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Full text of "Solon Robinson, pioneer and agriculturist; selected writings"

LI E) RAR.Y 

OF THE 

U N I VERSITY 

Of ILLl NOIS 

630.973 

R56s 

v.a 

cop.S 



llllniiis Historical Sarvey 




Solon Robinson, about 1872 
[Courtesy of Mrs. Jenny Gross, Orleans, Vermont] 



INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 
Volume XXII 



SOLON ROBINSON 
PIONEER AND AGRICULTURIST 

Volume II 
1846-1851 



INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 



I-II. Constitution Making in Indiana (Volumes I and II), 
by Charles Kettleborough. (The Introduction, covering 
the period from 1816 to 1916, was reprinted separately.) 

III. Indiana as Seen by Early Travelers, by Harlow 
Lindley 

IV. The Play Party in Indiana, by Leah Jackson Wolford 
V. The Indiana Centennial — 1916 

VI. Gold Star Honor Roll 
VII. Messages and Letters of William Henry Harrison 
(Volume I, Governors Messages and Letters), edited by 
Logan Esarey 
VIII. War Purse of Indiana, by Walter Greenough 
IX. Messages and Letters of William Henry Harrison 
(Volume II, Governors Messages and Letters), edited 
by Logan Esarey 
X. A Sergeant's Diary, by Elmer F. Straub (Out of Print) 
XI. George W. Julian, by Grace Julian Clarke (Out of Print) 
XII. Messages and Letters of Jennings, Boon and Hen- 
dricks (Volume III, Governors Messages and Letters), 
edited by Logan Esarey 

XIII. Swiss Settlement of Switzerland County, Indiana, by 
Perret Dufour 

XIV. William Henry Harrison, by Dorothy Burne Goebel 
XV. Fort Wayne, Gateway of the West, 1802-1813, edited 

by Bert J. Griswold 
XVI. A Bibliography of the Laws of Indiana, 1788-1927, by 

John G. Rauch and Nellie C. Armstrong 
XVII. Constitution Making in Indiana (Volume III), by 

Charles Kettleborough 
XVIII. Indiana Book of Merit, compiled by Harry A. Rider 
XIX. Indiana Boundaries. Territory, State, and County, by 

George Pence and Nellie C. Armstrong 
XX. The Laws of Indiana Territory, 1809-1816, edited by 

Louis B. Ewbank and Dorothy L. Riker, with a foreword 

by Governor Paul V. McNutt 
XXI. Solon Robinson, Pioneer and Agriculturist, 1825-1845 

(Volume I), edited by Herbert A. Kellar 



STATE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION 
Floyd I. McMurray, Superintendent 



INDIANA HISTORICAL BUREAU 

Christopher B. Coleman, Director 

Nellie C. Armstrong, Editor 



SOLON ROBINSON 
PIONEER and AGRICULTURIST 



SELECTED WRITINGS 

Edited by 

Herbert Anthony Kellar 

Director, McCormick Historical Association 
Chicago, Illinois 



VOLUME II 
1846-1851 



Published by the 
INDIANA HISTORICAL BUREAU 

Indianapolis 
1936 



Copyright, 1936 

BY THE 

Indiana Historical Bureau 
State Department of Education 



FORT WAYNE: 

FORT WAYNE PRINTING CO., CONTRACTOR FOR STATE PRINTINO AND BINDING 
193 6 



L 30. 97-3 



PREFACE 



AS THE numerous illusions, with which one begins the 
. joust with life, slowly vanish with the march of 
time, it is heartening to record that the fine courtesies of 
^ the field of scholarship still abound and flourish. I allude 
^ in particular to generous aid in identifying numerous 
persons referred to by Robinson in the years 1846 to 
1851, given by Carl R. Woodward, of Rutgers Univer- 
sity; Julian P. Boyd, of the Historical Society of Penn- 
-sylvania; V. Alton Moody, of Iowa State College; Peter 
_ Nelson, of the Division of Archives and History of the 
"^ University of the State of New York; Charles Sackett 
Snydor, of the University of Mississippi; Wendell H. 
I Stephenson, John Andreassen, and E. Merton Coulter, of 
^^^Louisiana State University ; W. H. Tayloe, of Uniontown, 
Alabama ; Marie B. Owen and Peter A. Brannon, of the 
Department of Archives and History, State of Alabama ; 
Kathryn T. Abbey, of the Florida State College for 
Women ; Dr. John F. Townsend and Theodore D. Jervey, 
of Charleston, South Carolina; D. D. Wallace, of Wofford 
College; A, R. Newsome, of the University of North 
Carolina; D. L. Corbitt, of the North Carolina Historical 
Commission; Wilmer L. Hall and Morgan Robinson, of 
the Virginia State Library; Frances M. Staton, of the 
Public Library of Toronto ; Fred Landon, of the Univer- 
sity of Western Ontario ; J. J. Talman, of the Provincial 
Archives, Toronto ; Pierre Georges Roy, of the Provincial 
Archives, Quebec; the staff of the Newberry Library of 
Chicago; and especially Walter Prichard, of Louisiana 
State University, who furnished information relative to 
some twenty-seven planters of his state. 

My sincere thanks for assistance in the preparation 
of the present volume are renewed to all the individuals 
and institutions to whom acknowledgment was made in 
Solon Robinson, Pioneer and Agriculturist , Volume L 

Herbert A. Kellar 
Chicago, Illinois 
July, 1936 

vii 



CONTENTS— CALENDAR 

Documents — (Items printed in this volume are 

starred.) 

Page 

1846 Jan. ? *"Scraps from My Note Book.— No. 2." Cherokee 

Rose and Michigan Rose. American Agriculturist, 

5:90-91 (Mar., 1846) 3 

Mar. 20 Letter to W. G. and G. W. Ewing. Regarding land 

owned by Swings in Lake and Porter counties. 

Ewing Manuscripts 
Mar. "A New Arithmetical Sum." Prairie Farmer, 6:151 

(May, 1846) 
Mar. ? Reviewer [Robinson], "A Review of the March No. 

of the Agriculturist." American Agriculturist, 

5:159-60 (May, 1846) 
Mar. ? Reviewer [Robinson], "A Review of the March No. 

of the Agriculturist.— No. 2." Ihid., 5:179-81 

(June, 1846) 
Mar. ? Reviewer [Robinson], "A Review of the March No. 

of the Agriculturist.- No. 3." Ihid., 5:219-23 

(July, 1846) 
Apr. 9 *"Scraps from My Note Book. — No. 3." Mark 

Cockrill's sheep farm. Ihid., 5 :211-13 (July, 1846) . 5 
Apr. ? *"Fence and Other Matters." Prairie Farmer, 

6:151-53 (May, 1846) 11 

Apr. ? Reviewer [Robinson], "A Review of the April No. of 

the Agriculturist." American Agriculturist, 5:243- 

46 (Aug., 1846) 
May 15 *"Practical Facts about Pork and Bacon." Ihid., 

5:282 (Sep., 1846) 17 

Aug. ? Reviewer [Robinson], "Review of the August No. of 

the Agriculturist." Ihid., 5:347-49 (Nov., 1846) 
Sep. ? *Reviewer [Robinson], "Review of the September No. 

of the Agriculturist." Ihid., 5:374-79 (Dec, 1846) 20 
Oct. ? Reviewer [Robinson], "Review of October No. of the 

Agriculturist." Ihid., 6:125-27 (Apr., 1847) 
Dec. 23 "More Facts about Pork and Bacon." Ihid., 6:63 

(Feb., 1847) 
Dec. ? *Reviewer [RoVjinson], "Review of the November and 

December Nos. of the Agriculturist." Ibid., 

6:155-57 (May, 1847) 39 



X INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

Page 

1847 Jan. "A Cheap Farm-House." American Agriculturist, 

6:216-18 (July, 1847) 

Jan. ? Reviewer [Robinson], "Review of January No. of the 
Agriculturist." Ibid., 6:188-90 (June, 1847) 

Feb. ? *"Warming Houses with 'Hot Air' and Stoves." 

Prairie Farmer, 7:85 (Mar., 1847) 49 

Feb. ? Reviewer [Robinson], "Review of the February No. 
of the Agricultiu-ist." American Agriculturist, 
6:208-11 (July, 1847) 

Mar. ? "A Buckeye and Hoosier Correspondence. Quite 
Original and Rather Amusing than Otherwise." 
Daily Cincinnati Gazette, Mar. 15, 1847 

Mar. ? Reviewer [Robinson], "Review of March No. of the 
Agriculturist." American Agriculturist, 6:243-45 
(Aug., 1847) 

Apr. 25 "Comparative Weight of Pork and Bacon." Ibid., 
6:186-87 (June, 1847) 

Apr. ? Reviewer [Robinson], "Review of the April No. of 
the Agriculturist." Ibid., 6:282-84 (Sep., 1847) 

Apr. ? *"A Lecture upon the Early History of Lake Co., 

Ind." Amos Allman Collection 50 

May 24 Letter to W. G. and G. W. Ewing. Concerning land 
in Lake County. Ewing Manuscripts 

May 26?*"Temperance Song. A new version of 'Come, come 
away.' " Western Ranger, Valparaiso, May 26, 
1847 84 

May 27 *Letter to Dr. John Locke. "A Rambling Letter upon 
Geology and some other Matters." Daily Cin- 
cinnati Gazette, June 14, 1847 85 

May ? Reviewer [Robinson], "Review of the May Number 
of the Agriculturist." American Agriculturist, 
6:309-10 (Oct., 1847) 

Jime """Odds and Ends from an Odd End." Prairie Farm^, 

7:204-5 (July, 1847) 89 

Jime ? Reviewer [Robinson], "Review of June Number of 
the Agriculturist." American Agriculturist, 6:349- 
51 (Nov., 1847) 

July 20 Letter to W. G. Ewing. Concerning sale of land to 
George Earle. Ewing Manuscripts 

July *"Western Agriculture — Corn Cobs." American 

Agriculturist, 6:338-39 (Nov., 1847) 96 

Aug. 11? Letter to editors. Formation of agricultural associa- 
tions; importance of general diffusion of agricul- 
tural information. Western Ranger, Valparaiso, 
Aug. 11, 1847 



CONTENTS— CALENDAR xi 

Page 

Aug. 31 Letter to W. G. Ewing. Concerning sale of land to 
George Earle. Offer for other property. Ewing's 
defeat as candidate for Congress. Ewing Manu- 
scripts 

Sep. 23 Letter to W. G. Ewing. Concerning land in Lake 
County, taxes, etc. Ibid. 

Dec. 14?*"Free Homesteads." Indiana State Sentinel (tri- 
weekly), Dec. 14, 1847 101 

848 Jan. 15 *"Fences a Direct Tax to the Farmer." American 

Agriculturist, 7 :87 (Mar., 1848) 107 

Jan. 26? Letter to editor on "Gambling and Drinking." West- 
em Ranger, Jan. 26, 1848 

Feb. 10 Letter to W. G. Ewing. Comment on route of rail- 
road from Michigan City to Chicago; land in Lake 
County. Ewing Manuscripts 

Feb. 15 *"Choice of Trees and Shrubs for Cities and Rural 

Towns." A7iierican Agricidturist, 7:114 (Apr., 1848) 109 

Mar. *"Cheese Making." Ibid., 7:211 (July, 1848) Ill 

July 10 "Plantation Tools." /feid., 7:270-71 (Sep., 1848) 

July *"Experiments among Farmers." Ibid., 7:282 (Sep., 

1848) Ill 

Sep. *"Ventilation Essential to Health." Ibid., 7:335 

(Nov., 1848) 112 

Oct. 28 *Letter warning purchasers of canal lands to beware 

of speculators. Western Ranger, '^ov. 17, IMS. .. . 113 

Nov. 14 *"Agricultural Tour South and West. No. 1." In- 
diana, Illinois, Missouri. American Agriculturist, 
8:18-20 (Jan., 1849) 115 

Nov. 22 *"Agricultural Tour South and We.st. No. 2." St. 
Louis to Vicksburg, Mississippi. Ibid., 8:51-53 
(Feb., 1849) 124 

Nov. ? *"The Pumpkin Dance and Moonlight Race. One of 
the Western Border Tales." Daily Cincinnati Ga- 
zette, Dec. 2, 1848 131 

Dec. 8 *"Agricultiu-al Tour South and West.— No. 3." 
Mississippi. American Agriculturist, 8:90-92 (Mar., 
1849) 135 

Dec. 9-15*"Agricultural Tour South and West.— No. 4." 
Mississippi and Louisiana. Written Jan. 12, 1849. 
Ibid., 8:117-19 (Apr., 1849) 146 

Dec. 15 *Visit to General Zachary Taylor at New Orleans. 

Daily Cincinnati Gazette, Jan. 4, 1849 155 

Dec. 15 - *"Agricultural Tour South and West.— No. 5." Lou- 
19 isiana. American Agriculturist, 8:143-44 (May, 

1849) 158 



xii INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

Page 

Dec. 28 *"Agricultural Tour South and West.— No. 6." 
Louisiana. American Agriculturist, 8:177-79 (June, 
1849) 163 

Dec. 29 *"Agricultural Tour South and West.— No. 7." 

Louisiana. Ibid., 8:219-20 (July, 1849) 171 

1849 Jan. 12 *"Agncultural Tour South and West.— No. 4." 
Mississippi, Louisiana. Ibid., 8:117-19 (Apr., 
1849) 146 

Jan. 16 *"Mr. Robinson's Tour. — ^No. 8." Louisiana. Ibid., 

8:252-54 (Aug., 1849) 178 

Jan. 24 *"Mr. Robinson's Tour.— No. 9." Louisiana. Ibid., 

8:283-84 (Sep., 1849) 185 

Jan. ? "The Sugar Crop." Farmer and Mechanic, 3:204 
(Apr., 1849), from the New Orleans Picayune. 

Feb. 11 *"High Water in the Lower Mississippi — Prospect of 
an Overflow — Present Sugar Crop — Effect of High 
Water upon the next Crop, &c." Daily Cincin- 
nati Gazette, Feb. 28, 1849 191 

Feb. 16 *"Frost and Snow at New Orleans." American Agri- 
culturist, 8:125-26 (Apr., 1849) 194 

Feb. ? *"Mr. Robinson's Tour. — No. 10." Louisiana. Ibid., 

8:314-16 (Oct., 1849) 195 

Feb. ? *"Mr. Robinson's Tour. — No. 11." Louisiana. Ibid., 

8:337-38 (Nov., 1849) 201 

Mar. 25 *"Recipes for the Ladies." Ibid., 8:161 (May, 1849) 205 

Mar. 27 '^"Alabama Wheat— Early Corn, etc." Ibid., 8:183 

(June, 1849) 206 

Apr. 8 *"Facts in Natural History." Ibid., 8:194 (June, 

1849) 207 

Apr. 29 *"Manufactuiing in the South." Cotton. National 

Intelligencer (triweekly), May 10, 1849 210 

Apr. *"A Few More Trifles for the Ladies." American 

Agriculturist, 8:193 (June, 1849) 214 

May 6 *"Cotton Manufacturing at the South." Ibid., S -.212- 

13 (July, 1849) 215 

May 9 *"Mr. Robinson's Tour. — No. 12." North CaroUna. 

Written Oct. 6, 1849. Ibid., 8:366-67 (Dec, 1849) 219 

May 13ff.*"Mr. Robinson's Tour.— No. 12 [13]." North Caro- 
lina. Written Nov. 7, 1849. Ibid., 9:27-29 (Jan., 
1850) 223 

May ? *"Farm of Mr. Bolhiig, in Virginia." Ibid., 8:254-55 

(Aug., 1849) 231 

June 3 *Letter to Leila Robinson describing visit to Mount 

Vernon. Daily Cincinnati Gazette, June 13, 1849. . 235 

June 4 *"What Does it Cost a Pound to Grow Cotton?" 

Weekly National Intelligencer, June 9, 1849 240 



CONTENTS— CALENDAR xiii 

Page 

June 7 *"Visit to Col. Capron's." Maryland. American 

Agriculturist, 8:250 (Aug., 1849) 245 

June 10 Letter to Samuel Sands, Delaware. "A New Drill, or 
^^'lleat Sowing Machine." American Farmer, 4th 
series, 5:22 (July, 1849) 

July 10 *"A FUght Through Connecticut." American Agri- 
culturist, 8:321-22 (Oct., 1849) 247 

Aug. ? *"Negro Slavery at the South." An extended essay on 
the slavery question. De Bow's Revieiv, 7:206-25, 
379-89 (Sep. and Nov., 1849) 253 

Oct. 2 *"FUght Through Connecticut, Continued." A?neri- 

can Agriculturist, 8:346-47 (Nov., 1849) 307 

Oct. 6 *"Mr. Robinson's Tour.— No. 12." North CaroUna. 
Covering May 9, 1849. Ihid., 8:366-67 (Dec, 
1849) 219 

Oct. 25 *"A FUght Through Massachusetts." Ihid., 8:372-73 

(Dec, 1849) 310 

Oct. 27 *"Benefit of Railroads to Agriculture." The New- 
York and Erie Railroad. Ibid., 9:58-59 (Feb., 1850) 314 

Nov. 7 *"Mr. Robinson's Tour.— No. 12 [13]." North Caro- 
lina. Covering May 13 and following. Ibid., 9:27- 
29 (Jan., 1850) 223 

Nov. ? *"The Traveller. — No. 1." New Jersey. Ihid., 

9:107-8 (Apr., 1850) 319 

Nov. ? *"The Traveller.— No. 2." Delaware. Ihid., 9:138 

(May, 1850) 326 

Nov. ? *"The Traveller.— No. 3." Delaware, /bid., 9:298-99 

(Oct., 1850) 329 

Dec. 18?*"A Plain Talk — Agricultural Resources of Lower 
Virginia." Richmond Inquirer, Dec. 21, 1849, from 
the Norfolk Beacon, Dec. 18, 1849 334 

Dec. 20 *"Agricultural Talk" made before members of Virginia 

legislature. Ihid., Dec. 25, 1849 338 

Dec. 24?*Letter to Richmond Enquirer suggesting subjects for 

agricultural discussions. Ihid., Dec. 25, 1849 340 

Undated Robinson business card. Lists various activities in 
which he was engaged. Harry Robinson Strait 
Collection 
1850 Jan. 27 *"To a Connecticut Farmer." Am,erican Agricul- 
turist, 9:95-96 (Mar., 1850) 342 

Jan. ? *"Mr. Robinson's Tour — No. 14." South Carolina. 

Ihid., 9:49-51 (Feb., 1850) 344 

Jan. ? *"Mr. Robinson's Tour. — No. 15." South CaroUna. 

Ihid., 9:93-95 (Mar., 1850) 349 



xiv INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

Page 

Feb. ? *"Mr. Robinson's Tour. — No. 16." Georgia. American 

Agriculturist, 9:118-19 (Apr., 1850) 355 

Feb. ? *"Mr. Robinson's Tour.— No. 17." North Carolina. 

Ibid., 9:148-49 (May, 1850) 359 

Mar. ? *"Mr. Robinson's Tour. — No. 18." Governor Aiken's 

rice plantation, South Carolina. Ibid., 9:187-88 

(June, 1850) 364 

May 9 *Letter to Mari ah Robinson. Strait Collection 369 

May ? *"Yaupon Tea." American Agric^dturist, 9:194-95 

(June, 1850) 370 

May ? *"Benefit of Guano." Ibid., 9:202-3 (July, 1850) 372 

June 22 Letter to Charles T. Robinson. Strait Collection 
June ? *"North-Carolina Farming." Atnerican Agriculturist, 

9:205 (July, 1850) 378 

June ? *"Mr. Robinson's Tour. — No. 19." Sea-Island cotton 

planting. South CaroUna. Ibid., 9:206-7 (July, 

1850) 378 

June ? *"How Much Lime Will an Acre of Land Bear without 

Injury?" Ibid., 9:207 (July, 1850) 383 

June ? *"Easy Method of Drawing Water from a Deep Well." 

Ibid., 9:207 (July, 1850) 384 

June ? *"A Virginia Housewife." Ibid., 9:227 (July, 1850). . 385 
June ? "New Patents." Machines for lightening housework. 

Ibid., 9:227 (July, 1850) 
June ? *"Mr. Robinson's Tour — No. 20." South CaroUna 

railroads. Ibid., 9:255-56 (Aug., 1850) 386 

July 17 ""'Wheat Versus Cattle; Which is the most profitable 

for the Western Farmer?" Prairie Farmer, 

10:278-79 (Sep., 1850) 393 

July ? *"A Specimen of Agricultural Knowledge — Are Corn 

Cobs Good Manure?" American Agriculturist, 

9:250 (Aug., 1850) 396 

July ? *"Mr. Robinson's Tour. — No. 21." Virginia fencing. 

Ibid., 9:289-90 (Sep., 1850) 398 

Aug. 19 *"Sketches of Canada." Ibid., 9:307-9 (Oct., 1850). . 400 
Aug. 20 *"Sketches of Canada." Ibid., 9:343 (Nov., 1850). . . 408 
Aug. 21 *"Jeflfer son-County Dairy Farming." New York. 

Ibid., 9:331-32 (Nov., 1850) 411 

Aug. ? *"Further Notes on Jefferson County." New York. 

Ibid., 9:372 (Dec, 1850) 416 

Aug. ? ""'Connecticut Farming — Reverse of the Picture." 

Ibid., 9:266-67 (Sep., 1850) 418 

Aug. ? *"The Sense of Smell." Ibid., 9:283-84 (Sep., 1850). . 422 

Oct. 20 *Letter to Leila Robinson. Strait Collection 426 

Oct. ? ""'Storing Turnips and Other Roots for Winter." 

American Agriculturist, 9:347 (Nov., 1850) 428 



CONTENTS— CALENDAR xv 

Page 

Nov. 13 *"The Great Poultry Show at Boston." Ibid., 10:27- 

29 (Jan., 1851) 430 

Nov. 14 *"Hen Show and Hen Fever." Ibid., 10:56-58 (Feb., 

1851) 434 

Nov. *"A Day in Westchester County." New York. Ibid., 

10:31-32 (Jan., 1851) 437 

Nov. ? "Cattle Shows and Fairs." /6id., 9:377-78 (Dec, 1850) 
Nov. ? *"Carts, Drays, and Other Things." Ibid., 9:370 

(Dec, 1850) 440 

Nov. ? *"New-York Markets.— No. l.'7&id., 10:77-78 (Mar., 

1851) 443 

Dec. 16 *Affidavit for W. G. and G. W, Ewing regarding In- 
dian reserve in Lake County for 0-kee-chee. 

Ewing Manuscripts 446 

Dec. 25 *"The Traveller.— No. 4." New York to Charles- 
ton. American Agriculturist, 10:91-93 {Ma,T., 1851) 448 
Dec. ? "Editor's Table." Awards at State Fair at Albany, 

N. Y.; Pictorial Field Book of the Revolution; 

Dwarf Cherry Trees; Downing's Country Houses. 

Ibid., 9:381 (Dec, 1850) 
1851 Jan. 6 *"Georgia Burr Millstones." Ibid., 10:86-87 (Mar., 

1851) 454 

Jan. ? *"Salt for Cattle and Sheep." Ibid., 10:63 (Feb., 

1851) 456 

Jan. ? *"The Traveller.- No. 5." Georgia and Florida. 

Ibid., 10:147-49 (May, 1851) 457 

Mar. 9?*"The Traveller.— No. 6." Florida and Georgia. IMd., 

10:234-36 (Aug., 1851) 463 

Mar. 17?*"The TraveUer.— No. 7." Georgia. Ibid., 10:308-9 

(Oct., 1851) 470 

Mar. 19?*"The Traveller.— No. 8." Georgia. Ibid., 10:335-36 

(Nov., 1851) 474 

Mar. 23 *Letter to Mrs. Mariah Robinson. Strait Collection.. 479 
Mar. 24?*"The Traveller. — No. 9." Georgia. American Agri- 
culturist, 10:373-74 (Dec, 1851) 480 

Mar. ? "Plant Trees." /bid., 10:111 (Apr., 1851) 

Mar. ? "Curious Facts in Vegetable Physiology." Ibid., 

10:114 (Apr., 1851) 

Apr. 13 *Letter to Leila Robinson. Strait Collection 483 

Apr. 14 *"How to Use Guano." Southern Cultivator, Augusta, 

Ga., 9:70-71 (May, 1851) 484 

Apr. 27 *Letter to Leila Robinson. Strait Collection 488 

May 22 *"Benefit of Deep Plowing." Southern Cultivator, 

9:114 (Aug., 1851), from the Soil of the South 491 

May ? *"A Virginia Plantation." Sabine Hall. American 

Agriculturist, 10:209-10 (July, 1851) 493 



xvi INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

Page 

June ? "Guano — How Used in Virginia, Maryland, and 
Delaware." American Agriculturist, 10:208 (July, 
1851) 

July ? *"Goth8 and Vandals vs. Shade Trees." Ibid., 10:237- 

38 (Aug., 1851) 495 

July ? *"Strawberries — The Secret of Growing this Fruit Six 
Months Continuously," as practiced by Charles F. 
Peabody of Columbus, Ga. Ibid., 10:253 (Aug., 
1851) 497 

July ? Letter to Wilmington (North Carolina) Commercial 
calling attention to the fact that straw braidwork 
for bonnets can be made of common long-leaf pine. 
Extract in Daily Cincinnati Gazette, Aug. 5, 1851 

Aug. ? *"A Farmer's Ivitcken of Old Times in New England." 

American Agriculturist, 10:298-99 (Oct., 1851) 499 

Oct. 16 Letter to Leila Robinson. Strait Collection 

Nov. 11 *Letter to Board of Commissioners, Lake County. 
Requesting payment for room used by Robinson 
as county clerk's office, 1837-1844. Ibid 503 

Nov. 13 Letter to J. S. Holton, Crown Point, instructing him 
to collect and send to New York all money due 
Robinson in Lake County. Ibid. 

Nov. ? *"New York Markets. — No. 2." American Agricul- 
turist, 10:364-65 (Dec, 1851) 504 

Nov. ? *"An Old-Fashioned New England Farm House." 

Ibid., 10:368-69 (Dec, 1851) 508 

Dec. ? *"Sketches of Canada." The Ploiv, 1:20-21 (Jan., 

1852) 510 

Undated Northern Almanac (1851) 

Undated The Planters' Pictorial Almanac (1851) 

Bibliography 515 

Index 535 



ILLUSTRATIONS 

Page 
Solon Robinson, about 1872. Courtesy of Mrs. Jenny- 
Gross, Orleans, Vermont Frontispiece 

Pennock's Patent Seed and Grain Planter. From Balti- 
more American Farmer, July, 1850 28 

Robinson Account Book, 1845-1846 40 

Types of Hogs. From One Hundred Years' Progress of 
the United States, pp. 61, 62, Hartford, 1870 122 

New Orleans, about 1850. From American Historical 
Prints. . . from the Phelps Stokes and other Collections, 
New York Public Library, 1932 170 

Cotton Plantation in South Carolina 212 

The Turpentine Industry. From One Hundred Years' 
Progress of the United States, p. 95 222 

Tumbledown Mansion — The House of Farmer Slack. 
From The Plow, April, 1852, p. 121 308 

House of Farmer Snug. From The Plow, April, 1852, 
p. 120 332 

Solon Robinson, 1854 404 

Hen Show and Hen Fever. From American Agriculturist, 
February, 1851, p. 56 434 

The Plow 488 

Old Fashioned Farm House 509 



xvu 



DOCUMENTS 

[Spelling, punctuation, and capitalization 
used in manuscript and printed s-^urces 
have been retained. No attempt has been 
made to reproduce type fonts.] 



Scraps from My Note Book. — No. 2. 

[New York American Agriculturist, 5:90-91; Mar., 1846] 

[January ?, 1846] 

The Cherokee Rose^ Hedge. — South of Natchez, for 
miles, I rode between continuous lines of hedges of the 
"Cherokee, or nondescript rose," then, March 1st, in full 
bloom, of pure white fragrant flowers, single, with bright 
yellow centres, and rich bright green foliage, that gave 
the whole a most lovely appearance; but the beauty of 
the scene was greatly marred by the fact that blossoms 
and foliage could not disguise that the whole was in a 
most slovenly state of keeping; for the long straggling 
runners have grown up some ten feet high, and bend over 
upon each side, till the fence is often 25 or 30 feet wide, 
and owing to the hardness and sharpness of the briars, 
is as impenetrable as a stone wall for all kinds of stock, 
negroes included. 

Dr. Phillips^ and Mr. Affleck,^ who were my travelling 
companions, assured me that a good fence could be made 
in four years from the cuttings of this plant, and that by 
proper attention every year, it can be kept within reason- 
able bounds. I did not, however, see an instance where it 
was. I saw many places where the runners had climbed 
up some convenient tree at least thirty feet. 

To get a fence started is a very easy matter, as it is 
only to take those long runners and cut them up with a 
hatchet on a block, into slips about a foot long, and lay 
these in a furrow, with one end out, and tread the earth 
down tight; it will be a rare thing if they fail to grow. 
Though, whether from failure to grow, or from being 

^ A Chinese climbing rose (Rosa laevigata). The fragrant white 
blossom of this plant is the state flower of Georgia. 

'See Solon Robiyison, Pioneer and Agriculturist, l:465n and 
Index (Indiana Historical Collections, volume 21, Indianapolis, 
1936). 

"/bid., l:213n and Index. 

(3) 



4 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

killed by frost, or something else, I observed in all these 
hedges, the same unsightly gaps that mark nearly all the 
live fences in the United States. These frequent gaps in 
the hedge are filled up vi^ith one, two, three, or perhaps a 
dozen pannels of rail fence, and in the joining together of 
the live and dead fence, holes are very apt to be left, 
through which that animal which strange man permits to 
run at large, to the eternal torment of himself and neigh- 
bors, will be very likely to insinuate his porkship about 
"roasting ear time." 

"But why don't they fill up these gaps with new sets, 
if it is so easily done?" 

Exactly the question that I will answer after the most 
approved Yankee fashion, by asking why we are not civi- 
lized. Christianized, rationalized enough to enact laws, or 
rather to repeal all laws, all over the Union, that compel 
one man to fence against every other man's cattle, some 
of which nothing but a Cherokee rose hedge would stop, 
and even that must be free from gates, bars, or gaps? 
And again, "if this hedge can be kept from spreading so 
as not to occupy four acres of land in every mile of 
length, and it makes such a beautiful as well as efficient 
fence, why is it not more extensively used? 

Exactly the other question that I will answer after the 
same approved fashion, by inquiring why you — "ivhat 
me ?" — Oh, yes — you are the very man I mean — I want to 
inquire if you love peaches, apples, grapes, and other 
fruit? "Why, certainly." 

Well, the hedge is not planted just for the same reason 
that you have never planted fruit trees and vines. 

"And how far north will this rose flourish?" I cannot 
say ; but I believe that it would be dangerous to rely upon 
it north of latitude 33°. Major Green, of Madison 
County, latitude 321/2°, told me that he had 60 or 70 
yards of Cherokee rose hedge growing very thriftily 
around his yard, in the winter of 1831-2, and nearly the 
whole of it froze to death. In the spring he cut it all off, 
and but here and there a sprout came up. His house 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1846 5 

stands on a high piece of ground — the soil, reddish yellow 
clay — timber, mostly black oak, rather scrubby. Whether 
this has any influence, or whether this plant will answer 
for fences further north, I cannot say; but I do say to 
those living further south, it is well worth your attention, 
and you ought to try it forthwith.^ And as your paper, 
Mr. Editor, circulates so extensively at the South, if some 
of your southern correspondents would give you an 
article every month upon this subject, it would not be too 
much of a good thing. It is also worth the trial whether 
the "Michigan Rose"^ will answer a good purpose at the 
North for hedging. 

Here, upon the prairies of the North West, where it is 
supposed there is no timber, fencing material is alto- 
gether too plenty and cheap to think of using hedges yet 
awhile. But as we contrive to burn up what rails we 
have once a year, we shall soon come to the necessity 
perhaps. SoLON Robinson. 

Scraps from My Note Book. — No. 3. 

[New York American Agriculturist, 5:211-13; July, 1846] 

[April 9, 1846] 

Mr. Cockrill's Sheep. — This is the ninth of April (1846) , 
a clear bright morning, but the ground is frozen stiff, and 
so it was one year ago this day, but it was not so where I 
then was, 500 miles south, but there it was cold enough to 
kill nearly all the peaches in the Ohio valley, and much 
other fruit, and some wheat. 

These reminiscences are now called to mind, because 
this is the anniversary of my visit tothe"Tennessee Shep- 

* Philips believed that, except in an extraordinarily cold winter, 
the Cherokee rose would thrive at least as far as 34° north, and 
would probably outlive the American agave, Bengal rose, and oth- 
ers. He described his method of filling gaps in hedges. American 
Agriculturist, 5:210-11 (July, 1846). 

* The prairie rose, a climbing vine (Rosa setigera) usually hav- 
ing trifoliolate leaves and large deep pink flowers. Among several 
cultivated varieties, the Baltimore Belle is notable. 



6 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

herd ;" a title which some of the readers of the American 
Agriculturist need not to be told belongs to Mark R. Cock- 
rill. 

Mr. Cockrill's sheep walk is at and near his residence, 
seven miles west of Nashville, the drive to which is over 
one of the fine smooth Macadamized turnpikes which lead 
out of that city of rocks in every direction. 

He was born on the banks of the Cumberland River, 
near the place where he now lives, some fifty-seven years 
ago, at which time all the uncultivated land in that region 
was filled with immense cane-brakes, intersected here and 
there with buffalo roads and Indian trails, upon which 
some of the early settlers paid a higher toll than we do 
now upon these paved ones. Mr. Cockrill is one of those 
western woodsmen that in his young days could outrun 
an Indian, or outclimb a bear. He is medium size, spare 
built, "smart as a steel trap," with a great flow of pleas- 
ing conversation, and unbounded hospitality, and in whose 
family the visitor cannot but feel at home and comfort- 
able. He owns sixteen hundred acres of land, mostly very 
rough limestone hills, in places almost, and occasionally, 
quite bare of soil; and a small tract of very rich river 
bottom (interval) land. Fifteen hundred acres (counting 
the bare rocks), and including the woodland, are in grass, 
the most of which is Kentucky blue grass. He usually 
plants about 50 acres of corn, which affords him as much 
as he needs. The corn land is exceedingly rich natural soil, 
on the banks of Richland Creek, near the Cumberland. 

The land occupied by Mr. C, is composed of twelve dif- 
ferent farms, which he has bought up since 1835, at which 
time there were not ten acres of cultivated grasses upon 
the whole ; and if the farms ever were good, it was long 
time ago, neither are the buildings worth bragging about. 
The fact is, he has been so intent upon providing pastur- 
age and accumulating acres, that with the personal atten- 
tion that he pays to his flocks, together with the care of 
2,000 acres of cotton plantations in Mississippi, upon 
which he works 135 hands, he finds little time to devote 
to ornamental improvement. 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1846 7 

When I was there, his flock, as I stated in the March 
No.,^ consisted of 1,400 fine- woolled, and 600 long-woolled, 
and, all things considered — that is, quality of wool, weight 
of fleeces, size and healthiness of sheep, long life and pro- 
ductiveness of lambs, I think cannot be excelled in the 
United States. He also had forty head of very fine Dur- 
ham and grade cattle, none of which were less than three- 
fourths blood, and some of them were very valuable milk- 
ers: — 30 jennies, breeding from a fine blood horse — one 
of the jennies is the biggest animal of the kind I ever 
saw — keeps about 30 high-bred horses and brooding 
mares, upon which he serves his big jack, and raises fine 
mules, one of which at work in his team is about 17 hands 
high, and heavy in proportion. His stock is all first-rate, 
except hogs, and not one of them will he keep on his place 
— because hogs will eat lambs. And if you ask why he 
don't keep them shut up in the pen, I can tell you that 
restraining the liberty of a hog in that despotic manner, 
is contrary to the free institutions of the Southern and 
Western States. 

His flocks were at grass when I was there, but in the 
great drouth then prevailing, his land was overstocked 
and the feed poor ; but he intended to shear his long wool 
in a few days, and start them for Mississippi, which 
would give him more room and feed at home. Mr. C. as- 
sured me that he takes care of this farm and stock with 
four field hands, assisted occasionally by some female 
house servants. But the wonder is accomplished by the 
never-tiring vigilance of the active master. I have never 
seen a shepherd more devoted to his business. There are 
few old sheep that he does not know by name on descrip- 
tion, and can name the quality of the fleece. And he 
pointed out to me several ewes which I judge were Saxon 
Merino, that were part of five hundred lambs got by one 
ram in 1826, which I think a very extraordinary perform- 
ance. It was accomplished by keeping the ram up, and 
very judiciously fed, and serving him only once to each 

^ See Robinson, 1:549. 



8 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

ewe, which was then immediately removed. Some of 
these nineteen-year old ewes had fine healthy lambs by 
their side. 

The foddering season where Mr. Cockrill lives, which is 
about latitude 36°, does not average over three months a 
year. He feeds hay, millet, oats in sheaf, corn fodder, 
and a moderate supply of Southern corn, by one gill a day, 
which Mr. Allen says in his note to my article in the 
March No., is not so oily as Northern corn. At any rate, 
Mr. Cockrill finds it good feed for his sheep, and is well 
paid for feeding a moderate supply, by an increased 
quantity and quality of wool, besides the advantage of 
having the ewes in fine condition at the lambing season, 
which is in April, and after the grass has got a good start. 
A visit to the old shepherd is not only pleasant but profit- 
able. I have scarcely spent a day more satisfactorily 
than while riding one of his beautiful blood horses over 
his place, and examining his flocks, and listening to the 
interesting and instructive conversation of one of so much 
experience and good sense. 

Mr. Cockrill has a number of sheep which he drove 
when he moved his flock from Tennessee to Mississippi. 
In 1835 he sold his cotton plantation with the intention 
of quitting the business, and following that of wool-grow- 
ing solely, and brought up his flock and drove them to 
Lexington, Ky., in search of a home, which he did not find 
to suit himself, until he returned to his own native hills 
on the Cumberland. Notwithstanding all this driving in 
a warm climate and hot summer, he takes pride in the 
fact that some of his sheep on exhibition, won the prize 
cup, over some of the pampered flock of Henry Clay and 
other wool-growers of Kentucky, that fall. His original 
fine-woolled sheep are from a Saxony importation of 
1824. His fine clip of 1844 averaged 621/0 cents a pound, 
and was sold for shipment to France. He has some sheep 
which he has made by crossing Saxony and Bakewell to- 
gether, that for long silky fleeces exceed anything I have 
ever seen. All the long-woolled sheep are sheared twice 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1846 9 

a year. In Mississippi, about 5 or 6 degrees farther south, 
both fine and coarse-woolled sheep are sheared twice a 
year. Mr. C. still prefers that country to grow wool, but 
not for his family residence, and he says what I have 
often said, that no man can succeed with sheep who de- 
pends upon his negroes — the master himself must be the 
slave. And this is why he keeps his flock in Tennessee 
instead of Mississippi ; not on account of the sheep-family, 
but his own. 

The grasses cultivated for hay are timothy, orchard 
and blue grass, and clover. The soil, as I have said, is 
strong limestone, and supported a natural growth of 
large timber, of oak, elm, sugar-tree, walnut, ash, hack- 
berry, poplar, hickory, &c. Fencing timber is already 
becoming scarce, but whenever they shall learn how to 
build stone fences, they have the material in great abun- 
dance. Mr. C. trains his sheep not to jump, and if they 
were not so, his fences would not restrain them. The 
object Mr. C. has in view in sending the long-woolled 
sheep to Mississippi, instead of the fine-woolled ones, is, 
that he intends to feed his negroes largely upon the heavy, 
fat mutton of this breed, and use the wool for negro 
clothing. By shearing them twice a year, their fleeces do 
not become burthensome, and the gain upon shearing 
twice a year instead of once, he finds to be fully 15 per 
cent. Mr. Cockrill keeps his sheep in moderate sized 
flocks, in summer as well as winter, with the rams always 
separate. 

I mentioned his manner of feeding in the March No., 
upon the ground, without rack or trough ; and I am well 
satisfied that it is not the slovenly way that some of your 
Eastern readers will be inclined to think it is. It is the 
natural way for the animal to pick up its food from the 
ground, and by the manner of feeding in alternate lots, 
so that the hay is laid upon the ground before the sheep 
are let in, they do not waste it. There is another advan- 
tage, the seed does not get in the wool as it does from 
racks. 



10 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

It must not be supposed, because the land of Mr. C. is 
hilly and rocky, that it is never muddy. You, Mr. Editor, 
can endorse for me when I say that no land in the world 
can exceed some of the steep side hills of the West, that 
are apparently half stone, for deep sticky mud. But by 
shifting the feeding ground and giving plenty of room, 
the sheep can be kept out of the mud. There is a great 
error prevailing in the West, in my opinion, in confining 
sheep in winter in too close quarters. Give them a chance 
to range and browse and get their noses to the ground. 
They will be more healthy. Mr. Cockrill thinks it a great 
folly to keep a large capital in Tennessee invested in 
"woolly heads," when "woolly backs" afford so much bet- 
ter returns of interest. In fact, he is well satisfied, and 
so am I, that the raising of cotton so far north, will not 
pay any interest upon the capital investment. Indeed, 
taking the United States altogether, it is doubtful whether 
it does. 

Mr. Cockrill has had a large experience in both kinds 
of business — raising cotton and wool; and has a very 
large capital now invested in both branches, and he is 
confident that wool-growing in Mississippi would be bet- 
ter than cotton, at present prices. 

His figures are, that he owns 2,000 acres of first quality 
of cotton land in Madison County, Mississippi, and with 
his 135 negroes, he made in 1844, 1,035 bales, not quite 
8 bales to the hand, which is more than an average crop, 
and which will not average over 5 cents a pound, is $20 
a bale, exclusive of freight, commissions, and stealings. 
Besides the land and working hands, there is a large sum 
invested in teams and implements, and supernumerary 
negroes, besides a great outlay for medicine, clothing, and 
provisions, over and above what is produced upon the 
plantation. In fact, some plantations fall short of 8 bales 
to the hand, and make no clothing and provisions, but buy 
everything. I have stated the quantity of land and flocks 
and hands upon the sheep farm. These 2,000 head of 
sheep will produce $2,000 worth of wool a year at least, 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1846 11 

besides all the profit of the other stock mentioned. It is 
easy to see which capital pays the best interest. Why, 
then, does he continue the cotton business? — simply, be- 
cause he has not been able to get rid of it. He sold out 
when the business was much better than it is now, but the 
purchaser failed, and he had to take back the whole again. 
If Mr. Cockrill would tell us his experience, it would be 
far more valuable to your readers than these scraps and 
items which I have picked up by the way. 

I have some more scraps of interesting matter in my 
notes which I have taken during my travels that I may be 
able to give you at a future day. Solon Robinson. 

Fence and Other Matters, 
by solon robinson. 

[Chicago Prairie Farmer, 6:151-53; May, 1846] 

[April ?, 1846] 

Messrs. Editors: Although I do not intend to com- 
mence the office of 'commentator,' yet I am tempted to 
comment a little upon some articles in late numbers of 
your paper. 

And I will commence with that in the last number upon 
'Fencing the Prairie, by Mr. Kennicut.'^ It is one of the 
most sensible, plain, common sense articles you ever pub- 
lished. 

It is passing strange that such men as Mr. K. and every 
other sensible man that reads such articles as that do not 
become completely disgusted with our whole system of 
fencing, and have their eyes opened to the enormous and 
unjust tax annually levied upon industry in fencing 
against "other folks' cattle" ; but time alone can correct 
this evil, and only when our fertile prairies are needed to 
raise sustenance to a population as dense as that of China 
perhaps — for the means and method of fencing these 

^ Hiram Kennicut, of Wheeling, Cook County, Illinois, writer of 
a series of articles for the Prairie Farmer on fencing, prairie 
breaking, plowing, and wool growing. 



12 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

vast timberless plains has not yet been discovered, except 
indeed your worthy correspondent, Col. McDonald,^ has 
furnished you the wherewithal in the "Cherokee rose 
hedge." 

As an improvement to Mr. Kennicut's post and bar 
fence, I would recommend setting the fence on a ridge 
after the plan of Mr. Ellsworth, with a plow having a 
mould board six or eight feet long. But then this cannot 
be well done except on old ground. The bank thus made 
is cheap, and if sowed with grass, will last; and then 
three bars make a good fence. 

If you had 'capped' your board fence with an upright 
strip over every post, nailed on with 12d nails, how could 
the cattle pull off the top bar, or any other one. True it 
will be better with split posts, and those much larger. The 
greatest difficulty that I find with fence posts is in con- 
sequence of the extreme softness of our rich soil that they 
soon begin to lean towards every day in the week but 
Sunday. 

In consequence of this disposition of posts to go astray, 
I tried an experiment two years ago by using small posts, 
framed with a tenon into a sill about 21/2 or 3 feet long, 
with braces nailed on each side. These sills lie across the 
fence, buried partly in the ground, and the fence stands 
very firm, without 'yawing' one way or the other. I 
believe where hauling of timber is an object, that this 
kind of fence will be found cheaper and more durable 
than setting posts in the ground. The tenons and braces 
will most likely last as long as common sized posts in the 
earth. 

^ Colonel Alexander McDonald, of Eufaula, Alabama. Interested 
in scientific agriculture. Raised diversified crops, but specialized 
in cotton. Correspondent of the Cultivator, American Agricultur- 
ist, Prairie Faryner, Nashville Agriculturist, and Southern Culti- 
vator. For a description of his plantation operations in 1845, see 
American Agriculturist, 5:22-23 (January, 1846). See also Mc- 
Donald's letter to editors, Prairie Farmer, 6:12 (January, 1846). 
McDonald died August 16, 1846. Cultivator, n.s. 3:324 (October, 
1846), and Prairie Farmer, 6:358 (November, 1846). 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1846 13 

By making this kind of fence with posts to each panel 
separate, and when set, fastened together with a pin, or 
strip nailed on, it could be moved from place to place as 
well as 'ladder fence,' and perhaps would be as cheap, and 
better. 

Perhaps sod fence may answer in moist ground, for a 
season — I doubt its durability while frosts, rains, mice 
and wolves, to say nothing of cattle and hogs, are among 
the things that 'fret our gizzards.' 

I like the looks and cost of that picket fence pretty well. 
I would use the posts, sills and braces that I have de- 
scribed, and I would split my pickets, if I could — they are 
cheaper and better. Be sure to nail on strips over the 
pickets, so that if a picket nail breaks, the picket will still 
be thar. 

But now, nonsense, Mr. Kennicut, what is the use of 
you or me spending our time in pointing out the best way 
to fence the prairies? Don't you see that they are all to 
be hedged — and that with roses too? Col. McDonald, a 
very worthy Alabama planter, has recommended them, 
and sent our editors some seed. Mr. Affleck, of Missis- 
sippi, too, it seems, has some words in favor of this plant 
for hedging.^ If their recommendation is not enough, 
I will give mine. I have seen many miles of Cherokee 
rose hedge, and a better fence cannot be. No cattle or 
hogs can penetrate one after it attains its growth. 

The manner of setting a hedge is to make a furrow, and 

* The editor remarked : "Mr. R. has probably seen before this, 
that Mr. Affleck did not recommend the Cherokee Rose for hedge. 
It is not singular that Col. McDonald should suppose it would stand 
our winters, in the absence of any trial. We have heard perhaps a 
hundred southern men recommend it as he has done; who, in answer 
to our doubt respecting its want of hardihood were positive it would 
answer. Mr. Affleck is the first man who has ever given us any 
positive, reliable information on the subject. Since then, several 
others have confirmed his testimony. The idea of acclimating south- 
ern plants at the north is by no means an absurd one. The potato 
is a southern plant. And though there are certain data which de- 
termine the probabilities in a given case, t7-ial is the only sure 
test." 



14 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

then the rose vines are chopped on a block along side of 
the furrow, into cuts 8 or 10 inches long, and planted 
with one end sticking out, and they grow readily, and in 
four years will be four or fivs feet high, and as wide; 
and as the foliage is the most beautiful green, and the 
roses most perfect white, with large, bright, yellow cen- 
tre. No fence can be prettier, or more delightfully fra- 
grant in the spring. 

But every thing is progressive, except trimming Chero- 
kee rose hedges; and as the briars are so excessively 
sharp that that don't progress, the consequence is that 
the progress of growth is so rapid that in a few years the 
fence is 25 or 30 feet wide, and as high; and I defy all 
sorts of ravenous beasts to get through it. It is a good 
fence. No matter for the amount of ground taken up; 
surely there is land enough in the United States, and if 
not, can't we 'annex' some? As to its growing and mak- 
ing a good hedge upon our prairies, there is no doubt 
about the matter, if managed right, (for which I will give 
directions,) and I rejoice that the advocates of fencing 
our country with hedge have at length discovered a plant 
with which it can be done. You know I have been very 
skeptical upon the subject of hedging heretofore. In all 
my travels over the United States, while peering into 
every thing I could find worthy the notice of one seeking 
for agricultural improvement, I have seen but little hedg- 
ing that could be depended upon for fence against all kind 
of stock. 

Observing in Delaware last summer some cattle in very 
scanty pasture, while there was adjoining, some rich feed 
in stubble ground, enclosed with very beautiful hedges, I 
said to the owner "pray, why don't you feed the stubble?' 
'Oh, the cattle would destroy my hedges, and as soon as 
the feed got poor, they would would walk right through 
into my corn.' 

And that is American thorn hedge, is it, and its value 
as a fence, besides its liability to be destroyed by an in- 
sect, a mile at a mouthful. But that is not the case with 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1846 15 

the Cherokee Rose. It ivill make a fence if managed right. 
[See directions.] And what a romantic appearance our 
wide prairies will present while under this system of 
management. But now to the 

Directions for groiving a Cherokee Rose Hedge upon 
the northern prairies of Illinois, &c. As the cuttings of 
the rose can be obtained in any quantity from Natchez, I 
shall not give any directions for growing the plants from 
the seed ; the editors of the Prairie Farmer will try that 
experiment and 'report progress,' and have leave to try 
again. I will suppose you have the requisite quantity of 
cuttings on hand to set one mile of fence to begin 2vith. 
The ground being in good tilth, make a mellow bed about 
two feet wide and open a furrow in the centre six inches 
deep. Then take the cuttings — and mind you work with 
leather mittens on — and set them up in the furrow about 
a foot apart ; haul in with hand or hoe the loose earth and 
squeeze it tight around the sets. They are now ready to 
grow. The next step necessary will be to set posts upon 
each side of the hedge row about four feet from the row 
and eight feet apart the other way. Now get 16-feet 
boards and board up the posts two feet high, and saw the 
posts off by a line level, and nail a board one inch and 
a quarter thick and six inches wide, on the top of the 
posts for plates ; then put on rafters, and cover the whole 
with glass frames in sliding grooves. In summer time 
keep the frames open in pleasant weather, and closed in 
winter; and also bank up the earth against the boards, 
and keep the whole warm by hot water, stove pipes, or 
steam — and in four or five years you will have a most 
beautiful Cherokee Rose hedge in Illinois. It will add to 
the picturesque eifect to diversify it with a few orange 
trees, magnolias, and an occasional patch of sugar cane. 
As the glass fabric will need some further protection, 
it can be obtained by extending "the area of liberty" so 
as to bring up from the South a few slaves for that pur- 
pose. Otherwise to guard against accidents, it would be 
necessary to build a good substantial fence on each side. 



16 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

at a convenient distance — say about four rods — so as to 
give room for the team to come in with wood and water. 
After four or five years the frames and fences might be 
moved ahead, and another mile put down. 

Be very careful during the fall after the frames are 
removed from the hedge, that the adjoining prairie does 
not burn, as there is usually a good deal of dead wood in 
the hedge, which it is very difficult to remove without 
danger of tearing your shirt ; and should this take fire it 
will be very likely to kill the hedge. In the spring you 
need not take any pains to guard against fire, as the whole 
concern — "lock, stock, and barrel" — will be "as dead as 
a herring," and "fit food for fire." In the mean time, 
the second experiment will be going on — unless indeed the 
experimenter should be fully satisfied with the experi- 
ment of fencing prairie in lat. 41-2 with a plant that will 
not stand the winter of lat. 32, and can never be grown 
here except in a hot-house, any better than can the most 
tender varieties of your monthly roses, which require so 
much care to preserve them in the parlor through the 
winter. 

But upon the whole I don't know as it would be much 
more expensive or inconsistent than our present mode of 
splitting and hauling rails all winter, to be burnt up in 
the fall. 

I wonder, Mr. Editor, if you really suppose you can 
induce "our folks" to put the "fixings" around the school 
house that you illustrate in your article upon that subject 
in the March number.^ Why, do you suppose that the 
children would learn any thing but play, if so much ex- 
pense was devoted to making a play-ground, nicely fenced 
and set with shade trees? I suppose you would recom- 
mend the school house to be painted, and have green win- 
dow blinds! And perhaps you would insist on having 
comfortable seats, and not put 40 children in a log cabin 
16 feet square, with 16 light of glass, and sorter warmed 
by a smoking stove. Supposing you carried out all your 

* See "Situation of School Houses," Prairie Farmer, 6:87-88. 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1846 17 

improvements, how do you think we could get a school- 
master for $8 a month or a school-mistress for $1 a week 
and "board round?" A pretty state of things you would 
bring about, truly. Why, sir, I thought you were in favor 
of economy, and cheapness, and all that. Another thing — 
who would settle in a neighborhood where they saw such 
a school house as you describe? Why, none but the most 
wealthy and "high larnt" class of folks, until there 
wouldn't be a poor man nor ragged boy in the district — 
and how could folks live where there were no poor folks ? 
I guess the neighborhood of such a school house would 
soon get the name of "aristocratic." 
Lake C. H., la. 1846. 

Practical Facts about Pork and Bacon.^ 

[New York Amencan Agriculturist, 5:282; Sep., 1846^] 

[May 15, 1846] 

What is the loss in weight on tnaking pork into bacon? 
This question is often asked, and every farmer, particu- 
larly in the West, ought to know how to answer it. As a 
general and safe rule, from facts within my own knowl- 
edge, I have always contended that it is better for the 
purchaser to buy pork in the hog, and make his own 
bacon, when he can do it for one half the price per pound, 
than to buy it ready made. That is, if pork is usually 
worth 3 cts. and bacon "hog round," 6 cts., it is better to 
buy the fresh pork. I am writing for the West, and in 
Western language. That your Eastern readers may un- 
derstand, I will say that "hog round" means 2 hams, 2 
shoulders, and 2 sides — out of which latter the bones 
should always be taken. I always trim off belly pieces for 
lard. Hams and shoulders too are well trimmed. The 

' Robinson contributed "More Facts about Pork and Bacon," to 
the February American Agriculturist, 1847 (6:63), and an article 
on "Comparative Weight of Pork and Bacon," to the June issue 
(6 :186-87) . These are not reprinted. 

^Reprinted in the Daily Cincinnati Gazette, September 23, 18 IG. 
and in part in the Prairie Farmer, 7:32-33 (January, 1847). 



18 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

method of salting often astonishes some of the new emi- 
grants from Yankee land. Nobody ever made better 
bacon for 15 years than I have, and I never use a pork 
barrel. I sprinkle about 2 oz. saltpetre and 6 lbs. of N. Y. 
salt to a hundred of pork, piled up on a bench, or in the 
corner of the smoke-house, like a pile of bricks. I let it 
lie about as many days as the hams weigh pounds each — 
overhauling once. Then hang up far away from the fire, 
in a very open and airy smoke-house, and smoke well with 
hickory or other sweet wood. Then draw loose cotton 
bags over each joint, and tie round the string by which 
the meat hangs. Do this before the flies come in the 
spring, and you may let it hang as long as you like, and 
it will be good — at least, mine is so. For many years our 
house has not been without a supply of this most excel- 
lent kind of meat, which is a much more healthy food 
than the eternal round of fresh beef, &c. 

But to return to my subject. On the 20th of January, 
1846, I killed 5 hogs, about a year and a half old, and one 
about half that age, of the Berkshire and China breed, 
fattened upon corn fed in the ear, the quantity not 
counted, as it was too cheap to regard that. 

The following table will show the weight of each hog, 
and the weight of each piece of meat cut for bacon. 



Hogs. 


Hams. Shoulders. 


Sides 


Heads. 


312 lbs. 


30 lbs. 32 lbs. 


44 lbs. 23 lbs. 




30 ' 


30 " 


38 ' 




308 " 


29 ' 


34 " 


40 ' 


21 " 




30 ' 


35 " 


38 ' 




295 " 


30 ' 


35 " 


37 ' 


19 " 




32 ' 


35 " 


34 ' 




289 " 


29 ' 


29 " 


34 ' 


21 " 




27 ' 


30 " 


38 ' 




259 " 


27 ' 


23 " 


26 ' 


21 " 




27 ' 


24 " 


26 ' 




181 " 


20 ' 


19 " 


19 ' 






20 ' 


22 " 


19 ' 


12 " 


1644 


331 


348 


393 


117 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1846 19 

Scraps, &c. — 21 lbs. of feet; 213 lbs. of sausage meat, 
and ribs and back bones and trimmings off; 150 lbs. of 
leaf lard and fat trimmings; 71 lbs. loss in cutting, and 
difference in weighing; 331 lbs. weight of 12 hams; 348 
ditto 12 shoulders; 393 ditto 12 sides; and 117 do. 6 
heads:— 1644 lbs. 

This pork when killed was worth 3 cts. a pound — I will 
say it would only shrink the 44 odd pounds in taking to 
market, at which it would amount to $48. The lard tried 
out 129 lbs., a most beautiful article, the scraps not being 
much squeezed, as that would rob the good wife's soap 
tub. 

On the 28th of April, the bacon being well smoked and 
dried, was ready to bag up. I weighed it, and found that 
the twelve hams weighed 304 lbs. (loss 27) ; 12 shoulders, 
331 lbs. (loss 17) ; 12 sides, 259 lbs. (loss 34) ; I am 
inclined to think that an error of 10 lbs. was made in 
the weight of the shoulders, as I have heretofore found 
the per centage of loss about the same on these as 
on the hams. I will therefore throw off ten pounds 
on these, and we have 1,113 lbs. of bacon and lard in 
good weight and order, for market, which at 6i/4 cts. a 
pound, which is a fair average price, will come to $69.56. 
The heads and sausage meat are worth one cent a pound, 
$3.30; 24 feet, 14 cts., will make an even sum of $73; 
from which take the $48 price of hogs before cutting, 
and it leaves a very pretty little sum to pay for a dollar's 
worth of salt and saltpetre, and the little trouble of 
handling. But it must be small-boned fat hogs, as these 
were, to do it. In this case I could sell the bacon and 
lard at 4i/^ cts., and be well paid for trouble and cost of 
making bacon, because the heads, &c., are worth much 
more than I stated them at in any family. 

The principal object in this statement is to inform 
those who have had less experience in this matter than I 
have, whether it is most advantageous to sell their hogs 
fresh, or cut and salt; and for that purpose I have en- 
deavored to be accurate. Each person in his own place 



20 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

will judge of his own market and relative prices, and if 
his hogs are not so good as mine, make greater allowance 
for loss and offal. 

Will someone who keeps a pork barrel, make a similar 
statement, and publish for the benefit of your readers? 

Solon Robinson. 

Lake C. H. (noiv called Crown Point), ^ 
Ind., May 15, 1846. 

Review of the September No. of the Agriculturist. 

[New York American Agriculturist, 5:374-79; Dec, 1846] 

[September ?, 1846] 

French Mode of Making Apple Butter. — Now, with all 
due deference to French cooking, I do not believe that this 
French dish is a better condiment than the old-fashioned 
Yankee apple sauce, when composed of three-fourths rich, 
sweet apples, and one-fourth quinces, thoroughly cooked 
in good sweet cider, after boiling five gallons into one. 
[Neither do we, and we wish we knew where we could get 
a half barrel of it for our winter supplies.] I am sure the 
domestic is the best, but let those who can, try both. Who 
will tell how the western or southern apple butter is 
made? In a journey we once made from Massachusetts, 
through those states, we found this article good and 
cheap. [We hope some of our readers will answer our 
correspondent in the matter of apple butter.'] 

Preservation of Apples. — Strike out from the direc- 
tions for packing all the articles but the sand, and be sure 
it is very clean, very dry, and that it fills all the inter- 
stices so that no two apples touch. Any warm upper room 
is better to keep the cask in than a cellar, unless it is a 
very cool one, and unusually dry. It will take a very hard 
frost to injure fruit so packed. All kinds of vegetables 
may be preserved a long time fresh in the same way. I 

' The post-office designation was not changed from Lake C. H. to 
Ci'own Point until June 26, 1845, although the new name had been 
used locally since late in 1840. 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1846 21 

have known potatoes so kept at sea, much longer than any 
other way. One voyage in particular I recollect, our decks 
were often swept by the sea breaking over them, and 
leaking down through the hatchway among the potatoes, 
endangering them by the moisture. Who knows but pota- 
toes might be kept thus from being affected in winter by 
the rot? [We doubt whether sand-packing would pre- 
serve them, but are confident fine charcoal dust would. 
The latter would also be a much better preservative at 
sea, as it is a great absorber of moisture.] Such articles 
as these are among the most valuable of a work like the 
Agriculturist, but the directions should always be very 
plain and simple, and, above all, correct. 

Importation of Pure-bred Merino Sheep. — I am well 
pleased that we have got one importation of pure Meri- 
nos, about which there can be no dispute. It is pleasing 
to see such a devotion of wealth to such a national object 
of benefit to the cultivators of American soil, as this act 
of Mr. Taintor,^ who is entitled to receive a meed of 
praise from all the friends of agricultural improvement 
in the country. It is a great pity that many other men of 
wealth do not "occupy their leisure hours with as useful 
a hobby." It is my opinion that this kind of fine-woolled 
sheep, taking all things into consideration, are the very 
best of any in the United States for profitable wool- 
growing. Though, indeed, I entertain serious fears that, 
under the new tariff, that branch of American industry 
is destined to be prostrated. [We have no fears of the 
kind. We will turn out American intelligence, industry, 
and perseverance, in growing wool, against the whole 
world, tariff or no tariff.] 

Patent Fence.- — I do abhor this disposition to patent 
every new thought. In fact, this is not new. and is un- 

' John A. Taintor spent fifteen months in France, Spain, Saxony, 
Prussia, and Austria examining sheep. He brought home four 
Saxon bucks and four ewes and three Merino bucks and twenty- 
three ewes. Avierican AgriculUirist, 5:266. 

"^ Posts made of the same composition as common bricks, burnt or 
baked to consistency of hard arched brick. Ibid., 5:267. 



22 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

worthy a patent. I have thought and talked of the same 
plan years ago, but gave it up as worthless. The interest 
on the cost extra over wood posts, will amount to enough 
and more, than to pay for replacing them. I cannot dis- 
cover "its cheapness." And unless made very heavy, these 
posts will not prove "imperishable." They are not so 
strong as stone; and unless very hard burnt, will rot 
about as soon as locust or cedar timber, and be very likely 
to be broken by frost. If this country must continue for 
ever to be taxed one hundred millions of dollars a year 
for useless fencing, the sooner we commence building iron 
fences the better. (See January No., page 171.) I mean 
my language to be plain enough to show that I am not 
"on the fence." 

Symptoms of Disease in Animals. — Will you please to 
tell us where to feel the pulse, and how to know whether 
it is "full and frequent," or not? Otherwise this article 
is not of much practical benefit to us unlearned diggers of 
the soil. Veterinary surgical knowledge is at a very low 
ebb in this country. [The poets say, "there is a pulse in 
every vein ;" so now, Mr. Reviewer, we think you will be 
at no loss to find it. If you are, call upon the arteries; 
and if you cannot find these, the next time you skin an 
animal, just map them out on a paper or wooden animal, 
and set the same up on your kitchen mantel-piece for the 
study of yourself and family. All this is easier done than 
plowing straight lines.] 

Use of Gypsum, &c. — Although you "presume that most 
intelligent farmers are perfectly acquainted with every- 
thing concerning it," I assure you that not one-tenth of 
them know anything about it. To many of your readers, 
I presume your remarks of its uses and benefits will be 
new; and it will also be new for them to learn, that by 
using a small quantity of gypsum at a trifling expense, 
they may absorb and prevent nearly all the unpleasant 
smell of a privy, &c. Will one in ten do it? Tan bark 
applied daily will effect the same purpose; so will ashes 
or lime in a great measure. 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1846 23 

Anderson's Patent Hammer.^ — Of all the improvements 
ever made upon this important and indispensable little 
tool, this last is undoubtedly the best. The greatest won- 
der is, why it was not thought of before. 

Tomatos. — Of all the modes of cooking them there is 
none quite equal to "our way." Scald and peel them; 
then stew them in their own liquor a long time, till there 
are no lumps; then add crumbs of dry bread to absorb 
nearly all the juice. They are good when first cooked 
while hot, and equally good when cold, or when warmed 
up again, morning, noon, or night. In fact, I may say of 
them what the sublime poet says of another standing 
dish : — 

Bean porridge hot, and bean porridge cold, 
And bean porridge best at nine days old. 

Dandelion Coffee. — What! that common plant that 
grows in everybody's door-yard? Is it a fact? Who has 
tried it on this continent? Anything that will help to stop 
the enormous consumption of coffee in this country, I 
shall look upon as a great blessing and saving of health 
and life. 

The Alpaca. — This is a very interesting article, in 
which much useful information is conveyed in a concise 
form ; and if passed over by the reader might as well be 
referred to again. By the by, what of the project for 
importing alpacas? Will it fall through for want of 
funds? I shall feel ashamed of my country if such is the 
fact. It does not seem probable to me that the alpaca or 
any cross from them will ever be used in this country as 
beasts of burden. Although very useful in the moun- 
tains of Peru, where it is necessary to carry packages 
over regions entirely destitute of roads, I do not think 
they would suit this railroad region of go-a-head-i-tive- 
ness, where every man has, or may have, a good carriage- 
road by his door. Though I must acknowledge that many 

' The claw was to be bent back to the handle, clasping it with a 
strong ring. American Agriculturist, 5:269. 



24 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

of said roads are very rough ones, and show that the 
dwellers thereon are but a small remove above the un- 
civilized llama-drivers of Peru. 

Manure. — Will manure deteriorate if kept under a shed, 
or if well piled up out of doors? If lime, gypsum, ashes, 
or charcoal, were mixed with the heap, will it "undergo 
a degree of combustion and become dry rotten, mouldy, 
and useless?" In using fresh, hot stable dung, I never 
have found any difficulty if plowed in deep. The best way 
to do it when much mixed with straw, is to spread it upon 
the ground before the plow, and then let a boy follow 
with a rake and rake into each furrow the width of the 
next. 

To Prevent Smut in Wheat. — It is truly strange that 
smutty wheat should ever be grown, when it can so easily 
and certainly be prevented. The most expeditious way 
to wash a quantity of wheat is, to have a large trough full 
of brine ; let the wheat be in a tub or basket at one end, 
where the washer can dip it up conveniently into a sieve, 
a small quantity at a time; plunge the sieve suddenly 
down into the brine, and nearly all of the smut will rise 
up and float over ; then empty the wheat into another tub 
of brine, and the remainder of the smut, if any, will float; 
brush away to the other end of the trough the floating 
smut, and repeat the operation until your second tub or 
trough needs emptying. I don't think it will need to 
stand and soak, and I don't think you can grow smut 
from wheat so treated. Dry your seed as directed, with 
lime, ashes, or gypsum. 

Side-hill Plows. — Ruggles, Nourse & Mason, manufac- 
ture a very strong and easily worked implement, which 
needs only to be seen to be appreciated. There are fifty 
thousand of them needed at this moment in Mississippi, 
Alabama, Tennessee, and Missouri, upon the soft easily 
washed side-hills of those states. 

Repeal of the British Corn Laivs. — You and I, Mr. Edi- 
tor, differ very widely in our appreciation of the benefit 
likely to be derived by American farmers by this act of 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1846 25 

Great Britain, As a philanthropist, I rejoice to think 
that the half-starved English and Irish slaves may par- 
take of some of the blessings enjoyed by our American 
slaves. For, among the latter, suffering, for lack of food, 
is almost an unknown thing. I most sincerely wish that 
the British starvelings could have a goodly share of the 
eatables of this country that daily go to waste; or, the 
good, rich food that our hirelings turn up their noses at, 
and would utterly refuse to live upon. I do not dispute 
your axiom that there is a tendency to produce a surplus 
of grain in this country ; but I do say, that it would place 
this country in a far more prosperous condition if there 
was sufficient inducement for that portion of the popula- 
tion which tends to create that surplus, to engage in other 
pursuits to an extent that there would be a home con- 
simiption of all the agricultural products of our fertile 
soil. If the cultivators of American soil are only to look 
to a foreign market for their surplus productions, it will 
take more millions than there are in your arithmetic to 
compensate them for their loss of a home market. Again, 
all the exports of agricultural products, even should it 
(which I doubt) amount to $20,000,000 a year, will be 
returned to us in the manufactured products of pauper 
labor, such as every country should always make at home. 
While it is recollected that those engaged in the carrying 
trade are "consumers," that a goodly number of them are 
foreigners, and that a very much larger number of con- 
sumers would be engaged in carrying the surplus coast- 
wise, for the home consumption of home manufacturers 
of home-grown raw materials, into fabrics to export, in- 
stead of exporting the raw material and food for others 
to use to gain a power to level the agriculturists of this 
countiy down to the same level as the serfs of overgrown 
British land monopolizers. "Hence the disastrous effects" 
can and will be as "great as apprehended by some ;" and 
while "many of our farmers will grow richer by the sales 
of their produce" to English manufacturers, many, very 
many more, will grow poorer in consequence of the repeal 



26 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

of our own and British tariff laws. We shall see. [We 
think our correspondent has slightly misapprehended the 
tone of our article. We simply congratulated the Ameri- 
can people, and those of Great Britain and Ireland, upon 
the repeal of the odious duty on corn. In stating the ad- 
vantages of enlarging a foreign, we said nothing of the 
home market, of the importance of which no one has a 
higher estimation than ourselves ; and we would do every- 
thing which we thought just and honorable to extend it. 
Do we understand Reviewer to assert that enlarging the 
foreign is likely to curtail the home market? If so, we 
should be pleased to know how this is to be accomplished. 
We are of opinion that taking off the late duty on corn, in 
Great Britain, will add at least five cents per bushel to 
its average value in this country, for the next ten years to 
come. Admitting the product now to be 400,000,000 bush- 
els, this would be a gain to the country of $20,000,000 per 
annum. Previous to the duty being taken off of cheese, 
in Great Britain, in 1841, we exported to the United 
Kingdom next to nothing ; and the price had got down in 
our own. country to 3 and 4 cents per lb., for a prime arti- 
cle, thus making it a losing business to the dairyman. 
Now that same article is worth fully 7 cents, and up- 
wards ; and one million pounds of it were exported, dur- 
ing the last week in October, from this port (New York) 
alone. Would Reviewer leave us to infer that this was 
going to benefit the pauper population of England, to the 
injury of the American dairyman? No; we will do him 
the credit to believe that he would draw no such conclu- 
sion; and yet we are sanguine in the opinion that corn 
and cheese will prove a parallel case.] 

Foreign Cattle. — I agree with you most cordially, neigh- 
bor Bement,^ that we have imported enough at present. 
If we rightly improve those we have, we might better be- 
come e.rporters than importers We might just as well 
import our wheat and potatoes, as any more cattle. Many 
now have learned to think that nothing American is good 

' See Robinson, l:131n and Index. 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1846 27 

enough for their perverted taste. We have the seed, and 
if as good cattle cannot be grown upon our soil as that of 
Great Britain, let us acknowledge the fact, and own our 
dependence again upon our old mother for all the common 
necessaries of life. 

Southern Agriculture. — Perhaps it is as your corre- 
spondent from Louisiana^ thinks, "almost useless for any- 
one to waste paper and ink to write to the southern plant- 
er," &c., because he won't read. If your "plantations are 
too extensive to manure thoroughly," throw away one- 
half or three-quarters, and treat the remaining part ra- 
tionally. The fact is, your system of rushing everything 
is your ruin. I don't know how it is with you, as I have 
never visited your immediate locality, but I know in many 
of the cotton plantations, the most destructive system of 
farming is pursued that I ever saw. The timber is barely 
cleared from the land before the soil is literally washed 
away down the steep side-hills, and the land spoiled for 
ever ! Perhaps your land at "Redwood" is level, and only 
in danger of being worn out by the eternal round of cot- 
ton after cotton every year, which you cannot prevent, 
because you "have no time to haul large quantities of 
manure to the field." But I tell you that you do not need 
to haul manure ; your land can be kept in good condition 
for ever by green crops plowed in, and by doing all your 
plowing twice as deep as you now do, which I venture to 
assert is not over two inches. If you think differently, I 
beg you to go into your fields unknown to the plowmen, 
and stick down a dozen pegs two inches below the sur- 
face, and then follow the plows and see how many they 
will plow up. If the present low price of cotton contin- 
ues, it will drive you to cultivate other crops, which, if 
not otherwise profitable, will save your soil from utter 
prostration. I have seen as fine Cuba tobacco grown a 
hundred miles north of you, as ever grew upon that 
Island. As for the assertion that northern farmers would 
be as bad off as your southern farmers now are, I cannot 

'James S. Peacocke, of Redwood, near Jackson, Louisiana. 



28 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

agree to it. Look how they are renovating some of the 
worn-out lands of Virginia. When your present exhaust- 
ing system of farming in Louisiana has ruined the land, 
and its present occupants, northern farmers will then 
come and grow rich, where the system of starving the soil 
has ruined the owners. These are facts, however useless 
it may be to write them to southerners. But I am glad to 
see that one planter, the writer of the article under re- 
view, is in a fair way to be benefited by reading the Agri- 
culturist; and it is a great pity that many others could 
not be induced to follow his example in both reading and 
writing in agricultural papers. 

Re^noving Stains frotn Cloth. — This is one of those 
plain, concise articles, that all grades of intellect can un- 
derstand. It is the many such useful articles as this that 
gives great value to your paper. I like them. 

Yelloivs in Peach Trees. — No doubt the cure is effec- 
tual. But I wish to know whether it would not also 
answer to cut them off even with the ground, and then 
the roots will sprout up and make new trees? 

Management of Honey Bees. — I have only one remark 
to make upon this article. Mr. Miner condemns bee- 
houses in toto This is so contrary to old custom that I 
cannot at once agree to it. My bee-house is simply for 
the purpose of sheltering the hives from sun and storm, 
and I have never experienced the difficulties mentioned. 
But if Mr. Miner's plan of hanging up hives in the open 
air is best, it certainly is cheapest. But pray, Mr. M., do 
your hives never warp and crack, and leak water ; and is 
the sun not too hot without any shade whatever? Let us 
hear further from you on this point, and in a more seri- 
ous mood. 

Solving Machine. — For seeding, I prefer Pennock's, for 
that plants and covers ; but this may do well for spread- 
ing plaster, &c., which that would not. But this costs too 
much, and I think it can be simplified and cheapened. 
Construct the upper roller in the figure so as to serve for 
the axle, and by being made fast in the hubs of common 



PICTORIAL AMF/PJOAN FARMF.Il. 

1 1 \N0(. iv ■> r\i tN r -1 1 1) \M> ( \iN I r \\ ivin -, 

B or 1 hj ;\ t )l I J 1 I 1 f I I Ihiju-., Turnips, Sec. 

i - -■^ P- 2 ^ - = i: ^ « 
H : = •^' i ^ c ~ 3 -^ a ,r 



# 



IF' 









. - c; '- ^. ci -T g .^ t: c 
T vi -; ■= - v> ^ ~ • « '^ 

: ^ -^ ^ ^ . ,;""•'" '^-*' 




_ £ i o. 



'jft.^ r-s J a 






Wheat drilled ii). 




j..->. -./ / „'.' .vr ,...t.. -J, 
Wheat plou-hod in. ..-^::.:^i^^ 

~^ i ;jh:^ % --£>;; <^^ »: 

•owed in. ^.;^|v^ 



Wheat harr 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1846 29 

wagon wheels, revolve with them. Geer from the axle 
direct into the cylinder. Have a revolving band on the 
centre of the axle, to which the coupling rod can be at- 
tached, and then the whole of the sowing apparatus can 
be attached to a common wagon, and not cost over $20. 
If the present machine is patented, my improvement is 
not; so all creation may use it if they like. There is no 
doubt, in my mind, about the feasibility of the alteration. 

Colic in Horses. — The recipe is very good,^ but the dif- 
ficulty is to know whether the complaint is colic. I have 
seen a good many horses die with a complaint that ap- 
peared like colic, which no medicine on earth could cure 
after the horse showed symptoms similar to colic. The 
directions for prevention are therefore the most valuable 
of the two.^ 

The Superior Corn Bread, found at Bement's Hotel, I 
have eaten there, and endorse "good;" but I have eaten 
the superior of it made in a southern negro cabin, with 
meal and water only, thoroughly worked into stiff dough 
and palatably salted, then laid between two cabbage 
leaves and buried like a potato to roast in the hot embers 
of a wood fire. Such corn bread is good — cheap — easily 
made — but never grind the meal fine. This is where the 
English will fail — they talk of "flour of Indian corn;" 
that spoils it most surely. 

Succotash. — All right Mr. Farmer and Gardener. Hope 
all your readers have got the pork, and will follow your 
plain directions to cook this excellent dish, which is often 
spoilt in making 

Adulteration of Milk. — There is but one way that I can 
see which will be likely to secure us pure milk in the city 
of New York; and that is, by establishing an extensive 
milk company under the surveillance of the police, sub- 

^ It prescribed "a strong decoction of soot tea, to which add half 
a pint of whisky ... if relief is not obtained in a few minutes, 
give an injection of soap suds, with a gill of strong decoction of 
tobacco, and a little salt added." American Agriculturist, 5:277. 

* The preventive called for lime, salt, ashes, or salt water used in 
the food. Ibid. 



30 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

ject to a forfeiture of their privileges if ever found sell- 
ing adulterated milk. Having a large number of regular 
customers, it will be the interest of the company to sell 
nothing but pure milk, and certainly the interest of pur- 
chasers to buy from no other source This combination 
would brush down dishonest dealers. The subject is 
worthy of further thought and discussion. 

Wheat in Georgia. — I am well aware that good wheat 
crops can be groivn in all the Southern States ; but I wish 
to inquire of Mr. Terrell,^ how the grain can be preserved 
from the destruction of the weevil, which so infest all the 
country south of latitude 37° or 38°, that I have ever 
visited? If they do not infest Georgia, and wheat can 
be profitably grown there for "37 V^ cents a bushel," it is 
cheaper than it can be grown upon the boasted prairie 
lands of the West, maugre a late article in the New York 
Journal of Commerce, asserting that it can be grown for 
16 cents ! Mr. Terrell is an observing and interesting cor- 
respondent ; but I would recommend to him to take great 
care that his observations made while travelling by rail- 
road, are not erroneous. We have too many railroad 
travellers' publications now-a-days. His observation upon 
the true policy of the South to raise her own provisions, 
is worthy of all credit, and should be much more gener- 
ally practised. But when that becomes the case, several 
of the North-western States will feel the loss of a home 
market, and at the same time learn that they have no 
foreign one. [Dear Reviewer, don't be so certain of that 
fact, otherwise we fear we shall be obliged to suspect you 
as one of the Editors of the New York Tribune.] 

Drovers' Dogs. — This cut is not quite "as clear as 
mud," though somewhat muddy; for to us unlearnt in 
dogology, we are not able to distinguish "Boxer" from 
"Rose," and therefore it is not so interesting as 

Domestic Fish-Ponds, with its clear, beautiful illustra- 
tions, and very lucid description, by an excellent writer, 
whose new work upon the "Trees of America," I will read 

' William Terrell, of Sparta, Georgia. 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1846 31 

with pleasure, whenever the author sends me a copy.^ 
[You shall have one gratis, if we have to send it our- 
selves.] 

Practical Facts about Pork and Bacon.^ — This is from 
a prolific pen, from whence flow a great many practical 
facts upon a great many interesting subjects, and upon 
this one he writes exactly as though "he was brought up 
among the hogs." That this article is an interesting one, 
is proved by the fact that it is "taking the round of the 
papers." 

How to Destroy the Canada Thistle. — This is all very 
good doctrine; but how are you to induce "every man to 
weed on his own side of the fence ?" Weeds in fence cor- 
ners, is another of the evils of our wretched system of 
fencing, which has not been sufficiently adverted to by 
the advocates of cultivating land without fence. And 
until that day of wisdom arrives, I, for one, despair of 
ridding the land of this troublesome weed, as well as 
many other of the evils of the system of compelling one 
man to fence against everybody else's cattle. Be assured, 
"old farmer," that although you may "chisel" out the 
thistle, a thousand others will not; and "faith without 
works" will never rid the country of the Canada thistle, 
any more than in the negro's sermon it could make "de 
hog a gemman in de parler." 

Imported Cattle. — I have said my say in remarks upon 
Mr. Bement's communication. Mr. Vail is a very enter- 
prising friend of improvement, and has a beautiful herd 
of cattle;^ but suppose you admit similar articles from 

'Daniel Jay Browne, The Trees of America; Native and Foreign 
. . . (New York, 1846). Author and compiler of numerous agri- 
cultural and scientific works. Employed in the agricultural ware- 
house of A. B. Allen & Co., New York, and also as assistant editor 
of the American Agriculturist, 1845-1851. Connected with the cen- 
sus and patent offices at a later period. See sketch in Dictionary of 
AvveHcan Biography, 3:164-65; also post, 37. 

' See ante, 17-20. Robinson was apparently trying to prevent his 
recognition as "Reviewer." 

' George Vail, of Oak Grove near Troy, New York. President of 
Merchants and Mechanics Bank of Troy. Director of a railroad 
from Troy to Ballstown Spa, 1832. Wholesale dry-goods merchant, 



32 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

all the eminent stock-breeders in the country, including 
pedigrees, would it be interesting to the great majority 
of your readers? The half-dozen lines in your August 
No., with the addition of the importer's name, is all the 
space that should, in justice to your paying readers, have 
been occupied by this subject. 

Private Agricultural Schools. — Well, if you "cannot 
agree with Reviewer," we will not quarrel.^ Your poli- 
tics, which you proclaim in this article, are so different 
from mine, that it will probably be useless for us to 
attempt to "hitch our horses together." I believe the ob- 
ject of all governments should be to foster the interests of 
the people governed; and to collect and concentrate re- 
sources to accomplish great works, for great good, by a 
great combined effort of the whole people, through the 
agency of the rulers acting as managers for all the indi- 
viduals, that no one individual can do. And I do not con- 
sider myself a bad citizen, though you do, because I advo- 
cate this "plain political axiom." But while you depre- 
cate all governmental endowments of schools, why do you 
advocate "an annual appropriation for the collecting of 
materials and sending forth substantial public documents, 
containing real information to the agricultural commu- 
nity in regard to their business." The late bundle of 
trash from the Patent Office, I suppose you consider a 
substantial document of the class you wish to patronize. 
Verily, friend, thou art inconsistent, and I fear somewhat 

1807-1835, when he retired and devoted his time to stock raising. 
Vice-president of the New York State Agricultural Society, 1854; 
president, 1856. Restricted his cattle to pure Shorthorns. Exhib- 
ited at Rensselaer County Agricultural Show, October, 1843, and 
at the State Agricultural Show at Albany, 1850. Contributor to 
the Cultivator, American Agriculturist, and The Plough, the Loom, 
and the Anvil. Anderson, George B., Landmarks of Rensselaer 
County New York, 232, 256, 258, 318, 351 (Syracuse, 1897). 



' A.R.D. of Hackett's Town, New Jersey, advocated private enter- 
prise in agricultural schools, fearing the entrance of office seekers 
and political speculators if the government took over their adminis- 
tration. American Agriculturist, 5:284-85. 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1846 33 

agrarianish in thy principles. At all events, thou art not 
well versed in true political economy. "Let us have no 
national school," you say. Then let us have no national 
monopoly of the public domain, which instead of convert- 
ing the proceeds into schools, and roads, and harbors, for 
the benefit of those who pay their money for them, have 
diverted every dollar so wrung from the hard toil of the 
poor pioneer in the forest, for the cut-throat purpose of 
"glorious war," upon a defenceless people, to gain more 
territory to devote again to the same purpose. But this 
is not, I suppose, in your opinion, "beyond the proper 
sphere" of government. 

Dr. Philips' Reply to Reviewer, is an interesting arti- 
cle, and I feel pleased to think that I have been the cause 
of drawing him out so fully. Still, he might have written 
more lengthily upon the several inquiries made, with 
equal interest. I am sorry to think from the closing para- 
graph of the Doctor's letter, that perhaps he thought my 
remarks were too much in a vein of ridicule, for an entire 
stranger to indulge in. But the truth is, he is no stranger 
to me, and I know he loves a joke and would laugh heart- 
ily now if he could "ferret me out," and learn how I know 
that peas "have a haulm." 

Gardening , No. 7, should never have been thus entitled ; 
for, although an interesting article upon geological sci- 
ence, it has not one word upon the science of gardening. 
"In uncultivated grounds, soils occupy only a few inches 
in depth of the surface," is an old theory that may be 
true in Europe when it was first written, but it is not so 
when applied to millions of acres of American soil ; which, 
in some of the western states, is deeper than the plow 
ever runs. I do not believe that "every gardener or 
farmer who know the sorts of plants naturally produced 
upon a soil," would be able to determine its value for cul- 
tivation. I recollect being told many years ago in Michi- 
gan, while "land hunting," that wherever I found the 
burr oak, I should find warm, rich, sandy land; and yet, 
in truth, I found it afterwards growing upon poor, cold, 
hard, clayey land. So "these plants are not absolutely to 



34 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

be depended upon ;" in fact, only in extreme cases, not to 
be depended upon at all. 

Wool-growing in Western Neiv York. — I like this kind 
of articles. In reviewing it I wish to ask Mr. Peters a 
few questions, which I am sure he will answer freely, to 
make his statements more plain to some of us dull-brained 
city dwellers. You state that we can buy farms at $10 or 
$12 per acre, that will carry "300 sheep to every 100 acres 
of cleared land ;" but do you in the cost make allowance 
for woodland? Would not that be included in the price, 
and, of course, add to the capital? And, again, you allow 
no chance whatever for a poor man, or one even with 
$3,000 or $4,000, to engage in wool-growing in western 
New York. Must all of that class be driven to the prai- 
ries of the west? Now, it appears to me, if no man with 
a less capital than $14,000 can profitably engage in the 
business, that very few will undertake it without a better 
show of figures than yours. The truth is, that the capi- 
talist can make "11 per cent." so much more certain and 
easy, that he will not engage in the laborious business of 
a sheep farm, without a prospect of much larger profits. 
Will twelve tons (and what kind) of hay without grain, 
winter 100 sheep? Is 20 acres of pasture, on an average, 
not a small allowance? Do you pasture meadow and 
grain fall or spring? 

Feeding Large Dogs in Toivn. — If with the first feed 
described, you will give nineteen twentieths of these dogs, 
each a sixpence worth of strychnine, it will save much 
future expense, and add greatly to the comfort of many 
thousand citizens, and still leave all the dogs that can be 
of any possible advantage to their owners or anybody 
else — dogs included! 

Ladies' Department. — Not a word to say. I dare not 
look under that — what-d'ye-call-it? and I cannot see the 
beauty of the thing unless I do.^ So I will pass on to the 

^ The article referred to described the construction of a "para- 
petticoat" from a parasol and a petticoat, to be used to cover a 
rosebush while green flies were smoked out. American Agricul- 
turist, 5:289. 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1846 35 

Chapter on Grasses, which is well calculated to give 
correct information to the boys. But, pray tell me, which 
is the real Kentucky "blue grass," Poa pratensis or Poa 
compressa? [Botanists have decided Poa pratensis.'] 
What is called blue grass in New York is a different grass 
from that which is so called in Kentucky. If "E. L." will 
write an article giving a plain description of each kind 
of hay and pasture grass — when sown — growth — size — 
duration — use, &c., and the editor will illustrate with cuts 
[we will do it], it will be a very valuable article for the 
Boys' Department of this paper. I think that the distilla- 
tion of spirit from the seeds of several of the true grasses, 
as well as from the juice of the sugar-cane grass, is no less 
"tLsefuV than the production of hay, bread, beef, pork, 
paper, hats, mats, bags, and ladies' bonnets, all of which 
are made of the "grass of the field that perisheth." And 
yet I am a strict temperance man. But I know that dis- 
tilled spirit is one of the blessings of civilisation, and for 
many purposes not only useful, but almost, perhaps 
wholly, indispensable. How dreadfully is this good gift 
abused ! 

Boys, he Kind to Domestic Animals. — I could write a 
long sermon from this text; but when done it would not 
comprehend more meaning than those six short words. 
Let me but learn the natural disposition of a boy to be 
cruel to domestic animals, and I will paint his horoscope 
most truly ; but it shall be an unenviable picture for him 
to look upon. Very likely the prison and gallows will 
form the end of the view. No trait in a child's character 
is more displeasing to me. No nation of people, except 
some of the very lowest grades of African barbarians, 
attempts to live without the use of domestic animals. Let 
them ever be treated kindly in all respects. 

Foreign Agricultural News. — Here I find an article 
from the Gardener's Chronicle, upon the subject of sub- 
stituting other seed wheat, with a view of shortening the 
growing season, and consequently bringing on the har- 
vest in summer instead of autumn. I should like to know 



36 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

what is the reason our winter wheat cannot be grown in 
England, and whether the experiment has been thor- 
oughly tried with seed from this country ? In this country, 
our seeding is done before the harvesting in England. 
What they call spring wheat there, which I believe is 
usually sown in February, when brought here, becomes 
winter wheat, and must be sown in autumn to perfect 
its seed. 

Pulling Flax. — The directions will answer as well for 
this country as England. But there is so much labor at- 
tached to growing and preparing flax for the spinner, 
that other crops will usually be found more profitable 
here than flax, except when grown exclusively for seed, 
and then it need not be pulled. 

Making Rhubarb (pie plant) Wine, or preserving it, I 
cannot see the object of here where we have so many 
other better things. 

Bones Dissolved in Caustic Ley. — It seems curious that 
it should be necessary to publish this fact, known to 
every "old woman" who ever made soap, and much more 
curious that it should have ever been the subject of a 
patent. But that was in England, where one is restrained 
by an excise law from making his own soap out of his 
own bones, grease, and ashes. 

The Potato Disease. — The remarks upon this go to 
prove to my mind, that the cause of this lamentable mal- 
ady lies beyond the reach of all human skill; and I fear 
it is destiny that we shall no longer depend upon this 
crop as a means of sustaining animal life, I sincerely 
hope that my presentiments will prove false. I cannot 
read an article upon the subject without having vivid pic- 
tures of human suffering presented to my mind. 

The Editor's Table is not as sumptuously furnished 
this month as usual, and so we can the sooner pass over it. 

Results of Hydropathy seems to be the most tempting 
dish to a cold water man. This is undoubtedly a good 
curative system; but like a great many other new sys- 
tems, it claims too much — so much, in fact, that the whole 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1846 37 

is pronounced a humbug. I have myself experienced re- 
lief from a medicinal application of cold water upon the 
spine, for neuralgia ; but it is far from infallible. Your 
recommendations of ablution as a preventive, ought to be 
rigidly practised, and although I doubt its effect to drive 
away "nine-tenths of the diseases" of the human family, 
it might affect one-tenth, and would be so much clear 
gain. 

Life in Prairie Land. — As you say the fair authoress 
is an acquaintance of yours, and as you are a bachelor, 
I am somewhat afraid to trust to your recommendation 
without an endorser. If you had told us whether the 
lady had been an actual dweller [she was] in the land 
she describes, we could have formed a better judgment 
of her ability to describe the wild scenery of that wild 
country. 

French Cookery. — There is decidedly too much of it 
already in this country for the health of the people. It 
is a poor book to recommend to "plain farmers." Better 
publish the manner of cooking, and style of living in New 
England, when your worthy father was a youth there. 

The Trees of America. — I really hope this is just what 
it should be, for upon no subject was a good standard 
work more needed. Your remark that "the engravings 
are executed with considerable skill," is such faint praise, 
that I am induced to think they are not what they should 
be. [They are very neatly and accurately done.] It is 
one of the great beauties of Michaux's work upon the 
same subject, that the engravings are superb. If by 
some means the public mind of America cannot be in- 
duced to preserve and cultivate forest trees, the day is 
not far distant when we shall be as destitute of timber 
as many parts of Europe, where the want of it is dis- 
tressing. I suppose I must not say it should be the duty 
of the United States government to plant and use groves 
of timber upon the vast tracts of western prairie land, 
lest some politician should tell me that "that was not the 
legitimate business of government," but "should be left 
to individuals," and therefore never accomplished. 



38 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

Revieiv of the Market. — There are two or three facts 
in this of so much importance that I cannot close my re- 
view without calling the serious attention of American 
cultivators to their importance. Wheat in this market, the 
last of August, is worth 1 1/2 to 1 2/3 cents per pound ; 
manufactured into flour, only about 2 cents per pound. 
Rye is one cent per pound, and corn a little less. Sugar 
averages about 6 cents per pound, while mustard is from 
16 to 31 cents per pound. Now is it possible that any 
farmer can grow and pay freight upon, to send to mar- 
ket, 16 or 20 lbs. of wheat at the same price as one of 
mustard, or that he can manufacture and send to mar- 
ket 12 lbs. of wheat flour, for which he gets no more 
money than for one of mustard? Or can the planter 
send 4 lbs. of sugar to pay for 1 lb of mustard? A crop 
of mustard can be grown and sent to market as cheap 
as a crop of timothy seed, and yet that is quoted at an 
average of about 3 cents per pound. Again, 6 lbs. of 
hops will bring as much as 60 lbs. of wheat; and 1 lb. 
of hops can be exchanged for 2 1/2 or 3 lbs. of sugar. As 
hops will grow wherever corn will, is it worth while for 
Northern farmers to undertake to compete with corn 
sugar against the southern cane? If you cannot afford 
to exchange flour, you can mustard and hops. It is singu- 
lar, too, if beans and peas, particularly the latter, cannot 
be grown as cheap as wheat; yet they are quoted 50 per 
cent, higher. Again, sumac is quoted at about four-fifths 
the price of tobacco, and yet it does not require so rich 
a soil, nor one-tenth the labor of tobacco. It is also 
worth more by the pound than wheat. There are cer- 
tainly great inconsistencies in these prices, which must 
wholly arise from the neglect of those who are the most 
interested, as to what is the most profitable crop for them 
to cultivate. Reviewer. 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1846 39 

Review of the November and December Nos. of the 
Agriculturist. 

[New York American Agriculturist, 6:155-57; May, 1847] 

[December ?, 1846] 

Noxious Effects of Gases of Brick-Kilns on Fruits and 
Vegetation. — Now, it appears to me, that this matter all 
lies in a nut-shell. "Everybody knows" that the gas aris- 
ing from burning coal is injurious, but is it so from a 
wood-fire? Then if the kilns noticed by Dr. Underbill 
were burnt with coal, which I presume they were, the 
story is all told — for the gas is that arising from the 
sulphur burning in the coal and not from burnt clay. 

Bntish and Irish Flax-Cidture. — Its history, etc., but 
nothing of American flax-culture. For that is among the 
unknown things. And yet Solomon in all his glory could 
not convince me that it would not afford more profit to 
the culturist, either for seed or lint, than I have shown 
that the culture of wheat affords. I am satisfied from 
personal observation, that a vast portion of the virgin- 
soil of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Mis- 
souri, is well adapted to the growth of flax ; and yet how 
little of it is grown. The reason, it is said, is, that the 
price is too low. And yet in this No. of the Agriculturist, 
now under review, flax is quoted at seven and eight cents 
a pound, and flour at three cents. 

It is wondrous strange if flour can be delivered in New 
York City for less than one-half the price per pound of 
flax. 

Preservation of Potatoes. — I beg leave to call the atten- 
tion of the American Agricultural Association to this 
article, and that they take immediate steps to test its 
truth, and publish the result, as it is of vast importance 
if true.^ 

"BurralVs Corn-Sheller." — Is this the last improve- 

* The article stated that if potatoes were immersed four or five 
days in ammoniated water containing one ounce of liquor ammonia 
to a pint of water they could be preserved throughout the year. 
American Agriculturist, 5:337. 



40 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

ment? For really they come so thick that I am in the 
condition of the drunken man that thought his bed was 
going round him, and did not know when to jump on. 
At last when he thought he was "all right" he jumped 
and fell into the fire and burnt his fingers. And so it is 
of these machines. The inventive genius of Yankeedom 
is so great, that these machines come and go so fast that 
I don't know when to jump on, for fear I might burn my 
fingers. 

Popular Errors, No. 2. — Shrinking and Swelling of 
Meat in the Pot. — And do you suppose that this error, 
that was so popular in your youth, is now a thing of auld 
lang syne? I assure you it is as popular now as it was 
before the commencement of this "age of improvement." 
And although you and I may deny the moon, there are 
others who will as religiously adhere to it as witch-ridden 
mortals do to their preventive horse-shoes. 

Treatment of Mules by Doct. Phillips is like all of the 
Doctor's writings — just like himself — busy, bustling — 
full of life and vivacity. But I am glad to hear. Doctor, 
that you have less colic than at Brandon Springs. No 
doubt that your systematic management of mules is the 
true cause of your success; but more particularly is it 
owing to the fact of your giving your own personal atten- 
tion to such "small matters," which saves you the expense 
and vexation of the enormous annual loss of this useful 
animal in your own "glorious south." 

Gardening, No. 9. — The interest of these articles of 
Mr. Talbot is still kept up, and if any of the subscribers 
of the Agriculturist have not yet read them, I advise 
them to make use of these long winter evenings for that 
purpose. 

The Enemies of Bees. — Mr. Miner in this article prom- 
ises in his next to teach us the philosophy of keeping the 
moths out of our hives. Well, I long to see it. I have 
been much pleased with these articles, and, on account of 
their general good quality, refrained from pointing out 
some minor errors. I am entirely sceptical upon the sub- 



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Robinson Account Book, 1845-1846 

[Detail from a page of the original, in the possession of 
Mrs. Dora Randolph, Crown Point] 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1846 41 

ject of ever preventing the ravages of these dreaded ene- 
mies of the bee-breeder. While upon this subject, I have 
been told that there are no honey-bees in Oregon. Who 
knovi^s? And who can tell the best method of getting 
them there ? 

A Ready Rule for Farmers, made readier. — A "quarter 
of wheat" is an English measure of eight standard bush- 
els — so if you see wheat quoted at 56 shillings it is 7 
shillings a bushel. A shilling is 22 1/2 cents ; multiply by 
7 and you have $1.57 1/2 per bushel. 

In Kentucky, corn is measured by the barrel, which is 
five bushels of shelled corn. At New Orleans, a barrel 
of corn is a flour-barrel full of ears. At Chicago, lime is 
sold by the barrel, and measured in the smallest sized 
cask of that name that will pass muster. A barrel of 
flour is seven quarters of a gross hundred (112 lbs.) 
which is the reason of its being of the odd measure of 196 
lbs. A barrel of tar is 20 gallons, while a barrel of gun- 
powder is only a small keg holding 25 lbs., and that re- 
minds me of cotton, a bale of which is 400 lbs., no matter 
in what sized bundles it may be sent to market. 

Proposed Safety Lamp. — Allow me, my dear Doctor, 
to publicly thank you for calling the attention of cotton- 
planters, or rather those of our Yankee friends who do 
up all such little chores for you, to the great advantage of 
having a wire-gauze safety-lamp. 

The only reason why they have not been manufactured 
in this country is, because there has been no demand for 
them. But let it once be known that every cotton-planter 
would buy them, as well as every factor, carrier, packer, 
or handler of this combustible article, and I will engage 
that the market will be supplied. It appears to me that 
they should also be used in every stable, and in the manu- 
factories where the breaking of a glass lantern often en- 
dangers hundreds of thousands of dollars' worth of 
property. 

Dr. Phillips speaks of a square shape, with a door 
strongly fastened, «fec., but I suggest a barrel shape, and 
a heavy bottom screwed in with a coarse screw. 



42 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

American Wine. — Will that happy day ever come when 
we shall cease the folly of importing the "drugged per- 
nicious stuff which is too often, we may say almost gen- 
erally, imported for the use of the sick," and make use 
of a pure home-made wine? I feel proud to call Mr. 
Longworth an old friend of mine, just for what he has 
done to encourage and foster the growth of grapes in our 
country. 

It is delightful to take a ramble around among the hills 
at Cincinnati, to see how the energy of this one man has 
caused the wild and rugged hill sides to bring forth an 
abundance of this rich fruit. So long as wine must and 
will be made use of, I would prefer to see that raised from 
our own soil only used. As an article of medicine it is 
undoubtedly highly beneficial. 

The Potatoe Disease. — Enough said. "All signs fail in 
a dry time." Chronicle facts, but no more crude and use- 
less speculations and recipes. 

Entomology, No. 1. — Lest some of your little readers 
won't look in the dictionary to learn the meaning of that 
kind of ology, allow me to tell them that it is the history 
of insects, and I have no doubt but Mr. Talbot will make 
a most interesting series of chapters well worthy the 
perusal of old and young. The United States seem to be 
the home of bugs and all manner of creeping things, that 
are an exceeding great pest to American farmers; and 
they are rather on the increase, and give evidence every 
season of the correctness of the theory of the author of 
Vestiges of Creation, that new kinds are constantly oc- 
curring. I beg friend Talbot to condense as much as 
possible — not in the length of his articles, but in indi- 
vidual descriptions, for I am anxious for him to give a 
slight description of a very numerous family, without 
tiring his readers. He can do it. 

The Old Lady's Diary. — I have heretofore given my 
commendation to these excellent and quaintly written 
articles. "May they live a thousand years." The two 
recipes in this article are worth more than a year's sub- 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1846 43 

scription to this paper, to say nothing of the directions 
how to get rid of the fleas — to which add some of my diet 
for dogs, and it will help the matter, for then there will 
be less fleas. To the old lady's recipe for making "cream 
cheese," let me add my old Pennsylvania wife's recipe for 
making soft cheese — in Dutch, Smear Case. — Take a pan 
of lobbered milk and heat it gently, about blood warm, 
and the whey and curd will separate ; pour it in a strainer 
and hang it up until well drained; then break up the 
lump and rub it between the hands quite fine and add half 
a pint of cream to a soup-plate full, and it is cream cheese 
in our every day form. Try it; I guess you will like it; 
it is cheap. 

Allen's American Agriculture. — If this is not a better 
American book than "Johnson's American Farmer's En- 
cyclopedia,"^ I never shall thank my friend Richard for 
my copy which I have not yet read. But I think I know 
the author from his boyhood up, and can vouch for the 
work in advance, as being one that will interest every 
reader who undertakes its perusal, and if it don't make 
him a wise, good, and intelligent American agriculturist, 
he will not be what this author is. 

Premiums Aivarded. — Those of the State Society it 
will be seen are mostly in dollars, or books. I doubt the 
good policy of all premiums, at these shows, as well as 
the manner in which they are awarded. And I hold it 
to be entirely bad policy to give them in dollars. Cups 
and medals, such as those the American Institute give, 
are in much better taste. They will be preserved long 
after the dollars are melted away and gone. If all these 
sums expended in premiums could be funded, how long 
would it take to accumulate a sufficient sum to endow an 

' Cuthbert William Johnson, agricultural writer, born at Brom- 
ley, Kent, September 21, 1799; died at Waldronhurst, Croydon, 
March 8, 1878. Wrote numerous books and pamphlets on agricul- 
tural subjects and in 1844 translated Thaer's Priyiciplcs of Agri- 
culture from the German. An American edition of his Farmers' 
Encyclopaedia was published in Philadelphia in 1844. Dictionary 
of National Biography, 10:896 (1908 ed.). 



44 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

agricultural school that would be an honor in all coming 
time to our Empire State. I only throw out the hint here 
by way of text. Who will take up the subject and finish 
the sermon? It is worthy of consideration. 

I now come to the December No. The first article I 
shall notice, is that upon 

Preparing Corn {Maize) for Shipping to Europe. — It 
strikes me that I am Yankee and old sailor enough to 
invent a portable steam-engine, that can be taken into 
the warehouse or on deck of the receiving ship, which 
shall thoroughly dry the corn in the act of passing it on 
board and into the hold. By passing the corn through a 
tube of only a few feet in length, made so that a volume 
of hot steam surrounds the corn and keeps the tube as 
hot as steam can make it, would effectually free the corn 
of moisture, so that it would go into the hold so dry as 
almost to insure it against mustiness. Who will try it? 
I charge nothing for the patent. 

Letters from the South. — "Richard is himself again" 
whenever he takes hold of the pen. But at present he is 
travelling by railroad entirely too fast to give that in- 
terest to his letters that a slower rate of locomotion would 
enable him to do. So general a description as becomes 
necessary to crowd all the country between Baltimore and 
Charleston into one letter, lacks that detail which gives 
zest to a traveller's notes. We want you to stop by the 
wayside and "talk over the matter" with the old man and 
woman, girls and boys, besides the negroes. Give us "ten 
thousand a year" of little details of Southern farming, to- 
gether with descriptions of lands, farms, ferries, stock, 
tools, and all the fixings. You must do it. The editor has 
long promised us something of the kind. [We have some 
of his letters in hand, which will soon appear, particular 
enough to suit Reviewer.] 

Present Corn-Crop. — "Five hundred millions" is "all in 
T^y eye," and plenty of room for more. Your own esti- 
mate is nearer the truth, but that of 5 3/5 bushels to each 
soul in the United States, based upon the census of New 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1846 45 

York State the past summer, is far nearer the truth. I 
don't believe the average of the Union is greater than 
that of the State of New York. 

Pigstyes. — Very good — much like mine — nothing new. 
My plan better. Excuse an old sea-captain who is in the 
habit of speaking positive. My floor falls each way from 
the centre, two inches in ten feet, so that the wet cannot 
run into the beds. My troughs run the whole length of 
the front, and have horizontal doors so hung, that when 
swung back, the latch falls on the inside edge of the 
trough, which leaves it for cleaning or filling on the out 
side of the pen. When the food is in, raise the latch and 
the hogs push the door forward until the latch falls on 
the outside of the trough, and holds it there until you 
want to feed again. The advantage besides the conven- 
ience, is, that all the hogs come at once to the feed and 
share it more equally. And you know, in spite of all 
education, hogs will be hoggish, as well as folks, about 
their eating. 

Shoiv of the Berkshire Agrictdtural Society. — This 
comes from a ready pen,^ the traces of which I should like 
to see oftener in your pages. It also reminds me of home, 
though I would not from this have your readers think 
that I am Berkshire born. This, I believe, is the oldest 
Society of the kind in the United States, and like some of 
my friends, it grows better with every year. May the 
Spanish salutation apply most particularly to it ; and may 
all its doings tend to 

"Variegate, adorn, 
And make the farmer's home delightful." 

The Alpaca, No. 1. — This No. is the most interesting 
of the series, though there is that in it which looks rather 
discouraging to those about engaging in the importation 
of Alpacas into the United States. I am more and more 
convinced, that if the attempt is made to bring them 
around Cape Horn, a large portion of them may be ex- 

^ W. Bacon, of Mount Osceola, Massachusetts. 



46 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

pected to die on the passage. But after their arrival, if 
due attention is paid to what is written in these few short 
articles, it does seem to me, that they can be naturalized 
to some of our mountainous districts and prove an im- 
mense addition to our national wealth. Every person de- 
sirous of information about the Alpaca, should procure 
this volume of the Agriculturist. I do not know where 
he could obtain the same amount of information in so 
cheap and condensed a form. 

The Straiuberry Question. — By W. R. Prince.^ As of 
the potato question, enough said. Mr. Prince spins out 
his yarn entirely too fine to wear well with a majority 
of your readers. And those who read his articles must 
"wade along" as deep as he has done in Mr. Downing's 
articles." Mr. Prince cannot "set this question at rest 
for ever." His bump of combativeness is too large; and 
so is that of "the opposition." 

"Revieiv" of the last Review. — I asked you, Mr. Editor, 
uncommonly serious, to tell us "where to feel the pulse of 
animals," and you answer just as though you knew I 
owned flocks and herds of cattle which I often skinned, 
when in fact (not being a Loco editor) I never even 
skinned a 'coon. In another place you intimate that I 
may be "one of the Editors of the Tribune." In other 
words, a 'coon to he skinned. Now the fact is, you don't 
know whether I am a 'coon or a 'possum, as you have only 
seen my nose yet. Just wait till my tale is full grown, 
before you pretend to say whether I am one thing or an- 
other. As to our difference of opinion about the tariff, 
we won't say another word. Time will show. 

The Corn-Crop. — Not what it is, but what it may be. 

^ William Robert Prince, nurseryman and horticultural writer, 
born at Flushing, Long Island, November 6, 1795; died March 28, 
1869. Published Prince's Manual of Roses in 1846, an admirable 
enlargement, with additional directions and comments, of The Rose 
Amateur's Guide (1837) of Thomas Rivers, an English nursery- 
man. Collaborated with his father in writing A Treatise of the 
Vine (1830) and also The Pomological Manual (1831). Contrib- 
uted largely to agricultural periodicals. Dictioyvary of ATnerican 
Biography, 15:234-35. 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1846 47 

You say, "that all men will acknowledge it to be a very- 
profitable crop to the Western farmer." I am as well sat- 
isfied as you are, that it is more profitable to the Eastern 
one. I have conversed with a great number of corn grow- 
ers of the West, who agree that the crop does not there 
average over forty bushels to the acre. And the price 
will not average over a shilling a bushel (12 1/2 cents) 
upon the farm, and in many places so remote from mar- 
ket that the corn must first be converted into pork, which 
is driven alive to market. And the stalks are absolutely 
worse than worthless, for it costs considerable labor to 
remove, or, as is most usual, cut and burn them out of the 
way for the next crop. But the Western land is less valu- 
able, and the cultivation is far less than it is in this State 
and New England. But then the Eastern crop will aver- 
age at least four times more in value than a Western one, 
so that if the number of bushels can be made to average 
the same, notwithstanding the manuring, rent, and ex- 
pensive cultivation, the Eastern corn-crop is a more prof- 
itable one than the Western. You estimate the value of 
the crop of stalks, if cut green and well-cured, entirely 
too low. 

Take the United States through, and I fully believe 
that the corn-crop for any ten years of the past century, 
will average the most profitable of any cultivated and 
that the same will be the case for the next century, 'The 
fact is, it is a mighty fine crop, stranger, any how you can 
fix it." 

"Ladies' Department." — My most respectful compli- 
ments to my dear friend "E.M.C.," of Lynn. How I wish 
I knew whether she was disposable or not, that I might 
tell her whether I was ditto, and seek her aid to help me 
out of my "unfortunate situation." As for "the class of 
ladies forming my acquaintance," they extend from New 
Orleans to Macinaw, and from Maine to Missouri, among 
which are many of the prettiest and best on earth ; and I 
love the whole of them most truly, "E.M.C." included. 
And in all the cutting remarks I ever made in ridiculing 



48 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

the disposition of "farmers' daughters," to learn "piano- 
thumping," and little else, there never was one drop of 
gall. The truth is, I am notoriously good-natured; and I 
would not hold the anonymous and "thankless office of a 
critic," only in the hopes of being able thus to do more 
good than I could, unmasked. And my motto is "peace 
and good will," and though I intend to write with a free 
pen, I hope I never shall make a criticism in such a spirit 
as will drive one correspondent, particularly a female, 
from this paper. You will observe that I never criticise 
style — my own is too loose and negligent for that. I hope 
that every female correspondent will lay aside all fear of 
"Mr. Reviewer" (he won't bite nor scratch), and though 
I must continue to wear the "iron mask," take my word 
for it, that I have no iron features in my face to frighten 
them, and beg them to continue to let me see their beau- 
ties through the productions of their pens. 

Influence of the Moon on Vegetation in Columbia. — 
Now I can get a thousand men to certify that the moon 
has an equal influence on vegetation in the United States, 
that this article asserts it does in that part of South 
America; but you would not believe it; neither do I be- 
lieve that. Neither do I believe that salt will cure or pre- 
vent the potatoe disease. 

Gun-Cotton.— If "villanous saltpetre" is to be dis- 
pensed with for this new combustible, how our Southern 
friends will be blowed up. And probably at some future 
time after the burning of one-half of New York city, it 
will not be necessary to inquire whether "saltpetre will 
explode," since we know that cotton will. I hope the 
whole of this new discovery will not all "blow out." 

Agricidtural Statistics of New York. — I want some- 
body that loves figures and has the leisure, to construct 
you a table to publish, showing the number of bushels per 
acre of each kind of grain, and the number of bushels of 
each kind 'per caput if it could be divided equally among 
all the souls in New York State. [We will endeavor to do 
this some leisure day.] Reviewer. 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1847 49 

Warming Houses with "Hot Air" and Stoves, 

[Chicago Prairie Farmer, 7:85; Mar., 1847] 

[February ?, 1847] 

I conceive to be "one of the inventions of the devil for 
destroying human life." "What! stoves? the old cur- 
mudgeon ! not allow us any stoves ! we should freeze to 
death !" I hear a thousand tongues exclaim. All of which 
I don't believe a word of ; for when I was once a little boy 
there were none of these abominable inventions in that 
part of Yankeedom where I was warmed into existence 
by one of those good old-fashioned christian fireplaces, 
with the "old settle" in one corner and oven in the other. 
And who ever heard of folks freezing to death in those 
days. 

"But the stoves save so much fuel." Granted ; but it is 
at the expense of human life! Rooms are made almost 
air tight, and then the atmosphere, or what little remains 
shut up, is roasted with a red hot stove, then breathed, 
then roasted again, and so on, without the least chance 
of renewal, until the occupants of such rooms become so 
enfeebled that they are in danger of freezing to death 
whenever they encounter such a blast as our ancestors 
would have considered only a healthy breeze. As for 
cooking stoves, in a large well ventilated kitchen, I don't 
object to so much; although the steam and smoke from 
them, under the most favorable circumstances, is any 
thing but comfortable or healthy. 

In a room warmed by a fire place, there is a constant 
current of pure fresh air kept up, by the draft of the 
chimney. Besides, who can forget those healthy, happy 
hearths of auld lang syne, where we spent the long cheer- 
ful winter evenings of our youth, building "castles in the 
coals" of a great wood fire. 

But I have done. I am aware that I am in a heathen 
land, where stoves are worshipped, and to avoid "burn- 
ing my own fingers" I must bow my knees to the national 
idol. I remain your frozen friend, Solon Robinson.^ 

' The editor entered a firm defense of "air tights," but admitted 
that ventilation should receive more study in house construction. 



50 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

A Lecture upon the Early History of Lake Co., Ind 
by Solon Robinson 

[From transcript of Ms, in possession of Amos Allman, 
Crown Point'] 

[April ?, 1847] 

The early history of most communities, great or small, 
is wrapt in obscurity. Within a few years past, great 
efforts have been made to rescue the early history of some 
of the towns of Massachusetts, and other places from the 
darkness in which they were enveloped — Circumstances 
that in their day excited no curiosity, after the lapse of a 
couple of centurys are sought after and read with avidity. 
What has been, may be again. The trifling every day oc- 
curances in the first settlement of this county, an hundred 
years hence may be sought after with the same interest : 
but where shall their history be found recorded? Shall I 
attempt this task? I have done so, and I now lay them 
before you in the form of an address, not so much for 
your edification, as to ask you to correct my errors, and 
continue the record. I assure you that the time will come 
when such matter will be interesting. I shall proceed in 
that familiar style that I should do in writing a letter to a 
distant friend, or as if all my facts were as strange and 
new to you as they will be to those that fill our places an 
hundred years hence. 

I have lately read the travels of Stephens, in the south- 
ern part of North America, among the vast fields of ruins 
of temples and palaces, of a people that have left no writ- 
ten language to tell of the wonders which the traveler 
sees around him. Here, we have no monuments of stone, 
but yet we can leave a more enduring remembrance be- 
hind us, upon these few sheets of paper. 

Fancy then that this is the year 1947 instead of 1847, 
and let us call upon the days and years of "Auld Lang 
Syne", and display before us the early history of Lake 

^Printed in History of Lake County, 35-64 {Publication of the 
Lake County Historical Association, volume 10, Gary, 1929), from 
the Lake County Star, Crown Point, September 8, 15, and 22, 1916. 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1847 51 

County, Indiana. By the treaty of the U.S. with the Pot- 
towottomie Indians, in 1828, a strip of land ten miles 
wide on the north line of the state was acquired : which 
extended in a very narrow strip to the extreme south 
bend of Lake Michigan which is on Section 35 in Town 
37 of Range 8. This was the first purchase from the In- 
dians in what is now Lake County.^ Not yet nineteen 
years. 

By the treaty of 1832, the remainder of the land was 
acquired, together with all that that tribe owned in the 
state except some smal reservations. Previous to this 
time no whites but the hunters and trappers of the Ameri- 
can Fur Co., and the soldiers of the garrison at Old Fort 
Dearborn had ever trod the fertile soil of these broad 
prairies. This was the year of the celebrated Black-hawk 
war. At that time there was a garrison and a few Indian 
traders living at a place on Lake Michigan, about 12 miles 
from the N.W. corner of Lake Co., called Fort Dearborn, 
and this almost unknown and far remote frontier post 15 
years since is now the City of Chicago. There were also 
a few settlers in what is now La Porte Co. in 1832. Some 
time in the year 1833, I believe the first settlement of a 
white family was made within the territory of what is 
now Lake Co.,- near the mouth of the Old Calamic, by a 
man by the name of Bennett, for a tavern ; for the accom- 
odation of the necessary travel along the beach of the 
Lake, then the only road. Though I believe that the Old 
Sac trail began to be traveled the same year, from La 
Porte to the Hickory Creek settlement — but an incident 
that I shall soon relate will show you that it was but a 
blind path of the wilderness. 

The next family was by the name of Berry, also tavern 

' See Robinson, 1:11. 

' Obadiah Taylor, ancestor of the large group of Taylor families, 
with several of his sons and his son-in-law, Dr. Calvin Lilley, came 
to Lake County in 1832 from South Bend, Indiana, and Erie 
County, Pennsylvania, but they did not remain. They returned, 
however, in the spring of 1836, settling at Cedar Lake. Letter of 
Arthur G. Taylor to Herbert A. Kellar, July 12, 1929. 



U. OF ILL LIB. 



52 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

keepers on the beach of the Lake, in the spring of 1834. 
There was also another of these beach tavern built this 
year I believe, but whether within our present county 
limits, I cannot say. 

They were all temporary settlers, located for the pur- 
pose of administering to the necessities and not much to 
the comfort of emigrants that began to flock into Illinois 
by this only known route along the Lake Shore. I have 
myself slept with more than 50 others in and around one 
of these little log cabin taverns, and paid $3 — a bushel 
for oats to feed my horses, and as for my own food I had 
it along with me, or should have had none, as the tavern 
had not a mouthful of meat, butter, milk, sugar or any- 
thing eatable but flour & coffee. And this was a stage 
house. For in those days, a flourishing line of four horse 
post coaches were in operation upon this route. Some- 
thing of the kind had been in operation the season pre- 
vious along the Old Sac trail, from Detroit to Fort Dear- 
born. About four miles West of the State line I saw, soon 
after I came here, where the contractors had built a sta- 
ble for their horses, but whether the passengers lodged 
in the same, I cannot say. So much for early staging in 
this county. And at that time if one had predicted that 
within a dozen years there would be a daily line of steam- 
boats from Buffalo to Chicago, he would have been called 
as visionary as I have been by some, of my present audi- 
ence, who in those days used to laugh at my predictions 
of what a dozen years would bring to pass in Lake 
County, and yet time has proved that the half was not 
told them. 

In the summer of 1834, most of the land in the county 
was surveyed by the United States Surveyors, and set- 
tlers began to "make claims", and four or five families 
settled that fall. 

One of these I found in October, 1834, in a little shed 
roof cabin on Sec. 6, T. 35, R. 7, at a place afterwards 
known as "Millers Mill." His name is already among 
those that once were, but now are forgotten. 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1847 53 

I am inclined to think that an old man by the name of 
Ross also settled on the same section that fall. This man 
was killed by the falling of a tree near Deep river in 1836. 
I believe King Al-cohol was there to see, and it happened 
on a Sunday. An old man by the name of Winchet, from 
La Porte Co. made a claim, built a cabin, and commenced 
work on a mill, near the mouth of Turkey Creek, and had 
part of his family there some time in the summer of 1834, 
but afterwards abandoned his claim without settling upon 
it permanently. 

In October of that year, Thomas Childres and myself 
made claims and moved on to them ; his on the S.E. 1/4 of 
Sec. 17, T. 34, R. 8, near where C. Volney Holton now 
lives, and mine on the N.W. 1/4 of Sec. 8, same town., a 
spot that will continue to be known while the county seat 
remains in its present location. 

My first house is still standing, it is that little old black 
log cabin, upon the lot occupied by Mr. Pelton. I arrived 
upon this spot with my family the last day of October, 
1834 ; Childres a day or two before. 

On the next day, Henry Wells and Luman A. Fowler, 
came along on foot in search of locations. They left their 
horses back on 20 mile prairie. Cedar Lake was then the 
center of attraction for land lookers, and thither these 
like others, wended their way, without thinking to in- 
quire who kept tavern there. They found a lodging in a 
leafy tree top, and the leg of a roasted 'coon for sup- 
per. They also found David Horner (father of Amos & 
Henry), his son Thomas & a man by the name of Brown 
looking for claims, upon which they settled next year, 
lived there a few years and flitted again. Wells and 
Fowler came back to our camp next day so tired & hungry 
and sick of the country that they would have sold the 
whole, Easau like, for a mess of pottage. But after a 
supper sweetened with honey & hunger, and a nights rest 
upon the softest kind of a white oak puncheon the next 
morning being a bright sunny one, this land looked more 
inviting, and they bought the claim and two log cabin 



54 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

bodies built by one Huntley upon the South half of Sec. 8, 
T. 34, R. 8, for which they paid him $50 in cash. Of 
course cash must have been more plenty with them then 
than it is now. 

Wells went back to his family near Detroit, and Fowler 
spent the eventful winter of 1834-5 with us in the soli- 
tude of the first settlement of what soon became known as 
Robinson's Prairie. Fowler returned to Detroit in the 
spring, got married in the fall & returned with his wife 
& Wells' wife & child, and settled upon their claims. Wells 
arrived shortly after, and both families have since multi- 
plied after the fashion of all new settlers. 

During the first winter we had many claim makers, but 
few settlers. The majority of those making claims, were 
doing it for the purpose of speculating out of those who 
might come afterwards with the intention of becoming 
actual settlers. 

The first family that came after Childres and myself, 
was that of Robert Wilkinson, at the place where his 
brother Benajah now lives on Deep River, at that time, 
the only known crossing place. He settled about the last 
of November, 1834. The next family was that of Lyman 
Wells; afterwards well known as "Lying Wells". With 
him came "Irish Johnny" now known as John Driscoll. 
They came in January, 1835, and settled on Sec. 25, T. 33, 
R. 9, near where Driscoll now lives. Driscoll was then 
single, but has since obeyed the scriptural command to 
multiply and replenish the earth. 

Wells had a wife and 4 or 5 children — He lived a few 
years here and moved further West, and his wife died & 
some say the world would not have suffered much loss if 
he had died too. Wilkinson lived a few years where he 
settled when he moved off and his brother took his place. 

Next after Wells came, William Clark & family & Wil- 
liam Holton and mother, and sister, about the middle of 
February, and in a few days after came Warner Holton 
& wife & child. These families are still with us. Clark 
first settled on the N.E. 1/4 of Sec. 8, and Warner Holton 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1847 55 

right North on the next quarter, and William still lives 
in the same old cabin which he built on his first visit to 
the country in December, 1834. 

The arrival of these families gave us considerable 
pleasure, for they had been our old and intimate acquaint- 
ances and neighbors in the south part of the State. 

The first part of the winter had been mild and pleas- 
antly cold, but in February came on the most severe 
weather that I have ever seen since I have lived upon this 
prairie, and as we had reason to believe they were on the 
road, we naturally felt considerable anxiety for them, as 
they were to come by the way of the upper rapids of the 
Kankakee, at that time a much more desolate and unset- 
tled region than it is now. 

Some of the perils that they endured may be aptly 
attended to, as connected with the history of the settle- 
ment of this county. The marshes south of the Kankakee 
were covered with ice, upon which night overtook them 
endeavoring to force their ox teams across. There was 
no house, and they were unprepared for camping out, and 
one of the most severe cold nights about closing in upon 
them, surrounded by a wide field of ice, upon which the 
already frightened & tired oxen refused to go farther; 
and not a tree or stick of fire wood near them. 

I allude to this to show those that think they meet with 
great hardships noiv, that the pioneers met with more 
severe ones. These families upon this night might have 
perished, had they not providentialy discovered a set of 
logs that some one had hauld out upon a little knoll near 
by to build a cabin with, and with which they were en- 
abled to build a fire to warm a tent made out of the cover- 
ing of their wagons, and which enabled them to shelter 
themselves from the blast that swept over the wide prai- 
rie almost as unimpeded as over the mountain waves of 
the ocean. The next day, by diverging ten miles out of 
their course, they reached a little miserable hut of an old 
Frenchman, who lived with his half Indian family on the 
Kankakee. Here they staid two days and nights; such 



56 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

was the severity of the weather that they dared not leave 
their uncomfortable quarters ; and when they did so, they 
had to make a road for the oxen across the river by 
spreading hay upon the ice and freezing it down by pour- 
ing on water. 

They then had near 40 miles to drive to reach my 
house, but fortunately for them one family had settled 
about half way upon the road, or rather Indian trail, a 
few weeks previous where they spent one night and from 
there with one accident in crossing West creek, that came 
near causing them to lay out another night, they reached 
us some time after dark. To enable them as well as others 
to find our lone cabin, where there were no roads, I had 
put up several guide board upon the different trails, giv- 
ing the course and distance thus : 

"To Solon Robinson's, 5 miles North." One of these 
solitary guides upon a very faint path of the wilderness, 
had been found by our emigrants just before dark, and I 
appealed to them to say if they ever hailed a guide board 
with greater pleasure. 

While our friends are made comfortable around the 
cabin hearth, (some of you that are now complaining of 
want of room, think of that — 3 large families made com- 
fortable in that little log cabin) — let us inquire how fare 
the cattle, when there is not a lock of hay or straw within 
20 miles. So far I had wintered a horse, or rather an 
Indian poney, and yoke of oxen upon hazel-brush & a 
scanty supply of corn ; for that as well as every other sup- 
ply for man or beast, hasel brush excepted, had to be 
obtained from La Porte, by hauling it through marshes 
& bridgeless streams, and through almost a trackless wil- 
derness — Indeed Mr. Fowler and Lyman Wells, during 
this eventful winter, while engaged in this very business 
of obtaining provisions, exposed themselves to the most 
iminent peril and danger of loss of life. A graphic ac- 
count of one of the scenes in which Mr. Fowler was en- 
gaged, has been read by many thousands under the title 
of "The first trip to Mill". It is printed in the Albany 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1847 57 

Cultivator in June 1841 — Allow me to read it, as part & 
parcel of our history — ^ 

At a subsequent period, Mr. Wells in coming from Wil- 
kinson's crossing of Deep river after dark, missed his 
course for there was no path, and got on to Deep river 
somewhere about south of the Hodgman place & broke 
through the ice and with great difficulty succeeded in 
getting his horses loose, and in undertaking to get back 
to a house on 20 mile prairie, riding one horse and lead- 
ing the other, he came unexpectedly to a steep bank of the 
river in the dark, and pitched headlong down a dozen feet 
into the water and floating ice. He clung to one horse & 
succeeded in reaching the other shore, and getting near 
enough to the house to make himself heard by the loud 
cries he gave as the only means of saving his life. 

About noon next day he found his other horse on a 
little island near where they made the fearful plunge, but 
it was near night when he found his wagon. 

At a time previous to this, his family got out of pro- 
visions & made a supper of a big owl, and were on the 
point of roasting a wolf, when a supply arrived. 

During this winter, the Legislature named the teritory 
lying West of La Porte County, and North of Town, 33, 
Porter County; & South of that, Newton County. We 
were previously attached to St. Joseph for representative, 
and to La Porte for judicial purposes. 

At the session of 1835-6 the teritory North of the Kan- 
kakee was divided into Porter & Lake & the former was 
organised, and the latter attached to it — Lake County 
being 16 miles wide and about 32 long, and contains about 
500 square miles, and is the North Western-most county 
in the State of Indiana. Of its organization, I shall speak 
by & by — I will return now to the progress of the settle- 
ment. 

In the fall of 1834 after I settled here, old Mr. Myrick 
& his sons Elias & Henry & Thomas Reed made claims 
which they moved on to the next season. In the spring 

^ See Robinson, 1:160 fi. 



58 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

of '35 the "Bryant Settlement" was made, and a Mr. 
Agnew, who married a sister of Elias Bryant, perished 
with cold in the month of April, on the prairie East of 
pleasant Grove, having been night overtaken in coming 
from Morgan prairie with a load of stuff preparatory to 
moving his family on to his new claim. Not detered by 
this sad misfortune, his widow afterwards moved into 
her new home, the making of which had proved so dis- 
astrious to her husband. On the 4th of April of this year 
there was a most terrible snow storm; the weather pre- 
vious having been mild as summer. 

But in the spring of '35 families began to come in so 
fast that I can only particularise a few of them. Judge 
Wilkinson, is one of them — he settled where he lives now ; 
having moved from the Wabash, and from whence, like a 
great many of the early settlers, all his grain and pro- 
visions had to be hauled more than 100 miles, over such 
roads as none but those who toiled through them in those 
early times can have any idea of. Messrs. Stringham, 
Foley, Fansher, also moved from the Wabash region this 
spring. There were quite a number of other families 
who also settled this spring, but few of whom remain 
with us now. Mr. Pelton is one of the "old Settlers, for 
he came here in June of this year & found me building 
fence around the first corn field ever enclosed on "Robin- 
son's prairie" ; unless we except the little patches planted 
by the Indians; one of which partly enclosed by a very 
rude pole fence, I found on the spot now occupied by my 
house & garden. 

In the fall of '35 we had grown into so much impor- 
tance that the tax collector from La Porte come to pay 
us a visit which was about as welcome as such visits gen- 
eraly are. 

Considerable quantities of corn, oats, buckwheat & tur- 
nips & potatoes were raised this summer & plenty of hay 
put up for the use of those then here, but the new comers 
came so thick in the fall and winter, that there was a 
great scarcity before spring, and numbers of cattle 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1847 59 

starved to death. There had been during this summer so 
great a scarcity of horse feed in all this Northern region, 
that oats sold readily by the load, at 8 or 10 shillings a 
bushel ; at which price I sold out a stock that I had pro- 
vided for feed and seed, but which I had not been able to 
sow, because I was like all new settlers, who invariably 
lay out twice as much work as they can do. The first 
school in the county was kept by the widow Holton this 
winter at her house — she had 3 scholars. 

In the winter of '35 & 6 wheat on La Porte Prairie was 
worth $1.50 a bushel & not half enough raised to supply 
the great demand occasioned by the influx of emigrants, 
so that most of the Lake County settlers had to draw their 
provisions from the Wabash during the summer of 1836. 
Up to March of this year our nearest post office was 
Michigan City, but having applied for it through our two 
Senators at Washington, with both of whom I happened 
to be well acquainted, I was appointed post master & the 
office was named "Lake Court House." During the first 
year I had to supply the office with the mail at my own 
expense from Michigan City for the proceeds of the office. 
I need not tell you that it was not a money making con- 
tract. The receipts up to Oct. 1 were $15 — the next quar- 
ter $8.87, but the 3^^ quarter shows a rapid gain for it 
amounts to $21.49. After this, the seat of justice for 
Lake County having been temporarily established here, a 
contract was ordered to supply this office weekly from La 
Porte & was taken by John H. Bradley at I think $450 a 
year. The re'c'ts of the quarter ending June 30th, 1837 
were $26.92. The next which ended Sep. 30th— $43.50. 
The next $38.20. The first qr. of 1838 was $51.33. The 
next $51.39 and that appears to be the largest sum ever 
received in one quarter while I held the office. 

But let us return and take up the events as they tran- 
spire : 

In the spring of 1836 we were attached to Porter 
County, the commissioners of which divided this county 
into three townships & ordered an election for a Justice 



60 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

of the Peace in each. This was the first election in Lake 
County. Amsi L. Ball, Robert Wilkinson & Solon Robin- 
son were elected & held their offices until the county was 
organised next year & neither got fat upon their fees. I 
reccollect having one suit before me & think that Squire 
Ball had two perhaps three, but I don't think that Wilkin- 
son ever had any. So much for law in those days. 

The first preaching of the gospel in the county, if I rec- 
collect aright, was by a Methodist minister by the name 
of Jones; and one of his first, if not the very first, ser- 
mons was at the house of Thomas Reed ; and from the 
size of the house, his congregation could not have been 
large. He was sent here by the presiding elder of the 
Northern Indiana Conference, who resided at South 
Bend. The next year the county was included in the 
Porter County Mission under the charge of Mr. Beers. 

The settlement progressed rapidly this year & some 
good crops were raised. Of the great events of the year 
I will mention two. The formation of the "Settlers 
Union" for the mutual protection of each other's claims, 
for all were then squatters upon public land. 

The other was the great sale of lots in the town of Liv- 
erpool, to the amount of some $18,000, which is eighteen 
thousand times as much as the whole town is worth now. 
At this sale the first electioneering speech in this county 
was made by Gustavus A. Everts, then a candidate for 
Senator for this county & Porter, La Porte & St. Joseph 
& I think Elkhart. 

In the fall of this year we added a physician to our 
population in the person of Doctor Palmer. Previous to 
this there was none nearer than Michigan City.^ For in 
the spring of this year I had employed one from there. 

The first store in the county was also established this 
year. And during the winter of 1836 & 7 we, that is my 
brother Milo & myself, sold about $3000 worth of goods 
out of that little old log cabin adjoining the one now used 
as a court house. 

' Dr. Calvin Lilley, belonging to the Taylor settlement, was the 
first physician, settling at Cedar Lake in the spring of 1836. 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1847 61 

The best of our customers were the Pottawattimies 
who then dwelt here in considerable numbers. With them 
commenced my first efforts of a temperance reformation. 
Of them we obtained great quantities of furs & cranber- 
ries, in pay for goods, while those calling themselves far 
superior to the poor Indians in all the moral attributes, 
gave us promises to pay, some of which are promises to 
this day. — The first marriage in the county was that of 
David Bryant, another of my official acts as a Justice of 
the Peace — Done on a most excessive cold day. The 2d 
was Solomon Russel, and his was afterwards the first 
divorce. 

During the same winter, the first mill in the county 
was put in operation by Wilson L. Harrison, so that we 
were able to get a little oak lumber in the spring of '37 
for $15 a thousand. 

In March, 1837, the election of officers upon the organi- 
zation of the county took place. At this time so slow was 
the operation of the mails, that a special messenger was 
dispatched to Indianapolis to get the appointment of a 
Sheriff & authority to hold the election, the first appoint- 
ment having failed. The messenger was John Russell, 
who made the trip on foot & beat the mail at that. Henry 
Wells was appointed Sheriff. The election for the North 
township was held at Amsi L. Ball's — for this Center 
Township at the old log cabin which was Mr. Fowler's 
first house, now standing near Mr. Eddy's — and for the 
South at the house of Sam'l D. Bryant. 

Wm. Clark and Wm. B. Crooks were elected associate 
judges — Amsi L. Ball, Stephen P. Stringham and Thom- 
as Wiles, County Commissioners. Wm. A. W. Holton, 
recorder & Solon Robinson, Clerk. Several of the first 
meetings of the Board were held in that old log cabin in 
Mr. Pelton's yard. 

John Russell was the first assessor; and such was the 
fever of speculation at that time, that some of the lands 
around Liverpool (and another paper town called Indi- 
ana City, laid out at the mouth of the old Calamic) which 



62 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

lands were held by locations of Indian reservations & 
floating pre-emption rights, were assessed some of them 
as high Twenty Dollars an acre. The same lands will not 
now sell for as many cents an acre 

At the first election for justice under the organisation, 
one Peyton Russel was elected in North Township; Milo 
Robinson & Horace Taylor in Centre & E. W. Bryant in 
South Township. The first lived at Liverpool & like the 
town has gone to parts unknown — the second died Janu- 
ary 1st, 1839, the 3d has moved from the county,^ and the 
latter is alive & shaking ; or at least was so a short time 
since with the ague. 

At the August election, Luman A. Fowler was elected 
Sheriff and Robert Wilkinson, Probate Judge. 

During this summer there were a good many new set- 
tlers come in — and several frame buildings were put up ; 
one of the first of which is the frame part of the house 
where Mr. Pelton now lives; which was built by my 
brother & myself who were then in partnership, to ac- 
comodate the public and was for several years the only 
tavern house here. 

We also built the log building which has ever since been 
occupied as a court house & place of worship &c. 

It will be as well here to recur to some facts connected 
with this assessment, as profitable for reflection. The 
number of acres on the first assessment roll was 8726, 
valued in total at $77,787 ; a fraction less, on an average, 
than $9 an acre; the tax upon which amounted to $894. 
There was but little if any improvements on these lands 
at that time. There were 409 town lots in Liverpool, 
assessed at $26,440 too much by just three of the left 
hand figures — some say four — There were 226 polls, and 
23 over age, making 249 persons assessed for taxation. 
The poll tax amounted to $282.50. The value of personal 
property $45,368. But the same spirit of high values 

* Horace Taylor was in Wisconsin for several years, but later 
returned to Lake County, went to California in 1849, and was 
killed in an Indian massacre on the return trip. Letter of Arthur G. 
Taylor to Herbert A. Kellar, July 12, 1929. 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1847 63 

governed in this as in case of the valuation of lands — 
For instance, Cows were $15 or $20 a piece. The per- 
sonal property tax amounted to $521. — The total $2002. 
It is needless to say that much of this was never col- 
lected. The owners of land would not pay & quite a 
number of the floating population, floated out of reach of 
the collector, before pay day. — Luman A. Fowler was the 
first collector. The floating and unsettled nature of the 
settlers of a new country is aptly illustrated by the first 
settlers of this county — for of the 249 persons who were 
assessed here only ten years ago, eighty only remain and 
twenty-seven have died here — so that 142 have rolled on 
in that irresistable wave of Western emigration, that 
never will cease till it meets the resisting wave of the 
Western ocean which will cause the mighty tide to react 
upon itself until all the mountain sides and fertile plains 
of Mexico & Oregon are teeming with the Anglo Saxon 
race. 

The usual mode of estimating the number of inhabi- 
tants, is to multiply those assessed, which are mostly 
heads of families, by five — This would make the popula- 
tion in the spring of 1837 about 1245. In 1840 the U. S. 
census was taken by Lewis Warriner — it was then 1468 — 
Now let us examine the assessment of 1846 — There were 
600 persons assessed, and I am aware of several who were 
not included — This would give us a population of up- 
wards of 3000 in the spring of 1846 — Of the men assessed 
last spring, seventeen have since died — this at the rate of 
about 2 1/2 per cent per annum and would give 75 or 80 
as the total number of deaths in the county the last year. 
I have no means of ascertaining the truth. I will give the 
names of those whom I know have died — They are : Isa- 
iah L. Beebe, David Currin, Doct. Joseph F. Greene, 
Thomas Henderson, Myiel Pierce, John R. Simmons, 
Thomas Gibson, Jeremiah Green, John Hack, Jr., Corne- 
lius F. Cooke, Judge Samuel Turner, Mr. Hollingshead, 
Mr. S. C. Beebe, David E. Bryant & Mr. Miller, Royal 
Barton, John Smith, Mr. Lathrop, Ambrose Williams, a 



64 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

young man, and Mr. Livinggood, whose names are not on 
the list have died, and an old man by the name of Simons 
perished near the mouth of Deep River — He was said to 
be a very steady temperate man, but being much exposed 
to cold and wet on a raft, yielded to the temptation of 
drinking whiskey, which deranged his intellect & de- 
stroyed a very useful life. 

At the election in March, 1837, there were 78 votes 
polled. At the last August election 327 — but owing to 
sickness, this was far below the whole number, for at the 
Presidential election in 1844 there were then 325 votes. 

The assessment of 1846 has 54,421 acres of land, which 
of course is only what has been entered 5 years — this is 
valued at $78,742, an average of a fraction less than 
$1.45 an acre, the improvements on the same are valued 
at $43,445, total land value $122,287, a fraction less than 
$2.23 an acre including improvements — Amt. of personal 
property assessed at extremely low prices, $95,849 — mak- 
ing a total of $223,713 upon which a tax of $2754 was 
levied, including polls & for State, County & road pur- 
poses. Now let us resume our chain of events. 

You that think building so expensive now, may do well 
to learn some of the prices then. 

Oak lumber I have told you was $15 a thousand — The 
pine lumber in these buildings & the original part of the 
house where I now live, which was built the same sea- 
son, cost us $35 a thousand. Nails 15 cts. a pound — 
Glass $4 1/2 a box — Shingles $3 a thousand. Provisions 
at the same time were $10 a barrel for flour; $25 a barrel 
for pork and 12 1/2 to 20c a pound for bacon — 27c a pound 
for butter — 7 & 8 cents a pound for fresh pork, fatted 
upon white oak acorns, and about as dry & hard as what 
it was fed upon — $25 to $40 a piece for cows. These were 
prices we actually paid that year. 

During this season we had preaching several times at 
our house & in the present court room after that was fin- 
ished ; and by the manner that every body far and near 
turned out to attend meeting, and by their apparent en- 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1847 65 

joyment of such privileges, a stranger who had seen the 
community then, and again now, would unhessitatingly 
say that there were more professing christians at that 
time, than at this, in proportion to the population. Indeed 
there were settled around here in that year (1837) a 
goodly number of very zealous & exemplary christian 
professors; but as they belonged to different denomina- 
tions, there were not enough of either to attempt the for- 
mation of a church at this place, though I think that the 
Methodist organized several classes this year ; one at least 
at pleasant grove, and also had occasional preaching 
there, being included in the Porter County mission. I 
mention these things that you may see the commencement 
and progress of religious matters in this community. The 
Baptist people at Cedar Lake also held frequent meetings 
this year, and I think had preaching at Judge Ball's who 
settled there this year — 

John Hack, the patriarch and leader of the large Ger- 
man Settlement we now have in the County, came in and 
settled where he now lives in the fall of this year. 

The two bridges on the prairie North of Crown Point 
were built during this summer by Daniel May & Hiram 
Nordyke at an expense of $500. Also one across West 
creek by Nehermiah Hayden, near Judge Wilkinson's for 
$400; one across Cedar Creek near Lewis Warriner's by 
Stephen P. Stringham & Robert Wilkinson, for $200— 
one across Deep River at Benajah Wilkinson's by A. S. 
Ball for $400, besides several smaller ones, by means of 
the 3 pr. ct. fund. 

Walton's saw mill on Turkey Creek, Wood's & also Dus- 
tin's on Deep River & Taylor's on Cedar Creek, were all 
building during this year. But with the exception of 
Wood's they might as well never have been built for the 
good they have done. The same may be said of the one 
called "Miller's saw Mill" on Deep river. Dustins, Millers 
& Waltons have been in utter ruins for years on account 
of the dificulty of making a dam of dirt stand, and Tay- 
lors is about half the time without water, and the other 
half without a dam. 



66 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

The summer of 1837 was a most excessive wet one, as 
in fact was that of '36. 

In October '37 the first term of the Circuit Court was 
held by Judges Sample & Clark — Judge Crooks having 
previous stept out — And a very quiet and peaceable ses- 
sion it was, for at that time we had none of those dens 
of moral pestilence which have since polluted the place 
with drunken brawls. 

It is worthy of our observation to look back and see 
what a change has taken place in the short space of ten 
years. Of nine members of the bar who attended the first 
term of this court, only one attended the last. 

Of 28 grand & pettit jurors, only 14 remain in the 
county. These are John Wood, J. P. Smith, Elias Bryant, 
Henry Wells, Wm. W. Payne, Levi D. Jones & Geo. Earle, 
who were on the first Grand Jury. And Orrin Smith, 
Daniel May, Richd. Fansher, Robt. Wilkinson, Jona" 
Brown, J. V. Johns & Stephen P. Stringham, who were 
on the first pettit jury — One of the other 14, old Mr. 
Thomas Sawyer, died here, and the other 13 have moved 
from the county. I have already shown that the change 
in the whole population has even exceeded this ratio. 

At the first term there were 30 cases on the docket, 
which was certainly a pretty strong beginning in law for 
a new county — Of the 70 plaintiffs and defendants then 
here, only 15 are here now. And only three of the absent 
ones died here. These were Milo Robinson, Calvin Lilly 
& Daniel Cross. The first marriage license issued in the 
county was for John Russell & Harriet Holton — unfortu- 
nately it did not stick. A little singular that 2 out of 3 
of the first marriages in the county should be divorced. 

In the winter of 1837 & 8 congress established several 
mail routes through Lake County, which until then had 
none except the old route from Detroit to Fort Dearborn. 
One of these routes was from here to Monticello in White 
County & was taken by Mr. Pelton, but was afterwards 
found to be through such an interminable wilderness that 
it was discontinued. One from La Porte to Joliet, also 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1847 67 

taken by Mr. Pelton is still in operation. The route from 
Michigan City to Peoria was let to be carried in four 
horse post coaches, but never put in operation. The mail 
now carried by Mr. Wells from City West to West Creek 
is a remnant of this route. It is worthy of remark that 
when I was appointed Post-Master here, there was not 
another office in all the county west of La Porte to Joliet 
& Chicago. 

The summer of 1838 was one of severe drouth & great 
sickness & probably more deaths in proportion to the 
population than in any other year up to this time, since 
the commencement of the settlement. So great was the 
drouth in the fall that the muskrats were driven out of 
their usual haunts & frequently burnt out by the fall 
fires running over the marshes, and were found wan- 
dering about in search of water. One of them came into 
my house but never so much as asked for a drink of whis- 
key, but made his way through & went directly where 
"the old oaken bucket, the moss covered bucket" con- 
tained a more natural beverage for a thirsty muskrat, 
and I was obliged to cover the well to keep them out. I 
saw many places where the autumn fires burnt off all the 
sod, and hundreds of the houses of these animals were of 
course burnt up. Much damage was done to fences and 
crops — The old adage that "Winter never sets in till the 
swamps are filled in" failed this year, for 

During the continuance of the drouth, winter com- 
menced. I remember that snow fell some inches deep 
during the October court, and the ground frose up direct- 
ly after & in it lots of small potatoes. 

A large addition was made this year to the German 
Settlement. The Baptist church at Cedar Lake was or- 
ganised, and preaching pretty frequent by Elder French 
and Elder Witherel & Deacon Warriner. 

In November of this year. Judge Clarke & myself 
proved out our pre-emption rights & got a title to the 
land where Crown Point is located. A number of others 
also in dif erent parts of the County did likewise. Before 



68 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

this all were squatters — The settlers having now began 
to raise bread stuff, found it no fool of a job to go 40 
miles to mill. But they had to do it. 

There were a good many improvements made this year, 
for these were the days of "Wildcat" Money. The tavern 
house at Liverpool was completed, and a line of daily 
stages run upon that road ; though upon reflection, I be- 
lieve they were in operation the year before. Mr. Eddy 
completed his house and moved his family into the county 
some time in the summer of this year. 

The selection of lands in this county for the Wabash 
Canal was made in June of this year. Col. John Vawter, 
was one of the commissioners & preached in the court 
room while here, to a very respectable congregation. 

The Methodist Episcopal Church may be considered as 
regularly organized in this county from this time, form- 
ing with Porter County a circuit, and supplied with 
preaching at stated times. 

The drouth of this year was the cause of setting a great 
number of persons to digging wells. Heretofore they had 
depended upon water in ponds and marshes, the drying 
up of which put them to great inconvenience, particularly 
for stock water after winter set in. One circumstance 
worth noticing in connection with this subject, may be 
mentioned in regard to Cedar Lake. This beautiful sheet 
of water was so affected that all around the edge of the 
water it was covered with a thick scum so offensive that 
no one could use the water without being disgusted. 

The health of the settlers the two last seasons goes to 
prove that a dry season will always be found far more 
sickly than a wet one. 

On the first of January, 1839, my brother Milo died of 
consumption. This was the first death that occurred in 
the vicinity of Crown Point. It ever has been considered 
a remarkably healthy place. In fact the strongest induce- 
ment with me to settle here, was, that I heard that it was 
a favorite summer residence of the Indians, and a spot to 
which they always resorted for recovery of health which 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1847 69 

they had lost in more unhealthy locations. When first 
seen, too, in a complete state of nature, it seemed one of 
the most lovely spots I ever saw in its natural condition. 
It is a pleasant spot still. 

The most remarkable feature in the history of the sum- 
mer of 1839 is the location of the county seat at Liver- 
pool, by commissioners appointed by the Legislature the 
winter previous. And the sale of public lands of the U.S. 
in March of this year. 

Liverpool, Cedar Lake & this place were the contending 
parties for the location of the county seat. 

How it ever was fixed at Liverpool, some of the com- 
missioners know & no one else. The location created a 
very strong opposition in all the south and central parts 
of the county. 

The county officers & county were urged not to move 
there, until the Legislature would be petitioned for a re- 
location. 

On examination of the law fixing the seat of justice 
temporarily at this place it was found that they could not 
be compelled to move to the new county seat until suitable 
public buildings were erected. 

Although the proprietors of the town went to work im- 
mediately to provide a court house it never was com- 
pleted, although nearly so. 

It stood for several years a monument of a very bad 
speculation & finally fell into the hands of Mr. Earle & by 
him was sold and to be pulled down & floated down the 
river to Blue Island where it was re-erected in 1846 for a 
tavern. And with it has gone almost the last hope of a 
town at that place. 

After the death of my brother, Sheriff Fowler kept the 
home as a tavern until the fall when he moved to Lock- 
port, 111. & remained till the work upon the canal was 
suspended. Although he did not keep such a sink of 
drunken abominations as has since been kept in the place, 
he had not then learnt the blessings of temperance that 
he has since enjoyed the benefit of. 



70 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

J. V. Johns was elected Sheriff this August election — 
H. N. Brooks was his apponant. The election was con- 
tested and created some excitement at the time. It cost 
Brooks 40 or 50$ without gaining the office — a poor spec- 
ulation for him. One witness testified that he would not 
vote for either, because one was a drunkard & tother a 
blackguard — too true. 

After Mr. Fowler abdicated the office of Crown Point 
tavern keeper, Mr. Pelton took a wife & took the house 
which he afterwards purchased & has occupied ever since. 

Dr. Lilley, who flourished at Cedar Lake as a merchant 
& tavern keeper, builder of mills & founder of a town 
&c &c &c & & & died this summer of the disease that 
sweeps off so many of the lovers of strong drink, and the 
place that in those days was so well known is almost as 
dead as its former proprietor & as little known to the 
present population. The change that a few years work 
in a new country is indeed wonderful. The population is 
continually changing — out of perhaps 20 families of the 
original settlers around this Lake, only two or 3 remain.^ 

In the winter of 1839-40 an act was passed for a relo- 
cation of the County Seat. The commissioners met in 
June — The contest was strong between the centre and 
Cedar Lake and the offers of donations very large. The 
proprietors of Liverpool gave up when they found that a 
large majority of the county was so strong against them. 

But Mr. McCarty having become a proprietor in place 
of Dr. Lilley had laid out a town on the East shore of the 
Lake, which he called West Point, made desperate efforts 
to obtain the location there. It is a happy thing that he 
did not succeed ; for as I before stated, the water of the 
Lake could not be depended upon for use, and several 
wells that have since been dug, have proved to be so im- 
pregnated with some mineral that the water is an active 
cathartic. 

^ After losing the county seat contest, the descendants of Obadiah 
Taylor moved to Lake Prairie, about a mile and a quarter south of 
Cedar Lake. They took the post office and the Cedar Lake Baptist 
Church and Sunday School with them. The community is now 
known as Creston. 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1847 71 

So the town would have been without a supply of that 
very first necessary & indespensible article — good water 
— which would have been a sure place for using a little of 
the "critter" to molify the water — and a re-location of 
the county seat would have had to be made, probably at a 
great loss to the county. Or else the inhabitants might 
have drank more whiskey than is even drunk in Crown 
Point. 

The county seat then was permanently located where 
it now is in June, 1840 by Jessee Tomlinson & Edward 
Moore of Warren Co. — Henry Barclay of Pulaski Co. 
Joshua Lindsey of White Co. and Daniel Dale of Carrol 
County. 

Shortly after the location the town was laid off into 
seventy-five lots, the most of them containing half an 
acre. There are four principal streets running North & 
South, one of which is 100 ft. wide & the other 60 ft. with 
cross streets of 30 ft. There is a very large common or 
public square in the centre that never can be built upon & 
an acre of ground devoted exclusively for the Court 
House & public offices. Another acre is devoted to the 
purpose of a school, where the school house now stands. 
The town was laid out upon 60 acres — 20 of Judge 
Clark's & 40 of mine. The Judge gave the streets & 1/2 
of the common & one half the lots & 35 acres adjoining 
on the East, and I gave the same number of lots & com- 
mon & the court house lot & 20 acres adjoining on the 
West, five acres of which are laid out in lots including the 
school lot, which is a part of the 60 acres comprised with- 
in the town. There were many other donations for labor, 
money &c. & 25 acres of land — 10 by Mr. Eddy & 15 by 
J. W. Holton. In point of fact, although Dr. Farrington, 
Mr. Farwell, Mr. Allman, Mr. Lamb & Mr. Holden, Mr. 
Sheehan, Mr. Wm. Holton & Mr. Eddy, Mr. Townly live 
at Crown Point they don't live within the town limits. 

Nov. 19th, 1840, the first lots were sold at auction by 
Mr. Geo. Earle, County Agent, Judge Clark & myself, at 
prices varying from $11 to $127.50 on 2, 3 & 4 years 



72 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

credit — one year without interest. And from this time 
the town of Crown Point dates its existance. I have be- 
fore stated that the census of the County taken this year 
showed our population to be 1468 — The great wheat 
blight occurred this summer of 1840 — The whole crop 
was entirely lost. 

The first house built in town after it had a name, was 
that where Capt. Smith now lives. I built it for Elder 
Norman Warriner in the spring of 1841, and he was the 
first minister of the gospel settled here, and I believe in 
the county. He was ordained at Cedar Lake, pastor of 
the Baptist church. And I look upon it as a great loss to 
the county, I might say disgrace; that for want of sup- 
port he had to leave it. Rev. Mr. Brown, pastor of the 
Presbyterian Church at Valparaiso or Mr. Warriner 
preached here this summer, nearly every Sabbath. 

Major C. Farwell built the same year — he was the first 
blacksmith here, and one of the first in the county — his 
father having settled on West Creek in 1836. Old Mrs. 
Farwell was undoubtedly the first white woman ever 
upon the ground where this town is located, for in 1833 
her husband & family were endeavoring to follow the old 
Sac trail from La Porte to Hickory Creek, 111. where a 
settlement was forming, and got astray, and spent the 
4th of July, 1833 upon this ground, while a messinger 
went back for a pilot to extricate them from their lost 
situation. Think of that only 14 years ago. 

In June 1841, three individuals made the first effort to 
form a temperance society here — Your records will show 
that it was carried into efl:'ect, & the celebration of fourth 
of July with cold water and a picnic dinner, was the hap- 
piest one to some 300 men, women and children that I 
ever saw. 

The first kiln of brick about here was burnt this season 
by Mr. Mason & Dr. Farrington. Heretofore chimneys 
were all built of sticks and clay, and wells had to be 
walled with wood. A kiln had been burnt the year before 
at Cedar Lake, and a small one previous to that by Ben 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1847 73 

Stoleup but they were unfit for wells. Brick chimneys & 
frame buildings now began to show an improving condi- 
tion of things. Thus it is, little by little, & slowly, that 
the improvement of a new country creeps along. In rid- 
ing over the county this year we begin to discover here 
and there a new barn and brick chimneys peering above 
the roofs of frame houses. 

In the spring of 1842, Mr. Wells built his large tavern 
house in Crown Point & opened a store in one end of it, 
and a very bad whiskey shop in the other. I cannot say 
that this improvement has ever improved the morals of 
the place. Certain it is, it has been the ruin of the owner. 

This year we had the benefit of the first grist mill in 
the county, built by Mr. Wood at his saw mill on Deep 
River & put in operation the past fall by Charles Wilson, 
who has since built a windmill on horse prairie — I speak 
it prophetically that the time will soon come when there 
will be one of the recently patented centrifugal wind mills 
in every neighborhood in this county. 

This year a frame school house was built in Crown 
Point, which was the first respectable one in the county, 
and I fear that the same remark is still too true; for a 
decent provision for schools has hardly been yet made in 
any district in the county. 

And I don't mean to be understood that the Crown 
Point school house is at all worthy the name of a decent 
one for the place ; for it is not. Although it is better than 
the little old black log cabin which was in use previous to 
the building of this one, this is entirely too small for a 
community of such good christians as this is, for verily 
they keep that part of the law of scripture which com- 
mands them to "multiply" and the earth is "replenished," 
with a most rapid increase of children, whose best inherit- 
ance would be a good education. But they cannot obtain 
it here, unless parents will give them an opportunity to 
acquire it in a school house where there is more oppor- 
tunity to expand, than in a room 15 by 20 with 50 chil- 
dren packed around a red hot stove. I hope that in the 



74 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

next edition of this history, I shall be able to say that in 
the year 1847, the people determined to have a school 
house in Crown Point, which would be a credit to them, 
and in the eyes of a stranger, add much to the respecta- 
bility of the place. 

The winter of 1842-3 it was said, would long be remem- 
bered — How long has it been ? How many of you now can 
remember anything remarkable of this winter that you 
should remember it? But few I venture to say, for such 
is the treachery of man's memory. Yet this was the hard 
winter. The winter in which people had to dig out of the 
snow the neglected straw, and strip off the hay covering 
of old sheds & stables to feed the cattle to help them 
eke out an existence, until grass should grow. A period 
that many of them failed to see, for every resource of 
feed utterly failed their owners, and the poor brutes ac- 
tually starved to death, and that too in a country where 
any quantity of grass can be had for the mowing, and 
where thousands of tons of wheat straw are annually 
burned "to get it out of the way". The distress of that 
winter was not confined to this county — it was universal 
through all this region of the North West. The winter 
commenced the middle of Nov. and one of our citizens 
was frozen on the Grand prairie Nov. 17, 1842. This was 
William Wells, a very steady, sober and stout healthy 
man. Snow continued very late, for here we had good 
sleighing into April. And usually we have but very little 
in March, or as for that matter — but little during the 
winter. 

In March 1843, the burying ground at Crown Point 
was first opened. The scarlet fever in a very malignant 
form paid us a sad visit. A child of Major C. Farwell 
was the first tenant of that ground. It is an evidence of 
the healthyness of our location, that from the fall of 1834 
to the spring of 1843 we had no occasion for a public 
burying ground. But in 6 weeks of this fatal spring we 
made eight graves there. And while our feelings were 
yet tender, we promised that the ground should be fenced 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1847 75 

& improved — perhaps our children, when they lay us 
there will make the same promise & keep it as well. 

This summer we made an exchange of resident preach- 
ers at Crown Point, Mr. Warriner moved to Illinois & 
Mr. Allman moved here from Michigan. He is of the 
Episcopal Methodist & is a native of England. And what 
is much to his credit, he did not come here to tax com- 
munity with his support as a preacher, for he was soon 
found to be a very good tailor who could fit us, the wolves 
with sheeps clothing. The Presbyterian Church of Crown 
Point was organised this year — Elias Bryant & Cyrus M. 
Mason elected elders — Rev. Mr. Brown of Valparaiso 
still officiating 1/3 the time as pastor. Two churches 
were built in the county this year — the Methodist Church 
of West Creek & the German Roman Catholic — but I 
think neither of them are yet finished, the latter has a 
bell. The Sale of canal lands lying in this county was 
held at Delphi in Nov. of this year. 

Considerable number of sheep from Ohio were intro- 
duced into the county this year, a business that has been 
increasing ever since. The bounty upon the killing of 
prairie wolves, having tended to thin off this pest of 
sheep growing so that people begin to venture pretty 
largely into the business. 

The average distance for the raisers of grain in this 
county to haul it to market, being not less than 40 miles, 
it is found that nothing but wheat will bear the expense 
of hauling, and that at the best poorly pays the farmer 
for his labor; for the average price in Chicago for a 
series of years, does not exceed 60 cents a bushel. The 
crop was nearly destroyed the past winter of '42-3 & 
again in the summer of 1844 many fields were so injured 
with rust as not to be worth cutting. 

In addition to the loss from rust, it was so wet in the 
harvest of 1844, that teams could hardly get about in the 
harvest field, on account of the softness of the ground, 
occasioned by the great rains. 

But the summer was quite healthy, and the winter of 



76 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

1844-5, one of the most unusual mildness. It was also 
one in which death visited many families severely. The 
complaint was termed the lung or winter fever. I have 
arrived now at that point where I must mention that fact 
in my history — the erection of the first Church building 
in Crown Point — 

In the summer of 1845 that beautiful structure which 
is such an ornament to our town, the Methodist Church 
of Crown Point was erected — but not completely finished 
off as it is now until the following season. And to keep 
pace with it (a snail's pace is easily kept) the foundation 
of that comodiously finished structure, the Presbyterian 
Church was laid. 

But romance apart: Are these church buildings now 
in the condition that they should have arrived at, even at 
a snail's pace, in two years. 

Is it creditable to the character of this community as 
a civilized people, to say nothing of their duty as a reli- 
gious one, that they continue to meet for worship in this 
dirty old log house, that is not only too small, too dirty, 
inconvenient & unhealthy, but a dishonor to the God here- 
in worshipped. 

I hope a future historian will be able to write, that in 
1847, two neatly finished churches in Crown Point were 
completed, and from that time ever forward, we were 
called to the hour and house of prayer by the sound of a 
sweet toned village bell. 

The accommodation of the people of the county was 
greatly increased this year, in getting grain made into 
bread stuff, by the mill of Wilson & Sanders on Deep 
River below Woods, (and as he thinks not quite far 
enough below) and by a large mill erected at the upper 
rapids of the Kankakee, about ten miles west of our west 
line. 

The crop of wheat this year was a very good one, as 
was also the crop of corn. Large quantities of butter 
were made for sale in Lake County this year, and con- 
siderable quantities of cheese — 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1847 77 

The winter of '45 & 6 though not as mild as the last, 
was not at all severe. It may be worth while to record 
the price of land at this place for comparison with the 
past & future. I sold ten acres of land adjoining Crown 
Point on the West in a state of nature for $20 an acre — 
Cash— Dec. 1845. 

In the spring of 1846, Rev. Wm. Townley settled in 
Crown Point as pastor over the Presbyterian Church; 
the building for the use of this church was raised & en- 
closed this season & pointed the first spire to Heaven 
from the county seat of Lake County. Mr. George Earle 
started his saw mill this spring on Deep River — 

The summer of '46 was very dry & very long continued 
hot weather, and consequently there was more sickness 
than ever before in any one season. Many fields of grain 
wasted uncut or unstacked, because the owner could not 
himself save it, or procure any of his neighbors when all 
were equally sick, to save it for him. 

Much of the wheat this year was badly shrunk and that 
universal calamity, the potato rot, destroyed half of that 
crop. Corn was good, as usualy it is. 

Owing to the universal sickness, it was supposed that 
there would be a great scarcity of hay for the winter of 
'46-7, but the season for cutting wild hay continued very 
late in the fall & the winter proved so mild that not much 
scarcity has been felt. Although the spring is extremely 
backward & grass affords but poor feed at this time. 

I have now brought a slight sketch of the history of 
Lake County down to the present time ; and have only a 
few general remarks to make & then I have done my task 
— I cannot give the exact number of inhabitants in this 
county, but think as before stated it cannot be less than 
3000. 

I have stated some of the disadvantages the early set- 
tlers labored under in regard to mails & post offices. Now 
there are 7 post oflfices in the county — A mail twice a 
week from La Porte to Joliet suplies the county seat — 
There is a mail through the south part of the county, 



78 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

from Valparaiso once a week to West Creek & another 
from West Creek to City West — There are five sawmills 
in operation in the County, to-wit: Earle's Dustin's & 
Wood's on Deep River; McCarty's on Cedar Creek & 
Foley's on a branch of Cedar Creek. There are three 
dilapidated ones towit: Miller's & Dustin's old mills on 
Deep river and Walton's on Turkey Creek — the last about 
being repaired. 

There has also been two other beginnings of mills — one 
on Plum Creek & one on Cedar Creek. 

There are two grist mills, Wood's & Wilson & Saunders 
three run of stone — Mr. Earle is also engaged at the 
present time in building another which will have from 2 
to 4 run. 

There are about fifty frame houses at this time in the 
county — five churches ie. one Roman Catholic on prairie 
West, one Methodist Episcopal at lower bridge of West 
Creek, one ditto at hickory point, one ditto in Crown 
Point, the three first so far completed as to be in constant 
use, one Presbyterian at Crown Point. There are two 
brick dwelling houses — two public offices of brick — and 
several small out buildings of brick at Crown Point — 
these are the only ones in the county — the first one of 
these was built in the fall of 1844 — There are some 4 or 5 
stores in the county — ie. — H. S. Pelton & Wm. Alton, at 
Crown Point, Mr. Taylor at Pleasant Grove — a small 
stock at Wood's mills & another in the German Settle- 
ment over West. 

The majority of the inhabitants are Yorkers & Yan- 
kees. There are about 100 families of Germans — some 
15 families of Irish & about a dozen of English. There 
are 6 or 7 physicians in the county that depend on their 
practice for a living. There are 5 local preachers of the 
Methodist Church & one circuit or mission preacher, re- 
siding in the county ; and one presbyterian — the Catholic 
Church are visited by a missionary at short intervals. 

There are two attornies, with scarcely practice enough 
to support one — The County officers in April 1847 are 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1847 79 

Henry Wells, Sheriff; H. D. Palmer, Associate judge & 
one vacancy & Hervey Ball, probate judge. D. K. Petti- 
bone, Clerk, Joseph Jackson, County Auditor, Major All- 
man, Recorder, Wm. C. Farrington, Treasurer, Alex Mc- 
Donald, Assessor, S. T. Green, H. S. Pelton & Robt. Wil- 
kinson, County Comrs. 

There are 15 Justices of the Peace in the County, some 
of whom do not have a dozen cases a year, while the num- 
ber upon the docket supposed to be much the largest of 
any one in the county; from April 1st, 1846 to Apl. 1 '47 
number only one hundred — among which there is only 
one judgment & fine for a breach of the peace. Our jail 
has been tenantless for years. 

There are only two open & notorious drinking shops in 
the county, though the vile body & soul destroying poison, 
is peddled out by seme half dozen road side tavern keep- 
ers & at two stores in the county ; one of the owners of 
which however has lately met with such a change of 
heart as we hope will induce him to quit the wicked trafic, 
particularly filling the pint bottles of notorious drunk- 
ards. 

The county seat is the only village in Lake County. It 
contains about 30 families — 2 churches building — 2 
stores, 1 tavern — 2 convenient public offices — 1 school 
house — and the usual quota of mechanics, as carpenters, 
mason, wagon-makers, blacksmiths, tailors, shoemakers, 
4 doctors & 3 preachers. 

The town is located upon a piece of gently modulating 
prairie along the eastern border of a grove of oak & 
hickory, which together with the growing shade trees 
that have been planted & a goodly number of fruit trees, 
gives the town in summer a cool and pleasant appear- 
ance. And when seen in a clear morning as you approach 
from the North East, where the view extends six or seven 
miles across the prairie the view is such as I have never 
seen exceeded. 

I have a few remarks upon the face of the country, to 
show its general appearance & quality of soil & capability 
of sustaining a dense population, and then I will close. 



80 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

There are about 100 sections of land in the north part 
of the county which are in a great measure unfit for cul- 
tivation, one half entirely so, without great expense of 
draining. The land is a continued succession of sand 
ridges and marshes — those ridges in the North West 
part, low and narrow, conforming with the bend of the 
Lake Shore, and originaly covered with a valuable 
growth of pine & cedar, which has been nearly all stript 
off to build up Chicago. 

In the North East the sand hills are very abrupt & 
have yet some good pine timber, though very dificult to 
obtain. 

As we recede from the Lake Shore, the sand ridges 
grow broader & intervals less marshy until they finaly 
unite with the prairie, as we see north of Turkey Creek 
and along the hickory creek road. 

After leaving the pine, the greater part of the timber is 
scrubby black oak, with here and there a little white oak 
— on Deep River South east of Liverpool there is some 
excellent white oak timber on the Calamic, towards the 
Illinois line, there are a few hundred acres of tolerable 
good prairie, and also in Town. 35, Range 8 North of 
Turkey Creek ; and with this exception, there is no prairie 
other than marsh prairie until we get south of that creek. 

Then upon a line running South in Range 8, between 
the Crown Point timber & school grove, we should pass 
over continuous prairie where an unbroken furrow when 
I came here could have been plowed more than 15 miles 
to the Kankakee marsh ; which embraces all the South 
part of the county and contains about 75 sections ; though 
not that much of marsh, for there are many islands & 
large tracts of swamp timber that is very valuable, 
though it can only be obtained in the winter. There are 
also many spots of excellant dry land that might be culti- 
vated if they could be got at. Indeed the time may come 
when the entire marsh may be put under cultivation ; for 
it is a fact that the government of Holland are now en- 
gaged in pumping by steam, the water out of a Lake that 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1847 81 

is 13 feet deep on an average and nearly as large as half 
of Lake County, for the purpose of cultivating its bed. 
How much less work it would be to bring the whole Kan- 
kakee marsh into cultivation, than it is to pump dry such 
a Lake and keep continually pumping afterwards to keep 
it dry. 

The great quantity of marshy land in the North & 
South parts of the county are not certainly what we 
would desire, but the central part contains besides the 
marshy extremities that I have described, between 3 & 
400 sections of most excellant arable land — about three 
quarters of which is prairie, mostly of a soil of black 
clayey loam with a trace of beach sand, lying upon a sub- 
structure of exceedingly compact hard yellow clay, from 
4 to 40 feet deep ; under which we invariably find course, 
clean beach sand, in which we get clear sweet water. 

The timber is mostly white oak, with black oak, burr 
oak & hickory and the land more clayey than the prairie 
— Much of the timber near the Kankakee is swamp ash — 
There is one island of very fine sugar maple near the 
S. W. corner. The timber upon the islands in the marsh 
grows tall & straight, but upon the upland, it is generally 
short & scattering; the annual burning prevents under- 
growth. 

The soil in its native state produces first rate wheat, 
but it is probably more liable to winter kill, than upon 
more sandy land ; though it seems now that the last win- 
ter has killed the crop upon all kinds of land. In fact it is 
a very uncertain in this county. It also produces well in 
oats, spring wheat, corn, buckwheat, potatoes, turnips & 
all kinds of garden vines & vegetables ; and certainly no 
country can show a finer growth of fruit trees. 

Of wild fruits, there is a most abundant supply of 
cranberries and many of the sand ridges north of turkey 
creek are covered with whortleberries, strawberries, 
blackberries, plums & crab apples also abound. 

Of wild game, deer are tolerably plenty ; but the feath- 
ered tribe, such as geese, brant, ducks, swans, sand hill 



82 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

cranes & prairie hens, must be seen to believe what quan- 
tities exist here. 

The only noxous animals are prairie wolves, which 
were so abundent and bold when I first settled here that 
they would almost steal a fellow's supper from his plate. 
In fact I knew one instance where some men were camp- 
ing just where Mr. Eddy's house now stands, & while 
they were lying with their feet to the fire, one of the 
varviints crept up & stole a quarter of venison that was 
roasting upon a stick stuck in the ground ; but before he 
could get off with his hot supper, one of the men raised 
up in his bed & his rifle being within reach he shot him 
dead. 

But they have now got well learnt that white folks do 
not hold a wolf's life sacred, as the Indians used to. There 
has been one bear seen and killed in the county since its 
first settlement. 

Of reptiles, the massasaugas rattle snake is the only 
very troublesome one, and I don't know of but one death 
occasioned by the bite of one of them, since the settle- 
ment of the county, this was a son of Elias Bryant. It is 
also said that a snake bite was the remote cause of the 
death of Mrs. Van Volkenburgh. 

Of troublesome insects, the flies that torment our 
horses & cattle this summer are enough to make any rea- 
sonable man thankful that he was not born a horse. 

Although I have never found the place in the county 
where mosquitoes are very plenty I am often reminded 
by the few that I do find here & there, of the anecdote of 
the man on the bank of the Mississippi river who seemed 
to be very busy with both hands, brushing away for life, 
was enquired of by a traveler if mosquitoes were not 
troublesome there ; who replied no — brushing them off his 
face at the same time with both hands — no, not very, but 
just dovm below they are thick as hell. It is much the 
case here, although nobody owns the spot where they are, 
they are very thick jiist down below. 

You have now patiently followed me step by step & 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1847 83 

seen the progress of the settlement of this county from 
the first commencement up to the spring of 1847. What 
a change, what a wonderful change in 12 years — Who can 
realise it — and yet the change in the next 12 years will 
be still greater — can you realise that — no-no-no. 

I am aware that much that I have here said to you is 
now uninteresting, because you say — "Why I knew that 
before" — but let me assure you that if these leaves could 
be sealed up for one hundred years, and then opened and 
read to an audience in this town, that little merit as they 
possess, they would excite the most profound interest in 
all who should hear. And it is not improbable but that 
they might be now read with interest, a thousand miles 
from here — 

I have only written for a beginning of the history of 
Lake County, will you all now help to continue the record. 
Remember that we are all rapidly passing away, and in a 
few years the place that now knows us will know us no 
more, and those that come after us will not know these 
things. We plant trees — we build houses — we make 
farms for those who are to fill our places — And why not 
write our early history. I am aware that this sketch is 
a meager one. But I could not make it more full without 
fear of tiring your patience — But each one of you can 
make additions, leave the facts upon record & believe me 
that the time will come when they will all be more inter- 
esting, than this, my first effort, has been to you. 

Though from the attention with which you have 
listened to me, I have reason to hope that I have helped 
you to pass an evening more pleasantly & more profitably, 
than those do who spend their days and nights in seeking 
pleasures by steeping their senses in the ruinous forget- 
fulness of beastly drunkenness. 

That you may all live to see the day when drunkenness 
shall be among the things that once were but now are not, 
is the most ardent wish of your friend and fellow laborer 
in the good cause in which the Lake County Temperance 
Society are now engaged in trying to promote. 



84 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

That you may be able to do this, I pray you to perse- 
vere in this good cause. And as for myself, I will ask 
for no prouder monument to my fame than to be assured 
that the members of this society will stand as mourners 
around my grave, and pointing to the lifeless form be- 
neath the falling sod, shall truly say there lies a brother 
who in his life had an ardent desire to promote the happi- 
ness of his fellow creatures — May his historian be able 
to record that in the later years of his life he was emi- 
nently successful in this — and particularly so upon this 
evening. 

Temperance Song 

a new version of "come, come away." 

By Solon Robinson, Esq. 

[Valparaiso Western Ranger, May 26, 1847] 

[May 26?, 1847] 

Come, come away, from drinking and carousing, 
Health, wealth and joy, it will destroy, 
Oh ! come, come away ! 
Oh ! come where friends will welcome you. 
And where with love and friendship true 
Hearts their love renew, 
Oh! come, come away!^ 

From cup and from bowl, with poison overflowing. 
From life's dread snare, death and despair,- 
Oh ! come, come away ! 

Oh ! come where wife and happy home. 

And smiling children love to roam, 

' An issue of the Western Ranger — bearing the name of D. K. 
Pettibone, one-time clerk of Lake County — now in the bound vol- 
ume of the Ranger in the Valparaiso Public Library, contains the 
following penciled corrections to this stanza : 

Line 1 : "0 come, come away, from drinking and carousing" 

Last three lines: "And where we all may join anew, 
In love and friendship true, 
Oh! come, come away!" 

' See note 1. This line is corrected to: "From life's dread snare, 
and dark despair." 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1847 85 

Make home a happy home, 
Oh ! come, come away ! 

From days idly spent, with the tyrant o'er you reigning. 
What can you gain, but woe and pain. 
Oh ! come, come away ! 
And while we sing of pleasure true, 
A social pledge once more renew. 
Of hope, joy, liberty. 

Oh! come, come away! 

And here with your voice and jouful song upraising. 
From Bacchus' din of woe and sin, 
Oh! come, come away! 
For now your course, your life destroys 
It ruins health and earthly joys. 
The cup falls, while it cloys. 
Oh! come, come away! 

A Rambling Letter upon Geology and some other 

Matters. 

[Daily Cincinnati Gazette, June 14, 1847] 

[May 27, 1847] 

To Dr. John Locke' — Dear Sir: — When a resident of 
Cincinnati some years ago, I enjoyed a slight acquaint- 
ance with you, and presume upon that to address this 
note to you 

I have been highly interested with the letters addressed 
to you by your excellent correspondent "D. C," particu- 

^ John Locke, born at Lempster, New Hampshire, February 19, 
1792; died at Cincinnati, Ohio, July 10, 1856. Physician, scientist, 
and inventor. Wrote Outlines of Botany, 1819; established the 
Cincinnati Female Academy in 1822; served as professor of chem- 
istry and pharmacy in the Medical College of Ohio, 1835-1853. Be- 
tween 1835 and 1840 was engaged in private geologic and paleon- 
tologic studies. Contributor to the American Journal of Science 
and Arts, the Tratisactions of the American Philosophical Society, 
and to the Smithsonian Contributions to Knowledge. See sketch in 
Dictionary of American Biography, 11:337-38. 



86 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

larly No. 8, published in the Gazette of May 20th/ as I 
have travelled over the same ground, and tried to study 
into the cause from the effect there visible. I first saw the 
sand-blows, in Scott Co., Missouri, in the fore part of the 
year 1845. Observing that they appeared recent, I made 
inquiry, and was well assured that they had continued 
every year, generally in February, ever since the earth- 
quake of 1811, which destroyed New Madrid, some 30 
miles south of the point I then was. People in that region 
have become so accustomed to these miniature earth- 
quakes, that they are no longer regarded as phenomena. 
I am sorry that your correspondent could not have trav- 
elled upon that side of the Mississippi river, and observed 
these more recent operations of the hidden power below 
that still continues its uneasy workings. 

I take the same view of the formation of Reelf oot Lake 
that D. C. does; but it is easy to account for the pre- 
vailing opinion that the bottom sunk down, because such 
was the fact on the New Madrid side. Small pools of 
water were found where it was before dry, even in cul- 
tivated fields 

D C. supposes that the sand-blows were accompanied 
with water. I was informed that the recent ones were 
entirely dry sand. 

In my journey south from Troy, I passed through 
Holly Springs, Oxford, Coffeeville, Grenada, Lexington, 
Benton, Raymond, Port Gibson, &c., to Natchez. I can- 
not describe the country over which I travelled geologi- 
cally, but perhaps some extracts from my notes, descrip- 
tive of the of the country may be interesting. "Below 
Holly Springs the same continuation of hills of fine sand, 
that commenced near the north line of Mississippi, with 
side bottom lands upon all the streams, which are gener- 
ally a fine and very adhesive clay. The timber on the hills 
mostly black oak; in the bottoms beach, &c, No under- 
brush on the hills, and trees stood wide apart and scrub- 
by. New Oxford: noticed red sandstone, with traces of 

' D.C.'s series of articles was entitled "Geology of the West and 
South West." 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1847 87 

iron. No saw mills — banks of streams so loose that they 
don't admit of sawing; beside being a mile apart, [i.e. 
the banks of the bottom lands.] Beds of streams very- 
fine sand. In all the side hills, as soon the timber is 
removed, immense gullies occur. Face of the country 
exceedingly uneven, and the soil so fine and light, that 
unless hill sides are cultivated upon the level system with 
side hill ditches, it runs off almost as free as water. Upon 
some of the highest peaks of these volcanic hills are 
large masses of heavy, red stone, in cubical form, having 
the appearance of melted sand, mixed with iron. Occa- 
sionally the hills are covered with pitch pine. Around 
Raymond the country is more level and more clayey — 
sometimes the color of this clay approaches nearly to 
white. Towards Natchez, the streams seem to run in 
beds of loose sand, and in places where the roots have 
decayed, channels of immense width are cut out, and 
which are widening with every freshet 

"The country around Natchez is well worthy the 
attention of Geologists. The town is built upon a bluff 
some 300 feet high, of an alluvial deposit that appears 
to been formed at one time in an eddy of water of that 
depth." 

If you, sir, or your correspondent, will make a trip to 
Natchez, and then come by land about 100 miles up to 
Vicksburgh, you will find more to interest you, than upon 
any other 100 miles of alluvial deposit in the west. 

And if you will call on Col. Wales,^ at Washington, 6 
miles east of Natchez, you will not only find a very inter- 
esting cabinet, but a gentleman, willing and qualified to 
give a fund of information in relation to that locality. 

' B. L. C. Wailes, state geolog-ist of Mississippi. The Wailes 
family originally emigrated from Maryland and settled near Nat- 
chez. Wailes wrote numerous articles on agriculture including in- 
digo cultivation, the adoption of the cotton gin, and the introduction 
of Mexican cotton in Mississippi. Also made a report on the 
Agriculture and Geology of Mississippi, in 1854. Rowland, Dun- 
bar, History of Mississippi. The Heart of the Sotith, 1:39-40, 289- 
91, 342; 2:512, 515-17, 666 (S. J. Clarke Publishing Co., Chicago- 
Jackson, 1925) ; Biographical and Historical Memoirs of Missis- 
sippi, 1:13. 



88 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

As your letters written during your travels over the 
country are read with so much pleasure by all your nu- 
merous acquaintances, as well as those of your corre- 
spondent D.C, I hope one or both of you will find it con- 
venient to visit this part of Mississippi, and publish your 
opinion as to how and when that great deposit was made. 

I wish to know whether there is good ground for be- 
lieving that the Cumberland mountains once extended 
across the Mississippi and united with those now seen in 
the southwest part of Missouri, by which all the country 
between the Alleghanies and Rocky mountains was cov- 
ered with an immense Lake, and when the gap where the 
great river now flows, was thrown down by the earth- 
quakes that still continue their operations, in the same 
vicinity, if the enormous mass of alluvial deposit below 
was then made, which has since been disturbed and 
thrown into all sorts of odd shaped hills by the further 
action of volcanic power. I am sure the world would be 
interested in reading your opinion upon this matter, 
after examining the country indicated. I am sure you 
would be interested in the examination. 

My present residence is near the head of Lake Michi- 
gan, where the action of water in the formation of all the 
land around me is very visible. The surface is black, 
vegetable mold, with a trace of beach sand, lying upon a 
bed varying from one to fifty feet of very hard yellowish 
brown clay, that breaks out in cubes, and is intermixed 
with flat gravel in small quantities, and sometimes boul- 
ders, which are very frequent on the surface. Under 
the clay lies clean beach sand, just as it was deposited by 
the waves. A few feet into this sand clear water is 
always found. In some places the sand comes to the sur- 
face without any intervening clay. There are no rocks 
either primitive or secondary in this part of Indiana. 
But within a few miles of the State line over in Illinois, 
the limestone crosses out, and 40 miles west, at Joliet, the 
bottom of the O'Plain river is solid limestone. The origi- 
nal bed of this river is a mile wide, channel cut down into 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1847 89 

the lime rock, showing that here once flowed the outlet of 
Lake Michigan. 

Twenty-five miles south of Joliet commence the great 
coal fields of Illinois. 

But I am rambling on, quite uninteresting, perhaps, to 
you or any others, who will read this letter. I will there- 
fore close abruptly. 

I am, with much respect, 

Solon Robinson. 

Crown Point, Lake Co., la.. May 27, 1847. 

Odds and Ends from an Odd End. 

[Chicago Prairie Farmer, 7:204-5; July, 1847] 

[June, 1847] 

Messrs. Editors: I am called upon by one of your 
correspondents in the June number for "light" — moon- 
light at that. "Alas, my sun has set." I am but the 
feeble reflection of a passing shadow. The little light I 
once gave out, I have not "hid under a bushel," but it has 
been dimmed upon a bed of long-continued illness. 

The most that I can "enlighten" Dr. Rousseau^ on the 
subject of the influence of the goddess Luna upon sub- 
lunary things, is to assure him that I most sincerely be- 
lieve it is "all moonshine." 

In the early ages of the world, when men's minds were 
in a state of semi-barbarism, when stars were studied be- 
fore books, the sun and moon came to be looked upon with 
awe and reverence ; and as the effect of the sun upon vege- 
tation was palpable to the senses, it was but natural that 
it should come to be believed by a people who had a spe- 
cial deity for every fruit and flower and tree, brook, 
grove, and mount or sea, that the moon also performed 

' Dr. J. A. Rousseau, Elm Grove, Marion County, Iowa. Corre- 
spondent of the Prairie Farmer, 1847-1850. Frequently wrote about 
animals and their diseases. Robinson's comment refers to an 
article on "The Moon," 7:196, asking his views on the influence of 
the moon on vegetation. See also "The Moon Doctrine," written 
probably by one of the editors, in ibid., 8:18-20 (January, 1848), 



90 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

a part in the wonderful works of nature. I trust that 
time will teach mankind that it is utterly inconsistent 
with reason to believe that the moon can creep into the 
dinner pot to shrink or swell the meat, or that the rails 
of a fence which are laid up in the old of the moon will 
sink into the earth any quicker than those laid in the new- 
ness of her majesty's monthly appearance. 

As for "experience," I have had my share of it in a 
somewhat checkered life, among a vast number of my 
fellow men, and have surely tried to profit by my own 
and their experience in the matter of "the signs" and in- 
fluences of the moon upon animal and vegetable life ; and 
I must honestly say that I never have seen one iota of 
evidence in favor of their theory. And if Jupiter in his 
haste to "rise and snuff the moon" some dark night, 
should snuff her ladyship out, I should not apprehend the 
least effect whatever upon "seed time and harvest." 

Now as it is a pity to send you any blank paper, and as 
I have yet my lamp trimmed and burning, will you allow 
me to comment a little upon some other articles? Per- 
haps I may be able to shed as much influence as the moon 
does. And first — 

Comments upon "Comments." I will bet a dozen apples 
of that interesting variety known as "five to the pint" 
that the "seedling orchardist" spoken of by Mr. Hardup,^ 
is a firm believer in lunar influences. 

"Grapes." Here I must differ. "Every person who is 
desirous of growing the grape, if he chooses can" not 
grow them: for the reason that a clay soil with a hard, 
cold, wet subsoil, will not grow the vines to any degree 
of perfection. 

"Shooting Hogs" is the only effectual remedy that can 
ever be applied to that system of piracy which fills our 
streets and commons with hordes of robbers which steal, 
ruin, and destroy the property and peace of every com- 
munity where permitted. I will go 40 miles to visit a 
man who keeps a rifle to extirpate the evil. 

* A pseudonym used by a reviewer of the Prairie Farmer. 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1847 91 

"Lombardy Poplar for hedge." Just as good in the 
long run as any thing else. 

'Ticket Fence." If those who build picket fence will 
only nail a strip of board over the pickets, with a ten- 
penny nail through each one into the girts, top and bot- 
tom, the hogs will not root off the pickets as they now do. 

"Rolling Wheat" it is thought will be found beneficial ; 
I have no doubt of it : but the wheat crops of our western 
prairies will never be rolled. Sheep can doubtless be sub- 
stituted for the roller with decieed advantage. 

I intend to address Mr. Shillaber^ upon some of the 
subjects he speaks of, in the course of the summer ; but I 
shall do it face to face, while enjoying his hospitality. 

The "Missouri Barn" plan,- is not suited to this me- 
ridian. The timber of which it is composed would be a 
fortune on some of our prairies. Such a shed as that, 
however, where practicable, would be found to be one of 
the greatest conveniences upon a farm. It should be high 
enough to drive under a load of grain if necessary when 
a shower is approaching. 

I have often thought that an oil cloth (tarpaulin) large 
enough to cover a load of wheat or half-built stack would 
be one of the most useful things that a prairie farmer 
could own. It would be truly a labor saving farm imple- 
ment. 

"Discouragements." A certain remedy against the 
"skinning system" of the doctors, is not to employ them. 
Try it and live — and let them live if they can. Use pre- 
ventives against the universal bilious complaints of this 
country, and you will want less curatives. 

"The Potato Worm" I believe is identical with the 
"tobacco worm" that infests the tobacco fields of the 
South in vast numbers, and which have to be destroyed 
or they will destroy the crop. The term "worming to- 

* John Shillaber, Dixon, Illinois. Correspondent of the Albany 
Cultivator and Prairie Farmer. His article in the June number of 
the Prairie Farmer (7:176) touched upon "Want of Implements. 
Crops. Lee Co. for Immigrants." 

' An article by A. M'Korkle, in Prairie Farmer, 7:177. 



92 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

bacco" means going daily through the fields and gather- 
ing these offensive and disgusting monsters in the hand 
and crushing them. By the bye, of the two classes of 
tobacco chewers, I don't know which is the most disgust- 
ing, the human or the inhuman. The worms however 
seem to be benefited by such food, and that is more than 
any human chewer of food fit for worms can say. 

"There are no toads here." That means Chicago exclu- 
sively, I suppose ; because I have some of the "biggest and 
best" I ever saw. One famous old fellow has been a pet 
of ours these ten years: Every child about the place 
knows "father's old toad," and under no circumstances 
must the innocent and useful creatures be injured, 

"The Cactus." "The lover of flowers who has not seen 
the bloom of the cactus is to be pitied." The term cactus 
as here used is too indefinite. Children, Messrs. Editors, 
read your paper, and should be told to which of the great 
family of plants bearing this general name you allude: 
since the term reaches from the great American Aloe, or 
Century Plant, Agave Americanum, down to the little 
humble "prickly pear." 

"The dandelion can be easily grown from seed." What 
for? [Greens. Ed.'\ 

"Those Alpaccas" are coming — in a national vessel, too. 
Think of that, ye "strict constructionists," who stickle 
that the general government has no right or authority in 
the constitution to build harbors any where upon fresh 
water for the purpose of saving human life. Will it be 
any less unconstitutional to devote a few dollars to bring 
home some of these valuable animals than it would to dig 
out a little of the mud in the mouth of Chicago River,^ or 

* In August, 1846, President Polk vetoed the Rivers and Harbors 
Bill, which carried an appropriation for improving the Chicago 
River channel, upon which over $247,000 had been expended between 
1833 and 1846. On July 5, 1847, a great River and Harbor Con- 
vention opened in Chicago. The address to Congress, prepared by 
the convention, reviewed the entire history of waterways in this 
country, argued constitutional questions involved, discussed the 
subject from a political angle, and included other matters pertain- 
ing to the welfare of the West. Nothing was done for the Chicago 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1847 93 

deepen the channel over the St. Clair flats? None but 
flats will say so. 

"Feed for fattening cattle." In my opinion no other 
feed can come in competition with corn at 25 cents a 
bushel for this purpose ; and this is higher than the aver- 
age in this country. 

And will you tell why "corn meal is not well adapted 
for milch cows." 

"Clay Houses,"^ built with soft clay in molds, always 
have the door and window frames inserted while build- 
ing. The best way to hold the boards in position is by 
iron rods, two at each end and one in the middle. On the 
middle of the face of the door and window frames next 
the clay, a strip of board should be nailed, two or three 
inches wide, and the same length and breadth of frames. 
This holds them in place and also prevents a passage for 
air between the wood and clay. 

The molds, so far as I have seen used, were sixteen 
inches deep, made of inch boards, planed and strongly 
battened, and no matter ivhat length, as they are ahvays 
made to go quite round the building, so that a course of 
clay upon each of the walls is put on at the same time, the 
same height all round. The frames do not interfere with 
the mold boards, as these go over them. 

The molds remain on 24 hours, and then it takes two 
or three days of drying for the walls to be fit another 
course. 

"Western Agricultural Societies — Where are they?" 
Echo answers — 

"Mode of Feeding Corn." That word "feeding" should 
have been hauling. I thank you, Mr. C- for that article. 

Hai'bor until 1852, when $20,000 was appropriated and expended 
in improving the inner harbor. Andreas, A.T., History of Chi- 
cago . . . , 1:233-38 (Chicago, 1884). The proceedings of the con- 
vention are printed in Fergus' Historical Series, 3:no.l8 (Chicago, 
1882), Robinson was a delegate from Indiana to the convention. 

' "Clay Houses with Solid Walls," by George Frisbie, of Ogle 
County, Illinois. Prairie Farmer, 7:182. 

^ W. Challacombe, of Carlinville, Illinois. Prairie Farmer, 
7:183. 



94 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

I shall adopt the same plan for the foundation of a hay 
rack. 

But of all the machines that ever I saw for hauling 
corn in the shock, the Jersey mode is the best. The corn 
being put up in large shocks in the field, is hauled one at 
a time on a horse cart, in this wise. A light frame is 
made to take the place of the cart bed, having two long 
stakes behind, so that one is on each side of the shock 
when the cart is backed up, and the frame tipped back as 
though dumping a load. A small rope is now thrown 
over the shock, and this being attached to a small wind- 
lass on the thills and running through the forward part 
of the frame, on being wound up draws the shock tight to 
the frame, and then draws the frame down, where it is 
held fast; the butts of the shock hanging off behind. 
When arrived at the place to unload, the rope being let 
loose, down goes the shock, standing just as it did in the 
field. Where the distance is not over a mile, it is aston- 
ishing how soon a field can be cleared ; and then you have 
the corn just where you want it to be husked as you want 
the stalks to feed. 

The card of Messrs. Perkins & Brown^ would have 
been far more interesting to wool growers in this county 
if it had announced that hereafter wool would be bought 
in Chicago at any thing like a fair price. My advice to 
all who have wool to sell is, not to sacrifice it as they did 
last year. Hold on — the price will be better; if not, it 
wont be worth raising. 

"Mills by Wind and Water" is a windy project. It 
never will be put in practice. The same power that will 
be required to throw up water enough to run one pair of 
mill stones, would run two pair if applied direct. 

The advantage of running during the little time the 
wind did not blow, would cost more than it would come to. 

I knew a man in Cincinnati who spent ten thousand 

* A Springfield, Massachusetts, firm of wool buyers, who issued, 
in 1847, a circular entitled "To Wool Growers," which offered prizes 
for different types of wool. Printed in Prairie Farmer, 7:187 (June, 
1847), and in American Agriculturist, 6:179-80 (June, 1847). 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1847 95 

dollars upon a project of this kind — pumping up water 
and letting it on to a large overshot wheel, which did a 
fine business making flour; but he was at last compelled 
to believe that he lost one half of the strength of his 
original power, and gave up the ignis fatuus that had led 
him so far away. 

I do not expect Mr. Padon^ to be convinced of his error, 
for theorists rarely are ; but I hope he will not be able to 
induce any one to spend his money in such a windy wa- 
tery project. 

"Lightening Rods." I again remind mi/ readers that 
growing trees near a building are the best and cheapest 
conductors ever put up. 

"Nailing into Clay Houses,"- in the belief that it will 
"hold as well as in pine studding," will only be believed 
by those whose heads are not as "hard as a brick." "This 
is a fact of considerable importance to builders of houses 
of this sort," and whoever sides up a house and depends 
upon clay to hold the nails, will be very apt to get his 
soft head hardened when the boards come tumbling over 
his head and ears some windy day. 

The "Educational Department" in this number is 
rather longer than will suit the taste of most of your 
readers. Physic can only be given to children in small 
doses. 

"Woodchucks." Do you expect to raise enough of these 
varmints to make a sufficient quantity of whips to casti- 
gate all the "rascality in these western States." If you 
do, I am O.P.H. — there will be no room for anybody but 
woodchucks. 

I've done — I think I've done enough for once. 

I remain that same Solon Robinson. 

Crown Point, Lake co. la. June, 1847. 

' Isaac Paden, Knox County, Illinois. Correspondent of the Prai- 
rie Farmer, 1847. His article, "A Project for Mills by Wind and 
Water," appeared in the June number, 1847 (7:188). 

^ See note on "Plastering of Clay Houses," ibid., 188-89. 



96 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 
Western Agriculture — Corn Cobs. 

[New York American Agriculturist, 6:338-39; Nov., 1847'] 

[July, 1847] 

I made a flying visit to our old friend Henry L. Ells- 
worth,- of Patent Office memory, one day last month. He 
is now a resident of La Fayette, Indiana, where he is 
farming pretty largely on the Wea Prairie, about seven 
miles out, on which he has a thousand acres of Indian 
corn in one field. The uncommon high price of corn this 
summer,^ has been the moving cause of growing many 
an extra acre of it in the Wabash Valley, where, if it 
ripens well, it will tell a pleasing tale, not only to the 
cultivators, but to the starving millions of Europe. 

Mr. Ellsworth is as full of enthusiasm as ever, and no 
less busy than he was in his office at Washington. He is 
an owner and manager of a vast amount of land, which 
he is selling, leasing, and improving, and which, together 
with all the business operations that he is carrying on, 
keeps his office crowded with the multitudes who deal 
with him. Yet he finds time to be continually trying 
some experiment, or studying out some improvements 
for the benefit of the agricultural community. 

I saw six pigs in as many pens, just big enough to hold 
each occupant without exercise, which he was feeding on 
corn in the ear, corn ground, but fed raw, and corn-meal 
made into mush — two upon each kind. The pigs were 
all alike in age, breed, size, and weight, when commenced 
with, and after being fed a certain time with carefully- 
weighed quantities of food, they are re-weighed and 
weights noted, and then those which had been fed upon 
one kind, are changed to another and so on; and when 
the experiment is finished, he assured me he would pub- 

' Reprinted in part in Michigan Farmer, 6:45 (February 1, 1848). 

'See Robinson, l:213n and Index. 

' On June 27, 1847, shelled corn was quoted at 35 cents to 38 
cents a bushel in Chicago, as against 23 cents to 25 cents a bushel 
on June 27, 1846. Prairie Farmer, 6:232 (July, 1846), 7:232 (July, 
1847). 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1847 97 

lish the table/ The experiment thus far is very largely 
in favor of the mush, bidding fair to produce enough to 
pay toll and trouble for grinding, as well as for cooking, 
and leave a profit. The number of pounds of good thick 
mush, that one hundred pounds of meal, well-worked, 
will make, is astonishing to anyone who has never 
thought much upon the subject. It will not fall much if 
any short of six hundred pounds. Mr. Ellsworth's kettle 
holds just fourteen pounds of meal at a charge, and sev- 
eral accurate weighings give over eighty pounds when 
well cooked, and I saw myself that no more water was 
used than the meal would absorb. But it must be cooked 
— not merely scalded. A little salt is added, and occa- 
sionally a little sulphur. 

Mr. Ellsworth assured me that he had proved the 
mooted point of nutritive food in corn-cobs. He says, 
"hogs 2uill live and thrive upon tvell ground cob-meal 
alone! At first they did not take hold. I then added a 
small quantity of meal of the grain, principally to make 
the mass ferment quicker, and then they eat the whole, 
and did well. I had great difficulty in getting the cobs 
ground. Millers are so well satisfied in their own minds 
that cobs are good for nothing, that they are not willing 
to let the experiment be tried whether they are nourish- 
ing or not. I am satisfied that twenty-five pounds of 
corn-meal added to one hundred pounds of cob-meal, is 
more valuable for feed for growing stock, than seventy- 
five pounds of corn-meal alone." Such is the language of 
Mr. Ellsworth. Experiments of this kind should be fur- 
ther tried. One-fourth of the weight of a bushel of ears 
of corn, nature never intended should be thrown away, 
and cobs upon large corn-farms in the West are literally 

^ Ellsworth made his report in a letter of December 15, 1847, to 
Edmund Burke, commissioner of patents. Annual Report of the 
Commissioner of Patents, 1847, pt. 2:534-39. See also "Remarks 
on the Nutritive Value of Corn Cobs," in American Agriculturist, 
8:279 (September, 1849). Some of Ellsworth's later experiments 
on his Lafayette farm are described in ibid., 8:348 (November, 
1849). 



98 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

thrown away.^ They are neither used for food, fuel, feed, 
nor manure; for the latter is considered a nuisance. 

After my visit to Mr. Ellsworth, I met with our old 
friend, Mr. Colt,^ of New Jersey, at the great Chicago 
Convention.^ Owing to the vast crowd of people and 
business, I did not have the opportunity that I wished to 
glean intelligence from so enterprising a Jersey farmer 
as he is well known to be ; but as a matter of course, the 
things that our minds most did dwell upon were discussed 
over the dinner table, where I mentioned my conversa- 
tion with Mr. Ellsworth, upon the subject of corn-cobs, 
and my belief that they would be highly advantageous to 
feed in small quantities to all kinds of stock, solely on 
account of the alkaline properties that many an ancient 
dame knows that they possess. For oft has she made 
cobley when pearlash was high ; and even if a little should 
be mixed in human food it would not injure it; and in the 
stomach of fattening hogs particularly, it would prove an 
excellent corrector of acidity. This idea was nothing new 
to so inquiring a mind as that of Mr. C, and he told me 
that he had tendered a donation of one hundred dollars to 
the American Institute for a complete analysis of corn- 
cobs, so as to prove whether there was any nutritive qual- 
ity in them. 

But my opinion is, that if the hundred dollars were 
spent in actual experiments of feeding live stock with 
cob-meal, a much more satisfactory result might be ar- 
rived at, than can possibly be done by any chemical 

*In the March issue of the Ame7-ican Agriculturist, 1848 (7:85), 
Reviewer remarked that he was "glad to see . . . Mr. Robinson 
, . . still flying about among the pigs, and giving . . . interesting 
descriptions of the manner of making them into pork and other 
matters," but he was extremely skeptical of the value of corncobs 
as food. 

' Roswell L. Colt, Paterson, New Jersey. Correspondent of the 
American Agriculturist, 1848, and Cultivator, 1850. In 1849 Mr. 
Colt inquired about the nutritive value of corncobs in a letter to 
the commissioner of the Patent Office. Report of the Commissioner 
of Patents, 1849, pt. 2:229. 

' Chicago River and Harbor Convention. See ante, 92n-93n. 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1847 99 

analysis. If Mr. C. himself will undertake the matter, I 
am sure that he will prove some facts of vast importance 
to the corn-growers of the United States. Where cobs 
are to be had in vast quantities, if they were used as fuel 
and the ashes carefully saved, I have no doubt that they 
would be found more than twice as valuable as wood- 
ashes for any purpose. If cobs are not worth feeding to 
stock, and not of sufficient value as manure or fuel, to be 
worth saving, then I am greatly mistaken, and hope to 
have my mind enlightened with the truth ; and when that 
is done I shall not feel so grieved to see this bountiful 
product of nature lying knee-deep across the public high- 
way in front of the door of many a hog and hommony 
farmer of the West. But enough about one of nature's 
productions which the world estimates as good for 
nothing. 

But there is another subject that was talked over by 
Mr. Ellsworth and myself which I hope to see discussed 
in your columns, and which will afford your Reviewer 
an ample text, and which I hope he will discuss with all 
the candor that his somewhat captious pen will allow 
him, and not ridicule the idea because it is a new one. 
It is packing flour and meal, and in fact, all dry sub- 
stances usually packed in barrels for a foreign market, 
in square packages. A barrel of flour put up in a neatly 
made smooth chest, would be something new. The ad- 
vantages in form over that of the old one would be many, 
as we view the matter. Firstly, not one tree in a hun- 
dred will make barrel staves, that will make good sound 
boards. Secondly, they can be made cheaper than bar- 
rels. The boards can be sawed, planed, and sides and 
ends dove-tailed together — bottom and top cut to match 
in — all by machinery of the simplest forms and rapid in 
its operation. All but the top should be well nailed, and 
cut nails are cheaper than hoops. The top should be put 
on with wood-screws, which can be done with a very 
simple machine, and much quicker than the most expert 
workmen could head a barrel ; the screws being made of 



100 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

a new form on purpose for this use. It may be found 
necessary to put a very light iron hoop around the ends 
when shipped on a long voyage. Thirdly, the important 
advantage saved in stowage, in wagon, railroad-car, 
canal-boat, on shipboard, or in store. Fourthly, not one 
atom of leakage. Every one who has seen flour carried 
upon a railroad, is aware that a great many barrels which 
were made of timber not well seasoned, leak quite an 
item of the quantity to a starving man. The boxes not 
admitting leakage, if exposed to rain, would also save an 
item. Fifthly, these boxes in England, where deal-boards 
are sold by the pound, would always be worth more than 
cost, when emptied of their contents, either to work up 
or to be used as they are for household use; for, by add- 
ing a pair of butts, there is a good chest or cupboard ; or 
they would always sell to dry goods or shoe-dealers for 
packing-boxes. Indeed, the lumber is so cheap in many 
of the grain-growing districts, that it would be found 
profitable to sell them after being emptied, in our cities. 
Sixthly, the absurd old fashion of selling 196 lbs. of flour 
in a package, would be done away with, and the boxes 
would always be of exact sizes, holding 50, 100, 200 lbs. 
&c., and sold by weight. And lastly, what are the objec- 
tions? Let them be fairly stated and they shall be fairly 
answered (a).^ But I am at the end of my sheet and yet 
not half to the end of my story, but it must be deferred. 

Solon Robinson. 
Crown Point, Indiana, July, 1847. 

'In a footnote, (a), the editor disagreed with Robinson's argu- 
ment on the following grounds: "1. Economy of timber is not yet 
an object in this country. 2. They cannot be made so cheap as 
barrels, as these last are extensively made by hand at 25 cents 
each; and the introduction of the recently-invented barrel and 
stave-machines will probably materially further lessen the expense. 
3. Stowage is no object, as cars, boats, and vessels already stow all 
the weight they can carrj'^ 4. Leakage with good barrels amounts 
to nothing, and with poor boxes, would be fully equal to poor 
barrels. The thin timber used for the former is more quickly and 
certainly seasoned than the latter. 5. Second-hand barrels are 
worth as much in proportion to their cost, as second-hand boxes 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1847 101 

Free Homesteads. 

[Indianapolis Indiana State Sentinel (triweekly), December 14, 

1847'] 

[December 14?, 1847] 

To the Editors of the Sentinel : 

The inquiry has often been made — "Will not the Legis- 
lature, at the present session, enact a law exempting the 
homestead of every family of two or more persons, from 
execution and sale for any debt or obligation thereafter 
contracted?" 

This question is certainly one of vast importance to the 
people of this State, and it is hoped that the Legislature 
will take it under consideration at an early day of the 
session. 

Several of the older States have laws on this subject, 
and the great wonder is, that all of the States have not 
had laws in existence on this subject long ago. But it 
seems that we "hasten slowly" in any great improvement 
in legislative policy. It requires centuries to make a 
single important improvement — a single advance; and 
when it is made, men think strange why it were not 
attained at once. 

In ages gone by, it was thought by some nations, that 
the misfortunes of a debtor should subject him to severe 
punishment, to imprisonment, to slavery, to even death 
itself. Not only this, but the laws of some governments, 
in the days of their barbarity and savage inhumanity, 
even went so far as to subject the wife and children of 
the debtor to perpetual servitude and slavery. But such 

after arriving at their destination. 6. If it is absurd to sell 196 
lbs. of flour in a package, it may be altered to packages of 50, 100, 
or 200 lbs. barrel-shaped, equally as if squared. 7. Boxes of the 
same capacity and weight as barrels are vastly weaker. 8. Thie 
breakage and waste in consequence, and the extra expense of the 
interminable I'oUing necessai-y from the mill to the bakery, would 
much increase expense of transpoi'tation. We can roll two barrels 
with more facility than one square box." 



^ Reprinted in Valparaiso Western Ranger, December 22, 1847. 



102 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

laws could only obtain among a people in the lowest state 
of barbarism and heathen darkness. 

Yet such was the law of Rome in the time of the decem- 
virs ; but such laws had to pass away before the march of 
enlightened reason. Still, age after age, and century 
after century passed away, and the unfortunate debtor 
continued to be punished by imprisonment, as though that 
would satisfy the debt, or benefit the creditor. The debtor 
was subjected to this species of slavery, and his family 
to destitution and misery, without any practical good re- 
sulting; but, instead of good, inconceivable evil. Well, 
this blind policy has almost entirely passed away, and a 
wiser one been adopted. The inhuman Shylock may weep 
over this as well as the ten thousand other relics of servi- 
tude and oppression which are no more. 

Under such a system of legislation as we have spoken 
of, the aggrandizement and qualification of the malice of 
the Few were consulted more than the good, the comfort 
and the happiness of the Many. Then the people knew 
not their rights, — or if they knew them, they had not the 
power or the ability to maintain or enforce them. 

But the efforts of the patriot and philanthropist of all 
ages, have not been made in vain : no ; and the people are 
aware of this — they are aware that they now possess 
greater rights and greater comforts than those who lived 
in other times; they know that they can now demand, 
(and with some hope of success,) that which they may 
deem conducive to their greater happiness and comfort. 
The most humble, as well as the most powerful, can now, 
in this country, have a voice in shaping the legislation 
which is to govern him. Hence, legislation is beginning 
to be shaped more with regard to the general and abso- 
lute wants of the people. 

But although it be true that much has been done, still 
much remains to be accomplished. 

We need not now advert to that system of legislation 
in Europe and elsewhere, which has produced so much 
destitution, want and pauperism, with inevitable attend- 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1847 103 

ants, appalling vice, crime, and misery, which renders 
the suffering of the masses in that country so hideous; 
no, it is full well known — the starving millions there rise 
in attestation of the execrable system. 

Then let us look around, and while it is to-day, raise 
our hands to stay such evils from overtaking our own 
heaven-favored land. Already, in some of the older 
States, we see destitution and want prevailing to an 
alarming extent, the evils of which, we need not now de- 
tail, since every journal is filled with an account of them. 
The anxious inquiry now seems to be, "how shall those 
evils be arrested, how shall they be avoided." They can- 
not be arrested by subjecting the destitute to greater 
want, and greater destitution; by circumscribing their 
means, or by enforcing laws more rigid, and more de- 
grading. No; the general conclusion now seems to be, 
that the most effectual way to prevent such evils, is to 
allow every family, under whatever circumstances, the 
privilege of acquiring and holding, exempt from execu- 
tion and sale, a sufficient amount of property to meet the 
absolute wants, and afford the absolute comforts of life. 
This can be done by exempting from execution and sale 
the Homestead to a limited amount, and a necessary 
amount of personal property. And surely this could do 
nobody any wrong ; for when one individual entered into 
an engagement with another, he would do so knowing 
what to rely upon. Such a law could have no retrospective 
bearing whatever — it could operate only on the future 
engagements of the parties. Who can doubt the beneficial 
effects of a law making such an exemption? Who then 
will withhold his hand from this act of beneficence? Let 
this measure assume to party grounds — let the Legisla- 
ture act as did the Legislature of the great State of New 
York on this subject, with an eye single to the public 
good. 

In the opinion of the humble writer, a law making such 
an exemption as we have spoken of, would do more to 
prevent destitution and want, with their sure attendants, 



104 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

vice and crime, than any other legislation that could be 
adopted. 

That certainly is a blind system of benevolence which 
robs with one hand and bestows in an ostensible manner 
charity with the other. 

While man can he vnll. But darken every window of 
hope — interpose an insurmountable barrier between man 
and the acquirement of the absolute comforts of life — 
cut him off from all resources but ivages — slavery ; reduce 
him to this sad alternative, and at once a feeling of de- 
spair is aroused which awakens a demon, and precipitates 
him in the downward track to ruin. A man thus reduced, 
with a family to maintain, (to say nothing about educa- 
tion,) goes forth bereft, disheartened and discouraged; 
his desire to pay, to maintain and educate his family, is 
crushed beneath the weight of his inability to do so. 

But with a Homestead, (small though it might be) for 
himself and family, with a position in society, his inde- 
pendent and manly feelings would not be destroyed, the 
soul of hope would not be darkened ; hence, he would go 
forth to labor cheerfully, with more energy, and with a 
far better prospect of success in retrieving his embarrass- 
ments; at least, to do what the laws of God and human 
society require him to do; to support, and give his off- 
spring a moral and virtuous training. Let the Legislature 
then be actuated by experience and enlightened reason, 
and pass the law proposed, and it will have at once done 
much in the cause of humanity. 

The writer imagines that he can, without any pro- 
phetic aid, penetrate the veil of a few coming years, and 
see the lowly and frugal cottager's little children, yet un- 
born, smiling their cheerful smiles, and lisping with 
praise the names of those who afforded them, by the 
timely law, their little humble, though happy home, and 
needful boon, the very means which would afford them 
food and clothes, the absolute wants of life. But here, 
perhaps, the proud unfeeling nabob will smile the con- 
temptuous smile; but let him remember that none are so 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1847 105 

high, but they may be brought low; let him remember 
that there is One higher than he, who feeds the young 
ravens when they cry; and let him remember also, that 
there are thousands and millions of the human race, who, 
by a wrong system of legislation — aye, by the very sys- 
tem that made him nabob, are deprived of even the abso- 
lute necessaries of existence. 

Only think of that system of legislation which subjects 
one portion of the community to the misery of destitution, 
merely to pamper and aggrandize another. It is so, and 
yet grave legislators close their eyes upon it ! 

Well, the time has come when such evils may be ar- 
rested. Then let it be done before these evils become so 
deeply rooted that they can be torn up or destroyed only 
by a disastrous convulsion. Let it be done now. If the 
Legislature will not act, and that quickly, let the fiat of 
the people come up in thunder tones until they do act. 
Several of the old States have set us a noble example on 
this subject. 

We have recently seen the great State of New York 
enact a law exempting the Homestead of every family of 
two or more persons from execution or sale for any debt 
or obligation contracted after the passage of the law, 
where the homestead does not exceed $1,000 in value. 
Besides this, the laws of New York make an exemption 
of a necessary amount of personal property. 

The law of Georgia on this subject, enacted in 1841, is 
still more liberal. It exempts from execution founded on 
contracts, in favor of families, real estate not to exceed 
in value $1,200, and also a considerable amount of per- 
sonal property. 

The law of Connecticut, enacted at the last session of 
the Legislature of that State, exempts the Homestead 
when it does not exceed in value $300 and the necessary 
articles of personal property to meet the real wants of 
families. 

The statute of Alabama, enacted in 1832, is also very 
liberal on this subject. It exempts from "all legal" proc- 



lOG INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

ess an amount of personal property, reaching about 
$1,000 in value, and besides this, all books. 

The exemption in favor of all books is certainly a vi^ise 
policy. 

I believe the constitution of Wisconsin exempts in like 
manner, 40 acres of land vv^ithout regard to value. 

The statute of Michigan, enacted in 1839, exempts from 
execution books exceeding in value all the amount of 
property exempted by the laws of this State. 

Several other of the States, I believe, have similar lavi^s 
on this subject; but further comment seems useless; how- 
ever, it may be added that even in England the debtor, if 
he be a trader, is allowed from £300 to £600 for his future 
maintenance, to put him in a way of honest industry. 

The writer might add much more, but this communica- 
tion has already swelled beyond his original design — his 
object being merely to call the attention of the legislature 
to this subject, where it is hoped, it will find more able 
advocates than himself. 

It remains to be seen what policy the legislature will 
adopt on this subject. If it does not move on this subject, 
sooner or later, the people certainly will. 

In the estimation of the writer, this measure is of more 
pressing importance than any that the Legislature could 
act upon. 

Why not enact such a law as is proposed? It would do 
more to feed the hungry and clothe the naked and the 
poor, to prevent destitution and pauperism, vice and 
crime, than all the alms, than all the charities ever be- 
stowed, simply by allowing the unfortunate to have and 
hold the means necessary to feed and clothe themselves. 
Surely the time has come for action. SOLON. 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1848 107 

Fences a Direct Tax to the Farmer. 

[New York America^i Agriculturist, 7:87; Mar., 1848] 

[January 15, 1848] 

In reading Mr. Bacon's^ article on this subject in the 
August (1847) number of the Agriculturist, there was 
one sentence, in particular, which I thought ought to be 
printed in large type and stuck up at every rod of fence 
in the country. It is this : "There must, indeed, be a hor- 
rid lethargy pervading the mind of the body agricultural 
while they go calmly, and indifferently, and drudgingly 
on, and voluntarily submit to an evil for whose existence 
there is no pretext or excuse." 

Farmers! turn back to page 252 and read this article 
of Mr. Bacon's again. Think of that township of land, 
only four miles square, that requires one hundred miles 
of road-side fence ! Recollect that this is not an extraor- 
dinary case. The whole of the great tract of country in 
the north part of Ohio, known as the Western Reserve, is 
laid off in squares almost as exact, though a little larger 
than the squares of right-angled Philadelphia. And in 
Michigan, and perhaps some others of the western states, 
every section line is a public highway by law. This gives 
seventy-two miles of road, and one hundred and forty- 
four miles of road-side fence, for every congressional 
township of land, six miles square ; besides the occasional 
"cross roads," and those which do not follow section lines. 
To fence the roads of such a township with an ordinary 
rail fence will require four hundred and sixty thousand, 
eight hundred rails ; all of which must be renewed every 
few years. Count these rails at only one cent each, and 
the cost is $4,608, which at six per cent, interest, is 
$276.48 ; while the annual decay and cost of repairs, is at 
least, as much more, making an annual tax of over $500 

^ William Bacon, of Richmond, Massachusetts. Correspondent 
of the American Agriculturist, 1846-1848, and the Cultivator, 1845- 
1852. Wrote interesting articles on trees and "Potato Rot." His 
article, "Fences a Direct Tax to the Farmer," appeared in the 
American Agriculturist, 6:252-53. 



108 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

for road-side fences in each township. And all for what? 
I beg of every reader to repeat the question. And this 
view of the case is not exaggerated. In many other 
states, the cost of fencing materials is more than four 
times as much, and roads equally plenty, to say nothing 
of division fences through the farms and between neigh- 
bors, the great cause of half of the neighborhood quarrels 
and vexatious law suits, besides the enormous amount of 
cursing bad fences and breachy cattle. 

And yet men "voluntarily submit to an evil," the cost 
of which is beyond calculation. If every man were di- 
rectly taxed for the cost of the Mexican war, we should 
have an outcry louder than the din of battle ; and yet that 
tax would not amount to a tithe of the enormous annual 
fence tax of the United States. 

"Farmers, think of it !" Reason upon the subject. Do 
not scoff at it as the vagaries of "the crazy advocates of 
the non-fencing system." If I rightly understand the 
creed of all those who advocate this system, it is this: 
That every man take care of his oivn animals — and not 
compel his neighbor who keeps none, to build miles of 
costly fence to guard his crops from the depredations of 
his neighbors' cattle and hogs, which he turns out to roam 
at large without a keeper, or care where they forage their 
feed. 

I cannot better conclude this article, than by quoting 
the closing paragraph of Mr. Bacon's, and at the same 
time assure him that "I go the whole hog," as we say out 
here, against the worse than foolish fencing system. "Oh! 
when will the agricultural public be sufficiently awake to 
their interest, comfort, and those of the travelling public, 
to remove these appendages from their premises, [the 
road side], and rid themselves of a grievous burden?" 
Echo answers, "Oh ! when." SOLON ROBINSON. 

Lake Court House, Crown Point, la., 
January 15th, 1848. 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1848 109 

Choice of Trees and Shrubs for Cities and Rural 
Towns. 

[New York Avicrican Agriculturist, 7:114; Apr., 1848] 

[February 15, 1848] 

I was highly interested with the articles upon this sub- 
ject, which appeared in your last volume ;^ and the beau- 
tiful illustrations accompanying them, conveyed more in- 
formation to my mind than ten times the same amount of 
letter print. The present style of illustrating descrip- 
tions by pictures, is one of the great and good improve- 
ments of this improving age. But I beg this writer to 
bear in mind that in many of the rural towns of America, 
I might say nearly all of them, the building lots are laid 
out upon such a pinch-gut principle, there is so little room 
to spare, that fruit trees should always be looked to first. 
In fact, we often see some useless shade tree occupying a 
space that might have been occupied by an apple tree that 
would have furnished not only the luxury of good fruit, 
but the same amount of shade ; and according to my no- 
tions of utility, more ornamental than that "great, strong, 
ugly thing, the Lombardy poplar," which affords neither 
food nor good fuel, and dead or alive, has no utility, (a) 
I cannot therefore, join in the recommendation of this 
tree, while our native forests afford so many others of 
equal beauty of form, and far more cleanly in their hab- 
its. If a tall spire-like tree is required to break the mo- 
notony of the line, there is the larch, the fir, or even the 
white birch, all better trees than that filthy worm breeder, 
the Lombardy poplar, (b)^ 

'See American Agriculturist, 6:215, 247, 272, 303, 335. 

^ The editor's comments follow: "(a) Our correspondent probably 
is not aware of the fact that this tree, in some parts of the country, 
is headed down to the lowermost limbs; and that a crop of excellent 
oven wood is obtained from the young shoots, which are cut and 
made into faggots in the spring of every second or third year. The 
timber of the trunk, too, when sufficiently large and sound, has 
been wrought into articles of household furniture of most exquisite 



no INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

One of the most unaccountable tastes in the world to 
me, is that of the man (and I have seen a thousand such) , 
who can content himself to settle down in the middle of a 
western prairie, without a single tree or shrub, either 
fruiting or ornamental, around his dwelling, and some- 
times hardly in sight. Such men may be honest, but they 
certainly lack refinement, and lose one of the enjoyments 
of life. 

In reading the writer's description of the occidental 
plane (button wood or sycamore), reminded me of a re- 
markable instance of the rapid growth of that tree. Mr. 
Nathan Lord, who lived to near the age of ninety, on the 
banks of the Shetucket River, in the town of Franklin, 
Ct., when he was first married, carried four young trees 
of button wood, six miles, on horseback, and set them out 
near his house. While the planter of these trees was still 
a hale old man (I think 84 years old), one of them was 
uprooted in a gale, and he assisted to saw off five twelve- 
foot mill logs, clear of limbs, the butt of the largest of 
which was more than four feet in diameter, while the top 
cut was but a trifle smaller, though I cannot remember 
the exact size, or amount of lumber sawed from the tree. 

Few, now, who see the banks of this river lined with 
this kind of tree for miles, are aware that all those ven- 
erable looking old button woods sprung from the four 
little sprouts transplanted by good old Deacon Lord, less 
than one hundred years ago. SOLON ROBINSON. 

Lake Court House, Croivyi Poiyit, la., 
Fehmmry, 15th, 1848. 

beauty, surpassed by few, if any, of those made from our native 
woods. 

"(b) It might be questioned whether the lai'ch, the white birch, 
or the fir, would serve for contrasting with masses of round- 
headed trees, of great height; as these trees, when they arrive at 
their full growth, in a great measure, lose the spiral shape of their 
tops, and consequently cannot mend the defect in the landscape, 
which the full-grown Lombardy poplar invariably supplies, what- 
ever may be its age or size." 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1848 111 

Cheese Making. 

[New York American Agricultm-ist, 7:211; July, 1848] 

[March, 1848] 

I HAVE lieard a great deal about tlie value of prairie 
grass for butter and cheese. And yet I heard a Hamburgh 
friend of mine say, a few days ago, that he had engaged 
to send all his cheese this season to Chicago, at a pretty 
round price. Why is this? If the grass is really good 
for anything, in that region, why is it that cheese is not 
made there by the million? Surely it is not an art very 
hard to learn. If the pages of the American Agricultur- 
ist alone were carefully examined, I think that directions 
enough might be found to enable any person to make a 
good cheese. In fact the valuable information given in 
this publication, at p. 233, vol. vi. might alone be suffi- 
cient, and worth ten times the cost of the whole set of 
this paper. 

How cheap knowledge is offered to the million now-a- 
days. And in no department of rural economy is the need 
of increased knowledge more apparent than in cheese 
making. Solon Robinson. 

Crown Point, Lake C. H., la., 
March, 1848. 

Experiments among Farmers. 

[New York American Agriculturist, 7:282; Sep., 1848*] 

[July, 1848] 

All those who lend their assistance in filling the col- 
umns of your journal are directing their best energies to 
promote the great experiment now being tried among 
farmers, whether an increased taste for reading agricul- 
tural works (that is, what ignorance denounces as "book 
farming"), will produce an improved condition in the cul- 
tivation of the soil, and as a natural sequence, an im- 
proved condition of the minds of the cultivators that will 

* Reprinted in the Raleigh North Carolina Farmer, 4:89 (Sep- 
tember, 1848). 



112 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

promote and increase the refinement, necessary to pro- 
mote the happiness of the human family. 

For my own part, I am so far satisfied with the result, 
that I fully believe we are doing good. We are trying a 
great "experiment in feeding." Feeding the intellect of 
a much-neglected mass; and we ought to be careful that 
we do not surfeit it with indigestible food. On this ac- 
count, I was much taken with Mr. McKinstry's^ article in 
the August, 1847, number of the Agriculturist, upon the 
necessity of experimenters being very careful in making 
experiments, and still more careful when they publish an 
account of them. 

Nothing but the clearest and most comprehensible re- 
sult and plain benefit to the man himself, will ever induce 
one who has all his life long carried a stone in one end of 
the bag, to balance the bushel of corn in the other, to 
adopt the improved system of discarding the stone, and 
dividing the corn into equal parts. SOLON. 

Crown Point, la., July, 1848. 

Ventilation Essential to Health. 

[New York American Agriculturist, 7:335; Nov., 1848'] 

[September, 1848] 

The bad state of the atmosphere of stove-heated rooms 
cannot be cured by any amount of steaming water. Venti- 
lation is what is wanted, and what is always found want- 
ing, and what renders the atmosphere of our churches 
and other public rooms so often so unfit for human res- 
piration. 

Rooms should not be "frequently ventilated," h\xi always 
so. Every tight room should have a ventilator constructed 
in the ceiling, to answer the purpose of the good old- 

'J. McKinstry, Greenport, Columbia County, New York. Corre- 
spondent of the American Agriculturist, 1847-1850, and the Culti- 
vator, 1849. Wrote an interesting series of articles on agricultural 
chemistry in the American Agriculturist, 1848-1849. Robinson re- 
fers to "Experiments among Farmers," in ibid., 6:250-51. 

'Reprinted in part in Michigan Farmer, Detroit, 6:356 (Decem- 
ber 1, 1848). 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1848 113 

fashioned fire place, of keeping up a constant circulation 
of air. 

Some one in your pages, I think, has said that "stoves 
were great savers of fuel, at the expense of human lives" 
— all of which is for the want of ventilation. It is a most 
serious fault in the construction of nine tenths of all the 
school houses that are heated by stoves, that there is no 
ventilation. I have no doubt but thousands of children 
in the United States are annually sent to a premature 
grave by diseases contracted, aye, created, in school 
rooms. If our wise men, who sometimes make very fool- 
ish laws, would enact that every school room should be so 
constructed as to remedy this evil, they would for once 
show the world they possessed some feelings of humanity 
at least. Daniel B. Thompson,' of Montpelier, Vt., author 
of "Locke Amsden," is worthy to be remembered by every 
child in America, for the beautiful manner in which he 
has illustrated the subject of ventilating school houses. 

Solon Robinson. 

Crown Point, la., Sept., 1848. 

Robinson to Western Ranger 

[Valparaiso Western Ranger, November 17, 1848] 

Winimac, Oct. 28, 1848. 

Messrs. Editors: I notice in a late number of your 
paper, an article calculated to mislead the purchasers of 
Canal Lands, unless corrected. This article appears as 

' Daniel Pierce Thompson, born at Charlestown, Massachusetts, 
on October 1, 1795; died June 6, 1868. Moved to Vermont, 1800. 
Tutor in Virginia family, 1820. Clerk of Vermont legislature, 
1830. Author of Gaut Gurley, Adventures of Timothy Peacock, 
and Mary Martin, 1835; The Green Mountain Boys, 1839; Locke 
Amsde7i, or The Schoolmaster, 1847; Lucy Hosmer, 1848; History 
of the Town of Montpelier, 1860. Judge of the probate court, 
Washington County, Vermont, 1837. Secretary of Vermont His- 
torical Society, 1838; of State Education Society, 1846; of State of 
Vermont, 1853-1855. Flitcroft, John E., The Novelist of Ver7nont: 
A Biographical and Critical Study of Daniel Pierce Thompson, 303, 
321-24 (Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1929). 



114 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

editorial in your paper, though being published "by re- 
quest." The "statement" or supposed narrative of facts 
leads me to suppose that it might have been furnished for 
publication by those who may have an object in mislead- 
ing the public. I acquit you, in advance, of any such de- 
sign, for our pleasant and agreeable acquaintance (tome) 
precludes all idea that you would misstate or misjudge 
any matter of public concern. 

The article to which I allude presupposes that the Trus- 
tees are acting and design to act, in bad faith towards the 
purchasers of these lands, and that the reappraisement 
is to be set aside, and the lands be held at the original 
price, tvithout reduction. This is not the fact. The trus- 
tees mean to carry out every requirement of the State 
Debt act in good faith, but they must be allowed time to 
do so, and to do it too in a manner both legal in reference 
to the law, and justly towards the creditors of the State 
and individual purchasers. — That act never contemplated 
a wholesale reduction, by which gross injustice might be 
done to individuals, but an appraisement of each parcel 
separately, which has not been done, so far as the Trus- 
tees are at present advised. 

There seems to be but one question involved in this 
matter, and that is a question of ti7ne, which no settler on 
the State lands should permit himself to misjudge. The 
operations of the Trust are numerous, and it would be 
strange, indeed, if some delay was not unavoidable in 
managing property which the State has passed off to her 
creditors for one-half her entire debt, or upwards of 
seven millions of dollars. "The world was not made in a 
day" is an old saying, nor can the confusion and misman- 
agement of the Canal and Canal lands be brought out of 
chaos in a single year. — Much has already been accom- 
plished, and the next few months will be sufficient to sat- 
isfy every piirchasor of these lands that the Trustees 
will do them ample justice. 

I would say to the holders of Canal certificates that 
speculators should not induce them (by raising the hue 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1848 115 

and cry of threatened ruin) to part with their property. 
— It is an old game, and has been successfully played off 
before to-day. Let no man be deceived by this mad dog 
shout ; but let all bona fide purchasers — all cultivators of 
the land — all who intend to cultivate them — be assured 
that the law will be faithfully carried out in all its legal 
and rightful bearings. 

I am apprised that there are a few persons who have 
assumed to speak for the purchasers of those lands, (and 
you are not of the number) and who have taken upon 
their shoulders the made-up weight of this affair; but 
they are not the real friends of those they profess to 
serve. Many of them, I fear, are land specidators, or the 
convenient instruments of others engaged in that line of 
business, who will "take the Lion's share," and leave the 
balance for the hard working cultivators of the soil. 
These men are understood in some places, and will be uni- 
versally known before many months. — A hint here is suf- 
ficient. 

You are mistaken in saying that the Indiana Journal 
only contained the advertisement. It has also appeared 
in the Indiana Sentinel, and in the papers at Wabash- 
town, and perhaps at Logansport — The advertisement 
should have appeared in the paper most convenient to the 
lands, and this neglect will doubtless be remedied in 
future. 

This is all that I feel called upon to say, and it is said 
upon the individual responsibility of 

A Citizen of Indiana. 

Agricultural Tour South and West. 
No. 1. 

[New York American Agriculturist, 8:18-20; Jan., 1849] 

[November 14, 1848] 

To the Readers of the American Agriculturist: — I am 
again out upon a tour of observation, directing my steps 
towards a clime more congenial to my health, than is that 



116 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

of my northern residence. And I propose to note down 
such things by the way, as will be most likely to be inter- 
esting and useful to you.^ 

Being charged by friend Allen to "write short, practi- 
cal articles," I shall be precluded from giving as much of 
the descriptive character of the land I shall travel over, 
as I would like to, and as I believe would be pleasing to 
you. I shall, therefore, make an abrupt commencement 
with a little account of my visit at Terre Haute — an old 
French name that means high land. It is situated on a 
most beautiful prairie, some five miles wide and fifteen 
long, that lies high above all floods, along the bank of the 
Wabash, which is only navigable in high water; and the 
place being 120 miles from the Ohio, it suffers the evil of 
being an inland town. The canal to Lake Erie will, how- 
ever, open in the spring, and in a few years more, to the 
Ohio. The rapids of the Wabash are also being improved, 
and a railroad to Indianapolis, and thence to Bellfon- 
taine, in Ohio, is now in progress.^ 

It is to be hoped when these channels are opened so as 
to carry off the surplus produce, that the great staple 
here, Indian corn, will be worth more than twelve to fif- 
teen cents per bushel, the present price; and that the 
farmers will not wear quite so much the appearance of 
"hog and hominy," as many of them now do. Yet there 
are some here who take a pride in cultivating and beau- 
tifying the earth. Among these I must mention three of 

' Robinson made the trip as agent for the American Agricultur- 
ist, with the additional purpose of obtaining orders for the agricul- 
tural warehouse of A. B. Allen & Co., of New York, and Stephen 
Franklin, of New Orleans. 

' The Terre Haute and Richmond Railroad, later the Terre Haute 
and Indianapolis, and now a part of the Pennsylvania system, and 
the Indianapolis and Bellefontaine Railroad, now a part of the Big 
Four system, were chartered in 1847 and 1848 respectively. Esarey, 
History of Indiana, 2:720-24. See also Murphy, Ared Maurice, 
"The Big Four Railroad in Indiana," in Indiana Magazine of His- 
tory, 21:111 ff. 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1848 117 

nature's noblemen, James Farrin^on,^ S. B. Gookins,^ 
and Wm. F. Krumbhaar. 

Mr. F. has a most beautiful place just on the south edge 
of the town, and one of the best houses I am acquainted 
with. Best, because so well built, and so exceedingly 
neat, and plainly finished. I need only say that there is 
a wife and daughter within, who are "all right," to sat- 
isfy my readers that it is the dwelling place of such com- 
fort and happiness as I wish every cultivator of the 
American soil could enjoy. 

Mr. F. and his partners have one of the most conven- 
ient pork-slaughtering and packing establishments I have 
ever visited. If I could take up the room necessary to 
describe it, I doubt not it would be interesting. The head, 
feet, bones, and entrails are all strained to save every 
ounce of fat. The offal of the strainer and blood, although 
such good manure, is never saved. The hair, during the 
first year or two has been sold to go east, for about seven 
cents a hog. One curious circumstance occurred last 
spring in connection with this. The hair had been spread 
out to bleach on a piece of common grass. After its re- 
moval, in the spring, the grass started very fresh, and 
cows fed upon it, and took up so much of the scattered 

^ James Farrington, born at Boston, Massachusetts, 1798. Moved 
to Vincennes in 1819, and in 1822, to Terre Haute. Lawyer and 
orator of note. In Indiana Assembly for five sessions. Connected 
with Terre Haute Branch of State Bank of Indiana. Appointed 
assessor of Seventh United States Internal Revenue District by 
President Lincoln, 1862. Beckwith, H. W., History of Vigo and 
Parke Counties . . . , pt. 2:96-97 (Chicago, 1880). 

' Samuel Barnes Gookins, born at Rupert, Vermont, May 30, 
1809; died at Terre Haute, June 14, 1880. Removed from Vermont 
to New York, 1812; to the West, 1823. Settled near Terre Haute. 
With John B. Dillon, purchased Vincennes Gazette, 1830, Edited 
Western Register, Terre Haute, 1831-1832. Admitted to bar, 1834. 
President judge, Seventh Judicial Circuit, 1850-1851; judge, Su- 
preme Court of Indiana, 1854-1857. Practiced law in Chicago, 
1858-1875, Contributed political articles to the press and to maga- 
zines. At the time of his death had just finished a history of Vigo 
County, which is incorporated in Beckwith's history. Ibid., pt. 
2:75-78, 160-64. 



118 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

hair, that several were killed by the hair balls formed in 
the stomach. Some were found to have two or three 
dozen balls in a stomach, and some were very large. It 
became necessary for the neighbors to have the ground 
plowed to save the lives of cattle running upon the com- 
mon. It would have had a more happy result, if it had 
been the cause of forever preventing cattle from being 
free commoners of this beautiful town. 

Mr. F.'s establishment is capable of killing and packing 
about 500 head of hogs a day ; and there are four others 
in this place, besides two steam trying lard houses. Pork 
is now worth here about two and a half cents per lb. The 
great mass of hogs appear to belong to that breed which 
must "root, hog, or die," and are well able to do it. Even 
those that are fed corn, have it well mixed with mud — ^the 
fatting season, being the rainy season. 

The best lot of hogs I saw about Terre Haute, I found 
on the farm of Mr. Krumbhaar. They were a mixture of 
Berkshire, Byfield, and Grazier varieties. And as mark- 
ing a degree of civilization, he did not throw the corn in 
the mud. On my visit to Mr. F., I was accompanied by 
Judge Law,^ of Vincennes, one of the pioneers of this 
valley. Had I room to give his reminiscences, as related 
during the two days spent with him, it would make an 
interesting paper. 

We found on Mr. K.'s centre table, in the parlor, one of 
the most fitting displays of such a table, in a country gen- 
tleman's house. This was twenty eight varieties of ap- 
ples. Mr. K. feels, as well he may, quite proud of his suc- 
cess in growing fine apples. In fact, though, this whole 
region is full of apples. Mr. Farrington has nearly as 
great a variety, besides a good assortment of pears and 
peaches, and other fruits. 

At Mr. K.'s I ate chestnuts grown from the seed in 

'John Law, born in New London, Connecticut, 1796; came to 
Vincennes in 1817. Lawyer, judge, author. Congressman. Pub- 
lished the Colonial History of Vincennes in 1858, See Dictionary 
of American Biography, 11:40-41. 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1848 119 

about ten years. Chestnuts must never be allowed to get 
dry, to insure their growth. 

Mr. K. and Mr. F. have a fine start of evergreens. They 
were taken up in the spring with but little dirt to the 
roots, and boated down the river sixty or seventy miles ; 
and by such careless handling, more than half died. The 
soil around here is a sandy loam. The timber mostly oak, 
except in the river bottom. Mr. K. has some very good 
Durham cows, and although his wife was from a Louisi- 
ana plantation, she has become an excellent butter maker. ^ 

Mr. Gookins, although a lawyer, has a fine taste for cul- 
tivation. He is just beginning a place a mile south of 
town, where I found some of the handsomest three-year- 
old apple trees, that I ever saw. Although the ground is 
a very soft loam, he told me that he had large holes dug, 
and then fine, rotten manure mixed with the soil, and the 
hole half filled ; and then with his own hands he carefully 
straightened all the roots of the young trees, and pressed 
the dirt around them, so that they seemed to feel no check 
in growth in their removal from the nursery. His pros- 
pect for a crop of apples next year, is now good. So much 
for care in setting out trees. 

Mr. G. has tried planting corn and potatoes in alter- 
nate rows, and thinks it an excellent plan. 

One of the most favorite apples hereabouts, is the belle 
fleur. They grow large, and of excellent flavor. They 
are unlike those of the east in one particular, as I never 
saw one here with loose, or rattling seeds. The gloria 
mundi has been grown here of twenty-six ounces weight. 
Apples throughout all the west, are most abundant this 
year. Hundreds, aye, thousands of bushels will lie and 
rot unheeded, here in the Wabash Valley. Many hundreds 
of wagon loads are hauled near two hundred miles to Chi- 
cago. If nice, they will sell well, but common ones are no 
longer worth hauling. 

' The family of Jane McCutcheon and her marriage to William 
Frege Krumbhaar are mentioned in Arthur, Stanley C., and Ker- 
nion, George Campbell Huchet de, Old Families of Louisiana, 354 
(New Orleans, 1931). 



120 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

Mr. Gookins told me of an orchard which was set eight 
years ago, in the ordinary, careless way, that is not now 
near so good bearing as his. 

In 1818, Terre Haute was laid out a few miles from the 
"frontier post," Fort Harrison,^ All of northern Indiana, 
Illinois, and Iowa and Wisconsan, was then a vast, un- 
trodden wilderness. Look at it now. See what a change 
in thirty years. A region larger, and far richer than 
some European empires, full of civilized life; and al- 
though not one tenth cultivated, talking about furnishing 
the world with human food. 

Nothing is now so much wanted as facilities of trans- 
portation. No eastern reader, not even around Buffalo, 
can form an idea what wretched bad roads the dwellers 
upon this rich soil have to travel over, such a time as 
this fall, for instance, has been. It is worth more than 
produce brings, to haul it fifty miles to market. And 
every effort to make good roads out of the soil alone, has 
proved an entire failure. The national road is an example 
in point. For, after an expenditure of more than $30,000 
a mile, the road is now what a decent Yankee grand jury 
would indict as impassable.^ 

There is a new bridge over the Wabash, and a very 
muddy road west, though not near so bad as the one I 
came over from Indianapolis. The part of Illinois lying 

' Terre Haute was laid out in 1816. Markle, A. R., "The Terre 
Haute Company," in Indiana Magazine of History, 12:158-60. 

" In 1806 demand for better communication with the West caused 
Congress to pass an act providing for the construction of a toll- 
free National Road from the headwaters of the Potomac to the 
Ohio River. Later it was proposed to extend the road to St. Louis. 
The first section, from Cumberland to Wheeling, was not completed 
until 1818. Gradually the work was carried on to Indianapolis. 
Because of the rapid development of railroads, appropriations 
ceased in 1848 after an expenditure of nearly seven million dollars 
of federal funds. The road was only partially finished west of 
Indianapolis, and grading ceased near Vandalia, Illinois. See Esa- 
rey. History of Indiana, 1:290-91, for a description of the road in 
Indiana. The Plough, the Loom, and the Anvil stated in 1851 that 
"The Conestoga wagon-horses of Pennsylvania travel on the Na- 
tional Road from fourteen to sixteen miles a day." 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1848 121 

along the national road, between the Wabash and Kas- 
kaskia River, at Vandalia, is, perhaps, the poorest of any 
part of the state. At any rate, the people and cultivation 
bear no comparison v^ith the northern counties. Not but 
what there is sufficient fertility in the soil, although the 
prairie land is very flat, and apparently wet and cold ; but 
there is no show of "go-ahead-ative-ness." There is not a 
good-looking, well-cultivated farm in the whole hundred 
miles. And I saw nothing that looked like a good school 
house. But I did see a great many whiskey shops. I am 
sorry to write against any country, but this is a region 
that I would not settle in myself, if in search of a new 
home. Others may if they like it. 

Vandalia, once the capital of the state, now wears the 
gloomy weeds of the "deserted village." The Kaskaskia, 
which runs at the foot of the hill on which the town is 
crumbling to decay, is the only permanent mill stream I 
have seen since I left the Wabash. Out of this in flood 
time, go flat boats, 300 miles by water to the Mississippi, 
and this is the only way of getting off produce that will 
not bear hauling sixty odd miles to St. Louis. 

The country between Vandalia and St. Louis, is far 
better than that eastward. Yet here is a great want of 
improvement. In Bond and Madison counties, there are 
some good orchards, and a few good-looking farms. But 
the traveller is surprised to see within twenty or thirty 
miles of St. Louis, vast tracts of rich, rolling, healthy 
prairie, lying uncultivated, and even unbought of govern- 
ment. Even the far-famed American bottom, opposite 
St. Louis, is not one half of it in the very rough state of 
improvement that the other half is. 

There is a very great want of water mills in all this 
part of the state. Page's patent circular saw mills, are 
getting considerably into use, and are much approved. 
Most of the grain for family use is ground with horse 
mills. I saw two windmills, and was told that they did 
pretty well. 

In the interior counties of the state, very little wheat 



122 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

is grown ; as the inhabitants mostly use corn, and wheat 
will hardly pay transportation. If it were not for the 
fact that farmers who haul produce to market, live in the 
cheapest manner on the road, their loads would often be 
insufficient to pay expenses. What would a New-England 
farmer think of hauling produce 200 miles to market; 
and during the whole trip sleep in his wagon and eat his 
cheerless meals by his camp fire, along the roadside? Such 
is the condition of things in portions of the great west. 

Although this is not the case upon the fertile lands oppo- 
site St. Louis, yet there are times when to get a load of 
wheat only a dozen miles along what the inhabitants are 
pleased to call "the big road," would be such an undertak- 
ing as no load of wheat would be sufficient to pay me for. 
I don't know as the American bottom ever becomes abso- 
lutely impassable ; but if it does not, it is because that no 
state of roads can prevent western people from passing 
them. It is probably impossible for any eastern man to 
conceive anything half so bad. 

In my journey across the state of Illinois, I did not see 
a herd of good cattle, notwithstanding it is such an excel- 
lent grazing region. The cattle are all of the scrub breed, 
and small at that. On the Kaskaskia, the milk sickness^ 
prevails. It is a curious fact that beeves affected by this 
complaint, cannot be driven to market. I saw some upon 
the road that had given out. Cattle slightly affected often 
recover. Care should be taken to keep them from salt, as 
that aggravates and often kills. 

It is a common practice to run a beeve, before butcher- 
ing, to prove it free from this disease, as fatal effects fol- 
low from eating beef badly affected with this strange 
poison, as well as eating milk or butter from cows so 
affected. 

'Milk sickness (sometimes called "trembles") is a malignant 
fever which attacks man and some of the lower animals, such as 
unweaned calves and their mothers, horses and colts, sheep and 
goats. Cause is supposed to exist in poisonous herbs which are 
eaten by animals. Man is thought to be infected through cattle — 
meat, milk, cheese, or butter. 











.<" 



v' 


#if 




#* 




Types of Hogs 

[From One Hundred Years' Progress of the United States, 
pp. 61, 62 (Hartford, 1870)] 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1848 123 

I saw very few sheep along the road, and all of them 
of the common kind, yet looking remarkably well. There 
is one difficulty in growing wool, in the great quantity of 
burrs and "stick tights;" but yet these are not insuper- 
able, and it is wondrous that no wool of any account is 
grown in this part of the state for exportation. It is an 
article that will bear hauling. 

Corn and hogs, hogs and corn, are the almost universal 
rotation. And yet in the whole distance (160 miles), I 
saw but one good lot — that is, of good, improved breeds. 
I saw droves going to St. Louis, for pork, nearly 100 miles 
distance, which as a matter of course could only be in 
good working order, averaging, perhaps, 175 lbs., and 
some of them showing tushes three or four inches long. 
Bah! What pork! 

In that whole distance, I saw but one threshing ma- 
chine. How curiously this contrasts with a trip through 
the northern counties, where a traveller will often see 
twenty in a single day's ride. 

At St. Louis, I had intended to make some acquaintance 
with those who should feel an interest in agricultural im- 
provements ; but I soon found that I had fallen upon the 
wrong time. 

I found the news of the presidential election that had 
taken place the day before, in New York, and other east- 
ern states, a thousand miles away, here in every man's 
mouth, and so engrossing all attention, that it would be 
an idle waste of time to offer to talk upon any other sub- 
ject. Ah, me ! How can the minds of a people be brought 
to think upon the importance of judicious cultivation of 
the earth, who never think or read of any other subject 
than party politics? The manufacturer of plows, to them 
is a far less important person than the manufacturer of 
political opinion. 

Speaking of plows. I saw at St. Louis, one of those 
great, unwieldy, iron, Scotch plows, just imported for the 
use of some prairie farmer, at a cost probably sufficient 
to have kept him in a neat, light article, suited to his 



124 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

wants, a life time ; while this, after proving its total un- 
fitness for this soil, will go, as many others have done, to 
the smith's shop for old iron. ****** An unwelcome 
shake of ague, here shakes off the balance of this article. 

Solon Robinson. 

On the Mississippi River, Nov. lith, 1848. 

Agricultural Tour South and West. 
No. 2. 

[New York American Agriculturist, 8:51-53; Feb., 1849'] 

[November 22, 1848] 

I think the close of my last letter left us at St. Louis. 
The importance of the trade of this western town may be 
imagined from a view of the quay. For nearly a mile, 
the shore is crowded with large steamboats, lying so 
thickly that only bows reach the shore. At this season, 
most of the New-Orleans boats go down with decks 
crowded with fat cattle, cows, calves, sheep, hogs, fowls, 
and horses, and with holds full of flour and grain, while 
every space on the decks and guards, is piled up with bags 
of corn, oats, and wheat. 

The freight of cattle from St. Louis to New Orleans is 
$6 a head. Among the hundreds that I saw shipped for 
beef, I did not see one that would have sold for that pur- 
pose at one fourth the usual price, in the New- York mar- 
ket, except, perhaps, some young steers. The sheep were 
better; some of them really good mutton, though all of 
them of a small size. I do not think I saw any that would 
exceed twenty pounds to the quarter; generally not fif- 
teen pounds. 

From St. Louis to Vicksburg, my place of debarkation, 
there is but very little to interest the traveller. The 
weather was gloomy, and a great portion of the shores of 
the Mississippi River are still in a wilderness condition, 
or in a most primitive state of cultivation. Between St. 

'Reprinted in Southern Cultivator, Augusta, Georgia, 7:59ff. 
(April, 1849). 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1848 125 

Louis and the mouth of the Ohio River, there are miles of 
rocky shore, towering in beatling cliffs high in the air, 
and in places almost perpendicular from the shore. But 
below the mouth of that river, no rocks nor high lands 
are seen, except in four or five places down to the gulf. 
Memphis, Vicksburg, and Natchez are the most promi- 
nent of these points. It is in consequence of this liability 
to overflow, that we see but few villages on the banks 
of the river, and nearly all the residences are very primi- 
tive-looking log cabins, with farms to match. Most of the 
settlements were made for the purpose of cutting wood 
for steamboats; the price of which is from $1.50 to $2.25 
a cord; and is mostly cotton wood. The price of chop- 
ping, splitting, and cording, from fifty to seventy-five 
cents. Owing to the vast number of snags, few boats 
venture to run nights, except in bright moonlight. 

On the 15th of November, below Memphis, the green 
foliage began to tell that we were rapidly getting into a 
warmer latitude. One of my travelling acquaintances of 
this passage was an intelligent gentleman of the name of 
Weston, who had spent two years in the Rocky Mountains 
and New Mexico, for his health. He passed seven months 
with a "mountain man," who took a lot of tame goats, so 
trained as to follow the mules, into the mountains, for the 
purpose of catching lambs of the Rocky-Mountain sheep. 
He succeeded in catching quite a number, which he reared 
with his goats; carrying them while small, in hampers 
on mule's backs. His design was to bring them into the 
United States ; but Mr. Weston subsequently learned that 
all of them died before they came to maturity. 

These animals, though called sheep, are very unlike our 
domestic animals of that name. They have horns which 
give them the name of *'big horns," and they are covered 
with long hair instead of wool. Though Mr. W. tells me, 
that in winter, they have a thick coat of fur, something 
like the Cashmere goat, which he thinks would be valu- 
able. The meat is very delicious. Mr. W. speaks of the 
New-Mexican sheep as a very inferior kind. There is, also, 



126 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

a mongrel race, of hybrids, between sheep and goats (?), 
which are a worthless race. Nearly all the New-Mexican 
sheep have horns, and some of the rams, as many as five, 
sometimes three feet long. 

He thinks not more than one tenth of New Mexico is 
cultivatable, and none of it without irrigation. Some of 
the isolated valleys of the Rocky Mountains, he speaks of 
as delightful places for the dwelling of civilization. The 
most extensive, by far, is that of the Great Salt Lake, 
which is sufficient to form a small state within itself. It 
is in the north part of this valley, that the Mormons are 
now settling. From two of them on the boat, I learned 
many facts in relation to that settlement ; but I must not 
occupy space to repeat it. Though I doubt not the account 
of the trip of one of them, who went with General Kear- 
ney,^ to California, and returned through Oregon and the 
Salt Lake Valley, would be highly interesting to the read- 
ers of the Agriculturist. 

On the boat, I made the acquaintance of Dr. W. J. 
Polk,^ a relative of the president, who related to me an 
anecdote of a planter on the Arkansas, that is so practi- 
cal, that I will repeat it. It is his manner of punishing 
negroes, and he finds it more effectual than the whip. 

Every Sunday, he gives an excellent dinner in a large 
room provided for that purpose, where he requires every 
negro to attend, neatly washed, and dressed, and after 
listening to a sermon, or the reading of some good dis- 
course, all are seated at table, except those who are on 
the "punishment list;" and these are obliged to wait on 
the others, and see them feast, without tasting a mouth- 

' Colonel Stephen Watts Kearny was placed in command of the 
Army of the West in May, 1846, and made a brigadier general in 
June. His expedition into California took place during the winter 
of 1846-1847. See sketch in Dictionary of American Biography, 
10:272-74. 

*Dr. William Junius Polk, son of Colonel William Polk of Ten- 
nessee, who owned an estate of one hundred thousand acres in that 
state. American Biography, A New Cyclopedia, 8:315-16 (Ameri- 
can Historical Society, 1920). See also, post, 186-88. 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1848 127 

ful themselves. I would commend this course to others 
of my southern friends. 

I landed at Vicksburg, November 17th, and found as 
fine a lot of mud in the streets of that hill-side town, as 
one could wish for. I spent the night with my hospitable 
friend, Daniel Swett,^ and in the morning saw a show of 
Mississippi ice. Mr. Swett has been for several years 
engaged in the introduction of improved agricultural im- 
plements, into this part of the country, without hitherto 
meeting with much success. One difficulty, hitherto experi- 
enced with eastern plows, is found in the low beams, (a) ^ 

Nov. ISth. — I rode out to the plantation of Dr. M. W. 
Philips, whose name has long been known to the readers 
of the Agriculturist. He lives some 15 miles east of Vicks- 
burg. The intervening land, (Warren county), being the 
most uneven surface that I ever saw cultivated. It may 
be said that there are no hills ; but the whole face of the 
country is sunken into hollows, from one to one hundred 
feet deep, just as thick as they can lie side by side of one 
another. The soil is a light alluvion, without grit, and 
very deep. It is very liable to gully, and yet the perpen- 
dicular cut banks of the railroad, are standing with the 
ten-year-old spade marks still as plain as when first made. 
Many a hill side in this county is cultivated by the hoe, 
where it is so steep that a mule cannot pull a plow. It used 
to be celebrated as one of the best cotton-growing coun- 
ties in the state; but a continued cropping of the land, 

^ Possibly Daniel Swalt, an implement dealer of Vicksburg. 

''The editor described the measures taken to meet this difficulty: 
"(a) One of the editors of this paper, R. L. Allen, has travelled 
extensively through the south within the last two years; and hav- 
ing detected this radical deficiency noticed by our correspondent, 
immediately ordered high beams for several sizes of plows, includ- 
ing an entire series from the lightest cotton at $1.75, to the heavi- 
est sugar plow. These ax'e made both by A. B. Allen & Co., of New 
York, and by Ruggles, Nourse and Mason, of Worcester. We ven- 
ture to say, that, including the beautiful self-sharpening and sugar 
plows, lately got up by the latter firm, and the cheap, yet well-made 
and efficient cotton, corn, and sward plows, made by the former, 
there has never been a set of plows constructed, combining so much 
economy and advantage." 



128 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

without manure, or even returning the cotton seed as 
manure to the soil, has so worn out much of the land, 
that it hardly pays for cultivating. 

Doctor Philips (by birth a South Carolinian), though 
educated as a physician, does not practice. He is one of 
that small class in the south, sneeringly called "book 
farmers." He has about 300 acres of land under fence, 
of which 200 acres are cultivated. Much of this still 
bears the deadened forest trees, showing its late reclama- 
tion from the wilderness. He works ten field hands, and 
makes 80 to 90 bales of cotton a year, together with all 
his corn and meat. He has a small flock of sheep, from 
which he gets his negro clothing ; he has also a large herd 
of cattle. Of course he eats "home-made butter," and of 
an excellent quality it is, too. His cattle are the best in 
the vicinity. His large stock of hogs is a mixture of Berk- 
shire and grazier, about fifty of which are now fatting in 
the corn field upon waste corn and peas. These will weigh 
from 150 to 250 lbs. He has this year 90 odd acres of 
cotton ; 80 acres of corn, and 15 of oats. By the by, he is 
now sowing oats. These will afford winter pasturage and 
make a crop ready to harvest the middle of June. These 
oats are sown upon cotton ground of the present season. 

None of my eastern readers can imagine the troubles 
of plowing down cotton stalks. They are about as big as 
thrifty peach trees a year old, and almost as strong. [We 
have seen a cotton stock at least three inches in diameter, 
as hard, and having the appearance of wood.] Add to 
this, as is sometimes the case, a good coat of crab grass, 
thrifty stalks of which I have measured four feet long, 
and plow makers may see why high beams are required 
to their plows. 

Dr. P. planted this season a quantity of eastern corn 
an eight-rowed, white-flint variety, in rows three feet 
apart, and hills with two stalks one foot apart, which 
grew to perfection ; but was attacked with "the rot" after 
it had got ripe, and nearly all went to decay in the field. 
His other crop of corn, planted late and owing to much 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1848 129 

wet weather, became very grassy, he estimates at about 
35 bushels to the acre. The cotton crop of this vicinity 
was much shortened by early frosts. 

A medium crop of cotton is 1,000 lbs. of seed cotton per 
acre. This will produce 290 to 300 lbs. of ginned cotton, 
and about 30 bushels of seed, weighing about 22 lbs. a 
bushel. If 100 bushels of cotton seed per acre is used as 
manure, it will increase the crop about one fifth. About 
a quart of cotton seed to a hill of corn, scattered around 
the hill of young corn, it is thought will increase the crop 
about one fourth. Yet vast quantities of this valuable 
article are wasted. Perhaps it would be useful informa- 
tion to some of your readers to learn that cotton seed is 
about the size, and has somewhat the appearance, when 
free entirely from the lint, of large sunflower seed, and is 
equally oleaginous. 

Dr. P. having a rather extra quality of Petit Gulf and 
sugar-loaf variety of seed, is putting up some hundred 
bushels for sale. He is sending a large quantity to South 
Carolina, and realizes a dollar a bushel, exclusive of pay 
for sacks. 

There is a new kind of seed in this neighborhood called 
the "Hogan seed," selling for $10 a bushel. Last year, it 
was sold at $1,000 per bushel, or a dime a seed ! It is said 
to be a very large and productive variety, though not any- 
thing like so large as the mastodon, which, frequently in 
rich land, grows 8 or 10 feet high, with corresponding- 
sized branches. 

Dr. P. is quite an amateur orchardist. He has about 
40 acres set with trees, among which, he has 70 kinds of 
apples, some of which are now coming into bearing. And 
140 pears, — 150 named varieties of peaches, besides a 
host of unnamed — 26 kinds of plums, 13 apricots, 5 or 6 
of figs, and several nectarines. Early harvest apples 
ripen here the last of June. Early York and rareripe 
peaches ripen about June 20th. Snow peaches, July 1st, 
and some of them eight and a half inches round. Early 
Tilletson, ripen about 30th June, and are a very rich 



130 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

peach. Figs ripen here July 1st. Strawberries, April 
10th, and continue about six weeks. Peaches bloom about 
the middle of February, and quinces the middle of March. 

I have never seen a more thrifty-looking orchard than 
the doctor's. But few of the trees are yet in bearing. 
Mr. S. Montgomery,^ his brother-in-law, who also has a 
good orchard, is of opinion that summer apples will do 
well here ; but has great doubts about success with winter 
varieties. At his place, we were treated with some very 
fine apples, just plucked from the trees. Certainly, if my 
wishes for success in raising fruit could insure it, such 
gentlemen as these would meet with a great share of it. 
I noticed on Mr. M.'s table, a well read copy of Browne's 
Trees of America, and a full set of the bound volumes of 
the Agriculturist. 

Mr. William Montgomery- (the father) has spent a 
deal of money in a fruitless attempt to dam one of these 
soft-bank streams to drive a sawmill. Failing in this, he 
would now gladly avail himself of one of Page's patent 
circular saw mills, but is afraid to order one for fear it 
should prove a "Yankee humbug." A thousand other 
men in the south are in the same condition of this gentle- 
man. They are greatly in want of just such a machine 
for sawing boards, but are afraid to purchase. So far as 
my word will go, I wish to assure them that these saw- 
mills are just the thing wanted in a country where they 
cannot have water mills, and where all kinds of sawed 
lumber is, as it is here, very scarce and dear. Upon every 
plantation, there is already a horse power to which the 
sav^nnill might be attached at the gin house. 

It is the fear of "buying a pig in a poke," that prevents 
a great many of these southern gentlemen from buying 

' S. W. Montgomery, planter, Aurora Hill, Hinds County, Mis- 
sissippi. Contributed an article, "Select Varieties of Peaches," to 
the Southern Cultivator, 7:157-58 (October, 1849). 

* William Montgomery emigrated from South Carolina and set- 
tled in Hinds County, Mississippi, in the early thirties. Riley 
(ed.), "Diary of a Mississippi Planter," in Publications of the Mis- 
aisaivpi Historical Society, 10:305. 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1848 131 

improved implements and machinery that would be of 
vast benefit to them. Many of them continue to use 
plows that would now be a great curiosity among eastern 
plowmen. Dr. Philips has done much toward getting im- 
proved plows introduced among cotton growers. His sys- 
tem of cultivation, too, shows his neighbors whose land is 
wearing out, while his is improving, that such a soil as 
this judiciously managed should never wear out. 

It is a truth that his crop of cow peas which he has 
often written about in the pages of the Agriculturist, 
appear to me sufficient to give the land a good coat of 
manure. The bulk of this crop must be beyond belief, to 
those who have never seen the like. My next letter I hope 
will be from the sugar plantations of Louisiana, provided 
it ever stops raining, so that I can get there. 

Solon Robinson. 

"Log Hall," Hinds Co., Miss.,'\ 
November 22d, 1848. [ 

The Pumpkin Dance and Moonlight Race. 

One of the Western Border Tales. 

By Solon Robinson, Esq. 

IDaily Cincinnati Gazette, December 2, 1848] 

[November ?, 1848] 

In traveling through this queer world of ours, one 
not only meets with strange bed-fellows — (vide, the 
account of a certain Illinois Judge, making his first elec- 
tioneering tour) — but strange fellows meet us, who ap- 
parently never go to bed. 

I met with a lot of these the other day — or rather 
night — in a certain town, in the southers part of Illinois, 
and as it can positively have no bearing upon the election 
now, perhaps you would like to have it to use for "chink- 
ing" in among the election returns. 

I don't know how it is, exactly, whether it is in conse- 
quence of the sovereigns of southern Illinois drinking so 
much whisky, that General Cass gets so many votes in 



132 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

that district, or whether so much whisky is drank there 
in consequence of so many Cass men being there. But 
certain it is, that if the General had to pay for all that 
has been drank in his name, he would need another "extra 
allowance" — not of the "critter," his friends take that — 
but something extra to foot the bill. 

I slept in a certain town, in that region, a short time 
ago, where the extras were indulged in most freely. 

"The Grocery" — consisting of a whisky barrel, six tin 
cups, two green glass tumblers, a lot of pipes and tobacco 
— was in close proximity to the inn I was in, and there 
the qualities of a very recent extraction of the corn, and 
the fitness of the candidate to receive the votes of the 
corned, was discussed in the manner usual in such times 
and places. 

From the run of the conversation, I was led to believe, 
that one who knew a thing or two, had lately been to St. 
Louis, where he had learned that Gen. Jackson was ac- 
tually dead, and that it was not *a darned Whig lie ;' and 
that General Cass was a colt out of the same old war 
horse, and they were a going to run him any how, and he 
was jis' naterally bound to be the next President, any 
way it could be fix'd; and he wanted all that could, to 
stand up to the rack, fodder or no fodder. 

But it also seemed that there were a few Mexican sol- 
diers, who, although they believed that Gen. Jackson cre- 
ated the greater part of this world, also believed that old 
Zack Rough and Ready was now the only living personi- 
fication of human perfection, and they'd vote for him 
right straight, from the word go; and no Cass man in 
them diggins could out run, out drink, out fight, out bet, 
or out argue them on that pint, by a long shot. 

All of which remedies were apparently tried, and found 
ineffectual, in the course of the evening. 

Finally, it was proposed, about midnight, to dance it 
out. The two parties then selected their champions, the 
fiddler mounted the whisky barrel, a large pumpkin was 
placed in the middle of the floor, and at it they went, with 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1848 133 

coats oif, like going to a hard day's work. Each one was 
to give the pumpkin a kick and a roll, and the other was 
to mount it, dance on and over it, without tumbling, or 
own himself and his Presidential candidate defeated, the 
lookers on, rolling in and keeping up a supply in the 
pumpkin market, as they became demolished by an occa- 
sional caving in of the article. 

After about an hour's effort, it was a drawn battle ; the 
two Generals having been floored about an equal number 
of times, in consequence of trying to make footing upon 
a very rolling foundation — a sort of pumpkin proviso. 

At this juncture, the corn was getting decidely low: 
two of the tin cups had been flattened in the fall of Gen. 
Cass, and one of the green glass tumblers having come in 
between old Zack and the floor, at a time when the pump- 
kin went the wrong way, had made him imagine that 
Capt Bragg had run short of grape, and was firing 
broken glass, a portion of which had made him think he 
had an enemy in the rear, being decidedly damaged in 
that region, and, withal, it was not yet settled which 
party shoud yield. 

Hereupon Bill Smithers stumped Jim Jones to decide 
it by a horse race. 

I had been dozing before this, but the proposition for 
a horse race by moonlight, in the small hours of the night, 
to settle the prospect of the two Presidential candidates, 
seemed so decidedly rich that I determined to witness the 
performance. 

As the horses had had nothing to eat but a rail fence 
for the last fifteen hours, there was no danger, in conse- 
quence of high feeding and hard running injuring them. 
Not having time to robe myself exactly for a daylight 
street walk I donned a buffalo robe, slipped on my boots, 
and put out. This was a very good costume for me, but 
a confounded unfortunate one for Bill Smithers, who rode 
the great National Michigander. 

I didn't care so much about the starting point as I did 
the coming out, and so I stationed myself at the corner 



134 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

of the house near where that event was supposed to be 
about to come off. 

The greater part of the crowd had gone up to the top 
of the hill to see fair play in the start, leaving three or 
four of the most leg weary to watch which should come 
first round the corner. 

A loud shout told the start. Down they came, so close 
together that the judges swore there was but one, which 
was a strong evidence that they didn't see double, and as 
it turned out, I believe they really did not, for just as 
they neared the corner where I stood, both nags saw the 
buffalo, and Bill Smithers saw 'the elephant,' for while 
old Zack put it straight through at his best licks. Bill's 
horse wheeled and sheered close up to the side of the 
building, and suddenly disappeared, as though the yawn- 
ing earth had oped her jaws as when by earthquake 
riven. 

About that same time, I thought, as I had not been seen 
among the lookers on in Vienna, I might as well retire 
rather suddenly, and leave the mystery to be solved by 
the due course of events. 

Accordingly, about five minutes afterwards I was 
dreaming that there was a very animated discussion go- 
ing on as to what had become of Bill Smithers and the 
Gen. Cass nag, as it was indisputable that, as the record 
of that race, they were both to be set down as *no whar !' 
in the meantime Bill began to think he was somewhere, 
but where that where was, he was well satisfied he 
couldn't tell. He thought he had seen the 'big animal,' 
and began to think he had rode under his belly ; for every 
time he attempted to remount, he struck his head against 
something, and as the moon had gone out when he fell, 
he could not tell what it was that hindered his rising in 
the world. 

How long he would have lain in that deep ocean of 
darkness buried, I know not, if it had not chanced that 
other eyes than mine had seen him. Woman — ever watch- 
ful woman — had seen the immortal Bill Smithers, astride 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1848 135 

the great Cass champion, in a run that was to settle the 
fate of that renowned hero, ride stern foremost down 
into the dark recess of the open cellar-way of the 'Trav- 
eler's Home.' 

There let him and his hero rest ; and while we dreamed 
away the balance of the night, the 'better half of poor 
Bill raised a force, and, by hard digging, made out to 
raise him and his horse to daylight before I left the next 
morning. 

But as Bill told me, he honestly believed he had seen 
the devil, and that it was a warning to him not to ride 
another Cass race in the dark, and that he would most 
truly vote for Old Zack. I quieted my conscience by 
thinking that 'ignorance is bliss,' and this is one vote 
saved, and therefore, left him a believing convert to a 
better faith, in which he will probably long continue, not- 
withstanding the publication of this veritable history. 
Newspapers, be it understood, are as a sealed book to that 
portion of our brothers of the great political family of 
this 'highly enlightened land,' for which our fathers 
fought and bled, and Bill Smithers rode the midnight 
race, and I wrote the history thereof. 

Agricultural Tour South and West. — No. 3. 

[New York American Agriculturist, 8:90-92; Mar., 1849'] 

[December 8, 1848] 

I THINK in my last communication, I parted with my 
readers at Dr. Philips'. The day I left there, I had a 
conversation with Mr. Watson,^ a neighbor of the Doc- 
tor's, about the loss of stock on pea fields. Mr. W. has 
lost fourteen head of cattle this fall, (mostly fat heifers,) 
among which are two working oxen and one beeve. 

'Reprinted in part in Ohio Cultivator, Columbus, Ohio, 5:101-2 
(April 1, 1849). 

^ James W. Watson, born in Port Gibson, Mississippi, 1824. Grad- 
uate of Princeton, 1844. Commenced planting in the neighborhood 
of Bethel, in Claiborne County, Mississippi. Owned an extensive 
library. Biographical and Historical Memoirs of Mississippi, 2:586. 



136 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

These cattle were turned into the fields from the woods, 
while the peas were fresh and green, and in a day or two 
after, he was told that one of the herd was dead. He 
rode out directly to examine, and found two more dead, 
having- dropped down suddenly, and without showing any 
symptoms of disease; and on opening them while still 
warm, he found no signs of inflammation. They were all 
very fat. The only signs of being affected by this mys- 
terious cause of death, as he subsequently observed, was 
in the discharge of dung, which had a dark grumous ap- 
pearance, more like blue clay mixed with dirty water and 
very soft. On being turned out into the woods again, 
they became healthy until some weeks after, when on be- 
ing admitted to the field were again attacked, and several 
died. The same result followed the same course at a 
later period, when the peavines had all been killed by 
frost. 

Hogs, that are affected by eating peas, show sickness 
before dying and on being opened present the same ap- 
pearance as when dying of kidney worm, and a thick, 
glutinous matter stops the neck of the bladder. Mr. Wat- 
son cures hogs, when seen in time, by feeding large quan- 
tities of warm, greasy slop, very salt. To prevent their 
being affected, they should be fed liberally with corn, and 
well salted, both before turning into pea fields, and while 
they are in. 

One of the good results of making good channels of 
communication between town and country, is seen along 
the Vicksburg and Jackson Railroad. The cutting and 
sending wood to the river for 15 or 20 miles back is found 
more profitable than a cotton crop. Dr. E. H. Bryon, at 
whose place I spent a night in Havre^ county, has found 
this particularly so. And as the banks of the Mississippi 
are becoming rapidly denuded of their forest growth, the 
time is near when wood from the interior lands will have 
to be sent in to supply the almost inconceivable enormous 
consumption by steamboats, and sugar making. Wood 

* Warren or Hinds County must have been intended here. 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1848 137 

has been already profitably sent in flat boats from Green 
River, Kentucky, to New Orleans. 

Profitable Culture of Havana Tobacco in Mississippi. — 
Mr. R. Y, Rogers, who lives among those interminable 
and almost inaccessible hills back of Vicksburg, raised 
on one eighth of an acre, the last season, a crop of to- 
bacco, which, although only once cut, has brought him 
$121, cash, leaving nine hundred cigars on hand and to- 
bacco enough, except wrappers, to make three thousand 
more. The cigars readily bring him $20 a thousand. Mr. 
R. is a small farmer and market gardener, and a gentle- 
man of great enterprise, whose income from the amount 
invested, I presume is a greater percentage than any cot- 
ton planter in the state. In company with friend Rogers, 
we took saddle horses and rode over to Dr. George 
Smith's plantation, as the inconceivable unevenness of 
the surface, prevented our travelling in a carriage. It 
would utterly surprise any one from the most hilly region 
of New England, to see the steep side hills here in culti- 
vation. The plowing is done on the "level system," and 
the crop often has to be carried down by hand, as no cart 
can be driven up and down or round about, except as is 
sometimes done by attaching a rope to a stake on top of 
the hill, which prevents the cart from upsetting as it 
circles round, keeping the rope taught. We found on Dr. 
Smith's place a sample of economy often seen in other 
places besides Mississippi. He had about one hundred 
hogs, which, by dogs and traps, had been caught from 
the woods and shut up in square rail pens, eight to fifteen 
in a pen, to be fattened. I do not think that when killed 
they will average 100 lbs. each. The corn is shelled and 
boiled, and fed in troughs. The bottoms of the pens are 
rails— no shelter nor bed — wood, water, and corn, hauled 
half a mile. Now this corn, is worth 40 to 50 cts. a bushel 
in Vicksburg, and six miles to haul. The pork will be 
worth from 3 to 5 cts. Query — which would be the best 
economy, to shoot the hogs and sell the corn and buy pork, 
or feed it, with the hope of making it of such hogs — many 



138 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

of them now being two years old ? The Doctor's corn is 
of a superior quality, and made this year a good crop. 
Not so with cotton. 

I left Vicksburg, November 28th, on my way towards 
New Orleans, by land. A beautiful warm sunny day, and 
although the paddles yesterday morning showed a good 
covering of ice, the cold was not severe enough to dim the 
blushing beauties of ten thousand roses in the gardens by 
the wayside. The road to-day, lying over the most un- 
even surface ever cultivated, passed much land "worn 
out" and abandoned to the washings of the rains that 
fills the whole surface of an old field, in a few years, with 
impassable gullies. On the road side, a few miles before 
reaching Port Gibson, there is a gully big enough to bury 
a small town. These hills are all composed of an alluvial 
deposit, with nothing to prevent washing. As soon as 
the roots are decayed they dissolve with greater rapidity 
than though composed of salt. Near Port Gibson, I 
passed a Cherokee rose hedge which I saw planted, four 
years since. It is not yet a sufficient fence, though I be- 
lieve that four years does often produce that result. 

November 30th, I shall have reason to remember, as I 
came very near losing myself, horses, and carriage, in 
one of those remarkable quicksand creeks of this country. 
This one being well known to many an unfortunate trav- 
eller on the "old Kentucky trace," by the name of Cole's 
Creek. I am precluded from giving a full account, but 
suffice it to say that I came out on the same side that I 
went in, and by help of negroes and oxen, got the carriage 
out, without any serious damage, though I had a very 
unpleasant job of two or three days in getting dry and 
waiting for a fall of water, &c. Fortunately, I met with 
kind female sympathy in the wife of a Mr. Mackey, by 
whose assistance I got my wardrobe again in wearing 
order. The only way of crossing these quicksands with 
horses, after a time of high water, is to drive cattle across 
to settle the sand. Horses, when they get in, often be- 
come frightened and getting their feet fast, will lay down 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1848 139 

and make no exertions to get out. This kind of stream 
abounds in this country, and the people say, they cannot 
be bridged. I think Yankee enterprise would try. 
Though I will acknowledge that the extreme unstable na- 
ture of the banks would make it difficult. 

Visit to Mr. Affleck. — It is entirely superfluous to say 
that I met with a most gratifying reception from this old 
acquaintance of yours and mine, as well as from his most 
amiable wife. There are no brighter spots in life, than 
these meetings of old friends. I found Mr. A. as full of 
despondency at the result of the last cotton crop, as I 
have a hundred others within a few days, who complain 
with good reason of short crops and low prices. But as 
hope is the "sheet anchor of the soul," I found him full 
of that, upon the subject of a new business which he is 
now about entering upon. His little place of 47 acres, 
at Washington, Mississippi, he is now engaged in laying 
down into a nursery of fruits, shrubs, flowers, and plants 
— both out doors, in hot houses, and forcing beds, with 
the intention of supplying that region, as well as the New- 
Orleans market with such articles. He has an accom- 
plished gardener, Mr. Drummond, from Scotland, and 
brother of him who gave the name to Phlox Drurmmondi ;^ 
and he has now on the way from Mr. Rivers,^ of London, 
a great assortment of bulbs and plants, as well as all that 
he can obtain in this country. I hope his success may be 
commensurate with his industry. Mr. A. can exhibit 
some of the advantages of underdraining in his garden 
and nursery grounds. This he is doing with joints of 

^ This is the original of the common annual garden phlox, now 
cultivated in numerous varieties. The seeds were received in Eng- 
land in the spring of 1835, from Texas, having been collected by 
Drummond. In October of that year it was described by W. J. 
Hooker as Phlox Drianmondii. Bailey, L. H., The Standard Cy- 
clopedia of Horticulture, 3:2587 (New York, 1925). 

" T. Rivers and son were prominent and skillful nurserymen of 
London. Their catalogues were much quoted by agricultural jour- 
nals in England and America. Charleston Southern Cabinet, De- 
cember, 1840, p. 741; Richmond Southern Planter, 7:312 (October, 
1847). 



140 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

large reed canes. He thinks that they will last many 
years, and when decayed, that the hole in the clay will 
still afford drainage for many more years. At any rate, 
it is a cheap experiment. He has a Cherokee-rose hedge, 
now three years old, that will, in another year, be a good 
fence. 

Bermuda Grass. — This grass is much objected to in 
many places, on account of its tenacity of life, but Mr. A. 
assures me that he finds no difficulty in killing or smoth- 
ering it down by crops of the cow pea. This easily- 
managed and most valuable grass cannot be the same 
kind that is so much anathematised in Georgia. 

Here, for the first time, I saw the "cholera among the 
turkeys," — a disease that is at least as unaccountable as 
that of the same name in the human system ; and which 
has slain its thousands among that branch of the poultry- 
yard family, within a few months, in this region. They 
drop from the roost frequently, and usually quite fat. 
The most beautiful tenents of Mrs. Affleck's yard, and in 
fact that I ever saw, was a couple of domesticated wood 
ducks. China and African geese, thrive here as though 
it was their native home. One of the great pests of the 
poultry yard and garden are the rats, which are only kept 
in check by a number of excellent terriers. Yet we see a 
hundred curs and hounds in the country to one of these 
valuable little dogs. 

It is a wonder where wood is scarce and dear as it is 
here, and where the China tree grows so rapidly, and 
makes such good fuel, that plantations are not made for 
that purpose, upon some of the old fields hereabouts, that 
are unfit for any thing else. Mrs. Isaac Dunbar,^ Mrs. 
A.'s mother, and who manages the "home place," has 
some of the finest hedges of Louri-mundi, that I have 
seen; and although they are not good fence, they are 

^ Mrs. Isaac Dunbar was, before her marriage, Elizabeth "Wil- 
kinson. Her husband is mentioned in the Nashville Agriculturist, 
4:183 (December, 1843), as winner of a premium at an agricul- 
tural fair at Washington, Mississippi, for a fine piece of linsey 
cloth. 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1848 141 

highly ornamental. The plants are easily grown from 
seed. She is now burning vast quantities of fuel cut from 
the China trees, as well as locust, in the yard. On the 
night of December 5th, the weather was so warm, that 
sleeping under a sheet only, and with doors and windows 
open, was uncomfortable. Let readers compare notes 
upon this. 

The roads in the vicinity of Natchez are in just such a 
condition as may be imagined by those who have seen the 
hundreds of wagon loads of cotton constantly drawn over 
a loose, soft soil by four or five yoke of oxen to each, dur- 
ing a six-weeks' "rainy spell." And particularly when it 
is taken into account that labor upon roads, is almost un- 
known. It is one of the most common things, after toil- 
ing up a very steep hill, that you find the apex so sharp 
that the forward wheels of a wagon begin to descend the 
other side before the hind ones are up. In some countries, 
such ridges would be dug down. I have travelled many 
miles of road in different places in Mississippi, worn 
down into ditches from four to twenty feet deep, and 
barely wide enough for two wagons to pass; and these 
continually undergoing the gullying operation, that some- 
times render travelling anything but safe or pleasant, to 
say nothing of the bridgeless streams before mentioned. 
The Scuppernong grape is grown successfully in the 
vicinity of Natchez. 

On the road between Natchez and Woodville, there are 
many miles of Cherokee-rose hedge, often spreading 
twenty feet or more wide and as many high. It is an 
objection to this plant, that it is very diiRcult to keep it 
within any reasonable bounds, as a hedge. Careless 
planting and tending, too, often shows gaps. It is also 
an immense harbor for rats and rabbits, and sometimes 
it gets so full of dead wood, as not only to be unsightly 
but in danger of taking fire and destroying a line of fence 
in a few hours. On the other hand, if well tended, it 
makes a handsome hedge, being evergreen, and in spring 
it is covered with a profusion of single white roses, that 



142 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

give it a most beautiful appearance, specimens of which 
were frequently to be seen to-day, (December 6th,) below 
Natchez. 

In travelling along any public road in this country, a 
stranger might wonder where the inhabitants were, as 
he may not see a house for many miles. As for instance, 
just at dusk on the evening I left Natchez, I opened the 
gate that led from the road apparently into a cotton field 
or a woodland pasture, and pursuing the road over a 
little run, up a hill, through the grove and another gate, 
about half or three fourths of a mile, there opens upon 
the view a large fine mansion, and all the appurtenences, 
of a rich and flourishing cotton plantation. This is the 
residence of Dr. Metcalf,^ a very estimable and enter- 
prising gentleman, formerly from Kentucky. The Doc- 
tor, not being contented with a very good house, is now 
exercising his fine taste and love of building, in a very 
large addition to his residence, which is one of the best 
built houses that I have seen in the state — a plan and 
description of which I hope to give hereafter. Dr. M. 
thinks the use of cistern water far more healthy than 
that of springs or wells, though he has one 50 feet deep 
of clear and cool, but hard water. 

Bitter coco is one of the greatest pests that the planters 
have to contend with, several of whom, in this vicinity, 
having abandoned the culture of cotton on account of the 
spread of this grass, which defies the art of men to ex- 
terminate. Nothing but freezing will kill it. Dr. M. 
penned and fatted a lot of hogs upon a patch of it, and 
they rooted down three or four feet after the nuts, which 
are about the size of large beans, black color, and strung 
upon a small tough black root, a dozen in a string; and 
he fully believed that the hogs had destroyed it; but lo! 
in the spring it started up thicker and faster than ever. 
It grows a small single blade of pale green grass, never 
growing high, is good for pasture, particularly for sheep, 
but is killed by the slightest frost. The smallest fibre of 

' Possibly Dr. Asa B. Metcalf, who is mentioned in Biographical 
and Historical Memoirs of Mississippi, 2:586. 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1848 143 

roots vegetate, and unless actually consumed, fire does 
not seem to destroy its vitality. It has been known to 
grow abundantly from ashes, taken from a kitchen fire 
where it had been thrown to destroy it ! And I have my- 
self seen it growing out of the lime mortar in the top of 
a sugar-house chimney, after the chimney had been used 
to boil a crop of sugar ; and those who know anything of 
the intense fires used, can easily imagine that the top of 
a chimney is anything but a cool place ! 

Doctor Metcalf and his neighbor Dr. Mercer^ have 
some of the best stock in this part of the state. Though 
I am sorry to say that there is not much encouragement 
among the mass of Mississippians, for enterprising pub- 
lic-spirited men like these, to expend money in introduc- 
ing good stock, except for their own use. I saw in Dr. 
Metcalf's garden, a beautiful and efficient hedge of the 
Florida thorn, which I like better than the Cherokee rose, 
or the Osage orange, a specimen of which I have seen on 
Dr. Mercer's place. That plant, in this climate, grows 
naturally to a tree, and in a hedgerow does not afford 
sufficient thorns on the lower part of the stems. Being 
deciduous, too, it is less beautiful in winter than the 
Louri-mundi, if planted for an ornamental hedge. 

On the day I left Dr. Metcalf's, I crossed the Homo- 

* William Newton Mercer, born Cecil County, Maryland, 1792; 
died 1878. Received medical training at the University of Penn- 
sylvania and served as assistant surgeon in War of 1812. Trans- 
ferred to New Orleans in 1816, and later to Natchez, where he de- 
veloped a lucrative practice. Married Anna Frances Farrar, and 
at her father's death, began management of his large cotton plan- 
tation. In 1843, on the death of his wife, returned to New Orleans 
and built a mansion on Canal Street (today the home of the Bos- 
ton Club). President of the Bank of Louisiana at the outbreak 
of the Civil War. Although opposed to secession, joined his fellow 
citizens, and suffered confiscation of his property after an alter- 
cation with General Benjamin F. Butler. Jewell, Edwin (ed.). 
Jewell's Crescent City Illustrated (New Orleans, 1873) ; Rightor, 
Henry (ed.), Standard History of New Orleans, Louisiana, 214-15, 
459-60, 498 (Chicago, 1900) ; New Orleans States, September 23, 
1923; letter of W. H. Stephenson to Herbert A. Kellar, June 11, 
1936. 



144 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

chitto River, by a very good ferry, where was once a 
bridge, and in fact is now, over a part of the swamp, 
which is traversed by a causeway some two miles long, 
from four to ten feet high, which will go to show some of 
the difficulties of bridging streams here, and an as item 
of excuse for the great neglect of the people to keep the 
roads passable. Though the excuse is by no means suffi- 
cient. For a few miles further on, I encountered another 
stream, called Buffalo Creek, where a new bridge was 
building, which I suppose was sufficient excuse for hav- 
ing no ferry — the boat formerly here having been sunk 
months ago. From the late, almost incessant rains, the 
creek was sending an angry flood of muddy water fifteen 
or eighteen feet deep, to give its aid toward extending 
the lands of Louisiana across the gulf of Mexico, and pre- 
senting to several travellers on the other side, almost as 
insurmountable a barrier as would the gulf itself. I 
found at the place a small "dug out," and several negroes, 
to whom I gave a couple of dollars, (of course they 
wanted five,) to assist me in taking my carriage apart 
and carrying it over a piece at a time ; and baggage, har- 
ness, and self in the same way, and then swimming the 
horses over. Streams are very numerous and bridges 
few, and ferries almost always exorbitant in charges 
and often very badly kept. I have often paid 50 cents to 
$1 for toll over streams not twice as wide as some of the 
cotton teams are long. Tavern bills, too, are outrageously 
high, and the fare outrageously low; but of the hospi- 
tality of planters, and kindness with which I have been 
treated, without a single exception, I cannot speak high 
enough. Such a reception as I met with upon a late ar- 
rival, at the house of Mr. Horatio Smith, near Woodville, 
is almost sufficient to make one forget such little items as 
the troublesome passage of Buffalo Creek. 

Of all the numerous and curious gullys I have yet seen 
in this curious country, one passed to-day, (December 
8th,) north of Woodville, is perhaps the most so. The 
road for more than half a mile traverses a mere ridge, 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1848 145 

rising out of a gulf or succession of gulfs on each side, 
near a hundred feet deep, in an earth of a reddish color, 
and much of it the tint of the peach blossom. Mr. Smith 
tells me that when this ridge tumbles down, as in time 
it surely will, that the old plantation adjoining is so full 
of gullies, that there will be no place for a road, without 
going several miles round. Mr. Smith, says, never plow 
nor dig the ground in the contemplated hedge roiu for 
Cherokee-rose cuttings. Scrape the surface clean, draw 
a line and mark the row, and then take a sharp pin, either 
wood or iron, the latter the best, and drive down six or 
eight inches, as thick as required for the plants, and drop 
the cuttings in these holes and hammer the earth around 
till it closes tight upon the stock. Planted in this way, 
not one in a hundred will fail, no matter how hard the 
ground — and it is not one half the labor as the mode in 
which they are usually planted. Mr. Smith gives as one 
of the reasons why pork is not made here to a greater 
extent, in these low-price times, the difficulty of having 
sufficiently cool weather at killing time, to save the meat. 
He has known hogs turned out again, after having been 
fatted, on account of the weather continuing so warm 
through the whole winter, that it could not be cured. 

Although the town of Woodville and vicinity contain 
many excellent people, the place has got an unenviable 
notoriety ; and "the oak" is known more widely as a scene 
of bloodshed than that portion of the inhabitants who 
belong to the peace establishment. If alcohol were ut- 
terly banished from the place, then would the town soon 
wear an improving look, more pleasing to the stranger. 

Solon Robinson. 

Woodville, Miss., Dec. Sth, 1848. 



146 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 
Agricultural Tour South and West. — No. 4. 

[New York America7i Agriculturist, 8:117-19; Apr., 1849'] 

[Written January 12, 1849, covering December 9-15, 

1848^] 

Between Woodville and Bayou Sarah, 24 miles, is 
a railroad that would be of vast benefit to the cotton 
planters, if the company had learned the secret connected 
with low freights. Short crops and low prices of cotton, 
combined with the fact of several planters in the hill 
lands between Woodville and Bayou Sarah, having been 
very successful in the cultivation of cane the past season 
or two, is creating considerable excitement about making 
sugar in a region that it would have been considered only 
a few years since, madness to talk about. It is said that 
Dr. Wilcox,^ eight miles from Bayou Sarah, makes this 
year 400 hhds. of sugar upon a place that has not lately 
yielded over 150 bales of cotton; and that his neighbor, 
Mr. Fort,* is making two hogsheads to the acre from land 
that only afforded half a bale. [It is to be remembered 
that a hhd. of sugar is 1,000 lbs. and a bale of cotton is 
400 lbs.] It is also known that Mr. Ruffin Barrow,^ Dr. 

'Reprinted in part in The Plough, the Loom, and the Anvil, 2:7 
(July, 1849). 

" This article is placed here to conform to the itinerary of Robin- 
son's tour through Louisiana. 

" Dr. W. Wilcox, owner of Oak Grove sugar plantation in West 
Feliciana Parish, near Bayou Sara Landing (St. Francisville), but 
not fronting on the Mississippi River. A user of improved sugar 
equipment, although not one of the larger sugar producers. 
Champomier, P. A., Statement of the Sugar Crop Made in Louisi- 
atia (New Orleans, annual, beginning with 1849) ; map of Planta- 
tions on the Mississippi River from Natchez to New Orleans 
(1858) ; "Directory of the Planters of Louisiana and Mississippi," 
in Cohen's New Orleans Directory, 1855, p. 360. 

* William J. Fort, operator of Catalpa and Magnolia sugar plan- 
tations. The latter fronted on the Mississippi. Fort had a sugar 
house on each plantation, used modern equipment, and was one 
of the largest sugar planters in the state. Champomier, op. cit.; 
map of Playitations on the Mississippi River; "Directory of the 
Planters of Louisiana and Mississippi," op cit., 329. 

' Ruffin Barrow is said to have had, in 1830, a plantation of 
twelve thousand acres, nearly equally divided between cotton and 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1848 147 

Perkins,^ and others have been successful in making 
sugar upon hill lands. As not one cotton planter in a 
hundred is making simple interest upon his investments, 
it is no wonder that every successful effort to cultivate 
sugar cane further north, and away from the immediate 
alluvion of the river, where it was long thought it could 
only be cultivated, should create considerable excitement 
among the upland cotton planters. And although the 
present low price of sugar does not offer a golden harvest, 
equal to California ''placers," yet it is an ascertained fact 
that brown sugars, at three cents, produce a better result 
than cotton at six. And it is very evident that either 
owing to the seasons or acclimatization, the culture is 
continually extending northward, and I have no doubt 
that most of the cotton plantations below Natchez, will 
in a few years more afford twice as much sugar in value 
as they now do cotton. True, the amount of money re- 
quired to make the change is great — of that hereafter. 
On the evening I left Woodville, I spent the night upon 
one of the oldest American plantations in this part of 
Louisiana, owned by General McAustin,^ an Irishman, but 

sugar. The beautiful plantation house which he built that year at 
Greenwood, is illustrated and described in Saxon, Lyle, Old Louisi- 
ana, 205, 327 (New York, 1929). 



'Dr. James Perkins, born in South Carolina in 1800; went to 
the Felicianas in 1806 with his fathei', Lewis Perkins. Became a 
famous physician. Although an old-line Whig, was elected to the 
state senate in 1844 by a Democratic constituency. Chairman of 
committee to investigate the famous "Plaquemines fraud." His 
sugar plantation was known as the Star Hill Refinery. Skip- 
with, Henry, East Feliciana, Louisiana, Past and Present: 
Sketches of the Pioneers, 54-55 (New Orleans, 1892) ; Champom- 
ier, op. cit.; map of Plantations on the Mississippi River; "Dii'ec- 
tory of the Planters of Louisiana and Mississippi," op. cit., 348. 

^ Probably Robert McCausland or McCauslin, who claimed lands 
which he had held since 1802 in "Feliciana." Fought with Andrew 
Jackson in the Battle of New Orleans as a brigadier general of 
Militia. American State Papers. Public Lands, 2:216; 3 -.il (Wash- 
ington, D. C, 1834) ; Bassett, John Spencer (ed.), Correspondence 
of Andrew Jackson, 2:141, 171, 180; 6:445, and General Index, 75 
(Carnegie Institution of Washington, Publication No. 371, Wash- 
ington, D. C, 1926-1935). 



148 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

has resided upon this place, Springfield, one mile south 
of the state line on the road from Woodville to Jackson, 
La., upwards of forty-five years, and has made a cotton 
crop every year, though some of the earliest ones v^^ere 
ginned by his own and one negro's fingers, while sitting 
over a log-cabin fire of a winter evening. But, in 1809, 
he sold a crop of considerable size at 321/2 cents a pound ! 
This "gave me a lift," remarked the General, "by which 
I was enabled to begin to go ahead." He is now a hale 
old man of 77, was a great friend of General Jackson, but 
a small one to some of those that have since pretended to 
follow the steps of that "illustrious predecessor." His 
reminiscences of the early settlement of this country are 
highly interesting, but space will not permit me to insert 
them here. Speaking of coco grass, he says he has seen 
it grow up through a pile of cotton seed, several feet 
thick, that was purposely put upon a patch of it to 
smother it. He says that "old field, black seed grass," 
will crowd out Bermuda grass in two or three years. The 
land here, though still hilly, is far less so than that I have 
passed over, and much better watered with springs and 
creeks. 

General M. says he has kept sheep many years, and 
that they do well. The wool, originally fine, continues 
the same, only shorter. He has some very good horses of 
his own raising; having in his younger days been con- 
siderably engaged in rearing — he loves a good horse. He 
cultivates at the home plantation, (having two others,) 
about 1,000 acres, with sixty hands, and averages 300 
bales of cotton — 5 bales to the hand, which averages per- 
haps $20 the bale. This is certainly not a very profitable 
income upon the value of land, stock, machinery, slaves, 
&c., particularly, as upon a large, old plantation like this, 
not more than one half of the negroes are ever counted 
as field hands, and estimating the plantation at the very 
low figure of $50,000 and one half of the proceeds of the 
crop is at once taken up for interest at 6 per cent. Then 
there is the wages of one or more overseers; a large bill 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1848 149 

for new implements, bagging, rope, &c., and half a pound 
of pork to fill every negro's mouth, every day he lives, 
besides the immense clothing bill and family expenses to 
be paid out of the proceeds of the annual crops. It may 
be argued that while cotton is so low, at least, the full 
supply of meat ought to be raised on the place. So it had 
if it can. But with all the studied economy and fore- 
thought of such men as Dr. Philips, it cannot always be 
done, and with men of far less calculation, the matter 
presents a host of difficulties unknown to northern farm- 
ers. "Well, if you can't raise pork, why not feed your 
negroes on beef," exclaims the northerner. Simply be- 
cause it would raise a revolt, sooner than all the whip 
lashes ever braided in Massachusetts. Fat pork and corn 
bread is the natural aliment of a negro. Deprive him of 
these and he is miserable. Give him his regular allow- 
ance, (31/2 lbs. clear pork, and IV2 pecks corn meal per 
week,) and the negro enjoys more of "heaven on earth," 
than falls to the lot of any other class of human beings 
within my knowledge. 

On the day I left General McAustin's, I dined with 
Wm. G. Johnson,^ whom many of my readers will recog- 
nize as an old and very intelligent cotton planter. Find- 
ing he could not continue to clothe and feed a large num- 
ber of negroes, many of whom had grown old with their 
master, he has abandoned cotton altogether and suffered 
a large and once fine plantation to fall to decay, and wear 
the weeds of desolation; using it only as a stock farm, 
and home for himself and old servants, while he has put 
all the able hands upon a sugar plantation, ovnied in com- 
pany with his son-in-law, Wm. B. Walker,^ at Bayou 

' William Garret Johnson, resident near Jackson, Louisiana. One 
of the original Board of Trustees of the College of Louisiana, es- 
tablished at Jackson in 1825, and an incorporator of the Baptist 
Congregation of St. Francisville in 1823, and of the West Felici- 
ana Asylum (a charitable institution for care of the poor), in 
1835. Laws of Louisiana, 6 legislature, 1 session, 1823, p. 32; 7 
legislature, 1 session, 1824-1825, p. 152; 12 legislature, 1 session, 
1835, p. 239; St. Francisville Louisiana Journal, May 5, 1825. 

° William B. Walker, operator of one of the largest improved 



150 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

Mauchac. There are several other abandoned plantations 
in Mr. Johnson's neighborhood, where buildings and 
fences are tumbling in ruins, and beautiful gardens 
grown up in briars and bushes, and large fields covered 
with broom sedge, the whole making a scene of desolation 
that is painful to pass by. And these things are not only 
here — they are more or less to be seen all through the 
cotton region. For the truth is, cotton cannot be grown 
at the present prices. Mr. Johnson thinks that sugar can 
be made at 3 cts. a pound better than cotton at six ; and 
that anywhere within the limits of sugar growing, the 
same hands and lands, will average, one year with an- 
other, one hogshead of sugar for every bale of cotton. 

A few miles south of Jackson, on the Baton-Rouge 
rt)ad, I crossed the Clinton and Port-Hudson Railroad, in 
a state of dilapidation. Why is it that no enterprise of 
this kind succeeds in this region? Dining with General 
Carter,^ I learned that his brother, on the adjoining place, 
made this year from four and a quarter acres of cane, 
(nearly one fourth of an acre of which was waste ground, 
in consequence of a pond,) seventeen and two thirds 
hogsheads of sugar. The character of the soil is clayey 
upland, rather flat; original growth, oak, magnolia, gum, 
poplar, &c., and has been cleared and in cotton about 
twelve years, this being the first crop of cane. Another 
neighbor made 42 hhds. from 12 1/2 acres — certainly very 
encouraging to hill-land planters, and I hope the same 
success may continue to attend them. Though it is con- 
sugar plantations in Louisiana, called Woodstock, and located in 
East Baton Rouge Parish, 116 miles above New Orleans, the first 
plantation above Bayou Manchac. Champomier, Statement of the 
Sngar Crop Made in LovAsiana, 1849; Pike, Charles J., Coast- 
Directory (New Orleans, 1847) ; map of Plantations on the Missis- 
si])pi River; "Directory of the Planters of Louisiana and Missis- 
sippi," op. cit., 359. 



^ General A. G. Carter, resident of East Feliciana near Port 
Hudson. Associated with his brother, William D. Carter. Their 
sugar planting operations were of recent origin. Champomier, 
Statement of the Sugar Crop Made in Louisiana, 1851-1852. 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1848 151 

tended by many that these old cotton plantations, after 
some of the first crops of cane, will "run out." But I 
cannot believe that a soil almost bottomless, if properly 
cultivated, can ever fail. And I will show in some of my 
subsequent letters, by indisputable facts, that the subsoil 
plow is all that is needed to renovate land that has "run 
out," anywhere upon this vast and inexhaustible bed of 
alluvion. 

Immediately after leaving General Carter's we entered 
"the plains," a very level tract of land some dozen miles 
across, of a whitish clay, with frequent openings, called 
"prairie," however unlike they look to those I live upon, 
and judging from the appearance of the few scattered 
settlements along the road, the land affords a poor return 
for the cultivation bestowed upon it. Though I have no 
doubt that all this great uncultivated tract, lying along 
this road, much of it still in heavy forest, mostly beech, 
with magnolia, oak, poplar, &c., will some day be found 
to be most valuable land, when cleared and well under- 
drained; for water is the great detriment to cultivation 
on much of the soil of this region. I passed the night 
with Dr. Scott,^ who lives on the river bank, six miles 
above Baton Rouge. He is a gentleman of education and 
intelligence, but who has got such an inveterate habit of 
looking on the "black side" of everything, that he sees 
nothing but darkness in the path ahead. He says that it 
is idle for hill planters to think of going into the sugar 
business ; for most of the sugar planters of the state are 

' Dr. Williana B. Scott, a native of Bedford County, Pennsylvania. 
Became a prominent Baton Rouge physician. Served for many 
years in the Louisiana state legislature, and was a member of the 
Constitutional Convention of 1844-1845. Southern University (the 
Louisiana state university for negroes) is now situated on the 
site of Dr. Scott's plantation, and a town called Scotlandville or 
Scotland, has developed at the back of this plantation about a mile 
from the Mississippi River. "Brief Biographical Sketches of 
Members of the Convention," in New Orleans Daily Picayune, 
September 8, 1844; Pike, Coast-Directory; Louisiana Senate 
Journals, 1836-1842; Journal of the Louisiana Constitutional Con- 
vention, 1844-1845. 



152 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

bound to fail. He has 40 acres of cane which he wishes 
was out of the ground again. He won't build a sugar 
house because he would have to become tributary to the 
north, and the state now imports more than she sells, and 
unless she will go to manufacturing right soon, and in 
good earnest, she must become bankrupt, &c. He com- 
plains that sugar makers are ruining the country by their 
enormous consumption of wood; yet, the sale of wood is 
the principal business of this man; and at a price, ($2.50 
a cord,) that he would not realize if it were not for the 
great consumption of the sugar works. 

December 14th, I visited Baton Rouge, and almost as 
a matter of course. General Taylor,^ whom, if I had found 
on a farm, instead of in a garrison, I should have thought 
a plain and very sensible old farmer, who loved to talk 
about the business of cultivation better than anything 
else. From the conversation I had with him, I think that 
he is aware that he has got a weedy row to hoe, but that 
he will dig it through or die, and woe to the weeds that 
come in the way of his old hoe. I also made the acquaint- 
ance of T. B, Thorpe,^ from whom I received letters of 
introduction to several of the editorial family of New 
Orleans, that were afterwards of great service to me. 
I cannot omit here the kind remembrance of Mrs. Thorpe, 
than whom I have not met with a more pleasant acquaint- 
ance on my list. While in company with Mrs. Thorpe, 
the conversation turned upon an article lately published, 
in regard to a want of proper secretiveness in the Mus- 

' See post, 155-57. 

" Thomas Bangs Thorpe, author and journalist, born March 1, 
1815, at Westfield, Massachusetts. From 1830 to 1853 was in Lou- 
isiana, writing, editing Whig papers in New Orleans and Baton 
Rouge, and making political speeches. Published two books, Hive 
of the Bee Hunter and Mysteries of the Backwoods, in 1845 and 
1846. Removed to New York in 1853 and continued his literary 
activities until his death on September 21, 1878. National Cyclo- 
psedia of American Biography, 6:230 (1929). An address deliv- 
ered before the Louisiana Agricultural and Mechanics' Associa- 
tion is published in part in De Bow's Review, 1:161-64 (February, 
1846). 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1848 153 

covy ducks about their nests. She says that all her ex- 
perience goes to the contrary; that her ducks have al- 
ways been unusually secretive, and thinks that is their 
general character in this region. I also partook of the 
hospitalities and kind offices of John R. Dufrocq,^ editor 
of the Baton-Rouge Gazette, Mayor of the city, &c., &c., 
whom his thousands of Michigan and Canada friends will 
delight to hear is the same highminded nature's noble- 
man he ever was. By his politeness and attention, and in 
his company, I visited the penitentiary, now being trans- 
ferred by the present contractors, McHatton, Pratt & Co., 
into a great cotton and woollen manufactory. There are 
at present about 140 convicts, who are well fed, clothed, 
and lodged in solitary cells. They are now making 900 
yards of an excellent quality of stout cotton, well worthy 
the attention of planters. There are a few shoemakers, 
tailors, and blacksmiths, besides carrying on a great 
amount of brick making; for the individuals having the 
contract for the splendid state house now building here. 
They get $12.50 a thousand for the bricks laid in the wall. 
I saw in the penitentiary, sixteen of the best mules I ever 
saw together. One was seventeen hands high and well 
formed ; though not so remarkably so as one not quite so 
large, and valued at $250 — none of them being worth less 
than $150 — the present value of the plantation mules be- 
ing now from $80 to $125. Baton Rouge may be said to 

' John R. Dufrocq, formerly of Detroit, Michigan, apparently 
came to Baton Eouge early in the 1840's. Upon the death of John 
Hueston, editor of the Baton Rouge Gazette (Whig), in a political 
duel in 1843, Dufrocq published the Gazette for Hueston's heirs 
for several months. In January, 1844, with Albert P. Converse, 
became owner and publisher, continuing as editor intermittently 
until June, 1850. Mayor of Baton Rouge, 1846-1856. Became a 
notary and auctioneer. Took a prominent part in the Mechanics' 
Association, serving as secretary in 1846 and for several years 
subsequently. President of the Mechanics' Institute, and its li- 
brarian, 1852. A school and street in Baton Rouge are named 
for Dufrocq. Baton Rouge Gazette, 1843-1856; Baton Rouge 
Weekly Advocate, 1850-1860; Baton Rouge Daily Comet, 1852-1856; 
Baton Rouge Gazette and Comet, 1856-1862. 



154 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

be the northern limit of oranges, and I saw here several 
trees twenty or twenty-five feet high, loaded with fruit, 
the most beautiful of all others, that grow upon trees. 
Here, at this date, many garden vegetables are in quite 
perfection, and roses fill the air with fragrant sweets. 
Mr. Dufrocq informs me that the mistletoe is killing the 
live oaks, in this town; the streets of which are orna- 
mented with a great many of these most beautiful of all 
the family of oaks. Query — is that the cause? This town, 
now, or rather in 1850, is to be the state capital, contains 
between 2,000 or 3,000 inhabitants, on a very handsome 
site, fifty feet above high water, although just at present 
the water well mixed with loamy earth is pretty high all 
over town. The state house is to be one of the finest on 
the Mississippi. It stands fronting the river as well as 
three streets. It will cost, when complete, nearly half a 
million of dollars. 

Immediately on leaving the town of Baton Rouge, 
commences the great levee of the Mississippi, a dam of 
earth extending to the mouth, and varying from one to 
ten feet high, by which man hath said to the mighty 
stream, "thus far shalt thou flow and no farther;" and 
by which only can the great sugar plantations of Louisi- 
ana be cultivated. But, before entering upon these, let 
us have another month's rest; for I have a great deal to 
write, some of which, I have every confidence in my 
ability to make interesting to my readers. That the pres- 
ent chapter is not more so, I am sure that they will ex- 
cuse me when I tell them that it was written during my 
confinement to my room with an attack of the epidemic 
of the present winter, that has spread mourning along 
the banks of the Mississippi, and had it not been for the 
kindness of one of whom I shall speak by-and-by in com- 
mensurate terms, I should not now have been in a con- 
dition to say that I still remain your old friend 

Solon Robinson. 

Point Celeste, below Neiv Orleans, Jan. 12th, 1849. 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1848 155 

Visit to General Zachary Taylor 

[Daily Cincinnati Gazette, January 4, 1849'] 

Baton Rouge, Dec. 15, 1848. 

My old Friends. — I have just made a visit to the "White 
House," in which resides that good old man we have 
selected to bring about a much needed reform in affairs 
at Washington. I found Gen. Taylor, not exactly in 
camp, but dwelling in a small house of as humble pre- 
tentions as himself, in the garrison here.^ 

As well as I was satisfied before, I am more so since 
I have become personally acquainted with him, and some 
of his immediate neighbors. 

None except the bitterest Locofocos speak of him in 
anything but terms of deep respect for his excellent char- 
acter, and in full satisfaction of his commanding abilities 
and talents for the office of President. 

Gen. Taylor told me that he was already overwhelmed 
with applications for office : so much so that it occupied 
all his time not necessarily devoted to business, to read 
the numerous letters, many of which are long and tedi- 
ous, so that it is quite out of his power to give answers. 
"Besides," says the Gen., "I am not yet President, and 
when I am, let these applications be made through the 
proper departments, and if it is wished to remove an in- 
cumbent, let it be shown that he does not answer the 
Jeffersonian standard for an office-holder, and that the 
applicant does ; for as far as lies in my power, I intend 
that all new appointments shall be of men honest and 
capable. I do not intend to remove any man from office 
because he voted against me, for that is a freeman's priv- 

' This article appeared in the Logansport Telegraph, January 13, 
1849, under the heading "Correspondence of the Cincinnati Ga- 
zette." 

' General Taylor had been placed in command of the southern 
division of the western department of the Army in 1840. His home 
at Baton Rouge was a simple cottage consisting of three or four 
rooms, inclosed under galleries, and had been originally erected for 
the captain commandant when the post belonged to Spain. How- 
ard, Oliver Otis, General Taylor, 76-78 (New York, 1892). 



156 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

ilege ; but such desecration of office and official patronage 
as some of them have been guilty of to secure the election 
of the master whom they served as slaves, is degrading 
to the character of American Freemen, and will be a good 
cause for removal of friend or foe. 

"The offices of the Government should be filled with 
men of all parties ; and as I expect to find many of those 
now holding to be honest good men, and as the new ap- 
pointments will of course be Whigs, that will bring about 
this result. 

"Although I do not intend to allow an indiscriminate 
removal, yet it grieves me to think that it will be neces- 
sary to require a great many to give place to better men. 
As to my cabinet, I intend that all interests and all sec- 
tions of the country shall be represented, but not as some 
of the newspapers will have it, all parties. I am a Whig, 
as I have always been free to acknowledge, but I do not 
believe that those who voted for me, wish me to be a 
mere partizan President, and I shall therefore try to be 
a President of the American people. 

"As to the new territory, it is now free, and slavery 
cannot exist there without a law of Congress authorizing 
it, and that I do not believe they will ever pass. 

"I was opposed to the acquisition of this territory, as I 
also was to the acquisition of Texas. I was opposed to the 
war, and although by occupation a warrior, I am a peace 
man." 

Upon the subject of improving our great rivers and 
lakes, the friends of that measure may rest satisfied that 
they have a friend in President Taylor. 

Gen. Taylor was sixty-four years old last November. 
He is now hale and hearty, and in the full enjoyment of 
his natural strong intellectual faculties. 

I hold my judgment tolerably good of human character, 
and I must say that I was highly pleased with my inter- 
view, and left him fully satisfied of his capability to fill 
the Presidential office with honor to himself and our 
country. 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1848 157 

I fully believe that all classes of people will soon feel 
the beneficial effects of the prosperity and confidence that 
will fill the minds of the people during his administra- 
tion. 

I hope I shall not be accused of visiting Gen. Taylor to 
beg for an office, when I state that I left home nearly a 
month before the election on a tour through the South, 
connected with my hobby — agricultural improvement — a 
subject upon which I found General Taylor most free to 
converse.^ 

In truth there is but one office in his gift that I would 
be willing to accept — and that only to help along my 
hobby — and that I would not ask for, or even name. 

Lest you think me tedious, I will close, with assurance 
of respect. Yours, Solon Robinson. 

^Alas for Robinson's hope! The Valparaiso Western Ranger, of 
Februarj' 14, 1849, carried the following item from the Chicago 
Democrat: 

"A VISIT TO General Taylor 

"Among the immense number of lean and hungry politicians who 
have been to see Taylor to get office is the celebrated Solon Robin- 
son of Lake County, Indiana, the greatest humbug in the North 
West. He wants to be the Commissioner of Patents. 

"Taylor is said to have told Robinson after he had told him how 
much he was doing in the agricultural world, as Johnson once did 
a preacher who wanted office, *I can do nothing to take you from 
your theatre of usefulness. You must be doing a great deal of good 
where you are.' " 

The issue of February 21 made apology: 

"Editorial 

"An article speaking in severe terms of our friend Solon Robinson 
accidentally found its way into our paper last week. We would 
not urge a word against Mr. Robinson's qualifications for the office 
to which he aspires; we believe him to be better qualified for that, 
or any other civil office, than Gen. Taylor." 



158 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 
Agricultural Tour South and West. — No. 5. 

[New York American Agriculturist, 8:143-44; May, 1849] 

[Covering December 15-19, 1848] 

Visit to the Plantations of Louisiana. — Directly after 
leaving Baton Rouge, down the Mississippi, we pass a 
long reach of uncultivated wooded tract, belonging to Mr. 
John McDonough/ of New Orleans, who, like many other 
land misers in this country, appears to buy to keep — not 
to cultivate. Then comes the plantation of the lamented 
Mr. Chambers,^ who was recently crushed to death in his 
sugar mill, in consequence of entangling his coat in one 
of the ponderous iron wheels. To-day, (December 15th,) 
I noticed a gang of negroes gathering cane from the wind- 
rows, and carting it to the mill. No cane is to be seen 
standing here, having all been cut for fear of frost. 

The next plantations we meet with, are those of Col. 
S. Henderson,^ Madame Williams,* and of Col. Philip 

' John McDonogh, merchant and philanthropist, born December 
29, 1779, at Baltimore, Maryland; died October 26, 1850. Went to 
New Orleans as agent for a Baltimore merchant. After 1803 put 
all his capital into West Florida and Louisiana lands. Retired 
from mercantile business in 1806 to attend to his pi'operties, which 
grew to be enormous. Director of the Louisiana State Bank. Took 
part in Jackson's defense of New Orleans. About 1817 removed 
from New Orleans to one of his plantations across the river. Sent 
about eighty slaves to Liberia in 1842, but purchased more when 
these departed. Left his fortune for the education of the youth of 
New Orleans and Baltimore. Dictionary of American Biography, 
12:19. 

^ David Chambers, Iberville, Louisiana. Received second pre- 
mium for sugar at the fair of Louisiana Agricultural and Me- 
chanics' Association in 1844. Nashville Agriculturist, 5:20 (1844). 

' Colonel Stephen Henderson, Union Parish, Louisiana. Sugar 
planter. Treasurer and chairman of the Executive Committee of 
the Louisiana Agricultural and Mechanics' Association for 1847. 
Nashville Agricxdturist, 5:17 (1844); De Bow's Review, 4:424 
(December, 1847); Monthly Journal of Agriculture, 3:148 (Octo- 
ber, 1847). For a description of his method of working slaves, 
and food allowance for slaves, see Moody, V. Alton, Slavery on 
Louisiana Sugar Plantations, 20, 60, 77 (reprinted from Louisiana 
Historical Quarterly, 7:191-301, April, 1924). 

* Madame Williams, widow of Dr. J. C. Williams, for many years 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1848 159 

Hickey/ The latter gentleman has raised sugar upon his 
place thirty-five years. In 1817, his father sold his crop 
of sugar for 11 cents per pound, and his cotton for 30 
cents. On the 19th of October, 1813, the frost killed all 
his cane. Sugar was worth, that year, 12 cents per 
pound. In 1814, he was offered two pounds of cotton for 
one of sugar, but while loading his boats they were 
pressed into the surface of Uncle Sam, and he lost the 
sale. Had the bargain been consummated, he would have 
realized 30 cents for his cotton, which would have made 
him 60 cents per pound for his sugar. Col. Hickey is of 
opinion that bagasse, (the refuse stalks of sugar cane 
after they have been ground,) is unfit for manure until 
it has been rotted a great number of years. The best 
way to dispose of it he thinks is to use it as fuel. 

A couple of miles below, is the plantation of F. D. Con- 
rad,^ Esq., of which I shall have much to say hereafter. 
In front of his house is an extensive batture. A batture, 

a prominent physician of Baton Rouge and operator of an exten- 
sive cotton and sugar plantation called Arlington. The planta- 
tion was located in East Baton Rouge Parish about four miles be- 
low Baton Rouge. Champomier, Statement of the Sugar Crop 
Made in Louisiana, 1849; Pike, Coast-Directory; map of Planta- 
tions on the Mississipjn River. 



' Philip Hickey, born 1777, at Manchac, then an impoi-tant post 
of West Florida. Signer of the Declaration of Independence 
of West Florida, 1810, and influential in securing its peaceable 
acquisition by the United States. First representative of Baton 
Rouge Parish in the Louisiana state legislature. Pioneer in cul- 
ture of sugar cane; erected the first sugar mill in the parish in 
1814. De Boiv's Review, 11:612-14 (December, 1851). President, 
Louisiana Agricultural and Mechanics* Association, 1844, 1847. 
Nashville Agriculturist, 5:17 (1844) ; De Bow's Review, 4:423 (De- 
cember, 1847). The Hickey plantation as it was in 1802 is men- 
tioned in Louisiana Historical Quarterly, 10:491 (October, 1927). 

^ F. D. Conrad was vice-president and a member of the Execu- 
tive Committee of the Louisiana Agricultural and Mechanics' As- 
sociation, 1844, 1847. The Cottage, ten miles from Baton Rouge, 
home of the Conrad family, was built in 1830. It was, in 1929, the 
property of Mrs. Fanny Conrad Buffington-Bailey. De Boiv's Re- 
view, 4:424 (December, 1847); Nashville Agriculturist, 5:17 
(1844) ; Saxon, Old Louisiana, 305. 



160 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

is a recent formation of land by deposite from the muddy 
water of floods, until it gradually rises so far above low- 
water mark as to make good pasture land, and at length 
is enclosed by a levee for cultivation. Mr. C. has some 70 
or 80 head of horned cattle, among which are some very 
good shorthorns for this part of the country, though not 
at all to be compared to this breed at the north. He also 
has a flock of some 150 sheep that are much above the 
average quality of the south. 

In his lawn in front of his house, Mr. C. has had the 
good taste to plant specimens of all the forest trees native 
to his region, among which I noticed the live oak, the 
water oak, the willow oak, the white oak, the yellow oak, 
the chincapin oak, the cypress, the sycamore, (Platanus,) 
red elm, slippery elm, sweet gum, (Liquidambar), cotton 
wood, pecan nut, white ash, hackberry, and many others. 
To these might be added the pride of China, now almost 
ever present upon every plantation of the south. 

About one half of the planters along my ride today 
have done grinding, (or, "rolling," as it is most com- 
monly called,) their cane, while others have suspended 
operations on account of the long-continued rains that 
have fallen of late. 

I passed the night with Mr. William B. Walker, son-in- 
law and partner of Mr, Johnson, whom I mentioned as 
having abandoned his cotton lands, and put his negroes 
to raising sugar. Mr. W. has great faith in the opinion 
that bagasse cannot be disposed of in any way so eco- 
nomically as in the chimneys. He thinks that manure is 
an injury to his land rather than a benefit. Three years 
ago, he manured a field of sweet potatoes which all run 
to vines. The next year, he planted the same ground with 
sugar cane, which grew large and watery, and lodged so 
badly that the yield was not so good as upon the land ad- 
joining, that never had been manured. 

Noticing some very pure water on the table, and know- 
ing that the river was very muddy just now, I inquired 
how it was purified. This I found was done by pounding 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1848 161 

a handful of peach kernels and throwing them into a 
cask of water, which soon caused it to settle. Almond 
kernels will effect the same. 

At Iberville Church, December 16th, I saw the first 
growing cane on the estate of Dr. Pritchard,^ who came 
here from Connecticut about 30 years ago, and after 
much persevering toil, has finally got a very beautiful 
residence, and an excellent plantation, which is kept in 
admirable good order. For several miles below Dr. P., 
the coast is lined with small planters, a few of whom try 
to make a little crop of sugar with the old primitive horse 
mill, which is as great a contrast to the modern steam 
mill, as the people are to the modern class of sugar 
planters. 

To-day, December 18th, I dined with Mr. Robert C. 
Camp,- who keeps from 200 to 500 sheep for the purpose 
of feeding mutton to his people, which he finds a very 
healthy diet. The wool is quite a secondary object with 
him, as it is with nearly all who keep sheep along the 
banks of the Mississippi, some of whom actually give it 
away for shearing, boarding the shearers in the bargain. 
Mr. C. has always found his flock healthy, except the foot 
rot. The sheep also increase very rapidly all along this 
coast, as they breed freely at all seasons of the year. It 
may seem surprising to the people east, that planters do 
not raise more sheep for mutton, even if the wool is not 
worth saving; but the fact is, mutton is altogether too 
light a diet for negroes. They want nothing more deli- 
cate than good, fat mess pork. 

' Dr. J. Pritchard contributed an article on "The Degeneration 

of the Sugar-Cane," to Report of the Commissioner of Patents, 
1849, pt. 2:423-24. 

" Robert C. Camp, one of the larger sugar producers, but not an 
employer of the most up-to-date manufacturing processes. Oper- 
ated the Indian Camp plantation, Iberville Parish, ninety-six miles 
above New Orleans. Champomier, Statement of the Sugar Crop 
Made in Louisiana, 1849; Pike, Coast-Directory; map of Planta- 
tions on the Mississippi River; "Directory of the Planters of 
Louisiana and Mississippi," in Cohen's New Orleans Directory, 
1855, p. 320. 



162 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

The next place below Mr. Camp's, that I visited, be- 
longs to the Messrs. Tilotson.^ From the river to their 
sugar house, a distance of two miles and a quarter, they 
have laid down a cedar railway, at a cost of $2,500, for 
the purpose of conveying their sugar and molasses for 
shipment. But whether it will prove profitable is a 
mooted point.^ Others have tried the like, and have given 
it up as a bad job. These gentlemen having been brought 
up in a hay country at the north, think that they cannot 
do without dry fodder here. So, every winter, they put 
in some 30 acres of oats, harrowing the ground smooth 
at the time of sowing, and after the oats are harvested, 
they obtain a spontaneous crop of crab-grass hay, which 
is very good, if mowed early, being the only kind of grass 
that they can cultivate with advantage. 

After leaving Messrs. Tilotsons, December 19th, I 
passed several very fine places, among which were those 
of William Miner,^ John Miner,^ Henry Dogal,'^ (one of 
the oldest, largest, and most successful sugar planters in 

^ Messrs. S. & R. Tillotson, sugar planters of New River, Ascen- 
sion Parish, Louisiana. In a letter of January 3, 1850, Mr. S. 
Tillotson mentions the adoption of new machinery which permitted 
the making of the entire crop into white sugar, direct from the 
cane juice. Cultivator, n.s. 7:119 (March, 1850). 

' This railroad is described in a letter of December 30, 1849, to 
the Cultivator. At that time the Tillotsons estimated that the 
stock paid fifty per cent per annum, and that the road would last 
twenty years. The letter concluded : "Let us have a railroad all the 
way from New-York to New-Orleans — then v/here could the Union 
be divided? Ibid., n.s. 7:148 (April, 1850). 

^ William John Minor, of Southdown, Houma, Louisiana, born 
in 1808; died in 1869. His half-sister, Martha Minor, married 
William Kenner, a close relative of Duncan and George Kenner. 
Arthur and Kernion, Old Families of Louisiava, 363. 

■* John Minor, son of William John and Rebecca Gustine Minor. 
Ibid. 

° A Henry Doyle is listed in the "Statement of sugar made in 
Louisiana, in 1844," Appendix 13, Annual Report of the Commis- 
sioner of Patents, 1845, p. 880, as owner of a plantation between 
John Minor and T. P. Minor, Ascension Parish. The plantation 
sugar output is listed as 1.539 hogsheads, as against 812 hogsheads 
for William J. Minor, and 350 hogsheads for the Tillotsons. 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1848 163 

the state,) Duncan F. Kenner,^ and of General H. B. 
Trist,^ brother to the much celebrated "Don Nicholas,"^ 
of Mexican treaty memory. General T. is not one of 
those who think it useless to read agricultural works, be- 
cause they happen to be printed at the north ; but, on the 
contrary, his library is well stored with such publications 
as it is for the interest of the sugar planter to consult. 

Solon Robinson. 

Agricultural Tour South and West. — No. 6. 

[New York American Agriculturist, 8:177-79; June, 1849] 

[December 28, 1848] 

The Ormond Plantation. — This is the name of the 
Messrs. McCatchon's place.* It is the custom of the coun- 

' Duncan F. Kenner, born in Louisiana, 1813. Half owner with 
his brother, George R. Kenner, of Ashland plantation, and later 
sole owner. Elected to the Confederate Congress. Minister to 
France from the Confederate Government to induce recogni- 
tion for the seceding states. Vice-president of the Louisiana Agri- 
cultural and Mechanics' Association, 1844. Probably the largest 
slaveholder in the South. He died in 1887. Nashville Agricultur- 
ist, 5:17 (1844); Arthur and Kernion, Old Families of Louisiana, 
159-60. George R. Kenner was born in 1812. After selling his in- 
terest in Ashland, he purchased a Kentucky estate opposite Cin- 
cinnati. He later moved to Texas, and died in 1853. 

' General Hore Browse Trist, of Bowdon, Ascension Parish. Born 
in Washington, D. C, March 19, 1802; died November 16, 1856. 
He and his elder brother, Nicholas Philip Trist, were wards of 
President Jefferson and were reared at Monticello. Commander in 
chief of the state troops of Louisiana. Ibid., 429. 

' Nicholas Philip Trist, lawyer, born June 2, 1800, at Charlottes- 
ville, Virginia; died at Alexandria, Virginia, February 11, 1874. 
Educated at United States Military Academy. First clerk of 
Treasury Department, 1828. Private secretary to President Jack- 
son, 1829. United States consul at Havana, 1834-1836. Assistant 
secretary of state, 1845. Peace commissioner to Mexico, 1848, 
where he negotiated and signed the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. 
Translated a treatise on "Milch Cows" from the French, 1857. 
Appletons' Cyclopiedia of American Biography, 6:161. 

* James W. and Stephen D. McCutcheon. The house, in St. 
Charles Parish, is illustrated and described in Saxon, Old Louisi- 
ana, 45, 295-97. See also Champomier, Statement of the Sugar 



164 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

try, in Louisiana, to give every plantation a name, as the 
country here is only divided off into parishes, which are 
equivalent to counties at the north; while the smaller 
subdivisions are known as points, bends, bayous, and by 
the names of the plantations. Ormond Plantation is 
among the oldest sugar estates in Louisiana, having been 
planted in cane upwards of forty years, by the father of 
this family, and two or three years before, by his brother- 
in-law, Mr. Butler, previous to which a little opening 
had been made by a Frenchman, who raised a little cot- 
ton, indigo, rice and corn. Part of the present mansion 
is the old house, near a hundred years old. Mr. Butler 
erected a horse mill, (a portion of the building is still in 
use,) which the late Mr. McCatchon used about twenty 
years, when he had the present engine and mill put up, 
and enlarged his sugar house to suit the necessities of 
the increasing crop. 

The place now contains 1,600 arpents, (about one sev- 
enth less than the English and American acre,) of land, 
850 of which is in cultivation, and from which this family 
have made 120,000 hogsheads of sugar, and an average of 
50 gallons of molasses to each hogshead ; that is, 200,000 
barrels, or six million of gallons, a sea of treacle sufficient 
to supply all New England with thanksgiving pumpkin 
pies, at least one year; and then have enough to furnish 
gingerbread for all the "muster days" besides. The last 
crop upon the place was about 550 hogsheads. (In all my 
statements I shall consider the hogshead 1,000 lbs., that 
being the understood weight of a commercial hogshead 
of sugar.) When I was there at Christmas, they had not 
finished making, and the cane from old land was yielding 
two hogsheads to the acre, or rather arpents, as the terms 
are promiscuously applied, but always mean the latter. 

Crop made in Louisiana, 1849; Pike, Coast-Directory, map of 
Plantations on the Mississippi River; "Directory of the Planters 
of Louisiana and Mississippi," in Cohen's New Orleans Directory, 
1855, p. 342. Stephen D. McCutcheon was a delegate from the 
parish to the Southern and Western Railroad Convention, New 
Orleans, January, 1852. De Bow's Review, 12:306 (March, 1852). 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1848 165 

This good yield they attribute to subsoil plowing, which 
Mr. James McCatchon told me was worth thousands of 
dollars a year to them. Another thing, they never bum 
trash, (cane tops and leaves,) but plow all in and let 
it rot. 

To give some idea of the enormous amount of ditching 
upon a sugar plantation, I will state some items. There 
are upon this place near 100 miles of leading and cross 
ditches. The water of these is taken up by three leading 
canals, some three miles long, and large enough for a con- 
siderable boat, that lead the water back through the 
swamp to a bayou, and thence into Amite River and Lake 
Maurepas. Then, there is the levee and public road, a 
mile and a half long, with a ditch on each side, and about 
25 miles of plantation roads and two hundred bridges, all 
to be kept in order. The leading ditches, running from 
the levee in straight lines back to the swamp, are about 
three feet deep, and 80 to 100 feet apart, and all have to 
be cleaned out once or twice a year. The cross ditches 
are not so deep nor so near together. If you should object 
to the amount of ground taken up by roads and ditches, 
you will be told that it is no loss to the cane crop, as it 
needs the circulation of the air that these spaces give. The 
roads are ditched on each side and handsomely graded, 
and when smooth and dry, form most delightful drives. 
The ground occupied by roads is not lost for a crop. Upon 
many of them, as soon after the "rolling season" is over, 
as they can be smoothed off and ditches cleaned out, a 
crop of oats is sown, which are mowed for hay, and after- 
wards a crop of crab grass is harvested upon all the 
roads, ditch banks, and open spots, which makes very 
good hay, a large quantity of which is required, although 
there is really little or no winter to prevent cultivated 
grasses from growing; yet, they are not growing, be- 
cause, as it is said, the summer sun kills them. The only 
winter grass of any consequence in the fore part of the 
winter months is white clover ; and the only pasture land 
is the levee, road, and "batture" in front. In some places 



166 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

"batture" is very extensive; and when not covered vi^ith 
high water, is very valuable for pasturage. Upon some 
plantations a fair portion of land is devoted to pasture 
ground, while upon others they can't affort it; and so the 
whole stock must be fed with hay or fodder, (corn 
blades,) and corn. This is why the consumption of corn 
will appear so enormous in some of the statements that I 
shall give by and by. 

There are upon this place 190 negroes, old and young, 
about half of which are counted as "field hands." The 
team is 60 mules and 40 yoke of oxen, though the latter 
are but little used except to haul wood out of the swamp ; 
and there, too, they get a good portion of their living. 
Some six or eight family horses are also kept. There are 
in use, 40 carts, wagons, and drays. Some of the carts 
are enormous vehicles of the kind, though no more so 
than is common elsewhere. Some work them with three 
mules abreast, which is most common ; but here they are 
worked with one in the shafts and two ahead. The wheels 
are often six feet high, and stronger and heavier made 
than New-England ox carts. 

The wagons are equally strong, with beds made to hold 
100 bushels, and to tip out the loads. This brings an un- 
due weight upon the hind wheels, which is very great 
when full loaded with cane, and very injurious to bridges 
and roads. The plan of setting the beds upon the railroad 
plan, so as to sit fair and equal upon fore and hind wheels, 
and shove back to tilt, would obviate this trouble. 

The number of plows of all kinds upon this place, is 
too great to keep count of. It is common to plow with 
four to six stout mules, and then follow with the subsoil 
plow. It is the intention of the Messrs. McCatchon to sub- 
soil all the land planted in cane; and they often run a 
smaller subsoil plow upon each side of the "rattoons." 
These are canes growing from the old roots the 2d and 
3d, and sometimes the 4th year. This, they think, facili- 
tates drainage, which is one of the all-important things 
to be attended to on a Louisiana sugar plantation. Deep 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1848 167 

plowing, they think, keeps the coco grass in check, besides 
all its other advantages. They also make great use of the 
pea vine to renovate and improve their soil. I first saw 
here an instrument called a "sword," to cut pea vines 
when plowing them under. I will, hereafter, give a draw- 
ing of this implement, and the manner of attaching it to 
the plow. 

Everj^thing about this place, not only indicates wealth, 
but judgment, skill, and taste. The negro cabins are all 
good, substantial, neat, brisk houses, some thirty in num- 
ber, all of the same size, colored yellow, to correspond 
with the mansion, standing in an enclosed lot, with the 
overseer's house, tool houses, corn cribs, &c. The negroes 
I found all neatly dressed, and fine, healthy, happy labor- 
ers. The "cane cutters," thirty-six in number, all in blue 
woollen shirts, with their formidable-looking weapons, 
the cane knives, were quite a "uniform company," that 
might do the state some service in times of peril. 

I did intend to describe the Christmas dinner, but I am 
taking up quite too much room. I must, however, men- 
tion the turkey fatted upon pecan nuts, as the finest I 
ever ate. The turkey is shut in a small, dark coop, and 
fed upon cracked nuts ten or twelve days, and nothing 
else. We also had a quarter of a young bear, from a 
friend over the river, and green peas, beans, tomatoes, 
beets, carrots, lettuce, and radishes, all fresh from the 
garden. 

The Messrs. McCatchon have a great variety of young 
fruit trees, and formerly oranges grew here abundantly. 
In 1822, a hard freeze killed the trees, and again in 1834. 
At the latter time the family took "a sleigh ride." Every- 
thing was encased in ice. Flowers and oranges, in their 
crystal coating, glistened in the sun like enchanted scenes 
in the gardens of fairy land. All was bright and beauti- 
ful, but it was the beauty of death. Apples have been 
tried and always failed. In the back yard of the house 
are two live oaks, that Mr. McCatchon planted about 40 
years ago, that are now two of the finest shade trees I 



168 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

ever saw. About eight or ten feet from the ground, the 
limbs begin to spread out and extend 40 or 50 feet from 
the body, forming a very thick, handsome, round top. 

At this place, I first learned the value of bagasse as 
fuel. Here is a very well-arranged plan of saving and 
burning it, a full and minute description of which I will 
give in my articles upon sugar culture. This year, 350 
hhds. were made with this, alone, for fuel under the 
kettles. 

This land, which has been so long in cultivation, and 
still brings good crops, offers strong evidence of the last- 
ing fertility of the Mississippi soil, when treated only in 
a decent manner. Of course, it is impossible to manure 
a sugar plantation in the way that some small tracts of 
grass and grain land at the north are; and it is not re- 
quired, if the same system was universal that prevails 
here, of deep plowing and turning under trash and pea 
vines, and the use of the subsoil plow and thorough ditch- 
ing, with judicious changes from corn to cane, and good 
use of all the manure that can be made. Sugar may be 
continued to be made from the same land, "even unto the 
third and fourth generation." 

I intended to call upon Judge Rost,^ whose place is next 
below Messrs. McCatchons', but he was absent. He is 
one of the few planters who study science to apply it to 
practical operations of planting sugar cane. He has a 
draining machine upon his place, driven by steam. I was 

* Pierre Adolphe Rost, soldier and jurist, born in France, 1797; 
died September 6, 1868. Immigrated to United States in 1816, first 
settling at Natchez, where he taught school and studied law. Later 
moved to Louisiana. Sei*ved in the state legislature of Louisiana 
and as one of the judges of the supreme court. Gave important 
addresses on the culture and manufacture of sugar before the 
Louisiana Agricultural and Mechanics' Association, and contrib- 
uted articles to the Monthly Journal of Agriculture and The 
Plough, the Loom, and the Anvil. In 1862 was sent to Spain as 
commissioner for the Confederacy. National Cyclopaedia of Ameri- 
can Biography, 11:468. Besides the sugar plantation in St. Charles 
Parish, Judge Rost owned a cotton plantation on the Red River. 
See De Bow's Review, 6:296-99 (October and November, 1848). 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1848 169 

also unlucky in not meeting either of the Messrs. Kenner, 
very enterprising and large planters, between Ormond 
and Carrolton, the latter of which is connected with this 
city by a railroad six miles long. 

The first acquaintance I made in New Orleans, was Mr. 
Stephen Franklin,^ now conducting the agricultural ware- 
house, established in that city by R. L. Allen, and where 
every kind of implement used in the cultivation of the soil 
can be obtained. Mr. F. is an eastern man, but has been 
so long a resident here, that he is like one "to the manor 
born." He was formerly a cotton merchant, and is exten- 
sively acquainted in the city and country. I commend my 
friends to him, as a very pleasant and useful acquaint- 
ance. 

Mr. R. L. Allen, in his "Letters from the South," has 
given statistical tables, to show the amount of agricultural 
produce annually shipped to and through New Orleans.^ 
But one might just as well undertake to show the magni- 
tude of the ocean, and the fearful raging of the storm at 
sea, by filling a junk bottle with salt water, and shaking 
it before the eyes of his pupil, as to try to give an idea of 
the business upon the levee here, by a string of words and 
figures. It must be seen, to be believed ; and even then, it 
will require an active mind to comprehend acres of cotton 
bales standing upon the levee, while miles of drays are 
constantly taking it off to the cotton presses, where the 
power of steam and screws are constantly being applied 
to compress the bales into a lesser bulk, at an almost in- 
conceivable rate per day, while all around are piled up in 
miniature mountains, which other miles of drays are tak- 
ing on shipboard, and yet seem unable to reduce in size 
or quantity, either here or upon the levee; for boats are 
constantly arriving, so piled up with cotton, that the 
lower tier of bales on deck are in the water; and as the 

^ Stephen Franklin, agent for the New Orleans Agricultural 
Warehouse, located at the corner of Magazine and Poydras streets. 
His residence was at 139 Rampart Street. Cohen's Ne^v Orleans 
Directory, 1849. 

* See ATnerican Agriculturist, 6:124-25 (April, 1847). 



170 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

boat is approaching, it looks like a huge raft of cotton 
bales, with the chimneys and steam pipe of an engine 
sticking up out of the centre. And this is but one item of 
one branch of the produce business of New Orleans. 

The whole fields of sugar hogsheads, molasses, pork, 
beef, flour, lard, oil, rice, meal, apples, and whiskey bar- 
rels, and bags of corn, oats, rye, barley, wheat, beans, 
peas, bran, potatoes, and cotton seed, bundles of hay, to- 
gether with every other conceivable thing that ever grew 
out of the earth, are in such wonderful quantities, that 
the stranger is overwhelmed in wonder to know from 
whence cometh all this mighty mass of the products of 
the earth. It is utterly impossible to remove the daily 
accumulations as fast as they arrive; and at night, and 
every night, acres of such things as the weather might 
damage, are covered over with tarpaulin cloths, and 
guarded by watchmen. The time is rapidly coming, such 
is the vast increase of production in the fertile soil of the 
Mississippi Valley, when the whole river front will be 
insufficient to accommodate the shipping trade of the city, 
and slips will have to be cut into the land; and great 
basins, or docks, like those of Liverpool and London, will 
have to be made, to give room for the giant of commerce 
to expand his young limbs. Or, perhaps, a great ship 
canal, from the river to the lake, will not be thought to be 
a visionary notion, at some future time; or a canal that 
shall leave the river at Carrolton, and encircle the present 
city, and enter the river again below, which would give 
three times the landing room that there now is, will not 
be considered half so wild a scheme, as did the idea to 
some of the ancient inhabitants of New Orleans, of build- 
ing houses in the swamp where now stands the St. 
Charles Hotel, and half the business part of the second 
municipality. 

But let us leave speculation of what New Orleans is 
to be, for who knoweth, and proceed with facts. I have 
only given these notes just for the sake of trying to give 
some who have never seen the elephant, an idea of the 
immensity of the animal. Solon Robinson. 

New Orleans, Dec. 2Sth, 1848. 







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SOLON ROBINSON, 1848 171 

Agricultural Tour South and West. — No. 7. 

[New York American Agriculturist, 8:219-20; July, 1849] 

[December 29, 1848] 

Having spent a night with Dr. Bingay,^ at whose house 
the reader will bear in mind I stopped over to rest. It 
was here that I saw the coco grass, mentioned in a former 
letter, as growing out of the top of a sugar-house chim- 
ney. The Doctor is a small planter, and has just erected 
a new horse mill, of which I shall speak more particularly 
hereafter. He is a practicing physician, and I believe a 
very well-informed man, full of activity and enterprise. 
But as I shall have occasion to speak of the Doctor again, 
let us ride on. 

The next place worthy of note, is that of Col. Preston,^ 
of South Carolina, son-in-law of the late Gen. Hampton. 
It is a part of the "Houmas Grant," the other part being 
owned by his brother-in-law Col. Manning.^ Col. P. has 

'Dr. J. P. Bingay (spelled also Binguet), in 1849 operator of a 
small sugar plantation in Ascension Parish on the east side of the 
Mississippi, just south of the Bowdon plantation, owned by the 
Trist family. In the middle fifties and after, apparently operated 
a sugar plantation in St. James Parish, sixty-six miles above New 
Orleans. Champomier, Statement of the Sugar Crop Made in 
Louisiana, 1849; Pike, Coast-Directory ; map of Plantations on the 
Mississippi River; "Directory of the Planters of Louisiana and Mis- 
sissippi," in Cohen's New Orleans Directory, 1855, p. 317. 

'John Smith Preston, born near Abingdon, Virginia, April 20, 
1809; died at Columbia, South Carolina, May 1, 1881. Married 
Caroline Hampton in 1830. Moved to South Carolina; then to 
Louisiana. Engaged extensively in sugar planting. Built Burn- 
side plantation house in 1840. Ardent secessionist. Joined staff 
of General Beauregard in 1861; later transferred to conscript de- 
partment with rank of brigadier general. Lamb's Biographical 
Dictionary of the United States, 6:346 (Boston, 1903) ; Saxon, Old 
Louisiana, 303-4; Spratling, William P., and Scott, Natalie, Old 
Plantation Houses in Louisiayia, 46-49 (New Yoi'k, 1927). 

' Colonel John Laurence Manning, born at Hickory Hill, Claren- 
don County, South Carolina, January 29, 1816; died at Camden, 
South Carolina, October 29, 1889. Married Susan Frances Hamp- 
ton. For several years conducted a sugar plantation in Louisiana, 
but subsequently returned to South Carolina and resided at Sum- 



172 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

about 2,000 arpents, under cultivation, and 350 hands in 
the field and 750 in all, upon the place, under the manage- 
ment of Capt. Sheafer, a very intelligent and pleasant 
gentleman. It takes 150 horses and mules to work this 
place, which is rather under the usual number upon other 
plantations. The last crop, which he considers "almost a 
failure," was 1,100 hogsheads of sugar. ^ All the land on 
the river is measured by arpents, which contain, within 
a small fraction of 18 per cent, less than an acre. 

I counted in one "quarter," (the name given to the ne- 
gro houses,) upwards of 30 double cabins, all neatly 
whitewashed frame houses, with brick chimneys, built in 
regular order upon both sides of a wide street, and which 
is the law, must be kept in a perfect state of cleanliness. 
Feeding the force on this place is not quite equal to feed- 
ing an army, but it takes nine barrels of pork every week, 
which, at an average of $10, is $4,680, per annum, cash 
out, for that item alone. The regular allowance of pork 
to all field hands, is four pounds, clear of bone, per week, 
with as much corn meal as they can eat, besides molasses, 
sweet potatoes, vegetables, and occasional extras of fresh 
beef and mutton. Children's rations, IV^ pounds of pork 
per week, and full supply of other things. This place 
being in a bend of the river, the front is comparitively 
very narrow, (34 arpents, or about 28 to a mile,) and 
"opens out," as the lines run back, like a fan, which is 
the way that all the lands were originally laid off. On 
points, on the contrary, the lines run together in the rear, 
the fan opening the other end foremost. 

ter. Served in South Carolina legislature. Governor of South 
Carolina, 1852-1854. On staff of General Beauregard during Civil 
War. Elected to United States Senate from South Carolina, 1865, 
but with other southern senators, not allowed to take his seat. 
Lamb's Biographical Dictionary of the United States, 5:346-47. 



' According to the "Statement of sugar made in Louisiana, in 
1844," Annual Report of the Commissioner of Patents, 1845, pp. 
880 and 881, Colonel Preston's plantation on the right side of the 
river, Ascension Parish, produced 358 hogsheads of sugar. His 
plantation on the left side of the river produced 1,966 hogsheads. 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1848 173 

An ox-breaking machine, I saw at Dr. Wilkins',^ con- 
sists of a pole about ten or twelve feet long, fastened on 
top of a stump by a bolt, so it will turn round freely, the 
steer being fastened at the other end with a strong bow, 
and having a rope fastened around his loins and to the 
pole, he is left to go round and round, until, on being 
taken out next day and yoked in the team, he is ready 
and willing to go ahead. Dr. W., who has this machine, 
says he copied it from some agricultural paper, and as he 
owns a large steam sawmill, and has a great many steers 
to break every year, he would not be without it for a hun- 
dred dollars a year. But still, to use it, is "book farm- 
ing." Perhaps a little more such book farming would be 
economy. He also says that bleeding a horse until he 
faints and falls, will cure the worst case of colic, and not 
injure the horse. [Doubted. — Eds.] Although he owns 
a thousand acres of cypress swamp, the difficulty of get- 
ting the lumber out, unless he should first dig a canal, is 
so great that he buys all his logs in rafts that come down 
the river. Lumber is worth $12 to $30 a thousand. He 
has in operation at his mill, a stave-making machine, that 
makes six to eight staves a minute. It is the same kind 
of machine, I believe, patented and in use in the state of 
New York, and in this sugar region where so many bar- 
rels and hogsheads are used, it ought to be in general use. 
I commend it to the attention of planters. They can easily 
see it in operation, and learn its labor-saving powers. 

Mr. Fagot,^ a very polite French gentleman, whose first 

* Possibly Dr. William F. Wilkins, engineer and sugar maker, 
Opelousas, Louisiana, who contributed an article to the March, 
1852, issue of De Bow's Review (12:286-87). 

^ Charles Fagot de la Garciniere, planter of St. James Parish, 
born August 30, 1793, at his father's plantation in the Attakapas 
country at Isle de Cypres; died in New Iberia, August 13, 1872. 
Dropped the de la Garciniere from his name. As orderly sergeant, 
fought in the battle of New Orleans with the United States Army. 
Sold his plantation on Isle de Cypres in 1850 and moved to New 
Orleans. Surveyor of Customs for port of Pontchartrain, from 
1853 until his death. Arthur and Kernion, Old Families of Louisi- 
ana, 409-10. 



174 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

inquiry after introducing myself, as is almost always the 
case at that particular time of day, "have you dined?" 
has a brick-drying shed, under which he can dry 30,000 
at once, upon the "bearing-off-boards," put on slats fas- 
tened to posts. By this plan, he can have the shed filled 
with bricks at odd times through the summer, which may 
be burnt when ready. Owing to the very frequent show- 
ers in this country, brick making is a very "catching busi- 
ness," but by this plan, all that trouble and loss is obvi- 
ated. 

Mr. F's place is a short distance above the "convent,"^ 
in St. James' parish, which is a very imposing looking 
structure, or rather structures, neatly formed and where 
a large school is kept; and where all looks in a healthy, 
flourishing condition. This was a state-fostered institu- 
tion, and is said to have cost near half a million of dollars. 

Along the road, the small Creole places are thick as 
"three in a bed," — all the tracts being 40 arpents deep, 
and the reluctance of old families to sell out, has caused 
divisions and subdivisions among heirs until the land is 
thrown into a shape almost worthless, as I have already 
mentioned. Fancy a farm three rods wide, and 480 rods 
deep, and if you like it here is a lot on 'em. 

My entertainer at night was a French gentleman by 
the name of Ferry,^ where I found a small house well fur- 

^ Jefferson College at Convent, St. James Parish, Incorporated 
February 28, 1831, by A. B. Roman, Valcour Aime, J. H. Shepard, 
and others, was the first institution in the state for the higher 
education of young men. It burned in 1842, was reopened, and 
again forced to close, in 1859, on account of debt. It was pur- 
chased by Aime for twenty thousand dollars, and reopened in 1861, 
under legislative charter. In 1864 it was purchased by the Marist 
Fathers, and prospered, remaining active until 1927 when it was 
discontinued. Fortier, Alcee, Louisiana . . . , 1:606-9 (Southern 
Historical Association, Atlanta, 1909). 

^ A. Ferry operated Bourbon sugar plantation, one of the larger 
plantations then using improved equipment. Champomier, State- 
ment of the Sugar Crop Made in Louisiana, 1849; Pike, Coast- 
Directory; map of Plantations on the Mississippi River; "Direc- 
tory of the Planters of Louisiana and Mississippi," in Cohen's New 
Orleans Directory, 1855, p. 328. 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1848 175 

nished, standing separate from the dwelling, in which to 
lodge travellers, where all their wants are as well cared 
for as though it were in a hotel. 

Among the beautiful plantations passed, was that of 
"Golden Grove," belonging to C, M. Shepherd,^ Esq., for 
which I would willingly exchange all my interest in the 
California golden groves, or "placers." The most of the 
interest of a visit to this splendid plantation, was lost by 
not meeting the owner, whose character as a planter and 
as a gentleman of taste and refinement, stands very high. 
A few miles below, is the plantation of Dr. Loughborough,^ 
on the point, which, owing to the shape of the tract, as 
before mentioned, has no woodland, and where I saw the 
whole force of the estate at work "catching drift;" a job 
of no small amount upon a place making 500 hogsheads 
of sugar, as that alone would consume, at least, 2,000 
cords of wood of the usual quality of drift. The process 
of catching drift is by sending out a skiff, which fastens 
a rope to a whole tree, perhaps, and a very large one too, 
sometimes, and towing the prize ashore. One end of a 
chain cable is made fast to it, and the other to a powerful 
capstan, turned by horses or mules. I say powerful, for 
I saw them snap the chain like threads, when getting hold 
of "an old settler," before they could get it upon the beach 
far enough to take off a cut, which is done, cut after cut, 
until they are able to pull out the remainder. This may 
seem a very precarious way of supplying a large planta- 
tion with fuel, and yet it is the only dependence of many. 

* The plantation of C. M. Shepherd was fifty miles above New 
Orleans, partly in St. James and partly in St. John the Baptist 
Parish. It was one of the largest sugar plantations in the state, 
and had the distinction of possessing two sugar houses. Champo- 
mier, op. cit.; Pike, op. cit.; map of Plantations on the Mississippi 
River; "Directory of the Planters of Louisiana and Mississippi," 
op. cit., 353. 

" Dr. J. H. Loughborough, operator of Esperance sugar planta- 
tion, in upper St. John the Baptist Parish, forty-six miles above 
New Orleans. Loughborough did not make use of the most modern 
equipment. Ibid., 341; Champomier, op. cit.; Pike, op. cit.; map 
of Plantations on the Mississippi River. 



176 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

Formerly, it was a tolerably easy method, but of late, 
there are so many hundreds of persons whose whole in- 
come is derived from this source, besides the great 
amount required by plantations, that the supply is hardly 
sufficient to meet the demand, and a great deal of very 
poor stuff is now caught with avidity, that, in those good 
old times of plenty, would have been despised. 

On my way, I called on my old friend and acquaintance, 
David Adams. ^ As is the general custom among the plant- 
ers in the "rolling season," he eats and sleeps in the sugar 
house. I am well satisfied that the "Mayor of Pittsburg," 
who is a brother of Mr. Adams, did not enjoy a more 
pleasant dinner than was our sugar-house fare that day. 
Mr. A. says that he made 60 bushels of corn to the arpent 
upon one piece, this year, of a choice white kind, by ma- 
nuring and deep plowing, which is three times the usual 
crop. His molasses cisterns are of cement, plastered di- 
rectly upon the pit dug in the earth, which he thinks pref- 
erable to brick work. As he has had to catch or buy fuel, 
he has made a part of his crop this season, as an experi- 
ment, with Pittsburg coal, and is well satisfied with the 
result. He mixes a small portion of wood under his ket- 
tles with the coal, which he thinks should always be done. 
Out of the many planters and farmers, whose early life 
was spent in other pursuits and who afterwards made 
successful tillers of the soil, although mere book farmers, 
Mr. A. may justly be ranked. 

Among other enterprising and improving Creole plant- 
ers, Mons. Boudousquie,^ below Mr. Adams', deserves 

^ David Adams, owner of a sugar plantation forty-six miles 
above New Orleans, later known as New Hope. Used the most 
improved equipment. Map of Plantations on the Mississippi River; 
Champomier, Statement of the Sugar Crop Made in Louisiana, 
1849; Pike, Coast Directory; "Directory of the Planters of 
Louisiana and Mississippi," in Cohen's New Orleans Directory, 
1855, p. 313. 

^ Antoine Boudousquie, owner of an extensive sugar plantation 
in St. John the Baptist Parish, known as Reserve. Used im- 
proved machinery. Boudousquie was born in New Orleans about 
1803, graduated from the old University of New Orleans, served 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1848 177 

mention, as does Mr. Felix Reine,^ in whose garden I 
found a great abundance of very large and most delicious 
sweet oranges, which are rendered quite unsaleable, even 
at the low price of 40 cents a hundred, by the alarm of 
cholera in New Orleans, with the idea that indulgence in 
fruit is dangerous. 

Mr. J. Gasset,- from Kentucky, at Bonnet-Carre Bend, 
with whom I spent a night, lives in the house built by the 
old Spanish Commandante, 70 years ago, which is still in 
a sound condition. It is built of red cypress, which is as 
much more durable than white, as is red cedar more dur- 
able than white cedar. Mr. G. has the first draining ma- 
chine that I have met with. It is a steam engine and 
wheel which elevates the water five feet, and cost $5,000. 
He has 600 acres in cultivation, ditched every half arpent 
(about 100 feet). The machine works on an average 
about three days a week, at an expense of 300 cords of 
wood a year, which is worth $2 to $3 a cord, and one hand 
to tend. If run constantly, it would drain 500 acres. Mr. 
G. has plenty of wood, but it is in a wet swamp and trou- 
blesome to get out. He has used green bagasse to boil 
sugar, as he thinks to advantage, by mixing it with half 
the usual quantity of wood. The cost of drainage would 
be greatly lessened, if a united interest could be brought 

many years in the lower house of the state legislature, was a 
member of the Constitutional Convention of 1844-1845, and later 
served in the state senate. Although an old-line Whig, was 
elected by a Democratic constituency. "Brief Biographical 
Sketches of Members of the Convention," in New Orleans Daily 
Picayune, September 1, 1844; Louisiana House Journal, 1837- 
1844; Senate Journal, 1850; Journal of the Constitutional Con- 
vention of Louisiana, 1844-1845; "Directory of the Planters of 
Louisiana and Mississippi," op. cit., 318. 



* Felix Reine, probably a member of "Marin Reine & Co.," own- 
ei*s of a sugar plantation in St. John the Baptist Parish at Bon- 
net Carre Bend, thirty-nine miles above New Orleans, Used 
improved machinery. Ibid., 350; Champomier, op. cit.; Pike, op. 
cit.; map of Plantations on the Mississippi River. 

* Probably J. Gosset, of Hollingsworth and Gosset, owners of a 
large sugar plantation on the east side of the Mississippi River 
at Bonnet Carre Bend. Pike, op. cit. 



178 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

to systematize a great work of the kind. Time and in- 
creased value of the lands will bring this about, and make 
this "great swamp state," one of the gardens of the world. 
Canals will be made as common as in Holland, and a simi- 
lar system adopted to get rid of the surplus water. More 
than half of the area of the state is susceptible of having 
a navigable canal made to pass through every plantation. 
When this is done, the draining machines would empty 
the canals, and keep the surface of land that is now ten or 
twelve feet below flood height of water in the Mississippi, 
in a perfectly dry and fit state of tillage, at a far less ex- 
pense, per acre, than is now incurred by the imperfect 
individual system. "Union is strength," and that is the 
only kind that can control the floods of such a "great 
father of rivers," with so many obstreperous children. 

Solon Robinson. 
Neiu Orleans, Dec. 2dth, 1848. 

Agricultural Tour South and West. — No. 4 

[January 12, 1849^] 

Mr. Robinson's Tour. — No. 8. 

[New York American Agriculturist, 8:252-54; Aug., 1849] 

[January 16, 1849] 

Louisiana. — On my way down the coast, to-day, from 
Algiers, opposite New Orleans, I first saw cane planting. 
The ground, which had corn upon it last summer, was 
broken up with four yoke of oxen, and thrown into beds 
eight feet from centre to centre, and a furrow opened in 
these with a double plow, followed by a triangular block 
of wood, to press out all the lumps, and make a wide, 
smooth furrow, into which the canes were carefully laid 
in double rows, and lightly covered with hoes. A great 
abundance of cuttings are used to insure a good stand. It 
requires one acre of growing cane to plant five acres. 

^ This article, written January 12, 1849, but covering Robinson's 
travels of December 9 to 15, 1848, is printed ante, 146 ff. 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1849 179 

J. P. Benjamin, Esq.,^ 18 miles below the city, has yet 
forty acres of cane to grind. He has a complete Relieux 
apparatus,- and all the appurtenances for making refined 
loaf sugar, direct from the cane. The refinery is under 
the direction of his brother, who is very successful in the 
business, and is making as good an article as ever need be 
called for. ■ The expense of the refining apparatus was 
$33,000. By this process, the sugar is not only increased 
in value, but five sixths of the molasses is used up ; the 
remainder, that will not granulate, is sold as "sugarhouse 
molasses," which, though very thick and apparently good, 
"is really the poorest molasses in market. The mass of it 
is the glucose of the cane, with just saccharine enough to 
sweeten it. I saw here, in operation, one of Bogardus' 
eccentric mills,^ to grind sugar, and another to grind 
corn ; and both giving much satisfaction. 

Mr. Stephen D. McCutchon plows his land with three 
mules, planting 6I/-2 feet apart, and opens the planting 
furrow with a "fluke," instead of a three-cornered block. 
The fluke is a very large double moldboard, iron plow, 
drawn by two good mules. The moldboards are made of 
boiler iron, 314 feet long. He cuts his cane for planting, 

'Judah Philip Benjamin, lawyer, statesman, planter. Born on 
St. Thomas Island, British West Indies, August 6, 1811. Removed 
to Charleston, South Carolina; thence to New Orleans. His plan- 
tation was called Bellechasse. Contributed articles on the chem- 
istry of sugar to De Bow's Review, 1846 and 1848. Elected to state 
legislature, 1842; to United States Senate, 1852. Under the Con- 
federacy held the offices of attorney general (1860), secretary of 
war (1861), and secretary of state (1862). At the close of the 
Civil War, fled to the West Indies and then to England, where he 
became one of the most celebrated lawyers in that country. Wrote 
numerous treatises on law. Died in Paris, May 6, 1884. Diction- 
ary of American Biography, 2:181-86; Moody, Slavery on Louisi- 
ana Sugar Plantations, 43-44, 47, 50-51. 

^ Norbert Rillieux, of New Orleans, invented an apparatus for 
boiling sugar in vacuo. Its Introduction to the Louisiana planta- 
tions is described in the Annual Report of the Commissioner of 
Patents, 1848, pp. 328 fF. 

" "James Bogardus's Patent Eccentric Universal Mill," is de- 
scribed and illustrated in ibid., 1845, pp. 1144-48. 



180 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

all in pieces, two feet in length, being careful to strip off 
all leaves. He has, this year, manured 40 acres as an 
experiment. But he hauls his bagasse out upon the levee, 
and throws it away. 

Myrtle Grove, the next plantation below, owned by 
Messrs. Trufant and White,^ use about half of their 
bagasse for fuel. Mr, Trufant told me he could make 
steam with bagasse easier than with wood or coal. This 
plantation has no timber land. All back of the narrow 
strip in cultivation, is wet prairie, and would be very rich 
if drained. They have a canal twenty-two feet wide, 
three feet deep, and three miles long, to lead water away 
from their steam-draining machine, by which only can 
the back part of the land, now in cultivation, be kept free 
from water, by an engine of 10-horse power. The water 
is lifted from two to four feet by a paddle wheel twenty 
feet in diameter. This works only one day a week, burn- 
ing a cord and a half of wood, except in uncommon wet 
weather. The water, in the meantime, accumulates in 
the large leading ditch, on the back side of cultivated 
lands, two and a half miles long. Outside of these ditches, 
cattle are pastured on coarse prairie grass. The wood for 
this place has to be caught or bought, and is worth from 
$2.50 to $3 a cord. Coal is worth 20 cents per bushel. The 
cattle that run upon this prairie land, become almost am- 
phibious. They are fat in summer, and live through win- 
ter. None but the native, or Spanish cattle, which are 
really a very fine breed, can stand such fare, particularly 
with ten musquitos to every spear of grass they fish up 
from its watery bed. The soil of this place is unusually 
light, but has had the cream taken off by exhausting 
crops, without any return. Messrs. T. and W. purchased 

' J. L. White and Seth Trufant, operators of one of the larger 
sugar plantations, which was equipped with the most improved 
machinery. Myrtle Grove was thirty-one miles below New Or- 
leans in Plaquemines Parish. S. Trufant was also a commission 
merchant in New Orleans in 1849, located at 78 Magazine Street. 
Champomier, Statement of the Sugar Crop Made in Louisiana, 
1849; Cohen's New Orleans and Lafayette Directory, 1849, p. 175. 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1849 181 

the place last year, of Mr. Packwood,^ the elder, at $225,- 
000, with all on it. There are 8,000 arpents of land, 700 
in cultivation, 450 in cane last year, and 575 this year, 
balance corn, &c. ; 139 slaves; 80 field hands; 55 v^orking 
mules and horses ; 50 oxen ; 20 carts ; 40 plows ; 200 cattle, 
and a few sheep, but no hogs ; good sugar house and ma- 
chinery, with Relieux apparatus of three pans capable of 
making 12 to 14 hogsheads a day, or three hogsheads at 
a strike. The sugar house and machinery is valued at 
$50,000. The other buildings are good ; the negro houses 
built of brick, with elevated floors, 32 feet square, divided 
into four rooms, with chimney in the centre. There are 
twelve of these. The last crop was 700 hogsheads of clar- 
ified sugar, which usually sells, in hogsheads, from 5 to 6 
cents per pound. The molasses will not probably exceed 
20 gallons to the hogshead, if it does that. 

The next place below Myrtle Grove, is that of Col. 
Maunsel White,- heretofore described in the Agricultur- 
ist, by R. L. Allen. ^ His front fence, some three miles 
long, is made of three boards, whitewashed, upon posts 
set in a bank, upon which is a hedge, or rather thick row 
of sour orange trees, many of them loaded with fruit glit- 

* Samuel Packwood. Awarded a premium for the Rillieux process 
of loaf sugar and for the best rough sugar, 1846. American Agri- 
culturist, 4:30 (1844); Southern Cultivator, 6:136 (September. 
1848); De Bow's Review, 1:167 (February, 1846); 3:118 (Febru- 
ary, 1847). 

' Colonel Maunsel White, of Deer Range plantation on the Missis- 
sippi River, thirty-six miles below New Orleans. In 1801 came to 
New Orleans from Ireland. State senator from Plaquemines Par- 
ish, 1846. Administrator of the state university. Established 
Chair of Commerce and Statistics. Fought under General Jackson 
in War of 1812. Stockholder in a cotton manufactory at Cannel- 
ton, Indiana. Aided W. J. Minor, a young Louisiana mechanic, in 
the perfecting of a steel plow. Discovered the fibrous value of 
okra as a possible substitute for hemp. Vice-president of Louisiana 
Agricultural and Mechanics' Association, 1847. Contributor to 
De Bow's Revieiv, 1847-1848. American Agriculturist, 10:122 
(April, 1851); Hunt's Merchants' Magazine and Commercial Re- 
view, 18:670 (June, 1848). 

* American Agriculturist, 6:175 (June, 1847). 



182 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

tering through the handsomest foliage in the world. Col. 
White, as well as his next neighbor below, Robert A. Wil- 
kinson,^ and, in fact, nearly all the large planters on this 
part of the coast, have to use draining machines. The 
strip and tillable land is very narrow, though all the back 
lands might be drained at less expense, in the aggregate, 
than is now done to drain a small portion of each planta- 
tion. Such a system as is in operation in Holland, would 
soon make the swamps of Louisiana tillable, and bring 
many thousands of acres of the finest sugar lands in the 
world into use, which are now only fit for breeding alli- 
gators, musquitos, and fevers. 

Mr. Wilkinson lifts his water five feet in an immense 
volume, say 1,000 gallons a minute. This drains 400 ar- 
pents. He has 1,000 arpents in the tract, 200 of which, 
in front, has elevation enough to drain by ditches, and the 
remainder by machinery. He designs to put the back 
lands in order for rice, using the same water that he lifts 
from his sugar land, to flood the rice fields, when needed. 

Mr. W. believes that all these lands could be drained by 
windmill. His father, J. B. Wilkinson,- (son of the old 
General,) has lived here, on the adjoining place, twenty- 
eight years. The cane upon this plantation, and several 
others near, is as green as in summer. Mr. W. makes re- 
fined loaf sugar direct from it, by Relieux apparatus. So 
does Mr. George Johnson,^ the next place below. Robert 

' Robert Andrews Wilkinson, grandson of General James AVilkin- 
son, born December 16, 1809; died August 30, 1862, at second battle 
of Manassas. In the forties, lived in Plaquemines Parish and main- 
tained a summer home on the Island of Grand Terre. Contributor 
to De Bow's Review, 1847-1848. Louisiana Historical Quarterly, 
September 14, 1917, p. 165; Arthur and Kernion, Old Families in 
Louisiana, 393. 

^Joseph Biddle Wilkinson, born December 4, 1785; died Novem- 
ber 8, 1865. Ibid., 392. 

' George Johnson, owner of a fine plantation in the Plaquemines 
region, forty-two miles below New Orleans; in 1844 he produced 
there 530 hogsheads of sugar. Much of the Plaquemines region was 
extensively developed. De Bow's Review, 2:334 (November, 1846), 
3:118, 258 (February and March, 1847). 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1849 183 

A. Wilkinson makes refined, (hogshead,) sugar by How- 
ard's vacuum pan; and Mr. Osgood,^ a few miles below, 
makes the same kind by vacuum pans from the Novelty 
Works. Mr. Osgood has greatly increased the product of 
his land by deep plowing, and the use of subsoil plows, 
abundant ditching, and manuring, at the rate of 100 cart 
loads to the arpent, with old rotten bagasse, stable ma- 
nure, and pea vines. Having no wood, except drift, he 
saves bagasse for fuel, or else would make manure of it, 
as he has proved its value to be great when fully rotted. 
His front fence is two and a half miles long, nearly all 
formed with a hedge of Yucca gloriosa, called here, 
"Spanish bayonet," "Pete," and several other local names. 
Although rather ragged in appearance, and interrupted 
by sundry negro paths, it is a good fence. Mr. 0. assures 
me that no animal, not even a hog, will attempt to go 
through one of these paths. The points of the leaves are 
so hard and sharp, that everything is afraid to come near 
it. It needs topping every year, and all the tops that fall 
between the rows are allowed to remain and grow, and 
those that fall outside must all be removed, or they will 
grow and increase the width of the hedge row two much. 
The annual trimming and growth of new plants every 
year, is the whole secret of keeping up these fences. When 
they are neglected, they soon become unsightly and ineffi- 
cient. The first setting of the hedge is very easy, as it is 
done by cuttings slightly planted in two rows, about two 
feet apart, and ten or twelve inches from one to the other, 
set opposite to the spaces of the opposite row. After get- 
ting large enough to trim, say in three or four years, the 
spaces all fill up with new plants. I think it the best 
hedge plant for this climate and soil, that I know of. 
Mr. 0., however, is about to try the bois d'arc, (Osage 

' Isaac Osgood, whose sugar estate was forty-five miles below 
New Orleans on the right side of the Mississippi River, had one of 
the most highly cultivated places in that district. In 1844 he pro- 
duced 658 hogsheads of sugar. Ibid., 2:334 (November, 1846), 
3:118, 258 (February, March, 1847). 



184 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

orange). I have no faith in his success, as it naturally 
grows to a tree. 

To show what a little energy and determination may 
accomplish, in time of trouble, I wish to state that Mr. 
Osgood has an orangery the fruit of which he has just 
sold on the trees for $550, besides making a very large 
reservation for himself and friends. But to the point. 
When all the orange trees were winter killed, in 1834-5, 
Mrs. Osgood, then living, immediately had the present 
orchard planted, the trees of which, as large as my body, 
and now 40 feet high, are loaded with most delicious-look- 
ing fruit. There are also an abundance of lemons here, 
too. So much for the active energy of woman, and deter- 
mination to have an orchard, notwithstanding the loss of 
one set of trees. There are many other places where 
oranges are plenty, but many others where there are 
none. But very few persons think of growing them for 
sale. 

Mr. Osgood once built a railroad through the centre of 
his plantation, which is long and narrow, to bring the 
cane to the sugar house ; but, after a few years' trial, he 
found it did not pay cost, and pulled it all up, except from 
the sugar house to the river bank, and from the bagasse 
sheds to the sugar house. Although these railroad ex- 
periments continue to be tried by persons as sanguine in 
the belief of their advantage as was Mr. 0., yet I have no 
doubt, that they will all follow suit. For the use of only 
six or eight weeks, when timber will not last over six or 
eight years, and when the cane has to be loaded into carts 
to be brought to the cars, however pretty the theory, the 
practice is not so perfect. A plank road would undoubt- 
edly be better, and that would be expensive, unless the 
wonderful rapid decay of timber could be prevented. 

Mr. Osgood is one of those who keeps sheep for some- 
body else to shear. He told me, that, a few years ago, he 
had no trouble in getting his sheep sheared. Every spring, 
one of them 'cute Yankees used to come along in his boat 
and shear the sheep and carry off the wool without any 
trouble. 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1849 185 

Yesterday, when I left Mr. Wilkinson's, he was still 
cutting cane, growing green as ever; though this is un- 
usual. 

January l&th, 1849. 

Mr. Robinson's Tour. — No. 9. 

[New York American Agriculturist, 8:283-84; Sep., 1849] 

[January 24, 1849] 

Louisiana. — There are a good many small rice farms 
along this coast of the river, on which the seed is usually 
sown broadcast, in March or April, and flooded in June 
or July, three or four inches deep, if the state of the river 
admits; and if it does not, it grows dry, as there is not 
energy enough in the Creole population, who plant rice, 
ever to fix any kind of machinery to elevate water to flood 
the rice fields.^ Mr. Andrew Knox,- a very intelligent gen- 
tleman, with whom I spent a night, is of opinion that all 
of the back lands might be very profitably cultivated in 
rice, by using windmills to drain the land, and the same 
cheap power to flood the fields, when needed. Some plant 
in drills, and cultivate with plow and hoe. This produces 
the best crop, but requires labor, which is very objection- 
able among "white folks." The rice sown broadcast has 
to be wed with sharp hoes or knives. The crop is cut and 
stacked like wheat, in September, and is threshed, or 
trodden out, now and then. It is sometimes winnowed 
with a fanning mill, but oftener with a blanket, some- 

' It was customary for most of the sugar planters on the lower 
Mississippi to produce some rice and the majority of sugar planters 
in the state also grew corn for consumption on their plantations. 

^ Andrew Knox, owner and operator of New Hope sugar planta- 
tion in Plaquemines Parish, nineteen miles below New Orleans, 
on the west side of the Mississippi River. Used the most im- 
proved equipment. New Hope was later owned by W. and H. 
Stackhouse, one of the largest sugar producing firms in the state. 
"Directory of the Planters of Louisiana and Mississippi," in 
Cohen's Ne^v Orleans Directory, 1855, p. 338; Champomier, State- 
ment of the Sugar Crop Made in Louisiana, 1857-1858, 1859-1860, 
1861-1862. 



186 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

what after the manner of the old Dutch fan. The hulling 
machines are equally primitive. A mortar and pestle 
being the most common. An average crop is about 30 
bushels of paddy to the acre, weighing 60 lbs. to the 
bushel; and is worth about 75 cents a bushel, or 21/2 
cents per pound, clean. 

Four years ago, Mr. K. bought 1,240 arpents, for $2,100, 
without fence or buildings — an old-field pasture — 340 
arpents cleared land — 700 tillable — 800 now in wood. It 
cost him $20,000 and one year's labor with 35 hands, 
(except making a small crop of corn,) to get ready to 
make sugar. But he has so renovated the old fields, that 
he made last crop, from 240 arpents of cane rolled, 325 
hogsheads of sugar, and the unusual quantity of 85 gal- 
lons of molasses to the hogshead, (27,625 gallons,) worth 
18 cents a gallon, and sugar four cents per pound will 
make $15,210, while the value of the place has increased 
so, that, compared with late sales in the vicinity, it is 
worth $100,000. This is certainly much better than let- 
ting such land lie an idle waste. His annual expenses are 
about $6,000, as he buys nearly all his corn, as well as 
meat. He works 24 mules and 6 yoke of oxen, and uses 
good tools. Notwithstanding he has plenty of timber, he 
has ordered wire to fence his front, because he thinks it 
will be the cheapest. Cypress pickets, or rails, for post 
and rail fence, with which nearly all fences are built, are 
worth from $5 to $7 a hundred, and posts $10, and will 
not last over ten years. So that it is easy to see that 
wire is the cheapest. I am glad to perceive that Messrs. 
Aliens are prepared to furnish it to order in any quan- 
tity; as I think that, as soon as its value and cheapness 
as a fence becomes known, the whole coast will be fenced 
with it. 

To show what judiciously-applied labor is capable of 
producing, I will state a few facts relative to the planta- 
tion of Mr. Wm. Polk, a very enterprising and intelligent 
young man, from Tenessee, whose place is about 24 miles 
above New Orleans, on the "west coast." He bought 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1849 187 

the tract about four years ago — an old Spanish grant — 
of some 7,000 arpents, running back near nine miles, 
much of it on a ridge, upon which cattle can be enclosed 
by a wire fence, back of the cultivated lands. Upon this 
tract, he intends to put a large stock of cattle, that will 
live upon the cane. He found upon the place an old 
dwelling, the shingles of which, though still sound and 
nailed with wrought nails, attest its age. There were 
about 310 arpents of cleared land, part in rice field, and 
balance old-field pasture, with but one ditch upon the 
place, the whole not worth the annual taxes. In 1846, he 
broke up the land deep, with four and six mules, by in- 
credible hard work, and planted corn, and made about 
half a crop ; which some of his neighbors said was because 
he plowed his land so deep that he had spoiled it. But he 
said, it was because it never had been plowed so deep 
before, and could not be expected at first to produce so 
well; and, secondly, because he had not yet got it per- 
fectly ditched. In the winter of 1846-7, he gave it an- 
other thorough plowing, planted cane, and completed the 
ditches, laying it into squares six rods on a side, having a 
fall of twelve feet in 105 arpents back from the river. 
The next crop made him 445 hogsheads of sugar, besides 
seed cane. In 1848, he had 320 arpents in cane, 285 of 
which he rolled, and made 525 hogsheads of sugar, and 
about 36,000 gallons of molasses, working 55 field hands, 
(90 negroes in all,) 37 mules, 10 carts, 3 wagons, 14 dou- 
ble plows, and no oxen. His sugar house cost $17,000, 
besides the labor of his own hands making brick and 
doing most of the work, estimated at $9,000 more. Much 
of the worst of the ditching was done by hired Irish 
laborers. He feeds his field hands 6 lbs. of pork and 12 
quarts of Indian meal a week, besides molasses, sweet po- 
tatoes, and other vegetables ; and, although they were 
from the north, he finds that they keep healthy and strong 
upon this high feeding, without complaining of lassitude, 
as is usual among those brought here while acclimating. 
He confidently expects to derive a profit from grazing 



188 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

cattle upon his extensive back lands, and selling them for 
beef at New Orleans. Some of those who thought he was 
"spoiling his land by plowing it so deep," now look with 
wonder upon his success. There are several persons above 
Mr. P., who turn their whole attention to raising cattle; 
and, in the course of my drive, I saw, at one place, a very 
unusual appendage to the cattle yard. It was a well-con- 
structed rack. I also saw a good many hogs, and some of 
them as mean as well could be conceived of. 

Upon Mr. Thomas Maye's^ place, I saw the effects pro- 
duced by a large crevasse some 40 years ago. The whole 
surface, where it run, is in ridges, some of them six feet 
high, made by deposit of the earth carried in solution in 
the river water. This is so great that it has been thought 
practicable, by some persons, to fill up the swamp back 
of New Orleans, by letting the river flow through it, 
which is to be done by confining it within proper bounds. 

Mr. M. lost his sugar house and 160 hogsheads of sugar 
by fire last fall, from sparks falling upon the dry roof. 
To prevent similar accidents, let a small pipe be attached 
to the force pump and carried up and along the ridge of 
the roof, letting out little jets of water every few feet. 
This simple and cheap plan would have kept the roof wet 
all the time, and prevented the present great danger, as 
well as several others, which have occurred heretofore, 
and are likely to occur again. I do not think the expense 
would exceed $25, which might soon be saved in insur- 
ance. 

Blackberries, plums, and peaches, are now in bloom; 
Indian corn is planting ; and oats about three inches high. 
The latter will be good to cut green in March, or for seed 
in May. Corn is planted from January till May. Figs 
grow so abundantly upon Mr. Maye's place, that his 
negroes have all they can eat, which he considers very 
healthy. 

^ Thomas May, owner of a modest sugar plantation in St. John 
the Baptist Parish, on the west side of the Mississippi River, 
forty-one miles above New Orleans. Used improved machinery. 
Champomier, op. cit., 1849; Pike, Coast-Directory. 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1849 189 

The style of dwellings here is a story and a half — ^the 
half one at the bottom — though sometimes it is high 
enough for use and is paved with marble or tiles — a front 
and back gallery, often all around — all the doors and win- 
dows just alike; that is, two inner doors opening from 
the centre the upper half glass, and two outer ones of 
wood, hung with great wrought-iron hinges big enough 
for a door 16 feet wide, instead of 16 inches, fastened 
with large iron hooks. 

In warm weather the whole are open and a curtain 
fills the space. One of the handsomest and most luxuri- 
ous gardens that I noticed, is that of Valcour Amie,^ who 
is also one of the largest planters, and makes refined loaf 
sugar. His house is more modern and splendid. 

The entrance of the houses here is nearly in front. You 
drive in upon one side of the garden and into the back 
yard, among a general assortment of chickens, young 
negroes, turkeys, ducks, and dogs. 

Governor Roman's^ garden is another enchanting spot. 
Judicious taste, skill, wealth and climate combined, 

'Valcour Aime, born in St. Charles Parish, Louisiana, 1798; 
died December 31, 1867. Acquired a plantation in St. James Parish 
above New Orleans. Married Josephine Roman, sister of Governor 
Roman. Sugar was first refined in the United States on Aime's 
plantation and under his supervision. Experimented widely with 
sugar refining machinery. His house was known as "The Little 
Versailles." See sketch in Dictionary of Avierican Biography, 
1:130. For discussion of his plantation operations, see Moody, 
Slavery on Louisiana Sugar Plantations, 43, 45, 47, 52, 55, 57, 64, 
75, 82-84, 87-88, 104. 

^ Andre Bienvenu Roman, born in St. Landry Parish, Louisiana, 
March 5, 1795; died at New Orleans, January 28, 1866. Early 
taken to St. James Parish, where his father established a sugar 
plantation. Later owned his own plantation in the same district. 
Served for many years in Louisiana House of Representatives. 
Governor, 1831-1835, 1839-1843. Subscribed to and sponsored Jef- 
ferson College in St. James Parish. President of Louisiana State 
Agricultural Society. Opposed disunion, but yielded to the major- 
ity. See sketch in Dictionary of American Biography, 16:125-26; 
"A. B. Roman, of Louisiana, Agriculturist," in De Bow's Review, 
11: facing 350, 436-43 (October, 1851). For discussion of his 
treatment of slaves, see Moody, op. cit., 21, 45-46, 73, 75, 86, 89. 



190 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

makes a scene here, which, if it could be exhibited in 
January in New York, would command a world of ad- 
miration. 

Mr. James M. Lapice^ is a large planter, who also re- 
fines all his juice into loaf sugar, &c. He is the only one 
that I know of, who regrinds his bagasse in a separate 
mill. He has two three-roller mills, set 12 feet apart, 
with a carrier between, so arranged as to reverse the 
position of the bagasse, in order that it may enter the 
mill in a different manner from that which it came 
through the other rollers. By this process, he gets about 
75 of the 90 per cent, of juice contained in the cane, and 
makes bagasse so free of saccharine matter, that the 
acidity arising in the decomposition is not great enough 
to injure the land to which it is immediately applied. It 
is ground, or broken up much finer than the common 
bagasse, and is spread out about six inches thick, at once, 
upon cane stubble that is to be broken up. This serves to 
keep the land loose and mellow. This method is the same 
as that practiced upon grass, &c., called "Guerneyism." 
In the spring, he sends the hoe hands to rake off the top 
of old cane rows, and plant a hill of peas every 12 or 15 
inches. These grow and cover over the ground com- 
pletely, and the next winter, together with the now-rotten 
bagasse, are turned under with a heavy plow and planted 
again in cane, and produce a crop greatly increased in 
value. This process also serves to keep down the coco, 
in consequence of being so smothered a whole year, that 
the cane gets up and ahead of it, and then keeps ahead. 
Mr. Lapice's rule, in relation to team, is different from 
most planters. He works 120 hands in the field and 120 
mules or horses, besides 40 oxen, or one mule or horse to 
every hand, and never works them but half a day at once. 

^ Probably intended for Peter M. Lapice, mentioned in 1846 as one 
of the sug-ar planters who had abandoned kettles, either in whole 
or in part, in favor of more modern refining equipment. One of 
the foremost planters in using improved processes for the manu- 
facture of sugar. De Bow's Review, 2:333, 334, 341 (November, 
1846); 5:250, 257, 287 (March, 1848); 11:42 (July, 1851). 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1849 191 

The set that go out in the morning, are brought up at 
noon and turned into a pasture, of which he has 600 
arpents, and a new set are all ready in the stable, having 
been previously fed, to go to work in the afternoon. At 
night, those at pasture are taken into stable and fed 
ready for morning and the others turned out. Thus they 
are never fed hot, but eat less corn, and are less sick, 
wear longer, and can be driven harder, while at work. 
He makes and uses 18,000 bushels of corn a year; has in 
use 100 plows; 20 large iron-axle carts, with brass boxes. 
Average crop of sugar about one million pounds. 
January 24th, 1849. 

High Water in the Lower Mississippi — Prospect of 

AN Overflow — Present Sugar Crop — Effect of 

High Water upon the next Crop, &c in a 

letter from an old correspondent 

OF THE Gazette. 

[Daily Cincinnati Gazette, February 28, 1849] 

Plaquemine, La., Feb. 11th, 1849. 

Messrs. Editors : I am shut up — cabin'd — crib'd — con- 
fined — i. e. 1 am located just here while it may please 
heaven to grant a cessation to this outflowing, down 
tumbling, two days shower. Thank fortune though, 
all the rain that falls here in these lower regions, dont 
raise the river any, because unlike any other christian 
country, water dont run into the river hereabouts, but 
runs out of it. And unless you "up-country folks" soon 
cease to send down your floods, wo be to this devoted 
land. What a satisfaction it would be now, if we were 
all assured that we were born to be hung, for then we 
should feel safe; whereas the drowning prospect is just 
now much the strongest. 

The river has been continually rising all winter. Three 
or four weeks ago I was on the coast below the city and 
they then had as much water as they knew what to do 
with, but being satisfied that it could not rise any higher. 



192 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

no great efforts were making to raise the levee, but only 
to strengthen it in weak spots. 

They must now be in trouble there. I came up the west 
coast two weeks ago, and many were getting alarmed 
and began to talk of building higher, but were satisfied 
that the river could not rise any higher at this time of 
the year and so they kept quiet. But it has risen from 
one to two feet since. 

On Bayou Lafouche, there are some very bad crevasses, 
and a week ago the prevailing idea was that the river 
ynust stop rising, for they could not stand any more 
water. 

Every steamboat throwed the water over the levee, 
which in places is twelve feet high, and hundreds of 
hands were at work preparing for "possibly an inch or 
two more." It has risen six inches since and is rising 
about two inches in 24 hours now. 

What is to be the end, no man knoweth. It is utterly 
impossible to stand another foot, and yet the prospect is 
strong that it is coming. It is already as high as '44 and 
within a few inches of the great flood of '28. And then 
the water had a chance to spread over many miles of the 
coast above, which is now guarded by one continuous 
levee. 

There can be no doubt that a most disastrous ovorflow 
of hundreds of sugar plantations, in all human reason, 
must occur within a few days. A rise of a few inches 
more, or a storm of wind, will be almost certain to open 
many a weak spot and overflow miles of levee that is too 
low. 

The incessant rain and mud of yesterday and to-day 
prevents working upon places where there is the greatest 
need of it. The water is within a few inches of the top 
at this place, the waves of steamboats throw over the 
water into the street, and if the whole town is not from 
three to five feet under water within a week, I shall won- 
der. The alarm along the coast now is great, but not un- 
reasonably so. Exposure to water too, produces the pre- 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1849 193 

monitory symtoms of cholera, which is not yet quite dead. 

What an unfortunate year for planters. Short crops, 
low prices, cholera and flood. Add to that the seed cane 
which should now all be planted, cannot be on account 
of workikg on the levee, and on account of the rain, and 
it is decaying faster than ever was known before. Many 
planters will not be able to plant much more than half 
the number of acres intended, on account of bad seed. 

I have visited nearly all the plantations below Baton 
Rouge, and I am satisfied that the crop is not over three 
quarters as much as it was last year. But the quality is 
superior. The yield of that will average about 60 gal- 
lons to the hogshead of sugar. Owing to the unusual 
warm winter, much of the molasses will be very much 
opposed to slavery, and will be making constant efforts 
to escape — from the barrels. 

Buyers will do well to get it up before warm weather. 
It is already fermenting in some cisterns. 

What effect the present state of things should have 
upon prices of sugar and molasses is for dealers in the 
article to determine. A general overflow will destroy much 
of the present crop, as it is nearly all in the purgeries and 
in the present state of weather and water, cannot well be 
shipped from most places. Of course an overflow would 
destroy growing crops. 

In stating the crop as a quarter short, however, it must 
be taken into account that there are a good many new 
sugar plantations, that made a crop last year. 

I am told that Niles & Co., of your place, put up sixty- 
eight mills last season, and Goodloe sixteen. Pray ascer- 
tain this fact. If so, I would count all the new mills at 
one hundred which would give very soon that number of 
new places — for whereever a horse mill was taken down 
it was set up again on some other place. 

The winter here has been just no winter at all. The 
peach blossoms are now gladening the eye beneath my 
window as I write. Garden vegetables and flowers have 
been abundant at all times, and strawberries I have re- 



194 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

ported heretofore as growing in the open ground ripe the 
middle of January. 

Below New Orleans are some of the most beautiful 
orange groves imaginable ; where I wandered amid bu- 
shels of fallen and rotting fruit of the most delicious 
kind, during "cholera times," all untasted and unheeded. 

By the bye, I took a small touch of that same cholera 
myself. It didn't kill me, though. It's nothing when you 
get used to it. 

This town, Plaquemine, is situated upon the point 
where the bayou of that name leaves the river. It con- 
tains some seven or eight hundred inhabitants, and what 
is very unusual in this country, a pretty fair quality of 
a tavern in the "Planters' Hotel," and for aught I know, 
one or two other of the same kind. 

This bayou is the gate to the Attakapas country, and 
thitherward, at this time, goeth much water and many 
steamboats. 

Speeking of steamboats, there has upwards of thirty 
of them passed this point within the last ten hours. Some 
of those downward bound are loaded with cotton down to 
the guards, and a leetle below. And lest I should load 
your columns at the same rate, I will just belay here. 

Yours, &c. 

Solon Robinson, 
"Travelling Correspondent of the American 
Agriculturist." 

Frost and Snow at New Orleans. 

[New York American Agriculturist, 8:125-26; Apr., 1849] 

[February 16, 1849] 

Last night was one of the most severe that has been 
experienced here since March, 1833, when all the orange 
trees on the coast of the Mississippi were killed. The 
same calamity has undoubtedly befallen them now. Day 
before yesterday was very mild and pleasant. No fires 
were needed. In the night, the wind came out north, 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1849 195 

and yesterday forenoon was clear and cold. I was on 
board a steamer below Baton Rouge, in the afternoon. 
About sundown, it commenced a severe storm of rain, 
sleet, hail, and snow. It continued at intervals till mid- 
night. In the morning, the decks were coated with ice, 
and the ground whitened with snow; the trees glittering 
in the sunshine, and roses and oranges all encased in ice. 
Oh ! what a brilliant scene ! But it is a scene of distress. 
Early corn, beans, peas, tomatoes, peppers, &c., &c., that 
were growing so finely, are all killed. 

Since arriving in the city, I find now, (5 o'clock in the 
evening,) snow and ice still upon shaded roofs and yards. 
It will freeze again to night. This is another calamity to 
this already overburthened land. The river never was 
known so high at this season of the year. In several 
places above us, the levee is broken and towns and plan- 
tations are overflowed. New Orleans is about a little, as 
yet, safe from the overflow. Many places have not six 
inches of levee to spare. Solon Robinson. 

Neiv Orleans, Feb. 16th, 1849. 

Mr. Robinson's Tour. — No. 10. 

[New York American Agriculturist, 8:314-16; Oct., 1849] 

[February ?, 1849] 

Using Bagasse for Manure. — Mr. Lapice, whom my 
readers will recollect we parted with last month, has 
found great advantage in using bagasse as manure. He 
grinds it through a second mill, which makes it dry and 
fine, and it is then spread directly upon cane stubble, 
where it is suffered to lie a year, and then plowed in, to- 
gether with a pea crop which he plants upon the ridges, 
in May, and from which he derives great advantage not 
only as a manure, but by the shade, which greatly assists 
to kill the coco. 

Upon Col. Manning's place, five miles below Donald- 
sonville, Mr. Havvin, his overseer, told me that he ma- 
nured 75 acres last year, with rotten bagasse, which dou- 



196 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

bled the crop. Mr. L. and Col. M. both use lime, and pen 
their cattle upon the bagasse pile to rot it. This does it 
in two years effectually. Mr. Havvin plants cane seven 
feet apart, but thinks six feet would be better upon old 
land so set with coco as this place is, as it sooner shades 
the ground, which is the most effectual thing to overcome 
this great pest of the planters. There are 850 arpents in 
cultivation upon this place. The regular crop is 250 
arpents of cane plant; 250 of cotton ; 350 of corn ; and the 
working force about 80 full hands, and 40 mules and 
horses. 

Donaldsonville is about 80 miles above New Orleans, 
and is situated upon the point between the river and 
Bayou La Fourche, which is a fork, as the name implies, 
or outlet, running out at a right angle, nearly, and is 
some 250 feet wide at high water, and 25 feet deep ; but 
60 feet wide and 2 feet deep at low water. The distance 
to the mouth of the bayou is about 100 miles, while by the 
river it is double that, and the two mouths are about 50 
miles apart. 

Burning Bagasse. — Below Donaldsonville, Mr. Ford^ 
has a new bagasse chimney, 40 feet high, at a cost of only 
$80, which he alleges is built upon a new principle; and 
its cheapness is certainly well worthy the attention of all 
who are still disposed to practice this method of destroy- 
ing a valuable article for manure. 

Mr. Ford's boiler flue is conducted into the same chim- 
ney, and it is his opinion that with two 60-foot boilers, 
the burning of the bagasse would make nearly steam 
enough to grind and boil the crop. 

Value of Land on Bayou La Fourche. — Mr. Sherrod 
Sparks,^ 14 miles below Donaldsonville, sold his place, last 

^ Probably one of the firm of John Belson and Ford, who began 
the cultivation of sugar about 1846, on Bayou Lafourche, twenty- 
three miles below Donaldsonville. Champomier, Statement of the 
Sugar Crop Made in Louisiana, 1845-1846. 

' Probably of the firm of Sparks and Brandeguy, owners of a 
plantation in Assumption Parish on Bayou Lafourche, fifteen miles 
below Donaldsonville. In 1845-1846 they produced 425 hogsheads 
of sugar, an unusually large output for that time. Ibid. 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1849 197 

winter, for $20,000, containing 600 arpents, without 
stock or tools — 300 arpents in cultivation, with sugar 
house and engine and two moderate dwelling houses, with 
other buildings. The place made 100 hogsheads of sugar 
last year and 110 the year before, with plenty of corn. 
The corn on hand sold with the place. The price of an 
adjoining place is $20,000 for 370 arpents. A general 
average price of sugar lands is $50 an arpent, including 
improvements. 

Thomas Pugh's Plantation.^ — This is one of the best 
in the state. Not the largest, though quite enough so to 
satisfy any man of moderate desires, as the value of the 
annual crop is from $30,000 to $40,000. Mr. P. owns 
here about 3,000 arpents — 1,000 cleared, 550 in cane, 250 
in corn, and 200 in pasture, yards, gardens, &c. Of the 
first-named crop, 440 arpents made 700 hogsheads of 
sugar, and about 60 gallons of molasses to the hogshead. 
The remainder of the cane was reserved for seed plant- 
ing. One acre of cane is required to plant five acres. Mr. 
P. has 100 working hands, producing about seven hogs- 
heads of sugar to each. But this is not all profit, for the 
annual expenses upon sugar plantations generally, will 
average about $100 to the hand. 

As this amount will appear so enormous to some of my 
readers, let me give the items upon this place last year :- 

Wages of overseer per annum, $ 1,200.00 

" engineer, tending sawmill and sugar 

house, 700.00 

Average annual outlay for mules, 1,000.00 

" " " to keep up supply of 

plows, carts, wagons, spades, hoes, chains, 
harness, nails, iron for blacksmith shop, &c., 1,000.00 
Average annual outlay for repairs of engines, 

mills, and kettles, 200.00 

' Thomas Pugh of Madewood plantation beyond Napoleonville. 
His splendid house, still in a fine state of preservation, was built 
in 1846. In 1929 the owners were Mr. and Mrs. Robert L. Baker. 
Saxon, Old Louisiaiia, 341. Spratling and Scott, Old Plantation 
Houses in Louisiana, 81-82, give the name as "Maidwood." 



198 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

Shoes, (from the bills of 1848,) 475.00 

Cotton cloth, for clothing hands, 800.00 

Woolen " " " " 444.00 

Woolen blankets, 200.00 

225 barrels of mess pork, at average of $10,. . 2,250.00 
50 barrels of flour, (one to each family at 

Christmas,) 225.00 

Hoop poles, for sugar and molasses casks, .... 200.00 

Oil for sugar house, 175.00 

Physician's bill and medicines, ($1.75 a head,) 350.00 
Taxes and other incidental expenses for sun- 
dries unenumerated, 200.00 

The interest upon the estimated value of the 
plantation and all upon it, would be, at 8 per 

cent, 16,501.20 

25,920.20 

Nothing for family expenses is included in the above 
estimates. 

Mr. Pugh has been upon this place 24 years, and never 
bought corn but one year. His average yield per acre 
upon new land is thirty bushels. And that is double the 
usual average of the state, I think. The quality of his 
soil is above the average. Next to the bayou it is con- 
siderably sandy, but grows more stiff as we go back to- 
ward the swamp. 

The estimated value of this plantation is as follows : — 

1,600 arpents of land, (1,000 cultivated and 600 

timber,) at $50 $ 80,000 

1,400 arpents back lands, (cypress swamp,) 

cost $1.25 1,750 

The mansion house being a new one is estimated 
at cost over and above the ordinary value of 
land, 30,000 

201 negroes, at average of $400 each, 80,400 

60 farm mules and horses, at average of $100 

each, 6,000 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1849 199 

6 yoke of oxen, $40 a yoke, 240 

Other stock and moveables, say 1,000 

16 carts at $50 each, and 1 wagon $75, 875 

Plows and other tools, say 2,000 

The stock of corn for use in crib, 10,000 bushels 

at 40 cts., 4,000 



$ 206,265 



To show that the estimate for clothing and provisions 
is not too high, I will give the regular allowance to each 
adult, which is as follows : — 4 cotton shirts ; 2 cotton 
pants; 1 cotton jacket; 1 woolen jacket; 1 pair of woolen 
pants ; 1 wool hat ; 1 straw hat ; 1 blanket ; 3 pair of shoes ; 
2 woolen shirts (to a part only) ; a calico dress and hand- 
kerchief extra to each woman and girl, besides clothing 
for house servants. All the clothing is cut and made 
under the superintendence of Mrs. Pugh, who, at least, 
is one southern woman that "knoweth the way of her 
own household." 

I will now give the feeding rations of this plantation, 
just to show that these laborers are not starved. Some 
plantations feed even higher, but the average is a little 
less. Every name upon the working list draws a peck 
and a half of good, sweet corn meal a week, and five and 
a quarter pounds of mess pork, besides vegetables. Then 
all children are fed separately. Besides, a barrel of mo- 
lasses is dealt out every week, and a barrel of flour to 
each family at Christmas. Rations of fresh meat are 
occasionally given. 

Mr. Pugh's overseer is a well-bred Yankee carpen- 
ter, by the name of Munson, from New Haven, Connecti- 
cut. And I wish here to remark, that I believe there is 
a rapid improvement going on in the character of this 
important class of persons to all southern planters. Edu- 
cated and better men than formerly are employed, very 
much to the advantage of all concerned. 

The buildings on this plantation are well worthy the 
attention of other planters desiring to make improve- 



200 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

ments. The mansion is not the most showy, but is one 
of the most commodious and excellent dwellings in the 
state. The main building, 60 by 68 feet, is two stories, 
the wings only one, and yet there are 600,000 bricks in 
the walls. 

Next in importance to the dwelling, and upon nearly 
all plantations, exceeding it, is the sugar house. Mr. 
Pugh's is 40 by 340 feet, with an extensive cane shed at 
one end, laid with iron rails, for cars to bring up the cane 
from where the carts drop it, to the cane carrier, which 
elevates it about fifteen feet to the mill, from which the 
bagasse falls into carts, and the juice runs to the vats, 
where it is cleansed by the "Spansenburg process," and 
thence runs to the kettles ; thence to the coolers, and from 
there the sugar is carried upon railroad cars along lines 
of rails between the rows of hogsheads to the farther end 
of the building. 

In a country where labor-saving machinery is so rarely 
seen, the excellent arrangements here are more worthy 
of attention. 

Then, again, at the stable, we find another railroad 
labor-saving contrivance, that might well be copied by 
nine hundred and ninety-nine other planters. The stable 
is 40 by 230 feet, divided into 62 stalls, each seven feet 
wide. The mules all stand with their heads to the centre 
passage, seven feet wide, through which a railroad car 
brings corn and fodder from the corn house annexed at 
one end, and the animals are fed with a very small 
amount of labor. Behind the mules, upon each side, there 
is a good passage way, and each animal soon learns to 
know his place, where he is fastened by a broad strap 
around the neck, and a stout chain made fast to the stall 
so that it is always there. All the feeding is done by 
one careful hand, who is held responsible that everything 
appertaining to the stable is as it should be. This is a 
much better arrangement than trusting every Tom, Dick, 
and Harry, to feed the animal he has been using; and 
just a trifle superior to the very common practice of turn- 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1849 201 

ing horses and mules all together into "the lot," to eat 
corn and fodder all from one trough, and at the same 
time keep up a constant fight over it. For it is the truth 
that many a plantation has not a stable upon it. This is 
perhaps more the case in Mississippi than in Louisiana. 
But there are plenty of planters in both states who might 
profit by a visit to Mr. Thomas Pugh. 

Mr. Robinson's Tour. — No. 11. 

[New York American Agriculturist, 8:337-38; Nov., 1849] 

[February ?, 1849] 

Visit to the Plantation of Bishop Polk? — This is sit- 
uated upon the right bank of the bayou Lafourche, about 
a mile above Thibodaux, and contains 2,500 arpents, 
1,000 or 1,100 of which are in cultivation, and a portion 
of the rest cultivable. Of this, 600 arpents were in cane 
last year — 358 used for sugar, and balance for planting 
cane, it being the bishop's intention, this year, to have 
800 arpents. Whether he will succeed in getting that 
amount in, I cannot say ; but I learn that the terrible rav- 
ages of cholera upon his place, which carried off above 
70 of his people, has seriously injured his growing crop. 
From the 358 arpents last year, he made 510 hogsheads 
of sugar, and the usual quantity of molasses. The year 
before, he made from 470 arpents, 720 hogsheads. His 
usual crop of corn is about 200 arpents. 

When I was on the place, Bishop P.'s people numbered 
370 ; but the effective force of field hands was not more 
than one third of that number, owing to the fact that the 
stock is a very old one, and has been in the same family, 

^Leonidas Polk, born at Raleigh, North Carolina, April 10, 1806; 
killed at Pine Mountain, June, 1864. Educated at West Point Mili- 
tary Academy and Virginia Theological Seminary. Became bishop 
of Louisiana, 1841. Conducted his sugar plantation with particu- 
lar concern for welfare of slaves. Active in establishing the Uni- 
versity of the South, at Sewanee, Tennessee. Major general and 
lieutenant general in the Confederate Army. See sketch in Dic- 
tionary of American Biography, 15:39-40. 



202 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

(that of Mrs. P.'s ancestors, in North Carolina,) ever 
since the year 1697, Now, he has upwards of 30 entirely 
superannuated. There are, also, or were, at that time, 
upwards of 70 children under ten years of age. What a 
host to feed and clothe, and all to be looked after and 
provided for by the care of one man ! Quite enough to 
frighten a New-England farmer. 

The bishop is an experimenting and improving planter. 
He believes in good tillage and manure. He has one of 
the best fluke plows, made upon the place, that I have 
seen anywhere. The beam is 51/2 feet long, 17 inches 
high — the handles fastened to the sides of the beam, and 
supported by a standard down to the centre bar, which 
bar is 29 inches long. The moldboards are 10 inches 
high, and 27 inches apart behind, and are made of 
wrought iron. He tried an experiment, last year, of 
stripping the cane of leaves, to give it a better oppor- 
tunity to mature, and thinks he found his account in the 
experiment largely in his favor. At any rate, he ob- 
tained upwards of 21 hogsheads of good sugar from 
seven acres, which was a much larger yield than any 
other acres gave. The stripping was done by children, 
whose labor was not of much value at that season for any 
other purpose ; and even if it had been valuable, he thinks 
that the labor was not lost, because the work of the cane 
cutters was greatly facilitated. I forgot to inquire 
whether he used the leaves for fodder. The cane experi- 
mented upon, was first-year rattoons. It is needless to 
say that it was good, independent of the stripping. 

The bishop also tried an experiment, last season, to 
ascertain the quantity of juice obtained. He weighed 
2,300 pounds of cane, which gave 163 gallons of juice, 
weighing Sy^ lbs. to the gallon. He then reground the 
bagasse, and got 5 gallons more. Another experiment 
gave 67 lbs. of juice to 100 lbs. of cane. To do this, the 
mill must be first rate. 

Bishop P. has made an improvement upon his mill that 
I like. Instead of elevating the cane on the carrier, so 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1849 203 

as to pitch it down into the mill, he brings it up to a level, 
and there it is seized upon by two rollers that feed it to 
the mill in a very regular manner. All the bagasse is put 
in a pile to rot, for manure, as he is satisfied that, how- 
ever rich the soil may be at first, manure will be of great 
advantage after a few years. 

The amount of team required upon this place, besides 
oxen, is about 75 mules or horses, the latter being pre- 
ferred. Upon this point, there is great difference of 
opinion. Many contend that, as horses only cost about 
half as much as mules, will do more work, and live nearly 
as long, that it is economy to use them. 

The annual expenses of this plantation average about 
$8,000 ; and yet, they make a full supply of corn and hay, 
and manufacture almost everything that can be done 
upon the place. The wool and cotton are purchased in 
the bale, and cloth is spun and wove by the feeble portion 
of the people. Carts, wagons, plows, spades, hoes, &c., 
are all made upon the place. So are the shoes. But there 
is half a pound of pork for every mouth, every day, to be 
paid for, which swells the amount ; but it is the intention 
of the bishop to try hard to obviate this by raising his 
own hogs. This is an experiment I doubt the policy of. 
The difl^culty of curing pork in this climate, is one ob- 
jection, but the main one is, that the labor bestowed upon 
cane, instead of corn, will buy more pork than the corn 
will fatten. Then why try to make it? I also doubt the 
policy, upon most plantations, of manufacturing cloth; 
though the bishop says that his is spun and woven by old 
people, and by mothers, just before and after giving 
birth to children, and by invalids, or convalescents, who 
are unable to go to the field. The whole business of 
manufacturing of the materials and clothing all the 
people, is in the hands of one negro, who receives a cer- 
tain number of bales of wool and cotton, and therefrom 
provides all the clothes required by the people, without 
ever troubling his master, or overseer, about the matter. 

It is worthy of note here, that all labor ceases upon 



204 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

this plantation, even during the rolling season, upon the 
Sabbath. As the bishop himself is necessarily absent 
much of the time, he employs a curate, who preaches to 
his people, every Sunday, and conducts a large Sabbath 
school, and performs all the marriage and sepulture rites 
required. About one third of the whole number are mem- 
bers of the church, and are as consistent Christians as 
are usually found in any community. 

The average yield of corn upon this place, is about 26 
bushels to the acre, and the amount required for planta- 
tion use, about 11,000 bushels. 

Mr. Botner, the very intelligent overseer, is of the 
opinion that green bagasse injures land; but when rotten, 
is the best manure in the world. 

He is also of the opinion that subsoil plowing won't pay 
cost. In this, of course we differ. But I give opinions 
as I find them, for what they are worth, for the use of 
others. He uses the "Beranger plow," but thinks the 
"Jacob plow" the best of any ever tried in stiff land. He 
also thinks the "sidehill plow" one of the most labor- 
saving kind of tools in plowing back ditch banks. Much 
of the land in cultivation is newly cleared, and, of course, 
full of vegetable matter. Upon this, he thinks it abso- 
lutely necessary to burn the cane leaves and tops, as it 
would be very troublesome to attempt to plow them 
under, and would be of no real benefit. The distance 
apart of cane rows, upon this place, is eight feet. 

I am not willing to close the sketch of my visit to this 
place, without bearing testimony to the high character, 
both as a gentleman, an improving agriculturist, and a 
kind master to those whom Providence has placed him in 
charge of, which is universally accorded to Bishop Polk. 
As to his most excellent wife, she is certainly such a one 
as a great many planters' ladies might well imitate. 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1849 205 

Recipes for the Ladies. 

[New York American Agriculturist, 8:161; May, 1849] 

[March 25, 1849] 

I HOPE my dear friends will not imagine for a moment 
that I neglect their interests while taking notes. Here 
is proof that I am still mindful to pick up all little items 
like the following for future use : — 

Louisiana Muffin Bread. — Take two pints of flour and 
one and one half of sifted cornmeal, two spoonfuls of 
butter, one spoonful of yeast, and two eggs, and mix and 
bake for breakfast. It is good.^ 

Hopping Johnny (jambalaya). — Take a dressed 
chicken, or full-grown fowl, if not old, and cut all the 
flesh into small pieces, with a sharp knife. Put this into 
an iron pot, with a large spoonful of butter and one onion 
chopped fine ; steep and stir it till it is brown ; then add 
water enough to cover it, and put in some parsley, spices, 
and red pepper pods, chopped fine, and let it boil till you 
think it is barely done, taking care to stir it often, so as 
not to burn it; then stir in as much rice, when cooked, 
as will absorb all the water, which will be one pint of rice 
to two of water ; stir and boil it a minute or so, and then 
let it stand and simmer until the rice is cooked, and you 
will have a most delicious dish of palatable, digestible 
food. 

Something for the Children. — Make a dish of molasses 
candy, and, while it is hot, pour it out upon a deep plate, 
and stir in the meats of pecans, hickory nuts, hazle nuts, 
or peanuts, just as thick as you can stir them in, and then 
let it cool. Be careful and not eat too much of it, for it 
is very rich. It is a very nice dish for evening parties of 
the dear little girls and boys; and I have known some 
"big children" to like it pretty well. SOLON ROBINSON. 

Alabama, March 25th, 1849. 

^ Reviewer was moved by this article to ask for another southern 
recipe for bread, "made of hommony, and, perhaps, a little flour 
and eggs," American Agriculturist, 8:245 (August, 1849). 



206 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 
Alabama Wheat — Early Corn, etc. 

[New York American Agriculturist, 8:183; June, 1849] 

[March 27, 1849] 

Will your northern readers believe me, when I tell 
them, as I now do, that I saw to-day, March 27th, a 
field of wheat all fully headed out and in bloom? To 
all appearances now, it will be ripe enough to cut in three 
weeks, if the weather is warm. This early maturity will 
insure it against all danger from rust, and that is about 
the only danger of failing in a crop in this part of the 
country. This piece contains three acres, and is upon the 
farm of Dr. N. B. Cloud, whose name is familiar to many 
of your readers, as the man who actually makes manure 
in the south, and uses it, too, and by which he has raised 
the most cotton to the acre that ever was grown.^ 

As soon as this wheat is harvested. Dr. Cloud will fur- 
nish an account of it, and how he started with 300 grains 
of seed, sent him in a letter. It bids fair now to make 40 
bushels to the acre. Dr. C.'s post-office address is, Lock- 
land, Macon Co., Ala. I advise my southern friends to 
procure seed of him. To any subscriber of an agricul- 
tural paper, I will engage that he will most cheerfully 
send a little in a letter by mail, if they will write to him, 
and not forget to pay the postage. 

For several days past, I have seen many plows at work 
among corn, which was up so as to show the rows half a 

'Noah Bartlett Cloud, son of Noah and Margaret (Sweringen) 
Cloud, born at Edgefield, South Carolina, January 26, 1808; died 
at Montgomery, Alabama, November 5, 1875. Studied medicine 
in Philadelphia. At age of twenty-six married Mary M. Barton. 
Went to Alabama in 1846, and settled at La Place, Macon County, 
becoming a cotton planter. One of the founders (1853), and editor 
of the Americaii Cotton Planter, carrying on a work of primary 
importance to the agricultural history of Alabama. Opposed seces- 
sion, but served as a surgeon in the Confederate Army. See sketch 
in Dictionary of American Biography, 4:232. His views on meth- 
ods of cotton raising and his difference of opinion with Dr. M. W. 
Philips on the subject are discussed in Gray, History of Agricul- 
ture in the Southern United States, 2:706-7. 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1849 207 

mile or more, and which the hands were "thinning to a 
stand." 

Cotton. — I have seen many hundred acres of cotton up, 
but as the thermometer this morning, after sunrise, was 
at 34° F., I presume that it is thinned to death. 

This part of Alabama is fast coming to the time when 
all flour eaten here will be made on the many streams 
that drain the soil, on which will grow the wheat. Low 
prices for cotton may yet prove as great a blessing to the 
state as high prices have been a curse. SOLON. 

Tuskegee, Ala., March 27, 1849. 

Facts in Natural History. 

[New Yoi'k American Agricidtiirist, 8:194; June, 1849] 

[April 8, 1849] 

When I was in New Orleans last winter, I met with 
a most worthy old gentleman, Judge Strawbridge.^ I 
give his name, because there are a good many "old boys" 
about Philadelphia, that will like to hear of him ; and he 
invited me to go with him over to his place, across Lake 
Ponchartrain. 

Well, the Judge is very intelligent, and teHs a great 
many very interesting stories. Here is one of them : — 
"That tree you are looking at," said he, as I was looking 
at a famous old oak that he did not cut down when he 
built a house close by, "reminds me of a little anecdote. 
The first summer that I spent here, at Covington, I lived 
in a house a mile below. I was sitting one evening on the 
back gallery, watching the caterpillars crawling along the 

' George Strawbridge, a native of Maryland, went to Louisiana 
in the late 1820's, and became an eminent lawyer, particularly 
versed in mercantile or commercial law. Associate justice, Louisi- 
ana State Supreme Court, 1837-1839; judge of the Fourth District 
Court (New Orleans), until his death in the 1850's. His New 
Orleans home in 1849 was at 180 Girod Street. Cohen's New 
Orleans and Lafayette Directory, 1849, pp. 69, 169, 197; Fortier, 
Louisiana, 2:519; Sketches of Life and Character in Louisiana, 
44 (New Orleans, 1847). 



208 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

ground under an old oak like this, when my curiosity was 
excited to see one great fellow, about three inches long, 
going by at a most rapid rate, quite unaccountable. I got 
up directly, and went down to see whether he had got a 
locomotive in him, or what; when, behold, a great long- 
legged kind of wasp, that we have here, had mounted the 
worm a-straddle, as we would a horse, and was riding 
him to the shambles, intending, no doubt, to butcher him 
about sundown, for supper. It was so curious a sight, 
that I determined to watch the sequel, and see what the 
wasp would do with his wormship. But I missed it; for 
after riding several yards, he passed under a small tree, 
and directly I heard a rustling in the leaves overhead, 
and down dropped a lizard directly on the wasp and 
worm, and knocked the rider heels over head out of sight 
into the grass, and then gathered up the worm, and in 
a half minute after had him up the tree, eating him at his 
leisure, I suppose. This is the way with all nature — the 
strong rob the weak, which are often sent supperless to 
bed. I told the story to my family, and they laughed as 
though they doubted, or disbelieved, the fact. This is a 
trait in human nature, too. Facts are often doubted, and 
fables believed. 

"Well, years after, my wife and I were sitting under 
this very tree, when along came another caterpillar and 
his rider. Now, then, let us watch this, and see what the 
rider will do with his horse, said I. 'Oh,' she exclaimed ; 
'but here comes the conquerer for the 'lion's share.' 
And sure enough, like a hawk pouncing upon his prey, 
down came another lizard. Ah, well then, let us watch 
the battle, and see what the lizard will do with the spoil. 
But we did not ; for while the wasp and lizard were fight- 
ing for their prey, out came a toad from that very hole 
there at the root of the tree, and, unobserved by either 
of the combatants, hastily gobbled up the worm and 
hopped back again to his hiding place, while the lizard 
was running around like something half -crossed, or mad, 
at the loss of his supper." 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1849 209 

Such was the story, and it interested me very much, 
and I hope it will all the boys who read it. If the snake 
had been there to catch the toad, and the owl to catch the 
snake, and the boy to catch the owl, how truly natural 
dispositions would have been illustrated. 

Here is another curious fact related by the Judge. 
"When I first came to New Orleans," said he, "the old 
Carondelet Canal was the only means of communication 
with the lake. Upon this, as well as upon the bayou St. 
John, into which the canal opened, was a great mass of 
some kind of water plant, a sort of vine, that so covered 
the water and clung to the bows of vessels as seriously to 
impede navigation. 

"Some time afterwards, there came a Yankee to New 
Orleans, (I don't mean to say only one — their name is 
legion,) and he brought with him another 'water plant,* 
whether on speculation, or not, I don't know. But this 
was not a vine. It more nearly resembled a house leek 
than anything else. I forget what he called it. Well, he 
put it to grow in a water cask, and it multiplied and 
spread all over the top, and then it broke off in pieces and 
floated over and down the ditches and finally into the 
canal. The Frenchmen found and saved the Yankee in- 
novation, but on it went spreading, in spite of curses, and 
in a few years it was all over the canal and down the 
bayou. In the meantime, where was the old pest of the 
canal ? Gone entirely. The Yankee innovator had rooted 
the old habitant out, and grew there in its stead. Nobody 
cared for this ; it was not in the way, and it made a very 
good shade for alligators and catfish. 

"After a time, I was walking along the canal, and be- 
hold, the Yankee water plant was not there. When, why, 
or how it had gone, none could tell, but it was gone." 

Back of the city, along the old ridge road, (land that is 
not absolutely under water,) there are some extensive 
commons. While passing down the Ponchartrain Rail- 
road, the Judge called my attention to this, and then said : 
"a few years ago, this land was all covered with a per- 



210 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

feet wilderness of burdock. It was a most decided nui- 
sance. But little grass could grow, when all the ground 
was covered with these broad shading leaves. Horses 
and mules that run out at common, were a sight, with 
their tails and manes loaded and hair all matted together. 
What influence was brought to bear upon this plant, I 
know not, but it disappeared as suddenly and as mys- 
teriously as the water plant — all gone — not a root to be 
found. What was the cause, who can tell? Ah, well, we 
shall soon disappear, too, and it will only be a few old 
grey heads, like you and me, that will remember that we 
were once here." 

Now, boys, if you like these anecdotes, I have more of 
them yet to give you some day. Solon. 

Sparta, Geo., April Sth, 1849. 

Manufacturing in the South, 
graniteville. 

[National Intelligencer (triweekly), May 10, 1849] 

Millwood, (S.C.) April 29, 1849. 

Allow me space in your columns for a few words upon 
this subject, which I hope may be interesting to most of 
your readers, although, as a writer, I am much better 
known to the readers of agricultural papers than I am to 
political ones. 

I have just visited one of the finest new Cotton Facto- 
ries in all the South, and, taken all in all, one of the neat- 
est and best establishments I have ever seen any where. 
It is located in Edgefield District, (S.C.) twelve miles 
northeast of Augusta, and about sixty miles southwest 
of Columbia, upon a small durable stream that here tum- 
bles over the lowest ridge of granite in the State, and is 
well built of that material, handsomely dressed, and is 
two stories high, three hundred and fifty feet long, and 
fifty feet wide. The line of front is broken by projecting 
buttresses, through which are the entrances, and, with- 
out appearing large, afford ample rooms for stairways to 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1849 211 

the second story ; and, rising in a balcony from above the 
eves, also affords a stairway and entrance into the cock- 
loft, which is lighted in the roof, and is nearly equal to a 
third-story. 

The water is brought in a mile-long canal, and falls 
upon two wheels from a forty-feet head. 

The cotton is taken into the warehouse from wagons 
in the street, and passes some hundred feet from there 
on a railroad into the picker-room, in a stone building 
separate from the main one, and from thence, by the 
gradual stages of manufacture, upon the most beautiful 
and perfect machiney that modern ingenuity and Yankee 
skill can fashion, through the entire length of the build- 
ing, and out at the other end in cloth, and up and away 
into the store-house, corresponding to that of the cotton- 
house, but well away, to make all safe from fire. Most 
of the machinery is now in operation. When all is com- 
plete there will be 9,245 spindles and 300 looms, all oper- 
ated by three hundred men, girls, and boys, from twelve 
years up, and whose wages average now three dollars a 
week, most of them working by the piece. They are all 
natives of the "piney woods," except a few experienced 
overseers and superintendent. 

This mill will consume about ten bales a day and turn 
out ten or twelve thousand yards of thirty and thirty-six 
inch No. 14 shirtings and drillings. 

The monthly statement ending April 14f/i shotvs — 
$2,995 62 paid for labor. 



150 00 




" 120 gallons oil. 


88 00 




" 1,600 lbs. starch. 


12 00 




" coal and wood. 


203 39 




" sundry supplies. 


2,951 97 




" 45,415 lbs. of cotton, at 6 l/2c 


$6,400 98 





212 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

Goods manufactured in same time. 

1,188 pieces 4-4 sheeting, weighing 13,470 lbs., in 
38,448 yards, and cost for labor 2 634-1000 mills per 
yard, and for stock 2 994-1000 mills per yard, or 5 628- 
1000 mills per yard, total. 

2,650 pieces 7-8 shirting, 26,369 lbs., 87,689 yards, and 
cost 2 261-1000 mills per yard for labor, and 2 571-1000 
mills per yard for stock, or, total, 4 832-1000 mills. 

The building is warmed by steam and lighted with oil. 

Labor is all paid monthly in cash. There are eighty- 
three dwellings, a hotel, a saw mill, and grist mill, and all 
needed out-buildings, and schoolhouse, and two of the 
neatest and prettiest little gothic churches ever seen em- 
bowered in the piney-wood forest; and a tract of nine 
thousand acres of land, including another mill site, all of 
which has cost the company $300,000. 

Most of the dwellings are two-story, with portico and 
handsome front yards and gardens, and large enough to 
give good room for a large family. For small families 
there are numbers of snug little gothic cottages, all 
painted like blue granite, and hence the name of Granite- 
ville. The whole conception and finish appears to be due 
to the active mind of the President of the company, Wm. 
Gregg, Esq.,^ whom I regret I did not see. 

As the place is only a short mile from the Charleston 

* William Gregg, born in Monongalia County, Virginia (now 
West Virginia), February, 1800. Removed in 1810 to Georgia, 
with his uncle, Jacob Gregg, who erected one of the first cotton 
factories of the South on Little River between Monticello and Madi- 
son. Was sent to Kentucky to learn the trade of watchmaker, and 
remained till 1821. In 1824 established himself in business in 
Columbia, South Carolina, and became eminently successful. Re- 
tired in ill health in 1834, but in 1837 purchased a large interest in 
Vaucluse Manufacturing Company in Edgefield. In 1838, resumed 
his business connection with Hayden, Gregg and Company. Trav- 
eled in the North and abroad. Wrote essays on domestic industry. 
One of the best-known cotton men in the upcountry. Snowden, 
Yates, and Cutler, H. G. (eds.). History of Soiith Carolina, 2:637- 
38, 1167 (Lewis Publishing Co., Chicago and New York, 1920); 
De Bow's Review, 10:348-52 (March, 1851). 




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SOLON ROBINSON, 1849 213 

and Augusta railroad, I hope every traveller who feels a 
deep interest in the prosperity of our country will pay 
this place a visit as he passes along. 

I have the details of the item of cost, as I also have 
notes of several other similar establishments, particu- 
larly "Vacluse," three miles above; and another large 
new mill at Augusta, where there is one of the finest 
water-powers in the country ; also, of Columbus, Georgia ; 
but I will not now burden your columns. If, however, 
they should prove to be current, I will, when I see you 
face to face, give you a few of my notes. 

As I am travelling slowly in my own carriage, (as I 
have been for six months,) viewing all that I find inter- 
esting, as connected with my agricultural tour through 
the South, it will be some weeks before I reach Washing- 
ton; but then, if not before, I will try to write a more 
interesting sketch. 

During my journey I have had great opportunities to 
see negro slavery as it is, and am free to say that all the 
objections I ever had to the institution must give way to 
the strong arguments of light and reason, that, at least 
to the negro, it brings a thousand blessings to one curse. 
I could tell you facts about the situation of the three hun- 
dred slaves upon the plantation of Col. Wade Hampton,^ 
where I now write this, that would go to show the con- 
dition of these people to be almost inconceivably better 
than that of thousands of white "freemen" throughout 
all this region — the same class of people from whence 
Col. Gregg has drawn his factory operatives, because 
they are found to be cheaper than blacks; and, for an 
obvious reason, there are no children, old, sick, or infirm 
to be supported. They are free, which also means free to 

MVade Hampton, son of General Wade Hampton (1754-1835), 
born April 21, 1791; died on a plantation near the Mississippi 
River, February 10, 1858. Acting inspector-general and aide to 
General Jackson at New Orleans, in January, 1815. Appletons' 
Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 3:69-70; his Carolina planta- 
tion is described in The Plough, the Loom, and the Anvil, 2:164-67 
(September, 1849), and by R. L. Allen in the American Agricul- 
turist, 6:20-21 (January, 1847). 



214 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

starve if unable to work; while the slave is always pro- 
vided for at his master's expense. 

The damage done by the late frost you can hardly form 
an idea of unless you were here to see. The cotton crop 
must be greatly shortened, for the scarcity of seed to 
replant is very great, while all that was above ground 
has been killed. In addition to this there has been no 
rain for five weeks, and of course the replant cannot vege- 
tate. Fruit has been almost entirely killed. The persim- 
mon and some of the oaks are as dry as in midwinter. 
Corn was much of it killed a little below the surface of 
the ground, and has to be replanted. 

I am, with much respect, yours, &c. 

Solon Robinson. 

A Few More Trifles for the Ladies. 

[New York Americaji Agriculturist, 8:193; June, 1849] 

[April, 1849] 

To Purify Tallow. — Mix 5 parts of beef tallow with 3 
parts of mutton tallow, in a copper or iron kettle, with 
half a pint of water to each pound of grease. When 
melted, mix 8 ounces of brandy, 1 ounce of salt of tartar, 
1 ounce of cream of tartar, 1 ounce of sal ammoniac, 2 
ounces of pure and dry potash, with the tallow. Boil fif- 
teen minutes, and set off to cool. When cold, take off in 
cake and bleach it in the air and dew a few days and 
nights. It will then be hard and white. Candles, with a 
fine cotton-yarn wick, (6 to a pound,) will burn 14 hours. 

Tomato Catchup. — First bake your tomatoes, then 
squeeze them through a sieve. Add to 6 quarts of juice 
an equal quantity of wine vinegar ; boil slow until it be- 
gins to thicken ; then add cloves, allspice, and pepper, Y2 
an ounce each, cinnamon 14 of ^n ounce, and 2 nutmegs, 
all finely powdered. As it thickens, add four spoonfuls 
of salt, and when done, pour out in an earthen dish to 
cool. Bottle, cork, and seal, and it will keep years in a 
warm climate. 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1849 215 

Potato Pudding. — Take % of a pound of sugar, % 
ditto of butter, and beat well together ; add one pound of 
boiled potatoes, (Irish or sweet,) rubbed fine through a 
collander or mashed ; six eggs, the whites and yolks beat 
separately, and a wineglassf ul of brandy and one of wine, 
a trifle of rose water, and cinnamon or nutmeg, as much 
as you like. 

Rice Bread. — Take six tablespoonfuls of boiled rice, 
and one of butter; rub them together, and then pour in 
half a pint of milk ; add two eggs, and six tablespoonfuls 
of wheat flour. Mix all well together, and bake a little 
brown; and you will have a very good and wholesome 
kind of bread. SOLON. 

Columbia, S. C, April, 1849. 

Cotton Manufacturing at the South. 

[New York American Agriculturist, 8:212-13; July, 1849'] 

[May 6, 1849] 

Answer to M. W. Philips, of Mississippi. — If no other 
person has done it, I offer the following answer to Dr. 
Philips' inquiry about a cotton factory, &c., in the March 
number of the Agriculturist.^ 

First, the Size of Building. — The Graniteville Factory, 
in Edgefield District, S. C, 12 miles north of Hamburg, 
contains 9,245 spindles and 300 looms, and all the ma- 
chinery of the very best kind and modern improvements, 
for making No. 14 sheetings and drillings. The build- 
ing is of solid blue granite, 350 feet long and 50 feet wide, 
two stories high, with a good room in the attic, equal to 
half a floor or more. The picker room is also stone, sep- 
arate from main building, two stories high. Store houses, 
offices, two churches, a school house, 83 dwellings of 
wood, and all the fixings of the neatest kind, with two 
dams, and races a mile long, 40 feet head, two turbine 

'Reprinted in De Bow's Review, 7:456-58 (November, 1849). 
^ "Cotton Manufactures — Market Wagons," Amei'ican Agricul- 
turist, 8:93. 



216 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

wheels, a saw and grist mill, a hotel, and 9,000 acres of 
land, all cost $300,000, or $32.44 for each spindle. The 
mills in Lowell, cost from $35 to $38 a spindle. A steam 
mill at Salem, Mass, cost $21 a spindle for 30,000 spin- 
dles, not including dwellings for operatives. 

The details of cost at Graniteville are as follows : — 

Real estate, $ 12,222.35 

Canals and dams, 9,505.46 

Factory buildings, 60,144.57 

Water wheels and flumes, 6,949.12 

Shafting and gearing, 12,663.99 

Machinery, 121,754.03 

Fire and steam apparatus, 5,947.65 

Starting up mill, and furniture, 3,587.96 

Saw mill, machine shop, &c., 9,079.86 

Cord clothing, 3,010.00 

Dwelling houses, 43,293.18 

Streets and fences, 1,998.80 

Contingencies not yet carried to proper ac- 
count 3,307.49 

Margin left for future expenditures, 6,539.57 

Total $300,000.00 

The building is warmed by steam pipes as all should be. 

There is a new factory at Augusta, Georgia, contain- 
ing about the same amount of machinery, 208 feet long, 
50 wide, and five stories high. The stairways of each are 
in projecting towers in front. Both of these are operated 
with white laborers, natives to the soil. These will con- 
sume ten bales a day and turn out 10 to 12,000 yards, of 
30 and 36-inch sheetings and drillings. Cotton costs now 
QYi. cents delivered. Average wages of all the men, 
women, and children, at Graniteville, in April last, $3.05 
a week. Most of work done by the piece. Number of 
hands, 300. 

At Vaucluse, on the same stream, the number of hands 
94. Average wages, through last year 37.85 cents per 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1849 217 

day of 12 hours work. Number of spindles 2,280 and 43 
looms, making 8-ounce Osnaburg and bundle yarn. Hands 
employed, 11 men, 50 to 60 girls from 10 to 25 years, and 
balance boys, from 12 to 20 years of age. Capital in the 
factory and buildings and lands, counted at cost, on a 
second-hand purchase by General Jones,^ the present 
owner, $30,000 and floating capital $20,000. The build- 
ing is granite 40 feet by 80, four stories high, with a 
room in roof equal to three fourths of a story, and stair- 
way in projecting tower. The picking room separate, 
20 feet by 40. The machinery not of most modern kind, 
as some of it has been in use 17 years. In 1848, the 
wheel run 283 V^ days, and used 367,404 lbs. of cotton, 
excluding waste, costing 6 cents 7.388 mills per pound, 
making $24,758.81, and made 71,615 lbs. of yarn that 
netted 14 cents per pound, and 295,789 lbs. of cloth, or 
591,57914 yards that netted 7 cents per yard. The details 
of cost of this was, for 6,895 14 days' picking, &c., 
$2,268.39, or 6.175 mills per pound. 

mills per lb. 
7,922 days' spinning, 
2,246 " spooling & warping 1.406 
1,4501/4 " dressing, 

569 " drawing in, 
4,937% " weaving, 

562 " trimming & baling, 
1,114 " hanking and 

bundling yarn, 4.953 354.75 

840% " machinist, watch, roller coverer, 
and all extra 
work, 1.559mills per lb., 572.90 

making the cost of labor put upon cloth, to 2 
cents 9.361 mills per lb., or 1 cent 4.681 mills per 

'James Jones, born October 3, 1805; died October 20, 1865. Prac- 
ticed law at Edgefield. Served in the Seminole and Civil wars. 
Held many state offices. The Vaucluse factory is said to have been 
the first cotton factory in South Carolina. See Chapman, John A., 
History of Edgefield County from the Earliest Settlements to 1897, 
382-84 (Newberry, S. C, 1897). 



6.933 


$2,547.37 


1.406 


415.98 


2.131 


630.24 


0.633 


187.30 


9.360 


2,768.64 


1.164 


344.34 



218 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

yard, and the cost of labor on yarn 1 cent 9.62 
mills per lb., to which add as above, cost of cot- 
ton, and 743 gallons of oil equal to 2.471 mills 
per lb. of cotton, 908.03 

Contingencies which include materials, com- 
missions, insurance upon $20,000, &c., and is 
equal to 1 cent 1.305 mills per lb. of cotton, 4,153.39 

Transportation on cotton yarn and cloth 3.856 

mills per lb., 1,416.73 

73 barrels of flour for sizing, chargeable to cost 

of cloth 1.092 mills per lb. 323.20 

48 reams of paper, chargeable to cost of yarn, 

1.156 mills per lb., 82.80 

Interest on $50,000 capital, 7 per cent, 9.526 

mills per lb., of cot., 3,500.00 

Net profits above all cost and interest as above, 7,826.81 

Total cost of cloth per lb, 12 cents 4.999 mills, 
or 6 cents 2.499 mills per yard. 

Total cost of yarn, 11 cents 5.322 mills per lb. 

One fourth of the cotton used was short staple Nankin, 
and made into striped Osnaburgs. All cloth 31 inches 
wide, 8 oz. to the yard. Average daily consumption of 
cotton, 1,298 lbs. 

All the hands, except a few men who are unmarried, 
and all that can, work by the piece. Families all live in 
factory houses, rent free, and cultivate all the land they 
choose to fence. General Jones has been here nine years, 
and no case of fever among hands. The mill stopt a few 
days last year on account of pneumonia among the opera- 
tives. The General has tried both and gives preference 
to white labor. At Saluda Factory, near Columbia, all 
operatives are black. DeKalb Factory, at Camden, has 
1,680 spindles and 40 looms, 93 hands ; two thirds white 
and one third black. Average 1,200 lbs. of yarn and 
cloth a day, one third yarn and two thirds 8-ounce Osna- 
burgs. Used last year 353,681 lbs. cotton and made 
90,145 lbs of yarn and 234,055 lbs. of cloth — running 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1849 219 

mill 2881/2 days of 11 1/2 hours. Size of building 125 feet 
by 29, four stories. Average wages of hired blacks, 18% 
cents a day. They board themselves. Wages of whites, 
13 to 26 cents, and weavers by the piece — 18 cents a cut 
of 33 yards, and average about 3 cuts a day. Weavers' 
wages of the last month from $9.90 to $18 per week. 

Marlborough Factory, near Bennetville, S. C, owned 
by Captain M. Townsend,^ runs 1,000 spindles on coarse 
yarns, Nos. 5 to 10, with 35 hands from 10 years old up, 
averaging $1.90 a week, including 5 slaves counted at $8 
a month — consumes 500 bales a year, at 5 cents a pound, 
and made last year 162,500 lbs. yarn. Average value 
at home, 12 V2 cents per lb. Cost of production in labor 
21/2 to 2% cents per lb. Capital $20,000 in mill and $5,000 
floating. Sells about a third of yarn at home, and bal- 
ance in New York. Hands all work by the day and week, 
and included in average cost is a machinist now repair- 
ing, whose wages are $9 a week. Solon Robinson. 

Raleigh, N.C., May 6th, 1849. 

Mr. Robinson's Tour. — No. 12. 

[New York American Agriculturist, 8:366-67; Dec, 1849'] 

[Written October 6, 1849, covering May 9, 1849^] 

The Turpentine Btcsiness of North Carolina. — In this 
number, I will give some facts concerning the turpentine 
business of North Carolina. The first place that I ex- 
amined particularly, was that of Mr. David Murphy,^ ten 

^ Meekin Townsend, prominent merchant and manufacturer. Died 
in 1851 at the age of forty-five. Marlborough Cotton Factory was 
burned in 1850 and never rebuilt. Cyclopedia of Etninent and Rep- 
resentative Men of the Carolinas of the 19th Century, 1:191 (Madi- 
son, Wis., 1892). 

^ Reprinted in The Wisconsin Farmer and Northwestern ddti- 
vator, Racine, Wisconsin, 2:5-6 (January, 1850). 

' This article is placed here to conform to Robinson's itinerary. 

* David Murphy, son of Patrick and Elizabeth (Kelso) Murphy 
who came from Scotland to America and settled in Sampson 
County, North Carolina, in 1774. Patrick acquired much heavily 
timbered land and built a substantial home. David Murphy was 



220 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

miles from Fayetteville, where he has lately settled, hav- 
ing previously carried on the business in Hanover county, 
which he was obliged to abandon in consequence of the 
loss of 30,000 trees in one season, by what some assert to 
be an insect, while others think the insect to be a conse- 
quence of the disease that kills the pines (See p. 225 of 
our seventh volume). Be this as it may, the destruction 
is enormous, and if it were not for the almost unbounded 
quantities of long-leaf pine in the states of North Caro- 
lina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Florida, Louisi- 
ana, and Mississippi, it might well be feared that the 
source of supply would soon be exhausted. 

Mr. Murphy bought his land about two years ago for 
one to two dollars an acre, and it is of but little value 
except for a turpentine plantation. He has at present 
about 60,000 trees boxed, and is daily increasing the 
number. Four hands can tend 36,000 trees ; that is, three 
hands to cut and one to dip; and, if the trees are good, 
and the season propitious, they will gather 800 barrels of 
turpentine a year. This is now, (May, 1849,) worth, in 
Wilmington, the great turpentine depot, $2.25 a barrel, 
and cost of transportation is fifty cents a barrel. He 
thinks that at present prices, in a good place, hands will 
average about $200 a year clear of expenses. Mr. M. 
distils all of his pitch. Two hands will run a hundred 
barrels through in two days. This will make 700 gallons 
of spirits, which is put up in the best of seasoned white- 
oak casks, coated with glue on the inside, to prevent 
leakage. It is worth about 25 cents a gallon at Wilming- 
ton, pay for barrel extra. The rosin, if from new trees, 
or, as it is termed, "virgin turpentine," is usually saved 
and put up in the barrels from whence the crude article 
has been taken, and is worth, or was, last year, about $2 

living in Cumberland County from 1850 to 1853, and served in the 
county courts as a juror from the Rockfish section. Cumberland 
County Court Minutes, 1850-1853; Connor, Robert Diggs Wim- 
berly, et al., History of North Carolina, 6:338 (Lewis Publishing 
Co., Chicago and New York, 1919) ; letter from the North Caro- 
lina Historical Commission to Herbert A. Kellar, May 14, 1936. 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1849 221 

a barrel ; while the common rosin is often not worth more 
than 25 cents, and will not pay for transportation any 
considerable distance. Therefore, at many places, not 
convenient to water carriage, it is run out from the dis- 
tillery in wooden troughs, or gutters, that lead it far 
enough away from the building to be burnt without dan- 
ger, and is there set on fire. I have thus seen many tons 
destroyed, while I could not but think how valuable it 
would be to many a poor family in this city to help make 
the pot boil. Millions of pounds are consumed in this 
way every year. The spirit from new boxes is also of a 
superior quality. I have seen it as limped as spring 
water. 

In commencing a new place, the first process is, to 
chop a "box," or hole, in winter, in one side of the tree, 
close down to the ground, that will hold from a pint to 
a quart, according to the size of the tree. An expert hand 
will cut about sixty boxes a day. About the first of March, 
the season commences, and continues till the first of Oc- 
tober. Every week, or oftener, if there should be rain, 
a hand goes round and "chips" off the bark about an inch 
wide, and nearly as long as the length of the box. This 
is done with a tool constructed to suit the position of the 
part to be cut. When first commencing, a crooked- 
bladed hatchet is used. Then a tool with handles like a 
drawing knife, with a blade that cuts a chip like a gouge. 
Finally, a similar tool is attached to a pole that enables 
the operator to make his cut 12 or 15 feet above the 
ground. When one side of a tree is "used up," a box is 
cut in the other, and sometimes, in large trees, a third box 
is cut. The second side is always the best. Some persons 
tap all sides at once. This exhausts the tree much quicker. 
By the first process, trees will last eight or ten years. 
After the "face" becomes several feet long, most of the 
turpentine coats the tree before it reaches the box. This 
has to be scraped off, but is not near the value of new 
boxes, which, of some new and good trees, require empty- 
ing once in four weeks, but generally three or four times 



222 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

during the dripping season. The turpentine is taken out 
of the boxes by a paddle, which should be of iron, and so 
should the buckets. These are emptied into barrels stand- 
ing around all about the forest. Water in the boxes or 
barrels does no harm, but rains stop the dripping until re- 
cut. Damp weather is best. On clay land, the product is 
much affected by drouth. The business is considered 
very healthy, and those engaged in it are fond of that 
kind of employment. It requires, however, the most 
able-bodied men. After the close of the season, the hands 
are employed during the winter in scraping old trees, 
boxing new ones, and making barrels, preparatory to the 
spring business. 

Mr. Henry Elliott,^ a gentleman well known in the 
neighborhood of Fayetteville, says that a first rate hand 
can "chip" from 10,000 to 12,000 trees a week and go 
over his task every week at that. He has often seen new 
boxes filled in three weeks, but old ones run seven or 
eight. He says that he has observed the greatest death 
among pines in February, when there were no insects to 
be seen. He entirely repudiates the idea that a cut on 
dead pine is the cause of death to the growing trees. His 
experience is somewhat extensive, as he has been all his 
life engaged in the lumber business. He says that trees, 
when attacked by disease, flow two or three times as fast 

' Henry Elliot, eldest son of Mary Turner and George Elliot of 
Ellerslie plantation, in Harnett County, North Carolina. George 
Elliot came to America before the Revolution and engaged in the 
lumber business, later becoming an extensive planter and large 
slave owner. Henry Elliot served in the War of 1812. He was 
justice of peace in Cumberland County and active in the adminis- 
trative duties of the county, 1845-1853. Married Isabella Smith, 
March 6, 1819. His father left him considerable property includ- 
ing, "one-fourth part value of all lands not heretofore conveyed, 
. . . which shall . . . include one-half of one of my saw-mills, . . . 
one-sixth part of all my slaves, . . . one-fourth of all the oxen, 
. . . one-sixth of all the remaining of the stock. . . ." He was 
directed to pay in cash or negroes $500 toward the education of his 
sister. Will of George Elliot, probated December term of court, 
1807, Cumberland County Wills, 1759-1869; Connor, History of 
North Carolina, 5:271. 





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The Turpentine Industry 

[From Oite Hundred Years' Progress of the United States, p. 95] 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1849 223 

as healthy ones. Those which have been drained of their 
turpentine are nearly worthless for lumber. 

Between Fayetteville and Tarborough, I saw a great 
many thousand trees boxed, and in one place 15,000 are 
chipped by two hands working four days a week. The 
most common quantity to a hand is from ninety to one 
hundred and twenty barrels a year. It is estimated to 
take 10,000 trees to fill 50 barrels. A barrel contains 280 
lbs. Hands, however, often have made 200 barrels of dip 
turpentine in a season, and nearly half as much more of 
"scrape" ; the latter is of but little value. It is estimated 
to be worth two cents a mile per barrel to haul turpen- 
tine. Some of the vehicles which I have seen in use for 
that purpose would be curiosities worthy a place at the 
fair of the American Institute. One ox harnessed in 
shafts of a most primitive-looking cart driven by a "raal 
ginuine North-Carolina piney-woods man," or as is the 
case sometimes, a pair of shafts without any wheels, with 
a barrel or two of crude turpentine for a load, would be 
a curious sight in Broadway, 

The making of tar I must reserve for another letter, 
lest I should stick my readers fast in an over dose of 
pitch, turpentine, and tar. SOLON RoBiNSON. 

New York, October 6, 1849. 

Mr. Robinson's Tour. — No. 12 [13]. 

[New York American Agriculturist, 9:27-29; Jan., 1850] 

[Written November 7, 1849, covering May 13, 1849, and 

following] 

Estates of the Messrs. Burgivin. — About three miles 
below the ferry at Halifax, N.C., on the east side of the 
Roanoke, I entered the Burgwin estates, formerly owned 
by the late Thomas Pollock,^ Esq., of Edenton, and only 

' In the middle 1700's Thomas, George, and CuUen Pollock owned 
land in Chowan, Bertie, and Tyri-ell counties, North Carolina. In 
October, 1816, Thomas Pollock obtained a grant of 2560 acres of 
land in Chowan County. Letter from Noi'th Carolina Historical 
Commission to Herbert A. Kellar, May 14, 1936. 



224 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

for a few years past by the present proprietors, Mr. 
Burgwin, senior, and his sons, T. Pollock Burgwin and 
Henry K. Burgwin/ 

It was just before sundown, on the 13th of May, when 
I crossed the ferry, after a long day's drive, which I was 
prompted to do by the fact that the river and clouds both 
threatened a flood that might detain me several days, 
which I proposed to spend beneath the hospitable roof of 
an intelligent North Carolina planter, rather than in a 
dull town. So taking such directions as a negro only can 
give a stranger, I commenced a voyage of discovery 
through two or three intervening plantations, and was 
very near becoming entangled with blind roads and back 
water, already overflowing and cutting off communica- 
tion, with darkness and a thunder-storm threatening, 
when I discovered a carriage approaching, which I found 
to contain a handsome, intelligent-looking gentleman, with 
piercing black eyes, and black hair just beginning to 
show a few silvery streaks. No sooner had I inquired if 
that was Mr. Burgwin, and announced my name, than he 
leaped from his own, and approached my carriage to wel- 
come me most heartily as an old acquaintance, though 
this was our first meeting. Sending forward the carriage 
upon the errand of mercy that brought him out, which 
was to carry consolation and mercy to a sick servant, 
he took a seat with me and drove to the "Cottage," the 
residence of Mr. T. Pollock Burgwin, whom I had just 
met, and of his father when not at his place on the Trent. 
Although I missed the much-loved pleasure of female 
society, we managed to pass the time rapidly along some- 

' John Fanning Burgwyn (the name was originally Burgwin), a 
native of Thornbury, Gloucestershire, England, born March 14, 
1783, died June 18, 1864. Two of his six sons, Thomas Pollock and 
Henry K. Burgwyn, lived for a time in the North. Upon returning 
to plantation life in North Carolina, they proposed to manumit their 
slaves, but experiments with white labor proved so costly that they 
were apparently reconciled to the slave system. Ashe, Samuel 
A'Court, Biographical History of North Carolina . . . , 8:58-66, 
73-80 (Greensboro, 1905) ; Phillips, Ulrich B., Life and Labor in 
the Old South, 252-53 (Boston, 1929). 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1849 225 

what beyond midnight, conversing exclusively upon the 
subject of improving and rendering fertile the worn-out 
lands of North Carolina and Virginia. Upon this subject 
Mr. B. is an enthusiast. He has been an extensive travel- 
ler, and has visited some of the best cultivated farms of 
the northern states ; and when he came into possession of 
his property here in 1840, instead of leaving it to be 
utterly worn out by overseers, who never learned any 
other art of tillage than cutting down and burning up 
timber, planting cotton, and wearing out land, — which is 
then "turned out" to grow up again while they cut down 
more, — he determined to apply the knowledge he had 
gained from reading and travelling, and devote all the 
energies of his strong mind to an effort to change that 
old, ruinous system, which has nearly destroyed and de- 
populated some sections of the south. To carry out his 
plans, he found it absolutely necessary to change his over- 
seer for a young man who had no plans of his own, but 
was willing to obey orders. 

In speaking of the operations of this gentleman it may 
be understood that I also include the plantations of his 
father and brother, as all three are conducted upon the 
same general system. In the first place, cotton is utterly 
discarded from the premises, and clover, yes, rich, luxu- 
riant red clover, by the hundred and thousand acres, has 
been made to grow where nothing but brown sedge and 
oldfield pines grew before. Illustrative of this fact Mr. B. 
related to me an anecdote. There was one tract known 
as the "old field," containing about an hundred acres, 
upland, clayey, loamy soil, nearly level, "lying out," that 
is, abandoned as no longer fit for cultivation, covered 
with brown sedge, and growing up to oldfield pines. 

Calling the attention of his overseer one day, who had 
already set him down as utterly crazy, and determined to 
ruin his land if not himself by his "new-fangled plows," 
and insisting upon having every furrow at least ten 
inches deep, he fairly drove the man to a standing point 
by ordering him to prepare that "old field" for the plow, 



226 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

Utterly amazed at the order, the fellow dropped the reins 
upon his horse's neck, turned round, and stared Mr. B. 
in the face as if to discover whether he was in sober 
earnestness, and answered him with an inquiring "Sir?" 
Mr. B. repeated the order, and the overseer replied: 
"Why, Mr. Burgwin, do you expect to raise a crop upon 
that field? If you do, I can assure you that I wore that 
land out ten years ago." 

"I know it," said Mr. B. ; "but I don't intend you shall 
wear out m?/ land; and if you think you cannot conduct 
my business just as I think best, I will try to get some 
one that will do it ; for I would not allow you to manage 
the place according to your notions, if you would give me 
five thousand dollars a-year." 

"Well, sir, if you order it, I suppose I can clear up and 
plow the land ; and, if you insist upon it, will turn you up 
a bed of brick clay, ten inches deep ; but let me tell you, 
sir, 7J0U ivill never 7nake enough to pay for the salt your 
ho7'ses eat while doing it." 

Well, the "old field" was plowed up, and manured as 
well as the scanty supply would afford, and planted with 
corn. The first crop was twelve bushels to the acre, 
the second, thirteen bushels, the third, six bushels of 
wheat; it was then dressed with a good coat of stable 
manure and forty bushels of lime to the acre, and sowed 
with wheat, in October, '48, which, if it had not been for 
that destructive frost in April, '49, would undoubtedly 
have averaged twenty, and probably twenty-five, bushels 
to the acre, and still carry a most excellent crop of clover, 
which, after receiving a bushel of plaster to the acre in 
May, if it does not "pay for the salt the horses eat," it 
will pay for a considerable quantity that the herd of cat- 
tle will require while feeding upon it. Cattle so fed are 
under charge of a herdsman, and at night are yarded in 
temporary pens upon the most barren knolls or galled 
hill-sides ; which puts them in a condition, in their turn, 
to produce rich crops of corn, wheat, and clover. 

The order of rotation is, — commence with a field at 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1849 227 

rest, and plow ten inches deep, in April and May, and 
sow cowpeas broadcast, and harrow in ; or break up, that 
is plow in the fall or winter, turning under all the manure 
that can be given. In the spring, plant corn, and, at the 
last working of the corn, sow peas broadcast ; cut off the 
corn in September, plow under the peas, and give a top 
dressing of lime, at the rate of 35 or 40 bushels per acre, 
and then sow and harrow in 5 to 8 pecks of wheat per 
acre. In February or March, following, sow 4 quarts of 
clover seed per acre. Harvest the wheat in June, and 
sow one bushel of plaster per acre in August, and allow 
no stock to run upon the stubble. Next April, or May, 
sow again one bushel of plaster per acre, and pasture 
lightly during the summer. In August of this year, fal- 
low for wheat, which is seeded in October, and the clover 
then seeds itself. For corn, the land is thoroughly har- 
rowed after plowing, and then planted in drills, five feet 
apart. Sometimes a single stalk is left every 18 inches 
apart, in the drills ; at other plantings, two stalks of corn 
are left every 36 inches apart, in the drills. The corn is 
then cultivated with small plows, cultivators, and hoes. 

Manure is used, either upon corn or wheat ground, on 
such parts as require it most. But after the land is 
brought to that state, by means of the valuable system of 
plowing, manure, and lime, that it will produce a good 
crop of clover, Mr. B. is sure of a good crop of wheat or 
corn, whenever required. 

Lime costs about ten cents a bushel, and is applied once 
in five years, only. It is brought from New York in the 
same vessels that come after corn and wheat, which were 
first induced to come up the Roanoke thus far by the in- 
fluence of the Messrs. Burgwin. This point is 115 miles 
above the sound, and vessels are towed up by steamboats. 
One vessel brought up 2,100 bushels of lime, last spring, 
which was unloaded by the hands upon H. K. Burgwin's 
place, in one day, and 6,650 bushels of corn, (186 tons,) 
put on board in three days more. The price of corn, on 
board, was 53 cents. Wheat 95 cents. The Messrs. Burg- 



228 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

win estimate their present crop of wheat at 20,000 bush- 
els, and of corn, last year, 26,000 bushels ; and the neigh- 
borhood ships from 500,000 to 600,000 bushels of corn 
a-year. The amount of H. K. Burgwin's sales, last year, 
was $222 to each field hand; and one of his neighbors, 
below, Mr. Richard H. Smith,^ to $245 — which is better 
than has been done in cotton for many years. Mr. Smith's 
entire crop sold, was ninety-three barrels of corn, and 
12,000 pounds of seed cotton, to each hand, counting all 
in the field over fourteen years old. [A "barrel" of corn 
is five bushels of shelled corn.] Mr. H. K. Burgwin has 
made some pork in former years, but does not think it 
good policy to feed sound corn to hogs, at present prices 
of corn and pork. 

While I was at these plantations, a flood in the river, 
which rises thirty feet, spread over much of the bottom 
lands. This they are about to prevent by heavy embank- 
ments; but it is a question with me whether it will pay 
costs; for, notwithstanding loss of crops occasionally, 
these overflows add immense fertility to the land. 

The Messrs. B. use nine of Hussey's reapers, which 
they infinitely prefer to M'Cormick's \^ and Mr. T. P. B. 
was engaged in erecting a threshing machine to go by 
steam, similar to Mr. Boiling's, on James River, which he 
finds necessary to meet the demands of his increasing 
crops, under his, (in that region,) new system of farm- 
ing; notwithstanding the predictions of neighbors, over- 

^ Richard H. Smith, influential planter, born near Scotland Neck, 
North Carolina, May 10, 1812. Lawyer. State legislator, 1848- 
1850, 1852-1855. Delegate to Secession Convention, 1861. First 
president of the Roanoke and Tar River Agricultural Society. Died 
Mai-ch 3, 1893, at Scotland Neck. Allen, William C., History of 
Halifax County, 209-12 (Boston, 1918). 

= Hutchinson, William T., Cyrns Hall McCormick . . . , 370-74 
(New York, 1930), gives an interesting account of a visit of A. D. 
Hager, McCormick's agent, to the Burgwyn plantations in 1854 for 
the purpose of attempting to overcome the prejudice of the Burg- 
wyns. The selection of Hager, a Vermont Yankee, for this diplo- 
matic mission was not a happy one, and the Burgwyns continued 
their preference for Hussey's machine. 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1849 229 

seers, and even negroes, that he would ruin his land, 
break up himself, and be ready to sell out, after trying 
his "new-fangled notions" a year or two. Besides his deep 
plowing, which, it was thought by some persons, would 
destroy the fertility of the soil, he has made a good deal 
of use of the subsoil plow; and the amount of ditching 
which he has done is very great; but his increased crops 
will soon pay the expense. His crop of corn, last year, 
upon 600 acres, averaged thirty-one bushels ; but he aims 
at an average of forty-five. The usual average, upon 
upland, will not exceed fifteen, and forty bushels is con- 
sidered a great crop, even on the swamp lands upon Trent 
River; so says the elder Mr. Burgwin. To show the enor- 
mous increase of manure, I will state that he hauled out, 
last year, upwards of 3,000 four-horse, or ox loads; this 
is spread broadcast and plowed in. His crop sold, the 
same year, from the labor of fifty hands, (besides ditch- 
ing, manuring, and other improvements, and making all 
supplies of bread and meat, and part of the clothing for 
the people,) was 10,000 bushels of corn, at 45 cents, and 
3,000 bushels of wheat, at 90 cents. The wheat, last year, 
averaged, upon 270 acres, twelve bushels ; and upon fifty 
acres of that which alone was limed, the average was 
twenty-two bushels — more than paying for liming in the 
first crop. 

His growing crop, when I was on the place, was 450 
acres of wheat, 350 corn, 520 clover, upon which he keeps 
an hundred head of cattle, and hogs unnumbered. He 
had, last year, however, 24,000 pounds of pork, which 
was mostly fatted upon "wild potatoes," peas, pumpkins, 
clover, and soft corn. The crops upon each of the other 
plantations, are upon nearly the same scale. 

The Messrs. Burgwin give it as their opinion, that a 
planter cannot expend money in any way, with such a 
certainty of making an hundred per cent, upon the ex- 
penditure, as in the purchase of lime, plaster, and clover 
seed. If it is objected that they have no facilities to ob- 
tain it, let them remember that these gentlemen had none 



230 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

when they commenced operations. If the people of the 
southern states desire to prevent the country from be- 
coming a desert, they must open the navigation of 
streams and build railroads. Do not say "we can't;" 
look at the New York and Erie Railroad, carried through 
almost impassable mountains, and you will then say, "we 
can, we will." Besides, if all the land upon the Roanoke 
were under such cultivation — and it is all susceptible of it 
— as these plantations and a few others are, there would 
be a daily line of steamboats, instead of an occasional ves- 
sel linding its way up to carry off the produce. Mr. Burg- 
win, senior, told me that he got one cargo of lime at his 
place on the Trent, for four cents. It came as ballast, 
which will often be the case when the quantity of grain 
increases as it may, by the use of lime. 

Mr. H. K. B. pointed out a spot in the midst of one 
clover field, still covered with broom sedge, which he left 
as a memento of what the whole was before lime and ma- 
nure altered the whole appearance as well as fertility of 
the place. Mr. B. told me that there are about thirty miles 
of fencing upon these places, to keep out other folks' cat- 
tle. What a tax! But it is just so all over the United 
States. At his house I found a most lovely and accom- 
plished lady, delightfully situated in the new mansion at 
the "Hill Side," but which, I regret to learn, has since 
been destroyed by fire. I hope Mr. B.'s valuable library, 
in which was an abundant supply of agricultural books, 
was saved. Mrs. B. appeared more lovely in my eyes, in 
consequence of meeting her in the negro quarter admin- 
istering to the sick — an occupation, in my opinion, that 
always makes a woman angelic. She was a Greenough, 
of Boston ; and it gives me pleasure to bear this just meed 
of praise to her friends there and elsewhere. 



P.S. — Since the above was written, I have had the 
pleasure of meeting Mr. T. P. Burgwin in this city, and 
he informs me that they have just shipped five head of 
shorthorn cattle, purchased of Mr. Vail, last summer, 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1849 231 

which they hope will not only improve their own herd, 
but give an impetus to improvement of the stock of all 
that region. They have also contracted for 40,000 bush- 
els of lime to be sent forward. This will cost them, deliv- 
ered on their plantation, ten cents a bushel. Mr. B. has 
just been informed that a great freshet in the Roanoke 
has burst their embankment and injured their crop of 
corn materially, and has probably destroyed a great deal 
of corn upon all the low grounds of other plantations. 
New York, Nov. 1th, 1849. 

Farm of Mr. Bolling, in Virginia. 

[New York American Agriculturist, 8:254-55; Aug., 1849] 

[May ?, 1849] 

One of the most interesting places that I have visited, 
during my long journey through the southern states, is 
the farm of Robert B. Boiling,^ at Sandy Point, on the 
James River, 70 miles below Richmond, and 65 above 
Norfolk, at the junction of the Chickahominy. It is the 
old Lightfoot- estate, and contains about 7,000 acres, 
2,700 of which, in one enclosure, Mr. B. has in cultiva- 
tion ; that is, 1,000 acres in wheat, 535 in corn, 50 in oats, 
and the remainder is one half in clover, and the other half 
in fallow, including the necessary ground for yards, gar- 
dens, buildings, and roads, which are plenty and good. 
Of course, the quantity of acres, in the different crops, 
vary slightly with each year. 

* Boiling was considered one of the best planters in the Old Do- 
minion. For further description of his agricultural operations see 
American Agriculturist, 9:364-65 (December, 1850). A complete 
description of this plantation and Boiling's plantation method was 
given by his overseer, A. Nicol, in the Farmers' Register, 9:213-16, 
343-45, 485-87, 586-89 (1841). 

^ Bolling acquired the Sandy Point estate through his wife, Sarah 
Melville Menge. Her mother had received it through her first 
marriage with William Howell Lightfoot. See William and Mary 
College Quarterly, series 1, vol. 3:108 (October, 1894). For fur- 
ther information on the Lightfoot family, see Tyler, Lyon Gardiner 
(ed.). Encyclopedia of Virginia Biography, 4:169-70 (Lewis His- 
torical Publishing Company, New York, 1915). 



232 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

Mr. Boiling resides mostly in Petersburg, and the farm 
is under the superintendence of Mr. Nichol/ a very intel- 
ligent Scotchman; yet, it is plain to see, that the owner, 
unlike many others, is the master spirit that guides all. 
Having heard of the vast improvements that he had made 
upon this old worn-out place, which came into his pos- 
session a few years ago, I called upon him at Petersburg, 
and expressed a desire to see it ; when he readily offered 
to go down with me, so that I had the pleasure and advan- 
tage of his company while there. When he came in pos- 
session, in 1835, the yield of wheat, per acre, was three 
and a half bushels; though he thinks a fair yield, if the 
season had been good, might have been nearly double 
that. The average, for several years, has been from 15 
to 18 bushels, and upon some lots of one to three hundred 
acres, he has averaged 24 to 37 bushels. If it had not 
been for the frost, in April, it would probably have aver- 
aged, this year, over 20 bushels upon the whole thou- 
sand. This has been brought about principally by lime. 
The first dressing, he gave fifty bushels to the acre; the 
second one, thirty five bushels; and the third one, the 
same; in all, 120 bushels. The present cost of slacked 
lime, at his wharf, is six and a half cents a bushel. Some 
of his cost more. The former average yield of corn was 
ten to fifteen ; now thirty five bushels to the acre. His 
crop of corn, last year, was 18,000 bushels, 12,000 of 
which sold at 45 cents on board the vessel at home. The 
remainder, as large as the pile may seem to some of our 
New-England farmers, was needed for consumption upon 
the place. Mr. B.'s wheat crop of last year was 14,000 
bushels, which sold on board at 85 cents. The highest 
price, any year, $1.30. Average price, $1 ; average price 
of corn, 55 cents; highest price, 90 cents. Besides lime, 
he uses plaster, bones, manure, and dry straw, as fertiliz- 
ers, and thus produces most abundant crops of clover; 
and so, not only keeps up the fertility of the soil, but, by 

^ A. Nicol moved to Sandy Point with his wife and children about 
1827. Southern Cultivator, 6:105 (July, 1848). Contributor to 
American Agriculturist and Partners' Register. 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1849 233 

this course, has greatly more than doubled the crops, and 
made the farm very profitable; but it is increasing in 
fertility and value every year. 

Mr. B. pursues the five-field system ; that is, a rotation 
of, 1st, corn ; 2d, wheat ; 3d, clover ; 4th, wheat ; 5th, fal- 
low. Upon the fallow, which, however, is well coated 
with volunteer clover, the straw is spread, and with lime, 
if required. He commences seeding in, first week in Oc- 
tober, and finishes, if possible, by 10th November; quan- 
tity of seed, per acre, from V^ to IVo bushels; harvests, 
15th to 20th of June; cuts wheat with cradles. He thinks, 
where laborers are plenty and cheap, that reaping ma- 
chines are not an object of importance. He owns 180 
servants, one half of whom are working hands in the 
field ; and during harvest he hires 80 or 100 more. 

As soon as the wheat is harvested, the wagons com- 
mence bringing it to the granary ; and here the ingenuity 
of man and the power of steam begin to show how won- 
derfully this great giant can be made to help the culti- 
vator of the soil. A constant stream of sheaves are flying 
from the wagons outside, and as they light upon the floor, 
are caught up, the bands cut, and thrust into two great 
threshing machines, that stand side by side, and this is 
the last that man is required to do with grain or straw. 
The one passes out, and far away from the building ; and 
the other, after falling down into the winnowing ma- 
chine, is thus cleaned, and then taken by elevators to the 
top of the three-story building, and there distributed into 
the different store rooms, which are capable of holding 
40,000 bushels. A thousand bushels can be thus threshed 
and put up every day. When sold, and ready to be shipped, 
it is let down through a spout into a car that runs upon a 
railway directly over the hatchway of the vessel, lying at 
a fine new wharf, a few hundred feet from the granary; 
and in one second of time the car load is emptied into 
the hold, and in two minutes more is back, and ready for 
another load. 

The largest crop of wheat ever raised upon this place, 



234 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

before Mr. Boiling commenced improving it, was 7,000 
bushels. Mr. B.'s largest crop, was 17,000 bushels. The 
increase of one crop alone, is sufficient to pay for all the 
improvements of the fertility of the soil, and leave a 
handsome surplus. The wheat barn, which cost $8,000, 
is 36 by 80 feet, three stories upon one side, besides a 
cockloft floor. To the same building is joined a sawmill, 
grist mill, plaster mill, and bone mill, besides the thresh- 
ers and cornsheller, all of which are driven by a sixteen- 
horse-power engine, costing $1,600, and all built in the 
most permanent and substantial manner. 

The team force upon this place are 39 horses and 
mules, and 36 oxen — always runs twelve plows, three 
mules to each, and as deep as they can pull it through a 
free, clayey-loam soil, which is comparatively level. The 
other stock upon the place, 125 head of cattle, 150 of 
sheep, and 140 hogs. 

Corn is planted from April 25th to May 5th, 514 by 11/4 
feet apart, covered with a harrow, the lumps scraped off 
with a board, tended with double-shovel plow, and the 
corn stalks cut and spread like straw upon the surface to 
rot. But it is found that this system of shading the 
ground with straw, is more beneficial than a good dress- 
ing of manure without shade, (a) ^ 

In summer, the stock are all grazed upon the appropri- 
ate parts of the place, under charge of a herdsman, much 
cheaper than they could be by a vexatious system of cross 
fences. 

Mr. B. has 4,000 acres of timber land, which he offers 
for sale at the very low price of $20 per acre. The timber, 
so near such a navigable river, would more than clear the 
land, and then the soil would be as good as that which he 
has in cultivation. The farm, including, say 500 acres of 
timber, is valued at about $40 per acre, $132,000 

180 negroes, at $300 average, each, 54,000 

125 head of cattle, at $10, 1,250 

^ The editor identified this system: "(a) This system of shading 
the ground, is called 'Gurneyism.' a notice of which is given at 
p. 205, of our fifth volume." 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1849 235 

150 sheep, at $3, 450 

140 hogs, 500 

40 horses and mules, $60, 2,400 

6 ox carts, 3 tumbrils, 8 wagons, 2 log do., . . 1,000 

13 plows, at $15, 195 

Other tools, 1,500 



$193,295 
The simple interest upon all this, at 7 per cent., would 
produce the snug little annual income of $13,530.65. But 
the sales amounted to $17,300, for corn and wheat last 
year, $3,870 more than simple interest, from which, how- 
ever, the current expenses must be deducted. The amount 
of these, I have not now on hand. Mr. B.'s people are all 
well fed and clothed, and have excellent houses, which, 
unlike the more southern fashion, are all scattered over 
the place — a plan that is, in some respects, preferable to 
that of congregating them in villages. 

Many of the roads through the place are lined with red 
cedars, which make beautiful drives, and fine shades for 
man and beast, and add greatly to the beauty of the 
scene. The whole farm can be viewed from the observa- 
tory, on the barn, and including the river and opposite 
shore, covered with forest and underlaid with immense 
beds of shell marl, with Jamestown Island in the distance, 
it presents a scene of surpassing beauty. One of the 
curiosities of this old farm, is a box hedge, some ten or 
twelve rods long, twenty feet high, and very thick, which 
has exhibited the same appearance for the last hundred 
years. Solon Robinson. 

Letter to Leila Robinson 

[Daily Cincinnati Gazette, June 13, 1849] 

(Near) Alexandria, Va., Sunday, June 3, 1849. 

Miss Leila Robinson : — My Dear Little Girl. — Not hav- 
ing an opportunity to get the letter written to Josephine,^ 

' Josephine Eobinson, Leila's sister. 



236 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

into the mail yet, I thought I would add one for you, 
though I have nothing very interesting to write. I sup- 
pose it will not be very interesting to you to hear me tell 
how this part of Virginia, that was once in a high state 
of improvement, has nearly all grown up again into for- 
est. Just so it may be some day where you now live. All 
the houses rotten down, or burnt up, or tumbled into piles 
of ruins, and all the fences gone, and fields covered with 
trees, among which may be growing old apple trees, 
cherry trees, &c. ; may be the condition of all the land 
around our present home, as it is in some parts of this 
country, that was once so rich and flourishing one hun- 
dred years ago. 

There is one thing though, that never will be there as 
it is here — that is the old roads gullied and washed down 
the hills until it is like traveling in the bottom of a great 
ditch, sometimes 30 or 40 feet deep. 

There is another thing here that never will be there — 
that is, old stone houses and mills, for this is a stony 
country. I traveled yesterday a mile up the side of a very 
rocky hill, almost a mountain — so narrow and difficult 
that it was troublesome passing other wagons. Now that 
is something that you never have seen, and can never see 
upon the prairie. 

Mother can tell you something about such roads and 
rocky hills, for she has traveled over them across the 
Alleghany Mountains, from Philadelphia. 

Yesterday I visited Mount Vernon, which you have 
read about, I suppose, for it was once the home of Wash- 
ington, whose character I would have you study well in 
some of your books. 

When he was alive, upon the way of going to his house, 
one passed some two miles through the well cultivaetd 
fields of his plantation, on each side of the road, and at 
nearly a mile from the house entered the "Mount Vernon 
gate," between two neat little buildings, called gate 
lodges, where lived some old negroes to open the gate, 
after old English fashion, when gentlemen's houses and 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1849 237 

castles were walled in and guarded. From this outside 
gate a fine carriage road lead through a sort of wide 
lawn, or woodland pasture, over hill and vale up to the 
house. The entrance to this was flanked with a long row 
of brick houses for the servants, and offices of various 
kinds, that gave it a kind of fortified or guarded appear- 
ance. Passing between these you entered the great yard 
and came to the house, not before seen. This is of wood, 
two low stories high, and built in old style, having a fine 
view of the Potomac and across into Maryland. Every- 
thing around wore the air of neatness, taste and comfort, 
and prosperity. But oh, how melancholly it all looks now. 

As I entered the premises from the "old Alexandria 
road," coming from the south, I passed through an old 
dilapidated gate, and along an avenue of brush and 
briars, grown up where was once fences. On either side 
lie broad waste fields in part, and part enclosed by a sort 
of three rail fence and brush fence, until at length I 
came to the original entrance into the park. Here still 
stand the lodges, without doors or windows, and there 
hangs the gate, but there is no use of shutting it, for on 
either side the frames are all gone, and the once smooth 
drive up to the house is now full of stones, mud and gul- 
lies, and it is necessary to leave the old road in places and 
seek a new track among the trees. 

As we approach the out-posts, we find a part of the 
roof of the range of out-buildings fallen in, and the way 
chocked with rubbish and dirty, lazy negroes listlessly 
hanging about, and inside of the yard, shubbery and 
flowers no longer require the "notice to visiters" not to 
touch them, which was once painted upon boards and put 
up around the yard, but so long ago that the letters like 
the ancient glory of the house of Washington, are nearly 
all faded away, and gone with flowers and shrubbery. 

Everything about looks dingy and time-worn and fast 
decaying, and it made such a melancholy impression upon 
my mind that I turned about my horses and hastened 
away as fast as I could drive. 



238 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

The place is still occupied by one of the old family, Mr. 
John A. Washington/ but is a most undesirable resi- 
dence, because everybody, like myself, that comes within 
reach of the home and tomb of the great and good 
George Washington, feels it almost a sacred duty to make 
a pilgrimage to visit the sacred spot. The consequence 
is, that the house is constantly overrun with visiters; I 
have no doubt but that the family are literally "eaten out 
of house and home." 

There has been some talk in former years of Congress 
buying the place. I think it should be done — otherwise 
it must inevitably go to ruin. I think it is a duty of the 
grateful and great American family, who love everything 
connected with the name and memory of their country's 
father, that Congress should buy his old home and tomb, 
and put it in a good state of repair, and keep it as near 
exactly as he left it as possible, for coming ages to look 
at and love, without feeling as all do now who visit it, 
grieved at the thought that unless the decaying hand of 
time is immediately arrested, we shall soon have to 
mourn over what was once the home of Washington. 

It might be made the home of some old war-worn 
worthies, who should live there as pensioners of the gov- 
ernment, and preserve the place in order, and show it to 
visiters, and from whom a display of hospitality would 
not be expected. 

I am sorry to think our government so poor that they 
would hesitate to buy it, or so careless of the memory of 
Washington, as to see his house become the hooting place 

^ John Augustine Washington, soldier, great-great-grandson of 
General Washington's brother, John Augustine, and on his mother's 
side the grandson of General Richard Henry Lee, born in Blakely, 
Jefferson County, Virginia, May 3, 1821 ; died September 13, 1861. 
Graduated from the University of Virginia, 1840. Served as aide- 
de-camp, with the rank of lieutenant-colonel, on the staff of General 
Robert E. Lee, and was killed with a reconnoitering party near 
Rich Mountain, Virginia. Unable to keep up the Mount Vernon 
property, he sold it to the association of ladies which now has pos- 
session of it. Appletons' Cyclopxdia of American Biography, 6:385 
(1889). 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1849 239 

of owls, or his tomb left alone — a deserted spot in the 
wilderness. 

If there are any of the American family so wedded to 
their golden gods that they would hesitate on account of 
cost, I care not to know them. They are not congenial 
spirits with mine. 

Now, my dear little daughter, you may think this a 
very uninteresting letter ; but if you will preserve it until 
you grow old enough to read and understand more of 
American history, you will then read it with more 
interest. 

I want you, my daughter, to study your map of the 
United States, so as to be able not only to point out where 
I now am, but to trace my long journey through the dif- 
ferent States during the last eight months. Start upon 
the map from our house near the head of Lake Michigan, 
and down through the State of Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, 
Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, 
South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, and after this 
through Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey 
to New York. What a long drive for one to take all alone 
by himself, and what a diversity of people, soil, cultiva- 
tion, and manners and customs I have seen within the 
last eight months. I have learned a great deal of the 
country, that I never could have learned from books. I 
continue to write letters to the American Agriculturist 
every month, but that paper cannot publish a tenth of the 
interesting matters that I have seen and might write 
about. I also write some letters to other papers, as often 
as I can find time, amid all my other engagements. 

Perhaps, after I get home, I shall be able to write out 
a full account of my observations, and have them pub- 
lished in a book. I have no doubt but I could write one 
that would be very interesting, and one that perhaps 
would sell well and bring us a little money for our com- 
fort and convenience. Many gentlemen have urged me 
to do so. 

I have in my journey met a great many persons who 



240 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

look upon me as an old acquaintance, from knowing me 
aa a writer, and I have made a great many pleasant ac- 
quaintances, and been treated with a great deal of kind- 
ness, attention and hospitality, which is all very agree- 
able, but not so much so as it would be to be once more 
at home with you all in our happy and comfortable home. 
But my sheet is full and I must close. I am your affec- 
tionate father, Solon Robinson. 

What Does it Cost a Pound to Grow Cotton? 

[Weekly National Intelligencer, June 9, 1849'] 

[June 4, 1849] 

This is a question of vast importance to the United 
States. Who can answer it? Not one in ten of those 
that make it their staple crop, I venture to say ; for cotton 
planters are as careless in this respect as though they 
were conducting a business of cents and dimes, instead 
of dollars and eagles. 

I therefore propose to give you an extract from my 
notes, which I have been taking during my extensive 
agricultural tour the past winter and spring, not only to 
show the character of the information that I have been 
gathering, but in the hope that it may induce others to 
come out and give more and better information, or point 
out any errors in my statements. 

The cost of making 331,136 pounds of cotton last year 
upon one of the best plantations of South Carolina was 

* This article was reprinted in the Report of the Commissioner of 
Patents, 1849, pt. 2:309-12, which characterized the estimates as 
"defective and erroneous," but provocative of further study. An 
article on "Prospects of the Cotton Planters," De Bow's Review, 
7:434-37 (November, 1849), summarizes it together with a criti- 
cism from the Columbia South Carolinian. According to the latter, 
Robinson's estimate of capital was incorrect and his interpretation 
of the figures unfair and inconsistent. They reckoned the profit on 
Colonel Williams' place as "about 12 ^/^ per cent, on his capital, and 
that too with the price of cotton placed as low as six cents iii 
Charleston." The article was also reprinted, in part, in The Plough, 
the Loom, and the Anvil, 2:7 (July, 1849). 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1849 241 

$17,894.48, or a fraction over five cents and four mills a 
pound, including freight and commission, as well as in- 
terest upon a fair valuation of property. 

The cost, exclusive of freight and commission, and in- 
cluding interest, of making 128,000 pounds upon the 
"cane brake lands of Alabama," last year, was $6,676.80, 
a fraction over five cents and two mills a pound. 

This is considered the richest cotton land in the world ; 
and, although the crop was called a small one, it was 
probably about an average one. 

The field hands upon this place numbered seventy-five, 
counting all over twelve years old, which gives a fraction 
less than four and one-third bales to each. 

Now this crop has to be hauled over about twenty-five 
miles of the worst road in the world, when wet, as they 
usually are at the time the crop is ready to go to market, 
and then down the difficult and dangerous navigation of 
the Tombigbee river. 

I am satisfied that these two crops give a better show- 
ing than three fourths of the cotton crops of the United 
States. My own opinion is, that whenever cotton is be- 
low six cents it does not pay interest upon the capital 
invested, except perhaps in some few cases. 

Below I give a table of items of expense upon the first 
plantation mentioned. This is owned by Col. J. N. Wil- 
liams,^ of Society Hill, and lies upon what is called the 
swamp lands of the Peedee river. These items are nec- 
essary to show that I have not stated the expense too 
high: 

The capital consists of — 
4200 acres of land (2,700 in cultivation) at 

$15 $63,000 00 

'John Nicholas Williams, born at Society Hill, South Carolina, 
July 2, 1797; died April 12, 1861, at Baltimore. Son of David Rog- 
erson Williams, planter, statesman, manufacturer, and governor of 
South Carolina, who died in 1830, leaving several large estates to 
John Nicholas. Interested in scientific agriculture and the manu- 
facture of agricultural products. See Cook, Harvey Toliver, The 
Life and Legacy of David Rogerson Williams (New York, 1916). 



242 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

254 slaves at $350 each, average old and 

young 89,900 00 

60 mules and mares, and 1 jack, and 1 

stud, average $60 3,720 00 

200 head of cattle, at $10 2,000 00 

500 " hogs, at $2 1,000 00 

23 carts and 6 wagons 520 00 

60 bull-tongue ploughs, 60 shaving do., 25 
turning do., 15 drill do., 15 harrows, at 

an average of $1.50 each 262 00 

All other plantation tools estimated worth. . . 1,000 00 

Cash expenses $161,402 00 

Interest is only counted on the five first items, 

$158,620, at 7 per cent 11,103 00 

3980 yards Dundee bagging, at 16 cents, (5 

yds. to a bale) 636 80 

3184 lbs. of rope, at 6 cents 191 04 

Taxes on 254 slaves, at 76 cents 193 04 

land 70 00 

Three overseers' wages 900 00 

Medical attendance, $1.25 per head 317 50 

Bill of yearly supply of iron, average 100 00 

Ploughs and other tools purchased, annual 

average 100 00 

200 pairs of shoes, $175; annual supply of 

hats, $100 275 00 

Bill of cotton and woollen cloth 810 00 

100 cotton comforters, in lieu of bed blan- 
kets 125 00 

100 oil-cloth capotes, (New York cost) 87 50 

20 small woollen blankets for infants .... 2500 
Calico dress and handkerchief for each 
woman and girl, (extra of other cloth- 
ing) 82 00 

Christmas presents, given in lieu of "negro 

crop" 175 00 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1849 243 

50 sacks of salt 80 00 

Annual average outlay for iron and wood 

work for carts and wagons 100 00 

Lime and plaster bought last year 194 00 

Annual average outlay for gin, belts, &c 80 00 

400 gallons of molasses 100 00 

3 kegs of tobacco, $60; 2 bbls. of flour, 

$10 70 00 

% of a cent a pound on cotton for freight 

and commission 2,069 60 



$ 17,894 48 



The crop of cotton at 6 cents will amount to..$ 19,868 16 
Col. Williams has also credited this place with the ad- 
ditional items drawn from it : 
13500 lbs. of bacon, taken for home place and 

factory 675 00 

Beef and butter for ditto and sales 500 00 

1100 bushels of corn and meal for ditto and 

sales 550 00 

80 cords of tan bark for his tan yard .... 480 00 

Charges to others for blacksmith work 100 00 

Mutton and wool for home use and sales .... 125 00 



$ 22,298 16 



Profits over and above interest and expense upon this 
total are $4,403.68. 

Counting cotton only at six cents, profits are $1,973.68 ; 
counting it at seven cents, ($23,179.52,) and profits are 
$5,285.04. It is proper to state that part of the crop was 
sold at seven cents, and it may average that. 

Now, it must be borne in mind that this is one of the 
best plantations, as well in soil as management, and that 
this was an extraordinary good crop. It must also be 
assumed that the land will continue to maintain its fer- 
tility and value, and that the same hands will keep the 



244 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 



buildings in repair, as no allowance is made in the ex- 
pense account for such repairs, or there will be a loss 
under that head. 

Most of the corn and meal credited comes from a toll 
mill on the place. All the cloth and shoes are manufac- 
tured by Col. Williams, but upon a distinct place. 

The place mentioned in Alabama belongs to Robert 
Montague, Esq., of Marengo county.^ The items of val- 
uation are : 

1100 acres of land, at $25 $ 27,500 00 

120 slaves, at $400 48,000 00 

4 wagons 400 00 

5 yoke of oxen, at $30 150 00 

30 mules and horses, at $75 2,250 00 

4000 bu. corn on hand for plantation use, at 

35 cts 1,400 00 

Fodder and oats do 200 00 

40 head of cattle, at $5 do 200 00 

70 " sheep, at $2 do 140 00 

250 " hogs do 600 00 

20000 lbs. bacon and pork do 1,000 00 

Ploughs and all other tools do 500 00 

$ 82,240 00 

Interest on capital at 7 per cent $ 5,756 80 

Cash expenses, taxes, average 100 00 

Blankets, hats, and shoes, (other clothing all 

home-made) 250 00 

Medical bill, average not exceeding 40 00 

500 lbs. of iron, $30; hoes, spades, &c., $30. 60 00 
Average outlay for mules over what are 

raised 100 00 

^ Robert Montague, member of a well-known family in Virginia, 
moved to Marengo County, Alabama, in 1830. Like many other 
immigrants, found his activities handicapped by the panic of 1837. 
About 1850, sold his lands and moved to Texas. Letter of W. H. 
Tayloe, Uniontown, Alabama, to Herbert A. Kellar, May 12, 1936. 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1849 245 

Average expense yearly for machinery re- 
pairs 20 00 

Bagging and rope 350 00 



$ 6,676 80 

This crop, (28,000 pounds,) at six cents nett, will 
leave a balance of $1,004.20, which is just about enough 
to pay the owner common wages of an overseer, which 
business he attends to himself. 

Now, while there may be a few better places, there 
are thousands not near as good in all the cotton-growing 
region. 

I could go on at considerable length to give other items 
about cotton, as well as similar information about sugar, 
&c., but my time nor your space will not allow it now. 

I would remark, however, that I am publishing a series 
of letters in the American Agriculturist, published in 
New York, for which I am the travelling correspondent. 
It is possible also that I may publish the observations of 
my tour in a more extended and permanent form, when- 
ever I get time to write out all the notes that I have 
taken. 

Any thing that I can do to add to the agricultural in- 
formation of my country I have a strong desire to do. 
I am, most respectfully, &c. 

Solon Robinson. 

Washington, June 4, 1849. 

Visit to Col. Capron's. 

[New York American Agriculturist, 8:250; Aug., 1849] 

[June 7, 1849] 

Col. H. Capron,^ of this place, is one of the most 
intelligent, and his works show him to be one of the 

' Horace Capron, agriculturist, born Attleboro, Massachusetts, 
August 31, 1804; died February 22, 1885. Failing to receive an 
appointment to West Point, turned to cotton manufacturing, in 



246 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

most enterprising improvers that I have ever met with. 
He has now growing, one of the best fields of wheat I 
ever saw; and this upon land that would not produce five 
bushels to the acre, a few years ago. Some of his cattle 
are equal to any northern herd. He has, also, some most 
superb horses, and most decidedly the best mule teams 
that I ever saw in harness. He keeps 80 cows, the milk 
of which being made from his most excessively luxuriant 
clover fields, commands the highest price, (13 cents per 
gallon,) in the Baltimore market. His barn and stables, 
as well as all the arrangements about the dairy, and as 
every other of his farming operations, are a little su- 
perior to anything else in the south, and, in my opinion, 
equal to anything in any country. 

Nearly all of his land that required it, Col. C. has 
under-drained, making use of hard bricks to form the 
drains. The benefit of draining some pieces of land that 
did not, to one unacquainted with the effect, seem to re- 
quire such an improvement, have been wonderful. In- 
deed, all his operations have been so. For he has not 
only, by his own energy, built up a large manufacturing 
village, but has shown to all the people around him, that 
these old, barren, tobacco fields, can be made productive ; 
and, at the same time, be made to pay all cost and pro- 
duce a profit. Solon Robinson. 

Laurel Factory, Md., June 1th, 1849. 

which his father and brother were extensively engaged. In 1829 
became superintendent of the cotton factory of James Buchanan 
and Company in Maryland. In 1836 erected and became superin- 
tendent of the factory in Laurel which acquired a reputation as a 
model factory. Also began farming on an extensive scale. Later 
moved to Illinois. Served as United States commissioner of agri- 
culture, 1867-1871, as commissioner and chief adviser of Japanese 
government in development and settlement of island of Hokkaido, 
1871-1875. See sketch in Dictionary of American Biography, 3:484- 
85. 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1849 247 

A Flight Through Connecticut. 

[New York /I we Wean Agriculturist, 8:321-22; Oct., 1849] 

[July 10, 1849] 

Immediately after leaving the noise and confusion 
of that great "Babel," known as New York, and even 
before I was fairly out of the purlieus, I saw large tracts 
of land, that, notwithstanding its iron-bound, rocky na- 
ture, if cultivated, even with a tithe of the care that John 
Chinaman bestows upon his soil, it might be made to 
yield a good support to thousands of the poor creatures 
that are dragging out a miserable existence in the filthy 
courts and alleys of the city ; while here, within an hour's 
walk, lie thousands of acres of productive soil, where the 
healthy atmosphere is such as God gives to the moun- 
taineer, instead of that made for human lungs by the 
inhuman folly of man in the dark, damp, city cellars, 
where the spirit of cholera finds the seeds already sown 
that will produce him an abundant crop. 

Much of the land above referred to is covered with 
bushes, or miserable little half-starved patches of culti- 
vation, or with shanties that are a degree, at least, be- 
low the western log cabin. And this is within the sound 
of the City-Hall bell. And this is "the age of agricultural 
improvement, is it? The country where we give thou- 
sands of dollars annually in premiums for the exhibition 
of the fattest bulls and boars, and daily proclaim to the 
world what a great improving agricultural country 
this is! 

But let us proceed. What do we see along the line of 
railroad towards New Haven? Why the same old stone 
walls and rickety rail fences, bush pastures, bog mead- 
ows, alder swamps, stony fields, and scanty, because un- 
manured, crops, that were to be seen in the same places 
fifty years ago. Have these people ever heard of the 
fact that they might purchase an article called "guano," 
which has a similar effect upon land that is attributed to 
manure? 



248 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

Beyond New Haven, the road passes through several 
miles of a poor sandy plain, which looks as though it be- 
longed to the "piney-woods" region of South Carolina, 
rather than to Connecticut. This is perhaps too sterile 
to be improved with profit; yet, it is a question with me, 
whether more profit, if we count long life and good 
health anything, might not be made from this sandy 
waste, than from some of the rich prairies and bottoms, 
of the great west, California included. In fact, notwith- 
standing that agriculture, in general, seems to have been 
conducted in Connecticut for a century or two, upon the 
same identical "American system" of skin, shave, and 
waste the soil, and "do as father did," yet every now and 
then we pass a spot where everything around shows that 
the light of science, yea, agricultural science, has pene- 
trated far enough to show that, if men would, they might 
make all of these old, sterile, fields not only productive, 
but actually more surely profitable than any other em- 
ployment. But the truth is, and cannot or should not be 
disguised, the farmers of Connecticut, as a body, have 
not, do not, and I fear will not, even read anything that 
is calculated to inform their minds upon the subject of 
improving and renovating their old worn-out soil. 

I left the cars at Meriden, and took a tour through the 
state eastward, making many stops during a week, and 
in all the time I never saw nor heard of but one sub- 
scriber to an agricultural paper, and he was a gunsmith 
instead of a farmer. I saw many men mowing many 
acres that would not produce 500 lbs. of hay to the acre ; 
and at the same time, it was self-evident to me, that a 
moderate expenditure of labor in underdraining, grub- 
bing up bushes and bogs, straightening channels of 
streams, carrying muck from swamps to gravelly knolls, 
and a little outlay for manure, lime, guano, &c., would 
make the same land produce two tons to the acre; and 
that of a far better quality — though the blackberry crop 
might be lessened. My attention was particularly drawn 
to one "meadow," (swamp,) which I have known for 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1849 249 

more than thirty years, that annually produces about half 
or three quarters of a ton of "bog-meadow hay" per acre, 
which has been carried out upon poles every one of those 
years; for no animal can travel over it. I wish I could 
recount the number of cattle that have been mired and 
lost, while trying to get in, to crop the early spring grass 
upon that little green spot. It contains about seven acres, 
in an oval shape, surrounded by rocky hills, and was un- 
doubtedly once a shallow pond ; for the muck is from one 
foot to four feet deep, lying upon a hard bottom. It is 
not apparently fed by springs, but in a wet time is filled 
with water from the surrounding hills, which, when it 
rises above the surface, runs oif into a little brook at the 
lower end. Now this is the only level, smooth piece of 
mowing land upon the farm, and it has been mowed and 
"poled" probably more than half a century. Let us put 
the account into figures, in the shape of debit and credit. 

The Old Pond Meadow, Dr. 

For the care and cultivation, ditching, improv- 
ing, manuring, nothing. That's cheap. "Two 
times naught is nothing" (vide Daboll). "Set 
that down." "Yes, sir." . 00 

To seven cows, heavy with calf, got mired and 

lost seven different springs, worth $20 each, . . 140 . 00 

To seven other cattle and horses that got mired 
at different times and were got out — Damage 
and labor of getting them out, "dod rot 'em," 
$3 each, 21 . 00 

To extra labor of poling out hay for 50 years, . . . 125 . 00 

To sundry half pair of boots and shoes, mired 

down and lost, say one every year, 25 . 00 

To going to the cedar swamp ten times, (twelve 
miles,) to cut new hay poles, (240 miles 
travel,) 4 cts. a mile, 9 . 60 

$320.60 



250 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

Contra. 

50 crops of hay, 5 tons a year, at $5 per ton, . . . $250 . 00 

50 crops of early spring grass, when feed is 
scarce, for pasture, very valuable, but good for 
nothing, because cattle can't get at it, . 00 

Fall feed, a little nipping around the edges, 
where the ground is a little dry, and grass 
ditto, not worth much; but let it balance the 
hay poles, 9 . 60 

Consolation to the owner to think he always has 
hay on hand is worth as much as the old shoes 
and boots lost while poling it out, 25 . 00 

Thinking what a nice piece of meadow that 
would be if it was drained, and having a 
"darn'd good mind to try it" every year for 50 
years, is certainly worth four-and-sixpence a 
year, Connecticut currency, and cheap at that, 37 . 00 



$322.10 
320.60 



Balance in favor of the "Old Pond Meadow," $1.50 

Now let us suppose that this land had been judiciously 
drained, and how would the figures look? Why some- 
thing like this: 

The Old Pond Meadow, Dr. 

To one month's labor in cutting a ditch through 
the centre, and around the edges, and about 20 
rods to the brook, $ 30 

To cutting and hauling off the bogs and burning 

them, say $5 per acre, 35 

To breaking up and seeding after the land be- 
comes dry, say $3 per acre, 21 

To lime, ashes, and manure, average for 50 years, 

say $3 per acre each year, 1,050 

$ 1,136 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1849 251 

Notwithstanding this sum looks so enormous, let us 
see if the per contra will not show a better balance than 
the preceding account. 

Contra. 

For an average of 2 tons per acre of Timothy, 
red-top, and clover hay, upon seven acres for 
50 years, (a low estimate, supposing it is all 
the time in grass, and that is 700 tons,) worth 
$10 a ton, $ 7,000 

The pasturage is worth 50 cents per acre per an- 
num, 175 

The dirt from the ditches and ashes from the 
bogs, to put upon the old gravelly hills around, 
is worth nearly as much as it cost to dig it, but 
say only 25 



$ 7,200 



The balance then will be $6,064 in favor of the im- 
provement. 

In fact, I have seen, during the present trip, a hundred 
just such tracts of land as the one described above, so 
far as facility of draining is concerned, and at present 
worthless. Now, is it not singular, shrewd as these Yan- 
kees are, that they should continue, generation after gen- 
eration, to pole out the hay from their old bog meadows, 
and plow and plant some of the richest natural soil upon 
their farms, that does not produce half a fair crop, for 
want of a few under drains, and that, too, in many places 
where the surface is covered with loose stones, that would 
serve admirably well for materials to build the drains 
with? But these people do not read. Nay, they do not 
plow. "Do not plow?" Nay, they do not plow. The 
little scratching that they give the land is unworthy of 
name of plowing. They will actually argue, that to plow 
deep will ruin the land, as it turns up the poor, unpro- 
ductive earth. As for subsoil plowing, it is to them a 
sealed volume. We read in books and newspapers, daily, 



252 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

of the high state of improvements in New England. And 
in all the villages and manufacturing towns, and upon a 
great many farms, there is an air of thrift, neatness, and 
a sort of gentility of appearance, that gives character to 
the whole country. Then, again, among those who con- 
tinue generation after generation, to pole out the old 
bog-meadow hay, and scratch over the bare surface of 
the gravel hills, or mow over the old fields, '1;hree clips to 
a handful," there is an unceasing, never-tiring industry ; 
and that, upon any soil, will make a show of thrift. If 
well directed into an improving channel that would con- 
stantly fertilize the soil, what a result would be pro- 
duced ! 

I hope my Connecticut friends will not think that I use 
the lash too freely.^ I think they need it. They are, as a 
body, behind the age in agricultural improvements. Their 
children are all taught to read. But can there be found 

^ The answer of A Connecticut Farmer, of Farmington, to this 
"unwarranted attack" appeared in the Americayi Agriculturist, 
9:19 (January, 1850). He said in part: "I have delayed this com- 
munication to collect statistics of this season's crops ... in proof 
. . . that Mr. Robinson has done us injustice. Ours is an agricul- 
tural town, and we have had as large a proportion of exhausted 
land ... as any section of the State. This, where it has been sold 
at all, has been sold as low as $3 per acre within the last twenty 
years, and there are portions . . . now . . . worth to cultivate 
from $40 to $50 per acre; and . . . still improving. Our grass lands 
. . . produce on the average four tons to the acre, both crops, (we 
always cut two crops per year,) one field that was actually weighed, 
produced over five tons to the acre. . . . There were three acres of 
oats, averaged 86 bushels per acre, one acre of which being limed 
produced 92 bushels; of corn. . . . One single acre produced 136 
bushels; one piece of three acres produced 116% bushels per acre. 
. . . Another piece of six acres, one acre of which was measured, 
produced 102 bushels, a fair average of the whole. In the same 
field were three acres of potatoes, which produced something over 
600 bushels sound tubers 

". . . . Our matched cattle sell at from three to four years of 
age, from 125 to 150 dollars per yoke; we can show native cows 
(which if Mr. Robinson were to see, he would probably cite as ex- 
amples of slovenly breeding,) from whose milk at grass alone, 2 lbs. 
butter per day are made." 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1849 253 

this day in any one of her district school houses, one 
single book calculated to teach their children how to cul- 
tivate the soil? No! for they think that it would be 
"book farming." The father thinks no one ever knew so 
much about farming as himself, and the son never con- 
ceived the idea that there was any art to learn, nor that 
any other person besides father could ever teach him 
anything about it. "Learn farming in school! Ha, ha! 
who ever heard of such a thing." 

If Connecticut had nothing but her soil to depend upon 
to insure her prosperity, her citizens would have to learn 
agricultural improvement, or her people would them- 
selves deteriorate. But let us rest a month, and then, by 
your leave, I will continue my trip to Boston. 

July 10th, 1849. SoLON Robinson. 

Negro Slavery at the South. 

[De Bow's Review, 7:206-25, 379-89; Sep. and Nov., 1849] 

[August ?, 1849] 

EARLY HISTORY OF NEGRO SLAVERY; SLAVERY IN THE 
states; THE BIBLE QUESTION OF SLAVERY; PHYSICAL 
CHARACTERISTICS OF THE NEGRO ; SAFETY OF THE SLAVE 
INSTITUTION ; FIDELITY OF NEGRO SLAVES ; SLAVERY COM- 
PARED WITH ENGLISH POOR LABOR; MISERY OF BRITISH 
OPERATIVES, ETC.^ 

I would premise, that my object is neither to advocate 
slavery or its abolition ; but rather to give a plain narra- 

^ Robinson's article on slavery was introduced as follows: "Com- 
ing from the pen of a northern man, born and educated amid influ- 
ences in the highest degree obnoxous to our institutions and policy, 
it has a peculiar value. The author has read almost every thing 
published upon the subject, and availed himself of the light afforded 
in one general acknowledgment. He has also traveled extensively 
at the South . . . and proved himself in most respects an accurate 
observer and faithful witness. In a periodical like ours, it is im- 
portant to give full and particular information in regard to the 
institution of slavery, so important, as it is, in the destinies of 
nearly half the States of the Union." 



254 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

tion of facts, from which every one may draw his own 
conclusions. 

First, then, let me give a short historical view of the 
origin of what a majority of the citizens of the United 
States, as well where slavery exists as where it does not, 
regard a great evil. 

Perhaps every one is aware that negro slavery com- 
menced in this country while we were but a colony of 
Great Britain, and at a time when few, if any, thought it 
was such a henious sin as it is now denounced in some 
quarters, or that it would ever reach its present magni- 
tude. Could the wise fathers who framed our national 
constitution, have had a prospective vision of the present, 
it is probable they would have inserted some provision to 
prevent its extension.* But so little did they then fear, 

* The first slaves introduced, were twenty in number, from a 
Dutch man-of-war from the coast of Guinea. They were landed for 
sale in the colony of Virginia, on James River, in August, 1620, 225 
years ago. Negroes constituted an article of traffic, more or less, 
in all the colonies. At the time of the Declaration of Independence, 
in 1776, the whole number was estimated at 500,000, viz: 

In Massachusetts, 3,500 

Rhode Island, 4,373 

Connecticut 6,000 

New Hampshire, 620 

New York, 15,000 

New Jersey, 7,600 

Pennsylvania, 10,000 

Delaware 9,000 

Maryland, 80,000 

Virginia, 165,000 

N. Carolina, 75,000 

S. Carolina, 110,000 

Georgia, 16,000 

Total in 1776 502,132 

Since then slavery has been abolished in the first seven States 
above named. The census of 1790 exhibited 697,897 slaves, and 
59,460 free persons of color. 

In 1800, slaves 893,041 

1810, " 1,191,364 

1820, " 1,538,064 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1849 255 

that the importation of slaves was permitted until the 
year 1808, about the time it was also prohibited by Great 
Britain. Although the citizens of that government are 
now harsh against us for permitting the existence of 
slavery in our republic, it ought to be borne in mind, that 
it was Britain who fixed the institution so indelibly upon 
us. She began the traffic in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, 
though slavery had undoubtedly existed in some form 
from the earliest history of that nation. In fact, it has 
existed from the earliest periods of history, and I have 
no doubt will continue to exist to its latest period. Not- 
withstanding the importation of negroes is prohibited by 
nearly all the civilized nations of the earth, it is still 
carried on in a contraband manner, to an enormous ex- 
tent. It is estimated that 40,000 slaves annually leave 
the coast of Africa. It is not likely that many of them 
ever reach the United States. Cuba, Porto Rico and 
Brazil, being the great slave emporiums of the present 
day ; but we undoubtedly feel the effects of the trade, for 
were it not for that source of supply, these countries 
would draw the surplus from ours, in spite of all laws 
that might be enacted to prevent it. 

For my own part, I have no doubt that while the negro 
continues to exist, he will continue to be enslaved by the 
white man, as it has been for almost unknown ages ; for 
it is a fact, that long before the time when European 
ships first visited the coast of Africa, the negroes had 
been carried away, by the Arabian caravans, to serve the 
pale faces of the North. Would it not be well to inquire 
why the negro race has always been subjected to the con- 
dition of slaves by the whites? 

And to avoid the charge of plagiarism, let me here 
state that I shall quote many items from various authors 

1830, " 2,009,031 

1840, " 2,487,455 

The importation of slaves has been prohibited since 1808; con- 
sequently, the addition ascertained every census, is from natural 
increase. 



256 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

who have treated upon this subject, and give them as 
authority, once for all. 

"It has long been a favorite theory of many philoso- 
phers, that the negro races are naturally inferior in point 
of intellect, and do not possess the same capacity for im- 
provement as the Europeans, or people of Caucasian va- 
riety. This supposition, however, has been vehemently 
denied, and it has been contended, over and over again, 
that the peculiar circumstances under which they have 
been placed sufficiently account for the condition of the 
Africans — for their want of a literature, and their de- 
graded and low scale of civilization, and brutal and sav- 
age existence. 

"That great weight should be attached to these circum- 
stances, I am willing to admit, but wholly deny they have 
produced the existing state of things. It is a well known 
historical fact, that ancient Egypt was, at one period, the 
principal seat of science, literature, arts and civilization, 
and that the various nations or tribes of the African race 
were in close contact, and had a pretty extensive inter- 
course, not only with the Egyptians, but also with the 
Phoenicians, and afterward with the Romans. What did 
they profit by this association? Literally, nothing. For 
while the then almost equally barbarous people of Greece, 
Asia Minor and Magna Graecia, raised themselves, in a 
comparatively brief period, to the highest civilization and 
refinement, the negro race of Africa continues, with-but 
one single solitary exception, down even to the present 
day, immersed in the greatest barbarism. 

"It is not possible that, during the space of 3 or 4,000 
years, opportunities have not been afforded some of them 
to make some slight advances in the scale of human im- 
provement. Is there any proof that they have had the 
sagacity that is inherent in the Caucasian family, to 
profit by contact with more favored nations ? 

"It appears to me a fact, that Africa has not produced 
a single name worthy to rank with the heroes and sages 
of the world. 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1849 257 

"Although wrapt in the darkest superstition and wor- 
ship of idols, we look in vain for the honors and public 
gratitude which other rude, though improving, nations 
are wont to bestow upon departed heroes, legislators, and 
authors of important discoveries in the arts." 

Because a few of the negroes among us do occasionally 
exhibit bright intellectual qualities, many good philan- 
thropists have been led to believe that the whole race 
might be elevated to the same standard, and have come 
blindly to the opinion that the first great necessary step 
to bring about this wonderful result, will be to declare 
them FREE, and insist that they are EQUAL to the white 
race. 

Are these good but erring men aware, that there is 
almost as much difference between the different tribes of 
the negro race as there is between the blacks and whites ? 

For instance, the Jolofs seem to be almost a distinct 
race of negroes, and have been a comparatively civilized 
people from the era of their first discovery by the Por- 
tuguese. 

"Those of Guber and Hausa, where a considerable de- 
gree of civilization has long existed, are, perhaps, the 
finest race of genuine negroes in Africa, unless the Jolofs 
are such, and should be excepted." 

By slaveholders, the Coromantees are esteemed the 
most intelligent and most capable of being taught; mak- 
ing trusty and good drivers to urge on those of a more 
sluggish nature; but very impatient and turbulent at be- 
ing driven themselves. These negroes are of a dingy 
copper color; their lips and high cheek bones, like the 
North American Indians. Some of them will lay down 
and die, rather than yield to be driven to work by the 
whip. In their native land they are never kept as slaves, 
on account of their sulkiness. 

The next in the scale of value, or perhaps they are 
equal, are the Congos. They are tall, straight, bright 
copper-colored, smooth skin, small round hands, and 
make good imitating mechanics ; in that respect, like the 



258 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

Chinese. They are from the south coast of West Africa, 
between south latitude 4° and 15° ; a district of country 
that contains the kingdoms of Loango, Congo, Angola, 
Matamba, and Buengula, which was discovered by the 
Portuguese, in 1481, ever since which they have made 
slaves and converts of the inhabitants, the greater por- 
tion of whom, notwithstanding their contact with the 
numerous Portuguese settlements in their country, and 
the strenuous efforts of the missionaries for more than 
three centuries, still remain sunk in the grossest bar- 
barism and idolatry, going almost naked, living like 
beasts, and worshiping, if worship it can be called, the 
sun, moon, stars and hideous beasts and reptiles. Much 
of the country, back from the coast, is desert and in- 
habited by elephants, leopards, monkeys, monstrous ser- 
pents, and terrible crocodiles. 

This country is sometimes called Lower Guinea, and 
was formerly a great slave mart for Christians engaged 
in the traffic, and is the coast from which the great trade 
of the present day is still carried on — sometimes by citi- 
zens of the United States. 

It is from this country that abominable, noisy domestic 
fowl, known as the Guinea hen, was brought. It is a 
country so infested with venomous serpents, some of 
which are more than thirty feet in length, and reptiles, 
and insects, that it is unfit for the residence of human 
beings. The negroes from that coast, when brought here 
and left in a state of slavery, are not found sighing to 
return to their own native land. 

We are sometimes wont to complain of the little ant in 
this country, while in Guinea they exist in such quanti- 
ties that they drive the inhabitants from their huts, and 
have been known to destroy the carcass of an ox in one 
night, and often would destroy the debilitated sick, if not 
guarded against. 

The Eboes and Mongullas are jet black, medium 
height, chuckle-headed, thick lips, hearty eaters, inclined 
to grow fat, seldom possessing any mechanical skill. 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1849 259 

though generally tractable and patient, lazy slaves, need- 
ing to be driven to work, and, unlike the Coromantees, 
only to be kept at it by driving. They are capable of 
great endurance under a burning sun. 

The Ashantees, who inhabit an interior portion of the 
north of Africa, have ever been the most powerful and 
warlike tribe of negroes on that continent. They have 
frequently defied the scientific and destructive means of 
European warfare, and during the prevalence of the un- 
controlled slave trade, were the principal instruments to 
supply the hordes of slaves that were shipped from the 
upper Guinea coast. It was through the agency of this 
tribe that Spain derived her supplies to fill the celebrated 
Assiento Contracts she made with Portugal, France and 
England, to supply their American colonies with negro 
slaves. 

But notwithstanding their power and warlike disposi- 
tion, many of them suffered the same fate they were so 
anxious to inflict upon their weaker neighbors — their 
Christian allies never hesitating to purchase whatever 
was offered with a black skin, without inquiring whether 
he was friend or foe. 

The Ashantees, Foutis, Sulemas and Dahomans, are 
similar in leading characteristics as slaves to the Eboes 
and Mongullas. 

There are also some tribes of African negroes that are 
so low in the scale of civilization, that they are rejected 
as worthless, even by the West India planter, where they 
are not even required to learn the art of any thing more 
scientific than digging up the ground with a hoe, to pre- 
pare it for the crop of sugar-cane ; for thus thousands of 
acres are prepared where the use of a plow is unknown. 

These beings — I can hardly call them human — in their 
native country, live in the wild jungles, without fire, 
without clothing of any kind and without habitations, 
and upon such food as nature provides for them without 
labor. They are about four feet high, the head strongly 
resembling in shape that of the ourang-outang, and hav- 
ing a profusion of hair on the body and limbs. 



260 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

I was lately told by an intelligent gentleman, that he 
knew three of them on one plantation in the West Indies, 
who never could be learned to perform any labor, and 
their whole employment was catching rats; which they 
did in their own way; and the strongest incitement to 
which was the fact that they were allowed the privilege 
of living most luxuriantly upon all they caught — actually 
rejecting their regular allowance of good bread and meat 
for the more palatable dish of roasted rats. So much for 
taste. 

Another instance was related to me by a very kind 
hearted friend of mine, now residing in Illinois, of an 
attempt which he made some years ago in Florida, to 
tame one of these wild negroes, by treating and feeding 
him with great care and kindness, but before he had 
fairly accomplished the task, his ward escaped his care 
and was not seen again for several weeks, when he was 
found naked as in his native wilds, basking in the broil- 
ing sun upon the burning sandy beach, where he had been 
holding a feast upon the stinking carcass of a porpoise 
that had drifted up in a storm. So much again for taste. 

Can such beings be civilized — christianized — rational- 
ized? Is it sinning against the light of knowledge and 
truth that illuminates the nineteenth century, to compel 
such beings to be clothed, and fed, and instructed, and to 
perform useful labor, in civilized society? 

I hope I shall not be accused by any of my abolition 
friends, many of whom I much esteem — although I must 
think that their minds are a little morbid upon this sub- 
ject — as being an advocate of slavery. I am only stating 
facts and asking questions. Let those answer them who 
can — I do not intend to try. 

I have often been asked whether I believed that all the 
varieties of the human family, known to exist at this 
time, sprung from one source. That is another question 
I do not intend to answer. Let all think for themselves — 
and whatever conclusion they may come to on this point, 
it cannot in anywise affect the question as to the com- 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1849 261 

parative intelligence of the white and black races of 
earth's inhabitants. 

"The same circumstances that are supposed by those 
who contend for the original identity of the races to have 
so greatly affected their appearance and physical capaci- 
ties, could hardly fail to have an equally powerful in- 
fluence over their mental faculties. 

"This, in fact, is substantially admitted by Dr. Pritch- 
ard, who has ably contended for their common origin and 
equality of intellectual faculties. 

"He says: 'The tribes in whose prevalent conforma- 
tion the negro type is discernible in an exaggerated de- 
gree, are uniformly in the lowest stage of human society. 
They are either ferocious savages, or stupid, sensual and 
indolent. Such are the Papals, Bulloms, and other rude 
hordes on the coast of Western Guinea, and many tribes 
near the slave coast and Bight of Benin — countries where 
the slave trade has been carried on to the greatest extent, 
and has exercised its usual baneful influence.' " 

And he might have added that the same characteristics 
were to be found among tribes living far in the interior 
of the continent, who never had felt the effects of that 
baleful influence. 

He also says, that wherever we hear of a negro state, 
the inhabitants of which have attained any considerable 
degree of improvement in their social condition, we 
always find that their physical characters deviate con- 
siderably from the strongly marked or exaggerated type 
of the negro. 

This is the very point for which I contend, and the 
facts here exhibited, go far to prove a gradually ascend- 
ing scale, from a race but one remove above the ourang- 
outang, up to the highest grade of Caucasian intellect; 
and that the distinguishing features of the negro race in 
a strongly marked degree, are uniformly associated with 
the lowest state of barbarism ; and that, as they advance 
from this strongly marked type, we find a greater degree 
of civilization and improvement. 



262 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

The inevitable conclusion is, that every variety of the 
negro type, which comprises the inhabitants of almost 
all central Africa, is indicative of mental inferiority ; and 
that ferocity and stupidity are the characteristics of 
those tribes in which the peculiar negro features are 
found most developed. 

Now if this is a correct statement, what more could be 
said to show most conclusively, the radical inferiority of 
the great bulk of the African people. 

But let us not form our opinion on their configuration 
and appearance alone, but on the fact, that while num- 
berless European and Asiatic nations have attained to a 
high state of civilization, they continue, with few excep- 
tions, in nearly a primeval barbarism. 

It is in vain to contend that this is the result of the 
unfavorable circumstances under which they have been 
placed. The history of our own country — yea, the his- 
tory of almost every town that has been built, and every 
farm that has been opened in the western wilderness — 
proves that a people naturally endowed with intelligence 
and an enterprising spirit, contend against unfavorable 
circumstance, until they actually create more favorable 
ones for themselves. 

But the Africans have never shown to the world that 
they possessed any considerable degree of enterprise or 
invention, or any wish to distinguish themselves in the 
arts and sciences of peace or war. 

From the remotest antiquity to the present day, a 
portion of their race have been hewers of wood and 
drawers of water for others, and whether under the name 
of slave, servant, or hireling, they will so continue, so 
long as the distinguishing color between the two races 
shall exist; for, in all this time, they have made so little 
progress toward the art of being their own masters in a 
civilized state, that the only legitimate inference is, they 
are incapable of making it — that, as a body, they are in- 
capable of living in a civilized state, only in the condition 
of servitude to their more highly intellectually-favored 
fellow men. 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1849 263 

And now let us inquire if there is not some natural, 
physical reason, by which to account for this fact. 

Let me inquire of those who read and believe in the 
Bible, if they cannot find a reason why the descendants 
of Ham are servants to the descendants of Shem and 
Japheth, recorded in the 25th, 26th and 27th verses of the 
ninth chapter of Genesis. 

"But if any one should wish to know why the African 
can expose his naked skin to a tropical sun without 
suffering pain or inconvenience ; why, after a fever leaves 
him, rejecting soups, teas, and light diet, he eats through 
choice, and with impunity, a full meal of fat pork and 
corn bread, and then voluntarily sits in the sun a few 
hours, as if to promote its digestion, and the next day 
goes cheerfully to his labor; why he has no revenge for 
being subjected to the indignity of corporeal chastise- 
ment ; why he feels a perfect contempt for those persons 
of the white race, who put themselves on terms of equal- 
ity and familiarity with him; why he loves those who 
exercise a firm and discreet authority over him; why he 
is turbulent, refractory and discontented, under every 
other government than that which concentrates all the 
attributes of power in a single individual ; and why, when 
freed from the restraints of arbitrary power, he becomes 
indolent, vicious and intemperate, and relapses into bar- 
barism — he may find the cause of all these, and many 
more peculiarities of his character, by closely searching 
into the anatomy and physiology of his brain, nerves and 
vital organs. For the knife of the scientific anatomist in 
his deep research after this cause, has demonstrated that 
the brain proper, is smaller in them than in other races 
of men, and that the convolutions seen on the hemisphere 
of the brain, are less close, less deep and numerous : that 
the occipital foramen, the medulla oblongata and spinal 
marrow, and the nerves of organic life are much larger — 
particularly those connected with digestion and secre- 
tion. And all observation proves, that the pleasures of 
these people are not so much those of reflection, as of 



264 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

sense. The difference in organization is so great, that it 
has led many wise men to believe that the Ethiopian race 
was a distinct species of mankind. Others as firmly be- 
lieve that the anatomical and physiological peculiarities 
discovered and known to exist in this race of human be- 
ings, will be found to be an exact duplicate of that por- 
tion of Scripture which foretells the doom of Canaan to 
servitude. 

All history and science go to prove, that the negro is 
the slave of his appetites and sensual propensities, and 
must of necessity be so from his anatomical structure. 
The nerves of the spinal marrow, and the abdominal vis- 
cera, being more voluminous than in other races, and the 
brain being ten per cent, less in volume and weight, he is 
from necessity, more under the influence of his instincts, 
appetites, and animality, than other races of men, and 
has less power of reflective faculties. 

The deficiency of intellect is not so great as is the want 
of a balance between his animality and intellectuality. It 
is the predominating animality that chains his mind to 
the worst of slavery — slavery to himself and his appe- 
tites — and makes him savage in his habits when left to 
himself. His mind being thus depressed by the peculiar 
formation of the nerves of organic life, nothing but arbi- 
trary power can restrain the excesses of his animal na- 
ture : for he has not the poiver ivithin himself. 

It is undeniably true, that nothing but the compulsory 
power of a master, has ever made him lead a life of in- 
dustry, temperance and order: and it is my firm belief, 
that nothing else has or ever will convert the savage 
negro into a civilized being. 

Withdraw that power, and the present race of peace- 
ful, happy and contented slaves of the United States, 
would relapse into barbarism. All history shows, that, in 
a state of freedom from the control of the white man, he 
is not a free agent to choose the good from the evil ; but 
under the control of that government, which, if God ever 
ordained one single thing in the Old Testament, he or- 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1849 265 

dained for the good of the Canaanite race; the excesses 
of his animality are kept in restraint, and he is compelled 
to lead an industrious, sober life, and certainly a more 
happy one than he would if he was left to the free in- 
dulgences of his indolent, savage nature. 

I am not maintaining that it is not, but on the con- 
trary will offer evidence by and bye to show that slavery 
is, an evil, as it exists at present in the U. S., but the evil 
falls upon Japheth and not upon Ham — the latter is ful- 
filling a decree of the Bible ; while the former is punished 
for his sins, while carrying out that very decree. 

Permit me here to inquire whether the arts of the abo- 
litionists of the present day, are not tending to make 
more infidels than all the infidel publications of all the 
Voltaires, Paynes, Wrights and Owens, that have ever 
been printed. For they are generally professing Chris- 
tians, whose every act should tend toward convincing all 
who are not so, that they believe in the words of that 
book which they profess to believe. Now, I have often 
heard the argument made use of by those who are op- 
posed to abolition, though not advocates of slavery, that 
if, as abolitionists are wont to assert, "slavery is a most 
damning sin," then is the Bible false: for, as they con- 
tend, and as I am bound to believe myself, slavery was in 
Old Testament times, an institution of God's own order- 
ing — that human beings were bought and sold and held in 
bondage. Even old Abraham had servants, and Joshua 
made hewers of wood and drawers of water of the con- 
quered tribes of Canaan. And Noah declared, as by in- 
spiration, that the descendants of Ham should be the serv- 
ants of the descendants of his brothers. Is it for man 
to say he shall not? 

And if it should be denied that the African race are 
the descendants of Ham, then again will it be said that 
the truth of the Bible is denied. 

The word Canaan is derived from a Hebrew verb, that 
truly and literally means, to submit himself, to bend the 
knee — which is indicative of his natural qualifications for 



266 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

the duties assigned him, to be a "servant of servants," as 
it was ordained that he should be, 4,000 years ago. And 
by a peculiar organization of both body and mind, his 
condition of servitude is a condition of contentment and 
happiness, even while enduring a degree of labor under 
the burning sun of a southern clime, that would annihi- 
late his white brethren. 

It is a fact that the negro is provided with an addi- 
tional anatomical contrivance in the eye, that enables him 
to endure the rays of a bright sun, without a shade, with 
impunity. 

Is not this an evidence of the goodness of God toward 
a race whom he has doomed to slavery, so that if they 
should fall into the hands of cruel masters, who would 
neglect to provide them with what we consider indis- 
pensable, a covering for the head, the light of the sun 
should not dazzle their eyes, or the intensity of its rays 
blister their skin. Knowing this fact in regard to the 
formation of the eye, we shall no longer feel surprised to 
see the slaves in the sunny south, as I have often seen 
them, throw off their hats as an irksome incumbrance, 
and voluntarily expose their naked heads to the burning 
sun without suffering any inconvenience. 

The women often wear a turban, more for ornament 
than use, which they prefer to a hat that would shade 
the eye. And I have often seen them traveling in the 
bright sun on the road to church, with a gay bonnet 
earned in the hand. 

Many other instances of the peculiar organization and 
functions of the Canaanite race, adapting it to the condi- 
tion of slavery, and guarding it against the evils of the 
system, or the inattentions of a cruel or careless master, 
might be adduced; but enough has been shown to prove 
that their great Master has kindly provided for those 
whom he has decreed shall be "servants of servants," and 
"hewers of wood and drawers of water"; so that under 
all contingencies, as a race of people, they are far more 
comfortable and happy, and enjoy a condition far more 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1849 267 

enviable, than that of nine-tenths of the laboring peas- 
antry of Europe. If, in freedom, the descendants of 
Canaan could do better; live happier; become more re- 
ligious; and rise higher in the scale of civilization, than 
under subjection to the whites; would that decree, doom- 
ing them to become the "servants of servants," ever have 
been found in the revelations of the Bible? 

And even those who unfortunately are unable to see 
the hand of God in all things, cannot help observing that 
the happiness or misery of this people has not been left 
to the chance of having a good or bad master, but that in 
his anatomical and physiological structure, his mind and 
body show a most wonderful fitness of things, to enable 
him to fulfill the destiny that his very name indicates was 
anciently decreed he should fill : a self -submitting bender 
of the knee to that race that ever have been, and ever will 
be, masters over him. 

If it had been the will of God, or consistent with great 
nature's law, that this race should have lived peaceably 
with the other races of men, when put on an equal foot- 
ing with them, and had not repaid their kindness with 
contempt and ingratitude, but had imitated their habits 
of general sobriety and industry, they would long since 
have been adopted into the family of nations, and have 
arisen above the condition assigned them by an unerring 
law of a power far above that of man. 

Let those who implicitly believe in the plain letter and 
meaning of the revealed word of that being whom they 
worship, inquire whether both English and American 
abolitionists are not creating hosts of unbelievers, by 
falsifying that word by their limited ideas of God's provi- 
dence, in his wise provisions for, and care over, the de- 
scendants of Ham. Let them inquire how it happens, 
that guards of armed soldiery cannot prevent, in Europe, 
violence and bloodshed among their "white slaves," while 
here among the race of Canaan, no force is required to 
make him quietly and faithfully obey and serve his mas- 
ter, unless it is the will of that Being, that he should f ul- 



268 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

fill the decree of servitude, by which he is made more 
useful, more happy, more contented, and more in accord- 
ance with the benevolence of God. Let him learn, that it 
is contrary to the first principles of his nature, for Ca- 
naan to league with his masters' enemies. 

If you doubt it look at the history of both wars with 
England; observe the faithful conduct and the firm ad- 
herance of the slaves of Virginia, during the revolution- 
ary war, to their masters, when neither the persuasion or 
force of British armies could sever their allegiance, or 
induce them to become free. 

A British writer, in speaking upon this subject, says, 
"when the slave owners were in the rebel army, and their 
families remained in a district of country under our 
authority, the slaves continued to serve their masters' 
families as if their masters had been at home and the 
country at peace. Slaves were often pressed into the 
service of the British, and those that would not promise 
to renounce slavery for liberty, were made to work on 
the fortifications. They obeyed through necessity, until 
an opportunity offered for them to return to their mas- 
ters; and but few of them left the country with their 
benevolent British liberators — and even some who did, 
afterward found their way back from Nova Scotia, and 
joyfully returned to the comforts of slavery." 

During the revolutionary and late wars, whole dis- 
tricts of country abounding with slaves, were repeatedly 
left with scarcely an able bodied white man among them, 
with nothing but an overruling power to guard the lives 
of women and children; with nothing but the nature of 
the Canaanite race to hold them in bondage; and yet so 
far from proving treacherous, or deserting their masters, 
they continued their labors upon the plantation, and no 
faithful watchdog was ever more true in giving the alarm 
of the approach of an enemy, or, if needed, to assist their 
masters families to escape to a place of safety. And 
their sagacity in times of danger, was sometimes shown 
in a most remarkable degree. I happen to know an anec- 



I 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1849 269 

dote illustrative of this point, which was told me by one 
of the descendants of the family while visiting the prem- 
ises a few years since, which took place during the war 
of the revolution. 

While the British fleet was lying in the Delaware below 
Philadelphia, a number of oflficers and men came on shore 
one morning at Chester, for a little recreation on land, 
and a supply of fresh meat and vegetables. They visited 
the house of General Robinson,^ who was then absent with 
the army, and openly offered freedom to the slaves. Dur- 
ing the repast which Mrs. Robinson, with a great deal of 
apparent friendliness had ordered to be provided for the 
British officers, a slave entered and whispered to his mis- 
tress to detain the company as long as possible at the 
table, while he would take care of the soldiers outside, 
for Col. Lee's troop were just in sight on the hill. One of 
the oflficers suspecting treachery, drew his sword and 
threatened the negro's life unless he instantly repeated 
aloud every word he had said to his mistress. Faithful 
and fearless, he instantly declared that he was telling his 
mistress "dat dem dam red-coat steal all de chicken and 
de duck, and one dam red-coat nigger had got old turkey- 
cock, and dey all swear dat dey kill dis nigger cause him 
no gib em any more rum." This quieted their alarm and 
set the whole company into a burst of laughter, which the 
negro continued to excite, and amid the continued roar 
of which, that grew so boisterous that they took no note 
of a bustle outside. Col. Lee burst into the room and de- 
clared every one of them prisoners of war. 

This faithful slave was subsequently offered his free- 
dom, which he refused to accept, and continued to serve 
a good master as a slave, long after slavery was abolished 
in that State. 

During the invasion of Baltimore in the war of 1814, 

^ Probably Thomas Robinson, of Pennsylvania, later one of the 
original members of the Pennsylvania Society of the Cincinnati. 
Letter of Julian P. Boyd, Philadelphia, May 20, 1936. See Heit- 
man, Francis B., Historical Register of Officers of the Continental 
Army . . . , 471 (Washington, D. C, 1914). 



270 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

whole counties were drained of all the white men except 
a few quakers, who are always abolitionists I believe, so 
that tens of thousands of slaves, with none to control and 
awe, and keep them in check, and prevent them from 
robbing and murdering the women and children, and de- 
serting to the British and freedom from slavery — yet in 
this very district, at this very time, did Mrs. Madison 
take refuge and seek protection while impressed with the 
fear that the British were anxious to possess themselves 
of her person. 

It was in this district, too, at this time, while masters 
and overseers were all away, that the negroes on one 
plantation became a little unruly and neglectful of their 
daily labor, lazy, indolent, and insolent to their mistress, 
who undertook to quell a quarrel among themselves, that 
a man in the neighborhood, who was too much of a cripple 
to go to Baltimore to serve his country as a soldier, was 
nevertheless able to quell this difficulty; for, being sent 
for, he went over unarmed and flogged more than a dozen 
of the leaders, all able bodied men, and that too within 
ten miles of several British ships of war lying in the 
Potomac. The world does not afford the history of any 
other race who would have submitted to chastisement 
under such circumstances; nor can it be accounted for, 
except by those who believe that God foreordained and 
decreed the race of Canaan to be submissive servants of 
servants. 

It cannot be accounted for, under the supposition that 
the slaves were ignorant of the promises of freedom 
which the British held out to them. They were not ig- 
norant of that fact, but being themselves better Chris- 
tians than their white brethren, they were not disposed 
to attempt to abrogate the decrees of an overruling 
Providence. The truth is, that the slaves of the South do 
not desire to be freed from their servitude. In vain did 
the British, in the revolutionary war, issue proclamation 
after proclamation, calling on them to rise in rebellion 
and go free under the protection of British arms — and in 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1849 271 

vain did the tories and abolitionists of that day urge it 
upon them — and in vain, in the last war, did they pursue 
the same course — and in vain, at this day, is British gold 
poured out for the same object, aided as she is in her 
insiduous policy, by the thousands of fanatical allies in 
this country, who rush blindly to assist her in the only 
way on earth that she can conquer this Union : and that 
is by dissolving it through the agency of her tools, the 
abolitionists. Already have they succeeded in dissolving 
the union of one of the strongest churches in the country, 
and seem determined never to rest until they have dis- 
solved the political Union. 

But all the efforts of British and American abolition- 
ists will never abolish slavery, unless you compel them to 
be free against their will. And until they themselves 
will to be free, I feel as though I was committing a sin 
to urge it upon them. 

Nor am I defending slavery, as that word is often 
understood in the northern States. Many seem to sup- 
pose that slavery means cruelty, tyranny, oppression and 
every thing that tends to make those in bondage suffer 
and hopelessly repine. Now if slavery means anything 
of that nature, then slavery does not exist in any of the 
States over which I have traveled. The word slavery 
suggests a wrong idea to those unacquainted with the 
patriarchal form of government exercised over them in 
the United States. It is precisely the kind of slavery to 
which every abolitionist in the country dooms his wife 
and children; and I should feel just as guilty of med- 
dling with that which I had no right to meddle with, 
while attempting to free them from his control, as I 
should to free the southern slave from the control of a 
kind master. Yea, more so, for in doing the latter I 
should feel as though I were taking a being as helpless as 
a child, from a state of comparative happiness and re- 
ducing him to a state of absolute misery. The few ne- 
groes that are needed among the whites in free States, to 
fill the menial offices of barbers, shoe-blacks, waiters, 



272 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

cooks and scullions, may live comfortably enough — be- 
cause they are still fulfilling their destiny of being serv- 
ants of servants. But let them undertake to escape from 
their destiny, and make the attempt to govern themselves, 
and you will find them, with scarcely an exception, the 
most unhappy, discontented wretches in existence — dis- 
turbing the peace of society — filling the prisons — taxing 
the country for their support — and wherever a com- 
munity of them are found, becoming one of the greatest 
nuisances ever inflicted upon a neighborhood. 

As witnesses upon this point, I will summon the island 
of St. Domingo — the city of Cincinnati, with her negro 
mobs and abolition riots — and the county of Brown, 
Ohio, in which some very benevolent individuals once 
made a colony of liberated slaves, and entailed upon the 
citizens a band of lazy, worthless, starving, thieving vag- 
abonds. 

If obedience to the laws of the Bible will confer happi- 
ness upon man, and disobedience misery, then can we 
account for the misery of those of the race of Canaan 
who refuse to fulfill and obey that Scripture that says he 
shall be a servant of servants to his brother Japheth. 

A greater punishment could not be devised or inflicted 
upon the southern slave at this day, than to give him that 
liberty which God in his wisdom and mercy deprived 
him of. 

Out of the condition of slavery, there is not a people 
on earth so unhappy, discontented and worthless, as these 
Canaanites. Free them from control, and how soon does 
poverty and wretchedness overtake them. While in a 
state of slavery, even in the State of Mississippi, which 
is pointed to as the very hotbed of negro oppression, I 
boldly and truly assert, that you may travel Europe over 
— yea, you may visit the boasted freemen of America — 
aye, you may search the world over, before you find a 
laboring peasantry who are more happy, more contented, 
as a class of people, or who are better clothed and fed 
and better provided for in sickness, infirmity and old 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1849 273 

age, or who enjoy more of the essential comforts of life, 
than these so called, miserable, oppressed, abused, starved 
slaves. 

Upon this point, before I close, I will also summon a 
few witnesses. But to continue: all experience proves, 
that as soon as the negro ceases to act in the capacity of 
a servant, he ceases to be happy and contented, and falls 
into a state of vice and wretchedness. All experience 
proves that he does not seek to escape from that capac- 
ity, except in a few isolated cases, where he is influenced 
by some real or supposed wrong inflicted upon him, or by 
the persuasion of some meddling abolitionist, whose de- 
scriptions of the superior advantages of freedom over- 
come his weak reason. 

In proof of this I will cite the fact, that in the coun- 
ties of Maryland adjoining the Pennsylvania line, there 
are 19,000 slaves, who, notwithstanding their proximity 
to a free State, and constant contact with abolitionists, 
continue to be submissive to those who were decreed to 
hold them in bondage. One of these counties, that of 
Cecil, contained, in 1840, more free negroes than slaves, 
and probably more anti-slavery white men than slave 
owners ; and yet the slaves here adhere to the service of 
their masters, with nearly the same fidelity that they 
do in interior counties of South Carolina. 

In the river counties of Kentucky, bordered by Ohio 
and Indiana, in which are numerous persons ever ready 
to help the slaves to escape from their masters, there 
were, in 1800, 8,260 slaves— in 1810, 15,631— in 1840, 
29,872. This proves that, instead of escaping and dimin- 
ishing in numbers, they increased more than three fold 
in forty years. 

Proximity to the free States, facility of egress, to- 
gether with offered aid in escaping, seem to have had but 
little effect in inducing any great number of slaves to 
leave kind masters and comfortable homes, to whom they 
are as strongly attached as our children are to us and 
ours. 



274 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

Well, if they are not inclined to escape, let us see if 
they are inclined to rebel and take authority into their 
own hands, when they have the power. 

In 1790, Beaufort and Colleton district in South Caro- 
lina, contained 7,965 white inhabitants, and 30,798 slaves. 
In 1840 the same districts contained 11,524 whites and 
48,928 slaves. Liberty and Chatham counties, in Georgia, 
in 1790, contained 3,759 white persons, and 12,226 slaves 
— in 1840, there were 8,446 whites, and 16,892 slaves. 
Powhatten, James City, King William, Amelia and Caro- 
line counties in Virginia, contained, in 1790, 20,383 
whites and 33,484 slaves — in 1840, 16,706 whites, and 
29,193 slaves. 

Ten years of the above time was a period of war with 
a nation that used every art in its power to excite insur- 
rection among the slaves of the Southern States, yet in 
no part of any of these districts, where the slaves so 
much outnumber the whites, did any serious outbreak 
against the authority of their masters ever occur, and 
notwithstanding that, during periods of the war, it was 
not uncommon for almost every able bodied man to rush 
to the scene of danger, leaving their homes without any 
other protection than the love that binds the slave to his 
master, and teaches him to protect every thing that mas- 
ter holds dear. 

In 1810 the parishes (which are equivalent to coun- 
ties) of Point Coupee and St. Charles, in Louisiana, con- 
tained 2,068 whites, and 5,508 slaves— in 1840, 2,961 
whites, and 9,152 slaves. 

New Orleans and its precincts, in 1810, contained more 
than three times as many slaves as whites, and during 
the war, all Louisiana, and all the river counties of Mis- 
sissippi, contained far more slaves than whites, and were 
hemmed in by hostile Indians on all sides, while the 
British ships were on the coast sending emissaries among 
the slaves to urge them to rise upon the whites, or escape 
and seek protection and a free passage and home, under 
their flag; but, notwithstanding that this was in that 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1849 275 

country where we are told they are treated with such 
horrid brutality, it seems that they did not avail them- 
selves of the offered boon. 

When Gen. Jackson appealed to the patriotic spirits 
of that region to aid him in the defense of New Orleans, 
there were more than 5,000 slaves in and about Natchez, 
and yet not an hundred able bodied men remained behind 
to guard their own homes ; and the reason was that they 
knew they had no foes to guard against. But it was a 
strong manifestation of the instinct that has ever bound 
the sons of Canaan to prefer a life of slavery, comfort 
and plenty, and freedom from care, to the precarious 
existence that attaches to him when free. 

Many of the present masters now in that region, were, 
during this period, rocked in their cradles and nursed by 
those who had the power in their own hands to have 
closed their existence, and in one day to have blotted out 
that terrible sin, which is said to be accursed of God: 
though it seems he was not disposed to order the slave, 
as some of his pretended friends would do, to blot it out 
and wash himself free in the blood of his absent master's 
wife and children. 

Historical facts like these go far to prove, that the doc- 
trine so often preached is not, and cannot be, sustained, 
that "slavery is sin," that "it is incompatible with repub- 
licanism" and "inimical to religion," and that "God looks 
with displeasure upon all those who," notwithstanding it 
may be in conformity with Revelation and in fulfillment 
of prophecy, "hold the Canaanite in slavery." 

I have only to say that if God is displeased, he has 
given no evidence of it by continuing the guilty in the 
enjoyment of a high state of prosperity, notwithstanding 
their wickedness. 

I have heard men contend that the authority given in 
the Bible for Japheth to hold Ham in subjection, has 
expired by limitation; but how or when, they could not 
tell, but believed it was so, because it was inconsistent 
with their limited ideas of God's goodness and justice to 



276 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

put the descendants of Ham under the despotic power 
of all kinds of masters — good, bad and indifferent — 
learned and unlearned — Christians and infidels — humane 
and cruel — generous and avaricious — to be dealt with 
according to the whim, caprice, folly, wisdom or mad- 
ness, of each. Thus has erring human reason, full of 
vanity, sat in judgment on the decrees of God's wisdom, 
which is full of justice, benevolence and mercy, and were 
it possible for the decree to expire, Canaan would be the 
loser and not the gainer. For the same power that de- 
creed him to a life of servitude, has also planted in his 
bosom, a principle of protection against wanton abuse and 
tyrannical oppression, so that though he fall into the 
hands of cruel or avaricious masters, who would exact 
more labor from him than is just that he should render, 
no power can force him for any continued length of time 
to render it. Far different from the poor starved 
wretches of England's manufacturing towns, he needs 
no act of Parliament to protect him from over work, for 
that he surely will do himself. 

I doubt whether one single instance can be found 
among the slaves of the South, where one has injured 
himself at long and excessive labor. Instead of a cruel 
and avaricious master being able to extort more than a 
very reasonable amount of labor from him, his efforts 
will certainly produce the contrary effect. This is a well 
known fact, so much so indeed, that an overseer of this 
character cannot get employment among masters who 
know that over driving a negro, as well as a mule, is the 
poorest way to get work out of either of them. These 
facts are well understood by all observant masters and 
overseers, that neither mule nor negro can be made to do 
more than a certain amount of work ; and that amount so 
small in comparison to the amount done by white labor- 
ers at the North, that it is a universal observation at 
the South. Northern men are always the hardest mas- 
ters, in the vain attempt they make to force the negro 
to do even half as much as a hireling in New England is 
compelled to do, or lose his place and wages. 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1849 277 

Owing to this innate protecting principle, the tyrant 
is made to gnaw a file — and the cruel master heaps coals 
of fire upon his own head; and the avaricious one loses 
the gold that he vainly attempts to compel his slave to 
earn by excessive toil. 

It is true that some men abuse and harshly treat their 
slaves. So do some men abuse their wives and children 
and apprentices and horses and cattle. But I am sorry 
to say that I am forced to believe the latter class more 
numerous than the former. 

Experience has long since taught masters, that every 
attempt to force a slave beyond the limit that he fixes 
himself as a sufficient amount of labor to render his mas- 
ter, instead of extorting more work, only tends to make 
him unprofitable, unmanageable, a vexation and a curse. 
If you protract his regular hours of labor, his movements 
become proportionably slower; and this is not the effect 
of long habit acquired in slavery, as is proved by the 
fact that on his first introduction from Africa, he pos- 
sesses the same principle. Every stranger is always 
struck, on visiting a slave country, with the characteristic 
slow movements of this people under all circumstances. 
Many a hungry traveler, from a non-slaveholding coun- 
try, has cursed this slow movement while impatiently 
waiting two tedious hours for a negro cook to prepare a 
meal, which at last would be found to consist of nothing 
requiring such a length of time; as the whole intermi- 
nable, never-changing bill of fare, would consist of coffee, 
cornbread and bacon. 

Upon a plantation where they are universally well 
treated, they can, by a promise of rewards, be induced to 
quicken their speed in a busy time; but under a system 
of bad treatment and attempted force, they will at such 
a time slacken their speed and perform their work in a 
more careless and slovenly manner — fixing generally 
upon the most busy time, or pressing emergency, to do 
so. Attempt to force them with the lash when in this 
mood, and you will fail, for it has no terrors for them — 



278 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

they actually seem to possess a kind of nervous insensi- 
bility that shields them from suffering. 

This silent though effectual law of his nature, is a far 
better protection for him than any printed code. Until 
his condition is assimilated to a comparative state of ease 
and comfort, the master is a greater sufferer than the 
slave, for they will break, waste, destroy, idle away time, 
feign sickness, run away, and do all manner of things to 
vex and torment him. If he fail to give them enough of 
wholesome food, he will lose four fold the value, by the 
petty larceny that they will practice upon him. 

Finally, in self defense, the avaricious master is com- 
pelled to make the condition of his slaves as comfortable, 
or nearly so, as others in his own neighborhood, or he 
must make up his mind to look ruin in the face, or run 
mad with vexation. 

The fact is notorious, that slaves are better treated 
now than formerly, and that the improvement in their 
condition is progressing; partly from their masters be- 
coming more temperate and better men, but mainly from 
the greatest of all moving causes in human actions — self 
interest. For masters have discovered in the best of all 
schools — experience — that their true interest is insepa- 
rably bound up with the humane treatment, comfort and 
happiness of their slaves. And many masters have dis- 
covered, too, that their slaves are more temperate, more 
industrious, more kind to one another, more cheerful, 
more faithful and more obedient, under the ameliorating 
influences of religion, than under all the driving and 
whipping of all the tyrannical task-masters that have 
existed since the day when the children of Israel were 
driven to the task of making Egyptian brick without 
straw. 

And I do most fearlessly assert and defy contradiction, 
that in no part of this Union, even in Puritan New Eng- 
land, is the Sabbath better kept by master and slave, by 
employer and hireling, or by all classes, high and low, 
rich and poor, than in the State of Mississippi, where I 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1849 279 

have often been told that that thing, so accursed of God, 
existed in all its most disgusting deformity, wretched- 
ness and sinful horror. From the small plantations, the 
slaves go more regularly, and better dressed and behaved, 
to church, often a distance of five or six miles, than any 
other class of laborers that I have ever been acquainted 
with. Upon many of the large plantations, divine service 
is performed more regularly and to larger and more or- 
derly audiences, than in some county towns. 

Upon one plantation that I visited in Mississippi, I 
found a most beautiful little Gothic church, and a clergy- 
man furnished with a house, provisions and servants, 
and a salary of $1,500 a year, to preach to master and 
slaves. Upon another, situated upon the bank of the 
lovely lake Concordia, where the slaves outnumber the 
whites twenty to one, upon which I spent some pleasant 
days, I took upon myself to inquire particularly of the 
overseer, not himself a religious man, and at first op- 
posed to religious instruction for slaves, what had been 
the effect of the earnest and fatherly admonitions and 
worship of the owner with his slaves every Sabbath day, 
and was assured that it had a most beneficial effect. 

If any man can witness some of these happy meetings 
of slaveholders and slaves that I have, and not feel his 
heart more softened toward the influences of religion than 
he would in listening to the harangue of some mistaken 
fanatic, who would sever the bonds so closely knit between 
such a patriarch and his children, even if that bond should 
be severed in blood, I have only to say that his heart is 
not affected by the same influences that mine is. 

Upon another plantation I visited, the master is a 
most decided infidel ; yet so convinced is he of the advan- 
tage of giving religious instruction to slaves, that he has 
taken upon himself to teach them what he is so unfortu- 
nate that he cannot believe himself. Of course, from 
them he hides his own unbelief. 

And the manner that some of this infidel master's 
slaves, walk in the path of Christian duty, might well be 



280 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

followed by those I know most loud in denunciation of 
all men who dare to hold their fellow-men in subjection. 

And these few cases mentioned, are by no means iso- 
lated ones. I believe that it is susceptible of proof, that 
there are more Christian communicants, counting black 
and white, in the slave-holding States, than in any other 
portion of Protestant Christendom, containing the same 
number of souls. But I am sorry to say, that there are 
such numbers of professing Christians in the free States 
who deny that man can own a slave and still be a Chris- 
tian. 

And I am still more sorry to say, that the action of 
English arrogance and ignorance, which, under the name 
of abolition of slavery, seeks to throw a fire-brand into 
the explosive magazine of southern excitability, for the 
hidden purpose of blowing up the Union, aided as it is 
in this country by political demagoguism, ignorant fanat- 
acism, and honest belief that slavery is the accursed 
thing of God, has done more to retard the progress of 
Christianity, civilization, comfort and happiness, among 
the slaves, than all other causes put together. 

Do we not forget the command, "judge not lest ye be 
judged," when we sit in judgment upon the slaveholder 
and denounce him as destitute of all the attributes of the 
Christian religion, and refuse to associate and commune 
with him as a brother, because he happened to be born 
in a southern clime to the inheritance of slavery. 

And here let me inquire, tvhat is slavery — as you un- 
derstand it? Is it to be better fed, better clothed, better 
housed, better lodged, better provided and cared for in 
infancy, sickness and old age, better loved and respected 
by master, mistress, children and fellow laborers, better 
instructed in the principles of morality and religion, and, 
finally, at the close of a long life of light labor, comfort 
and happiness, to be better and more decently buried, 
than are millions of the laboring population of freemen 
in Europe, and thousands of the same class in this 
boasted land of liberty? For this is most truly the con- 
dition of slaves in the South. 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1849 281 

And if you answer, still he is a slave — I answer, true, 
he is a slave. And what is a freeman? Stand forth, 
first, ye who shout "long live queen Victoria;" while I 
display the enviable condition of Britania's free horn 
citizens. Come forth from your damp and crowded cel- 
lars and fireless dens of squalid wretchedness, and ex- 
hibit your starved and emaciated forms, your sickly 
countenances, your toil-worn, youthful, crooked spines, 
your swelled joints and contorted limbs, clothed in so 
scanty a supply of filthy rags that they are hardly suffi- 
cient to harbor the vermin, or hide the nakedness, of 
proud anti-slavery England's freemen ! Come forth from 
your dark and dismal coal-mine caverns, a thousand feet 
below the surface of the earth, where you live upon a 
scanty pittance that barely supports life, while you are 
able to toil, but now you are past it: come forth, then, 
and enjoy, in your toil-worn premature old age, the com- 
forts provided for you in freedom's work-house. 

Stand up ye full fed, hard toiling laborers upon the 
soil ye do not, and cannot own, for I would see how even 
the best classes of England's free born agricultural labor- 
ers, who produce all that lords and bishops eat, do eat 
themselves! Seven pounds of coarse black bread and 
four ounces of meat per week. Ah! that is freemen's 
food, is it? Now take me to your lodging room — for I 
would see where you rest your weary limbs after partak- 
ing of such sumptuous fare. 

It is here — men, women and children, like hogs huddled 
together. But ye are freemen, and dare not murmur at 
your lot, or neglect your labor, for thus you will be driven 
forth from the enjoyment of this freemen's fare, and be 
free to starve, or steal, to prolong your miserable life 
upon the food provided for convicts and refused to you 
while honest. 

We hear the sound of the factory bell, that tells the 
English operative of that world of machinery, of that 
government who fain would supply mankind with all 
their manufactured articles, that he is now free, at nine 
^t night, to retire to his supper and his bed. We see 



282 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

them come — infants, youths, adults, men and women, 
but never old age: that dwells not here. But why are 
those children carried upon parents' backs — are they 
sick? No! Then where is the energy of youth that 
should prompt them to run and skip and shout and play, 
when escaping from a day of confinement? They have 
been worked, beat, duck'd and starved, and compelled, 
like machines, to stand up to their toil, till at the first 
sound of the releasing bell, they sink to the floor, unable 
to put forth another effort, and would rather there die 
than undertake at this hour to walk to their miserable 
homes. Is it to be wondered that old age, hale and 
hearty, is not here — when we see such waxen visages, 
and incubus-like languor, sitting upon the youth and 
prostrating their vital energies. 

But let us follow the haggard-looking, miserably clad, 
hard-working operatives of the English factory system, 
to their homes, their supper, and their bed — down 
through this filthy lane, down into that dismal cellar, see 
them go — sixty men women and children in a room not 
large enough for six, nor fit for the abode of any human 
being. And there is the supper sumptuously set forth; 
but there is no table — no chair — no plate — no knife — no 
fork — no spoon. And why should there be, for there is 
nothing but a small piece of coarse black bread and a cup 
of raw Bohea tea for each — and the breakfast will be the 
same — and the dinner, potatoes fried in lard and perhaps 
a few small bits of meat; and the lodging, a litter of 
straw, made filthy by long use — for there straw costs 
money — in which all huddle together, lying close to keep 
each other warm, and from which all must rise at early 
dawn, to resume the daily toil — under a more severe task- 
master than the southern slave's overseer. 

But to the proof. An extract from the sworn testi- 
mony of a factory overseer, before a committee of Parlia- 
ment in 1832. 

"I was obliged to chastise them (the factory children) 
when they were almost fainting, and it hurt my feelings : 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1849 283 

then they would spring up and work pretty well for an- 
other hour — but the last two or three hours was my hard- 
est work, for they then got so exhausted." 

Sir Robert Peel, in speaking of the factory that he 
owned, deposes as follows : 

"I was struck, whenever I visited the factories, with 
the uniform appearance of bad health, and, in many 
cases, the stinted growth of the children." 

Witnesses also prove that the mind and morals suffer 
equally with the body. That death, a lingering miser- 
able death, which some of the eminent medical witnesses 
do not hesitate to call "murder" and "infanticide,'" is the 
effect of working children in a close room of confined 
atmosphere, sixteen hours a day. That such unremitting 
toil, and meagre diet, deforms the body, impairs the 
health, breaks the constitution, and swells the bills of 
mortality, among the freemen of slave-denouncing old 
England. Shall I be told that this is free labor — that 
the master in England has no power to compel these 
slaves of the factory system (or "operatives," I must call 
them, since slave sounds offensive to freeman's ears) to 
overwork themselves — that they can quit their employer 
whenever they please, etc.? Alas the law of necessity 
is upon them — endure or die ! 

Now, lest this language sound too strong, allow me to 
present language from high quarters. It is extracts from 
English papers, prefaced by one of our own country. 
Here it is : 

"Suffering in England. — It is next to impossible for 
the people of this country to form any opinion of the 
suffering condition of the immense masses of the hopeless 
poor in England. We learn, from an English paper, that 
a public meeting of the inhabitants of Leeds was held a 
few weeks before the sailing of the last steamer, to inves- 
tigate the condition of the unemployed poor — and a re- 
port, carefully drawn up from detailed accounts, was 
read to the meeting. The extent of destitution, as repre- 
sented in this report, is indeed frightful. It appears 



284 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

that there are twenty thousand individuals in Leeds who 
are living on IIV2 pence a week each — about twenty 
cents ! The report said : 

" The most harrowing descriptions were given by 
some of the visitors of the scenes they had witnessed. 
"The cases of distress," says Dr. Smiles (editor of the 
Leeds Times)/ "of extreme distress that had come under 
his notice that morning, had harrowed up his very soul. 
[Hear, Hear.] There was one case which he would par- 
ticularly mention. He had noted down the name, and he 
was sure, if any doubts existed, individuals might satisfy 
themselves as to the correctness of the statements. At 
the end of Brooke street there was a small cellar dwell- 
ing, nine feet by twelve, into which they were introduced 
by the enumerator. The dwelling was so considerably 
beneath the street, that only half of the window was 
above it. It was a damp, disagreeable, ill-lighted, ill- 
aired, den. [Hear, Hear.] In that apartment they found 
three families, consisting of sixteen individuals, nine who 
slept in it every night. [Sensation.] There were four 
adults, and twelve children. Six individuals, constitut- 
ing one family, slept upon a litter of straw, huddled to- 
gether, not like human beings, not even like animals, for 
their situation was nothing to be compared to the comfort 
of our dogs and our horses in our stables. [Hear, hear,] 
Other four or five slept on a bed of shavings, and the 
remaining five slept on another miserable bed in the 
apartment. When they entered, the poor mother was 
weeping, her infant was on her knee in the last stage 
of a fatal disease, dying without any medical assistance. 
[Sensation.] The family were entirely destitute, no 
means of subsistance, no weekly earnings, no parish re- 
lief. [Hear, hear.] That was one instance." We fear 

^ Samuel Smiles, author, lecturer, editor, born December 23, 1812, 
at Haddington; died 1904. Wrote Life of George Stephenson, Lives 
of the Engineers, Self-Help, Thrift, Duty. Editor of Leeds Times, 
1838-1842. Wrote A History of Ireland, Guide to America, and 
numerous other works. Mackay, Thomas (ed.). Autobiography of 
Samuel Smiles (London, 1905). 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1849 285 

Leeds may stand for a sample of nearly every town in 
the manufacturing districts. Winter is rapidly advanc- 
ing on a population without employment, and without 
property, what they had having been parted with in 
order to supply their most pressing wants. It was 
stated, too, by Dr. Smiles, that "the small grocers were 
failing and becoming bankrupts in large numbers. Many 
were not able to pay their debts. This, again, acted on 
middle class men in a higher condition of life; and he 
could state, what most of them, perhaps, knew, that a 
large number of the first class tradesmen have recently 
become bankrupts." ' 

"Another paper, the Liverpool Mercury of the 30th 
ult., says : 

" The winter is not yet commenced, yet the general 
distress throughout the country has arrived at such a 
point, that nothing but a wholesale famine can carry it 
further. From Paisley, the accounts are frightful — so 
frightful that even Sir Robert Peel, although he still ad- 
heres to his non-intervention as a Minister, declares his 
readiness to forward a private subscription for its ame- 
lioration as an individual. In the Potteries, famine stalks 
abroad ; thousands are starving ; and those who would 
cruelly attempt to delude the sufferers into the belief 
that machinery is the cause of their distress, may read, 
in the general destitution there, the refutation of their 
foolish falsehood. In the Potteries there is no other ma- 
chine worked but the potter's wheel mentioned in Scrip- 
ture. In the metropolis, we have a specimen of the gen- 
eral destitution, in the fact, that even printers, usually 
the most prosperous of the classes who live by labor, are 
appealing to private benevolence, with the appalling fact, 
that twelve hundred compositors and pressmen are un- 
employed, and many of them, with large families, are 
actually in a starving state.' 

"The following is an extract from a letter giving an 
account of the distress among the working classes, pre- 
vailing at Stockport: 



286 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

" 'All the other trades are equally suffering. Such is 
the extreme starvation point to which they are reduced, 
that their wives are to be seen begging from door to 
door, or gathering the disgusting offals that are to be 
met with in the streets. Meat and water are a luxury 
which few can boast of, and as for fire, whole houses are 
without a spark. Last week, upward of two hundred 
fresh men turned out for wages, and there is every rea- 
son to fear that, ere long, that number will be frightfully 
increased. The constant cry of the men is, "Are we to 
die of starvation, or see our children fall before our faces, 
from hunger, while plenty abounds in the land?" The 
situation of the females beggars all description — naked, 
shivering with cold, and faint from hunger, they are 
parading the streets and imploring, with tears and sup- 
plications, assistance for themselves and their famishing 
children.' " 

From another paper I give further extracts illustra- 
tive of the subject under examination. 

"Let us look, for a moment, at the condition of the 
'Free' laboring population of Great Britain. We give 
statistical facts : 

" 'In London, one-tenth of the population are paupers, 
and 20,000 persons rise every morning without knowing 
where they are to sleep at night. The paupers, criminals, 
and vagrants, alone, are 1,800,000.' — Alison's Principles 
of Population.^ 

" 'In Liverpool, there are 7,800 inhabited cellars, occu- 
pied by 39,000 persons. The great proportion of these 
cellars are dark, damp, confined, ill-ventilated, and dirty.' 
— Mr. Saney's Report to the House of Commons. 

"Dr. Robertson,^ an eminent surgeon of Manchester, 

* Sir Archibald Alison, historian, born at Kenley, Shropshire, 
December 29, 1792; died May 23, 1867. Educated for the law. 
Wrote History of Europe (1829-1842) ; essay on Population (1828) 
not published until June, 1840; Life of Marlborough (1847). See 
Dictionary of National Biography, 1:287-90 (1908). 

' Archibald Robertson, born December 3, 1789, at Cockburnspath, 
near Dunbar, in Scotland ; died 1864. Eminent surgeon and medi- 
cal writer. /6id., 48:402-3 (1896). 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1849 287 

who has had a great deal of experience among the labor- 
ing classes, sums up thus the accumulated evils incident 
to their condition : 

" 'Too early employment — too long employment — too 
much fatigue — no time for relaxation — no time for men- 
tal improvement — no time for the care of health — ex- 
haustion — intemperance — indifferent food — sickness — 
premature decay — a large mortality.' 

"The same gentleman, in speaking of the laboring poor 
of the agricultural districts, says that, in his opinion, 
their state is not more favorable to the preservation of 
perfect life of body than that of the manufacturing poor. 
He remarks : 

" 'What I say concerning these poor people, is the re- 
sult of much observation of them, and I consider it a 
duty to lift the vail from a subject surrounded by many 
respectable prejudices. ***** Their extreme poverty, 
and their constant labor so influence them, that the ma- 
jority — I am sure I speak within bounds — have never the 
enjoyment of health after forty years of age. This is 
the result of bad food — insufficient clothing — wearing 
toil — and the absence of all hope of any better in this 
world.' 

" 'The peasant's house is not the abode of joy or even 
comfort. No "children run to lisp their sire's return," or 
"climb his knees, the envied kiss to share." The children 
are felt to be a burden, ill-fed, ill-clothed, and lying on 
beds worse than the lower animals; they are ragged, or 
clothed by charity; untaught, or taught by charity; if 
sick, cured by charity ; if not starved, fed by proud char- 
ity,' &c. 

"Dr. Kay,^ in his description of the Factory System, 
says, in speaking of the condition of the artizan : 

'Joseph Kay, born February 27, 1821, at Salford, Lancashire, 
England. A. B. Trinity College, 1845; M.A., 1849. Spent four years 
in European countries examining and reporting upon the social con- 
ditions of the poorer classes. Author of The Education of the Poor 
in England and Europe (London, 1846) ; The Condition and Edu- 
cation of Poor Children in English and in German Toums (Man- 



288 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

" 'Domestic economy is neglected — domestic comforts 
are unknown. A meal of the coarsest food is prepared 
with heedless haste, and devoured with equal precipita- 
tion. Home has no other relation to him than that of 
shelter — few pleasures are there — it chiefly presents to 
him a scene of physical exhaustion, from which he is 
glad to escape. His house is ill-furnished, uncleanly, 
often ill-ventilated, perhaps damp ; his food, from want 
of forethought and domestic economy, is meagre and in- 
nutricious; he is debilitated and hypochondriacal, and 
falls the victim of dissipation.' " 

COMPARISON OF SLAVE LABOR AND THE PAUPER LABOR OF 
EUROPE; ABOLITION OUTRAGES AND FALSEHOODS; THE 
RESULTS OF EMANCIPATION AND THE HAYTIAN REPUB- 
LIC, ETC. 

It is not this mutual love and good will and spirit of 
mutual protection, binding southern masters and slaves 
together, that keep English freemen in submission to 
a system inconceivably worse than any system of negro 
slavery in the United States. It is want, absolute want, 
and perfect inability to escape from it. That there is no 
love for employers, is proved by the hostility of opera- 
tives against them which requires a constant force of 
police and armed soldiers to ride down the mob whenever 
they meet to discuss their grievances — by the necessity 
of the locking, bolting, barring and guarding, every night 
brings to the property holders in all English manufactur- 
ing towns, to guard their lives and property from the 
vengeance of the starving millions of England's slavery- 
denouncing, free born, poverty-inheriting laborers. 

What a miserable state of insecurity and fear, so dif- 
ferent from the prevailing practice in slave-ridden Mis- 
sissippi, where I know, from personal observation, that, 
instead of the southern people reposing, as I have often 
heard asserted by visionary abolitionists that they do, 

Chester, 1853) ; also newspaper articles on free trade and national 
education. Died near Dorking, Surrey, at the age of fifty-seven. 
Dictionary of National Biography, 30:249-50 (1896). 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1849 289 

upon a magazine of gun powder, the explosion of which 
they were in constant fear and dread of, masters and 
their families, and overseers, those cruel negro-whipping 
tyrants, lay down at night with feelings of the most quiet 
and perfect security — their persons and property un- 
guarded by bolt or bar, policeman or soldier, and not one 
in a hundred ever thinks of sleeping with gun or pistol 
in the room : and if he did, what would be the use where 
doors and windows are all open, and all the slaves upon 
the plantation as free and unconfined as master and over- 
seer, and yet the latter sleep as free from fear as I do in 
my own house. 

I visited a plantation in Mississippi, upon which there 
are more than one hundred slaves in charge of an over- 
seer, who, with the exception of a young physician 
boarder, are the only whites on the place ; and two of the 
nearest plantations upon which there are more negroes 
than upon this, are each in charge of a single overseer, 
and another by a widow, so that, in that neighborhood, I 
presume that there are more than fifty able-bodied ne- 
groes to each white man. And this overseer, who is noted 
for his ability to make negroes labor, and undoubtedly 
uses the lash all that is needed, has so little fear of being 
blown up in this great bug-bear magazine of powder, that 
he lives here almost alone among the slaves, and never 
carried a pistol or kept fire arms in his room in his life. 

A writer from whom I have quoted largely, speaking 
of a temporary residence upon the banks of Lake Con- 
cordia, in Louisiana, says, what I also know from per- 
sonal observation, that in this neighborhood, the slaves 
outnumber the whites nearly an hundred to one. There 
is no guard or patrol on duty ; the slaves are at liberty as 
soon as the day's work is finished; the door of the cot- 
tage I occupy has neither lock nor bolt ; my room contains 
many valuables; yet I never felt safer in my life, for I 
have known this neighborhood nearly twenty years; al- 
ways containing near the same number of slaves under 
the charge of overseers, yet peace, plenty, quiet and com- 
fort, have had an uninterrupted reign — ^for experience 



290 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

has taught them, that when order and discipline are pre- 
served among this people — when they are kindly treated 
and made to know and feel that they are servants — that 
their overseer is not a tyrant, but, for the time, a master 
whom they must obey — they need no compulsion to make 
them obey, or go cheerfully to their work without his 
attendance, for the common practice is to rely upon the 
most trustworthy slaves themselves, to limit or extend 
the amount of each day's labor. It is an indisputable 
fact, that an overseer who urged the slaves beyond their 
strength, or that inflicted cruel or unnecessary punish- 
ment, or failed to see them well fed, or kindly taken care 
of when sick, would be as sure to lose his place, as though 
he permitted them to idle and waste their time. 

If witnesses are required to prove my assertions, I can 
call by name an hundred as honorable and high-minded 
men as ever breathed the air of heaven, who will vouch 
for every word that I have uttered. 

Having feasted upon the diet of English factory opera- 
tives, let me introduce you now to the bed and board of 
negro slaves, in cotton-planting, negro-oppressing Mis- 
sissippi. Contrary to my practice heretofore, I will call 
a few witnesses by name — I am sure that they will excuse 
the liberty, if it should ever come to their ears, for my 
witnesses are gentlemen in every sense of the word. John 
T. Leigh,^ of Yallubusha county, I invoke you first; state, 
if you please, as j^'ou did to me, how you feed your 
negroes? 

"The most of my negroes have families, and live as 
you see in very comfortable cabins, nearly as good as my 
own, with good fire places, good floors and doors, comfort- 
able beds, plenty of cooking utensils and dishes, tables 
and chairs. But I intend, in the course of another year, 
to build them a new set of cabins, of uniform size, so as 
to correspond in appearance with the overseer's house. 
Those who have not families of their own, mess together; 
I give each of them 31/2 lbs. of bacon, clear of bone, per 

'See Robinson, 1:454-58. 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1849 291 

week, and of the same quality that I use myself, and 
which I make upon the place, and generally about a peck 
and a half of corn meal, not being particular about the 
measure of that, as I raise plenty of corn and grind it in 
my own mill, and wish them to have all they will eat 
without wasting it. I also give them sweet potatoes and 
plenty of vegetables in the season of them. Those who 
choose to do so, can commute a part of the meat rations 
for an equivalent in molasses. I also give them a liberal 
supply of fresh meat from time to time during the year, 

"They also, as you see, all have their hen houses, and 
as 'master's corn crib is always open,' they raise an 
abundance of eggs and fat chickens to eat or exchange 
for any other luxuries they wish. Besides, my negroes 
raise a crop of cotton every year for their own use, and 
several of the most provident of them always have 
money, often to the amount of fifty to one hundred dol- 
lars. You will observe that the children are all taken 
care of and fed during the day at the nursery, upon corn 
bread and fat, and hominy and molasses. 

"All the cotton clothing and part of the woolen is spun 
and wove by women kept employed at that business on 
the plantation. I give my negroes a feast and frolic 
every Christmas. I was born and bred among slaves in 
Virginia. In buying and selling, good masters are al- 
ways careful not to separate families. Two of my men 
have wives on President Polk's plantation which adjoins 
mine, and whom they are free to visit every Saturday 
night and remain with till Monday morning." 

Now this is the testimony of a most honorable living 
witness, whom if you wish to cross-examine, you can do 
so at any time. If you will visit him, you will find that no 
father is better loved or more respected by his children, 
than he is by his slaves ; and I should not be surprised if 
some of you should acknowledge that, in every respect, 
they lived more comfortable than many of us do. 

I will next ask you to call on Capt. Wm. Eggleston,^ 

'See Robinson, 1:459-62. 



292 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

of Holmes county, whom you will find a fine specimen of 
an old Virginia gentleman, and whose hundred and fifty 
fine, healthy, hearty looking slaves, will be the best evi- 
dence that he feeds them in the same way of the last 
witness. There I saw the same paternal love and the 
same respect for "old massa"— the little negroes running 
after him, as we passed through the village of negro cab- 
ins, to shake hands and say "How de do, massa," — "God 
bless massa," — and receive a reply, notwithstanding it 
comes from a slaveholder, acceptable in the sight of 
Heaven, of "God bless you, my children." 

I will introduce to you one more witness, only because 
the system of feeding and dealing out rations, differs 
from the others ; it is that of Col. Joseph Dunbar,^ of Jef- 
ferson county, now upwards of sixty years of age, a 
native born Mississippian, who has lived all his life in 
the vicinity of Natchez, the very hotbed of all that is 
awful, wicked, bloodthirsty and cruel, in connection with 
southern slavery; where slaves, if they are starved any- 
where, are starved here, or fed upon cotton seed, as I 
have heard asserted by those who believed it to be a fact. 
"Upon the 'home plantation,' Col. Dunbar has one hun- 
dred and fifty negroes, fifty of which are field hands. The 
reason of this is, that he keeps nearly all the aged and 
children that would naturally belong to another planta- 
tion, where he can look every day to their wants, and 
provide with his own hands for their comfort. His negro 
quarters look more like a neat, pleasant. New England 
village, than they do like what we have often been taught 
to believe was the residence of poor, oppressed and 
wretched slaves. I did not give them a mere passing 
view, but examined the interior, and in some of them saw 
what may be seen in some white people's houses — a great 
want of neatness and care — but, so far as the master was 
concerned, all were comfortable, roomy and provided 
with beds and bedding in abundance. In others there 
was a show of enviable neatness and luxury; high-post 

' See Robinson, 1 : 486-90. 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1849 293 

bedsteads, handsomely curtained round with musketo 
netting, cupboards of blue Liverpool ware, coffee mills, 
looking-glasses, tables, chairs, trunks and chests of as 
good clothes as I clothe myself or family with. Every 
house having the univeral hen-house appendage. In the 
nursery were more than a dozen cradles, and on the neat, 
green, grassy village common, were sporting more than 
forty negro children, neatly clothed, fat and happy look- 
ing, lazy little slaves. At a certain signal upon the cook- 
house bell, the young gang came up in fine order to the 
yard for their dinner; this consisted of meat gravy, and 
small pieces of meat, thickened with broken corn bread 
and boiled hominy, seasoned with salt and lard, to which 
is occasionally added molasses. The cooking for all 
hands is done in one great kitchen or cook-house, by an 
experienced cook, and must be well done, as I have no 
doubt that the cook would be punished severer for any 
careless or wilful neglect about his business, than would 
any other hand for neglect of work in the field; and I 
judge this from the fact, that I accidentally overheard 
the Col., while examining some bread that was not well 
baked, ask the cook 'if he sent such bread as that to the 
field, because if he did, and he should repeat the offense, 
he would order the overseer to give him a dozen lashes — 
for, mind I tell you, boy, that my negroes shall have good 
bread and plenty of it.' On being assured by the cook 
that that was the only loaf not well baked, and that there 
was plenty without it, he appeared well satisfied. I after- 
ward examined the other bread and tasted it, and found 
it better than that which I have found upon many a mas- 
ter's own table. The bacon, too, was excellent and well 
cooked, and given at the rate of 3Vo lbs. per week to each 
hand. Fresh meat and vegetables are also given here in 
plenty. The breakfast and dinner is generally put up in 
tin pails for each family or mess, or for single hands, as 
they prefer, and sent to the field, which they will sit and 
eat in the hot sun, in preference to going into the shade. 
The supper they take in their own houses, to which they 



294 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

often add luxuries from the hen-houses, or such as they 
purchase with the sale of eggs and chickens, which they 
frequently do to their own masters. In the yard of the 
overseer's house is a large, airy building, neatly white- 
washed, which is used when needed, for a hospital ; and 
upon Christmas and other holidays and wedding festi- 
vals, as a ball-room. I witnessed here again that same 
kind of deep-seated love for 'old massa,' from the chil- 
dren and several old negroes who were full grown when 
he was born, and had lived to see 'young massa' grow up 
in prosperity to provide for them in decrepid old age. 
The gleam of joyous satisfaction, too, that beamed from 
the eyes of two or three sick women, when 'good old 
massa' called to see sick old Kitty, was enough to warm 
his Christian heart to thank God that he was placed in a 
situation where he could give so much happiness to his 
fellow creatures." 

If the most cold blooded abolitionist that ever sought 
to sever bands like these, can witness such scenes as this 
and an hundred others that I have seen, and not feel and 
acknowledge that he has had an erroneous idea of south- 
ern slavery, then will I acknowledge that God makes 
men with most unaccountable dispositions. It does ap- 
pear to me most unaccountable, how any man, in his 
sober senses, with a full knowledge of facts as they do 
actually exist, can wish to dissolve the bonds between 
master and slave, on account of, and under the plea of, 
doing good to the slave. If he will say that he wishes it 
solely on account of "ameliorating the condition of the" 
whites, and that he conceives it necessary to sacrifice the 
happiness of the slaves to effect this object, then will I 
acknowledge that he has some show of reason and com- 
mon sense on his side. But to set them free among the 
whites, he will make them just as much more worthless 
and miserable than they now are — not only as the free 
negroes are now more worthless and miserable than the 
slaves, but in just that proportion more so that the num- 
ber of free negroes would be increased. To free them 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1849 295 

and send them off to live by themselves, will be to send 
them away from home, friends, civilization, comfort, 
Christianity and happiness. 

If any would inquire whether in my advocacy of letting 
what are termed "southern institutions" remaining 
quietly as they are, until the people themselves wish to 
change them, I also take into account all the cases in 
which the slave may be abused, or whether in my com- 
parisons between English operatives and southern slaves, 
I take into account all the floggings of the latter, I answer 
most decidedly, yes, I do ; for, in all my tour, during the 
past winter, I did not see or hear of but two cases of flog- 
ging: one of which was for stealing, and the other for 
running away from as good a master as ever a servant 
need to have, which is proved by the appearance and gen- 
eral good conduct of his negroes, and that they are well 
fed I know from many days personal observation; and 
I have seen some of them with better broad cloth suits on 
than I often wear myself; and more spare money than 
their master, as he will freely acknowledge. This wit- 
ness is Dr. M. W. Phillips, of Hinds county, who will 
readily disprove this statement if not true. 

If I am asked the question, I have no hestitation in 
saying, as did Admiral Rowley^ to a committee of the 
British Parliament, "that if I had been born to labor, 
absolutely to labor, I would sooner have been a black, in 
the island of Jamaica, than a white man in Great Britain, 
and, taking my chance for the same degree of talent and 
industry, I should have been able, at an earlier period 
of life, to become my own master." And I do not limit 
my comparison to the factory operatives, but to the state 
and condition of the daily laborers in England, Ireland 
and Europe generally, not forgetting to add a few mil- 
lions upon this continent. 

And if the question should be asked how a slave can 
make money for himself, so as to be able not only to 
supply his own little wants, but actually to lend, as some 

•Sir Charles Rowley, baronet (1770-1845). 



296 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

of them do, money to their own masters, I will answer^ 
by raising poultry, making baskets and brooms, gather- 
ing moss, doing overwork Saturdays and evenings, for 
which they are paid, and by cultivating a crop for them- 
selves, land for which is allotted them on almost every 
plantation. And, although they are often too indolent to 
cultivate their own crops in their own time, a good over- 
seer will always see that they do not neglect their own 
interest, any more than their master's. According to my 
observation, there are but few overseers to be found, 
who, like those of the factories of England, are vile ex- 
tortioners of labor, often ducking children in tubs of cold 
water kept for the purpose, or deducting the wages of 
adult laborers for a moment's idleness, or delay of five 
minutes behind time. On the contrary, I have ever found 
them to be very quiet personages, and often well bred 
gentlemen, who would do honor to any society; seldom 
being personally present with the slaves on large planta- 
tions, only visiting them occasionally while at their labor, 
to give directions about the kind of work to be done, and 
to see that they do it according to orders: and in their 
necessary intercourse with them, affable, gentle, firm in 
their demeanor, without familiarity — for that no negro 
can bear — governing without passion, by fixed rules — 
seldom punishing them, except when absolutely necessary 
to preserve order and discipline, or prevent crimes, and 
never to compel them to do more work, unless they will- 
fully neglect their duty. All of them know what their 
duty is upon a plantation, and that they are generally 
willing to do, and nothing more; and if more than that 
very moderate and easy duty be required, they will not 
submit to it, but become turbulent and impatient of con- 
trol, and all the whips in Christendom cannot drive them 
to perform more than they think they ought to do, or 
have been in the long habit of doing. 

If I should be asked the question, whether in all my 
journeying in Mississippi, I did not meet with any of 
those instances of the vile manner in which blacks are fed 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1849 297 

there, as is sometimes told us by rascally runaway ne- 
groes and their aiders and abettors, I should answer, only 
once, and that was in this manner — spending a few days 
with a gentleman in Washington, near Natchez, who was 
himself from that island where the experiment is so often 
tried, how great an amount of human life can be sus- 
tained upon the smallest amount of the cheapest food, 
and where it is considered economy to have everything 
eaten that is possibly eatable; I suppose he was practic- 
ing in Mississippi upon the same principle; for I ob- 
served, one morning, a negro engaged over a large kettle 
of boiling cotton seed and corn, cabbage stumps and tur- 
nips, cutting up and putting into the kettle a litter of 
pigs that had been overlaid by the mother and killed the 
night before ; on inquiring what he was making soup for, 
he sery honestly told me it was to feed them young 
blacks, that I had just been looking at. Whether he 
would have dared to aver the truth, if his master had 
been present, is not for me to say; or whether cotton 
seed soup, thickened with dead pigs, is a wholesome diet, 
that would be relished by young negroes, I am unable to 
say; as the young blacks for whom this unsavory dish 
was destined, did not speak our language, or I should cer- 
tainly have asked them the question; but, unfortunately 
for me and the abolition cause generally, these blacks 
belonged to the Berkshire family, and only answered me 
with a grunt. 

But I do seriously say, that I did not see or hear of 
one place where the negroes were not well fed ; and I did 
not see a ragged gang of negroes in the South ; and I 
could only hear of one plantation where the negroes were 
overworked or unjustly flogged, and on that plantation 
the master was a drunken, abusive wretch, as heartily 
despised by his neighbors as he was hated by his negroes, 
and were it not for the consequences to themselves if they 
should rise upon and pull him limb from limb, his brother 
planters would rejoice that he had met the fate that 
cruelty to slaves, they are free to say, justly merits. 



298 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

The two things that are most despised and hated in 
the South, are masters that abuse and starve and ill-treat 
their slaves, and abolitionists, who seize upon every iso- 
lated case of the kind, and trumpet it through the land 
as evidence of the manner that all slaves are treated, and 
then call upon the people of the free states to aid the ne- 
groes to free themselves from such inhuman bondage, 
peaceably if they can, forcibly if they must, no matter 
whose or how much blood shall flow. 

Is it any wonder that abolitionists should be hated, de- 
spised, dreaded, feared in the South, when they see such 
doctrine as I am about to read from the Emancipator, 
showing how they intend to abolish slavery. Speaking 
of politics and the prospect of the abolition party getting 
into power, the Emancipator, the leading "Liberty 
Party" journal says: 

"Let them (the Whigs and Democrats) distinctly un- 
derstand, that our use of the ballot box leads to a use of 
the cartridge-box. We are opposed to international war, 
and believe that a Christian nation would never need to 
fight offensively and defensively. But we are in favor 
of the execution of law, and the establishment of justice 
at all hazards. So that, if it were possible for slavery to 
exist in this Union after the opponents of the system had 
assumed the reins of government, ive should be in favor 
of using the physical potver of the nation to put it out of 
existence. It is nonsense, it is knavery, it is suicide, to 
talk any longer of the General Government not having 
power to abolish slavery in the tvhole country, when the 
slaveocracy is giving it power to annex to us all the 
slavery of Texas and Cuba and Brazil. It has that power, 
or it is not for one moment fit to live. It has that power, 
or else to establish justice and secure the domestic tran- 
quility is a thing which it is utterly incapable of doing." 

"Fortunately, this avowal comes at a sufficiently early 
day to operate as a warning to the true friends of free- 
dom, not to confer power upon a party which stands 
ready to trample the constitution under its feet, and in- 
volve the country in a civil war." 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1849 299 

Is it any wonder that a people naturally of a quick and 
fiery temperament, should show some little excitement at 
such wholesale slander upon such good men and devout 
Christians as thousands of the slave holders of the South 
most truly are, and daily show themselves to be, in all 
things except this one damning sin of owning slaves, as 
it is to be found in the following extracts, which have 
been published in the "Indiana Freeman," a little echo 
of loud English abolitionism, that is seeking through all 
the willing tools who wickedly wish to dissolve this 
Union, to effect the object by promoting discord, hatred, 
jealousy and heart-burnings between the members of our 
political family, under the hypocritical plea of releasing 
the poor oppressed negroes from slavery. 

I am truly sorry that such a paper, which a southern 
editor fitly calls a filthy sheet, exists in Indiana, under the 
name of Freeman.^ Now that these pretented extracts 
from southern runaway-slave advertisements, ever ex- 
isted, except in the brain of some mischief maker, I will 
not believe until I see the originals; for I have seen, for 
a number of years past, a stereotype edition of these 
"extracts," going the round of the abolition papers: but 
in all my reading of southern papers, I never have seen 
anything like one of these pretended advertisements, nor 
in my anxious inquiry after truth have I ever seen any 
evidence of this cutting and maiming, knocking out teeth 
and branding; and it is just as easy for me to believe 
that any sane man would knock out the front teeth of a 
horse to mark him, as he would knock out those of a 
slave, worth perhaps five or six hundred dollars, and by 
which operation he would probably injure the value of 
his property twenty-five per cent. But here are the 
extracts : 

"Slavery. — Under the slave system of the United 
States, the master may brand his slaves with hot iron, 
maim them, or maltreat them in any manner whatever, 

' A short-lived newspaper published at Indianapolis during the 
middle forties by H. W. Depuy. Sulgrove, Berry R., History of 
Indianapolis and Marion County, 243 (Philadelphia, 1884). 



300 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

and in pursuing runaways may shoot them. As evidence 
that this is often done, we make extracts from advertise- 
ments in southern papers. Similar advertisements may 
be found in southern papers at any time. 

" 'Ranaway, a negro woman and two children ; a few 
days before she went off, / burnt her tvith a hot iron, on 
the left side of her face; I tried to make the letter M.' 

" 'Ranaway, a negro girl, called Mary ; has a small scar 
over her eye, a good many teeth missing, the letter A. is 
branded on her cheek and forehead.' 

" 'Was committed to jail, a negro man ; says his name 
is Josiah; his back very much scarred by the whip, and 
branded on the thigh and hips, in three or four places, 
thus (J.M.), the rim of his right ear has been bit or 
cut off.' 

" 'Fifty dollars reward, for my fellow Edward ; he has 
a scar on the corner of his mouth, two cuts on and under 
his arm, and the letter E. on his arm.' 

" 'Fifty dollars reward, for the negro Jim Blake ; has 
a piece cut out of each ear, and the middle finger of the 
left hand cut off to the second joint.' " 

"These are only a few of the pretended advertisements 
the editor gives, which he says are so common in south- 
ern papers. After giving a string of nearly a column, 
he thus proceeds:" 

"A favorite method of marking slaves, so that they 
may be recognized, is by knocking out their front teeth. 
But this form of cruelty is mild in comparison with 
others frequently resorted to." 

"And then continues a series of lies as black as were 
ever fabricated, about the most unheard of cruelties — 
burning slaves alive — cutting them to pieces with knives, 
by inches — swinging them feet upward, and whipping 
them to death, &c., which are stated to be common occur- 
rences at the South, though it is graciously acknowledged 
that all slaves are not treated precisely so bad. 

"Our readers may judge from such things as these the 
sort of misrepresentations used by these fanatical scoun- 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1849 301 

drels, to prejudice the people of the free States against 
the South." 

Now, by way of offset to these, allow me to read the 
following extract from a letter of Mr. Brooks,^ editor of 
the New York Express, to show that even in slavery- 
hating, abolition-loving Massachusetts, slaves, yea, negro 
slaves, were not only held, but bought and sold, "like 
beasts in the market." But as they did not knock out 
their front teeth, I suppose it was no sin. The extract is 
headed 

"OLD BOSTON ADVERTISEMENTS. 

"July 8, 1771 — To be sold, a hearty, likely negro boy, 
about twenty years of age; has had the small pox; can 
do any sort of work ; would make an excellent servant in 
the country." 

"April 19, 1731 — To be sold by public vendue, on 
Wednesday next, at the Heart and Crown, in Cornhill, 
Boston, sundry sorts of household goods, beds, pots and 
kettles, brass and iron ware, and a young negro woman, 
seasoned to the country." — N. E. Weekly Journal. 

"July 5, 1742 — To be sold, a young, likely, strong and 
healthy negro woman, that is an excellent cook, and can 
do all sorts of business." — Boston Evening Post. 

July 5 1742 — Any person that has one or more negro 
men to dispose of, will hear of a customer by inquiring 
of the printer." 

"Sept. 20, 1742— To be sold (among a boat's furni- 
ture), a likely negro man, aged twenty-eight, who has 
followed the sail-making trade eight years." — Boston 
Evening Post. 

"Feb. 18, 1771 — To be sold at auction, a sprightly 

^ Erastus Brooks, born January 31, 1815, at Portland, Maine. 
Founded The Yankee at Wiscasset, Maine. Editor and proprietor 
of the Haverhill Gazette; editorial manager, Nerv York Express, 
1840. Member, New York General Assembly and State Board of 
Health. Interested in all movements to benefit Indians. Trustee, 
Cornell University. Died at Richmond, Staten Island, November 25, 
1886. National Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 6:47-48 (1896 
ed.). 



302 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

negro lad, eighteen years old, that can speak French. In- 
quire of the printers." — Mass. Gaz. and Post Boy and 
Advertiser. 

"Dec. 17, 1744 — To be sold, a negro woman, about 
thirty-six years of age. She has been in Boston from a 
child. She is a good cook, and washer, and can do all 
sorts of household business in a complete manner, and is 
a very serviceable negro." — Boston Evening Post. 

Here is an advertisement of a different character: 

"Dec. 17, 1774 — A fine negro child, of a very good 
breed to be given away. Inquire of the printer." — Bos- 
ton Evening Post. 

"Oct. 26, 1730— To be sold by David Pippoon, fine 
young negro girls and boys." 

"Also, a white young man, who is willing to serve 
twelve months for five pound and prison charges." 

Enough for once. I could send you more if more were 
necessary to show that the present customs of the South 
were once the customs of New England." 

Is it any wonder that the citizens of the South should 
feel themselves aggrieved, slandered and ill-treated, and 
under the excitement should make use of harsh language 
toward the northern States? Is it any wonder that the 
people of the South object to any interference by the 
people of the northern States, or those of other nations, 
with what they conceive to be their constitutional rights ? 

The editor of the Kentucky Commonwealth says : 

"Whether slavery be a blessing to us and the slaves — 
and we regard it as an unmitigated curse in every aspect 
— is not a question proper to be submitted by our govern- 
ment to the consideration of foreign governments. We 
deny even to the governments of the Co-States of this 
Union, any right, power or propriety, in interfering with 
the question. We hold that our security and our ultimate 
rights depend upon maintaining the question as one 
wholly domestic to the States in which the institution of 
slavery exists." 

This is precisely the ground that I think all true 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1849 303 

friends to the Union should take upon this agitating ques- 
tion. If abolitionists really wish to see slavery abolished, 
instead of seeing the Union dissolved, they will pause in 
their mistaken, mad career, and see if there is not a more 
certain way of bringing about that object, in a patriotic, 
christian manner, than heaping abuse upon those who 
were born to the inheritance. As an evidence that some 
of the people of slaveholding States do not esteem the 
inheritance as a blessing, I will give another extract from 
the same paper. Speaking of Mr. Calhoun's^ letter to our 
Minister in France, the editor remarks upon the institu- 
tion of slavery, thus : 

"As to the blessings of slavery, Mr. Calhoun is very 
silly to argue that question even at home; still more 
abroad. The universal sentiment of the North, and, we 
believe, a majority of the people even in the slaveholding 
State, regard slavery here as a plague spot and a curse. 
In Kentucky, while we believe all her citizens are loyal to 
the constitution, and would resist any interference in the 
question, nearly all regard the institution as every way 
injurious to us and would joyfully adopt any just and 
practicable scheme of relieving themselves of the evil. 
The number of slaveholders in Kentucky is about one- 
fourth the number of voters. This is an important fact, 
which the considerate should constantly keep in mind. 
Mr. Calhoun's principles carried out, would make the 
laboring freemen of this country slaves to slavery. 

"God forbid we should excite the smallest prejudice 
against either negro labor or those who enjoy it. We 
would make no discrimination between them and others ; 
for we hold ourselves conscientiously bound, under the 
compromises of the constitution, to regard all and pro- 
tect all alike." 

This is the true and honest language of the Christian 

'John C. Calhoun, of South Carolina, born March 18, 1782; died 
March 31, 1850. Secretary of war, vice-president, senator, secre- 
tary of state, and political philosopher. Established a commodious 
plantation homestead in his native district which he called Fort 
Hill. Dictionary of American Biography, 3:411-19. 



304 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

abolitionist — I know the man — I know he hates slavery, 
but loves his country. A large majority of the slave- 
holders are men of proud spirit, but true hearts and stout 
arms and disposition to resist foreign dictation. They 
are to be conciliated, not despised and their rights tram- 
pled on and made subservient to the will of men who 
would illegally wrest their legal possessions from them. 
That Kentucky would this day have been ripe for eman- 
cipation, I have no doubt, if she had been conciliated in- 
stead of cursed by the abolitionists of the North. 

Here is more language of a Kentucky abolitionist. It 
is from the pen of Cassius M. Clay.^ Compare it with 
that of the Emancipator, and tell me which is most likely 
to affect the abolition of slavery. Mr, Clay says : 

"Slavery is a municipal institution. It exists by no 
other right and tenure than the constitution of Kentucky. 

"I am opposed to depriving slaveholders of their slaves 
by any other than constitutional and legal means. Of 
course, then, I have no sympathy for those who would 
liberate the slaves of Kentucky in other ways. I have no 
connection with any man, or set of men, who would sanc- 
tion or undertake the illegal liberation of slaves; and I 
feel bound, by my allegiance to the State of Kentucky, 
to resist (by force, if necessary) all such efforts. 

"Whilst I hold that the United States constitution has 
no power to establish slavery in the District of Columbia, 
or in the Territories, or in any place of its exclusive 
supremacy; so I contend, that in the States, once ad- 
mitted into the Union, and thereby become sovereign and 
indepetident, Congress has no power or right to interfere 

' Cassius Marcellus Clay, born October 19, 1810, at White Hall, 
Madison County, Kentucky; died July 22, 1903. State legislator. 
1835 and 1837 from Madison County, and 1840 from Fayette County. 
His hatred for slavery became a crusading passion. Began publish- 
ing the True American, an abolitionist paper, in 1845; was forced 
to remove to Cincinnati where he continued its publication. Later 
changing its name to Examiner, he transferred it to Louisville. 
Soldier during Mexican War. Ambassador to Russia under Lin- 
coln. See Dictionary of American Biography, 4:169-70. 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1849 305 

with or touch slavery, without the legitimate consent of 
the States. 

"I am the avowed and uncompromising enemy of slav- 
ery, and shall never cease to use all constitutional and 
honorable and just means, to cause its extinction in Ken- 
tucky, and its reduction to its constitutional limits in the 
United States. 

"Born a Kentuckian and a slaveholder, I have no prej- 
udices nor enmities to gratify; but, impelled by a sense 
of self-respect, love and justice, and the highest expedi- 
ency, I shall ever maintain that liberty is our only safety. 

"Then let us, having no regard to the clamors of the 
ultras of the North or the South, move on unshaken in 
our purpose, to the glorious end. Shall sensible men be 
for ever deluded by the silly cry of 'abolitionists?' — is 
this not becoming not only ridiculous, but contemptible? 
Can you not see that many base demagogues have been 
crying out wolf, whilst they were playing the traitors to 
their party and the country for personal elevation? Is 
it not time that some sense of returning justice should 
revive in your bosoms, and that you should cease to de- 
nounce those who in defeat do not forget their integrity, 
and who, though fallen, do not despair of the Republic?" 

Another Kentucky writer says, that the free blacks of 
Kentucky are such a set of miserable, degraded, thievish 
beings, that he believes the people of Kentucky never will 
consent to the manumission of slaves unless they are sent 
out of the country. He also says of the abolitionists: 
"They should let lis alone. They don't know how to light 
this battle, and I fear they don't care whom they strike 
in their blind thrusts. On the other hand, the advocates 
of perpetual slavery, are full of unnecessary fear, as all 
the efforts of the abolitionists are in their favor." 

As I have heretofore premised, that however beneficial 
and advantageous the system of slavery was to the slaves 
themselves, it was a curse to the whites; I wish to call 
a few witnesses upon this point. First, however, I wish 
to give a few statistical facts. 



306 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

It may probably be estimated that there are now on 
the continent and islands of America, near ten millions 
of the descendants of the African race, including those of 
mixed blood in which the negro predominates, viz : 

In the United States, 3,500,000 

British Colonies, 900,000 

Hayti, 700,000 

Spanish, French, &c., West Indies, 1,200,000 

The free States of South America, which 

were formerly Spanish Colonies, 1,000,000 

Making 9,800,000 ; of whom between 5 and 6,000,000 are 
now in a state of slavery. 

The ultimate destiny of this mass of human beings, is 
a matter of deep concern to the civilized world. 

Hayti is the only region where they have attempted 
self-government, and the evident retrograde movement of 
that community from civilization toward their native 
state of barbarism, is such as to hold out no hope to the 
philanthropist, who would desire to see this vast number 
of the colored race living in a state of independence, civ- 
ilization and happiness, unconnected with the whites. 

This shows an alarming and rapid increase of slaves 
in the United States since the formation of the Union. 
And at the same ratio of increase for the next fifty years, 
which we have witnessed for the past fifty, will give to 
the country a slave population of 9,000,000, which will be 
an increase of over 8,000,000 in a century. With these 
facts and figures before them, it does not surprise me 
that southern statesmen should be so anxious to obtain 
an outlet for the surplus into Texas. Even now, it is 
evident that slave labor is unprofitable in most of the 
States of the Union, because of the quantity of the prod- 
ucts of the planting States annually produced beyond the 
demand for them. Hence the call for conventions of 
planters, to agree to prohibit by force the production of 
an over-supply of cotton, as by the present prices they 
cannot live — that is in the style of luxury to which they 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1849 307 

have long been accustomed. All are sensible of the over- 
supply of cotton ; but who ever thinks of the over supply 
of negroes. Many planters in Mississippi assured me 
that they did not make five per cent, upon their capital, 
and I assure you that their land is deteriorating in value 
more than five per cent, per annum. 

Flight Through Connecticut, Continued. 

[New York American Agriculturist, 8:346-47; Nov., 1849] 

[October 2, 1849] 

Yankee Farming. — After leaving the neighborhood of 
the "Old-Pond Meadow," I went on towards Boston. Now 
there are a great many other farms in Connecticut and 
Massachusetts, that have valuable tracts upon them, just 
as badly cultivated, or rather neglected, as the one de- 
scribed at page 321 of the last number of the Agricul- 
turist. Orchards are to be seen all along the road, that 
look as though they have neither been pruned nor ma- 
nured since "the year one." 

There is around some of the old farm houses of New 
England, a peculiar look that is to be seen no where else. 
The house, a large square fabric, with a great stone chim- 
ney in the centre of the gambrel roof, standing upon one 
side of the road and close to it, at that, with an ancient 
mound, the debris of long-gone wood piles, immediately 
in front ; and right opposite, stands the barn, with a fine 
display, along the fence adjoining, of old carts, wagons, 
sleds, harrows, plows, and stone drags, while there is 
abundant evidence, in the shape of droppings, to show 
that the cows have nightly possession of the road be- 
tween. 

Upon the right hand of the house, is the old orchard, 
fenced with a post and rail stone wall, richly ornamented 
with elder and poke berry, together with a stock of run- 
ning blackberry vines. In the corner next the house and 
road, and not any too far from where the family eat and 
sleep, is the old hog pen, with a door open to the road, 



308 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

so as to give the occupants an opportunity to rusticate 
among the thrifty, well-manured crop of "Jymsen weed," 
(stramonium), that fills the lane to the right and left, 
affording a fine shade for the old sow and pigs. On the 
other side of the house, about half an acre of ground is 
enclosed by a very ancient picket fence, which bears the 
name of "the garden." Upon the south side, I suppose 
with a view to give the vegetables a due portion of shade, 
stand three enormous pear trees, that never suffered 
from the pruning knife, nor from an overload of fruit. 
Upon the east side of this garden, a row of very tall 
quince trees effectually prevents the morning sun from 
sending his rays into this sacred enclosure to interfere 
with those plants that grow best in the shade. The other 
two sides are ornamented with two thrifty rows of cur- 
rant bushes, the rusty stalks of which bear evidence of 
long occupation of the same ground. The centre is filled 
up with pumpkin, squash, melon, cucumber, and gourd 
vines, so arranged as to promote mixture, and perhaps 
ensure some new and valueless variety, together with a 
fine show of pole beans, sunflowers, and well-dried pea 
brush. 

I like to have forgotten to mention that the old well, 
with its crotch, swape, pole, and old oaken bucket, forms 
a part of the line of fence in front of the door and about 
twenty feet from it, with a very nice place for the pigs 
outside, and ducks inside, to rusticate, or rather "mudi- 
cate." 

A very useful little building, about a house, stands a 
little back and near the garden gate, naked and una- 
dorned, with its door standing wide open, and fronting 
the road — as much as to say, there is no privacy about 
this place. There is a little interesting spot, also, upon 
the back side of the house, where a little brook meanders 
away from the sink spout, down past the lye leach, 
through the goose pond, into the pig-weed patch behind 
the garden; but for fear of the cholera, I won't go to 
look at that. 







•— , 00 

o - 






o 

Q 
M 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1849 309 

If you please, reader, we will go out where the boys 
are plowing. That land, to my certain knowledge, has 
been plowed for forty years, and never yet felt the share 
six inches below the surface, because the owner feared 
to turn up the "poor yaller dirt" and spoil the land. It 
is to be sown with rye this fall, and preparatory thereto, 
that fine crop of mullens is now being turned in. It can- 
not be manured, because there is only enough manure 
made upon the place to about half manure the few acres 
of corn, that must be planted each year. 

Do you ask why the owner does not purchase guano, 
to give this poor old field a start, and enable him to raise 
a crop of straw and grass, so that he would be able after- 
wards to furnish its own manure? It is easily answered. 
He never heard of the article; and besides, if he had 
and should use it, that would subject him to the ridicule 
of the whole neighborhood. So he will sow three pecks 
of rye and gather nine, or, perchance, twelve pecks to the 
acre. 

Next year, after the rye is harvested, the hogs, geese, 
and sheep will be turned in to gather up every scattered 
grain and nip off every shoot and green weed, and the 
spring after, it will be plowed once, just as deep as at 
present, and planted with corn, with about half a shovel 
full of dirt, dignified with the name of manure, to each 
hill. After the corn is gathered, the field will be again 
pastured, and the spring following, it will be sown in 
oats, and the crop will be such a one as any reasonable 
man might expect from just such a course. 

The next season, the field will lie fallow, as it has this 
year, and will produce a similar crop of mullens, and 
five-finger vines. 

That "pastur," just over the fence, was once cultivated 
in just the same manner as the above. It is resting now. 
See what a luxuriant crop of white birches. They are 
very ornamental to the landscape. It is true, the grass is 
not quite so plenty and sweet, but then you see the shade 
is perfect. That is a very nice little brook that meanders 



310 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

through the pasture, and always affords water, because 
it is fed by springs, and that "swale" would give a valu- 
able crop of grass if it were ditched ; but as it is not, it 
affords a most luxuriant growth of alders, and these 
serve as a nice shade for the trout. It would be a pity 
to disturb them. 

Here is a stone wall. It stands in the place of a fence. 
Be a little careful about climbing it, as it was built upon 
a new principle. Having been told that rails would make 
good ties, or binders, in a cobble-stone wall, the builder 
put them in lengthwise instead of going into the wasteful 
practice of cutting them up and putting them across, and 
the consequence is that an occasional broadside caves 
away. 

Ah! what have we in this field? Ton my word it is 
buckwheat. Let us put on our spectacles and take a 
good look at it. It is very small, certainly, but is as good 
as could be expected from such a specimen of "Yankee 
Farming!!" 

In the next number of the Agriculturist, I will give a 
reverse of the picture. 

New York, Oct. 2d, 1849. SOLON Robinson. 

Mr. Robinson's Tour. — No. 12. 

[October 6, 1849^] 

A Flight Through Massachusetts. 

[New York American Agriculturist, 8:372-73; Dec, 1849] 

[October 25, 1849] 

Yankee Farming, Continued. — The Contrast. — I will 
now take the residence of Mr. E. R. Mudge,^ at Swamscot 

' This article, written October 6, 1849, at New York, but covering 
the events of May 9, 1849, is printed ante, 219 ff. 

^ Enoch Redington Mudge, merchant and farmer. Born in Orring- 
ton, Maine, March 22, 1812. Left home at fifteen. As the result of 
land speculations, failed in 1835 to the amount of twenty thousand 
dollars. Managed the Astor House, New York, for four years. 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1849 311 

Beach, in Ljmn, Massachusetts, as a contrast to those 
described in my two former articles ;^ because it is a good 
specimen of what can be done on a very rough spot, and 
because I like to show the public what an enlightened and 
enterprising man, imbued with the spirit of agricultural 
improvement, can accomplish by spending his money in 
a rational way. That the reader may not think me in- 
vidious, however, in my selections, I will here state that 
there are a great many improvements annually effected 
in all the New-England states, and not a few gentlemen 
there have done, and are still doing, as much, perhaps, 
as Mr. Mudge; but in my hasty flight, I could not take 
time to visit them ; and as I only speak of things seen, I 
must defer notices of others, until, with the spring birds, 
I may return from the south and trim my wings again 
for another flight through my old native state. 

Mr. Mudge is better knowTi as proprietor of the Veran- 
dah Hotel, New Orleans, which is one of the best in 
America, than as a Yankee farmer, spending his winters 
there and summers here. His farm consists of 120 acres, 
and is mostly of that character which the Indian de- 
scribed as his farm — "all long and no wide, and run 
deviling up among the rocks;" just such land and rocks 
as are to be seen in New England, and nowhere else, with 
the old stone walls, and ancient apple trees, with here 
and there a little "meadow," on arable spots. 

Mr. M. paid $4000 for the place some four or five years 
ago, and now, in consequence of the improvements, not 
alone of the soil, but because the improvements have 
added to the value of the neighborhood, the same land 
would sell for five times as much as he paid for it. One 
of his first acts was to build a residence, which is neat, 
substantial, convenient, roomy, and in every way com- 

Opened St, Charles Hotel in New Orleans in 1840. Returned to 
New York in 1845. Built the Saratoga Victory Cotton Mills thirty 
miles from Cohoes, New York, in 1846. Member of Massachusetts 
senate, 1866-1867. Appletons' Cyclopasdia of American Biography, 
4:452 (1888). 



' Printed ante, 247 ff . and 307 ff . 



312 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

fortable, without having the appearance of a castle, or 
any unnecessary extravagance. And the "stone cottage" 
is all this, at least. It is built of rough granite, in dia- 
mond blocks, one story high, but from its size, 52 feet 
square, it affords ample lodging rooms up stairs. It is 
finished, and furnished richly, yet as plain as neatness 
could imagine. In front, lies a broad, smooth, grassy 
lawn, beautifully ornamented with a great variety of 
trees and shrubs, with ornamental cuts for flowers in 
the sod, the whole forming a lovely, shaded retreat, al- 
most hidden amidst a cluster of native trees, which stands 
like an island in the grassy slope that reaches from the 
front door down to the road. South of the house, sur- 
rounded by a rustic fence, is an extensive flower garden, 
arranged in the neatest order ; and in the rear, not too far 
distant for convenience, though well screened by shrub- 
bery, stand the very neat and commodious stable, car- 
riage house, and out-buildings. A little further on, to- 
wards the "farm house," the passer will notice a sweet 
little cot, quite an ornamental gem. This was built by 
Mr. M. for the home of a couple of servants, man and 
wife, which he brought from the south, and who are now 
serving him for wages, instead of for life. 

Many of the trees seen around here have the appear- 
ance, both in size and vigor, of having stood in the same 
place since they first sprouted from the acorn, or the 
winged messenger of reproduction from the maple, as 
well as many other native American trees, that now 
adorn and beautify a spot, that, only five years ago, was 
as bare and unsightly as any other old rocky pasture in 
the state. 

Moving Forest Trees. — This, Mr. Mudge had never 
seen done; but the Yankee character is sufficient for all 
emergencies. He first went to the woods, about five 
miles off, and selected his trees, some of them eight or 
ten inches through, and dug a trench around, leaving 
a good mass of roots and earth to the trunk. This was 
done in the fall. As soon as the earth was frozen, so as 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1849 313 

to hold together, each tree was ready to be moved. He 
then took a pair of timber wheels, the tongue of which 
was hitched behind a wagon ; and when backed up to the 
tree that was to be moved, the tongue was loosened and 
turned up into the tree top, and firmly lashed; and the 
trunk of the tree was bound to the axle, taking care to 
protect against bruising. The tongue was next hauled 
down and fastened, and the roots elevated, by this easy 
process, clear of the ground. When the place was reached 
where the tree was required to flourish, the wheels were 
backed up to the hole, which was previously dug, the 
fastenings cast off, and the whole tree allowed to settle 
in the position it was required to grow. 

Protecting and Keeping Roots Moist. — I was struck 
with the manner that this was done effectually, while it 
added much to the looks of the work. After the ground 
is well smoothed off and made firm, a coat of coarse hay, 
or straw, several inches thick, is spread over the surface, 
and some small poles laid on so as to radiate evenly from 
the trunk; then other poles are bent around to form a 
rim, like a wheel, and all fastened down by wooden hooks. 
This, besides being of great advantage to the tree, rather 
adds variety to its appearance, instead of marring it by 
a view of the naked earth at its base. 

Other Improvements. — The front fence is a solid wall 
of granite, which I much prefer to iron, where stone is 
abundant, and needs to be got rid of, or appropriated in 
some other way. Mr. M. has expended some $16,000 in 
his house and grounds, but it is one of those common- 
sense improvements that will always command a return 
when required ; and it is certainly a much more rational 
way for a gentleman to expend his money, in providing, 
as he has done for a lovely family, a lovely home, than it 
is to hoard it up, and spend a life of discomfort in an 
uncomfortable house, or mewed up in close quarters in 
some brick and mortar street. 

I cannot close without adding a due meed of praise to 
Mr. Mudge, for another expenditure which he has made 



314 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

at Swampscot, for the benefit of the large settlement of 
fishermen there. With the assistance of a few other gen- 
tlemen, whom he roused to action, a beautiful little 
church has been erected, whither he and his excellent 
wife go every Sabbath, with their children, to attend a 
Sunday school ; thus giving his personal influence, as well 
as the influence of wealth, to improve the condition of 
his fellow men. May his days be long and happy. 

Solon Robinson. 
Neiu York, Oct. 25th, 1849. 

Benefit of Railroads to Agriculture. 

[New York American Agriculturist, 9:58-59; Feb. 1850] 

[October 27, 1849] 

The Neiv-York and Erie Railroad. — Twenty-five years 
ago, I left the city of New York to visit Binghamton. 
Eight hours upon a steamboat of those days carried me to 
Newburgh. Four days and nights, long, tedious toil in 
a post coach, over that region of mud and mountains, 
hills and hollows, and through vast, uncultivated forests, 
opened to our sleepy senses the valley of the Susque- 
hanna, rich in its native pines, and covered with a fer- 
tile, uncultivated soil — for it had no market for the farm- 
er's produce — no outlet for a surplus, except down the 
long and dangerous voyage of a lumberman's raft to the 
far, far away port of Baltimore. 

How the throng at Binghamton, gaped, open-mouthed, 
around "the man from York," to hear his news "in ad- 
vance of the mail," only four days old. Whoever then 
thought of things to come? Who, dreaming, would have 
dared tell his dream, that within less than a quarter of 
a century, a locomotive should be seen thundering 
through the little quiet village of Binghamton, with 
thirty burthened cars, carrying 300 tons of freight; and 
that this would come from New York, up and along the 
Delaware, and over the intervening mountains, down into 
this valley? Who then would have believed "the man 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1849 315 

from York," if he had told the quiet villagers that after 
twenty-five years he should visit them again; that he 
would then take his breakfast in New-York City, and his 
supper in Binghamton? That the might and power of 
man; that the persevering energy of the Yankee, would 
say to the granite hills — give way, and to the iron-bound 
points of rocks, a hundred feet high along the Delaware, 
we must pass; and that the hills should sink down, and 
rocks of ages, grown grey in their strength, should yield 
to the iron will of man, to make an iron road through 
these hitherto impassable mountain fortresses. 

No one would have believed the wild dreamer. But all 
this has been done. Who can realise it? The New- 
Yorker reads of the New- York and Erie Railroad ; little 
he knows of what its projectors and builders have ac- 
complished. The city lady rejoices that now she can sip 
pure milk, fresh from the mountain pastures of Orange 
county; but how little she realises what a mountain- 
moving power has been exerted to make a path to bring 
this sweet luxury daily to her door. Let them go with 
me along this mountain route, and be gladdened at the 
sight of its beauties, and filled with surprise at its won- 
ders, while they equally admire the works of nature and 
art. 

Through the politeness of Mr. Loder,^ president of the 
company, I received a free pass to enable me to go over 
and examine the agricultural capabilities of the region 
through which the road has been made. How can I de- 
scribe and journey through a region, and along such a 
road as this, and not have it appear tame and uninterest- 

' Benjamin Loder, born 1801 at South Salem, Westchester County, 
New York; died 1876. After accumulating a fortune in the dry- 
goods business in New York City, retired at the age of forty-three, 
and transferred his activities to the New York and Erie Railroad 
Company. As its president, 1845-1853, he guided it successfully 
through a difficult financial situation. This feat accomplished, he 
again retired from business and lived quietly until his death. Letter 
from the Public Records Section, Archives and History Division, 
University of the State of New York, Albany, to Herbert A. Kellar, 
May 11, 1936. 



316 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

ing, particularly to one who has ever been whirled along 
with the power of steam through the valley of the Dela- 
ware? We leave the city, foot of Duane street, at seven 
in the morning, on board of one of the company's excel- 
lent boats, and directly after we are called down to a 
breakfast, ready for all that have not taken an earlier 
one at home. In two hours we are landed upon the al- 
most mile-long wharf at Piermont, twenty-five miles up 
the Hudson. This is the first wonder. It must have cost 
nearly a million of dollars. Whether judiciously ex- 
pended or not, I will not discuss. Here it is, and will 
remain an enduring monument to point to every passen- 
ger upon the river, the easterly terminus of this great 
road. It is very spacious, and brings the cars close down 
to the boat. 

The rails are of the W pattern, and very heavy; laid 
upon cross ties, and being six feet apart, give us very 
roomy cars; in fact, the best in this country. Now we 
begin to climb over the mountain barriers between the 
Hudson and Delaware; up through the rugged Ramapo 
Valley, winding along the Orange-county farms; noting 
at every station the rows of milk cans, and baskets of 
garden vegetables, ready for the "market train," until 
we come to that once old inland town, (now inland no 
longer,) of Goshen, fixed in my youthful memory as the 
home of the old "butter hills," of a bank whose capital, 
if not butter itself, was the product of it. At Port 
Jervis, we come down upon the Delaware, a moderate 
mill stream; seventy-seven miles from the Hudson, and 
thence along the river bank as much further, crossing it 
twice, through the v/ildest region that ever reverberated 
the startling scream of the locomotive whistle. At one 
point, the train is suspended, as it were, and it actually 
appears, when seen from below, as if upon a narrow shelf 
excavated out of the perpendicular face of the mountain, 
where the very thought of a tumble is enough to make a 
sensitive man's bones ache. What now shall be done to 
make these pine-denuded hills productive, is a question 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1849 317 

that ought at once to be discussed ? Why not cover them 
with grass and sheep, and send to New York the finest 
mountain mutton in the world, by every nightly train 
upon the road. 

Leaving the Delaware, at a wide-spread, scattering vil- 
lage on its banks, once a great lumber-trading town, 
called Deposit, now just emerging into an agricultural 
place of trade and forwarding, we climb up the summit 
grade, nearly 60 feet to the mile, and over about 20 miles 
to the Susquehanna at Lanesborough ; crossing in the 
way the Cascade Bridge, a wooden structure, 270 feet 
long, and 175 feet high ; yet, as firm and unshaking as a 
rock. 

Two or three miles further on, and we are upon one of 
the noblest structures of this wonder-working age. The 
valley of the Starucco, a wild, raging mountain stream, 
where the deep snows send down their floods, is spanned 
by a solid, stone bridge, 1,400 feet long, and 100 feet 
high, built upon seventeen arches, and in such a perfect 
manner, that generations shall come and go, and yet that 
monument of man's power to do good, shall tell to after 
ages the story of this great road. Still further along, 
upon another bridge, we almost pass over the top of the 
town. It would be an easy trick for old Santa Glaus to 
take a flying leap from the cars into the chimney top of 
some of the Lanesboreans. 

Now we are in the rich and lovely valley of the Susque- 
hanna, and at seven o'clock, only twelve hours from New- 
York City, we alight at Binghamton, 227 miles from 
thence. It is not the little village of twenty-five years 
ago, far away in the interior of the state, and almost 
unapproachable, but a flourishing, lovely town ; a suburb 
almost of the great emporium. What a change has the 
realisation of that wild dream accomplished for the val- 
ley. Agricultural products, which formerly were not 
worth cultivating for want of a market, now find ready 
sales and daily transit to an all-absorbing market. Only 
think of shipping frame houses to San Francisco from 



318 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

this place over the Erie Railroad! Ah! and think too 
what is very likely to be the case a few years hence! 
Beef and mutton will not only be fatted upon these rich 
lands, but the slaughter houses of the city will be here 
also, and the animals killed, as they always should be, 
where they are fed; when the facilities are as good for 
sending the meat to market, that if butchered in the after- 
noon, and hung up in cars constructed on purpose, with 
wire gauze windows, it would be in market next morn- 
ing in fine order, and far better than when the poor 
beasts are driven or transported alive. It appears to 
me to be one of the grossest pieces of folly, in our time, 
to continue to butcher animals within the city. Look at 
the amount of offal to be carried out again. The hides, 
too, are sent back over the same route to the tanner. 

But I am off the track. Yet these things are all so 
intimately blended with the railroad that I can but speak 
of them. The road is now completed 260 miles, to El- 
mira, and in a few weeks a branch will be completed 
from there to Seneca Lake, and a large and good steam- 
boat running all the year, (that lake never freezes,) to 
Geneva. Another branch is nearly ready between Owego 
and Ithaca — 29 miles — and through Cayuga Lake, thus 
uniting, by either of these routes, with the northern rail- 
roads. Even now the amount of travel upon the road is 
enormous, but when the branches are open, it will be 
greatly increased ; and when it is finally terminated upon 
Lake Erie, it will exceed any other work, perhaps, in the 
world, in the magnificent manner it is constructed, and 
in its continual length and incalculable business. It is 
worth a journey of a thousand miles in addition, to wit- 
ness the surprisingly beautiful scenery of the country 
through which this road passes. 

I visited several farms in the Susquehanna Valley, of 
which I shall speak hereafter. Solon Robinson. 

Netv York, October 21th, 1849. 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1849 319 

Mr. Robinson's Tour. — No. 12 [13]. 

[November 7, 1849^] 

The Traveller. — No. 1. 

[New York American Agriculturist, 9:107-8; Apr., 1850] 

[November ?, 1849] 

Under this head, I propose to give a variety of little 
items, picked up upon my travels through the United 
States. 

First, then, I left New York, November 8th, 1849, on 
the "Frankfort," a large, noble steamer, employed in the 
immense freighting business between New York and 
Philadelphia, by the railroad from South Amboy, which 
landed my carriage and horses at that place in two hours, 
against a heavy wind and tide. How different was the 
passage over this 30 miles of water 20 years ago. The 
village here has been built for the accommodation of men 
engaged upon the railroad. On the hill above, is the 
summer residence of Mr. John C. Stevens,- where he 
has about 70 acres of land, which he has transformed 
from barren sands to fruitful fields; an example that 
might well be followed by a good many others in New 
Jersey. 

American Pottery. — A mile further along the shore, is 
the pottery of Mr. Cadmus,^ where every variety of 
crockery known as "cane-colored ware," is manufactured 

* This article, written November 7, at New York, but covering 
Robinson's travels of May 13, 1849, and following, is printed ante, 
223 ff. 

' John C. Stevens, born Hoboken, New Jersey, September 24, 1785; 
died June 13, 1857. Son of John Stevens, pioneer railroad builder. 
Founder of New York Yacht Club, 1845. Owner of the yacht 
"America" which won the international cup, 1851. Lee, Francis B., 
New Jersey as a Colony and as a State, 3:132 (New York, 1902). 

' Probably Cornelius Cadmus, born in Bloomfield, New Jersey, in 
1805; died at Fowlerville, Michigan. See sketch of the Cadmus 
family in Biographical and Genealogical History of the City of 
Newark and Essex County, New Jersey, 234-36 (New York and 
Chicago, 1898). 



320 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

in a very neat style, from clay found in the immediate 
vicinity. I noticed among many other handsome articles, 
some spittoons, ornamented with vines and bunches of 
grapes, in raised work. These might be called parlor 
ornaments, provided they were not defiled with tobacco 
spittle. Designs of agricultural products or implements, 
would make far more sensible ornaments for such ware, 
than the miserable, unmeaning daubs often seen upon 
articles of every-day use in farm houses. 

Potter's Clay. — About two miles along the shore from 
the railroad wharf, is one of the most valuable and long- 
est-worked clay banks in the country, formerly owned by 
the late Gen. Morgan,^ and now by his son. Col. Charles 
Morgan, who also has a well-improved farm of rich soil, 
part of which was once blowing sand. The fertility of 
Col. Morgan's place has been brought to its present state 
by salt-marsh mud, and leached ashes; the latter ob- 
tained from Burlington, Vermont, in vessels that came 
for clay, which is also taken to points along both the 
Northern, and Erie Canal, and eastward as far as Maine. 
The price of the clay at the pits, is about ten cents a 
bushel, delivered on board vessels. Some 30 men, and 
several ox and mule teams, are constantly employed. The 
deposit, where the pit is now open, is 30 feet thick, with 
a superincumbent mass of sand of equal thickness. The 
earth is removed in railroad cars and tipped into the 
water, and carried off by the surf. The pits are then dug 
down some 40 feet square, and the clay hoisted out in a 
tub by a mule, and carried off in carts and deposited in 
heaps, from whence it is again taken in ox carts along 
side of vessels at low water. Many acres have thus been 
dug over, and an almost inconceivable quantity of clay 
taken out; and the demand is still increasing. 

Leached Ashes, used by Col. Morgan, as a fertiliser, 
cost 121/2 cts. a bushel. Would not guano be cheaper? I 

'James Morgan, born Amboy, New Jersey, December 29, 1756; 
died in South Amboy, November 11, 1822. Congressman, 1811-1813. 
Engaged in agricultural pursuits. Major general of state militia. 
Biographical Directory of the American Congress, 1333. 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1840 321 

think it would. Col, M. has embanked and ditched 150 
acres of salt marsh, which he intends to plow and plant 
next year. Part of his land is so full of shells, from the 
remains of Indian oystering, as to be unproductive. 
What application is best for this land? [Cart away the 
shells from the surface, and spread them on land where 
shells do not exist; and cart back earth and vegetable 
matter to the place from which the shells were taken 
away. By this means, a rich soil will be obtained in both 
situations. — Eds.] It is sandy and gravelly. I have rec- 
ommended clay and muck. Here there are some very 
large, old apple trees; and down by the creek, there is 
a dwelling house, which carries one's mind back to the 
days when the Indian hunted wild game in the hills 
around, and white men little dreamed of locomotives and 
steamboats, and cast-iron plows. It is upwards of a cen- 
tury old. 

Plum Trees, when attacked by the black-wart blight. 
Col. M. cuts off, and engrafts upon the stumps apricots 
or peaches, which grow well. There is a very large salt 
marsh upon the same stream where Col. M. has reclaimed 
his, that is worth about $4 an acre, which, if reclaimed at 
a cost of not more, probably, than $25 an acre, would 
then be worth $100. 

Planting Oysters. — This is carried on in this vicinity 
to a greater extent than planting corn. It is all very 
well, but did any body ever grow rich at it? [Yes. It is 
a very profitable business in this vicinity. — Eds.] Oys- 
ters are brought here to fatten, from Virginia and Mary- 
land. From South Amboy, along the old turnpike to 
Spotswood, ten miles, the land is very sandy, and covered 
with a scanty growth of wood, with few inhabitants. 

Use of Lime in Jersey.— The farm of Peter C. Stryker 
is worthy of notice, as a good illustration of what lime 
has done in only two years, towards renovating a worn- 
out tract of sandy land, by which it is made to produce 
luxuriant clover and very handsome wheat, where the 
former owner scarcely made hay and straw enough to 



322 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

feed a small stock, but where now more hay than is 
needed has been made the last year. Of course, manure 
is not neglected. Mr S. has only 150 acres; yet thinks 
he has about twice as much as he ought to own, to culti- 
vate profitably. 

The Norman Horses. — Mr. Stryker thinks the kind in- 
troduced by Mr. Edmund Harris,^ of this state, are the 
best farm horses ever brought into the country. 

I observe with pleasure, that the people at Spotswood 
are so far advanced in civilisation as to exclude swine 
from the privilege, long enjoyed by the family, of running 
in the streets, and consequently obliging everybody to pay 
a double portion of the enormous fence tax of the United 
States. Well, we all learn wisdom by slow degrees. 

Visit to James Buckeleiv.^ — Nov. 12th, I spent with 
one of the most remarkable men in New Jersey — one who 
is more worthy of honor than Gen. Scott, Gen. Taylor, 
Henry Clay, or Daniel Webster, because, as a farmer, he 
has done more good than they have, as warriors and 
politicians. James Buckelew, of Middlesex Co., his na- 
tive place, well known throughout the state as one of the 
most enterprising men of business and wealth, is also 
one of the best farmers in New Jersey. Although not yet 
50 years old, he has made all his wealth by his own indus- 
try, and the management of those he has employed to 
labor, and probably has cleared up and improved, or ren- 
ovated, more worn-out land than any other man in the 

' Edward Harris, Moorestown, New Jersey, introduced the Nor- 
man horse into this country and advocated its breeding for farm 
in the A7nerican Farmer, 4th series, 1:151 (November, 1845), taken 
purposes. A picture and description of one of these horses is given 
from the Farmers' Cabinet, 6:282-83 (April, 1842). 

' James Buckelew, Jamesburg, New Jersey. Diversified his crops 
and specialized as an orchardist, having thirty thousand trees. For 
a description of his farming operations, see American Agricultur- 
ist, 9:333-34 (November, 1850) and 10:16, 29 (January, 1851). 
First president of the Jamesburg Agricultural Society, formed 
April 27, 1853, and of the Middlesex County Agricultural Society, 
formed November 11, 1856. Woodward, Carl R., The Development 
of Agriculture in New Jersey, 1640-1880 . . . , 190-91 (New 
Brunswick, 1927). 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1849 323 

state. He ovC^ns, where he now lives, about 1,200 acres 
of land, the greater part of which, when he commenced 
there, seventeen years ago, was no better than thousands 
of acres of Jersey sands now are. But now, his immense 
barns and stacks of hay and grain are standing witnesses 
of the fertility of his improved soil. 

To hnprove an Old Pine Field. — After cutting off the 
timber, he burns it over and plows and then sows 40 
bushels of lime and harrows it in, and sows rye, and per- 
haps clover. After the rye comes off, puts on a dressing 
of swamp muck in some instances 60 to 80 loads to the 
acre, of which he has a great quantity, and which pro- 
duces a most marked effect upon all crops. He has also 
used the Squonkum, (green-sand,) marl, with the great- 
est benefit. It is applied at the rate of 100 to 500 bushels 
to the acre as a top-dressing upon grass or grain. It costs 
five cents a bushel at Freehold, and has to be hauled 10 
or 12 miles, and yet is found to be a profitable applica- 
tion, even at the largest quantity. 

Mr. Buckelew, is a very large owner of mules, keeping 
from 250 to 300 in use, mostly in towing upon the Dela- 
ware and Raritan Canal, though most of his farm teams 
are mules, and of excellent quality. A wagon for hauling 
off corn is coupled 20 feet apart, with two stout poles 
upon the axles, upon which the stalks are piled cross- 
wise and ride thus in pretty large loads from the field 
to the barn. 

A new threshing barn, with machine to go by water, 
has just been built by Mr. B., 40 by 60 feet, with 34-foot 
posts, and an underground room of same size, for storing 
roots and receiving the grain from the threshing ma- 
chine. Mr. B. also owns several other farms which he 
carries on by hired labor; and is improving in a high 
degree, by lime, marl, muck, manures, deep plowing, and 
draining. The effects that this man has produced not 
only upon his own land, but by his example upon all the 
country around, is well worthy of notice. 

All the land in this part of the state is comparatively 
level; that is, there are no hills, and the soil is mostly 



324 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

sandy — just the kind to be benefited most by manure 
and lime. 

Isaac Pullen,' nurseryman, thinks lime is injurious to 
peach trees, but that they are greatly benefited by ma- 
nure. They always do the best upon new land. 

Bonedust for Buckwheat, at the rate of two and a half 
bushels to the acre, Mr. P. says will beat any other ma- 
nure he ever saw used, of the same cost. If the season 
is good for growth of straw, three bushels will make it 
fall down. With an application of only two and a half 
bushels upon an acre of land, so very poor that it would 
not produce four bushels of corn to the acre, he got 40 
bushels of buckwheat. 

Sivamp-Muck Manure. — About four miles from Allen- 
town, I spent a night with Mr. Forman Hendrickson, 
from whom I learned something of the value of peat or 
swamp muck. Upon three acres, he put 35 big loads of 
muck and 50 bushels of unslacked lime, and made 25 
bushels of wheat to the acre. Some muck will do very 
well just as it is dug, and some must have lime mixed 
with it, or it is of little value. In one experiment, last 
summer, he saw no difference in his wheat crop between 
manure, guano, and muck; but upon the part manured 
with muck, the grass was much the best. His usual 
course is to dig and pile his muck and mix lime with it. 
His neighbor, Ezekiel Coombs, who is one of the most 
successful users of muck in the state, pursues this course : 
He bought a worn-out farm a few years ago upon credit, 
and by use of muck, has paid for it, besides erecting good 
buildings. The crops mentioned in the January number 
of the Agriculturist, of Mr. John L. Hendrickson,^ were 

^ Isaac Pullen, son of Francis and Effie (Breece) Pullen, passed 
his entii-e life in East Windsor Township, Mercer County. For a 
time followed the cooper's trade, ultimately abandoning it for the 
nursery business, in which he was one of the pioneers in New 
Jersey. At the time of his death was one of the most extensive 
nurserymen in the state. Served three times as a member of the 
state legislature. Married Jane Hewlett and had nine children. 
Lee, Francis B. (ed.), Genealogical and Personal Memorial of 
Mercer County, New Jersey (New York and Chicago, 1907). 

*See "Swamp Muck, or Peat, as a Fertilizer," 9:17. 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1849 325 

made upon a farm that had been rented and skinned for 
fifty years, but by the use of muck, he now gets one and 
a half to two tons of hay to the acre, and 30 bushels of 
wheat. 

To Drain Land where quicksand is troublesome, can be 
done by cutting two ditches above the main ditch, not 
quite deep enough to be affected by the quicksand, so as 
to inclose a triangular-shaped piece of ground, which 
serves to take off a portion of the water and relieve the 
pressure of sand into the main ditch. So says Mr. 
Thomas Hancock.^ His practice is to plow in all manure 
upon wheat ground and harrow in all guano, lime, and 
ashes. He never uses any top-dressing upon grass except 
marl. 

Rent of Land, at Camden N. J., is worth six dollars an 
acre, the renter finding his own manure to as great or 
greater amount, and yet cultivation is found profitable, 
owing to the convenience of Philadelphia markets, and 
the facility of reaching New York by railroad. In other 
parts of the United States, the fee simple forever, of far 
better land can be had for less money, which will produce 
more, without manure, and yet is not worth cultivating, 
for the very simple reason that the cultivator has no mar- 
ket for his surplus produce. Such land can only be made 
available by increased facilities of transportation. 
Strange that all farmers do not see the advantages of 
making good carriage roads, and the interest they have 
in railroads, plank roads, canals and navigable waters. 

Solon Robinson. 

'Thomas Hancock, son of Thomas and Martha (Deacon) Han- 
cock, born September 9, 1801 ; died 1854. Succeeded to his father's 
farm in Burlington Township, and in 1822, with his brother Benja- 
min, established the Ashton Nurseries which became widely known. 
Showed deep interest in advancement of agriculture and horticul- 
ture, and was a founder of the Burlington County Agricultural 
Society and a member of the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society. 
Imported blooded cattle. In 1842 became a director of the Mechan- 
ics' National Bank, Burlington. Woodward, E. M., and Hageman, 
John F., History of Burlington and Mercer Counties, New Jersey, 
167 (Philadelphia, 1883) ; The Plough, the Loom, and the Anvil, 
4:108 (August, 1851); Cultivator, n.s. 6:98 (March, 1849). 



326 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 
The Traveller. — No. 2. 

[New York American Agriculturist, 9:138; May, 1850] 

[November ?, 1849] 

From Philadelphia to Wilmington, the road lies along 
the Delaware, over a very different land from that on the 
Jersey side. There it is level and sandy; here hilly, 
rocky, and clayey. There the farm houses are mostly of 
wood, with a light, cheerful look; here they are mostly 
of stone, with a dark, gloomy exterior, and from inter- 
course with the inhabitants, one is constrained to think 
that they partake in some degree of the nature of their 
habitations. Most of the land along this road is used for 
grazing purposes, and every road-side inn is a cattle 
market. Many of the cattle fed here, first saw the light 
upon the grand prairie of Illinois, whence they travelled 
to the rich pastures of Northern Ohio, and from there to 
the sweet grass-clad hills of the Delaware, and will at 
last gladden the hearts of some of the hungry souls who 
buy their daily allowance of beef in the city markets. 

Average Crops near Wilmington — Fann of Wm. 
Webb.^ — Upon well-cultivated, richly-manured clay soil, 
corn, 70 bushels, wheat, 20, potatoes, 200 per acre. Ro- 
tation. Commence by turning under Timothy sod six 
inches deep in the fall, put on twenty two-horse-cart 
loads of manure in the spring, and plow in without turn- 
ing up the sod, and plant corn first of May. Plow in 
ridges in fall after the corn is off, and again in spring 
with forty single loads of manure, and plant in drills, 
fourteen bushels large potatoes, cut. After the potatoes 
are dug, haul off the vines for manure, plow, harrow, 
and sow 8 to 12 quarts of Timothy to the acre. Mow 
three years without grazing or manuring, and then plow 
and plant corn again. Mr. Webb finds this course more 

' William "Webb, of Woodland, near Wilmington, Delaware. Con- 
tributor to the Farmers' Cabinet and the agricultural reports of the 
Patent Office. Experimented with the manufacture of sugar from 
cornstalks. Annual Report of the Commissioner of Patents, 1842, 
pp. 67-75. 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1849 327 

profitable than sowing wheat, as upon land so highly 
manured, it makes too much straw, which falls down, 
and the profitable yield of grain is apt to fail. 

Mr. W. has enriched a poor, worn-out farm by the use 
of night soil, which he procures from Wilmington in 
large four-ox wagons, at one dollar a load, he finding 
team and wagon ; or as they are called, "barges." These 
are tilted and emptied into a cistern upon a side hill, 
where the contents are diluted and drawn off by a gate 
and sluice into carts, and spread upon fresh-flowed 
ground. His stock, crops, and profits, I have given in 
detail at page 146 of the current volume.^ 

Bought the farm, 100 acres, about a dozen years since, 
at $50 an acre. It is now worth $100 to $120. Hires 
one man by the year and one for eight months, and occa- 
sionally by the day. Usual wages $10 a month, and 50 
cents a day. Keeps two horses and works by exchange 
with his father, equivalent to three yoke of oxen. Keeps 
one good cow and one hog. Crops last year, 22 acres 
corn, 18 this year ; wheat 20 acres each year, but intends 
to quit sowing wheat; oats 21/2 acres last year and less 
this; mowing, 38 acres — hay sold in bulk. Intends to 
subsoil-plow the whole place. Limed once, 50 to 100 
bushels unslacked, to the acre. Cost, 12 to 14 cents a 
bushel, and two to three miles' hauling. Prefers ashes 
to lime; they cost 12 cents a bushel, as gathered from 
houses, or 8 cents for leached. Of course, this system of 
farming can only be carried on in the vicinity of large 
towns, or where an equivalent of manure can be returned 
to the land for crops carried off. 

Drilled Turnips. — No one can have an idea of the in- 

' Robinson listed the sales as follows: Hay, $716.35; corn, $557.13; 
wheat, $254; oats, $10; straw, $18.50, making a total of $1,555.98. 
Produce used at home was itemized as: 7 tons hay, market value, 
$84; 120 bushels corn, $66; 63 bushels wheat, $63; 50 bushels oats, 
$15; 40 bushels potatoes, $25; 20 bushels buckwheat, $14; apples 
and sundries, $25 ; summer feed for stock, $60, making a total of 
$352. The average annual expense of manuring and working the 
farm was put at $500. American Agriculturist (May, 1850). 



328 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

creased crop by drilling, until he has seen with his own 
eyes. This I saw well demonstrated upon the farm of 
Dr. Brown, a real working farmer, near Wilmington. 
Many bunches of six to eight grew so thick that the 
centre ones were lifted quite upon the top of others, the 
tap root only reaching the ground. 

Value of Swamp Muck on Grass. — Dr. B. used it as top- 
dressing for grass, and doubled the crop. Thinks it the 
most valuable application that can be given grass land 
at the same expense. Dr. B. is a Yankee farmer, though 
only lately engaged in the business, and understands the 
profit of manuring. He gets three crops of market vege- 
tables a-year, from a portion of the land. 

Hog Manure. — He thinks the manure that can be made 
by a pen of hogs, worth more than the pork, and that is 
worth 5 or 6 cents a pound. 

Price of Milk. — He keeps about a dozen cows and sells 
milk at 5 cents a quart, which is equal to butter at 75 
cents a pound. 

Ho2v to Make a Heifer a Good Cow. — C. P. Holcomb,* 
says, let a two-year-old heifer have a calf, and let a 
steady good milker draw the milk three times a-day, and 
try to distend the udder and it will do so and increase her 
capacity to secrete milk. Solon Robinson. 

' Chauncey P. Holcomb, born in Hartford, Connecticut. Went to 
Ohio and thence to Philadelphia where he practiced law. Moved 
to New Castle, Delaware; became deeply interested in husbandry, 
and exerted all his influence to improve ag^riculture in the state. 
Member of Agricultural Club of New Castle County. Contributed 
to agricultural periodicals. Exhibited at Maryland State Agricul- 
tural Society fair, 1850. Breeder of Devon cattle. Biographical 
and Genealogical History of the State of Delaware, 1:523-24 
(Chambersburg, Pa., 1899) ; American Agriculturist, 9:63 (Febru- 
ary, 1850); American Farmer, 4th series, 4:13-14 (July, 1848), 
7:138-39 (October, 1851); Boston Journal of Agriculture, 3:19-20 
(July, 1852). 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1849 329 

The Traveller. — No. 3. 

[New York American Agriculturist, 9:298-99; Oct., 1850] 

[November ?, 1849] 

Leaving Wilmington, Deleware, in a southerly direc- 
tion, we cross Christiana Creek, which is navigable for 
vessels of goodly size, some of which I noticed unloading 
lime here, and at the villages of Newport and Christiana, 
above, as within a few years the use of this great im- 
prover of the soil has become of vast importance to this 
state. The flats along this stream are broad, partially- 
reclaimed marshes, and esteemed very valuable. The face 
of the country, south of the creek, exhibits no rocks and 
hills of any magnitude, most of the land on the whole 
peninsula being less than 100 feet elevation above tide 
water, and much of it not a fourth of that. The largest 
part of the soil is sandy loam, originally fertile, easily 
cultivated, and easily worn out, which has been done in 
numerous instances most effectually, until some of the 
old proprietors, unable to live longer upon "the skinning 
system," have given place to men of more enlightened 
minds ; and now it may be said with truth that no county 
in the United States can show a larger proportion of good 
farms, nor a better and more improving system of agri- 
culture, nor a more enlightened community than New- 
Castle county. 

Hedges. — There is probably more land fenced with 
hedges, principally of New-Castle thorn, in this county, 
than any other in the United States. If kept well trimmed, 
at a great expense of labor, it certainly makes a very 
handsome fence, and against cattle and sheep, is some- 
what of a barrier. That is to say, if your stock is in a 
good clover field, such as abound there in great luxuri- 
ance, they will not go through the hedge unless they are 
a very mischievous breed. Major John Jones, ^ a very 

' John Jones of New Castle and Kent counties, Delaware. Promi- 
nent speaker at agricultural fairs and contributor to agricultural 
periodicals. Contributor of valuable statistics to the agricultural 
division of the Patent Office. Honorary member of the Cecil County 



330 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

shrewd farmer, says that "hedge is a good fence with 
five rails and posts upon one side, and five boards and 
posts, or a good ditch on the other, to keep the hogs and 
cattle off, until it gets grown, say five or six years, as 
browsing spoils the young plants. After that, you may 
take away the fence on the field side, if you are careful 
never to turn any stock into the field." To this extrava- 
gant notion of Major Jones must every impartial observer 
come at last ; for if the thorns are neglected a few years, 
they grow into a row of trees absolutely worthless, as a 
fence, and even with most careful trimming, they die and 
form gaps or thin spots, through which cattle push their 
way whenever they desire. As a fence against swine, 
nobody pretends it is good for anything. 

Devon Cattle. — One of the handsomest herds of this 
valuable breed of cattle in Delaware, or perhaps south of 
New York, is owned by Mr. C. P. Holcomb, whose farm is 
near New Castle, and is well worthy a visit from any one 
curious to see how much science and Intelligence has the 
advantage over mere bodily strength in the renovation of 
a worn-out soil. Mr. H. retired a few years ago, on 
account of bad health, from the Philadelphia bar, and 
purchased this farm, which long years of constant crop- 
ping and shallow plowing had so impoverished, that such 
a herd of cattle as now fatten upon these rich pastures, 
would then have starved to death. The principal source 
of fertility and improvement has been sought after in 
the soil, a few inches below where the former occupant 
had never looked. To this has been added lime, which 
has given the most luxuriant return of wheat, clover, 
Timothy, and Indian corn, until now, a stranger who 
views the crops, stock, barns, and general condition of 
the place, can hardly comprehend that a few years ago, it 

(Maryland) Agricultural Society, 1849. Member of the committee 
for Delaware at the pi-oposed fair of the National Agricultural 
Society, 1842. Biographical and Genealogical History of Delaware, 
2:1207; Nashville Agriculturist, 3:209 (1842); American Agricul- 
turist, 10:343 (November, 1851); American Farmer, 4th series, 
4:370 (May, 1849). 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1849 331 

was barely able to support a few scrub cattle and feed the 
laborers that were striving to glean a scanty support 
from the old impoverished fields. 

Major Holcomb gives the average of his cows during 
summer, at 16 quarts of milk a-day, and that averages 
one pound of butter. One cow averaged 22 quarts, which 
made two pounds of butter a-day for some weeks; but 
this indicates an unusual richness of milk, as well as 
large quantity. The common estimate of quantity of 
milk required upon a general average, among cows, to 
make a pound of butter, is 15 quarts ; but I am of opinion 
that 18 quarts would be nearer the truth. Major H. esti- 
mates his cows to average 5 quarts a-day through the 
year, which will give 114 pounds of butter per annum to 
the cow, although that is below the average of some 
herds. I believe it is much above the general average of 
the United States. 

Major H. has some working oxen so large and hand- 
some that they might be exhibited in some places fur- 
ther south, as natural curiosities ; and in comparison with 
the "piney-woods oxen," of North Carolina and some 
other states I could name, they would pass for a newly- 
discovered breed of horned elephants. He sells all his 
choice male calves for breeders, at moderate prices, and 
is thus disseminating the good qualities of this stock, and 
greatly benefitting his agricultural brethren, at the same 
time he is reaping his reward in a fair profit upon invest- 
ments and liberal expenditures in improvements of stock, 
crops, and soil. 

Major Holcomb raised 500 bushels of potatoes, upon 
two acres of clayey-loam soil, well manured and deep 
plowed; but does not consider it as an extraordinary 
crop, nor more than may be made upon any suitable soil, 
by a judicious system of cultivation. One man in the 
county made 500 bushels upon one acre. He dropped 
them in every furrow, one foot apart, and then covered 
the ground about a foot deep with straw. 

The manner of carrying on farming, adopted by Major 



332 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

Holcomb, obviates a common objection of city gentlemen 
against engaging in the business, on account of the in- 
convenience of having farm laborers around the mansion 
house. He hires a farmer and wife, who reside at the 
farm house, taking charge of the dairy and providing for 
all the laborers, without any other trouble to the pro- 
prietor than the general superintendence, which he gives 
the whole business. If it should be objected that this will 
consume all the profits, I will undertake to prove to the 
contrary by an exhibit that will shov/ a very handsome 
per centage gained upon the capital invested. 

Neat Farming. — This may be seen in high perfection, 
upon the farm of Mr. Jackson,^ one of Major Holcomb's 
nearest neighbors. Hedges, too, trimmed and kept with 
such care as he learned in his native English home to be 
necessary, may be seen upon this farm, and equal to any 
live one that I have ever seen, unless I except the Chero- 
kee-rose hedges of Mississippi. 

The beauty of the general appearance of this delightful 
farming neighborhood is very much blurred in conse- 
quence of the town of New Castle owning considerable 
tracts of land which lie wedged in among those of indi- 
viduals, and which are rented upon short leases, to those 
who can make the most out of them by the smallest out- 
lay of improvement. This American system of renting 
land only for one or two years, at a time, is one that must 
ever prevent tenants from improving, if it does not actu- 
ally ruin the soil. 

As these town lands cannot be sold, an enlightened 
policy would dictate that they should be let upon long 
leases, with such stipulations that they would not only 
become the most beautiful, but most productive farms in 
the state. 

' Bryan Jackson, emigrant from England to Delaware. Devel- 
oped his estate, said to be inferior to none in Delaware, entirely by 
his own efforts. Member of the agricultural club of New Castle 
County and active in its meetings. American Farmer, 4th series, 
4:13-14 (July, 1848); 7:138-39 (October, 1851); 7:430 (June, 
1852). 













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SOLON ROBINSON, 1849 333 

The Prince of Peach Groivers, as Major Reybold^ has 
been called, lives in this county. It is said that he and 
his family realised $30,000 in one year, from their exten- 
sive orchards. Certain it is that their industry, enter- 
prise, and improvements have added hundreds of thou- 
sands of dollars' value to the neighborhood, where they 
have bid the earth bring forth its fruits, whereby the 
tillers thereof have been enabled to build themselves luxu- 
riant mansions, and partake of such enjoyments of life as 
those who cultivate the soil are justly entitled. 

Neiv-Oxfordshire Sheep. — The most extensive and 
most superior flock of long-wooled sheep, perhaps, in this 
country, is owned by Mr. Clayton B. Reybold. He has 
fattened some wethers to weigh 300 pounds, and has 
often sheared fleeces of 10 or 12 pounds of clean wool, the 
quality of which is not, as is generally supposed, coarse 
and unfit for anything but blankets and carpets. There 
is very little difference beween Oxford, Lincolnshire, 
Cotswold, and other names of all the long-wooled family. 
The difference is in the breeding and care of flocks. This 
flock is well kept and bred with care and skill. 

Reclaiming Salt Marsh. — The Messrs. Reybold have 
made some attempts to reclaim the salt marshes along 
the Delaware, and have met with the same difficulty 
everywhere experienced ; that is, sinking of the soil after 

* Major Philip Reybold, first of this name to settle in Delaware, 
a practical and scientific farmer near New Castle. Connected for 
a time with the steamboat lines on the Delaware River, and owner 
of the steamer "Major Reybold," which plied between Philadelphia 
and Salem, New Jersey. Owned several farms in Kent County. 
With his son, Clayton B. Reybold, early began reclaiming marsh 
lands. Raised, exhibited, and sold fine long-wooled sheep. In 1846 
was succeeded by Clayton Reybold as owner of the Reybold flock. 
Philip Jr., Barney, and Anthony Reybold, sons of Major Philip, 
maintained extensive orchards and specialized in peach culture. 
See biographical sketch of his grandson, Clayton B. Reybold (born 
1847), in Biographical and Genealogical History of Delaware, 
1:261; Americayi Agriculturist, 9:326 (October, 1850) ; 10:18 (Jan- 
uary, 1851); American Farmer, 4th series, 1:337 (May, 1846); 
2:14 (July, 1846); 7:137-38 (October, 1851); The Plough, the 
Loom, and the Anvil, 3:586-87 (March, 1851). 



334 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

two or three years' cultivation, by which it is impossible 
to drain it without mechanical means. As this is a per- 
fectly natural effect, the same difficulty will occur. It is 
owing to the decay of the mass of fibrous roots that com- 
pose the marsh soil, and which remain entire and slowly 
growing so long as covered with water, but which decay 
and compact together as soon as the water is withdrawn. 
Many thousand dollars have been spent in draining 
marshes in the United States, which the owners were 
compelled to abandon after getting two or three crops. 
Wherever the value of such lands will warrant the use 
of a steam draining machine, it will be worth while to 
drain them. Until such time, they may be used for pas- 
ture and coarse hay, but still more profitable for the 
manuring of upland with the inexhaustible supply of 
swamp mud which they afford. 

The farm of the Hon. John M. Clayton^ is also in this 
county, on the railroad from New Castle to Frenchtown, 
and is most delightfully situated and neatly cultivated. 
May he be a happy Cincinnatus upon it. 

Solon Robinson. . 

A Plain Talk — Agricultural Resources of 
Lower Virginia. 

[Richmond Enquirer, December 21, 1849, from Norfolk Beacon] 

[December 18?, 1849] 

Who from the Northern or Eastern States would think 
of emigrating to this region, for the purpose of farming ? 
Yet, although a Western man, and pretty well acquainted 
with the richness of Western soil, I am free to say that 

' John Middleton Clayton, farmer, lawyer, statesman. Born at 
Dagsborough, Delaware, July 24, 1796; died at Dover, November 9, 
1856. Senator from Delaware, 1828-1836; chief justice of Dela- 
ware, 1836-1839. After Harrison's campaign, in which he took an 
active part, devoted his energies to scientific farming. Reelected 
Senator, 1845. Secretary of state in President Taylor's cabinet. 
Retired to his farm, said to be the most beautiful on the New Castle 
Railroad, in 1850. Raised fine peach trees. See sketch in Diction- 
ary of American Biography, 4:185-86. 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1849 335 

one might "go further and fare worse." And for a farmer 
to leave this part of the State, with a view to better his 
condition as a mere cultivator of the soil, shows to me 
that he is in great want of proper information of all that 
is necessary in a country to make it a desirable one for 
the emigrant. It is true that we have a surpassing rich 
soil in all the North Western States, but it is also true 
that some of the best farmers in the State of Illinois and 
Indiana, are fifty to an hundred miles from any market 
for grain, and the owners are at this moment engaged in 
hauling their crop that distance, over a muddy, (if not 
frozen,) road, while thousands of others, particularly in 
Missouri and Iowa, are entirely beyond the reach of any 
market. 

It is but a few years ago that wheat in the central 
counties of Indiana, was an unsaleable commodity at 
twenty-five cents a bushel, and I venture to say that I 
can now buy corn for half that sum in Indiana, Illinois 
and Missouri. The average price of wheat at Chicago, 
the greatest wheat market in the world for buying direct 
from the farmer, for the last ten years, will not exceed 
sixty cents a bushel, and the average distance that it is 
hauled in wagons will exceed thirty miles ; while the aver- 
age yield per acre, counting all that is sown or lost by 
blight or other disaster, will not exceed ten bushels per 
acre. 

But the Western soil, particularly the great prairie 
region and upon all the river bottoms, is incalculably fer- 
tile, and generally cheap ; at least the immense tracts of 
government land can be bought at a low price, and that 
is what induces emigration. As a Western man it may 
be said that I should encourage this. My writings for 
years will prove that I have not, i. e. indiscriminate emi- 
gi'ation. Why should I? I have no great interest to 
serve. I own no great tracts of land, and I am no aspirant 
for ofl^ce-seeking popularity. I have enjoyed the charac- 
ter of a philanthropist. I would maintain it. I would 
persuade men to be contented with their present homes, 



336 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

though not in their present condition. — No ! I would urge 
them to improve them. If their soil is not fertile, make 
it so. Lime, the great source from which fertility can be 
drawn to all the Virginia lands, is in inexhaustible abun- 
dance in your marl beds and oyster shells, or of easy 
attainment from the calcareous rocks of the north. Then 
there is Guano, the most concentrated manure in the 
world which can be procured in every city, and is certain 
to be fully paid for out of the first crop. Upon all your 
sea coast you have the cheapest of all manures in fish, 
sea weed and swamp muck. And you have even within 
twenty miles of Norfolk, natural soil, still covered with 
the original growth of timber, as rich as the far cele- 
brated bottoms of the Wabash. And even your light 
lands, such as most of those upon the Eastern Shore, can 
be easily made more profitably productive than the grand 
prairie, because you can cultivate two acres of that land 
with the same force that j^ou can one of stiff land, and by 
a judicious system of rotation of crops, provided one of 
them shall be grass or clover, you can keep the land for- 
ever productive. But above all other considerations, the 
lands of lower Virginia, throughout almost the whole 
extent, possess greater facilities for getting produce to 
market than any other equal extent in the United States. 
Nearly one half of the farmers might load their own 
vessels, and in two days have them in New York or Bal- 
timore. 

And notwithstanding all these advantages, one half of 
your farms are so badly cultivated that land and owners 
are growing poorer every year, and talk of emigrating to 
the West. Thousands of acres of land are covered with 
forest trees, from the product of which thousands of men 
manage to keep soul and body, and wife and children in 
existence, but with very few of the comforts of civilized 
life in or around their dwellings, or upon their tables or 
person. 

You need not tell me that the country is unhealthy. 
Cut down these immense forests ; drain the swamps and 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1849 337 

take off all standing water from your fields ; improve your 
dwellings, and lime your lands ; drink less rum, and bless 
God for health and happiness, and that your lot is cast in 
one of the most desirable sections of these yet United 
States. 

Invite among you industrious farmers from the North. 
— Try to eradicate that foolish idea that prevails there 
that a white laborer is not respected here. Every man is 
respected by every one who possesses the true character- 
istics of a gentleman, that devotes himself to the business 
of his life. 

Northern men have lately engaged in the business of 
raising early garden vegetables, in the vicinity of Nor- 
folk, for Northern markets. Even this "small business" 
may be made a great one, and bring about great improve- 
ment of this extraordinarily kind and easily tillable soil, 
and thereby make lower Virginia, not only a most desir- 
able agricultural country for residents, but inviting to 
emigrants from abroad. 

To the citizens of Norfolk let me say, that if you would 
see your city rise from its Rip Vanwinkleism, you must 
arouse the sense of your surrounding agriculturists to 
the truth, that they possess the land and means of mak- 
ing this region the garden spot of the world, and then, 
and not till then, will your city prosper, as every city 
always does, in the midst of a highly cultivated country. 
To do this, spread knowledge abroad. 

If any one is desirous of knowing who it is that is hold- 
ing this plain talk to them, he may learn by "inquiring 
of the printer," that I am Solon Robinson. 



338 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 
Agricultural Talk.^ 

[Richmond Enquirer, Dec. 25, 1849'] 

[December 20, 1849] 

It is a matter of history, that the Brisish officer, who 
dined with General Marion, in his swamp retreat upon 
the Pedee, upon roasted potatoes, served up in a wooden 
tray, reported to Lord Cornwallis, that such a people 
could never be conquered : Because, when men could be 
found who were born, or had lived, perhaps, in affluence, 
or held high station in life, and who voluntarily descended 
to such a degree of republican simplicity, they were invin- 
cible as soldiers, and incorruptible as men. 

Now, there may be seen upon the left bank of James 

^ This speech was delivered before "a gathering of Legislators 
and citizens, assembled in the House of Delegates" at Richmond on 
Thursday evening, December 20. Prefacing the extract quoted, the 
Enquirer said: "Mr. Robinson is a fine-looking man; his face and 
figure are quite peculiar and picturesque. He is very tall and raw- 
boned, his eyes black and sparkling, florid complexion, head covered 
with premature white locks, and a lai^ge and characteristic snow- 
white tuft of hair from his neck falling on his breast. . . . 

"Mr. R. is not a polished or elegant speaker — but, with his strong 
voice and blunt, off-hand manner, he presents ... a volume of im- 
portant and interesting facts, occasionally dashed with dry humor. 
. . . He warmly urged the appointment of an Agricultural Chem- 
ist, to traverse the State, analyze and doctor the soil, &c. The great 
increase of the value of lands, consequent upon the appointment of 
such an officer ... he thought, would soon repay . . . manyfold 
the expenses. . . . 

"Mr. R.'s suggestions in regard to the manner of conducting agri- 
cultural societies, and in favor of the farmers of our Legislature 
holding meetings during their sessions, to discuss the subject and 
arouse the public mind, were wise. . . . Mr. R. paid a high tribute 
to the capabilities of Virginia, which, in view of her excellence of 
soil and climate, vicinity to navigation, &c., was one of the most 
desirable States in the Union. . . . 

"Among other things urged by Mr. R. was the respectability of 
the occupation of farming. ... To illustrate this, as well as to 
show the beauties of a republican form of government, in the 
operations of which our King of to-day is a supervisor of roads 
and high-ways to-morrow, he gave a very interesting anecdote and 
sketch somewhat as follows:" 

' Reprinted in La Porte County Whiff, February 9, 1850. 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1849 839 

river, about sixty miles below Richmond, and some two 
miles back from the bank, a dwelling, which, although 
with all its attachments and offices, shows a front of 
white frames 270 feet long, yet, in fact, is a very mod- 
erate sized farm-house, upon a tract of some eleven hun- 
dred acres, though only six hundred and fifty acres are 
in cultivation. And here, upon this spot, may be seen as 
great a show of Republican simplicity, as the British offi- 
cer saw in Marion's camp. For here lives, in plain and 
simple style, a plain Virginia farmer, engaged in improv- 
ing, by lime and marl and deep ploughing, the old fields; 
cutting down, and clearing up, and fencing, and bringing 
into cultivation the forest ; and ditching and draining the 
swampy places; and growing wheat and corn for sale. 

Ask the captain of the steamer to set you ashore, and 
bend your steps toward yonder farm-house. Perchance 
on the way you will meet a plainly-dressed farmer, of 
about sixty, riding about in a little carryall wagon, drawn 
by a plain-looking old white horse. He is superintending, 
personally, the affairs of the farm — giving a direction to 
a servant here, and a word of encouragement to another 
there, or making some inquiry after the stock or crops, of 
some confidential one with whom he holds a short con- 
sultation. Approach, and introduce yourself without cere- 
mony, and he will invite you cordially to ride home and 
dine or sup with him, with as little ceremony as you will 
ever find where true hospitality and politeness prevail. 
The table will be graced by a beautiful lady, (a second 
wife,) and perchance a most lovely daughter of some 
twenty summers, blooming in health and such good coun- 
tenance as shall make you almost break the tenth com- 
mandment. There too you shall see a couple of sweet 
little boys, that gladden the declining years of the old 
farmer. 

Stroll out after dinner into the old oak park. Here is 
a monument that marks the tomb of some departed 
friend. Read : "Here lieth the bones of my faithful old 
horse, General, aged 25 years; ivho, in all his lo7ig service, 
never blundered but once; — would that his master could 



340 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

say the same." Now who is that master? He hath not 
always lived in this humble, though happy home, so re- 
tired from all the bustle of city or political life. No, he 
was once master of another mansion, widely known as 
"The White House," where he dwelt as the ruler of twenty 
millions of people, and wore the authority of that rank 
that entitled him to the name and honor of the "proudest 
sovereign in the world," for he was President of the 
United States. But, by the working of the beautiful ma- 
chinery of our glorious republican institutions, this 
mighty sovereign is again "one of the people," but still 
wearing a proud and honorable title, for he is now known 
as "Farmer Tyler of Virginia." 

Robinson to Richmond Enquirer. 

\_Richmond Enquirer, Dec. 25, 1849'] 

[December 24?, 1849] 
To the Editors of the Enquirer: 

As I hope my remarks on Thursday evening, in regard 
to holding Agricultural meetings at the Capitol, during 
the session, will be productive at least of a few such re- 
unions, I venture to suggest a subject for discussion. 

These meetings should be organized and conducted in 
parliamentary order, and proceedings reported for pub- 
lication. Suppose then, that a resolution is introduced 
for discussion, as follows: 

"Resolved, That it is expedient and for the best inter- 
ests of Virginia, to prohibit the importation of hay into 
this State." But how? asks the captain of a Connecticut 
schooner, who is there present to take part in this free 
debate, after having sold out all his bundles of hay at 
such a price, that every hundred weight shall give him 
two bushels of Virginia corn. How will you do it? Will 
you pass a law against my bringing hay as well as free 
niggers here; or carrying away those that are not free? 
Yes, sir, we will pass such a law, but it shall be a more 
effectual one than any statute law ; it shall be law of home 

'Reprinted in La Porte County Whig, February 9, 1850. 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1849 341 

supply. We will insist that our Virginia farmers can 
better afford to raise hay upon their rich clay lands, to 
send to Connecticut, than she can raise it for her own use, 
upon her rock-bound, high-pined lands, and more expen- 
sive labor. 

We will pass no non-intercourse laws, but we will make 
up a spirit of inquiry among our people, and accustom 
them to think, to read Agricultural books and papers, 
adapted to their use, until they improve their system of 
Agriculture, so as effectually to stop the importation of 
hay and some other "Yankee Notions." 

Away goes the Captain without reply to this knock- 
down argument, orders his vessel to sea in a hurry, with 
a remark half to himself and half to his three stalwart 
sons, who are his sailors : "I will tell you what it is, boys, 
the Devil has got among these Virginians ; they actually 
talk about raising their own hay and onions. I guess we 
shall next year have to go a leetle further South for a 
market. Well now these are tarnation good grass farms, 
that's fact; but how 'twill spile trade if they du git to 
raisin' their own hay. By thunder, I 'spose they'll cut off 
all this wood then along James river, and spile our trade 
in that line, darn 'em." 

Although this is a "fancy sketch," I put the question to 
any reasonable man if the result is not just such an one 
as might be expected to follow the discussion of that reso- 
lution. Let somebody else who is fond of throwing fire- 
brands among powder kegs offer the following resolution : 

"Resolved, That all money laid out in the purchase of 
guano, to be used upon Virginia soil, is a dead loss of 
capital," and I think he might get up an explosion quite 
interesting; for I believe there are a few around Rich- 
mond that might be induced to come into the meeting and 
tell their experience, to prove that monej'- never was in- 
vested by a farmer to better profit, than in the purchase 
of this most remarkable fertilizer of his soil. 

Another subject that might be discussed, is the ques- 
tion whether it would be advantageous to the farmer to 
sub-soil, plow and under-drain his land. But I will not be 



342 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

tedious. I hope the subject will not be allowed to drop 
here, but that such meetings will be held ; and I shall see 
much good resulting from them. 

With respect, Yours, &c., Solon Robinson, 
Travelling correspondent of the American Agriculturist. 

To A Connecticut Farmer. 

[New York American Agriculturist, 9:95-96; Mar., 1850] 

[January 27, 1850] 

Your article in the January number of the Agricultur- 
ist, has just met my eye.^ I cannot turn to the article 
that has been the cause of your animadversions, for I am 
upon a small island, on the coast of South Carolina,- and 
my trunks and books are in Charleston. But I suppose 
that I drew a picture, in my "flight," of some spots that 
you would prefer to keep hidden from the world. That 
was not my object. You seem yourself to think, that my 
pictures were fictitious. But I assure you that they are 
true ones. It is equally true, that I might have given "a 
different complexion" to them; and I knew the "right 
source" to inquire; and was "able to compare the past 
with the present ;" for I was born among the rocks, in the 
most rocky part of Connecticut. But I did not design to 
show the bright side of the picture, nor did I show its 
darkest side. There is, and has been, ever since I knew 
the state, a miserable system of farming carried on there, 
that is wholly unworthy of the present age of improve- 
ment. There is a larger proportion of readers in this 
state, than, perhaps, in any other ; but how many of them 
read agricultural books or papers ? Do you teach agricul- 
tural chemistry in your common schools? Have you a 
state geologist, chemist, or public lecturer ? Do you gen- 
erally subsoil your clay soil, or underdrain your thou- 
sands of acres of cold, spongy side hills ? Are there not 
thousands of "old-pond meadows" and swamps, yet un- 
drained? Do not Connecticut farmers continue to barely 
scratch the surface with the plow? And do they practise 

' See ante, 252 n. ' See "Mi-. Robinson's Tour — No. 18," post, 364 ff. 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1850 343 

the most improved scientific methods of making and using 
manure? Do they not still mow over five acres of ground 
for a ton of hay? And are there not hundreds of just 
such farms as the one I drew a picture of ? Then wherein 
have I "done you injustice?" or made an "unwarranted 
attack upon you?" 

You little knew me, if you supposed that I would make 
such an attack upon any portion of my country. I in- 
tended to tell my native state that she was asleep, and in 
my flight over my native hills, I endeavored to stir her 
up. Since writing that article, I have seen a whole county 
aroused to attend an agricultural fair, in one of the rich- 
est sections in the state. What aroused it? Was it to 
make a great show of stock, improved implements, &c., 
or to compete for premiums for the best systems of drain- 
ing and cultivating the soil? Was it to witness a great 
plowing match and trial of skill, and to determine which 
was the best kind of plow? If so, it is wonderful that 
there were but four plows — and one of them furnished by 
the proprietor of the land, "just to help out." But there 
was a great crowd attending the fair. What brought 
them there ? Why, to see Gen. Tom Thumb ! ! It was not 
the spirit of agricultural improvement. If that prevails 
in Farmington, I am glad to hear it; it does not prevail 
universally. The people of the state need arousing; and 
could I succeed in awakening them, I should be willing to 
be called a few hard names, while they were rubbing their 
eyes ; but when they get them open, so as to see that I am 
a son of the same soil, and only anxious for their best 
interests, I hope they will no longer accuse me of doing 
them injustice, or making an unwarranted attack upon 
my own, my native land. 

Upon the place where I am writing, there are 700 ne- 
groes, and two white men; and yet the state of culture 
here, might shame many a Connecticut farmer. It is a 
picture of order, neatness, comfort, and happiness. But 
of this, and Connecticut farming, more anon. Your true 
friend, Solon Robinson. 

South Carolina, Jan. 21th, 1850. 



344 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 
Mr. Robinson's Tour — No. 14. 

[New York American Agriculturist, 9:49-51; Feb., 1850'] 

[January ?, 1850] 

Sivamp Draining. — This has been done by Governor 
Hammond,-' of Silver Bluff, South Carolina, to a greater 
extent than by any other person of my acquaintance. 
When I visited his place, in April last, he had about 600 
acres in cotton, upon land that three years ago was 
almost impenetrable swamp; full of timber, living and 
dead, and matted together by running vines, with a soil 
five or six feet deep, but so soft, that, even after it was 
cleared of timber, a horse could not walk over it, nor until 
some time after it had been thoroughly drained. In fact, 
one of the swamps, (there are three different tracts 
drained,) was covered with 2 to 4 feet of water, consti- 
tuting what is known as a "cypress pond." These swamps 
are basins, or natural depressions in the upland, which is 
here all composed of a light, sandy soil, interspersed v/ith 
swamps, which heretofore have never been successfully 
cultivated, although everywhere abounding in the south, 
and possessing the same general characteristics as these 
upon Governor Hammond's land. 

He first commenced with a tract containing 170 acres. 
Being one of the most practical of men himself, he avoided 
a very common course among southern gentlemen, who 
act altogether too much upon the principle that some- 
times induces sporting men to "go it blind ;" and there- 

^ Reprinted in Southern Cultivator, Augusta, Georgia, 8:37-38 
(March, 1850). 

■ James Henry Hammond, born November 15, 1807, at Stoney 
Battery, Newberry District, South Carolina; died November 13, 
18G4. Editor of Columbia Southern Times, 1830. Moved to Silver 
Bluff on the Savannah River and operated a cotton plantation, 
1831. Representative in Congress, 1835-1836. Governor of South 
Carolina, 1842-1844. In 1855 moved to Redcliffe on Beach Island 
in the Savannah River. Owned thousands of acres and over three 
hundred slaves. Scientific and highly practical farmer. A founder 
of the South Carolina Agricultural Society. Contributor to De 
Bow's Review, 1849, 1850. United States Senator, 1857-1860. See 
sketch in Dictionary of American Biography, 8:207-8. 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1850 345 

fore his first operation was to make a careful survey and 
estimate of cost, with the quantity of land to be re- 
claimed, and its estimated value, and then make a dia- 
gram, showing all the lines of leading ditches, to serve as 
a complete guide for the overseer in prosecuting the 
work ; for here, everything is done under the direction of 
the proprietor. 

It was found, on examination, that to have the outlet 
upon his own premises, required a ditch a mile and three 
fourths long, and from 5 to 13 feet deep. This being done, 
it took off a portion of the water so that hands could com- 
mence clearing off the timber and bushes, which proved 
to be a heavy job, as the ground was still so wet that the 
bushes would not dry sufficiently to burn, and had all to 
be piled upon fires previously kindled with light wood. 
In the meantime, ditches were cut five feet deep through 
the centre, and all around the edges, and in every other 
direction where springs showed their waters ; as that 
depth was found necessary in all cases to cut them off, 
while the intermediate space was checkered with smaller 
ditches, usually three and a half feet deep, to take off all 
the surface water, and insure at least three feet of dry 
soil. As the swamp would not sustain a horse, or mule, it 
had, and still has, to be cultivated entirely with hoes ; but 
notwithstanding the cost of reclaiming and the trouble of 
tilling, the first crop was such as to promise remuneration, 
and induced Governor Hammond at once to undertake 
another swamp of 300 acres, of the same character as the 
first. The growth of timber was sweet gum, tupelo gum, 
red bay, poplar, short-leaved pine, and some others; the 
soil entirely vegetable muck, lying upon sand. The third 
swamp was the cypress pond before-mentioned, and ex- 
ceeds any piece of land I ever saw for quantity of stumps. 
This also required an outlet ditch upwards of a mile in 
length, part of which is 20 ft. deep. How this is to be 
kept from caving and filling up, is more than I know. To 
drain the three swamps, in all 600 acres, has required 
near forty miles of ditching, counting nothing less than 



346 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

three and a half feet deep, and has cost five dollars an 
acre, the clearing $25, and marling $10. This last opera- 
tion, Governor Hammond has gone into most extensively, 
upon nearly all of his land in cultivation, having used 
400,000 bushels, at the rate of 200 bushels per acre. It 
is boated thirteen miles up the Savannah River, from 
Shell Bluff, and then hauled from one to three miles out 
upon the land. The marl is composed of ancient sea 
shells, among which are now to be seen perfect oyster 
shells, of a mammoth size. The effects of marling the up- 
land were very stimulating at first, but not permanent, 
for the very reason that so many others fail in the use 
of calcareous manure ; and that is, neglecting to give veg- 
etable matter for the lime to act upon. Upon the swamp 
land, it will be very different, for there the soil is a com- 
plete mass of roots and decayed leaves, from 2 to 12 ft. 
deep ; and upon the part longest in cultivation, the bene- 
fit of the marl is still very great. And what was at first 
a quagmire, is becoming so solid that I rode over it with- 
out difficulty. 

Last year, a fair crop from one acre was weighed, and 
gave 1,788 lbs. of seed cotton, notwithstanding much of 
it was blown out and wasted by a storm. Much of the 
ground, too, was occupied by roots and stumps. 

It is found necessary to keep one hand all the time in 
each field, going through all the ditches, to clear out ob- 
structions ; as the banks, until they acquire a sufficient 
slope, will continue to slide in and stop the water from 
flowing free. 

The manner of estimating the cost of the improvement, 
has been by keeping an accurate account of all the labor, 
and then calculating by the rule of former years, how 
much cotton could have been made by the same labor, and 
the value of it, and this being charged against the ditch- 
ing and clearing, gives the amount stated as the cost per 
acre. Governor Hammond counts now $15,000 outlay for 
ditching and clearing, and $5,000 for marling, for which 
he has not yet received any returns. But so sanguine is 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1850 347 

he of success, that he has lately purchased 900 acres more 
of swamp, which he intends next to commence upon. He 
owns some 10,000 acres of land, 3,000 of which is under 
cultivation. A great portion of the balance is piney- 
woods sand, and of very little value for tillage. 

His crop of last season was 1,100 acres of corn, which 
averages 10 to 15 bushels per acre, and 650 acres of cot- 
ton, 570 of which was swamp, and cultivated entirely 
with hoes. The balance of the land is "resting;" a term 
peculiar to the south, and does not mean that it is cov- 
ered with a luxuriant crop of clover or grass, by which 
the soil of northern farms is renovated, when it needs 
rest from long-continued tillage crops. "Resting" is the 
only renovating process known to most of the planters. 
Gov. H. thinks that a crop of weeds is highly beneficial 
to the land. I think if it were shaded with a coat of 
straw, it would be better. 

Governor H. plants cotton in drills, 4 to 5 feet apart, 
and stalks 15 inches apart in the drills. This, at an aver- 
age of 30 bolls to a stalk, will give 1,800 lbs. to an acre. 
He says that he has seen 700 bolls and forms upon one 
stalk; and that it made 4 lbs. of cotton. It grew upon a 
dung heap. This is pretty conclusive proof that it would 
be profitable to grow the whole crop upon a dung hill. 

Corn is planted 3 by 4 ft. apart, one stalk in a square 
only, being allowed to stand. The average crop in the 
district does not exceed ten bushels per acre, and probably 
not over eight. Upon upland, ten bushels is considered 
a good crop. The average crop of cotton is about 400 lbs. 
per acre. A common hand tends ten acres of corn and ten 
acres of cotton, upon the light lands of this part of the 
state. 

It was in consequence of having worked this kind of 
land until it would no longer produce remunerating crops, 
that induced Governor H. to try what he could make out 
of the swamp lands. In speaking of renovating light land 
with peas, he says that he has found more benefit from 
letting the vines decay upon the surface, than he has in 



348 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

turning under green vines. He has one field that has 
been cultivated upwards of 100 years. This is upon the 
bank of the river. The "old, brick house," memento of 
the Revolutionary War, stands in this field, and which 
has been preserved with so much care, is now about to 
yield to old age and crumble into a shapeless mass of 
brick and mortar. 

There is one thing about the work upon this planta- 
tion, that might be imitated to advantage upon some 
others; and that is, a personal superintendence of the 
owner, and the use of good tools. The No. 15 plow is the 
one most preferred. He has some very good Ayreshire 
cattle, which show to excellent advantage alongside of 
the natives of that region. He also raises some good 
colts ; but don't find raising hogs and making pork to be 
profitable, principally because he cannot rear pigs, which 
is owing to a most unconquerable love that the negroes 
have for fresh pork. 

His plan of clothing his negroes struck me as some- 
thing new. He buys the cloth, and hires the "piney- 
woods people" to make it up. Not because his own people 
might not just as well do it, but because the poor, white 
women around are willing to work, and need the pay. He 
has upon the place, 220 negroes. I give the amount of 
his annual expenses for several years, by way of compari- 
son with other places heretofore given. 

Year Year 

1844, $4,225 1847, $4,847 

1845, 3,467 1848, 3,690 

1846, 4,923 

This, it will be seen, is very greatly less than a Louisiana 
sugar plantation; so that a much smaller crop may still 
leave as large a surplus. 

I have no room to describe the many beautiful paint- 
ings and statuary that adorn the mansion, but I must say 
that the literary visitor will find here one thing to admire, 
which is too often missing from gentlemen's houses, both 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1850 349 

north and south, and that is, a most valuable and exten- 
sive library; and an owner who is one of the best-read 
men in the country. The mansion house is located, for 
the benefit of a healthy site, upon a tract of almost bare 
sand, in the midst of pine woods ; and, being surrounded 
with so much wildness, the comforts, intelligence, and 
hospitality found within, are all the more striking. A 
spot for a well-cultivated garden, has been made by great 
labor, that being one of the necessary appendages to 
every dwelling place of highly-improved minds. 

It is seldom that I have spent a day more pleasantly to 
myself, and, I hope, profitably to my readers, than I did 
the one at Silverton, the residence of Governor James 
Hammond, of South Carolina, 15 miles below Hamburgh, 
on the Savannah River. Solon Robinson. 

Mr. Robinson's Tour. — No. 15. 

[New York American Agriculturist, 9:93-95; Mar., 1850'] 

[January ?, 1850] 

A South-Carolina Rice Plantation. — On the 12th of 
January, I left Charleston, upon a small steamboat that 
goes up Cooper River twice a week, having an invitation 
to visit Dean Hall, the plantation residence of Col. Wm. 
A. Carson,^ an extensive rice planter. Col. C. owns 3,300 
acres of land, only about one third of which is cultivated, 
and the remainder is in the original forest. After the 
most approved fashion of the south, Col. C. cultivates 650 
acres in rice, 90 acres in sweet potatoes, 180 acres in corn, 
and 26 acres in oats. The remainder of the cleared land 

'Reprinted in Southern Cultivator, Augxista, Georgia, 8:85-86 
(June, 1850). 

"William Augustus Carson, 1800-1856. Attended Harvard Col- 
lege. In 1821, with his mother, purchased Dean Hall plantation on 
Cooper River. Soon introduced engineering principles in the culti- 
vation of rice which were in advance of his time. Purchased Cote- 
Bas plantation in 1831. Married Caroline Petigru, daughter of 
James Lewis Petigru, of Charleston. Letter of Theodore D. Jervey, 
Charleston, to Herbert A. Kellar, May 11, 1936. Carson, James 
Petigru, Life, Letters and Speeches of James Lewis Petigru, 206-11 
(W. H. Lowdermilk & Co., Washington, 1920). 



350 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

is taken up in gardens, yards, lots, and roads, of which 
last he can show a pattern worthy of imitation. 

Can you believe me when I tell you that every acre of 
these crops is put in with hoes — that a plow is never used 
upon the plantation, except to scratch the ground a little 
between the corn rows? The rice land, being reclaimed 
swamp, and kept wet during the growth of the crop, is 
perhaps too soft to admit of using horses or cattle for 
draft. But why, in this age of improved agricultural im- 
plements, the sandy-loam upland should continue to be 
dug up with hoes, just as it was a century ago, passeth 
my understanding. But this is not the worst waste of 
labor. I have seen a hundred negroes in a lot, threshing 
rice with flails, winnowing it in the wind, and carrying 
off the straw half a mile in bundles upon their heads. Col. 
Carson has so far advanced in improvement as to thresh 
his crop by steam; but in some other labor-saving prac- 
tices he is still keeping company with men of past ages. 

To give readers some idea of rice cultivation, I will de- 
scribe the process from the beginning. 

In December and January, if the stubble is dry enough 
it is burnt off, and if not, it is dug up and piled, or turned 
under by enormous hoes, which the negroes raise high 
over head, and let fall with the least possible exertion of 
strength, and at so slow a rate the motion would give a 
quick-working Yankee convulsions. But the negro has 
his task, that is, one third of an acre, (which the said 
Yankee would do with a plow in two hours,) and so it is 
useless to expect Cuffee to move any faster than to ac- 
complish it before dark. In March, the ground is all hoed 
over again, and clods broken up and drills opened with 
suitable hoes, 15 inches apart, and the seed drilled in by 
hand, and covered with a wooden baton. The water is 
then let on for a few days until the seed is sprouted, and 
then it is drawn off. When the plant attains the fourth 
leaf, go through with the hoes, and if the weather is 
favorable, hoe again before letting on the water, or let it 
on at once for ten to twenty days, and then draw off and 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1850 351 

clean out the grass, and then let on the water, and keep 
it on until the grain is ripe, which is the last of August. 
It is cut with sickles, bound in small sheaves, and, of 
course, carried off upon the negroes' heads, either to hard 
land, where it is carted, or to flat boats along the shore, 
or in some of the large canals through the fields. From 
the boats, it is carted or carried to one great stack yard, 
where it is put up in very handsome round stacks, or long 
ricks, upon beds graded so as to carry off all rain water. 
As soon as possible after the crop is secured, the thresh- 
ing commence.5, and requires a great number of hands to 
carry the sheaves to the machine, and take away the 
straw and chaff, and put up about 500 bushels of cleaned 
grain a day in the store house. 

As soon as there is a stock on hand, the process of hull- 
ing commences. I will endeavor to describe this process 
particularly. 

The mill is driven by tide water, and will hull about 500 
bushels a tide, which rises here six feet ; Col. C, however, 
intends to get a steam engine, so as to be able to run con- 
stantly. The rough rice is brought from the store house 
and emptied into a bin upon the lower floor, from which 
it is carried by elevators to the third story and passed 
through a large fanning mill ; and then through a three- 
part screen, to separate the sand that is too heavy to be 
blown out, and divide the small rice from the large grain 
as much as possible, as it is important to have all of 
nearly the same size passing between the stones at the 
same time. From this screen, the rice falls to a pair of 
six-foot mill stones, which run just close enough together 
to rub off the hulls of the most of it. From here it is again 
elevated, and passed through another fan that blows off 
the hulls and spouts them out doors. Then it passes 
through another screen that separates the grains that 
passed through the stones whole without being hulled, 
and the hulled grains, together with perhaps ten per 
cent, that will not hull, falls down to the mortars on the 
lower floor. These are twelve in number, holding five 



352 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

bushels each. The pestles are about ten feet long, shod 
with iron, and are lifted by cogs in a shaft, and let fall a 
couple of feet, striking some inches down into the grain 
in the mortar at every blow. This operation is continued 
about two hours, which reduces the unhulled grains that 
passed through the stones to powder, and also takes off 
the pellicle from the hulled grain. It pounds best, but 
breaks most in warm weather. When sufficiently pounded, 
the pestle is thrown out of geer and the mortar emptied 
and refilled from spouts, and the pounded rice again ele- 
vated to another screen that separates the flour, broken 
rice, and whole rice, and sends over the end some of the 
largest grains and hulls, which has to be screened again. 
From this screen, the broken rice falls into a fan to blow 
out the flour, and the whole rice into the brush or rubber 
that cleans off everything and gives the grain a polish; 
and from this, it falls into the casks, which hold about 
600 lbs. each. A simple piece of machinery keeps the cask 
turning around while filling, and at every quarter round 
it is struck by a wooden mallet, which settles the grain 
and fills the cask to its utmost capacity. 

It takes about 20 bushels of rough rice to make a barrel 
of 600 lbs. The weight of good rice is from 45 to 48 
pounds to the bushel; and the proportion of good rice, 
broken rice, and flour, and value, may be understood from 
the following account of a parcel sent forward by Mr. 
Reed, from a neighboring plantation : — 

2,150 bushels made 89 bbls., weighing 

54,222 lbs., which sold for 3c., $1,626.66 

1 barrel given away, say 600 lbs., .... 18.00 
1 barrel middling, 628 lbs. at l%c., . . . 10.20 



$1,654.86 

4 barrels small or broken rice. 

202 bushels of flour. 

The charges on the lot for freight, 

hulling and commissions, 305.34 



Net proceeds, $1,349.52 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1850 353 

Or a fraction less than 65 cents per bushel, exclusive of 
the broken rice and flour. The first is just as valuable for 
food as the whole grain, and is used for feeding the peo- 
ple ; and the flour is worth as much as corn meal for stock. 

The average crop of rice upon the Cooper-River lands, 
may be set down at 40 bushels. Upon some small tracts, 
90 bushels to the acre have been made. 

Col. Carson's last crop was 800 bbls. which is about six 
and two thirds barrels to the hand, and 24 bushels to the 
acre. This, he says, is less than half a usual crop, owing 
to the dry season, which kept the river so salt that he 
could not flood the crop when most needed. 

The average yield of corn he estimated at 15 bushels, 
oats 20 bushels, and sweet potatoes 100 bushels, to the 
acre. The corn ground is "listed" in the winter ; that is, 
all the stubble and trash hoed into the space between the 
rows and covered with earth. Upon this additional dirt 
is hoed, and the corn planted about the 20th of March till 
20th of April, and thinned to one stalk, two and a half by 
five feet. Oats are planted in drills by hand in January 
and February, and cultivated with hoes. Sweet potatoes 
are planted from middle of March to middle of April, and 
by layers, (that is, cuts of vines,) until July. He usually 
plants about one fourth of his crop with seed and the 
balance with layers. Corn is ripe in August, and usually 
harvested in October. He aims to cultivate six acres of 
rice to the hand, and upland enough to furnish them all 
the corn and potatoes they can eat. Upon none of the 
rice plantations is it customary to give rations of meat ; 
and it is alledged that the people are more healthy upon 
vegetable food. 

Col. Carson made one year 45,000 bushels of rice with 
120 hands, which is 375 bushels to the hand, and 75 bush- 
els to the acre. 

The estimated value of a rice plantation is from $150 
to $200 an acre for the rice land, and nothing for the re- 
mainder ; so that in purchasing Dean Hall, at the highest 
price, you would get the whole tract for about four dollars 
an acre, including a very large tide-water hulling mill, 



354 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

steam threshing mill, steam saw mill, a noble mansion, a 
very good lot of negro houses, overseer's house, barns, 
stables, store houses, shops, &c., enough to make up a 
town in California worth a million. 

The rice lands were originally covered with cypress and 
cedar, and the amount of work required to clear and em- 
bank them, not only around the outside, but to divide into 
suitable tracts for flooding, and ditch them every hundred 
feet, and then to keep the ditches and banks in repair, is 
almost inconceivable. 

As the flooding of the rice land keeps it in a state of 
constant fertility, all the straw can be used as manure 
upon the upland, and with a more rational system of 
cultivation, by the use of the plow, it might be kept in a 
state of great productiveness. 

One of the great drawbacks to all these beautiful places 
along Cooper River, is the necessity of leaving them every 
summer to seek a more healthy location. Col. Carson 
goes to Sulivan's Island, a spot noted in American his- 
tory,^ where he keeps a house furnished and standing 
empty half the year ; and while that is occupied, the one 
at the plantation is idle. The same difficulty affects nearly 
all the rice and sea-island cotton plantations in the lower 
part of the state. The whites cannot live upon them, 
while the negroes remain perfectly healthy. So that 
though their income may appear to be larger than in 
some other sections, their expenses are proportionately 
greater, and this should teach us all to be more content 
with our lot in life. 

Col. Carson estimates his proper plantation expenses 
at $5,000 a year ; that is. 

For clothing, taxes, and medicine, $3,000 

Overseer's wages, 1,000 

Engineer's wages, 300 

Repairs of machinery and oil, 200 

Iron, lumber, staves, and hoop poles, .... 300 
Sundry items, 200 

' Fort Moultrie, on Sullivan's Island, guarded Charleston's har- 
bor against British attacks during the Revolutionary War. 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1850 355 

This, of course, does not include anything for ordinary 
family expenses, which are no small item in a house, 
where, besides all the world of acquaintances, every re- 
spectable stranger finds a home and a most hearty wr;l- 
come, from a most noble gentleman and lovely lady. 

During my exceedingly pleasant visit here, I had the 
satisfaction of making the acquaintance of nearly all the 
gentlemen in the neighborhood. Upon the opposite side 
of the river, from Dean Hall, is the plantation of J. 
Withers Read, who has ponds of fresh water covering 
100 acres of upland, which are held in reserve to water 
the rice fields when the river is too salt. He threshes his 
crop by horse power, and sends the grain to Charleston 
to be hulled, where there are several very large steam 
mills, though more perfect, yet upon the same principle as 
Col. Carson's. The toll is 7^4 per cent., and the mill keep 
the offal. 

Mr. Robinson's Tour. — No. 16. 

[New York American Agriculturist, 9:118-19; Apr., 1850^] 

[February ?, 1850] 

Georgia Farming. — Augusta is one of the most flour- 
ishing towns in the south. It contains 8,000 or 9,000 in- 
habitants, and is situated at the head of steam navigation 
on the Savannah River; built upon a broad plain of rich 
alluvial soil, and is a place of a large trade. Two of the 
principal streets are about two miles long, and each one 
160 feet wide. It is also the terminus of the Georgia 
Railroad, which already extends into Tennessee. The city 
is now engaged in a stupendous work nearly completed, 
by which the best water power in the Union is provided. 
This is done by tapping the Savannah, seven or eight 
miles above the city, with a navigable canal, which is 
brought down just to the edge of the town, and then the 
water drops from the first to the second level, 13 feet, 
and then is carried about a mile along a natural ridge, 
from which it is taken by short cuts, with 13 feet more 

'Reprinted in Southern Cultivator, Augusta, Georgia, 8:87 
(June, 1850). 



356 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

fall to the third level, that carries the water through an- 
other canal into a natural hollow, and back into the river 
above the city. The work is done at the expense of the 
city corporation, which will receive a revenue for water 
rents. The navigation of the canal is made free, as by 
that thousands of bales of cotton come to Augusta mar- 
ket. There is now in operation one beautiful cotton fac- 
tory of 9,000 spindles, and another of the same sized 
building. There are two excellent merchant flouring mills 
in operation, and a sawmill and some other works, and a 
large machine shop nearly ready; and there is ample 
room and water for a hundred or two more. Good mate- 
rials for brick abound upon the spot, and coal, iron, lime, 
and granite up the railroad; and then the location being 
healthy, why should it not become a great manufacturing 
town? There is also a railroad 136 miles, to Charleston, 
which makes Augusta within five days of New York. 

But the best of all, is the fact that the town has a 
population equal in point of character to any other, north 
or south; and is surrounded with some of the best and 
most enterprising farmers in Georgia. Among others, 
I may be permitted to mention Messrs. Eve,^ Delaigle,* 
Coleman,^ Miller,* and Moore.'' The first is one of the 

' William J. Eve, Richmond County, Georgia, was an exhibitor at 
the Stone Mountain Cattle Show, 1848. Southern Cultivator, 6:145 
(October, 1848). 

' Mr. Delaigle, Augusta, Georgia, had a celebrated Cherokee Rose 
hedge. Ibid., 6:46, 101 (March, July, 1848); 9:74 (May, 1851). 

'James L. Coleman, Augusta, Georgia. Planter. Interested in 
wheat culture in the South. With John Cunningham, established a 
mill on the Augusta Canal and offered prizes for the best wheat 
grown in that vicinity. Maintained a fine orchard of over one hun- 
dred acres of choice trees. Ibid., 6:169 (November, 1848); 9:192 
(December, 1851); A7nerican Farmer, 4th series, 4:412 (June, 
1849). 

* Probably Andrew J. Miller (1806-1856), lawyer, state repre- 
sentative, and state senator. Born in Camden County, Georgia. 
Aided greatly in securing the construction of the Western and 
Atlantic Railroad. Memorial History of Augusta, Georgia, 240-41 
(D. Mason & Co., Syracuse, N.Y., 1890). 

* The wheat culture of M. B. Moore of Augusta, Georgia, is men- 
tioned in the Report of the Commissioner of Patents, 1849, pt. 2:209. 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1850 357 

most enterprising and thorough-going sort; as is most 
apparent in his work as contractor upon the water works 
and canals; while at the same time, without the assist- 
ance of an overseer, he has carried on his large planta- 
tion, three miles below town, having made about 20,000 
bushels of corn last year, besides a large quantity of 
other things for sale, with 30 hands, 28 of whom were 
females. This he has done from a thorough knowledg 
of the value and art of making manure. 

The average yield of corn here, one year with another, 
is about 25 bushels to the acre — oats the same, though 
he has made 80 bushels. Mr, Delaigle told me that he 
had frequently made 300 bushels of sweet potatoes to the 
acre. 

His premises are well worth visiting, both by northern 
and southern farmers. The first would see how a south- 
ern farmer, born upon the spot, can make and use ma- 
nure, and see yards, stables, cattle sheds, stock, tools, 
buildings, and farming in its most comprehensive sense, 
equal to anything of the kind in his own country. The 
latter would see an example worthy to be followed. 

I noticed in the cattle yard, a vast quantity of oak and 
other leaves, mixed with the manure. This is now being 
hauled out and dropped in heaps and covered ; and in the 
fore part of April, the corn is planted in checks four feet 
by six, two stalks in a hill to stand, and each hill has a 
shovelful of this coarse manure, and a handful of lime, 
which he makes from oyster shells, "picked up about 
town." 

Mr. D.'s sweet potatoes, of which he raises from 3,000 
to 5,000 bushels a-year, are kept in a brick house, of 
which about five feet are above and five below ground. 
The potatoes are dug and put away as rapidly as possible, 
after commencing, and have a layer of fine straw next the 
walls, and several ventilators through the heap, made of 
four boards full of holes, nailed together. Over these are 
trap doors, into the cockloft, which has outside ventila- 
tors, to open and shut as required. In this way, with the 



358 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

least possible trouble, he keeps sweet potatoes through 
the winter and well into summer. 

Mr. Eve's plan of manuring is different from Mr. D.'s, 
as he spreads all broadcast and plows it in ; and he prefers 
to give the lots manured a thorough dressing at once, 
instead of scattering it over a wide surface. All of these 
bottom lands would be improved, most undoubtedly, by 
underdraining. But that never can be done while the 
owners cultivate so much land. And it is one of the hard- 
est undertakings to convince planters that they would be 
richer if they did not own half so much. This "swamp 
land," as it is termed, was once considered inexhaustably 
fertile, and yet, it is now proved by those gentlemen, as 
well as others, that no part of their labor pays a more 
certain profit than manuring. 

Upon the subject of using oak leaves for manure, Mr. 
N. B. Moore, who has had a good deal of experience, says 
that he considers them about the poorest vegetable sub- 
stance he has ever tried. He prefers broom straw, or 
even fine straw, and certainly any kind of weeds, crab 
grass, corn stalks, or straw of any kind of grain. 

All of these bottom lands are liable to overflow, except- 
ing when the water is kept back by dams, or levees, as is 
the case upon a very great portion of all the river lands 
of the southern states. They also have the reputation of 
being unhealthy, and of affording as fine a grovi^h of 
musquitoes as the greatest lover of that kind of music 
could desire. Of the latter, I have no doubt. As to 
health, I believe that draining and liming, and improving 
cultivation will cure that. 

Mr. Moore cultivates his farm principally for hay, to 
sell in town, but he has learned that no land, not even the 
Savannah-River Bottom, can be stripped of a crop every 
year, and yet continue to give, and so he keeps carts con- 
stantly gathering up manure in the city, which he puts 
on the land at the rate of one horse cart load every 20 
feet, upon every bed, which are all laid off 20 feet wide. 
The manure is first picked up about town, with carts and 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1850 359 

taken to a pile on a vacant lot, and from there is hauled 
to the farm in two or four horse wagons, and put in a big 
pile, with a good coat of locomotive cinders, and coal 
ashes covered over the top, where it is thoroughly rotted 
before using ; for it is composed of all manner of things 
gathered up in the streets, yards, and stables. As soon 
as possible after it is hauled on the land, it is plowed in 
about two or three inches deep in winter, and in the 
spring, after the weeds have got well under way, he plows 
them all under, five or six inches deep, and sows millet, 
oats, peas, barley, clover, grass, &c., and harrows in ; thus 
killing the weeds and allowing the crop to get a fair start. 
All the produce is sold or used as hay, and also a crop of 
crab grass. Of the latter, he cut up a crop some years 
ago from among the corn upon 100 acres, which he sold 
for $600. 

Mr. Moore, it is proper to remark, was not bred a 
farmer, though now one of the best in the country. That 
is, he makes as much, if not more to the hand, than any 
other man in that region ; and all because he understands 
the value of manuring, and following a judicious system 
of cultivation, instead of the too common skinning one. 
Besides the profitableness of his farming, his farm is 
kept in the neatest order of any one in that neighborhood 
of neat farmers. Altogether, his example is worthy of 
commendation, and profitable to be noted and followed. 

Mr. Robinson's Tour. — No. 17. 

[New York American Agriculturist, 9:148-49; May, 1850] 

[February ?, 1850] 

North-Carolina Farming. — Having heretofore given 
some items of the products and expenses of cotton, sugar, 
rice, and wheat culture, I will now give, by way of com- 
parison, the amount of expense and sales of a corn plan- 
tation on the Roanoke River. 

The tract contains 1,785 acres, valued at $13 per acre. 
About 1,250 acres of it are open land ; 650 usually in corn, 
the remainder in grass, or "resting." It is composed of 



360 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

rich alluvial bottoms, which are liable to overflow, and 
"high land ridges," that are comparatively poor. The 
corn is usually planted upon the richest land, 1 foot by 5, 
and on the upland, 4 ft. 9 in. by 3 ft. 3 in., one or two 
stalks to the hill. The average yield, last year, 29 bush- 
els to the acre. The land is deep plowed with two or 
three horses or mules, and almost exclusively worked 
with plows, particularly upon the upland, and at the last 
working, sowed with peas. These are fed off by cattle 
and hogs, of which more are kept than enough for planta- 
tion use, though the proprietor is of opinion that keeping 
cattle upon a grain farm, is poor business. His cattle 
only pay six per cent. Hogs should only be kept to just 
that extent required for home consumption and to eat the 
offal. Feeding corn, at 50 cents a bushel, makes dear 
pork. Hogs are considerably fattened upon peas and 
oats, the latter being sown in large quantities to furnish 
pasturage for hogs and horses. Corn is usually planted 
the last of March or first of April, and is ripe enough to 
commence gathering the second week in October. [?] 

The following tables of expenses and sales will be 
found interesting. It is to be presumed that a full supply 
of wool for clothing the negroes is grown upon the place, 
and that the proprietor never bought an article of provi- 
sions. The usual average number of hogs, about 200 
head, and cattle 100 head. Horses, mules, and colts, 30, 
sheep, 100. Stock winter in the corn fields. All the land, 
except some wet spots, is cultivated upon the "level sys- 
tem." That is, the ground is plowed as deep as it can 
be, and then furrowed with a two-horse plow and planted 
in the bottom of the furrow, and covered with plow or 
cultivator. Great benefit has been derived from ditching, 
draining, and deep plowing; and that, the proprietor be- 
lieves, will improve almost any land, and increase its 
productiveness as it will be seen has been done upon this. 

1844. — PLANTATION EXPENSES — 25 FULL HANDS, 19 

PLOWS. 

Overseer's wages, $160.00 

Hire of 8 hands, 210.00 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1850 361 



Clothes and taxes for hired hands, 


50.00 


Bagging and rope, 


91.56 


Iron, salt, and plows, 


45.00 


Clothing bought, 


25.00 


Hats and blankets, 


36.00 


Taxes on negroes. 


50.00 


Physician's bill 


40.00 



$707.56 
80 acres of cotton made this year, yielded 1,500 lbs. an 
acre of seed cotton. Interest on $31,500 capital, 6 per 
cent., $1,890. Amount of sales, $4,840.25, or a fraction 
less than 16 per cent, on capital. 



1845.— 22 Hands- 


-14 Horses. 




Overseer's wages. 




$200.00 


Hire of 4 hands, 




158.00 


Nails, spades, shoes, &c., 




13.00 


Salt, $12, taxes, $55, 




67.00 


Physician's bill. 




45.00 



$483.00 

Capital same. Sales $4,138.78. Credit plantation 
for articles at selling prices. $298.34. Total, $4,437.12. 
Crop all corn, 540 acres, 12,975 bushels, or 2,595 barrels, 
sold for $2.58 a barrel, at home. Net to hand, $181.75, 
over 15 per cent, on capital. 

1846.— 24 Hands— 15 Horses. 



Overseer's wages. 


$225.00 


Nails and salt, 


17.63 


Plows, scythes, &c.. 


54.67 


Clothing and leather, 


20.52 


Hats and blankets, 


52.02 


Cotton cloth, plows, &c.. 


53.25 


Cotton yarn, $13, taxes, $60, 


73.00 


Hire of one hand, 


50.00 


Physician's bill. 


80.00 



$626.09 



362 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

Sales, $4,828.18. Corn at $3.64 a barrel. Crop lost by 
flood on low ground. Net to hand, $173, and over 14 per 
cent, on capital. 

1847.— 26 Hands. 

Overseer's wages, $250.00 

Hire of one hand, 40.00 

Salt $16, leather, yarn, &c., $21.50, 37.50 

Nails, leather, cloth, and sundries, 100.36 

Cutting oats, $10, taxes, $60. 70.00 

Blacksmith's bill, 68.92 

Physician's bill, 52.25 

Lard kegs, $9.88, plows, $15, 24.88 



$643.91 

Sales, $5,983.17. 600 acres of corn, sold at $2.46 a 
barrel. Net to hand, $205.75. 



1848.— 28 Hands— 


Capital 


$42,765. 


Overseer's wages. 








$275.00 


Hire of two boys. 








108.00 


Salt, $14, taxes, $68, 








87.00 


Cloth, leather, hats, &c.. 








136.47 


Cutting oats and wheat. 








12.00 


Shoes, $9, blankets, $32, 








41.00 


Iron and plows. 








68.00 


Physician's bill. 








47.00 


Blacksmith's bill, 








65.92 




$840.39 


Sales, $5,006.51. Corn $2,121/2 


a barrel- 


-650 acres. 


to hand, $148.75. 











Net 



The proprietor has just commenced the use of lime and 
is of opinion that it will pay a profit upon the expendi- 
ture more certain than any other outlay he can make. 
The Roanoke Bottoms, that are overflowed upon an aver- 
age once in seven years, will yield eight and a half 
barrels of corn to the acre, including years of loss. The 
average value of such land is about $15 an acre. The 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1850 363 

uplands, may average $2.50 an acre, and yield about two 
barrels, (ten bushels,) to the acre. The best corn land 
on the river will average 10 barrels. 

In connection with this subject, I give the following 
statement of another place near Tarborough, upon which 
the principal crop is cotton. The average number of full 
hands, 25, and average amount of expenses per annum, 
$650, of which 300 is for overseer's wages. It is worthy 
of remark, that the same overseer has been in the same 
employ fourteen years. The proprietor took possession 
of the place in 1844, and the sales that year amounted to 
$1,500. 

In 1845, $2,500. 1846, $4,200. 1847, $4,500 1848, 
$4,600. 1849, $4,200, leaving still on hand about $400 
worth of surplus. During the same time, complete new 
buildings and fences have been erected, and the value of 
the land more than doubled, and more than quadrupled in 
productiveness. 

Now how has this been accomplished? By ditching 
and draining swamp land, naturally rich, but too wet to 
produce any crop ; by using improved plows, and plowing 
the old fields up deeply ; by creating manure for the poor 
barren sands; but principally by digging and spreading 
immense quantities of marl, or rather, seashell deposites, 
which, until now, had lain idle and useless, while the 
former owner was starving. This marl contains about 
thirty per cent, of carbonate of lime, and in some in- 
stances has been used at the rate of 600 bushels to the 
acre, so that from being one of the poorest, this farm has 
now become one of the most productive in the country. 
His average to the hand, last year, was $222, and al- 
though cotton brought a high price per pound, his crop 
was unusually light — 200 acres produced 53,000 pounds. 
He makes all his provisions, and nearly all his clothing. 
His rations are five pounds of pork per week, for all field 
hands, and all the bread and vegetables they will eat. He 
now averages six barrels of corn to the acre upon land, 
that, before it was marled, would not average two. Plants 
cotton last of April and corn first of May. 



364 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 
Mr. Robinson's Tour. — No. 18. 

[New York American Agriculturist, 9:187-88; June, 1850^] 

[March ?, 1850] 

Visit to Jehossee Island — Rice Plantation of Ex-Gov- 
enor Aikin.' — I hope my readers have read with some de- 
gree of interest, my account of Col. Carson's rice plan- 
tation, in the March number of the Agriculturist. The 
minuteness of that description will enable me to shorten 
the present one. I left Charleston on the morning of 
January 25th., which was like a mild summer day in 
autumn with us, and followed the windings of a crooked, 
narrow channel, through which small steamboats run 
towards Savannah by the inside channel to Beaufort. We 
were several times interrupted by meeting large timber 
rafts that come down the Edisto River, and through this 
passage to Charleston, and had to wait till they could be 
separated, to give us a passage through this fit abode of 
aligators, that are often to be seen "as thick as three in 
a bed." 

Although my point of destination was only thirty miles 
direct from the city, I was twelve hours on the passage. 
This island contains about 3,300 acres, no part of which 
is over ten or fifteen feet above tide, and not more than 
200 to 300 acres but what was subject to overflow until 
diked out by an amount of labor almost inconceivable to 
be performed by individual enterprise, when we also take 
into account the many miles of navigable canals and 
smaller ditches. There are 1,500 acres of rice lands, di- 
vided into convenient compartments for flooding, by sub- 
stantial banks, and all laid off in beds between ditches 
3 feet deep, only 35 feet apart. Part of the land was 

^ Reprinted in part in De Bow's Review, 9:201-3 (August, 1850). 

' William Aiken, born January 28, 1806, at Charleston, South 
Carolina; died at Flat Rock, North Carolina, September 6, 1887. 
Planter, statesman, philanthropist. Developed his rice plantation 
on Jehossee Island into a model of its kind. State representative 
and senator, 1838-1842; governor of South Carolina, 1844-1846. 
Representative in Congress, 1851-1857. See sketch in Dictionary 
of American Biography, 1:128-29. 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1850 365 

tide-water marsh, and part of it timber swamp. Besides 
this, Gov. A. cultivates 500 acres in corn, oats, and pota- 
toes ; the balance is gardens, yards, lawns, and in woods, 
pasture, and unreclaimed swamp. Wood is becoming 
scarce on the island, so much so, that he drives the steam 
engine to thresh the crop, by burning straw, which an- 
swers a good purpose, but is of doubtful economy ; though 
he intends carefully to save and apply the ashes, which 
are very abundant, and note the difference in value, be- 
tween that application and the manure made from the 
decomposed straw. It is generally calculated that two 
thirds of the straw will be sufficient fuel to thresh the 
crop ; but Governor Aikin has not found it so. He says 
there is no more danger of fire in the use of straw than 
in any other fuel. The flue is carried off fifty or sixty 
feet along the ground and there rises in a tall stack that 
never emits any sparks. Sugar planters, and all farmers 
who use steam, may do well to notice this. I recollect Mr. 
Burgwyn carries his off from his barn in the same way, 
with the same effect. 

Governor Aikin, however, has one improvement that 
I recollect mentioning to Mr. B., that he would require ; 
that is, a "man hole" into this flue, to enable him to clean 
out the great accumulation of cinders at the bottom of 
the stack. In Gov. A.'s, there are two which are closed 
by iron covers. 

The threshing apparatus is a most convenient one. The 
sheaves are brought from the stacks in the great smooth 
yard, to a large shed where all the sheltered grain can be 
saved, and are there opened and laid on carriers, similar 
to cane carriers, which carries them up to these machines 
in the second story, where the grain is separated from 
the straw, and falls down into winnowing machines, 
from whence it is removed by hand, (it might be carried 
by machinery,) to another part of the building over a 
canal, and is let down into boats to carry about half a 
mile to the hulling mill, which is exactly like Col. Car- 
son's, and driven by tide. It is carried from the boats to 



366 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

the mill by hand, or rather head, where a little head work 
of another kind would take it up out of the boat by ele- 
vators. 

The straw is consumed almost as fast as threshed. 
And here the saving of labor in getting wood, as well as 
the saving of labor stacking the straw and hauling ma- 
nure, must be taken into account, as an offset to the loss 
of manure in burning the straw. 

The rice for seed is always threshed by hand, as ex- 
perience has taught that the vitality of a considerable 
portion is injured in the threshing machines. It is jitst 
so with wheat. [An experienced farmer thinks about 
one grain in 500 is injured by threshing with machines, 
and as about 6 per cent, by the last process, there is still 
a great pecuniary advantage in favor of threshing with 
a machine. — Eds.] The quantity of seed to the acre is 
2 to 3 bushels, planted in drills 15 inches apart, opened 
by trenching plows, and singular as it may sound to 
some other rice planters. Governor Aikin plows all of 
the land that will bear a mule or horse, of which he works 
about forty and twenty oxen. 

Corn is generally planted in hills, upon the upland part 
of the island, which is sandy, 4 by 5 feet, two stalks in 
a place, and yields an average of 15 bushels per acre. 
Corn upon the low, or rice land, does not yield well, 
though it makes very large stalks. With sweet potatoes, 
on the contrary, the low land produces nearly double, and 
of better quality, averaging 200 bushels to the acre, and 
frequently 400 bushels. The average yields of rice is 45 
bushels to the acre, and upon one eighty-acre lot the 
average yield is 64 bushels. The crop upon that lot last 
year was 5,100 bushels, weighing 234,600, lbs. that is 46 
lbs. to the bushel. This made 229 barrels of whole rice, 
two barrels of middling, and two and a half barrels of 
small rice, which, at 600 lbs. each, (probably about 20 
lbs. below the average,) would make 140,100 lbs. This, 
at three cents, will give the very snug sum of $4,203 for 
the crop of 80 acres. 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1850 367 

The average annual sales of the place do not vary 
materially from $25,000, and the average annual expenses 
not far from $10,000, of which sum $2,000 is paid the 
overseer, vi^ho is the only white man upon the place, 
besides the owner, who is always absent during the sickly 
months of summer. All the engineers, millers, smiths, 
carpenters, and sailors are black. A vessel belonging to 
the island goes twice a week to Charleston, and carries 
a cargo of 100 casks. The last crop was 1,500 casks — 
the year before, 1,800, and all provisions and grain re- 
quired, made upon the place. Last year, there was not 
more than half a supply of provisions. 

Like nearly all the "lower-country plantations, the diet 
of the people is principally vegetable. Those who work 
"task work" receive as rations, half a bushel of sweet 
potatoes a-week, or 6 quarts of corn meal or rice, with 
beef or pork, or mutton occasionally, say two or three 
meals a-week. As all the tasks are very light, affording 
them nearly one fourth of the time to raise a crop for 
themselves, they always have an abundance, and sell a 
good deal for cash. They also raise pigs and poultry, 
though seldom for their own eating. They catch a great 
many fish, oysters, crabs, &c. 

The carpenters, millers, &c., who do not have an oppor- 
tunity of raising a crop for themselves, draw large ra- 
tions, I think a bushel of corn a week, which gives them 
a surplus for sale. The children and non-workers are 
fed on corn bread, hommony, molasses, rice, potatoes, 
soup, &c. 

The number of negroes upon the place is just about 
700, occupying 84 double frame houses, each containing 
two tenements of three rooms to a family, besides the 
cock loft. Each tenement has its separate door and win- 
dow and a good brick fireplace, and nearly all have a 
garden paled in. There are two common hospitals, and 
a "lying-in hospital," and a very neat, commodious 
church, which is well filled every Sabbath with an or- 
derly, pious congregation, and service performed by a 



368 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

respectable methodist clergyman who also performs the 
baptismal, communion, marriage and burial rites. 

There is a small stock of cattle, hogs, and sheep kept 
upon the place for meat, which are only allowed to come 
upon the fields in winter, under charge of keepers. The 
buildings are all of wood, but generally plain, substan- 
tial, and good. There is a pretty good supply of tools, 
carts, boats, &c., and the land is estimated to be worth 

$100 an acre for the rice land, which would be $150,000 

The 500 acres upland, $25 per acre, 12,500 

The negroes, at $300 each, 210,000 

Stock, tools, and other property, say 7,500 



$380,000 

which will show a rather low rate of interest made from 
sales of crops, notwithstanding the amount of sales look 
so large. 

Now the owner of all this property lives in a very 
humble cottage, embowered in dense shrubbery, and mak- 
ing no show, and is, in fact, as a dwelling for a gentle- 
man of wealth, far inferior in point of elegance and con- 
venience, to any negro house upon the place, for the use 
and comfort of that class of people. 

He and his family are as plain and unostentatious in 
their manners as the house they live in ; but they possess, 
in a most eminent degree, that true politeness and hospi- 
tality that will win upon your heart and make you feel 
at home in their humble cot, in such a manner that you 
will enjoy a visit there better than in a palace. 

Nearly all the land has been reclaimed, and the build- 
ings, except the house, erected new within the twenty 
years that Governor Aikin has owned the island. I fully 
believe that he is more concerned to make his people com- 
fortable and happy, than he is to make money. 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1850 369 

Letter to Mariah Robinson 

[Ms. in Harry Robinson Strait Papers, Gary] 

Lancaster Co. Va. May 9^^ 1850. 
Mrs. Mariah Robinson. 
My Dear Wife. 

Knowing from sad experience how very unpleasant it 
is to be cut off from all communication with you, I must 
not neglect any longer to let you hear from me, as I can 
get a letter away tho' I cannot get one sent to me because 
I cannot fix upon any point ahead where one can be sent 
to me from New York, and I have had no communication 
from Mr. Allen since I left Fredericksburg Apl. 22. and 
shall not be able to unless I take a steam-boat to Balti- 
more on purpose, which I am inclined to do, as I find it 
very impolotic for me to leave this part of the country as 
soon as I expected, as I am engaged in doing a very large 
business for the firm, of which I expect to reap a fair per 
centage of profit to myself. I have sold within the last 
ten days Tiventy Thousand Dollars worth of merchandise, 
mostly Guano, which is extensively used as a manure for 
wheat in several counties here. 

You may judge that I have been pretty busy & if I 
have neglected to write you it is because I had such an 
amount of business on my hands. I wrote some 20 letters 
last Sunday, and have been engaged in writing almost 
every night until 12 O'clock, except last night I went to 
bed early with a bad cold which has nearly given me the 
ague to day, as it was scalding hot forenoon & then a 
shower & chilly this evening: so much so that I stopt 
before night, as usual at a gentleman's house where I am 
always welcome, and treated with great respect & kind- 
ness. 

The best of wheat here now is knee high. Corn nearly 
all up & some being plowed the first time. Peaches about 
as big as large peas. Apple blossoms off. Forest trees 
all in green leaves. Strawberries in bloom. And it is 
called a most unusual backward spring. 



370 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

I hope you have a more forward one with you. I cannot 
yet tell until I hear again from Mr. Allen, when I shall be 
in New York, or when I shall be able to go and make you 
a visit, but I hope next month. 

I wish you would have Josephine make out a memo- 
randum of things for me to buy in New York, & send me 
at once as I may be there by the time you get this pos- 
sibly. 

I wish I knew whether you were in want of money, as 
I would send you a draft. I hope however that somebody 
will pay enough for you to live upon while I am away, and 
that you will live more comfortable than I do the most of 
the time; for although stopping with the richest portion 
of the people they are very plain livers in this part of 
Virginia & it would be a great treat to me in that respect 
if I could be treated by you. 

You may rest assured that I never forget my home, in 
all my wanderings & wish I was there to enjoy the affec- 
tion of a much loved wife & children. And I would have 
you & them ever believe that I am truly your affectionate 
husband & their loving father 

Solon Robinson. 

Yaupon Tea. 

[New York American Agriculturist, 9:194-95; June, 1850] 

[May ?, 1850] 

"What sort of tea did you say, sir?" Yaupon tea, 
ma'am. I cannot give you the exact orthography of the 
word. It may be yopon, yawpon, yuopon, or yoopon,' as 
I have never seen it written, and it sounds from the 
mouth of different individuals, like each of the above 
words. 

"Well, never mind how it's spelled, but do tell us what 
it is like, and where it is used, and where it comes from, 
and all about it." 

' Robinson did not exhaust all the possibilities. Yapon, youpon, 
and yupon are also listed by Webster's Dictionary as variant spell- 
ings for yaupon, a species of holly, the leaves of which are used as 
a substitute for tea. 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1850 371 

Yes, ma'am, and so I might as well begin at the begin- 
ning. Tradition says it was first discovered upon the 
desert coast of Virginia, south of the Chesepeake Bay, or 
upon the equally desolate shore of North Carolina, and 
for a long time was only known to one family of Indians, 
who used to prepare it, and sell it to the early settlers of 
that country. It now grows abundantly, both wild and 
cultivated, in all that region and among the primitive 
inhabitants is almost exclusively used instead of coffee 
or "store tea." The shrub somewhat resembles the box, 
is evergreen, of rather a pale color, grows ten or fifteen 
feet high, and is most natural to a poor sandy soil, or 
rather land without soil; that is, all sand. The bark, 
leaves, and twigs are all made use of; but I believe the 
young shoots are preferred. For winter use, they are 
gathered in the fall and laid in a trough, chopped up some- 
what fine, and then put into an iron pot which is carefully 
heated, to wilt the leaves ; then the whole is packed away 
in earthen jars, or dried, and is made by infusion in the 
ordinary way of making "Hyson," "Souchong," "Oolong," 
or any other ong, and makes quite as good a drink as 
one half of the China teas in the country. 

Great faith is placed in the medicinal qualities of yau- 
pon tea, by the people of the country where it grows. It 
is related of a North-Carolina gentleman, who once had 
a very bad cold, while at the Astor House, in New York, 
and called for some yaupon tea, and on the waiter ex- 
pressing some doubts about being able to find the article, 
as he had never heard of it before, he thought him very 
ignorant and wondered where he came from not to know 
what yaupon tea was, as he had seen it and smelt it upon 
the table every day since he had been there ; having mis- 
taken the black tea for the real "native American" article. 
Certain it is, that it is a tea very much esteemed by a 
great many people, and it is worthy of inquiry whether it 
is not deserving a more extended cultivation, and more 
general use. I am told that in Princess-Anne county, 
Virginia, a little patch of yaupon shrubs may be seen 



372 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

attached to nearly every house, and that hundreds of per- 
sons there never tasted of any other tea, and that hun- 
dreds of others who have tried the "boughten stuff," pre- 
fer the domestic article. I was assured by my informant 
that one gentleman lost the vote of the county in conse- 
quence of a story raised by his opponent, that he did not 
like yaupon tea, and ridiculed the use of it, and if elected, 
would probably go against levying a duty on foreign tea, 
for the benefit of the yaupon manufacturer. 

To save my popularity, I therefore speak publicly of 
the goodness of yaupon, and that it is undoubtedly better 
than half the green tea imported into this country. And 
I candidly recommend its increased cultivation. It would 
at least afford something new, and that is more than we 
can depend upon when we buy a new tea with some here- 
tofore unheard-of name. 

Ladies, when shall I have the pleasure of a cup of 
"yaupon" with you, raised in your own garden, and cured 
with your own hands? SOLON. 

Benefit of Guano. 

[New York Americcm Agriculturist, 9:202-3; July, 1850] 

[May ?, 1850] 

I HAVE gathered a great amount of information in my 
travels, upon this subject, some of which will be useful 
to your readers. 

I presume no part of the United States can show a 
more marked benefit from the use of this best and cheap- 
est of all fertilisers in the world, than the northern neck 
of Virginia ; as in no part, with which I am acquainted, 
has it been so extensively used, and likely to be continued 
to be used, upon the next wheat crop, as here. 

Mr. Willoughby Newton^ is entitled to the credit of 

' Willoughby Newton, born at Lee Hall near Hague, Virginia, 
on December 2, 1802; died at Linden, Westmoreland County, on 
May 23, 1874. Lawyer. Member of House of Delegates, 1826-1832, 
1861-18G8. Elected as a Whig to the Twenty-eighth Congress, 
1843-1845. Resumed practice of law and engaged in agricultural 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1850 373 

having first introduced it into that section, and he now 
says that he looks upon it as an interposition of Provi- 
dence, to save the country from total ruin, as most of the 
land had become so utterly exhausted as not to be worth 
cultivating, and nearly all the ridge or "forest land," as 
it is termed, had been abandoned as worthless, and suf- 
fered to grow up to old-field pines, which in time were 
cut down and burnt, and the land planted, and after bring- 
ing two or three miserable crops, suffered to grow up 
again. The soil is generally a sandy loam, based on a 
reddish-yellow clay, and in many places by shallow plow- 
ing and bad management, very much washed and its 
native fertility wasted. 

Mr. Newton's first experiment was upon such land, so 
"deadly poor" that it had long been considered useless to 
try to raise wheat, rye, or oats upon it, and it only 
afforded a very scanty crop of "poverty" or "hen grass." 
In 1846, he purchased a ton of Ichabo guano, about equal 
to half a ton of Peruvian, and put it upon eight acres, 
plowed in, upon which he sowed eight bushels of wheat, 
amid the jeers of some, and doubts of all his neighbors, 
that he never would see his seed return to him in the 
crop. Even his negroes thought "massa hab done gone 
crazy sure, to tink he raise wheat on dat land, caze he put 
few pinch of snuff on him," The result, however, was 88 
bushels, and a good stand of clover. 

In 1847, Mr. N. purchased $100 worth of Patagonian 
guano, and used it upon equally poor land, and obtained 
330 bushels good wheat, when he certainly could not pos- 
sibly have made 100 bushels without guano, by the best 
manuring he would have been able to give it. In 1848, he 
used $200 worth of Patagonian and Chilian, at $40 per 
ton for one, and $30 for the other, and made 540 bushels 
of such fine wheat that it sold readily, for seed, at $1.25 

pursuits. President of the Virginia Agricultural Society, 1862. 
Contributor to the American Farmer, 1848-1849, 1851, and South- 
ern Cultivator, 1851. Speaker at agricultural fairs. Biographical 
Directory of the American Congress, 1356; Southern Cultivator, 
9:147-48 (October, 1851). 



I 



374 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

per bushel. As these experiments were so very satisfac- 
tory upon the light lands, he wished to try what benefit 
guano would be to soil of a different character. He there- 
fore selected ten acres upon one of his Potomac farms, of 
a cold white clay, and applied one ton of Peruvian guano, 
which cost $50. His overseer declared "that stuff" never 
would make wheat and he would beat it upon the next 
ten acres, which to do, he dressed with lime, and plowed 
finely, and put in the wheat as well as he knew how. Find- 
ing in the spring, that the guanoed wheat was getting 
ahead, he gave his ten acres a good top-dressing of ma- 
nure. The result was 55 bushels for the limed and ma- 
nured lot, while the guanoed lot gave 135 bushels of a 
much better quality, which also sold at $1.25 per bushel, 
for seed. Here was a clear gain of $63.75 upon an outlay 
of $50, in one crop, ready money, besides the advantage 
to the land of getting a good growth of clover. In 1849, 
he used ten tons of Peruvian guano at $47, and ten tons 
of Patagonian, at $30, upon 260 acres of wheat, at the 
rate of 75 to 250 lbs. guano to the acre, and the result 
now, (May 3d, 1850,) is so promising, that he has bought 
30 tons of Peruvian, intending hereafter, to use no other 
kind, as the wheat now growing side by side, upon which 
the two kinds were applied, at equal cost, shows very 
largely in favor of the Peruvian. 

Upon one acre of sandy loam, in 1847, Mr. N. used one 
barrel of African guano, cost $4, and sowed one bushel 
Zimmerman wheat, and reaped 17. He also used a barrel 
of "fertiliser," last fall, at the rate of $12 an acre, along 
side of guano, at $4 an acre. The present appearance of 
the crop is in exact inverse proportion. 

It is the concurrent opinion of Mr. N., and others who 
have used it most, that an application of 200 pounds per 
acre, plowed in deep, [How "deep?" It will not do so well 
to plow guano in what we call "deep," in a northern cli- 
mate. — Eds.,] and wheat sowed late, say last of October 
or first of November, is the most economical application, 
and that it will give an average increase of twelve bush- 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1850 375 

els to the acre, for one of seed, upon poor land, and give a 
good stand of clover, that when turned in will give as 
good a crop as the first. 

The land upon which the above-named crops were made 
cost $4 an acre. Five miles from navigation, such land 
can be bought for less money. 

Wm. D. Nelson,^ of Westmoreland county, Virginia, a 
near neighbor of Mr. Newton, bought the land upon which 
he now lives, two years ago, at $1,600 for 400 acres. 
Three fourths of it was grown up in pines, and the bal- 
ance, not paying interest of money in rent. The place 
was notoriously poor. It has a very different aspect now. 
Fine fields of wheat, knee high this backward spring, on 
the 1st of May, and most luxuriant clover, plainly tell 
what has been the renovating agent under a judicious 
management, to effect this great change. He used 200 
pounds of Peruvian guano, and made 12 bushels wheat 
to one sowed, to the acre ; and 200 lbs. of Patagonian, and 
made 10 bushels to one. Upon eleven acres used 2,200 
lbs., and 11 bushels seed, and made 150 bushels of wheat. 
Upon 36 acres and 36 bushels seed, on the same kind of 
land that had been manured well in previous corn crop, 
but not guanoed, made 152 bushels. The contrast now, 
between wheat that was guanoed and that without, is 
equal to the difference between the green grass upon the 
wayside, and the bare beaten track. He plows in all his 
guano. Has bought ten tons Peruvian for 1850. 

Dr. F. Fairfax,- of King-George county, Virginia, com- 
menced the use of guano, in 1847, next year after Mr. 
Newton, on the northern neck, upon a piece of land so 
deadly poor that it would not produce any kind of grain 
enough to pay for planting; soil, clayey loam, hill land. 
His first experiment was with 400 lbs. to the acre, of 

^ William D. Nelson exhibited fine corn-fed hogs at the Maryland 
State Agricultural Society fair. The Plough, the Loom, and the 
Anvil, 6:343 (December, 1853). 

'^ Probably Ferdinando Fairfax, born at Shannon Hill, January 
9, 1803. Settled in King George County. Du Bellet, Louise Pecquet, 
Sowe Prominent Virginia Families, 2:179 (Lynchburg, Va., 1907). 



376 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

African guano, that proved one third water, upon 27 
acres, sowed with three bushels to an acre, and made 12% 
bushels, and upon another field from 8 to 18 bushels to 
the acre, and guano fully paid for in the improvement of 
the land by clover, which he sows with wheat, in Septem- 
ber. The clover grows luxuriantly where none would 
grow without guano, and his wheat now, (May 1,) is knee 
high, and will ripen by 15th June, and bids fair to make 
1,000 bushels where 150 could not have been made with- 
out guano, or 25 bushels to the acre. On some kinds of 
land on next farm, the wheat is barely perceptible at a 
little distance. Upon another farm where the land is 
richer, the contrast is not so great, but the doctor thinks 
will be equally profitable, and that it always will be found 
profitable upon land that would be benefitted by manure. 
He has bought 15 tons Peruvian guano for the next crop. 

Mr. W. Roy Mason^ put 300 lbs. of African guano at a 
cost of $4.50 upon what he says was the poorest acre of 
land in King-George county, Virginia, and I can bring a 
host of witnesses to prove that that is poor enough, and 
got 12 bushels good wheat, and a stand of clover worth 
more than the guano cost. He has made other experi- 
ments so satisfactory that he has bought six tons of 
Peruvian for future ones. 

Mr. C. Turner,- of King-George county, tried five ex- 
periments with guano. 

^ Roy Wiley Mason, King George County, Virginia, owned 789 
acres of land, valued at $5,234, including the buildings; 25 slaves 
over sixteen years of age, 32 slaves over twelve years of age, 13 
head of cattle (including horses, mules, etc.), and pleasure car- 
riages and harness to the value of $500. Tax list of King George 
County, 1850, in Archives Division, Virginia State Library. Letter 
of Wilmer L. Hall to H. A. Kellar, May 5, 1936. 

^ Carolinus Turner married Susan Rose, September 19, 1847. In 
1850 he owned 1,222% acres of land, valued at $28,153.75, includ- 
ing the buildings; 38 slaves over sixteen years of age, 47 slaves 
over twelve years of age, 22 head of cattle (including horses, mules, 
etc.), and pleasure carriages and harness to the value of $800. 
Marriage Register of King George County, 1783-1850, and tax list 
of King George County, 1850, in Archives Division, Virginia State 
Library. Letter of Wilmer L. Hall to H. A. Kellar, May 5, 1936. 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1850 377 

1st. Plowed in 250 lbs. 7 inches deep on corn land, and 
harrowed in wheat, and sowed one bushel plaster to acre 
on surface of part. 

2d. After the land was plowed, mixed guano, wheat, 
and plaster, and sowed and harrowed. 

3d. Land plowed, and wheat, guano, and plaster sowed 
and plowed in 2 or 3 inches deep. 

4th. Guano and plaster plowed in five inches and 
wheat harrowed in. 

The quantity and quality all equal. The present ap- 
pearance, (April 26th,) is decidedly in favor of the first 
part of first experiment. 

From all that I can learn, I am convinced that the best 
application that can be made is 200 lbs. Peruvian guano 
to the acre, plowed in deep, [How "deep," one inch, five, 
ten or twenty? — Eds.,] and that it is the most beneficial 
upon sandy loam, and pays the greatest profit upon lands 
so worn out as to be absolutely worthless for cultivation. 

Col. Robert W. Carter,^ of Sabine Hall, Richmond 
county, Virginia, a gentleman noted as one of the most 
improving agriculturist upon the northern neck, after 
thoroughly testing the various manures in various ways, 
has become so thoroughly convinced of its value, and the 
bad economy of ever sowing wheat without using it, has 
ordered 40 tons of Peruvian guano for his fall seeding of 
1850. He plows it in deep. 

No part of the United States is using guano to the ex- 
tent it will be used next fall, in this part of Virginia. I 
have notes of a great many other experiments, and shall 
continue to take others for publication for the encourage- 
ment of any who may be timid about buying this most 
wonderful and most profitable fertiliser. R. 

' Robert W. Carter, a descendant of Robert ("King") Carter, the 
first of the family to settle in lowland Virginia. For a description 
of Sabine Hall and the various Carter plantations, see Phillips, Life 
and Labor in the Old South, 220-32; post, 493 ff. 



378 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 
North-Carolina Farming. 

[New York American Agriculturist, 9:205; July, 1850] 

[June ?, 1850] 

When is the Best Time to Soiu Clover at the South? — 
Mr. Henry K. Burgwyn lias tried some experiments upon 
his plantation on the river Roanoke, in North Carolina, 
by which he thinks three quarts of clover seed to the 
acre, sown in the fall, will make as good a stand as four 
quarts in the spring, or rather in February, which is the 
usual time of sowing. The only objection to fall sowing 
is, that some think it injures the wheat. Mr. T. P. Burg- 
wyn is of this opinion. On the contrary, Mr. H. K. B. 
thinks that the clover, that is cut with the straw, will 
more than make up any loss in grain, as feed for cattle 
and increase of manure. 

Broad Wheat and Clover Fields. — Mr. H. K. Burgwyn 
has 500 acres of wheat now growing, 315 of which is 
sowed in clover, herds' grass, Timothy, or rye grass. Be- 
sides this, he has 220 acres of clover and grass from last 
year's sowing. Some of the clover sowed with wheat, last 
fall, grew two feet high. His brother, Mr. T. P. Burgwyn 
has 700 acres in wheat, and sowed in February 70 bushels 
of clover. He has good clover that was sowed in May. 
He says his brother's fall-sowed clover clogs the reaping 
machine. I will give facts — let others draw conclusions. 

Deep Ploiving. — Mr. H. K. Burgwyn has plowed some 
of his land with two four-horse plows, one after the other, 
followed by a three-horse subsoil plow in the same fur- 
row. Seven horses to one furrow is a common practice 
of both these gentlemen. Do you hear that, ye surface 
scratchers ? R. 

Mr. Robinson's Tour. — No. 19. 

[New York American Agricultiirist, 9:206-7; July, 1850'] 

[June ?, 1850] 

Sea-Island Cotton Planting. — Edisto Island, one of the 
largest of the South-Carolina group, about thirty miles 

'Reprinted in Southern Cidtivator, Augusta, Georgia, 8:115-16 
(August, 1850). 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1850 379 

southwest of Charleston, containing 5,000 or 6,000 inhab- 
itants, is the principal point where this valuable crop is 
cultivated, It is a sandy soil, but little above tide, which, 
flowing through many channels, gives very irregular 
shapes to the farms, but boatable water almost at every 
man's door. By this means, the crop is conveyed to mar- 
ket, boats being substituted for wagons. There is con- 
siderable marsh, some of which has been reclaimed, and 
produces good cotton. 

Salt-marsh mud is much used for manure at the rate 
of about forty one-horse cart loads to the acre. Some 
compost it, others put it in the cattle pens. Some dry it 
before hauling, and then spread upon the land. Mr. John 
F. Townsend^ prefers to use it as soon as dug, spread 
upon the land wet, and plowed in. He is the only man on 
the island who uses plows to any extent. All the land 
is cultivated with hoes, upon the two-field system; that 
is, one field in cotton, corn, and sweet potatoes, in the 
proportion of about seven twelfths cotton, three twelfths 
corn, and two twelfths potatoes ; in all, less than six acres 
to the hand. As the soil is generally very light, it is un- 
productive without manure. Therefore, as many cattle 
are kept as can be pastured upon the "field at rest," and 
the marsh and woodland. These are penned in movable 
yards, littered with fine straw and coarse marsh grass or 
weeds, which is also used to lay along between the old 
rows, to which muck and manure is added, and all the 

'John F. Townsend, born 1799; died 1881. Married Mary Caro- 
line Jenkins in 1835 and lived on Wadmalaw Island across from 
Edisto Island, until the death of his father. Moved to Bleak Hall 
plantation, Edisto Island. Noted for fine sea-island cotton which 
he shipped to France, Belgium, and Svi^itzerland. Raised horses, 
particularly marsh tackles, cultivated orchards, and grew sweet 
potatoes and sugar cane; raised sheep, cattle, and hogs on own 
plantation. Owned Sea Cloud and Shere Gold plantations, on 
which he also specialized in sea-island cotton, which could be 
planted continuously only on the three islands, James, Johns, and 
Edisto, just south of Charleston. Letter of John F. Townsend, 
Charleston, South Carolina, to Herbert A. Kellar, June 6, 1936; 
letter of Theodore D. Jervey to Herbert A. Kellar, May 11, 1936. 



380 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

grass sod which has grown during the year is hoed down 
into alleys, and the bed formed upon it, keeping the bot- 
tom as solid as possible. 

If the plow were substituted for the hoe, twice as much 
manure could be made ; or what, in my opinion, would be 
far more economical than digging muck or keeping so 
many cattle merely to make manure, would be the use of 
guano. As this substance contains the same fertilising 
properties of muck, in an hundred fold degree, I would 
most earnestly recommend planters to try the experiment 
by applying about 200 lbs. to the acre, plowed in deep, or 
buried in the bottom of the cotton or corn beds. Make 
use of none but the best Peruvian, and purchase it from 
a reliable merchant, so as to be sure it is genuine. 

It is true that cattle are easily kept here, living in 
winter in cotton and clover fields, eating the unmatured 
bolls of the former and stalks of the latter. In warm 
winters, there is much grass, and in summer, I believe, 
it is rather abundant throughout all the south. 

Cotton is planted from March 20th to April 10th, upon 
high beds, five feet apart one way, and from eight to 
twenty-four inches apart the other. Corn is planted about 
the first of April, upon the same kind of beds, from two 
to four feet apart. Sweet potatoes are planted the latter 
part of March ; also upon same kind of beds as the cotton 
and corn. As soon as the vines are sufficiently grown, 
say on the first of June, they commence planting the "slip 
crop." This is done by taking the vines from the seed 
beds, and laying along the top of other beds, and covering 
a part of the vines with dirt, when they immediately take 
root, and grow a better crop than from the seed. The bed 
is made rich and mellow, but the land below is kept as 
hard and firm as possible. The beds for cotton, corn, and 
potatoes are all made in the same manner and distance 
apart, and are reversed every other crop ; that is, changed 
into the alleys of the preceding one, but no rotation of 
crops is practised. The average yield of potatoes, is 
about 150 bushels to the acre. Cotton, (long staple,) 135 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1850 381 

pounds. Corn, 15 bushels of the southern white-flint 
variety. No other will stand the depredations of the 
weevil. 

The amount of labor to grow and prepare for market 
a hundred pounds of Sea-Island cotton, is estimated at 
fifty days' work ; that is, the small amount of labor which 
a negro does at "task work." The first process of prepar- 
ing land for cotton, after manuring, is "listing" — that is 
hoeing the grass off the old beds into the alleys. A "task" 
of this work is one fourth or three eights of an acre a-day. 
Next, the old beds are hauled on top, at the same rate. 
The whole "task system" is equally light, and is one that 
I most unreservedly disapprove of, because it promotes 
idleness, and that is the parent of mischief. 

The system of upland-cotton and sugar planters, of giv- 
ing the hands plenty to eat, and steady employment, is 
a much better system. Meat is not generally fed to the 
laborers in this part of the state. The diet is almost 
exclusively vegetable, varying upon different plantations 
somewhat. The following are the weekly rations upon 
four places, which will give a general idea. 

1st. One bushel potatoes a-week from about October 
1st to February 1st. Then one peck of corn, ground or 
unground, as preferred, or one peck of broken rice. Meat 
occasionally. 

2d. One bushel potatoes, or 10 qts. corn meal, or 8 qts. 
of rice, and 4 qts. of peas, with occasional fresh meat, and 
twenty barrels of salt fish and two barrels of molasses 
during the year. Number of people 170. 

3d. Half a bushel of potatoes, 6 qts. of meal, and 
about 2 lbs. of fresh meat, or 10 qts. of meal, or 10 qts. 
of rice. Carpenters, millers, drivers, and others, who do 
not raise crops and hogs for themselves, have a much 
larger allowance. 

4th. Half a bushel of potatoes, or 10 qts. of meal, and 
at times, when the labor is hard, a quart of soup a-day, 
and in light work twice a-week. This is made of 15 lbs. 
of meat to 75 qts. of soup, thickened with turnips, cab- 



382 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

bage, peas, meal, or rice. Upon this place, as well as 
many others, the people can get as many oysters, crabs, 
and fish as they like. They also keep a great many more 
hogs than their masters, but generally sell the pork in- 
stead of eating it. A half bushel of sweet potatoes, as 
measured out for allowance, by repeated weighing, aver- 
aged 43 lbs. 

The process of preparing Sea-Island cotton for market 
after it is grown, is so remarkable, and so little known, 
that I will give the particulars. 

In gathering it from the field, great care is taken to 
keep it clean and free from trash and stained locks. Upon 
the drying scaflfold it is sorted over before packing away 
in the cotton house. When ginning, in fair weather, it is 
again spread upon the scaffold, and assorted. Some run 
it through a machine called a "trasher," that whips it 
up and takes out sand and loose dirt. It then goes to the 
gins, which are the same kind first invented ; none of the 
many new inventions have been found efficient, and the 
Whitney gin totally unfit for Sea-Island cotton. These 
simple machines are 3l^ feet high, 2 feet long, and 1 wide, 
with an iron fly wheel like that of a "box cornsheller," 
upon each side, working a pair of wooden rollers, made 
of hard oak, about ten inches long and nearly an inch in 
diameter, held together by screws. In one instance, I 
saw a simple spring bearer under the lower roller and an 
iron one on top, to prevent the cotton from winding. 
These rollers wear out, and have to be replaced by new 
ones every day. I would recommend gutta-percha, as 
worthy a trial, as a substitute for wood, as something 
tough and hard is required. The rollers are moved by 
the foot, like a small turning lathe, the operator standing 
at one end of the gin, feeding the cotton very slowly 
through the rollers, leaving the smooth black seeds be- 
hind. A "task" is from 20 to 30 lbs. a-day, according to 
quality. Twenty or thirty of these little machines stand 
in one room ; and strange to say, none of those who have 
attempted to propel them by other power have succeeded. 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1850 383 

One very intelligent gentleman told me that he had spent 
$5,000 in trying experiments in machinery to gin this 
kind of cotton. 

From the gins, the cotton is taken to the mote table, 
where a woman looks it over very carefully and picks out 
every little mote or stained lock, as fast as two men gin. 
From the mote table it goes through the hands of a gen- 
eral superintendent, or overlooker, and then to the packer. 
This operation is done by sewing the end of a bag over a 
hoop, and suspending it through a hole in the floor, and in 
this, the packer stands with a wooden or iron pestle, 
packing one bale of about 350 lbs. a-day, as fast as it is 
ginned; as exposure to the air injures the quality, and it 
is not so salable in square bales packed in presses, as it is 
in hand-packed bags. 

The whole operation of preparing this valuable staple 
for market requires the nicest work and careful watching 
of the operatives, as a little carelessness injures the value 
to the consumer. It is worth from 30 to 50 cents a pound 
— more than common wool. 

The cultivation of these plantations is exceeding neat— 
too much so, probably, for the greatest profit, as has been 
proved, I think, by Mr. Townsend, in the use of plows 
instead of hoes. Mr. T. has also proved that sugar cane 
will grow well, and has put up a small mill, and made 
some sugar. The cane matures fifteen joints and granu- 
lates well. 

How Much Lime Will an Acre of Land Bear 
WITHOUT Injury? 

[New York American Agriculturist, 9:207; July, 1850] 

[June ?, 1850] 

This is a question often asked and as often answered 
in various ways. Some persons contend that no more 
than fifty bushels of slacked lime should ever be used at 
once, while others are of the opinion that it is better 
to put on 100 bushels at first than to make two or three 



384 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

jobs of it; and that there is no danger of an over-dose; 
while, on the other hand, it is alledged that too much will 
kill the land. Now, how much is "too much?" This 
depends much upon the nature of the soil. 

The largest amount within my knowledge, was applied 
by James P. Corbin,^ Esq., of Caroline county, Virginia, 
upon cold, clayey land, known in that region as "pewtery 
land," because, when wet, it seems to run together some- 
what like melted pewter, with a glistening surface. Upon 
two acres, he put 1,600 bushels, and plowed deep, drained 
well, and planted in corn, and made a good crop. It was 
then sowed in wheat, and when I saw it in April, it looked 
far better than any upon adjoining land, and about two 
thirds as good as that upon which guano was applied — 
one costing $64 and the other $5 an acre. I cannot advise 
others to follow suit, though the experiment, so far, has 
proved that some land cannot be "killed with lime." S. 

Easy Method of Drawing Water from a Deep Well. 

[New York American Agriculturist, 9:207; July, 1850] 

[June, 1850] 

One of the best pieces of mechanism that I have seen 
for this purpose, was applied to a well 80 feet deep, by 
W. P. Carmichael, at his mother's, Mrs. C's. residence 
on the Sand Hills, near Augusta, Georgia. It is upon the 
same plan as the simple hoisting apparatus of a store; 
or that described at p. 177 of the current volume ; that is, 
an endless rope, to which two buckets are attached, pass- 
ing over a wheel, about six feet in diameter, which turns 
the barrel upon which the rope is wound. A hinged lid, 
on top of the well curb, directly over each bucket, is 
thrown back as the bucket comes up, and as soon as clear, 
falls, and the bucket is eased back and stands upon it 
till wanted again. 

A boy a dozen years old can draw water with this 

' James P. Corbin, first vice-president of the Rappahannock River 
Agricultural and Mechanical Society. The Plough, the Loom, and 
the A7ivil, 6:482 (February, 1854). 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1850 385 

apparatus without fatigue. A pipe leads from a tub by 
the side of the well to the stable, about 150 yards off, 
thus affording a convenient watering place for the stock. 

R. 
A Virginia Housewife. 

[New York American Agriculturist, 9:227; July, 1850] 

[June ?, 1850] 

Some of our northern readers suppose that all at the 
south, entitled to the rank of ladies, never take upon 
themselves household cares ; that is, none of them are 
housewives, in the sense which they are quaintly de- 
scribed in Tusser. A housewife 

"Who seemeth in labor to equal the pains 
Of husband who striveth to bring in the gains." 
and again : 

"Though in field good husband it is needful should be, 
Good housewife within is as useful as he." 
Just such a one, at least, is one of my Virginia acquaint- 
ances. She is a lady in every acceptation of the word — 
wife of a wealthy gentleman who resides in one of those 
elegant mansions upon the banks of James River, upon 
one of the six first-settled estates in the ancient colony 
of Virginia. Notwithstanding she has numerous serv- 
ants to do her bidding, yet no matron of a New-England 
farmhouse is more of a housewife than this lady. 

On a recent visit to this most lovely and interesting 
family, I found the lady in her kitchen, personally super- 
intending the operation of putting up the lard of fifty 
porkers, for family use — a duty as she assured me, 
which she had not failed to attend to but once while she 
had been mistress of that house, and in all the time, 
never had failed to have sweet lard at all seasons, the 
great secret of which lies in personal superintendance, 
to know that it is cleanly rendered and well cooked, and 
put up, not too hot, in sweet tubs, (oak is the best wood,) 
or good stone jars, and these put away in a cool place. 
True, the time has not been a very long one, for she is 



386 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

yet a young, as well as a very handsome housewife ; but 
she has been the mother of nineteen children, thirteen of 
whom are living, and every morning "rise up and call 
her blessed." Need I add that the children are an honor 
to such a mother, or that her noble husband "knoweth 
and esteemeth his treasure," as a good wife always is a 
treasure to him who deserveth her ? 

"Now out of this matter this lesson I add, 
Where ten wives are better, ten more are more 
sad." 

And this is not a solitary instance, but a fair sample of 
the way in which the highly-educated, polished ladies of 
southern planters "Looketh after the ways of their own 
household." The exceptions are among those who have 
been spoiled, (not educated,) in fashionable boarding 
schools. Solon. 

Mr. Robinson's Tour. — No. 20. 

[New York American Agriculturist, 9:255-56; Aug., 1850] 

[June ?, 1850] 

Benefits of Railroads to Agricidture. — Having given 
an article upon this subject, as illustrated by the New- 
York and Erie Railroad,^ I now propose to give another 
of similar character upon the South-Carolina Railroad, 
which connects the city of Charleston by three branches 
to one stem, with Camden, Columbia, and Hamburg, and 
thence to Augusta, Georgia, and all the Georgia railroads. 

I left Charleston upon my tour of examination on the 
14th. of Feburary, which some of my readers at the 
north will perhaps remember as a severe cold day, while 
here it was mild and pleasant and free from snow, which 
never incommodes this road as it does some of those at 
the north. It is but an act of justice for me to say that 
I had been provided with a "free pass" by the president 
of the company. Colonel Gadsden,^ which I understood 

* Printed ante, 314 ff. 

' James Gadpden, railroad president, promoter of Southern na- 
tionalism, minister to Mexico. Born May 15, 1788, at Charleston; 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1850 387 

had been ordered by a vote of directors, in consequence 
of my connection with the American Agriculturist. I have 
some reason to believe that I owe this to my respected 
friend Colonel Wade Hampton. I certainly look upon it 
as a compliment to my labors in the cause of agricultural 
improvement, and a mark of high respect to the agricul- 
tural press. 

Now, kind reader, if you please, let us journey to- 
gether. We leave the Charleston Hotel, (one of the best 
in the Union,) in a large omnibus, which is worthy of 
notce and commendation, at nine o'clock, and drive about 
a mile to the depot, principally along a plank road, re- 
cently laid down in King street, and though not quite 
equal to a "Russ pavement in the goodly city of New 
York," it is far better than the deep sands of Charleston. 
The neatness and order of the depot is somewhat in con- 
trast with that of Boston and other places ; but the cars 
are pretty fair, and it is worthy of remark, that the con- 
ductors of all the passenger trains I was upon, (and I 
believe it comprises nearly the whole,) are among the 
most gentlemanly, well-bred, kind and accommodating 
officers of my acquaintance. At ten, we are under way; 
the Hamburg train a head and the Columbia train follow- 
ing within half amile, so that both are at Branchville at 
the same time. Along the first five or miles, we see a 
succession of vegetable gardens, but, few or no farm 
houses, for the reason that no white person can live out 
of the smoke of the city fires, during summer, on account 
of the extreme unhealthiness of the country. 

The road now passes through an almost unbroken for- 
est of flat, sandy, wet land, of pines and scrubby cypress, 
62 miles to Branchville, where the Hamburg and Colum- 
bia trains part company. Thence to Hamburg is 74 

died December 26, 1858. Served in the War of 1812. Became a 
colonel in 1820. President of Louisville, Cincinnati, and Charleston 
Railroad, 1840-1850. Interested in a southern railway to the Pa- 
cific and, as minister to Mexico, negotiated for the purchase of land 
for the route. See sketch in Dictionary of American Biography, 
7:83-84. 



388 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

miles and to Columbia 68 miles, with another branch, 
taking off 25 miles below Columbia, and 105 from 
Charleston, and running up to Camden, 37 miles, or in 
all, 142, the three branches making a total of 241 miles. 
From Columbia, there are two roads building, which will 
soon be in operation and produce a wonderful effect upon 
the agricultural industry of North and South Carolina. 

One of these roads is to extend 109 miles to Charlotte, 
N. C, through a rich farming country, far from naviga- 
ble water, and the other one to Greenville, S. C, with its 
branches, will be 160 miles long, mostly through a rich 
cotton and corn country, and lately found to be very pro- 
ductive in wheat, and only wanting market facilities to 
make it a very productive and healthy farming region. 

From the end of the Hamburg branch, the Georgia 
Railroad to Atlanta, 171 miles, and the Atlantic and 
Western Railroad, 138 miles to Chatanoogee, making 445 
miles from Charleston, in a direct line towards Nash- 
ville, Ten., are now in successful operation, and have al- 
ready benefitted the rich agricultural region through 
which they pass more than the whole road has cost. 
From Branchville to Aikin, 56 miles, the quality of the 
soil and appearance of the country somewhat improves, 
and is more settled, though but sparsely. The traveller 
is constantly impressed with the idea that he is passing 
through the wild forests of some new country, instead 
of along one of the oldest railroads in the United States, 
and through one of the oldest states. From Charleston 
to Aikin, 118 miles, the road has one gradual rise, and is 
there 513 feet above tide water. Here we descend 176 
feet down an inclined plane, 2,640 feet long, towards 
Hamburg, and down 197 feet more through 18 miles to 
that place, which is 140 feet above tide. Six miles from 
Aikin, we pass the neat little granite imitation gothic 
depot of Granitsville, one of the most beautiful and flour- 
ishing manufacturing villages in the Union ; which prob- 
ably never would have been in existence if the railroad 
had not been previously built. This place is well worthy 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1850 389 

of a visit from every intelligent traveller, and offers 
strong evidence of the benefits of railroads to agricul- 
ture ; for, where facilities of transportation are most con- 
venient and cheap, unless the soil is unforbidding, it will 
be improved, and where manufactories are located and 
flourishing, there will agriculture be found most im- 
proving. 

The trip from Charleston to Hamburg, 136 miles, is 
Sy2 hours, and price of passage, $5. This road was char- 
tered in 1828, and in 1830 the first locomotive was put in 
operation. This was about the first application of steam 
upon railroads in the United States. In 1833, the road 
was opened to Hamburg, and was then the longest road 
in the world. This was the first railroad in the United 
States upon which the mail was transported. 

The Columbia branch was commenced in 1838 and fin- 
ished in 1842, and the Camden branch some years later. 
The following figures will show the increasing usefulness 
of the road : — 

In 1834, the number of bales of cotton transported, was 
24,567; in 1835, 34,760; 1836, 28,497; 1837, 34,395; 1838, 
35,346; 1839, 52,585; 1840, 58,496; 1841, 54,064; 1842, 
92,336; 1843, 128,047; 1844, 186,638; 1845, 197,657; 
1846, 186,271; 1847, 134,302; 1848, 274,364; 1849, 
339,996 — showing an increase, in sixteen years, in this 
one article, of 315,429 bales over the number transported 
the first year. What a vast number of horses and men, 
the carriage of the last year, alone, would have with- 
drawn from cultivation, to transport all these bales in 
wagons! The proportionate increase in some other 
things has been equally great. 

In consequence of the facilities of getting turpentine to 
market, which formerly would not pay transportation by 
wagons, a few individuals began to levy contributions 
upon some of the valuless pine forests, and in 1846, the 
railroads brought down 48 barrels; in 1847, 3,189 bbls; 
in 1848, 5,753 bbls; in 1849, 13,918 bbls. 

In 1849, 66,904 bushels of corn were carried, and 



390 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

1,507 bbls. flour, though most of that was carried into 
instead of out of the country. But in the same year, 
1,584 head of cattle, mostly beef, and 3,353 hogs, mostly 
fat, and 328 sheep, and 977 horses were carried; and 
16,632 bales of domestic cotton goods were brought down 
from the interior factories ; not one of which would have 
reached the sea shore, if this railroad had never been 
built. 

The increase of amount received for freight has been 
upon the same scale. In 1834, the receipts for all freight 
was $83,214.44; in 1844, $306,155.71; in 1849, $621,- 
990.32; in 1834, the number of passengers was 26,649, 
giving $79,050.35; in 1849, the number was 92,713, and 
amount, $223,325.42. The rate of charge for passage 
is four cents a mile for all distances under 125 miles, and 
five dollars for all longer distances. 

These rates, so much higher than northern roads, are 
contended for, because, unlike those roads, this could gain 
no ivay passengers by lower fare, for the very good rea- 
son that they are not there to gain. 

The rates of freight upon the lightest class goods, are 
eight cents per cubic foot; and upon boxes, bales, &c., 45 
cents per 100 lbs. Upon coffee, sugar, pork, lard, and 
heavy articles, 25 cents per 100 lbs. 

Upon all grain and seeds, (except oats,) in sacks, 
seven cents per bushel. Oats, five cents. Upon shovels, 
spades, scythes, brooms, &c., 25 cents per dozen. 

Upon plows, wheelbarrows, cornshellers and straw 
cutters, 50 cents each. 

Upon the very things, particularly plows, that should 
be carried almost freight free, the heaviest duty is levied. 
Upon a plow that costs only $1.37Vo, at your store, in 
New York, and a sea freight of only 121/^ cents, the 
farmer must pay one third of its ivhole cost to get it a 
feiv miles up the railroad. I call the attention of directors 
of this, and also other roads, to the policy of encouraging 
the farmers to use improved implements and fertilisers 
to increase their products, by offering to transport them 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1850 391 

at more nominal freights, and thereby ultimately increas- 
ing their own business profits, and greatly benefiting 
agriculture. 

The freight charged for carrying a single horse or ox, 
is $8. For two, $12, for four, $20, for ten, $30, for 
twenty, $50. 

The road is well furnished with cars and engines, and 
the Columbia and Camden branches laid with T rails, of 
35 to 56 lbs. per yard and the other part is being relaid 
with the same kind of rails, 51 lbs. per yard, so that the 
country has the prospect of a good road, and if the direc- 
tors will give them cheap freights, the benefits to agricul- 
ture incalculably will be great. 

It is proper that I should remark that I am indebted to 
William H. Bartless, Esq., one of the polite gentlemanly 
officers of the company, most of the statistical informa- 
tion herein given. 

I also had the pleasure and advantage of the company 
of the Hon. H. W. Conner,^ president of the company, 
upon a passage from Hamburg round to Columbia, and 
through his politeness learned much of the history of the 
road. The inclined plane has been a very expensive af- 
fair; it is now operated by a descending locomotive at- 
tached to one end of a wire cable, the other end being 
fast to the ascending train, and the middle working over 
a drum at the top of the hill. This plane could be avoided 
without difficulty. 

There are no rock excavations, deep cuts, nor high em- 
bankments, of any magnitude on the whole road ; though 
there is some pretty long bridging across the Congaree 
River and Swamp. One of the most striking things no- 

' Henry William Connor, born neau Amelia Courthouse, Prince 
George County, Virginia, August 5, 1793. Major in Creek Indian 
War, 1814. Settled at Fallstown, Iredell County, North Carolina, 
and engaged in planting. Served in Congress, 1821-1841. Member 
of state senate, 1848-1850. One of the directors of a company 
formed to experiment with lighting the city of Charleston with gas, 
1849. De Bow's Review, 7:346 (October, 1849); Biograjyhical 
Directory of the American Congress, 841. 



392 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

ticed by a northern traveller, upon all southern railroads, 
is the difference in the appearance of the depots and more 
particularly the way stations. However, it is only the 
natural difference between a white man and a negro. The 
difference between neatness and thriftiness, filth and 
dilapidation. It is a question of some importance in an 
agricultural point of view, what will be done or, if any- 
thing can be done, to reclaim all the waste lands that we 
see along this road, lying idle and unproductive, and in 
a great degree uninhabited and uninhabitable, on account 
of its malarious character. 

In coming up from Charleston to Akin, we see nothing 
that looks like a hill ; and upon the Columbia branch, none 
till near the Congaree, and only small patches of clear- 
ing, and but two or three unimportant towns. The mass 
of the land, in the lower part of the state, is in the for- 
rest, some of it thin sandy upland and some rich swamp 
that, if once drained, would be very productive in cotton, 
corn, potatoes, or rice. 

The greatest drawback to improvement is the disposi- 
tion of many persons to buy up all the land that joins 
them; as for example, my friend Major Felder,^ of 
Orangeburg, who boasts of owning fifty thousand acres. 
For what purpose he desires to accumulate such a vast 
tract of unproductive land, is past my comprehension — 
certainly not for his children — and I don't believe he will 
live long enough to saw up all the timber in his half 
dozen sawmills. Besides the unhealthiness, however, of 
a large portion of those lands, between Charleston and 
Akin, there is another thing to prevent their settlement 
and improvement by individuals. The country is so fiat 
that it requires some great and general plan of draining, 
to free it from the surface water, in the first place, and 
this will not be undertaken so long as labor can be more 

' Probably John Myers Felder, born Orangeburg District, South 
Carolina, July 7, 1782; died September 1, 1851. Major of militia 
in War of 1812. State legislator and Congressman. Engaged in 
agricultural pursuits and in the lumber business. Biographical 
Directory of the American Congress, 960. 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1850 393 

profitably employed upon soils naturally more dry and 
rich. The fact is, there is entirely too much land in the 
United States for the present population. 



Wheat Versus Cattle ; 

Which is the most profitable for the Western 

Farmer? 

[Chicago Prairie Farmer, 10:278-79; Sep., 1850] 

[July 17, 1850] 

Messrs. Editors : I have been so much absent for two 
years that I may not be competent to answer this ques- 
tion. A long time ago I had the pleasure of communicat- 
ing with your readers. Of late my connections with the 
American Agriculturist has demanded all my time. On 
my return home finding another failure in the wheat in 
this county, I am induced to call attention to this subject 
once more. Is wheat-growing profitable? or rather, is it 
as profitable as stock raising might be made in such a 
grass country as ours ? Can you compete with Maryland 
and Virginia in wheat, any better than they can compete 
with you in cattle and good beef. I speak of the tide 
water region where transportation is so easy. True the 
crop sometimes fails there. It is badly injured by rust 
this year. — But the cattle look rusty every year. Not so 
here. The wheat crop will be short there. In Western 
New York, about a Fair average. In Ohio, much injured 
by drouth ; last year it was ruined by the rust. In Michi- 
gan, this year it will turn out better than farmers ex- 
pected during the Spring. Corn I noticed, as I passed 
through, looks very rank and growing, though generally 
small. 

In this great wheat growing region of Northern Indi- 
ana the winter wheat is as handsome as could be desired ; 
but unfortunately there is but little growing. It has here- 
tofore been so much killed with flies, drouth. Winter 
freezing, or Spring thawing, or want of snow, or too much 
snow, or, if escaping all these, the rust ; that farmers have 



394 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

been discouraged from sowing in the Fall and turned 
their attention more to Spring wheat. This has occasion- 
ally been injured by the chinch bug heretofore. Owing to 
the great drouth this year it was late in coming forward, 
and in this county, now, there are more bugs than wheat. 
Fields just in bloom look like ripened grain, and the smell 
of decaying straw, or dying bugs, is strong enough to 
knock down an elephant. This will affect the health. — 
They are now attacking the oats and corn. The uncom- 
mon strength and rank growth of the latter will prevent 
any serious injury; but the loss of wheat will be felt 
severely. This constant failure should induce the people 
of all this great grass growing region of country, after 
battling fifteen years with all the ills of life that wheat is 
heir to, to sit down and count the cost, in days of harvest 
toil, of all the bushels of wheat ever grown upon these 
noted "wheat lands of the West." Has the husbandman 
been paid for his labor, or does he chew the cud of bitter 
disappointment? He certainly has had to chew many a 
hard crust of bitter bread from shrunken wheat, and yet 
he has faith more than equal to a grain of mustard seed, 
for he still casts his wheat upon the waters trusting it 
will come after many days. 

Now, my friends, is it not time for you to begin to 
think that wheat is not the most natural and profitable 
staple crop of this part of Uncle Sam's big pasture? Does 
any land in the world produce better beef than the prai- 
ries of Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin and Iowa? Grass, 
either wild or cultivated, is ever growing luxuriantly upon 
an inexhaustible soil. Indian corn, the best crop in the 
world for making beef, rarely, if ever fails. If your 
winters are longer than in Virginia, yet you can winter 
stock cheaper than there; because, here grass grows 
freely and there only by the hardest exertion of cultiva- 
tion. Your cattle are already far superior to theirs, yet 
how much might they be improved. 

I wish I could exhibit to you a herd now advertised in 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1850 395 

this paper for sale upon the farm of Mr. Sheafe,^ on the 
Hudson River below Poughkeepsie, to prove to you this 
fact, and show you what mountains of beef might be 
made to move about upon our rich prairie lands, if a por- 
tion of this herd might be brought here to infuse some of 
their good qualities into the common cattle of the coun- 
try. I do honestly believe that if that bull "Exeter" was 
presented to the State, it would be of more value to the 
people than a present of ten thousand dollars in cash. 

It is true that some spirited individuals have hereto- 
fore introduced some valuable cattle, and have failed to 
realize a fair compensation for their expense and trouble, 
but that was when every man had a grain of wheat in 
his eye, so he could see nothing but great profits from 
great crops, except when he saw great disappointments 
from great failures. But would it be so now ? And after 
so many failures to your rich, growing wheat, is it not 
worth while to grow wise, and make the attempt to make 
some of the down-easters think we can grow as good a 
herd of Durham cattle upon the Western prairies as can 
be grown upon the weekly pastures along the Hudson 
River ? 

To do this we must have the stock to start with. If I 
had not already made arrangements to be absent from 
the country the next year, I should be willing to join any 
gentleman who felt disposed to try the experiment fully 
of growing good cattle in the West for an Eastern mar- 
ket, which I am well satisfied may be done more profitably 
than growing wheat for the same market. If any of your 
readers are of the same opinion, I have only to say that 
the sale of Mr. Sheaf e's cattle will afford a better opportu- 
nity to obtain animals of pure blood and excellent quality 

^ J. F. Sheafe, a prominent cattle breeder. Specialized in Short- 
horns. His stock was frequently mentioned in the American Agri- 
culturist, 1850-1851. He was a life member of the New York State 
Agricultural Society. New York State Agricultural Society Trans- 
actions, 1854, vol. 14:xvii. See also The Plough, the Loom, and the 
Anvil, 3:179 (September, 1850); American Farmer, 4th series, 6:48 
(August, 1850). 



396 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

at fair prices, than is often met with, as the owner is a 
gentleman of wealth now on a tour in Europe and has 
instructed Mr. Allen to sell the whole herd without re- 
serve. That it is a very superior one I am willing to cer- 
tify, if that is of value to anybody desiring to purchase. 
I beg pardon for spinning so long a yarn out of so little 
material. Solon Robinson. 

Crown Point Lake Co., la., July 17, 1850. 

A Specimen of Agricultural Knowledge — Are Corn 
Cobs Good Manure? 

[New York American Agriculturist, 9:250; Aug., 1850] 

[July ?, 1850] 

This question was lately put to me by a gentleman at 
Jackson, North Carolina. I answered yes, of course ; that 
I considered them highly valuable, &c. To this, another 
man put in an objection. He cautioned the first person 
not to use them too freely. If he did, he would not make 
any corn; "because," said he, "I tried them last season, 
and where I put them on thickest, I lost all my corn." 

"Ah! how do you account for that?" said I. 

"Oh! easy enough. There is so much lime in cobs, it 
burnt up the land so that the growing corn all died." 

"So much lime in cobs!" I exclaimed; "Well, that is 
new to me. Are you sure that was the cause?" 

"Oh, yes; certainly. What else could it be? I don't 
believe much in lime, no how." 

"Perhaps you did not plow your cobs in deep enough. 
What kind of land was it?" 

"Well, it was good strong clay land, and they were 
plowed as deep as we ever plow in this country. How 
deep would you have plowed?" 

"Ten or twelve inches?" 

"Te7i or twelve inches! Well, I don't want you to plow 
my land. You'd turn the soil all under so deep it never 
would do any good again." 

My dear Sir, I would not only plow that deep, but I 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1850 397 

would use the subsoil plow, also, and then I don't think 
that the liine in corn cobs would hurt your land." 

"You may talk as much as you like, but I know it was 
the lime in the cobs that killed my corn ; and lime will 
kill any land in this climate ; and as for a subsoil plow, 
I wouldn't let you bring one on my farm; and I don't 
believe they were ever of any benefit to land in the 
world." 

"What sort of plows do you use, my friend, and how 
much team to a plow?" 

"Why, the common sort of plows in this country; and 
I never want any plows on my land that one horse can't 
pull. I've seen enough of your new-fangled Yankee plows 
— I b'leive they're just poison to the land, I do; and as 
for plaster and guano, that you talk so much about, I've 
tried both and they a'n't worth a cent; no, nor lime 
either." 

Now, I pray you to take notice that this wise man is 
not only a farmer, but he is an overseer — one who hires 
for high wages — lets himself and his knowledge and skill 
to another ; sets himself up as a competent teacher of the 
right mode of farming, manuring, and managing land; 
and, as you see, understands "agricultural chemistry," 
about upon a par with nine tenths of his class ; and yet 
this man has charge of an estate that is probably worth 
seventy or eighty thousand dollars. How can a country 
improve when nearly all the agricultural operations are 
conducted by just such bigoted ignoramuses as this man 
— men that ridicule the idea of learning about farming in 
a book. And not only that, but when such men as the 
Messrs. Burgwyn's are conducting their enlightened op- 
erations right before their eyes, and, by means of lime, 
turning old broom-sedge fields into the most luxuriant 
clover pastures, they not only ridicule them because the 
first "crops don't pay cost," but contend that lime and 
deep plowing will ruin any land. How can you teach a 
man agricultural science, that contends that "lime in 
corn cobs" killed his corn, and who never reads an agri- 
cultural book or paper? S. R. 



398 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 
Mr. Robinson's Tour. — No. 21. 

[New York American Agricrdturist, 9:289-90; Sep., 1850] 

[July ?, 1850] 

Virginia Fencing. — This term is generally understood 
to mean a crooked or worm fence, of split rails. But in 
some parts of the state, that kind of fence is least com- 
mon. I noticed in Gloucester county a very good kind 
that may well be imitated elsewhere. It is made with 
alternate long and short pannels, of lengths of five and 
ten feet, six and twelve feet, and three and ten or twelve. 
I like the last best. It makes a fence so near straight 
that it takes up but little room, which is a consideration 
too much lost sight of in good lands. 

This fence may be staked and ridered, or staked and 
capped, if necessary. It is most commonly built upon a 
bank, as, in fact, are nearly all the fences upon the "low 
lands" in that and adjoining counties and in the Rappa- 
hannock Valley, upon the west side of the river, particu- 
larly. This ditching and banking for fence may be very 
well upon wet lands, but it is often carried to extremes. 
I have often seen it six or eight feet, and even higher, 
with sometimes no rails on top, and then it is no fence. 
Sometimes three or four rails, and then it is about half 
a fence, and sometimes eight or ten rails, and then it is 
a good fence; and so it would be if there were no ditch 
and bank. Where cedar grows, instead of rails, brush is 
often used, wattled together between stakes and makes a 
good, durable fence. It will last, with slight repairs, 20 
years, if the stakes are of cedar or chestnut, both of 
which abound in Lower Virginia. 

Another kind of wattle fence is made of poles, the 
stakes being set eight or ten feet apart. There are a few 
hedges made chiefly of cedar, and is generally a pretty 
good fence against cattle, except where the trees die, as 
is often the case, but no barrier against hogs, which 
iilthy bmites are still permitted to run in the roads, not- 
withstanding the great advancement mankind have made 
in civilisation. 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1850 399 

At Hazlewood estate, in Caroline county, the late resi- 
dence of Colonel John Taylor,^ the oldest agricultural 
writer in America, which is now occupied by his heir and 
namesake, there are miles of cedar hedges, for which the 
Philadelphia Agricultural Society gave him a gold medal 
in 1819. It is said that it was then a beautiful and good 
fence. But, like all tree-growing plants used for hedg- 
ing, it has overgrown itself. It has been found impossi- 
ble to keep it trimmed down, and as it increases in height, 
as a matter of course, nature prunes the lower limbs. 
The great error, however, in planting this hedge, was, 
setting it upon a high bank, which has made it more diffi- 
cult to trim, and keep in order. 

There is another farm six miles below Fredricksburg, 
on the opposite side of the Rappahannock, upon both 
sides of the road, which looks beautiful at a little dis- 
tance, but as you approach, you find it full of unsightly 
gaps and dead trees. Like that at Hazlewood, it was 
planted upon a bank, and was not trimmed down enough 
when young. There are a good many other cedar hedges 
in the state that I have noticed in my travels, none of 
which are fences. 

An excellent fence very common in Virginia, is made 
in this manner: A pair of stout cedar, chestnut or 
locust stakes are set strong, just wide enough apart to 
admit a large rail between, having a two-inch round 
tenon upon the top of each, to receive a strong cap, upon 
which a heavy rail is sometimes laid after the space below 
is filled up with rails, lapping one upon another, between 
the stakes. This kind of fence is most commonly built 
on a ditch bank. In fact, it seems in some districts as 
though the people have no idea of ever building a fence 

' John Taylor of Caroline, planter, lawyer. United States Senator, 
Born in Virginia, 1753; died at his estate in Caroline County, Au- 
gust 21, 1824. Served in the Revolution. Political and agricultural 
writer. First president of the Virginia Agricultural Society, 1811. 
Author of Ai-ator (1813), a series of agricultural essays. Disciple 
of agrarian liberalism. See sketch in Dictionary of American Biog- 
raphy, 18:331-33; Tyler (ed.), Encyclopedia of Virginia Biography, 
2:88. 



400 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

except they first dig a ditch, whether the land is wet or 
dry. The best style of fence upon these banks would be 
palisades, which might be made as follows: — Cut the 
stuff four feet long, of lasting wood, and split it the size 
of rails, and sharpen the upper ends ; set these in the line 
of the centre of the bank, and throw the dirt around 
them. This is done by one hand to put them, one at a 
time, in place and hold them, while another throws dirt 
enough around to secure them. They should stand about 
four inches apart, and project above the top of the bank 
about two and a half feet. No animal will ever climb 
over such a fence from the bottom of a ditch, nor vice 
versa. The fence will be better, if a strip of board is 
nailed along the face of the stakes, about four inches 
from the top as that prevents any one piece being re- 
moved out of place. Perhaps a wire stretched along and 
nailed to each stake, would be cheaper than wood strips. 
This kind of fence will be found to be a very cheap and 
good one, wherever the owner has, or will dig a ditch. It 
takes less timber than a rail fence, and will last as long 
with less repairs. I would recommend gentlemen who 
are troubled with cattle pushing through hedges, to 
stretch a wire along through the limbs, or perhaps two 
of them. Generally speaking, the Virginia fences are 
very good, and in such abundance that they are a most 
enormous tax upon industry. Solon Robinson. 

Sketches of Canada. 

[New York American Agriculturist, 9:307-9; Oct., 1850] 

[August 19, 1850] 

On the 13th of August, I left Buffalo for a flying visit 
into that terra incognita to many of your readers, now 
known as "Canada West," a designation that, like many 
other improvements, does not improve greatly upon the 
ancient and well-known name of Upper Canada. But 
we won't quarrel about names until after "annexation," 
and then we will call it "the State of Ontario." 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1850 401 

In leaving Buffalo, we take the cars for Niagara Falls, 
twenty-two miles over a cold, flat, clay soil, originally, 
and still, in part, covered mostly with oak, beech, and 
maple, and other kindred timber, and little of it culti- 
vated in a manner to begin to show its capability of 
producing small grains and grass. I noticed farmers 
along the road busy cutting oats; and occasional spots 
were white and fragrant with the bloom of buckwheat. 
Corn, to one from a southern corn region, looked very 
diminutive, though of a rank-green hue, and now just in 
blossom. Orchards few, trees scrubby, fruit small, as a 
general thing. The railroad and cars upon this route 
are good; fare, 75 cents, time, ll^ hours. 

The Falls Village is a place capable of affording a 
great and cheap water power; and if half the energy 
were displayed in turning it to some account, that is 
devoted to plucking the gulls that annually flock there, 
it would soon become a great manufacturing town, fur- 
nishing employment to thousands of laborers, and add- 
ing value to all the farming land in the vicinity. 

From the Buffalo road, passengers for Lewiston and 
Canada step into the cars of the Lockport road, which 
stands ready in the open street, where all are disem- 
barked, instead of a commodious depot under shelter, as 
is the fashion in some Christian countries. The road 
now runs just along the very edge of the frightful pre- 
cipitous bank, and the boiling flood that rolls between 
the perpendicular walls of that immense chasm below the 
Falls. We begin to bear off from the stream at the Sus- 
pension Bridge, a structure that looks like a frail ribbon 
stretched from bank to bank, but yet is capable of carry- 
ing over heavy teams, elevated more than two hundred 
feet above the river, which seems here to be struggling 
to force its way through a gorge too narrow to admit the 
mass of water that pours down the great fall, three miles 
above. At the Junction, three and a half miles from 
Lewiston, we exchange from the wretched cars of the 
Lockport road, to others not much worse, drawn by 



402 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

horses down the long hill, to the steamboat landing on 
the Niagara. A most charming agricultural scene opens 
to view, while descending this hill. The farms upon the 
great Lewiston plain of alluvial lands, are spread out as 
it were, like a picture at our feet. Good farm houses, 
barns, orchards, stubble, and oat fields of golden hue, 
contrasting with the dark green of maize and grass, and 
all interspersed with groves of forest trees, and flanked 
by the village and river, and opposite shore, and town, 
and heights of Queenston, form a whole that is delight- 
ful, and never fails to gratify the eye of every traveller 
who has a taste for rural scenes. 

The time required to make this trip upon these rail- 
roads from Buffalo, is upwards of three hours — a little 
over ten miles an hour — which is rather slow railroad 
travelling, but decidedly better than staging over the 
same route thirty years ago. 

The steamboat for Hamilton, left the Lewiston wharf 
at one, crossed over and touched at Queenston, and then 
down the river, stopping at Youngstown, on the Yankee 
side, and Niagara opposite, where the decaying wharves 
and warehouses bear witness that the spirit of enterprise 
and improvement, which animates the people of one side 
of this river, does not, for some unknown cause, affect 
the other side in the same way. 

Directly after leaving these towns, we pass between 
the British and American monuments of wickedness and 
folly that disfigure the mouth of this beautiful river, 
bearing bristling cannon pointed at each other, where 
nothing but emblems of peace and productiveness of a 
rich soil and healthy clime should, of right, ever be seen 
to divide brethren from the same hearth stone, into two 
belligerent nations. A few miles after entering Lake 
Ontario, and turning north along the west shore, we run 
along side of the piers of the mouth of the Welland Canal, 
a work of monumental form to the mind that can conceive 
the project of lifting fleets out of Lake Ontario and send- 
ing them over the mountains, into the upper lakes, and 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1850 403 

in return loading them with the produce of western 
farms, and sending them direct to Europe. 

The farmer, while tilling his crops in Wisconsin or Illi- 
nois, thinks but little that this canal exerts a direct influ- 
ence in his favor, and tends to enhance the value of every 
bushel of grain he produces for sale. Yet, such is the 
fact, and such will ever be the fact with every canal, and 
railroad, plank road, or improved facility of getting prod- 
uce from the place of growth, toward the place of con- 
sumption. Yet farmers, almost everywhere, are reluc- 
tant or dilatory to lend assistance towards any such im- 
provement, or even to keep neighborhood or market town 
roads in decent repair. 

We were about five hours making this forty-mile trip 
from Lewiston to Hamilton, against a head wind and a 
very sickish sea. The town lies a mile back from the 
shore at the head of Burlington Bay, which is entered by 
a short canal through the neck of land that divides it 
from the lake. It is said to contain 10,000 inhabitants, 
has some broad, handsome streets, and substantial stone 
and brick buildings, and like all new towns, shows some 
marks of its early Jonah-gourd-like growth. It is located 
upon a handsome inclined plane, which extends from the 
water to the base of the mountain range that skirts the 
lake a mile or two from the shore, which renders many 
of the farms, though picturesque in appearance, very 
much broken. I understand a narrow strip of these 
farms produce peaches, while others totally fail. The 
land between the mountain and shore appears to be a 
sandy loam — that upon the sides and on the table land, 
which spreads out into a broad extent on top of the moun- 
tain, is a stiff, brown clay, and one of the best soils for 
wheat in North America. Owing to continued indisposi- 
tion, while I remained at Hamilton, I was unable to visit 
many of the neighboring farms. 

The agricultural capabilities of the district around 
Hamilton, and on westward towards London and upon 
Grand River, are probably equal to any tract of the same 



404 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

extent upon this continent ; and I believe there are some 
very good farmers; but there is, upon the whole, a very 
great lack of that enterprising spirit which alone can 
bring a rich soil into a high state of culture and produc- 
tiveness. 

On Thursday afternoon, August 15th, I left Hamilton, 
and reached Toronto in four hours, run close along the 
north shore of the lake, where a good many flourishing 
farms are to be seen, if we may judge by what I have 
always considered a good sign, that is, good barns. 

Toronto is also situated up a bay, though not back 
from the shore like Hamilton. One of the most prominent 
objects in approaching this city is the Lunatic Asylum, 
and next the extensive, commons lying waste in front of 
it, though not quite so worthless to the world as the bar- 
racks and their occupants, also seen in the same view. 
What a number of persons might support themselves 
by cultivating this tract of rich, alluvial land now lying 
idle, or only serving to show off the trappings of the few 
swords not yet made into pruning hooks and plow shares. 
I was disappointed in finding Toronto so much more of 
a lively, thriving business place than I expected. The 
population is about 27,000, which, I presume, includes 
somewhat extensive suburbs. One of the best farming 
regions of the province lies contiguous, and gives trade 
and wealth to this city. 

By the politeness of Mr. McDougal,^ editor and pro- 
prietor of the Canadian Agriculturist and the North 
American, I had an opportunity of viewing the farms 
some ten miles out "Yonge street." This name is given 
the continuation of the principal street leading north, in 

^William McDougall, born in York (Toronto), Upper Canada, 
January 25, 1822; died at Ottawa, May 29, 1905. Attorney and 
Bolicitor, Member of Canadian parliament. Commissioner of crown 
lands, 1862-1864. Minister of public works, 1867-1869. Founded 
the North American, 1850. Keenly interested in agriculture. Ex- 
hibited Shetland ponies at the Ohio State Cattle Show, 1850. Ameri- 
can Agriadturist, 9:375 (December, 1850); Wallace, W. Stewart 
(comp.), Dictionary of Canadian Biography, 254 (Toronto, 1926). 



,-#^i 



Tfi 









\ 



Solon Robinson, 1854 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1850 405 

the direction of Lake Simcoe, which is about 37 miles dis- 
tant. It has been graded and Macadamised upon a 
straight line, without regard to any obstacles, as creeks 
or ravines that might intervene, and like a great many 
similar foolish efforts to make a road straight, going 
through and over hills, instead of going around them, it 
has caused a great outlay of money in places where a 
slight bend would have saved the largest portion. It is a 
government work, and is kept in repair by tolls. The 
farms are laid out one fourth of a mile wide and one and 
a fourth deep ; then comes another road, and so on. These 
strips are called "concessions," and are numbered ac- 
cording to situation. Cross roads, also, run a mile and a 
fourth apart ; so the whole country is divided into squares 
of a mile and a quarter. This is an old French fashion, 
adopted, at first, along the streams for the purpose of giv- 
ing a greater number of frontings upon the water. In 
the interior, it certainly is not so perfect a system as the 
United States have, of mile-square sections and square 
subdivisions, all numbered by a systematic rule. 

Leaving Toronto, we ascend very gradually from the 
lake, a couple of miles, and then up a low ridge corre- 
sponding with the curve of the shore, composed of sand, 
gravel, and clay, like the present beach. All the soil below 
the ridge is more spongy than above, though much more 
sandy. The upper level is a rich clay loam, without hills, 
though broken by ravines. Portions of it were covered 
with white pine, and other parts, with hard wood. This 
was made up of maple, beech, elm, ash, hickory, bass- 
wood, butternut, and some other sorts; oaks not being 
plenty. Farms of 200 acres, with a good comfortable 
brick house and out buildings, and good barn, and well 
fenced, and under fair cultivation, averaging 25 bushels 
of wheat, and 35 or 40 bushels of oats, and 200 of pota- 
toes, will sell for about $50 an acre, along this road, 
within ten to twenty miles of the city. Corn is only grown 
for home consumption, and does not probably average 
much more to the acre, than wheat. The soil here is ex- 



406 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

cellent for grass, but the winters occupy half the year, 
and are sometimes very severe. I did not see so many 
cattle as I expected, though I did see a few herds of good- 
looking cows, and some small flocks of fine sheep. As for 
horses, I venture the assertion that I can count a greater 
proportion of good substantial, real serviceable farm 
horses upon this road than upon any other that I have 
ever travelled. 

I observed here the same scarcity of good orchards, 
that I have elsewhere. There are a few rather tasty and 
somewhat ornamental places, but the great portion of 
them show the owners to be very plain, and probably, 
comfortable-living farmers, that have not yet heard of 
"agricultural chemistry," nor "scientific agriculture." 
Almost all we see, reminds us of Auld-Lang-Syne in farm- 
ing, such as we were wont to look upon forty years ago, 
when the old Cary plow used to kick our shins, in Con- 
necticut. The plow in most common use here, is the "Can- 
ada Scotch Plow ;" and any argument endeavoring to con- 
vince these people that there is a better kind, or even any 
kind at all, equal to this, is argument thrown away. There 
are a good many other improvements in agricultural im- 
plements and machinery, that are as a sealed book to the 
Canadian farmers generally, and I fear will continue to 
be so, during the age of the present non-reading gen- 
eration. 

A gentleman by the name of Hurlburt,^ of Toronto, has 

' Samuel Hurlbert, proprietor of a foundry and machine shop, 
and manufacturer of agricultural implements at Prescott, Ontario, 
who patented an improvement for a plow on October 17, 1850, A 
further improvement was patented September 20, 1852, and Hurl- 
bert's plows were shown that year at the Canadian National Ex- 
hibit. Mitchell, J. L., and Loomis, A. 0. (comps.). Grand Trunk 
Railway Gazetteer . . . ayid Biisiness Directory, 1862-63, describes 
his patented plow as "manufactured with an iron beam . . . and 
also, with a wood beam of the usual form. Its chief peculiarity . . . 
is, that the working side of the mould-board is uniformly convex, 
from front to rear, and also, from top to bottom, so that a concave 
arc of a circle applied either horizontally or vertically, will fit in 
every part, while the curve from the point to the tip of the wing is 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1850 407 

spent a good deal of labor upon a machine to go by steam, 
to supersede the plow in some cases, and thinks he has 
now got it so it will work advantageously. The principle 
is more like spading than plowing. I hope with all my 
heart, he may be quite successful. There are many more 
things I might have seen in this part of Canada, and 
much more that I did see, that I might write about ; but 
as I am only out for a "flight," I must plume my wings 
and away. So let us step on board the Princess Royal 
steamer, a very good boat, of the slow and sure line, for 
Kingston, 180 miles northeastward. 

The north shore of Ontario, below Toronto, appears 
dotted along with small farms, upon which that sign of 
prosperous condition, a good barn, is often conspicuous. 
The first town of any note is Port Hope, which is really a 
very hopeful looking place, occupying a smooth valley 
that opens up through the hills with a gradual slope from 
the water. It has an excellent wharf and good-looking 
buildings, and with one exception, I must commend the 
place. "Port Hope whiskey" has long been the most noted 
and abundant article of export from this town, and I fear 
that some of the bricks of its nice looking edifices are 
cemented with the tears of widows and orphans of those 
made drunk upon its wicked abominations. A neat church 
was seen peeping out of the trees upon one of the hills, 
and at the foot of another, upon a grassy, shady plot, on 
the bank of the lake, some dozens of boys and girls were 
making the earth glad with joy, while the setting sun 
gilded the trees over their heads, dancing to the merry 
notes of a poor old blind fiddler, and as we left the wharf, 
carrying away one of their companions, they made the 
earth resound with such cheerful notes as only are heard 
in those spots where dwells rural simplicity. 

such as to turn the furrow perfectly. Among its advantages are: — 
Lightness of Draft — Cleaning well in the most sticky soil — Capa- 
bility of cutting deep as well as shallow — Turning furrow well at 
any speed — Ease of guidance, and — Great durability. A raise is 
attached in front of the coulter to prevent clogging." Letter from 
the Public Library of Toronto. See also post, 510 ff. 



408 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

A few miles further on, and we pass Coburg, another 
thrifty-looking town, containing about 3,000 inhabitants 
and a costly artificial harbor. Many of the Canada towns 
seem to have a pride in one conspicuous public building. 
Coburg is in the enjoyment of this feeling, in a very 
splendid stone edifice. I regretted after it was too late, 
that I had not made arrangements to visit these two 
towns, and if I had known their importance, would have 
done so. 

From here to Kingston, the passage was by night, but 
I was told the coast possessed no great attractions. I 
arrived in this ancient military-looking strong hold, on 
Sunday morning, August 18th, the weather perfectly 
clear, but cold enough to make a fire agreeable, if I could 
get it ; but as that is not convenient, let us ramble out in 
the sunshine, and warm up a few ideas for my next letter. 

Solon Robinson. 

Kingston, Canada, August 19th, 1850. 

Sketches of Canada. 

[New York American Agricultterist, 9:343; Nov., 1850] 

[August 20, 1850] 

Kingston. — There is not much in, nor about this town 
to excite the attention of an agricultural traveller. It is 
situated at the northeast corner of Lake Ontario, in lati- 
tude 44° 15', upon a formation of blue limestone that 
affords a very abundant, cheap material for building, as 
may be seen in the numerous handsome edifices in and 
around the city, which is said to contain 13,000 inhabit- 
ants, counting the large military force stationed here, and 
all that are in, or ought to be in the penitentiary, and 
including all the suburbs. It is in appearance and man- 
ners of the people, very English, and some of their cus- 
toms are very unlike those of our Yankee notions. For 
instance, the times of eating — breakfast at 8 o'clock, 
lunch at 12i/^, dinner at 5, and tea at 8. This custom, 
also, prevails at Toronto and many other places. 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1850 409 

I before remarked that the Canadians have a sort of 
fancy for showing off in one extravagantly-fine public 
building — a sort of Mormon Temple. In this particular, 
Kingston has made a display of the grandest order in her 
market house. It is built in the form of a T, the front 240 
feet, two stories high, with a large dome in the centre, 
affording room enough for all the courts and public offices 
the city will require for five centuries. The end of the 
projection, or bottom of the T, is also two stories, sur- 
mounted by a balcony and clock, and if it stood alone, 
would appear like a large building. The long intervening 
building is the butchers' market above, and sundries in 
the basement. The whole is of beautiful, hammered stone, 
and certainly presents an imposing appearance. There 
are, also, several very handsome stone churches, court 
house, jail, barracks, nunnery, Catholic seminary, hos- 
pitals, storehouses, and dwellings, and a little north of 
the city, fronting the bay, the extensive buildings and 
walls of the penitentiary stand out in bold relief to warn 
the honest man to remain so. Upon the other class, it 
has but little effect, for "A rogue's a rogue for a' that." 

The whole front of the town is fortified in such a man- 
ner, that the whole Yankee nation never would be able to 
take it — until they made the attempt. Two routes of 
navigation to Montreal are open from here, one by the 
river and canals of the rapids of the St. Lawrence, and 
the other by the Rideau Canal and the Ottawa River. 

There is very little wheat raised around Kingston, not- 
withstanding its limestone soil. And I believe very little, 
if any produce, is exported. Grass seems to be the prin- 
cipal crop; but if I may judge from the few cattle I saw 
alive, and the carcasses in market, both cattle and sheep 
are of the small order. Horses are not generally so good 
as at Toronto, and I fancy there are few places where 
they are. Oats are a considerable crop, and are now, Au- 
gust 20th, being harvested, and I suppose will be eaten 
by some other animals besides horses, as I saw several 
signs of "oat meal for sale." Barley is also grown largely. 



410 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

or else it must be imported ; for certainly, it is much used 
after being reduced to a liquid form, to which is added a 
few hops. And I wish it to be distinctly understood, that 
I am not of the opinion that this is the only drink made 
use of by the Canadians. I certainly do believe the pre- 
vailing habit of excessive drinking is one, if not the cause 
of want of energy to improve the agriculture and manu- 
factures of the province. It is a misfortune that rests 
incubus like upon the great body of the people ; and I do 
most respectfully suggest to agricultural societies, to 
offer premiums to all farmers who will dispense with the 
use of all intoxicating drinks upon their farms, as one of 
the means best calculated to arouse a spirit of improved 
agriculture. Another important consideration should be 
to induce farmers to read. This may be done in some 
degree by giving agricultural papers and books with all 
premiums, and to all who become members, as is now the 
case to a limited degree. 

I met, at Kingston, with Mr. Marks, the acting presi- 
dent of the Colonial Agricultural Society, a very respect- 
able and worthy individual, no doubt, but altogether too 
much of the ''ancient and honorable fraternity" of Auld 
Lang Syne, for a station that requires vigor of body and 
intellect, and a little "book knowledge," to infuse a spirit 
into the farmers that no amount of money which parlia- 
ment may grant will ever accomplish. One of the curious 
things one sees here, contrasting with towns in the states, 
is the military, pacing up and down before one's house, 
as sentinels, or in squads, at every corner, or occupying 
many a bar room, or drinking shop, of which there is no 
scarcity. I witnessed a march of somewhere near a thou- 
sand of "Her Majesty's Rifles," through the street, on 
Sunday, going to church; all stout, athletic young men, 
and I could not help thinking what an amount of human 
food might be produced by the well-directed labor of all 
these eaters of the bread of idleness. 

A Big Dairy Farm. — While leaving Kingston, one of 
the Thousand Islands we passed, was pointed out as a 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1850 411 

very extensive dairy farm, owned by a Kingstonian, upon 
which my informant stated, the owner keeps two hundred 
cows. Whether the number stated is correct, I cannot 
say. It only seemed large, because it was in Canada. In 
New York or Ohio, I should not have doubted nor won- 
dered.* From the yards, spouts are made to conduct the 
milk to broad tin vats in the milkroom. The land upon 
these islands is very level and thin upon its limestone 
foundation, and of but little value for any other crop 
than grass. The marks of improvement are very primi- 
tive, so far as seen from the boat in passing. 

Solon Robinson. 

Jefferson-County Dairy Farming. 

[New York American Agriculturist, 9:331-32; Nov., 1850] 

[August 21, 1850] 

It would greatly surprise some of the western and 
southern stock farmers, who boast of their favored cli- 
mate and rich pastures, to visit this rock-bound county 
upon the shores of Ontario and the St. Lawrence, to see 
how much more money is made by the produce of cows 
in a climate of six or seven winter months, than in re- 
gions where it is very mild or frost quite unknown. 

In my late flying trip to Watertown, N. Y., I had the 
pleasure of a visit to the farm of Mr. Moses Fames, ^ about 
seven miles from the village, 600 feet elevation above it, 
and 1,200 feet above tide water, and north of latitude 44°. 
The surface is quite hilly and stony, with underlying 
rocks, and would be thought by strangers cold and un- 
productive. Now, August 21st, is the season of harvest 
of wheat, oats, barley, and grass. Mr. E. keeps forty- 

* Afterwards I was informed the true number is 130. 

^ Moses Eames, son of Daniel Eames, who settled in Rutland, 
Jefferson County, in 1800. President of the Jefferson County Agri- 
cultural Society in 1849. His method of making maple sugar is 
described in the Annual Report of the Commissioner of Patents, 
1844, pp. 297-98. History of Jefferson County . . ., 506 (L. H. 
Evarts & Co., Philadelphia, 1878); Cultivator, n.s. 6:375 (Decem- 
ber, 1849). 



412 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

three cows, and makes a cheese every day, that will 
weigh, when ready for market, 90 lbs., worth six cents 
a pound at home, or $5.40, besides a liberal supply of 
milk and butter for a large family. And better butter 
and cheese, I never tasted; nor did I ever sit at a better 
table than in this farmhouse — this American farmer's 
home — Ah, "Home, sweet home," indeed. 

Milking the Coivs. — These are driven from the pasture 
long enough before night to enable the laborers to finish 
by daylight, without haste. From the lower yard, about 
half are driven into a commodious stable, and fastened 
in a long line by "stanchions," composed of two upright 
pieces of wood about five feet long, one of which is fast 
in a sill, and in a girder at the top, and the other move- 
able so the top falls back to give the cow convenience of 
putting her head and horns between, and is then closed 
with a catch, almost as fast as a man can walk along. 
Cows soon learn to take their places without any con- 
fusion. As soon as all are fast, the milkers commence, 
each being seated upon a stool, or chair, with a sort of 
back attached for the convenience of handling, and a 
great convenience it is. The milking is done with both 
hands, as rapidly as possible, as the owner has found that 
a dribbling milker will deteriorate the best cow in a very 
short time. As soon as all are done, the first section of 
the herd are turned out at another door, which opens into 
the upper yard, and then the second section is brought in, 
and when all are done, they are driven again to pasture. 
In the morning, the same course is repeated. 

The Advantages of Stabling to Milk, are, that all the 
cows are sure to be milked — all stand quiet while milk- 
ing, and there is no hooking and running one after an- 
other, and upsetting milk and milkmaid. If it is rainy 
and muddy, all are sheltered and upon a clean floor, and 
men and beast are better tempered, and give and get 
more milk, and save a deal of scolding, much time, and 
more money ; insomuch that a herd of forty cows will pay 
for a shelter in one season. Putting in one half at a time. 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1850 413 

is an advantage ; for twenty are easier managed, with less 
huddling in the stable than forty, and are only confined 
half as long, make less droppings, and only require half 
as much stable room, and each section has an opportunity 
to drink in the yard while the other is in the stable. 

Disposal of the Milk. — The milk pails are carried as 
fast as filled to the milkhouse, and emptied into a vat of 
suitable size, say 7 by 4 feet, and 2 feet deep, made of 
wood, lined with tin, having a space between, into which 
cold spring water is drawn at night to cool the milk and 
promote the raising of the cream. This vat is elevated 
upon legs for greater convenience, so that the top is some 
3I/2 feet high. When the morning milk is added, the 
water is drawn off and a conducting pipe from a small 
boiler fills the space with steam to scald the curd, which 
is made in the same vat. The steam is then turned into 
a barrel of water and heats that ready for cleansing 
utensils without the least trouble. 

Taking ojf the Whey. — Another vat of a smaller size, 
with rollers in the legs, is placed along the side, and sur- 
face whey dipped off, and then it is rolled to a spot where 
a conductor, opening through the floor, receives the con- 
tents and carries it down to the pig pen. The curd is 
next dipped into a strainer in the small vat and the whey 
drained off, and then it is rolled along side of the press, 
and put into the hoop upon a sliding board, so the whole 
is done without any hard lifting. The press is one of Mr. 
Eames' own make, and with a small weight, will give 
seven tons' pressure. In turning the cheese in press, a 
small wheel table is rolled along side, upon which it is 
done with ease. Upon the same, it is conveyed into the 
cheese room, where the cheese are kept upon long tables, 
and turned by rolling upon edge and over, which is gen- 
erally done by Mr. E. himself, but without great exertion 
of strength. 

The next process after placing upon the table, is, to 
bandage with thin muslin, made on purpose and costing 
only three cents a yard. The strips are cut two or three 



414 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

inches wider than the cheese is thick, and the edges 
turned over the corners and sewed, so that it is impos- 
sible for a cheese to spread or flatten down as they for- 
merly did before bandaging came in fashion. 

The Temperature of the Cheese Room is kept cool and 
dry by using a stove to drive off dampness, and then it 
can be frequently washed with cold water. 

The Average Product of Dairy Coivs, in this county, 
is from $25 to $35 each, per annum, and the average value 
per head from $20 to $28. 

Wintering Cows. — Two tons of good hay is the amount 
estimated for each cow, besides straw and other coarse 
feed. If giving milk, grain or roots are added, as every- 
thing extra fed is paid for in extra milk. The cows are 
generally of the common breed, but look remarkably fine, 
not only upon this well-conducted farm, but upon hun- 
dreds of others of the same sort in this rich farming 
county. 

Buying Curd. — I was told of one man, in this county, 
who buys the curd of five hundred cows, every day, and 
makes it into cheese. I understand that he pays five 
cents a pound, and takes it fresh as soon as well drained. 
Mr. E. says he can afford to pay that price. Cheese and 
butter are the staple exports of this county, and no grain- 
growing region, within my knowledge, can show so large 
a proportion of wealthy farmers, good farmhouses, good- 
looking and well-improved farms, and such a number of 
well-to-do-in-the-world people as Jefferson county. The 
women and children here take more interest in agricul- 
tural improvement and know more about it, than a ma- 
jority of the men in some places. When you know the 
farmers' wives there, you will not be surprised to find 
such pretty girls and noble boys. Would you know the 
reason? They read. Yes sir, they read, and read agri- 
cultural papers, too. One handsome, intelligent boy, about 
fourteen years of age, came up to me just as I was leav- 
ing, and said, "Mr. Robinson, I should like to have you 
send me the Agriculturist for a year. Here is the money." 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1850 415 

That boy will make an intelligent, good man. The same 
boy had the sole management of a large family garden, 
the past summer. I need not tell you it was a good one. 

Jefferson-County Agricultural Society. — I will tell you 
what fosters and keeps alive this spirit of improvement 
in this county. They have one of the oldest and one of 
the most active and efficient agricultural societies in the 
state, and the society have a hall, or place of meeting, 
upwards of 200 feet long and 50 feet wide, capable of 
accommodating three thousand people. It was built by 
the funds of the society, and is emphatically "the peo- 
ple's meeting house ;" for there, all large public meetings 
are held, besides the agricultural annual fairs. What 
other county will look to this one of the north for an 
example, and go and do likewise? 

In addition to the improved progress of agriculture, 
manufacturing of cotton, wool, paper, flour, axes, and 
many other things flourish here in an equal degree. 

Plank Roads. — There are six of these valuable improve- 
ments leading out of Watertown, which is rising from 
the ashes of the great fire, like a phoenix in revivified 
plumage. 

Thin Soil. — Much land in this county lies upon a flat 
surface of rock, so near, that the plow sometimes runs 
quite down to it. When this is lime rock, the land is very 
productive and does not suffer so much as I should expect 
by drouth. It produces sweet grass and is more valuable 
for dairy purposes than any other. A railroad, now build- 
ing through this county, will soon open its hidden treas- 
ures to the view of the world. Indeed, I intend to see 
more of it myself. 

Creating a Spring. — When fitting up his dairy, Mr. 
Eames was much at a loss about a supply of water, hav- 
ing no spring that would give him a constant running 
stream. But he got one, and the way he did it is worthy 
of notice and imitation. He examined the sidehill, about 
one hundred rods above the house, and selected a favor- 
able spot, where the land had a "spouty" appearance, and 



416 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

dug a reservoir and wing ditches to form underdrains 
into it, and soon had the satisfaction to find the plan suc- 
ceed which gave him a living fountain that runs summer 
and winter in the cowyard without fail from the drouth 
or frost. This is only one of the fruits of an intelligent 
mind devoted to agricultural improvement, and possessed 
by a self-made man. But he is a reading man as well as 
a working one. SoLON Robinson. 

Further Notes on Jefferson County. 

[New York American Agriculturist, 9:372; Dec, 1850] 

[August ?, 1850] 

From Kingston, I took a run across the lake, 40 miles, 
to Sackett's Harbor, upon that beautiful American boat, 
the Bay State, making the trip in two and a half hours. 
The American boats, like almost everything else under- 
taken by Yankee enterprise, have much more of the go- 
a-head-quality, than those of the British. 

Sackett's Harbor, is a town of some 1,200 inhabitants, 
situated in what may be termed the southeast corner of 
Ontario, once a flourishing military station, the glory of 
which has departed. Like Kingston, it depended upon 
the army and navy, instead of the soil, until the glory 
of the tovra has also departed. The extensive barracks 
are almost useless, and an enormous shiphouse and its in- 
closed frigate, which has stood there more than thirty 
years, is not only useless, but a monument of the foolish 
waste of human labor. If the half million of dollars it 
cost, had been spent in the endowment of an agricultural 
school, how much the sum of human happiness might 
have been increased, and how much better defence 
against enemies, would have been the minds of enlight- 
ened men, than is this wooden monument of folly. This 
town is the principal port of the wealthy agricultural 
county of Jefferson, a county rich in her enterprising 
citizens, and rapidly growing more so through her dairy 
products and manufactures. It contains two hotels. 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1850 417 

besides a few taverns, and other conveniences for con- 
suming the alcoholic portion of Indian corn. There are 
several respectable stores, and more churches than manu- 
factories ; and a bigger custum house, in proportion to the 
commerce, than New York or Boston can boast of. 

Watertown. — This is 10 miles east, the seat of justice 
for the county, containing about 6,000 inhabitants, and is 
altogether a very flourishing go-a-head sort of a place; 
and since the great fire, that consumed the business part 
of the town, several splendid blocks of stores have been 
built, and others are building, equal to those of any inland 
town in the state. In private residences, I will match this 
place against any other in the Union, large or small, to 
show as great a display of common sense in their arrange- 
ment. I certainly never have seen so great a proportion 
of remarkably neat, moderate-sized cottages, embowered 
in lovely groves of ornamental and fruit trees, with 
grassy lawns in front, (for all stand back from the 
street,) as all dwellings always should in town or country. 
The grove, surrounding the house of Mr. E. S. Massey,^ 
whose hospitalities I enjoyed during my short visit, is 
one of the most beautiful native growth, I think, I ever 
saw. The trees are mostly sugar maple, for which and 
their rich products, the county of Jefferson has long been 
celebrated. 

An immense grapevine springs from one corner of the 
yard, and extends itself upon several trees, and fre- 
quently gives fifteen or twenty bushels of rich fruit in 
return for the little plat of soil it occupies. Go, sluggard, 
and plant a vine, and thou, also, shalt enjoy such luxury. 

Note. — The article in the November number, entitled 
a "Jefferson-County Dairy Farm," would have been the 
proper continuation of this. Solon Robinson. 

^ Edward S. Massey, born in Watertown, New York, October 18, 
1806; died March, 1873. His parents settled in Watertown in 1800. 
History of Jefferson County, 215. A portrait of Mr. Massey and 
an illustration of his residence face page 152 in ibid. 



418 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

Connecticut Farming — Reverse of the Picture.^ 

[New York Aynerican Agriculturist, 9:266-67; Sep., 1850] 

[August ?, 1850] 

Having been pent up in the close atmosphere of the 
city for some weeks, after my return from my south- 
ern tour, I felt as though the sight of something green, 
besides the scanty grass in the park, or doubtful hue of 
the trees, would be soothing to a spirit that loves the 
green hills and sweet air of the country, I started off in 
pursuit of such a scene. It so chanced I took the New- 
Haven Railroad. As we passed Norwalk, I thought of the. 
farm of Mr. Stevens,'- of which you published a notice in 
April, and would gladly have called to look at his im- 
provements, if I had known he was at home. However, I 
concluded to defer that, and rolled onward, noting that 
even Connecticut farmers are becoming sensible that the 
rocky hills and gravelly knolls may be made more produc- 
tive, by a more judicious system of cultivation. 

As we approached the busy, bustling, beautiful little 
city of Bridgeport, I discovered about a mile off to the 
left, a singular-looking structure which a friend informed 
me was a Coyinecticut farm house, as it was the residence 
of Farmer Barnum. I determined at once to make him a 
visit. No doubt many of your readers, as they have 
caught a glimpse of this most remarkable edifice, as it 
shows its head, or rather heads, among the trees upon the 
plain, back of the town, have wondered what prince, or 
eastern nabob, had come here to the land of steady habits, 

^ The editors prefaced Robinson's article as follows : "It will be 
recollected that we published some letters of Mr. Robinson, last 
fall, which gave slight offence, because, as was alledged, he selected 
an extreme case or two of negligence and bad farming to be found, 
and exposed them to the public gaze. We are certain his object 
was only to awaken a spirit of improvement among the cultivators 
of his native state, and not to ridicule, nor find fault with things 
as he found them. We now give another letter of his, in which a 
brighter shade is given to the picture." 

* The farm of L. M. Stevens is described in the American Agri- 
culturist, 9:123 (April, 1850). 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1850 419 

and gambrel-roofed houses, and erected a palace. If 
curiosity should prompt him to take a nearer view, he 
will be still more surprised; for he will see a building 
unlike any other in America. It is three stories high, 
besides the basement, in the central part, and crowned 
with a dome, somewhat like the capitol at Washington, 
which is supported by lesser ones, and minarets upon the 
corners of the main building and wings, after the style of 
some oriental palace. The entire front is 120 feet, includ- 
ing at each end, a half circular conservatory, with dome 
roofs, which give a beautiful finish to the wings. The 
front portico, with its costly carving, and ornamental fin- 
ish, has a very inviting look of enjoyment in a warm day, 
while that in the rear, (enclosed with glass,) is equally 
so, in a cool morning ; for there, the invalid, shielded from 
the wind, may take a long morning walk in the bright 
sun. Strangers sometimes think the appearance of the 
house fantastic, and perhaps conclude the owner is some 
vain fellow, who has inherited a fortune to spend, and is 
in a fair way of doing the job rapidly. Besides the house, 
he sees a most costly conservatory, or grapery, and gar- 
dener's cottage, carriage house, stables, and barn, with 
little temples, summer houses, and other necessary struc- 
tures, all wearing their domes and minarets in perfect 
keeping with the principal building, and showing an ap- 
parent expenditure of money beyond the means of ordi- 
nary mortals. How mistaken in all his conclusions. The 
proprietor, is no other prince nor nabob than the some- 
what celebrated P. T. Barnum, owner of the New-York 
and Philadelphia Museums ; who has made his wealth by 
his own exertions, and is freely spending it in beautifying 
and improving the soil of his native land. Instead of 
being unapproachable, he and his family appear just as 
all well-cultivated farmers' families should appear; afflu- 
ent, without that ostentation that makes themselves and 
guests uncomfortable. Mrs. B. is a woman "who careth 
after her household," seeing with her own eyes that all 
things are in order ; even the kitchen, the most important 



420 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

room in every house, is so kept that a look into it will not 
sicken one of the meals prepared there. 

It is needless to describe the interior of this "Connecti- 
cut farm house," only to say it is planned with attention 
to comfort and convenience; and though richly furnished, 
not too much so for such a mansion. It has several things 
that some others should have, one of which is, a well- 
selected library. In this, we noticed complete sets of the 
old English divines, the classic, English, French and Ger- 
man histories, and all the best works on agriculture. The 
walls of the rooms and passages are ornamented with 
choice pictures and engravings. Bath rooms with hot 
and cold water, and shower baths serve to purify the 
body, and that tends to purify the mind. Bedrooms, as 
they always should be, spacious and airy. There is a 
spacious dining room, and rich table furniture; yet, the 
style of living and every-day habits of the family are 
such as might be expected where good sense directs. An 
iron fence that cost $5,000, besides the stone foundation, 
adorns the front of the lawn. Outside of this, a row of 
maples, an American tree, that is very ornamental. A 
grassy lawn and carriage road, with a profusion of shrub- 
bery and flowers, and newly-planted forest trees, beautify 
the grounds. Further back is a handsome young orchard 
of choice fruit. Behind the barn and stables, runs a little 
brook that feeds the fish pond, which, with its little 
island, forms an ornamental feature in the rear of the 
house. Beyond this, a field which bore a "premium crop 
of Indian corn last year." Grazing upon rich pastures, 
are a couple of superior cows, that furnish the family 
with plenty of rich milk, cream, and butter, home made ; 
and in the pens, not in front of the house, are some 
good pigs and porkers, furnished with a provision of 
swamp muck and trash for making manure, indicating 
the knowledge of the proprietor, that nothing but manure 
is wanted to renovate the worn-out lands of Connecticut. 
This lot contains seventeen acres, for which he paid $12,- 
000, and rumor says, upon the house, grounds, and fur- 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1850 421 

nishing, $200,000 have been expended. In this case, as in 
all others, improvement has increased the price of all the 
surrounding land, to double or treble the former prices. 
Mr. B. has lately bought an old field, which, according to 
the old order of Yankee farming, has lain untouched by 
the plow for a quarter of a century. He paid $150 an 
acre; but it is doubtful whether the owner ever made 
interest on a fourth of that sum from its poor pasturage. 
Through the lot runs a small stream, and of course a row 
of alders along its bank. The first step was to clear off 
all the brush and roots, and dig a draining ditch, take out 
a bed of muck, about three feet deep, and cover over the 
surface of the whole field, until it was as black as char- 
coal, to lay and freeze and thaw till spring, then receive 
a good coat of ashes, and be plowed under. Another por- 
tion formed a great compost heap with stable manure, 
and occasionally the carcass of a dead horse, or other 
domestic animal, which many farmers throw away, 
worthless. In the effort to plow deep, he discovered a 
valuable bed of stone. Another field, lying in the same 
condition of eternal pasture, he bought for $60 dollars an 
acre, and has purchased a few acres of swamp near it, to 
get muck for manure. Another small lot he is under- 
draining. He is doing these things not so much with a 
view to profit, as to gratify his taste for making improve- 
ment, and also to show his neighbors that there is no 
need of their old barren fields, lying almost worthless all 
over the country, for they can be easily renovated and 
made as fertile as the virgin lands of the west. He has 
made a small trial of guano, which, if it succeeds well, 
will enable him to renovate the old fields very cheaply. I 
hope his success may be commensurate with his public 
spirit and desire to create a disposition among the people 
to improve their land, by a better and more enlightened 
system of agriculture. 

It is a pity the same spirit is not more universal. Not- 
withstanding the great improvements that have taken 
place in this state, within a few years, there is room for 
greater ones. Solon Robinson. 



422 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 
The Sense of Smell. 

[New York American Agriculturist, 9:283-84; Sep., 1850] 

[August ?, 1850] 

Insensible must be that person who can take a 
beautiful and fragrant rose into his hand without feeling 
thankful for so good and perfect a gift. With the most 
systematical form and color is blended an odor more 
exquisite than all the arts of the chemist's laboratory 
could ever imitate, or we enjoy, but for the sense of 
smell. This lovely flower is a favorite among all people 
wherever it grows, and is more sought after by civilised 
man, than any other. Why? Is it because of its beautiful 
varying tints? No, for other flowers, the dahlia, for 
instance, in this is more wonderful ; but it lacks odor. It 
gives no pleasure to the sense of smell. It is this sense 
that gives us a higher degree of enjoyment than the sense 
of sight. How often have been sung the pleasures of the 
hay field — the beauties of making hay. Deprive us of 
the sense of smell, and what would we find there to 
attract us to the spot and give us pleasure? 

The objects about which the sense of smell is constantly 
employed are as incomprehensible as the other creations 
of the same power that created these. They are no casual 
productions, they are given to make man happy if he so 
wills it. The sense of smell is the poetry of all the senses. 
It may be cultivated with taste. Our dwellings may 
abound with sweet flavors as well as pleasing views. 
Everything that is cultivated to corrupt the sense of 
smell, should be as carefully excluded from the vicinity 
of our homes, as things that are offensive to the sight, if 
we would avoid corrupting the minds of those more than 
tender plants we are rearing there. Familiarity with 
corrupt smells will corrupt the taste, and render the sense 
of smell obtuse to the pleasures always enjoyed by this 
pleasure-giving faculty in an uncorrupted state. This 
sense, too, should always be consulted for the benefit of 
our health. That which is offensive to it, indicates that 
the salubrity of the atmosphere is affected, and should 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1850 423 

warn us at once, to remove the cause that is slowly dis- 
easing the human bodies that come within its deleterious 
influence. But the disease of the body is not so certain 
as the disease of the mind, that lives within the influence 
of such vile smells as fill the precincts of some places, 
some human beings denominate their home, a word that 
should always call up a sacred feeling of love to hear it 
spoken. 

Here is the picture of a "farmer's home" I lately vis- 
ited. Not five rods from the door there is a duck pond 
daily stirred up by a dozen dirty swine, filling the air 
with anything but the scent of roses. At the east end of 
the house, and directly under the window of the "spare 
bedroom," stands — What do you think? A rose or lilac, 
or a bed of flowers, or a climbing honeysuckle, to fill the 
room with sweet odors, as the morning sunbeams find 
their way through a curtain of green leaves, charming 
the sense of smell of those who sleep there, and awaken- 
ing in their minds a feeling of thankfulness to God, for 
the gift of smell and odors of flowers that give it grati- 
fication? No. Instead of these, the space is filled with 
hen coops — useful, to be sure — but out of place, and cor- 
rupting the atmosphere with a most villainous stench. 
On the south side of the house, and directly in view of the 
door of the dining room, and scarcely fifty feet from it, 
stands a small building, which should always be located 
far away from the dwelling, and if possible, out of the 
range of prevailing summer winds, shrouded with ever- 
greens and creeping vines, and kept in such condition by 
the use of substances that absorb ammonia, and frequent 
cleanings, that the sense of smell should scarcely be 
offended by a visit to it, as it now is while partaking of 
the morning meal. By the side of the back kitchen door, 
stands the swill barrel, steaming with putrifying butter- 
milk and bonny clabber; and just three rods off, is the 
trough and pen where it is fed to the pigs; and immedi- 
ately in connection with that, the cowyards and stables. 
On the side opposite the swill barrel, and within three 



424 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

feet of the door, is the spout of the kitchen sink, and an 
open drain to carry all the dirty suds and slops slowly 
winding along between overhanging weeds to feed the 
duck pond first mentioned. The house itself, a one-story, 
shingle-sided, gambrel-roofed, unpainted structure, with 
stone chimneys, stands corner-ways to the road, and sep- 
arated from it by a crooked rail fence, and rickety gate, 
without a single shade tree to hide its hideous nakedness, 
nor a flower to charm away the offence offered to the 
sense of smell by all the horrid things surrounding this 
farmer's home. 

Can the inmates of such a house be pure in heart? 
Does not the mind of man grow upon the food it feeds 
upon? Can the sense of smell be blunted and save the 
moral faculties free of contamination? Is it to be won- 
dered at that children, who have such a home as this, 
whenever their minds become elevated by visits to more 
pleasing scenes, lose their love for the old birthplace of 
themselves and their ancestors and wander far away 
from fatherland, in pursuit of enjoyments that might 
have been procured at home, only that they have been 
sickened with everything connected with it that calls up 
a reminiscense of its offensive sights and smells? 

Shall we be told these things cannot be avoided on the 
farm — that manure must be made, and such objections 
arise from ridiculous fastidiousness ? Truth will answer, 
the more cleanly the premises, the more free from offense 
to the sense of smell, the more are the fertilising proper- 
ties of all offensive substances saved and locked up in 
fresh mold, charcoal, peat, copperas, tanner's bark, or 
better still, gypsum, which have been freely used, to keep 
the air sweet and pure, and concentrate the escaping 
ammonia in a solid form, to carry to the field, and in- 
crease the growing crops to a value ten times greater 
than all the cost of the substances that in the using have 
added so much to the pleasures of the farmer's home. 
Fastidious indeed! Pity it were not more fashionable. 
If you would make your children coarse and unintellectual 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1850 425 

beings, rear them in just such a place as I have described ; 
scold them for being too fastidious if they "turn up their 
noses" at the vile odors surrounding them, and you will 
succeed in blunting the sense of smell and every other 
faculty that distinguishes man from the brute. From 
the brute ? That is a slander upon the delicate sensibility 
of some of the brute creation, and nice faculty of the 
sense of smell, which they possess, and which prompts 
them to avoid locations that none but man, whose sensi- 
bilities have been contaminated by long association with 
filth, would ever think fit for a habitation. 

In the case of inferior animals, how wisely this faculty 
has been adapted to their particular purposes! With 
what unerring certainty the faithful dog follows the foot- 
steps of his master through the masses of the crowded 
street or wild jungle of the tangled forest ! God gave him 
the sense of smell, and unlike man, he has not abused it. 

The strength of this sense in the blood hound is still 
more wonderful. Give him but one smell of a cast-off 
garment of the fugitive to be followed, and he will dis- 
tinguish his track from all others. The acute intelligence 
and determination which these animals evince in pursuit 
of a quarry, is almost indescribable. The fineness of the 
sense of smell, possessed by the deer, is often of great 
advantage to the Laplander when travelling over a vast 
expanse enshrouded in snow. It is only by their smell of 
the moss, though buried several feet, that they can tell 
whether the spot chosen to pitch the tent is upon land or 
water. Many a lost traveller never would have been res- 
cued from his snowy death bed, but for the delicate sense 
of smell possessed by the convent dogs of the great St. 
Bernard. Caravans, overwhelmed and lost amidst the 
desert sands of Africa, have been saved from destruction 
because the camel possessed and exercised a faculty that 
man is constantly at work to blunt and destroy — a faculty 
which, if cultivated, would add greatly to his happiness. 
Who that possesses a refined sense of smell, though he 
has spent years upon the ocean wave or city pavements. 



426 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

but feels as though he snuffed the sweet fragrance of 
the fields and forest flowers, whenever he reads of scenes 
of country life? How the odors of the orchard fill his 
nostrils in spring when the mere name of the country 
tingles upon the sense of hearing. One of the sweetest 
of his pleasures of memory is the recollection of the odors 
that made him love the flowers with which God carpeted 
the earth where he first breathed their sweet fragrance. 

In vain for him the golden morn 
Awaked the song of vernal bird; 

No sight nor sound, emotion gave, 
Like that which fragrance stir'd. 

Oh, ye denisens of the country, who might live in the 
constant enjoyment of Persian gales, how have ye per- 
verted and abused this good gift of God, till ye are en- 
abled to sit down contented to your morning and evening 
meals in the atmosphere of a duck pond or pig pen, and 
sleep in the fragrant effluvia of a hen coop, or drown the 
natural sense of smell, in the horrid stench of burnt 
tobacco. S. R. 

Letter to Leila Robinson 

[Ms. in Harry Robinson Strait Papers, Gary] 

New York Oct. 20*'^ '50 
Miss Leila Robinson. 

My Dear Little girl. — Yours of Oct. 2. and your 
sister's & yours of Sep. 21. I found waiting for me on 
my return to the city a week ago, & I have been expect- 
ing another all the week, and for two weeks I have prom- 
ised myself every day that I would write. But I have 
been very much engaged, and the devil stands at my 
elbow now calling for yiiiore copy. So he gets the copy & 
not the copyist, very well. Did I tell you to write your 
cousin Sarah Lake at Smithfield, Phil* Co. Pa. I wish 
you would. And I want you to take pains to write as 
well as possible. Sometimes your letters are very nice, 
at others not so. A little girl that has plenty of time 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1850 427 

never should send a letter out of hand until it was as 
perfect as she could make it, if she had to copy it half 
a dozen times. 

I have been so little in the City that I have not had 
one hour to go about & look up those things you want me 
to buy for you, but I hope to perhaps next week — this 
week I have got to go to Baltimore. If I had a memoran- 
dum of things to buy, I would contrive to get them, but 
the trouble for me is to begin to think what to look for. 

I shall have to get them very soon if this fall, or it will 
be too late to send them. I hope you are going to school 
and also Charley,^ whom you say nothing about in your 
letters. You are very careless in your spelling. Gearl is 
not the right way to spell girl. Another fault is leaving 
off the last letter of a word in writing, which is a com- 
mon thing with you. 

I am glad to hear your mother was able to do such a 
kind act for Mrs. Rock, and I hope when I am sick I shall 
find some one to be as kind to me. But if I do get sick 
away from home, I shall wish I was there, for I never 
shall find any woman to nurse me in sickness like your 
mother. I had two days sickness in Phil^ though but 
slight it made me think that a Hotel is not a home. If I 
were to be taken sick in New York, I should be still worse 
off. But I shall not be long here. After I return from 
Baltimore, I shall remain about a month and then I am 
off for Florida this time certain. 

Do my dear girl let me always hear that you are a 
good one — kind & obedient to your mother and affection- 
ate to your brothers & sister & friendly & respectful to 
all & then by all you will be beloved, & particularly by 
your father 

Solon Robinson. 

' Charles Robinson, Leila's brother. 



428 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 
Storing Turnips and Other Roots for Winter. 

[New York American Agriculturist, 9:347; Nov., 1850] 

[October ?, 1850] 

Throughout almost the wliole region where roots are 
raised in any abundance for stock feeding, in winter, this 
is the most important month in the whole year ; for now 
is the season in which they must be secured against frost. 
Nine tenths of all those which are lost every winter 
might be saved by attention to them this month. A few 
hints, although often before given, will still be useful to 
some of our readers, new beginners, perhaps, as to what 
should always be done in putting away these valuable 
crops for winter. 

Storing Turnips. — First, be sure and pull them in dry 
weather, if possible. Throw them together as they are 
pulled, but not in large heaps ; otherwise, the dirt adher- 
ing, will become mud by the sweat of the pile before the 
tops are cut, if suffered to lie any considerable time. 
Never pull nor wring off the tops, but cut them smooth 
with a sharp knife. Select a dry, smooth spot upon 
descending ground, to form the heap, which may be long 
or round, providing no round pile exceed 100 bushels. 
Lay the roots in a smooth pile, the sides on an angle of 
about 45°, and cover with straw, laid on straight, so as 
to form a good thatch. Rye straw is the best. Cover 
with just earth enough to preserve them, which will vary 
from two inches to two feet, in different latitudes of this 
country. No definite rule can be given. In all the 
warmer latitudes, the piles, or heaps, should be provided 
with ventilators. Nothing is better for this purpose than 
a bunch of fagots about six inches through. Four boards, 
six inches wide, nailed together, and bored full of auger 
holes, set in the centre of the pile, like a chimney, will 
answer an excellent purpose. The ventilator must be 
protected against rain, and carefully covered before freez- 
ing weather. 

In digging the dirt around the pile for covering, form 
a continuous ditch, in order that water cannot run in. 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1850 429 

Be careful the roots are dry and sound when put away, 
and you may be assured they will keep in fine condition. 

Storing Common Potatoes, by the same rules, will be 
found most effectual. If you ventilate the heap, as above 
directed, you need have no fear of covering it too warm 
at first. 

Storing Stveet Potatoes. — These are very difficult to 
keep, in all places, particularly in freezing climates. 
They must be kept very dry and warm. And yet not too 
warm. A very good plan is practised by Dr. Philips, of 
Mississippi, first, by laying down a bed of cornstalks sev- 
eral inches thick, which serves as an underdrain and ven- 
tilator, leading from the sides to the one in the centre. 
The outside, he also covers with cornstalks and a very 
little earth, and the whole protected with a temporary 
roof. It is a very cheap, and with him, a very effective 
way of preserving this most valuable edible root for all 
the southern portion of the United States. 

Mr. DeLaigle, of Augusta, Georgia, raises from 3,000 
to 5,000 bushels of sweet potatoes every year. A very 
common crop with him is 300 bushels per acre. His 
method of preserving them is in an immense roothouse, 
made of bricks, partly below the surface, in which the 
roots are stored with pine straw, which is one of the best 
absorbents of moisture he could use, and serves to keep 
the potatoes free from the dampness so natural to them. 

Storing Beets and Carrots. — These roots require much 
more careful handling than turnips and potatoes, but 
with proper attention, may be put up and kept in the 
same way. Beets are often injured in cutting off the 
tops. They must not be cut too close, if you would keep 
them sound through the winter. Do not try to beat off 
the dirt adhering to the small rootlets. Let it dry and 
then adhere as much as will. To keep these delicious 
roots fresh and sweet for family use, pack them in dry 
sand, in a cool, airy cellar, but not cold enough to 
freeze. S. R. 



430 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 
The Great Poultry Show at Boston. 

[New York American Agriculturist, 10:27-29; Jan., 1851] 

[November 13, 1850] 

I LEFT New York, last evening, on the Vanderbilt — a 
very excellent boat — and a lovely moonlight passage I 
had through the sound; arriving at Stonington, at 12i/2» 
and at Boston, at 4V2 A. M., over one of the best rail- 
roads in the Union, at a speed almost fast enough to sat- 
isfy Yankee go-a-head-i-tive-ness. Whether this is the 
best of all the routes between New York and Boston, I 
am not prepared to say; but I will say it is a good one, 
and as worthy of patronage as any other. 

The first sound that greeted my ears, the morning of 
my arrival at Boston, was one united, concentrated, tre- 
mendous cock-a-doodle-doo; uprising in the clear morn- 
ing air from some two thousand throats ; with which was 
mixed a fair portion of gander gabble and turkey gobble ; 
with an occasional interlude, applicable to the occasion, 
of quack ! quack ! ! quack ! ! ! whether there were any real 
quacks present I do not know. The din of hackmen and 
hotel runners, for once, was put to silence. "For a noise 
went up to heaven as of many cocks crowing." And that 
noise in imagination, is still ringing in my ears; for I 
have been all day wandering among the coops, trying to 
learn what magic influence — what morus-multicaulis 
miracle of speculation hath so wrought upon the sober 
character of this Yankee population ; as thus to gather 
together such thousands of biped beings, feathered and 
featherless, in one great crowing match of all New Eng- 
land. 

The exhibition is held in the public garden, west of the 
Common, under a mammoth tent, which covers 23,716 
superficial feet — over half an acre. This is filled with 
coops, arranged in rows and tiers, containing an un- 
counted number of all manner of domestic fowls, vari- 
ously estimated from 6,000 to 16,000. From the notes 
which I saw of one gentleman who undertook to enumer- 
ate the multitude, I am satisfied the smallest number 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1850 431 

comes nearest the truth. I am also satisfied that even 
this will be looked upon as an exaggeration, by those who 
were not present and who never felt the fever; because 
they will not be able to conceive how dreadfully that dis- 
ease must rage through a community, to induce them 
to come together to the number of three hundred and 
thirty-eight exhibitors, with 6,000 head of cocks and 
hens, ducks and drakes, gobblers, ganders, geese, and 
Guinea fowls, in all sorts of coops and cages; some of 
which could not have cost less than fifty dollars a piece, 
and were probably got up especially for this occasion. 

The following memorandum of the coops and kinds 
exhibited by Messrs. Pierce & Osborn, of Danvers, Mas- 
sachusetts, will give your readers a pretty fair idea of the 
various sorts kept by those who make a business of 
chicken breeding, together with the regular "trade 
prices." To commence with the tallest kind : — 

Coop No. 1, contains Shanghaes. Price, per pair, $4, 
of three varieties. Parsons, Perley & Forbes' importa- 
tion. 

No. 2, Black Spanish, $5 per pair. 

" 3, Guilderland, 3 

" 4, Rumpless, 3 

" 5, Dominique, 3 

" 6, Black Poland, 3 

" 7, White, do. 3 

" 8, Golden, do. 3 

" 9, Golden Hamburg, 5 

" 10, Spangled, 5 

" 11, Singapore, 3 

" 12, Silver pheasant, top-knot fowls, 5 

" 13, Bolton greys, 3 

" 14, Brown Dorkings, 4 

" 15, White, " 4 

" 16, Yankee game, 5 

" 17, Java, " 5 to 10 

" 18, Sicilian fowls, 3 

" 19, Jersey Blues 3 



432 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

" 20, Plymouth Rocks, 4 " 

" 21, Fawn-colored Dorkings, 4 *' 

" 22, Chittaprats, 3 " 

" 23, Royal Cochin-China. 6 

" 24, Manilla Bantams, 3 " 

" 25, Sebright, " 3 

" 26, Cuba, " 3 

" 27, White ducks, 2 

" 28, Spanish, do. 5 " 

This list only embraces a part of the varieties of one 
exhibitor. The yards and hen house, (which is an old 
conservatory,) of these gentlemen, covers about three 
acres of ground, upon which they keep an average stock 
of 1,000 head, and some thirty different kinds. During 
the breeding season, each variety is kept in separate 
apartments; the cocks being introduced to hens for the 
purpose of "judicious crossing," with as much care as 
would be shown to a Durham bull, or an English race 
horse. The feed is principally corn, costing 75 cts. a 
bushel, and is kept constantly before them in feeding 
hoppers, which are filled once a-fortnight. Oats, barley, 
potatoes, dough, and meat are fed occasionally; water 
every day. Cost of food consumed will average about 
two cents a week per head; and it requires the labor of 
one hand most of the time to look after the establish- 
ment. During the moulting season, all except the game 
cocks, are turned out to grass together. By keeping the 
house warm through the winter, with plenty of food, 
they get a supply eggs, which then sell for high prices in 
the city. In the spring, they bring much higher rates 
for the purpose of raising stock; not however to be 
eaten, as will readily be seen by the enormous sums they 
sell for, to others affected with the same fever. For be 
it distinctly understood, the above are not "fancy prices," 
nor such as an individual would generally have to pay 
for a single pair; nor such as have been realUed during 
the day. I saw one cock change hands at thirty dollars, 
and a hen of the same Shang-high sort, at fifteen — the 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1850 433 

owner refusing twenty-five dollars for a pair, and I was 
credibly informed of another transaction at fifty dollars 
for a cock and hen ; which I understand is not an unusual 
price among the fancy. 

The owner of one of this giraffe breed, seeing an old 
farmer eyeing a remarkably tall specimen that was 
stretching his neck away up into the upper regions of a 
three-story coop, inquired of him if he would like to make 
a purchase; observing how much it would improve his 
old stock of poultry. 

"Wal, I guess not; I live in a one-story house." 
Why ? What has that to do with the matter ? 
"Wal you see, I keep my seed corn up garret, and I 
don't want to lose it." 

No. Well you don't want to keep your fowls up gar- 
ret do you? 

"Oh ! Bless your soul no !" 
What then? I don't see your objection." 
"Don't see! No Sir, can't that tarnal great long- 
legged rooster stand on the ground and eat corn out of 
the garret window? You don't catch me with such a 
beast on my farm. Improve my poultry. Ha? Why, I 
would'nt cross that critter upon anything except a she 
jackass ; and a darnation mean one at that. Faith ! The 
hens look as though they were of that breed — I'm sure 
the owners are — they're all stern;" and with that sage 
observation he walked off with the air of a man whose 
dignity had been highly offended, with the idea that a 
gentleman of his appearance of good sense, should be 
offered a Shanghae cock to improve his stock of poultry ; 
which, as I afterwards learned of him, consisted of some 
choice Jersey blues, a few brown Dorkings, and a good 
stock of yellow-legged Dominiques; also a few Bantams, 
to please the children, "Which, says he, "I would not give 
for the whble tentful of long-legged monstrosities, like 
these ugly brutes. What if they do weigh 12 or 15 lbs. 
a piece? They cost more than turkeys of the same 
weight, and are not half so good. Look into the Boston 



434 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

markets, Sir! Do you see any good poultry? If you do, 
you will find such prices, that none but the wealthy can 
afford to buy; for of all this great show, not a single 
owner is engaged in the business of raising poultry to 
supply the market. And the reason is very plain — it 
wont pay. Poultry can only be raised in a small way, as 
I raise it upon my farm, where the cost is not felt. When 
kept up and fed, every hen costs a dollar a year ; and the 
eggs will just about pay for the trouble of taking care 
of them and not much more. So you see, just as soon as 
these humbug speculating prices go down, down goes the 
hen business about Boston, in spite of all this crowing 
and cackling of a parcel of old cocks and young biddies." 

I was gratified to find that the long rough-looking 
homespun check woolen frock, which had perhaps de- 
ceived the rooster man into the idea that the owner was a 
flat, was not a cloak to hide a mutitude of faults, but that 
it covered a form possessed of sound judgment and good 
sense; such as are often met with in similar working 
garbs in New England. 

I find I cannot get through this great show in one let- 
ter, so good night. Solon Robinson. 

Boston, November ISth, 1850. 

Hen Show and Hen Fever. 

[New York American Agriculturist, 10:56-58; Feb., 1851] 

[November 14, 1850] 

In my letter of last evening, I promised you some fur- 
ther account of the crowing match now holding in the 
great Boston henroost, where I have spent the day; and 
now, after retiring to my own room, I will give you my 
reflections upon it. No opportunity was ever before af- 
forded in America, for so extensive an examination and 
comparison of varieties, as are here exhibited. The num- 
ber, as I stated last evening, is variously estimated from 
6,000 to 16,000. The secretary informs me that three 
fifths of the whole are those overgrown, overpuffed ani- 



6(5 



HES SHOW AVD HEN FETER. 



HEN SHOW AND HEW FEVBR. 

b- my I'.'ltcrof last ■ v. nine;. I proniisoil yon 
iconic further iiccount of thocro»iii'_; iiiMtch now 
holLling in the prcat Boston liciiriKist, whffc I 
have spent the day ; and now, ixftcr retiring to 
my own room, I will give you my reflections 
upon it No opportunity was ever, before nliord- 
cd in America, for so extensive an examination 
and comparison of varieties, as arc here exhib- 
ited. The number, as 1 stated last evennig, is 




TIIK cr.BAT MALAY FOWX. FlO. 9. 

v:tr:o:isly esiimate.l from 6;&00 to 15,000. Tlie 
t^ccretary iiil'orms mo that three fifths of the 
whole ,i.rc those ovor^-rown, oicrpuflfod animals 
known as ShanKhae, ChitTapeiifr, and Cochin- 
<"hir.n bi,-ds, and prt-tty iiri/.< they are. Some 
'•f the first-named, are the most outlandish, ill- 







coop which contained one of these feather-leg- 
ged brutes — about the ugliest specimen in the 
whole lot, I t(X)k the liberty of introducing 
myself, and peeped over his shoulder while he 
drew the portr.iit of a fellow, which looked as 
though he might have been the paternal ances- 
tor of the original Shangh;ie family. After hav- 




ReIj 8!!A\l.IIAF. C\u_K. FliJ. ]). 

iugcomjililfd Ihf Jrauini;, which had a ver}' life- 
like ^'nrtuii-hi!:h>sh appearance, he gave an extra 
v.iak \\ith his laughter-loving eye, as much as 



THE BA?rrAM nmn,. — Fn;. 10. 
looking, unloveable of all living things I ever 
saw clotfced in feathers — tlioAnlea minor, sand- 
hill crane, or turkey biizJcard, not excepted. 
Observing a gentleman whom I reeognisiHl as 
a di.stinguished frif nd ut'ull sorts of agricultural , /. 
improvement, but dead set against humbug^ ; /. 
busy with pencil ami paper by the side of a \ 




Box-ton Grets. — Fig. 12. 

to say "wlial"s a cock without a name," and 
wrote underneath the sketch, " Firfi jirrmium 
R(l Shjti^liiic Cock. Wri^hl entire, lh\nl, neck, 

:f. .';.i/v,s- arj clairs indiidfil, 1 1 lbs. 13 oz, Esli. 

lUlllin^'mnfUmii, lib. lioz.";!! 

I enclc-e the sketch, which I hope you will 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1850 435 

mals known as Shanghae, Chittagong, and Cochin-China 
birds, and pretty birds they are. Some of the first-named, 
are the most outlandish, ill-looking, unloveable of all 
living things I ever saw clothed in feathers — the Ardea 
minor, sand-hill crane, or turkey buzzard, not excepted. 
Observing a gentleman whom I recognised as a distin- 
guished friend of all sorts of agricultural improvement, 
but dead set against humbug, busy with pencil and paper 
by the side of a coop which contained one of these feather- 
legged brutes — about the ugliest specimen in the whole 
lot, I took the liberty of introducing myself, and peeped 
over his shoulder while he drew the portrait of a fellow, 
which looked as though he might have been the paternal 
ancestor of the original Shanghae family. After having 
completed the drawing, which had a very life-like Shang- 
highish appearance, he gave an extra wink with his 
laughter-loving eye, as much as to say "what's a cock 
without a name," and wrote underneath the sketch, 
"First premium Red Shanghae Cock. Weight entire, 
head, neck, legs, spurs and claws included, 11 lbs. 13 oz. 
Estimated weight of body, 1 lb. IV2 oz."!!! 

I enclose the sketch, which I hope you will give your 
readers, as a strong likeness of a red Shanghae cock. 

This is the same chap the old farmer objected to yes- 
terday, on account of his ability to stand on the ground 
and eat corn out of the garret window. 

Some of the Cochin-China breed might answer pretty 
well for any person desirous of growing chickens as 
large as turkeys. I am better pleased with their appear- 
ance, than with their taller China neighbors, the 
Shanghaes. 

According to my notions of chicken beauty, the wild 
cock of India cannot be excelled. 

The black Spanish fowls are very noble, military- 
looking fellows, in their glossy coats, and extremely high, 
red crests. That, however, is a great objection to them, 
in a freezing climate. The black Polanders, with their 
beautiful white top-knots, as large as full-blown roses, I 



436 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

should very much prefer. They are great layers, though 
poor breeders; and therefore, are not particular favor- 
ites just now, while the hen fever rages so high, and the 
whole country is converted into one great chicken-hatch- 
ing machine. Among the prettiest fowls in the show are 
the Bolton greys. They are about the size of the old 
style of Dominiques, a few of which are also here ; and I 
should think would be preferred by any man in his senses, 
instead of that long-legged, garret-window, corn-eating 
breed, clothed with dirty feathers down to their ugly 
heels. The Dorkings and Jersey blues are large enough, 
and good enough to suit any taste not vitiated by this 
mania of speculation in hen flesh. Among all this vast 
variety of fancy fowls, with fancy names, my fancy 
would not lead me to name more than half a dozen kinds 
from which to select for myself, or friends — and these 
should be Dorkings, Dominiques, Bolton greys, Jersey 
blues, black Polands, Java game, and perhaps, for fancy, 
a few Sebright Bantams. 

Among the ducks, those which pleased me particularly 
were called Spanish — their neat, drab coats, closely fit- 
ting their moderate-sized, compact bodies. For beauty, 
the little wood duck excels any other of the quack family 
— those in the rooster trade included. 

There were in the exhibition a few very handsome Bre- 
men and China geese, and several small samples of tur- 
keys; but the fever ran highest for the tallest kind of 
cocks and hens, both in size and price. The curiosity of 
visitors was about equally divided between the cage of 
an American eagle, upwards of twenty-three years old, 
and a pair of very large swans, belonging to the "old 
Marshfield farmer," better known among politicians, per- 
haps, as Daniel Webster. 

The annexed beautiful picture of one of these birds 
will afford pleasure to your readers, and form an appro- 
priate finis to my hasty account of the great poultry 
show. Solon Robinson. 

Boston, Nov. Uth. 1850. 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1860 437 

A Day in Westchester County. 

[New York Ainerican Agriculturist, 10:31-32; Jan., 1851] 

[November, 1850] 

Through the politeness of the treasurer of the Harlem 
Railroad, I was enabled, or rather induced to make a 
little excursion upon this great city artery — a proper 
term, for it keeps up the circulation between town and 
country — and take a few notes for the benefit of my 
readers. The cars start from the City Hall, several times 
a-day and are taken by horses through the thickly-settled 
streets, occupying about half an hour; then by steam at 
a very moderate rate, owing to the numerous stoppages 
at a great number of growing villages along the line of 
this road. I noticed the singular fact, that these country 
residences are mainly supplied with marketing from the 
city, instead of their own vicinity. 

This road is well conducted, and of immense advan- 
tage to the country through which it is located. The 
freight upon milk, alone, this year, will exceed $40,000. 
It was over $5,000 in the month of July — some days $200 
— think of that, unimproving generation! 

What would have thought the old settlers of '76 — if 
they had been solemnly assured that the time would come 
to their children, when the matutinal milkmaid should 
send her rich product, warm from the cow, to the city, 
fifty miles distant, to be used for breakfast the same 
morning; while the messenger who carried it thither, 
should return again for dinner. What would have said 
Rip Van Winkle, if his sleep had been prolonged till the 
whistle of the locomotive had waked him to new life? 
He would not have been much more astonished, than 
some of the ancient and unbelieving denizens of the old 
shingle houses among the hills of Westchester. But the 
miracle has been accomplished, and the whole course of 
cultivation changed, for the tillable land has increased 
in value — and now every article of produce — everything 
valuable can be sent and daily sold in the city, and the 



438 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

owner lie down at night again in his own house, with the 
monej' under his pillow. 

The great part of this county is composed of stony 
hills, more fit for pasturage than any other purpose. 
Milk is the most profitable article that can be produced. 
The dairyman gets two cents a quart, delivered in tin 
cans at any of the frequent railroad stations. Cows yield 
an annual average income of about $30 per head. Cattle 
are driven from the west, every year and fatted here; 
and sheep would be, if it were not from the fact that 
farmers have been compelled to abandon keeping them, 
on account of the terrible destruction among them by 
dogs. 

It was proposed in the agricultural society of this 
county to petition the legislature, for a law to levy a 
general tax upon dogs to pay for the sheep destroyed. 
Goveneur Morris^ moved to amend the motion, reverse 
the order, and tax the sheep to support the dogs : as it 
was evident that a majority of the people of this county 
were more in love with dog meat than with mutton. He 
had tried to keep sheep enough to furnish his own table, 
but found that he could not do it unless he took them into 
his own bedroom every night. And even that would not 
save them ; for they are frequently attacked in open day, 
in some secluded pasture. It is a pity that every one 
who keeps a sheep-killing cur, is not obliged to eat him. 
Young calves, too, are often destroyed by these intoler- 
able pests of the Westchester farmer. 

Much of the land in this county is suitable for fruit 
culture, and would be extensively planted in orchards of 
choice fruit for the city market, except for the reason 

* Gouverneur Morris, son of the Revolutionary leader of the same 
name, born in 1813, died 1888 in Westchester County. Interested 
in railroad construction in Vermont, Pennsylvania, and New York, 
Morris' first venture was with the New York and Harlem. Later 
served on the board of directors of the Illinois Central Railroad 
until his death. Keenly interested in the development of agricul- 
ture. Letter from the Public Records Section, Archives and His- 
tory Division, University of the State of New York, to Herbert 
A. Kellar. May 11. 1936. 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1850 439 

given at length in another article. But now, who will 
plant an orchard when he knows the fruit will be all 
stolen? Or who will buy a flock of sheep to graze his 
rocky hills, although good for little else than sheep walks, 
when he knows one half of them, at least, will go to the 
dogs, instead of the butcher. 

I enjoyed a long ride with an enterprising young 
farmer, through the winding crooked roads, and over the 
granite hills, and saw much more to interest my mind 
than I can now relate. Everything has an ancient, and I 
must say rather behind-the-age appearance. Old-fash- 
ioned gambrel-roofed farm houses; old barns and out- 
buildings, covered with an old mossy coat; old mossy 
wells, with old iron-bound buckets ; old willow trees over- 
hanging the old spring house, from whence the same 
little rill has trickled down among the old grey granite 
rocks, through long centuries of old time. Old stone walls 
meet the eye at every turn, to mark where once was per- 
haps a fence; where now is an unsightly line of stones, 
greatly in the way of cultivation, which would serve a 
far better purpose if buried beneath the surface to act as 
underdrains, than they do in their present position. 
Much of the land is of a character that would be bene- 
fited by such a disposition of the surface stones, which, 
in many cases, have been laid into walls, just to get them 
out of the way. Do farmers ever think how much walls 
are in the way; or how much land they now occupy? I 
noticed upon one farm, five contiguous lots, not one of 
which contained an acre, surrounded by heavy stone 
walls; and the remainder of the farm was divided into 
inclosures of four or five acres each. Probably one tenth 
of the land was thus lost to cultivation, besides the loss 
of time in annual repairs, and keeping them clear of 
bushes. Close as this county is to the city, the majority 
of the inhabitants have not yet caught the infecting spirit 
of improvement, which is now animating the age, and 
fulfiling that prophecy which says, the crooked shall be 
made straight, and rough places smooth. But the time is 
speedily coming when old prejudices must give way. 



440 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

This is a reading age. The young farmers of West- 
chester are beginning to take cheap facilities of obtain- 
ing practical and scientific agricultural information. 
Many of them will obtain and read this journal the pres- 
ent year. I hope we may have many a pleasant evening 
together. Solon Robinson. 

New York, November, 1860. 

Carts, Drays, and Other Things. 

[New York American Agriculturist, 9:370; Dec, 1850] 

[November ?, 1850] 

In almost every town, there is some peculiarity about 
the vehicles to distinguish them from any other place. 
In New Orleans and New York, the drays are similar — 
with stout shafts, broadboarded beds and projecting tail 
pieces and low strong wheels — a very convenient vehicle 
for the purpose it is used. In contrast with these, are 
the drays of IMontreal and Quebec. Fancy a high pair 
of wheels, not stout, upon which is mounted a long nar- 
row ladder with a very diminutive specimen of a horse 
attached to one end, no matter which, and the whole con- 
cern the most inconvenient, uncouth, unappropriate af- 
fair for the purpose that could be designed, and you have 
a Canadian dray. 

In Louisiana, you may see many carts drawn by three 
mules a-breast, having wheels six or seven feet high, 
with enormous great boxes containing a travelling dry- 
goods store. Similar ones are used upon plantations. 
To load any heavy article into one, requires a good deal 
of strength and engineering. They are as unfit for a 
farm cart as a Canadian dray. 

Contrast with these a Canada cart ; such as I first saw 
at Coburg, upon lake Ontario. The wheels are about 
four feet or four and a half high, with a crooked iron 
axle, so that the bed is hung within six inches of the 
ground. The shafts are attached to the cross bar of the 
forward end. The hind end is moveable. The conven- 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1850 441 

ience of rolling barrels and bales in and out of one of 
these carts can readily be seen ; and upon hard ground or 
plank roads, or a long wharf like that of Coburg, they 
must be extremely convenient and run just as well as 
though the load were mounted up in the air as high as 
the back of an elephant. There is common sense and 
utility in such carts for many situations. A very com- 
mon sight in Canada are dog carts, and it is very sur- 
prising to see what large vehicles they are, and what 
loads a couple of stout dogs will carry. I doubt however, 
the utility. 

Another very common vehicle, in Quebec, is the "ca- 
leche." It is somewhat like the body of an old-fashioned 
gig, without the top. In place of the dash board is the 
driver's seat ; so there is room for two inside passengers. 
It is useless for me to tell you how they drive up and 
down these crooked mountain streets and lanes barely 
wide enough for two of these break-neck furies to pass. 
The thing must be seen to be believed. Don't offer to 
ride in one, unless your life is insured for the benefit 
of your family or some charitable institution and you 
feel quite willing to have your neck broken for the pro- 
motion of the happiness of those you leave behind you — 
a good way behind, if you ride long at the usual speed. 

Upon the farm of Capt. Rhodes,^ near Quebec, I saw a 
wagon that had some new features about it, at least so 
to me, though common in England, I believe. Forward 
of the axle, in place of the horses, is a frame as wide 
and as far forward as the bed, with a convenient iron 

^ William Rhodes, Quebec, second son of William Rhodes, of 
Branhope Hall, Yorkshire. England. In 1838 joined the Sixty- 
eighth Regiment of Light Infantry as ensign; after ten years re- 
signed with rank of captain. Married the daughter of Robert Dunn 
of Quebec. Represented the county of Megantic in the House of 
Assembly from 1854 to 1858. Owned a riverside farm, Benmore, 
near Quebec, where by judicious cultivation and careful stock selec- 
tion, he showed what might be done by a practical agriculturist in 
the face of severe winters. Achieved a considerable reputation as 
a sportsman and hunter. Notman, W., and Taylor, Fennings, Por- 
traits of British Americans, 2:39-50 (Montreal, 1867). 



442 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

work to attach one or two pair of shafts. The conven- 
ience of the plan is alleged to be, that, in many cases, the 
wagon can be used with one horse to advantage — that 
the two pairs of shafts are preferable to a tongue, be- 
cause the cart harness, (without traces,) answers for 
the wagon, saving time in shifting and expense of extra 
harness. 

The bed of this wagon is made as wide as it can be 
between the wheels and for convenience of turning, a jog 
is made upon each side where the forward wheels would 
strike, so it can turn very short and thus gives more room 
inside. 

I have no doubt but this wagon is worthy of imitation ; 
as, for instance, when required to be taken to the potato 
field in the morning to be filled during the day, and to be 
removed two or or three times within the time, one horse 
can do it as well as two. In bringing home a load of 
wood, as it is all the way descending from "the bush," 
(as all woodland is called in Canada,) Capt. R., finds one 
horse will do the work just as well as two. And so it is 
with many other things. The only objection I see to 
working two horses in shafts, is, that each works inde- 
pendent of the other. But for some situations, these 
and the Coburg carts, are both worthy an introduction 
in a more southern latitude. And much to the advan- 
tage of the Canadians, particularly about Quebec, would 
be an introduction of some of our very neat, strong, and 
light road wagons, in place of the universal little one- 
horse cart. 

As for the Montreal drays, no one who has ever seen a 
different kind, would continue to use such an awkward 
contrivance unless as strongly wedded to ignorance and 
stupidity as are some of the cultivators of American soil, 
who still continue the use of implements equally awkward 
and inappropriate for the purpose, as ladder drays or 
dog carts, and some other things that they laugh at their 
neighbors for using.^ SOLON. 

'The editor appended the following comment: "'Uncle Solon,' 
like many of his travelled countrymen, forgetteth the ways of his 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1850 443 

New- York Markets. — No. 1. 

[New York A7nerica7i Agriculturist, 10:77-78; Mar., 1851] 

[November ?, 1850] 

Thousands of our readers have never visited this 
metropolis — perhaps have never seen a great city market 
place, where the daily food of many thousand human 
beings is exposed for sale. It used to be, in our youthful 
days, a great mystery to us, how so many persons as we 
were told, dwelt in places where the roads were all paved 
with stones, and the houses touched each other, could 
live without a pork barrel, potato cellar, pig pen, or hen 
roost, and where they not only bought their milk, but 
water, too. 

The mystery is not yet quite cleared up in our minds, 
though we have no doubt now about the abundant supply 
of provisions ; but how all, who eat, obtain their food, is 
another question. If we could draw truthful pictures of 
city life for farmers' sons and daughters to look at, it 
would teach them to love their own homes — they would 
contrast their plain, but wholesome, sweet and clean food, 
with some of the miserable stuff sold in our markets, and 
exclaim, "God made the country — man made the town" — 
let us be contented with His work. 

With a viev/ to add to that contentment, we propose to 
devote a few pages of the present volume, in giving some 
slight sketches of our market places — those great marts 
of things, clean and unclean, upon which human life is 
here sustained. It may be instructive and amusing to 

father land, while describing a foreign one. Surely he has not for- 
gotten the peculiarities of the old Boston dray, or 'truck,' with 
shafts large and long enough for the sills of a respectable-sized 
house; nor the enormous load often seen upon one, of five or six 
hogsheads of sugar, drawn by as many horses. A long train of 
these great, uncouth-looking vehicles, winding through some of the 
narrow, crooked lanes, peculiar to Boston, is very suggestive of 
something somewhat sea-serpentish — the hogsheads answering for 
the 'humps.' Perhaps a better dray for all purposes cannot be 
found, than those in use in New York. They would be very con- 
venient farming implements." 



444 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

those who have not yet availed themselves of the cheap 
facilities of railroad travelling, to visit New York, to 
fancy themselves taking a stroll with us among heca- 
tombs of oxen, mountains of mutton, pyramids of pork, 
and piles of poultry, in Fulton Market. Do not fancy 
you will see a palace nor a market house that is an orna- 
ment to the city, like those of some of the towns in 
Canada, nor like Quincy Market, at Boston. On the con- 
trary, you will find it a common, dirty -looking, one-story 
building, with an arched roof, about two hundred feet 
square, three sides of which are elevated so as to form 
basement rooms underneath the floor that contains the 
butchers' stalls, which extend in a double line along two 
sides of the house, while the third is occupied by a scaly 
company, composed of all manner of fish that swim in the 
waters between Cape Cod and Cape Fear. 

The central portion, which is on a level with the street, 
is also roofed over, paved, and is occupied with a mixed 
multitude of everything that is eatable, to say nothing 
of that portion which is not. Here you will see an 
uncounted and uncountable quantity of barrels, boxes, 
baskets, tubs, and stacks of vegetables and fruit; and 
tons of poultry, eggs, butter, cheese, lard, and tallow, in 
all sorts of packages, except those in which neatness is 
particularly predominant. Upon one side of the square, 
is a row of dreary-looking cells, in which a large number 
of people are continually eating a great number of oys- 
ters, stewed, raw, and roasted. The quantity of this kind 
of food consumed in this city, if it could be correctly 
ascertained, would surpass belief. 

Around the market house, upon the pavement, are the 
retailers of apples, nuts, cakes, and all sorts of trinkets 
and nick-nacks. Here sits an old woman knitting, by the 
side of the same table at which she has sat for many a 
long year. She not only sells the products of her own 
labor, but that of a great number of sets of knitting 
needles, busily plied around some country fires. A little 
further on, sits another and another, selling all manner 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1850 445 

of fruits in their season. What a listless life, to sit all 
day long in the same place, day after day and year after 
year, trafficking by the cent's worth with every person 
passing by, who desires to gratify his longing for the 
luscious fruit spread out to tempt his appetite. Here 
sits a woman week after week through the fall months, 
cracking hickory nuts unceasingly. All these market 
women appear as though they were a portion of the hu- 
man family set apart for that particular calling; and 
long usage in it has unfitted them for any other. Here 
is one, who has been known to the old residents, for at 
least forty years. She was one of the fixtures that was 
removed from the Old Fly Market, when the Fulton Mar- 
ket superseded it. Judging from her healthy and robust 
appearance, she may still sit in the same stall through 
summer heats and wintry blasts, for forty more long 
years — a fit emblem of patience on a monument not 
"smiling at grief," but still peddling potatoes. 

But who comes here, rustling in silks and laces, with 
jewels glittering in the sun? She stops to talk with the 
old market woman; she is about to purchase something, 
more out of a charitable feeling, perhaps, than a want 
of the article. No, instead of giving, she is recieving 
money — a large sum too — what can it mean? "Thank 
you, mother." Is it possible? That word explains the 
whole. This is the lady's daughter in her silk-velvet 
mantilla, that the old market-woman mother in the same 
old-faded camlet cloak, sitting in the same old chair 
which she sat in before Miss was born. 

Across the street, alongside the East River, is the 
wholesale fish and live-poultry market. We have seen 
sweeter and more pleasant places for a morning walk. 
In fact, the whole market is most notoriously free from 
all appearance of neatness, convenience, comfort, or 
adaptability to the purposes of a great mart of human 
food. Yet, what a motley crowd throng hither every 
morning for their daily provisions. Lessons of economy 
may be studied here advantageously. Here comes now a 



446 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

woman in a tattered shawl and weather-beaten bonnet, 
carefully counting her scanty stock of change, studying 
as she walks, how to expend it to the best advantage. 
Let us follow silently and observe whether her skill is 
equal to her necessity. First she buys a coarse-grained, 
worthless fish, because she can get a large one for a 
shilling. Her next purchase is half a peck of potatoes, 
at the rate of a dollar and a half a bushel — ^the dearest 
food in market, unless it is the half of a half peck of 
turnips, at half the price of potatoes, which she next 
buys. The large cabbage head, at ten cents, will do but 
little better. How much better, how much more eco- 
nomical it would have been for that poor woman, who has 
a large family to feed, if she had purchased a soup bone 
of beef, or a scrag of mutton, in place of the fish; and 
instead of the potatoes and turnips, the same value in 
dry beans, or some of that sweet-looking hommony, so 
temptingly spread out upon the next table to that where 
she bought the potatoes. Yes, and at a less price per 
bushel than those ; but she knew nothing of the economy 
of buying one, instead of the other, and therefore fol- 
lowed the course that long habit taught her, when pota- 
toes were cheap and corn dear. As we pass up Fulton 
street, you will be struck with surprise at the enormous 
piles of baskets and brooms, which pass daily through 
the ordeal of buying and selling in the immediate vicinity 
of Fulton Market. 

At some future day, we will accompany you through 
Washington Market, where more farm produce is bought 
and sold in the course of the year, than in any other pro- 
vision mart in America. 

Affidavit for W. G. and G. W. Ewing 

[Ewing Papers, Indiana State Librai-y] 

[December 16, 1850] 

I Solon Robinson, of the County of Lake and State 
of Indiana, upon my solemn affirmation do declare that 
I was one of the first settlers of Lake County, Indiana ; 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1850 447 

that I was for many years the agent of Messrs W. G. & 
G. W. Ewing/ having a general superintendance of their 
lands, to prevent trespass & pay taxes &c. 

I am well acquainted with the character & quality of 
all their lands known as Indian reserves in that county, 
none of which are above medium & some below that 
grade. The section that was located for 0-Kee-chee, a 
Pottowattamie squaw, which I believe is numbered Sec. 
4 in Township 37. N. of Range 7 W. is absolutely worth- 
less, being composed of those barren hills of sand that 
encircle Lake Michigan, and intervening valleys of swamp 
or pond, skirted with a few scrubby pines & a few scat- 
tering stunted black oaks. 

In the early settlement of the county, through some 
misapprehension of the value of this land, or through a 
prejudice of the assessing officers against Indian lands, 
a very heavy tax was assessed upon this section & before 
it became fully confirmed to Messrs Ewings, it had accu- 
mulated by the law of forfeiture or penalty to a large 
sum, not now remembered, though their vouchers will 
show the amount, which I advised them was more than 
the land was worth, and that they had better give it up, 
but they replied they were unwilling to have it appear 
upon the record that they were defaulters for taxes, & 
instructed me to pay the amount, which with subsequent 
taxes by them paid far exceeds the value of said section — 
in fact it has no value & could not be sold for a dime an 
acre to any one who knew its quality. I am confident 
the present owners never would have bought it of the 
squaw if they had been informed of its character & value. 
I believe they depended entirely upon the expectation of 

' William Griffith and George Washing:ton Ewing, sons of Alex- 
ander Ewing, who came to Fort Wayne in 1822; began business as 
a firm in 1827; developed enterprises through associated firms in 
Fort Wayne, Peru, Logansport, and La Gro; expended stupendous 
energy in the fur trade, Indian trade, land speculation, politics, 
and grain shipping on the Wabash and Erie Canal. See "The 
Ewings — W, G. and G. W. Ewing," in Brice, Wallace A., History 
of Fort Wayne . . ., 23-28 (Fort Wayne, 1868); Ewing Papers, 
Indiana State Library. 



448 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

buying agricultural or timbered land of fair quality, but 
this is neither one or the other & it must have been 
located by design to be worthless, or by mistake, or as 
many sections were, without examination by the locating 
agent, or else a mistake must have been made in the num- 
ber of section, township or range, by which the reserve 
became fixed upon such a spot, as neither white man or 
Indian would have selected to receive or the government 
to give; as I cannot conceive any purpose for which it 
would be valuable to either. There is at this time much 
vacant prairie land coming within the terms of good 
farming land, though not at present saleable, upon which 
this reservation might have been located, in the same 
county. Solon Robinson 

16*'^ December 1850. 
District of Columbia | 

Washington County J to Wit: — On this W^ day of 
December 1850, before me, the Subscriber, a Justice of 
the peace, in and for Said County, personally ap- 
peared the within named John Robinson, and made 
Oath in due form of law, that the foregoing annexed 
Statements are true, to the best of his Knowledge & 
belief — 

Sworn before 

P. K. MORSELL J. P. — 

The Traveller. — No. 4. 

[New York American Agriculturist, 10:91-93; Mar., 1851] 

[December 25, 1850] 

Journey from Netv York to Florida. — A few notes of 
this journey may be interesting to readers. December 
11th, I left New York on that excellent boat, the John 
Potter, which leaves the wharf nearest the Battery on 
the North River, every day at noon, and arrives at South 
Amboy, 30 miles, in an hour and three quarters. It takes 
less than fifteen minutes to transfer a load of passengers 
and baggage to the railroad, and in four hours and a half. 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1850 449 

I tavelled with great ease the 96 miles between New 
York and Philadelphia. This is an excellent road, and is 
well furnished with first-class engines, cars, and con- 
ductors. Fare $3. I have heretofore spoken of the bene- 
ficial effects of this road to the agriculture of New Jersey. 

December 12th, I left Philadelphia at 3 o'clock by ex- 
press train for Baltimore. The distance, time, and price, 
is about the same as between New York and Philadelphia. 
Between Philadelphia and Wilmington, 30 miles, the road 
passes over a very valuable agricultural district, much of 
which being owned in England, is but poorly improved by 
the tenantry. A few miles after leaving Wilmington, the 
road penetrates a tract of country either naturally poor 
or made so by poor cultivation. The Susquehannah is 
crossed by ferry at the old town of Havre de Grace, and 
from thence to Baltimore the land is much of it flat, wet, 
cold, unproductive, and uncultivated ; yet all this might be 
warmed into productiveness by a better system of culti- 
vation ; but this will never be while land is of so little 
value as at present throughout this vast country. 

December 13th, I proceeded to Washington, 40 miles. 
Fare $1.80, with only two or three little spots like an 
oasis in a desert, to relieve the eye from the painful con- 
templation of a worn-out country — once fertile. The 
wire fence erected by Col. Capron along this railroad, at 
Laurel Factory, still draws the attention of every ob- 
serving passenger. It fulfills all the purposes anticipated 
in the description given in vol. 7 of the Agriculturist.^ I 
believe it is the only principle upon which wire fences can 
be erected to give satisfaction. It stands firm through all 
the variations of the seasons. 

The land within sight of the dome of the American 
capitol is about as unpromising to the eye as it is to the 
cultivator. It looks poor, is poor, and cultivated poorer; 
yet wherever the experiment of deep plowing, draining, 
and manuring has been tried upon this unpromising soil, 
it affords profitable returns. For a market gardener, no 

'The description appeared in the American Agriciiltyrisf, 8:255- 
56 (August, 1849). 



450 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

place offers greater inducements, than the vicinity of 
Washington. Commodore Jones/ who has a farm a few 
miles up the Potomac, told me that, when he commenced 
operations there, a few years since, it was the universal 
opinion of his neighbors, that he could not raise grass. 
But he commenced a new system with a new set of plows 
procured from you, turning over a deep furrow and fol- 
lowing with a subsoil plow, the first one ever used in that 
vicinity, and by the use of the first lime, plaster, guano, 
and bone dust, together with all the manure that could be 
saved or manufactured, he soon had good fields of grass 
for hay or pasturage. Subsoil plowing not only saves 
land from suffering by drouth, but is almost invaluable 
in preventing the soil from washing away and forming 
deep gullies. At first, his neighbors were very shy about 
experimenting with any of these fertilisers. Now, it is 
not unusual for one man to expend $500 for such sub- 
stances, and make a large profit, too, upon the outlay. 

December 17th, I passed from Washington to Rich- 
mond, 133 miles. Fare $5. The boat leaves there at 9 
o'clock, stopping at Alexandria, about 10 o'clock, passes 
Mt. Vernon, the resting place of him who said — "Agricul- 
ture is the most healthy, the most useful, and the most 
noble employynent of man."^ It arrives at Acquia Creek, 
55 miles, about one. Here we take good cars upon a rail- 
road, which, after struggling through many difficulties, is 
now in very good condition ; and if the owners of the 
lands along side of it only understood their interest, they 
would make it the means of improving large tracts, that 
now pain the eye with their barrenness. The advantages 

^ Thomas ap Catesby Jones, naval officer, born in Virginia, 1789; 
died at Georgetown, D. C, May 30, 1858. Commanded fleet at New 
Orleans during War of 1812. In command of station off California 
in 1840. Upon learning, from what he considered reliable sources, 
of war with Mexico, took possession of Monterey; was suspended 
for this action. Settled at Prospect Hill, Virginia, and became in- 
terested in wheat farming. Contributor to The Plow, 1852. Lamb's 
Biographical Dictionary of the United States, 4:452. 

^ This quotation from George Washington was used as a motto 
by agricultural periodicals of that time. 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1850 451 

of railroads to agriculture seem to be as yet but little 
understood. The time will come when these worn-out 
fields will be whitened with lime brought over this road, 
the product of which will furnish constant employment 
to the freight trains, in transporting it to market. The 
soil is exhausted upon the surface, but the land is not 
"worn out." By means of the railroad, fertilisers will 
improve and render much that now looks bleak and deso- 
late, desirable for a new class of cultivators. The great- 
est difficulty with the present owners is, they own too 
much. This and the fertility of new lands in the west 
are the causes of so much worn-out soil in the old states. 
It is more immediately profitable to cut down and destroy 
the forest and virgin soil, than it is to save or renovate 
the old fields. But who would always live a border life, 
half civilised and half savage for the mere love of cash 
accumulation? But this condition of things will continue, 
until the west is filled up, or until our government and 
people by a course of education, shall disprove that foolish 
falacious doctrince — there is no science in agriculture. 

Fifteen miles from the Potomac, we pass the town of 
Fredericksburg ; from thence to Richmond, 63 miles, there 
is no town nor village of any consideration, and but few 
well-improved looking farms in sight. The cheapness of 
land, healthiness of the country, and convenience of the 
road, I should think, offer great inducements to immi- 
grants from the north. The president of the road, a 
worthy branch of the old Virginia family of Robinsons,^ 
told me the company would transport lime at a very low 
rate for the purposes of improvement. 

December 18th was a clear lovely day at Richmond, and 
the fact that stores kept open doors and small fires, will 

^ Conway Robinson, lawyer and author, born in Richmond, Vir- 
ginia, September 15, 1805; died in Philadelphia, January 30, 1884. 
Assisted in founding the Virginia Historical and Philosophical So- 
ciety, 1831. Published several volumes relating to law and also 
prepared some studies for the historical society. In 1836 became 
president of the struggling Richmond, Fredericksburg, and Poto- 
mac Railroad Company. See sketch in Dictionary of American 
Biography, 16:39. 



452 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

show my northern readers a contrast to their own condi- 
tion upon the same day. 

Left this evening at 6'/:> o'clock upon the Petersburg 
Railroad, which is now in excellent condition, and of much 
importance to travellers — it would be more pleasant if it 
connected by cars instead of stages, with the road at 
Richmond and Petersburg. The length is 22 miles. Fare 
$1. Passengers take supper at Petersburg, and continue 
their journey at 9 o'clock to Weldon, 63 miles — five hours. 
Fare $3. Thence to Wilmington, 160 miles, eleven hours. 
Fare $5. Having driven over the same route several 
times, I am able to speak of it in a manner I could not do 
by a mere night passage. Some twenty miles south, the 
land is very level, sandy surface with clay subsoil, which 
holds the water and gives the country an appearance of 
sterility to which it is not entitled. These lands, if well 
drained and manured, and set in grass, would give more 
profitable returns than any corn farm in the state. I 
understand some New-Jersey farmers are already devel- 
oping their value. This railroad also oifers great facili- 
ties to farmers both to improve their land by lime and in 
transporting produce to market. Travellers who grum- 
ble at the bad condition of the road would not do so if 
they knew what difficulties the company have had to en- 
counter, and how poorly as yet they have been paid. Pas- 
sengers for Raleigh leave this train about midnight, right 
in the woods; and those for Wilmington have to change 
cars at Weldon at 2 or 3 o'clock, in the open air, which, 
although a serious inconvenience, is far better than the 
old mode of staging. 

Weldon is an inconsiderable village on the Roanoke, 
and there is one other upon the road between there and 
Petersburg; but from Weldon to Wilmington, there is 
scarcely a place of importance enough to bear that title. 
Nearly the whole length of this road is now in admirable 
order ; and when it is considered that it has been built by 
the persevering industry and energy of the small town of 
Wilmington, through an almost entire wilderness, I am 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1850 453 

disposed to give them a tribute of high praise for the 
great work they have done. 

From Goldsboro' to Wilmington, nearly the whole prod- 
uce of the country is turpentine. What a curious appear- 
ance to a stranger is presented by pines upon a turpen- 
tine place. The white sides of the trees look like so many 
marble monuments, when seen by a dim light through 
the dark forest. Forty miles of this part of the road is 
level and straight — the land is poor, surface water in a 
wet time nearly covering the whole vast extent. 

Wilmington is the great emporium of America for 
pitch-pine lumber and turpentine. It is situated upon 
the side of a very sandy hill, 30 miles above the mouth of 
Cape-Fear River. Here we take steamers for Charleston, 
180 miles. Fare $5 — time 17 hours. There are some val- 
uable rice plantations upon this river. Dr. Hill, whom I 
chanced to meet on the steamer going down to his plan- 
tation, told me he made 70 bushels to the acre last season, 
and has made 90. A railroad is now building to connect 
the Wilmington road with the South-Carolina roads, in 
order to avoid the unpleasant sea voyage to Charleston. 

I arrived at Charleston December 20th — perfect balmy 
May morning — think of that ye men of frost and snow 
and December storms! 

Charleston Market. — December 21st., I have just re- 
turned from viewing the abundance of green vegetables, 
flowers and spring-like productions for sale, and now sit 
writing at an open window, enjoying the luxury of such 
delicious weather in winter. How unfortunate it does not 
continue throughout the year; but the difficulties, con- 
nected with summer in South Carolina, are equal to those 
in winter to the inhabitants of Canada and Vermont; 
perhaps more so, for health is more affected. How much 
every one should study contentment with his own lot, 
striving more to improve his situation than to change it. 

Small Corn Crops. — In a visit to John's Island, I find 
much of the corn planted last spring did not produce over 
five bushels to the acre. What a difference between this 



454 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

and the premium crops of Kentucky, 190 bushels to the 
acre! Sweet potatoes did not average probably over 50 
bushels to the acre, some planters barely making seed. 
This was owing to the drouth that almost desolated many 
places. Solon Robinson. 

Charleston, December 25th, 1850. 

Georgia Burr Millstones. 

[New York American Agriculturist, 10:86-87; Mar., 1851] 

[January 6, 1851] 

Although this kind of stone has been known and used 
for a hundred years, it is like the discovery of the action 
of the water ram, or the well-known fertilising qualities 
of guano, which, though known for an equal length of 
time, required the spirit that actuates the present age to 
bring it into general use. I had often heard of it, and 
sometimes heard it spoken of approvingly, and at other 
times with doubt, and often as of little value, and for the 
reason it was but little known or used. Stones made of 
French burr blocks were brought into the state in the 
almost immediate vicinity of the quarry, and millers 
contended, and still contend, that no other material exists 
that is suitable for millstones, except that of France. 

While at Savannah the other day, I sought the oppor- 
tunity of examining this Georgia product, at the store of 
Messrs. Hoyt, agents of an association recently formed, 
called the "Lafayette Burr-Millstone Manufacturing 
Company," who now have some 20 or 30 hands employed, 
and will soon increase the number to meet the demand. 
The quarry is 100 miles from Savannah, and six miles 
from the Macon Railroad, upon the plantation of P. B. 
Connelly, extending over a tract of about 1,700 acres, 
near the line of Jefferson and Burke counties. Previous 
to the time the present proprietors commenced, in 1849, 
about a thousand pair of millstones had been made, and 
although many of them in a rough manner, and the blocks 
not so carefully selected as at present, yet, not one has 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1851 455 

ever been known to be discarded, and generally they have 
been highly approved. Still, as the opinion has prevailed 
that nothing but French burr would make good wheat 
flour, this invaluable quarry has laid almost idle and 
worthless up to the past year or two. The quantity is 
inexhaustible. It is generally near the surface, but the 
ground is considerably broken by creeks and ravines, and 
the veins of grit are from six to twenty feet thick. There 
are excellent sites for mills, where the power of water 
might be used for shaping the blocks, with machinery 
lately invented for cutting stone. 

The face of the blocks, when dressed, shows a surface 
quite as open as French burr, free from all loose pebbles, 
sand, iron nodules, and veins. In fact, the cavities when 
examined with a powerful magnifying glass, appear as 
though they were coated with an enamel of pure quartz, 
and present an immense number of fine, sharp-cutting 
edges. Years of exposure to the atmosphere present no 
appearance of change, and I am assured that the blocks 
stand fire perfectly, and that there is no difficulty in 
selecting them so as to form the whole stone of exactly 
the same quality and of equal goodness throughout the 
whole thickness. 

The present price of millstones is about the same as 
French burr, but the great abundance of material and 
the constant increasing demand, will enable the company 
to supply stones or blocks at a price so much below those 
imported, that every American farmer has a direct inter- 
est in this American quarry. So far as my own opinion 
is worth in promotion of this new branch of home pro- 
duction, I give it most freely in favor of the Georgia burr 
over any other in the world. I saw many letters from 
millers to corroborate this opinion. I recommend the 
proprietors to take immediate measures to introduce these 
stones into all the northern states. They should establish 
an agency at once in New- York City,^ not only for the 

'A note to the article announced: "A. B. Allen & Co. are ap- 
pointed the New York agents for the above millstones, and will be 
pleased to answer any enquiries regarding them." 



456 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

sale of the manufactured millstones, but the blocks, also, 
so that those now manufacturing from imported blocks 
may obtain a full supply of an article not only superior in 
quality, but less in price — one of the products of the 
teeming soil of America. Solon Robinson. 

Macon, Georgia, Jan. Qth, 1851. 

Salt for Cattle and Sheep. 

[New York American Agriculturist, 10:63; Feb., 1851] 

[January ?, 1851] 

In the preface to an article under this title in your 
last number, you invite arguments in opposition to the 
doctrine therein advanced.^ I do not wish to present any 
argument against the practice; but I will give some facts 
which may go for what they are worth, to prove that salt 
is no more necessary to the brute creation, than spiritu- 
ous liquor is to the human portion. 

During one of the winters of my residence upon the 
western prairies, salt became very scarce and difficult to 
obtain, even at $10 or $12 a barrel, the price it was uni- 
versally held at ; and many persons who had always con- 
sidered it as an article of positive necessity for cattle and 
sheep, were obliged to dispense with the use of it for 
several months. One acquaintance of mine, who is a very 
observing man, found his cattle required much less water 
than in any previous winter, and actually kept in better 
condition with the same feed, than during the seasons 
they had all the salt they desired. He came to the conclu- 
sion that cattle, when fed with an abundant supply of 
salt, in winter, are inclined to drink more cold water than 
is beneficial to their health. His cattle never wintered 
better than they did that year, nor were more free from 
disease. 

During several summers, I have had cattle running 
upon the prairie, that never tasted salt from the time 

* The article mentioned advocated the feeding of salt to cattle 
and sheep, citing the prevalence of the practice on the Continent, 
and suggesting its trial in England. American Agriculturist, 10:23. 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1851 457 

they left winter quarters in the spring, until brought up 
again in the fall; and I never have been able to see the 
least difference between such, and those that had all they 
desired every day through the season. Certainly, better 
beef never was eaten than I have butchered, entirely 
grass fed, without salt. 

I had always been very careful to salt my sheep just as 
much as they would eat, and considered it quite necessary 
to their health, until it so happened, one summer, that the 
biggest part of the common flock came to be owned by my 
neighbors, who thought as my sheep always got plenty of 
salt, it would be no more than neighborly to let theirs 
eat with them. But I thought proper to let the whole lot 
try the experiment of a long feed upon fresh grass, and 
I certainly never have had a more healthy flock than I 
did that year. There are several other observations I 
made, which have inclined me to the opinion that cattle 
and sheep can do without salt, just as well as wild deer, 
goats, and buffaloes ; that the taste for salt which all ani- 
mals manifest, is like some of the apparent natural tastes 
of numbers of the human family — more artificial than 
natural — more acquired than necessary. 

It is a fact worthy of notice, that the Rocky-Mountain 
hunters who had been used to the stimulant of salt all 
their previous lives, and looked upon it as an actual neces- 
sary, instead of a luxury, have not only learned to do 
without it, but actually grow fat and enjoy better health 
than they did in civilised life. It is, therefore, a mooted 
question, whether salt is at all necessary for man or beast. 

Solon Robinson. 

The Traveller. — No. 5. 

[New York American Agriculturist, 10:147-49; May, 1851] 

[January ?, 1851] 

From Charleston to Savannah, some 160 miles, the 
passage is made by very comfortable steamers in about 
twelve hours. Savannah is one of the best-planned towns 



458 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

in the south. Its broad streets and shady squares are 
luxurious provisions for healthy enjoyment of city life. 
The position of the town is remarkable. It is upon a 
sandy bluff 40 feet high, and the only high point on the 
river in that vicinity. An immense tract of rice land is 
within sight ; that upon the island directly in front of the 
city was bought up a few year ago by the corporation, to 
prevent the cultivation of rice so near the town on ac- 
count of the supposed injury to the health of the citizens. 

Savannah is a very wealthy and very enterprising 
place. The railroad to Macon, 190 miles, is one of the 
evidences of that fact; and although it passes through 
much comparatively poor land, its business adds greatly 
to the prosperity of the city. Mr. Cuyler,^ the president 
of the company, is entitled to be respectfully mentioned, 
not only for his politeness to me, but for his excellent 
management of the business of the whole concern. This 
is a much more pleasant route to reach Macon than the 
one by Augusta and Atlanta. The population of Savan- 
nah is now about 17,000. Three excellent daily papers 
are published with a liberal support, which indicates the 
elevation of the people — success to them. 

The day I left Savannah, January 3d, was a beautiful 
sunny day, contrasting strongly with the appearance of 
the first freight train we met coming down, covered with 
snow. This railroad grade is worthy of note. It rises 
very regularly about two feet to the mile, for 70 miles, 
when it passes a slight elevation and descent to the Ogee- 
chee River, 101 miles from Savannah, and 200 feet above. 
Between there and the Oronee there is a grade of 30 feet 
to the mile, which is the greatest on the road. The depot 

^ R. R. Cuyler, associated with the Georgia Central Railroad and 
instrumental in securing the completion of the track to Macon in 
1843. Became president of this road in 1845, and of the Southwest- 
ern Railroad in 1855, retaining his office in the Central. Active in 
securing lower freight rates, especially on fertilizers. Martin, 
John H., Columbus, Georgia, 1827-1865, 160 (Columbus, Ga., 1874) ; 
Phillips, Ulrich B., A History of Transportation in the Eastern 
Cotton Belt to 1860, 262, 288-91, 381 (New York, 1908). 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1851 459 

at Macon is 340 feet above the level of that at Savannah. 
The elevation of land above tide water determines the 
character of climate as much as latitude. The first hills 
on the route up, are seen near Macon, which is surrounded 
with those of moderate elevation, dotted with beautiful 
residences, surrounded by lovely gardens and other evi- 
dences of luxury and comfort. 

Macon is a great cotton depot. Like nearly all Georgia 
towns, it is built upon very broad streets, which being 
sandy, are not muddy though unpaved. Much of the soil 
of the surrounding country has been wickedly destroyed 
by a system of cultivation prevalent all over the south, of 
plowing very shallow, up and down hill, which has had 
the effect to send the surface all down to the rivers to 
extend our territory a little further into the Atlantic 
Ocean. The waters of all the rivers of Georgia, once so 
pure and limpid, have never run clear since the country 
has been inhabited by the whites. Probably no soil in the 
world has ever produced more wealth in so short a time, 
nor been more rapidly wasted of its native fertility, than 
the central portion of this state. The cheapness of land 
and its great fertility has been its ruin. 

On the night of January 7th, I left Macon in the mail 
stage, for Tallahassee, 220 miles; fare $22; time, 60 
hours; roads to be imagined; taverns unimaginable; 
coaches, horses, and drivers to match; and taken alto- 
gether, not to be matched anywhere else upon this earth ! 
yet, this road passes through some of the richest counties 
of land in the state. Many of the planters of Houston 
and Baker, make 1,000 to 1,200 pounds of seed cotton to 
the acre, or five to eight barrels of corn ; cultivating about 
20 acres to the hand, 15 in cotton, and five in corn, be- 
sides potatoes and oats, both ^f which grow remarkably 
well. Much of the land is a rich loam containing abun- 
dance of lime, and generally level. 

It was my intention to stop at Albany a few days, and 
if any of my friends in that county regret that I did not, 
they may be assured it was not from any want of dis- 



460 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

position; but because the "hotel" of that fine-growing 
town is such an abominable nuisance, that I did not feel 
as though I could endure it until I made the acquaintance 
of some kind friend, whom I doubt not would readily take 
pity upon a traveller unfortunately located in such an 
uncomfortable place, as soon as informed of his deplor- 
able condition. Although much in need of rest, I felt 
compelled to proceed. One meal was all I could endure. 
Thus much by way of explanation. This part of the state 
is very new, having been mostly settled since the Creek 
war of 1836. Steamers run upon Flint River, in high 
water and carry out the cotton to Apalachicola. The 
greatest objection to the country is limestone water and 
muddy soil. There are yet vast tracts of land in forest 
in this part of the state, though much of it is of secondary 
quality. 

As we approach Florida, the surface becomes undulat- 
ing, and around Tallahassee, it is really hilly, and ele- 
vated several hundred feet above the level of the ocean. 
Much of the land in Middle Florida is of a dark-red color, 
composed of sand, clay, lime, and iron, and having an 
unctuous feel as though it contained fatty matter. It is 
the finest red land in America, and as well worthy the 
attention of imigrants as any region of country I know 
of, taking into account its fertility, cheapness, and warm 
climate; and for one so far south, undoubtedly very 
healthy. It is a soil easily washed away when only plowed 
about an inch and a half deep ; but as it is in places 20 or 
30 feet to the bottom, it will be more than the present 
generation of land destroyers can do to utterly ruin the 
whole country. Besides, by a good system of sidehill 
ditching, such as has been adopted by colonel Williams,' 

' Colonel Robert White Williams, prominent planter of Leon 
County. Went to Florida as a surveyor-general when the first land 
office was opened at Pensacola. Later moved with the land office 
to Tallahassee. Became agent and attorney for General Lafayette 
in 1832; this relation was maintained by the latter's heirs. In this 
capacity, disposed of the Florida township granted to Lafayette 
by the United States. Took an active part in various territorial and 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1851 461 

with level cultivation, the fertility of the land may be 
maintained forever. Even deep plowing, that is, plowing 
with two light mules only, and subsoiling with a common 
bull-tongue plow, with one mule, as lately practiced by 
Major Ward,^ so mellows the land and gives such an op- 
portunity for the water to soak into it, that the washing 
is nearly all prevented. By a good system of cultivation, 
the land never can be worn out, and in time, would be- 
come one of the garden spots of the earth. It is anything 
but that now. The average quantity of land tilled to the 
hand, is twelve acres of cotton and eight acres of corn, 
besides, oats, rye, and potatoes. The average yield is 
probably something over 600 pounds of seed cotton to the 
acre, or about six bales to the hand, as it does not turn 
out quite one third the weight in clean cotton. The aver- 
age yield of corn is not over fifteen bushels, some say not 
over ten, to the acre. Corn is liable to a disease here, 
called "Frenching," that is new to me. It is only affected 
in small sections of the field; when about half grown, it 
Vv^ithers and turns white, and never comes to maturity. 
The cause is unknown. Most planters make sufficient corn 
for food and feed, but do not make pork for the people. 
That comes from New York or New Orleans. Cattle and 
sheep are plenty, and just as mean as could be desired. 
They are worthless to a cotton planter, causing him to 
build a great deal of fence and affording no profit. There 
is a great deal of land besides the red land, not generally 
esteemed ; yet, some of it that seems to be composed of 

early state developments. Vice-president of the National Agricul- 
tural Society, 1841-1842. Died, 1864. Letter from Kathryn T. Abbey, 
Florida State College for Women, to Herbert A. Kellar, May Ifi, 
1936. 



' Major George T. Ward, prominent lawyer and Whig politician 
of Leon County. Member of the Constitutional Convention of 1838 
at St. Joseph. Territorial delegate to Congi-ess, 1841, 1843. As a 
member of the Secession Convention in 1861, led the fight against 
im.mediate and separate state action, but signed the Ordinance of 
Secession. Became a colonel in the 2nd Florida Infantry and was 
killed in action at Williamsburg, May 5, 1862. Ibid. 



462 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

sand produces wonderfully. The natural growth of tim- 
ber on the sandy land is mostly long-leaved pine. On the 
red lands and creek bottoms, white oak, red oak, live oak, 
water oak, magnolia, beech, maple, ash, sassafras, dog- 
wood, cherry, sweet gum, long and short-leaved pine, and 
some other kinds, perhaps. The country, like all other 
limestone countries, is not well watered. There are but 
few mill sites, and stock water in many places is scarce. 
One singular feature of the country is, full-sized rivers 
rise suddenly out of some cavern of the earth, and lakes 
and streams in other places send their waters down into 
the earth. Wells are frequently hard to obtain, and yet 
people will not learn that cisterns are better and cheaper, 
particularly in the red land, which is of such a firm na- 
ture that no brick work is needed ; the hydraulic cement 
may be plastered right upon the earth. 

Middle Florida, particularly in the vicinity of Tallahas- 
see, was settled by a high-bred class of inhabitants, which 
makes society there very agreeable, and, notwithstanding 
they are real land destroyers, they are money makers. 
Nearly all the land is plowed with very small one-horse 
plows, either home-made or from the manufactory of 
A. B. Allen & Co., New York.^ The majority of mules 
are the very meanest to be found in the United States. 
The advantages offered to any farmer desirous of locat- 

* The editors added the following comment on the .subject of 
plows and plowing: "It is not our fault that small, cheap plows are 
taken in preference to those of a larger size. We have shown the 
advantages to the south of deep plowing over and over again in the 
Agriculturist; and every summer, when the planters do us the 
favor of making their annual calls at our establishment, we ver- 
bally bring the subject up before them. Frank and intelligent 
gentlemen as they are, they at once acknowledge the truth of what 
we say; but then, they add, 'it is not quite time yet for us to 
change our system; deep plowing, we reckon, will come by and by;' 
and down goes the oi'der again for small plows, and off their rich 
soil continues to travel into deep gullies and rivers! Time, how- 
ever, will ultimately work a change for the better, yet not much of 
one, we fear, in our generation. Our successors will probably reap 
the harvest from the seed we are now sowing." 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1851 463 

ing a cotton plantation are probably greater than in any 
other state east of the Mississippi. Improved lands can be 
bought from $5 to $10 an acre — less than the present 
value of a single crop. In fact, the greatest misfortune to 
the country is, that lands are too cheap — men will waste 
them when of so little value. This is the true cause of so 
much waste and worn-out land throughout all the cotton 
states. It is more profitable to destroy than to save. I 
have something further to say of Florida in my next. 

Solon Robinson. 

The Traveller. — No. 6. 

[New York American Agricnlturist, 10:234-36; Aug., 1851] 

[March 9?, 1851] 

One of the most improving planters in the vicinity of 
Tallahasse, is Col. Robert W. Williams. His plantation, 
on Lake lamonee, twelve miles north of the town, is suc- 
cessfully side-hill ditched, and that is more than can be 
said of many others. He has more improved plows and 
other tools, and saves more manure, oyster shells, and 
bones, than any other man I know of in Florida. He is 
laughed at by his neighbors, as a theorist, experimental 
book farmer, &c. ; but they are glad enough to follow him 
in everything that is successful. It is easy now to pro- 
cure good plows of the merchants, or other agricultural 
implements from your New-York Agricultural Ware- 
house; and yet, few are aware how much they are in- 
debted to Col. Williams for what he has done in the way 
of introducing such things into Florida. 

There are many other persons and things which I shall 
notice hereafter, in this "land of promise." At present, 
being a traveller, I must travel on, merely giving the 
very pleasant town and people of Quincy a passing re- 
mark. The location is about as handsome as could be 
desired; the surface gently undulating, sandy-loam soil, 
and being surrounded by deep hollows, requires no arti- 
ficial grading. These hollows abound in springs and ex- 



464 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

cellent sites for the hydraulic ram. One of the staple 
products of this, Gadsden county, is Spanish tobacco. It 
is grown in several places in Florida, principally from 
Cuba seed, and is in high repute among cigar makers for 
wrappers; it is more handsomely spotted than the same 
article grown in Cuba. The first quality is grown exclu- 
sively upon new ground, the first year after clearing off 
the timber ; in fact, it will not spot upon old ground, and 
besides, the leaf grows thicker, and not so suitable for 
wrappers. Not more than one acre can be planted to 
the hand, such is the immense labor of cultivating this 
crop, principally owing to the unceasing task of keeping 
it clear from worms. An average crop is 500 pounds, 
and the average price about 22 cents a pound. The sec- 
ond year's crop is heavier but less valuable, while the 
third year will not pay, on account of the great labor of 
keeping it free of grass. One gentleman told me he had 
made $600 a year, to the hand, out of his tobacco and 
other crops, as the tobacco does not prevent them from 
raising corn, and part of a crop of cotton in connection 
with it. The crop is mostly sent to New Orleans, for 
sale. 

February 22d. — When I left Quincy, the oak trees were 
putting on spring foliage, and the wild jasmine filled the 
roads with fragrance from its beautiful flowers of gold ; 
farmers were planting corn, and the few who ever think 
of such small matters, were busy putting garden seeds in 
the already warm earth. If Quincy could be easily ap- 
proached, and had only a decently comfortable hotel, it 
would become a great resort for invalids during winter. 
From there to Chattahoochee, 22 miles, the road I found 
passing nearly all the way through pine woods upon a 
pretty level ridge, until near the river, where there was 
an awful hill, down which I risked my neck in a crazy old 
coach, and dark night, just to get an idea of the elevation 
of the table land behind. If the traveller expects to find 
the town of Chattahoochee, he will be slightly disap- 
pointed. It consists of a tavern, store, warehouse, and 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1851 465 

such other out buildings as can be crowded upon a little 
mound of about a quarter of an acre rising out of the 
overflowed swamp, serving for a ferry and steamboat 
landing for a great extent of country. A delightful sum- 
mer residence it must be for the full enjoyment of hunt- 
ing aligators, fighting mosquitos, and shaking off the 
ague. 

It was my intention to visit Mariana, and return here 
to take a boat up to Columbus; but finding some ladies 
and gentlemen who had been waiting five days, I de- 
termined to join them upon the very first, which luckily 
arrived a few hours after I did. As I had no desire to 
risk so long a waiting upon such circumscribed limits, I 
hope my friends in Mariana will accept this as my excuse 
for not keeping my engagements. 

The cotton lands upon the lower part of the Chatta- 
hoochee River are broad and low, and subject to inunda- 
tion every year. A few miles above Flint River, on the 
west branch, there is one small, rocky point which is al- 
most the only one above high water to be seen in a whole 
day's sailing. 

Fehrtutry 22>d was like a balmy May day; the early 
trees along the river as green as summer, while azalias 
and jasmine flowers lent a delightful fragrance to the 
air as we wound along the rich alluvial shores, a great 
portion of which are still in forest; for, notwithstanding 
the temptation of the rich harvests this soil yields, with 
little preparation and cultivation, the miasma is as 
abundant as any other product. 

We left the low bottoms at close of day, and during the 
night, passed Fort Gaines and Eufaula, where the clay 
bank rises 160 feet, a considerable portion of it perpen- 
dicular from the water. Warehouses with unbearded 
sides, ten or twelve stories high [?] built in the side of 
these bluffs, present a singular appearance, when lighted 
up by the glare of half a dozen brilliant light-wood 
torches that are flashing a glad welcome to the approach- 
ing steamer, in the hands of that ever- joyous set of be- 



466 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

ings, the negroes, whose happy and contented faces and 
cheerful glee, always adds a charm to a night landing 
upon a southern or western river. 

During all the 24th, we were sailing between some of 
the finest plantations upon this rich river. The Oswichee 
Bend, formerly owned by General Hamilton,^ has lately 
been purchased, with some 280 servants, by Mr. Wright, 
of Cheraw, South Carolina. The price, $140,000, is con- 
sidered low. The last crop sold for $22,000. I believe 
there are about 3,000 acres of land, including the hills, 
though a thousand acres, more or less, is not considered 
in sales of this kind ; the number of servants and number 
of cotton bales produced, is the criterion of value. 

Average Crops upon Bottom Lands. — Judge Mitchell,^ 
of Columbus, whose plantation is on creek bottom land, 
30 miles from that town, on the Alabama side, told me 
he averaged from 1844 to 1850, 2,100 pounds, (five and 
a quarter bales,) to the hand, making at the same time a 
full supply of corn and pork. As he is considered a first- 
rate planter, this may be taken as a full average yield of 
the bottom lands of this river for a series of years. 

Chattahoochee Cotton Lands. — These are ranked 
among the best in the United States. General Abercrom- 

' James Hamilton, born in Charleston, South Carolina, May 8, 
1786; died at sea, November 15, 1857. State legislator, Congress- 
man, and governor of South Carolina. Organized the Bank of 
Charleston. Railroad director and land speculator. Operated profit- 
ably five large rice plantations, two cotton plantations, a brickyard, 
and a rice mill. Champion of Texan independence. Moved to Texas 
in 1855. See sketch in Dictionary of American Biography, 8:187-88. 

* Americus C. Mitchell, son of Julius C. B. Mitchell and Kather- 
ine Daniell, and grandson of John Mitchell, officer of the American 
Revolution, born November 18, 1819, in the section of Hancock 
County, Georgia, formed from Washington County. In 1836 moved 
with his family to Barbour County, Alabama, and settled at Glens- 
ville. Lawyer, extensive planter, and known for his cultural attain- 
ments. Married Mary Billingslea in 1841. His house, mentioned 
later by Robinson, was built in 1843 or 1844. Letter of Peter A. 
Brannon, Montgomery, Alabama, to Herbert A. Kellar, June 2, 
1936. 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1851 467 

bie^ is one of the oldest planters on the Alabama side 
below Columbus, having settled there in 1835 ; his crops 
may be taken as a pretty fair specimen of the capability 
of productiveness under ordinary cultivation. He v^^orks, 
now, 40 hands all told ; say 30 full ones, and plants 300 
acres of cotton, and 250 of corn, besides considerable 
quantity of oats, some wheat, potatoes, turnips, rice &c., 
and makes all his own meat, and a little to spare, and 
sells corn. His cotton has averaged, per year, 1,000 
pounds in the seed, to the acre, and five bales to the hand, 
and six cents a pound for price. He plants corn the mid- 
dle of March, in the bottom of water furrows, between 
four-foot beds ; first running a subsoil plow. Plants cot- 
ton middle of April, four to six feet between rows. Never 
burns cotton and corn stalks, nor waste manure, although 
the land he cultivates is the very finest kind of river bot- 
tom. Says he keeps too many cattle, and is convinced 
that he might buy more pork with the corn consumed 
than it makes. 

Columbus. — What traveller has ever visited this thriv- 
ing, go-ahead town v/ithout feeling proud of the enter- 
prise of his countrymen? I could not say all I might of 
this place, in a whole number of this paper. Many 
wealthy citizens of Columbus have dwellings out upon 
the hills near town, where they enjoy the fresh air, amid 
beautiful grounds, shade trees, shrubbery, and pleasant 
gardens. Among these, are Col. Chamber's,^ Dr. Wild- 

* James Abercrombie, born in what was formerly Hancock County, 
Alabama; moved to Russell County in 1830. An officer of the 
Mobile and Girard Railroad in 1850. An extensive planter, owning, 
with his sons-in-law, eight hundred slaves. Adjutant-general, War 
of 1812. Died in Russell County, Alabama, 1867. Memorial Rec- 
ord of Alabama, 2:385-86 (Brant & Fuller, Madison, Wis., 1893). 

' Colonel James M. Chambers, coeditor with Charles A. Peabody 
and others of The Soil of the South, an agricultural periodical. 
American Agriculturist, 10:133 (April, 1851). Colonel William H. 
Chambers, the publisher, in January, 1850, established the South- 
ern Sentinel, a Columbus newspaper. Southern Cultivator, 9:56 
(April, 1851); Martin, Cohimhus, Georgia, 44; The Plow, 1:61 
(February, 1852). 



468 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

mon's, Messrs. Hurt's/, Flournoy's,- Woolfolk's,^ Mitch- 
ell's, and others' of our friends and subscribers. 

Mr. Charles A. Peabody,* one of the editors of "The 
Soil of the South," the most successful strawberry cul- 
turist in the world, lives on the Alabama side about five 
miles from town. Several very large cotton and other 
mills, occupy a small portion of the immense water power 
of this place. 

Columbus is 350 miles above Apalachicola, its natural 
seaport, and 200 above Chattahoochee, a passage of two 
days and one night. Fare, on a good boat, $7. 

March 6th. — To Barnesville, 70 miles — $7 by stage — 
roads such as every traveller remembers with the same 
feelings the boy did the whipping, awful while it lasted 
— very glad its over with. Here I took good cars to At- 
lanta, 62 miles, upon one of the excellent railroads which 
abound in Georgia. 

Atlanta is a sort of Jonah's-gourd city, which has 
grown up entirely within five years. It is at the northern 
terminus of the Central Railroad from Macon, 101 miles, 
the western terminus of the Georgia Railroad, from 
Augusta, 168 miles, the southern terminus of the State 
Railroad, from Chattanooga 138 miles, and the eastern 
terminus of a new road not yet quite completed to West 
Point to join the Alabama road. It is already a place of 
note, but will be more so, for it holds a few men of the 
right sort to make any new town go ahead rapidly. One 

* Henry Hurt, a planter and slaveowner, moved to Russell County, 
Alabama, in 1825, He had eight children, the eldest of whom was 
Joel Hurt. Reed, Wallace P. (ed.), History of Atlanta, Georgia, 
155 (Syracuse, N. Y., 1889). 

' Thomas R. Flournoy, Columbus, Georgia, private in the Georgia 
Regiment of Volunteers which went to Mexico. Member of Georgia 
Light Infantry, Columbus. White, George, Historical Collections 
of Georgia, 115 (3d ed., New York, 1855). 

' Colonel John Woolfolk. 

* Charles A. Peabody was a member of the Executive Committee 
of the Southern Central Agricultural Association. The Plough, 
the Loom, and the Anvil, 6:657 (May, 1854). Contributor to the 
American Agriculturist, 1851. See post, 497-98. 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1851 469 

of the most prominent of these, is R. Peters,^ who was 
educated for and practised civil engineering many years, 
but is now one of the most improving farmers in Geor- 
gia. He has done more than any other man in this part 
of the state to introduce all kinds of improved stock. His 
favorite cattle, after a fair trial of several breeds, are 
the beautiful Devons. How much a new country is in- 
debted to such men, is never fully appreciated. Mr. P. 
and his partners have built a very superior steam flouring 
mill here, which is not only a convenience, but an orna- 
ment to the place. Unfortunately, the wheat crop of '49 
and '50 were so cut off they have been grinding wheat 
from New York for the supply of the country. 

Near Atlanta, resides Mr. J. V. Jones,- who has lately 
become somewhat celebrated as the grower of a remark- 
ably fine quality of upland cotton of a very long staple, 
upon his plantation, in Burke county. It is known as 
Jethro cotton, and is well worthy the attention of all 
planters. This part of Georgia is noted for the salubri- 
ousness of its climate. The soil around Atlanta is not 

' Richard Peters, born in Germantown, Pennsylvania, November 
10, 1810; died at Atlanta, Georgia, February 6, 1889. In 1835 
went to Georgia and was very successful as assistant engineer of 
the newly organized Georgia Railroad. Set up a stage route from 
Madison, Georgia, to Montgomery, Alabama, which he later changed 
from Montgomery to Mobile. In 1860 was elected president of the 
Georgia Western Railroad and after the Civil War became director 
of the Atlanta and West Point Railroad. Moved to Atlanta in 1856 
and erected the largest flour mill south of Richmond. In 1847, 
established a plantation in Gordon County. Although a conserva- 
tive Whig, accepted the new order when Georgia seceded, and after 
the Civil War became a Democrat. See sketch in Dictionary of 
American Biograjihy, 14:510-11. 

^ James V. Jones. Interested in stock raising. Member of Com- 
mittee on Stock at Agricultural Fair at Stone Mountain, 1848; 
ex officio secretary of the Southern Central Agricultural Associa- 
tion, 1851; assistant secretary of Georgia State Fair, 1851; exhib- 
itor of cattle and sheep. Successful in growing pears in the South. 
Contributor to agricultural periodicals. Southern Cultivator, 6:156 
(October, 1848) ; 9:80, 107, 157 (1851) ; The Plough, the Loom, and 
the Ativil, ():G5G (May, 1854); Raleigh North Carolina Farmer, 
2:197-98 (February 15, 1847). 



470 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

first quality, except for fruit. Apples are abundant. Mr. 
Peters is experimenting, which will be the best grass to 
cultivate, as that is only lacking to make it one of the 
very best wool-growing regions. 

Stone Mountain is an object, which attracts the atten- 
tion of all travellers, a few miles after leaving Atlanta, 
on the road to Augusta. It is an immense mass of naked 
granite, standing up out of the comparative level around, 
like the great pyramids of Egypt. It is a land mark that 
will endure forever. If it had been a lime rock, it would 
have been more valuable to the agriculturist; for all the 
lands along this road would be wonderfully benefitted by 
an application of calcareous matter. In sight of this 
great natural curiosity let the traveller rest. 

Solon Robinson. 

The Traveller. — No. 7. 

[New York American AgriculUirist, 10:308-9; Oct., 1851] 

[March 17?, 1851] 

We took our last siesta in the shade of Stone Moun- 
tain. Let us awaken at the whistle of the locomotive, 
which has penetrated even into the solitude of the recesses 
of this granite wilderness. 

It is March 10th. The morning, cool and frosty in this 
elevated part of Georgia — the evening delightful. Farm- 
ers and gardeners are all busy plowing and planting corn 
and vegetables, and preparing land for the great staple 
crop of the south. It is a lovely country and salubrious 
climate ; but the green pastures and sleek, beautiful occu- 
pants of pastoral countries are not here. It is said, grass 
and clover does not flourish in this climate. Has it been 
tried upon deep-tilled, highly-manured land sufficiently to 
prove it will not endure the heat of summer? Grass re- 
quires deeper tillage to prepare the land than is usually 
given in the south. It also requires to be moist and rich. 
Some of the swamp lands possess both the latter requi- 
sites, and might possess the other, if the owners would 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1851 471 

plow as some of the northern grass-growing farmers do, 
ten or twelve inches deep. If Georgia farmers will so pre- 
pare such land and seed it to grass and then spread, every 
year, over the surface, a coat of straw or coarse manure, 
to serve both as a shade and fertiliser, it is my opinion 
they can stop the transit of some of the bales of Con- 
necticut hay, which annually find their way up this road, 
200 or 300 miles into the interior of one of the best states 
in the Union. 

Madison. — This is a lively, fine county town, 60 miles 
below Atlanta, on the railroad, containing about a dozen 
stores, good court house, tolerable fair hotel, and a gen- 
eral appearance of somebody alive having been about 
there within the last century. But that which gives it 
the most lively and interesting appearance, is what the 
town should be most proud of — the several large schools. 
Here are two seminaries for girls, containing nearly 300 
just in that joyous period of life known as the teens. 
These two schools are under the patronage of the Meth- 
odist and Baptist churches, the leading sects of the coun- 
try, and both are constantly exercising a rivalry which 
results in great benefit to the whole country. 

Among the citizens of Madison are many wealthy 
planters, some of whom own plantations in the western 
states, but prefer this lovely healthy spot for a residence. 

It is surprising to see how little attention is paid to 
growing good fruit in this part of Georgia, where the soil 
and climate seem so well adapted to its production. Only 
a few farmers seem to feel an interest in trying to im- 
prove their orchards. One of the few is General Jessup,^ 
who has a fine cottage a couple of miles out of town, 
where he is making efforts to have one of the best or- 
chards the country is capable of producing. The land is 

' Brigadier General Thomas S. Jesup, an officer of the United 
States Army who rendered important service during the Creek 
Indian troubles in 1836. Knight, Lucian Lamar, Georgia's Land- 
marks, Memorials and Legends, 2:1028-29 (Atlanta, 1914); Heit- 
man, Francis B. (comp.), Historical Register . . . of the United 
States Army, 1789-1903, vol. 1:573; vol. 2:26 (Washington, D. C, 
1903). 



472 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

somewhat hilly, clayey soil and gravelly — rocks, granite, 
and slate. Timber, oak, chestnut, pine, &c. He says he 
produces the best peaches in the world. No doubt they 
are very good, if not superlatively so. The Skuppernong 
grape is the only one that grows to perfection here, as 
well as generally throughout the south. 

March 12th. Farmers are now busy planting corn. The 
usual stand is one stalk in a place, three and a half 
by four feet apart, or two stalks four by five feet, and 
the average yield 10 to 15 bushels to the acre. The 
weather is now as mild and lovely as May or June at New 
York. 

Cotton, the staple crop here, is planted about the first 
of April, three by four feet apart, and yields about 600 
pounds in seed, to the acre, which makes about 200 
pounds of ginned cotton. 

Greensborough, 20 miles below Madison, is another 
county town; but it has not that lively appearance, 
though it contains a good many gentlemen of wealth and 
intelligence, among which may be ranked Dr. Poullain,^ 
planter, merchant, and cotton manufacturer, who has 
lately built a very tasty residence, and is ornamenting 
and improving his grounds as every gentleman who has 
the means should do, so as to make home attractive and 
pleasant to every member of the family, as I believe is 
the case with him. Senator Dawson,- who is said to be an 
improving planter, also resides here. One evidence of his 
disposition to improve, is the fact that he bought two 
tons of Peruvian guano last spring, to experiment with 
upon cotton. I very much fear, owing to the drouth the 
result will be such as to discourage him from continuing 
its application. But I hope Mr. Dawson is too good a law- 
yer to give up his case because one witness may fail in 
giving him the right testimony to sustain it. 

Speaking of lawyers, reminds me that some of the most 
improving cultivators of the soil, are gentlemen of this 

* Dr. T. N. Poullain of Greene County, Georgia, was a member of 
the Secession Convention. Knight, op. cit., 2:568. 
'See Robinson, l:269n. 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1851 473 

profession. Why? Because they are reading men. They 
are disposed to look to every source of information by 
which they can gain knowledge in the profession of farm- 
ing, as well as law. One of this class is Judge Cone,^ an 
attorney of this place, who, though far less interested 
than many other gentleman, seems to take a delight, 
whenever he visits New York, in strolling through your 
great agricultural warehouse, looking by the hour at the 
great improvements which have been made in all the 
implements of husbandry, since the day when the old 
clumsy wooden moldboard Carey plow used to kick his 
shins upon the rocky hills of Connecticut. And that is 
not a long age ago, for there I, too, learned the trade of 
plowman, by the same ill-contrived machine, and an equal 
amount of hard kicks. 

Mr. John Cunningham,^ merchant, manufacturer, and 
planter, is another of the gentlemen of Greensborough 
worthy of mention and commendation in every agricul- 
tural paper in the country, for he is one of their most 
active and influential friends. He says wherever these 
are taken and read, men improve, and the crops are in- 
creased one hundred times more than the papers cost. 
Mr. C. has done a great deal toward introducing improved 
tools among the farmers of Green county, and is con- 
stantly trying by words and example to induce them to 
adopt such a system of tillage as will renovate and restore 
to fertility the old fields that now blot the fair face of 
nature, and make this once rich and lovely land look like 

'Francis H. Cone, born September 5, 1797; died May 18, 1859. 
Judge of Supreme Court of Georgia and member of state legisla- 
ture. Knight, 0]). cit., 2:359. 

* John Cunningham, planter. Interested in wheat culture in the 
South. Established a mill on the Augusta Canal with James L. 
Coleman, and advertised prizes for the best wheat grown in that 
vicinity. Offered wheat at his mill in even exchange for corn. Ad- 
vocated and practiced deep tillage. Member of the Executive Com- 
mittee of the Southern Central Agricultural Association. South- 
em Cidtivator, 6:169 (November, 1848), 9:56 (April, 1851) ; Amer- 
ican Agriculturist, 10:341 (November, 1851); American Farmer, 
4th series, 4:412 (June, 1849). 



474 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

a land of desolation, wasted by the wicked hand of some 
destroying power, instead of the wasteful ignorance and 
mismanagement of the very people who should have pre- 
served it even unto the third and fourth generation. 

There are several other gentlemen entitled to high 
credit for the efforts they have made to arrest this de- 
stroying process, and save this fine country from de- 
struction. 

Union Point. — This is where the road from Athens 
unites with the main stem, seven miles below Greensbor- 
ough, 39 from Athens, and 75 miles from Augusta. 

Let us rise up and look out upon this blessed March 
morning, so like those of lovely May with us, and as we 
shall find but little to interest us in looking over the coun- 
try, we will hold a most social and animated discussion 
with these Georgia farmers on our trip up to Athens. The 
rapid movement of the freight train with an attached 
passenger car of a most dirty and uncomfortable appear- 
ance, won't prevent our conversation. It runs slow and 
sure. All of these pleasant conversations with the culti- 
vators of the soil tend to improve it. At Athens we have 
much to see and say. Let us first take our rest. In an- 
other month I hope we shall meet again. 

Solon Robinson. 

The Traveller. — No. 8. 

[New York American Agriculturist, 10:335-36; Nov., 1851'] 

[March 19?, 1851] 

We approach Athens, literally, by railroad, as men- 
tioned in my last from Union Point ; we do nothing more, 
for the terminus of the road is upon one hill and the 
town upon another, half a mile off, a deep valley and mill- 
stream intervening. Upon this stream are cotton and 
paper mills. This part of Georgia was designed by na- 
ture for a manufacturing district, and in the hands of a 
New England population, would be made so in a very 

' Reprinted in part in the Southern Cultivator, Augusta, Georgia, 
9:185 (December, 1851). 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1851 475 

short time. The country is a high, granite, hilly region, 
with numerous rapid, rocky streams, with a salubrious 
climate; while the soil, generally, is not the kind to de- 
light a southern planter, for the reason it requires a dif- 
ferent mode of tillage from that which they have long 
practiced, to the destruction of some of the most fertile 
spots in the state. 

The whole soil of this part of the state seems to be 
rocks turned to dust — doomed to decay — for it is made 
up of decomposed granite — the color and strata of the 
rock and the veins of gneiss, are seen in the clay in the 
same position as when all was solid rock. Wherever gran- 
ite rocks are found in place, there may be seen the decay 
still progressing. 

Every body condemns the soil around Athens as poor. 
I grant that it is not as rich as the bottom lands of the 
Chattahoochee, yet it is far better than some portions of 
Massachusetts, which are worth a hundred dollars per 
acre for farming purposes. The surface of the country 
is very uneven, and liable to wash, and has been greatly 
injured in that way, and will be greatly more injured 
unless the system of side-hill ditching is adopted : not the 
little miserable affairs which have been attempted upon 
some farms I visited, but a most thorough and complete 
work, of large and strong ditches, so as completely to 
prevent the water from coursing down the cultivated 
hill-sides, as it has done ever since the country was set- 
tled by the whites. 

There is a spot within the town ycleped, a botanical 
garden. I believe it belongs to the college — an institu- 
tion of some notoriety here — and a more romantic, beau- 
tiful spot to improve is rarely seen. An expenditure of 
three or four thousand dollars, instead of the scanty pit- 
tance doled out to the gardener, who seems to be a man 
of taste, would make this garden a place for the Athen- 
ians to be proud of. There is an unfortunate lack of this 
kind of public spirit of improvement and beautifying 
towns, in nearly all of them at the south. It is not for 



476 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

want of individual spirit, for that abounds and shows 
itself in the adornment of a great many private man- 
sions, of which, and of a high-bred, refined population, 
Athens may proudly boast. 

Much as the soil is decried, I found wherever it is 
treated to a deep cultivation, with manure, it always pays 
for such attention. It is the very home of peaches and 
most kinds of fruit. This has been demonstrated pretty 
well by Dr. Ward,^ who is a scientific gentleman, devoted 
to horticulture and the cultivation of fine fruits. 

The natural growth of timber, which always affords 
some indication of the quality of soil, upon the hill land, 
is oak, hickory, and short leaf pine : on the bottoms, pop- 
lar, ash, gum, &c. — the whole once covered with cane. I 
generally make it a point in visiting places, to enter as 
much as possible into conversation with those who culti- 
vate the soil, upon the best manner of improving it, and 
increasing their crops, with a view to obtain and impart 
information. I found here, one man of a class I have 
often met before, who insists that cast iron plows are 
the ruin of the land; that they turn the earth over and 
bury all the fertile portion so deep, nothing will grow 
afterwards. He fully believes the soil never should be 
stirred over two inches deep, and that the little, old fash- 
ioned shovel plow is the best ever invented. However, 
there are some of his neighbors who believe in using 
better tools, and it is to be hoped, that example may 
produce a good effect upon the next generation, if it does 
not upon the present one. 

Cherokee Rose Hedge. — The name of this rose con- 
veys the idea to many persons that here, in the country 

' Malthus A. Ward went to Geor<?ia from Salem, Massachusetts, 
and was elected professor of Natural History in the University of 
Georg'ia in 1831. He served for eleven years. He was curator of 
the botanical garden attached to the University and made it into a 
remarkable show place, collecting there the plants from all parts 
of the world. The trustees of the University gave up the garden 
a few years before the outbreak of the Civil War and today only a 
few remnants of Ward's fine work are to be seen. Letter of E. 
Merton Coulter to Herbert A. Kellar, May 6, 1936. 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1851 477 

once occupied by that people, is its native home, and that 
it will flourish in all places of parallel latitude. It does 
grow and form a good fence, but is not to be depended 
upon. Dr. Camac^ told me that his father's hedge was 
killed to the ground in the winter of 1834, and '35, but 
grew again from the roots. In latitude 32°, in Missis- 
sippi, it was killed the same year so it never sprouted, 
except here and there a stalk. Although it forms one of 
the most impenetrable hedges, when in vigorous growth, 
it would never answer to depend upon a plant for general 
farming purposes, which is liable to be destroyed in one 
night of hard frost. 

In mentioning the name of the late Dr. Camac, I can- 
not pass it by without leaving a slight tribute to his mem- 
ory, as one who was alive to the importance of working 
a radical change in Southern cultivation, and teaching 
the people that agriculture was a science, which required 
study and improvement of the mind to improve the soil. 

The people of the south owe a debt of gratitude to this 
good man, for the benefits they have derived from that 
excellent agricultural paper. The Southern Cultivator, 
for he was its founder. He also introduced a variety 
of choice fruits around his mansion in Athens, to demon- 
strate to the citizens how easily they might provide them- 
selves with such luxuries, upon a soil and climate where 
they already enjoyed the still greater one of health. 

Improvement of the Soil in this part of the state can 
be best and cheapest brought about by the use of lime, 
and peas as a substitute for clover, with the addition of 
some fertilizer, such as guano, bone-dust, or phosphate of 
lime, and an improved system of cultivation, with im- 

' Dr. James Camak (spelled variously Comae, Camac, Camak), 
Athens, Georgia. Removed from Milledgeville to Athens in 1817. 
One of the builders and a director of the Georgia Railroad. First 
president of the Central Bank, and editor of the Georgia Journal. 
Died June 16, 1847, at the age of fifty-tsvo. Contributor to the 
Farmers' Cabinet, October 15, 1843. Knight, Georgia's Landmarks, 
Memorials and Legends, 2:662-63; Southern Cultivator, 5:104 
(July, 1847); American Agriculturist, 6:260 (August, 1847); Al- 
bany Cultivator, n. s. 4:257 (August, 1847). 



478 INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS 

proved implements. A change for the better is already 
going on, and when the time comes that men cannot run 
off to the West to get new and cheap land, in some bilious 
swamp, then will these granite hills be appreciated at 
their real value, and these old broom-straw fields and 
pine barrens be restored to usefulness, and covered with 
a healthy, happy, wealthy population, 

March 18th was a day worthy of the latitude of Que- 
bec, but the cold did not stop the corn planting. The 
average yield of corn is estimated at ten bushels to the 
acre. The average yield of cotton, about 400 pounds, in 
the seed. It grows very small, say about two feet high, 
and is planted, on most of the lands, two and a half by 
three feet. 

Col. Billups, one of the gentlemanly planters of Athens, 
whose hospitality I partook of, contends that side-hill 
ditches will not answer the purpose here, because the 
rain falls in such torrents, it fills up or sweeps them all 
away. That was the case upon his plantation five years 
ago. I contend, however, that if made as they should be 
at first, they will neither wash away nor fill up. 

Light Crops of Oats. — I had supposed this a favorable 
soil for oats. But I have the authority of Dr. Hull,^ an 
intelligent planter, for saying that many of the fields 
sown do not average 500 lbs. straw and grain, all told. 
The probable reason is, the ground is so poor for want 
of manure, so shallow plowed for want of better plows, 
that a few days of sun exhausts all the moisture, and 
leaves the tender plants to struggle for life in a bed of 
dust, lying upon a foundation nearly as hard as brick. 

Cultivation of Grass. — This is almost entirely neg- 
lected. I know the difficulty of making a hay crop in 
this climate, yet I cannot help thinking it may be profit- 
ably done upon many spots unfit for any other crop. 

' Dr. Henry Hull, son of the Reverend Hope Hull, who settled in 
Athens, Georgia, in 1803, and died there October 1, 1818. Dr. 
Henry Hull was a successful practitioner of medicine and subse- 
quently professor of mathematics in the state university. White, 
Historical Collections of Georgia, 393-94. 



SOLON ROBINSON, 1851 479 

Letter to Mariah Robinson 

[Typewritten copy in Harry Robinson Strait Papers, Gary] 

Lexington Ga— Sund. eve. March 23, '51 
Mrs. Mariah Robinson — 
My Dear Wife. 

I am sitting all alone in a great house — that of ex- 
Gov. Oilman^ — the family have all gone to church from 
which I excused myself to get a few leisure minutes to 
tell you where I am and that I am pretty well, tliough 
never quite clear of a slight head ache; but I have used 
to that. I have just finished a few stanzas to my Daughter 
which I hope each of them will treasure up in their mem- 
ory so they may retain them even after the evening 
shades o'er take me. 

It is now upwards of two long months since I have 
heard from you & it will be a week more before I can 
reach Charleston where I hope to get a letter. I dont 
know when I