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´╗┐Title: The Dismal Swamp and Lake Drummond, Early recollections - Vivid portrayal of Amusing Scenes
Author: Arnold, Robert
Language: English
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by the Library of Congress.)











Entered according to act of Congress in the year 1888, by R. Arnold,
in the office of the Librarian of Congress at Washington.


This little volume is launched upon the sea of public favor. If it
should stem the tide of criticism and reach a haven, my object in the
writing of it will be accomplished. Being partially blind and
physically unable to labor, I have adopted this as a means by which I
might gain an honest assistance, a double object presented itself:

1st. That I might give to its readers some idea of the Dismal Swamp
and Lake Drummond as they were and as they now are.

2d. That I may from the sale of my book receive an amount that will
place me beyond penury. The work will contain some interesting
incidents, and in many instances will give the real names of persons
now living who will be acquainted with the subject of which I write.
Having said this much introductory of my book, I will now proceed with
my task.

When I determined to indite the lines which compose this volume, I
had, as has been stated, a double purpose in view. I thought I could
not employ a portion of my leisure hours more profitably, certainly
not more pleasantly, than by recounting some of the scenes, incidents
and associations which carries my mind back to the days of "Auld Lang
Syne." What more natural, then, than that my thoughts should revert to
the friend of my early manhood--one who, by the uprightness of his
character, geniality of his disposition, the chivalric impulses of his
nature, deserves, as it is my greatest pleasure to accord, the
dedication of this little volume; and I have said all when I mention
the name of my esteemed friend Robert Riddick, Esq., of Suffolk, Va.

    Suffolk, Va., January 1, 1888.      THE AUTHOR.


CHAPTER                                                           PAGE

        THE OWNER.                                                   5

II.   TO GROW UP AGAIN IN A JUNGLE.                                  8

III.  HEALTHFULNESS AT THE SWAMP.                                   10

IV.   ORIGIN OF THE LAKE DISCUSSED.                                 16

V.    THE VISIT OF TOM. MOORE, AS RELATED BY TONY.                  20

VI.   PORTE CRAYON'S VISIT, INCIDENTS, ETC.                         22

VII.  MANY CHANGES HAVE TAKEN PLACE.                                30

VIII. THE FUTURE FOR THE DISMAL SWAMP.                              35

IX.   SUFFOLK AND EARLY DAYS.                                       45

X.    ENTERPRISE AND PROSPERITY.                                    50

        RAILROAD, ETC.                                              52

        VISIT TO SOUTHAMPTON.                                       56




The Dismal Swamp, of which but little is known, is a large body of
dense woods, being situated and laying in Nansemond county, Virginia,
and the county of Gates, in North Carolina. It contains, by survey,
about 100,000 acres. I have been told by H. E. Smith, Esq., our county
treasurer, that 45,000 acres were listed in the county of Nansemond.
It is thickly set with juniper, cypress and other timber, which makes
it very valuable. It came into the possession of General George
Washington, and after the Revolutionary War a company known as the
Dismal Swamp Land Company was formed, and arrangements made to
manufacture the timber; hands were put in the Swamp and it was
regularly opened. A large quantity of timber was manufactured, and
Washington found it necessary to find some outlet for it, which could
only be done by a canal or ditch. A suitable place was soon found, and
Washington commenced in person to survey the route known as the
Washington Ditch. He commenced at the northwest of the Lake, on lands
known as "Soldiers' Hope," belonging to the estate of Col. Josiah
Riddick, deceased, and running west to what is called the "Reese
Farm," on the Edenton road, about seven miles from Suffolk. A large
quantity of juniper timber was brought through this ditch, which was
hauled to the Nansemond river for shipment. We were told by one of the
agents of the company, W. S. Riddick, Esq., that at one time all the
business of the company was transacted at the "Reese Farm," that being
the point at which the Ditch ended. This mode of getting the lumber to
market was found too slow and tedious, and a more direct way sought.
How long the Washington Ditch was used for bringing out the timber, we
have never heard. That will make no difference, for after the Jericho
Canal was cut the Ditch was abandoned, and a direct communication
opened to Nansemond river by the way of Shingle creek. Millions of
feet of timber was shipped annually. The shareholders at that time
were few in number, and their profits were very large. The company
consisted of a president, agent and inspector, he living at or near
Suffolk, and had charge of the work in the Swamp. He employed the
hands, furnished all the supplies, sold the lumber, received all
monies, and paid all bills. He was, in fact, the principal officer of
the company. At a stated period, annually, a meeting would be held for
a general settlement of the year's accounts. The president would
preside, and as there were no banks at that time in which to deposit
money, the agent would have a very large amount to turn over to the
stockholders. That place is no longer of much value to its owners, as
it is a source of but little revenue. The shares have been divided
and sub-divided, until some of its holders get barely enough to pay
the postage on a letter. Ex-Senator Wm. Mahone is probably the largest
shareholder. The Swamp has been leased to Jno. L. Roper, Esq., of
Norfolk, for several years, during which he has had employed a large
number of hands, consequently most of the valuable timber has been cut
off. When this Swamp was first opened, it became a harbor and safe
refuge for runaway slaves, and when one reached that dense place,
unless he was betrayed, it would be a matter of impossibility to catch
him. Long before the war you could not take up a newspaper published
in this part of the State but what you would see several cuts of a
negro absconding with a stick on his shoulder and a pack on one end of
it, with the following advertisement:

     "Notice! $500 Reward! Ran away from the subscriber, on the
     night of June 18th, my negro man, Simon. He had on, when
     last seen, a pair of light pants, with a black patch on the
     seat of the same. He is slue-footed, knock-kneed, and bends
     over a little when walking. He may be making his way to the
     Dismal Swamp. I will pay the above reward for his
     apprehension, or his lodgment in some jail, so that I can
     get him again.

                                     "JOE JONES."

I knew of an instance just before the late war where a gentleman by
the name of Augustus Holly, Bertie county, N. C., had a slave to run
away, who was known to be a desperate character. He knew that he had
gone to the Dismal Swamp, and to get him, his master offered a reward
of $1,000 for his apprehension, dead or alive. The person who caught
him is still living. I saw the negro when he was brought to Suffolk
and lodged in jail. He had been shot at several times, but was little
hurt. He had on a coat that was impervious to shot, it being thickly
wadded with turkey feathers. Small shot were the only kind used to
shoot runaway slaves, and it was very seldom the case that any ever
penetrated far enough to injure. I know three persons now living who
were runaway slave catchers, but the late war stripped them of their
occupation. They were courageous and men of nerve.



But little work is now done in the Dismal Swamp, and it will again
soon become a howling wilderness, a hiding place for the bears,
wild-cats, snakes and everything hideous. The bamboo and rattan will
rule supreme, and, like the banyan tree, will form an impenetrable
jungle. But a few years will be required for its accomplishment, and
without an axe you could not move a foot.

G. P. R. James, the British Consul, who was stationed at Norfolk when
he wrote his novel entitled "The Old Dominion," and which was a
history of "Nat Turner's War," (as it is called) in Southampton
county, states that a young mother, with her infant, fled to the
Dismal Swamp for safety. Mr. James must have drawn heavily on his
imagination for a figure, to make the situation more horrible. I do
not think any mother with an infant would flee to such a wild and
desolate place as the Dismal Swamp, but, on the contrary, would keep
far away.

I could relate many interesting stories that I have heard about the
Swamp, but as I am writing from my own observation, will discard all
such from my task. It is true that some very mysterious things have
been seen at various times. I will, digressing a little from my story,
relate one circumstance that was told me by a gentlemen who lived in
Suffolk and was stopping at Lake Drummond Hotel, situated near the
lake shore, and which was visited at that time by many persons from
New York and other places. This gentleman remarked to me that he was
standing near the Lake one morning, and happening to look across the
Lake, to his great astonishment, saw come out of the woods, at a point
so thick with reeds, bamboo and rattan, that you could not get three
feet from the shore, a beautiful, finely-dressed lady; she walked out
on a log about twenty feet into the Lake, with a fishing pole in her
hand. I saw her bait her hook and throw it out into the Lake. He said
he could also tell the color of the ribbon on her bonnet. He watched
the same place every day for several days, and at the same hour each
day the lady appeared as before. I told my friend that he must have
been laboring under an optical delusion at the time, as the Lake was
five miles wide at that place, and that it was impossible for one to
distinguish objects at so great a distance with the naked eye. He
replied that every part of the story was true.

On another occasion, a gentleman, now living in Suffolk, told me that
he was out hunting in the Swamp, and chancing to look to the front saw
snakes coming from every direction, and quite near him he saw a lump
of them that looked to be as large as a barrel. He supposed that there
must have been as many as five hundred, all so interwoven that they
looked like a ball of snakes. He said he was too close on them to
shoot, so stepping back, he fired both barrels of his gun at the
bunch. An untangling at once commenced, and he said, "consarned if he
ever saw so many snakes before." Upon going to the place where he had
shot, he found 150 snakes dead, and as many more wounded. He carried
some of the largest of the dead out, procured a ten-foot rod, and on
measuring found one that measured twenty-three feet. I have related
this snake story several times, but was always very particular to know
that the gentleman who told me was at some other place.



Although the Dismal Swamp is so uninviting, it is one of the
healthiest places in the United States. Death from disease has never
been known in that place, and it is impossible to tell what age one
would attain if they would take up their abode in it. I have been told
that instances were known where persons were found who were so old
that they had moss growing on their backs, and who could give no idea
of their age. I once knew a family by the name of Draper, who lived in
the Swamp near the edge of the Lake. What became of them I do not
know; the spot where the house stood now forms a part of the Lake. The
constant washing of the western shore causes rapid encroachments, and
it is only a question of time when it will reach the high lands. It is
in the Dismal Swamp that Lake Drummond was discovered, by whom I do
not know, but is said to have been found by a man named Drummond,
whose name it bears; that will make no difference with me, the
question is, how came it there? Was it a freak of nature, or was it
caused by warring of the elements, is a question for the consideration
of those who visit it? That it was the effect of fire caused by
lightning setting fire to the turf, or some dead tree, there can be no
doubt. At what time in the Christian era this eventful period was, it
is not, nor never will be, known. Suffice it to say, that it was found
and is the wonder and admiration of all that have ever visited it. It
is a broad sheet of water, covering an area of five by seven miles,
and is surrounded by a dense growth of woods, so thick that you cannot
see the Lake until you are within a few feet of it. Many visitors have
visited it, all of whom were struck with astonishment at the sight.
It is ten miles southeast of Suffolk. I will now relate some of the
adventures of my first trip. It was on a bright morning, early in the
month of May, 1832, that my father and I started for "Lake Drummond,"
or the Lake of the "Dismal Swamp," as some call it; and as all
preparations had been made the night before, there was nothing to
prevent us from making an early start. The idea of my going to the
Lake had driven sleep from my eyes, and I was ready to start at any
time; but it was not until the grey dawn of day that my father began
to stir. He was soon ready, and providing himself with fishing poles,
bait, lunch, and such other articles as were necessary for a two or
three days' fishing excursion, then taking our leave of my mother and
the other members of the family, we were off. The Portsmouth and
Roanoke railroad (now the Seaboard and Roanoke railroad) was at that
time graded as far as Suffolk. We followed the line of it as far as a
place known as Peter Jones, where we left it and passed through "Bull
Field," to the company's mill, which is but a short distance from the
basin of the Canal, at which place we were to take a skiff for the
Lake. On arriving at the basin we found Mr. James Woodward,
grandfather of Hersey Woodward, Esq., of Suffolk, Va. He was inspector
of lumber for the "Dismal Swamp Land Company," and was on his way to
the Lake. The drivers of the skiff, Tony Nelson and Jim Brown, were
ready, and it being now about sunrise, Mr. Woodward and my father soon
got their traps aboard, then lifting me in, all was ready. The
drivers adjusted their poles and away we went, all being a novelty to
me, who had never before been in a boat on water. Everything appeared
very strange, being but a very small boy as I was. Nothing happened to
impede our progress, and in about five hours from the time of starting
we arrived at the Lake. Then it was that our young soul began to
thrill with joy, for we were at the Lake and would soon launch on its
broad bosom. The gates of the Lock were opened and the skiff shoved
in, then the first gate being closed behind us another gate opened.
The water rushed in and soon our boat was on a level with the Lake.
The drivers then took up the oars and were ready to cross to Jack's
Landing, which was on the opposite side of the Lake. It being very
rough at the time, some fears were expressed, but Mr. Woodward, who
was well acquainted with the situation, said that he did not apprehend
any danger, and the skiff was put in motion. As I said before, it was
very rough, and when we had gotten about half-way across, it became
more so: the waves began to break over the skiff and all thought that
it would fill. Fortunately, two large wooden shovels or scoops were
found in the skiff, and with them Mr. Woodward and my father kept her
free, "Tony" and "Jim," in the meantime, plying their oars manfully.
We soon arrived at "Jack's Landing," and disembarking proceeded to
Jack's camp, which was but a short distance away, and known to every
person who had ever visited the Lake. On our arrival the pious Mr.
Woodward offered up to the Great Ruler of wind and water a prayer for
our safe deliverance from a watery grave. As we had not partaken of
any nourishment since early morning, it was proposed that we should
eat something, which was readily agreed to, and in a short time we had
gotten through that part of our work, whereupon my father said he
would try his luck fishing. So taking a small boat, which he found at
"Jack's Landing," placing me in it and then getting in himself, he
started for some good place to commence. He fished awhile at the
"Forked Gum" without any success; moved to the "Stooping Pine" with a
like result. He began to think that it was the wrong moon, and leaving
that place he paddled for the "Three Cypresses," where he caught some
very fine fish. It was now getting late in the afternoon, and as he
expected to make an early start the next morning, he thought it best
to return to the camp, heading his boat in that direction he soon
reached the landing: having but a short distance to walk, we were not
long in reaching it. Mr. Woodward had gone out to inspect some lumber
and it was getting time for his return. We did not have long to wait.
He soon came in, and looking at my father's "Fish Gourd," remarked:
"Neddie, you have had fine sport; where did you catch so many such
large Frenchmen?" "Friend Jimmy," my father replied, "when I started
my first experiment was at the 'Forked Gum,' and I did not get a
nibble. I left it and stopped at the 'Stooping Pine' with the same
success. I began to think that I was fishing on the wrong moon." "Oh!
Neddie," rejoined Mr. Woodward, "there is nothing in the phases of
the moon. You are not a good fisherman. I can take you to the 'Forked
Gum' and 'Stooping Pine' and astonish you." "After leaving the
'Stooping Pine,'" continued my father, "I made for the 'Three
Cypresses,' and it was there that I caught these fine perch."
"Neddie," said Mr. Woodward, "you are not such a bad fisherman after
all. Your success would do credit to the best." My father proposed to
Mr. W. that we should have some of the fish cleaned and cooked for
supper. The necessary order being given, in a short time a sufficient
number were ready for the pan. A hot fire was made of juniper logs,
and frying of fish commenced. In a short time we were told to get our
shingles ready, that being the only kind of plate used in the "Dismal
Swamp." And it is a well known fact that fish eat sweeter off a
shingle than any plate on which it can be placed. The fish were very
fine and greatly enjoyed by all.

Supper being disposed of, a general conversation was indulged in about
the Lake and Swamp, but no one present could tell anything
satisfactory about the origin of the Lake. One idea was announced and
then another, throwing but little light upon the subject. "Tony" and
"Jim," the drivers of the skiff, were sitting near the embers nodding,
when Mr. Woodward, to have a little fun, said: "Tony, what is your
opinion of the origin of the Lake?"



Old Uncle "Tony" made a rake in the embers with his pipe and said:
"Yas, sar; my 'pinion 'bout dat place, boss, am dat it was dug out."
Here Uncle Jim broke in. "What de matter wid you, Tony? How many
niggers do you 'spose 'twould take tu dig a hole big nuff tu hole all
dat water?" "Dats a fac, Jim," cried Uncle Tony, "I forgot 'bout de

"Well, Jim," queried Mr. Woodward, "how do you account for it?" "Marse
James," Uncle Jim sagely replied, "it 'pears to me dat somebody got
under de groun' and dig de dirt out and de water mashed it down."

"Jim," exclaimed Tony, "you am de biggist fool dat I ebber seed. How's
anybody gwine tu git under de groun' to dig. Whar's dey gwine tu put
de dirt, and whar is de water to cum fum to mash it down?" Yah, yah,
yah. "Go 'way nigger, I 'spec you bin mole huntin'." "Dat am fac',
Tony, I didn't tink 'bout dat," said Uncle Jim, with an apologetic and
crestfallen air. Here Tony gave his pipe another rake in the embers,
took a few puffs, and fell off his log fast asleep.

It was now getting late, and preparations were being made to put me to
bed, which was done by placing some hay on the floor of the camp and
spreading some bed clothing which we had brought along. The bed was
soon ready, and I was snugly placed upon it, although I could not go
to sleep, knowing that we were to go out early in the morning to see
the sun rise on the Lake. I was called at the first dawn of day and
told to get up: we soon had eaten our breakfast and everything made
ready to leave for the Lake. We soon reached the landing, finding our
boat ready. My father placed me in and getting in himself took up his
paddle and shoved off for a position in the Lake where we might see
the great Orb of Day bathe his face in the cloudy water of "Lake
Drummond." We did not have to wait long. By the glow of light that
began to show just under the eastern horizon, we were satisfied that
our anticipations would soon be realized.

The morning was misty, just enough so as to hide the dense woods which
stood on the eastern shore of the Lake, and at the same time served as
a back ground to the grand display of nature, and make it appear as if
the sun actually came up out of the water as it were. The mist in
front was dispelled, and the rays of sun playing on the rippling water
would cause you to think that it was one vast cluster of diamonds. The
sight was grand beyond my power to describe it, and I never expect to
behold such a scene again. Everything was lovely on that May
morning--the balmy breeze, the air filled with perfume of the wild
flowers, which grew around the Lake: birds carrolled forth sweet music
as they flitted from limb to limb; squirrels could be seen and heard
chattering among the trees. The shore of the Lake was spread with a
velvety green, and you would think that nature had done her best to
make that morning lovely. Meditating on the beauty and grandeur that
surrounded us on the broad bosom of the Lake, suddenly we were
awakened from our reverie by the hoarse growl and lapping of the
bears, and horrid cries of the wild cats, which would cause the blood
to curdle in the veins. Thus with the sweet some sour always will be
found. Occasionally, at the Lake, a noble stag will emerge from the
trees, showing a stately head of horns, approach to the water and
survey the prospect, then plunge in the Lake to swim to the other
shore. He settles very low, and if you did not know you would take it
for a floating bush. They are frequently caught when attempting to
cross the Lake. Having reached a good place for fishing, my father
stopped at the place known as the "Apple Trees," where he caught some
very pretty fish. His bait getting scarce, he moved around the Lake to
"Draper's Landing." Running the bow of the canoe upon the wharf log,
which was nearly on a level with the water, left her, without tying,
to look for some angle worms. It being rough on the Lake at the time,
the rolling of the waves caused the boat to work off, and before he
could return she had drifted well out on the broad waters of the Lake.
We were too small to realize our situation. Not knowing how to paddle,
we were left to the mercy of the waves. On the return of my father,
seeing the great peril I was in, required but a single thought for him
to know what to do. Being a good swimmer he boldly plunged into the
water, reached the boat and swimming towed it to the shore. Had he not
returned in time, our fate could not have been told. We would have
been capsized in the Lake and drowned, or have drifted ashore to be
devoured by bears and other wild animals, or stung to death by the
venomous reptiles that hung in clusters on trees around the shores of
the Lake. This accident put an end to fishing for that day. My father
was wet, and not having a change of clothing with him, proceeded to
the camp, so that he could dry. We soon arrived at Jack's Landing, and
on reaching the camp found Mr. Woodward, who remarked: "What is the
matter, Neddie? Did a big fish pull you overboard?" He saw that my
father was wet, and ordered a fire to be made, so that he could dry
his clothes. A hot fire was soon made of juniper logs, and he was not
long in drying.

Feeling no inconvenience from his ablution, and drinking a cup of hot
coffee, he related the circumstances as detailed above. "Well,
Neddie;" said Mr. W., "you should at once return thanks to the Giver
of all Good for this miraculous escape." The pious Mr. Woodward joined
with him. It was now nearly dark, and preparations were made to have
supper. When at the Lake it is expected that you will catch fish
enough upon which to subsist, and my father being a good hand at
angling, always had a good supply, and no one on the trip wanted for
fish. The supper, which consisted of fish, bread and hot coffee, was
soon ready. About this time Tony and Jim, who had been loading their
skiff at the landing, returned to the camp, and taking their seats at
the ends of some juniper logs, were soon fast asleep. We ate our
supper and were then ready for any kind of story that was told.



As Uncle Tony was, perhaps, the oldest person, and knew more about the
Lake than any person then engaged at it, he was awakened, and Mr.
Woodward said: "Uncle Tony, I want you to tell us about the man whom
you said you brought to the Lake in 1821." "Who tole you 'bout dat
boss?" inquired Uncle Tony, with an air of conscious pride. "It will
make no difference, go on and tell us," returned Mr. Woodward. Tony
scratched his head, then putting some tobacco in his pipe, took out
his flint and steel (matches not being known in the swamp at that
day,) and soon had fire enough to light his pipe. Drawing on it enough
to get his "nigger head" tobacco to burn, and fixing himself on the
end of his log, he commenced: "Boss, I shall nebber forgit dat time.
One mornin' as I war gittin' my skiff ready to go to de Lake, a mity
nice lookin' man cum up to me an' said: 'Buck, ar' you de man dat will
carry me to de Lake ob de Dismal Swamp, for which I will pay you one
pound?' De gemman talked so putty, dat I tole him to git in my skiff,
an' I wud carry him to de Lake. I notice' dat he kep' writin' all de
way. When I got to de horse camps I stopped to get somfin to eat. He
cum outen de skiff an' ax me what I stop for. I tole him I stop to eat
some meat an' bread. He ax me if I wud hav' a drink. I tuk off my hat
an' tole him dat I wud be much obleged to him for it. He foched a
silber jug, wid a silber cup for a stopper, and said: 'My man, dis is
Irish whiskey. I brung it all de way from home.' He tole me dat his
name was Thomas Moore, an' dat he cum fom 'way ober yonder--I dun
forgot de name of de place--an' was gwine to de Lake to write 'bout a
spirit dat is seed dar paddlin' a kunnue. De har 'gin tu rise on my
hed an' I ax him ef dat was a fac'. He sed dat he was told so in
Norfolk. It was gin out dar dat a mity putty gal had loss her
sweethart, an' had dun gone crazy, an' had gone to de Lake ob de
Dismal Swamp an' drown herself, an' dat she ken be seen ebery night by
de lite ob some sort ob fli." "I tell you, boss," continued the old
man, "when he tole me 'bout dat gal paddlin' dat bote on de Lake at
nite, I diden' want to go any furder wid him, but he tole me dar wud
be no danger. I cud not see hur, so I carrid him on to de Lake. He rit
like de gal had run away an' had been drowned rite here. I shal nebber
forget dat gentman. I fotch him back an' he gin me de poun', which war
five dollars, an' he lef' for Norfolk, bein' mitey glad dat I had
carrid him to de Lake."

"Tony, did he tell you anything about his trip?" inquired Mr.

"Yas, sar," replied the old man. "He tole me dat he had trabbled an'
seen sites, but dat he nebber was so 'stonish befo'; he did not spec'
to see at de end ob de kunel such a putty place; an' dat I wud hear
som time what he was gwine tu say 'bout it." "That was Tom Moore, the
Irish poet," said Mr. W. "De who?" interrupted Tony. "He came to this
country," continued Mr. W. "to visit the Lake, as being one of the
wonders of nature, and you were fortunate in having to wait on such a
distinguished person."

Tom Moore, after he had arrived in this country, no doubt heard of the
Lake of the Dismal Swamp, and when he reached Norfolk, Va., and the
story of the fair maiden and her lover being fresh, might have induced
him to visit it, and it was on that occasion that he penned the
following lines:

    "They made her a grave that was too cold and damp,
     For a soul so warm and true."

His poem on the "Lake of the Dismal Swamp," no doubt, is familiar with
every person of ordinary information, and can be found in every
library, and should be read by every person who has never done so.



At a much later date the Lake was visited by Porte Crayon, who was at
that time writing for Harper's Monthly. The account given of his
trip, with his illustrations, are very life-like and interesting, and
in the February or March number of that valuable book, for the year
1857, you will be greatly amused at the description there given. Two
darkies, Eli Chalk and Jim Pearce, were the drivers of the pleasure
boat furnished by W. S. Riddick, Esq., the then agent of the Dismal
Swamp Land Company, in which he was carried to the Lake. He was there
some two or three days, and his writings should be read to be
appreciated. It was at the Lake that we saw Uncle "Alek," of whom a
fac-simile likeness is given in the book above referred to. Uncle
"Alek" was a superanuated old colored man, belonging to the Reverend
Jacob Keeling, Rector of the Episcopal Churches in Nansemond county,
Virginia. He was quite old, and retained his memory to a remarkable
degree. He was called the "Bee Hunter" of the Dismal Swamp, and, if I
am not mistaken, had a bag of bees in his hand when Porte first met
him. He would follow bees for a long distance, cutting his way through
the reeds for miles in a straight line, until he came to the tree in
which was the hollow. Then he would take out the bees, put them into a
bag and bring them out. In going to the Lake you could see numberless
paths cut by Uncle Alek for that purpose. The opening through the
reeds would look to be about two feet wide and ten feet high, which
was almost the length of the reeds. Uncle Alek worked in the swamp
nearly all his life, was a faithful hand, and in his old age the
company gave him a house and a piece of land, as a home during his
natural life. A mule was also given to him by the company, which mule
I had the honor of riding at a tournament at Suffolk, Va., in 1860.
How old he was no one could tell at that time. No account is given of
any mules being in the Ark at the time that she settled on dry land,
and where that mule came from will never be known. It is very certain
that he appeared on this mundane sphere at some period after the
flood. If he is dead I have heard nothing of it. He may be wandering
about the Dismal Swamp. Old Uncle Alek and his mule were great
curiosities, and whenever he came to town on his mule they attracted a
great deal of attention. He was an exhorter in the Methodist Churches
for colored people, and always had in his pocket a Testament or hymn
book. He was perfectly conversant with the Bible, and could refer
readily to any passage of Scripture that you might mention. He was
born in 1783, and died a few years ago, having attained the age of one
hundred years, his mind being as vivid and active as at any time. We
shall never forget Uncle Alek and his mule. They were things of our
earliest recollection, and, like many of the landmarks at the "Lake of
the Dismal Swamp," have been washed away. I have been to it frequently
since my first visit, and would notice the changes made by the rude
hand of time.

I have examined several writers that have written about "Uncle Alek's
Mule," and am satisfied that it was the same one that "Nat Turner"
rode when on his raid of murder in Southampton county, Va., in 1831.
Looking over the diary of Colonel Godfrey for thirty years, we notice
that he said "Nat Turner," when he appeared in the avenue of Dr.
Blount, on that fatal night, he rode at the head of the column,
mounted on a sorrel mule, with flax mane and tail. But the question
arises, how that mule got into the Dismal Swamp, and how he came in
possession of the Dismal Swamp Land Company. Col. Godfrey states that
there were several guns in the house of Dr. Blount, and several
visitors there at the time; that the young Blount loaded the guns, and
that a strong fire was kept up on the advancing column. Nat Turner was
thrown from his mule, then they became panic-stricken, and were
dispersed. For the bravery displayed by young Blount on that occasion,
he received a midshipman's warrant in the United States Navy. I will
now quote from G. P. R. James' book, called the "Old Dominion," in
which he states that a "young mother with her infant fled to the
Dismal Swamp for safety." It was several miles away, and it may be
that she drove that same mule, and the probability is that she left
the mule in the Swamp, and that he wandered about until he found
Jack's Camp, where he was secured and became the property of the
Dismal Swamp Land Company. How long the company worked him before he
became the property of Uncle Alek, I do not know, but am satisfied
that it was several years, and that his wind was injured by
overloading. I have the testimony of a gentleman well-known in
Suffolk, now living, who stated that he saw a cymling vine at jack's
Camp which was of spontaneous growth, and which covered more juniper
trees than he could count, and from that vine there was gathered two
hundred and fifty cart loads of cymlings. It may be that the hauling
away of these cymlings so injured the mule that he was no longer of
service to the company. There is no doubt he was turned over to Uncle
Alek, which must have been during the year 1832. I was in the Swamp
during that year and saw the cymling vine above alluded to, and no one
could tell how it came to grow there. It will be impossible for me to
tell how old Uncle Alek's mule was or what became of him. I have never
heard that he died or was killed. He was no doubt the most remarkable
mule that ever lived. The last that I heard from him was related by
Uncle Alek himself, and which was no doubt true. I will relate as near
as I can what the old man told me. He came to Suffolk one day and I
noticed that he was very much excited. I said to him: "Uncle Alek,
what has happened to you?" He answered: "Marse Robert I neber was in
sich a fix befo' in all my life. I hav' fit bars, rattlesnakes, wild
cats and bees, but I tell you sumfin' has happened to me to-day dat
neber bin known to befall any one." "What was that Uncle Alek?" I
inquired. "I'm terribly upsot, and I dunno what to do. I shall hab to
mov' 'way frum my place; a whirlwind struc' my well dis mornin' an'
has twisted it so dat I can't git de bucket down in de well, an' I
can't git no water, an' what is wuss den all, my mule has bin
translated. He wus a good mule, and his loss ruins me." I saw Uncle
Alek some time after that, when he told me that he was out in the
Swamp hunting bees, when lo and behold! he heard his mule bray. He
cast his eyes up and saw him lodged in the forks of a large tree.
There was no way by which he could get him down, and left him as he
thought to die. But his surprise can be imagined when he heard
nuzzling at the door one morning, when, upon opening, what should he
see but his mule. How he came down he could not tell, but said he
should always believe that his mule could climb a tree. I said it must
have been a Providential interference, and that the same Power which
landed him in the tree was able to lift him out. "Dat is so," said the
old man, "an' I will nebber agin' complain at de ways ob an
Over-Rulin' Providence." I often think of Col. Godfrey and his remark,
when he said that what best conduces to the happiness of mankind is
right. Uncle Alek, knowing that his mule was at home with his head
well in the crib, and he in the Swamp fighting bears and bees, was
perfectly happy. Uncle Alek and his mule are both now dead, and I
shall always have a lively recollection of them. I often think of
them, and that I rode Uncle Alek's mule as Knight of the Dismal Swamp
at a tournament, won the first honor, and was ruled out on account of
my mule not making time, much to the mortification of Uncle Alek. As
Uncle Alek and his mule will appear again, I will leave them for the
present and relate an interesting conversation with Mr. Richard
Hosier, who now lives in Suffolk, and who is as well acquainted with
the Dismal Swamp as any one now living. He is perfectly familiar with
every part of it, and is, no doubt, correct in many of his statements.
He informed me that long before the Lake was discovered by Drummond,
two gentlemen from Elizabeth City, N. C., left for the Dismal Swamp on
a hunting expedition, and having lost their way, wandered about until
they came to what they discovered to be a large body of water. From it
they traveled a due west course and came out at a farm on the Desert
road, known as Mossy Swamp, and one of the men was taken sick and
died; the other one returned to Elizabeth City. Mr. Hosier did not
state when this was, but said it was long before Drummond made known
that he had discovered a lake in the Dismal Swamp. It will be
remembered that Mr. Hosier was arrested in Norfolk in 1863 by order of
the Federal general then commanding that department, and was being
carried toward the Indian Pole Bridge to be put to work on the
defences of Norfolk. He was not disposed to do work in that way, and
when well out from Norfolk he eluded the guard that had him, and
directed his steps toward the Southern Branch of the Elizabeth river.
On his arrival, seeing boats passing up and down, he secreted himself
until the darkness of night had fallen, then making a bundle of his
clothes and placing it on his head, he entered the river and swam to
the other shore. He then pursued his way to the Deep Creek Canal,
which he forded. Arriving at the "Feeder," he was not far from the
Lake, and was at a place with which he was well acquainted, and out
of the reach of all danger of being recaptured. Resting himself a
while, he then started for the Lake, and it was at that place he
performed his great feat. He could not procure a boat, and the
prospect before him was gloomy indeed. If he remained there he would,
in all probability, have been devoured by bears and other wild animals
in the Swamp, or perhaps, starve. Not being in the least daunted, he
prepared himself to reach the western shore, which could only be done
by swimming. It was seven miles across, but he nerved himself to the
accomplishment of his object. He prepared himself as before by making
a bundle of his clothes, which he placed on the top of his head, and
was then ready to swim across or perish in the attempt. When he was
about half-way across he was attacked by a large serpent, and had it
not been for a school of gars that was following him, he would no
doubt have been devoured. He reached the shore only to meet a more
formidable enemy. It was a large black bear. In his scuffle with the
serpent he had lost his bundle of clothes and had nothing but a large
knife, which was buckled around his waist. Drawing his knife, he
rushed forward and was met by the bear, when a regular hand-to-hand
fight was commenced. He did not wrestle long before he found an
opportunity to use his knife, and plunging it up to the hilt, he soon
had the bear lying prostrate at his feet. Having lost all his clothes,
it became necessary that he should do something in his nude state. The
bear's skin was the only thing that he could get, so with his knife
he skinned him, and getting inside the skin, he started to find some
settlement. But his condition was as bad as before. The idea of his
being able to get near enough to any person to tell of his condition
was absurd. The very sight of him would scare every man, woman and
child off the plantation. He could not get a living soul to come to
him, and it was not until he had reached his own home, some few miles
from Suffolk, that he could present himself as Mr. Hosier. I could
write many very interesting incidents connected with the life of Mr.
Hosier, which, in many instances, are thrilling. But as we are writing
our own recollections, I shall only notice in a few cases what I have
been told by others.



It is pleasant to me that I can take a retrospective view of the past
and note the many changes that have taken place within my
recollection. Many sad changes have taken place within the past fifty
years. Dynasties have arisen, lived and have had their day; they have
fallen, and are known as things that were. But four of the companions
of my school-boy days are living, and it is only now and then that we
meet with one. The Rev. R. H. Jones, of Norfolk, is the only one that
we have seen or known away from Suffolk. The honored landmarks of the
town are few, and soon must be less. Benjamin Riddick, the present
mayor of the town, is perhaps the oldest citizen in it. Judge P. B.
Prentice, the polished gentleman--his manly form can be seen on our
streets, as he, with intrepid steps, passes along; he is the oldest
native citizen and possesses a mind as active and vigorous as when
young. John Hoffman, Esq., is another of the landmarks of the town. He
has lived nearly his four-score years. Whitmill Jones, Esq., is
another of our old friends. His steps are feeble and trembling. The
last of the old pioneers of Suffolk whom we shall notice is James B.
Norfleet, Esq. He is perhaps more generally known than any man who has
ever lived in the place. He conducted for many years a very extensive
mercantile and lumber business, but fell a victim to his generous
impulses. The cypress that was known as the "apple tree," which stood
in the Lake a short distance to the left of the "Lock," has been blown
down or washed up with its roots, and in a short time nothing will be
seen of it. The house which stood not very far from the western shore
of the Lake and occupied by a family known as Draper, has been washed
away and nothing left to show that a human habitation ever had any
existence there. Before the late war a pleasure boat was kept by the
company for the accommodation of parties that wished to visit the
Lake, and it was customary for several parties to go in early Spring,
commencing about the first of May, that being the most pleasant time
and nature about to put on her coat of green. But few parties now
venture in, owing to the inconvenience that attend, and when they do
go they have to get in the best way they can. The pleasure boat and
other boats in the canal were cut up by order of General Peck,
commanding the United States forces at Suffolk, Va., and carried to
the Black water river to be used as pontoons across that stream. But I
doubt if they were ever used for that purpose. After the surrender so
great was the demand for boats by strangers that wished to visit the
Lake of the Dismal Swamp that Capt. Busby, an energetic citizen of
Nansemond county, Virginia, had erected near the Lake a hotel known as
the Lake Drummond Hotel, and to invite visitors he had built a
beautiful gondola, which was run daily to the Lake during the season.
That old trojan, Capt. Jack Robinson, being in charge of the hotel,
caused it to be well filled. It was very frequently the case that
parties would come from Norfolk to go on from Suffolk, they having
heard that the gondola left her wharf every day for the Lake. I
recollect a party of three young gentlemen that came from Norfolk who
wished to visit Lake Drummond. They stopped at the Exchange Hotel and
made known the fact. The polite manager, Eddie S. Riddick, Esq., soon
saw Capt. Busby, and his gondola was chartered to carry the party to
the Lake. Mr. Riddick made every preparation necessary for them, but
one of the parties heard that an alligator was on exhibition near the
hotel, and thinking that it was brought from the Lake, at once
provided himself with a rifle and a large quantity of fixed
ammunition. All were then ready and they left for the canal, where
they would take the gondola. She was then at her wharf, and everything
being placed in, Capt. Busby took his stand at the wheel and gave
orders to the first mate to have the gondola cast loose, which was at
once obeyed, and, like a swan, she was gliding on in the canal at the
fearful rate of about two miles an hour. To prevent any confusion if
attacked, one of the most daring young men of the party, being one of
the three from Norfolk, Va., placed himself in the bow of the gondola
with rifle in hand and a box of ammunition conveniently nigh, awaiting
an attack from any quarter. When passing what is known as "Paradise
Old Field," one of the party cried alligator! The young man at the bow
at once opened fire, and it was not until he had shot away a whole box
of ammunition that he discovered the supposed alligator to be nothing
more dangerous than a floating log. Quiet having been restored the
captain struck two bells, and the gondola was on her way again, but
unfortunately had not proceeded many miles when a snake fell in off an
overhanging limb of a tree, and so near one of the young men that it
caused him to jump over into the canal. The mate ordered one of the
deck hands to throw the snake out, whilst others were fishing out the
young man who had jumped overboard. Captain Busby, fearing that some
other accident might happen before reaching the hotel, thought it best
that passengers should occupy their state-rooms until a landing was
made at the hotel. He said with so much confusion it would be
impossible for him to land his gondola safely. Captain Jack, of the
hotel, was watching the movements of Captain Busby, and complimented
him for his dexterity. He walked down from the hotel and escorted the
guests up who had just arrived. The hotel is of the Irish style of
architecture, with parlor, kitchen, dining and bedroom all in the same
room, the whole being heated by a hot air furnace. I have not been to
the Lake for some time, but hear that great improvements have been
made, and it is the object of the proprietor of the hotel to turn the
attention of Northern visitors to Florida every Winter in that
direction, believing that it is the healthiest place in the United
States. It is very accessible--the Norfolk and Western railroad
passing through its northern boundary, and the Suffolk and Carolina
Short Line or Grand Trunk railroad on its western, which by running a
railroad from Skinnerville, on the Grand Trunk, would bring the Lake
Hotel within a few minutes' ride from Suffolk, and with little or no
inconvenience to invalids coming from the rigid climate of the North.
I am told that all snakes remain in a torpid state during the winter,
and no danger might be expected from them, and as the floors of the
hotel would be kept tight no vermin could crawl through. There can be
no doubt that the Lake of the Dismal Swamp must become the great
centre of health-seekers, and that at an early day. Its location and
advantages, the known healthliness of the place, to say nothing of its
beauty and former renown, is sufficient to attract the attention of
persons that seek the Sunny South from the cold and rigorous climate
of the extreme Northern States of the Union. It is true that some
writers pronounce the warm and genial climate of the Sunny South to be
a fraud, practiced to allure the unsuspecting. That cannot be so. It
is universally known that the Dismal Swamp is the healthiest place in
the known world. Where can you find a location in which a death has
not occurred in a hundred years? It cannot be named.



The Dismal Swamp in Virginia is the only place where a death from
disease has never occurred. Railroads, like hog paths, are being run
in every direction, and the time is not far distant when a railroad
will be run direct to the beautiful Lake of the Dismal Swamp, and
Northern invalids will flock to its beautiful shores, there to bathe
in its juniper water and be healed from all diseases. True, at this
time it is in a rude and wild condition, but with the Suffolk and
Carolina Grand Trunk Railroad stretching across its western front,
civilization must tend toward it, and when a communication direct is
opened a city, Cincinnatus like, will spring along its shores, and its
inhabitants can, by the light of the glow worm of fire fly, watch the
paddling of the white canoe, so beautifully described by Moore in his
poem. Another very interesting place near the Swamp is a farm which at
one time belonged to General Washington. It is at the extreme south,
and is now owned by Mrs. John Trotman, and she has in her possession
the original title deeds of every person who has owned the place at
various times, from Washington down to the last purchaser, who was
Burrell Brothers, Esq., of Gates county, N. C., and an uncle of the
above-named lady. At his death it fell to his widow, who gave it to
Mrs. John Trotman, its present owner. I have visited the place several
times, and the cellars can now be seen where stood the first house. It
is very certain that it was settled many years ago, from the fact that
I saw a tombstone of a doctor from Waterbury, Connecticut, who died
there in 1800. This stone has been seen by many persons. There is
another place of some note that adjoins the Washington farm, it is
known as Hamburgs. At this place a ditch or canal was dug, running
east to the northwest Lock of the Dismal Swamp Canal, through which a
vast quantity of grain and other produce raised by the farmers of
Gates county, was shipped to Norfolk. An extensive mercantile business
was carried on at Hamburg by Col. T. W. Smith, so well known, who
afterwards removed to and now resides in Suffolk, Va. It was at
Hamburg that so many refugees ran the blockade during the late war
from Norfolk and other places, and a number of incidents could be
related of persons that sought that place to get in and out of the
Confederate lines. Hamburg is a beautiful place and is owned by Mrs.
S. C. Voight, who resides upon the premises. It was at this place that
Beast Butler, of the Federal Army, carried on a very extensive barter
trade with the Rebs. It adjoins the Washington farm, as I said before,
and may have been at one time a part of it. I knew nothing of the
first settlement of the place. It has the appearance of being very
ancient--no doubt dates back many years before the Revolution, or it
may have been the headquarters of a roving tribe of Indians, as many
arrow points and tomahawks have been ploughed up on the place. To my
friend, T. H. Lassiter, Esq., of Gates county, North Carolina, I am
indebted for much of the information gained of that locality, and I
could relate a good deal told me by that gentleman which might be very
interesting. Mr. Lassiter lives at a beautiful farm, on the main
Edenton road, near the Silver Spring, a place of great resort for
persons living in that part of the county.

I will relate a very interesting conversation which I had with a very
old colored man that I met in the road near the Orapeake Mill, in
Gates county, North Carolina, when on my way to Suffolk, Va., and not
far from the beautiful village of Jonesville, lying on both sides of
the Suffolk and Carolina Short Line or Grand Trunk Railroad. I said to
the old man, "Uncle, where do you live?" "Boss, you ax me a hard
question," replied the old man. "Git off your hoss an sot down, I'm
gwine tell you sumfin. Do you smoke de pipe, boss?" I replied that I
did, and handed him my bag of tobacco. He took from his pocket what I
supposed he called a pipe. It was the butt end of a corn cob hollowed
out, with something protruding at a right angle, which he called a
stem. What it really was, I could not tell. He filled it with tobacco.
I then handed him a match, when thanking me very kindly, he lighted
his pipe, drawing it a few times to see that it was well lighted,
said: "Boss, I will now tol you sumfin dat happen many years ago. Do
you see dat mill pon' yonder?" alluding to the Orapeake. I replied
that I did. "Well, boss, dat pon' was de cause of my trouble. One dark
nite I was in dar strikin' at fish. I had just hit a large chub, when
a white man, who was in dar strikin', cum up and sed: 'Boy, dat is my
fish.' I tole him dat I kilt de fish, an dat it was mine. 'Bout dat
time he was gwine to take de fish, an den I took up my hatchet dat I
had in de bote, whar I split liteard wid and hit him on de head. He
drapped down in de bote, and I seed dat I had done sumfin bad. De man
was dead, and I wood be hung if dey cotched me. So I drug de man ober
de side of de bote into the water, and mashed him down in the mud, an
dat man never cum up any more. I didn't go home any more. An arter a
while de white man was missin', an de peple gin to talk, an I gin to
git skared. Do you see dat house up dar?" I said I did. "Well, Marse
Luke Sumner libbed dar. De big house dat he libbed in is done torn
down, and de small one made outen it. He is done ded now, and when he
libbed dar is mor'n a hundred years ago. His gran-son, Marse Joe
Riddick, now own de place and libs at it. He mus be ni eighty year
old. Well, dey fine de white man was done missin, an it bin dat I was
strikin' fish in de mill pon' de same nite, dey 'gin to look for me,
an my daddy tole me dat I had better go into the desart, which was de
Dismal Swamp. I took his 'vice and lef. De runaway ketchers cum in dar
to look for me, but didn't get me. I staid dar 'til de war was ober. I
cum out and hab been lookin' 'bout dis place to see if I node anybody,
but dey all gone ded, an nobody nose me. I tell you, boss, when you
git in de desart ef nobody ses nuffin, de runaway ketchers can't kotch
you. I am berry ole now, and my home folks are all ded an gone an I no
nobody. De ghost ob de white man dat I kilt hants me all de time,
wharebber I go, an I is a misable man. I am now on my way to de desart
to hide myself an die." I asked him who he belonged to at the time he
committed the murder. Replying, he said: "I longed to Capt. Richard
Brothers, in de desert." "Well," I said, "did he ever know what became
of you?" "I nebber heard any more from him arter I got in the desart.
I heard dat he dide in 1817 ob de cole plague, or black tongue." "You
are correct in what you have said, uncle," I replied. "I do not wish
to interview you any longer on that subject. He was my grandfather and
lived at the place mentioned by you. I hear the old people speak of
the circumstances. You were his carriage driver at the time, and your
name is 'Long Davy.'" "Yas, sar, dat is my name, but don't tell
anybody 'bout it. I had a brudder libbing in de low parrish of
Nansemond county, but he is ded. His name was George." I said, "Uncle
Davy, you are correct. On one occasion, being at Driver's Store, in
lower parrish of Nansemond, I saw a tall and very polite colored man
drive up. I was struck with his appearance, and asking him his name,
he said George W. Coston, sir. Then you are from Sunsbury, Gates
county, North Carolina." "I was from that place," he replied, "but
have been living in the lower parish since the breaking out of the
war." "Were you a slave or free-born," I inquired. "I was a slave," he
responded. "Who was your first owner that you recollect." "Capt.
Richard Brothers, on the desart road, Nansemond county, Va., who died
with the cold plague in 1817," he readily answered. He appeared to be
very much pleased when I told him that his first master was my
grandfather. He looked at me very straight and asked me my mother's
name, and upon my answering Margaret, he said he thought he could see
a family likeness, and said my mother was the first mistress he ever
had, she "drawing" him in the division of my grandfather's property. I
left him at Driver's Store and never saw him again. I have since heard
that he was dead. I often thought of the circumstances of the meeting.
Such frequently occurs and brings up recollections that are buried in
oblivion. The corroborative testimony of George satisfied me that
"Davy" was true in what he related to me about what happened at
Orapeake Mill Pond, in Gates county, North Carolina, near the
beautiful village of Jonesville, on the Grand Trunk Railroad.

That the Lake of the Dismal Swamp is to become the great centre of
attraction there can be no reasonable doubt. Recent demonstrations in
that direction go to prove beyond cavil the fact. The visit of John
Boyle O'Reilly, editor of the Boston Herald, Mr. Mosely, of
Washington, and several other distinguished persons, go to prove the
fact. Contiguous as it is to the celebrated Magnolia Springs, with its
vast hunting grounds, will be a sufficient inducement to invite
sportsmen from all sections. It is certain that a railroad will be
surveyed and constructed, commencing at or near Magnolia Springs,
which will tap the Lake near the famous apple tree, and as a grand
hotel will be constructed at the Lake visitors will have the privilege
of stopping there or at the Springs. A sufficient amount of capital
can be had for all purposes necessary, and as the hotel will be built
about one mile from the shore of the Lake, it will be free from yellow
flies, fleas, mosquitos, snakes, alligators, bears, pole cats and
other annoyances which more or less infest the hotel. The hotel being
built on piles out in the Lake, could be reached by a bridge starting
from the shore, with a sufficient number of draws, which, if left open
at night, would prevent snakes, bears, alligators, pole cats, etc.,
from entering the hotel. A strict watch will be kept, and if by
accident the draws should be left closed and an alligator, bear or
snake should enter the hotel, or should a snake be found coiled up in
bed with some sleeper, no alarm should be given, it might cause some
nervous person to jump overboard and be devoured by alligators,
snakes, etc. By giving notice at the office of the hotel these
annoyances would be removed with but little or no excitement. The
object of the company is to direct the attention of Northern invalids
to Lake Drummond and Magnolia Springs, the medicinal qualities of
whose waters have been tested and are pronounced to be superior to any
known in this country. After drinking of these waters all that you
have to do is to go to Lake Drummond, bathe in its waters and be
healed. You will then be prepared to hunt bears, quail, deer, etc., at
the Springs, and your sport will then commence. Before entering into
the hunt you will supply yourself with a pole cat arrangement, which
is furnished free by the company and will probably be of service to
you. It is not expected that you will engage in any bear hunt on your
first arrival, but will wait until you know something about the mode
of hunting them. It frequently happens on the hunt that you come in
contact with a rattlesnake. He will give you timely notice by
springing his rattles, which you will do well to heed. It is a
well-known fact that Northern invalids are not afraid of alligators,
bears, snakes, pole cats or any of the poisonous insects that infest
the Swamp and Lake. There are a few timid persons living near the
Lake, on the edge of the Swamp, who are sometimes driven out of their
houses by the appearance of bears and snakes, but they are few in
number, and seldom or ever visit the Lake. The great bug bear that
deter most of the visitors is the fear of snakes falling in the
gondola, as she passes along, from overhanging limbs of trees. If
passengers would keep in their state-rooms on the gondola, snakes
might fall into it and they would know nothing about it, as they would
be thrown out as soon as found. Lizzards sometimes run up the
pantaloons leg of some who are not on the lookout for such things; but
that causes a fellow to run out of his trousers so quick that very few
ever get bitten.

I have visited the Lake at various times and under different
circumstances, but do not recollect that anything unaccountable
happened to me but once, which I will relate: On one occasion as I was
going down the canal, toward the Lake, the driver of the skiff
exclaimed, "Boss, did you see dat?" "No," I exclaimed; "What was it?"
"It was a ball of fire." "A what?" I said. "A jack-mer-lantern," said
he. "And what is that?" I asked. "It's a sperit. I ceed dem ebery
nite, an' when I go to kotch one dey ain't nobody." "Then you believe
in spirits?" "Yes, sar; dat I dus. When I pass Paradise Old Field I
kin always see dem." "Have you ever been told anything about the ball
of fire and Jack-mer-lantern, as you call them?" "Yes, sir; dat I
hab." "Then let me hear what you have been told." "Yes, sir; Boss,
I'se gwine tu tell you de God's trufe." "Well, proceed." "Boss, I'm
gwine to tole you dey tole me dat long time 'go dat a man by de name
of Pluter was come up dar in dat field wid a 'omun, an' dat dey loss
demselves, an' hab neber bin seed since; and dat ebery nite wen you go
by dar you kin see somfin. One nite as I was gwine 'long I thort dat
a ball of fire wus gwine tu hit me in de face. I axed who wus dat;
nobody said nuffin. I hit at it an' it turned to a Jack-mer-lantern."
"And what was that," I asked. "I 'spec dat it wus dat man Pluter, an'
de ball ob fire wus de 'omun dat wus wid him." "And they are what you
call 'sperits?' Then you are a natural born fool; if you do not shove
this boat along I will break your head with this pole." "Boss, I shall
always blebe in dem sperits."

It is very true that some very mysterious and unaccountable things
were seen when passing Paradise Old Field, by the side of the canal,
by persons on their way to the Lake of the Dismal Swamp, but in very
few instances, and then only by nervous persons of diseased minds. You
might travel up and down the canal as often as you choose and outside
of snakes and pole cats nothing would ever appear. Do not let snake
stories deter you from visiting this wonderful and beautiful place,
the Lake of the Dismal Swamp. As the boat was being driven along, the
driver said: "Boss, did I nebber told you about de big watermillion
that Mars. Caleb Busby foun' near dis place?" "No; let me hear
something about it." "Well, sir, I will tole you. One day as Mars.
Busby was gwine tu de Lake, an' wen he got rite here he ceed on de
side ob de cunnel a big snake trien tu swallow a raccoon. He tuk up
sumfin' to flro at de snake, an' jes' den he ceed in de bushes a nale
keg, an' wus glad dat he had foun' a keg ob nales. But wen he got dar
it was a watermillion." "How do you suppose that melon came to grow
there?" I asked. "My 'pinion 'bout dat, Boss, dat some nigger stole a
watermillion frum sum farmer's patch, an' wen he got here he busted it
gin a tree. Sum ob de seed fell on de ground an' de watermillion gru
dar." "That is very probable. What did Mr. Busby do with it?" "He
karid it home, planted sum ob de seed and his million weighed ober
fifty pounds. He sole sum ob de seed, an' frum dem seed farmers rose
de biggest watermillions ob eny in dis kintry." "Dat will do pretty
well for you; drive the boat along." "Dus yu think dat I tole yu a
story, Boss?" "Oh, no; I only thought that one of your
'Jack-mer-lanterns' had been after you, or that somebody had been
throwing a 'ball of fire' at your head."



I will take the above railroad and return to Suffolk, when I will say
something of my early recollections of that place. It was in the year
1830 that my father, with his family, moved to it. I was quite small
at that time, but I recollect the time well. Suffolk was then a small
village, situated on the Nansemond river, with a population of about
five hundred, and increased very slowly in population until after the
surrender, which was in April, 1865. Since that it has increased very
rapidly in population and growth. It was in Suffolk that Henry Herman
commenced his business career; moved to Norfolk in 1832; and became
one of her successful merchants. At his death his remains were brought
to Suffolk, and now quietly rest in Cedar Hill Cemetery. I could
mention many instances of successful business men of that town were it
necessary. I will now write of things of more recent date--something
within the recollection of many persons yet living. It will be
recollected that a fire broke out in June, 1837, that destroyed the
lower part of the town. There were no engines in the place and the
flames raged with great fury. The Allen residence, at Rose Hill, about
one half mile distant, was set on fire several times by the flying
debris, and it was with difficulty that the house was saved. It was at
Rose Hill that a large mercantile business was carried on, and no
doubt a large quantity of juniper lumber was shipped from that point
belonging to private individuals. A wharf was built at the mouth of
Shingle creek (I imagine long before the Jericho canal was dug), and
large quantities of lumber was hauled to it by persons living on the
edge of the Dismal Swamp. I knew of several persons who owned large
juniper glades on the edge of Dismal Swamp one in particular. His name
was Thomas Swepston and lived not far from Suffolk, on the line of the
Seaboard railroad, which divides his farm. He was agent of the Dismal
Swamp Land Company for several years, and may have been the first
after the Jericho canal was opened. The last agent, of whom I have any
knowledge, was W. S. Riddick, Esq., who died several years ago. The
last inspector of lumber was J. E. Bonnewell, of whom it is my
pleasure to notice particularly. Perhaps no man was more generally
known and respected in Suffolk than he. He was a true friend,
benevolent and kind, never refusing to bestow charity when called
upon. He succeeded Mr. Joseph Hill as inspector for the company, which
office he held until his death. It was during his term of office that
it was made so pleasant to visit the Lake. By giving timely notice he
would always give the parties the best boats and the most trusty hands
as drivers, and would always be present when the boat left its landing
and when it returned, and was anxious to know if any mishaps had
occurred to any of the party. And if it should be reported that some
lady had fallen into the canal, he would always very politely ask that
she be carried into his house to be made more comfortable. Capt. Babel
Ions, of Philadelphia, was his bosom friend. When the Captain was in
Suffolk, they could always be found together. They both have passed
away, and a generous people will do justice to their memory. Captain
Connewell died leaving a rich heritage behind--a name that will live
as long as it is called. But few have lived and died who was so much
beloved and respected as he. He was proud but not haughty, and
flexible to kind impulses. He was the soul of honor, and no one can
say that he even failed to accord to every one their just dues. I knew
him from my boyhood up and never knew a better man. He left an
interesting family--Mrs. H. R. Culley being his eldest daughter. I
could write many noble traits in the character of that good man, but
it is not necessary. There are but few of his compeers now living, and
soon they will all have passed away. Such is the march of time.

Nothing very important transpired in Suffolk from 1837 until after the
close of the late war, when she awoke from her slumbering condition;
her watchword being progress. She brushed the dust from her eyes, and
her advancement in every branch of industry can be seen in her rapid
growth. She stands second to no town in a commercial point of view.
Her manufacturing interests are considerable, and being a railroad
centre she must prosper and grow. The disastrous fire which occurred
June 7th, 1885, impeded business for a few months, but our men of
capital at once commenced to repair the breach, and she is again on
the road to fame and wealth. And it is to the Suffolk and Carolina or
Short Line railroad that Suffolk is mostly indebted for her present
prosperous condition. Penetrating as it does a country that is rich
and fertile, she has already felt its influence and it should be
fostered as one of the main arteries to her prosperity.

The Gay Manufacturing Company, before noticed, is perhaps the most
gigantic enterprise ever projected at Suffolk. It has extended its
operations as far South as Chowan county, N. C., and the amount of
capital invested is no doubt the largest investment of its kind in
Virginia, if not in the entire South. It has made large purchases of
land in and around Suffolk and has bought all the timbered lands on
the Suffolk and Carolina Short Line or Grand Trunk railroad, giving
employment to hundreds of hands, at fair wages, that would otherwise
eke out a miserable existence. It also enables the landowners, from
the sale of their timber, to free themselves from debt and otherwise
improve their condition. Under the direction of President W. N. Camp,
it has had erected near Suffolk, on the line of the S. & C. R. R., one
of the most extensive saw mills in Eastern Virginia, and with the aid
of the Atlantic and Danville railroad penetrating the primeval forests
of Southampton, Greensville and other counties of Virginia. Millions
of logs will be brought on that road and manufactured for shipment to
Northern markets. The company consists principally of Baltimoreans,
who will reap a harvest commensurate with the capital invested. And in
many instances it is owing to the mature judgment of President Camp
that the efforts to establish this great enterprise has been crowned
with such signal success. The advantages this company possesses, by
its intimate connections with the S. & C. R. R., and A. & D. R. R.,
cannot be estimated, but it can be truly said that their intimate and
close relations with each other, while each is a separate and distinct
corporation, forms one of the grandest and far-reaching enterprises of
its kind in the South.

The Gay Manufacturing Company consists of William N. Camp, president;
Charles F. Pitt, Jr., Chauncy Brooks, S. P. Ryland, John M. Denison
and William N. Camp, directors; George L. Barton, treasurer; Charles
F. Pitt, Jr., secretary.

The A. & D. R. R. has made great internal improvement under the
management of Major Charles B. Peck, of New York, and has progressed
more rapidly than any road of which we have any knowledge. Its
starting point is at West Norfolk, on the Elizabeth river, at the
mouth of its western branch, the great trucking region of the State of
Virginia which will supply it with thousands of dollars worth of
freight annually. It runs diagonally across the Norfolk and Western
and Seaboard and Roanok, railroads, both of which have already felt
its effects, and when it shall have reached Danville the Richmond and
Danville will then feel its withering influence, for this being the
shortest and most speedy route to deep water, in one of the finest
harbors in the world, it is natural that all produce will seek such a
route and such a favorable shipping point.



This railroad was projected by the energetic and far-seeing W. H. Gay,
Esq., of Suffolk, as a lumber road, who pushed it rapidly as far south
as Sunsbury, in Gates county, N. C. He soon saw that it was a grand
enterprise, and associated with him several gentlemen of the city of
Baltimore in its construction, who afterwards bought out Mr. Gay's
interest, and have constructed a road that will soon become one of
the leading lines, connecting as it does, by a line of steamboats, the
waters of Albermarle Sound and the Atlantic ocean, and bringing
eastern North Carolina in direct communication with the city of
Baltimore. Under the able management of Mr. H. B. Hubbell, the
efficient vice-president of the company, and R. H. Thompson, Esq., as
general manager, with the assistance of Colonel Harry McCleary, the
road has been brought to its present flourishing condition, and the
Gay Manufacturing Company, under President Camp, is one of its chief
adjuncts. This road now connects with the Norfolk and Western and the
Atlantic and Danville railways, and soon large quantities of freight
will be transferred from it to the above-named roads.

Suffolk is more particularly noted for her schools, colleges and other
institutions of learning, all of which are in a very prosperous
condition. The Suffolk Military Academy, under the direction of Joseph
King, principal, with its professorship, is no doubt the best school
for young men in Tidewater, Virginia. The character and standing of
it, with its location for health, is a recommendation that must tend
greatly to its success.

Another school of high grade is the Suffolk Collegiate Institute,
under the professorship of P. J. Kernodle. It is an institution that
has been established for several years, and has received a liberal
support from its friends. The course at this institution is thorough.
Young ladies are taught the higher branches and are instructed in
music, drawing, &c.

The West End Female Seminary under the direct supervision of Col. W.
H. Darden, formerly of Isle of Wight county, Va., with Miss Novella
Darden as principal, with the assistance of Miss Lizzie J. King, gives
to the school a reputation that must add greatly to its success. Young
ladies at this school are instructed in all the higher branches,
music, painting and drawing. It is eligibly located on College Avenue.

The Suffolk Female Institute, under the direction of the Misses
Finney, is too well known to require a notice. It is the oldest
established school in Suffolk, and enjoys a reputation that is
enviable. It has probably received more favor than any other school
which I have noticed.

The Nansemond Seminary, of which Mrs. Quimby is principal, is a school
that recommends itself. It is limited in the number of its pupils.
This should not be so. Throw open your doors wide and let your motto
be "the greatest good to the greatest number." It has gained quite a



It is interesting to read of relics of the olden times and bring up
associations connected therewith. I will now notice an antiquated old
building in Isle of Wight county, Va., on the main road leading from
Suffolk to Smithfield, and about five miles from the latter place. It
is called Old Benn's Church. At what time it was built I have never
heard, but it must have been soon after the settlement of this
country. The rude hand of time has reduced it to bare walls, and
nothing is left of its interior to show that it was ever a place of
worship. That it was built when this country was a colony there can be
no question. There is a burying ground at the place, on which can be
seen tomb stones of very ancient date, and if I mistake not, the first
rector of the church or some of his family was buried in it. A tablet,
noting the fact, could be seen set in the building. Bishop Meade, in
his history of the Episcopal Churches in Virginia, mentions Benn's
Church as being one of, if not the oldest, church in the State. It has
been snatched from further decay by some benevolent ladies and will
soon again become a place of worship. Let the names of these ladies
form the future history of that sacred old church, and let future
generations know that it was at one time from decay reduced to bare
walls, and that by the humane efforts of some ladies it has been
reclaimed and once more presents the appearance of a house of worship,
standing as a monument to its former renown and greatness. There are
several Episcopal churches in this county that should not be allowed
to go to decay. They stand as landmarks in Virginia; built long before
the recollection of any one now living. I know of several places in
this county that I have been told were Glebe property, and at one time
were, and had erected on them, Episcopal churches. In many places
these churches have gone down, the land escheated and are now occupied
by churches of other denominations. And it may have been so, as they
are just such places as old Episcopal churches now stand, on elevated
sites near running streams. I could state some very interesting facts
connected with many places in this county which might appear very
meritorious, nevertheless they are true, and form a part of the
history of the county.

I will now mention Mount Pleasant, the home of the Meades, of
Virginia. This was at one time a very beautiful estate, on the west
bank of what is now known as Smith's Creek, and is the southern branch
of the Nansemond river. Long before the revolution this place was
settled, and at the time very large vessels could navigate the creek
as far as Mount Pleasant, it then being a wide and deep river, and I
have been told that a direct foreign trade was carried on with that
place. A grave yard can be seen at Mount Pleasant which is very
singular, and has some curiously inscribed tomb stones in it of
persons who died there many years ago. By the ruthless hand of time
many of the tombs were mutilated, and it may be that little is left of
them. I had the inscriptions of some of them, but gave them to a
gentleman from Westmoreland county, Virginia. He wanted them on
account of their singularity, and he being an antiquarian he said they
would be quite an acquisition to his cabinet of curiosities. It is
highly probable that Mount Pleasant was settled long before the Dismal
Swamp was known or heard of, and I doubt if any one thought that
there could be found such a place as really was existing, and having
hid in its dark foliage such a beautiful place as Lake Drummond.

The first great enterprise that was commenced in Suffolk after the
surrender, was the building of the railroad of the Suffolk Lumber
Company, which runs from Suffolk to Asher, in Gates county, North
Carolina, where is the home of the Hon. C. A. Whaley. As soon as the
road was completed as far as Whaleyville, in Nansemond county, Va., a
town soon sprung up, and a mercantile business was commenced, which
for time paralyzed business in Suffolk. It stopped the channel through
which flowed the life-blood of the town from where it started. This
road is owned by Governor Eliew Jackson, Co. & Brothers, of Maryland,
and has from its commencement done a heavy business. It has been ably
managed by W. M. Whaley, Esq., and Mr. D. B. Cannon. Whether it has
been of any great good to Suffolk is a question that we are not
prepared to answer, though the land holders through which it has
passed have been benefitted. It brought their pine timber into market,
which otherwise would have remained a primeval forest and a dead
expense to its owners. The sale of it to Jackson & Co. has cleared
many of debt, and to that extent the road has been a benefit. The
company has bought large landed possessions in Alabama and Georgia,
and will soon move their field of operations to those points. The
quantity of wood and timber that has been transported over the road
is incredible. To say the least of Jackson & Brothers they started a
spirit of enterprise, which, to some extent, has been a benefit. New
ideas have been infused into the minds of our people, and instead of
keeping their capital locked up they have invested it in various
directions for the improvement and benefit of trade, thereby causing
to spring up factories and machine shops, to say nothing of the many
other advantages that are derived through patriotic motives.



It is customary in the fall season to have what is called bear hunts
in the Dismal Swamp, and parties are frequently made up to go on such
hunts. Before going it is necessary that some preparation should be
made. Bear hunting is very dangerous, and is sometimes attended with
difficulty. Before starting you should provide yourself with a cowboy
suit, a good rifle, a pair of revolvers, a bowie knife (16 inch blade)
and sub-marine armor. When thus equipped you can enter the Swamp. You
proceed cautiously along listening to hear the bears lapping, when you
go in the direction of the sound. Bears move very cautiously, and you
should be sure to keep a good lookout in your rear, as it sometimes
happens that when you are going forward a drove of them are following
you, and when least expected they make the attack, and if the parties
should be the least separated, it often happens that all perish. I was
told of a party that were out on a bear hunt in the Dismal Swamp, who
supposed that they could face anything. The party consisted of eight
good men. They had not proceeded very far in the Swamp when they heard
in the distance the lapping of bears. Of course it is very exciting,
and if one has any courage he is apt to show it at the time. A halt
was made and the question asked, what should be done? They were not
thinking of the danger that surrounded them. They did not think that
bears were on their path. But it was too late. Whilst discussing what
to do they were sprung upon from the rear, and six were badly
lacerated, one rode off on the back of a bear and the last one
retreated to the Lake for safety. Should you at any time go to the
Dismal Swamp to hunt bears be exceedingly careful to have your rear
well guarded.

Researches among old papers often bring to light subjects that long
have been forgotten, and which, if cultivated, tends in many ways to
the benefit of the rising generation. We often hear of events that
have long since transpired, which at the time we pass unnoticed, but
somehow or other an impression is made, and sooner or later something
transpires that brings to our recollection a circumstance which
refreshes our memory of some important event of which we have a slight
remembrance. Looking over the fourteenth volume of Col. Godfrey's
work entitled "Important Discoveries," to see if we could find
anything therein written by which we could identify "Uncle Alek's
Mule," and if possible to define him, that there could be no
reasonable doubt but that it was the same mule rode by Nat Turner, and
that he was driven by the young mother in her flight with her infant
to the Dismal Swamp, and if what G. P. R. James said in his Old
Dominion be true, we must believe that Uncle Alek and Nat Turner rode
the same mule. No other account was ever given that ever came to our
knowledge, but it will make no difference as everybody knew that Uncle
Alek had a mule. But as we have stated before, looking over the
fourteenth volume of Col. Godfrey's work on Important Discoveries,
many years ago we read in it an account of his first visit to the
county of Southampton, Virginia, and the many important discoveries
therein made. His visit to that county was on very important business,
and being a man of great observation, he was careful and cautious. He
was tracing some titles, and it was necessary that he should make many
inquiries. The country was wild and sparsely settled at that time; it
was extremely difficult for one to get accommodation for man and
horse. He was fearful at times that he would not be able to reach a
shelter for the night. He had crossed at the South Quay Ferry at an
early hour, and had been in the saddle all day and was very much
fatigued and exhausted, besides he had ate nothing. Night was fast
approaching and he in a strange country. He reined up his horse,
which caused him to increase his gait. He had not ridden many miles
further when he thought he heard a cock crow. He listened and soon he
heard the sound repeated. He was then satisfied that he was near some
human habitation. What must have been his feelings, when he knew that
he would soon reach a place where he probably would be able to stay
for the night to rest and refresh himself. He rode on and in a short
time came in sight of a very neat and comfortable looking house not
many rods from the road. He arrived in front of it and found that
everything about the house had the appearance of neatness and comfort,
and that he would probably be accommodated for the night. So he
dismounted from his horse and opened the gate and proceeded to the
house. The proprietor must have been very fond of fox hunting from the
number of hounds that made an attack on him as he rode up the avenue,
and which was so sudden that it brought out the entire household. It
was getting dark, but sufficiently light to see one approaching on
horse back. The dogs were called off, and he heard a voice exclaim
ride up. A very handsome picket fence surrounded the house, and upon
arriving at the gate he was met by a fine looking old English
gentleman, who invited him to dismount and have his horse stabled.
Thanking him for his kindness, he at once dismounted, and taking the
extended hand of the old gentleman, said: "Sir, I am a benighted
traveller, and a stranger in this section, and have sought your
kindness for shelter for the night." "You are heartily welcome," said
the old gentleman. "Strangers, if gentlemen, are always welcome
visitors to my house. So without any further ceremony walk in and rest
yourself, for I imagine that you have been in your saddle for several
hours and must feel quite fatigued." "I have been riding since early
morning and was surprised to find the country so thinly settled. This
is the first place that I have seen at which I could venture to stop."
"Very true," he replied, "but you will, as you advance, find the
country more thickly settled." We walked into the house and were met
in the hall by a very fine looking and matronly old lady. Giving his
name as Godfrey, the old gentleman grasped his had and said: "Col.
Godfrey, this is indeed a pleasure. Let me introduce you to my wife,
Mrs. Ridley." "Ridley did you say?" "The same." "This is indeed most
fortunate." "Say no more, Col. Godfrey; walk into the sitting room.
You will find a cheerful fire, and as the air is a little chilly, a
seat by the fire will cause you to feel more comfortable. Make
yourself perfectly at home. You will excuse me for a short time while
I give some directions to my head man, when I will rejoin you." "You
are very excusable, Col. Ridley," replied Col. Godfrey, "I do not wish
you to let my appearance interfere in the least with your business
arrangements." The Colonel was not long away, and on re-entering the
room remarked to Col. Godfrey: "This unexpected meeting is very
mysterious to me, and the more so because my wife remarked but a very
short time ago that some stranger was coming; that she knew it from
the incessant crowing of the chickens and the fierce howl of the
hounds. I shall always hereafter believe in such signs. But Colonel,
our supper is quite ready. You will be shown to a room where you may
arrange your toilet." Having performed this duty he was met in the
hall by Col. Ridley, who said: "Colonel, it has been the custom at my
house since my earliest manhood, just before eating to take a toddy,
made of the juice of the Cider Berry, prepared in this county, and is
the only medicine used in my family. The farmers of this county have a
peculiar way of preparing it, and everybody that has used it speak of
the good qualities which it possesses. Some say that its use, when you
feel badly, will cause you to feel good, and to use it when you feel
good will make you feel bad. It always makes me feel good, and I am
remarkably fond of it. The oftener you take this medicine the better
you will like it. There is sugar and honey; a little of either added
will make it much more palatable, as honey is soothing and acts well
for the lungs. I will try the honey." This being disposed of they
proceed to supper, Colonel Ridley leading the way to the supper-room,
and on entering found the family all standing, waiting. They were soon
seated, and on the table before them was placed a good old-fashioned
Virginia supper. Addressing himself to Mrs. Ridley, Col. Godfrey said:
"Madame, I fear that you have, on this occasion, put yourself to some
unnecessary trouble on my account." "Not in the least," graciously
responded that lady. Then turning to Col. Ridley, Colonel Godfrey
said, "You were quite right, Colonel, when you said that the 'juice'
would make one feel good; it has had that effect on me already, and I
feel that I can do ample justice to this fine supper." "I am glad you
think so," returned Colonel Ridley; "nothing pleases me more than to
see my visitors eat heartily; help yourself, it does appear to me that
one who has been riding all day would not require any artificial means
of inducing an appetite." "Colonel," said Mrs. Ridley, "I suppose this
is your first visit to the county?" "No, madame," replied Col.
Godfrey, "I passed through a portion of it several years ago to locate
some lands on the Nottoway river, and as there appears to be some
dispute about the titles, I am on my way to look after it." "Yes," she
said, "I heard you were coming and am truly glad you made it
convenient to come this way, and besides you are on the direct road;
do you apprehend any trouble?" "Not the least; my papers are
authenticated, and I have only to present them." "I hope," she said,
"that you will find it as you have stated." Supper being over they all
repaired to the sitting-room. Colonel Ridley had a daughter whose
husband, a colonel of infantry, had been killed in the war of the
Revolution and large tracts of land had been made by the Government to
his heirs. "What was the name of the soldier?" inquired Colonel
Godfrey. "Col. G. Bradley," answered Colonel Ridley. "Yes, sir; that
was his name." "That is a part of the business which caused my visit
in this direction, and Mrs. Bradley need have no fears as to the
validity of her title. I have the papers with me that will place her
in full possession of the estate. Besides, she is entitled to a large
amount from the Government as half-pay for her husband's services
during the Revolution, which she will receive on application through
the proper channel." It was now getting late, and Col. Godfrey was
told that his room was ready if he wished to retire. Feeling a little
sleepy, after eating a hearty supper, and as he had to make an early
start in the morning, he thought it best to go to his room, so bidding
the family good night he followed a boy, who carried a lighted candle
to the room to which he had been assigned for the night, in which a
cheerful fire was burning. The boy entered the room, closing the door
behind him, and said: "Mass boss, mammy told me to ax you of you war
eny kin to de man dat made the baby medicin?" "Who is your mammy?"
inquired the now thoroughly interested Colonel. "She's de 'oman dat
nusses all de babies on de plantashun." "Tell your mammy that I will
see her in the morning." "Yas, sir," he said, and left the room. The
Colonel soon retired, as he felt somewhat jaded. He awoke at an early
hour, and having some moments leisure got up and dressed himself.
About this time he heard a tapping at his door, and at the same time
the voice of the boy exclaiming: "Ise got a pitcher of fresh water for
you." "Bring it in," said the Colonel. The boy entered, showing two
rows of white ivory. "Boss, will you hab a fire made?" "No," said the
Colonel, "I will soon be ready to go down; is the Colonel up?" "Yas,
sir, an' is waiting for you." "Then I will go down," said the Colonel,
which he did and was met at the foot of the stairs by Col. Ridley, who
bade him a cheerful good morning, and expressed the hope that he felt
much better after his night's rest. "Thank you, sir; I am glad to say
that I feel very much refreshed." "If you feel disposed," said Col.
Ridley, "we will take a walk out, the air is bracing and a little walk
will give you an appetite for your breakfast, which will soon be
ready." They started, and as the old nurse of the plantation wished to
see Colonel Godfrey, he proposed to his host that they should go to
her quarters. They had but a short distance to go, as her house was
very conveniently situated. When they arrived they found the old lady
with a baby in her lap, evidently for some purpose. "Good morning,
aunty," said Col. Godfrey. The old woman looked very much excited; she
wore a pair of spectacles, the lenses of which looked like two
saucers. "Mornin', sir," she replied. "What are you going to do with
your baby?" inquired the Colonel. "I'm gwine to feed it, sir; its
mammy is ded, an' I hab to feed it myself." "What do you give it to
eat?" "I char 'tater, spit it out on my finger an' wipe 'cross de
chile's mouf, arter dat I make a sugar rag, put some sweet flag in it,
put de rag in de chile's mouf and lay it down; it goes to sleep, an'
wen it wakes up ef it cries I gin it some more 'tater." "But," queried
the Colonel, "suppose it is sick?" "I kin always tell dat; ef it draws
up its legs and kicks, I kno dat sumthin' is de matter, an' I den gib
sum ciderberry juice wid nutmeg grated ober it, an' in no time de
baby cries fer more ob de juice. Sum folks gib dar babies 'Godfrey's
Cordial,' but I dus not blebe in doctors' fisic; nine times out ob ten
dey will kill de baby. I thort dat you war sum kin to Mr. Godfrey dat
made de medicin', and wood ax you 'bout it." "No, aunty, I am no kin
to him."

Being informed that breakfast was ready, Colonel Ridley proposed that
they should return to the house, and that a little of the ciderberry
juice would add much to the enjoyment of the meal, and as everything
was convenient proposed that they should indulge. Col. Godfrey took
some of the juice with honey, as before, and was then ready for
breakfast. Col. Ridley led the way, and on entering found a hot
smoking breakfast. Mrs. Ridley remarked, "Colonel, you are an early
riser I see; I fear you did not rest well last night." "I assure you,
madame," the Colonel gallantly replied, "I could not have been more
comfortable. My business being urgent, it was necessary that I should
rise early." "You do not think of leaving this early?" "Yes, madame;
you know that delays are dangerous. I have spent a very pleasant time,
and hope, not long hence, to make a more extended visit. I was very
much amused this morning at seeing the nurse of the plantation feeding
a baby. It was quite a novel sight to me. The old woman does not
appear to have much confidence in doctors." "No, sir," replied the
lady, "we have been living here a long time and no doctor has ever
been called, professionally, to see any one at the place. The old
woman, with her tater, sweet flag, sugar rags, ciderberry juice and
Black Jack, keeps every one in a healthy condition." "She must be very
valuable to you," said the Colonel. "Yes, sir", said Mrs. Ridley; "we
could not do without her, and her loss could not be replaced." "It is
getting late and I am admonished I must leave," said the Colonel, "for
I have some distance yet to ride." He said it would be a great
pleasure for him to remain longer under the hospitable roof of his
kind host and hostess, but that it would not be possible for him to do
so. He said further that he had some papers which he would hand over
to Col. Ridley which would be of great service to his daughter, Mrs.
Bradley, as they would secure her right to certain disputed property,
and that he must bid them adieu. Then addressing himself to Col.
Ridley, said: "These papers are valuable; take them and entrust them
only into the hands of Mrs. Bradley, and that if he would now order
his horse he would proceed on his way." Col. Ridley assured him that
he would like to have him stay longer, but that of course he best knew
his business; that it had been his custom to welcome all visiting and
speed all departing guests. That should he happen to come that way
again he would be delighted to have him stop, as he would always find
a hearty welcome. Col. Godfrey thanked his new friend and said that
should it be his fortune again to visit that neighborhood he promised
not to pass him by. His horse was waiting, so giving the Colonel a
hearty shake of the hand and bidding good-bye to all, he mounted and
rode away.

After Col. Godfrey had left, a general conversation was commenced
about his visit. It was evident that his business was with Mrs.
Bradley, but he did not know at the time that she was the daughter of
Col. Ridley, or he would have made known to her the object of his
visit. She was absent at the time. As his papers were all properly
avouched for he could leave them in the hands of her father, Col.
Ridley. The old medicine woman of the plantation was much interested
in the visit of the Colonel to her quarters, and was anxious to know
if he was related to Mr. Godfrey that made the cordial. She was told
that he was not. The old woman broke in and said: "Missus, I thort dat
de gemman who axed me what I was doin' wid de baby in my lap, was a
doctor, an' some kin to de man what made de Godfrey's cordial, but he
tole me dat he was not. He like de way dat I doctered de chile, an'
sed dat he would rite about it. He sed dat he had tried sum of de
juice hisself an' dat it was good for babies. I tole him dat I did not
blebe in doctors' physic; dey did not no what to do for babies. I tole
him dat nex to de cider berry juice an' sugar rag, dat de Black Jack
was de bes medcin dat I could use. He sed dat de Black Jack seldom
failed. Missus, when dat gemman 'peared at my do, I thort dat he was a
specalader, an' dat you was gwine to sell me." "No, Aunt Barbara,"
said Mrs. Ridley, "if all the money of all the negro buyers were added
together, it would not make an amount sufficient to buy you. Nothing
but death can separate us. You are a part of my very existence. I
have left in my bosom a spark of gratitude yet, which kindles into a
flame when I remember what you have done for the family. I have not
forgotten that it was you that gave the timely warning of the approach
of Nat Turner and his column. By so doing you probably saved the lives
of the household. On another occasion you saved the life of my darling
babe by a miracle wrought in your own way. Aunt Barbara, I would not
give you and your nostrums, such as 'Cider Berry Juice,' 'Sweet Flag,'
'Taters' 'Sugar Rags' and 'Black Jack' for all the doctors in
Christendom." "Missus, I'm glad dat you tink so much ob me. I has
always done de bes dat I could. You know dat de chillun on de
plantashun was bad, but wid my Black Jack I always made dem have
deyself." "That is very true, Aunt Barbara, and they all love you for
it. You know, Aunt Barbara, that the Good Book tells us, 'spare the
rod and you spoil your child.'" "Missus, dats what I 'luded to all de
time. I nebber struc' one ob dem little niggers a lic' amiss in my
life, unless I struc' at him and didn't toch him." The old woman here
saw a little nigger coming at full tilt, and knew that something was
wrong. When he came up, she asked: "What on earth is de matter?" The
boy was quite out of breath and couldn't speak at the time. The old
woman gave him a rake with her Black Jack and said: "What is de matter
wid you?" "I cum to tell you dat Judy's baby is mos ded, an' want you
to cum 'mediately." "When I cum to de house," said the old woman, "I
seed dat de chile was bad off. I took it up an' seed dat it had de
dry gripes. I give it some Cider Berry Juice an' tole its mudder to
fotch me a tater. I give de chile sum tater an' handed it to its
mudder, an' tole her to put a sugar rag in its mouf with sum Sweet
Flag an' lay it down, an' den I lef to jine de old folks at de house."
"Well, Aunt Barbara, I suppose there was nothing very serious the
matter with the child," said Mrs. Ridley. "Yas dar was, missus, an' I
got dar jus in time. De chile was taken wid de dry gripes. I gin it
sum Cider Berry Juice an' tole its mudder to fotch me a tater. I gin
it sum of de tater an' put a sugar rag in its mouf. Dat chile has done
gone sleep." "Barbara," said Col. R., "I suppose that if you were told
that a child was dead and you were sent for in time you could, with
your Cider Berry Juice, Tater, Sugar Rags, Sweet Flag and your Black
Jack, bring the little sleeper to life. You talk of dry gripes; who
ever heard of such a thing? What are they, and how is a person taken?"
"Massa," said the old woman, "I tole you 'bout dem when dey got hold
ob you. You ses nuffin to nobody, but you goes to de side-bode an' git
sum Cider Berry Juice. Dat ma'e you feel good, an' arter a while you
take sum mo' ob de juice. De baby dus not know dat, so it draws up its
legs an' kicks like wrath. Den I know dat it has de dry gripes." "Aunt
Barbara," said Col. R., "I did not take it in that light before. Your
philosophy is good, and I shall say nothing about the practice of your
profession again. I admit that I take the juice quite often, but it is
not for the dry gripes." "Yas, sir, dat medcin is good for all
diseases, an' I take sum mysef when dar is nuffin de matter wid me."
Mrs. Ridley, who was sitting listening to the conversation, happened
to look toward the road gate, and saw some one coming in. All eyes
were now turned toward the approaching stranger, and all were anxious
to know who it could be. One said that it must be a preacher, another
that it was a book agent. Aunt Barbara put on her specs, took a survey
and said: "I spec dat it is a doctor cummin' here to sell sum of
Godfrey's Cordial for de baby." "You are all wrong," said Col. Ridley,
"it is our good friend, Col. Godfrey." He was right. The Colonel had
advanced near enough for all to see. Col. R. advanced to the yard gate
as Col. Godfrey rode up. A boy was in waiting to take his horse.
"Colonel, we are all glad to see you back again. Dismount and let your
animal be stabled." Having dismounted, Col. R. took him by the hand
and walked in the house. Mrs. R. was standing on the portico, and as
Col. G. walked up she said "Sir, I assure you that we are all very
glad to see you. We had been talking about you at the time that you
appeared at the road gate. Walk in. We will talk about that later.
Take off your overcoat and wrappings." "Thank you, madam," he replied.

"Colonel," said Col, Ridley, "to use a commonplace expression, which
is, 'talk about the devil and his imp will appear,' we had just been
wondering who the rider could be. One said that he was a preacher;
another that he was a book agent. Old Aunt Barbara, the plantation
nurse, said that he was a doctor coming to sell some of Godfrey's
Cordial for the children. And I see I first discovered that it was
you. I am rather disposed to think that you feel bad. I have some of
the same Cider Berry Juice, and as everything is ready you will,
without any further ceremony, walk up and take a little for the
stomach's sake." "Thank you," said Col. G. "Since travelling over the
county of Southampton I have had frequent occasions to try the juice.
It is prepared and kept by most of the farmers, and the use of it acts
like a charm." "If you would like to arrange your toilet, the boy will
show you to your room. In the meantime I will see to having your horse
properly cared for." The boy was the same that waited on Col. G.
before, and was the son of the nurse of the plantation. "Well, Buck,
how is your mammy now? How much Black Jack and Taters has she given
you since I left?" "He, he, he," giggled the boy. "I tell you what it
is, boss, mammy wars me out mos every day, but she gibs me plenty
taters an' I doan mine it." "Is Mrs. Bradly here?" "No sir. She did
not stay here long arter marster gib her de papers dat you lef, an' I
spec when she cum back she will hab lots o' money." "She will, no
doubt, as she will only have to present the papers. I should like very
much to see her. Is she handsome?" "I doan no what dat is, sar." "I
mean is she pretty?" "Yas, sar, dat she is. It is gin out dat she is
de puttiest 'oman in dis settlement, and I git so tired taking horses
ob gemmen dat cum to see her." "Then I expect she is bethrothed." "I
doan no 'bout dat, but she ses dat de rite gemman hab not cum yit." "I
must go down now, the Colonel may be waiting for me. Here is a dollar
for you. Be sure to come to my room to-night." "Yas, sar, I will be
dar sure." He had finished his toilet and proceeded down stairs. He
was met by Col. R., who said: "Colonel, you will find a happy
household. Your return has put a new phase on everything. The old
nurse is perfectly happy since she found out that you are no negro
buyer, and that you did not come to sell Godfrey's Cordial." "The old
woman must be averse to doctors. She no doubt is right, as nine times
out of ten, but very few of them know what they are doing." "Thinking
that you had not dined, Mrs. R. has prepared something for you. Try a
little more of the Cider Berry Juice and honey. You will feel better
prepared to enjoy what the madam has set before you." "I assure you,
Col. R., that since travelling in this county I have become
particularly fond of the juice. I have called at several places where
I was told they did not use the medicine, but always like to see it
sitting convenient." "The juice that you are now mixing was prepared
when our first child was born. It is very exhilarating in its effects,
and you are fortunate in having the pleasure of testing it at this
time. It is an honor that is extended to but few." "Col. R., allow me
to drink to the very good health of your first born. Was it a male or
female?" "It was a female, and I am glad to inform you that it was
Mrs. Bradley. She is away at present, but I hope that you may make it
convenient to stay until her return, which may be in a few days." A
very neat and polite negro man made his appearance from the
dining-room, and bowing very politely, said: "Marster, you can invite
the Colonel in; everything is ready." "Colonel, walk this way. It is
rather late for breakfast, but you will no doubt be able to make a
repast of what is before you." "Make no excuses, Col. R., about what
is before me, for it would satisfy the appetite of a king. That is the
besetting sin of the Old Virginia matrons. They will load the table
with everything that is good and palatable and say that they are sorry
that they have nothing you can eat." "Col. Godfrey," said Mrs. Ridley,
"I see that you are disposed to indulge in a little flattery. It is
true that we extend our hospitality to visiting strangers and friends,
but not to that extent which you ascribe to us." "It has been my
experience, madam, at every place at which I have had business in this
neighborhood, and I infer that it was a general thing." "Then,
Colonel," said Mrs. R., "you have had a very pleasant time since you
left our house?" "I cannot say that it has been altogether pleasant,
madam. When on the road I cannot say that it was pleasant, but
anything else I assure you. My trip has been an exceedingly dangerous
one. I found treachery lurking about, and I at once put myself on my
guard." Having finished eating, the Colonel was invited into the
sitting-room, where Col. R. was found reading a paper just received
from Washington, in which was announced the arrival of his daughter,
Mrs. Bradley, of Virginia, and her son. Mrs. B., it will be
recollected, was the widow of a distinguished revolutionary officer,
and was in Washington on business with the Office of the Interior.
"Take the paper, Colonel," said Col. Ridley, "you may find something
which might be of interest to you." When scanning over its pages his
eyes rested on the following:

     "Arrived in this city to-day, by way of stage from Richmond,
     Virginia, the beautiful and accomplished Mrs. Col. Bradley,
     of Va. She is the widow of the brave and gallant Col.
     Bradley, who so distinguished himself during the revolution,
     being twice brevetted on the field for bravery. She is the
     daughter of Col. Ridley, of Southampton county, Va., so well
     known for his hospitality. Every attention will be paid to
     this distinguished lady. She will remain in the city for
     several days, as she has important business with the
     Secretary of the Interior. That functionary has already
     called on her, and she will have no trouble in that

Col. R., having finished his out-door operations, returned to the
house, and on entering the sitting-room found Col. Godfrey still
looking over the paper. "Colonel," he remarked, "I imagine that you
have been much interested in reading the papers." "Yes, sir. I notice
that your daughter, Mrs. Col. Bradley, had arrived in the city of
Washington, and had received much attention." "Yes, sir, and it was
very gratifying to me to know that such was the case. I only hope that
she will meet with no very serious difficulty in the prosecution of
her business." "I assure you, sir, that she can have not the least
difficulty; besides, she will have no trouble. The Secretary of the
Interior has been informed of her visit, and she will be aided by him
in every way." "I hope that it may be as you have stated." "Rest
assured, Colonel, what I tell you is so." Mrs. Ridley, having finished
her domestic arrangements, entered the room, when the conversation at
once ceased. Addressing herself to Col. R., she said: "It is rather
cold in the room, had you not better order some wood placed on the
fire." "Excuse me, my dear, I was so much interested in the
conversation of our distinguished guest that I paid but little
attention to the fire. I will order the wood immediately." The wood
was brought in, and soon the room was made very comfortable. Mrs. R.
said: "Col. Godfrey, at the table just now you said that your journey
after you left us, was in many instances, not very pleasant. You have
rather raised my curiosity. I would like to have you give an account
of your mishaps as you journeyed along. It will be very interesting,
no doubt." "It is a great pleasure to me to impart to others anything
that I may know that would prove of interest to them, and I do most
willingly grant the request made by you."



In getting up a party to visit Lake Drummond, you will always find
more or less of the party who are afraid of snakes. On this occasion
the party consisted of only three--Smith, Jones and Brown--all
citizens of Suffolk. They prepared themselves with the necessary
outfit and started for the canal. Their boat being ready they embarked
and soon were on the way. Smith being the most expert took the wheel,
Brown placed himself at the bow, so that he could ward off approaching
danger, and Jones, who was the timid one of the party, was put
amidship the boat, with his back to Brown. I knew the parties well;
they are all living, and I will narrate the snake story as I was told
by Brown, who will vouch for its authenticity. They had not passed the
great terror to all who go to the Lake (Paradise Old Fields), where
can be seen everything that is hideous; a place that is dreaded, and
if it could, would be shunned by every one who visits the Lake. Things
of most unquestionable shapes have been seen by persons when passing
it. No one has ever given any account of the history of the Field,
which you are compelled to pass going to Lake Drummond, and which has
deterred many from venturing to it. Owing to the many snake stories
that has been told by persons who said they were born to see spirits,
there can be no doubt that there is a legend connected with that
Field. Some have argued that the Field was at one time filled with
grottos, and that the fairies of Lake Drummond would leave their realm
and by a subterranean passage into it to bask in the beauties which
surrounded it. Profane history informs us that it was at this place
that Pluto and Proserpine left for the infernal regions. That will
make no difference about the snake story that I will relate. A snake
is a wonderful reptile, and it is not necessary for one to be seen
that one should be frightened. The very mention, in some instances, is
sufficient to scare those who are the least timid. So it was in this
instance. Jones, as I have said before, was one of a party that were
going to the Lake. He was afraid of snakes. Smith and Brown knew it
and they determined to have a little sport at his expense. Jones was
highly delighted with the grandeur of the scenery by the side of the
canal, as they rode along, and was expatiating upon the wonders of
nature. Smith was charmed with the romantic effusions of Jones, and
paid no attention to Brown, who was sitting at the bow of the boat,
here looked toward him, and seeing that he was intently searching for
something, asked what was the matter. Brown answered that a snake was
in the boat and that he was trying to find it. Here Jones commenced to
twist and squirm. "Hallo!" said Brown: "here's another!" No sooner had
he said another when Jones sprang into the canal. He made several
lunges and, Peter like, looked as if he was walking on the water.
Smith added more steam to the boat and Jones was overhauled and taken
into the boat, very much frightened. They had not gone very far when
Brown said: "I believe that snake is in the boat yet," and at the same
time threw at Jones a piece of rattan, which is good to scare one
with--it's a veritable snake. He was again taken into the boat, quite
exhausted and cold from his ablutions. Brown prepared some ciderberry
juice for him, with some pepper and other things that they had along
which, after taking, Jones became more quiet. Brown says that when he
thinks about that snake story it fills him so with laughter that he
has to buckle a strap around him to support his physical organization.
Jones has not ventured to the Lake since that time, and Brown is
afraid to tell him that the snake in the boat was only a piece of
rattan. If you want to see snakes come to Suffolk and get Brown to go
with you to the Lake of the Dismal Swamp, and he will amuse you to
your heart's content.

To be continued, introducing several thrilling stories connected with
the Dismal Swamp and Lake Drummond, together with bear hunting and the
fearful consequences attending, and later accounts of the whereabouts
of Uncle Alek's mule.

       *       *       *       *       *



The following constitute an able and experienced Faculty: JOSEPH KING,
A. M., Principal (with 27 years' experience as a teacher). REV.
ROWLAND DOGGETT, A. M., (Randolph-Macon) Associate. P. ST. JULIEN
WILSON (Virginia Military Institute). DR. W. W. MURRAY (Dublin
University). DR. A. W. ELEY, DR. E. D. PHILLIPS, Attending Physicians.

The testimonals (see catalogue) from distinguished educators at the
University of Virginia, the Virginia Military Institute and other
institutions--from leading members of the Virginia Conference--from
its patrons in different States, and from the leading citizens of
Suffolk, are a sufficient guarantee of the high character and standing
of the school and the practical ability and fidelity of the teachers.

Boys and Young Men are here prepared for business or for college, and
are surrounded by the best social and religious influences.

The military exercises (which take no time from regular study hours)
are only intended to make boys healthy and strong, and to give them an
erect and graceful bearing.

The Academy is supplied with Chemical and Philosophical Apparatus for
Scientific Illustration; with Charts, Globes and Magic Lantern, to
illustrate Geography, Physiology, Natural History and Astronomy; with
new instruments for field work in Land Surveying and Civil
Engineering; with two telegraph instruments and batteries for practice
in Telegraphy, and other educational appliances for different branches
of study. Handsome nickel-plated rifles and accoutrements furnished by
the State.

All our arrangements are home-like, and conducive to health, comfort
and mental and moral development.

Total expenses for one year, including neat navy blue uniform, from
$175 to $190.

For twenty page catalogue, with view of buildings and grounds, address

                  JOSEPH KING, A. M., Principal,
      Or REV. ROWLAND DOGGETT, A. M., Associate,
                                    SUFFOLK, VA.






=Classics, Mathematics, Sciences and the Fine Arts!=


DISCIPLINE--Self-acting under Parental and Christian direction.
_Character_ is primary. _Conduct_ is resultant.

DOMESTIC ARRANGEMENTS.--Economical, substantial, home-like.

TERMS.--Reasonable. Both sexes admitted.

Sessions begin middle of September and end the following June. For
Catalogues and other information address

         =PROF. P. J. KERNODLE, A. M.,=



=Female Institute=




The Charter authorizes the Faculty to confer the regular Collegiate

The eighteenth annual session opened in September, 1887, and closes
the second Wednesday in June, 1888.

Students received at any time, but are advised to enter at the
beginning of a term.

Suffolk is one of the healthiest and most accessible towns in

The corps of teachers is efficient and experienced. The home training,
moral and attractive. Fine advantages in Music, Art and Languages, at
modern rates.

For catalogue apply to

                        =MISSES FINNEY,=
Box 146.                      SUFFOLK, VA.






The first session of this institution commenced its exercises
September 20th, 1887, with flattering prospects, being attended by
young ladies from Surry, Southampton, Isle of Wight and Nansemond

The large and commodious brick building, recently erected on Kilby
street, by Dr. Skiles, has been secured for the purpose.

The course of instruction is such as to prepare young ladies for the
various duties of life.

Special attention paid to moral and religious training, as well as
social cultivation, thereby rendering this a home-like school.

Terms very moderate.

For any desired information address

                        COL. WM. H. DARDEN,
                    MISS NOVELLA S. DARDEN,
         Or MISS LIZZIE J. KING, Associate.

       *       *       *       *       *

Transcriber's Notes:

Table of Contents does not appear in the original book. It has been
added for readers' convenience.

Some punctuation and typographical errors have been corrected to
reflect the author's intention.

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