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Title: Early Western Travels 1748-1846, Volume 28

Author: Various

Editor: Reuben Gold Thwaites

Release Date: January 22, 2015 [EBook #48046]

Language: English

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Early Western Travels



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

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

Reuben Gold Thwaites, LL.D.

Editor of "The Jesuit Relations and Allied Documents," "Original Journals of the Lewis and Clark Expedition," "Hennepin's New Discovery," etc.


Part I of Farnham's Travels in the Great Western Prairies, etc., May 21-October 16, 1839

Cleveland, Ohio

The Arthur H. Clark Company


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Copyright 1906, by



The Lakeside Press



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Preface to Volumes XXVIII and XXIX. The Editor 9
Travels in the Great Western Prairies, the Anahuac and Rocky Mountains, and in the Oregon Country. [Part I, being Volume I and chapters i-iv of Volume II of the London edition, 1843.] Thomas Jefferson Farnham.
Preface by the First Editor 25
Author's Preface 27
Author's Introduction 29
Author's Table of Contents 41
Text of Part I 45
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Facsimile of title-page to Farnham's Travels, Vol. I 23
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With these two volumes our series returns to Oregon, and to the question already shadowed forth upon the horizon, whether this vast territory drained by the Columbia River should belong to the United States or to Great Britain. Since the treaty of joint occupancy (1818) the English fur-traders had been in almost exclusive control. From the upper waters of the great rivers that drain the Arctic plains they had pushed their way across the Rockies down into the fertile southern valleys, and had explored, mapped, and threaded the entire region lying between Spanish territory on the south and Russian on the north. Between the great mountain barrier on the east, and the Pacific on the west, they held the country as a vast preserve in which fur-bearing animals might be reared and hunted. For many years the American right to joint occupancy lay in abeyance. After his thrilling journey of exploration and adventure, Jedediah S. Smith was cordially received at Fort Vancouver (1828), his injuries by predatory Indians avenged, and his furs purchased by the company's factor; in return for this courtesy, however, he considered himself in honor bound to restrict the further trapping enterprises of his firm to the eastern side of the Rocky Mountains. When Captain Bonneville, with his band of trappers, reached the forts on the upper Columbia (1833) he was courteously but firmly refused the privilege of trading at posts of the Hudson's Bay Company. Thus, fifteen years after joint occupancy had been arranged, there was scarcely an American in Oregon.

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In our volume xxi we traced the rise and fall of the trading adventures to this far Western territory of Captain Nathaniel Wyeth of Massachusetts. His two expeditions left on the Willamette River a small residuum of New Englanders, and before his departure he had seen the coming of the first American missionaries, pioneers then as now in advancing American interests. The existence of Oregon had now come to be known to a considerable body of our people, its fertility and beauty had been enlarged upon by several writers, its advantages pictured, and its possession desired.

In returning to the United States, one of the missionaries, Jason Lee, undertook a tour through the border states of the West, lecturing and raising funds for his work. In the autumn of 1838 he stopped at the Illinois town of Peoria, where his glowing descriptions of the land whence he came produced an impression sufficiently lasting to result in the organization of an emigration society, which prepared to set forth for this land of promise early the following spring. Among the band was a young Vermont lawyer, Thomas Jefferson Farnham, who a few years earlier had removed to Illinois, and who now sought on the Western prairies recuperation of his wasting health through outdoor exploits and change of scene. He also avowed a patriotic purpose to take possession of this fair territory of Oregon for the American flag, and to aid in resisting the British fur-trade monopoly. His address and eloquence won him the honor of being chosen captain of the small band of nineteen adventurers, none of whom knew aught of wilderness life or was prepared to endure the hardships of the proposed journey.

Notwithstanding the serious purpose expressed in the motto worked by Mrs. Farnham upon the flag of the little company—"Oregon or the Grave"—they set forth in a[Pg 11] holiday mood, ill-equipped for traversing the vast and rugged spaces lying between Illinois and the Pacific Slope. Each member of the "Oregon Dragoons," as they styled themselves, was expected to furnish $160 in money to serve for outfit and provisions.

The thirtieth of May, 1839, found them leaving Independence, on the western border of Missouri, provided with "bacon and flour, salt and pepper sufficient for four hundred miles," as well as the necessary arms and ammunition carefully packed on horses and mules. By the advice of two experienced fur-traders returning from the mountains, the travellers determined upon the Santa Fé trail, probably because of the escort privileges in connection with the annual caravan just setting forth. Therein they made a serious mistake, for the route across the mountains from the upper Arkansas to Snake River valley was infinitely more difficult and dangerous than the ordinary Oregon Trail, by way of the North Platte, Sweetwater, and South Pass; it was also less frequented by experienced mountain men, who could offer advice and assistance to the amateur travellers. Moreover the usual seeds of dissension and dissatisfaction had already been sown in the little party, each blaming others for the hardships and trials already experienced. Some of Farnham's followers pronounced the leader incompetent. Several deserted at the Lower Crossing of the Arkansas, preferring to follow the caravan to Santa Fé; while at Bent's Fort, on the upper trail, the remainder of the party left their leader with but four companions, one of these a man who had been accidentally wounded in crossing the plains. Of the "mutineers," who crossed to Fort St. Vrain, above Denver, the majority arrived in Oregon that or the following year.

Farnham, however, having secured a competent guide, with undiminished energy pushed on across the ranges of[Pg 12] the Colorado mountains, through the mazes of its parks and passes, and halted awhile at Brown's Hole. This was the most difficult part of the journey. With graphic touches our author makes us feel the hardships, hunger and thirst, the Indian alarms, and the surprise and joy of meeting mountain men; while at the same time he is not oblivious to the rugged grandeur of the scenery, or the delicate tints of sunrise and sunset, and the majesty of the starlit nights among the hills. At Fort David Crockett, in Brown's Hole, two more of Farnham's comrades turned back, discouraged by the gloomy prospects, and the disheartening accounts of Oregon furnished by a returning guide. Here also Kelly, the unerring scout, was to leave the party, now consisting of but three travellers, who were under the necessity of trusting to the guidance of Shoshoni Indian "Jim" as far as the hospitable gates of Fort Hall. Here, the Shoshoni guide was exchanged for a Wallawalla, who contracted to conduct the party across the arid wastes of Snake River valley, halting briefly at Fort Boise, and leading the way over the Blue Mountains to the valley of the Wallawalla and the upper Columbia. There meeting a Christian Cayuse on his way to Dr. Whitman's mission at Waiilatpu, Farnham turned aside for a brief rest at this hospitable station, whose owners were "desirous to ask me how long a balloon line had been running between the States and the Pacific." Resting a few days under their mission roof, Farnham gives a favorable report of the activities and the success of the missionaries. Passing on his way by Fort Wallawalla down the Columbia to the Hudson's Bay Company's headquarters at Fort Vancouver, he there received the customary courtesy extended to all travellers in that distant region, this account closing our volume xxviii.

Three weeks' recuperation from the hardships of the four months of difficult journeying refreshed our traveller suffi[Pg 13]ciently to set him forth on an exploration of the settled portions of the country. He visited the Willamette valley, where he met the Methodist missionaries, and his presence furnished the opportunity to discuss the desirability of American occupation. A petition was thereupon set on foot, of which Farnham was undoubtedly the author, signed by seventy settlers of the valley, praying the United States to take them under its protection and describing the country as "one of the most favored portions of the globe." The language of the petition being much more favorable to Oregon than Farnham's later writings, these latter caused some acrimony among his Willamette hosts, one of whom told Commodore Wilkes, the following year, that a few days before Farnham left his party were lost in the woods and obliged to pass a cold and dark night, standing up to their ankles in mire, which cured the visitor of his enthusiasm for the country.[1] Certain it is that Farnham wrote from the Sandwich Islands early in January, 1840, that everything in the Oregon country had been much overrated except the seat of the Methodist mission.[2]

Whatever may have been the cause of Farnham's change of heart, after a brief sojourn, he left Oregon on the Hudson's Bay Company's vessel bound for Hawaii. Thence he took passage for the coast of California, where he arrived at Monterey during one of those tempestuous revolutions to which Latin-American governments are subject. A number of American residents had been imprisoned by the successful revolutionists on charge of complicity with the losing party. According to Farnham's own account,[3] given in somewhat grandiloquent style, it was largely due to his [Pg 14]efforts that the lives of the Americans were saved, and that they were shipped on transports to Mexico for trial. Lingering a few days longer to enjoy a fiesta on the seashore near Monterey, and to visit the neighboring Carmelo mission, our traveller embarked for Santa Barbara, finally arriving at San Blas on the sixteenth of May, 1840. Thence he undertook a hurried journey across Mexico and through its gulf to New Orleans, which brought him once more to the confines of his native land. He now "ascended the Father of Waters to the holy and blooming plains of my Prairie Home—to wife—and the graves of those I loved among the trees at Prairie Lodge."

The remainder of Farnham's life was passed in literary labors, and in travels throughout the United States in search of health. In 1841 he was in New York City. At one time the family moved to Wisconsin for a brief period, but soon settled in the neighborhood of Alton, Illinois. About 1846 Farnham returned to California, where he died at San Francisco in September, 1848. His wife, Eliza Woodson Farnham, acquired some reputation as an author and philanthropist. She successfully attempted prison reform among the women inmates at Sing Sing, for a time assisted Dr. Howe in the Massachusetts Institute for the Blind, and revisited California, of whose early days she wrote entertainingly.

No doubt Farnham's books did much to awaken interest in the Western country, and to call attention to its possibilities. Written in an easy, attractive style, although somewhat garrulous in tone and inclined to speculative digressions, they were in their day popular works and ran through several editions, being widely read in the Eastern and Middle States.[4] Their interest for our present series [Pg 15]lies chiefly in the description of the journey across the plains, by a route differing much from those of other travellers. Farnham's descriptions are detailed and well phrased. The first after Pike to thread the passes of the upper Arkansas, he vividly portrays the Colorado mountain valleys, streams, and ranges, the grandeur and nobility of the views, and the fertility of the great parks, and makes his readers realize the hardy endurance needed for such mountain journeyings in that early day. Encounters with Indians were rare in these regions, but occasional meetings with solitary trappers add a human interest to the picture of the wilderness. The life of these mountain men—their Indian families, their poverty, generosity, recklessness, and almost passionate attachment for the wild life that claimed them—Farnham describes with a sympathetic touch. He also gathered information at first hand concerning the Indians of the region, the status of the fur-trade, and the far-reaching operations of the Hudson's Bay Company. His information on Oregon is, to be sure, largely the report of hearsay. He includes in his descriptions the vast region of New Caledonia, whose factors he met at Fort Vancouver, and whose resources and geography he describes in general terms. The value of his Oregon material lies chiefly in the reports of his own experiences and impressions. It is interesting for us to know how the Western missionary operations, the progress of early Willamette settlement, and the aspect of the new land impressed a vivacious and observant New Englander with a gift for easy narrative. His book is thus an important contribution to our series.

The experiences of Father Pierre Jean de Smet, the indefatigable [Pg 16]Jesuit missionary traveller, were introduced to our readers in volume xxvii of this series, where the initiation of his Flathead mission, in Bitterroot valley, was narrated, together with his subsequent return to St. Louis by way of the country of the Crows and the Missouri River. The second account of his work, which we here republish, is entitled Oregon Missions and Travels over the Rocky Mountains in 1845-46 (New York, 1847).

After returning from his second journey to the Flathead country, which included his first visit to the Columbia and the Oregon settlements (1840-42), Father de Smet went to Europe to obtain re-inforcements for his mission and apostolic sanction for his work. Gathering a company of sisters of Notre Dame to lay the foundation of a convent and school in the Willamette valley, and enlarging his mission forces by the addition of a Belgian and three Italian priests, Father de Smet embarked from Antwerp for a sea voyage to the North-west Coast. This was sighted July 28, 1844, after a tedious passage of eight months around Cape Horn.

Having established the nuns in their convent on the Willamette, Father de Smet set forth across the mountains to visit his aboriginal neophytes, who had been gathered at the missions of St. Mary and St. Francis Borgia. On his way he instituted the mission of St. Ignatius for the Pend d'Oreilles on the lake of that name. The following year, a great journey was accomplished by the intrepid missionary in search of the warlike Blackfeet, whose raids were so disastrous to the peaceable Indians surrounding the missions. Thinking best to approach them through the medium of the Hudson's Bay Company's traders, De Smet proceeded to the head of Columbia River, crossed the divide to the waters of the Saskatchewan, and found himself at the company's Rocky Mountain House on October 5, 1845. After negotiations with the Blackfeet, he proceeded thence to[Pg 17] Fort Augustus, where were spent the early weeks of the winter of 1846. Impatient to be at work, the eager traveller left his comfortable quarters early in March, proceeding on the ice to Jasper House, at the eastern end of Athabasca Pass, pressing on to the "Foot of the Great Glaciere," there awaiting the Columbian fur-trade brigade which arrived early in May. The traders reported the pass in a dangerous condition, for the snow was deep and in a melting state, and snow-shoes were the only possible means of travelling. Despite his unwieldy bulk, and his unacquaintance with such mode of travelling, the resolute missionary immediately donned the prescribed foot-gear and amid much hardship and suffering made his way with his faithful Indian guides over the mountain barrier to the forts of New Caledonia. Thence he descended the Columbia to Fort Colville which he reached by the end of May. Allowing himself but a brief rest, he once more made the round of his Oregon missions, going to Vancouver and the Willamette, back across the Spokane plains to the Cœur d'Alène mission, and finally to St. Mary's, "the nursery of our missionary operations in the Far West."

The expenses of the enlarging missions required consideration, so Father de Smet was deputed to visit St. Louis in their behalf. On the way he once more sought his cherished object of securing peace with the Blackfeet. This time his mission proved successful, for after three weeks in a Blackfoot camp the good priest had the happiness not only to establish an alliance between the Flathead chiefs who accompanied him and their redoubtable foes, but also of reconciling among the Blackfeet themselves two warring bands of Blood and Piegan Indians. With a thankful heart the missionary embarked from Fort Lewis, near the site of the later Fort Benton, leaving Father Point to continue his labors among the new admirers of the "black gowns."

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Floating in a tiny skiff down the upper Missouri, Fort Union was reached October 11; Fort Berthold was passed seven days later, and the end of the month found our tireless traveller the guest of Honoré Picotte at the American Company's Fort Pierre. Just below Council Bluffs he encountered Brigham Young and his settlement of ten thousand Mormons, whose persecutions and sufferings the good father declares, "will one day probably form a prominent part of the history of the Far West." Once more in St. Louis, the missionary terminates his volume with a sketch of a Potawatomi mission and a graphic account of the custom of human sacrifice among the Pawnee Loups.

The later career of Father de Smet falls without the field of our inquiry. Although in "labors abundant" until the end of his days, he never returned as missionary to the mountain tribes among whom his earlier days were so happily but strenuously spent. The superiors of his society found other work for him in the province of St. Louis, permitting him only an occasional visit of supervision to his "dear Indians" of the Far West. Thrice his aid was requested by the United States government to assist in pacification, and in important Indian negotiations. His influence and fame among the red men was so great that a sight of his black robe was sufficient to impel them to a peaceful humor. His services to Western settlement were thus incalculable.

In the volume of Oregon Missions, which we here republish, De Smet is seen in the fullness of his powers, physical and mental. With few words, but with graphic touches, he describes the regions through which he passes, and the Indian tribes and their customs—thus adding much to the material on far Western geography and ethnology which has already been included in our series.

In the preparation of both these volumes for the press, the[Pg 19] Editor has had the assistance of Louise Phelps Kellogg, Ph.D., his editorial assistant on the staff of the Wisconsin Historical Library.

R. G. T.

Madison, Wis., June, 1906.

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[1] Charles Wilkes, Narrative of United States Exploring Expedition (Philadelphia 1844), iv, p. 348.

[2] Niles' Register, lviii, p. 242.

[3] Travels in the Californias and Scenes in the Pacific Ocean (New York, 1844).

[4] In successive editions, his books appear under different titles; but the subject matter is largely the same, one detailing his experiences crossing the continent and in Oregon, the other narrating the California visit. To the latter was added in later editions a history of the American conquest of California. Farnham also published a work on Mexico, in style similar to the others.

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Part I of Farnham's Travels in the Great Western Prairies, etc., May 21-October 16, 1839

Reprint of Volume I and chapters i-iv of Volume II of original London edition, 1843

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Publisher in Ordinary to Her Majesty


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This authentic account of the Great Western Prairies and Oregon Territory supplies a deficiency which has been felt for a long time. The author, by his own personal observations, has been enabled to furnish a very interesting narrative of travel; and whether he treats of the Prairies, or of the Oregon region, the various incidents related by him cannot fail to give entertainment and instruction.

With respect to the Introduction, in which the Author asserts the claims of the United States to the Oregon Territory little need be said here: the subject will no doubt receive the full consideration of the Governments interested in the decision of the question.

London, 1843.

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It was customary in old times for all Authors to enter the world of letters on their knees, and with uncovered head, and a bow of charming meekness write themselves some brainless dolt's "most humble and obedient servant." In later days, the same feigned subserviency has shown itself in other forms. One desires that some will kindly pardon the weakness and imbecility of his production; for, although these faults may exist in his book, he wrote under "most adverse circumstances," as the crying of a hopeful child, the quarrels of his poultry, and other disasters of the season.

Another, clothed with the mantle of the sweetest self-complacency, looks out from his Preface, like a sun-dog on the morning sky, and merely shines out the query, "Am I not a Sun?" while he secures a retreat for his self-love, in case any body should suppose he ever indulged such a singular sentiment.

{viii} A few others of our literary shades make no pretensions to modesty. They hold out to the world no need of aid in laying the foundations of their fame; and, however adverse the opinions of the times may be to their claims to renown, they are sure of living hereafter, and only regret they should have lived a hundred years before the world was prepared to receive them.

There is another class, who, confident that they understand the subjects they treat of, if nothing else, and that, speaking plain truth for the information of plain men, they cannot fail to narrate matter of interest concerning scenes or incidents they have witnessed, and sensations they have experienced—trouble not themselves with the qualms[Pg 28] of inability, or lack of polish, but speak from the heart. These write their names on their title-pages, and leave their readers at leisure to judge of their merits as they develop themselves in the work itself, without any special pleading or any deprecatory prayers to the reviews, by


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The Oregon Territory forms the terminus of these Travels; and, as that country is an object of much interest on both sides of the Atlantic, I have thought proper to preface my wanderings there by a brief discussion of the question as to whom it belongs.

By treaties between the United States and Spain and Mexico and Russia, the southern boundary of Oregon is fixed on the 42nd parallel of north latitude; and the northern on an east and west line, at 54° 40´ north.[5] Its natural boundary on the east is the main ridge of the Rocky Mountains, situated about four hundred miles east of the Pacific Ocean, which washes it on the west. From these data the reader will observe that it is about six hundred miles in length, and four hundred in breadth.

According to the well-established laws of nations applicable to the premises, the title to the sovereignty over it depends upon the prior discovery and occupancy {x} of it, and upon cessions by treaty from the first discoverer and occupant. These several important matters I proceed to examine, with Greenough's History of the North-west Coast of America, and the works therein named, before me as sources of reference.[6]

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From the year 1532 to 1540, the Spanish government sent four expeditions to explore the north-west coast of America, in search of what did not exist—a water communication from the Pacific to the Atlantic. These fleets were severally commanded by Mazuela, Grijalva, Becera, and Ulloa. They visited the coast of California, and the south-western shore of Oregon.[7]

The next naval expedition, under the same Power, commanded by Bartoleme Ferrello, penetrated to the north as far as latitude 43°, and discovered Cape Blanco.[8]

Juan de Fuca discovered and entered the Straits that bear his name in the year 1592. He spent twenty days within the Straits in making himself acquainted with the surrounding country, trading with the natives, and in taking [Pg 31]possession of the adjacent territories in the name of the Spanish Crown.[9] The Straits de Fuca enter the land in latitude 49° north, and, running {xi} one hundred miles in a south-easterly direction, change their course north-westwardly, and enter the ocean again under latitude 51° north. Thus it appears that Spain discovered the Oregon Coast from latitude 42° to 49° north two hundred and fifty-one years ago; and, as will appear by reference to dates, one hundred and eighty-four years prior to the celebrated English Expedition under Captain Cook.[10]

In 1602, and subsequent years, Corran and Viscaino, in the employment of Spain, surveyed many parts of the Oregon Coast, and in the following year Aguiler, in the same service, discovered the mouth of the Umpqua River in latitude 44° north.[11]

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In August, 1774, Parez and Martinez, under the Spanish flag, discovered and anchored in Nootka Sound. It lies between 49° and 50° of north latitude.[12]

In 1774 and 1775 the north-west coast was explored by Parez and Martinez of the Spanish service, as far north as the 58th parallel of latitude.[13]

On the 6th day of May, 1789, the Spanish Captain Martinez, commanding two national armed vessels, took possession of Nootka Sound and the adjoining country. {xii} Previous to this event, say the authorities referred to, no jurisdiction had been exercised by the subjects of any civilized power on any part of the north-west coast of America between 37° and 60° of north latitude.

Thus is it shown on how firm and incontrovertible data the Spanish claims rest to the prior discovery and occupancy of the Oregon Territory.

But as against England this claim was rendered if possible more certain by the treaty of February 10th, 1763, between Spain, England and France—by which England was confirmed in her Canadian possessions, and Spain in her discoveries and purchased possessions west of the Mississippi. If, then, England has any claim to Oregon as derived from Spain, it must rest on treaty stipulations entered into subsequently to the 10th of February, 1763.

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We accordingly find her to have formed a treaty with Spain in the year 1800, settling the difficulties between the two powers in relation to Nootka Sound. By the first article of the convention, Spain agreed to restore to England those portions of the country around Nootka Sound which England {xiii} has so occupied in regard to time and manner as to have acquired a right to them. The 5th article stipulates as follows:

"5th. As well in the places which are to be restored to the British subjects by virtue of the first article as in all other ports of the North-West Coast of North America, or of the Island, adjacent, situate to the north of the coast already occupied by Spain wherein the subjects of either of the two Powers shall have made settlements since the month of April 1789, or shall hereafter make any. The subjects of the other shall have free access and shall carry on their trade without any disturbance or molestation."[14]

The inquiries that naturally arise here are, on what places or parts of the North-West Coast did this article operate; what rights were granted by it, and to what extent the United States, as the successors of Spain, in the ownership of Oregon, are bound by this treaty?

These will be considered in their order.

Clearly the old Spanish settlements of the Californias[Pg 34] were not included among the places or parts of the North-West Coast on which this article was intended to operate, for the reason that England, the party in {xiv} interest, has never claimed that they were. But on the contrary, in all her diplomatic and commercial intercourse with Spain since 1800, she has treated the soil of the Californias with the same consideration that she has any portion of the Spanish territories in Europe.—And since that country has formed a department of the Mexican Republic, England has set up no claims within its limits under this treaty.

Was Nootka Sound embraced among the places referred to in this article? That was the only settlement on the North-West Coast, of the subjects of Spain or England, made between the month of April, 1787, and the date of the treaty, and was undoubtedly embraced in the Fifth Article. And so was the remainder of the coast, lying northward of Nootka, on which Spain had claims. It did not extend south of Nootka Sound. Not an inch of soil in the valley of the Columbia and its tributaries was included in the provisions of the treaty of 1763.

Our next inquiry relates to the nature and extent of the rights at Nootka, and northward, which England acquired by this treaty. They are defined in the concluding phrase of the article before cited. The subjects {xv} of both the contracting Powers "shall have free access, and shall carry on their trade without disturbance or molestation." In other words the subjects of England shall have the same right to establish trading posts and carry on a trade with the Indians, as were, or should be enjoyed by Spanish subjects in those regions. Does this stipulation abrogate the sovereignty of Spain over those territories? England herself can scarcely urge with seriousness a proposition so ridiculously absurd. A grant of an equal right to settle in a country for purposes of trade, and a guarantee[Pg 35] against "disturbance" and "molestation," does not, in any vocabulary, imply a cession of the sovereignty of the territory in which these acts are to be done.

The number and nature of the rights granted to England by this treaty, are simply a right to the joint occupancy of Nootka and the Spanish territories to the northward, for purposes of trade with the Indians; a joint tenancy, subject to be terminated at the will of the owner of the title to the fee and the sovereignty; and, if not thus terminated, to be terminated by the operations of the necessity of things—the annihilation of the trade {xvi}—the destruction of the Indians themselves as they should fall before the march of civilisation. It could not have been a perpetual right, in the contemplation of either of the contracting parties.

But there are reasons why the provisions of the treaty of 1763 never had been, and never can be binding on the United States as the successors of Spain in the Oregon territory.

There is the evidence of private gentlemen of the most undoubted character to show, that Spain neither surrendered to England any portion of Nootka, or other parts of the north-west coast; for that if she offered to do so, the offer was not acted upon by England; and testimony to the same effect in the debates of the times in the Parliament of Britain, in which this important fact is distinctly asserted, authorise us to declare that the treaty of 1763 was annulled by Spain, and so considered by England herself. And if England did not mean to show the world that she acquiesced in the non-fulfilment of Spain, she should have re-asserted her rights, if she thought she had any, and not left third parties to infer that she had quietly abandoned them. The United States had every reason to infer {xvii} such abandonment; and in view of it, thus manifested,[Pg 36] purchased Oregon of Spain. Under these circumstances, with what justice can England, after the lapse of nearly half a century, come forward and demand of the successor of Spain rights in Oregon which she thus virtually abandoned—which were refused by Spain, and to which she never had the shadow of a right on the score of prior discovery, occupancy or purchase? The perpetually controlling and selfishness of her policy is the only plea that history will assign to her in accounting for her pretensions in this matter.

England also places her claim to Oregon upon the right of discovery. Let us examine this:—

The first English vessel which visited that coast was commanded by Francis Drake. He entered the Pacific in 1770[15] and sailed up the coast to the 45th parallel of north latitude, and then returned to the 38th degree; accepted the crown of the native Prince in the name of his Queen—called the country New Albion, returned to England and was knighted.

{xviii} The portions of Oregon seen by Drake had been seen and explored by the Spaniards several times within the previous thirty years.[16]

Sir Thomas Cavendish next came upon the coast; but did not see so much of it as Drake had seen.[17]

The celebrated Captain Cook followed Cavendish. He [Pg 37]saw the coast in latitude 43 and 48 degrees. He passed the Straits de Fuca without seeing them, and anchored in Nootka Sound on the 16th February, 1779.[18] In trading with the Indians there, he found that they had weapons of iron, ornaments of brass, and spoons of Spanish manufacture. Nootka had been discovered and occupied by the Spaniards four years before Cook arrived.

The subsequent English navigators—Messrs. Vancouver,[19] and others, so far as the Oregon coast was the field of their labours, were followers in the tracks pointed out by the previous discoveries of the Spaniards.

So ends the claim of England to Oregon, on the right of prior discovery. As opposed to England, Spain's rights on this principle were incontestible.

{xix} By the treaty of Florida, ratified February 22nd, 1819, Spain ceded to the United States her right in the Oregon territory, in the following words: "His Catholic Majesty cedes to the said United States all his rights, claims, and pretensions to any territories east and north of said line;" meaning the 42nd parallel of north latitude, commencing at the head waters of the Arkansas, and running west to the Pacific; "and for himself, his heirs and successors, renounces all claim to the said territories for ever."

But the United States have rights to Oregon which of themselves annihilate the pretensions not only of England but the world. Her citizens first discovered that the country on which Nootka Sound is situated was an island; they first navigated that part of the Straits of Fuca lying between Puget's Sound and Queen Charlotte's Island, and discovered the main coast of north-west America, from latitude 48° to 50° north. American citizens also discovered Queen Charlotte's [Pg 38]Island, sailed around it, and discovered the main land to the east of it, as far north as latitude 55°.[20]

England can show no discoveries between these latitudes so important as these; and consequently has not equal rights with the {xx} Americans as a discoverer, to that part of Oregon north of the 49th degree of latitude. We also discovered the Columbia River;[21] and its whole valley, in virtue of that discovery, accrues to us under the laws of nations. One of these laws is that the nation which discovers the mouth of a river, by implication discovers the whole country watered by it. We discovered the mouth of the Columbia and most of its branches; and that valley is ours against the world—ours, also, by purchase from Spain, the first discoverer and occupant of the coast—ours by prior occupancy of its great river and valley, and by that law which gives us, in virtue of such discovery and occupancy, the territories naturally dependent upon such valley.[22] We are the rightful and sole owner of all those parts of Oregon, which are [Pg 39]not watered by the Columbia, lying on its northern and southern border, and which, in the language of the law, are naturally dependent upon it. Oregon territory, for all these reasons is the rightful property of the United States.

[Pg 40]


[5] Our treaty with Spain, made in 1819, adjusted the boundary as far as the Pacific Ocean, between the latter's possessions in North America and those of the United States; see Gregg's Commerce of the Prairies, in our volume xix, p. 217, note 52. By this convention the United States considered itself the heir of all Spanish claims north of the international boundary line (42°).

Our treaty with Mexico, in 1828, ratified the boundary as defined by the Spanish treaty of 1819.

By our convention with Russia in 1824, the two countries agreed to make no settlements north or south, respectively, of the line 54° 40´. This by no means established the United States claim as far as the line specified.—Ed.

[6] Robert Greenhow, born in Virginia in 1800, was educated at William and Mary College and later studied medicine in New York, afterwards spending some years in Europe. In 1828 he was appointed clerk in the department of state at Washington, where he soon rose to the position of official translator and librarian, an office retained until 1850, when he went to California with the United States Land Commission, dying in San Francisco in 1854. In 1837 he prepared, at the request of the Senate, a History of the Discovery of the North-west Coast, published in Senate Docs., 26 Cong., 1 sess., 174. This was later expanded into a History of Oregon and California (Boston, 1845). His access to the records of the state department, and his knowledge of Spanish sources, make Greenhow's books authoritative in their field.—Ed.

[7] In his History of Oregon and California, Greenhow adds information to that given in his first volume, regarding these expeditions. His chief source of information was the work of Herrera, although he secured journals of some of the voyagers from W. H. Prescott. All of these expeditions were inspired by Hernando de Cortez. The first (1532) was headed by his kinsman Hurtado de Mendoza, whose lieutenant Juan de Mazuela brought back one vessel after his superior officer had been killed. In 1533, Hernando Grivalja and Diego Becerra were sent to search for the survivors. The former returned without touching mainland; Becerra was killed in a mutiny, and his pilot, Fortuño Ximenes, is supposed to have touched the southern end of the peninsula of Lower California. Farnham omits mention of Cortez's own expedition of 1535-36, when he also is supposed to have reached Lower California. In 1539-40, Francisco de Ulloa proved that this was not an island, and explored its coast to about 30° north latitude.—Ed.

[8] This relates to the voyage (1542-43) of Juan Rodriguez de Cabrillo. The leader of the expedition died upon one of the Santa Barbara Islands (January, 1543), but his pilot Bartolomé Ferrelo sailed farther north. The location of his northern point of exploration is given as 43°, which would be near Cape Blanco; but recent editors consider that there was an early error of calculation, and that Cape Mendocino is the more probable point. Ferrelo in all likelihood advanced as far as the southern boundary of Oregon. See translation of journal of the expedition, with valuable notes by H. W. Henshaw, in United States Geographical Surveys West of the One Hundredth Meridian (Washington, 1879), vii, pp. 293-314.—Ed.

[9] The voyage of Juan de Fuca is generally considered apocryphal. Greenhow, however, thinks it probable, from the correspondence of the straits now called by his name with the great passage he claimed to have entered. The only authority for the alleged voyage of De Fuca, who was a Greek pilot in the service of Spain, is the relation of Michael Lok, an Englishman, who claimed to have met De Fuca at Venice. Lok's story was published by Purchas in his Pilgrims (1625) and on its face was a bid for patronage from the English court.—Ed.

[10] For Cook's discovery of the Hawaiian Islands and his death thereupon, see Franchère's Narrative in our volume vi, p. 209, note 21. During his northward expedition he skirted the entire North-west Coast from Cape Mendocino to North Cape, in the Arctic Ocean, not finding, however, either the entrance to the Columbia or to Puget Sound.—Ed.

[11] The expedition commanded by Admiral Torribio Gomez de Corvan and Sebastian Vizcaino was equipped by the Mexican governor, Count de Monterey (1602). Corvan returned home from the harbor of Monterey, while Vizcaino with his lieutenant Martin Aguilar pushed northward. The identification of the headlands which they named, is now difficult. H. H. Bancroft, History of the North-west Coast (San Francisco, 1886), i, p. 148, concludes that neither Vizcaino nor Aguilar passed 42° latitude. Farnham's identification of the river described by Aguilar as the Umpqua appears to rest upon his own authority.—Ed.

[12] The account of the expedition of Juan Perez, who with his lieutenant Estévan Martinez penetrated to the northern end of Queen Charlotte's Island, and passed some months in a bay probably to be identified with Nootka Sound, was not given to the world by the Spaniards until years later; the English therefore considered themselves, in the person of Captain Cook, the discoverers of this portion of the North-west Coast.—Ed.

[13] This refers to the voyage of Bruno Heceta in 1775, Juan Perez being second in command. This expedition discovered the mouth of the Columbia and took possession for Spain of the entire North-west Coast from 42° to 55° of north latitude.—Ed.

[14] This is a brief but imperfect résumé of what is known as the Nootka Sound controversy. Martinez seized three English vessels, and carried them as a prize to San Bias, Mexico. The English resenting this, war nearly ensued, but the difficulty was adjusted by the Nootka convention, signed October 28, 1790 (not 1800). The Washington State Historical Society has recently signalized this event by erecting a monument at Nootka Sound, containing the following inscription: "Vancouver and Quadra [English and Spanish representatives respectively] met here in August 1792 under the treaty between Spain and Great Britain of October 1790. Erected by the Washington University State Historical Society, August, 1903." The matter was not wholly adjusted until 1795. Consult Bancroft, North-west Coast, i, pp. 204-238; Greenhow, Oregon and California, pp. 185-215, and particularly W. R. Manning, "Nootka Sound Controversy," in American Historical Association Report, 1904, pp. 283-475.—Ed.

[15] This date is incorrect. It was in 1577; and he sailed to the 48th parallel of north latitude.—English Editor.

[16] Much has been written on Drake's famous voyage of circumnavigation (1577-80), when first of any known Englishmen he explored the North-west Coast of America, searching for a North-west passage. Bancroft concludes (North-west Coast, p. 145) that he did not go north of 43° north latitude. See also on this subject, Julian S. Corbett, Drake and the Tudor Navy (New York, 1898), i, p. 306; and especially Miller Christy, Silver Map of the World (London, 1904), p. 20, wherein, on the evidence of the chart, Drake's voyage is traced as far north as 48°. For Drake's Bay, see our volume vi, p. 257, note 66.—Ed.

[17] It is generally conceded that Sir Thomas Cavendish's freebooting expedition of 1587 did not proceed north of the peninsula of Lower California.—Ed.

[18] He was killed on the 14th February, 1779.—English Ed.

[19] For Vancouver see Franchère's Narrative, given in our volume vi, p. 184, note 2.—Ed.

[20] Farnham here refers to the voyages of the "Columbia" and "Washington" (1787), sent out by Boston merchants under command of Captains John Kendrick and Robert Gray. After wintering at Nootka (1788-89), Gray explored the coast to the northward. Unaware of earlier English explorations, he christened Queen Charlotte's as Washington Island. The question of Kendrick's exploration (1790) of Puget Sound is much in doubt. Farnham makes a specious plea at this point—his cited authority, Greenhow, admits the discovery (1787) of Queen Charlotte's Island by Dixon, and by Berkely (1787) of the Straits of Juan de Fuca. A recent historian of Oregon (H. S. Lyman, History of Oregon, ii, p. 93), however, claims that the Americans by their boldness of exploration and exact charting of the northern shores, were the real discoverers of the territory as far as 54° 40´.—Ed.

[21] Referring to the second voyage of Captain Robert Gray. See our volume vi, p. 183, note 1.—Ed.

[22] The prior occupancy was the settlement at Astoria, for which see prefaces to Franchère's Narrative, in our volume vi, and Ross's Oregon Settlers in our volume vii. After the close of the War of 1812-15, the United States made application in accordance with the Treaty of Ghent for the restoration of Astoria, which accordingly was formally transferred, October 6, 1818, to Commissioner J. H. Prevost and Captain J. Biddle. No use was made, however, of this sovereignty, the treaty of joint occupancy being signed October 20, of the same year.—Ed.[Pg 41]


The Rendezvous—The Destination—The Education of Mules—The Santa Fé Traders—The Mormons—The Holy War—Entrance upon the Indian Territory—A Scene—An Encampment—A Loss—A Hunt—The Osage River—A Meeting and Parting—Kauzaus Indians—An Indian Encampment—Council Grove—Ruins—An Indian and his Wants—Elk—A Tempest—Captain Kelly—A comfortless Night 45
Scarcity of Food—An Incident—Looing and Bleating—Messrs. Bents—Trade—Little Arkansas—A Nauseous Meal—A Flood—An Onset—A Hard Ride—The Deliverance—The Arkansas—An Attack—The Similitude of Death—The Feast and a bit of Philosophy—The Traders Walworth and Alvarez's Teams—A Fright—A Nation of Indians—Their Camp and Hunts—A Treaty—A Tempest—Indian Butchering—A Hunt among the Buffalo—A Wounded Man—A Drive—A Storm and its Enemy—Night among the Buffalo—The Country and the Heavens—The Ford—A Mutiny and its Consequences—Blistered Fingers—Liberty—Bent's Fort—Disbanding 69
The Great Prairie Wilderness—Its Rivers and Soil—Its People and their Territories—Choctaws—Chickasaws—Cherokees—Creeks—Senecas and Shawnees—Seminoles—Pottawatamies—Weas—Pionkashas—Peorias and Kaskaskias—Ottowas—Shawnees or Shawanoes—Delawares—Kausaus—Kickapoos—Sauks and Foxes—Iowas—Otoes—Omehas—Puncahs—Pawnees, remnants—Carankauas—Cumanche, remnants—Knistineaux—Naudowisses or Sioux—Chippeways, and their traditions 108
Fort William—its Structure, Owners, People, Animals, Business, Adventures, and Hazards—A Division—A March—Fort el[Pg 42] Puebla—Trappers and Whisky—A Genius—An Adventurous Iroquois—A Kentuckian—Horses and Servant—A Trade—A Start—Arkansas and Country—Wolfano Mountains—Creeks—Rio Wolfano—A Plague of Egypt—Cordilleras—James' Peak—Pike's Peak—A Bath—The Prison of the Arkansas—Entrance of the Rocky Mountains—A Vale 161
An Ascent—A Misfortune—A Death—The Mountain of the Holy Cross—Leaping Pines—Killing a Buffalo {xxiii}—Asses and Tyrants—Panther, &c.—Geography—Something about descending the Colorado of the West—Dividing Ridges—A Scene—Tumbleton's Park—A War Whoop—Meeting of Old Fellow Trappers—A Notable Tramp—My Mare—The etiquette of the Mountains—Kelly's Old Camp, &c.—A Great Heart—Little Bear River—Vegetables and Bitterness—Two White Men, a Squaw and Child—A Dead Shot—What is Tasteful—Trapping—Blackfoot and Sioux—A Bloody Incident—A Cave—Hot Spring—The Country—A Surprise—American and Canadian Trappers—The Grand River—Old Park—Death before us—The Mule—Despair 213
{v} CHAPTER VI {I of Vol. II, original ed.}
Bear Hunt—Sulphur Puddle—The River—Wolves and their Fare—Dog Eating—Little Snake River—Thirst—Deserts—Mountains—Mountain Hottentots—Brown's Hole—Fort David Crockett—Traders—Winter and its Hilarities—Love—The Way to get a Wife—A Recommendation to Civilized People—The Colorado of the West—Club Indians—The Shoshonies—An Indian Temperance Society—The Crows—The Blackfeet—Unburied Skeletons—The Arrapahoes, and Citizenship among them—War Parties—Lodge of the Great Spirit—Religious Ceremonies—The Vow and an Incident—The First Shoshonie who saw a White Man 243
An Arrival from Fort Hall—An Account from Oregon—Return of two of my companions to the States—A startling Condition—An Indian Guide—A Farewell—{vi} How a Horse studies Geology—A Camp—Dog Mutton superseded—A Scene—Sheetskadee—Butes—Desolation—Midnight Scene in the Mountains—Indian Jim and the Buffalo—Hungry Stomachs—A fat Shot—Fine Eyesight—An old Trapper picked up—Beautiful Desert—"Hos, Hos"—Meek the Bear Killer—A wild Vale—Steamboat Spring—Natural Soda Foun[Pg 43]tains—Neighbouring Landscape—A hard Drive—Valley of Chasm—Nature's Vase—A heavy March—Passing the Mountains—A charming Gorge—Entrance into Oregon—The South Branch of the Columbia—Fort Hall and its Hospitalities 274
The Rocky Mountains and their Spurs—Geography of the Mountain Region—Wyeth—The Outset—The Beaver Catcher's Bride—Trois Butes—Addition from a Monastery—Orisons—A Merry Mountain Trapper—Root Diggers—Enormous Springs—Volcanic Hearths and Chasms—Carbo—An old Chief—A Bluff—Boisais River—Incident of Trade—The Bonaks—The Dead Wail—Fort Boisais, its Salmon, Butter, and Hearty Cheer—Mons. Payette—Curiosity—Departure—Passing the Blue Mountains—The Grandeur of them—Their Forests, Flowers, and Torrents—Descent of the Mountains—Plain, a Christian Crane—Arrival at Dr. Whitman's Mission—Wallawalla—People—Farm—Mill—Learning—Religion—Mr. Ermitinger—Blair—Nez Percés—Racing—Indian Horse Training—Sabbath and its joys in the Wilderness 303
{vii} CHAPTER IX {IV of Vol. II}
Parting with Friends—Wallawalla Valley—Fort Wallawalla—Mr. Pambrun—The Columbia—Country down its banks—What was seen of Rock Earth—Wood, Fire, and Water—Danger, &c. from the Heights—Falling Mountain—Morning Hymn to God—Giant's Causeway—A View of the Frozen Sublime—Tum Tum Orter' and other appurtenances—Dalles—Methodist Episcopal Mission—Mr. and Mrs. Perkins—Mr. Lee—Mission Premises—Egyptian Pyramids—Indians—How Fifty Indians can fight One—Boston—The Result of a War—Descent of the Columbia in a Canoe—A Night on the River—The Poetry of the Wilderness—The Cascades—Postage—Dr. McLaughlin—Indian Tombs—Death—A Race—The River and its Banks—Night again—Mounts Washington and Jefferson—Arrival—Fort Vancouver—British Hospitality 346
[Pg 44]
[Pg 45]




The Rendezvous—The Destination—The Education of Mules—The Santa Fé Traders—The Mormons—The Holy War—Entrance upon the Indian Territory—A Scene—An Encampment—A Loss—A Hunt—The Osage River—A Meeting and Parting—Kauzaus Indians—An Indian Encampment—Council Grove—Ruins—An Indian and his Wants—Elk—A Tempest—Captain Kelly—A comfortless Night.

On the 21st of May, 1839, the author and sixteen others arrived in the town of Independence, Missouri.[23] Our destination was the Oregon Territory. Some of our number sought health in the wilderness—others sought the wilderness for its own sake—and others sought a residence among the ancient forests and lofty heights of the valley of the Columbia; and each actuated by his own peculiar reasons, or interest, began his preparations for leaving the frontier.[24] {2} Pack mules and horses and pack-saddles were purchased and prepared for service. Bacon and flour, salt and pepper, sufficient for four hundred miles, were secured in sacks; our powder-casks were wrapt in painted canvas, [Pg 46]and large oil-cloths were purchased to protect these and our sacks of clothing from the rains; our arms were thoroughly repaired; bullets were moulded; powder-horns and cap-boxes filled; and all else done that was deemed needful, before we struck our tent for the Indian territory.

But before leaving this little woodland town, it will be interesting to remember that it is the usual place of rendezvous and "outfit" for the overland traders to Santa Fé and other Mexican states. In the month of May of each year, these traders congregate here, and buy large Pennsylvania waggons, and teams of mules to convey their calicoes, cottons, cloths, boots, shoes, etc. over the plains to that distant and hazardous market. It is quite amusing to greenhorns, as those are called who have never been engaged in the trade, to see the mules make their first attempt at practical pulling. They are harnessed in a team, two upon the shaft, and the remainder two abreast in {3} long swinging iron traces; and then, by way of initiatory intimation that they have passed from a life of monotonous contemplation, in the seclusion of their nursery pastures, to the bustling duties of the "Santa Fé trade," a hot iron is applied to the thigh or shoulder of each, with an embrace so cordially warm, as to leave there, in blistered perfection, the initials of their last owner's name. This done, a Mexican Spaniard, as chief muleteer, mounts the right-hand wheel mule, and another, the left hand one of the span next the leaders, while four or five others, as foot-guard, stand on either side, armed with whips and thongs. The team is straightened—and now comes the trial of passive obedience. The chief muleteer gives the shout of march, and drives his long spurs into the sides of the animal that bears him; his companion before follows his example; but there is no movement. A leer—an unearthly bray, is the only response of these martyrs to human supremacy. Again the team is straightened, again the[Pg 47] rowel is applied, the body-guard on foot raise the shout, and all apply the lash at the same moment. The untutored animals kick and leap, rear and plunge, and fall in their harness. In fine, they act the mule, {4} and generally succeed in breaking neck or limb of some one of their number, and in raising a tumult that would do credit to any order of animals accustomed to long ears.

After a few trainings, however, of this description, they move off in fine style. And, although some luckless animal may at intervals brace himself up to an uncompromising resistance of such encroachment upon his freedom, still, the majority preferring passive obedience to active pelting, drag him onward, till, like themselves, he submits to the discipline of the traces.

'Independence' was the first location of the Mormons west of the Mississippi. Here they laid out grounds for their temple, built the 'Lord's store,' and in other ways prepared the place for the permanent establishment of their community. But, becoming obnoxious to their neighbours, they crossed the Missouri, and founded the town of 'Far West.' In 1838 they recommenced certain practices of their faith in their new abode, and were ejected from the state by its military forces.[25]

The misfortunes of these people seem to have arisen from proceeding upon certain rules of action peculiar to themselves. The basis of these rules is the assumption that {5} they are the "Saints of the Most High," to whom the Lord promised of old the inheritance of the earth; and that as such they have the right to take possession of whatever they may be inspired to desire. Any means are justifiable, in their belief, to bring about the restoration to the "Children of God" of that which He has bequeathed to[Pg 48] them. In obedience to these rules of action, any Mormon or "Latter-Day Saint" labouring for hire on a "worldly" man's plantation, claimed the right to direct what improvements should be made on the premises; what trees should be felled, and what grounds should, from time to time, be cultivated. If this prerogative of saintship were questioned by the warm-blooded Missourians, they were with great coolness and gravity informed that their godly servants expected in a short time to be in comfortable possession of their employers' premises; for that the Latter-Days had come, and with them the Saints; that wars and carnage were to be expected; and that the Latter-Day Prophet had learned, in his communications with the Court of Heaven, that the Missourians were to be exterminated on the first enlargement of the borders of "Zion;" and that over the graves of those "enemies {6} of all righteousness" would spring that vast spiritual temple which was "to fill the earth."

The prospect of being thus immolated upon the altar of Mormonism, did not produce so much humility and trembling among these hardy frontiersmen as the prophet Joe had benevolently desired. On the contrary, the pious intimation that their throats would be cut to glorify God, was resisted by some ruthless and sinful act of self-defence; and all the denunciations of the holy brotherhood were impiously scorned as idle words. However, in spite of the irreligious wrath of these deluded, benighted Missourians, the Saints cut timber wherever they listed on the domains which were claimed by the people of the world. And if the "Lord's hogs or horses" wanted corn, the farms in the hands of the wicked were resorted to at a convenient hour of the night for a supply. In all these cases, the "Saints" manifested a kind regard to the happiness even of the enemies of their faith. For whenever they took corn from fields in possession of the world's people, they not only[Pg 49] avoided exciting unholy wrath by allowing themselves to be seen in the act, but, in order that peace might {7} reign in the bosoms of the wicked, even, the longest possible time, they stripped that portion of the harvest field which would be last seen by the ungodly owner.

The "Church militant," however, being inefficient and weak, the Prophet Joe declared that it was their duty to use whatever means the Lord might furnish to strengthen themselves. And as one powerful means would be the keeping of its doings as much as possible from the world, it was he said, the will of Heaven, revealed to him in proper form, that in no case, when called before the ungodly tribunals of this perverse and blind generation, should they reveal, for any cause, any matter or thing which might, in its consequences, bring upon the brotherhood the infliction of those pretended rules of Justice, by the world called Laws. Under the protection of this prophecy, a band of the brethren was organized, called the "Tribe of Dan," whose duty it was to take and bring to the "Lord's store," in the far West, any of the Lord's personal estate which they might find in the possession of the world, and which might be useful to the "Saints," in advancing their kingdom. Great good is said to have been done by this Tribe of Dan; {8} for the Lord's store was soon filled, and the Saints praised the name of Joe. The Prophet's face shone with the light of an all-subduing delight at the increase of "Zion," and the efficiency of his administration.

The Missourians, however, were destitute of the Latter-Day Faith, and of just views of the rights devised to those, who, in the Lord's name, should destroy his adversaries, and restore the earth to the dominion of millennial righteousness. Poor mortals and deluded sinners! They believed that the vain and worldly enactments of legislative bodies were to prevail against the inspirations of the Latter-Day[Pg 50] Prophet Joe; and in their unsanctified zeal, declared the Saints to be thieves, and unjust, and murderous; and the Tribe of Dan to be a pest to the constitutional and acknowledged inherent and natural right to acquire, possess, and enjoy property. From this honest difference of opinion arose the "Mormon War," whose great events are recorded in the narrative of the "Latter-Day Saints?" Some events, there were, however, not worthy to find record there, which may be related here.

The Governor of the Missouri[26] ordered {9} out the State troops to fight and subdue the Mormons, and take from them the property which the "Tribe of Dan" had deposited in the "Lord's brick store" in the "citadel of Zion," called "Far West." It was in 1838 they appeared before the camp of the "Saints" and commanded them to surrender. It was done in the manner hereafter described. But before this event transpired, I am informed that the Prophet Joe opened his mouth in the name of the Lord, and said it had been revealed to him that the scenes of Jericho were to be re-enacted in Far West; that the angelic host would appear on the day of battle, and by their power give victory to the "Saints."

To this end he ordered a breastwork of inch pine boards to be raised around the camp, to show by this feeble protection against the artillery of their foes, that their strength was in the "breast-plate of righteousness," and that they were the soldiers of the militant portion of the Kingdom of Heaven. There were moments of awful suspense in the camp of the "Saints." The Missouri bayonets bristled brightly near their ranks, and an occasional bullet carelessly penetrated the pine-board rampart, regardless of the inhibition of the {10} Prophet. The Heavens were gazed[Pg 51] upon for the shining host, and listening ears turned to catch the rushing of wings through the upper air. The demand of surrender was again and again repeated; but Faith had seized on Hope, and Delay was the offspring.

At this juncture of affairs, a sturdy old Missourian approached the brick store, pickaxe in hand, apparently determined to do violence to the sacred depository. One of the sisters in robes of white accosted him, and with proper solemnity made known that the "Lord of the Faithful" had revealed to Joe, the Prophet, that every hand raised against that "holy structure" would instantly be withered. The frontiersman hesitated, but the hardihood characteristic of these men of the rifle returning, he replied, "Well, old gal, I'll go it on one hand any how." The awful blow was struck; the hand did not wither! "I doubles up now," said the daring man, and with both hands inflicted a heavy blow upon a corner brick. It tumbled to the ground, and the building quickly fell under the weight of a thousand vigorous arms. The confidence of the Saints in their Prophet waned, and a surrender followed, {11} Some of the principal men were put in custody, but the main body were permitted to leave the State without farther molestation. We afterwards met many of them with their herds, &c., on the road from Far West to Quincy, Illinois. It was strongly intimated by the planters in that section of country, that these emigrating "saints" found large quantities of the "Lord's corn" on their way, which they appropriated as need suggested to their own and their animals' wants.

The origin of the "Book of Mormon"[27] was for some time a mystery. But recent developments prove it to have been written in 1812 by the Rev. Solomon Spaulding, of New Salem, in the state, Ohio. It was composed by that gentleman as a historical romance of the long extinct race [Pg 52]who built the mounds and forts which are scattered over the valley States. Mr. Spaulding read the work while composing it to some of his friends, who, on the appearance of the book in print, were so thoroughly convinced of its identity with the romance of their deceased pastor, that search was made, and the original manuscript found among his papers. But there was yet a marvel how the work could have got into the hands of Joe {12} Smith. On further investigation, however, it appeared that the reverend author had entertained thoughts of publishing it; and, in pursuance of his intention, had permitted it to lie a long time in the printing office in which Sidney Rigdon, who has figured so prominently in the history of the Mormons, was at the time employed.[28] Rigdon, doubtless, copied poor Spaulding's novel, and with it, and the aid of Joe Smith, has succeeded in building up a system of superstition, which, in vileness and falsehood, is scarcely equalled by that of Mahomet.

Solomon Spaulding was a graduate of Dartmouth College.

On the 30th of May, we found ourselves prepared to move for the Indian Territory.[29] Our pack-saddles being girded upon the animals, our sacks of provisions, &c. snugly lashed upon them, and protected from the rain that had begun to fall, and ourselves well mounted and armed, we took the road that leads off south-west from Independence in the direction of Santa Fé.[30] But the rains which had accompanied us daily since we left Peoria, seemed determined to [Pg 53]escort us still, our ill-natured scowls to the contrary notwithstanding: for we had travelled only three miles when {13} such torrents fell, that we found it necessary to take shelter in a neighbouring schoolhouse for the night. It was dismal enough; but a blazing fire within, and a merry song from a jovial member of our company imparted as much consolation as our circumstances seemed to demand, till we responded to the howling storm the sonorous evidence of sweet and quiet slumber.

The following morning was clear and pleasant, and we were early on our route. We crossed the stream called Big Blue, a tributary of the Missouri,[31] about twelve o'clock, and approached the border of the Indian domains. All were anxious now to see and linger over every object which reminded us we were still on the confines of that civilization which we had inherited from a thousand generations; a vast and imperishable legacy of civil and social happiness. It was, therefore, painful to approach the last frontier enclosure—the last habitation of the white man—the last semblance of home. At length the last cabin was approached. We drank at the well and travelled on. It was now behind us. All, indeed was behind us with which the sympathies of our young days had mingled their holy memories. Before us were the treeless {14} plains of green, as they had been since the flood—beautiful, unbroken by bush or rock; unsoiled by plough or spade; sweetly scented with the first blossomings of the spring. They had been, since time commenced, the theatre of the Indian's prowess—of his hopes, joys, and sorrows. Here, nations, as the eve of deadly battle closed around them, had knelt and raised the votive offering to Heaven, and implored the favour and protection of the Great Spirit who had fostered their fathers upon the wintry [Pg 54]mountains of the North, and when bravely dying, had borne them to the islands of light beneath the setting sun. A lovely landscape this, for an Indian's meditation! He could almost behold in the distance where the plain and sky met, the holy portals of his after-state so mazy and beautiful was the scene!

Having travelled about twenty-five miles over this beautiful prairie, we halted on the banks of a small stream at a place called Elm Grove.[32] Here we pitched our tent, tied our horses to stakes, carried for that purpose, and after considerable difficulty having obtained fuel for a fire, cooked and ate for the first time in the Indian Territory.

At this encampment final arrangements {15} were made for our journey over the Prairies. To this end provisions, arms, ammunition, packs and pack-saddles, were overhauled, and an account taken of our common stock of goods for trade with the Indians. The result of this examination was, that we determined to remain here a while, and send back to the Kauzaus Indian mill for two hundred pounds of flour. We were induced to take this step by assurances received from certain traders whom we met coming from the mountains, that the buffalo had not advanced so far north as to furnish us with their fine hump-ribs so early by a week or fortnight as we had expected. Officers were also chosen and their powers defined; and whatever leisure we found from these duties during a stay of two days, was spent in regaling ourselves with strawberries and gooseberries, which grew in great abundance near our camp.

Our friends having returned from the mill with the flour for which they had been despatched, we left Elm Grove on the 3rd of June, travelled along the Santa Fé trail about fifteen miles, and encamped upon a high knoll, from[Pg 55] which we had an extensive view of the surrounding plains. The grass was now about four inches in height, and {16} bent and rose in most sprightly beauty under the gusts of wind which at intervals swept over it. We remained here a day and a half, waiting for two of our number who had gone in search of a horse that had left our encampment at Elm Grove. The time, however, passed agreeably. We were, indeed, beyond the sanctuaries of society, and severed from the kind pulsations of friendship; but the spirit of the Red Man, wild and careless as the storms he buffets, began to come over us; and we shouldered our rifles and galloped away for a deer in the lines of timber that threaded the western horizon. Our first hunt in the depths of the beautiful and dreadful wilderness! It was attended with no success, however, but was worth the effort. We had begun to hunt our food.

In the afternoon of the 4th, our friends returned with the strayed animals. The keepers immediately fired the signalguns, and all were soon in camp. Our road on the 5th was through a rich, level prairie, clothed with the wild grass common to the plains of the West. A skirt of black oak timber occasionally lined the horizon or strayed up a deep ravine near the trail. The extreme care of the pioneers in the {17} overland Santa Fé trade was every where noticeable, in the fact that the track of their richly-loaded waggons never approached within musket-shot of these points of timber. Fifteen miles' march brought us to our place of encampment. A certain portion of the company allotted to that labour, unpacked the company's mules of the common-stock property, provisions, ammunitions, &c.; another portion pitched the tent; another gathered wood and kindled a fire; whilst others brought water, and still others again put seething-pots and frying-pans to their appropriate[Pg 56] duties. So that at this, as at many a time before and after, a few minutes transposed our little cavalcade from a moving troop into an eating, drinking, and joyous camp. A thunder-storm visited us during the night. The lightning was intensely vivid, and the explosions were singularly frequent and loud. The sides of the heavens appeared to war like contending batteries in deadly conflict. The rain came in floods; and our tent, not being ditched around, was flooded soon after the commencement of the storm, and ourselves and baggage thoroughly drenched.

The next day we made about fifteen miles through the mud and rain, and stopped for {18} the night near a solitary tree upon the bank of a small tributary of the Konzas river. Here fortune favoured our fast decreasing larder. One of the company killed a turtle, which furnished us all with an excellent supper. This was the only description of game that we had seen since leaving the frontier.

On the 7th, as the sun was setting, we reached Osage River—a stream which flows into the Missouri below Jefferson City. The point where we struck it, was one hundred miles south-west of Independence.[33] We pitched our tent snugly by a copse of wood within a few yards of it; staked down our animals near at hand, and prepared, and ate in the usual form, our evening repast. Our company was divided into two messes, seven in one, and eight in the other. On the ground, each with a tin pint cup and a small round plate of the same material, the first filled with coffee, tea, or water, the last with fried bacon and dough fried in fat; each with a butcher-knife in hand, and each mess sitting, tailor-like, around its own frying-pan, eating [Pg 57]with the appetite of tigers formed the coup-d'œil of our company at supper on the banks of the Osage.

{19} Near us were encamped some waggoners on their return to Missouri, who had been out to Council Grove with the provisions and that part of the goods of the Santa Fé traders which the teams of untrained mules had been unable to draw when they left Independence. With these men we passed a very agreeable evening; they amused us with yarns of mountain-life, which from time to time had floated in, and formed the fireside legends of that wild border. In the morning, while we were saddling our animals, two of the Kauzaus Indians came within a few rods of our camp,[34] and waited for an invitation to approach. They were armed with muskets and knives. The manner of carrying their fire-arms was peculiar, and strongly characteristic of Indian caution. The breech was held in the right hand, and the barrel rested on the left arm; thus they are always prepared to fire. They watched us narrowly, as if to ascertain whether we were friends or foes, and upon our making signs to them to approach, they took seats near the fire, and with most imperturbable calmness, commenced smoking the compound of willow-bark and tobacco with which they are wont to regale themselves. When we left the ground, one of {20} the men threw away a pair of old boots, the soles of which were fastened with iron nails. Our savage visitors seized upon them with the greatest eagerness, and in their pantomimic language, aided by harsh, guttural grunts, congratulated themselves upon becoming the possessors of so much wealth. At eight o'clock we were on march.

The morning breezes were bland, and a thousand young flowers gemmed the grassy plains. It seemed as if the tints of a brighter sky and the increasing beauty of the earth were lifting the clouds from the future, and shedding vigour[Pg 58] upon our hopes. But this illusion lasted but a moment. Three of my valuable men had determined to accompany the waggoners to the States; and as they filed off and bade adieu to the enterprise in which they had embarked, and blighted many cheering expectations of social intercourse along our weary wayfaring to Oregon, an expression of deep discouragement shaded every face. This was of short duration. The determination to penetrate the valleys of Oregon soon swept away every feeling of depression, and two hunters being sent forward to replenish our larder, we travelled happily onward.

The Osage River at this place is one {21} hundred yards wide, with about two-and-a-half feet of water. Its banks are clothed with timber of cotton-wood, ash and hickory. We crossed it at eight o'clock in the morning, passed through the groves which border it, and continued to follow the Santa Fé trail. The portion of country over which it ran was undulating and truly beautiful; the soil rich, very deep, and intersected by three small streams, which appeared from their courses to be tributaries of the Osage.

At nightfall, we found ourselves upon a height overlooking a beautiful grove. This we supposed to be Council Grove. On the swell of the hill were the remains of an old Kauzaus' encampment; a beautiful clear spring gushed out from the rock below. The whole was so inviting to us, weary and hungry as we were, that we determined to make our bed there for the night. Accordingly, we fired signalguns for the hunters, pitched our tents, broke up the boughs which had been used by the Indians in building their wigwams, for fuel, and proceeded to cook our supper. This encampment had been made by the Kauzaus six years ago, when on their way south to their annual buffalo-hunt. A semi-circular piece of ground was enclosed by the outer lodges. {22} The area was filled with wigwams, built in[Pg 59] straight lines, running from the diameter to the circumference. They were constructed in the following manner. Boughs of about two inches in diameter were inserted by their butts into the ground, and withed together at the top in an arched form; over these were spread blankets, skins of the buffalo, etc. Fires were built in front of each: the grass beneath, covered with skins, made a delightful couch, and the Indian's home was complete. Several yards from the outer semi-circular row of lodges and parallel to it, we found large stakes driven firmly into the earth, for the purpose of securing their horses during the night. We appropriated to ourselves, without hesitation, whatever we found here of earth, wood or water, which could be useful to us, and were soon very comfortable. About nine o'clock, our signalguns were answered by the return of our hunters. They had scoured the country all day in quest of game, but found none. Our hopes were somewhat depressed by this result. We had but one hundred pounds of flour and one side of bacon left; and the buffalo, by the best estimates we could make, were still three hundred miles distant; the country between {23} us and these animals, too, being constantly scoured by Indian hunters, afforded us but little prospect of obtaining other game. However, we did not dwell very minutely upon the evils that might await us, but having put ourselves upon short allowance, and looked at our horses as the means of preventing starvation, we sought rest for the fatigues of the next day's march.

In the morning we moved down the hill. Our way lay directly through the little grove already referred to; and, however we might have admired its freshness and beauty, we were deterred from entering into the full enjoyment of the scene by the necessity, which we supposed existed, of keeping a sharp look-out among its green recesses for the lurking savage. The grove is the northern limit of the[Pg 60] wanderings of the Cumanches—a tribe of Indians who make their home on the rich plains along the western borders of the republic of Texas.[35] Their ten thousand warriors, their incomparable horsemanship, their terrible charge, the unequalled rapidity with which they load and discharge their fire-arms, and their insatiable hatred, make the enmity of these Indians more dreadful than that of any other tribe of aborigines. Fortunately for us, however, {24} these Spartans of the plains did not appear, and right merrily did we cross the little savannah between it and Council Grove, a beautiful lawn of the wilderness, some of the men hoping for the sweets of the bee-tree, others for a shot at a turkey or a deer, and others again that among the drooping boughs and silent glades might be found the panting loins of a stately elk.

Council Grove derives its name from the practice among the traders, from the commencement of the overland commerce with the Mexican dominions, of assembling there for the appointment of officers and the establishment of rules and regulations to govern their march through the dangerous country south of it. They first elect their commander-in-chief.[36] His duty is to appoint subordinate leaders, and to divide the owners and men into watches, and to assign them their several hours of duty in guarding the camp during the remainder of their perilous journey. He also divides the caravan into two parts, each of which forms a column when on march. In these lines he assigns each team the place in which it must always be found. Having arranged these several matters, the council breaks up; and the commander, with the guard on {25} duty, moves off in advance to select the tract and anticipate approaching danger.

[Pg 61]

After this guard the head teams of each column lead off about thirty feet apart, and the others follow in regular lines, rising and dipping gloriously; two hundred men, one hundred waggons, eight hundred mules; shoutings and whippings, and whistlings and cheerings, are all there; and, amidst them all, the hardy Yankee move happily onward to the siege of the mines of Montezuma. Several objects are gained by this arrangement of the waggons. If they are attacked on march by the Cumanche cavalry or other foes, the leading teams file to the right and left, and close the front; and the hindermost, by a similar movement, close the rear; and thus they form an oblong rampart of waggons laden with cotton goods that effectually shields teams and men from the small arms of the Indians. The same arrangement is made when they halt for the night.

Within the area thus formed are put, after they are fed, many of the more valuable horses and oxen. The remainder of the animals are 'staked'—that is, tied to stakes, at a distance of twenty or thirty yards, around the line. The ropes by which {26} they are fastened are from thirty to forty feet in length, and the stakes to which they are attached are carefully driven, at such distances apart, as shall prevent their being entangled one with another.

Among these animals the guard on duty is stationed, standing motionless near them, or crouching so as to discover every moving spot upon the horizon of night. The reasons assigned for this, are, that a guard in motion would be discovered and fired upon by the cautious savage before his presence could be known; and farther, that it is impossible to discern the approach of an Indian creeping among the grass in the dark, unless the eye of the observer be so close to the ground as to bring the whole surface lying within the range of vision between it and the line of light around the lower edge of the horizon. If the camp be attacked,[Pg 62] the guard fire and retreat to the waggons. The whole body then take positions for defence; at one time sallying out, rescue their animals from the grasp of the Indians; and at another, concealed behind their waggons, load and fire upon the intruders with all possible skill and rapidity. Many were the bloody battles fought on the 'trail,' and such were some of the anxieties {27} and dangers that attended and still attend the 'Santa Fé Trade.' Many are the graves, along the track, of those who have fallen before the terrible cavalry of the Cumanches. They slumber alone in this ocean of plains; no tears bedew their graves; no lament of affection breaks the stillness of their tomb. The tramp of savage horsemen—the deep bellowing of the buffalo—the nightly howl of the hungry wolf—the storms that sweep down at midnight from the groaning caverns of the 'shining heights;' or, when Nature is in a tender mood, the sweet breeze that seems to whisper among the wild flowers that nod over his dust in the spring—say to the dead, "You are alone; no kindred bones moulder at your side."

We traversed Council Grove with the same caution and in the same manner as we had the other; a platoon of four persons in advance to mark the first appearance of an ambuscade; behind these the pack animals and their drivers; on each side an unincumbered horseman; in the rear a platoon of four men, all on the look-out, silent, with rifles lying on the saddles in front, steadily winding along the path that the heavy waggons of the traders had made among the {28} matted underbrush. In this manner we marched half a mile, and emerged from the Grove at a place where the traders had, a few days before, held their council. The grass in the vicinity had been gnawed to the earth by their numerous animals; their fires were still smouldering and smoking; and the ruts in the road were fresh. These indications of our vicinity to the great body of the traders[Pg 63] produced an exhilarating effect on our spirits; and we drove merrily away along the trail, cheered with renewed hopes that we should overtake our countrymen, and be saved from starvation.

The grove that we were now leaving was the largest and most beautiful we had passed since leaving the frontier of the States. The trees, maple, ash, hickory, black walnut, oaks of several kinds, butternut, and a great variety of shrubs clothed with the sweet foliage of June—a pure stream of water murmuring along a gravelly bottom, and the songs of the robin and thrush, made Council Grove a source of delight to us, akin to those that warm the hearts of pilgrims in the great deserts of the East, when they behold, from the hills of scorching sands, the green thorn-tree, and {29} the waters of the bubbling spring. For we also were pilgrims in a land destitute of the means of subsistence, with a morsel only of meat and bread per day, lonely and hungry; and although we were among the grassy plains instead of a sandy waste, we had freezing storms, tempests, lightning and hail, which, if not similar in the means, were certainly equal in the amount of discomfort they produced, to the sand-storms of the Great Sahara.

But we were leaving the Grove and the protection it might yield to us in such disagreeable circumstances. On the shrubless plain again! To our right the prairie rose gradually, and stretched away for ten miles, forming a beautiful horizon. The whole was covered with a fine coat of grass a foot in height, which was at this season of the deepest and richest green. Behind us lay a dark line of timber, reaching from the Grove far into the eastern limits of sight, till the leafy tops seemed to wave and mingle among the grass of the wild swelling meadows. The eyes ached as we endeavoured to embrace the view. A sense of vastness was the single and sole conception of the mind!

[Pg 64]

Near this grove are some interesting Indian {30} ruins. They consist of a collection of dilapidated mounds, seeming to indicate the truth of the legend of the tribes, which says, that formerly this was the Holy ground of the nations, where they were accustomed to meet to adjust their difficulties, exchange the salutations of peace, and cement the bonds of union with smoking, and dancing, and prayers, to the Great Spirit.

We had advanced a few miles in the open country when we discovered, on the summit to the right, a small band of Indians. They proved to be a party of Caws or Kauzaus. As soon as they discovered our approach, two of them started in different directions at the top of their speed, to spread the news of our arrival among the remote members of the party. The remainder urged on with the utmost velocity their pack-horses laden with meat, skins, blankets, and other paraphernalia of a hunting excursion. We pursued our way, making no demonstrations of any kind, until one old brave left his party, and came towards us, stationing himself beside our path, and awaiting our near approach. He stood quite upright and motionless. As we advanced, we noted closely his appearance {31} and position. He had no clothing, except a blanket tied over the left shoulder and drawn under the right arm. His head was shaven entirely bare, with the exception of a tuft of hair about two inches in width, extending from the center of the occiput over the middle of the head to the forehead. It was short and coarse, and stood erect, like a comb of a cock. His figure was the perfection of physical beauty. It was five feet nine or ten inches in height, and looked the Indian in every respect. He stood by the road-side, apparently perfectly at ease; and seemed to regard all surrounding objects, with as much interest as he did us. This is a distinguishing characteristic of the Indian. If a thunderbolt could be embodied[Pg 65] and put in living form before their eyes, it would not startle them from their gravity. So stood our savage friend, to all appearance unaware of our approach. Not a muscle of his body or face moved, until I rode up and proffered him a friendly hand. This he seized eagerly and continued to shake it very warmly, uttering meanwhile with great emphasis and rapidity, the words "How de," "how," "how." As soon as one individual had withdrawn his hand from his grasp, he {32} passed to another, repeating the same process and the same words. From the careful watch we had kept upon his movements since he took his station, we had noticed that a very delicate operation had been performed upon the lock of his gun. Something had been warily removed therefrom, and slipped into the leathern pouch worn at his side. We expected, therefore, that the never-failing appeal to our charity would be made for something; and in this we were not disappointed. As soon as the greetings were over, he showed us, with the most solicitous gestures, that his piece had no flint. We furnished him with one; and he then signified to us that he would like something to put in the pan and barrel; and having given him something of all, he departed at the rapid swinging gait so peculiar to his race.

As we advanced, the prairie became more gently undulating. The heaving ridges which had made our trail thus far appear to pass over an immense sea, the billows of which had been changed to waving meadows the instant they had escaped from the embraces of the tempest, gave place to wide and gentle swells, scarcely perceptible over the increased expanse in sight. Ten {33} miles on the day's march; the animals were tugging lustily through the mud, when the advance guard shouted "Elk! Elk!" and "steaks broiled," and "ribs boiled," and "marrow bones," and "no more hunger!" "Oregon for ever, starve or live," as[Pg 66] an appointed number of my companions filed off to the chase.

The hunters circled around the point of the sharp ridge on which the Elk were feeding, in order to bring them between themselves and the wind; and laying closely to their horses' necks, they rode slowly and silently up the ravine towards them. While these movements were making, the cavalcade moved quietly along the trail for the purpose of diverting the attention of the Elk from the hunters. And thus the latter were enabled to approach within three hundred yards of the game before they were discovered. But the instant—that anxious instant to our gnawing appetites—the instant that they perceived the crouching forms of their pursuers approaching them, tossing their heads in the air, and snuffing disdainfully at such attempt to deceive their wakeful senses, they put hoof to turf in fine style. The hunters attempted pursuit; but having to ascend one side of the ridge, {34} while the Elk in their flight descended the other, they were at least four hundred yards distant, before the first bullet whistled after them. None were killed. And we were obliged to console our hunger with the hope that three hunters, who had been despatched ahead this morning, would meet with more success. We encamped soon after this tourney of ill luck—ate one of the last morsels of food that remained—pitched our tent, stationed the night-guard, &c., and, fatigued and famished, stretched ourselves within it.

On the following day we made twenty-five miles over a prairie nearly level, and occasionally marshy. In the afternoon we were favoured with what we had scarcely failed, for a single day, to receive since the commencement of our journey, viz: all several and singular, the numerous benefits of a thunder-storm. As we went into camp at night, the fresh ruts along the trail indicated the near vicinity of[Pg 67] some of the Santa Fé teams. No sleep; spent the night in drying our drenched bodies and clothes.

On the 12th under weigh very early: and travelled briskly along, intending to overtake the traders before nightfall. But {35} another thunder-storm for a while arrested the prosecution of our desires.—It was about three o'clock when a black cloud arose in the south-east, another in the south-west, and another in the north-east; and involving and evolving themselves like those that accompany tornadoes of other countries, they rose with awful rapidity towards the zenith. Having mingled their dreadful masses over our heads, for a moment they struggled so terrifically that the winds appeared hushed at the voice of their dread artillery—a moment of direful battle; and yet not a breath of wind. We looked up for the coming catastrophe indicated by the awful stillness; and beheld the cloud rent in fragments, by the most terrific explosion of electricity we had ever witnessed. Then, as if every energy of the destroying elements had been roused by this mighty effort, peal upon peal of thunder rolled around, and up and down the heavens; and the burning bolts appeared to leap from cloud to cloud across the sky, and from heaven to earth, in such fearful rapidity, that the lurid glare of one had scarcely fallen on the sight, when another followed of still greater intensity. The senses were absolutely {36} stunned by the conflict. Our animals, partaking of the stupefying horror of the scene, madly huddled themselves together and became immovable. They heeded neither whip nor spur; but with backs to the tempest drooped their heads, as if awaiting their doom. The hail and rain came down in torrents. The plains were converted into a sea; the sky, overflowing with floods, lighted by a continual blaze of electric fire! It was such a scene as no pen can adequately describe.

[Pg 68]

After the violence of the storm had in some degree abated, we pursued our way, weary, cold and hungry. About six o'clock we overtook a company of Santa Fé traders, commanded by Captain Kelly. The gloom of the atmosphere was such, that when we approached his camp, Captain Kelly supposed us to be Indians, and took measures accordingly to defend himself. Having stationed his twenty-nine men within the barricade formed by his waggons, he himself, accompanied by a single man, came out to reconnoitre. He was not less agreeably affected, to find us whites and friends, than were we at the prospect of society and food. Traders always carry a supply of wood over these naked plains, {37} and it may be supposed that, drenched and pelted as we had been by the storm, we did not hesitate to accept the offer of their fire to cook our supper, and warm ourselves. But the rain continued to fall in cold shivering floods; and, fire excepted, we might as well have been elsewhere as in company with our countrymen, who were as badly sheltered and fed, as ourselves. We, therefore, cast about for our own means of comfort. While some were cooking our morsel of supper, others staked out the animals, others pitched our tent; and all, when their tasks were done, huddled under its shelter. We now numbered thirteen.

We ate our scanty suppers, drank the water from the puddles, and sought rest. But all our packs being wet, we had no change of wardrobe, that would have enabled us to have done so with a hope of success. We, however, spread our wet blankets upon the mud, put our saddles under our heads, had a song from our jolly Joe, and mused and shivered until morning.

As the sun of the 13th rose, we drove our animals through Cottonwood creek.[37] It had been very much swollen by the rains of the previous day; and our packs {38} and ourselves, were again thoroughly wet. But, once out of the mire and the dangers of the flood, our hearts beat merrily as we lessened, step by step, the distance from Oregon.


[23] For a sketch of Independence see Gregg's Commerce of the Prairies, in our volume xix, p. 189, note 34.—Ed.

[24] When Jason Lee, the Methodist missionary, went east (1838-39) for re-inforcements, he took with him two Indian youths to be educated. Meetings were held in many cities; at Peoria, Illinois, one of the lads being taken ill, was left behind. His presence continued the interest aroused by Lee's representations, so that early in 1839 a company of young men, not one of whom had ever been west of St. Louis, was organized to undertake the Oregon migration. The party consisted at first of nineteen persons. See Robert Shortess, "First Emigrants to Oregon," in Oregon Pioneer Association Transactions, 1896.—Ed.

[25] For the Mormons in Missouri consult our volume xx, pp. 93-99, with accompanying notes.—Ed.

[26] The governor of Missouri (1836-40) was Lilburn W. Boggs, for whom see our volume xx, p. 98, note 65.—Ed.

[27] Consult the references in our volume xxiv, pp. 119, 120, notes 99, 100.—Ed.

[28] See a brief sketch of Rigdon in Flagg's Far West, our volume xxvi, p. 358, note 209.—Ed.

[29] For the use of this term Indian Territory—which did not at that time correspond with our present Indian Territory—see Wyeth's Oregon in our volume xxi, p. 50, note 31.—Ed.

[30] The Santa Fé route was taken in preference to the Oregon trail on the advice of Andrew Sublette and Philip Thompson, who had just returned from the mountains. See Shortess's "Sketch," cited in note 20, above.—Ed.

[31] For this stream see James's Long's Expedition, in our volume xiv, p. 184, note 153.—Ed.

[32] This is probably the same as Round Grove, for which see Gregg's Commerce of the Prairies, in our volume xix, p. 193, note 35.—Ed.

[33] The Osage rises in Kansas south of Kansas River, and as Farnham states, flows in a general easterly course into the Missouri. The usual camping place on the Santa Fé trail was about a hundred miles out, on what was called One Hundred and Ten Mile Creek, indicative of its distance from Fort Osage.—Ed.

[34] For the Kansa, see Bradbury's Travels, in our volume v, p. 67, note 37.—Ed.

[35] On the Comanche, see our volume xvi, p. 233, note 109.—Ed.

[36] See Gregg's description of this place, and the method of forming a caravan, in our volume xix, pp. 196-203, with accompanying notes.—Ed.

[37] For the Cottonwood see our volume xix, p. 204, note 42. The crossing was nearly two hundred miles from Independence.—Ed.

[Pg 69]


Scarcity of Food—An Incident—Looing and Bleating—Messrs. Bents—Trade—Little Arkansas—A Nauseous Meal—A Flood—An Onset—A Hard Ride—The Deliverance—The Arkansas—An Attack—The Similitude of Death—The Feast and a bit of Philosophy—The Traders Walworth and Alvarez's Teams—A Fright—A Nation of Indians—Their Camp and Hunts—A Treaty—A Tempest—Indian Butchering—A Hunt among the Buffalo—A Wounded Man—A Drive—A Storm and its Enemy—Night among the Buffalo—The Country and the Heavens—The Ford—A Mutiny and its Consequences—Blistered Fingers—Liberty—Bent's Fort—Disbanding.

Our hunters, who had been despatched from Council Grove in search of game, had rejoined us in Kelly's camp. And as our larder had not been improved by the hunt, another party was sent out, under orders to advance to the buffalo with all possible dispatch, and send back to the main body a portion of the first meat that should be taken. This was a day of mud and discomfort. Our pack and riding animals, constantly annoyed by the slippery clay {40} beneath them, became restive, and not unfrequently relieved themselves of riders or packs, with little apparent respect for the wishes of their masters. And yet, as if a thousand thorns should hatchel out at least one rose, we had one incident of lively interest. For, while halting to secure the load of a pack-mule, whose obstinacy would have entitled him to that name, whatever had been his form, we espied upon the side of a neighbouring ravine several elk and antelope. The men uttered pleas for their stomachs at the sight of so much fine meat, and with teeth shut in the[Pg 70] agony of expectation, primed anew their rifles, and rushed away for the prize.

Hope is very delusive, when it hunts elk upon the open plain. This fact was never more painfully true, than in the present instance. They were approached against the wind—the ravines that were deepest, and ran nearest the elk, were traversed in such a manner that the huntsmen were within three hundred yards of them before they were discovered; and then never did horses run nearest their topmost speed for a stake in dollars than did ours for a steak of meat. But, alas! the little advantage gained at the start, from the bewildered {41} inaction of the game, began to diminish as soon as those fleet coursers of the prairie laid their nimble hoofs to the sward, and pledged life upon speed. In this exigency a few balls were sent whistling after them, but they soon slept in the earth, instead of the panting hearts they were designed to render pulseless; and we returned to our lonely and hungry march.

At sunset we encamped on the banks of a branch of the Arkansas.[38] Our rations were now reduced to one-eighth of a pint of flour to each man. This, as our custom was, was kneaded with water, and baked or rather dried in our frying-pan, over a fire sufficiently destitute of combustibles to have satisfied the most fastidious miser in that line.—Thus refreshed, and our clothing dried in the wind during the day, we hugged our rifles to our hearts, and soundly slept.

The sun of the following morning was unusually bright, the sky cloudless and delightfully blue. These were new pleasures; for the heavens and the earth had, till that morning, since our departure from home, scourged us with every discouragement which the laws of matter could produce. Now all around us smiled. Dame {42} Nature, a prude[Pg 71] though she be, seemed pleased that she had belaboured our courage with so little success. To add to our joy, a herd of oxen and mules were feeding and lowing upon the opposite bank of the stream. They belonged to the Messrs. Bents, who have a trading post upon the Arkansas. One of the partners and thirty odd men were on their way to St. Louis, with ten waggons laden with peltries. They were also driving down two hundred Santa Fé sheep, for the Missouri market. These animals are usually purchased from the Spaniards; and if the Indians prove far enough from the track so as to permit the purchaser to drive them into the States, his investment is unusually profitable. The Indians, too, residing along the Mexican frontier, not infrequently find it convenient to steal large numbers of mules, &c., from their no less swarthy neighbours; and from the ease with which they acquire them, find themselves able and willing to sell them to traders for a very easily arranged compensation.

Of these several sources of gain, it would seem the Messrs. Bents[39] avail themselves; since, on meeting the gentleman in charge of the waggons before spoken of, he informed {43} us that he had lost thirty Mexican mules and seven horses; [Pg 72]and desired us, as we intended to pass his post, to recover and take them back. A request of any kind from a white face in the wilderness is never denied. Accordingly, we agreed to do as he desired, if within our power.

We made little progress to-day. Our packs, that had been soaked by storm and stream, required drying, and for that purpose we went early into camp. The country in which we now were, was by no means sacred to safety of life, limb or property. The Pawnee and Cumanche war-parties roam through it during the spring and summer months, for plunder and scalps. The guards, which we had had on the alert since leaving Council Grove, were therefore carefully stationed at nightfall among the animals around the tent, and urged to the most careful watchfulness. But no foe molested us. In the expressive language of the giant of our band, prefaced always with an appropriate sigh and arms akimbo, "We were not murdered yet."

About twelve o'clock of the 14th, we passed the Little Arkansas.[40] Our hunters had been there the previous night, and had succeeded in taking a dozen cat-fish. Their {44} own keen hunger had devoured a part of them without pepper, or salt, or bread, or vegetable. The remainder we found attached to a bush in the stream, in an unwholesome state of decomposition. They were, however, taken up and examined by the senses of sight and smell alternately; and viewed and smelt again in reference to our ravenous palates; and although some doubt may have existed in regard to the Hebrew principle of devouring so unclean a thing, our appetites allowed of no demur. We roasted and ate, as our companions had done.

I had an opportunity at this place to observe the great[Pg 73] extent of the rise and fall of these streams of the plains in a single day or night. It would readily be presumed, by those who have a correct idea of the floods of water that the thunder-storms of this region pour upon the rolling prairies, that a few miles of the channels of a number of the creeks over which the storms pass may be filled to the brim in an hour; and that there are phenomena of floods and falls of water occurring in this vast den of tempests, such as are found nowhere else. Still, bearing this evidently true explanation in mind, it was with some {45} difficulty that I yielded to the evidences on the banks of the Little Arkansas, that that stream had fallen fifteen feet during the last twelve hours. It was still too deep for the safety of the pack animals to attempt to ford it in the usual way. The banks, also, at the fording-place were left by the retiring flood, a quagmire; so soft, that a horse without burthen could, with the greatest difficulty, drag himself through it to the water below. In our extremity, however, we tied our lashing-lines together, and, attaching one end to a strong stake on the side we occupied, sent the other across the stream, and tied it firmly to a tree. Our baggage, saddles and clothing suspended to hooks running to and fro on this line, were securely passed over. The horses being then driven across at the ill-omened ford, and ourselves over by swimming and other means, we saddled and loaded our animals with their several burthens, and recommenced our march.

The 14th, 15th, and 16th, were days of more than ordinary hardships. With barely food enough to support life, drenched daily by thunder-storms and by swimming and fording the numerous drains of this alluvial {46} region, and wearied by the continual packing and unpacking of our animals, and enfeebled by the dampness of my couch at night, I was so much reduced when I dismounted from my[Pg 74] horse on the evening of the 16th, that I was unable to loosen the girth of my saddle or spread my blanket for repose.

The soil thus far from the frontier appeared to be from three to six feet in depth; generally undulating, and occasionally, far on the western horizon, broken into ragged and picturesque bluffs. Between the swells, we occasionally met small tracts of marshy ground saturated with brackish water.

On the night of the 16th, near the hour of eight o'clock, we were suddenly roused by the rapid trampling of animals near our camp. "Indians!" was the cry of the guard, "Indians!" We had expected an encounter with them as we approached the buffalo, and were consequently not unprepared for it. Each man seized his rifle, and was instantly in position to give the intruders a proper reception. On they came, rushing furiously in a dense column till within thirty yards of our tent; and then wheeling short to the left, abruptly halted. {47} Not a rifle-ball or an arrow had yet cleft the air. Nor was it so necessary that they should; for we discovered that, instead of bipeds of bloody memory, they were the quadrupeds that had eloped from the fatherly care of Mr. Bent, making a call of ceremony upon their compatriot mules, &c., tied to stakes within our camp.

17th. We were on the trail at seven o'clock. The sun of a fine morning shone upon our ranks of beasts and men. Were I able to sketch the woe-shrivelled visages of my starving men, with occasional bursts of wrath upon Mr. Bent's mules as they displayed their ungrateful heels to us, who had restored them from the indecencies of savage life to the dominion of civilized beings, my readers would say that the sun never looked upon a more determined disregard of the usages of social life. A long march before us—the Arkansas and its fish before us, the buffalo with all[Pg 75] the delicate bits of tender loin and marrow bones, (even the remembrance of them inspires me)—with all these before us, who that has the sympathies of the palate sensibilities within him, can suppose that we did not use the spur, whip and goad with a right good will on that memorable day? {48} Thirty or forty miles, none but the vexed plains can tell which, were travelled over by one o'clock. The afternoon hours, too, were counted slowly. High bluffs, and butes, and rolls, and salt marshes alternately appearing and falling behind us, with here and there a plat of the thick short grass of the upper plains and the stray bunches of the branching columnar and foliated prickly pear, indicated that we were approaching some more important course of the mountain waters than we had yet seen since leaving the majestic Missouri. "On, merrily on," rang from our parched and hungry mouths; and if the cheerful shout did not allay our appetites or thirst, it quickened the pace of our mules, and satisfied each other of our determined purpose to behold the Arkansas by the light of that day.

During the hurried drive of the afternoon we became separated from one another among the swells over which our track ran. Two of the advanced platoon took the liberty, in the absence of their commander, to give chace to an antelope which seemed to tantalize their forbearance by exhibiting his fine sirloins to their view. Never did men better earn forgiveness for disobedience of orders. One of them crept as I {49} learned half a mile upon his hands and knees to get within rifle shot of his game;—shot at three hundred yards' distance and brought him down! And now, who, in the tameness of an enough-and-to-spare state of existence, in which every emotion of the mind is surfeited and gouty, can estimate our pleasure at seeing these men gallop into our ranks with this antelope? You may "guess," reader, you may "reckon," you may "calculate," or if[Pg 76] learned in the demi-semi-quavers of modern exquisiteness, you may thrust rudely aside all these wholesome and fat old words of the heart, and "shrewdly imagine," and still you cannot comprehend the feelings of that moment! Did we shout? were we silent? no, neither. Did we gather quickly around the horse which bore the slaughtered animal? No, nor this. An involuntary murmur of relief from the most fearful forebodings, and the sudden halt of the riding animals in their tracks were the only movements, the only acts that indicated our grateful joy at this deliverance.

Our intention of seeing the Arkansas that night, however, soon banished every other thought from the mind. Whips and spurs therefore were freely used upon our animals {50} as they ascended tediously a long roll of prairies covered with the wild grasses and stinted stalks of the sun-flower. We rightly conceived this to be the bordering ridge of the valley of the Arkansas. For on attaining its summit we saw ten miles of that stream lying in the sunset like a beautiful lake among the windings of the hills. It was six miles distant—the sun was setting. The road lay over sharp rolls of land that rendered it nearly impossible for us to keep our jaded animals on a trot. But the sweet water of that American Nile, and a copse of timber upon its banks that offered us the means of cooking the antelope to satisfy our intolerable hunger, gave us new energy; and on we went at a rapid pace while sufficient light remained to show us the trail.[41]

When within about a mile and a half of the river a most annoying circumstance crossed our path. A swarm[Pg 77] of the most gigantic and persevering musquitoes that ever gathered tribute from human kind, lighted on us and demanded blood. Not in the least scrupulous as to the manner in which they urged their claims, they fixed themselves boldly and without ceremony upon our organs of sight, smell, and whipping, {51} in such numbers, that in consequence of the employment they gave us in keeping them at the distance, and the pain which they inflicted upon our restive animals, we lost the trail. And now came quagmires, flounderings, and mud, such as would have taught the most hardened rebel in morals that deviations from the path of duty lead sometimes to pain, sometimes to swamps. Long perseverance at length enabled us to reach the great "River of the Plains."

We tarried for a moment upon the banks of the stream and cast about to extricate ourselves from the Egyptian plagues around us. To regain our track in the darkness of night, now mingled with a dense fog, was no easy task. We, however, took the lead of a swell of land that ran across it, and in thirty minutes entered a path so well marked that we could tread our way onward till we should find wood sufficient to cook our supper. This was a dreary ride. The stars gave a little light among the mist, which enabled us to discern, on the even line of the horizon, a small speck that after three hours' travel we found to be a small grove of cotton wood upon an island. We encamped near it; and after our baggage was piled up so {52} as to form a circle of breastworks for defence, our weariness was such that we sank among it supperless, and slept with nothing but the heavens over us. And although we were in the range of the Cumanche hunting as well as war-parties, the guard slept in spite of the savage eyes that might be gloating vengeance on our little band. No fear or war-whoop could have broken the slumbers of that night. It was a temporary[Pg 78] death. Nature had made its extreme effort, and sunk in helplessness till its ebbing energies should reflow.

On the morning of the 18th of June we were up early—early around among our animals to pull up the stakes to which they were tied, and drive them fast again, where they might graze while we should eat. Then to the care of ourselves. We wrestled manfully with the frying-pan and roasting-stick; and anon in the very manner that one sublime act always follows its predecessor, tore bone from bone the antelope ribs, with so strong a grip and with such unrestrained delight that a truly philosophic observer might have discovered in the flash of our eyes and the quick energetic motion of the nether portions of our {53} physiognomies, that eating, though an uncommon, was nevertheless our favourite occupation.—Then "catch up," "saddles on," "packs on," "mount," "march," were heard on all sides, and we were on the route, hurry-scurry, with forty loose mules and horses leering, kicking and braying, and some six or eight pack animals making every honourable effort to free themselves from servitude, while we were applying to their heads and ears certain gentle intimations that such ambitious views accorded not with their master's wishes.

In the course of the day we crossed several tributaries of the Arkansas. At one of these, called by the traders Big Turkey Creek,[42] we were forced to resort again to our Chilian bridge. In consequence of the spongy nature of the soil and the scarcity of timber, we here found more difficulty in procuring fastenings for our ropes, than in any previous instance. At length, however, we obtained pieces of flood-wood, and drove them into the soft banks "at an [Pg 79]inclination," said he of the axe, "of precisely 45° to the plane of the horizon." Thus supported, the stakes stood sufficiently firm for our purposes; {54} and our bags, packs, selves, and beasts were over in a trice, and in the half of that mathematical fraction of time, we were repacked, remounted, and trotting off at a generous pace, up the Arkansas. The river appeared quite unlike the streams of the East, and South, and Southwest portion of the States in all its qualities. Its banks were low—one and a half feet above the medium stage of water, composed of an alluvium of sand and loam as hard as a public highway, and generally covered with a species of wiry grass that seldom grows to more than one and a half or two inches in height. The sun-flower of stinted growth, and a lonely bush of willow, or an ill-shaped sapless, cotton-wood tree, whose decayed trunk trembled under the weight of years, together with occasional bluffs of clay and sand-stone, formed the only alleviating features of the landscape. The stream itself was generally three-quarters of a mile in width, with a current of five miles per hour, water three and a half to four feet, and of a chalky whiteness. It was extremely sweet, so delicious that some of my men declared it an excellent substitute for milk.

{55} Camped on the bank of the river where the common tall grass of the prairie grew plentifully; posted our night-guard, and made a part of our meat into soup for supper. I will here give a description of the manner of making this soup. It was indeed a rare dish; and my friends of the trencher—ye who have been spiced, and peppered, and salted, from your youth up, do not sneer when I declare that of all the innovations upon kitchen science which civilization has engrafted upon the good old style of the patriarchs, nothing has produced so depraving an effect upon taste, as these self-same condiments of salt, pepper, &c.[Pg 80] But to our soup. It was made of simple meat and water—of pure water, such as kings drank from the streams of the good old land of pyramids and flies, and of the wild meat of the wilderness, untainted with any of the aforesaid condiments—simply boiled, and then eaten with strong, durable iron spoons and butcher-knives. Here I cannot restrain from penning one strong and irrepressible emotion that I well remember to have experienced while stretched upon my couch after our repast. The exceeding comfort of body and mind {56} at that moment undoubtedly gave it being. It was an emotion of condolence for those of my fellow mortals who are engaged in the manufacture of rheumatisms and gout. Could they only for an hour enter the portals of prairie life—for one hour breathe the inspiration of a hunter's transcendentalism—for one hour feed upon the milk and honey and marrow of life's pure unpeppered and unsalted viands, how soon would they forsake that ignoble employment—how soon would their hissing and vulgar laboratories of disease and graves be forsaken, and the crutch and Brandreth's pills be gathered to the tombs of our fathers!

Our next day's march terminated in an encampment with the hunters whom I had sent forward for game. They had fared even worse than ourselves. Four of the seven days they had been absent from the company, and had been without food. Many of the streams, too, that were forded easily by us, were, when they passed, wide and angry floods. These they were obliged to swim, to the great danger of their lives.

On the 18th, however, they overtook Messrs. Walworth and Alvarez's teams,[43] {57} and were treated with great hospitality by those gentlemen. On the same day they killed a buffalo bull, pulled off the flesh from the back, and [Pg 81]commenced drying it over a slow fire preparatory to packing. On the morning of the 19th, two of them started off for us with some strips of meat dangling over the shoulders of their horses. They met us about four o'clock, and with us returned to the place of drying the meat. Our horses were turned loose to eat the dry grass, while we feasted ourselves upon roasted tongue and liver. After this we "caught up" and went on with the intention of encamping with the Santa Féäns; after travelling briskly onward for two hours, we came upon the brow of a hill that overlooks the valley of Pawnee Fork, the largest branch of the Arkansas on its northern side. The Santa Fé traders had encamped on the east bank of the stream. The waggons surrounded an oval piece of ground, their shafts or tongues outside, and the forward wheel of each abreast of the hind wheel of the one before it. This arrangement gave them a fine aspect, when viewed from the hill, over which we were passing.

But we had scarcely time to see the {58} little I described, when a terrific scream of "Pawnee! Pawnee!" arose from a thousand tongues on the farther bank of the river; and Indian women and children ran and shrieked horribly, "Pawnee! Pawnee!" as they sought the glens and bushes of the neighbourhood. We were puzzled to know the object of such an outburst of savage delight, as we deemed it to be, and for a time thought that we might well expect our blood to slumber with the buffalo, whose bones lay bleaching around us. The camp of the traders also was in motion; arms were seized and horses saddled with "hot haste." A moment more, and two whites were galloping warily near us; a moment more brought twenty savage warriors in full paint and plume around us. A quick reconnoitre, and the principal chief rode briskly up to me, shook me warmly by the hand, and with a clearly apparent friendship said "Sacre fœdus" (holy league,) "Kauzaus,"[Pg 82] "Caw." His warriors followed his example. As soon as our friendly greetings were discovered by some of the minor chiefs, they galloped their fleet horses at full speed over the river, and the women and children issued from their concealments, and lined the bank with their dusky forms. The chiefs rode {59} with us to our camping ground, and remained till dark, examining with great interest the various articles of our travelling equipage; and particularly our tent as it unfolded its broadsides like magic, and assumed the form of a solid white cone. Every arrangement being made to prevent these accomplished thieves from stealing our horses, &c., we supped, and went to make calls upon our neighbours.

The owners of the Santa Fé waggons were men who had seen much of life. Urbane and hospitable, they received us in the kindest manner, and gave us much information in regard to the mountains, the best mode of defence, &c., that proved in our experience remarkably correct. During the afternoon, the chiefs of the Kauzaus sent me a number of buffalo tongues, and other choice bits of meat. But the filth discoverable on their persons generally deterred us from using them. For this they cared little. If their presents were accepted, an obligation was by their laws incurred on our part, from which we could only be relieved by presents in return. To this rule of Indian etiquette we submitted; and a council was accordingly held between myself and the principal chief through an interpreter, {60} to determine upon the amount and quality of my indebtedness in this regard. The final arrangement was, that in consideration of the small amount of property I had then in possession, I would give him two pounds of tobacco, a side-knife, and a few papers of vermillion; but that, on my return, which would be in fourteen months, I should be very rich, and give him more. To all these obligations[Pg 83] and pleasant prophecies, I of course gave my most hearty concurrence.

The Caws, or Kauzaus, are notorious thieves. We therefore put out a double guard at night, to watch their predatory operations, with instructions to fire upon them, if they attempted to take our animals. Neither guard nor instructions, however, proved of use; for the tempest, which the experienced old Santa Féäns had seen in the heavens, thunder-cloud in the north-west at sunset, proved a more efficient protection than the arm of man. The cloud rose slowly during the early part of the night, and appeared to hang in suspense of executing its awful purpose. The lightning and heavy rumbling of the thunder were frightful. It came to the zenith about twelve o'clock. When in that position, the cloud covered one-half the heavens, and for {61} some minutes was nearly stationary. After this, the wind broke forth upon it at the horizon, and rolled up the dark masses over our heads—now swelling, now rending to shreds its immense folds. But as yet not a breath of air moved over the plains. The animals stood motionless and silent at the spectacle. The nucleus of electricity was at the zenith, and thence large bolts at last leaped in every direction, and lighted for an instant the earth and skies so intensely, that the eye could not endure the brightness. The report which followed was appalling. The ground trembled—the horses and mules shook with fear, and attempted to escape. But where could they or ourselves have found shelter? The clouds at the next moment appeared in the wildest commotion, struggling with the wind. "Where shall we fly?" could scarcely have been spoken, before the wind struck our tent, tore the stakes from the ground, snapped the centre pole, and buried us in its enraged folds. Every man, we were thirteen in number, immediately seized some portion and held it with all his might. Our opinion[Pg 84] at the time was, that the absence of the weight of a single man would have given the storm the victory—our tent would have eloped in the {62} iron embraces of the tempest. We attempted to fit it up again after the violence of the storm had in some degree passed over, but were unable so to do. The remainder of the night was consequently spent in gathering up our loose animals, and in shivering under the cold peltings of the rain.

The Santa Féäns, when on march through these plains, are in constant expectation of these tornadoes. Accordingly, when the sky at night indicates their approach, they chain the wheels of adjacent waggons strongly together to prevent them from being upset—an accident that has often happened, when this precaution was not taken. It may well be conceived, too, that to prevent their goods from being wet in such cases, requires a covering of no ordinary powers of protection. Bows in the usual form, except that they are higher, are raised over long sunken Pennsylvania waggons, over which are spread two or three thicknesses of woollen blankets; and over these, and extended to the lower edge of the body, is drawn a strong canvas covering, well guarded with cords and leather straps. Through this covering these tempests seldom penetrate.

At seven o'clock on the morning of the 27th, "Catch up, catch up," rang round {63} the waggons of the Santa Féäns. Immediately each man had his hand upon a horse or mule; and ere we, in attempting to follow their example, had our horses by the halter, the teams were harnessed and ready for the "march." A noble sight those teams were, about forty in number, their immense waggons still unmoved, forming an oval breastwork of wealth, girded by an impatient mass of near four hundred mules, harnessed and ready to move again along their solitary way. But the interest of the scene was much increased when, at the call[Pg 85] of the commander, the two lines, team after team, straightened themselves into the trail, and rode majestically away over the undulating plain. We crossed the Pawnee Fork,[44] and visited the Caw Camp. Their wigwams were constructed of bushes inserted into the ground, twisted together at the top, and covered with the buffalo hides which they had been gathering for their winter lodges. Meat was drying in every direction. It had been cut in long narrow strips, wound around sticks standing upright in the ground, or laid over a rick of wicker-work, under which slow fires are kept burning. The stench, and the squalid appearance of the women and children, {64} were not sufficiently interesting to detain us long; and we travelled on for the buffalo which were bellowing over the hills in advance of us. There appeared to be about one thousand five hundred souls, almost in a state of nudity, and filthy as swine. They make a yearly hunt to this region in the spring, lay in a large quantity of dried meat, return to their own territory in harvest time, gather their beans and corn, make the buffalo hides, (taken before the hair is long enough for robes), into conical tents, and thus prepare for a long and merry winter.

They take with them, on these hunting excursions, all the horses and mules belonging to the tribe, which can be spared from the labour of their fields upon the Konzas River, go south till they meet the buffalo, build their distant wigwams, and commence their labour. This is divided in the following manner between the males, females, and children:—The men kill the game. The women dress and dry the meat, and tan the hides. The instruments used in killing vary with the rank and wealth of each individual. The high chief has a lance, with a handle six feet and blade three feet in length. This in hand, mounted {65} upon a[Pg 86] fleet horse, he rides boldly to the side of the flying buffalo, and thrusts it again and again through the liver or heart of one, and then another of the affrighted herd till his horse is no longer able to keep near them. He is thus able to kill five or six, more or less, at a single hit. Some of the inferior chiefs also have these lances; but they must all be shorter than that of his Royal Darkness. The common Indians use muskets and pistols. Rifles are an abomination to them. The twisting motion of the ball as it enters, the sharp crack when discharged, and the direful singing of the lead as it cuts the air, are considered symptoms of witchcraft that are unsafe for the Red Man to meddle with. They call them medicines—inscrutable and irresistible sources of evil. The poorer classes still use the bow and arrow. Nor is this, in the well-trained hand of the Indian, a less effective weapon than those already mentioned. Astride a good horse, beside a bellowing band of wild beef, leaning forward upon the neck, and drawing his limbs close to the sides of his horse, the naked hunter uses his national weapon with astonishing dexterity and success. Not unfrequently, when hitting no bones, does he throw his arrows quite through the buffalo. Twenty {66} or thirty thus variously armed, advance upon a herd. The chief leads the chase, and by the time they come alongside the band, the different speed of the horses has brought them into a single file or line. Thus they run until every individual has a buffalo at his side. Then the whole line fire guns, throw arrows or drive lances, as often and as long as the speed of the horses will allow; and seldom do they fail in encounters of this kind, to lay upon the dusty plain numbers of these noble animals.

A cloud of squaws who had been hovering in the neighbourhood, now hurry up, astride of pack-animals, strip off hides, cut off the best flesh, load their pack saddles, mount[Pg 87] themselves on the top, and move slowly away to the camp. The lords of creation have finished their day's labour. The ladies cure the meat in the manner described above, stretch the hides upon the ground, and with a blunt wooden adze hew them into leather. The younger shoots of the tribe during the day are engaged in watering and guarding the horses and mules that have been used in the hunt—changing their stakes from one spot to another of fresh grass, and crouching along the heights around the camp to notice the approach of {67} foes, and sound the alarm. Thus the Konzas, Kausaus, or Caws, lay in their annual stores. Unless driven from their game by the Pawnees, or some other tribe at enmity with them, they load every animal with meat and hides about the first of August, and commence the march back to their fields, fathers, and wigwams, on the Konzas River.

This return-march must present a most interesting scene in savage life—seven hundred or eight hundred horses or mules loaded with the spoils of the chase, and the children of the tribe holding on to the pack with might and main, naked as eels, and shining with buffalo grease, their fathers and mothers loafing on foot behind, with their guns poised on the left arm, or their bows and arrows swung at their back ready for action, and turning their heads rapidly and anxiously for lurking enemies—the attack, the screams of women and children, each man seizing an animal for a breastwork, and surrounding thus their wives and children, the firing, the dying, the conquest, the whoop of victory and rejoicings of one party, and the dogged, sullen submission of the other—all this and more has occurred a thousand times upon {68} these plains, and is still occurring. But if victory declare for the Caws, or they march to their home without molestation, how many warm affections spring up in their untamed bosoms, as they see again their parents[Pg 88] and children, and the ripened harvest, the woods, the streams, and bubbling springs, among which the gleeful days of childhood were spent! And when greetings are over, and welcomes are said, embraces exchanged, and their homes seen and smiled upon; in fine, when all the holy feelings of remembrance, and their present good fortune, find vent in the wild night-dance, who, that wears a white skin and ponders upon the better lot of civilized men, will not believe that the Indian too, returned from the hunt and from war, has not as much happiness, if not in kind the same, and as many sentiments that do honour to our nature, as are wrapped in the stays and tights of a fantastic, mawkish civilization—that flattering, pluming, gormandizing, unthinking, gilded life, which is beginning to measure mental and moral worth by the amount of wealth possessed, and the adornment of a slip or pew in church.

We travelled eight miles and encamped. {69} A band of buffalo cows were near us. In other words, we were determined upon a hunt—a determination the consequences of which, as will hereafter appear were highly disastrous. Our tent having been pitched, and baggage piled up, the fleetest horses selected, and the best marksmen best mounted, we trotted slowly along a circling depression of the plain, that wound around near the herd on the leeward side. When we emerged in sight of them, we put the horses into a slow gallop till within three hundred yards of our game; and then for the nimblest heel! Each was at his utmost speed. We all gained upon the herd. But two of the horses were by the side of the lubbers before the rest were within rifle-reach; and the rifles and pistols of their riders discharged into the sleek, well-larded body of a noble bull. The wounded animal did not drop; the balls had entered neither liver nor heart; and away he ran for his life. But his unwieldy form moved slower and slower, as the dripping[Pg 89] blood oozed from the bullet-holes in his loins. He ran towards our tent; and we followed him in that direction, till within a fourth of a mile of it, when our heroes of the rifle laid him wallowing in his blood, a mountain of flesh {70} weighing at least three thousand pounds. We butchered him in the following manner: Having turned him upon his brisket, split the skin above the spine, and pared it off as far down the sides as his position would allow, we cut off the flesh that lay outside the ribs as far back as the loins. This the hunters call "the fleece." We next took the ribs that rise perpendicularly from the spine between the shoulders, and support what is termed the "hump." Then we laid our heavy wood-axes upon the enormous side-ribs, opened a cavity, and took out the tender-loins, tallow, &c.,—all this a load for two mules to carry into camp.

It was prepared for packing as follows: the fleece was cut across the grain into slices an eighth of an inch in thickness, and spread upon a scaffolding of poles, and dried and smoked over a slow fire. While we were engaged in this process, information came that three of Mr. Bent's mules had escaped. The probability was that they had gone to the guardianship of our neighbours, the Caws. This was a misfortune to our honourable intention of restoring them to their lawful owners. Search was immediately ordered in the Indian camp and elsewhere for them. It was {71} fruitless. The men returned with no very favourable account of their reception by the Caws, and were of opinion that farther search would be in vain. Being disposed to try my influence with the principal chief, I gave orders to raise the camp and follow the Santa Féans, without reference to my return, and mounting my horse, in company with three men, sought his lodge. The wigwams were deserted, save by a few old women and squalid children, who were[Pg 90] wallowing in dirt and grease, and regaling themselves upon the roasted intestines of the buffalo. I inquired for the chiefs, for the mules, whether they themselves were human or bestial; for, on this point, there was room for doubt: to all which inquiries, they gave an appropriate grunt. But no chief or other person could be found, on whom any responsibility could be thrown in regard to the lost mules. And after climbing the heights to view the plains, and riding from band to band of His Darkness's quadrupeds for three hours in vain, we returned to our camp sufficiently vexed for all purposes of comfort.

Yet this was only the beginning of the misfortunes of the day. During my absence, one of those petty bickerings, so common {72} among men released from the restraints of society and law, had arisen between two of the most quarrelsome of the company, terminating in the accidental wounding of one of them. It occurred, as I learned in the following manner: a dispute arose between the parties as to their relative moral honesty in some matter, thing, or act in the past. And as this was a question of great perplexity in their own minds, and doubt in those of others, words ran high and abusive, till some of the men, more regardful of their duty than these warriors, began preparations to strike the tent. The redoubtable combatants were within it; and as the cords were loosed, and its folds began to swing upon the centre pole, the younger of the braves, filled with wrath at his opponent, attempted to show how terrible his ire would be if once let loose among his muscles. For this purpose, it would seem he seized the muzzle of his rifle with every demonstration of might, &c., and attempted to drag it from among the baggage. The hammer of the lock caught, and sent the contents of the barrel into his side. Every thing was done for the wounded man that his condition required, and our circumstances permitted. Doctor[Pg 91] Walworth, {73} of the Santa Fé caravan, then eight miles in advance, returned, examined, and dressed the wound, and furnished a carriage for the invalid. During the afternoon the high chief of the Caws also visited us; and by introducing discoloured water into the upper orifice, and watching its progress through, ascertained that the ball had not entered the cavity. But notwithstanding that our anxieties about the life of Smith[45] were much lessened by the assurances of Dr. Walworth, and our friend the Chief, yet we had others of no less urgent nature, on which we were called to act. We were on the hunting-ground of the Caws. They were thieves; and after the Santa Fé traders should have left the neighbourhood, they would without scruple use their superior force in appropriating to themselves our animals, and other means of continuing our journey. The Pawnees, too, were daily expected. The Cumanches were prowling about the neighbourhood. To remain, therefore, in our present encampment, until Smith could travel without pain and danger, was deemed certain death to all. To travel on in a manner as comfortable to the invalid, as our {74} condition would permit—painful to him and tedious to us though it should be—appeared therefore the only means of safety to all, or any of us. We accordingly covered the bottom of the carriole with grass and blankets, laid Smith upon them, and with other blankets bolstered him in such manner that the jolting of the carriage would not roll him. Other arrangements necessary to raising camp being made, I gave the company in charge of my lieutenant; [Pg 92]and ordering him to lead on after me as fast as possible, took the reins of the carriage and drove slowly along the trail of the Santa Féäns.

The trail was continually crossed by deep paths made by the buffalo, as a thousand generations of them had in single file followed their leaders from point to point through the plains. These, and other obstructions, jolted the carriage at every step, and caused the wounded man to groan pitiably. I drove on till the stars indicated the hour of midnight; and had hoped by this time to have overtaken the traders, but was disappointed. In vain I looked through the darkness for the white embankment of their waggons. The soil over which they had passed was {75} now so hard, that the man in advance of the carriage could no longer find the trail; and another storm was crowding its dark pall up the western sky. The thunder aroused and enraged the buffalo bulls. They pawed the earth and bellowed, and gathered around the carriage madly, as if they considered it a huge animal of their own species, uttering thunder in defiance of them. It became dangerous to move. It was useless also; for the darkness thickened so rapidly that we could not keep the track. My men, too, had not come up; they had doubtless lost the trail—or, if not, might join me if I waited there till the morning. I therefore halted in a deep ravine, which would partially protect me from the maddened buffalo and the storm, tied down my animals head to foot, and sought rest. Smith was in great pain. His groans were sufficient to prevent sleep. But had he been comfortable and silent, the storm poured such torrents of rain and hail, with terrible wind and lightning, around us, that life instead of repose became the object of our solicitude. The horseman who had accompanied me, had spread his blankets on the ground under the carriage, and, {76} with his head upon his saddle, attempted to[Pg 93] disregard the tempest as an old-fashioned stoic would the toothache. But it beat too heavy for his philosophy. His Mackinaw blankets and slouched hat, for a time protected his ungainly body from the effects of the tumbling flood. But when the water began to stream through the bottom of the carriage upon him, the ire of the animal burst from his lank cheeks like the coming of a rival tempest. He cursed his stars, and the stars behind the storm, his garters, and the garters of some female progenitor, consigned to purgatory the thunder, lightning, and rain, and waggon, alias poor Smith; and gathering up the shambling timbers of his mortal frame, raised them bolt upright in the storm, and thus stood, quoted Shakspeare, and ground his teeth till daylight.

As soon as day dawned I found the trail again, and at seven o'clock overtook the Santa Féäns. Having changed Smith's bedding, I drove on in the somewhat beaten track that forty odd waggons made. Still every small jolt caused the unfortunate man to scream with pain. The face of the country around Pawnee Fork was, when we saw it, {77} a picture of beauty. The stream winds silently among bluffs covered with woods, while from an occasional ravine, long groves stretch out at right angles with its main course into the bosom of the plains. The thousand hills that swelled on the horizon, were covered with dark masses of buffalo peacefully grazing, or quenching their thirst at the sweet streams among them. But the scene had now changed. No timber, not a shrub was seen to-day. The soft rich soil had given place to one of flint and sand, as hard as M'Adam's pavements; the green, tall prairie grass, to a dry, wiry species, two inches in height. The water, too, disgusting remembrance! There was none, save what we scooped from the puddles, thick and yellow with buffalo offal.

[Pg 94]

We travelled fifteen miles, and halted for the night. Smith was extremely unwell. His wound was much inflamed and painful. Dr. Walworth dressed it, and encouraged me to suppose that no danger of life was to be apprehended. My company joined me at twelve o'clock, on the 22nd, and we followed in the rear of the cavalcade. After supper was over, and Smith made comfortable, {78} I sought from some of them a relation of their fortunes during the past night. It appeared they had found the buffalo troublesome as soon as night came on; that the bands of bulls not unfrequently advanced in great numbers within a few feet of them, pawing and bellowing in the most threatening manner; that they also lost the trail after midnight, and spent the remainder of the night in firing upon the buffalo, to keep them from running over them. Their situation was dangerous in the extreme; for when buffalo become enraged, or frightened in any considerable number, and commence running, the whole herd start simultaneously, and pursue nearly a right-line course, regardless of obstacles. So that, had they been frightened by the Santa Féäns, or myself, or any other cause, in the direction of my companions, they must have trampled them to death. The danger to be apprehended from such an event, was rendered certain in the morning, when we perceived that the whole circle of vision was one black mass of these animals. What a sea of life—of muscular power—of animal appetite—of bestial enjoyment! And if lashed to rage by some pervading cause, how fearful {79} the ebbing and flowing of its mighty wrath!

On the 23rd the buffalo were more numerous than ever. They were arranged in long lines from the eastern to the western horizon. The bulls were forty or fifty yards in advance of the bands of cows to which they severally intended to give protection. And as the moving embankment[Pg 95] of waggons, led by the advanced guard, and flanked by horsemen riding slowly from front to rear, and guarded in the rear by my men, made its majestic way along, these fiery cavaliers would march each to his own band of dames and misses, with an air that seemed to say "we are here;" and then back again to their lines, with great apparent satisfaction, that they were able to do battle for their sweet ones and their native plains. We travelled fifteen or sixteen miles; distance usually made in a day by the traders. Smith's wound was more inflamed and painful; the wash and salve of the Indian chief, however, kept it soft, and prevented to a great extent the natural inflammation of the case.

The face of the country was still an arid plain—the water as on the 22nd—fuel, dried {80} buffalo offal—not a shrub of any kind in sight. Another storm occurred to-night. Its movements were more rapid than that of any preceding one which we had experienced. In a few moments after it showed its dark outline above the earth, it rolled its pall over the whole sky, as if to build a wall of wrath between us and the mercies of heaven. The flash of the lightning, as it bounded upon the firmament, and mingled its thunder with the blast, that came groaning down from the mountains; the masses of inky darkness crowding in wild tumult along, as if anxious to lead the leaping bolt upon us—the wild world of buffalo, bellowing and starting in myriads, as the drapery of this funeral scene of nature, a vast cavern of fire was lighted up; the rain roaring and foaming like a cataract—all this, a reeling world tottering under the great arm of its Maker, no eye could see and be unblenched; no mind conceive, and keep its clayey tenement erect.

I drew the carriole in which Smith and myself were attempting to sleep, close to the Santa Fé waggons, secured the curtains as firmly as I was able to do, spread blankets[Pg 96] over the top and around the sides, and {81} lashed them firmly with ropes passing over, under, and around the carriage in every direction; but to little use. The penetrating powers of that storm were not resisted by such means. Again we were thoroughly drenched. The men in the tent fared still worse than ourselves. It was blown down with the first blast; and the poor fellows were obliged to lie closely and hold on strongly to prevent it and themselves from a flight less safe than parachuting.

On the morning of the 24th, having given Smith in charge of my excellent Lieutenant, with assurance that I would join him at the "Crossings," I left them with the traders, and started with the remainder of my company for the Arkansas.

The buffalo during the last three days had covered the whole country so completely, that it appeared oftentimes extremely dangerous even for the immense cavalcade of the Santa Fé traders to attempt to break its way through them. We travelled at the rate of fifteen miles a day. The length of sight on either side of the trail, 15 miles; on both sides, 30 miles:—15×3=45×30=1,350 square miles of {82} country, so thickly covered with these noble animals, that when viewed from a height, it scarcely afforded a sight of a square league of its surface. What a quantity of food for the sustenance of the Indian and the white pilgrim of these plains! It would have been gratifying to have seen the beam kick over the immense frames of some of those bulls. But all that any of us could do, was to 'guess' or 'reckon' their weight, and contend about the indubitable certainty of our several suppositions. In these disputes, two butchers took the lead; and the substance of their discussions that could interest the reader is, "that many of the large bulls would weigh 3,000 pounds and upwards; and that, as a general rule, the buffalo were much larger and heavier than[Pg 97] the domesticated cattle of the States." We were in view of the Arkansas at four o'clock, P. M. The face of the earth was visible again; for the buffalo were now seen in small herds only, fording the river, or feeding upon the bluffs. Near nightfall we killed a young bull, and went into camp for the night.

On the 25th we moved slowly along up the bank of the river. Having travelled {83} ten miles, one of the men shot an antelope, and we went into camp, to avoid if possible another storm that was lowering upon us from the north-west; but in spite of this precaution, we were again most uncomfortably drenched.

On the 26th we struck across a southern bend in the river, and made the Santa Fé "Crossings" at four o'clock, P. M.; 27th. we lay at the "Crossings," waiting for the Santa Féäns, and our wounded companion.[46] On this day a mutiny, which had been ripening ever since Smith was wounded, assumed a clear aspect. It now appeared that certain individuals of my company had determined to leave Smith to perish in the encampment where he was shot; but failing in supporters of so barbarous a proposition, they now endeavoured to accomplish their design by less objectionable means. They said it was evident, if Smith remained in the company, it must be divided; for that they, pure creatures, could no longer associate with so impure a man. And that, in order to preserve the unity of the company, they would propose that arrangements should be made with the Santa Féäns to take him along with them. {84} In this wish a majority of the company, induced by a laudable desire for peace, and the preservation of our small force entire, in a country filled with Indian foes, readily [Pg 98]united. I was desired to make the arrangement; but my efforts proved fruitless. The traders were of the opinion that it would be hazardous for Smith, destitute of the means of support, to trust himself among a people of whose language he was ignorant, and among whom he could consequently get no employment; farther, that Smith had a right to expect protection from his comrades; and they would not, by any act of theirs, relieve them from so sacred a duty. I reported to my company this reply, and dwelt at length upon the reasons assigned by the traders.

The mutineers were highly displeased with the strong condemnation contained in them, of their intention to desert him; and boldly proposed to leave Smith in the carriole, and secretly depart for the mountains. Had we done this inhuman act, I have no doubt that he would have been treated with great humanity and kindness, till he should have recovered from his wound. But the meanness of the proposition to leave a sick companion {85} on the hands of those who had shown us unbounded kindness, and in violation of the solemn agreement we had all entered into on the frontier of Missouri—"to protect each other to the last extremity"—was so manifest, as to cause C. Wood, Jourdan, Oakley, J. Wood, and Blair, to take open and strong grounds against it. They declared, that "however unworthy Smith might be, we could neither leave him to be eaten by wolves, nor to the mercy of strangers; and that neither should be done while they had life to prevent it."

Having thus ascertained that I could rely upon the cooperation of these men, two of the company made a litter, on which the unfortunate man might be borne between two mules. In the afternoon of the 28th, I went down to the traders, five miles below us, to bring him up to my camp. The traders generously refused to receive anything for the use of their carriage, and furnished Smith, when he left them,[Pg 99] with every little comfort in their power for his future use. It was past sunset when we left their camp. Deep darkness soon set in, and we lost our course among the winding bluffs. {86} But as I had reason to suppose that my presence in the camp the next morning with Smith was necessary to his welfare, I drove on till three o'clock in the morning. It was of no avail: the darkness hid heaven and earth from view. We therefore halted, tied the mules to the wheels of the carriage, and waited for the sight of morning. When it came, we found that we had travelled during the night at one time up and at another time down the stream, and were then within a mile and a half of the trader's camp.

On reaching my encampment, I found every thing ready for marching, sent back the carriole to its owners, and attempted to swing Smith in his litter for the march; but to our great disappointment, it would not answer the purpose. How it was possible to convey him, appeared an inquiry of the most painful importance. We deliberated long; but an impossibility barred every attempt to remove its difficulties. We had no carriage; we could not carry him upon our shoulders; it seemed impossible for him to ride on horseback; the mutineers were mounted; the company was afraid to stay longer in the vicinity of the Cumanche Indians, {87} with so many animals to tempt them to take our lives; the Santa Fé waggons were moving over the hills ten miles away on the other side of the river; I had adjured the command, and had no control over the movements of the company; two of the individuals who had declared for mercy towards Smith had gone with the traders;[47] there was but one course left—one effort that could be made; he must attempt to ride an easy, gentle mule. If that failed, those who had befriended him would not then forsake him.

[Pg 100]

About eleven o'clock, therefore, on the 29th, Smith being carefully mounted on a pacing mule, our faces were turned to Bent's trading post, one hundred and sixty miles up the Arkansas. One of the principal mutineers, a hard-faced villain of no honest memory among the traders upon the Platte, assumed to guide and command. His malice towards Smith was of the bitterest character, and he had an opportunity now of making it felt. With a grin upon his long and withered physiognomy, that shadowed out the fiendish delight of a heart long incapable of better emotions, he drove off at a rate which none but a man in health could have long endured. His motive {88} for this was easily understood. If we fell behind, he would get rid of the wounded man, whose presence seemed to be a living evidence of his murderous intentions, thwarted and cast back blistering upon his already sufficiently foul character. He would, also, if rid of those persons who had devoted themselves to saving him, be able to induce a large number of the remainder of the company to put themselves under his especial guardianship in their journey through the mountains; and if we should be destroyed by the Cumanche Indians who were prowling around our way, the blackness of his heart might be hidden, awhile at least, from the world.

The rapid riding, and the extreme warmth, well-nigh prostrated the remaining strength of the invalid. He fainted once, and had nearly fallen headlong to the ground; but all this was delight to the self-constituted leader; and on he drove, belabouring his own horse unmercifully to keep up the pace; and quoting Richard's soliloquy with a satisfaction and emphasis, which seemed to say "the winter" of his discontent had passed away, as well as that of his ancient prototype in villany.

{89} The buffalo were seldom seen during the day: the herds now becoming fewer and smaller. Some of the men,[Pg 101] when it was near night, gave chase to a small band near the track, and succeeded in killing a young bull. A fine fresh steak, and night's rest, cheered the invalid for the fatigues of a long ride the following day. And a long one it was. Twenty-five miles under a burning sun, with a high fever, and three broken ribs, required the greatest attention from his friends, and the exertion of the utmost remaining energies of the unfortunate man. Base though he was in everything that makes a man estimable and valuable to himself and others, Smith was really an object of pity and the most assiduous care. His couch was spread—his cup of water fresh from the stream, was always by his side—and his food prepared in the most palatable manner which our circumstances permitted. Everything indeed that his friends (no, not his friends, for he was incapacitated to attach either the good or the bad to his person, but those who commiserated his condition), could do, was done to make him comfortable.

In connexion with this kindness bestowed {90} on Smith, should be repeated the name of Blair, an old mechanic from Missouri, who joined my company at the Crossings of the Arkansas. A man of a kinder heart never existed. From the place where he joined us to Oregon Territory, when I or others were worn with fatigue, or disease, or starvation, he was always ready to administer whatever relief was in his power. But towards Smith in his helpless condition he was especially obliging. He dressed his wound daily. He slept near him at night, and rose to supply his least want. And in all the trying difficulties that occurred along our perilous journey, it was his greatest delight to diffuse peace, comfort, and contentment, to the extent of his influence. I can never forget the good old man. He had been cheated out of his property by a near relative of pretended piety, and had left the chosen scenes[Pg 102] of his toils and hopes in search of a residence in the wilderness beyond the mountains. For the purpose of getting to the Oregon Territory, he had hired himself to a gentleman of the traders' caravan, with the intention of going to the country by the way of New Mexico and California. An honest man—an honourable {91} man—a benevolent, kind, sympathizing friend—he deserves well of those who may have the good fortune to become acquainted with his unpretending worth.[48]

On the 30th, twenty-five miles up the river.—This morning the miscreant who acted as leader exchanged horses, that he might render it more difficult for Smith to keep in company. During the entire day's march, Shakspeare was on the tapis. If there be ears of him about the ugly world, to hear his name bandied by boobies, and his immortal verse mangled by barbarians in civilized clothing, those ears stood erect, and his dust crawled with indignation, as this savage in nature and practice discharged from his polluted mouth the inspirations of his genius.

The face of the country was such as that found ever since we struck the river. Long sweeping bluffs swelled away from the water's edge into the boundless plains. The soil was a composition of sand, clay, and gravel—the only vegetation—the short furzy grass, several kinds of prickly pear, a stinted growth of sun-flower, and a few decrepid cotton-wood trees on the margin of the stream. The south side of the river {92} was blackened by the noisy buffalo. It was amusing when our trail led us near the bank, to observe the rising wrath of the bulls. They would walk with a stately tread upon the verge of the bank, at times almost yelling out their rage, and trampling, pawing, falling upon[Pg 103] their knees, and tearing the earth with their horns; till, as if unable to keep down the safety-valve of their courage any longer, they would tumble into the stream, and thunder, and wade, and swim, and whip the waters with their tails, and thus throw off a quantity of their bravery. But, like the wrath and courage of certain members of the biped race, these manifestations were not bullet proof, for the crack of a rifle, and the snug fit of a bullet about their ribs operated instantaneously as an anodyne to all such like nervous excitation.

We pitched our tent at night near the river. There was no timber near; but after a long and tedious search we gathered fire-wood enough to make our evening fire.

The fast riding of the day had wearied Smith exceedingly. An hour's rest in camp however, had restored him, to such an extent, {93} that our anxiety as to his ability to ride to Bent's was much diminished. His noble mule proved too nimble and easy to gratify the malice of the vagabond leader. The night brought us its usual tribute—a storm. It was as severe as any we had experienced. If we may distinguish between the severities of these awful tumults of nature, the thunder was heavier, deeper. The wind also was very severe. It came in long gusts, loaded with large drops of rain, which struck through the canvas of our tent, as if it had been gauze.

The last day of June gave us a lovely morning. The grass looked green upon the flinty plains. Nor did the apparent fact that they were doomed to the constant recurrence of long draughts take from them some of the interest which gathers around the hills and dales within the lines of the States. There is indeed a wide difference in the outline of the surface and the productions of these regions. In the plains are none of the evergreen ridges, the cold clear springs, and snug flowering valleys of New England; none[Pg 104] of the pulse of busy men that beats from the Atlantic through the great body of human industry to the western border of the {94} republic; none of the sweet villages and homes of the old Saxon race; but there are the vast savannahs, resembling molten seas of emerald sparkling with flowers, arrested while stormy and heaving, and fixed in eternal repose. Nor are lowing herds to be found there, and bleating flocks, which dependance on man has rendered subservient to his will; but there are thousands of fleet and silent antelope, myriads of the bellowing buffalo, the perpetual patrimony of the wild, uncultivated red man. And however other races may prefer the haunts of their childhood, the well-fenced domain and the stall-pampered beast—still, even they cannot fail to perceive the same fitness of things in the beautiful adaptation of these conditions of nature to the wants and pleasures of her uncultivated lords.

We made fifteen miles on the 1st of July. The bluffs along the river began now to be striped with strata of lime and sand-stone. No trees that could claim the denomination of timber appeared in sight. Willows of various kinds, a cotton-wood tree, at intervals of miles, were all; and so utterly sterile was the whole country that, as night approached, we were obliged carefully to search along {95} the river's bends for a plat of grass of sufficient size to feed our animals. Our encampment was twelve miles above Choteau's Island.[49] Here was repeated, for the twentieth time, the quarrel about the relative and moral merits of the company. This was always a question of deep interest with the mutineers; and many were the amusing arguments adduced and insisted upon as incontestible, to prove themselves great men, pure men, and saints. But as there was much difference of opinion, I shall not be expected to remember all the important judgments rendered in the premises.

[Pg 105]

If, however, my recollection serves me, it was adjudged, that our distinguished leader was the only man among us that ever saw the plains or mountains, the only one of us that ever drove an ox-waggon up the Platte, stole a horse and rifle from his employers, opened and plundered a "cache" of goods, and ran back to the States with well-founded pretensions to an "honest character."

Matters of this kind being thus satisfactorily settled, we gave ourselves to the musquitoes for the night. These companions of our sleeping hours were much attached to us—an amiable quality which {96} "runs in the blood;" and not unlike the birthright virtues of another race in its effect upon our happiness.

It can scarcely be imparting information to my readers to say that we passed a sleepless night. But it is due to the guards outside the tent, to remark, that each and every one of them manifested the most praiseworthy vigilance, and industry, during the entire night. So keen a sense of duty did musquito beaks impart.

The next day we travelled twelve miles, and fell in with a band of buffalo. There being a quantity of wood near at hand wherewithal to cure meat, we determined to dry, in this place, what might be needed, till we should fall in with buffalo again beyond the hunting-grounds of the Messrs. Bents. Some of the men, for this purpose, filed off to the game, while the remainder formed the encampment. The chase was spirited and long. They succeeded, however, in bringing down two noble bullocks: and led their horses in, loaded with the choicest meat.

In preparing and jerking our meat, our man of the stolen rifle here assumed extraordinary powers in the management of {97} affairs. Like other braves, arm in hand, he recounted the exploits of his past life, consisting of the entertainment of serious intentions to have killed some of the[Pg 106] men who had left, had they remained with us; and also, of how dangerous his wrath would have been in the settlements and elsewhere, had any indignity been offered to his honourable person, or his plantation; of which latter he held the fee simple title of a "squatter." On this point, "let any man, or Government even," said he, "attempt to deprive me of my inborn rights, and my rifle shall be the judge between us. Government and laws! what are they but impositions upon the freeman." With this ebullition of wrath at the possibility that the institutions of society might demand of him a rifle, or the Government a price of a portion of the public lands in his possession, he appeared satisfied that he had convinced us of his moral acumen, and sat himself down, with his well-fed and corpulent coadjutor, to slice the meat for drying. While thus engaged, he again raised the voice of wisdom. "These democratic parties for the plains, what are they? what is equality any where? A fudge. One must {98} rule; the rest obey, and no grumbling, by G——!"

The mutineers were vastly edified by these timely instructions; and the man of parts ceasing to speak, directed his attention to drying the meat. He, however, soon broke forth again, found fault with every arrangement which had been made, and with his own mighty arm wrought the changes he desired.

Meanwhile, he was rousing the fire, already burning fiercely, to more and more activity, till the dropping grease blazed, and our scaffold of meat was wrapped in flames.

"Take that meat off," roared he. No one obeyed, and he stood still. "Take that meat off," he cried again, with the emphasis and mien of an Emperor; not deigning himself to soil his rags, by obeying his own command. No one obeyed. The meat burned rapidly. His ire waxed high; yet, no one was so much frightened as to heed his command.[Pg 107] At length his sublime forbearance had an end. The great man seized the blazing meat, dashed it upon the ground, raised the temperature of his fingers to the blistering point, and rested from his labours.

{99} Three days more fatiguing travel along the bank of the Arkansas brought us to the trading-post of the Messrs. Bents. It was about two o'clock in the afternoon of the 5th of July, when we came in sight of its noble battlements, and struck our caravan into a lively pace down the swell of the neighbouring plain. The stray mules that we had in charge belonging to the Bents, scented their old grazing ground, and galloped cheerfully onward. And our hearts, relieved from the anxieties which had made our camp for weeks past a travelling Babel, leaped for joy as the gates of the fort were thrown open; and "welcome to Fort William"—the hearty welcome of fellow-countrymen in the wild wilderness, greeted us. Peace again—roofs again—safety again from the winged arrows of the savage; relief again from the depraved suggestions of inhumanity; bread, ah! bread again: and a prospect of a delightful tramp over the snowy heights between me and Oregon, with a few men of true and generous spirit, were some of the many sources of pleasure which struggled with my slumbers on the first night's tarry among the hospitalities of "Fort William."[50]

{100} My company was to disband here; the property held in common to be divided; and each individual to be left to his own resources. And while these and other things are being done, the reader will allow me to introduce him to the Great Prairie Wilderness, and the beings and matters therein contained.


[38] Turkey Creek, for which see our volume xix, p. 205, note 44.—Ed.

[39] Silas Bent of St. Louis (1768-1827), judge of the superior court of the territory and prominent at the bar, had seven sons. The third, John (1803-45), remained in St. Louis, was admitted to the bar, and held the office of district attorney. The others went out upon the frontier. In 1826 William W., Charles, Robert, and George formed a partnership with Ceran St. Vrain and built a picket fort high up on the Arkansas. The following year they removed somewhat farther east, and built an adobe. William W. Bent was the chief founder of the enterprise. A daring Indian fighter, tradition describes his defeat of two hundred savages after a three days' battle. He married a Cheyenne woman, and made his home at Bent's Fort. In 1847-48 he acted as guide for the American army against New Mexico, whence his title of colonel. For one year (1859) he served as Indian agent, and died at his home in Colorado, May 19, 1869. Robert and George both died young, about the year 1841. They were buried near the fort, their remains afterwards being removed to St. Louis. For Charles Bent, who made his home at Taos, see our volume xix, p. 221, note 55.—Ed.

[40] Concerning the crossing of the Little Arkansas, consult our volume xix, p. 207, note 45.—Ed.

[41] The trail reached the Arkansas in the neighborhood of the northern reach of the Great Bend; but Farnham's party must have wandered from the regular route, in order to employ three days and a half from the crossing of the Little Arkansas—a distance of not more than thirty-five miles.—Ed.

[42] Either Walnut or Ash Creek, the only two tributaries before reaching Pawnee Fork. Farnham seems, however, to have written from memory, and possibly confuses this stream with Turkey Creek, an affluent of the Little Arkansas. See ante, p. 70, note 34.—Ed.

[43] For Manuel Alvarez see our volume xx, p. 26, note 5.—Ed.

[44] For Pawnee Fork see our volume xvi, p. 227, note 105.—Ed.

[45] Sidney W. Smith, who afterwards reached Oregon in a destitute condition, was cared for at Dr. Whitman's mission, and went on to the Willamette where he settled with Ewing Young. He acquired considerable property, and was influential in the establishment of the provisional government, serving as its secretary, as captain of militia, and on the first provisional committee. He acquired the name of "Blubbermouth Smith" among the early pioneers, but became a man of sterling ability and founder of a prominent Oregon family.—Ed.

[46] For the Crossings see our volume xix, p. 218, note 54. The trading caravans proceeded by the Cimarron route, while Farnham's party took the mountain trail.—Ed.

[47] From the later narrative it is apparent that these were Chauncey Wood and Quinn Jordan.—Ed.

[48] W. Blair was a millwright, and upon reaching Oregon found employment in Spaulding's mill at the Lapwai mission. Afterwards he went to the Willamette, and finally emigrated to California, where he died.—Ed.

[49] For Chouteau's Island see our volume xix, p. 185, note 26.—Ed.

[50] For a brief history of this post see our volume xx, p. 138, note 92; see also post, chapter iv. A cut of the fort may be seen in J. T. Hughes, Doniphan's Expedition (Cincinnati, 1847), p. 35. Frémont visited there in 1844 and speaks of the hospitable treatment accorded him. In the palmy days of the fur-trade the Bents employed from eighty to a hundred men who made their headquarters at this post.—Ed.[Pg 108]


The Great Prairie Wilderness—Its Rivers and Soil—Its People and their Territories—Choctaws—Chickasaws—Cherokees—Creeks—Senecas and Shawnees—Seminoles—Pottawatamies—Weas—Pionkashas—Peorias and Kaskaskias—Ottowas—Shawnees or Shawanoes—Delawares—Kausaus—Kickapoos—Sauks and Foxes—Iowas—Otoes—Omehas—Puncahs—Pawnees, remnants—Carankauas—Cumanche, remnants—Knistineaux—Naudowisses or Sioux—Chippeways, and their traditions.

The tract of country to which I have thought it fitting to apply the name of the "Great Prairie Wilderness," embraces the territory lying between the States of Louisiana, Arkansas, and Missouri, and the Upper Mississippi on the east, and the Black Hills, and the eastern range of the Rocky and the Cordilleras mountains on the west. One thousand miles of longitude, and two thousand miles of latitude, 2,000,000 square miles, equal to 1,280,000,000 acres of an almost unbroken plain! The sublime Prairie Wilderness!

The portion of this vast region, two {102} hundred miles in width, along the coast of Texas and the frontier of the States of Louisiana, Arkansas, and Missouri, and that lying within the same distance of the Upper Mississippi in the Iowa Territory, possess a rich, deep, alluvial soil, capable of producing the most abundant crops of grains, vegetables, &c., that grow in such latitudes.

Another portion lying west of the irregular western line of that just described, five hundred miles in width, extending from the mouth of St. Peter's River to the Rio del Norte, is an almost unbroken plain, destitute of trees, except here and there one scattered at intervals for many miles along the banks of the streams. The soil, except the intervals of some of the rivers, is composed of coarse sand and clay, so thin and hard that it is difficult for travellers to penetrate[Pg 109] it with the stakes they carry with them wherewithal to fasten their animals or spread their tents. Nevertheless it is covered thickly with an extremely nutritious grass peculiar to this region of country, the blades of which are wiry and about two inches in height.

The remainder of this Great Wilderness, lying three hundred miles in width along {103} the eastern radices of the Black Hills and that part of the Rocky Mountains between the Platte and the Cordilleras-range east of the Rio del Norte, is the arid waste usually called the "Great American Desert."[51] Its soil is composed of dark gravel mixed with the sand. Some small portions of it, on the banks of the streams, are covered with tall prairie and bunch grass; others, with wild wormwood; but even these kinds of vegetation decrease and finally disappear as you approach the mountains. It is a scene of desolation scarcely equalled on the continent, when viewed in the dearth of midsummer from the base of the hills. Above, rise in sublime confusion, mass upon mass, shattered cliffs through which is struggling the dark foliage of stinted shrub-cedars; while below you spreads far and wide the burnt and arid desert, whose solemn silence is seldom broken by the tread of any other animal than the wolf or the starved and thirsty horse which bears the traveller across its wastes.

The principal streams that intersect the Great Prairie wilderness are the Colorado, the Brazos, Trinity, Red, Arkansas, Great Platte and the Missouri. The latter is in many respects a noble stream; not so {104} much so indeed for the intercourse it opens between the States and the plains, as the theatre of agriculture and the other pursuits of a densely populated and distant interior; for these plains are too barren for general cultivation. As a channel for the transportation of heavy artillery, military stores,[Pg 110] troops, &c. to posts that must ultimately be established along our northern frontier, it will be of the highest use.

In the months of April, May, and June it is navigable for steamboats to the Great Falls; but the scarcity of water during the remainder of the year, as well as the scarcity of wood and coal along its banks, its steadily rapid current, its tortuous course, its falling banks, timber imbedded in the mud of its channel, and its constantly shifting sand bars, will ever prevent its waters from being extensively navigated, how great soever may be the demand for it. In that part of it which lies above the mouth of the Little Missouri and the tributaries flowing into it on either side, are said to be many charming and productive valleys, separated from each other by secondary rocky ridges sparsely covered with evergreen trees; and high over all, far in south-west, west and north-west, tower into {105} view, the ridges of the Rocky Mountains, whose inexhaustible magazines of ice and snow have, from age to age, supplied these valleys with refreshing springs—and the Missouri—the Great Platte—the Columbia—and Western Colorado rivers with their tribute to the seas.

Lewis and Clark, on their way to Oregon in 1805, made the Portage at the Great Falls eighteen miles. In this distance the water descends three hundred and sixty-two feet. The first great pitch is ninety-eight feet, the second nineteen, the third forty-eight, and the fourth twenty-six. Smaller rapids make up the remainder of the descent. After passing over the Portage with their boats and baggage, they again entrusted themselves to the turbulent stream—entered the chasms of the Rocky Mountains seventy-one miles above the upper rapids of the Falls, penetrated them one hundred and eighty miles, with the mere force of their oars against the current, to Gallatin, Madison and Jefferson's Forks—and in the[Pg 111] same manner ascended Jefferson's River two hundred and forty-eight miles to the extreme head of navigation, making from the mouth of the Missouri, whence they started, three thousand and ninety-six {106} miles; four hundred and twenty-nine of which lay among the sublime crags and cliffs of the mountains.[52]

The Great Platte has a course by its northern fork of about one thousand five hundred miles; and by its southern fork somewhat more than that distance; from its entrance into the Missouri to the junction of these forks about four hundred miles. The north fork rises in Wind River Mountain, north of the Great Pass through Long's range of the Rocky Mountains, in latitude 42° north.[53] The south fork rises one hundred miles west of James Peak, and within fifteen miles of the point where the Arkansas escapes from the chasms of the mountains, in latitude 39° north.[54] This river is not navigable for steamboats at any season of the year. In the spring floods, the batteaux of the American fur traders descend it from the forts on its forks. But even this is so hazardous that they are beginning to prefer taking down their furs in waggons by the way of the Kansas River to Westport, Missouri, thence by steamboat to St. Louis. During the summer and autumn months its waters are too shallow to float a canoe. In the winter it is bound in ice. Useless as it is for {107} purposes of navigation, it is destined to be of great value in another respect.

[Pg 112]

The overland travel from the States to Oregon and California will find its great highway along its banks. So that in years to come, when the Federal Government shall take possession of its Territory West of the Mountains, the banks of this stream will be studded with fortified posts for the protection of countless caravans of American citizens emigrating thither to establish their abode; or of those that are willing to endure or destroy the petty tyranny of the Californian Government, for a residence in that most beautiful, productive country. Even now, loaded waggons can pass without serious interruption from the mouth of the Platte to navigable waters on the Columbia River in Oregon, and the Bay of San Francisco, in California.[55]

As it may interest my readers to peruse a description of these routes given me by different individuals who had often travelled them, I will insert it: "Land on the north side of the mouth of the Platte; follow up that stream to the Forks, four hundred miles; in this distance only one stream where a raft will be needed, and that near the Missouri; all the rest fordable. At the Forks, take the north side of {108} the North one; fourteen days' travel to the Black Hills; thence leaving the river's bank, strike off in a North-West direction to the Sweetwater branch, at "Independence Rock," (a large rock in the plain on which the old trappers many years ago carved the word "Independence" and their own names; oval in form;) follow up the sweet-water three days; cross it and go to its head; eight or ten days travel this; then cross over westward to the head waters of a small creek running southwardly into the Platte, thence westward to Big Sandy creek two days, (this creek is a large[Pg 113] stream coming from Wind river Mountains in the North;) thence one day to Little Sandy creek—thence westward over three or four creeks to Green River, (Indian name Sheetskadee,) strike it at the mouth of Horse creek—follow it down three days to Pilot Bute; thence strike westward one day to Ham's Fork of Green River—two days up Ham's Fork—thence West one day to Muddy Branch of Great Bear River—down it one day to Great Bear River—down this four days to Soda Springs; turn to the right up a valley a quarter of a mile below the Soda Springs; follow it up a north west direction two days to its head; there take the left hand valley leading over the dividing {109} ridge; one day over to the waters of Snake River at Fort Hall;[56] thence down Snake River twenty days to the junction of the Lewis and Clark Rivers—or twenty days travel westwardly by the Mary's River—thence through a natural and easy passage in the California Mountains to the navigable waters of the San Joaquin—a noble stream emptying into the Bay of San Francisco."[57]

[Pg 114]

The Platte therefore when considered in relation to our intercourse with the habitable countries on the Western Ocean assumes an unequal importance among the streams of the Great Prairie Wilderness! But for it, it would be impossible for man or beast to travel those arid plains, destitute alike, of wood, water and grass, save what of each is found along its course. Upon the head waters of its North Fork, too, is the only way or opening in the Rocky mountains at all practicable for a carriage road through them. That traversed by Lewis and Clark, is covered with perpetual snow; that near the debouchure of the South Fork of the river is over high and nearly impassable precipices; that travelled by myself farther south, is, and ever will be impassable for wheel carriages. But the Great Gap, nearly {110} on a right line between the mouth of Missouri and Fort Hall on Clark's River—the point where the trails to California and Oregon diverge—seems designed by nature as the great gateway between the nations on the Atlantic and Pacific seas.[58]

The Red River has a course of about one thousand five hundred miles. It derives its name from a reddish colour of its water, produced by a rich red earth or marl in its banks, far up in the Prairie Wilderness. So abundantly is this mingled with its waters during the spring freshets, that as the floods retire, they leave upon the lands they have overflowed a deposit of half an inch in thickness. Three hundred miles from its mouth commences what is called "The Raft," a covering formed by drift-wood, which conceals the whole river for an extent of about forty miles. And so deeply is this immense bridge covered with the sediment of the stream, that all kinds of vegetable common in its neighbourhood, even trees of a considerable size, are[Pg 115] growing upon it. The annual inundations are said to be cutting a new channel near the hill. Steamboats ascend the river to the Raft, and might go fifty leagues above, if that obstruction were removed.[59] Above this latter point {111} the river is said to be embarrassed by many rapids, shallows, falls, and sand-bars. Indeed, for seven hundred miles its broad bed is represented to be an extensive and perfect sand-bar; or rather a series of sand-bars; among which during the summer months, the water stands in ponds. As you approach the mountains, however, it becomes contracted within narrow limits over a gravelly bottom, and a swift, clear, and abundant stream. The waters of the Red River are so brackish when low, as to be unfit for common use.

The Trinity River, the Brazos, and the Rio Colorado, have each a course of about twelve hundred miles, rising in the plains and mountains on the north and north-west side of Texas, and running south south-east into the Gulf of Mexico.

The Rio Bravo del Norte[60] bounds the Great Prairie Wilderness on the south and south-west. It is one thousand six hundred and fifty miles long. The extent of its navigation is little known. Lieutenant Pike remarks in regard to it, that "for the extent of four or five hundred miles before you arrive near the mountains, the bed of the river is extensive and a perfect sand-bar, which at a certain season is dry, at least the waters stand {112} in ponds, not affording sufficient to procure a running course. When you come nearer the mountains, you find the river contracted, a gravelly bottom and a deep navigable stream. From these [Pg 116]circumstances it is evident that the sandy soil imbibes all the waters which the sources project from the mountains, and render the river in dry seasons less navigable five hundred miles, than two hundred from its source." Perhaps we should understand the Lieutenant to mean that five hundred miles of sand bar and two hundred miles immediately below its source being taken from its whole course, the remainder, nine hundred and fifty miles, would be the length of its navigable waters.[61]

The Arkansas, after the Missouri, is the most considerable river of the country under consideration. It takes its rise in that cluster of secondary mountains which lie at the eastern base of the Anahuac Ridge, in latitude 41° north—eighty or ninety miles north-west of James Peak. It runs about two hundred miles—first in a southerly and then in a south-easterly direction among these mountains; at one time along the most charming valleys and at another through the most awful chasms—till it rushes from them with a foaming {113} current in latitude 39° north. From the place of its debouchure to its entrance into the Mississippi is a distance of 1981 miles; its total length 2173 miles. About fifty miles below a tributary of this stream, called the Grand Saline,[62] a series of sand-bars commence and run down the river several hundred miles. Among them, during the dry season, the water stands in isolated pools, with no apparent current. But such is the quantity of water [Pg 117]sent down from the mountains by this noble stream at the time of the annual freshets, that there is sufficient depth, even upon these bars, to float large and heavy boats; and having once passed these obstructions, they can be taken up to the place where the river escapes from the crags of the mountains. Boats intended to ascend the river, should start from the mouth about the 1st of February. The Arkansas will be useful in conveying munitions of war to our southern frontier. In the dry season, the waters of this river are strongly impregnated with salt and nitre.

There are about 135,000 Indians inhabiting the Great Prairie Wilderness,[63] of whose social and civil condition, manners and customs, &c. I will give a brief account. {114} It would seem natural to commence with those tribes which reside in what is called "The Indian Territory;" a tract of country bounded south by the Red River, east by the States of Arkansas and Missouri—on the north-east and north by the Missouri and Punch Rivers,[64] and west by the western limit of habitable country on this side of the Rocky Mountains. This the National Government has purchased of the indigenous tribes at specific prices; and under treaty stipulations to pay them certain annuities in cash, and certain others in facilities for learning the useful arts, and for acquiring that knowledge of all kinds of truth which will, as is supposed, in the end excite the wants, create the industry, and confer upon them the happiness of the civilized state.

These benevolent intentions of Government, however, have a still wider reach. Soon after the English power [Pg 118]had been extinguished here, the enlightened men who had raised over its ruins the temples of equal justice, began to make efforts to restore to the Indians within the colonies the few remaining rights that British injustice had left within their power to return; and so to exchange property with them, as to {115} secure to the several States the right of sovereignty within their several limits, and to the Indians, the functions of a sovereign power, restricted in this, that the tribes should not sell their lands to other person or body corporate, or civil authority, beside the Government of the United States; and in some other respects restricted, so as to preserve peace among the tribes, prevent tyranny, and lead them to the greatest happiness they are capable of enjoying.[65]

Various and numerous were the efforts made to raise and ameliorate their condition in their old haunts within the precincts of the States. But a total or partial failure followed them all. In a few cases, indeed, there seemed a certain prospect of final success, if the authorities of the States in which they resided had permitted them to remain where they were. But as all experience tended to prove that their proximity to the whites induced among them more vice than virtue; and as the General Government, before any attempts had been made to elevate them, had become bound to remove them from {116} many of the States in which they resided, both the welfare of the Indians, and the duty of the Government, urged their colonization in a portion of the western domain, where, freed from all questions of conflicting sovereignties, and under the protection of the Union, and their own municipal regulations, they might find a refuge from those influences which threatened the annihilation of their race.

[Pg 119]

The "Indian Territory" has been selected for this purpose. And assuredly if an inexhaustible soil, producing all the necessaries of life in greater abundance, and with a third less labour than they are produced in the Atlantic States, with excellent water, fine groves of timber growing by the streams, rocky cliffs rising at convenient distances for use among the deep alluvial plains, mines of iron and lead ore and coal, lakes and springs and streams of salt water, and innumerable quantities of buffalo ranging through their lands, are sufficient indications that this country is a suitable dwelling-place for a race of men which is passing from the savage to the civilized condition, the Indian Territory has been well chosen as the home of these unfortunate people. Thither the Government, for the last thirty years, has been endeavouring {117} to induce those within the jurisdiction of the States to emigrate.[66]

The Government purchase the land which the emigrating tribes leave—giving them others within the Territory; transport them to their new abode; erect a portion of their dwellings; plough and fence a portion of their fields; furnish them teachers of agriculture, and implements of husbandry, horses, cattle, &c.; erect schoolhouses, and support teachers in them the year round; make provision for the subsistence of those who, by reason of their recent emigration, are unable to support themselves; and do every other act of benevolence necessary to put within their ability to enjoy, not only all the physical comforts that they left behind them, but also every requisite, facility, and encouragement to become a reasoning, cultivated, and happy people.

Nor does this spirit of liberality stop here. The great doctrine that Government is formed to confer upon its[Pg 120] subjects a greater degree of happiness than they could enjoy in the natural state, has suggested that the system of hereditary chieftaincies, and its dependant evils among the tribes, should yield, as circumstances may permit, to the ordination of nature, the supremacy {118} of intellect and virtue. Accordingly, it is contemplated to use the most efficient means to abolish them, making the rulers elective, establishing a form of government in each tribe, similar in department and duties to our State Governments, and uniting the tribes under a General Government, similar in powers and functions to that at Washington.[67]

It is encouraging to know that some of the tribes have adopted this system; and that the Government of the Union has been so far encouraged to hope for its adoption by all those in the Indian Territory, that in 1837 orders were issued from the Department of Indian affairs, to the Superintendent of Surveys, to select and report a suitable place for the Central Government. A selection was accordingly made of a charming and valuable tract of land on the Osage river, about seven miles square; which, on account of its equal distance from the northern and southern line of the Territory, and the beauty and excellence of the surrounding country, appears in every way adapted to its contemplated use. It is a little more than sixteen miles from the western line of Missouri. Any member of those tribes which come into the confederation, may own property in the district, and no other.[68]

[Pg 121]

{119} The indigenous, or native tribes of the Indian Territory, are—the Osages, about 5,510; the Kauzaus or Caws, 1,720; the Omahas, 1,400; the Otoe and Missouri, 1,600; the Pawnee, 10,000; Puncah, 800; Quapaw, 600—making 21,660. The tribes that have emigrated thither from the States, are—the Choctaw, 15,600 (this estimate includes 200 white men, married to Choctaw women, and 600 negro slaves); the Chickasaws, 5,500; the Cherokees, 22,000 (this estimate includes 1,200 negro slaves owned by them); the Cherokees (including 900 slaves), 22,000; the Creeks (including 393 negro slaves) 22,500; the Senecas and Shawnees, 461; the Seminoles, 1,600; the Pottawatamies, 1,650; the Weas, 206; the Piankashas, 157; the Peorias and Kaskaskias, 142; the Ottawas, 240; the Shawnees, 823; the Delawares, 921; the Kickapoos, 400; the Sauks, 600; the Iowas, 1,000. It is to be understood that the numbers assigned to these tribes represent only those portions of them which have actually removed to the Territory. Large numbers of several tribes are still within the borders of the States. It appears from the above tables, then, that 72,200 have had lands assigned them; and, abating the relative {120} effects of births and deaths among them, in increasing or diminishing their numbers, are actually residing in the Territory. These, added to 21,000 of the indigenous tribes, amount to 94,860 under the fostering care of the Federal Government, in a fertile and delightful country, six hundred miles in length from north to south, and east and west from the frontier of the Republic to the deserts of the mountains.

The Choctaw country lies in the extreme south of the Territory. Its boundaries are—on the south, the Red River, which separates it from the Republic of Texas; on the west, by that line running from the Red River to the Arkansas River, which separates the Indian American[Pg 122] Territory from that of Mexico;[69] on the north, by the Arkansas and the Canadian Rivers; and on the east, by the State of Arkansas. This tract is capable of producing the most abundant crops, the small grains, Indian corn, flax, hemp, tobacco, cotton, &c. The western portion of it is poorly supplied with timber; but all the distance from the Arkansas' frontier westward, two hundred miles, and extending one hundred and sixty miles from its northern to its southern boundary, the country is capable of supporting {121} a population as dense as that of England. 19,200,000 acres of soil suitable for immediate settlement, and a third as much more to the westward that would produce the black locust in ten years after planting, of sufficient size for fencing the very considerable part of it which is rich enough for agricultural purposes, will, doubtless, sustain any increased population of this tribe that can reasonably be looked for during the next five hundred years.

They have suffered much from sickness incident to settlers in a new country. But there appear to be no natural causes existing, which, in the known order of things, will render their location permanently unhealthy. On the other hand, since they have become somewhat inured to the change of climate, they are quite as healthy as the whites near them; and are improving in civilization and comfort; have many large farms; much live stock, such as horses, mules, cattle, sheep, and swine; three flouring-mills, two cotton-gins, eighty-eight looms, and two hundred and twenty spinning-wheels; carts, waggons, and other farming utensils. Three or four thousand Choctaws have not yet settled on the lands assigned to them. A part of these are in {122} Texas, between the rivers Brazos and Trinity, 300 in number, who located themselves there in the time of the general emigration; and others in divers places in Texas,[Pg 123] who emigrated thither at various times twenty, thirty, and forty years ago. Still another band continues to reside east of the Mississippi.

The Choctaw Nation, as the tribe denominates itself, has adopted a written constitution of Government, similar to the Constitution of the United States. Their Declaration of Rights secures to all ranks and sects equal rights, liberty of conscience, and trial by jury, &c. It may be altered or amended by a National Council. They have divided their country into four judicial districts. Three of them annually elect nine, and the other thirteen, members of the National Assembly. They meet on the first Monday in October annually; organize by the election of a Speaker, the necessary clerks, a light-horseman (sergeant-at-arms), and doorkeeper; adopt by-laws, or rules for their governance, while in session; and make other regulations requisite for the systematic transaction of business. The journals are kept in the English language; but in the progress of business are read off {123} in Choctaw. The preliminary of a law is, "Be it enacted by the General Council of the Choctaw Nation."

By the Constitution, the Government is composed of four departments, viz.: Legislative, Executive, Judicial and Military. Three judges are elected in each district by popular vote, who hold inferior and superior courts within their respective districts. Ten light-horse men in each district perform the duties of sheriffs. An act has been passed for the organization of the militia. Within each judicial district an officer is elected, denominated a chief, who holds his office for the term of four years. These chiefs have honorary seats in the National Council. Their signatures are necessary to the passage of a law. If they veto an act, it may become a law by the concurrence of two-thirds of the Council. Thus have the influences of our institu[Pg 124]tions begun to tame and change the savages of the western wilderness.[70]

At the time when the lights of religion and science had scarcely begun to dawn upon them—when they had scarcely discovered the clouds of ignorance that had walled every avenue to rational life—even while the dust of antiquated barbarism was {124} still hanging upon their garments—and the night of ages, of sloth, and sin held them in its cold embraces—the fires on the towers of this great temple of civil freedom arrested their slumbering faculties, and they read on all the holy battlements, written with beams of living light, "All men are, and of right ought to be, free and equal." This teaching leads them. It was a pillar of fire moving over the silent grave of the past—enlightening the vista of coming years—and, by its winning brightness, inviting them to rear in the Great Prairie wilderness, a sanctuary of republican liberty—of equal laws—in which to deposit the ark of their own future well-being.

The Chickasaws have become merged in the Choctaws. When they sold to the Government their lands east of the Mississippi, they agreed to furnish themselves with a home. This they have done in the western part of the Choctaw[Pg 125] country for the sum of £106,000. It is called the Chickasaw district; and constitutes an integral part of the Choctaw body politic in every respect, except that the Chickasaws, like the Choctaws, received and invest for their own sole use, the annuities and other moneys proceeding from the sale of their lands east of the Mississippi.[71]

{125} The treaty of 1830 provides for keeping forty Choctaw youths at school, under the direction of the President of the United States, for the term of twenty years. Also, the sum of £500 is to be applied to the support of three teachers of schools among them for the same length of time. There is, also, an unexpended balance of former annuities, amounting to about £5,000, which is to be applied to the support of schools, at twelve different places. Schoolhouses have been erected for this purpose, and paid for, out of this fund. Also, by the treaty of 1825, they are entitled to an annuity of £1,200, for the support of schools within the Choctaw district.

The treaty of the 24th of May, 1834, provides that £600 annually, for fifteen years, shall be applied, under the direction of the Secretary of War, to the education of the Chickasaws. These people have become very wealthy, by the cession of their lands east of the Mississippi to the United States. They have a large fund applicable to various objects of civilization; £2,000 of which is, for the present, applied to purposes of education.[72]

The country assigned to the Cherokees is bounded as follows: beginning on the {126} north bank of Arkansas [Pg 126]River, where the western line of the State of Arkansas crosses the river; thence north 7° 35´ west, along the line of the State of Arkansas, seventy-seven miles to the south-west corner of the State of Missouri; thence north along the line of Missouri, eight miles to Seneca River; thence west along the southern boundary of the Senecas to Neosho River; thence up said river to the Osage lands; thence west with the South boundary of the Osage lands, two hundred and eighty-eight and a half miles; thence south to the Creek lands, and east along the north line of the creeks, to a point about forty-three miles west of the State of Arkansas, and twenty-five miles north of Arkansas River, thence south to Verdigris River, thence down Verdigris to Arkansas River; thence down Arkansas River to the mouth of Neosho River; thence South 53° west one mile; thence south 18° 19´ west thirty-three miles; thence south four miles, to the junction of the North Fork and Canadian Rivers; thence down the latter to the Arkansas; and thence down the Arkansas, to the place of beginning.[73]

They also own a tract, described, by beginning at the south-east corner of the Osage lands, and running north with the Osage line, fifty miles; thence east twenty-five {127} miles to the west line of Missouri; thence west twenty-five miles, to the place of beginning.

They own numerous Salt Springs, three of which are worked by Cherokees. The amount of Salt manufactured is probably about 100 bushels per day. They also own two Lead Mines. Their Salt Works and Lead Mines are in the Eastern portion of their country. All the settlements yet formed are there also. It embraces about 2,500,000 acres. They own about 20,000 head of cattle, 3,000 horses, 15,000[Pg 127] hogs, 600 sheep, 110 waggons, often several ploughs to one farm, several hundred spinning wheels, and one hundred looms. Their fields are enclosed with rail fences. They have erected for themselves good log dwellings, with stone chimneys and plank floors. Their houses are furnished with plain tables, chairs, and bedsteads, and with table and kitchen furniture, nearly or quite equal to the dwellings of white people in new countries.—They have seven native merchants, and one regular physician, beside several "quacks." Houses of entertainment, with neat and comfortable accommodation, are found among them.

Their settlements are divided into four districts, each of which elects for the term {128} of two years, two members of the National Council—the title of which is, "The General Council of the Cherokee Nation." By law, it meets annually on the first Monday in October. They have three chiefs, which till lately have been chosen by the General Council. Hereafter, they are to be elected by the people. The approval of the chiefs is necessary to the passage of a law; but an act upon which they have fixed their veto, may become a law by a vote of two thirds of the Council. The Council consists of two branches. The lower is denominated the Committee, and the upper, the Council. The concurrence of both is necessary to the passage of a law. The chiefs may call a Council at pleasure. In this, and in several other respects, they retain in some degree the authority common to hereditary chiefs. Two Judges belong to each district, who hold courts when necessary. Two officers, denominated Light-horsemen, in each district perform the duties of Sheriffs. A company of six or seven Light-horsemen, the leader of whom is styled captain, constitute a National Corps of Regulators, to prevent infractions of the law, and to bring offenders to justice.[74]

[Pg 128]

It is stipulated in the treaty of the 6th {129} of May, 1823, that the United States will pay £400 annually to the Cherokees for ten years, to be expended under the direction of the President of the United States, in the education of their children, in their own country, in letters and mechanic arts. Also £200 toward the purchase of a printing-press and types. By the treaty of December 29, 1835, the sum of £30,000 is provided for the support of common schools, and such a literary institution of a higher order as may be established in the Indian country. The above sum is to be added to an education fund of £10,000 that previously existed, making the sum of £40,000 which is to remain a permanent school fund, only the interest of which is to be consumed. The application of this money is to be directed by the Cherokee Nation, under the supervision of the President of the United States. The interest of it will be sufficient constantly to keep in a boarding-school two hundred children; or eight hundred, if boarded by their parents.

The country of the Creeks joins Canadian river, and the lands of the Choctaws on the south, and the Cherokee lands on the east and north. Their eastern limit is about sixty-two miles from north to south; {130} their western limit the Mexican boundary.[75]

Their country is fertile, and exhibits a healthy appearance; but of the latter Creek emigrants who reached Arkansas in the winter and spring of 1837, about two hundred died on the road; and before the 1st of October succeeding the arrival, about three thousand five hundred more fell victims to bilious fevers. In the same year three hundred of the earlier emigrants died. They own salt springs, cultivate[Pg 129] corn, vegetables, &c., spin, weave and sew, and follow other pursuits of civilised people. Many of them have large stocks of cattle. Before the crops of 1837 had been gathered, they had sold corn to the amount of upwards of £7,800; and vast quantities still remained unsold. Even the emigrants who arrived in their country during the winter and spring, previous to the cropping season of 1837, broke the turf, fenced their fields, raised their crops for the first time on the soil, and sold their surplus of corn for £2,000. They have two native merchants.

The civil government of this tribe is less perfect than that of the Cherokees. There are two bands; the one under McIntosh, the other under Little Doctor.[76] That led {131} by the former, brought with them from their old home written laws which they enforce as the laws of their band. That under the latter, made written laws after their arrival. Each party holds a general council. The members of each are hereditary chiefs, and a class of men called councillors. Each of these great bands is divided into lesser ones; which severally may hold courts, try civil and criminal causes, sentence, and execute, &c. Laws, however, are made by the general councils only; and it is becoming customary to entertain trials of cases before these bodies, and to detail some of their members for executioners. The legislative, [Pg 130]judicial, and executive departments of their government are thus becoming strangely united in one.

The treaty of the 6th of March, 1832, stipulates that an annuity of £600 shall be expended by the United States, under the direction of the President, for the term of twenty years, in the education of their children. Another £200 by the treaty of the 14th of February, 1833, is to be annually expended during the pleasure of Congress for the same object, under the direction of the President.

In location and government the Seminoles {132} are merged in the Creeks.[77] In the spring of 1836, about four hundred of them emigrated from the east, and settled on the north fork of Canadian river. In October, 1837, they were reduced by sickness nearly one-half. During these awful times of mortality among them, some of the dead were deposited in the hollows of the standing and fallen trees, and others, for want of these, were placed in a temporary inclosure of boards, on the open plains. Guns and other articles of property were often buried with the dead, according to ancient custom; and so great is said to have been the terror of the time, that, having abandoned themselves awhile to their wailings around the burial-places of their friends, they fled to the western deserts till the pestilence subsided. Of the two thousand and twenty-three emigrants who had reached their new homes prior to [Pg 131]October, 1832, not more than one thousand six hundred remained alive.

The Senecas consist of three bands, namely: Senecas two hundred, Senecas and Shawanoes two hundred and eleven, Mohawks fifty; in all four hundred and sixty-one. The lands of the Senecas proper adjoin those of the Cherokees on the south, {133} and abutting on the Missouri border, the distance of thirteen miles, extend north to Neosho river. The lands of the mixed band of Senecas and Shawanoes, extend north between the State of Missouri and Neosho river, so far as to include sixty-thousand acres.[78]

These people, also, are in some measure civilized. Most of them speak English. They have fields inclosed with rail fences, and raise corn and vegetables sufficient for their own use. They own about eight-hundred horses, twelve hundred cattle, thirteen yoke of oxen, two hundred hogs, five waggons, and sixty-seven ploughs; dwell in neat, hewn log cabins erected by themselves, and furnished with bedsteads, chairs, tables, &c., of their own manufacture; and own one grist and saw-mill, erected at the expense of the United States.

The country of the Osages lies north of the western portion of the Cherokee lands, commencing twenty-five miles west of the State of Missouri, and thence, in a width of fifty miles, extends westward as far as the country can be inhabited. In 1817, they numbered ten thousand five hundred. Wars with the Sioux, and other causes, have left only five thousand five hundred. {134} About half the tribe reside on the eastern portion of their lands; the residue in the Cherokee country, in two villages on Verdigris river.[79]

[Pg 132]

This tribe has made scarcely any improvement. Their fields are small and badly fenced. Their huts are constructed of poles inserted in the ground, bent together at the top, and covered with bark, mats, &c., and some of them with buffalo and elk skins. The fire is placed in the centre, and the smoke escapes through an aperture at the top. These huts are built in villages, and crowded together without order or arrangement, and destitute of furniture of any kind, except a platform raised about two feet upon stakes set in the ground. This extends along the side of the hut, and may serve for a seat, a table, or a bedstead. The leggings, and moccasins for the feet, are seldom worn except in cold weather, or when they are travelling in the grass. These, with a temporary garment fastened about the loins, and extending downwards, and a buffalo robe or blanket thrown loosely around them, constitute the sole wardrobe of the males and married females. The unmarried females wear also a strip of plain cloth eight or nine inches wide, which they throw over {135} one shoulder, draw it over the breasts, and fasten it under the opposite arm.

The Osages were, when the whites first knew them, brave, warlike, and in the Indian sense of the term, in affluent circumstances. They were the hardiest and fiercest enemies of the terrible Sioux; but their independent spirit is gone, and they have degenerated into the miserable condition of insolent, starving thieves. The government has been, and is making the most generous efforts to elevate them. The treaty of 1825 provides, "that the President of the United States shall employ such persons to aid the [Pg 133]Osages in their agricultural pursuits, as to him may seem expedient." Under this stipulation, £240 annually have been expended, for the last fifteen years. This bounty of the government, however, has not been of any permanent benefit to the tribe. The same treaty of 1825, required fifty-four sections of land to be laid off and sold under the direction of the President of the United States, and the proceeds to be applied to the education of Osage children. Early in the year 1838, government made an arrangement by which they were to be paid two dollars per acre, for the whole tract of fifty-four sections, {136} 34,560 acres. This commutation has secured to the Osage tribe, the sum of £13,824 for education; a princely fund for five thousand five hundred and ten individuals. Government hereditary chieftaincies.

The band of Quapaws was originally connected with the Osages. Their lands lie immediately north of the Senecas and Shawanoes, and extend north between the state of Missouri on the east, and Neosho River on the west, so far as to include 96,000 acres. Their country is south-east of, and near to the country of the Osages. Their habits are somewhat more improved, and their circumstances more comfortable than those of the last named tribe. They subsist by industry at home, cultivate fields enclosed with rail fences; and about three-fourths of them have erected for themselves small log dwellings with chimneys. Unfortunately for the Quapaws, they settled on the lands of the Senecas and Shawanoes, from which they must soon remove to their own. A small band of them, forty or fifty in number, have settled in Texas, and about thirty others live among the Choctaws.[80]

The Pottawatamies, in emigrating to the west, have unfortunately been divided into two bands. One thousand[Pg 134] or fifteen hundred {137} have located themselves on the north-east side of the Missouri River, two hundred and forty miles from the country designated by government as their permanent residence. Negotiations have been made to effect their removal to their own lands, but without success. About fifteen hundred others have settled near the Sauks, on the Mississippi, and manifest a desire to remain there. The country designated for them lies on the sources of the Osage and Neosho rivers; it commences sixteen miles and four chains west of the State of Missouri, and in a width of twenty-four miles, extends west two hundred miles. By the treaty of 1833, they are allowed the sum of £14,000 for purposes of education and the encouragement of the useful arts. Also by the same treaty, is secured to them the sum of £30,000 to be applied in the erection of mills, farmhouses, Indian houses, and blacksmiths' shops; to the purchase of agricultural implements and live stock, and for the support of physicians, millers, farmers, and blacksmiths, which the President of the United States shall think proper to appoint to their service.[81]

The Weas and Piankashas are bands of Miamis. Their country lies north of the {138} Pottawatamies, adjoins the State of Missouri on the east, the Shawanoes on the north, and the Peorias and Kaskaskias on the west—160,000 acres. These people own a few cattle and swine. About one-half of their dwellings are constructed of logs, the remainder of bark, in the old native style. Their fields are enclosed[Pg 135] with rails, and they cultivate corn and vegetables sufficient for a comfortable subsistence. The Piankasha band is less improved than the Weas. The former have a field of about fifty acres, made by the government; the latter have made their own improvements.

The Peorias and Kaskaskias are also bands of the Miamis. Their land lies immediately west of the Weas; adjoins the Shawanoes on the north, and the Ottowas on the west. They own 96,000 acres. They are improving, live in log-houses, have small fields generally enclosed with rail-fences, and own considerable numbers of cattle and swine.[82]

The lands of the Ottowas lie immediately west of the Peorias and Kaskaskias, and south of the Shawanoes. The first band of emigrants received 36,000 acres, and one which arrived subsequently, 40,000 acres, adjoining the first. They all live in good {139} log cabins, have fields enclosed with rail-fences, raise a comfortable supply of corn and garden vegetables, are beginning to raise wheat, have horses, cattle and swine, a small grist-mill in operation, and many other conveniences of life, that indicate an increasing desire among them to seek from the soil, rather than the chase, the means of life. About five thousand Ottowas, residing in Michigan, are soon to be removed to their brethren in the Territory. The country of the Ottowas lies upon the western verge of the contemplated Indian[Pg 136] settlement, and consequently opens an unlimited range to the westward. Their government is based on the old system of Indian chieftaincies.[83]

Immediately on the north of the Weas and Piankashas the Peorias and Kaskaskias and Ottowas, lies the country of the Shawnees, or Shawanoes. It extends along the line of the State of Missouri, north, twenty-eight miles to the Missouri River at its junction with the Konzas, thence to a point sixty miles on a direct course to the lands of the Kauzaus, thence south on the Kauzaus line six miles, and from these lines, with a breadth of about nineteen miles to a north and south line, one hundred and twenty miles west of the State of Missouri, {140} containing 1,600,000 acres. Their principal settlements are on the north-east corner of their country, between the Missouri border and the Konzas River. Most of them live in neatly hewn log-cabins, erected by themselves, and partially supplied with furniture of their own manufacture. Their fields are inclosed with rail-fences, and sufficiently large to yield plentiful supplies of corn and culinary vegetables. They keep cattle and swine, work oxen, and use horses for draught, and own some ploughs, waggons and carts. They have a saw and grist-mill, erected by government at an expense of about £1,600. This, like many other emigrant tribes, is much scattered. Besides the two bands on the Neosho, already mentioned,[Pg 137] there is one on Trinity River, in Texas, and others in divers places.

Under the superintendence of Missionaries of various denominations, these people are making considerable progress in Education and the Mechanic Arts. They have a printing press among them, from which is issued a monthly periodical, entitled the "Shauwawnoue Kesauthwau"—Shawanoe Sun.[84]

The lands of the Delawares lie north of the Shawanots, in the forks of the Konzas {141} and Missouri Rivers; extending up the former to the Kauzaus lands, thence north twenty-four miles, to the north-east corner of the Kauzaus survey, up the Missouri twenty-three miles, in a direct course to Cantonment Leavenworth, thence with a line westward to a point ten miles north of the north-east corner of the Kauzaus survey, and then a slip not more than ten miles wide, it extends westwardly along the northern boundary of the Kauzaus, two-hundred and ten miles from the State of Missouri.

They live in the eastern portion of their country, near the junction of the Konzas and Missouri Rivers; have good hewn log-houses, and some furniture in them; in[Pg 138]close their fields with rail fences; keep cattle and hogs; apply horses to draught; use oxen and ploughs; cultivate corn and garden vegetables, sufficient for use: have commenced the culture of wheat; and own a grist and saw-mill, erected by the United States. Some of these people remain in the Lake country; a few are in Texas; about one-hundred reside on the Choctaw lands near Arkansas River, one hundred and twenty miles west of the state of Arkansas. These latter have acquired the {142} languages of the Cumanches, Keaways, Pawnees, &c., and are extensively employed as interpreters by traders from the Indian Territory. The Treaty of September, 1829, provides that thirty-six sections of the best land within the district at that time ceded to the United States, be selected and sold, and the proceeds applied to the support of Schools for the education of Delaware children. In the year 1838, the Delawares agreed to a commutation of two dollars per acre, which secures to them an Education Fund of £9,000.[85]

The country of the Kauzaus lies on the Konzas River. It commences sixty miles west of the State of Missouri, and thence, in a width of thirty miles, extends westward as far as the plains can be inhabited. It is well watered and timbered; and in every respect delightful. They are a lawless, dissolute race. Formerly they committed many depredations[Pg 139] upon their own traders, and other persons ascending the Missouri River. But, being latterly restrained in this regard by the United States, they have turned their predatory operations upon their red neighbours. In language, habits and condition in life, they are in effect the same as the Osages. In {143} matters of peace and war, the two tribes are blended. They are virtually one people.

Like the Osages, the Kauzaus are ignorant and wretched in the extreme; uncommonly servile, and easily managed by the white men who reside among them.[86] Almost all of them live in villages of straw, bark, flag and earth huts. These latter are in the form of a cone; wall two feet in thickness, supported by wooden pillars within. Like the other huts, these have no floor except the earth. The fire is built in the centre of the interior area. The smoke escapes at an opening in the apex of the cone. The door is a mere hole, through which they crawl, closed by the skin of some animal suspended therein.[87] They cultivate small patches of corn, beans and melons. They dig the ground with hoes and sticks. Their fields generally, are not fenced. They have one, however, of three hundred acres, which the United States six years ago ploughed and fenced for them. The principal Chiefs have log-houses built by the Government Agent.

It is encouraging, however, to know that these miserable creatures are beginning to yield to the elevating influences around {144} them. A missionary has induced some of them to leave the villages, make separate settlements, build log-houses, &c. The United States have furnished them with four yoke of oxen, one waggon, and other means of [Pg 140]cultivating the soil. They have succeeded in stealing a large number of horses and mules; own a very few hogs; no stock cattle. By a treaty formed with them in 1825, thirty-six sections, or 23,040 acres, of good land were to be selected and sold to educate Kauzaus children within their territory. But proper care not having been taken in making the selection, 9,000 acres only have been sold. The remaining 14,040 acres of the tract, it is said, will scarcely sell at any price, so utterly worthless is it. Hence only £2,250 have been realised from this munificent appropriation. By the same treaty, provision was made for the application of £120 per annum, to aid them in agriculture.[88]

The Kickapoo lands lie on the north of the Delawares; extend up the Missouri river thirty miles direct, thence westward about forty five miles, and thence south twenty miles to the Delaware line, embracing 768,000 acres.

They live on the south-eastern extremity {145} of their lands, near Cantonment Leavenworth.[89] In regard to civilization, their condition is similar to that of the Peorias. They are raising a surplus of the grains, &c. have cattle and hogs, £140 worth of the latter, and three hundred and forty head of the former from the United States, in obedience to treaty stipulations; have about thirty yoke of oxen, fourteen yoke of them purchased chiefly with the produce of their farms; have a saw and grist mill, erected by the United States. Nearly one-half of the tribe are unsettled and scattered, some in Texas, others with the southern tribes, and [Pg 141]still others ranging the mountains. The treaty of October 24th, 1832, provides that the United States shall pay £100 per annum for ten successive years, for the support of a school, purchase of books, &c. for the benefit of the Kickapoo tribe on their own lands. A schoolhouse and teacher have been furnished in conformity with this stipulation. The same treaty provides £200 for labour and improvements on the Kickapoo lands.[90]

The Sauks, and Reynards or Foxes, speak the same language, and are so perfectly consolidated by intermarriages and other ties of interest, as, in fact, to be one nation.[91]

[Pg 142]

{146} They formerly owned the north-western half of the State of Illinois, and a large part of the State of Missouri. No Indian tribe, except the Sioux, has shown such daring intrepidity, and such implacable hatred towards other tribes. Their enmity, when once excited, was never known to be appeased, till the arrow and tomahawk had for ever prostrated their foes. For centuries the prairies of Illinois and Iowa were the theatre of their exterminating prowess; and to them is to be attributed the almost entire destruction of the Missouris, the Illinois, Cahokias, Kaskaskias, and Peorias. They were, however, steady and sincere in their friendship to the whites; and many is the honest old settler on the borders of their old dominion, who mentions with the warmest feelings, the respectful treatment he has received from them, while he cut the logs for his cabin, and ploughed his "potato patch" on that lonely and unprotected frontier.

Like all the tribes, however, this also dwindles away at the approach of the whites. A melancholy fact. The Indians' bones must enrich the soil, before the plough of civilized man can open it. The noble heart, educated by the tempest to {147} endure the last pang of departing life without a cringe of a muscle; that heart educated by his condition to love with all the powers of being, and to hate with the exasperated malignity of a demon; that heart, educated by the voice of its own existence—the sweet whisperings of the streams—the holy flowers of spring-[Pg 143]to trust in, and adore the Great producing and sustaining Cause of itself, and the broad world and the lights of the upper skies, must fatten the corn hills of a more civilized race! The sturdy plant of the wilderness droops under the enervating culture of the garden. The Indian is buried with his arrows and bow.

In 1832 their friendly relations with their white neighbours were, I believe, for the first time, seriously interrupted. A treaty had been formed between the chiefs of the tribe and commissioners, representing the United States, containing, among other stipulations, the sale of their lands north of the Rock River, &c. in the State of Illinois. This tract of country contained the old villages and burial-places of the tribe. It was, indeed, the sanctuary of all that was venerable and sacred among them. They wintered and summered there long before the date of their historical legends. And on {148} these flowering plains the spoils of war—the loves of early years—every thing that delights man to remember of the past, clung closely to the tribe, and made them dissatisfied with the sale. Black-Hawk was the principal chief. He, too, was unwilling to leave his village in a charming glen, at the mouth of Rock River, and increased the dissatisfaction of his people by declaring that "the white chiefs had deceived himself and the other contracting chiefs" in this, "that he had never, and the other chiefs had never consented to such a sale as the white chiefs had written, and were attempting to enforce upon them." They dug up the painted tomahawk with great enthusiasm, and fought bravely by their noble old chief for their beautiful home. But, in the order of nature, the plough must bury the hunter. And so it was with this truly great chief and his brave tribe. They were driven over the Mississippi to make room for the marshalled host of veteran husbandmen, whose strong blows had levelled the forests of the Atlantic States; and[Pg 144] yet unwearied with planting the rose on the brow of the wilderness, demanded that the Prairies also should yield food to their hungry sickles.[92]

{149} The country assigned them as their permanent residence, adjoins the southern boundary of the Kickapoos, and on the north and north east the Missouri river. They are but little improved. Under treaty stipulations, they have some few houses and fields made for them by the United States, and are entitled to more. Some live stock has been given them, and more is to be furnished. The main body of the Sauks, usually denominated the Sauks and Foxes, estimated at four thousand six hundred souls, reside on the Iowa river, in Iowa Territory. They will ultimately be removed to unappropriated lands adjoining those already occupied by their kindred within the Indian Territory. Both these bands number twelve thousand four hundred. By the treaty of Prairie du Chien of 1830, the Sauks are entitled to £100 a year for the purposes of education. By treaty of September, 1836, they are entitled to a schoolmaster, a farmer, and blacksmith, as long as the United States shall deem proper. Three comfortable houses are to be erected for them, two hundred acres of prairie land fenced and ploughed, such agricultural implements furnished as they may need for five years, one ferry-boat, two hundred and {150} five head of cattle, one hundred stock hogs, and a flouring mill. These benefits they are receiving, but are making an improvident use of them.

The country of the Iowas contains one hundred and twenty-eight thousand acres adjoining the north eastern boundaries of the Sauks, with the Missouri river on the north east, and the great Nemaha river on the north. Their[Pg 145] condition is similar to that of the Sauks. The aid which they have received, and are to receive from the government, is about the same in proportion to their numbers. The villages of the Sauks and Iowas, are within two miles of each other.[93]

The Otoes are the descendants of the Missouris, with whom they united after the reduction of the latter tribe by the Sauks and Foxes. They claim a portion of land lying in the fork between Missouri and Great Platte rivers. The government of the United States understand, however, that their lands extend southward from the Platte down the Missouri to Little Nemaha river, a distance of about forty miles; thence their southern boundary extends westward up Little Nemaha to its source, and thence due west. Their western and northern boundaries are not particularly {151} defined. Their southern boundary is about twenty-five miles north of the Iowa's land.[94]

By treaty, such of their tribe as are related to the whites, have an interest in a tract adjoining the Missouri river, and extending from the Little Nemaha to the Great Nemaha, a length of about twenty-eight miles, and ten miles wide. No Indians reside on this tract.

The condition of this people is similar to that of the Osages and Kauzaus. The United States Government [Pg 146]has fenced and ploughed for them one hundred and thirty acres of land. In 1838, they cultivated three hundred acres of corn. They own six ploughs, furnished by Government. Their progenitors, the Missouris, were, when the French first knew the country, the most numerous tribe in the vicinity of Saint Louis; and the great stream, on whose banks they reside, and the State which has risen upon their hunting grounds when the race is extinct, will bear their name to the generations of coming time. They are said to have been an energetic and thrifty race before they were visited by the small-pox, and the destroying vengeance of the Sauks and Foxes. The site of their ancient village is to be seen on the north bank of the {152} river, honoured with their name, just below where Grand river now enters it.[95] Their territory embraced the fertile country lying a considerable distance along the Missouri, above their village—and down to the mouth of the Osage, and thence to the Mississippi. The Osages consider them their inferiors, and treat them oftentimes with great indignity.

The Omahas own the country north of the mouth of the Great Platte. The Missouri river is considered its north-eastern limit; the northern and western boundaries are undefined. This tribe was formerly the terror of their neighbours. They had, in early times, about one thousand warriors, and a proportionate number of women and children. But the small-pox visited them in 1802, and reduced the tribe to about three hundred souls. This so disheartened those who survived, that they burnt their village and became a wandering people. They have at last taken possession[Pg 147] again of their country, and built a village on the south-west bank of the Missouri, at a place chosen for them by the United States. Their huts are constructed of earth, like those of the Otoes. A treaty made with them in July, 1830, provides that an annuity of five hundred {153} dollars shall be paid to them in agricultural implements, for ten years thereafter, and longer if the President of the United States thinks proper. A blacksmith also, is to be furnished them for the same length of time. Another treaty obliges the United States to plough and fence one hundred acres of land for them, and to expend, for the term of ten years, £100 annually, in educating Omaha children.[96]

The Puncahs, or Ponsars, are the remnant of a nation of respectable importance, formerly living upon Red river, of Lake Winnipeg. Having been nearly destroyed by the Sioux, they removed to the west side of the Missouri river, where they built a fortified village, and remained some years; but being pursued by their ancient enemies, the Sioux, and reduced by continual wars, they joined the Omahas, and so far lost their original character as to be undistinguished from them. They, however, after a while, resumed a separate existence, which they continue to maintain. They reside in the northern extremity of the Indian Territory.[97] Their circumstances are similar to those of the Pawnees.

[Pg 148]

The Pawnees own an extensive country lying west of the Otoes and Omahas, on {154} the Great Platte river. Their villages are upon this stream and its lower tributaries. They are said to have about two thousand five hundred warriors. Among them are still to be found every custom of old Indian life. The earth-hut, the scalping-knife, the tomahawk, and the scalps of their foes dangling from the posts in their smoky dwellings, the wild war cries, the venerated medicine bag, with the calumet of peace, the sacred wampum that records their treaties, the feasts and dances of peace and of war, those of marriage and of sacrifice, the moccasins, and leggings and war-caps, and horrid paintings; the moons of the year, as March, the 'worm moon,' April, the 'moon of plants,' May, the 'moon of flowers,' June, the 'hot moon,' July, the 'buck moon,' August, the 'sturgeon moon,' September, the 'corn moon,' October, the travelling moon,' November, the 'beaver moon,' December, the 'hunting moon,' January, the 'cold moon,' February, the 'snow moon,' and in reference to its phases, the "dead moon" and "live moon;" and days are counted by "sleeps," and their years by "snows." In a word, the Pawnees are as yet unchanged by the enlightening influences of knowledge and {155} religion. The philanthropy of the United States Government, however, is putting within their reach every inducement to improvement. By treaty, £400 worth of agricultural implements is to be furnished them annually for the term of five years, or longer, at the discretion of the President of the United States; also, £200 worth of live stock whenever the President shall believe them prepared to profit thereby; also, £400 annually are to be expended to support two smitheries, with two smiths in each, for supplying iron, steel, &c., for the term of ten years; also four grist mills, propelled by horse power; also four farmers during the term of five years. Also the sum of £200 annually, for[Pg 149] ten years, is to be allowed for the support of schools among them.[98]

These are the emigrant and native Indians within the "Indian Territory," and their several conditions and circumstances, so far as I have been able to learn them. The other Indians in the Great Prairie Wilderness will be briefly noticed under two divisions—those living south, and those living north of the Great Platte river.

There are living on the head waters of Red river, and between that river and the {156} Rio Bravo del Norte, the remains of twelve different tribes—ten of which have an average population of two hundred souls; none of them number more than four hundred. The Carankouas and Tetaus, or Cumanches, are more numerous. The former live about the Bay of St. Bernard. They were always inimical to the Mexicans and Spaniards; never would succumb to their authority, or receive their religious teachers. And many hard battles were fought in maintaining their independence in these respects. In 1817, they amounted to about three thousand, of which six hundred were warriors.[99]

The Cumanches are supposed to be twenty thousand [Pg 150]strong. They are a brave vagrant tribe, and never reside but a few days in a place, but travel north with the buffalo in the summer, and, as winter comes on, return with them to the plains west of Texas. They traverse the immense space of country extending from the Trinity and Brazos to the Red River, and the head waters of the Arkansas, and Colorado to the west, to the Pacific Ocean, and thence to the head streams of the Missouri, and thence to their winter haunts. They have tents made of neatly dressed skins, in the form of cones. These, when they stop, are pitched so as to {157} form streets and squares. They pitch and strike these tents in an astonishingly short space of time. To every tent is attached two pack-horses, the one to carry the tent, and the other the polished cedar poles with which it is spread. These loaded in a trice—the saddle horses harnessed in still less time—twenty thousand savages—men, women, and children, warriors and chiefs—start at a signal whoop, travel the day, again raise their city of tents to rest and feed themselves and animals for another march.[100]

Thus passes life with the Cumanches. Their plains are covered with buffalo, elk, deer, and wild horses. It is said that they drink the blood of the buffalo warm from the veins.

[Pg 151]

They also eat the liver in its raw state, using the gall as sauce. The dress of the women is a long loose robe which reaches from the chin to the ground, made of deer skin dressed very neatly, and painted with figures of different colours and significations. The dress of the men is close pantaloons, and a hunting shirt or frock made of the same beautiful material. They are a warlike and brave race, and stand in the relation of conquerors among the tribes in the south. The Spaniards of New Mexico {158} are all acquainted with the strength of their enemy, and their power to punish those whom they hate. For many are the scalps and death-dances among these Indians, which testify of wars and tomahawks which have dug tombs for that poor apology of European extraction. They are exceedingly fond of stealing the objects of their enemies' affection. Female children are sought with the greatest avidity, and adopted or married. "About sixty years ago," as the tale runs, "the daughter of the Governor-General at Chilhuahua, was stolen by them. The father immediately pursued, and by an agent, after some weeks had elapsed, purchased her ransom. But she refused to return to her parents, and sent them these words: 'That the Indians had tattooed her face according to their style of beauty—had given her to be the wife of a young man by whom she believed herself enceinte—that her husband treated her well, and reconciled her to his mode of life—that she would be made more unhappy by returning to her father under these circumstances, than by remaining where she was.' She continued to live with her husband in the nation, and raised a family of children."

{159} There are the remains of fifteen or twenty tribes in that part of the Great Prairie Wilderness north of the Great Platte, and north and west of the Indian Territory. They average about eight hundred each. The Sioux and the small-pox have reduced them thus.

[Pg 152]

The Knistineaux chiefly reside in the British possessions along the northern shores of Lake Superior. Some bands of them have established themselves south of latitude 49° north, near the head waters of these branches of Red River of Lake Winnipeg, which rise south of the sources of the Mississippi. They are moderate in stature, well proportioned, and of great activity. Mackenzie remarks that their countenances are frank and agreeable, that the females are well-formed, and their features are more regular and comely than those of any other tribe he saw upon the continent. They are warlike—number about three thousand; but the Sioux are annihilating them.[101]

The Sioux claim a country equal in extent to some of the most powerful empires of Europe. Their boundaries "commence at the Prairie du Chien, and ascend the Mississippi on both sides to the River De {160} Corbeau, and up that to its source, from thence to the sources of the St. Peter's, thence to the 'Montaigne de la Prairie,' thence to the Missouri, and down that river to the Omahas, thence to the sources of the River Des Moines, and thence to the place of beginning." They also claim a large territory south of the Missouri.[102]

[Pg 153]

The country from Rum River[103] to the River de Corbeau is claimed by them and the Chippeways, and has been the source of many bloody encounters for the past two hundred years. These Indians have conquered and destroyed immense numbers of their race. They have swept the banks of the Missouri from the Great Falls to the mouth of the Great Platte and the plains that lie north of the latter stream, between the Black Hills and the Mississippi. They are divided into six bands, viz.: the Menowa Kontong, which resides around the falls of St. Anthony, and the lower portion of St. Peter's River; the Washpetong, still higher on that stream; the Sussetong, on its head waters and those of Red River, of Lake Winnipeg; the Yanktons of the north, who rove over the plains on the borders of the Missouri valley south of the sources of the St. Peter's; the Yonktons Ahnah, who {161} live on the Missouri near the entrance of James River; the Tetons Brulos; Tetons Okandandas; Tetons Minnekincazzo, and Tetons Sahone, who reside along the banks of the Missouri from the Great Bend northward to the villages of the Riccarees.[104] Theirs is the country from which is derived the colouring matter of that river. The plains are strongly impregnated with Glauber salts, alum, copperas, and sulphur. In the spring of the year immense bluffs fall in the stream; and these, together with the leachings from these medicated prairies, give to the waters their mud colour, and purgative qualities.

[Pg 154]

These bands comprise about twenty-eight thousand souls. They subsist upon buffalo meat, and the wild fruits of their forests. The former is prepared for winter, and for travelling use, in the following manner:—The lean parts of the buffalo are cut into thin slices, dried over a slow fire, in the sun, or by exposing it to frost—pounded fine, and then, with a portion of berries, mixed with an equal quantity of fat from the humps and brisket, or with marrow, in a boiling state, and sewed up tightly in sacks of green hide, or packed closely in baskets of wicker work. This "pemican," as they call it, will keep {162} for several years. They also use much of the wild rice, avena fatua, which grows in great abundance on the St. Peter's, and among the lakes and head streams of Red River, of Winnipeg, and in other parts of their territory. It grows in water from four to seven feet deep with a muddy bottom. The plant rises from four to eight feet above the surface of the water, about the size of the red cane of Tennessee, full of joints, and of the colour and texture of bull-rushes: the stalks above the water, and the branches which bear the grain, resemble oats.[105]

To these strange grain fields the wild duck and geese resort for food in the summer. And to prevent it from being devoured by them, the Indians tie it, when the kernel is in the milky state, just below the head, into large bunches. This arrangement prevents these birds from pressing the heads down within their reach. When ripe, the Indians pass among it with canoes lined with blankets, into which they bend the stalks, and whip off the grain with sticks; and so abundant is it, that an expert squaw will soon fill a canoe. After being gathered, it is dried and put into[Pg 155] skins or baskets for use. They boil or parch it, and eat it in the winter season {163} with their pemican. This plant is found no farther south than Illinois, no farther east than Sandusky Bay, and north nearly to Hudson's Bay. The rivers and lakes of the Sioux and Chippeway country are said to produce annually several million bushels of it. It is equally as nutritious and palatable as the Carolina rice. Carver also says that the St. Peter's flows through a country producing spontaneously all the necessaries of life in the greatest abundance. Besides the wild rice, he informs us that every part of the valley of that river "is filled with trees bending under their loads of plums, grapes, and apples; the meadows with hops, and many sorts of vegetables, while the ground is stored with edible roots, and covered with such amazing quantities of sugar-maple, that they would produce sugar enough for any number of inhabitants."[106]

Mr. Carver seems to have been, to say the least, rather an enthusiastic admirer of nature; and although later travellers in the country of the Naudowessies (Sioux) have not been able to find grouped within it all the fruits and flowers of an Eden, yet that their lands lying on the Mississippi, the St. Peter's, and the Red Rivers, produce a luxurious vegetation, groves of fine timber separated {164} by open plains of the rich wild grasses, and by lakes and streams of pure water well stored with fish; that there are many valuable edible roots there: and the whortleberry, blackberry, wild plum and crab-apple, other and later travellers have seen and declared; so that no doubt can be entertained that this talented and victorious tribe possess a very desirable[Pg 156] and beautiful country. A revolted band of the Sioux called Osinipoilles, live near the Rocky Mountains upon the Sascatchiwine river, a pleasant champaign country, abounding in game. They subsist by the chase, and the spoils of war. Their number is estimated to be eight thousand. Their dwellings are neat conical tents of tanned buffalo skins.[107]

The Chippewyans or Chippeways, were supposed by Lewis and Clark to inhabit the country lying between the 60th and 65th parallels of north latitude, and 100° and 110° of west longitude.[108] Other authorities, and I believe more correct, assert that they also occupy the head waters of the Mississippi, Ottertail, and Leach, De Corbeau and Red rivers, and Winnipeg lake. They are a numerous tribe, speak a copious language, are timorous, vagrant, and selfish; stature rather low; features coarse; hair {165} lank, and not unfrequently a sunburnt brown; women more agreeable (and who can doubt the fact) than the men; but [Pg 157]have an awkward gait; which proceeds from their being accustomed, nine months in the year, to wear snow shoes, and drag sledges of a weight from two hundred to four hundred pounds. They are entirely submissive to their husbands; and for very trifling causes are treated with such cruelty as to produce death! These people betroth their children when quite young; and when they arrive at puberty the ceremony of marriage is performed; that is, the bridegroom pays the market price for his bride, and takes her to his lodge, not "for better or for worse," but to put her away and take another when he pleases. Plurality of wives is customary among them. They generally wear the hair long. The braves sometimes clip it in fantastic forms. The women always wear it of great length, braided in two queues, and dangling down the back. Jealous husbands sometimes despoil them of these tresses. Both sexes make from one to four bars of lines upon the forehead or cheeks, by drawing a thread dipped in the proper colour beneath the skin of those parts.

{166} No people are more attentive to comfort in dress than the Chippeways. It is composed of deer and fawn skins, dressed with the hair on, for the winter, and without the hair for the summer wear. The male wardrobe consists of shoes, leggings, frock and cap, &c. The shoes are made in the usual moccasin form, save that they sometimes use the green instead of the tanned hide. The leggings are made like the legs of pantaloons unconnected by a waistband. They reach to the waist; and are supported by a belt. Under the belt a small piece of leather is drawn, which serves as an apron before and behind. The shoes and leggings are sewed together. In the former are put quantities of moose and reindeer hair; and additional pieces of leather as socks. The frock or hunting shirt is in the form of a peasant's frock. When girded around the[Pg 158] waist it reaches to the middle of the thigh. The mittens are sewed to the sleeves, or suspended by strings from the shoulders. A kind of tippet surrounds the neck. The skin of the deer's head furnishes a curious covering to the head; and a robe made of several deer or fawn skins sewed together, covers the whole. This dress is worn single or double, as circumstances suggest; but in {167} winter the hair side of the undersuit is worn next the person, and that of the outer one without. Thus arrayed, the Chippeway will lay himself down on the ice, in the middle of a lake, and repose in comfort; and when rested, and disencumbered of the snow-drifts which have covered him while asleep, he mounts his snow shoes, and travels on without fear of frosts or storm. The dress of the women differs from that of the men. Their leggings are tied below the knee; and their frock or chemise extends down to the ankle. Mothers make these garments large enough about the shoulders to hold an infant; and when travelling carry their little ones upon their backs next the skin.

Their arms and domestic apparatus, in addition to guns, &c., obtained from the whites, are bows and arrows, fishing-nets, and lines made of green deer-skin thongs, and nets of the same material for catching the beaver, as he escapes from his lodge into the water; and sledges and snow-shoes. The snow-shoes are of very superior workmanship. The inner part of the frame is straight; the outer one curved; the ends are brought to a point, and in front turned up. This frame done, they are neatly placed {168} with light thongs of deer-skin. Their sledges are made of red fir-tree boards, neatly polished and turned up in front. The means of sustaining life in the country claimed by these Indians are abundant; and if sufficient forethought were used in laying in food for winter, they might live in comparative comfort. The woodless hills are covered with a moss that sustains the[Pg 159] deer and moose and reindeer; and when boiled, forms a gelatinous substance very acceptable to the human palate.[109] Their streams and lakes are stored with the greatest abundance of valuable fish. But although more provident than any other Indians on the continent, they often suffer severely in the dead of winter, when, to prevent death from cold, they fly from their fishing stations to their scanty woods.

They are superstitious in the extreme. Almost every action of their lives is influenced by some whimsical notion. They believe in the existence of a good and evil spirit, that rule in their several departments over the fortunes of men; and in a state of future rewards and punishments. They have an order of priests who administer the rites of their religion—offer sacrifices at their solemn feasts, &c.[110] They have conjurors {169} who cure diseases—as rheumatism, flux and consumption.

"The notion which these people entertain of the creation is of a very singular nature. They believe that at first the earth was one vast and entire ocean, inhabited by no living creature except a mighty Bird, whose eyes were fire, whose glances were lightning, and the flapping of whose wings was thunder. On his descent to the ocean, and touching it, the earth instantly arose, and remained on the surface of the waters. This omnipotent Bird then called forth all the variety of animals from the earth except the Chippeways, who were produced from a dog. And this circumstance occasions their aversion to the flesh of that animal, as well as the people who eat it. This extraordinary tradition proceeds to relate that the great Bird, having finished his work, made an arrow, which was to be preserved with great care and to remain untouched; but that the Chippeways [Pg 160]were so devoid of understanding as to carry it away; and the sacrilege so enraged the great Bird that he has never since appeared."

"They have also a tradition among them that they originally came from another {170} country, inhabited by very wicked people, and had traversed a great lake, which was narrow, shallow and full of islands, where they had suffered great misery—it being always winter, with ice and deep snow. At the Coppermine River, where they had made the first land, the ground was covered with copper, over which a body of earth had since been collected to the depth of a man's height. They believe, also, that in ancient times their ancestors lived till their feet were worn out with walking, and their throats with eating. They describe a deluge when the waters spread over the whole earth, except the highest mountains, on the top of which they preserved themselves. They believe that immediately after their death they pass into another world, where they arrive at a large river, on which they embark in a stone canoe; and that a gentle current bears them on to an extensive lake, in the centre of which is a most beautiful island; and that in view of this delightful abode they receive that judgement for their conduct during life, which determines their final state and unalterable allotment. If their good actions are declared to predominate, they are landed upon the island, where there is to be no {171} end to their happiness; which, however, to their notion, consists in an eternal enjoyment of sensual pleasure and carnal gratification. But if there be bad actions to weigh down the balance, the stone canoe sinks at once, and leaves them up to their chins in water, to behold and regret the reward enjoyed by the good, and eternally struggling, but with unavailing endeavours, to reach the blissful island from which they are excluded for ever."

It would be interesting, in closing this notice of the Great Prairie wilderness, to give an account of the devoted Missionaries of the various denominations who are labouring to cultivate the Indian in a manner which at once bespeaks their good sense and honest intentions. But, as it would require more space and time than can be devoted to it, merely to present a skeleton view of their multifarious doings, I shall only remark, in passing, that they appear to have adopted, in their plan of operations, the principle that to civilize these people, one of the first steps is to create and gratify those physical wants peculiar to the civilized state; and also, that the most successful means of civilizing their mental state, is to teach them a language which is {172} filled with the learning, sciences, and the religion which has civilized Europe, that they may enter at once, and with the fullest vigour into the immense harvests of knowledge and virtue which past ages and superior races have prepared for them.


[51] See on this subject our volume xvi, p. 174, note 81.—Ed.

[52] Farnham is quoting from the Biddle (1814) edition of the journals of Lewis and Clark. Consult R. G. Thwaites, Original Journals of the Lewis and Clark Expedition (New York, 1903-05), ii, pp. 159-339.—Ed.

[53] For the sources of North Platte see James's Long's Expedition, our volume xv, pp. 234-236, with accompanying note.—Ed.

[54] Long's expedition of 1819-20 followed the South Platte nearly to its source. See our volume xv, pp. 241-305, especially p. 292, note 141. James's Peak was the name bestowed by Long upon what is now known as Pike's Peak, because Dr. Edwin James was the first to make the ascent. Frémont restored the name of Pike in 1843. See our volume xvi, pp. 11-36, especially note 15.—Ed.

[55] For the first wagons on the Oregon Trail see De Smet's Letters, in our volume xxvii, p. 243, note 116. The Whitman party in 1836 succeeded in conveying wagons as far as Fort Boise, on Lewis River. There is no record that wagons had gone through to Walla Walla at the time of Farnham's journey.—Ed.

[56] This is a good brief description of the Oregon Trail as far as Fort Hall. See our volume xxi, Wyeth's Oregon, pp. 52, 53, and notes 32-34; also Townsend's Narrative, pp. 187-211, notes 36, 43, 44, 45, 51.—Ed.

[57] This description regarding the California route shows the indefiniteness of the knowledge then current. No one is known to have passed this way save Jedediah S. Smith (1827) and Joseph Walker, sent by Captain Bonneville (1833). When Bidwell and Bartleson went out in 1841, they found no one who could give them detailed information of the route from Fort Hall to California, and they stumbled through the wilderness in great confusion. See John Bidwell, "First Emigrant Train to California," in Century Magazine, xix (new series), pp. 106-129. Mary River is that now known as the Humboldt, which rises a hundred miles west of Great Salt Lake and after a course of nearly three hundred miles west and south-west flows into Humboldt Lake or Sink. This river was originally named Ogden for Peter Skeen Ogden, a Hudson Bay factor, whose Indian wife was known as Mary. The name Humboldt was assigned by Lieutenant Frémont (1845), who does not appear to have connected it with Mary River, which he sought the preceding year. This explorer also proved (1844) that the San Joaquin and other affluents of San Francisco Bay do not "form a natural and easy passage" through the California or Sierra Nevada Mountains.—Ed.

[58] By the "Great Gap" Farnham intends South Pass, for which see Wyeth's Oregon in our volume xxi, p. 58, note 37.—Ed.

[59] For this obstruction, and the clearing of it, see our volume xvii, p. 70, note 64.—Ed.

[60] For this river see Pattie's Personal Narrative in our volume xviii, p. 75, note 45.—Ed.

[61] For a brief biography of Zebulon M. Pike, see our volume viii, p. 280, note 122. The journals of his expedition have been edited by Elliott Coues, Expeditions of Zebulon M. Pike (New York, 1895).—Ed.

[62] Anahuac was a native Mexican word originally applied to the low coastal lands, but gradually transferred to the great central plateau of Mexico, with its mountainous ranges. Farnham considers the Rocky Mountain range south of South Pass an integral part of this Mexican system, as it was in his time under the Mexican government.

The Grand Saline branch of the Arkansas is probably intended for the Negracka, now called Salt Fork. See our volume xvi, p. 243, note 114.—Ed.

[63] This estimate of population would seem to be fair. Compare Gregg's tables in our volume xx, pp. 317-341, notes 204-215, compiled from the report of the Indian commissioner in 1844.—Ed.

[64] Ponca (Punca) Creek, which in 1837 formed the northern boundary of what was known as "Indian Territory." See our volume xxii, p. 291, note 253.—Ed.

[65] This is a gratuitous remark. The conduct of the British Government will compare most favourably with that of the United States. The English have not thought of hunting Indians with blood-hounds.—English Ed.

[66] See on this subject Gregg's Commerce of the Prairies, in our volume xx, p. 300, note 191.—Ed.

[67] See our volume xx, pp. 308-315, with accompanying notes.—Ed.

[68] This plan for a general federation of the tribes west of the Mississippi was popular in 1836-37. Rev. Isaac McCoy was appointed agent and detailed to approach the tribes with explanations. He chose the site for a central government as here described by Farnham. See 25 Cong., 2 sess., Senate Docs., i, pp. 579-584. The following year a change in the administration of the commissionership of Indian affairs brought about a reversal of policy. The difficulties were enlarged upon, and the reluctance of the more civilized tribes made an excuse for dropping the project.—Ed.

[69] That is, the one hundredth meridian of west longitude.—Ed.

[70] This constitution was adopted in 1838; later it was amended, and brought more into harmony with the Cherokee constitution, which was modelled upon that of Mississippi. The modified document provided for a single executive, called the principal chief, elected for two years, and ineligible for more than four years in six; two houses of legislature; courts of judiciary, etc. After the War of Secession this constitution was further amended, slavery being then abolished. In 1897 the Choctaw entered into the Atoka agreement with the commission to the Five Civilized Tribes, whereby the judicial functions of their tribal government have passed to the United States courts erected in the territory. Tribal government itself was to have ceased March 6, 1906; at that time, all lands being allotted, it was expected that the Choctaw became full-fledged American citizens. But owing to complications involved in settling the estates, an act of postponement was passed by Congress in the spring of that year, providing that "tribal existence and present tribal governments are continued in full force until otherwise provided by law." See article, "The End of the Civilized Tribes," in The Independent (New York, 1906), lx, pp. 1110, 1111.—Ed.

[71] On the Chickasaw see our volume xx, p. 310, note 199. The Chickasaw were embraced in the Atoka agreement (see preceding note), and the allotment of their lands is about completed. As in succeeding paragraphs Farnham has here changed the sums originally indicated in American currency to their corresponding equivalents in English money.—Ed.

[72] On the subject of education and the Choctaw Academy see our volume xx, p. 306, with accompanying notes.—Ed.

[73] This is an accurate description of the present boundary of the Cherokee Nation, but "state of Kansas" should be read for "Osage lands."—Ed.

[74] Compare a similar description by Gregg in our volume xx, p. 306.—Ed.

[75] In 1856 the Creeks ceded part of the western portion of their strip to the Seminole; and again in 1866, both Creeks and Seminole ceded to the United States a portion of their western territory, which makes a large part of the present Oklahoma. The Creek western boundary is, therefore, a trifle east of 97°.—Ed.

[76] The Creek confederacy was divided into two parts, known as Upper and Lower Creeks. The former were the chief aggressors in the Creek War of 1813, which was in fact largely a civil outbreak. General William McIntosh, halfbreed son of Roderick McIntosh, a Highland emigrant to West Florida, was an influential chief of the Lower Creeks and loyal to the Americans. He led the party favoring removal to Indian Territory, and signed the treaty of Indian Springs (1825) whereupon he was put to death by the band opposed to emigration. His sons Chilly and Rolly McIntosh became leaders of the emigration party and removed west of the Mississippi (1826-27). One of the chiefs of the Eastern band was Little Doctor, who volunteered to aid the United States in the Seminole War (1835-42). He came west with his band about 1836. It was not until 1867 that the two factions united under a written constitution and a republican form of government.—Ed.

[77] The Seminole who made their home in Florida, were a branch of the Creeks. After the Creek War (1813-14) the majority of the hostiles made their way to the Seminole. When attempt was made to remove these tribesmen to Indian Territory (1832-34), they resisted sharply and finally war broke out which was prolonged until 1842. As various bands surrendered to the United States or were captured, they were sent out to the territory, so that by 1839 (the year of Farnham's journey) there were nineteen hundred Seminole among the Creeks. In 1856 they attempted autonomy, and with the consent of the United States bought 200,000 acres of Creek land; two years later the remainder of the band from Florida, under their chief Bowlegs, came out and joined their tribe. In 1881-82 they added 175,000 acres to their tract.—Ed.

[78] The majority of the Seneca refused to leave New York State—see our volume viii, p. 183, note 41; and volume xxiv, p. 163, note 176. The mixed bands in Kansas were removed to Indian Territory in 1867, and located on the Quapaw Agency. They are now citizens, having lands allotted in severalty (about 1889) in the north-eastern part of Indian Territory.—Ed.

[79] On the Osage see our volume v, p. 50, note 22. Their Kansas lands having become very valuable, in 1865 they made a treaty ceding them to the United States, and removed to Indian Territory. Their reservation is now in north-east Oklahoma. They are the richest tribe in the United States, and for that reason somewhat unprogressive.—Ed.

[80] For the Quapaw see our volume xiii, p. 117, note 84.—Ed.

[81] For the early history of the Potawatomi see our volume i, p. 115, note 84; xxvii, p. 153, note 23 (De Smet). In 1837 a large tract was marked out for this tribe in south-west Miami County, Kansas, where they settled for ten years, and made improvements, but they were again removed (1847) to a reservation in north-east Kansas, where in 1850 they were joined by a large accession from Michigan. In 1861 a part of their lands was allotted, and a reservation in Jackson County secured, whereon about six hundred still live. The Mission band removed to Indian Territory, and are now over sixteen hundred in number, citizens of Oklahoma. A few of the tribe yet remain in Michigan.—Ed.

[82] For the early history of the Piankeshaw and Wea (Ouiatanon) Indians see Croghan's Journals in our volume i, pp. 117, 142, notes 85 and 115 respectively. They ceded their Indiana lands by 1818, and removed first to the vicinity of Ste. Geneviève, Missouri, until in 1832 they emigrated to the present Miami County, Kansas. In 1854 the greater part of their reservation was ceded to the United States, and in 1867 they removed to the Quapaw Reserve, where a remnant still live on allotted lands.

The Peoria and Kaskaskia were Illinois, not Miami bands—see our volume xxvi, pp. 97, 106, notes 63 and 71 respectively. When they removed from Illinois (1818) they confederated with the Piankeshaw and Wea, with whom they have since been associated. In 1904 their population was reported as about two hundred.—Ed.

[83] For the early habitat of the Ottawa see our volume i, p. 76, note 37. The band that removed west were a part of the Detroit Ottawa who had lived on Maumee River, Ohio, contiguous with the Miami and Potawatomi. By a treaty of 1831 they agreed to remove to the Kansas region, and emigration thither was completed about 1836. Their reservation grew valuable and in 1867 the Ottawa made a treaty with the federal government whereby in five years their lands were to be allotted, and the residue sold. Finding their position uncomfortable, they petitioned for a reservation and the remnant of the tribe removed to that of the Quapaw, in Indian Territory, where about two hundred now live on recently allotted lands. There is no evidence that any considerable number of Michigan Ottawa ever migrated to Kansas.—Ed.

[84] For the early history of the Shawnee see our volume i, p. 23, note 13. In 1793 one portion of this tribe emigrated, together with a band of Delaware, to the west of the Mississippi, where they dwelt on a Spanish grant near Cape Girardeau. In 1825 they relinquished this grant for the Kansas reservation described by Farnham, where they were joined (1832-33) by the remainder of the tribe from Ohio. In 1854 they ceded their lands to the federal government, save a reservation of 200,000 acres, where they established a form of government and made a body of laws. In 1869 about the half of the tribe bought lands of the Cherokee, and became incorporated with the latter tribe. A small band known as Eastern Shawnee are on the Quapaw reservation, while the remainder have been allotted lands in Oklahoma, near the town of Shawnee. Methodists, Baptists, and Friends all established missions for the Shawnee—see our volume xxvii, p. 194, note 72 (De Smet), for the first-named denomination. The Baptist mission, begun in 1831, had a printing press (1834) whereupon Rev. Jotham Meeker printed several books after a phonographic system that he had adapted to their language.—Ed.

[85] For the early history of the Delaware see our volume xxii, p. 96, note 37. Before the Louisiana Purchase (1803) several bands had gone west of the Mississippi. In 1818 they ceded all their lands in the East, and migrated to Missouri, where they lived upon James Fork of White River, near the present Springfield. In 1829 they were given a large cession between the Kansas and Missouri rivers, which they possessed until 1854. After the treaty of cession in that year, they preserved a considerable reservation, which was sold (1866) to the Union Pacific Railway Company, whereupon they bought land of the Cherokee, and became incorporated into the latter tribe, although in certain relations maintaining autonomy. The band that removed farther west (1829) are still among the Wichita, at Kiowa Agency. At the close of Wayne's campaign (1794-95), a considerable portion of the tribe removed to Canada, in company with the Moravian missionaries.—Ed.

[86] See descriptions of the Kansa villages in our volume xxi, pp. 48, 49, 145-148.—Ed.

[87] See our volume xiv, pp. 188-209, also the cut of the interior of a Kansa lodge, p. 208.—Ed.

[88] The Missouri Methodists maintained a mission among the Kansa for several years succeeding 1830. The tribe became, however, much addicted to intemperance, and is now reduced to somewhat under two hundred. They are, however, wealthy, their allotment being 406 acres of land per capita, besides interest from their fund.—Ed.

[89] For Cantonment or Fort Leavenworth see our volume xxii, p. 253, note 204.—Ed.

[90] The early history of the Kickapoo is sketched in our volume i, p. 139, note 111. By the treaty of 1819 they ceded all their lands east of the Mississippi for a tract in Missouri, south of the Osage River, which in turn was exchanged (1832) for the tract described by Farnham; see our volume xxii, p. 254, note 206. This was ceded in 1854, save a reservation of a hundred and fifty thousand acres in Brown County, Kansas. The Kickapoo have always been wanderers; about 1832 a large band emigrated to Texas, later to Mexico, and have since been known as Mexican Kickapoo. About half of these were brought back, their descendants now living in Oklahoma, near the Shawnee.—Ed.

[91] For the early history of the Sauk and Foxes, see our volume ii, p. 185, note 85; or more particularly, Wisconsin Historical Collections, xvi, xvii. About the beginning of the nineteenth century they were located on both banks of the Mississippi, from the mouth of the Wisconsin down to the mouth of the Missouri. By the treaty of 1804 a large amount of land was ceded to the United States, but the cession was repudiated by many of the tribe; during the War of 1812-15, these protestants were among the hostiles. Treaties of peace (1815 and 1816) were concluded with the two divisions of the tribe—the Missouri and Rock River bands respectively. By the treaties of 1824, 1830, and 1836, the former relinquished all their Missouri territory for a reservation in Kansas and Nebraska, north of the Kickapoo; see Townsend's Narrative in our volume xxi, p. 122, note 2. This was largely reduced by the treaty of 1861; so that there is now but a small reservation in northern Brown County, Kansas, where about eighty of the Missouri band still live and maintain a day school. The Rock River band divided into two factions, under Keokuk and Black Hawk. The latter waged war with the United States in 1832 (see Thwaites, "Black Hawk War," in How George Rogers Clark won the North-west, pp. 115-198), after which a large cession of lands was made. These the tribesmen attempted to recover (1836), but by 1842 they had ceded all their Iowa lands. Migration had already begun (1840) to Kansas, where they settled upon Marais des Cygnes, in Osage County, the last Foxes removing thither in 1847. Here the confederacy between the allied tribes, after existing for over a hundred years, began to dissolve. The Sauk largely removed to Indian Territory, and in 1904 four hundred and ninety-one were dwelling upon allotted lands in Oklahoma. The Foxes had begun in 1853 to return to Iowa in small bands. Ingratiating themselves with the settlers, they purchased lands on Iowa River, in Tama County; but not until 1867 did the federal government recognize these as their legal residence. There are now about three hundred and fifty in this locality, somewhat progressive—owning wagons, sewing-machines, typewriters, etc.—but still clinging to traditional customs, probably the most conservative of all tribesmen who have been so long in contact with the whites. See "Last of the Musquakes," in Iowa Historical Record, xvii, pp. 307-320.—Ed.

[92] For Black Hawk and the uprising of his band see Townsend's Narrative in our volume xxi, p. 123, note 3; also Maximilian's Travels in our volume xxii, pp. 217, 225, 228, with notes 127, 147, 151.—Ed.

[93] For the Iowa see Brackenridge's Journal in our volume vi, p. 51, note 13. They were closely associated with the Sauk and Foxes, and in 1836 ceded all their Iowa lands and removed to Kansas, where their reservation adjoined that of the former. In 1854 and 1861 they ceded most of their new reservation, a small band removing to Oklahoma with the Sauk, the majority still residing in Doniphan County, Kansas, where two hundred and twenty were reported in 1904. They have a large preponderance of white blood, and now desire full citizenship.—Ed.

[94] See on the Oto, our volume v, p. 74, note 42. This tribe several times changed their village site. First upon the Platte, in the time of Lewis and Clark (1804), they removed to the site of Omaha, whence they had before 1819 returned to the Platte. They finally settled on the site of Nebraska City, where they remained until 1854, when they retired to their reservation on the south-eastern border of Nebraska. Thence they migrated to Indian Territory. Their reservation there was abolished in 1904, and made part of Pawnee and Noble counties, Oklahoma, wherein the Oto now dwell on their allotments. They have a good Indian school, and are reported bright and intelligent.—Ed.

[95] See our volume v, p. 56, note 26, for the site of this village.—Ed.

[96] For the Omaha see our volume v, p. 86, note 49. Recent reports show that the trust period will soon be ended, when they will become full-fledged citizens. The system of leasing lands has been somewhat demoralizing, enabling them while idle to live in comfort.—Ed.

[97] For the Ponca see our volume v, p. 96, note 63. Their migrations have been carefully traced by J. O. Dorsey, "Omaha Sociology," in U. S. Bureau of Ethnology Report, 1881-82, pp. 211-213. He does not find that they advanced as far as the Red River of the North—Pipestone, Minnesota, was the northern limit of their wanderings. On their Nebraska history and their harrying by the Sioux, see J. A. Barnett, "Poncas," in Nebraska Historical Society Proceedings and Collections, 2nd series, ii, pp. 11-25.—Ed.

[98] For the Pawnee see our volumes vi, p. 61, note 17; and xiv, p. 233, note 179. A visit to their villages is related in our volume xv, pp. 143-165. The treaty here described was drawn up at the Pawnee village in 1833 by Commissioner Henry L. Ellsworth, the payments being in return for a cession of all their claims south of the Platte. See also De Smet's Letters in our volume xxvii, pp. 207, 208, 210, notes 81-83.—Ed.

[99] The Karankawa (Carancahua) were a tribe of Texan Indians whose habitat was the bays and river-openings of the coast south and west from Galveston. They were first known to Europeans through contact with La Salle's colonists, whose remnant they captured. In the eighteenth century the Spanish attempted several missions to this people, but without much success; their contact with whites appeared to have made them more sanguinary and ferocious, and increased their tendencies to cannibalism. Bad treatment by Lafitte's pirate colony made them hostile to the Austin settlers, who in 1825 rallied and inflicted upon them a severe defeat. They made part of the Mexican army in the attack on the Alamo, and after the conclusion of the war kept peace with the Texans through fear of the latter's revenge. Successive hostilities, however, weakened their strength and numbers, and after 1836 the few survivors took refuge in Mexico. There a remnant existed for some years, an attack upon them by some rancheros of Texas, in revenge for robbery, being noted as late as 1858. The tribe is now extinct, but a vocabulary and a knowledge of their manners and customs have been preserved. Consult Peabody Museum of American Archæology and Ethnology, Harvard University, Papers (Cambridge, 1891), i, no. 2.—Ed.

[100] For the Comanche see our volume xvi, p. 233, note 109; also xviii, pp. 65-71; and xx, pp. 342-352. These "Arabs of the Plains" were first met by Louisiana colonists in 1699. They had already adopted the horse, and become skillful riders. On the borders of Mexican and American settlements, they alternately made depredations upon each, as suited their purposes. The frontiers of Texas were long harried by their raiding parties. It was not until 1875 that the last hostile band surrendered, and was settled on the Wichita reservation in Oklahoma, where they are still watched by troops stationed at Fort Sill. They are, however, becoming sedentary, most of their land now being allotted.—Ed.

[101] For the Knistineaux (Cree) Indians see our volume ii, p. 168, note 75. Mackenzie is sketched in Franchère's Narrative, our volume vi, p. 185, note 4.—Ed.

[102] Farnham here quotes from Z. M. Pike, Account of Expeditions to the Sources of the Mississippi River and through the Western Parts of Louisiana (Baltimore, 1810). See Coues's edition (New York, 1895), pp. 348-350. Our author has not noted the more detailed boundary arranged by the treaty (1825) at Prairie du Chien, under the supervision of William Clark and Lewis Cass, with Sioux, Chippewa, Sauk and Foxes, Iowa, etc.; this stood for years as the standard limit for the Sioux tribe.

Rivière de Corbeau was the present Crow Wing River, in upper Minnesota. Rising in Hubbard County, flowing through Wadena, and forming the boundary between Cass, Todd, and Morrison counties, it enters the Mississippi opposite the town of Crow Wing. By means of this river, there was reached a famous portage to Red River of the North; its affluent Leaf River was followed to a carrying trail leading over to Otter Tail Lake, one of the sources of the Red.

For the St. Peter's see our volume xxii, p. 342, note 315.—Ed.

[103] Rum River was so designated by Carver in 1767, and is the river which Father Louis Hennepin nearly a hundred years earlier designated River St. Francis. It is the outlet of Mille Lacs, flows south and south-east, and unites with the Mississippi at Anoka.—Ed.

[104] Farnham's classification of the Dakota bands is quite correct; see our volume xxii, pp. 278, 305, 326, notes 235, 263, 287. He follows Pike in his spelling of several of the tribal names, and Lewis and Clark in naming the Teton bands.

For the location of the Arikara villages see our volume v, p. 127, note 83.—Ed.

[105] For wild rice, called by the French folle avoine (Latin equivalent, avena fatua) see Franchère's Narrative, our volume vi, p. 384, note 205, and reference therein cited.—Ed.

[106] For Jonathan Carver see J. Long's Voyages, in our volume ii, p. 30, note 5. Recent investigation throws much doubt upon the authenticity of Carver's work, although it is probable that he made the journey up St. Peter's River; see Wisconsin Historical Society, Bulletin of Information, no. 24 (January, 1905); also American Historical Review, xi, pp. 287-302.—Ed.

[107] For the Assiniboin, and their revolt from the Sioux, see Maximilian's Travels, in our volume xxii, p. 370, note 346.—Ed.

[108] The Chippewayan and Chippewa belong to two distinct Indian families. The former are of Athabascan (or Tinneh) stock, and range from Hudson Bay to the Pacific, and from the Saskatchewan to the Arctic. The Chippewa (Ojibwa, Saulteurs, see our volume ii, p. 79, note 38) are the largest and most important branch of the Algonquian family, first being encountered by the French at the outlet of Lake Superior. According to tradition, their original habitat was the St. Lawrence, whence they passed slowly westward to the Great Lakes. At Lake Superior they divided, one portion going north and west to Lake Winnipeg, the other following the southern shore of the lake. For many years their chief settlement was at La Pointe on Chequamegon Bay. As allies of the French they joined in the French and Indian War and in Pontiac's Conspiracy—see J. Bain (ed.), Alexander Henry's Travels (Boston, 1901), pp. 79-106. They also aided the English in the American Revolution and the War of 1812-15. In the eighteenth century they drove the Sioux from the upper waters of the Mississippi, and the band known as Pillagers established themselves on Leach Lake. For the boundary between them and the Sioux see ante, p. 152, note 98. See Minnesota Historical Collections, v, for complete history of this tribe. In Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota, there are still about twenty thousand of these people, besides a large number in Canada.—Ed.

[109] Tripe de roche, for which see our volume ii, p. 156, note 70.—Ed.

[110] Consult W. J. Hoffman, "The Midewiwin or Grand Medicine Society of the Ojibwa," in Bureau of Ethnology Report, 1885-86, pp. 143-300.—Ed.

[Pg 161]


Fort William—its Structure, Owners, People, Animals, Business, Adventures, and Hazards—A Division—A March—Fort el Puebla—Trappers and Whisky—A Genius—An Adventurous Iroquois—A Kentuckian—Horses and Servant—A Trade—A Start—Arkansas and Country—Wolfano Mountains—Creeks—Rio Wolfano—A Plague of Egypt—Cordilleras—James's Peak—Pike's Peak—A Bath—The Prison of the Arkansas—Entrance of the Rocky Mountains—A Vale.

Fort William, or Bent's Fort, on the north side of the Arkansas, eighty miles north by east from Taos in the Mexican dominions, and about one hundred and sixty miles from the mountains, was erected by gentlemen owners in 1832, for purposes of trade with the Spaniards of Santa Fé and Taos, and the Eutaw, Cheyenne and Cumanche Indians. It is in the form of a parallelogram, the northern[Pg 162] and southern sides of which are about a hundred and fifty feet, and the eastern and western a hundred feet in length. The walls are six or seven feet in thickness at the base, and seventeen or eighteen feet in height. The fort is entered through {174} a large gateway on the eastern side, in which swing a pair of immense plank doors. At the north-west and south-east corners stand two cylindrical bastions, about ten feet in diameter and thirty feet in height.

These are properly perforated for the use of cannon and small arms; and command the fort and the plains around it. The interior area is divided into two parts. The one and the larger of them occupies the north-eastern portion. It is nearly a square. A range of two-story houses, the well, and the blacksmith's shop are on the north side; on the west and south are ranges of one-story houses; on the east the blacksmith's shop, the gate and the outer wall. This is the place of business. Here the owners and their servants have their sleeping and cooking apartments, and here are the storehouses. In this area the Indians in the season of trade gather in large numbers and barter, and trade, and buy, under the guardianship of the carronades of the bastions loaded with grape, and looking upon them. From this area a passage leads between the eastern outer wall and the one-story houses, to the caral or cavy-yard, which occupies the remainder of the space within the walls. This is the {175} place for the horses, mules, &c., to repose in safety from Indian depredations at night. Beyond the caral to the west and adjoining the wall, is the waggon-house. It is strongly built, and large enough to shelter twelve or fifteen of those large vehicles which are used in conveying the peltries to St. Louis, and goods thence to the post. The long drought of summer renders it necessary to protect them from the sun.

The walls of the fort, its bastions and houses, are con[Pg 163]structed of adobies or unburnt bricks, cemented together with a mortar of clay. The lower floors of the building are made of clay, a little moistened and beaten hard with large wooden mallets; the upper floors of the two-story houses and the roofs of all are made in the same way and of the same material, and are supported by heavy transverse timbers covered with brush. The tops of the houses being flat and gravelled, furnish a fine promenade in the moonlight evenings of that charming climate. The number of men employed in the business of this establishment is supposed to be about sixty. Fifteen or twenty of them in charge of one of the owners, are employed in taking to market the buffalo robes, &c., which are gathered at the fort, {176} and in bringing back with them new stocks of goods for future purchases. Another party is employed in hunting buffalo meat in the neighbouring plains; and another in guarding the animals while they cut their daily food on the banks of the river. Others, under command of an experienced trader, goes into some distant Indian camp to trade. One or more of the owners, and one or another of these parties which chances to be at the post, defend it and trade, keep the books of the company, &c. Each of these parties encounters dangers and hardships, from which persons within the borders of civilization would shrink.

The country in which the fort is situated is in a manner the common field of several tribes, unfriendly alike to one another and the whites. The Eutaws and Cheyennes[111] of the mountains near Santa Fé, and the Pawnees of the great Platte, come to the Upper Arkansas to meet the buffalo in their annual migrations to the north; and on the trail of these animals follow up the Cumanches. And thus in the months of June, August, and September, there are in the [Pg 164]neighbourhood of these traders from fifteen to twenty thousand savages ready and panting for {177} plunder and blood. If they engage in battling out old causes of contention among themselves, the Messrs. Bents feel comparatively safe in their solitary fortress. But if they spare each other's property and lives, they occasion great anxieties at Fort William; every hour of day and night is pregnant with danger. These untameable savages may drive beyond reach the buffalo on which the garrison subsists; may begirt the fort with their legions, and cut off supplies; may prevent them from feeding their animals upon the plains; may bring upon them starvation and the gnawing their own flesh at the door of death! All these are expectations, which as yet the ignorance alone of the Indians as to the weakness of the post, prevents from becoming realities. But at what moment some chieftain or white desperado may give them the requisite knowledge, is an uncertainty which occasions at Fort William many well-grounded fears for life and property.

Instances of the daring intrepidity of the Cumanches which occurred just before and after my arrival here, will serve to show the hazards and dangers of which I have spoken. About the middle of June, 1839, a band of sixty of them, under cover of {178} night, crossed the river, and concealed themselves among the bushes growing thickly on the bank near the place where the animals of the establishment feed during the day. No sentinel being on duty at the time, their presence was unobserved; and when morning came the Mexican horse-guard mounted his horse, and with the noise and shouting usual with that class of servants when so employed, drove his charge out of the fort, and riding rapidly from side to side of the rear of the band, urged them on, and soon had them nibbling the short dry grass in a little vale within grape-shot distance of the guns of the[Pg 165] bastions. It is customary for a guard of animals about these trading-posts to take his station beyond his charge; and if they stray from each other, or attempt to stroll too far, to drive them together, and thus keep them in the best possible situation to be hurried hastily to the caral, should the Indians, or other evil persons, swoop down upon them. As there is constant danger of this, his horse is held by a long rope and grazes around him, that he may be mounted quickly, at the first alarm, for a retreat within the walls. The faithful guard at Bent's, on the morning of the disaster {179} I am relating, had dismounted after driving out his animals, and sat upon the ground, watching with the greatest fidelity for every call of duty, when these fifty or sixty Indians sprang from their hiding-places, ran upon the animals, yelling horribly, and attempted to drive them across the river. The guard, however, nothing daunted, mounted quickly, and drove his horse at full speed among them. The mules and horses hearing his voice amidst the frightening yells of the savages, immediately started at a lively pace for the fort; but the Indians were on all sides, and bewildered them. The guard still pressed them onward, and called for help; and on they rushed, despite the efforts of the Indians to the contrary. The battlements were covered with men. They shouted encouragement to the brave guard—"Onward! onward!" and the injunction was obeyed. He spurred his horse to his greatest speed from side to side, and whipped the hindermost of the band with his leading rope. He had saved every animal; he was within twenty yards of the open gate; he fell; three arrows from the bows of the Cumanches had cloven his heart. Relieved of him, the lords of the quiver gathered {180} their prey, and drove them to the borders of Texas, without injury to life or limb. I saw this faithful guard's grave. He had been buried a few days. The wolves had been digging[Pg 166] into it. Thus forty or fifty mules and horses, and their best servant's life, were lost to the Messrs. Bents in a single day. I have been informed also that those horses and mules, which my company had taken great pleasure in recovering for them in the plains, were also stolen in a similar manner soon after my departure from the post; and that gentlemen owners were in hourly expectation of an attack upon the fort itself.

The same liability to the loss of life and property attends the trading expeditions to the encampments of the tribes.

An anecdote of this service was related to me. An old trapper was sent from this fort to the Eutaw camp, with a well-assorted stock of goods, and a body of men to guard it. After a tedious march among the snows and swollen streams and declivities of the mountain, he came in sight of the village. It was situated in a sunken valley, among the hideously dark cliffs of the Eutaw mountains; and so small was it, and so deep, that the overhanging heights {181} not only protected it from the blasts of approaching winter, but drew to their frozen embrace the falling snows, and left this valley its grasses and flowers, while their own awful heads were glittering with perpetual frosts.

The traders encamped upon a small swell of land that overlooked the smoking wigwams, and sent a deputation to the chiefs to parley for the privilege of opening a trade with the tribe. They were received with great haughtiness by those monarchs of the wilderness, and were asked "why they had dared to enter the Eutaw mountains without their permission." Being answered that they "had travelled from the fort to that place, in order to ask their highnesses' permission to trade with the Eutaws," the principal chief replied, that no permission had been given to them to come there, nor to remain. The interview ended, and the traders returned to their camp with no very pleasant anticipations[Pg 167] as to the result of their expedition. Their baggage was placed about for breastworks; their animals drawn in nearer, and tied firmly to stakes; and a patrol guard stationed, as the evening shut in. Every preparation for the attack, which appeared determined upon on the part of the Indians, being {182} made, they waited for the first ray of day—a signal of dreadful havoc among all the tribes—with the determined anxiety which fills the bosom, sharpens the sight, nerves the arm, and opens the ear to the slightest rustle of a leaf, so remarkably, among the grave, self-possessed, and brave traders of the Great Prairie and Mountain Wilderness.

During the first part of the night the Indians hurrying to and fro through the village, their war speeches and war dances, and the painting their faces with red and black, in alternate stripes, and an occasional scout warily approaching the camp of the whites, indicated an appetite for a conflict that appeared to fix, with prophetic certainty, the fate of the traders. Eight hundred Indians to fifty whites, made fearful odds. The morning light streamed faintly up the east at last. The traders held their rifles with the grasp of dying men. Another and another beam kindled on the dark blue vault, and one by one quenched the stars. The silence of the tomb rested on the world. They breathed heavily, with teeth set in terrible resolution. The hour—the moment—had arrived! Behind a projecting ledge, the dusky forms of three or four hundred Eutaws undulated near the ground, like herds {183} of bears intent on their prey. They approached the ledge, and for an instant lay flat on their faces, and motionless. Two or three of them gently raised their heads high enough to look over upon the camp of the whites.

The day had broken over half the firmament; the rifles of the traders were levelled from behind the baggage,[Pg 168] and glistened faintly; a crack—a whoop—a shout—a rout! The scalp of one of the peepers over the ledge had been bored by the whistling lead from one of the rifles—the chief warrior had fallen. The Indians retreated to their camp, and the whites retained their position, each watching the others movements. The position of the traders was such as could command the country within long rifle-shot on all sides; the Indians, therefore, declined an attack. The number of their foes, and perhaps some prudential consideration as to having an advantageous location, prevented the traders from making an assault. Well would it have been for them had they continued to be careful. About nine o'clock, the warlike appearance gave place to signs of peace. Thirty or forty unarmed Indians, denuded of clothing and of paint, came towards the {184} camp of the traders, singing and dancing, and bearing the Sacred Calumet, or Great Pipe of Peace. A chief bore it who had acted as lieutenant to the warrior that had been shot. Its red marble bowl, its stem broad and long, and carved into hieroglyphics of various colours and significations, and adorned with feathers of beautiful birds, was soon recognized by the traders, and secured the bearer and his attendants a reception into their camp. Both parties seated themselves in a great circle; the pipe was filled with tobacco and herbs from the venerated medicine bag; the well-kindled coal was reverently placed upon the bowl; its sacred stem was then turned towards the heavens, to invite the Great Spirit to the solemn assembly, and to implore his aid; it was then turned towards the earth, to avert the influence of malicious demons; it was then borne in a horizontal position, till it completed a circle, to call to their help in the great smoke, the beneficent invisible agents which live on the earth, in the waters, and the upper air; the chief took two whiffs, and blew the smoke first towards[Pg 169] heaven, and then round upon the ground; and so did others, until all had inhaled the smoke—the breath of Indian {185} fidelity—and blown it to the earth and heaven, loaded with the pious vows that are supposed to mingle with it while it curls among the lungs near the heart. The chief then rose and said, in the Spanish language, which the Eutaws east of the mountains speak well, "that he was anxious that peace might be restored between the parties; that himself and people were desirous that the traders should remain with them; and that if presents were made to him to the small amount of £140, no objection would remain to the proposed proceedings of the whites; but on no account could they enter the Eutaw country without paying tribute in some form. They were in the Eutaw country, the tribute was due, they had killed a Eutaw chief, and the blood of a chief was due; but that the latter could be compromised by a prompt compliance with his proposition in regard to the presents."

The chief trader was explicit in his reply. "That he had come into the country to sell goods, not to give them away; that no tribute could be paid to him or to any other Eutaw; and that if fighting were a desideratum with the chief and his people, he would do his part to make {186} it sufficiently lively to be interesting." The council broke up tumultuously. The Indians carried back the wampum belts to their camp, held war councils, and whipt and danced around posts painted red, and recounted their deeds of valour, and showed high in air, as they leaped in the frenzy of mimic warfare, the store of scalps that garnished the doors of the family lodges; and around their camp-fires the following night were seen features distorted with the most ghastly wrath. Indeed, the savages appeared resolved to destroy the whites. And as they were able, by their superior numbers to do so, it was[Pg 170] deemed advisable to get beyond their reach, with all practicable haste.

At midnight, therefore, when the fires had smouldered low, the traders saddled in silent haste, bound their bales upon their pack-mules, and departed while the wolves were howling the hour; and succeeded by the dawn of day in reaching a gorge where they had expected the Indians (if they had discovered their departure in season to reach it) would oppose their retreat. On reconnoitering, however, it was found clear; and with joy they entered the defile, and beheld from its eastern opening, the wide cold plains, and the sun rising, red and cheerful, {187} on the distant outline of the morning sky. A few days after, they reached the post—not a little glad that their flesh was not rotting with many who had been less successful than themselves, in escaping death at the hands of the Eutaws. For the insults, robberies, and murders, committed by this and other tribes, the traders Bents have sought opportunities to take well-measured vengeance: and liberally and bravely have they often dealt it out. But the consequence seems to have been the exciting of the bitterest enmity between the parties; which results in a little more inconvenience to the traders than to the Indians; for the latter, to gratify their propensity to steal, and their hatred to the former, make an annual levy upon the cavy-yard of the fortress, which, as it contains usually from eighty to one hundred horses, mules, &c., furnishes to the men of the tomahawk a very comfortable and satisfactory retribution for the inhibition of the owners of them upon their immemorial right to rob and murder, in manner and form as prescribed by the customs of their race.

The business within the walls of the post is done by clerks and traders. The former of these are more commonly young gentlemen {188} from the cities of the States;[Pg 171] their duty is to keep the books of the establishment. The traders are generally selected from among those daring individuals who have traversed the Prairie and Mountain Wilderness with goods or traps, and understand the best mode of dealing with the Indians. Their duty is to weigh sugar, coffee, powder, &c., in a Connecticut pint-cup; and measure red baize, beads, &c., and speak the several Indian languages that have a name for beaver skins, buffalo robes, and money. They are as fine fellows as can anywhere be found.

Fort William is owned by three brothers, by the name of Bent, from St. Louis. Two of them were at the post when we arrived. They seemed to be thoroughly initiated into Indian life; dressed like chiefs—in moccasins thoroughly garnished with beads and porcupine quills; in trousers of deer skin, with long fringes of the same extending along the outer seam from the ankle to the hip; in the splendid hunting-shirt of the same material, with sleeves fringed on the elbow seam from the wrist to the shoulder, and ornamented with figures of porcupine quills of various colours, and leathern fringe around the lower edge of the body. And {189} chiefs they were in the authority exercised in their wild and lonely fortress.

A trading establishment to be known must be seen. A solitary abode of men, seeking wealth in the teeth of danger and hardship, rearing its towers over the uncultivated wastes of nature, like an old baronial castle that has withstood the wars and desolations of centuries; Indian women tripping around its battlements in their glittering moccasins and long deer skin wrappers; their children, with most perfect forms, and the carnation of the Saxon cheek struggling through the shading of the Indian, and chattering now Indian, and now Spanish or English; the grave owners and their clerks and traders, seated in the shade of the piazza,[Pg 172] smoking the long native pipe, passing it from one to another, drawing the precious smoke into the lungs by short hysterical sucks till filled, and then ejecting it through the nostrils; or it may be, seated around their rude table, spread with coffee or tea, jerked buffalo meat, and bread made of unbolted wheaten meal from Taos; or, after eating, laid comfortably upon their pallets of straw and Spanish blankets, and dreaming to the sweet notes of a flute; the old trappers withered with {190} exposure to the rending elements, the half-tamed Indian, and half civilized Mexican servants, seated on the ground around a large tin pan of dry meat, and a tankard of water, their only rations, relating adventures about the shores of Hudson's Bay, on the rivers Columbia and Mackenzie, in the Great Prairie Wilderness, and among the snowy heights of the mountains; and delivering sage opinions about the destination of certain bands of buffalo; of the distance to the Blackfoot country, and whether my wounded man was hurt as badly as Bill the mule was, when the "meal party" was fired upon by the Cumanches—present a tolerable idea of every thing within its walls.

If we add, the opening of the gates on a winter's morning—the cautious sliding in and out of the Indians whose tents stand around the fort, till the whole area is filled six feet deep with their long hanging black locks, and dark watchful flashing eyes; and traders and clerks busy at their work; and the patrols walking the battlements with loaded muskets; and the guards in the bastions standing with burning matches by the carronades; and when the sun sets, the Indians retiring again to their camp outside, to talk over their newly purchased blankets {191} and beads, and to sing and drink and dance; and the night sentinel on the fort that treads his weary watch away; we shall present a tolerable view of this post in the season of business.

It was summer time with man and beast when I was[Pg 173] there. The fine days spent in the enjoyment of its hospitalities were of great service to ourselves, and in recruiting our jaded animals. The man, too, who had been wounded on the Santa Fé trade, recovered astonishingly.

The mutineers, on the 11th of July, started for Bent's Fort, on the Platte;[112] and myself, with three sound and good men, and one wounded and bad one, strode our animals and took trail again for the mountains and Oregon Territory. Five miles above Fort William, we came to Fort El Puebla. It is constructed of adobies, and consists of a series of one-story houses built around a quadrangle, in the general style of those at Fort William. It belongs to a company of American and Mexican trappers, who, wearied with the service, have retired to this spot to spend the remainder of their days in raising grain, vegetables, horses, mules, &c., for the various {192} trading establishments in these regions. And as the Arkansas, some four miles above the post, can be turned from its course over large tracts of rich land, these individuals might realize the happiest results from their industry;—for, as it is impossible, from the looseness of the soil and the scarcity of rain, to raise any thing thereabout without irrigation; and, as this is the only spot, for a long distance up and down the [Pg 174]Arkansas, where any considerable tracts of land can be watered, they could supply the market with these articles without any fear of competition.[113]

But these, like the results of many honest intentions, are wholly crippled by want of capital and a superabundance of whisky. The proprietors are poor, and when the keg is on tap, dream away their existence under its dangerous fascinations. Hence it is that these men, destitute of the means to carry out their designs in regard to farming, have found themselves not wholly unemployed in drunkenness; a substitute which many other individuals have before been known to prefer. They have, however, a small stock; consisting of horses and mules, cattle, sheep, and goats; and still maintain their original intention of irrigating and cultivating {193} the land in the vicinity of their establishment.

We arrived here about four o'clock in the afternoon; and, being desirous of purchasing a horse for one of the men, and making some farther arrangements for my journey, I determined to stop for the night. At this place I found a number of independent trappers, who after the spring-hunt had come down from the mountains, taken rooms free of rent, stored their fur, and opened a trade for whisky. One skin, valued at four dollars, buys in that market one pint of whisky; no more, no less. Unless, indeed, some theorists in the vanity of their dogmas, may consider it less, when plentifully mollified with water; a process that increases in value, as the faucet falters in the energy of its action; for the seller knows, that if the pure liquid should so mollify the whisky, as to delay the hopes of merriment too long, another beaver-skin will be taken from the jolly[Pg 175] trapper's pack, and another quantity of the joyful mixture obtained. Thus matters will proceed, until the stores of furs, the hardships of the hunt, the toils and exposures of trapping, the icy streams of the wilderness, the bloody fight, foot to foot, with the knife and tomahawk, {194} and the long days and nights of thirst and starvation are satisfactorily cancelled in the dreamy felicity which whisky, rum, gin, brandy and ipecacuanha, if properly administered, are accustomed to produce.

One of these trappers was from New Hampshire; he had been educated at Dartmouth College, and was altogether one of the most remarkable men I ever knew. A splendid gentleman, a finished scholar, a critic on English and Roman literature, a politician, a trapper, an Indian! His stature was something more than six feet; his shoulders and chest were broad, and his arms and lower limbs well formed, and very muscular. His forehead was high and expansive; Causality, Comparison, Eventuality, and all the perceptive organs, (to use a phrenological description), remarkably large. Locality was, however, larger than any other organ in the frontal region. Benevolence, Wonder, Ideality, Secretiveness, Destructiveness, and Adhesiveness, Combativeness, Self-Esteem and Hope were very high. The remaining organs were low. His head was clothed with hair as black as jet, two and a half feet in length, smoothly combed, and hanging down his back. He {195} was dressed in a deer-skin frock, leggings and moccasins; not a shred of cloth about his person. On my first interview with him, he addressed me with the stiff, cold formality of one conscious of his own importance; and, in a manner that he thought unobserved, scrutinized the movement of every muscle of my face, and every word which I uttered. When any thing was said of political events in the States or Europe, he gave silent and intense attention.

[Pg 176]

I left him without any very good impressions of his character; for I had induced him to open his compressed mouth but once, and then to make the no very agreeable inquiries, "When do you start?" and "What route do you take?" At my second interview, he was more familiar. Having ascertained that he was proud of his learning, I approached him through that medium. He seemed pleased at this compliment to his superiority over those around him, and at once became easy and talkative. His "Alma Mater" was described and redescribed; all the fields, and walks, and rivulets, the beautiful Connecticut, the evergreen primitive ridges lying along its banks, which, he said, "had smiled for a thousand ages on the march of decay;" were successive {196} themes of his vast imagination. His descriptions were minute and exquisite. He saw in every thing all that Science sees, together with all that his capacious intellect, instructed and imbued with the wild fancyings and legends of his race, could see. I inquired the reason of his leaving civilized life for a precarious livelihood in the wilderness. "For reasons found in the nature of my race," he replied. "The Indian's eye cannot be satisfied with a description of things, how beautiful soever may be the style, or the harmonies of verse in which it is conveyed. For neither the periods of burning eloquence, nor the mighty and beautiful creations of the imagination, can unbosom the treasures and realities as they live in their own native magnificence on the eternal mountains, and in the secret, untrodden vale.

"As soon as you thrust the ploughshare under the earth, it teems with worms and useless weeds. It increases population to an unnatural extent; creates the necessity of penal enactments, builds the jail, erects the gallows, spreads over the human face a mask of deception and selfishness, and substitutes villany, love of wealth and power, and the[Pg 177] slaughter of millions for the gratification {197} of some individual instead of the single-minded honesty, the hospitality, the honour and the purity of the natural state. Hence, wherever Agriculture appears, the increase of moral and physical wretchedness induces the thousands of necessities, as they are termed, for abridging human liberty; for fettering down the mind to the principles of right, derived, not from nature, but from a restrained and forced condition of existence. And hence my race, with mental and physical habits as free as the waters which flow from the hills, become restive under the rules of civilized life; dwindle to their graves under the control of laws, customs, and forms, which have grown out of the endless vices, and the factitious virtue of another race. Red men often acquire and love the Sciences. But with the nature which the Great Spirit has given them, what are all their truths to them? Would an Indian ever measure the height of a mountain that he could climb? No, never. The legends of his tribe tell him nothing about quadrants, and base lines and angles. Their old braves, however, have for ages watched from the cliffs, the green life in the spring, and the yellow death in the autumn, of their holy forests. Why should he ever calculate an eclipse? He {198} always knew such occurrences to be the doings of the Great Spirit.

"Science, it is true, can tell the times and seasons of their coming; but the Indian, when they do occur, looks through nature, without the aid of science, up to its cause. Of what use is a Lunar to him? His swift canoe has the green embowered shores, and well-known headlands, to guide its course. In fine, what are the arts of peace, of war, of agriculture, or any thing civilized, to him? His nature and its elements, like the pine which shadows its wigwam, are too mighty, too grand, of too strong a fibre, to form a stock on which to engraft the rose or the violet of polished life. No.[Pg 178] I must range the hills, I must always be able to out-travel my horses, I must always be able to strip my own wardrobe from the backs of the deer and buffalo, and to feed upon their rich loins; I must always be able to punish my enemy with my own hand, or I am no longer an Indian. And if I am any thing else, I am a mere imitation of an ape."

The enthusiasm with which these sentiments were uttered impressed me with an awe I had never previously felt for the unborrowed dignity and independence of the genuine, original character {199} of the American Indians. Enfeebled, and reduced to a state of dependence by disease and the crowding hosts of civilized men, we find among them still, too much of their own, to adopt the character of another race, too much bravery to feel like a conquered people, and a preference of annihilation to the abandonment of that course of life, consecrated by a thousand generations of venerated ancestors.

This Indian has been trapping among the Rocky Mountains for seventeen years. During that time, he has been often employed as an express to carry news from one trading post to another, and from the mountains to Missouri. In these journeys he has been remarkable for the directness of his courses, and the exceedingly short space of time required to accomplish them. Mountains which neither Indian nor white man dared attempt to scale, if opposing his right-line track, he has crossed. Angry streams, heavy and cold from the snows, and plunging and roaring among the girding caverns of the hills, he has swum; he has met the tempest as it groaned over the plains, and hung upon the trembling towers of the everlasting hills; and without a horse, or even a dog, traversed often the terrible and boundless wastes of mountains, {200} and plains, and desert valleys, through which I am travelling; and the ruder the blast, the larger the bolts, and the louder the peals of the dread[Pg 179]ful tempest, when the earth and the sky seem joined by a moving cataract of flood and flame driven by the wind, the more was it like himself, a free, unmarred manifestation of the sublime energies of nature. He says that he never intends again to visit the States, or any other part of the earth "which has been torn and spoiled by the slaves of agriculture." "I shall live," said he, "and die in the wilderness." And assuredly he should thus live and die. The music of the rushing waters should be his requiem, and the Great Wilderness his tomb.

Another of these peculiar men was an Iroquois from Canada; a stout, old man, with a flat nose, broad face, small twinkling black eyes, a swarthy, dirty complexion, a mouth that laughed from ear to ear. He was always relating some wonderful tale of a trapper's life, and was particularly fond of describing his escapes from the Sioux and Blackfeet, while in the service of the Hudson's Bay Company. On one occasion he had separated from his fellow-trappers and travelled far up the Missouri {201} into a particularly beautiful valley. It was the very spot he had sought in all his wanderings, as a retreat for himself and his squaw to live in till they should die. It appeared to him like the gateway to the Isles of the Blest. The lower mountains were covered with tall pines, and above and around, except in the east, where the morning sun sent in his rays, the bright glittering ridges rose high against the sky, decked in the garniture of perpetual frosts. Along the valley lay a clear, pure lake, in the centre of which played a number of fountains, that threw their waters many feet above its surface, and sending tiny waves rippling away to the pebbly shores, made the mountains and groves that were reflected from its rich bosom seem to leap and clap their hands for joy, at the sacred quiet that reigned among them.

The old Indian pitched his skin tent on the shore, in a[Pg 180] little copse of hemlock, and set his traps. Having done this, he explored carefully every part of the neighbouring mountains for ingress and egress, "signs," &c. His object in this was to ascertain if the valley were frequented by human beings; and if there were places of escape, should it be entered by hostile persons {202} through the pass that led himself to it. He found no other pass, except one for the waters of the lake through a deep chasm of the mountain; and this was such that no one could descend it alive to the lower valleys. For as he waded and swam by turns down its still waters, he soon found himself drawn by an increasing current, which sufficiently indicated to him the cause of the deep roar that resounded from the caverns beyond. He accordingly made the shore, and climbed along among the projecting rocks till he overlooked an abyss of fallen rocks, into which the stream poured and foamed and was lost in the mist. He returned to his camp satisfied. He had found an undiscovered valley, stored with beaver and trout, and grass for his horses, where he could trap and fish and dream awhile in safety. And every morning, for three delightful weeks, did he draw the beaver from the deep pools into which they had plunged when the quick trap had seized them, and stringing them two and two together over his pack-horse, bore them to his camp; and with his long side-knife stripped off the skins of fur, pinned them to the ground to dry, and in his camp kettle cooked the much-prized tails for his mid-day {203} repast. "Was it not a fine hunt that?" asked he; "beaver as thick as musquitoes, trout as plenty as water. But the ungodly Blackfeet!" The sun had thrown a few bright rays upon the rim of the eastern firmament, when the Blackfeet war-whoop rang around his tent—a direful "whoop-ah-hooh," ending with a yell, piercing harsh and shrill, through the clenched teeth. He had but one means of escape—the[Pg 181] lake. Into it he plunged, beneath a shower of poisoned arrows—plunged deeply—and swam under while he could endure the absence of air; he rose, he was in the midst of his foes swimming and shouting around him; down again, up to breathe, and on he swam with long and powerful sweeps. The pursuit was long, but at last our man entered the chasm he had explored, plunged along the cascade as near as he dared, clung to a shrub that grew from the crevice of the rock, and lay under water for the approach of his pursuers. On they came, they passed, they shrieked and plunged for ever into the abyss of mist.

Another individual of these veteran trappers was my guide, Kelly, a blacksmith by trade, from Kentucky. He left his native State about twelve years ago, and entered {204} the service of the American Fur Company. Since that time, he has been in the States but once, and that for a few weeks only. In his opinion, every thing was so dull and tiresome that he was compelled to fly to the mountains again. The food, too, had well nigh killed him: "The villanous pies and cake, bacon and beef, and the nicknacks that one is obliged to eat among cousins, would destroy the constitution of an ostrich." And if he could eat such stuff, he said he had been so long away from civilization that he could never again enjoy it. As long as he could get good buffalo cows to eat, the fine water of the snowy hills to drink, and good buckskins to wear, he was satisfied. The mountaineers were free; he could go and come when he chose, with only his own will for law.

My intercourse with him, however, led me afterwards to assign another cause for his abandonment of home. There were times when we were encamped at night on the cold mountains about a blazing fire, that he related anecdotes of his younger days with an intensity of feeling which discovered that a deep fountain of emotion was still open[Pg 182] in his bosom, never to be sealed till he slumber under the sands of the desert.

{205} We passed the night of the 11th of July at the Puebla. One of my companions who had, previously to the division of my company, used horses belonging to an individual who left us for Santa Fé, and the excellent Mr. Blair, were without riding animals. It became, therefore, an object for them to purchase here; and the more so, as there would be no other opportunity to do so for some hundreds of miles. But these individuals had no money nor goods that the owners of the horses would receive in exchange. They wanted clothing or cash, and as I had a surplus quantity of linen, I began to bargain for one of the animals. The first price charged was enormous. A little bantering, however, brought the owner to his proper senses; and the articles of payment were overhauled. In doing this, my whole wardrobe was exposed, and the vendor of horses became extremely enamoured of my dress-coat, the only one remaining, not out at the elbows. This he determined to have. I assured him it was impossible for me to part with it; the only one I possessed. But he, with quite as much coolness, assured me that it would then be impossible for him to part with his horse. These two {206} impossibilities having met, all prospects of a trade were suspended, till one or the other of them should yield. After a little, the idea of walking cast such evident dissatisfaction over the countenances of my friends, that the coat was yielded, and then the pants and overcoat, and all my shirts save four, and various other articles to the value of three such animals in the States. The horse was then transferred to our keeping. And such a horse! The biography of her mischief, would fill a volume! and that of the vexations arising therefrom to us poor mortals? Would it not fill two volumes of "Pencillings by the Way," whose only deficiency would be[Pg 183] the want of a love incident? Another horse was still necessary; but in this, as in the other case, a coat was a "sine quâ non;" and there being no other article of the kind to dispose of among us, no bargain could be made. The night came on amidst these our little preparations. The owners of the horses and mules belonging to El Puebla, drove their animals into the court or quadrangle, around which their houses were built. We gathered our goods and chattels into a pile, in a corner of the most comfortable room we could obtain, and so {207} arranged our blankets and bodies, that it would be difficult for any one to make depredations upon them during the night, without awaking us. After conversing with my Dartmouth friend concerning the mountainous country through which we were to travel, and the incidents of feasting and battle which had befallen him during his trapping excursions, we retired to our couches.

At eight o'clock on the 12th, we were harnessed and on route again for the mountains. It was a fine mellow morning. The snowy peaks of the Wolfano mountains, one hundred and seventy miles to the south-west, rose high and clear in view.[114] The atmosphere was bland like that of the Indian summer in New England. Five miles' travel brought us to the encampment of Kelly's servant, who had been sent abroad the night before to find grass for his horses. Here another horse was purchased of a Mexican, who had followed us from Puebla. But on adjusting our baggage, it appeared that three animals were required for transporting it over the broken country which lay before us. Messrs. Blair and Wood would, therefore, still have but a single saddle horse for their joint use. {208} This was felt to be [Pg 184]a great misfortune, both on account of the hardships of such a journey on foot, as well as the delay it would necessarily cause in the prosecution of it. But these men felt no such obstacle to be insurmountable, and declared, that while the plain and the mountains were before them, and they could walk, they would conquer every difficulty that lay between them and Oregon. After we had eaten, Kelly's horses were rigged, and we moved on four or five miles up the river, where we halted for the night. Our provisions consisted of a small quantity of wheat meal, a little salt and pepper, and a few pounds of sugar and coffee. For meat we depended on our rifles. But as no game appeared during the day, we spent the evening in attempting to take cat-fish from the Arkansas. One weighing a pound, after much practical angling, was caught—a small consolation surely to the keen appetites of seven men! But this, and porridge made of wheat meal and water, constituted our supper that night and breakfast next morning.

July 13th, fifteen miles along the banks of the Arkansas; the soil composed of sand slightly intermixed with clay, too loose to {209} retain moisture, and too little impregnated with the nutritive salts to produce any thing save a spare and stinted growth of bunch grass and sun-flowers. Occasional bluffs of sand and limestone bordered the valley of the stream. In the afternoon, the range of low mountains that lie at the eastern base of the Great Cordilleras and Long's ranges became visible; and even these, though pigmies in the mountain race, were, in midsummer, partially covered with snow. Pike's peak in the south-west, and James' peak in the north-west, at sunset showed their hoary heads above the clouds which hung around them.[115]

[Pg 185]

On the 14th, made twenty miles. Kelly relieved his servant by surrendering to him his riding horse for short distances; and others relieved Blair and Wood in a similar manner. The face of the plain became more broken as we approached the mountains. The waters descending from the lower hills, have cut what was once a plain into isolated bluffs three or four hundred feet in height, surmounted and surrounded with columnar and pyramidal rocks. In the distance they resemble immense fortresses, with towers and bastions as skilfully arranged as they could have been by the best suggestions of {210} art—embattlements raised by the commotions of warring elements—by the storms that have gathered and marshalled their armies on the heights in view, and poured their desolating power over these devoted plains!

The Arkansas, since we left Fort William, had preserved a medium width of a quarter of a mile, the waters still turbid; its general course east south-east; soil on either side as far as the eye could reach, light sand and clayey loam, almost destitute of vegetation.

On the 15th travelled about eighteen miles over a soil so light that our animals sunk over their fetlocks at every step. During the forenoon we kept along the bottom lands of the river. An occasional willow or cotton-wood tree, ragged and grey with age, or a willow bush trembling, it almost seemed, at the tale of desolation that the winds told in passing, were the only relieving features of the general dearth. The usual colour of the soil was a greyish blue. At twelve o'clock we stopped on a plat of low ground which the waters of the river moistened by filtration through the sand, and baited our horses. Here [Pg 186]were forty or fifty decrepid old willows, so poor and shrivelled that one felt, after enjoying {211} their shade in the heat of that sultry day, like bestowing alms upon them. At twelve o'clock we mounted and struck out across the plain to avoid a southward bend in the river of twenty miles in length. Near the centre of this bend in the mouth of the river Fontequebouir, which the trappers who have traversed it for beaver say, rises in James' Peak eighty miles to the north-west by north.[116]

We came upon the banks of this stream at sunset. Kelly had informed us that we might expect to find deer in the groves which border its banks. And, like a true hunter, as soon as we halted at the place of encampment, he sought them before they should hear or scent us. He traversed the groves, however, in vain. The beautiful innocents had, as it afterwards appeared, been lately hunted by a party of Delaware trappers and in consideration of the ill usage received from these gentlemen in red, had forsaken their old retreat for a less desirable but safer one among the distant hills in the north. So that our expectations of game and meat subsided in a supper of 'tole'—plain water porridge. As our appetites were keen, we all relished it well, except the Mexican {212} servant, who declared upon his veracity that 'tole was no bueno.' Our guide was, if possible, as happy at our evening fire as some one else was when he "shouldered his crutch and told how fields were won;" and very much for the same reasons. For, during the afternoon's tramp, much of his old hunting ground had loomed in sight. Pike's and James' peaks showed their bald, cold, shining heads as the sun set; and the mountains on each side of the upper river began to show the irregularities of[Pg 187] their surfaces. So that as we rode along gazing at these stupendous piles of rocks and earth and ice, he would often direct his attention to the outlines of chasms, faintly traced on the shadings of the cliffs, through which various streams on which he had trapped, tumbled into the plains. I was particularly interested by his account of Rio Wolfano, a branch of the Arkansas on the Mexican side, the mouth of which is twelve miles below that of the Fontequebouir. It has two principal branches. The one originates in Pike's peak, seventy or eighty miles in the south; the other rises far in the west among the Eutaw mountains, and has a course of about two hundred miles, nearly parallel with the Arkansas.[117]

{213} We travelled twenty-eight miles on the 16th over broken barren hills sparsely covered with shrub cedars and pines. The foliage of these trees is a very dark green. They cover, more or less, all the low hills that lie along the roots of the mountains from the Arkansas north to the Missouri. Hence the name "Black Hills" is given to that portion of them which lie between the Sweetwater and the mouth of the Little Missouri. The soil of our track to-day was a grey barren loam, gravel knolls and bluffs of sand and limestone.

About four o'clock, P. M., we met an unheard of annoyance. We were crossing a small plain of red sand, gazing at the mountains as they opened their outlines of rock and snow, when, in an instant, we were enveloped in a cloud of flying ants with greyish wings and dark bodies. They fixed upon our horses' heads, necks, and shoulders, in such numbers as to cover them as bees do the sides of a hive when about to swarm. They flew around our own heads too, and covered[Pg 188] our hats and faces. Our eyes seemed special objects of their attention. We tried to wipe them off; but while the hand was passing from one side of the face to the other, the part that was left bare was {214} instantly covered as thickly as before with these creeping, hovering, nauseous insects. Our animals were so much annoyed by their pertinacity, that they stopped in their tracks; and finding it impossible to urge them along, guide them and keep our faces clear of the insects at the same time, we dismounted and led them. Having by this means the free use of our hands and feet, we were able in the course of half an hour to pass the infested sands, and once more see and breathe.

We dined at the mouth of Kelly's Creek, another stream that has its source in James' peak. Encamped at the mouth of Oakley's creek, another branch of the Arkansas.[118] It rises in the hills which lie thirty-five miles to the north. It is a clear, cool little brook, with a pebbly bottom, and banks clothed with shrub cedars and pines. We had a pleasant evening here, a cloudless sky, a cold breeze from the snow-clad mountains, a blazing cedar-wood fire, a song from our merry Joe, a dish of 'tole' and a fine couch of sand. Who wants more comforts than we enjoyed? My debilitated system had begun to thrive under the bracing influence of the mountain air; my companions were well and happy; our {215} horses and mules were grazing upon a plat of rich grass; we were almost within touch of those stupendous ridges of rock and snow which stay or send forth the tempest in its course, and gather in their rugged embrace the noblest rivers of the world.

[Pg 189]

July 17. We made twenty miles to-day among the deep gullies and natural fortresses of this great gateway to the mountains. All around gave evidence that the agents of nature have struggled here in their mightiest wrath, not the volcano, but the floods of ages. Ravines hundreds of feet in depth; vast insular mounds of earth towering in all directions, sometimes surmounted by fragments of mountains, at others, with stratified rocks, the whole range of vision was a flowerless, bladeless desolation! Our encampment for the night was at the mouth of Wood's creek, five miles from the debouchure of the Arkansas from the mountains.[119] The ridges on the south of the river, as viewed from this place, presented an embankment of congregated hills, piled one above another to the region of snow, and scored into deep and irregular chasms, frowning precipices, tottering rocks, and black glistening strata, whose recent fractures indicated that they were continually {216} sending upon the humble hills below weighty testimony of their own superior height and might. Nothing could be more perfectly wild. The summits were capped with ice. The ravines which radiated from their apices were filled with snow far down their course; and so utterly rough was the whole mass, that there did not appear to be a foot of plain surface upon it. Eternal, sublime confusion!

This range runs down the Arkansas, bearing a little south of a parallel with it, the distance of about fifty miles, and then turning southward, bears off to Taos and Santa Fé. At the back of this ridge to the westward, and connected with it, is said to be a very extensive tract of mountains which embrace the sources of the Rio Bravo del Norte, the Wolfano, and other branches of the Arkansas; and a[Pg 190] number of streams that fall into Rio Colorado of the West, and the Gulf of California.[120] Among these heights live the East and West bands of the Eutaws. The valleys in which they reside are said to be overlooked by mountains of shining glaciers, and in every other respect to resemble the valleys of Switzerland. They are a brave, treacherous race, and said to number about eight thousand souls. They {217} raise mules, horses, and sheep, and cultivate corn and beans, trap the beaver, manufacture woollen blankets with a darning-needle, and intermarry with the Mexican Spaniards.

Sixty miles east of these mountains, and fifty south of the Arkansas, stands (isolated on the plain), Pike's Peak, and the lesser ones that cluster around it.[121] This Peak is covered with perpetual snow and ice down one-third its height. The subordinate peaks rise near to the line of perpetual congelation, and stand out upon the sky like giant watchmen, as if to protect the vestal snows above them from the polluting tread of man. On the north side of the river a range of mountains, or hills, as they have been called by those who are in the habit of looking on the Great Main Ridges, rise about two thousand feet above the plain. They resemble, in their general characteristics, those on the south. Like them, they are dark and broken; like them, sparsely covered on their sides with shrub pines and cedars. They diverge also from the river as they descend: and after descending it forty miles, turn to the north, and lose themselves in the heights which congregate around James' Peak.

{218} On the morning of the 18th we rose early, made [Pg 191]our simple repast of tole, and prepared to enter the mountains. A joyful occasion this. The storms, the mud, the swollen streams, the bleakness and barrenness of the Great Prairie Wilderness, in an hour's ride, would be behind us; and the deep, rich vales, the cool streams and breezes, and transparent atmosphere of the more elevated regions, were to be entered.

Wood's Creek, on which we had passed the night, is a cold, heavy torrent, from the northern hills. At the ford, it was about three feet deep, and seven yards wide. But the current was so strong as to bear away two of our saddle-horses. One of these was my Puebla animal. She entered the stream with all the caution necessary for the result. Stepping alternately back, forward, and sidewise, and examining the effect of every rolling stone upon the laws of her own gravity, she finally gathered her ugly form upon one of sufficient size and mobility to plunge herself and rider into the stream. She floated down a few yards, and, contrary to my most fervent desire, came upon her feet again, and made the land. By dint of wading, and partially drowning, and other like agreeable ablutions, we found ourselves at {219} last on the right side of the water: and having bestowed upon it sundry commendatory epithets of long and approved use under like circumstances, we remounted; and shivering in the freezing winds from the neighbouring snows, trotted on at a pace so merry and fast, that three-quarters of an hour brought us to the buttress of the cliffs, where the Arkansas leaps foaming from them.

This river runs two hundred miles among the mountains. The first half of the distance is among a series of charming valleys, stocked with an endless number of deer and elk, which, in the summer, live upon the nutritious wild grass of the vales, and in the winter, upon the buds, twigs, and bark of trees. The hundred miles of its course next below, is[Pg 192] among perpendicular cliffs rising on both sides hundreds, and sometimes thousands, of feet in height. Through this dismal channel, with a rapid current down lofty precipices, and through compressed passes, it plunges and roars to this point, where it escapes nobly and gleefully, as if glad at having fled some fearful edict of nature, consigning it to perpetual imprisonment in those dismal caverns.[122]

Here we entered the Rocky Mountains {220} through a deep gorge at the right, formed by the waters of a little brook which comes down from the north.[123] It is a sweet stream. It babbles so delightfully upon the ear, like those that flowed by one's home, when youth was dreaming of the hopes of coming years in the shade of the hemlock by the family spring. On its banks grew the dandelion, the angelica, the elder, the alder and birch, and the mountain-flax. The pebbles, too, seemed old acquaintances, they were so like those which I had often gathered, with a lovely sister long since dead, who would teach me to select the prettiest and best. The very mountains were dark and mighty, and overhanging, and striped with the departing snows, like those that I viewed in the first years of remembrance, as I frolicked with my brothers on the mossy rocks.

We soon lost sight of the Arkansas among the small pines and cedars of the valley, and this we were sorry to do. The good old stream had given us many a fine cat-fish, and many a bumper of delicious water while we travelled wearily along its parched banks. It was like parting with an old companion that had ministered to our wants, and stood [Pg 193]with us in anxious, dangerous times. It was, therefore, pleasant to hear its voice come {221} up from the caverns like a sacred farewell while we wound our way up the valley.

This gorge, or valley, runs about ten miles in a northwardly direction from the debouchure of the Arkansas, to the dividing ridge between the waters of that river and those of the southern head-waters of the south fork of the Great Platte.

About midway its length, the trail, or Indian track, divides: the one branch makes a circuit among the heights to the westward, terminates in the great valley of the south fork of the Platte, within the mountains, commonly called "Boyou Salade;" and the other and shorter leads northwardly up the gorge to the same point.[124] Our guide carefully examined both trails at the diverging point, and finding the more western one most travelled, and believing, for this reason, the eastward one the least likely to be occupied by the Indians, he led us up to the foot of the mountain which separates it from the vales beyond. We arrived at a little open spot at the base of the height about twelve o'clock. The steepest part of the trail up the declivity was a loose, moving surface of sand and pebbles, constantly falling under its own weight. Other portions were precipitous, lying along overhanging {222} cliffs and the brinks of deep ravines strewn with fallen rocks. To ascend it seemed impossible; but our old Kentuckian was of a different opinion.

In his hunting expeditions he had often ascended and descended worse steeps with packs of beaver, traps, &c. So, after a description of others of a much more difficult nature, which he had made with worse animals and heavier[Pg 194] packs, through storms of hail and heaps of snow; and after the assurance that the Eutaw village of tents, and women, and children, had passed this not many moons ago, we felt nettled at our own ignorance of possibilities in these regions, and drove off to the task. Our worthy guide led the way with his saddle-horse following him; the pack animals, each under the encouraging guardianship of a vigorous goad, and the men and myself leading our riding animals, brought up the rear. Now for a long pull, a strong pull, and a pull not all together, but each leg on its own account. Five or six rods of zigzag clambering, and slipping, and gathering, and tugging, advanced us one on the ascent; and then a halt for breath and strength for a new effort. The puffing and blowing over, a general shout, "go on, go on," started the cavalcade {223} again. The pack animals, with each one hundred and fifty pounds weight, struggled and floundered, as step after step gave way in the sliding sand; but they laboured madly, and advanced at intervals of a few yards, resting and then on again, till they arrived at the rocky surface, about midway the ascent. Here a short pause upon the declivity was interrupted by a call of "onward" from our guide; and again we climbed. The track wound around a beetling cliff, which crowded the animals upon the edge of a frightful precipice. In the most dangerous part of it, my Puebla mare ran her pack against a projecting rock, and for an instant reeled over an abyss three hundred feet in depth. But her fortune favoured her; she blundered away from her grave, and lived to make a deeper plunge farther along the journey.

The upper half, though less steep, proved to be the worst part of the ascent. It was a bed of rocks, at one place small and rolling, at another large and fixed, with deep openings between them; so that our animals were constantly[Pg 195] falling, and tottering upon the brink of the cliffs, as they rose again and made their way among them. An hour and a half of this most dangerous and tiresome {224} clambering deposited us in a grove of yellow pines, near the summit. Our animals were covered with sweat and dirt, and trembled as if at that instant from the race track. Nor were their masters free from every ill of weariness. Our knees smote each other with fatigue, as Belshazzar's did with fear.

Many of the pines on this ridge were two feet in diameter, and a hundred feet high, with small clusters of limbs around the tops. Others were low, and clothed with strong limbs quite near the ground. Under a number of these latter, we had seated ourselves, holding the reins of our riding horses, when a storm arose with the rapidity of a whirlwind, and poured upon us hail, rain, and snow with all imaginable liberality. It was a most remarkable tempest. Unlike those whose monotonous groans are heard among the Green Mountains for days before they assemble their fury around you, it came in its strength at once, and rocked the stately pines to their most distant roots. Unlike those long "blows," which, generated in the frozen zone of the Atlantic seas, bring down the frosty blasts of Greenland upon the warmer climes of the States, it was the meeting {225} of different currents of the aërial seas, lashed and torn by the live thunder, among the sounding mountains. One portion of it had gathered its electricity and mist around James' Peak in the east; another among the white heights north-west; and a third among the snowy pyramids of the Eutaws in the south-west; and, marshalling their hosts, met over this connecting ridge between the eastern and central ranges, as if by general battle to settle a vexed question as to the better right to the Pass; and it was sublimely fought. The opposing storms met nearly at the zenith, and fiercely rolled together their angry masses. As if to carry out the simile I[Pg 196] have here attempted, at the moment of their junction, the electricity of each leaped upon its antagonist transversely across the heavens, and in some instances fell in immense bolts upon the trembling cliffs; and then instantly came a volley of hail as large as grape-shot, sufficient to whiten all the towers of this horrid war. It lasted an hour. I never before, not even on the plains, saw such a movement of the elements. If anything had been wanting to establish the theory, this exhibition sufficed to convince those who saw its {226} movements, and felt its power, that these mountains are the great laboratory of mist, wind, and electricity, which, formed into storms, are sent in such awful fury upon the great plains or prairies that stretch away from their bases to the States, and, that here alone may be witnessed the extreme power of the warring elements.

After the violence of the tempest had abated, we travelled up the remainder of the ascent, and halted a few minutes on the summit to view the scene around us.[125] Behind was the valley up which we had travelled, covered with evergreen shrubs. On the east of this, rose a precipitous wall of stratified rock, two thousand or three thousand feet high, stretching off towards the Arkansas, and dotted here and there with the small shrub pine, struggling from the crevices of the rocks. In the south-west the mountains, less precipitous, rose one above another in a distance, till their blue tops faded into the semblance of the sky. To the east of our position, there was nothing in sight but piles of mountains, whose dark and ragged masses increased in height and magnitude, till they towered in naked grandeur around James' Peak. From that frozen height ran off to the north {227} that secondary range of mountains that lie between the head-waters of the South Fork of the Platte and the [Pg 197]plains. This is a range of brown, barren, and broken ridges, destitute alike of earth and shrub, with an average height of three thousand feet above the plain. On the western side of it, and north of the place where we were viewing them, hills of a constantly decreasing height fall off for fifty miles to the north-west, till they sink in the beautiful valley of Boyou Salade, and then rising again, tower higher and higher in the west, until lost in the haze about the base of the Anahuac range; a vast waste of undusted rocks, without a flower or leaf to adorn it, save those that hide their sweetness from its eternal winters in the glens down which we were to travel.

The Anahuac ridge of the snowy range was visible for at least one hundred miles of latitude; and the nearest point was so far distant that the dip of the horizon concealed all that portion of it below the line of perpetual congelation. The whole mass was purely white. The principal irregularity perceptible was a slight undulation on the upper edge. There was, however, perceptible shading on the lower edge, produced, perhaps, by great lateral swells protruding {228} from the general outline. But the mass, at least ninety miles distant, as white as milk, the home of the frosts of all ages, stretching away to the north by west full a hundred miles, unscaled by any living thing, except perhaps by the bold bird of our national arms,

"Broad, high, eternal, and sublime,
The mock of ages and the twin of time,"

is an object of amazing grandeur, unequalled probably on the face of the globe.

We left this interesting panorama, and travelled down five miles to the side of a little stream running north, and encamped.[126] We were wet from head to foot, and shivering [Pg 198]with cold. The day had indeed been one of much discomfort; yet we had been well repaid for all this by the absorbing freshness and sublimity that hung around us. The lightning bounding on the crags; the thunder breaking the slumber of the mountains; a cooler climate, and the noble pine again; a view of the Great Main snowy range of the "Rocky," "Stone," or "Shining" mountains, south of the Great Gap, from a height never before trodden by a civilized tourist, the sight of the endless assemblage of rocky peaks, among which {229} our weary feet were yet to tread along unexplored waters, were the delights which lay upon the track of the day, and made us happy at our evening fire. Our supper of water porridge being eaten, we tried to sleep. But the cold wind from the snow soon drove us from our blankets to our fire, where we turned ourselves like Christmas turkeys, till morning. The mountain flax grew around our encampment. Every stalk was stiffened by the frosts of the night; and the waters of the brooks were barred with ice. This is the birth-place of the Plattes. From these gorges its floods receive existence, among the sturdy, solemn pines and nursing tempests, twelve miles north of the Arkansas's debouchement from the mountains, and forty miles due west from James' Peak.

On the 19th we travelled in a northward course down the little streams bursting from the hills, and babbling among the bushes. We were upon an Indian trail, full of sharp gravel, that annoyed our animals exceedingly. The pines were often difficult to pass, so thick were they. But the right course was easily discovered among them, even when the soil was so hard as to have received no impression from previous {230} travelling, by small stones which the Eutaws had placed among the branches. About mid-day we saw scattering spears of the wild flax again, and a few small shrubs of the black birch near the water courses. The end[Pg 199]less climbing and ascending of hills prevented our making much progress. At two o'clock we judged ourselves but ten miles from the last night's encampment. A cloud of hail then beginning to pelt and chill us, we took shelter in a small grove of pines. But as the hail had fallen two inches in depth, over the whole adjoining country, every movement of the atmosphere was like a blast of December. Too cold to sleep, we therefore built fires and dried our packs, &c., till the howl of the wolves gave notice of the approach of morning.

Tole for breakfast. It had been our only food for nine days. It seemed strange that we should have travelled one hundred and eighty miles, in a country like that we had passed through since leaving Fort William, without killing an animal. But it ceased to appear so, when our worthy guide informed us that no individual had ever come from the Arkansas, in the region of the Fort, to the mountains, with as little suffering as we had. "It is," said he, "a starving {231} country; never any game found in it. The buffalo come into these valleys from the north through the Bull Pen, and go out there when the storms of the autumn warn them to fly to the south for warm winter quarters. But that valley off there, (pointing to a low smooth spot in the horizon), looks mighty like Boyou Salade, my old stamping ground. If it should be, we will have meat before the sun is behind the snow."[127]

[Pg 200]

We were well pleased with this prospect. Our Mexican servant cried, at the top of his voice, "Esta muy bueno, Señor Kelly, si, muy bueno, este Boyou Salade; mucho carne por nosotros." And the poor fellow had some reasons for this expression of joy, for the tole regimen had been to him what the water gruel of the Mudfog workhouse was to Oliver Twist, except that its excellent flavour had never induced the Mexican "to ask for more." He had, on previous occasions, in company with Kelly, gnawed the ribs of many a fat cow in Boyou Salade; and the instincts of his stomach put him in such a frenzy at the recollection, that although he could only understand the words "Boyou Salade," these were sufficient to induce him to cross {232} himself from the fore-step to the abdomen, and to swear by Santa Gaudaloupe that tole was not food for a Christian mouth.

On the 20th we were early on our way. The small prairie wolf which had howled us to sleep every evening, and howled us awake every morning since we left Independence, was continually greeting us with an ill-natured growl, as we rode along among his hiding places. The streams that were mere rivulets twenty miles back, having received a thousand tributaries, were now heavy and deep torrents. The peaks and mountain swells were clad with hail and snow. Every thing, even ourselves, shivering in our blankets, gave evidence that we were traversing the realms of winter. Still many of the grasses and flowers which usually flourish in high latitudes and elevated places were growing along the radices of the hills, and aided much in giving the whole scene an unusually singular aspect. We were in fine spirits, and in the enjoyment of a voracious appetite. Our expectations of having a shot soon at a buffalo, were perhaps an accessory cause of this last. But be that as it may, we dodged along among the pines and[Pg 201] spruce and hemlock and firs {233} about ten miles, and rose over a swell of land covered with small trees in full view of a quiet little band of buffalo. Ye deities who presided of old over the trencher and goblet, did not our palates leap for a tender loin? A halt—our famous old Kentuckian creeps away around a copse of wood—we hear the crack of his deadly rifle—witness the writhing of the buffalo! He lays himself gently down. All is now silent, intense anxiety to observe whether he will rise again and run, as buffalo often do under the smart of a wound, beyond our reach among the hills. No! he curls his tail as in the last agony; he choaks; he is ours! he is ours!

Our knives are quickly hauled from their sheaths—he is rolled upon his brisket—his hide is slit along the spine, and pealed down midrib; one side of it is cut off and spread upon the sand to receive the meat; the flesh on each side of the spine is pared off; the mouth is opened, and the tongue removed from his jaws; the axe is laid to his rib; the heart—the fat—the tender loins—the blood, are taken out—his legs are rifled of their generous marrow bones; all wrapped in the green hide, and loaded on animals, and off to camp in a charming {234} grove of white pine by a cold stream of water under a woody hill!

Who that had seen us stirring our fires that night in the starlight of bright skies among the mountain forests; who that had seen the buffalo ribs propped up before the crackling blaze—the brisket boiling in our camp-kettles; who that had seen us with open countenances yield to these well cooked invitations to "drive dull care away," will not believe that we accepted them, and swallowed against time, and hunger, and tole? Indeed, we ate that night till there was a reasonable presumption that we had eaten enough; and when we had spent a half-hour in this agreeable employment, that presumption was supported by a pile of[Pg 202] bones, which if put together by Buffon in his best style, would have supported not only that but another presumption to the like effect. Our hearty old Kentuckian was at home, and we were his guests. He sat at the head of his own board, and claimed to dictate the number of courses with which we should be served. "No, no," said he, as we strode away from the bare ribs which lay round us, to our couches of pine leaves, "no, no, I have eaten with you, fared well, and now you {235} must take courage while you eat with me; no, no, not done yet; mighty good eating to come. Take a rest upon it, if you like, while I cook another turn; but I'll insure you to eat till day peeps. Our meat here in the mountains never pains one. Nothing harms here but pills and lead; many's the time that I have starved six and eight days, and when I have found meat, ate all night; that's the custom of the country. We never borrow trouble from hunger or thirst, and when we have a plenty, we eat the best pieces first, for fear of being killed by some brat of an Indian before we have enjoyed them. You may eat as much as you can; my word for it, this wild meat never hurts one. But your chickens and bacon, &c., in the settlements, it came right near shoving me into the Kenyon when I was down there last."

While the excellent man was giving vent to these kind feelings, he was busy making preparations for another course. The marrow bones were undergoing a severe flagellation; the blows of the old hunter's hatchet were cracking them in pieces, and laying bare the rolls of "trapper's butter" within them. A pound of marrow was {236} thus extracted, and put into a gallon of water heated nearly to the boiling point. The blood which he had dipped from the cavity of the buffalo was then stirred in till the mass became of the consistency of rice soup. A little salt and black pepper finished the preparation. It was a fine dish;[Pg 203] too rich, perhaps, for some of my esteemed acquaintances, whose digestive organs partake of the general laziness of their habits; but to us who had so long desired a healthful portion of bodily exercise in that quarter, it was the very marrow and life-blood of whatsoever is good and wholesome for famished carnivorous animals like ourselves. It was excellent, most excellent. It was better than our father's foaming ale. For while it loosed our tongues and warmed our hearts towards one another, it had the additional effect of Aaron's oil; it made our faces to shine with grease and gladness. But the remembrance of the palate pleasures of the next course, will not allow me to dwell longer upon this. The crowning gratification was yet in store for us.

While enjoying the soup, which I have just described, we believed the bumper of our pleasures to be sparkling to the brim; {237} and if our excellent old trapper had not been there, we never should have desired more. But how true is that philosophy which teaches, that to be capable of happiness, we must be conscious of wants! Our friend Kelly was in this a practical as well as theoretical Epicurean. "No giving up the beaver so," said he; "another bait and we will sleep."

Saying this, he seized the intestines of the buffalo, which had been properly cleaned for the purpose, turned them inside out, and as he proceeded stuffed them with strips of well salted and peppered tender loin. Our "boudies" thus made, were stuck upon sticks before the fire, and roasted till they were thoroughly cooked and brown. The sticks were then taken from their roasting position and stuck in position for eating; that is to say, each of us with as fine an appetite as ever blessed a New England boy at his grandsire's Thanksgiving dinner, seized a stick pit, stuck it in the earth near our couches, and sitting upon our[Pg 204] haunches, ate our last course—the desert of a mountain host's entertainment. These wilderness sausages would have gratified the appetite of {238} those who had been deprived of meat a less time than we had been. The envelopes preserve the juices with which while cooking, the adhering fat, turned within, mingles and forms a gravy of the finest flavour. Such is a feast in the mountains.

Since leaving Fort William we had been occasionally crossing the trails of the Eutaw war parties, and had felt some solicitude for the safety of our little band. An overwhelming number of them might fall upon us at night and annihilate us at a blow. But we had thus far selected such encampments, and had such confidence in our rifles and in our dog, who never failed to give us notice of the least movement of a wolf or panther at night, that we had not stationed a guard since leaving that post.

Our guide too sanctioned this course; always saying when the subject was introduced that the dawn of day was the time for Indian attacks, and that they would rise early to find his eyes shut after the howl of the wolf on the hills had announced the approach of light. We however took the precaution to encamp at night in a deep woody glen, which concealed the light of our fire, and slept with our equipments {239} upon us, and our well primed rifles across our breasts.

On the morning of the 21st we were awakened at sunrise, by our servant who had thus early been in search of our animals. The sun rose over the eastern mountains brilliantly, and gave promise of a fine day. Our route lay among vast swelling hills, the sides of which were covered with groves of the large yellow pine and aspen. These latter trees exclude every other from their society. They stand so closely that not the half of their number live until they are five inches in diameter. Those also that grow on[Pg 205] the borders of the groves are generally destroyed, being deprived of their bark seven or eight feet up, by the elk which resort to them yearly to rub off the annual growth of their horns. The snow on the tops of the hills was melting, and along the lower edge of it, where the grass was green and tender, herds of buffalo were grazing. So far distant were they from the vales through which we travelled, that they appeared a vast collection of dark specks on the line of the sky.

By the side of the pebbly brooks, grew many beautiful plants. A species of convolvulus and honeysuckle, two species of {240} wild hops and the mountain flax, were among them. Fruits were also beginning to appear; as wild plums, currants, yellow and black; the latter like those of the same colour in the gardens, the former larger than either the red or black, but of an unpleasant astringent flavour.—We had not, since entering the mountains, seen any indication of volcanic action. The rocky strata and the soil appeared to be of primary formation. We made fifteen miles to-day in a general course of north by west.

On the 22nd we travelled eight miles through a country similar to that we had passed the day before. We were still on the waters of the Platte; but seldom in sight of the main stream. Numerous noisy brooks ran among the hills over which we rode. During the early part of the morning buffalo bulls were often seen crossing our path: they were however so poor and undesirable, that we shot none of them. About ten o'clock we came upon a fresh trail, distinctly marked by hoofs and dragging lodge poles. Kelly judged these "signs" to be not more than twenty four hours old, and to have been made by a party of Eutaws which had passed into {241} Boyou Salade to hunt the buffalo. Hostile Indians in our immediate neighbourhood was by no means an agreeable circumstance to us. We could not[Pg 206] contend with any hope of success against one hundred and fifty tomahawks and an equal number of muskets and bows and arrows. They would also frighten the buffalo back to the bull pen, and thus prevent us from laying in a stock of meat farther along to support us across the desert in advance. We therefore determined to kill the next bull that we should meet, cure the best pieces for packing, and thus prepare ourselves for a siege or a retreat, as circumstances might dictate; or if the Indians should prevent our obtaining other and better meat, and yet not interrupt us by any hostile demonstration in pursuing our journey, we might, by an economical use of what we could pack from this point, be able to reach, before we should perish with hunger, the game which we hoped to find on tributaries of Grand River.

We, therefore, moved on with great caution; and at about two o'clock killed a fine young bull. He fell in a glen through which a little brook murmured along to a copse just below. The bulls in considerable {242} number were manifesting their surplus wrath on the other side of the little wood with as much apparent complacency as certain animals with fewer legs and horns often do, when there is not likely to be any thing in particular to oppose them. But fortunately for the reputation of their pretensions, as sometimes happens to their biped brethren, a circumstance chanced to occur, when their courage seemed waxing to the bursting state, on which it could expend its energies. The blood of their slaughtered companions scented the breeze, and on they came, twenty or more, tail in air, to take proper vengeance.

We dropped our butcher knives, mounted quickly, and were about to accommodate them with the contents of our rifles, when, like many perpendicular bellowers, as certain danger comes, they fled as bravely as they had approached. Away they racked, for buffalo never trot, over the brown[Pg 207] barren hills in the north-east, looking neither to the right nor left, for the long hair around the head does not permit such aberrations of their optics; but onward gloriously did they roll their massive bulks—now sinking in the vales and now blowing up the ascents; stopping {243} not an instant in their career until they looked like creeping insects on the brow of the distant mountain. Having thus vanquished, by the most consummate generalship and a stern patriotism in the ranks never surpassed by Jew or Gentile, these "abandoned rebels," we butchered our meat, and as one of the works of returning peace, loaded it upon our animals, and travelled in search of quaking-asp wood wherewithal to dry it. The traders and trappers always prefer this wood for such purposes, because, when dry, it is more inodorous than any other; and consequently does not so sensibly change the flavour of the meat dried over a fire made of it. Half an hour's ride brought us to a grove of this timber, where we encamped for the night—dried our meat, and Eutaws near or far, slept soundly. In this remark I should except, perhaps, the largest piece of human nature among us, who had, as his custom was, curled down hard-by our brave old guide and slept at intervals, only an eye at a time, for fear of Indians.

23rd. Eighteen miles to-day among rough precipices, overhanging crags, and roaring torrents. There were, however, between the declivities and among the copses of {244} cotton-wood, quaking-asp and fir, and yellow pine, some open glades and beautiful valleys of green verdure, watered by the rivulets gushing from the stony hills, and sparkling with beautiful flowers. Five or six miles from our last encampment, we came upon the brow of a woody hill that overlooked the valley, where the waters on which we were travelling unite with others that come down from the mountains in the north, and from what is properly[Pg 208] called the south fork of the Great Platte, within the mountains. Here we found fresh Indian tracks; and on that account deemed it prudent to take to the timbered heights, bordering the valley on the west, in order to ascertain the position of the Indians, their numbers, &c., before venturing within their reach. We accordingly, for three hours, wound our way in silence among fallen timber and thickset cotton-wood; climbed every neighbouring height, and examined the depressions in the plain, which could not be seen from the lower hills.

Having searched the valley thoroughly in this manner, and, perceiving from the peaceable and careless bearing of the small bands of buffalo around its borders, {245} that if there were Indians within it they were at some distance from our trail, we descended from the heights, and struck through a deep ravine across it, to the junction of the northern and southern waters of the stream.

We found the river at this place a hundred and fifty yards wide, and of an average depth of about six feet, with a current of five miles the hour. Its course hence is E. N. E. about one hundred miles, where it rushes through a magnificent kenyon[128] or chasm in the eastern range of the Rocky Mountains to the plains of the Great Prairie Wilderness. This valley is a congeries or collection of valleys. That is, along the banks of the main and tributary streams a vale extends a few rods or miles, nearly or quite separated from a similar one beyond, by a rocky ridge or bute or a rounded hill covered with grass or timber, which protrudes from the height towards the stream. This is a bird's-eye view of Boyou Salade, so named from the circumstance that native rock salt is found in some parts of it. We were in the central portion of it. To the north, and south, and [Pg 209]west, its isolated plains rise one above the other, always beautiful, and covered {246} with verdure during the months of spring and summer. But when the storms of autumn and winter come, they are the receptacles of vast bodies of snow, which fall or are drifted there from the Anahuac Ridge, on its western horizon. A sweet spot this, for the romance of the future as well as the present and past. The buffalo have for ages resorted here about the last days of July, from the arid plains of the Arkansas and the Platte; and thither the Eutaws and Cheyennes from the mountains around the Santa Fé, and the Shoshonies or Snakes and Arrapahoes from the west, and the Blackfeet, Crows and Sioux from the north, have for ages met, and hunted, and fought, and loved. And when their battles and hunts were interrupted by the chills and snows of November, they have separated for their several winter resorts. How wild and beautiful the past as it comes up fledged with the plumage of the imagination!

These vales, studded with a thousand villages of conical skin wigwams, with their thousands of fires blazing on the starry brow of night! I see the dusky forms crouching around the glowing piles of ignited logs, in family groups whispering {247} the dreams of their rude love; or gathered around the stalwart form of some noble chief at the hour of midnight, listening to the harangue of vengeance or the whoop of war, that is to cast the deadly arrow with the first gleam of morning light. Or may we not see them gathered, a circle of braves around an aged tree, surrounded each by the musty trophies of half a century's daring deeds. The eldest and richest in scalps, rises from the centre of the ring and advances to the tree. Hear him:

"Fifty winters ago, when the seventh moon's first horn hung over the green forests of the Eutaw hills, myself and five others erected a lodge for the Great Spirit, on the[Pg 210] snows of the White Bute, and carried there our wampum and skins and the hide of a white buffalo. We hung them in the Great Spirit's lodge, and seated ourselves in silence till the moon had descended the western mountain, and thought of the blood of our fathers that the Cumanches had killed when the moon was round and lay on the eastern plain. My own father was scalped, and the fathers of five others were scalped, and their bloody heads were gnawed by the wolf. We could not live while our fathers' lodges were empty, {248} and the scalps of their murderers were not in the lodges of our mothers. Our hearts told us to make these offerings to the Great Spirit who had fostered them on the mountains; and when the moon was down, and the shadows of the White Bute were as dark as the hair of a bear, we said to the Great Spirit, 'No man can war with the arrows from the quiver of thy storms; no man's word can be heard when thy voice is among the clouds; no man's hand is strong when thy hand lets loose its winds. The wolf gnawed the heads of our fathers, and the scalps of their murderers hang not in the lodges of our mothers. Great father spirit, send not thine anger out; hold in thy hand the winds; let not thy great voice drown the death-yell while we hunt the murderers of our fathers.' I and the five others then built in the middle of the lodge a fire, and in its bright light the Great Spirit saw the wampum, and the skin, and the white buffalo hide. Five days and nights, I and the five others danced and smoked the medicine, and beat the board with sticks, and chanted away the power of the great Medicine, that they might not be evil to us, and bring sickness into our bones. Then when the stars were shining {249} in the clear sky, we swore (I must not tell what, for it was in the ear of the Great Spirit) and went out of the lodge with our bosoms full of anger against the murderers of our fathers, whose bones were in[Pg 211] the jaws of the wolf, and went for their scalps to hang them in the lodges of our mothers. See him strike the aged tree with his war club again, again, nine times. So many Cumanches did I slay, the murderers of my father, before the moon was round again, and lay upon the eastern plain."

This is not merely an imagined scene in former times in Boyou Salade. All the essential incidents related, happened yearly in that and other hunting grounds, whenever the old braves assembled to celebrate the valorous deeds of their younger days. When these exciting relations were finished, the young men of the tribe, who had not yet distinguished themselves, were exhorted to seek glory in a similar way. Woe to him who passed his manhood without ornamenting the door of his lodge with the scalps of his enemies!

This valley is still frequented by some of these tribes as a summer haunt, when the heat of the plains renders them uncomfortable. The Eutaws were scouring it when we {250} passed. We therefore crossed the river to its northern bank, and followed up its northern branch eight miles,[129] with every eye keenly searching for the appearance of foes; and made our encampment for the night in a deep chasm, overhung by the long branches of a grove of white pines. We built our fire in the dry bed of a mountain torrent, shaded by bushes on the side towards the valley, and above, by a dense mass of boughs, so effectually, as not only to conceal the blaze from any one in the valley, but also to prevent the reflection from gilding too high the conspicuous foliage of the neighbouring trees. After our horses had fed themselves, we tied them close to our couches, that they might not, in case of an attack, be driven away before we [Pg 212]had an opportunity of defending them; and when we retired, threw water upon our fire that it might not guide the Indians in a search for us; put new caps upon our arms, and trusting to our dog and mule, the latter in such cases always the most skilful to scent their approach, tried to sleep. But we were too near the snows. Chilling winds sucked down the vale, and drove us from our blankets to a shivering watch during the remainder of the night. Not a cap, however, was burst. Alas! for {251} our brave intentions, they ended in an ague fit.

Our guide informed us, that the Eutaws reside on both sides of the Eutaw or Anahuac mountains; that they are continually migrating from one side to the other; that they speak the Spanish language; that some few half breeds have embraced the Catholic faith; that the remainder yet hold the simple and sublime faith of their forefathers, in the existence of one great creating and sustaining cause, mingled with a belief in the ghostly visitations of their deceased Medicine men or diviners; and that they number a thousand families. He also stated that the Cheyennes are a band of renegadoes from the Eutaws and Cumanches; and that they are less brave and more thievish than any other tribe living in the plains south of Arkansas.[130]

We started at seven o'clock in the morning of the 24th, travelled eight miles in a north by west direction, killed another buffalo, and went into camp to jerk the meat. Again we were among the frosts and snows and storms of another dividing ridge. Our camp was on the height of land between the waters of the Platte and those of Grand River, the largest southern {252} branch of the Colorado of the west.[131]

From this eminence we had a fine view of Boyou Salade, and also of the Anahuac range, which we had before seen from the ridge between the Arkansas and the southern waters of the Platte. To the south-east, one hundred and sixty miles, towered the bald head of James' Peak; to the east, one hundred miles distant, were the broken and frowning cliffs through which the south fork of the Platte, after having gathered all its mountain tributaries, forces its roaring cascade course to the plains. To the north, the low, timbered and grassy hills, some tipped with snow, and others crowned with lofty pines, faded into a smooth, dim, and regular horizon.


[111] For the Ute (Eutaws) see De Smet's Letters in our volume xxvii, p. 165, note 35. The Cheyenne are noted in our volume v, p. 140, note 88.—Ed.

[112] Bent's Fort, on the South Platte, is usually spoken of as St. Vrain's, being in charge of one of the brothers by that name, who were partners of the Bents. It was situated on the right bank of the river near the easterly bend of the stream, about opposite the mouth of St. Vrain's Creek, and some seventeen miles east of Longs Peak. The site is still a landmark, being near the present Platteville, Weld County. Frémont visited this fort on his journeys of 1842 and 1843, and was hospitably entertained. Shortess, who went with what Farnham calls the "mutineers," says they were detained six weeks at Fort St. Vrain, awaiting a party bound for Green River. At this fort Dr. F. Adolph Wislizenus found them September 3, 1839, on his return journey from the mountains; see his Ein Ausflug nach den Felsen-Gebirgen (St. Louis, 1840), a somewhat rare but interesting narrative of his journey, written in German. He speaks of the fort as Penn's (Bents) and Savory's, and found two other rival posts in the vicinity. This post was also known as Fort George.—Ed.

[113] This was a temporary fort, being maintained but a few years. Wislizenus speaks of it as being four miles above St. Vrain's, and occupied by French-Canadian and Mexican trappers. Farnham's observation of the irrigable capacity of this region was correct. Storage reservoirs now hold the water, and the valley is especially adapted to fruit raising.—Ed.

[114] Farnham intends the Huerfano, now known as Wet Mountains, a range that leaves the great central system south of Pike's Peak and trends south-eastwardly to Huerfano River.—Ed.

[115] By James's Peak Farnham intends the present Pike's Peak; see ante, p. 111, note 50. What he here calls Pike's was one of the Spanish Peaks, which would be in a south-western direction from his camping ground. In recent years the name James Peak has been transferred to a mountain not far from Central City, on the borders of Gilpin, Clear Creek, and Grand counties Colorado.—Ed.

[116] For Fountain Creek (Fontaine qui bouit), which enters the Arkansas at the present city of Pueblo, see our volume xvi, p. 25, note 10. It derives its name from the present Manitou Springs at the eastern base of Pike's Peak.—Ed.

[117] For this stream (Huerfano) see our volume xvi, p. 53, note 35. Its two branches are the Cuchara, which rises near the Spanish Peaks, and the main Huerfano.—Ed.

[118] The names of these two creeks appear to have been local titles applied by Farnham's guide, and named in honor of roving trappers. Kelly's was probably Turkey Creek, flowing into the Arkansas from the north, in north-west Pueblo County; Oakley's would therefore be the present Beaver Creek, in eastern Fremont County—see our volume xvi, p. 44, note 27, for another appellation of this stream.—Ed.

[119] From Farnham's location of this stream it would seem to be Field Creek, down which a branch of the Denver and Rio Grande Railway comes to join the main line at Florence—Ed.

[120] The first range is the Wet Mountains, for which see ante, p. 183, note 110. The extensive tract of western mountains is the Sangre de Cristo range.—Ed.

[121] For Farnham's "Pike's Peak" see ante, p. 184, note 111. Pike did not approach these elevations within many miles.—Ed.

[122] Farnham was at the entrance of the Grand Cañon (or Royal Gorge) of the Arkansas—a chasm much of which was formerly impassable even to travellers on foot; but it is now threaded by the Denver and Rio Grande Railway, over a roadbed blasted and hewn from the solid rock, at one narrow point the track being carried on steel rafters bridging the chasm.—Ed.

[123] Probably Oil Creek, by which Pike made his way over to South Park; see our volume xvi, p. 34, note 14.—Ed.

[124] See Coues's description of the two passes, in Pike's Expeditions, p. 465, note 7. The westernmost goes by way of West Oil or Ten Mile Creek; the eastern, nearly straight north over the divide between the waters of the Arkansas and the Platte, by what is known as Twin Creek Pass.—Ed.

[125] The divide at this point has an altitude above sea level of over nine thousand feet.—Ed.

[126] The upper waters of Twin Creek, which is an eastern affluent of the South Platte.—Ed.

[127] Bayou Salade, now known as South Park, received its earlier name from the salt springs and a slough found therein, which attracted buffalo and other game. It is a high valley forty miles long by thirty wide, with undulating, park-like surface, and an area of 1,200,000 acres, at an elevation of from 8,000 to 10,000 feet. It was well known to early hunters for whom it remained a game paradise as late as 1865. Pike explored its southern portion in 1806-07. Frémont crossed it on his return in 1844, and witnessed an Indian battle there. Gold was discovered on its borders in the early days of the Colorado mining excitement. To-day it is traversed by several railways and is much frequented by tourists. See our volume xv, p. 292, note 141.—Ed.

[128] For an engraving of Platte Cañon see our volume xv, p. 283. It is now traversed by the Denver, Leadville, and Gunnison Railway.—Ed.

[129] Farnham's topographical descriptions lack data for determining the exact places en route; but this northern branch was probably Crooked Trail Creek, up which the Denver, Leadville, and Gunnison (South Park) railway line proceeds to Breckenridge or Boreas Pass. The travellers were here not far from the foothills of Mount Lincoln.—Ed.

[130] This information with regard to tribal affinities is incorrect—the Ute and Comanche are of Shoshonean stock, while the Cheyenne are an outlying branch of the Algonquian family. See our volume v, p. 140, note 88.—Ed.

[131] This is the divide known as Boreas (or Breckenridge) Pass, which has an over-sea elevation of 11,470 feet at the summit; it is now traversed by the railway mentioned in note 125, ante.—Ed.

[Pg 213]


An Ascent—A Misfortune—A Death—The Mountain of the Holy Cross—Leaping Pines—Killing a Buffalo—Asses and Tyrants—Panther, &c.—Geography—Something about descending the Colorado of the West—Dividing Ridges—A Scene—Tumbleton's Park—A War Whoop—Meeting of Old Fellow Trappers—A Notable Tramp—My Mare—The etiquette of the Mountains—Kelly's Old Camp, &c.—A Great Heart—Little Bear River—Vegetables and Bitterness—Two White Men, a Squaw and Child—A Dead Shot—What is Tasteful—Trapping—Blackfoot and Sioux—A Bloody Incident—A Cave—Hot Spring—The Country—A Surprise—American and Canadian Trappers—The Grand River—Old Park—Death before us—The Mule—Despair.

The ascent to this height was not so laborious as the one near the Arkansas. It lay up the face of a mountain which formed a larger angle with the plane of the horizon than did the other. But it was clothed with a dense forest of pines, a species of double-leaved hemlock, and spruce and fir trees, which prevented our animals from {254} falling over the precipices, and enabled us to make long sweeps in [Pg 214]a zigzag course, that much relieved the fatigue of the ascent. We however met here a misfortune of a more serious nature to us, than the storm that pelted us on the other ridge. One of the horses belonging to our guide sickened just before arriving at the summit, and refusing to bear farther the burthen which he had heretofore borne with ease and apparent pride, sunk under it. We roused him; he rose upon his legs, and made a willing attempt to do his duty; but the poor animal failed in his generous effort.

We, therefore, took off his pack, put it upon my saddle horse, and drove him before us to the summit, from whence we enjoyed the beautiful prospect we have just described. But we felt little interest in the expanse of sublimity before us; our eyes and sympathies, too, were turned to the noble animal which was now suffering great pain. He had been reared in the mountains; and it seemed to be his highest pleasure to tread along their giddy brinks. Every morning at his post, with the other horse belonging to his master, he would {255} stand without being fastened, and receive his burthen; and with every demonstration of willingness, bear it over the mountains and through torrents till his task was ended in the night encampment. Such a horse, in the desolate regions we were traversing, the bearer of our wearing apparel and food, the leader of our band of animals, the property of our kind old Kentuckian, the one-third of all his worldly estate, was no mean object of interest. After noticing him awhile, we perceived symptoms of his being poisoned, administered whatever medicine we possessed suited to the case, and left him to his fate for the night. Rain during the day, frost during the night; ice in our camp kettles an inch in thickness.

We were out early on the morning of the 25th, and found our guide's horse living. We accordingly saddled, packed and started down the valley of a small head stream of Grand[Pg 215] River.[132] The sick horse was driven slowly along for about five miles when he refused to go farther. It now became evident that he had been eating the wild parsnips at our last encampment on the other side of the ridge. That he must die became, therefore, certain, and we unpacked {256} to see the breath from his body before he should be left to the merciless wolves. He died near daylight down, and as the path before us was rough and bushy, we determined to remain on the spot for the night. Our anxiety for the life of this excellent animal had well nigh led us to pass unobserved one of the most singular curiosities in nature—a cross of crystallized quartz in the eastern face of a conical mountain!

On the western side of the stream which we were following down, were a collection of butes or conical peaks clustered around one, the top of which was somewhat in the form of the gable end of an ancient church. This cluster was flanked on each side by vast rolls or swells of earth and rock, which rose so high as to be capped with snow. In the distance to the West, were seen through the openings between the butes, a number of spiral peaks that imagination could have said formed the western front of a vast holy edifice of the eternal hills. On the eastern face of the gable bute were two transverse seams of what appeared to be crystallized quartz. The upright was about sixty feet in length, the cross seam about twenty feet, thrown {257} athwart the upright near its top and lying parallel to the plane of the horizon. I viewed it as the sun rose over the eastern mountains and fell upon the glittering crystals of this emblem of the Saviour's suffering, built with the foundations[Pg 216] and treasured in the bosom of these granite solitudes. A cross in a church, however fallen we may suppose it to be from the original purity of worship, excites, as it should, in the minds of all reasonable men, a sacred awe arising from the remembrance of the scene in Judea which spread darkness like the night over the earth and the sun. But how much more impressive was this cross of living rock—on the temple of nature where priest never trod; the symbol of redeeming love, engraven when Eden was unscathed with sin, by God's own hand on the brow of his everlasting mountains.

The trappers have reverently named this peak, the "Mountain of the Holy Cross."[133] It is about eight hundred feet in height above the level of the little brook, which runs a few rods from its base. The upper end of the cross is about one hundred feet below the summit. There are many dark {258} and stately groves of pine and balsam fir in the vicinity. About the brooks grow the black alder, the laurel, and honeysuckle, and a great variety of wild flowers adorn the crevices of the rocks. The virgin snows of ages whiten the lofty summits around; the voice of the low murmuring rivulets trembles in the sacred silence: "O solitude, thou art here," the lip moves to speak. "Pray, kneel, adore," one seems to hear softly breathed in every breeze. "It is holy ground."

26th. On march at six o'clock and travelled down the small stream which had accompanied us on the 24th and 25th. As we advanced, the valleys opened, and the trees, pine, fir, white oak, cotton wood, quaking-asp, &c., became larger and taller. The wild flowers and grass became[Pg 217] more luxuriant. As we were on an Indian trail, our course was as nearly a right line as the eye of that race could trace among the lower hills. Hence we often left the stream and crossed the wood swells, not hills, not mountains; but vast swelling tracts of land that rise among these vales like half buried spheres, on which, frequently for miles about us, pine and fir trees of the largest {259} size had been prostrated by the winds. To leap our animals over these, and among them, and into them, and out of them, and still among them, floundering, tearing packs and riders—running against knots and tumbling upon splintery stubs and rocks, were among the amusements of getting through them. The groves of small quaking-asp too, having been killed by the elk, in some places had fallen across our track so thickly that it became necessary to raise the foot over one at almost every step.

Here my Puebla mare performed many a feat of "high and lofty tumbling." She could leap the large pines, one at a time, with satisfaction to herself, that was worthy of her blood. But to step, merely step, over one small tree and then over another, seemed to be too much condescension. Accordingly she took a firm unalterable stand upon her reserved rights, from which neither pulling nor whipping seemed likely to move her. At length she yielded, as great men sometimes do, her own opinion of constitutional duty to the will of the people, and leaped among them with a desperation that ought to have annihilated a square mile of such obstacles. But instead {260} thereof, she turned a somersault into about the same quantity of them, and there lay "alone in her glory," till she was tumbled out and set up again.

The valley, during the day's journey, had appeared five miles in width.[134] On its borders hung dark mountains of [Pg 218]rock, some of which lying westward, were tipped with shining ice. Far beyond these appeared the Anahuac ridge. Snow in the south was yet in sight—none seen in the east north. The valley itself was much broken, with minor rocky declivities, bursting up between the "swells," and with fields of large loose stones laid bare by the torrents. The buffalo were seen grazing in small detached herds on the slopes of the mountains near the lower line of snow, those green fields of the skies. Many "elk signs," tracks, &c., were met; but none of these animals were seen. Our guide informed me that their habit is to "follow the snow." In other words, that as the snow in summer melts away from the lowlands, they follow its retiring banks into the mountains; and when it begins in autumn to descend again, they descend with it, and pass the winter in the valley. {261} He also accounted for the absence of the male deer in a similar way; and added that the does, when they bring forth their young, forsake their male companions until the kids are four or five months old; and this for the reason that the unnatural male is disposed to destroy his offspring during the period of its helplessness. Some rain fell to-day.

27th. We commenced our march this morning at six o'clock, travelled, as our custom usually was, till the hour of eleven, and then halted to breakfast, on the bank of the stream. The face of the country along the morning's trail was much the same as that passed over the day before; often beautiful, but oftener sublime. Vast spherical swells covered with buffalo, and wild flowering glens echoing the voices of a thousand cascades, and countless numbers of lofty peaks crowding the sky, will give perhaps a faint idea of it. [Pg 219]As the stream that we had been following bore to the westward of our course, we in the afternoon struck across a range of low hills to another branch of it that came down from the eastern mountains, and encamped upon its banks. These hills were composed of hard gravel, covered with two or three inches of {262} black loam. In the deep vales the mountain torrents had swept away the soil, and left the strata bare for miles along their courses. The mountain flax and the large thistle flourished everywhere. The timber was the same in kind as we had passed the three last days. The groves were principally confined to the lower portions of the ravines which swept down from the snowy heights. The Anahuac range in the west appeared to dip deeper in the horizon, and recede farther from us. One half only of its altitude as seen from the dividing ridges was now visible. We were doubtless lessening our own altitude materially, but the difference in the apparent height of this ridge was in part produced by its increased distance. It had evidently begun to tend rapidly towards the Pacific.

An aged knight of the order of horns strode across our path near four o'clock, and by his princely bearing invited our trapper to a tilt. His Kentucky blood could not be challenged with impunity. He dropped upon one knee—drew a close sight—clove the bull's heart in twain, and sent him groaning upon the sand. He was very poor, but as we had reason to fear that we were leaving the buffalo {263} "beat," it was deemed prudent to increase the weight of our pack with the better portion of his flesh. Accordingly the tongue, heart, leaf fat and the "fleece" were taken, and were being lashed to our mule, when an attack of bilious bravery seized our giant in the extremities, and he began to kick and beat his horse for presuming to stand upon four legs, or some similar act, without his permission, in such gallant style, that our mule on which the meat was placed,[Pg 220] leaped affrighted from us and dropped it on the sand. We were all extremely vexed at this, and I believe made some disparaging comparisons between the intellects of asses and tyrants. Whether our mule or Smith felt most aggrieved thereby we were never informed. But the matter was very pleasantly disposed of by our benevolent old guide. He turned the meat with his foot and kicked it good-naturedly from him, saying in his blandest manner, "No dirt in the mounting but sand; the teeth can't go that;" and mounted his horse for the march. We travelled twenty miles and encamped.

28th. Eighteen miles down the small valleys between the sharp and rugged hills; crossed a number of small streams running {264} westward. The mountains along our way differed in character from any we had heretofore passed. Some of them were composed entirely of earth, and semi-elliptical in form; others embraced thousands of acres of what seemed to be mere elevations of fine brown gravel, rising swell above swell, and sweeping away to the height of two thousand feet, destitute of timber save a few slender strips which grew along the rills that trickled at long intervals down their sides.[135] We encamped again on the bank of the main stream. It was one hundred yards in width; water a foot and a half deep, current six miles the hour.

29th. To-day we struck Grand River, (the great southern branch of the Colorado of the west), twenty miles from our last night's encampment. It is here three hundred yards wide; current, six miles the hour; water, from six to ten feet in depth, transparent, but, like the atmosphere, of much higher temperature than we had met with since leaving the[Pg 221] Arkansas. The valleys that lie upon this stream and some of its tributaries, are called by the hunters "The Old Park." If the qualifying term were omitted, they would be well described by their name.[136] Extensive meadows running {265} up the valleys of the streams, woodlands skirting the mountain bases and dividing the plains, over which the antelope, black and white-tailed deer, the English hare, the big horn or mountain sheep, the grisly, grey, red and black bears, and the buffalo and elk range—a splendid park indeed; not old, but new as in the first fresh morning of the creation.

Here also are found the prairie and the large grey wolf, the American panther, beaver, polecat, and land otter. The grisly bear is the largest and most ferocious—with hair of a dirty-brown colour, slightly mixed with those of a yellowish white. The males not unfrequently weigh five or six hundred pounds. The grey bear is less in size, hair nearly black, interspersed along the shoulders and hips with white. The red is still less, according to the trappers, and of the colour indicated by the name. The black bear is the same in all respects as those inhabiting the States. The prairie dog is also found here, a singular animal, partially described in a previous page; but as they may be better known from Lieutenant Pike's description of them, I shall here introduce it:[137] "They live in towns and villages, having an evident police established {266} in their communities. The sites of these towns are generally on the brow of a hill, near some creek or pond, in order to be convenient to water and to be [Pg 222]exempt from inundation. Their residence is in burrows, which descend in spiral form." The Lieutenant caused one hundred and forty kettles of water to be poured into one of their holes in order to drive out the occupant, but failed. "They never travel more than half a mile from their homes, and readily associate with rattlesnakes. They are of a dark brown colour, except their bellies, which are red. They are something larger than a grey squirrel, and very fat; supposed to be graminivorous. Their villages sometimes extend over two or three miles square, in which there must be innumerable hosts of them, as there is generally a burrow every ten steps. As you approach the towns, you are saluted on all sides by the cry of "wishtonwish," uttered in a shrill piercing manner."

The birds of these regions are the sparrow-hawk, the jack-daw, a species of grouse of the size of the English grouse; colour brown, a tufted head, and limbs feathered to the feet; the raven, very large, turkey, turkey-buzzards, geese, all the varieties of ducks {267} known in such latitudes, the bald and grey eagle, meadow lark and robin red breast. Of reptiles, the small striped lizard, horned frog and garter snake are the most common. Rattlesnakes are said to be found among the cliffs, but I saw none.

We forded Grand River, and encamped in the willows on the northern shore. The mountains in the west, on which the snow was lying, were still in sight. The view to the east and south was shut in by the neighbouring hills; to the north and north-east it was open, and in the distance appeared the Wind River and other mountains, in the vicinity of the 'Great Gap.'[138]

During the evening, while the men were angling for[Pg 223] trout, Kelly gave me some account of Grand River and the Colorado of the west. Grand River, he said, is a branch of the Colorado.[139] It rises far in the east among the precipitous heights of the eastern range of the Rocky Mountains, about midway from the Great Gap and the Kenyon of the south Fork of the Platte. It interlocks the distance of sixty miles with the waters of the Great Platte; its course to the point where we crossed, is nearly due west. Thence it continues in a west by north course one hundred and {268} sixty miles, where it breaks through the Anahuac Ridge. The cliffs of this Kenyon are said to be many hundred feet high, and overhanging; within them is a series of cascades, which, when the river is swollen by the freshets in June, roar like Niagara.[140]

After passing this Kenyon, it is said to move with a dashing, foaming current in a westerly direction fifty miles, where it unites with Green River, or Sheetskadee, and forms the Colorado of the west. From the junction of these branches the Colorado has a general course from the north-east to the south-west, of seven hundred miles to the head of the Gulf of California. Four hundred of this seven hundred miles is an almost unbroken chasm of Kenyon, with perpendicular sides, hundreds of feet in height, at the bottom of which the waters rush over continuous cascades. This Kenyon terminates thirty miles above the Gulf. To this point the river is navigable.[141] The country on each [Pg 224]side of its whole course is a rolling desert of brown loose earth, on which the rains and dews never fall.

A few years since, two Catholic Missionaries and their servants, on their way from the mountains to California, attempted to descend the Colorado. They have never {269} been seen since the morning they commenced their fatal undertaking.[142] A party of trappers and others made a strong boat and manned it well, with the determination of floating down the river to take the beaver, which they supposed to live along its banks; but they found themselves in such danger after entering the kenyon, that with might and main they thrust their trembling boat ashore, and succeeded in leaping upon the crags, and lightening it before it was swallowed in the dashing torrent. But the death which they had escaped in the stream, still threatened them on the crags. Perpendicular and overhanging rocks frowned above them; these they could not ascend. They could not cross the river; they could not ascend the river, and the foaming cascades below forbade the thought of committing themselves again to their boat.

Night came on, and the difficulty of keeping their boat from being broken to pieces on the rocks, increased the anxieties of their situation. They must have passed a horrible night; so full of fearful expectations, of the certainty of starvation on the crags, or drowning in the stream. In the morning, however, they examined the rocks again, and found a small projecting crag {270} some twenty feet above them, over which, after many efforts, they threw their small boat-rope and drew the noose tight. One of their number[Pg 225] then climbed to explore. He found a platform above the crag, of sufficient size to contain his six companions, and a narrow chasm in the overhanging wall through which it appeared possible to pass to the upper surface. Having all reached the platform, they unloosed their lasso, and, bracing themselves as well as they could, with their rifles in the moving, dry earth beneath their feet, they undertook the ascent. It was so steep that they were often in danger of being plunged together in the abyss below. But by digging steps in the rocks, (where they could be dug with their rifle-barrels), and by making use of their lasso where it could be used, they reached the upper surface near sunset, and made their way back to the place of departure.[143]

This is a mountain legend, interesting, indeed, but—

"I cannot tell how the truth may be,
I tell the tale as 'twas told to me:"

At daylight, on the 30th, our cavalcade was moving across the woody ridges and verdant valleys between the crossings of {271} Grand River and its great north fork.[144] We struck that stream about ten o'clock. Its water was beautifully clear, average depth two feet, and current four miles the hour. It is said to take its rise in the mountains, near the south side of the 'Great Gap,' and to flow, in a south-westerly course, through a country of broken and barren plains, into Grand River, twenty miles below the crossings. We ascended rapidly all the day. There was no trail to guide us; but our worthy guide knew every moun[Pg 226]tain-top in sight. Bee lines through immense fields of wild sage and wormwood, and over gravelly plains—a short halt for a short breakfast—constant spurring, and trotting, and driving, deposited us at sunset, at the foot of a lofty mountain, clothed with heavy timber. This was the dividing ridge between the waters of Grand and Green Rivers. It was necessary to cross it. We therefore, turned out the animals to feed, ate a scanty morsel of dried meat, and went to our couches, for the strength requisite for the task. About the middle of the night the panthers on the mountain gave us a specimen of their growling capacities. It was a hideous noise: deep and broken by the most unearthly screams! They were gathering for prey; {272} for our horses and ourselves. We drove up the animals, however, tied them near the camp, built a large and bright fire, and slept till daylight.

At sunrise, on the morning of the 31st, we stood on the summit of the mountain, at the base of which we had slept the previous night.[145] It was the very place from which I wished to view the outline of the valley of Grand River, and the snowy ridge of the Anahuac; and it was as favourable an hour for my purpose as I could have selected from the whole day. The sun had just risen over the eastern heights, sufficiently to give the valley of the Grand River to the south-east of me, those strong contrasts of light and shade which painters know so well how to use when sketching a mountain scene at early morning, or when the sun is half hidden at night. The peaks were bright, the deep shadows sprang off from the western sides, above faintly, and deepening as they descended to the bases, where the deep brown of the rocks and earth gave the vales the semblance of undisturbed night.

[Pg 227]

The depression of the valley, as I have termed it, was in truth a depression of a vast tract of mountains; not unto a plane {273} or vale; but a great ravine of butes and ridges, decreasing in height from the limit of vision in the north-east, east and south—and falling one below another toward the stream, into the diminutive bluffs on its banks. The valley below the crossing was less distinctly seen. Its general course only could be distinguished among the bare hills upon its borders. But the great main chain, or Anahuac range, came sweeping up from the Arkansas more sublime, if possible, in its aspect than when viewed from the heights farther south. It was about one hundred miles distant, the length of the section in view about one hundred and sixty; not a speck on all its vast outline. It did not show as glaciers do; but like a drift of newly-fallen snow heaped on mountains, by some mighty efforts of the elements; piled from age to age; and from day to day widening and heightening its untold dimensions. Its width, its height, its cubic miles, its mass of rock, of earth, of snow, of ice, of waters ascending in clouds to shower the lowlands or renew its own robes of frosts, of waters sent rushing to the seas, are some of the vast items of this sublimity of existence. The light of the rising {274} sun falling upon it through the remarkable transparent atmosphere of these regions, made the view exceedingly distinct. The intervening space was thickly dotted with lesser peaks, which, in the lengthened distance, melted into an apparent plain. But the elevation of the great Anahuac ridge, presenting its broad, white side to the morning light in that dry, clear, upper air, seemed as distinctly seen as the tree at my side. In the north-west it manifestly tended toward the north end of the Great Salt Lake. But I must leave this absorbing scene for the journey of the day. The ascent of the dividing ridge, from which I took this extensive survey of all[Pg 228] this vast, unknown, unexplored portion of the mountains, was comparatively easy. We threaded, indeed, some half dozen precipices in going up, within an inch of graves five hundred feet deep. Yet, as none of us lost our brains on the rocks below, these narrow and slippery paths can not be remembered in connexion with incidents either remarkable or sad.

With this notice of mountain turnpikes, I shall be obliged to my readers to step along with me over the bold summit and look at the descent, yes, the descent, my friends. {275} It is a bold one: one of the men said "four miles of perpendicular;" and so it was. Or if it was not, it ought to have been, for many very good reasons of mathematical propriety that are as difficult to write as to comprehend. It was partially covered with bushes and trees, and a soft vegetable mould that yielded to our horses' feet, but we, by dint of holding, bracing, and sliding, arrived safely at the bottom, and jogged on merrily six or seven miles over barren ridges, rich plains, and woody hills to the head of Tumbleton park. We had turned out our animals to eat, hung our camp-kettle over the fire to boil some bits of grisly meat that we had found among the rubbish of our packs, and were resting our wearied frames in the shade of the willows, conversing about the tracts which we had seen five miles back; one supposing that they were made by Indians, the Arrapahoes or the Shoshonies, while our old guide insisted that they were made by white men's horses! and assigned as a reason for this opinion, that no Indians could be travelling in that direction, and that one of the horses had shoes on its fore feet; when the Arrapahoe war-whoop and the clattering of hoofs upon the side hill above, brought us to our feet, rifle in hand, {276} for a conflict. Kelly seemed for a moment to be in doubt as to his own conclusions relative to the tracks, and as to the colour of those uncere[Pg 229]monious visitors. But as they dashed up, he leaped the brook, and seized the hands of three old fellow-trappers. It was a joyful meeting. They had often stood side by side in battle, and among the solemn mountains dug the lonely grave of some slaughtered companion, and together sent the avenging lead into the hearts of the Blackfeet. They were more than brothers, and so they met. We shared with them our last scraps of meat.

They informed us that they had fallen in with our trail, and followed us under a belief that we were certain friends whom they were expecting from St. Louis with goods for the post at Brown's Hole; that the Arrapahoes were fattening on buffalo in the Bull Pen, on the north fork of the Platte;[146] that the Shoshonies or Snakes were starving on roots on Great Bear River; that the Blackfeet and Sioux were in the neighbourhood; that there was no game in the mountains except on the head waters of Snake River; and that they themselves were a portion of a party of white men, Indians, and squaws, on their way to Bent's Fort on the {277} Arkansas, to meet Mr. Thomson with the goods before named; that we might reasonably anticipate starvation and the arrows of the Sioux, and other kindred comforts along our journey to Brown's Hole. Mr. Craig, the chief of the party, and part owner with Mr. Thomson, assured us that the grass on the Columbia was already dry and scarce; and if there should prove to be enough to sustain our horses on the way down, that the snows on the Blue Mountains would prevent us from reaching Vancouver till the spring, and kindly invited us to pass the winter at his post. After two hours' tarry with us he and his party returned to their camp.

[Pg 230]

Tumbleton's Park is a beautiful savannah, stretching north-westerly from our camp in an irregular manner among groves of pine, spruce, fir, and oak.[147] Three hundred yards from us rose Tumbleton's Rock, one of those singular spires found in the valley of the mountains, called Butes. It was about eighty feet in height, twenty feet in diameter at the base, and terminated at the top in a point. Soon after our new acquaintances had left us, we "caught up" and struck across the hills in a north-easterly course toward the north fork of Little Bear River. The travelling was very rough, now among {278} fields of loose stones and bushes, and now among dense forests; no trail to aid us in finding our way; new ground even to our guide. But he was infallible.

Two hours' riding had brought us upon an Indian trail that he had heard of ten years before; and on we rushed among the fallen pines, two feet, three feet in diameter, raised, as you see, one foot, two feet from the ground. The horses and mules are testing their leaping powers. Over they go, and tip off riders and packs, &c., &c. A merry time this. There goes my Puebla mare, head, heels, and neck, into an acre of crazy logs. Ho, halt! Puebla's down, mortally wounded with want of strength! She's unpacked, and out in a trice; we move on again. Ho! whistle that mule into the track! he'll be off that ledge there. Move them on! move! cut down that sapling by the low part of that fallen tree! drive over Puebla! There she goes! long legs a benefit in bestriding forests. Hold! hold! hold! that pack-horse yonder has anchored upon a pine! Dismount! back her out! she has hung one side of herself and pack upon that knot! away! ho! But silence! a deer springs up in yonder thicket! Kelly creeps forward—halt! hush! {279}[Pg 231] hu! Ah! the varlet! he is gone; a murrain on his fat loins! a poor supper we'll have to-night! no meat left, not a particle; nor coffee, tea, nor salt! custom of society here to starve! suppose you will conform! Stay, here's trouble! but they move! one goes down well! another, another, and another! My Puebla mare, reader, that six foot frame standing there, hesitating to descend that narrow track around the precipice! she goes over it! bravely done! A ten feet leap! and pack and all stuck in the mud. That mule, also, is down in the quagmire! a lift at the pack there, man! the active, tireless creature! he's up and off. Guide, this forest is endless! shan't get out to-night. But here we go merrily onward! It is dark enough for the frogs of Egypt! Halt! halt! ho! Puebla down again—laid out among the logs! Pull away upon that pack there, man! help the sinner to her feet again for another attempt to kill herself. Beautiful pines, firs, and hemlocks, these, reader; but a sack of hurricanes has been let loose among them not long since. The prostrate shingle timber, eh? 'twould cover a roof over the city of London; and make a railroad to run the Thames into Holland. Halt! halt! unpack! we camp here to-night.

{280} A little prairie this, embosomed, nestled, &c., among the sweet evergreen woodlands. Wait a little now, reader, till we turn these animals loose to feed, and we'll strike up a fire wherewithal to dry our wet garments, and disperse a portion of this darkness. It is difficult kindling this wet bark. Joseph, sing a song; find a hollow tree; get some dry leaves. That horse is making into the forest! better tie him to a bough! That's it; Joseph, that's a youthful blaze! give it strength! feed it oxygen! it grows. Now for our guest. Seat yourself, sir, on that log; rather damp comfort—the best we have—homespun fare—the ton of the country! We're in the primeval state, sir. We regret our[Pg 232] inability to furnish you food, sir. But as we have not, for the last few days indulged much in that merely animal gratification, we beg you to accommodate yourself with a dish of Transcendentalism; and with us await patiently a broiled steak a few days along the track of time to come.

It was ten o'clock at night when we arrived at this encampment. It had been raining in torrents ever since nightfall. The rippling of a small stream had guided us after the darkness shut in. Drenched with rain, {281} shivering with cold, destitute of food, and with the appetite of wolves, we availed ourselves of the only comforts within our reach—a cheering pine-knot fire, and such sleep as we could get under the open heavens in a pelting storm.

The general face of the country through which the afternoon's travel had carried us, was much broken; but the inequalities, or hills and valleys, to a very considerable extent, were covered with a rich vegetable loam, supporting a heavy growth of pine, spruce, quaking-asp, &c. The glades that intervened were more beautiful than I had seen. Many were covered with a heavy growth of timothy or herds grass, and red top in blossom. Large tracts in the skirts of the timber were thickly set with Sweet-Sicily. The mountain flax was very abundant. I had previously seen it in small patches only; but here it covered acres as densely as it usually stands in fields, and presented the beautiful sheet of blue blossoms so graceful to the lords of the plough.

I had noticed some days previously, a few blades of the grasses just named, standing in a clump of bushes; but we were riding rapidly, and could not stop to examine {282} them, and I was disposed to think that my sight had deceived me. What! the tame grasses of Europe, all that are valuable for stock, the best and most sought by every intelligent farmer in Christendom; these indigenous to the vales of the Rocky mountains? It was even so.

[Pg 233]

August 1st. As our horses had found little to eat during the past night, and seemed much worn by the exceeding fatigues of the previous day, we at early dawn drew them around our camp, loaded the strongest of them with our packs, and led and drove the poor animals through three miles more of standing and fallen timber, to the opening on Little Bear River, and turned them loose to feed upon the first good grass that we found.[148] It chanced to be in one of Kelly's old encampments; where he had, some years before, fortified himself with logs, and remained seven days with a sick fellow trapper. At that time the valley was alive with hostile Indians; but the good man valued the holy principles of humanity more than his life, and readily put it at hazard to save that of his companion. "A fearful time that," said he; "the redskins saw every turn of our heads during those seven days and nights. But I baited our horses within {283} reach of my rifle during the day, and put them in that pen at night; so that they could not rush off with them, without losing their brains. The buffalo were plenty here then. The mountains were then rich. The bulls were so bold that they would come close to the fence there at night, and bellow and roar till I eased them of their blood by a pill of lead in the liver. So you see I did not go far for meat. Now, the mountains are so poor that one would stand a right good chance of starving, if he were obliged to hang up here for seven days. The game is all driven out. No place here for a white man now. Too poor, too poor. What little we get, you see, is bull beef. Formerly, we ate nothing but cows, fat and young. More danger then, to be sure; but more beaver too; and plenty [Pg 234]of grease about the buffalo ribs. Ah! those were good times; but a white man has no more business here."

Our general course since entering the mountains at the Arkansas, had been north-west by west. It now changed to north-west by north. Our horses and mules, having eaten to their satisfaction the rich grass about our guide's old encampment, we moved on down Little Bear River. The {284} country, as we descended, became more and more barren.

The hills were destitute of timber and grasses; the plains bore nothing but prickly pear and wild wormwood. The latter is a shrub growing from two to six feet in height. It branches in all directions from the root. The main stem is from two to four inches in diameter at the ground, the bark rough, of a light greyish colour and very thin. The wood is firm, fine grained, and difficult to break. The leaves are larger, but resemble in form and colour those of the common wormwood of the gardens. The flavour is that of a compound of garden wormwood and sage: hence it has received the names of "wild wormwood" and "wild sage." Its stiff and knotty branches are peculiarly unpleasant to the traveller among them. It stands so thickly over thousands of acres of the mountain valleys, that it is well nigh impossible to urge a horse through it; and the individual who is rash enough to attempt it, will himself be likely to be deprived of his moccasins, and his horse of his natural covering of his legs. There are two species of the prickly pear (cactus) here. The one is the plant of low growth, thick elliptical leaves armed with thorns, {285} the same as is found in the gardens of certain curious people in the States; the other is of higher growth, often reaching three feet; the colour is a deep green. It is a columnar plant without a leaf; the surface of the stalk is checked into diamonds of the most perfect proportions, swelling regularly[Pg 235] from the sides to the centre. At the corners of these figures grow strong thorns, from an inch to an inch and a half in length. Six inches from the ground, branches shoot from the parent stalk in all directions, making an angle with it of about forty-five degrees, and growing shorter as the point of union with the central stalk increases in height. The consistency of the whole plant is alternately pulpy and fibrous. We were making our tedious way among these thorny companions, musing upon our empty stomachs, when we were overtaken by two men, a squaw and child, from Craig's party. They made their camp with us at night. Nothing to eat, starving and weak; we followed the example of the squaw, in eating the inner portion of large thistle-stalks.

2nd. We rose at daybreak, somewhat refreshed by sleep, but weak, weak, having eaten but little for four days. The longings {286} of appetite—they are horrible! Our guide was used to long fasts, and was therefore little incommoded. He, however, had been out with his rifle, since the peep of day, and as we were lifting the packs upon our mules, it cracked in the direction of the trail we were about to travel. We hastened away to him with the eagerness of starving men, and found him resting unconcernedly upon his rifle, waiting for us to enjoy with him the roasted loins of an elk, which had tumbled from a neighbouring cliff, in obedience to his unerring aim.

Leaving his saddle-horse to pack the meat on, passed along a mile, and encamped among the willows on the bank of Little Bear River. The first work, after turning loose our animals, was to build a fire to cook meat. Our squaw companion thought otherwise. She selected a place for her camp beneath the willows, cleared a spot wide enough for her bed, formed an arch of the boughs overhead, covered it with a piece of buffalo tent leather, unloosed her infant from its prison, and laid it upon skins in the shade she had formed.[Pg 236] After this, the horses of herself and husband were unharnessed, and turned loose to feed. She was a good, cleanly, affectionate body, {287} equally devoted to the happiness of her child, husband, and horses; and seemed disposed to initiate us into every little piece of knowledge that would enable us to discover the wild edible roots of the country, the best method of taking fish, hoppling horses, tying knots in ropes, repairing saddles, &c., which experience had taught her.

Our fire had just begun to burn brightly, when our guide arrived with the elk. It was very much bruised by its fall from the cliff when shot. Yet it was meat; it was broiled; it was eaten; it was sweet. No bread, or vegetables, or salt, to the contrary, it was delicious. Four days' fasting is confessed to be an excellent panacea for a bad appetite; and as all good and wholesome rules work both ways, it is without doubt a tasteful addition to bad food. I must, however, bear my humble testimony to the fact, that meat alone, unqualified with gravy, unsprinkled with salt or pepper, unaided by any vegetable or farinaceous accompaniment, is excellent food for men. It neither makes them tigers nor crocodiles. On the contrary, it prevents starvation, when nothing else can be had, and cultivates industry, the parent of virtue, in all the multiplied departments of the gastric system.

{288} 3rd. Remained in camp all day to refresh our animals, to eat, and hear yarns of mountain life. During these conversations, the great dangers of a residence among the mountains was often reverted to. One class of them was said to arise from the increasing scarcity of buffalo and beaver among them. This circumstance compelled the trappers to move over a wide range of country, and consequently, multiplied the chances of falling in with the Sioux and Blackfeet, their deadliest enemies—enemies on[Pg 237] whom no dependence could be placed other than this, that they always fight well whenever and wherever met. Our new friends related, in this connexion, the death of one of their old companions, a brave old trapper of the name of Redman. This man, and another called Markhead, were trapping on the head-waters of Green River, when they were discovered by a war party of young Sioux, and robbed of their horses. This was a great annoyance to them. The loss of the value of their animals was inconvenient for the poor men; but the loss of their services in transporting their traps and furs, and "possibles," (clothing, cooking utensils, &c.,) was severely felt. It was necessary to recover them, or "cache;" that is, bury in some secret place in the dry sand, {289} their remaining property: forsake their hunt, and abandon all their prospects of gain for the season. Redman had lived with the Sioux, and relying on their former friendship for him in their village, determined to go with Markhead, and attempt to reason a Sioux war party into a surrender of their plunder. They approached them rifle in hand, and held a parley near the Pilot Bute.[149] The result was, that the Indians demanded and obtained their rifles, discharged them at their owners, killed Redman instantly, and severely wounded his companion. This occurred in the spring of 1839.

4th. We were early on route this morning, down the banks of Little Bear River; course north-west. Our track lay so low, that the mountains were seldom seen. A portion of the Anahuac ridge in the south-west, was the only height constantly in view. The plains, as they are called, on either side of the river, were cut into vast ravines and bluffs. In their side sometimes appeared a thin stratum of slate. Few other rocky strata were seen during a march[Pg 238] of fifteen miles. About twelve o'clock, we came upon a cave formed by the limestone and sulphur deposit of a small stream that burst from a hill hard by. The water had, {290} by constant depositions, formed an elevated channel some five rods down the face of the hillside, at the termination of which it spread itself over a circular surface of one hundred and fifty or two hundred feet in circumference. In the centre of this, was an orifice, down which the water trickled into the cave below. As little of the cave could be seen from the ground above, myself and two others attempted to explore it. We found the roof hung with beautifully crystallized sulphur, and the bottom strewn with large quantities of the same material in a pulverized state. The odour was so offensive, however, that we were glad to retreat before we had formed a very perfect estimate of its extent and contents. It was about six rods long, eight feet wide, and four feet high. Near it were a number of warm springs. On the bluff, a few rods above it, was a small tract of fused rocks. In all the circle of vision, however, there were no elevations that indicate any powerful volcanic action in former times; nor any from which these rocks could have tumbled or been thrown. The warm springs, however, in the vicinity may, perhaps, indicate their origin.

The face of the country passed to-day {291} was dry and barren. A single quaking-asp tree here and there on the sterile bottom lands, and small strips of cotton wood, whose tops peered from the deep gorges just above the level of the wormwood plains, and a few withered patches of the wild grasses among the patched bluffs, present its whole aspect.

The sun had nearly set before we arrived at the desired place of encampment, the junction of the two principal forks of Little Bear River.[150] When within half a mile of [Pg 239]it, one of the trappers who had joined us, suddenly started his horse into a quick gallop in advance of the rest of the party. We were surprised by this sudden movement, and hastened after him. As we rose a sharp knoll, our surprise was changed to pleasure on seeing him in friendly converse with a white face, a fellow-trapper, one of the "white men" of the mountains. He was a French Canadian, fourteen days from Brown's Hole. We were soon across the river, and in his camp among the cotton-wood. Here we found three others to welcome us, and give us information of the movements of the Indians. They had been attacked by a Sioux war party, a few days before on Little Snake River, but had escaped {292} with no other loss than that of a hat and a favourite dog. Their opinion was that we should have the pleasure of meeting them on their way to Brown's Hole. This prospect was extremely gratifying to our noble old Kentucky guide. "D—n them," said he; "I'll try to pick up one of the rascals. Redman was as fine a fellow as ever came to the mountains, and they shot him with his own rifle. He was a fool to let them have it; he ought to have shot one of them, d—n 'em, and then died, if he must."

Our elk meat was diminishing fast, under the kind administration of our own and our friends' appetites; and the certain prospect that we should obtain no more for eight days was a source of no inconsiderable uneasiness to us. And yet we gave Ward, Burns, the squaw, and the four French trappers, being destitute of food, as freely as they would have given to us under similar circumstances, the best piece, and as much as they would eat for supper and breakfast. These solitary Frenchmen were apparently very [Pg 240]happy. Neither hunger nor thirst annoy them, so long as they have strength to travel, and trap, and sing. Their camps are always merry, and they cheer {293} themselves along the weary march in the wilderness with the wild border songs of "Old Canada." The American trappers present a different phase of character. Habitual watchfulness destroys every frivolity of mind and action. They seldom smile: the expression of their countenances is watchful, solemn, and determined. They ride and walk like men whose breasts have so long been exposed to the bullet and the arrow, that fear finds within them no resting-place. If a horse is descried in the distance, they put spurs to their animals, and are at his side at once, as the result may be, for death or life. No delay, no second thought, no cringing in their stirrups; but erect, firm, and with a strong arm, they seize and overcome every danger, or "perish," as they say, "as white men should," fighting promptly and bravely.

5th. This morning we were to part with Burns and Ward, and the French trappers. The latter pursued their way to the "Old Park," as they called the valley of Grand River, in pursuit of beaver; the former went into the heights in the south-west, for the same object, and the additional one of waiting there the departure of the Sioux and Blackfeet. These Americans had interested {294} us in themselves by their frankness and kindness; and before leaving them, it was pleasant to know that we could testify our regard for them by increasing their scanty stock of ammunition. But for every little kindness of this description, they sought to remunerate us tenfold, by giving us moccasins, dressed deer and elk skins, &c. Every thing, even their hunting shirts upon their backs, were at our service;—always kindly remarking when they made an offer of such things, that "the country was filled with skins, and they could get a supply when they should need them."

[Pg 241]

About ten o'clock, we bade these fearless and generous fellows a farewell as hearty and honest as any that was ever uttered; wishing them a long and happy life in their mountain home; and they bade us a pleasant and prosperous journey. We took up our march again down Little Bear River for Brown's Hole. It was six or eight "camps," or days' travel, ahead of us; the way infested with hostile Indians—destitute of game and grass; a horrid journey! We might escape the Sioux; we might kill one of our horses, and so escape death by starvation! But these few chances of saving our lives were enough. Dangers of {295} the kind were not so appalling to us then as they would have been when leaving the frontier. We had been sixty odd days among the fresh trails of hostile tribes, in hourly expectation of hearing the war-whoop raised around us; and certain that if attacked by a war party of the ordinary number, we should be destroyed. We had, however, crept upon every height which we had crossed with so much caution, and examined the plains below with so much care, and when danger appeared near, wound our way among the timber and heights till we had passed it with so much success, that our sense of danger was blunted to that degree, and our confidence in our ability to avoid it so great, that I verily believe we thought as little of Indians as we did of the lizards along our track.

We still clung to the stream. It was generally about fifty yards wide, a rapid current, six inches deep, rushing over a bed of loose rocks and gravel, and falling at the rate of about two hundred feet to the mile. During the day, a grisly bear and three cubs and an elk showed themselves. One of the men gave chase to the bears, with the intention of killing one of them for food; but they eluded his pursuit by running into brush, through which a horse {296} could not penetrate with sufficient speed to overtake them. The man in pursuit, however, found a charming prize among the brush;[Pg 242] a mule—an excellent pack mule, which would doubtless be worth to him at Brown's Hole £20. It was feeding quietly, and so tame as to permit him to approach within ten yards, without even raising its head over the hazel bushes that partly concealed it. A double prize it was, and so accidental; obtained at so little expense; ten minutes time only—two pounds a minute! But alas for the £20! He was preparing to grasp it, and the mule most suddenly—most wonderfully—most cruelly metamorphosed itself into an elk! fat as marrow itself, and sufficient in weight to have fed our company for twelve days. It fled away, before our "maid and her milk pail companion" could shake his astonished locks, and send a little lead after it, by way of entreaty, to supply us starving wretches with a morsel of meat.

After this incident had imparted its comfort to our disappointed appetites, we passed on, over, around, in, and among deep ravines, and parched, sterile, and flinty plains for the remainder of our ten miles' march, and encamped on the bank of the river. The last of our meat was here cooked and {297} eaten. A sad prospect! No game ahead, no provisions in possession. We caught three or four small trout from the river, for breakfast, and slept.

I had now become much debilitated by want of food and the fatigues of the journey. I had appropriated my saddle horse to bear the packs that had been borne by Kelly's before its death; and had, consequently, been on foot ever since that event, save when my guide could relieve me with the use of his saddle beast. But as our Spanish servant, the owner and myself, had only his horse's services to bear us along, the portion to each was far from satisfying to our exceeding weariness. Blair and Wood also, had had only one horse from El Puebla. We were, therefore, in an ill condition to endure a journey of seven days, over a thirsty country, under a burning sun, and without food.


[132] This was the upper stretch of Blue River. Rising in the continental divide, it flows in three branches which unite at Dillon, Summit County, thence continuing in a north-westerly course, into Grand River, on the south-western border of Middle Park.—Ed.

[133] The present Holy Cross Mountain is a high peak (14,176 feet) north-west of Leadville and forming the end of the great Sawatch range. Its cross is formed by longitudinal and transverse chasms generally filled with snow. The mountain described by Farnham was on the eastern slopes of the Blue range, in Summit County.—Ed.

[134] Farnham was travelling through one of the richest mineral districts in Colorado. Gold was discovered on the upper tributaries of the Blue—the Snake, Swan, and Ten Mile creeks—as early as 1859. Silver and carbonates were later found in the vicinity of Breckenridge. The entire region is rich in minerals, and there is also considerable arable land in Blue River valley.—Ed.

[135] These were the Williams River Mountains that bound Blue River valley on the north-east, separating it from Williams Fork, a parallel tributary of Grand River.—Ed.

[136] "Old Park" is that now known as Middle Park—a broad valley fifty by seventy miles, the source of Grand River, and now embraced in Grand County, Colorado. Its name "Old Park" is said to have arisen from the fact that after being persistently worked by hunters the game was driven into North Park, which was then termed "New Park," whereupon Middle became "Old Park." See Chittenden, Fur-Trade, ii, p. 750.—Ed.

[137] See Coues's edition of Pike's Expeditions, pp. 430, 431.—Ed.

[138] For the South Pass, or "Great Gap," see Wyeth's Oregon, in our volume xxi, p. 58, note 37. Wind River Mountains are noted in Townsend's Narrative in the same volume, p. 184, note 35.—Ed.

[139] Grand River, the eastern tributary of the Colorado, rises in two branches in Middle Park, flows west, and thence on a long, south-westward (not north-west) course nearly three hundred and fifty miles until it unites with the Green, in south-eastern Utah, to form the Colorado.—Ed.

[140] From the place where it leaves Middle Park, to its union with the Gunnison, Grand River is practically a series of cañons. What is locally known as Grand River Cañon is a stretch about sixteen miles in length, above Glenwood Springs, through which runs the Denver and Rio Grande Railway; it is thought by many to surpass in majesty the Royal Gorge of the Arkansas.—Ed.

[141] This should be three hundred miles, not thirty. For the great Cañon of the Colorado, see Pattie's Narrative in our volume xviii, p. 137, note 67, and the references therein cited.—Ed.

[142] There is apparently no other record of this disaster unless it may be an imperfect reminiscence of the explorations of the friar Francisco Garcés, who was murdered (1781) at his mission, not lost on the river. See Elliott Coues, On the Trail of a Spanish Pioneer (New York, 1900).—Ed.

[143] In 1869, Major J. W. Powell found some wreckage in Lodore Cañon, on Green River, which Frederick S. Dellenbaugh, Romance of the Colorado River (New York, 1902), pp. 112, 131, thinks may have belonged to the party of trappers whose adventures are cited by Farnham.—Ed.

[144] It is difficult to know what stream Farnham intends by the "great north fork" of the Grand, which has almost no northern tributaries of any size. Probably the course followed was up Muddy River, a considerable stream rising in the divide between North and Middle Parks and for about forty miles flowing south into the Grand, nearly opposite the mouth of Blue River.—Ed.

[145] This must be some pass in Park range, which here forms the watershed between the Grand and Green systems.—Ed.

[146] North (or New) Park was frequently called by trappers the Bull Pen. It is the source of the North Platte, which rises therein in many branches, uniting near the north or upper end of the park.—Ed.

[147] Probably this is the plateau now known as Egeria Park, at the upper waters of Little Bear (or Yampah) River.—Ed.

[148] Little Bear (more frequently known as Yampah) River rises in the south-eastern corner of Routt County, flows in a northerly direction for thirty miles, then bends abruptly westward, and for a hundred miles drains the north-western corner of Colorado; it enters Green River just below Lodore Cañon, on the boundary between Colorado and Utah.—Ed.

[149] The Three Tetons were sometimes spoken of as Pilot Knobs or Buttes. See Townsend's Narrative in our volume xxi, p. 209, note 49.—Ed.

[150] The forks of the Little Bear are the junction of Elk Head Creek with the former, not far from the modern town of Craig. The more usual route to Brown's Hole came over the South Fork of the North Platte, which heads with Elk Head Creek.—Ed.[Pg 243]


Bear Hunt—Sulphur Puddle—The River—Wolves and their Fare—Dog Eating—Little Snake River—Thirst—Deserts—Mountains—Mountain Hottentots—Brown's Hole—Fort David Crockett—Traders—Winter and its Hilarities—Love—The Way to get a Wife—A Recommendation to Civilized People—The Colorado of the West—Club Indians—The Shoshonies—An Indian Temperance Society—The Crows—The Blackfeet—Unburied Skeletons—The Arrapahoes, and Citizenship among them—War Parties—Lodge of the Great Spirit—Religious Ceremonies—The Vow and an Incident—The First Shoshonie who saw a White Man.

6th August. Eighteen miles to-day over the barren intervales of the river. The wild wormwood and prickly pear were almost the only evidences of vegetative powers which the soil presented. A rugged desolation {2} of loam and sand bluffs, barren vales of red earth, and an occasional solitary boulder of granite; no mountains even, to relieve the dreary monotony of the sickening sight. About twelve o'clock it was pleasant to see a small band of antelopes show themselves on the brink of a bluff.

We halted, and attempted to approach them; but they had been hunted a few days before by the French trappers, whom we had met, and by no means relished our companionship. Away they ran like the wind. Our hopes of finding game were at an end; the French trappers had seen, on all their way out, no other game than this band of antelopes. Our faithful greyhound could be eaten as a last resource, and we travelled on. Our excellent guide insisted upon walking nearly all the way that I might ride. This was inestimably kind in him. The act flowed from his own goodness; for, during our long journey together, he had never failed to take every opportunity to make me comfortable. We arranged our camp to-night with unusual care. The Sioux were among the hills on the right,[Pg 244] and every preparation was therefore made to receive an attack from them. But like many other expectations of the {3} kind, this vanished as the beautiful mountain morn dawned upon the silent desert.

7th. To-day we travelled across a great southward bend in the river.[152] The face of the country a desert—neither tree nor shrub, nor grass, nor water in sight. During the afternoon we fell in with an old grisly bear and two cubs. It was a dangerous business, but starvation knows no fear.

Kelly and Smith, having horses that could run, determined to give chase and shoot one cub, while the greyhound should have the honour of a battle with the other. Under this arrangement the chase commenced. The old bear, unfaithful to her young, ran ahead of them in her fright, and showed no other affection for them than to stop occasionally, raise herself on her hind feet, and utter a most piteous scream. The horses soon ran down one cub, and the greyhound the other, so that in half an hour we were on the route again with the certain prospect of a supper when we should encamp. Had we found water and wood where we killed our meat, we should have believed it impossible to have proceeded further without food; but as necessity seldom deals in mercy, she {4} compelled us in this case, to travel till dark, before we found wood enough to cook our food, and water enough to quench our parching thirst. At last, turning from our track and following down a deep ravine that ran toward the river, we came upon a filthy, oozing sulphurous puddle which our horses, though they had had no water the entire day, refused to drink. There was no alternative, however, between drinking this and thirsting still, and we submitted to the[Pg 245] lesser of two evils. We drank it; and with the aid of dry wormwood for fuel, boiled our meat in it. These cubs were each of about twelve pounds weight. The livers, hearts, heads, and the fore quarters of one of them, made us a filthy supper. It, however, served the purpose of better food as it prevented starvation. We had travelled eighteen miles.

8th. The morning being clear and excessively warm, we thought it prudent to seek the river again, that we might obtain water for ourselves and animals. They had had no grass for the last twenty-four hours; and the prospect of finding some for the poor animals upon the intervales, was an additional inducement to adopt this course. We accordingly wound down the ravine two {5} or three miles, struck the river at a point where its banks were productive, and unpacked to feed them, and treat ourselves to a breakfast of cub meat. Boiled or roasted, it was miserable food. To eat it, however, or not to eat at all, was the alternative. Furthermore, in a region where lizards grow poor, and wolves lean against sand banks to howl, cub soup, without salt, pepper, &c., must be acknowledged to be quite in style.

Having become somewhat comfortable by feasting thus, we travelled on down this river of deserts twenty miles, and encamped again on its banks. At this encampment we ate the last of our meat; and broke the bones with our hatchet for the oily marrow in them. The prospect of suffering from hunger before we could arrive at Brown's Hole, became every hour more and more certain. The country between us and that point was known to be so sterile, that not even a grisly bear was to be hoped for in it. It was a desert of black flint, sand and marl, rendered barren by perpetual drought.

9th. Travelled twenty-three miles along the river—[Pg 246]nothing to eat, not even a thistle stalk. At night we tried to take {6} some fish; the stream proved as ungenerous as the soil on its banks.

10th. Made fifteen miles to-day; country covered with wild wormwood; at intervals a little bunch grass—dry and dead; face of the country formerly a plain, now washed into hills. Our dog was frantic with hunger; and although he had treated us to a cub, and served us with all the fidelity of his race, we determined in full council to-night, if our hooks took no fish, to breakfast on his faithful heart in the morning. A horrid night we passed: forty-eight hours without a morsel of food! Our camp was eight miles above the junction of Little Bear and Little Snake Rivers.

11th. This morning we tried our utmost skill at fishing. Patience often cried 'hold' but the appearance of our poor dog would admonish us to continue our efforts to obtain a breakfast from the stream. Thus we fished and fasted till eight o'clock. A small fish or two were caught—three or four ounces of food for seven starving men! Our guide declared the noble dog must die! He was accordingly shot, his hair burnt off, and his fore quarters boiled and eaten! Some of the men declared that dogs made excellent mutton; but on this point, there {7} existed among us what politicians term an honest difference of opinion. To me, it tasted like the flesh of a dog, a singed dog; and appetite keen though it was, and edged by a fast of fifty hours, could not but be sensibly alive to the fact that, whether cooked or barking, a dog is still a dog, every where. After our repast was finished, we saddled and rode over the plains in a northerly direction for Brown's Hole. We had been travelling the last five days, in a westerly course; and as the river continued in that direction, we left it to see it no more, I would humbly hope,[Pg 247] till the dews of Heaven shall cause its deserts to blossom and ripen into something more nutritive than wild wormwood and gravel.

We crossed Little Snake River about ten o'clock. This stream is similar in size to that we had just left.[153] The water was clear and warm; the channel rocky and bordered by barren bluffs. No trees grew upon its banks where we struck it; though I was informed that higher up, it was skirted with pretty groves of cotton wood. But as the Sioux war party which had attacked the French trappers in this neighbourhood, was probably not far from our trail, perhaps on it, and near us, we spent little time in examining either groves or deserts; for {8} we were vain enough to suppose that the mere incident of being scalped here would not be so interesting, to ourselves at least, as would be our speedy arrival at Craig and Thomson's post—where we might eat Christian food and rest from the fatigues of our journey. For these, and several other palpable reasons, we drove on speedily and silently, with every eye watchful, every gun well primed, every animal close to his fellows, till ten o'clock at night. We then halted near a place where we had been told by the French trappers, we could find a spring of water. The day had been excessively warm, and our thirst was well nigh insufferable. Hence the long search for the cooling spring to slake its burnings. It was in vain. Near midnight therefore it was abandoned by all, and we wrapped ourselves in our blankets, hungry, thirsty, and weary, and sunk to rest upon the sand. Another dreadful night! Thirst, burning thirst! The glands cease to moisten the mouth, the throat becomes dry and feverish, the lungs cease [Pg 248]to be satisfied with the air they inhale, the heart is sick and faint; and the nerves preternaturally active, do violence to every vital organ. It is an incipient throe of death.

12th. We arose at break of day, and {9} pursued our journey over the grey, barren wastes. This region is doomed to perpetual sterility. In many portions of it there appears to be a fine soil. But the trappers say that very little rain or snow falls upon it; hence its unproductiveness. And thus it is said to be with the whole country lying to the distance of hundreds of miles on each side of the whole course of the Colorado of the West. Vast plateaux of desolation, yielding only the wild wormwood and prickly pear! So barren, so hot, so destitute is it of water that can be obtained and drunk, that the mountain sheep, and hare even, animals which drink less than any others that inhabit these regions, do not venture there. Travellers along that stream are said to be compelled to carry it long distances upon animals, and draw it where it is possible so to do, with a rope and skin bucket from the chasm of the stream. And yet their animals frequently die of thirst and hunger; and men often save their lives by eating the carcasses of the dead, and by drinking the blood which they from time to time draw from the veins of the living.

Between this river and the Great Salt Lake, there is a stream called Severe River, which rises in the high plateaux to the S. E. {10} of the lake, and running some considerable distance in a westerly course, terminates in its own lakes. On the banks of this river there is said to be some vegetation, as grasses, trees, and edible roots. Here live the "Piutes" and "Land Pitches," the most degraded and least intellectual Indians known to the trappers. They wear no clothing of any description—build no shelters. They eat[Pg 249] roots, lizards, and snails. Their persons are more disgusting than those of the Hottentots.[154]

They provide nothing for future wants. And when the lizard and snail and wild roots are buried in the snows of winter, they are said to retire to the vicinity of timber, dig holes in the form of ovens in the steep sides of the sand hills, and, having heated them to a certain degree, deposit themselves in them, and sleep and fast till the weather permits them to go abroad again for food. Persons who have visited their haunts after a severe winter, have found the ground around these family ovens strewn with the unburied bodies of the dead, and others crawling among them, who had various degrees of strength, from a bare sufficiency to gasp in death, to those that crawled upon their hands and feet, {11} eating grass like cattle. It is said that they have no weapons of defence except the club, and that in the use of that they are very unskilful. These poor creatures are hunted in the spring of the year, when weak and helpless, by a certain class of men, and when taken, are fattened, carried to Santa Fé and sold as slaves during their minority. "A likely girl" in her teens brings oftentimes £60 or £80. The males are valued less.

At about eleven o'clock we came to a stream of good water and halted to slake our thirst and cook the remainder of our dog mutton. Our animals' sufferings had nearly equalled our own. And while we ate and rested under the shade of a tree, it added much to our enjoyment to see the famished beasts regale themselves upon a plat of short wiry grass beside the stream. Some marks of dragging lodge poles along the now well defined trail, indicated to us that a portion of the Shoshonie or Snake tribe had lately[Pg 250] left Brown's Hole. From this circumstance we began to fear what afterwards proved true, that our hopes of finding the Snakes at that post and of getting meat from them would prove fallacious. Our filthy meal being finished, we gathered {12} up our little caravan and moved forward at a round pace for three hours, when the bluffs opened before us the beautiful plain of Brown's Hole.[155] As we entered it we crossed two cool streams that tumbled down from the stratified cliffs near at hand on the right; and a few rods beyond, the whole area became visible. The Fort, as it is called, peered up in the centre, upon the winding bank of the Sheetskadee. The dark mountains rose around it sublimely, and the green fields swept away into the deep precipitous gorges more beautifully than I can describe.

How glad is man to see his home again after a weary absence! Every step becomes quicker as he approaches its sacred portals; and kind smiles greet him; and leaping hearts beat upon his; and warm lips press his own. It is the holy sacrament of friendship. Yet there is another class of these emotions that appears to be not less holy. They arise when, after having been long cut off from every habit and sympathy of civilized life, long wandering among the deep and silent temples of the eternal mountains, long and hourly exposed to the scalping knife of savages and the agonies of {13} starvation, one beholds the dwellings of civilized men—kindred of the old Patriot blood, rearing their hospitable roofs among those heights, inviting the[Pg 251] houseless, wayworn wanderer to rest; to relax the tension of his energies, close his long watching eyes, and repose the heart awhile among generous spirits of his own race. Is not the hand that grasps yours then, an honest hand? Does it not distil, by its sacred warmth and hearty embrace, some of the dearest emotions of which the soul is capable; friendship unalloyed, warm, holy, and heavenly?

Thus it seemed to me, at all events, as we rode into the hollow square and received from St. Clair, the person in charge, the hearty welcome of an old hunter to "Fort David Crockett."[156] A room was appropriated immediately for our reception, our horses were given to the care of his horse guard, and every other arrangement within his means, was made, to make us feel that within that little nest of fertility, amid the barrenness of the great Stony Range—far from the institutions of law and religion—far from the sweet ties of family relations, and all those nameless endearing influences that shed their rich {14} fragrance over human nature in its cultivated abiding places—that there even could be given us the fruits of the sincerest friendship. Such kindness can be appreciated fully by those only who have enjoyed it in such places; who have seen it manifested in its own way; by those only, who have starved and thirsted in these deserts and been welcomed, and made thrice welcome, after months of weary wandering, to "Fort David Crockett."

After partaking of the hospitality of Mr. St. Clair, I strolled out to examine more minutely this wonderful little[Pg 252] valley. It is situated in or about latitude 42° north; one hundred miles south of Wind River mountains, on the Sheetskadee (Prairie Cock) River. Its elevation is something more than eight thousand feet above the level of the sea. It appeared to be about six miles in diameter; shut in, in all directions, by dark frowning mountains, rising one thousand five hundred feet above the plain. The Sheetskadee, or Green River, runs through it, sweeping in a beautiful curve from the north-west to the south-west part of it, where it breaks its way through the encircling mountains, between cliffs, one thousand feet in height, broken and hanging as {15} if poised on the air. The area of the plain is thickly set with the rich mountain grasses, and dotted with little copses of cotton wood and willow trees. The soil is alluvial, and capable of producing abundantly all kinds of small grains, vegetables, &c., that are raised in the northern States. Its climate is very remarkable. Although in all the country, within a hundred miles of it, the winter months bring snows, and the severe cold that we should expect in such a latitude, and at such an elevation above the level of the sea, yet in this little nook, the grass grows all the winter; so that, while the storm rages on the mountains in sight, and the drifting snows mingle in the blasts of December, the old hunters here heed it not. Their horses are cropping the green grass on the banks of the Sheetskadee, while they themselves are roasting the fat loins of the mountain sheep, and laughing at the merry tale and song.

The Fort is a hollow square of one story log cabins, with roofs and floors of mud, constructed in the same manner as those of Fort William. Around these we found the conical skin lodges of the squaws of the white trappers, who were away on their "fall hunt," and also the lodges of a few {16} Snake Indians, who had preceded their tribe[Pg 253] to this, their winter haunt. Here also were the lodges of Mr. Robinson, a trader, who usually stations himself here to traffic with the Indians and white trappers. His skin lodge was his warehouse; and buffalo robes were spread upon the ground and counter, on which he displayed his butcher knives, hatchets, powder, lead, fish-hooks, and whisky. In exchange for these articles he receives beaver skins from trappers, money from travellers, and horses from the Indians. Thus, as one would believe, Mr. Robinson drives a very snug little business. And indeed, when all the "independent trappers" are driven by approaching winter into this delightful retreat, and the whole Snake village, two or three thousand strong, impelled by the same necessity, pitch their lodges around the Fort, and the dances and merry makings of a long winter are thoroughly commenced, there is no want of customers.

These winters in Brown's hole are somewhat like winters among the mountains of New England, in the effects they produce on the rise and progress of the art of all arts—the art of love. For, as among the good old hills of my native clime, quiltings, {17} and singing-schools, and evening dances, when the stars are shining brightly on the snow crust, do soften the heart of the mountain lad and lassie, and cause the sigh and blush to triumph over all the counsels of maiden aunts and fortune-tellers; so here in this beautiful valley, and in the skin lodge village of the Snakes, there are bright evenings, beaming stars, and mellow moons, and social circles for singing the wild ditties of their tribe, and for sewing with the sinews of the deer, their leggings, moccasins and buffalo robes, and for being bewitched with the tender passion.

The dance, too, enlivens the village. The musician chants the wild song, and marks the time by regular beat[Pg 254]ings with a stick upon a sounding board; and light heels, and sturdy frames, and buxom forms respond to his call. To these, and other gatherings, the young go, to see who are the fairest, and best, and most loved of the throng. Our friend Cupid goes there too. Yes, Cupid at an Indian dance! And there measuring bow and arrow with those who invented them, he often lays at his feet, I am told, the proudest hawk's feather that adorns the brow of Chief or Chiefess. For, on the {18} morning after the dance, it not unfrequently happens that he of the beard is compelled, by force of certain uneasy sensations about the heart, to apply to some beardless one for the balm of sweet smiles for his relief.

He does not wait for the calm hour of a Sunday night. Nor does he delay putting the question by poetical allusions to the violet and firmament. No! Calm hours and the poetry of nature have no charms for him. He wants none of these. Our friend Cupid has cast an arrow into his heart, bearded with the stings of irresistible emotion; and he seeks that mischievous fair one, her alone who selected the arrow and the victim; her alone who was a "particeps criminis" in the loss of that great central organ of his life, called in the annals of Christian countries, "the heart." No! his course is vastly more philosophical and single-minded, (I mean no offence to my countrymen—none to you, ye Britons over the waters,) than the ginger-bread, sugar-candy courtships of Christian people. He first pays his addresses to his band of horses; selects the most beautiful and valuable of them all, and then goes with his chosen horse to the lodge of his chosen {19} girl's father or mother, or if both these be dead, to the lodge of her eldest sister, ties the animal to the tent pole, and goes away. After his departure, the inmates of the lodge issue from it, and in due form examine the[Pg 255] horse, and if it appears to be worth as much as the girl whom the owner seeks, an interview is had, the horse taken by the parents, or sister, as the case may be, and the lover takes the girl. A fair business transaction, you perceive, my readers—"a quid pro quo"—a compensation in kind.

The girl, received in exchange for the horse, becomes the absolute personal property of the enamoured jockey, subject to be re-sold whenever the state of the market and his own affection will allow. But if those, whose right it is to judge in the matter, are of opinion that the girl is worth more than the horse, another is brought; and if these are not enough, he of the beard may bring another, or get Cupid to shoot his heart in another direction.

There are many benefits in this mode of obtaining that description of legal chattels called a wife, over the mode usually adopted among us. As for example: by this mode there is a price given for a valuable article. Now to my apprehension, this is an improvement upon our plan; for it {20} removes entirely from certain old daddies, the necessity of disposing of their daughters by gift, to certain worthless, portionless young men, who are merely virtuous, talented, honest and industrious; an evil of no small magnitude, as may be learned by inquiry in the proper quarter. But the Indian system of matrimony extirpates it. Wealth measures off affection and property by the peck, yard or dollar's worth, as circumstances require; and no young lady of real genuine property, respectability and standing, and family, will think of placing her affections upon a talented, virtuous and industrious, promising and prosperous coxcomb of poverty; nor, vice versâ, will a young man of these vulgar qualities have unfathomable barefacedness to propose himself to a young lady of real genuine property respectability, property[Pg 256] form, property face, property virtue, property modesty, and property intelligence.

No, bless the day! such impudence will cease to interfere with the legitimate pretensions of those who are able—while they declare their passion mighty, unalterable and pure—to place in the hands from which they receive the dear object of their property love, the last quoted prices of the family stock.

{21} But I pass to the consideration of another view of this matter which I deem, if possible, of still greater importance. As, if in disposing of young ladies in marriage, a valuation in money should be made of their property beauty, property modesty, property intelligence, &c., and required to be paid before marriage, the false opinion that honesty, probity, intelligence, integrity, virtue and respectability can exist without a property basis, would gradually fade away before the influence of our rich daddies' daughters. Oh the age that would then bless our earth! The piety of the church would fan itself in the property pew. The forum of jurisprudence would then echo to the lofty strains of property eloquence. The groves of Academus would breathe the wisdom of property philosophy. The easel of the artist would cast upon the canvas the inspirations of property genius. And music, and sculpture, and poetry, born in garrets, would give place to another race of these arts—a property race, that could be kept in one's apartments without compelling one to blush for their origin. We should then have a property fitness of things, that would place our property selves in a state of exalted property beatitude. {22} It is hoped that the Legislators of the world will bestow upon this matter their most serious attention, and from time to time pass such laws as will aid mankind in attaining this splendid and brilliant exaltation of our nature, when[Pg 257] the precious metals shall be a universal measure of value.

This is diverging. But after my reader is informed that the only distinct aim I proposed to myself in writing my journal, was to keep the day of the month correctly, and in other respects "keep a blotter," the transition from this strain of true philosophy, to a notice of the white men and their squaws, will be thought easy and natural.

If, then, a white man is disposed to take unto himself a squaw among the Snakes, he must conform to the laws and customs of the tribe, which have been ordained and established for the regulation of all such matters. And, whether the colour in any individual case be of black or white, does not seem to be a question ever raised to take it out of the rules. The only difference is, that the property, beauty, &c. of the whites frequently give them the preference on 'change, and enable them to {23} obtain the best squaws of the nation. These connexions between the white trappers and squaws I am told, are the cause of so many of the former remaining during life in these valleys of blood.—They seem to love them as ardently as they would females of their own colour.

A trader is living there with a young Eutaw squaw, through whose charms he has forsaken friends, wealth and ease, and civilization, for an Indian lodge among all the dangers and wants of a wilderness. This gentleman is said to have a standing offer of £140 for his dear one, whenever, in the course of a limited time, he will sell her graces. But it is believed that his heart has so much to do with his estimation of her value, that no consideration could induce him voluntarily to deprive himself of her society.

The above anecdotes were related to me during the first evening I spent at Fort David Crockett. It was a[Pg 258] bright ethereal night. The Fort stood in the shade of the wild and dark cliffs, while the light of the moon shone on the western peaks, and cast a deeper darkness into the inaccessible gorges on the face of the mountains. The Sheetskadee flowed silently among the alders {24}—the fires in the Indian lodges were smouldering; sleep had gathered every animate thing in its embrace. It was a night of deep solitude. I enjoyed the lovely scene till near midnight in company with Mr. St. Clair; and when at last its excitements and the thrilling pleasure of being relieved from the prospect of death by hunger allowed me to slumber, that gentleman conducted me to his own room and bed, and bade me occupy both while I should remain with him. He expressed regret that he had so little provisions in the Fort;—a small quantity of old jerked meat; a little tea and sugar.

"But," said he, "share it with me as long as it lasts. I have hunters out; they will be here in ten or twelve days; you have been starving; eat while there is any thing left, and when all is gone we'll have a mountain sheep, or a dog to keep off starvation till the hunters come in."

My companions and guide were less fortunate. We purchased all the meat which either money or goods could induce the Indians to sell. It amounted to one day's supply for the company. And as there was supposed to be no game within a circuit of one hundred miles, it became {25} matter of serious inquiry whether we should seek it in the direction of Fort Hall, or on the head waters of Little Snake River, one hundred miles off our proper route to Oregon.

In the latter place there were plenty of fine, fat buffalo; but on the way to the other point there was nothing but antelope, difficult to kill, and poor. A collateral circumstance turned the scale of our deliberations. That cir[Pg 259]cumstance was dog meat. We could get a supply of these delectable animals from the Indians; they would keep life in us till we could reach Fort Hall; and by aid thereof we could immediately proceed on our journey, cross the Blue Mountains before the snow should render them impassable, and reach Vancouver, on the lower Columbia, during the autumn. On the contrary, if we sought meat on the waters of Little Snake River, it would be so late before we should be prepared to resume our journey, that we could not pass those mountains until May or June of the following spring.

The dogs, therefore, were purchased; and preparations were made for our departure to Fort Hall, as soon as ourselves and our animals were sufficiently {26} recruited for the undertaking. Meanwhile my companions ate upon our stock of barking mutton. And thus we spent seven days—delightful days; for although our fare was humble and scanty, yet the flesh began to creep upon our skeletons, our minds to resume their usual vivacity, and our hearts to warm again with the ordinary emotions of human existence.

The trials of a journey in the western wilderness can never be detailed in words. To be understood, they must be endured. Their effects upon the physical and mental system are equally prostrating. The desolation of one kind and another which meets the eye every where; the sense of vastness associated with dearth and barrenness, and of sublimity connected with eternal, killing frost;—of loneliness coupled with a thousand natural causes of one's destruction; perpetual journeyings over endless declivities, among tempests, through freezing torrents; one half the time on foot, with nothing but moccasins to protect the feet from the flinty gravel and the thorns of the prickly pear along the unbeaten way; and the starv[Pg 260]ings and thirstings wilt the muscles, send preternatural activity into the nervous system, and through the whole {27} animal and mental economy a feebleness, an irritability altogether indescribable.

At Fort David Crockett there were rest, and food, and safety; and old Father Time, as he mowed away the passing moments and gathered them into the great garner of the Past, cast upon the Future a few blossoms of hope, and sweetened the hours, now and then, with a bit of information about this portion of his ancient dominion. I heard from various persons, more or less acquainted with the Colorado of the West, a confirmation of the account of that river given in the journals of previous days; and also that there resides at the lower end of its great kenyon, a band of the Club Indians—very many of whom are seven feet high, and well proportioned; that these Indians raise large quantities of black beans upon the sandy intervales on the stream; that the oval-leaf prickly-pear grows there from fifteen to twenty feet in height; that these Indians make molasses from its fruit; that their principal weapon of warfare is the club, which they wield with amazing dexterity and force; that they inhabit a wide extent of country north-west, and south-east of this lower part of the river; that they have never been subdued by the {28} Spaniards, and are inimical to all white people.[157] Subsequent inquiry in California satisfied me that this river is navigable only thirty or forty miles from its mouth, and that the Indians who live upon its barren banks near the Gulf, are such as I have described.

[Pg 261]

The Snakes, or Shoshonies, are a wandering tribe of Indians who inhabit that part of the Rocky Mountains which lies on the Grand and Green River branches of the Colorado of the West, the valley of Great Bear River, the habitable shores of the Great Salt Lake, a considerable portion of country on Snake River above and below Fort Hall, and a tract extending two or three hundred miles to the west of that post. Those who reside in the place last named, are said to subsist principally on roots; they, however, kill a few deer, and clothe themselves with their skins. The band living on Snake River subsist on the fish of the stream, buffalo, deer, and other game. Those residing on the branches of the Colorado, live on roots, buffalo, elk, deer, the mountain-sheep, and antelope. The Snakes own many horses. These, with their thousands of dogs, constitute all the domestic animals among them. They have {29} conical skin-lodges, a few camp-kettles, butcher-knives and guns. Many of them, however, still use the bow and arrow. In dress, they follow the universal Indian costume—moccasins, leggings, and the hunting-shirt. Nothing but the hair covers the head; and [Pg 262]this, indeed, would seem sufficient, if certain statements made in relation to it be true; as that it frequently grows four and five feet in length, and in one case eleven feet. In these instances, it is braided and wound round the head in the form of a Turkish turban. If only two or three feet in length, it is braided on the female head in two queues, which hang down the back: on the male, it is only combed behind the ears, and lies dishevelled around the shoulders. The female dress differs from that of the male in no other respect than this: the shirt or chemise of the former extends down to the feet. Beaver, otter, bear and buffalo skins, and horses are exchanged by them with the Arrapahoes, and the Americans, and British traders, for some few articles of wearing apparel; such as woollen blankets and hats. But as their stock of skins is always very limited, they find it necessary to husband it with much care, to obtain therewith a supply of tobacco, arms and ammunition.

{30} From the first acquaintance of the whites with them, these people have been remarkable for their aversion to war, and those cruelties generally practised by their race. If permitted to live in peace among their mountains, and allowed to hunt the buffalo—that wandering patrimony of all the tribes—when necessity requires, they make war upon none, and turn none hungry away from their humble abodes. But these peaceable dispositions in the wilderness, where men are left to the protection of their impulses and physical energies, have yielded them little protection. The Blackfeet, Crows, Sioux and Eutaws have alternately fought them for the better right to the Old Park, and portions of their Territory, with varied success; and, at the present time, do those tribes yearly send predatory parties into their borders to rob them of their horses. But as the passes through which they enter the Snake country are becoming more[Pg 263] and more destitute of game on which to subsist, their visits are less frequent, and their number less formidable. For several years, they have been in a great measure relieved from these annoyances.

From the time they met Lewis and Clark on the head-waters of the Missouri[158] to the {31} present day, the Snakes have opened their lodges to whites, with the most friendly feelings. And many are the citizens of the States, and the subjects of Britain, who have sought their villages, and by their hospitality have been saved from death among those awful solitudes. A guest among them is a sacred deposit of the Great Spirit. His property, when once arrived within their camp, is under the protection of their honour and religious principle; and should want, cupidity, or any other motive, tempt any individual to disregard these laws of hospitality, the property which may have been stolen, or its equivalent, is returned, and the offender punished. The Snakes are a very intelligent race. This appears in the comforts of their homes, their well-constructed lodges, the elegance and useful form of their wardrobes, their horse-gear, &c.

But more especially does it exhibit itself in their views of sensual excesses and other immoralities. These are inhibited by immemorial usages of the tribe. Nor does their code of customs operate upon those wrong doings only which originate among a savage people. Whatever indecency is offered them by their intercourse with the {32} whites, they avoid. Civilized vice is quite as offensive as that which grows up in their own untrained natures. The non-use of intoxicating liquor is an example of this kind. They abjured it from the commencement[Pg 264] of its introduction among them. And they give the best of reasons for this custom:—"It unmans us for the hunt, and for defending ourselves against our enemies; it causes unnatural dissensions among ourselves; it makes the Chief less than his Indian; and by its use, imbecility and ruin would come upon the Shoshonie tribe."

Whatever difference of opinion may exist among civilized men on this matter, these Indians certainly reason well for themselves, and, I am inclined to think, for all others. A voice from the depth of the mountains—from the lips of a savage—sends to our ears the startling rebuke—"Make not, vend not, give not to us the strong water. It prostrates your superior knowledge, your enlarged capacities for happiness, your cultivated understandings. It breaks your strong laws; it rots down your strong houses; it buries you in the filthiest ditch of sin. Send it not to us; we would rather die by the arrows of the Blackfeet."

The Crows[159] are a wandering tribe, and {33} usually found in the upper plains around the head-waters of the north fork of Great Platte, Snake, and Yellowstone rivers. Their number is estimated to be about five thousand. They are represented as the most arrant rascals among the mountains. The traders say of them that "they have never been known to keep a promise or do an honourable act." No white man or Indian trusts them. Murder and robbery are their principal employments. Much of their country is well watered, timbered, and capable of yielding an abundant reward to the husbandman.

The Blackfeet Indians reside on the Marias and other branches of the Missouri above the Great Falls. In 1828 they numbered about two thousand five hundred lodges[Pg 265] or families. During that year they stole a blanket from the American Fur Company's steamboat on the Yellowstone, which had belonged to a man who had died of the small-pox on the passage up the Missouri. The infected article being carried to their encampment upon the "left hand fork of the Missouri," spread the dreadful infection among the whole tribe. They were amazed at the appearance of the disease. The red blotch, the bile, congestion of the lungs, {34} liver, and brain, were all new to their medicine-men; and the rotten corpse falling in pieces while they buried it, struck horror into every heart. In their frenzy and ignorance they increased the number of their sweat ovens upon the banks of the stream, and whether the burning fever or the want of nervous action prevailed; whether frantic with pain, or tottering in death, they were placed in them, sweated profusely and plunged into the snowy waters of the river. The mortality which followed this treatment was a parallel of the Plague in London. They endeavoured for a time to bury the dead, but these were soon more numerous than the living. The evil-minded medicine-men of all ages had come in a body from the world of spirits, had entered into them, and were working the annihilation of the Blackfeet race.

The Great Spirit had also placed the floods of his displeasure between himself and them. He had cast a mist over the eyes of their conjurors, that they might not know the remedial incantation. Their hunts were ended; their bows were broken; the fire in the Great Pipe was extinguished for ever; their graves called for them; and the call was now answered by a thousand dying {35} groans. Mad with superstition and fear, brother forsook sister; father his son; and mother her sucking child; and fled to the elevated vales among the western heights, where the influences of the climate, operating upon the already[Pg 266] well-spent energies of the disease, restored the remainder of the tribe again to health. Of the two thousand five hundred families existing at the time the pestilence commenced, one or more members of eight hundred only survived its ravages; and even to this hour do the bones of seven or eight thousand Blackfeet lie unburied among the decaying lodges of their deserted village, on the banks of the Yellowstone. But this infliction has in no wise humanized their blood-thirsty nature. As ever before, they wage exterminating war upon the traders and trappers, and the Oregon Indians.[160]

The Arrapahoes reside south of the Snakes.[161] They wander in the winter season over the country about the head of the Great Kenyon of the Colorado of the West, and to a considerable distance down that river; and in summer hunt the buffalo in the New Park, or "Bull Pen," in the "Old Park" on Grand River, and in "Boyou Salade," on the south fork of the Platte. Their {36} number is not well ascertained. Some estimate it at three thousand, others more, and others still less. They are said to be a brave, fearless, thrifty, ingenious, and hospitable people. They own large numbers of horses, mules, dogs, and sheep. The dogs they fatten and eat. Hence the name Arrapahoes—dog eaters. They manufacture the wool of their sheep into blankets of a very superior quality. I saw many of them; possessed one; [Pg 267]and believe them to be made with something in the form of a darning-needle. They appeared to be wrought, in the first time, like a fishing-net; and on this, as a foundation, darned so densely that the rain will not penetrate them. They are usually striped or checked with yellow and red.

There is in this tribe a very curious law of naturalization; it is based upon property. Any one, whether red or white, may avail himself of it. One horse, which can run with sufficient speed to overtake a buffalo cow, and another horse or mule, capable of bearing a pack of two hundred pounds, must be possessed by the applicant.

These being delivered to the principal chief of the tribe, and his intentions being made known, he is declared a citizen of the {37} Arrapahoe tribe, and entitled to a wife and other high privileges thereunto appertaining. Thus recognized, he enters upon a life of savage independence. His wife takes care of his horses, manufactures his saddles and bridles, and leash ropes and whips, his moccasins, leggings, and hunting-shirts, from leather and other materials prepared by her own hands; beats with a wooden adze his buffalo robes, till they are soft and pleasant for his couch; tans hides for his tent covering, and drags from the distant hills the clean white-pine poles to support it; cooks his daily food and places it before him. And should sickness overtake him, and death rap at the door of his lodge, his squaw watches kindly the last yearnings of the departing spirit. His sole duty, as her lord in life, and as a citizen of the Arrapahoe tribe, is to ride the horse which she saddles and brings to his tent, kill the game which she dresses and cures; sit and slumber on the couch which she spreads; and fight the enemies of the tribe. Their language is said to be essentially the same as that spoken by the Snakes and Cumanches.[162]

[Pg 268]

This, and other tribes in the mountains, and in the upper plains, have a custom, the {38} same in its objects as was the ceremony of the "toga virilis" among the Romans.

When ripened into manhood, every young man of the tribe is expected to do some act of bravery that will give promise of his disposition and ability to defend the rights of his tribe and family. Nor can this expectation be disregarded. So, in the spring of the year, those of the age alluded to, associate themselves forty or fifty in a band, and devote themselves to the duties of man's estate in the following manner:—They take leave of their friends, and depart to some secret place near the woodlands; collect poles twenty or thirty feet in length, and raise them in the form of a cone; and cover the structure so thickly with leaves and boughs as to secure the interior from the gaze of persons outside. They then hang a fresh buffalo's head inside, near the top of the lodge where the poles meet; and below this, around the sides, suspend camp-kettles, scalps, and blankets, and the skin of a white buffalo, as offerings to the Great Spirit. After the lodge is thus arranged, they enter it with much solemnity, and commence the ceremonies which are to consecrate themselves to war, and the destruction of their own enemies, and those of the tribe. The {39} first act, is to seat themselves in a circle round a fire built in the centre of the lodge, and "make medicine;" that is,—invoke the presence and aid of protecting spirits, by smoking the great mystic pipe.

One of their number fills it with tobacco and herbs, places upon the bowl a bright coal from the fire within the lodge, draws the smoke into his lungs, and blows it thence through his nostrils. He then seizes the stem with both hands, and leaning forward, touches the ground [Pg 269]between his feet with the lower part of the bowl, and smokes again as before. The feet, and arms, and breast, are successively touched in a similar way; and after each touching, the sacred smoke is inhaled as before. The pipe is then passed to the one on his right, who smokes as his fellow has done. And thus the Great Pipe goes round, and the smoke rises and mingles with the votive offerings to the Great Spirit which are suspended above their heads. Immediately after this smoking is believed to be a favoured time for offering prayer to the Great Spirit. They pray for courage, and victory over their foes in the campaign they are about to undertake; and that they may be protected from the spirits of evil-minded medicine men. They then make a solemn and irrevocable vow, that if {40} these medicine men do not make them sick—do not enter into their bosoms and destroy their strength and courage, they will never again see their relatives and tribe, unless they do so in garments stained with the blood of their enemies.

Having passed through these ceremonies, they rise and dance to the music of a war chant, till they are exhausted and swoon. In this state of insensibility, they imagine that the spirits of the brave dead visit them and teach them their duty, and inform them of the events that will transpire during the campaign. Three days and nights are passed in performing these ceremonies; during which time, they neither eat nor drink, nor leave the lodge. At early dawn of the fourth day they select a leader from their number, appoint a distant place of meeting; and emerging from the lodge, each walks away from it alone to the place of rendezvous. Having arrived there, they determine whose horses are to be stolen, whose scalps taken, and commence their march. They always go out on foot, wholly dependent upon their own energies for[Pg 270] food and every other necessary. Among other things, it is considered a great disgrace to be long without meat and the means of riding.

It sometimes happens that these parties {41} are unable to satisfy the conditions of their consecration during the first season; and therefore are compelled to resort to some ingenious and satisfactory evasion of the obligations of their vow, or to go into winter quarters till another opening spring allows them to prosecute their designs. The trappers relate a case of this kind, which led to a curious incident. A war party of Blackfeet had spent the season in seeking for their enemies without success. The storms of approaching winter had begun to howl around, and a wish to return to the log fires and buffalo meat, and hilarities and friendships of the camp of the tribe in the high vales of the Upper Missouri, had become ardent, when a forlorn, solitary trapper who had long resided among them, entered their camp. Affectionate and sincere greetings passed at the moment of meeting.

The trapper, as is the custom, was invited to eat; and all appeared friendly and glad. But soon the Indians became reserved, and whispered ominously among themselves. At length came to the ear of the trapper high words of debate in regard to his life. They all agreed that his white skin indubitably indicated that he belonged to the "Great Tribe" of their natural enemies, and that {42} with the blood of a white upon their garments, they would have fulfilled the terms of their vow, and could return to their friends and tribe. A part of them seriously questioned whether the sacred names of friend and brother, which they had for years applied to him, had not so changed his natural relationship to them, that the Great Spirit, to whom they had made their vow, had sent him among them in the character which they themselves had[Pg 271] given him—as a friend and brother. If so, they reasoned that the sacrifice of his life would only anger Him, and by no means relieve them from the obligations of their vow.

Another party reasoned that the Great Spirit had sent this victim among them to test their fidelity to Him. He had indeed been their friend; they had called him brother, but he was also their natural enemy; and that the Great One to whom they had made their vow, would not release them at all from its obligations, if they allowed this factitious relation of friendship to interfere with obedience to Himself. The other party rejoined, that although the trapper was their natural enemy, he was not one within the meaning of their vow; that the taking of his life would be an evasion of its sacred {43} obligations, a blot upon their courage, and an outrage upon the laws of friendship; that they could find other victims, but that their friend could not find another life. The other party rebutted, that the trapper was confessedly their natural enemy; that the conditions of their vow required the blood of their natural enemy; and that the Great Spirit had sufficiently shown His views of the relative obligations of friendship and obedience to Himself in sending the trapper to their camp.

The trapper's friends perceiving that the obstinacy of their opponents was unlikely to yield to reason, proposed as a compromise, that, since, if they should adjudge the trapper their enemy within the requirements of their vow, his blood only would be needed to stain their garments, they would agree to take from him so much as might be necessary for that purpose; and that in consideration of being a brother, he should retain enough to keep his heart alive. As their return to their tribe would be secured by this measure, little objection was raised to it. The flint[Pg 272] lancet was applied to the veins of the white man; their garments were dyed with his blood; they departed for their nation's village, and the poor trapper for the beaver among the hills.

{44} My worthy old guide, Kelly, had often seen these medicine lodges. He informed me that many of the votive offerings, before mentioned, are permitted to decay with the lodge in which they are hung; that the penalty to any mortal who should dare appropriate them to his use was death. A certain white man, however, who had been robbed of his blanket at the setting in of winter, came upon one of these sacred lodges, erected by the young Arrapahoes which contained, among other things, a blanket that seemed well calculated to shield him from the cold. He spread it over his shivering frame, and very unadvisedly went into the Arrapahoe village. The Indians knew the sacred deposit, held a council, called the culprit before them, and demanded why he had stolen from the Great Spirit? In exculpation, he stated that he had been robbed; that the Great Spirit saw him naked in the wintry wind; pitied him; showed him the sacred lodge, and bade him take the blanket. "That seems to be well," said the principal chief to his fellow-counsellors. "The Great Spirit has an undoubted right to give away his own property;" and the trader was released.

Among the several personages whom I {45} chanced to meet at Brown's Hole, was an old Snake Indian, who saw Messrs. Lewis and Clark on the head-waters of the Missouri in 1805. He is the individual of his tribe, who first saw the explorers' cavalcade. He appears to have been galloping from place to place in the office of sentinel to the Shoshonie camp, when he suddenly found himself in the very presence of the whites. Astonishment fixed him to the spot. Men with faces pale as ashes, had never been[Pg 273] seen by himself or nation. "The head rose high and round, the top flat; it jutted over the eyes in a thin rim; their skin was loose and flowing, and of various colours." His fears at length overcoming his curiosity, he fled in the direction of the Indian encampment; but being seen by the whites, they pursued and brought him to their camp; exhibited to him the effects of their fire-arms, loaded him with presents, and let him go. Having arrived among his own people, he told them he had seen men with faces pale as ashes, who were makers of thunder, lightning, etc. This information astounded the whole tribe. They had lived many years, and their ancestors had lived many more, and there were many legends which spoke of many wonderful {46} things; but a tale like this they never had heard.

A council was, therefore, assembled to consider the matter. The man of strange words was summoned before it, and he rehearsed, in substance, what he had before told to others, but was not believed. "All men were red, and therefore he could not have seen men as pale as ashes." "The Great Spirit made the thunder and the lightning; he therefore could not have seen men of any colour that could produce these. He had seen nothing; he had lied to his chief, and should die."

At this stage of the proceedings, the culprit produced some of the presents which he had received from the pale men. These being quite as new to them as pale faces were, it was determined "that he should have the privilege of leading his judges to the place where he declared he had seen these strange people; and if such were found there, he should be exculpated; if not, these presents were to be considered as conclusive evidence against him, that he dealt with evil spirits, and that he was worthy of death by the arrows of his kinsfolks." The pale men, the thunder-makers, were found, and were witnesses of {47} the poor fellow's story. He was released; and has ever since been much honoured and loved by his tribe, and every white man in the mountains.[163] He is now about eighty years old, and poor. But as he is always about Fort David Crockett, he is never permitted to want.


[151] This is the first chapter of volume ii of Farnham's Travels.—Ed.

[152] Between Fortification and Lay creeks, the Yampah makes a southern bend for about twenty-five miles.—Ed.

[153] Little Snake is the largest affluent of the Yampah. Rising in Elk Head Mountains, it flows west and south-west, debouching at a small plain known as Lily's Park—Ed.

[154] For the Paiute see our volume xviii, p. 140, note 70. Concerning the Sanpitch (not Land Pitch), consult De Smet's Letters in our volume xxvii, p. 166, note 37.—Ed.

[155] Brown's Hole, now known as Brown's Park, is in the north-western corner of Colorado, on Green River. It is thought to have been named for an early trapper. The valley, which is about thirty miles long by five or six in width, is formed by an expansion of the cañon walls of the river, so that all about it cliffs rise to a great height. The only entrance is a rocky chasm at the east, about sixty yards wide. The valley is so sheltered that it possesses an unusual climate, with seldom snow enough to cover the pasturage; it was, therefore, a favorite wintering ground for trappers and hunters.—Ed.

[156] Fort David Crockett was not long maintained; erected before Farnham's visit, it was a ruin when Frémont passed here in 1844. Wislizenus, who arrived a few days after Farnham, declares it the poorest building seen on his travels, and that the distance from any well-worn route of travel and the lack of game on the neighboring hills had given it the name of Fort Misery. It was owned jointly by Thomson, Craig, and St. Clair.—Ed.

[157] Farnham refers here to tribes of the Yuman stock; see our volume xviii, p. 131, note 65. The Yuma proper are large physically, and finely proportioned. A recent writer declares that their men are nearly all over six feet in height—see Eugene J. Trippel, "Yuma Indians," in Overland Monthly, xiii, xiv. They are an agricultural people and depend largely upon the mesquite harvest, which Farnham refers to as black beans. The Yuma were made known to the Spaniards by the reports of the Franciscan padre, Francisco Garcés, who in 1771 visited them from his mission on the Gila. They received him with joy, and begged for his return; he revisited them in 1774. Shortly after this a Yuman chief called Palma was conveyed to Mexico. Awed by what he saw, he consented to baptism, and requested a mission in his own land. But it was not until 1779 that the foundation of a mission was laid, and in the following year two small colonies were begun—one on the site of Fort Yuma, and the other eight miles lower down. The natives, however, found their new neighbors troublesome and exacting, and rising in revolt July 17, 1781, with clubs massacred almost the entire garrison, including four missionary padres; see Coues, Francisco Garcés, i, pp. 10-24. Hence the appellation, "Club Indians." In 1857 the Yuma suffered a severe defeat from their neighbors, the Pima and Maricopa, wherein over a third of their warriors perished. They have generally been on friendly terms with the United States government, which has recently arranged a system of irrigation for their lands. About fifty-six Yuma still live on their reservation, and have a reputation for industry beyond that of most tribesmen; see U. S. Indian Commissioner's Report, 1904, pp. 158-161.—Ed.

[158] For particulars of this meeting, which had been eagerly desired by the explorers, consult Thwaites, Original Journals of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, ii, pp. 329-360.—Ed.

[159] For a brief sketch of the Crow Indians, see Bradbury's Travels, in our volume v, p. 226, note 121.—Ed.

[160] The Blackfeet are noted in Bradbury's Travels, our volume v, p. 225, note 120. A detailed description is to be found in Maximilian's Travels, our volume xxiii, pp. 95-122. The year of the small-pox scourge was 1837 (not 1828), and it was a Mandan (not a Blackfoot) chief who stole the infected blanket. However, the disease reached the Blackfeet by the same steamer that carried it to the Mandan. See our volume xxii, p. 36, note 13.—Ed.

[161] A brief note on the Arapaho is in our volume v, p. 225, note 120. The significance of the tribal name is uncertain, but is supposed to mean "he who buys or trades." The Caddo and Comanche had epithets for this tribe, that signified "dog-eaters."—Ed.

[162] This is incorrect, the Shoshonean differing widely from the Algonquian language stock. On the Arapaho language, consult James Mooney, "Ghost Dance Religion," in U. S. Bureau of Ethnology Report, 1892-93, p. 1012.—Ed.

[163] With this fanciful tradition, compare that of Lewis in Original Journals, ii, pp. 329-351.—Ed.

[Pg 274]


An Arrival from Fort Hall—An Account from Oregon—Return of two of my companions to the States—A startling Condition—An Indian Guide—A Farewell—How a Horse studies Geology—A Camp—Dog Mutton superseded—A Scene—Sheetskadee—Butes—Desolation—Midnight Scene in the Mountains—Indian Jim and the Buffalo—Hungry Stomachs—A fat Shot—Fine Eyesight—An old Trapper picked up—Beautiful Desert—"Hos, Hos"—Meek the Bear Killer—A wild Vale—Steamboat Spring—Natural Soda Fountains—Neighbouring Landscape—A hard Drive—Valley of Chasm—Nature's Vase—A heavy March—Passing the Mountains—A charming Gorge—Entrance into Oregon—The South Branch of the Columbia—Fort Hall and its Hospitalities.

17th. An event of great interest occurred this day. It was the arrival of Paul Richardson and three of his companions from Fort Hall. This old Yankee woodsman had been upon one of his favourite summer trips from St. Louis to the borders of Oregon. He had acted as guide and hunter to a party of missionaries to the Oregon Indians. {49} Several other persons from the western states had accompanied them: one with the lofty intention of conquering California; and others with the intention of trading, farming, &c., on the lower Columbia; and others to explore the Rocky Mountains, and the wonders of nature along the shores of the Pacific.[164] The events of their [Pg 275]tour were freely discussed. They had storms of hail and human wrath. The conqueror of California had been disposed to act the general before he had received his epaulettes; had proved to be so troublesome that he was expelled from camp a short distance from the frontier, and obliged to ride, sleep, and eat, at a comfortable distance from his companions, during the remainder of the journey.

The missionaries, too, Messrs. Monger and Griffith,[165] and their ladies, had had causes of irritability; so that between all the conflicting feelings and opinions of the party, their little camp, it was said, was frequently full [Pg 276]of trouble. Oregon also came under discussion. Mr. Richardson had travelled over the territory; knew it well; it was not so productive as New England; fifteen bushels of wheat to the acre was an extraordinary crop; corn and {50} potatoes did not yield the seed planted; rain fell incessantly five months of the year; the remainder was unblessed even with dew; the Indians and whites residing there had the fever and ague, or bilious fever, the year through; that what little of human life was left by these causes of destruction, was consumed by musquitoes and fleas; that the Columbia river was unfit for navigation—fit only for an Indian fish-pond. Such a description of Oregon (the part of the American domain represented by traders, trappers, and travellers, as most delightful, beautiful, and productive) was astonishing, unlooked-for, and discouraging. And did I not recollect that Mr. Richardson had reasons for desiring to increase the strength of his party through the dangerous plains towards the States, I should, after having seen Oregon, be at a loss to divine the purpose of such a representation of it.

18th. Mr. Richardson's description of Oregon had the effect of drawing off two of my companions. They had no evidence to oppose to his account; he had resided two years in the Territory, and on the knowledge acquired by that means, had represented it to be in no sense a desirable place of abode. They therefore forsook the chase after a {51} desert, and joined him for the green glades of the valley States. On the morning of the 18th, they left me. It was the most disheartening event which had befallen me on the journey. Oakley and Wood had stood by me in the trials and storms of the plains; had evinced a firmness of purpose equal to every emergency that had occurred, were men on whom reliance could be placed; humane men, always ready to do their duty promptly and[Pg 277] cheerfully. It was painful therefore to part with them at a time when their services were most needed. Alone in the heart of the Rocky Mountains, a traveller through the range of the Blackfeet war parties, in bad health, no men save poor old Blair, and the worse than useless vagabond Smith, alias Carroll, to aid me in resisting these savages: I felt alone.

I was indeed kindly offered quarters for the winter at Brown's Hole; but if I accepted them, I should find it impossible to return to the States the next year. I determined therefore to reach the Columbia river that season, be the risk and manner what it might. Accordingly I engaged a Snake Indian, whom the whites called "Jim," to pilot me to Fort Hall, the march to commence on the morning of the 19th—distance two {52} hundred miles, compensation fifty loads of ammunition, and three bunches of beads.

There is in this valley, and in some other parts of the mountains, a fruit called bulberry.[166] It is the most delightful acid in the vegetable kingdom; of the size of the common red currant, with larger seeds than are found in that fruit; colour deep red. It grows upon bushes eight or ten feet high, which in general appearance resemble a young beech tree. Of these berries I obtained a small quantity, had a dog butchered, took a pound or two of dried buffalo meat which Mr. St. Clair kindly gave me, purchased a horse of Mr. Robinson for the use of Blair, and on the morning of the 19th of August left the hospitalities of Fort David Crockett for the dreary waste and starving plains between it and Fort Hall. Blair, Smith, and my guide Jim, constituted my whole force. Numerous war-parties of Blackfeet and Sioux were hovering [Pg 278]over my trail. If discovered by them, death was certain; if not, and starvation did not assail us, we might reach the waters of Snake river. At all events the trial was to be made; and at ten o'clock, A. M., we were winding our way up the Sheetskadee.

Of the regrets at leaving this beautiful {53} little valley, there was no one that I remember more vividly than that of parting with my old guide. Kelly was a man of many excellent qualities. He was brave without ostentation, kind without making you feel an obligation; and preferred on all occasions the happiness of others to his own ease or safety. The river during the twelve miles' travel of the day, appeared to be about one hundred yards wide, a rapid current two feet deep, water limpid. The mountains on either side rose half a mile from the river in dark stratified masses, one thousand feet above the level of the stream. On their sides were a few shrub cedars. The lower hills were covered with the hated wild wormwood and prickly pear. The banks were of white clay, alternated with the loose light coloured sandy soil of the mountain districts. The rocks were quartz, red sand-stone, and limestone. Our camp was pitched at night on the high bank of the stream among the bushes; and a supper of stewed dog-meat prepared us for sleep.

20th. At seven o'clock in the morning we had breakfasted and were on our way. We travelled three miles up the east bank of the river, and came to a mountain, through which it broke its way with a noise which indicated the fall to be great, and the {54} channel to be a deep rugged chasm.[167] Near the place where it leaves the chasm, we turned to the right, and followed up a rough, deep gorge, the distance of five miles, and emerged into [Pg 279]a plain. This gorge had been formed by the action of a tributary of Green River, upon the soft red sand-stone that formed the precipices around. It winds in the distance of five miles to every point of the compass. Along much of its course also the cliffs hang over the stream in such a manner as to render it impossible to travel the water-side. Hence the necessity, in ascending the gorge, of clambering over immense precipices, along brinks of yawning caverns, on paths twelve or fourteen inches in width, with not a bush to cling to in the event of a false step. And yet our Indian horses were so well used to passes of the kind, that they travelled them without fear or accident till the worst were behind us.

How delusive the past as a test of the future! I was felicitating myself upon our good fortune, as the caravan wound its way slowly over a sharp cliff before me, when the shout from the men in advance, "Well done, Puebla," made me hasten to the top of the ridge. My Puebla mare had left the track. Instead of following a wide, {55} well-beaten way down the mountain, she in her wisdom had chosen to tread the shelf of a cliff, which, wide at the place where it sprang from the pathway, gradually became narrower, till it was lost in the perpendicular face of the mountain. She was under a high bulky back at the time, and before she had quite explored the nethermost inch of the interesting stratum which she was disposed to trace to its lowest dip, the centre of gravity was suddenly thrown without the base, and over she reeled, and fell ten or twelve feet among broken rocks, then rolled and tumbled six hundred feet more of short perpendicular descents and inclined plains, into the stream below. On descending and examining her, I found her horribly mangled, the blood running from the nostrils, ears, and other parts of the body. As it was apparent she would soon die, I[Pg 280] stripped her of her packs and gear, drove her to a plat of grass where she could find food, should she need it, and left her to her fate.

This accident being disposed of, we emerged from this gorge, travelled over barren gravelly plains, dotted with pyramidal hills of the same material, whose {56} sides were belted with strata of coarse grey sand-stone. About four o'clock P. M., Jim halted beside a little brook, and pointing ahead, said, "Wat, ugh, u—gh;" by which I understood that the next water on our way was too far distant to be reached that night; and we encamped. The scenery to the west was very beautiful. A hundred rods from our camp, in that direction, rose an apparently perfect pyramid of regular stratified black rocks, about six hundred feet in height, with a basilar diameter of about eight hundred feet, and partially covered with bushes. Beyond it, some five hundred yards, crept away a circling ridge of the same kind of rocks, leaving a beautiful lawn between. And still beyond, sixty miles to the south-west, through a break in the hills that lay in clusters over the intervening country, a portion of the Anahuac range was seen, sweeping away in the direction of the Great Salt Lake.

Jim had turned his horse loose as soon as he saw we were disposed to encamp according to his wishes, and was away with his rifle to the hills. In an instant he was on their heights, creeping stealthily among the bushes and rocks; and the crack of {57} his rifle, and the tumbling of some kind of game over the cliffs, immediately succeeded. More nimble and sure of step than the mountain goat, he sprang down again from cliff to cliff, reached the plain, and the next moment was in camp, crying "hos, ugh, yes." I sent my horse and brought in his game; a noble buck antelope, of about forty pounds weight. In consequence[Pg 281] of this windfall, our dog meat was thrown among the willows for the behoof of the wolves. My guide, poor fellow, had eaten nothing since we left the Fort. His tribe have a superstition of some kind which forbids them the use of such meat. A dog-eater is a term of reproach among them. If one of their number incurs the displeasure of another, he is called "Arrapahoe," the name of the tribe previously described, who fatten these animals for some great annual feast. Jim's creed, however, raised no objections to the flesh of the antelope. He ate enormously, washed himself neatly, combed his long dark hair, pulled out his beard with his right thumb and left forefinger nails, and "turned in."

21st. Twenty miles to-day. The ride of the forenoon was over plains and hills of coarse gravel, destitute of grass, timber, {58} or brush, the everywhere present wild wormwood excepted; that of the afternoon was among broken hills, alternately of gravel and brown sand, here and there dotted with a tuft of bunch grass. From some few of the hills protruded strata of beautiful slate. The bottom lands of the river, even, were as barren as Sahara. The only living things seen, were the small prairie wolf, and flocks of magpie. This bird inhabits the most dreary portions of the mountains, and seems to delight in making the parched and silent deserts more lonely by its ominous croak of welcome to its desolate habitation.

The raven indeed was about us, throwing his funeral wing upon the light of the setting sun. In fine, to-day, as often before, I found nothing in nature from which to derive a single pulse of pleasure, save the vastness of desolate wastes, the tombs of the washing of the flood! Towards night, however, we were gratified by finding a few decrepid old cotton-wood trees, on the bank of the Sheetskadee, among which to encamp. Our horses hav[Pg 282]ing had little food for the last forty-eight hours, devoured with eager appetite the dry grass along the banks. Since {59} leaving Brown's Hole, our course had been nearly due north.

22nd. Travelled up Green River about three miles, crossed it three times, and took to the hills on its western side. The course of the river, as far as seen in this valley, is nearly south; the bottom and banks generally of gravel; the face of the country a dry, barren, undulating plain.[168] Our course, after leaving the river, was north-west by north. About two o'clock, we struck Ham's Fork, a tributary of Green River, and encamped near the water-side.[169] This stream probably pours down immense bodies of water when the snow melts upon the neighbouring highlands; for its channel, at the place where we struck it, was half a mile in width, and two hundred feet deep. Very little water is said to run in it during July, August and September. The current was three or four inches in depth, a rod wide, and sluggish. Three butes appeared in the north-east, about twelve o'clock, fifteen miles distant. One of them resembled a vast church, surmounted by a perpendicular shaft of rock, probably three hundred feet in height. The swelling base resembled in colour the sands of this region. The rock shaft was dark, probably basalt.

{60} By the side of this, springing immediately from the plain, rose another shaft of rock, about one hundred [Pg 283]and fifty feet high, of regular outline, and about fifteen feet in diameter. Seven or eight miles to the north, rose another bute, a perpendicular shaft, fifty or sixty feet in height, resting upon a base of hills which rise about three hundred feet above the plain. Beyond these butes, to the east, the country seemed to be an open plain. To the south of them extends a range of dark mountains, reaching far into the dimly-discerned neighbourhood of Long's Peak.[170] The whole circle of vision presented no other means of life for man or beast than a few small patches of dry grass, and the water of the stream. Many of the sandy bluffs were covered with the prickly pear and wild wormwood. Generally, however, nothing green, nothing but the burnt, unproductive waste appeared, which no art of man can reclaim. Yet far in the north, the snowy peaks of Wind River Mountains, and to the south-west, a portion of the Anahuac ridge indicated that it might be possible to find along the borders of this great grave of vegetation, green vales and purling brooks to alleviate the desolation of the scene.

We travelled fifteen miles to-day, and {61} encamped upon the bank of the stream; cooked supper, and wrapping ourselves in our blankets, with saddles for pillows, and curtained by the starry firmament, slept sweetly among the overhanging willows. Near midnight, the light of the moon aroused me. It was a lovely night. The stars seemed smaller than they do in less elevated situations, but not less beautiful. For, although they are not so brilliant, they burn steadily, brightly on the hours of night in these magnificent wastes. It was midnight. The wolves are correct time-keepers.

[Pg 284]

I had scarcely viewed the delightful scene around me, when these sleepless sentinels of the deserts raised their midnight howl. It rung along the chambers of the mountains, was, at intervals, taken up by kennel after kennel, till, in the deep and distant vales, it yielded again to the all-pervading silence of night. This is one of the habits that instinct has taught their race. As soon as the first light of morning appears in the east, they raise a reveille howl in the prairies of the Western States which, keeping company with the hours, swells along the vast plains from Texas to the sources of the Mississippi, and from Missouri to the depths of the Rocky Mountains. All day {62} they lurk in silence. At midnight, another howl awakens the sleeping wilderness—more horrible and prolonged; and it is remarkable with what exactness they hit the hour.

23rd. We were up this morning before the light; and while the sun rose in the Great Gap, mounted our jaded horses for the day's ride. As we moved onward upon the elevated bluffs which border the river, the light of the morning showed the butes clearly on the eastern horizon. Jim paid little regard to the course of the stream to-day; but struck a bee line for some object, unseen by us, across the hills—at times among wild wormwood, at others among sharp, flinty stones, so thickly laid over the ground that none but an Indian horse would travel over them. We occasionally approached the stream, and were gratified with the appearance of a few solitary old cotton-wood trees on its banks. A poor, stinted shrub willow, too, made great effort here and there to prolong existence, but with little success. Even in one little nook, the wild rose, currant, and bulberry bushes had the effrontery to bear leaves.

About four o'clock, P. M., small patches of dry grass were[Pg 285] seen in the ravines. On one {63} of these were five buffalo; but they proved to us more delightful to the sight than to any other sense, since I was unable to induce my guide to halt and hunt them. This apparently unpardonable stubbornness was afterward explained. He had the only animal which could run fast enough to approach them—he alone could ride him—and having lost his right thumb, protested that he could not discharge his piece from a running horse. But having no interpreter with us to render his furious protestations intelligible, I attributed his unwillingness to lay in a supply of good meat here to mere malicious indifference. At five o'clock, we came upon a plat of excellent grass, around a clump of yellow pines. Near this, weary and hungry, we made our camp for the night; ate the half of the meat in our possession—a mere mite—and gorged ourselves with wild currants, which grew plentifully among the pines, until the darkness bade us cease. Course as yesterday: the butes out of sight during the afternoon. We supposed we had travelled twenty miles; weather exceedingly warm.

24th. Rode on a fast trot till about three o'clock, P. M., made about twenty-five miles. Our route lay over sandy and gravelly {64} swells, and the bottom lands of Ham's Fork; the latter, like the former, were well nigh destitute of vegetation.[171] When about to encamp, we had the excellent fortune to espy an antelope on a bluff hard by. He fell before the well levelled rifle of our one-thumbed guide. A fat one he was too; just such an one as the imaginations of our hungry stomachs had all the day been figuring to themselves would afford a pleasant variety in the matter of starvation. The circle of vision, the last day or two, had been very much circumscribed by the increasing size of the undulating bluffs, among which our way [Pg 286]usually ran. And from their tops, whenever we chanced to go over them, neither the Wind River Mountains nor the Anahuac range were visible. In all directions, to the limit of sight, rolled away the dead, leafless, thirsty swells. Wolves and ravens live among them; but whence they derive subsistence is a difficult problem even for themselves to solve. Their howlings and croakings evidently came from famished mouths.

25th. Fifteen miles to-day along the river; course as on the 24th, N. W. by W., among the bluffs that border the stream; or if that were tortuous, we travelled from bend {65} to bend, over the table lands on either side. In the valley of the stream, small groves of young and thrifty cotton-wood trees, currant bushes, and the black alder, gave us hopes of soon seeing the grasses and flowers, and the cool springs of the highlands, between us and the Great Beaver [Bear] River. The day, however, was sultry; scarcely a breath of wind moved; the dust that rose from our track lay on the air as the smoke of a village does on a still May morning. So that these occasional appearances of vegetable life imparted less pleasure than they would have done if we had been able to see them through another medium than the dripping mud, manufactured from dust and perspiration.

Near mid-day, we crossed the river from its northern to its southern side, and were emerging from the bushes which entangled our egress, when Jim, uttering a shrill whoop, pointing to a solitary horseman urging his horse up the bluff a half mile below us. Beckoning him to us, we dismounted to allow our jaded animals to feed until he should arrive. In the style of a true mountaineer, he dashed up to us on a rapid gallop, greeting us with as hearty a shake of the hand as he could have bestowed {66} upon a brother, and asked our names and destination;[Pg 287] said his name was "Midison Gordon, an independent trapper, that he was bound to Brown's Hole for his squaw and 'possibles,' and was glad to see us," in less time than is usually employed in saying half as much; and accepting an invitation to encamp with us, he continued to express his pleasure at seeing us, till our attention was diverted from him by a halt for the night.

These remnants of the great trapping parties of the American Fur Company,[172] commonly make Brown's Hole their winter quarters. Indeed, I believe the owners of that post to be old trappers of the Company, who, having lost all their relish for former habits of life, by a long residence in the mountains, have established themselves there in order to bring around them, not only the means of subsistence according to their taste, but their merry old companions with their tales, jests, and songs, and honest and brave hearts. Gordon, like all other trappers whom I saw in the mountains, was convinced that there were so few beaver, so little meat, and so many dangers among them, that "a white man had no business there." He, therefore, was going for his {67} squaw and "possibles," preparatory to descending the Columbia to open a farm in the valley of the Willamette. He said that was also the intention of nearly all his fellow-trappers. They proposed to take with them their Indian wives and children, settle in one neighbourhood, and cultivate the earth, or hunt, as inclination or necessity might suggest, and thus pass the evening of their days among the wild pleasures of that delightful wilderness.

26th. Course north-west; distance twenty miles; sometimes on the banks of the river, and again over the swells, to avoid its windings. The country through which we[Pg 288] passed to-day, was in some respects more interesting than any we had seen since leaving Brown's Hole. Instead of plateaux, baked and flinty, or hills of loose unproductive loam and sand, shorn by perpetual drought of flower, shrub, and tree, a journey of twenty miles over which would hardly cross grass enough to feed a dozen horses a single day, the slopes of a thousand spherical hills, as green as the fields of the States in May, sent forth the sweet fragrance of teeming vegetation; little streams ran away among the black, white, and orange pebbles; and the dandelion, {68} anemone, and other flowers rejoiced in the spring-day breezes which crept over them. It was May indeed here. The snow had lately disappeared, and the rains had still later been falling, as they do in April in other places. The insects were piping the note of an opening year.

It was the dividing ridge between the tributaries of the Sheetskadee and Great Bear River; and yet not a ridge.[173] When viewed from its highest points, it appeared an elevated plateau of slightly conical swells, so raised above the vast deserts on the east of it, as to attract the moisture of the clouds. The soil of this region is, however, poor,—not sufficient to bear timber. The grasses grow rankly over most of its surface; and those parts which are barren are covered with red or white sand, that contrasts beautifully with the matted green of other portions. In a word, it was one of those places among the mountains where all is pure. There the air is dense—the water cold—the vegetation fresh; there the snow lies nine months of the year, and when it eventually melts before the warm suns of June and July, the earth is clothed with vegetation almost in a day. About sunset, we descended a sharp declivity of broken {69} rocks, and encamped on a small [Pg 289]stream running north. My indefatigable Jim Shoshonie killed an antelope for our suppers. An unexpected favour this; for, from the representations given me of this part of my route, I expected to commence here a long-consuming fast, which would not be broken till I reached Fort Hall, or my grave.

27th. Our last night's encampment proved to have been on a branch of the Great Bear River—the principal, if not the only feeder of the Great Salt Lake.[174] We started down along its verdant little valley about seven o'clock in the morning, and reached the main river about twelve at noon. It was twenty yards wide—water two feet deep, and transparent, current four miles per hour, bottom of brown sand and gravel. After feeding our animals, we descended the river till four o'clock, and halted on its banks for the night. We had travelled thirty miles. The mountains which hemmed in the valley were generally of a conical form, primitive, and often verdant. Their height varied from five hundred to two thousand five hundred feet above the level of the stream. The bottom lands were from one to three miles wide, of a {70} loose, dry, gravelly soil, covered with withered bunch grass. By the water side grew various kinds of trees, as quaking-asp, black birch, and willows; also shrubs of various kinds, as the black alder, small willow, wild wormwood, black currant, and service berry. In the ravines of the mountains, groves of trees sometimes appeared peering up luxuriantly among the black projecting cliffs.

28th. An early rising, a hurried meal, and a rapid saddling and packing of horses, started us from camp at six o'clock. While girding our saddle animals, the last act done in breaking up camp in mountain life, Jim's eagle eye discerned in the distance down the river, "hos, hos."

[Pg 290]

Indian like, for we had become such in our habits, we put new caps on our rifles, mounted quickly, and circled out behind a barricade of brushwood, in order to ascertain the number, colour, and purpose of such unceremonious intruders upon the territories of our solitude. Jim peered through the leaves with the utmost intensity of an Indian's vision. It was the place for war-parties of the Crows, Sioux, and Blackfeet; and this early appearance of individuals approaching our camp was a circumstance that scented strongly of bows {71} and arrows. But suspense became certainty, a pleasant certainty, as Jim reined his horse from concealment, and galloped away to the stranger, now within rifle-shot of us.

A strong and warm shake of the hand, and various contortions of the face, and uncouth gestures of recognition between them, completed their interview, and the swarthy old trapper approached myself and men. He was no [Pg 291]less a personage than the bear-killer, Meek, who figures in the St. Louis Museum, with the paws of an immense grisly bear upon his shoulders in front, the fingers and thumb of his left hand bitten off, while with his right hand he holds the hunter's knife, plunged deeply in the animal's jugular vein.[175] He accosted me with, "Good morning, how are ye?—stranger in the mountains, eh?" And before I could make a monosyllabic reply, he continued, "Have you any meat? Come, I've got the shoulder of a goat, (antelope); let us go back to your camp, and cook, and eat, and talk awhile." We were harnessed for the day's ride, and felt unwilling to lose the cool hours of the morning, and much more so to consume the generous man's last pound of meat. Thanking him, {72} therefore, for his honest kindness, we satisfied him with our refusal, by the assurance that we had meat, and had already breakfasted. On hearing that we were travelling to the Columbia river, he informed us that we might probably go down with the Nez Percés Indians, who, he stated, were encamped at the time on Salmon river, one day's journey from Fort Hall. He was on his way to Brown's Hole for his squaw and "possibles," with the design of joining their camp. These Indians would leave their hunting grounds for their homes about ten days from that date.

This was another remnant of the American Fur Company's trapping parties. He came to the mountains many years ago, and has so long associated with Indians that his manners much resemble theirs. The same wild, unsettled, watchful expression of the eye, the same unnatural gesticulation in conversation, the same unwillingness to use words when a sign, a contortion of the face or body, or movement of the hand will manifest thought; in standing, walking, riding, in all but complexion, he was an[Pg 292] Indian. Bidding us good morning, and wheeling away to the day's ride, he said, "Keep your eye shining for the Blackfeet. {73} They are about the 'Beer Springs'; and stay, my white horse tired, one camp down the river; was obliged to 'cache' my pack and leave him; use him if you can, and take him on to the Fort; and look here, I have told you I am Meek, the bear-killer, and so I am. But I think the boys at the museum in St. Louis might have done me up as it really was. The beast only jumped on my back, and stripped off my blanket; scratched some, but didn't pull my shoulder blade off. Well, after he had robbed me of my blanket, I shoved my rifle against him, and blew out his heart. That's all—no fingers bitten off, no knifing; I merely drove a little lead into his palpitator."

So saying, he spurred his weary animal to a trot, and was soon hidden among the underbrush of the intervales. Meek was evidently very poor. He had scarcely clothing enough to cover his body; and while talking with us, the frosty winds which sucked up the valley, made him shiver like an aspen leaf. He reverted to his destitute situation, and complained of the injustice of his former employers, the little remuneration he had received for the toils and dangers he had endured on their account, &c., a complaint which I had {74} heard from every trapper whom I had met on my journey. The valley opened wider as we pursued our way along its northern side; the soil, the water, and vegetation much the same in quantity and quality as those which we had passed on the 27th. The mountains on either hand spread into rocky precipitous ridges, piled confusedly one above another in dark threatening masses. Among them hung, in beautiful wildness from the crevices of the cliffs, numerous shrub cedars.

The mountain flax was very abundant and ripe. The[Pg 293] root resembled that of perennial plants, the fibres that of the annual blue-bowl of the States, the flower the same, the seed vessel the same; but the seeds themselves were much smaller, and of a very dark brown colour. This valley is the grain-field and root-garden of the Shoshonie Indians; for there grow in it a number of kinds of edible roots, which they dig in August, and dry for winter use. There is also here a kind of grass, bearing a seed of half the size of the common rye, and similar in form. This they also gather, and parch and store away in leather sacks, for the season of want. These Indians had been gathering in their roots, &c., a few {75} days previous to our arrival. I was informed, however, that the crop was barely sufficient to subsist them while harvesting it. But, in order to prevent their enemies from finding whatever might have escaped their own search, they had burned over large sections of the most productive part. This day's ride was estimated at thirty miles. Our camp at night was in a dense copse of black alders by the water-side. Ate our last meat for supper—no prospect of getting more until we should arrive at Fort Hall, four days' ride.

29th. Up with the sun and on march. After an hour's ride, we came upon Meek's white horse. He came to us on as fast a gallop, and with as noisy a neighing as if Zimmerman had never dipt his quill in solitude, and wrote the laws for destroying nature, for nature's good. Jim now put spur to his noble animal, with the regularity of the march of the tread-mill. And, by way of apology for his haste, pointed to the ground, and laying his head on one shoulder, and snoring, said, "u—gh, ugh," which being interpreted, meant that our next snoring place was a very, very long day's journey away. And one acquainted with Indian firmness, would have read in {76} his countenance, while making this communication, a determination[Pg 294] to reach it before nightfall, whatever might be the consequences. And so we did. At sunset our camp kettle was bubbling over the bones of a pelican at the "Steamboat spring." The part of the valley seen to-day was generally covered with a stout coat of bunch grass. This, and other indications, led me to suppose it fertile. Yet it appeared questionable if it would yield the ordinary fruits of agriculture without being irrigated.[176]

I noticed, however, during the day's ride, a number of points at which the waters of the river might be conducted over very large tracts of excellent soil. The scarcity of fencing timber appeared an obstacle, certainly; but other than this, there seemed to me no considerable cause of doubt that the valley of the Great Bear River will, in the course of time, become one of the most prosperous abodes of cultivated life. Its situation, so remote from either ocean, only increases our expectation of such an event, when it is recollected that the most practicable waggon route between the States and Oregon Territory and the Californias, runs through it.

The north end of the Great Salt Lake is {77} thirty miles from our present encampment, and the mountains on the borders of the valley are more abrupt and craggy, the water of the stream more abundant, and the soil more productive, than in the part already described. A number of creeks also entering the main stream from the East, open up among the black heights a number of lesser and charming vales; and around the union of the river with the Lake are excellent water, soil and timber, under skies of perpetual spring. Of the Lake itself I heard much from different individuals who had visited different portions of its coast.

[Pg 295]

The substance of their statements, in which they all agree, is that it is about two hundred miles long, eighty or one hundred wide; the water exceedingly heavy; and so salt, say they in their simple way, that pieces of wood dipped in it and dried in the sun are thickly frosted with pure white salt; that its coasts are generally composed of swells of sand and barren brown loam, on which sufficient moisture does not fall to sustain any other vegetation than the wild wormwood and prickly pear; that all attempts to go round it in canoes have, after a day or two of trial, been abandoned {78} for want of fresh water; that the Great Bear River is the only considerable stream putting into it; that high land is seen near the centre of it;—but whether this be an island or a long peninsula there was a difference of opinion among my informants. The valleys of the Great Bear River and its tributaries, as well as the northern portion of the Lake, are supposed to be within the territory of the States.[177]

The immediate neighbourhood of our encampment is one of the most remarkable in the Rocky Mountains. The facts that the trail to Oregon and California will for ever of necessity, pass within three hundred yards of the place where our camp fire is burning; that near this spot must be erected a resting-place for the long lines of caravans between the harbours of the Pacific and the waters of the Missouri, would of themselves interest all who are witnessing the irresistible movements of civilization upon the American continent. But this spot has other objects of interest: its Geology and its Mineralogy, and I might well say the Chemistry of it, (for there are laboratories[Pg 296] and gases here in the greatest profusion), will hereafter occupy the attention of the lovers of these sciences. The Soda Springs, called {79} by the fur traders Beer Springs, are the most remarkable objects of the kind within my knowledge. They are situated on the north-west side of the river, a few rods below a grove of shrub cedars, and about two hundred yards from the shore. There are six groups of them; or in other words, there are six small hollows sunken about two feet below the ground around, of circular form, seven or eight feet in diameter, in which are a number of fountains sending up large quantities of gas and water, and emitting a noise resembling the boiling of immense cauldrons. These pools are usually clear, with a gravelly bottom. In some of them, however, grow bogs or hassocks of coarse grass, among which are many little wells, where the water bubbled so merrily that I was tempted to drink at one of them. But as I proceeded to do so, the suffocating properties of the gas instantly drove me from my purpose. After this rebuff, however, I made another attempt at a more open fountain, and drank with little difficulty.

The waters appeared to be more highly impregnated with soda and acid than those of Saratoga; were extremely pleasant to the taste, and fumed from the {80} stomach like the soda water of the shops. Some of them threw off at least four gallons of gas a second. And although they cast up large masses of water continually, for which there appeared no outlet, yet at different times of observation I could perceive no increase or diminution of the quantity visible. There are five or six other springs in the bank of the river just below, the waters of which resemble those I have described. One of them discharges about forty gallons a minute.

One fourth of a mile down stream from the Soda[Pg 297] Spring, is what is called "The Steamboat Spring." The orifice from which it casts its water is in the face of a perpendicular rock on the brink of the stream, which seems to have been formed by the depositions of the fountain. It is eight inches in diameter. Six feet from this, and on the horizontal plane of the rock, is another orifice in the cavern below. On approaching the spring, a deep gurgling, hissing sound is heard underground. It appears to be produced by the generating of gas in a cavernous receiver. This, when the chamber is filled, bursts through another cavern filled with water, which it thrusts frothing and foaming into the stream. In {81} passing the smaller orifice, the pent gas escapes with very much the same sound as steam makes in the escape-pipe of a steamboat. Hence the name. The periods of discharge are very irregular. At times, they occur once in two, at others, once in three, four or five minutes. The force of its action also is subject to great variation. Those who have been there, often say that its noise has been heard to echo far among the hills. When I visited it I could not hear it at the distance of two hundred yards. There is also said to be a difference at different times in the temperature of the water. When I examined it, it was a little above blood heat. Others have seen it much higher.

The most remarkable phenomenon connected with these springs, remains yet to be noticed. The whole river, from the Steamboat spring to the Soda Springs, (a distance of more than a fourth of a mile), is a sheet of springs, thousands in number, which bursting through two feet of superincumbent running water, throw their foaming jets, some six inches, and some less, above the surface. The water is much the same in its constituent qualities, as that of the Soda springs.[178]

[Pg 298]

{82} There are in the immediate vicinity of the Steamboat Spring, and on the opposite side of the river numerous rocks with orifices in their centres, and other evidences of having been formed by intermittent springs that have long ago ceased to act.

The scenery around these wonderful fountains, is very wild. To the east north-east, opens up the upper valley of Great Bear River, walled in on either side by dark primitive mountains, beetling over the vale, and towering on the sky. To the south south-west sweeps away the lower valley.—On either side of it rise lofty mountains of naked rocks, the wild sublimity of which contrasts strikingly with the sweet beauty of the stream and vale below.

Although statements in regard to what shall transpire in the future, are always a work more befitting a seer than a journalist, yet I cannot forbear expressing the belief that the healthiness and beauty of their locality—the magnificence of the scenery on the best routes to them from the States and from the Pacific, the manifest superiority of these waters over any others, will cause "The Soda Springs" to be thronged with the gay and fashionable of both sides of the continent.

{83} 30th. Our sleep had been interrupted at midnight by the blazing fires of an Indian encampment on a neighbouring hill. And once awakened by such a cause, the tracks of a war party, probably of Blackfeet, which we had crossed during the day, were sufficient to put us on duty the remainder of the night. At early dawn, we saddled and moved in silence a few hundred yards down the river, turned to the right around the Bute in the rear of the Steamboat spring, entered the "Valley of chasms," [Pg 299]and soon brought the mountains on its northern border, between us and our suspicious neighbours.

This valley derives its name from the numerous cracks or chasms in the volcanic rocks on which it rests. They are so wide and deep that the natives, for many miles at the lower part of it, have been obliged to run their trail over the lower swells of the hills on its north-western side. Up this trail Jim rode on a brisk trot, beckoning us, in an ominous manner to follow, and keep in a body near him. The "cut rock" and scoriæ lay every where, and crippled the poor animals at almost every step. Onward he led us, with all the speed which the severest inflictions of spur and whip could {84} produce, till the shutting in of night deposited us among the willows on the stream of the valley, forty miles from our last night's encampment. The rapidity of our travelling to-day, allowed me little time to examine this singular valley. I noticed merely that it was, like the intervales of Bear River, covered with bunch-grass, which the thirsty suns of summer had dried to hay. A curious gas spring also attracted my attention about nine o'clock in the morning. Its bubbling and its beautiful reservoir appeared to arouse the admiration even of my dogged guide Jim: he halted to look at it. Jim, for the first time since I had had the honour of his acquaintance, absolutely stopped to look at, and admire a portion of the earth. It was a fine specimen of Nature's masonry. The basin was about six feet in diameter; the bottom a circular horizontal plane; around the edge rose a rim or flanche, eight inches in height; all one solid rock. In the centre of the bottom arose the gas and water: the latter was six inches deep, limpid, and slightly acid. This fountain was situated a few rods to the right of the trail.

31st. We took to our saddles, and in three hours reached the foot of the mountains {85} which divide the[Pg 300] "Valley of chasms" from Snake River. There is a wide depression through the heights here of so gentle a declination, that loaded waggons can pass from one valley to the other without difficulty. Up this we turned. It was covered with green grass and shrubs and trees, among which a little brook was whispering to the solitude.[179]

The small birds, too, were chirping among the bright flowers and bending boughs; and on either hand, as if to guard so much loveliness from the winds of surrounding desolation, the black crags rose and frowned one thousand five hundred feet in air. But hunger!! Every bud was fed; every bird had its nourishment; the lizards even were not starving. We were. When about half way up the gorge, one of Smith's horses tired and refused to go farther. The fellow's wound, received in the plains, had healed; and with strength from time to time, his petty tyranny towards his animals increased till being entirely recovered, he seemed to have resumed a degree of malignity towards them whenever they did not chance to comprehend his wishes, or were unable to comply with them, that would be incredible if described. In this case, he {86} cut a strong goad; and following the slow steps of the worn-out animal, struck her lengthwise over the almost denuded ribs as frequently and as long as he had strength to do it; and then would rest and strike again with renewed vengeance, until his beast dropped her head and received his blows without a movement. Remonstrance, and the astonished gazing of my savage guide, only increased his severity. And thus he continued to beat the poor animal, till, being convinced against his will, that he even could not make a dying horse heed his command, he bestowed upon her a farewell kick and curse and left her.

About four o'clock we stood on the high ground which[Pg 301] divides the waters of the little brook which we had followed up, from a small head stream of Portneuf. The valley of the great southern branch of the Columbia, was spread out before us. Slaking our thirst at a cool spring, we travelled five miles down the mountain, and encamped in sight of the Trois Butes.[180] When we halted, I was too much exhausted with hunger and fatigue to unsaddle my horse. We had been on short allowance most of the time since leaving Fort David Crockett. The day on which we arrived at the Soda Springs, I ate {87} the eighth part of a pelican; the two last past days, nothing. But I suffered less from the gnawings of hunger than I had on the previous night. A deadly stupor pervaded the gastric and nervous systems; a sluggish action of the heart, a dimness of vision and painful prostration of every energy of life were creeping upon me. After a little rest, however, I crept to the bushes, and after a long search, found two red rosebuds! These I gladly ate, and went to my couch to dream of feasts.

The 1st of September was a fine day. The sun was bright and unclouded, as he came in his strength over the eastern mountains, and awakened us from our slumbers among the alders on the bank of Portneuf. Hunger, indeed, was still gnawing at our vitals. But sleep had banished weariness, and added something to the small stock of our remaining strength; and the recollection of past perils—perils of floods, of tempests, of Indian foes—death threatened at every step during a journey of three months in the plains and mountains—the inspiring view of the vale of the great southern branch of the Columbia, so long promised us in hope along our weary way—the fact that we were in Oregon, unmoored the mind from {88}[Pg 302] its anxieties, and shed over us a gladness which can only be comprehended by those who, having suffered as we had, have viewed as we did, from some bright height, their sufferings ended, in the rich, ripe possession of the objects so ardently sought. We were in Oregon. Fort Hall lay in the plain before us. Its hospitalities would be enjoyed ere sunset. Our wardrobes were overhauled, our razors put on duty, our sunburnt frames bathed in the Portneuf; and equipped in our best, our hearts beat joyfully back the rapid clattering of our horses' hoofs on the pavements of the mountains, as we rushed to the plains. An hour among the sands and wild wormwood, an hour among the oozing springs, and green grass around them, an hour along the banks of Saptin River, and we passed a line of timber springing at right angles into the plain; and before us rose the white battlements of Fort Hall![181]

As we emerged from this wood, Jim intimated that we should discharge our rifles; and as we did so, a single armed horseman issued from the gate of the Fort approached us warily, and skulking among the copses, scanned us in the most inquisitive manner. Having satisfied himself at {89} last that our skins were originally intended to be white, he came alongside; and learning that we were from the States; that we had no hostile intentions; that we knew Mr. Walker to be in the Fort, and would be glad to have our compliments conveyed to him, he returned; and Mr. Walker immediately appeared.[182] A friendly salutation was followed by an invitation to enter the Fort; and a "welcome to Fort Hall," was given in a manner so kind and obliging, that nothing seemed wanting to make us feel that we were at home. A generous flagon of Old Jamaica, wheaten bread, and butter newly churned, and buffalo tongues fresh from the neighbouring mountains, made their appearance as soon as we had rid ourselves of the equipage and dust of journeying, and allayed the dreadful sense of starvation.


[164] This was the party of which Dr. Wislizenus of St. Louis was a member (see ante, p. 173, note 108). They left the frontier in a caravan of twenty-seven persons, of whom nine were employés of Chouteau's fur company, and the others heterogeneous travellers and immigrants. Wislizenus had intended to go on to Oregon and then to California; but the divisions in the party, and the lateness of the season, determined him to return from Fort Hall. Two of his companions joined him, and they engaged Richardson, who had taken the outward journey in the capacity of hunter, to guide them back, purposing to take the southerly route on the return. Dr. Wislizenus had undertaken this journey for the sake of his health, as well as in order to see the marvels of the Western mountains. Richardson was chief hunter for Wyeth's party in 1833. Townsend well describes him in his Narrative, in our volume xxi, pp. 152-155; see also pp 171, 211, 255, 256, 264.—Ed.

[165] John S. Griffin (not Griffith) was a native (1807) of Castleton, Vermont, educated in New England, but taking a theological course at Oberlin, where he was graduated in 1838. He prepared to go out to the Indians as an independent missionary, and was dispatched by the Congregational church in Litchfield, Connecticut. Having engaged Asahel Munger, a skilled mechanic, to accompany him, he stopped in St. Louis long enough to marry, and left the frontier the last of April, 1839. At Fort Hall, Griffin, because of some differences, left Munger and pushed on to Lapwai, where he spent the winter, Munger having meanwhile joined Dr. Whitman who gladly employed him at his mission for a year and a half. In the spring of 1840 Griffin attempted a mission to the Shoshoni; but becoming discouraged, pressed on to Fort Vancouver, where he spent the second winter, establishing in 1841 a settlement at Tualatin Plains, near the present Hillsboro. He was active in establishing the provisional government, being suggested as candidate for governor, but opposed on account of his profession. Griffin was the editor of the first Oregon magazine, Oregon American and Evangelical Unionist, eight numbers of which were published (1848-49). He established a Congregational church, the first in Washington County, and lived in Oregon until his death in February, 1899. Munger became deranged, and as a religious test cast himself into fire, dying from his injuries, near Salem, Oregon.—Ed.

[166] Sometimes spoken of as the bilberry, but more commonly as the service berry, the fruit of the shad-bush (Amelanchier canadensis).—Ed.

[167] What is now known as the Red Cañon, from the color of its sand-stone walls. See Dellenbaugh, Romance of the Colorado River, p. 64.—Ed.

[168] Farnham had now entered what is known as the Green River valley, that portion of the river above the gorges (or cañons) where the banks are comparatively level. He here joined the Oregon Trail from the east, which came by way of the Sweetwater River and South Pass; see Townsend's Narrative, in our volume xxi, pp. 183-195. This valley was, in 1833-34 and later, the site of several famous rendezvous of fur-traders. See Irving, Rocky Mountains, chapter xx.—Ed.

[169] For Ham's Fork, which is an affluent of Black Fork of Green, see Townsend's Narrative in our volume xxi, p. 197, note 43.—Ed.

[170] For Long's Peak see our volume xv, p. 271, note 126. It must have been some nearer peak, however, which Farnham mistook for Long's; the latter was over a hundred and fifty miles distant.—Ed.

[171] The Oregon Short Line follows this route, up Ham's Fork.—Ed.

[172] For the American Fur Company see Maximilian's Travels in our volume xxii, p. 232, note 159.—Ed.

[173] Known as Bear River Divide, in Unita County, south-west Wyoming.—Ed.

[174] For a description see our volume xxi, p. 199, note 44.—Ed.

[175] Col. Joseph L. Meek (1810-75) was one of the most picturesque of the "mountain men" who settled in Oregon. An extended account of his adventures was published by Frances Fuller Victor, under the title River of the West (Hartford, 1870). Born in Washington County, Virginia, he left home while still a boy, and in 1829 joined Sublette's caravan for the mountain trade. During eleven years he experienced adventures similar to those of other hunters and trappers, in one of which he killed a grizzly bear. The Englishman Stuart (see our volume xxi, p. 197, note 42), coming up with his artist Miller, had a sketch made of the beast which was afterwards elaborated into a picture, and later a wax model for the St. Louis Museum (River of the West, pp. 220-223). Meek went out to Oregon in 1840, settling on Tualatin Plains, where he was active in establishing the provisional government, of which he was first sheriff. After the Whitman massacre of 1847 he was the accredited messenger to Washington, D. C., to obtain consideration for the condition of Oregon. His visit to the East was replete with amusing adventures. Returning as United States marshal, he acted as guide to the party sent to escort to his post the first American governor of Oregon, General Joseph Lane. Meek was prominent in Oregon throughout his later life, being generally known as "Uncle Joe," and he aided in founding the Pioneer Association. See Oregon Pioneer Association Transactions, 1875. His meeting with Farnham is mentioned by Frances Fuller Victor in River of the West, p. 256. For a portrait of Meek, see the frontispiece to that volume, also Lyman, History of Oregon, iii, p. 66.—Ed.

[176] Irrigation has made considerable progress in Bear River valley, chiefly under the auspices of the settlers of that region.—Ed.

[177] Great Salt Lake has one long promontory and several islands. By his use of the term "territory of the States," Farnham assumes that Bear valley and a portion of Great Salt Lake lie north of the 42nd parallel of latitude, then the boundary with Mexico; see our volume xix, p. 217, note 52. Actually, only a portion of Bear River and none of Great Salt Lake are north of that latitude.—Ed.

[178] See a previous description of this region in Townsend's Narrative, our volume xxi, p. 200. See also Frémont's description, Senate Docs., 28 Cong., 2 sess., 174, pp. 135-138.—Ed.

[179] See De Smet's description of this defile in our volume xxvii, p. 248.—Ed.

[180] See Townsend's Narrative in our volume xxi, p. 209, note 49; also p. 249, note 124, of De Smet's Letters in our volume xxvii.—Ed.

[181] See account of founding of Fort Hall in Townsend's Narrative, our volume xxi, pp. 210, 211, with accompanying note.—Ed.

[182] This may have been Courtney M. Walker, who came out with the Lees in 1834. He had charge of much of Wyeth's business, and may have been employed by the Hudson's Bay Company. Wislizenus and Robert Shortess, both of whom were at Fort Hall in the same year, before and after Farnham, speaks of Francis Ermatinger as factor in charge, although Wislizenus also mentions Walker.—Ed.

[Pg 303]


The Rocky Mountains and their Spurs—Geography of the Mountain Region—Wyeth—The Outset—The Beaver Catcher's Bride—Trois Butes—Addition from a Monastery—Orisons—A Merry Mountain Trapper—Root Diggers—Enormous Springs—Volcanic Hearths and Chasms—Carbo—An old Chief—A Bluff—Boisais River—Incident of Trade—The Bonaks—The Dead Wail—Fort Boisais, its Salmon, Butter and Hearty Cheer—Mons. Payette—Curiosity—Departure—Passing the Blue Mountains—The Grandeur of them—Their Forests, Flowers, and Torrents—Descent of the Mountains—Plain, a Christian Crane—Arrival at Dr. Whitman's Mission—Wallawalla—People—Farm—Mill—Learning—Religion—Mr. Ermitinger—Blair—Nez Percés—Racing—Indian Horse Training—Sabbath and its joys in the Wilderness.

It will not be uninteresting while pausing here, and making preparations to descend Snake, Lewis, or Saptin river,[183] to lead my readers back over that portion of my journey which lay among the mountains. I do not design to retrace my steps here, however, in order again to attempt a description of sufferings which can never be described. They are past; and let their remembrance {91} die. But a succinct account of the region lying west of the Anahuac [Pg 304]ridge, and between latitudes 39° and 42° north—its mountains, its plains, its rivers, &c., will, I persuade myself, be new, and not without interest to the reader.

James' Peak, Pike's Peak, and Long's Peak, may be called the outposts of a lofty range of rocky mountains, which, for convenience in description, I have called Long's Range, extending nearly due north from the Arkansas, in latitude 39°, to the Great Gap in latitude 42° north.[184]

The range is unconnected with any other. It is separated from the Wind River Mountains by the Great Gap or Great Southern Pass, and from the Great Anahuac Range by the upper valleys of the Arkansas, those of the South Fork of the Platte, and those of the Green and Grand rivers. Two spurs spring off from it to the west: the one from James' Peak, the other from Long's Peak. These spurs, as they proceed westward, dip lower and lower till they terminate—the first in the rough cliffs around the upper waters of the Arkansas, and the latter in spherical sand-hills around the lower waters of Grand river.[185] The Anahuac Mountains were seen from about latitude 39° to {92} 42° north. This range lies about two hundred miles west of Long's Range, and between latitude 39 and 40°, has a general course of north north-west. It appeared an unbroken ridge of ice and snow, rising in some points, I think, more than fifteen thousand feet above the level of the sea. From latitude 41° it tends to the north-west by west, past the north-eastern shore of the Great Salt Lake to the northern end of it; and thence [Pg 305]westwardly to a point south of Portneuf, where it unites with the range of the Snowy Mountains.

The Snowy Mountains are a transverse range or spur of the Rocky Mountains, which run from the Wind River Mountains, latitude 42° north, in nearly a right line to Cape Mendocino, latitude 40°, in Upper California. Many portions of this range, east as well as west of Fort Hall, are very lofty, and covered with perpetual snow. About one hundred miles from the coast of the Pacific it intersects that range of snowy peaks called the President's Range, which comes down from Puget's sound, and terminates in the arid plains about the mouth of the Colorado of the West.[186]

{93} The Wind River Mountains are a spur which shoots from the great northern chain, commonly called the Rocky Mountains, in latitude 42° and odd minutes north; and running in a south-easterly direction into the Great Prairie Wilderness, forms the northern wall of the Great Gap or Great Southern Pass.[187]

On the northern side of the Wind River Peaks, are the sources of Jefferson, Madison, and Gallatin rivers;[188] on the south-eastern side rises the Sweetwater, the north-western-most branch of the North Fork of the Great Platte; on the southern side the Sheetskadee or Green river, the northern branch of the Colorado of the West; on the north-western side and north of the Snowy Mountains, [Pg 306]spring down the Saptin, Snake, or Lewis river, the great southern branch of the Columbia.

On the western side of Long's Range, rises the Grand river, the principal branch of the Colorado of the West.[189] It furnishes four times the quantity of water that Green river does. Further south, in the vicinity of James' Peak, and on the west side of this range, rises the South Fork of the Great Platte.[190]

Close under the eastern base of the Anahuac {94} or Great Main Ridge, and nearly in latitude 39½° north, are the sources of the Arkansas.

The immense parallelogram lying within these ranges of mountains, may be described by saying that it is a desert of arid plains and minor mountains. And if this general appellation be qualified by the accounts given on previous pages of Boyou Salade, Old Park, &c. very small portions of the whole area, the description will be complete.

Fort Hall was built by Captain Wyeth, of Boston in 1832, for the purposes of trade with the Indians in its vicinity. He had taken goods into the lower part of the Territory, to exchange for salmon. But competition soon drove him from his fisheries to this remote spot, where he hoped to be permitted to purchase furs of the Indians without being molested by the Hudson's Bay Company, whose nearest post was seven hundred miles away.[191]

In this he was disappointed. In pursuance of the [Pg 307]avowed doctrine of that company, that no others have a right to trade in furs west of the Rocky Mountains, whilst the use of capital and their incomparable skill and perseverance can prevent it, they established a fort near him, preceded him, {95} followed him, surrounded him every where, and cut the throat of his prosperity with such kindness, and politeness, that Wyeth was induced to sell his whole interest, existent and prospective, in Oregon, to his generous but too indefatigable, skilful, and powerful antagonists.

From what I saw and heard of Wyeth's management in Oregon, I was impressed with the belief that he was, beyond comparison, the most talented business-man from the States that ever established himself in the Territory.

The business of this post consists in exchanging blankets, ammunition, guns, tobacco, &c., with the neighbouring Indians, for the skins of the beaver and land otter; and in furnishing white men with traps, horses, saddles, bridles, provisions, &c., to enable them to hunt these animals for the benefit and sole use of the owners, the Hudson's Bay Company. In such cases the horses are borrowed without price; the other articles of the "outfit" sold on credit till the termination of the hunt; and the only security which the Company requires for the return of their animals, is the pledge of honour to that effect, and that the furs taken shall be appropriated at a stipulated price to the payment of arrears.

{96} Goods are sold at this establishment fifty per cent lower than at the American posts. White trappers are paid a higher price for their furs than is paid the Indians; are charged less for the goods which they receive in exchange; and are treated in every respect by this shrewd Company with such uniform justice, that the American trappers even are fast leaving the service of their country[Pg 308]men, for the larger profits and better treatment of British employment. There is also a company of men connected with this Fort, under the command of an American mountaineer, who, following various tribes in their migratory expeditions in the adjacent American and Mexican domain, collect whatever furs may chance to be among them.

By these means, and various others subsidiary to them, the gentlemen in charge of this trading establishment, collected, in the summer of 1839, more than thirty packs of the best beaver of the mountains.

We spent the 2nd and 3rd most agreeably with Mr. Walker, in his hospitable adobie castle; exchanged with him our wearied horses for fresh ones; and obtained dried buffalo meat, sugar, cocoa, tea, and corn meal, a guide, and every other necessary within that gentleman's {97} power to furnish for our journey to Wallawalla. And at ten o'clock, A. M., of the 4th of September, we bade adieu to our very obliging countryman, and took to our saddles on the trail down the desert banks of the Saptin. As we left the Fort, we passed over the ground of an affray, which originated in love and terminated in death. Yes, love on the western declivity of the Rocky Mountains! and love of a white man for an Indian dame!

It appeared that a certain white trapper had taken to himself a certain bronze damsel of the wilderness to be his slave-wife, with all the solemn ceremonies of purchase and payment for the same in sundry horses, dogs, and loads of ammunition, as required by the custom in such affairs governing; and that by his business of trapping for beaver, &c., he was, soon after the banns were proclaimed, separated from his beloved one, for the term of three months and upwards, much against his tender inclination and interest, as the following showeth: for during the terms of his said absence, another white man,[Pg 309] with intent to injure, &c., spoke certain tender words unto the said trapper's slave-wife, which had the {98} effect to alienate from him the purchased and rightfully possessed affections of his slave-spouse, in favour of her seducer. In this said condition did the beaver-catcher find his bride when he came in from the hunt. He loaded his rifle, and killed the robber of his heart. The grave of the victim is there—a warning to all who would trifle with the vested rights of an American trapper in the love of an Indian beauty.

We made about ten miles, and halted for the night. Our guide displayed himself a five feet nine inch stout Wallawalla.[192] He had been in the service of the Hudson Bay Company many years, and was consequently assiduous and dutiful. Yes, consequently so; for neither Indian nor white man is long in their service without learning his place, and becoming active and faithful in doing his duty. As soon as we entered camp, our pack-horses were stripped of their burdens, and turned loose to feed; wood was gathered, and a fire blazing under the kettles, and "all out door" immediately rendered as comfortable to us, as skies spangled with stars, and earth strewn with snowy sand could be made. Wallawalla was a jolly oddity of a mortal. The frontal region of his head had been pressed in infancy {99} most aristocratically into the form of the German idiots; his eyes were forced out upon the corners of the head; his nose hugged the face closely like a bunch of affectionate leeches; hair black as a raven, and flowing over a pair of herculean shoulders; and feet——but who can describe that which has not its like under the skies. Such was Carbo, our Palinurus over the burnt plains of Snake River.

[Pg 310]

The short ride of the day had shown us the western limit of the partial fertility about Fort Hall. The earth had begun to be red, burnt, and barren; grass, sparse and dry; the shrubs and cotton-woods stinted and shrivelled.

The plain of the Trois Butes is situated between the Snowy mountain range on the south, and another ridge which, diverging from it above the sources of the Saptin River, follows that stream down to the Blue Mountains near Wallawalla. This plain by experiment is found to be eight thousand feet above the level of the sea. In the vicinity of the post, there is an abundance of grass for the subsistence of many thousands of animals. The soil, in various parts of it, also appears well adapted to the cultivation of the small grains and esculent roots. But {100} the fact that frosts occur almost every month of the year, shows the extent to which the arable sections can be rendered available for such purposes.

The Trois Butes rise on the plain fifteen or twenty miles east of the Fort.[193] They are pyramidal peaks, probably of volcanic origin, of two thousand feet in height above the plain, and twelve thousand feet above the level of the sea. Around their dark bases grow evergreen trees; from their sides burst small brooks, rendering verdant strips of the plain which radiate beautifully in all directions from them; and over all, during most of the year, hang their crests of glittering snows! East of the Butes, vegetation continually decreases till it ceases in the black crags which embosom the head streams of the river.

On the 5th, travelled thirty miles down the western bank of the river;[194] soil sandy and volcanic, bearing [Pg 311]wild wormwood—in fact a desert; crossed a number of small streams putting into the Saptin; on these a little bunch of grass, and a few alders and willows, tried to grow. Whilst baiting at noon, we were agreeably surprised with an addition to our company, of a young Swiss trapper, eight years in the mountains; he {101} learned the silversmith business when in youth; afterwards entered a monastery and studied Latin, &c., for the order of Priests; ran away from the monastery, entered the French army, deserted, and came to America; sickened, was visited by a Roman priest who had been a classmate with him at the monastery; and having had a more numerous family than was required by the canons of his order, had fled to America, where his orisons would not be disturbed by the cries of infants. On entering our trapper's chamber they mutually recognized each other; and horror immediately seized the pious priest at the recollection of the trapper's sinfulness; and particularly the sin of forsaking the holy places of the mother church; of taking carnal weapons in hands that had been employed in making crosses in the sacred precincts of the cloister. The trapper had contracted the dangerous habit of thinking for himself, and replied to the godly man in a sharp and retaliatory manner; and among other things drew a very ungracious comparison between escaping from prayers and chants, and flying from an unlawful family.

This reference to former delinquencies in {102} a country to which he had fled to escape the remembrance of them, aroused the holy indignation of the priest to such an extent, that he immediately consigned the witness of his fault to worms, and his soul to an apprenticeship at fire eating in purgatory. Our trapper had become a heretic. In the blindness of his heart he had forgotten that the power to save and destroy the soul of man, had[Pg 312] been committed to an order of men chosen, and set apart as the repositories of that portion of Omnipotence; and that whatever errors of conduct may occur in the life of these men, the efficiency of the anathematizing and saving commission is not thereby annulled; and he rose from his bed and hurled at the priest sundry counter anathemas in the form of chairs, and shovel and tongs. I could perceive in him no returning belief in the Omnipotent key of the "Roman Catholic apostolical mother Church." Instead of saying his prayers, and counting the beads of his rosary, he talked of the stirring scenes of a trapper's life, and recounted the wild adventures of the mountains; instead of the sublime Te Deum, he sang the thrilling martial airs of his native land; instead of {103} the crosier, he bore the faithful rifle; instead of the robes of sacred office, he wore the fringed deer skin frock of the children of the wilderness. He was a trapper—a merry mountain trapper.

6th. Twenty-five miles to-day; face of the country, black, hard and barren swells; encamped on a small tributary of the Saptin; very little grass for the animals; found here a family of the Root Digger Indians; the man half clad, children naked, all filthy. She was clad in a wrapper of mountain sheep skin.[195]

7th. Twenty miles. About mid-day heard a loud roaring of waters; descended the chasm of the river and discovered two enormous springs bursting from the basaltic cliffs of the opposite shore. Their roaring was heard[Pg 313] three miles. The lower one discharged water enough to turn the machinery of twenty ordinary manufactories. The water foamed and rushed down inclined planes of rocks the distance of two hundred feet.[196] The country, an undulating, barren, volcanic plain; near the river cut into bluffs; lava every where; wild wormwood and another shrub two feet in height, bearing a yellow blossom, the only wood seen; encamped on a small stream about three miles {104} from the river. Found here the only grass which I had observed during the day.

8th. Still on the western bank of the Saptin; river one-fourth of a mile wide; water extremely clear; current five miles the hour; depth of water about four feet. On the eastern side, the soil appeared a dark mass of imbedded fused rock, stretching in broken undulations to the distant highlands. In that direction twenty miles lay a range of mountains like an irregular line of darkness on the horizon. Every thing touched by our horses' feet claimed a volcano for its birth-place. Thirty miles to-day.

9th. Face of the country the same as that passed over on the 8th—scarcely grass enough to feed our animals, and that dried to hay. The mountains on the west side of the river gradually nearing it. No timber since we left the immediate vicinity of Fort Hall. We cooked our food with the willow bushes which the Indians had killed and rendered dry for such purposes. All the rocks more or less fused; many large tracts of lava; a number of clear little brooks bubbling over the cinders of this great hearth of Nature's fire. Made forty miles.

[Pg 314]

10th. Fifteen miles over "cut rock" and wormwood deserts; and at mid-day descended {105} about six hundred feet in the chasm of the Saptin, and travelled along the brink of the river a short distance; crossed at a place called "The Islands," to the eastern shore.[197]

The river has been dipping deeper in the plain the last three days. A bird's eye view of it for sixty miles above the Islands would present a tortuous chasm, walled by basalt, trap, &c., and sunk along the centre of the valley, from one hundred to eight hundred feet deep, a black chasm, destitute of timber and other evidences of fertility, from a quarter to half a mile in width. In the centre of the bottom rushes the Saptin; over rocks and gravel a clear, pure, strong stream, with a current of five miles to the hour; water three and four feet in depth. Travelled seven or eight miles from the ford and fell in with eight or ten springs of limpid water, bubbling through the flinty crust of the plain. The sun was pouring upon us his fiercest rays, and our thirst was excessive. A halting, dismounting and rushing to the water, the application of our giant's lips to the liquid—a paralysis of his thirst produced by the boiling hot sensation which it imparted to his swearing apparatus, prepared us to resume our ride. Hot springs, {106} boiling hot—no apparent mineral properties.[198]

11th. Travelled to-day thirty-five miles over an irregular, rough, unseemly desert; volcanic stones strewn every where on a black, impenetrable, baked surface; soil too poor to bear the wormwood—trail too far east to see [Pg 315]the river. At ten o'clock, met a petty chief of the Snake Root Diggers and his son on horseback, from Boisais river. He was dressed in a blanket coat, deer skin pants, and moccasins garnished with cut glass beads and strips of red flannel; the boy entirely naked. Carbo learned from him the situation of his tribe, and a few bits of Indian scandal, ascertained that we could reach Boisais river the next day, and that we could probably obtain fresh horses there. His copper-coloured highness than left us to pursue his way to Fort Hall, to get his guns repaired, and we continued ours to the lower Columbia, to get out of this grave of desolation. I had not seen an acre of land since leaving Fort Hall, capable of producing the grains or vegetables. Encamped on a small brook running westwardly towards the Saptin.

12th. On route at six o'clock in the morning; horses weary, and getting crippled {107} pitifully on the "cut rock;" face of the country absolute sterility; our trail near the mountains, about two hundred miles east of the Saptin.[199] At nine o'clock, came to the bluff overlooking Boisais river. Here the valley is sunken six or seven hundred feet; the whole of it below, to the limit of sight, appears to have subsided nearly to a level with the waters of the Saptin. Lines of timber ran along the Boisais, and plats of green grass and shrubs dotted its banks. The mountains, whence the river came, rose in dark stratified ridges. Where the stream escaped from them, there was an immense chasm, with perpendicular sides, which seemed to open into their most distant bases. Horrid crags beetled over its dismal depths. Lofty, rocky ridges [Pg 316]extended far into the north. In the west and north-west towered the Blue Mountains.

We descended the bluff, followed down the Boisais three or four miles, and crossed the river into an encampment of Snake fishermen.[200] They were employed in laying in their winter store of salmon. Many horses were feeding on the plain. We turned ours loose also for a bite of the fresh {108} grass, while we bought fish, &c., and made other arrangements to improve digestion and our speed in travelling. Our business was transacted as follows:—For one large fish-hook we bought one salmon; for one paper of vermillion, six bunches of spawn; for one butcher-knife, one leathern fish rope. Carbo exchanged horses; disposed of one worth five shillings for one worth three, and gave a blanket and ten loads of ammunition to boot. He was vastly pleased with his bargain, and endeavoured to show himself so, by trying to grin like a white man; but he was not skilled in the science of manufacturing laughter, and made a deplorable failure of it. One of my own horses, whose feet were worn and tender, was exchanged with like profit to the shrewd jockeys.

These Indians are more filthy than the Hottentots. Both sexes were nearly naked. Their shelters were made with rush mats wrapped around cones of poles.

Having finished our trading, we travelled about ten miles down the stream, and encamped upon its bank. The plains were well covered with grass; many portions seemed susceptible of cultivation. The bed of {109} the river presented the usual characteristics of a mountain torrent; broad, shallow, with extensive bars of coarse gravel crossing the channel in all directions. The water[Pg 317] limpid, and its quantity might be expressed by saying that the average depth was six inches, width ten yards, rate of current three miles an hour. In the month of June, however, it is said to bring from its maternal mountains immense floods.

13th. A breakfast of boiled spawn, and on trail at sunrise; travelled rapidly down the grassy intervales of Boisais; passed many small groves of timber. Many Indians employed in drying salmon, nearly naked, and dirty and miserable, ran after us for tobacco, and to drive a bargain for horses. All Indians have a mania for barter. They will trade for good or evil to themselves, at every opportunity. Here they beset us on every side. And if at any moment we began to felicitate ourselves on having at last escaped from their annoying petitions for "shmoke" and "hos," the next moment the air would resound with whips and hoofs, and "shmoke, shmoke," "hos," from half a dozen new applicants, more troublesome than their predecessors. No Jew, with old clothes and a pinch-beck watch to sell, ever {110} pressed customers with more assiduity than did these savages. But when we had travelled about thirty miles from our night camp, they all suddenly disappeared; and neither hut nor Shoshonie was seen more. They dare not pass the boundary between themselves and the Bonaks.

Soon after being relieved from these pests, our guide, Carbo, intimated that it would be according to the rules of etiquette in that country for him to leave us, unacquainted though we were with the right trail among the ten thousand that crossed the country in every direction, and proceed to Fort Boisais, to make the important announcement that four white faces were approaching the post. I remonstrated; but remonstrance was mere air in comparison with the importance of doing his duty in[Pg 318] the most approved style; and away he shot, like an arrow from the bows of his tribe, over hillock and through the streams and copses, till lost from view. It was about four o'clock. The trails were so numerous, that we found it useless to continue on any of them. For if we selected any single one, that one branched into many every half mile. Thus we deemed it best to 'take our course,' as the {111} mariner would say, and disregard them altogether. In following this determination, we crossed the Boisais again and again; floundered in quagmires, and dodged along among whipping boughs and underbrush; and, when unimpeded by such obstacles, pelted the dusty plain with as sturdy a trot as ever echoed there, till the sun went down, and his twilight had left the sky. No Fort yet! nor had we yet seen the Saptin. We halted, held a council, and determined to "hold our course" westward; listened—heard nothing but the muttering Boisais, and travelled on. In half an hour, came to us a frightful, mournful yell, which brought us to an instantaneous halt. We were within fifty yards of the Bonak Indians, and were discovered!

This tribe is fierce, warlike, and athletic, inhabiting the banks of that part of Saptin, or Snake River, which lies between the mouth of Boisais, or Reed's River, and the Blue Mountains.[201] They make war upon the Blackfeet and Crows; and for that purpose often cross the mountains, through a gap between the track of Lewis and Clarke and the 'Great Gap.'[202] By these wars, their [Pg 319]number has been much reduced. They are said to speak a language peculiar to themselves; {112} and are regarded by the whites as a treacherous and dangerous race. We had approached so near their camp, that whatever might be their disposition toward us, it was impossible to retreat. Darkness concealed the surrounding country, and hid the river and the trails. We could not escape without their permission and aid.

Our young Swiss trapper was the very man to grapple the dilemma. He bribed their good will and their safe conduct to the Fort. Five or six of them quickly seized horses, and, mounting without saddle or bridle, led the way. While these things were being done, horrid wails came from their huts among the bushes; and those who were with us responded to them. The only word uttered was one, which sounded like 'yap.' This they spoke at first in a low, plaintive key, and slowly; and then, on a higher note and rapidly, as if under stronger emotions of grief; and then fell away again to the low plaint of desponding sorrow. I noticed, as we rode along, that the tails of many of their horses were shorn of the hair in the most uncouth manner. The manes also were miserably haggled. The men who rode them wept, and at intervals wailed.

I was afterwards informed that their tribe {113} was mourning the death of some of their number who had lately died; and that it is a custom with them and other western tribes, on the death of friends, in war or by disease, for all the surviving relatives to shear the manes and tails of their horses to the skin—kill all the animals of the deceased—pile all his personal property around his burial-place, [Pg 320]and mourn, in the manner I have described, for several days. Their camp was eight miles south of Fort Boisais.

We rode the distance in three quarters of an hour. Other Bonak horsemen joined us along the way. Each one, as he overtook us, uttered the wail; and then one and another took it up and bore it along the scattered line of the cavalcade. It was not very dark—but it was night, and all its air was filled with these expressions of savage grief. Tears flowed, and sobs arrested oftentimes the wail half spoken. The sympathy of the poor creatures for each other appeared very sincere, and afforded strong inducement to doubt the correctness of the usually received opinion that the American Indians possess little of the social affections. They certainly manifested enough on this occasion to render the hour I passed with them more oppressively painful than I hope ever again to experience.

{114} Mr. Payette, the person in charge at Boisais, received us with every mark of kindness; gave our horses to the care of his servants, and introduced us immediately to the chairs, table and edibles of his apartments. He is a French Canadian; has been in the service of the Hudson's Bay Company more than twenty years, and holds the rank of clerk; is a merry, fat old gentleman of fifty, who, although in the wilderness all the best years of his life, has retained that manner of benevolence in trifles, in his mode of address, of seating you and serving you at table, of directing your attention continually to some little matter of interest, of making you speak the French language 'parfaitement' whether you are able to do so or not, so strikingly agreeable in that mercurial people. The 14th and 15th were spent very pleasantly with this gentleman. During that time he feasted us with excellent bread, and butter made from an American cow, obtained from some of the missionaries; with baked, boiled, fried and[Pg 321] broiled salmon—and, at my request, with some of his adventures in the wilderness.

Fort Boisais was established in 1832, as the post whence to oppose Wyeth's operations at Fort Hall.[203] From it, the Hudson's Bay Company sent their trading parties over {115} the country south, in advance and rear and around every movement of Wyeth. And by using liberally the fund laid by annually for that purpose, they undersold the American till he was forced from the country.

On the part of the Hudson's Bay Company, I see nothing strange or unmanly in this conduct, if looked at as a business transaction. People having equal rights in trade, assume necessarily the relative positions which their skill and capital can command. This is the position of Americans and Britons in Oregon. By a pusillanimous policy on the part of the American Government, we have given British subjects an equal right with our own citizens to trade in all that part of the Public Domain lying west of the Rocky Mountains. In the exercise of the rights thus granted, the Hudson's Bay Company employ their incomparable ingenuity and immense wealth in driving every American trader from the coasts of the North Pacific. And who is to be blamed for this? The Government of the United States, that has, through want of wisdom or[Pg 322] firmness or justice, permitted these important rights of its citizens to be monopolized by foreign capitalists for the last thirty years.

This fort stands on the eastern bank of {116} the Saptin, eight miles north of the mouth of Boisais or Reed's river. It consists of a parallelogram about one hundred feet square, surrounded by a stockade of poles about fifteen feet in height. It was entered on the west side. Across the area north and south runs the principal building. It is constructed of logs, and contains a large dining room, a sleeping apartment and kitchen. On the north side of the area, in front of this, is the store; on the south side the dwellings of the servants; back of the main building, an outdoor oven; and in the north-east corner of the stockade is the bastion. This was Fort Boisais in 1839. Mons. Payette was erecting a neat adobie wall around it. He expected soon to be able to tear away the old stockade, and before this has doubtless done so.[204]

Among the curiosities of this establishment were the fore wheels, axletree and thills of a one-horse waggon, said to have been run by the American missionaries from the State of Connecticut through the mountains thus far toward the mouth of the Columbia. It was left here under the belief that it could not be taken through the Blue Mountains. But fortunately for the next that shall attempt to cross the continent, {117} a safe and easy passage has lately been discovered by which vehicles of the kind may be drawn through to Wallawalla.[205]

[Pg 323]

At ten o'clock on the 16th we found ourselves sufficiently rested to recommence our journey. Our packs and ourselves were sent across the Saptin in a canoe; and our horses having swam it, and having been packed and saddled firmly for a rapid march, and a 'bon jour' having been returned by Mons. Payette, with the additional kind wish of a 'bon voyage' to us, over the mountains, we left the old gentleman to his solitary dominion.

He usually collects, during the twelvemonth, twelve or fifteen packs of beaver, and employs himself in the salmon season in curing large quantities of that fish for the supply of other posts. Our course was down the west bank of the river. The soil was sand and clay mixed in nearly equal proportions. Its composition is such as to render it fruitful; but the absence of dews and rains forbids the expectation that it will ever be so. Vegetation, bunch-grass and wild wormwood. Travelled fifteen miles and encamped near a small bute, at the foot of which ran a little tributary of the Saptin. From the south bank of this {118} stream near our camp burst a great number of hot springs. Water impregnated with sulphur: temperature at the boiling point.[206]

17th. Soil as on the track of the 16th, save that the hills became higher and more gravelly. In the after[Pg 324]noon, crossed a brook putting into the Saptin. At mid-day, touched the Saptin, and left it again for the hills. Mid-afternoon, struck another small stream, and followed up its valley till night.[207] Estimated our day's journey at thirty miles.

18th. The hills higher and more rocky; those in the distance to the west and north-west partially covered with pines and cedars. Immediately around our track, the hills were clothed with dry bunch grass. Some of them had been burnt by the Indians. Many beautiful little valleys were seen among the highlands. Black birch, rose, and willow shrubs, and quaking-asp trees on the banks of the little brooks. Encamped under the cliffs of a bute. The moon was in the first quarter. Its cold beams harmonized well with the chilling winds of the mountains. The atmosphere all the day smoky, as in Indian summertime in the highlands of New England. Estimated distance travelled, twenty-five miles.

{119} 19th. Forenoon, over gently rising conical hills, clothed with bunch grass; soil in the valleys sand and clay. Cooked dinner at L'Arbor Seul, a lonely pine in an extensive plain.[208] Encamped at night on a stream coming from the Blue Mountains, in the north-west. Distance to-day, thirty miles.

20th. Track up the valley in which we encamped the preceding night, over gently undulating hills; high broken mountains on either side. About twelve o'clock, came to a very steep descent, a mile in length. The upper part [Pg 325]of it was so precipitous that the animals with packs were obliged to make a zigzag track of a mile, to descend the half that distance; the lower part was less precipitous, but covered with loose volcanic rocks. Among these the horses plunged and bruised themselves badly; but fortunately none were seriously injured. Some rich soil in the valleys; heavy groves of yellow pine, spruce, and hemlock; quaking-asp on the streams, and in the ravines. From high swells, over which ran the trail, we saw an extensive valley, deeply sunken among the lofty mountains in the north-east. It appeared to be thickly coated with grass, some portions dry, others green. The {120} meadow lark made its appearance to-day. Towards night, we came again into the valley which we had entered at mid-day, and encamped under a majestic yellow pine.[209] Freezing breezes swept down from the woody mountain around us, and made our fire, blazing high under the dark groaning boughs, extremely agreeable. Travelled twenty-five miles.

21st. A day of severe travelling. In the forenoon, the trail ran over a series of mountains swelling one above another in long and gentle ascents, covered with noble forests of yellow pine, fir, and hemlock. Among these were frequent glades of rich pasture land; grass green, and numerous brooks of pure water leaping from the cliffs, or murmuring among the shrubbery. The snow-ball, the wax plant, the yellow and black currant—a species of whortleberry—the service berry—choke cherry—the elder—the shrub maple—and all the beautiful flowers that gem a mountain landscape during its short summer, clothed the ground. At twelve o'clock, we entered a deep ravine, at the bottom of which ran a brook of sweet clear water; we dined on its bank. A dish of rich cocoa, mush,[Pg 326] and sugar, and dried buffalo tongue, on the {121} fresh grass, by a cool rivulet on the wild mountains of Oregon! Nature stretched her bare and mighty arms around us! The mountains hid the lower sky, and walled out the lower world! We looked upon the beautiful heights of the Blue Mountains, and ate among its spring blossoms, its singing pines, and holy battlements, ten thousand feet above the seas.

In the afternoon, we continued to ascend; vast rolls lifted themselves over one another, in a northerly direction, higher and higher, till in the distance their tops mingled with the blue of the sky. We followed this grassy ridge till near four o'clock, when we commenced descending. A mile over slowly declining hills, and then the descent became frightful. It appeared to stand 45° to the plane of the horizon. The horses, when they turned at the angles of the zigzag trail, often found the greatest difficulty to keep on their feet. Two miles of such descent, of bracing with might and main, deposited us in a ravine of great depth, hung far and near with cliffs and abrupt earthy borders, partially covered with pines. At the bottom a brook running in a northerly direction, struggled and roared among the fallen rocks. We {122} made our way with much difficulty down its banks a short distance, crossed it, and proceeding in a north-westerly direction to another stream flowing eastward, encamped among the pines. These valleys were filled with cold winds, which rushed through them in irregular gusts, chilling every thing they touched. We set fire to large piles of dry pine logs in camp, spread our couches, and wayworn as men ever were, ensconced ourselves in them for repose. Carbo did not retire; but went whistling about among the horses; untied his wallet of provisions, and ate a second time, punched the fire, and looked at the eastern sky with evi[Pg 327]dent interest. The vales below had been set on fire by Indians; and I more than half supposed that he expected to see some of his tribe at our quarters. But my supposition was groundless.

As soon as the moon peeped over the eastern heights, he roused me to hear in broken French that our horses had nothing to eat in the place where they were; and that we, being rested, must climb the mountain to find food for them. No proposition, and the facts brought to urge its adoption, could have been more unfortunately reasonable and true—at that particular {123} time. My first impulse was to order him to his couch; but a hungry whinny from my roan pony, browsing near me, awakened me fully to the propriety of the measure proposed. I, therefore, summoned my weary limbs and bruised and ulcered feet, to their best efforts, and at twelve o'clock at night we were on march.

For some time we led our animals through the tangled wood, and then along a steep gravelly side of the chasm, where the foothold slipped at every step; awhile among rolling stones so thickly strewn upon the ground, that the horses touched it only when their weight drove their feet down between them; and then, awhile we seemed to hang on the cliffs, and pause between advancing and following the laws of gravitation to the bed of the torrent that battled its way in the caverns far below; and in the desperation of a last effort, climbed the bank to a place of safety. At length we arrived at a large indentation in the face of the mountain, up the encircling rim of which, the trail for half a mile was of comparatively easy ascent. At the end of this distance, another difficulty was superadded to all we had yet experienced.

The steeps were covered to the depth of {124} several feet with "cut rock"—dark shining cubes from one to three[Pg 328] inches in diameter, with sharp corners and edges. It was well nigh impossible to force our horses on them. The most obedient one, however, was at length led and scourged upon them; and by repeating the same inflictions, the remainder were finally induced to follow. All walked except Smith. His horse was "a d—d brute, and was made to carry him or die."

The poor animals would slip, and gather, and cripple; and when unable longer to endure the cutting stone under their feet, would suddenly drop on their knee; but the pain caused by that position would soon force them to rise again, and struggle up the ascent. An half hour of such travelling conducted us over this stony surface to the smooth grassy swells, the surface of which was pleasant to the lacerated feet of our horses. The green grass grew thickly all around. The moon poured her bright beams through the frosty air on the slumbering heights; in the deep pine-clad vales dimly burned the Indian fires; from mountain to mountain sounded the deep bass of a thousand cascades.[210]

We encamped in a grove of pines which {125} crowned the mountain, at three o'clock in the morning.

22nd. We saddled early, and ascending for two hours a line of gentle grassy elevations, came to the beginning of the north-western declivities of the Blue Mountains. The trail ran down the ravines of small brooks flowing north-west, and occasionally over high swells which stretched down the plain that lies about the south-western branches of the Wallawalla River: we halted to dine.[211] In the afternoon we struck off north-westerly over the rolling [Pg 329]plain. The soil in the depressions was a light and loose compound of sand and clay, and thinly covered with bunch grass. The swells were of gravel, and generally barren; trees on the brooks only, and these few, small and of little value.

About three o'clock we came into the camp of a middle-aged Skyuse Indian,[212] who was on his onward march from the buffalo hunt in the mountain valleys east and north-east of Fort Hall. He was a spare man of five feet eight inches, dressed in a green camlet frock-coat, a black vest, striped cotton shirt, leather pants, moccasins, and a white felt hat. There were two children, boys, neatly clad in deer-skin. His {126} camp equipage was very comfortable—four or five camp-kettles with tin covers, a number of pails with covers, a leathern tent, and an assortment of fine buffalo robes. He had had a very successful hunt. Of the seventeen horses in his caravan, six were loaded with the best flesh of the buffalo cow, cured in the best manner; two others bore his tent, utensils, clothing, robes, &c.; four others were ridden by himself and family; the five remaining were used to relieve those that, from time to time, might tire. These were splendid animals, as large as the best horses of the States, well knit, deep and wide at the shoulders; a broad loin, and very small lower limbs and feet; of extreme activity and capacity for endurance.

Learning that this Indian was proceeding to Dr. Whitman's mission establishment, where a considerable number of his tribe had pitched their tents for the approaching winter, I determined to leave the cavalcade and accompany him there. My guide Carbo, therefore, having explained my intentions to my new acquaintance, departed with the[Pg 330] remainder of his charge for Fort Wallawalla.[213] Crickie, (in English "poor crane,") was a very kind man.

{127} Immediately after the departure of Carbo and company, he turned my worn-out animals loose, and loaded my packs upon his own, gave me a splendid saddle-horse to ride, and intimated by significant gestures that we would go a short distance that afternoon, in order to arrive at the mission early the next day. I gave my assent, and we were soon on the way. Our course was north-easterly over sharp swells, among which ran many clear and beautiful brooks; soil gravel, loam, sand and clay, and well covered with dry bunch grass, incapable of producing the grains without irrigation. The swells and streams run north-westerly from the Blue Mountains. Our course was diagonally across them.

Having made about ten miles at sunset, we encamped for the night. I noticed, during the drive, a degree of forbearance towards each other, in this family of savages which I had never before observed in that race. When we halted for the night the two boys were behind. They had been frolicking with their horses, and as the darkness came on, lost the trail. It was a half-hour before they made their appearance, and during this time, the worthy parents exhibited the most affectionate solicitude {128} for them. One of them was but three years old, and was lashed to the horse he rode; the other only seven years of age. Young pilots in the wilderness at night! But the elder, true to the sagacity of his race, had taken his course, and struck the brook on which we had encamped, within three hundred yards of us. The pride of the parents at this feat, and their ardent attachment to their children, were perceptible in the pleasure with which they[Pg 331] received them at their evening fire, and heard the relation of their childish adventure.

The weather was so pleasant that no tent was pitched. The willows were beat, and buffalo robes spread over them. Underneath were laid other robes, on which my Indian host seated himself with his wife and children on one side, and myself on the other. A fire burned brightly in front. Water was brought, and the evening ablutions having been performed, the wife presented a dish of meat to her husband, and one to myself. There was a pause. The woman seated herself between her children. The Indian then bowed his head and prayed to God! A wandering savage in Oregon calling upon Jehovah in the name of Jesus {129} Christ! After the prayer, he gave meat to his children, and passed the dish to his wife.

While eating, the frequent repetition of the words Jehovah and Jesus Christ, in the most reverential manner, led me to suppose they were conversing on religious topics; and thus they passed an hour. Meanwhile, the exceeding weariness of a long day's travel admonished me to seek rest.

I had slumbered, I know not how long, when a strain of music awoke me. I was about rising to ascertain whether the sweet notes of Tallis's Chant came to these solitudes from earth or sky, when a full recollection of my situation, and of the religious habits of my host, easily solved the rising inquiry, and induced me to observe instead of disturbing. The Indian family was engaged in its evening devotions. They were singing a hymn in the Nez Percés language. Having finished it, they all knelt and bowed their faces upon the buffalo robes, and Crickie prayed long and fervently. Afterwards they sang another hymn and retired. This was the first breathing of religious feelings that I had seen since leaving the[Pg 332] States. A pleasant evidence that the Oregon wilderness was beginning to bear the rose of Sharon {130} on its thousand hills, and that on the barren soil of the Skyuse heart was beginning to bud and blossom and ripen the golden fruits of faith in Jehovah, and hope in an after-state.

23rd. We were on our way before the sun rose. The dawn on an Oregon sky, the rich blue embankment of mountains over which the great day-star raised his glowing rim, the blandness of the air, the lively ambling of the caravan towards the neighbouring abode of my countrymen, imparted to my mind and body a most agreeable exhilaration. Crickie, and his wife and children also, appeared to enjoy the atmosphere and scenery of their native valley; and we went on together merrily over the swelling plains and murmuring streams till about eight o'clock, when Crickie spurred his horse in advance of the cavalcade, and motioned me to follow him.

We rode very rapidly for about three hours over a country gently undulating, well set with bunch grass, and intersected with small streams flowing north-west. The dust had risen in dark clouds during our ride, and rendered it necessary to bathe before presenting ourselves at the mission. We therefore halted on the bank of a little brook {131} overhung with willows, and proceeded to make our toilet. Crickie's paraphernalia was ample for the purpose, and showed that among his other excellencies, cleanliness held a prominent place. A small mirror, pocket-comb, soap and a towel, were immediately produced; and the dust was taken from his person and wardrobe with a nicety that would have satisfied a town exquisite.

A ride of five miles afterward brought us in sight of the groves around the mission. The plains far and near were[Pg 333] dry and brown. Every form of vegetation was dead save the forest trees, whose roots drank deeply of the waters of the stream. We crossed the river, passed the Indian encampment hard by, and were at the gate of the mission fields in presence of Dr. Whitman. He was speaking Skyuse at the top of his voice to some lazy Indians who were driving their cattle from his garden, and giving orders to others to yoke their oxen, get the axes, and go into the forest for the lower sleepers of the new mission house.[214] Mr. Hall, printer at the Sandwich Islands, soon appeared in working dress, with an axe on his shoulder; next came Mr. Monger, pulling the pine shavings from his fore-plane.[215] All seemed desirous to {132} ask me how long a balloon line had been running between the States and the Pacific, by which single individuals crossed the continent. The oxen, however, were yoked, and axes glistening in the sun, and there was no time to spend, if they would [Pg 334]return from their labour before nightfall. So that the whence and wherefore of my sudden appearance among them, were left for an after explanation. The doctor introduced me to his excellent lady, and departed to his labour.[216]

The afternoon was spent in listless rest from the toils of my journey. At sunset, however, I strolled out and took a bird's-eye view of the plantation and plain of the Wallawalla. The old mission-house stands on the north-east bank of the river, about four rods from the water-side, at the north-east corner of an enclosure containing about two hundred and fifty acres; two hundred of which are under good cultivation. The soil is a thin stratum of clay, mixed with sand and a small proportion of vegetable mould, resting on a base of coarse gravel. Through this gravel, water from the Wallawalla filtrates, and by capillary attraction is raised to the roots of vegetation in the incumbent earth. The products are wheat, {133} Indian corn, onions, turnips, ruta-baga, water, musk and nutmeg melons, squashes, asparagus, tomatoes, cucumbers, peas, &c., in the garden—all of good quality, and abundant crops.

The Wallawalla is a pretty stream. Its channel is paved with gravel and sand, and about three rods in width; water two feet deep, running five or six miles the hour, and limpid and cool through the year. A hundred yards below the house, it makes a beautiful bend to the south-west for a short distance, and then resumes its general direction of north-west by north, along the border of the plantation. On the opposite bank is a line of timber and underwood, interlaced with flowering brambles. Other small groves occur above and below along the banks.

[Pg 335]

The plain about the waters of this river is about thirty miles square. A great part of this surface is more or less covered with bunch grass. The branches of the river are distributed over it in such manner that most of it can be grazed. But, from what came under my own observation, and the information received from respectable American citizens, who had examined it more minutely than I had time to do, I suppose {134} there to be scarcely two thousand acres of this vast extent of surface, which can ever be made available for the purposes of cultivation. The absence of rains and dews in the season of crops, and the impossibility of irrigating much of it on account of the height of the general surface above the streams, will afford sufficient reasons for entertaining this opinion.

The doctor returned near night with his timber, one elm and a number of quaking-asp sticks; and appeared gratified that he had been able to find the requisite number of sufficient size to support his floor. Tea came on, and passed away in earnest conversation about native land and friends left there—of the pleasure they derived from their present occupation—and the trials that befell them while commencing the mission and afterwards.

Among the latter, was mentioned the drowning of their child in the Wallawalla the year before, a little girl two years old. She fell into the river at the place where they took water for family use. The mother was in the house, the father a short distance away on the premises. The alarm was conveyed to them almost instantly, and they and others rushed to the stream, and sought {135} for their child with frantic eagerness. But the strong heavy current had carried it down and lodged it in a clump of bushes under the bank on which they stood. They passed the spot where it lay, but found it too late. Thus these[Pg 336] devoted people were bereft, in the most afflicting manner, of their only child—left alone in the wilderness.[217]

The morning of the 24th opened in the loveliest hues of the sky. Still none of the beauty of the harvest field—none of the fragrance of the ripened fruits of autumn were there. The wild horses were frolicking on the plains; but the plains smoked with dust and dearth. The green woods and the streams sent up their harmonies with the breeze; but it was like a dirge over the remains of the departed glories of the year. And yet when the smoking vegetables, the hissing steak, bread white as snow, and the newly-churned golden butter graced the breakfast table, and the happy countenances of countrymen and countrywomen shone around, I could with difficulty believe myself in a country so far distant from, and so unlike my native land, in all its features. But during breakfast, this pleasant illusion was dispelled by one of the causes which induced it.

{136} Our steak was of horse-flesh! On such meat this poor family subsist most of the time. They do not complain. It enables them to exist to do the Indian good, and thus satisfies them.[218] But can it satisfy those who give money for the support of missionaries, that the allowance made by their agents for the support of those who abandon parents and freedom and home, and surrender not only themselves to the mercy of the savages, but their offspring also, should be so meagre, as to compel them to eat horse-flesh! This necessity existed in 1839, at the [Pg 337]mission on the Wallawalla, and I doubt not exists in 1843.

The breakfast being over, the doctor invited me to a stroll over his premises. The garden was first examined; its location, on the curving bank of the Wallawalla; the apple trees, growing thriftily on its western border; the beautiful tomato and other vegetables, burdening the grounds. Next to the fields. The doctor's views of the soil, and its mode of receiving moisture from the river, were such as I have previously expressed. "For," said he, "in those places where you perceive the stratum of gravel to be raised so as to interrupt the capillary attraction of the superincumbent earth, the {137} crop failed." Then to the new house. The adobie walls had been erected a year. These were about forty feet by twenty, and one and a half stories high. The interior area consisted of two parlours of the ordinary size, separated by an adobie portion. The outer door opened into one of them; and from this a door in the partition led to the other. Above were to be sleeping apartments. To the main building was attached another of equal height designed for a kitchen, with chambers above for servants. Mr. Monger and a Sandwich Islander were laying the floors, making the doors, &c.

The lumber used was a very superior quality of yellow pine plank, which Dr. Whitman had cut with a whip saw among the blue mountains, fifteen miles distant. Next to the "caral." A fine yoke of oxen, two cows, an American bull, and the beginning of a stock of hogs were thereabout. And last to the grist-mill on the other side of the river. It consisted of a spherical wrought iron burr four or five inches in diameter, surrounded by a counter-burred surface of the same material. The spherical burr was permanently attached to the shaft of a horizontal water-wheel. The surrounding burred surface was firmly fas[Pg 338]tened to {138} timbers, in such a position that when the water-wheel was put in motion, the operation of the mill was similar to that of a coffee-mill. It was a crazy thing, but for it the doctor was grateful.

It would, with the help of himself and an Indian, grind enough in a day to feed his family a week, and that was better than to beat it with a pestle and mortar. It appeared to me quite remarkable that the doctor could have made so many improvements since the year 1834. But the industry which crowded every hour of the day, his untiring energy of character, and the very efficient aid of his wife in relieving him in a great degree from the labours of the school, are, perhaps, circumstances which will render possibility probable, that in five years one man without funds for such purposes, without other aid in that business than that of a fellow missionary at short intervals, should fence, plough, build, plant an orchard, and do all the other laborious acts of opening a plantation on the face of that distant wilderness; learn an Indian language and do the duties, meanwhile, of a physician to the associate stations on the Clear Water and Spokan.[219]

In the afternoon, Dr. Whitman and his {139} lady assembled the Indians for instruction in reading. Forty or fifty children between the ages of seven and eighteen, and several other people gathered on the shady side of the new mission-house at the ringing of a hand-bell, and seated themselves in an orderly manner on wooden benches. The doctor then wrote monosyllables, words, and instructive[Pg 339] sentences in the Nez Percés language, on a large blackboard suspended on the wall, and proceeded first to teach the nature and power of the letters in representing the simple sounds of the language, and then the construction of words and their uses in forming sentences expressive of thought. The sentences written during these operations were at last read, syllable by syllable, and word after word, and explained until the sentiments contained in them were comprehended; and it was delightful to notice the undisguised avidity with which these people would devour a new idea. It seemed to produce a thrill of delight that kindled up the countenance and animated the whole frame. A hymn in the Nez Percés language, learned by rote from their teachers, was then sung, and the exercises closed with prayer by Dr. Whitman in the same tongue.

{140} 25th. I was awakened at early dawn by the merry sounds of clapping boards, the hammer, the axe and the plane; the sweet melodies of the parent of virtue, at this cradle of civilization. When I rose everything was in motion. Dr. Whitman's little herd was lowing in the river; the wild horses were neighing at the morning breeze; the birds were caroling in the groves. I said, every thing was alive. Nay, not so. The Skyuse village was in the deepest slumber, save a few solitary individuals who were stalking with slow and stately tread up a neighbouring bute, to descry the retreat of their animals. Their conical skin lodges dotted the valley above the mission, and imparted to the morning landscape a peculiar wildness. As the sun rose, the inmates began to emerge from them.

It was a chilly hour; and their buffalo robes were drawn over their shoulders, with the hair next the body. The snow-white flesh side was fringed with the dark fur[Pg 340] that crept in sight around the edges, and their own long black glistening tresses fell over it far down the back. The children were out in all the buoyancy of young life, shouting to the prancing steed, or betting gravel stones that the arrows upon their little {141} bows would be the first to clip the sturdy thistle head upon which they were waging mimic war. The women were busy at their fires, weaving mats from the flag; or sewing moccasins, leggings, or hunting shirts. Crickie was giving meat to his friends, who the past winter had fed him, and taken care of him, while lying sick.

This is the imperial tribe of Oregon. They formerly claimed a prescriptive right to exercise jurisdiction over the country down the Columbia to its mouth; and up the North and South Forks to their sources. In the reign of the late high Chief, the brother of him who now holds that station, this claim was acceded to by all the tribes within those districts. But that talented and brave man left at his death but one son, who, after receiving a thorough education at the Selkirk settlement on Red River of Lake Winnipeg, also died—and with him the imperial dignity of the Skyuse tribe.[220]

The person in charge at Fort Wallawalla, indeed dressed the present incumbent in better style than his fellows; proclaimed him high chief, and by treating him with the formality usually tendered to his deceased brother, has obtained for him the {142} name, but not the respect and influence belonging to the office. He is a man of considerable mental power, but has none of the fire and energy attributed to his predecessor. The Wallawallas and Upper[Pg 341] Chinooks are the only tribes that continue to recognise the Skyuse supremacy.

The Skyuse are also a tribe of merchants. Before the establishment of Forts Hall and Boisais, they were in the habit of rendezvousing at "La Grande Rounde," an extensive valley in the Blue Mountains, with the Shoshonies and other Indians from the Saptin, and exchanging with them their horses for furs, buffalo robes, skin tents, &c. But since the building of these posts, that portion of their trade is nearly destroyed. In the winter season, a band of them usually descends to the Dalles, barters with the Chinooks for salmon, and holds councils over that mean and miserable band to ascertain their misdemeanors, and punish them therefore by whipping. The Wallawallas, however, are their most numerous and profitable customers. They may well be termed the fishermen of the Skyuse camp. They live on both banks of the Columbia, from the Blue Mountains to the Dalles, and employ themselves principally {143} in taking salmon. For these, their betters, who consider fishing a menial business, give them horses. They own large numbers of these animals. A Skyuse is thought to be poor who has but fifteen or twenty of them. They generally have many more. One fat, hearty old fellow, owns something more than two thousand; all wild, except many as he needs for use or sale.

To these reports of the Indians, Dr. Whitman gave little credence; so at variance were some of the facts related, with what he presumed the Hudson's Bay Company would permit to be done by any one in their employment, or under their patronage—the abuse of American citizens, and the ungentlemanly interference with their characters and calling.

On the morning of the 27th, the arrival of Mr. Ermetinger, the senior clerk at Fort Hall from Fort Wallawalla,[Pg 342] created quite a sensation. His uniform kindness to the Missionaries has endeared him to them.[221] My companion, Blair, accompanied him. The poor old man had become lonely and discouraged, and as I had encouraged him to expect any assistance from me which his circumstances might demand, it afforded me the greatest pleasure to make his merits {144} known to the Missionaries, who needed an artisan to construct a mill at the station on the Clear Water. Dr. Whitman contracted with him for his services and Blair was happy. I sincerely hope he may for ever be so.

I attended the Indian school to-day. Mrs. Whitman is an indefatigable instructress. The children read in monosyllables from a primer lately published at the Clear Water station. After reading, they repeated a number of hymns in the Nez Percés, composed by Mr. Smith, of the Spokan station.[222] These were afterwards sung. They learn music readily. At nightfall, I visited the Indian lodges in company with Dr. Whitman. In one of them we saw a young woman who imagined that the spirit of a Medicine man, or conjuror, had entered into her system, and was wasting her life. She was resorting to the native remedy for such evils—singing wild incantations, and weeping loudly. This tribe, like all others west of the mountains, believe in witchcraft under various forms—practice sleight-of-hand, fire-eating, &c. They insert rough sticks into their throats, and draw them up and down till the blood flows freely, to make them long-winded [Pg 343]on march. They {145} flatten the head, and perforate the septum, or partition of the nose. In this orifice they wear various ornaments. The more common one that I noticed was a wolf's tooth.

The Skyuse have two distinct languages: the one used in ordinary intercourse, the other on extraordinary occasions; as in war-councils, &c. Both are said to be copious and expressive. They also speak the Nez Percés and Wallawalla.

On the 28th, Mr. Ermetinger started for Fort Hall, and Blair for the Clear Water. Early in the day, the Indians brought in large numbers of their horses to try their speed. These are a fine race of animals; as large, and of better form, and more activity than most of the horses in the States. Every variety of colour is found among them, from the shining coal-black to the milk-white. Some of them are pied very singularly; for instance, a roan body with bay ears, and white mane and tail. Some are spotted with white on a roan, or bay, or sorrel ground, with tail and ears tipped with black. They are better trained to the saddle than those of civilized countries.

When an Indian wishes an increase of his serving animals, he mounts a fleet horse, {146} and, lasso in hand, rushes into his band of wild animals, throws it upon the neck of the chosen one, and chokes him down; and while in a state of insensibility, ties the hind and fore feet firmly together. When consciousness returns, the animal struggles violently, but in vain, to get loose. His fear is then attacked by throwing bear-skins, wolf-skins, and blankets at his head till he becomes quiet. He is then loosened from the cord, and rears and plunges furiously at the end of a long rope, and receives another introduction to bear-skins, &c. After this, he is approached and handled;[Pg 344] or, if still too timid, he is again beset with blankets and bear-skins, as before, until he is docile. Then come the saddling and riding. During this training, they uniformly treat him tenderly when near, and rudely when he pulls at the end of the halter. Thus they make their wild steed the most fearless and pleasant riding animals I ever mounted.

The course pursued by Mr. Whitman, and other Presbyterian Missionaries, to improve the Indians, is to teach them the Nez Percés language, according to fixed grammatical rules, for the purpose of opening to them the arts and religion of civilized {147} nations through the medium of books. They also teach them practical agriculture and the useful arts, for the purpose of civilizing their physical condition. By these means, they hope to make them a better and a happier people. Perhaps it would be an easier way to the same result, if they would teach them the English language, and thus open to them at once the treasures which centuries of toil, by a superior race, have dug from the mines of intelligence and truth.

This was the evening before the sabbath, and Dr. Whitman, as his custom was, invited one of the most intelligent Indians to his study, translated to him the text of scripture from which he intended to teach the tribe on the morrow, explained to him its doctrines, and required of him to explain in turn. This was repeated again and again, until the Indian obtained a clear understanding of its doctrines.

The 29th was the sabbath, and I had an opportunity of noticing its observance by the Skyuse. I rose before the sun. The stars were waxing dim on the morning sky, the most charming dawn I ever witnessed. Every possible circumstance of sublimity conspired to make it so. There was the {148} pure atmosphere; not a wisp of cloud on[Pg 345] all its transparent depths. The light poured over the Blue Mountains like a cataract of gold; first on the upper sky, then deepening its course through the lower air, it gilded the plain with a flood of brightness, mellow, beautiful brightness; the charms of morning light, on the brown, boundless solitudes of Oregon. The breeze scarcely rustled the leaves of the dying flowers; the drumming of the woodpecker on the distant tree, sounded a painful discord; so grand, so awful, and yet so sweet, were the unuttered symphonies of the sublime quiet of the wilderness.

At ten o'clock the Skyuse assembled for worship in the open air. The exercises were according to the Presbyterian form; the invocation, the hymn, the prayer, the hymn, the sermon, a prayer, a hymn, and the blessing; all in the Nez Percés tongue. The principal peculiarity about the services was the mode of delivering the discourse. When Dr. Whitman arose and announced the text, the Indian who had been instructed on the previous night, rose and repeated it; and as the address proceeded, repeated it also by sentence or paragraph, till it was finished. This is the custom of {149} the Skyuse in all their public speaking. The benefit resulting from it in this case, apparently, was the giving the doctrines which the Doctor desired to inculcate, a clearer expression in the proper idiom of the language.

During the recess, the children were assembled in sabbath school. In the afternoon, the service was similar to that of the morning. Every thing was conducted with much solemnity. After worship, the Indians gathered in their lodges, and conversed together concerning what they had heard. If doubt arose as to any point, it was solved by the instructed Indian. Thus passed the sabbath among the Skyuse.

On the 29th, I hired Crickie to take me to the Dalles; and, Mrs. Whitman having filled my sacks with bread, corn-meal, and other edibles, I lashed my packs once more for the lower Columbia.


[183] The river was named by Captain William Clark in honor of his fellow explorer, Captain Meriwether Lewis, the latter being the first white man to visit its banks. Later, the term Snake was more frequently applied, because that tribe of Indians ranged within the basin of this river. The word Saptin (Shahaptin) is derived from a stock of Indians, of whom the Nez Percés are the most prominent branch.—Ed.

[184] By Long's range, Farnham intends what is now known as Front range, with Long's Peak, James's (now Pike's) Peak, and Pike's (now the Spanish Peaks) as its outposts. For his use of these terms see ante, pp. 111, 184, 283, notes 50, 111, 166. The Great Gap is South Pass, for which see our volume xxi, p. 58, note 37.—Ed.

[185] These spurs are the boundaries of South and Middle Parks, for which see ante, pp. 199, 221, notes 123, 132.—Ed.

[186] The range described by Farnham as the Snowy Mountains, refers to the Sierra Nevada; but is an incorrect description. The mountains he saw north-east and north-west of Fort Hall, covered with perpetual snow, were part of the main Rocky Mountains trending westward from Yellowstone Park. The President's range is that now known as Cascade Mountains, in which Mounts Jefferson and Adams perpetuate the memory of those early executives.—Ed.

[187] For a brief description of this range see Townsend's Narrative in our volume xxi, p. 184, note 35.—Ed.

[188] For these three streams, which rise farther west than here indicated, see De Smet's Letters in our volume xxvii, p. 224, note 92.—Ed.

[189] For Grand River see ante, p. 223, note 135.—Ed.

[190] The South Platte rises in South Park (Bayou Salade), flows east and then north-east, and breaking through Front Range at Platte Cañon, above Denver, continues in a nearly northward course to old Fort St. Vrain; it then turns abruptly east across the great plains, and unites with the North Platte in western Nebraska.—Ed.

[191] For Wyeth and the founding of Fort Hall see our volume xxi, especially pp. 210, 211. The fort was built in 1833 (not 1832). The nearest Hudson's Bay post was Fort Walla Walla, for which see volume xxi, p. 278, note 73.—Ed.

[192] For the Wallawalla Indians see Ross's Oregon Settlers, in our volume vii, p. 137, note 37.—Ed.

[193] For the Three Buttes see our volume xxi, p. 209, note 49.—Ed.

[194] By western, Farnham intends the southern bank of the Lewis, where passed the usual trail from Fort Hall. Rough as it was, the southern bank was less cut with gulleys and rapid torrent beds than the northern.—Ed.

[195] The term Digger Indians has no ethnological significance, but was applied to degraded bands of the Shoshonean stock who ranged chiefly west and south of Great Salt Lake; without horses or much clothing, they lived in a furtive way upon roots and insects. The name is sometimes equivalent to Paiute, who have proved to be of a more vigorous character than was formerly supposed. The French appellation was Digne de pitié (worthy of pity); see De Smet's Letters in our volume xxvii, p. 167, note 38.—Ed.

[196] Farnham must have been in the neighborhood of the great Shoshone Falls of Lewis River. His description would better apply to Twin Falls, two and a half miles higher up which are about two hundred feet in height; but they are caused by the flow of the river, not by springs.—Ed.

[197] This ford is about thirty-five miles below the falls, not far from Glenn's Ferry. It consists of two islands, with the water between sufficiently shallow to be fordable.—Ed.

[198] The entire region is volcanic, and hot springs are frequent. Hot Spring Creek is an affluent of the Lewis, some distance below the Malade. See Frémont's analysis of these springs in Senate Docs., 28 Cong., 2 sess., 174, p. 171.—Ed.

[199] This must be a misprint for twenty miles "east of the Saptin" or Lewis. The guide evidently bore off from the main river in order to strike the Boise, which afforded wood for fuel and pasture for horses as well as furnished a short cut to the fort at its mouth.—Ed.

[200] For the Boise River, see Townsend's Narrative in our volume xxi, p. 249, note 63. The Snake Indians are noted in volume v, p. 227, note 123.—Ed.

[201] For the Bannock Indians see our volume xxi, p. 192, note 41. The Boise was frequently called Reed's River, because of the murder thereupon (1814) of a trapping party under the leadership of a bourgeois of that name. See Ross's Oregon Settlers in our volume vii, pp. 265-270.—Ed.

[202] Lewis and Clark passed the main ridge of the Rockies at the source of the west fork of Jefferson's River, coming out upon the Lemhi. By the "Great Gap," Farnham undoubtedly intends South Pass. The Bannock crossed at the headsprings of Henry's Fork of the Snake (see De Smet's Letters, our volume xxvii, p. 252), coming down into Madison Valley, whence they made their way by Bozeman's Pass to the Yellowstone, or country of the Crows; or possibly to the country of the Blackfeet, on Maria's River, by continuing down the Missouri.—Ed.

[203] Fort Boise was built in the spring of 1834 (not 1832) by Thomas McKay, stepson of Dr McLoughlin, the Hudson's Bay factor at Fort Vancouver. It was at first but a miserable pen of crooked saplings, a few miles up Boise River; but later was, as Farnham mentions, removed below the mouth of the river, and constructed of adobe. It was an important station on the Oregon Trail—the resting place after the difficult travel of the Snake River plains, and before attempting the rough route to the Columbia. With the decline of the fur-trade, the importance of Fort Boise was much diminished, and when it was destroyed (1853) by a remarkable rise of Snake River, it was but partially repaired. A neighboring Indian massacre (1854) caused the post to be entirely abandoned the succeeding year. In 1863 the government built a military post known as Fort Boise, or Boise Barracks, fifty miles above the old Hudson's Bay post, at the site of the modern city of Boise.—Ed.

[204] Payette commanded this post for a number of years. Whitman found him there in 1836, and he was still in charge as late as 1843.—Ed.

[205] The history of this wagon is interesting. It was brought out by Dr. Whitman in 1836, and the following passages in Mrs. Whitman's letters (Oregon Pioneer Association Transactions, 1891, pp. 40-68) relate thereto: "July 25. Husband had a tedious time with the wagon to-day. It got stuck in the creek this morning when crossing and he was obliged to wade considerably in getting it out. After that, in going between the mountains, on the side of one, so steep that it was difficult for horses to pass, the wagon was upset twice.... 28th. One of the axle-trees of the wagon broke to-day; was a little rejoiced, for we were in hopes they would leave it, and have no more trouble with it. Our rejoicing was in vain for they are making a cart of the back wheels, this afternoon, and lashing the fore wheels to it—intending to take it through in some shape or other". On Snake River the box was abandoned, and finally what remained of the vehicle was left at Fort Boise. When Joseph L. Meek came through in 1840, he secured the remains of this historic wagon and transported his family therein to Dr. Whitman's station at Waiilatpu.—Ed.

[206] These springs are just below the entrance of Malheur River, for which see our volume xxi, p. 264, note 64. Frémont tested them, and found the temperature 193° Fahrenheit; he mentions the incrustation of salt.—Ed.

[207] Probably Burnt (or Brulé) River, for which see our volume xxi, p. 267, note 67.—Ed.

[208] L'Arbre Seul was a well-known landmark in Powder River valley, just at the ford of the river. When Frémont passed in 1843 he found that some inconsiderate emigrant had felled the big tree with his axe. The place was thereafter known as Lone Pine Stump. For Powder River see our volume xxi, p. 268, note 68.—Ed.

[209] Grande Ronde valley, for which see our volume xxi, p. 271, note 69.—Ed.

[210] The passage of the Blue Mountains was one of the difficult portions of the Oregon Trail. Compare our volume xxi, pp. 272-276; also Mrs. Whitman's "Journal," in Oregon Pioneer Association Transactions, 1891, pp. 55-57.—Ed.

[211] For the Walla Walla River see our volume vi, p. 338, note 142.—Ed.

[212] For the Cayuse (Skyuse) Indians see Ross's Oregon Settlers in our volume vii, p. 137, note 37.—Ed.

[213] For a brief description of Fort Walla Walla see our volume xxi, p. 278, note 73.—Ed.

[214] The Whitman mission station was on the north bank of the Walla Walla, six miles west of the present city of that name. The place was called by its Indian name Waiilatpu. See Mrs. Whitman's description of the site in Oregon Pioneer Association Transactions, 1891, pp. 88-90; she gives a plan of the new house on pp. 136, 137. For a brief sketch of Dr. Marcus Whitman, see our volume xxi p. 352, note 125.—Ed.

[215] The mission of the American Board at the Sandwich Islands decided (1839) to present to the Oregon mission their printing press and its appurtenances, they having recently received a new outfit from the United States. This press, which had then seen twenty years' service in Hawaii, was placed on board of the annual vessel to the Columbia, and in process of time reached Dr. Whitman's station; thence it was transferred to Lapwai, where it continued in use, printing native texts, etc., during the existence of the mission. The press was advertised for sale in 1860, but there being no customer, Mrs. Spaulding presented it to the state as an historical relic. It has found a home in the state house at Salem. See Oregon Pioneer Association Transactions, 1889, p. 94. With the press came Edwin O. Hall, an American printer, who had been employed some time in the Sandwich Islands, and desired to leave because of the impaired condition of his wife's health. He remained at the Oregon mission until the next year, when he returned to the Islands, subsequently returning to the Eastern states where he died about 1887. (See Mrs. Whitman's "Journal," in Oregon Pioneer Association Transactions, 1891, p. 137.)

For Asahel Munger see ante, p. 275, note 161.—Ed.

[216] For Narcissa Prentice Whitman see our volume xxi, p. 355, note 128.—Ed.

[217] See Mrs. Whitman's own account of the loss of this daughter, Alice Clarissa, in Oregon Pioneer Association Transactions, 1891, pp. 120-126.—Ed.

[218] Mrs. Whitman writes in 1838: "The Indians have furnished us a little venison—barely enough for our own eating—but to supply our men and visitors we have killed and eaten ten wild horses bought of the Indians. This will make you pity us, but you had better save your pity for more worthy subjects. I do not prefer it to other meat, but can eat it very well when we have nothing else." (See "Journal," as in preceding note, p. 96.)—Ed.

[219] For the location of the Spokan mission see De Smet's Letters in our volume xxvii, p. 367, note 187.

The Clearwater station was called Lapwai, being situated at the mouth of a creek of that name in Nez Percé County, western Idaho. It was founded in 1836 by Henry H. Spaulding, for whom see our volume xxi, p. 352, note 125. Abandoned after the Whitman massacre (1847), a military post succeeded, being maintained until 1886. A portion of Spaulding's house was recently standing.—Ed.

[220] In Ross's time, Quahat was the great Cayuse war-chief. He also speaks of the importance of the Cayuse, and their ruling propensities—see Chittenden, Fur-Trade, i, p. 181.

For the Red River settlement, see Franchère's Narrative in our volume vi, pp. 379, 381, notes 195, 199.—Ed.

[221] For Francis Ermatinger see De Smet's Letters, in our volume xxvii, p. 235, note 108.—Ed.

[222] Asa B. Smith came out in 1838 with Elkanah Walker and Cushing Eells to re-inforce the mission to the Nez Percés. Smith had considerable linguistic ability, and with the aid of the noted Indian chief Lawyer compiled a grammar and vocabulary of the Nez Percé language. Becoming discouraged, however, he left the mission at Kamai in 1841, and resigning the following year retired to the Sandwich Islands.—Ed.

[Pg 346]


Parting with Friends—Wallawalla Valley—Fort Wallawalla—Mr. Pambrun—The Columbia—Country down its banks—What was seen of Rock Earth—Wood, Fire and Water—Danger, &c. from the Heights—Falling Mountain—Morning Hymn to God—Giant's Causeway—A View of the Frozen Sublime—Tum Tum Orter' and other appurtenances—Dalles—Methodist Episcopal Mission—Mr. and Mrs. Perkins—Mr. Lee—Mission Premises—Egyptian Pyramids—Indians—How Fifty Indians can fight One Boston—The Result of a War—Descent of the Columbia in a Canoe—A Night on the River—The Poetry of the Wilderness—The Cascades—Postage—Dr. McLaughlin—Indian Tombs—Death—A Race—The River and its Banks—Night again—Mounts Washington and Jefferson—Arrival—Fort Vancouver—British Hospitality.

30th. Left the kind people of the mission at ten o'clock for Fort Wallawalla. Travelled fifteen miles; face of the country dry, barren, swelling plains; not an acre capable of cultivation; some bunch grass, and a generous supply of wild wormwood. Encamped on the northern branch of the Wallawalla River.

{151} October 1. At ten o'clock to-day, I was kindly received by Mr. Pambrun at Fort Wallawalla.[223] This gentleman is a half-pay officer in the British army. His rank in the Hudson Bay Company, is that of "clerk in charge" of this post. He is of French extraction, a native of Canada. I breakfasted with him and his family. His wife, a half breed of the country, has a numerous and beautiful family. The breakfast being over, Mr. Pambrun invited me to view the premises. The fort is a plank [Pg 347]stockade, with a number of buildings within, appropriated to the several uses of a store, blacksmith-shop, dwellings, &c. It has a bastion in the north-east corner, mounted with cannon. The country around has sometimes been represented as fruitful and beautiful. I am obliged to deny so foul an imputation upon the fair fame of dame Nature. It is an ugly desert; designed to be such, made such, and is such.

About seven miles up the Wallawalla River, are two or three acres of ground fenced with brush, capable of bearing an inferior species of Yankee pumpkin; and another spot somewhere, of the fourth of an acre, capable of producing anything that grows in the richest kind of unmoistened {152} sand. But aside from these distinguished exceptions, the vicinity of Fort Wallawalla is a desert. There is, indeed, some beauty and sublimity in sight, but no fertility. The wild Columbia sweeps along under its northern wall. In the east, roll up to heaven dark lofty ridges of mountains; in the north-west, are the ruins of extinct and terrible volcanic action; in the west, a half mile, is the entrance of the river into the vast chasm of its lower course, abutted on either side by splendidly castellated rocks, a magnificent gateway for its floods.

But this is all. Desert describes it as well as it does the wastes of Arabia. I tarried only two hours with the hospitable Mr. Pambrun. But as if determined that I should remember that I would have been a welcome guest a much longer time, he put some tea and sugar and bread into my packs, and kindly expressed regrets that our mutual admiration of Napoleon should be thus crowded into the chit-chat of hours instead of weeks. A fine companionable fellow; I hope he will command Fort Wallawalla as long as Britons occupy it, and live a hundred years afterwards.

[Pg 348]

Travelled down the south bank of the Columbia along the water-side; the river half {153} a mile in width, with a deep strong current; water very clear. A short distance from this brink, on both sides, rose the embankments of the chasm it has worn for itself, in the lapse of ages—a noble gorge, worthy of its mighty waters. The northern one might properly be termed a mountain running continuously along the water's edge, seven hundred or eight hundred feet in height, black, shining, and shrubless. The southern one consisted of earthy bluffs, alternating with cliffs from one hundred to four hundred feet above the stream, turreted with basaltic shafts, some twenty, others one hundred feet above the subjacent hills.

Passed a few horses travelling industriously from one wisp of dry bunch grass to another. Every thing unnatural, dry, brown, and desolate. Climbed the heights near sunset, and had an extensive view of the country south of the river. It was a treeless, brown expanse of dearth, vast rolling swells of sand and clay, too dry to bear wormwood. No mountains seen in that direction. On the north they rose precipitously from the river, and hid from view the country beyond. The Wallawalla Indians brought us drift-wood and fresh salmon, for which they desired "shmoke," tobacco.

{154} 2nd. Continued to descend the river. Early in the day, basalt disappeared from the bluffs; and the country north and south opened to view five or six miles from the stream. It was partially covered with dry bunch grass; groups of Indian horses occasionally appeared. But I was impressed with the belief that the journeyings from one quid of grass to another, and from these to water, were sufficient to enfeeble the constitution of the best horse in Christendom. The wild wormwood, of[Pg 349] "blessed memory," greeted my eyes and nose, wherever its scrags could find sand to nourish them.

During the day I was gratified with the sight of five or six trees, and these a large species of willow, themselves small and bowed with age; stones and rocks more or less fused. A strong westerly wind buffeted me; and much of the time filled the air with drifting sand. We encamped at the water side about three o'clock. I had thus a fine opportunity of ascending the heights to view the southern plain. The slopes were well covered with grass, and seemed easy of ascent; but on trial proved extremely laborious. I however climbed slowly and patiently the long sweeps for two hours, and gained nothing. Nay, I could see the noble {155} river, like a long line of liquid fire blazing with the light of the western sun; and the rush wigwams of the Wallawallas, dotting the sands of the opposite shore; and the barren bluffs and rocks beyond them piled away into space. But to the south my vision was hemmed in by the constantly rising swells. No extensive view could be obtained from any of the heights.

The sun was fast sinking, and the hills rose as I advanced. I was so weary that I could go little further. But taking a careful view of the peaks which would guide me back to my camp, I determined to travel on till it should become too dark to see what might open before me. I climbed slowly and tediously the seemingly endless swells, lifting themselves over and beyond each other in beautiful, but to my wearied limbs, and longing eyes in most vexatious continuity, till the sun dipped his lower rim beneath the horizon.

A volcano burst the hills, thought I; and on I trudged with the little strength that a large quantity of vexation gave me. Fires blister your beautiful brows, I half uttered, as I dragged myself up the crowning eminence, and saw[Pg 350] the plateau declining in irregular undulations far into the south-west—{156} a sterile waste, clothed in the glories of the last rays of a splendid sunset. The crests of the distant swells were fringed with bunch grass; not a shrub or a tree on all the field of vision; and evidently no water nearer than the Columbia. Those cattle which are, in the opinions of certain travellers, to depasture these plains in future time, must be of sound wind and limb to gather food and water the same day. I found myself so wearied on attaining this goal of my wishes, that, notwithstanding the lateness of the hour, I was literally compelled to seek some rest before attempting to descend.

I therefore seated myself, and in the luxury of repose permitted darkness to commence creeping over the landscape, before I could rouse myself to the effort of moving. When I did start, my style of locomotion was extremely varied, and withal sometimes not the most pleasant to every portion of the mortal coil. My feet were not unfrequently twice or thrice the length of that measure in advance of my body. But the reader must not suppose that this circumstance diminished my speed. I continued to slide down the hills, using as vehicles the small sharp stones beneath me, until an opportunity offered to put my {157} nether extremities under me again. Once I had nearly plunged headlong from a precipice some fifty feet high, and saved myself by catching a wormwood bush standing within three feet of the brink. Finally, without any serious mishap, I arrived in camp, so completely exhausted, that, without tasting food, I threw myself on my couch for the night.

3rd. The earthy bluffs continued to bind the chasm of the river till mid-day, when buttresses of basalt took their place. A little bunch grass grew among the wild wormwood. Turkeys, grouse, and a species of large[Pg 351] hare frequently appeared; many ducks in the stream. For three hours before sunset the trail was rugged and precipitous, often overhanging the river, and so narrow that a mis-step of four inches would have plunged horse and rider hundreds of feet into the boiling flood. But as Skyuse horses never make such disagreeable mistakes, we rode the steeps in safety. Encamped in a small grove of willows. The river along the day's march was hemmed in by lofty and rugged mountains. The rocks showed indubitable evidences of a volcanic origin. As the sun went down, the Wallawalla village on the opposite shore {158} sang a hymn in their own language, to a tune which I have often heard sung in Catholic Churches, before the image of the Virgin. The country in the south, as seen from the heights, was broken and barren; view limited in all directions by the unevenness of the surface.

4th. Awakened this morning by the fall of a hundred tons of rock from the face of the mountain near us. The earth trembled as if the slumbering volcanoes were wrestling in its bowels. We were brought to our feet, and opened and rubbed our eyes with every mark of despatch. My "poor crane" and his hopeful son condescended to appear shocked; an event in an Indian's life that occurs as seldom as his birth. I had stationed myself near the fallen rocks as the sun's first rays awoke the morning hymn of the Indian village.

It was a sweet wild tune that they sung to God among the dark mountains of the Columbia. And sweeter, perhaps, in such a place, where every motion of the heart is a monition that one is alone, and every thought brings with it the remembrance that the social affections are separated from the objects of their fondness, and where every moral sensibility is chilled by a sense of {159} desolation and danger, calling into exercise the resisting and[Pg 352] exterminating propensities, and where the holy memories of home find no response but in some loved star in the unchanging heavens. In such a place how far sweeter than anything beside is the evidence of the religious principle—the first teaching of a mother's love, rising over the wastes of nature from the altar of a pure heart—the incense of love going up to the heavenly presence.

At eight o'clock we were en route; at nine o'clock approached the bend in the river, where it changes from a south-west to a north-west course.[224] At this place the cliffs which overhang the southern bank presented a fine collection of basaltic columns. Along the margin of the river lay hillocks of scoriæ, piled together in every imaginable form of confusion. Among them grew considerable quantities of bunch grass, on which a band of Wallawalla horses were feeding. Sand-hills on the opposite shore rose one thousand feet in the air. Basalt occurred at intervals, in a more or less perfect state of formation, till the hour of noon, when the trail led to the base of a series of columns extending three-fourths of a mile down the bank. These were more perfectly formed than any previously seen.

{160} They swelled from a large curve of the mountain side, like the bastions of ancient castles; and one series of lofty columns towered above another, till the last was surmounted by a crowning tower, a little above the level of the plain beyond. And their pentagonal form, longitudinal sections, dark shining fracture, and immense masses strewn along my way, betokened me if not in the very presence of the Giant's Causeway, yet on a spot where the same mighty energies had exerted themselves which built[Pg 353] that rare, beautiful wonder of the Emerald Isle. The river was very tortuous, and shut in by high dykes of basalt and sand hills the remainder of the day; saw three small rapids in the Columbia; encamped at sunset; too weary to climb the heights.

5th. Arose at break of day, and ordering my guide to make arrangements for starting as soon as I should return, I ascended the neighbouring heights. Grassy undulating plains in all directions south of the river. Far in the north-east towered the frozen peak of Mount Washington, a perfect pyramid, clothed with eternal snows.[225] The view in the north was hemmed in by mountains which rose higher than the place of observation. On descending, my guide Crickie complained of ill-health; and assigned that {161} circumstance as a reason why he should not proceed with me to the Dalles. I was much vexed with him at the time, for his unseasonable desertion, and believed that the real inducement to his course was the danger to be apprehended from the Indians at the Shutes. But I was sorry to learn from Dr. Whitman afterwards that the poor fellow was actually sick, and that he suffered much at the sand bank encampment, where I left him. After paying Crickie for his faithful services thus far along, and giving him four days' provision for himself and boy, a Wallawalla Indian who had encamped with us the previous night, took charge of Crickie's horses, bearing myself and packs, and led the way down the river.

The "poor crane" was an honest, honourable man;[Pg 354] and I can never think of all his kind acts to me, from the time I met him in the plains beyond the Wallawalla mission, till I left him sick on the bank of the Columbia, without wishing an opportunity to testify my sense of his moral worth and goodness of heart in some way which shall yield him a substantial reward for all he suffered in my service. Two hours' ride brought to my ears the music of the "tum tum orter;" {162} the Indian-English for the "thundering waters" of the Shutes.[226] These are the only perpendicular falls of the Columbia, in its course from the junction of its great northern and southern branches, to the ocean. And they do indeed thunder. A stratum of black rock forming the bed of the river above, by preserving its horizontal position, rises at this place above the natural surface of the stream, and forms an abrupt precipice, hanging sixty feet in height over the bed below.

The river, when I passed was unfortunately at its lower stage—still the Shutes were terribly grand. The main body of the water swept around near its southern bank, and being there compressed into, a narrow rough channel, chafed its angry way to the brink, where, bending a massive curve, as if hesitating to risk the leap, it plunged into a narrow cavern sixty feet deep, with a force and volume which made the earth tremble. The noise was prodigious, deafening, and echoed in awful tumult among the barren mountains. Further towards the other shore, smaller jets were rushing from the imprisoned rocks which clustered near the brow of the cliff, into other caverns; {163} and close under the north bank, and farther down the stream,[Pg 355] thundered another, nearly equal in grandeur to the one first described.

On the portions of the rocky stratum left by the chafing waters, in wearing out numerous channels below the present situation of the Shutes, were the flag huts of one hundred Wallawalla fishermen. They were taking salmon with scoop nets and bone pointed spears. These people are filthy and naked. Some sat by fires swallowing roasted salmon; others greasing themselves with the oil of that fish; others were dressing and drying them; others stood down on the projections in the chasms, sweeping their nets in the foaming waters; untaught, un-elevated, least intelligent, least improvable human nature! It was not deemed safe to remain long among these savages, who had begun to examine my packs with more interest than strictly honest intentions towards them seemed to require, and I took to the trail again on a fast trot.

Some of them endeavoured to follow on foot, demanding a tribute of "smoke" for the privilege of passing their dominions. But having none at hand I pushed on, without regarding their suit, over sand hills, {164} beds of volcanic stones, and hanging declivities, till rounding a basaltic buttress, I came in view of the little plain on the south western shore of the Dalles. The "Dalles," a French term for "flat stones," is applied to a portion of the river here, where, by a process similar to that going on at Niagara, the waters have cut channels through an immense stratum of black rock, over which they used to fall as at the Shutes.[227]

[Pg 356]

At low stages these are of sufficient capacity to pass all the waters. But the annual floods overflow the "flat stones," and produce a lashing and leaping, and whirling of waters, too grand for the imagination to conceive. These "Dalles" are covered with the huts of the Chinooks, a small band of a tribe of the same name, which inhabits the banks of Columbia from this place to its mouth.[228] They flatten their heads and perforate the septum of the nose, as do the Wallawallas, Skyuse and Nez Percés.

The depression of the southern embankment of the chasm of the river at the Dalles, extends eight miles along the stream, and from a half mile to a mile in width. It is broken by ledges bursting through the {165} surface, and in parts loaded with immense boulders of detached rocks. Along the north-western border are groves of small white oaks; and on the highlands in that direction are forests of pine, spruce and other evergreens, clothing the whole country westward to the snowy peaks of the President's Range.

In the south-west, specked with clusters of bunch grass, is an open rolling plain, which stretches beyond the reach of vision. In the north rise sharp mountains, thinly clad with evergreen trees; through an opening among the peaks of which, appeared the shining apex of Mount Adams.[229] In the north-east sweep away in brown barrenness, naked cliffs and sandy wastes. I had taken a bird's-eye view of the Dalles and the region round about, when my Indian cried out "Lee house." And there it was, [Pg 357]a mission house of the American P. E. Methodist Church, in charge of Messrs. Lee and Perkins.[230]

I spent a week at the Dalles' mission, eating salmon and growing fat; an event that had not lately occurred in the republic of the members of my mortal confederacy.

The buildings of the mission, are a dwelling-house, {166} a house for worship and for school purposes, and a workshop, &c. The first is a log structure thirty by twenty feet, one and a half floor high, shingle roofs, and floors made of plank cut with a whip-saw from the pines of the hills. The lower story is divided into two rooms—the one a dining-room, the other the family apartment of Mr. Perkins and lady. These are lined overhead and at the sides with beautiful rush mats manufactured by the Indians. The upper story is partitioned into six dormitories, and a school-room for Indian children; all neatly lined with mats. Underneath is an excellent cellar. The building designed for a house of worship, was being built when I arrived. Its architecture is a curiosity.

The frame is made in the usual form, save that instead of four main posts at the corners, and others at considerable distances, for the support of lateral girders, there were eleven on each side, and six on each end, beside the corner posts—all equal in size and length. Between these billets of wood were driven transversely, on which as lathing, mortar made of clay, sand and straw, were[Pg 358] laid to a level with their exterior and interior faces. There is so little falling {167} weather here, that this mode of building was considered sufficiently substantial.

Messrs. Lee and Perkins were formerly connected with the mission on the Willamette. Eighteen months before I had the happiness of enjoying their hospitality, they came to this spot with axes on their shoulders, felled trees, ploughed, fenced, and planted twenty acres of land with their own hands, and erected these habitations of civilization and Christianity on the bosom of the howling wilderness. Their premises are situated on elevated ground, about a mile south-west from the river. Immediately back is a grove of small white oaks and yellow pines; a little north, is a sweet spring bursting from a ledge of rocks which supplies water for house use, and moistens about an acre of rich soil. About a mile to the south, are two or three hundred acres of fine land, with groves of oaks around, and an abundant supply of excellent water. Here it was the intention of the mission to open a farm under the care of a layman from the States.

A mile and a half to the north, is a tract of about two hundred acres, susceptible of being plentifully irrigated by a number of large streams that pour down upon it from {168} the western mountains. Here, too, they intended to locate laymen to open farms, and extract from the idle earth the means of feeding themselves, the Indians, and the wayworn white man from the burnt solitudes of the mountains. No location, not even the sacred precincts of St. Bernard, on the snows of the Alps, could be better chosen for the operations of a holy benevolence.

The Indians from many quarters flock to the Dalles and the Shutes in the spring, and autumn, and winter to purchase salmon; the commercial movements between[Pg 359] the States and the Pacific will pass their door; and there in after-days, the sturdy emigrants from the States will stop, (as did the pilgrims on Plymouth rock,) to give grateful praise to Him who stood forth in their aid, not indeed while struggling on the foamy billow, but on the burning plain and the icy cliff, and in the deadly turmoil of Indian battles on the way, and will seek food and rest for their emaciated frames, before entering the woody glen and flowing everglades of Lower Oregon.

A saw-mill, a grist-mill, and other machinery necessary to carry out a liberal plan of operations, are in contemplation. The {169} fruit of the oak, it is supposed, will support 1,000 hogs from the middle of August to the middle of April; the products of the arable soil will suffice to make that number into marketable pork; and as the grass and other vegetation grow there during the winter months, twenty-five or thirty square miles of pasturage round about, will enable them to raise, at a trifling expense, immense numbers of sheep, horses and cattle. Five acres of ground cultivated in 1839, produced twenty-five bushels of the small grains, seventy-five bushels of potatoes, and considerable quantities of other vegetables. This was an experiment only on soil not irrigated. Gentlemen suppose it capable of producing double that amount, if irrigated. The season, too, was unusually dry.

Around about the mission are clusters of friable sand-stone rocks of remarkable form. Their height varies from ten to thirty feet; their basilar diameters from three to ten feet: their shape generally resembles that of the obelisk. These (fifteen or twenty in number) standing among the oaks and pines, often in clusters, and sometimes solitary, give a strange interest of antiquity to the spot. And this illusion is increased by a {170} rock of another form, an immense boulder resting upon a short,[Pg 360] slender pedestal, and strikingly resembling the Egyptian sphynx. The Indian tradition in regard to them is, that they were formerly men, who, for some sin against the Great Spirit, were changed to stone.

At the Dalles is the upper village of the Chinooks. At the Shutes, five miles above, is the lower village of the Wallawallas. One of the missionaries, Mr. Lee, learns the Chinook language, and the other, Mr. Perkins, the Wallawalla; and their custom is to repair on Sabbath days each to his own people, and teach them the Christian religion. The Chinooks flatten their heads more, and are more stupid than any other tribe on the Columbia. There was one among the Dalles' band, who, it was said, resisted so obstinately the kind efforts of his parents to crush his skull into the aristocratic shape, that they abandoned him to the care of nature in this regard; and much to the scandal of his family, his head grew in the natural form. I saw him every day while I staid there. He was evidently the most intelligent one of the band. His name is Boston; so called, because the form of his head resembles that of Americans, {171} whom the Indians call "Boston," in order to distinguish them from "King George's men,"—the Hudson Bay Company gentlemen. Boston, although of mean origin, has, on account of his superior energy and intelligence, become the war chief of the Dalles.

On the morning of the 14th, I overhauled my baggage, preparatory to descending the river. In doing so, I was much vexed to find that the Indians had, in some manner, drawn my saddle to the window of the workshop in which it was deposited, and stripped it of stirrups, stirrup-straps, surcingle, girths, and crupper. They had also stolen my bridle.

The loss of these articles, in a region where they could[Pg 361] not be purchased—articles so necessary to me in carrying out my designs of travelling over the lower country, roused in me the bitterest determination to regain them at all hazards. Without reflecting for a moment upon the disparity of numbers between my single self and forty or fifty able-bodied Indians, I armed myself completely, and marched my solitary battalion to the camp of the principal chief, and entered it. He was away. I explained to some persons there by signs {172} and a few words, the object of my search, and marched my army to an elevated position and halted.

I had been stationed but a short time, when the Indians began to collect in their chief's lodge, and whisper earnestly. Ten minutes passed thus, and Indians were constantly arriving and entering. I was supported in the rear by a lusty oak, and so far as I remember, was ready to exclaim with the renowned antagonist of Roderick Dhu,

"Come one, come all;" &c.

but never having been a hero before or since, I am not quite certain that I thought any such thing. My wrath, however, was extreme. To be robbed for the first time by Indians, and that by such cowardly wretches as these Chinooks were; and robbed too of my means of exploring Oregon, when on the very threshold of the most charming part of it, was an inconvenience and an ignominy worth a battle to remove.

Just at the moment of this lofty conclusion, thirty-eight or forty Indians rushed around me; eight or ten loaded muskets were levelled at my chest, within ten feet of me, and the old chief stood within five feet, with {173} a duelling pistol loaded, cocked, and pointed at my heart. While this movement was being made, I brought my rifle to bear upon the old chief's vital organs. Thus both armies stood for the space of five minutes,[Pg 362] without the movement of tongue or muscle. Then one of the braves intimated that it was "not good" for me to be out with arms; and that I must immediately accommodate myself within doors. But to this proposition the bravery of my army would not submit. I accordingly informed him to that effect; whereupon the opposing army went into a furious rage.

At this juncture of affairs, Mr. Lee came up, and acted as interpreter. He inquired into the difficulty, and was told that the "whole Chinook tribe was threatened with invasion, and all the horrors of a general war, on what account they knew not." The commander of my army reported that they had robbed him, and deserved such treatment; and that he had taken arms to annihilate the tribe, unless they had restored to him what they had stolen.

I was then told that "it was not good for me to appear in arms—that it was good for me to go into the house." To this, my army with one voice replied, "Nay, never, {174} never leave the ground, or the Chinooks alive, tribe or chief, if the stolen property be not restored;" and wheeling my battalion, drove first one flank and then the other of the opposing hosts, fifty yards into the depths of the forests.

During this movement, worthy of the best days of Spartan valour, the old chief stood amazed to see his followers, with guns loaded and cocked, fly before such inferior numbers. After effecting the complete rout of the opposing infantry, the army under my command took up the old position without the loss of a single man. But the old chief was still there, as dogged and sullen as Indian ever was. On approaching him, he presented his pistol again near my chest, whereupon my rifle was instantly in a position to reach his; and thus the renowned leaders of these mighty hosts stood for the space of an hour without bloodshed.

[Pg 363]

Perhaps such another chief was never seen; such unblenching coolness—excepting always the heat which was thrown off in a healthful and profuse perspiration—and such perfect undauntedness, except an unpleasant knocking of the knees together, produced probably by the anticipated blasts of December. But while these exhibitions {175} of valour were being enacted, one stirrup was thrown at my feet, and then the other, and then the straps, the crupper, &c., until all the most valuable articles lost, were piled before me. The conquest was complete, and will doubtless shed immortal lustre upon the gallant band, who, in the heart of the wilderness, dared to assert and maintain, against the encroachments of a numerous and well-disciplined foe, the "élite" of the Chinook army, the rights and high prerogative of brave freemen and soldiers. The number of killed and wounded of the enemy had not been ascertained, when the troops under my command departed for the lower country.

In the evening which succeeded this day of carnage, the old chief assembled his surviving followers, and made war speeches until midnight. His wrath was immeasurable. On the following morning, the Indians in the employ of the mission left their work.

About ten o'clock, one of the tribe appeared with a pack-horse, to convey Mr. Lee's and my own packs to the water-side. The old chief also appeared, and bade him desist. He stood armed before the house an hour, making many threats against the {176} Bostons, individually and collectively; but finally retired. As soon as he had entered his lodge, the horse of his disobedient subject was loaded, and rushed to the river. An effort was made to get oarsmen for our canoe, but the old hero of a legion of devils told them, "the high Bostons would kill them[Pg 364] all, and that they must not go with him." Mr. Lee, however, did not despair.

We followed the baggage towards the river. When within a quarter of a mile of it, two Americans, members of Richardson's party, Mr. Lee and an Indian or two, whom the old chief had not succeeded in frightening took the canoe from the bushes, and bore it to the river on their shoulders.

The natives were stationed beyond rifle-shot upon the rocks on either side of the way, bows and arrows, and guns in hand. Indian Boston was in command. He stood on the loftiest rock, grinding his teeth, and growling like a bloodhound, "Bostons ugh;" and springing upon his bow, drove his arrows into the ground with demoniac madness. I stopped, and drew my rifle to my face, whereupon there was a grand retreat behind the rocks. My army marched slowly and majestically on, as became the dignity {177} of veteran victors. The women and children fled from the wigwams by the way; and the fear of the annihilation of the whole tribe only abated when my wrath was, to their understanding, appeased by the interference of Mr. Lee. Thus the tribe was saved from my vengeance—the whole number, fifty or sixty stout savages, were saved! an instance of clemency, a parallel to which will scarcely be found in the history of past ages.

Being convinced, at last, that my intentions towards them had become more pacific, six oarsmen, a bowsman, and steersman, were readily engaged by Mr. Lee, and he shoved off from that memorable battle-ground on a voyage to the Willamette. These Indians have been notorious thieves ever since they have been known to the whites. Their meanness has been equally well known. Destitute of every manly and moral virtue, they and their[Pg 365] fathers have hung around the Dalles, eaten salmon, and rotted in idleness and vice; active only in mischief, and honest only in their crouching cowardice towards those they suppose able to punish their villany.[231]

There is some very curious philosophy among them: as for example, they believe {178} human existence to be indestructible by the laws of nature; and never diseased, unless made so by the Medicine men or conjurers, who are believed to enter into the system in an unseen manner, and pull at the vitals. They also hold that one Medicine man can cast out another. Accordingly, when one of them is called to a patient and does not succeed in restoring him to health, he is believed to be accessory to his death, and is punished as such by the relatives of the deceased.

Their mode of treating patients is to thrust them into a sweat oven, and thence, reeking with perspiration, into the cold streams. After this, they are stretched out at length on the ground, wrapped very warmly, and kneaded, and rolled, and rubbed, with great severity. The abdomen is violently pressed down to the spine, and the forehead pressed with the might of the operator; the arms and limbs, pinched and rubbed, rolled and bruised. Meanwhile, the conjuror is uttering most beastly noises. As might be supposed, patients labouring under the febrile diseases, are soon destroyed.

In order, however, to keep up their influence among the people, the conjurors of {179} a tribe, male and female, have cabalistic dances. After the darkness of night sets[Pg 366] in, they gather together in a wigwam, build a large fire in the centre, spread the floor with elk skins, set up on end a wide cedar board, and suspend near it a stick of wood in a horizontal position. An individual seizes the end of the stick, swings the other end against the cedar board, and thus beats noisy time to a still more noisy chant. The dance is commenced sometimes by a man alone, and often by a man and woman. And various and strange are the bodily contortions of the performers. They jump up and down, and swing their arms with more and more violence, as the noise of the singing and thumping accompaniment increases, and yelp, and froth at the mouth, till the musician winds up with the word "ugh"—a long, strong, gutteral grunt; or until some one of the dancers falls apparently dead.

When the latter is the case, one of the number walks around the prostrate individual, and calls his or her name loudly at each ear, at the nose, fingers, and toes. After this ceremony, the supposed dead shudders greatly, and comes to life. And thus they continue to sing, and thump, and {180} dance, and die, and come to life through the night. They are said to be very expert at sleight of hand.

The Chinooks, like all other Indians, believe in existence after death; but their views of the conditions of that existence, I could not learn. The conjurors teach them, that they themselves shall be able to visit their tribe after the body shall have decayed; and when approaching the end of their days, inform the people in what shape they will manifest themselves. Some choose a horse, others a deer, others an elk, &c., and when they die, the image of their transmigrated state is erected over their remains.[232]

[Pg 367]

The reader is desired to consider Mr. Lee and myself gliding, arrow-like, down the deep clear Columbia, at two o'clock in the afternoon of the 15th, and to interest himself in the bold mountain embankments clothed with the deep, living green of lofty pine and fir forests, while I revert to the kind hospitalities of the Dalles' mission. Yet how entirely impossible is it to relate all that one enjoys in every muscle of the body, every nerve and sense, and every affection of the spirit when he flies from the hardships and loneliness of deserts to the {181} comforts of a bed, a chair, and a table, and the holy sympathy of hearts moulded and controlled by the higher sentiments. I had taken leave of Mr. and Mrs. Perkins with the feelings that one experiences in civilized lands, when leaving long-tried and congenial friends.

The good man urged me to return and explore with him, during the rainy season in the lower country, some extensive and beautiful prairies, which the Indians say lie sixty or seventy miles in the north, on the east side of the President's range; and Mrs. Perkins kindly proposed to welcome my return for that object with a splendid suit of buckskin, to be used in my journeyings.

But I must leave my friends to introduce the reader to the "Island of the Tombs."[233] Mr. Lee pointed to it, as the tops of the cedar board houses of the dead peered over the hillocks of sand and rock among which they [Pg 368]stood. We moored our canoe on the western side, and climbed up a precipice of black shining rocks two hundred feet; and winding among drifts of sand the distance of one hundred yards came to the tombs. They consisted of boxes ten or twelve feet square on the ground, eight or ten high, made of cedar {182} boards fastened to a rough frame, in an upright position at the sides, and horizontally over the top. On them, and about them, were the cooking utensils, and other personal property of the deceased. Within were the dead bodies, wrapped in many thicknesses of deer and elk skins, tightly lashed with leather thongs, and laid in a pile with their heads to the east. Underneath the undecayed bodies were many bones from which the flesh and wrappings had fallen: in some instances a number of waggon loads. Three or four of the tombs had gone to ruins, and the skulls and other bones lay strewn on the ground. The skulls were all flattened. I picked up one with the intention of bringing it to the States. But as Mr. Lee assured me that the high veneration of the living for the dead would make the attempt very dangerous, I reluctantly returned it to its resting place.[234]

We glided merrily down the river till sunset, and landed on the northern shore to sup. The river had varied from one to one and a half miles in width, with rather a sluggish current; water clear, cool, and very deep. Various kinds of duck, divers, &c., were upon its beautiful surface. The {183} hair seal was abundant.[235] The mountains rose [Pg 369]abruptly on either side from five hundred to two thousand feet, in sweeping heights, clad with evergreen trees. Some few small oaks grew in the nooks by the water side. Among these were Indian wigwams, constructed of boards split from the red cedar on the mountains. I entered some of them. They were filthy in the extreme. In one of them was a sick man. A withered old female was kneading and pinching the devil out of him. He was labouring under a bilious fever. But as a "Medicine man" was pulling at his gall, it was necessary to expel him; and the old hag pressed his head, bruised his abdomen, &c., with the fury and groaning of a bedlamite.

Not an acre of arable land appeared along the shores. The Indians subsist on fish and acorns of the white oak. The former they eat fresh during the summer; but their winter stores they dry and preserve in the following manner:—The spine of the fish being taken out, and the flesh being slashed into checks with a knife, so as to expose as much surface as possible, is laid on the rocks to dry. After becoming thoroughly {184} hard, it is bruised to powder, mixed with the oil of the leaf fat of the fish, and packed away in flag sacks. Although no salt is used in this preparation, it remains good till May of the following year. The acorns, as soon as they fall from the trees, are buried in sand constantly saturated with water, where they remain till spring. By this soaking their bitter flavour is said to be destroyed.

After supper, Mr. Lee ordered a launch, and the Indian paddles were again dipping in the bright waters. The stars were out on the clear night, twinkling as of old, when the lofty peaks around were heaved from the depths of the volcano. They now looked down on a less grand, indeed, but more lovely scene. The fires of the natives blazed among the woody glens, the light canoe skimmed[Pg 370] the water near the shore, the winds groaned over the mountain tops, the cascades sang from cliff to cliff, the loon shouted and dove beneath the shining wave; it was a wild, almost unearthly scene, in the deep gorge of the Columbia. The rising of the moon changed its features. The profoundest silence reigned, save the dash of paddles that echoed faintly from the shores; our canoe sprang lightly over {185} the rippling waters, the Indian fires smouldered among the waving pines; the stars became dim, and the depths of the blue sky glowed one vast nebula of mellow light. But the eastern mountains hid awhile the orb from sight.

The south-western heights shone with its pale beams, and cast into the deeply sunken river a bewitching dancing of light and shade, unequalled by the pencil of the wildest imagination. The grandeur, too, of grove, and cliff, and mountain, and the mighty Columbia wrapped in the drapery of a golden midnight! It was the new and rapidly opening panorama of the sublime wilderness. The scene changed again when the moon was high in heaven.

The cocks crew in the Indian villages; the birds twittered on the boughs; the wild fowl screamed, as her light gilded the chasm of the river, and revealed the high rock Islands with their rugged crags and mouldering tombs. The winds from Mount Adams were loaded with frosts, and the poetry of the night was fast waning into an ague, when Mr. Lee ordered the steersman to moor. A crackling pine fire was soon blazing, and having warmed our shivering {186} frames, we spread our blankets, and slept sweetly till the dawn.

Early on the morning of the 16th, our Indians were pulling at the paddles. The sky was overcast, and a dash of rain occasionally fell, the first I had witnessed[Pg 371] since leaving Boyou Salade.[236] And although the air was chilly, and the heavens gloomy, yet when the large clear drops pattered on my hat, and fell in glad confusion around our little bark, a thrill of pleasure shot through my heart. Dangers, wastes, thirst, starvation, eternal dearth on the earth, and dewless heavens, were matters only of painful recollection. The present was the reality of the past engrafted on the hopes of the future; the showery skies, the lofty green mountains, the tumbling cataracts, the mighty forests, the sweet savour of teeming groves, among the like of which I had breathed in infancy, hung over the threshold of the lower Columbia, the goal of my wayfaring.

Hearken to that roar of waters! see the hastening of the flood! hear the sharp rippling by yonder rock; the whole river sinks from view in advance of us. The bowsman dips his paddle deeply and quickly; the frail canoe shoots to the {187} northern shore between a string of islands and the main land; glides quickly down a narrow channel; passes a village of cedar board wigwams on a beautiful little plain to the right; it rounds the lower island; behold the Cascades!—an immense trough of boulders of rocks, down which rushes the "Great River of the West." The baggage is ashore; the Indians are conveying the canoe over the portage, and while this is being done, the reader will have time to explore the lower falls of the Columbia, and their vicinage.[237]

The trail of the Portage runs near the torrent, along the rocky slope on its northern bank, and terminates [Pg 372]among large loose rocks, blanched by the floods of ages, at the foot of the trough of the main rapid. It is about a mile and a half long. At its lower end voyagers reembark when the river is at a low stage, and run the lower rapids. But when it is swollen by the annual freshets, they bear their boats a mile and a half farther down, where the water is deep and less tumultuous. In walking down this path, I had a near view of the whole length of the main rapids. As I have intimated, the bed of the river here is a vast inclined trough of white rocks, sixty {188} or eighty feet deep, about four hundred yards wide at the top, and diminishing to about half that width at the bottom. The length of this trough is about a mile. In that distance the water falls about one hundred and thirty feet; in the rapids, above and below it, about twenty feet, making the whole descent about one hundred and fifty feet. The quantity of water which passes here is incalculable. But an approximate idea of it may be obtained from the fact that while the velocity is so great, that the eye with difficulty follows objects floating on the surface, yet such is its volume at the lowest stage of the river, that it rises and bends like a sea of molten glass over a channel of immense rocks, without breaking its surface, except near the shores, so deep and vast is the mighty flood!

In the June freshets, when the melted snows from the western declivities of seven hundred miles of the Rocky Mountains, and those on the eastern sides of the President's Range, come down, the Cascades must present a spectacle of sublimity equalled only by Niagara. This is the passage of the river through the President's Range, and the mountains near it on either {189} side are worthy of their distinguished name. At a short distance from the southern shore they rise in long ridgy slopes, covered with pines, and other terebinthine trees of extraordinary[Pg 373] size,[238] over the tops of which rise bold black crags, which, elevating themselves in great grandeur one beyond another, twenty or thirty miles to the southward, cluster around the icy base of Mount Washington. On the other side of the Cascades is a similar scene. Immense and gloomy forests, tangled with fallen timber and impenetrable underbrush, cover mountains, which in the States, would excite the profoundest admiration for their majesty and beauty, but which dwindle into insignificance as they are viewed in presence of the shining glaciers, and massive grandeur of Mount Adams, hanging over them.

The river above the Cascades runs north-westwardly; but approaching the descent, it turns westward, and, after entering the trough, south-westwardly, and having passed this, it resumes its course to the north west. By this bend, it leaves between its shore and the northern mountains, a somewhat broken plain, a mile in width, and about four miles in length. At the upper end of the rapids, this plain is {190} nearly on a level with the river, so that an inconsiderable freshet sets the water up a natural channel half way across the bend. This circumstance, and the absence of any serious obstruction in the form of hills, &c., led me to suppose that a canal might be cut around the Cascades at a trifling expence, which would not only open steamboat navigation to the Dalles, but furnish at this interesting spot, an incalculable amount of water power.[239]

[Pg 374]

The canoe had been deposited among the rocks at the lower end of the trough, our cocoa and boiled salmon, bread, butter, potatoes, &c., had been located in their proper depositories, and we were taking a parting gaze at the rushing flood, when the sound of footsteps, and an order given in French to deposit a bale of goods at the water side, drew our attention to a hearty old gentleman of fifty or fifty-five, whom Mr. Lee immediately recognized as Dr. McLaughlin.[240] He was about five feet eleven inches in height, and stoutly built, weighing about two hundred pounds, with large green blueish eyes, a ruddy complexion, and hair of snowy whiteness. He was on his return from London with dispatches from the Hudson's Bay Company's Board in {191} England, and with letters from friends at home to the hundreds of Britons in its employ in the north-western wilderness. He was in high spirits. Every crag in sight was familiar to him, had witnessed the energy and zeal of thirty years' successful enterprise; had seen him in the strength of ripened manhood, and now beheld his undiminished energies crowned with the frosted locks of age. We spent ten minutes with the doctor, and received a kind invitation to the hospitalities of his post; gave our canoe, freighted with our baggage, in charge of the Indians, to take down the lower rapids, and ascended the bluff to the trail which leads to the tide-water below them. We climbed two hundred feet among small spruce, pine, fir, and hemlock trees, to the table land.

The track was strewn with fragments of petrified trees, from three inches to two feet in diameter, and rocks,[Pg 375] (quartz and granite, ex loco), mingled with others more or less fused. Soon after striking the path on the plain, we came to a beautiful little lake, lying near the brink of the hill. It was clear and deep; and around its western, northern, and eastern shores, drooped the boughs of a thick hedge of small evergreen {192} trees, which dipped and rose charmingly in its waters. All around stood the lofty pines, sighing and groaning in the wind. Nothing could be seen, but the little lake and the girding forest; a gem of perfect beauty, reflecting the deep shades of the unbroken wilderness. A little stream creeping away from it down the bluff, babbled back the roar of the Cascades.[241]

The trail led us among deep ravines, clad with heavy frosts, the soil of which was a coarse gravel, thinly covered with a vegetable mould. A mile from the lake, we came upon a plain level again. In this place was a collection of Indian tombs, similar to those upon the "Island of tombs." These were six or eight in number, and contained a great quantity of bones. On the boards around the sides were painted the figures of death, horses, dogs, &c. The great destroyer bears the same grim aspect to the savage mind that he does to ours.—A skull and the fleshless bones of a skeleton piled around, were his symbol upon these rude resting places of the departed.[242] One of them, which our Indian said, contained the remains of a celebrated "Medicine man," bore the figure of a horse rudely carved {193} from the red cedar tree. This was the form in which his posthumous visits were to be made to his tribe. Small brass kettles, wooden pails, and baskets of curious workmanship, were piled on the roof.

[Pg 376]

Thence onward half a mile over a stony soil, sometimes open, and again covered with forests, we reached our canoe by the rocky shore at the foot of the rapids. Mr. Lee here pointed out to me a strong eddying current on the southern shore, in which Mr. Cyrus Shepard and Mrs. Doctor White and child, of the Methodist Mission on the Willamette, were capsized the year before, in an attempt to run the lower rapids.[243] Mr. Shepard could not swim—had sunk the second time, and rose by the side of the upturned canoe, when he seized the hand of Mrs. White, who was on the opposite side, and thus sustained himself and her, until some Indians came to their relief. On reaching the shore, and turning up the canoe, the child was found entangled among the cross-bars, dead!

The current was strong where we re-entered our canoe, and bore us along at a brisk rate.—The weather, too, was very agreeable; the sky transparent, and glowing with a mild October sun. The scenery {194} about us was truly grand. A few detached wisps of mist clung to the dark crags of the mountains on the southern shore, and numerous cascades shot out from the peaks, and tumbling from one shelf to another, at length plunged hundreds of feet among confused heaps of rocks in the vale. The crags themselves were extremely picturesque; they beetled out so boldly, a thousand feet above the forests on the sides of the mountain, and appeared to hang so easily and gracefully on the air. Some of them were basaltic. One appeared very remarkable. The moun[Pg 377]tain on which it stood was about one thousand two hundred feet high. On its side there was a deep rocky ravine. In this, about three hundred feet from the plain, arose a column of thirty or forty feet in diameter, and, I judged more than two hundred feet high, surmounted by a cap resembling the pediment of an ancient church.

Far up its sides grew a number of shrub cedars, which had taken root in the crevices, and, as they grew, sunk down horizontally, forming an irregular fringe of green around it. A short distance further down was seen a beautiful cascade. The stream appeared to rise near the very apex of the {195} mountain, and having run a number of rods in a dark gorge between two peaks, it suddenly shot from the brink of a cliff into the copse of evergreen trees at the base of the mountain. The height of the perpendicular fall appeared to be about six hundred feet. Some of the water was dispersed in spray before reaching the ground; but a large quantity of it fell on the plain, and sent among the heights a noisy and thrilling echo.[244] On the north side of the river, the mountains were less precipitous, and covered with a dense forest of pines, cedars, firs, &c.

The bottom lands of the river were alternately prairies and woodlands; the former clad with a heavy growth of the wild grasses, dry and brown—the latter, with pine, fir, cotton-wood, black ash, and various kinds of shrubs. The river varied in width from one to two miles, generally deep and still, but occasionally crossed by sand-bars. Ten or twelve miles below the cascades we came upon one, that, stretching two or three miles down the river, turned the current to the southern shore. The[Pg 378] wind blew freshly, and the waves ran high in that quarter; so it was deemed expedient to lighten the canoe. To this {196} end Mr. Lee, the two Americans and myself, landed on the northern shore for a walk, while the Indians should paddle around to the lower point of the bar. We travelled along the beach. It was generally hard and gravelly.

Among the pebbles, I noticed several splendid specimens of the agate. The soil of the flats was a vegetable mould, eighteen inches or two feet in depth, resting on a stratum of sand and gravel, and evidently overflown by the annual floods of June. The flats varied from a few rods to a mile in width. While enjoying this walk, the two Americans started up a deer, followed it into the woods, and, loth to return unsuccessful, pursued it till long after our canoe was moored below the bar. So that Mr. Lee and myself had abundant time to amuse ourselves with all manner of homely wishes towards our persevering companions till near sunset, when the three barges of Dr. McLaughlin, under their Indian blanket sails and sapling masts, swept gallantly by us, and added the last dreg to our vexation. Mr. Lee was calm, I was furious. What, for a paltry deer, lose a view of the Columbia hence to the Fort! But I remember with satisfaction that no one was materially {197} injured by my wrath, and that my truant countrymen were sufficiently gratified with their success to enable them to bear with much resignation, three emphatic scowls, as they made their appearance at the canoe.

The dusk of night was now creeping into the valleys, and we had twenty miles to make. The tide from the Pacific was setting up, and the wind had left us; but our Indians suggested that the force of their paddles, stimulated by a small present of "shmoke" (tobacco,) would still carry us in by eleven o'clock. We therefore gave[Pg 379] our promises to pay the required quantum of the herb, ensconced ourselves in blankets, and dozed to the wild music of the paddles, till a shower of hail aroused us. It was about ten o'clock. An angry cloud hung over us, and the rain and hail fell fast; the wind from Mounts Washington and Jefferson chilled every fibre of our systems; the wooded hills, on both sides of the river were wrapped in cold brown clouds; the owl and wolf were answering each other on the heights; enough of light lay on the stream to show dimly the islands that divided its waters, and the fires of the wigwams disclosed the naked groups of savages around them.

{198} It was a scene that the imagination loves. The canoe, thirty feet in length, (such another had cut those waters centuries before); the Indians, kneeling two and two, and rising on their paddles; their devoted missionary surveying them and the villages on the shores, and rejoicing in the anticipation, that soon the songs of the redeemed savage would break from the dark vales of Oregon; that those wastes of mind would soon teem with a harvest of happiness and truth, cast a breathing unutterable charm over the deep hues of that green wilderness, dimly seen on that stormy night, which will give me pleasure to dwell upon while I live. "On the bar!" cried Mr. Lee; and while our Indians leaped into the water, and dragged the canoe to the channel, he pointed to the dim light of the Hudson Bay Company's saw and grist mill two miles above on the northern shore.

We were three miles from Vancouver. The Indians knew the bar, and were delighted to find themselves so near the termination of their toil. They soon found the channel, and leaping aboard plied their paddles with renewed energy. And if any one faltered, the steersman rebuked him with his own hopes of "shmoke" and "sche[Pg 380]otecut," (the Fort) which never failed {199} to bring the delinquent to duty. Twenty minutes of vigorous rowing moored us at the landing. A few hundred yards below, floated a ship and a sloop, scarcely seen through the fog. On the shore rose a levee or breastwork, along which the dusky savages were gliding with stealthy and silent tread; in the distance were heard voices in English speaking of home. We landed, ascended the levee, entered a lane between cultivated fields, walked a quarter of a mile, where, under a long line of pickets, we entered Fort Vancouver—the goal of my wanderings, the destination of my weary footsteps![245]

Mr. James Douglass, the gentleman who had been in charge of the post during the absence of Dr. McLaughlin, conducted us to a room warmed by a well-fed stove; insisted that I should change my wet garments for dry ones, and proffered every other act that the kindest hospitality could suggest to relieve me of the discomforts resulting from four months' journeying in the wilderness.[246]


[223] For a brief sketch of Pambrun see our volume xxi, p. 280, note 74. In her letters Mrs. Whitman speaks repeatedly of kindness received from this Hudson's Bay Company factor, whose death she deplores. See Oregon Pioneer Association Transactions, 1891, pp. 88, 103, 139, 140.—Ed.

[224] The general trend of the river is west; just above John Day's River, in Gilliam County, there is a bend to the north-west, which is the point Farnham had reached.—Ed.

[225] Farnham evidently thought that he saw Mount St. Helens (see our volume vi, p. 246, note 50), which he here calls Mount Washington, although later giving it the title of Mount Adams (see our volume xxix, note 32—Farnham). Lewis and Clark made a similar mistake—see Original Journals, iii, p. 135. What our traveller saw was the present Mount Adams, for which see note 225, below.—Ed.

[226] All early travellers speak of the attempts of the Indians, in their designation of the neighborhood, to express the sound of the falling waters. Lewis and Clark speak of it as "tumm;" according to Ross (our volume vii, p. 133), it was "Lowhum." The Shutes (Des Chutes) is another name for the Great Falls of the Columbia.—Ed.

[227] The ordinary meaning of the word "dalles" is paving stones; but by the Canadian French it was also used to indicate a channel which carried off the waters dammed above—hence any form of confined, swiftly-flowing waters. Lewis and Clark spoke of these chasms through which the Columbia rushes as the Long and Short Narrows; by Farnham's time the term "Dalles" had become the ordinary appellation.—Ed.

[228] For the Chinook see Franchère's Narrative in our volume vi, p. 240, note 40.—Ed.

[229] Mount Adams (9570 feet) is one of the volcanic peaks of the Cascade Range in Klickitat County, Washington, about thirty miles east of Mount St. Helens. Both these volcanoes were in a state of eruption in 1842-43.—Ed.

[230] For Daniel Lee see Townsend's Narrative in our volume xxi, p. 138, note 13. H. K. W. Perkins came out to re-inforce the Methodist mission in September, 1837, and not long afterwards married Elvira Johnson, who had preceded him a few months. They joined with Daniel Lee in establing the Dalles mission in 1838, where they labored with varying success until about 1845, then returning to the "states." Mrs. Whitman spent the winter of 1842-43 at this mission, during her husband's absence. The mission house was located on the south bank of the river, just below the Long Narrows, near an Indian village called Kaclasco; the station was named Wascopum. See p. 388, note 208, in De Smet's Letters, our volume xxvii.—Ed.

[231] Farnham has not exaggerated the bad reputation of the Indians at the Dalles. Lewis and Clark felt that they owed their lives at this point to the strength of their party, and came nearer to having a skirmish with the natives of that locality than elsewhere on the Columbia waters. See also Ross's Oregon Settlers in our volume vii, pp. 126-131, and Franchère's Narrative, in our volume vi, pp. 274-276.—Ed.

[232] Daniel G. Brinton, Myths of the New World (Philadelphia, 1896), p. 298, considers that belief in transmigration is but little known among North American Indians. What traces may be found are due to totemic influence, and probably relate to reversion to the primitive spirit represented by the clan animal, rather than to transmigration into living animals. This statement of Farnham's would appear to have been suggested by totem poles near the graves.—Ed.

[233] The well-known Sepulchre Island, known in the native tongue as "Memaloose" (the abode of the dead). Many of the islands in the Columbia were used for burial; this in particular; about three miles below the mouth of Klickitat River, was noted by Lewis and Clark, who found erected thereupon thirteen large box-tombs—see Original Journals, iii, p. 170; iv, p. 283. In 1884 this island became the place of sepulchre for an Oregon pioneer, Vic Trevitt, whose monument has become a prominent landmark.—Ed.

[234] The Indians held in great reverence the tombs and the bones therein contained, and were quick to take vengeance for any spoliation. The flattened skulls always were an object of curiosity to whites, and many were surreptitiously carried away by the latter. See Townsend's experience in our volume xxi, pp. 338, 339.—Ed.

[235] Either one of the Phocidæ, or the Zalophus californianus, well known on the Pacific coast; both of these are hair seals.—Ed.

[236] For this region, now known as South Park, see ante, p. 199, note 123.—Ed.

[237] The Cascades, with their portage path, were to all early travellers the best-known features of the lower Columbia. See Lewis and Clark, Original Journals, iii, pp. 179-185; Ross's Oregon Settlers in our volume vii, pp. 121-125; and Townsend's Narrative in our volume xxi, pp. 291-293.—Ed.

[238] For the varieties of pine and other terebinthine (turpentine producing) trees of the North-west Coast, see Original Journals of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, iv, pp. 41-57, 84, 85, with identifications by Charles V. Piper, a naturalist familiar with the region.—Ed.

[239] This project of a canal was undertaken by the United States government in 1878, when it was found that the difficulties were so great that the work had no counterpart. However, after numerous modifications, a canal was built on the south (Oregon) side of the river, with a great steel lock at the upper Cascades. The work was opened for navigation in November, 1896, but was not wholly completed until 1900. Over four million dollars has been spent on this important improvement. See the chief engineer's Report in House Docs., 56 Cong., 1 sess., viii, pp. 584-586.—Ed.

[240] For Dr. John McLoughlin, see our volume xxi, p. 296, note 81.—Ed.

[241] Probably the one now known as Trout Lake. Lewis and Clark speak of the "ponds" encountered in passing over the portage path.—Ed.

[242] The description of this place tallies well with that given by Lewis and Clark; see Original Journals, iii, pp. 178, 179.—Ed.

[243] Cyrus Shepard, who came out (1834) with the first missionary party (see our volume xxi, p. 138, note 13), was a valuable member of the Methodist mission, where he had chief charge of the Indian manual training school. In 1837 his fiancée, Susan Downing, came from the states, and they were married in July of that year. His death occurred at the mission in 1840.

Mrs. Elijah White came to Oregon with her husband, a missionary physician, in May, 1837.—Ed.

[244] Of the many beautiful falls on this part of the river the Horsetail, Multnomah, Bridal Veil, and Latourell are notable; probably the Bridal Veil is the most beautiful, but the Multnomah may be the cascade here noted.—Ed.

[245] For a brief sketch of Fort Vancouver see our volume xxi, p. 297, note 82. Farnham gives a detailed description in our volume xxix.—Ed.

[246] Sir James Douglas was born (1803) in British Guiana. Taken to Scotland when a child, he left in order to enter the Canadian fur-trade, and met Dr. John McLoughlin at Fort William, on Lake Superior. McLoughlin persuaded the youth to accompany him to the Pacific, where (1824) he was in service at Fort St. James under Factor Connelly, whose daughter Douglas married. For some years he was in charge of Fort St. James, being summoned (1828) to Vancouver, where he became second in command. Promoted to be chief trader (1830) and chief factor two years later, he was much employed in visits of inspection and in building new posts. In 1841-42 he went on a diplomatic and trading embassy to California. In 1843 Fort Victoria was built under his direction. Upon Dr. McLoughlin's resignation (1845), Douglas became his successor as head of the Hudson's Bay Company's interests on the Pacific, removing from Fort Vancouver to Victoria in 1849. There he continued to rule until his resignation from the Company (1859), when the British government appointed him governor of the newly-erected province of British Columbia, an office which he held until 1864, being in the preceding year knighted for his services. After release from official duties, Sir James visited Europe, returning to his home in Victoria, where he died August 2, 1877.—Ed.

Transcriber's Notes:

Simple spelling, grammar, and typographical errors were silently corrected.

Anachronistic and non-standard spellings retained as printed.

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Volume 28, by Various


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