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Title: Trip to the West and Texas
       comprising a journey of eight thousand miles, through
              New-York, Michigan, Illinois, Missouri, Louisiana and
              Texas, in the autumn and winter of 1834-5.

Author: A. A. Parker

Release Date: December 2, 2016 [EBook #53648]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ASCII

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TRIP

TO THE

WEST AND TEXAS.

COMPRISING

A JOURNEY OF EIGHT THOUSAND MILES,

THROUGH

NEW-YORK, MICHIGAN, ILLINOIS, MISSOURI, LOUISIANA AND TEXAS, IN THE AUTUMN AND WINTER OF 1834-5.

INTERSPERSED WITH ANECDOTES, INCIDENTS AND OBSERVATIONS.

WITH A BRIEF SKETCH
OF THE
TEXIAN WAR.


BY A.A. PARKER, ESQ.


Second Edition.


CONCORD, N.H.:
PUBLISHED BY WILLIAM WHITE.
BOSTON:
BENJAMIN B. MUSSEY.
1836.

Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1835,
By White & Fisher,
In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of New-Hampshire.


[Pg iii]

PREFACE.

The author of this work, unknown to fame, and unacquainted with the art of book-making, has endeavored, in the following pages, to give some account of the great Western and Southern Country. In performing this task, he has not attempted the regions of fancy and fiction; but has told his own story—"a plain unvarnished tale," in his own way. And although it may not indicate much depth of research, or possess all the graces of polished diction and charms of novelty, yet he hopes it may be found to contain information sufficient to repay a perusal.

He spent five months on his journey, and examined the country through which he passed, as much as time would permit:—Its soil, climate and productions—the manners, customs and health of the inhabitants—the animals, reptiles and insects—in short, all things favorable and unfavorable in the New World. He has freely spoken of the country just as it appeared to him; and he believes the information this work purports to give, may be safely relied upon. But if it should be found to contain errors of fact, or of opinion, he is confident they will be deemed unintentional.

It would have been quite easy to make a much larger book of the author's travels; and had he followed the example set him by some of the journalists of the day, he should have done so. But his object was not to make a large and expensive volume. He has given in a concise form, such descriptions, incidents and anecdotes only, as he believes may instruct and amuse, and enable the public to form a correct opinion of the country. How he has succeeded in his undertaking, others, of course, will judge for themselves; he hopes this little work may be found not entirely destitute of useful and entertaining matter, and prove an acceptable offering to his friends and fellow-citizens.

In the appendix, will be found a particular description of Michigan, and a Brief Sketch of the Texian Revolutionary War.

In this sketch, the author has consulted all the accounts given of this sanguinary war, and he believes it will be found correct in all its essential particulars: but he does not wish to conceal the fact, that amidst the hurry and bustle of a Revolution perfect accuracy is hardly attainable.


[Pg 5]

CONTENTS.

CHAPTER I.
Objects of the Trip—Albany, situation and appearance—Erie canal basin—western travellers—rail road—canal boats, packets, line boats and scows—accommodations—number of boats—mode of passing each other—tow-pathbridges—accident in crossing—Erie canal—Villages and grog-shops—Trenton falls—Ithaca falls—Taghcanic falls—Rochester—canal aqueduct—Genesee falls—Sam Patch's last leap—flouring mills—Lockport—double canal locks—deep cut—arrival at Buffalo.
Page, 13
CHAPTER II.
The city of Buffalo—steamboat on the Niagara river—Fort Erie—Black Rock—visit to Niagara falls—Canada shore—Manchester—State of New-York—emigration—return to Buffalo—different routes to the West—passage in steamboat—Cleaveland—Maumee—Monroe—number of emigrants—vessels on the lake—Detroit—the Canada shore—ferry boats.
25
CHAPTER III.
Travelling by stage to the mouth of St. Joseph river—miry roads—Ann Arbor—Upsilanti—oak openings—prairies and woodland—Michigan, level, clear water, but not pure—-Jackson—Marshall—Gull lake and prairie—Kalamazoo river—Bronson—Pawpaw river—St. Joseph village—lake Michigan—misfortune of an emigrant—crossing the lake—Michigan city—stage road on the beach.
35
CHAPTER IV.
Chicago, a general description thereof—Pottawattomie tribe of Indians, their appearance and actions—the land back of Chicago—the lakes and their original outlet through the Illinois river—character of the inhabitants of Chicago—house rent and provisions.
43
CHAPTER V.
Trip to Fox river—fellow travellers—river Oplane—Du Page river [Pg 6]and Naper's settlement—big and little woods—pleasant settlement of emigrants—Fox river—upper house—lost in a prairie at night—log house—travelling towards Rock river—gravel hills—Walker's grove.
51
CHAPTER VI.
General description of the north part of Illinois—various kinds of trees—prairies—excellent coal—government grant of land—unsurveyed land settled upon—pre-emption right—not subject to fever and ague—wild game—prairie wolves and mode of killing them—prairie rattle snakes, blackbirds and squirrels—manner of judging of a new country—anecdote of a Vermont emigrant—New-Hampshire emigrant—statements of settlers and landholders not always to be credited.
57
CHAPTER VII.
Holderman's Grove—Ottawa—junction of Fox and Illinois rivers—Hennipen—Princeton—present and past situation of an emigrant—massacre of Elijah Philips by the Indians, and the fortunate escape of his companions.
66
CHAPTER VIII.
Peoria—beauty of the surrounding country—fever and ague—scholars studying aloud in school—stages from Peoria—anecdote of a tavern keeper—Illinois river—passage down it in a steamboat—narrow lakes—high bluffs—Pekin—Beardstown—Naples—arrival at upper Alton.
74
CHAPTER IX.
General description of the state of Illinois—streams skirted with timber—more than half prairie—a level State—generally rich soil—American bottom—military bounty lands—beautiful region of Sangamon river—the best tracts of land in the State—more good land than any other State—cause of the existence of prairies—country once inhabited by a civilized race anterior to the Indians—its rivers, Kankakee, Oplane, Du Page, Fox, Illinois, Rock, Spoon, Kaskaskia, Wabash, &c.—lead mines—productions—milk-sickness—chief towns—schools, &c.
79
CHAPTER X.
Burning of the prairies—backwoodsmen—society—meeting-houses and school-houses—what kind of goods an emigrant ought to take with him—cheapness of provisions—manner of commencing a settlement—ploughing the prairies—guarding the improvements against the prairie fires—junction of the Missouri with the Mississippi—arrival at St. Louis—a description of the town—steam ferry boat.
92[Pg 7]
CHAPTER XI.
General description of the state of Missouri—south part generally barren, or wet and unhealthy—soil not muddy—prairie on the Mississippi—banks of the Missouri—large prairies destitute of wood and water—productions—prairie blossoms—wild animals, snakes, &c.—dryness and purity of the atmosphere—diseases—mildness of the winter—lead mines and minerals—chief towns.
99
CHAPTER XII.
Voyage down the Mississippi in a steamboat—high bluffs—screw auger grist mills—shot towers—curiosities—dangers of the Mississippi navigation—narrow escape—run aground on a sand bar—mouth of the Ohio—cargo of the boat—amusements on board—history of one of the ladies—"Queen of the Nile"—description of the steamboat—price of passage—wooding the boat—ludicrous fracas on board—noise of the boats, &c.—peculiarities of expression of the western people—names of money.
107
CHAPTER XIII.
Independent frankness of the western people—eastern people—towns on the river—great earthquake at New Madrid—bluffs on the river—woodcutters—serpentine course of the Mississippi—negro slaves on board—one died of the cholera—benefit of steamboat navigation—flat boats still in use.
119
CHAPTER XIV.
Arrival at Natchez—description of the city—starts for Texas with another traveller—cotton plantations—description of the cotton plant—passage through the great Mississippi swamp—cypress knees, water and mud—Tensaw river—overtaken by night in the swamp—gloomy situation—lake Lovelace—planter's house on Indian mound—mildness of the weather—good accommodations—travelling in a right spirit—anecdote of a testy traveller.
125
CHAPTER XV.
Outlet of the lake—Washita river—Harrisonburg—pine woods—description of a planter—Red River rightly named—changes at its mouth—arrival at Alexandria and description of the place—race-course and horses—death of a gambler—fruit trees and vegetables—moschetoes.
134
CHAPTER XVI.
Bayou Rapide—fine cotton plantations—stream running in opposite [Pg 8]directions—accompanied by another traveller—pine woods—planter's house—price of meals, &c.—Spanish moss—bottom land covered with dense forest—pine woods—the widow's house—manner of lodging travellers—inquisitiveness of the people—emigrants to Texas—Sabine river.
139
CHAPTER XVII.
Arrival in Texas—oak openings and prairies—plantations of corn and cotton—St. Augustine—arrival at Nacogdoches—its grotesque appearance—Indian trade in deer pelts—Galveston bay and Texas land company—four leagues of land for a dog—pine woods—Indian mounds—mounds in Ohio, Missouri and Illinois—Monastery near a mound—their origin and use—Neches river—new made bridge.
149
CHAPTER XVIII.
Leave the pine woods—wet prairie—Trinity river—planter's house—death of an emigrant's wife—perplexities of emigration—an emigrant lost his money—breach of trust in a hired man—beautiful prairies—muddy streams—red cedar—petrified wood—mode of grinding corn—living from hand to mouth—beautiful prospect—Indians on horseback—massacre of twenty Polanders—muddy swamp—Brazos river—Spanish trader—Indians more friendly to Americans than Spaniards—prairie country—Cole's settlement—live oak—Colorado river.
160
CHAPTER XIX.
General View of Texas—herds of buffalo and wild horses—mustangs, manner of catching—seacoast flat—Galveston bay and Texas land company—burning of the prairies—fine grazing country—wildgame—deer-hunting—shooting deer in the night—productions of the soil—list of forest trees—Spanish moss—health of the country and climate.
169
CHAPTER XX.
Rivers of Texas—seacoast—mill-seats—land grants—number of inhabitants—exports—inhabitants indolent—cheapness of land and manner of obtaining it—reptiles and animals—panther—flies—moschetoes—Indian tribes—water too warm.
182
CHAPTER XXI.
Towns in Texas—Spanish villages—Mexican garrisons—Texas—mechanics—Texas and Cohahuila united—courts of law—professional men—unlawful punishments—salt lake—negroes indented—boundaries of Texas—general appearance of the country—rainy season—roads and carriages—emigration. [Pg 9]
196
CHAPTER XXII.
Emigrants unhappy—Mexican republic unsettled—Col. Austin—imprisonment—Texians slandered—healthy portions of the country—what an emigrant ought to take with him—price of stock—mail routes—currency—best spot in Texas—emigrant puzzled—how property may be acquired.
204
CHAPTER XXIII.
Arrival at San Felipe—billiard room—gambler shot—bloody affray about a lady—ten men to one woman in the country—arrival at Columbia and Bell's landing—started down river in a canoe—Brazoria—went on board a vessel—hunting excursion of the mate—Brazos river—Velasco—sandy beach.
213
CHAPTER XXIV.
Passed over the bar and left Texas—reasons for emigrating in the fall—means for going to Texas—speculation—passengers on board—sea sickness—vessel run aground—Mississippi steam tow-boats—sugar plantations and negroes—making sugar.
222
CHAPTER XXV.
City of New-Orleans—vessels in port—muddy streets and filthy gutters—houses of dissipation—character of the inhabitants—resort of knaves and vagabonds—ship yards—canal and railroad—no wharves.
228
CHAPTER XXVI.
Start down the river—nunnery—battle-ground—negro slavery—the situation of the negroes—general views on the subject.
235
CHAPTER XXVII.
General description of the Mississippi river—its source—its tributaries—Wisconsin and Illinois—Missouri, its source and tributaries—gates of the Rocky mountains—Ohio river, its general character and appearance—White, Arkansas and Red rivers—outlets of the Mississippi—falls of St. Anthony—Dacota Indian woman—river banks—width of the stream and depth of water—Mississippi swamp—serpentine course—color of the waters—the most interesting river in the world.
246
CHAPTER XXVIII.
Sail for Boston—sea voyage disagreeable to a landsman—change of scenery—Chatham, Boston—arrival at home.
262
CHAPTER XXIX.
Retrospective Glance at the Great Mississippi Valley—character, appearance and natural productions—conclusion. [Pg 10]
266
APPENDIX.
Michigan, 285—population, 285—face of the country, 286—Wayne county, 292—Monroe county, 294—Washtenaw county, 295—Macomb county, 297—Oakland county, 299—St. Clair county, 301—St. Joseph county, 302—Cass county, 304—Berrien county, 306—Lapeer and Saginaw counties, 308—Shiawassee county, 309—Calhoun county, 309—Kalamazoo county, 310—Branch and Hillsdale counties, 311—Lenawee county, 312—Barry, Eaton and Ingham counties on grand river.
312
TEXIAN REVOLUTION.
First Campaign.

Introductory remarks, 323—causes of the war, 324—parallel case, 326—Col. Austin released and sent to Texas, 329—capture of the armed schooner Correo, 330—first battle on land at Gonzales, 331—capture of Goliad, 333—Col. Milam, 335—army marched towards San Antonio, 339—San Antonio besieged, 340—Commissioners to the United States appointed, 340—San Antonio stormed and taken, 341—the brave Col. Milam killed, and sketch of his life, 342.

Gen. Mexia's expedition, 345—28 men shot at Tampico, 347—volunteers from the United States—Col. Stanley's regiment, 348—General Council convened, and citizens of Goliad make a declaration of independence, 349—state of affairs in Mexico, decree of Santa Anna, 351—embargo laid, 352—Indians called to aid Santa Anna, 353—flag of Texas, 354—post-offices and mail routes, 354—Mexicans preparing for another campaign, 355—situation of Texas, 356.

Second Campaign.

The Mexican army arrive in Texas, commanded by Santa Anna in person, 358—Situation of San Antonio, 359—capture and massacre of Col. Johnson's party, 360—second attack upon the fort, 361—the fort attacked at midnight, taken and the garrison all slain, 362—Gen. Cos, 365—Declaration of Independence, 366—officers of the government, 368—Goliad abandoned, and Col. Fanning party attacked in the prairie, 369—Col. Fanning surrenders, and his party massacred, 370.

[Pg 11]

Gen. Houston retreats to the Brazos, 371—the inhabitants become alarmed and flee, 371—massacre at Copano, 372—skirmish at sea, 372—Gen. Gaines marches to the frontier of Texas, 372—Indians on the western prairies, 373—CAPTURE OF SANTA ANNA, 375—the Independence of Texas certain, 378—Texian Independence agitated in U.S. Congress, 378—Table of the Chief Towns in Texas and distances from San Felipe, 380.

The public approbation of this work, so fully manifested by a rapid and entire sale of the first edition, has induced the publishers to issue another, much enlarged and improved edition. The broad expanse of country, stretching from the Alleghany mountains to the Pacific ocean, much of which is unsurveyed, unsettled and unexplored, is an interesting portion of the United States. It is believed, there are two hundred million acres of public lands yet unsurveyed in Wisconsin Territory—fifty millions in Michigan—and 800 millions in Missouri, Mississippi, and Arkansas. To all these, are to be added the illimitable tracts, hardly yet trodden by the foot of civilized man, which lie in the unpeopled immensity, on both sides of the rocky mountains. The value of this vast domain, at the minimum government price, defies all calculation. What a source of revenue for the present and the future!

But when the boundless resources that now lie hidden in its hills and mountains shall have become developed—when the vast plains shall have been settled—and towns, villages and farm houses arise in the lonely wilderness, and the teeming soil be cultivated—who then will be able to estimate the value of this great territory of the West? In ten years, the West will have a majority in the United States Congress; in a century, a large portion of it will contain a population as dense, perhaps, as that of the Atlantic States. Public attention, within a few years, has been directed to this section of our country—emigration has received a new impulse—government lands are sought for with avidity, and the whole country is rapidly settling. To the emigrant, speculator, and indeed, the whole people of the United States as joint owners of the public domain, any book giving information upon this subject, must be acceptable and of real value. The publishers, therefore, anticipate a rapid sale of the present edition.


[Pg 13]

TRIP
TO THE
WEST AND TEXAS.

CHAPTER I.

In September, 1834, I left Exeter, New-Hampshire, for the purpose of visiting the Western States and Texas. Although public attention had been for some time directed thither, by various published sketches and frequent emigration, yet so little was definitely known, that I was induced to travel through these sections of the country to learn their actual situation and condition. My object was not to visit the settled regions of the country, a full knowledge of which may be obtained from books, but to see some portion of the unknown and unsettled regions of the West and the South. My particular attention was, therefore, directed to Michigan, Illinois, Missouri, Louisiana and Texas.

But so rapidly are some portions of this new country settling; so constantly are new villages[Pg 14] springing up in the wilderness; and so continually are improvements making, that history must continue to lag behind the reality. To keep any thing like an even pace with population, and the public constantly informed of the actual condition of the country, would require, like an almanac, an annual revision and publication of its history.

I took passage on board the stage, through Brattleborough and Bennington, to Albany. About twelve years ago, I travelled over this route, and was gratified to find so many improvements in the villages, farms, and especially in the stage road, since I had travelled it before. In passing through Vermont, I found a new road had been made to avoid the high hills over which it formerly passed, so that now, I believe this is the easiest and safest route across the Green Mountains.

Two opposition turnpikes were almost completed from Bennington to Troy—one entering at the upper, the other at the lower part of the city. The public have been badly accommodated in this quarter. The old road is rough, hilly and circuitous. One of the turnpikes would have been abundantly sufficient; but if Troy chooses to make two, the travelling public will not probably object. Opposition seems to be the order of the day; and although it has caused much improvement in the ease and facility of travelling, yet it is often troublesome and annoying. As we drove up to the door of the stage house in Albany, an agent of one of the[Pg 15] steamboats, thrust in his head and gave us a handbill of a boat—enquired if we were going down the river, and without waiting for an answer, said it was a good boat, swift, low pressure engine, start at nine in the morning, fare to New-York city only fifty cents. In the bar-room, we had to pass through the same ceremony with the agent of another boat; and I had to take a third edition in the street next morning.

The Erie canal terminates in a large basin, immediately on the banks of the Hudson river, so that the freight of the canal boats can be conveniently transferred to the river boats. Western travellers can here take passage on board the canal boat, or go on the railroad to Schenectady and take a boat there. But as the canal is twice the distance of the railroad, travellers generally choose the latter. Travellers from the North, when accompanied by their families and baggage, usually stop at Troy, and take a canal boat there, for the West.

The ancient city of Albany has the appearance of much business and wealth; and some portions of it are pleasant, especially in the region of the State House and other public buildings. From the river, the ground rapidly rises, so that the city stands upon the side of a hill, and makes a fine appearance, when viewed from the opposite shore.

The railroad commences in State street, a short distance below the State House yard; and so steep is the ascent, that the cars are drawn for a mile by[Pg 16] horses. Here a steam engine was hitched on, and we started off at a rapid rate. The distance from Albany to Schenectady is sixteen miles, and we travelled it over in less than an hour. Here we were assailed by the agents and captains of the canal boats, and those who could make the most noise and bustle, and obtain the most passengers, were the best fellows.

There are three kinds of boats in general use on the canal. The Packet boats, drawn by three horses, and go at the rate of about five miles an hour. They are fitted up in good style, intended exclusively for passengers and their baggage—having elegant cabins, drawing-rooms, berths, &c. Fare, five cents a mile and found.

The Line boats—designed for freight and passengers also. These are drawn by two horses, and travel at the rate of two and a half or three miles an hour. The fare is one cent a mile for passage only; and one and a half cents addition per mile, for board. Families travelling to the West, generally take the Line boats. They can travel much cheaper than in any other mode. They furnish their own provisions, and have the privilege of cooking on board the boat. Provisions are plenty and cheap, and can be bought at almost every stopping place, along the whole line of the canal.

And the Scows, used exclusively for grain, flour, lumber, &c., which are employed by the farmers to carry their own produce to market. These are[Pg 17] drawn by two horses; and many of them have two sets of horses, and stalls made on board to keep one set, while the other draws the boat; and at regular intervals, relieve each other. By this means, they keep the boat continually going, night and day.

The Packet boats ply between the large towns on the canal, from Schenectady to Utica; from Utica to Rochester, &c., so that a traveller, in going through the whole route, must shift his baggage and himself from one boat to another, three or four times. But the Line boats run the whole length of the canal, from Albany or Troy to Buffalo.—These boats are furnished with horses by a company, who have them stationed at regular intervals of about twelve miles the whole distance.

All the boats, at night, carry two brilliant lights in the bow, so as to enable the helmsman to steer, and avoid other boats when they meet. I took passage on board one of the Troy and Erie line. I found good accommodations, and good company. In the forward part of the boat, were the gentlemen's and ladies' cabins; in the stern, the dining and cook rooms; and in the centre the place for freight. It was about seventy feet long, and twelve or fourteen feet in width. Three other passengers, besides myself, went the whole route; a lady and her daughter from Pennsylvania, and a Dr. Warren of Rhode Island; and way-passengers were continually coming aboard, and leaving the boat, at our[Pg 18] several stopping places. I found travelling on the canal pleasant, and in fine weather, delightful. We were continually passing villages, farms, locks, viaducts, or boats; and these, with the company aboard, afforded an agreeable variety. When I wished for exercise, I would jump ashore, and take a walk along the hard trod tow-path.

I was really surprised to find so many boats on the canal. We met them almost every mile, and sometimes, three or four together. The Line boats are owned by companies; and the captain told me that forty-five boats belonged to his line. When one happens to run aground, which is sometimes the case, when deeply laden and the water low, it is of course, in the centre of the canal; so that boats cannot pass on either side; in such an event, twenty or thirty boats will be congregated in a few hours.

The boats pass each other on the left hand side, and without trouble or delay. The whole process of passing belongs to the outside boat; or the one the farthest from the tow-path. All the inside boat has to do, is to steer near the tow-path, and keep on as usual. The outside boat hauls one way, and their horses the other, and lets the tow-rope slack, so that the inside horses and boat can pass over it, between them. The tow-path sometimes changes from one side to the other of the canal; and the horses are transferred by means of a bridge. They pass underneath the bridge, and[Pg 19] turn up on to it the further side; so as to keep the tow-rope clear of it. The riders display their horsemanship by whipping over these bridges at full speed. Accidents, however, sometimes occur. One day, the Packet boat passed us, a short distance from a tow-path bridge; and as the horses were going at full speed across it, the forward one slipped, fell over the railing, and drew the others after him. The rider saved himself by leaping from the horse to the bridge. The two forward horses fell into the water, and came out uninjured; but the rear one fell across the edge of the tow-path and was killed on the spot.

The Erie canal is a great and noble work; and has gained a niche in the temple of fame, for its great founder. It has been of incalculable benefit to New-York, and the rising States in the West; and must continue to be, in all time to come. Now it is completed, and in successful operation, men may cease to wonder; but so improbable was it generally thought to be, to make such a long line of canal, on a route so difficult and expensive, that an intelligent gentleman informed me, when he was asked by one of the surveyors, if he should not admire to see boats passing before his door; emphatically replied, if life were guaranteed till that event, he would then willingly resign it. A few years only passed, before the event did happen, but he is not yet quite willing to die.

[Pg 20]

It was indeed a great undertaking. None but a man of a gigantic mind, of steady purpose and firm resolution, could have conceived, planned and executed it. It all along bears the marks of so much labor and expense, that a common mind would have been deterred from making the attempt. The canal passes over an extent of country much more rough, broken and hilly than I had supposed. Long levels of canal are found to be sure; but they are made at great expense, by filling up deep gullies, winding round the side of hills, or deep cuts through them; and by walling up the side of streams, or aqueducts over them.

Every few miles, the canal passes through a village. Many of these have sprung into existence, since the completion of the canal; and others have much increased in size, wealth and beauty. They are all ornamented with grog-shops, containing, among other miscellaneous matter, an abundant supply of "boat-stores."

New-York has a great variety of romantic scenery. It has more beautiful and stupendous water-falls than any other State in the Union; and the lover of nature's choicest works might very pleasantly spend months in viewing them. Trenton Falls, on the West Canada Creek, a large stream that empties into the Mohawk, are situated about twenty-four miles above its mouth. They consist of several chutes for the distance of two miles, commencing near Black river road, and terminating at Conrad's[Pg 21] mills. The upper fall is about twenty feet; and the descent above, for two miles, is not less than sixty feet. The water, here compressed into a narrow space, is received into a large basin, rolls down a precipitous ravine a hundred feet in depth, and presents to the eye the most romantic peculiarities.—Some of the topmost crags overhanging the stream; and here and there, a hardy tree, having gained a foot-hold in the crevices of the rock, throws its branches athwart the abyss. There are six distinct falls. The next below, are two pitches, called the Cascades; where the water falls eighteen feet—the Mill Dam Fall, of thirteen feet.

The High Falls, consisting of three pitches—one of forty-eight, the second of eleven, and the third, of thirty-seven feet—Sherman's Falls, of thirty-five feet. The last fall is at Conrad's mills, and is only six feet; but the descent of water, from the top of the upper fall to the lower one, is three hundred and eighty-seven feet—and the whole forms as wild and romantic a scene as the enthusiastic lover of nature's most eccentric works could desire. Organic remains have been found in the ravine in abundance, and Mr. Sherman has a cabinet of them, which are exhibited to the curious.

Ithaca Falls are situated at the head of Cayuga Lake. The high fall of Fall river is the first that strikes the eye, in going from the steamboat landing to the village, and is one hundred and sixteen feet in height. Two immense piles of rocks enclose[Pg 22] the stream. On the right hand high up the bluff, a mill-race is seen winding around a point in the bank, suspended in mid air; and sometimes an adventurous visitor, may be seen cautiously wending his way along the dizzy path on the verge of the abyss. The mill-race was built, by letting a man down over the giddy steep by a rope fastened to a tree above, who dug holes in the bluff, in which to fasten its principal supports. A short distance from this, up the rocky bed of the creek, is another splendid fall—not so high as the first, but more wild and beautiful. Above these, are three more falls, the upper one of which is the highest fall of water of any, and is the most grand and imposing. These four falls have a descent of four hundred and thirty-eight feet in the short distance of a mile, and present to the eye as great a variety of the romantic and beautiful in nature, as earth affords.

There are Cascadilla, Six Mile Creek, Buttermilk Creek, &c. &c. many romantic scenes and splendid falls; but it would interfere with the design of this work to stop to describe them. I cannot, however, leave the high falls on Taghcanic Creek without a passing notice. They are eight miles from Ithaca, near a landing place called Goodwin's point; and are two hundred and thirty-eight feet perpendicular! Who shall attempt to describe such a magnificent exhibition as this; or the effect it produces on the mind! This is said to be the favorite resort of parties of pleasure and lovers of the picturesque. And[Pg 23] who, but the real invalid, would ignobly spend his time at Saratoga, when scenes like these await him in the interior of New-York.

After passing many fine villages, we at last arrived at the city of Rochester. It is indeed, a large and flourishing city. It is situated on both sides of the Genesee river, is well built, mostly of brick, and contains over thirteen thousand inhabitants. Near the upper part of the city, the canal crosses the river, by a splendid aqueduct of red free-stone, eight hundred and four feet in length, having eleven arches, and elevated fourteen feet above the common level of the water. While the boat stopped, I went down the river to see the great falls. They are about eighty rods below where the canal crosses, and are ninety-seven feet perpendicular. Here Sam Patch made his last leap in the autumn of 1829. In the centre of the river, and at the verge of the precipice over which the water falls, is a ledge of rocks, called Table Rock, about six or seven feet in height above the water. On this Table Rock, a scaffold was erected, about twenty-five feet high, so that from the top of the scaffold to the bottom of the falls, the perpendicular height was one hundred and twenty-five feet. From this giddy height, Sam Patch made his "last jump," in the presence of a vast multitude of people, who had assembled to witness this daring feat, and, as it proved, fatal leap. Sam never rose from the boiling flood below; but his body was carried by the current to the mouth of[Pg 24] the river at the lake, and was there found, the next spring. Who will be the biographer of Sam Patch? What a pity it is some phrenologist had not examined his head. He must have had a tremendous jumping bump. For myself, I could not stand on the dizzy brink of the river, and look down into the awful chasm below, with any tolerable degree of composure. These things, however, much depend upon practice. A sailor would have thought nothing of standing on the most projecting rock; or of walking along the highest precipice.

In 1811, the site of Rochester was a wilderness; now it is a large city. Its great staple of trade is flour. It contains eleven flouring mills with fifty-three run of stones; and can grind twelve thousand bushels of wheat in twenty-four hours.

After travelling from this place sixty-three miles, we found ourselves at Lockport, on the mountain ridge. At this place, the canal has a double row of locks adjacent to each other; five for ascending, and five for descending; each twelve feet deep, making the ascent sixty feet. This is the most admirable work of the whole canal. Between the two rows of locks, are stone steps, guarded on each side by iron railings. In 1821, there were here but two houses; now, it contains four hundred, and is a pleasant village.

Passengers for Niagara Falls, leave the canal here, as they are as near them, at this place, as they would be at Buffalo. After travelling nineteen miles, the[Pg 25] first three of which, was through a deep cut of limestone, from twenty to thirty feet in depth, we came in full view of the majestic Niagara river. On the margin of this stream, the canal passes by the village of Black Rock, to its termination at the city of Buffalo.


CHAPTER II.

The city of Buffalo is beautifully situated on lake Erie, near its outlet; and possesses the advantages of a lake and canal navigation. It is built chiefly of brick, containing many elegant buildings, and has ten or twelve thousand inhabitants. In the harbor lay many vessels, steamboats and canal boats, and it exhibited all the show, stir and bustle of a maritime city. From this place, you have a fine view of the lake, Canada shore, and the surrounding country. I was, at this time, only twenty-three miles from the celebrated Falls of Niagara, and I could not pass so near without going to view them.

After spending a day in Buffalo, I took a steamboat down Niagara river, to visit the falls. On the Canada side, you have a view of the small village of Waterloo, near which, are the ruins of fort Erie, the theatre of several severe battles during the late war.[Pg 26] On the American side, three miles below Buffalo, is Black Rock, a pleasant village, having much romantic scenery around it. Niagara river, above the falls, is of various breadths, from a mile and a half, to three or four miles. After passing Grand island, I beheld the spray arising like a cloud, from the falls; and could hear the roaring of the water. I landed from the boat, about two miles above them on the American side, and took a stage. Immediately on alighting at the hotel, I walked down to the river, and beheld for the first time, the celebrated Falls of Niagara. Such a vast body of water, falling into so deep a chasm, with a noise like thunder, and with such power that it shakes the ground on which you stand, strikes one with wonder and awe! One is inclined to stand still, and gaze in silence. Other falls and deep chasms I had seen; but this presented itself on such a gigantic scale, and so much out of proportion to other objects of the kind, that it appeared to my unpractised eye incomprehensible. Other and abler pens have given the world many minute descriptions of these falls; and were it otherwise, I have not the vanity to suppose any description I could give would enable any one to form a full and just conception of them.

Nature has here laid out her work upon a large scale, and with a master hand. A mighty river, the outpourings of the great lakes above, tumbling rapidly along for a mile over its rocky bed, here leaps quietly down one hundred and sixty feet into the[Pg 27] awful chasm below. Above the falls, the banks slope gently down to the water's edge; so that you can stand on the brink of the precipice, and put your foot into the water where it rolls over it—below, the bank immediately rises, and forms a chasm three hundred feet in depth. Eight or ten rods below the falls, is the passage down to the ferry; composed, most of the way, of enclosed wooden steps; and the remainder, of steps made in the rocky cliff. I went down these steps, crossed over in the boat, tossed to and fro by the boiling, raging flood; and liberally sprinkled with the spray of the falls. On the Canada side, the bank is not perpendicular, so that a zigzag road has been made for passengers to travel up and down it. On this side, is the Table Rock, near the falls; and here you have the best view of them. At this spot a flight of steps lead to the bottom; and from this point a person can go one hundred and fifty-three feet under the sheet of water. Dresses and a guide are furnished to those who have the curiosity to enter.

On my return to the American side, I walked over the bridge to Bath island, and from that to Goat island. This last island contains perhaps twelve acres, is covered with a fine growth of wood, has a walk near the water, all around it, and benches and summer house to rest the weary traveller. It divides the falls, and is probably twenty rods wide on the cliff, over which the water pitches. At the foot of this island, a circular enclosed stairway has[Pg 28] been built by N. Biddle, Esq. President of the U.S. Bank, by which a person can descend down the cliff, between the two sheets of water. And here it was that Sam Patch leaped one hundred and eighteen feet from a platform, made by ladders. The trees on the island are covered with names; and the register at the hotel not only contains names, but sentiments also. I spent an evening very pleasantly in conning them over.

On the Canada side there are one large hotel and some few dwelling houses; on the American side, are two large hotels, and a fine village, called Manchester. After spending two days at the falls, I took a seat in the stage for Buffalo.

New-York, I believe, possesses more of the sublime and beautiful, than all the remainder of the United States. It has its mountains, lakes, springs, rivers, water-falls, canals, railroads and edifices.—Other States can shew some of these, in a greater or less degree; but as a whole, New-York must bear the palm. Its resources are vast—it is a nation of itself. But notwithstanding its attractive scenery and rich lands, the "western fever" rages here as violent as on the sterile hills of New-Hampshire. I found more families from New-York at the West and moving thither, than from all the New-England States. They, too, seek a better country; and some would undoubtedly be discontented if they lived in paradise.

[Pg 29]

At Detroit, I saw a man who said he had just made a purchase of a tract of land near Pontiac, about thirty miles distant in a northwest direction. He lived near Rochester, had a fine farm, raised from five hundred to one thousand bushels of wheat a year; a ready market and the average price one dollar a bushel; clear of debt, and growing rich; but the lands were cheap at the West, so he sold his farm, and was moving into the wilderness! The man was about sixty years of age: so if he has good luck, by the time he gets a farm well cleared, a good house and improvements, he will be too old to enjoy earthly possessions. But just the same feeling is manifested in Kentucky, Ohio and Indiana. And even in Illinois itself, some I found, seeking a better country farther west!

Persons travelling to Illinois, or farther west, can take passage in a vessel or steamboat from Buffalo to Chicago. The distance by water is one thousand miles; for they must go through lake Erie, St. Clair, Huron and lake Michigan. The distance by land is not so far by one half; but the water passage is the cheapest, attended with less hardship, and much the best way to convey goods. There are two other routes to Chicago. Take a steamboat at Buffalo for Monroe, in Michigan Territory; and from thence, there is a good stage route, through Tecumseh, Niles, Michigan city, and along the south end of the lake Michigan to Chicago—or take a steam[Pg 30]boat to Detroit; from thence the stage to the mouth of St. Joseph, and cross the lake in a schooner to Chicago. My object was to see something of Michigan; so I took passage in a steamboat for Detroit.

On board this boat, there were probably two hundred passengers; besides a number of horses and oxen, wagons, household furniture and baggage.—Most of them were emigrants, chiefly destined to some part of Michigan. The cabin passage is eight dollars—deck three dollars. Of the whole number not more than ten took the cabin passage. We stopped at Portland, Erie, Ashtabula, Fairport, Cleaveland and Sandusky, and arrived at Detroit in two days—distance three hundred and five miles.

Cleaveland is the most important place on the south shore of lake Erie. The Ohio canal here enters the lake, so that a person can go down this canal into the Ohio river; and from thence take steamboat conveyance to the western States. It is quite a large town; containing five thousand inhabitants, and has three spacious houses for public worship, a seamen's chapel, and two banks. There are three newspapers published here, and it shows all the stir and bustle of business and trade. This place has rapidly increased within a few years: and if it continues to improve in the same ratio, it will soon take its station alongside of Buffalo and Cincinnati. Its inhabitants are very spirited and enterprising. They have contributed, as I am informed, fifteen[Pg 31] thousand dollars for the purpose of levelling down some of the high bluffs between the village and harbor, and grading the streets.

The flood of emigration, constantly pouring onward, to the far West, is immense. In the year 1833, about sixty thousand emigrants left Buffalo, to go to the West by water; and in 1834, not less than eighty thousand there embarked, besides those who took passage from other ports. No calculation can be made, of the number that have passed along the south shore of the lake by land; but, I was informed, a gentleman counted two hundred and fifty wagons in one day!

The western world is all alive. The lakes, the streams, the prairies, and forests, are all teeming with life, and exhibit all the noise and bustle of human industry and enterprise. In 1825 there were but one steamboat and a few small schooners on lake Erie; now there are thirty steamboats, and one hundred and fifty schooners and two large brigs! And the birds and beasts of the forest are continually alarmed at the sight of human habitations and villages, so suddenly arising, within their own exclusive haunts and pleasure grounds! Monroe, in Michigan, is pleasantly situated on the river Raisin, opposite to Frenchtown, and is six miles from its mouth. It is forty miles, by water, south of Detroit, and is the county seat for Monroe county, has a court house, jail, land office, three hotels, twenty-six stores, and probably two thousand inhabitants.[Pg 32] It is situated in a fertile district, and has a number of mills and distilleries in its vicinity. A beautiful large steamboat, called the Monroe, was built here, the past season, and made its first trip down the lake while I was at Buffalo. As this town is nearer on a direct line from Buffalo to the West than Detroit, it will shortly become the great thoroughfare of travel to the western country.

A new town has recently been laid out, on the north bank of the Maumee river. It takes the name of the river; and is situated on a plat of table land elevated forty feet above the stream, at the foot of the falls, and ten miles from lake Erie. The river is deep and navigable for all vessels sailing on the lake. The falls are about thirty feet, and afford an immense water power—equal to that of Lowell. It has now fifty dwelling houses, three stores, one tavern, a saw and grist mill; and preparations are making to erect a large number of buildings the ensuing season, among which are four taverns. Two doctors are already settled here; and a limb of the law was on the track to join them. A glance at the map will at once show its favorable location, for a large and flourishing town. The Wabash and Erie canal, and the Cincinnati, Dayton and Erie canal, will both terminate at this place. It is situated in the disputed territory, claimed by both Ohio and Michigan; but if it should prove to be healthy, it will soon take rank with Cleaveland and Detroit. It is thirty miles south of Monroe; and about the[Pg 33] same distance west of Lower Sandusky. A large steamboat is now building here, to run on the lake.

On the opposite side of the river, and about a mile above, is the village of Perrysburg, of a hundred houses and twelve stores; but as its site is low, and on the shoal side of the river, its location is not therefore so favorable as that of Maumee. There are large tracts of flat land, both to the east and west of this place, covered with a heavy growth of timber.

Detroit is on the river, twenty-five miles above lake Erie, and seven below lake St. Clair. The river is about a mile wide, and the current sets down at the rate of from two to three miles an hour. It contains about three thousand inhabitants; many of whom are French and some negroes and Indians. Much business is done here; and it will probably be one of the most important frontier towns; as it possesses a safe harbor and steamboat navigation to Buffalo, Michilimackinac, Green Bay, Chicago, &c. It is well laid out, and has some fine streets and buildings. Its public buildings are a court house, jail, academy, council house, two banks; a Presbyterian, Episcopalian, Methodist, Baptist and Catholic churches; arsenal, magazine and commissary store house.

The streets near the water are dirty, generally having mean buildings, rather too many grog shops among them, and a good deal too much noise and dissipation. The taverns are not generally under[Pg 34] the best regulations, although they were crowded to overflowing. I stopped at the steamboat hotel, and I thought enough grog was sold at that bar to satisfy any reasonable demand for the whole village.—When the bell rang for dinner, I hardly knew what it meant. All in and about the house jumped and run as if the house had been on fire; and I thought that to have been the case. I followed the multitude, and found they were only going into the hall to dinner. It was a rough and tumble game at knife and fork—and whoever got seated first, and obtained the best portion of dinner, was the best fellow. Those who came after, must take care of themselves the best way they could; and were not always able to obtain a very abundant supply.

At night, I was obliged to sleep in a small room, having three beds in it, take a companion and a dirty bed. In travelling, I am always disposed to make the best of every thing, and complain of nothing if it can be avoided. And in starting on this journey, I was aware that I might suffer some hardships and inconveniences; and I had determined to bear with patience every thing that was bearable; but I had not expected to be put to the test in the old settled town of Detroit. The house is large enough, and servants enough, but there was a plentiful lack of decent accommodations, in and about it.

The upper streets make a fine appearance, and are pleasant and ornamented with some fine buildings.

[Pg 35]

Two steam ferry boats ply constantly between this, and a small village called Sandwich, on the Canada side of the river. On a pleasant afternoon, I crossed the river, and walked three or four miles on the pleasant Canada shore. From this position, Detroit shows to advantage.

Detroit has suffered much by disease. Fevers, ague and cholera, swept off its hundreds. But it is difficult to discover any other cause for the great number of deaths, than the filthiness of the place, and the dissipation and exposure of many of its inhabitants. It needs reform; and I was informed that the subject had arrested the attention of its best citizens, and they had commenced the work in good earnest.


CHAPTER III.

After spending two days at Detroit, I took the stage for the mouth of St. Joseph river, on lake Michigan—fare $9,50. The old road leads down the river, five or six miles, and then inclines to the right into the interior. The first forty miles is a level, heavily timbered country; a deep, clayey soil, and a most execrable road. Sometimes the coach became fast stuck in the deep sloughs; and we had[Pg 36] to get out the best way we could, and help dig it out. At others, we found logs laid across the road for some distance, and the coach jolted so violently over them, that it was impossible to keep our seat. We started early in the morning from Detroit, and at ten miles stopped at a decent hotel to breakfast. It was a framed house, and of sufficient size for a common country tavern.

In this day's travel, we found some good dwellings, and one brick hotel. Late at night, "wearied and worn," we arrived at Ann Arbor, a flourishing little village on Huron river, which empties into the head of lake Erie, and is a large clear mill stream. The tavern house is a large, three story building, finished and painted. A long block of buildings for stores, a number of mills on the stream, and a few other buildings, complete the village.

In the morning we crossed the river, on a very good bridge, and half a mile further, entered the upper village of Ann Arbor, much larger than the lower one; having two taverns, a number of stores, dwelling houses, and a court house. It is the seat of justice for Washtenaw county. Ten miles below this, on the Huron river, is situated Upsilanti, a pleasant village. The turnpike road from Detroit to Chicago passes through it; on which a stage runs, carrying the U.S. mail.

Soon after leaving this village, we came to the "oak openings." There are three kinds of land in the western country—prairie land, entirely destitute[Pg 37] of timber, and covered with grass; oak openings, land thinly covered with timber, like a northern apple orchard; and the timber land, having a dense forest of trees. All these diversities of appearance, we found from Detroit to the mouth of the St. Joseph; although the bur and white oak openings seemed to predominate.

Michigan is a level country; there are no mountains in it. It is gently undulating, for the most part; sometimes, too level and wet. It is abundantly watered and timbered, and a great deal of excellent timber. I wish I could say as much of the quality of the water. The rivers, little lakes, (and there are many of them,) streams, springs, and wells, contain clear, pellucid, transparent water. It is indeed, too clear to be agreeable to the eye; but it is all impregnated with lime, or iron, or copperas, or something disagreeable to the taste; and is in many places, very unhealthy. I do believe there is not a drop of pure, soft water, in all Michigan. I saw none and could hear of none; and I made much inquiry, examined every river, lake, or spring, that I passed, and the result was, I found no pure water that would wash with soap, or was pleasant to the palate.

It contains much good land, many pleasant villages, fine situations, and is settling fast; but I cannot say that it is, generally, healthy.

It is probable, earth does not afford more rich and beautiful prairies than are found on the route[Pg 38] from Monroe to Michigan city. And there are fine cultivated farms, mills and villages, and scattered settlements, all along the southern part of the territory. But I did not find the ruddy face and vigorous step of the East. The meagre and pale visage, and shaking frame, spoke a language not to be mistaken.

We passed Jackson, the seat of justice for Jackson county, near Grand river, and Marshall, the seat of justice for Calhoun county, on the bank of the Kalamazoo river, both flourishing villages. In this section of the country, mill seats are plenty, and there is an abundant supply of timber.

At the outlet of Gull lake, I saw a well built mill, on as fine a privilege as any one could desire. At the lake, there was a dam, which raised the water four or five feet, and made an abundant supply in the driest season—and fifty rods below where the mill was erected, there was a good fall of water.

Soon after leaving this mill, we came to Gull prairie. This was the first prairie of much extent that I had seen; and its elegant appearance afforded me not a little pleasure. On this prairie there is a small village, and a beautiful prospect around it.

The roads had become so bad, that we left the stage coach, after two day's ride, and took a wagon, without any spring seats; and I found it so fatiguing to ride, that I often preferred walking. When we arrived at this little village, it was late in the evening, but we had still twelve miles to go that night.

[Pg 39]

It was past midnight when we crossed the Kalamazoo river, at the rope ferry, and entered the town of Bronson. This is the seat of justice, or as the term is here, county seat, for Kalamazoo county. The land office, for the southern part of the territory, is also kept here. We found a large tavern house and good accommodations, a pleasant village, and pleasant people.

Our route now lay through an undulating, open country for twenty miles, when we came to a house and mill on Pawpaw river where we "ate our breakfast for our dinner." We now crossed the stream, and travelled a new road, generally through timbered land, passed seven or eight small lakes, for twenty-eight miles before we came to a house.

Here, we found two log houses adjoining each other. It had now become night, and at this place we were to stay till the next day. I went in, and asked the woman, if she could get us something to eat. She said, if we would accept of such fare as she had, she would try. When we went in to supper, I never was more agreeably surprised in my life. We found a table neatly set; and upon it, venison steaks, good warm wheat bread, good butter, wild honey in the white comb, and a good cup of tea—better fare than we had found in Michigan, and as good as could be obtained anywhere. Our accommodations at this log house in the woods, show what people may do if they choose. And I wish some tavern keepers of our large towns, might[Pg 40] happen to call there, and learn a lesson which they seem too much disinclined to learn at home. Our bill was so moderate, we added a dollar to it, and hardly thought we had fully paid our hostess then.

Twelve miles further, brought us to the river St. Joseph, about a mile above where it empties into the lake. The river here is thirty rods wide. We crossed it in a ferry boat, and after ascending a high bluff, we came in full view of lake Michigan and the St. Joseph village.

This village is pleasantly situated on a high bluff, on the south side of the river, and facing the lake; and contains sixty or seventy houses, two taverns, some half dozen stores, two large warehouses, and a light house. One tavern, the stores, and a few dwelling houses, are built underneath the bluff, on the bank of the river. A steamboat plies between this place and Niles, fifty miles up the river, as it runs, but only twenty-five miles by land. Just above the village, is a steam saw mill, which does a good deal of business. This place carries on considerable trade with the interior; the staple of which is wheat.

St. Joseph is very unhealthy. At the tavern, I found three persons sick, and one dangerously so. I called upon the doctor, and he was sick abed; I called upon the baker, and he was sick abed—and I passed by another house, where the whole family, consisting of a man, his wife, and five children, were all sick abed, and so completely helpless, that[Pg 41] the neighbors had to take care of them! This is no fiction. The man's name is Emerson; from the State of New-York. Last spring he came on to this part of the country with his family and goods in a wagon. And when he came to Pawpaw river, where we breakfasted, he found no road direct to St. Joseph. He accordingly cut out the road that we had travelled to this place, and was the first who came through with a wagon, a distance of about fifty miles. Soon after his arrival, his eldest son, a promising youth of fifteen, accidentally was drowned in the river. The family, one by one, were taken sick; and now, all were sick and helpless. The man possessed great vigor of mind and body; had bought him a farm at some distance from the village on the road he had made, and commenced some improvements, and made great efforts to persevere and clear it up. But who can withstand the iron grasp of disease, or the "bold demands of death!" He beheld his family wasting away and to all appearance, hastening to the grave; and himself, as sick and helpless as they. A sad catastrophe this, in his prospect of wealth and bliss in the new world!

A schooner, called the Philip, plies regularly between this, and Chicago across the lake; but I had to wait here three days before its return. I spent the time in traversing the woods and the lake shore. This lake is a clear, beautiful sheet of water, having a soft sandy shore, and surrounded by high sandy hills. The river makes a good harbor, but[Pg 42] there is a sand bar at its mouth, on which there is not more than five or six feet of water. The average width of the lake is sixty miles.

The distance from Detroit to St. Joseph is two hundred miles, and we had been five days and a half in travelling it. The road was as good as could be expected in a country so new, and so thinly inhabited. The land generally is good, and will support a dense population. The southern part of the territory is thought to contain the best land, and there are indeed some beautiful prairies. Prairie Round is among the most beautiful. It contains a number of thousand acres of high, level, and smooth land; and in the centre there are a hundred acres of higher land, covered with a beautiful growth of trees.

The best part of Indiana is on the border of Michigan, and extending south, on the Wabash river. The southern part of the State contains a good deal of hilly, rocky and sandy land, unfit for cultivation.

A territorial road has been laid out from Detroit to St. Joseph; and a survey of a railroad has been made, nearly on the line of the road, between the two places; but some time will elapse, before either are completed.

Wild game is plenty; deer, ducks, bears, wolves and squirrels are in sufficient quantity to keep the hunter awake.

[Pg 43]

Upon the whole, if good water and good health could be found, Michigan would be a very desirable country in which to reside.

As soon as the vessel was ready to depart, I took passage in her. We sailed round the south end of the lake, and stopped at Michigan city, a village of twenty or thirty houses, and twelve stores, situated on the corner of Indiana, among the sand hills of the lake. A small stream here empties into the lake but affords no harbor for vessels. Some enterprising citizens have determined to make it a large town; but nature does not seem much to have seconded their efforts. It is forty miles from St. Joseph, and just the same distance from Chicago. The stage road, from Michigan city to Chicago, is, most of the way, on the sandy beach.


CHAPTER IV.

Chicago makes a fine appearance when viewed from the water. It has a light house, fort and barracks in which a garrison is kept, and many elegant buildings. It is regularly laid out, on the south side of Chicago river; the streets running parallel with it, and others crossing them at right angles. The harbor being too much exposed, a breakwater[Pg 44] is building, so as to render it secure and safe for the shipping. The town is already compactly built, for more than a mile in length, and about half that distance in width; and there are a dozen houses on the north side of the river, with which it is connected by an elegant bridge. It has thirty-six stores, some of which are large and elegant, and built of brick; and seven large taverns, filled with guests to overflowing. It is now, about the size of Exeter, in New-Hampshire, and is rapidly increasing. Vessels and steamboats come here from Buffalo, laden with goods and merchandize; and it is the great thoroughfare for travel to the western country. The trade of all the upper country centres here; and when the canal is completed, connecting the lake with the waters of the Illinois river, it must become the largest town in the State. It is built on a level prairie, open in full view to the lake, and the soil is enough mixed with sand to prevent its being very muddy. The lake supplies the town with good, wholesome water, and as far as I could judge, it is quite healthy.

While I was at Chicago, the Pottawattomie tribe of Indians, came there to receive their annuity from the United States government. I could not accurately ascertain their number, but probably, there were between one and two thousand, men, women and children. I had before seen the small remnants of Indian tribes at the north; but never had I seen such a large body of western Indians assembled to[Pg 45]gether. I had much curiosity to see them, and learn something of the Indian character. In this I was fully gratified.

Those who have formed high notions of the stateliness and chivalry of the Indian character, might gain some new ideas, by witnessing, day after day, the actions and movements of the Pottawattomies. It is painful to state it, but truth compels me to say, their appearance was, with but few exceptions, that of a drunken set of miserable vagabonds. They were generally mounted on horseback, men, women and children; some had small bells for their horses—some had blankets on, and others had coats and pantaloons, similar to the whites; and many of them, had jewels in the nose and ears, and the face painted in various colors and forms, so as to give them either a ludicrous, or a terrific appearance.

To all this, perhaps, no one has a right seriously to object. It is merely a matter of taste; and if they choose to exhibit themselves in the various hues of the rainbow, or in the terrific aspect of a warrior, I am willing they should be gratified. But their actions were beneath the dignity of man, or of beast. They encamped near the town, on the border of the lake; and above it, on the margin of the river. I walked all through their encampment, and saw them frequently in the streets. I found them, generally, bickering, quarrelling, or fighting; or running their horses through the town, and display[Pg 46]ing all the antics of madmen. Day after day, and night after night, they were carousing, shouting and fighting. On the lake shore, one of them killed his wife, by splitting her head open with a hatchet, and then fled! I did not learn what became of him.

They are also much addicted to theft. Too lazy to work, they had rather steal whatever they desire, that comes in their way; and this propensity and practice has been a fruitful source of the border wars, between the whites and Indians.

I have seen hundreds of negroes together on their holidays; when they had free access to intoxicating liquor if they chose; when they gave themselves up to pastime and pleasure; and I do say, they appeared much more civil and decent to themselves and to others, than the Indians. They did not seem, like the Indians, to lose all self respect. The negroes generally appear to possess amiable dispositions; and are faithful friends; are much more pliant and teachable; and if I must dwell with either negroes or Indians, give me the negroes.

If the former mode of paying the government annuity to the chief of a tribe, were objectionable, the present mode of paying each individual, seems to me to be equally, if not more objectionable. I was informed that the gross sum of seventy thousand dollars was paid to them individually; each one an equal portion of that amount. But after spending a few days in carousing at Chicago, they[Pg 47] left the town as they will finally leave the world—carrying nothing with them!

It appears to me, some different regulations, respecting the Indians, ought to be adopted. The money now paid them, upon the whole, seems to do them more hurt than good. Might not the government pay them in specific articles, instead of money, such as blankets, clothing, implements of husbandry, &c. There would not be then quite so much inducement for speculators to prey upon them.

As to civilization, I am not so sanguine as some are, that it can be done. The Indians seem to be naturally averse to the restraints and labor of civilized life. To beg or steal is much more agreeable to them, than to labor for subsistence. Any thing that looks like work, they despise. In all cases, where they have come in contact with the whites, it has been death to the Indian. At the approach of civilization, they wither away and die; and the remnants of tribes must flee away to the fastnesses of the wilderness, or perish in the withering grasp of civilized man. They are to be pitied; but their unprovoked murders and savage cruelties have steeled the heart against them. Their cold-blooded murders, in the late war in Illinois, of men, women and children, and their indecent mutilation and exposure of their bodies when dead, cannot soon be forgotten or forgiven. Black Hawk, the cold-blooded instigator and leader in this war, dared not re[Pg 48]turn from his trip to the East through Chicago, and the theatre of his cruelties. He probably will never again set his foot on the eastern shore of the Mississippi.

The country back of Chicago, for the distance of twelve miles, is a smooth, level prairie; producing an abundance of grass, but too low and wet for cultivation. The Chicago river is formed by two branches, which meet at the upper end of the village. The branches come from exactly opposite directions, and after running some distance, parallel with the lake, and about a mile from it, here meet each other, and turning at right angles, flow in a regular straight channel, like a canal, into the lake. On each side of the town, between these branches and the lake shore, there is, for some distance, a good growth of wood and timber. On the lake shore, there are naked sand hills; and these are found all around the lake.

This world has undergone great changes since its original creation. In examining the western country, I came to the conclusion, that a large portion of it was once under water; and that the lakes formerly discharged their waters into the sea, through the Illinois and Mississippi rivers.

The lakes Michigan, Huron, St. Clair and Erie, are now about twenty-five feet lower than lake Superior. The falls of St. Mary, at the outlet of the upper lake, are nothing more than rapids. The water descends twenty-two feet in the distance of[Pg 49] three quarters of a mile; and although canoes can pass them either way, yet they are impassable to steamboats and vessels. Some years ago, a large vessel did go down them in safety. It was built on lake Superior, by the north-western Fur Company, but was found to be too large to be useful in their trade. It was taken to the falls of St. Mary, and some Indians were hired to take it down the rapids. They happened to go down in safety; and the vessel was afterwards sold at Buffalo. Now, the probability is, that these lower lakes were once nearly on a level with lake Superior; and their outlet was at the south end of lake Michigan, instead of the Niagara river.

Eight or ten miles from the present limits of lake Erie, there is a regular, well defined shore, once washed by the water; plainly indicating that the lake was once about twenty feet higher than it now is. If lake Michigan were ten feet higher than its present level, its waters would flow into the Illinois river. The Oplane, a branch of the Illinois, approaches within twelve miles of the lake; and the land between is low and level. When the water is high, boats now pass from the lake to the river. At a time of high water, a steamboat attempted to pass from the Illinois to the lake. After running a day from Ottawa up the river, the water began to subside, the captain became alarmed, lest his boat might run aground, and returned.

[Pg 50]

The valley of the Illinois river, plainly indicates that a much larger stream once run there. Had its channel been formed by its present quantity of water, it would have been not more than forty rods wide; but now, it carries a breadth of from fifty rods to more than a mile; it is, therefore, full of shoals and sand bars. The high banks all along down the stream, are about two miles apart; and the space between them not occupied by the river, is either a low marsh or a narrow lake.

When the lakes were high, aided probably by a strong west wind, the water broke through in the direction of Niagara river; and in process of time, wore a deep channel, drained the lakes to their present level, and dried up their outlet, at the south end of lake Michigan. This is my theory; and whoever will examine the country around the lakes, may not deem it so wild and extravagant a one, as has been advanced and believed by mankind.

Many of the inhabitants of Chicago are from the eastern part of the country—civil, enterprising and active. I found good society here—much better than I had expected in a place so new, and of such rapid growth.

House rent is high, and provisions are dear. Last spring, potatoes were sold for a dollar and a half a bushel; and this fall the current price is a dollar. All this is owing to the rapid increase of the place, and the immense travel through it. When more[Pg 51] houses are built, and the country back of it becomes settled, living will, undoubtedly, be cheap. To the man of enterprise and business, it affords as good a location as any in the western country.


CHAPTER V.

At Chicago I found three young men from New-England, who were travelling to see the western country. We hired two horses and a wagon, at seventy-five cents a day, and started together into the interior of Illinois, west of Chicago.

It was past the middle of October; the air was mild and clear, and the earth dry. The prairie, which in the spring of the year is so wet and muddy as to be difficult to pass, we found dry, and a good smooth road over it; so we travelled merrily on. At the distance of twelve miles the ground became elevated a few feet, and we found a fine grove of timber, a few log houses, and the Oplane river. At this place the roads fork—one goes south, to Ottawa on the Illinois river—the other goes in a westerly direction, to Galena on the Mississippi. Stages run from Chicago, over each of these roads to both places, carrying the U.S. mail.

[Pg 52]

The roads in this country are in a state of nature. But the ground is so smooth, and so entirely free from stones, that when the earth is dry, you do not find better roads at the north. Indeed, you can travel in a carriage over most part of the country, woods and all.

We took the Galena road, forded the river, a stream about four rods wide, and passed on, over a beautiful, open, prairie country, here and there a log house, a small grove of timber, or small stream of water; the land high, dry and rich, and arrived at night at Naper's settlement, on the Du Page river, thirty-seven miles from Chicago. Naper was the first settler here. He keeps a public house, very decent accommodations; has a store and mills, and is forming a village around him. Here is a large grove of good timber.

We now left the Galena road and took a course more northerly to the big and little woods, on Fox river. In travelling twelve miles we came to the settlement at the lower end of "little woods." In the space of three miles, we found about twenty families, all in comfortable log houses; fields fenced and cultivated; a school house erecting, and a master hired to keep two months. And among the whole number only one family had been there two years; the remainder had none of them been there quite a year. The houses were built near the timber, and a beautiful rich prairie opened before them.

[Pg 53]

The man who had been here two years, had a hundred acres under fence; raised a large crop of corn and wheat, and had sold at Chicago, only thirty miles distant in a straight line, two hundred and twenty bushels of potatoes for as many dollars. He had built a weir across the river to catch fish, which I walked down to see. He took his boat, went out to the pen, and dipped out with a small net half a boat load of fish.

This is a land of plenty sure enough; and if a man cannot here find the luxuries of the city, he can obtain all the necessaries of life in abundance.

Fox river is a clear stream of water, about twenty rods wide, having a hard limestone bottom, from two to three feet deep, a brisk current, and generally fordable. On its banks, and on some other streams, we occasionally found ledges of limestone; but other than that, we found no rocks in the State.

We here forded the river, and travelled all day on its western bank. We found less timber on this side of the river. On the east side, it is generally lined with timber to the depth of a mile or more; but the west side is scarcely skirted with it. It is somewhat singular and unaccountable, but we found it universally to be the fact, that the east side of all the streams had much the largest portion of timber.

We passed a number of log houses, all of which had been built the present season, and came at last to the upper house on the river. The man told us,[Pg 54] he had been here with his family only three days.—In attempting to get at the head of population, we more than once thought of the story of the Ohio pumpkin vine; and concluded if we accomplished it, we should be obliged to run our horses. He said, in the morning, his was the upper house on the river; but a man had made a location above him, and perhaps had already built him a house.

We went a few miles above this, forded the river, passed through the woods into the open prairie, and started down the east side. We travelled on, until it became dark. We were in an open prairie, without any road, a cloudy night, and had no means of directing our course. It was a great oversight, but we had no fire works with us, and the wolves began to howl around at a distance. We concluded, we should be obliged to stay out that night, and without any fire. A man accustomed to the new country, would probably have thought nothing of it; but to me, who had never lodged out doors in my life, to be obliged to camp out in a new country, and among the wolves, and such other wild animals as chose to come along, it was not quite so pleasant. I confess I began to have some misgivings in my own mind, whether this new world ought, in fact, to be called a paradise.

We knew that if there were any houses in that region, they would be near the woods; we accordingly obliqued to the right, and after some time travelling saw a light, which led us to a house.

[Pg 55]

These log houses generally have one large room, in which the family cook, eat and lodge; and if any strangers come, they lodge in the same room with the family, either in a bed or on the floor, as may be the most convenient. They are built of logs locked together at the corners; the interstices filled with timber split like rails, and plastered over with clay. The roofs are covered with shingles about four feet long; the chimneys are built on the outside, with wood, and lined with clay; and the floor is made of split timber. Many of them are quite neat and warm.

The next day, we passed a few miles down the river, crossed it, and travelled twenty or thirty miles west, towards Rock river. Our whole course lay through an open prairie. We could see timber on either hand. This day we found a number of gravel hills, the tops of which were coarse, naked gravel, and looked white at a distance. They were from ten to twenty feet high. We walked up to the top of the highest one, and had an extended view of the surrounding country. From this elevation, we could see the timber on the border of Rock river.

We obliqued more to the south, came to a grove of timber and a house. Here we stayed that night. The next day we took a southeasterly direction, passed one house, and came to Fox river, where the Galena road crosses it. We forded the river, and travelling over an open rolling prairie twenty miles in a southeasterly direction, came to Walker's grove,[Pg 56] on the Du Page river, forty miles south of Chicago. Here we found a tavern, saw and grist mill, and something of a village, having two or three framed houses among the log huts.

The U.S. mail stage passes from Chicago through this place, Ottawa, Peoria and Springfield to St. Louis; and agreeably to our previous arrangement, I here left my companions, who returned to Chicago; and I took the stage for the south. I had travelled with them just long enough to be fully sensible of the great loss I sustained at parting. Thus it is with the traveller. He forms acquaintances and finds friends; but it is only to part with them, probably forever.

Before I go into the lower part of the State, I shall stop here, and say a few words of the appearance, present condition and future prospects of the northern part of Illinois. I feel in some degree qualified to do this, not only from my own observation, but from information obtained from intelligent and respectable sources.


[Pg 57]

CHAPTER VI.

The northern part of Illinois is beautifully diversified with groves of timber and rolling prairies. The timber consists of the various kinds of oak, rock and white maple, beach, locust, walnut, mulberry, plum, elm, bass wood, buckeye, hackberry, sycamore, spice wood, sassafras, haws, crab apple, cherry, cucumber, pawpaw, &c. There is some cedar, but little pine. The shores of Michigan have a large supply of pine timber, and from this source the lumber for buildings at Chicago is obtained.

The prairies are sometimes level, sometimes gently undulating, and sometimes hilly; but no where mountainous. The soil is three or four feet deep; then you come to a bed of clay two or three feet in depth, and then gravel. The soil is a rich, black loam; and when wet, it sticks to the feet like clay. Manure has no beneficial effect upon it; but where it has been cultivated, it produces an abundant crop, the first year, not quite as good as succeeding years; and it seems to be quite inexhaustible.

The prairies are covered with a luxuriant growth of native grass, which, when it gets its full growth is generally about as high as a man's shoulders.—They are destitute of trees, shrubs, or stones; and although the surface may be undulating, yet it is so smooth, that they can be mown as well as the smoothest old field in New-England. In the spring[Pg 58] of the year, a great variety of beautiful flowers shoot up among the grass; so that the face of nature exhibits the appearance of an extended flower garden. The prairie grass is unlike any kind I have seen at the north; but it affords excellent fodder for horses, neat cattle and sheep. A finer grazing country I had never seen. The grass appears to have more nourishment in it, than at the north. I saw beef cattle, fatted on the prairie grass alone, and I challenge Brighton to produce fatter beef, or finer flavored.

Towards the lake, the land is gently undulating; farther west, on Fox and Rock rivers, it is rolling; and as you approach Galena on the Mississippi, it becomes more hilly and broken. All this country seems to lack, is timber and water. There are rivers enough, but not many small streams and springs. But both of these defects can in a good measure be remedied. Good water can be obtained almost any where by digging wells from twenty to thirty feet in depth; and fuel must be supplied by the coal, which is found generally in abundance throughout the State. Bricks can be used for building; and hedge rows for fences.

The coal is excellent for the grate. It burns free, and emits such a brilliant light, that any other in a room is hardly necessary. It is now used in many places, in preference to wood, although that is now plenty. Blacksmiths use it for the forge;[Pg 59] and at one shop, the man told me he could dig and haul enough in half a day to last him a month.

The government of the United States granted to the State of Illinois a tract of land ten miles in width and eighty miles in length, extending from Chicago to Ottawa, for the purpose of making a canal to connect the waters of the lake with the Illinois river, and within these limits, it is supposed the canal will pass. This tract has been surveyed, put into market and much of it sold; but most of the land in the northern part of the State had not even been surveyed when I was there. Not a survey had been made on Fox river. The settlers took as much land as they pleased, and where they pleased; and as there was an abundance for all, none found fault. Before this time, I presume, the land has been surveyed; and the peace and quietness of the Fox river settlement, may have been a little disturbed by the carelessness of the United States' surveyors, in running lines somewhat diverging from the stakes and fences which its early settlers had set up as the bounds of their farms.

But a large portion of the northern half of the State, is not in the market, and perhaps may not be for two years to come. This very land, however, is settling every day. All a man has to do, is to select his land and settle down upon it. By this act he gains a pre-emption right to one hundred and sixty acres; and before the auction sale, enters his land at the land office, pays a dollar and a quarter[Pg 60] an acre, and receives his title. When land has once been through the auction and not sold, it can be taken at any time, by paying a dollar and a quarter an acre, and receive a title.

Upon the whole, I think the upper part of Illinois offers the greatest inducements to the emigrant, especially from the northern States. It is a high, healthy, beautiful country; and there are now plenty of good locations to be made. A young man, with nothing but his hands to work, may in a few years obtain a competency. The whole country produces great crops of wheat, corn and potatoes, and all the fruits and vegetables of the north. Apple and peach trees grow faster and more vigorous here than at the east; and there is a native plum tree, which bears excellent fruit.

I took much pains to ascertain whether it was subject to the fever and ague; and from the inquiries I made, and the healthy appearance of the people, I am persuaded it is not. I found only one person sick with that disease, in all the upper country, and she was an old woman from Indiana; and she told me she had it before she left that State.—There is plenty of game—the prairie hen, about the size of the northern hen, deer, ducks, wild turkies, and squirrels; also an abundance of wild honey.

There is another reason why the northern part of the State is preferable. Chicago of itself is, and will be, something of a market for produce; but it is the best spot in the whole State, to carry produce[Pg 61] to be transported to a northern market. From this, it is carried all the way by water to New-York city; and the distance is no greater than from the middle and lower parts of the State to New-Orleans, and the expense of transportation the same.

But after all, there is no such place as a perfect elysium on earth; and to this bright picture of the new world, there must be added some slight shades. In the first place there are many prairie wolves all over the country, so that it is almost impossible to keep sheep. In travelling over the country, I have started half a dozen in a day; they did not appear to be very wild; but they seldom or never attack a man, unless retreat is cut off, or sorely pressed by hunger. They are of a brown color, and of the size of a large dog. The men have a good deal of sport in running them down, and killing them.—They take a stick, mount a fleet horse, soon come up with them, and knock them on the head.

A man on Fox river told me he made a wolf pen over a cow that got accidentally killed, and caught twelve wolves in one week! As the country becomes settled they will disappear. There are but few bears; the country is too open for them. I had one or two meals of bear meat, but it is not at all to my taste. Then, there are the prairie rattlesnakes, about a foot long. Their bite is not considered very dangerous. There is a weed, growing universally on the prairie, that is a certain cure for it. They[Pg 62] are not, however, plenty. Men told me, that they had passed a whole year without seeing one.

Then, to prey upon the fields of the husbandman, there are the blackbirds and squirrels. They are the same in kind with those of the north, and their rapacity seems to have lost nothing, by living at the west. The blackbird is not a bird of the forest; it only follows close upon the heels of population.

The winters are as cold, perhaps, as at the north, but of shorter duration. They commence later and end earlier. The Indians make their poneys get their living in the winter; and cattle will live if they can have a range in the woods; but the farmer can have as much hay as he chooses, only for the cutting; the good husbandman will, therefore, have enough to keep his cattle in good heart during the winter.

Men are apt to judge of a new country by the impulse of feeling. The enthusiastic admirer of nature, when he beholds the extended prairies, lofty groves and pellucid streams, represents it as a perfect paradise. But those who think more of good roads, good coaches, good houses and good eating, than they do of the beauties of nature, curse the whole country and quit it in disgust. But to prevent all mistakes, be it known to all whom it may concern, that in this new country, fields do not grow ready fenced and planted, and elegant houses beside them; pancakes are not found on trees, or roasted pigs, running about squealing to be eaten.

[Pg 63]

The jaundiced eye sees nothing in its true light.

——"The diff'rence is as great between
The optics seeing, as the object seen;
Or fancy's beam enlarges, multiplies,
Contracts, inverts, and gives a thousand dyes."

Many anecdotes were told me, of the different views the same individual would have of the same place, under different circumstances. An emigrant from Vermont, with his wife, children and goods, started for the western world in a wagon. The country was new, and the roads so bad that their progress was slow and fatiguing. At length, after enduring many privations and hardships in a journey of twelve hundred miles, they safely arrived in Illinois, and located themselves on a fine, rich spot of ground, in the interior. He hastily threw up a temporary hut for their present accommodation; but they were all too much wearied and worn, vigorously to exert themselves. He became sad himself; his wife, unable to restrain her feelings, began to sob aloud, and the children joined the concert. They could not divert their thoughts from the home, neighbors and friends they had left. The prairie and wild wood had no charms for them. After three or four days of despondency, they picked up their goods, loaded their wagon, and trudged all the way back again to Vermont. Vermont had, however, lost some of its charms. It did not appear quite so fine as they had expected. After spending another cold winter there, they began to think[Pg 64] Illinois, upon the whole, was the better place; and that they had been very foolish in leaving it. So, they picked up their duds again, returned to the same spot they had left, and were satisfied, contented and happy. The man has now an excellent farm, good house, and an abundance of the necessaries and conveniences of life. In short, he is an independent farmer, and would not now, upon any consideration, return to Vermont.

An instance, in some respects similar to this, occurred some years ago, in an emigrant from the western part of the State of New-Hampshire.—He sold his farm, and started for Ohio. His wife and children, and a portion of his furniture, he put into a large wagon, drawn by three or four yoke of oxen; and three cows of a peculiar breed, he also took with him. They proceeded on about five hundred miles, probably as far as Buffalo, when they all became weary, and so excessively fatigued with their journey, that they lost all relish for the western country, and wished themselves back again. At this time, they held a council, and agreed, without a dissenting voice, to return to New-Hampshire. They accordingly wheeled about, cows and all, and trudged back to the town they had left; having performed a journey of a thousand miles with an ox-team, at great expense, and apparently to no beneficial purpose whatever. He did not, however, like the Vermonter, again return.

[Pg 65]

But the result of the trip was not so disastrous as had been anticipated. At the very time of their return, a much better farm than the one he had left was offered for sale for ready money. He bought it at a reduced price, and immediately settled upon it. He then made a calculation upon his present and former condition; and after taking into consideration the expenses of his journey, the sale of one farm and purchase of another, he found himself worth at least a thousand dollars more than he was previous to the transaction!

And here, I would give a caution to the emigrant who intends to settle in the western country, not to place implicit confidence in what the inhabitants of one section may say of other portions of it. If they mean to be honest in giving an opinion, self-interest as in other places, strangely warps their judgment. Land holders and actual settlers are anxious to build up their own village and neighborhood; and therefore, they praise their own section and decry the others. At Detroit, we are told that Monroe is a very sickly place; at Monroe, Detroit is unhealthy; and both will concur that Chicago is too unhealthy for an emigrant to think of enjoying life in it. In Michigan, that is the most healthy, pleasant and best portion of the West; in Illinois, that becomes the promised land. Indeed, so contradictory are their statements, that little reliance ought to be placed upon them; and the better way for the emigrant is, if he cannot obtain the necessary informa[Pg 66]tion from disinterested travellers, to go and examine for himself. Eastern people, who travel no farther than Michigan, generally form an unfavorable opinion of Chicago and Illinois; but were they to travel over that State, they would soon change their opinion.


CHAPTER VII.

But I have dwelt long enough on the upper country. I took the stage and travelled twenty-five miles over an open prairie, passing only one house, and arrived at night at Holderman's grove. This is a pleasant grove of excellent timber, having by its side a number of good houses and large cultivated fields.

The next morning, we rode fifteen miles to Ottawa, where we breakfasted. Here the Illinois and Fox rivers join, and appear to be nearly of equal size, both about twenty rods wide. The village is on the east side of the Illinois river, which we crossed in a ferry boat. A tavern, some houses and stores are built on a small flat under the hill, and a number of houses on a bluff, two hundred feet above the river. Steamboats come up as high as this place, unless the water be quite low. If it be[Pg 67] not a sickly place, I am much mistaken. The fever and ague seems to be the prevailing disease. I have observed that situations on the western rivers are generally unhealthy.

The river diverges to the west, and the road down the country immediately leaves it. In travelling twenty-five miles, I found myself fourteen from the river. Here, I left the stage, and went to Hennipen, a small village on the Illinois river. It is regularly laid out on a high, level prairie, which extends three miles back, and consists of two taverns, four stores, a dozen dwelling houses and a court house—it being the seat of justice for Putnam county. I found a number of people sick in this place with the fever and ague.

Here I crossed the river, about fifty rods wide, in a ferry boat, and found on the other side about two miles of heavy timbered bottom land, subject to overflow. From this, I ascended a high bluff, passed three or four miles of oak openings, and then came into the open prairie.

Ten miles from the river, a new town, called Princeton, is laid out in the prairie, on the stage road leading from Peoria to Galena. Three buildings, one of which is a store where the post office is kept, had been erected when I was there; but as it is in a healthy situation, and surrounded by a beautiful rich country, it may in time become a large village.

[Pg 68]

I travelled some distance in a northerly direction, between great and little Bureau rivers. The larger stream has a number of mills upon it. The country around here, is too similar to the upper part of the State to need a particular description. High rolling prairies, skirted with timber, every where abound in this region, and present to the eye a most beautiful landscape. It is mostly settled by people from New-England; and they appeared healthy, contented and happy—and are in fact, becoming rich and independent farmers.

One northern man I called upon, whose past and present condition may be similar to many others. I will state it for the edification of those who live on the rocky soil of New-England. While at the north, he lived on a hilly and rocky farm; had a large family, and was obliged to work hard and use the strictest economy, to support them, and meet the current expenses of the year. Tired of severe labor and small gains, he sold his farm and moved to the State of Illinois. He had been here two years; has now one hundred acres under fence; raised the present season fifteen hundred bushels of corn, three hundred of wheat; has seventy head of neat cattle and sixty hogs. He has a fine timber lot near his house, in which is an abundance of the sugar maple. He had killed, the present season, four beef cattle, the last one just before I called upon him; and fatter and better flavored beef I never saw. All the cattle grow exceedingly fat on[Pg 69] the prairie grass; so much so that corn will add nothing to it. A saw and grist mill are within seven miles of him. He was getting out timber, and intended to put up a two story house in the spring. I enquired particularly as to the health of his family and neighborhood. He informed me it had been very healthy; his own family had not any of them been sick abed a day, since they came into the country. Two of his daughters are well married, and settled on farms near him. Let every farmer at the north, who has to tug and toil on the sterile and rocky soil of New-England, to support his family, judge for himself, whether it is better to go to the West, or stay where he is. Whether, in fact, it is better to struggle for existence, and feel the cold grasp of poverty, or to roll in plenty and live at ease.

This region was somewhat the theatre of Indian cruelties in the last war with the whites. One northern man became their victim in this settlement. His name was Elijah Philips, of New-Hampshire. When he was at the age of twenty-one, he took his pack on his back, travelled to the West, and located himself in what is called the Yankee Settlement, on the Bureau river. He was a persevering, hardy son of the North. He built a house, fenced in a field, obtained some stock and a few hogs; and was in a fair way to gain a competency and become an independent farmer. Just at this time, the Indian[Pg 70] war broke out, with the blood-thirsty Black Hawk as a leader.

Murders having been committed above them, the settlers deemed their situation insecure, and fled to the east side of the Illinois river. After remaining there awhile, the war still raging, and its termination uncertain, seven of the settlers armed themselves with guns and bayonets, took a wagon, and went to the settlement to bring away such articles of household furniture and husbandry as they could; fearing the Indians might destroy them. They spent the day in collecting their articles together. At night, they left them and the wagon where they were, and concluded to go themselves to a house half a mile below, which was deemed more secure. Here they slept quietly all night, opened the door early in the morning, looked all around, but saw no signs of Indians. Philips and another young man said they would go up to the other house and commence loading the wagon. They started off together.

In about twenty rods from the house, the path led along by a point of timber that made out into the prairie; and when they had gone about half way to this point, the other young man stopped, returned back, and Philips passed on alone. He had just got into the house, when he heard a piercing cry of alarm from Philips, and in a moment after, the report of two guns. On running to the door, he saw Philips prostrate on the ground, and twenty or thirty Indians leaping out of the thicket. He[Pg 71] rallied his companions, as they had not all yet risen, caught two guns, handed one to a man near him, and by the time they reached the door, the Indians were coming round the corner of the house. On seeing the guns with fixed bayonets, they dodged back. In a moment, they were all at the ends and rear of the house, rending the air with their astounding war cry, flourishing their tomahawks in menace and defiance; but took special care not to come in front of the door. The settlers were all young men—the onset had been so sudden and boisterous, that they were taken entirely by surprise, and hardly knew what they did. On a moment's reflection, they concluded, if they contended manfully, there might be some chance for life. Although the number of Indians might be ten to one of theirs, yet they had the advantage of being within a well built log house, impenetrable by balls.

Spirited and prompt action saved them. While the Indians were hovering round, in doubt what course to take to dislodge them, they dug out a chink between the logs in the rear, and thrust out their guns. The moment this was done, the Indians changed the tone of their yells, leaped for the woods, fell flat on their faces and crawled unperceived away.

They now felt relieved from immediate danger. They knew there was a company of horse at Hennipen, fifteen miles distant; and their only safe course seemed to be, to send for them if they could.[Pg 72] They had a horse with them, and he was feeding on the prairie about thirty rods from the house, nearly on the opposite side from the spot where the Indians entered the woods; but as they could not know where they might be, none deemed it prudent to go out to catch him. They called the horse, however, and although he was one generally hard to catch, he now started at once, came to the door, thrust in his head and stood still while the bridle was put on. One of their number mounted, and rode express to Hennipen.

In the afternoon, the troop arrived; reconnoitered the neighborhood; found the Indian trail; followed it a number of miles; but they had gone beyond their reach. On a further examination of the woods, it was apparent, the Indians had been hovering around them all the day before while at work; but were too cowardly to attack them, although they knew the smallness of their number.

The situation of affairs at night they also knew full well. They truly supposed that all would pass the spot where they lay in ambush, in the morning. But accidentally, one passed alone, and discovered them, and was undoubtedly the cause of saving the lives of all the rest. But had the other young man passed on instead of returning, and why he did not, he never could tell, although the question was asked him immediately after the transaction, he also would have been killed; and in that event, probably all[Pg 73] the others would have been sacrificed; for it was quite early in the morning, and they had not risen.

On examining Philips, they discovered that two musket balls had entered his body—one in the region of the heart, so that he must have died immediately. His remains were carried to Hennipen for interment; and when I passed that way, I stopped at his grave to show, what I felt, respect to his memory. On a small eminence in the open prairie, half a mile east of the village, repose the remains of Elijah Philips. And although no monumental inscription tells the spot where he so suddenly started for eternity, or "storied urn" adorns his grave; although of humble birth, yet he was a young man of much vigor and enterprise, and bid fair to become a useful member of society. Let his memory live "in story and in song," and be handed down to posterity with that of the other victims of savage cruelty.

No apprehensions are now entertained by the settlers, of attacks by the Indians. Black Hawk and his followers have gone beyond the Mississippi, and only a few remnants of Indian tribes remain in the whole State. Years will not efface the memory of the many deeds of extreme cruelty, committed by the Indians in this short, yet bloody war. Acts of cruelty and outrage were perpetrated, too horrid and indecent to mention; and so perfectly useless as it respected the result of the war, that they could[Pg 74] have been committed only to glut a most fiend-like and savage vengeance.

I cannot admire the Indian character. They are sullen, gloomy and obstinate, unless powerfully excited, and then, they exhibit all the antics of madmen.


CHAPTER VIII.

After spending a few days viewing the country in this vicinity, I again crossed the river at Hennipen, and passed on to the stage road. The next day, I took the stage, and went to Peoria, the county seat of Peoria county, which stands on the site of fort Clark. This is quite a village. It is regularly laid out on a beautiful prairie, on the western bank of the Illinois river; has a brick court house, two taverns, a dozen stores, and about twenty dwelling houses, some of them quite elegant. It is eighty miles from Ottawa, one hundred and sixty from Chicago, one hundred and fifty from Galena, one hundred and fifty by land and two hundred by water from St. Louis.

The river here swells out to more than a mile in width, and the opposite shore is low, marshy land. Peoria seems to be subject to bilious fevers and the[Pg 75] fever and ague; but I could perceive no cause for its being unhealthy, unless it was the river and marshy land on the other side. The water is brought to the village in an aqueduct, from a high bluff, half a mile back of it, and appeared to be excellent. A number of deaths had occurred, previous to my arrival; and I saw a number of pale-faced invalids.

In coming to this place, I passed over a fine country, much more settled, with larger fields and more extensive improvements than I found in the upper part of the State; but still it was diversified with rolling prairies and groves of timber. While the mail was changing at one of the post offices, I passed on and came to a log school house, where all the scholars studied aloud. This was quite a novelty to me. More discordant sounds never grated on the ear; and if the master had a musical one, he must have been severely punished. I asked him, if his scholars commonly studied in that manner; and he said they did, although he thought they now hollowed a little louder than usual. This inconvenient practice of some of our ancient schools, I supposed had been entirely done away; but on enquiry, I was informed it still held its sway to some extent in many of the western States.

Stages run from Peoria (through Springfield), to St. Louis, to Galena, and to Chicago. There is a rope ferry just below the village, where the river is narrow. It is a place of a good deal of business,[Pg 76] quite a thoroughfare for travellers; and it is supposed by some that it will shortly become the seat of the State government. I spent three days here, then took passage on board a steamboat for St. Louis.

I have often remarked, that the amount taxed by taverners, is, generally, in an inverse proportion to their accommodations; that is, the less they furnish their guests, the more they charge. In my present trip, I have more than once been reminded of an anecdote related to me some time ago, of a tavern keeper at the south. A gentleman with his family, travelling in the westerly part of Virginia, was obliged one night to put up at one of the small country taverns, more suited to the accommodation of the teamster who sleeps in his wagon, than to the entertainment of gentlemen and ladies. They were furnished with the best the house afforded, but it was mean in kind and badly prepared. Some of them were obliged to sleep on the floor, and those that were accommodated with beds, were exceedingly annoyed by the insects they contained. The gentleman arose early, ordered his carriage and asked the landlord the amount of his bill. He told him, thirty dollars! The gentleman stared; but at length asked him, what he had had to the amount of thirty dollars, or even five dollars. The landlord very politely assured him that his was a reasonable charge, for says he, I hire this establishment at the annual rent of thirty dollars, and this I must charge to my customers; the year is almost out, and you[Pg 77] are the only available guest I have had; therefore I have charged the whole amount to you. The gentleman laughed heartily; and considering it too good a joke to be spoiled by any fault on his part, very pleasantly handed him over the thirty dollars. He that travels much in the world, may have occasion to fear the rent day is near at hand. This frank explanation of the Virginia landlord has furnished an easy solution to some tavern bills I have paid, that otherwise would have been entirely inexplicable; and perhaps it may be equally useful to other travellers.

The Illinois river is a wide, sluggish stream; clear water, but generally, hardly any perceivable current. It is a very shoal river, having many sand bars.—Our boat did not draw more than two feet of water, yet was continually running aground. I should think the lead was thrown a quarter part of the time; and it used to amuse me, sometimes, to hear the leadsman sing out "two feet and a half"—"two feet large"—"two feet"—"two feet scant,"—and then aground; and perhaps it would be half a day before we could get afloat again. We were seven days going to St. Louis—rather slow travelling, and somewhat vexatious; we thought, however, we might as well be merry as sad, so we made the best of it. The captain had as much reason as any of us to complain; for we took a cabin passage, and he had to board us, however long the passage might be. All along down, the country is rather[Pg 78] low, except some bluffs on the river—and where we found a bluff on one side, there would be either a low marsh or a lake on the other. Probably, there are twenty lakes below Peoria, on one side or the other of the river. They were all long and narrow, and often had an outlet into the river. They appeared more like former beds of the stream, than any thing else.

Pekin is twenty miles below Peoria, on a high bluff, the east side of the river, having two taverns, thirty houses, and a large steam flour mill. Sixty miles below this, on the same side of the river, is a large village called Beardstown. Here are large flour mills, saw mill, &c. all carried by steam.—Twenty miles below this, is a small village called Naples.

As we approached the Mississippi, we saw a good many stately bluffs on the right hand bank, composed of limestone, and rising almost perpendicular, from two to three hundred feet high. Some of them are really grand and beautiful.

At length, with no small degree of pleasure, we came in full view of the majestic Mississippi river. The moment our boat entered the stream, it felt its power, and started off with new life and vigor. It seemed something like travelling, after leaving the sand bars and sluggish current of the Illinois, to be hurried down the Mississippi at the rate of eight or ten miles an hour.

[Pg 79]

We soon reached Upper Alton, a large flourishing village of recent origin. Here, are large steam flour mills, and large warehouses; and in the centre of business is located the State Prison! There is no accounting for taste; but it appeared to me rather singular, to see a prison of convicts brought forward into the centre of a village to be exhibited as its most prominent feature. The reason may have been, to keep it constantly in view as a "terror to evil doers." This is the last town we stopped at in Illinois—and on taking leave of the State, I may be allowed to add a few words respecting it.


CHAPTER IX.

Illinois is three hundred and fifty miles in length; one hundred and eighty in breadth; and lies between thirty-seven and a half, and forty-two and a half degrees north latitude. It contains fifty thousand square miles—equal to forty millions of acres. It is divided into fifty-five counties, and, probably, now contains more than two hundred thousand inhabitants. All the streams, lakes and marshes are lined with a fine growth of timber, sometimes a mile or two in width, and sometimes merely a narrow strip. And as the southern part of the State con[Pg 80]tains the most low, wet land, it has also the most timber. The high land is generally prairie; but there are some exceptions to this. I found quite a number of beautiful groves of timber on high land; sometimes there were only scattering trees, called oak openings.

It is probably as level as any State in the Union. At the northwest of Shawneetown, there is a range of hills; and high bluffs are seen along the banks of the Mississippi and Illinois rivers. In the mineral regions at the northwest corner of the State, there are high hills, and the land is somewhat broken; but the largest portion of the State is composed of gently rolling prairies. These prairies are some of them level and wet, but generally, they are high, dry and gently undulating. They all have an exceedingly fertile soil, and are covered with tall coarse grass and a great variety of beautiful flowers. The soil is a rich, black loam, entirely inexhaustible, and produces abundant crops without the aid of manure. In some of the old settled towns at the lower part of the State, the same spot of ground has been cultivated with Indian corn for a hundred years, and it now produces equally as well as it did at first. In the time of strawberries, thousands of acres are reddened with this delicious fruit. But this country, which so delightfully strikes the eye, and has millions of acres that invite the plough, wants timber for fuel, building and fences. It wants good water in many places, and in too many in[Pg 81]stances, the inhabitants want health. These evils will probably all be remedied by the expedients of cultivation. Bricks will be used for building; coal and peat will be used for fuel; hedges and ditches will be made for fences; forests will be made to grow on the prairies; and deep wells will be sunk for pure water.

There is a fine tract of rich level land extending along the eastern shore of the Mississippi about eighty miles in length, and from three to six miles in width. It commences near New-Alton, and terminates a little below Kaskaskia. About half of its width bordering on the river, is covered with a heavy growth of timber; the remainder is a level prairie; and in the rear it is bordered by a stately bluff of limestone. It is undoubtedly the richest land in the world. Settlements have been made upon it to some extent, but it is not very healthy. It is called the American Bottom. A bottom very similar to this, either on one side or the other, marks the whole course of the Illinois river.

More than five millions of acres have been surveyed, between the Mississippi and Illinois rivers, and assigned by Congress for military bounty lands. These lands embrace all the varieties of soil found in the State—rich bottoms, swamps, prairies, timbered lands, high bluffs and barrens. The northeast part of it is deemed the most pleasant and healthy.

On Rock river, the Kaskaskia, Wabash, Fox, Du Page, Macoupin and Sangamon are large tracts of[Pg 82] first rate land. And very similar to this, are Grand prairie, Mound prairie, the Marine Settlement prairie, and the one occupied by the New-England Christians.

In the region of Sangamon river, nature has delighted to bring together her happiest combinations of landscape; being beautifully variegated with woodland and lawn, like sunshine and shade. It is generally a level country; the prairies are not too extensive, and timber abounds in sufficient quantity to support a dense population. In this beautiful section of the new world, more than two hundred families, from New-England, New-York and North Carolina, fixed their habitations before it was surveyed. The land is exceedingly rich and easily cultivated. It now constitutes a number of counties and is probably as thickly settled as any part of the State. The Sangamon itself is a fine boatable river, and has throughout its whole course, pure, transparent water and a sandy bottom. It enters the Illinois river on the easterly side, about one hundred and forty miles above its mouth.

The Kaskaskia river has a long course in the central part of the State, and the lands upon its borders are happily diversified with hill, vale, prairie and forest. On its banks are Kaskaskia, the former seat of government, and Vandalia, the present metropolis.

The region of Rock and Fox rivers is a beautiful and healthy portion of the State. The land is rich;[Pg 83] the prairies are high, dry and gently undulating and surrounded by excellent timber. The only faults are, the prairies are too large for the quantity of timber, and there are not a sufficient number of springs and small streams of water. But it is a very pleasant and desirable portion of the country, and I believe more emigrants are now directing their course thither, than to any other portion of the State. It has one advantage over all the western section of country, it is more healthy. I believe it is as healthy as any portion of the United States.

Although there are some bodies of sterile and broken land in the State, yet as a whole, it contains a greater proportion of first rate land than any other State in the Union; and probably as great according to its extent as any country on the face of the globe. One of the inconveniences attending this extensive rich country, is too great a proportion of prairies. They cover more than half of the whole State.—But the prevalence of coal and peat, and the ease with which forest trees may be raised, will render even these extensive prairies habitable.

The original cause of these extensive prairies in all the western and southern country is altogether a matter of conjecture. There is no natural impediment in the soil to the growth of forest trees over the whole extent of the country. It is certain that the fire is the cause of continuing them in existence; for where the fire is kept out, trees spring up in[Pg 84] them, in a few years, and their growth is vigorous and rapid.

There are many reasons for the belief, that this western country was once inhabited by a more civilized race of beings, than the present hordes of wild Indians. Specimens of fine pottery and implements of husbandry have been found in various parts of the country; and brick foundations of a large city have lately been discovered in the territory of Arkansas. These, together with the stately mounds and remains of extensive fortifications, indicate that the country was once inhabited by a race of men, who cultivated the soil for a subsistence, and were well acquainted with the mechanic arts. From whence this race of beings came, or whither they went, is alike unknown to us. Since they left, the fire has made the cleared land much more extensive. The fire, in very dry weather, and accompanied by a high wind, after scouring over the prairies, takes to the woodland and destroys the timber. Last fall, I saw hundreds of acres of woodland, so severely burnt over, that I had no doubt the trees were generally killed. But in some places, the forest gradually gains upon the prairie; and could the fire be kept within proper bounds, the western country would soon have an abundant supply of timber. But this cannot well be done. The Indian sets the prairie afire, for the conveniency of hunting—the emigrant sets it afire, so that the fresh grass may spring up for his cattle; and so between[Pg 85] them both, they all get burnt over. And when once kindled, the fire goes where the wind happens to drive.

This State has great advantages for inland navigation by means of its rivers. On the east, it is washed by the Michigan lake and Wabash river; on the south, by the Ohio, and on the west, by the Mississippi. The most important river within the State is the Illinois. It rises near the south end of lake Michigan, runs in a southerly direction about three hundred miles, and falls into the Mississippi, thirty miles above St. Louis. Its two chief head branches are the Kankakee and Oplane; this latter river runs within twelve miles of the lake, and the space between is a low, wet prairie, so that it might easily be connected with its waters. From the north, comes in the Du Page, a larger stream than the Oplane. At Ottawa, eighty miles south of Chicago, comes in Fox river. This is by far the largest tributary of the Illinois, and at their junction is nearly equal to it in size. In all descriptions of the State, mention is hardly made of Fox river; but it is the next in size to the Illinois and Rock rivers, and is one of the most beautiful streams in the whole State. It rises in the territory west of lake Michigan, runs with a lively current, in a very straight channel, from its source to its mouth. It heads in a lake, and this accounts for the fact, that it is not, like other streams, subject to freshets. It is generally fordable—the water is not more than[Pg 86] about three feet deep, and the bottom is sand and pebbles. It is a clear stream, abounding in fish, and withal, passes through the most healthy part of the State.

On the west side, nearly opposite Hennipen, comes in the Bureau river. This is a good mill stream, and is composed of two branches, the one called Great and the other Little Bureau; and these branches join about five miles west of the Illinois. These branches, on the maps, bear the names of Robertson's and James' river, but for what reason I know not. On this river is a large settlement of northern people, and many families from the State of New-Hampshire. Below this, the most material tributaries are the Vermillion and Sangamon from the east, and Spoon river from the west. Whatever others may say, I cannot call the Illinois a pleasant stream. It has a marsh on one side or the other from its mouth to its source, and is full of shoals and sand bars. I passed down the river in a boat that drew less than two feet water, but it often run aground. The worst bar is just below Beardstown. We had to lighten the boat of its freight, water in the boiler, and passengers, before we could pass this bar; and then, the hands had to jump into the water and push the boat over. For about two hundred miles from its mouth, it has many long and narrow lakes, of about the width of the river itself; and probably they were formerly its channel. These lakes generally have an outlet into the river,[Pg 87] and these so much resemble it, that a person not well acquainted with the stream, would be puzzled to know what channel to take. The river occupies too much ground for its quantity of water, and for about half of the year, it is a difficult stream to navigate.

Rock river rises beyond the northern limits of the State in the high lands which separate the waters of the Mississippi from those of lake Michigan. It is a large, beautiful stream, has a lively current, and enters the Mississippi fifty miles below Galena. In the Mississippi near its mouth, is a beautiful island, on which is situated fort Armstrong.

The other principal streams which enter the Mississippi are Fever river, Parasaw, Kaskaskia, and Cahokia. No large streams enter the Ohio or the Wabash, from this State; but some of them are navigable by keel boats.

In the region of Galena are the richest lead mines in the world. Copper ore has also been discovered. The State abounds in mineral coal, which is excellent for the grate. It burns freer than the Pennsylvania coal, and emits much more light. Salt is made in large quantities at the salt works, near Shawneetown.

In the southern part of the State, cotton will grow in a favorable year, and it is cultivated to some extent for family use. This conclusively shows a milder climate than in New-England. In the northern section, in the region of the vast prairies and[Pg 88] lakes, the wind sometimes blows strong and keen in the winter. It is not subject to the strong chilly easterly winds so severely felt along the Atlantic coast. During the year, the climate is undoubtedly more mild than that of New-England. Apple, pear and peach trees grow vigorously and produce abundantly. In the spring of the year the air becomes fragrant with the blossoms of fruit trees and wild flowers.

The soil and the climate are well suited to the production of wheat, Indian corn, potatoes, and all garden vegetables. The crops are abundant and of an excellent quality. The prairies every where abound in wild grass, and afford an inexhaustible range for cattle, horses and sheep. The grass is very nutricious, and it may with truth be said, there is not a finer grazing country in the world.

The most prevalent diseases are bilious fevers and the fever and ague. These are caused by stagnant water and swamps. Removed from these, good health is generally enjoyed. The consumption, the scourge of New-England, is never known in all the western country. In some parts of the lower section of the State, the inhabitants have been afflicted with a disease called milk sickness. It, in the first place, affects the cattle, and never occurs until the frosts of autumn. These frosts kill the grass on the high prairies, and induce the cattle to go into the low bottoms and woods, where vegetation remains green. It has been discovered that the disease[Pg 89] is caused by the cattle's eating a poisonous vine which grows luxuriantly in these bottoms. After eating this vine, the animal appears weary and faint, travels with difficulty, droops, and at length dies. If men or animals partake of the milk of the cows, when they are thus disordered, they are affected in the same manner. Men, however, sometimes recover. This disease is not confined to Illinois. Near the rich bottom lands in Indiana and Missouri, animals and men have been affected with it. In the northern half of the State, I was informed, that not an instance of milk sickness had ever been known.

There are no large towns in Illinois, but quite a number of flourishing villages. Danville, near the eastern line of the State, is quite a flourishing town; and here the land office for the northern section is kept. It is one hundred and thirty miles south of Chicago, and it is supposed, that the office will shortly be removed to that place. Springfield, situated on a branch of the Sangamon river, is near the centre of the State, and is a large, flourishing village. It is sixty miles south of Peoria, about thirty east of the Illinois river; and it is highly probable that it will become, shortly, the seat of the State government. The most important towns on the Mississippi river, are Galena, Quincy, Alton, Edwardsville, and Kaskaskia; on the Ohio river, are Trinity, America and Shawneetown; on the Wabash, are Palmyra, Lawrenceville, Palestine, Ster[Pg 90]ling, &c. and in the interior, besides those we have before mentioned, are Vandalia, the present seat of the State government, Jacksonville, Maysville, Hillsborough, Salem, and many other small villages; besides quite a number of paper towns, that may in time have a "local habitation," in addition to their high sounding names.

Chicago is now the largest town in the State; and as it is favorably situated for trade, it will probably continue to take the lead in time to come.—Vandalia, the present seat of government, is pleasantly situated on a high bank of the Kaskaskia river. Respectable buildings for the accommodation of the government and the courts have been erected. The village contains about a hundred houses; some of them, built of brick and elegant.

Kaskaskia is the oldest town in the State. It is pleasantly situated on an extensive plain upon the bank of the river of the same name, and eleven miles from its mouth. It was settled as early as Philadelphia, by the French, and once contained seven thousand inhabitants; but now it numbers not more than one thousand. This was formerly the seat of government; it was removed to Edwardsville, then to Vandalia; but it will probably be destined to take one more remove, either to Springfield or Peoria.

Galena, on the Mississippi, near the northwest corner of the State, began to be settled in 1826. It is three hundred and fifty miles north of St. Louis,[Pg 91] and about one hundred and fifty west of Chicago. It now contains between one and two thousand inhabitants, forty-two stores and warehouses, and two hundred houses. It is the seat of justice for the county, and has ten thousand inhabitants in its vicinity.

The same provisions here for schools have been made as in the other western States. In addition to one thirty-sixth part of all the public lands, three per cent. on all the sales is added to the school fund. It is in contemplation to establish an university. For this purpose a sixth part of the school fund and two entire townships have been appropriated. Rock Spring theological school, under the superintendence of the Baptists, is a respectable academy in the Turkey Hills' Settlement, seventeen miles east of St. Louis. It has fifty students.[1] Primary schools are found in the villages and populous neighborhoods; but in many places there is much need of them.

The representatives and senators are chosen once in two years; the governor and lieutenant governor in four years. The judiciary consists of a supreme court and other county courts. All free white male citizens, who have resided in the State six months, are entitled to the right of suffrage; and they vote at elections viva voce.

[1] This school has recently been removed to Alton.


[Pg 92]

CHAPTER X.

The prairies in the western country are all burnt over once a year, either in spring or fall, but generally in the fall; and the fire is, undoubtedly, the true cause of the continuance of them. In passing through the State I saw many of them on fire; and in the night, it was the grandest exhibition I ever saw. A mountain of flame, thirty feet high, and of unknown length, moving onward, roaring like "many waters"—in a gentle, stately movement, and unbroken front—then impelled by a gust of wind, suddenly breaks itself to pieces, here and there shooting ahead, whirling itself high in air—all becomes noise, and strife, and uproar, and disorder. Well might Black Hawk look with indifference on the puny exhibition of fireworks in New-York, when he had so often seen fireworks displayed, on such a gigantic scale, on his own native prairies.

A prairie storm of fire is indeed terrific. Animals and men flee before it, in vain. When impelled by a strong breeze, the wave of fire passes on, with the swiftness of the wind; and the utmost speed of the horse lingers behind. It then assumes a most appalling aspect; roars like a distant cataract, and destroys every thing in its course. Man takes to a tree, if he fortunately can find one; sets a back fire; or, as a last resort, dashes through the[Pg 93] flame to windward, and escapes with life; although often severely scorched; but the deer and the wolf continue to flee before it, and after a hot pursuit, are run down, overwhelmed and destroyed.

Much caution should be used, in travelling over an open prairie country, in the fall of the year, when the grass is dry. Instances were told me, of the entire destruction of the emigrant and his family by fire, while on the road to their destined habitation.

I had heard much of the backwoodsmen, and supposed, of course, I should find many of them in Illinois; but after diligent search, I found none that merited the appellation. The race has become extinct. Who are the inhabitants of Illinois? A great portion of them, from the north, recently settled there, and of course, possessing the same hospitality, sobriety and education as the northern people. They went out from us; but they are still of us. A person will find as good society there, as here; only not so much of it. The upper house on Fox river settlement, was occupied by an intelligent and refined family, recently from Massachusetts.

Meeting houses and school houses are rare, owing to the sparseness of the inhabitants; but the country is settling rapidly, and these deficiencies will soon be supplied. Indeed, so rapidly is the country settling, that in writing this account of it, I sometimes feel like the man who hurried home with his[Pg 94] wife's bonnet, lest it should be out of date, before I could get it finished.

Emigrants, going to settle at the West, with their families, would do well to take their beds, bedding, a moderate supply of culinary utensils, the most essential of their farming tools, and a good supply of clothing. These articles are all high there, and somewhat difficult to be obtained. The more cumbersome of household furniture, such as chairs, tables, bedsteads, &c. are not so essential; because their place can be supplied by the ruder articles of domestic manufacture. In the new settlements, most of the families had chairs or benches, tables and bedsteads, made on the spot by the husbandmen.

Provisions are cheap, but vary in price according to the demand. Corn, at Beardstown, is worth twelve and a half cents a bushel; at Hennipen, twenty-five cents; and on Fox river, fifty cents; and other articles in proportion.

When the settler arrives at his location, his first business is to build a log house, which is soon done; then fence in a field, and it is ready for the plough. The prairie breaks up hard at first, requiring four yoke of oxen; but after the first breaking, a single horse can plough it. A good crop is produced the first year; but better in succeeding years. He had better hoe his Indian corn. It keeps the ground clear of weeds, and increases the crop; but half of the cornfields are not hoed at all.

[Pg 95]

In the fall of the year, he must take especial care that his crops, stacks of hay, fences, &c. are not burnt, in the general conflagration of the prairies. To prevent this, as good a method as any is to plough two or three furrows around his improvements, and at a distance of about two rods plough as many more; and in a mild day, when the grass is dry, burn over the space between. If he neglects this, he must keep a good look out in a dry and windy day. If he sees a smoke to windward, it will not do to wait until he can see the fire; he must summon all hands, and set a back fire. With a strong breeze, fire will sometimes run over the dry prairies faster than a horse. The inhabitants are often too negligent in this particular. While I was there, a number of stacks of hay and grain, and two or three houses were burnt, from the mere negligence of their owners.

But I must bid adieu to the beautiful State of Illinois. To the practical husbandman, and to the enthusiastic admirer of the beauties of nature, it is alike attractive; and in which, they both will find ample scope for the exercise of the powers of body and of mind.

After two or three hours stay at Alton, we started down the stream; and in seven miles, came to the mouth of the turbid Missouri. Here, two mighty rivers join their forces, and rolling on with irresistible power, for thirteen hundred miles, mingle with the waters of the ocean. The great Mis[Pg 96]souri, after traversing a vast extent of country, in various directions, here bears directly down upon the Mississippi; but the latter, like a coy maiden, shrinks back, recoils at his approach, and seems to decline the rude embrace; and they travel on together for forty miles, before the Missouri can unite its muddy waters with those of the clear and transparent Mississippi. Here, the Missouri, having at length gained the complete mastery, holds throughout its undisputed sway; and gives its own peculiar complexion to the united stream.

The appearance is, indeed, quite singular; to see the two rivers passing along, side by side, in the same channel, such a long distance, without mingling their waters; and the line, between the muddy and clear water, is so well defined and distinctly marked, that it can readily be seen from the shore.

On the western bank of the river, seventeen miles below the mouth of the Missouri, is the town of St. Louis. The view was fine and imposing, as we approached it by water; and it is the most pleasantly situated of any town on the banks of the Mississippi. It stands on an elevated plain, which gradually rises from the water, to its western extremity. Back of it, there is a level and extensive prairie, and above the village, are a number of stately Indian mounds. St. Louis is the most important town in all the western country; and there is not a town in the world, such a distance from the sea, that in commercial advantages can at all compare[Pg 97] with it. When we consider its situation, near the junction of two mighty rivers, the one navigable twenty-five hundred miles, the other one thousand, and the large navigable branches of each, and see that this place must be the centre of trade for the whole, it requires not the gift of prophecy to designate this spot, as the site of the greatest city of the West. It is now a large town, chiefly built of brick; has a brisk trade; and probably contains seven or eight thousand inhabitants. There was a time, when the only craft on the river was keel boats, and the transportation of goods, arduous and expensive. Then, this place struggled slowly into existence, and sometimes remained stationary, or rather declined; but the introduction of steamboats started it into newness of life and vigor. Its trade is now daily extending itself, and the town is continually increasing in population and buildings. A dozen steamboats were lying at the landing—some bound high up on the rivers; others, to Pittsburgh and New-Orleans. This seems to be a sort of "half way house," between the upper and lower country; being a place of general deposit for goods, destined either way. And St. Louis will never have to contend with a rival; for there is no other suitable spot near the junction of the two rivers, to locate a city. She will, therefore, continue to increase in size, wealth and beauty, and remain in all time to come, the undisputed "Queen of the West."

[Pg 98]

There is a land office kept at St. Louis; and plenty of government land to be obtained for a dollar and a quarter an acre. It is chiefly settled by Americans; but French settlers are found, and in St. Louis there are a large number. Considerable trade in peltries is carried on with the Indians, who come to the principal towns and exchange their skins for goods. They are continually seen in the streets of St. Louis.

St. Louis has a theatre, and we attended it.—Quite a decent edifice, a tolerable play, and a full and fashionable audience. I could perceive no essential difference between this assembly and those of Boston or New-York. Good society is found here. The streets at night were quiet; or only disturbed by the sound of the violin on board the flat boats, or the merry boatman's song. The sky was serene, the air mild, and we had many a pleasant walk through the town and its environs. Indeed, there is a peculiar balmy softness in the air, grateful to the feelings, not to be found in our northern climate. St. Louis is a pleasant place; and were it not for the stacks of bar lead on the shore, and some slight peculiarities in the customs of its inhabitants, it could hardly be distinguished from an eastern city. A steam ferry boat plies between this place and the opposite shore, and affords a large profit to its owner.


[Pg 99]

CHAPTER XI.

Missouri contains sixty thousand square miles, being two hundred and seventy miles in length and two hundred and twenty in breadth. It lies on the west side of the Mississippi river, between thirty-six and forty degrees north latitude. It now contains, probably, one hundred and fifty thousand inhabitants, of whom thirty thousand are slaves.

A large tract of this State, commencing at its south end, extending up the Mississippi river above the mouth of the Ohio, and running into the interior, possesses rich alluvial soil, but is low, swampy, full of lakes, and much of it, subject to overflow. Beyond this to the west, the country is broken and hilly; sometimes covered with a small species of oak, and sometimes naked sandy hills and plains.—The whole southerly half of the State, offers but small inducements to the farmer. Where the soil is rich, it is too low and unhealthy; where it is high, dry and healthy, it is too barren and sterile to be cultivated. The best portion of the State lies between the Missouri and Mississippi rivers. This section is the most settled of any part of the State. Its surface is delightfully variegated and rolling, and possesses large tracts of rich alluvial and high prairies. The soil contains a greater proportion of sand, than that of the other western States; so that it is easily cultivated, and is never disagreeably[Pg 100] muddy. There are spots where we find the stiff clayey soil of Ohio and New-York; but they are not extensive. No part of the globe, in a state of nature, can so easily be travelled over in carriages as this. Even in spring, the roads cannot be called muddy or difficult to pass. There are two extensive tracts of heavily timbered upland, similar to those of Ohio and Kentucky—the one is called the Bellevue, the other the Boone's Lick Settlement. The surface rolls gently and almost imperceptibly. In this region are many springs of good water, and it is said to be healthy.

The Mississippi is skirted with a prairie, commencing ten miles above the mouth of the Missouri, for the distance of seventy miles. It is about five miles in width, and possesses an excellent soil.

There are no prairies of any considerable size on the borders of the Missouri, within the limits of the State; but its banks are generally covered with a beautiful growth of tall, straight forest trees. The bottom land on this river is about four miles in width, is sufficiently mixed with sand to prevent its being muddy, and is not subject to be overflowed. There are no bayous, ponds or marshes on the margin of the Missouri. The bottoms are now considerably settled for four hundred miles above its mouth. Charaton, over two hundred miles up the river, is the highest compact settlement. But the largest and most populous settlement in the State is Boone's Lick, in Franklin county. This is one[Pg 101] hundred and eighty miles above the mouth of the river. Scattered settlements are, however, found along the river banks for six hundred miles, to the Council Bluffs. Above the Platte, which is the largest tributary of the Missouri, the prairies come quite in to the banks of the river, and extend on either hand, farther than can be measured by the eye. This is the general complexion of the river banks until you reach the Rocky mountains.

As far as the limits of this State extend, the river is capable of supporting a dense population for a considerable distance from its banks. Above these limits, it is generally too destitute of wood and water to become habitable by any people, except hunters and shepherds. All the tributaries of the Missouri are generally copies of the parent stream, and one general remark will apply to the whole. They all have narrow margins of excellent bottom land; and as the country recedes from these, it becomes more and more sandy, barren and destitute of water, until it resembles the deserts of Arabia.

Wheat and corn are generally the chief productions, and the soil is excellent for both. The whole western country is remarkable for withstanding the severest droughts. A crop has never been known to fail in the driest seasons. From twenty-five to thirty bushels to the acre is an average crop of wheat, and from fifty to seventy-five, of corn.—The good lands in Missouri produce corn in as great perfection as in any part of the world. It is warm,[Pg 102] loamy land, and so mellow that it is easily cultivated. Even where the sand appears to predominate, great crops are produced. The soil, in the vicinity of the Missouri, is more pliant, and less inclined to be muddy, than that on the banks of the Mississippi. Rye, barley, oats, flax, hemp, tobacco, melons, pumpkins, squashes and all garden vegetables flourish remarkably well. Peaches, pears, plums, cherries, &c. grow to great perfection. The land seems well adapted to the use of plaster, and this is found of excellent quality, in inexhaustible quantities, on the banks of the Missouri.

Beyond all countries, this is the land of blossoms. Every prairie is an immense flower garden. In the spring, their prevailing tint is that of the peach blossom—in summer, of a deeper red—then a yellow—and in autumn, a brilliant golden hue.

The natural productions of the soil are abundant. The red and yellow prairie plum, crab apples, pawpaws, persimons, peccans, hazelnuts and walnuts are generally found in perfection and abundance. Wild hops cover whole prairies; and two or three species of grapes are found in various parts of the State. The heats of summer and dryness of the atmosphere render this suitable for the cultivation of the vine. Silk might also be raised in great abundance, as the mulberry tree is every where found among the trees of the forest. Near New-Madrid, cotton is cultivated.

[Pg 103]

Bears, wolves and panthers are found here. The prairie wolf is the most numerous and mischievous. Deer, as the Indians retire, grow more plenty, and are frequently seen in flocks feeding near the herds of cattle. There is a species of mole found here, and indeed in all the western and southern country, called gopher. These animals live in communities, and build small eminences of a circular form and about a foot high. They are mischievous in potatoe fields and gardens.

Rattlesnakes, copper heads, and ground vipers are found in the unsettled regions; especially, near flint knobs and ledgy hills. They are not so common as in more timbered regions. It is probable that the burning of the prairie destroys great numbers of them. The waters are covered with ducks, geese, swans, brants, pelicans, cranes and many other smaller birds. The prairie hen and turtle dove are numerous.

The domestic animals are the same as in other States. This State and Illinois have decided natural advantages for the rearing of cattle, horses, hogs and sheep.

A distinguishing feature in the climate, is in the dryness and purity of the atmosphere. The average number of cloudy days in a year is not more than fifty, and not more than half that number are rainy. The quantity of rain is not more than eighteen inches. The sky in summer and autumn is generally cloudless. There are no northeast continued[Pg 104] rains as in the Atlantic States. The longest storms are from the southwest.

The usual diseases are intermittent and bilious fevers. Sometimes pleurisy and lung fevers prevail in winter. Pulmonic complaints, attended with cough, are seldom; and consumption, that scourge of the East, is unknown.

The summers are quite warm, and sometimes oppressive; but generally, a refreshing breeze prevails. The winters are sometimes cold, and the wind blows sharp and keen. The Missouri is frozen sufficiently strong to bear loaded teams. But days are found even in January, when it is agreeable to sit at an open window. A few inches of snow occasionally fall, but there is hardly any good sleighing.

This State is known to be rich in minerals, although a large portion remains yet unexplored. Lead has been found in abundance. The principal "diggings" are included in a district fifteen miles by thirty in extent; the centre of which is sixty miles southwest from St. Louis, and about half that distance from Herculaneum, on the Mississippi. The earth is of a reddish yellow, and the ore is found embedded in rock and hard gravel. Fifty diggings are now occupied, from which three millions of pounds of lead are annually sent to market. It is transported from the mines in wagons, either to Herculaneum or St. Genevieve, and from thence by water to New-Orleans. Stone coal abounds, especially in the region of St. Louis and St. Charles.[Pg 105] Plaster, pipe clay, manganese, zinc, antimony, red and white chalk, ochres, flint, common salt, nitre, plumbago, porphyry, jasper, porcelain clay, iron, marble and the blue limestone of an excellent quality for lime, have already been discovered in this State. Iron, lead, plaster and coal are known to exist in inexhaustible quantities.

St. Louis is much the largest town in the State. It is not only the most pleasantly situated, but has the most favorable location for trade of any town on the Mississippi above New-Orleans. It has, however, been sufficiently described.

St. Genevieve is situated about a mile west of the Mississippi on the upper extremity of a beautiful prairie. It is principally settled by the French and contains about fifteen hundred inhabitants. It is an old town, and has not increased for the last thirty years.

Jackson, the seat of justice for Cape Girardeau county, is twelve miles west of the Mississippi, contains one hundred houses, some of them built of brick and handsome.

The town of Cape Girardeau is situated on a high bluff of the Mississippi, fifty miles above the mouth of the Ohio. It has a fine harbor for boats, and commands an extensive view of the river above and below. It exhibits marks of decay.

Potosi is the county town of Washington. It is situated in the centre of the mining district, in a pleasant valley sixty-five miles southwest from St.[Pg 106] Louis. St Michael is an old French town among the mines. There are some other small villages in the vicinity of the mining district.

Herculaneum is situated among the high bluffs of the river, thirty miles below St. Louis. There are a number of shot towers in its vicinity. New-Madrid is fifty miles below the mouth of the Ohio. Carondolet is a small French village six miles below St. Louis; and four miles below this, is the garrison, called Jefferson Barracks. The public buildings are extensive, and a large number of soldiers are generally stationed here. There are no large villages on the Mississippi above the mouth of the Missouri. Palmyra is probably as large as any. The others are Louisianaville, Troy and Petersburg.

There are a number of fine villages on the banks of the Missouri; the largest of which is St. Charles, twenty miles from the mouth, and just the same distance from St. Louis by land. It is situated on a high bank of solid limestone, has one street of good brick houses; and in its rear, an extensive elevated prairie. It contains a protestant and a catholic church, was once the seat of government, and numbers twelve hundred inhabitants; a third of whom are French. It has finely cultivated farms in its neighborhood, and has as interesting scenery as any village in the western country.

Jefferson City is the present seat of government, but being thought to be an unfavorable location has not improved as was expected. It is situated on[Pg 107] the south bank of the Missouri, nine miles above the mouth of the Osage river, and one hundred and fifty-four by water from St. Louis. Fifty miles above this, is the town of Franklin. It is situated on the north bank of the river, contains two hundred houses and one thousand inhabitants. It is surrounded by the largest body of rich land in the State; and is the centre of fine farms and rich farmers. Boonville is on the opposite bank of the river and was originally settled by Col. Boone, the patriarch of Kentucky. Bluffton, two hundred and twenty-nine miles by water from St. Louis, is the last village within the limits of this State.


CHAPTER XII.

When we were ready to start, not finding a steamboat bound to New-Orleans, which would go under a day or two, we took passage, as far as the mouth of the Ohio, in one bound to Pittsburgh.

On the eastern side of the river, to the mouth of the Ohio, it is a level country, (with only one exception) called the "American Bottom," and is as fine, rich land as earth affords; but is somewhat subject to overflow, and is supposed not to be very healthy. Settlements are, however, making upon it.[Pg 108] On the west side we found a number of stately bluffs of limestone, rising from the water perpendicular two or three hundred feet.

I was much amused to see the "screw auger grist mills" on the bank of the river. A place is selected where the current sets strong along the shore; and a log seventy feet long, three or four feet in diameter, having a board float a foot in width from stem to stern, in a spiral form, like a coarse threaded screw, is thrown into the river. To the upper end of the log, by an universal joint, is attached a cable, and the other end, extended in a diagonal direction to a shaft in the mill on the bank. The log wheel floats in the water parallel with the shore, about a third of it above the surface; is held in its position by sticks at each end extending to the bank, and the cable itself prevents its going down stream. The current of the river turns the wheel, and the mill clatters merrily on the bank.

These high banks are not altogether without their use. They furnish elegant sites for shot towers; and probably half a dozen of them are thus occupied.

The greatest natural curiosity on the river, is what is called the "Towers." High pillars of limestone are seen on both sides of the stream, and one solid rock rises almost in the middle of the river, thirty feet high. Some of the most striking curiosities have particular, if not appropriate names given[Pg 109] them; such as "the grand tower," "the devil's candlestick," "the devil's bake-oven," &c.

The navigation of the Mississippi in steamboats has its dangers. Snags and sawyers are scattered along down the river; and it requires great attention in the pilot, to avoid them. But there are other dangers beside this. As we came along down, we passed a steamboat that had burst her boiler; blown the upper part of it to pieces and killed a number of persons; and further down the Mississippi, the "Boonslick" run into the "Missouri Belle," sunk her in eighty feet of water, and drowned a number of passengers.

As we came down opposite the mouth of the Ohio, we had our courage put to the test. It was about twilight, and cloudy; but objects could well be discerned for some distance. We saw a steamboat coming up the river, and apparently intending to pass us on the left hand. When within a short distance of us, the boat "took a sheer," stood on the other tack, to pass us on the right. Our captain sung out, "the boat is coming right into us; back the engine." Then was a scene of confusion and dismay on board; "and the boldest held his breath for a time." If the boats came in contact, one or both would undoubtedly sink; and it appeared unavoidable. I ran up on the upper deck, and stood beside the flag staff, to wait the event. It was soon decided. By backing our boat and putting the steam on the other, we passed without striking[Pg 110] at the distance of a few feet only. This was, indeed, a fortunate escape.

I thought the pilot of the other boat must have been at fault; but the captain told me he was not at all. A cross current from the Ohio struck the bow of his boat, and veered her round in spite of the helm; and then, the only chance was to go ahead with all the speed he could.

It now became quite dark, and in attempting to go across into the Ohio channel, the boat run aground on a sand bar. All the boat hands were employed till past midnight to get her off, but without success. They all turned in, to rest and wait till daylight.

When the captain arose in the morning, he found the boat adrift. On examination, it appeared the force of the current alone had washed away the sand bar, and drove the boat across from the Mississippi side into the Ohio channel. He put the steam on, and we run to the landing place on the Illinois side, and a short distance up the river. Here we found half a dozen steamboats, exchanging with each other goods and passengers.

The mouth of the Ohio is a general stopping place for all boats running up and down either river; and would be a fine situation for a town, if the land were suitable to build upon. Although the shore appeared to be thirty feet above the then low stage of water, yet in a freshet, the whole is laid eight or ten feet under water.

[Pg 111]

We found here a large tavern house and grocery; both stuck up on stilts; the latter, standing nearest the bank, had a breakwater, to keep it from being carried away by the flood and floating timber. We stopped an hour or more; went to the tavern, and found dissipation in a flourishing condition. Those acquainted with the place, told us it was as much as a man's life was worth, to stay there. Rioting, robbing, gambling and fighting were the general order of things, day after day, and night after night. For the honor of the human race, I hope this account is exaggerated. But I must confess, appearances are against it.

Here, we left our boat, and took passage on board another, bound to New-Orleans. These Mississippi steamboats are of gigantic size, and look like a floating castle—I was about to say the ancient ark; and although it might fall some short of that ancient vessel, in quantity and quality of lading, yet when its size and great variety of cargo are taken into consideration, the comparison might not be deemed a bad one. In one particular, it would be exact. We had aboard a number of "creeping things."

Our boat was laden with barrels of pork, kegs of lard, hogsheads of hams, bags of corn, bars of lead, bales of cotton, coops of chickens, horses, men, women, children, and negro slaves; men of gentlemanly deportment and of good character; and gamblers, horse-jockeys, and negro dealers; and women, of good fame, ill fame, and no particular[Pg 112] fame at all. This was, surely, variety enough for one boat.

The untravelled man might obtain some new ideas of the world, by taking a trip in a Mississippi steamboat. It seemed like a world in miniature. Singing, fiddling, dancing, card playing, gambling, and story telling, were among the pastimes of the passage. Mere pastimes, to relieve the tedium of the voyage, for those who have no other resources at command, may not be the subject of censure; but there were some practices on board this boat, which ought not to be thus lightly passed over.

One woman, in the garb and mien of a lady, and whose person still wore the bloom of youth, but whose conduct was far from being unexceptionable, appeared, sometimes, pensive and sad. She appeared as though she had seen other and better days; and that her present course of life was not, even to herself, entirely satisfactory. I had some curiosity to learn something of her history, and one day in a talkative mood, she gave me the outlines of it.

She said, she was the daughter of rich parents in the State of Delaware. Her father died while she was quite young; leaving her with an ample fortune, and in the care of an indulgent mother. She had always been kept at school; learned music, drawing and dancing; read novels; attended parties, and was caressed and flattered. In short, she was a giddy girl, and knew nothing of the world.

[Pg 113]

At this critical time of life, she was flattered by a young man of prepossessing appearance, but of worthless character, who offered her marriage. She knew her mother would, at her tender years, object to the match; and therefore, at the early age of fifteen, she clandestinely jumped out of the window of her boarding house in the night, and was married!

This was a sore affliction to her mother; and although she herself was not entirely discarded, her husband was never permitted to enter the parental mansion. Her husband obtained her fortune, spent it "in riotous living," and after awhile, left her with two small children, and fled to Cincinnati. She, in her distress, applied to her mother; she would receive her, but not her children. She then took her children, and went after her husband. She found him; but they lived but a short time together, before he abused her in such a manner, she was obliged to quit him; and not much caring whither she went, she took passage on board a boat for St. Louis. At this place she supported herself and children as long as she could, by selling her trinkets and superfluous clothing, and then was left destitute. She had never been accustomed to labor; her hands were as delicate as those of a child—she "could not work, and to beg she was ashamed." As a last resort, (could a virtuous woman think so?) she became an inmate of a house not of the strictest morals.

[Pg 114]

After staying there awhile, she became acquainted with some of the hands of the boat, who persuaded her to try her fortune at the city of New-Orleans. She was now only about twenty! She was miserable, and expected to be so. Vice carried with it its own punishment. I tried to induce her to return to her mother; but in vain. Her conduct had been such, she was ashamed to return. A sad termination this, to the bright hopes, and fond anticipations of an indulgent mother. So true it is, that one improvident step in life, often leads to destruction.

Another female who figured somewhat conspicuously, was one who came on board at the mouth of the Ohio from the steamboat Nile; and from that circumstance, was called by the passengers the "Queen of the Nile." She was from the State of Ohio, possessed a fine person, and in her days of innocence, must have been handsome and fascinating. She was the daughter of respectable parents, and commenced life with high hopes and brilliant expectations; but she had been "disappointed in love." Abandoned by her "cruel spoiler," she gave herself up to dissipation and crime. The bloom of her cheeks began to fade, and the sad aspect, sometimes so conspicuously depicted in her countenance, plainly indicated a mind ill at ease and a heart painfully sad. She travelled without object, other than to revel in dissipation and kill time. But her course of life had made serious inroads upon her health,[Pg 115] and it was apparent enough that her days must be "evil and few." I sometimes observed her sitting on the guard of the boat for hours all alone, gazing in sadness at the peaceful forest and cottages as they passed in rapid review before her, the tears fast flowing from her eyes, and her face exhibiting such anguish as may not be expressed by words. She kept on in the boat to New-Orleans, and I afterwards was informed by a gentleman who was a fellow passenger, that she became mistress to a Frenchman in that city. How mistaken mankind are! Crime never did cure the heart ache, or dissipation ever dispel sorrow.

The steamboats are constructed like a long two story house, having large windows and green blinds. The hold is to stow away their heavy freight; on the first deck, is the gentlemen's cabin, and the dining room, where all the cabin passengers take their meals; in the centre, is the engine, cook room, &c.—and forward, are the boilers and wood. On the next deck, is the ladies' cabin aft, and forward is the place for deck passengers, having berths but no bedding. Over this, is what is called the "hurricane deck."

A cabin passage from St. Louis to New-Orleans, is twenty-five dollars; and a deck passage seven dollars—the passenger finding his own bedding and meals. Cooking stoves are provided, so that families often lay in their own provisions and cook their own meals.

[Pg 116]

Boats burn a good deal of wood—ours consumed a cord an hour; and it is no small job to bring the wood aboard from the slippery banks of the Mississippi. As an inducement to the deck passengers to help wood the boat, two dollars are deducted to those who agree to wood; so in that case they only pay five dollars. Thirty or forty of our passengers agreed to wood, but the mate and clerk had much difficulty to make them fulfil their engagements.

It was sometimes really laughable, to see the expedients resorted to, to get rid of wooding; especially when the boat rounded to, by the side of a wood-pile in the night. The clerk would sing out, "Wood-pile, wood-pile, where are the wooders?" But they, like some characters in high places, were more inclined to "dodge the question," than to walk up manfully and perform their duty. Some feigned themselves sick; some hid under the baggage, or beneath the berths; others went on shore and skulked in the woods, until the wooding was over. So that with all their coaxing and driving, they would not be able to bring to the work more than half of the wood hands.

One fracas was ludicrous, although I could not but regret the result. It is well known, that the inhabitants of the several western States are called by certain nicknames. Those of Michigan are called wolverines; of Indiana, hooshers; of Illinois, suckers; of Ohio, buckeyes; of Kentucky, corn-crackers; of Missouri, pukes, &c. To call a person by[Pg 117] his right nickname, is always taken in good part, and gives no offence; but nothing is more offensive than to mis-nickname—that is, were you to call a hoosher a wolverine, his blood would be up in a moment, and he would immediately show fight.—Now it so happened that the mate, who was a regular built buckeye, had a dispute with a wood hand, who was about half drunk, and refused to wood. The mate stood on the lower deck, and he on the deck above; and in the course of the wrangle, he had called him some terrible hard names, which he bore with becoming fortitude and forbearance. At length, the wood hand called him a "d—d old puke!" This was too much—unendurable. He fired in a moment—rushed up and floored him in a twinkling—dragged him down by his collar, thrust him ashore, and left him in the woods.

But the steamboat, the steamboat! For noise and confusion, give me the Mississippi steamboat. They all have powerful high-pressure engines; the escape pipe is large, and at every breath they make a tremendous noise. They "talk big," and swiftly dash through the water. It is indeed a grand display, to see the steamboats pass. In "a voice of thunder" they come—the wheels lash the water—and the prows cut the stream—and the waves roll in violent commotion for hundreds of yards behind them. And then, the noise of the engine, and hurry and bustle of the passengers within:—an excellent place to cure one of the ennui.

[Pg 118]

On board our boat, we had a number of very intelligent and agreeable gentlemen—Kentuckians, Tennesseans, Mississippians, &c. I wish these western people would be a little more exact in speaking the English language. Some inaccuracies I observed; and if this book ever reaches them, they will not be offended, but obliged to me for these suggestions. In the first place, they use the word which instead of what. Ask a question, and if they do not understand you, they reply "which?"—Another phrase, "I have saw," instead of "I have seen," is often used. Then there is "a right smart chance," applied to almost every thing; and "tote in the plunder," instead of "bring in the baggage." But the word heap has too much by far heaped upon its shoulders. "A heap better," "a heap easier," and "a heap of ladies," are phrases often heard. I may be a little sensitive, but the word heap is very disagreeable, and I wish it was expunged from the English vocabulary. All these expressions are not used by many literary men in this country, but they are indeed, quite too common.

They have some peculiarities in the calling of money. A New-England ninepence is called a bit; and the four-pence-half-penny bears the name of pickaroon. In travelling from New-Hampshire to Virginia some years ago, I was somewhat amused at the different names given to the same piece of money. My four-pence-half-penny became at New-York a sixpence, at Philadelphia a fip, and at Vir[Pg 119]ginia it became a four-pence-half-penny again. But all these singularities and inconveniences will soon be done away, and money will universally bear its legal title, dollars and cents.


CHAPTER XIII.

There is an independent frankness in these western people that I admire. It is a kind of individuality of character—every one appears to act out himself, without reference to others. At the north, people are too apt to follow the multitude, or a particular file leader; and by them, shape their opinions and actions. In order to tell whether they will do a particular act, they must look about them, and ascertain what others will say of it. The politician must conform to the usages of his party, whatever they may be. He must think as they think, and act as they act, whether it be agreeable to the dictates of his own conscience or not. The pious lady must be exactly in the fashion—conform to certain leaders—be charitable by rule—and kind, in the most approved mode. If any one has the boldness to take an independent course, in fashion, politics or religion, he is looked upon with suspicion, as a dangerous innovator, and must not be tolerated. The[Pg 120] dogs of war are let loose upon him, and he is hunted down for entertaining an opinion of his own. In this manner, individual character becomes swallowed up and lost in that of the multitude.

But in this region, nature is true to herself. The useless and cumbersome shackles of custom and party are thrown aside with disdain; and the individual walks forth in his own native freedom and independence. He does not shape his course by what his neighbors may say, do or think; but acts according to the dictates of his own heart, and from his own opinion of right and wrong. He is charitable, kind and hospitable—not in a grudging, supercilious manner; or in a way calculated to display himself; but with such an air of open-hearted welcome, as to make the recipient feel at ease, and doubles the value of the kindness bestowed. How can man be niggardly and mean, among the teeming prairies and stately forests of the West, where nature herself, by showering down her blessings with a bountiful hand, teaches him also to be liberal!

And I have often to myself reversed the question and asked, how can northern people be other than inhospitable and niggardly, living in such a crabbed climate, and on such a barren soil. They cannot, in general, afford to be liberal; and were it otherwise, the severe labor and economy—the continual dealing in small things—the constant rack of brains, to find some method to turn a penny to advantage—that must be gone through with, to gain a large estate,[Pg 121] seem to drive out of the head of the possessor all notions of liberality, and tend to steel the heart against noble acts of kindness. That which costs much, and is rarely obtained, is highly valued, and not lightly parted with. We are not well educated in the school of hospitality. We awkwardly perform its teachings—seldom with gracefulness and a hearty welcome.

Among our passengers, there were twenty-three negro slaves, men and women; bought in Kentucky by negro speculators, to be transported to Natchez, where the market is high, to be sold. One of them was taken with the cholera, and in twelve hours died. He was put into a rough box, and when we stopped to wood, buried on shore. This was the only case we had, and the only one I ever witnessed. It is a dreadful disease; but has been too often professionally described, for me to attempt it.

These negroes are singular beings. Although one of their number had died; and although they were slaves, and going to be sold to, they knew not whom, or what hardships they might be made to endure, yet they were always merry—talking, laughing, singing, dancing, in one continued round. At every place we stopped, they would run on shore, and while one sung, clapped his hands, and beat time with his foot, the others would foot it merrily on the smooth ground. Knowing their destination, their thoughtless gayety sometimes produced disagreeable sensations. There are some situations,[Pg 122] however, where ignorance and thoughtlessness are a blessing. They were not confined at all, but appeared to be kindly treated, and to enjoy every liberty they might, consistent with their situation.

The banks of the Mississippi look high enough at low water; probably thirty feet; presenting a raw edge next the stream, and generally covered with a dense forest of lofty trees; yet at high water, they are generally overflowed, except at the high bluffs. The most prominent of these, are what are called the Iron Banks, Chickasaw Bluffs, Walnut Hills, and the site of the city of Natchez—all these are on the east side of the river. I do not remember of seeing a single high bluff on the west side, below the mouth of the Ohio. There are occasionally small elevations over which the river does not flow; and villages erected on them. But every few miles without regard to overflows, log houses are erected in the wilderness, inhabited by woodcutters; and their only employment seems to be, to supply the steamboats with wood. Although wood is cheap, being generally $1,50 a cord, above the mouth of the Ohio, and from there to Natchez $2,00, yet the demand is so great, and the forest so near, they make quite a lucrative business of it.

The river is very crooked, sometimes going five miles to gain one; has many islands, and some places, full of snags. There are two or three snag boats employed on the river, and when they get them chiefly out, the Missouri, which seems to take upon[Pg 123] itself the chief regulation of the stream, brings down at high water a reinforcement equal to the first supply; so that to keep the river clear of snags, is like the labor of Sisyphus, who was doomed to roll a stone up a hill, and the moment he got it near the top, it would roll down again.

The introduction of steamboats on the western waters, has revolutionized the country. They have opened the deep recesses of the West, to the free access of mankind, and let in the light of day upon them. The half-horse and half-alligator race are no longer to be found; but the inhabitants of this part of creation look, and talk, and act, and live—very much like human beings. The refinements, elegancies and luxuries of life are not so generally found here, as in the Atlantic States; but all the necessaries are every where abundant.

In Michigan, Illinois, Missouri, and all along the river Mississippi, I found the inhabitants civil and kind; and in no one instance did I ask for a meal of victuals in vain. It might, sometimes, be a homely one, and once I recollect, it consisted of meat and bread; but those who have such a mawkish sensibility that they cannot relish the simple fare of the forrester, ought never to set a foot on the western world.

The flat boats are still in use on the river. We passed hundreds of them; some loaded with live stock, others with corn, cotton, &c. They have hardly any resemblance of a boat. They are sixty[Pg 124] or seventy feet long, ten wide, having corner posts and a square form like a house, and a flat roof. The current floats them down the stream to the destined port, the cargoes and boats are both sold, and the hands take passage on board the steamboats, home.

We stopped at all the villages and towns of any size on the river, to take and leave passengers and freight; but books give such an accurate description of them, as to render any particular notice here unnecessary. Memphis is the most pleasant, Vicksburg the most flourishing, and Natchez the largest—all on the east side of the river.

There are no large towns on the west side of the river below the mouth of the Ohio. As prominent as any, perhaps, is New-Madrid, situated just within the southern border of the State of Missouri. It was once a much larger village than at present. It is memorable for the romantic history of its origin under General Morgan, and for the great earthquakes in 1811 and 1812. Mr. Flint says that these earthquakes were more severe than any known in our part of the continent. The shocks were felt more or less throughout the whole western country; but they were more severe and produced the most disastrous effects in the region of New-Madrid.—The grave yard of the village, with all its sleeping tenants was precipitated into the river—the trees were violently thrown against each other, bent in various directions or prostrated—the earth burst in many places, and earth, sand and water were thrown[Pg 125] high into the air—thousands of acres were sunk and many ponds formed—the river became dammed up and flowed backwards—islands sunk in the stream, and boats as they passed shared the same fate—the birds of the air became terrified, descended to the earth and flew into the arms of man to shelter themselves from the commotion of nature—the whole country for a time became inundated, but as it was thinly inhabited few lives only were lost. History does not record an earthquake attended with more terrific circumstances and threatening a more exterminating war with man and nature, than this. The thriving country about the village was made desolate, but now it is slowly regaining its former condition. In this region the country is rich and beautiful, but the many ponds made by the earthquake render it unhealthy. New-Madrid is, however, quite a village, transacts much business and is the most noted landing place for steamboats on the west side of the river below St. Louis.


CHAPTER XIV.

At Natchez, I left the boat, and stopped a day or two, to make the necessary preparations to go over land on horseback to Texas. There is a steamboat[Pg 126] that plies regularly between this place and Alexandria on Red River; and we should rather have travelled by water as far as that place, and avoided crossing the Mississippi swamp by land; but the boat had gone, and would not return under a number of days.

Natchez is an incorporated city, containing about three thousand inhabitants. That part of it which lies under the bluff near the river, is muddy, looks old and disagreeable; but the main part of the city is situated on a high bank, two hundred feet above the river; chiefly built of brick, quite pleasant, and makes quite a show of business. The ground back of it, is full of gullies, and is unpleasant. It is an old town, but has much improved within a few years.

Many people going to Texas continue on down the river to New-Orleans, and there take a passage on board a vessel to some port in the province; but my desire was to see the country, and therefore, I chose to travel over land. A pleasant and companionable gentleman from the State of New-York, who came down in the boat with me, agreed to bear me company. Some acquaintances of his, with their families, were on the road to Texas, and he like myself wished to see the country.

Having provided ourselves with horses, portmanteaus, fireworks, &c. and obtained the necessary directions, we took an early start; crossed the Mississippi in a ferry boat, for which we were taxed half a[Pg 127] dollar each; and took the road to Alexandria. We had some ill-forbodings about the great Mississippi swamp; for just as we were about to cross the river a gentleman, of whom we made some enquires respecting the route, told us he thought it now impossible to travel through it in consequence of the rains which had recently fallen. But we were all equipped to go by land, and this, our only route; and therefore, we determined, at all events, to push forward.

There is a road from the mouth of Red River, along its bank to Alexandria, and this, we were afterwards informed, is the best route; but it was seventy miles below us; and whoever takes it, must go down in a boat.

Our route lay, for the first six miles, up the river near its bank; and then we turned more to the west. We passed half a dozen cotton plantations, some quite large, and saw an army of negroes picking it.

The cotton plant grows about as high as a man's head, has blossoms about as big as that of a small rose, and resembling in appearance the hollyhock, but more extensive branches. The pod is about the size and shape of the outer covering of a walnut; and when ripe, it opens in quarters, and presents the cotton in full view. A negro takes a basket or a bag, and swings it at his side, and with his thumb and finger picks out the cotton, almost as fast as a hen picks up corn. It grows from the[Pg 128] seed, is planted every year in hills like corn, and cultivated in the same manner.

A field of cotton in full blossom, makes a fine appearance. After it is picked, it is laid on a rack to dry; then ginned to take out the seed, and put up in bales for the market. The rope and bagging used, are the manufacture of Kentucky; or at least it brings more into market than all the other States. I was told that one prime hand on good land would make ten bales of cotton a year, and raise corn enough to support himself. The average worth of these bales is five hundred dollars. From enquiries I afterwards made, I believe the plantations generally make about seven bales to the hand. No wonder negroes are valuable in a cotton-growing country.

Our route now lay through a dense forest—and the ground generally so miry that we could only ride on a walk. Sometimes we came to the thick canebrakes, about twenty feet high, and overhanging our narrow path. Sometimes, we found the palmetto, which exactly resembles a large green, open fan, standing on a stem a foot high, and so thick that we could hardly ride through them, or see any path at all. Sometimes we came to a sheet of water a hundred yards wide, in which a horse would plunge to the saddle skirts, and for a while, become stuck fast; and again, we would find a cypress swamp, full of cypress knees and mud. Indeed it is the worst swamp I ever travelled over, be[Pg 129]fore or since; and sometimes, I thought our horses were stuck too fast ever to move again.

These cypress knees are quite a curiosity. They start from the roots of the tree, grow from two to four feet high, about the size of a man's arm, but rather larger at the bottom, and are smooth, without leaf or branch. They look like a parcel of small posts with the bark growing over the top end; and are so thick, that it is troublesome to ride among them. The cause or use of this anomaly in nature I cannot divine.

Eighteen miles from Natchez, we came to two log houses and a small stream, called the Tensaw. We crossed the ferry, about twice the length of the boat in width, and paid half a dollar each for ferriage. We had now twelve miles to go to find a stopping place for the night, and all the way, through a dense forest of lofty trees; and it was three o'clock in the afternoon. The first half of the distance was decent travelling, although we could not ride much of the way faster than a walk. Then we came to a wet and miry road.

It began to grow dark in the woods. The trees were quite thick, and hung full of Spanish moss; and there was no moon in the sky. The wolf, the wildcat, and the owl, had pitched their tune for the night; and soon, thick darkness shrouded around our path. The heavens were clear; yet so dense were the foliage and moss, that it was seldom I could find a loop hole, through which a star might[Pg 130] cast its rays upon us. I never had been in such a gloomy situation before. We were in a path, to us untravelled; and by its appearance, seldom travelled by man. We had shoals of muddy water to cross, and sloughs of mud to wallow through. And then the night was so dark, and the track so faint, we frequently lost it, and found it again with difficulty. It was ten o'clock at night when we arrived on the shore of the lake, and saw a light on the other side. We raised the ferryman after a while, and he came out and took us over.

This lake is about a mile wide, and twelve long, and must have once been the channel of the Mississippi. The ferriage here was half a dollar each. On the other side, we found a good house, and a genteel family within. They soon provided for us an excellent supper, which was very acceptable after a ride of thirty miles over such an execrable road. Not being much used to travelling on horseback, I felt excessively fatigued and retired immediately to bed. My companion and myself had each of us a good bed, and we slept soundly until after sunrise.

The morning was fine, so we walked awhile along the shore of the lake, before breakfast. It was about the twentieth of November, yet the air felt as mild as a morning in June. The winter was following hard after me, yet I had travelled to the southward and westward faster than the cold weather. The coldest weather I had found on my route,[Pg 131] was in the State of New-York. There is a softness in the atmosphere of the western States that is very grateful to the feelings, and is not found in our northern climate. In going westward on the same parallel of latitude, the air becomes sensibly more mild and bland. The air is very clear, so here as in Illinois, I could discern objects much further than at the North. I could see a house so far off, that it would not look larger than a bee-hive. There had been no frost here, and nature wore her livery of green.

This gentleman has a fine cotton plantation of rich alluvial land. His house is built facing the lake, on an Indian mound, levelled down to the height of about six feet. We took breakfast with the family in a large portico on the back side of the house. It was a good breakfast, on a neat spread table, and the lady at the head performed the honors of it, with an ease and grace seldom equalled. We performed our parts to a charm, both in eating the breakfast and complimenting the hostess.

This family were from the State of Virginia, and had been settled here in Louisiana seven years.—The gentleman informed me they had generally enjoyed good health, although they had sometimes been afflicted with the fever and ague.

It is refreshing to the weary traveller, when far away from his home, to find a spot in his path, where he can renew his strength, and repose in[Pg 132] peace. At such a spot he lingers, leaves it with regret, and treasures it up in his memory.

I have often thought, that many persons do not travel in a right spirit. They start on their journey with a full belief that all the customs and modes of life they find, differing from those they have been accustomed to, are all wrong, and proper subjects of censure and dislike. They see nothing in its true light, enjoy nothing, find fault with everything; and are continually running their heads against a post. They are always on the rack; and probably punish themselves as much as they do every one around them. But such a course betrays a gross ignorance. Who can read the outpourings of madame Trollope's brain, without being convinced that she had too gross conceptions, and too strong prejudices, to write the history of any people, whose manners were different from her own. She saw nothing, only through a jaundiced eye; and she had too narrow and contracted a mind, ever to make the important discovery, that the fault might be in herself, and not in the objects with which she was surrounded.

Some prefer to be mere scavengers; and when they find anything gross or impure, delight to exhibit it to the gaze of the world. I have often thought of the severe reply of Dr. Johnson to a lady, who told him she liked his dictionary, because he had no indelicate words in it. O, says the doctor, I did not trouble my head about them, but I see you have been looking for them.

[Pg 133]

Other travellers think, the more fault they find, the more they will be noticed; and they will be treated with the more deference and respect. I once happened to ride in the stage with the venerable Chief Justice Marshall. He was affable and polite, at peace with himself, and displeased at nothing. In the same stage, as if nature intended to exhibit two beings, in bold relief, and make the contrast the more striking, was a testy young man, who found fault with every thing, and was pleased with nothing. He cursed the driver, the stage and the road; and the country through which we travelled was too execrable to live in. At the hotel, where we stopped to dine, he keeps the house in a continual uproar. The dinner bell rang, and we set down at the table. For some reason, he did not come in immediately; and when he made his appearance, the table was entirely full. This was too much for him to bear. He cursed the waiter for not saving a place for him. The waiter, as quick as possible, provided him a place at a side table. But he was determined not to be thrown into the shade in this manner. The Judge ate his dinner in silence; but this side table gentleman kept a continual cry for something. "I say, waiter"—bring me this, and bring me that.—His vociferations became quite annoying. At length, he cried out with rather increased vehemence, "I say, waiter, bring me a fresh potatoe." The moment this was uttered, one of the gentleman at our table said, "Waiter, give that gentleman a fresh[Pg 134] chair, I am sure he has set in that one long enough." This was a damper. It caused quite a laugh at the young man's expense. He became silent, and after dinner, we saw no more of him.


CHAPTER XV.

"Behold us mounted once again,"—and immediately after leaving this gentleman's plantation, we again passed into a dense forest and found a muddy path. In about six miles we found some sandy land and pine timber, and here we left what is called the Mississippi swamp. We soon came to the outlet of the lake, which we had to ford. The water was deep, and the shore deep mud. It was a difficult job to make a horse wallow through. We were told that a horse got swamped and died in the mud, a few feet from the spot where we crossed.

We came to the banks of Washita river, followed it down three miles, and crossed over to Harrisonburg. The town is built on a level plain on the west bank of the river; but it contains not more than twenty houses. This river empties into Red River, and is navigable for steamboats a long distance above the village. It is forty-two miles west of Natchez. On this river are the lands where the[Pg 135] famous Aaron Burr talked of establishing a colony; but unless the land above and below is better than in this region, it might not have been very flourishing. The soil is too sandy and poor.

We rode twenty-five miles over a rolling sandy country, generally covered with pine woods; and stopped at night with a gentleman who had been one of Burr's party. He did not seem inclined to say much of that ill-fated expedition. Here we were kindly treated, and fared well. He had been there nineteen years; had cleared a large plantation; raised cotton, corn and cattle; had eight or ten negroes, and possessed the necessaries of life in abundance. But he still lived in a log house, without a glass window in it. I asked him, why he did not have windows. He said, the house was well enough; if the hole cut for a window did not make it light enough, he opened the door. It was not just such a house as I should be contented in, for nineteen years, and possessing the wealth he had.—It, however, was to his taste; and for aught I could see, he was as happy as those who live in much better houses.

To-day we travelled thirty-three miles to Alexandria, just one hundred miles from Natchez. The first forty was Mississippi swamp, excellent land, but a good deal of it too low for cultivation; the last sixty miles was, with few exceptions, hilly, sandy, pitch pine woods. We passed only a few good plantations. Occasionally, we found a small prairie of[Pg 136] poor soil, and a deserted log house. It was indeed the most dreary road I ever travelled. In the last day's travel, we passed two small rivers; one we crossed in a ferry boat; and to our special wonder, we found quite a decent bridge over the other.

Red River is rightly named; it is almost as red as blood, caused by the red soil through which it passes. It is quite a large stream; but the water is too brackish to drink, or for culinary purposes. The only resource of the inhabitants of Alexandria is to catch rain water for which they have enormous large cisterns. We crossed the river opposite the town in a ferry boat, and found the current about as strong as that of the Mississippi. It is navigable for steamboats, in a moderate stage of water, as high up as "the raft," and when the removal of that is completed, for a long distance into the country. About a mile above the town, there is a short rapid which boats cannot pass when the water is low.

The mouth of Red River has probably undergone some changes. It is almost certain, that in by-gone years, Red River had its own separate channel to the Gulf of Mexico; but in process of time, the ever changing Mississippi river took a long turn that way; struck into its channel, and after appropriating its waters and three miles of its bed to its own use, wheeled round to the left, and pursued its own course to the ocean. In this state of the case, the upper part of Red River became a tributary of the Mississippi, and the lower part a mere waste-way to[Pg 137] pass off its superfluous waters. But the inconstant Mississippi, a short time ago, cut out for itself a new, strait channel across the bend, and left Red River to itself. This cut-off, however, proved of incalculable advantage to that section of country. It let off the Mississippi waters so freely, that a large tract of most excellent land does not now overflow; and this is sought for with avidity, and settling fast.

Alexandria is pleasantly situated on a level plain, the south side of Red River, one hundred and four miles from its mouth, and three hundred and twenty-nine from New-Orleans. It is regularly laid out in squares; has a court house, three hotels, eight or ten stores, two or three groceries, and a number of good dwelling houses. Its chief export is cotton, and that of the first quality. Red River cotton commands the highest price in market. I saw a large number of bales piled on the river bank, and wagon loads coming in.

Gentlemen and ladies, in pleasure carriages and on horseback, were riding through the streets; and the hotels were full of guests. It appears to be a place of business and of pleasure; of much wealth, and in a rich neighborhood. This place and Natchitoches, seventy-five miles above it, are the only towns of any size in this section of the country.

At the upper end of the town, there is a regular laid out race-course, of a circular form, and a mile in extent. Here, the speed of horses is frequently put to the test, and extensive bets made on the re[Pg 138]sult. This seems to be the favorite sport of this country—of more absorbing interest than any other; and about which the people talk more than on any other one subject. Good race-horses are of great value, and almost any price will be given for them. Although the race-course may have its great attractions—it may exhilarate the feelings, to see that noble animal, the horse, with mettle high, and lofty bearing, spurn the dust beneath his feet, and skim along the plain with the swiftness of the wind; and although it may have a tendency to improve the breed of horses; yet upon the whole, may it not be said, that it is purchasing improvement and pleasure, at a great expense of time and money; and, independent of its moral effect upon society, productive of more evil than good.

Gambling is too much the order of the day. A large billiard room faces the main street in this village, and seems never to lack for customers. In this room one man killed another by striking him on the head with the cue, and his trial was just finished as I arrived. He was convicted of manslaughter, and sentenced to ten years confinement in the State Prison. The result of the trial gave general dissatisfaction among the people. They thought he ought to have been convicted of murder and suffered its penalty.

Not much attention is paid to the cultivation of vegetables or fruit. The peach and fig-tree were the only fruit trees I saw, and but few of them.—[Pg 139]The fig-tree much resembles our northern quince tree, but grows some larger in size. The only vegetables we had at table, were turnips and sweet potatoes. The northern potatoe will not produce a crop unless new seed is obtained every year.

All the beds in this region are surrounded with thin curtains, or as they are termed here, moscheto-bars, to protect the inmate from that pestiferous, anti-sleeping insect, the moscheto. Of all insects this world produces, the moscheto is the most troublesome and annoying. To lie down without a bar, as I sometimes did, and fight the moschetoes all night long is dreadful. Too tired and sleepy to keep awake, I would fall into a drowse, only to be aroused in a moment by half a dozen dabbing into my face, and singing in my ears. They are indeed, too familiar by half; and the only chance to cut their acquaintance is to flee. I would not spend my days in the region of moschetoes for the sake of wealth, for I should only possess splendid misery.


CHAPTER XVI.

About a mile above this place, we left Red River, and travelled the road on the bank of Bayou Rapide for twenty-five miles, to the mansion house of a Mr.[Pg 140] Henderson, where we stayed over night. In this day's ride, we passed over as rich land as I ever saw, covered with extensive cotton plantations. It is all river-bottom land of a red clayey soil; and all along the road, as we passed, we saw clouds of negroes with bags and baskets at their sides, picking cotton. The land produces an abundant and a profitable crop, and the planters appear to have grown rich. But it seems not exactly to be a paradise, if there be indeed, any such a place on earth. It is excessively annoyed by moschetoes, and is very unhealthy. During the warm, sickly summer months, the planters with their families flee to the pine woods, where the air is fine and salubrious; and leave their overseers and negroes to battle with disease and moschetoes, the best way they can. They are very companionable, hospitable and kind, and their style of living is much the same as that of the southern planters generally.

About half way up, we crossed the stream over a bridge to the right hand side; and just before we arrived at Mr. Henderson's, we crossed it again. Soon after we crossed it the first time, I happened to cast my eyes towards the stream, and found it running the other way! We had certainly been travelling all along up the stream; and now, without any apparent cause, either in the "lay of the land," or direction of the channel, it was just as certain its current was with us. I enquired of our host the meaning of all this. He pleasantly observ[Pg 141]ed, that the streams in this part of the country, were very accommodating; they could go almost any way. He, however, explained the phenomenon. He said, the channel of the stream, by the side of which we had travelled, was, undoubtedly, once the bed of Red River. Ten miles above him, the river had taken a straight course to Alexandria, and left its former circuitous route. The water, which we now saw running, is supplied by a stream from the lake, enters the old channel on the opposite side from where we were travelling, then divides itself, one half running down and entering the river near Alexandria, and the other running up the old bed, and entering the river ten miles above. When the river is high, a portion of it flows round in its old bed, and drives the upper current along with it. So that by this house the stream runs about half of the year one way, and the other half in the opposite direction! A rather difficult stream I should think, to build a mill upon. This is indeed quite a curiosity; but to the explanation one objection may be urged. If this be in fact the old bed of Red River, and from examination I am satisfied it is, one might naturally suppose it would be all along descending one way; and, therefore, the stream which enters it would not divide itself, but the whole of it run in the same direction that the river formerly did. The answer to this is, the stream coming in, carried sand with it, and for a considerable distance somewhat filled up the old channel, so as to make a descent[Pg 142] each way; but not so much as to prevent Red River when high, from sweeping round, in its former course.

A curiosity, in some respects similar to this, is found in Arkansas territory. White river and Arkansas river enter the Mississippi ten miles apart; and about twenty miles above, there is a direct water communication between them; which is a large navigable stream; the water of which runs, sometimes one way and sometimes the other, according to the comparative height of each river; so that a person living on its bank, could make no sort of calculation which way the stream might run, from day to day.

Mr. Henderson has a large house pleasantly situated on a sandy hill near the pine woods, and commands an extensive view in front of the river flatland, and cotton plantations. We here fared well; and as Mr. Henderson has ample accommodations, his house may be safely recommended as a stopping place for the traveller. Our route now lay through the pine woods. Our object was to strike the road from Natchitoches to Mexico, at the nearest point practicable; and this spot, we were told, was at the garrison, fort Jessup. This fort is situated half way between Natchitoches and the Sabine river, the line between the United States and Texas; being twenty-five miles from each. Natchitoches being twenty-five miles north of our route, we concluded not to pass through it; but when Red River is high, trav[Pg 143]ellers to Texas often take a passage on board a steamboat from Natchez to that place, and from thence, take the Mexican road.

From Mr. Henderson's an intelligent gentleman, well acquainted with the country, travelled with us three or four days on our route; and from whom we obtained much information. This day, we travelled forty miles through an unbroken forest of pitch pine. The land is sandy, gently undulating, but seldom rocky. The trees were of good size, but not so thick together as to prevent the grass from growing beneath them; or the traveller from seeing a great distance as he passes along. About half way, we found a small log house, in which a white man lived with a black wife. With some people, I suppose this would be commendable; but I confess it gave me unpleasant feelings to see half a dozen of half-bloods running about the house. He professed to keep a sort of tavern, but all the refreshment we obtained was bread and meat.

At night, we came to the house of a planter, near a small river. He had a hundred acres cleared of river bottom land, which had been planted with cotton and corn; a large stock of cattle and hogs, which ranged in the woods. He had lived here twelve years, was worth twenty thousand dollars; yet still lived in a log house with only two rooms, and without a window in it. Our supper was fried beef, fried greens, sweet potatoes, corn bread and a cup of coffee, without milk or sugar; which we ate[Pg 144] by the light of the fire, as he had neither a candle or a lamp. Our fellow traveller told us that we had now got out of the region of what we should call comfortable fare; and we might expect to find it worse, rather than better, all the way through Texas. Our lodging was on a comfortable bed made of Spanish moss; and our breakfast exactly like our supper, which we ate with the doors open to give us light. Our bill was a dollar each, for supper, breakfast, lodging and horsekeeping; and this, I found to be the general price, in all country places throughout Texas.

After passing the river and about a mile of bottom land, we came to the pine woods again. I could always tell when we approached a stream, by the trees being covered with Spanish moss. The first I saw, was on the Mississippi, about a hundred miles above Natchez; and in all the region south of that, it is found hanging to the limbs of the trees near streams of water. It is of a silver-grey color, hanging straight down from the limbs three or four feet, like a horse's mane. It looks, perhaps, more like dressed flax than any thing else; and some of the trees were so completely covered with it that we could scarcely discover any thing but the moss. It does not strongly attach itself to the limb I used to pull off handfulls of it, as we passed along, to examine. It is but the work of a few minutes to gather enough for a bed. The only preparation necessary is to scald it in hot water, or to let it re[Pg 145]main awhile in cold water, to rot like hemp. It then looks like fine long hair, and a dark brown color. When dry, it is whipped, and put into the tick. It makes a very good, cheap bed, and lasts a long time. Of this material most of the beds in this country are made, and sometimes a mattress of the kind is found at the north.

All the river bottom lands at the south, are covered with a dense, heavy growth of trees, among which are many kinds not found at the north. The cotton-wood grows very large, somewhat resembling the whitewood of the western States. The magnolia, celebrated for its large, splendid blossom, is an evergreen, having a dark, green leaf an inch and a half wide, and two and a half long, and of the size of the maple—the peccan, a tree resembling the walnut, and bearing a round nut an inch long, equal to the hickory-nut—the hackberry, about the size and much resembling the beach—the holly, a small evergreen, having a small thick leaf—the chinquopin, a mere shrub, resembling the chestnut tree, and bearing a similar but smaller nut. We frequently found the grape vine of large size running high up the trees; and occasionally, a spot of cane-brake.

This day's travel was through the pine woods, except at some few places where we found a small clearing and a log house, near some small stream. We did not go by fort Jessup. Our companion knew of a nearer route, and we took it. About the middle of the afternoon, we came out on the Mex[Pg 146]ican road, three miles south of the garrison. It appeared to be a road a good deal travelled by wagons, as well as on horseback; some places running through swamps and muddy; occasionally, a bridge over the most miry streams; but generally in a state of Nature. The land became some better, and we passed more settlements.

At night we stopped at a log house kept by a widow. She had, living with her, two sons and one daughter. The house had no windows, and but one room in it. Near it, was a small kitchen where a negro woman did the cooking. Our fare was very similar to that of the night before, except the old lady had a candle on the table at supper. There were four beds in the room where we all slept—the old lady and her daughter in one bed—her two sons in another—and we three travellers in the other two. I hope the delicate nerves of my fair readers may not greatly be disturbed at this; if they are, they must close the book, and read no further; for If I must tell "the whole truth," I shall be obliged to state, that during the thirty following nights, I often slept in the same room with one or more ladies!

The old lady had about twenty acres cleared and cultivated with corn; but the land is not the first rate. The fact is, all along Missouri, Arkansas and Louisiana, after you get sixty or seventy miles west of the Mississippi river, you come to light, sandy, hilly land; generally covered with pitch pine; ex[Pg 147]cepting a narrow strip on the margin of the streams; so that half of Missouri, three-fourths of Arkansas, and half of Louisiana, are poor land, hardly fit for cultivation. This is not what I had supposed; but from my own observations, and the information of travellers, I believe this to be the fact.

We took an early start, and travelled on. The northern people have been accused of being very inquisitive; but I am sure I would turn out the people here against them on a wager. As a general rule, we were inquired of, "where from"—"where going," &c. &c. To-day, a man, twenty rods distant from the road, came running up, and asked us, where we were from. I thought this was carrying inquisitiveness too far; and so I took the yankee privilege of answering his question by asking another, viz:—If it was out of mere curiosity, or for the sake of obtaining information beneficial to himself, that induced him to enquire. He said he was from Kentucky himself, and did not know but we might be from there also; and in that case, he wished to inquire the news. I told him we were none of us from Kentucky. But this did not satisfy him; he insisted upon knowing where we were from; and appeared quite vexed that he could not obtain the information from any of us.

We passed a number of covered waggons, generally with four horses, loaded with goods and families bound to Texas. They invariably lodge out doors over night. They carry their own provis[Pg 148]ions with them, and select some spot where there is plenty of wood and water, build up a fire, cook their meals, turn their horses or oxen loose to feed on the prairie, or in the woods, and camp down on the grass by the side of the fire. I saw some who had been thirty and forty and sixty days on the road; from Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, &c. and said they had not put up at a house for a single night. Some of them looked quite "wearied and worn;" and if they do indeed find rest at last, it must be confessed, that "through great tribulation," they enter the promised land.

About noon to-day, we came to the Sabine river, the dividing line between the United States and Texas. We had now travelled from Natchez two hundred and twenty-five miles on horseback; and this, the seventh day since we started. I had now become used to the saddle; and saving the muddy roads and miry streams which we sometimes found, I enjoyed the trip very well. I was surprised to find the Sabine so small a river. I should think it was not more than one third as large as Red River. It is a deep muddy stream, and gentle current. We were paddled across the river by a woman, who was a "right smart" one, and landed at last on the shore of

TEXAS.


[Pg 149]

CHAPTER XVII.

I had read and heard so many fine descriptions of Texas—its pleasant streams, beautiful prairies, mild climate, and extensive herds of buffalo, wild horses and cattle, that it was with no small degree of enthusiasm, I set foot, for the first time, on its territory. I cast my eyes back for a moment on the United States; then turned to the "fairy land," with high hopes and bright anticipations.

The Sabine has two or three miles of good bottom land on each side, heavily timbered; but it is too much subject to inundation to be cultivated.—After we passed the river bottom, we came to gentle swells, of red clayey soil, covered with oak, hickory, &c. called oak openings. Sometimes we passed a small prairie; and occasionally, a log house and a small field. Thus we passed ten miles; and here, our fellow traveller, having arrived to the end of his journey, left us. He had travelled a hundred miles with us; was an intelligent man, well acquainted with the country, and we became too much interested in him, not to feel serious regret at parting. This is one of the disagreeable things in travelling; we form acquaintances only to leave them.

[Pg 150]

We now found cotton fields, as well as corn; more extensive plantations, and better houses. We passed two race-courses by the road side, and stopped for the night, at a very decent looking double log house, having a wide portico in front, and a wide avenue through the centre. Here, we found good accommodations. The house contained three or four rooms, and had about the same number of glass windows in it. We had for supper, venison, sweet potatoes, corn bread, coffee, butter and milk. Back of the house, I observed a small orchard of apple trees, the only one I found in all Texas. The trees looked thrifty, and had just begun to bear fruit. In front, near the road, was as fine a spring of good, clear, soft water, as I ever saw; but it was hardly cold enough for a northern man. Here were extensive fields of cotton and corn. This planter had a cotton gin and press. The cotton was sent by land to Natchitoches; to be transported from thence to New-Orleans by water.

Six miles from this, we came to an entirely new village, called St. Augustine, near a stream called the Ayish Bayou. About two years ago, it was laid out; and now it contains two large taverns, three stores, a court house, and ten or a dozen dwelling houses. There is a good school kept here, to which scholars are sent from some distance. It would be tedious, however, to relate the particulars of this, and the two succeeding days—it would only be the[Pg 151] same story over again. Our fare was rather poor—the meals, better than the lodging.

One night, we slept in a new framed house, one side all open to the weather; and the other, we slept in a log house, the interstices between the logs not filled up, so that you might thrust your arm out almost any where. This night we had a smart shower, accompanied by a strong wind, and the rain beat in so liberally, I was obliged to haul my bed eight or ten feet to leeward. We passed quite a number of log houses, small plantations, through oak openings and pine plains, and, at length, came to the ancient town of Nacogdoches.

I could not but smile at the odd and grotesque appearance of Nacogdoches, as I entered the principal street of the town. In by-gone days, the Spaniards built a town of log houses; generally having the logs standing perpendicular at the sides and ends, and the space between them filled with mud; with chimneys made of the same materials. These look old and woe-begone. In modern times, the Americans have erected a number of elegant, framed houses, well finished and painted white; and these are scattered along among these ancient hovels. The contrast is very striking, and somewhat ludicrous. Before me, stood an ancient Roman Catholic church, built in true Spanish style, with perpendicular logs and mud; now falling to decay, and presenting to the eye a hideous mass of ruins.

[Pg 152]

The town stands on a beautiful plain; having a small stream of water on each side; is very healthy; and when American industry shall have removed these dark spots from its surface, will be a most desirable place in which to reside. It has two public houses; and the one we put up at, had very respectable accommodations. There are a number of stores, which carry on a brisk trade with the country people and Indians. The chief article the Indians have to sell is deer pelts; and in the course of the year, they bring in a large number. These are done up in bales, and sent by land to the United States.—These skins are bought of the Indians by weight, and, I was told, the average amount was about fifty cents apiece. I observed a number of Indians in town on horseback; and this is the general mode of travelling for all the western and southern Indians.

Nacogdoches is the head quarters of the "Galveston Bay and Texas Land Company." The lands of this Company embrace three grants; that of Xavala, Burnet and Vehlein, and are bounded on the northeast by the Sabine River; on the northwest by a small river called the St. Jacinta; on the south by the gulf of Mexico—about one hundred and seventy miles in width, and running northwest nearly three hundred; equal to fifty-one thousand square miles. I shall now continue my journal, and give hereafter a description of this Company's lands in my general view of Texas.

[Pg 153]

While at this place, I frequently saw Maj. Nixon, the agent of the Company for giving titles to the grants. He is quite an agreeable and intelligent man, and very readily gave me all the information respecting the country that I requested. No more than a league of land is granted to foreigners; but to the Spaniards, a number of leagues are frequently given. The Spaniards, however, place but little value upon land. They sometimes have large flocks of cattle and horses; but are too indolent to cultivate the soil. Quite a number of them reside at Nacogdoches; some very respectable families; but a good many are poor and indolent. They are of a darker complexion than the Americans, and are readily designated at first sight.

An instance of the little value placed upon land was stated to me while here. An American had a fine looking dog that a Spaniard took a fancy to; he asked the price and was told a hundred dollars. The Spaniard replied, he had no money, but would give him a scrip for four leagues of land! The bargain was immediately closed; and the land could now be sold for $10,000. Truly, the old adage, "dog cheap," ought to be reversed.

Immediately after leaving the town, we came into pine woods again; to all appearance, the same we had already passed over—rolling, sandy soil; the trees straight and tall, but standing so far apart, that a carriage might go almost anywhere among them. The grass grew beneath them, and we could see a[Pg 154] great distance as we passed along. And thus it continued, for about twenty miles, with hardly a house on the way. I thought, we never should have done with pine woods. We had travelled about three hundred miles from Natchez; and two-thirds of the way had been pine woods; and here, they made their appearance again. To ride a short distance in them, is not unpleasant; but to continue on, day after day, is too monotonous—there is no change of scenery.

In twenty miles, we came to an elegant house, painted white, a large portico in front; a neat paling round the yard, and large fields beside the road. A saw and grist mill were building on a small stream, about a mile from the house. We passed a small river over a bridge, having split rails for a covering, instead of plank, and through pine woods, oak woods and small prairies, and put up at a house near the bank of the river Neches, forty miles from Nacogdoches.

By the side of the road near his house, I saw a race-course, and the gentleman told me there were frequent races on it. He had himself won twelve hundred dollars on a bet, a short time before. His house was made of hewn logs and clapboarded, having three rooms in it, but as usual in this country, no windows. We had our common fare, beef, corn bread and coffee.

On a large prairie in front of his house, I saw two Indian mounds, and as I had a little leisure be[Pg 155]fore breakfast, I went out to examine them. I had seen many of the Indian mounds in the western States and Louisiana; and these were similar to them. The largest one was about twenty feet high and ten in diameter. I was puzzled to find where the dirt was taken from to make them, as the ground was a perfect level a long distance around; but my host showed me the spot about half a mile distant, and from the size of the excavation, I thought he was right. No reason can be given, however, why the dirt was carried to such a distance.

Throughout the western and southern country, are found mounds of earth of different sizes, shapes and heights—some, of a conical form; others, of an oblong shape; and occasionally, much resembling fortifications. They are first seen along the southern shore of Lake Erie; they increase in number and size in Ohio, Indiana and Illinois; are scattered over the Mississippi Valley; and are often found on the plains of Texas, and along the Gulf of Mexico. They are generally found on level prairies, or on rich and level woodland, and near lakes, ponds, or streams of navigable water. A very interesting essay might be written upon these Indian Mounds; but I shall notice only some of the most remarkable.

The largest mound in the state of Ohio, is on the level bottom land of Grave Creek, near its entrance into the Ohio river, and fourteen miles below Wheeling. It is 350 feet in diameter at the base, sixty[Pg 156] feet across at the top, and seventy-five feet in height. The area at the top is slightly concave, and from its centre, arises a stately oak, in a straight shaft, like a flag-staff. One of these mounds has been entirely demolished, and upon its site, is built the town of Chillicothe. The town of Circleville is principally laid out within the limits of two contiguous mounds—the one of a circular form; the other, of an oblong square. The circular mound is much the largest, and from which, the name of the town is derived.

In the state of Missouri, a little north of St. Louis, are gigantic and interesting mounds. These enormous stacks of earth lift their tall heads high in the air, and show to advantage on approaching St. Louis from the upper country.

But the most numerous group of Indian mounds, is found in the state of Illinois. They are situated on the American Bottom, and are said to exceed two hundred in number. The largest and most remarkable of these, stands near the bank of Cahokia creek. It is in the shape of an oblong square, is eight hundred yards in circumference, and ninety feet in height. On its south side, is an extensive and beautiful terrace, which was formerly cultivated by the monks of La Trappe as a garden. These monks had a monastery near the base of this mound; and probably the earth could not afford a spot more in keeping with the doctrines they professed. Near them, a stately monument of by-gone ages, reared[Pg 157] its tall head far above their rude dwelling—around them, a solitary prairie, bounded in the distance, either by stately trees of the forest, or perpendicular cliffs of solid limestone. No human habitations were within the bounds of vision; and it was indeed a spot, sufficiently lonely and retired for those who chose to abstract themselves from the busy scenes of active life, enjoy undisturbed the solitude of the wilderness, and hold communion only with the God of Nature.

It has often been asked, who built these mounds, and for what purpose were they erected? These are questions of difficult solution, and, perhaps, at this late stage of the world, of useless discussion. Some have supposed them to be places of interment; others believe them to be sentry stations, upon which guards were placed to watch the movements of the enemy. Although decayed bones have been found in some of them, yet it is not probable that they were all erected simply as monuments for the dead. Who built them? Their origin and use may never be certainly known; but I am fully persuaded, the ancestors of the present race of Indians did not erect them. The Indians, now upon the stage, know nothing about them—make no use of them—and build none like them. Now, if their ancestors built these stately mounds all over the country, it is utterly impossible to believe that all tradition would have been lost of such prominent monuments, that passed in review before the eyes[Pg 158] of their nation, from day to day, and year to year. In addition to this, many of these mounds are of gigantic dimensions, and show much more labor in their erection, than the present race of Indians have ever been known to perform. The earth, of which they are composed, is generally brought from a distance, and some of them must have taken a thousand men a number of months to complete them.

We found the Neches to be quite a river; clayey banks and muddy water. We saw a boat on the other side; and a house half a mile distant, through the woods. We could not tell whether it was fordable or not; but after calling a few times for the ferryman, my companion concluded to plunge in. I thought in that case, discretion was the better part of valor; so I waited to see what became of him, before starting myself. He had a good horse, and although the stream was deep, and quite a current, he came safely out on the other bank; sustaining no other damage than being decently wet. He was good enough, however, to loose the boat, come over and take me across; remarking that there was no great pleasure in fording streams like that. We now passed through ten miles of pine woods; then prairies of a mile or so in extent, and post-oak openings.

This was the thirtieth day of November. The day was warm and mild, although somewhat cloudy. As we were passing through the woods, it became quite dark. On casting my eyes on the sun, I[Pg 159] found it was under an eclipse. It was here almost total. I thought it hardly lacked a digit of being entirely covered.

We stopped at night at a small log house on the side of an extensive prairie. We found only a young woman at home. She said, she was from the east part of Texas, had been married only a week, and moved there a few days previous. Her husband soon returned. He had been to spend the day, it appeared, at a neighbor's, seven miles distant, and left the new made bride at home alone. All we obtained here to eat, was meat and corn bread, and water to drink; and that not very good. He had sixty or seventy head of cattle, twenty cows; but no milk, butter, or cheese. He had quite a large field under cultivation, in which he raised corn only. He had a hired man to help him take care of the flocks and the field, and to accompany him in his hunting excursions. A number of skins were stretched out on the sides of his buildings, as the trophies of his prowess and success; among which, I noticed the skin of a large panther. In the morning, his wife went a quarter of a mile for water, picked up wood and built a fire; and the two men looked on and did nothing. What young lady would not marry, if she could pass such a honey-moon as this!


[Pg 160]

CHAPTER XVIII.

The next day, we passed three houses, a number of prairies and post-oak openings; but found no more pine woods. Immediately on this side of the Trinity, we passed over a low, wet prairie, four miles in extent; where a horse would sink in to the fetlock joint; and then, half a mile of heavy timber. The Trinity is a large stream; but not quite as large as Red River—deep, navigable, and muddy water. We stopped at the house of an intelligent farmer on the other bank of the river. Here, our accommodations were very good. He had a house of hewn logs, three rooms, no windows, a portico in front and rear, and an avenue through the middle. The front yard was fenced in; and a kitchen and smoke house were in the back yard. He had a large field cultivated with corn, and perhaps, half a dozen negroes.

I here found a young man who deserved commiseration. He was from Missouri. With his young wife and two small children, the youngest not quite a year old, he started in a wagon for Texas. He had been two months on the road; encamped out in the woods every night, although they had some wet and chilly weather. The fa[Pg 161]tigues of such a long journey, and the many attentions such small children required at the hands of the wife while on the route, were more than her constitution could endure. She became worn down almost to a skeleton; and grew daily more enfeebled; but as they were approaching the end of the journey, she kept up a good heart, and exerted herself to the utmost. But "tired nature" could do no more. She sickened and died—and left her husband in a distant land, with two infant children. Those who have endured the agony of a parting scene like this, although surrounded by relatives and friends, may form some estimate of the measure of pity due to him!

There are many hardships, perplexities and sufferings, necessarily attendant upon a removal to a new and distant country; and any accident or misfortune is more severely felt, because a person has no chance of remedying the evil. I do think, a single family ought not to go to a new country alone; but a number in company; and then they can assist each other in all their hardships and trials.

At the mouth of Red River, a gentleman, moving on to Texas with his family, lost his pocket-book, containing about four hundred dollars. He carried it in the breast pocket of his coat; and in unlading some of his goods from the steamboat, he stepped forward to assist, pulled off his coat, threw it across the railing, and the pocket-book dropped out into the water and sunk. It would have swam[Pg 162] on the water, had it not contained three or four dollars in specie. Search was made for it; but the stream was so deep and muddy, they were foiled in all their attempts to find it. This was, at such a time and in his situation, a severe misfortune. On the road, two thousand miles from the place he started from, and five hundred more to travel; his family with him, and all his money gone. A family of his acquaintance happened to be in company with him, and through their assistance, he was enabled to proceed.

Another case was stated to me, more aggravating than this, because it was not the effect of accident but of knavery. A gentleman, moving from Michigan to Texas, brought down in the boat a valuable horse worth three hundred dollars. On board, he became acquainted with a young man, who wished employment, and he hired him. When they arrived at the mouth of Red River, he concluded to send his horse by the young man across the country by land, and he and his family would go round by water. He, accordingly, equipped the horse with a new, elegant saddle, bridle, martingale and saddle bags; and supplied the young man with a good greatcoat, and twenty dollars in money, and started him off. And that was the last time he saw man, horse or equippage! He incidentally heard, that a man answering his description, gambled away a horse and equippage at Alexandria.

[Pg 163]

For ten miles after leaving Trinity river, we passed over some most beautiful rolling prairies. Although it was December, yet the air was mild and serene, and the grass as green as in June. These prairies much resemble those of Illinois; and on some of them, we saw large herds of cattle feeding. We passed some miry swamps and deep muddy streams. The most disagreeable part of the whole trip, was the fording of streams. The banks were generally steep down into the water; and so slippery, we had sometimes to dismount, hold on to a tree, and let the horse slide down; then pull the horse beside us, mount him in the water, and ride across. I would sometimes take my saddle bags off, send my horse over by himself, and find a tree or a log on which to pass myself. The water was very muddy, so that we could not see the bottom, or form hardly any idea how deep it might be, until we forded. One stream was a very bad one. There were logs in the bottom, embedded in the mud about the middle of the river; and when our horses passed them, they struck into a channel where the water was about two feet deeper; their heads were suddenly plunged under water, and we came very near being thrown into the stream. Among the trees in the swamps, I noticed the red cedar, to-day, for the first time. It grows to quite a large tree, and is very good timber for building, boards, posts, &c.

[Pg 164]

To-day, we found by the side of the path a number of petrified limbs of trees; and in one place, there was a log about a foot in diameter, turned into stone. We broke off some pieces which plainly showed the grains of wood; and on one side the bark remained and was petrified also. It might probably be manufactured into good hones, although it was coarser grained, and of a lighter shade, than those usually found at our stores.

We passed only two houses this day, and put up for the night at a miserable log house occupied by a widow woman. She had a large stock of fine looking cattle, but no milk. Our fare was not of the best kind, although the old lady tried to accommodate us as well as she could.

There are few mills of any kind in the whole country. The corn is ground in a steel mill, like a coffee mill, although much larger, and having a crank on each side. This is commonly nailed to a tree before the door. The corn is often left standing in the field, and gathered only as fast as they wish to use it. It used to amuse me, when we rode up to a house at night, and called for a meal, to hear the woman sing out to a boy, "Run to the field and bring two or three ears of corn—I want to make some bread for the gentlemen's supper." So we had to wait until the corn was gathered, ground, kneaded and baked, before we could have bread to eat. I suppose this is the true method of "living from hand to mouth."

[Pg 165]

We took an early start next morning, and after passing swamps, streams and woods, came out into a fine prairie country. Our path led over the top of one, somewhat elevated above the general level of the country, and from which we could see many miles all around. It was a prospect too grand and imposing to be adequately described.

As we passed along by the side of an extensive prairie, we saw two Indians horseback, on an elevated spot, about half a mile distant, with guns in their hands, and looking at the country beyond them. On seeing us, they wheeled their horses and came at full speed down upon us. We were a little startled at first; but they halted within a few rods of us, stared a moment, and then civilly passed the time of day, and enquired in broken English, the distance to a house on the road we had come. I never was an enthusiastic admirer of the Indian character. They may have done some noble deeds of daring, and performed some generous acts of disinterested friendship; but they possess and practice the art of deception so well, that no one can know, with any degree of certainty, when these acts may occur. When I see Indians approaching, I hardly know whether it is for good or for evil; and therefore, never feel entirely at ease in their society.

The Romans, in the days of their prosperity, prided themselves in being called a Roman citizen; and this was generally, a sufficient protection from depredation and insult, when travelling among the[Pg 166] more barbarous nations around them. Like the Romans, I felt not a little pleasure in the thought, that I was an American citizen, and that this was a protection from outrage and insult in the presence of the savage Indian. Since my return, I have seen an account of twenty Polanders, while on their way from New-Orleans to Mexico, who were attacked by the Indians in Texas, and all killed except one, who was fortunate enough to escape and tell the story. Had not the Indians readily discovered by our personal appearance, that we were American citizens, we might have shared the same fate.

We passed a muddy swamp, in many places the water standing in the road a foot or two in depth; densely covered with timber, and four miles in extent. As we emerged from this, we came upon the bank of the Brazos river, at Hall's ferry. This is a stream of the size and complexion of Red River. In crossing in a boat, we found a strong current. On the other side there is a high bank on which a town has been laid out; but now contains only three dwelling houses and one store. Here we stayed over night. Late in the afternoon, a Spanish trader arrived and put up for the night. He had two men, five mules and one horse and wagon with him. His goods were bought at Natchitoches, and he was transporting them to St. Antonio in the interior of Texas. They were made up into convenient bundles, hung across the mules' backs and stowed in the wagon. They were all armed with[Pg 167] guns; and the trader himself had a pistol at each side. He could not well talk English and we conversed but little with him. He had a strong dislike to the Indians, and was afraid of being robbed by them. Of this ill-will, the Indians have their full share. In hunting parties composed of both Americans and Spaniards, when attacked by the Indians in their excursions along the Rocky Mountains, they have been known to spare the Americans, when they have killed all the Spaniards.

The next day's ride was through a most beautiful open prairie country. We crossed some small streams, skirted with timber and small groves on the highland; but generally, we found high, rolling prairie. The live-oak made its appearance to-day. This is an evergreen and a beautiful tree. We saw them growing in an open prairie, sometimes, one standing by itself, about the size, and at a distance, of the appearance of the northern apple tree.

On a fine high prairie, we observed quite a number of elegant houses, a store, a tavern, &c. and some fine farms. This is called Cole's Settlement; and from the beautiful scenery around, and the respectable appearance of the inhabitants, I inferred that it is a desirable neighborhood.

We stopped for the night at a house half way between the Brazos and Colorado rivers; being thirty-five miles from each. A few years ago, a town was lotted out in this place, but still it shows only one decent farm house. Here is a gristmill turned by[Pg 168] horses, and does a good deal of business; and profitable too, for the rule is to take one sixth part for toll. In the neighborhood, I saw a very good looking house, built of limestone.

From this place to the Colorado river, we passed only two houses; a distance of thirty-five miles; and the complexion of the country was similar in all respects to that of the day before. At a very decent farm house on an extensive prairie, by the side of the river, we put up for the night; and remained here and in the neighborhood, a number of the succeeding days.

And now from this central position, I propose to take a more general view of the country. I stayed more than a month in Texas, traversed the country in various directions, conversed with the inhabitants, and gained what information I could within that time. I feel therefore, somewhat qualified to speak of the country. And this I shall do fearlessly; yet I hope, in sincerity and in truth. I am aware that many articles have been written concerning this country, of various import and meaning; but I shall speak for myself only, without reference to others. I do not propose to write its geography or history. Had I the means and ability accurately to do this, the limits of this work would not allow of it. I only propose to give the information I obtained from inspection, examination and enquiry, in a concise form and tangible shape.


[Pg 169]

CHAPTER XIX.

GENERAL VIEW OF TEXAS.

From whatever point you approach Texas, its aspect is unfavorable. If it be by sea, you are met by a low, sandy beach and a marshy, flat country, as far as the eye can reach. If by land, through Louisiana and Red River, its first appearance is that of a poor country of hilly land, chiefly covered with wood, and presenting to the eye a weak soil, alternately of sand and of clay. But when you pass the border towards the interior, the scene becomes entirely changed. You behold a beautiful country of rich soil, rounded by the hand of nature into the most fanciful forms, covered with eternal verdure, and begirt with forests of stately trees. Earth may not afford a more beautiful prospect than is obtained from the summit of an elevated prairie. On such a spot I have stood, and gazed with admiration. The scene extends all around as far as the eye can reach, and presents the varied aspect of wood land and lawn, like sunshine and shade. Its appearance is so much that of a country nicely cultivated by the hand of man, that one can hardly believe himself to be in an uninhabited region; but he looks in vain,[Pg 170] to catch a glimpse of the husbandman's cottage, and his herds of cattle feeding on the green fields. The din of human industry and civilized life strikes not his ear, and the unwelcome truth is forced upon him at last, that he is only in the solitude of the wilderness; and the scene before him, with all its beauties, is left "to waste its sweetness on the desert air!"

The scenes of Texas have so much of fascination about them, that one is disinclined to come down to the details of a common-place description of the country. But the whole truth must be told. The public have a right, and in fairness ought to know, the true state of the case. The emigrant cannot live on air, or by admiring the beauties of the country. It is of importance to him to know, what facilities the country offers, for obtaining the necessaries and conveniences of life; and what the prospect may be of enjoying them, when obtained.

illustration

In the first place, I shall strike off from the list of the resources of the country, "the immense herds of buffalo and wild horses." They are often paraded in the many published descriptions of Texas, as a most prominent feature in the bright picture exhibited; and as one of the many inducements to the emigrants to remove thither. But they are no sort of benefit to the settler at all. They generally keep ahead of population, some small herds only are ever seen near the settlements; and there is not inducement enough for the husbandman to leave[Pg 171]
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his farm, and go far into the interior, to catch the wild horse and kill the buffalo, among tribes of hostile Indians; as the prospect of gain would not equal the hardship, risk and expense. The wild horse is an animal hard to catch; and when caught, it is difficult and troublesome to tame him, and render him gentle and kind in harness and under the saddle. It would be as well for the farmer if the fact of their existence were not known; as it is easier to raise the animal in this country of evergreen pasture, than to catch and tame the wild one. There is one point of view, in which a knowledge of the existence of these animals may be of some importance to the emigrant; it is proof positive of the natural luxuriance of the soil, and of the mildness of the climate.

The wild horses are called by the Spaniards, mustangs. I saw some small herds of them prancing at random over the plains. They are quite wild, you can seldom approach very near them. They are of various colors and of rather smaller size than the American horse. The Spaniards are fond of good horses, and are good horsemen. Some of them make a business of catching and breaking the mustangs. This is done by building a fence in the shape of a harrow, with a strong pen at the small end, and driving them into it; or mounting a fleet horse, get as near as they can unperceived, then start after them at full speed, throw a rope with a slip-noose at one end, and the other fastened to the sad[Pg 174]dle, around the neck, haul out at right angles with their course, and choke them down. When caught, they put the bridle on, take them into a large, soft prairie, mount them at once, flog them with the greenhide, and let them plunge and rear until they become fatigued and subdued. After undergoing a few more operations of this kind, they are deemed "fit for use." They are sold at various prices, from six to twelve dollars; but unless they are caught when young, they never become gentle as other horses.

Texas appears like the State of Illinois. To the southward and westward of Trinity river, it is generally an open prairie country. All the streams have more or less bottom land, covered with a dense forest of timber; and occasionally, a grove of post oak openings will be found on the moist high land. The soil in these bottoms is very rich, but some of them are too wet, or too subject to be overflowed to admit of cultivation.

A strip of land, bordering on the bays and sea coast, and sixty or seventy miles in width, is flat, generally approaching to a dead level, in the spring and fall very wet, and sometimes impassable. Beyond this, comes the high, dry, rolling country, having no swamps except immediately on the borders of the rivers. "The Galveston Bay and Texas Land Company" have a good deal of good land, in pleasant and healthy situations; and much of it, not yet settled; but they have also a good deal of[Pg 175] poor land. In their grant, are large tracts of pine woods and post-oak plains; among which, are found some spots of good land, but generally, it is of a weak and sandy soil. The pine woods are not without their use. Their resinous qualities give a salubrity to the air about them, and thereby render a situation in their neighborhood healthy; and the trees themselves furnish an inexhaustible supply of the first rate of timber. On the Sabine and Galveston Bays, there are large prairies of good land, but low and flat; in the region of Nacogdoches, are small prairies, large tracts of wood, good soil of red clay, black marle, sandy land, and all the varieties of soil imaginable. Higher up in the country, there are alternately prairies and woodland, and an excellent soil. This Company's grant lies contiguous to the United States, and except on the bay, is as healthy as any part of the country; but it cannot be called the most pleasant and beautiful portion of Texas.

The prairies are all burnt over twice a year—in midsummer, and about the first of winter. Immediately after the burning, the grass springs up again; so that there is an abundant supply all the year round. No country in the world can be compared to this, in the ease and facility of raising stock. All the herdsman has to do, is to look after them, so they may not stray away, and some portion of the year, yard them to prevent their growing wild. The prairie grass is of a peculiar species, un[Pg 176]like any thing we have at the north; but it is of so nutricious a quality, that it keeps the cattle fat, all the year round. They grow large and handsome. I never saw better looking herds in my life. The horse does equally as well on grass, but if worked hard, requires some grain. Hogs keep in good flesh all the year; and in autumn, when the nuts fall from the trees, grow fat. Horses, cattle and hogs can, therefore, be kept in this country without any more trouble than merely looking after them to prevent their straying away.

And then, there is plenty of game. First in the list, is the deer. I hardly supposed there were as many deer on the continent, as I saw in Texas.—They were continually crossing my path, or were seen in flocks feeding on the prairies. I recollect that from an elevated spot, I counted five flocks of deer in sight at the same time! In some parts of the country, a man may about as certainly kill a deer if he choose, as a northern farmer can kill a sheep from his flock. Their meat is excellent, and their skins valuable.

Deer-hunting is not very systematically practiced here, as it is in some parts of the world. Indeed, they are so plenty, that it does not require much method, or concert of action among a number of individuals to kill them. The deer is a gregarious animal. You never find one alone, unless it be accidentally strayed away from the flock. Sometimes a number of hunters resort to a favorite haunt of[Pg 177]
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the deer, and while a part arouse them with the dogs in their retreat, and cause them to flee, others will remain in ambush, near their usual crossing places at the streams and swamps, and shoot them as they pass. In the night they are decoyed by fire and killed. A hunter fixes a blazing torch in his hat, or has another person to carry one just before him; the deer will stand gazing at the light while he approaches, and by the brilliancy of their eyes and space between them, calculates his distance and takes his deadly aim. He must take especial care, however, that the shadow of a tree or of any thing else does not fall upon the deer; for in that event, he starts and is off in a moment.

illustration

Then there are the bear, Mexican hog, wild geese, rabbits, and a great variety of ducks. The prairie hen is not so plenty here as in Illinois. An emigrant, may, therefore, easily supply himself with meat. All he has to do is "to kill and eat."

Let us now glance at the soil, and see what that will produce. This subject I attended to, somewhat critically. It will produce cotton, sugar cane, Indian corn, rye, barley, oats, rice, buckwheat, peas, beans, sweet potatoes and all common garden vegetables. The cabbage does not form a compact head as it does at the north. Wheat will not grow in this country. The stalk will run up rank, but the ear will not fill with plump kernels. Last December, while I was there, flour sold on the river Brazos, for ten dollars a barrel; and in the interior,[Pg 180] it sold for fourteen. Corn grows well, and is quite a sure crop when planted early—about the first of February. I saw a very good crop which had been planted in June.

I found one man, who, with the aid of a boy ten years old, raised and gathered fifteen hundred bushels of corn. Perhaps I am severely taxing the credulity of my readers; but if there be any reliance on human testimony, the fact is as I have stated. And when it is considered that the ground is only ploughed, a small portion, if any, hoed at all, and then it gets ripe early, and he can gather it at his leisure—the statement may not appear at all incredible. Tobacco will grow, but it has too thin a leaf to be valuable.

But it is emphatically a cotton country. It produces a larger quantity to the acre, and of a better quality than any portion of the United States—not excepting the bottom lands on Red River. This is my belief from an examination of the growing crop and gathered cotton. And I found this to be an admitted fact by the most experienced cotton growers.

The following is as perfect a list of the forest trees, shrubs, vines, &c., as I can make—to wit:—Red, black, white, willow, post and live oaks; pine, cedar, cotton-wood, mulberry, hickory, ash, elm, cypress, box-wood, elder, dog-wood, walnut, pecan, moscheto—a species of locust, holly, haws, hackberry, magnolia, chincopin, wild peach, suple jack,[Pg 181] cane-brake, palmetto, various kinds of grape vines, creeper, rushes, Spanish-moss, prairie grass, and a great variety of flowers. The live oak, magnolia, holly, pine and cedar are evergreens.

The Spanish-moss, so profusely hanging on all the trees near streams of water, gives them an antique and venerable appearance. It is of a silver grey color; and, if trees may be compared with men, they appear like the long grey bearded sages of the antedeluvian world. When the tree dies, the moss soon withers, and becomes dry. I used to amuse myself by setting fire to the dry moss in the night. It burnt like tinder, and would sometimes throw a grand column of flame a hundred and fifty feet into the air, and brilliantly illuminate the scene, a great distance around.

Of fruit trees, I saw only the peach, the fig and the orange trees; excepting one small cluster of apple trees. I think it is too warm throughout the year for the apple tree to produce much fruit; but the others will become abundant.

As to the health of the country, the fact seems to be, that in all the low country, and on the streams of water, the inhabitants are more or less afflicted with the fever and ague. It much resembles Illinois in this particular, as well as in many others. In other situations, I believe it is as healthy as any portion of the United States.

The climate is fine; the air, generally clear and salubrious. It is neither so hot in the summer, or[Pg 182] so cold in the winter, as it is in New-England. The country lies between the Gulf of Mexico and the snow-capped Cordillera mountains, so that it is fanned by a refreshing breeze, which ever way the wind may blow. Sometimes, in winter, the northwest wind sweeps over the plain, strong and keen; and the thin-clad southerner sensibly feels its effects upon his system; and I was informed, instances had been known of their being chilled to death, when obliged to encamp out in the open air without a fire. It is sometimes cold enough to make thin ice; but, generally, it is mild and pleasant all winter. The hottest days of summer, are not as warm and oppressive, as we find them at the North. Individuals originally from Maine and New-Hampshire, said they had found no night so warm, that it was disagreeable to sleep under a woollen blanket.


CHAPTER XX.

The rivers are navigable to some extent, whether great or small. The following are the names of the principal, to wit:—Sabine, Ayish Bayou, Atoyac, Angelina, Neches, Trinity, St. Jacinta, Buffalo Bayou, Navasota, Brazos, Bernard, Canebrake, Colora[Pg 183]do, Navedad, La Baca, Guadalupe, San Antonio, Aransaso, Neuces and Rio Grande or Rio del Norte. The streams are all muddy and unpleasant, until you reach the Colorado; this, and those to the south are, generally, clear and beautiful. About ten miles from the mouth of the Colorado, a raft two miles in extent, obstructs the navigation; when that is removed, boats may go some distance into the country. The Brazos is navigable at high water, to the falls, about two hundred and fifty miles from its mouth. A steamboat is now running upon it, as high up as St. Felipe, over a hundred miles.

The Sabine, Neches and Trinity are respectively three hundred and fifty, three hundred, and four hundred and ten miles in length, and are navigable some distance into the country for a considerable portion of the year. The San Bernard is navigable sixty miles. It has about four feet of water on the bar at its mouth. The Colorado rises in the high prairies near the mountains, pursues quite a direct course six hundred miles and falls into Metagorda Bay. Above the raft, which is situated ten or twelve miles above its mouth, it is navigable three hundred miles. It has as strong a current as that of the Mississippi.

But the Rio del Norte is much the largest and longest river in this region. It rises high up among the mountains, and is estimated to be seventeen hundred miles in length. For two thirds of its course it runs nearly south; it then changes to the[Pg 184] southeast, and empties into the Gulf of Mexico, near the southern boundary of Texas. It has been ascended by a steamboat two hundred miles to Loredo; and it is stated by those acquainted with the stream, that it is navigable five hundred miles further.

Texas has a seacoast of three hundred and fifty miles; and in a commercial point of view is favorably situated. Its many navigable streams afford great facilities for transporting the rich products of its luxuriant soil to the United States and the rest of the world. It will shortly be settled, its rich lands will become valuable, and it will soon be a great and powerful state.

Mill seats are not plenty. Although the streams run with a lively current, yet there are not many falls suitable for mills; especially in the lower part of the territory. On the sides of the streams, are occasionally found ledges of limestone; but none of any kind are seen scattered over the country.—The prairies are free from rocks, brambles, bushes, and every thing except grass. They look like a finely cultivated old field, well set in grass; sometimes flat, sometimes rolling, but invariably having a surface entirely smooth and unbroken. A carriage can run any where over them. Clay is found all over the country, of an excellent quality for brick. In some places, coal and iron ore are said to have been discovered.

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Such are the situation and resources of the country. Let us now look, for a moment, at the inhabitants, and see how they are improved. The Spaniards are not an agricultural people. They are more fond of raising stock, than cultivating the land. They are also a very social people, and fond of society. They are seldom found on farms alone, and at a distance from neighbors. They formed some small villages in Texas, and left the remainder of the country entirely unsettled. Some ten years ago, the system of grants commenced; allowing an individual, under certain regulations, to introduce and colonize foreigners. There are now thirteen of these Grants, including a large portion of Texas, to wit: Zavala, Burnet and Vehlein—now formed into the Galveston Bay company—Austin's, Milam's, Robertson's, Cameron's, Dewitt's, De Leon's, Felisola's, McMullen's and McGloin's, Powers' and Beal's. On all these Grants, more or less settlements have been made, and therefore, the population is scattered over an extent of country out of all proportion to their numbers. The large tract granted to each individual, tends to the same result. In riding through regions called settled, a person may not find a house in thirty or forty miles; but generally from ten to twenty. I believe there are from forty to fifty thousand inhabitants in Texas; and a large proportion of them are Americans. A person may travel all day; and day after day, and[Pg 186] find Americans only. He can hardly make himself believe that he is not still in the United States.

The exports of Texas are cotton, live-stock and peltries. The cotton and peltries are sent either by Natchitoches, or by shipping through the Gulf of Mexico, to New-Orleans. The live-stock—cattle, horses and mules, are driven by land across the country to Natchez or New-Orleans. The cost of driving is trifling. Plenty of grass is found all the way for the stock; and the drivers carry their provisions, shoot game, &c. and camp down near wood and water by the side of a fire, and cook their meals.

In this manner, a fellow traveller and myself camped out two or three nights. It was quite a novelty to me to sleep in the open air; but the people here think nothing of it. The wolves made rather too much noise, for me to sleep quietly. One night, they awaked me out of a sound sleep, by their discordant yells; I jumped up, dashed a club or two at them, and off they went over the prairies. Our provisions were what they sought, I presume, and not us.

The inhabitants are, many of them, what our northern people would call rather indolent. Occasionally, I found a good farm, large plantation and fine herds of cattle, and all the comforts of life within their dwellings; but more generally, the traveller only finds the log house, built in an open, rude manner, with only one room, where he and the family lodge together; and perhaps only corn-bread, meat[Pg 187] and sweet potatoes to eat. I called at some places where they had twenty or thirty cows, and could get neither butter, cheese, or milk. They let the calves run with the cows, and seldom milk them at all. I did not find butter at half of the places where I called; and obtained cheese only once in Texas. At only three places I found wheat bread.

Although the climate is suitable to the production of Indian corn, yet it is not cultivated to any extent. The reason is, stock is raised with less trouble, and cotton is thought to be a more profitable crop. There is hardly enough corn raised for the consumption of the inhabitants; it, therefore, bears a high price. At St. Felipe, it was a dollar a bushel; and at Velasco on the mouth of the Brazos river, I saw a bushel of shelled corn sold for two dollars!

Thus it is; man seems disinclined to "till the ground," and by "the sweat of his face," to obtain his bread. It often happens, where the earth produces in abundance with little labor, that little is indifferently performed, so that all the comforts and conveniences of life are less enjoyed, than in more sterile soils, and unpropitious climes. Man will "'mid flowing vineyards die of thirst." Where nature has done almost all, and scattered her favors without stint, man will not stretch forth his hand, and gather her rich bounties. It is not universally so. There are many exceptions to this in Texas. In many instances, the comforts of life are enjoyed[Pg 188] there to perfection. Man may not be censured, for not performing severe bodily labor, if he can well provide for himself and those dependent upon him, without it; but life could not have been given, to be spent in listless idleness. A vast field of usefulness is open to the active man; and he may do much good in his day and generation, other than toil for gain.

But another inducement is held out to the emigrant to settle in Texas, besides the beauty of the country and productiveness of the soil. It is the cheapness of the land. This is no small consideration. A man with a family obtains a Spanish league of land, amounting to four thousand four hundred and twenty-eight English acres, by paying the expense of surveying it, office fees, &c. These expenses amount to one hundred and eleven dollars, with the addition of thirty dollars to the government. So that a man with a family has four thousand four hundred and twenty-eight acres of land for the small sum of one hundred and forty-one dollars. He must make application to an officer, called an empressario, and obtain his consent; which is given in the form of a certificate, stating the name of the family and the quantity of land allowed. This certificate is presented to another officer, called a commissioner, who orders a survey; and when completed, makes a deed from the government to the emigrant. The only condition is, that the land shall be settled upon, within a limited time. The[Pg 189] emigrant may make his own selection out of any lands, not previously granted. A single man obtains one quarter of that quantity, with the privilege of having three quarters more, when he is married. And provision is made, that a foreigner, marrying a Mexican woman, may have a league and one third. These terms are, certainly, very liberal. A man here obtains good land, at a cheaper rate, than in any other part of the world.

But the government have lately adopted another method of disposing of their land. A regular land law has been enacted, and various offices have been established for the sale of all the vacant land in the province. A person desirous of purchasing public land, goes to the land office in the district where the land is situated, files a petition for a sale, and obtains an order for a survey. This land is laid off into what is called labors of one hundred and seventy-seven acres each, and an individual may purchase as many labors as he pleases, up to two hundred and seventy-five, which is about equal to fifty thousand English acres. The minimum price is fixed at ten dollars per labor, the purchaser paying the expense of surveying in addition. One third of the purchase money is payable at the time of sale; the remainder in two equal annual instalments; and the new settlers are exempt from the payment of taxes for the term of ten years.

But Texas has some evils, which will be deemed greater or less, according to the particular section of[Pg 190] the country the emigrant may happen to come from. But still, they ought in fairness to be stated, that all may judge for themselves. And in the first place there are three kinds of venomous snakes—the great rattlesnake, the moccason snake, and the prairie rattlesnake. The large rattlesnake is not very plenty, and is seldom seen far out in the open prairie. A gentleman who had lived in the country ten years told me he had killed only two in the time. The moccason snake, deemed as poisonous as the rattlesnake, seems to be more plenty; but they are not found except in or near wet, marshy land. A gentleman told me, he had a small marsh near his house which seemed to be a haunt for them, as occasionally he found some near it, and in his door yard. He set half a dozen of his servants to cut down the weeds, and dig a ditch to drain off the water; and in one day they killed forty-three moccason snakes; and he pleasantly added, it was not a very good snake day neither. Perhaps this will be set down as another "snake story;" but my authority is Mr. Elisha Roberts, living on the main road, five miles north of St. Augustine; a very respectable man as I was informed. The prairie rattlesnake is a small one, about a foot in length, similar to that of Illinois. I saw only one in all my wanderings through the country. There are other snakes, not venomous, such as the coach-whip snake, the large black snake, which is here called the "chicken snake," because it sometimes robs hen's nests; the glass snake,[Pg 191] which if you strike it, will break in a number of places, and some others. Then, there is the tarantula, a large spider; and the stinging lizard, a species of the scorpion, of a reddish color, and about two inches long. The bite of the tarantula and stinging lizard is, in pain and effect, similar to the sting of a bee. There is a weed here, growing all over the country, which is a certain cure for the bite of all these venomous reptiles.

The alligator is found in the rivers of Texas. I saw three, one large one; the other two, small ones. They sometimes catch hogs, as they go down to the water to drink. They will attack a man in the water. A man was seized by one on Little river, while I was in the country, who was swimming across; but he was beaten off by a person near him, on a raft.

Of the animals, there are many—the panther, wolf, wildcat, tiger cat, bear, Mexican hog, antelope, &c. The wolves are the most numerous, and are quite bold and mischievous. I frequently saw them in the day time, and often heard their discordant howl in the night.

One day, as I was riding along alone in the open woods, a panther came out of a small thicket, into the path before me! I knew that retreat would be dangerous; and, therefore, I boldly sung out and pushed forward towards him. He was not disposed to give battle, but leaped off at once into the woods. I was a good deal startled at this sudden[Pg 192] appearance of such a powerful, uncaged beast of the forest; but as he appeared to be the most frightened of the two, I ought to be content. The panther is an animal of the size and color of a full grown lioness, but too cowardly to attack his prey in the open field. Like the Indian, he lies in ambush, or sits perched on the branch of a tree, and seizes his victim unawares. Even a small dog has been known to chase him into his favorite retreat on a tree. The bears, generally, take to the dense forest of trees and cane-brake. They catch the full grown hogs, and the wolves take the pigs.

Flies, of various kinds, are found here; and are more troublesome to animals in the warm summer months, than at the north. I saw large sores, caused by them, on cattle, dogs and hogs. An application of mercury is sometimes found necessary to cure them. There is also a wood tick, resembling that on sheep, which fastens itself on animals, but does not appear to do any essential injury.

But last, although not least, in the list of evils, is the ever active moscheto. In the flat country, bordering on the sea and bays, they are indeed dreadful to a northern man. When I was at the mouth of the Brazos, towards the last of December, whether on the beach, in the house, on board the vessel, day and night without cessation, the moschetoes were excessively annoying. Give me a general assortment of alligators, snakes and lizards, rather than subject me to the eternal buzz, and[Pg 193] stinging bite of the ever busy moscheto. Other animals may be successfully combatted and subdued; but to fight the moscheto is like "beating the air;" give a blow in front and he is in the rear; brush the rear, and he is in front—and so on all day long. And when you have done, you have only excessively fatigued and perplexed yourself, and left him the uninjured master of the field. The only chance to get rid of such a keen tormentor as this, is to hang yourself, or run away. In the high rolling country, there are less flies and no moschetoes.

There are few remnants of tribes of Indians in the settled region of Texas. They are generally said to be harmless and inoffensive; doing nothing worse than stealing a hog or so, in a neighborly way; so that they may not be entirely forgotten. A woman where I stopped one night, told me that about twenty Indians encamped at the spring near her house; came to the house for meal, and she gave them all she could spare. In the morning, after they were gone, she found they had robbed the yard of all the melons, and taken the fattest shoat she had.

While I was in the country a man was shot at and wounded by an Indian, near Jones' ferry on the Colorado river. As he was riding along alone over the prairie, he saw a number of Indians by the side of a wood, who beckoned for him to approach. When he had come quite near, happening to cast[Pg 194] his eyes towards the wood, he saw an Indian, partly concealed behind a tree, with a gun drawn up in the act of firing. He had only time to throw himself back on his horse, and the ball made a slight flesh wound on his breast. He wheeled, put spurs to his horse and escaped. Whether these were Indians belonging to the settled or unsettled regions of Texas, could not be ascertained.

Between the settlements and the Rocky Mountains, are large tribes of Indians; and detached parties from them, sometimes come down to the border plantations, and steal a few horses. They consider the Spaniards lawful game; but do not care about fighting the Americans. They say, the Americans are a brave people and fight most desperately; and from them, they obtain their chief supplies.

Perhaps my readers may think this rather a formidable array of animals and reptiles. It may appear more so on paper, and at a distance, than in the region where they are found. People of Mississippi, Alabama and Florida, would find themselves at home among them; but to a northern man they might be found somewhat disagreeable at first.—They would, however, soon become so much accustomed to them, that in a short time they would hardly regard them at all. The inhabitants here, from whatever quarter they may have come, do not think they form any serious objection to settling in the country.

[Pg 195]

While I remained in Texas, I found no serious trouble from the animals, reptiles or insects, except that general enemy to repose, the moscheto, and that only in the lowlands. On the open prairies, there are but few noxious animals, except the wolves. This is owing a good deal, undoubtedly, to the fire running over them twice a year. As the country becomes more settled, they will be less numerous; and some of them will become entirely extinct.

The water, generally, is very good for a southern country. I found many fine springs of pure soft water in various parts of Texas; and in the rolling prairies, good water is obtained by digging. The only objection to it is in its temperature. To me, it was universally too warm to be agreeable. "A cup of cold water" is nowhere to be found in the territory; and to a northern man, in a warm day, it is so refreshing, reviving, invigorating—so readily slakes the thirst, and cools the body, it is almost indispensable to his comfort and enjoyment. Warm water is the common drink of the inhabitants. In the towns, I found the various kinds of spirits and wine; but in the country, I found no spirits, (except very seldom, whiskey) wine, beer, or cider; but only water—warm water. It must be admitted, that the people are very temperate, if not to drink the ardent be a sure indication of temperance.


[Pg 196]

CHAPTER XXI.

There are no large towns in Texas. Bexar, or as it is commonly called, St. Antonio, is the capital, and contains about thirty-five hundred inhabitants—the other villages are small, varying from one hundred to one thousand souls. St. Antonio, like all the Spanish towns, is composed of houses built of logs and mud, and makes a squalid appearance. It is situated about twenty miles east of San Antonio river. The principal towns are, Nacogdoches, St. Augustine; and on Galveston Bay, Harrisburg and Lynchburg: on the Brazos—Velasco, Brazoria, Columbia, St. Felipe, and a new town in Robinson's colony at the falls: Cole's Settlement, fifteen miles west of the Brazos: on the Colorado—Metagorda, Montezuma, Electra, Bastrap, or Mina: on the Gaudalupe—Gonsales: on the San Antonio—Goliad, (formerly Bahia,) and Bexar: in Powell's Grant—St. Patrick: on the Rio Grande, or Rio del Norte—Refugio, Metamoras, Reinosa, Camargo, Mier, Revilla, Laredo, Presidio and the city of Doloros.

A new town is laid out at the falls on the Brazos river in Robinson's colony, about two hundred and fifty miles from its mouth. This is the place where[Pg 197] the land office is kept for this colony, and will become quite a village. But the country is not now settled enough to make or support large towns. It must be the work of time. Although men may lay out a town, and commence building it, yet it cannot prematurely be forced into existence. It must have a back settlement to support it. The merchant and mechanic cannot sell, unless there are some inhabitants to buy.

The Spaniards, more than one hundred and fifty years ago, built some small towns in Texas, the principal of which are St. Antonio, Nacogdoches and La Bahia. These became something of villages; but for twenty years their population has continually diminished; and the country at large does not contain half the Spanish inhabitants that it did at that time. They, like the Indians, dwindle away, or flee before the settlements of the Americans.

The Mexican government had three garrisons of soldiers stationed in Texas—one at Nacogdoches, one on Galveston Bay, and one at Velasco, at the mouth of the Brazos. Some of the commanders of these garrisons, attempted to exercise despotic powers, in seizing Americans who had become obnoxious to them, and putting them in prison. About two years ago, their conduct became so oppressive, that the citizens rose en masse, killed some of the soldiers, and took the remainder prisoners. The Mexican government then recalled all the officers[Pg 198] and soldiers, and there has not been a Mexican garrison in Texas since.

The inhabitants of the country pay no taxes at all. It is said that the lands are exempt from taxation for ten years to come. All articles imported for the private use of the emigrant, are free of duty; and in fact, a great portion of the merchandize pays none. When I left the Brazos river, there was no custom house officer upon it; and a number of vessel loads of goods were landed, without being required to pay any duty.

Almost all kinds of goods afford a good profit and a ready sale in Texas; especially domestic cottons, boots, shoes, hats and ready made clothing. Coffee is used in large quantities, but I did not find hardly a cup of tea in the whole country. It is not a good place for mechanics. Manufactured articles of all kinds are brought from the north, and sold cheaper than they can be made here; and the country is too thinly settled, and the raw material is too scarce, to give much employment to artisans of what is called custom work, such as shoemakers, tailors, &c. Blacksmiths, however, are an exception to this. They are indispensable, although there are now but few of them. The price charged for shoeing a horse is from three to four dollars.

Texas is connected with Cohahuila, and both form one province of the Mexican Confederacy. But lately, they have been made into separate judicial districts; each having its own courts and offi[Pg 199]cers. In Texas their proceedings in court and the records, are in the English language; but land titles are still written in the Spanish. The laws are liberal; they guarantee the freedom of religious opinion and a trial by jury. Courts are held in St. Felipe, Nacogdoches, St. Augustine, Bastrap, &c. The government is elective and republican. I attended an election of sheriff and other county officers. They vote viva voce, as the practice is in many of our southern States. To be an inhabitant of the country, is all the qualification necessary to become a voter.

Physicians are occasionally found in the country, and there are a small number of lawyers located in the principal towns. There are but few preachers of the gospel, and I believe no meeting houses, except some decayed Roman Catholic churches.

The country needs more professional men. It opens a fine field for enterprising men in any profession. The wheels of government in Texas move quietly along. The storms which agitate and distract the city of Mexico and its vicinity, spend their force before they reach that province. I think, the government forms no serious objection to forming a settlement in the country.

But in a new and thinly settled country, the laws, however wise and good, cannot always be enforced. Magistrates and executive officers are few, and courts often at a distance. The new settlers, therefore, sometimes take the law into their own hands;[Pg 200] and although they may not inflict the same punishment the law enjoins, I believe they generally do substantial justice. As an instance of the kind, I will state a case that happened on the bank of the Colorado river. A man settled there, who proved to be a notorious thief. He stole cattle, horses, hogs, or any thing he could lay his hands on. His neighbors resolved to endure his depredations no longer, and gave him notice to depart from that section of the country, or abide the consequences. After waiting awhile, and learning that he intended to remain, some half dozen of his neighbors went to his house in the evening, took him to a tree, and gave him thirty-nine lashes, well laid on. They then told him that the punishment should be repeated every week, as long as he remained in the neighborhood. Before a week came round, he left that section of the country, and has not been heard of since.

In the interior of the country, there is a salt lake, from which a load of fine salt may be obtained in a short time; and appears to be inexhaustible. A small stream runs from this to the Brazos river, and sometimes renders its waters too brackish for use.

By the laws, slavery is not allowed in the province; but this law is evaded by binding the negroes by indenture for a term of years. You will, therefore, find negro servants, more or less, all over the country; but more, on the lowlands, to[Pg 201]wards the bays and seacoast. Large cotton plantations, in this section of the country, are cultivated by negroes; and here also are found some good houses and rich farmers.

Texas lies between the twenty-seventh and thirty-fourth degrees of north latitude; and between sixteen degrees thirty minutes, and twenty-seven degrees west longitude from Washington; and contains probably about one hundred and fifty thousand square miles—as large as all New-England and the State of New-York. It is bounded, east by the Sabine river and a line drawn due north from its head waters to Red River—south, by the Gulf of Mexico—west, by the river Neuces, Rio del Norte, and the Cordillera mountains—north, by the Red River, until it hits its eastern boundary.

More than half of the country is prairie. The margin of the streams and the moist highlands are covered with a fine growth of timber. All the seacoast and on the bays, there is a strip of low, level land, extending seventy miles into the country. The prairies are here very rich, but too level to be pleasant or healthy. The remainder of Texas is high, dry and gently undulating; but not mountainous. Between the rivers Sabine and Trinity, are extensive, gently undulating, sandy plains, generally covered with a good growth of pitch pine; but occasionally covered with post-oaks, hickory, &c. Among these, are interspersed small prairies of good land; sometimes having a black[Pg 202] soil, but generally of a reddish cast, and occasionally of a deep red. From the river Trinity to the western line of the State, are high, rolling, beautiful prairies of all sizes and shapes imaginable. So beautiful are these prairies, that the imagination cannot paint a more delightful scene. Cultivation, however nicely performed, will rather mar, than add to their beauty. They are surrounded with a dense forest of trees; sometimes two or three miles in depth, and sometimes only of a few yards. On the highlands, or elevated plains, are frequently found oak-openings, similar to those of Michigan and Illinois. Texas, with the exception of the pine plains, may with truth be said to possess a deep, rich soil of black marl.

That portion of the country lying between the Colorado river and Louisiana, is subject to powerful rains in the fall and spring; but as you go southward and westward towards the city of Mexico, the rains become less frequent, and not so abundant. About two months in summer, it is generally quite dry; sometimes, so severe is the drought that vegetation withers, and the grass on the prairies becomes dry. To the southward of Texas, the Spaniards irrigate their lands to make them produce a more abundant crop. The planting season is so early, (from the first to the middle of February,) that all the crops, except cotton and sugar cane, come to maturity before the dry weather commences; and these get such a vigor[Pg 203]ous start in this luxuriant soil, that they are seldom materially injured by the drought.

The roads are all in a state of nature; yet so smooth is the surface, and so gently undulating is the face of the country, that in dry weather, better roads are not found any where. A person, however, often meets with moist bottom land, and streams difficult to pass. In the wet season, travelling is more disagreeable and difficult; and sometimes impracticable, on account of the swollen, rapid streams of water.

Although carriages run without difficulty all over the country, yet the inhabitants have not yet introduced pleasure carriages. The mode of travelling is on horseback; but women and children often go in a baggage wagon drawn by oxen. Baggage wagons are quite numerous, but I found only one pleasure carriage in the whole province, and that was a gig-wagon.

Emigrants are continually pouring into Texas, both by sea and by land, and from every section of the United States. The southerners generally choose the lowlands bordering on the bays and Gulf; but the northern people prefer the high lands in the interior. If emigration continues, it will soon contain a very respectable population.


[Pg 204]

CHAPTER XXII.

I found some of the emigrants disappointed, discontented and unhappy; and I met one man on his return to the land from whence he came. He was from Tennessee, had moved into Texas with his family and a small portion of his goods in a wagon; but they all did not like the country so well as the one they had left, and unanimously agreed to return. It was a tedious and expensive journey, but not altogether useless. It will teach them more highly to prize their own country, neighborhood and privileges, and induce them to spend the remainder of their days with contented minds.

Before a man with a family makes up his mind to emigrate to a new, unsettled and distant country, he ought well to consider of the subject. Emigration, like matrimony, ought to be fully considered; as a bad move in this particular, is attended by many evils, and cannot well be remedied. In the first place, it is the best way to "let well enough alone." If an individual be well settled in life, has profitable employment, well supports himself and family and gains a little every year, dwells in an agreeable neighborhood, has the privilege of sending his chil[Pg 205]dren to school, and of attending public worship, why should he wish to remove? Why should he wish to go into the wilderness, endure the fatigues of a long journey, and the many hardships and deprivations, necessarily attendant upon a removal to the most favored spot in the new world? This life is too short and uncertain to be spent in making doubtful experiments. It is wise, to live where we can be the most useful and happy ourselves, and where we have the fairest prospect of rendering others so, with whom we are connected.

But the young man who has no lucrative employment, and the married man who has to labor hard to gain a scanty subsistence for himself and family, would do well to go to the rich prairies of the south or west. He ought to be careful not to be too much elated with the prospect before him, for disappointment, fatigue and suffering most assuredly await him. It is not "a light thing" to travel with a family of goods two or three thousand miles.—He ought to accustom his mind to dwell upon hardship and suffering, before he commences his journey. Young says—

"Our only lesson is to learn to suffer;
And he who knows not that, was born for nothing."

But on his arrival at his location in the new world, however fine, rich and elegant the situation may be, he will feel disappointed and sad. This is perfectly natural; and although some may have too much pride to acknowledge it, yet they all have a strange[Pg 206]ness of feeling pervading their breasts, that is sometimes painful in the extreme. Perhaps the emigrant had never before travelled far from the smoke of his father's dwelling, and had spent his life hitherto in the neighborhood where he was born, and where his early and innocent attachments were formed. He now finds himself in a new country, far away from the ever-to-be-remembered scenes of his childhood, and he looks abroad upon the world around him, in sadness of heart; for it is a world, however beautiful it may be, that is a stranger to him, and with which he has no sympathy. Not to feel, under such circumstances as these, indicates something more or less than man. And this strange, lonely feeling is hardly softened down and mitigated, by the well known fact, that his new location is far superior to the one he has left. The inhabitants of Nantucket are proverbially attached to that island of sand, and are discontented and unhappy in the most fertile towns and beautiful villages on the continent.

The emigrant ought to think of all these things, before he leaves his native village. But when he has become located in the new world, it will not do to shrink back and despond. He must brace himself to the task before him, and cheer up his family, who in fact need some cheering, for exchanging a well built house and pleasant associates, for the rude log hut and wild beasts of the forests. They will all soon become acquainted with the new world and[Pg 207] form new associations. A well built house will shortly take the place of the rude cabin, and emigrants will settle near them, to whom they will become attached. The rich fields will produce an abundant harvest, and large herds of cattle will be seen feeding on the luxuriant grass. He will soon gain a competency, live at ease, and become contented and happy.

The inhabitants have a strong belief that Texas will at some future day become one of the United States; but I think this, extremely doubtful. It is more probable, that it will in time become an independent sovereignty. It is now one of the Mexican States, and the seat of the general government is in the city of Mexico. The confederacy is composed of quite a number of States, and Texas sends its due proportion of representatives to the general Congress, to make laws for the whole. These States have never been well agreed in their form of government, or in the men for rulers. Revolutions, and counter-revolutions, have been the order of the day at the seat of the general government; but Texas is too much settled by Americans, and is too far removed from these intestine commotions to be much affected by them.

Col. Stephen F. Austin, to whom the first colony was granted, and who has been the indefatigable pioneer in the settlement of Texas, has generally been its representative in the general government. In the spring of 1834, he was at the seat of gov[Pg 208]ernment, but so great were the divisions that little business could be done. He considered the country in a state of revolution, and wrote home to a friend of his, that he believed Texas had better take care of itself and form a government of its own. This friend proved treacherous, enclosed his letter to the President, and sent it to the city of Mexico. It was received just after Col. Austin had left the city on his return home. He was pursued, arrested, brought back and put in prison. He was for awhile kept in close confinement; and then, let out on his giving bonds to confine himself to the limits of the city. When I was in Texas, it was believed, he would shortly be liberated, and was daily expected home; but I have since learned, that he was not liberated until some months after my return.

It requires not the gift of prophecy to tell what the end of these things will be. Texas will become tired of belonging to such a discordant confederacy; and when their population shall have sufficiently increased to insure success, will throw off the yoke, and form a government of their own. But at all events, it will soon be disjoined from Cohahuila, establish its own State government, and elect its own officers. The seat of government will probably be San Felipe, on the Brazos river.

In some publications the people of Texas have been slandered. They have been called a set of robbers and murderers, screening themselves from[Pg 209] justice, by fleeing from their own country and coming to this. It would be strange, indeed, if there were not such instances; but whoever travels over the country, will find them as pleasant, obliging and kind as any people in the United States. In the towns, you generally find a billiard room; and near it, a race-course. At these resorts, are found the favorite amusements of the inhabitants. I went all through the country, unarmed and unharmed; nor did I at any time feel in jeopardy of life or limb. Their most prominent fault is, in being too fond of pastime and hunting, to the neglect of tilling the land, building decent houses, and procuring the conveniences of life.

The most healthy and pleasant portions of Texas are in the regions of Nacogdoches; in the rolling country between the Brazos and Colorado; and southward and westward of the latter river—in Beal's Grant, near the Rio del Norte; and high up on the Brazos and its branches, in Robinson's colony. But neither Galveston Bay, nor the flat country all along the seacoast, is the place for a northern man. It is too much infested with alligators, moccason snakes and moschetoes. It is more suitable for southern planters, to be cultivated by the blacks.

But whoever emigrates with his family to Texas, let him, at all events, carry with him bread stuffs to last six months; for there is no wheat raised in the country, and only a small crop of corn for the sup[Pg 210]ply of its own inhabitants. Of course, bread stuffs are always dear, and sometimes unattainable at any price. Cattle and hogs are plenty, and wild game abundant, so that he could supply himself with meat in this country.

The emigrant had better buy his cattle and horses here; for those brought from a more northern climate do not thrive well, and often die. A good serviceable horse may be bought for, from twenty to thirty dollars; a cow with a calf by her side, for ten dollars; and a yoke of oxen for about thirty dollars. The land is ploughed by oxen, horses and mules; but journeys for the transportation of merchandize are performed by oxen.

There is a mail running from the city of Mexico, through St. Felipe, as far as Nacogdoches; but as the United States mail goes no farther than Fort Jessup, the two mails do not meet each other, by seventy-five miles. There is, therefore, no mail connection between the United States and Texas. This is a serious inconvenience, and must shortly be remedied. The only chance to send a letter either way, is by a private conveyance. This is generally done by the captains of vessels.

The currency is silver and gold coin, bills of the United States Bank and those of New Orleans.—Copper coins are not found in circulation at the south and west. Texas has no bank of its own.

Thus much for my general view of Texas. I have endeavored to give a true account of the[Pg 211] country as it appeared to me. Perhaps it may not be altogether acceptable to landholders and speculators. Be that as it may, I believe I have performed an acceptable service to the emigrant, by giving him a fair account of the country; and one that he will find to be a true one, in all its essential particulars, on his arrival. Live stock, cotton and sugar are and will be the great staples of the country—grain will be of secondary consideration.

What, then, is the conclusion of the whole matter? Is Texas a desirable place for a northern man? My opinion is, that if a northern man would locate himself in the highlands of the country, he would enjoy health as well as at the north; procure all the necessaries and conveniences of life much easier; and might, in time, become independently rich. I do think he would find the climate more pleasant, and more congenial to his feelings, than a northern one; and his life probably attended by more enjoyments.

I have been frequently asked, what particular spot in Texas is the most desirable for an emigrant to settle in? My answer is, I cannot tell. And whoever travels over the country, will be as much puzzled to tell as I am. The fact is, there are hundreds of places offering about the same inducements—all pleasant, healthy and agreeable. Among them, it is quite immaterial what particular one the emigrant may select. I saw an emigrant who had been in the country almost a year, and he[Pg 212] had been riding over it the chief part of the time, and still was unable to make a selection. He said there were so many fine situations, so nearly alike, that he found it difficult to give a decided preference to any particular one. When he will be able to make up his mind, and decide the question, I know not. The last time I saw him, he was still on the wing; and for aught I know, he may keep in motion as long as the far-famed Boston traveller, Peter Rugg, or the Flying Dutchman, and never be able to find a spot of ground for a permanent abode! But this emigrant is not to be "sneezed at." Questions of far less importance have agitated the world; and who knows, but that the destiny of the country, as well as his own, eminently depends upon his particular location!

Again—I have been enquired of, what can a man do to make property in Texas? I answer, he can go into trade in some of the villages, and make large profits upon his goods. He can go on to a plantation, and raise cotton, sugar, corn, or stock—any or all of these are easily raised, and find a ready market. This is what he may do; but what he will do, is altogether uncertain. He may become as indolent and inattentive to business, as many of the inhabitants of the country. He may spend his time in hunting, at the race-course, and at the billiard table. Here, at the north, the great anxiety is, how we shall live—wherewithal we shall be clothed, and how we can turn a penny to "get[Pg 213] gain;" there, the great concern is, how they shall employ themselves to kill time. Here, we struggle hard to live; there, they strive hard not to live. Here, we live in spite of nature; there, nature makes them live in spite of themselves. Could an emigrant know what course he would take on settling in Texas, he could then tell, whether it would be better to go or remain. I have spread the country open before him; let him judge for himself. And fortunate is he, who gives heed to the experience of others, and makes a wise choice.


CHAPTER XXIII.

I concluded to return to the north by water. I procured a conveyance from the interior to St. Felipe on horseback; and here I learnt that there was a schooner sixty miles down the river at Columbia, bound to New-Orleans, which would sail in a few days. I could find no conveyance to Columbia, either by land or water. I found a wagon going down for merchandize, on which I put my baggage; and in company with another gentleman, whom I found in the same predicament with myself, started off on foot.

[Pg 214]

St. Felipe is the head quarters of Austin's colony. It is a small village, on a high prairie, immediately on the south bank of the Brazos river, nearly one hundred miles from the sea. It stands on the first high land you come to on the river; and at this spot the high rolling country commences. Its situation is beautiful and commanding. It has two taverns, four or five stores, a court house, and perhaps twenty dwelling houses; but there are only two or three good looking buildings in the place. The opposite side of the river is low, and covered with a heavy growth of timber.

St. Felipe, like most of the southern villages, is not without its billiard room; and its usual, I might say invariable accompaniment, the grog shop.—Billiards is a pleasant and manly game enough; and good exercise for a sedentary man; and if indulged in only for amusement, is as innocent as any recreation whatever. It is a game much played in the middle and southern portions of the United States; and men of the first respectability are found at the table. But in this section of the country, it cannot be recommended as a safe place for recreation. It is generally used as a mere gambling apparatus; and a person meets with a class of society not the most civil, sober and peaceable.

Not long since, a young man played with an old gambler, until he became tired, and started off. The gambler came out at the door, and called him[Pg 215] back; but finding he could not induce him to return, out of mere wantonness and sport, commenced throwing brickbats at him. The young man was a cripple, and could neither run, nor successfully contend with his athletic opponent. He bore it as long as he could, then drew a pistol and shot him through the body. He fell dead upon the spot, without uttering a word. He had been an overbearing, troublesome fellow, and his death was the cause of joy rather than sorrow.

One night, while I was at St. Felipe, two young men returned from a bloody affray, thirty miles down the river. Early the next morning, two other men, fully armed, entered the town in pursuit, and paraded the streets in hostile array. I enquired into the history of the case, and found the following particulars.

Sometime previous, one of the young men paid his addresses to a young lady, and was engaged to be married. He went to the north on some mercantile business; and during his absence, another young man by the name of Thompson, commenced his particular attentions to the young lady; and the match was strongly advocated by his father. On his return from the north, he and another young man who had married a sister of the lady in question, payed a visit to her father's—stayed all night, and started in the forenoon, to return to St. Felipe. One of them was in a light gig-wagon, the other on horseback. They had proceeded but[Pg 216] a few miles when they heard the clattering of horses' feet, at full speed, behind them. On looking round, they saw young Thompson's father, and a doctor of the neighborhood, in close pursuit, with pistols in hand. The young men were also armed; and immediately shots were exchanged by both parties. But such was the hurry and agitation of the moment, that none took effect. They all dismounted at once, and at it they went, in a desperate contest for life and death. The doctor, not liking this part of the game, or not feeling exactly brave on the occasion, was contented to stand aloof, and see the battle rage. Old Thompson was a powerful man, and about an equal match for both of his opponents. He laid about him like a giant; and sometimes had one grounded, and then the other; and apparently, would shortly gain the victory over them both. At length, he knocked one down, and seemed determined to despatch him at once. He seized him by the throat, and called upon the doctor for a knife. The other young man saw at a glance the critical state of the contest—he jumped to the wagon, took out a loaded gun, just in time to stop the doctor, by his threats, from handing the knife, then took deliberate aim at Thompson, and shot him through the body. Thompson fell back, said he was a dead man, and expired in a few minutes. The doctor ran to his horse, mounted and fled with all convenient speed. The young men, having been rather roughly handled,[Pg 217] were considerably bruised, although not seriously injured. They picked up the deadly weapons of the battle-field, as trophies of victory, and made the best of their way to St. Felipe.

In a short time, the doctor, young Thompson and some others, came to the battle-ground, and carried home the dead body; and without waiting to attend the funeral, young Thompson and the doctor started after the young men, to avenge his death. It caused no small stir at St. Felipe, when they arrived, and paraded the streets fully armed, and breathing out threatenings. The young men took to a store, and with arms in their hands, awaited the result. The civil authority, however, interfered. The young men gave themselves up to the custody of the law, and Thompson and the doctor were persuaded to go home, and abide a trial by jury.

It is no pleasure to me to give an account of such lawless battles; but as a faithful chronicler of events I could not pass them over in silence. Texas, however, is not more the theatre of them, than many places in the United States. If the value of an article is enhanced in proportion to its scarcity, it is more excusable to fight for a lady here, than elsewhere; for, according to the best estimate I could make, there are ten men to one woman in the country. And could the surplus maiden population of New-England be induced to emigrate to Texas, they would meet with a cordial reception;[Pg 218] and it might prove, not only advantageous to themselves, but highly beneficial to the country.

In two miles from the town, we came to the flat, low country. It was, generally, muddy and very disagreeable and fatiguing to travel over. It was all an open prairie country, except a small skirt of timber immediately on the banks of the little streams; and almost a dead level, except in one place, twelve miles from Columbia. Here, a hundred acres or more rise thirty or forty feet above the general level of the country, and by way of distinction, is called "the mound." Near the streams, the ground was a little elevated; and at such places, we found houses, and some small improvements, probably, in eight or ten miles of each other. We saw a great many herds of deer, and flocks of wild geese and ducks.

We were almost four days in performing the route; and were excessively fatigued, when we entered the small village of Columbia. This is a new village, having two or three stores, a tavern, and half a dozen dwelling houses. It is situated on a level prairie, two miles from the river, and ten above Brazoria. There is a small village immediately on the bank of the river, called Bell's Landing; and the space between the two, is low bottom land, heavily covered with timber.

At this landing, vessels come up and unload their merchandize, destined for the upper country. It has a tavern, two stores, a large warehouse, and[Pg 219] three or four dwelling houses. Here I was informed, the schooner had dropped down the stream. I stopped over night, and rather than walk, I obtained a log canoe, and a man to paddle me down to Brazoria. The tide sets up a little further than Bell's Landing, and our boat, having the advantage of its ebb and the current also, floated us down in two hours.

Brazoria is quite a large village. I found some very good buildings, public houses, stores, and as usual, a billiard room. A newspaper is published here, called the Brazoria Gazette; and I believe is the only one printed in all Texas. The situation of the town is low and unpleasant; and subject to the fever and ague. I found a steamboat here, going up the river; but the vessel had gone further down; so we started in the canoe after her; and rowing fifteen miles we found her by the side of the river, taking in bales of cotton. I was glad to get on board the vessel, and be relieved at once from the tediousness and fatigue of pursuit, and from the uncertainty of obtaining a passage to the United States.

The vessel remained here, until the next day, when we sailed with a light breeze down the stream. The river is very crooked, so that it is twice as far from Brazoria to its mouth by water, as it is by land. We had to tie the vessel up to a tree at night, as it was too dark to proceed. The next day in the afternoon, we hauled up again, on account of a head[Pg 220] wind. The mate stept ashore to spend the time in hunting. The river is lined with timber on both sides, about a mile in width; and then, the country is generally an open, level prairie. The mate became entirely bewildered and lost; could not find his way back to the vessel; and was obliged to camp out for the night. In the morning, the captain sent scouts in various directions after him; but they all returned without success. The captain concluded he must have gone towards the mouth of the river; so he hoisted sail and started on. Nearly noon, the mate made his appearance on the river bank, nearly opposite the vessel; and the captain sent his boat for him. He was quite exhausted.—He had wandered about almost the whole time, and could neither find a house, road or river. He said he never had been used to hunting; but he could not conceive why people were so fond of it, as it was much more pain than pleasure to him. 'Every one to his trade.' A hunter would have found as little pleasure on the ocean, as the sailor did on the land. This hunting expedition afforded no little merriment to the captain and crew, at his expense, during the voyage.

The timber on the river banks became less, as we descended; and for five miles above the mouth, there is none at all. A small town called Velasco is situated on the sandy beach, at the river's mouth—containing one public house, two stores, four or five dwelling houses, and the ruins of an old Spanish[Pg 221] fort. We stayed two days here, waiting for a fair wind to cross the bar. I frequently amused myself by walking for miles on the sandy beach, and picking up some of the pretty shells among the millions that lay scattered along. It is as fine a walk as a pensive maiden, in contemplative mood, could desire. On the one hand, is the ever-toiling ocean, whose waves break upon the sand bars, and in giddy globes of foam, lash the shore, and spend their force beneath your feet: on the other, a low, sandy bluff, and then an extended lawn, stretching far away into the interior, and its utmost verge skirted with stately forest trees; and the pathway itself, smooth, hard and level, and bedecked with countless beautiful shells of various sizes, shapes and hues.

The Brazos is an unpleasant stream. Its waters are at all times muddy; its banks are generally low and present a raw edge to the eye as you pass along; and in many places the navigation is rendered difficult, by reason of the many snags. At its mouth, there is a bar, generally having not more than five or six feet of water; and the channel so narrow that a vessel can only pass through with a fair wind. Three vessels had been wrecked on the coast the past season. The remains of two of them, lay in sight partly buried in the sand.

In the spring, the waters of all the streams in Texas are high, and bring down from the upper country, large quantities of timber. The mouth of[Pg 222] the Brazos, and a long distance on the seashore, is lined with large masses of trees; and from this source the inhabitants of Velasco obtain their fuel.


CHAPTER XXIV.

One morning, near the last of December, the captain announced a fair wind. He weighed anchor, hoisted sail, and with a stiff breeze pushed out to sea. The vessel only drew five feet water, yet she touched three or four times on the bar; but did no apparent damage. I stood upon the deck, until the land, trees and houses faded away in the distance.

Texas, like a beautiful damsel, has many charms and attractions, but is not entirely faultless. Indeed, there is no such place as a perfect elysium on earth. And those who have formed their opinion of the country from some of the many late publications concerning it, will feel some disappointment on their arrival. But its many beauties will hide a multitude of faults; or render them light and easily borne. I must say of Texas, as Cowper said of England, "with all its faults, I like it still;" and although I had experienced some hardships and inconveniences while in the country, yet its mild climate, pleasant[Pg 223] streams, and enchanting "fields of living green," I left at last with serious regret.

The fall of the year is the best time to move into Texas; or into any of the western States. There are four good reasons to give for this preference: 1st. It is then better travelling; both on account of the dryness of the roads, and the mild temperature of the weather—neither too hot or too cold. 2d. It is more healthy on the road—not so much danger of contracting disease on the way; and to be there at the opening of the spring, and become accustomed to the climate and warm weather by degrees, there will be a fairer prospect of continued health. 3d. It is the time of the year when provisions are the most plenty and cheapest; an emigrant can, therefore, the more readily supply himself on the road, and after his arrival. 4th. It is the shortest time a person can be in the country, and raise a crop the ensuing season. To arrive in October, or the first of November, he will have plenty of time to build a log house, split out rails and fence in a field by the coming spring, so as to raise a crop.—Were he to go in the spring, he would be obliged to support himself and family a whole year before he could get a crop into the ground.

To go from the north to Texas, the better way is to take a passage on board a vessel bound to Galveston Bay, the river Brazos, or the Colorado. But if a vessel cannot readily be found, going direct to Texas, a passage may be taken to New-Orleans; and[Pg 224] from thence, a person can go up the Red River to Natchitoches, and across the country; or by water through the Gulf, to almost any port on the bays and rivers. The distance from Boston by water, is three thousand miles; by land, it is not quite so far. From the city of New-York, vessels frequently may be found going direct to Texas. The most convenient places for landing in Texas are Harrisburg, on Galveston Bay; Velasco, at the mouth of the Brazos, and Metagorda at the mouth of the Colorado. It would be advisable to get a protection, more especially, if a person goes by water.

Speculation—ever busy, active speculation, pervades the world. It rages with violence in Maine, disturbs the quiet villages of New-England, keeps the western world alive, and visits the shores of Texas. I was at a loss to know how speculation could get hold of Texas lands; for they are only granted to the actual settler and only one grant given to each. Human ingenuity has devised a plan. When an emigrant arrives in the country, he is met by a land speculator, who tells him he knows of a good location, and if he will go and settle on it, he shall have one half of the league for nothing. The land is entered at the land office in the emigrant's name, the speculator pays the fees, and takes a deed of one half, from the emigrant. This is not the worst kind of speculation in the world. It, probably, may prove beneficial to both parties. The emigrant at least, seems to have no cause for[Pg 225] complaint. He gets twenty three hundred acres of land, as much as he can ever cultivate, and pays nothing at all for it.

We had four passengers on board; two of whom were afflicted with that lingering disease called the fever and ague. They had resided a few months in the lowlands of Texas, and became so severely afflicted, they were returning to the United States for health. The other was a physician, who had gone up the river as far as Columbia; did not like the country and was on his return home to Tennessee. I informed him, he had not seen the most desirable portion of the country. And such was the fact.—But he had read some of the descriptions of the "beautiful river Brazos and the fine country adjacent," and was thereby completely deceived.

A sea voyage is always unpleasant to me. The wind blew a strong breeze, the waves rolled high, and made our vessel dance over them like a feather. We all became dreadfully sea sick. It is a terrible feeling; and those afflicted with it, probably endure as much excruciating pain and distress, as the human system is capable of sustaining. In two days, the wind abated in a measure, and the sea became comparatively smooth. We crawled out upon deck, our sickness abated, and soon left us entirely.

On the fifth day, just at night, we saw the light at the southwest pass of the Mississippi. It soon became dark, and the captain in attempting to enter the mouth of the river, run the vessel aground near[Pg 226] the shore. A scene here occurred, that somewhat startled us. We were in the cabin and felt the vessel strike and heard the waves dash against her.—We ran up on deck, and there saw the captain seated upon the windlass, writhing in agony, and groaning like one in despair! The idea struck us in a moment, that the captain saw our danger to be imminent, the vessel would dash in pieces, and we must all perish. But we were immediately relieved from our apprehensions. In the darkness of the night, and hurry of the moment, the captain had been thrown across the pump, and severely injured; and it was from actual pain of body, rather than anguish of mind that made him groan so bitterly. We did not, however, feel entirely at ease. We were exposed to the open sea; and if the wind should rise, and blow hard on shore, the vessel must be dashed to pieces, and we escape the best way we could.

But we were highly favored. The wind died away and the sea became quite calm. We retired to our berths, and slept quietly. In the morning, we carried out an anchor; at flood tide, hauled the vessel off; a steamboat took us in tow, and at the dinner hour, we were gallantly gliding up the river. So change the scenes of life.

The Mississippi steam tow-boats have engines of immense power. Our boat had six vessels in tow, and it carried us along at the rate of four miles an hour, against the strong current of the river. From the mouth of the Mississippi to New-Orleans is one[Pg 227] hundred and fifteen miles, and we performed the trip in about twenty-eight hours. The price charged for towing up the river is a dollar a ton; and the amount the boat received from all the vessels was about five hundred dollars. The vessels are towed down stream for half price and sometimes less.

Fifteen miles from the sea, the Mississippi divides itself into three channels, each having a lighthouse near the mouth; but the southwest pass is the only one in which ships can enter when loaded. The river continually pushes its banks further out to sea. They are formed of mud and logs, and soon become covered with a rank growth of rushes.

The banks of the river are low, and too wet for cultivation, for fifty miles from the sea. Soon after passing fort Jackson, which is about forty miles up the river, we came to sugar plantations on both sides, and these continued to the city of New-Orleans. On many of these large plantations we saw elegant houses, surrounded by orange trees, loaded with fruit. In the rear, sugar houses, and steam mills for grinding the cane, and long rows of neat looking negro houses; and large stacks of rice standing near them. The planters were all busily engaged in making sugar; and we saw armies of negroes in the fields, cutting and transporting the cane to the mills. January had already commenced, yet there had been no frost to destroy vegetation, and the cane looked as green as in midsummer. The crop of sugar was unusually large, and of an excellent quality.

[Pg 228]

The sugar cane, in size, stalk and leaf very much resembles the southern corn. It has, however, no spindles at the top like a corn stalk, but terminates in a tuft of long leaves. It does not appear to produce any seed in this country but the crop is annually renewed, by planting short slips of the stalk. Its juice is sweet, pleasant and nutritious.—The negroes are very fond of chewing the stalk; and I saw some bundles of it at the vegetable market in New-Orleans for sale. When the cane comes to maturity, it is cut up and ground with smooth nuts, which in fact only compress the stalk, and force out the juice. This is caught in a large trough underneath, and undergoes the same process of boiling in large kettles, as the sap of a northern maple, when made into sugar. When the boiling is completed, the sugar is put into a large cistern full of holes in the bottom, where it remains a number of days, that all the molasses that will, may drain out. It is then put into hogsheads and sent to market.


CHAPTER XXV.

On the eastern bank of the Mississippi, stands the city of New-Orleans. It is regularly laid out, chiefly built of brick, has many fine blocks of buildings,[Pg 229] large houses and handsome streets; but its site is too low for it to appear to advantage, or to render it pleasant and agreeable. It stretches two miles along the river bank; and for that distance, the levee is lined with triple and quadruple rows of vessels, steamboats and flat-boats; all having their particular location by themselves. The trade of New-Orleans is immense. By the weekly shipping register, it appeared there were two hundred and thirty-four vessels in port. The levee is loaded with bales of cotton, barrels of pork and flour, hogsheads of hams, kegs of lard and hogsheads of sugar and molasses. It is a place of great business, bustle and blandishment; and of dissipation, disease and death.

As I passed along by its muddy pavements and putrid gutters, and saw the many gambling houses, grog shops, oyster shops, and houses of riot and debauchery, surely, thought I, there are many things here exceedingly offensive, both to the physical and moral man. And when I saw the motley throngs, hurrying on to these haunts of vice, corruption and crime, I almost instinctively exclaimed, in the words of the immortal bard—

"Broad is the road that leads to death,
And thousands walk together there!"

But here, the career of the debauchee is short.—The poisonous atmosphere soon withers and wastes away his polluted life's blood. Death follows close upon the heels of crime; and one need stand but a short time at the charnel house, to behold cartloads[Pg 230] of his victims, hurried on, "unwept, unhonored and unsung," to their last home!

Life seems to be valued by its possessor, in proportion to the strength of the tenure by which it is held. When danger becomes imminent, and life's termination apparently near, instead of making the most of its short duration, man improvidently throws it away, as of no value; or suppresses all apprehension of the future, by rushing headlong into the wildest excesses of dissipation and crime. This is sometimes exemplified in the sailor. When perils thicken around and death stares him in the face, instead of summoning all his powers into action, and bravely contending to the last, he attempts to shut his eyes upon impending ruin, by stupifying the body, and ignobly surrenders life without a struggle. On no other principle, can I account for the excesses of New-Orleans. In its best estate, it is emphatically a place of disease and death. Its atmosphere is pestiferous. It is felt so to be, and so considered by its citizens. One might suppose, amid the ravages of disease and death, a man would think seriously and live soberly. That if his days were to be very few, he would make them all count, and tell to the greatest advantage. But the inhabitants of New-Orleans, instead of attempting to deprive death of his power, are enlisted on his side—they put poisoned arrows in his quiver, and add new terrors to his name! The sanctions of law and religion are set at nought, the Sabbath profaned, and they give[Pg 231] themselves up to hilarity, dissipation and crime. Is this denied? The fact is too apparent and notorious, successfully to be concealed or denied. Could the many victims of debauchery and crime speak, they might "unfold a tale" that would cause "the hair of the flesh to stand up," and make the boldest turn pale. Shall I be asked to particularize? Take the Criminal Code, and there read its long list of enormities and crimes.

Censures are painful, and comparisons are deemed invidious; but I must say New-Orleans does not show that order, neatness and sobriety, found in other large cities of the Union. Murders, robberies, thefts and riots, are too common hardly to elicit a passing notice. Man here seems to have become reckless of life. It is taken and given for "trifles light as air," with an indifference truly astonishing. The police is inefficient or shamefully negligent.—The authorities of the city appear to stand aloof, and see the populace physically and morally wallowing in the mire. It does appear to me, that if all in authority, and all the virtuous portion of the citizens would brace themselves to the work, the city might be greatly improved in health and in morals. Let the strong arm of the law be put forth fearlessly—let the streets be cleared of mud and filth, and the gutters of their putrid water—let the police be active and take into custody the disorderly knaves and vagabonds—let gambling houses be put down, and Sunday theatres and circuses be[Pg 232] suppressed, and New-Orleans would wear a different aspect. Then might its streets be walked without fear of life or limb; and the great wealth flowing in, by canal, railroad and river, be fully enjoyed.

This may be thought by some to be an exaggerated account of the city. For the honor of our country and of human nature, I wish it might be. But it is, indeed, too true; and whoever happens to visit it, that places a decent value upon life, or the goods of this life, will be glad, like me, to escape without the injury or loss of either. Although the vessel I came in was robbed of money and wearing apparel; one of its sailors knocked down and his money taken from him; and a companion of mine had his pocket book cut from his pocket; yet, I fortunately escaped. I could not, however, feel at ease among such a set of plunderers and robbers.

I am fully aware, that a large portion of the populace is made up of all nations, tongues and languages; that their residence here is often transient; that many enormities are incidental to all large cities of such a mixed population; and that the many worthy citizens ought not to be held responsible for all the crimes that may be committed, unless they make themselves accessory to them, by indifferently looking on, and taking no energetic measure to prevent them. But it does appear to me they are culpably negligent in this particular.

The city authorities need not sanction crime, by licensing gambling houses and houses of ill-fame.[Pg 233] By so doing, they take from themselves the power of frowning upon crime, or of effectually punishing the criminal; but leave him to assume an unblushing boldness in society, not elsewhere witnessed, that is truly alarming. If crime may not be entirely prevented, it can be rendered disgraceful; and those who have a decent respect for the opinion of mankind, if they have none for themselves, will then be deterred from committing evil. But as long as New-Orleans is believed to be a place, where crimes may be committed with impunity, and without incurring the censure or disapprobation of its citizens; so long will it be the general haunt for the knaves and vagabonds of the Union, and of the world.—They will centre here; give countenance and support to each other; draw within their deadly grasp the unsuspecting, the vicious and the idle; and, like the rolling snow-ball, at every impulse enlarge their circle, and gain additional force and power.

It is time, high time for all the sober minded and well disposed to awake, look about them, and see their true condition. Theirs is the sleep of death. Like Jonah of old, they slumber amid the whirlwind and storm. New-Orleans needs reform; and in a righteous cause, small means may effect much. Ten men may chase a thousand. Can the result be doubtful?

——"Our doubts are traitors
And make us lose the good we oft might win,
By fearing to attempt."

[Pg 234]

But I have done with the health and moral condition of New-Orleans. I am told it has improved, and is improving. And yet there is room—an ample field for the philanthropist to exercise the utmost stretch of his powers, to improve the physical and moral condition of its citizens.

A particular description of the city is not necessary. Its favorable location for foreign and domestic trade, and vast resources, are well known. One thing was new to me. It contains about half a dozen large cotton presses, entirely occupied in compressing bales of cotton. Those intended for a foreign market, are made to occupy one half of their original space; so that a vessel can carry double the quantity it otherwise might. The large number of bales shipped from this port, makes this an extensive business. The charge for compressing is seventy-five cents a bale. Bales designed for the northern ports, do not undergo this operation, but are shipped as they come from the hands of the planter.

New-Orleans has three extensive markets; two for flesh, and one for vegetables. I walked through them all, and thought the city was abundantly supplied with provisions, and of a good quality. Although it was January, the vegetable market was supplied with melons, green peas, radishes, lettuce, &c. And boats frequently landed, with cart loads of oranges, fresh from the trees. Fish are neither abundant nor of a fine flavor.

[Pg 235]

On the opposite side of the river, are the shipyards; but they seem to be more occupied in repairs, than in building new vessels. Here is a small village of a dozen houses, a grog shop and a tavern. A steam ferry boat constantly plies across the river, and appears to have a plenty of business.

The city is connected with lake Pontchartrain, by a canal for small vessels, and a railroad. The distance is five miles. Steamboats regularly run from the end of the railroad, to Mobile and other ports. New-Orleans has no wharves. It would be more convenient in loading vessels to have them; but they cannot be built on a foundation sufficiently firm to withstand the strong current of the Mississippi. A few years ago a wharf was built; but it was soon undermined, and sunk in the stream.


CHAPTER XXVI.

After remaining in the city four days, I procured a passage on board a brig bound to Boston, and sailed down the river. In about two miles, we passed the nunnery—a pleasant looking building, surrounded by an extensive grove of orange trees. Five miles from the city, we came to the famous battle ground, where Gen. Jackson, and his brave[Pg 236] associates "planted a British colony." But this is a matter of history. All the indications of a battle now remaining, are scars of balls on one or two trees.

The large plantations, on both sides of the river, were all alive with negroes, cutting cane and transporting it to the steam mills to make sugar. It appears to me, that slavery sits lighter on the negro race, than it would on any other human beings.—They are, generally, cheerful, and appear to be inclined to make the best of their situation. Much injustice, and many wrongs have been done to the African race. They were torn from their homes, their friends, and their country—carried to a distant land, and sold to hopeless, irremediable slavery. The original kidnappers have much to answer for.

But the case is now somewhat changed. Neither the masters nor the slaves, now upon the stage, are the parties to the original transaction. Slavery has existed for a long series of years; and the present owners of slaves obtained possession of them either by descent, or by purchase. They came into their possession, slaves; they did not change their condition. The only fault, therefore, they are justly chargeable with, is the continuance of slavery.—How far culpable the slaveholder may be in this particular, I shall not undertake to decide, any more than I would the degree of guilt justly chargeable to a Mussulman, for believing Mahomet to be a true prophet.

[Pg 237]

In all the publications and lectures which I have seen and heard upon slavery, it appears to me, that in regard to the present owners of slaves, the subject is not viewed in its true light. Slavery is stated to be a great evil; and therefore, slaveholders are great criminals. However well this may sound in logic, it does not sound well in morals. But there is another inference drawn from the premises—that it is the duty of the inhabitants in the non-slaveholding States, to get up a crusade against the slaveholders. Not with swords and guns to be sure; but to give them a bad name, render them odious in the estimation of mankind, and to continue a general warfare upon their characters. This is, indeed, the worst kind of warfare. Better take property or life; for what of value has a man left when deprived of his "good name?" To this, I shall be answered, that it is proper to call things by their right names—a spade ought to be called a spade; and a criminal ought to be called a criminal. So far as it applies to slavery, I have two plain replies to make. In the first place, it is assuming too much to call a slaveholder a criminal, under the peculiar circumstances of the case; and secondly, if the fact were so, it is not always good policy to bring accusations against an individual, if the object be to reform him.

It is a good maxim in law, and in religion too, that even the truth is only to be spoken from a good motive and a justifiable end. For the peace and well-being of society, facts are not to be stated,[Pg 238] merely to outrage the feelings of another, and to gratify the spleen of the speaker. Now, I would respectfully ask, what good can come of picking up all the tales concerning cruelty to slaves whether true or false, and proclaiming them in the most imposing form upon the house top, to a non-slaveholding audience? Every new case of cruelty is seized upon with avidity, and exultingly paraded before the public. This looks a little too pharisaical. 'Lord I thank thee that I am not as other men are; nor like unto these wicked slaveholders,' seems to beam from some men's countenances.

Is it not in accordance with the christian religion, if a brother offend, to go privately to him, and tell him his fault? Now, if the object be to emancipate the slaves, go to the slaveholder himself, and endeavor to satisfy him that slavery in itself is evil; and, on a view of the whole ground, it is safe, practicable, and beneficial to the slaves to be set free.—To the objection, that it would be unsafe to go among slaveholders for such a purpose, I reply, that missionaries are sent among the Indians of the West, the heathen of the East, and in the islands of the sea; and can it be deemed more dangerous to go among the slaveholding citizens of the United States, than among them? It cannot be pretended. The fact is a man may travel through the slaveholding States with perfect safety, provided he carry the deportment of a gentleman, and discuss the subject[Pg 239] of slavery, as all such subjects ought to be, in a decent and respectful manner.

Of this, I cannot doubt, from my own experience in the matter. During a residence of three years in a slaveholding State, and in my various excursions among the planters, I uniformly found hospitable and kind treatment; and a readiness to discuss the subject of slavery with the same freedom that they would any other.

It would be a very good plan for our lecturers on slavery, to travel through the southern States, and see for themselves the true condition of the master and slave. Their censures of their southern brethren might be softened down a little; and they would sometimes feel more inclined to pity than upbraid. They would find the emancipation of slaves not new, or unthought of, by the people of the South; that it is a subject, which has engaged their anxious thoughts, and caused much private and public discussion. The southerners are more willing to emancipate their slaves, than our northern people generally suppose; but the great question is, how can it with safety be done? Some of our northern people would decide this off hand. Only say "be free," and it is done. But the slaveholder believes, there are many things to be taken into consideration—self preservation, good order of society and the condition of the emancipated slave, are all to be regarded and weighed, before freedom is granted.

[Pg 240]

But I believe the slaveholders do injustice to the character of the negroes in one particular. If they were all emancipated to-day, I believe there would be no attempts made to murder the whites, as has been supposed. They are naturally a friendly, confiding race—neither ungrateful, nor insensible to kind treatment. When they have a good master, and there are many such, they become very much attached to him; and would unhesitatingly, risk their lives in his defence.

I have been in the fields, where hundreds of slaves were at work, and conversed with them.—They appeared to be well clothed and fed, and had an easy task. I thought them to be as lively, gay and happy as any set of beings on earth.

They are very fond of music, and display a good deal of ingenuity, in adapting songs to their various kinds of work and recreations. Many a night, I have raised my window, sat down and listened for hours, to the melody of their voices, in singing their harvest songs, around a pile of corn.

But the danger lies, in turning loose upon the world, a race of beings, without houses, lands, or any kind of property; who are ignorant, gay and thoughtless, and entirely unused to provide for themselves. How preposterous the idea! What rational man would think of it? They must beg, steal, plunder, or starve. If the slaves be emancipated, it must be the work of time; and provision must be made, temporarily at least, for their support.

[Pg 241]

But it is urged, that holding in bondage a human being, is wrong, and therefore, he ought to be set at liberty immediately. A person cannot do right, or repent of evil, too soon. As this applies to the slave, it may be false reasoning from just premises. Although it might be wrong for the eagle to catch the mole, and bear him aloft into the air, yet would it be right, then to let him go, when he knew the fall would dash him to pieces? The setting at liberty in such a case, would only be inevitable destruction. It would therefore be right, and not wrong, to retain possession, until liberty could be granted in safety.

That many individuals are justly chargeable with cruelty to their slaves, there can be no doubt.—Their condition is better in the old, than in the new States. But it appeared to me, that many of the acts of cruelty were negligently suffered by the master to be done, rather than inflicted by him. They are too apt to entrust their servants in the hands of ignorant overseers, who punish without judgment or mercy.

A planter informed me, he was riding along by his field one day, and observing the overseer was preparing to flog a negro, he rode up to enquire into the cause of the punishment. He was informed the negro would not work, alleging he was sick.—He asked the overseer if he had ascertained that the negro was not sick. He replied no; for he presumed it was only a pretence to get rid of work. He[Pg 242] went up to the negro, examined his pulse and tongue, and found he had a high fever. He told the negro to take a horse from the plough, and ride home, and he would come directly and see he was properly attended to. He then turned to the overseer, and told him he was not a suitable man to have the care of human beings—and discharged him on the spot.

In Texas, I saw a negro chained in a baggage wagon, for the purpose of carrying him home to his master. He told me he ran away from him, three months previous, and had all that time lived in the woods, and obtained his food by hunting. He said his master was a cruel man, flogged him unmercifully, made him work hard, and did not feed or clothe him well. At night, an axe happened to be left in the wagon, and he liberated himself and escaped. On enquiry, I found the negro's story to be true.—The master was all he had represented him to be, and his conduct was generally reprobated by the people. As I was walking on the sea shore, I again came across the negro. He recognized me at once; came to me, and begged that I would take him with me; and said he would willingly labor for me all the days of his life; but he could not return to his master. This I could not do; but was obliged to leave the negro to his fate.

There are many hardships and cruelties incidental to a state of slavery; but the cruel master is as much despised and reprobated in his own immediate[Pg 243] neighborhood, as elsewhere. It is now unpopular every where, to ill-treat the slave. His condition has generally improved; and the yoke is often made to sit so light, that it is neither felt nor thought of. But still slavery in its mildest form is attended with many moral, as well as physical evils; is wrong in principle, and contrary to the spirit of our free institutions: and I earnestly hope, that this dark spot on Freedom's bright banner may soon be blotted out forever.

But to effect such a great object as this, will require the wisdom and aid of the North and the South combined. Let "the North give up and the South keep not back;" let them amicably take counsel together; and devise some plan in which the rights, interests and feelings of all parties are nicely balanced and duly regarded.

But I see no way in which slavery can be abolished without the aid of the slaveholders. This kind of property is guaranteed to them by the supreme law of the land, and to give it up, must be a voluntary act. It appears to me, the course things are now taking at the North, instead of winning the aid of the South, tends directly to brace them against emancipation. It appears to the South, as an officious interference in their affairs, in the most offensive form.

What would we think, if the South should employ a scavenger, to pick up all the private and public acts of cruelty of the northern people; such as[Pg 244] the whipping of the boy by Arnold, the starving to death of another by Fernald, &c. &c. &c.; and then, set up a press, expressly to blazon forth these cruelties; and hire itinerant lecturers to go about and proclaim to a southern audience, in the highest strains of impassioned eloquence, the wickedness, corruptions and enormities of the citizens of the North! And say, they "had waited forty years" for the northern people to reform themselves; which was time enough, and they would wait no longer. They, therefore, were justified in holding them up to the scorn and reproach of all human kind! When the North knew, and all the world knew, they were no better than they should be at home; that they had work of reform enough near at hand; and that they had no legal right to interfere, and could have no legal action upon the subject. And although the avowed object was the reform of the northern people, yet they kept aloof from them, and hurled their poisoned arrows at a distance, alleging that they might in their patriotic zeal, so much arouse their indignation, that it would be unsafe to go near them. What would northern people say to all this! Should we say, go on, brethren! God speed! Or should we say, this is mean, cowardly business—empty boasting—gasconade! These people may not, indeed, be guilty of this particular thing of which they accuse us; and that is the very reason why they choose this subject for accusation—why they walk so proudly erect—ring all[Pg 245] the changes and make the most of it. It is to triumph over us, and build up themselves on our ruins. There is in truth, a worse kind than negro slavery—when a man becomes a slave to his own unhallowed, vindictive passions.

Much injustice has been done the southern people. Those who have travelled and dwelt among them, bear testimony to their high-mindedness, kindness and hospitality. They scorn to do an act of meanness; or to enter upon the broad field of scandal. And although their strong sensibility may sometimes lead them into error, yet in all the virtues which ennoble man, they might not suffer in a comparison with the North. If we choose to bring railing accusations against them; they may not descend to recriminate but leave us the undisputed occupants of the ground we have chosen. And we may have the sore mortification at last to find, we have uttered anathemas in vain; and brought nothing to any desirable result—that we have toiled hard, and effected nothing, but our own humiliation and disgrace.

But I must leave the subject of negro slavery.—Perhaps I have dwelt too long upon it already to comport with the design of this book. It is a great and an important subject; and to do it justice would require a volume. It is my solemn conviction however, that for the northern people to effect any thing, towards the freedom of the African race, much prudence must be exercised, and conciliatory[Pg 246] measures adopted; so as to enlist the undivided energies of the South in the great work of emancipation.


CHAPTER XXVII.

The river Mississippi, which imparts a name and character to the great valley of the West, deserves something more than a mere passing notice.—When the fertility and extent of the region through which it passes, are taken into consideration, together with the magnitude of itself and its numerous branches, it way well be pronounced the noblest river on the face of the globe.

Contrary to the general analogy of other large rivers, it directs its course from north to south. It rises in about the forty-eighth degree of north latitude, in a region having the aspect of a vast marshy valley. Its commencement is in many streams, issuing principally from wild rice lakes, and proceeds but a short distance before it becomes a large river. Sometimes, it moves silently and imperceptibly along, over a wide and muddy channel—at others, it glides briskly onward, over a sandy bottom, its waters almost as transparent as air—and again it becomes compressed to a narrow channel between high and[Pg 247] hoary limestone cliffs, and it foams and roars, as it violently lashes the projecting rocks, and struggles through.

The falls of St. Anthony, following the meanders of the stream, are three hundred miles from its source. At this place, the river is about half a mile wide, and falls in a perpendicular and unbroken sheet, between seventeen and eighteen feet.—Above the mouth of the Missouri, it receives many large tributaries, the most considerable of which are the Ouisconsin and Illinois from the east, and the Des Moines, from the west.

A little below thirty nine degrees, comes in the mighty Missouri from the west, which is a longer stream, and carries more water than the Mississippi itself. This is the largest tributary stream in the world; and from the facts, that it has a longer course, carries more water than the Mississippi, and gives its own peculiar character to the stream below their junction, many have supposed it ought to have given its name to the united stream and to the valley. In opposition to this claim, it may be stated, that the valley of the Missouri, in the grand scale of conformation, appears to be secondary to that of the Mississippi—it has not the general direction of that river, but joins it nearly at right angles—the Mississippi valley is wider than that of the Missouri, and the river is broader, and the direction of the valley and river is the same above and below the junction. From these considerations, it appears to[Pg 248] me, that the Mississippi rightfully gives its name to the united stream, and to the great valley, from its source to the sea.

The Missouri rises in the Rocky Mountains, nearly in the same parallel with the Mississippi. It is formed by three branches, which unite near the base of the principal ranges of mountains, which severally bear the names of Jefferson, Gallatin and Madison. The head waters of some of these, are so near to those of the Columbia on the other side of the mountains, that a person may drink of the waters of each, in travelling not more than a mile. After the junction of these three streams, the river continues on a foaming mountain torrent. It then spreads into a broader stream, and comparatively of a gentler current, and is full of islands.

The river, then, passes through what are called "The Gates of the Rocky Mountains." The river appears to have torn for itself a passage through the mountain. For the distance of six miles, perpendicular cliffs of dark colored rock, rise twelve hundred feet above the stream which washes their base! The chasm is not more than three hundred feet wide, and the deep, foaming waters rush through, with the speed of a race-horse. In no situation in life, does man so keenly feel his own imbecility and nothingness, as when viewing such terrible results of a war between the elements of nature. This is the most imposing and grand spectacle of the kind, to be found on the globe; and in the deep solitude of[Pg 249] the wilderness, its aspect is peculiarly awful and terrific. The mountain scenery on the Hudson near West Point; and the passage of the Potomac through the Blue Ridge, sink into utter insignificance, when compared to the rush of the Missouri, through "The Gates of the Rocky Mountains."—The mountains here, have an aspect of inexpressible loneliness and grandeur. Their summits are covered with a stinted growth of pines and cedars, among which, are seen mountain sheep, bounding along at heights apparently inaccessible.

For the distance of seventeen miles, the stream then becomes almost a continued cataract. The whole perpendicular descent in this distance, is three hundred and sixty-two feet. The first fall is ninety-eight feet—the second, nineteen—the third, forty-seven—and the fourth, twenty-six. The river continues rapid, a number of miles below; it then assumes its distinctive character—sweeps briskly along in regular curves, by limestone bluffs, boundless prairies and dense forests, to its junction with the Mississippi. It has a current of four miles an hour; but is navigable for steamboats the distance of twenty-five hundred miles.

The tributaries of Missouri are many important and large rivers; but our space will not permit a particular description of them. The most considerable of them, are the Yellow Stone, La Platte and the Osage. The Yellow Stone rises in the same range of mountains with the main river, to which[Pg 250] it has many points of resemblance. It enters the Missouri from the south, eighteen hundred miles above its mouth, and is eight hundred and fifty yards wide. It is a broad deep river, sixteen hundred miles in length, boatable, one thousand; and at the junction, appears to be the larger stream. Its shores are heavily timbered, its bottoms are wide, and of the richest soil. Its entrance has been selected by the government, as a suitable spot for a military post, and an extensive settlement.

The La Platte also rises in the Rocky mountains, enters from the south, and, measured by its meanders, has a course of two thousand miles. It is nearly a mile wide at its mouth; but, as its name imports, is a shallow stream, and not navigable, except at the high floods.

The Osage enters from the south and is a large and important stream of the Missouri. It is boatable for six hundred miles, and its head waters interlock with those of the Arkansas.

The Gasconade enters from the south also, is not a large river, but is boatable for sixty miles, and is important for having on its banks extensive pine forests, from which St. Louis and St. Charles are supplied with lumber.

The Missouri is a longer river than the Mississippi, measured from its highest source to the Gulf of Mexico; and although it carries less than half the breadth of that stream, it brings down a larger quantity of water. It is at all times turbid; and[Pg 251] its prodigious length of course, impetuous current, the singular and wild character of the country through which it runs, impart to it a natural grandeur, truly sublime.

In latitude thirty-six and a half degrees, the Mississippi receives from the east, the celebrated and beautiful Ohio. This is, by far, the largest eastern tributary of the Mississippi; and at the junction, and a hundred miles above, it is as wide as the parent stream. If the Mississippi rolls along its sweeping and angry waters, in more majesty—the Ohio far exceeds it in beauty, and in its calm, unbroken course. No river in the world moves along the same distance, in such an uniform, smooth and peaceful current. The river is formed by the junction of the Alleghany and Monongahela at Pittsburgh. The Ohio, at this place, is about six hundred yards wide, and it immediately assumes a broad and beautiful aspect which continues in its whole course, to the Mississippi. Beautiful and romantic streams come in, at nearly equal distances—its bottoms are of an extraordinary depth and fertility—and the configuration on its banks, has all that softness, grandeur and variety, still changing and recurring in such endless combinations, as to render a voyage down it, at all times pleasant and delightful. From Pittsburgh to the Mississippi, the distance is eleven hundred and fifty miles; and between these points, are more than a hundred islands; some of which, are of exquisite beauty, and[Pg 252] afford most pleasant situations for cottages and farms.

The valley of the Ohio is deep, varying from two to ten miles; and is bounded in the whole distance by bluffs, sometimes towering sublimely from the river bank; at others, receding two or three miles from them. Beyond these, are a singular line of hills, more or less precipitous, which are familiarly called the "Ohio hills." The bottoms of the Ohio are heavily timbered, and there are no where on its banks the slightest indications of prairie.

It would be difficult to decide at what season of the year, the Ohio has the most interesting and beautiful appearance—in the spring, when its high floods sweep along with irresistible power, and the red-bud and other early blossoms enliven its banks—or in autumn, when it passes quietly along, showing its broad and clean sand bars, and its pebbly bottom, through waters transparent as air—and when the withering leaves of the forest are painted in golden and scarlet colors along its shores. It is at all times, an interesting river, and probably, no other stream in the world can vie with it, both in utility and beauty.

Below the Ohio, the most important tributaries of the Mississippi, are White river, Arkansas and Red Rivers—all entering the stream from the west. White river rises in the Black mountains, which separate its waters from those of the Arkansas; and[Pg 253] after traversing a distance of twelve hundred miles, enters the Mississippi by a mouth, nearly four hundred yards wide. The Arkansas next to the Missouri, the largest tributary from the west, is twenty-five hundred miles in length, and is five hundred yards wide at its mouth. Its waters are at all times turbid, and when the river is full, are of a dark flame color.

Eighty miles below Natchez, comes in Red River; and although it is not generally so wide as the Arkansas, yet it has as long a course, and probably, carries as much water. Its waters are always turbid, and of a deeper red than those of the Arkansas. After receiving Red River, the Mississippi carries its greatest volume of water. This, however, continues but for a short distance. Three or four miles below the mouth of Red River, and on the same side, is the first outlet of the Mississippi. This is called Atchafalaya; and probably it carries off as much water as the Red River brings in.—But one small river enters the Mississippi below its first outlet. This is on the east side, and is called the Bayou Sarah. The only eastern outlet is a short distance below Baton Rouge. This is called Ibberville, and it passes off the waters of the Mississippi into lake Maurepas. On the west side are two more considerable outlets, called Bayou Plaquemine, and Bayou La Fourche. The Mississippi, then, passes on by New-Orleans, between unbroken banks, and discharges the remainder of its[Pg 254] waters, through four mouths, into the Gulf of Mexico.

The Mississippi is navigable for steamboats to the falls of St. Anthony—a distance of twenty-two hundred miles. These falls, although they have not the slightest claim to be compared with the celebrated Niagara, in sublimity and grandeur; yet they are interesting and impressive in the solitude and loneliness of the wilderness. As the traveller gazes at the romantic scenery around him, and listens to the solemn roar of the falls, as it echoes along the shores of the river, and dies away in the distant forest; a thrilling story is told him of the love and tragical end of a young Dacota Indian woman, whose husband had deserted her, and taken another squaw for his wife. Being a woman of keen sensibility and unconquerable attachment, in a moment of anguish and despair, she took her little children with her in a canoe, and chanted her song of love and broken vows, until they were swept over the falls, and engulfed in the waters below.—The Indians are too fond of romance, not to make the most of such an affecting incident as this.—They believe her spirit still hovers round the spot, and that her fair form is seen on bright sunny mornings, pressing her babes to her bosom, and that her voice is heard, mourning the inconstancy of her husband, amid the roaring of the waters!

Below these falls, the river swells to half a mile in width and becomes a placid, gentle and clear[Pg 255] stream, with clean sand bars, and wide and fertile bottoms. There is a rapid of nine miles, commencing just below the entrance of the river Des Moines. This impedes the progress of large steamboats, during low stages of the water. Below this rapid, the Mississippi obtains its full width, being a mile from bank to bank; and it carries this width to the mouth of the Missouri.

The Mississippi, above the junction, is a more beautiful stream even than the Ohio, somewhat more gentle in its current and a third wider. At every little distance, the traveller finds a beautiful island; and sometimes two or three, parallel to each other. Altogether, in its alternate bluffs and prairies—the calmness and transparency of its waters—the vigor and grandeur of the vegetation on its banks—it has an aspect of amenity and magnificence, which does not belong in the same extent to any other stream.

The Missouri enters by a mouth not more than half a mile wide; and the medial width of the united stream to the entrance of the Ohio, is about three quarters of a mile, from thence to the sea the medial width is a mile. This mighty tributary, rather diminishes than adds to its width; but it perceptibly increases its depth; and what is to be regretted, wholly changes its character. The Mississippi is the gentle, clear and beautiful stream no more. It borders more on the terrible and sublime, than the serene and beautiful, from the junction to[Pg 256] its mouth. The Mississippi flows gently onward, at the rate of not more than two miles an hour—the turbid Missouri pours down upon it its angry flood, at the rate of four miles an hour, and adds its own speed and peculiar character to the united stream. The Mississippi then becomes a turbid and furious mass of sweeping waters; having a boiling current, sliding banks and jagged shores.

A person, who merely takes a cursory view of the river, hardly forms an adequate idea of the amount of water it carries. Were he to descend from the falls of St. Anthony, and behold the Mississippi swallowing up the mighty Missouri, the broad Ohio, the St. Francis, White, Arkansas, and Red River, together with a hundred other large rivers of great length of course and depth of waters, without apparently increasing its size, he begins to estimate rightly the increased depth, and vast volume of water, that must roll on, in its deep channel to the sea.

In the spring floods, the usual rise of the river above the mouth of the Missouri, is fifteen feet; from that point to the mouth of the Ohio, it is twenty-five feet; below the Ohio, it is fifty feet; and, sometimes, even sixty. In the region of Natchez, the flood begins to subside. At Baton Rouge, it seldom exceeds thirty feet; and at New-Orleans it is only twelve. This declination of the flood, towards the mouth of the river, is caused by the many outlets which take off much of its surplus water, and conduct it in separate channels to the[Pg 257] sea. Were it not for this free egress of the Mississippi floods, the whole country below Baton Rouge, would become too much inundated to be habitable.

Respecting the face of the country through which the river passes, it may be remarked, that, from its source to the falls of St. Anthony, it moves on through wild rice lakes, limestone bluffs and craggy hills; and occasionally, through deep pine forests and beautiful prairies. For more than a hundred miles above the mouth of the Missouri, it would be difficult to convey a just idea of the beauty of the prairies which skirt the stream. They strike the eye as a perfect level; covered, in summer, with a luxuriant growth of tall grass, interwoven with a great variety of beautiful flowers; without a tree or shrub in their whole extent. When this deep prairie comes in to the river, on one side, a heavy timbered bottom bounds it on the other.—From the smallest elevation, the sweep of the bluffs, generally corresponding to the curves of the river, are seen in the distance, mixing with the blue arch of the sky.

The medial width of the river bottoms, above the mouth of the Missouri, is six miles; thence, to the entrance of the Ohio, it is about eight miles; and from this point to New-Orleans, the Mississippi swamp varies from thirty to fifty miles. The last stone bluffs, seen in descending the river, are thirty miles above the mouth of the Ohio.

[Pg 258]

Below the Ohio, the high banks are generally composed of a reddish clay. The river almost invariably, keeps the nearest to the eastern shore, leaving much the largest portion of its swamp on its west side; but, sometimes, on the east, the river is about twenty miles from the high bank on that side. It continually moves in a circle; alternately sweeping to the right, and then to the left. These sections of circles, measured from point to point, vary from six to twelve miles; but it sometimes makes almost a complete circle. In one instance, it sweeps round the distance of thirty miles, and comes within a mile of completing the circle, and meeting its own channel again. Although the stream hurries on with the speed of a giant, yet it does not seem to be really in earnest to "go ahead." It appears to be more disposed to gambol about, and display its power in its own ample bottom, than to pass directly on, to its destined port. Like an overgrown and froward child, its sportiveness is dangerous and destructive. It makes terrible havoc with every thing with which it comes in contact. It tears up large quantities of earth in one place, and deposites it in another. It undermines its own bank, and lets acres of stately forest trees slide into its deep channel—it wears away its deep bends, so as to make its course still more and more circuitous—and again, as if it were tired of its own sportiveness in harrassing the forest, it cuts through the small segment of a circle remaining, leaves a long[Pg 259] bend of still water, and its jaded shores at rest. The river, in its serpentine course, hits the high bank at twelve different places, on the eastern shore. These are, at the Iron banks, Chalk banks, the three Chickasaw bluffs, Memphis, Walnut hills, Grand and Petit gulf, Natchez, Loftus heights, and Baton Rouge. At only one place, it comes in contact with the high bluff on the western side; and this is at the St. Francis hills.

Although the river is a mile in width, yet it is so serpentine in its course, that a person travelling upon it, can see but a few miles ahead. The strongest current is next the concave shore; and here also is the deepest water. A third part of the river measured in a direct line across it, would average eighty feet in depth, from thence it grows more and more shoal to the other shore.

In the spring flood, the Mississippi overflows the whole bottom, so that then, it becomes a stream fifty miles in width. It shows a breadth of a mile only, and the remainder is concealed from the eye, by the dense forest which broods over it. The mud and sand, brought down by the flood, deposites itself the most freely, near the river; so that the highest part of the bottom will be next the stream. In the time of the flood, the water barely covers the immediate shore of the river; from thence the water becomes deeper and deeper towards the bluff which bounds the bottom. The depth of the flood, then, may be thus stated—the channel, one[Pg 260] hundred and thirty feet—its immediate bank barely covered with water, and next to the bluffs, which may be twenty miles from the channel, from twelve to twenty feet in depth. When the flood in a measure subsides, the sad havoc its waters have made begins to appear. Huge piles of flood wood, wrecks of flat boats, and occasionally, of animals, are thrown together in one promiscuous mass. The stream is filled with snags and sawyers. And the destruction of its immediate banks is still going on. The deep and solemn sound of land slips are often heard. Acres of the stately forest are precipitated into the river, new channels are made, many islands are formed; and the steamboat pilot, who had become a complete master of the intricate mazes of the channel, finds, that he must learn his lesson over again.

All of the hundred rivers that form the Mississippi, at the time of high water, are more or less turbid; but at low water some of them are clear.—The Upper Mississippi is quite transparent, but its waters are slightly of a blackish color. The Missouri is at all times turbid. It is of a whitish color, resembling water mixed with fresh ashes; and it gives its own color to the stream below its mouth. The Ohio is clear, but its waters have the appearance of being slightly tinged with green. The Arkansas and Red River are at all times as turbid as the Missouri, but their waters are of a bright redish color. After the Mississippi has received[Pg 261] these two rivers, it loses something of its whiteness, and becomes slightly tinged with red.

The Mississippi, in show of surface, will hardly compare with the St. Lawrence; but, undoubtedly, it carries the greatest mass of water, according to its width, of any river on the face of the globe.—From the large quantity of earth it holds in suspension, and continually deposites along its banks, it will always be confined within a narrow and deep channel. Were it a clear stream, it would soon scoop out for itself a wide channel, from bluff to bluff. In common with most of its great tributaries, it widens as it ascends; being wider above the mouth of the Missouri, with a tenth part of its water, than it is in the region of New-Orleans. In the same manner, Arkansas and Red River are wider, a thousand miles up their streams, than they are at their mouths.

No thinking mind can view with indifference, the mighty Mississippi, as it sweeps round its bends from point to point, and rolls on its resistless wave, through dark forests, in lonely grandeur to the sea. The hundred shores laved by its waters—the long course of its tributaries; some of which are already the abodes of cultivation, and others pursuing an immense course without a solitary dwelling of civilized man—the numerous tribes of savages that now roam on their borders—the affecting and imperishable traces of generations that are gone, leaving no other memorials of their existence, but their[Pg 262] stately mounds, which rise at frequent intervals along the valley—the dim, but glorious anticipations of the future—these are subjects of deep thought and contemplation, inseparably connected with a view of this wonderful river.


CHAPTER XXVIII.

We were three days sailing down the river. Just at night the pilot came aboard, took us over the bar at the southwest pass, and we put out to sea, with a strong fair wind from the northwest. The muddy waters of the Mississippi are seen far out to sea, even after you lose sight of the land. There was another passenger besides myself; and the violent rolling of the vessel soon made us dreadfully seasick. This, with me, lasted but three days; but the other passenger was sick during the whole voyage, and suffered incalculable pain and distress.

There are many things disagreeable to a landsman in a voyage at sea. And in the first place, the rolling of the vessel. This is always disagreeable, but often it is so vehement that you cannot stand, walk or sit without much caution and trouble. While food is eaten, you must hold on to the plate with one hand, and wield the knife with the other, and[Pg 263] this is often done at the imminent hazard of "marring the corners" of the mouth. Sometimes, in spite of all exertion, a sudden lurch will throw you off the balance, and you get a bowl of hot coffee in your lap. And then, at night, you are tossed to and fro in the berth, so that you cannot soundly sleep, and arise in the morning more fatigued than when you laid down.

And this motion of the vessel produces seasickness—an affliction exceedingly grievous to be borne. I had been seasick ten or a dozen times in my life, and this was the third time on my present tour; and I tried all the precautionary means I had ever heard of, but without any beneficial effect. Could any effectual remedy be discovered, it would save a vast amount of human distress.

The shoreless ocean, seen day after day, affords but a dull and barren prospect to a landsman. The only variety seems to be, when a storm arises; and then it puts on such a terrific form, that the sublimity of the scene cannot be fully enjoyed. We had a severe blow off the coast of Florida; but the shivering of sails, and the mountains of foam dashing over our frail bark, caused fear to predominate over every other sensation.

The complete and rapid change of the scene at sea, is sometimes very striking. We would be quietly sailing along with a gentle breeze, just enough to fill the sails, and keep the vessel in motion on her course; when all at once a violent squall arises,[Pg 264] suddenly strikes the ship, whizzes through the rigging, fills the sails to bursting, and drives her rapidly on, through billows of foam. The captain stands upon the quarter-deck, gives his orders through the speaking trumpet—the sailors run aloft, cling to the yards and take in sail. The contrast is indeed great. One moment, all is calm and quiet; the next, all is uproar and confusion; and could one feel entirely at ease, it would be a great source of amusement, during a long voyage.

But a sailor's life is one of care, hardship, watchfulness and anxiety. Our captain would walk the deck for hours, anxiously watching the whole circle of the horizon—the appearance of the clouds and the direction of the wind. Of a sudden, he would stop short, call all hands, order the light sails taken in, and close-reefed those that remained; when to my unpractised eye, there was no cause of alarm, or appearance of a change of weather. But the result would invariably show the correctness of his opinion. In no one instance, did he prematurely take in sail, nor did the squall ever come and "catch him napping."

The third day out, from the mouth of the river, we saw the highlands of Cuba. On the fifth, the Sand Key lighthouse, on the Florida shore. We saw no other land on the voyage, except a small island on the Little Bahama Banks, until we came in full view of the village of Chatham, fifty miles south of Boston. The wind became fair, the weather thick[Pg 265] and rainy. The next day, twenty miles out, the pilot came aboard, and we run safely into Boston harbor. We had been just twenty-five days from New-Orleans—a distance of twenty-five hundred miles. We had experienced all the varieties of a sea voyage—light winds, calms, strong breezes and storms—and now, with no small degree of pleasure, I again set my foot on terra firma.

The following day, I took the stage and arrived home at Exeter; having been absent about five months, and having travelled by land and water the distance of eight thousand miles. I passed over the whole route without arms, and at no time did I feel the need of any. I was uniformly well treated; and often received kind attentions, and formed many acquaintances whom I left with regret, and shall remember with gratitude.

The weather had generally been mild and pleasant. The greatest indication of cold weather I found on the whole trip, was a slight frost. On returning at once to the region of severe cold weather, I found it exceedingly oppressive. Our northern winters are indeed long, severe and crabbed; and were the people as crabbed as the climate, life would become altogether intolerable. But the southern and western climate is far more bland and mild, and much more grateful to the feelings, than ours; and this, together with the facility of obtaining all the necessaries and conveniences of life, induces me to believe that a much greater amount of comfort and happiness may there be enjoyed.


[Pg 266]

CHAPTER XXIX.

And now, from this spot, I may be allowed to take a hasty, retrospective glance at the great Western Country. It stretches from the Gulf of Mexico to the northern limits of the United States; and from the Alleghany, to the Rocky mountains—a distance of three thousand miles; showing a broad surface of earth, equal in extent to the Atlantic ocean itself. Between these bold and primitive barriers, a country is exhibited, every where bearing the marks of a secondary formation. The valleys, bluffs and hills—the regular lamina of stone, strata of marine shells,—and, indeed, all the physical aspects of the country, wear the appearance of once having been the bed of a vast lake, or an inland sea.

From this circumstance of its recent formation, and the large quantities of decomposed lime stone mixed with the soil, result another attribute of this valley—its character of uncommon fertility. It is not indeed every where alike fertile. There are here, as else where, infinite varieties of soil, from the richest alluvions, to the most sterile flint knobs—from the impervious cane brakes, to the sandy pine hills. There are, too, towards the Rocky moun[Pg 267]tains, large tracts that have a surface of sterile sands, or covered only with a scanty vegetation of weeds and coarse grass. But of the country in general, the most cursory observer must have remarked, that, compared with lands in other regions apparently of the same character, these show marks of singular fertility. The most ordinary oak lands, will bring successive crops of Indian corn and wheat, without manuring, and with but little care of cultivation. The pine lands, which appear so sterile to the eye, have in many places, produced good crops for years, without the aid of manure.

There is another remarkable trait in the soil of this valley—its power to support vegetation under the severest drought. It is a fact so notorious that it has become proverbial, that if there be moisture enough to make the corn germinate and come up, there will be a good crop, if no rain fall until harvest. The eastern emigrant witnesses with astonishment, the steady advance of his crop to vigorous maturity, under a pressure of drought, and a cloudless ardor of sun, that must have parched up the fields, and destroyed vegetation at the East.

The Alleghany mountains, which form the eastern boundary of this great valley, are composed of many ridges, which run parallel to each other with remarkable regularity. The middle ridge is generally the most elevated, and separates the waters of the Atlantic, from those that flow into the Mississippi. Soon after passing the summit of the prin[Pg 268]cipal mountains, the waters of the Ohio begin to be heard, as they dash along over a precipitous and rocky channel, seeking a spot to escape from the craggy hills, to the plains below.

After descending the last mountain ridge towards the valley, the country is still a succession of high hills, generally rounded smoothly down their sides, having more or less table land on their summits.—Those portions of Pennsylvania and Virginia, which belong to the Mississippi Valley; the eastern parts of Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee, are generally hilly, and sometimes even mountainous. In Alabama, the hills begin to subside. The features of the country too, begin, manifestly to change. The landscape wears a different aspect. Instead of the oaks, whitewood and sycamore, we begin to hear the breeze among the tops of long leaved pines.—A long succession of pine hills and fertile valleys succeed each other; the timber becoming less and less, until we meet the extensive prairies, or savannas of Florida.

Approaching the lakes, the country becomes quite level. At the northern sections of Ohio, Indiana and Illinois, near the borders of the lakes, the surface, in some places, becomes so marshy and low, as to be covered, in winter and spring, with water from three or four inches to a foot in depth. The eastern part of Ohio is hilly, but the western portion sensibly becomes more and more level. The Ohio river originally rolled on in its whole course, through[Pg 269] an unbroken forest; but as we approach the eastern boundary of Indiana, we begin to discover the first indications of prairie. In the western part of the State of Ohio, small and detached prairies are only found. In Indiana, the proportion of prairie is far greater, and in Illinois it far exceeds the timbered land. North of the State of Illinois, pine hills, ponds, marshes, woodland and prairie, alternate to the head waters of the Mississippi.

The surface of the country west of the Mississippi, is generally much more level than the valley east of it. There are bluffs to be sure, often high and precipitous, near the courses of the large rivers; and some portion of the country, near the Mississippi, is covered with flint knobs—singular hills of a conical shape, which, with a base of not more than a third of a mile in diameter, sometimes rise to the height of four or five hundred feet; and are covered with coarse gravel and flint stones. There are also, as in the country between the St. Francis and White rivers, high hills, which might well be called mountains. A spur of the Alleghany mountains, seems to come in to the Mississippi at the Chickasaw bluffs, and to be continued to the west of the river, in the St. Francis hills. But between the Mississippi and the Rocky mountains, a distance of twenty-five hundred miles, the general surface of the country is one vast plain, probably the largest on the face of the globe. Except the bluffs of the rivers, and flint knobs, the whole surface is entirely[Pg 270] free from stones. On the lower courses of the Missouri, St. Francis, White, Arkansas and Red rivers, we find extensive bottoms of inexhaustible fertility covered with a dense forest; and occasionally a rich prairie, teeming with vegetation. But as we ascend these rivers, the timber becomes less and less, until, at last, we find the prairies coming in to the river banks. As the traveller recedes from the narrow and fertile belt on the streams, he finds the prairies becoming more and more dry and sterile—destitute of wood and water, and, sometimes, of all vegetation. He finds himself on a boundless waste of prairies; stretching out before him, far beyond the reach of vision; and here, he may wander for days, without finding either wood or water, and whichever way he may turn his eyes, he beholds an ocean of grass bounding the horizon. In advancing westward, he, at length, catches a glimpse of the Rocky mountains, pencilled like clouds on the blue arch of the sky. These mountains rise in lofty grandeur, twelve thousand feet above the grassy plains at their base; and some of the peaks, are supposed to be eighteen thousand feet above the level of the sea. They appear at a distance, to present an unbroken front, and to form an insuperable barrier between the Mississippi valley, and the shores of the Pacific ocean. On a nearer inspection, they are found to be, like the Alleghany mountains composed of a number of parallel ridges; and following up the streams, as they escape from the mountains,[Pg 271] tolerable paths are found to cross them. A late traveller crossed these mountains, by following up the river Platte to its source; and from thence, down the stream that falls into Lake Bueneventura, on the western side. He states that the ascent was no where any greater than on the National road, over the Cumberland mountains. He even asserts, that the ascent was not more than three degrees; and that nature has provided a practical and good road, quite down to the plains of the Columbia.

These ranges of mountains cover a wide extent of country; and here, the principal rivers that fall into the Mississippi, have their sources. Some of these rivers wind three or four hundred miles among the mountains, before they find a passage to the plains below. The ranges at the sources of the Arkansas, and extending southward towards the Gulf of Mexico, bear the name of the Masserne mountains. A single peak of this ridge, seen at immense distances over the adjacent plains, rising into the blue atmosphere above the region of clouds, is called mount Pike. Near this mountain, the Colorado of the Pacific, the Rio del Norte of the Gulf of Mexico, the Yellow Stone of the Missouri, and the Arkansas and Red rivers of the Mississippi, have their sources. Mount Pike must therefore, be the highest point of land of this part of North America.

The Rocky mountains are at present too little known to be accurately and particularly described. They are hundreds of miles beyond the limits of[Pg 272] cultivation, and the usual haunts of civilized man. They will for ages only attract the gaze and astonishment of wandering hunters, and adventurous travellers, who will thread the mazes of their deep gullies, as they pursue their journey to the western sea. Many of the ranges, and peaks are black, ragged and precipitous; and around their bases are strewn huge fragments of rock, detached by earthquakes and the hand of time. From this iron bound and precipitous character, they probably received the appellation of "Rocky mountains."

The general surface of the Mississippi Valley may be classed under three distinct heads—the dense forest, the barrens, or oak openings, and the prairies. In the first division, every traveller must have remarked, as soon as he descends to this valley, a grandeur in the form and size of the trees, a depth of verdure in the foliage, and a magnificent prodigality of growth, that distinguishes this, from every other country. The trees are large and straight, and rise aloft in stately columns, free from branches, to a great height. In the rich bottoms, they are generally wreathed with a drapery of ivy and grape vines; and these vines have sometimes trunks as large as the human body. Frequently, these forests are as free from any undergrowth as an orchard of apple trees. Sometimes the only shrub seen among the tall trees, is the beautiful pawpaw, with its splendid foliage and graceful stems. In the rich alluvions of the southern section, impenetrable[Pg 273] cane brakes, tangles of brambles, and a rank growth of weeds, are often found beneath the forest trees; and their lofty branches are hung with large festoons of Spanish moss. These are the safe retreats of the bears, panthers, and other wild beasts of the forest.

Such forest trees only will be noted, as are not found in our northern climate. It may be proper to remark, that the white pine of New-England is only found in the upper section of the Mississippi valley—the pitch pine is found in various places on the high lands, throughout its whole extent; although not on the banks of the streams of water.

The cypress is seen on overflowed and swampy land from the mouth of the Ohio to the gulf of Mexico. It is strikingly singular in its appearance. Under its deep shade, arise a multitude of cone shaped posts, called 'cypress knees.' They are of various sizes and heights. The largest generally seen are about a foot in diameter at the bottom, two or three inches at the top, and six feet in height. The bark is smooth, and grows over the top end the same as at the sides. The ground, in a cypress swamp, looks as though tapering posts of all imaginable sizes had been set there at random; and are sometimes so thick that it is difficult to ride among them. It has been supposed that these knees are but the commencement of large trees, and there is some reason for this belief; for the tree itself has a buttress that looks exactly like an enlarged cypress knee. A full sized cypress is ten feet in diameter[Pg 274] at the ground, but it tapers so rapidly that in ascending eight feet, it is not more than about two feet in diameter; from thence, it rises in a straight smooth column, eighty feet, without any apparent diminution of its size; it then branches off at once in all directions, and forms a level surface of foliage at the top. A forest of cypress looks like a scaffolding of deep green verdure suspended in the air.—The timber is clear of knots, easily wrought, durable, and is the most valuable timber tree in all the southern country.

The live oak is only found near the sea coast. It does not grow tall, but runs out into long lateral branches, looking like an immense spread umbrella. The leaf is small and evergreen. It bears an abundance of acorns, which are small, long and a good deal tapering at each end. Its timber is hard to cut, and will immediately sink in water.

The peccan is of beautiful form and appearance, and makes excellent timber for building and rails. It bears a round nut about an inch and a half long and half an inch in diameter. It excels all other nuts in the delicacy of its flavor.

The black locust is an excellent timber tree, and is much used in the building of steamboats. Its blossoms yield an exquisite perfume. The white locust is similar to that of the north.

The black walnut is a splendid tree and grows to a great size. It is much used in finishing houses and in cabinet furniture. It produces a nut very[Pg 275] similar to the northern butternut; but the meat is not very palatable. The white walnut is also plenty, as are the various kinds of hickory.

The sycamore is the largest tree of the western forest. One of these trees near Marietta measures fifteen feet in diameter. Judge Tucker of Missouri fitted up a hollow section of a sycamore for an office.

The yellow poplar is a splendid tree and next in size to the sycamore. Its timber is very useful for building and rails. Its blossoms are gaudy bell-shaped cups, and the leaves are of beautiful forms. The cotton-wood is universally found in all the southern country below the mouth of the Ohio. It is a tree of the poplar class, and somewhat resembles the whitewood of the more northern regions. It is a large stately tree and sometimes measures twelve feet in diameter. One tree has been known to make more than a thousand rails. It derives its name from the circumstance, that when its blossoms fall, it scatters on the ground something much resembling, in feeling and appearance, short ginned cotton.

The catalpa is found in the region of the cotton-wood. It is remarkable for the great size of its deep green leaves, and its rounded tuft of beautiful blossoms of unequalled fragrance. Its seed is contained in a pod about two feet in length, much resembling a bean pod. As an ornamental tree it is unrivalled. In gracefulness of form, grandeur of[Pg 276] its foliage, and rich, ambrosial fragrance of its blossom, it is incomparably superior to all the trees of the western world.

The magnolia has been much overrated, both as to the size of the tree and blossom also. It grows up tall and slim; the largest, about two feet in diameter; smooth whitish bark; and slightly resembling the northern beech. Its leaves are of a deep green, small and evergreen. Its blossom is of a pure white, much resembling, although twice the size, of a northern pond lilly. The fragrance is indeed powerful, but rather disagreeable.

There are half a dozen species of laurels; the most beautiful of which, is the laurel almond. It grows to the size of the pear tree; the leaves resemble those of the peach; its blossoms yield a most delicious perfume; and its foliage continues green all the year. It is found in the valley of the Red River.

There is a striking and beautiful tree found on the head waters of the Washita and in the interior of Arkansas, called bow-wood, from the circumstance that the Indians use it for bows. It bears a large fruit of most inviting appearance, much resembling a very large orange. But although beautiful to the eye, it is bitter to the taste. It has large and beautiful leaves, in form and appearance much like those of the orange, but much larger. The wood is yellow like fustic, and it produces a similar dye. It is hard, heavy and durable, and is supposed[Pg 277] to be more incorruptible than live oak, mulberry, cypress, or cedar. Above the raft on Red River, the hulk of a steamboat has been built entirely of its timber.

The China tree is not a native of this country, but is much cultivated in the southern regions of the valley for ornament and shade. It has fine long spiked leaves, eight or ten inches in length, set in pairs on each side of a stem two feet long. In the flowering season, the tree is completely covered with blossoms. It bears a small reddish berry, which continues on the tree a long time after the leaves have fallen, and gives it, even then, an interesting appearance. It is a tree of more rapid growth than any known in this country.

The pawpaw is not only the most graceful and pleasing in appearance of all the wild fruit-bearing shrubs, but throws into the shade those cultivated by the hand of man. The leaves are long, of a rich green color, and much resemble the leaves of the tobacco plant. The stem is straight, white, and of unrivalled beauty. The fruit resembles the cucumber, but smoother and more pointed at the ends.—There are from two to five in a cluster; and when ripe are of a rich beautiful yellow. The fruit contains from two to six seeds, double the size of the tamarind. The pulp resembles egg custard. It has precisely the same feeling in the mouth, and unites the taste of eggs, cream, sugar, and spice. It is a natural custard; but too rich and highly seas[Pg 278]oned to be much relished by most people. So many whimsical and unexpected tastes are compounded in the fruit, that a person of the most sober face, when he first tastes of it, unconsciously relaxes into a smile.

The persimon is found in Missouri, and in the region to the south of it. Its leaves resemble those of the wild cherry, and it grows about the size of the pear tree. The fruit is of the size of a common grape, in which are similar small seeds. It ripens about the middle of autumn. The fruit is of a yellowish purple color, and it is too sweet to be agreeable to many people.

In the middle regions, on some of the prairies, large tracts are covered with the crab-apple tree.—Their appearance is like the cultivated apple tree, although the fruit and the tree are much smaller.—It makes good cider and preserves, but is too tart to be eaten in its natural state.

The white and black mulberry are both found in the Mississippi valley, but the black is by far the most common. It has been satisfactorily proved, however, that the silk worm will thrive and produce well, upon the black mulberry.

Cane brake is seen on the banks of the Mississippi soon after you leave the mouth of the Ohio. It generally grows from fifteen to twenty feet in height; but in the rich bottoms near Natchez it sometimes attains the height of thirty feet. It is five years coming to maturity, and then produces[Pg 279] an abundant crop of seed, on heads much resembling broom corn. It is an evergreen. The leaves are three or four inches long, but narrow and sharp pointed. It is much used for reeds and fishing rods. They grow so very thick that it is difficult for a man to make head way among them. When they are cut down and become dry, they burn freely.—The negroes have fine sport in burning them. The heat rarifies the air in the hollow between the joints and causes them to burst with a noise like a gun; so that when a large quantity of them are set on fire, the noise is like a continued discharge of musketry.

The "barrens" have a distinct and peculiar configuration. The surface is generally undulating with gentle hills—sometimes of a conical form, but generally, running in parallel ridges. The soil is of a clayey texture, of a reddish or greyish color, and is covered with tall coarse grass. The trees are neither large nor very small; and are scattered over the surface, at the distance of two or three rods from each other. They are chiefly of the different kinds of oaks, and from this circumstance, these barrens are, in many places, called "oak openings." The soil never exceeds second rate, and is often only third rate; but it will produce good crops of corn and wheat for many years, without the aid of manure. There are large tracts of this kind of land in Kentucky, Tennessee and Alabama. They are common in Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, Missouri,[Pg 280] Arkansas and Texas; and, indeed, they are seen with more or less frequency over a large portion of the Mississippi valley.

The 'pine barrens' are covered with a beautiful growth of long leaved pines. They run up tall, in a straight shaft, generally about two feet in diameter, and are excellent for timber. The surface is gently undulating; sometimes, approaching a dead level, and is covered with a scanty growth of weeds and grass. The soil is sandy, but sometimes slightly tinged with reddish clay. It is supposed to be weak and unproductive; but some of these 'barrens' have produced two or three good crops of grain, without being enriched by manure. Large districts of this kind of land are found in Alabama, Mississippi and Arkansas; and they are common in Florida, and in some sections of Louisiana and Texas.

The remaining, and by far the most extensive surface of the valley, is that of the prairies. Although they have not much diversity of aspect, yet they may be classed under three general heads—the alluvial, or wet, the bushy, and the dry prairies. The bushy prairies seem to be of an intermediate character between the alluvial prairies and the barrens. They have springs of water, covered with hazel and furzy bushes, small sassafras shrubs and grape vines. Acres of this shrubbery are sometimes found covered with the common hop vine. Prairies of this description are very common in Indiana,[Pg 281] Illinois and Missouri; and they alternate among the other prairies, for some distance towards the Rocky mountains.

The wet prairies form the smallest division. They are generally found on the margin of streams; but sometimes, they occur, with all their distinctive features, far from the spot where waters now run. They are generally basins, as it regards the adjacent regions, and possess a deep, black soil of exhaustless fertility. They are the best soils for wheat and Indian corn; but, ordinarily, too tender and loamy for the cultivated grasses. In a native state, they are covered with grass and weeds of astonishing height and luxuriance. They are often higher than a man's head, when mounted on horse back. An exact account of the size and rankness of the weeds, flowering plants, and wild grass on the rich alluvial prairies of Illinois and Missouri, would appear to those who have never seen them, like an idle tale. Still more than the rolling prairies, they strike the eye as a dead level, but they generally have a slight inclination, sufficient to carry off the water.

The dry prairies are generally destitute of springs and bushes, but are covered with weeds, flowering plants and wild grass. The roundings of their undulations are so gentle, that to the eye, taking in a large surface at a single view, they appear as a dead level; but in travelling over them their undulations fully appear. The ravines and gullies occa[Pg 282]sionally found, fully indicate, that they have a sufficient inclination to communicate a quick motion to the waters, which fall upon them. This is by far the largest class of prairies in the western country. Prairies of this description are frequently found in Illinois; the largest of which, called "grand prairie," is a hundred miles in length, by fifty in breadth. They are often found in Indiana, Missouri and Texas; but they appear displayed on a magnificent scale, between the western border of the State of Missouri, and the Rocky mountains. Here, are the appropriate ranges for the buffalo, wild cattle and horses. Here are the plains, without wood or water, where the traveller may wander for days, and see the sun rise and set in an ocean of grass. Here he may travel, day after day, under a cloudless ardor of the sun, and not find a stream of water to slake his thirst, or a solitary tree for shelter and shade.

The general aspect of the Mississippi valley, in regard to woodland and prairies, may in a summary manner, be thus stated:—The surface, in a state of nature, from the Alleghany mountains to the western border of Ohio, is covered with a dense forest. Here, are the first indications of prairies. Proceeding westward through Indiana, Illinois and Missouri, the prairies become larger and more frequent, until at last, it becomes all prairie to the base of the Rocky mountains. It is a fact, beyond all question, that more than half of the great Mis[Pg 283]sissippi valley is smooth prairie, entirely destitute of timber. Large portions of the valley will support a dense population, and become inhabited; but the larger prairies will remain uncultivated for ages. They are fit haunts only for the adventurous hunter, or the wandering shepherd.

During the season of vegetation, no adequate idea can be conveyed by description, of the number, forms, varieties, scents and hues of the flowering plants on the western prairies. The violet, and the more humble and modest kinds of flowers, which show their blossoms in early spring, not being able to compete with the rank grass and weeds around them, soon become choked and lost to the view; but the taller and more hardy kinds, successfully struggle for display, and rear their heads high enough to be seen. They have tall and arrowy stems, spiked or tassellated heads, and the blossoms are of great size, grandeur and splendor, but not much delicacy of fragrance. As the season advances, distinct successions of dominant hues prevail. In spring, the prevalent color of the prairie flowers, is bluish purple—in midsummer, red, slightly tinged with yellow—in autumn, yellow. At this season of the year, the flowers are very large, generally, of the sunflower form, and they are so profusely scattered over the prairies, as to present to the imagination an immense surface of gilding.

And this country of dense forests and rich prairies, is intersected with large and navigable rivers.[Pg 284] These, alive as they are with their steamboats, keel and flat boats, afford great facilities for travelling, and for the transportation of merchandize and produce. The prairies and woodland also, present great facilities for travelling, and the transportation of goods. They are often, in a state of nature, so smooth, so gently undulating, and of such an unbroken surface, that carriages may run over them without interruption or delay.

Such are the general outlines and features of the great Mississippi valley; but a complete description would require volumes. Nature has laid off her work here, upon a magnificent scale, and finished it with a liberal hand. Its natural productions are rich and abundant. Its waters abound with fish—its soil teems with an exuberance of trees, plants and blossoms—rich mines lie emboweled beneath the surface—and wild game are profusely scattered over its prairies, woodland and rivers. To the husbandman, it presents itself in a more attractive aspect, than the granite hills and rocky soil of New-England. It has increased in population and wealth, incomparably greater than any other section of the world; and ere long, it will contain a majority of the population of the United States.

And now, it only remains, most respectfully to take leave of my readers. Those who have traced the TRIP TO THE WEST AND TEXAS through the foregoing pages, I hope, may have enjoyed all its pleasures, without incurring its attendant hardships and fatigue.


[Pg 285]

APPENDIX.

Territory of Michigan.

This Territory is bounded by the national boundary line on the east and north, by the Mississippi river on the west, and by the States of Illinois, Indiana and Ohio on the south. These boundaries include a vast extent of territory; but as that portion of it which lies to the north and west of Lake Michigan and the State of Illinois is for the most part a wilderness, having only some small settlements on Green Bay, the Milwake and Mississippi, my remarks will be confined to that part of it commonly called the peninsula, lying between lakes Erie and Michigan.

Population.—This territory is estimated by good judges to contain between thirty-five and forty thousand inhabitants. The rapid and increasing tide of emigration into it, induces the belief that it will soon be admitted as a State into the Union. Its pres[Pg 286]ent and increasing importance may be in a great measure attributed to the enterprising, active and energetic talents of its late governor, Lewis Cass, the present Secretary of War. His personal exertions and enlightened policy, not only facilitated its settlement, but developed its vast and various resources. A large portion of its inhabitants are from New-York and the Eastern States, and are as active and industrious as those are in the sections of country from which they came. They make rapid improvements; and in a few years, the country will not be behind the flourishing State of Ohio, in farms and villages.

Face of the Country.—That part immediately bordering on lakes Erie, St. Clair and Huron, and their connecting waters, is generally rather level and heavily timbered, but somewhat deficient in good water. In the interior, it becomes gently undulating, occasionally well timbered, and interspersed with oak openings, plains and prairies. The plains are frequently covered with such a regular, beautiful and thrifty growth of timber, so free from underbrush, as to wear the aspect of a cultivated forest. They are more easily improved than the heavy timbered land, and produce full as well. The openings are often rather deficient in timber, though they are not unfrequently skirted with plains, or contain patches of woodland, from which an ample supply may be obtained, not only for fuel, but for building, fencing and all other fanning purposes, if[Pg 287] used with economy. They usually require but little, and sometimes no labor to prepare them for the plough; three or four yoke of cattle are found to be amply sufficient to break them up the first time, after which they are cultivated with nearly as much ease as old improved lands. They are found to be excellent for wheat, to improve by cultivation, and usually to produce a good crop of corn the first season.

The prairies generally support a heavy growth of grass—are free from timber, and may be divided into two classes. One is called dry, and the other is denominated wet prairies. The former possess a rich soil, are easily cultivated, and generally yield in rich abundance almost every kind of produce which might be expected to flourish in forty-two degrees north latitude, especially those on St. Joseph's river. And the latter often prove serviceable, not only in affording early pasture, but in supplying the emigrant with the means of wintering his cattle; and may with a little labor, frequently be made to yield an abundant supply of excellent hay. The interior of the territory is well watered with rivers, creeks and small lakes; many of which contain an unusual quantity of fish. There are several salt springs, which have not yet been tried nor improved, situated in different parts of the territory, all of which have been reserved by the United States; but it is not certain that any of them will prove very valuable. By boring a number of feet, the water would[Pg 288] improve, and might, in some cases at least, not only justify the erection of extensive works for the manufacture of salt, but prove also a source of revenue to the United States, as well as afford to the manufacturer the means of accumulating wealth.

The surveyed part of the territory is laid out by the United States into townships of six miles square, which are divided into thirty-six sections or square miles, containing each six hundred and forty acres. These are subdivided, by imaginary lines, into quarter and half quarter sections; the latter of which contain each eighty acres, is the smallest quantity sold by the United States, and may, as well as the larger tracts, be selected by the purchaser. Though there is a small tract of land which proves rather unhealthy at the mouth of Huron, Saginaw and Rouge rivers, as well as at the mouth of Brownstown and Swan creeks, owing to the sluggishness of the water at the outlet of these streams, yet the climate of the surveyed part of the territory is mild, lying between forty-one degrees thirty-nine minutes, and forty-two degrees thirty-four minutes north latitude. The air is salubrious, and the water generally clear. The soil, which produces in rich abundance wheat rye, barley, oats, peas, beans, Indian corn, and potatoes, as well as all kinds of vegetables usually cultivated in the same latitude, consists of such a variety, that it cannot fail to suit the choice of almost every person in the pursuit of agriculture. Fruit, of course, has not yet been tested in the interior,[Pg 289] for the want of time, except peaches, which do exceedingly well; but if I may be permitted to draw an inference, from the quality of the various kinds which grow in great abundance on the French plantations, along the margin of Detroit river, as well as on other parts of the great chain of navigable waters, then I presume I shall be allowed to say, that the soil of Michigan is equal, for the production of fruit, to that of any State in the Union. The pear trees along this river, which were planted in the early settlement by the French, are remarkably large, very tall, and extremely thrifty and beautiful, and bear a most delicious fruit, which generally sells from two to four shillings per bushel. Apples, at Detroit, vary from twelve to fifty cents, and may generally be procured by the bushel, for the latter price, even in winter. Cider, in the fall, is from one and a half to two dollars per barrel, for the juice. Currants, blackberries, black and red raspberries and cherries bring from three to four cents per quart; though the earliest of these, as well as whortle berries and strawberries, command sixpence. Plumbs are scarce, because they have not been generally cultivated, though they are likewise found to do well.

The price of unsold wild land is fixed and uniform, being one dollar and twenty-five cents per acre, the terms ready money, and the title indisputable, as it comes direct from the United States, under the seal of the President. The richest, most fertile,[Pg 290] and perhaps more beautiful part of the territory, is generally thought to be adjacent to the St. Joseph's river and its various branches; which, from present appearances, bids fair to become speedily settled; settlements began to form on it a year before it was offered for sale. It only came in market in May, 1834, and such has been the influx of emigration to this part of the territory, that the Legislature in October last, formed twelve new counties, mostly thereon, and organized two of that number. This part of the territory possesses several copious mill streams, particularly Hog-creek, the Dowagiake, Christianna, Pigeon, Crooked and Portage rivers, a few of which have already been improved, by the erection of saw and grist mills. The climate of this part of the territory, though mild, is apparently more subject to wind than the valley of the Ohio river. The prevailing wind is the southwest; and as it crosses a large tract of prairie country in Illinois and Indiana, comes here with much force, and in winter is somewhat piercing. Considerable snow falls; nevertheless it is very favorable to wheat, rye, potatoes and turnips, and though not very adverse, yet not so congenial as the valley of the Ohio river, to southern corn and the more tender grains and esculents. Fruits, of course, have not yet been cultivated here, except a few apples and peaches, by the French which appear to do well.

The prairies in this quarter are of the richest soil, and may be ploughed in two days after the frost[Pg 291] leaves the ground in the spring. They usually produce thirty or forty bushels of wheat to the acre; and from thirty to eighty of corn have been raised from the same quantity of ground, in all the prairies that have as yet been occupied: four hundred acres of corn were cultivated on Beardsley's prairie last year, which having been improved the year before averaged fifty bushels to the acre. These prairies not unfrequently produce thirty or forty bushels of corn to the acre, the first season, without being ploughed or hoed after planting.

The surveyed part of the territory is divided into three United States land districts, containing each one land office; one of which is at Detroit, one at Monroe and one at Bronson, in the county of Kalamazoo.

The rivers Grand, St. Joseph, Raisin, Huron, Clinton, Rouge, Kalamazoo and Shiawassee, interlocking in different parts of the territory, not only irrigate the country in a beautiful manner, but offer unparalleled inducements for canaling, and with comparatively but little expense, as there would be no mountains, nor probably rock strata to cut through. It is already in contemplation, by means of the Grand river and Clinton, or the St. Joseph's and Raisin, to open a water communication across the peninsula, by means of a canal, which would terminate at Detroit or Monroe; and probably at no distant period, it will not only be undertaken, but will be accomplished in such a manner as to accom[Pg 292]modate both these places in this respect. A company was incorporated, by an act of the Legislature, last fall, under the title of the "Summit Portage Canal and Road Company," with a capital of ten thousand dollars, to be divided into one thousand shares of ten dollars each, for the purpose of cutting a canal west of Lake Michigan, to connect the Fox and Ouisconsin rivers at what is usually termed the Portage of the Ouisconsin, and to construct a turnpike road on said Portage, parallel to said canal; and also to construct another turnpike road from the lower extremity of the rapids of the Kaukauin, on the east side of the Fox river, on the most direct and eligible route to Winnebago lake, and for the erection of piers, wharves, warehouses and other public buildings and improvements, in and about said canal and turnpike, for commercial purposes.—Michigan extends at present west to the Mississippi river; but it is expected the territory will shortly be divided, and a new territory set off west of Lake Michigan; and organized by the name of Ouisconsin or Huron. The territory was originally owned and occupied by emigrants from France; consequently the old inhabitants or first settlers are mostly French.

Wayne County—contains about seven thousand inhabitants, many of whom are French. Its seat of justice is Detroit. Hamtranck, Detroit and Springwells. These towns, which lie in the northeast part of the country, border on Detroit river, and are rath[Pg 293]er level, and but poorly supplied with water. The northern part of the two latter is somewhat broken by marsh and wet prairie; but near the centre of Springwells is a tract, containing some excellent arable land not yet entered, lying within from six to ten miles of Detroit, where a new settlement has recently been formed, and through which a road has lately been opened, leading from Detroit to Farmington. The towns of Pekin, Nankin and Plymouth are well supplied with water by the river Rouge and its various branches, which afford several eligible mill sites, and which have already been advantageously improved by the erection thereon of saw and grist mills. Pekin is heavily timbered with white and black ash, white and black oak, beech, maple and sugar tree. The land is rolling, and the soil rich and fertile, consisting of sand, loam and some clay. The northern and southern part of the town of Nankin has much the same appearance as Pekin, though the soil is more sandy, and requires less labor to cultivate it; yet it yields quite as well; but the middle is plains and openings, of an inferior quality and soil. Plymouth has likewise a similar appearance to Pekin, though the northern part is more rolling, yet even here the timber is the same, with the addition of black walnut; but the soil is generally of a superior quality.

Huron.—This town is watered by a delightsome river, of the same name, whose waters are very transparent and abound with fish. It runs through[Pg 294] the town diagonally, exhibiting in many places rich bottom lands, often bounded on one or both sides, by high sloping banks, and not unfrequently skirted with beautiful plains. Though a great proportion of this town is rather destitute of running streams, yet the soil in general is fertile, and for the most part easily cultivated. The eastern part is oak openings and plains of a good quality, interspersed with groves of heavy timber which often contain a small black ash swamp, and sometimes a wet or dry prairie; but the south part is heavily timbered with white and black ash, white oak, beech and maple, with occasionally a whitewood. The southwest corner is low land, and contains a large wet prairie.

Brownstown is watered by the Huron river, Muddy and Brownstown creeks. The north-western part of this town is but poorly watered, and exhibits alternately oak openings, plains and prairies, occasionally interspersed with groves of heavy timber. The southeastern part is rather level and heavily timbered, except small tracts at the mouths of Huron river and Brownstown creek, which consist of prairies that are more or less inundated with water.

Montguagon embraces Gross' Isle, and is situate on Detroit river. It is gently undulating, possesses a fine quarry of limestone, and a rich soil, supporting a thrifty and heavy growth of white oak, hickory, beech, maple, white and black ash.

Monroe County—contains a population of about four thousand, many of whom are French. There[Pg 295] are three villages in this county, namely, Monroe, Frenchtown and Port Lawrence. The first of these, which is the seat of justice for the county, is a flourishing village, situate on the river Raisin, about six miles from lake Erie, and thirty-six from Detroit. The United States' turnpike, from the latter place to the Ohio State line, passes through it, and here was situated the bank of Monroe. It possesses an ample supply of water power for propelling hydraulic machinery, a part of which has already been converted to the use of saw and grist mills, as well as to the use of machines for carding and dressing cloth.

The United States have made a survey of Plaisance Bay harbor, at the mouth of the river, with a view of improving the same. Monroe is now the second village in the peninsula, as it regards population; and should they succeed in forming a good harbor at the mouth of the river, as it possesses water power, it may yet equal, if not rival Detroit. The county is generally well watered; the north-eastern part is rather level and heavily timbered; but the western and southern part is rolling land, alternately abounding in prairies, openings, or heavy groves of timber. The soil of this county is uniformly rich, and of a very superior quality.

Washtenaw County—contains about four thousand inhabitants, who are, with a few exceptions, Americans. Its seat of justice is Ann Arbor, a village of five years' growth, situate on the river Hu[Pg 296]ron, forty miles west of Detroit, containing about ninety dwelling houses. Ypsilanti, the second village in the county as to population, is likewise situate on the Huron, about ten miles below Ann Arbor, at the place where the United States' turnpike, from Detroit to Chicago, crosses it.

This county contains twelve mercantile establishments, three distilleries, one fanning mill factory, one oil factory, one gunsmith, one wagon maker, five flouring mills, thirteen saw mills, and two machines for carding and dressing cloth. It abounds in select and common schools, and contains many mechanics. Its surface is gently undulating and beautiful; and its soil prolific, consisting of a deep black sand, loam and some clay. It exhibits in succession, beautiful prairies, oak openings, and heavy groves of timber, consisting of white, red and black oak, beech, walnut, whitewood, bass, elm, maple and butternut, with almost all other kinds that usually grow in forty-two degrees north latitude, evergreen excepted. The river Huron, of lake Erie, meanders through the centre of it north and south; is navigable for boats and rafts to the lake, and with its several branches water the middle; the head waters of the Shiawassee the north, and the rivers Raisin and Saline and their branches, the south part of said county. It has numerous and extensive water privileges for facilitating manufactures.

[Pg 297]

Macomb County—contains about two thousand five hundred inhabitants, a considerable number of whom are French. The north-eastern and eastern part of this county is in general rather level, and for the most part heavily timbered; yet it is sufficiently uneven to drain off and leave no stagnant waters; but the western part is rolling land, somewhat broken, being very hilly and uneven, and consisting of oak openings, plains, and some prairie land.

The plains are remarkably free from underbrush, and are, as well as the prairies and openings, very rich and fertile, producing not only wheat, but every other kind of grain in rich abundance. The Clinton river, together with its numerous tributaries, irrigate this county in a beautiful manner. It possesses advantages over many of the peninsular counties, on account of its proximity to the great chain of navigable waters. It fronts on lake St. Clair; and the river Clinton, which runs through the entire county, nearly in the centre, may easily be rendered navigable for batteaux, as high up as Rochester. And for the accomplishment of which a company has already been formed and were incorporated last fall by an act of the Legislature. This river is now navigable to Mt. Clemens, for vessels of considerable burthen; and when the obstructions at the mouth of the river are removed, for which object an application has been made to Congress for an appropriation, then any vessels or steamboats on the lake[Pg 298] may come up to the village, a distance of six miles, by water.

This county is very well supplied with water power, it has now in operation seven saw mills, and two grist mills, and embraces four stores, three distilleries, two asheries, and six blacksmith shops. Its seat of justice is Mt. Clemens, a flourishing village situate on the Clinton river, at the place where the United States' road from Detroit to fort Gratiot crosses it. It lies four and a half miles from the lake, by land, and twenty northeastwardly from Detroit.

Washington lies in the northwest corner of the county, and consists principally of oak openings and plains, though it has some prairie land. The openings and plains are extremely free from underbrush and prove to be excellent for the cultivation of wheat. The south part of the town is rolling land, exhibiting a rich, and for the most part a sandy soil, though it is sometimes composed of sand and loam intermixed; but the north part is what is commonly called broken land, being very hilly and uneven, and not unfrequently exhibits granitic boulders in great plenty.

Shelby and Ray consist principally of gentle undulating and heavy timbered land, interspersed occasionally with oak openings. They are well watered and possess a very productive soil.

Harrison is in general rather level, and the north part though somewhat swampy is susceptible of being converted into excellent meadow.

[Pg 299]

Clinton possesses generally a rich soil, is heavily timbered and embraces a marsh or wet prairie of considerable extent on its eastern border adjacent to the lake shore, the greater part of which, however, if properly ditched, would prove to be good natural meadow. The northern part of the town is gently undulating and well supplied with water, of which the southern part is too deficient, being rather level.

Oakland County—contains about six thousand inhabitants, all Americans. It has three villages, each with a mill on its border, namely, Pontiac, Auburn and Rochester; the first of which is the seat of justice for the county, and is situated twenty-eight miles northwest of Detroit, on the Clinton river, where the United States' road from Detroit to Saginaw crosses it. This county presents a great variety of soil, and upon examination will be found to suit the choice of almost every person in the pursuit of agriculture. The rivers Clinton, Rouge and Huron, interlocking in different parts extend their many branches, and irrigate the county in a beautiful manner.

Troy embraces townships one and two south in range eleven east, is situate in the southeast quarter of the county, and is principally timbered land; township two in this town is entirely of this description, is heavily wooded with black and white walnut, linden, white, red and black oak, and the westerly half is of that description usually denominated rol[Pg 300]ling timbered land, and in quality of soil, is not surpassed by any in the territory; but township one of that description called plains, interspersed with marshes, and is of an inferior quality.

Bloomfield presents a variety of soil, which may be divided into three classes, oak openings, plains and timbered land. The country in the neighborhood of the lakes is oak openings, not so good for grass, but producing wheat in rich abundance—I would mention that two farmers in the vicinity of Wing lake, harvested one hundred and thirty acres of excellent wheat the last season. The north of Bloomfield is of this description, but the south part is timbered land.

Pontiac is generally oak openings of a good quality, but inferior to the lands of Bloomfield.

Oakland.—The south part of this town is timbered land with a rich soil, and the north part plains and openings of a good quality.

The town of Troy is watered by a branch of the Rouge, and the branches of Red river which empty into the Clinton. Bloomfield is watered by three branches of the Rouge, which, meandering through the county, enable every farmer to partake of their privileges. The towns of Pontiac and Oakland are watered by the Clinton river, Paint and Stony creeks and the extreme branches of the Huron. All these streams possess great privileges for hydraulic machinery. The towns of Pontiac and Oakland now contain twelve saw mills, four flouring mills, three[Pg 301] fulling mills, three carding machines and one woollen factory. In Bloomfield are four saw mills and one grist mill. In Farmington two saw mills and one grist mill. Perhaps no country of like extent so level possesses more water power.

St. Clair County—possesses great commercial advantages, as it lies on the great chain of navigable waters. It is bounded east by lake Huron and the river St. Clair, which separates it from Canada; south by lake St. Clair and the county of Macomb, west by the counties of Macomb and Lapeer, and north by Sanilac. Black, Pine and Belle rivers, Mill creek and their branches, as well as several smaller streams water this country. The first of these streams is navigable for vessels of considerable burthen, as far up as Mill creek; but Belle and Pine rivers are ascended only a very short distance in batteaux. This country is generally rather level, the eastern and southern part is gently undulating, rich, fertile and most heavily timbered, though there is occasionally some prairie land on the border of lake St. Clair, and along the southern margin of St. Clair river. The northern and western part of this country is comparatively of a light, and for the most part sandy soil, though tolerably productive, and interspersed with swamps and lowland. A great proportion of the timber in this quarter is pine, though it is often intermixed with hard wood and not unfrequently interspersed with groves of tamerack, in[Pg 302] some instances with spruce, and often on the shore of lake Huron, with red and white cedar.

There are now in operation in this county, several of the most extensive saw mills in the territory, which are constantly engaged in manufacturing pine boards, planks, &c. and which, together with shingles, constitute at present the principal article of trade in the country. And as lumber may be conveyed from this county by water to any port, not only on the great lakes, but on their connecting waters, therefore the pine timber must ultimately become very valuable. Almost all the pine now used at Detroit for building, comes from this county, as it is the only one in the surveyed part of the territory that is well supplied with this valuable building material. The United States' road from Detroit to fort Gratiot runs through the centre of this county, and about twelve miles west of the village of Palmer, which is the seat of justice for the county; and which is situate at the junction of Pine and St. Clair rivers, about twelve miles south of fort Gratiot, and sixty by water northeast of Detroit.

St. Joseph's County—is perhaps the best in the territory, both as to water privileges and the fertility of its soil. It is watered by the St. Joseph's river and its various branches, many of which afford numerous water privileges, particularly Hog creek, Pigeon, Portage and Crooked rivers, which may be considered copious and excellent mill streams. A saw mill has already been put in operation on Crooked[Pg 303] river, and several others have been commenced on the same creek and about Pigeon prairie. The water in this county is uniformly pure and healthy, the climate mild, and the face of the country moderately undulating; consisting principally of oak openings and prairies. There is however a sufficiency of timber in it generally, and from the Grand Traverse on the northwest side of the river St. Joseph's, as high up I believe as Portage river, is a belt of excellent timbered land which is well supplied with water. The principal prairies in this county are Sturges, Nottawa Sapee and White Pigeon. The first of these, Sturges prairie, has a beautiful appearance, and is exuberant in fertility, but is not convenient for water and but tolerably so to good timber—a few families are located on it. Nottawa Sapee, part of which is embraced within the Indian reserve, is an excellent prairie, and settlements have commenced on it. But Pigeon prairie is the most valuable one in the St. Joseph's country, as well as the most densely peopled, and perhaps it will not be deemed invidious to say it is the best settlement in the St. Joseph's country, whether we regard the number of its inhabitants or their intelligence and wealth. The soil of these prairies may be considered equal to that of any land in the United States. The usual mode of cultivating these, as well as all other prairies in the vicinity of the river St. Joseph's, is to break up the soil immediately with the plough at the same time dropping the[Pg 304] corn on the edge of the furrow in such a manner that it may be covered by the succeeding one; in this manner without any other cultivation, they often produce thirty to fifty bushels of corn to the acre the first season, though sometimes it becomes necessary to go through and cut down some of the rankest weeds. The counties of Branch, Barry and Eaton, and all the country north of township four, north; west of the principal meridian, south of the county of Michilimackinac, and east of the line between ranges twelve and thirteen west, and of lake Michigan is attached to St. Joseph's.

Cass County—-contains a population of two thousand, and is likewise watered by the St. Joseph's river and its branches, several of which afford good mill privileges, particularly the Dowagiake and Christianna, which are rapid and durable streams. A mill has already been erected and is now in operation on the Christianna, near Young's prairie.

The face of this county is similar to that of St. Joseph's county; though some parts are undulating, yet in general it is level, sufficiently uneven however to drain off and leave no stagnant waters. The timber is principally oak, ash, elm, sugar tree, cherry, black and white walnut and hickory, with a variety of other kinds intermixed. The country is generally open, and you can ride with a wheel carriage through the wood land with almost the same ease you can over the prairies, being not in the least interrupted with underbrush. In every part of the[Pg 305] county the roads are good. Though some parts of it are but thinly timbered, yet along the Dowagiake from its source to its mouth there is a broad belt of excellent timbered and very rich land, from one to several miles wide, also along the upper portion of the Christianna, extending north of its source, and thence across to the Dowagiake is a fine belt of woodland. This county includes within its boundaries the following prairies, namely, Four Mile, Beardsley, Townsend's, McKenney's, La Grange, Pokagon and Young's, besides several small ones, not however known by any particular name. The prairies here are of the richest quality of soil; may be ploughed in two days after the frost leaves the ground in spring, and frequently produce thirty or forty bushels of corn to the acre the first season, without being ploughed or hoed after planting. The three last mentioned prairies are conveniently situate to mill streams, and principally surrounded with heavy timbered land, but they are nearly all taken up by purchasers. Four Mile prairie is not so happily situate with regard to mills or timbered land; but nevertheless is fast filling up. From thirty to eighty bushels of corn and forty of wheat are usually raised from an acre in all the prairies where the soil has been subdued by previous cultivation. Every other kind of grain as well as vegetables are produced in about the same proportion.

The only town yet laid out in this county is Edwardsburgh, which is the temporary county seat. It[Pg 306] is situate on the border of Pleasant lake, and on the northeast corner of Beardsley's prairie. The United States' road from Detroit to Chicago passes through it, as well as the road from fort Wayne to Pokagon, to Niles', to Young's and to Townsend's prairies, and to Coquillard in Indiana. All these places except fort Wayne are situate within ten miles of it. From the town platte, or village, you have a view not only of the prairie, but also of Pleasant lake.—The prairie is four miles in extent and the lake covers about one hundred acres. Fish are abundant in all the streams and small lakes—forty three that would weigh from one to three pounds were caught with a hook and line in Pleasant lake by two persons in thirty minutes. The water in this lake is very pure, you can see the bottom where the depth of water is fifteen feet. The country is healthy, several large families who settled here before the land was offered for sale, and who have resided here for three years, have not had a case of fever nor any other kind of sickness, except what has resulted from accident.

The counties of Berrien and Van Buren and all the country north of the same to lake Michigan is attached at present to Cass county.

Berrien County, not organized, has in it a large proportion of superior timbered land, but has no prairies of much importance. The settlements in this county, though few, are scattered along the river, and the population does not exceed thirty-five[Pg 307] families. But from the nature of the country, I am inclined to believe it will be the most populous county on the St. Joseph's.

The rich timbered land, though now avoided for the prairies, will ultimately be in demand, and will afford many dense and excellent settlements.—Through the timbered land in this county run several small creeks, which, with their numerous branches afford an additional convenience to the farmer which he cannot enjoy in the prairies nor in the barrens. Besides the heavy timbered and prairie land, there are large tracts of what are here called barrens, being of a light soil comparatively speaking, though very productive, and which are thinly covered with white and black oak, sometimes of stinted growth, but mostly of a handsome and useful size. The soil is generally a fine sand, mixed with decayed vegetables and sometimes gravelly, with here and there a granitic boulder. The soil of the timbered land is of a loose sandy nature, black with fertility, and eminently adapted to culture. That of the prairies is nearly of the same nature after the sod has been reduced by repeated ploughing. In the timbered land we find white and black walnut, several kinds of ash, also oak, poplar, lynn, beech, elm, hickory, sugar tree, &c. The southeast part of this county is well supplied with water, and possesses several mill sites, some of which have already been improved. Ford's saw and grist mill, on the Dowagiake, have been for some time in operation. There[Pg 308] is also a saw mill just ready to commence operation at the mouth of the Dowagiake, and several others have been commenced on the same stream. There is but one village regularly laid out in this county, which is called Niles. It is situate on the St. Joseph's, a short distance above the confluence of the Dowagiake with that river. The first framed house in it was erected in December, 1833. Next summer it is expected there will be considerable building there. Last season, though there were no accommodations, yet by far the greatest portion of merchandize, &c. destined for the St. Joseph's country, when conveyed by water was landed there.—Next spring will be built two warehouses, there are now two stores and a post office. Post offices have been established at the mouth of the St. Joseph's called Saranac, at Pokagon, southwest corner of town six south in range sixteen west, at Lagrange in the middle of town six south of range fifteen west, at Pigeon prairie, at Sturgis' prairie, and at the Grand Traverse.

Lapeer, Shiawassee and Saginaw.—These counties are not yet organized, but attached to Oakland county. There are no inhabitants in Lapeer, and but few settlers at present in Saginaw and Shiawassee. The face of these two counties is very similar to Oakland.

Saginaw—is watered by the Shiawassee, Flint, Cass, Tittibawassee and Hare rivers. The most of these streams are navigable for boats; their junction[Pg 309] forms the Saginaw river which is navigable for sloops twenty miles to the village which bears the same name, and which is to be the seat of justice for said county. The United States have established a cantonment here, and laid out a road from this place to Detroit, which is not yet finished. When this is completed, it is more than probable that it will settle as speedily as any county in the territory, as the soil is very favorable to agriculture.

Shiawassee.—The soil of this county is rich, and the face of the country gently undulating, in some instances rolling, exhibiting oak openings and heavy groves of timber. The Shiawassee river which is a beautiful, meandering stream, and navigable for boats and rafts to the lake, with its several branches, waters the middle and southeast part. The head branches of Grand and Looking Glass rivers, the southwest part, and Swartz's creek, the Flint and Mistegayock rivers, the northeast part of said county.

Calhoun.—This county has lately been organized and its seat of justice is the town of Marshall, pleasantly situated on the north bank of the Kalamazoo river. This river and its branches afford many fine mill privileges. The soil is rich and gently undulating, consisting principally of burr oak openings, which are frequently interspersed with prairies. In the southwest part of the county is a small tract of pine timber.

[Pg 310]

Jackson—has lately been organized and its seat of justice is the town of Jackson, situated near Grand river. The west half of it is undulating, and consists principally of burr and white oak openings, interspersed occasionally with prairies. It abounds in springs and possesses a fertile soil. The northeast part is heavily timbered and somewhat intersected with marshes and small lakes. The soil, however, of this part, is rich and well adapted for meadow. Grand river is an excellent stream of pure water, quick, yet navigable for canoes from its junction with its south branch, quite through the county and to lake Michigan.

Kalamazoo.—This is one of the newly organized counties. Its seat of justice is the town of Bronson, pleasantly situated on the south bank of the Kalamazoo river. The land office has lately been removed to this place from St. Joseph. The face of this county in general is moderately undulating, though sometimes rolling. It exhibits principally burr oak openings, interspersed with rich fertile and dry prairies, and not unfrequently intersected with groves of first rate timbered land. The character of the soil is in general either a black sand or a rich loam. In the southeast corner of this county is an excellent tract of woodland, covered with a heavy but beautiful grove of sugar maple. Gull and Round prairies are the two largest in this county, and are equal to any in the territory for beauty and fertility. The first of these, Gull prairie, is situate[Pg 311] in the vicinity of a beautiful lake, as well as adjacent to the margin of a romantic creek, both of which bear the same name. This lake is about four miles long, and its waters which are very transparent are said to contain white fish. The creek is very rapid and affords hydraulic privileges equal to any in the territory. Prairie Round, which lies in the southwest part of the county, is about four miles broad, and is principally surrounded with woodland; near its centre there is a beautiful grove of timber of about a mile in diameter, consisting of sugar maple, black walnut and hickory. This county is well supplied with water. The Kalamazoo river which runs through it is a rapid meandering stream, yet navigable for boats. Its surface is frequently chequered with islands and its banks occasionally broken.

Branch.—This county is attached to St. Joseph's. A large portion of it, particularly the southern part, is heavily timbered land, consisting principally of black and white walnut, sugar maple, whitewood, lynn, and some other kinds in smaller quantities. The Chicago road which runs through the northern part of this county, passes principally through oak openings, which are occasionally intersected with prairies.

Hillsdale.—This county is attached to Lenawee. The north part of it is principally oak openings of a good quality, but the southern part is heavily wooded with sugar maple, whitewood, beech, black[Pg 312] walnut, ash, &c. The face of this county is rather uneven and the soil in general consists of a rich black loam. The southern part is timbered land. This county is well supplied with water. The St. Joseph's of lake Michigan, as well as the St. Joseph's of Maumee, the Grand river, Tiffin's and the river Raisin all head in this county, and with their numerous branches water it in a beautiful manner.

Leanewee County—contains at present about fifteen hundred inhabitants. The northern part of this county has much the same appearance as Washtenaw, but the southern part is principally timbered land. It contains a tamerack swamp of considerable extent in the southeast corner, yet notwithstanding, the character of its soil and climate is, generally, very inviting. It is principally watered by the Ottawa creek, Tiffin's and Raisin rivers and their branches. It contains two villages each with a mill on their borders, namely, Tecumseh and Adrian—the former of which is the seat of justice for the county. It is situate at the junction of Landman's creek with the river Raisin, and lies about fifty-five miles southwest of Detroit.

Barry, Eaton and Ingham Counties—lie on Grand river and its tributaries. This is the largest river in the peninsula. It empties into lake Michigan, two hundred and forty-five miles south of Michilimackinac, and forty-five miles north of the mouth of St. Joseph, is sixty rods wide at its mouth, and has sufficient depth of water to admit vessels[Pg 313] drawing eight feet. On its south bank, near its entrance into the lake, is a pleasant situation for a town, the land being excellent, and gently inclining to the north and west, giving at the same time a fine view of the river and lake; but the opposite shore at the same place has a sandy, sterile appearance.

For about sixty miles up this river, on the north side, the Ottawas hold possession. There are between eight and nine hundred of these people living along Grand river and its tributaries, but many of their most populous villages are on land now belonging to the United States.

This river is the largest stream that waters the west part of the peninsula of Michigan, being two hundred and seventy miles in length, its windings included, and navigable two hundred and forty miles for batteaux; receiving in its course a great number of tributary streams, among which are Portage, Red Cedar, Looking Glass, Soft Maple, Muscota, Flat, Rouge and Thorn Apple rivers. All of these, except the last named, put in on the right bank of the Grand river. Its south branch rises in the open country, near the source of the Raisin, and after pursuing a winding course of thirty miles, meets with the Portage river, which comes in from the east and intersects the above branch in town two south of range one west.

Portage river, which has its course through a chain of low marshy prairies, is a deep, muddy[Pg 314] stream, about fifteen yards wide at its mouth. Its branches interlock with those of the Huron of lake Erie, and the Indians pass from the former into the latter, with their canoes, by crossing a portage of one mile and a half. It is probable that at no distant period, a canal will be constructed near the route of these two rivers, so as to afford a safe and easy inland communication between lakes Erie and Michigan. The distance from Detroit to the mouth of Grand river, by way of Michilimackinac, is five hundred and sixty miles. This route in the spring and fall is attended with much uncertainty; and, in case of a war with the English, the navigation of the straits of Detroit and St. Clair would be rendered doubly dangerous. These difficulties would be obviated by a communication by water, through the interior. The land at the Portage rises forty or fifty feet above the level of the streams on each side; but a level prairie two or three miles to the west of that place, is said to extend from one river to the other.

From the junction of the Portage and south branches, this river pursues a northwest course till it meets with Soft Maple river, in town seven north of range six west; receiving in that distance Red Cedar and Looking Glass rivers from the east, and Grindstone, Red and Sebewa creeks from the south and southwest.

Grindstone creek, so named from a sandstone ledge through which it runs, empties into the river[Pg 315] about twenty miles below the mouth of the Portage branch. It is twenty miles long, affording several good sites for mills, and runs mostly through an open beautiful country; but is in some instances skirted with bottoms of heavy timbered land.

From the mouth of this creek to that of Looking Glass river, a distance of forty-five miles in a direct line, the Grand river runs through a tract of timbered land, which is several miles in extent on each side, abounding in creeks and springs of water, and bearing a growth of maple, basswood, cherry, oak, ash, whitewood, elm, black walnut, butternut, and some other kinds in lesser quantities. Below Looking Glass river, for forty or fifty miles, tracts of open land are found along the banks, but extensive forests immediately in the rear. The river bottoms are from a quarter of a mile to one mile in width, and the timbered lands are covered with a rank growth of rushes, (Equisetum hyemale) on which the Indians keep their horses during the winter. It is found that cattle and horses do better on these rushes, than when kept on hay; and it would seem from their abundance, that nature here intended them as a substitute for that article. The surface of the land after leaving the river bottoms is rolling; and it rises sufficiently high to give rapidity to the numerous creeks that so abundantly irrigate this part of the country.

Red Cedar river is thirty-five yards wide, and puts in about midway between Grindstone creek and[Pg 316] Looking Glass river. It rises in Washtenaw and Shiawassee counties, and can be ascended in small boats twenty-five or thirty miles. A few miles below the mouth of this stream, is a ledge of sandstone, which forms a perpendicular wall of twenty-five or thirty feet in height, on each side of the river. This ledge consists of square blocks of stone, of a suitable size to be used in building, and which are rendered more valuable, from the circumstance of their being on the banks of a large navigable river, which with its tributaries, will facilitate its transportation to various sections of the territory.

A bed of iron ore has been discovered in the northeast bank of the river immediately below this ledge; and, indeed, many of the stones in the lower part of the ledge, have a great resemblance to blocks of cast iron—presenting a rusty surface, very dense, and when broken, have, in a striking degree, the color and appearance of iron itself.

Four miles above the mouth of the Looking Glass river, is the village of P'Shimnacon, (Apple land,) which is inhabited by eight or ten Ottawa families, who have a number of enclosed fields in which they raise corn, potatoes, and other vegetables usually cultivated by the Indians. The village receives its name from Pyrus Coronaria, (Crab Apple,) which grows in great abundance on the rich bottoms in its vicinity. Sebewa creek puts into the river on the southwest side, one mile above this village. It is about twenty miles long, sufficiently large for[Pg 317] mills, and for the last four miles is very rapid, with a hard, stony bottom.

Looking Glass river which is about forty yards wide, rises in Shiawassee county, and can be ascended in canoes almost to its source. The country near this river, for fifteen miles above its mouth, is what may be termed first rate timbered land; but above that point it is of an inferior quality, more open, and abounding in tamerack swamps and wet prairies.

It is about eight miles by land from the mouth of Looking Glass to that of Soft Maple river, which is about sixty yards wide at its entrance into Grand river. It heads in Shiawassee and Saginaw counties, and runs nearly a due west course until it unites with Grand river, at the Indian village of Chigau-mish-kene. This village consists of twenty-five houses, and has a population of near two hundred souls under the noted chief Cocoose. Here is about one thousand acres of bottom land, of a deep, black soil, that has been cleared by the Indians; a part of which they still occupy as planting ground; but the land at this village, as well as that at P'Shimnacon, has been ceded to the United States, and will no doubt, in a short time, be occupied by an industrious white population. There is a large trail leading from this village, by way of Shiawassee to Detroit, a distance of one hundred and thirty miles.

The Grand river here changes its course; and with the exception of twelve miles in length, below[Pg 318] Rouge river, runs nearly a west course to lake Michigan.

Two miles further down, is the entrance of Muscota river, (River of the Plains,) which comes in from the north, with a rapid current, and is about forty feet wide. The country through which it runs is but little known, as no lands have been surveyed north of Grand river, below Soft Maple.

It is eighteen miles by land from the mouth of Muscota to that of Co-cob-au-gwosh, or Flat river, with several considerable creeks putting into Grand river, on each side, in the intermediate distance. Ke-wa-goosh-cum's Indian village is situate immediately below the mouth of Flat river, and consists of sixteen lodges. It is supposed that the line between the United States and the Indian lands will intersect the Grand river near this place.

Flat river is a shallow stream, about eight rods wide; and in ascending has a general course of north by northeast. Of the country along this river, but little is at present known. It is reported, however, to be of a hilly, broken aspect; and many places near its source, to abound in lakes and swamps. There is a small lake that discharges its waters into this river, about sixty miles above its mouth, in which it is said by the Indians, that white fish are found in great numbers—a circumstance that is rendered more extraordinary, from the fact that this fish has never been seen near the mouth of Grand river, although it is often taken near the[Pg 319] entrances of most of the other tributaries of lake Michigan.

It is ten miles from Flat to Thorn Apple river, which comes in from the south, and, with its numerous tributaries, waters a large extent of country. Its main branch rises in town two and three north of range three west, and after running a westerly course for more than forty miles, it takes a northward direction, in which it continues until it empties into Grand river, in the south part of town seven north of range two west.

There is a suitable proportion both of open and timber land along this stream, and a great part of each kind may be termed first rate. Two Indian villages are situated at the distance of twenty and twenty-six miles up this river, and another at its mouth, under the Ottawa chief Nong-gee. The last mentioned village is inhabited by twelve or fourteen families who are by far the most industrious and respectable band that reside in that part of the country.

Rouge river, is twenty miles, including the meanderings, northwest of Thorn Apple river. It is about forty miles long, rising near the sources of the Maskegon, and has its banks shaded by lofty forests of white pine. From this place to Muck-a-ta-sha's village, a distance of twelve miles, the Grand river pursues a south direction; after which it runs nearly a due west course to lake Michigan.

[Pg 320]

Six miles above the mouth of the last mentioned inlet, is a rapid of one mile in length, where the river, which is here fifty-two rods wide, is supposed to fall twenty-five feet. The banks at the head of the rapid, are not more than four feet above the level of the river, and they keep a horizontal level until you arrive at the foot of the rapid, where they are nearly thirty feet above the water; and consequently afford convenient opportunities for profitably appropriating a part of the river, by means of a canal or sluice, to the use of mills or machinery.

There is a missionary establishment, (the Thomas station) at this place, under the superintendence of the Rev. I. M'Coy. The mission family at present consists of a school teacher, a blacksmith, and two or three agriculturists. The school was open in the winter of 1827, and now has about thirty Indian children, who receive their board, clothing and tuition at the expense of the establishment.

There is a trail leading southwest from the rapids to the Kalamazoo river, and thence to the rivers Raisin and Huron. Another leads directly to the mouth of Thorn Apple river, a distance of only ten miles on the trail, but twenty-five round the curve of the river. The country within this bend, excepting immediately along the river, is of a rough, hilly character, a great part consisting of oak openings, of a barren appearance, with a few scattering groves of white pine. Most of the land, however, in the neighborhood of this tract, is of a good qual[Pg 321]ity and timbered with all kinds that usually grow on rich alluvial soils.

There is a salt spring four miles below the rapids, which rises out of the ground about half a mile from the river on the east side. The water is said to be, both as to quantity and quality, sufficient to warrant the establishment of works for the manufacturing of that useful article. Near this place is also a bed of gypsum, of a fine quality, which will probably, in time, be of great importance to agriculturists in many of the western parts of Michigan.

Muck-a-ta-sha, or Blackskin's village, is six miles below the rapids, and is near the bend of the river, on an elevated prairie. There is also another village twenty miles lower down the river. From the rapids to the lake, a distance of thirty-six miles, the river is no where less than four feet deep. The current at the former place is too powerful to be ascended with loaded boats. The country along the river for the first fifteen or twenty miles above the lake is generally level, and in many instances swampy, with lofty forests, of various kinds of timber, and bearing an almost impenetrable thicket of undergrowth.

The country watered by the Grand river, consists of between six and seven thousand square miles; and considering its central position in the territory, the general fertility of the soil on the several branches of that stream, the convenience of a safe[Pg 322] and good harbor at its mouth, together with its many other important natural advantages, we may be fully justified in the opinion, that it will, at no very distant period, become one of the most important sections of Michigan.


[Pg 323]

SKETCH

OF THE

TEXIAN REVOLUTION.

First Campaign.

As the inhabitants of Texas are chiefly emigrants from the United States, and have buckled on their armor in a contest for liberty and independence, it is natural that Americans should feel a strong sympathy in their behalf. The sons of freedom can never be indifferent and unconcerned, in a struggle between liberty and despotic power, however remote the theatre of action; but when such a war is waged by their neighbors and friends, and Freedom the prize to be lost or won, the deep feeling pervading American breasts, cannot be suppressed.

When Centralism was established, the State governments annihilated, and Santa Anna, by aid of the priests and the army, proclaimed himself monarch of Mexico, united Texas arose as one man, to oppose the usurpation. Although an infant of but[Pg 324] yesterday, and but slightly armed for battle, yet she has a vigorous arm, and a heart that will never quail before the minions of despotic power. Relying upon the justice of her cause, and calling upon the friends of liberty for aid, she goes forth undismayed, to meet the giant strength of Mexico combined.—Her call for aid, has been heard throughout the Mississippi valley, and along the whole Atlantic coast, and has been fully answered. Soldiers, arms, ammunition and treasure have poured into Texas from all quarters; and in number and quantity, equal to the exigency of the case. Texas has gloriously triumphed. The invading foe has been completely routed—her first campaign is ended, and not a hostile band is found upon her soil.

In order to understand the situation of Texas, and the causes of the present civil war, it is necessary briefly to advert to the history of the Mexican Republic. It is well known, that the Province of Mexico had a long and severe struggle to throw off the Spanish yoke, and to become independent of Old Spain. At length, a constitution was formed, after the model of that of the United States, and a Republican government established. In 1824, Iturbide overthrew this Republican government, established an Empire, and placed himself at its head.—His reign was of but short duration. The army, under the lead and direction of three military chieftains, named Victoria, Bravo and Santa Anna, the very person who is now playing the game of Empe[Pg 325]ror, made a prisoner of Iturbide, banished him with an annuity of twenty-five thousand dollars, and restored the constitution. After passing a year in Europe, Iturbide returned to Mexico to recover his Empire, but was taken prisoner and shot.

The republic was continued with frequent commotions and revolutions. On one occasion Pedrassa, a civilian, was fairly elected President, in a contest with Gen. Guerrero. Guerrero denounced Pedrassa, placed himself at the head of the army, succeeded in expelling Pedrassa from the country, and was made President by the force of his bayonets. The people soon became discontented, insurrection spread over the country, Guerrero was in turn compelled to yield, and was finally taken prisoner, condemned and shot as a traitor. The succeeding faction of Bustamente was in turn put down, and after various commotions by contending factions, Santa Anna contrived, with the aid of the Army and Clergy to unite the interests of Church and State, and to place himself at the head of the government. The old constitution was annulled, and Santa Anna was acknowledged as Chief of a Central Government. The State Governments were merged in Centralism, and Santa Anna is to all intents and purposes Monarch of Mexico.

At this conjuncture of affairs, all the States and Territories submitted to the overwhelming power of the Dictator, but Texas. This province having been peopled by emigrants from the United States,[Pg 326] by a people accustomed to free institutions,—revolted at the idea of despotism, and they nobly resolved not to come under the yoke, but to establish an independent Government of their own. This is a simple statement of the case, and their cause is one that is calculated to enlist the sympathies of the people of this country. Since the determination of the people of Texas has been known, it is understood that several other Mexican States have shown disaffection to the Central Government, and, judging from the vicissitudes of the past, it may be safely predicted, that in the course of another year or two, Santa Anna himself will be expelled, or shot, and the Constitution restored.

But lest the cause in which the Texians are now engaged, may not be fully understood, let us state a parallel case. Suppose that the President and Congress should abrogate the constitution of the United States, abolish all the State governments, and establish Romanism as the religion of the country: and if the governor of any State attempted to exercise any authority, send an armed force to arrest and imprison him. What would the people of the several States say to this? Would they tamely submit, as though they had no cause of complaint; or would they not rather, rise en masse, assert their rights, and put down these high-handed usurpers, at the point of the bayonet? Most assuredly they would.

[Pg 327]

Many of the States have been thrown into violent commotion, and even resorted to arms, for causes immeasurably less, than that of the Texians. The State of Maine were aroused to a man, because the British Government attempted to exercise jurisdiction over a strip of the wilderness and a few log houses, on her eastern border. The State of New-Hampshire called an army into the field, to support her doubtful title, to the unimportant settlement of Indian Stream. The State of Georgia rose to arms, because the Indians did not give up their lands, quite so soon as they expected. The States of Ohio and Michigan have long been in a feverish excitement, and have resorted to arms, on a simply legal question, which State shall exercise jurisdiction over a few thousand acres of land. And the people of the whole United States were thrown into a violent commotion, on the question, whether slavery should be tolerated in the State of Missouri.

And can it be thought strange by Americans, so jealous of their own rights, that the Texians are alarmed to see their constitution annulled, their State government subverted, and all the dearest rights which civilized man holds dear, put in jeopardy? Is it a matter of wonder, that they have appealed to arms, cast an anxious look to American freemen, and sent forth their spirit-stirring appeals for aid? To such an appeal, Americans cannot[Pg 328] turn a deaf ear; nor will they stand with folded arms, and see the battle rage.

Under the constitution of 1824, Mexico was a confederated republic, after the model of the United States, having a President, Vice President, Senate and House of Representatives, as a central government, and separate governments for each State, and provincial governments for certain Territories, in all material respects similar to the institutions of this country.

Under this organization, Texas and Coahuila were formed into one State of the Mexican Confederacy; but as the one was settled by Americans, and the other by Spaniards, there never has been much harmony and good feeling between them. It has long been an object of strong desire among the people of Texas, to be disjoined from Coahuila, and formed into a separate State. To accomplish this desirable object, Col. Austin was appointed an agent to the Congress at Mexico, near the close of 1833. After spending some months at the seat of government, and making various efforts to have Texas formed into an integral State, separate from Coahuila, despairing of being able to accomplish it, in the then distracted state of affairs, he started to return home. He had not proceeded far, before he was arrested on a charge of high treason, carried back to Mexico, and imprisoned. For a time, he was kept in close confinement; and then, let out under bonds to keep within the limits of the city. He had[Pg 329] been a prisoner more than a year, being unable to obtain either a trial or a release, when the government was subverted, and Centralism established.

Santa Anna, becoming alarmed at the public meetings, and show of opposition in Texas, concluded to release Col. Austin, and send him as a special messenger, to allay the excitement. He requested him to state to the Texians, that he felt deeply interested in their welfare; and that in the new organization of the government, he would use his influence to give to the people of Texas, such laws and regulations as were suited to their habits and situation.

Col. Austin faithfully delivered this message to the people of Texas, at a public dinner given to welcome his return, on the eighth of October last. But it was now too late to listen to the fair promises of Santa Anna. The country was in a state of extraordinary excitement, and on the eve of a revolution. Santa Anna, it seems, could threaten and punish, as well as conciliate and persuade. He arrested the Governor of Coahuila and Texas,—threatened an invasion—the confiscation and sale of a large tract of settled territory—and an imposition of heavy taxes upon the commerce of the country. The people of Texas aroused to the defence of their constitutional rights, and to resist oppression. They held to the constitution of 1824, and refused to adopt Centralism. Public meetings were held in all the principal towns and villages. At Co[Pg 330]lumbia, Harrisburg, Velasco, Brazoria and San Felipe, resolutions were adopted, expressive of indignation at the proceedings of Santa Anna and the General Government, and of a determination to resist them. Committees of safety were appointed, and a general convention called. By the aid of Col. Austin and Gen. Houston of St. Augustine, forces were organized to repel the threatened invasion. Col. Austin by the assistance of others, raised a regiment of six or seven hundred riflemen; and Gen. Houston, by the aid of volunteers from the United States, was soon enabled to take the field, at the head of as many more.

Santa Anna, in the mean time, was not idle.—He concentrated his forces at Saltillo under the command of General Cos. After the army had become organized and in sufficient force, Gen. Cos marched to San Antonio, and took possession of the town. Another force was stationed at Goliad, sixty miles south of San Antonio.

To enforce the revenue laws, Santa Anna sent an armed schooner, called the Correo, under the command of Capt. Thompson, to the mouth of the Brazos river. This schooner, joined by a small armed sloop, attacked the schooner San Felipe, a regular trader between the Brazos and New-Orleans commanded by Capt. Hurd. This was about the first of September. It appears from a statement signed by the passengers of the San Felipe, that the Correo had fired at a steamboat while engaged in lighting the[Pg 331] American brig Tremont, lying at anchor off the bar, previously to her attack on the San Felipe.

As soon as the steamboat had gone inside the bar, the Correo was joined by a small armed sloop, and both stood for the San Felipe, and opened fire upon her without ceremony, the moment they arrived within shot. But Captain Hurd, suspecting their intention to be of a hostile nature, from their first appearance, and having arms on board, gallantly gave battle and put them to flight, after a combat which lasted nearly an hour.

The next morning, the Correo was discovered about five miles distant, upon which she was chased by the San Felipe, (towed by the steamboat,) and overtaken and obliged to surrender.

The first battle fought on the land was on the second day of October 1835, near the town of Gonzales; and from this circumstance, it has obtained the enviable distinction, of being the Lexington of Texas. The circumstances attending the commencement of hostilities, ought to be stated with some minuteness.

Some years since, when Gonzales, the capital of De Witt's Colony, was exposed to the depredations of the Indians, the people there applied to the authorities of San Antonio for a piece of artillery to protect that frontier. The application was granted; and they obtained a brass six pounder. This was kept for defence until the settlement became strong—and afterwards it lay about the streets[Pg 332] upon the ground, (unmounted) and served to make a noise whenever the people got into a merry frolic. The military commandant of San Antonio, (Col. Ugartechea,) two or three weeks previous, feeling sufficiently strong to make an attack upon the Colonies, demanded the gun. The people took the matter into consideration. The gun was once the property of the King of Spain; and he lost it with the sovereignty of the country. The Federal Republic of Mexico became the owner. The people of Gonzales returned for answer, in substance, that the gun was the property of the Confederation which they acknowledged, and not of the Central government, which they did not acknowledge; and they would not give it up to any officer of the Central Government.

Ugartechea ordered a detachment of his troops to march seventy-six miles, and take the gun by force. The colonies assembled to oppose him. Expresses were despatched to all parts of the country. The news flew with the speed of the race horse. The people rose to arms—and marched for the battle field.

Gonzales is situated on the eastern bank of the river Gaudaloupe, 150 miles west of San Felipe; and on the twentieth of September, the detachment of troops from San Antonio, about two hundred in number, made their appearance on the western bank of the river, opposite the town. They attempted the passage of the river, but after a sharp[Pg 333] skirmish, were repulsed by eighteen men, the whole force then at Gonzales. The enemy retired a short distance, and encamped on the mound at De Witt's. On the first of October, about 12 o'clock, they took up their march and encamped about seven miles above this place, in a very strong position. Suspecting that their object in this movement was either to wait for a reinforcement from San Antonio, or to cross at the upper crossing, about fifteen miles above, it was determined to attack them before their plans could be carried into execution. Accordingly, on the same night, the whole force on foot, amounting then to about one hundred and sixty men, from the Gaudaloupe, Colorado, and La Baca, commanded by Col. J.H. Moore, crossed the river, attacked the enemy about day break, and put them to flight without the loss of a single man.—Thirty or forty of the enemy were reported to have been killed and wounded. This was a brilliant commencement of the Texian Revolutionary War.

The next, and more important battle, took place on the ninth of October, and resulted in the capture of the fort and town of Goliad. The attacking party were a company of volunteers, from the fertile banks of the Caney, and from the town of Matagorda—a place destined to become an important city, situated at the mouth of the Colorado river.

Before this party entered the field, most of the volunteers were at Gonzales—and fearing that the harvest of honors would be reaped before they could[Pg 334] arrive there—they struck off from La Baca with the daring determination of taking Goliad by surprise.

Goliad is situated on the southwest side of the San Antonio river, thirty leagues below Bexar, and it is fifteen leagues from Copano, the landing place of Aransas bay, and about the same distance from the La Baca and of Matagorda bay. The fort is built upon the point of a very steep hill, formed of rocks, with a deep ravine upon one side and a low prairie upon the opposite—while a broad elevated prairie extends towards the southwest.

The walls of the fort are of stone and lime, and bear in many places the marks of the storms of an hundred winters, but are still proof against any thing less than the batterings of heavy artillery.

A long forced march brought the van guard of the colonists to the San Antonio river ford, below the town, at 11 o'clock on the night of the ninth of October. Here they halted for the main body, and to make arrangements for the attack. A very small party were sent into the town, and they brought out, with the utmost secrecy, a worthy citizen friendly to the constitution of 1824. And by his assistance guides were produced perfectly acquainted with the place.

The main body of the colonists missed their road in the night, and before they found out their mistake, were at the upper ford, immediately opposite the town. They then struck across, for a short cut, to the position occupied by the van guard. The[Pg 335] route lay through a muskeet thicket. The muskeet is a tree of the locust family, full of thorns, and at a short distance resembles the common peach tree in size and appearance. While the parties were treading their way in this thicket, the horse of one of them started in affright at an object beneath a bush. The rider checked his horse and said, who's there? A voice answered in Spanish. One of the party supposed that he recognized in the voice an old acquaintance of Goliad, asked if it was not he, mentioning his name. "No," was the reply, "my name is Milam."

Col. Milam is a native of Kentucky. At the commencement of the Mexican war of independence, he engaged in the cause, and assisted in establishing the independence of the country. When Iturbide assumed the purple, Milam's republican principles placed him in fetters—dragged him to the city of Mexico, and confined him in prison until the usurper was dethroned. When Santa Anna assumed the dictatorship, the republican Milam was again thrust into the prison at Monterry. But his past services and sufferings wrought upon the sympathies of his hard-hearted jailors.

They allowed him the luxury of the bath. He profited by the indulgence and made arrangements with an old compatriot, to place a fleet horse suitably equipped upon the bank of the stream, at a time appointed. The colonel passed the sentinel[Pg 336] as he was wont to go into the water—walked quietly on—mounted the horse and fled.

Four hundred miles would place him in safety. The noble horse did his duty, and bore the colonel clear of all pursuit to the place where the party surprised him. At first he supposed himself in the power of his enemy—but the English language soon convinced him, that he was in the midst of his countrymen.

He had never heard that Texas was making an effort to save herself. No whisper of the kind had been allowed to pass the grates of his prison.—When he learned the object of the party, his heart was full. He could not speak for joy.

When the company arrived at the lower ford, they divided themselves into four parties of twelve men each. One party remained as a guard with the horses. The other three, each with a guide, marched by different routes to the assault.

Their axes hewed down the door where the colonel commanding the place slept—and he was taken a prisoner from his bed. A sentinel hailed, and fired. A rifle ball laid him dead upon the spot.—The discharge of fire arms and the noise of human voices now became blended. The Mexican soldiers fired from their quarters, and the blaze of their guns served as targets for the colonist riflemen.

The garrison were called to surrender, and the call was translated by a gentleman present, who spoke the language. They asked for terms.

[Pg 337]

The interpreter now became the chief speaker. 'No,' answered he. 'They say they will massacre every one of you, unless you come out immediately and surrender. Come out—come out quick—I cannot keep them back—come out, if you wish to save your lives—I can keep them back no longer.' 'O, do for God's sake keep them back,' answered the Mexicans in their own language. 'We will come out and surrender immediately,'—and they rushed out with all possible speed and laid down their arms.

And thus was the fort of Goliad taken—a fort which, with a garrison of three hundred and fifty patriots in the war of 1812-13, withstood the siege of an army of more than two thousand Spanish troops, and forced them to retire, discomfited.

At the capture of the fort, three Mexican soldiers were killed and seven wounded; and one colonel, one captain, one lieutenant, with twenty-one petty officers and privates were made prisoners—others of the garrison escaped in the dark and fled.

In the fort were found two pieces of brass cannon, five hundred muskets and carbines, six hundred spears, with ammunition and provisions.

One of the colonists, only, was wounded in the shoulder.

Col. Milam assisted in the capture of the fort, and then he spoke:—"I assisted Mexico to gain her independence; I have spent more than twenty years of my life in her service; I have endured heat[Pg 338] and cold, hunger and thirst; I have borne losses and suffered persecutions; I have been a tenant of every prison between this and Mexico—but the events of this night have compensated me for all my losses and all my sufferings."

The colonists were commanded by Gen. M. Collingsworth—but it would be difficult to find in the company, a man not qualified for the command.

Goliad is of vastly more importance in a military point of view, than San Antonio, as the latter is in a valley upon the banks of the river, and commanded by the hills on each side, and is therefore indefensible.

The news of the capture of Goliad was hailed with enthusiastic joy throughout Texas. A general enthusiasm prevailed. Col. Austin, elected General of the volunteer forces, made his head quarters at Gonzales, one hundred and fifty miles west of San Felipe, and seventy-five miles east of San Antonio. A declaration of rights under the constitution of 1824 was published, and circulated throughout the country.

On the thirteenth of October, Gen. Austin, as commander-in-chief, left Gonzales with the main army, for San Antonio. On the twentieth, a division arrived at Salada, within five miles of San Antonio. On their march, they came in contact with the advanced guard of the enemy, who retired at their approach. On the twenty-seventh, a detachment of Gen. Cos' cavalry, out on a foraging ex[Pg 339]pedition, were attacked by a party of Texians, and by them defeated with the loss of thirty-five horses, and suffering in killed and wounded to the number of fifty men. The loss of the Texians, three men slightly wounded.

Cos' detachment of cavalry consisted of about one hundred and fifty men, which, before the engagement was concluded, were re-inforced by one hundred and fifty infantry; the party of Texians employed in the assault amounting to about the same number.

On the twenty-eighth, a detachment of ninety men, under the command of Col. Jas. Bowie and Capt. Fanning, advanced and took possession of a church, within a mile and a half of San Antonio. The Mexicans to the number of three hundred cavalry and one hundred infantry, under the command of Col. Utartacher, sallying out from the city, made an attack upon Bowie's forces, and after an engagement of three hours duration, were repulsed with the loss of one piece of artillery and forty muskets, leaving eighteen men dead upon the field. The only loss on the side of the Texians, was one man mortally wounded, and a few horses. The main body of the army came up soon after the enemy had retired.

Gen. Austin, that there might be no mistake respecting the principles upon which he acted, sent a communication to Gen. Cos, by a Mexican, stating that he was supporting the principles of the consti[Pg 340]tution of 1824, and inquiring how his flag would be received? His reply was, "disband your forces, return home peaceably, and then perhaps I will listen to your petitions; at present I can only regard you as rebels and traitors."

In the mean time, something like a regular army, composed of Texians and volunteer companies from the United States, was organized, and Gen. Houston, formerly Governor of Tennessee, and for some years a resident in Texas, was appointed the commander. On his arrival at Gonzales, the force under his command amounted to about a thousand men.

The Texian army, at length, concentrated their forces, and besieged the town of San Antonio.—This is a walled town, containing three thousand five hundred inhabitants. Gen. Cos found himself in a critical situation. His army amounted to about a thousand men, but the besieging army pressed him so close, he was obliged to keep within the walls of the town. He soon became in want of provisions, but he was too closely watched to obtain a supply. The besiegers believing he would be forced to surrender without a battle, concluded patiently to wait the event.

In this state of the case, it was thought advisable to send commissioners to the United States, with plenary power to negotiate loans, &c., in preparation for another campaign. Gen. Austin and Messrs. Archer and Wharton were accordingly ap[Pg 341]pointed. Edward Burlisson was elected to fill the vacancy occasioned by the resignation of Gen. Austin, and W.H. Jack was promoted to the second in command.

The commissioners immediately left the army, and proceeded to the United States. They arrived at New-Orleans on the third day of January, and succeeded in effecting a loan there of two hundred thousand dollars. They then started up the Mississippi river, intending to visit the seat of government at Washington.

The Texian army besieged San Antonio more than a month; during which time, the Mexican forces were confined strictly within the walls of the city. The moment a sentinel ventured without, he was shot by some of the riflemen. The garrison became almost destitute of provisions, and the surrender of the place was anticipated daily.

At this juncture, news arrived, that a large reinforcement of Mexican troops were near at hand, to relieve the garrison. This determined the besieging army to storm the city immediately. It was on the sixth day of December last, when the assault commenced. The brave Col. Milam, at the head of three hundred choice troops, led the attack.—The assault was so sudden and vehement, that neither walls nor men could successfully oppose it. After a sharp conflict, in which the assailants performed wonders, the city was gallantly taken, and the garrison made prisoners. This had hardly been[Pg 342] accomplished, when the Mexican reinforcement came up, just in time to lay down their arms to the victors. By this victory, twelve hundred men were made prisoners; and the Texians obtained two thousand stands of arms, thirty pieces of cannon, and a large amount of military stores, camp-equipments and horses, estimated to be worth five hundred thousand dollars. The loss of the enemy in killed and wounded, we have never seen stated;—on the part of the Texians, fifteen were wounded, and the brave Col. Milam and four others, killed. Col. Milam was mainly instrumental in the complete success of the assault, and fell a victim to his own zeal and intrepidity. The death of this estimable man, turned the joy of victory into sadness. Like the lamented Warren of Bunker Hill, he fell early in his country's struggle for independence;—and like him, his untimely exit was deeply deplored.

A native of Kentucky, he possessed in an eminent degree, the chivalry and noble bearing, so conspicuous in the land of his birth. In early life, he left his native State. He was the intrepid commander of the steamboat, that first threaded the mazes of Red river, beyond the great raft. At the commencement of the severe contest in Mexico, to throw off the Spanish yoke, he was engaged in her cause. In the many sanguinary battles with the armies of Spain and savage Indians, during that long and bloody war, he was engaged, and shone conspicuous. A noble spirited and an unyielding[Pg 343] patriot himself, he found at last, to his sorrow and regret, that the people, whom he aided to establish independence, were unworthy of the cause in which they were engaged. They did not understand the true principles of liberty, and knew not the value of its blessings. No sooner were they freed from foreign oppression, than anarchy and confusion reigned at home. Revolutions and counter-revolutions rapidly succeeded each other; and the unyielding Milam, alternately became a favorite and a prisoner. He had so many times been arrested and released, that he had been a tenant of every prison, from Texas to the city of Mexico. When restored to favor, by a fortunate turn of the revolutionary wheel, rewards were offered him. But his sufferings only were real; his rewards but mocked his vision. Like the rainbow in the heavens, they fled at his approach.

Years ago, he obtained a grant for a colony, on the south bank of the beautiful Colorado, a hundred miles from its mouth; but before he could make arrangements for its settlement, the grant was annulled, and he imprisoned. Misfortune seems to have marked him for her game. For a series of years, as if the intention were to mock and tantalize him, his grant would be alternately cancelled and confirmed.

Near the close of the year 1834, when the writer of this sketch saw him in Texas, his grant had been renewed under favorable auspices, and the prospect[Pg 344] before him appeared unusually flattering. But it was only the calm, bright sunshine, that precedes the tempest. He had hardly made arrangements to people his colony, and settle down in quiet repose, after so many years of disappointment, toil and suffering, when another revolution brought Santa Anna into power, and the patriot Milam was again arrested and thrust into the prison of Monterry!

But in all the changes of fortune, whether favorable or adverse, he never abjured his principles.—The unconquerable love of liberty, that animated him throughout his whole career, never once forsook him. His spirit never quailed before the minions of power—his courage never abated—and his vigorous arm never tired.

By stratagem, he escaped from his prison, just in time to render efficient aid in the capture of Goliad; and then, he hastened on to San Antonio, where he gloriously fell in the arms of victory—a martyr to the cause he had, with a steady aim, so nobly espoused and ably defended. But his memory will live in the hearts of a gallant people; and, in after times, his name will be duly honored in the celebration of their victories, and in their songs of triumph.

The capture of San Antonio completed the triumph of the Texian arms. Not an armed Mexican soldier could then be found in her territory.—Gen. Cos was released on his parole of honor, not[Pg 345] to serve during the war, unless regularly exchanged; the other officers and soldiers were retained prisoners of war.

We have now given an account of all the battles fought within the limits of Texas; but it may be proper to add some account of Gen. Mexia's expedition against Tampico.

On the sixth day of November last, one hundred and thirty men, chiefly Americans, embarked at New-Orleans on board the schooner Mary Jane for Texas. It was understood, that this vessel had been chartered by a committee, to convey emigrants to that country; and on their arrival, it was to be optional with them, whether they joined the Texian army, or not. Gen. Mexia and his staff were on board this vessel: but no intimation was given to the passengers, that the vessel had any other destination than Texas, until they arrived off the port of Tampico. They were then told, by Capt. Hawkins, one of Gen. Mexia's aids, that the object was to capture Tampico—and the passengers were urged to join the General's standard. About fifty only, most of whom were French and Creoles of New-Orleans, were induced to join his standard. A steamboat took the vessel in tow, but, in attempting to run into the port in the night, they both struck the north breakers. In this critical situation, efforts were made to land the passengers, which at much risk was at length effected, during the latter part of the night and early in the morning. The[Pg 346] fort, at the mouth of the harbor, surrendered without an attack. Arms and ammunition were then tendered to the party. Some took them from curiosity, some from necessity, and others on compulsion. Most of the Americans, on account of the deception practiced upon them, in landing at Tampico instead of Texas, were determined not to fight, but to surrender themselves prisoners the first opportunity.

The next day, the party, to the number of one hundred and eighty, marched to attack the town; but meeting with a warmer reception than they expected, they retreated to the fort. Here they found about thirty missing—all but two or three having deserted on the retreat. The General, deeming it advisable to leave the place, embarked with his men on board the schooner Halcyon, bound to Brazoria in Texas.

The deserters were taken prisoners the next day, by a company of horse, and imprisoned. After remaining in prison about a month, they were tried by a court martial; and although all these facts appeared at the trial, they were all condemned to be shot! Some attempts were made to avert their fate. A petition, signed by the prisoners and a number of Mexicans, was sent to the Commandant of the place, but it availed nothing. The sentence of death was promulgated to these hapless victims of treachery, on the afternoon of Saturday; and at sunrise the succeeding Monday, which was the four[Pg 347]teenth day of December, they were all brought out of prison, and shot! Twenty-eight men, many of them mere youths, in a distant land, far away from friends, at a few hours notice, butchered in cold blood! Humanity recoils at the perpetration of such barbarous deeds as this. Such summary proceedings, dictated by savage vengeance, cannot, on any ground, be either justified or excused.

But such has been the character of the wars in South America, ever since the Spanish Colonies strove to shake off the yoke of dependence, for more than a quarter of a century. A war of extermination was carried on by the Spaniards and the Patriots—no quarter was granted in the field—the blood of prisoners was shed like water—and a recital of the wanton cruelties and barbarities committed by both parties, during this state of protracted hostility, would cause even the savage to shudder with horror. These circumstances, as well as the whole course of conduct of the Spaniards, in relation to the inhabitants of the Leeward Islands, Mexico and Peru, are enough to establish their character as the most cruel and sanguinary people on earth.

We have mentioned that a large number of volunteers from the United States had gone to Texas, to aid the people in their struggle for independence. Three companies, numbering more than five hundred men, went from New-Orleans. Cincinnati, Natchez and Mobile, each furnished a company.—[Pg 348]And travellers state that they met small parties of volunteers, continually on the road, hurrying on to assist the Texians. Many of these arrived in time to be of much service in the last campaign; but one company, from the city of New-York, owing to the misconduct of a portion of them, were detained on the way; and, probably, have not arrived in Texas.

This party was Col. Stanly's regiment of volunteers, amounting to about two hundred men. They started from New-York in the brig Madawaska, about the middle of November. After ten day's sail, they found themselves among the Bahama banks and islands. The Captain of the brig, never having sailed the route before, became bewildered among the islands. At length he made a harbor at the island of Eleuthera, and sent a boat on shore containing seventeen men. On the island, they found the inhabitants to consist principally of blacks. Having indulged themselves pretty freely in spirits, and finding the inhabitants rather weak and ignorant, they commenced hostilities upon their effects, such as fowls, pigs, Indian meal, &c., and so terrified the people, that they would do whatever they required. They commanded them with loaded pistols at their heads, and threatened them with instant death if they disobeyed.

This indiscreet conduct of course occasioned an excited feeling, on being made known at the English naval station at Nassau, and two gun ships were[Pg 349] immediately sent in pursuit, with strict orders to board and put all to death, if any resistance was made. After cruising about a week, one of the ships came up with the Madawaska, and made them all prisoners, on a charge of piracy. They were carried into the port of Nassau in New-Providence, and there put in prison. In the course of a week, the matter was fully investigated, which resulted in the discharge of all but Col. Stanley and ten others, who were detained to await their trial for felony. The result of this trial is not now known; but if found guilty, the punishment by the English laws is known to be severe.

The remaining incidents worthy of note, connected with the Texian Revolution, may be stated in a few words. The General Consultation convened at San Felipe on the fifteenth of October.—An address to the people of the United States was adopted, appealing to our citizens for aid. Strong appeals were also made by the Council to the patriotism of the people of Texas. The Council then adjourned to the first of November; but the people were so much engaged on the frontier, that no meeting was held at that time.

On the twenty-second day of December, a document was published at Goliad, signed by a great number of persons, chiefly Americans, declaring Texas "a free, sovereign and independent State." The declaration enters somewhat at length into the condition of Texas, deplores the leniency of the[Pg 350] Texian government in permitting Cos to capitulate, and affirms that many of the officers, civil and military, are more ambitious of emoluments, than the good of the country. It is furthermore stated, that there is more danger from the corrupting influence of Santa Anna's gold, than from his bayonets. The necessity of forming an independent sovereign State immediately, in order that all her energies may be concentrated, is pointed out with great force.

On the twenty-sixth of December, a decree of the provincial Government was published, calling a Convention of Delegates from each municipality, clothed with ample powers to adopt a permanent form of government. The Delegates to be elected by the people; all free white males, and Mexicans opposed to a central government, being entitled to vote; and the volunteers in the army being allowed to vote by proxy. The whole number of Delegates to be fifty-six, and the Convention to be held at the town of Washington on the first of March.

The Texians have been very active in raising an army to commence another campaign; and it is believed, Gen. Houston was able to take the field on the first of March, at the head of five or six thousand men. The Texians, it is said, are in regular correspondence with the large party in Mexico opposed to centralism. The whole republic seems to be in a ferment. Gen. Mexia, who set out for Matamoras some weeks ago, at the head of a consider[Pg 351]able force, intending to invade the Mexican territory, was believed to have made himself master of Tampico, whence he would act in concert with the Texians on the north, and the revolting Mexicans on the south. It was currently reported at Metamoras, that several of the most influential officers in the Mexican army, had openly denounced centralism, and the state of things in the republic was such, that Santa Anna would either be obliged to return to the federal system, or abandon all hopes of power in Mexico.

The true state of affairs in Mexico, however, it is difficult to ascertain. There are only twenty-seven newspapers in the country, all of which are in a state of subjection to Santa Anna. The only two opposition journals were suppressed: the editor of one was banished to California, to enjoy "the wolf's loud howl on Onolaska's shore;" the other, Santangele, in spite of his name, was sent to the United States.

The Supreme Government, under date of the thirtieth of December, caused the following decree to be published and circulated in every district of the Republic.

"Art. 1. All foreigners that may land in any port of the Republic, or shall make their way into the interior, armed and with the intention of attacking her territory, shall be regarded and punished as pirates, considering that they do not belong to any[Pg 352] nation at war with the Republic, and that they do not act under any recognized flag.

"Art. 2. Foreigners that land in any of our ports, or seek to introduce arms and ammunition by land through any channel in a state of insurrection against the government of the nation, and with the avowed object of placing such implements of war in the hands of her enemies, shall be treated and punished in the same manner."

This decree will not be worth, to Santa Anna, the paper on which it is written. It will not deter a single individual from carrying arms and ammunition into Texas, or of joining its army. The sanguinary character of the Spaniards is too well known and established, to ask or expect any thing like clemency at their hands. The Americans needed not a decree under hand and seal, to apprise them of the true character of the Mexicans, when the history of the last twenty-five years is fresh in remembrance.

An embargo has also been laid, by order of the Mexican government, on the ports of Tampico and Metamoras, against Mexican vessels; and on all the ports of Mexico against American ships. No ingress nor egress from the ports is now permitted. The foolish expedition planned by Mexia may have led to this resort, as well as the state of affairs in Texas.

Santa Anna, believing that the permanency of his own power depends upon the subjugation of[Pg 353] Texas, is actively engaged in raising troops for another campaign. It is reported that three or four thousand men, under the command of Gen. Urrea, are on their way to the frontier. It is also reported, that he has called to his aid the Comanches and other tribes of Indians; and persuaded them to declare war against Texas; and has promised them the territory of Texas as a reward. The Indians have known the Spaniards too long to place any reliance upon their promises. They may, indeed, excite them to a war; but it is as likely to prove as disastrous to themselves, as to the Texians. The Indians are unsafe allies. Like the war-elephants of ancient times, they often injure friends more than foes. It is certain, that a deadly hatred has existed for a long series of years, between the Spaniards and Indians; and it is believed, no permanent friendship or alliance can be formed between them. They have much more friendship for the Americans, than for the Spaniards; and if they call them into action, it may prove disastrous only to themselves. The Indians are as hard to direct and control, as a fire on their own boundless prairies. The fire, uncontrolled by him who kindles it, sweeps over the plain, where the wind happens to drive; so the wild Indian, regardless of friend or foe, hurries on to kill and plunder, where his savage fury happens to impel him. But on another ground, Santa Anna had better take heed. Exciting the Indians to kill and plunder, is a game that two can play at.[Pg 354] The Texians have greater rewards to offer. They can promise them all Mexico, with its many victims and much plunder.

In conformity to the custom of nations, the Texians have adopted a flag. It contains a number of stripes, and but a single star; and has inscribed upon it the significant word, 'Independence.' On the twenty-second day of January, the New-Orleans Greys paraded at their encampment, near the mouth of the Brazos river, to display and honor their flag. At the discharge of a signal gun, William Walker, of Portsmouth, N.H., who signalized himself at the capture of San Antonio, had the honor of running it up, for the first time, on a stately flag-staff. The company presented arms, and fired a salute. Just at this time, a volunteer company, on board the steamboat Yellow Stone, from New-Orleans, came up the river, hailed the waving banner, fired a salute, and gave three cheers as they passed. The arrival of such efficient aid, at the moment the national flag was first unfurled, was deemed a happy omen; and that it may continue to wave over Texas, independent and free, is the fervent wish of every true son of freedom.

Post offices and mail routes have been established, and a Post Master General appointed. The length of all these mail routes, taken together, amount to about eight hundred miles. For a number of years, there has been no mail connection between the United States and Texas; but as the[Pg 355] communication is now so great, regular mails will be established between them.

Texas is in a critical situation; but it is believed, her cause is far from being desperate. Were Mexico united, and could she bring all her force to bear upon the contest, with the activity and zeal of American freemen, Texas would be crushed at a blow. Santa Anna's journals do indeed say, that the whole country is united in the present form of government, and perfect tranquillity prevails; but private letters contradict this statement altogether. They inform us, that Generals Bravo and Alvarez had united, taken the important town of Acapulco, on the Pacific, denounced Santa Anna, and declared for the constitution. In consequence of this movement, one hundred and fifty mules loaded with money and ammunition, and five hundred men left the city of Mexico for that quarter, about the last of January. It was believed, this news would bring Santa Anna from Saltillo to the seat of government.

From all accounts, it appears certain, that the Mexican army, three thousand strong, have left their encampment at Saltillo, for the frontier of Texas. It is formed into two divisions, the one commanded by Sesma; the other, by Cos, and the chief in command is Gen. Urrea. It is reported that a simultaneous attack upon Goliad and San Antonio, is meditated. It is highly probable, the Tex[Pg 356]ians are fully prepared for their reception, and will be able to give a good account of them.

The thin settled State of Texas, with a population of some fifty thousand, comparatively, without arms and resources, and having no organized government, engaging in a war with sixteen States, with a population of eight millions, reminds one of the stripling David, going out in the valley of Elah, to give battle to the Philistine of Gath. It requires an unusual degree of boldness and daring, to form the resolution, and to commence a war, with such an immense disparity of force. But the race is not always to the swift, nor the battle to the strong.

The Texians, and the gallant spirits that have hastened to their aid and rescue, compared in number with their enemy, are indeed but a handful of men; but, like the Spartan band of former times, they have lion-hearts and vigorous arms. What men dare, they dare! They have staked their all upon the issue. They have drawn the sword, and thrown away the scabbard. Exterminated they may be, but not subdued. Before such a band, numbers are of no avail; before such opponents, well may tyrants tremble.

The first campaign has ended in the complete overthrow of the Mexican force, in Texas. The whole course of the campaign has been signally marked by a series of battles, and almost bloodless victories, on the part of the Texians; and by con[Pg 357]tinued defeat, loss and discomfiture on the part of their enemy. The Mexicans have lost much, in men, arms and treasure; and have won nothing but disgrace. Of honor, they had none to lose.

Santa Anna has thousands of men at his command, but they do not possess the chivalrous spirit of the sons of freedom. Judging from the past, his career may be short; but as his subjects know not the value of liberty, and are not sufficiently educated for its rational enjoyment, a long list of tyrants may rapidly succeed him. But light begins to break in upon that benighted corner of the earth. The goddess of liberty, who in former times tried her infant voice in the halls and on the hills of New-England, utters it now, with a power that seems to wake the dead, on the plains of Mexico, and along the sides of the Andes.

On the part of the Texians, the struggle may be long and severe. They may be compelled to fight battle after battle, and obtain victory after victory; and suffer also, many reverses and defeats, before the scene of this awful tragedy closes. But it is confidently believed, that they will finally succeed in their effort, to become an independent nation, and to establish a free, elective government, based upon the equal rights of the people.


[Pg 358]

Second Campaign.

The second campaign commenced much sooner than was generally expected. It was believed by the Texians, that after the complete and signal overthrow of the Mexican forces in the first campaign, Santa Anna would not be able to raise another invading army, and make his appearance in Texas, before midsummer. In this, they were mistaken. Santa Anna, believing that the stability of his own government depended upon a vigorous prosecution of the war, by extraordinary exertions, raised an army of five thousand men, and by forced marches was enabled to make his appearance in Texas about the twentieth of February. This early and unexpected appearance of an invading army, accounts for the fact, that the Texians were so illy prepared for their reception.

On the twenty third of February, Santa Anna, who, contrary to general expectation, commanded in person, appeared before the town of San Antonio, at the head of the advanced division of his army, amounting to a thousand men. At this time, less than two thousand Texians were in arms in the whole province. Of these, only a hundred and fifty men, under the command of Col. W.B. Travis, were stationed at San Antonio—five hundred men, under Col. Fanning, were at Goliad, a[Pg 359] hundred and twenty-five miles to the south; and one thousand men, under Gen. Houston, at Gonzales, sixty miles to the east of this position.

San Antonio de Bexar is situated on a branch of the San Antonio river, which is here but a small stream, that can easily be crossed by slight wooden bridges. Most of the dwelling houses are on the west side of the river, but the fort is on the east side. This fort, called the Alamo, or Elm Tree fort, covers two acres of ground, and is surrounded by a thick stone wall, twenty feet high. Its position was injudiciously selected. It is situated in a valley, having elevated positions in the rear, from which balls may be thrown directly into the fort. It may therefore, be deemed an indefensible fortress.

On the arrival of this division, Santa Anna took possession of the town, and demanded an unconditional surrender of the fort, or the whole garrison would indiscriminately be put to the sword. The intrepid Col. Travis answered this demand by a cannon shot. Immediately, a bombardment from a five inch howitzer, and a heavy cannonade commenced, which was continued for twenty-four hours. This was sustained by the Texians without the loss of a single man, while they made a terrible slaughter in the ranks of their besiegers. From five to six hundred of the enemy are reported to have been killed and wounded.

[Pg 360]

About this time, a party of seventy men, under the command of Col. Johnson, while reconnoitering to the westward of San Patricio, were surrounded in the night, by a large body of Mexican troops. In the morning, the commander sent in a summons to surrender at discretion, which was refused; but an offer was made to surrender as prisoners of war. This was acceded to by the Mexican officer; but no sooner had the party marched out of their encampment, and stacked their arms, than the mean, cowardly, blood-thirsty Mexicans commenced a general fire upon the defenceless prisoners! An attempt was made to escape by flight—three only effected it, among whom was Col. Johnson—the others were shot down and basely murdered.

On the twenty-fifth of February, an assault was made upon the fort, an account of which, we give in the words of Col. Travis' despatch to Gen. Houston:—

"To-day at ten o'clock, A.M. some two or three hundred crossed the river below, and came up under cover of the houses, until they arrived within point blank shot, when we opened a heavy discharge of grape and canister on them, together with a well directed fire from small arms, which forced them to halt and take shelter in the houses about eighty or a hundred rods from our batteries. The action continued to rage for about two hours, when the enemy retreated in confusion, dragging off their dead and wounded.

[Pg 361]

During the action, the enemy kept up a continual bombardment, and discharge of balls, grape and canister. We know from observation, that many of the enemy were killed and wounded—while we, on our part, have not lost a man. Two or three of our men have been slightly scratched by pieces of rock, but not disabled. I take great pleasure in stating, that both officers and men, conducted themselves with firmness and bravery.—Lieut. Simmons of the Cavalry, acting as Infantry, and Captains Carey and Dickerson and Blair of the Artillery, rendered essential services, and Chas. Despallier and Robert Brown, gallantly sallied out and set fire to the houses, which afforded the enemy shelter, in the face of the enemy's fire. Indeed the whole of the men, who were brought into action, conducted themselves with such undaunted heroism, that it would be injustice to discriminate. The Hon. David Crockett was seen at all points, animating the men to do their duty. Our numbers are few, and the enemy still continues to approximate his works to ours. I have every reason to apprehend an attack from his whole force very soon. But I shall hold out to the last extremity."

On the first of March, thirty-two men from Gonzales, forced their way through the enemy's lines, and entered the fort—increasing the number to one hundred and eighty-two. Between the twenty-fifth of February and the fifth of March,[Pg 362] the Mexicans were employed in erecting breastworks around the fort, bombarding the place and battering the walls. On the second of March, Col. Travis wrote, that more than two hundred shells had been thrown into the fort without injuring a man.

In the mean time, the Mexicans continued to receive re-enforcements. The whole force amounted to about forty-five hundred men. It consisted of forty companies of Infantry, numbering about seventy men each, under Generals Sesma and Cos; and fifteen hundred Cavalry, under Gen. Felisolas; and the whole commanded by Santa Anna in person.

On the sixth of March, about midnight, a general assault was made upon the fort by the entire Mexican force. The walls were weak, the balls from the batteries had passed through them, and, in some places, had become somewhat dilapidated. The cavalry surrounded the fort, and the infantry, well supplied with scaling ladders attempted to enter the fort on all sides at the same time.

The Texians fought desperately until daylight, when seven only of the garrison were found alive. We regret to say, that Col. David Crockett and his companion Mr. Benton, also the gallant Col. Benham of South-Carolina, were of the number who cried for quarter, but they were told that there was no mercy for them. They then continued fighting until the whole were butchered. One woman[Pg 363] (Mrs. Dickinson) and a wounded negro servant of Col. Travis, were the only persons in the Alamo whose lives were spared. Col. Bowie was murdered in his bed, sick and helpless. Gen. Cos, on entering the fort ordered Col. Travis' servant to point out to him the body of his master; he did so, when Cos drew his sword and mangled his face and limbs with the malignant feeling of a savage.

The bodies of the slain were thrown into a heap in the centre of the Alamo and burned. On Col. Bowie's body being brought out, Gen. Cos said that he was too brave a man to be burned like a dog; then added,—never mind, throw him in. The loss of the Mexicans in storming the place was estimated at no less than one thousand men killed and mortally wounded, and as many more disabled—making, with their loss in the first assault, between two and three thousand killed and wounded. It is worthy of remark that the flag of Santa Anna's army at Bexar was a blood red one, in place of the old constitutional tri-colored flag. Immediately after the capture of the place, Gen. Santa Anna sent Mrs. Dickinson and Col. Travis' servant to Gen. Houston's camp, accompanied by a Mexican with a flag, who was bearer of a note from Santa Anna, offering the Texians peace and a general amnesty, if they would lay down their arms and submit to his government. Gen. Houston's reply was, "True sir, you have succeeded in killing some of our brave men, but the Texians are not yet conquered."

[Pg 364]

Thus fell the brave defenders of San Antonio. Among the heroes, who perished in the unequal conflict, were Col. W.B. Travis, Col. Jas. Bowie and Col. David Crockett, formerly a member of Congress from the State of Tennessee—every one of whom was himself a host. By a comparison of dates, it appears that this little garrison of one hundred and eighty-two men, held out eleven days against the repeated attacks of an army amounting at last, by constant re-enforcements, to five thousand men. All that the most determined bravery could achieve, was accomplished by the besieged. Although worn down by fatigue and want of sleep, which the continual alarms and discharges of artillery rendered nearly impossible, while the more numerous besiegers could relieve each other, the brave band in the fort did not die unavenged. In the various attacks from first to last, it is probable that they destroyed of the enemy, eight or ten times their own number. The history of their achievements and sufferings, in this memorable siege, may never be known in detail; but enough is revealed to immortalize the names of these martyrs in the cause of liberty, and to stamp with eternal infamy and disgrace their remorseless besiegers. Something of the chivalrous spirit that animated and sustained this truly Spartan band during this trying occasion, may be seen by the despatch of Col. Travis, addressed to his fellow citizens and compatriots, during the siege. He[Pg 365] says, "I shall defend myself to the last extremity, and die as becomes a soldier. I never intend to retreat or surrender. Victory or Death."

This was the first victory obtained by the Mexicans; and the slaughter of the whole garrison confirmed, what was before suspected, that the contest on their part, was to be a war of extermination. No quarter is to be given, or only granted to be violated. The bloody butcheries of defenceless prisoners, as might have been expected, had the opposite effect intended. Instead of striking terror and dismay into the ranks of the Texians, and palsying their efforts, it only served to arouse and awaken them into more vigorous action. Every man, capable of bearing arms, shouldered his rifle, and marched in double quick time to the theatre of war. The news caused a general excitement throughout the United States. New-Orleans exhibited all the hurry and bustle of a camp; and the western and southern riflemen, by hundreds and fifties, hurried on to the scene of slaughter, to avenge the death of their murdered countrymen.

The character of Gen. Cos stands out in bold relief, as the meanest of the mean. When he and his command were made prisoners of war by the Texians on this very spot of his present savage triumphs, they were humanely treated, and suffered to return home on their parole of honor. This solemn pledge, universally acknowledged and observed by all civilized nations, and all honorable men, Cos[Pg 366] has seen fit to disregard. He again appears in arms, and has forfeited his parole of honor. He now stands before the world, in the character of an outlaw. But, as if this were not sufficient to brand his name with infamy, he seemed determined that his actions should be in perfect keeping with his degraded sense of honor; so as to exhibit to the world, the humiliating spectacle of a character entirely perfect in treachery and baseness. Therefore, instead of waging war according to the rules of civilized nations, he basely murdered the sick in their beds, and mutilated the bodies of the slain; and instead of decently burying the dead, he threw their bodies into a heap and burnt them like dogs! A fit instrument, in the hands of Santa Anna, to teach the people of Texas, the blessings of Centralism! But it does not require much forecast to predict, that the Mexicans have kindled a flame at St. Antonio, that many waters will not be able to quench,—that the day of severe retribution and bloody vengeance is nigh. And when it shall have arrived, where will be the voice to plead for such remorseless murderers as these!

On the second day of March, the people of Texas, by their delegates, made a declaration of Independence. It is called, "the unanimous declaration of Independence, made by the Delegates of the People of Texas, in General Convention, made at the town of Washington, on the second day of March, 1836." It is an able state paper, written[Pg 367] with much spirit and vigor; but, in gracefulness of style and force of expression, it does not equal its model—the celebrated Declaration of Independence of the United States, from the polished pen of a Jefferson. It contains a statement of grievances, which is submitted to an impartial world, in justification of the hazardous but unavoidable step, of severing their connection with the Mexican people, and of assuming an independent attitude among the nations of the earth. As it is too long to be inserted in this sketch, the following extract, which of itself contains a sufficient reason for the 'hazardous step' taken, must suffice.

"The Mexican government, by its colonization laws, invited and induced the Anglo-American population of Texas, to colonize the wilderness, under the pledged faith of a written constitution, that they should continue to enjoy that constitutional liberty and republican government to which they had been habituated in the land of their birth, the United States of America. In this expectation, they have been cruelly disappointed—as the Mexican nation has acquiesced in the late changes made in the government by General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna; who, having overturned the constitution of this country, now offers us the cruel alternative, either to abandon our own homes, acquired by so many privations, or submit to the most intolerable of all tyranny, the combined despotism of the sword and the priesthood."

[Pg 368]

Of this convention, Richard Ellis was President, and W.S. Kimball, Secretary. When the news of the fall of San Antonio arrived at the Convention, a powerful appeal to the people of the United States, was immediately adopted, and sent to New-Orleans to be published in the newspapers. A constitution was formed, and the officers of government appointed as follows:—

David G. Burnet, Pres. of the Republic of Texas.
Lorenzo D. Zavalla, Vice President.
Samuel P. Carson, Secretary of State.
Thomas I. Rush, Secretary of War.
Bailey Hardman, Secretary of the Treasury.
Robert Potter, Secretary of the Navy.
David Thomas, Attorney General.
I.R. Jones, Postmaster General.

President Burnet is a native of Newark in New-Jersey, by profession a lawyer—a gentleman of education, accomplished manners and of the purest integrity.

Immediately after the capture of San Antonio, Goliad was besieged by the enemy under the command of Gen. Urrea. Colonel Fanning, contrary to his own judgment, but in obedience to positive instructions from Gen. Houston, blew up the fort and commenced a retreat to the main army. His force amounted to about three hundred and fifty men, and seven pieces of artillery. They had pro[Pg 369]ceeded about eight miles to the eastward of the fort, when they were surrounded in a large prairie, by two thousand Mexicans, consisting of infantry and cavalry. The advance guard of twenty-five men under Col. Wharton were, by this movement cut off from the main force; and believing it to be a mere waste of life to return, they continued on, and escaped.

Col. Fanning evacuated the fort on the nineteenth of March; and it was about four o'clock, in the afternoon of the same day, that the attack commenced, and lasted until sometime into night. The cavalry made many charges upon them in rapid succession, but were repulsed with great slaughter. Col. Fanning continued fighting and retreating, until he gained a small grove of post-oaks in the midst of the prairie. This afforded him a sufficient protection from the charges of the cavalry, and the battle ceased. Col. Fanning's loss was inconsiderable, but one hundred and ninety of the enemy were ascertained to have been slain, and as many more wounded.

This grove was immediately surrounded by the enemy, and a renewal of the battle was expected in the morning. Col. Fanning, well knowing escape to be impossible, entrenched himself during the night and was resolved not to die unavenged. In the morning, however, the enemy showed a white flag, and Col. Fanning went out to meet the Mexican General. A capitulation was made with the[Pg 370] usual forms of honorable warfare; Col. Fanning was to lay down his arms, and march back to Goliad, where they were to remain six or eight days as prisoners of war, to be shipped to New-Orleans from Copano. They surrendered on these conditions; on the sixth day after their arrival at Goliad, they were assured that a vessel was ready to receive them at Copano, to embark for New-Orleans, and Col. Fanning marched out in file, the Mexicans each side of him. They were marched down about five miles, when the order was given to fire upon them. At the first fire, nearly every man fell—a Mr. Haddin of Texas and three others succeeded in reaching some bushes about one hundred yards distant. They were pursued by the enemy into the high grass, where they lost sight of them. Haddin remained in the grass all night; in the morning he succeeded in making his escape.

It is difficult to speak of such cowardly and more than savage massacres, with any tolerable degree of composure. The deeds of Santa Anna are written in blood, and every triumph but deepens the stain.

If the first campaign was all victory, the second has hitherto been all defeat. The affairs of Texas appear to have been badly managed. San Antonio, being an indefensible position, ought to have been abandoned at once; but Goliad, the strongest fortress in Texas, ought to have been maintained to the last. It would have kept the southern division[Pg 371] in check, and given time to the Texians to have received re-enforcements, so that they could have prosecuted the war with vigor and success.

Gen. Houston, after the capture of San Antonio, retreated from Gonzales to the Colorado, and then, to the Brazos river. The southern half of Texas, being thus left destitute of any armed force, the invading army had nothing to do but to march forward into the interior, and to make war upon unarmed citizens and travellers, and defenceless women and children. The Mexican army proceeded in two divisions of about two thousand men each; the one, on the line of the sea coast; the other, about one hundred miles in the interior towards San Felipe; and troops of horse scoured the country in various directions between them. A general alarm and dismay seized the inhabitants. On the north the Indians, incited by Santa Anna, were reported to have embodied in force, and were proceeding into the country, to plunder and slaughter; from the south, approached the Mexican army, more savage than the Indians, waging a war of extermination! Before such merciless foes, the inhabitants fled, like clouds of dust before the storm. The peril was so imminent, that they were obliged to abandon all their possessions and flee for life. Some went to the sea coast and embarked on board vessels for New-Orleans; others crossed the Sabine river into Louisiana. The settlements of Texas, to the south of the Brazos, were entirely broken up, and[Pg 372] the whole country became the theatre of armies, battles, murders and massacres.

Among the inhuman massacres committed, we shall notice two only. The first is that of seventy-three emigrants, who left New-Orleans in a schooner, for Copano. They were landed unarmed at that port, trusting themselves to the power of the Mexicans; but in less than two hours, they were all butchered by the soldiers in sight of the vessel! The schooner escaped to Matagorda. The other case is that of Dr. Harrison, the son of Gen. Harrison of Ohio. He was travelling with three other American gentlemen, when they were all taken, their bodies horridly mutilated, their bowels torn out, and then left in that situation a prey to the vultures!

Some small skirmishes took place at sea, in which the Texians were successful. They captured one schooner loaded with ammunition and supplies for the Mexican army; and sunk another, after a running fight with the Invincible. But neither party have much of a naval force.

At this critical juncture of alarm and distress, Gen. Gaines, the commander of the United States troops at fort Jessup, marched to the line of Texas to keep the Indians in check, and to prevent their joining the Mexican forces; and for the purpose of carrying his plans into complete effect, he called upon the Governors of the adjacent States for a number of regiments of mounted men. This was[Pg 373] a wise and humane movement. The Indians in the upper regions of Texas and on the frontiers of the United States, are numerous and warlike; and when engaged in war, they neither respect territorial lines, nor the rules of civilized nations. They inhabit the country from latitude thirty-four degrees north on Red River, to the Rio del Norte, extending to the road that leads from St. Louis (Mo.) to Santa Fe; south to the head waters of Trinity, Guadaloupe, Brazos and Colorado rivers of Texas—a country in length six hundred miles, and breadth from two hundred and fifty to four hundred miles, mostly prairie. The different tribes are Camanches, Kyawas, Towash or Southern Pawnees, Caddoes, Wacoes and Skiddies. They number about thirty-five thousand in all, and can muster from seven to eight thousand restless warriors in this great Western Prairie.

The reported movements of the Indians, however, proved to be greatly exaggerated. Some small parties started for the theatre of the war, but were induced by the prompt action and warning of Gen. Gaines, to return home and be quiet. Being assured that the Indians would remain peaceable, Gen. Gaines countermanded his call upon the States for mounted volunteers, and marched his forces back to fort Jessup and Nachitoches.

The affairs of Texas, at this time wore a gloomy aspect. All the expeditions into Mexico, beyond the limits of Texas, proved disastrous and unsuc[Pg 374]cessful. The people of the Mexican States proved to be more united in Centralism than was expected. The aid, which many so sanguinely anticipated from that quarter, proved a mere illusion. It now became manifest, that the Texians, with such aid as they could obtain from the United States, must fight her own battles single handed, against the combined forces of all the Mexican provinces.

Gen. Houston, after remaining sometime at his encampment on the Brazos river, retreated about thirty miles further, and crossed the San Jacinta. Santa Anna, with one division of his army, crossed the Brazos fifteen miles below San Felipe, and took the road to Harrisburg. The object of Gen. Houston seems to have been, to retire before the invading army, until it arrived into the centre of the country, and then, give them battle. Although by this course, he left half of the State to the ravages of the enemy, yet he deemed this step unavoidable. His force was too small to hazard all, upon the issue of a battle, far away from reinforcements and supplies.

On the nineteenth of April, General Houston's scouts took a courier, who gave information that the Mexican Army were near at hand, on the west side of the San Jacinta river. Immediately, General Houston, at the head of about seven hundred effective men, took up the line of march and arrived in sight of the enemy on the morning of the twentieth. The day was spent in reconnoitering[Pg 375] the enemy, and exchanging a few shots between the artillery without much effect on either side. But the particulars of this battle and glorious victory, which resulted in the

Capture of Santa Anna,

and the entire division under his command, we shall give in the words of a number of individuals who were in the contest.

"On the morning of the twenty-first, the enemy commenced manœuvering, and we expected to be attacked in our camp, as they had received a reinforcement of five hundred men, which made them twelve hundred strong; but they settled down and continued throwing up a breast work, which they had commenced at the first news of our approach. We commenced the attack upon them at half past four o'clock, P.M. by a hot fire from our artillery, consisting of two ordinary four pounders. The enemy returned our fire with a long brass nine pounder. The contest was a regular battle. The Texians, notwithstanding the great disparity of force, positively demanded of Gen. Houston to fight. Consequently, he ordered an advanced guard against the Mexican; yet enjoined them not to attack, but retreat, to bring the enemy into a defile. This being accomplished, Houston immediately flanked and attacked him in front and on both sides—opening first with artillery, which, on the second fire, dispersed to atoms the powder boxes of[Pg 376] the Mexicans; and then with rifles. The Texians then rushed in from their ambuscade, with pistols, knives and hatchets, and completed the work of destruction. The fight lasted about fifteen minutes, when Santa Anna ordered a retreat. The Mexican soldiers then threw down their arms, most of them without firing! and begged for quarters. The officers broke and endeavored to escape. The mounted riflemen, however, soon overtook all but one, who distanced the rest; him they ran fifteen miles, when his horse bogged down in the prairie near the Brazos timber; he then made for the timber on foot. His pursuers in the eagerness of the chase, dashed into the same bog, and continued the pursuit on foot, following the trail of the fugitive, which was very plain, owing to the recent rains, until they reached the timber, where it was lost. The pursuers then spread themselves and searched the woods for a long time in vain, when it occurred to an old Hunter that the chase might, like a hard pressed bear, have taken a tree. The tree tops were then examined, when lo, the game was discovered snugly ensconced in the forks of a large live oak. The captors did not know who the prisoner was, until they reached the camp, when the Mexican soldiers exclaimed, "El General, El General Santa Anna!""

Never was a victory more decisive and complete. Six hundred of the enemy were left dead upon the field, and as many more taken prisoners. Among[Pg 377] the killed were, Gen. Cos, who was recognized by a soldier after the battle, and immediately shot; Gen. Castrillion, Col. Batnes, Col. Trivino, Col. Don Jose Maria Remero, Lieut. Col. Castillo.

Among the prisoners were Gen. Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, his five aids, six Colonels, five Captains, and twelve Lieutenants.

Houston was wounded in the ancle by a musket ball in the early part of the engagement; but remained on his horse until it terminated.

On the part of the Texians, only six men were killed and twenty wounded! The history of war does not furnish a parallel to this splendid victory; but Gen. Houston did not tarnish the laurels so gallantly won, by following the example of the Mexicans, in shooting his prisoners of war. They were removed to Galveston Island; and Gen. Santa Anna and his officers were put on board of an armed schooner, and anchored off the shore. Gen. Santa Anna made a proposition that all his army in Texas should lay down their arms—the Independence of Texas acknowledged—the expense of the war to be paid by Mexico, and himself to remain as a hostage. These were to be the terms of peace; but, unfortunately, he does not possess the power to fulfil them. Mexico will not probably, either agree to pay the expense of the war, or to acknowledge the Independence of Texas. The Texian war is national in Mexico; and Santa Anna continued his power solely by directing the popular fu[Pg 378]ry against Texas. His death would give general satisfaction through the Mexican republic; and the Texian war will enable some other brave to rise into power in Mexico.

Although this signal victory may not terminate the war in Texas, as there are still nearly three thousand Mexicans there, under Generals Ardrade, Urrea and Sesma; and about five thousand more at Saltillo, ready to enter; yet we believe, it fully settles the question of Texian Independence. The capture of Santa Anna will cause a new revolution in Mexico, and a new organization of government. The Texians will gain time to prepare for the contest. Aid, effective and sufficient, will be received from the United States; and it is not probable that another general will be found, to prosecute the war with the experience and vigor of Santa Anna.

The question respecting the acknowledgement of the independence of Texas by the United States, has been moved and discussed in Congress. There seems to be a diversity of opinion among our citizens, whether it would be preferable to acknowledge its independence, or to have it annexed to the United States. Our opinion is, that for all the useful purposes of a good government, the territorial limits of the United States are already sufficiently extensive. If more territory were added, the nation would become too unwieldly to be well managed, and in time would fall to pieces. Texas, of[Pg 379] itself, has larger territorial limits than many of the nations of Europe; and when it shall have gained its independence, if wise heads and pure hearts take the lead in its government, it will soon be settled and become a powerful nation.

[Pg 380]

San Felipe is the head quarters of Austin's Colony. It is situated on the south bank of the Brazos river, a hundred miles from the sea. It is three hundred miles southwest from Natchitoches, and five hundred miles west of New-Orleans. The following table shows the distance and bearing of the principal towns in Texas from San Felipe, the names of the rivers and bays upon which they are situated, and their distance from the sea coast. Those accessable to sea vessels, have a star prefixed.

Towns. Distance from
San Felipe.
Direction. River or Bay on
which it is situated.
Distance from
the sea.
San Antonio, 170 W. San Antonio, 200
St. Augustine, 250 N.E. Ayish Bayou, 150
*Anahuac, 120 E. Galveston Bay,   50
*Brazoria,   75 S.E. Brazos,   30
*Bolivar,   50 S.E. Brazos,   55
Bastrap, 100 N.W. Colorado, 180
*Columbia,   65 S.E. Brazos,   40
Cole's Settlement,   40 N. Prairie, 140
*Copano, 150 S.W. Aransaso Bay,   25
Electra,   45 N.W. Colorado, 150
Goliad, 125 S.W. San Antonio,   75
Gonzales, 125 W. Guadalupe, 180
*Harrisburg,   65 E. Galveston Bay,   75
Liberty, 125 N.E. Trinity,   55
*Linchburg,   75 N.E. Galveston Bay,   75
*Matagorda, 100 S. Colorado,   20
Montezuma,   35 W. Colorado, 130
*Matamoras, 280 S.W. Rio del Norte,   45
Monclova, 390 S.W. On Prairie, 280
Nacogdoches, 245 N.E. On Prairie, 150
*Orazimba,   55 S.E. Brazos,   50
*Refugio, 290 S. Rio del Norte,     1
San Patrick, 180 S.W. Neuces,   50
Tinoxtitlan, 100 N.W. Brazos, 200
*Velasco, 100 S.E. Brazos,     0
Victoria, 100 S.W. Guadalupe,   75
Zavallas, 200 N.E. Neches,   80

Transcribers note:

Apart from a few obvious printers errors original spelling has been retained.





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