded with superstitious veneration. 
However, the settlements on Red River, near the mouth of the Kiamichi, are 
probably meant (see post, notes 182, 184). The trail from St. Louis to Little 
Rock, which passed through Cape Girardeau, Missouri, was followed by Major 
S. H. Long on his expedition into Arkansas (1810). Members of Long's 
exploring party of 1819-20, who followed this "great road" from the Saline to 
Little Rock, called it then an "obscure path." — Ed. 

148 Early Western Travels [Vol. 13 

2 1 St.] For three or four nights past, we experienced 
frost sufficient to destroy most of the early grape, plum, 
popaw, and red-bud bloom. At 6 o'clock this morning, 
the thermometer was down to 22°. In the distance of 
two miles we arrived at the younger Mr. Curran's, nearly 
opposite to whose house appeared gentle hills, presenting 
along the bank of the river beds of slate dipping about 45° 
to the north-west. About two miles above, commence 
on the right bank of the river, the first hills, or rather 
mountains, [106] being not less than 4 or 500 feet high, 
and possessing a dip too considerable to be classed with 
the secondary formation. Their character and composi- 
tion refer them to the transition rocks, and, as far as I have 
had opportunity to examine, they appear, at all events, 
generally destitute of organic reliquiae. Similar to what 
we had already examined, they are a stratum of slate made 
up of the detritus of more ancient rocks, and frequently 
traversed with crystalline quartzy veins. I cannot, in 
fact, perceive any difference betwixt this rock and that 
of the greater part of the Alleghany mountains in Penn- 
sylvania and Virginia, and particularly those which are 
of like inconsiderable elevation. About eight miles from 
Mr. Curran's, appeared again, on the left, very consider- 
able round-top hills, one of them, called the Mamelle,*" 
in the distance, where first visible, appeared insulated and 
conic like a volcano. The cliffs bordering the river, 
broken into shelvings, were decorated with the red cedar 
{Juniperus virginiana), and clusters of ferns. 

After emerging as it were from so vast a tract of alluvial 

"' The Mamelle is at the mouth of a stream which is still marked on the 
maps as the MaumeUe, a corruption of the original. The name was not in- 
frequently applied by the French to hills of breast-like form. This peak is 
now called "The Pinnacle." — Ed. 

i8i8-i82o] NuttaWs 'Journal 149 

lands, as that through which I had now been travelHng for 
more than three months, it is almost impossible to describe 
the pleasure which these romantic prospects again afforded 
me. Who can be insensible to the beauty of the verdant 
hill and valley, to the sublimity of the clouded mountain, 
the fearful precipice, or the torrent of the cataract. Even 
bald and moss-grown rocks, without the aid of sculpture, 
forcibly inspire us with that veneration which we justly 
owe to the high antiquity of nature, and which appears 
to arise no less from a solemn and intuitive reflection on 
their vast capacity for duration, contrasted with that 
transient scene in which we ourselves only appear to act 
a momentary part. 

Many of the plants common to every mountainous and 
hilly region in the United States, again attracted my 
attention, and though no way peculiarly interesting, [107] 
serve to show the wide extension of the same species, 
under the favourable exposure of similar soil and peculiar- 
ity of surface. To me the most surprising feature in 
the vegetation of this country, existing under so low a lati- 
tude, was the total absence of all the usual evergreens, as 
well as of most of those plants belonging to the natural 
family of the heaths, the rhododendrons, and the magno- 
lias; while, on the other hand, we have an abundance of 
the arborescent Leguminosce, or trees which bear pods, 
similar to the forests of the tropical regions. Here also 
the Sapindus saponaria, or soap-berry of the West Indies, 
attains the magnitude of a tree. 

On the banks of the river, near the precise limit of inun- 
dation, I met with a new species of Sysinbrium, besides 
the 6*. amphibium, so constant in its occurrence along the 
friable banks of all the western rivers. This plant, which 

150 Early Western Travels [Vol.13 

is creeping and perennial, possesses precisely the taste of 
the common cabbage (Brassica oleracea), and, from its 
early verdure, being already in flower, might perhaps be 
better worth cultivating as an early sallad, than the Bar- 
bar ea americana, or winter sallad. 

22d.] From Mr. Blair's, at which place and in the neigh- 
bourhood Mr. D. spent the remainder of the day, I pro- 
ceeded down the river about eight miles, in order to exam- 
ine the reported silver mine of that place. My route along 
the banks of the river lay through rich and rather open 
alluvial lands, but, in many places, not free from transient 

The pretended silver-mine is situated about one mile 
below White Oak bayou or rivulet. The search appears 
to have been induced by the exposure of the rocks in the 
bank of the river, which present indeed an appearance 
somewhat remarkable. The dip of the strata, about 45° 
to the ^north- west, and the whole texture of the rock, is 
similar to that which we have already noticed. The prin- 
cipal and lowest stratum, [108] is a dark coloured, sandy, 
but fragile slate-clay; the upper beds are a fine-grained, 
siliceous sandstone, containing grains of mica, and 
occasionally traversed with veins of quartz. In one 
of these veins, about a foot in breadth, were abun- 
dance of rock crystals, scattered over with round masses 
or imperfect crystals of a white and diaphanous talc, 
collected into radii, each plate forming the segment of 
a circle. 

I was for some time unable to ascertain the character 
of the pretended ore of silver, as the whole concern lay 
abandoned. I observed, however, that the slags of their 
furnace betrayed a considerable proportion of iron in 
their operations, and at length I discovered a heap of 

1818-1820] Nuttair s "Journal 1 5 1 

what appeared to have been the ore, containing pyrites, 
some of the crystals of which were cubic, like those so 
common around Lancaster (Pennsylvania), in the chlo- 
rite slate. Whether these pyrites did indeed contain silver 
or not, I could not absolutely determine, though nothing 
extraordinary could reasonably have been expected from 
their very common appearance and unequivocal character. 
On showing these specimens to the neighbours, they in- 
formed me, that the pyrites was the ore in question, while 
others asserted it to be sulphur, and considered the sili- 
ceous matrix as the silver ore. It did not, however, to 
the microscope betray the smallest metallic vestige which 
could be taken for silver. Like all the rest of this rock, 
it indeed contained abundance of magnetic iron-sand, 
which on the disintegration of the stone, appeared scat- 
tered along the strand of the river. Upon the whole, I 
am inclined to believe that some imposition had been prac- 
tised upon the ignorance and credulity of those who were 
enticed into this undertaking. Monsieur Brangiere is the 
person who first made the experiment, or attempted to 
bring the project into execution. 

Ever since the time of Soto, reports concerning the dis- 
covery of precious metals in this territory have [109] been 
cherished; we see them marked upon the maps, and al- 
though the places are easily discoverable, the gold and 
silver they were said to afford has enturely vanished like 
a fairy dream. It is indeed averred that about 60 dollars 
worth of silver were obtained from this rock, but that it 
was relinquished in consequence of the labour exceeding 
the profits. A furnace and several temporary sheds 
proved that some earnest attempts had been made, either 
really or fictitiously, to obtain silver. If any silver was 
obtained, it may be considered as connected with the mag- 

152 Early Western Travels [Vol.13 

netic iron-sand, which at St. Domingo and in India is 
found occasionally mixed with gold and silver."* 

Du Pratz, after animadverting on the visionary reports 
of the wealth of this territory, himself adds; ''I found, 
upon the river of the Arkansas, a rivulet that rolled down 
with its water, gold-dust." "And as for silver mines, 
there is no doubt but that they might be found there, as 
well as in New Mexico, on which this province bor- 

Near to these hills reported to afford silver, I observed 
two low aboriginal mounds, though the situation did not 
appear favourable to the residence of the natives. 

23d.] Mr. D. remained nearly the whole day at J. 
Fiat's,*^" where a second family also resides, as well as a 
third on the opposite side of the river, and several others 
in the vicinity. About a quarter of a mile above Fiat's 
I amused myself in sketching a view of the romantic hills 
that border the river, and which are not less than 5 to 800 
feet high, with the strata inclined about 45° to the south- 

In the afternoon I crossed the river, and ascended to 

"* A granitic formation is exposed in central Arkansas, extending from 
Pulaski County to Pike. Argentiferous galena is found throughout this area, 
but is especially rich around Silver City in Montgomery County. The Span- 
iards left numerous old diggings as evidence of their knowledge of the existence 
not only of lead, but of more valuable metals. At one time considerable quan- 
tities of silver were obtained from lead mines a few miles north of Little Rock. 
A gold "craze" was caused in 1809 by the finding of a nugget in the same 
neighborhood where Nuttall places the silver mine. — Ed. 

'^' Hist. Louisian. p. 219, London Edition. — Nuttall. 

Comment by Ed. Second London edition (1764). 

"" Major James Pyeatt and his brother Jacob came from North Carolina 
in wagons in 1807, and the settlement which grew up about them was called 
Pyeattstown. It was twelve miles above Little Rock, but has disappeared. 
Here resided for a time James Miller, first governor of Arkansas Territory. 
See post, note 214. — Ed. 


i8i8-i82o] Nuttair s 'Journal 155 

the summit of these lofty cliffs of slaty and siliceous sand- 
stone, where, from an elevation of about 600 feet, I ob- 
tained a panorama view of the surrounding country, [i 10] 
checquered with low mountains running in chains from 
the north of west to the south of east. The meanders of 
the river appeared partly hid in the pervading forests of 
its alluvial lands, still fertile and expansive. To the west, 
the lofty, conic, and broken hill called the Mamelle now 
appeared nearly double the elevation of that on which I 
stood, probably more than 1000 feet in height. Two 
miles above, it presented the appearance of a vast pyra- 
mid, hiding its summit in the clouds. In this direction 
opened an extensive alluvial valley, probably once the 
bed of the river, which from hence makes a general curve 
of about 20 miles towards the north. These mountains 
appear to be connected with the Mazern chain of Darby, 
as they continue from hence towards the sources of the 
Pottoe of Arkansa, and the Little river, and Kiamesha 
of Red river. ^^^ 

Amidst these wild and romantic cliffs, and on the ledges 
of the rocks, where, moistened by springs, grew a crucif- 
erous plant, very closely allied, if not absolutely the same, 
with the Brassica napus or the Rape-seed of Europe, and 
beyond all question indigenous. 

24th.] After taking a second sketch of the Mamelle 
mountain, from a different point of view, I proceeded to 
join the boat, and crossed a poor and rocky Pine hill. 
Here the sandstone is scarcely slaty, and, as usual, more 
or less ferruginous. Crossing the bayou Palame (or 
rather rivulet), I joined the boat at Mr. Gozy's, in whose 

''* The Mamelle terminates a range of hills to which it gives name (known 
locally as the Maumelle Mountains) . North of this lies the valley of Fourche la 
Fave River, and between this valley and that of the Arkansas rises another 
range of hills. See post, note i8i. — Ed. 

156 Early Western Travels [Vol.13 

neighbourhood there were also two other families. This 
evening we proceeded nearly to the termination of Grand 
island, which is four miles in length. 

25th.] About a mile below Grand island, on our left, 
the hills again come in upon the river, presenting the most 
romantic cliffs. In one place particularly, an unbroken 
fas^ade not less than 150 feet of slaty sandstone presents 
itself, the lamina of which, about 12 or [in] 18 inches in 
thickness, dipping to the south-east, are elevated at an 
angle of near 80° from the horizon, and altogether resemble 
the basis of some mighty pyramid. In four miles further 
we passed the outlet of Fourche La Feve, said to proceed 
in a western direction for 200 miles, and to take its sources 
in the mountains of the Pottoe.^" A north-western range 
of hills here in the whole distance border the river, the 
strata of which, still lamellar, dip north-north-east, and 
are inclined about 45°. This evening, at Mr. Montgom- 
ery's, the Cadron hills appear before us, at the distance of 
about six miles. 

26th.] A strong north-west wind arose in the night, ac- 
companying a rise in the river of two and a half feet, and 
a current of the velocity of four or five miles per hour. 

On the 27th we arrived at the Cadron settlement, ^^^ 
containing in a contiguous space about five or six families. 

"^ The name of this stream is derived from Lefevre, the name of a French 
family prominent in early Arkansas history (see ante, note 119). The sources 
of the stream are near the western boundary of the state, in Scott County; its 
headwaters are only a few miles from those of Little River, a tributary of the 
Red, and those of the Ouachita lie between; it flows slightly to the north of 
east. — Ed. 

*^ The site of Cadron settlement was the mouth of Cadron Creek, thirty- 
eight miles above Little Rock, in Faulkner County. In 1820 it was made the 
seat of justice for Pulaski County against the wishes of Governor James Miller, 
who favored Pyeattstovra, his own residence. In time Cadron fell into decay, 
and it has now disappeared from the map. — Ed. 

i8i8-i82o] Nuttair s 'Journal 157 

Mr. M'llmery/^^ one of the first, is at present the only 
resident on the imaginary town plot. A cove of rocks 
here affords a safe and convenient harbour, and a good 
landing for merchandize. 

No village or town, except Arkansas, has yet been pro- 
duced on the banks of this river, though I have no doubt, 
but my remarks may ere long be quoted and contrasted 
with a rising state of more condensed population. Town- 
lot speculations have already been tried at the Cadron, 
which is yet but a proximate chain of farms, and I greatly 
doubt whether a town of any consequence on the Arkansa 
will ever be chosen on this site. Some high and rich body 
of alluvial lands would be better suited for the situation 
of an inland town, than the hills and the rocks of the 
Cadron. Modem cities rarely thrive in such romantic 
situations. There is scarcely a hundred yards together 
of level ground, and the cove in which Mr. M'llmery 
lives is almost impenetrably surrounded by tiresome and 
lofty hills, broken into ravines, with small rills of water. 
It [112] is true, that here may be obtained a solid founda- 
tion on which to build, without danger of dislocation by 
the perpetual changes and ravages of the river, but in an 
agricultural settlement something more is wanting than 
foundations for houses. 

The Cadron was at this time in the hands of four pro- 
prietors, who last year commenced the sale of town-lots 
to the amount of 1300 dollars, and the succeeding sale was 
appointed to take place in the approaching month of May. 

What necessity there may be for projecting a town at 
this place, I will not take upon myself to decide, but a 

"* John McElmurray settled at Cadron prior to 1818. In the spring of 
that year he had for neighbors Benjamin Murphy, Harvey Hager, and families 
named McFarland and Newell. — Ed. 

I 5 8 Early Western Travels [Vol. 13 

house of public entertainment, a tavern, has long been 
wanted, as the Cadron lies in another of the leading routes 
through this territory. It is one of the resorts from St. 
Louis, and the settlements on White river, as well as to 
the hot springs of the Washita,"^ and the inhabitants of 
Red river. From Arkansas to this place, about 150 miles 
by land, there is a leading path which proceeds through 
the Great Prairie. 

To those southern gentlemen who pass the summer in 
quest of health and recreation, this route to the hot springs 
of the Washita, which I believe is the most convenient, 
would afford a delightful and rational amusement. 

In the course of the day I amused myself amongst the 
romantic cliffs of slaty sand-stone, which occupy the vicinity 
of the Cadron. Here I found vestiges of several new and 
curious plants, and among them an undescribed species of 
Eriogonum, with a considerable root, partly of the colour 
and taste of rhubarb. The Petalostemons, and several 
plants of the eastern states, which I had not seen below, 
here again make their appearance. The Cactus ferox of 
the Missouri, remarkably loaded with spines, appears to 
forebode the vicinity of the Mexican desert. 

The dip of the strata is here south-east, and the moun- 
tains, generally destitute of organic remains, [113] pass off 
in chains from the north of west to the south of east. 

28th.] The river still continued rising. This morning 
I walked out two or three miles over the hills, and found 

^^^ Hot Springs, now the famous health resort in Gariand County. The 
spot was widely known among the Indians, and De Soto, led on by their reports, 
probably visited it in 1542. Summer parties of wealthy planters began to fre- 
quent the region early in the nineteenth centurj', and to such visits were doubt- 
less due the well-marked roads from Natchitoches, described above (see ante, 
note 126). The town of Hot Springs is of late growth; it was a mere village in 
i860. A tract of four square miles surrounding the springs was purchased in 
1877 by the government, and is now a national park. — Ed. 

i8i8-i82o] Nuttair s 'Journal i6i 

the land, except in the small depressions and alluvion of 
the creek, of an inferior quality, and chiefly timbered with 
oaks and hickories thinly scattered. Ages must elapse 
before this kind of land will be worth purchasing at any 
price. Still, in its present state, it will afford a good range 
of pasturage for cattle, producing abundance of herbage, 
but would be unfit for cotton or maize, though, perhaps, 
suited to the production of smaller grain; there is not, 
however, yet a grist-mill on the Arkansa, and flour com- 
monly sells above the Post, at 1 2 dollars per barrel. For 
the preparation of maize, a wooden mortar, or different 
kinds of hand or horse-mills are sufficient. Sugar and 
coffee are also high priced articles, more particularly this 
year. In common, I suppose, sugar retails at 25 cents 
the pound, and coffee at 50. Competition will, however, 
regulate and reduce the prices of these and other articles, 
which, but a few years ago, were sold at such an exorbi- 
tant rate, as to be almost proscribed from general use. 
There is a maple in this country, or rather, I believe, on 
the banks of White river, which has not come under my 
notice, called the sugar-tree (though not, as they say, the 
Acer saccharinum) , that would, no doubt, by a little 
attention afford sugar at a low rate ; and the decoctions of 
the wood of the sassafras and spice bush (Laurus benzoin), 
which abound in this country, are certainly very palatable 
substitutes for tea. 

It is to be regretted that the widely scattered state of the 
population in this territory, is but too favourable to the 
spread of ignorance and barbarism. The means of edu- 
cation are, at present, nearly proscribed, and the rising 
generation are growing up in mental darkness, like the 
French hunters who have preceded [114] them, and who 
have almost forgot that they appertain to the civilized 

1 62 Early Western Travels [Vol.13 

world. This barrier will, however, be effectually removed 
by the progressive accession of population, which, like a 
resistless tide, still continues to set towards the west. 

Contiguous to the north-eastern, or opposite declivity 
of the chain of hills, which flank the settlement of Mr. 
M'llmery, I observed in my ramble, a considerable collec- 
tion of aboriginal tumuli, towards the centre of which, 
disposed in a somewhat circular form, I thought I could 
still discern an area which had once been trodden by 
human feet ; — but, alas ! both they and their history 
are buried in impenetrable oblivion! their existence is 
blotted out from the page of the living ! and it is only the 
eye which has been accustomed to the survey of these 
relics, that can even distinguish them from the accidental 
operations of nature. How dreary is this eternal night 
which has overtaken so many of my fellow-mortals ! — a 
race, perhaps brave, though neither civilized nor luxu- 
rious, and who, like the retreating Scythians pursued by 
Darius, made, perhaps, at last, an obstinate resistance 
around their luckless families, and the revered tombs of 

their ancestors ! 

* * * 

Besides these tumuli scattered through the forests, 
there are others on the summits of the hills, formed of 
loose stones thrown up in piles. We have no reason to 
suppose, that these remains were left by the Arkansas; 
they themselves deny it, and attribute them to a people 
distinct and governed by a superior policy. 

29th and 30th.] Still at Mr. M'llmery's, during which 
time the weather has been cold and stormy. 

The United States have now ordered the survey of all 
the alluvial and other saleable lands of the Arkansa, which 
are to be ready for disposal in about two years from the 


1818-1820] Nuttair s journal 165 

present time. One of the surveyors, Mr. Pettis, was now 
laying out the lands contiguous to the [115] Cadron into 
sections. Another surveyor is also employed in the Great 
Prairie, and proceeding, at this time, from the vicinity of 
Arkansas to this place. The poorer and hilly lands, 
generally, are not yet thought to be worth the expense of 
a public survey. Some of these surveys, however, extend 
as far to the north as the banks of White river. Mr. P. 
obtains three dollars per mile, for surveying the river lands, 
which are extremely difficult, from the density and extent 
of the cane-brakes, and the multiplicity of lagoons or 
portions of the deserted channel of the river, which, as 
we have had already occasion to remark, are still contin- 
ually forming. 

These fine cotton lands have not altogether escaped the 
view of speculators, although there is yet left ample room 
for the settlement of thousands of families, on lands, 
which, except the few preemption rights, will be sold by 
the impartial hand of the nation, at a price as reasonable 
as the public welfare shall admit of, which has heretofore 
been at the rate of two dollars the acre, and as no lands 
on this river are now surveyed and offered for sale, but 
such as are considered to be of the first and second rate, 
there can consequently be no room left for imposition, 
and though there is, indeed, a considerable proportion of 
inundated land unavoidably included, yet in general, as 
I understand from the surveyor, there will be in almost 
every section, a great portion of elevated soils. 

The preemption rights, as they are called, are a certain 
species of reward or indemnification for injuries sustained 
in the late war, and afforded to such individuals only, as 
had made improvements in the interior of the territories, 
prior to the year 1813. Such individuals, if able to pay. 

1 66 Early Western Travels [Vol.13 

are entitled to one or more quarter sections, as the lines 
of their improvements may happen to extend into the 
public lines when surveyed, of one or more such plots 
or fractional sections of land. These rights have been 
bought [116] up by speculators, at from 4 or 500 to 1000 
dollars, or at the positive rate of from 3 to 10 dollars the 
acre, including the price of two dollars per acre to the 
United States; a certain proof of the growing importance 
of this country, where lands, previous to the existence of 
any positive title, have brought a price equal to that of the 
best lands on the banks of the Ohio, not immediately 
contiguous to any considerable town. The hilly lands, 
which have not been thought worthy of a survey, will 
afford an invaluable common range for all kinds of cattle, 
while the alluvial tracts are employed in producing maize, 
cotton, tobacco, or rice. I must, here, however, remark 
by the way, that there exists a considerable difference in 
the nature of these alluvial soils. They are all loamy, 
never cold or argillaceous, but often rather light and 
sandy; such lands, however, though inferior for maize, 
are still well adapted for cotton. The richest soils here 
produce 60 to 80 bushels of maize per acre. The inun- 
dated lands, when properly banked so as to exclude and 
introduce the water at pleasure by sluices, might be well 
employed for rice, but the experiment on this grain has 
not yet been made, on an extensive scale, by any indi- 
vidual in the territory, although its success, in a small 
way, has been satisfactorily ascertained. Indigo is occa- 
sionally raised for domestic use, but would require more 
skill in its preparation for the market. Indeed, as yet, 
the sum of industry calculated to afford any satisfactory 
experiment in agriculture or domestic economy, has not 
been exercised by the settlers of the Arkansa, who, with 

1818-1820] Nuttair s 'Journal 167 

half the resolution of the German farmers of Pennsylvania, 
would ensure to themselves and their families comfort 
and affluence. 

After the most diligent inquiries concerning the general 
health of this country, I do not find any substantial reason 
to alter the opinion which I have already advanced. I 
am, however, firmly persuaded, [117] that the immediate 
banks of the Arkansa, in this respect are to be preferred 
to the prairies, and I can only account for this remarkable 
circumstance, by the unusual admixture of common salt, 
or muriate of soda, in its waters, which prevents it from 
becoming dangerously putrid in the neighbouring ponds 
and lagoons; and I would farther recommend its use to 
the inhabitants in preference to any fountain water, how- 
ever convenient. The pellucid appearance of the water, 
in most of the lagoons which have come under my notice, 
is, in all probability, attributable to this circumstance. 

I was indeed informed that instances of the ague were 
known at some seasons, but that this disease had been 
principally confined to those who were destitute, through 
indolence or accidental poverty, of the proper means of 
nourishment, and who, after its commencement, neglected 
the aid of medicine. A better proof, than the general 
healthy appearance of the inhabitants, and the total ab- 
sence of doctors, whose aid must of course be unnecessary, 
need not be adduced in favour of the prevailing salubrity 
of the banks of the Arkansa. 

From Mr. M'llmery, I learn that there exists very con- 
siderable tracts of fertile land, along the banks of La Feve's 
creek, which proceeds in a south-west direction towards 
Red river for about 200 miles, deriving its source with 
Little river of the latter, as well as with another contiguous 
stream of the Arkansa, called Petit John, and likewise with 

1 68 Early Western Travels [Vol. 13 

the Pottoe. It is also said to be navigable near 100 miles, 
and possessed of a gentle current. 

From Mr. Pettis, the surveyor, I obtained two small 
specimens of the oil-stone, or hone of the Washita. It is a 
siliceous slaty rock, of a conchoidal and sometimes splintery 
fracture, bordering on hornstone ; some of it is as white as 
snow, and it splits so evenly as to afford hones without any 
additional [118] labour. Occasionally it appears divided 
by ferruginous illinitions, presenting muscoid ramifica- 
tions in relief, but scarcely discolouring the surface. It 
feebly absorbs oil or water, and then becomes somewhat 
diaphanous. It is infusible by the common blowpipe. ^^" 

31st.] This evening we proceeded to David M'llmery's, 
about three miles above the Cadron, who lived about a 
mile and a half from the bank of the river, at the head of 
a small alluvial plain or prairie, apparently well calculated 
for a superior farm. While passing through this prairie, 
I observed five deer feeding, and passed almost without 
disturbing them. 

Wild cats of two kinds, both striped and spotted, as well 
as panthers, bears, and wolves (black and grey), are in 
considerable abundance in this country. The bison (im- 
properly called buffaloe) is also met with occasionally in 
the distance of about a day's ride towards the Washita. 

The inhabitants were just beginning to plough for cotton, 
an operation here not very laborious, except when breaking 
up the prairies, as the soil is friable and loamy. 

In a small prairie adjoining, where a second family were 
residing, a single tree of the bow-wood (or Madura) ex- 
isted, having a trunk of about 18 inches diameter. 

^^' For a further account of this mineral, which appeared to be undescribed, 
see a note in the Essay on the Geological Structure of the Valley of the Missis- 
sippi, which I pubhshed in the first part of the second volume of the Journal 
of the Academy of the Natural Sciences of Philadelphia. — Nuttall. 

i8i8-i82o] Nut t all' s Journal 169 

April ist.] The Arkansa after a sudden rise had now 
commenced again to fall; its inundations being chiefly 
vernal, taking place from February to May, are less in- 
jurious than those of the Missouri and Mississippi, which 
occur in mid-summer, and are consequently unavoidably 
injurious to the advancing crops. This circumstance also 
tends to prove, that no considerable [119] branch of this 
river derives its source within the region of perpetual snow, 
which dissolves most in the warmest season of the year, 
and that its inundations are merely the effect of winter 
rains; its rising and falling, from the same cause, is also 
much more sudden than that of the Missouri. 

About eight miles from the Cadron, we passed Mr. 
Marsongill's,"^ pleasantly situated on the gentle declivity 
of a ridge of hills, which commence about a mile from the 
river. Three miles further, we passed Mr. Fraser's, the 
commencement of the Pecannerie settlement. Here, at 
the distance of more than 12 miles, the hills of the Petit 
John appear conspicuous and picturesque. In three mUes 
more, seven or eight houses are seen, situated along either 
bank of the river, and sufficiently contiguous for an agree- 
able neighbourhood. 

From the Cadron upwards, the falls of the rivulets 
afford conveniences for mills. A grist-mill did not, how- 
ever, as yet exist on the banks of the Arkansa, though a 
saw-mill had been recently erected.^^^ 

2d.] Mr. D. proceeded about eight miles above Fraser's, 

"' The name may be a corruption of Massengill. Two brothers of this name, 
who had been Tories during the American Revolution, drifted into the region 
in 1818, and soon passed on before the advancing tide of civilization. On the 
Pecannerie settlement and the character of its people, see post, pp. 280-281. — Ed. 

"* If the date given by local authorities is correct, Nuttall is wrong in assert- 
ing that no grist-mill had been set up prior to his visit. William and John 
Standlee are said to have erected a grist- and saw-mill in 18 18, the first within 
the present limits of Faulkner County. — Ed. 

170 Early Western Travels [Vol. 13 

and remained the rest of the afternoon nearly opposite to 
the bayou or rivulet of point Remu/^^ from whence, on 
that side, commences the Cherokee line. Here the hills 
again approach in gentle declivities, presenting beds of 
black slaty siliceous rock (grauwacke slate), inclined about 
60° south-east. Both banks of the river in this distance 
are one continued line of farms. Some of the cabins are 
well situated on agreeable rising grounds; but the nearer, 
I perceive, the land is to the level of inundation, the 
greater is its fertility. The highest grounds are thin and 
sandy, so much so, that occasionally the Cactus or prickly- 
pear makes its appearance. 

3d.] Still opposite point Remu. On this side of the 
river, where Mr. Ellis now resides, an agreeable site for a 
town offers, but the landing is bad. A few [120] miles 
back there are not less than 14 families scattered over the 
alluvial land. There were also a number of families 
settled along the banks of the Remu. Adjoining Mr. 
Ellis's there was a small sandy prairie, over which I found 
Cactus's and the Plantago gnaphaloides abundantly 
scattered. I am informed that there are considerable 
quantities of this poor and sandy land, though not in any 
one place very extensive, and immediately surrounded with 
richer lands which have been, and are yet skirted by the 
overflow. With slight banking, these lands, not too 
deeply submerged, will one day be considered the best for 
all kinds of produce, but more particularly maize and rice. 

4th.] A storm of wind sprang up during the night from 
the south-west, and continued so as to retard us, after 
proceeding with difhculty about six miles, in which dis- 
tance we arrived at the house of Mr. Tucker, situated at 

139 Qj. Point Remove, whose name is derived from the action of the current. 
For the boundary of the Cherokee reservation, see post, note 145. — Ed. 

i8i8-i82o] Nuttairs Journal ij\ 

the base of a lofty ridge of broken hills, not less than 6 or 
700 feet high, presenting an alternation of terraces and 
cliffs, and continuing in a north-west direction nearly 
the same height for about eight miles. This range is 
known by the same name as that of the contiguous 
rivulet, the Little John,^*" some Frenchman probably 
who first discovered it. At the south-east end I found 
the ascent very steep, and which, like most considerable 
chains, was at this extremity the highest and most pre- 
cipitous. From the summit a vast wilderness presented 
itself covered with trees, and chequered with ranges 
of mountains, which appeared to augment and converge 
towards the north-west. To the east a considerable 
plain stretches out, almost uninterrupted by elevations. 
From the south-west I could enumerate four distinct 
chains of mountains, of which the furthest, about 
40 miles distant, presented in several places lofty blue 
peaks, much higher than any of the intermediate and less 
broken ridges. I thought that this ridge tended some- 
what towards the Mamelle, whose summit at this distance 
[121] was quite distinct, though, at the lowest estimate, 40 
miles distant. To the north-east the hills traverse the river, 
and are in this quarter also of great elevation, affording 
sources to some of the streams of White river, and to others 
which empty into the Arkansa. Over the vast plain im- 
mediately below me, appeared here and there belts of 
cypress, conspicuous by their brown tops and horizontal 
branches; they seem to occupy lagoons and swamps, at 
some remote period formed by the river. As it regards 
their structure, the lower level of the hills was slaty, the 

"" The Little John (or Petit Jean) enters the Arkansas at the northeast corner 
of Yell County. Tradition says that the stream is named for a Frenchman of 
small stature, named Jean, who was here killed by the Indians. — Ed. 

172 Early Western Travels [Vol. 13 

tabular summits a massive, fine-grained sandstone, con- 
taining nodules of iron ore. In one place I also saw one of 
those gigantic tessellated zoophytic impressions,"^ which 
indicate the existence of coal. The dip of the sandstone 
is inconsiderable, and to the north-west. Towards the 
southern extremity of the ridge which I ascended, there 
are several enormous masses of rock so nicely balanced as 
almost to appear the work of art; one of them, like the 
druidical monuments of England, rocked backwards and 
forwards on the slightest touch. On the shelvings of this 
extremity of the mountain, I found a new species of 

As we proceeded in the boat, towards the level of the 
river, and about a mile below the entrance of the Petit 
John, we could perceive a slaty and partly horizontal bed 
of matter, in which there were distinct indications of coal. 

5th.] We passed the outlet of the Petit John, a rivulet 
about 200 miles long, deriving its source with the Pottoe 
and other streams in the Mazern mountains. Here the 
hills turn off abruptly to the south, and for four or five 
miles border the rivulet, which, for some distance, keeping 
a course not very far from the Arkansa, approaches within 
10 miles to the south-east of the Dardanelle settlement. 
At the distance of [122] about five miles from the first 
Cherokee village, called the Galley, Mr. D. and myself 
proceeded to it by land. The first two or three miles pre- 
sented elevated and rich alluvial lands, but in one or two 
directions bordered by the back-water. At length we 
arrived at the Galley hills, a series of low and agreeable 
acclivities well suited for building. Here the Cherokees 
had a settlement of about a dozen families, who, in the 

"^ A Strobilaria, more commonly considered as a species of Phytolite. 


i8i8-i82o] Nuttair s 'Journal 173 

construction and furniture of their houses, and in the 
management of their farms, imitate the whites, and 
appeared to be progressing towards civilization, were it 
not for their baneful attachment to whiskey. Towards 
the level of the river a darkish bed of slate-clay appeared, 
having a dip of not more than 10 to 15°; beneath which 
occurred a slaty sandstone, containing a little mica, and 
somewhat darkened apparently by bitumen. It likewise 
abounded with organic reliquiae, among which were some- 
thing like large alcyonites, sometimes the thickness of a 
finger, but flexuous instead of rigid, and collected together 
in considerable quantities; also, a moniliform fossil allied 
to the Icthyosarcolite of Desmarest, though not very dis- 
tinctly, being equally flexuous with the above, and frag- 
ments resembling some species of turrilites, but no shells 
of any other description, besides these, were visible. 

The insects which injure the morel cherry-tree so much 
in Pennsylvania, I perceive, here occasionally act in the 
same way upon the branches of the wild cherry, {Prunus 

6th.] This morning the river appeared rapidly rising 
to its former elevation, being nearly bank full, almost a 
mile in width, and but little short of the Mississippi in 
magnitude. The current was now probably four or five 
miles in the hour, and so difiicult to stem, that after the 
most laborious exertions since day-light, we were still in 
the evening five miles below the Dardanelle, having made 
only about 10 miles [123] from the Galley. We have had 
the low ridge, which originated this fanciful name, in sight 
nearly the whole day. On the same side of the river, but 
more distant, a magnificent empurpled mountain occupies 
the horizon, apparently not less than 1000 feet high, form- 
ing a long ridge or table, and abrupt at its southern ex- 

174 Early Western Travels [Vol. 13 

tremity. From its peculiar form it had received the name 
of the Magazine or Barn by the French hunters."^ It 
strongly resembles the English mountain in the north of 
Yorkshire, called Pendle-hill, familiar to me from infancy, 
and by which all the good wives in the surrounding country 
could foretel the weather better than by the almanac. 

Along either bank the lands are generally elevated and 
fertile, and pretty thickly scattered with the cabins and 
farms of the Cherokees, this being the land allotted to them 
by congress, inexchange for others in the Mississippi Terri- 
tory, where the principal part of the nation stUl remain. 

I was considerably disappointed in learning that Mr. D. 
had relinquished the idea of proceeding to the garrison, 
with whom I had entertained the hope of continuing my 
passage, without interruption or additional delay. 

7th.] Both banks of the river, as we proceeded, were 
lined with the houses and farms of the Cherokees, and 
though their dress was a mixture of indigenous and 
European taste, yet in their houses, which are decently 
furnished, and in their farms, which were well fenced and 
stocked with cattle, we perceive a happy approach 
towards civilization. Their numerous families, also, well 
fed and clothed, argue a propitious progress in their popu- 
lation. Their superior industry, either as hunters or 
farmers, proves the value of property among them, and 
they are no longer strangers to avarice, and the distinctions 
created by wealth ; some of them are possessed of property 
to the amount of many thousands of dollars, have houses 
handsomely [124] and conveniently furnished, and their 
tables spread with our dainties and luxuries. 

^^ Magazine Mountain rises two hundred and eighty feet above the level of the 
stream. It terminates on the river in the headland called the "Dardanelle," 
to be described a few pages below. — Ed. 

t8i8-i82o] Nuttair s yournal 175 

They say, that their language is perfectly distinct from 
that of every other spoken by the aborigines.*" Yet the 
Delawares, according to Mr. Heckewelder, considered 
them as their descendants. 

The following notice of them occurs in La Vega's history 
of the incursion of Ferdinand de Soto, as early as the year 
1 541. Seven days' journey from Cutifachiqui, which is 
stated to be 430 Spanish leagues, or 860 miles from the bay 
of Apalache, and in a direction of from south-west to north- 
east, De Soto arrived in a province called Chalaque (evi- 
dently the same people now called Cherokees, as they call 
themselves Chalakee). The country they then occupied 
was said to be sterile, and affording but little maize, that 
they fed upon spontaneous roots and herbs, which they 
sought in the wilds, and upon the animals of the forest, 
hunted with bows and arrows. In their manners they were 
gentle, and went habitually naked. Their chief sent as a 
present to De Soto a couple of deer skins, and their country 
abounded with wild hens (probably the Prairie hen, 
Tetrao ciipido). In one town they made him a present of 
700 of these birds, and he experienced the like liberality in 
several other of their towns. "^ 

They were acquainted with this country prior to their 
removal, but never laid any claim to it. It was merely 
the resort of their renegadoes and wandering hunters. 
The number who have now emigrated hither are about 
1500. The unsettled limit of their claim in this country, 
has been the means of producing some dissatisfaction, 
and exciting their jealousy [125] against the agents of 

**^ Charlevoix also remarks, ' ' I cannot find out to what language the Cher- 
okees belong, a pretty numerous people, who inhabit the vast meadows between 
the Lake Erie, and the Mississippi," and adds, that the Iroquois make war with 
them. Hist. Journal, p. 115, London Ed. — Nuttaxl. 

'" Purchas's Pilgrims, vol. IV., p. 1539. — Nuttaxl. 

176 Early Western Travels [Vol. 13 

government. One of their principal chiefs had said, that 
rather than suffer any embarrassment and uncertainty, 
he would proceed across Red river, and petition land 
from the Spaniards. The Cherokees, with their present 
civilized habits, industry, and augmenting population, 
would prove a dangerous enemy to the frontiers of the 
Arkansa Territory. As they have explicitly given up the 
lands which they possessed in the Mississippi Territory, 
in exchange for those which they have chosen here, there 
can be no reason why they should not immediately be 
conjSrmed, so as to preclude the visits of land speculators, 
which excite their jealousy. A serious misunderstand- 
ing will probably arise at their ejectment from the south 
side of the river, which has, I believe, been concluded on 
by the government. Although the power of the natives is 
now despised, who can at this time tell, what may grow out 
of this nation of the aborigines, who, by wisely embracing 
the habits and industry of the Anglo-Americans, may in 
time increase, and become a powerful and independent 
nation, subject by habit to a monarchial form of govern- 

We find mention, as already remarked, of the Chero- 
kees (under the name of Chalaque) by Garcilasso de la 
Vega, who found them living near the Apalachian moun- 
tains, and speaks in contempt of their poverty and popula- 
tion. At this time, however, they amount to between 12 
and 13,000 souls, and are in a promising way of advancing 
beyond all the other aborigines in strength and population. 
From examining the oldest histories and maps, it appears 
that a portion of this nation also occupied the sea-coast of 
South Carolina, where, according to a tradition stiU ex- 
tant, they first saw the white people approach in ships, 
near to the present site of the city of Charlestown. They 

1818-1820] Nuttair s journal lyy 

requested, say they, a small portion of land, which was 
readily granted, but at length encroached [126] upon us, 
until we had to cross the mountains, and now even the 
banks of the Mississippi."^ 

Arriving in the afternoon at Mr. Raphael's, who keeps 
a store for the supply of the Cherokees, I hastened to 
examine the neighbouring ridge of rocks, which originated 
the name of the Dardanelle, or as it is here more commonly 
called Derdanai, both by the French and Americans. "° 
The fires which commonly take place among the dry 

*** It is not now believed that the Cherokee ever occupied the Carolina coast. 
It is more probable that they came from the north, a century or two before De 
Soto visited them. Their traditions and the researches of archaeologists indi- 
cate that their original home was northwest of Lake Superior, whence they mi- 
grated southeast, coming up the Ohio and the Kanawha valleys, and finally 
descending the Great Valley of the Appalachians to their historic seat. They 
are thought to have built, en passant, the mounds of the Ohio region. 

The removal policy was a gradual development. Even before the close of 
the eighteenth century — soon, in fact, after the treaty of Hopewell (1785) — 
bands began to cross the Mississippi; and as the pressure of white population 
increased the migration was facilitated by treaties. In 1803, President Jeffer- 
son suggested the desirabihty of removing the tribe beyond the river, and the 
Act of 1804, dividing the Louisiana Purchase, appropriated $15,000 for this 
purpose. In 1809, Jefferson encouraged a part of the tribe which was discon- 
tented with existing conditions to send a delegation to inspect lands on the Ar- 
kansas, with a view to exchanging their old range for a new one in that region. 
The exchange was not consummated until 181 7, by which time the migration of 
families and small parties had swelled the number in Arkansas to two or three 
thousand. The treaty of July 8, 1817, gave the Arkansas Cherokee a tract 
lying between the White and Arkansas rivers, bounded on the east by a hne 
running northeast from Point Remove on the Arkansas to Shield's Ferry on 
White River, and on the west by a parallel line starting from Table Rock, just 
above Fort Smith. This reserve was surrendered in 1825 for seven milhon acres 
in Indian Territory. The main body of the eastern Cherokee were removed 
to the Territory under a treaty made in 1835. — Ed. 

*^ Derdanai, or "Dardonnie," is said to mean "sleep with one eye." The 
name and the appearance of the rocks suggest the Dardanelles, whence, it is 
alleged, the modification of the name to Dardanelle. The Cherokee agency 
was located on this site in 1820; but the town proper dates from the coming, 
some years later, of white settlers ejected from Indian lands. The modem 
town of Dardanelle is the most important commercial town on the river be- 
tween Little Rock and Fort Smith. — Ed. 

178 Early Western Travels [Vol.13 

herbage, and which had but recently been in action, pre- 
vented me from making any botanical collections, and I 
amused myself by ascending the ridge, which, at the first 
approach, appeared to be inaccessible. At length I 
gained the summit, which, at the highest point on the bank 
of the river, might be about 300 feet. The rock was a 
massive sandstone, with the laminae elevated towards the 
south-east, at an inclination of near 60°, and, in many 
places intricately traversed with seams of ferruginous 
matter, presenting, by their numerous intersections, an 
almost tessellated or retiform appearance. In some speci- 
mens, the interstices were perfectly rhomboidal, and sep- 
arated into rhombic fragments. Several enormous and 
romantic blocks were scattered along the margin of the 
river, and on some of them small trees were growing. 
From the summit opened another sublime view of the 
surrounding country. Again to the south and south-west, 
I could distinguish three of the four chains of mountains, 
which were visible from the high hills of the Petit John, 
and still, to my surprise, distinctly appeared the Mamelle, 
though, by water, near upon 100 miles distant, and not 
less than 60 by land, which would appear to argue an ele- 
vation more considerable than that which I had at first 
imagined. The Magazine mountain to the west, though, 
at first, apparently so near, is not less than 10 miles distant, 
looking, if any thing, more considerably elevated than the 
Mamelle, and probably not less than 1200 feet high. In 
this point of view, it appears [127] isolated, gradually 
descending into the plain, and accumulating in magnitude 
to the north-west; it here descends rather more abruptly, 
though the highest point is still to the south, where it 
appears to rise in broken fasf ades unconnectedly with the 
auxiliary ridge. 

1818-1820] Nuttair s journal 179 

8th.] From the Cherokees I understood that there still 
exists some portion of the Natchez, who live with the 
Choctaws, near Mobile river. It would be interesting to 
learn, what affinities their language possesses with that 
of the existing nations. The Chetimachas of bayou Plac- 
quimine, said by Du Pratz to speak the same language, 
and to be a branch of the same people, might also afford 
some information concerning the Natchez and their con- 
nections. ^^^ 

In the evening, we crossed to the right-hand cliff of the 
Dardanelle, where Mr. D. again renewed his trade with 
the Indians and their retailers. I embraced this oppor- 
tunity to make one of my usual rambles, and found an 
extraordinary difference in the progress of vegetation here, 
exposed to the south and sheltered from the north-west- 
ern wind. Proceeding leisurely towards the summit of 
the hill, I was amused by the gentle murmurs of a rill of 
pellucid water, which broke from rock to rock. The 
acclivity, through a scanty thicket, rather than the usual 
sombre forest, was already adorned with violets, and occa- 
sional clusters of the parti-coloured Collinsia. The groves 
and thickets were whitened with the blossoms of the Dog- 

'*' When first encountered by whites in 1560, the Natchez occupied a consid- 
erable tract on the east side of the Mississippi. Their chief village was near the 
site of the modem Natchez. According to their own traditions, they came from 
the Southwest, and their customs — worship of the sun, human sacrifices, etc. — 
indicate a connection with the Indians of Mexico and Yucatan. The men were 
of large stature, few being under six feet. The tribe soon acquired dissolute 
habits from the whites, and rapidly dwindled in numbers. Hostilities with the 
French began in 17 15, and continued intermittently until 1740. The Choctaw 
and Chickasaw became involved, the former as allies of the French, and the 
latter, incited by the English, as allies of the Natchez. The final result of the 
wars was the extinction of the Natchez as a distinct tribe, although a remnant 
long persisted among the Chickasaw and Muskogee; in 1835 this remnant 
numbered three hundred souls. 

The Chetimachas were a small tribe which dwelt on Lake Grand, in south- 
ern Louisiana. — Ed. 

i8o Early Western Travels [Vol.13 

wood (Cornus florida). The lugubrious vociferations of 
the whip-poor-will; the croaking frogs, chirping crickets, 
and whoops and halloos of the Indians, broke not dis- 
agreeably the silence of a calm and fine evening, in which 
the thermometer still remained at 70°; and though the 
scene was not finished in the usual style of rural landscape, 
yet to me it was peculiarly agreeable, when contrasted 
with the dull monotony of a gloomy and interminable 
forest, [128] whose solitude had scarcely ever been cheered 
by the voices or habitations of men. 

9th.] In the forenoon, I proceeded to Mr. Webber's, 
along the hills of the Dardanelle, which border the right 
bank of the river, opposite to which, a contiguous ridge 
and similar cliffs also appear, forming, as it were, a wide 
chasm traversed by the river. The approach of these 
hills to either bank, like vast portals, probably originated 
the name of this place. Walking along the margin of the 
continued precipice which bordered the river, I observed 
a brownish animal quickly retreating into its burrow, 
which in size appeared to be little short of that of a mole. 
On rolling away a fragment of rock, I succeeded in dis- 
covering that the object of my pursuit was an enormous 
spider, no less than four inches from the extremity of one 
foot to that of the other, and two inches from head to tail, 
covered with long brown hair; the eyes six in number and 
minute, the mouth not discoverable, but in the place of 
jaws, as in the Monoculi, two of the six pair of feet, of a 
strong cartilaginous texture, very short and retracted 
together, each terminated by a simple hooked claw, and 
internally lined with a row of minute teeth for masti- 
cation. In fact, it entirely resembled those gigantic trop- 
ical spiders, which we see exhibited in museums. 

The rocks, like many others which we had now seen, 

1818-1820] Nuttair s 'Journal 1 8 1 

are still arenilitic, and apparently destitute of organic 
remains. From the enormous dislocated masses and 
gaping chasms which here border the precipice, I am 
strongly inclined to believe, that this ridge had, at some 
period, been convulsed by an earthquake. 

In the course of my inquiries concerning minerals, I 
was told of the existence of a silver mine, somewhere along 
the banks of White river, but though the opinion is a very 
prevalent one, it is necessary to receive it with caution. 
Fragments of pyrites, as [129] usual, have been shown to 
me for precious ores, and the true statement of their value, 
so contrary to sanguine expectation, is often treated as 
an imposition to conceal their importance. 

Mr. Walter Webber, a metif, who acts as an Indian 
trader, is also a chief of the nation, and lives in ease and 
affluence, possessing a decently furnished and well pro- 
vided house, several negro slaves, a large, well cleared, 
and well fenced farm; and both himself and his nephew 
read, write, and speak English. Yesterday, while pass- 
ing along the bank of the river, I observed with pleasure 
the fine farms and comfortable cabins occupied by the 
Indians, and found them very busily employed felling 
trees, and clearing their grounds preparatory to the seed- 
time. The failure, however, of last year's crops, in conse- 
quence of the dry weather, was severely felt, and more 
particularly in consequence of the arrival among them of 
many ill-provided families of emigrants from the old 

In the evening, the brother of their late principal chief 
Tallantusky,"^ arrived here, accompanied by his wife and 

"* Tallantusky (Tollontuskee, Tollunteeskee, Tolontusky, Talootiske, etc.) 
was one of the chiefs who signed the treaty of October 25, 1805, at Tellico, Ten- 
nessee. This rewarded Tallantusky and another chief, Doublehead, by certain 

1 82 Early Western Travels [Vol.13 

two or three other Indians. He last year took leave of 
the old nation in the Mississippi territory, and embarked 
with the emigrants, who are yet far from forming a ma- 
jority of the nation. Being a half Indian, and dressed 
as a white man, I should scarcely have distinguished him 
from an American, except by his language. He was very 
plain, prudent, and unassuming in his dress and manners; 
a Franklin amongst his countrymen, and affectionately 
called the ''beloved" father. Sensible to the wants of 
those who had accompanied him in his emigration, he had 
confidently expected a supply of flour and salt from Mr. 
Drope, all of which articles had, however, been sold be- 
low, excepting a small quantity reserved for the chief him- 
self. He could have sent, he said, some of his people down 
to the mouth of the river, to purchase maize and flour, 
but that it would interrupt them [130] in preparing their 
fields for the ensuing crop. Mr. D., who had in the Mis- 
sissippi territory become acquainted with JoUy,"^ the 
chief, tells me that his word was inviolable, and that his 

secret reservations; and for this and further abuses of his power Doublehead 
was afterwards slain by decree of other chiefs of his tribe. To Tallantusky 
is due the estabhshment of the first mission among the Cherokee of Arkansas . 
While visiting the eastern Cherokee in 1818, he met an officer of the American 
Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, and invited him to send mission- 
aries to his people. As the result, Cephas Washburn and Alfred Finney, ac- 
companied by their famiUes, estabUshed Dwight mission, opposite Dardanelle, 
in the spring of 1820. The station was named in honor of Timothy Dwight, 
the president of Yale College, and a pioneer organizer of the mission board. 

Tallantusky's brother, here mentioned, was Jolly the chief, referred to in 
the text a few Hnes below. See following note. — Ed. 

"' John Jolly (Oolooteka), brother of Tallantusky, and his successor as 
chief, had removed from the mouth of the Hiawassee, in Tennessee. There 
young Samuel Houston, famous later as the emancipator of Texas, had won his 
friendship and been adopted as his son. After the Arkansas Cherokee had 
removed to Indian Territory, Houston settled near Jolly (1829), and married 
his niece, Talihina, daughter of a half-breed named Rogers. See post, note 
153.— Ed. 

or T-^i: 

OF , /' 

1818-1820] NuttaWs Journal 183 

generosity knew no bounds, but the limitation of his 

nth.] Returning from my rambles to-day, chiefly in 
quest of insects, I picked off my skin and clothes more 
than 50 ticks (Acanis sanguisugas), which are here more 
abundant and troublesome than in any other part of 
America in which I have yet been. Many of the same 
kinds of insects, common to the banks of the Missouri, 
and, indeed, to most parts of the United States, are also 
found in this territory. 

From the hills in the vicinity of Mr. Webber's, I obtained 
a fine view of the Magazine mountain, and now found that 
it was connected with a range of others, proceeding for 
many miles a little to the north of west. The side which 
here presents itself, appeared almost inaccessibly precip- 

15th.] This afternoon, I had again the pleasure of seeing 
the brother of the late governor Lewis, now Cherokee 
agent, whom I had first met with at fort Mandan, on the 
Missouri.^^" From him I learn, that the progress of civil- 
ization among the Cherokees, is comparatively modem; 
that Nancy Ward,^^^ called by way of eminence and 
esteem ''the beloved," first introduced among them the 
domesticated cow. From her have sprung several men 

"° Reuben Lewis. See Bradbury's Travels, volume v of our series, note 
93.— Ed. 

'"Nancy Ward was born about 1740. Her father was a British officer, 
and her mother a sister of the principal chief of the Cherokee. The Indians 
believed her to be the inspired mouthpiece of the Great Spirit, and allowed her 
a voice in their councils with the power of deciding the fate of captives. She 
was friendly to the whites, and. several times saved captives from death. In 
1776 she warned the settlers of the Holston and Watauga rivers of the hostile 
plans of her kinsmen, and in 1781 represented her tribe in seeking peace 
from the frontiersmen. She is described as tall, erect, and beautiful, with prom- 
inent nose, regular features, clear complexion, long, silken black hair, large, 
piercing black eyes, and an imperious yet kindly air. — Ed. 

184 Rarly Western Travels [Vol.13 

of distinction in the nation, by whose influence and ex- 
ample the condition of their Indian brethren has been 
amehorated. Her advice and council borders on supreme, 
her interference is allowed to be decisive even in affairs 
of life and death. 

From the civilized Cherokees, with whom alone I could 
conveniently hold converse, I found it extremely difficult 
to acquire any knowledge, either of the traditions, opin- 
ions, or ancient customs of their nation. The humiliating 
details of former poverty, [131] ignorance, and supersti- 
tion, tended to wound the feelings of those, who, besides 
the advantages, had also imbibed the pride and luxury of 
Europe. If the Cherokees had only discarded their super- 
stitions, and retained their social virtues, besides acquir- 
ing habits of industry, we might indeed congratulate them 
on the change of their condition; but, unfortunately, with 
the superior intelligence, conveniences, and luxuries of 
civilization, have also been acquired that selfish attach- 
ment to property, that love of riches, which, though not 
really intrinsic, have still the power to purchase sinister 
interest, and separate the condition of men, and hence 
arises that accumulation of laws and punishments, from 
which the patriarchal state of those we call savages was 
so happily exempt. No legal snares were laid for the 
heedless; no gallows erected for the guilty; no contest 
arose for wealth or power. Every tribe was but a single 
family; their aged chief and his venerable associates were 
as fathers, governors, and advisers. Their young men 
considered themselves as brothers. No one was rich while 
the others were poor; and they considered nothing of 
value that was not essentially useful. As their frugal 
wants were almost spontaneously supplied, they were 
strangers alike to poverty and affluence; they boasted not 




i8i8-i82o] NuttalFs Journal 187 

of possessions; and were habitually hospitable to stran- 
gers. Scarcely sensible of want, they were alive to friend- 
ship and undissembled passions. Their pride, confined 
to personal excellence, was always checked by the emula- 
tion of superior worth, sanctioned and acknowledged by 
the approbation of the aged. 

Almost unrestrained by artifice or moral education, we 
should, perhaps, expect the man of nature to become the 
prey of passion, like the irrational creation. Yet so nicely 
balanced, in every situation, is the proportion of good and 
evil allotted to humanity, that one stage of society has but 
little advantage over another. [132] Nature is not a cruel 
demon, nor delights in the accomplishment of destruc- 
tion. Those who are fed by her frugal bounties are but 
seldom hurried into excess; indeed, the nations of America 
were stigmatized with apathy, so great was their command 
of the social passions, and their magnanimity under suffer- 
ing. But the dire hatred which they bore their enemies, 
was a lasting proof of the strength of their affections, and 
mutual attachment. They felt for each other as mem- 
bers of the same family, as sons of the same father; a 
band of brothers mutually bound to defend and revenge 
the cause of each other, by a just and undeviating system 
of retaliation. 

Their affection for those, whom time or casualty re- 
moved from the social circle, was as great and sincere, as 
extravagant demonstration could possibly declare. Among 
the Cherokees and others, the dead were not only accom- 
panied by the choicest things which they had valued in 
life, but even, if a chief or father, interred in the house 
which had been his habitation, and which was thenceforth 
devoted to ruin and desolation. So awful even was the 
inanimate body then considered, that all who had imme- 

1 88 Early Western Travels [Vol.13 

diately attended the interment, or touched the corpse, 
refrained from the company of their wives and famiUes, 
for the space of seven days and nights. 

In no part of North America have we ever met with that 
kind of irrational adoration called idolatry. All the 
natives acknowledged the existence of a great, good, and 
indivisible Spirit, the author of all created being. Be- 
lieving also in the immortality of the soul, and in the exist- 
ence of invisible agencies, they were often subjected to 
superstitious fears, and the observance of omens and 
dreams, the workings of perturbed fancy. By these im- 
aginary admonitions, they sometimes suffered themselves 
to be controlled in their most important undertakings, re- 
linquishing every [133] thing which was accidentally 
attended by any inauspicious presage of misfortune. 

As among the Asiatics, and other imperfectly civilized 
nations, the condition of the female sex bordered upon 
degradation. Considered rather as objects of pleasure 
and necessity, than as rational companions, several of 
them often lived together in the house of the same husband. 
However custom might have tolerated this habit, we are 
happy to find that civilization tends to its abolition. 
Polygamy among the Cherokees, without any legal re- 
straint, will, in time, be spontaneously abandoned, as 
their conjugal attachment appears to be strong and sincere. 

Marriage among the Cherokees, as with most of the 
natives, was formerly consummated with very little cere- 
mony. When a young man became enamoured, it was 
the custom modestly to declare his desire to marry through 
the medium of some female relative, who exclusively con- 
ferred with the mother, the father never interfering. If 
the mother agreed, and thought well of the proposal, it 

i8i8-i82o] N utt air s 'Journal 189 

was immediately made known. If not, she put off mak- 
ing a direct answer by a reference to her brother or eldest 
son. Consent being obtained of the mother, the bride- 
groom without much further conference with the bride, 
was then told where she lay, and thenceforward admitted 
to her bed. 

From some cause or other, it appears, that the women 
of the Cherokees frequently made use of means to pro- 
mote abortion, which at length became so alarming, as to 
occasion a resort to punishment by whipping. 

In all stages of society regulations have existed, either 
as controling customs, or written laws, whereby the con- 
duct of men with each other was limited and restrained. 
A system of equity was established, more or less strictly 
according with justice, as influenced by exterior circum- 
stances; thus life was claimed for [134] life, and objects 
wrested from the weak or unsuspecting, restored by the 
interference of moral power vested in superiors and rulers. 
Among the Cherokees and other Indians of North Amer- 
ica, the conviction of natural justice went so far as fre- 
quently to draw no distinction of punishment betwixt man- 
slaughter and murder. Governed also by the idea of a 
general fraternity existing throughout a tribe of people, 
the brother of a murderer, or even his nearest relative was 
not secure from the fatal avenger, in the absence of the 
principal. In consequence of this, it sometimes happened 
that the brother became the executioner of his brother or 
nearest relative, who had committed a murder, in order 
to save himself from vengeance. He who had taken away 
the life of another, either by malice or accident, was also 
occasionally suffered to redeem it, by obtaining and present- 
ing to the injured party, a scalp or a prisoner of the enemy, 
as they were satisfied in any way to obtain life for life. 

190 Early Western Travels [Vol. 13 

An institution, I believe unparallelled in the policy of 
the northern natives, except among the Cherokees and 
Creeks (and which has been quoted by Mr. Adair^^^ in 
order to prove an affinity with the Jews), was the exist- 
ence of a town of refuge, inhabited by the supreme chief, 
in which no blood was suffered to be shed, and into which 
those who had committed manslaughter and other crimes 
were suffered to enter on excusing themselves or professing 

With the inequality of fortune which civilization has 
introduced among the Cherokees, we find also a severity 
in their legal punishments, to which they were formerly 
strangers. Out of their salaries now received from gov- 
ernment, they appropriate a certain sum towards the 
support of a police, whose duty it is to punish those 
who are guilty of crimes against the public. A man 
who has for the first time been convicted of horse- 
stealing, receives a punishment of 100 lashes, and for the 
second offence 200, thus increasing [135] the punishment 
for every additional offence. For stealing a cow 50 lashes 
were inflicted, and so on, in proportion to the value of the 
property stolen. 

Mr. John Rogers, *^^ a very respectable and civilized 
Cherokee, told me that one of the regulators happening to 
have a relation who had been repeatedly guilty of theft, 
and finding him incorrigible, he destroyed his eye-sight 
with a penknife, saying, ' 'as long as you can see you will 

^'^ See Long's Voyages, our volume ii, note 31. — Ed. 

^^^ James Rogers signed the treaty of July 8, 1817, as one of the deputies 
of the Cherokee on the Arkansas. Whether he is the John Rogers here referred 
to does not clearly appear. John Rogers figures during the difficulties with the 
Osage, as the person charged with the task of bringing Osage captives from the 
Cherokee east of the Mississippi, not long after Nuttall's visit. Samuel Hous- 
ton's wife, Talihina, was the daughter of a half-breed named Rogers, quite 
possibly the person mentioned in the text. — Ed. 

i8i8-i82o] Nutt all's journal 191 

steal, I will therefore prevent your thefts by the destruc- 
tion of your sight." Dissatisfied with this system of pun- 
ishment, many of the poor renegadoes fled from the bosom 
of the Cherokee nation, and came to the banks of the 
Arkansa and Red river. The same punishment for theft 
will now, however, probably be established also in this 

The former preparation of the warrior, among the 
Cherokees, was more calculated to inspire fortitude under 
suffering than courage in the field. The chief was ever 
attentive to the admonition of dreams and omens. They 
sung the songs of war, and imposed upon themselves the 
most rigid fasts and mortifying ablutions, at all seasons of 
the year, in order to obtain a favourable omen for their 
departure. Day after day these privations and voluntary 
sufferings were continued with fearful austerity, and those 
who might express a wish for relaxation were desired to 
leave the society. 

The arrival of the Cherokees in this country did not 
fail, as might have been foreseen, to excite the jealousy 
of the Osages, within whose former territory they had now 
taken up their residence. Major Lovely, the first agent 
appointed to reside among the Cherokees of the Arkansa, 
on his arrival held a council with the Osages at the falls of 
the Verdigris, and about 60 miles distant from their village. 
Some quarrel, however, about two years ago arising be- 
tween the two nations, [136] the Osages way-layed 12 or 
14 of the Cherokees and killed them. On this occasion, 
the Cherokees collected together in considerable numbers, 
and ascended the river to take revenge upon the Osages, 
who fled at their approach, losing about 10 of their men, 
who either fell in the retreat, or becoming prisoners, were 

192 Early Western Travels [Vol. 13 

reserved for a more cruel destiny. The Cherokees, now 
forgetting the claims of civilization, fell upon the old and 
decrepid, upon the women and innocent children, and by 
their own account destroyed not less than 90 individuals ! 
and carried away a number of prisoners. A white man 
who accompanied them (named Chisholm),^^* with a 
diabolical cruelty that ought to have been punished with 
death, dashed out the brains of a helpless infant, torn from 
the arms of its butchered mother ! Satiated with a horrid 
vengeance, the Cherokees returned with exultation to bear 
the tidings of their own infamy and atrocity.^" 

It appears, to me, to have been the duty of the super- 
intendent of Indian affairs to have apprehended that white 
man, and delivered him over to the government for trial 
and punishment. Without some interference of this kind, 
and indeed a cognizance of the conduct of every white man 
found permanently dwelling among the Indians, it will 
not be possible for a traveller or a merchant to go amongst 
these people without incurring the greatest personal risk, 
as their revenge is but too often indiscriminate in its object ; 
neither can the security of the frontier settlements ever be 
rendered certain, until these wanton and unprovoked 
cruelties of the whites, and their piratical wars, be pre- 

Two or three families of the Delawares are now living 

"* John D. Chisholm was one of the deputies who signed the treaty of July, 
181 7, on behalf of the Arkansas Cherokee. Whether or not he was the person 
guilty of the crime referred to, is uncertain. — Ed. 

'^^ It would be impracticable to give here a full history of the difl&culties 
between the Cherokee and Osage. They began with the advent of the first 
Cherokee bands in Western Arkansas, for the Osage claimed the land. A treaty 
of peace between the two tribes was made at a council held at St. Louis in 
October, 1818, but it proved ineffective. In the summer of 1820, Governor James 
Miller, of Arkansas Territory, made a second imsuccessful effort to pacify the 
tribes. The United States government compelled them to conclude a treaty of 
peace in 1822, but petty depredations continued long after. — Ed. 

i8i8-i82o] Nuttair s 'Journal 193 

with the Cherokees, who appeared to be very poor, and 
addicted to intoxication. Another remnant of these un- 
fortunate people, once so considerable, is also about to be 
transferred from the state of Ohio to the [137] banks of 
the Arkansa, where, it is to be hoped, they will enjoy 
amidst domestic tranquillity the superior advantages of 

17th.] My rambles to-day were rewarded with the dis- 
covery of a new genus, of the class Tetradynamia or Cru- 
ciferae, allied to Ricotia and Lunaria. In the evening I 
visited Mr. Rollins, the agent for Indian trade, who treated 
me with politeness and hospitality. 


Pass several inconsiderable rivulets, and obtain sight of 
the Tomahawk mountain and the Gascon hills — 
Mulberry creek — that of Vache Grasse — Lee's creek 
— prairies — Sugarloaf mountain — Arrive at the gar- 
rison of Belle Point — a change in the vegetation — 
The Madura or Bow-wood — The garrison — Cedar 
prairie — Rare plants. 

20TH.] This morning I left Mr. Webber's, in a perogue 
with two French boatmen, in order to proceed to the 
garrison, abeut 120 miles distant by water. We proceeded 
nearly to Charbonniere creek,^^® 24 miles from the place 
of departure. Ten miles from Webber's we passed the 
outlet of Piney creek,^" so called from the pine-hills by 
which it is bordered. Eight miles further we came to 

^* Charbonniere Creek, in Logan County, flows northward. The entire 
north side of the county is underlaid with coal, whence the stream's name, as 
noted by Nuttall; but the principal coal layers of the region are on the opposite 
side of the river, in Johnson County, and underhe nearly 170,000 acres. — Ed. 

'*' Now called Pine Creek. It flows into the Arkansas from the north, near 
the southeastern corner of Johnson County. — Ed. 

1 94 Early Western Travels [Vol. 13 

Rocky creek/^^ opposite to the outlet of which, a ledge of 
rocks nearly traverses the Arkansa, and presents a con- 
siderable obstruction in the navigation at a low stage of 
water. The current even at this time broke with a con- 
siderable noise, 

2 1 St.] About six miles above Rocky creek we passed 
the Charbonniere, so called from the occurrence of coal 
in its vicinity; we also observed the outlet of Spadrie 
creek/^® on the borders of which there [138] are consider- 
able tracts of fertile land, well supplied with springs, and 
occupied by the Cherokees. The rocks which occa- 
sionally border the river, of very inconsiderable elevation, 
are composed of slaty sandstone, dipping about 25°, 
sometimes towards the north-west, and at others to the 
south-east, or in opposite directions, and also exhibiting 
indications of coal. The Charbonniere rock, in particular, 
about 50 feet high, presents beds of a slaty sandstone, with 
a dip of scarcely 20°, and inclined in opposite directions 
so as to form a basin, in which there are indications of coal. 
A lofty blue ridge appears to the south, called by the 
French hunters the Cassetete or Tomahawk mountain, ^®'' 
and about eight miles from hence enters the creek of the 
same name, beyond which we proceeded eight miles of 
a 12 mile bend, making a journey of about 28 miles in the 
course of the day, and encamped in view of another lofty 

*^' Apparently the modem Shoal Creek, a Logan County tributary of the 
Arkansas. — Ed. 

'^' Spadra Creek flows southward. Its mouth is opposite that of the Char- 
bonniere, at the village of Spadra. — Ed. 

*°" Apparently the elevation which is now called Short Mountain, in Central 
Logan County. Short Mountain is nearly round, and the area of its base is 
about two square miles. It is northwest of Paris, the county seat. The top 
is level, and is occupied by farms. The elevation is locally estimated at five 
hundred feet above the neighboring country, or eight hundred feet above sea 
level. To the west is Upper Short Mountain; the two are often called Twin 
Mountains. Cassetete Creek is now called Short Mountain Creek. — Ed. 

1818-1820] Nuttair s "Journal 195 

ridge of mountains. We saw, as we proceeded, no less 
than 13 deer and a bear. 

22d.] Four miles from Allmand creek the Cassetete 
mountain appears very distinct, and somewhat resembles 
the Magazine; being a long ridge abrupt at either end. 
Another range also was visible at a considerable distance, 
called the Gascon hills. "^ We were detained awhile by 
a thunder-storm, but proceeded, notwithstanding, about 
30 miles, and encamped on an island just below the outlet 
of Mulberry creek, ^^^ on the banks of which, before the 
arrival of the Cherokees, there was a considerable settle- 
ment on a body of excellent land. It now constitutes the 
Cherokee line of demarkation, and they made free to oc- 
cupy the deserted cabins and improvements of the whites 
without any compensation received either from them or the 
government. The bend, which we continued this morn- 
ing, of 12 miles extent, is surrounded on the right hand 
side with an amphitheatre of lofty cliffs, 3 to 400 feet high, 
having a highly romantic and picturesque [139] appear- 
ance. Nearly continuing to Mulberry creek, a fine stretch 
of about eight miles opens to view, affording an ample 
prospect of the river; its rich alluvions were now clothed 
in youthful verdure, and backed in the distance by bluish 

*"' Allmand Creek and the Gascon hills are not to be identified from Nuttall's 
description. — Ed. 

162 Mulberry Creek is the chief northern tributary of the Arkansas in Franklin 
County, and the settlements on its banks were probably the first made by Amer- 
icans in northwestern Arkansas. In 1814, three famiUes, named Billingsleyi 
Adams, and Williams, eighteen persons in all, left middle Tennessee in a flat- 
boat, and after a year at Cadron reached the Mulberry in 1816. After the sign- 
ing of the treaty which gave the north side of the river to the Cherokee, these 
settlers scattered along the south side. In 1818, Simon Miller, with his son 
Jesse and others, had settled on the Mulberry. Altogether, eighteen families 
are said to have reached the region before the Cherokee treaty was made. After 
the removal of the Indians in 1828, Jesse Miller returned, and other white set- 
tlers soon occupied the region. — Ed. 

196 Early Western Travels [Vol. 13 

and empurpled hills. The beauty of the scenery was also 
enlivened by the melody of innumerable birds, and the 
gentle humming of the wild bees, feeding on the early 
blooming willows, ^"^ which in the same manner line the 
picturesque banks of the Ohio. The Arkansa, in its gen- 
eral appearance throughout this day's voyage, bears, in- 
deed, a considerable resemblance to that river. It is 
equally diversified with islands, and obstructed in its 
course by gravelly rapids; two of them which we passed 
to-day, could not have a collective fall of less than 10 or 
12 feet each. 

The sandstone beds still present very little dip, and by 
contrary inclinations produce the appearance of basins or 
circumscribed vallies. 

23d.] Two miles above Mulberry creek we passed two 
islands nearly opposite to each other, and a settlement of 
three or four families situated along the left bank of the 
river, on a handsome rising ground, flanked by a continued 
ridge of low hills. The dawn of morning was again 
ushered in by the songs of thousands of birds, re-echoing 
through the woods, and seeking shelter from the extensive 
plains, which every where now border the alluvion. 

We proceeded about 32 miles, and experienced a scorch- 
ing sun from noon till night, when at length the sky be- 
came obscured by clouds portentous of thunder. My 
thermometer when exposed to the sun rose to 100°. 
Nearly opposite Vache Grasse^" creek we passed a rapid, 
over which there is scarcely more than 1 2 inches water, 
in the lowest stage. No hills now appear on either hand, 
and a little distance in the prairie, [140] near Vache 
Grasse, stands the last habitation of the whites to be met 

'"^ Salix caroliniana. — Nuttaxl. 

"* Vache Grasse Creek drains Central Sebastian County. — Ed. 

i8i8-i82o] Nuttair s 'Journal 197 

with on the banks of the Arkansa, except those of the 

Not far from Lee's creek, Perpillon of the French 
hunters/^^ a low ridge again comes up to the border of the 
river, in which is discoverable the first calcareous rock on 
ascending the Arkansa. From hence also the prairies or 
grassy plains begin to be prevalent, and the trees to decrease 
in number and magnitude. Contiguous to our encamp- 
ment commenced a prairie of seven miles in length, and 
continuing within a mile of the garrison. The river, now 
presenting long and romantic views, was almost exclu- 
sively bordered with groves of cotton- wood, at this season 
extremely beautiful, resembling so many vistas clad in the 
softest and most vivid verdure, and crowded with innu- 
merable birds, but of species common to the rest of the 
United States. 

24th.] This morning we passed the hills of Lee's creek, 
which for a short distance border the Arkansa; and about 
noon arrived at the garrison,^^^ which comes into view at 

"^ So named after some Frenchmen, and not Papillon, as called by Pike. — 


Comment by Ed. Lee's Creek is called "river au Millieu" by Lieutenant 
Wilkinson, who descended the Arkansas under Pike's orders in 1807 (see post, 
note 195). The stream crosses and recrosses the line between Arkansas and 
Indian Territory, and enters the Arkansas just below Fort Smith. 

^^ The site of Fort Smith, also called Bellepoint, was chosen in the autumn 
of 181 7 by Major S. H. Long. The original fort was on the bluff just below the 
junction of the Poteau and the Arkansas. A new fort was built on the same spot 
in 1838, and three hundred acres of surrounding land was purchased. This 
reservation was transferred to the Interior Department in 1871, and by act of 
Congress (1884) donated to the city of Fort Smith for school purposes. The 
troops were withdrawn from the post in 1871, the government retaining only 
the original burying ground, now a national cemetery. Fort Smith controlled 
the principal trade of Indian Territory for many years, although the town grew 
slowly, containing only about five hundred inhabitants in 1852. It is now a 
place of from 12,000 to 15,000. 

Information is meagre relative to Major Wilham Bradford, who commanded 
at Fort Smith at this time. He was appointed (1812), captain in the 17th 

198 Early Western Travels [Vol. 13 

the distance of about four miles, agreeably terminating a 
stretch of the river. Rising, as it were, out of the alluvial 
forest, is seen from hence, at the distance of 35 miles, a 
conic mountain nearly as blue as the sky, and known by 
the French hunters under the name of Point de Sucre, or 
the sugar loaf/" 

I met with politeness from major Bradford the com- 
mander of the garrison, but was disagreeably surprised 
to be given to understand, that I could not have permission 
to proceed any higher up the river without a special cre- 
dential from the secretary of state, authorizing me to hold 
that intercourse with the natives, which I might deem 
necessary in further pursuing my journey. It appeared 
to me, however, sufficiently obvious, that the governor of 
the territory must be [141] empowered to permit an inter- 
course, civil and commercial, with the Indians, and liberty 
to travel through their country by their concurrence. 
And, indeed, all difficulty was removed by a reference to 
the recent regulations, which empowered the commanders 
of the garrisons optionally to permit such intercourse ; and 
I am happy to add, that this measure, which referred me 
to the hospitality of the major, was, apparently, as gratify- 
ing to him as to myself. 

At the benevolent request of the commander, and agree- 
ably to my intentions of exploring the natural history of 
the territory, I resolved to spend a few weeks at the garri- 
son, and make it the depot of my collections. It is with 

infantry, from Kentucky, and two years later became major. Then he was 
transferred to the Rifles, of which he became a major in 1818. From 1821-24 
he was again in the infantry, resigning in the latter year. 

Dr. Thomas Russell, mentioned on p. 199, below, was the post surgeon. 
A native of Massachusetts, he entered the army in 1814 as hospital surgeon's 
mate, and died August 24, 1819. — Ed. 

"' These mountains in southern Sebastian County still bear the name 
Sugar Loaf. — Ed. 

i8i8-i82o] Nuttair s journal 199 

a satisfaction, clouded by melancholy, that I now call to 
mind the agreeable hours I spent at this station, while 
accompanied by the friendly aid and kind participation 
of Dr. Russel, whose memory I have faintly endeavoured 
to commemorate in the specific name of a beautiful species 
of Monarda}^^ But relentless death, whose ever- withering 
hand delights to pluck the fairest flowers, added, in the 
fleeting space of a few short days, another early trophy to 
his mortal garland; and Russel, the only hope of a fond 
and widowed mother, the last of his name and family, 
now sleeps obscurely in unhallowed earth! Gentle 
Reader, forgive this tribute of sympathy to the recollection 
of one, whom fully to know was surely to esteem, as a 
gentleman, an accomplished scholar, and a sincere ad- 
mirer of the simple beauties of the field of nature. 

* * * * 

27th.] Yesterday I took a walk of about five miles up 
the banks of the Pottoe,"^ and found my labour well re- 
payed by the discovery of several new or undescribed 
plants. In this direction the surface of the ground is 
gently broken or undulated, and thinly scattered [142] 
with trees, resembling almost in this respect a cultivated 
park. The whole expanse of forest, hill, and dale, was 
now richly enamelled with a profusion of beautiful and 
curious flowers; among the most conspicuous was the 
charming Daisy of America,^^" of a delicate lilac colour, 
and altogether corresponding in general aspect with the 
European species; intermingled, appears a new species of 
Collinsia, a large-flowered Tradescantia, various species 
of Phlox, the Verbena aubletia, and the esculent Scilla. 

''* Monarda russeliana. — Nuttall. 

'*' The Poteau. The word being French for Post, may have been given to 
the river by some unhistoric French station. — Ed. 
"" Bellis integrifolia. — Nuttall. 

200 Early Western Travels [Vol. 13 

From a low hill, the neighbouring prairie appeared cir- 
cumscribed by forests, but the mountains of the Pottoe 
were not visible. The soil, even throughout the uplands, 
appeared nearly as fertile as the alluvions, and affords a 
most productive pasture to the cattle. 

On the 28th, a slow rise in the river was perceptible, 
produced by the Canadian, or similar branches, and com- 
municating a chocolate-red colour to the stream. 

In the course of the day, I walked over the hills border- 
ing the Pottoe, about six miles, in order to see some trees 
of the ^low-wood (Madura), but they were scarcely yet 
in leaf, and showed no indications of producing bloom. 
Some of them were as much as 1 2 inches in diameter, with 
a crooked and spreading trunk, 50 or 60 feet high. Its 
wood dies yellow, and scarcely differs from the Fustick of 
the West Indies. From appearances, those few insulated 
trees of the Pottoe, are on the utmost limit of their north- 
ern range, and, though old and decayed, do not appear 
to be succeeded by others, or to produce any perfect fruit. 
The day was so warm, that at 9 o'clock in the evening, the 
thermometer still stood at 75°. 

The soil, wherever there is the slightest depression, is 
of a superior quality, and thickly covered with vegetable 
earth. The trees appear scattered as if planted [143] by 
art, affording an unobstructed range for the hunter, equal 
to that of a planted park. 

On the 29th, I took an agreeable walk into the adjoining 
prairie, which is about two miles wide and seven long. I 
found it equally undulated with the surrounding woodland, 
and could perceive no reason for the absence of trees, ex- 
cept the annual conflagration. A ridge of considerable 
elevation divides it about the centre, from whence the hills 
of the Pottoe, the Cavaniol, and the Sugar-loaf, at the 

i8i8-i82o] Niittair s 'Journal 201 

distance of about 30 miles, appear partly enveloped in 
the mists of the horizon. Like an immense meadow, the 
expanse was now covered with a luxuriant herbage, and 
beautifully decorated with flowers, amongst which I was 
pleased to see the Painted Cup*" of the eastern states, 
accompanied by occasional clusters of a white flowered 
Dodecatheon or American primrose. The numerous 
rounded elevations which chequer this verdant plain, are 
so many partial attempts at shrubby and arborescent vege- 
tation, which nature has repeatedly made, and which have 
only been subdued by the reiterated operation of annual 
burning, employed by the natives, for the purpose of 
hunting with more facility, and of affording a tender pas- 
turage for the game. 

May I St.] The river still continued rising, and also red 
and turbid from an admixture of the clay of the salt 

The garrison, consisting of two block-houses, and lines 
of cabins or barracks for the accommodation of 70 men 
whom it contains, is agreeably situated at the junction of 
the Pottoe, on a rising ground of about 50 feet elevation, 
and surrounded by alluvial and uplands of unusual fertility- 
The view is more commanding and picturesque, than any 
other spot of equal elevation on the banks of the Arkansa. 
The meanders of the river to the eastward, backed by the 
hills [144] of Lee's creek, are visible for more than six 
miles. The basis of the fort is a dark-coloured slaty 
micaceous sandstone, the lamina of which, nearly hori- 
zontal, and occasionally traversed by calcareous illini- 
tions, are about four to six inches in thickness, and de- 
nudated for some hundreds of yards by the washing of the 

*" Euchrotna coccinea {Bartsia coccinea. Lin.). — Nuttall. 

20 2 Early Western Travels [Vol. 13 

current, which, in an elevated stage, roars and foams with 
great velocity. About three or four miles up the Pottoe, 
this rock is underlayed by a bituminous slate-clay, indic- 
ative of coal, beneath which, no doubt, would be found 
calcareous rock; neither this nor the sandstone, however, 
present any organic remains. 

3d.] To-day, accompanied by Doctor Russel, and an- 
other gentleman of the fort, I rode to Cedar prairie, lying 
about 10 miles south-east of the garrison, and presenting an 
irregular or undulating surface. I here found a second 
species of that interesting plant, which my venerable 
friend, William Bartram,*" called Ixia ccelestina;^''^ the 
flowers of this species are also of a beautiful blue, and 
white at the base. The whole plain was, in places, en- 
livened with the Sysirinchium anceps, producing flowers 
of an uncommon magnitude; amidst this assemblage it 
was not easy to lose sight of the azure larkspur,^''^ whose 
flowers are of the brightest ultramarine ; in the depressions 
also grew the ochroleucous Baptisia,^''^ loaded with papi- 
lionaceous flowers, nearly as large as those of the garden 

From this prairie, and more particularly from a hill 
which partly traverses it, the mountains of the Pottoe 
appeared quite distinct, the Sugar-loaf on the east, and 

"^William Bartram was born in Kingsessing, Pennsylvania, in 1739. His 
father was a botanist, and at the age of thirty William abandoned mercantile 
life and devoted himself also to that science. His studies and collections in 
the Carolinas, Georgia, and the Floridas, were most extensive. In 1782 he 
was elected professor of botany in the University of Pennsylvania, but poor 
health prevented his acceptance. He hved, however, until 1823, producing 
numerous works, and writing the description of a plant a few minutes before 
his death, which came suddenly from hemorrhage of the lungs. See also Andre 
Michaux's Travels, volvune iii of our series, note 177. — Ed. 

'" Nemasiylis cxlestina. — Nitttall. 

"* Delphinium azureum. — Nuttall. 

"' Baptisia leucophcea. — Nuttall. 


i8i8-i82o] Nuttair s 'Journal 205 

the Cavaniol, about three miles apart, on the west side of 
the river; the latter is to all appearance much the highest, 
and presents a tabular summit. The extensive and 
verdant meadow, in every direction appeared pictur- 
esquely bounded by woody hills of different degrees of ele- 
vation and distance, and lacked [145] nothing but human 
occupation to reclaim it from barren solitude, and cast 
over it the air of rural cheerfulness and abundance. 

7th.] The Pottoe and the Arkansa were now at their 
utmost elevation, and their waters of a pale or milky 
colour, in consequence of being swelled by the northern 
streams. The sand-bars and beaches were entirely sub- 
merged, and the river still also continued augmenting on 
the 8th. 

On the 9th, I again rode out to Cedar prairie, accom- 
panied by the Doctor, and one of the soldiers, whose in- 
tention was to hunt. Several deer were discovered, but 
all too shy to be approached. We spent the night about 
the centre of the first portion of the prairie, which is 
divided into two parts by the intersection of a small 
wooded rivulet; and though the evening was mild and 
delightfully tranquil, the swarms of musquetoes, aug- 
mented since the recent freshet, would not permit us to 

It is truly remarkable how greatly the sound of objects, 
becomes absorbed in these extensive woodless plains. 
No echo answers the voice, and its tones die away in 
boundless and enfeebled undulations. Even game will 
sometimes remain undispersed at the report of the gun. 
Encamping near a small brook, we were favoured by the 
usual music of frogs, and among them heard a species 
which almost exactly imitated the lowing of a calf. Just 
as night commenced, the cheerless howling of a distant 

2o6 Early Western Travels [Vol. 13 

wolf accosted our ears amidst the tranquil solitude, and 
the whole night we were serenaded with the vociferations 
of the two species of whip-poor-will. 

The dawn of a cloudy day, after to us a wakeful night, 
was ushered in by the melodious chorus of many thou- 
sands of birds, agreeably dispersing the solemnity of the 
ambiguous twilight. 

Amongst other objects of nature, my attention was 
momentarily arrested by the curious appearance of [146] 
certain conic hillocks, about three feet high, generally situ- 
ated in denudated places, and covered over with minute 
pebbles; these on closer examination proved to be the 
habitations of swarms of large red ants, who entered and 
came out by one or two common apertures. 

On the wooded margin of the prairie, the doctor and 
myself were gratified by the discovery of a very elegant 
plant, which constitutes a new genus allied reciprocally to 
Phacelia and Hydro phyllum."^ 


Journey to Red river — Prairies and mountains of the 
Pottoe — Pass the dividing ridge — Kiamesha river — 
Arrival on the banks of Red river — The murder of a 
Cherokee ; attempts to obtain redress — Wild horses — 
Character, geological structure, and rare vegetable 
productions of the prairies — Return to the garrison 
at Belle Point. 

May 1 6th.] This morning I left Fort Smith with major 
Bradford and a company of soldiers, in order to proceed 
across the wilderness, to the confluence of the Kiamesha 

'" I have given it the trivial name of Nemophila, as, in this country, it now 
constituted the prevailing ornament of the shady woods. — Ntjttall. 

i8i8-i82o] Nuttair s 'Journal 207 

and Red river/" The object of the major was to execute 
the orders of government, by removing all the resident 
whites out of the territory of the Osages; theKiamesha 
river being now chosen as the line of demarkation/" 

On this route we again proceeded through Cedar 
prairie, and, after traversing two tiresome ridges of sand- 
stone hills, scattered with oaks and pines, we encamped 
in the evening near to the base of the Sugar-loaf mountain, 
having travelled about 25 miles in [147] a south-west 
direction. After passing the two ridges and crossing two 
brooks, one of them called James' Fork, we kept west- 
wardly towards the banks of the Pottoe, and found the 
whole country a prairie, full of luxuriant grass about knee 
high, in which we surprised herds of fleeting deer, feeding 
as by stealth. 

The Cavaniol, now clear of mist, appeared sufficiently 
near to afford some more adequate idea of its form and 
character. A prominent point which appears on its 
summit, is, I am told by the Cherokees who accompanied 
us, a mound of loose stones, thrown up either as a funeral 
pUe or a beacon by the aborigines. The natives and 
hunters assert that subterraneous rumblings have been 
heard in this mountain. The Sugar-loaf, covered to its 
summit with trees and shrubs, is composed of sandstone, 
and appears now accompanied by three other less elevated 
conic eminences, all mutually connected at the base by 

1^^ The orthography of this Indian name is still unsettled; after various per- 
mutations it seems to have assimied the form Kiamichi. The river joins Red 
near the southeast comer of Indian Territory. In 1824, Fort Towson was 
built ten miles from its mouth. — Ed. 

*'* The Osage had claimed the territory south of the Arkansas to its mouth, 
but had gradually been pushed back. In October, 1820, the land between 
the Canadian fork of the Arkansas and the Red was given to the Choctaw. — Ed. 

2o8 Early Western Travels [Vol. 13 

saliant ridges. From what I perceive, I am inclined to 
consider the Cavaniol as a continuation of the same chain, 
proceeding west by north. From the garrison to the en- 
campment of this evening, indications of coal are sufi&- 
ciently obvious in the bituminous shale and carbonaceous 

17th.] The day was delightfully clear and warm, and 
the whole aspect of nature appeared peculiarly charming. 
In the morning our party fell in with a favourite amuse- 
ment, in the pursuit of two bears, harmlessly feeding in 
the prairies, which, being very fat, were soon overtaken 
and killed. We proceeded about 20 miles; towards 
evening passing the Pottoe, which was quite fordable, 
notwithstanding the late fresh. Our course was prin- 
cipally south-south-west, and this evening, after crossing 
the Pottoe, more westwardly. We were again in full 
view of the two picturesque mountains, the Cavaniol and 
Point Sucre; the latter yet appeared somewhat conic, and 
scantily wooded, but covered with thickets like the Alle- 
ghany [148] mountains. Our route was continued through 
prairies, occasionally divided by sombre belts of timber, 
which serve to mark the course of the rivulets. These 
vast plains, beautiful almost as the fancied Elysium, were 
now enamelled with innumerable flowers, among the 
most splendid of which were the azure Larkspur, gilded 
Coreopsides, Rudbeckias, fragrant Phloxes, and the 
purple Psilotria. Serene and charming as the blissful 
regions of fancy, nothing here appeared to exist but what 
contributes to harmony. 

i8th.] To-day, in a journey of about 25 miles, we 
passed several very rocky pine ridges, but over which a 
loaded wagon had been dragged as far as the Kiamesha, 
accompanied by a family of emigrants, who had been 

i8i8-i82o] NuttalV s yournal 209 

obliged to remove from the settlement of Mulberry creek, 
on the arrival of the Cherokees. At breakfast time, we 
were regaled with the wild honey of the country, taken 
from a tree which the guide had discovered for us. Our 
course was still to the south of south-west, in which direc- 
tion we twice crossed the meanders of a branch of the 
Pottoe, called Fourche Malin.*" About 2 o'clock we 
passed the dividing ridge^*'^ of the Pottoe and Kiamesha, 
nearly the height of the Alleghany in Pennsylvania, very 
rocky, and thinly scattered with pines and oaks; the rock 
sandstone, and destitute of organic remains. This ridge 
forms part of the principal chain called Mazern moun- 
tains by Darby. ^" In the rivulets and ravines I was 
gratified by the discovery of a new shrubby plant allied 
to the genus Phyllanthus. After crossing the mountain, 
we proceeded, at first, a little east of south, to clear the 
subsidiary ridges, afterwards westwardly, the mountains 
passing north-west; we then came upon an extensive 
prairie cove considerably diversified with hills and groves 

*''The nomenclature of these regions is quite confusing; much of it, though 
in corrupted forms, bears marks of French origins now irrecoverable. Fourche 
Mahn on modern maps is Fourche Melane or Malane, and on some old charts is 
given as MeUne Creek, a branch of Cavaniol Creek, which, in its turn, is a trib- 
utary of the Poteau. — Ed. 

"" The ridge between the Kiamichi and the Poteau is now called Sans Bois 
Mountains. The name (meaning woodless) agrees well with Nuttall's de- 
scription. — Ed. 

'" William Darby, a Pennsylvania geographer (1775-185 4), was one of the 
surveyors who ran the boundary between the United States and Canada. He 
pubhshed an emigrant's guide and several gazetteers. 

' ' The Masseme chain . . . rises in detached masses, between Red and 
Arkansaw rivers. This range has not been carefully examined by men of science ; 
of course its component parts are not correctly known. It is supposed to 
be rich in minerals." — Darby, Emigrant's Guide (New York, 1818), p. 50. 

' ' Masseme, from Mt. Cerne, one of its peaks . . . The provincial vul- 
garism Ozark, the hunter's name for Arkansas, has been given to the Massernes, 
by some writers and map makers." — Darby and Dwight, New Gazetteer (Hart- 
ford, 1833), p. 293.— Ed. 

2 1 o Early Western Travels [Vol. 13 

of trees. To the west continued a proximate chain of 
piney hills, with remarkable serrated summits, known by 
the familiar name of the Potatoe hills, and to the north- 
west backed by a more [149] distant and more lofty chain 
equally piney. On the summit of the dividing ridge, we 
observed a pile of stones in the bison path that we travelled, 
which, I was informed, had been thrown up as a monu- 
ment by the O sages when they were going to war, each 
warrior casting a stone upon the pile. Discovering herds 
of Bison in the prairie, the soldiers immediately com- 
menced the chase, and the bulls, now lean and agile, gal- 
loped along the plain with prodigious swiftness, like so 
many huge lions. The pendant beard, large head hid 
in bushy locks, with the rest of the body nearly divested 
of hair, give a peculiar and characteristic grace to this 
animal when in motion. We discovered them in a state 
of repose, and could perceive the places where they had 
been gratifying themselves by wallowing or rolling in the 
dust. The bison, entirely distinct from the buffalo of 
Europe, notwithstanding the surmises of Doctor Robert- 
son, can scarcely be domesticated. The male, infuriate 
and jealous in his amours, gores every thing which falls 
in his way, and becomes totally unmanageable. 

Perhaps no animal employs a greater diversity of diet 
than the bear; the common American species feeds upon 
fruits, honey, wasps, and bees; they will turn over large 
logs in quest of other insects, and are also destructive to 
pigs and fawns, by which means the hunters, imitating the 
bleat of the latter, will sometimes decoy them within gun- 

Panthers are said to be abundant in the woods of Red 
river, nor are they uncommon on the banks of the Arkansa. 
A somewhat curious anecdote of one of these animals was 

i8i8-i82o] Nuttairs yournal 211 

related to me by our guide. A party of hunters in the 
morning missed one of their dogs from the encampment, 
and after a fruitless search were proceeding on their route, 
when one of the other dogs obtaining a scent, discovered 
to the hunters, dead beneath a tree, the dog which had 
strayed, together with a deer and a wolf in the same con- 
dition. [150] It appeared, that the panther, having killed 
a deer, and eat his fill, got into a tree to watch the re- 
mainder, and had, in his own defence, successively fallen 
upon the wolf and the dog as intruders on his provision. 

19th.] This morning we set out late in consequence of 
the rain, which had continued throughout the night. We 
proceeded a little west of south, along the hills and prairies 
which divide the three principal branches of the Kiamesha, 
skirting the south side of the bare serrated hills already 
noticed scattered with pine and post-oak, in order to 
shorten the distance which we should have been obliged 
to make by keeping more into the level prairies. In this 
course we passed a number of little rivulets or torrents 
with rocky beds. The hills abounded with a kind of 
slaty petrosilex, which, as well as the slate-clay with which 
it alternates, appears destitute of organic remains. Some 
of the fragments were greenish, and appeared to be of 
the same character with the hone-slate of the Washita. 
At the junction of its three branches, the Kiamesha is 
hemmed in by very lofty ridges, partly covered with pine 
and oak. On one of the most conspicuous summits we had 
observed, for many miles, a beacon of the Osages, being 
a solitary tree fantastically trimmed like a broom. Our 
path now became difficult and obstructed by fallen rocks ; 
that which we had pursued in the earlier part of the day 
was one of those, which, from time immemorial, had been 
trodden out by the bison. We still continued in a south- 

2 12 Early Western Travels [Vol. 13 

south-west direction, along the rocky valley of the Kia- 
mesha, which this evening we crossed. The wooded hills 
prevailed on either hand without any prospect of termi- 
nation, and strongly resemble the mountains of the Blue 
ridge, at Harper's Ferry, in Virginia. 

20th.] This morning we proceeded four or five miles 
before breakfast through a pathless thicket, equal in diffi- 
culty to any in the Alleghany mountains. The [151] hills 
now approached the river incliffs and inaccessible accliv- 
ities, and we concluded to leave the impassable windings 
of the river by the first gap of the mountain. Having now 
left the almost impenetrable barriers of the river, we pro- 
ceeded along a blind bison trace, but at length descended 
into a rocky ravine, scarcely passable for goats, but which 
at length we cleared, after being some hours dispersed from 
each other, and came again into hilly open woods, near the 
head of Field's cove and creek, deriving its name from an 
outlaw who here sought refuge from justice. This cove 
was a kind of hilly prairie land interspersed with small 
plains, presenting rocky terraces where most elevated, 
and covered with herbage. Lofty wooded hills, scarcely 
inferior to those of the river, hemmed in this cove on either 
hand. I am informed that the sources of all the rivers in 
this part of the Arkansa territory, however closely locked 
betwixt mountains, present extensive prairies or plains, 
where they divaricate to their sources. 

Our course was a little west of south, and the distance 
we travelled probably 20 miles. We calculated upon 
arriving at Red river on the succeeding evening, being 
somewhere about 30 miles distant. The woods were 
now disgustingly infested with ticks, though free from 

2ist.] We continued about five miles over dreary and 

1818-1820] Nuttair s 'Journal 2 1 3 

rocky pine hills, without the good fortune of a bison trace, 
when, after taking a frugal breakfast, our hunters again 
surprised a herd of Bison lying down, but which were 
quickly roused into an active gallop. Deer were uncom- 
monly abundant, and scarcely timid, or conscious of the 
aim of their destroyers. At length getting rid of the pine 
hills, we proceeded through a shrubby prairie, but, by 
continuing too much to the westward, again came inad- 
vertently to the Kiamesha, and were obliged to leave it 
some miles directly behind us, in order to keep clear of 
the swampy alluvions [152] and ponds by which it was 
bordered. We now continued south-east, about 20 miles, 
over hilly woods covered with dwarfish post and black 
oaks, which having been burnt were extremely difficult 
to penetrate, lashing and tearing every thing with which 
they came in contact; we had also to encounter the addi- 
tional embarrassment of ponds and wet prairies. 

The rock was still sandstone, containing appearances 
indicative of coal. For the last two days I was busily 
employed in collecting new and curious plants, which 
continually presented themselves. 

22d.] This morning we kept two or three miles to the 
south-east, and on turning to the south, had the good for- 
tune to enter upon a beaten path, recognised by our guide, 
which, in the distance of about three miles, brought us to 
Mr. Styles' s,^*^ where we had the gratification of obtaining 
milk and butter for breakfast. This was the emigrant 
whose traces we had discovered, and who had encountered 
the Mazem mountains with a loaded wagon, women, and 

"^ It is practically impossible to trace the history of the squatters mentioned 
by Nuttall. This region was never legally open to white occupation, and the 
transient white settlers left few traces of their presence. At this time there were 
said to be twenty famiUes at the mouth of the Kiamichi and twelve at Pecan 
Point, a few miles farther down Red River. — Ed. 

214 Rarly Western Travels [Vol. 13 

children, among whom was the mother of his wife, blind, 
and 90 years of age! Mr. Styles had chosen the margin 
of the prairie for his residence, at a short distance from 
whence commences the usual bushy hills. After break- 
fast we continued our route, parallel with Red river, over 
an extensive prairie to the confluence of the Kiamesha. 
The people appeared but ill prepared for the unpleasant 
official intelligence of their ejectment. Some who had 
cleared considerable farms were thus unexpectedly thrust 
out into the inhospitable wilderness. I could not but 
sympathise with their complaints, notwithstanding the 
justice and propriety of the requisition. Would it had 
always been the liberal policy of the Europeans to act 
with becoming justice, and to reciprocate the law of 
nations with the unfortunate natives ! 

A flagrant act of injustice to the Indians now, however, 
came to our knowledge. It was, no doubt, the hopes of 
employing the present opportunity of gaining [153] redress, 
which had instigated the journey of the two civilized 
Cherokees (Messrs. Rodgers), who had accompanied us; 
one of whom acted as the state interpreter. The infor- 
mation which we obtained concerning this affair gives it 
almost an incredible air of atrocity. It appears, that 
about three months ago, one of the Cherokees, returning 
from hunting in this quarter, saw some horses in the pos- 
session of two brothers named Gibbs, which he recognised 
to have belonged to Monsieur Vaugin, of the Arkansa, 
and which had been stolen by these renegadoes. For 
fear he should convict them of the theft, they treacher- 
ously took an opportunity of way-laying the Indian, and 
shot him dead with a rifle. The same two brothers, this 
very evening, inadvertently passed by our camp, but in 
the absence of the major and the Cherokees, and though 

i8i8-i82o] Nuttair s journal 2 1 5 

our circumstantial knowledge of this horrid fact was 
purely accidental, yet such is the self-condemning nature 
of guilt, that no sooner had they learnt who we were, 
than they rushed into the adjoining cane-brake, and 
effected their escape into the neighbouring province of 
Texas. A party, indeed, went out instantly in pursuit of 
them, but were obliged to return in consequence of the 
darkness of the night, and the extreme difficulty of the 
way. Orders for their apprehension were left with the 
magistrate of the district, accompanied by a reward from 
the Cherokees. They returned after an absence of three 
weeks, when an attempt was made to bring them to justice 
by two hunters armed with rifles; and one of the brothers, 
who had not actually committed the murder, in the act of 
warning the other, was shot dead by one of the hunters, 
whom he had formerly injured in the most indelicate 
manner. With this revenge, though not sufficiently dis- 
criminate, I afterwards learnt, that the Cherokees had 
expressed themselves satisfied, as it accorded probably 
with their own ideas of diverging retaliation. 

[154] The change of soil in the great Prairie of Red river 
now appeared obvious. It was here that I saw the first 
calcareous rock charged with shells, &c. since my depar- 
ture from the banks of the Ohio. Nothing could at this 
season exceed the beauty of these plains, enamelled 
with such an uncommon variety of flowers of 
vivid tints, possessing all the brilliancy of tropical pro- 

After passing through a swamp, we crossed the Kja- 
mesha in boats, and swam our horses. Five or six miles 
from Styles' s we, at length, obtained sight of Red river, 
appearing here scarcely more than 100 yards wide, pass- 
ing to the south-east, with the water very red and turbid. 

2 1 6 Rarly Western Travels [Vol. 13 

I was told that the river was here iioo miles from its con- 
fluence by the meanders, or 900 above Natchitoches. 

Here, for the first time, I saw the Madura (or Bow wood) 
in abundance, but almost a month past flowering, at least 
with the staminiferous plant. 

We found in this country two poisonous species of 
Coluber, or common snake, one of them very small, and 
finely marbled with vivid colours. The other frequents 
waters, and is called the water- mockasin, and poisonous 
black-snake; it is nearly black, two or three feet long, 
and thick in proportion, the head triangular and com- 
pressed at the sides. Both of them were furnished with 
the mortal fangs. 

24th.] To-day we continued to the Horse-prairie, 15 
miles above the mouth of the Kiamesha. In our way we 
proceeded for about three miles through the fertile allu- 
vion of Red^^river to Mr. Varner's, where we breakfasted, 
and at length arriving at our destination on the banks of 
Red river, we remained there the whole of the following 
day. This prairie derives its name from the herds of wild 
horses, which till lately frequented it, and of which we 
saw a small gang on our return. It is very extensive, but 
flat, and in some [155] places swampy. In these depres- 
sions we saw whole acres of the Crinum americanum of 
the West Indies, besides extensive glaucous fields of a large 
leaved and new species of Rudbeckia, The Sus tajassu 
or Mexican hog, is not uncommon some distance higher 
up Red river. A great part of the skin of one of these 
animals was shown me by Mr. Vamer; so that we need 
not go to Mexico, in order to account for the head of this 
animal which was found in one of the saltpetre caves of 
Kentucky. That a continual intercourse was also kept up 
by the natives of the east and west sides of the Mississippi, 

1818-1820] Nuttair s 'Journal 217 

is evident from the authority of Du Pratz, who tells us 
that the Mobilian or Chicasaw language was even spoken 
by the natives of Red river. 

On the banks of Red river, nearly on a level with the 
water, as it appeared at the present depression, I noticed 
a dark greenish-grey sandstone, resembling trap, and 
occasionally interspersed with pebbles of agate, jasper, 
and chalcedony; the cement of this curious conglomerate 
proved to be calcareous spar. 

26th.] To-day we prepared to return by the route 
which we had come. Knowing that we should arrive 
early at Mr. Styles's, and spend the remainder of the day 
there, I delayed about two hours behind the party, for 
the purpose of collecting some of the new and curious 
plants interspersed over these enchanting prairies. It 
was not, however, my fortune ever again to overtake the 
party. Deceived by the continued traces of two strangers 
who had accompanied us, I passed the place of rendez- 
vous, and was, in fact, so much engaged as to travel along 
no less than seven miles below Mr. Styles's, which I ascer- 
tained by enquiring at another house, to which accident 
had directed me. Night began to approach, and I had 
proceeded but about three miles on my return when the 
sun set. By pursuing a new path which now opened, I 
had the good fortune to arrive at the [156] house of Mr. 
Davis, contiguous to Gates's creek,^^^ which I had crossed. 
Here I was kindly requested to remain for the night, as 
the path from hence was even difficult to trace by day- 
light. Four guns were fired at major Bradford's camp 
as signals to me, which were answered by Mr. Davis, but 
unfortunately they were never heard. 

'^ Gates' Creek is a tributary of the Kiamichi, although not so given on 
Nuttall's map. — Ed. 

21 8 Early Western Travels [Vol.13 

27th.] It was scarcely day-break when I arose, impa- 
tient to join my companions; but now my horse was not to 
be found, and it was not until we had made two or three 
unsuccessful searches, that he was at length discovered 
two miles on the path I had yesterday travelled. By this 
time it was near eight o'clock, and nine when I arrived at 
the major's camp, where I found they had departed about 
half an hour. It is unnecessary to pourtray my apprehen- 
sions on this occasion; not a moment was to be lost, and 
I offered one of Mr. Styles's sons two dollars to accompany 
me for a few hours to find their trace, and, if possible, to 
overtake them. We travelled as fast as possible for about 
10 miles through a horrid brake of scrubby oaks, but all 
to no purpose, and, after firing a gun, which was neither 
heard nor answered, we returned again, as I dared not to 
venture alone and unprepared through such a difficult 
and mountainous wilderness. My botanical acquisitions 
in the prairies, proved, however, so interesting as almost 
to make me forget my situation, cast away as I was amidst 
the refuse of society, without money and without acquaint- 
ance; for calculating upon nothing more certain than an 
immediate return, I was consequently unprovided with 
every means of subsistence. 

I was informed by the hunters, that these prairies, par- 
tially divided by groves and strips of timber, bordering 
the water courses, continued with little interruption to 
the hot springs of the Washita, to which, from hence, there 
is a plain and direct road.^" The surface of these wood- 
less expanses was gently undulated, [157] and thickly cov- 
ered with grass knee high, even to the summits of the hills, 

*" The road to Hot Springs ran almost directly east to Washington, in Hemp- 
stead County, Arkansas, thence northeast, crossing the northwest comers of 
the present counties of Clark and Hot Springs. — Ed. 

i8i8-i82o] Nuttair s 'Journal i\c) 

offering an almost inexhaustible range to cattle. The 
flowers^ which beautify them at this season of nature's 
vigour, communicated all the appearance of a magnificent 
garden, fantastically decked with innumerable flowers of 
the most splendid hues. The soil appears to be univer- 
sally calcareous, with the limestone nearly white and full 
of shells, among which there was abundance of a small 
species of gryphite, and in the more compact beds some 
species of terebratulites. This calcareous rock, different 
from the mountain limestone, often contains uncemented 
or loose shells immersed in beds of friable clay, and is 
more analogous to that of South Carolina and Georgia, 
than that of St. Louis and the Ohio. 

Along the further edge of the prairie, relative to Red 
river, there were, in the distance of lo miles, five or six 
families settled, or rather encamped, upon the lands of the 
United States, which have not yet been surveyed or offered 
for sale. 

June ist.-5th.] I still remained at the house of Mr. 
Styles, without any very obvious prospect of regaining fort 
Smith. On the 4th I walked over the adjoining prairie 
to a more considerable hill than any which I had yet vis- 
ited, near Red river. Its north-western declivity was 
thinly wooded; here I found the limestone more compact 
than usual, containing also smaller shells, but still pre- 
senting scarcely any perceptible dip. The summit was 
scattered with coarse quartzy and petrosiliceous pebbles, 
originating from the disintegration of a ferruginous con- 
glomerate, of which large masses still lay on the surface 
compact. A similar overlay, though much more abun- 
dant, and continuous, occurs over the calcareous rock of 
South Carolina and Georgia. 

The singular appearance of these vast meadows, now 

220 Early Western Travels [Vol. 13 

so profusely decorated with flowers, as seen from [158] a 
distance, can scarcely be described. Several large circum- 
scribed tracts were perfectly gilded with millions of the 
flowers of Rudheckia amplexicaulis, bordered by other 
irregular snow-white fields of a new species of Corian- 
drum. The principal grasses which prevail are Kceleria 
cristata of Europe, Phalaris canariensis (Canary bird- 
seed), Tripsacum dactyloides, which is most greedily 
sought after by the horses, Elymus virginicus (sometimes 
called wild rye), a new Rotbolia, one or two species of 
Stipa and Aristida, with the Agrostis arachnoides of Mr. 
Elliott, and two species of Atheropogon. The common 
Milfoil, and sorrel (Rumex acetocella), are as prevalent, at 
least the former, as in Europe. In these plains there also 
grew a large species of Centaurea, scarcely distinct from 
C. austriaca; and along the margin of all the rivulets we 
met with abundance of the Bow-wood {Madura auran- 
tiaca), here familiarly employed as a yellow dye, very 
similar to fustic. 

6th.] To-day I went five or six miles to collect specimens 
of the Centaurea, which, as being the only species of this 
numerous genus indigenous to America, had excited my 
curiosity. All the lesser brooks and neighbouring springs 
were now already dried up, and the arid places appeared 
quite scorched with the heat. Still there prevailed through- 
out these prairies, as over the sea, a refreshing breeze, 
which continued for the greatest part of the day. The 
swarms of musquitoes, which prove so troublesome along 
the banks of the Mississippi and the Missouri are here 
almost unknown, and never met with except on the im- 
mediate alluvial borders of the rivulets. 

In my solitary, but amusing rambles over these delight- 
ful prairies, I now, for the first time in my life, notwith- 

i8i8-i82o] Nuttair s "Journal 221 

standing my long residence and peregrinations in North 
America, hearkened to the inimitable notes of the mock- 
ing-bird (Turdus polygloUus). After amusing itself in 
ludicrous imitations of other birds, [159] perched on the 
topmost bough of a spreading elm, it at length broke forth 
into a strain of melody the most wild, varied, and pathetic, 
that ever I had heard from any thing less than human. 
In the midst of these enchanting strains, which gradually 
increased to loudness, it oftentimes flew upwards from the 
topmost twig, continuing its note as if overpowered by 
the sublimest ecstasy. 

On the 8th I went down to the Red river settlement, to 
inquire concerning some company, which I had heard of, 
on my returning route to the Arkansa; and, on conferring 
together, we concluded to take our departure on Sunday 
next, a day generally chosen by these hunters and voyagers 
on which to commence their journeys. In our way to 
this settlement we crossed Gates's and Lemon's creek 
and another smaller brook. The width of the prairie to 
the banks of Red river might be about five miles, and the 
contracted alluvial lands, which by the crops of corn and 
cotton appeared to be exceedingly fertile, were nearly in- 
habited to their full extent. The wheat planted here pro- 
duced about 80 bushels to the acre, for which some of the 
inhabitants had now the conscience to demand three dol- 
lars and a half per bushel, in consequence of the scarcity 
of last season. Along the borders of this part of Red river 
a chain of low hills appears, on which I observed large 
dislocated masses of a ferruginous conglomerate, inclined 
towards the river, and incumbent on the usual calcareous 

These people, as well as the generality of those who, till 
lately, inhabited the banks of the Arkansa, bear the worst 

222 Early Western Travels [Vol. 13 

moral character imaginable, being many of them rene- 
gadoes from justice, and such as have forfeited the esteem 
of civilized society. When a further flight from justice 
became necessary, they passed over into the Spanish ter- 
ritory, towards St. Antonio, where it appears encourage- 
ment was given to all sorts of refugees. From these people 
we frequently heard [160] disrespectful murmurs against 
the government of the United States. There is, indeed, 
an universal complaint of showing unnecessary and ill- 
timed favours to the Indians. It is true that the Osages 
and Cherokees have been permitted, almost without moles- 
tation, to rob the people on this river, not only of their 
horses and cattle, but even occasionally of their household 
furniture. It does not appear from experiment, that the 
expensive forts, now established and still extending, pos- 
sess any beneficial influence over the savages which could 
not be answered by the interference of the territorial gov- 

It is now also the intention of the United States govern- 
ment, to bring together, as much as possible, the savages 
beyond the frontier, and thus to render them, in aU proba- 
bility, belligerent to each other, and to the civilized settle- 
ments which they border. To strengthen the hands of 
an enemy by conceding to them positions favourable to 
their designs, must certainly be far removed from prudence 
and good policy. To have left the aborigines on their 
ancient sites, rendered venerable by the endearments and 
attachments of patriotism, and surrounded by a condensed 
population of the whites, must either have held out to them 
the necessity of adopting civilization, or at all events have 
most effectually checked them from committing depreda- 
tions. Bridled by this restraint, there would have been 
no necessity for establishing among them an expensive 
military agency, and coercing them by terror. 

i8i8-i82o] Nuttair s 'Journal 223 

14th.] According to our appointment, my traveling 
companions called upon me, and, although about the 
middle of a Sunday afternoon, it was not possible to per- 
suade them to wait for Monday morning. So, without 
almost any supply of provision, I was obliged to take a 
hasty departure from my kind host and family, who, 
knowing from the first my destitute situation, separated 
from pecuniary resources, could [161] scarcely be pre- 
vailed upon to accept the trifling pittance which I acci- 
dentally possessed. I shall always remember, with feel- 
ings of gratitude, the sincere kindness and unfeigned hos- 
pitality, which I so seasonably experienced from these 
poor and honest people, when left in the midst of the wil- 

The evening was pleasant, and, after proceeding about 
eight miles through oak thickets in a path of the hunters, 
we reposed without further trouble by a brook, beneath 
the shade of the forest, and under the serene canopy of a 
cloudless sky. 

15th.] My companions, three in number, appeared to 
be men of diligence and industry, and were up by break 
of day. The object of their journey was the recovery of 
horses stolen from them by the Cherokees. After pro- 
ceeding about six miles from the place of departure, the 
trace or path could no longer easily be followed, as we 
now began to enter upon the pine hills scattered with loose 
rocks. Our first object was to have entered Field's cove; 
we got, however, too far to the east, and crossed a consid- 
erable brook of the Kiamesha. All ignorant of the coun- 
try, except myself, we had taken the precaution to mark 
down the reported bearings and distances, from the infor- 
mation of Mr. Styles. Our proper course was now north- 
north-east, but the man who took the lead, embarrassed 
by the accumulation of the mountains, which appeared 

2 24 Early Western Travels [Vol. 13 

in succeeding ridges for 40 miles before us, and too conj5- 
dently considering the proposed route impracticable, kept 
towards the west in direct opposition to our proper course, 
so that on the i6th, about noon, we obtained sight of 
Field's cove, which we ought now to have left, and cross- 
ing the Kiamesha, much too low down, found it running 
nearly due west, and very low. Our labour and distance 
was thus doubled, and we passed and repassed several 
terrific ridges, over which our horses could scarcely keep 
their feet, and which were, [162] besides, so overgrown 
with bushes and trees half-burnt, with ragged limbs, that 
every thing about us, not of leather, was lashed and torn 
to pieces. We now relinquished the mountains, and kept 
up along the banks of the Kiamesha, by a bison path, 
frequently crossing the river, which was almost uniformly 
bordered by mountains or inaccessible cliffs. Having 
killed a fat bison bull, we encamped at an early hour in 
a small prairie, in order to jerk or dry some of the beef 
for our future subsistence, it being now all the provision on 
which we had to depend. 

All the rock we saw since our departure from Mr. 
Styles,' consisted of a fine-grained sandstone, with no 
inconsiderable dip, and, as far as visible, destitute of 
organic remains. 

In a lake, about a mile from the Kiamesha, where we 
crossed it at noon, grew the Pontederia cordata, Nymphcea 
advena, Brassenia peltata, and Myriophyllum verticil- 
latum, all of them plants which I had not before seen in 
the territory, and which I have found chiefly confined to 
the limits of tide water. In a northern bend of the Kia- 
mesha, about 30 miles from its mouth, I am informed, 
there exists a very copious salt spring. 

17th.] We still continued up the Kiamesha, over pine 

i8i8-i82o] Nuttair s journal 225 

hills, and through a succession of horrid, labyrinthine 
thickets and cane-brakes, meeting, to our disappoint- 
ment, very little prairie. At length, we arrived at the 
three main branches of the river: Jack's creek to the south, 
Kiamesha to the east, and a third rivulet to the north. To 
the entrance of Jack's fork, as it is called, the Kiamesha 
continues hemmed in with lofty pine hills. From hence 
the mountains diverge; the highest chain still continuing 
on one side to border the main stream, while, to the north, 
we came in sight of the "Potatoe hills." In this exten- 
sive cove, covered with grass, and mostly a prairie of 
undulated surface, I had the satisfaction to find, as I [163] 
had also done at noon, the Ixia coelestina of my venerable 
friend, Wm. Bartram. Instead of sandstone, we now 
found a predominance of slaty petrosiliceous rock break- 
ing in rhombic fragments, nearly of the same nature as 
the hone-slate of the Washita, and alike destitute of organic 

1 8th.] We continued across the great cove of the Kia- 
mesha, towards the dividing ridge of mountains which 
separates the waters of the Arkansa and Red river, and 
which had been visible to us on the very day after our de- 
parture. We now kept a course rather too much south 
of east, and encamped on the banks of a creek that ap- 
peared to issue from a conspicuous gap in the mountains. 
The prairie, though in many places open and hilly, 
was still divided by small torrents, now generally dry, and 
lined with thickets, laced with thorns and green briers. 
Towards the middle of this fertile cove, we passed over a 
large tract formed like a lake, and, except a southern out- 
let towards the Kiamesha, surrounded with low hills. 
In one of these rich alluvial bottoms, we saw abundance 
of tumuli. On the hills of the prairies of Red river, I 

226 Early Western Travels [Vol. 13 

also saw them of stone, and containing, according to 
custom, fragments of earthen pots. All the hills in this 
cove, which abound with pine, present slaty rocks of the 
petrosilex already mentioned, apparently forming partial 
beds, alternating with a soft slaty or shale rock, which 
occasionally exhibits balls of argillaceous iron ore, and the 
fibrous mineral production which has been called cone 

To-day we came very near losing our horses, for, while 
reposing at noon, though as usual hobbled, the torments 
of the large flies which appear at this time of the day and 
in the evening, became so extreme, as to excite them to 
run away, and with some difficulty we traced them for 
five or six miles, through woods and prairies, to the banks 
of the Kiamesha, into which [164] they had rushed for 
alleviation. We here also found, by the bell, a horse 
which had been lost by some hunters. In consequence 
of this unexpected delay, we did not proceed more than 
about 20 miles. 

19th.] We continued across the cove towards the moun- 
tains, and began the ascent, but totally missing the gap, 
arrived at length, with much difficulty, upon one of the 
highest summits of the dividing ridge. Towards the 
Pottoe, the descent was altogether impracticable : for miles 
we could perceive nothing but one continued precipice of 
the most frightful elevation. After proceeding, however, 
with difficulty for about three miles along the summit of 
the mountain, high as any part of the Blue ridge, through 
thickets of dwarf oaks (Quercus chinquapin, Q. montana, 
and Q. alba), none of them scarcely exceeding the height 
of a man; we began the descent, which we still found ex- 
tremely steep and broken, and, after toiling four or five 

*^ See Martyn's Petrificata Derbyensia, Tab. 27. fig. 4. — Nuttall. 

1818-1820] Nuttair s 'Journal 227 

hours in the mountains, had, at last, the unexpected satis- 
faction of entering upon, and pursuing the wagon trace, 
so recently trod by the major's party. We now clearly 
saw, a little to the north-west, the right gap of the moun- 
tain which we ought to have sought. 

In the course of the afternoon, we passed over three pine 
ridges, and two creeks, and then re-entering the prairie, 
proceeded before night about ten miles from the moun- 
tain, which, as well as the lesser ridges, consisted of sand- 

20th.] This morning we passed the Pottoe, and pro- 
ceeded along the trace, some distance beyond the Sugar- 
loaf mountain. The prairies were now horribly infested 
with cleg flies, which tormented and stimulated our 
horses into a perpetual gallop. In the evening, we en- 
camped in the valley of the third oak ridge that separated 
us from Cedar prairie. 

2 1 St.] Passing the fourth ridge, I again entered Cedar 
prairie, and before noon arrived at the garrison, [165] 
where I had been long expected, and was very cordially 
welcomed by the Doctor and the Major. 

To the end of the month, I now remained at the gar- 


Continue my voyage up the Arkansa — Geological re- 
marks — Pass several lesser rivulets, and the outlet of 
the Canadian and the Illinois — Salt springs — Ob- 
structions in the navigation — Indications of coal — 
Pass Grand river, and enter the Verdigris. 

July 6th.] Having obtained accommodation in the boat 
of Mr. Bougie, agent for Mr. Drope, I left the garrison in 
order to proceed to the trading establishment, at the con- 

2 28 Early Western Travels [Vol. 13 

fluence of the Verdigris, by the course of the river about 
130 miles distant."^ The day being very warm we did 
not proceed more than 10 miles, having delayed our de- 
parture until near noon. Eight miles from the garrison 
we had another conspicuous view of the Cavaniol. 

Among three or four other new plants afforded me by 
examining the sand-beaches, was a Portulaca, apparently 
the same with P. pilosaoi the West Indies; its taste was 
almost as disagreeably bitter as the succulent Stapelias of 
Africa. On these sand-flats we also saw abundance of deer, 
brought to the river in search of water, as well as to escape 
the goading of insects; and it is customary for them to 
remain for hours licking the saline efflorescences which 
are deposited upon the alluvial clay. We encamped four 
miles below Skin bayou, and our party amused themselves 
by searching for turtle's eggs, which the females deposit 
in the sand at the depth of about eight or ten inches, and 
then abandon their hatching to the genial [166] heat of 
the sun. They are spherical, covered with a flexible skin, 
and considered wholesome food. 

7th.] The river land on both sides appears to be of a 
good quality, and generally elevated above inundation. 
The depression of the forest also begins to be obvious. 
About half a league below Skin bayou occur low cliffs of 
dark-coloured grauwacke slate, resembling sand-stone, 
which continue for about a mile along the right hand bank. 
The rock is entirely similar to that of the garrison (or 
Belle Point, as the situation is called), equaUy horizontal, 
and probably underlaid by coal. The under stratum was 
singularly undulated in short and broken waves, while the 
upper was almost perfectly horizontal. Not far from the 

**• Disregarding the river's windings, the Verdigris is only sixty miles above 
Fort Smith. — Ed. 

i8i8-i82o] Nuttair s 'Journal 229 

place of our encampment, on the left, we passed the Swal- 
low (or Hirundel), rocks, a projecting cliff, about 150 feet 
high, adorned with bushes of cedar, in the centre of which 
there appears to be an entrance into a cavern, and several 
other fretted excavations scattered over with clusters of 
martin nests. The rock consists of two beds; the upper a 
lighter coloured ferruginous and laminated sand-stone, ex- 
cavated with appearances similar to nitre caves; the lowest 
bed, with a more considerable dip (about 10° to the south- 
east), consists of thinner greenish grey lamina, containing 
a little mica, and exhibiting the usual zoophytic carbon- 
aceous impressions, indicative of coal. The river bars 
now abound in gravel, which is principally petrosiliceous. 
After passing Cajou creek, on the left, about two miles, 
we encamped near a bar, to avoid the visits of the mus- 
quetoes, our progress to-day being about 24 miles. 

8th.] Four miles further we again obtained a view of 
Point de Sucre and the Cavaniol. On Sambo island, 
about 12 miles from our departure this morning, we 
stopped to dine; and here on a bar of gravel I found a new 
species of the Mexican genus Stevia, and never saw it 
afterwards in any other locality. To [167] the taste it was 
quite as bitter as many of the Eupatoria. This plant, and 
the Portulaca already mentioned, appear to have been 
recently, and almost accidentally, disseminated from the 
interior. The cane still continues abundant, and the 
alluvial lands are extensive and fertile, with a basis of 
sand-stone, which two miles below appears in the same 
dark and ferruginous rocky mass as near Skin bayou. 
On some of our party going out a hunting, we concluded 
to spend the remainder of the day on the island. 

9th.] This morning we crossed the river to the mouth of 
Sambo creek, and went out into the neighbouring prairie 

230 Early Western Travels [Vol. 13 

to hunt for bison; but after walking about nine miles, 
going and returning, were not fortunate enough to find 
any game. The grass was now so loaded with honey dew 
as to give our mocasins and pantaloons the appearance 
of being soaked in oil, seeming totally inexplicable as the 
produce of aphides, and rather attributable to some vitia- 
tion in the proper juices of the plant, taking place appar- 
ently at the ultimate period of vegetative vigour, and being 
more or less copious in proportion to the prevailing degree 
of heat. The cane brake which we here crossed by a 
hunting path, was about half a league wide, and flanked 
by low hills, whose declivities gently subside into the ad- 
joining prairie, of about 20 miles in circuit, and five in 
width. Here the Cavaniol and Sugar-loaf mountains 
appeared, at least the latter, not more than 15 or 18 miles 
distant, towards the south-east. We proceeded about 
five miles above^the creek, and spent the night on the 
margin of a sand bar, according to our usual custom, to 
avoid the musquetoes. 

loth.] I went out this morning on the second bar we 
arrived at, which continued uninterruptedly for about five 
miles; we found a few Chicasaw plumbs, with natural 
orchards of which every beach abounds, but this year, in 
consequence of the late frosts, they were generally desti- 
tute of fruit. The current of the [168] Arkansa was here 
unusually rapid; on the right hand side the water was 
clear, but on the left, red and muddy. The clear water 
issued from the Illinois river, to which we were now con- 
tiguous. Among the scattered boulders and gravel of the 
bar, there were fragments of limestone and petrosilex, 
containing organic remains, also pebbles of chalcedony; 
we likewise saw specimens of coal, accompanied by the 
usual carbonaceous, tessellated vegetable, or zoophitic 

i8i8-i82o] Nuttair s 'Journal 231 

remains. One of the masses of chalcedony contained 
chrystalline ilKnitions of coal. — About breakfast time, we 
passed the mouth of the rivulet or brook, called by the 
French Salaiseau,*" from some hunters havmg here killed 
a quantity of bison, and salted the beef for traffic. Major 
Bradford, who explored this stream, informed me, that 
the uplands as well as the prairies along this creek, were 
uncommonly fertile, and well watered by springs, and that 
the upper side of the creek presents a calcareous soil. 
Here, for the first time, near the Arkansa, we meet with 
the hazel {Corylus americana), and the American rasp- 
berry (Rubus occidentalis). In consequence of the rapidity 
of the current, we only proceeded about 12 miles. 

nth.] After ascending about six miles, we passed the 
outlet of the Canadian,^®* 60 miles below the confluence 
of Grand river, or the Six Bull, a navigable river of consid- 
erable magnitude. Its main south branch sources with 
Red river, while another considerable body keeps a western 
course through the saline plains, where it becomes par- 
tially absorbed in the sands of the desert, but afterwards 
continues towards Santa Fe or the Del Norte. The Cana- 
dian, like Red river, always continues red and muddy, and 
is often impotably saline; 100 miles from its mouth, its 
banks are said to abound with selenite, disseminated 
through beds of red clay. Above the confluence of this 
stream, the Arkansa, where deep, appears clear, green, 
[169] and limpid. The alluvial lands now begin to be 

'*' Salaison (meaning "salt meat"), is the correct French orthography. On 
modem maps the name is spelled Sallison, and SalUsaw. — Ed. 

'*' The Canadian is the chief tributary of the Arkansas, and was long con- 
fused with the Red. In 1820 Major S. H. Long (see our volumes xiv-xvii), 
mistaking it for the Red, followed the Canadian from its source until near its 
confluence with the Arkansas. The name is a corruption of Rio Canada, 
given to the stream because its upper waters flow through canons. — Ed. 

232 Early Western Travels [Vol. 13 

somewhat narrower, though neither hills nor cliffs ap- 
proach the bank. This morning, however, we again 
observed a horizontal ledge of the grauwacke slate. 
About four miles above the Canadian, we passed the river 
Illinois, ^^* on the right, a considerable stream of clear 
water, as are all the other rivers flowing into the Arkansa 
from the north. A few mUes from its mouth, its banks 
present salt springs similar to those of Grand river, and 
scarcely less productive; indeed, most of the streams on 
this side the Arkansa are said to afford springs of salt 
water which might be wrought with profit. On the south 
side, the salines commencing about the Canadian, occur 
in the red clay formation, forming as it were a belt which 
extends to the third Red fork, or saline rivulet of the Ar- 
kansa. The salines on the north, appear rather in con- 
nection with the coal formation, at least, they do not be- 
long to the same series as those on the south side of the 

This afternoon, two of the hunters went out and brought 
in the most part of the meat of a fat bison, whose track 
they had followed from the bar. 

About four miles above the Illinois, we came to a 
cascade of two or three feet perpendicular fall. In en- 
deavouring to pass it, our boat grounded upon the rocks, 
and we spent several hours in the fruitless attempt to 
pass them, but had at last to fall back, and attempt it 
again in the morning, which we then (on the 13th) effected 
by the assistance of the wind without much difficulty, by 
passing further into the shute. At this season, in which 
the water is far from being at its lowest ebb, no boats 

"• This is the second tributary of the Arkansas bearing the name IlHnois. 
The first debouches opposite Dardanelle (see ante, p. 177). The second rises in 
northwestern Arkansas, but most of its course is in Indian Territory. — Ed. 

1818-1820] Nuttair s 'Journal 233 

drawing more than from 12 to 18 inches water, could pass 
this rapid without lightening, and it appears to form one 
of the first obstacles of consequence in the navigation of 
the Arkansa.^*" 

The variety of trees which commonly form the North 
American forest, here begin very sensibly to [170] diminish. 
We now scarcely see any other than the smooth-barked 
Cottonwood, the elm, box-elder {Acer Negundo), curled 
maple {Acer dasycarpon), and ash, all of them reduced in 
stature. From hence the forest begins to disappear be- 
fore the pervading plain. To-day we were favoured with 
a fine south-east breeze, and sailed along with rapidity. 
Early in the afternoon we passed Bougie's island, near to 
which, and in two other places, the hills, of about 300 feet 
elevation, approach the river; the rocks being still a slaty 
sandstone. Elk and deer now appeared common on the 
sand beaches, being obliged to come to the river for water, 
as the springs in the prairies are at this season nearly all 
dried up. We continued to pass several rapids, with the 
water curling over beds of gravel. According to the com- 
mon estimate, we proceeded to-day 45 miles, and in the 
evening were only two leagues from our destination. 

14th.] This morning we passed a low ledge of rocks on 
our left, apparently the usual dark-coloured slaty sand- 
stone, and which has received the name of the Charbon- 
niere,"^ from the appearances of coal which it exhibits. 
On this side, the prairie approaches the immediate bank 
of the river, and presents a very unusual open prospect. 
We again passed three or four difiicult rapids, within the 

180 This cascade is known as Webber's Falls. Near this spot Samuel Hous- 
ton kept a store ten years later than the date of our narrative. — Ed. 

"* Charbonniere means coal-bearing, and was frequently applied by the 
French to natvu-al objects in carboniferous regions. See ante, note 156. — Ed. 

2 34 Early Western Travels [Vol. 13 

short distance which remained to complete our present 
voyage, but presently after saw the outlet of Grand river/ ''^ 
(or the Six Bulls as it is called by the French hunters), and 
now entered the Verdigris,^^^ where M. Bougie and Mr. 
Prior had their trading houses. The water of both these 
rivers was quite pellucid; while that of the Arkansa was 
now whitish and muddy, from the partial influx and aug- 
mentation of some neighbouring streams. 


Character of the surrounding country of the Verdigris 
river — Remarks on the Osage Indians 

14TH.] This morning, accompanied by Mr. Prior, I 
walked over a portion of the alluvial land of the Verdigris, 
the fertility of which was sufficiently obvious in the disa- 
greeable and smothering luxuriance of the tall weeds, with 
which it was overrun. This neck of land, situated betwixt 
Grand river and the Verdigris, is about two miles wide, 
free from inundation, and covered with larger trees than 
any other I had seen since leaving Port Smith. Among 
them were lofty scarlet oaks, ash, and hackberry, and 
whole acres of nettles {Urtica divaricata), with whose 
property of affording hemp, the French hunters and set- 
tlers have been long acquainted. Contiguous to the 
lower side of Grand river, there was a thick cane-brake, 
more than two miles in width, backed by the prairie, with- 
out the intervention of hills. As is common in large allu- 
vions, so in this of the Verdigris, a second terrace or more 

^*^ The Grand, or Neosho, River, enters the Arkansas from the north at 
the point where the Cherokee-Creek boundary crosses the Arkansas. Near its 
mouth Fort Gibson was later built. — Ed. 

"^ The Verdigris River debouches about a quarter of a mile above the mouth 
of the Neosho. — Ed. 

1818-1820] Nut tail's 'Journal 235 

elevated bottom succeeds the first, beyond which, occur 
thinly timbered hills. We then enter upon the great west- 
em prairies, or grassy plains, separated from each other 
by small rivulets, exhibiting belts of trees along their mar- 
gin. About eight miles from the Arkansa, commences 
the great Osage prairie, more than 60 miles in length, and, 
in fact, succeeded by a continuation of woodless plains to 
the banks of the Missouri. Mr. Prior informed me, that 
in the first hills below, not far from the Arkansa, on the 
east side, and about six miles distant, there is calcareous 
rock. On entering the prairie, I was greatly disappointed 
to find no change in the vegetation, and indeed, rather a 
diminution of species. The Amorpha canescens, which I 
had not heretofore [172] seen, since leaving St. Louis and 
the Missouri, and a new species of Helianthus, however, 
instantly struck me as novel. 

Leaving the path to the Osage village, we visited the 
rapids of the Verdigris, which are situated five miles above 
its embouchure. This obstruction is occasioned by a ledge 
of rocks, which traverse the river, now bare, except about 
three or four yards, over which the water foamed in a small 
cascade. The stream was quite pellucid, and along the 
ledge we saw great numbers of buffaloe-fish, as well as 
gars {Esox osseus), accompanied by several other smaller 
kinds. While viewing the surrounding objects, my atten- 
tion was attracted to a beautiful green-striped lizard, 
resembling, except in the colour and larger size, the La- 
certa vittata. 

If the confluence of the Verdigris, Arkansa, and Grand 
rivers, shall ever become of importance as a settlement, 
which the great and irresistible tide of western emigration 
promises, a town will probably be founded here, at the 
junction of these streams; and this obstruction in the navi- 

236 Early Western Travels [Vol. 13 

gation of the Verdigris, as well as the rapids of Grand 
river, will afford good and convenient situations for mills, 
a matter of no small importance in the list of civilized com- 
forts. From the Verdigris to St. Louis, there is an Osage 
trace, which reduces the distance of those two places to 
about 300 miles, and that also over a country scarcely 
obstructed by mountains. The low hills contiguous to 
the falls of this river, and on which there exist several 
aboriginal mounds, were chosen by the Cherokees and 
Osages to hold their council, and to form a treaty of recip- 
rocal amity as neighbours. This first friendly interview 
with the Cherokees, was soon after broke through by jeal- 
ousy, and accompanied on both sides with the most bar- 
barous revenge. Scarcely any nation of Indians have 
encountered more enemies than the Osages; still they 
flatter themselves, by [173] saying, that they are seated in 
the middle of the world, and, although surrounded by so 
many enemies, they have ever maintained their usual pop- 
ulation, and their country. From conversations with the 
traders, it appeared, that they would not be unwilling to 
dispose of more of their lands, provided that the govern- 
ment of the United States would enter into a stipulation, 
not to settle it with the aborigines, whom they have now 
much greater reason to fear than the whites. The limit 
of their last cession proceeds in a north-east direction from 
the falls of the Verdigris, and enters the line which was 
run from Fire prairie, on the Missouri, to Frog bayou, 
about 60 miles from the Arkansa ; but, as it would appear, 
through a culpable oversight, the saline of Grand river was 
omitted, on the supply of which the whole territory so 
much depended for salt. 

Limestone appears to exist along the banks of the Verdi- 
gris, not many miles above the falls, as large rolled frag- 

1818-1820] Nuttair s 'Journal 237 

ments charged with shells were scattered along the shores. 
The slaty sandstone, also, which forms the falls, dipping 
about 10° to the north-west, exhibits, in some of its beds, 
organic impressions, resembling a very serpentine cary- 
ophyllite, and traversed with calcareous sparry illinitions. 
15th.] The first village of the Osages lies about 60 miles 
from the mouth of the Verdigris, and is said to contain 
7 or 800 men and their families. About 60 miles further, 
on the Osage river, is situated the village of the chief 
called White Hair.'"'' The whole of the Osages are now, 
by governor Clarke, enumerated at about 8000 souls. At 
this time nearly the whole town, men and women, were 
engaged in their summer hunt, collecting bison tallow and 
meat. The principal chief is called by the French Clar- 
mont,*"^ although his proper name is the Iron bird, a 
species of Eagle. The right of governing is commonly 
hereditary, but not always directed by primogeniture. 
[174] Talai, the son of the last chief, being considered 
too young at the decease of his father, the rule was con- 
ferred on Clarmont, son of the chief of White Hair's vil- 
lage, on the Osage river, and his behaviour as regent for 
many years, secured to him the undivided controul of 

"* White Hair was also known by the French equivalent, Cheveux Blancs, 
or as Pahuska. He had gained power throughjthe support of Pierre Chouteau, 
a prominent St. Louis trader who had encouraged factional divisions among the 
Osage, several years previous to the time of our narrative, in order to break the 
monopoly of their trade, which had been purchased by Manuel Lisa, a rival 
St. Louis operator. — Ed. 

*** Clarmont (Clermont) had been tribal leader for some time. Lieutenant 
James Biddle Wilkinson, who visited the Verdigris village in 1807, while explor- 
ing the Arkansas River under orders from General Zebulon M. Pike, reported 
that "Clermont, or the Builder of Towns," was the most influential man of the 
nation, and that his hereditary right to rule the Grand Osage had been usurped 
during his infancy by White Hair. If this be true, Clermont was but regaining 
his rights when he supplanted Talai. Clermont was said to possess four wives 
and thirty-seven children. — Ed. 

238 Early Western Travels [Vol. 13 

the village. Like most of the rulers among the aborigi- 
nes, he neither afifects nor supports any shadow of pomp 
or distinction beyond that of his office as supreme com- 
mander, and leader of the council. His influence is, how- 
ever, so great as to be prudentially courted by all who 
would obtain any object with the village. He appeared 
to be shrewd and sagacious, and no way deficient in 
Indian bravery and cunning. 

The Osages at this time entertained a considerable 
jealousy of the whites, in consequence of the emigration of 
the Cherokees to their frontiers; they considered it as a 
step of policy in the government to overawe them, and in- 
tended to act in concert with the establishment of the gar- 
rison. This consideration, as well as the power and wealth 
of the whites, which have been witnessed by their chiefs 
on their deputation to Washington, has, within these two 
years back, had a salutary tendency to restrain their pre- 
tensions. Still the white hunters and trappers are fre- 
quently insulted and chastised by them. And, on the 
other hand, we have surely no just reason to expect from 
the Indians an unstipulated licence to rob their country of 
that game, which is necessary to their convenience and 

From the Osage interpreter, of whom I made the in- 
quiry, I learned, that, in common with many other Indians, 
as might be supposed from their wandering habits and 
exposure to the elements, they are not unacquainted with 
some peculiar characters and configurations of the stars. 
Habitual observation had taught them that the pole star 
remains stationary, and that all the others appear to re- 
volve around it; they were acquainted [175] with the 
Pleiades, for which they had a peculiar name, and re- 
marked the three stars of Orion's belt. The planet Venus 

i8i8-i82oJ Nuttair s Journal 239 

they recognised as the Lucifier or harbinger of day; and, 
as well as the Europeans, they called the Galaxy the heav- 
enly path or celestial road. The filling and waning of 
the moon regulated their minor periods of time, and the 
number of moons, accompanied by the concomitant phe- 
nomena of the seasons, pointed out the natural duration 
of the year. 

The superstitions of the Osages differ but little from 
those which have so often been described, as practised by 
the other natives. The importance of smoking, as a reli- 
gious ceremony, is such as to be often accompanied by in- 
vocations for every aid or necessary of life. Before going 
out to war they raise the pipe towards heaven or the sun,"* 
and implore the assistance of the Great Spirit to favour 
them in their reprisals, in the stealing of horses, and the 
destruction of their enemies, &c. &c. They are ac- 
quainted with the value of wampum, know the destruc- 
tive effects of guns and gunpowder, and the fascinating, 
but deleterious qualities of spiritous liquors. Their 
minds have not been deluded into a belief in sorcery, 
which, from its supposed fatality, is by many of the eastern 
Indians punished with death. At their festivals, as 
among most of the other natives, the warriors recount 
their actions of bravery, and number them by throwing 
down a stick upon the ground for every exploit, or striking 
at a post fixed for the purpose. On such occasions, they 
sometimes challenge each other with a mutual emulation, 
to recount a like number of warlike deeds. Yet this 
ostentation is rarely suffered to degenerate into insult or 
envious combat; vulgarity is unknown amongst [176] the 

'" The Naudowessies, and, as we are told by La Hontan, the Hurons, 
smoked to the sun and the four cardinal points of the compass, which, according 
to Sir William Jones, is the characteristic ritual of the Tartars. — Nuttall. 

240 Early Western Travels [Vol. 13 

aborigines of America; and the crest-fallen warrior, super- 
ceded by a competitor, only seeks an equal share of honour 
in the claims of patriotism, in the wars of his nation. 

After scalping, the greatest feat of the Indian warrior is 
the stealing of horses from the enemy, which they effect 
with notorious dexterity. The bad effects, which may be 
easily anticipated to arise from this thirst for martial fame, 
is a perpetual and obstinate continuance of war upon the 
slightest pretext ; to which may also be added, their inability 
often, or unwillingness to distinguish betwixt public and 
personal wrong. Instead of punishing offenders against 
the peace, and thus endeavouring to keep up a good 
understanding with their neighbours, the friends of the 
incendiary, who has hurried his nation into war, hearken 
perhaps with indulgence to his misrepresentations, and 
thus too often effectually prohibit the application of salu- 
tary punishment. In fact, the want of legal restraint, and 
of an efficient government, in spite of all our admiration 
of patriarchal rule, have proved the ever baneful means 
of aboriginal depopulation. It is this anarchy which has 
so often prevented their common union against the en- 
croachment of foreigners, and deprived them, in a great 
degree, of the advantages and comforts of public security 
and civilization. The most tyrannical oligarchy, as we have 
seen in the example of the Mexicans, the Peruvians, and 
the Natchez, would have been less injurious in its effects 
on their society, than this paternal form of government, 
which, unfortunately, however natural and virtuous in its 
principle, proves, by its lenity, insufficient to check a 
vicious populace. 

i8i8-i82o] NuttalVs 'Journal 2/\.i 


An excursion up Grand River to visit the Osage salt works 
— Geological observations — Return across the prairie ; 
its general appearance and phenomena. 

17TH.] To-day I proceeded with two young men in a 
canoe up Grand river, with an intention of visiting the salt 
works. We found the water of this stream very clear, and 
the channel little inferior in breadth to some parts of the 
Arkansa; also full of rapids, and now so shallow as to 
admit of no vessel drawing more than 1 2 inches of water. 
The islands are very numerous and small, and the bars 
and bends, except by the predominance of gravel, resemble 
the Arkansa on a reduced scale. The gravel is entirely 
composed of lime-stone and chert. In the distance of 
about seven miles we found the first ridge terminating on 
the borders of the river to be calcareous. Below this, and 
about two or three miles from the mouth of the river, the 
usual dark-coloured slaty sandstone prevails. In the 
course of the day we killed several large buffaloe fish, which 
are very abundant in all the shallow and gravelly ripples, 
apparently a Cyprinus, and very palatable when fried in 
oil. The boney gar (Esox osseus), and the large grey cat- 
fish, are also sufficiently common. We proceeded about 
30 miles. 

i8th.] The morning was fine, and we embarked at sun- 
rise. About eight o'clock we passed a bend called the 
Eagle's nest, a mile above which, and its island, a fasfade 
of calcareous rock appears, inlaid with beds of whitish 
hornstone. WhUe examining these cliffs, I recognised as 
new, a large shrub, and to my great surprise found it to be 
a simple-leaved Rhus, scarcely distinct from the R. Coliniis 
of the south of Europe and of our gardens. Hills and 

242 Early Western Travels [Vol. 13 

cliffs, but [178] partly hid in woods, were now of frequent 
occurrence along the river bank. The neighbouring 
thickets abounded with game, amongst which two bears 
made their appearance. The gravel bars were almost cov- 
ered with Amsonia salicijolia, with which grew also the 
Sesbania macrocarpa of Florida. 

This evening I arrived at Mr. Slover's, two miles below 
the saline. The farm which this hunter occupied was 
finely elevated and productive, and apparently well suited 
to the production of small grain. Up to this place, which 
is said to be 50 miles from the Arkansa, the cane continues 
to be abundant. In this elevated alluvion I still observed 
the Coffee-bean tree (Gymnocladus canadensis), the over- 
cup white oak (Quercus macrocarpa), the pecan (Gary a 
olivcejormis) the common hickory, ash, elm; and below, 
in places near the margin of the river, the poplar-leaved 
birch (Betula populijolia). 

Mr. S. informed me, that on the opposite side of the 
river, and two miles from hence, another strong salt spring 
breaks out through the incumbent gravel; and that there 
are other productive springs 25 miles above. 

19th.] This morning, I walked with Mr. Slover to see 
the salt works, now indeed lying idle, and nearly deserted 
in consequence of the murder of Mr. Campbell, by Erhart, 
his late partner, and two accomplices in their employ. 
Melancholy as were the reflections naturally arising from 
this horrid circumstance, I could not but congratulate 
myself on having escaped, perhaps a similar fate. At the 
Cadron, I had made application to Childer's, one of these 
remorseless villains, as a woodsman and hunter, to accom- 
pany me for hire, only about a month before he had shot 
and barbarously scalped Mr. Campbell, for the purpose 
of obtaining his little property, and in spite of the 

1818-1820] Nutt all's journal 243 

friendship which he had uniformly received from the 

[179] But to return to the subject. We proceeded two 
miles, along the hilly and woody skirts of the river, and 
through the adjoining prairie to the saline, which appeared 
to be a gravelly, alluvial basin, of about an acre in extent, 
and destitute of all vegetation. A small fresh water brook, 
now scarcely running, passed through this area, and the 
salt water, quite pellucid, issued copiously to the surface 
in various directions. In one place it boiled up out of a 
focus of near six inches diameter, emitting fetid bubbles 
of sulphuretted hydrogen, which deposited a slight scum 
of sulphur. All the springs are more or less hepatic, 
which circumstance is attributable to a bed of bituminous 
and sulphuretted slate-clay, visible on the margin of the 
stream, and, probably, underlaid by coal, through which 
the water rises to the surface. In the adjoining heights, 
a coarse-grained sandstone occurs, answering the purpose 
of mill-stones; the stream then contracts at the entrance 
of a ledge of slaty rocks, and, about a half mile from its 
immediate outlet, the water is perfectly fresh. The only 
well dug upon the premises for the salt water, was about 
five feet deep, and quarried through a bed of dark-coloured 
limestone, containing shells and nodules of black horn- 
stone, similar to the chert of Derbyshire. This salt 
appears to be concomitant with a coaly or bituminous for- 
mation. No marine plants appear in this vicinity, as at 
Onondago, where we meet with the Salicornia of the sea 
marshes. When the works were in operation, 120 bushels 
of salt were manufactured in a week, and the water is 
said to be so strong, that after the second boiling, it be- 
came necessary to remove the lye. No mother water, or 
any thing almost but what is volatile, appears mixed with 

244 Early Western Travels [Vol. 13 

this salt, which is of the purest whiteness on the first boil- 
ing, and only takes about 80 gallons of water to produce 
a bushel. Hitherto these springs have been unaccom- 
panied by any fossil remains of quadrupeds. 

[180] This forenoon I was disagreeably surprised by a 
slight attack of the intermittent fever, which was also be- 
ginning to make its appearance in the family of Mr. Slover. 
In the spring, they were likewise affected by the influenza, 
which prevailed in the Osage village, and induced several 
pulmonary consumptions. No medicines being at hand, 
as imprudently I had not calculated upon sickness, I took 
in the evening about a pint of a strong and very bitter de- 
coction, of the Eupatorium cuneifolium, the E. perjoliatum 
or Bone-set, not being to be found in the neighbourhood. 
This dose, though very nauseous, did not prove sufficient 
to operate as an emetic, but acted as a diaphoretic and 
gentle laxative, and prevented the proximate return of the 

20th.] This morning I left Mr. Slover's, and proceeded, 
by compass, across the Great Osage plain, towards the 
mouth of the Verdigris. My course was south by west, the 
distance being about 30 miles. Twenty miles of this route 
was without any path, and through grass three feet deep, 
often entangled with brambles, and particularly with the 
tenacious "saw-brier" (Schrankia horridula). The honey 
upon the grass, as at Sambo prairie, was so universally 
abundant, that my mockasins and pantaloons were soaked 
as with oO. Several insulated eminences, appearing al- 
most artificial, served to diversify the cheerless uniformity 
of the extensive plain, still wrapt in primeval solitude. 
Not even a tree appeared, except along the brooks of 
Grand river and the Verdigris, which rivers, for 25 or 30 
leagues, are not more than 12 to 15 miles apart. About 

1818-1820] Nuttair s 'Journal 245 

a mile from the base of one of those prominent hills, in- 
sulated like an aboriginal mound, and towards which I 
was directed to proceed, passed the path to the Indian 
village, and the outlet of the Verdigris. It was evening 
when I arrived at this hill, which had been a prominent 
object in view, ever since my outset this morning. From 
[181] its summit, the wide and verdant plain appeared 
visible for 40 miles. Proceeding about four miles from 
this eminence, much fatigued, I lay down to sleep in the 
prairie, under the clear canopy of heaven; — but alone, 
and without the necessary comforts of either fire, food, or 
water. The crickets, grashoppers, catidids, and stocking- 
weavers, as they are familiarly called, kept up such a loud 
and shrill crepitation, as to prove extremely irksome, and 
almost stunning to the ears. Every tender leaved plant, 
whether bitter or sweet, by thousands of acres, were now 
entirely devoured by the locust grashoppers, which arose 
before me almost in clouds. I slept, however, in comfort, 
and was scarcely at all molested by musquetoes. The 
next day, after spending considerable time in botanizing, 
I arrived at the trading houses. 


Interviews with the Osages — Occasional observations 
on their manners and habits, &c. — Sickness in the 

24TH.] Last evening, as well as this morning, we were 
waited upon by two of the Osage chiefs from the village, 
one of whom was Ta-lai, their hereditary ruler. Some 
of the inferior chiefs were begging tobacco, like earnest 
and genuine mendicants. It is to be regretted, that the 
man of nature should sink so low by intercourse with the 
civilized world, and by the acquisition of what were once 

246 Early Western Travels [Vol. 13 

to him merely artificial wants. Surrounded by a fertile 
country, the Indian, without ever being either rich or 
independent, finds it difficult to obtain subsistence, tres- 
passes upon his neighbours, lives in insecurity, and in 
implacable enmity with those of his own race. A [182] 
stranger to our ideas of honour, he destroys his enemies 
by the meanest stratagems, and levels, in his revenge, all 
distinctions of age and sex. Such is the general character 
of the Osages, and such even that of the Cherokees, after 
all their external approaches towards civilization. 

To give my Reader some idea of the laborious exertions 
which these people exercise to obtain a livelihood, I need 
only relate, that the Osages had now returned to their 
village from a tallow hunt, in which they had travelled 
not less than 300 miles up the Arkansa, and had crossed 
the Saline plains, situated betwixt that river and the 
Canadian. In this hunt, they say, that 10 villages of 
themselves and friends (as the Kansas, who speak nearly 
the same language) joined for common safety. They 
were, however, attacked by a small scout of the Pawnees, 
and lost one of their young men who was much esteemed, 
and, as I myself witnessed, distractingly lamented by the 
father, of whom he was the only son. They say, the coun- 
try through which they passed is so destitute of timber, 
that they had to carry along their tent poles, and to make 
fire of the bison ordure. 

The activity and agility of the Osages is scarcely credi- 
ble. They not uncommonly walk from their village to 
the trading houses, at the mouth of the Verdigris, in one 
day, a distance of about 60 miles. 

The Osages, in their private conversations, do not 
appear still to be on an amicable footing with the Chero- 
kees. One of their chiefs insisted on the hunting boundary 

1818-1820] Nuttair s 'Journal 247 

being established betwixt the two nations, so that either 
party might be punished, by robbery and plunder (or 
confiscation as we term it), who should be found trans- 
gressing the limits assigned. Aware of the strength of 
their enemies, they have been led to seek the alliance of 
other Indians, and have recently cultivated the friendship 
of the Outigamis (now called Sauks and Foxes) of the 
Mississippi. [183] In a recent council, held at the village 
of the Verdigris, these people were presented with 100 
horses by the O sages. Sensible of this liberality, the 
Outigamis pledged themselves to prove their active allies, 
whenever necessity should dictate it to them. These gifts, 
however great, are not difficult to replace, as they now, 
this hunt, obtained more than 300 horses, which they had 
either caught wild, or stolen from the Pawnees, their 

27th.] This morning, Clarmont, accompanied by some 
of the lesser chiefs, arrived from the lower village, on their 
way to the garrison, where they were to hold a council 
with the Cherokees. There was some degree of urbanity, 
though nothing at first very prepossessing, in the appear- 
ance of Clarmont. He wore a hat ornamented with a 
band of silver lace, with a sort of livery or regimental coat, 
and appeared proud of the artificial distinctions bestowed 
on him by the government. He asked, familiarly, if I had 
ever heard of him before, and appeared gratified at my 
answering in the affirmative. I am told, however, that, 
of late years, his influence at home has been greatly super- 
ceded by that of Ta-lai, the true hereditary chief. Ta-lai 
was now also present, but destitute of any exterior decora- 
tions, though on his way to the general council; I did not 
consequently recognise him until pointed out to me. In 
excuse for laying aside the honourable distinctions of the 

248 Early Western Travels [Vol. 13 

government, he said, there was no necessity, he thought, of 
parading the medal, his people knew him to be the chief, 
and the major could not be ignorant of his station. This 
natural unassuming behaviour, which we so seldom wit- 
ness in life, surprised and prepossessed me in favour of 
this legitimate chief. His aspect was uncommonly be- 
nign, and bespoke the man of candor and benevolence. 

Last summer a general council of the natives, friendly 
disposed towards the Osages, took place at [184] their 
village; amongst them were Shawnees, Dela wares, Creeks, 
Quapaws, Kanzas, Ouitgamis, &c. Their ostensible 
object was not known; it would appear, however, that 
they had been invited by the Osages, who on this occa- 
sion gave away more than 300 horses. The Outigamis 
told them in an unlimited manner, that they would be al- 
ways ready at the first notice, to join them at any time, 
against any nation. With the Creeks they were dissatis- 
fied, and alledged that they had undervalued their hos- 
pitality by bringing spoons in their pockets, which was 
probably turned into a sinister omen. 

Preparatory to undertaking a warlike expedition, the 
Osages, in common with many other of the aborigines, 
practised rigid fasts, which were frequently continued 
from three to seven days together, forming, with other 
privations and inflictions, a kind of penance, by which they 
disciplined themselves for disasters, and supplicated the 
pity and favour of heaven. Their invocations to the 
Good Spirit, and their lamentations, are incessant. About 
sunrise the whole village re-echoes with the most plaintive 
tones of distress, uttered at the doors of their lodges, or at 
the tombs of those whom they loved and esteemed while 
living. Indeed, all their affections, uncontrolled by the 
mask of affectation, are sincere and ingenuous. Of the 

1818-1820] Nuttair s "Journal 249 

sincerity of their conjugal attachment, notwithstanding 
the coldness of temper which has been alleged against the 
aborigines generally, I have witnessed, among them and 
others, many unequivocal proofs. The expression of 
affection, perhaps, as in other societies, where it is so 
studiously concealed, is more tender and assiduous on 
the part of the female. A few days ago we were near 
upon witnessing something tragical, in the conduct of an 
Indian woman, who had been several years married to a 
French hunter, living with the Osages. Soon after Mr. 
Bougie's arrival, intoxication taking place in the camp, 
a quarrel [185] ensued between the husband of this 
woman and another of the French hunters. Their alter- 
cation filled her with terror, and she gave way to tears and 
lamentations, not doubting but that the antagonist, who 
was the aggressor, intended the death of her husband, as 
threats among the Indians are the invariable preludes to 
fatal actions. When, at length, they began to struggle 
with each other, without any more ado, she seized upon 
a hatchet, and would instantly have dispatched the man 
who fought with her husband, if not prevented by the 

That curious species of polygamy, which prevails 
among some other Indian nations, is likewise practised by 
the Osages, by which, the man who first marries into a 
family, from that period possesses the controul of all the 
sisters of his wife, whom he is at liberty either to espouse 
himself, or to bestow upon others. The maid, as amongst 
the Quapaws and others, is distinguished from the 
matron by the method she employs in braiding her hair 
into two cylindric rolls, which are ornamented with beads, 
silver, or wampum, and inclined to either side of the head 
near the ears. After marriage the hair is unloosed and 

250 Early Western Travels [Vol. 13 

brought together behind. This is one of those little 
arbitrary distinctions which is quite as invariable as the 
general costume of the people who employ it. 

A practise no less notorious among the young men of 
the Osages, and the natives generally, is the careful ex- 
traction of the marks of pubescence from every part of the 
body. These Indians even pluck out their eyebrows, 
shave their heads, and leave only a small scalp upon the 
crown. Of this, two locks left long, are plaited and orna- 
mented with silver, wampum, and eagle's feathers. The 
tonsure and ears, as well as the eye-lashes, are painted 
with Vermillion on ordinary occasions, but blackened to 
express grief or misfortune. Sometimes, apparently out 
of fancy, they fantastically [186] decorate their faces with 
white, black, or green stripes. The use of calico or shirts 
is yet unknown among them, and their present fashions 
and mode of dress have been so long stationary, as now to 
be by themselves considered characteristic. In their dress, 
fairish tawney red colour, and aquiline features, they 
resemble the Outigamis. 

The Osages are more than usually superstitious. With 
them an ominous dream is often sufficient to terminate 
the most important expedition. After performing an 
exploit, instead of pursuing their success, scarcely any 
consideration can deter them from instantly returning to 
bear the welcome intelligence to their band. Their com- 
munion with each other is so frank, that nothing can re- 
main a secret. In this way their intentions of war and 
plunder are long anticipated, however sudden and secret 
may be their actual operations. They are no strangers to 
dissimulation, when it will answer their purpose in their 
intercourse with others, but falsehood among their friends 
or fellows would be looked upon as unnatural and un- 

i8i8-i82o] Nuttair s 'Journal 251 

pardonable. They entertain unconquerable prejudices 
against hunters. While in the village, or in their company 
abroad, the stranger is sure to be protected and treated 
like themselves in every particular; but if he is found in 
their country as a foreigner, and pursuing a different 
interest from their own, he can scarcely be distinguished 
from an enemy and an intruder, and must calculate on 
meeting with chastisement accordingly. To be found 
upon their war-paths is likewise considered criminal. 
These particular routes which they pursue in quest of 
their enemies, are recognised by beacons, painted posts, 
and inscribed hieroglyphics, commonly set up near the 
boundaries of their range; and those whom they chance 
to find in this direction, are at best considered as ambig- 
uous friends, and trespassers on the neutral character 
which is expected to be maintained. 

[187] The miserable fate which, last autumn, befel Mr. 
M'Farlane (who is mentioned by Wilkinson,^" in his de- 
scent of the Arkansa, as then taken prisoner by the O sages) 
is a sufiicient proof the danger of intruding on their war- 
path.^'* The Osages had taken this hunter into custody 
near to a Pawnee village, with whose inhabitants they 
were at war, and were about to proceed with him to their 
own town on the Verdigris. He was, however, very 
desirous of returning to the village for his son who re- 
mained behind, to which the Indians at last consented, 
and two of them offered to accompany him back towards 
the Pawnees; but after proceeding some distance they 
seized upon him, put out his eyes, and then goaded him 

"' Lieutenant J. B. Wilkinson, mentioned in note 195. For the account of 
his meeting with M'Farlane, see Coues, Expeditions oj Zebulon Montgomery 
Pike (New York, 1895), p. 558. — Ed. 

"* Charlevoix remarks, "Every one is an enemy found in the warrior's 
path," p. 155. — NUTTALL. 

252 Early Western Travels [Vol. 13 

along for several miles with sharpened canes, thus pro- 
tracting his death by torture, until one of them, through 
compassion, put an end to his existence by the tomahawk. 
Although this fact was now well known in the territory, 
and not denied by the Osages, no steps had been taken 
to avenge the death of this unfortunate hunter. The 
Osages indeed disavowed the deed as that of their nation, 
but contented themselves by saying, that the action had 
been committed by two bad men, who were beyond their 
control. The property of the white hunter generally, 
whom they discover in their country, without special per- 
mission, is considered as an indisputable perquisite; and 
after perhaps (as I have heard related) breaking his gun 
in pieces, and flogging him with the ram-rod, they will 
turn him out into the wilderness nearly naked, and leave 
him to perish, unless, like a prisoner, he consents to adop- 
tion or affiliation, when every thing is again restored to 
him, and he is received as one of their people. 

28th.] To-day I accompanied one of the hunters about 
9 or 10 miles over the alluvial lands of Grand [188] river, 
which were fertile, and covered in great part with cane. 
The river lands are no less extensive and luxuriant be- 
twixt the Verdigris and Arkansa, and would apparently 
support a condensed settlement ; but the prairies will only 
admit of settlements along their borders, in consequence 
of the scarcity of wood and water. Coal, however, in this 
country appears abundant, as fragments are to be seen 
commonly deposited along the borders of the rivers. 

On the 30th and 31st an irregular remittent fever be- 
gan to show itself in our camp, with which myself and five 
or six others were affected. With me it came on towards 
evening, unaccompanied by any sensible chill, but at- 

1818-1820] Nuttair s 'Journal 253 

tended with the most excruciating head-ache and violent 

August 2d and 3d.] These two days in succession I ex- 
perienced the same fever, but now more moderate, and 
preceded by chills. 

4th.] Last evening the chiefs of the Osage village ar- 
rived from fort Smith, without effecting an interview with 
the Cherokees, who, under the pretext of attending to 
their harvest, had postponed the meeting until the month 
of September. The chiefs, not without reason, appeared 
to be considerably perplexed and disappointed at the con- 
duct and apparent evasion of the Cherokees. 

Yesterday, whilst I lay sick, some Indian contrived to 
rob me of the only penknife in my possession, and my 
pocket microscope. I immediately suspected the thief 
to have been a fellow who had the same morning, out of 
amusement, mounted my coat and hat, but he constantly 
denied the theft, and suffered himself to be searched by 
the soldier of police, who is generally some trusty warrior 
appointed by the chief to keep order in the camp or village, 
and to punish offenders in a summary way. 

The chiefs addressed the Indians present concerning 
the theft, and seriously admonished those who [189] had 
the articles to give them up. Talai reproved the Indians 
in general terms for their injustice, which he asserted to 
be the means by which they had made themselves so many 
enemies. ''Why will you," says he, "steal things which 
are useless to you, and which are, at the same time, of 
importance to others. To-day, while we were travelling, 
we heard the report of a gun, which might, indeed, have 
been that of white people, who are our friends, but it 
might likewise have been some party of those enemies by 
which we are everywhere surrounded, who could so easily 

254 " Early Western Travels [Vol. 13 

have destroyed a handful of old and almost defenceless 
chiefs. How much better, my friends, would it be if we 
could learn to do right and be honest. We should then 
have friends instead of enemies; but as long as we violate 
justice, we shall continue to live in fear and shame. 
When did the white people steal from us? yet you have 
both plundered and killed those who have always been 
your friends and benefactors. This evening we arrived 
here fatigued and hungry, and the white people have fed 
us. We ought to return this kindness by presents of pro- 
vision; but, instead of that, the Osages sell their tallow, 
and corn, and meat, give nothing, and come and eat of 
that which they have sold. The Osages are always a bad 
people, and so have many enemies." 

The candour of this speech surprised us, although it 
well accorded with the honest and benevolent character of 
the speaker. I am told that he was quite assiduous in 
attempting the reform of the village, and inculcating 
amongst them the necessity and advantage of maintain- 
ing peace with their neighbours. It is gratifying to learn 
that this chief, Talai, whose example so well accorded 
with the just principles which he preferred, was now 
gaining the ascendancy over Clarmont, whose conduct had 
always been tinctured by rapacity. Talai, indeed, well 
deserved the chief medal of the nation. 

[190] It is, I think, to be regretted, that the Indians 
should not be made sensible of the impropriety and ille- 
gality of executing summary and unlimited punishment 
upon the citizens of the United States, who are found 
travelling or hunting in their country. Ought they not 
rather to be taught that the government would be ever 
willing and ready to do them justice, by punishing their 
own citizens, rather than submitting them, in this way, to 

1818-1820] Nuttair s 'Journal 255 

the cruel pilfering, and castigation of savages! If the 
frontier garrisons are not capable of effecting this bene- 
ficial purpose, for what were they established ? but could 
not even this be better executed by the governor and the 
militia of the territory, than by the arbitrary commander 
and the soldiers of a garrison ? 

This morning, about day-break, the Indians, who had 
encamped around us, broke out into their usual lamenta- 
tions and complaints to the Great Spirit. Their mourn- 
ing was truly pathetic, and uttered in a peculiar tone. 
Amongst those who first broke forth into lamentation, 
and aroused the rest to their melancholy orisons, was the 
pious Ta-lai. The commencing tone was exceedingly 
loud, and gradually fell off into a low, long continued, and 
almost monotonous base. To this tone of lamentation 
was modulated, the subject of their distress or petition. 
Those who had experienced any recent distress or mis- 
fortune, previously blackened their faces with coal, or 
besmeared them with ashes. This lamentation and 
abasement, in unison with oriental customs, recalled to 
mind the penance of the Jews, their ''sackcloth and 
ashes," and Jeremiah their weeping prophet. 

4th.] Last evening two very handsome young men of 
the O sages arrived from the village, with some tallow to 
barter, and while Mr. Bougie and the rest of the camp 
were amusing themselves at cards, these Mercuries con- 
trived to carry off a small brass kettle, [191] and endeav- 
oured, though ineffectually, to hook off a musquetoe 
bier, after which they took the advantage of the night to 
make their escape. They appeared to have been very 
well satisfied with the trader, but could not postpone their 
dexterity at thieving, which being scarcely considered as 

256 Early Western Travels [Vol. 13 

a dishonourable action, is rarely punished further than by 
the restitution of the articles. 

On the evening of the 5th, we were visited by another 
of the Osages, bringing the usual commodities of the sea- 
son, tallow, dried bison meat, and sweet corn, being dried 
while in the milk, and thus forming an agreeable ingredient 
in the soup of the prepared bison beef. It is a dish which 
the Indians, from time immemorial, have been accus- 
tomed to prepare, and consider a luxury coeval with their 
annual festival of the "Green-corn Dance. "^'^ 

In the morning, I was informed, that this Indian wished 
to exchange a horse with me, for the mare which I had 
purchased of Mr. Lee; I desired them to tell him, that I 
requested to have nothing to say to him; knowing him, by 
report, to be a consummate thief and rascal; but, as he 
insisted on the subject, I went to see the animal offered me 
in exchange, and was truly surprised at the impudence 
and knavery of the demand. The horse which he prof- 
fered, was not worth possession, as lean as Rosinante. It 
may easily be supposed that I rejected his offer, which was 
nothing better than an insult. My mare was at this time 
feeding across the Verdigris. The Indian said no more, 
concluded his barter with the trader, and left us; but in- 
stead of proceeding directly towards the village, by the 
usual route, he kept down the Verdigris. I now sus- 
pected that he was intent on thievery, and two of us directly 
followed him by land, and two by water. We saw him 
and his wife now crossing the river, and then walking 
hastily across the beach; by the time we came up with him, 
he had [192] seized my horse, loaded it with his baggage, 
and would in a minute or two more, with all the dexterity 

^'° For an account of the green com dance as practiced by the Minitaree of 
Dakota, see Report of Smithsonian Institution, 1885, ii, p. 314. — Ed. 

i8i8-i82o] Nuttair s 'Journal 257 

of an Arab, have carried him off, and so by force and 
robbery have effected the exchange he so much desired. 
Daring villains seldom want excuses; he pretended, that 
the man of whom Mr. Prior bought the horse, had told 
him to bring it away, and leave the one he offered in its 
stead. His first depredation, this morning, was stealing 
a case of razors, which being discovered in his shot pouch, 
were taken from him; these he said, he only wanted to 
shave his head, and would then have returned them. 

Circumstanced as we were, it was not politic to chastize 
him, as he would probably, out of revenge, have lurked 
about a week, in order to have stolen my horse. After 
some persuasion, and, above all, a hint that if his conduct 
were made known at the garrison, from whom I had re- 
ceived permission to proceed up the country, he need not 
expect the restitution of his wife and three children, from 
the hands of the Cherokees, if that was to be his line of 
conduct ; he now began to speak in a submissive tone, and 
ordered his squaw to unpack my horse. I was still, how- 
ever, mortified to find that it was necessary, prudentially, 
as suggested by the trader, not only to desist from ad- 
ministering punishment, but even to bestow a present 
upon the villain by way of encouragement. Such is the 
indulgent method of dealing with Indians employed by 
the traders! 

As among most other nations of the aborigines, the 
principal labour, except that of hunting, devolves upon 
the women. Accustomed to perpetual drudgery, they 
are stouter and lower in stature than the men. They 
appear scarcely to inherit the same condition. Considered 
almost as slaves and creatures of appetite, their lives are 
always secured as prisoners. It is to their industry and 
ingenuity, that the men owe every manufactured article 

258 Early Western Travels [Vol. 13 

of their dress, as well as every [193] utensil in their huts. 
The Osage women appear to excel in these employments. 
Before the Cherokees burnt down their town on the Ver- 
digris, their houses were chiefly covered with hand-wove 
matts of bulrushes. Their baskets and bed matts of this 
material, were parti-coloured and very handsome. This 
manufacture, I am told, is done with the assistance of 
three sticks, arranged in some way so as to answer the 
purpose of a loom, and the strands are inlaid diagonally. 
They, as well as the Cherokees and others, frequently take 
the pains to unravel old blankets and cloths, and re-weave 
the yam into belts and garters. This weaving is no 
modem invention of the Indians. Nearly all those whom 
De Soto found inhabiting Florida and Louisiana, on either 
side of the Mississippi, and who were, in a great measure, 
an agricultural people, dressed themselves in woven gar- 
ments made of the lint of the mulberry, the papaw, or the 
elm; and, in the colder seasons of the year, they wore 
coverings of feathers, chiefly those of the turkey. The 
same dresses were still employed in the time of Du Pratz.^*"* 

200 1 1 Many of the women wear cloaks of the bark of the mulberry tree, or 
of the feathers of swans, turkies, or India ducks. The bark they take from young 
mulberry shoots that rise from the roots of trees that have been cut down; after 
it is dried in the sun, they beat it to make all the woody part fall off, and they 
give the threads that remain a second beating, after which they bleach them by 
exposing them to the dew. When they are well whitened, they spin them about 
the coarseness of packthread, and weave them in the following manner: they 
plant two stakes in the ground, about a yard and a half asunder, and having 
stretched a cord from the one to the other, they fasten their threads of bark 
double to this cord, and then interweave them in a curious manner into a cloak, 
of about a yard square, with a wrought border round the edges." Du Pratz. 
Hist. Louisiana, p. 363. Lond. Ed. 

According to Adair also, the Choctaws formed blankets of the smaller feathers 
of the turkey. ' ' They twist the inner end of the feathers very fast into a strong 
double thread of hemp, or the inner bark of the mulberry tree, of the size and 
strength of coarse twine, and they work it in the manner of fine netting." 
Adair's History of the American Indians, p. 423. — Nuttall. 

1818-1820] Nuttair s journal 2^g 

These feather mantles were, within the recollection of the 
oldest men, once used by the Cherokees, as I learnt whilst 
among them. There is, [194] therefore, nothing ex- 
traordinary in the discovery of these garments around the 
bodies which had been interred in the nitre caves of Ken- 
tucky. Presents of these ''mantels" as they are called 
by Purchas, now superceded by European blankets, were 
perpetually offered to Soto, throughout the course of his 
expedition, and are still made use of by the natives of the 
north-west coast. Nor is there any thing in this invention 
beyond the common ingenuity of man, guarding himself 
against the inclemencies of climate. To assert that all 
men were of the same race, because they had all invented 
a somewhat similar clothing, is quite as futile, as the same 
conclusion would be in consideration of their all being 
born naked. ^"^ 

The principal food of the present. Indians, who inhabit 
the west side of the Mississippi, is the bison, which they 
prepare in a very commodious way, without the use of 
salt, by cutting it up into broad and thin slices, which are 
dried on a scaffold over a slow fire, and afterwards folded 
up in the manner of peltries, so as to be equally portable. 
The tallow is rendered into skins or cases, like the utriculi, 
or leathern bottles of the ancients, the whole animal being 
skinned through the aperture of the neck. In this way, 
they also collect with convenience the honey and bear's 
oil, which is the produce of their forests. 

From the general absence of religious ceremony, and 
the unostentatious character of devotion among the 

^"^ See Archaeologia Americana, vol. i. p. 320, &c. in which there is an attempt 
to prove that the ancient inhabitants of the western states originated from the 
Malays. — Nuttall. 

26 o Early Western Travels [Vol. 13 

Indians, it has always been a difficult matter to inspire 
them with any thing like correct ideas of the Christian 
religion. As we have already remarked, they are not, 
however, void of superstition, such as a belief in the warn- 
ings of dreams, the observance [195] of omens, the wear- 
ing of amulets, and the dedication of offerings to invisible 
or miraculous agents, supposed to be represented in the 
accidental forms of natural objects. But these objects, 
calculated to inspire a momentary homage, are never 
addressed for any thing beyond temporal favours. 

Although they generally believe in the immortality of 
the soul, they have no steady and distinct conception of a 
state of reward and punishment. The future state, be- 
lieved to be but little different from that which they now 
enjoy, is alike attainable by every hunter, and every 
warrior. It is on a conviction of this belief, that the 
implements of war, and the decorations and utensils em- 
ployed by the living, are entombed with the dead. Their 
jealousy of the whites, and suspicion of sinister designs, 
render them cold and cautious in the adoption of Chris- 
tianity, and it has ever been those who have said the least 
on religion, and who, like the Society of the Friends and 
the Moravians, have preached rather by their benevolent 
example, and by the introduction of useful arts, that have 
made the most durable and favourable impression on the 
minds and morals of the natives. 

To show how little can be anticipated among the Osages, 
by the inculcation of the mere dogmas of Christianity, 
may be seen by the following anecdote. Mr. Bougie, in- 
formed me, that last winter, while accidentally engaged 
in reading the New Testament, two or three young men, 
of the Osages, coming into his store, enquired of him what 
was said in that book. He answered, that it informed him 

i8i8-i82o] Nuttair s 'Journal 261 

of the descent of God upon the earth, who was seen by 
men, conversed with them, and wrought mu-acles. If 
that was true, they asked, why did he not come down now 
among men as he did then? To which Mr. B. rephed, 
because the world was now so wicked. They looked at one 
another, held their hands to their mouths, as they always 
do in token of surprise, and, smiling, [196] said, "the book 
may tell you so, but we don't believe it." 

Independent of some resemblance in language, dis- 
coverable betwixt the aborigines of North America, and 
the Tartar tribes of the Russian empire, there is, likewise, 
something very similar in their habits and morals. They 
are equally erratic and unsettled in their abode, and have 
ever been so, according to Herodotus, for thousands of 
years. The Hamaxobii, of that author, still live in their 
travelling houses, and occupy the same country without 
any sensible diminution or increase of numbers. Both 
people are separated into numerous bands or tribes, char- 
acterised by a diversity of language, acknowledging no 
other rule than that which is patriarchal, and no other alli- 
ance than that of fraternity. They are alike insensible to 
the wants and comforts of civilization. They know 
neither poverty nor riches; vice nor virtue. Their simple 
condition appears to have perpetually partaken of that of 
the first family of the human race, and they have been 
alike exempt from the luxuries of ephemeral grandeur, 
and the mournful vicissitudes of fortune. Happy equality, 
which knows neither the sins of ambition, nor the crimes 
of avarice ! 

The picture of the Samoyades,^"^ drawn apparently by 

^*^ Vide Pinkerton's collection of Voyages and Travels, vol. i. in loco. — 


262 Early Western Travels [Vol. 13 

a careful hand, might almost pass for that of the North 
American Indians. Alike they acknowledge the existence 
of a supreme and invisible Being, the author of all things. 
The sun and moon they also adore as superior beings of 
the creation. They both in their invocations address the 
four quarters of the earth. Their priests or elders ad- 
minister to them charms when sick or unfortunate in 
hunting. They submit with apathy (or resignation) to 
misfortunes, and express no violent passions. Their in- 
sensibility is such, as to prevent all surprise or curiosity at 
the [197] sight of novelties. They fear, but do not adore 
bad spirits. Unacquainted with laws, and governed by 
customs, they acknowledge no ruler beyond the senior of 
the common family or tribe. To religious ceremonies 
they are strangers. Anticipating the contingencies of a 
future state of existence, they also inter with the warrior 
his bow and arrows. They allow polygamy, but avoid 
consanguinity in marriage. Their wives are purchased 
(to evince their esteem), and the marriage, consummated 
at an early age, is no longer binding than the continuance 
of mutual friendship and affection. Their names are 
taken from the animals of the forest, or the phenomena of 
nature. Their hair is coarse, lank, and black, and they 
have little or no beard, or marks of pubescence on other 
parts of the body, and, whenever it does appear, it is care- 
fully eradicated. Such is the character, and such the 
manners of those Asiatics, inhabiting the very same parallel 
as that which includes the most proximate and occidental 
point of the North American continent, the same parallel, 
which in both continents afford the Ovis Ammon, or wild 
sheep, the reindeer, the white wolf, the chacal, the silver 
fox, the sable, and the ermine. 

i8i8-i82o] NuttaW s journal 263 


Journey by land to the Great Salt river of the Arkansa — 
Proceed across the prairies to the Little North Fork of 
the Canadian — Detained by sickness — Continue up 
the Little North Fork, arrive at Salt river, and after- 
wards at the Arkansa — Molested and pursued by the 
Osages — Arrive again at the Verdigris, and proceed 
to the garrison — Conclusion of the treaty between the 
Osages and Cherokees. 

August nth.] To-day I left the trading establishment 
of the Verdigris to proceed on a land journey up the 
Arkansa, accompanied by a trapper and hunter named 
Lee, who had penetrated across this country nearly to the 
sources of Red river, and followed his present occupation 
for upwards of eight years. We crossed the river, and 
proceeding through the alluvion, entered the prairie, over 
which we continued in a westwardly course, encamping 
in the evening upon the banks of a small creek, about 
12 miles from our place of departure. The prairies or 
grassy plains which we entered upon a mile from the 
river, exhibited the same appearance as below, and 
on the opposite side of the river. The rock of the 
hills, like those of the prairies near the garrison, consisted 
of a ferruginous sandstone. To the south of our encamp- 
ment, we had in view a low ridge of hills very abruptly 
broken into fantastic contours. In these prairies, I found 
a second species of Brachyris, pungently aromatic to the 
taste, and glutinous to the touch; its aspect is that of 
Chrysocoma. Our route was directed towards the Salt 
river, or the first Red river of the Arkansa, called by Pike 
the Grand Saline,^"' and about 80 or 90 miles distant from 
our encampment. 

^"^ This river is now known as the Cimarron. A smaller stream, some dis- 
tance above, is alone properly called Salt Fork of the Arkansas. The two water- 

264 Early Western Travels [Vol. 13 

[199] 12th.] We continued our journey about sunrise, 
proceeding over the plain in a south-west direction. 
About 10 miles from the brook of our last night's encamp- 
ment we passed another, but destitute of running water, 
which is at this season of the year exceedingly scarce. 
The Arkansa, several miles to our right, appeared to make 
an extensive sinus to the north-west, as is designated in 
Pike's map, where it is continued up to the looth degree 
of longitude, the dividing line from the possessions of 
Spain. We found the prairies full of grass about knee 
deep, although all the gullies and smaller streams were 
perfectly dried up ; it was only when we arrived at a brook 
or rivulet that we could obtain a draught of water, and 
that always stagnant, and often putrid. The day being 
oppressively hot and thirsty, I very imprudently drank 
some very nauseous and tepid water, which immediately 
affected my stomach, and produced such a sickness, that 
it was with difficulty I kept upon my horse, until we 
arrived at the next creek for shelter, where we encamped 
and remained for the rest of the afternoon. Our horses 
were still tormented with the clegs or green-headed flies 
of the prairies, which goaded them without intermission. 

About 10 o'clock this morning, we crossed the trace 
which the Osages had made, going out to hunt in a body 
of 2 or 300 men and their families. Its direction was 
south, or towards Red river. Two or three miles further 
we crossed their returning track. We were no way anxious 
to meet with Indians, as they would, probably, rob us of 
our horses, if not of our baggage, and ill-treat us besides, 
according to the dictates of their caprice and the object of 
their party. — To-day we came about 20 miles. 

ways and their names were long confused. Among the tributaries of the Ar- 
kansas from the west, the Cimarron is second only to the Canadian in size. 
It rises in the mountains of New Mexico. — Ed. 

i8i8-i82o] Nuttair s journal 265 

13th.] We were again on our way soon after sunrise, 
and still continued through plains destitute of timber. 
After proceeding about four miles, we passed another 
insignificant brook, and about six miles [200] further a 
second of the same magnitude. We observed very little 
game. Yesterday, Mr. Lee pointed out to me the burrow 
of a badger, about the size of those made by the prairie 
wolf. Still proceeding, a little to the north of west, about 
10 miles further, we came to a considerable rivulet of clear 
and still water, deep enough to swim our horses. We 
kept for about two miles through the entangled thickets, 
by which it was bordered, in search of a ford. Both 
above and below it was bordered by wooded hills, which 
appeared almost to shut up our course, and terminate the 
prairies. This stream was called the Little North Fork^"^ 
(or branch) of the Canadian, and emptied into the main 
North Fork of the same river, nearly 200 miles distant, 
including its meanders, which have been ascended by the 
trappers of beaver. Having encamped, without crossing 
the rivulet, towards evening, I was about to bathe, but was 
sufficiently deterred by the discovery of a poisonous water 
snake, lurking a few yards from the spot I had chosen. 
No change yet appears in the vegetation; and the super- 
incumbent rock continues arenaceous. No mountains or 
picturesque prospects present themselves to amuse the 
eye. Occasionally, indeed the monotonous plain is 
diversified by the view of low and broken ridges, often 
presenting isolated hills, deserted by the more friable 
materials with which they were once surrounded, and 
now presenting the fantastic appearance of artificial 
tumuli, and piles of ruins. In the course of the day we 
passed three or four of these hillocks, of considerable 
elevation. About six miles from our encampment, to the 

*•** Now known as Deep Fork. — Ed. 

2 66 Early Western Travels [Vol. 13 

right, there are two of them nearly together, and two also 
which are separated from each other, nearly opposite to 
the others on the left. The Indians remark them in the 
regulation of their routes, and, on some of them, they have 
made elevated interments. This fondness for burying in 
high places has not subsided among the aborigines, and, 
[201] probably, gave rise to the erection of artificial hills 
over the remains of the dead. Blackbird, the chief of the 
Mahas, was interred, at his particular request, on the 
summit of a hill which overlooked the village; and both 
the Mahas and the Arikarsees made choice of the summit 
of a neighbouring ridge for their general place of sepul- 

The day was very warm, though occasionally relieved 
by a breeze from the south-west ; and the dazzling light of 
the prairies proved oppressive and injurious to the eyes. 
We passed a place where the Indians appeared to have 
been killing numbers of deer, though not recently. 

14th.] We remained to-day on the banks of the Little 
North Fork, to recruit our horses, that of my companion 
being from the first totally unfit to travel from a large 
wound upon its back. I now experienced a relapse of the 
remittent fever, attended with delirium. Being about 3 
o'clock in the afternoon when it came on, I was exposed 
to a temperature of between 90 and 100°. It was with 
difi&culty that I could crawl into the shade, the thin forest 
being every where pervious to the sun, so that I felt ready 
to burn with heat; by forcibly inciting a vomit, I felt re- 
lieved. Mr. Lee, profiting by our delay, began to trap 
for beaver, and the last night caught four of these animals. 
Scarcely any thing is now employed for bait but the musk 
or castoreum of the animal itself. As they live in com- 
munity, they are jealous and hostile to strangers of their 

1818-1820] Nuttair s 'Journal 267 

own species, and following the scent of the bait, are de- 
ceived into the trap. 

15th.] At night I again experienced an attack of the 
fever, without any preceding chill, and attended with 
diarrhoea. It continued 36 hours, the paroxysm being 
only divided for a short space by an intermediate chUl. 
The heat of the weather continued excessive; and the 
green blow-flies, attracted by the meat brought to our 
camp, exceeded every thing that can [202] be conceived. 
They filled even our clothes with maggots, and penetrated 
into the wounds of our horses, so as to render them almost 

1 6th.] Still at the same encampment, and still afflicted 
with the fever. 

17th.] This morning, at the suggestion of my com- 
panion, for the purpose of trapping, we went about five 
miles lower down the rivulet. In proceeding this short 
distance, I fainted with the effort, and was near falling 
off my horse. All the remainder of the day and the suc- 
ceeding night, I experienced the fever under the exposure 
of a burning sun and sultry air. Shade was not to be ob- 
tained, and the night brought with it no alleviation but 

In the evening Mr. Lee suggested the propriety of our 
returning to the Verdigris, before I became so weak as to 
render it impossible; but the idea of returning filled me 
with deep regret, and I felt strongly opposed to it whatever 
might be the consequences. 

i8th.] To return, was again urged to me in plainer 
terms than before. I therefore complied, on the condi- 
tion of trying the event of one or two days longer, and that 
then, if no better, I would return. I remarked to him, 
however, that these small distances from one trapping 

268 Early Western Travels [Vol. 13 

place to another, would, at this hot season, be far less 
difficult for me to accomplish, than to enter back again 
upon the prairies. 

19th.] We proceeded to another place of encampment, 
through ponds and dry gullies, crossing the prairies from 
point to point, for about 10 miles, instead of a supposed 
five or six, until it became dark, when, not finding the 
place where Mr. Lee had deposited his baggage, we 
stopped in a very eligible situation, compared with the 
rest of the wilderness through which we had been toiling. 
The preceding night we had experienced a slight rain, and 
had reason to suspect it again, but we lay down unpre- 
pared; and about midnight were caught in a thunder 
storm [203] of great violence, and continued till daylight 
under pelting torrents of rain. 

20th.] Mr. Lee now said nothing more about returning, 
as his horse was become incapable of carrying either him- 
self or his baggage. We had no method left of proceeding, 
at present, but by making double journeys, and employing 
my horse to convey the whole. The flies still continued 
to annoy us, filling our blankets, linen, and almost every 
thing about us with maggots. To compensate, however, 
in some measure, for these disgusting and familiar visitors, 
we had the advantage of the bee, and obtained abundance 
of excellent honey, on which, mixed up with water, I now 
almost entirely subsisted, as we had no other food but 
venison, and were without either bread or vegetables. 

2 1 St.] We again proceeded five or six miles further over 
stoney hUls, with great fatigue, and again encamped on a 
branch of the Little North Fork. Lee was now in a great 
dilemma about our falling into the way of the Indians; he 
observed to-day (2 2d) their general encampment quite 

1818-1820] Nuttair s ^Journal 269 

The fever had now rendered me too weak to bear any 
exercise; and it was become impossible to find any thing 
which would suit my feeble appetite. In the commencing 
coolness of the weather, I had, however, a reasonable hope 
of recovery. 

23d.] We continued about three miles further up the 
banks of the rivulet, and again encamped amidst gloomy 

24th.] To-day, Mr. Lee having contrived to place a great 
part of his baggage upon his own horse, we proceeded 
about 10 miles, alternately along the borders of the rivulet 
and over the bases of the adjacent hills, which we had now 
the satisfaction to find more open and less rocky. We 
passed by three or four enormous ponds grown up with 
aquatics, among which were thousands of acres of the 
great pond lily [204] {Cyamus luteus), amidst which grew 
also the Thalia dealbata, now in flower, and, for the first 
time, I saw the Zizania miliacea of Michaux. At length 
we gained sight of the prairies, which were doubly inter- 
esting after being so disagreeably immured amidst thickets 
and ponds. In our way we struck across the desiccated 
corner of the pond; here the Ambrosias or bitter weeds 
were higher than my head on horseback, and we were a 
considerable time in extricating ourselves from them. 
Clearing the thicket, we ascended a hill of the prairie, and 
continued across it to the first creek, where we encamped. 

26th.] While Mr. Lee was absent this morning examin- 
ing the beaver traps, which he had set, to my surprise I 
observed, on the opposite side of the creek, an Indian 
busily examining our horses; after viewing them a few- 
minutes, he chased them down the creek in a gallop 
towards our encampment, and after looking at me also with 
caution, instantly disappeared without paying me a visit. 

270 Early Western Travels [Vol. 13 

I need not say, how unwelcome this intelligence was to my 
cautious companion, who had not now to learn the rapacity 
of the savage hunters, having nearly lost his life, and all his 
property, last autumn, by falling in with the Cherokees 
near the banks of the Canadian. We delayed not a 
moment to leave our encampment, expecting nothing more 
certain than an unfriendly visit or clandestine theft. My 
own situation was indeed extremely critical, as I could not 
possibly walk, and even required assistance to get on and 
off my horse : thus to have had it stolen would have been 
to leave me to perish without hope. As we passed along, 
something which I imagined to be an Indian, dodged near 
us twice, from amidst the high grass, like some unfriendly 
animal of the forest, and slunk from our observance. 
This evening I felt extremely unhappy, and became quite 
delirious; when reclined, it was with difficulty that I 
could rise; a kind of lethargy, almost the prelude of death, 
now [205] interposed, affording an ominous relief from 
anxiety and pain. 

27th.] Three days were now elapsed since I had been 
able to taste any kind of food, and to add to the miseries 
of sickness, delirium, and despondence, we experienced 
as many days of unremitting gloom, in which the sun was 
not visible even for an hour. 

30th.] Being a little recovered, we now ventured out 
some distance into the prairie hills; but, after travelling a 
few miles without much pain, my mind became so unac- 
countably affected with horror and distraction, that, for a 
time, it was impossible to proceed to any convenient place 
of encampment. This evening my companion killed two 
bison, the first we had seen on the route, but neither of 
them were fat, or any thing like tolerable food. I here 
spent a night of great misery and delirium, and felt 

i8i8-i82o] Nuttair s "Journal 271 

exceedingly cold from the sudden decrease of the tem- 

31st.] We moved onwards a few miles, but encamped 
at an early hour. 

September ist.] We proceeded about 10 miles over 
wooded hills, with the expectation of soon arriving at the 
Salt river, which we imagined to lie before us, either to 
the west or south-west, but were entirely deceived, and 
my companion now appeared to be ignorant of the country. 
We saw nothing far and wide but an endless scrubby forest 
of dwarfish oaks, chiefly the post, black, and red species. 

2d.] We now travelled about 15 miles nearly north, in 
the hope of arriving, at any rate, on the Arkansa, and 
passed through oak thickets, like those of Red river, for 
most part of the day. The land was poor and hilly, but 
abounded with clear and cool springs, issuing through 
rocks of a fine grained sandstone. We found the small 
chinquapin oak by acres, running along the ground as in 
New Jersey. The Portulaca resembling P. villosa, which 
I had seen below in a solitary locality, Mr. Lee picked up 
for me to-day, growing [206] in arid rocky places, where 
the soil had been nearly washed away. The general as- 
pect of the vegetable kingdom still, however, continued 
nearly the same. 

3d.] We continued on about 26 miles through the same 
kind of deeply undulated country, abounding with clear 
grit springs, but the land poor, and covered with scrubby 
oak, except occasional prairie openings and narrow valleys. 
At length we arrived on the banks of a small clear brook 
dammed up by the beaver, where we obtained a ford. 
Towards evening, greatly fatigued, and with our course 
directed more towards the west, we observed clouds of 
sand to arise at a distance, which we were satisfied must 

272 Early TVe stern Travels [Vol. 13 

originate from the beach of some neighbouring river, and, 
in about an hour after, we came upon the rocky bank of 
the First Red Fork or Salt river, which, though very low, 
was still red and muddy, bordered with an extensive beach 
similar to the Arkansa, and not greatly differing from it 
apparently in point of magnitude. Along the argillaceous 
banks I observed saline incrustations, and, on tasting the 
water, I found it to be nauseous and impotably saline.^ '''^ 
Our horses, however, naturally fond of salt, drank of it 
with the utmost greediness. Though gratified by the 
sight of this curious stream, which we had so tediously 
sought, I now lamented the loss of the fine spring water 
lately afforded us by the barren hills. This extensive 
stream constitutes the hunting boundary of the Pawnees 
and Hietans. Its first view appeared beautifully con- 
trasted with the broken and sterile country through which 
we had been travelling. The banks of cotton-wood 
(Populus monilijera), bordered by the even beach, re- 
sembled a verdant garden in panorama view. A few 
days journey to the west, Mr. Lee informs me, that there 
are extensive tracts of moving sand hills, accompanied by 
a degree of sterility little short of the African deserts. 

[207] 4th.] We continued a few miles up the banks of 
this saline stream, crossing it from point to point. But 
the following day (5th) we concluded on leaving it, study- 
ing our safety from the Osages, whose traces became now 
more and more evident. We pursued our course along 
the sand beaches of the river, now oppressively hot, and 
about noon turned out into a shade. Here, unfortunately, 
while Mr. Lee was busied about his beaver traps, his horse 

^°® Lieutenant Wilkinson reported (1807) that the Cimarron, which he called 
the Grand Saline, was potable at all seasons, its name being derived from the 
salt upon the banks. See Coues, Expeditions of Z. M. Pike, p. 556. — Ed. 

i8i8-i82o] Nuttair s 'Journal 273 

got into a mirey gully, and could not be extricated. In 
this dilemma, no resource for proceeding remained for my 
companion, but to construct a canoe, and so descend by 
water. From the general diminution and deterioration 
of the forest, it was not even an easy matter to find a tree 
of sufficient size for this purpose. The largest timber 
was the cotton- wood {Populus angulata). After an un- 
expected and irksome privation, I was now again gratified 
by the taste of fresh water, which we found in a small 
stagnant rivulet contiguous to our encampment. 

On the 8th, my companion launched his canoe, which 
so exactly answered his purpose that it would have sunk 
with any additional loading. Although I had now so far 
recovered as to possess a little appetite, we were, for 
several days, destitute of any kind of food, except the tails 
of the beaver, the flesh of this animal being now too lean 
and musky to be eaten. The game appeared to be driven 
out of the country by the approach of the Indians. I still 
continued my route along the beaches of the river, which 
proved almost insupportably hot, and I severely felt the 
want of fresh water, though it now, from necessity, be- 
came possible for me to swallow this tepid brine, which 
always proved cathartic. As we proceeded, the river 
appeared continually bordered by sandstone hills, like 
the Arkansa. Amongst several other new plants, I found 
a very curious Gaura, an undescribed species of Donia, 
of Eriogonum, of Achyranthes, Arundo, [208] and Gentian. 
On the sandy beaches grew several plants, such as the 
Uralepsis aristulata (Festuca procumhens, Muhlenberg), an 
Uniola scarcely distinct from U. spicata and Sesuvium 
sessile, which I had never heretofore met with, except on 
the sands of the sea coast. 

9th.] About noon we arrived at the entrance of the 

274 Early Western Travels [Vol. 13 

Arkansa, and were once more gratified with the taste of 
fresh water. Here the stream, now at its lowest depres- 
sion, was almost colourless, and scarcely any where ex- 
ceeding the depth of three feet. We travelled down it 9 
or 10 miles, and saw the ascending smoke of the general 
encampments of the Osages, whom, if possible, we wished 
to avoid. By the multitude of traces upon the sand, it 
was easy to perceive that the whole village and its accom- 
paniments were in motion. 

loth.] We still saw the smoke of the Osage fires in all 
directions, and hourly expected a discovery. As I passed 
along contiguous to the river, now alone, one of the Indians 
saw me in the wood, but did not venture to come up, 
dodged out of sight, and then ran along with haste towards 
his encampment. This wolfish behaviour, it may be cer- 
tain, was not calculated to give me any very favourable 
anticipation of our reception. I could not help indeed 
reflecting on the inhospitality of this pathless desert, 
which wUl one day perhaps give way to the blessings of 
civilization. The scenery was not without beauty; 
wooded hills of gentle slope every where bordered the 
river; and its islands and alluvions, still of considerable 
extent, are no way inferior to the lands of the Ohio. 

nth,] To-day, with all our caution, it became im- 
possible to avoid the discovery of the Indians, as two or 
three families were encamped along the borders of the 
river. They ran up to us with a confidence which was by 
no means reciprocal. One of the men was a blind chief, 
not unknown to Mr. Lee, [209] who gave him some to- 
bacco, with which he appeared to be satisfied. About the 
encampment there were a host of squaws, who were 
extremely impertinent. An old woman, resembling one 
of the imaginary witches Macbeth, told me, with an air of 

1818-1820] Nuttair s 'Journal 275 

insolence, that I must give her my horse for her daughter 
to ride on ; I could walk ; — that the Osages were numerous, 
and could soon take it from me. At last, the blind chief 
invited us to his camp to eat, but had nothing to offer us 
but boiled maize, sweetened with the marmalade of pump- 
kins. When we were about to depart, they all ran to the 
boat, to the number of 10 or 12, showing symptoms of 
mischief, and could not be driven away. They held on 
to the canoe, and endeavoured to drag it aground. Mr. 
Lee tried in vain to get rid of them, although armed with 
a rifle. At length, they got to pilfering our baggage; even 
the blind chief, who had showed us a commendatory cer- 
tificate which he had obtained at St. Louis, also turned 
thief on the occasion. We had not got out of the sight of 
these depredators, before another fellow came after us on 
the run, in order to claim my horse, insisting that it was 
his, and I could no way satisfy his unfounded demand, 
but by giving him one of my blankets. 

Mr. Lee, as he descended, now observed two men on 
the shore, who hid themselves at his approach, and began 
to follow him as secretly as possible. They continued 
after us all the remainder of the day, till dark. We knew 
not whether they intended to kill or to rob us; and, en- 
deavouring to elude their pursuit, we kept on in the night, 
amidst the horrors of a thunder storm, the most gloomy 
and disagreeable situation I ever experienced in my life. 
In consequence also of the quicksands and the darkness, 
it was with the utmost difhculty that I could urge my 
horse to take the river, which it was necessary repeatedly 
to cross. In one of these attempts, both myself and it 
were on the point of being buried before we [210] could 
extricate ourselves. Dressed in leather, I came out of the 
water drenched and shivering, almost ready to perish with 

276 Early Western Travels [Vol. 13 

cold. After some persuasion, I prevailed upon Lee to 
kindle me a handful of fire, by which I lay alone for two 
or three hours, amidst the dreary howling of wolves, Mr. 
Lee not wishing to trust himself near such a beacon. 
Nothing, however, further molested us, and, after cooking 
and eating a portion of a fat buck elk, which my compan- 
ion had contrived to kill in the midst of our flight, we con- 
tinued our journey by the light of the moon. After pro- 
ceeding about 20 miles farther down the Arkansa, unable 
to keep up with Lee and his boat, at noon we agreed to 
part. I took with me some small pieces of the boiled elk, 
with a portion also uncooked, and furnished myself, as I 
thought, with the means of obtaining fire, but, when eve- 
ning arrived, I was greatly mortified to find all my attempts 
to obtain this necessary element abortive. My gun was 
also become useless, all the powder having got wet by last 
night's adventure. 

14th.] Fatigued with the sand-beaches, as hot and 
cheerless as the African deserts, I left the banks of the 
river; and, after travelling with extreme labour through 
horrible thickets for three miles, in which the Ambrosias 
were far higher than my head on horseback, I, at length, 
arrived amongst woody hills, and a few miles further 
came out, to my great satisfaction, into the open prairies, 
from whence, in an elevated situation, I immediately rec- 
ognised the Verdigris river. At night, though late, I 
arrived on its wide alluvial lands, lined with such an im- 
penetrable thicket, that I did not attain the bank, and had 
to lie down alone, in the rank weeds, amidst musquetoes, 
without fire, food, or water, as the meat with which I 
had been provided was raw, and spoiled by the worms. 

[211] 15th.] With all the advantage of day-light, it was 
still difiicult to penetrate through the thicket, and ford 

i8i8-i82o] NuttaWs "Journal 277 

the river. Towards evening, I again arrived at the trad- 
ing establishment of Mr. Bougie, an asylum, which prob- 
ably, at this time, rescued me from death. My feet and 
legs were so swelled, in consequence of weakness and 
exposure to extreme heat and cold, that it was necessary 
to cut off my pantaloons, and at night both my hands and 
feet were affected by the most violent cramp. 

I remained about a week with Mr. Bougie, in a very 
feeble state, again visited by fever, and a kind of horrific 
delirium, which perpetually dwelt upon the scene of past 
sufferings. I now took the opportunity of descending to 
the garrison with an engagee, but continued in a state of 
great debUity, my hands and feet stUl violently and fre- 
quently affected with spasms. 

In about five days slow descending, from the feebleness 
of my invalid companion, we arrived at the garrison. 

The Indian councils now pending betwixt the Osages 
and Cherokees filled the fort with a disagreeable bustle.^*" 
The Osages, according to the stipulation of the treaty 
signed at St. Louis, were assembled to receive their pris- 
oners from the hands of the Cherokees. The captives, 
chiefly female, were, however, kept back, and they wished 
to retain them on the score of adoption. Talai and Clar- 
mont insisted on their compliance with the treaty; and the 
government agents now ordered the Cherokees to produce 
the prisoners in 10 days. The nth day, however, arrived 
without any appearance of the Cherokees, excepting five 
of their hunters. The chiefs of the Osages were exceed- 
ingly mortified. Captain Prior told them to demand of 
the commander the liberty of seizing upon the five Chero- 
kees in the fort as hostages. To this the chief, called the 
Mad Buffalo, objected, saying, ' 'if we take these Chero- 

^"' See ante, note 155. — Ed. 

278 Early Western Travels [Vol. 13 

kee prisoners [212] to our village, the warriors, and those 
who expected the return of their own people, would say, 
who are these strangers and enemies ? we wanted our own 
captives, not Cherokees, and so they would instantly kill 

In the evening the Osage chiefs left the fort, and pro- 
ceeded towards their village ; but next morning the Cher- 
okees began to assemble, and the Osages were sent for 
to receive their prisoners, now arrived. Talai and Clar- 
mont sent the lesser chiefs, and remained behind, but the 
Cherokees insisted on the presence of the whole, and after 
a second message they came as desired. 

Tikitok,^" one of the principal Cherokees, a very 
old and venerable looking man, presided on the occa- 
sion, and every appearance of friendship and satisfaction, 
accompanied by the usual smoking, prevailed on 
either side. The prisoners, after some little talk, were 
now produced, and given up according to the treaty. 
There was, however, a chief sitting next to Tikitok, who 
undertook to propose, that the prisoners should be per- 
mitted to use their own will, and go to either party as 
they should chuse, but this unfair and equivocating pro- 
posal was not made known to the Osages, some private 
conversation with the Cherokees putting a stop to it. It 
appeared that, in the interval of captivity, one of the young 
women had contracted marriage with a Cherokee of her 
own age. Their parting was a scene of sorrow; the Cher- 
okee promised to go to the village, and ask her of her 
father, she also plead with the chiefs to stay, but Clar- 
mont, unmoved by her tears and entreaties, answered, 

^•^ Tikitok (or Tikatok) was one of the chiefs whose leadership dated from 
the death of Tallantusky (see ante, note 148). His village was situated on the 
lower of the streams called Illinois. — Ed. 

i8i8-i82o] Nuttair 5 'Journal 279 

''your father and mother lament you; it is your duty to 
go and see them. If the Cherokee loves you, he will not 
forget to come for you." In this way terminated the 
treaty of peace between the Osages and Cherokees, in 
September, 1819.^°^ 


Proceed from the garrison to the Pecannerie settlement — 
Hot-springs of the Washita — Phenomena of the sea- 

In consequence of sickness, and an extreme debility, 
which deprived me of the pleasure of my usual excursions, 
I remained at the garrison until the i6th of October. A 
nervous fever had now for ever separated me from the 
agreeable company of Dr. Russel, and amongst my asso- 
ciates in affliction were numbered two missionaries, who 
had intended to proceed to the Osages. One of them, 
(Mr. Viner), after the attacks of a lingering fever, paid 
the debt of nature. 

From July to October, the ague and bilious fever spread 
throughout the territory in a very unusual manner. Con- 
nected apparently with these diseases, was one of an ex- 
traordinary character. It commenced by slight chills, 
and was succeeded by a fever, attended with unremitting 
vomitings, accompanied with blood, and bloody foeces. 
Ejecting all medicine, it became next to impossible to 

'"' Since this period, as might readily be foreseen, hostiHties have again com- 
menced between these restless and warlike tribes, who can perhaps never be 
prevailed upon to hve in friendship, as they will be perpetually transgressing 
each other's hunting bounds. At a very recent date (1821), 400 Osage warriors 
appeared before the garrison of Belle Point, on their way against the Cherokees, 
accompanied by a party of the Sauks and Fox Indians, and killed four Qua- 
paws hunting in the neighbourhood. Such is the effect of the imprudent and 
visionary poUcy of crowding the natives together, in the hopes of keeping them 
at peace. — Nuttall. 

280 Early Western Travels [Vol. 13 

administer internal relief. The paroxysms, attended with 
excruciating pain, took place every other day, similar to 
the common intermittent. One of the soldiers who de- 
scended with us, was afflicted in this way for the space of 
six days, after which he recovered. On the intermitting 
days he appeared perfectly easy, and possessed a strong 
and craving appetite. I was credibly informed [214] that 
not less than 100 of the Cherokees, settled contiguous to 
the banks of the Arkansa, died this season of the bilious 

On the 3d of November, I at length got down in a pe- 
rogue of the garrison as far as Major Wilborne's in the 
Pecannerie settlement. Here, though the bilious fever 
and ague had been unusually prevalent, no instance of 
mortality had taken place. 

In this settlement there was a succession of heavy rains 
down to the month of September. Above, we had expe- 
rienced no rain beyond the month of June. Perhaps the 
unusual prevalence of rain, on the banks of the Arkansa, 
might have been conducive to the extraordinary sickness 
of this season. As a proof of the locality of this rain, the 
river was now so exceedingly low, that no boats drawing 
more than 10 or 12 inches of water could possibly navigate 
it from the Dardanelles to the Verdigris. All along the 
banks, the clay and pebbles of the beaches were whitened 
with an efflorescence of salt (muriate of soda), deposited 
from the water of the red freshes. We also remarked that 
all the sandstone rocks, scattered confusedly on the borders 
of the river, blacken by exposure, and assume a metallic 
tinge, probably arising from an admixture of manganese. 

The Pecannerie, now the most considerable settlement 
in the territory, except Arkansas, derived its name from 
the Pecan nut-trees {Carya oHvcBformis) , with which its 

i8i8-i82o] NuttalPs yournal 281 

forests abound; in a few years it will probably form a 
county, containing at this time about 60 families, all, in 
regard to circumstances, living in a state of ignorance and 
mediocrity of fortune: many of them indeed were rene- 
gadoes from justice who had fled from honest society, to 
seek refuge in these fertile alluvial forests, where, indul- 
ging themselves in indolence, they become the pest of their 
more industrious and honest neighbours, and are encour- 
aged in their dishonest practices by the laxity of the laws, 
and [215] the imperfect manner in which they are adminis- 
tered. Thus the settlement was now oppressed by gangs 
of horse thieves, who carried their depredations even 
among the neighbouring savages. 

The soil throughout this settlement, after three or four 
years working, is found to be extremely favourable for 
the growth of cotton, as appeared by the crops of the pres- 
ent year, but the price was fallen to 3 dollars per cwt. in 
the seed, with little or no demand, so that the settlers, 
for want of a market, were really indigent, and most of 
them lived in a very poor and uncomfortable manner. 
The alluvial lands, here about two mUes wide, are flanked 
by a range of wooded hills, and a somewhat broken country 
of considerable fertility. 

A number of families were now about to settle, or rather 
take provisionary possession of the land purchased from 
the O sages, situated along the banks of the Arkansa, 
from Frog bayou to the falls of the Verdigris; a tract in 
which is embraced a great body of superior alluvial land. 
But, to their disappointment, an order recently arrived, 
instructing the agent of Indian affairs to put the Cherokees 
in possession of the Osage purchase, and to remove them 
from the south side of the river. It appeared, from what 
I could learn, that the Osages, purposely deceived by the 

282 Early Western Travels [Vol. 13 

interpreter, at the instigation of the Shoutous, had hatched 
up a treaty without the actual authority of the chiefs, so 
that in the present state of things a war betwixt the Cher- 
okees and the Osages is almost inevitable, unless the latter 
relinquish the banks of the Arkansa, as Messrs. Shoutou 
wish them. The Osages in a recent council said, they 
would have no objection to dispose of their lands, provided 
the whites only were allowed to settle upon them.^"® 

I understand that the hot springs of the Washita are 
situated about a mile from that river, contiguous to the 
[216] bank of a brook. At the springs, a ridge of between 
five and six hundred feet, from whence smoke had been 
seen to issue, appears, by the massive rocks that fill this 
stream, to have been broken through, or undermined by 
its torrents. Many thermal springs, besides those em- 
ployed by visitors, are seen boiling out of the side of the 
hill, and mingling with the cool water of the brook. The 
principal fountain, issuing from amidst huge masses of 
black rocks, apparently bituminous and calcareous slate 
in thick laminae, has a stream of near a foot in diameter 
at its orifice, and hot enough to boil eggs or fish; a steam 
arises from it as from water in a state of ebullition, at- 
tended with a considerable discharge of bubbles. It is 
only after mixing with the cool water of the brook, at 
some distance from this spring, that it becomes of a tem- 
perature in which it is possible to bathe. There is, how- 
ever, a kind of rude inclosure made around the spring, 
as a steam bath, which often probably debilitates, and 

^*" The Osage purchase referred to was made at St. Louis, September 25, 
1818. Frog Bayou is a few miles below Fort Smith. The tract lay on the north 
side of the Arkansas, and was sixty miles wide at the eastern Hne. By the 
word "Shoutous," Nuttall means to designate the Chouteaus, French fur- 
traders at St. Louis. — Ed. 

1818-1820] Nuttair s 'Journal 283 

injures the health of ignorant and emaciated patients. 
Major Long,"" who visited these springs in the month of 
January, found their temperature to vary from 86° to 
150° of Fahrenheit. Hunter and Dunbar ^^* ascertained 
the temperature of five different springs, to be at 
150°, 154°, 140°, 136°, and 132°. The water, as near 
Onondago, in the state of New York, at the tepid baths 
of Natlock in Derbyshire, and in many parts of Italy, 
charged with an excess of carbonic acid, holding lime in 
solution, deposits a calcareous tufa, which incrusts leaves, 
moss, or any other substance which it meets in its course, 
to the great surprise of the ignorant, who commonly pro- 
nounce them petrifactions. Indeed, the exploring party 
of the Washita assert, that a mass of calcareous rock ,100 
feet perpendicular, had been produced by this aqueous 
deposition. Eruptions of argillaceous mud in small quan- 
tities have also been observed, which in time become con- 
siderably indurated. 

[217] Among the more remarkable features of the 
autumnal season in this country, is the aspect of the atmos- 
phere, which in all directions appears so filled with smoke, 
as often to render an object obscure at the distance of 100 
yards. The south-west winds at this season are often re- 

^" For sketch of Major Stephen H. Long, see preface to volume xiv of our 
series. — Ed. 

"* In the autumn of 1804 President Jefferson sent a party under Sir William 
Dunbar (see Cuming's Tour, in our volume iv, note 209), to explore the Ouach- 
ita. Dunbar, a Scotchman (i 740-1810) who had come to the United States 
before the Revolutionary War, had after various business ventures at Phila- 
delphia, Pittsburg, and Baton Rouge, settled near Natchez on a plantation. 
He was a scientist of considerable note; the Transactions of the American 
Philosophical Society at Philadelphia, of which he was a member, contain various 
contributions from his pen. 

Dr. Hunter was Dunbar's assistant on the Ouachita journey. Their "Ob- 
servations" were transmitted to Congress with Jefferson's message of February 
19, 1806. — Ed. 

284 Early Western Travels [Vol. 13 

markably hazy, but here the effect is greatly augmented by 
the burning of the surrounding prairies, annually practised 
by the savages and whites, for the benefit of the hunt, as 
the ground is thus cleared of a heavy crop of withered 
grass, prepared for an early vegetation in the succeeding 
spring, and also assisted in its growth by the stimulating 
effects of the alkaline ashes. Indeed, ever since the be- 
ginning of September, the prairies had appeared yellow 
and withered, with a prevailing mass of dying vegetation. 
The autumnal Asters and Solidagos, are but a faint gleam 
of the mid-summer splendour of these flowery meadows. 
Throughout this territory, there are no grasses nor other 
vegetables of consequence in agriculture (except the cane), 
which retain their verdure beyond the close of Septem- 
ber. 'Tis true, that in the sheltered alluvions, verdure 
may be protracted, and it is here that the cattle, left to 
nature, now seek their food, and, as the winter advances, 
finally repair to the sempervirent cane brake. That 
delightful and refreshing verdure one naturally expects 
to see in a garden, regales not the eye of the Arkansa 
farmer beyond the vegetating period assigned by nature. 
From the month of September to February (except in the 
lowest and richest alluvions), every enclosure, in common 
with the prairies, appears a dreary waste of withered herb- 
age, with the exception of the biennial turnip, the radish, 
and the cabbage, which still retain their freshness. The 
month of February, however, scarcely closes before vege- 
tation again commences, and the natural meadows, thick- 
ets, and alluvions, in March, are already enamelled with 
the flowers of May. 

[218] The aridity of the autumnal atmosphere, which 
becomes more and more sensible as we advance towards 
the west, or recede from the ocean, may be perceived to 

i8i8-i82o] Nuttair s 'Journal 285 

modify many of the natural productions of the country, 
and deserves to be studied by those who reside on the 
spot. Amongst the Cucurbitace^, every species of melon, 
which attain such enormous bulk and perfection east of 
the Mississippi, are here often of diminutive size, not- 
withstanding the heat of the climate; and by the increas- 
ing dryness of the air, the plants, full of young fruit, 
wither and prematurely die. The diminution of the 
forest, and at length its total disappearance, is also, in 
all probability, attributable to the same source of infertility. 
The natural phenomena of the seasons appear no less 
corroborative of a distinction of climate betwixt the eastern 
and western territories. From the Pecannerie settlement 
eastward, heavy rains were experienced for most part of 
the summer down to the beginning of September; while 
from the garrison upwards, scarcely any rain except the 
slightest flying showers had fallen since the month of June. 
It might, indeed, be reasonably conjectured, that the 
further any country was removed from the ocean, the great 
reservoir of rains, and the more it was elevated above that 
level, the more it would have to depend upon the winter 
or rainy season for irrigation ; and that, in such a country, 
rain can hardly be expected in the summer, especially if 
the temperature be elevated. Facts bear out these con- 
jectures, for the higher we ascend toward the great plat- 
form of the Andes, the more arid becomes the climate; 
and at length, approaching the mountains, nothing is to 
be seen but a barren and desert region, tantalized with 
numerous streams, which flow only in the winter, and then 
with such force and velocity, as to tear up frightful ravines, 
and, sweeping away thousands of acres of friable materials, 
which to a considerable depth constitute the more ancient 
[219] incumbent soil, leave behind, upon the denuded 

286 Early Western Travels [Vol. 13 

plains, colossal masses insulated in the most fantastic 
forms, so as to appear like piles of artificial ruins. Such 
is the appearance of the saline plains of the Arkansa, 
and many extensive tracts towards the sources of the Mis- 
souri, from Fort Mandan westward to the basis of the 
Northern Andes. 


Cadron settlement — Arrive at Arkansas — Continue to 
the Mississippi — The wandering fanatics — Pirates — 
Natchez — stratification of its site, and remarks on its 
agricultural productions — The Choctaws — Fort 
Adams — Point Coupe — Baton Rouge — Opulent 
Planters — New Orleans. 

On the evening of the i8th of December, I again arrived 
at the Cadron, ^^^ where four families now resided. A con- 
siderable concourse of travellers and some emigrants begin 
to make their appearance at this imaginary town. The 
only tavern, very ill provided, was consequently crowded 
with all sorts of company. It contained only two tenant- 
able rooms, built of logs, with hundreds of crevices still 
left open, notwithstanding the severity of the season. 

Every reasonable and rational amusement appeared 
here to be swallowed up in dram-drinking, jockeying, 
and gambling; even our landlord, in defiance of the law, 
was often the ring-leader of what it was his duty to sup- 
press. Although I have been through life perfectly 
steeled against games of hazard, neither wishing to rob 
nor be robbed, I felt somewhat mortified [220] to be thus 
left alone, because of my unconquerable aversion to enter 
this vortex of swindling and idleness. 

^" Or Quadrant, a name applied to the neighbouring creek by the French 
hunters, probably in commemoration of some observation made there by that 
instnunent, to ascertain the latitude. — Nuttall. 

i8i8-i82o] Nuttair s 'Journal 287 

From the i8th to the 27th we had frosty nights; and on 
the 28th a fall of snow that continued throughout the day, 
and which still {January 3d) remained on all northern 
exposures; considerable sheets of ice, near three quarters 
of an inch in thickness, now began to invade the still water 
of the river, but were generally broken up by evening. 

In one of the beds of grauwacke slate, which form the 
picturesque cliffs of the Cadron, I observed articulations 
of a species of orthoceratite, apparently belonging to the 
genus Raphanister of Montfort. Above this bed, and 
forming the summit of the hills, occurs a massive laminated 
sandstone of a grey colour and inconsiderable dip. 

On the 4th of January, 1820, after waiting about a 
month for an opportunity of descending, I now embraced 
the favourable advantage of proceeding in the boat of Mr. 
Barber, a merchant of New Orleans, to whose friendship 
and civility I am indebted for many favours. 

5th.] This morning we again passed the outlet of the 
river called La Feve's Fork, coming in on our right. It 
sources with the Pottoe, the Kiamesha, Little river of Red 
river, and with the Petit John forms an irregular and acute 
triangle, affording a large body of good land, and, as well 
as the latter, is said to be navigable near 200 miles, includ- 
ing its meanders. Its entrance is marked by a concomi- 
tant chain of hills and cliffs, which border the Arkansa, 
and proceed in a north-westerly direction. For about a 
mile and a half, these hiEs, of grauwacke slate, present 
the appearance of an even wall coming up to the margin 
of the river, and owe this singular aspect to their almost 
vertical stratification. Their summits are tufted with 
pine, and the opposite alluvial point, which was sandy, 
[221] and to appearance scarcely elevated above inunda- 
tion, possessed also a forest of similar trees. 

288 Early Western Travels [Vol. 13 

This evening we again arrived at Piat's, and in view of 
the pyramidal Mamelle ; its extraordinary appearance, ele- 
vation, and isolation arises from the almost vertical dispo- 
sition of its strata, which are probably of the same nature 
as those we passed to-day near the Petit John. Not far 
above inundation, on the same side of the river, three 
miles above Piat's, these vertical rocks form a very curious 
and crested parapet. 

6th.] This evening we arrived at Mr. Daniel's, an indus- 
trious farmer, and provided with a rough-looking, but 
comfortable winter cabin. About two miles from hence, 
Mr. D., who lives upon a confirmed Spanish right, had 
erected a grist mill. Saw-mills were also about to be 
built at the Cadron, and two or three other places. The 
establishment of a town was now contemplated also at 
the Little Rock, by colonel Hogan, and some others. 
They had not, however, sufficient capital, and no doubt 
expected to derive some adventitious wealth from those 
speculators who were viewing various parts of the newly- 
formed territory. 

7th.] We again arrived at the lower end of the Eagle's- 
nest bend, from whence commenced the uninhabited 
tract of 60 or 70 miles. 

8th.] To-day we passed seven bends, making about 28 
miles. The water at this, its lowest stage, appears to be 
perfectly navigable for the larger boats from the Little 
Rock to the Mississippi. By the cane which occurs in all 
the bends, and indeed by the apparent elevation, there 
are here great bodies of good land, free from inundation. 
The soil in some of the banks consists of an uncommonly 
rich dark Spanish brown loam. 

9th.] This forenoon we passed the fourth Pine Bluff, at 
the base of which we observed abundance of earthy iron 

1818-1820] Nuttair s "Journal 289 

ore, in flattened, contorted, and cellular [222] masses, 
scattered about in profusion; much of it appeared to be 
pyrites, other masses more or less argillaceous and sili- 
ceous. Here, on the portions of the high bank which had 
sunk down by the undermining of the current, we saw the 
wax-myrtle of the Atlantic sea-coast. 

loth.] This evening we arrived near to the termination 
of the second Pine Bluffs, which continue along the river 
for nearly two miles. We passed through seven bends of 
the river, and came about 27 miles. The frost was now 
succeeded by mild and showery weather, and the bald 
eagles {Falco leucocephalus) were already nestling, chus- 
ing the loftiest poplars for their eyries. 

nth.] Soon after breakfast we came again in sight of 
the houses of the French hunters Cusot and Bartoleme, 
and found also two families from Curran's settlement 
encamped here, and about to settle. I here obtained two 
fragments of fossil shells, apparently some species of 
oyster, one of which was traversed with illinitions of crys- 
tallized carbonate of lime, and contained specks of bovey 
coal, from which I concluded them to have been washed 
out of the Bluffs above. Besides these I was also shewn 
a small conch-shell, not apparently altered from its nat- 
ural state, and probably disinterred from some tumulus. 
Some time after dark we arrived at Mr. Bonn's, a metif 
or half Quapaw, and interpreter to the nation, who lived 
at the first of the Pine Bluffs. Two or three other metif 
families resided also in the neighbourhood. 

On the 12th we arrived at Monsieur Dardennes', and 
to-day experienced a keen north-western wind. Water 
froze the instant it touched the ground. 

13th.] The weather still freezing. In the evening we 
passed Mr. Harrington's, a farmer in very comfortable 

290 Early Western Travels [Vol. 13 

circumstances. Betwixt Morrison's and this [223] place, 
the river makes two cuts, through two bends of about eight 
miles each. 

14th.] This evening we arrived at the residence of the 
late Mr. Mosely, and about 20 miles below Harrington's. 
His estates were said to be worth not less than 20,000 dol- 
lars, which had all been acquired during his residence in 
this territory. A proof that there is here also scope for 
industry, and the acquisition of wealth. 

About noon we landed at one of the Quapaw or Osark 
villages, but found only three houses constructed of bark, 
and those unoccupied. In the largest of them, apparently 
appropriated to amusement and superstition, we found 
two gigantic painted wooden masks of Indians,^^^ and a 
considerable number of conic pelt caps, also painted. 
These, as we learnt from an Indian who came up to us 
from some houses below, were employed at festivals, 
and worn by the dancers, a custom which was also prob- 
ably practised by the Natchez, in whose temple Charle- 
voix observed these marmosets. At the entrance of the 
cabin, and suspended from the wall, there was a female 
figure, with a rudely carved head of wood painted with 
Vermillion. Being hollow, and made of leather, we sup- 
posed it to be employed as a mask for one of the musi- 
cians, having in one hand a pendant ferule, as if for the 
purpose of beating a drum. In the spring and autumn 
the Quapaws have a custom of making a contribution 
dance, in which they visit also the whites, who live in their 
vicinity, and the chief alms which they crave is salt or 
articles of diet. 

^^ The Tuscaroras also wear masks at set times, for the purpose, as they 
pretend, of driving away evil spirits, and accompany these ceremonies by the 
sacrifice of two white dogs. — Nuttall. 

i8i8-i82o] Nuttair s 'Journal 291 

On the 15th we again arrived at the post of Osark, or 
as it is now not very intelligibly called, Arkansas, a name 
by far too easily confounded with that of the river, while 
the name Osark, still assumed by the [224] lower villagers 
of the Quapaws, and in memory of whom this place was 
first so called, would have been perfectly intelligible and 

In the evening we had a storm of melting snow and hail, 
which, on the following morning was succeeded by a north- 
west wind, accompanied by a severe frost. The river was 
now, however, beginning to rise and assume a muddy 
tinge from the influx of the lagoons, and lower rivulets. A 
more extensive fresh cannot now be expected before the 
commencement of milder weather, and the thawing of 
the river towards its sources. The oldest settlers affirm, 
that the Arkansa had not, during their knowledge of it, 
ever been so low as before the present rise. The Ohio 
and Mississippi also continued too low for the navigation 
of the steam-boats. 

1 6th.] This morning we observed the newly appointed 
governor, general Miller,^" goii^g up to the town from his 
boat, which appeared to be very handsomely and conve- 
niently fitted up, bearing for a name and motto 'T'U 
try," commemorative of an act of courage for which the 
general had been distinguished by his country. 

''* James Miller was born at Peterboro, New Hampshire, in 1776. After 
practicing law for several years, he entered the army as major in 1808, became 
lieutenant-colonel in 1810, and colonel in 18 12 — the latter, in recognition of 
gallantry at BroAYnstown. The incident alluded to in the text occurred at 
Lundy's Lane, July 25, 1814. General Scott having asked Miller if he could 
take the British battery, he replied "I'll try, sir," and led a successful charge. 
For this deed he was given a gold medal and made a brigadier-general. Upon 
the erection of Arkansas Territory in March, 1819, Miller was appointed gov- 
ernor, but was never active in the affairs of the Territory. He resigned in 1825, 
and became collector at the port of Salem, dying in 1851. — Ed. 

292 Early Western Travels [Vol. 13 

On arriving in the town, we found the court engaged in 
deciding upon the fate of a criminal, who had committed 
a rape upon the unprotected, and almost infant person of 
a daughter of his late wife.^^^ The legal punishment, in 
this and the Missouri territory, for this crime, castration ! 
is no less singular and barbarous, however just, than the 
heinous nature of the crime itself. The penitentiary law 
of confinement, so successfully tried in the states of Penn- 
sylvania and Nev/ York, for every crime short of murder, 
is an improvement in jurisprudence, which deserves to be 
adopted in every part of the United States. It often re- 
claims the worst of the human race, learns them habits of 
industry with which they had been unacquainted, and 
corrects those vices which perhaps ignorance [225] and 
parental indulgence had fostered. There is certainly a 
flagrant want of humanity in the multiplicity of sanguinary 
and stigmatizing punishments. To sacrifice all that por- 
tion of the community to infamy, who happen to fall be- 
neath the lash of the law, is incompatible with the true 
principles of justice. Maim a man, or turn him out with 
the stigma of infamy into the bosom of society, and he 
will inevitably become a still greater scourge to the world, 
in which he now only lives to seek revenge by the commis- 
sion of greater but better concealed crimes. 

Interest, curiosity, and speculation, had drawn the 
attention of men of education and wealth toward this 
country, since its separation into a territory; we now see 
an additional number of lawyers, doctors, and mechanics. 
The retinue and friends of the governor, together with the 
officers of justice, added also essential importance to the 

^" This is said to be the first case of record ever tried in an Arkansas court. 
The name of the criminal was Thomas Dickinson, and that of his victim Sally 
Hall. Under the sentence of the court, Dickinson was to have received his 
punishment on February 15, but Governor Miller pardoned him. — Ed. 

1818-1820] Nuttair s 'Journal 293 

territory, as well as to the growing town. The herald of 
public information, and the bulwark of civil liberty, the 
press, had also been introduced to the Post within the 
present year, where a weekly newspaper was now issued. ^^"^ 
Thus, in the interim of my arrival in this country it had 
commenced the most auspicious epoch of its political 

17th and 1 8th.] I again paid a visit to the prairie, which, 
as well as the immediate neighbourhood of the town, is in 
winter extremely wet, in consequence of the dead level ^ 
and argillaceous nature of the soil. The interesting plants 
and flowers which I had seen last year, at this time, 
were now so completely locked up in the bosom of winter, 
as to be no longer discernible, and nearly disappointed 
me in the hopes of collecting their roots, and transplant- 
ing them for the gratification of the curious. 

On the 19th, I bid farewell to Arkansas, and pro- 
ceeded towards the Mississippi, in the barge of Mons. 
Notrebe, a merchant of this place, and the day following, 
without any material occurrence, arrived at [226] the 
confluence of the Arkansa, a distance of about 60 miles. 
The bayou, through which I came in the spring, now ran 
with as much velocity towards White river, as it had done 
before into the Arkansa, its current and course depending 
entirely upon the relative elevation of the waters of the 
two rivers with which it communicates. The large island, 
thus produced, possesses extensive tracts of cane land, 
sufficiently elevated, as I am told, above inundation, as 
does also the opposite bank of the Arkansa. About 12 
miles above the mouth, the site first chosen for the Span- 

^" The paper was called the Arkansas Gazette, and was the first to be pub- 
lished in the Territory. The Primacy of the Post in the matter of newspapers 
was short-lived, for the Gazette was taken to Little Rock in 1820, and no other 
succeeded it until 1862. — Ed. 

294 Early Western Travels [Vol. 13 

ish garrison, and which was evacuated in consequence of 
inundation, was pointed out to me. A house now also 
stands on the otherwise deserted spot, where once were 
garrisoned the troops of France, at the terminating point 
of the river. We now found ourselves again upon the 
bosom of one of the most magnificent of rivers, which 
appeared in an unbroken and meandering sheet, stretch- 
ing over an extended view of more than 1 2 miles, and dec- 
orated with a pervading forest, only terminated by the 
distant horizon. 

2 1 St.] I now embarked for New Orleans in a flat boat, 
as the Steam boats, for want of water, were not yet in 

Not far from this place, a few days ago were encamped, 
the miserable remnant of what are called the Pilgrims, a 
band of fanatics, originally about 60 in number. They 
commenced their pilgrimage from the borders of Canada, 
and wandered about with their wives and children 
through the vast wilderness of the western states, like vag- 
abonds, without ever fixing upon any residence. They 
looked up to accident and charity alone for support; im- 
posed upon themselves rigid fasts, never washed their 
skin, or cut or combed their hair, and like the Dunkards 
wore their beards. Settling no where, they were conse- 
quently deprived of every comfort which arises from [227] 
the efforts of industry. Desertion, famine, and sickness, 
soon reduced their numbers, and they were every where 
treated with harshness and neglect, as the gypsies of civil- 
ized society. Passing through Ohio, Indiana, and Illi- 
nois, they at length found their way down the Mississippi 
to the outlet of White river and the Arkansa. Thus ever 
flying from society by whom they were despised, and by 
whom they had been punished as vagabonds, blinded by 

1818-1820] Nuttair s 'Journal 295 

fanatic zeal, they lingered out their miserable lives in 
famine and wretchedness, and have now nearly all per- 
ished or disappeared. Two days after my arrival in the 
territory, one of them was found dead in the road which 
leads from the Mississippi to Arkansas, If I am correctly 
informed, there now exists of them only one man, three 
women, and two children. Two other children were 
taken from them in compassion for their miserable situ- 
ation, and the man was but the other day seized by a 
boat's crew descending the river, and forcibly shaved, 
washed, and dressed. 

Down to the year 181 1, there existed on the banks of 
the Mississippi, a very formidable gang of swindling rob- 
bers, usually stationed in two parties at the mouth of the 
Arkansa, and at Stack island. They were about 80 in 
number, and under the direction of two captains. 
Amongst other predatory means of obtaining property, 
was that of purchasing produce from boats descending 
the river, with counterfeit money. Clary and his gang of 
the Arkansa, had, some time in the autumn of 181 1, pur- 
chased in this way some property from a descending fiat 
boat. The owner, however, before leaving the shore, dis- 
covered the fraud, and demanded restitution, but was 
denied with insolence ; and they proceeded, at length, so far 
as to fire upon his boat. These circumstances being re- 
lated to the companies of several other flats who very 
opportunely came up at this time, and 12 of them being 
now collected, they made up a party to [228] apprehend 
this nest of pirates. It was nearly night when they landed, 
and were instantly fired upon by the robbers. They at 
last arrived at the house which they occupied, broke it open, 
and secured Clary and two others who had attempted to 
hide themselves. A court martial was held over them. 

296 Rarly Western Travels [Vol. 13 

which sentenced Clary to receive a number of lashes from 
the crew of each boat, and the two other delinquents were 
condemned to confinement, and to work the boat in the 
place of two of the boatmen who were wounded. These 
men, on arriving at Natchez, were committed to prison, but 
no one appearing against them, they were of course acquit- 
ted. Clary confessed, that he and his crew had, within the 
week previous to his apprehension, bought and transmitted 
up the Arkansa, with counterfeit money, 1800 dollars worth 
of produce. It was also known that he had been a mur- 
derer, and had fled to the banks of the Mississippi from 
justice. The Stack island banditti have never been 
routed, and some of their character were still found skulk- 
ing around Point Chicot and the neighbouring island, 
always well supplied with counterfeit money. 

2 2d.] This morning we were visited by three Choctaws 
in quest of whiskey. Their complexions were much fairer 
than most of the Indians we meet with on the Mississippi. 
Two of them were boys of about 18 or 19, and possessed 
the handsomest features I have ever seen among the 
natives, though rather too effeminate. About 20 miles 
below the Arkansa, in the Cypress bend, we saw the first 
appearance of Tillandsia or Long moss. 

On the 24th, we arrived at Point Chicot,^^' which is 
included in the Arkansa territory; the boundary being 
the Big Lake, about 20 miles below. From one of the 
settlers, living a few miles below Point Chicot, I learn, 
that on the eastern side of the Mississippi, the high lands 
are here from 15 to 20 miles distant. [229] The reaches 
and bends, in this part of the river, are hardly less than six 
miles in length. Toward the centre of the bends consid- 

^" Point Chicot is opposite Greenville, Mississippi, forty-five miles, by the 
river, above the Arkansas boundary. — Ed. 

i8i8-i82o] Nuttair s yournal 297 

erable bodies of cane appear, indicative of an elevation 
above the usual inundations; it is, however, probable that 
these tracts are narrow, and flanked at no great distance 
by lagoons and cypress marshes subject to the floods. 
Many bends indeed presented nothing but cypress and 
black ash. 

From the Chicasaw Bluffs downward, along the banks 
of the Mississippi, we perceive no more of the Tulip tree 
(Liriodendron tulipifera), and but little of the Platanus, 
greatly reduced in magnitude, compared with what it 
attains along the Ohio. The largest tree of the forest 
here is that which is of the quickest growth, the Cotton- 
wood poplar (Populus angulata). 

27th.] The whole country, generally speaking, along the 
river, appears uninhabited, though vast tracts of cane land 
occur in the bends. I am, however, informed that the 
cane will withstand a partial inundation. Since we left 
Point Chicot the river presents us with several magnificent 
views, some of 8, some of 12, and even 15 miles extent; 
but the absence of variety, even amidst objects of the ut- 
most grandeur, soon becomes tiresome by familiarity. As 
above the Arkansa, the river still continues meandering. 
The curves, at all seasons washed by a rapid current, 
present crumbling banks of friable soil more or less mixed 
with vegetable matter. By the continued undermining 
and removal of the earth, the bends are at length worn 
through, the former tongue of land then becomes trans- 
formed into an island, and the stagnation and partial fill- 
ing of the old channel, now deserted, in time produces a 
lake. Some idea of the singular caprice of the Mississippi 
current may be formed, by taking for a moment into view 
the extraordinary extent of its alluvial valley, which below 
[230] the Ohio is from 30 to 40 miles in width, through all 

298 Early Western Travels [Vol. 13 

which space it has from time to time meandered, and over 
which it will never cease to hold occasional possession. 
On the opposite side of all the bends there are what are 
called bars, being platforms of sand formed by the depo- 
sition of the siliceous matter washed out of the opposite 
banks by the force of the current. These sand flats, 
sometimes near a mile in width, are uniformly flanked by 
thick groves of willows and poplars, the only kind of 
trees which survive the effects of the inundation to which 
these bars are perpetually subject. 

28th.] This morning we passed the settlement called 
the Walnut Hills,^*^ a situation somewhat similar to that 
of Natchez, consisting, however, of a cluster of hills of 
150 or 200 feet elevation, laid out in a chain of agreeable 
farms. The banks, along the river, though not near so 
elevated as those of the Chicasaw Bluffs, are still far 
enough above the reach of inundation, and present a 
stratification and materials entirely similar: the same fria- 
ble ferruginous clays, and also one or two beds of lig- 
nite, the lower about a foot in thickness, very distinct 
at this low stage of the water, and about three feet from 
its margin. The declivity for near half a mile back pre- 
sents innumerable slips parallel with the river, and in one 
of the ravines large masses of sandstone were washed out 
towards the river. 

In the evening we arrived at a small town called War- 
rington,^*^ containing two inns and as many stores. The 
land appeared low, but was secured from inundation by 
a levee or embankment carried out for two or three miles 

^** For a sketch of Walnut Hills (Vicksburg), see Cuming's Tour, our vol- 
ume iv, note 197. — Ed. 

^*' Warrenton is the correct spelling. It was the seat of Warren County 
until 1836, being then supplanted by Vicksburg. Its population is still less than 
a hundred. — Ed. 

i8i8-i82o] Nuttair s 'Journal 299 

below the town. Out of its small quota of population, 37 
individuals last summer died of the yellow-fever, said to 
have been introduced by the steam-boat Alabama. The 
gloomy mantling of the forest communicated by the Til- 
landsia usneoides or long moss, which every where prevails, 
is a never-failing [231] proof of the presence of an un- 
healthy humidity in the atmosphere. The stagnating 
lagoons and bodies of refluent water also largely contrib- 
ute to the unhealthiness of the climate. The vast extent 
and depth of this inundation is sufficiently evident by the 
marks along the banks of the river, which in places exhib- 
ited a rise of 50 feet above the present level ! 

29th.] To-day we passed the grand Gulf or eddy, near 
to which enters Big Black river. "** Here again the friable 
hUls of the high land make their appearance on the borders 
of the river, on and around which there are settlements. 
At the base of the hills loose heaps of sandstone lie scat- 
tered. A thin stratified bed of the same was now also 
visible. In high water a violent and dangerous eddy 
sweeps along these rocks. On the declivity of this hill 
we see the first trees of the Magnolia grandi flora. The 
small palmetto {Sahal minor) commences about Warring- 
ton. The distance to high land on the opposite or west- 
ern side of the river is said to be little less than 30 

30th.] This morning we came to what is called the Petit 
Gulf,"^ where another cluster of hills appears scattered 
with settlements. Here the banks present nothing but 

"° Big Black River forms the boundary between Warren and Claiborne 
counties, Mississippi. Grand Gulf is just below its mouth, where now stands 
a village of the same name. General Phineas Lyman's Tory colony of 1775 
was located on the Big Black. See our volume iv, note 198. — Ed. 

"* Petit Gulf is fifteen miles below Grand Gulf, adjacent to the village of 
Rodney, on the line between Claiborne and Jefferson counties. — Ed. 

300 Early Western Travels [Vol. 13 

friable materials, still also similar to the Chicasaw Bluffs. 
Beds of very white sand, intimately mixed with argilla- 
ceous earth, appear in prominent cliffs. One of the houses 
which we visited is apparently built upon an aboriginal 
mound, and there are two others about a mile distant, in 
which have been found bones and pot-sherds. Last eve- 
ning we passed bayou Pierre,"^ 30 miles up which stream, 
and 15 by land, is situated the thriving town of Gibson- 

31st.] To-day we arrived at the well known and opu- 
lent town of Natchez,"* situated on the summit of a hill 
which forms part of the same range and primitive soil as 
the Petit Gulf. The port was crowded with flat-boats, 
produce bearing a reduced [232] price in consequence of 
the low rate of, and small demand for, cotton. 

The cliffs of Natchez appear more elevated than those 
of the Petit Gulf. The lands, of an inferior soil, are also 
remarkably broken and deeply undulated. The crum- 
bling precipice, of about 150 feet elevation, is continually 
breaking, by the action of springs and rain-water, into 
gullies and frightful ravines; the whole visible matter 
which composes the hills consisting of clays, ferruginous 
sand, and quartzy gravel. A few years ago, the under- 
mining of the current swept down a considerable part of 
the bank with several houses upon it. From the irregu- 
larity in the thickness of this ancient maritime alluvion, 
arises the great difference of depth at which water is here 

^* Bayou Pierre is almost exactly midway between Grand Gulf and Petit 
Gulf. There were one or two plantations upon its banks as early as 1729, the 
year of the Natchez uprising against the French. — Ed. 

""^ Now called Port Gibson. It is the seat of Claiborne County, and was 
founded (1803) on land granted by the Spanish authorities to Samuel Gibson, 
who came to Mississippi (1772) from South Carolina. — Ed. 

*^ For a sketch of Natchez, see Cuming's Tour, volume iv of our series, 
note 206. — Ed. 

i8i8-i82o] Nuttair s "Journal 301 

obtained. In the same vicinity water has been found at 
35, and then again at no feet from the surface. 

The day after my arrival I waited upon Saml. Postleth- 
waite, Esq., related by marriage to the late Mr. Dunbar. 
From Mr. P. and his amiable lady, I met with every atten- 
tion and kindness which friendship, hospitality, and po- 
liteness could have possibly dictated. 

To my enquiries concerning the horticulture and agri- 
culture of Natchez, Mr. P. informed me, that the peach 
and fig, as well as the pear and the quince, succeed ex- 
tremely well. The apple trees also, introduced from Ken- 
tucky, afforded nearly equal success. The cherry, the 
gooseberry, and the currant, though thriving, scarcely 
produce at all. The pomegranate, and the myrtle, grow 
and fruit almost as in their native climate. The orange 
and lemon require some shelter from the prevailing winter. 
Grapes attain to tolerable perfection, but the clusters are 
often blighted, apparently by the humidity of the atmos- 
phere. The kernels of dates which have been planted, 
germinate and grow with considerable vigour. The 
olive, [233] which so many years ago was introduced by 
the first French settlers, and said, by Du Pratz, to have 
succeeded, is now entirely lost. 

Cotton, which constitutes the staple commodity and 
wealth of this country, has, like all other crops, a consider- 
able tendency to impoverish the soil; before the settle- 
ment became so much condensed, and land so advanced 
in value, no method of improving the worn out lands was 
ever thought of. Such fields were then left waste, and 
new lands still continually cleared. Of late years some 
attention has been paid towards renovating the soil, by 
plowing in the herb of the cotton, after being thrashed 
to pieces as it stands in the field. A much more conve- 

302 Early Western Travels [Vol. 13 

nient and expeditious method, however, is that which Mr. 
P. has practised, who employs a loaded harrow or a roller 
armed with knives, which divides the plant also into much 
smaller pieces. The seed, which forms three-fourths of 
the crop in weight, being very oleaginous, would likewise 
return to the soil a considerable share of nourishment, as 
appears by the experiment of applying it to maize, which, 
thus treated, grows as luxuriant as when manured with 
gypsum. The seed of the cotton also, when scalded, 
and mixed with a little salt, forms a nourishing and agree- 
able food for cattle. 

Of late years, a prevailing disease has injured the crops 
of this plant. From what I learn, it appears to be of the 
same nature as that which destroys the grapes, and de- 
pends apparently upon the state of the atmosphere, pro- 
gressing with more or less rapidity in proportion to its 
humidity. The disease in question attacks the extremity 
of the peduncle, appearing, at first, like a moist or oily 
spot, which is succeeded by a sphacelous state of the 
integuments, and an abortion of the capsule. 

Although we perceive but little attention paid to science 
or literature in this territory, it does not by [234] any means 
appear to be destitute of public patronage, as there is a 
very handsome endowment in lands appropriated by the 
state for the building and support of a college. Some 
difficulty, now nearly obviated, as I understood, had been 
the means of retarding the progress of the institution."^ 
The inhabitants of Natchez, generally speaking, as in 
most of the southern states, live in ease and affluence. 

^^ By act of February 20, 18 19, Congress donated thirty-six sections of 
public land to the legislature of Mississippi, in trust, to endow a ' ' seminary of 
learning." The lands were sold at auction, notes were taken in payment, half 
of them were never collected, and the proceeds of those which were paid were 
lost by the failure of the Planters' Bank, in 1840. — Ed. 

i8i8-i82o] Nuttair s 'Journal 303 

To my enquiries concerning the aboriginal Natchez, 
Mr. P. said, he was inclined to believe them now extinct, 
as some years ago he had heard that only two or three 
individuals of them then remained. Their first flight, after 
the cruel defeat and massacre which took place in their 
fort, was across the river, to what is now called Sicily 
island, a body of land at this time settled, of about five 
miles in width, partly insulated by the overflows of the 
Tensaw, and rising into a hill considerably above the reach 
of inundation. The unfortunate Natchez were not, how- 
ever, suffered to remain in peace, and being again routed 
by the French and their Indian allies, were, on the verge 
of extermination, driven to seek refuge among the neigh- 
bouring Indians. ^^^ From my friend, Mr. Ware, of the 
Mississippi Territory, I learn, that there still exists a small 
village of the Natchez on the banks of the Tallipoosee, 
in Alabama, governed by a chief, named Coweta, who 
joined the United States against the Lower Creeks in the 
late war. 

Mr. P. informs me, that in digging, some time ago, into 
a neighbouring mound, to the depth of a few feet, frag- 
ments of a sword blade, and some other relics of European 
warfare, were found, together with beads and remains 
which appeared to have accompanied an aboriginal inter- 
ment. From these circumstances, it would appear, that 
some courageous opponent of the French had made a 
desperate stand upon this sacred ground, in order to 
annoy his enemies, [235] and to sell his life as dear as pos- 

^ Early in 1731, Perier, governor of Louisiana, attacked a fort which the 
Natchez had built near the confluence of Ouachita and Black rivers. A num- 
ber of warriors eluded the French and escaped; but the remaining Indians, 
including the chief men of the tribe and several hundred women and children, 
were captured and sold as slaves in San Domingo. The remnant of the tribe 
retreated to the Chickasaw, who continued the war. See ante, note 147. — Ed. 

304 Early Western Travels [Vol. 13 

sible upon the tomb of his ancestors. I am the more 
inclined to hazard this opinion, not only from the cir- 
cumstances related (of the broken fragments of European 
weapons, and the decorations of a warrior), but likewise 
from the assertion of the aged Illinois chief, made at Kas- 
kaskia, who, on being interrogated as to the use and origin 
of the lofty mounds in that neighbourhood, answered, 
that his forefathers had employed them as situations of 
defence against their enemies the Iroquois. 

Mr. Ware informs me, that aboriginal remains abound 
in the vicinity of Natchez. Twelve miles above the town 
there is a square fort of three or four acres area, furnished 
with several gateways, and erected on a commanding situ- 
ation. About 12 miles below the town there is likewise a 
group of mounds. 

Considerable numbers of Choctaws appeared at this 
season straggling through the streets of Natchez, either 
begging or carrying on some paltry traffic, but chiefly for 
the sake of liquor. I am informed that civilization is 
making some advances among those who live in the nation, 
and who have consequently abandoned their ancient wan- 
dering habits. Those of them we see here are meanly 
dressed and of a swarthy complexion. Their ancient 
mode of exposing the dead upon scaffolds, and afterwards 
separating the flesh from the bones, is falling into disuse, 
though still practised, as Mr. Ware informs me, by the 
six towns of the Choctaws"^ on the Pascagoula. They 
still entertain the same tradition of their origin which was 
current in the time of Du Pratz, though he believes them 
to have emigrated into the country which they now pos- 
sess. The legend is, that they sprung out of a hill, situ- 

^' For a sketch of the Choctaw, see Cuming's Tour, volume iv of our series, 
note 187. — Ed. 

i8i8-i82o] Nuttair s 'Journal 305 

ated contiguous to Pearl river, which, Mr. Ware tells me, 
they still visit and venerate. The Creeks entertain a 
tradition"^ of coming from the west side of the Mississippi, 
and that too at so recent a date, as to have heard of the 
landing of White people [236] on the Atlantic coast soon 
after their arrival. The Seminoles, Utchis, and Yama- 
sees are a portion of those more ancient people whom they 
found in possession of the country, and with whom they 
carried on an exterminating warfare. Indeed, many of 
the people of that country discovered by Soto, and some 
of them numerous and powerful, are now no longer in 
existence. Those whom he calls the Cutifa-chiqui, then 
governed by a female, held a court equally as dignified 
as that of Powhatan in Virginia. 

The Choctaws possess in an eminent degree that thirst 
for revenge, which forms so prominent a trait in the dispo- 
sition of the man of America. By far too indiscriminate in 
its object, murder and accidental death are alike fatal to 
the perpetrator, and scarcely any lapse of time, or conces- 
sion short of that of life, is taken. It is but a few years ago, 
that two Choctaws in the town of Natchez, firing at each 
other, in the same instant, fell both dead on the spot : one 
of them, in defence of a life which he had forfeited ; the 
other, in quest of revenge for the death of a relative. 

By a recent treaty, ^^^ effected through the influence of 

^' For the migration legend of the Creek, see Brinton, ' ' National Legend 
of the Chahta-Muskotee Tribes," in Historical Magazine, February, 1870; 
also Gatschet, "A Migration Legend of the Creek Indians," in Brinton's Li- 
brary 0} Aboriginal American Literature (Philadelphia, 1884), iv. See also 
Transactions of the Academy of Science at St. Louis, 1886-91, v. De Soto 
found the Creek in their historic abode in Georgia and Alabama. — Ed. 

*^' This treaty was completed October 18, 1820. In exchange for the Choc- 
taw lands in Mississippi it reserved for them the territory lying between Arkansas 
and Canadian rivers on the north, and Red River on the south, with a western 
boundary rvmning due south from the source of the Canadian to the Red, and 

306 Early Western Travels [Vol. 13 

general Jackson, the Choctaws are now about to relinquish 
the east side of the Mississippi, and to exchange their 
lands for others in the territory of Arkansa, situated be- 
twixt Arkansa and Red rivers, and extending from the 
Quapaw reservation to the Pottoe. In consequence of 
this singular but impolitic measure of crowding the abo- 
rigines together, so as to render them inevitably hostile 
to each other, and to the frontier which they border, 
several counties of the Arkansa territory will have to be 
evacuated by their white inhabitants, who will thus be 
ruined in their circumstances, at the very period when the 
general survey of the lands had inspired them with the 
confident expectation of obtaining a permanent and legal 

[237] February 4th.] To-day we left Natchez, and in 
the distance of 15 miles passed Ellis's Cliffs, another por- 
tion of re-entering high land, broken into a very pictur- 
esque landscape, decorated with pines and magnolias. 
These cliffs, no way essentially different from those above, 
present here, immediately above the carbonaceous bed, a 
very thick stratum of white sandy clay, so far indurated as 
to withstand the washing which has carried away the 
superincumbent soil. 

In the course of the night we arrived at Fort Adams,"" 
another spur of the high land; a term which can only be 
used in reference to the alluvion, as the apparent undula- 
tion is here nothing more than an adventitious subsidence 
or washing of the soil, the ravines and gullies being occa- 
sioned by its friable nature. Rock, however, appears at 

an eastern running from Point Remove on the Arkansas to a point three miles 
below the mouth of Little River. The portion of this tract lying within the limits 
of Arkansas was ceded to the United States January 20, 1825. — Ed. 

^^ For a brief sketch of Fort Adams, see Cuming's Tour, our volume iv, 
note 211 — Ed. 

i8i8-i82o] Nuttair s 'Journal 307 

the base of the lofty hill, on which stands a block house of 
the late garrison."^ A tavern, a store, and two or three 
other houses are here established for the convenience of 
the interior. 

7th.] To-day we arrived at the settlement of bayou 
Sarah, a mile up which stream is situated the town of St. 
Francisville,"^ and passed a line of opulent plantations 
on the Louisiana bank of the river called Point Coupec^*^' 
From hence we begin to perceive the orange, though not 
very thriving. Sugar is also planted thus far, and appears 
to succeed. Mons. Poydras,"* a bachelor 80 years of 
age, owns and employs in this settlement betwixt 4 and 
500 negroes, which, together with property in New 
Orleans, amounts to an estate of several millions of 
dollars. His plantations at Point Coupee are principally 

^ Some of this rock is an impure argillaceous limestone; but the principal 
part consists of an indurated and parti-coloured clay, subject to disintegration, 
in which state it resembles the pink-coloured clay heretofore noticed. — Nuttall. 

°^ St. Francisville dates from the period of Spanish dominion in Louisiana. 
When Feliciana Parish was divided in 1824, St. Francisville was made seat of 
justice of West FeUciana. It has since been practically absorbed by Bayou 
Sara, which was originally merely the river landing of the older tovra. — Ed. 

^ This point derived its name from the fact that Iberville, on his ascent of 
the river in 1699, cut down a number of trees which obstructed one of the chan- 
nels, thus changing the course of the river so as eventually to cut off the point. 
The name means cut-off point. 

Pointe Couple gives its name to one of the most fertile parishes in Louisiana. 
The parish also has an interesting history. The mouth of Red River, in the 
northern end of the parish, is the spot where De Soto is thought to have died. 
Frenchmen from Canada, Illinois, and Vincennes settled at Pointe Couple prior 
to 1 712 — before the founding of New Orleans. Slaves were introduced in 
1719, and attempts made at cotton culture as early as 1785. Efforts to intro- 
duce sugar cane began in 1776, but for a number of years met with small suc- 
cess. — Ed. 

^^ JuUen Poydras was Louisiana Territory's delegate in Congress (1809-10), 
president of the state constitutional convention (1812), first president of the 
senate, and one of the first presidential electors. One of the principal streets 
of New Orleans bears his name. He was also known in the state as a philan- 
thropist. See post, note 238. — Ed. 

308 Early Western Travels [Vol. 13 

employed in the lucrative business of planting and making 

8th.] We again obtained sight of the high land in [238] 
the cliffs near Thompson's creek,^^^ and, as usual, on the 
eastern side of the river. About three feet above the 
present level, we also observed the occurrence of the 
bovey-coal or lignite, overlaid by massive beds of fer- 
ruginous clays and gravel. This high land, without again 
approaching to the immediate margin of the river, con- 
tinues at no great distance from hence to Baton-Rouge. 

9th.] Early this morning we passed the thriving town 
of Baton-Rouge,^^® where a garrison has been established 
ever since its cession. Not far from hence, the high 
lands or primitive soil terminates, beyond which, to the 
sea, the whole country is alluvial and marshy. Con- 
tinued lines of settlements still present themselves on 
either bank, and cotton and sugar are the great articles of 
their agricultural opulence. 

About 3 o'clock in the morning, we experienced a heavy 
squall from the north-east, accompanied by torrents of 
rain, and were in considerable danger of losing the flat, 
with all our property and baggage. Ever since leaving 
Natchez, we have had weather like summer, and vegeta- 
tion already advances. 

loth and nth.] We have in view an almost uninter- 
rupted line of settlements on either hand which continue 
to New Orleans. These planters are nearly all of French 
or Spanish extraction, and, as yet, there are among them 
but few Americans. Their houses are generally built of 

"* Thompson's Creek forms the boundary between East and West Feliciana 
parishes. It joins the Mississippi at Port Hudson, ten miles below Bayou 
Sara. — Ed. 

^ For a sketch of Baton Rouge, see Cuming's Tour, our volume iv, note 
216. — Ed. 

i8i8-i82o] Nuttair s 'Journal 309 

wood, with piazzas for shade in the summer. Notwith- 
standing their comparative opulence, they differ Httle 
either in habits, manners, or dress from the Canadians. 
Dancing and gambhng appear to be their favourite 
amusements. The men, as usual, are commonly dressed 
in blanket coats, and the women wear handkerchiefs 
around their heads in place of bonnets. The inhabitants 
do not appear to be well supplied with merchandize, and 
the river is crowded with the boats of French and Spanish 
[239] pedlars, not much larger than perogues, but fitted 
up with a cabin, covered deck, and sails. 

Another vast monopolizer of human liberty, along the 
coast (as the borders of the Mississippi are termed by the 
French), is general Wade Hampton,^" who possesses up- 
wards of 400 slaves, and has obtained at one crop 500 
hogsheads of sugar, and 1000 bales of cotton, then collec- 
tively worth upwards of 150,000 dollars: in the United 
States an immense fortune, without any additional prop- 
erty, and equal to that of almost any English nobleman. 
But, with the means of being so extensively useful, I do 
not learn that either this gentleman or Mons. Poydras,^^^ 
expend any adequate part of their immense property to 

^' This famous South Carolinian was bom in 1754. He served under Ma- 
rion and Sumter during the Revolution; was in Congress 1795-97, 1803-05; 
entered the army as colonel in 1808; was promoted to a brigadier-generalship 
in 1809 and stationed at New Orleans, where he was superseded by General 
James Wilkinson (1812); served on the northern frontier in 1813, and resigned 
his commission in 1814. When he died, in 1835, he was reckoned the wealth- 
iest planter in the South. Several of his descendants bore the same christian 
name. — Ed. 

^* Mons. P. has, I understand, endowed a place in New Orleans for the 
education of female orphans. — Nuttall. 

Comment hy Ed. The institution was on Julia Street, west of Carondelet, 
and was built in 1814. In addition to Poydras's gift, it received $4,000 from 
the state. This was not Poydras's only philanthropic deed. A college "for 
indigent females" was estabhshed at Pointe Coupee in 1829, on an endowment 
of $20,000, bequeathed by him. 

3 1 o Early Western Travels [Vol. 13 

public advantage. And, more than that, these unfortunate 
slaves, the engines of their wealth, are scarcely fed or 
clothed in any way bordering on humanity. Their com- 
mon allowance of food, is said to be about one quart of 
corn per day ! Thus miserably fed, they are consequently 
driven to theft by the first law of nature, and subject the 
country to perpetual depredation. How little wealth has 
contributed towards human improvement, appears suffi- 
ciently obvious throughout this adventitiously opulent 
section of the Union. Time appears here only made to 
be lavished in amusement. Is the uncertainty of human 
life so great in this climate, as to leave no leisure for any 
thing beyond dissipation? The only serious pursuit, 
appears to be the amassing and spending of that wealth 
which is wrung from the luckless toil of so many unfor- 
tunate Africans, doomed to an endless task, which is even 
entailed upon their posterity. "O slavery, though thou- 
sands in all ages have drank of thee, still thou art a bitter 

An evil, however, which has been so long established, 
[240] cannot be eradicated at a single blow. The aboli- 
tion of domestic slavery must be a work of time. Let an 
age be chosen at which it shall cease to operate; say a 
limit of 28 or 30 years. Let the negroes be sent into the 
civilized world with the rudiments of education, and the 
means of obtaining a livelihood. After acquiring their 
freedom, it is highly probable, that they would still con- 
tinue to seek the employment of their former masters, and 
the neighbourhood in which they were born. The project 
of transporting the free negroes to the country in which 
they originated appears extremely rational, and ought to 
be promoted by every means in the power of the public. 
We are sensible that the negroes who remain in the society 

i8i8-i82o] NuttalPs Journal 311 

of the whites, must ever be subjected to the degradation 
of an inferior cast. They were not formed to mingle 
indiscriminately amongst us; but though they may be 
inferior to us in intellect and civilization, they were un- 
doubtedly born to the possession of rational liberty. 

In the contiguous country of Opelousa,^^' so called from 
the Indians who formerly lived in it, there are extensive 
and fertile prairies, where great herds of cattle are raised 
for the market of New Orleans. A year ago, about 12,000 
head were sold on the banks of the Mississippi, at the rate 
of from 30 to 35 dollars each. 

From hence to New Orleans, now 86 miles distant, the 
whole coast is defended from inundation by an embank- 
ment or trench of earth, thrown up with about the same 
labour as that which is bestowed upon a common ditched 
fence. In this simple way, millions of acres of the richest 
land, inexhaustible by crops, is redeemed from waste, and 
we have now the pleasure of viewing an almost uninter- 
rupted line of opulent settlements continued from Baton- 
Rouge, to more than 50 miles below New Orleans. 

[241] Among the more common reptiles of this country, 
already beginning to appear abroad, I know of none more 
curious, than a kind of Cameleon lizard, of frequent occur- 
rence, and in some measure related to that celebrated 
species, excepting that the colours which it assumes are 
only those with which it is familiar in nature ; such as ash- 
colour in the vicinity of a pale object, dark brown upon the 
ground, or on the trunks of trees, and a bright green amidst 
verdant herbage. 

17th.] After another detention of two days by the prev- 
alence of a strong south-west wind, we continued our 

"' West of the river, around the present parish of St. Landry. — Ed. 

312 Early Western Travels [Vol. 13 

voyage, and early this morning passed the great planta- 
tion of general Hampton, situated about 70 miles from 
New Orleans, at Ouma point, the name of a nation or 
tribe of Indians now nearly extinct, and who, with the 
remains of the Chetimashas, once living nearly opposite 
to bayou la Fourche, are at this time existing in a partly 
civilized state on the bayou Plaquemine.^*" The learned 
Peter S. Duponceau,^" Esq. informs me, that the lan- 
guage of the Chetimashas, a people said, by Du Pratz, 
to be a branch of the Natchez, appears to be radically dis- 
tinct from that of the other aborigines of the southern 
states. From hence the banks of the river are lower, 
and the labour of keeping up the levees greater, though 
the rise of the river is slower, its width and uniformity of 
channel more considerable, and now almost destitute of 
islands or bars. The river is very probably influenced in 
this respect by the embankments, which are continued 
almost without interruption from Fort Adams nearly to 
Fort Placquemine."^ We had now in view a perpetual 
succession of the habitations of the richest planters, sur- 
rounded with groups of negro cabins. They are almost 
exclusively engaged in the planting of sugar, and possess 
establishments no way inferior to those of the West India 
Islands, some of them being valued at as much as 100,000 

'*" Point Houmas is just below Donaldsonville. The Hoxunas numbered 
only about sixty souls at the beginning of the nineteenth century. On the 
Chetimachas, see ante, note 147. Bayou La Fourche enters the Mississippi 
at Donaldsonville, and must not be confounded with another stream of the same 
name in La Fourche Parish. The mouth of Bayou Plaquemine, is at the town 
of Plaquemine, in Iberville Parish. — Ed. 

^" Peter Stephen Duponceau was a Frenchman who served on Baron 
Steuben's staff during the Revolutionary War, and afterwards (1781), became 
a citizen of the United States. He was well-known as an author of legal essays 
and a student of Indian philology. He died in Philadelphia in 1844. — Ed. 

'^^ Thirty miles above the mouth of the river. — Ed. 

i8i8-i82o] Nuttair s 'Journal 3 1 3 

dollars, every [242] thing included. As the settlements 
are chiefly in single lines along the bank of the river, the 
land is commonly sold by the measurement in front, run- 
ning back about 40 arpents,^^' and have been disposed of 
at as much as 3000 dollars per arpent in front, or 75 dollars 
per arpent actual measurement. 

Notwithstanding the fearful t5Tanny exercised over the 
slaves on these large plantations, the annals of this settle- 
ment are not without the remembrance of serious symp- 
toms of revolt. About nine years ago, a party of negroes, 
equipped with arms, liberated themselves, after destroying 
their master with two or three other individuals who at- 
tempted to oppose them, and were not subdued until 
totally destroyed by the neighbouring militia. There 
were of them 300, who were routed near to Red Church, 
about twenty-four miles above New Orleans; so that, 
betwixt the fears of inundation, the efforts of the enslaved 
Africans to emancipate themselves, and the fatality of the 
climate, the opulent planters of Louisiana possess no en- 
viable advantage over the happy peasant, who dwells in 
the security which honest industry and salutary frugality 
afford him.^" 

The excessive attachment to gambling which charac- 
terises the inhabitants of Louisiana, and the love of specu- 
lation, exhibited in the great and transitory influx of 

^^ The arpent of Paris is less than the English and United States statute 
acre, as 512 is to 605. The arpent is used in Louisiana, and other places in 
America inhabited by the French, as a measure of length; each arpent is equal 
to 29.1 Gunter's chain, very nearly; consequently, 40 arpents amounts to 116.4 
Gunter, or 2660.8 yards. — Note by Mr. Darby. — Nuttall. 

^** The outbreak occurred in January, 181 1, in the parish of St. John the 
Baptist. See account in Martin, History of Louisiana (New Orleans, 1827), 
ii, p. 300; also Gayarre, History 0} Louisiana (New Orleans, 1903), iv, p. 266. 
An earHer uprising took place in 1795 on the Poydras plantation (see ante, note 
234), during, the owner's absence in the United States. See Gayarre, iii, p. 
354 — Ed. 

314 Early Western Travels [Vol. 13 

foreigners and citizens from the northern states, is now 
ostensibly checked by a species of taxation called license. 
Thus, every store-keeper pays an annual assessment of 
1 10 dollars to the commonwealth. Every pedlar 1 2 dollars. 
Every Pharo bank and Roulette table 500 dollars a year, 
and every Billiard table 50 dollars. In excuse for thus 
tolerating the Pharo bank and the Roulette, the legislature 
affirm their inability to check the evil by punishment. 

[243] 1 8th.] This morning we arrived at New Orleans,^*^ 
now said to contain about 45,000 inhabitants, a great pro- 
portion of whom are of French extraction and retain their 
mother tongue. The situation of the town, which was 
begun in 1718, is rendered unhealthy by the swamp which 
circumscribes its western suburb, and which continues at 
all seasons totally impassable. A short canal crosses it, 
forming a communication with the bayou St. John, and 
lake Ponchartrain, by which means a commercial com- 
munication is opened to Mobile, Pensacola, and the Ala- 
bama territory. 

In the neighbourhood of the city, and along the coast, 
the beautiful groves of orange trees, orchards of the fig, 
and other productions of the mildest climates, sensibly 
indicate our approach to the tropical regions, where the 
dreary reign of winter is for ever unknown. But little 
pains as yet have been taken to introduce into this coun- 
try, though so thickly settled, the ornamental and useful 
plants which it is calculated to sustain. We yet neither 
see the olive, the date, nor the vineyard, notwithstanding 
the adaptation of the climate to their culture. That the 
date itself would succeed, an accidental example in the city 

^^ The headquarters of the French colony in Louisiana were first estabhshed 
(1699) at Biloxi, now within the limits of the state of Mississippi. In 1701 they 
were removed to Mobile, there remaining until the site of New Orleans was 
chosen by Bienville, acting governor under Law's Mississippi Company. — Ed. 

i8i8-i82o] Nuttair s 'Journal 3 1 5 

renders probable. This palm, which grows in Orleans 
street, has attained the height of more than 30 feet, with 
a trunk of near 18 inches in diameter, and has flowered 
annually for the space of several years. The period of 
inflorescence appears to be about the commencement of 
April, but being only a staminiferous plant, it has not con- 
sequently produced any fruit. 

That fatal epidemic, the yellow fever, was last summer 
unusually prevalent, and carried off probably 5 or 6000 
individuals, a great part of whom were, as usual, emigrants 
from the northern states, and different parts of Europe. 
By what I can learn, the hospital in this place is very ill 
suited to the recovery of those patients who are hurried to 
it during the rage [244] of this disease. They are crowded 
almost to contact; so that the contagion acquires force 
and fatality in the very institution formed for its recovery. 
Many, however, flock to this last refuge for the indigent 
and miserable, in a state which precludes all hopes of 

The expense of medical assistance, the difficulty of 
obtaining attendance, and the selfish and fearful supine- 
ness which seizes upon all classes at this awful season, 
serves to increase the fatal gloom which surrounds the 
unhappy stranger, thus often inhumanly abandoned by 
all society, and left, before the approach of the fatal mo- 
ment, like a carcase to the vultures! 

The scene of crowded graves which appals the eye in 
the general burying-ground, marked by boards, or covered 
tombs, inscribed with mournful remembrances ; the hosts 
which are swept off, also, interred in forgotten crowds, and 
consigned to relentless oblivion, appeared thickly to 
chequer the whole surface of the earth, and warn the 
stranger, in no ambiguous phrase, of the fatal climate in 

3 1 6 Rarly Western Travels [Vol. 13 

which he sojourns. These crowds of sepulchres are not 
the slow accumulation of an age, as a section of these re- 
mains is frequently dug up and consumed, to give place to 
the renewed harvest of death. "^ 

The prevailing religion is that of the Catholics; though 
there is also a handsome church erected by the Presby- 

Science and rational amusement is as yet but little culti- 
vated in New Orleans. There are only three or four 
booksellers to supply this large city and populous neigh- 
bourhood. The French inhabitants, intermingled with 
the African castes in every shade of colour, scarcely exceed 
them, generally speaking, in mental acquirements. Every 
thing like intellectual improvement appears to be vitiated 
in its source, nothing exists to inspire emulation, and 
learning, as in the West [245] Indies, has no existence be- 
yond the mechanism of reading and writing. Something 
like a museum was begun in the city a few years ago, but 
by a protean evolution it has been transformed into a 
coffee-house for gambling. In another part of the city, an 
assemblage of specimens of the fine arts, busts, medallions. 

^*' The recurrent yellow fever epidemics at New Orleans were due in no small 
degree to the former unsanitary condition of the city. Throughout the nine- 
teenth century, her sewage was poured into open gutters, and not until 1899 
were active steps taken to construct a sewerage system conforming to the prin- 
ciples of modem sanitary science. The low level of the city made the drainage 
droblem a difficult one from the engineering point of view. — Ed. 

^^' The first Protestant congregation in New Orleans was the Christ Protes- 
tant Episcopal Church. It was organized in the autumn of 1805, but did not 
erect a building until 1816. No other Protestant organization existed in the 
city until the efforts of Rev. EUas Cornelius, of Connecticut, led to the formation 
(1818) of a Presbyterian congregation under the pastorate of Rev. Sylvester 
Lamed, a graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary. The building referred 
to in the text was erected by his congregation and its friends in 1819, on St. 
Charles Street, between Gravier and Union streets. It was destroyed by fire 
in 1851. — Ed. 

i8i8-i82o] N utt air s 'Journal 317 

mosaics, and paintings, is also associated with the dice and 

The market, at this season, by no means dear, or bearing 
any thing like a reasonable proportion with the extrava- 
gant charges of the public entertainers, appeared to be 
tolerably well supplied, though singularly managed, and 
that entirely by negro slaves, who spread out the different 
articles in petty quantities, like the arrangement of an 
apple stall, charging, however, at the rate of about 100 
per cent for the trouble. Superfine flour now sold at the 
low rate of six dollars per barrel; bacon and cheese at 10 
cents the pound, salt butter at 25 cents; sugar at seven 
dollars per cwt. ; coffee 25 to 30 dollars per cwt. ; rice seven 
dollars per cwt. Fresh beef, however, and that by no 
means good, sold at 25 cents per pound. As in the West 
Indies, the principal market appears to be on Sunday in 
the forenoon. In the afternoon the negroes assemble in 
the suburbs of the city, and amuse themselves by dancing. 
When thus assembled by common friendship, if they have 
any reflection, they must be convinced of the efficient force 
which they possess to emancipate themselves; they are, 
however, strictly watched by the police, and the sole ob- 
ject of their meeting appears to be amusement. 

Some idea of the extensive commerce carried on in the 
western states and territories with New Orleans, may be 
formed from the number of steam-boats alone, now 75 in 
number, besides other craft and shipping, which navigate 
the Mississippi and its numerous tributary streams. But 
in consequence of the general [246] and unfavourable 
fluctuation in the commerce of the United States, the 
number of these vessels is become greater than their actual 
employment will warrant. A majority also of the steam- 
boats have this year lain unemployed for more than six 

318 Early Western Travels [Vol. 13 

months, in consequence of the extraordinary lowness of 
water; but the valuable staple produce of Louisiana, must 
always insure to its inhabitants a preponderating balance 
of wealth. 




This wilderness, which we now contemplate as a dreary 
desert, was once thickly peopled by the natives, who, by 
some sudden revolution, of which we appear to be igno- 
rant, have sunk into the deepest oblivion. In the abridged 
account of the great enterprise of Ferdinand de Soto by 
Purchas, begun in the year 1539, we read of numerous 
nations and tribes, then inhabiting the banks of the Mis- 
sissippi, of whom, except the Chicafas, the Cherokees 
(called more properly Chelaques), and the small remnant 
of the Kaskaskias, and Tonicas, not an individual remains 
to reveal the destinies of his compatriots. Their extinc- 
tion will ever remain in the utmost mystery. The agency 
of this destruction is, however, fairly to be attributed to 
the Europeans, and the present hostile Indians who pos- 
sess the country. It is from these exterminating and 
savage conquerors, that we in vain inquire of the unhappy 
destiny of this great and extinguished population, and who, 
like so many troops of assassins, have concealed their out- 
rages by an unlimited annihilation of their victims. 

[248] As this part of the American history is very ob- 
scure and neglected, I shall probably be excused for intro- 
ducing it at greater length than would otherwise have been 

De Soto, after encountering considerable difficulty and 
hardship, in his progress through the interior of what then 

320 Early Western Travels [Vol. 13 

was called Florida, arrived, at length, amongst the Chica- 
gas, who occupied pretty near the same country in which 
we find them at present. The principal object of the 
commander, and those who had embarked with him from 
the island of Cuba, of which he was governor, appears, as 
usual, to have been a search for the precious metals; and 
the natives, ever willing to rid themselves of those whom 
they feared and hated, kept perpetually instigating the 
adventurers to distant pursuits. The plain, on which we 
find them encamped, previous to their proceeding across 
the Mississippi (which did not at that time bear this name), 
and to which they had been conducted by their native 
guides, could have been no other than one of the Chicasaw 
Bluffs, or ancient crossing-places, and apparently the 
lowest. While busied here in providing boats for crossing, 
they were visited by a party of the natives who descended 
the river,^*^ and declared to the governor (Soto), that they 
were the subjects of a great lord (or chief), whose name 
was Aquixo, who governed many towns, and a numerous 
people on the west side of the Great River (or Mississippi), 
and they came to inform him, that the chief with all his 
men would come to await his commands. The following 
day, the cazique^^^ arrived with 200 canoes full of Indians, 
[249] armed with their bows and arrows, painted and de- 
corated with feathers of various colours, and defended with 
shields made from the skins of the bison ; the warriors were 
numerously arranged from the head to the stem of the 
boats. The canoe of the cazique was furnished with a 
tilt over the stem, beneath which he sat, and gave his 

^** Purchas's Pilgrims, vol. IV. p. 1546. — Nuttall. 

'*^ This Peruvian title for chieftain is employed throughout the narrative, by 
Garcilasso de la Vega, the author of the history, and himself a descendant of 
the Incas, who chose to follow the fortunes of Soto, one of the conquerors of his 
country. — Nuttall. 

i8i8-i82o] Nuttair s 'Journal 321 

commands. The canoes of the lesser chieftains were also 
equipped in the same manner. Approaching the bank, 
the cazique addressed the governor, saying, he came to 
visit, to honour, and obey him, inasmuch as he was the 
greatest lord upon earth, and that he now waited his com- 
mands. The governor returned him thanks, and desired 
him to come on shore to hold some further communication. 
Without, however, attending to this request, the chief sent 
a present to the governor of three canoes loaded with fish, 
and loaves made of the pulp of persimmons."" Receiving 
this present, the governor again invited him to the shore, 
but without success. The cazique, baffled in his purpose 
of deceiving Soto, whom he found in readiness, began now 
to row off, on which, the governor instantly ordered the 
cross-bow-men to fire a volley at the natives, in which five 
or six of them fell. Still they retired in good order, not 
a man deserting his oar, though his fellow warrior dropped 
at his side. They afterwards attempted several times to 
land, but as often fled to their canoes on the approach of 
the Spaniards. The canoes were very large and well made, 
being also decorated with tilts, plumes, paveses, and flags. 

The river (Mississippi) de Soto found to be almost a 
mile broad. A man who stood still could scarcely be 
discerned from the opposite shore. The current was 
strong and deep, with the water always muddy, and con- 
tinually charged with floating trees. 

[250] Having passed the Rio Grande (as he calls it), and 
travelled up the bank about three miles, he came to a great 
town of Aquixo, from whence the inhabitants had fled. 
They discovered a party of 30 Indians coming over the 
adjoining plain to reconnoitre their movements, but on 
perceiving the Spaniards they instantly fled. They were, 

"" Called Prunes by the Spaniards. — Nuttall. 

322 Early Western Travels [Vol. 13 

however, pursued by the cavalry, who killed 10 of them, 
and took 15 prisoners. As the town to which Soto pro- 
ceeded was situated near to the bank of the river, he left 
a detachment to bring up the boats, and proceeded with 
the rest of his armament by land, but finding it diSicult to 
keep along the bank, which was obstructed by the entrance 
of creeks, left the boats exposed to the annoyance of the 
natives, but understanding which, he instantly dispatched 
a party of cross-bow-men to their defence. Here he broke 
up the boats, but saved the iron for future contingencies. 
The following day, he proceeded up the river in quest of 
the province called Pacaha, which he was informed lay 
contiguous to Chisca, where the Indians had told him of 
the existence of gold. On his way he passed through 
great towns of Aquixo, from all of which the inhabitants 
had fled at his approach. Here he was informed, by 
some of the natives whom they had taken, that three days 
journey further up the river there dwelt a great cazique 
named Casqui.^" He crossed a small river upon a bridge, 

^* The same apparently with Kaskaskia, spelled Kaskasquia by Father 
Charlevoix, and Caskaquia by Du Pratz. This band, as well as the Kahoquias, 
Tamaroas, Peorias, and Pimeteois, formed part of the Illinois nation, now 
nearly aU extinct, though they could once enumerate as many as twenty thou- 
sand souls. They were found inhabiting the rivers which still retain their name, 
and have fallen before the Iroquois, and the Chicasa nations, with whom they 
waged war. Their name of Illinois, or Illinese of La Hontan, so much like 
Leni-Lenape, or that of the Delawares, and signifying, in common vsdth that 
appellation, the original or genuine men, besides the tradition of their having 
come in company with the Miamies from the borders of Hudson's bay or the 
North Pacific, and their speaking nearly the same language, as related by Char- 
levoix,* appear as so many proofs of the common origin of these two people. It 
is also related by the same author (before their arrival in the country, which 
they so extensively occupied in the time of Soto's incursion, and in which they 

* Fifty years ago (1720) the Miamis were settled at Chicago, and were, at this time, 
"divided into three villages, one at the river St. Joseph, a second on Miami of Lake Erie, 
and the third called the Watanons of the Wabash." "There is scarcely a doubt," adds 
Charlevoix, "but that this nation and the Illinois were not long since one people, consider- 
ing the affinity of their languages." Charlevoix, Hist. Journ. p. 114. 

i8i8-i82o] NuttalV s 'Journal 323 

[251] and the rest of the day, until sun-set, they were con- 
tinually wading in water either waist or knee deep. At 
length, they gained the dry land, and congratulated them- 
selves, as they were under some apprehension of passing 
the night in that dismal situation. At noon they arrived 
at the first town of Casqui, and found the Indians unpre- 
pared for resistance. Here the Spaniards took many of 
both sexes prisoners, and considerable stores of garments^" 
and skins, as well in the first town, as in a second, which 
was surprised by the cavalry, and lay about half a league 
distant. They found this country to be higher, drier, and 
more champaign than any part which they had yet seen 
contiguous to the river; from which we are fully satisfied, 
that the country thus described, can be no other than the 
Little Prairie, and that chain of high lands which continues 
to New Madrid, in the vicinity of which, there are also 
many [252] aboriginal remains. The neighbouring fields 
abounded with walnut trees, bearing round nuts with soft 
shells, and with leaves which they considered to be smaller 
than usual f^^ of these nuts the Indians had collected a 
store for use. Here they also found mulberries, and red^" 
and grey plumbs.^^** The trees appeared as fruitful as if 
they had been protected in orchards, and the woods gen- 
erally were very thin. De Soto continued travelling two 
days through the country of Casqui before he arrived at 

lived till the period of their approaching extinction), they had settled along the 
borders of the river des Moins, or Moingona, of the Mississippi, virhich gave 
name to one of their tribes. The friendship which they cultivated, about a 
century ago, with the Osages, and the Arkansas, who are the same people, and 
some incidental resemblances between them, lead us to believe them also com- 
monly related by language and descent. — Nuttall. 

^^ These "mantels," as they are called by Purchas, were fabricated from 
coarse threads of the bark of trees and nettles. — Nuttall. 

^^ Probably Pecans {Carya olivceformis) . — Nuttall. 

^" Prunus chicasa ? — Nuttall. 

^"* P. hiemalis. — Nuttall. 

324 Early Western Travels [Vol. 13 

the town inhabited by the cazique; most part of the way 
was over champaign country, -filled with great towns, al- 
ways within view of each other. Soto sent an Indian to 
announce his arrival to the cazique, desiring his friendship 
and fraternity. To which he answered, by graciously 
bidding him welcome, and making an offer of his services 
to accomplish all that he requested. The chief also met 
him with a present of skins, garments, and fish. After 
which compliments de Soto found all the inhabitants of 
the towns peaceable and friendly, and their chiefs and 
elders coming out to congratulate him with presents. The 
cazique, attended by a numerous train of his people, re- 
spectfully awaited the approach of the governor, about half 
a league from the town. 

Friendly compliments were again exchanged, and the 
cazique made an offer of his houses for de Soto to lodge 
in; he, however, excused himself from accepting this 
civility on prudential motives, and encamped in the ad- 
joining fields. 

The cazique went to the town, and afterwards returned 
again accompanied by many Indians singing. As soon as 
[253] they arrived in the presence of the governor, they all 
prostrated themselves upon the ground. After which, the 
cazique besought him, as he was the son of the Sun, and 
a great lord, to restore two blind men to their sight, which 
he had brought along with him. The governor, however, 
excused himself, and referred him to the Supreme Being 
and author of health, and, on the occasion, had a cross set 
up for them to worship, in remembrance of Jesus Christ, 
who died thereon. 

The governor now inquired of the chief the distance to 
Pacaha, and was told, that it was one day's journey; that 
at the termination of the country of Casqui, there was a 

i8i8-i82o] Nuttair s 'Journal 325 

lake like a brook, which ran into the Mississippi (or Rio 
Grande), and that he would send men before him to con- 
struct a bridge for his convenience in passing it. The 
same day the governor took his departure, he lodged at a 
town belonging to Casqui; the following, he passed some 
other towns, and came to the lake, which was half a cross- 
bow shot over, deep, and running with a considerable cur- 
rent. The bridge, constructed of logs, was completed on 
his arrival. The cazique of Casqui attended upon the 
governor, accompanied by his people. 

The cazique of Pacaha, it appears, was at enmity with 
the Casqui, and fled at the approach of Soto and his sup- 
posed allies, notwithstanding his endeavours to pacify 
them. Some of them, whom he took prisoners in an 
adjoining town, would have fallen victims to their natural 
enemies but for his interposition. In the town which they 
sacked, they found great store of woven garments, besides 
deer skins, lion skins (panther skins, in all probability), as 
well as bear and cat skins. They also found targets of 
bison hides. 

[254] De Soto, at length, entered into Pacaha, and took 
up his lodging in the town where the chief was accustomed 
to reside ; which is described as large, walled, and defended 
with towers, through all which were cut loopholes for arms. 
The town was well supplied with maize, besides a promis- 
ing harvest then in the field. Within from a mile and a 
half to three miles, were also other large towns, sur- 
rounded with enclosures of pickets. That now occupied 
by de Soto, was situated contiguous to a large lake, which 
filled a ditch thrown up nearly round the town. By a weir 
thrown over the outlet of the lake, abundance of fish were 
continually ready for the use and amusement of the chief, 
and with the nets which the Spaniards found in the town. 

326 Early Western Travels [Vol. 13 

they supplied themselves to their utmost satisfaction. 
Amongst them we readily recognize the Silurus or Cat-fish, 
which the natives called Bagres; those of the lakes were 
about the bigness of pikes, but in the river (Mississippi), 
they occasionally found some which weighed upwards of 
loolbs. There was another which they called the Pele- 
fish, destitute of scales, and with the upper jaw extended 
in front a foot in length, in the form of a peel or spatula."^ 

From this place, De Soto despatched a troop of 30 
horse and 50 foot to the province of Calufa, to ascertain 
the practicability of proceeding to Chisca, where the 
natives, it may be remembered, had informed him of the 
existence of a mine of gold and of copper. The country 
over which [255] they proceeded, for seven days, was an 
uninhabited desert (probably in consequence of inunda- 
tion), and they returned almost exhausted with famine and 
fatigue, existing almost entirely upon green plums, and 
stalks of maize, which they found in a poor town of six or 
seven houses.^^* From thence, towards the north, they 
learnt that the country was very cold and thinly settled, 
and so overrun with herds of bison, that it was scarcely 
possible to defend their maize from depredation ; they also 
afforded the principal article of provision on which the 
natives subsisted. 

Perceiving no possibility of supplying his troops in 

^^^ Of this singular fish, I received circumstantial accounts at the Post of 
Arkansa. It also exists in the Ohio, and is the Platyrostra edentula of Lesueur, 
described in the Journal of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, 
vol. i. part 2, pp. 227, 228, and 229, and alhed to the Polyodon of Lacepede. 
The plain description of this very local and curious animal, affords additional 
evidence, if it were necessary, of the truth of the relations of Garcilassa de 
la Vega, notwithstanding the scepticism of some of the later French writers. — 


^' This inundated country appears to be the Great Swamp, which com- 
mences below Cape Girardeau, said to be 60 miles long. — Ntjttall. 

i8i8-i82o] Nuttair s journal 327 

marching over this desert country, de Soto, from the in- 
formation of the Indians, determined to change his course 
and proceed towards the south, where he had information 
of the existence of a great province called Quigaute, 
affording abundance of provision. To this country the 
governor now directed his march, and, at length, arrived 
in the town usually occupied by the chief; by the way he 
received presents, of numerous skins and woven garments, 
but the cazique, justly afraid to meet the invaders of his 
country, absented himself from them. This town is re- 
corded by La Vega, to have been the largest which they 
had yet seen in Florida. 

According to their custom, the Spaniards took all the 
men and women whom they could conveniently seize as 
their prisoners. This arbitrary step produced the desired 
effect, and they now all came forward to prove their obedi- 
ence to the mandates of the general. The cazique and 
his two wives were detained in the house of the governor, 
who made inquiry of them concerning the neighbouring 
[256] country and its inhabitants. They said, that to- 
wards the south, down the river, there were large towns, 
and chiefs who governed extensive countries and numer- 
ous people; and that, toward the north-west, there was a 
province, contiguous to certain mountains, called Coligoa. 
To this place the governor and all his officers resolved to 
go, supposing that, as a mountainous country, it might, in 
all probability, afford mines of the precious metals. The 
country, which they had yet seen on the western borders 
of the Mississippi, was low and alluvial, and promised 
nothing but agricultural wealth, which had never entered 
into the sinister views of these El Dorado adventurers. 
The distance from Pacaha to Quigaute they considered to 
be about 200 miles. 

328 Early Western Travels [Vol. 13 

They now proceeded for seven days through desolate 
forests, abounding in shoal lagoons, affording an abun- 
dance of fish. The Indians of Coligoa had never before 
seen Europeans, and at their approach fled up the river, 
near to whose banks their town was situated. The chief, 
however, and a number of both sexes, were taken prisoners 
by the orders of Soto. Presents of garments and deer 
skins were brought in to the governor, and among them 
were two robes of the bison,^" which, within 10 or 12 miles 
of their town, were said to be abundant, and that the coun- 
try was cold and thinly inhabited. ^^^ 

Here our adventurers were again informed of a fertile 
and well inhabited country, called Cayas, still lying 
towards the south. From Quigaute to Coligoa, they sup- 
posed the distance to be about 80 miles. The soil here 
[257] appeared to be extremely productive, and was planted 
with maize, kidney beans, and pumpkins. The chief of 
Coligoa provided them with a guide to Cayas, but did not 
accompany them in person. After a journey of five days, 
they came to a province called Palisema. The chief left 
his house for de Soto in a state of preparation, but did not 
wait an interview. A party of horse and foot were sent 
to detect him, but returned without success; they met with 
many people, but, in consequence of the roughness of the 
country, detained none of them as prisoners, except a few 
women and children. The town was small and scattered, 
and but ill supplied with maize. He afterwards pro- 
ceeded to another town called Tatalicoya, and carried 
with him the chief, who conducted him in four days to 

'*'' Called ox-hides. — Nuttall. 

^^ This mountainous country and province of Coligoa, was, in all proba- 
bility, situated towards the sources of the St. Francis, or the hills of White river. 
— NxrrTALL. 

i8i8-i82o] Nuttair s yournal 329 

Cayas. De Soto was disappointed by the scattered ap- 
pearance of the population in this province, and imagined 
he had been deceived, but was informed, that the space 
inhabited was very considerable, and the land fertile. The 
town which they arrived in was called Tanico,^^® and was 
situated near to a river. The governor spent a month in 
the province of Cayas, which abounded with maize and 
pasturage for their horses. In the neighbourhood there 
was a lake of very hot and somewhat brackish water. 
Here the party provided themselves with salt, which they 
had long been in want of, and which they found the 
natives in the practice of using and fabricating from this 

From Cayas, de Soto proceeded to Tulla, but here he 
found the town abandoned at the news of his approach. 
The chief, however, came accompanied by 80 Indians, 
[258] who brought with them a present of bison robes, 
which, at this advanced season of the year, proved very 
acceptable to the party. La Vega greatly admired the 
decorum and propriety with which these natives behaved 
in their intercourse and addresses to the governor. Tow- 
ards the west, de Soto was informed of a thinly inhabited 
country, but that towards the south-west, there were great 
towns, especially in a province called Autiamque, ten 
days' journey from Tulla, or about 160 miles, and a coun- 
try well supplied with maize. To this place they pro- 
ceeded, after dismissing the two caziques of Cayas and 
TuUa, with an intention of spending the winter which 
now approached, and which they expected would detain 
them for the space of two or three months. They pro- 

^' The same people with the Tunicas, called also Tonicas, by Charlevoix 
and Du Pratz. — Nuttall. 

^'^ These are evidently the salt waters of the Washita. — NtrrrALL. 

3 30 Early Western Travels [Vol. 13 

ceeded five days over very rough mountains, and at length 
came to a town called Quipana,^" situated between hills. 
Here awaiting in ambush, they succeeded in taking two 
Indians, who told them that Autiamque was six days' 
journey distant, and that there was another province 
towards the south, eight days' journey off, abounding in 
maize and well peopled, which was called Guahate; but, 
as Autiamque was nearer, the governor proceeded in that 
direction. After travelling three days, they came to a 
town called Anoixi; previous to entering, he surprised it 
by a troop of horse and foot, and took many men and 
women prisoners. Within two days after, they entered 
another town called Catamaya, and lodged in the adjoin- 
ing fields. Two Indians came with a pretended message 
from the chief, to learn the intention of the Spaniards. 
Soto desired them to tell their lord, that he wanted to hold 
a conference with him. But the Indians never returned, 
nor any other message [259] from the cazique. The fol- 
lowing day they entered the town, which was deserted by 
its fearful inhabitants, and in it they found as much maize 
as they wanted. That day they lodged in a forest, and 
the following they arrived at Autiamque. Here they 
found abundance of maize, French beans, walnuts, and 
prunes (or persimmons dried) ; they also took some of the 
natives busied in carrying off the provision which their 
wives had hidden. The surrounding country was open 
and well inhabited. The governor lodged in the best part 
of the town, and fortified his troops by a strong picket fence 
after the manner of the natives. Near to the town, there 
was a river (the Washita), which passed through the 
province of Cayas, and which was every where well peo- 
pled. They spent three months in Autiamque, and were 

^" Probably the same as the Quapaws. — Nuttall. 

i8i8-i82o] NuttaWs 'Journal 331 

well supplied with provision, amongst which La Vega 
enumerates conies (or hares), some of which were larger 
than those of Spain ; these the natives caught by means of 
spring traps. The snow was here so considerable, that 
for one month they never left the town, except for fire- 
wood, and were obliged to follow the path which was 
beaten on purpose by the horsemen. 

On the 6th of March, 1542, de Soto departed from 
Autiamque, and proceeded to Nilco, which the Indians 
said was contiguous to the Mississippi (or Rio Grande), 
from whence it was his determination to proceed to the sea, 
and procure a reinforcement of men and horses, as now 
he had but 400 men left out of the thousand with which 
he landed, and 40 horses, some of which were become 
lame. De Soto here experienced an irreparable loss in 
the death of John Ortiz, a Spaniard, who had accom- 
panied the previous expedition of Pamphilo de Narvaez, 
being taken prisoner by the natives of the bay of Spirito 
[260] Santo, in East Florida, amongst whom he had ac- 
quired much of the manners and language of the Indians. 
Besides his loss as an interpreter, they were likewise 
bereft of a guide, and made many unnecessary wanderings 
and errors in their route. They spent 10 days in travel- 
ling from Autiamque to a province called Ayays; and 
came again to a town situated near to the Washita (or the 
river of Cayas and Autiamque). Here he passed the river 
by means of a boat which they built on purpose, but for 
four days after they could not travel for snow. When the 
snow had now ceased, they went through a wilderness, 
and a country so enswamped and full of lakes, that they 
travelled one time a whole day in water from the knee to 
the stirrup, and sometimes they were obliged to swim. 
At length, they arrived at a town called Tutelpinco, which 

332 Early Western Travels [Vol. 13 

was abandoned, and destitute of maize; near to it there 
passed a lake communicating with the river, by an outlet 
which now ran with a considerable current. 

De Soto spent a whole day in seeking a passage across 
this lake, and all without success. Returning at night to 
the town, he met with two Indians, who showed him the 
passage, which they effected the following day by means 
of hurdles or rafts of cane. After travelling three days, 
they came to a town of the territory of Nilco, called Tianto. 
Here they took 30 natives, and among them two chiefs. 
De Soto, according to his custom of levying contribution 
on the natives, dispatched a party beforehand to Nilco, 
to prevent the Indians from gaining time to carry away 
their provision. The party passed through three or four 
large towns, and in the town where the chief resided, which 
was four mOes from where the governor had remained, 
they found many Indians armed with their bows and 
arrows, standing apparently on the defensive. But as soon 
[261] as the Spaniards began to approach, without more 
ado, they set fire to the house of the chief, and fled 
over a contiguous lake, which was not fordable for the 

The next day they arrived at Nilco, and lodged in the 
cazique's town, which stood in a prairie, and was in- 
habited for the space of half a mile. Within three miles 
were other large towns, well stored with the usual kind of 
provision. The Spaniards considered this as the best 
inhabited country which they had seen in Florida, except 
Cofa and Apalache. A deputation came to Soto in the 
name of the chief, with a present of a garment of fur, and 
a string of pearls, to which the commander made a suitable 
return. This Indian promised to return in two days, but 
never fulfilled his promise, and in the night, the Indians 

i8i8-i82o] Nuttair s 'Journal 333 

were perceived carrying away their maize, and erecting 
cabins on the opposite side of the river. 

This river, which ran by NUco, was again recognized 
as the same which passed by Cayas and Autiamque, and 
from its contiguity to the Mississippi, appears to have 
been the Red river. Near to its confluence, was situated 
what La Vega calls the province of Guachoya. Three 
days after his arrival at Nilco, the commander came to 
Guachoya, where he hoped to hear of the sea, and recruit 
his men while the brigantines should be building, which 
he intended to dispatch to the Spanish settlements. He 
took up his residence in the town of the chief, which was 
fortified with pickets, and situated about a cross-bow shot 
from the Mississippi. 

The chief of Guachoya came to the commander, ac- 
companied by many of his people, who brought presents 
of fish, dogs, deer skins, and woven garments. He was 
asked concerning the distance from hence to the sea, to 
which [262] he could receive no answer, and was, more- 
over, informed that no more towns or settlements were to 
be met with on that side of the river in descending. Soto 
suspecting the truth of this disagreeable information, sent 
one of his officers with eight horsemen down the river 
to acquire more certain intelligence, and to learn, if 
possible, the distance and practicability of proceeding to 
the sea. This messenger travelled eight days through 
sunken lands, and was not able to proceed in all that time 
more than about 30 miles, in consequence of the obstruc- 
tion of bayous, cane brakes, and almost impenetrable 
forests, which were entirely destitute of habitations. 

At this news, as well as at the desperate situation of his 
affairs, the commander fell sick with despondence. But 
previous to taking to his bed, he sent an Indian messenger 

334 Early Western Travels [Vol. 13 

to the chief of Quigalta, to declare to him, that he was of 
the offspring of the sun (a pretention which was supported 
by the princes of the Natchez), and that, as such, he had 
been every where obeyed and served; that he requested 
him to accept of his friendship, and visit him, as he would 
be gratified by his presence; and that, as a mark of his 
esteem and obedience, he hoped he would bring something 
with him, of that which was most esteemed in his country; 
to which, however, the chief returned the following inde- 
pendent answer: 

* 'That as to his relation with the sun, he would believe 
it if he would dry up the river. He paid no visits, but, 
on the contrary, received obedience and tribute, either 
willingly or by force, from all the people with which he 
was acquainted. Therefore, if he desired an interview, 
it would be most proper for him to pay the visit. If his 
intentions were peaceable, he would be received [263] with 
hospitality, but if he wished for war, he could attend him 
in the town where he now resided, but that, for him, or 
any other mortal, he would not step back a foot." 

When the messenger returned with this unexpected 
answer, the governor was confined to his bed, and sick of 
a fever, but expressed a mortification that he was not 
immediately prepared to cross the river (Mississippi), 
which was here very rapid, and chastise the pride of this 
chief of Quigalta.^"^ The river is here described as being 
a mile in width, and 16 fathoms deep, having both banks 
thickly inhabited by the natives. 

The enterprising Soto, sensible of the approach of death, 
called around him the officers of his ruined army, and, in 
their presence, appointed Louis de Mososco de Alvarado 

'" From the geographical situation, this aboriginal province must have been 
that of the Natchez. — Nuttall. 

i8i8-i82o] NuttalV s 'Journal 335 

their succeeding captain general and governor. The 
following day, the 21st of May, 1542, Ferdinand de Soto 
died, near to the confluence of Red river with the Missis- 
sippi. Mososco, now reduced to stratagem, determined 
to conceal his death from the natives, because that Soto 
had made them believe that the Christians were immortal, 
and because they were impressed with a high opinion of 
his vigilance and valour, and, seeing him now removed 
by death, they might be instigated to take up arms against 
the miserable handful of troops that remained. Knowing 
the inconstancy of their friendship, and their credulity, 
de Soto made them believe he possessed the art of prying 
into their inmost secrets, without their knowledge; and, 
that the figure which appeared in a mirror, which he 
showed them, disclosed to him all their intentions, by 
which means they were often deterred from practising 
treachery against him. 

[264] Mososco, after concealing the body of Soto for 
three days, had him at length removed and buried in the 
secrecy of the night, near one of the gates of the town 
within the wall. The Indians, however, having seen him 
sick, suspected what in truth had happened; and, passing 
by the place of his interment, where the earth was fresh, 
the circumstance became a matter of conversation among 
them, in consequence of which, Mososco had the body 
disinterred in the night, and wrapt up with a ballast of 
sand, and committed to the deep of the river. At length, 
the chief of Guachoya inquired for Soto, and was in- 
formed by Mososco, that he was gone for a while to heaven, 
as he had often done before, and because his stay was 
now to be protracted for a considerable time, he had 
appointed him to fill his place in the interim. The chief, 
still, however, believed that he was dead, and ordered 

336 Early Western Travels [Vol. 13 

two handsome Indians to be brought and sacrificed, 
according to their custom on the death of a chief, in order 
that they might wait upon him hereafter. Mososco still 
insisted, that de Soto was not dead, but gone to heaven, 
and that of his own soldiers, he had taken such as were 
necessary to serve him, and desiring the Indians to be 
loosed, advised the chief hereafter to desist from such an 
inhuman practice. Upon this, the intended victims being 
set at liberty, one of them refused to return with his chief 
because of his inhumanity, and attached himself to 

After some deliberation concerning their intended route, 
they came, at length, to the conclusion of attempting a 
passage to New Spain over land, as more practicable than 
the way by sea. After passing through several Indian 
towns whose names are now unintelligible, we find him, at 
length, among the Naguatex (or Natchitoches). 

[265] After proceeding in a western direction, about 300 
miles from the Mississippi, they came to a river called 
Daycao, which Purchas conjectures to be the Rio del Oro 
of Cabeza de Vaca. From hence, after encountering the 
inclemencies and hardships of the commencing winter, 
they found it necessary to return to the confluence of Red 
river and the Mississippi, as it was impossible for them'to 
subsist among the wandering natives of the sterile wilder- 
ness they were approaching, and over which, the natives 
themselves merely migrated and hunted, being destitute 
of any supply of maize, and spending a wandering life, 
like that of the Arabs, subsisting upon the Tunas (prickly 
pears), and roots of the plains. 

Having returned to Minoya, considerably reduced by 
a sickness, which bordered on the typhus fever, they com- 
menced building boats for the purpose of descending the 

i8i8-i82o] Nuttair s 'Journal 337 

Mississippi to the sea. In the month of March, though 
there had not been rain previous for a month, the river 
took such a rise, that in its overflow it reached to Nilco, 
18 miles distant, and from the natives, Mososco under- 
stood that the flood was equally extensive on the opposite 
side. In the town occupied by the Spaniards, which was 
somewhat elevated, the water reached to the stirrups on 
horseback; and for two months they never stirred out of 
their houses, except on horseback or in canoes. 

From an Indian, who was tortured for the purpose, 
Mososco learnt, that the caziques of Nilco, Guachoya, 
Taguanate, and others, to the number of about 20 chiefs, 
commanding many people, had determined to fall upon 
him by treachery. The signal for the destruction of the 
Spaniards on which they had agreed, was the time of mak- 
ing a present to the commander. The Indian, who gave 
this [266] information, was detained in close confinement, 
and the day arriving for the delivery of the first presents, 
30 Indians appearing with fish, Mososco ordered their 
right hands to be cut off, and sent them back in this con- 
dition to their chief. He also sent word to the cazique of 
Guachoya, that he and the rest of the conspirators might 
come when they pleased, as he was prepared for them, 
and could readily divine all their intentions as soon as 
thought of. This circumstance threw them into conster- 
nation, and the chiefs respectively came forward to excuse 

Their boats being finished in the month of June, the 
summer flood again visited the town, and without any 
farther trouble, the boats were now launched and conveyed 
into the Mississippi. They shipped 22 of the best horses 
which they had in the camp, and of the rest they made 
provision. They left Minoya on the second of July, 1543, 

338 Early Western Travels [Vol. 13 

being now reduced to 320 men, who occupied seven brig- 
antines. They were 17 days in descending to the sea, 
which they considered to be a distance of about 500 miles 
from the place of their departure; and, indeed, pretty well 
corresponding with the present estimated distance. In 
the course of their descent, they were repeatedly attacked 
by the natives. 

On the 1 8th of July, they arrived in the gulf with a fair 
wind, and continued with a moderate breeze for two days, 
to their great astonishment still in fresh water, and were 
greatly tormented by musquetoes. After coasting two 
and fifty days, they at length arrived in the river of Panuco 
the loth of September, 1543, and were in all 311 men. 

Such is a brief sketch of this memorable expedition, 
which opened the northern hemisphere of the New World 
[267] to the enterprize and industry of the Europeans, 
and whence civilized society has derived far more lasting 
and important advantages, than could ever have accrued 
from the mere discovery of the precious metals. 



We see nothing, says CharlevoLx, in their outward ap- 
pearance that distinguishes them from the other savages 
of Canada and Louisiana. They seldom made war, living 
in quiet possession of their country, and having no am- 
bition to distinguish themselves by conquering their 
neighbours. Their despotic form of government, accom- 
panied by some taste for parade and courtly magnificence, 
and the great servility of their subjects, appeared to be 
the shadow of a departing power, and concomitant popu- 
lation, such as had been unparalleled in the history of the 
northern natives. 

1818-1820] Nuttair s 'Journal 339 

Their great chief pretended to derive his origin from 
the Sun, which was Ukewise the principal object of their 
adoration. ^®^ He was always chosen from the family of 
the nearest female relative of his predecessor, and his 
mother was also invested with considerable power,^®^ and 
considered [269] as an auxiliary chief. She, no less than 
the Great Sun, dispensed with the lives and liberties of 
their subjects. The lesser chiefs and the people never 
approached them without uttering three salutations, in a 
loud and mournful tone, which it was necessary to repeat 
on retiring, and also to walk out from their presence back- 
wards. Even when they happened to meet them, they 
were obliged to arrange themselves on either side of the 
path, and repeat the customary salutation as they passed. 
Their subjects likewise brought them the best of their 
harvests, of their hunting, and their fishing. And no per- 
son, not even their nearest relatives, or those of noble fam- 

^•^ The Hurons also, according to the same author, pretended that their 
hereditary chiefs were descended from the sun, and continued the descent by the 
females in the same manner. — Nuttall. 

^'* In a speech made to governor Clinton, in 1788, by Domine Peter, a native 
orator, on the part of the Senecas and Cayugas, the authority of the female chief- 
tains is acknowledged, by the speaker, and thus apologized. "Our ancestors 
considered it a great offence to reject the counsels of their women, particularly 
(that) of the female governesses (or chieftains). They were esteemed the mis- 
tresses of the soil (as they solely attended to the labours of agriculture). Who, 
said they, bring us into being ? Who cultivate our lands, kindle our fires (or 
administer food to the calls of hunger), but our women ? &c." Governor Clin- 
ton's Discourse, December, 181 1, App. p. 80. 

As the mothers of the slain in battle, the women had the controul of prison- 
ers, either to adopt or destroy them at will, and their interposition to procure 
peace, and stay hostilities, was universally acknowledged. We have a re- 
markable example of this in the history of the Delawares, who, at the instigation 
of the Iroquois, became a nation of mediators, and were thus said to have 
assumed one of the distingmshing functions of the female sex, and were, con- 
sequently, debarred from active war and masculine distinction. See Hecke- 
•welder's History 0} the Delawares, in the report of the Historical Committee of 
the American Philosophical Society, — Nuttall. 

340 Early Western Travels [Vol. 13 

ilies, when invited to eat with them, had a right to put their 
hand to the same dish, or to drink out of the same vessel. 
Every morning, as the sun appeared, the great chief 
came to the door of his cabin, and turning himself towards 
the East, bowed to the earth, and howled three successive 
times. A pipe dedicated to this purpose was then brought 
to him, out of which he smoked tobacco, blowing the fume 
towards the sun, and the other three quarters of the 

^'* This, which Sir William Jones considered as the ritual of the Tartars, is 
also employed by the Sioux or Naudowessies, as I have repeatedly witnessed. 

According to the observations of Mr. Wm. Bartram, the Creeks likewise 
practised the same ceremony. 

An invocation not very dissimilar to this sacred ceremony, is that of Aga- 
memnon in the Ihad; thus translated by Pope: 

Then loudly thus before th' attentive bands 
He calls the gods, and spreads his lifted hands: 

O first and greatest power ! whom all obey, 
Who high on Ida's holy mountain sway, 
Eternal Jove ! and yon bright orb that roUs 
From east to west, and views from pole to pole ! 
Thou mother Earthl and aU ye living Floods; 
Infernal Furies! and Tartarian Gods; 

Hear and be witness. 

Pope's Iliad, Book III. lines 344-354. 
According to Humboldt, in his Monumens de I'Amerique, vol. ii. pp. 54 and 
55, the Mexican cycle of 52 years was divided into four indictions of 13 years, 
in reference to the jour seasons of the year, the four elements, and the cardinal 
points. The most ancient division of the zodiac, according to Albategnius,* is 
that into four parts. "These four signs," he adds, "of the equinoxes and the 
solstices, chosen from a series of 20 signs" (the number of days in the Mexican 
month), "recal to mind the four royal stars, Aldebaran, Regulus, Antares, and 
Fomahault, celebrated in all Asia, and presiding over the seasons. t In the new 
continent, the indictions of the cycle of 52 years, formed, as we would say, the 
four seasons of the grand year, and the Mexican astrologers were pleased to see 
presiding over each period of 13 years one of the four eqviinoctial or solstitial 

signs." NUTTALL. 

* De Scientia Stellarum, cap. 2 (ed. Bonon. 1645) p. 3. 
tFirmicus, lib. vi. c. i. 

i8i8-i82o] Nuttair s 'Journal 341 

[270] The actions of the Great Chief were allowed to be 
without impeachment ; and his life, according to an ancient 
and solemn compact, could never become forfeited by his 
crimes. Indeed the death of the Great Sun was consid- 
ered the greatest national calamity which could happen, 
and superstition had brought it to be considered as an 
omen of the cessation of their theocracy, and of the de- 
struction of the world. Their sons were termed nobles, 
an honour which was likewise attainable by the merito- 
rious of inferior rank. The common people laboured 
under a degrading [271] appellation, not indeed very dif- 
ferent from the French epithet of canaille, or our own 
term the mob, or the vulgar. They carried this distinc- 
tion even into their language, as there were different modes 
of addressing the vulgar and nobles. ^^^ 

When either the male or female sun died, all their 
allouez, or intimate attendants, devoted themselves to 
death, under a persuasion that their presence would be 
necessary to maintain the dignity of their chief in the 
future world. The wives and husbands of these chiefs 
were likewise immolated for the same purpose, and con- 
sidered it the most honourable and desirable of deaths. 

^ The following example of the noble and common language of the Natchez, 
is given by Du Pratz.* In calling one of the conmion people he would say, 
aquenan, that is, "hark ye;" if to a sun or one of the nobles, the address would 
be magani, which also signifies the same. To one of the common people, calling 
at his house, he would say, tachte-cahanacte, "are you there," or "I am glad to 
see you." To a sun the same thing is expressed by the word apapegouaiche. 
Again, according to their custom, I say to one of the common people, petchi, 
"sit you down;" but to a sun, caham. In other respects the language is the 
same; as the difference of expression seems only to take place in matters relating 
to the persons of the suns and nobles, to distinguish them from the people. — 


♦Hist. Louisian. p. 328. 

342 Early Western Travels [Vol. 13 

More than a hundred victims were sometimes sacrificed to 
the names of the Great Chief. ^" The same horrible cer- 
emonies, in a more [272] Hmited degree, were also exer- 
cised at the death of the lesser chiefs. 

At the death of one of their female chiefs, Charlevoix 
relates, that her husband not being noble was, according 
to their custom, strangled by the hands of his own son. 
Soon after, the two deceased being laid out in state, were 
surrounded by the dead bodies of 12 infants, strangled by 
the order of the eldest daughter of the late female chief, 
and who had now succeeded to her dignity. Fourteen 
other individuals were also prepared to die and accompany 
the deceased. On the day of interment, as the procession 
advanced, the fathers and mothers who had sacrificed 
their children, preceding the bier, threw the bodies upon 
the ground at different distances, in order that they might 
be trampled upon by the bearers of the dead. The corpse 
arriving in the temple where it was to be interred, the 14 
victims now prepared themselves for death by swallowing 
pills of tobacco and water, and were then strangled by the 
relations of the deceased, and their bodies cast into the 
common grave, and covered with earth. 

The Natchez, together with the remains of the Grigras 
and Thioux, who had become incorporated with them, did 

^'" Among the Mexicans, prisoners, rather than domestics and attendants, 
were devoted to death at the obsequies of the great, as victims to that spirit of 
revenge so deeply cherished by savage or barbarous nations. So even Achilles, 
lamenting over the body of Patroclus, says, x 

Ere thy dear relics in the grave are laid, 
Shall Hector's head be offer' d to thy shade; 
That, with his arms, shall hang before thy shrine; 
And twelve the noblest of the Trojan line, 
Sacred to vengeance, by this hand expire: 
Their lives effus'd around thy flaming pyre. 

Pope's Iliad, Book XVIII. lines 391-396.— Nuttall. 

i8i8-i82o] Nuttair s 'Journal 343 

not, in 1720, amount to more than 1200 warriors.^^^ Only 
six or seven years prior to this period, their warriors were 
estimated at 4000. This rapid decrease they attributed 
to the prevalence of contagious diseases, by which they 
had been wasted, for it does not appear that they were 
ever addicted to war, having long lived in peace with the 
neighbouring nations, who venerated their sacred insti- 
tutions, and acknowledged their political ascendancy and 
power. Their dominion once extended from the borders 
of bayou [273] Manchac to the banks of the Ohio, and 
they numbered not less than 500 suns or caziques. De- 
scended from, and confederated with them, were the Taen- 
sas of the Mobile, and the Chetimashas of bayou Plac- 
quemine, remnants of whom still exist, not far from the 
sites where they were first found by the French colonists, 
and against whom they waged an unsuccessful war. 

The Natchez had a distinct tradition of migrating to 
the Mississippi, from the coast of the Gulf of Mexico, at 
two distinct periods of time. A part of the nation (prob- 
ably about the period of the first establishment of the 
Mexican monarchy) fled from the threatening oppression 
of their natural enemies, and living in undisturbed tran- 
quillity for several generations in their newly acquired 
territory, they became very populous, and were only 
joined by the Great Sun after the arrival and invasion of 
the Spaniards, with whom at first they had entered into 
an alliance. As to their ultimate oriental origin, it ap- 
pears to be merely connected with their presumption of a 
descent from the sun, which first illuminates the eastern 
hemisphere. It was this superstition which proved so 
fatal to the Mexicans, who venerated as a celestial race 
the Spanish conquerors, because they had arrived from 

*** Du Pratz Hist. Louisian. p. 313 {Ed. Lond.). — Nuttaxl. 

344 Early Western Travels [Vol. 13 

the region of the rising sun. Traces of the natural wor- 
ship of the two great luminaries of day and night, were 
every where visible throughout the regions of the New 
World, and continue to be practised by those who are 
still unbiassed by the influence of the European nations.^^^ 
The Hurons, no [274] less than the Muyscas of the plain 

^* The great Deity of the savages of the river Bourbon, and the river St. 
Therese, Hudson's Bay, is the sun. When they deUberate on any important 
affair, they make him, as it were, smoke. They assemble at day-break in a 
cabin of one of their chiefs, who, after having hghted his pipe, presents it three 
times to the rising sun; then he guides it with both hands from the east to the 
west, prajdng the sun to favour the nation. This being done, all the assembly 
smoke in the same pipe. Charlevoix, Hist. Journ. p. io8 (Ed. Lond.). The 
Sioux also practise the same rites. 

Gookin, in 1674, says, "Some, for their God, adore the sun; others the 
moon; some the earth, others the fire, and like vanities. Yet, generally, they 
acknowledge one great supreme doer of good; and him they call Woonand or 
Mannitt; another, that is, the great doer of evil or mischief; and him they call 
Mattand, which is the Devil, &c." Compare this relation with the invocation 
of Agamemnon, already quoted, from which it scarcely differs in any particular. 

Traces of the adoration of the sun are discoverable also in Colden's History 
of the Five Nations, not only among the Iroquois, but also with the neighbouring 
nations : thus among the attestations to a treaty of peace made with the Iroquois, 
by a band of the Utawas, we find the following. ' ' Let the sun, as long as he 
shall endure, always shine upon us in friendship." With which apostrophe was 
delivered a figure of the sun, sculptured of red marble.* A similar figure was 
again presented to the Five Nations by the Utawas and a branch of the Hurons 
(called Dionondadies) jointly, in another treaty concluded between them.f 

At a treaty in which general Harrison assisted, towards the commencement 
of the last war, the council-house being crowded, a chief arriving late was suf- 
fered to stand some time unheeded, until the general sent him a chair, as from 
his father. He refused the offer, saying, probably in allusion to their ancient 
beUef, "The sun is my father, the earth my mother, and my seat is the ground." 

The sacred, or eternal, fire is also described in the following incidental re- 
mark, made by a chief speaker of the Five Nations : ' ' Before the Christians 
arrived amongst us, the general council of the Five Nations was held at Onon- 
dago, where there has, from the beginning (or from the remotest time) been 
kept a fire continually burning, made of two great logs whose flame was 
never extinguished."! — Nuttall. 

* Colden'.s Hist. Five Nations, third edition, i. p. 115. 
tlbid. i. p. 185. 
t Ibid. vol. i. p. 176. 

1818-1820] Nuttair s ^Journal 345 

of Bogata, in the equatorial regions, personified the moon 
in their female deity, Atahentsic, who was the mother of 
the fratricide [275] Jouskeka, or the sun,"" betwixt whom 
were divided the powers of good and evil. The moon 
possessing the attributes of Hecate, and the sun those of 
Phoebus, Apollo, or Osiris the brother of Isis, or the 

"" Charlevoix, Hist. Joum. p. 249. {Ed. Land.). — Nuttall. 

^'* In ancient times, before the moon accompanied the earth (says the myth- 
ology of the Muyscas or Mozcas Indians), the inhabitants of the plain of Bogota 
lived like barbarians, naked, without agriculture, without laws, and without 
worship. Suddenly there appeared among them an aged man, who came from 
the plains east of the Cordillera of Chingasa: he seemed to be of a different 
race from that of the indigenes, for he had a long and tufted beard. He was 
known by three different names; under that of Bochica, Nemquetheba, and 
Zuhe. This aged person, after the manner of Manco-Capac, taught men to 
clothe themselves, to construct dwellings, to cultivate the earth, and to unite in 
society. He brought with him a woman, to whom tradition gave also the three 
names of Chia, Yubecayguaya, and Haythaca. This female was of an uncom- 
mon beauty, but exceedingly wicked, counteracting her husband in every thing 
which he undertook for the good of men. By her magic art she swelled the 
river Funzha to such a degree, that the water inundated the whole valley of 
Bogota. This deluge destroyed the greatest part of the inhabitants, a few only 
escaping upon the svraimits of the neighbouring mountains. The old man, 
irritated, drove the beautiful Haythaca from the earth; she then became the 
moon, which, from that period, commenced to enlighten our planet during the 
night. Afterwards Bochica, son of the sun, taking pity on the men who were 
dispersed upon the mountains, broke, with his powerful hand, the rocks which 
close the valley on the side of Canaos and Tequendama. By this opening he 
carried off the water of the lake of Funzha, reunited again the people of the 
valley of Bogota, constructed towns, introduced the worship 0} the sun, nomi- 
nated two chiefs, between whom he divided the ecclesiastic and secular power, 
and then retired, under the name of Idacanzas, into the sacred valley of Iraca, 
near to Tanja, where he devoted himself to exercises of the most austere penance, 
for the space of two thousand years. Humboldt's Vues des Cordilleres, et Monu- 
mens des Peuples indigenes de I'Amerique. Vol. I. pp. 87, 88. (Ed. Octavo.). 

The Jouskeka, who destroyed his brother, and the Atahentsic of the Hurons, 
also, in some measure, resemble the Cihuacohuatl or woman of the serpent, 
adored by the Mexicans, and figured in their hieroglyphic paintings. This 
goddess was regarded as the mother of the human race, and in the painting 
alluded to, pubUshed by Himiboldt, she is accompanied familiarly by a serpent, 
and in the same symbohcal sketch there are two smaller figures engaged in 

346 Early Western Travels [Vol. 13 

[276] The great ritual of this religion, which obtained 
throughout America, is the pipe which was filled with the 
inebriating tobacco, and smoked in offering to this great 
luminary, and to the four quarters, or the surrounding 
horizon of the visible world, which it illuminates. Asso- 
ciated with this adoration, as simple as natural, was that 
of preserving an eternal fire in some sacred place appro- 
priated to this purpose, as well as for the celebration of 
their festivals and deliberative councils. The pipe was 
brought forward on every solemn occasion, and to ratify 
every serious pledge of peace, integrity, and friendship. 
The rites of hospitality, sanctioned by this ceremony, were 
irrefragable, as well as every commercial and political con- 
tract. The Hurons say, that the Indian nations derived 
the sacred pipe from the great luminary to whom it is 
dedicated, and, that it was first presented to the western 
nation of the Pawnees,"^ a tradition which I have found 
corroborated by the nation of the Mandans and the Mini- 
tarees. Those people, as well as the Naudowessies, in- 
fluenced by an idolatrous regard for the sun, make offer- 
ings of their most valuable effects,"' and, occasionally, 
even of the lives of their prisoners. The Mexicans immo- 
lated hosts of human victims to their cruel and imaginary 

If the Natchez refrained from cruel offerings to their 
[277] gods, they failed not to sacrifice many human vic- 
tims at the death of their caziques, who pretended to de- 
rive their origin from the sun. 

combat, as if to designate the Cain and Abel of the Hebrews, and which were 
considered in Mexico as the children of the female deess. Humboldt, vol. I. 

pp. 235, 236. — NUTTALL. 

*" Charlevoix, p. 133. — Nuttall. 

*" They present robes of the bison painted with the rays of the sun, exposing 
them upon poles, set up in the prairies. — Nuttall. 

1818-1820] Nuttair s 'Journal 347 

In their other superstitions, manners, and customs, they 
dififer too little from the rest of the aborigines to tolerate 
the repetition. Their peculiar usages are in some degree 
still kept up by those confederated tribes which we call 
the Creeks or Muskogolgees, to whom they appear to have 
been more intimately related, than any other of the re- 
maining aborigines. Among these people fire is still 
venerated, and the appearance of the new moon announced 
with festivity and gladness. According to the relation of 
my venerable friend, Wm. Bartram, there existed also 
among them a language of distinction and of honour, and 
an aristocratic acknowledgment of superior and inferior 
order in their society. 

The occasion of that signal depopulation which the 
Natchez had experienced, when first discovered by the 
French, must ever remain in unaccountable uncertainty. 
The prevalence of fatal and contagious diseases at one 
period more than another, is scarcely admissible in a 
country which had ever exhibited the same aspect, and 
amongst a people who had never inhabited crowded towns 
or cities. From the migratory and unsettled character 
of the more northern natives, and their acknowledged 
superiority in arms, particularly the Iroquois, with whom 
they warred,"^ may be with more probability deduced 
the real cause of this destruction. The valley of the 
Ohio, and the interior of Kentucky and Tennessee, still 
exhibit unequivocal and numerous remains of a vast [278] 
population, who had begun to make some imperfect 
advances towards power and civilization. Works were 
constructed for public benefit, which required the united 

^'* When La Salle was among the Natchez, in 1683, he saw a party of that 
people, who had been on an expedition against the Iroquois. Tonti's account 
of La Salle's Expedition (Ed. Lond.), p. 112. — Nuttall. 

348 Early Western Travels [Vol. 13 

energy, skill, and labour of a devoted multitude. We, in 
vain, look for similar subordination among the existing 
natives; by their own tradition they destroyed this race, 
as foreigners, and gained possession of their country and 
their fortresses, abandoning them as the barbarians of the 
north did the cities of Europe, and thus prostrating every 
advance which had been made beyond the actual limits 
of savage life. 

These devoted people, the Mexicans of the north, were 
not, however, relieved by their acquaintance with the 
civilized world. They had peaceably suffered the French 
to settle around them, and assisted them when in the 
utmost want and necessity. They thus saved the lives of 
those, who were about to prove their mortal enemies and 

The first quarrel which took place betwixt the French 
and Natchez, in the year 1722, was occasioned by the 
insolence and injustice of a common soldier of the fort, 
who, demanding in an unreasonable manner a debt from 
an aged warrior of the White Apple village, proceeded 
by unjust pretences to instigate the guard to shoot him, 
which proved mortal, and for which rashness he received 
from the commander nothing more than a reprimand. 

The village, determined on revenge, fell upon two 
Frenchmen in their neighbourhood, and at last upon the 
settlement of St. Catharine. The great chief, however, 
called the Stung Serpent, at the entreaty of the command- 
ant of Fort Rosalie, succeeded in producing a cessation 
of hostilities, and soon afterwards a peace. 

Notwithstanding this favourable posture of affairs, M. 
[279] De Biainville, the governor, violating every principle 
of honour and of justice, a few months afterwards, in the 
midst of peace, surprised the unfortunate Natchez of the 

1818-1820] NuttalTs 'Journal 349 

offending village, and falling upon them in cold-blooded 
treachery, obliged them to give up their aged chief, whose 
head he had demanded of his people. 

Some years after this affair, the tyranny and injustice 
of the Sieur de Chopart, who commanded the post of 
Natchez, had nearly proved fatal to the whole of the 
French settlement in Louisiana. Soon after arriving at 
the post, he projected forming an eminent settlement, in 
order to gratify his ambition, and amongst all the situa- 
tions which he examined, none could satisfy him but the 
vUlage of the White Apple, which was not less than a 
square league in extent. The commandant, without 
further ceremony, ordered the chief to remove his huts 
and his people, as soon as possible, to some other quarter. 
To which the Sun of the Apple deliberately replied, that 
his ancestors had lived in that village for almost as many 
years as there were hairs in his head, and that therefore 
they had a just right to continue there unmolested. 

The Sun, without making any impression on the mind 
of the inexorable Chopart, withdrew, and assembled the 
council of his village, who represented to the commandant 
that, at present, their corn was only shooting, and if now 
neglected, would be lost both to themselves and the 
French, who were not numerous enough to tend it. But 
this excuse, though just and reasonable, was menacingly 

At length, the old men proposed to the commandant, 
to be allowed to remain in their village until harvest, and 
to have time to dry their corn, on condition, that each hut 
of the village should pay, at a time appointed, a basket of 
corn and a fowl, a measure which would also afford them 
[280] time to deliberate on some method of delivering them- 
selves from the tyranny of the French. 

350 Early Western Travels [Vol. 13 

This proposal succeeded with the avaricious Chopart, 
who pretended to grant them this respite as a favour. 
The Sun and council of the village, now consulted to- 
gether on the means of ridding themselves and their 
nation of the French. They entered into a secret con- 
spiracy to destroy the whole settlement at a blow, on that 
odious day appointed for the delivery of the stipulated 
tribute. They were also to endeavor to gain over the 
other neighbouring nations into the plot, in order to com- 
plete their success, and accelerate the fatal project. 

To obtain uniformity in the execution, bundles of rods, 
equal in number, were to be delivered to their several 
allies, and also retained by themselves in the recess of their 
temple; one of which was to be withdrawn and broken 
each day, until the accomplishment of the stated period."* 

The secret councils which were held among the nobles 
and elders, gave some alarm to the people, and aroused 
the curiosity of the Stung Arm, mother to the Grand Sun, 
who, at length, wrung from this chief the fatal secret. 
Influenced either by caprice or compassion, she destroyed 
the concert of the execution, which was to have been sec- 
onded by the Choctaws, by withdrawing a number of the 
rods, and so hastening the approaching time of the mas- 
sacre. All the warnings which she gave to the commander 
and other individuals, were treated with disdain, as the 
effects of fear and cowardice. 

On the eve of St. Andrew, 1729, the Natchez left their 
towns preparatory to the execution of their plot, and to 
show their contempt for the commandant, they had left 
his execution in the hands of one of the vulgar, who was 
[281] armed with a wooden hatchet, no warrior deigning 

"* This method of recording the lapse of time was also practised by the 
Chicasas and Muskogolgees, according to the relation of Adair. — Nuttall. 

1818-1820] Nutt air s 'Journal 351 

to kill him. At the time appointed, the massacre became 
general and instantaneous, and of about 700 persons, but 
few escaped to bear the fatal intelligence to New Orleans, 
the capital. 

The Choctaws were greatly displeased at the accelera- 
tion of the period appointed for the accomplishment of 
the plot by the Natchez, and were, in consequence, easily 
induced, soon afterwards, to join the French against them. 
Arriving early in the following spring, the troops appointed 
by M. Perier, then governor of Louisiana, joined by the 
Choctaws, made their attack on the fort of the Natchez. 
After the lapse of several days employed in firing without 
any great effect, the besieged, fearing the worst, began to 
sue for peace, and offered as a condition to deliver up all 
their prisoners. The Natchez gaining time by these 
offers of pacification, took advantage of the following night, 
and evacuated their fort with all their families, baggage, 
and plunder. 

After the Natchez had abandoned the fort, it was de- 
molished to the ground. 

A short time after their flight, determined on revenge 
against the Tonicas, who were allies of the French, they 
destroyed them by stratagem, under pretence of offering 
them terms of peace. 

The Natchez had now abandoned the east side of the 
Mississippi, and fortified themselves near to Silver creek 
connected with the Washita. 

M. Perier and his brother, with a considerable arma- 
ment, penetrated to the retreat of the unfortunate Natchez, 
who, struck with terror at the sight of their relentless and 
formidable enemies, shut themselves up in their fort, and 
abandoned themselves to despair and desperation. Soon 
after the battery had commenced, a bomb [282] happening 

352 Early Western Travels [Vol. 13 

to fall in the midst of their fort amongst the women and 
children, they were so struck with terror and grief at the 
cries of the helpless, that they instantly made the signal of 
capitulation. They, however, started difficulties again to 
obtain time. The night was granted them, and they 
attempted a second flight, but were, for the greatest part, 
checked and obliged to retire into the fort. Those who did 
escape, joined a party who were out a hunting, and they 
altogether retired to the Chicasaws."^ The rest surren- 
dered themselves prisoners, among whom were the Grand 
Sun, and the female chiefs; they were carried to New 
Orleans in slavery, and there consigned to prison, but were 
shortly after sold in the king's plantations. Bent upon 
their annihilation, the French afterwards transported them 
to St. Domingo, and in this way terminated the fate of the 
Natchez as a nation, whose only fault was that of patriot- 
ism, and an inviolable love of rational liberty. 

It appears that the small party who had sought refuge 
among the Chicasaws, still insecure from the bitter hostili- 
ties of the French, had at last retired into the country of 
the Creeks; and, at this time occupy a small village called 
Natchez, on the banks of the Tallipoosee, whose chief, 
Coweta, fought under the banners of general Jackson. 
Their language (said to be destitute of the letter r), and 
their positive affinities to any existing nation of the abo- 
rigines, has never yet been ascertained, and remains open 
to the inquiries of the curious, who will not probably long 
enjoy the advantage of contemplating the character of this 
feeble fragment of a once numerous, powerful, and ra- 
tional people. 

^" Mr. Brackenridge adds, that, after the defeat by Perire, about 200 of the 
Natchez fortified themselves some distance up Red river, but were attacked and 
destroyed by St. Dennis. Hist. Louisiana, p. 44. — Nuttall. 

i8i8-i82o] Nuttair s 'Journal 353 



The Chicasaws and Choctaws, who speak a language 
considerably related, entertain a tradition in common 
with the Iroquois, the Delawares, the Illinois, and most 
of the nations of North America, of having once migrated 
from the west, and crossed the Mississippi to their present 
residence. They are said to derive their name from two 
distinguished leaders, Choctawby and Chicasawby, who 
instigated their warlike and political movements. These 
personal appellations were frequently employed by the 
aborigines in the time of Soto, who speaks, for example, 
of the Kaskaskias and others by those who then held the 
rule, as the cazique or chief of Casqui, of Nilco, of Cayas, 
&c., all which, as far as still recognizable, have passed 
very improperly into so many epithets apparently national, 
but which were, in fact, as we discover both by language 
and confederation, merely so many bands of the same 
people receding from the residence of the original stock, 
either through ambitious caprice, enterprize, or necessity. 
This connection among the Delawares or Lleni-lenapes, 
affording an easy clue of origin, was always readily 
acknowledged under the epithets of grandfather, the 
original stock, and brothers or collateral descendants, by 
which were designated the receding tribes, and by a mere 
reference to which, never for a moment disputed, the pa- 
ternal and ruling authority of the ancient household was 
universally acknowledged and venerated. From a neglect 
of this genealogical analysis has arisen that confusion of 
[284] origin, and those fallacious ideas of Indian nations 
and languages which many suppose to exist; as if the 
human family in America, had ever consisted of as many 

354 Early Western Travels [Vol. 13 

paltry and radically dismembered fragments, as there were 
names employed to designate them. ^' 

It is not a little singular, that to all inquiries of ultimate 
residence which have ever been made among the American 
natives, they should so uniformly refer back apparently 
almost to the same period and the same country. The 
occasion of this simultaneous migration, however urgent 
and important, is now perpetually locked in mystery. It 
was, undoubtedly, instigated by some important human 
revolution, which appears to have set in motion a vast 
hive of the human race in search of some more commo- 
dious state of subsistence. They were too barbarous to 
have adventured in quest of pecuniary wealth, and could 
have had naturally no other object for separation greater 
than that which slowly dispersed the first patriarchs of the 
world. Their migrations, as described by the Mexicans, 
probably took up a period of ages, and the vicissitudes of 
fortune which attended their progress, unrecorded by the 
circumstantial pen of history, and limited by chronology, 
may, probably, contribute to that extraordinary appear- 
ance of simultaneous and uninterrupted movement, which 
was rather carried on through an extended cycle of time, 
than in the short space requisite to the completion of an 
expedition. There is one thing, however, certain in re- 
gard to the Chicasaws and their collateral bands, that they 
have for at least the three last centuries occupied the 
countries in which we still find them. For it was here 
that they were discovered by De Soto, and where they had 
not then apparently by any means recently established 
themselves. On what footing they had resided as near 
[285] neighbours to the Natchez, I am unable to ascertain; 
they appear from the first to have been a jealous and 
hostile nation, and became the bold, cunning, and success- 
ful enemies of the whites from their first interview with 

i8i8-i82o] NuttaW s 'Journal 355 

the Spaniards, who certainly, as wanton invaders, did not 
act in a way to conciliate the esteem of the natives. The 
Natchez asserted that they could once number no less 
than 500 Suns (or chiefs who pretended to derive their 
origin from that luminary which they adored), and that 
their possessions extended in a continual line from Natchez 
to the mouth of the Ohio. Whether they had been dis- 
possessed and reduced to the feeble state in which they 
were discovered by the French, through the enmity of the 
Chicasaws, Iroquois, or the Illinois, we cannot now deter- 
mine, though, from the contiguity of the latter, and their 
former strength, we should rather conclude them, or the 
northern confederates, to have been the destroyers of the 
Natchez, than the Chicasaws, as we find them and the 
Choctaws to have been the abettors of the Natchez, in their 
unfortunate contest with the French, yet of a character 
extremely versatile and revengeful, insomuch that the 
Choctaws, who had at one time proffered their assistance, 
withdrew it in favour of their enemies, in consequence of 
the unforeseen circumstance which to the Natchez pre- 
maturely hastened the secret attack they had concerted 
against their enemies, and which was to have been regu- 
lated by the consummation of a period of time, designated 
by a bundle of rods deposited in the temple, each of which 
counted for a day. The completion of this fatal period 
was, however, secretly hastened, to destroy the concert 
with the Choctaws, by the revengeful sister of the Great 
Sun, who, resenting the secrecy her brother had observed 
towards her, withdrew a number of [286] the tallies, and 
though by this means the main object was not defeated, 
yet it excited the fatal jealousy and enmity of the Choctaws, 
who were consequently disconcerted in completing the in- 
tended measure of vengeance. 

From the high tone in which the chief of Quigalta 

356 Early Western Travels [Vol. 13 

answered the requisitions of Soto, (and who, occupying the 
identical spot where Natchez now stands, could, by the 
concurrence of their traditions, scarcely have been any 
other than the same people), we perceive their power and 
independence, although concentrated within narrower 
limits, still highly respectable. 

In the time of Charlevoix, an active war was carried on 
betwixt the ever restless and rapacious Chicasaws and the 
Illinois, who, by them and the Iroquois, in the end appear 
to have been exterminated as a nation. 

From the situation which the Chicasaws and their 
branches occupied on this continent, from the earliest 
period of history, we may, I think, consider them as 
among the most ancient of the existing aborigines. To 
give a more correct idea of their former extent and influ- 
ence, considered in the most general point of view, I shall 
bring together their scattered branches, so as to afford a 
retrospect of the whole. Although we have chosen to 
speak of the Chicasaw as the principal band, which it 
now is, in consequence of the reduction or extinction of 
most of the rest; yet, in point of numbers, the Mobilians, 
now, I believe, extinct, must have far exceeded the Chica- 
saws. They were discovered by De Soto, dwelling in the 
vicinity of the present bay and river of Mobile. Their 
name, by De Soto, is Mouvill. Unwilling to acknowledge 
the arbitrary usurpation of their Spanish discoverers, a 
battle ensued, which, in consequence probably of the in- 
equality of arms and skill, proved very destructive [287] 
to the Mouvillians, who lost 2500 men. From so con- 
siderable a loss at the first outset, and that without a sur- 
prise, it is evident that their numbers must have been 
considerable. They were nearly extinct in the time of 
Charlevoix, who, concerning their religious rite of pre- 

1818-1820] Nuttair s 'Journal 257 

serving an eternal fire in a temple, remarks, that it ap- 
peared probable, the Mobilians had, over all the people 
of Florida, a kind of primacy of religion, for it was at their 
sacred fire that the others were obliged to kindle that, 
which, by accident or neglect, had been suffered to go 
out."' In the vicinity of the Mobilians lived also the 
Chatots, in the time of Du Pratz, occupying a village of 
about 40 huts. A little north of Fort Louis, on the Mo- 
bille, according to the same author, lived the Thomez, 
who were not more numerous than the Chatots. 

To the north of the Apalaches, who gave name to the 
mountains so called, lived the Alibamas, and to the north 
of the Alibamas, were the Abeikas and Conchacs, appar- 
ently the same people. Their language was scarcely at 
all different from that of the Chicasaws, and their name 
of conchac is the Chicasaw word for the knives which they 
formerly made of sharpened splits of cane. 

The Aquelou Pissas, formerly living within three or 
four miles of the site of New Orleans, had removed, in the 
time of Du Pratz, to the borders of lake Ponchartrain. 

Upon the Yazoo river, lived the Chacchi-oumas (or 
Red Cray-fish), consisting of about 50 huts. Not far 
from them, also dwelt the Oufe-Ogoulas (or the Nation 
of the Dog), occupying about 60 huts. The Tapoussas 
likewise lived upon the banks of this river, and had not 
more than 25 cabins. These, as well as the Oumas of the 
[288] Mississippi, who still lived on the present site of the 
great plantation of General Wade Hampton, in the time 
of the author already mentioned, did not use the letter r 
in their language, and, as well as all the above named na- 
tives, appeared to be branches of the Chicasaws, as they 
spoke either that language or its dialects. 

^" Charlevoix's Hist. Journ. p. 323. — Nuttall. 

358 Early Western Travels [Vol. 13 

Most part of these small nations, after joining the 
Natchez in their unsuccessful plot against the French, 
retired among the Chicasaws, and were finally incor- 
porated with them. 

The language of the Chicasaws, it appears, was not 
unknown on the western side of the Mississippi: the 
Caddoes or Cadoda-quioux, divided into several extensive 
branches, as well as the Natchitoches, although possessed 
of a peculiar language, as well as all the Indians of Louisi- 
ana generally, were more or less acquainted with the 
Chicasaw or Mobilian."^ And it was, no doubt, from 
this circumstance that John Ortiz, who had escaped the 
fate of the adventurers of Pamphilo de Narvaez, and who 
was discovered by De Soto living among the Indians of 
East Florida, rendered himself so easily understood 
throughout the whole of that extensive route which was 
pursued by Soto. 

From the earliest settlement of the French on the 
borders of the Mississippi, the Chicasaws evinced a hostile 
disposition, which, indeed, they had probably cherished 
from their ancestors, who had severely punished the little 
army of De Soto. Their hostility is attributed by Charle- 
voix to the friendship which subsisted between the French 
and the Illinois, their enemies. They appear, however, 
afterwards to have remained neutral, and would have [289] 
continued so, had not the tyrannical Biainville commenced 
hostilities against them, for the customary hospitality 
which they had shewn to the unfortunate remains of the 
Natchez, whom they had received and adopted. To the 
requisitions of Biainville to give up the Natchez, whom 
he was bent on exterminating, the Chicasaws answered, 
that the Natchez having sought their protection, had been 

^" Du Pratz's Hist. Louisiana, p. 318. — Nuttall. 

1818-1820] Nuttair s journal 359 

received and adopted by them, so that they now con- 
stituted but one people. If Biainville, said they, had re- 
ceived our enemies, should we demand them? or, if we 
did, would they be given up ? 

Without listening to reason, Biainville commenced war- 
like preparations against the Chicasaws. Supplies of 
ammunition were sent up the Mississippi to the post of 
Illinois, desiring the commandant to equip as many of the 
Indians, inhabitants, and troops, as possible, to join him at 
the Chicasaws, by the loth of the following May. The 
Indians attempted in vain to surprise the convoy, which, 
proceeding in safety to the fort at the mouth of the Arkansa, 
left the gunpowder there without any manifest reason, 
which Artaguette, the commandant at Illinois, under- 
standing, from those who had neglected to convey it, 
immediately sent down a boat for the purpose of obtaining 
it, which was taken by a party of the Chicasaws, after kill- 
ing all the crew except two individuals, whom they made 

In the mean time, Biainville proceeding to fort Mobile, 
engaged the Choctaws to join him as mercenaries. 

On the loth of March, 1736, the troops being assem- 
bled, began their march the 2d of April, and arrived at 
Tombecbee on the 20th, where they fortified their camp, 
and remained till the 4th of May, detained by a conspiracy 
among themselves to destroy the commandant and garri- 
son. [290] The Choctaws, who joined them, were about 
1200 in number, and commanded by their principal 

On the 26th of May, they marched to the fort of the 
Chicasaws, crossing an adjoining rivulet of considerable 
depth; the fort defended the village, which was situated 
upon an agreeable plain. This defensive position was 

360 Early Western Travels [Vol. 13 

thrown up on an eminence with an easy ascent, around it 
stood several huts, and others at a greater distance, which 
appeared to have been put in a state of defence; and close 
to the fort ran a little brook, which watered a part of the 

On approaching the fort they observed four Englishmen 
enter it, and that the British flag was flying. The attack 
was made, and obstinately maintained for a considerable 
time on both sides, but greatly to the disadvantage of the 
French. The Indians, protected by a strong stockade, 
were under cover from every attack, and could have de- 
fended themselves by their loop-holes. In addition to 
which, they formed a gallery of flat pallisadoes quite round, 
covered with earth, which screened it from the effects of 
grenadoes. Thus the troops, after lavishing their ammu- 
nition against the wooden posts of the Indian fort, were 
obliged to retreat, with the loss of 32 men killed, and 
almost 70 wounded ; and, abandoning the country, retired 
to fort Mobile, from whence the militia and Indians were 

Mr. Artaguette, with his Illinois troops and Indian allies, 
arriving in the Chicasaw country on the 9th of May, 
waited the arrival of the French until the 21st, when, 
hearing nothing of them, and fearful of the impatience of 
the Indians, made the attack with success, at first, having 
forced the Chicasaws to quit their village and fort. They 
also attacked another village with the same success, but 
[291] hurried away in the pursuit, M. d' Artaguette re- 
ceived two wounds, which caused him and a small body 
of his men, 46 soldiers and two sergeants, to be abandoned 
by the Indians, and, after defending their commander all 
that day, they were at last obliged to surrender. The 
troops under Biainville having retired, and the Indians 

i8i8-i82o] Nuttair s journal 361 

consequently finding no opportunity of gaining a ransom 
for their prisoners, put them all to death by slow fire, ex- 
cept a sergeant, who, meeting with an indulgent master, 
found means to make his escape. 

Biainville, desirous to take vengeance upon the Chica- 
saws, wrote both to France and Canada, requesting 

The reinforcements having arrived from France, pro- 
ceeded up the Mississippi to the Cliffs of Prud'homme, 
now called the Chicasaw Bluffs, where they landed, and 
fortified their encampment, which was situated on a fine 
plain, and called fort Assumption, in commemoration of 
the day on which they landed. 

They made wagons and sledges, and cleared out roads 
for the conveyance of cannon, ammunition, and every 
thing necessary for forming a regular siege. They were also 
immediately reinforced by the forces which they had 
requested from Canada, consisting of a mixed multitude 
of French, Iroquois, Hurons, Episingles, Algonquins, and 
other nations, led by the commandant of the Illinois, with 
the garrison inhabitants and neighbouring Indians, as 
many as could be brought together, and furnished with 
a considerable number of horses. 

This formidable army, the greatest that had ever been 
seen in the interior of America, remained in camp without 
undertaking any thing, from the month of August, 1739, 
to the succeeding month of March. Provisions, which 
[292] were at first in plenty, became at last so scarce, that 
they were obliged to eat up the horses, which were intended 
to draw the artillery, ammunition, and provisions. They 
were also seriously attacked by sickness, which at length 
inclined M. Biainville to have recourse to mild methods. 
He therefore detached a small body of troops and Cana- 

362 Early Western Travels [Vol. 13 

dian Indians against the Chicasaws, with orders to make 
offers of peace to them in his name, if they were inchned 
to sue for it. 

What the general had foreseen did indeed happen. For 
no sooner had the Chicasaws seen the French, followed 
by the Indians of Canada, then they apprehended the 
approach of the rest of the numerous army, and making 
signals of peace, came out of their fort in the most humble 
manner, hazarding all the consequences of such an expo- 
sure, in the hope of obtaining peace. They solemnly pro- 
tested an inviolable friendship to the French, and avowed 
that they had been instigated by the English to take up 
arms against them, and seeing their error they had already 
separated from them, and had, at that very time, two 
of that nation whom they had made slaves, and of the 
truth of which assertion, they might, if they pleased, now 
satisfy themselves. 

Lieutenant de St. Laurent, accompanied by a young 
slave, therefore, went in order to ascertain the truth of 
their professions; as he passed through the village, the 
women were heard to demand him as a sacrifice to their 
hatred, but were prevented by the men from offering him 
any injury. Peace was now instantly concluded, and a 
few days after, they accompanied the commander of the 
detachment in a considerable body, to carry the pipe of 
peace to the French governor, and to deliver up the two 
Englishmen. They behaved before M. Biainville with 
[293] the utmost submission, and offered, if necessary, to 
attest their friendship by making war upon the English. 
Thus concluded the war of the French with the Chicasaws, 
about the beginning of April, 1740. 

In the revolutionary war with Great Britain, they 
appear to have sided with the republicans; and displayed 

i8i8-i82o] Nuttair s Journal 363 

considerable fidelity and courage in the late war against 
the Creeks, under the command of general Jackson. 

After the Iroquois, we are not acquainted with any 
nation of the aborigines of North America, who have 
been so restless and enterprising as the Chicasaws, and 
who have better maintained their ground against every 
species of hostility. They have not only, says Du Pratz, 
cut off a great many nations who were adjoining them, but 
have even carried their love of war and vengeance as far 
as New Mexico, near 600 miles from the place of their 
residence, to exterminate a nation that had removed to 
that distance from them. In this enterprise they were, 
however, deceived and cut off. 

The Choctaws, still equally numerous, reckoned, in the 
time of Du Pratz, 25,000 warriors. We know but little 
of them more than a few detached customs, and the tradi- 
tion, that they had made a sudden arrival in the country 
which they now occupy. There is a small village of them 
in the vicinity of the town of Arkansas, but made up princi- 
pally of those, who had rendered themselves obnoxious 
to the rest of the nation, who, probably, as well as the 
Cherokees and Creeks, have found the necessity of intro- 
ducing corporeal and general punishments, for the benefit 
and security of society. 

As we cannot discover any mention of them by the 
historian of De Soto, they were perhaps, at that period, 
included amongst the Chicasaws. And, from the extinc- 
tion [294] of the Mobilians and other nations, met with by 
that adventurer, we are inclined to believe them the 
modern usurpers of the country which they now possess. 
Many of them live on the borders of the Yazoo, and other 
parts of the Mississippi and Louisiana territories. It is 
certain, as we have had already occasion to notice, that 

364 Early Western Travels [Vol. 13 

they made war against the Chicasaws, in aid of the French, 
and that, though they professed to aid the cause of the 
Natchez, yet that afterwards, through mere jealousy, they 
had joined with the French against them. 

The Choctaws, tUl very late years, had a practice, not 
indeed peculiar, of exposing their dead upon scaffolds till 
such time as the flesh decayed, which was then separated 
from the bones by a set of old men, who devoted them- 
selves to this custom, and were called "bone-pickers," 
after which, the bones were interred in some place set 
apart for the purpose. 

This custom unquestionably arose out of a veneration 
for the deceased, and an attachment to their remains, 
which, among a wandering and unsettled people, were 
thus conveniently removed. A circumstance of this kind 
is related by Charlevoix,"* where the Indians on removing 
their vUlage, carried with them also the bones of their 

^" Historical Joximal; p. 334. (£d. Lond.). — Nuttall. 


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