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´╗┐Title: Narrative of Richard Lee Mason in the Pioneer West, 1819
Author: Mason, Richard Lee, -1824
Language: English
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Minor punctuation errors have been corrected without notice. A few
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   NARRATIVE OF RICHARD LEE MASON IN
   THE PIONEER WEST, 1819



   Heartman's Historical Series No. 6

   [Illustration: DR. RICHARD LEE MASON]



   NARRATIVE
   OF
   RICHARD LEE MASON
   IN THE PIONEER WEST
   1819

   One hundred and sixty copies printed for
   CHAS. FRED. HEARTMAN, New York City



   TO
   G. J. BARBER, Esq.
   this book is dedicated
   by
   Chas. Fred. Heartman



   Number____________of 150 copies printed
   on Fabriano hand-made paper.

   Also ten copies printed on Japan Vellum.



In the late fall and early winter of the year 1819 Dr. Richard Lee Mason
made a journey from Philadelphia to Illinois, through Pennsylvania,
Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana. Some of his adventures were remarkable, and
these, together with his observations on the country, the towns and the
people whom he encountered, were recorded in a diary kept by him, which
is now in the possession of his only surviving child, a daughter, who
resides in Jacksonville, Ill. Dr. Mason was a remarkably intelligent
observer, and his record of the people whom he encountered in Illinois
more than three-quarters of a century ago, not to mention his notes of
travel in other states, is unique and valuable.

Richard Lee Mason, whose diary is being published in THE RECORD, was
born in Port Tobacco, Md. In 1806 he was married to Mary Hodge Cochrane.
Seven children were born to them, of whom five lived to maturity. Soon
after his marriage he was graduated from the medical department of the
University of Pennsylvania. For a time he did military service in the
war of 1812, belonging to a cavalry company called "The White Horsemen."
For this service he was awarded a large tract of bounty land near Alton,
Ill. It was to locate and take possession of this land that the long
journey from Philadelphia to St. Louis was taken.

So pleased was Dr. Mason with his "promised land" and the west country,
that he determined to send for his family and follow his profession in
St. Louis. This he did, and he was held in high esteem, but he did not
live long to enjoy the reunion with his family, and the appreciation of
friends. The hardships of his trip and exposure to malarial atmosphere
had impaired his health, and he died in 1824, having submitted
gracefully to the heroic treatment of the day, which admitted of much
bleeding and blistering.

Dr. Mason was buried in a newly purchased masonic cemetery, some
distance beyond the St. Louis city limits, in ground that is now
Washington avenue, between Tenth and Eleventh streets. Subsequently this
ground was found too wet for the purpose designed, and Dr. Mason's body
was removed. It is of interest to know that he was the first mason
interred with the honors of the order in the state of Missouri. His
funeral was made the occasion of a grand procession, escorted by Capt.
Archibald Gamble's troop of cavalry.

       *       *       *       *       *

     This record was published some twenty years ago in a newspaper
     from which this reprint is made Decoration Day, 1915.

                                                    H.



I.--PHILADELPHIA TO STEUBENVILLE


Monday, Oct. 4, 1819.--Dr. Hall and myself left Philadelphia at 1
o'clock p. m. after taking an affectionate leave of friends and
acquaintances. Fair and pleasant weather, and the roads very fine in
consequence of a refreshing shower of rain which fell on the night
previous to our setting out. After traveling twenty-two miles and
passing some rich and well-cultivated farms we arrived at West Chester
at 7 o'clock. West Chester contains about 600 inhabitants, several
places of worship, a gaol, etc., etc. A man named Downey is confined in
the gaol of this place for debt. He was once in affluence, but from
misfortunes and some imprudence he became reduced in circumstances.
During his confinement he determined to starve himself to death, and for
seven days had refused nourishment of every description. Even the clergy
waited on him and endeavored to dissuade him from his rash
determination, offering him food of different kinds, but all without
avail. He was able to stand. No doubt one or two more days will end his
troubles. How long, O my country, will your cheeks continue to be
crimsoned by the blush that must follow the plunging an innocent and
unfortunate being, a debtor, in a dungeon, amongst murderers and
cut-throats?


Tuesday, Oct. 5.--Left West Chester at 7 o'clock a. m. Traveled a rough
road. Passed some travelers on foot migrating to the west who were able
to keep pace with us for a considerable distance. Breakfasted with an
old Dutchman who, for unpolished manners and even a want of common
politeness, surpassed in expectation even the wild men of Illinois. He
had been a tavernkeeper for forty years. Roads rough. Lands tolerable,
but so well farmed that the traveler is compelled in many places to
admire them. Arrived in Strasburg at 6 o'clock p. m. Neat little
village. Distance twenty-eight miles. Lodged at a private house near the
village. Was treated with great civility. I was extremely sore and
tired, riding on horseback. Saddlebags very heavy. A refreshing sleep
fitted me for the labors of the next day.


Wednesday, Oct. 6.--Left Mr. ---- at 6 o'clock a. m. The day pleasant.
Roads rough. Traveled nine miles and arrived at Lancaster, a large and
handsome inland town. Inhabitants principally German, very industrious
and good farmers. Buildings chiefly brick. Considerable business done
in this town. Left Lancaster, traveled ten miles and arrived at
Columbia, situated on the bold Susquehanna, but placed without much
taste or beauty. The bridge over the Susquehanna is the longest in the
United States. It is placed on regular pillars for one and a quarter
miles. Its beauty and strength reflect much credit on the designer and
those who executed the work. Its erection has added much to the comfort
and convenience of the public. Left Columbia 4 o'clock, and arrived at
Little York at 6 o'clock p. m. Here the lands are rich, the inhabitants
look healthy and appear happy and independent. The village is built with
much taste and judgment and appears to be a place of business. No lands
for sale for many years past in the neighborhood, but the supposed value
about $200 per acre. The eyes of the traveler light on this part of the
country with rapture. He would even venture to barter all his fair
prospects in the west country, collected from travelers, for one of
those beautiful farms to be seen every mile.


Thursday, Oct. 7.--Left Little York 6 o'clock a. m., traveled
twenty-nine miles and arrived at Gettysburg, a small village, at 5
o'clock p. m. The inhabitants very religious. Bad roads, owing to their
making a new turnpike. Nineteen miles to be finished in six weeks.
About 300 hands employed, principally Irishmen. Delightful weather for
traveling.


Friday, Oct. 8.--Left Gettysburg 5 o'clock a. m. Overtook and passed
many travelers bound to the east and west. The lands only tolerable.
Here we had the first view of the mountains, which present a romantic
and novel scene to all who have never traveled out of the confines of
large cities--or have never seen an object higher than a lamp-post or
lower than a gutter. Traveled fifteen miles to breakfast on the top of
the mountain. The landlord drunk, the fare bad and the house filled with
company who had more the appearance of penitentiary society than
gentlemen. Hard scuffle for breakfast. Ran an old hen down. "Moll" cut
off the head with an ax. An old sow and a starved dog made a grab before
the feathers were stripped. One got the head, the other the body. Then
all hands were mustered to join in the chase, landlord and "Moll" with
the broom, the hostler with his spade and all the boys with sticks and
stones. In about ten minutes after hard fighting, the materials for
breakfast were recovered, and in fifteen minutes the old hen made her
appearance on the breakfast table, large as life. Bad appetite. Made a
light breakfast and set out on our journey from the tavern at 10
o'clock a. m. Traveled over a rough, barren, mountainous and poor
country to McDowell's, a distance of thirty-six miles. Every traveler
must be astonished to find persons settled on a barren and mountainous
country, whilst there are in the United States so many million acres of
land of the first quality unoccupied and for sale at so low a rate that
a day laborer can in one year with prudence lay up enough to purchase
one quarter-section--160 acres.


Saturday, Oct. 9.--Left McDowell's 7 o'clock a. m. Traveled over an
extremely rugged, high and uneven range of mountains. The lands
generally so poor not worth cultivating. Arrived at Dennis', on the old
road, distance twenty-seven miles, near the Juniata. Breakfasted at
Camel Town, a small village, one-half the houses taverns. Crossed the
dreary and lofty mountains at 4 o'clock. This is called Sideling hill,
where a Mr. McClennan was robbed on the 3d instant by the notorious
villain and robber, D. Lewis, lately pardoned by Gov. Finley for
forgery. McClennan had no arms, nor did he make the least resistance,
yet one of Lewis' accomplices insisted on murdering him. He was robbed
about 9 o'clock in the morning, and in sight of the house he breakfasted
at. He was conducted to their camp, a little way from the road,
threatened with death if he spoke. Although the stage passed full of
passengers and several wagons in sight, he dared not give the alarm.
After keeping him in a state of suspense for six hours and rifling his
letters and pockets of a large sum of money, they left him. On the 8th
instant they were taken at a little village fifty miles off, and a large
amount of cash found on them--$2,800. The hardihood of this Lewis
surpasses the boldness of most robbers of his day. When he and his two
companions were found asleep they were handcuffed. One of the guards
laid his pistol on the table, whilst Lewis was surrounded by twenty
persons, and in a room. He knocked out the candle, seized the pistol,
flashed at the nearest person, made his way through the crowd, outran
them for fifty yards, and, when about to be overtaken, snapped a small
pistol which he had concealed at his nearest pursuer. He knocked down
the second with his handcuffs, then fell and was retaken. The poverty,
barrenness, unevenness of this part of the country perhaps was never
surpassed. But few homes on the road. Met a number of travelers and
overtook some. About 4 o'clock it commenced raining. Unpleasant
traveling. Wet to the skin. Arrived at the crossing at dark on the old
road two miles from the turnpike. Tavern kept by Dennis. Bad house; high
charges. Rainy night.


Sunday, Oct. 10.--Left Dennis' 6 o'clock a. m. Breakfasted at a little
village called Bloody Run. Great many travelers. Poor country. Reached
Bedford at 2 o'clock. Whilst our horses were resting we walked to the
celebrated springs, a distance of one and a half miles.

These springs are romantically situated, gushing from the foot of a
mountain. They are fitted up with great taste and beauty and offer to
the wearied citizen a treat of retirement and enjoyment. Two of the
houses are painted white. They are two stories high and 150 feet long.
These springs are said to possess important medicinal properties.
Arrived at Shellsburg at 6 o'clock, a distance of twenty-three miles.
The road stony and unpleasant. Well entertained and the charge moderate.


Monday, Oct. 11.--Left Shellsburg at 6 o'clock. Poor country, full of
mountains. Crossed the lofty Allegheny. High ridges, deep valleys and
steep precipices. Roads good for such steep mountains. Here one of the
most sublime and beautiful scenes presented itself my eyes ever
witnessed. After ascending the Allegheny nearly to the top, as far as
human sight could reach, in every direction, there were chains of
mountains, occasionally checkered by small farms and low bottoms,
covered with forest trees. The cleared or cultivated land has lost the
agreeable green, owing to the season, but we were amply compensated by
the variety of color, the beautiful tints from the scarlet to the
lighter shades, occasionally interspersed with evergreens, which were to
be found on the sides of the mountains amongst the great variety of
trees. Yellow, blue, green, orange, purple, black and all the shades
between formed ornamental curtains to those cloudlike heights. Poets and
painters would have envied us the sight. We continued our journey to the
top of the mountains. Breakfasted at Stolter's. Arrived at Wray's log
house at 6 o'clock, a distance of twenty-eight miles. Fare bad, charges
high, pretty females with glowing faces. After resting and having
supped, recollected that it was this day last week that we left home.
Drew a long sigh for those left behind and almost involuntarily turned
our heads to look for Philadelphia.


Tuesday, Oct. 12.--Left Wray's log house at 6 o'clock a. m. Country poor
and mountainous. Traveled thirty-five miles. Overtook some eastern and
southern people, men, women and children, all travelling to Illinois.
The roads a little improved, and the land a little better in quality.
The towering mountains disappearing and hills substituted in their
place. This being election day, passed a great many people on the road.
All merry. Great contention between the Dutch and Irish. Arrived at a
small village called ... where the election was held. Saw a shocking
fight, which ended in murder. A small man knocked down by his adversary
and his intestines literally stamped out. I pressed through the crowd,
and insisted on bleeding the unfortunate young man. Just as I was about
to open a vein his senses returned. He begged I would not bleed him, as
he had never been bled. I declined the operation. He died on the 14th
instant. Left the election and arrived at a trifling village called
Adams Town, where we overtook a number of travelers for the west. Left
Adams Town 6 o'clock a. m., and arrived at Pittsburg at 11 o'clock,
Hunters' tavern. In approaching this dirty hole I felt the height of
disappointment. Pittsburg is situated in a valley surrounded by hills
and mountains. It is placed a short distance above the junction of the
Allegheny and Monongahela rivers, to form the Ohio, over which there are
two neat and lengthy bridges, built on Wernwag's plan. In approaching
Pittsburg the traveler would suppose the town was laid in ashes by fire.
The surrounding heights, its low situation, the fogs from the rivers,
together with the universal use of stone coal for fires, added to the
smoke and dust from the large number of mills and manufactories, form a
cloud which almost amounts to night, and overspreads Pittsburg with the
appearance of gloom and melancholy. At this place we met a number of
travelers, rich and poor, Gen. Miller and suite, straggling play actors,
and others. Coal dust was well ground in until I might say with much
truth that I did not see a white man or woman in the place. The more you
wash, the blacker you get. I am confident that I carried some of this
coal dust 1,000 miles in spite of my efforts to get rid of it.
Convenient place for performing "Zanga" or "The Moor of Venice." Visited
all the manufactories and curiosities of the place. Their glass
manufactories seem to excel all others--a great treat to those who never
saw a bottle blown. Pittsburg in appearance suggests the idea of Moscow
smoking and in ruins. It is a town of considerable manufacturing
importance. Its inhabitants deserve fortune and a more salubrious
atmosphere to spend it in.


Thursday, Oct. 14.--Remained this day at Hunters'. Had my good little
horse shod. Careless smith pricked him and produced temporary lameness.


Friday, Oct. 15.--Left Pittsburg at 7 o'clock. Traveled over a poor and
hilly country for thirty-six miles. Passed a few travelers bound to
Ohio. Remarkable fact: About eight miles from Steubenville passed out of
Pennsylvania into Virginia, out of Virginia into Ohio in the short space
of two hours. Crossed the Ohio river after night at Steubenville.
Stopped at Jenkinson's, an intelligent, gentlemanly, hospitable man.
Visited the market. Beef, good, 6-1/4 cents a pound.


Saturday, Oct. 16.--I omitted to mention that we, on the mountains, fell
in with Mr. Cooper of Philadelphia, who has been our companion for
several days. We had to part with him today, which we did with much
reluctance, as he proved a very agreeable companion. Rainy day, fatigued
by the broken country, determined to spend this day in Steubenville, a
busy little village on the bank of the Ohio. Purchased a plain Jersey
wagon and harness for $60.



II.--THROUGH OHIO AND KENTUCKY


Sunday, Oct. 18.--Myself and friend proceeded on our journey. We arrived
at Siers, a distance of thirty miles, at dusk, much relieved by the
change from our horses to the wagon. The roads were muddy, the weather
drizzly and the country hilly. Buildings indifferent. The land very
fertile and black. Trees uncommonly tall. Passed the little village of
Cadis. In this country a tavern, a store, a smith shop and two or three
cabins make a town. Passed ten or fifteen travelers. Great contrast
between the quality of the land from Chambersburg to Pittsburg, and that
which we have already traveled over from Steubenville in Ohio.


Monday, Oct. 19.--Left Siers at 6 o'clock a. m. The morning fair and
cold. Roads extremely rough. Country fertile, but hilly. Log cabins,
ugly women and tall timber. Passed a little flourishing village called
Freeport, settled by foreigners. Yankee Quakers and mechanics.
Remarkable, with two taverns in the village, there was nothing fit to
drink, not even good water. The corn fields in the woods among dead
trees and the corn very fine. We arrived at Adairs, a distance of
twenty-seven miles, at 6 o'clock p. m. Passed some peddlers and a few
travelers. Value of land from Steubenville to Adairs from $2 to $30 per
acre. Lots in Freeport, eighteen months old, from $30 to $100. This day
being Monday and the end of the second week since leaving home, our
feelings were warm and our hearts beat high for those that are dear and
behind us.


Tuesday, Oct. 20.--Left Adairs at 6 o'clock a. m. The country extremely
hilly and not quite so fertile. Independent people in log cabins. They
make their own clothes, sugar and salt, and paint their own signs. They
picture a lion like a dove, a cat like a terrapin, and Gen. Washington
like a bird's nest. Salt wells and sugar orchards are common in this
country. Steep hills, frightful precipices, little or no water, and even
a scarcity of new whisky. Ragged and ignorant children and but little
appearance of industry. Met a number of travelers inclining to the east,
and overtook a larger number than usual bound to the land of promise.
The evening being rainy, the roads soon became muddy. We arrived at
Silver's Travelers' Rest at 6 o'clock. Distance twenty-nine miles.
Passed a little village called Cambridge.


Wednesday, Oct. 21.--Left Silver's at 7 o'clock and breakfasted at
Zanesville, a very growing and flourishing village. It is situated on
the Muskingum river, which is navigable for flat-bottomed boats.
Zanesville is a lively and busy little town. There are several mills and
manufactories in and at the place. Neat bridges and a canal cut at great
labor and expense through a solid rock for a considerable distance, by
which very important water power is gained. Left Zanesville and
traveled twenty-three miles to a village called Somerset. The country
very hilly and the lands not so fertile as those met with near Cadis.
Rain continues. Roads extremely slippery. Met and overtook about sixty
travelers, many on foot--Scotch, Irish, and Yankees. Oats, 25 cents;
butter, 12-1/2 cents; brandy, 50 cents a half-pint; hay, $8 a ton.


Thursday, Oct. 22.--Left Somerset at 7 o'clock a. m. Dull, drizzly
weather. Deep roads. Horse lame in consequence of bad shoeing in
Pittsburg. Heart a little heavy. Thought of home. Rallied again and
arrived at a neat little town at the foot of a hill. It is called New
Lancaster. Distance, eighteen miles. Stopped on the road for refreshment
and found a Pennsylvania family whose kindness and hospitality deserve
mention, as we had been denied water and sometimes other refreshments by
the almost wild inhabitants west of Pittsburg to this place. Some brick
houses and a few neat frame dwellings to be seen in the last two days'
ride.


Friday, Oct. 23--Left New Lancaster at 8 o'clock and arrived at
Chillicothe, a distance of thirty-four miles. Passed some elegant farms
and some neat dwellings. The people appear more polite and better
educated. Chillicothe is situated on the Sciota, a stream navigable for
flat-bottomed boats. The bridge over the Sciota is long, substantial and
handsome. Chillicothe is a town of considerable business for its size.
One of the branches of the United States bank is at this place. The bank
was entered lately by a man named Harper, acting under the authority of
the state, and a large amount of money was taken out. Harper and his
attendants in gaol. Mob threatens to release them. Bank of the United
States and all its branches are much abused by the inhabitants and some
very impudent threats made. When the bank was entered by Harper no
resistance was made by its officers. Passed Tarlton and Kingston, two
inconsiderable villages.


Saturday, Oct. 24.--Left Chillicothe at 7 o'clock a. m. Arrived at
Sinking Springs, a little village, after traveling a distance of
thirty-three miles. Passed over some rich bottoms, neat farms and very
fertile prairies. A few poor ridges, part level, part mountainous.
People look healthy, but are extremely impudent and lazy. Game is
abundant deer, turkeys, partridges and squirrels.


Sunday, Oct. 25.--Left Sinking Springs at 7 o'clock a. m. Traveled to
West Union, a little village. Distance twenty-three miles. Lands of
three qualities, broken, barren and mountainous. Miserable log huts.
Inhabitants more polite and civil. Crossed Brush creek at the foot of a
small mountain. At this place met some travelers, among them some
Philadelphians. The inhabitants in this part of the country generally
emigrants. Real Ohios, real savages in appearance and manners, destitute
of every degree of politeness. Not uncommon for a man to follow three or
four occupations. For example, John Noble follows both tailoring and
saddlering. My barber is also a waiter on the table, assistant cook and
hostler. In this town one man is a lawyer, a merchant and an apothecary.


Monday, Oct. 26.--Left West Union at 10 o'clock a. m. My friend having
business here, we lost one day. Traveled over a poor, hilly and
mountainous country for seventeen miles and arrived at Limestone.
Crossed the Ohio in a horse-boat and landed at Maysville, Ky., at 5
o'clock p. m., bidding a willing adieu to Ohio, not leaving behind a
single individual whom we ever wished to see again. I must confess from
the many favorable representations made of the habits, manners and state
of society and quality of the lands in the state of Ohio, I was prepared
to meet a different soil and a different people from those just left.
Before I take a final leave of Ohio I must mention an occurrence that
transpired a few days previous to our arrival in New Lancaster. Ten or
fifteen friendly Indians were traveling from near New York to visit
their red brethren in the west. They were poor, but peaceable and well
behaved. When they were within about twenty-five miles of New Lancaster
three of the Indians were unable to keep up with the leading party, a
man, a young squaw and a child. Those unoffending and unfortunate people
were waylaid by three monsters in human shape, ruffians belonging to the
neighborhood. They lay hid until those three Indians got in a rake, and
then fired upon them, intending to kill all at the same shot. The child
and man escaped unhurt, but the unfortunate female had her thigh broken
and received a ball in the abdomen. No hope was entertained of her
recovery. The villains were taken and committed to prison. The only
reason given by them for committing this extraordinary outrage was that
during the war the Indians had murdered in battle some of their
connections or relatives.


Tuesday, Oct. 27.--Maysville is a growing little village, situated on
the Ohio and reaching in a southerly direction to the foot of a small
mountain. Left Maysville at 6 o'clock a. m. and arrived four miles
beyond the Blue Licks at 5 o'clock, a distance of thirty miles. Passed
Washington, May Licks and some smaller villages. Some good land, some
very poor. Country mountainous and stony. Great difficulty in obtaining
meat or drink during the day, although taverns are plenty. The Blue
Licks are rude, uncultivated, stony barrens, poor beyond description and
extremely difficult to travel over. Passed several dead horses on the
road. An infectious disease called the sore tongue had produced their
deaths, and was to be found at every stable for hundreds of miles. Men,
cows, hogs and sheep were subject to it. Being tired, hungry and
disappointed in the appearance of the country, I retired to bed early.
On the 25th inst. the ground was covered with snow. Little or no rain
had fallen in this part of the country for near six months. Many creeks
nearly dry. Great difficulty in obtaining water to drink. Passed some
salt springs and wells. Salt $2.50 per bushel, coffee 50 cents per
pound. Those prices will sound very high to the merchants of
Philadelphia.


Wednesday, Oct. 28.--Left Artis' tavern, thirty miles from Maysville, at
7 o'clock a. m. Traveled over a very fertile country, a distance of
seventeen miles, and arrived at a neat little town called Paris. Passed
some handsome houses. Saw many negroes. They were ragged, foolish, and,
in appearance, miserable. Paris, as a town, has some claim to beauty.
It is placed on an eminence. Many of the houses are brick and of
handsome shape. There is constantly that stir and bustle which denotes a
place of business. The country around is fertile, and, although there is
no navigable stream near, the eye is prevented from falling too heavily
on the neighboring fields and valleys by the winding of a small stream,
upon which there is a busy-looking mill.

    "How often have I paused on every charm--
     The sheltered cot, the cultivated farm,
     The never-failing brook, the busy mill,
     The decent church that topped the neighboring hill."

In this little town we met a hearty welcome. The inhabitants are polite
and hospitable. The singular variety which is to be found in the human
family by a traveler is difficult to be described. Indeed, every hundred
miles would take a small volume. Straggling play-actors and tightrope
dancers had found their way to Paris, besides other amusements which
were to be found in this sprightly little town, which had a tendency to
make our time pass very agreeably. On Wednesday night at 11 o'clock, I
was called to visit Miss Craughan, sister of Col. Craughan, an old
acquaintance. I found her dangerously ill with quinsy. Large bleedings
and some other medicines gave relief. Was compelled to leave her and
proceed on my journey. Heard of her recovery. Interesting lady.


Thursday, Oct. 29.--Left Thorgmorton's tavern at 9 o'clock a. m. Good
roads; fair weather; generous people; good land and neat dwellings.
Dined in Lexington, a town of considerable size, and a place of great
business. Saw large numbers of country people dealing in stores. Met and
overtook but few travelers the last three or four days. Traveled this
day thirty-two miles to Cole's. The lands not so fertile and a little
hilly.


Friday, Oct. 30.--Left Cole's at 6 o'clock a. m. Breakfasted at
Frankfort, the seat of the government of Kentucky. It is situated in a
deep valley near a stream, surrounded with high and uneven hills, and at
a distance, from its shape and situation, it resembles a garden laid off
in squares. A very handsome bridge, neatly painted, is thrown across the
Kentucky river, which, together with some public buildings erected with
considerable taste, assist much in enlivening and adding beauty and
elegance to the appearance of the town. Left Frankfort at 9 o'clock.
Crossed the Kentucky river, which was only three feet wide, owing to the
uncommon drought. Foot passengers were crossing on a rail. Passed
through Shelbyville, a small village. Many creeks, rivers and branches
entirely dry. Every animal suffering for water. The farmers compelled to
cart a sufficient quantity to support life, many miles. No water to be
obtained in the village for our horses. Fortunately we were enabled to
purchase some on the road. Traveled twenty-nine miles to Smith's. Lands
rich. Country broken on the old road. Deep valleys. Frightful
precipices. Beech woods. Large trees. Good corn. Warm and dry weather.


Saturday, Oct. 31.--Left Smith's at 7 o'clock a. m. Traveled over a very
rich and flat country. Passed through Middletown, and at 4 o'clock
arrived at Louisville, after traveling twenty-eight miles. This day
being Saturday, and having met some old friends and acquaintances, a
party was made up to visit the Louisville theater. Philadelphia being
the theater for all great performers, curiosity was on tip-toe to view
the players of Louisville. The theater is a neat little building. It was
but thinly attended, owing to the pressure of the times. The play was
"Wives as They Were and Maids as They Are," Mr. Drake and Mrs. Grochong
supporting the principal characters. Their persons, features, voices and
gestures were fine, appearing to possess the nicest feelings and
tenderest sympathies, and, in my opinion, they were well suited to a
better stage. The play better performed than expected. Indeed, I may say
well performed, if I may be permitted to add there was more than one of
the actors who was unfeeling, unmeaning, made of wood and more like a
gate-post than an animated being. This had the happiest of effects, for
after shedding tears of grief at interesting parts of the play they were
kept flowing with laughter at those ridiculous performers making tragedy
into comedy. Louisville is a flourishing town immediately on the banks
of the Ohio. The town and business principally confined to one street.
The inhabitants are polite, hospitable and live fast.


Sunday, Nov. 1.--This day was spent in visiting a family near
Louisville, friends of my youthful days, whom I had not seen for
eighteen years. As I approached the dwelling, happy days that are never
to return, pleasant hours, youthful, happy and blooming faces, joyous
scenes and many dear moments, flashed suddenly across my mind. But judge
of my disappointment on meeting the remains of this amiable family. I
will not attempt to express feelings that in the human language know no
description. Mrs. M----, a truly good woman, had been borne to that
shore "from whence no traveler returns." Her daughter, who was the
admiration of all that knew her, soon followed. The remains of the
family which eighteen years ago was young and fashionable, elegant and
beautiful, had become sedate, crooked, wrinkled and even gray. To
witness the ravages of time produced a gloom which lasted several days.
I took an affectionate leave of them, never expecting to see them again.


Tuesday, Nov. 3.--Remained in Louisville Monday and part of today. Left
Aleen's the 2d. Passed through Shipping Port, on the bank of the Ohio,
two and one-half miles below Louisville. A very promising little
village. Twelve or thirteen steamboats lying at this place aground,
owing to the unusual drought. Curiosity induced me to go on board the
largest steamboat in the world, lying at this place. She is called the
United States, and is owned by a company of gentlemen. I have taken down
her dimensions: Length of keel, 165 feet 8 inches; depth of hold, 11
feet 3 inches; breadth of beam and girder, 56 feet; length on deck, 176
feet 8 inches; breadth of beam without girder, 37 feet. This mammoth
boat has eight boilers and elegant accommodations for a large number of
passengers. Many of the steamships lying at this place are built on
improved plans and are very handsome. We crossed the Ohio at a point
where it is three-quarters of a mile wide. Passed through New Albany,
Ind., a little village inhabited by tavernkeepers and mechanics.
Traveled to Miller's, a distance of six miles over the knobs. Country
very much broken. Some steep hills and sugar-loaf knobs. The woods being
on fire, a scene truly sublime presented itself at night. The lands
indifferent. Weather warm and dry. Passed many travelers bound to the
west, and met three or four wagons with families returning from the
promised land. Slept in a house without glass in the windows and no
fastenings to the doors. The inhabitants impudent and lazy beyond
example. Supped on cabbage, turnips, pickles, beets, beefsteak made of
pickled beef, rye coffee and sage tea. The people of Indiana differ
widely from Kentuckians in habits, manners and even dialect. Whilst
hospitality, politeness and good sense characterize Kentuckians,
ignorance, impudence and laziness has stamped the Indianians.



III.--A BROTHERHOOD OF CUTTHROATS


Wednesday, Nov. 3, 1819.--Left Miller's tavern at 7 o'clock and arrived
at Squire Chambers' at 6 o'clock, after traveling a distance of
thirty-six miles. Passed a trifling village, Fredericksburg; also
Greenville. A poor, barren, deserted country. For ten miles, stony,
poor, mountainous and naked. Land a little better. Miserable huts, poor
accommodations, cabin taverns, and high charges. Crossed Blue river.
Every man his own hostler and steward. Plenty of game--deer, turkeys,
etc. Inhabitants generally possess a smaller share of politeness than
any met with before.


Thursday, Nov. 4.--Left Squire Chambers' (who is only member of the
assembly, by the by) at 7 o'clock a. m. Arrived at Lewis' at 6 o'clock,
a distance of twenty-five miles. Passed a little village called Peola.
The fact that this part of Indiana is a late purchase by the United
States, accounts for its towns being so inconsiderable and being made up
of log houses. The lands here are very fertile, the country mountainous
and broken. Traveled twenty-five miles through woods and passed but four
houses. With great difficulty obtained water for our horses. In the
midst of one of those long and thick pieces of woods, we passed one of
the most miserable huts ever seen--a house built out of slabs without a
nail; the pieces merely laid against a log pen such as pigs are commonly
kept in, a dirt floor, no chimney. Indeed, the covering would be a bad
one in the heat of summer, and, unfortunately, the weather at this time
is very severe for the season of the year. This small cabin contained a
young and interesting female and her two shivering and almost starving
children, all of whom were bare-headed and with their feet bare. There
was a small bed, one blanket and a few potatoes. One cow and one pig
(who appeared to share in their misfortunes) completed the family,
except for the husband, who was absent in search of bread. Fortunately
for the dear little children, we had in our carriage some bread, cheese,
toddy, etc., which we divided with them with much heartfelt
satisfaction. In this situation the woman was polite, smiled and
appeared happy. She gave us water to drink, which had been refused to us
by persons on the road several times during the day. What a lesson for
many of the unhappy ladies that inhabit large cities, whose husbands are
slaves to procure all the luxuries of life, a fine house, carpeted
floors, elegant furniture, fine carriages and horses, gay and cheerful
company, and a smooth brick pavement or marble to walk upon! Yet they
are too often dissatisfied, and are sighing for that which cannot be
obtained. Could they but contrast their situation with this ragged,
suffering and delicate female, they would have just cause to be happy,
and would be under the strong conviction that Providence does not
interfere with the common affairs of this life. Traveled over excellent
lands not taken up which could be cleared with very little labor.


Friday, Nov. 5.--Left Mr. Sears' at 7 o'clock, after having slept in a
cabin with three wagons. My friend and self treated civilly by the
family. The house not close enough to keep the cats and dogs out.
Traveled over an extremely mountainous country to White river (east
fork), where a town was laid out last May. Promising little place.
Several houses building together, with the industrious appearance of saw
and grist mills, give it the appearance of a place of business. Little
town is called Hindoostan. In this part of the country the woods are
large, the hills bold and lofty, and there is an abundance of bears,
wolves, wildcats, panthers, etc. Thousands of acres of land of the first
quality are unsettled and to be purchased at from $2.50 to $5 an acre.
In crossing White river we had to descend a very steep precipice above
the falls, in effecting which my friend, Dr. Hill, who happened to be
driving our little carriage, was thrown headforemost into the river.
Part of our baggage followed him, and the carriage was very near
upsetting. However, we forded this elegant stream, which is 200 yards
wide, without much difficulty. After halting a few minutes on the bank
to examine our bruises and adjust our baggage, we proceeded on our
journey. Traveled a distance of eighteen miles to the west branch of
White river, which we forded without risk, the bottom being hard and
rocky. Traveled over a fertile country four miles to Steenz, making a
distance of thirty-four miles. At this dirty hovel, with one room and a
loft, formed by placing boards about three inches apart, ten travelers
slept. There were thirteen in family, besides two calves, making in all,
with my friend and self, twenty-three whites, one negro and two calves.


Saturday, Nov. 6.--Supped on pumpkins, cabbages, rye coffee without
sugar, bones of venison, salted pickles, etc.--all in the midst of
crying children, dirt, filth and misery. The last entertainment made the
first serious unfavorable impression on my mind relative to the west.
Traveled six miles to breakfast and to entertain an idea of starving. No
water, no food fit to eat, dusty roads and constantly enveloped in a
cloud of smoke, owing to the woods and prairies being on fire for 100
miles. Breakfasted on sound provisions for a rarity and felt a little
refreshed. This part of Indiana is rich and valuable. Corn and oats 50
cents a bushel. My good little horse being sick, my usual flow of
spirits commenced a retreat. However, they were soon rallied again after
a few long sighs for those that are dear and far from me. Arrived at
Vincennes, on the Wabash, a bold and handsome river, the size of the
Schuylkill. Vincennes, an ancient town, is small, ugly and meanly
built, although beautifully situated. Its inhabitants are French,
Americans, Indians--and, in short, persons from the four corners of the
earth. Indian mounds or small round hills are common in this country.
They are believed to be the work of art, and from bones and so forth
which have been found in them are supposed to have been receptacles for
the dead, when none but the footsteps of the savage was to be traced in
these forests. We are now within a few miles of the Shakers and
Harmonites, whom we intend to visit and give a correct account of. Very
much revived this day, having lived well. Necessity is often the mother
of invention. Yolk of egg, flour and water mixed is a good substitute
for milk, and is often used in coffee in this country. Rye is frequently
substituted for coffee and sage tea in place of the imperial.


Sunday, Nov. 7.--Left Vincennes at 7 o'clock. Crossed the meandering
stream, Wabash, into Illinois. This river abounds in fish, ducks and
geese. Traveled thirty-seven miles over rich and elegant prairies.
Passed but very few houses in this distance. Our poor horses and
ourselves almost famished for water. Traveled eighteen miles without a
drop, and then compelled to use it out of a stagnant pool, where
thousands of insects considered the water private property. Arrived at
McDermott's, on the Fox river. Obtained a list of cutthroats and
murderers, whose names are as follows on the list: Gatewood, Rutherford,
Grimberry, Cain, Young, Portlethwaite, etc. This chain of villains
extended for eighty miles through all the dreary and lonesome prairies.
We were informed that when they were not engaged in robbing or murdering
they were very industriously employed in manufacturing bank notes, which
they imposed on travelers at every opportunity. It may be worthy of
remark that all the country for forty miles around where these banditti
have taken possession belongs to the United States. For the convenience
of travelers, a new road has been made through this country, instead of
going by Shawneetown, and those villains have posted themselves along
the road under the name of tavernkeepers, watching for their prey
whenever it may pass. Indeed, I conceive it impossible for any man who
has cash enough to make him worth killing to travel this road alone.
Called to see Gatewood, the first man on the list of cutthroats. He was
from home. Saw his wife, a handsome, young dejected-looking woman, who
appeared very uneasy at her husband's being inquired for by a man almost
as well armed and not much out of the style of Robinson Crusoe. Saw a
bloody cravat on the end of the log of which his house was built. We
intend to call and see the balance of the fraternity out of curiosity.
Traveled over prairies just burned and through woods on fire. Smoke and
dust, together with the want of water, almost produced suffocation,
families sending miles for water to drink. The prairies extend for
miles, indeed, as far as the eye can reach, level as a plank floor. The
soil generally is a bed of manure, the land uncultivated and without any
person to claim it. The few inhabitants found in this part of the
country are impolite, lazy and disobliging. Passed many families
traveling to the west, and met a few bound to the east. There has been
no rain in this part of the country for near seven months. Many of the
farmers have lost stock in consequence of the drought. A few years ago
this part of Illinois was inhabited only by the rude and uncivilized
savage. The scalping knife and tomahawk, graced their bark dwellings and
were often used in the most inhuman manner. The murdering of women and
children whom they viewed as their enemies was not an uncommon
occurrence. But who could have believed that when the red men of the
forest had retired from this beautiful country their places would have
been supplied by persons whose characters would be softened by the
appellation of savage--penitentiary outcasts and murderers? Who could
believe that a human being could be so depraved as to fall upon a
defenseless and unoffending traveler and murder him under the pretence
of sheltering him from the storm and giving him a hearty welcome at his
table? Who could believe that even devils in human shape could cut the
throats of two traveling strangers to obtain two watches, $80 and a pair
of saddle-bags? I shudder at the blackness of the crime. It occurred
only yesterday, and we are at this moment near the spot where the horrid
deed was committed. Two other murders have lately been committed near
this place. A stranger was found hung on a tree and a traveler was
murdered near Shawneetown by the same men whose names have been
mentioned.

During last summer a traveler was found murdered near one of those
prairies, but he had been dead so long it was impossible to ascertain
who he was.


Monday, Nov. 8.--Left Dermott's at 7 o'clock. Crossed a prairie five
miles wide. Met with a new species of game called prairie hens. They are
very much like the pheasant, and I am of the opinion they are the
grouse. Plenty of deer and turkeys. Crossed a prairie twelve miles broad
and arrived at the house of Rutherford, the second man on the cutthroat
list. We had time enough to pass this house, but having a list of
desperadoes, and being disappointed in seeing Gatewood, curiosity
induced us to spend the night. This was a piece of comedy for
information which was near ending in tradegy. Our traveling party
consisted of four persons, Dr. Hill, myself and two young men,
strangers, from Kentucky. As we traveled in a little carriage, and with
a pair of horses, we placed our fellow-travelers' baggage with our own,
which made a considerable show. On our arrival a man dressed like a
Quaker pretended to be hostler until he ascertained the quantity of our
baggage. I recognized him as an engraver from Philadelphia, who had been
a candidate for the penitentiary for forgery. We called for the
landlord, and were informed by Mrs. Rutherford that he was from home,
but we could be well entertained and made comfortable in every way. Mrs.
R. is a young and beautiful woman, possessing a delicacy of features and
an elegance of shape, but seldom to be met with in those cabins of
misery. The lily and the rose appeared to vie with each other to gain
the ascendency on her cheeks. Her teeth were even, beautifully white and
well placed. Her hair curled in irregular ringlets down her neck. She
smiled on all. Her eyes were quick, black, sparkling and full of
impudence and bold and disagreeable looks.

    "O woman, if by simple wile
       Thy soul has strayed from honor's track,
     'Tis mercy only can beguile,
       By gentle ways, the wanderer back.
     Go, go, be innocent and live!
       The tongues of men may wound thee sore,
     But heaven in pity can forgive,
       And bids thee go and sin no more."

We spent our time very agreeably for about two hours. My friend was so
much fascinated with this western beauty that I began to conclude his
common stock of gallantry had much improved since his arrival in this
fertile country. Indeed, they appeared mutually pleased and the fleeting
hours seemed almost too short for the full enjoyment of each other's
conversation. Myself and fellow-travelers enjoyed their mirth and jokes.
Little did my friend dream a frightful cloud was hovering over him which
threatened to darken all his bright prospects. We were suddenly startled
by the shrill Indian warwhoop, which proceeded from a thicket near the
house. It may not be amiss to mention here this warwhoop was what my
friend had never heard before. It appeared to pass over his frame like
an electrical shock, and from his being an elegant man, six feet high,
and in a lover's attitude, he was reduced to about three feet in height,
with knees as high as his chin and the points of his shoulders higher
than his head. In this situation he prespired very freely. We were not
kept long in a state of suspense. Rutherford and three sturdy fellows,
armed, entered the house, all half-drunk. They took no notice of us, but
eyed our baggage, which was heaped on the floor. They drank freely of
whisky, and appeared in fine spirits. As one of our companions was
passing a small log house, in which food was kept, he heard men
whispering, which he informed me of. I immediately got a candle.
Searched the house, but did not see any person. However, as I was
returning, I found two tall men hid in the chimney, who, on being spoken
to, went into the house, making six all together, and most of them very
tall. They were armed with rifles and butcher knives, without coats or
hats, their sleeves rolled up, their beards long and their faces
smutted, such as the bravos are represented in the play of "The
Foundling of the Forest." We had been anxious to see some of these
banditti, but we did not contemplate seeing so large a company or having
so full a visit from the fraternity. Rutherford disguised himself and
denied that he was landlord, or that he lived at the place. It was not
long before we were informed of the business of those devil-like looking
visitors. Some of their private consultations were overheard. Robbery
and murder was contemplated. They would frequently whisper and pinch
each other, wink, eye us, then hunch each other and give a number of
private signals which we did not understand. One observed "the trap door
was too open," "that the boards were too wide apart," in a loud tone of
voice. The reply was: "By G----, it should be screwed up tight enough
before morning!" They often mentioned the names of the cut-throats we
had on our list as their particular friends and associates. They also
spoke of the two men who had been murdered the day before, and
acknowledged that they ate their last meal in the house we were in.
Laughed at the manner in which the throats of one of these unfortunate
men was cut, and many other circumstances which would swell this
memorandum too much. Convinced us beyond a doubt they were of the
banditti that had been described to us. Our own safety now became a
matter of serious consideration, and our party of four held a
consultation after the robbers' consultation was over (which was held in
the dark a little way from the house). The two strangers that we
overtook on the road were firm-spirited, and declared we would die side
by side or conquer if attacked. I am almost ashamed to add that a man
whom I have named as friend in my memorandum, whom I have known for
years, and with whom I had traveled 1,000 miles, expressed himself to
the following effect: "By G----, instead of joining us he would take
care of himself!" and insinuated that he would join the strongest side,
and immediately went into the house and placed himself among the
ruffians.



IV.--ESCAPE FROM THE ROBBER BAND


Monday, Nov. 8, 1819.--The disappointment experienced from the unmanly
conduct of Dr. Hill had a happy effect on our little company. It bound
us more firmly and nearer together, and, I may add with truth, almost
fitted us for the field of battle. The hour of 9 o'clock had now
arrived, the night uncommonly dark and cloudy. On our going into the
house one of the strangers went into the yard and gave the Indian
warwhoop three times very loud. About 10 o'clock they took their six
rifles, went into the yard with a candle and shot them off one by one,
snuffing the candle at forty yards every shot. They then loaded afresh,
primed and picked their flints. A large horn was then taken from the
loft and blown distinctly three times very loud. All those signals
(which we had been told of) brought no more of the company. They then
dispatched two of their own party, who were gone until 12 o'clock. They
stated to their comrades "they could not be had." It may be readily
imagined, after what we had overhead, seeing such preparations and
observing many of their private signals, being warned of our danger
previous to stopping at the house, together with the recent and cruel
murders which had been committed, in a strange country, where every man
made and executed his own law to suit himself--I say it cannot be a
matter of wonder that our situation began to put on a character of the
most unpleasant kind. However, we were well armed, having pistols,
dirks, knives and a gun, and were determined, if necessity should
require, to be murdered in the house, and not to be dragged into the
woods, there to have our throats cut. It being a little after 12 o'clock
the bravos proposed to take a drink and lie down on the floor to rest,
which they did, and upon their arms. The house being very small they
almost covered the floor of one room. The small back room was intended
for us. There was no door to the partition, and the logs were about six
inches apart. We were under some apprehension that in case of an attack
they would be able to fire on us through the logs. After they were all
still, myself and companions lay down in reach of each other, our
clothes on, our dirks unsheathed, the guards off our pistols and three
extra bullets in our gun, and agreed if a signal was given to fight the
good fight. I had like to have forgotten Dr. Hill. He had placed
himself on the far side of the bed upon which I lay and had got out of
the wall a small log, but not of sufficient size in case of accident to
allow him to make his escape. Although the evening was cool the drops of
sweat stood upon his forehead as large as peas. He complained of great
pain about the kidneys and that his head hung loose upon his shoulders.
Knowing those fellows were expert at cutting throats, from their
conversation on that subject, I determined to put them to as much
trouble as possible. Took off my cravat and twisted my silk handkerchief
and tied it round my neck. In this situation we spent the night. We lay
on our arms ready for the word. But little sleep. When they would move
we did the same. If they coughed we followed the example. In this
dreadful way the night was spent. I have no hesitation of declaring that
if we had not been well armed or kept a strict watch we should have been
robbed and murdered, and nothing but the fear of our killing a part of
them kept their hands off. Could they have added to their numbers by
their signals, our fate would have been certain. It is probable the
balance of their party was engaged in some other enterprise. About the
break of day the signal of rising was given by our visitors. We were on
our feet in a minute, and our hands upon our arms. Three of them
examined their rifles, and, after having some conversation with their
comrades, proceeded up the road we had to travel. I presumed to place
themselves behind trees and fire upon us without the risk of being
killed. We lost no time in placing our baggage in our carriage and
getting ready to leave this robbers' den. After paying our bill and
being ready for a start, one of the brotherhood begged I would take my
saddlebags into the house again; that he wanted a dose of medicine for
one who was very sick. This I declined doing, suspecting his object, and
advised him to call on some person with whom he was better acquainted.
We then bid adieu to Mr. Rutherford, his family, the banditti and the
edge of the twelve-mile prairie. We had not traveled more than half a
mile when we fell in with four travelers going to St. Louis, which
increased our number to eight persons, and placed us out of danger. In
making a memorandum of this unpleasant transaction, many important
circumstances and some facts have been omitted. To have given a full
detail would have taken more time than is in my power to devote at this
time.


Tuesday, Nov. 9.--Traveled forty-two miles from Rutherford's to
McCart's, a tolerably respectable house, which is a rare thing in this
part of the country. Large prairies, one twenty-two miles wide. Rich
land, but of little value, the proportion of timber being too small,
water being scare and its situation remote. Crossed the Okaw or
Kaskaskia river and two branches of Silver creek on the 10th and 11th
days of the month; distance, fifty-four miles. Arrived at the town of
Illinois, on the Mississippi, a little village opposite St. Louis. We
crossed part of the American bottom, which has the appearance of once
having been the bed of some lake or river. It abounds in marine
substances. It is bounded by high and rocky cliffs from 100 to 300 feet
in height. The marks washed in these cliffs centuries ago at high and
low water mark are plain to be seen. The American bottom is about 120
miles long and from two to seven miles in breadth; contains some creeks
and lakes; is perfectly level, without a stump or root. Soil, ten feet
deep, black as ink, very light, and I think I may add without the fear
of contradiction that it is the richest land in the world. The town of
Illinois is on part of the American bottom, which is low, flat and
unhealthy. Bilious fevers in all their various shapes are to found in
almost every family for forty miles around. More pale and
deathly-looking faces seen in the last two days than I have even seen in
Philadelphia in two months. Crossed over the bold river Illinois to St.
Louis and bid adieu for the present to Illinois. So far much
disappointed in the inhabitants, but not in the land. Illinois is the
hiding place for villains from every part of the United States, and,
indeed, from every quarter of the globe. A majority of the settlers have
been discharged from penitentiaries and gaols or have been the victims
of misfortune or imprudence. Many of those will reform, but many, very
many, are made fit for robbery and murder. High as our country stands
above others for its perfection, yet it has curses which at times
threaten to sink it on a level with the most disgraced. Slavery and
penitentiaries have done more mischief than war or disease. I hope to
see the day when there will be universal emancipation, when the
penitentiaries of the United States will be changed from schools of vice
to schools of virtue. Then will the United States be the admiration of
all the nations of the world, and he that is born within their bounds
will be proud of the land that gave him birth.


Friday, Nov. 12.--Remained this day in St. Louis. The town is not very
handsome or large. The streets are narrow and irregular, and the houses,
with a few exceptions, meanly built. It appears the attention of the
inhabitants has been turned solely toward making money. Taste and art as
yet have been much neglected. Visited the Roman chapel. Although
unfinished it is a spacious, handsome building. The new bank is of
modern shape, in appearance, a very neat little building. Visited the
Indian museum or grand council or war chamber, which contains many
specimens of curious workmanship, and a number of curiosities presented
to the government by the chiefs of different nations. Visited the
theater. This is only a temporary building. It is placed in the middle
of a duck puddle, is finished in the coarsest manner and of the meanest
materials. The decorations inside are few. The gallery will contain
about ten persons and the house 200. No danger of fire. The water rises
in the pit and in case of emergency a tolerably brisk fellow might run
head foremost through any part of it. In ridiculously ugly and slight
appearance it surpasses all ever seen or heard of. It is not half so
large or half so good as the common horse-stables in Philadelphia.


Saturday, Nov. 13.--Left St. Louis at 6 o'clock a. m. Crossed the
Mississippi to Illinois on my way to Kaskaskia. Passed a small village
called Cahokia, a miserable, dirty little hole. But very few good
houses. Inhabitants half French, half Indian, retaining part of the
manners of both. The French language is generally spoken, but not in its
purity. For eight or ten miles we traveled on the American bottom,
which, in all probabilities, never was surpassed in fertility. After
leaving the bottom the country is rather hilly and barren. Traveled
twenty-two miles and lodged at Waterloo, a town without houses. Only two
families in the place. Every land speculator produces one or more of
these dirt-cabin villages. Indeed, two-thirds of the travelers met with
are land speculators. The inhabitants of this part of the country appear
to be a wretched set of beings. Their great-coats are made out of a
blanket, with a cap or hood out of the same piece. Then moccasins and
leggins complete the suit. Uncover a Frenchman's head and his friends
are immediately alarmed for his health. The pig pens in Pennsylvania are
generally as clean and much better built than the miserable huts
occupied by these lazy people. In a state of almost starvation they hold
their Gumbo balls twice a week. For nimbleness of foot and lightness of
heart the French have never been surpassed.

    "Hope springs eternal in the human breast;
     Man never is, always to be, blest."

Excellent wages in this country for hired people, either black or white,
men or women. It is very common for a log cabin tavern without a door or
window (perhaps a log out to answer both purposes) to sup and lodge
twenty persons, men women and children. A living is so easily obtained
in this rich country that the most industrious of the inhabitants soon
grow indolent. Perhaps the ague and fever unfits them for exertion or
labor, but those things or something not accounted for produces
laziness.


Sunday, Nov. 14.--Left Waterloo and traveled twenty miles to breakfast
at Mrs. LaCount's in the little ancient French village called Prairie De
Rouche or Rocky Meadows. In traveling this distance I saw only three
houses. Just before I arrived at the village Prairie De Rouche we
descended a hill half a mile in height and entered again on the American
bottom. The lands are hilly, barren and full of limestone. Game of all
descriptions in great abundance. Mme. LaCount entertained us politely.
She is considered the queen of this little village, which is the sum and
substance of everything that is poor and miserable. Mme. LaCount's
daughter being ill, I was deprived of a great deal of valuable
information. She speaks good English, and is a very sensible,
intelligent young lady for such a village. The houses here have the most
antique and mean appearance, built of the barks of trees and puncheons,
slabs, etc., often without doors. Their windows are without sashes, but
small pieces of broken glasses of all shapes pasted ingeniously
together with paper serve to admit the light upon a motley family,
between white, red and black. Many of those wretched hovels are ready to
tumble down on the heads of starving Indians, French and negroes, all
mixed together. Negro-French is the common language of this town.
Indeed, unless you can speak some French it is with much difficulty you
can find any person who can understand you. Left Mme. LaCount's,
traveled twelve miles over an extremely fertile country and arrived at
Kaskaskia a little before sunset.


Monday, Nov. 15.--Remained in this inconsiderable village this day. Much
disappointed in the appearance of the long-talked-of Kaskaskia. It is
situated on the Okaw or Kaskaskia river, three miles from the
Mississippi. It never can be a place of much business. The land office
is kept at this place. There are some neat buildings, but they are
generally old, ugly and inconvenient. Their streets are irregular and of
bad widths. The inhabitants are all generals, colonels, majors, land
speculators or adventurers, with now and then a robber and a cutthroat.
I have to keep my long knife sharp and my eyes open. Went to church at
night. A fellow tried to pick my pocket. Had my hand upon my long
knife.


Tuesday, Nov. 16.--Dr. Hill having business at the lead mine, I
consented to wait until his return. Wanting amusement, I engaged in
hunting. Among other game I wounded a parrot, an uncommonly handsome
bird, with rich plumage. It appeared to possess all the sagacity of the
tame parrot. When it was first wounded it made every effort to defend
itself, but after remaining a captive for a short time it appeared
pleased with every kind attention, as do the domesticated parrots of the
West Indies. In hunting, passed over a field that contains 5,000 acres
of land, principally under cultivation. This field is part of the
American bottom and is the common property of all the French of
Kaskaskia. This land produces from sixty to 120 bushels of corn to the
acre. More fertile land I never beheld. The inhabitants are subject to
intermittent fevers. At this time there are thousands of acres of this
excellent land for sale at from $4 to $8 an acre, and a good proportion
woodland. Dr. Hill not having returned on the 17th, I took a ride, the
day being pleasant in consequence of a refreshing shower. Visited the
governor's house, a miserable-looking old building, such as is found in
the suburbs of towns. Crossed the great Okaw or Kaskaskia river. The
water not knee-deep and about 100 yards wide. Visited the
lieutenant-governor's house, which is situated across this stream,
opposite and in sight of Kaskaskia. This is the best-looking house in
the place. It is painted white, but stands alone, without garden, yard
or ornament of any kind. A worm fence is run around the house to keep
the pigs out of the first story. Col. Menard, the lieutenant-governor,
is a coarse-looking Frenchman, with all the habits, manners and dress of
the common ... of Philadelphia. Visited the Indian king of the Kaskia
Indians and his people, who reside about three miles from the village.
This nation is now reduced to about thirty in number. Many years ago all
the different tribes of Indians combined, fell upon the Kaskians when
they were unprepared for battle, and cut to pieces all their warriors,
except about fifteen, and most of their women and children. The king of
this little nation is a fine, majestic-looking man, six feet high. He
spoke French. Was polite and more gentlemanly in his deportment than
some of those great men of the place. He was very much indisposed. I had
the honor of prescribing for him. The names, manners and customs of
these people are such as are common among Indians, with this exception,
that they are rather more comfortable as to living, etc. I was very much
struck with the appearance of one of the young men. He is tall,
straight, elegant and unassuming in his manners, has fine, regular
features, and possesses as mild and intelligent a countenance as is to
be found in more civilized life. His eyes are dark, expressive and
beaming with goodness, instead of ferocity.


Thursday, Nov. 18.--Dr. Hill not having returned, time passed heavily
on. Hunted occasionally and visited the king again. I found his state of
health much improved. He was very polite. Conversed sensibly and invited
me to hunt with him. I took the rounds amongst his people. Found them
generally in bark huts, sitting flat on the floor, making moccasins,
etc. As none but the chief could speak English, I was deprived of the
pleasure of conversation. In one of these bark huts without a door (and
placed at a considerable distance from the other lodges) sat a female
who was recently confined. This female had retired to this cold and open
hut during her indisposition. She was alone from choice, and held down
her head at my approach and showed signs of disapprobation. How
commendable the modesty, even in a savage! She was placed in the middle
of the floor near a handful of coals, seated on a buffalo robe and
thinly dressed. The day was cold and she was without any appearance of
what we call comfort. A small mug of herb tea was her drink, and there
was no food to be seen. This female had twin children, which is a
remarkable occurrence amongst savages. These little strangers were
bandaged tight from head to foot and lashed upon a board with one end
sharpened for the convenience of the mother. Whenever she grows weary
one end of the board is stuck into the ground and the children often are
left for a considerable time. The appearance is singular, and would
astonish those that had never seen the Indians' manner of treating their
children. Indian children are white when born, their eyes very black.
Their hair long, straight and black. Their features full and well-shaped
with large, Roman noses. They look healthy and appear to live on
one-half the nourishment which would be necessary for other children.
During this visit I had an opportunity of seeing the king's daughter.
She has adopted the civil dress and is polite and affable for a savage.
She speaks but little English but speaks French fluently. Her father and
self profess the Roman Catholic religion. This Indian is more comely
than the rest of the females, but I have never been able to trace any
lines of beauty about those children of the forest. This Indian king
owns 2,000 acres of the American bottom. Part he rents out to advantage,
and part he cultivates. He lives well and might live elegantly. I
omitted to mention that Kaskaskia is the seat of government, which gave
me an opportunity of seeing all the heads of departments, governor,
lieutenant-governor, secretary of state, sheriffs, magistrates, etc.
They are well suited to a new country and an infant state.


Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 19-21.--Spent those days in Kaskia and
its neighborhood in hunting, and rambling through this garden of a
country, every day affording new amusement and presenting very
interesting subjects for the mind to dwell upon. On this day, the 21st,
Dr. Hill returned from the lead mine, a distance of forty-seven miles.
He traveled over a poor and barren country and was not much pleased with
his journey. He saw twenty deer in one herd, and was informed there were
some buffalo, wildcats, wolves, etc., in the neighborhood.



V.--IN POSSESSION OF THE "PROMISED LAND"


Monday, Nov. 22, 1819.--This day breakfasted with Mr. R. Morrison and
dined with Mr. W. Morrison. These gentlemen are wealthy and live in very
comfortable style. Mrs. R. Morrison is one of the most intelligent women
that I have conversed with, and possesses a lady's privilege, while Mrs.
W. Morrison might rank, in point of beauty with some of the belles of
Philadelphia. Dr. Hill having accomplished his business, we set out
from Kaskia at 2 o'clock, after bidding a friendly farewell to many new
friends made in this place. I must confess I found a few possessing so
much more merit than I anticipated that I parted with them reluctantly.
Traveled twelve miles, and arrived at Mme. LeCount's. We supped with a
tableful of French. Not one of them could speak English. Pumpkins,
spoiled venison and rancid, oily butter for supper, added to the odor of
a few 'coons and opossums that were ripening in the sun, induced us to
cut our comfort short. During the night I was taken ill with rheumatism.
Bled myself largely. Set out at 6 o'clock in the morning rather better,
though dull. Passed some small lakes full of ducks and geese. Saw seven
deer, some wild turkeys and other game. Retraced our former steps.
Passed Cahokia, a small and unimproving village, and arrived at the town
of Illinois at 7 o'clock p. m.


Wednesday, Nov. 24.--Crossed over to St. Louis to inquire for old
friends or acquaintances from Philadelphia. Even an enemy would have
been taken by the hand, but to my disappointment there was no arrival.
Recrossed the Mississippi, and set out for Edwardsville. Passed some
large lakes. Large and extremely fertile prairies, neat dwellings and
good farms, well cultivated. Arrived at Edwardsville, a distance of
twenty-two miles, at 7 o'clock. Edwardsville is a small but flourishing
little village. Goods three prices. Labor high. Lands rich and the place
thriving for an inland town.


Friday, Nov. 26.--Rainy day. Deposited deeds at recorder's office.
Detained on land business. I expected this day to have set out for the
bounty lands. Dr. Hill having fully accomplished his business, he
declined accompanying me agreeable to promise, and I returned to St.
Louis alone, leaving him behind, intending to seek more grateful
company.


Wednesday, Dec. 1.--In consequence of the disappointment occasioned by
Dr. Hill refusing to accompany me to the bounty lands, I was subjected
to considerable expense, loss of time and much inconvenience. On the 3d
day of December Dr. Hill set out for Philadelphia, in company with one
of my friends, a Mr. Pratt, a clever old farmer and a missionary
Methodist preacher. I accompanied them across the river. In parting with
Dr. Hill I must in honesty confess I felt none of those unpleasant
sensations produced at parting with a friend. A pleasant ride and a
final adieu to him. After dividing my time between St. Louis and
Illinois until the 8th day of December, I set out, in company with a
Mr. B----, to visit the bounty lands. Traveled to Milton, a small town
over the American bottom, twenty miles. This soil cannot be surpassed in
fertility by any land upon the globe. Eighty and 100 bushels of corn to
the acre are common crops without any labor except that which is
necessary in planting. This, in truth, is the promised land--the land
that flows with milk and honey. Stock in any quantities may be raised
free from expense, and every article made by the farmer commands as high
a price as in Philadelphia, and a more ready market. How many thousands
are there in the eastern states who work like the slaves of the south
and are barely able to support their families without even the hope in
old age to become comfortable. Could they believe there was such a
country in the world, could they know that lands of the first quality
can be obtained so easily, and be informed that the rewards of industry
are so great, they would instantly fly to the west and meet fatigue and
hardships on the way with a smile. In a few years the consequence would
be the accumulation of wealth and fair prospects for a rising family.
Milton is situated on Wood river (a very small stream opposite the mouth
of the Missouri river and within one and a half miles of the
Mississippi). It is a flourishing little village only one and a half
years old. Near this place lands command from $5 to $10 an acre.
Milton, together with all the American bottom, is subject to bilious and
intermittent fevers during the warm months. The banks of Wood river
during the last war were often scoured by the Indians, and became the
theater of some savage and barbarous deeds. A narrative hangs yet on the
lips of the inhabitants, which has seldom found its parallel in the most
remote desert by the most ferocious or bloodthirsty. Seven warriors
attacked and murdered a female and her four little children almost in
sight of her own dwelling. She and the little innocents had spent an
evening at a friend's house, and were returning home. The shrieks of
this unfortunate family brought the husband to the scalped and lifeless
corpse of a beloved wife, and a tender and affectionate father to his
four little children bleeding in death, the suckling child with a
tomahawk sticking in its head. None but a husband and father can feel
the deep agony which must arise from so bloody a transaction. Those
warriors, whose companion was cruelty and whose happiness was in murder,
were pursued by some resolute and spirited volunteers from the
neighborhood. They were overtaken and every man put to death. Not long
after this butchery another party fell upon a defenseless family in the
same neighborhood. They shot an old man in his door, scalped a young
female in the house and threw her in the fire, tomahawked and scalped
two little children, whilst two boys made their escape--one 6 and the
other 8 years old. These little children wandered about the fields and
woods for three days without nourishment except the berries and roots
which they were able to collect from the fields. Three times did they
get in sight of the murderers, and as often hid themselves in the
leaves, and finally found their way to a house and communicated the
dreadful intelligence of the massacre. The hand that governs and
protects all was outstretched to save these children in a manner
unusual. I am now in sight of the death spot of those unfortunates, and
expect to travel 100 miles farther, where but a short time since no
track or trace was to be seen except that of the savage.


Thursday, Dec. 9.--Left Milton at 6 o'clock. Passed Alton, distance from
Milton one and one-half miles. Here I must remark every man makes his
own town and sometimes more than one. Within five miles there are five
towns, as they are called, but all insignificant and improperly placed.
Their names are Milton, Alton, Middle Alton, Lower Alton and Sales.
Those mushroom towns in a short time will produce their own death.
Although their lives are short they do mischief to the community.
People in their neighborhood are unwise enough, for the sake of having a
town lot, to give as much for a few feet of ground as would purchase a
good farm (160 acres of land). They are then tied to the little town,
where their property can never be of much value, nor can it produce a
living. Strangers or men at a distance purchase lots in towns they have
never seen, under the impression they are, or soon will be, like the
eastern cities. To townmakers or land speculators the subject is very
pleasant. To hear them describe the advantages of a barren spot perhaps
ten miles from any navigable stream, and it is more than probable not
even near a spring branch that would float a cornstalk boat. Could you
believe their assertions, a single lot which they have for sale would
produce a fortune that would make a man comfortable all his old days. I
must not omit an anecdote that applies well to those townmakers. A
gentleman visited the fertile lands of Illinois. In the course of his
journey he passed very many of those trifling towns. When about to turn
toward his home he had occasion to enter a tavern for refreshment. Here
they kept a register of names, a common practice in the western country.
On entering the door the barkeeper requested him to enter his name. He
hesitated, appeared confused and begged to be excused, stating he had a
particular objection which he would make known when he was about to
start, provided it could be kept a secret, which was consented to. This
was sufficient to arouse the suspicions of all who were in the house as
to the stranger's honesty. All the neighbors assembled. Some declared he
was a horse thief, others a murderer, while the most charitable stated
he had been a member of the penitentiary fraternity. After obtaining
refreshments with some difficulty he mounted his horse amidst the gaping
crowd, called for the barkeeper and whispered in his ear, loud enough
for everybody to hear: "My name is Robinson. I objected to mentioning
it, fearing you would name a town after me!" He spurred his horse, rode
off and left the gaping crowd, which is always to be found about little
villages, much disappointed and chagrined. Traveled twenty-seven miles
over a rich country, part rolling, part broken, belonging to the United
States. This part of Illinois is high and healthy and is well watered.
Arrived at the Widow Jackaway's ferry, one mile above the junction of
the Mississippi and Illinois rivers. Passed several small French huts,
made principally of bark, very open and but little appearance of
comfort. Large strings of geese, ducks, opossums and skunks hung upon
the sides of the huts to ripen. At Mrs. Jackaway's we were entertained
kindly. We slept on a bedcord and covered with a cow-hide. There was
but one room to the house, hen house excepted, which formed rather a
separate apartment, but without a door, and the fowls had to pass
through the house to get to their lodgings. This appeared necessary to
protect them from the wolves and wildcats.


Friday, Dec. 10.--Left Mrs. Jackaway's at 8 o'clock. Crossed the
Illinois on a platform placed on two canoes, and arrived in safety on
the bounty lands a little above the junction of the bold Mississippi and
the Illinois. Each of those rivers is about half a mile wide. Here a new
country presented itself, of better quality and under more advantages
than I was prepared to meet. Traveled all day through the woods, meadows
and prairies. It began raining. We were fortunate in being able to reach
Mme. Belfie's, on the banks of the Illinois. On inquiring if we could
remain all night, being wet and uncomfortable, we were received with all
the politeness that characterizes the French under all circumstances,
and given in broken English a hearty welcome. Supper being prepared for
the family, we were invited to partake. Curiosity, which has led us into
many scrapes, was on tiptoe. Wild goose was very good. After fishing in
the dish some time I found something with a new flavor. It proved to be
skunk. Made a light supper and retired to bed. Mme. Belfie lives in a
log hut about twelve feet square. This contains a bed for the old lady
and her daughter, two dogs, one hen and chickens, two chairs, and one
table. It is easy to imagine there was not much room left for two
common-sized men. However, we spread down our buffalo-skin and covered
with our great-coats, and for the first time I slept on a floor. Sore
sides, but good spirits and no cold. Began to envy the red-men of the
forest. They have no care, no trouble, to wrinkle the brow.


Sunday, Dec. 12.--Left Mme. Belfie's after being treated with the utmost
hospitality and politeness. She discovered herself to be a wellbred
woman, but she was not one of fortune's favorites. During the evening
she amused us by giving a small history of her life. However, her story
ended with a detail of misfortunes. About seven years ago a dreadful
earthquake occurred at New Madrid, on the Mississippi where was the
habitation of this lady and her husband. Their home was swallowed up,
their slaves ran away, all their property was lost, and with great
difficulty got off with their lives. The earth opened and swallowed up
many houses, then threw up water and trees to a great height. Several
lives were lost and many families ruined. These unfortunate French
people then sought shelter from the storm near the forks of the
Mississippi and Illinois rivers, intending, by industry and frugality,
to make an effort to get forward once more in the world. The manner in
which this old lady gave an account of her misfortunes was truly
interesting whilst she made a strong impression on the mind by her
gestures. The only article saved from the earthquake was a bag of
gunpowder, with which, in this country, where there is an abundance of
game, plenty of provisions may be obtained. It was necessary that the
bag containing this powder should be tied. The wife held whilst the
husband tied the string, but drawing it very tight one end slipped
through his fingers and the jerk threw the bag of powder into the fire,
which blew them both up and burnt all their clothes off them. They were
ill a considerable time, but recovered. They had nothing left, but, like
the French, they were cheerful, not discouraged, and almost happy. They
are now getting forward again, and, oh, may the storm of adversity never
again assail the cottage of genuine hospitality!


Monday, Dec. 13.--Left Mme. Belfie's, crossed the Illinois and
breakfasted at the Widow Jackaway's. Here we met with some travelers,
ladies and gentlemen, who had been upwards of three months on the water
in an open boat. They were forty-nine days on Lake Michigan and were
bound from Mackinaw to St. Louis. We retraced our former footsteps for
four miles and traveled on the shore of the Mississippi twelve miles. On
the shore of the Mississippi for miles stand cliffs or bluffs composed
of rocks, stones and marine substances. They are from 100 to 400 feet
high. In many places there appear to be pillars or regular columns
supporting those wonderful heights, which in many places appear almost
ready to tumble on those below. In the body of this irregular mass I
entered three caves, two large enough to protect a considerable family
from the storm and the third sufficiently large to contain twenty men on
horseback. This cave is supported by a neat pillar in the center. In
several places I saw marks on the cliffs at a considerable height made
with the different colors that Indians use to paint themselves. From
their arrangement, it appears the men of the desert had tried their
agility to place the highest mark on the cliffs. Near those caves are
the names of a number of persons cut in the soft parts of the rocks. In
traveling along the shore I picked up several specimens of the most
beautiful pearl I ever beheld. It is so plentiful here that no person
thinks it worth picking up. After traveling forty-three miles through
the rain I arrived again at St. Louis on the 13th of December. In
approaching the Illinois and Mississippi near the mouth from Milton a
scene beautiful, grand and sublime presents itself. Immediately after
leaving a thick wood you find yourself on the point of a knob or small
mountain many hundred feet high. From this eminence you have a view of
three bold and beautiful streams--the Mississippi, Illinois and
Missouri. The country on one side is bordered with very high bluffs as
far as the eye can reach, and on the other is a meadow or plain prairie,
which extends for many miles in every direction, and occasionally is
interspersed with handsome forest trees. The shells and marine
substances which are found near those large rivers are similar to those
seen in the West Indies and on the seaboard, but I have no recollection
of ever having seen such near any stream remote from the sea. This, with
many other appearances, holds out a strong inducement to believe that
the sea once covered this country for many hundred miles; that the
cliffs were its borders, and that some violent convulsion of nature has
caused it to recede and expose to view the most fertile country on the
globe. Should accident place this memorandum in the hands of any person,
an apology will be necessary for expressions and opinions which it
contains. In speaking of particular states and people I have expressed
myself as a traveler, but have stated facts. The country traveled over
by strangers is generally the most barren, and the inhabitants a coarse
sample of the state. When I have expressed an opinion which appears not
to be liberal, it is intended to apply to the lower class, of whom there
is a large majority. A gentleman or lady is the same all over the world,
and although in the different states there are many characters of the
first respectability, and although some of the French are rich, liberal
and gentlemanly men, yet this memorandum is strictly correct when
applied to the general mass.

                                                      RICHARD LEE MASON.

       *       *       *       *       *


Transcriber's note


Minor punctuation errors have been corrected without notice. A few
obvious typographical errors have been corrected, and they are listed
below. All other inconsistencies are as in the original. The author's
spelling has been maintained.

Page 17: "covered wth forest" changed to "covered with forest".

Page 18: "was this day week that" changed to "was this day last week that".

Page 73: "opinion which is contains" changed to "opinion which it
contains".





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