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Title: Early Western Travels 1748-1846, Volume 21
Author: Various
Language: English
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       *       *       *       *       *



  Early Western Travels

  1748-1846

  Volume XXI



  Early Western Travels

  1748-1846

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

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

  Reuben Gold Thwaites, LL.D.

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

  Volume XXI

  Wyeth's Oregon, or a Short History of a Long Journey, 1832;
  and Townsend's Narrative of a Journey across the Rocky
  Mountains, 1834

  [Illustration: logo]

  Cleveland, Ohio
  The Arthur H. Clark Company
  1905



  COPYRIGHT 1905, BY
  THE ARTHUR H. CLARK COMPANY

  ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

  The Lakeside Press

  R. R. DONNELLEY & SONS COMPANY
  CHICAGO



CONTENTS OF VOLUME XXI


  PREFACE. _The Editor_                                           9


  I

  OREGON; OR A SHORT HISTORY OF A LONG JOURNEY FROM THE
      ATLANTIC OCEAN TO THE REGION OF THE PACIFIC, BY LAND;
      drawn up from the notes and oral information of ...
      one of the party who left Mr. Nathaniel J. Wyeth, July 28th,
      1832, four days' march beyond the Ridge of the Rocky Mountains,
      and the only one who has returned to New England.
      _John B. Wyeth._

          Author's Motto                                         20

          Text                                                   21


  II

  NARRATIVE OF A JOURNEY ACROSS THE ROCKY MOUNTAINS, TO
      THE COLUMBIA RIVER. _John K. Townsend._

          Copyright Clause                                      112

          Publisher's Advertisement                             113

          Author's Table of Contents                            115

          Text                                                  121



ILLUSTRATIONS TO VOLUME XXI


  Facsimile of title-page to Wyeth's _Oregon_                    19

  "Hunting the Buffalo." From the London edition (1840) of
      Townsend's _Narrative_                                    110

  Facsimile of title-page to Townsend's _Narrative_             111

  "Spearing the Salmon." From the London edition (1840) of
      Townsend's _Narrative_                                    259



PREFACE TO VOLUME XXI


With the present volume our series reverts to the far Northwest, and
takes up the story of the Oregon country during the fourth decade of
the nineteenth century.

After the failure of the Astorian enterprise (1811-13), recounted
with so much detail in the narratives of Franchère and Ross
(reprinted in our volumes vi and vii), the Northwest Coast fell into
the hands of the British fur-trade companies, who ruled the forest
regions with a sway as absolute as that of a czar. The "Nor'westers"
first occupied the field, sent out their daring "bourgeois" in
all directions, and reaped a rich harvest of pelts. But upon the
consolidation of the rival corporations (1821), the Hudson's Bay
Company's men succeeded them, and for the first time law and
order were enforced by the chief factors, and the denizens of the
Northwest, white and red, soon learned to obey and revere their
new masters. Prominent among the factors was Dr. John McLoughlin,
the benevolent despot of Fort Vancouver, whose will was law not
only for savages and fur-trade employés, but for all overland
emigrants, British and American, who now began swarming to the banks
of the Columbia. For twenty years he governed a province larger
than France, and friend and foe alike testify to his probity and
kindness, from which Americans profited quite as fully as those from
his own land.

To the world at large, during this long period, the land beyond the
mountains remained unknown and almost unknowable. Occasionally a New
England skipper ventured to the mouth of the Columbia, exchanging
goods from Hawaii and the South Seas for the salmon and furs of the
Northwest Coast; but the inhabitants of the interior of our country
long found the Rockies and their outlying deserts insurmountable
barriers to Western passage.

Fur-traders finally led the way into the heart of the mountains.
The Rocky Mountain Fur Company, under General William Ashley, began
in 1822 that series of explorations and excursions that opened the
highland fastnesses to the men of the West, and paved the way for
the tracing of the Oregon Trail.

But it was bona-fide settlers, not fur-traders or trappers, that
captured Oregon for the United States. Among the earliest of
these were members of the company escorted by Captain Nathaniel
Jarvis Wyeth, whose home was in the shades of academic learning at
Cambridge, Massachusetts. Wyeth, however, owed the inception of the
enterprise to another New Englander, his quondam fellow-townsman,
Hall J. Kelley. An enterprising schoolmaster, the narratives
of Lewis and Clark and of the Astorian participants fired his
imagination with a desire to behold the Far West, while the
joint-occupancy treaty with Great Britain (1818) aroused in him
a patriotic desire that the region watered by the Columbia might
be possessed by his native land. Throughout more than a decade
he published pamphlets and articles for the local press, glowing
with praise of Oregon, and succeeded in organizing the Oregon
Colonization Society, from among whose members he hoped to lead an
expedition to the far-away land of promise.

Among those who hearkened to him was the young Cambridgian, Wyeth,
whose mind, more practical than Kelley's, but as yet uninformed as
to the real difficulties of the enterprise, conceived the project
of a great commercial enterprise to the Northwest. In the winter
of 1831-32, Wyeth formed his party of pioneers and formulated his
plans. With the opening of the spring a vessel laden with supplies
was to start around Cape Horn, to meet the overland adventurers at
the mouth of the Columbia. Wyeth, meanwhile, was to lead a company
of hale young men across the continent, who should hunt and trap on
the way, and be ready on arrival to provide a cargo of furs for the
vessel, and later to develop the products of the Oregon country.

Wyeth's original plan for the land party included forty companions,
but he finally set forth from Baltimore with an enrollment of
but twenty-four. Arrived in St. Louis, he learned for the first
time of the vast operations that Western fur-traders were already
carrying on among the mountains--men to whom the experience of a
life-time had taught the conditions and the methods of trade beyond
the frontier. Nothing daunted, however, young Wyeth joined the
yearly caravan of the Rocky Mountain Fur Company, and under its
protection proceeded to that company's rendezvous at Pierre's Hole.
There the majority of his men, finding the hazard greater than they
had anticipated, turned back; but the leader, with a handful of
followers, pressed on, only to learn in the Oregon country that his
vessel had been wrecked on a Pacific reef, and his cargo of supplies
lost.

Received at Fort Vancouver with hospitable courtesy on the part
of the Hudson's Bay people, Wyeth passed the winter in exploring
the region and learning its resources. He became more than ever
eager to exploit the great possibilities lying before him, and
returned across the continent to Boston, making en route the famous
journey--commemorated by Washington Irving in his _Scenes in the
Rocky Mountains_--down the Bighorn and Yellowstone in a bull-boat.
While still among the mountain men, Wyeth confidently entered
into a contract with Milton Sublette and the latter's partner,
Thomas Fitzpatrick, to carry out to them their yearly supplies the
following season.

Intent on this and other projects, our adventurer hastened on to
Boston, organized the Columbia River Fishing and Trading Company,
and secured another vessel to proceed to Oregon by sea. This time
Wyeth's party was trebled, and with a following of over seventy he
started from St. Louis on March 7, 1834. Among his companions were
the naturalists Nuttall and Townsend, and the missionaries Jason
and Daniel Lee, all of whom were seeking the Oregon country on
errands of their own. The fate of Wyeth's second expedition need not
here be recounted, further than to state that the contract being
repudiated by the Rocky Mountain men, Wyeth established a trading
post in eastern Idaho, which he later (1837) sold to the Hudson's
Bay Company and proceeded on to Oregon. After indefatigable efforts,
and fatigues seldom paralleled, Wyeth finally (1836) abandoned the
country and his ambitious project, and settled down to the humdrum
role of ice-merchant in Cambridge, amassing a moderate fortune in
shipping that useful commodity to the West Indies.

In recent years the journals and correspondence of Nathaniel J.
Wyeth, recounting the experience of his two expeditions, have come
to light and been published by the Oregon Historical Society. These
documents, however, furnish but terse and bald statements of events,
whereas detailed narratives appeared in works published many years
before. The historian of the first expedition was a kinsman of its
leader--John B. Wyeth, a young man of eighteen summers, who had
previously been to sea and acquired a taste for adventure. After the
long journey into the mountains, young Wyeth became dissatisfied
with the hardships and ill prospects of the venture, and joined
those malcontents at Pierre's Hole who voted for return, thus
abandoning his leader before the journey was more than two-thirds
completed. Upon arrival at Cambridge, the narrative of the younger
Wyeth's adventures sped around the circle of his acquaintances,
and reached the ear of Dr. Benjamin Waterhouse, a well-known local
physician and scientist.

Waterhouse desired to discourage the prevalent wild schemes of
Western emigration, and published Wyeth's experiences as a useful
warning against such projects. The little book as issued from the
press bore the title: _Oregon; or a Short History of a Long Journey
from the Atlantic Ocean to the Region of the Pacific by Land, drawn
up from the notes and oral information of John B. Wyeth_ (Cambridge,
1833). It is not difficult for the reader to distinguish the work of
the young traveller from that of the older scientist--the literary
finish, the allusions, the moralizing and animadversions, of this
composite book, are certainly the elder's; the racy adventures, the
off-hand descriptions, surely those of the younger collaborator.[1]

  [1] In Harvard University Library, the book is catalogued under
  Waterhouse as author.

John B. Wyeth's publication was distinctly annoying and hurtful to
the plans of his cousin, and caused the latter to characterize it
as "full of white lies." It is in the animus rather than the words
themselves that the deceit is to be found; but disregarding its
injudicious criticisms and comments, Wyeth's book is a readable
work of travel, written in the full flush of health and spirits
experienced by a vigorous youngster on a journey taken more as an
escapade than with serious purpose. How far this motive carried him,
is witnessed by the recitation of practical jokes in Cincinnati,
and by the disasters of the home journey, when, abandoned by his
companions, he was turned adrift in plague-stricken New Orleans to
shift for himself. As a picture of early life on the plains and in
the mountains, the account is graphic and attractive, as exampled
by the descriptions of the scene at the rendezvous--also that at
the conference between the Blackfoot chiefs and the envoys of the
whites, previous to the battle of Pierre's Hole. Vivid pictures of
the fur-trade leaders, and swift glimpses of friendly and hostile
tribesmen, jostle the description of what was in effect a New
England town-meeting in Pierre's Hole, and the report of an Indian
battle famous in the annals of the West. The Wyeth narrative was
printed privately, for circulation among friends, and therefore in a
small edition. Examples are consequently now extremely rare, and it
is believed that its reprint in the present series will be welcomed
by students of early Western exploration.

Nathaniel J. Wyeth's second expedition was even more fortunate in
its historian. John K. Townsend, a well-known Philadelphia physician
and naturalist, had long been desirous of exploring the far western
country in the interests of science. Hearing from his friend, Thomas
Nuttall, then botanist at Harvard College, that he was preparing to
join an expedition across the continent, Townsend made arrangements
to accompany him, and obtained from the American Philosophical
Society and the Academy of Natural Sciences at Philadelphia a
commission to search for birds on their behalf.

The two scientists joined Wyeth at Boonville, Missouri, after a
pedestrian journey from St. Louis to that point. The adventurers
left Independence on April 28, 1834, in company with the annual
fur-trading caravan for the Far West, and late in June arrived at
the famous Green River rendezvous. Thence the Wyeth party proceeded
to the Columbia, where a hearty welcome from Hudson's Bay officials
awaited them both at Walla Walla and Vancouver.

Townsend remained in the Oregon district for nearly two years. In
the winter of 1834-35 he spent several months in the Sandwich
Islands, returning in Wyeth's vessel, the "May Dacre," in March,
1835. The next year he was employed by the Hudson's Bay Company as
physician at Fort Vancouver, of which duties he was relieved by the
coming of one of their own surgeons from the North (March, 1836).
Still the ornithologist lingered in the country, anxious to complete
his collection of native birds. He journeyed up the Columbia to
Walla Walla, made a short excursion into the Blue Mountains,
explored the river's mouth, visited the ruins of Lewis and Clark's
Fort Clatsop, and finally embarked for home, by way of Cape Horn, on
November 30, 1836. Three months were passed in Hawaii, en route; his
stay in Chili was prolonged by illness; but at last, after a tedious
voyage, he arrived off Cape Henlopen November 13, 1837, having been
absent three years and eight months.

Townsend's account of his travels appeared at Philadelphia in 1839,
entitled: _Narrative of a Journey across the Rocky Mountains to the
Columbia River, and a Visit to the Sandwich Islands, Chili, &c.,
with a Scientific Appendix._ A London edition followed in 1840,
bearing the title, _Sporting Excursions to the Rocky Mountains
including a Journey to the Columbia River and a Visit to the
Sandwich Islands, Chili, etc._ This contains a few insignificant
changes. Our reprint is from the original Philadelphia version,
omitting both the now unessential appendix, and that portion of the
narrative which deals with Hawaii and South America, these being
outside the field of our present interest.

Townsend wrote in an easy, flowing style, and a large share of his
pages bear evidence of closely following his daily journals. Unlike
Wyeth's kinsman, Townsend had much admiration for the ability and
resource of his leader--for his "most indefatigable perseverance
and industry"--and could only attribute his failure to the
mysterious dealings of Providence. From the commercial and economic
standpoint, Wyeth's enterprise was a failure; from the historian's
point of view, it was eminently successful. Not only did he conduct
considerable parties of Americans across the continent, but some
of these became permanent settlers in the Oregon country; and his
enterprise awakened the country to the dangers of joint political
occupancy.

Lewis and Clark's journals, as paraphrased by Nicholas Biddle
in 1814, had first called popular attention to the region. John
B. Wyeth's book, in 1833, was the first American publication on
the subject, after the records of the initial exploration, and
aroused a fresh interest in at least a limited group of influential
readers; the spark was further kindled by the appearance, in 1836,
of Washington Irving's classic _Astoria_; and then appeared, three
years later, Townsend's admirable narrative, giving to the world
some detailed knowledge of the resources of the Far Northwest. In
the same year with Townsend's publication, Wyeth himself presented
to Congress his "Memoir on Oregon,"[2] which was freighted with
information concerning the worth of the new region. These several
works were important influences in forcing the Oregon question upon
the attention of Congress, and thus paving the way for the final
acquisition of that country by the United States under the Oregon
Treaty of 1846.[3]

  [2] _House Ex. Reports_, 25 Cong., 3 sess., 101, app. 1.

  [3] See Caleb B. Cushing "Discovery beyond the Rocky Mountains" in
  _North American Review_, 1 (1840), pp. 75-144.

In the preparation of the present volume for the press, the Editor
has had, throughout, the active assistance of Louise Phelps Kellogg,
Ph.D.

  R. G. T.

  MADISON, WIS., October, 1905.



[Illustration: title page Oregon]



  WYETH'S OREGON, OR A SHORT HISTORY OF A
  LONG JOURNEY

  Reprint of original edition: Cambridge, 1833



  OREGON;

  OR

  A SHORT HISTORY OF A LONG JOURNEY

  FROM THE

  ATLANTIC OCEAN TO THE REGION OF THE PACIFIC.

  BY LAND.

  DRAWN UP FROM THE NOTES AND ORAL INFORMATION

  OF

  JOHN B WYETH

  ONE OF THE PARTY WHO LEFT MR NATHANIEL J WYETH,

  JULY 28TH, 1832, FOUR DAYS MARCH BEYOND THE RIDGE OF THE

  ROCKY MOUNTAINS,

  AND THE ONLY ONE WHO HAS RETURNED TO NEW ENGLAND.

  CAMBRIDGE

  PRINTED FOR JOHN B. WYETH.

  1833.



A contented mind is a continual feast; but _entire satisfaction_ has
never been procured by wealth however enormous, or ambition however
successful.

    True happiness is to no place confin'd,
    But still is found in a _contented_ mind.



OREGON EXPEDITION


In order to understand this Oregon Expedition, it is necessary to
say, that thirty years ago (1803), PRESIDENT JEFFERSON recommended
to Congress to authorize competent officers to explore the river
_Missouri_ from its mouth to its source, and by crossing the
mountains to seek the best water communication thence to the
_Pacific_ Ocean. This arduous task was undertaken by Captain M.
Lewis and Lieutenant W. Clarke of the first regiment of infantry.
They were accompanied by a select party of soldiers, and arrived
at the Missouri in May, 1804, and persisted in their novel and
difficult task into the year 1806, and with such success as to
draw from President Jefferson the following testimonial of their
heroic services, viz. "The expedition of Messrs. LEWIS & CLARKE,
for exploring the river Missouri, and the best communication from
that to the _Pacific Ocean_, has had all the success which could be
expected; and for which arduous service they deserve well of their
country."[4]

  [4] Quoted from Jefferson's annual message, December 2, 1806. See
  James D. Richardson (ed.), _Messages and Papers of the Presidents_
  (Washington, 1896), i, p. 408.--ED.

The object of this enterprise was to confer in a friendly manner
with the Indian Nations throughout their whole journey, with a view
to establish a friendly and equitable commerce with them, on {2}
principles emulating those that marked and dignified the settlement
of Pennsylvania by _William Penn_. It was beyond doubt that the
President and Congress sincerely desired to treat the Indians with
kindness and justice, and to establish peace, order, and good
neighbourhood with all the savage tribes with whom they came in
contact, and not to carry war or violence among any of them who
appeared peaceably disposed.

A few years before the period of which we have spoken, our
government had acquired by purchase the vast and valuable Territory
of Louisiana from the renowned NAPOLEON BONAPARTE, at that time the
Chief of the French Nation. Considering his previous intentions,
and actual preparations under his famous General _Bernadotte_,[5]
nothing could be more fortunate for these United States than this
purchase. Our possession of Louisiana was so grievous a sore to the
very jealous Spaniards, that they have, till lately, done all in
their power to debar and mislead us from pursuing discoveries in
that quarter, or in the Arkansas, Missouri, or _Oregon_. Yet few or
none of them probably believed that we should, during the present
generation, or the next, attempt the exploration of the distant
_Oregon_ Territory, which extends from the _Rocky Mountains_ to the
shores of the Pacific Ocean, or in other words, from the Missouri
and Yellow Stone rivers to that of the river Columbia or Oregon
which pours into the Ocean by a wide mouth at the immense distance
from us of about four thousand miles; yet one and twenty men,
chiefly farmers and a few mechanics, had the hardihood to undertake
it, and that too with deliberation and sober calculation. But what
will not a New-England {3} man undertake when honor and interest
are the objects before him? Have not the people of that sand-bank,
Nantucket, redeemed it from the ocean, and sailed round Cape Horn in
pursuit of whales for their oil, and seals for their skins? A score
of our farmers seeing that Nantucket and New Bedford had acquired
riches and independence by traversing the sea to the distant shores
of the Pacific, determined to do something like it _by land_. Their
ardor seemed to have hidden from their eyes the mighty difference
between the facility of passing in a ship with the aid of sails,
progressing day and night, by skilfully managing the winds and the
helm, and that of a complicated wagon upon wheels, their journey to
be over mountains and rivers, and through hostile tribes of savages
who dreaded and hated the sight of a white man.

  [5] Referring probably to the fact that Bernadotte had in January,
  1803, been chosen minister to the United States, and tarried in
  France during the negotiations for the purchase of Louisiana. After
  these were concluded, Bernadotte's services being required in the
  impending war with England, his projected mission to America was
  abandoned. Wyeth has probably confused Bernadotte's mission with the
  preparation in Holland of the armament which was, under command of
  General Victor, intended to take possession of Louisiana.--ED.

This novel expedition was not however the original or spontaneous
notion of Mr. Nathaniel J. Wyeth,[6] nor was it entirely owing
to the publications of Lewis & Clarke or Mackenzie.[7] Nor was
it entirely owing to the enterprise of Messrs. Barrell, Hatch,
and Bulfinch, who fitted out two vessels that sailed from Boston
in 1787, commanded by Captains Kendrick and Gray, which vessels
arrived at Nootka in September, 1788.[8] They were roused to it
by the writings of Mr. Hall J. Kelly, who had read all the books
he could get on the voyages and travels in Asia, Africa, Europe,
and America, until he had heated his mind to a degree little short
of the valorous Knight of La Mancha, that is to say, he believed
all he read, and was firm in the opinion that an Englishman and
an American, or either, by himself, could endure and achieve any
thing {4} that any man could do with the same help, and farther,
that a New-England man or "Yankee," could with less.[9] That vast
region, which stretches from between the east of the Mississippi,
and south of the Lakes _Superior_, _Huron_, _Michigan_, _Erie_, and
_Ontario_, was too narrow a space for the enterprise of men born and
bred within a mile or two of the oldest University in the United
States.[10] Whatever be the true character of the natives of New
England, one thing must be allowed them, that of great and expansive
ideas,--beyond, far beyond the generality of the inhabitants of the
small Island of Britain. I say small, for if that Island should
be placed in the midst of these United States, it would hardly
form more than a single member of our extended republic. That
vast rivers, enormous mountains, tremendous cataracts, with an
extent corresponding to the hugeness of the features of America,
naturally inspire men with boundless ideas, few will doubt. This
adventurous disposition, at the same time, will as naturally banish
from the mind what the _new-light_ doctrine of Phrenology calls
the disposition bump of _Inhabitiveness_, or an inclination to
stay at home, and in its place give rise to a roaming, wandering
inclination, which, some how or other, may so affect the organs of
vision, and of hearing, as to debar a person from perceiving what
others may see, the innumerable difficulties in the way. Mr. Hall J.
Kelly's writings operated like a match applied to the combustible
matter accumulated in the mind of the energetic Nathaniel J. Wyeth,
which reflected and multiplied the flattering glass held up to view
by the ingenious and well-disposed schoolmaster.

  [6] Nathaniel Jarvis Wyeth belonged to one of the oldest families of
  Cambridge, Massachusetts, his ancestor settling there in 1645, on a
  place held by his descendants for over two centuries. Nathaniel's
  grandfather, Ebenezer, in 1751, purchased an estate embracing part
  of the present Mount Auburn, and extending to Fresh Pond. There
  Nathaniel's father, Jacob (1764-1856), built a summer resort known
  as Fresh Pond Hotel. Nathaniel, the fourth son, was born January
  29, 1802, and was intended for Harvard College, of which his father
  and eldest brother were graduates; his ambitious spirit, however,
  made him impatient to begin commercial life, and to his subsequent
  regret the college course was abandoned. He first aided his father
  in the management of the hotel, but soon entered the ice trade, in
  which he remained until his expedition of 1832-36. In 1824 marrying
  his cousin Elizabeth Jarvis Stone, he shortly before the first
  expedition moved into a new house on the family estate, in which
  he resided until his death in 1856. For the Oregon expeditions,
  see the preface of the present volume. Returning to Cambridge in
  1836, he re-entered the ice traffic, and after 1840 was the head
  of the concern. His highly accentuated qualities of activity and
  enterprise, added to his strong personality, caused him to be
  esteemed by his contemporaries.--ED.

  [7] In the centennial years of the Lewis and Clark expedition,
  their original journals were for the first time printed as
  written--Thwaites (ed.), _Original Journals of the Lewis and
  Clark Expedition_ (New York, 1904-05). For an account of the
  earlier edition of their journals, edited by Nicholas Biddle,
  see Introduction to the work just cited. On Mackenzie, consult
  Franchère's _Narrative_ in our volume vi, p. 185, note 4.--ED.

  [8] On the expedition of Captains Kendrick and Gray, consult
  Franchère's _Narrative_, in our volume vi, p. 183, note 1.--ED.

  [9] Hall J. Kelley may properly be called the father of the Oregon
  emigration movement. Born in New Hampshire in 1790, he left home
  at the age of sixteen and engaged in teaching at Hallowell,
  Maine. In 1814 he was graduated from Middlebury College, and the
  following year removed to Boston, where he was occupied as teacher
  and philanthropist, assisting in founding the Boston Young Men's
  Education Society, the Penitent Female Refuge Society, and the first
  Sunday School in New England. He was also a surveyor and engineer,
  and in 1828 invested his entire patrimony in a canal project at
  Three Rivers (later, Palmer), Massachusetts, whither he removed in
  1829. This enterprise proved a failure, and his investment a total
  loss. For many years he had been interested in the Oregon country,
  and soon after the publication of Biddle's version of the journals
  of the Lewis and Clark expedition (1814), Kelley began an agitation
  for the American occupation of the district. He tried to interest
  Congress, and the first Oregon bills (1820) bear the impress of his
  thought--see F. F. Victor, "Hall J. Kelley," in _Oregon Historical
  Quarterly_, ii, pp. 381-400. Finding his frequent petitions of no
  avail, he formed a company in 1829 (incorporated in 1831) known
  as the "American Society for encouraging the settlement of Oregon
  territory." The winter of 1831-32 was spent in preparation for an
  emigration movement. Wyeth was a member of this organization, and
  at first proposed to accompany Kelley; but finding the latter's
  plans impracticable, organized his own party. Kelley set out in the
  spring of 1832 with a small company, who all abandoned him at New
  Orleans. Proceeding alone to Vera Cruz, his goods were confiscated
  by the Mexican government; but although now penniless, he worked
  his way through to California. There, in the spring of 1834,
  he met Ewing Young (see our volume xx, p. 23, note 2), whom he
  persuaded to accompany him overland to Oregon. Kelley was ill, but
  was treated with slight respect by the British authorities at Fort
  Vancouver, and lived without the fort during the winter, exploring
  the country in the intervals of his fever. In the following spring
  (1835) he shipped for Hawaii, and returned to Boston, determined,
  notwithstanding his misfortunes, to further Oregon emigration--see
  report to Congress, _House Reports_, 26 Cong., 3 sess., i, 101.
  Kelley's health became undermined by the hardships which he had
  endured, his eyesight was impaired, and he passed his latter years
  in Palmer, Massachusetts, in poverty and obscurity, dying there in
  1874.--ED.

  [10] Harvard College was established by act of the general court of
  Massachusetts in 1636.--ED.

Mr. Nathaniel J. Wyeth had listened with peculiar {5} delight to
all the flattering accounts from the Western regions, and that at
a time when he was surrounded with apparent advantages, and even
enviable circumstances. He was born and bred near the borders of a
beautiful small Lake, as it would be called in Great Britain; but
what we in this country call a large Pond; because we generally give
the name of Lakes only to our vast inland seas, some of which almost
rival in size the Caspian and Euxine in the old world. It seems that
he gave entire credit to the stories of the wonderful fertility of
the soil on the borders of the Ohio, Missouri, the river Platte,
and the Oregon, with the equally wonderful healthfulness of the
climate. We need not wonder that a mind naturally ardent and
enterprising should become too enthusiastic to pursue the laborious
routine of breaking up and harrowing the hard and stubborn soil of
Massachusetts within four miles of the sea, where the shores are
bounded and fortified by stones and rocks, which extend inland,
lying just below the surface of the ground, while the regions of the
West were represented as standing in need of very little laborious
culture, such was the native vigor of its black soil. The spot where
our adventurer was born and grew up, had many peculiar and desirable
advantages over most others in the county of Middlesex. Besides rich
pasturage, numerous dairies, and profitable orchards, and other
fruit trees, it possessed the luxuries of well cultivated gardens
of all sorts of culinary vegetables, and all within three miles of
the Boston Market-House, and two miles of the largest live-cattle
market in New England. All this, and more too, had not sufficient
attractions to retain Mr. Wyeth in his native town and county.

{6} Besides these blessings, I shall add another. The Lake I spoke
of, commonly called _Fresh Pond_, is a body of delightful water,
which seems to be the natural head or source of all the numerous
underground rivers running between it and the National Navy Yard
at Charlestown, which is so near to the city of Boston as to be
connected to it by a bridge; for wherever you sink a well, between
the body of water just mentioned, you strike a pelucid vein of it at
from nineteen to twenty-two feet depth from the surface. With the
aforesaid Lake or Pond is connected another not quite so large, but
equally beautiful. Around these bodies of inosculating waters, are
well cultivated farms and a number of gentlemen's country-seats,
forming a picture of rural beauty and plenty not easily surpassed
in Spring, Summer, and Autumn; and when winter has frozen the lakes
and all the rivers, this spot has another and singular advantage;
for our adventurer sold the _water_ of this pond; which was sent to
the West-Indian Islands, Philadelphia, New Orleans, and other places
south of this; which is so much of a singularity as to require
explanation.

In our very coldest weather, January and February, the body of
water we spoke of is almost every year frozen to the thickness of
from eighteen inches to two feet,--sometimes less, and very rarely
more. It is then sawed into cubes of the size just mentioned, and
deposited in large store-houses, and carted thence every month in
the year, even through the dog-days, in heavy teams drawn by oxen
and horses to the wharves in Boston, and put on board large and
properly constructed vessels, and carried into the hot climates
already {7} mentioned. The heavy teams five, or six, or more, close
following each other, day and night, and even through the hottest
months, would appear incredible to a stranger. Here was a traffic
without any drawback, attended with no other charge than the labor
of cutting and transporting the article; for the pond belonged to
no man, any more than the air which hung above it. Both belonged
to mankind. No one claimed any personal property in it, or control
over it from border to border. A clearer profit can hardly be
imagined. While the farmer was ploughing his ground, manuring and
planting it, securing his well-tended crop by fencing, and yet
after all his labor, the Hessian-fly, the canker or slug worm, or
some other destructive insect, or some untimely frost, as was the
case last winter, might lay waste all his pains and cut off all his
expectations. The only risk to which the Ice-merchant was liable
was a blessing to most of the community; I mean the mildness of a
winter that should prevent his native lake from freezing a foot or
two thick. Our fishermen have a great advantage over the farmer in
being exempt from fencing, walling, manuring, taxation, and dry
seasons; and only need the expence of a boat, line, and hook, and
the risk of life and health; but from all these the Ice-man is in
a manner entirely exempted; and yet the Captain of this Oregon
Expedition seemed to say, All this availeth me nothing, so long as I
read books in which I find, that by only going about _four thousand
miles_, over land, from the shore of our _Atlantic_ to the shore of
the _Pacific_, after we have there entrapped and killed the beavers
and otters, we shall be able, after building vessels for {8} the
purpose, to carry our most valuable peltry to China and Cochin
China, our seal-skins to Japan, and our superfluous grain to various
Asiatic ports, and lumber to the Spanish settlements on the Pacific;
and to become rich by underworking and underselling the people of
Hindostan; and, to crown all, to extend far and wide the traffic in
oil by killing tame whales on the spot, instead of sailing round the
stormy region of Cape Horn.

All these advantages and more too were suggested to divers
discontented and impatient young men. Talk to them of the great
labor, toil, and risk, and they would turn a deaf ear to you:
argue with them, and you might as well reason with a snow-storm.
Enterprising young men run away with the idea that _the farther
they go from home, the surer they will be of making a fortune_.
The original projector of this golden vision first talked himself
into the visionary scheme, and then talked twenty others into the
same notion.[11] Some of their neighbours and well-wishers thought
differently from them; and some of the oldest, and most thoughtful,
and prudent endeavoured to dissuade them from so very ardous and
hazardous an expedition. But young and single men are for tempting
the untried scene; and when either sex has got a notion of that
sort, the more you try to dissuade them, the more intent they are
on their object. Nor is this bent of mind always to be censured,
or wondered at. Were every man to be contented to remain in the
town in which he was born, and to follow the trade of his father,
there would be an end to improvement, and a serious impediment to
spreading population. It is difficult to draw the exact line between
contentment, and that inactivity {9} which approaches laziness.
The disposition either way seems stamped upon us by _nature_,
and therefore innate. This is certainly the case with birds and
beasts;--the wild geese emigrate late in the Autumn to a southern
climate, and return again in the Spring to a northern one, while
the owl and several other birds remain all their lives near where
they were hatched; whereas man is not so much confined by a natural
bias to his native home. He can live in all climates from the
equator to very near the dreary poles, which is not the case with
other animals; and it would seem that nature intended he should
live anywhere;--for whereas other animals are restricted in their
articles of food, some living wholly on flesh, and others wholly
on vegetables, man is capable of feeding upon every thing that is
eatable by any creature, and of mixing every article together, and
varying them by his knowledge and art of cookery,--a knowledge and
skill belonging to man alone. Hence it appears that _Providence_,
who directs everything for the best, intended that man should wander
over the globe, inhabit every region, and dwell wherever the sun
could shine upon him, and where water could be obtained for his use.

  [11] For partial lists of members of this party, consult H. S.
  Lyman, _History of Oregon_ (New York, 1903), iii, pp. 101, 108, 254;
  see also _post_.--ED.

So far from deriding the disposition to explore unknown regions,
we should consider judicious travellers as so many benefactors of
mankind. It is most commonly a propensity that marks a vigorous
intellect, and a benevolent heart. The conduct of the Spaniards,
when they conquered Mexico and Peru with the sole view of robbing
them of their gold and silver, and of forcing them to abandon their
native religion, has cast an odium on those first adventurers upon
this continent and their first {10} enterprises in India have
stigmatized the Dutch and the English; nor were our own forefathers,
who left England to enjoy religious freedom, entirely free from the
stain of injustice and cruelty towards the native Indians.--Let us
therefore in charity, nay, in justice, speak cautiously of what
may seem to us censurable in the first explorers of uncivilized
countries; and if we should err in judgment, let it be on the side
of commendation.

Mr. Wyeth, or as we shall hereafter call him, _Captain_ Wyeth, as
being leader of the Band of the Oregon adventurers, after having
inspired twenty-one persons with his own high hopes and expectations
(among whom was his own brother, Dr. Jacob Wyeth,[12] and a
gun-smith, a blacksmith, two carpenters, and two fishermen, the rest
being farmers and laborers, brought up to no particular trade) was
ready, with his companions, to start off to the Pacific Ocean, the
first of March, 1832, to go from Boston to the mouth of Columbia
river by land.

  [12] Dr. Jacob Wyeth, eldest brother of Nathaniel, was born February
  10, 1779, at Cambridge, Massachusetts. After being graduated from
  Harvard (1820), he studied medicine both in Boston and Baltimore,
  and settled in New Jersey, whence he set out to join his brother's
  expedition. After returning from Pierre's Hole--as narrated
  _post_--Dr. Wyeth settled in the lead-mine region of northwest
  Illinois, and married into a prominent family. He died in his
  adopted state.--ED.

I was the youngest of the company, not having attained my twentieth
year; but, in the plentitude of health and spirits, I hoped every
thing, believed every thing my kinsman, the Captain, believed
and said, and all doubts and fears were banished. The Captain
used to convene us every Saturday night at his house for many
months previous to our departure, to arrange and settle the plan
of our future movements, and to make every needful preparation;
and such were his thoughtfulness and vigilance, that it seemed to
us nothing was forgotten and every thing necessary provided. Our
three vehicles, or wagons, if we may call by that name a _unique_
contrivance, half boat, and half carriage, may be mentioned as an
instance of our Captain's {11} talents for snug contrivance. It
was a boat of about thirteen feet long, and four feet wide, of a
shape partly of a canoe, and partly of a gondola. It was not calked
with tarred oakum, and payed with pitch, lest the rays of the sun
should injure it while upon wheels; but it was nicely jointed, and
dovetailed. The boat part was firmly connected with the lower, or
axletree, or wheel part;--the whole was so constructed that the
four wheels of it were to be taken off when we came to a river,
and placed in the wagon, while the tongue or shaft was to be towed
across by a rope. Every thing was as light as could be consistent
with safety. Some of the Cambridge wags said it was a boat begot
upon a wagon,--a sort of mule, neither horse nor ass,--a mongrel,
or as one of the collegians said it was a thing _amphibious_,
anatomically constructed like some equivocal animals, allowing it
to crawl upon the land, or to swim on the water; and he therefore
thought it ought to be denominated an _amphibium_. This would have
gone off very well, and to the credit of the learned collegian, had
not one of the gang, who could hardly write his own name, demurred
at it; because he said that it reflected not back the honor due
to the ingenious contriver of the commodious and truly original
vehicle; and for his part, he thought that if they meant to give
it a particular name, that should redound to the glory of the
inventor, it ought to be called a _Nat-wye-thium_; and this was
instantaneously agreed to by acclamation! Be that as it may, the
vehicle did not disgrace the inventive genius of New England. This
good-humored raillery, shows the opinion of indifferent people,
merely lookers-on. The fact was, the generality {12} of the people
in Cambridge considered it a hazardous enterprise, and considerably
notional. About this time there appeared some well written essays in
the Boston newspapers, to show the difficulty and impracticability
of the scheme, purporting to doubt the assertions of Mr. Hall J.
Kelly respecting the value and pleasantness of the Oregon territory.
The three vehicles contained a gross of axes, a variety of articles,
or "_goods_" so called, calculated for the Indian market, among
which vermilion and other paints were not forgotten, glass beads,
small looking-glasses, and a number of tawdry trinkets, cheap
knives, buttons, nails, hammers, and a deal of those articles,
on which young Indians of both sexes set a high value, and white
men little or none. Such is the spirit of trade and traffic, from
the London and Amsterdam merchant, down to an Indian trader and a
yankee tin-ware man in his jingling go-cart; in which he travels
through Virginia and the Carolinas to vend his wares, and cheat the
Southerners, and bring home laughable anecdotes of their simplicity
and ignorance, to the temporary disgrace of the common people of the
Northern and Eastern part of the Union, where a travelling tin-man
dare hardly show himself,--and yet is held up in the South as the
real New-England character, and this by certain white people who
know the use of letters!

The company were uniform in their dress. Each one wore a coarse
woollen jacket and pantaloons, a striped cotton shirt, and cowhide
boots: every man had a musket, most of them rifles, all of them
bayonets in a broad belt, together with a large clasped knife for
eating and common purposes. The Captain and one or two more added
pistols; but {13} every one had in his belt a small axe. This
uniformity had a pleasing effect, which, together with their curious
wagons, was noticed with commendation in the Baltimore newspapers,
as a striking contrast with the family emigrants of husband, wife,
and children, who have for thirty years and more passed on to the
Ohio, Kentucky, and other territories. The whole bore an aspect of
energy, good contrivance, and competent means. I forgot to mention
that we carried tents, camp-kettles, and the common utensils for
cooking victuals, as our plan was to live like soldiers, and to
avoid, as much as possible, inns and taverns.

The real and avowed object of this hardy-looking enterprise was to
go to the river Columbia, otherwise called the river _Oregon_, or
river of the _West_,[13] which empties by a very wide mouth into the
Pacific Ocean, and there and thereabouts commence a fur trade by
trafficking with the Indians, as well as beaver and other hunting
by ourselves. We went upon shares, and each one paid down so much;
and our association was to last during five years. Each man paid our
Leader forty dollars. Captain Wyeth was our Treasurer, as well as
Commander; and all the expenses of our travelling on wheels, and by
water in steam-boats, were defrayed by our Leader, to whom we all
promised fidelity and obedience. For twenty free-born New-England
men, brought up in a sort of Indian freedom, to be bound together
to obey a leader in all things reasonable, without something
like _articles of war_, was, to say the least of it, a hazardous
experiment. The Captain and crew of a Nantucket whaling ship came
nearest to such an association; for in this case each man runs that
great risk of his life, {14} in voluntarily attacking and killing a
whale, which could not be expected from men hired by the day, like
soldiers; so much stronger does association for gain operate, than
ordinary wages. As fighting Indians from behind trees and rocks is
next, in point of courage, to attacking a whale, the monarch of the
main, in his own element, a common partnership is the only scheme
for achieving and securing such dangerous purposes.

  [13] For the origin of the word Oregon, see Ross's _Oregon
  Settlers_, in our volume vii, p. 36, note 4.--ED.

We left the city of Boston, 1st of March, 1832, and encamped on
one of the numerous islands in its picturesque harbour, where we
remained ten days, by way of inuring ourselves to the tented field;
and on the 11th of the same month we hoisted sail for Baltimore,
where we arrived after a passage of fifteen days,[14] not without
experiencing a snow-storm, severe cold, and what the landsmen
considered a hard gale, at which I, who had been one voyage to sea,
did not wonder. It made every man on board look serious; and glad
were we to be set on shore at the fair city of Baltimore, in which
are to be found a great number of merchants, traders, and mechanics
from different parts of New England, and where of course there are
none, or very few, of those ridiculous prejudices against what they
call Yankees, that are observable in Virginia and the Carolinas.

  [14] For further accounts of the preparation and voyage to Baltimore
  on the brig "Ida," consult F. G. Young, "Correspondence and Journals
  of Captain Nathaniel J. Wyeth, 1831-36," in _Sources of the History
  of Oregon_ (Eugene, Oregon, 1899), pp. 42-50. _Niles' Register_
  xlii, p. 82 (March 31, 1832), notes their arrival and departure with
  twenty-two men and all necessary equipment.--ED.

At Baltimore our amphibious carriages excited great attention, and I
may add, our whole company was an object of no small curiosity and
respect. This, said they, is "_Yankee all over!_"--bold enterprise,
neatness, and good contrivance. As we carefully avoided the expense
of inns and taverns, we marched two miles out of Baltimore, and
there encamped during four days; and then we put {15} our wagons
into the _cars_ on the rail-road; which extends from thence sixty
miles, which brought us to the foot of the Alleghany mountains.[15]
Quitting the rail-road at the foot of the Alleghany, we encountered
that mountain. Here we experienced a degree of inhospitality not
met with among the savages. The Innkeepers, when they found that
we came from New England, betrayed an unwillingness to accommodate
Yankees, from a ridiculous idea, that the common people, so
nicknamed, were too shrewd at a bargain and trading, for a slow and
straight-forward Dutchman; for the inhabitants of this mountainous
region, were generally sons and grandsons of the Dutch and German
first settlers; and it cannot be denied and concealed, that the
New England land-jobbers were in their bargains too hard for the
torpid Dutchman, who, it is true, loved money as much as any people,
yet when they, or their fathers had been the sufferers from a set
of roving sharpers, it is no wonder that an hereditary prejudice
should descend with exaggeration and aggravation from father to
son, and that their resentment should visit their innocent sons to
the third and fourth generation. No one pretends to mention any
fact or deed, in which those Dutch foreigners were defrauded of
their rights and dues; and all that can be, with truth, said, was,
that the land-speculators from Connecticut and Massachusetts were
to New-England what Yorkshire men are thought to be to the rest of
the people of England, a race more sharp and quick-sighted than
their neighbours,--and with a sort of constitutional good humor,
called _fun_, they could twist that uneducated progeny of a German
stock around their fingers;--hence their reluctance {16} to have
any thing to do with men, whose grand-fathers were too knowing for
them. You never hear the French or the English complaining of the
over-shrewdness of the New-England people. They accord very well
together, and very frequently intermarry. No, it is the Dutch, and
the descendants of transported convicts, who sneer at those they
call Yankees, whom their fathers feared, and of course hated.

  [15] The line of the Baltimore and Ohio railway was first opened
  for traffic December 1, 1831, when the road extended as far as
  Frederick, sixty-one miles from Baltimore. On April 1, 1832, it was
  extended to Point of Rocks, some forty miles beyond; but by that
  time the expedition had passed farther west.--ED.

At one public house on the mountains near which we halted, the
master of it, learning that we came from Boston, refused us any
refreshment and lodging. He locked up his bar-room, put the
key in his pocket, went out, and came back with four or five
of his neighbours, when the disagreement ran so high, that the
tavern-keeper and the Yankee Captain each seized his rifle. The
latter pointing to the other's _sign_ before his door, demanded
both lodging and refreshment, as the legal condition of his
tavern-license;[16] and the dispute ended in our Captain's sleeping
in the house with three of his party, well armed, determined to
defend their persons, and to insist on their rights as peaceable
and unoffending travellers, while the rest of the company
bivouacked near their wagons, and reposed themselves, like veteran
soldiers, in their tents and wagons.

  [16] Taverners are by law to be provided with suitable bedding
  for travellers, and stables and provisions for horses and cattle.
  Brownsville is a flourishing town situated on the point, where
  the great Cumberland road strikes the head of navigation of the
  Monongahela, and has long been a place of embarkation for emigrants
  for the West.--WYETH.

We gladly departed from the inhospitable Alleghany or Apalachian
mountains, which extend from the river St. Lawrence to the confines
of Georgia, {17} and which run nearly parallel to the sea-shore
from sixty to one hundred and thirty miles from it, and dividing
the rivers, which flow into the Atlantic on the east, from those
that run into the lakes and into the Mississippi on the west. The
part we passed was in the state of Pennsylvania. Our next stretch
was for the river Monongahela, where we took the steamboat for
_Pittsburg_.[17] This town has grown in size and wealth, in a
few years, surprisingly. It is two hundred and thirty miles from
Baltimore; three hundred from Philadelphia. It is built on a point
of land jutting out towards the river Ohio, and washed on each side
by the Alleghany and Monongahela, which rivers uniting are lost in
the noble Ohio. It was originally a fortress built by the French,
called _Fort du Quesne_ being afterwards taken by the English in
1759, it was called fort _Pitt_, in honor of the famous _William
Pitt_, afterwards Earl of Chatham, under whose administration it
was taken from the French, together with all Canada.[18] On this
spot a city has been reared by the Americans, bearing the name
of _Pittsburg_ which has thriven in a surprising manner by its
numerous manufactories in glass, as well as in all the metals in
common use. To call it the Birmingham of America is to underrate its
various industry; and to call the English Birmingham Pittsburg,
would be to confer upon that town additional honor; not but what
the British Birmingham is by far the most pleasant place to live
in. Pittsburg is the region of iron and fossil coal, of furnaces,
glass-works, and a variety of such like manufactures. This town has
somewhat the color of a coal-pit, or of a black-smith's shop. The
wonder is, that any gentleman {18} of property should ever think
of building a costly dwelling-house, with corresponding furniture,
in the coal region of the western world; but there is no disputing
_de gustibus_--_Chacun á son gout_. The rivers and the surrounding
country are delightful, and the more so from the contrast between
them and that hornet's nest of bustle and dirt, the rich capital.
Thousands of miserable culprits are doomed to delve in deep mines
of silver, gold, and quicksilver among the Spaniards for their
crimes; but here they are all freemen, who choose to breathe smoke,
and swallow dirt, for the sake of clean dollars and shining eagles.
Hence it is that the Pittsburgh workmen appear, when their faces are
washed, with the ruddiness of high health, the plenitude of good
spirits, and the confidence of freemen.

  [17] The expedition proceeded by way of Brownsville, and arrived at
  Pittsburg on April 8, 1832. Pittsburg, as the point of departure
  for the West, is described by most early travelers. In particular,
  consult Cuming's _Tour_, in our volume iv, pp. 242-255.--ED.

  [18] For Fort Duquesne, see F. A. Michaux's _Travels_, in our volume
  iii, p. 156, note 20; for Fort Pitt, Post's _Journals_, in our
  volume i, p. 281, note 107, and A. Michaux's _Travels_, volume iii,
  p. 32, note 11.--ED.

From the busy city of thriving Pittsburg our next important
movement was down the Ohio. We accordingly embarked in a very
large steam-boat called The Freedom; and soon found ourselves, bag
and baggage very much at our ease and satisfaction, on board a
truly wonderful floating inn, hotel, or tavern, for such are our
steam-boats. Nothing of the kind can surpass the beauty of this
winding river, with its fine back-ground of hills of all shapes and
colors, according to the advancement of vegetation from the shrubs
to the tallest trees. But the romantic scenery on both sides of
the Ohio is so various and so captivating to a stranger, that it
requires the talents of a painter to give even a faint idea of the
picture; and the effect on my mind was, not to estimate them as I
ought, but to feed my deluded imagination with the belief that we
should find on the {19} Missouri, and on the Rocky Mountains, and
Columbia river, object as much finer than the Ohio afforded, as this
matchless river exceeded our Merrimac or Kennebeck: and so it is
with the youth of both sexes; not satisfied with the present gifts
of nature, they pant after _the untried scene_, which imagination is
continually bodying forth, and time as constantly dissipating.

The distance from Pittsburg to the Mississippi is about one thousand
miles. Hutchins estimated it at one thousand one hundred and
eighty-eight,--Dr. Drake at only nine hundred and forty-nine.[19]
Wheeling is a town of some importance. Here the great national
road into the interior from the city of Washington, meets that of
Zanesville, Chillicothè, Columbus, and Cincinnati.[20] It is the
best point to aim at in very low stages of the water, and from
thence boats may go at all seasons of the year. We passed Marietta,
distinguished for its remarkable remains of mounds, and works,
resembling modern fortifications, but doubtless the labor of the
ancient aboriginals, of whom there is now no existing account;
but by these works, and articles found near them, they must have
belonged to a race of men farther advanced in arts and civilization
than the present Indian in that region,[21]--a people who, we may
well suppose, were the ancestors of the Mexicans. Yet we see at this
time little more than log-houses belonging to miserable tenants of
white people. All the sugar used by the people here is obtained
from the maple tree. Fossil coal is found along the banks. There
is a creek pouring forth _Petroleum_, about one hundred miles from
Pittsburg on the Alleghany, called _Oil_ Creek, which will blaze on
the application of a {20} match. This is not uncommon in countries
abounding in bituminous coal. Nitre is found wherever there are
suitable caves and caverns for its collection. The people here are
rather boisterous in their manners, and intemperate in their habits,
by what we saw and heard, more so than on the other side of the
river where slavery is prohibited. Indeed slavery carries a black
moral mark with it visible on those whose skins are naturally of a
different color; and Mr. Jefferson's opinion of the influence of
slavery on the whites, justifies our remark.[22]

  [19] Thomas Hutchins (1730-89), born in New Jersey, entered the
  British army at an early age. He served in the French and Indian
  War, and later as assistant engineer under Bouquet (1764), for whom
  he prepared a map. In 1779 he was arrested in London, on a charge
  of sympathizing with the American cause. Escaping to Paris, he
  finally joined the continental army at Charleston, South Carolina,
  and was made geographer general by General Greene. The estimate
  here referred to is in his _Topographical Description of Virginia,
  Pennsylvania, Maryland, and North Carolina_ (London, 1778), p. 5.

  For Dr. Daniel Drake, see Flint's _Letters_ in our volume ix, p.
  121, note 61.

  The length of the Ohio from Pittsburg is estimated by the map of the
  U. S. corps of engineers, published in 1881, as 967 miles.--ED.

  [20] For Wheeling and the National Road, see A. Michaux's _Travels_,
  in our volume iii, p. 33, note 15, and Flint's _Letters_, in our
  volume ix, p. 105, notes 51, 52.--ED.

  [21] For a more extended description of Marietta and its
  antiquities, consult Cuming's _Tour_, in our volume iv, pp. 123-125.
  The mounds are now believed to be the work of North American
  Indians; consult Cyrus Thomas, "Mound Explorations," in U. S. Bureau
  of Ethnology _Report_, 1890-91.--ED.

  [22] Referring to Jefferson's account of the degradation of masters
  under the régime of slavery, in _Notes on Virginia_ (original
  edition, 1784), pp. 298-301.--ED.

We stopped one day and night at the flourishing town of
_Cincinnati_, the largest city in the Western country, although laid
out so recently as 1788.[23] It is twenty miles above the mouth
of the Great Miami, and four hundred and sixty-five miles below
Pittsburg. It appears to great advantage from the river, the ground
inclining gradually to the water. Three of us had an evidence of
that by a mischievous trick for which we deserved punishment. We
were staring about the fine city that has risen up with a sort of
rapid, mushroom growth, surprising to every one who sees it, and who
considers that it is not more than forty years old. In the evening
we went into a public house, where we treated ourselves with that
sort of refreshment which inspires fun, frolic, and mischief. We
remained on shore till so late an hour that every body appeared to
have gone to bed, when we set out to return to our steam-boat. In
our way to it we passed by a store, in the front of which stood
three barrels of lamp-oil, at the head of a fine sloping street.
The evil spirit of mischief put it into our heads to set them a
rolling down the inclined plane to the river. No sooner hinted,
than executed. {21} We set all three a running, and we ran after
them; and what may have been lucky for us, they were recovered
next day whole. Had there been legal inquisition made for them, we
had determined to plead _character_, that we were from Boston, the
land of steady habits and good principles, and that it must have
been some gentlemen Southerners, with whose characters for nightly
frolics, we, who lived within sound of the bell of the University
of Cambridge were well acquainted. The owners of the oil came down
to the steam-boat, and carried back their property without making a
rigid examination for the offenders; without suspecting that prudent
New-England young men would indulge in a wanton piece of fun, where
so much was at stake. But John Bull and Jonathan are queer fellows.

  [23] For the early history of this city, see Cuming's _Tour_, our
  volume iv, p. 256, note 166.--ED.

From Cincinnati to St. Louis, we experienced some of those
disagreeable occurrences, that usually happen to democratical
adventurers. Our Captain, to lessen the expenses of the expedition,
had bargained with the Captain of the steam-boat, that we of his
band should assist in taking on board wood from the shore, to keep
our boilers from cooling. Although every one saw the absolute
necessity of the thing, for our common benefit and safety, yet some
were for demurring at it, as not previously specified and agreed
upon. Idleness engenders mutiny oftener than want. In scarcity and
in danger men cling together like gregarious animals; but as soon as
an enterprising gang can sit down, as in a steam-boat, with nothing
to do but to find fault, they are sure to become discontented, and
discontent indulged leads to mutiny. Whatever I thought then, I do
not think now that Captain Wyeth was {22} to blame for directing his
followers to aid in _wooding_; nor should the men have grumbled at
it. I now am of opinion that our aiding in wooding the steam-boat
was right, reasonable, and proper. Every man of us, except the
surgeon of the company, Dr. Jacob Wyeth, ought, on every principle
of justice and generosity, to have given that assistance.

Our navigation from Cincinnati to St. Louis was attended with
circumstances new, interesting, and very often alarming. Passing
the rapids of the Ohio, or _falls_ as they are called, between
the Indiana territory and Kentucky, was sufficiently appalling to
silence all grumbling. These falls, or rapids are in the vicinity
of Louisville, Jeffersonville, Clarksville, and Shipping-port, and
are really terrific to an inexperienced farmer or mechanic.[24]
Our Hell-gate in Long-Island Sound is a common brook compared with
them; and when we had passed through them into the Mississippi, the
assemblage of trees in the river, constituting snags and sawyers,
offered themselves as a species of risk and danger, which none of us
had ever calculated on or dreamt of. We knew that there was danger
in great storms, of huge trees blowing down on one's head; and
that those who took shelter under them in a thunder-storm, risked
their lives from lightning; but to meet destruction from trees in
an immense river, seemed to us a danger of life, which we had not
bargained for, and entirely out of our agreement and calculation. We
had braced ourselves up only against the danger of hostile Indians,
and enraged beasts, which we meant to war against. Beyond that, all
was smooth water to us. The truth of the matter is,--the {23} men
whom Captain Wyeth had collected were not the sort of men for such
an expedition. They were too much on an equality to be under strict
orders like soldiers. Lewis & Clarke were very fortunate in the men
they had under them. Major Long's company was, in a great degree,
military, and yet three of his soldiers deserted him at one time,
and a fourth soon after.[25]

  [24] Wyeth somewhat exaggerates the difficulties of the navigation
  of the Falls of the Ohio. See our volume i, p. 136, note 106; also
  Thwaites, _On the Storied Ohio_ (Chicago, 1903), pp. 218-222. For
  Jeffersonville, see Flint's _Letters_, in our volume ix, p. 160,
  note 80; for Clarksville and Shippingsport, Cuming's _Tour_, our
  volume iv, pp. 259, 260, notes 170, 171.--ED.

  [25] See our volumes xiv-xvii for James's _Long's Expedition_.--ED.

On the 18th of April, 1832, we arrived at St. Louis. As we had
looked forward to this town, as a temporary resting-place, we
entered it in high spirits, and pleased ourselves with a notion that
the rest of our way till we should come to the Rocky Mountains would
be, if not down hill, at least on a level: but we counted without
our host.

_St. Louis_ was founded by a Frenchman named _Peter la Clade_ in
1764, eighty-four years after the establishment of Fort Crève-coeur
on the Illinois river; and inhabited entirely by Frenchmen and
the descendants of Frenchmen, who had carried on for the most
part a friendly and lucrative trade with the Indians.[26] But
since the vast Western country has been transferred to the United
States, its population has been rapidly increased by numerous
individuals and families from different parts of the Union; and its
business extended by enterprising mechanics and merchants from the
New-England States; and its wealth greatly augmented. The old part
of St. Louis has a very different aspect from that of Cincinnati,
where every thing appears neat, and new, and tasteful; as their
public buildings, their theatre, and spacious hotels, not forgetting
Madam Trollope's bazar, or, as it is commonly called, "Trollope's
Folly,"[27] as well as its spacious streets, numerous coaches, and
other {24} marks of rapid wealth, and growing luxury. As St. Louis
has advanced in wealth, magnitude, and importance, it has gradually
changed the French language and manners, and assumed the American.
It however contains, I am told, many of the old stock that are very
respectable for their literary acquirements and polished manners.

  [26] For the foundation of St. Louis, see A. Michaux's _Travels_,
  in our volume iii, p. 71, note 138. Fort Crêvecoeur was La Salle's
  Illinois stockade, built in 1680. See Ogden's _Letters_ in our
  volume xix, p. 46, note 34.--ED.

  [27] Frances Milton Trollope (1780-1863), an Englishwoman of
  note, came to the United States in 1827 with Frances Wright. She
  established herself at Cincinnati, and attempted to recuperate the
  family fortunes by the opening of a bazaar for the sale of small
  fancy articles. The experiment failed, and the Trollope family
  returned to England (1831), where Mrs. Trollope issued _Domestic
  Manners of Americans_ (London, 1832), a criticism of our national
  customs that gave great umbrage to our forebears in the West. She
  later became a novelist of note, dying in Florence in 1863. Her sons
  were Anthony and Adolphus Trollope, well-known English authors.--ED.

We shall avoid, as we have avowed, any thing like censure of Captain
Wyeth's scheme during his absence; but when we arrived at St. Louis,
we could not but lament his want of information, respecting the
best means of obtaining the great objects of our enterprise. Here
we were constrained to sell our complicated wagons for less than
half what they originally cost. We were convinced that they were
not calculated for the rough roads, and rapid streams and eddies
of some of the rivers we must necessarily pass. We here thought
of the proverb, "that men never do a thing right the first time."
Captain Wyeth might have learned at St. Louis, that there were two
wealthy gentlemen who resided at or near that place, who had long
since established a regular trade with the Indians, Mr. M----,
and a young person, Mr. S----, and that a stranger could hardly
compete with such established traders. The turbulent tribe, called
the _Black-foot_ tribe, had long been supplied with fire arms and
ammunition, beads, vermilion and other paints, tobacco and scarlet
cloth, from two or three capital traders at, or near, St. Louis, and
every article most saleable with the Indians. Both parties knew each
other, and had confidence in each other; and having this advantage
over our band of adventurers, it does not appear that Mr. Mackenzie,
and Mr. Sublet felt any apprehensions or jealousy {25} of the new
comers from Boston; but treated them with friendship, and the latter
with confidence and cordiality; the former gentleman being, in a
manner, retired from business, except through numerous agents.[28]
He owns a small steam-boat called the Yellow Stone, the name of
one of the branches of the Missouri river.[29] Through such means
the Indians are supplied with all they want; and they appeared not
to wish to have any thing to do with any one else, especially the
adventurous Yankees. These old established traders enjoy a friendly
influence, or prudent command, over those savages, that seems to
operate to the exclusion of every one else; and this appeared from
the manner in which they treated us, which was void of every thing
like jealousy, or fear of rivalship. Their policy was to incorporate
us with their own troop.

  [28] Kenneth McKenzie was born in Rossshire, Scotland, in 1801, of
  a good family, relatives of Sir Alexander Mackenzie the explorer.
  Coming to America at an early age, young McKenzie entered the
  service of the North West Company; but upon its consolidation with
  the Hudson's Bay Company (1821), he entered the fur-trade on his own
  account. Going to New York in 1822, he secured an outfit on credit,
  and for some time traded on the upper Mississippi. Later he formed
  a partnership with Joseph Renville in the establishment of the
  Columbia Fur Company. This concern was bought out by its rival, the
  American Fur Company in 1827, whereupon McKenzie was taken into the
  latter corporation. He was soon placed in command of what was known
  as the "Upper Missouri Outfit," and built Fort Union at the mouth of
  the Yellowstone, where for several years he ruled almost regally.
  Among his earliest successes--to which Wyeth here refers--was his
  acquisition of the Blackfoot trade. This tribe, influenced by
  British traders, had long been hostile to Americans; McKenzie had,
  however, been known to them in the North West Company, and through
  one of their interpreters, Berger, he secured a treaty with them and
  built (1831-32) a post in their country. McKenzie lost the good-will
  of the American Fur Company, by erecting a distillery at Fort Union,
  in defiance of United States laws. In 1834 he came down the river,
  and visited Europe; but at intervals he re-ascended to his old post,
  until in 1839 he disposed of his stock in the company. He then made
  his home in St. Louis, until his death in 1861. It does not appear
  that he had considered retirement as early as Wyeth's visit in 1832,
  for he was then in the full tide of success. He lived magnificently
  at Fort Union, ruling over a wide territory, an American example of
  the "bourgeois of the old Northwest."

  For William Sublette, see our volume xix, Gregg's _Commerce of the
  Prairies_, p. 221, note 55.--ED.

  [29] The "Yellowstone" was the first steamboat to visit the upper
  Missouri. McKenzie and Pierre Chouteau, Jr., convinced of the
  utility to the fur-trade of such a craft, persuaded the American Fur
  Company to secure a steamer. She was built at Louisville, Kentucky,
  in the winter of 1830-31, departing from St. Louis on her first
  voyage, April 16, 1831, with Captain B. Young as master. This season
  she ascended to Fort Tecumseh (near Pierre), and the following
  year made her initial trip to the mouth of the Yellowstone River.
  She had left St. Louis about a month before the arrival of Wyeth's
  party.--ED.

We put our goods, and other baggage on board the steam-boat Otter,
and proceeded two hundred and sixty miles up the Missouri river,
which is as far as the white people have any settlements. We were
obliged to proceed very slowly and carefully on account of the
numerous _snags_ and _sawyers_ with which this river abounds. They
are trees that have been loosened, and washed away from the soft
banks of the river. They are detained by sandbanks, or by other
trees, that have floated down some time before. Those of them whose
sharp branches point opposite the stream are the _snags_, against
which boats are often impelled, as they are not visible above water,
and many are sunk by the wounds these make in their bows. The
_sawyers_ are also held fast by their roots, while the body of the
tree whips up and down, alternately visible and concealed beneath
the surface. These {26} are the chief terrors of the Missouri and
the Mississippi rivers. As to crocodiles they are little regarded,
being more afraid of man than he of them. On account of these snags
and sawyers, boatmen avoid passing in the night, and are obliged to
keep a sharp look out in the day-time. The sawyers when forced to
the bottom or near it by a strong current, or by eddies, rise again
with such force that few boats can withstand the shock. The course
of the boat was so tediously slow, that many of us concluded to
get out and walk on the banks of the river. This, while it gave us
agreeable exercise, was of some service in lightening our boat, for
with other passengers from St. Louis, we amounted to a considerable
crew. The ground was level, and free from underwood. We passed
plenty of deer, wild turkeys, and some other wild fowl unknown to
us, and expected to find it so all the way.

We arrived at a town or settlement called _Independence_.[30]
This is the last white settlement on our route to the Oregon, and
this circumstance gave a different cast to our peregrination,
and operated not a little on our hopes, and our fears, and our
imaginations. Some of our company began to ask each other some
serious questions; such as, Where are we going? and what are we
going for? and sundry other questions, which would have been wiser
had we asked them before we left Cambridge, and ruminated well on
the answers. But _Westward ho_! was our watchword, and checked all
doubts, and silenced all expressions of fear.

  [30] For Independence, see Gregg's _Commerce of the Prairies_, in
  our volume xix, p. 189, note 34.--ED.

Just before we started from this place, a company of sixty-two in
number arrived from St. Louis, under the command of _William Sublet,
Esq._, an experienced Indian trader, bound, like ourselves, {27} to
the American Alps, the Rocky Mountains, and we joined company with
him, and it was very lucky that we did. Our minds were not entirely
easy. We were about to leave our peaceable country-men, from whom
we had received many attentions and much kindness, to go into a
dark region of savages, of whose customs, manners, and language, we
were entirely ignorant,--to go we knew not whither,--to encounter
we knew not what. We had already sacrificed our amphibious wagons,
the result of so much pains and cost. Here two of our company
left us, named Kilham and Weeks. Whether they had any real cause
of dissatisfaction with our Captain, or whether they only made
that an excuse to quit the expedition and return home early, it
is not for me to say. I suspect the abandonment of our travelling
vehicles cooled their courage. We rested at Independence ten days;
and purchased, by Captain Sublet's advice, two yoke of oxen, and
fifteen sheep, as we learnt that we ought not to rely entirely upon
transient game from our fire-arms for sustenance, especially as
we were now going among a savage people who would regard us with
suspicion and dread, and treat us accordingly. From this place we
travelled about twenty-five miles a day.

Nothing occurred worth recording, till we arrived at the
first Indian settlement, which was about seventy miles from
Independence.[31] They appeared to us a harmless people, and not
averse to our passing through their country. Their persons were
rather under size, and their complexion dark. As they lived near
the frontier of the whites, they were not unacquainted with their
usages and customs. They have cultivated spots or little farms, {28}
on which they raise corn and pumpkins. They generally go out once
a year to hunt, accompanied by their women; and on killing the
Buffalo, or Bison, what they do not use on the spot, they dry to
eat through the winter. To prevent a famine, however, it is their
custom to keep a large number of dogs; and they eat them as we do
mutton and lamb. This tribe have imitated the white people in having
fixed and stationary houses. They stick poles in the ground in a
circular form, and cover them with buffalo-skins, and put earth
over the whole, leaving at the top an aperture for the smoke, but
small enough to be covered with a buffalo-skin in case of rain or
snow.--We found here little game; but honey-bees in abundance.

  [31] This appears to have been an insignificant village of
  somewhat sedentary Indians, probably of the Kansa tribe, near the
  northwestern corner of what is now Douglas County, Kansas. Joel
  Palmer notes it in 1845; see our volume xxx.--ED.

We travelled on about a hundred miles farther, when we came to a
large _prairie_, which name the French have given to extensive
tracts of land, mostly level, destitute of trees, and covered with
tall, coarse grass. They are generally dreary plains, void of water,
and rendered more arid by the Indian custom of setting fire to the
high grass once or twice a year to start the game that has taken
shelter there, which occasions a hard crust unfavorable to any
vegetable more substantial than grass. At this unpromising spot,
three more of our company took French leave of us, there being, it
seems, dissatisfaction on both sides; for each complained of the
other. The names of the seceders were Livermore, Bell, Griswell.[32]
In sixteen days more we reached the River _La Platte_, the water of
which is foul and muddy.[33] We were nine days passing this dreary
_prairie_. We were seven and twenty days winding our way along the
borders of the La Platte, which river we could not leave on {29}
account of the scarcity of water in the dry and comfortless plains.
Here we slaughtered the last of our live stock, and at night we
came to that region where buffaloes are often to be found; but we
suffered some sharp gnawings of hunger before we obtained one, and
experienced some foretaste of difficulties to come.

  [32] Thomas Livermore was a cousin of Nathaniel Wyeth, whose home
  was in Milford, New Hampshire. He was a minor, and his father's
  consent was essential that he might join the party.

  Bell appears to have been insubordinate from the start, and upon
  his return to the East, published letters injurious to Wyeth's
  reputation; consult Wyeth, _Oregon Expeditions_, index.--ED.

  [33] For the River Platte, see our volume xiv, p. 219, note 170. The
  Oregon Trail from Independence led westward, south of the Kansas,
  crossing the latter stream near the present site of Topeka; thence
  up the Big and Little Blue rivers, and across country to the Platte,
  coming in near Grand Island.--ED.

The Missouri Territory[34] is a vast wilderness, consisting of
immense plains, destitute of wood and of water, except on the edges
of streams that are found near the turbid La Platte. This river owes
its source to the Rocky mountains, and runs pretty much through
the territory, without enlivening or fructifying this desert.
Some opinion may be formed of it by saying that for the space of
six hundred miles, we may be said to have been deprived of the
benefits of two of the elements, _fire_ and _water_. Here were, to
be sure, buffaloes, but after we had killed them we had no wood or
vegetables of any kind wherewith to kindle a fire for cooking. We
were absolutely compelled to dry the dung of the buffalo as the
best article we could procure for cooking our coarse beef. That
grumbling, discontent, and dejection should spring up amongst us,
was what no one can be surprised at learning. We were at times very
miserable, and our commander could be no less so; but we had put
our hands to the plough, and most of us were too stuffy to flinch,
and sneak off for home without reaching the Rocky Mountains; still
hunger is hunger, and the young and the strong feel the greatest
call for food. Every one who goes to sea may lay his account for
coming to short allowance, from violent storms, head winds, damaged
vessel, and the like; but for a band of New-England {30} men to come
to short allowance upon land, with guns, powder, and shot, was a
new idea to our Oregon adventurers, who had not prepared for it in
the article of hard bread, or flour, or potatoes, or that snug and
wholesome article, _salt fish_, so plenty at Marblehead and Cape
Ann, and so convenient to carry. When the second company shall march
from the seat of science, Cambridge, we would advise them to pack up
a few quintals of salt fish, and a few pounds of ground sago, and
salep, as a teaspoonful of it mixed with boiling water will make
three pints of good gruel, and also a competent supply of portable
soup.

  [34] The Territory of Missouri was formed in 1812 of all the
  Louisiana Purchase outside the limits of the newly-erected state
  of Louisiana. In 1819 Arkansas Territory was cut out, and the
  following year the state of Missouri. The remaining region was left
  with no definite organization; but by an act of 1830 it was defined
  as Indian Territory--south of a line drawn from Missouri River at
  the mouth of the Ponca, and west to the Rocky Mountains. This vast
  unorganized region was indefinitely called Missouri Territory,
  Indian Territory, Western Territory, and even (on one map of the
  period) Oregon Territory--although the latter name was usually
  confined to the region west of the Rockies, and north of Mexican
  bounds.--ED.

Buffaloes were plenty enough. We saw them in frightful droves, as
far as the eye could reach, appearing at a distance as if the ground
itself was moving like the sea. Such large armies of them have no
fear of man. They will travel over him and make nothing of him.
Our company after killing ten or twelve of them, never enjoyed the
benefit of more than two of them, the rest being carried off by the
wolves before morning. Beside the scarcity of meat, we suffered for
want of good and wholesome water. The La Platte is warm and muddy;
and the use of it occasioned a diarrhoea in several of our company.
Dr. Jacob Wyeth, brother of the Captain, suffered not a little from
this cause.--Should the reader wonder how we proceeded so rapidly on
our way without stopping to inquire, he must bear in mind that we
were still under the guidance of Captain Sublet, who knew every step
of the way, and had actually resided four years in different green
valleys that are here and there in the Rocky Mountains. To me it
seems that we must have perished for want of {31} sustenance in the
deserts of Missouri, had we been by ourselves. It may have been good
policy in Sublet, to attach us to him. He probably saw our rawness
in an adventure so ill provided for as ours actually was. But for
him we should hardly have provided ourselves with live stock; and
but for him we should probably never have reached the American Alps.
By this time every man began to think for himself.

We travelled six days on the south branch of the La Platte, and
then crossed over to the north branch, and on this branch of it, we
travelled eighteen days.[35] But the first three days we could not
find sufficient articles of food; and what added to our distress was
the sickness of several of our company. We noticed many trails of
the savages, but no Indians. The nearer we approached the range of
the mountains the thicker were the trees. After travelling twelve
days longer we came to the Black Hills. They are so called from
their thick growth of cedar. Here is the region of rattle snakes,
and the largest and fiercest bears,--a very formidable animal, which
it is not prudent for a man to attack alone. I have known some of
the best hunters of Sublet's company to fire five and six balls
at one before he fell. We were four days in crossing these dismal
looking hills. They would be called mountains, were they not in
the neighborhood of the Rocky Mountains, whose peaks overtop every
thing, and elevate themselves into the region of everlasting frost
and snow. Our sick suffered extremely in ascending these hills,
some of them slipped off the horses and mules they rode on, from
sheer weakness, brought on by the bowel complaint already mentioned;
among these was Dr. {32} Wyeth, our Captain's brother, who never
had a constitution fit to encounter such an expedition. And yet we
could not leave them under the care of a man, or two or three men,
and pass on without them, to follow us, when they were able. It
was to me particularly grievous to think that he, who was to take
care of the health of the company, was the first who was disabled
from helping himself or others, and this one a blood relation. It
required a man of a firmer make than Dr. Jacob Wyeth to go through
such a mountainous region as the one we were in: a man seldom does a
thing right the first time.

  [35] The Oregon trail touched the North Platte at Ash Creek, now an
  important railway junction in Deuel County, Nebraska.--ED.

From the north branch we crossed over to what was called Sweet-water
Creek.[36] This water being cool, clear, and pleasant, proved a
good remedy for our sick, as their bowel complaints were brought on
and aggravated by the warm, muddy waters of the Missouri territory
we had passed through. We came to a huge rock in the shape of a
bowl upside down. It bore the name of Independence, from, it is
said, being the resting-place of Lewis and Clarke on the 4th of
July; but according to the printed journal of those meritorious
travellers, they had not reached, or entered, the American Alps on
the day of that memorable epoch.[37] Whether we are to consider the
rock Independence as fairly in the Rocky Mountains, let others
determine. We had now certainly begun our ascent to those lofty
regions, previous to which we had to pass the chief branch of the
river La Platte; but we had no boat whatever for the purpose; and
had we not been in the company of Captain Sublet, it is hard to say
what we should have done short of going a great way round. Here I,
and others were entirely {33} convinced that we were engaged in an
expedition without being provided with the means to accomplish it.
Our boats and wagons we had disposed of at St. Louis, and here we
were on the banks of a river without even a canoe. Captain Clarke
brought his canoes to the foot of the range of mountains and there
left them. The reader will understand that not only the Missouri
river, but the Yellowstone river, the La Platte, and many other
smaller ones commence by small beginnings in the Black Hills, and in
the Rocky Mountains, and increase in size and depth as they proceed
down to join the Arkansa, or the Canadian river, and finally the
Mississippi, and so run into the vast salt ocean. Whether it was
Captain Sublet's own invention, or an invention of the Indians, we
know not, but the contrivance we used is worth mentioning. They
called it a _Bull-boat_. They first cut a number of willows (which
grow every where near the banks of all the rivers we had travelled
by from St. Louis), of about an inch and a half diameter at the
butt end, and fixed them in the ground at proper distances from
each other, and as they approached nearer one end they brought them
nearer together, so as to form something like the bow. The ends of
the whole were brought and bound firmly together, like the ribs of a
great basket; and then they took other twigs of willow and wove them
into those stuck in the ground so as to make a sort of firm, huge
basket of twelve or fourteen feet long. After this was completed,
they sewed together a number of buffalo-skins, and with them
covered the whole; and after the different parts had been trimmed
off smooth, a slow fire was made under the Bull-boat, taking care
to dry the skins moderately; and as {34} they gradually dried, and
acquired a due degree of warmth, they rubbed buffalo-tallow all over
the outside of it, so as to allow it to enter into all the seams of
the boat, now no longer a willow-basket. As the melted tallow ran
down into every seam, hole, and crevice, it cooled into a firm body
capable of resisting the water, and bearing a considerable blow
without damaging it. Then the willow-ribbed, buffalo-skin, tallowed
vehicle was carefully pulled up from the ground, and behold a boat
capable of transporting man, horse, and goods over a pretty strong
current. At the sight of it, we Yankees all burst out into a loud
laugh, whether from surprise, or pleasure, or both, I know not.
It certainly was not from ridicule; for we all acknowledged the
contrivance would have done credit to _old_ New-England.

  [36] Sweetwater River, a western affluent of the North Platte, rises
  in the Wind River Mountains, and for over a hundred miles flows
  almost directly east. The name is supposed to be derived from the
  loss at an early day of a pack-mule laden with sugar. Wyeth speaks
  of "crossing over" to this stream, because the trail abandoned the
  North Platte, which here flows through a formidable cañon, and
  reached the Sweetwater some miles above its mouth.--ED.

  [37] Lewis and Clark did not pass within hundreds of miles of
  Independence Rock, having ascended the Missouri to its source.
  Independence Rock is a well-known landmark on the Oregon Trail--an
  isolated mass covering twenty-seven acres, and towering 155 feet
  above Sweetwater River. On it were marked the names of travelers, so
  that it became the "register of the desert." Frémont in 1843 says,
  "Many a name famous in the history of this country, and some well
  known to science are to be found mixed with those of the traders and
  of travelers for pleasure and curiosity, and of missionaries to the
  savages."--ED.

While Captain Sublet and his company were binding the gunwale of the
boat with buffalo-sinews, to give it strength and due hardness, our
Captain was by no means idle. He accordingly undertook to make a
raft to transport our own goods across the river. Sublet expressed
his opinion that it would not answer where the current was strong;
but Captain Wyeth is a man not easily to be diverted from any of
his notions, or liable to be influenced by the advice of others;
so that while Sublet's men were employed on their Bull-boat, Wyeth
and a chosen few were making a raft. When finished, we first placed
our blacksmith's shop upon it, that is to say, our anvil, and large
vice, and other valuable articles belonging to black-smithery,
bar-iron, and steel traps, and alas! a cask of powder, and a number
of smaller, but valuable articles. We fixed a rope to our raft, and
with some difficulty got {35} the other end of it across the river
to the opposite bank by a man swimming with a rope in his mouth,
from some distance above the spot he aimed to reach. We took a turn
of it round a tree. Captain Sublet gave it as his opinion that the
line would not be sufficient to command the raft. But our Leader
was confident that it would; but when they had pulled about half
way over, the rope broke, and the raft caught under the limbs of a
partly submerged tree, and tipped it on one side so that we lost
our iron articles, and damaged our goods and a number of percussion
caps. This was a very serious calamity and absolutely irreparable.
Almost every disaster has some benefit growing out of it. It was
even so here. Two thirds of our company were sick, and that without
any particular disorder that we can name, but from fatigue, bad
water, scanty food, and eating flesh half raw. Add to this, worry of
mind, and serious apprehensions of our fate when the worthy Captain
Sublet should leave us; for he was, under Providence, the instrument
of our preservation. Our own individual sufferings were enough for
us to bear; but Captain Wyeth had to bear the like, and more beside,
as the responsibility lay heavy upon him. Most men would have sunk
under it. At this point of our journey we were sadly tormented by
musquetoes, that prevented our sleep after the fatigues of the
day. This little contemptible insect, which they call here a gnat,
disturbed us more than bears, or wolves, or snakes.

The next day after we started from this unlucky place, we descried
a number of men on horseback, approaching us at full speed. Various
were our conjectures. Captain Sublet had an apprehension that they
might be hostile Indians who fight on {36} horseback; he therefore
ordered every man to make fast his horse as quick as possible, and
prepare for battle on foot. But on their near approach, we found
them a body of white men called _trappers_, whose occupation is
to entrap the beaver and other animals that have valuable furs.
Captain Sublet has, for several years, had about two hundred of
these trappers in his pay, in and around the Rocky Mountains, and
this troop was a party of them. His place of rendezvous for them
is at _Pierre's Hole_, by which name they call one of those deep
and verdant valleys which are to be found in the Rocky Mountains
from the eastern boundary of them to their extreme edge in the
west, where the Oregon or Columbia river commences under the name
of Clark's river, some branches of which inosculate with the mighty
Missouri on the east. It is to _Pierre's_ valley or _Hole_, that
his trappers resort to meet their employer every summer. It is here
they bring their peltry and receive their pay; and this traffic has
been kept up between them a number of years with good faith on both
sides, and to mutual satisfaction and encouragement. When Sublet
leaves St. Louis, he brings up tobacco, coffee, rice, powder, shot,
paint, beads, handkerchiefs and all those articles of finery that
please both Indian women and men; and having established that sort
of traffic with his friends, the Indians on and in the vicinity of
the Rocky Mountains, what chance was there that any small band from
Boston, or even Cambridge, could supplant him in the friendship and
confidence of his old acquaintance, the Shoshonees, the Black-feet,
or any other tribe? He must have seen this at once, and been
convinced that nothing like rivalship could {37} rise up between him
and the New-England adventurers. He therefore caressed them, and, in
a manner, incorporated them with his troop.

This gentleman was born in America of French parents,[38] and
partakes largely of those good-humored, polite, and accommodating
manners which distinguish the nation he sprang from. The old
French war, and wars on this continent since then, amply prove how
much better Frenchmen conciliate the natives than the English.
The English and the Americans, when they come in contact with the
untutored savage, most commonly fight. But not so the French. They
please and flatter the Indian, give him powder, and balls, and
flints, and guns, and make a Catholic of him, and make out to live
in friendship with the red man and woman of the wilderness. It is
strange that such extremes of character should meet. Some have said
that they are not so very far distant as others have imagined,--that
the refined French people love war, and the women paint their
faces, grease their hair, and wear East India blankets, called
shawls.--Captain Sublet possesses, doubtless, that conciliating
disposition so characteristic of the French, and not so frequently
found among the English or Americans; for the descendants of both
nations bear strong marks of the stock they came from. The French
have always had a stronger hold of the affections of the Indians
than any other people.

  [38] Captain William Sublette was born in Kentucky. His maternal
  grandfather was Captain Whitby, a noted pioneer of Irish ancestry.
  The Sublettes were also of Kentucky stock; and if French originally,
  came early to America. See our volume xix, p. 221, note 55
  (Gregg).--ED.

The trappers kept company with us till we came to Pierre's Hole,
or valley, which is twelve miles from the spot where we first met
them. Three or four days after, we were fired on by the Indians
about ten o'clock at night. They had assembled to about the number
of three hundred. They stole {38} five horses from us, and three
from Sublet's company.[39] About the first of July we crossed the
highest part or ridge of the mountains.[40] In addition to the
mountain composed of earth, sand, and stone, including common
rocks, there were certain peaks resembling a loaf of sugar, from a
hundred to two hundred feet high; and some appeared much higher; I
cannot guess their height. They were to us surprising. Their sides
deviated but little from perpendicular. They looked at a distance
like some light-houses of a conical form, or like our Cambridge
glass manufactories; but how they acquired that form is wonderful.
Subsiding waters may have left them so, after washing away sandy
materials. But nature is altogether wonderful, in her large works
as well as small. How little do we know of the first cause of any
thing! We had to creep round the base of these steep edifices of
nature. We now more clearly understand and relish the question
of one of our Indians who was carried to England as a show, who,
on being shown that elegant pile of stone, the cathedral of St.
Paul, after viewing it in silent admiration, asked his interpreter
_whether it was made by men's hands, or whether it grew there_. We
might ask the same question respecting these conical mountains. Had
the scaffolding of St. Paul's remained, the surprise and wonder of
the sensible savage had been less.

  [39] This attack was attributed to the same band of Blackfeet with
  whom the Battle of Pierre's Hole occurred some days later. See
  Wyeth, _Oregon Expeditions_, p. 158; Irving, _Rocky Mountains_, i,
  p. 75.--ED.

  [40] This is South Pass, so named in contradistinction to the
  northern passes undertaken by Lewis and Clark. It is not known by
  whom this mountain passage was discovered, but probably by some of
  Ashley's parties in 1823. The ascent is so gradual that, although
  7,500 feet above sea-level, its elevation is not perceived, and in
  1843 Frémont could with difficulty tell just where he crossed the
  highest point of the divide.--ED.

It was difficult to keep our feet on these highest parts of the
mountains; some of the pack-horses slipped and rolled over and
over, and yet were taken up alive. Those that did not fall were
sadly bruised and lamed in their feet and joints. Mules are best
calculated, as we experienced, for such difficult travelling. They
seem to think, and to judge {39} of the path before them, and
will sometimes put their fore feet together and slip down without
stepping. They are as sagacious in crossing a river, where there
is a current. They will not attempt to go straight over, but will
breast the tide by passing obliquely upwards. One of our horses was
killed by a fall down one of these precipices, and it was surprising
that more of them did not share the like fate. Buffaloes were so
scarce here, that we were obliged to feed on our dried meat, and
this scarcity continued till after we had gained the head sources of
the Columbia river. For the last five days we have had to travel on
the Colorado of the West, which is a very long river, and empties
into the gulph of California.[41]

  [41] The upper waters of the Colorado River are now usually termed
  Green River, from the "Rio Verte" of the Spaniards. This great
  stream rises on the western slopes of the Wind River Mountains;
  flowing nearly south, gathering many mountain streams, it next turns
  abruptly east into the northwest corner of Colorado, and having
  rounded the Uintah range trends to the south-southwest through Utah,
  until joined by Grand River, when it becomes the Colorado proper.
  The first attempt to navigate this formidable waterway was made by
  Ashley's party in 1825, although Becknell is known to have visited
  it the previous year. Consult Chittenden's _Fur-Trade_, ii, pp. 509,
  778-781, and F. S. Dellenbaugh, _Romance of the Colorado River_ (New
  York, 1902).--ED.

On the 4th of July, 1832, we arrived at Lewis's fork, one of the
largest rivers in these rocky mountains.[42] It took us all day
to cross it. It is half a mile wide, deep, and rapid. The way we
managed was this: one man unloaded his horse, and swam across with
him, leading two loaded ones, and unloading the two, brought them
back, for two more, and as Sublet's company and our own made over
a hundred and fifty, we were all day in passing the river. In
returning, my mule, by treading on a round stone, stumbled and threw
me off, and the current was so strong, that a bush which I caught
hold of only saved me from drowning.

  [42] From Green River the caravan crossed the divide between the
  Colorado and Columbia systems, and came upon a branch of Lewis
  (or Snake) River, probably Hoback's River. They did not reach the
  main Lewis until July 6, arriving at the rendezvous on the morning
  of July 8, after crossing Teton Pass. Consult Wyeth, _Oregon
  Expeditions_, pp. 158, 159.--ED.

This being Independence-Day, we drank the health of our friends in
Massachusetts, in good clear water, as that was the only liquor we
had to drink in remembrance of our homes and dear connexions. If
I may judge by my own feelings and by the looks of my companions,
there was more of melancholy than joy amongst us. We were almost
{40} four thousand miles from Boston, and in saying Boston we mean
at the same time our native spot Cambridge, as they are separated
by a wooden bridge only. From the north fork of Lewis's river we
passed on to an eminence called Teton mountain, where we spent
the night. The next day was pleasant, and serene. Captain Sublet
came in the evening to inquire how many of our company were sick,
as they must ride, it being impossible for them to go on foot any
farther. His kindness and attention I never can forget. Dr. Jacob
Wyeth, the Captain's brother, George More, and Stephen Burdit[43]
were too weak to walk. To accommodate them with horses, Captain
Wyeth was obliged to dig a hole in the earth, and therein bury the
goods which had been hitherto carried on horseback. In the language
of the Trappers this hiding of goods was called _cacher_ or hidden
treasure, being the French term for 'to hide.' When they dig these
hiding-holes they carefully carry the earth on a buffalo-skin to
a distance, so as to leave no marks or traces of the ground being
dug up or disturbed: and this was done to secure the _caché_ from
being stolen by the Indians or the white men. The goods so hidden
are wrapt up in buffalo-skins to keep them dry, before the earth
is put over them. Nor is this all; they make a fire over the spot,
and all this to prevent the Indians from suspecting that treasure
is caché, or hidden there, while the owner of it takes care to mark
the bearing of the spot on some tree, or rock, or some other object
that may lead him to recognise the place again. But I have my doubts
whether they who hid the goods will ever return that way to dig up
their hidden treasure. We did not meddle with it on our return with
Captain Sublet.

  [43] More was killed by Indians; see _post_. Captain Wyeth found his
  powder flask at Fort Union upon his return in the summer of 1833.
  Burdett went on to Oregon, where he resided for some years.--ED.

{41} On the 5th of July we started afresh rather low-spirited. We
looked with sadness on the way before us. The mountain was here
pretty thickly timbered down its slopes, and wherever the ground is
level. The pines and hemlock trees were generally about eighteen
inches through. It had snowed, and we were now at a height where the
snow commonly lies all the year round. Which ever way we looked,
the region presented a dreary aspect. No one could wonder that even
some of us who were in health, were, at times, somewhat homesick. If
this was the case with us, what must have been the feelings of our
three sick fellow travellers. We passed through a snow bank three
feet deep. We well ones passed on with Captain Sublet to the top
of the mountain, and there waited until our sick men came up with
us. George More fell from his horse through weakness. He might have
maintained his seat on level ground, but ascending and descending
required more exertion than he could call forth; and this was the
case also with Dr. Wyeth. Burdit made out a little better. When
we encamped at night, we endured a snow storm. Sublet's company
encamped about two miles from us; for at best we could hardly keep
up with his veteran company. They were old and experienced trappers,
and we, compared with them, young and inexperienced soldiers, little
imagining that we should ever have to encounter such hardships, in
realizing our dreams of making a fortune. Ignorance of the future is
not always to be considered among the calamities of man.

Captain Sublet's grand rendezvous, or Head Quarters, was about
twelve miles from our encampment.[44] He had there about two hundred
{42} trappers, or beaver-hunters; or more properly speaking,
_skinners_ of entrapped animals; or _peltry_-hunters, for they
chased but few of the captured beasts. To these were added about
five hundred Indians, of the rank of warriors, all engaged in the
same pursuit and traffic of the fur-trade. They were principally
the _Flat-heads_,[45] so called from their flattening the heads
of their young children, by forcing them to wear a piece of wood,
like a bit of board, so as to cause the skull to grow flat, which
they consider a mark of beauty even among the females. They are
otherwise dandies and belles in their dress and ornaments. This
large body of horse made a fine appearance, especially their long
hair; for, as there was a pleasant breeze of wind, their hair blew
out straight all in one direction, which had the appearance of so
many black streamers. When we met they halted and fired three rounds
by way of salute, which we returned; and then followed such friendly
greetings as were natural and proper between such high contracting
powers and great and good allies. This parade was doubtless made by
Sublet for the sake of effect. It was showing us, Yankee barbarians,
_their Elephants_;--like General and Lord Howe's military display
to our commissioners of Congress on Staten Island, when the British
Brothers proposed that celebrated interview; and when Dr. Franklin,
Mr. Adams, and some others of the deputation, whose names I do not
now recollect, assumed all that careless indifference, very common
with the Indians on meeting a white embassy; for the express purpose
of conveying an idea, that we, though the weakest in discipline and
numbers, are not awe-struck by your fine dress, glittering arms, and
full-fed persons.

  [44] Pierre's Hole, known more recently as Teton Basin, is a grassy
  valley trending northwest and southeast, thirty miles long, and from
  five to fifteen wide, in eastern Idaho, just across the Wyoming
  border. Pierre (or Teton) River flows through it gathering affluents
  on the way. The valley was a well-known rendezvous, taking its name
  from Pierre, an Iroquois employé of the Hudson's Bay Company, who
  was here murdered by the Blackfeet. The Astorian overland expedition
  passed through this valley both going and returning (1811, 1812).
  The most notable event in its history was the battle which Wyeth
  recounts. It was not on the regular Oregon trail; see Townsend's
  _Narrative_, _post._--ED.

  [45] For the Flatheads, see Franchère's _Narrative_, in our volume
  vi, p. 340, note 145.--ED.

{43} It was now the 6th of July,[46] 1832, being sixty-four days
since we left the settlements of the white people. Captain Sublet
encamped his forces; and then pointed out to Captain Wyeth the
ground which he thought would be most proper for us; and altogether
we looked like a little army. Not but what we felt small compared
with our great and powerful allies.

  [46] According to Nathaniel Wyeth's journal, it was July 8 before
  his party arrived in Pierre's Hole. They found that Drips, the
  American Fur Company agent, had, with many independent trappers,
  reached there before them.--ED.

We were overjoyed to think that we had got to a resting-place, where
we could repose our weary limbs, and recruit the lost strength of
our sick. While Sublet was finishing his business with his Indian
trappers, they delivering their peltry, and he remunerating them
in his way with cloth, powder, ball, beads, knives, handkerchiefs,
and all that gawdy trumpery which Indians admire, together with
coffee, rice, and corn, also leather, and other articles,--we, being
idle, had time to think, to reflect, and to be uneasy. We had been
dissatisfied for some time, but we had not leisure to communicate
it and systematize our grievances. I, with others, had spoken with
Captain Sublet, and him we found conversable and communicative.
Myself and some others requested Captain Wyeth to call a meeting
of his followers, to ask information, and to know what we were now
to expect, seeing we had passed over as we supposed the greatest
difficulties, and were now nearly four thousand miles from the
_Atlantic_, and within four hundred miles of the _Pacific Ocean_,
the end and aim of our laborious expedition, the field where we
expected to reap our promised harvest. We wished to have what we
had been used to at home,--a town meeting,--or a parish meeting,
where every freeman has an equal right to speak his sentiments, and
to vote thereon. {44} But Captain Wyeth was by no means inclined to
this democratical procedure. The most he seemed inclined to, was a
_caucus_ with a select few; of whom neither his own brother, though
older than himself, nor myself, was to be of the number. After
considerable altercation, he concluded to call a meeting of the
whole, on business interesting and applicable to all. We accordingly
met, Captain Wyeth in the chair, or on the stump, I forget which.
Instead of every man speaking his own mind, or asking such questions
as related to matters that lay heaviest on his mind, the Captain
commenced the business by ordering the roll to be called; and as
the names were called, the clerk asked the person if he would go
on. The first name was Nathaniel J. Wyeth, whom we had dubbed
_Captain_, who answered--"I shall go on."--The next was William Nud,
who, before he answered, wished to know what the Captain's plan
and intentions were, whether to try to commence a small colony, or
to trap and trade for beaver? To which Captain Wyeth replied, that
_that_ was none of our business. Then Mr. Nud said, "I shall not
go on;" and as the names of the rest were called, there appeared
_seven_ persons out of the _twenty-one_, who were determined to
return home. Of the number so determined was, besides myself, Dr.
Jacob Wyeth, the Captain's brother, whose strength had never been
equal to such a journey. His constitution forbade it. He was brought
up at College. Here were discontents on both sides; criminations
and recriminations. A commander of a band of associated adventurers
has a very hard task. The commanded, whether in a school, or in a
regiment, or company, naturally combine in feeling against {45}
their leader; and this is so natural that armies are obliged to make
very strict rules, and to pursue rigid discipline. It is so also
on ship-board. Our merchant ships cannot sail in safety without
exacting prompt obedience; and disobedience in the common seamen is
mutiny, and mutiny is a high crime, and approximates to piracy. It
is pretty much so in these long and distant exploring expeditions.
The Captain cannot always with safety satisfy all the questions
put to him by those under his command; and it would lead to great
inconvenience to entrust any, even a brother, with any information
concealed from the rest. There must be secrecy, and there must
be confidence. We had travelled through a dreary wilderness, an
infinitely worse country than Palestine; yet Moses himself could
not have kept together the Israelites without the aid of miracles;
and the history we have given of our boat-like arks, and the wreck
of our raft, and the loss of our heaviest articles may lead most
readers to suspect that our Leader to his Land of Promise was not an
inspired man. In saying this, we censure no one, we only lament our
common frailty. Reflect a moment, considerate reader! on our humble
means, for an expedition of FOUR THOUSAND _miles_, compared with
the ample means, rich and complete out-fit, letters of credit, and
every thing deemed needful, given to _Captains Lewis_ and _Clarke_,
under the orders of the government of the United States; and yet
they several times came very near starving for the want of food, and
of _fuel_, even in the _Oregon_ territory! In all books of voyages
and travels, who ever heard of the utmost distress for want of wood,
leaves, roots, coal, or turf to cook {46} with? Yet all through
the dreary wilderness of Missouri, we were obliged to use the dung
of buffaloes, or eat raw flesh. The reader will scarcely believe
that this was the case even at mouth of the Oregon river. Clarke
and Lewis had to buy wood of the Indians, who had hardly enough
for themselves. To be deprived of solid food soon ends in death;
but we were often deprived of the two elements out of four, _fire_
and _water_, and when on the Rocky mountains, of a _third_, I mean
_earth_; for everything beneath our feet and around us was stone.
We had, be sure, _air_ enough, and too much too, sometimes enough
almost to blow our hair off.

But to return to our dismal list of grievances. Almost every one of
the company wished to go no farther; but they found themselves too
feeble and exhausted to think of encountering the risk of a march
on foot of three thousand five hundred miles through such a country
as we came. We asked Captain Wyeth to let us have our muskets and
a sufficiency of ammunition, which request he refused. Afterwards,
he collected all the guns, and after selecting such as he and his
companions preferred, he gave us the refuse; many of which were
unfit for use. There were two tents belonging to the company, of
which he gave us one; which we pitched about a quarter of a mile
from his. George More expressed his determination of returning
home, and asked for a horse, which after considerable difficulty
he obtained. This was July 10th. The Captain likewise supplied his
brother with a horse and a hundred dollars.

On the 12th of July, Captain Wyeth, after moving his tent half
a mile farther from ours, put himself under the command of Mr.
Milton Sublet,[47] {47} brother of Captain William Sublet so often
mentioned. This Captain Milton Sublet had about twenty men under his
command, all trappers; so that hereafter as far as I know, it was
Wyeth, Sublet and Co.; so that the reader will understand, that Dr.
Jacob Wyeth, Palmer, Law, Batch, and myself concluded to retrace our
steps to St. Louis in company with Captain William Sublet, while
Captain Nathaniel J. Wyeth remained with Milton Sublet, and his
twenty men. I have been unreasonably blamed for leaving my kinsman
beyond the Rocky Mountains with only eleven of his company, and that
too when we were within about four hundred miles of the mouth of the
Columbia, _alias_ Oregon river, where it pours into the _boisterous_
Pacific Ocean, for such Lewis and Clarke found it to their cost.

  [47] Milton G. Sublette was a younger brother of William L.--for
  whom, see our volume xix, p. 221, note 55 (Gregg). He was a partner
  in the Rocky Mountain Fur Company, and an able trader; but disease
  in one of his legs obliged him to abandon the expedition of 1834.
  See Townsend's _Narrative_, _post_. The ailing leg was twice
  amputated, but to no avail, and he died at Fort Laramie, December
  19, 1836.--ED.

The spot where we now were, is a valley, between two mountains,
about ten miles wide, so lofty that their tops are covered with
snow, while it was warm and pleasant where we pitched our tent.
This agreeable valley is called by the trappers _Pierre's-Hole_, as
if it were a dismal residence; and was the most western point that
I visited, being about, we conjectured, four hundred miles short
of the mouth of the Oregon river, whence the territory derives its
name, which Mr. Hall J. Kelly has described as another paradise!
O! the magic of sounds and inflated words! Whether Captain Wyeth's
expedition was wise or imprudent we are not prepared to say; but
under existing circumstances, half of his company having left him,
and among them his own brother, the surgeon of the expedition, we
cannot see what better he could have done than to ally himself to
an experienced band of hunters, as a step necessary {48} to his
own preservation. He was three thousand and five hundred miles from
the Atlantic Ocean, with only eleven men, and half his goods lost
or expended, and no resource of supply short of St. Louis, nineteen
hundred miles from them. Had not the Sublets been with them from
that place through the wilderness of Missouri and La Platte, it is
hardly probable they would have ever reached the west side of the
Rocky Mountains. In passing judgment on this strange expedition, we
must take in, beside facts, probabilities and casualties.

On the 17th of July, Captain Wyeth and Captain Milton Sublet set
out westward with their respective men to go to Salmon river to
winter.[48] The former had eleven beside himself: that river they
computed at two hundred miles distance. Wyeth accordingly purchased
twenty-five horses from the Indians, who had a great number, and
those very fine, and high-spirited. Indeed the Western region seems
the native and congenial country for horses. They were, however,
delayed till the next day. But when they were about moving, they
perceived a drove of something, whether buffaloes or men they could
not determine with the naked eye; but when aided by the glass, they
recognized them for a body of the _Black-foot_ tribe of Indians,
a powerful and warlike nation. As this movement was evidently
hostile, Captain Milton Sublet dispatched two men to call on his
brother, who was about eight miles off, for assistance; when Captain
William Sublet ordered every man to get ready immediately. We had
about five hundred friendly Indian warriors with us, who expressed
their willingness to join in our defence.

  [48] The Salmon is entirely an Idaho River--one of the largest and
  most important affluents of the Lewis (or Snake). Its sources are in
  the central part of the state, nearly one hundred and fifty miles
  west of Wyeth's present position. It flows north, then directly
  west, and again makes a long northward sweep before losing itself in
  Lewis River. It is a mountainous stream, not navigable for any great
  distance. Lewis and Clark (1805) first saw Columbian waters upon
  the Lemhi--an eastern affluent of the Salmon. Later, Captain Clark
  made a reconnaissance some fifty miles down the Salmon, hoping to
  find the way thence to the Columbia; but he was turned back by the
  rocky cañons and rapids, and the expedition thenceforth took its way
  by land across the mountains. On the return journey (1806) a party
  of Lewis and Clark's men advanced to the lower Salmon in search of
  provisions. The river has since been of note in fur-trading and
  trapping annals.--ED.

{49} As soon as we left Captain Wyeth we joined Captain Sublet,
as he said that no white man should be there unless he was to be
under his command; and his reason for it was that in case they had
to fight the Indians, no one should flinch or sneak out of the
battle. It seems that when the Black-foot Indians saw us moving
in battle array, they appeared to hesitate; and at length they
displayed a white flag as an ensign of peace; but Sublet knew their
treacherous character. The chief of the friendly Flat-heads and
Antoine[49] rode together, and concerted this savage arrangement;
to ride up and accost them in a friendly manner; and when the
Black-foot chief should take hold of the Flat-head chief's hand in
token of friendship, then the other was to shoot him, which was
instantly done! and at that moment the Flat-head chief pulled off
the Black-foot's scarlet robe, and returned with the Captain to our
party unhurt. As soon as the Black-foot Indians recovered from their
surprise, they displayed a _red_ flag, and the battle began. This
was _Joab_ with a vengeance,--_Art thou in health, my brother?_

  [49] Antoine Godin was a half-breed whose father, of Iroquois
  origin, had been killed by Blackfeet upon a creek bearing his name.
  Antoine went out with Wyeth's company, that built Fort Hall in
  1834; while in camp there, he was enticed across the river, and
  treacherously shot (see Townsend's _Narrative_, _post_).--ED.

The Black-foot chief was a man of consequence in his nation. He
not only wore on this occasion a robe of scarlet cloth, probably
obtained from a Christian source, but was decorated with beads
valued there at sixty dollars. The battle commenced on the Prairie.
As soon as the firing began on both sides, the squaws belonging to
the Black-foot forces, retreated about fifty yards into a small
thicket of wood, and there threw up a ridge of earth by way of
entrenchment, having first piled up a number of logs cob-fashion, to
which the men at length fell back, and from {50} which they fired
upon us, while some of their party with the women were occupied in
deepening the trench. Shallow as it was, it afforded a considerable
security to an Indian, who will often shoot a man from behind a
tree near to its root, while the white man is looking to see his
head pop out at man's height. This has taught the United States
troops, to load their muskets while lying on their backs, and firing
in an almost supine posture. When the Duke of Saxe-Weimer was in
Cambridge,[50] he noticed this, to him, novel mode of firing, which
he had never before seen; and this was in a volunteer company of
militia.--I do not mean to say that the Indians fired only in a
supine posture; when they had loaded they most commonly rose up
and fired, and then down on the ground again to re-load.--In this
action with the formidable Black-foot tribe, Captain Nathaniel J.
Wyeth's party had no concern. He himself was in it a very short
time, but retired from the contest doubtless for good reasons.
After contesting the matter with the warlike tribe about six hours,
Captain Sublet found it of little avail to fight them in this
way. He therefore determined to charge them at once, which was
accordingly done. He led, and ordered his men to follow him, and
this proved effectual. Six beside himself first met the savages
hand to hand; of these seven, four were wounded, and one killed.
The Captain was wounded in his arm and shoulder-blade. The Indians
did not, however, retreat entirely, so that we kept up a random
fire until dark; the ball and the arrows were striking the trees
after we could see the effects of one and of the other. There was
something terrific to our men in their arrows. The idea of a barbed
arrow sticking {51} in a man's body, as we had observed it in the
deer and other animals, was appalling to us all, and it is no wonder
that some of our men recoiled at it. They regarded a leaden bullet
much less. We may judge from this the terror of the savages on being
met the first time by fire arms,--a sort of thunder and lightning
followed by death without seeing the fatal shot.

  [50] Carl Bernhard, duke of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach (1792-1862),
  visited America, and published _Travels in North America in the
  years 1825 and 1826_ (Philadelphia, 1828).--ED.

In this battle with the Indians, not one of those who had belonged
to Captain Wyeth's company received any injury. There were, however,
seven white men of Sublet's company killed, and thirteen wounded.
Twenty-five of our Indians were killed and thirty-five wounded. The
next morning a number of us went back to the Indian fort, so called,
where we found one dead man and two women, and also twenty-five dead
horses, a proof that the Black-foot were brave men.[51] The number
of them was uncertain. We calculated that they amounted to about
three hundred. We guessed that the reason the three dead bodies
were left at the entrenchment was, that they had not enough left to
carry off their dead and wounded. This affair delayed Captain Wyeth
three days, and Captain Sublet ten days. The names of those who left
Captain Wyeth to return home, were Dr. Jacob Wyeth, John B. Wyeth,
his cousin, William Nud, Theophilus Beach, R. L. Wakefield, Hamilton
Law, George More, ---- Lane, and Walter Palmer.[52] The names of
those who remained attached to Captain Wyeth, and who went on with
him to Salmon river, are J. Woodman, Smith, G. Sargent, ---- Abbot,
W. Breck, S. Burditt, ---- Ball, St. Clair, C. Tibbits, G. Trumbull,
and ---- Whittier.[53]

  [51] According to Irving (_Rocky Mountains_, i, p. 85), who had
  conversed with several of the participants, the Blackfeet left ten
  dead in the fort, and reported their loss as twenty-six. Irving
  also makes the number of dead and wounded whites and allied Indians
  smaller than Wyeth's estimate.--ED.

  [52] Of this company William Nudd and George More were afterwards
  killed in the mountains; the others reached the settlements.--ED.

  [53] Three of this number--Solomon Howard Smith, John Ball, and
  Calvin Tibbitts--became prominent in Oregon life. Trumbull died
  at Fort Vancouver during the winter of 1832-33. Wiggin Abbot
  accompanied Nathaniel Wyeth on his return (1833) and aided in
  preparing for the latter's second expedition. He was later murdered
  by the Bannock--see Townsend's _Narrative_, _post_.

  Solomon H. Smith, from New Hampshire, was employed as school-teacher
  at Fort Vancouver, and afterwards settled in the Willamette Valley.
  Having married Celiast, daughter of a Clatsop chief, he made his
  home at Clatsop Plains with the missionaries, and there lived until
  his death. His son, Silas B. Smith, was an attorney at Warrenton,
  Oregon.

  John Ball came from Troy, New York, and remained in Oregon until the
  autumn of 1833, teaching at Fort Vancouver, and raising grain on the
  Willamette. After returning to the United States, he contributed an
  article on the geology and geography of the region, through which he
  had travelled, to _Silliman's Journal_, xxviii, pp. 1-16. Ball left
  Troy in 1836, and removed to Grand Rapids, Michigan. See his letter
  in Montana Historical Society _Collections_, i, (1876), pp. 111, 112.

  Calvin Tibbitts was a stone-cutter from Maine. He settled at
  Chemyway and later removed to Clatsop Plains, where he lived with a
  native wife, and aided missionary enterprise. He made two successful
  journeys to California for cattle, and later was the judge of
  Clatsop County.--ED.

When they had gone three days journey from us, {52} as they were
riding securely in the middle of the afternoon, about thirty of
the Black-foot Indians, who lay in ambush about twenty yards from
them, suddenly sprang up and fired. The surprise occasioned the
horses to wheel about, which threw off George More, and mortally
wounded one of the men, Alfred K. Stevens.[54] As the Indians knew
that More could not get away from them, they passed him, and about
twenty Indians were coming up the hill where they were. Eight or ten
Indians followed up while only five trappers had gained the hill.
They were considering how to save George More, when one of them shot
him through the head, which was a better fate than if they had taken
him alive, as they would have tortured him to death.

  [54] Alfred K. Stephens had participated in the Santa Fé trade,
  and had in the summer of 1831 led a party of twenty-one men in a
  free trapping excursion along the Laramie River. Discouraged by ill
  success, he made an agreement with Fitzpatrick to serve under the
  Rocky Mountain Fur Company. After this attack in Jackson's Hole,
  Stephens returned to Pierre's Hole, and rejoined Sublette, only to
  fall victim to his wound, dying July 30, 1832.

  It would appear from John Wyeth's narrative at this point, that he
  remained with William Sublette at Pierre's Hole, while More and
  those more eager to set forth had gone on under the leadership of
  Alfred Stephens.--ED.

We have said that Captain Wyeth and the few who had concluded to go
on with him, were ready to begin their march for Salmon river. On
this occasion Captain Milton Sublet escorted them about one hundred
miles, so as to protect them from the enraged Black-feet, and then
left them to take care of themselves for the winter; and this is
the last tidings we have had of Captain Nathaniel J. Wyeth, and his
reduced band of adventurers.[55] If we have been rightly informed,
their chief hope was residing on a pleasant river where there was
plenty of salmon, and probably elk and deer, and water-fowl; and
we hope fuel, for to our surprise, we learnt that wood for firing
was among their great wants. I have since been well-informed that
in the valley of Oregon, so much extolled for its fertility and
pleasantness, wood to cook with is one among their scarcest and
very dear articles of necessity. From all accounts, except those
given {53} to the public by Mr. Kelly, there is not a district at
the mouth of any large river more unproductive than that of the
_Columbia_, and it seems that this is pretty much the case from the
tide water of that river to where it empties into the ocean.

  [55] Nathaniel Wyeth crossed to the Columbia, arriving at the
  Hudson's Bay Company post of Walla Walla, October 14, and at Fort
  Vancouver later in the same month. Here the remainder of his men
  left his service.--ED.

The Flat-head Indians are a brave and we had reason to believe a
sincere people. We had many instances of their honesty and humanity.
They do not lie, steal, nor rob any one, unless when driven too
near to starvation; and then any man black, white, or red will seize
any thing to save himself from an agonizing death. The Flat-heads
were well dressed. They wore buck-skin frocks and pantaloons,
and moccasins, with seldom any thing on their heads. They draw a
piece of fresh buffalo hide on their feet, and at night sleep with
their feet not far from the fire, and in the morning find their
shoes sitting as snug to their feet as if they had been measured
by the first shoe-maker in Boston. It is probable that no people
have so little shoe-pinching as these savages. I never heard any
one complain of corns, or kibed-heels, severe as the weather is in
winter. The women wear moccasins also, but whether made in the same
extempore method as those of the men, I know not. I suspect they
must experience some shoe-pinching. They wear a petticoat, and a
frock of some sort of leather, according to fancy, but all decent
and comfortable. In rainy weather, or when very cold, they throw a
buffalo-skin over their shoulders, with the fur inside. They have no
stationary wigwams; but have a sort of tent, which they fix down or
remove with facility. In Major Long's book may be seen an engraved
representation of them.[56] Their mode of cooking is by roasting and
boiling. They {54} will pick a goose, or a brant, and run a stick
through its body and so roast it, without taking out its entrails.
They are, according to our notions, very nasty cooks.

  [56] The reference is to James's _Long's Expedition_, reprinted as
  volumes xiv-xvii of our series. The illustration here referred to is
  in our volume xvi, p. 107.--ED.

I know not what to say of their religion. I saw nothing like images,
or any objects of worship whatever, and yet they appeared to keep a
sabbath; for there is a day on which they do not hunt nor gamble,
but sit moping all day and look like fools. There certainly appeared
among them an honor, or conscience, and sense of justice. They
would do what they promised, and return our strayed horses, and
lost articles. Now and then, but rarely, we found a pilferer, but
not oftener than among the frontier white people. The Indians of
all tribes are disposed to give you something to eat. It is a fact
that we never found an Indian of any tribe disposed to treat us with
that degree of inhospitality that we experienced in crossing the
Alleghany Mountains, in the State of Pennsylvania.

The Black-foot tribe are the tallest and stoutest men of any we
have seen, nearly or quite six feet in stature, and of a lighter
complexion than the rest.

The Indian warriors carry muskets, bows, and arrows, the last in
a quiver. The bows are made of walnut, about three feet long, and
the string of the sinews of the buffalo, all calculated for great
elasticity, and will reach an object at a surprising distance. It
was to us a much more terrific weapon of war than a musket. We had
one man wounded in the thigh by an arrow; he was obliged to ford
a river in his hasty retreat, and probably took a chill, which
occasioned a mortification, of {55} which he died. The arrows are
headed with flint as sharp as broken glass; the other end of the
arrow is furnished with an eagle's feather to steady its flight.
Some of these aboriginals, as we learn from Lewis, Clarke, and
Major Long, especially the last, have shields or targets; some so
long as to reach from the head to the ancle. Now the question is
how came our North American Indians with bows and arrows? It is not
likely that they invented them, seeing they so exactly resemble
the bows and arrows of the old world, the Greeks and Romans. They
are the same weapon to a feather. This is a fresh proof that our
savage tribes of this continent emigrated from the old one; and
I have learned from a friend to whom I am indebted for several
ideas, which no one could suppose to have originated with myself,
that the Indian's bow goes a great way to settle a disputed point
respecting what part of the old world the ancestors of our Indians
came from,--whether Asia or Europe. Now the Asiatic bow and our
Indian bow are of a different form. The first has a straight
piece in the middle, like the crossbow, being such an one as is
commonly depicted in the hands of Cupid; whereas our Indian bow is
a section of a circle, while the Persian or Asiatic bow has two
wings extending from a straight piece in the middle. Hence we have
reason to conclude that the first comers from the old world to the
new, came not from those regions renowned for their cultivation of
the arts and sciences. The idea that our North American Indians
came over from Scythia, that is, the northern part, so called, of
Europe and Asia, whether it is correct to call them Scythians,
Tartars, or Russians, I leave others to determine. We {56} have many
evidences that our Northern Indians have a striking resemblance
in countenance, color, and person to the most northern tribes of
Tartars, who inhabit Siberia, or Asiatic Russia. The Black-foot
Indians who inhabit small rivers that empty into the Missouri,
resemble in mode of living, manners, and character, the Calmuc
Tartars. Both fight on horseback, both are very brave, and both
inured to what we should consider a very hard life as it regards
food. Both avoid as much as they can stationary dwellings, and use
tents made with skins.

On this subject we ought not to omit mentioning that the Indians on
all sides of the Rocky mountains have several customs both among
men and the _women_, which might lead some to conclude that our
Northern and Western Indians descended from the Israelites; and
this similarity is certainly very remarkable; yet there is one very
strong fact against that hypothesis, namely, there is not the least
trace amongst our Indians of the _eight-day rite_ of the Jewish
males, which sore, and, to us, strange ceremony would hardly have
been forgotten, had it been practiced by our Indians. If our idea be
well-founded on this subject, the custom could have originated only
in warm and redundant climates, so that had Moses marched first from
the shores of the Baltic, as did the Goths, instead of the shores
of the Red sea, the Jews never would have been subjected to the
operation of circumcision.

After all, it is very likely that the Persians came from a different
stock from that which peopled the Western and Northern parts
of America,--I mean from the warmer regions of Asia. They seem
possessed of more delicate marks of person and of mind {57} than the
fighting savages of the North. There appears to be a strong line of
separation between them, as far as our information goes.

To return to our own story. After the battle at Pierre's Valley,
I had an opportunity of seeing a specimen of Indian surgery in
treating a wound. An Indian squaw first sucked the wound perfectly
dry, so that it appeared white as chalk; and then she bound it up
with a piece of dry buck-skin as soft as woollen cloth, and by this
treatment the wound began to heal, and soon closed up, and the part
became sound again. The sucking of it so effectually may have been
from an apprehension of a poisoned arrow. But who taught the savage
Indian that a person may take poison into his mouth without any
risk, as the poison of a rattlesnake without harm, provided there be
no scratch or wound in the mouth, so as to admit it into the blood?

Three of the men that left Captain Wyeth when I did, enlisted with
Captain Sublet to follow the trapping business for the period of one
year, namely, Wakefield, Nud, and Lane, leaving Dr. Jacob Wyeth,
H. Law, T. Beach, W. Palmer, and myself. We accordingly set out on
the twenty-eighth day of July, 1832, with Captain William Sublet,
for home; and thus ended all my fine prospects and flattering
expectations of acquiring fortune, independence, and ease, and all
my hopes that the time had now come in the order of Providence, when
that uncultivated tract, denominated the _Oregon Territory_, was
to be changed into a fruitful field, and the haunt of savages and
wild beasts made the happy abode of refined and dignified man.--Mr.
Hall J. Kelly published about two {58} years since a most inflated
and extravagant account of that western tract which extends from
the Rocky Mountains to the shore of the Pacific Ocean.[57] He
says of it that no portion of the globe presents a more fruitful
soil, or a milder climate, or equal facilities for carrying into
effect the great purposes of a free and enlightened nation;--that
a country so full of those natural means which best contribute to
the comforts and conveniences of life, is worthy the occupancy of
a people disposed to support a free representative government, and
to establish civil, scientific, and religious institutions,--and
all this and much more to the same effect after Lewis and Clarke's
history of their expedition had been published, and very generally
read;[58] yet this extravagant and fallacious account of the Oregon
was read and believed by some people not destitute of a general
information of things, nor unused to reading; but there were circles
of people, chiefly among young farmers and journeymen mechanics, who
were so thoroughly imbued with these extravagant notions of making a
fortune by only going over land to the other side of the globe, to
the Pacific Ocean, that a person who expressed a doubt of it was
in danger of being either affronted, or, at least, accused of being
moved by envious feelings. After a score of people had been enlisted
in this Oregon expedition, they met together to feed and to magnify
each other's hopes and visionary notions, which were wrought up to
a high degree of extravagance, so that it was hardly safe to advise
or give an opinion adverse to the scheme. When young people are so
affected, it is in vain to reason with them; and when such sanguine
persons are determined to fight, or to marry, it is dangerous to
{59} attempt to part them; and when they have their own way and get
their belly full of fight, and of matrimony, there comes a time of
cool reflection. The first stage of our reflection began at St.
Louis, when we parted with our amphibious wagons, in which we all
more or less took a pride. Every one there praised the ingenuity
of the contrivance and construction of them for roads and rivers
such as at Cambridge, and other places near to Boston; but we were
assured at St. Louis, that they were by no means calculated for our
far distant journey. We were reminded that Lewis and Clarke carried
canoes almost to the foot of the Rocky Mountains, by the route of
Missouri river, but were obliged to leave them there, and ascend
mountains so very steep, that sometimes their loaded horses slipped
and rolled over and over, down into lower ground sixty or seventy
feet. This may serve to show, among other things, how ill-informed
Captain Wyeth and his company were of the true condition of the
country through which they had to pass. We expected to support
ourselves with game by our firearms, and therefore powder and shot
were the articles we took the most care to be provided with. Nor
were we followers undeceived before we were informed at St. Louis,
that it would be necessary to take oxen and sheep to be slaughtered
on the route for our support. We also found it advisable to sell at
that place the large number of axes, great and small, with which we
had encumbered our wagons. All these occurrences, following close
after one another, operated to damp our ardor; and it was this
probably that operated so powerfully on W. Bell, Livermore, and
Griswold, that they _cut_ {60} and ran away before we entered upon
the difficulties and hardships of our expedition.

  [57] Referring to Kelley's _Geographical Sketch of that part of
  North America called Oregon_ (Boston, 1830). Subsequent information
  has justified most of Kelley's statements, here derided by
  Wyeth.--ED.

  [58] What is known as the Biddle version of the Lewis and Clark
  journals was issued at Philadelphia in 1814. For the history of this
  version consult Thwaites, _Original Journals of the Lewis and Clark
  Expedition_ (New York, 1904-05), i, introduction.--ED.

Nothing of importance occurred for the first ten days after we
left Pierre's Valley. Our huntsmen were abroad in pursuit of
buffaloes, when they were alarmed at the sight of a large body of
the Black-foot tribe who had been watching our movements. Captain
Sublet was not a little alarmed, for he had with him his whole stock
of furs, very large in quantity and valuable in quality, which we
were told would be worth eighty thousand dollars in St. Louis. But
all the world exaggerates; nor even were we of the Oregon expedition
entirely free from it, although not to be compared with Hall Jackson
Kelly, who never stops short of superlatives, if we may judge by his
publications. But he says, by way of apology, that it is needful
that the friends of the contemplated Oregon colony should possess a
little of the active and vital principle of enthusiasm, that shields
against disappointments, and against the presumptious opinions and
insults of others. Now the fact is, the sanguine and enthusiastic
Mr. Kelly was never in that country, nor nearer to it than Boston;
and his zeal in the colonization of that dreary territory led him to
believe what he wished, and to disbelieve every thing adverse to his
favorite enterprise. He had a right to enjoy his opinion; but when
he took unweary pains to make ignorant people believe as he did, he
was the remote cause of much misery and lasting regret in more than
half the adventurers from Cambridge. If the blind lead the blind,
we know what will be the consequence. But our business is not to
censure from a disposition to find fault, {61} but to warn others
from falling into the errors and difficulties which attended me and
my companions, and chiefly through the misinformation of persons who
never saw the country.

Each man, when he left St. Louis, was allowed to carry but ten
pounds' weight of his own private baggage, and not every one to
encumber his march with whatever he chose; and we adhered to that
order on our return. We were ten days in passing over the Rocky
Mountains in going, and nine in returning; and I repeat it as my
fixed opinion, that we never should have reached the western foot
of the mountains had we not been under the guard and guidance of
Captain Sublet, and his experienced company. He was acquainted
with the best way, and the best mode of travelling. He knew the
Indian chiefs and they knew him, and each confided in the other.
An anecdote will illustrate this. There was a hunters' fort
or temporary place of defence occupied by about a dozen white
beaver-trappers from St. Louis, where were deposited furs, and goods
belonging to the troop of trappers, and that to a considerable
amount. One day this small garrison was alarmed at the sight of
about six hundred warriors approaching on horseback. Upon this they
barred their gate, and closed every door and window against the
Indians, but with faint hopes of repelling such a powerful host of
well-armed savages; for they had no other idea but that they had
come for their destruction. But when the Indians saw them shutting
themselves up, they displayed the white flag, and made signs to
the white men to open their fort, for they came to trade and not
to fight. And the little garrison thought it better to trust to
Indian honor {62} than risk savage slaughter or captivity; and
accordingly they unbarred their doors and let the chiefs in with
every expression of cordiality and confidence. After remaining
nine days, they departed in peace. And what ought to be recorded
to their honor, the white people did not miss a single article,
although axes, and utensils, and many other things were lying about,
desirable to Indians. The savages did not consider, as white men too
often do,--that "_might is right_." When I expressed my surprise
at it, one of the white trappers replied, "Why, the word of these
trading Indians is _as good as the Bible_."

We were surprised to find the Indians in the vicinity of the
mountains, and all round Pierre's Valley, and the Black-foot tribe,
and the Shoshonees, or Snake-tribe, so well provided with muskets,
powder and ball, woollen cloth, and many other articles, until we
were informed that Mr. Mackenzie, an established and wealthy Indian
trader, had long supplied them with every article they desired. Had
the Captain of our band been acquainted with this fact, and also
been informed of the trading connexion between the Indians and the
two brothers, William and Milton Sublet, before he started from
home, we should have avoided a great deal of trouble, and he escaped
a great deal of expense, and for aught I know, suffering; for the
last we heard of him, he was to pass the winter at the Salmon river.

From all I could learn, St. Louis was the depot, or headquarters
of the commerce with the Indians. Mackenzie, I was informed has a
steam-boat called the Yellow-stone, by which he keeps up a trade
with the natives inhabiting the region watered by {63} the river of
that name. The _Yellow-stone_ is a noble river, being eight hundred
and thirty-seven miles from the point where Captain Clarke reached
it to the Missouri, and is so far navigable for batteaux; and eight
hundred and fifty feet wide at its confluence with the river just
named. By all accounts, the superiority of the Yellow-stone river
over the Columbia, or Oregon, for a settlement of New-England
adventurers, in point of fertility, climate, and pleasantness,
is such as to impress one with regret that ever we extended our
views beyond it; for the lamentable fact is, that the trade with
the Indians all round the Rocky Mountains, and beyond it to the
Oregon territory and Columbia river, is actually forestalled, or
pre-occupied by wealthy, established, and experienced traders
residing at, or near St. Louis, while we are more than twelve
hundred miles in their rear, and very far behind them in time.
Besides all these considerations, we may add another of great
importance; I mean the fact, that Mackenzie's and Sublet's white
trappers, or hunters, are a sort of half Indians in their manners
and habits, and could assimilate with them, while we are strangers
to the savages, and they to us, with all the dislikes natural to
both sides. Captain Sublet, who appears to be a worthy character,
and of sound judgment, perceived this, and must have seen, at
once, that he had nothing to fear from us, and therefore he paid
us great attention, conciliated and made use of us, and while he
aided us, he benefited his own concern, and all without the least
spice of jealousy, well knowing the impossibility, under existing
circumstances, that we could supplant him in the affection of the
red men of Missouri and Oregon.

{64} The white traders, and the Indians have, if we may so term it,
an annual _Fair_, that has been found by experience profitable to
both sides.[59] It is true the white trader barters a tawdry bauble
of a few cents' value, for a skin worth fifty of it. And so have
we in our India shawls, and, a few years since, in Leghorn hats,
in which we were taxed as high as the white merchant taxes the
equally silly Indian. Coffee was sold at two dollars a pound, and so
was tobacco. Indeed some of us gave that price to Mr. Nathaniel J.
Wyeth for the latter article, a luxury more coveted by men in our
situation, anxious and fatigued as we were, than whisky or brandy.
This was the case under Lewis and Clarke. When deprived of tobacco,
they cut up the old handles of tomahawks, which had been used as
pipes, and chewed the wood for the sake of its smell and smack. It
is not a singular case. It has been experienced among sailors at
sea. They have pined more for the lulling effects of that nauseous
weed than for ardent spirits; and it has been known that men will
mutiny sooner when deprived of their tobacco, than when deprived
of their usual food and rum. There was no small grumbling on being
obliged to buy tobacco out of what we thought common stock, at
the rate above mentioned, being, as we thought, all members of a
commonwealth.

  [59] This was the well-known mountain rendezvous instituted to take
  the place of established forts, by General Ashley of the Rocky
  Mountain Fur Company. Each year a caravan went up from St. Louis,
  carrying articles for trade, while parties of trappers and their
  Indian allies gathered at the appointed place. The first of these
  gatherings was in 1824; the institution flourished only for about a
  decade.--ED.

The following may serve to show the knowledge or instinct of horses.

When marching on our return home in the troop of Captain Sublet,
not far from the eastern declivity of the Rocky Mountains, we were
met by a large body of Indians on horseback. Sublet generally kept
seven videts about two miles ahead {65} of his main body. The
horses of this advance guard suddenly refused to go on, and turned
round, and appeared alarmed, but the riders knew not the cause of
it. Captain Sublet rode up, and said, that he knew by the behaviour
of the horses that there was an enemy ahead. He said there was a
valley several miles off where he apprehended we might be attacked.
He therefore ordered every man to examine his arms, and be ready
for action. After riding a few miles we discovered a large moving
body of a living something. Some of us thought it was a drove of
buffaloes; but the Captain said no, because they were of different
colors, whereas bisons, or buffaloes appear all of one color. After
viewing them through his glass, he said they were a body of the
Black-foot tribe, who had on their war dresses, with their faces
painted, bare heads, and other signs of hostility.

Their appearance was very singular, and, to some of us, terrible.
There was a pretty fresh breeze of wind, so as to blow the long
manes and tails of their horses out straight. Nor was this all: the
wind had the same effect on the long black hair of the warriors,
which gave them not only a grotesque but a terrific appearance.
Added to all this, they kept up a most horrid yell or war-hoop.
They rode up and completely surrounded us; and then all was silent.
Captain Sublet rode up to the chief, and expressed his hope that
all was peace. The savage replied that there should be peace on
their part, on condition that Sublet should give them _twenty-five
pounds of tobacco_, which was soon complied with, when the Indian
army remounted their horses, and rode off at full speed as they came
on: and we {66} pushed off with like speed, lest they should repent
their bargain and return upon us to mend it.

Who will say that this gallant body of cavalry were not wiser than
the common run of white soldiers, to make peace for a _quid_? and
thereby save their horses and their own skins? Out of what book did
this corps of savage dragoons learn that discretion was the better
part of valor?--We answer, From out of that book of Nature which
taught the videts' horses that an enemy was in the wind. The horse
is the dumbest of all beasts. He is silent under torture. He never
groans but once, and that is his _last_. Did they roar like bulls,
or squeal like hogs, they would be useless in an army. That noble
animal suffers from man a shameful weight of cruel usage in town and
country.

The wild horses are a great curiosity. They traverse the country,
and stroll about in droves from a dozen to twenty or thirty; and
always appear to have a leader, like a gander to a flock of geese.
When our own horses were feeding fettered around our encampments,
the wild horses would come down to them, and seem to examine them,
as if counting them; and would sometimes come quite up to them if we
kept out of sight; but when they discovered us, they would one and
all give a jump off and fly like the wind.

There is a method of catching a wild horse, that may appear to many
"a traveller's story." It is called _creasing_ a horse. The meaning
of the term is unknown to me.[60] It consists in shooting a {67}
horse in the neck with a single ball so as to graze his neck bone,
and not to cut the pith of it. This stuns the horse and he falls
to the ground, but he recovers again, and is as well as ever, all
but a little soreness in the neck, which soon gets well. But in his
short state of stupefaction, the hunter runs up, and twists a noose
around the skin of his nose, and then secures him with a thong of
buffalo-hide. I do not give it merely as a story related; but I
believe it, however improbable it may appear, because I saw it done.
I saw an admirable marksman, young Andrew Sublet,[61] fire at a fine
horse, and after he fell, treat him in the way I have mentioned; and
he brought the horse into camp, and it turned out to be a very fine
one. The marvel of the story is, that the dextrous marksman shall
shoot so precisely as only to graze the vital part; and yet those
who know these matters better than I do, say, that they conceive it
possible.

  [60] _Creasing_ may be derived from _craze_, or the French
  _ecraser_, or the Teutonic _krossa_, or the English _crush_, to
  bruise, overwhelm, or subdue without killing. It may be Spanish; for
  it is said that the modern South Americans practice the same device.
  It would seem as if it jarred the vertebræ, or bony channel of the
  neck, without cutting any important vessel or nerve. But let the
  fact be established before we reason upon it.--WYETH.

  [61] Andrew Sublette, younger brother of William and Milton, was
  born in Kentucky, but early removed to the frontier. After the
  discovery of gold he emigrated to California, settling finally near
  Los Angeles, where he died from wounds received in an encounter with
  grizzly bears.--ED.

After we had made peace with the large body of the Black-foot
Indians, for, as we may say, a _quid_ of tobacco, nothing occurred
worth relating until we arrived at the town of Independence, being
the first white settlement in our way homewards. I would, however,
here remark, that the warlike body just mentioned, though of the
fierce Black-foot tribe, hunted and fought independently of that
troop with which we had a battle in the Rocky Mountains; and
were most probably ignorant of that affair, in which a chief was
treacherously shot by one Antoine, who was half Indian and half
French, when bearing a white flag, and with which {68} nefarious
deed I believe Captain Sublet had no concern. But of all this I
cannot speak with certainty, as I myself was half a mile distant,
when the Black-foot chief was shot, and his scarlet robe torn off of
him by the mongrel Indian, as a trophy instead of his scalp; for the
Indians returned their fire so promptly, and continued fighting so
long, even after dark, that there was no time nor opportunity of his
securing that evidence of his savage blood and mode of warfare.

When we arrived at the town of Independence, Dr. Jacob Wyeth,
Palmer, Styles, and myself bought a canoe, being tired of travelling
by land, and impatient to get on, and this was the last of my money
except a single six-cent piece. A thick fog prevented our early
departure, as it would be dangerous to proceed on account of the
snags and sawyers in the river. To pass away the tedious time, I
strolled out around the town, and lost my direct way back. At length
the fog cleared off, and after my companions had waited for me an
hour, they pushed off and left me behind! They, be sure, left word
that they would wait for me at the next town, Boonsville,[62]
twenty miles' distance. I hurried, however, as fast I could five
miles down the banks of the river; when, finding that I could not
overtake them, and being fatigued by running, I gave over the chase
in despair. I was sadly perplexed, and vexed, at what I conceived
worse than savage usage. In this state of mind, I saw a small skiff,
with a pair of oars, when an heroic idea came into my half-crazed
brain, and feeling my absolute necessities, I acted like certain
ancient and some modern heroes, and jumped into the boat, cast off
her painter, and pulled away for dear life down the stream. {69} The
owner of the boat discovered me when not much more than a quarter
of a mile on my way. He and another man got into a canoe and rowed
after me, and gained upon me; on perceiving which, I laid out all
my strength, and although two to one, I distanced them, and they
soon saw they could not overtake me. When I started it was twelve
o'clock, and I got to the next town, Boonsville, the sun half an
hour high,--the distance about twenty miles. When my skiff struck
the shore my pursuers were about twenty rods behind me. I ran into
the first barn of a tavern I could reach. They soon raised the
neighbors, and placed a watch around the barn, one side of which
opened into a cornfield. In searching for me they more than once
trod over me, but the thickness of the hay prevented them from
feeling me. I knew the severe effects of their laws, by which those
who were too poor to pay the fine were to atone for their poverty by
stripes, which were reckoned to be worth a dollar a stripe in that
cheap country; and hence I lay snug in the hay two nights and one
day without any thing to eat. Hunger at length forced me from my
hiding-place, when I went into the tavern, where I found Dr. Jacob
Wyeth, Walter Palmer, and Styles. I told the landlord I was starving
for want of food, and he gave me supper; and then I went back into
the barn again, where I slept that night.

  [62] Boonville was the successor of Franklin as the metropolis of
  central Missouri. The site was first settled by the Cole family
  in 1810, laid out as a town in 1817, and made the seat of Cooper
  County upon the latter's erection in 1818. Its period of greatest
  prosperity was before the building of the railroad (1830-40), when
  it was the shipping point for northern Arkansas and southwest
  Missouri. It had a population in 1900 of 4,377.--ED.

The next morning I went into the tavern again, and there I found my
pursuers, and they found their prisoner, whom they soon put under
the custody of two constables, who ordered me breakfast, which
having eaten with a good relish, I watched my opportunity, while
they were standing thick {70} around the bar, and crept unobserved
out of the back-door into the extensive cornfield, and thence into
the barn window out of which they threw manure, and regained my
snug hiding-hole, where I remained one day and one night more. I
now and then could see the constables and their _posse_ prowling
about the barn, through a crevice in the boards. In the midst of my
fears, I was amused with the solemn, and concernful phizes of the
two constables, and one or two others. In the morning very early, I
ventured out again, and ran down to the river; and there spying a
boat, and feeling heroic, I jumped into her and pushed across the
river, and landed on the opposite bank, so as to elude the pursuit
of the authorities, who I knew would be after me on the right bank
of the river, while I marched on the left. When I came to the ferry
near St. Louis, I had only a six-cent piece, which the ferryman took
for his full fare which was twelve cents, and so I got safe to St.
Louis, but with scarcely clothing enough for decency, not to mention
comfort: and yet I kept up a good heart, and never once despaired.
My companions arrived a day before me; they on Thursday, I on
Friday, at four o'clock in the afternoon; they in the steam-boat,
like gentlemen, while I, the youngest in the whole Oregon company,
like a runaway. But I do not regret the difference, seeing I have a
story worth telling, and worth hearing.

Where to get a lodging that night I did not know, nor where to
obtain a morsel of bread. I went up to a large tavern, and asked
permission of the keeper to lodge in his barn that night, but he
sternly refused. I then went to the other tavern, and made the like
request, when the landlord {71} granted it, saying that he never
refused a man sleeping in his barn who was too poor to pay for a
lodging in his house. I wish I knew his name. I turned in and had a
very good night's rest. Should any one enquire how I came to leave
my old companions, and they me, I need only say that I had a very
serious quarrel with one of them, even to blows; and with that one
too who ought to have been the last to treat me with neglect; "and
further the deponent saith not."

The next morning I went round in search of work, but no one seemed
disposed to hire me; nor do I much wonder at it; for in truth I
was so ragged and dirty, that I had nothing to recommend me; and
I suffered more depression of spirits during the following six
days of my sojourn at St. Louis, than in any part of my route. The
steam-boats refused me and Dr. Wyeth started off for New Orleans
before I could see him. Palmer let himself by the month on board a
steam-boat running between St. Louis and Independence, while I was
left alone at the former place six days without employ, victuals,
or decent clothing. I could not bear to go to people's doors to
beg; but I went on board steam-boats and begged for food. I was
such a picture of wretchedness that I did not wonder they refused
to hire me. My dress was buck-skin moccasins, and pantaloons; the
remains of a shirt I put on in the Rocky Mountains, the remnants of
a kersey waistcoat which I had worn ever since I left Cambridge, and
a hat I had worn all the time from Boston, but without any coat
whatever, or socks, or stockings; and to add to the wretchedness of
my appearance, I was very dirty, and I could not help it. My looks
drew the attention of a great many spectators. I thought {72} very
hard of it then, but I have since reflected, and must say that when
people saw a strong young man of eighteen in high health, and yet
so miserable in appearance, it was natural in them to conclude that
he must be some criminal escaped from justice, or some vagabond
suffering under the just effects of his own crimes.

At length, wearied out by my ill fortune, I plucked up courage, and
went to the Constitution steam-boat, Captain Tufts, of Charlestown,
near Boston, and told him my name and family; and detailed to him my
sufferings, and said that he _must_ give me a passage, and I would
work for it. To my great joy he consented, and he gave me shirt,
pantaloons, &c.; and I acted at a _fireman_, or one who feeds the
fire with pine wood under the steam-boilers. I forbear narrating the
particulars of my sufferings for want of food during the six days I
tarried at St. Louis. Suffice it to say, that I was in a condition
of starvation, and all owing to my wretched appearance. When I at
times went on board the steam-boats, I was glad to scrape up any
thing after the sailors and firemen had done eating. At length I
obtained employ in the steam-boat Constitution, and a passage to
New-Orleans, on the condition of acting as one of the firemen, there
being twelve in all, with five men as sailors, and two hundred and
forty passengers, party emigrants, but chiefly men belonging to
the settlements on the Mississippi, going down to Natchez, and to
New-Orleans to work. We tarried one night at the Natchez; but soon
after we left it the _cholera_ broke out among the passengers,
eighty of whom died before we reached New-Orleans, and two of our
own firemen. A most shocking scene followed.

{73} I felt discouraged. My miseries seemed endless. After trying
day after day in vain to get a passage in a steam-boat, I was
made happy in procuring one, though I paid for it, by working as
a fireman, the hardest and most disagreeable occupation on board;
still I was contented, as I had victuals enough to eat; and yet,
after all, I saw men perishing every minute about me, and thrown
into the river like so many dead hogs. It is an unexaggerated fact
that I witnessed more misery in the space of eight months than most
old men experience in a long life.

On arriving at New-Orleans, Captain Tufts sent off every man of the
passengers, leaving those only who belonged to the boat. He gave me
shirts and other clothing, and offered me twenty dollars a month,
if I would go back to St. Louis with him. I remained on board about
a week; and so desirous was I to get home, that I preferred going
ashore, although I knew that the yellow fever and black vomit, as
well as cholera were committing great havoc in the city. The shops,
stores, taverns, and even the _gambling-houses_, were shut up, and
people were dying in-doors, and out of doors, much faster than they
could be buried. More white people were seized with it than black;
but when the latter were attacked, more died than the former. The
negroes sunk under the disorder at once. When a negro gets very
sick, he loses all his spirits, and refuses all remedies. He wishes
to die, and it is no wonder, if he believes that he shall go into a
pleasant country where there are no white men or women.

I soon got full employ as a grave-digger, at two dollars a day, and
could have got twice that sum had I been informed of the true state
of things. In {74} the first three days we dug a separate grave for
each person; but we soon found that we could not clear the hearses
and carts. I counted eighty-seven dead bodies uninterred on the
ground. Yet where I worked, was only one of the three grave-yards
belonging to the city, and the other two were larger. We therefore
began on a new plan. There were twenty-five of us grave-diggers.
We dug a trench fifty-seven feet long, eight feet wide, and four
feet deep, and laid them as compactly as we could, and filled up
the vacant spaces with children. It was an awful piece of business.
In this large trench we buried about, perhaps, three hundred; and
this business we carried on about a month. During this time, you
might traverse the streets of New-Orleans, without meeting a single
person, except those belonging to the hearses, and carts, loaded
with the dead. Men were picked up in the morning who died after dark
before they could reach their own houses. If you ask me if they died
with yellow fever, or cholera, I must answer that I cannot tell.
Some said the one, and some the other. Every thing was confusion. If
a negro was sent by his master to a carpenter, for what they called
a coffin, which was only a rough board box, he was commonly robbed
of it before he got home. I myself saw an assault of this kind, when
the poor black slave was knocked down and the rude coffin taken from
him. New-Orleans is a dreadful place in the eyes of a New-England
man. They keep Sunday as we in Boston keep the 4th of July, or any
other day of merriment and frolic. It is also a training day every
other Sunday for their military companies.

I was in part witness to a shocking sight at the marine hospital,
where had been many patients {75} with the yellow fever. When the
doctors, and those who had the care of that establishment had
deserted the house, between twenty-five and thirty dead bodies were
left in it; and these were so offensive from putrefaction, that when
the city corporation heard of it, they ordered the house, together
with the bodies to be burnt up; but this was not strictly complied
with. A number of negro slaves were employed to remove the bodies,
which being covered with wood and other combustibles, were all
consumed together.

At length I was attacked myself with symptoms of the yellow
fever,--violent pain in my head, back, and stomach. I lived at
that time in the family of a Frenchman, who, among his various
occupations, pretended to skill in physic. He fed me on castor oil.
I took in one day four wineglasses of it, which required as much
resolution as I was master of: but my doctor assured me that he had
repeatedly scared away the yellow fever at the beginning of it, by
large and often repeated doses of that medicine. Its operation was
not one way, but every way. I thought I should have no insides left
to go home with. Yet it is a fact, and I record it with pleasure,
that it carried off all my dreadful symptoms, and in a very few
days, I had nothing to complain of but weakness, which a good
appetite soon cured. I therefore recommend a man in the first stage
of yellow fever to take down a gill of castor oil, made as hot as he
can swallow it; and repeat the dose in eight hours.

I remained nine weeks in New-Orleans, a city so unlike Boston, in
point of neatness, order, and good government, that I do not wonder
at its character for unhealthiness. Stagnant water remains in the
streets as {76} green as grass, with a steam rising out of it that
may be smelt at the distance of half a mile. Besides this, their
population is so mixed, that they appear running against each other
in the streets, every one having a different object and a different
complexion. In one thing they seem to be agreed, and to concur in
the same object, namely, _gaming_. In that delirous pursuit, they
all speak the same language, and appear to run down the same road to
ruin.

I am glad that it is in my power to support what I have said
respecting the Marine Hospital, by the following public testimony,
published by authority, taken from one of their newspapers.

"NEW-ORLEANS.--The following report from a committee appointed to
examine one of the hospitals, will account, in some degree, for the
unprecedented mortality which has afflicted New-Orleans. The report
is addressed to the mayor.

"The undersigned, standing committee named by the city council
during the prevalence of the epidemic now desolating the city, have
the honor to report, that, in consequence of information given
by sundry respectable persons, relative to the condition of the
hospital kept by Dr. M'Farlane, they repaired to-day, at half-past
one o'clock, to said hospital; that in all the apartments they found
the most disgusting filth; that all the night _vessels_ were full,
and that the patients have all declared that for a long time they
had received no kind of succour; that in many of the apartments of
the building they found corpses, several of which had been a number
of days in putrefaction; that thence they repaired to a chamber
adjoining the kitchen, where they found the body of a negro, which
had been a long time dead, in a most offensive state. They finally
went to another apartment opposite the kitchen, {77} which was
equally filthy with the other rooms, and that they there found many
corpses of persons a long time dead; that in a bed, between others,
they found a man dying, stretched upon the body of a man many days
dead.

"Finally, they declare that it is impossible for one to form an idea
of what they have witnessed, without he had himself seen it; that
it is indispensably necessary for the patients to evacuate this
hospital, and above all, to watch lest the corpses in a state of
putrefaction occasion pestilence in that quarter, and perhaps in
the whole city.

"_November 7._ The standing committee has the honor to present the
following additional report.

"In one of the apartments where were many living and dead bodies,
they found under a bed a dead body partly eaten, whose belly and
entrails lay upon the floor. It exhaled a most pestiferous odor.
In a little closet upon the gallery there were two dead bodies,
one of which lay flat upon the floor, and the other had his feet
upon the floor and his back upon the bed forming a curve; the belly
prodigiously swelled and the thighs green. Under a shed in the yard
was the dead body of a negro, off which a fowl was picking worms.
The number of corpses amounted to twelve or fourteen.

  "Signed, E. A. CANNON, _Chairman_.

  FELIX LABATUT,
  _Alderman_, _Second Ward_.

  CHARLES LEE,
  _Alderman_, _First Ward_."

I took passage in the ship Henry Thomson, Captain Williams, and
arrived in Boston, January 2d, 1833, after an absence of ten months,
having experienced in that time a variety of hardships.


{78} CONCLUDING REFLECTIONS

The lesson to be collected from this short history is the great
danger in _making haste to be rich_, instead of relying upon patient
industry, which never fails to give a man his just deserts. Making
haste to become rich is the most fruitful source of the calamities
of life; for here cunning, contrivance, and circumvention, take the
place of diligence. After the schemer's plans have all failed,
there seems only one tempting means left to obtain riches in a
hurry, and that is by gaming, the most prosperous invention ever
devised by the arch enemy of mankind; and when that fails, the next
downward step to destruction, excepting drunkenness, is robbery,
many instances of which we find recorded in the annals of Newgate
and the records of the Old Bailey in London. Such atrocities have
never, or very rarely, occurred in our own country, and never will
so long as we are wisely contented with the fruits of patient
industry, and so long as we believe that the diligent hand maketh
rich. These reflections refer to extreme cases, and are not
applicable, or meant to be personally applicable, to the unfortunate
expedition in which we have been concerned. It is not meant to
reprehend those enormous vices and crimes which are known in the old
countries, but only to correct a spirit of discontent in men well
situated and circumstanced. "_If you stand well, stand still_," says
the Italian proverb.

Some may say this doctrine, if put in practice, would check all
enterprise. Not entirely so, provided the means and the end were
cautiously adjusted. Christopher Columbus ran a great risk; {79}
yet he knew, from the reasonings of his capacious mind, that there
must be "another and a better world" than that he was born in;
and under that strong and irrestistible impression he tempted the
trackless ocean and found it. But what shall we say of our Oregon
adventurers, who set out to pass over the Rocky Mountains, and
thence down the Columbia river to the Pacific ocean, in boats upon
wheels? and that too with a heavy load of goods, and those chiefly
of iron. What renders the project more surprising is, that they
should take with them the most ponderous articles of a blacksmith's
shop,--anvils, and a large vice. It is more than probable that
the old and long established wholesale Indian traders at St. Louis
laughed in their sleeves, when they saw such a cargo fresh from the
city of "_notions_," paraded with all the characteristic confidence
of the unwavering Yankee spirit. After assuring them that their
ingenious and well-constructed amphibious vehicles would not answer
for travelling in such a rough country as they must go through, they
purchased all three of them, and advised our leader to buy sheep and
oxen to live on between the white settlements and the country of
the savages, and not to trust to their guns for food. This turned
out very wholesome advice, as they must have starved without that
provision.

The party under Captains Lewis and Clarke, sent out by the
government of the United States, consisted of nine young men
from Kentucky, fourteen soldiers of the United States army who
volunteered their services, two French watermen,--an interpreter
and hunter,--and a black servant belonging to Captain Clarke. All
these, except the last, were enlisted to serve as privates during
the expedition, {80} and three sergeants were appointed from amongst
them by the captains. In addition to these, were engaged a corporal
and six soldiers, and nine watermen, to accompany the expedition as
far as the Mandan nation, in order to assist in carrying the stores,
or repelling an attack, which was most to be apprehended between
Wood river and that tribe. This select party embarked on board three
boats. One was a keel-boat fifty-five feet long, drawing three feet
of water, with a large square sail, and twenty-two oars, with a
forecastle and cabin, while the middle was covered by lockers, which
might be raised so as to form a breast-work. There were beside two
_periogues_, or open boats of seven oars each. They had two horses,
for any purpose, which they led along the banks; and fourteen bales
of goods, with a variety of clothing, working utensils, locks,
flints, ammunition, and richly-laced coats, and other gay dresses,
and a variety of ornaments suited to the taste of the Indians,
together with knives, flags, tomahawks, and medals.[63] Yet all
these articles were exhausted, without any accident or particular
loss. The party was led by two experienced military officers, and
the men were under military regulations; which was not the case with
the Cambridge adventurers, who were upon shares, and all on a level.

  [63] These statements in regard to the Lewis and Clark expedition
  are taken verbatim from the published edition (Biddle's, 1814)
  of the journals. For recent light on the personnel of the party,
  consult O. D. Wheeler, _On the Trail of Lewis and Clark_ (New York,
  1904).--ED.

We are unwilling that our readers should rely entirely on our
opinion of the inadequacy of the outfits for such a formidable
undertaking as that of going from the Atlantic shore of New-England
to the shore of the Pacific by land. We shall therefore subjoin
the opinion of a sensible gentleman, who had spent some time in
the Missouri territory, and traversed its dreary prairies, where
no tree {81} appears, and where there is, during the greater part
of the year, no fuel for cooking, nor water fit to drink. He says:
"Do the Oregon emigrants seek a fine country on the Oregon river?
They will pass through lands [to get to it] of which they may buy
two hundred acres for less than the farther expenses of their
journey."[64] He tells us that a gentleman (Mr. Kelly) has been
employing his leisure in advising schemes to better the condition of
his fellow countrymen, and has issued advertisements, inviting the
good people of New-England to leave their homes, their connexions,
and the comforts of civilized society, and follow him across the
continent to the shores of the Pacific. He tells those who may reach
St. Louis, that they will find there many who have been to Oregon,
and found no temptation to remain there;--that they may possibly
charter a steamboat from St. Louis to the mouth of the river Platte,
but no farther, as that stream is not navigable for steamboats
unless during freshets. And after they reach the mouth of the
Platte, they will have a _thousand_ miles to go before they reach
the Rocky Mountains; and the country through which the adventurers
must pass is a level plain, where the eye seeks in vain for a
tree or a shrub,--that in some places they must travel days and
nights without finding wood or water, for that the streams only are
scantily fringed with wood. Our Cambridge emigrants actually found
this to be the case, as they had no other fuel for cooking their
live stock than buffalo-dung. The writer says, (and he had been
there), that the ground is covered with {82} herbage for a few weeks
in the year only, and that this is owing to the Indians burning
the Prairies regularly twice a year, which occasions them to be as
bare of vegetation as the deserts of Arabia. The same experienced
traveller assures them that they could not take provisions with
them sufficient for their wants, and that a dependence on their
guns for support was fallacious, and the same uncertainty as to
the buffaloes;--that sometimes those animals were plenty enough,
and sometimes more than enough, so as to be dangerous. When they
trot smartly off, ten thousand and more in a drove, they are as
irresistible as a mountain-torrent, and would tread into nothing
a larger body than the Cambridge fortune-hunters. Their flesh is
coarse beef, and the grisly bear's, coarse pork; but this kind of
bear, called the _horrible_ from his strength and ferocity, is a
most terrific beast, and more disposed and able to feed on the
hunter than the huntsman upon him. We can assure the emigrants,
says the writer already quoted, from our own experience, that not
one horse in five can perform a journey of a thousand miles, without
a constant supply of something better than prairie-grass.

  [64] See New-England Magazine for February and April, 1832, under
  the signature of W. J. S.--WYETH.

  _Comment by Ed._ The _New England Magazine_ was published monthly
  (1831-35) by J. T. and E. Buckingham, Boston.

The journal of Lewis and Clarke to the Pacific ocean, over the Rocky
Mountains, was a popular book in the hands of every body; and the
Expedition of Major Long and company was as much read; and both
of these works detail events and facts enough, one would suppose,
to deter men from such an arduous enterprise; not to mention the
hostile tribes of Indians through which they must pass. It seems
strange, but it is true, that a theoretical man need not despair
of making the multitude believe any thing but truth. They believed
the enthusiastic {83} Mr. Hall J. Kelley, who had never been in the
Oregon territory, or seen the Rocky Mountains, or a prairie-dog, or
a drove of buffaloes, and who in fact knew nothing of the country
beyond some guess-work maps; yet they would not read, consider, or
trust to the faithful records of those officers who had been sent by
the government to explore the country and make report of it.

There is a passage in the essay written by W. J. S. which we shall
insert here on his authority, as it cannot be supposed that we,
at this distance, should be so well acquainted with the affairs
in Missouri, as one who had resided on the spot. We assume not to
keep pace with the professed eulogist of Oregon, of its river,
and its territory, its mild climate, its exuberant soil, and its
boisterous Pacific, so inviting to the distressed poor in the
neighbourhood of Boston; who are exhorted by him to pluck up stakes
and courage, and march over the Rocky Mountains to wealth, ease,
and independence. The passage we allude to reads thus:--"About
twelve years since, it was discovered by a public-spirited citizen
of St. Louis, that the supply of furs was not equal to the demand.
To remedy this evil, he raised a corps of sharp-shooters, equipped
them with guns, ammunition, steel-traps, and horses, and sent them
into the wilderness to teach the Indians that their right was only
a right of occupancy. They did the savages irreparable injury.
They frightened the buffaloes from their usual haunts,--destroyed
the fur-clad animals, and did more mischief than we have room to
relate." He adds, sarcastically, that "the Indians were wont to hunt
in a slovenly manner, leaving a few animals yearly for breeding. But
that the white hunters were more thorough-spirited, {84} and made
root-and-branch work of it. When they settled on a district, they
destroyed the old and young alike; and when they left it, they left
no living thing behind them. The first party proving successful,
more were fitted out, and every successive year has seen several
armed and mounted bands of hunters, from twenty to a hundred men and
more in each, pouring into the Indian hunting grounds; and _all this
has been done in open and direct violation of a law of the United
States, which expressly forbids trapping and hunting on Indian
lands_. The consequence has been that there are now few fur-clad
animals this side the mountains."

Lewis and Clarke, and some other travellers, speak of friendly
Indians,--of their kindness and hospitality, and expatiate on their
amiable disposition, and relate instances of it. Yet after all,
this Indian friendship is very like the affection of the negroes in
the Southern States for their masters and mistresses, and for their
children,--the offspring merely of fear. There can be no friendship
where there is such a disparity of condition. As to their presents,
an Indian gift is proverbial. They never give without expecting
double in return.

What right have we to fit out armed expeditions, and enter the long
occupied country of the natives, to destroy their game, not for
subsistence, but for their skins? They are a contented people, and
do not want our aid to make them happier. We prate of civilizing and
Christianizing the savages. What have we done for their benefit?
We have carried among them _rum_, _powder_ and _ball_, small-pox,
starvation, and misery. What is the reason that Congress,--the great
council of the nation,--the collected wisdom of these United States,
has turned a deaf {85} ear to all applications for establishing a
colony on the Oregon river? Some of the members of that honorable
house of legislation know that the district in question is a
boisterous and inclement region, with less to eat, less to warm the
traveller, and to cook with, than at the mouth of any other known
river in the United States. We deem the mouth of the river St.
Lawrence as eligible a spot for a settlement of peltry merchants as
the mouth of the Columbia. When Lewis and Clarke were on that river,
they had not a single fair day in two months. They were drenched
with rain day and night; and what added to their comfortless
condition was the incessant high winds, which drove the waves
furiously into the Columbia river with the tide; and on its ebb,
raised such commotion, and such a chopping sea, that the travellers
dared not venture upon it in their boats; yet the Indians did, and
managed their canoes with a dexterity which the explorers greatly
admired, but could not imitate. The boisterous Pacific was among the
new discoveries of our American adventurers. Had their expedition
been to the warm climate of Africa, or to South America, they would
have been sure of plenty to eat; but in the western region, between
the Rocky Mountains and the great river of the West, the case is far
otherwise.

It is devoutly to be wished that truth may prevail respecting those
distant regions. Indeed the sacred cause of humanity calls loudly
on its votaries to disabuse the people dwelling on these Atlantic
shores respecting the Oregon paradise, lest our farmers' sons and
young mechanics should, in every sense of the phrase, stray from
home, and go they know not whither,--to seek they know not what.
{86} Or must Truth wait on the Rocky Mountains until some Indian
historian,--some future _Clavigero_[65] shall publish his annals,
and separate facts from fiction? We esteem the "_History of the
Expedition under the command of Captains Lewis and Clarke to the
Sources of the Missouri, thence across the Rocky Mountains, and down
to the Pacific Ocean_," substantially correct. Their conduct towards
the Indians was marked throughout with justice and humanity; and
the journal of that expedition will be a lasting monument of their
judicious perseverance, and of the wisdom of the government of the
United States.

  [65] The Abbé Clavigero, a native of Vera Cruz, who resided forty
  years in the Provinces of New Spain, spoke the language of the
  natives, and has written the History of Mexico.--WYETH.

Reader! The book you have in your hands is not written for your
amusement merely, or to fill up an idle hour, but for your
instruction,--particularly to warn young farmers and mechanics not
to leave a certainty for an uncertainty, and straggle away over a
sixth part of the globe in search of what they leave behind them
at home. It is hoped that it may correct that too common opinion
that the farther you go from home the surer you are of making your
fortune. Agriculture gives to the industrious farmer the riches
which he can call his own; while the indefatigable mechanic is sure
to acquire a sufficiency, provided he "build not his house too high."

Industry conducted by Prudence is a virtue of so diffusive a nature
that it mixes with all our concerns. No business can be managed and
accomplished without it. Whatever be a man's calling or way of life,
he must, to be happy, be actuated by {87} a spirit of industry, and
that will keep him from want, from dishonesty, and from the vice of
gambling and lottery-dealing, and its long train of miseries.

The first and most common deviation from sober industry is a desire
to roam abroad, or in one word, a feeling of _discontent_,--a
making haste to be rich, without the patient means of it. These are
reflections general and not particular, as it regards all such high
hopes and expectations, as lead to our Oregon expedition and to its
disappointments. The most that we shall say of it is,--that it was
an injudicious scheme arising from want of due information, and the
whole conducted by means inadequate to the end in view.

    Oh happy--if he knew his happy state,
    The man, who, free from turmoil and debate,
    Receives his wholesome food from Nature's hand,
    The just return of _cultivated_ land.


THE END



TOWNSEND'S NARRATIVE OF A JOURNEY ACROSS THE ROCKY MOUNTAINS, TO THE
COLUMBIA RIVER

Reprint of pp. 1-186, 217-264, of original edition: Philadelphia,
1839. "A Visit to the Sandwich Islands, Chili, &c., with a
Scientific Appendix," also contained in this edition, is here
omitted as irrelevant to the scope of the present series.



[Illustration: Hunting the Buffalo]



[Illustration: title page]



  NARRATIVE

  OF A

  JOURNEY ACROSS THE ROCKY MOUNTAINS,

  TO

  THE COLUMBIA RIVER,

  AND

  A VISIT TO THE SANDWICH ISLANDS, CHILI, &c.

  WITH

  A SCIENTIFIC APPENDIX.

  BY JOHN K. TOWNSEND,
  Member of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia.

  PHILADELPHIA:
  HENRY PERKINS, 134 CHESTNUT STREET.
  BOSTON: PERKINS & MARVIN.

  1839.



  ENTERED according to Act of Congress, in the year 1839, by
  JOHN K. TOWNSEND,
  in the Office of the Clerk of the District Court of the Eastern
  District of Pennsylvania.



ADVERTISEMENT


The Columbia River Fishing and Trading Company was formed in 1834,
by several individuals in New York and Boston. Capt. WYETH, having
an interest in the enterprise, collected a party of men to cross the
continent to the Pacific, with the purpose chiefly of establishing
trading posts beyond the Rocky Mountains and on the coast.

The idea of making one of Capt. Wyeth's party was suggested to
the author by the eminent botanist, Mr. NUTTALL, who had himself
determined to join the expedition across the North American
wilderness. Being fond of Natural History, particularly the
science of Ornithology, the temptation to visit a country hitherto
unexplored by naturalists was irresistible; and the following pages,
originally penned for the family-circle, and without the slightest
thought of publication, will furnish some account of his travels.



CONTENTS


  CHAPTER I

  Arrival at St. Louis--Preparations for the journey--Sâque
      Indians--Their appearance, dress, and manners--Squaws--
      Commencement of a pedestrian tour--Sandhill cranes--
      Prairie settlers--Their hospitality--Wild pigeons,
      golden plovers and prairie hens--Mr. P. and his
      daughters--An abundant repast--Simplicity of the prairie
      maidens--A deer and turkey hunt--Loutre Lick hotel--A
      colored charon--Comfortable quarters--Young men of the
      west--Reflections on leaving home--Loquacity of the
      inhabitants--Gray squirrels--Boonville--Parroquets--
      Embarkation in a steamboat--Large catfish--Accident on
      board the boat--Arrival at Independence--Description of
      the town--Encampment of the Rocky Mountain company--
      Character of the men--Preparation for departure--Requisites
      of a leader--Backwoods familiarity--Milton Sublette and his
      band--Rev. Jason Lee, the missionary--A letter from home--
      Mormonites--Military discipline and its consequences,        121


  CHAPTER II

  Departure of the caravan--A storm on the prairie--Arrangement
      of the camp--Kanzas Indians--Kanzas river--Indian lodges--
      Passage of the river--Buffalo canoes--Kanzas chief--Upper
      Kaw village--their wigwams--Catfish and ravens--Return of
      Mr. Sublette--Pawnee trace--Desertion of three men--
      Difficulties occasioned by losing the trail--Intelligence
      of Mr. Sublette's party--Escape of the band of horses--Visit
      of three Otto Indians--Anecdote of Richardson, the chief
      hunter--his appearance and character--White wolves and
      antelopes--Buffalo bones--Sublette's deserted camps--Lurking
      wolves,                                                      141


  CHAPTER III

  Arrival at the Platte river--Wolves and antelopes--Anxiety of
      the men to see buffalo--Visit of two spies from the Grand
      Pawnees--Forced march--A herd of buffalo--Elk--Singular
      conduct of the horses--Killing a buffalo--Indian mode of
      procuring buffalo--Great herd--Adventure with an Indian in
      the tent--Indian feat with bow and arrow--Notice of the
      Pawnee tribes--Disappearance of the buffalo from the plains
      of the Platte--A hunting adventure--Killing a buffalo--
      Butchering of a bull--Shameful destruction of the game--
      Hunters' mode of quenching thirst,                           157


  CHAPTER IV

  Change in the face of the country--Unpleasant visitation--N.
      fork of the Platte--A day's journey over the hills--Poor
      pasture--Marmots--Rattlesnake and gopher--Naturalist's
      success and sacrifices--A sand storm--Wild horses--Killing
      of a doe antelope--Bluffs--The Chimney--"Zip Koon," the
      young antelope--Birds--Feelings and cogitations of a
      naturalist--Laramie's fork--Departure of two "free trappers"
      on a summer "hunt"--Black hills--Red butes--Sweet-water
      river, and Rock Independence--Avocets--Wind river mountains--
      Rocky Mountain sheep--Adventure with a grizzly bear--
      Rattlesnakes--Toilsome march, and arrival at Sandy river--
      Suffering of the horses--Anticipated delights of the
      rendezvous,                                                  173


  CHAPTER V

  Arrival at the Colorado--The author in difficulty--Loss of a
      journal, and advice to travelling tyros--The rendezvous--
      Motley groups infesting it--Rum drinking, swearing, and
      other accomplishments in vogue--Description of the camp--
      Trout--Abundance of game--Cock of the plains--{vi}
      Leave the rendezvous--An accession to the band--A renegado
      Blackfoot chief--Captain Stewart and Mr. Ashworth--Muddy
      creek--More carousing--Abundance of trout--Bear river--A
      hard day's march--Volcanic country--White-clay pits and
      "Beer spring"--Rare birds and common birds--Mr. Thomas
      McKay--Captain Bonneville's party--Captains Stewart and
      Wyeth's visit to the lodge of the "bald chief"--Blackfoot
      river--Adventure with a grizzly bear--Death of "Zip Koon"--
      Young grizzly bears and buffalo calves--A Blackfoot Indian--
      Dangerous experiment of McKay--the three "Tetons"--Large
      trout--Shoshoné river--Site of "Fort Hall"--Preparations
      for a buffalo hunt,                                          189


  CHAPTER VI

  Departure of the hunting camp--A false alarm--Blackfeet
      Indians--Requisites of a mountain-man--Good fare, and
      good appetites--An experiment--Grizzly bears--Nez
      Percé Indian--Adventure with a grizzly bear--Hunters'
      anecdotes--Homeward bound--Arrival at "Fort Hall"--A
      salute--Emaciation from low diet--Mr. McKay's company--
      Buffalo lodges--Effects of judicious training--Indian
      worship--A "Camp Meeting"--Mr. Jason Lee, a favorite--A
      fatal accident and a burial,                                 212


  CHAPTER VII

  Departure of McKay's party, Captain Stewart, and the
      missionaries--Debauch at the fort--Departure of the
      company--Poor provision--Blackfeet hunting ground--
      Sufferings from thirst--Goddin's creek--Antoine Goddin,
      the trapper--Scarcity of game--A buffalo--Rugged
      mountains--More game--Unusual economy--Habits of the
      white wolf--"Thornburg's pass"--Difficult travelling--
      The captain in jeopardy among the snow--A countermarch--
      Deserted Banneck camp--Toilsome and dangerous passage of
      the mountain--Mallade river--Beaver dams, and beaver--A
      party of Snake Indians--Another Banneck camp--"Kamas
      prairie"--Indian mode of preparing the kamas--Racine
      blanc, or biscuit root--Loss of horses by fatigue--Boisée
      or Big-wood river--Salmon--Choke-cherries, &c.               230


  CHAPTER VIII

  A substitute for game, and a luxurious breakfast--Expectations
      of a repast, and a disappointment--Visit of a Snake chief--
      his abhorrence of horse meat--A band of Snake Indians--Their
      chief--Trade with Indians for salmon--Mr. Ashworth's
      adventure--An Indian horse-thief--Visit to the Snake camp--
      A Banneck camp--Supercilious conduct of the Indians--Snake
      river--Equipment of a trapping party--Indian mode of catching
      salmon--Loss of a favorite horse--Powder river--Cut rocks--
      Grand Ronde--Captain Bonneville--Kayouse and Nez Percé
      Indians--An Indian beauty--Blue mountains--A feline visit,   250


  CHAPTER IX

  Passage of the Blue mountains--Sufferings from thirst--Utalla
      river--A transformation--A novel meal--Columbia river
      and Fort Walla-walla--A dinner with the missionaries--
      Anecdote of Mr. Lee--Brief notice of the Fort--Departure
      of the missionaries--Notice of the Walla-walla Indians--
      Departure for Fort Vancouver--Wild ducks--Indian
      graves--Visits from Indians--Ophthalmia, a prevalent
      disease--A company of Chinook Indians--The Dalles--The
      party joined by Captain Wyeth--Embarkation in canoes--A
      heavy gale--Dangerous navigation--Pusillanimous conduct
      of an Indian helmsman--A zealous botanist--Departure of
      Captain Wyeth with five men--Cascades--A portage--Meeting
      with the missionaries--Loss of a canoe--A toilsome duty--
      Arrival at Fort Vancouver--Dr. John McLoughlin, the chief
      factor--Domiciliation of the travellers at Fort Vancouver,   275


  CHAPTER X

  Fort Vancouver--Agricultural and other improvements--Vancouver
      "camp"--Expedition to the Wallammet--The falls--A village of
      {vii} Klikatat Indians--Manner of flattening the head--A
      Flathead infant--Brig "May Dacre"--Preparations for a
      settlement--Success of the naturalists--Chinook Indians--
      their appearance and costume--Ague and fever--Desertion of
      the Sandwich Islanders--Embarkation for a trip to the
      Islands--George, the Indian pilot--Mount Coffin--A visit to
      the tombs--Superstition--Visit to an Indian house--Fort
      George--Site of Astoria--A blind Indian boy--Cruel and
      unfeeling     conduct of the savages--Their moral
      character--Baker's Bay--Cape     Disappointment--Dangerous
      bar at the entrance of the river--The sea beach--Visit of
      Mr. Ogden--Passage across the bar,                           297


  CHAPTER XII

  ... Arrival at the Columbia,                                     317


  CHAPTER XIII

  Passage up the Columbia--Birds--A trip to the Wallammet--
      Methodist missionaries--their prospects--Fort William--
      Band-tail pigeons--Wretched condition of the Indians at
      the falls--A Kallapooyah village--Indian cemetery--
      Superstitions--Treatment of diseases--Method of
      steaming--"Making medicine"--Indian sorcerers--Death
      of Thornburg--An inquest--Verdict of the jury--Inordinate
      appetite for ardent spirits--Eight men drowned--Murder of
      two trappers by the Banneck Indians--Arrival of Captain
      Thing--His meeting and skirmish with the Blackfeet Indians--
      Massacre--A narrow escape,                                   318


  CHAPTER XIV

  Indians of the Columbia--Departure of Mr. Nuttall and Dr.
      Gairdner--Arrival of the Rev. Samuel Parker--his object--
      Departure of the American brig--Swans--Indian mode
      of taking them--A large wolf--A night adventure--A
      discovery, and restoration of stolen property--Fraternal
      tenderness of an Indian--Indian vengeance--Death of
      Waskéma, the Indian girl--"Busy-body," the little chief--A
      village of Kowalitsk Indians--Ceremony of "making
      medicine"--Exposure of an impostor--Success of legitimate
      medicines--Departure from Fort Vancouver for a visit to the
      interior--Arrival of a stranger--"Cape Horn"--Tilki, the
      Indian chief--Indian villages {viii}--Arrival at Fort
      Walla-walla--Sharp-tailed grouse--Commencement of a journey
      to the Blue mountains,                                       332


  CHAPTER XV

  A village of Kayouse Indians--Appearance and dresses of the
      women--family worship--Visit to the Blue mountains--Dusky
      grouse--Return to Walla-walla--Arrival of Mr. McLeod, and
      the missionaries--Letters from home--Death of Antoine
      Goddin--A renegado white man--Assault by the Walla-walla
      Indians--Passage down the Columbia--Rapids--A dog for
      supper--Prairies on fire--Fishing Indians--Their romantic
      appearance--Salmon huts--The shoots--Dangerous navigation--
      Death of Tilki--Seals--Indian stoicism and contempt of
      pain--Skookoom, the strong chief--his death--Maiming, an
      evidence of grief--Arrival at Fort Vancouver--A visit to
      Fort George--Indian cemeteries--Lewis and Clarke's house--A
      medal--Visit to Chinook--Hospitality of the Indians--
      Chinamus' home--The idol--Canine inmates,                    349


  CHAPTER XVI

  Northern excursion--Salmon--Indian mode of catching them--
      Flathead children--A storm on the bay--Pintail ducks--
      Simple mode of killing salmon--Return to Chinook--Indian
      garrulity--Return to Fort George--Preparations for a
      second trip to the Sandwich Islands--Detention within
      the cape,                                                    365



NARRATIVE OF A JOURNEY ACROSS THE ROCKY MOUNTAINS, &c.



CHAPTER I

     Arrival at St. Louis--Preparations for the
     journey--Sâque Indians--Their appearance, dress, and
     manners--Squaws--Commencement of a pedestrian tour--Sandhill
     cranes--Prairie settlers--Their hospitality--Wild pigeons,
     golden plovers and prairie hens--Mr. P. and his daughters--An
     abundant repast--Simplicity of the prairie maidens--A deer and
     turkey hunt--Loutre Lick hotel--Unwelcome bed-fellows--A colored
     Charon--Comfortable quarters--Young men of the west--Reflections
     on leaving home--Loquacity of the inhabitants--Gray
     squirrels--Boonville--Parroquets--Embarkation in a
     steamboat--Large catfish--Accident on board the boat--Arrival
     at Independence--Description of the town--Procure a supply of
     horses--Encampment of the Rocky Mountain company--Character
     of the men--Preparation for departure--Requisites of a
     leader--Backwoods familiarity--Milton Sublette and his
     band--Rev. Jason Lee, the missionary--A letter from
     home--Mormonites--Military discipline and its consequences.


On the evening of the 24th of March, 1834, Mr. NUTTALL[66] and
myself arrived at St. Louis, in the steamboat Boston, from Pittsburg.

  [66] For sketch of Thomas Nuttall, see preface to Nuttall's
  _Journal_, our volume xiii.--ED.

On landing, we had the satisfaction to learn that Captain WYETH was
already there, and on the afternoon of the next day we called upon
him, and consulted him in reference to the outfit which it would be
necessary to purchase for the journey. He accompanied us to a store
in the town, and selected a number of articles for us, among which
were several pairs of leathern {10} pantaloons, enormous overcoats,
made of green blankets, and white wool hats, with round crowns,
fitting tightly to the head, brims five inches wide, and almost hard
enough to resist a rifle ball.

The day following we saw about one hundred Indians of the Sâque
tribe, who had left their native forests for the purpose of treating
for the sale of some land at the Jefferson barracks.[67] They were
dressed and decorated in the true primitive style; their heads
shaved closely, and painted with alternate stripes of fiery red
and deep black, leaving only the long scalping tuft, in which was
interwoven a quantity of elk hair and eagle's feathers. Each man
was furnished with a good blanket, and some had an under dress of
calico, but the greater number were entirely naked to the waist.
The faces and bodies of the men were, almost without an exception,
fantastically painted, the predominant color being deep red, with
occasionally a few stripes of dull clay white around the eyes and
mouth. I observed one whose body was smeared with light colored
clay, interspersed with black streaks. They were unarmed, with the
exception of tomahawks and knives. The chief of the band, (who is
said to be Black Hawk's father-in-law,[68]) was a large dignified
looking man, of perhaps fifty-five years of age, distinguished
from the rest, by his richer habiliments, a more profuse display
of trinkets in his ears, (which were cut and gashed in a frightful
manner to receive them,) and above all, by a huge necklace made
of the claws of the grizzly bear. The squaws, of whom there were
about twenty, were dressed very much like the men, and at a little
distance could scarcely be distinguished from them. Among them was
an old, superannuated crone, who, soon after her arrival, had been
presented with a broken umbrella. The only use that she made of
it was to wrench the plated ends from the whalebones, string them
on a piece of wire, take her knife from her belt, with which she
deliberately cut a slit of an inch in length {11} along the upper
rim of her ear, and insert them in it. I saw her soon after this
operation had been performed; her cheeks were covered with blood,
and she was standing with a vast deal of assumed dignity among
her tawny sisters, who evidently envied her the possession of the
worthless baubles.

  [67] For the early history of the Sauk Indians, see J. Long's
  _Voyages_, in our volume ii, p. 185, note 85. By the treaty of 1804
  they ceded a large portion of their lands (in the present Wisconsin,
  Iowa, and Illinois) to the United States. Upon removing to the west
  of the Mississippi, as per agreement with the federal government,
  they broke into several well-defined and often quarrelsome bands.
  This division was intensified by the War of 1812-15, when part
  of the tribe aided the British against the American border. The
  so-called Missouri band, dwelling north of that river in the present
  state of the name, in 1815 made with the United States a treaty of
  friendship, which was kept with fidelity. In 1830 a second land
  cession was made by the Sauk, and after the Black Hawk War (1832),
  in which the Missouri band took no part, they were desirous of
  moving to some permanent home south of the Missouri River. It was
  in pursuit of this intention, doubtless, that the visit recorded by
  Townsend was made. The final treaty therefor was not drawn until
  1836.

  Jefferson Barracks, just south of St. Louis on the Mississippi
  River, were built for the federal government (1826) on a site
  secured from the village of Carondolet (1824). General Henry
  Atkinson was in charge of the erection of the fort to which the
  garrison was (August, 1826) transferred from Bellefontaine on the
  Missouri. The post has been in continuous occupation since its
  erection.--ED.

  [68] Black Hawk whose Indian name was Makataineshekiakiah (black
  sparrow-hawk) was born among the Sauk in 1767. A chief neither by
  heredity nor election, he became by superior ability leader of the
  so-called British band, with headquarters at Saukenak, near Rock
  Island, Illinois. He participated in Tecumseh's battle (1811), and
  those about Detroit in the War of 1812-15, and made many raids upon
  the American settlements, until 1816 when a treaty of amity was
  signed with the United States. The chief event of his career was the
  war of 1832, known by his name. Consult on this subject, Thwaites,
  "Black Hawk War," in _How George Rogers Clark won the Northwest_
  (Chicago, 1903). At its conclusion this picturesque savage leader
  was captured, sent a prisoner to Jefferson Barracks, and later
  confined at Fortress Monroe, Virginia. After an extended tour of the
  Eastern states, Black Hawk returned to Iowa, where he was placed
  under the guardianship of his rival Keokuk, and where in 1838 he
  died. His wife was Asshawequa (Singing Bird), who died in Kansas
  (1846).--ED.

_28th._--Mr. N. and myself propose starting to-morrow on foot
towards the upper settlements, a distance of about three hundred
miles. We intend to pursue our journey leisurely, as we have plenty
of time before us, and if we become tired, we can enter the stage
which will probably overtake us.

_29th._--This morning our Indians returned from the barracks, where
I understand they transacted their business satisfactorily. I went
on board the boat again to see them. I feel very much interested in
them, as they are the first Indians I have ever seen who appear to
be in a state of uncultivated nature, and who retain the savage garb
and manners of their people. They had engaged the entire covered
deck for their especial use, and were lolling about in groups,
wrapped in their blankets. Some were occupied in conversation,
others seemed more contemplative, and appeared to be thinking
deeply, probably of the business which brought them amongst us. Here
and there two might be seen playing a Spanish game with cards, and
some were busily employed in rendering themselves more hideous with
paint. To perform this operation, the dry paint is folded in a thin
muslin or gauze cloth, tied tightly and beaten against the face,
and a small looking-glass is held in the other hand to direct them
where to apply it. Two middle-aged squaws were frying beef, which
they distributed around to the company in wooden bowls, and several
half loaves of bread were circulating rapidly amongst them, by being
tossed from one to another, each taking a huge bite of it. There
were among the company, several younger females, but they were all
so _hard favored_ that I could not feel much sympathy with them,
and was therefore not anxious to cultivate {12} their acquaintance.
There was another circumstance, too, that was not a very attractive
one; I allude to the custom so universal amongst Indians, of seeking
for vermin in each other's heads, and then _eating_ them. The fair
damsels were engaged in this way during most of the time that I
remained on board, only suspending their delectable occupation to
take their bites of bread as it passed them in rotation. The effect
upon my person was what an Irishman would call the attraction of
repulsion, as I found myself almost unconsciously edging away until
I halted at a most respectable distance from the scene of slaughter.

At noon, Mr. N. and myself started on our pedestrian tour, Captain
Wyeth offering to accompany us a few miles on the way. I was glad
to get clear of St. Louis, as I felt uncomfortable in many respects
while there, and the bustle and restraint of a town was any thing
but agreeable to me. We proceeded over a road generally good, a
low dry prairie, mostly heavily timbered, the soil underlaid with
horizontal strata of limestone, abounding in organic remains,
shells, coralines, &c., and arrived in the evening at Florisant,
where we spent the night.[69] The next day Captain Wyeth left us
for St. Louis, and my companion and myself proceeded on our route.
We observed great numbers of the brown, or sandhill crane, (_Grus
canadensis_,) flying over us; some flocks were so high as to be
entirely beyond the reach of vision, while their harsh, grating
voices were very distinctly heard. We saw several flocks of the same
cranes while ascending the Mississippi, several days since. At about
noon, we crossed the river on a boat worked by horses, and stopped
at a little town called St. Charles.[70]

  [69] Florissant is an old Spanish town not far from St. Louis,
  founded soon after the latter. At first it was a trading post and
  Jesuit mission station, whence it acquired the name of San Fernando,
  which still applies to the township. Later it was made the country
  residence of the Spanish governors, and in 1793 was by their
  authority incorporated and granted five thousand arpents of land for
  a common. The titles were confirmed by the United States in 1812. In
  1823 there was established at Florissant a Jesuit novitiate, among
  whose founders was Father Pierre de Smet, who was buried there in
  1873. Florissant had (1900) a population of 732.-- ED.

  [70] For St. Charles, see Bradbury's _Travels_, in volume v of our
  series, p. 39, note 9.--ED.

We find it necessary, both for our comfort and convenience, to
travel very slowly, as our feet are already becoming tender, and
that we may have an opportunity of observing the country, and
collecting interesting specimens. Unfortunately for the pursuits of
my companion, the plants (of which he finds a {13} number that are
rare and curious) are not yet in flower, and therefore of little use
to him. The birds are in considerable numbers, among the principal
of which is the large pileated woodpecker, (_Picus pileatus._)

Mr. N. and myself are both in high spirits. We travel slowly, and
without much fatigue, and when we arrive at a house, stop and rest,
take a drink of milk, and chat with those we see. We have been
uniformly well treated; the living is good, and very cheap, and at
any house at which we stop the inhabitants are sure to welcome us to
their hospitality and good cheer. They live comfortably, and without
much labor; possess a fruitful and easily tilled soil, for which
they pay the trifling sum of one dollar and a quarter per acre;
they raise an abundance of good Indian corn, potatoes, and other
vegetables; have excellent beef and pork, and, in short, every thing
necessary for good, wholesome living.

_31st._--The road to-day was muddy and slippery, rendered so by a
heavy rain which fell last night. This morning, we observed large
flocks of wild pigeons passing over, and on the bare prairies were
thousands of golden plovers; the ground was often literally covered
with them for acres. I killed a considerable number. They were very
fat, and we made an excellent meal of them in the evening. The
prairie hen, or pinnated grouse, is also very numerous, but in these
situations is shy, and difficult to be procured.

Towards evening we were overtaken by a bluff, jolly looking man, on
horseback, who, as is usual, stopped, and entered into conversation
with us. I saw immediately that he was superior to those we had
been accustomed to meet. He did not ply us with questions so
eagerly as most, and when he heard that we were naturalists, and
were travelling in that capacity, he seemed to take considerable
interest in us. He invited us to stop at his house, which was only
a mile beyond, and as night was almost {14} upon us, we accepted
the invitation with cheerfulness. Upon arriving at his mansion, our
good host threw wide his hospitable doors, and then with a formal,
and rather ultra-dignified politeness, making us a low bow, said,
"Gentlemen, my name is P., and I am very happy of your company."
We seated ourselves in a large, and well-furnished parlor. Mr. P.
excused himself for a few minutes, and soon returned, bringing in
three fine looking girls, whom he introduced as his daughters. I
took a particular fancy to one of them, from a strong resemblance
which she bore to one of my female friends at home. These girls
were certainly very superior to most that I had seen in Missouri,
although somewhat touched with the awkward bashfulness and prudery
which generally characterizes the prairie maidens. They had lost
their mother when young, and having no companions out of the
domestic circle, and consequently no opportunity of aping the
manners of the world, were perfect children of nature. Their father,
however, had given them a good, plain education, and they had made
some proficiency in needle work, as was evinced by numerous neatly
worked _samplers_ hanging in wooden frames around the room. Anon,
supper was brought in. It consisted of pork chops, ham, eggs, Indian
bread and butter, tea, coffee, milk, potatoes, _preserved ginger_,
and though last, certainly not least in value, an enormous tin dish
of plovers, (the contents of my game-bag,) _fricaseed_. Here was
certainly a most abundant repast, and we did ample justice to it.

I endeavored to do the agreeable to the fair ones in the evening,
and Mr. N. was monopolized by the father, who took a great interest
in plants, and was evidently much gratified by the information my
companion gave him on the subject.

The next morning when we rose, it was raining, and much had
evidently fallen during the night, making the roads wet and muddy,
and therefore unpleasant for pedestrians. I confess {15} I was not
sorry for this, for I felt myself very comfortably situated, and
had no wish to take to the road. Mr. P. urged the propriety of our
stopping at least another day, and the motion being seconded by his
fair daughter, (my favorite,) it was irresistible.

On the following morning the sun was shining brightly, the air was
fresh and elastic, and the roads tolerably dry, so that there was no
longer any excuse for tarrying, and we prepared for our departure.
Our good host, grasping our hands, said that he had been much
pleased with our visit, and hoped to see us again, and when I bid
good bye to the pretty Miss P., I told her that if I ever visited
Missouri again, I would go many miles out of my way to see her and
her sisters. Her reply was unsophisticated enough. "Do come again,
and come in May or June, for then there are plenty of prairie hens,
and you can shoot as many as you want, and you must stay a long
while with us, and we'll have nice times; good bye; I'm so sorry
you're going."

_April 4th._--I rose this morning at daybreak, and left Mr. N.
dreaming of weeds, in a little house at which we stopped last night,
and in company with a long, lanky boy, (a son of the poor widow,
our hostess,) set to moulding bullets in an old iron spoon, and
preparing for deer hunting. The boy shouldered a rusty rifle, that
looked almost antediluvian, and off we plodded to a thicket, two
miles from the house. We soon saw about a dozen fine deer, and the
boy, clapping his old fire-lock to his shoulder, brought down a
beautiful doe at the distance of a full hundred yards. Away sprang
the rest of the herd, and I crept round the thicket to meet them.
They soon came up, and I fired my piece at a large buck, and wounded
the poor creature in the leg; he went limping away, unable to
overtake his companions; I felt very sorry, but consoled myself with
the reflection that he would soon get well again.

{16} We then gave up the pursuit, and turned our attention to the
turkies, which were rather numerous in the thicket. They were shy,
as usual, and, when started from their lurking places, ran away like
deer, and hid themselves in the underwood. Occasionally, however,
they would perch on the high limbs of the trees, and then we had
some shots at them. In the course of an hour we killed four, and
returned to the house, where, as I expected, Mr. N. was in a fever
at my absence, and after a late, and very good breakfast, proceeded
on our journey.

We find in this part of the country less timber in the same space
than we have yet seen, and when a small belt appears, it is a great
relief, as the monotony of a bare prairie becomes tiresome.

Towards evening we arrived at Loutre Lick.[71] Here there is a place
called a _Hotel_. A Hotel, forsooth! a pig-stye would be a more
appropriate name. Every thing about it was most exceedingly filthy
and disagreeable, but no better lodging was to be had, for it might
not be proper to apply for accommodation at a private house in the
immediate vicinity of a public one. They gave us a wretched supper,
not half so good as we had been accustomed to, and we were fain to
spend the evening in a comfortless, unfurnished, nasty bar-room,
that smelt intolerably of rum and whiskey, to listen to the profane
conversation of three or four uncouth individuals, (among whom were
the host and his brother,) and to hear long and disagreeably minute
discussions upon horse-racing, gambling, and other vices equally
unpleasant to us.

  [71] Loutre Lick appears to be the hamlet now known as Big Spring,
  on Loutre Creek, in Loutre Township, Montgomery County. The
  settlement was made between 1808 and 1810, and was on the highway
  between St. Charles and Côte sans Dessein.--ED.

The host's brother had been to the Rocky Mountains, and soon
learning _our_ destination, gave us much unsought for advice
regarding our method of journeying; painted in strong colors the
many dangers and difficulties which we must encounter, and concluded
by advising us to give up the expedition. My fast ebbing patience
was completely exhausted. I told him that {17} nothing that he
could say would discourage us,--that we went to that house in order
to seek repose, and it was unfair to intrude conversation upon us
unasked. The ruffian made some grumbling reply, and left us in
quiet and undisturbed possession of our bench. We had a miserable
time that night. The only spare bed in the house was so intolerably
filthy that we dared not undress, and we had hardly closed our
eyes before we were assailed by swarms of a vile insect, (the
very name of which is offensive,) whose effluvia we had plainly
perceived immediately as we entered the room. It is almost needless
to say, that very early on the following morning, after paying
our reckoning, and refusing the landlord's polite invitation to
"_liquorize_," we marched from the house, shook the dust from our
feet, and went elsewhere to seek a breakfast.

Soon after leaving, we came to a deep and wide creek, and strained
our lungs for half an hour in vain endeavors to waken a negro boy
who lived in a hut on the opposite bank, and who, we were told,
would ferry us over. He came out of his den at last, half naked and
rubbing his eyes to see who had disturbed his slumbers so early
in the _marning_. We told him to hurry over, or we'd endeavor to
assist him, and he came at last, with a miserable leaky little skiff
that wet our feet completely. We gave him a _pickayune_ for his
trouble, and went on. We soon came to a neat little secluded cottage
in the very heart of a thick forest, where we found a fine looking
young man, with an interesting wife, and a very pretty child about
six months old. Upon being told that we wanted some breakfast, the
woman tucked up her sleeves, gave the child to her husband, and went
to work in good earnest. In a very short time a capital meal was
smoking on the board, and while we were partaking of the good cheer,
we found our vexation rapidly evaporating. We complimented the
handsome young hostess, {18} patted the chubby cheeks of the child,
and were in a good humor with every body.

_6th._--Soon after we started this morning, we were overtaken by
a stage which was going to Fulton, seven miles distant, and as
the roads were somewhat heavy, we concluded to make use of this
convenience. The only passengers were three young men from the far
west, who had been to the eastward purchasing goods, and were then
travelling homeward. Two of them evidently possessed a large share
of what is called _mother wit_, and so we had jokes without number.
Some of them were not very refined, and perhaps did not suit the
day very well, (it being the Sabbath,) yet none of them were really
offensive, but seemed to proceed entirely from an exuberance of
animal spirits.

In about an hour and a half we arrived at Fulton, a pretty little
town, and saw the villagers in their holiday clothes parading along
to church.[72] The bell at that moment sounded, and the peal gave
rise to many reflections. It might be long ere I should hear the
sound of the "church-going bell" again. I was on my way to a far,
far country, and I did not know that I should ever be permitted
to revisit my own. I felt that I was leaving the scenes of my
childhood; the spot which had witnessed all the happiness I ever
knew, the home where all my affections were centered. I was entering
a land of strangers, and would be compelled hereafter to mingle with
those who might look upon me with indifference, or treat me with
neglect.

  [72] Fulton is the seat of Callaway County, laid out in 1825, and
  originally christened Volney; but its appellation was soon changed
  in honor of Robert Fulton, inventor of the steamboat. The first
  settler and proprietor was George Nichols. In 1832 the population
  was about two hundred; by 1900 it had increased to nearly five
  thousand.--ED.

These reflections were soon checked, however. We took a light
lunch at the tavern where we stopped. I shouldered my gun, Mr. N.
his stick and bundle, and off we trudged again, westward, ho! We
soon lost sight of the prairie entirely, and our way lay through a
country thickly covered with heavy timber, the roads very rough and
stony, and we had frequently to ford {19} the creeks on our route,
the late freshets having carried away the bridges.

Our accommodation at the farm houses has generally been good and
comfortable, and the inhabitants obliging, and anxious to please.
They are, however, exceedingly inquisitive, propounding question
after question, in such quick succession as scarcely to allow you
breathing time between them. This kind of catechising was at first
very annoying to us, but we have now become accustomed to it, and
have hit upon an expedient to avoid it in a measure. The first
question generally asked, is, "where do you come from, gentlemen?"
We frame our answer somewhat in the style of Dr. Franklin. "We
come from Pennsylvania; our names, Nuttall and Townsend; we are
travelling to Independence on foot, for the purpose of seeing the
country to advantage, and we intend to proceed from thence across
the mountains to the Pacific. Have you any mules to sell?" The last
clause generally changes the conversation, and saves us trouble. To
a stranger, and one not accustomed to the manners of the western
people, this kind of interrogating seems to imply a lack of modesty
and common decency, but it is certainly not so intended, each one
appearing to think himself entitled to gain as much intelligence
regarding the private affairs of a stranger, as a very free use of
his lingual organ can procure for him.

We found the common gray squirrel very abundant in some places,
particularly in the low bottoms along water courses; in some
situations we saw them skipping on almost every tree. On last
Christmas day, at a squirrel hunt in this neighborhood, about thirty
persons killed the astonishing number of _twelve hundred_, between
the rising and setting of the sun.

This may seem like useless barbarity, but it is justified by
the consideration that all the crops of corn in the country
are frequently {20} destroyed by these animals. This extensive
extermination is carried on every year, and yet it is said that
their numbers do not appear to be much diminished.

About mid-day on the 7th, we passed through a small town called
Columbia, and stopped in the evening at Rocheport, a little village
on the Missouri river.[73] We were anxious to find a steam-boat
bound for Independence, as we feared we might linger too long upon
the road to make the necessary preparations for our contemplated
journey.

  [73] Columbia, seat of Boone County and of the Missouri State
  University, was organized first as Smithton. Later (1820), when made
  the county seat, the name was changed, and a period of prosperity
  began. The location of the university was secured in 1839. In 1900
  the population was 5,651.

  Rocheport, on the Missouri River, at the mouth of Moniteau Creek,
  was laid out in 1832 on land obtained on a New Madrid certificate.
  At one time the place rivaled Columbia. Its present population is
  about six hundred.--ED.

On the following day, we crossed the Missouri, opposite Rocheport,
in a small skiff. The road here, for several miles, winds along
the bank of the river, amid fine groves of sycamore and Athenian
poplars, then stretches off for about three miles, and does not
again approach it until you arrive at Boonville. It is by far the
most hilly road that we have seen, and I was frequently reminded,
while travelling on it, of our Chester county. We entered the
town of Boonville early in the afternoon, and took lodgings in a
very clean, and respectably kept hotel. I was much pleased with
Boonville. It is the prettiest town I have seen in Missouri;
situated on the bank of the river, on an elevated and beautiful
spot, and overlooks a large extent of lovely country. The town
contains two good hotels, (but no _grog shops_, properly so called,)
several well-furnished stores, and five hundred inhabitants. It was
laid out thirty years ago by the celebrated western pioneer, whose
name it bears.[74]

  [74] For Boonville, see note 59, p. 89, _ante_. Townsend is in error
  in attributing its founding to Daniel Boone, although named in his
  honor.--ED.

We saw here vast numbers of the beautiful parrot of this country,
(the _Psittacus carolinensis_.) They flew around us in flocks,
keeping a constant and loud screaming, as though they would chide
us for invading their territory; and the splendid green and red of
their plumage glancing in the sunshine, as they whirled and circled
within a few feet of us, had a most magnificent appearance. They
seem entirely unsuspicious of danger, and after being fired at, only
huddle closer together, as if to obtain protection {21} from each
other, and as their companions are falling around them, they curve
down their necks, and look at them fluttering upon the ground, as
though perfectly at a loss to account for so unusual an occurrence.
It is a most inglorious sort of shooting; down right, cold-blooded
murder.[75]

  [75] For the appearance of paroquets in this latitude, see Cuming's
  _Tour_ in our volume iv, p. 161, note 108.--ED.

On the afternoon of the 9th, a steamboat arrived, on board of
which we were surprised and pleased to find Captain Wyeth, and our
"_plunder_." We embarked immediately, and soon after, were puffing
along the Missouri, at the rate of seven miles an hour. When we
stopped in the afternoon to "wood," we were gratified by a sight
of one of the enormous catfish of this river and the Mississippi,
weighing full sixty pounds. It is said, however, that they are
sometimes caught of at least double this weight. They are excellent
eating, coarser, but quite as good as the common small catfish of
our rivers. There is nothing in the scenery of the river banks to
interest the traveller particularly. The country is generally level
and sandy, relieved only by an occasional hill, and some small rocky
acclivities.

A shocking accident happened on board during this trip. A fine
looking black boy (a slave of one of the deck passengers) was
standing on the platform near the fly-wheel. The steam had just
been stopped off, and the wheel was moving slowly by the impetus it
had acquired. The poor boy unwittingly thrust his head between the
spokes; a portion of the steam was at that moment let on, and his
head and shoulders were torn to fragments. We buried him on shore
the same day; the poor woman, his mistress, weeping and lamenting
over him as for her own child. She told me she had brought him up
from an infant; he had been as an affectionate son to her, and for
years her only support.

_March 20th._--On the morning of the 14th, we arrived at
Independence landing, and shortly afterwards, Mr. N. and {22} myself
walked to the town, three miles distant. The country here is very
hilly and rocky, thickly covered with timber, and no prairie within
several miles.

The site of the town is beautiful, and very well selected, standing
on a high point of land, and overlooking the surrounding country,
but the town itself is very indifferent;[76] the houses, (about
fifty,) are very much scattered, composed of logs and clay, and
are low and inconvenient. There are six or eight stores here, two
taverns, and a few tipling houses. As we did not fancy the town,
nor the society that we saw there, we concluded to take up our
residence at the house on the landing until the time of starting on
our journey. We were very much disappointed in not being able to
purchase any mules here, all the salable ones having been bought by
the Santa Fee traders, several weeks since. Horses, also, are rather
scarce, and are sold at higher prices than we had been taught to
expect, the demand for them at this time being greater than usual.
Mr. N. and myself have, however, been so fortunate as to find five
excellent animals amongst the hundreds of wretched ones offered for
sale, and have also engaged a man to attend to packing our loads,
and perform the various duties of our camp.

  [76] For Independence, see our volume xix, p. 189, note 34
  (Gregg).--ED.

The men of the party, to the number of about fifty, are encamped
on the bank of the river, and their tents whiten the plain for the
distance of half a mile. I have often enjoyed the view on a fine
moonlight evening from the door of the house, or perched upon a
high hill immediately over the spot. The beautiful white tents,
with a light gleaming from each, the smouldering fires around them,
the incessant hum of the men, and occasionally the lively notes of
a bacchanalian song, softened and rendered sweeter by distance.
I probably contemplate these and similar scenes with the more
interest, as they exhibit the manner in which the next five months
of my life are to be spent.

{23} We have amongst our men, a great variety of dispositions. Some
who have not been accustomed to the kind of life they are to lead in
future, look forward to it with eager delight, and talk of stirring
incidents and hair-breadth 'scapes. Others who are more experienced
seem to be as easy and unconcerned about it as a citizen would be
in contemplating a drive of a few miles into the country. Some have
evidently been reared in the shade, and not accustomed to hardships,
but the majority are strong, able-bodied men, and many are almost as
rough as the grizzly bears, of their feats upon which they are fond
of boasting.

During the day the captain keeps all his men employed in arranging
and packing a vast variety of goods for carriage. In addition to the
necessary clothing for the company, arms, ammunition, &c., there are
thousands of trinkets of various kinds, beads, paint, bells, rings,
and such trumpery, intended as presents for the Indians, as well
as objects of trade with them. The bales are usually made to weigh
about eighty pounds, of which a horse carries two.

I am very much pleased with the manner in which Captain W. manages
his men. He appears admirably calculated to gain the good will, and
ensure the obedience of such a company, and adopts the only possible
mode of accomplishing his end. They are men who have been accustomed
to act independently; they possess a strong and indomitable spirit
which will never succumb to authority, and will only be conciliated
by kindness and familiarity. I confess I admire this spirit. It is
noble; it is free and characteristic, but for myself, I have not
been accustomed to seeing it exercised, and when a rough fellow
comes up without warning, and slaps me on the shoulder, with,
"stranger what for a gun is that you carry?" I start, and am on the
point of making an angry reply, but I remember where I am, check the
feeling instantly, and submit the weapon to his inspection. Captain
W. {24} may frequently be seen sitting on the ground, surrounded
by a knot of his independents, consulting them as to his present
arrangements and future movements, and paying the utmost deference
to the opinion of the least among them.

We were joined here by Mr. Milton Sublette, a trader and trapper of
some ten or twelve years' standing. It is his intention to travel
with us to the mountains, and we are very glad of his company,
both on account of his intimate acquaintance with the country, and
the accession to our band of about twenty trained hunters, "true as
the steel of their tried blades," who have more than once followed
their brave and sagacious leader over the very track which we intend
to pursue. He appears to be a man of strong sense and courteous
manners, and his men are enthusiastically attached to him.[77]

  [77] For Milton Sublette, see note 44, p. 67, _ante_.--ED.

Five missionaries, who intend to travel under our escort, have also
just arrived. The principal of these is a Mr. Jason Lee, (a tall
and powerful man, who looks as though he were well calculated to
buffet difficulties in a wild country,) his nephew, Mr. Daniel Lee,
and three younger men of respectable standing in society, who have
arrayed themselves under the missionary banner, chiefly for the
gratification of seeing a new country, and participating in strange
adventures.[78]

  [78] The establishment of the Oregon mission was due to the appeal
  published in the East, of a deputation (1831) of Flathead chiefs
  to General William Clark at St. Louis for the purpose of gaining
  religious instruction. The leaders of the Methodist church, thus
  aroused, chose (1833) Jason Lee to found the mission to the Western
  Indians, and made an appropriation for the purpose. Jason Lee was
  born in Canada (1803), of American parents; he had already taught
  Indians in his native village, and attended Wesleyan Seminary
  at Wilbraham, Massachusetts. After several efforts to arrange
  the journey to Oregon, he heard of Wyeth's return, and requested
  permission to join his outgoing party. Arrived at Vancouver, he
  determined to establish his mission station in the Willamette
  valley, where he labored for ten years, building a colony as well
  as a mission. Once he returned to the United States (1838-40) for
  money and reinforcements. In 1844, while visiting Honolulu, he
  learned that he had been superseded in the charge of the mission,
  and returned to the United States to die the following year, near
  his birthplace in Lower Canada.

  Daniel Lee, who accompanied his uncle, seconded the latter's efforts
  in the mission establishment. In 1835 he voyaged to Hawaii for
  his health, and in 1838 established the Dalles mission, where he
  labored until his return to the United States in 1843. The other
  missionaries were Cyrus Shepard, a lay helper and teacher--who died
  at the Willamette mission, January 1, 1840--C. M. Walker, and A. L.
  Edwards, who joined the party in Missouri.--ED.

My favorites, the birds, are very numerous in this vicinity, and I
am therefore in my element. Parroquets are plentiful in the bottom
lands, the two species of squirrel are abundant, and rabbits,
turkies, and deer are often killed by our people.

I was truly rejoiced to receive yesterday a letter from my family.
I went to the office immediately on my arrival here, confidently
expecting to find one lying there for me; I was told there was none,
and I could not believe it, or would not; I took all the letters in
my hand, and examined each of them myself, and I suppose that during
the process my expressions of disappointment were "loud and deep,"
as I observed the eyes of a number {25} of persons in the store
directed towards me with manifest curiosity and surprise. The obtuse
creatures could not appreciate my feelings. I was most anxious to
receive intelligence from home, as some of the members of the family
were indisposed when I left, and in a few days more I should be
traversing the uncultivated prairie and the dark forest, and perhaps
never hear from my home again. The letter came at last, however, and
was an inexpressible consolation to me.

The little town of Independence has within a few weeks been the
scene of a brawl, which at one time threatened to be attended
with serious consequences, but which was happily settled without
bloodshed. It had been for a considerable time the stronghold of
a sect of fanatics, called Mormons, or Mormonites, who, as their
numbers increased, and they obtained power, showed an inclination to
lord it over the less assuming inhabitants of the town. This was a
source of irritation which they determined to rid themselves of in
a summary manner, and accordingly the whole town rose, _en masse_,
and the poor followers of the prophet were forcibly ejected from
the community. They took refuge in the little town of Liberty, on
the opposite side of the river, and the villagers here are now in
a constant state of feverish alarm. Reports have been circulated
that the Mormons are preparing to attack the town, and put the
inhabitants to the sword, and they have therefore stationed sentries
along the river for several miles, to prevent the landing of the
enemy.[79] The troops parade and study military tactics every day,
and seem determined to repel, with spirit, the threatened invasion.
The probability is, that the report respecting the attack, is, as
John Bull says, "all humbug," and this training and marching has
already been a source of no little annoyance to us, as the miserable
little skeleton of a saddler who is engaged to work for our party,
has neglected his business, and must go a soldiering in stead. A day
or two ago, I tried to convince the little man that he was of no
use to the army, {26} for if a Mormon were to say _pooh_ at him, it
would blow him away beyond the reach of danger or of glory; but he
thought not, and no doubt concluded that he was a "marvellous proper
man," so we were put to great inconvenience waiting for our saddles.

  [79] For these Mormon troubles, see Gregg's _Commerce of the
  Prairies_, in our volume xx, pp. 93-99.--ED.



{27} CHAPTER II

     Departure of the caravan--A storm on the prairie--Arrangement
     of the camp--The cook's desertion--Kanzas Indians--Kanzas
     river--Indian lodges--Passage of the river--Buffalo
     canoes--Kanzas chief--Costume of the Indians--Upper Kaw
     village--Their wigwams--Catfish and ravens--Return of Mr.
     Sublette--Pawnee trace--Desertion of three men--Difficulties
     occasioned by losing the trail--Intelligence of Mr. Sublette's
     party--Escape of the band of horses--Visit of three Otto
     Indians--Anecdote of Richardson, the chief hunter--His
     appearance and character--White wolves and antelopes--Buffalo
     bones--Sublette's deserted camp--Lurking wolves.


On the 28th of April, at 10 o'clock in the morning, our caravan,
consisting of seventy men, and two hundred and fifty horses,
began its march; Captain Wyeth and Milton Sublette took the lead,
Mr. N. and myself rode beside them; then the men in double file,
each leading, with a line, two horses heavily laden, and Captain
Thing (Captain W.'s assistant) brought up the rear. The band of
missionaries, with their horned cattle, rode along the flanks.

I frequently sallied out from my station to look at and admire the
appearance of the cavalcade, and as we rode out from the encampment,
our horses prancing, and neighing, and pawing the ground, it was
altogether so exciting that I could scarcely contain myself. Every
man in the company seemed to feel a portion of the same kind of
enthusiasm; uproarious bursts of merriment, and gay and lively
songs, were constantly echoing along the line. We were certainly a
most merry and happy company. What cared we for the future? We had
reason to expect that ere long difficulties and dangers, in various
shapes, {28} would assail us, but no anticipation of reverses could
check the happy exuberance of our spirits.

Our road lay over a vast rolling prairie, with occasional small
spots of timber at the distance of several miles apart, and this
will no doubt be the complexion of the track for some weeks.

In the afternoon we crossed the _Big Blue_ river at a shallow
ford.[80] Here we saw a number of beautiful yellow-headed troopials,
(_Icterus zanthrocephalus_,) feeding upon the prairie in company
with large flocks of black birds, and like these, they often alight
upon the backs of our horses.

  [80] Townsend is here in error. It would be impossible to reach
  the Big Blue River the first day out from Independence, and before
  crossing the Kansas. The former stream is a northern tributary of
  the latter, over a hundred miles from its mouth. The Oregon Trail
  led along its banks for some distance, crossing at the entrance of
  the Little Blue.--ED.

_29th._--A heavy rain fell all the morning, which had the effect
of calming our transports in a great measure, and in the afternoon
it was succeeded by a tremendous hail storm. During the rain, our
party left the road, and proceeded about a hundred yards from it
to a range of bushes, near a stream of water, for the purpose of
encamping. We had just arrived here, and had not yet dismounted,
when the hail storm commenced. It came on very suddenly, and the
stones, as large as musket balls, dashing upon our horses, created
such a panic among them, that they plunged, and kicked, and many of
them threw their loads, and fled wildly over the plain. They were
all overtaken, however, and as the storm was not of long duration,
they were soon appeased, and _staked_ for the night.

To stake or fasten a horse for the night, he is provided with a
strong leathern halter, with an iron ring attached to the chin
strap. To this ring, a rope of hemp or plaited leather, twenty-two
feet in length, is attached, and the opposite end of the line made
fast with several clove hitches around an oak or hickory pin, two
and a half feet long. The top of this pin or stake is ringed with
iron to prevent its being bruised, and it is then driven to the
head in the ground. For greater security, hopples made of stout
leather are buckled around the fore legs; and then, {29} if the
tackling is good, it is almost impossible for a horse to escape.
Care is always taken to stake him in a spot where he may eat grass
all night. The animals are placed sufficiently far apart to prevent
them interfering with each other.

Camping out to-night is not so agreeable as it might be, in
consequence of the ground being very wet and muddy, and our blankets
(our only bedding) thoroughly soaked; but we expect to encounter
greater difficulties than these ere long, and we do not murmur.

A description of the formation of our camp may, perhaps, not be
amiss here. The party is divided into messes of eight men, and each
mess is allowed a separate tent. The captain of a mess, (who is
generally an "old hand," _i. e._ an experienced forester, hunter, or
trapper,) receives each morning the rations of pork, flour, &c. for
his people, and they choose one of their body as cook for the whole.
Our camp now consists of nine messes, of which Captain W.'s forms
one, although it only contains four persons besides the cook.

When we arrive in the evening at a suitable spot for an encampment,
Captain W. rides round a space which he considers large enough to
accommodate it, and directs where each mess shall pitch its tent.
The men immediately unload their horses, and place their bales of
goods in the direction indicated, and in such manner, as in case
of need, to form a sort of fortification and defence. When all the
messes are arranged in this way, the camp forms a hollow square, in
the centre of which the horses are placed and staked firmly to the
ground. The guard consists of from six to eight men, and is relieved
three times each night, and so arranged that each gang may serve
alternate nights. The captain of a guard (who is generally also the
captain of a mess) collects his people at the appointed hour, and
posts them around outside the camp in such situations that they may
command {30} a view of the environs, and be ready to give the alarm
in case of danger.

The captain cries the hour regularly by a watch, and _all's well_,
every fifteen minutes, and each man of the guard is required to
repeat this call in rotation, which if any one should fail to do, it
is fair to conclude that he is asleep, and he is then immediately
visited and stirred up. In case of defection of this kind, our laws
adjudge to the delinquent the hard sentence of walking three days.
As yet none of our poor fellows have incurred this penalty, and
the probability is, that it would not at this time be enforced,
as we are yet in a country where little molestation is to be
apprehended; but in the course of another week's travel, when
thieving and ill-designing Indians will be outlying on our trail,
it will be necessary that the strictest watch be kept, and, for the
preservation of our persons and property, that our laws shall be
rigidly enforced.

_May 1st._--On rising this morning, and inquiring about our
prospects of a breakfast, we discovered that the cook of our mess
(a little, low-browed, ill-conditioned Yankee) had decamped in
the night, and left our service to seek for a better. He probably
thought the duties too hard for him, but as he was a miserable cook,
we should not have much regretted his departure, had he not thought
proper to take with him an excellent rifle, powder-horn, shot-pouch,
and other matters that did not belong to him. It is only surprising
that he did not select one of our best horses to carry him; but as
he had the grace to take his departure on foot, and we have enough
men without him, we can wish him God speed, and a fair run to the
settlements.

We encamped this evening on a small branch of the Kanzas river. As
we approached our stopping place, we were joined by a band of Kanzas
Indians, (commonly called _Kaw_ Indians.)[81] They are encamped in
a neighboring copse, where they have {31} six lodges. This party
is a small division of a portion of this tribe, who are constantly
wandering; but although their journeys are sometimes pretty
extensive, they seldom approach nearer to the settlements than
they are at present. They are very friendly, are not so tawdrily
decorated as those we saw below, and use little or no paint. This
may, however, be accounted for by their not having the customary
ornaments, &c., as their ears are filled with trinkets of various
kinds, and are horribly gashed in the usual manner. The dress of
most that we have seen, has consisted of ordinary woollen pantaloons
received from the whites, and their only covering, from the waist
up, is a blanket or buffalo robe. The head is shaved somewhat in
the manner of the Sâques and Foxes, leaving the well known scalping
tuft; but unlike the Indians just mentioned, the hair is allowed
to grow upon the middle of the head, and extends backwards in a
longitudinal ridge to the occiput. It is here gathered into a kind
of queue, plaited, and suffered to hang down the back. There were
amongst them several squaws, with young children tied to their
backs, and a number of larger urchins ran about our camp wholly
naked.

  [81] For the first stretches of the Oregon Trail and the crossing
  of the Kansas, see note 30, p. 49, _ante_. The Kansa Indians are
  noticed in Bradbury's _Travels_, our volume v, p. 67, note 37.--ED.

The whole of the following day we remained in camp, trading buffalo
robes, _apishemeaus_,[82] &c., of the Indians. These people became
at length somewhat troublesome to us who were not traders, by a
very free exercise of their begging propensities. They appear
to be exceedingly poor and needy, and take the liberty of asking
unhesitatingly, and without apparent fear of refusal, for any
articles that happen to take their fancy.

  [82] These are mats made of rushes, used for building wigwams,
  carpets, beds, and coverings of all sorts. The early Algonquian term
  was "apaquois;" see _Wisconsin Historical Collections_, xvi, index.
  "Apichement" is the usual form of the word.--ED.

I have observed, that among the Indians now with us, none but the
chief uses the pipe. He smokes the article called _kanikanik_,--a
mixture of tobacco and the dried leaves of the poke plant,
(_Phytolacca decandra_.) I was amused last evening by the old chief
asking me in his impressive manner, (first by pointing with his
finger towards the sunset, and then raising his {32} hands high over
his head,) if I was going to the mountains. On answering him in the
affirmative, he depressed his hands, and passed them around his head
in both directions, then turned quickly away from me, with a very
solemn and significant _ugh_! He meant, doubtless, that my brain was
turned; in plain language, that I was a fool. This may be attributed
to his horror of the Blackfeet Indians, with whom a portion of his
tribe was formerly at war. The poor Kaws are said to have suffered
dreadfully in these savage conflicts, and were finally forced to
abandon the country to their hereditary foes.

We were on the move early the next morning, and at noon arrived at
the Kanzas river, a branch of the Missouri.[83] This is a broad and
not very deep stream, with the water dark and turbid, like that of
the former. As we approached it, we saw a number of Indian lodges,
made of saplings driven into the ground, bent over and tied at top,
and covered with bark and buffalo skins. These lodges, or wigwams,
are numerous on both sides of the river. As we passed them, the
inhabitants, men, women, and children, flocked out to see us, and
almost prevented our progress by their eager greetings. Our party
stopped on the bank of the river, and the horses were unloaded
and driven into the water. They swam beautifully, and with great
regularity, and arrived safely on the opposite shore, where they
were confined in a large lot, enclosed with a fence. After some
difficulty, and considerable detention, we succeeded in procuring a
large flat bottomed boat, embarked ourselves and goods in it, and
landed on the opposite side near our horse pen, where we encamped.
The lodges are numerous here, and there are also some good frame
houses inhabited by a few white men and women, who subsist chiefly
by raising cattle, which they drive to the settlements below. They,
as well as the Indians, raise an abundance of good corn; potatoes
and other vegetables are also plentiful, and they can therefore live
sufficiently well.

  [83] For the Kansas River, see James's _Long's Expedition_, in our
  volume xiv, p. 174, note 140.--ED.

{33} The canoes used by the Indians are mostly made of buffalo
skins, stretched, while recent, over a light frame work of wood, the
seams sewed with sinews, and so closely, as to be wholly impervious
to water. These light vessels are remarkably buoyant, and capable of
sustaining very heavy burthens.[84]

  [84] For these skin canoes, see illustration in Maximilian's
  _Travels_, atlas, our volume xxv.--ED.

In the evening the principal Kanzas chief paid us a visit in our
tent. He is a young man about twenty-five years of age, straight as
a poplar, and with a noble countenance and bearing, but he appeared
to me to be marvellously deficient in most of the requisites which
go to make the character of a _real_ Indian chief, at least of
such Indian chiefs as we read of in our popular books. I begin to
suspect, in truth, that these lofty and dignified attributes are
more apt to exist in the fertile brain of the novelist, than in
reality. Be this as it may, _our_ chief is a very lively, laughing,
and rather playful personage; perhaps he may put on his dignity,
like a glove, when it suits his convenience.

We remained in camp the whole of next day, and traded with the
Indians for a considerable number of robes, _apishemeaus_, and
halter ropes of hide. Our fat bacon and tobacco were in great demand
for these useful commodities.

The Kaws living here appear to be much more wealthy than those who
joined our camp on the prairie below. They are in better condition,
more richly dressed, cleaner, and more comfortable than their
wandering brothers. The men have generally fine countenances, but
all the women that I have seen are homely. I cannot admire them.
Their dress consists, universally of deer skin leggings, belted
around the loins, and over the upper part of the body a buffalo robe
or blanket.

On the 20th in the morning, we packed our horses and rode out of the
Kaw settlement, leaving the river immediately, and making a N. W.
by W. course--and the next day came to another village of the same
tribe, consisting of about thirty lodges, and situated in the midst
of a beautiful level prairie.

{34} The Indians stopped our caravan almost by force, and evinced
so much anxiety to trade with us, that we could not well avoid
gratifying them. We remained with them about two hours, and bought
corn, moccasins and leggings in abundance. The lodges here are
constructed very differently from those of the lower village. They
are made of large and strong timbers, a ridge pole runs along the
top, and the different pieces are fastened together by leathern
thongs. The roofs,--which are single, making but one angle,--are
of stout poplar bark, and form an excellent defence, both against
rain and the rays of the sun, which must be intense during midsummer
in this region. These prairies are often visited by heavy gales of
wind, which would probably demolish the huts, were they built of
frail materials like those below. We encamped in the evening on a
small stream called Little Vermillion creek,[85] where we found
an abundance of excellent catfish, exactly similar to those of the
Schuylkill river. Our people caught them in great numbers. Here we
first saw the large ravens, (_Corvus corax_.) They hopped about
the ground all around our camp; and as we left it, they came in,
pell-mell, croaking, fighting, and scrambling for the few fragments
that remained.

  [85] Now usually known as the Red Vermilion, a northern tributary of
  Kansas River in Pottawatomie County, Kansas.--ED.

_8th._--This morning Mr. Sublette left us to return to the
settlements. He has been suffering for a considerable time with a
fungus in one of his legs, and it has become so much worse since
we started, in consequence of irritation caused by riding, that he
finds it impossible to proceed. His departure has thrown a gloom
over the whole camp. We all admired him for his amiable qualities,
and his kind and obliging disposition. For myself, I had become so
much attached to him, that I feel quite melancholy about his leaving
us.[86]

  [86] I have since learned that his limb was twice amputated; but
  notwithstanding this, the disease lingered in the system, and about
  a year ago, terminated his life.--TOWNSEND.

{35} The weather is now very warm, and there has been a dead calm
all day, which renders travelling most uncomfortable. We have
frequently been favored with fresh breezes, which make it very
agreeable, but the moment these fail us we are almost suffocated
with intense heat. Our rate of travelling is about twenty miles per
day, which, in this warm weather, and with heavily packed horses, is
as much as we can accomplish with comfort to ourselves and animals.

On the afternoon of the next day, we crossed a broad Indian trail,
bearing northerly, supposed to be about five days old, and to have
been made by a war party of Pawnees. We are now in the country
traversed by these Indians, and are daily expecting to see them, but
Captain W. seems very desirous to avoid them, on account of their
well known thieving propensities, and quarrelsome disposition.
These Indians go every year to the plains of the Platte, where they
spend some weeks in hunting the buffalo, jerking their meat, and
preparing their skins for robes; they then push on to the Black
Hills, and look out for the parties of Blackfeet, which are also
bound to the Platte river plains. When the opposing parties come in
collision, (which frequently happens,) the most cruel and sanguinary
conflicts ensue. In the evening, three of our men deserted. Like
our quondam cook, they all took rifles, &c., that did not belong to
them, and one of these happened to be a favorite piece of Captain
W.'s, which had done him good service in his journey across this
country two years ago. He was very much attached to the gun, and in
spite of his calm and cool philosophy in all vexatious matters, he
cannot altogether conceal his chagrin.

The little streams of this part of the country are fringed with
a thick growth of pretty trees and bushes, and the buds are now
swelling, and the leaves expanding, to "welcome back the spring."
The birds, too, sing joyously amongst them, grosbeaks, thrushes,
and buntings, a merry and musical band. I am particularly {36}
fond of sallying out early in the morning, and strolling around
the camp. The light breeze just bends the tall tops of the grass
on the boundless prairie, the birds are commencing their matin
carollings, and all nature looks fresh and beautiful. The horses
of the camp are lying comfortably on their sides, and seem, by the
glances which they give me in passing, to know that their hour of
toil is approaching, and the patient kine are ruminating in happy
unconsciousness.

_11th._--We encountered some rather serious difficulties to-day in
fording several wide and deep creeks, having muddy and miry bottoms.
Many of our horses, (and particularly those that were packed,) fell
into the water, and it was with the greatest difficulty and labor
that they were extricated. Some of the scenes presented were rather
ludicrous to those who were not actors in them. The floundering,
kicking, and falling of horses in the heavy slough, man and beast
rolling over together, and _squattering_ amongst the black mud, and
the wo-begone looks of horse, rider, and horse-furniture, often
excited a smile, even while we pitied their begrimed and miserable
plight. All these troubles are owing to our having lost the trail
yesterday, and we have been travelling to-day as nearly in the
proper course as our compass indicated, and hope soon to find it.

_12th._--Our scouts came in this morning with the intelligence that
they had found a large trail of white men, bearing N. W. We have
no doubt that this is Wm. Sublette's party, and that it passed us
last evening.[87] They must have travelled very rapidly to overtake
us so soon, and no doubt had men ahead watching our motions. It
seems rather unfriendly, perhaps, to run by us in this furtive way,
without even stopping to say good morning, but Sublette is attached
to a rival company, and all stratagems are deemed allowable when
interest is concerned. It is a matter of some moment to be the first
at the mountain rendezvous, {37} in order to obtain the furs brought
every summer by the trappers.

  [87] For biographical sketch of William Sublette, see our volume
  xix, p. 221 note 55 (Gregg). His haste to reach the rendezvous in
  the mountains before the arrival of Wyeth's party, was connected
  with the arrangements for supplies; see preface to the present
  volume.--ED.

Last night, while I was serving on guard, I observed an unusual
commotion among our band of horses, a wild neighing, snorting, and
plunging, for which I was unable to account. I directed several of
my men to go in and appease them, and endeavor to ascertain the
cause. They had scarcely started, however, when about half of the
band broke their fastenings, snapped the hopples on their legs, and
went dashing right through the midst of the camp. Down went several
of the tents, the rampart of goods was cleared in gallant style, and
away went the frightened animals at full speed over the plain. The
whole camp was instantly aroused. The horses that remained, were
bridled as quickly as possible; we mounted them without saddles, and
set off in hard pursuit after the fugitives. The night was pitch
dark, but we needed no light to point out the way, as the clattering
of hoofs ahead on the hard ground of the prairie, sounded like
thunder. After riding half an hour, we overtook about forty of them,
and surrounding them with difficulty, succeeded in driving them
back, and securing them as before. Twenty men were then immediately
despatched to scour the country, and bring in the remainder. This
party was headed by Mr. Lee, our missionary, (who, with his usual
promptitude, volunteered his services,) and they returned early this
morning, bringing nearly sixty more. We find, however, upon counting
the horses in our possession, that there are yet three missing.

While we were at breakfast, three Indians of the Otto tribe, came
to our camp to see, and smoke with us.[88] These were men of rather
short stature, but strong and firmly built. Their countenances
resemble in general expression those of the Kanzas, and their
dresses are very similar. We are all of opinion, that it is to these
Indians we owe our difficulties of last night, and we have no doubt
that the three missing horses are now in their {38} possession, but
as we cannot prove it upon them, and cannot even converse with them,
(having no interpreters,) we are compelled to submit to our loss in
silence. Perhaps we should even be thankful that we have not lost
more.

  [88] For the Oto, see Bradbury's _Travels_, in our volume v, p. 74,
  note 42.--ED.

While these people were smoking the pipe of peace with us, after
breakfast, I observed that Richardson, our chief hunter, (an
experienced man in this country, of a tall and iron frame, and
almost child-like simplicity of character, in fact an exact
counterpart of _Hawk-eye_ in his younger days,) stood aloof, and
refused to sit in the circle, in which it was always the custom of
the _old hands_ to join.

Feeling some curiosity to ascertain the cause of this unusual
diffidence, I occasionally allowed my eyes to wander to the spot
where our sturdy hunter stood looking moodily upon us, as the
calamet passed from hand to hand around the circle, and I thought
I perceived him now and then cast a furtive glance at one of the
Indians who sat opposite to me, and sometimes his countenance would
assume an expression almost demoniacal, as though the most fierce
and deadly passions were raging in his bosom. I felt certain that
hereby hung a tale, and I watched for a corresponding expression,
or at least a look of consciousness, in the face of my opposite
neighbor, but expression there was none. His large features were
settled in a tranquillity which nothing could disturb, and as he
puffed the smoke in huge volumes from his mouth, and the fragrant
vapor wreathed and curled around his head, he seemed the embodied
spirit of meekness and taciturnity.

The camp moved soon after, and I lost no time in overhauling
Richardson, and asking an explanation of his singular conduct.

"Why," said he, "that _Injen_ that sat opposite to you, is my
bitterest enemy. I was once going down alone from the rendezvous
with letters for St. Louis, and when I arrived on the lower {39}
part of the Platte river, (just a short distance beyond us here,) I
fell in with about a dozen Ottos. They were known to be a friendly
tribe, and I therefore felt no fear of them. I dismounted from my
horse and sat with them upon the ground. It was in the depth of
winter; the ground was covered with snow, and the river was frozen
solid. While I was thinking of nothing but my dinner, which I was
then about preparing, four or five of the cowards jumped on me,
mastered my rifle, and held my arms fast, while they took from me
my knife and tomahawk, my flint and steel, and all my ammunition.
They then loosed me, and told me to be off. I begged them, for the
love of God, to give me my rifle and a few loads of ammunition, or
I should starve before I could reach the settlements. No--I should
have nothing, and if I did not start off immediately, they would
throw me under the ice of the river. And," continued the excited
hunter,--while he ground his teeth with bitter, and uncontrollable
rage,--"that man that sat opposite to you was the chief of them. He
recognised me, and knew very well the reason why I would not smoke
with him. I tell you, sir, if ever I meet that man in any other
situation than that in which I saw him this morning, I'll shoot him
with as little hesitation as I would shoot a deer. Several years
have passed since the perpetration of this outrage, but it is still
as fresh in my memory as ever, and I again declare, that if ever an
opportunity offers, I will kill that man." "But, Richardson, did
they take your horse also?" "To be sure they did, and my blankets,
and every thing I had, except my clothes." "But how did you subsist
until you reached the settlements? You had a long journey before
you." "Why, set to _trappin'_ prairie squirrels with little nooses
made out of the hairs of my head." I should remark that his hair
was so long, that it fell in heavy masses on his shoulders. "But
squirrels in winter, Richardson, I never heard of squirrels in
winter." "Well but there was plenty of them, though; little white
ones, that lived among the {40} snow." "Well, really, this was an
unpleasant sort of adventure enough, but let me suggest that you
do very wrong to remember it with such blood-thirsty feelings." He
shook his head with a dogged and determined air, and rode off as if
anxious to escape a lecture.

A little sketch of our hunter may perhaps not be uninteresting,
as he will figure somewhat in the following pages, being one of
the principal persons of the party, the chief hunter, and a man
upon whose sagacity and knowledge of the country we all in a great
measure depended.

In height he is several inches over six feet, of a spare but
remarkably strong and vigorous frame, and a countenance of almost
infantile simplicity and openness. In disposition he is mild and
affable, but when roused to indignation, his keen eyes glitter and
flash, the muscles of his large mouth work convulsively, and he
looks the very impersonation of the spirit of evil. He is implacable
in anger, and bitter in revenge; never forgetting a kindness, but
remembering an injury with equal tenacity. Such is the character of
our hunter, and none who have known him as I have, will accuse me
of delineating from fancy. His native place is Connecticut, which
he left about twelve years ago, and has ever since been engaged in
roaming through the boundless plains and rugged mountains of the
west, often enduring the extremity of famine and fatigue, exposed
to dangers and vicissitudes of every kind, all for the paltry, and
often uncertain pittance of a Rocky Mountain hunter. He says he
is now tired of this wandering and precarious life, and when he
shall be enabled to save enough from his earnings to buy a farm
in Connecticut, he intends to settle down a quiet tiller of the
soil, and enjoy the sweets of domestic felicity. But this day will
probably never arrive. Even should he succeed in realizing a little
fortune, and the farm should be taken, the monotony and tameness
of the scene will weary his free spirit; he will often sigh for a
habitation {41} on the broad prairie, or a ramble over the dreary
mountains where his lot has so long been cast.

_15th._--We saw to-day several large white wolves, and two herds
of antelopes. The latter is one of the most beautiful animals I
ever saw. When full grown, it is nearly as large as a deer. The
horns are rather short, with a single prong near the top, and an
abrupt backward curve at the summit like a hook. The ears are very
delicate, almost as thin as paper, and hooked at the tip like the
horns. The legs are remarkably light and beautifully formed, and as
it bounds over the plain, it seems scarcely to touch the ground,
so exceedingly light and agile are its motions. This animal is
the _Antelope furcifer_ of zoologists, and inhabits the western
prairies of North America exclusively. The ground here is strewn
with great quantities of buffalo bones; the skulls of many of them
in great perfection. I often thought of my friend Doctor M. and his
_golgotha_, while we were kicking these fine specimens about the
ground. We are now travelling along the banks of the Blue river,--a
small fork of the Kanzas. The grass is very luxuriant and good, and
we have excellent and beautiful camps every night.

This morning a man was sent ahead to see W. Sublette's camp,
and bear a message to him, who returned in the evening with the
information that the company is only one day's journey beyond, and
consists of about thirty-five men. We see his deserted camps every
day, and, in some cases, the fires are not yet extinguished. It
is sometimes amusing to see the wolves lurking like guilty things
around these camps seeking for the fragments that may be left;
as our party approaches, they sneak away with a mean, hang-dog
air which often coaxes a whistling bullet out of the rifle of the
wayfarer.



{42} CHAPTER III

     Arrival at the Platte river--Wolves and antelopes--Saline
     efflorescences--Anxiety of the men to see buffalo--Visit
     of two spies from the Grand Pawnees--Forced march--A herd
     of buffalo--Elk--Singular conduct of the horses--Killing a
     buffalo--Indian mode of procuring buffalo--Great herd--Intention
     of the men to desert--Adventure with an Indian in the
     tent--Circumspection necessary--Indian feat with bow and
     arrow--Notice of the Pawnee tribes--Disappearance of the buffalo
     from the plains of the Platte--A hunting adventure--Killing
     a buffalo--Butchering of a bull--Shameful destruction of the
     game--Hunters' mode of quenching thirst.


On the 18th of May we arrived at the Platte river. It is from one
and a half to two miles in width, very shoal; large sand flats, and
small, verdant islands appearing in every part. Wolves and antelopes
were in great abundance here, and the latter were frequently killed
by our men. We saw, also, the sandhill crane, great heron, (_Ardea
heroidas_,) and the long-billed curlew, stalking about through the
shallow water, and searching for their aquatic food.

The prairie is here as level as a race course, not the slightest
undulation appearing throughout the whole extent of vision, in a
north and westerly direction; but to the eastward of the river, and
about eight miles from it, is seen a range of high bluffs or sand
banks, stretching away to the south-east until they are lost in the
far distance.

The ground here is in many places encrusted with an impure salt,
which by the taste appears to be a combination of the sulphate and
muriate of soda; there are also a number of little pools, of only a
few inches in depth, scattered over the plain, the water of which
is so bitter and pungent, that it seems to penetrate {43} into the
tongue, and almost to produce decortication of the mouth.

We are now within about three days' journey of the usual haunts
of the buffalo, and our men (particularly the uninitiated) look
forward to our arrival amongst them with considerable anxiety. They
have listened to the garrulous hunter's details of "_approaching_,"
and "_running_," and "_quartering_," until they fancy themselves
the very actors in the scenes related, and are fretting and fuming
with impatience to draw their maiden triggers upon the unoffending
rangers of the plain.

The next morning, we perceived two men on horseback, at a great
distance; and upon looking at them with our telescope, discovered
them to be Indians, and that they were approaching us. When they
arrived within three or four hundred yards, they halted, and
appeared to wish to communicate with us, but feared to approach
too nearly. Captain W. rode out alone and joined them, while the
party proceeded slowly on its way. In about fifteen minutes he
returned with the information that they were of the tribe called
Grand Pawnees.[89] They told him that a war party of their people,
consisting of fifteen hundred warriors, was encamped about thirty
miles below; and the captain inferred that these men had been sent
to watch our motions, and ascertain our place of encampment; he was
therefore careful to impress upon them that we intended to go but
a few miles further, and pitch our tents upon a little stream near
the main river. When we were satisfied that the messengers were out
of sight of us, on their return to their camp, our whole caravan
was urged into a brisk trot, and we determined to steal a march
upon our neighbors. The little stream was soon passed, and we went
on, and on, without slackening our pace, until 12 o'clock at night.
We then called a halt on the bank of the river, made a hasty meal,
threw ourselves down in our blankets, without pitching the tents,
and slept soundly for three hours. We were {44} then aroused, and
off we went again, travelling steadily the whole day, making about
thirty-five miles, and so got quite clear of the Grand Pawnees.

  [89] On the different branches of Pawnee, see James's _Long's
  Expedition_, in our volume xiv, p. 233, note 179.--ED.

The antelopes are very numerous here. There is not half an hour
during the day in which they are not seen, and they frequently
permit the party to approach very near them. This afternoon, two
beautiful does came bounding after us, bleating precisely like
sheep. The men imitated the call, and they came up to within fifty
yards of us, and stood still; two of the hunters fired, and both
the poor creatures fell dead. We can now procure as many of these
animals as we wish, but their flesh is not equal to common venison,
and is frequently rejected by our people. A number are, however,
slaughtered every day, from mere wantonness and love of killing, the
greenhorns glorying in the sport, like our striplings of the city,
in their annual murdering of robins and sparrows.

_20th._--This afternoon, we came in sight of a large _gang_ of the
long-coveted buffalo. They were grazing on the opposite side of
the Platte, quietly as domestic cattle, but as we neared them, the
foremost _winded_ us, and started back, and the whole herd followed
in the wildest confusion, and were soon out of sight. There must
have been many thousands of them. Towards evening, a large band of
elk came towards us at full gallop, and passed very near the party.
The appearance of these animals produced a singular effect upon
our horses, all of which became restive, and about half the loose
ones broke away, and scoured over the plain in full chase after the
elk. Captain W. and several of his men went immediately in pursuit
of them, and returned late at night, bringing the greater number.
Two have, however, been lost irrecoverably. Our observed latitude,
yesterday, was 40° 31', and our computed distance from the
Missouri settlements, about 360 miles.

{45} The day following, we saw several small herds of buffalo on our
side of the river. Two of our hunters started out after a huge bull
that had separated himself from his companions, and gave him chase
on fleet horses.

Away went the buffalo, and away went the men, hard as they could
dash; now the hunters gained upon him, and pressed him hard;
again the enormous creature had the advantage, plunging with all
his might, his terrific horns often ploughing up the earth as he
spurned it under him. Sometimes he would double, and rush so near
the horses as almost to gore them with his horns, and in an instant
would be off in a tangent, and throw his pursuers from the track.
At length the poor animal came to bay, and made some unequivocal
demonstrations of combat; raising and tossing his head furiously,
and tearing up the ground with his feet. At this moment a shot was
fired. The victim trembled like an aspen, and fell to his knees, but
recovering himself in an instant, started again as fast as before.
Again the determined hunters dashed after him, but the poor bull
was nearly exhausted, he proceeded but a short distance and stopped
again. The hunters approached, rode slowly by him, and shot two
balls through his body with the most perfect coolness and precision.
During the race,--the whole of which occurred in full view of the
party,--the men seemed wild with the excitement which it occasioned;
and when the animal fell, a shout rent the air, which startled the
antelopes by dozens from the bluffs, and sent the wolves howling
like demons from their lairs.

This is the most common mode of killing the buffalo, and is
practised very generally by the travelling hunters; many are also
destroyed by approaching them on foot, when, if the bushes are
sufficiently dense, or the grass high enough to afford concealment,
the hunter,--by keeping carefully to leeward of his game,--may
sometimes approach so near as almost to touch {46} the animal. If
on a plain, without grass or bushes, it is necessary to be very
circumspect; to approach so slowly as not to excite alarm, and, when
observed by the animal, to imitate dexterously, the clumsy motions
of a young bear, or assume the sneaking, prowling attitude of a
wolf, in order to lull suspicion.

The Indians resort to another stratagem, which is, perhaps, even
more successful. The skin of a calf is properly dressed, with the
head and legs left attached to it. The Indian envelopes himself in
this, and with his short bow and a brace of arrows, ambles off into
the very midst of a herd. When he has selected such an animal as
suits his fancy, he comes close alongside of it, and without noise,
passes an arrow through its heart. One arrow is always sufficient,
and it is generally delivered with such force, that at least half
the shaft appears through the opposite side. The creature totters,
and is about to fall, when the Indian glides around, and draws the
arrow from the wound lest it should be broken. A single Indian is
said to kill a great number of buffaloes in this way, before any
alarm is communicated to the herd.

Towards evening, on rising a hill, we were suddenly greeted by a
sight which seemed to astonish even the oldest amongst us. The whole
plain, as far as the eye could discern, was covered by one enormous
mass of buffalo. Our vision, at the very least computation, would
certainly extend ten miles, and in the whole of this great space,
including about eight miles in width from the bluffs to the river
bank, there was apparently no vista in the incalculable multitude.
It was truly a sight that would have excited even the dullest mind
to enthusiasm. Our party rode up to within a few hundred yards of
the edge of the herd, before any alarm was communicated; then the
bulls,--which are always stationed around as sentinels,--began
pawing the ground, and {47} throwing the earth over their heads;
in a few moments they started in a slow, clumsy canter; but as we
neared them, they quickened their pace to an astonishingly rapid
gallop, and in a few minutes were entirely beyond the reach of our
guns, but were still so near that their enormous horns, and long
shaggy beards, were very distinctly seen. Shortly after we encamped,
our hunters brought in the choice parts of five that they had killed.

For the space of several days past, we have observed an inclination
in five or six of our men to leave our service. Immediately as
we encamp, we see them draw together in some secluded spot, and
engage in close and earnest conversation. This has occurred several
times, and as we are determined, if possible, to keep our horses,
&c., for our own use, we have stationed a sentry near their tent,
whose orders are peremptory to stop them at any hazard in case of
an attempt on their part, to appropriate our horses. The men we are
willing to lose, as they are of very little service, and we can do
without them; but horses here are valuable, and we cannot afford to
part with them without a sufficient compensation.

_22d._--On walking into our tent last night at eleven o'clock,
after the expiration of the first watch, (in which I had served as
supernumerary, to prevent the desertion of the men,) and stooping
to lay my gun in its usual situation near the head of my pallet, I
was startled by seeing a pair of eyes, wild and bright as those of
a tiger, gleaming from a dark corner of the lodge, and evidently
directed upon me. My first impression, was that a wolf had been
lurking around the camp, and had entered the tent in the prospect of
finding meat. My gun was at my shoulder instinctively, my aim was
directed between the eyes, and my finger pressed the trigger. At
that moment a tall Indian sprang before me with a loud _wah_! seized
the gun, and elevated the muzzle above my head; in another instant,
a second Indian was by my side, and I saw his keen knife glitter
as it left the {48} scabbard. I had not time for thought, and was
struggling with all my might with the first savage for the recovery
of my weapon, when Captain W., and the other inmates of the tent
were aroused, and the whole matter was explained, and set at rest in
a moment. The Indians were chiefs of the tribe of Pawnee Loups,[90]
who had come with their young men to shoot buffalo: they had paid
an evening visit to the captain, and as an act of courtesy had been
invited to sleep in the tent. I had not known of their arrival, nor
did I even suspect that Indians were in our neighborhood, so could
not control the alarm which their sudden appearance occasioned me.

  [90] For the Pawnee Loup (Wolf) Indians, consult Bradbury's
  _Travels_, in our volume v, p. 78, note 44.--ED.

As I laid myself down, and drew my blanket around me, Captain W.
touched me lightly with his finger, and pointed significantly to his
own person, which I perceived,--by the fire light at the mouth of
the tent,--to be garnished with his knife and pistols; I observed
also that the muzzle of his rifle laid across his breast, and that
the breech was firmly grasped by one of his legs. I took the hint;
tightened my belt, drew my gun closely to my side, and composed
myself to sleep. But the excitement of the scene through which I
had just passed, effectually banished repose. I frequently directed
my eyes towards the dark corner, and in the midst of the shapeless
mass which occupied it, I could occasionally see the glittering orbs
of our guest shining amidst the surrounding obscurity. At length
fatigue conquered watchfulness, and I sank to sleep, dreaming of
Indians, guns, daggers, and buffalo.

Upon rising the next morning, all had left the tent: the men were
busied in cooking their morning meal; kettles were hanging upon the
rude cranes, great ribs of meat were roasting before the fires,
and loading the air with fragrance, and my dreams and midnight
reveries, and apprehensions of evil, fled upon the wings of the
bright morning, and nought remained but a feeling of surprise that
the untoward events of the night should have disturbed my equanimity.

{49} While these thoughts were passing in my mind, my eye suddenly
encountered the two Indians. They were squatting upon the ground
near one of the fires, and appeared to be surveying, with the
keenness of morning appetite, the fine "_hump ribs_" which were
roasting before them. The moment they perceived me, I received from
them a quick glance of recognition: the taller one,--my opponent
of the previous night,--rose to his feet, walked towards me, and
gave me his hand with great cordiality; then pointed into the tent,
made the motions of raising a gun to his shoulder, taking aim, and
in short repeated the entire pantomime with great fidelity, and no
little humor, laughing the whole time as though he thought it a
capital joke. Poor fellow! it was near proving a dear joke for him,
and I almost trembled as I recollected the eager haste with which I
sought to take the life of a fellow creature. The Indian evidently
felt no ill will towards me, and as a proof of it, proposed an
exchange of knives, to which I willingly acceded. He deposited
mine,--which had my name engraved upon the handle,--in the sheath at
his side, and walked away to his _hump ribs_ with the air of a man
who is conscious of having done a good action. As he left me, one of
our old trappers took occasion to say, that in consequence of this
little act of savage courtesy, the Indian became my firm friend;
and that if I ever met him again, I should be entitled to share his
hospitality, or claim his protection.

While the men were packing the horses, after breakfast, I was again
engaged with my Indian friend. I took his bow and arrows in my hand,
and remarked that the latter were smeared with blood throughout:
upon my expressing surprise at this he told me, by signs, that
they had passed through the body of the buffalo. I assumed a look
of incredulity; the countenance of the savage brightened, and his
peculiar and strange eyes actually flashed with eagerness, as he
pointed to a dead antelope lying upon the ground about forty feet
from us, and which one of {50} the guard had shot near the camp in
the morning. The animal lay upon its side with the breast towards
us: the bow was drawn slightly, without any apparent effort, and the
arrow flew through the body of the antelope, and skimmed to a great
distance over the plain.

These Indians were the finest looking of any I have seen. Their
persons were tall, straight, and finely formed; their noses slightly
aqualine, and the whole countenance expressive of high and daring
intrepidity. The face of the taller one was particularly admirable;
and Gall or Spurzheim, at a single glance at his magnificent head,
would have invested him with all the noblest qualities of the
species.[91] I know not what a physiognomist would have said of
his eyes, but they were certainly the most wonderful eyes I ever
looked into; glittering and scintillating constantly, like the
mirror-glasses in a lamp frame, and rolling and dancing in their
orbits as though possessed of abstract volition.

  [91] Noted German phrenologists. Franz Joseph Gall (1758-1828) was
  founder of the school of phrenology; his chief work was _Anatomie
  et Physiologie du système nerveux_ (1810-20). Kasper Spurzheim
  (1776-1832) was a disciple of Gall's, publishing _Physiognomical
  System of Drs. Gall and Spurzheim_ (1815). He died in Boston.--ED.

The tribe to which these Indians belong, is a division of the great
Pawnee nation. There are four of these divisions or tribes, known
by the names of Grand Pawnees, Pawnee Loups, Pawnee Republicans,
and Pawnee Picts. They are all independent of each other, governed
exclusively by chiefs chosen from among their own people, and
although they have always been on terms of intimacy and friendship,
never intermarry, nor have other intercourse than that of trade,
or a conjunction of their forces to attack the common enemy. In
their dealings with the whites, they are arbitrary and overbearing,
chaffering about the price of a horse, or a beaver skin, with true
huckster-like eagerness and mendacity, and seizing with avidity
every unfair advantage, which circumstances or their own craft may
put in their power.

The buffalo still continue immensely numerous in every direction
around, and our men kill great numbers, so that we are in truth
living upon the fat of the land, and better feeding need {51} no
man wish. The savory buffalo hump has suffered no depreciation
since the "man without a cross" vaunted of its good qualities to
"the stranger;" and in this, as in many other particulars, we have
realized the truth and fidelity of Cooper's admirable descriptions.

_23d._--When we rose this morning, not a single buffalo, of the
many thousands that yesterday strewed the plain, was to be seen.
It seemed like magic. Where could they have gone? I asked myself
this question again and again, but in vain. At length I applied
to Richardson, who stated that they had gone to the bluffs, but
for what reason he could not tell; he, however, had observed their
tracks bearing towards the bluffs, and was certain that they would
be found there. He and Sandsbury (another hunter) were then about
starting on a hunt to supply the camp, and I concluded to accompany
them; Mr. Lee, the missionary, also joined us, and we all rode off
together. The party got under way about the same time, and proceeded
along the bank of the river, while we struck off south to look for
the buffalo. About one hour's brisk trotting carried us to the
bluffs, and we entered amongst large conical hills of yellow clay,
intermixed with strata of limestone, but without the slightest
vegetation of any kind. On the plains which we had left, the grass
was in great luxuriance, but here not a blade of it was to be seen,
and yet, as Richardson had predicted, here were the buffalo. We had
not ridden a mile before we entered upon a plain of sand of great
extent, and observed ahead vast clouds of dust rising and circling
in the air as though a tornado or a whirlwind were sweeping over
the earth. "Ha!" said Richardson, "there they are; now let us take
the wind of them, and you shall see some sport." We accordingly
went around to leeward, and, upon approaching nearer, saw the huge
animals rolling over and over in the sand with astonishing agility
enveloping themselves by the exercise in a perfect atmosphere
of dust; occasionally two of the bulls would {52} spring from
the ground and attack each other with amazing address and fury,
retreating for ten or twelve feet, and then rushing suddenly
forward, and dashing their enormous fronts together with a shock
that seemed annihilating. In these rencontres, one of the combatants
was often thrown back upon his haunches, and tumbled sprawling upon
the ground; in which case, the victor, with true prize-fighting
generosity, refrained from persecuting his fallen adversary,
contenting himself with a hearty resumption of his rolling fit,
and kicking up the dust with more than his former vigor, as if to
celebrate his victory.

This appeared to be a good situation to approach and kill the
buffalo, as, by reason of the plentiful distribution of the
little clay hills, an opportunity would be afforded of successful
concealment; we separated, therefore, each taking his own course.
In a very few minutes I heard the crack of a rifle in the direction
in which Richardson had gone, and immediately after saw the
frightened animals flying from the spot. The sound reverberated
among the hills, and as it died away the herd halted to watch and
listen for its repetition. For myself, I strolled on for nearly an
hour, leading my horse, and peering over every hill, in the hope
of finding a buffalo within range, but not one could I see that
was sufficiently near; and when I attempted the stealthy approach
which I had seen Richardson practise with so much success, I felt
compelled to acknowledge my utter insufficiency. I had determined to
kill a buffalo, and as I had seen it several times done with so much
apparent ease, I considered it a mere moonshine matter, and thought
I could compass it without difficulty; but now I had attempted it,
and was grievously mistaken in my estimate of the required skill. I
had several times heard the guns of the hunters, and felt satisfied
that we should not go to camp without meat, and was on the point
of altering my course to join them, when, as I wound around the
base of a little hill, I saw about twenty buffalo lying quietly on
the ground within {53} thirty yards of me. Now was my time. I took
my picket from my saddle, and fastened my horse to the ground as
quietly as possible, but with hands that almost failed to do their
office, from my excessive eagerness and trembling anxiety. When this
was completed, I crawled around the hill again, almost suspending
my breath from fear of alarming my intended victims, until I came
again in full view of the unsuspecting herd. There were so many
fine animals that I was at a loss which to select; those nearest
me appeared small and poor, and I therefore settled my aim upon a
huge bull on the outside. Just then I was attacked with the "_bull
fever_" so dreadfully, that for several minutes I could not shoot.
At length, however, I became firm and steady, and pulled my trigger
at exactly the right instant. Up sprang the herd like lightning, and
away they scoured, and my bull with them. I was vexed, angry, and
discontented; I concluded that I could never kill a buffalo, and was
about to mount my horse and ride off in despair, when I observed
that one of the animals had stopped in the midst of his career. I
rode towards him, and sure enough, there was my great bull trembling
and swaying from side to side, and the clotted gore hanging like
icicles from his nostrils. In a few minutes after, he fell heavily
upon his side, and I dismounted and surveyed the unwieldy brute, as
he panted and struggled in the death agony.

When the first ebullition of my triumph had subsided, I perceived
that my prize was so excessively lean as to be worth nothing, and
while I was exerting my whole strength in a vain endeavor to raise
the head from the ground for the purpose of removing the tongue,
the two hunters joined me, and laughed heartily at my achievement.
Like all inexperienced hunters, I had been particular to select
the largest bull in the gang, supposing it to be the best, (and it
proved, as usual, the poorest,) while more than a dozen fat cows
were nearer me, either of which I might have killed with as little
trouble.

{54} As I had supposed, my companions had killed several animals,
but they had taken the meat of only one, and we had, therefore, to
be diligent, or the camp might suffer for provisions. It was now
past mid-day; the weather was very warm, and the atmosphere was
charged with minute particles of sand, which produced a dryness and
stiffness of the mouth and tongue, that was exceedingly painful and
distressing. Water was now the desideratum, but where was it to be
found? The arid country in which we then were, produced none, and
the Platte was twelve or fourteen miles from us, and no buffalo in
that direction, so that we could not afford time for so trifling
a matter. I found that Mr. Lee was suffering as much as myself,
although he had not spoken of it, and I perceived that Richardson
was masticating a leaden bullet, to excite the salivary glands.
Soon afterwards, a bull was killed, and we all assembled around the
carcass to assist in the manipulations. The animal was first raised
from his side where he had lain, and supported upon his knees,
with his hoofs turned under him; a longitudinal incision was then
made from the nape, or anterior base of the hump, and continued
backward to the loins, and a large portion of the skin from each
side removed; these pieces of skin were placed upon the ground,
with the under surface uppermost, and the _fleeces_, or masses of
meat, taken from along the back, were laid upon them. These fleeces,
from a large animal, will weigh, perhaps, a hundred pounds each,
and comprise the whole of the hump on each side of the vertical
processes, (commonly called the _hump ribs_,) which are attached to
the vertebra. The fleeces are considered the choice parts of the
buffalo, and here, where the game is so abundant, nothing else is
taken, if we except the tongue, and an occasional marrow bone.

This, it must be confessed, appears like a useless and unwarrantable
waste of the goods of Providence; but when are men economical,
unless compelled to be so by necessity? Here are {55} more than a
thousand pounds of delicious and savory flesh, which would delight
the eyes and gladden the heart of any epicure in Christendom, left
neglected where it fell, to feed the ravenous maw of the wild
prairie wolf, and minister to the excesses of the unclean birds of
the wilderness. But I have seen worse waste and havoc than this, and
I feel my indignation rise at the recollection. I have seen dozens
of buffalo slaughtered merely for the tongues, or for practice
with the rifle; and I have also lived to see the very perpetrators
of these deeds, lean and lank with famine, when the meanest and
most worthless parts of the poor animals they had so inhumanly
slaughtered, would have been received and eaten with humble
thankfulness.

But to return to ourselves. We were all suffering from excessive
thirst, and so intolerable had it at length become, that Mr. Lee
and myself proposed a gallop over to the Platte river, in order to
appease it; but Richardson advised us not to go, as he had just
thought of a means of relieving us, which he immediately proceeded
to put in practice. He tumbled our mangled buffalo over upon his
side, and with his knife opened the body, so as to expose to view
the great stomach, and still crawling and twisting entrails. The
good missionary and myself stood gaping with astonishment, and no
little loathing, as we saw our hunter plunge his knife into the
distended paunch, from which gushed the green and gelatinous juices,
and then insinuate his tin pan into the opening, and by depressing
its edge, strain off the water which was mingled with its contents.

Richardson always valued himself upon his politeness, and the
cup was therefore first offered to Mr. Lee and myself, but it
is almost needless to say that we declined the proffer, and our
features probably expressed the strong disgust which we felt, for
our companion laughed heartily before he applied the cup to his own
mouth. He then drank it to the dregs, smacking his lips, and drawing
a long breath after it, with the satisfaction of a man {56} taking
his wine after dinner. Sansbury, the other hunter, was not slow in
following the example set before him, and we, the audience, turned
our backs upon the actors.

Before we left the spot, however, Richardson induced me to taste
the blood which was still fluid in the heart, and immediately as it
touched my lips, my burning thirst, aggravated by hunger, (for I had
eaten nothing that day,) got the better of my abhorrence; I plunged
my head into the reeking ventricles, and drank until forced to stop
for breath. I felt somewhat ashamed of assimilating myself so nearly
to the brutes, and turned my ensanguined countenance towards the
missionary who stood by, but I saw no approval there: the good man
was evidently attempting to control his risibility, and so I smiled
to put him in countenance; the roar could no longer be restrained,
and the missionary laughed until the tears rolled down his cheeks. I
did not think, until afterwards, of the horrible ghastliness which
must have characterized my smile at that particular moment.

When we arrived at the camp in the evening, and I enjoyed the luxury
of a hearty draft of water, the effect upon my stomach was that of
a powerful emetic: the blood was violently ejected without nausea,
and I felt heartily glad to be rid of the disgusting encumbrance. I
never drank blood from that day.



{57} CHAPTER IV

     Change in the face of the country--Unpleasant
     visitation--its effects--North fork of the Platte--A
     day's journey over the hills--Wormwood bushes, and poor
     pasture--Marmots--Rattlesnake and gopher--Naturalist's success
     and sacrifices--A sand storm--Wild horses--Killing of a doe
     antelope--Bluffs of the Platte--The chimney--"Zip Koon,"
     the young antelope--Birds--Feelings and cogitations of a
     naturalist--Arrival at Laramie's fork--Departure of two "free
     trappers" on a summer "hunt"--Black Hills--Rough travelling--Red
     butes--Sweet-water river, and Rock Independence--Avocets--Wind
     river mountains--Rocky Mountain sheep--Adventure of one of the
     men with a grizzly bear--Rattlesnakes--Toilsome march, and
     arrival at Sandy river--Suffering of the horses--Anticipated
     delights of the rendezvous.


On the morning of the 24th of May we forded the Platte river, or
rather its south fork, along which we had been travelling during
the previous week.[92] On the northern side, we found the country
totally different in its aspect. Instead of the extensive and
apparently interminable green plains, the monotony of which had
become so wearisome to the eye, here was a great sandy waste,
without a single green thing to vary and enliven the dreary scene.
It was a change, however, and we were therefore enjoying it, and
remarking to each other how particularly agreeable it was, when
we were suddenly assailed by vast swarms of most ferocious little
black gnats; the whole atmosphere seemed crowded with them, and
they dashed into our faces, assaulted our eyes, ears, nostrils, and
mouths, as though they were determined to bar our passage through
their territory. These little creatures were so exceedingly minute
that, singly, they were scarcely visible; and yet their sting
caused such excessive pain, that for {58} the rest of the day our
men and horses were rendered almost frantic, the former bitterly
imprecating, and the latter stamping, and kicking, and rolling in
the sand, in tremendous, yet vain, efforts to rid themselves of
their pertinacious little foes. It was rather amusing to see the
whole company with their handkerchiefs, shirts, and coats, thrown
over their heads, stemming the animated torrent, and to hear the
greenhorns cursing their tormenters, the country, and themselves,
for their foolhardiness in venturing on the journey. When we
encamped in the evening, we built fires at the mouths of the tents,
the smoke from which kept our enemies at a distance, and we passed a
night of tolerable comfort, after a day of most peculiar misery.

  [92] There were two fords to the South Platte, both of which led
  toward the North Platte at Ash Creek. Wyeth's party took the lower
  ford, eight miles above the forks.--ED.

The next morning I observed that the faces of all the men were more
or less swollen, some of them very severely, and poor Captain W. was
totally blind for two days afterwards.

_25th._--We made a noon camp to-day on the north branch or fork of
the river, and in the afternoon travelled along the bank of the
stream.[93] In about an hour's march, we came to rocks, precipices,
and cedar trees, and although we anticipated some difficulty and
toil in the passage of the heights, we felt glad to exchange them
for the vast and wearisome prairies we had left behind. Soon after
we commenced the ascent, we struck into an Indian path very much
worn, occasionally mounting over rugged masses of rock, and leaping
wide fissures in the soil, and sometimes picking our way over the
jutting crags, directly above the river. On the top of one of the
stunted and broad spreading cedars, a bald eagle had built its
enormous nest; and as we descended the mountain, we saw the callow
young lying within it, while the anxious parents hovered over our
heads, screaming their alarm.

  [93] See note 32 (Wyeth), _ante_, p. 52.--ED.

In the evening we arrived upon the plain again; it was thickly
covered with ragged and gnarled bushes of a species of wormwood,
(_Artemesia_,) which perfumed the air, and at first was {59} rather
agreeable. The soil was poor and sandy, and the straggling blades of
grass which found their way to the surface were brown and withered.
Here was a poor prospect for our horses; a sad contrast indeed to
the rich and luxuriant prairies we had left. On the edges of the
little streams, however, we found some tolerable pasture, and we
frequently stopped during the day to bait our poor animals in these
pleasant places.

We observed here several species of small marmots, (_Arctomys_,)
which burrowed in the sand, and were constantly skipping about the
ground in front of our party. The short rattlesnake of the prairies
was also abundant, and no doubt derived its chief subsistence from
foraging among its playful little neighbors. Shortly before we
halted this evening, being a considerable distance in advance of the
caravan, I observed a dead gopher, (_Diplostoma_,)--a small animal
about the size of a rat, with large external cheek pouches,--lying
upon the ground; and near it a full grown rattlesnake, also dead.
The gopher was yet warm and pliant, and had evidently been killed
but a few minutes previously; the snake also gave evidence of very
recent death, by a muscular twitching of the tail, which occurs
in most serpents, soon after life is extinct. It was a matter of
interest to me to ascertain the mode by which these animals were
deprived of life. I therefore dismounted from my horse, and examined
them carefully, but could perceive nothing to furnish even a clue.
Neither of them had any external or perceptible wound. The snake had
doubtless killed the quadruped, but what had killed the snake? There
being no wound upon its body was sufficient proof that the gopher
had not used his teeth, and in no other way could he cause death.

I was unable to solve the problem to my satisfaction, so I pocketed
the animal to prepare its skin, and rode on to the camp.

The birds thus far have been very abundant. There is a considerable
{60} variety, and many of them have not before been seen by
naturalists. As to the plants, there seems to be no end to them, and
Mr. N. is finding dozens of new species daily. In the other branches
of science, our success has not been so great, partly on account of
the rapidity and steadiness with which we travel, but chiefly from
the difficulty, and almost impossibility, of carrying the subjects.
Already we have cast away all our useless and superfluous clothing,
and have been content to mortify our natural pride, to make room for
our specimens. Such things as spare waistcoats, shaving boxes, soap,
and stockings, have been ejected from our trunks, and we are content
to dress, as we live, in a style of primitive simplicity. In fact,
the whole appearance of our party is sufficiently primitive; many of
the men are dressed entirely in deerskins, without a single article
of civilized manufacture about them; the old trappers and hunters
wear their hair flowing on their shoulders, and their large grizzled
beards would scarcely disgrace a Bedouin of the desert.

The next morning the whole camp was suddenly aroused by the falling
of all the tents. A tremendous blast swept as from a funnel over the
sandy plain, and in an instant precipitated our frail habitations
like webs of gossamer. The men crawled out from under the ruins,
rubbing their eyes, and, as usual, muttering imprecations against
the country and all that therein was; it was unusually early for a
start, but we did not choose to pitch the tents again, and to sleep
without them here was next to impossible; so we took our breakfast
in the open air, devouring our well sanded provisions as quickly as
possible, and immediately took to the road.

During the whole day a most terrific gale was blowing directly in
our faces, clouds of sand were driving and hurtling by us, often
with such violence as nearly to stop our progress; and when we
halted in the evening, we could scarcely recognise each other's
faces beneath their odious mask of dust and dirt.

{61} There have been no buffalo upon the plain to-day, all the
game that we have seen, being a few elk and antelopes; but these
of course we did not attempt to kill, as our whole and undivided
attention was required to assist our progress.

_28th._--We fell in with a new species of game to-day;--a large
band of wild horses. They were very shy, scarcely permitting us to
approach within rifle distance, and yet they kept within sight of
us for some hours. Several of us gave them chase, in the hope of
at least being able to approach sufficiently near to examine them
closely, but we might as well have pursued the wind; they scoured
away from us with astonishing velocity, their long manes and tails
standing out almost horizontally, as they sprang along before us.
Occasionally they would pause in their career, turn and look at us
as we approached them, and then, with a neigh that rang loud and
high above the clattering of the hoofs, dart their light heels into
the air, and fly from us as before. We soon abandoned this wild
chase, and contented ourselves with admiring their sleek beauty at a
distance.

In the afternoon, I committed an act of cruelty and wantonness,
which distressed and troubled me beyond measure, and which I have
ever since recollected with sorrow and compunction. A beautiful doe
antelope came running and bleating after us, as though she wished to
overtake the party: she continued following us for nearly an hour,
at times approaching within thirty or forty yards, and standing to
gaze at us as we moved slowly on our way. I several times raised
my gun to fire at her, but my better nature as often gained the
ascendency, and I at last rode into the midst of the party to escape
the temptation. Still the doe followed us, and I finally fell into
the rear, but without intending it, and again looked at her as she
trotted behind us. At that moment, my evil genius and love of sport
triumphed; I slid down from my horse, aimed at the poor antelope,
and shot a ball through her side. Under other circumstances, {62}
there would have been no cruelty in this; but here, where better
meat was so abundant, and the camp was so plentifully supplied,
it was unfeeling, heartless murder. It was under the influence of
this too late impression, that I approached my poor victim. She was
writhing in agony upon the ground, and exerting herself in vain
efforts to draw her mangled body farther from her destroyer; and
as I stood over her, and saw her cast her large, soft, black eyes
upon me with an expression of the most touching sadness, while the
great tears rolled over her face, I felt myself the meanest and
most abhorrent thing in creation. But now a finishing blow would be
mercy to her, and I threw my arm around her neck, averted my face,
and drove my long knife through her bosom to the heart. I did not
trust myself to look upon her afterwards, but mounted my horse, and
galloped off to the party, with feelings such as I hope never to
experience again. For several days the poor antelope haunted me, and
I shall never forget its last look of pain and upbraiding.

The bluffs on the southern shore of the Platte, are, at this point,
exceedingly rugged, and often quite picturesque; the formation
appears to be simple clay, intermixed, occasionally, with a stratum
of limestone, and one part of the bluff bears a striking and almost
startling resemblance to a dilapidated feudal castle. There is also
a kind of obelisk, standing at a considerable distance from the
bluffs, on a wide plain, towering to the height of about two hundred
feet, and tapering to a small point at the top. This pillar is known
to the hunters and trappers who traverse these regions, by the name
of the "_chimney_." Here we diverged from the usual course, leaving
the bank of the river, and entered a large and deep ravine between
the enormous bluffs.[94]

  [94] These are called "Scott's Bluffs;" so named from an unfortunate
  trader, who perished here from disease and hunger, many years ago.
  He was deserted by his companions; and the year following, his
  crumbling bones were found in this spot.--TOWNSEND.

_Comment by Ed._ See this story in detail in Irving, _Rocky
Mountains_, i, pp. 45, 46.

{63} The road was very uneven and difficult, winding from amongst
innumerable mounds six to eight feet in height, the space between
them frequently so narrow as scarcely to admit our horses, and some
of the men rode for upwards of a mile kneeling upon their saddles.
These mounds were of hard yellow clay, without a particle of rock of
any kind, and along their bases, and in the narrow passages, flowers
of every hue were growing. It was a most enchanting sight; even
the men noticed it, and more than one of our matter-of-fact people
exclaimed, _beautiful, beautiful_! Mr. N. was here in his glory.
He rode on ahead of the company, and cleared the passages with a
trembling and eager hand, looking anxiously back at the approaching
party, as though he feared it would come ere he had finished, and
tread his lovely prizes under foot.

The distance through the ravine is about three miles. We then
crossed several beautiful grassy knolls, and descending to the
plain, struck the Platte again, and travelled along its bank. Here
one of our men caught a young antelope, which he brought to the
camp upon his saddle. It was a beautiful and most delicate little
creature, and in a few days became so tame as to remain with the
camp without being tied, and to drink, from a tin cup, the milk
which our good missionaries spared from their own scanty meals. The
men christened it "_Zip Coon_," and it soon became familiar with its
name, running to them when called, and exhibiting many evidences of
affection and attachment. It became a great favorite with every
one. A little pannier of willows was made for it, which was packed
on the back of a mule, and when the camp moved in the mornings,
little _Zip_ ran to his station beside his long-eared hack, bleating
with impatience until some one came to assist him in mounting.

On the afternoon of the 31st, we came to green trees and bushes
again, and the sight of them was more cheering than can {64} be
conceived, except by persons who have travelled for weeks without
beholding a green thing, save the grass under their feet. We
encamped in the evening in a beautiful grove of cottonwood trees,
along the edge of which ran the Platte, dotted as usual with
numerous islands.

In the morning, Mr. N. and myself were up before the dawn, strolling
through the umbrageous forest, inhaling the fresh, bracing air, and
making the echoes ring with the report of our gun, as the lovely
tenants of the grove flew by dozens before us. I think I never
before saw so great a variety of birds within the same space. All
were beautiful, and many of them quite new to me; and after we had
spent an hour amongst them, and my game bag was teeming with its
precious freight, I was still loath to leave the place, lest I
should not have procured specimens of the whole.

None but a naturalist can appreciate a naturalist's feelings--his
delight amounting to ecstacy--when a specimen such as he has never
before seen, meets his eye, and the sorrow and grief which he feels
when he is compelled to tear himself from a spot abounding with all
that he has anxiously and unremittingly sought for.

This was peculiarly my case upon this occasion. We had been long
travelling over a sterile and barren tract, where the lovely
denizens of the forest could not exist, and I had been daily
scanning the great extent of the desert, for some little _oasis_
such as I had now found; here was my wish at length gratified, and
yet the caravan would not halt for me; I must turn my back upon the
_El Dorado_ of my fond anticipations, and hurry forward over the
dreary wilderness which lay beyond.

What valuable and highly interesting accessions to science might
not be made by a party, composed exclusively of naturalists, on
a journey through this rich and unexplored region! The botanist,
the geologist, the mamalogist, the ornithologist, and {65} the
entomologist, would find a rich and almost inexhaustible field
for the prosecution of their inquiries, and the result of such an
expedition would be to add most materially to our knowledge of the
wealth and resources of our country, to furnish us with new and
important facts relative to its structure, organization, and natural
productions, and to complete the fine native collections in our
already extensive museums.

On the 1st of June, we arrived at Laramie's fork of the Platte, and
crossed it without much difficulty.[95]

  [95] Wyeth relates in his journal that he found thirteen of
  Sublette's men building a fort at this place. Such was the origin
  of the famous Fort Laramie, first known as Fort William, then
  Fort John, and in 1846, removed a mile farther up the stream, and
  re-christened Fort Laramie. It became a government post in 1849.--ED.

Here two of our "free trappers" left us for a summer "hunt" in the
rugged Black Hills. These men joined our party at Independence, and
have been travelling to this point with us for the benefit of our
escort. Trading companies usually encourage these free trappers
to join them, both for the strength which they add to the band,
and that they may have the benefit of their generally good hunting
qualities. Thus are both parties accommodated, and no obligation is
felt on either side.

I confess I felt somewhat sad when I reflected upon the possible
fate of the two adventurous men who had left us in the midst of a
savage wilderness, to depend entirely upon their unassisted strength
and hardihood, to procure the means of subsistence and repel the
aggression of the Indian.

Their expedition will be fraught with stirring scenes, with peril
and with strange adventure; but they think not of this, and they
care not for it. They are only two of the many scores who annually
subject themselves to the same difficulties and dangers; they see
their friends return unscathed, and laden with rich and valuable
furs, and if one or two should have perished by Indian rapacity, or
fallen victims to their own daring and fool-hardy spirit, they mourn
the loss of their brethren who have not returned, and are only the
more anxious to pursue the same track in order to avenge them.

On the 2d, we struck a range of high and stony mountains, {66}
called the Black Hills. The general aspect here, was dreary and
forbidding; the soil was intersected by deep and craggy fissures;
rock jutted over rock, and precipice frowned over precipice in
frightful, and apparently endless, succession. Soon after we
commenced the ascent, we experienced a change in the temperature
of the air; and towards mid-day, when we had arrived near the
summit, our large blanket _capeaus_,--which in the morning had been
discarded as uncomfortable,--were drawn tightly around us, and every
man was shivering in his saddle as though he had an ague fit. The
soil here is of a deep reddish or ferruginous hue, intermixed with
green sand; and on the heights, pebbles of chalcedony and agate are
abundant.

We crossed, in the afternoon, the last and steepest spur of this
chain, winding around rough and stony precipices, and along the
extreme verges of tremendous ravines, so dangerous looking that we
were compelled to dismount and lead our horses.

On descending to the plain, we saw again the north fork of the
Platte, and were glad of an opportunity of encamping. Our march
to-day has been an unusually wearisome one, and many of our loose
horses are bruised and lame.

_7th._--The country has now become more level, but the prairie is
barren and inhospitable looking to the last degree. The twisted,
aromatic wormwood covers and extracts the strength from the burnt
and arid soil. The grass is dry and brown, and our horses are
suffering extremely for want of food. Occasionally, however, a spot
of lovely green appears, and here we allow our poor jaded friends
to halt, and roam without their riders, and their satisfaction and
pleasure is expressed by many a joyous neigh, and many a heart-felt
roll upon the verdant sward.

In the afternoon, we arrived at the "Red Butes," two or three
brown-red cliffs, about two thousand feet in height.[96] This is
a remarkable point in the mountain route. One of these cliffs
terminates a long, lofty, wooded ridge, which has bounded our {67}
southern view for the past two days. The summits of the cliffs are
covered with patches of snow, and the contrast of the dazzling white
and brick-red produces a very pretty effect.

  [96] The trail continued along the North Platte until it reached Red
  Buttes, described by Townsend. They form the western end of what is
  known as Caspar range, in Natrona County, Wyoming.--ED.

The next day, we left the Platte river, and crossed a wide, sandy
desert, dry and desolate; and on the 9th, encamped at noon on
the banks of the Sweet-water. Here we found a large rounded mass
of granite, about fifty feet high, called Rock Independence.[97]
Like the Red Butes, this rock is also a rather remarkable point in
the route. On its smooth, perpendicular sides, we see carved the
names of most of the mountain _bourgeois_,[98] with the dates of
their arrival. We observed those of the two Sublette's, Captains
Bonneville, Serre, Fontinelle, &c.,[99] and after leaving our own,
and taking a hearty, but hasty lunch in the shade of a rock, and a
draught from the pure and limpid stream at its base, we pursued our
journey.

  [97] For Sweetwater River and Independence Rock, see notes 33, 34
  (Wyeth), _ante_, p. 53.--ED.

  [98] In fur-trade parlance the _bourgeois_ was the leader or
  commander of an expedition or a trading post. See J. Long's
  _Voyages_ in our volume ii, p. 75, note 35.--ED.

  [99] For Captain Bonneville, see Gregg's _Commerce of the Prairies_,
  in our volume xx, p. 267, note 167.

  Michael Lamie Cerré belonged to a French family of note in the
  annals of the West. His grandfather, Gabriel, was an early merchant
  at Kaskaskia, and acquired a fortune in the fur-trade. Later he
  removed to St. Louis, where one of his daughters married Auguste
  Chouteau. Pascal Cerré, father of Michael, was also a fur-trader
  of note. The son had been employed in the Santa Fé trade, and was
  persuaded to act as Bonneville's business agent in his expeditions
  of 1832-35.

  For Lucien Fontenelle, see our volume xiv, p. 275, note 196.--ED.

The river is here very narrow, often only twelve or fifteen feet
wide, shallow, and winding so much, that during our march, to-day,
we crossed it several times, in order to pursue a straight course.
The banks of the stream are clothed with the most luxuriant pasture,
and our invaluable dumb friends appear perfectly happy.

We saw here great numbers of a beautiful brown and white avocet,
(the _Recurvirostra americana_ of ornithologists.) These fine birds
were so tame as to allow a very near approach, running slowly before
our party, and scarcely taking wing at the report of a gun. They
frequent the marshy plains in the neighborhood of the river, and
breed here.

On the 10th, about ninety miles to the west, we had a striking view
of the Wind-river mountains. They are almost wholly of a dazzling
whiteness, being covered thickly with snow, and the lofty peaks seem
to blend themselves with the dark clouds which hang over them.[100]
This chain gives rise to the sources of the Missouri, the Colorado
of the west, and Lewis' river of the {68} Columbia, and is the
highest land on the continent of North America.

  [100] The Wind River Mountains, in Fremont County, Wyoming, trend
  nearly north from South Pass to the Yellowstone. They are covered
  with snow during all the year, and were credited by the early
  explorers with being the highest chain of the Rockies. In 1843
  Frémont ascended the peak named for him, which has an altitude of
  13,790 feet.--ED.

We saw, to-day, a small flock of the hairy sheep of the Rocky
Mountains, the big horn of the hunters, (_Ovis montana_.) We
exerted ourselves in vain to shoot them. They darted from us, and
hid themselves amongst the inaccessible cliffs, so that none but a
chamois hunter might pretend to reach them. Richardson says that he
has frequently killed them, but he admits that it is dangerous and
wearisome sport; and when good beef is to be found upon the plains,
men are not anxious to risk their necks for a meal of mutton.

In the afternoon, one of our men had a somewhat perilous adventure
with a grizzly bear. He saw the animal crouching his huge frame in
some willows which skirted the river, and approaching on horseback
to within twenty yards, fired upon him. The bear was only slightly
wounded by the shot, and with a fierce growl of angry malignity,
rushed from his cover, and gave chase. The horse happened to be a
slow one, and for the distance of half a mile, the race was hard
contested; the bear frequently approaching so near the terrified
animal as to snap at his heels, while the equally terrified
rider,--who had lost his hat at the start,--used whip and spur with
the most frantic diligence, frequently looking behind, from an
influence which he could not resist, at his rugged and determined
foe, and shrieking in an agony of fear, "shoot him, shoot him?"
The man, who was one of the greenhorns, happened to be about a
mile behind the main body, either from the indolence of his horse,
or his own carelessness; but as he approached the party in his
desperate flight, and his lugubrious cries reached the ears of the
men in front, about a dozen of them rode to his assistance, and
soon succeeded in diverting the attention of his pertinacious foe.
After he had received the contents of all the guns, he fell, and
was soon dispatched. The man rode in among his fellows, pale and
{69} haggard from overwrought feelings, and was probably effectually
cured of a propensity for meddling with grizzly bears.

A small striped rattlesnake is abundant on these plains:--it is
a different species from our common one at home, but is equally
malignant and venomous. The horses are often startled by them, and
dart aside with intuitive fear when their note of warning is sounded
in the path.

_12th._--The plains of the Sweet-water at this point,--latitude 43°
6', longitude 110° 30',--are covered with little salt pools,
the edges of which are encrusted with alkaline efflorescences,
looking like borders of snow. The rocks in the vicinity are a loose,
fine-grained sandstone, the strata nearly horizontal, and no organic
remains have been discovered. We have still a view of the lofty
Wind-river mountains on our right hand, and they have for some days
served as a guide to determine our course. On the plain, we passed
several huge rhomboidal masses of rock, standing alone, and looking,
at a little distance, like houses with chimneys. The freaks of
nature, as they are called, have often astonished us since we have
been journeying in the wilderness. We have seen, modeled without
art, representations of almost all the most stupendous works of man;
and how do the loftiest and most perfect creations of his wisdom and
ingenuity sink into insignificance by the comparison. Noble castles,
with turrets, embrazures, and loop holes, with the drawbridge in
front, and the moat surrounding it: behind, the humble cottages of
the subservient peasantry, and all the varied concomitants of such
a scene, are so strikingly evident to the view, that it requires
but little stretch of fancy to imagine that a race of antediluvian
giants may here have swayed their iron sceptre, and left behind the
crumbling palace and the tower, to tell of their departed glory.

On the 14th, we left the Sweet-water, and proceeded in a
south-westerly direction to Sandy river, a branch of the Colorado of
the west.[101] We arrived here at about 9 o'clock in the evening,
{70} after a hard and most toilsome march for both man and beast.
We found no water on the route, and not a single blade of grass
for our horses. Many of the poor animals stopped before night,
and resolutely refused to proceed; and others with the remarkable
sagacity, peculiar to them, left the track in defiance of those who
drove and guided them, sought and found water, and spent the night
in its vicinity. The band of missionaries, with their horses and
horned cattle, halted by the way, and only about half the men of
the party accompanied us to our encampment on Sandy. We were thus
scattered along the route for several miles; and if a predatory band
of Indians had then found us, we should have fallen an easy prey.

  [101] Sandy River is a northern affluent of the Green, rising just
  beyond South Pass and flowing southwest into the main stream,
  through Fremont and Sweetwater counties, Wyoming. The Little Sandy
  was the first stream beyond the divide, but eight miles from the
  pass. The trail followed the Big Sandy almost its entire length.--ED.

The next morning by about 10 o'clock all our men and horses had
joined us, and, in spite of the fatigues of the previous day, we
were all tolerably refreshed, and in good spirits. Towards noon we
got under way, and proceeded seven or eight miles down the river
to a spot where we found a little poor pasture for our horses.
Here we remained until the next morning, to recruit. I found here
a beautiful new species of mocking bird,[102] which I shot and
prepared. Birds are, however, generally scarce, and there is here
very little of interest in any department of natural history. We
are also beginning to suffer somewhat for food: buffalo are rarely
seen, the antelopes are unusually shy, and the life of our little
favorite, "Zip," has been several times menaced. I believe,
however, that his keeper, from sheer fondness, would witness much
greater suffering in the camp, ere he would consent to the sacrifice
of his playful little friend.

  [102] This is the mountain mocking bird, (_Orpheus montanus_),
  described in the Appendix [not included in our reprint].--TOWNSEND.

_16th._--We observed a hoar frost and some thin ice, this morning
at sunrise; but at mid-day, the thermometer stood at 82°. We halted
at noon, after making about fifteen miles, and dined. Saw large
herds of buffalo on the plains of Sandy river, {71} grazing in
every direction on the short and dry grass. Domestic cattle would
certainly starve here, and yet the bison exists, and even becomes
fat; a striking instance of the wonderful adaptation of Providence.

_17th._--We had yesterday a cold rain, the first which has fallen in
our track for several weeks. Our vicinity to the high mountains of
Wind river will perhaps account for it. To-day at noon, the mercury
stood at 92° in the shade, but there being a strong breeze, we did
not suffer from heat.

Our course was still down the Sandy river, and we are now looking
forward with no little pleasure to a rest of two or more weeks at
the mountain rendezvous on the Colorado. Here we expect to meet all
the mountain companies who left the States last spring, and also the
trappers who come in from various parts, with the furs collected
by them during the previous year. All will be mirth and jollity,
no doubt, but the grand desideratum with some of us, is to allow
our horses to rest their tired limbs and exhausted strength on the
rich and verdant plains of the Siskadee. At our camp this evening,
our poor horses were compelled to fast as heretofore, there being
absolutely nothing for them to eat. Some of the famished animals
attempted to allay their insatiable cravings, by cropping the dry
and bitter tops of the wormwood with which the plain is strewed.

We look forward to brighter days for them ere long; soon shall they
sport in the green pastures, and rest and plenty shall compensate
for their toils and privations.



{72} CHAPTER V

     Arrival at the Colorado--The author in difficulty--Loss of a
     journal, and advice to travelling tyros--The rendezvous--Motley
     groups infesting it--Rum drinking, swearing, and other
     accomplishments in vogue--Description of the camp--Trout and
     grayling--Abundance of game--Cock of the plains--Departure from
     the rendezvous--An accession to the band--A renegado Blackfoot
     chief--Captain Stewart and Mr. Ashworth--Muddy creek--More
     carousing--Abundance of trout--Bear river--A hard day's
     march--Volcanic country--White clay pits and "Beer spring"--Rare
     birds and common birds--Mr. Thomas McKay--Rough and arid
     country--Meeting with Captain Bonneville's party--Captains
     Stewart and Wyeth's visit to the lodge of the "bald
     chief"--Blackfoot river--Adventure with a grizzly bear--Death of
     "Zip Koon"--Young grizzly bears and buffalo calves--A Blackfoot
     Indian--Dangerous experiment of McKay--the three "Tetons"--Large
     trout--Departure of our Indian companions--Shoshoné river--Site
     of "Fort Hall"--Preparations for a buffalo hunt.


_June 19th._--We arrived to-day on the Green river, Siskadee[103] or
Colorado of the west,--a beautiful, clear, deep, and rapid stream,
which receives the waters of Sandy,--and encamped upon its eastern
bank. After making a hasty meal, as it was yet early in the day, I
sallied forth with my gun, and roamed about the neighborhood for
several hours in quest of birds. On returning, towards evening, I
found that the whole company had left the spot, the place being
occupied only by a few hungry wolves, ravens, and magpies, the
invariable gleaners of a forsaken camp.

  [103] For this river see note 38 (Wyeth), _ante_, p. 60. The term
  "Siskadee" signified Prairie Hen River.--ED.

I could not at first understand the meaning of all I saw. I thought
the desertion strange, and was preparing to make the best of it,
when a quick and joyful neigh sounded in the bushes near me, and I
recognized the voice of my favorite horse. I found him carefully
tied, with the saddle, &c., lying near him. I had not the least idea
where the company had gone, but I knew that on the rich, alluvial
banks of the river, the trail of the horses would be distinct
enough, and I determined to place my dependence, in a great measure,
upon the sagacity of my excellent dumb friend, satisfied that he
would take me the right course. I accordingly mounted, and off we
went at a speed which I found some difficulty in restraining. About
half an hour's hard riding brought us to the edge of a large branch
of the stream, and I observed that the horses had here entered. I
noticed other tracks lower down, but supposed them to have been
made by the wanderings of the loose animals. Here then seemed the
proper fording place, and with some little hesitation, I allowed my
nag to enter the water; we had proceeded but a few yards, however,
when down he went off a steep bank, far beyond his depth. This was
somewhat disconcerting; but there was but one thing to be done, so
I turned my horse's head against the swift current, and we went
snorting and blowing for the opposite shore. We arrived at length,
though in a sadly wet and damaged state, and in a few minutes after,
came in view of the new camp.

Captain W. explained to me that he had heard of good pasture here,
and had concluded to move immediately, on account of the horses; he
informed me, also, that he had crossed the stream about fifty yards
below the point where I had entered, and had found an excellent
ford. I did not regret my adventure, however, and was congratulating
myself upon my good fortune in arriving so seasonably, when, upon
looking to my saddle, I discovered that my coat was missing. I had
felt uncomfortably warm when I mounted, and had removed the coat and
attached it carelessly to the saddle; the rapidity of the current
had disengaged it, and it was lost forever. The coat itself was
not of much consequence after the hard service it had seen, but it
contained the {74} second volume of my journal, a pocket compass,
and other articles of essential value to me. I would gladly have
relinquished every thing the garment held, if I could have recovered
the book; and although I returned to the river, and searched
assiduously until night, and offered large rewards to the men, it
could not be found.

The journal commenced with our arrival at the Black Hills, and
contained some observations upon the natural productions of the
country, which to me, at least, were of some importance; as well as
descriptions of several new species of birds, and notes regarding
their habits, &c., which cannot be replaced.

I would advise all tourists, who journey by land, never to carry
their itineraries upon their persons; or if they do, let them
be attached by a cord to the neck, and worn under the clothing.
A convenient and safe plan would probably be, to have the book
deposited in a close pocket of leather, made on the inner side of
the saddle-wing; it would thus be always at hand, and if a deep
stream were to be passed the trouble of drying the leaves would not
be a very serious matter.

In consequence of remaining several hours in wet clothes, after
being heated by exercise, I rose the next morning with so much
pain, and stiffness of the joints, that I could scarcely move.
But notwithstanding this, I was compelled to mount my horse with
the others, and to ride steadily and rapidly for eight hours. I
suffered intensely during this ride; every step of my horse seemed
to increase it, and induced constant sickness and retching.

When we halted, I was so completely exhausted, as to require
assistance in dismounting, and shortly after, sank into a state of
insensibility from which I did not recover for several hours. Then
a violent fever commenced, alternating for two whole days, with
sickness and pain. I think I never was more unwell in my {75} life;
and if I had been at home, lying on a feather bed instead of the
cold ground, I should probably have fancied myself an invalid for
weeks.[104]

  [104] I am indebted to the kindness of my companion and friend,
  Professor Nuttall, for supplying, in a great measure, the deficiency
  occasioned by the loss of my journal.--TOWNSEND.

_22d._--We are now lying at the rendezvous. W. Sublette, Captains
Serre, Fitzpatrick, and other leaders, with their companies, are
encamped about a mile from us, on the same plain, and our own
camp is crowded with a heterogeneous assemblage of visitors.[105]
The principal of these are Indians, of the Nez Percé, Banneck and
Shoshoné tribes, who come with the furs and peltries which they
have been collecting at the risk of their lives during the past
winter and spring, to trade for ammunition, trinkets, and "fire
water."[106] There is, in addition to these, a great variety of
personages amongst us; most of them calling themselves white men,
French-Canadians, half-breeds, &c., their color nearly as dark,
and their manners wholly as wild, as the Indians with whom they
constantly associate. These people, with their obstreperous mirth,
their whooping, and howling, and quarrelling, added to the mounted
Indians, who are constantly dashing into and through our camp,
yelling like fiends, the barking and baying of savage wolf-dogs,
and the incessant cracking of rifles and carbines, render our camp
a perfect bedlam. A more unpleasant situation for an invalid could
scarcely be conceived. I am confined closely to the tent with
illness, and am compelled all day to listen to the hiccoughing
jargon of drunken traders, the _sacré_ and _foutre_ of Frenchmen
run wild, and the swearing and screaming of our own men, who are
scarcely less savage than the rest, being heated by the detestable
liquor which circulates freely among them.

  [105] The rendezvous for 1834 changed sites several times; see
  Wyeth's _Oregon Expeditions_, p. 225. The Rocky Mountain men were
  first met on Green River; the twentieth, they moved over to Ham's
  Fork, which was on the twenty-seventh again ascended a short
  distance for forage.

  Thomas Fitzpatrick was one of the partners in the Rocky Mountain Fur
  Company, whose daring exploits and explorations of the mountains
  filled the thoughts of the men of his day. He was known to the
  Indians as "Broken Hand," from having shattered one of those
  members. He joined Ashley on his early expeditions, and was in the
  Arikara campaign of 1823; but his chief operations were between
  1830 and 1836. In 1831, he went out on the Santa Fé trail, barely
  escaping when Jedidiah S. Smith was killed. From 1832 to 1835, he
  conducted the trade at the mountain rendezvous, once (1832) being
  lost some days in the mountains. In 1833 he was robbed by the Crows,
  probably at the instigation of a rival fur company. Upon the decline
  of the fur-trade, he continued to dwell on the frontier, acting
  as guide for government exploring expeditions, being commissioned
  captain, and later major. In 1850 he was agent for all the upper
  region of the Platte, and of great use in Indian negotiations.--ED.

  [106] For the Shoshoni, see Bradbury's _Travels_, in our volume v,
  p. 227, note 123; for the Nez Percés, Franchère's _Narrative_, vi,
  p. 340, note 145.

  The Bannock are a Shoshonean tribe, whose habitat was midway between
  that of the Shoshoni proper and the Comanche, about the upper Lewis
  River and Great Salt Lake. They had the reputation of being fierce
  and treacherous, and next to the Blackfeet, were dreaded by white
  travelers. Lying athwart both the California and Oregon trails, they
  occasionally were formidable, although usually on trading terms with
  the trappers. They are now concentrated on the Fort Hall and Lemhi
  reservations in Idaho, intermingled with Shoshoni.--ED.

It is very much to be regretted that at times like the present,
there should be a positive necessity to allow the men as much rum
as they can drink, but this course has been sanctioned and {76}
practised by all leaders of parties who have hitherto visited these
regions, and reform cannot be thought of now. The principal liquor
in use here is alcohol diluted with water. It is sold to the men at
_three dollars_ the pint! Tobacco, of very inferior quality, such
as could be purchased in Philadelphia at about ten cents per pound,
here brings two dollars! and everything else in proportion. There is
no coin in circulation, and these articles are therefore paid for by
the independent mountain-men, in beaver skins, buffalo robes, &c.;
and those who are hired to the companies, have them charged against
their wages.

I was somewhat amused to-day by observing one of our newly hired
men enter the tent, and order, with the air of a man who knew he
would not be refused, _twenty dollars' worth of rum, and ten dollars
worth of sugar_, to treat two of his companions who were about
leaving the rendezvous!

_30th._--Our camp here is a most lovely one in every respect, and
as several days have elapsed since we came, and I am convalescent,
I can roam about the country a little and enjoy it. The pasture
is rich and very abundant, and it does our hearts good to witness
the satisfaction and comfort of our poor jaded horses. Our tents
are pitched in a pretty little valley or indentation in the plain,
surrounded on all sides by low bluffs of yellow clay. Near us flows
the clear deep water of the Siskadee, and beyond, on every side,
is a wide and level prairie, interrupted only by some gigantic
peaks of mountains and conical _butes_ in the distance. The river,
here, contains a great number of large trout, some grayling, and
a small narrow-mouthed white fish, resembling a herring. They are
all frequently taken with the hook, and, the trout particularly,
afford excellent sport to the lovers of angling. Old Izaac Walton
would be in his glory here, and the precautionary measures which he
so strongly recommends in approaching a trout stream, he would not
need to practise, as the fish is not {77} shy, and bites quickly and
eagerly at a grasshopper or minnow.

Buffalo, antelopes, and elk are abundant in the vicinity, and we
are therefore living well. We have seen also another kind of game,
a beautiful bird, the size of a half grown turkey, called the cock
of the plains, (_Tetrao urophasianus_.) We first met with this noble
bird on the plains, about two days' journey east of Green river,
in flocks, or _packs_, of fifteen or twenty, and so exceedingly
tame as to allow an approach to within a few feet, running before
our horses like domestic fowls, and not unfrequently hopping under
their bellies, while the men amused themselves by striking out
their feathers with their riding whips. When we first saw them,
the temptation to shoot was irresistible; the guns were cracking
all around us, and the poor grouse falling in every direction;
but what was our disappointment, when, upon roasting them nicely
before the fire, we found them so strong and bitter as not to be
eatable. From this time the cock of the plains was allowed to roam
free and unmolested, and as he has failed to please our palates, we
are content to admire the beauty of his plumage, and the grace and
spirit of his attitudes.

_July 2d._--We bade adieu to the rendezvous this morning; packed up
our moveables, and journied along the bank of the river. Our horses
are very much recruited by the long rest and good pasture which they
have enjoyed, and, like their masters, are in excellent spirits.

During our stay at the rendezvous, many of us looked anxiously for
letters from our families, which we expected by the later caravans,
but we were all disappointed. For myself, I have received but one
since I left my home, but this has been my solace through many a
long and dreary journey. Many a time, while pacing my solitary round
as night-guard in the wilderness, have I {78} sat myself down, and
stirring up the dying embers of the camp fire, taken the precious
little memento from my bosom, undrawn the string of the leathern
sack which contained it, and poured over the dear characters, till
my eyes would swim with sweet, but sad recollections, then kissing
the inanimate paper, return it to its sanctuary, tighten up my
pistol belt, shoulder my gun, and with a quivering voice, swelling
the "_all's well_" upon the night breeze, resume my slow and
noiseless tramp around my sleeping companions.

Many of our men have left us, and joined the returning companies,
but we have had an accession to our party of about thirty Indians;
Flat-heads, Nez Percés, &c., with their wives, children, and dogs.
Without these our camp would be small; they will probably travel
with us until we arrive on Snake river, and pass over the country
where the most danger is to be apprehended from their enemies, the
Black-feet.

Some of the women in this party, particularly those of the Nez
Percé nation, are rather handsome, and their persons are decked off
in truly savage taste. Their dresses of deer skin are profusely
ornamented with beads and porcupine quills; huge strings of beads
are hung around their necks, and their saddles are garnished with
dozens of little hawk's bells, which jingle and make music for
them as they travel along. Several of these women have little
children tied to their backs, sewed up papoose fashion, only the
head being seen; as they jolt along the road, we not unfrequently
hear their voices ringing loud and shrill above the music of the
bells. Other little fellows who have ceased to require the maternal
contributions, are tied securely on other horses, and all their care
seems to be to sleep, which they do most pertinaciously in spite of
jolting, noise, and clamor. There is among this party, a Blackfoot
chief, a renegado from his tribe, who sometime since killed the
principal chief of his nation, and was {79} in consequence under
the necessity of absconding. He has now joined the party of his
hereditary foes, and is prepared to fight against his own people and
kindred. He is a fine, warlike looking fellow, and although he takes
part in all the war-songs, and sham-battles of his adopted brothers,
and whoops, and howls as loud as the best of them, yet it is plain
to perceive that he is distrusted and disliked. All men, whether,
civilized or savage, honorable, or otherwise, detest and scorn a
traitor!

We were joined at the rendezvous by a Captain Stewart, an English
gentleman of noble family, who is travelling for amusement, and in
search of adventure. He has already been a year in the mountains,
and is now desirous of visiting the lower country, from which he may
probably take passage to England by sea. Another Englishman, a young
man, named Ashworth, also attached himself to our party, for the
same purpose.[107]

  [107] Sir William Drummond Stuart, Bart., of Perthshire, Scotland,
  who was rumored to have served under Wellington, came to the United
  States (1833) to hunt big game in the Rockies. He sustained his
  share of the caravan's work, mounting guard and serving in the
  skirmishes against the Indians, and was highly respected by the
  mountain men. He went as far as the Columbia, on this expedition.
  See also Elliott Coues, _Forty Years a Fur-Trader on the Upper
  Missouri_ (New York, 1898), index. Townsend is, so far as we are
  aware, the only contemporary traveller who mentions Ashworth in a
  published work.--ED.

Our course lay along the bank of Ham's fork, through a hilly and
stony, but not a rocky country; the willow flourished on the margin
of the stream, and occasionally the eye was relieved, on scanning
the plain, by a pretty clump of cottonwood or poplar trees. The
cock of the plains is very abundant here, and our pretty little
summer yellow bird, (_Sylvia æstiva_,) one of our most common birds
at home, is our constant companion. How natural sounds his little
monotonous stave, and how it seems to carry us back to the dear
scenes which we have exchanged for the wild and pathless wilderness!

_4th._--We left Ham's fork this morning,--now diminished to a little
purling brook,--and passed across the hills in a north-westerly
direction for about twenty miles, when we struck Muddy creek.[108]
This is a branch of Bear river, which empties into the Salt lake,
or "lake Bonneville," as it has been lately named, for what reason
I know not. Our camp here, is a beautiful and most delightful one.
A large plain, like a meadow, of rich, waving {80} grass, with a
lovely little stream running through the midst, high hills, capped
with shapely cedars on two sides, and on the others an immense
plain, with snow clad mountains in the distance. This being a
memorable day, the liquor kegs were opened, and the men allowed
an abundance. We, therefore, soon had a renewal of the coarse and
brutal scenes of the rendezvous. Some of the bacchanals called for
a volley in honor of the day, and in obedience to the order, some
twenty or thirty "happy" ones reeled into line with their muzzles
directed to every point of the compass, and when the word "fire" was
given, we who were not "happy" had to lie flat upon the ground to
avoid the bullets which were careering through the camp.

  [108] Ham's Fork is a western affluent of Black Fork of Green
  River, in south-western Wyoming. It was an important stream on the
  Oregon Trail, which later bent southward from this point to Fort
  Bridger, going by Muddy Creek, another affluent of the Green. The
  Muddy Creek of Townsend, however, is a different stream, flowing
  into Bear River; it is not now known by this name. The Oregon Short
  Line railway, which follows Ham's Fork and crosses to the Bear,
  approximating Townsend's route, follows the valley of Rock Creek to
  the latter river.--ED.

In this little stream, the trout are more abundant than we have yet
seen them. One of our _sober_ men took, this afternoon, upwards of
thirty pounds. These fish would probably average fifteen or sixteen
inches in length, and weigh three-quarters of a pound; occasionally,
however, a much larger one is seen.

_5th._--We travelled about twenty miles this day, over a country
abounding in lofty hills, and early in the afternoon arrived on Bear
river, and encamped. This is a fine stream of about one hundred and
fifty feet in width, with a moveable sandy bottom. The grass is dry
and poor, the willow abounds along the banks, and at a distance
marks the course of the stream, which meanders through an alluvial
plain of four to six miles in width. At the distance of about one
hundred miles from this point, the Bear river enters the Salt lake,
a large body of salt water, without outlet, in which there is so
large an island as to afford streams of fresh water for goats and
other animals living upon it.[109]

  [109] Bear River rises in the Uintah Mountains of northeastern Utah,
  and flows north and slightly northwest along the borders of Utah,
  Wyoming, and Idaho; until in Idaho, it takes a sudden bend southwest
  and south, and after a course of more than a hundred miles, enters
  Great Salt Lake. The trail struck this river near the southeastern
  corner of Idaho, following its course northwest to its bend--almost
  the identical route of the present Oregon Short Line railway.

  Great Salt Lake had probably been seen by white men before the
  explorations of Ashley's party; but no authentic account of its
  discovery has been found before that of James Bridger, who in the
  winter of 1824-25 followed Bear River to its outlet. Finding the
  water salt he concluded it to be an arm of the ocean; but the
  following spring some of the party explored its coast line in
  skin-boats, finding no outlet. Captain Bonneville gave it his own
  name, but this is applied only to the geological area occupied by
  the lake in the quaternary era.--ED.

On the next day we crossed the river, which we immediately left, to
avoid a great bend, and passed over some lofty ranges of hills and
through rugged and stony valleys between them; the wind was blowing
a gale right ahead, and clouds of dust were flying in our faces, so
that at the end of the day, our countenances {81} were disguised as
they were on the plains of the Platte. The march to-day has been a
most laborious and fatiguing one both for man and beast; we have
travelled steadily from morning till night, not stopping at noon;
our poor horses' feet are becoming very much worn and sore, and
when at length we struck Bear river again and encamped, the wearied
animals refused to eat, stretching themselves upon the ground and
falling asleep from very exhaustion.

Trout, grayling, and a kind of char are very abundant here--the
first very large. The next day we travelled but twelve miles, it
being impossible to urge our worn-out horses farther. Near our camp
this evening we found some large gooseberries and currants, and
made a hearty meal upon them. They were to us peculiarly delicious.
We have lately been living entirely upon dried buffalo, without
vegetables or bread; even this is now failing us, and we are upon
short allowance. Game is very scarce, our hunters cannot find any,
and our Indians have killed but two buffalo for several days. Of
this small stock they would not spare us a mouthful, so it is
probable we shall soon be hungry.

The alluvial plain here presents many unequivocal evidences of
volcanic action, being thickly covered with masses of lava, and
high walls and regular columns of basalt appear in many places. The
surrounding country is composed, as usual, of high hills and narrow,
stony valleys between them; the hills are thickly covered with a
growth of small cedars, but on the plain, nothing flourishes but the
everlasting wormwood, or _sage_ as it is here called.

Our encampment on the 8th, was near what are called the "White-clay
pits," still on Bear river. The soil is soft chalk, white and
tenacious; and in the vicinity are several springs of strong
supercarbonated water, which bubble up with all the activity
of artificial fountains. The taste was very agreeable {82} and
refreshing, resembling Saratoga water, but not so saline.[110] The
whole plain to the hills, is covered with little mounds formed of
calcareous sinter, having depressions on their summits, from which
once issued streams of water. The extent of these eruptions, at
some former period, must have been very great. At about half a mile
distant, is an eruptive thermal spring of the temperature of 90°,
and near this is an opening in the earth from which a stream of gas
issues without water.

  [110] This is what is now known as Soda Springs, at the upper bend
  of Bear River. Irving describes it (_Rocky Mountains_, ii, p. 31) as
  an area of half a mile, with a dazzling surface of white clay, on
  which the springs have built up their mounds It is, in miniature,
  what is found on a large scale in Yellowstone Park. One geyser
  exists in the form that Townsend describes. See Palmer's account, in
  our volume xxx.--ED.

In a thicket of common red cedars, near our camp, I found, and
procured several specimens of two beautiful and rare birds which
I had never before seen--the Lewis' woodpecker and Clark's crow,
(_Picus torquatus_ and _Corvus columbianus_.)

We remained the whole of the following day in camp to recruit our
horses, and a good opportunity was thus afforded me of inspecting
all the curiosities of this wonderful region, and of procuring some
rare and valuable specimens of birds. Three of our hunters sallied
forth in pursuit of several buffalo whose tracks had been observed
by some of the men, and we were overjoyed to see them return in the
evening loaded with the meat and marrow bones of two animals which
they had killed.

We saw here the whooping crane, and white pelican, numerous; and
in the small streams near the bases of the hills, the common
canvass-back duck, shoveller, and black duck, (_Anas obscura_,) were
feeding their young.

We were this evening visited by Mr. Thomas McKay,[111] an Indian
trader of some note in the mountains. He is a step-son of Dr.
McLaughlin, the chief factor at Fort Vancouver, on the {83}
Columbia, and the leader of a party of Canadians and Indians, now
on a hunt in the vicinity. This party is at present in our rear, and
Mr. McKay has come ahead in order to join us, and keep us company
until we reach Portneuf river, where we intend building a fort.

  [111] This is the son of Mr. Alexander McKay, who was massacred
  by the Indians of the N. W. Coast on board the ship "Tonquin," an
  account of which is given in Irving's "Astoria." I have often heard
  McKay speak of the tragical fate of his parent, and with the bitter
  animosity and love of revenge inherited from his Indian mother, I
  have heard him declare that he will yet be known on the coast as the
  avenger of blood.--TOWNSEND.

_Comment by Ed._ For Alexander McKay, consult Franchère's
_Narrative_ in our volume vi, p. 186, note 9.

Thomas McKay was born at Sault Ste. Marie, and when a lad (1811)
came with his father to Oregon. After the failure of the Astoria
enterprise, he entered the North West Company, and fought under
their banner in the battle on Red River in 1816. Returning to
Oregon, he became an important agent of the Hudson's Bay Company,
under his step-father's management, usually in charge of the Snake
River brigade. He was brave, dashing, a sure shot, and the idol of
the half-breeds. He had a farm in Multnomah valley, and became a
United States citizen, raising a company of militia which did active
service in the Cayuse War of 1848.

_10th._--We were moving early this morning: our horses were very
much recruited, and seemed as eager as their masters to travel
on. It is astonishing how soon a horse revives, and overcomes the
lassitude consequent upon fatigue, when he is allowed a day's rest
upon tolerable pasture. Towards noon, however, after encountering
the rough lava-strewn plain for a few hours, they became
sufficiently sobered to desist from all unnecessary curvetting and
prancing, and settled down into a very matter-of-fact trudge, better
suited to the country and to the work which they have yet to do.

Soon after we left, we crossed one of the high and stony hills by
which our late camp is surrounded; then making a gentle descent,
we came to a beautiful and very fertile plain. This is, however,
very different from the general face of the country; in a short
time, after passing over the rich prairie, the same dry aridity
and depauperation prevailed, which is almost universal west of the
mountains. On the wide plain, we observed large sunken spots, some
of them of great extent, surrounded by walls of lava, indicating
the existence, at some very ancient date, of active craters. These
eruptions have probably been antediluvian, or have existed at a
period long anterior to the present order of creation. On the side
of the hills are high walls of lava and basaltic dykes, and many
large and dark caves are formed by the juxtaposition of the enormous
masses.

Early in the afternoon we passed a large party of white men,
encamped on the lava plain near one of the small streams. Horses
were tethered all around, and men were lolling about playing games
of cards, and loitering through the camp, as {84} though at a loss
for employment. We soon ascertained it to be Captain Bonneville's
company resting after the fatigues of a long march.[112] Mr. Wyeth
and Captain Stewart visited the lodge of the "bald chief," and our
party proceeded on its march. The difficulties of the route seemed
to increase as we progressed, until at length we found ourselves
wedged in among huge blocks of lava and columns of basalt, and were
forced, most reluctantly, to retrace our steps for several miles,
over the impediments which we had hoped we were leaving forever
behind us. We had nearly reached Bonneville's camp again, when
Captains Wyeth and Stewart joined us, and we struck into another
path which proved more tolerable. Wyeth gave us a rather amusing
account of his visit to the worthy captain. He and Captain Stewart
were received very kindly by the veteran, and every delicacy that
the lodge afforded was brought forth to do them honor. Among the
rest, was some _metheglen_ or diluted alcohol sweetened with
honey, which the good host had concocted; this dainty beverage was
set before them, and the thirsty guests were not slow in taking
advantage of the invitation so obligingly given. Draught after
draught of the precious liquor disappeared down the throats of the
visitors, until the anxious, but still complaisant captain, began to
grow uneasy.

  [112] Compare Irving's account of this meeting, in _Rocky
  Mountains_, ii, pp. 175-182.--ED.

"I beg you will help yourselves, gentlemen," said the host, with a
smile which he intended to express the utmost urbanity, but which,
in spite of himself, had a certain ghastliness about it.

"Thank you, sir, we will do so freely," replied the two worthies,
and away went the metheglen as before.

Cup after cup was drained, until the hollow sound of the keg
indicated that its contents were nearly exhausted, when the company
rose, and thanking the kind host for his noble entertainment, were
bowed out of the tent with all the polite formality which the
accomplished captain knows so well how to assume.

Towards evening, we struck Blackfoot river, a small, sluggish, {85}
stagnant stream, heading with the waters of a rapid rivulet passed
yesterday, which empties into the Bear river.[113] This stream
passes in a north-westerly direction through a valley of about six
miles in width, covered with quagmires, through which we had great
difficulty in making our way. As we approached our encampment, near
a small grove of willows, on the margin of the river, a tremendous
grizzly bear rushed out upon us. Our horses ran wildly in every
direction, snorting with terror, and became nearly unmanageable.
Several balls were instantly fired into him, but they only seemed to
increase his fury. After spending a moment in rending each wound,
(their invariable practice,) he selected the person who happened to
be nearest, and darted after him, but before he proceeded far, he
was sure to be stopped again by a ball from another quarter. In this
way he was driven about amongst us for perhaps fifteen minutes, at
times so near some of the horses, that he received several severe
kicks from them. One of the pack horses was fairly fastened upon
by the terrific claws of the brute, and in the terrified animal's
efforts to escape the dreaded gripe, the pack and saddle were broken
to pieces and disengaged. One of our mules also lent him a kick
in the head while pursuing it up an adjacent hill, which sent him
rolling to the bottom. Here he was finally brought to a stand.

  [113] Blackfoot River is an eastern affluent of Lewis (or Snake)
  River, next above Portneuf. Its general course is northwest,
  entering the main river at Blackfoot, Idaho. Wyeth passed only along
  its upper reaches.--ED.

The poor animal was so completely surrounded by enemies that he
became bewildered. He raised himself upon his hind feet, standing
almost erect, his mouth partly open, and from his protruding tongue
the blood fell fast in drops. While in this position, he received
about six more balls, each of which made him reel. At last, as in
complete desperation, he dashed into the water, and swam several
yards with astonishing strength and agility, the guns cracking
at him constantly; but he was not to proceed far. Just then,
Richardson, who had been absent, rode up, and fixing his deadly aim
upon him, fired a ball into the back {86} of his head, which killed
him instantly. The strength of four men was required to drag the
ferocious brute from the water, and upon examining his body, he was
found completely riddled; there did not appear to be four inches of
his shaggy person, from the hips upward, that had not received a
ball. There must have been at least thirty shots made at him, and
probably few missed him; yet such was his tenacity of life, that I
have no doubt he would have succeeded in crossing the river, but for
the last shot in the brain. He would probably weigh, at the least,
six hundred pounds, and was about the height of an ordinary steer.
The spread of the foot, laterally, was ten inches, and the claws
measured seven inches in length. This animal was remarkably lean;
when in good condition, he would, doubtless, much exceed in weight
the estimate I have given. Richardson, and two other hunters, in
company, killed two in the course of the afternoon, and saw several
others.

This evening, our pet antelope, poor little "Zip Koon," met with a
serious accident. The mule on which he rode, got her feet fastened
in some lava blocks, and, in the struggle to extricate herself,
fell violently on the pointed fragments. One of the delicate legs
of our favorite was broken, and he was otherwise so bruised and
hurt, that, from sheer mercy, we ordered him killed. We had hoped
to be able to take him to the fort which we intend building on the
Portneuf river, where he could have been comfortably cared for. This
is the only pet we have had in the camp, which continued with us for
more than a few days. We have sometimes taken young grizzly bears,
but these little fellows, even when not larger than puppies, are
so cross and snappish, that it is dangerous to handle them, and we
could never become attached to any animal so ungentle, and therefore
young "_Ephraim_," (to give him his mountain cognomen,) generally
meets with but little mercy from us when his evil genius throws him
in our way. The young buffalo calf is also very {87} often taken,
and if removed from the mother, and out of sight of the herd, he
will follow the camp as steadily as a dog; but his propensity for
keeping close to the horse's heels often gets him into trouble, as
he meets with more kicks than caresses from them. He is considered
an interloper, and treated accordingly. The bull calf of a month
or two old, is sometimes rather difficult to manage; he shows no
inclination to follow the camp like the younger ones, and requires
to be dragged along by main force. At such times, he watches for a
good opportunity, and before his captor is aware of what is going
on, he receives a _butt_ from the clumsy head of the intractable
little brute, which, in most cases, lays him sprawling upon the
ground.

I had an adventure of this sort a few days before we arrived at the
rendezvous. I captured a large bull calf, and with considerable
difficulty, managed to drag him into the camp, by means of a rope
noosed around his neck, and made fast to the high pommel of my
saddle. Here I attached him firmly by a cord to a stake driven into
the ground, and considered him secure. In a few minutes, however,
he succeeded in breaking his fastenings, and away he scoured out
of the camp. I lost no time in giving chase, and although I fell
flat into a ditch, and afforded no little amusement to our people
thereby, I soon overtook him, and was about seizing the stranded
rope, which was still around his neck, when, to my surprise, the
little animal showed fight; he came at me with all his force,
and dashing his head into my breast, bore me to the ground in a
twinkling. I, however, finally succeeded in recapturing him, and led
and pushed him back into the camp; but I could make nothing of him;
his stubbornness would neither yield to severity or kindness, and
the next morning I loosed him and let him go.

_11th._--On ascending a hill this morning, Captain Wyeth, who was
at the head of the company, suddenly espied an Indian stealing
cautiously along the summit, and evidently endeavoring {88} to
conceal himself. Captain W. directed the attention of McKay to
the crouching figure, who, the moment he caught a glimpse of him,
exclaimed, in tones of joyful astonishment, "a Blackfoot, by ----!"
and clapping spurs to his horse, tore up the hill with the most
frantic eagerness, with his rifle poised in his hand ready for a
shot. The Indian disappeared over the hill like a lightning flash,
and in another second, McKay was also out of sight, and we could
hear the rapid clatter of his horse's hoofs, in hot pursuit after
the fugitive. Several of the men, with myself, followed after at a
rapid gait, with, however, a very different object. Mine was simply
curiosity, mingled with some anxiety, lest the wily Indian should
lead our impetuous friend into an ambushment, and his life thus fall
a sacrifice to his temerity. When we arrived at the hill-top, McKay
was gone, but we saw the track of his horse passing down the side
of it, and we traced him into a dense thicket about a quarter of a
mile distant. Several of our hardy fellows entered this thicket, and
beat about for some time in various directions, but nothing could
they see either of McKay or the Indian. In the mean time, the party
passed on, and my apprehensions were fast settling into a certainty
that our bold companion had found the death he had so rashly
courted, when I was inexpressibly relieved by hearing the crackling
of the bushes near, which was immediately followed by the appearance
of the missing man himself.

He was in an excessively bad humor, and grumbled audibly about the
"Blackfoot rascal getting off in that cowardly fashion," without at
all heeding the congratulations which I was showering upon him for
his almost miraculous escape. He was evidently not aware of having
been peculiarly exposed, and was regretting, like the hunter who
loses his game by a sudden shift of wind, that his human prey had
escaped him.

The appearance of this Indian is a proof that others are lurking
near; and if the party happens to be large, they may give us {89}
some trouble. We are now in a part of the country which is almost
constantly infested by the Blackfeet; we have seen for several
mornings past, the tracks of moccasins around our camp, and not
unfrequently the prints of unshod horses, so that we know we are
narrowly watched; and the slumbering of one of the guard, or the
slightest appearance of carelessness in the conduct of the camp, may
bring the savages whooping upon us like demons.

Our encampment this evening is on one of the head branches of the
Blackfoot river, from which we can see the three remarkable conic
summits known by the name of the "_Three Butes_" or "_Tetons_."
Near these flows the Portneuf, or south branch of Snake or Lewis'
river.[114] Here is to be another place of rest, and we look forward
to it with pleasure both on our own account and on that of our
wearied horses.

  [114] Townsend probably refers to the Three Buttes of the Lewis
  River plain, about forty miles west of their camp. The Three
  Tetons--a magnificent group of snow-clad mountains--were sixty miles
  northeast, in the present Teton Forest Reservation, Wyoming.

  Portneuf is an eastern affluent of Lewis River, and a well-known
  halting pace on the Oregon Trail.--ED.

_12th._--In the afternoon we made a camp on Ross's creek, a small
branch of Snake river.[115] The pasture is better than we have had
for two weeks, and the stream contains an abundance of excellent
trout. Some of these are enormous, and very fine eating. They bite
eagerly at a grasshopper or minnow, but the largest fish are shy,
and the sportsman requires to be carefully concealed in order to
take them. We have here none of the fine tackle, jointed rods,
reels, and silkworm gut of the accomplished city sportsman; we have
only a piece of common cord, and a hook seized on with half-hitches,
with a willow rod cut on the banks of the stream; but with this
rough equipment we take as many trout as we wish, and who could do
more, even with all the curious contrivances of old Izaac Walton or
Christopher North?

  [115] Ross's Creek is in reality an affluent of Portneuf. The usual
  route from Soda Springs, on Bear River, was by way of the Portneuf;
  the route by Blackfoot and Ross's Creek was somewhat shorter,
  although rougher.--ED.

The band of Indians which kept company with us from the rendezvous,
left us yesterday, and fell back to join Captain Bonneville's party,
which is travelling on behind. We do not regret their absence; for
although they added strength to our band, and {90} would have been
useful in case of an attack from Blackfeet, yet they added very
materially to our cares, and gave us some trouble by their noise,
confusion, and singing at night.

On the 14th, we travelled but about six miles, when a halt was
called, and we pitched our tents upon the banks of the noble
Shoshoné or Snake river. It seems now, as though we were really
nearing the western extremity of our vast continent. We are now on a
stream which pours its waters directly into the Columbia, and we can
form some idea of the great Oregon river by the beauty and magnitude
of its tributary. Soon after we stopped, Captain W., Richardson,
and two others left us to seek for a suitable spot for building a
fort, and in the evening they returned with the information that an
excellent and convenient place had been pitched upon, about five
miles from our present encampment. On their route, they killed a
buffalo, which they left at the site of the fort, suitably protected
from wolves, &c. This is very pleasing intelligence to us, as our
stock of dried meat is almost exhausted, and for several days past
we have been depending almost exclusively upon fish.

The next morning we moved early, and soon arrived at our destined
camp. This is a fine large plain on the south side of the Portneuf,
with an abundance of excellent grass and rich soil. The opposite
side of the river is thickly covered with large timber of the
cottonwood and willow, with a dense undergrowth of the same,
intermixed with service-berry and currant bushes.[116]

  [116] This statement concerning the site of Fort Hall does not agree
  with that of later writers; possibly the fort was removed later, for
  Frémont in 1844 describes it as being nine miles above the mouth
  of Portneuf, on the narrow plain between that and Lewis River. The
  fort was named for Henry Hall, senior member of the firm furnishing
  Wyeth's financial backing. Wyeth sold this fort to the Hudson's Bay
  Company in 1836. The present Fort Hall, a government post, is forty
  miles northeast of the old fort, on Lincoln Creek, an affluent of
  Blackfoot River. It was built in May, 1870, and there, since that
  time, a garrison has been maintained.--ED.

Most of the men were immediately put to work, felling trees, making
horse-pens, and preparing the various requisite materials for the
building, while others were ordered to get themselves in readiness
for a start on the back track, in order to make a hunt, and procure
meat for the camp. To this party I have attached myself, and all my
leisure time to-day is employed in preparing for it.

Our number will be twelve, and each man will lead a mule with {91}
a pack-saddle, in order to bring in the meat that we may kill.
Richardson is the principal of this party, and Mr. Ashworth has also
consented to join us, so that I hope we shall have an agreeable
trip. There will be but little hard work to perform; our men are
mostly of the best, and no rum or cards are allowed.



{92} CHAPTER VI

     Departure of the hunting camp--A false alarm--Blackfeet
     Indians--their ferocity--Requisites of a mountain-man--Good
     fare, and good appetites--An experiment--Grizzly bears--Visit
     of a Nez Percé Indian--Adventure with a grizzly bear--Hunter's
     anecdotes--Homeward bound--Accident from gunpowder--Arrival at
     "Fort Hall"--A salute--Emaciation of some of the party from
     low diet--Mr. McKay's company--Buffalo lodges--Progress of the
     building--Effects of judicious training--Indian worship--A "Camp
     Meeting"--Mr. Jason Lee, a favorite--A fatal accident and a
     burial.


_July 16th._--Our little hunting party of twelve men, rode out
of the encampment this morning, at a brisk trot, which gait was
continued until we arrived at our late encampment on Ross' creek,
having gone about thirty miles. Here we came to a halt, and made a
hearty meal on a buffalo which we had just killed. While we were
eating, a little Welshman, whom we had stationed outside our camp
to watch the horses, came running to us out of breath, crying in
a terrified falsetto, "_Indians, Indians!_" In a moment every man
was on his feet, and his gun in his hand; the horses were instantly
surrounded, by Richardson's direction, and driven into the bushes,
and we were preparing ourselves for the coming struggle, when our
hunter, peering out of the thick copse to mark the approach of the
enemy, burst at once into a loud laugh, and muttering something
about a Welsh coward, stepped boldly from his place of concealment,
and told us to follow him. When we had done so, we perceived the
band approaching steadily, and it seemed warily, along the path
directly in our front. Richardson said something to them in an
unknown tongue, which immediately brought several of the strangers
towards {93} us at full gallop. One of these was a Canadian, as his
peculiar physiognomy, scarlet sash, and hat ribbons of gaudy colors,
clearly proved, and the two who accompanied him, were Indians. These
people greeted us with great cordiality, the more so, perhaps, as
they had supposed, on seeing the smoke from our fire, that we were
a band of Blackfeet, and that, therefore, there was no alternative
for them but to fight. While we were conversing, the whole party,
of about thirty, came up, and it needed but a glance at the motley
group of tawdrily dressed hybrid boys, and blanketted Indians, to
convince us that this was McKay's company travelling on to join him
at Fort Hall.

They inquired anxiously about their leader, and seemed pleased on
being informed that he was so near; the prospect of a few days'
rest at the fort, and the _regale_ by which their arrival was sure
to be commemorated, acted upon the spirits of the mercurial young
half-breeds, like the potent liquor which they expected soon to
quaff in company with the kindred souls who were waiting to receive
them.

They all seemed hungry, and none required a second invitation to
join us at our half finished meal. The huge masses of savoury fleece
meat, hump-ribs, and side-ribs disappeared, and were polished with
wonderful dispatch; the Canadians ate like half famished wolves,
and the sombre Indians, although slower and more sedate in their
movements, were very little behind their companions in the agreeable
process of mastication.

The next day we rode thirty-four miles, and encamped on a pretty
little stream, fringed with willows, running through the midst of
a large plain. Within a few miles, we saw a small herd of buffalo,
and six of our company left the camp for a hunt. In an hour two of
them returned, bringing the meat of one animal. We all commenced
work immediately, cutting it in thin slices, and hanging it on the
bushes to dry. By sundown, our work was finished, and soon after
dark, the remaining hunters {94} came in, bringing the best parts of
three more. This will give us abundance of work for to-morrow, when
the hunters will go out again.

Richardson and Salisbury mention having seen several Blackfeet
Indians to-day, who, on observing them, ran rapidly away, and,
as usual, concealed themselves in the bushes. We are now certain
that our worst enemies are around us, and that they are only
waiting for a favorable time and opportunity to make an attack.
They are not here for nothing, and have probably been dogging us,
and reconnoitering our outposts, so that the greatest caution and
watchfulness will be required to prevent a surprise. We are but a
small company, and there may be at this very moment hundreds within
hearing of our voices.

The Blackfoot is a sworn and determined foe to all white men, and he
has often been heard to declare that he would rather hang the scalp
of a "pale face" to his girdle, than kill a buffalo to prevent his
starving.

The hostility of this dreaded tribe is, and has for years been,
proverbial. They are, perhaps, the only Indians who do not fear
the power, and who refuse to acknowledge the superiority of the
white man; and though so often beaten in conflicts with them, even
by their own mode of warfare, and generally with numbers vastly
inferior, their indomitable courage and perseverance still urges
them on to renewed attempts; and if a single scalp is taken, it is
considered equal to a great victory, and is hailed as a presage of
future and more extensive triumphs.

It must be acknowledged, however, that this determined hostility
does not originate solely in savage malignity, or an abstract
thirst for the blood of white men; it is fomented and kept alive
from year to year by incessant provocatives on the part of white
hunters, trappers, and traders, who are at best but intruders on
the rightful domains of the red man of the wilderness. {95} Many a
night have I sat at the camp-fire, and listened to the recital of
bloody and ferocious scenes, in which the narrators were the actors,
and the poor Indians the victims, and I have felt my blood tingle
with shame, and boil with indignation, to hear the diabolical acts
applauded by those for whose amusement they were related. Many a
precious villain, and merciless marauder, was made by these midnight
tales of rapine, murder, and robbery; many a stripling, in whose
tender mind the seeds of virtue and honesty had never germinated,
burned for an opportunity of loading his pack-horse with the beaver
skins of some solitary Blackfoot trapper, who was to be murdered
and despoiled of the property he had acquired by weeks, and perhaps
months, of toil and danger.

Acts of this kind are by no means unfrequent, and the subjects of
this sort of atrocity are not always the poor and despised Indians:
white men themselves often fall by the hands of their companions,
when by good fortune and industry they have succeeded in loading
their horses with fur. The fortunate trapper is treacherously
murdered by one who has eaten from the same dish and drank from the
same cup, and the homicide returns triumphantly to his camp with his
ill gotten property. If his companion be inquired for, the answer is
that some days ago they parted company, and he will probably soon
join them.

The poor man never returns--no one goes to search for him--he is
soon forgotten, or is only remembered by one more steadfast than
the rest, who seizes with avidity the first opportunity which is
afforded, of murdering an unoffending Indian in revenge for the
death of his friend.

On the 20th, we moved our camp to a spot about twelve miles distant,
where Richardson, with two other hunters, stopped yesterday and
spent the night. They had killed several buffalo here, and were
busily engaged in preparing the meat when we joined them. They gave
us a meal of excellent cow's flesh, and {96} I thought I never had
eaten anything so delicious. Hitherto we have had only the bulls
which are at this season poor and rather unsavory, but now we are
feasting upon the _best food in the world_.

It is true we have nothing but meat and good cold water, but this
is all we desire: we have excellent appetites, no dyspepsia, clear
heads, sharp ears, and high spirits, and what more does a man
require to make him happy?

We rise in the morning with the sun, stir up our fires, and _roast_
our breakfast, eating usually from one to two pounds of meat at a
morning meal. At ten o'clock we lunch, dine at two, sup at five,
and lunch at eight, and during the night-watch commonly provide
ourselves with two or three "hump-ribs" and a marrow bone, to
furnish employment and keep the drowsy god at a distance.

Our present camp is a beautiful one. A rich and open plain of
luxuriant grass, dotted with buffalo in all directions, a high
picturesque hill in front, and a lovely stream of cold mountain
water flowing at our feet. On the borders of this stream, as usual,
is a dense belt of willows, and under the shade of these we sit and
work by day, and sleep soundly at night. Our meat is now dried upon
scaffolds constructed of old timber which we find in great abundance
upon the neighboring hill. We keep a fire going constantly, and
when the meat is sufficiently dried, it is piled on the ground,
preparatory to being baled.

_21st._--The buffalo appear even more numerous than when we came,
and much less suspicious than common. The bulls frequently pass
slowly along within a hundred yards of us, and toss their shaggy
and frightful looking heads as though to warn us against attacking
or approaching them.

Towards evening, to-day, I walked out with my gun, in the direction
of one of these prowling monsters, and the ground in his vicinity
being covered densely with bushes, I determined to {97} approach
as near him as possible, in order to try the efficacy of a ball
planted directly in the centre of the forehead. I had heard of
this experiment having been tried without success and I wished to
ascertain the truth for myself.

"Taking the wind" of the animal, as it is called, (that is,
keeping to leeward, so that my approach could not be perceived by
communicating a taint to the air,) I crawled on my hands and knees
with the utmost caution towards my victim. The unwieldy brute was
quietly and unsuspiciously cropping the herbage, and I had arrived
to within feet of him, when a sudden flashing of the eye, and
an impatient motion, told me that I was observed. He raised his
enormous head, and looked around him, and so truly terrible and
grand did he appear, that I must confess, (in your ear,) I felt
awed, almost frightened, at the task I had undertaken. But I had
gone too far to retreat; so, raising my gun, I took deliberate aim
at the bushy centre of the forehead, and fired. The monster shook
his head, pawed up the earth with his hoofs, and making a sudden
spring, accompanied by a terrific roar, turned to make his escape.
At that instant, the ball from the second barrel penetrated his
vitals, and he measured his huge length upon the ground. In a few
seconds he was dead. Upon examining the head, and cutting away the
enormous mass of matted hair and skin which enveloped the skull, my
large bullet of twenty to the pound, was found completely flattened
against the bone, having carried with it, through the interposing
integument, a considerable portion of the coarse hair, but without
producing the smallest fracture. I was satisfied; and taking the
tongue, (the hunter's perquisite,) I returned to my companions.

This evening the roaring of the bulls in the _gang_ near us is
terrific, and these sounds are mingled with the howling of large
packs of wolves, which regularly attend upon them, and the hoarse
screaming of hundreds of ravens flying over head. The dreaded {98}
grizzly bear is also quite common in this neighborhood; two have
just been seen in some bushes near, and they visit our camp almost
every night, attracted by the piles of meat which are heaped all
around us. The first intimation we have of his approach is a great
_grunt_ or _snort_, unlike any sound I ever heard, but much more
querulous than fierce; then we hear the scraping and tramping of his
huge feet, and the snuffing of his nostrils, as the savory scent of
the meat is wafted to them. He approaches nearer and nearer, with
a stealthy and fearful pace, but just as he is about to accomplish
the object of his visit, he suddenly stops short; the snuffing is
repeated at long and trembling intervals, and if the slightest
motion is then made by one of the party, away goes "_Ephraim_," like
a cowardly burglar as he is, and we hear no more of him that night.

On the 23d a Nez Percé Indian, belonging to Mr. McKay's company
visited us. He is one of several hundred who have been sent from the
fort on the same errand as ourselves. This was a middle aged man,
with a countenance in which shrewdness or cunning, and complaisance,
appeared singularly blended. But his person was a perfect wonder,
and would have served admirably for the study of a sculptor. The
form was perfection itself. The lower limbs were entirely naked, and
the upper part of the person was only covered by a short checked
shirt. His blanket lay by his side as he sat with us, and was used
only while moving. I could not but admire the ease with which the
man squatted on his haunches immediately as he alighted, and the
position both of body and limbs was one that, probably, no white man
unaccustomed to it, could have endured for many minutes together.
The attitude, and indeed the whole figure was graceful and easy
in the extreme; and on criticising his person, one was forcibly
reminded of the Apollo Belvidere of Canova. His only weapons were a
short bow and half a dozen arrows, a scalping knife and tomahawk;
with these, however, weak and inefficient {99} as they seemed, he
had done good service, every arrow being smeared with blood to
the feathers. He told Richardson that he and his three or four
companions had killed about sixty buffalo, and that now, having meat
enough, they intended to return to their camp to-morrow.

This afternoon I observed a large flock of wild geese passing over;
and upon watching them, perceived that they alighted about a mile
and a half from us, where I knew there was a lake. Concluding that
a little change of diet might be agreeable, I sallied forth with
my gun across the plain in quest of the birds. I soon arrived at a
thick copse of willow and currant bushes, which skirted the water,
and was about entering, when I heard a sort of angry growl or grunt
directly before me--and instantly after, saw a grizzly bear of
the largest kind erect himself upon his hind feet within a dozen
yards of me, his savage eyes glaring with horrible malignity, his
mouth wide open, and his tremendous paws raised as though ready to
descend upon me. For a moment, I thought my hour had come, and that
I was fated to die an inglorious death away from my friends and my
kindred; but after waiting a moment in agonizing suspense, and the
bear showing no inclination to advance, my lagging courage returned,
and cocking both barrels of my gun, and presenting it as steadily
as my nerves would allow, full at the shaggy breast of the creature,
I retreated slowly backwards. Bruin evidently had no notion of
braving gunpowder, but I did not know whether, like a dog, if the
enemy retreated he would not yet give me a chase; so when I had
placed about a hundred yards between us, I wheeled about and flew,
rather than ran, across the plain towards the camp. Several times
during this run for life, (as I considered it,) did I fancy that I
heard the bear at my heels; and not daring to look over my shoulder
to ascertain the fact, I only increased my speed, until the camp was
nearly gained, when, from sheer exhaustion I relaxed my efforts,
fell flat upon the ground, and {100} looked behind me. The whole
space between me and the copse was untenanted, and I was forced to
acknowledge, with a feeling strongly allied to shame, that my fears
alone had represented the bear in chase of me.

When I arrived in camp, and told my break-neck adventure to the men,
our young companion, Mr. Ashworth, expressed a wish to go and kill
the bear, and requested the loan of my double-barrelled gun for
this purpose. This I at first peremptorily refused, and the men,
several of whom were experienced hunters, joined me in urging him
not to attempt the rash adventure. At length, however, finding him
determined on going, and that rather than remain, he would trust to
his own single gun, I was finally induced to offer him mine, with a
request, (which I had hoped would check his daring spirit,) that he
would leave the weapon in a situation where I could readily find it;
for after he had made one shot, he would never use a gun again.

He seemed to heed our caution and advice but little, and, with a
dogged and determined air, took the way across the plain to the
bushes, which we could see in the distance. I watched him for some
time, until I saw him enter them, and then, with a sigh that one so
young and talented should be lost from amongst us, and a regret that
we did not forcibly prevent his going, I sat myself down, distressed
and melancholy. We all listened anxiously to hear the report of the
gun; but no sound reaching our ears, we began to hope that he had
failed in finding the animal, and in about fifteen minutes, to my
inexpressible relief, we saw him emerge from the copse, and bend his
steps slowly towards us. When he came in, he seemed disappointed,
and somewhat angry. He said he had searched the bushes in every
direction, and although he had found numerous footprints, no bear
was to be seen. It is probable that when I commenced my retreat in
one direction, bruin made off in the other, and that although he was
willing to dispute the ground with me, and prevent my {101} passing
his lair, he was equally willing to back out of an engagement in
which his fears suggested that he might come off the loser.

This evening, as we sat around the camp fire, cozily wrapped in
our blankets, some of our old hunters became garrulous, and we had
several good "_yarns_," as a sailor would say. One told of his
having been shot by a Blackfoot Indian, who was disguised in the
skin of an elk, and exhibited, with some little pride, a great
cicatrix which disfigured his neck. Another gave us an interesting
account of an attack made by the Comanche Indians upon a party of
Santa-Fee traders, to which he had been attached. The white men,
as is usual in general engagements with Indians, gained a signal
victory, not, however, without the loss of several of their best
hunters; and the old man who told the story,--"uncle John," as he
was usually called,--shed tears at the recollection of the death
of his friends; and during that part of his narrative, was several
times so much affected as to be unable to speak.[117]

  [117] I have repeatedly observed these exhibitions of feeling in
  some of our people upon particular occasions, and I have been
  pleased with them, as they seemed to furnish an evidence, that amid
  all the mental sterility, and absence of moral rectitude, which is
  so deplorably prevalent, there yet lingers some kindliness of heart,
  some sentiments which are not wholly depraved.--TOWNSEND.

The best story, however, was one told by Richardson, of a meeting he
once had with three Blackfeet Indians. He had been out alone hunting
buffalo, and towards the end of the day was returning to the camp
with his meat, when he heard the clattering of hoofs in the rear,
and, upon looking back, observed three Indians in hot pursuit of him.

He immediately _discharged his cargo_ of meat to lighten his horse,
and then urged the animal to his utmost speed, in an attempt to
distance his pursuers. He soon discovered, however, that the enemy
was rapidly gaining upon him, and that in a few {102} minutes
more, he would be completely at their mercy, when he hit upon an
expedient, as singular as it was bold and courageous. Drawing his
long scalping knife from the sheath at his side, he plunged the
keen weapon through his horse's neck, and severed the spine. The
animal dropped instantly dead, and the determined hunter, throwing
himself behind the fallen carcass, waited calmly the approach of
his sanguinary pursuers. In a few moments, one Indian was within
range of the fatal rifle, and at its report, his horse galloped
riderless over the plain. The remaining two then thought to take
him at advantage by approaching simultaneously on both sides of his
rampart; but one of them, happening to venture too near in order
to be sure of his aim, was shot to the heart by the long pistol of
the white man, at the very instant that the ball from the Indian's
gun whistled harmlessly by. The third savage, being wearied of
the dangerous game, applied the whip vigorously to the flanks of
his horse, and was soon out of sight, while Richardson set about
collecting the trophies of his singular victory.

He caught the two Indians' horses; mounted one, and loaded the other
with the meat which he had discarded, and returned to his camp with
two spare rifles, and a good stock of ammunition.

On the morning of the 25th, we commenced baling up our meat in
buffalo skins dried for the purpose. Each bale contains about
a hundred pounds, of which a mule carries two; and when we had
finished, our twelve long-eared friends were loaded. Our limited
term of absence is now nearly expired, and we are anxious to return
to the fort in order to prepare for the journey to the lower country.

At about 10 o'clock, we left our pleasant encampment, and bade
adieu to the cold spring, the fat buffalo, and grizzly bears, and
urging our mules into their fastest walk, we jolted along with our
_provant_ towards the fort.

{103} In about an hour after, an unpleasant accident happened to
one of our men, named McCarey. He had been running a buffalo, and
was about reloading the gun, which he had just discharged, when
the powder in his horn was ignited by a burning wad remaining in
the barrel; the horn was burst to fragments, the poor man dashed
from his horse, and his face, neck, and hands, burnt in a shocking
manner. We applied, immediately, the simple remedies which our
situation and the place afforded, and in the course of an hour
he was somewhat relieved, and travelled on with us, though in
considerable suffering. His eyes were entirely closed, the lids very
much swollen, and his long, flowing hair, patriarchal beard and
eye-brows, had all vanished in smoke. It will be long ere he gets
another such crop.

The weather here is generally uncomfortably warm, so much so,
that we discard, while travelling, all such encumbrances as coats,
neckcloths, &c., but the nights are excessively cold, ice often
forming in the camp kettles, of the thickness of half an inch, or
more. My custom has generally been to roll myself in my blanket at
night, and use my large coat as a pillow; but here the coat must be
worn, and my saddle has to serve the purpose to which the coat is
usually applied.

We travelled, this day, thirty miles, and the next afternoon, at 4
o'clock, arrived at the fort. On the route we met three hunters,
whom Captain W. had sent to kill game for the camp. They informed us
that all hands have been for several days on short allowance, and
were very anxious for our return.

When we came in sight of the fort, we gave them a mountain salute,
each man firing his gun in quick succession. They did not expect us
until to-morrow, and the firing aroused them instantly. In a very
few minutes, a score of men were armed and mounted, and dashing
out to give battle to the advancing Indians, as they thought us.
The general supposition was, that {104} their little hunting party
had been attacked by a band of roving Blackfeet, and they made
themselves ready for the rescue in a space of time that did them
great credit.

It was perhaps "_bad medicine_," (to use the mountain phrase,) to
fire a salute at all, inasmuch as it excited some unnecessary alarm,
but it had the good effect to remind them that danger might be near
when they least expected it, and afforded them an opportunity of
showing the promptness and alacrity with which they could meet and
brave it.

Our people were all delighted to see us arrive, and I could perceive
many a longing and eager gaze cast upon the well filled bales, as
our mules swung their little bodies through the camp. My companion,
Mr. N., had become so exceedingly thin that I should scarcely have
known him; and upon my expressing surprise at the great change in
his appearance, he heaved a sigh of inanity, and remarked that I
"would have been as thin as he if I had lived on old _Ephraim_ for
two weeks, and short allowance of that." I found, in truth, that
the whole camp had been subsisting, during our absence, on little
else than two or three grizzly bears which had been killed in the
neighborhood; and with a complacent glance at my own rotund and
_cow-fed_ person, I wished my _poor_ friend better luck for the
future.

We found Mr. McKay's company encamped on the bank of the river
within a few hundred yards of our tents. It consists of thirty men,
thirteen of whom are Indians, Nez Percés, Chinooks and Kayouse,[118]
with a few squaws. The remainder are French-Canadians, and
half-breeds. Their lodges,--of which there are several,--are of a
conical form, composed of ten long poles, the lower ends of which
are pointed and driven into the ground; the upper blunt, and drawn
together at the top by thongs. Around these poles, several dressed
buffalo skins, sewed together, are stretched, a hole being left on
one side for entrance.

  [118] For the Chinook, see Franchère's _Narrative_ in our volume
  vi, p. 240, note 40; for the Cayuse, Ross's _Oregon Settlers_, our
  volume vii, p. 137, note 37.--ED.

These are the kind of lodges universally used by the mountain {105}
Indians while travelling: they are very comfortable and commodious,
and a squaw accustomed to it, will erect and prepare one for the
reception of her husband, while he is removing the trapping, from
his horse. I have seen an expert Indian woman stretch a lodge in
half the time that was required by four white men to perform the
same operation with another in the neighborhood.

At the fort, affairs look prosperous: the stockade is finished;
two bastions have been erected, and the work is singularly good,
considering the scarcity of proper building tools. The house will
now soon be habitable, and the structure can then be completed at
leisure by men who will be left here in charge, while the party
travels on to its destination, the Columbia.

On the evening of the 26th, Captain W., Mr. Nuttall and myself
supped with Mr. McKay in his lodge. I am much pleased with this
gentleman: he unites the free, frank and open manners of the
mountain man, with the grace and affability of the Frenchman. But
above all, I admire the order, decorum, and strict subordination
which exists among his men, so different from what I have been
accustomed to see in parties composed of Americans. Mr. McKay
assures me that he had considerable difficulty in bringing his men
to the state in which they now are. The free and fearless Indian
was particularly difficult to subdue; but steady, determined
perseverance, and bold measures, aided by a rigid self-example, made
them as clay in his hand, and has finally reduced them to their
present admirable condition. If they misbehaved, a commensurate
punishment is sure to follow: in extreme cases, flagellation is
resorted to, but it is inflicted only by the hand of the Captain;
were any other appointed to perform this office _on an Indian_, the
indignity would be deemed so great, that nothing less than the blood
of the individual could appease the wounded feelings of the savage.

{106} After supper was concluded, we sat ourselves down on a
buffalo robe at the entrance of the lodge, to see the Indians at
their devotions. The whole thirteen were soon collected at the
call of one whom they had chosen for their chief, and seated with
sober, sedate countenances around a large fire. After remaining in
perfect silence for perhaps fifteen minutes, the chief commenced
an harangue in a solemn and impressive tone, reminding them of the
object for which they were thus assembled, that of worshipping the
"Great Spirit who made the light and the darkness, the fire and
the water," and assured them that if they offered up their prayers
to him with but "one tongue," they would certainly be accepted. He
then rose from his squatting position to his knees, and his example
was followed by all the others. In this situation he commenced a
prayer, consisting of short sentences uttered rapidly but with
great apparent fervor, his hands clasped upon his breast, and his
eyes cast upwards with a beseeching look towards heaven. At the
conclusion of each sentence, a choral response of a few words was
made, accompanied frequently by low moaning. The prayer lasted about
twenty minutes. After its conclusion, the chief, still maintaining
the same position of his body and hands, but with his head bent to
his breast, commenced a kind of psalm or sacred song, in which the
whole company presently joined. The song was a simple expression of
a few sounds, no intelligible words being uttered. It resembled the
words, _Ho-h[)a]-ho-h[)a]-ho-h[)a]-hã-ã_, commencing in a low tone,
and gradually swelling to a full, round, and beautifully modulated
chorus. During the song, the clasped hands of the worshippers were
moved rapidly across the breast, and their bodies swung with great
energy to the time of the music. The chief ended the song that he
had commenced, by a kind of swelling groan, which was echoed in
chorus. It was then taken up by another, and the same routine was
gone {107} through. The whole ceremony occupied perhaps, one and a
half hours; a short silence then succeeded, after which each Indian
rose from the ground, and disappeared in the darkness with a step
noiseless as that of a spectre.

I think I never was more gratified by any exhibition in my life. The
humble, subdued, and beseeching looks of the poor untutored beings
who were calling upon their heavenly father to forgive their sins,
and continue his mercies to them, and the evident and heart-felt
sincerity which characterized the whole scene, was truly affecting,
and very impressive.

The next day being the Sabbath, our good missionary, Mr. Jason Lee,
was requested to hold a meeting, with which he obligingly complied.
A convenient, shady spot was selected in the forest adjacent, and
the greater part of our men, as well as the whole of Mr. McKay's
company, including the Indians, attended. The usual forms of
the Methodist service, (to which Mr. L. is attached,) were gone
through, and were followed by a brief, but excellent and appropriate
exhortation by that gentleman. The people were remarkably quiet
and attentive, and the Indians sat upon the ground like statues.
Although not one of them could understand a word that was said,
they nevertheless maintained the most strict and decorous silence,
kneeling when the preacher kneeled, and rising when he rose,
evidently with a view of paying him and us a suitable respect,
however much their own notions as to the proper and most acceptable
forms of worship, might have been opposed to ours.

A meeting for worship in the Rocky mountains is almost as unusual as
the appearance of a herd of buffalo in the settlements. A sermon was
perhaps never preached here before; but for myself, I really enjoyed
the whole scene; it possessed the charm {108} of novelty, to say
nothing of the salutary effect which I sincerely hope it may produce.

Mr. Lee is a great favorite with the men, deservedly so, and there
are probably few persons to whose preaching they would have listened
with so much complaisance. I have often been amused and pleased by
Mr. L.'s manner of reproving them for the coarseness and profanity
of expression which is so universal amongst them. The reproof,
although decided, clear, and strong, is always characterized by the
mildness and affectionate manner peculiar to the man; and although
the good effect of the advice may not be discernible, yet it is
always treated with respect, and its utility acknowledged.

In the evening, a fatal accident happened to a Canadian belonging
to Mr. McKay's party. He was running his horse, in company with
another, when the animals were met in full career by a third rider,
and horses and men were thrown with great force to the ground. The
Canadian was taken up completely senseless, and brought to Mr.
McKay's lodge, where we were all taking supper. I perceived at
once that there was little chance of his life being saved. He had
received an injury of the head which had evidently caused concussion
of the brain. He was bled copiously, and various local remedies were
applied, but without success; the poor man died early next morning.

He was about forty years of age, healthy, active, and shrewd, and
very much valued by Mr. McKay as a leader in his absence, and as an
interpreter among the Indians of the Columbia.

At noon the body was interred. It was wrapped in a piece of coarse
linen, over which was sewed a buffalo robe. The spot selected,
was about a hundred yards south of the fort, and the funeral was
attended by the greater part of the men of both camps. Mr. Lee
officiated in performing the ordinary church {109} ceremony, after
which a hymn for the repose of the soul of the departed, was sung by
the Canadians present. The grave is surrounded by a neat palisade of
willows, with a black cross erected at the head, on which is carved
the name "_Casseau_."[119]

  [119] According to Wyeth's journal his name was Kanseau, and the
  services were Protestant, Catholic, and Indian--"as he had an Indian
  family; he at least was well buried."--ED.



{110} CHAPTER VII

     Departure of Mr. McKay's party, Captain Stewart, and
     the missionaries--Debauch at the fort--Departure of the
     company--Poor provision--Blackfeet hunting ground--A toilsome
     journey, and sufferings from thirst--Goddin's creek--Antoine
     Goddin, the trapper--Scarcity of game--A buffalo--Rugged
     mountains--Comforting reflections of the traveller--More
     game--Unusual economy--Habits of the white wolf--"Thornburg's
     pass"--Difficult travelling--The captain in jeopardy among
     the snow--A countermarch--Deserted Banneck camp--Toilsome
     and dangerous passage of the mountain--Mallade river--Beaver
     dams, and beaver--A party of Snake Indians--Scarcity of
     pasture--Another Banneck camp--"Kamas prairie"--Indian mode of
     preparing the kamas--Racine blanc, or biscuit root--Travelling
     over the hills--Loss of horses by fatigue--Boisée or Big-wood
     river--Salmon--Choke-cherries, &c.


On the 30th of July, Mr. McKay and his party left us for Fort
Vancouver, Captain Stewart and our band of missionaries accompanying
them. The object of the latter in leaving us, is, that they may
have an opportunity of travelling more slowly than we should do, on
account, and for the benefit of the horned cattle which they are
driving to the lower country. We feel quite sad in the prospect of
parting from those with whom we have endured some toil and danger,
and who have been to some of us as brothers, throughout our tedious
journey; but, if no unforeseen accident occurs, we hope to meet them
all again at Walla-Walla, the upper fort on the Columbia. As the
party rode off, we fired three rounds, which were promptly answered,
and three times three cheers wished the travellers success.

_August 5th._--At sunrise this morning, the "star-spangled banner"
was raised on the flag-staff at the fort, and a salute {111} fired
by the men, who, according to orders, assembled around it. All in
camp were then allowed the free and uncontrolled use of liquor,
and, as usual, the consequence was a scene of rioting, noise, and
fighting, during the whole day; some became so drunk that their
senses fled them entirely, and they were therefore harmless; but by
far the greater number were just sufficiently under the influence
of the vile trash, to render them in their conduct disgusting and
tiger-like. We had "gouging," biting, fisticuffing, and "stamping"
in the most "scientific" perfection; some even fired guns and
pistols at each other, but these weapons were mostly harmless in
the unsteady hands which employed them. Such scenes I hope never to
witness again; they are absolutely sickening, and cause us to look
upon our species with abhorrence and loathing. Night at last came,
and cast her mantle over our besotted camp; the revel was over, and
the men retired to their pallets peaceably, but not a few of them
will bear palpable evidence of the debauch of the 5th of August.

The next morning we commenced packing, and at 11 o'clock bade adieu
to "Fort Hall."[120] Our company now consists of but thirty men,
several Indian women, and one hundred and sixteen horses. We crossed
the main Snake or Shoshoné river, at a point about three miles from
the fort. It is here as wide as the Missouri at Independence, but,
beyond comparison, clearer and more beautiful.

  [120] Upon leaving Fort Hall, the usual trail followed the valley of
  the Lewis (or Snake) to Fort Boise. Wyeth, however, struck directly
  northwest across the Snake River Desert, past the Three Buttes.
  Godin's Creek was what is now known as Lost River, from having no
  outlet.--ED.

Immediately on crossing the river, we entered upon a wide, sandy
plain, thickly covered with wormwood, and early in the afternoon,
encamped at the head of a delightful spring, about ten miles from
our starting place.

On the route, our hunters killed a young grizzly bear, which, with
a few grouse, made us an excellent dinner. Fresh meat is now very
grateful to our palates, as we have been living for weeks past on
nothing but poor, dried buffalo, the better, and {112} far the
larger part, having been deposited in the fort for the subsistence
of the men who remain. We have no flour, nor vegetables of any kind,
and our meat may be aptly compared to dry chips, breaking short off
in our fingers; and when boiled to soften it a little, and render
it fit for mastication, not a star appears in the pot. It seems
astonishing that life can be sustained upon such miserable fare, and
yet our men (except when under the influence of liquor) have never
murmured, but have always eaten their crusty meal, and drunk their
cold water with light and excellent spirits. We hope soon to fall in
with the buffalo, and we shall then endeavor to prepare some good
provision to serve until we reach the salmon region.

We shall now, for about ten days, be travelling through the most
dangerous country west of the mountains, the regular hunting ground
of the Blackfeet Indians, who are said to be often seen here in
parties of hundreds, or even thousands, scouring the plains in
pursuit of the buffalo. Traders, therefore, seldom travel this route
without meeting them, and being compelled to prove their valor upon
them; the white men are, however, generally the victors, although
their numbers are always vastly inferior.

_7th._--We were moving this morning with the dawn, and travelled
steadily the whole day, over one of the most arid plains we have
seen, covered thickly with jagged masses of lava, and twisted
wormwood bushes. Both horses and men were jaded to the last degree;
the former from the rough, and at times almost impassable nature of
the track, and the latter from excessive heat and parching thirst.
We saw not a drop of water during the day, and our only food was
the dried meat before spoken of, which we carried, and chewed
like biscuits as we travelled. There are two reasons by which the
extreme thirst which the way-farer suffers in these regions, may be
accounted {113} for; first, the intense heat of the sun upon the
open and exposed plains; and secondly, the desiccation to which
every thing here is subject. The air feels like the breath of a
sirocco, the tongue becomes parched and horny, and the mouth, nose,
and eyes are incessantly assailed by the fine pulverized lava,
which rises from the ground with the least breath of air. Bullets,
pebbles of chalcedony, and pieces of smooth obsidian, were in great
requisition to-day; almost every man was mumbling some of these
substances, in an endeavor to assuage his burning thirst. The camp
trailed along in a lagging and desponding line over the plain for
a mile or more, the poor horses' heads hanging low, their tongues
protruding to their utmost extent, and their riders scarcely less
drooping and spiritless. We were a sad and most forlorn looking
company, certainly; not a man of us had any thing to say, and none
cared to be interrupted in his blissful dream of cool rivers and
streams. Occasionally we would pass a ravine or gorge in the hills,
by which one side of the plain was bounded, and up this some of
the men would steer, leaping over blocks of lava, and breaking a
path through the dense bushes; but the poor searcher soon returned,
disheartened and wo-begone, and those who had waited anxiously to
hear his cheering call, announcing success, passed onward without a
word. One of our men, a mulatto, after failing in a forage of this
sort, cast himself resolutely from his horse to the ground, and
declared that he would lie there till he died; "there was no water
in the cursed country and he might as well die here as go farther."
Some of us tried to infuse a little courage into him, but it proved
of no avail, and each was too much occupied with his own particular
grief to use his tongue much in persuasion; so we left him to his
fate.

Soon after night-fall, some signs of water were seen in a small
valley to our left, and, upon ascending it, the foremost of the
party found a delightful little cold spring; but they soon exhausted
{114} it, and then commenced, with axes and knives, to dig it out
and enlarge it. By the time that Mr. N., and myself arrived, they
had excavated a large space which was filled to overflowing with
muddy water. We did not wait for it to settle, however, but throwing
ourselves flat upon the ground, drank until we were ready to burst.
The tales which I had read of suffering travellers in the Arabian
deserts, then recurred with some force to my recollection, and
I thought I could,--though in a very small measure,--appreciate
their sufferings by deprivation, and their unmingled delight and
satisfaction in the opportunity of assuaging them.

Poor Jim, the mulatto man, was found by one of the people, who went
back in search of him, lying where he had first fallen, and either
in a real or pretended swoon, still obstinate about dying, and
scarcely heeding the assurances of the other that water was within
a mile of him. He was, however, at length dragged and carried into
camp, and soused head foremost into the mud puddle, where he guzzled
and guzzled until his eyes seemed ready to burst from his head, and
he was lifted out and laid dripping and flaccid upon the ground.

The next morning we made an early start towards a range of willows
which we could distinctly see, at the distance of fifteen or twenty
miles, and which we knew indicated Goddin's creek, so called from
a Canadian of that name who was killed in this vicinity by the
Blackfeet. Goddin's son, a half-breed, is now with us as a trapper;
he is a fine sturdy fellow, and of such strength of limb and wind,
that he is said to be able to run down a buffalo on foot, and kill
him with arrows.

Goddin's creek was at length gained, and after travelling a few
miles along its bank we encamped in some excellent pasture. Our poor
horses seemed inclined to make up for lost time here, as yesterday
their only food was the straggling blades of a little {115} dry and
parched grass growing among the wormwood on the hills.

We have been considerably disappointed in not seeing any buffalo
to-day, and their absence here has occasioned some fear that we
may not meet with them on our route. Should this be the case, we
shall have to depend upon such small game, hares, grouse, &c.,
as may happen to lie in our path. In a short time, however, even
this resource will fail; and if we do not happen to see Indians on
the upper waters of the Columbia, from whom we can purchase dried
salmon, we shall be under the necessity of killing our horses for
food.

We perhaps derive one advantage, however, from the absence of game
here,--that of there being less probability of lurking Blackfeet in
the vicinity; but this circumstance, convenient as it is, does not
compensate for empty stomachs, and I believe the men would rather
fight for the privilege of obtaining food, than live without it.

The next morning we left Goddin's creek, and travelled for ten
miles over a plain, covered as usual with wormwood bushes and lava.
Early in the day, the welcome cry of "a buffalo! a buffalo!" was
heard from the head of the company, and was echoed joyfully along
the whole line. At the moment, a fine large bull was seen to bound
from the bushes in our front, and tear off with all his speed over
the plain. Several hunters gave him chase immediately, and in a few
minutes we heard the guns that proclaimed his death. The killing
of this animal is a most fortunate circumstance for us: his meat
will probably sustain us for three or four days, and by that time we
are sanguine of procuring other provision. The appearance of this
buffalo is not considered indicative of the vicinity of others: he
is probably a straggler from a travelling band, and has been unable
to proceed with it, in consequence of sickness or wounds.

{116} On leaving the plain this morning, we struck into a defile
between some of the highest mountains we have yet seen. In a short
time we commenced ascending, and continued passing over them, until
late in the afternoon, when we reached a plain about a mile in
width, covered with excellent grass, and a delightful cool stream
flowing through the middle of it. Here we encamped, having travelled
twenty-seven miles.

Our journey, to-day, has been particularly laborious. We were
engaged for several hours, constantly in ascending and descending
enormous rocky hills, with scarcely the sign of a valley between
them; and some of them so steep, that our horses were frequently
in great danger of falling, by making a mis-step on the loose,
rolling stones. I thought the Black Hills, on the Platte, rugged
and difficult of passage, but they sink into insignificance when
compared with these.[121]

  [121] These mountains--in Custer County, Idaho, between the
  different branches of Lost River--have apparently no local name that
  has been cartographically recorded; they lie between the Sawtooth
  and Lost River ranges.--ED.

We observed, on these mountains, large masses of green-stone,
and beautiful pebbles of chalcedony and fine agate; the summits
of the highest are covered with snow. In the mountain passes, we
found an abundance of large, yellow currants, rather acid, but
exceedingly palatable to men who have been long living on animal
food exclusively. We all ate heartily of them; indeed, some of
our people became so much attached to the bushes, that we had
considerable difficulty to induce them to travel again.

_10th_.--We commenced our march at seven this morning, proceeding
up a narrow valley, bordering our encampment in a north-easterly
direction. The ravine soon widened, until it became a broad, level
plain, covered by the eternal "sage" bushes, but was much less stony
than usual. About mid-day, we left the plain, and shaped our course
over a spur of one of the large mountains; then taking a ravine, in
about an hour we came to the level land, and struck Goddin's creek
again, late in the afternoon.

Our provision was all exhausted at breakfast, this morning, {117}
(most of our bull meat having been given to a band of ten trappers,
who left us yesterday,) we had seen no game on our route, and we
were therefore preparing ourselves to retire supperless to our
pallets, when Richardson and Sansbury were descried approaching
the camp and, to our great comfort, we observed that they had meat
on their saddles. When they arrived, however, we were somewhat
disappointed to find that they had only killed a calf, but they had
brought the entire little animal with them, the time for picking and
choosing of choice pieces having passed with us; and after making a
hearty meal, we wrapped ourselves in our blankets and slept soundly.
Although but a scant breakfast was left for us in the morning, and
we knew not if any dinner would fall in our way, yet "none of these
things moved us;" we lived altogether upon the present, and heeded
not the future. We had always been provided for; often, when we had
despaired of procuring sustenance, and when the pangs of hunger had
soured our temper, and made us quarrelsome, when we thought there
was no prospect before us but to sacrifice our valuable horses, or
die of starvation, have the means been provided for our relief. A
buffalo, an elk, or an antelope, has appeared like the goat provided
for the faithful Abraham, to save a more valuable life, and I hope
that some of us have been willing, reverently to acknowledge from
whom these benefits and blessings have been received.

On the day following, Richardson killed two buffalo, and brought his
horse heavily laden with meat to the camp. Our good hunter walked
himself, that the animal might be able to bear the greater burthen.
After depositing the meat in the camp, he took a fresh horse, and
accompanied by three men, returned to the spot where the game had
been killed, (about four miles distant,) and in the evening, brought
in every pound of it, leaving only the heavier bones. The wolves
will be disappointed this evening; they are accustomed to dainty
picking when they {118} glean after the hunters, but we have now
abandoned the "wasty ways" which so disgraced us when game was
abundant; the despised leg bone, which was wont to be thrown aside
with such contempt, is now polished of every tendon of its covering,
and the savory hump is used as a kind of _dessert_ after a meal of
coarser meat.

Speaking of wolves, I have often been surprised at the perseverance
and tenacity with which these animals will sometimes follow the
hunter for a whole day, to feed upon the carcass he may leave behind
him. When an animal is killed, they seem to mark the operation, and
stand still at a most respectful distance, with drooping tail and
ears, as though perfectly indifferent to the matter in progress.
Thus will they stand until the game is butchered, the meat placed
upon the saddle, and the hunter is mounted and on his way; then,
if he glances behind him, he will see the wily forager stealthily
crawling and prowling along towards the smoking remains, and
pouncing upon it, and tearing it with tooth and nail, immediately
as he gets out of reach.

During the day, the wolves are shy, and rarely permit an approach to
within gun-shot; but at night, (where game is abundant,) they are
so fearless as to come quite within the purlieus of the camp, and
there sit, a dozen together, and howl hideously for hours. This kind
of serenading, it may be supposed, is not the most agreeable; and
many a time when on guard, have I observed the unquiet tossing of
the bundles of blankets near me, and heard issue from them, the low,
husky voice of some disturbed sleeper, denouncing heavy anathemas on
the unseasonable music.

_12th._--We shaped our course, this morning, towards what appeared
to us a gap in a high and rugged mountain, about twenty miles
ahead. After proceeding eight or ten miles, the character of the
country underwent a remarkable and sudden change. Instead of the
luxuriant sage bushes, by which the {119} whole plains have hitherto
been covered, and the compact and dense growth of willows which
has uniformly fringed every stream and rivulet, the ground was
completely denuded; not a single shrub was to be seen, nor the
smallest appearance of vegetation, except in small patches near
the water. The mountains, also, which had generally been rocky,
and covered with low, tangled bushes, here abound in beautiful
and shapely pine trees. Some of the higher peaks are, however,
completely bare, and capped with enormous masses of snow.

After we had travelled about twelve miles, we entered a defile
between the mountains, about five hundred yards wide, covered, like
the surrounding country, with pines; and, as we proceeded, the
timber grew so closely, added to a thick undergrowth of bushes,
that it appeared almost impossible to proceed with our horses. The
farther we advanced, the more our difficulties seemed to increase;
obstacles of various kinds impeded our progress;--fallen trees,
their branches tangled and matted together, large rocks and deep
ravines, holes in the ground, into which our animals would be
precipitated without the possibility of avoiding them, and an
hundred other difficulties which beggar description.

We travelled for six miles through such a region as I have attempted
to describe, and at 2 o'clock encamped in a clear spot of ground,
where we found excellent grass, and a cold, rapid stream. Soon after
we stopped, Captain W. and Richardson left us, to look for a pass
through the mountains, or for a spot where it would be possible
to cross them. Strange as it may appear, yet in this desolate and
almost impassable region we have observed, to-day, the tracks of a
buffalo which must have passed here last night, or this morning;
at least so our hunters say, and they are rarely deceived in such
matters.

Captain W. and Richardson returned early next morning, with the
mortifying intelligence that no practicable pass through the {120}
mountain could be found. They ascended to the very summit of one
of the highest peaks, above the snow and the reach of vegetation,
and the only prospect which they had beyond, was a confused mass of
huge angular rocks, over which even a wild goat could scarcely have
made his way. Although they utterly failed in the object of their
exploration, yet they were so fortunate as to kill a buffalo, (_the_
buffalo,) the meat of which they brought on their horses.

Wyeth told us of a narrow escape he had while travelling on foot
near the summit of one of the peaks. He was walking on a ridge
which sloped from the top at an angle of about forty degrees, and
terminated, at its lower part, in a perpendicular precipice of a
thousand or twelve hundred feet. He was moving along in the snow
cautiously, near the lower edge, in order to attain a more level
spot beyond, when his feet slipped and he fell. Before he could
attempt to fix himself firmly, he slid down the declivity till
within a few feet of the frightful precipice. At the instant of his
fall, he had the presence of mind to plant the rifle which he held
in one hand, and his knife which he drew from the scabbard with
the other, into the snow, and as he almost tottered on the verge,
he succeeded in checking himself, and holding his body perfectly
still. He then gradually moved, first the rifle and then the knife,
backward up the slanting hill behind him, and fixing them firmly,
drew up his body parallel to them. In this way he moved slowly and
surely until he had gained his former station, when, without further
difficulty, he succeeded in reaching the more level land.

After a good breakfast, we packed our horses, and struck back on our
trail of yesterday, in order to try another valley which we observed
bearing parallel with this, at about three miles distant, and which
we conclude must of course furnish a path through the mountain.
Although our difficulties in returning by the same wretched route
were very considerable, yet they were {121} somewhat diminished by
the road having been partially broken, and we were enabled also to
avoid many of the sloughs and pitfalls which had before so much
incommoded us. We have named this rugged valley, "Thornburg's
_pass_," after one of our men of this name, (a tailor,) whom we have
to thank for leading us into all these troubles. Thornburg crossed
this mountain two years ago, and might therefore be expected to know
something of the route, and as he was the only man in the company
who had been here, Captain W. acted by his advice, in opposition
to his own judgment, which had suggested the other valley as
affording a more probable chance of success. As we are probably
the only white men who have ever penetrated into this most vile and
abominable region, we conclude that the name we have given it must
stand, from priority.[122]

  [122] The expedition apparently followed the east fork of Lost
  River, into a maze of mountains known locally as the "Devil's
  Bedstead."--ED.

In the bushes, along the stream in this valley, the black-tailed
deer (_Cervus macrourus_) is abundant. The beautiful creatures
frequently bounded from their cover within a few yards of us,
and trotted on before us like domestic animals; "they are so
unacquainted with man" and his cruel arts, that they seem not to
fear him.

We at length arrived on the open plain again, and in our route
towards the other valley, we came to a large, recent Indian
encampment, probably of Bannecks,[123] who are travelling down to
{122} the fisheries on Snake river. We here took their trail which
led up the valley to which we had been steering. The entrance was
very similar in appearance to that of Thornburg's pass, and it
is therefore not very surprising that our guide should have been
deceived. We travelled rapidly along the level land at the base of
the mountain, for about three miles; we then began to ascend, and
our progress was necessarily slow and tedious. The commencement of
the Alpine path was, however, far better than we had expected,
and we entertained the hope that the passage could be made without
difficulty or much toil, but the farther we progressed, the more
laborious the travelling became. Sometimes we mounted steep banks
of intermingled flinty rock, and friable slate, where our horses
could scarcely obtain a footing, frequently sliding down several
feet on the loose, broken stones:--again we passed along the extreme
verge of tremendous precipices at a giddy height, whereat almost
every step the stones and earth would roll from under our horses'
feet, and we could hear them strike with a dull, leaden sound on
the craggy rocks below. The whole journey, to-day, from the time
we arrived at the heights, until we had crossed the mountain, has
been a most fearful one. For myself, I might have diminished the
danger very considerably, by adopting the plan pursued by the rest
of the company, that of walking, and leading my horse over the
most dangerous places, but I have been suffering for several days
with a lame foot, and am wholly incapable of such exertion. I soon
discovered that an attempt to guide my horse over the most rugged
and steepest ranges was worse than useless, so I dropped the rein
upon the animal's neck, and allowed him to take his own course,
closing my eyes, and keeping as quiet as possible in the saddle. But
I could not forbear {123} starting occasionally, when the feet of my
horse would slip on a stone, and one side of him would slide rapidly
towards the edge of the precipice, but I always recovered myself by
a desperate effort, and it was fortunate for me that I did so.

  [123] We afterwards learned, that only three days before our
  arrival, a hard contested, and most sanguinary battle, had been
  fought on this spot, between the Bannecks and Blackfeet, in which
  the former gained a signal and most complete victory, killing
  upwards of forty of their adversaries, and taking about three dozen
  scalps. The Blackfeet, although much the larger party, were on
  foot, but the Bannecks, being all well mounted, had a very decided
  advantage; and the contest occurring on an open plain, where there
  was no chance of cover, the Blackfeet were run down with horses,
  and, without being able to load their guns, were trampled to death,
  or killed with salmon spears and axes.

  This was not the first time that we narrowly escaped a contest with
  this savage and most dreaded tribe. If we had passed there but a few
  days earlier, there is every probability to suppose that we should
  have been attacked, as our party at that time consisted of but
  twenty-six men.--TOWNSEND.

Late in the afternoon, we completed the passage across the mountain,
and with thankful hearts, again trod the level land. We entered here
a fine rich valley or plain, of about half a mile in width, between
two ranges of the mountain. It was profusely covered with willow,
and through the middle of it, ran a rapid and turbulent mountain
torrent, called Mallade river.[124] It contains a great abundance
of beaver, their recent dams being seen in great numbers, and in
the night, when all was quiet, we could hear the playful animals at
their gambols, diving from the shore into the water, and striking
the surface with their broad tails. The sound, altogether, was
not unlike that of children at play, and the animated description
of a somewhat similar scene, in the "Mohicans," recurred to my
recollection, where the single-minded Gamut is contemplating with
feelings of strong reprobation, the wayward freaks of what he
supposes to be a bevy of young savages.

  [124] According to Wyeth's account, the expedition retraced their
  steps to the forks of the river, then followed the south branch,
  passing over the mountains which form the boundary between Custer
  and Blaine counties, Idaho, and emerging on Trail Creek, the
  affluent of the Malade, which joins the main stream at Ketchum, the
  present terminus of the Wood River branch of the Oregon Short Line
  railway.--ED.

14th.--We travelled down the Mallade river,[125] and followed the
Indian trail through the valley. The path frequently passed along
near the base of the mountain, and then wound its way a considerable
distance up it, to avoid rocky impediments and thick tangled bushes
below, so that we had some climbing to do; but the difficulties and
perils of the route of yesterday are still so fresh in our memory,
that all minor things are disregarded, at least by _us_. Our poor
horses, however, no doubt feel differently, as they are very tired
and foot sore.

  [125] Malade (or Wood) River is a northern tributary of Lewis in
  Blaine County, Idaho. The mining town of Hailey is upon its banks.
  It was named Rivière des Malades (Sick Men's River) by Alexander
  Ross, who trapped upon it in 1824, and whose men fell ill from
  eating beaver that had fed upon a poisonous root. See Ross, _Fur
  Hunters_ (London, 1855), ii, pp. 114-116.--ED.

The next day we came to a close and almost impenetrable thicket of
tangled willows, through which we had great difficulty in urging
our horses. The breadth of the thicket was {124} about one hundred
yards, and a full hour was consumed in passing through it. We then
entered immediately a rich and beautiful valley, covered profusely
with a splendid blue Lupin. The mountains on either side are of much
less height than those we have passed, and entirely bare, the pine
trees which generally cover and ornament them, having disappeared.
During the morning, we ascended and descended several high and stony
hills, and early in the afternoon, emerged upon a large, level
prairie, and struck a branch of Mallade river, where we encamped.

While we were unloading, we observed a number of Indians ahead, and
not being aware of their character, stood with our horses saddled,
while Captain W. and Richardson rode out to reconnoitre. In about
half an hour they returned, and informed us that they were _Snakes_
who were returning from the fisheries, and travelling towards the
buffalo on the "big river," (Shoshoné.) We therefore unsaddled our
poor jaded horses and turned them out to feed upon the luxuriant
pasture around the camp, while we, almost equally jaded, threw
ourselves down in our blankets to seek a little repose and quiet
after the toils and fatigues of a long day's march.

Soon after we encamped, the Snake chief and two of his young men
visited us. We formed a circle around our lodge and smoked the
pipe of peace with them, after which we made them each a present
of a yard of scarlet cloth for leggings, some balls and powder, a
knife, and a looking glass. Captain W. then asked them a number
of questions, through an interpreter, relative to the route, the
fishery, &c. &c.,--and finally bought of them a small quantity of
dried salmon, and a little fermented kamas or _quamash_ root. The
Indians remained with us until dark, and then left us quietly
for their own camp. There are two lodges of them, in all about
twenty persons, but none of them presumed to come near us, with the
exception of the three men, two {125} squaws, and a few children.
The chief is a man about fifty years of age, tall, and dignified
looking, with large, strong aqualine features. His manners were
cordial and agreeable, perhaps remarkably so, and he exhibited
very little of that stoical indifference to surrounding objects
which is so characteristic of an Indian. His dress consisted of
plain leggings of deer skin, fringed at the sides, unembroidered
moccasins, and a _marro_ or waist-covering of antelope skin dressed
without removing the hair. The upper part of his person was simply
covered with a small blanket, and his ears were profusely ornamented
with brass rings and beads. The men and squaws who accompanied him,
were entirely naked, except that the latter had marros of deer skin
covering the loins.

The next morning we steered west across the wide prairie, crossing
within every mile or two, a branch of the tortuous Mallade, near
each of which good pasture was seen; but on the main prairie
scarcely a blade of grass could be found, it having lately been
fired by the Indians to improve the crops of next year. We have seen
to-day some lava and basalt again on the sides of the hills, and on
the mounds in the plain, but the level land was entirely free from
it.

At noon on the 17th, we passed a deserted Indian camp, probably of
the same people whose trail we have been following. There were many
evident signs of the Indians having but recently left it, among
which was that of several white wolves lurking around in the hope of
finding remnants of meat, but, as a Scotchman would say, "I doubt
they were mistaken," for meat is scarce here, and the frugal Indians
rarely leave enough behind them to excite even the famished stomach
of the lank and hungry wolf. The encampment here has been but a
temporary one, occupying a little valley densely overgrown with
willows, the tops of which have been bent over, and tied so as to
form a sort of lodge; over these, they have probably stretched deer
{126} skins or blankets, to exclude the rays of the sun. Of these
lodges there are about forty in the valley, so that the party must
have been a large one.

In the afternoon we arrived at "_Kamas prairie_," so called from
a vast abundance of this esculent root which it produces, (the
_Kamassa esculenta_, of Nuttall.)[126] The plain is a beautiful
level one of about a mile over, hemmed in by low, rocky hills, and
in spring, the pretty blue flowers of the Kamas are said to give
it a peculiar, and very pleasing appearance. At this season, the
flowers do not appear, the vegetable being indicated only by little
dry stems which protrude all over the ground among the grass.

  [126] After crossing the Malade, the expedition moved along one of
  its several western branches until reaching Camas Prairie, in Elmore
  County.

  Camas (quamash) is a bulbous root much used for food by the Indians
  of the Columbia. Its Shoshoni name is passheco. For further
  description consult Thwaites, _Original Journals of the Lewis and
  Clark Expedition_, iii, p. 78.--ED.

We encamped here, near a small branch of Mallade river; and soon
after, all hands took their kettles and scattered over the prairie
to dig a mess of kamas. We were, of course, eminently successful,
and were furnished thereby with an excellent and wholesome meal.
When boiled, this little root is palatable, and somewhat resembles
the taste of the common potato; the Indian mode of preparing it,
is, however, the best--that of fermenting it in pits under ground,
into which hot stones have been placed. It is suffered to remain
in these pits for several days; and when removed, is of a dark
brown color, about the consistence of softened glue, and sweet,
like molasses. It is then often made into large cakes, by being
mashed, and pressed together, and slightly baked in the sun. There
are several other kinds of bulbous and tuberous roots, growing in
these plains, which are eaten by the Indians, after undergoing a
certain process of fermentation or baking. Among these, that which
is most esteemed, is the white or biscuit root, the _Racine blanc_
of the Canadians,--(_Eulophus ambiguus_, of Nuttall.) This is dried,
pulverized with stones, and after being moistened with water, is
made into cakes and baked in the sun. The taste is not unlike that
of a stale {127} biscuit, and to a hungry man, or one who has long
subsisted without vegetables of any kind, is rather palatable.[127]

  [127] This root is probably the one usually spoken of by the
  French-Canadian trappers as "white-apple" (_pomme blanche_),
  or "swan-apple," and well known to scientists as _Psoralea
  esculenta_.--ED.

On the morning of the 18th, we commenced ascending the hills again,
and had a laborious and toilsome day's march. One of our poor
wearied horses gave up, and stopped; kicking, and cuffing, and
beating had no effect to make him move; the poor animal laid himself
down with his load, and after this was detached and shifted to the
back of another, we left him where he fell, to recruit, and fall
into the hands of the Indians, or die among the arid hills. This
is the first horse we have lost in this manner; but we have great
fears that many others will soon fail, as their riders and drivers
are compelled to use the whip constantly, to make them walk at the
slowest gait. We comfort ourselves, however, by supposing that we
have now nearly passed the most rugged country on the route, and
hope, before many days, to reach the valley of the Shoshoné, where
the country will be level, and the pasture good. We are anxious,
also, to fall in with the Snake Indians, in order to get a supply of
salmon, as we have been living for several days on a short allowance
of wretched, dry meat, and this poor pittance is now almost
exhausted.

_19th._--This morning was cold, the thermometer stood at 28°, and
a thick skim of ice was in the camp kettles at sunrise. Another
hard day's travel over the hills, during which we lost two of our
largest and stoutest horses. Towards evening, we descended to a
fine large plain, and struck _Boisée_, or Big Wood river, on the
borders of which we encamped.[128] This is a beautiful stream, about
one hundred yards in width, clear as crystal, and, in some parts,
probably twenty feet deep. It is literally _crowded_ with salmon,
which are springing from the water almost constantly. Our mouths are
watering most abundantly for some of them, but we are not provided
with suitable implements for {128} taking any, and must therefore
depend for a supply on the Indians, whom we hope soon to meet.

We found, in the mountain passes, to-day, a considerable quantity
of a small fruit called the choke-cherry, a species of prunus,
growing on low bushes. When ripe, they are tolerable eating,
somewhat astringent, however, producing upon the mouth the same
effect, though in a less degree, as the unripe persimmon. They are
now generally green, or we should feast luxuriantly upon them,
and render more tolerable our miserable provision. We have seen,
also, large patches of service bushes, but no fruit. It seems to
have failed this year, although ordinarily so abundant that it
constitutes a large portion of the vegetable food of both Indians
and white trappers who visit these regions.

  [128] Boise River is an important eastern affluent of Lewis, rising
  in the mountains of Blaine County, through which Townsend had just
  passed; it flows nearly west for about a hundred miles. Boise,
  the capital of Idaho, is upon its banks. Of the two forks which
  unite to form the main stream, Wyeth's expedition encountered the
  southern.--ED.



{129} CHAPTER VIII

     A substitute for game, and a luxurious breakfast--Expectations
     of a repast, and a disappointment--Visit of a Snake
     chief--his abhorrence of horse meat--A band of Snake
     Indians--their chief--Trade with Indians for salmon--Mr.
     Ashworth's adventure--An Indian horse-thief--Visit to the
     Snake camp--its filthiness--A Banneck camp--Supercilious
     conduct of the Indians--Arrival at Snake river--Equipment of
     a trapping party--Indian mode of catching salmon--Loss of a
     favorite horse--Powder river--Cut rocks--Recovery of the lost
     trail--Grand Ronde--Captain Bonneville--his fondness for a
     roving life--Kayouse and Nez Percé Indians--their appearance--An
     Indian Beauty--Blue mountains--A feline visit.


_August 20th._--At about daylight this morning, having charge of
the last guard of the night, I observed a beautiful, sleek little
_colt_, of about four months old, trot into the camp, whinnying with
great apparent pleasure, and dancing and curvetting gaily amongst
our sober and sedate band. I had no doubt that he had strayed from
Indians, who were probably in the neighborhood; but as here, every
animal that comes near us is fair game, and as we were hungry, not
having eaten any thing of consequence since yesterday morning, I
thought the little stranger would make a good breakfast for us.
Concluding, however, that it would be best to act advisedly in the
matter, I put my head into Captain W.'s tent, and telling him the
news, made the proposition which had occurred to me. The captain's
reply was encouraging enough,--"Down with him, if you please, Mr.
T., it is the Lord's doing; let us have him for breakfast." In five
minutes afterwards, a bullet sealed the fate of the unfortunate
visitor, and my men were set to work making fires, and rummaging
{130} out the long-neglected stew-pans, while I engaged myself in
flaying the little animal, and cutting up his body in readiness for
the pots.

When the camp was aroused, about an hour after, the savory steam
of the cookery was rising and saluting the nostrils of our hungry
people with its fragrance, who, rubbing their hands with delight,
sat themselves down upon the ground, waiting with what patience they
might, for the unexpected repast which was preparing for them.

It was to me almost equal to a good breakfast, to witness the
pleasure and satisfaction which I had been the means of diffusing
through the camp.

The repast was ready at length, and we did full justice to it;
every man ate until he was filled, and all pronounced it one of the
most delicious meals they had ever assisted in demolishing. When
our breakfast was concluded, but little of the colt remained; that
little was, however, carefully packed up, and deposited on one of
the horses, to furnish, at least, a portion of another meal.

The route, this morning, lay along Boisée. For an hour, the
travelling was toilsome and difficult, the Indian trail, leading
along the high bank of the river, steep and rocky, making our
progress very slow and laborious. We then came to a wide plain,
interrupted only by occasional high banks of earth, some of them of
considerable extent, across which ran the path. Towards mid-day, we
lost sight of these banks, the whole country appearing level, with
the exception of some distant hills in the south-west, which we
suppose indicate the vicinity of some part of Snake river.

We have all been disappointed in the distance to this river, and the
length of time required to reach it. Not a man in our camp has ever
travelled this route before, and all we have known about it has been
the general course.

{131} In the afternoon, we observed a number of Indians on the
opposite side of the river, engaged in fishing for salmon. Captain
W. and two men immediately crossed over to them, carrying with
them a few small articles to exchange for fish. We congratulated
ourselves upon our good fortune in seeing these Indians, and were
anticipating a plentiful meal, when Captain W. and his companions
returned, bringing only _three_ small salmon. The Indians had been
unsuccessful in fishing, not having caught enough for themselves,
and even the offer of exorbitant sums was not sufficient to induce
them to part with more.

In the afternoon, a grouse and a beaver were killed, which, added
to the remains of the colt, and our three little salmon, made us a
tolerable supper. While we were eating, we were visited by a Snake
chief, a large and powerful man, of a peculiarly dignified aspect
and manner. He was naked, with the exception of a small blanket
which covered his shoulders, and descended to the middle of the
back, being fastened around the neck with a silver skewer. As it
was pudding time with us, our visitor was of course invited to sit
and eat; and he, nothing loath, deposited himself at once upon
the ground, and made a remarkably vigorous assault upon the mixed
contents of the dish. He had not eaten long, however, before we
perceived a sudden and inexplicable change in his countenance, which
was instantly followed by a violent ejectment of a huge mouthful of
our luxurious fare. The man rose slowly, and with great dignity,
to his feet, and pronouncing the single word "_shekum_," (horse,)
in a tone of mingled anger and disgust, stalked rapidly out of the
camp, not even wishing us a good evening. It struck me as a singular
instance of accuracy and discrimination in the organs of taste. We
had been eating of the multifarious compound without being able to
recognize, by the taste, a single ingredient which it contained; a
stranger came amongst us, who did not know, when he {132} commenced
eating, that the dish was formed of more than one item, and yet in
less than five minutes he discovered one of the very least of its
component parts.

It would seem from this circumstance that the Indians, or it may
be the particular tribe to which this man belongs, are opposed to
the eating of horse flesh, and yet, the natural supposition would
be, that in the gameless country inhabited by them they would often
be reduced to such shifts, and thus readily conquer any natural
reluctance which they might feel to partake of such food. I did not
think until after he left us, that if the chief knew how the horse
meat he so much detested was procured, and where, he might probably
have expressed even more indignation, for it is not at all unlikely
that the colt had strayed from his own band.

_21st._--The timber along the river banks is plentiful, and often
attains a large size. It is chiefly of the species called balsam
poplar, (_Populus balsamifera_.)

Towards noon to-day, we observed ahead several groups of Indians,
perhaps twenty in each, and on the appearance of our cavalcade,
they manifested their joy at seeing us, by the most extravagant and
grotesque gestures, dancing and capering most ludicrously. Every
individual of them was perfectly naked, with the exception of a
small thong around the waist, to which was attached a square piece
of flannel, skin, or canvass, depending half way to the knees. Their
stature was rather below the middle height, but they were strongly
built and very muscular. Each man carried his salmon spear, and
these, with the knives stuck in their girdles, appeared to be their
only weapons, not one of them having a gun. As we neared them, the
first group ran towards us, crying "Shoshoné, Shoshoné," and caused
some delay by their eagerness to grasp our hands and examine our
garments. After one group had become satisfied with fingering {133}
us, we rode on and suffered the same process by the next, and so
on until we had passed the whole, every Indian crying with a loud
voice, "_Tabiboo sant, tabiboo sant!_" (white man is good, white man
is good.)

In a short time the chief joined us, and our party stopped for
an hour, and had a "talk" with him. He told us, in answer to our
questions, that his people had fish, and would give them for our
goods if we would sleep one night near their camp, and smoke with
them. No trade, of consequence, can ever be effected with Indians,
unless the pipe be first smoked, and the matter calmly and seriously
deliberated upon. An Indian chief would think his dignity seriously
compromised if he were expected to do _any thing_ in a hurry, much
less so serious a matter as a salmon or beaver trade; and if we had
refused his offered terms, he would probably have allowed us to
pass on, and denied himself the darling rings, bells, and paint,
rather than infringe a custom so long religiously practised by his
people. We were therefore inclined to humor our Snake friend, and
accordingly came to a halt, on the bank of the river.

The chief and several of his favored young braves sat with us on the
bank, and we smoked with them, the other Indians forming a large
circle around.

The chief is a man rather above the ordinary height, with a fine,
noble countenance, and remarkably large, prominent eyes. His person,
instead of being naked, as is usual, is clothed in a robe made of
the skin of the mountain sheep; a broad band made of large blue
beads, is fastened to the top of his head, and hangs over on his
cheeks, and around his neck is suspended the foot of a huge grizzly
bear. The possession of this uncouth ornament is considered among
them, a great honor, since none but those whose prowess has enabled
them to kill the animal, are allowed to wear it, and with their
weak and inefficient weapons, {134} the destruction of so fierce
and terrible a brute, is a feat that may well entitle them to some
distinction.

We remained two hours at the spot where we halted, and then passed
on about four miles, accompanied by the chief and his people, to
their camp, where we pitched our tents for the night. In a short
time the Indians came to us in great numbers, with bundles of dried
salmon in their arms, and a few recent ones. We commenced our
trading immediately, giving them in exchange, fish-hooks, beads,
knives, paint, &c., and before evening, had procured sufficient
provision for the consumption of our party until we arrive at the
falls of Snake river, where we are told we shall meet the Bannecks,
from whom we can doubtless trade a supply, which will serve us until
we reach Walla-walla.

While we were pursuing our trade, Richardson and Mr. Ashworth rode
into the camp, and I observed by the countenance of the latter, that
something unusual had occurred. I felt very certain that no ordinary
matter would be capable of ruffling this calm, intrepid, and almost
fool-hardy young man; so it was with no little interest that I drew
near, to listen to the tale which he told Captain W. with a face
flushed with unusual anger, while his whole person seemed to swell
with pride and disdain.

He said that while riding about five miles behind the party, (not
being able to keep up with it on account of his having a worn out
horse,) he was attacked by about fifty of the Indians whom we passed
earlier in the day, dragged forcibly from his horse and thrown upon
the ground. Here, some held their knives to his throat to prevent
his rising, and others robbed him of his saddle bags, and all that
they contained. While he was yet in this unpleasant situation,
Richardson came suddenly upon them, and the cowardly Indians
released their captive instantly, throwing the saddle bags and every
thing else upon the ground and flying like frightened antelopes over
the plain. The only real damage that Mr. Ashworth sustained, was
the total loss of his {135} saddle bags, which were cut to pieces
by the knives of the Indians, in order to abstract the contents.
These, however, we think he deserves to lose, inasmuch, as with all
our persuasion, we have never been able to induce him to carry a gun
since we left the country infested by the Blackfeet; and to-day,
the very show of such a weapon would undoubtedly have prevented the
attack of which he complains.

Richardson gives an amusing account of the deportment of our young
English friend while he was lying under the knives of his captors.
The heavy whip of buffalo hide, which was his only weapon, was
applied with great energy to the naked backs and shoulders of the
Indians, who winced and stamped under the infliction, but still
feared to use their knives, except to prevent his rising. Richardson
says, that until he approached closely, the blows were descending in
rapid succession, and our hunter was in some danger of losing his
characteristic dignity in his efforts to repress a loud and hearty
laugh at the extreme ludicrousness of the whole scene.

Captain W., when the circumstances of the assault were stated to
him, gave an immediate order for the suspension of business, and
calling the chief to him, told him seriously, that if an attempt
were again made to interrupt any of his party on their march, the
offenders should be tied to a tree and whipped severely. He enforced
his language by gestures so expressive that none could misunderstand
him, and he was answered by a low groan from the Indians present,
and a submissive bowing of their heads. The chief appeared very much
troubled, and harangued his people for considerable time on the
subject, repeating what the captain had said, with some additional
remarks of his own, implying that even a worse fate than whipping
would be the lot of future delinquents.

_22d._--Last night during the second guard, while on my walk {136}
around the camp, I observed one of my men squatted on the ground,
intently surveying some object which appeared to be moving among
the horses. At his request, I stooped also, and could distinctly
perceive something near us which was certainly not a horse, and yet
was as certainly a living object. I supposed it to be either a bear
or a wolf, and at the earnest solicitation of the man, I gave the
word "fire." The trigger was instantly pulled, the sparks flew from
the flint, but the rifle was not exploded. At the sound, an Indian
sprang from the grass where he had been crouching, and darted away
towards the Snake camp. His object certainly was to appropriate one
of our horses, and very fortunate for him was it that the gun missed
fire, for the man was an unerring marksman. This little warning will
probably check other similar attempts by these people.

Early in the morning I strolled into the Snake camp. It consists
of about thirty lodges or wigwams, formed generally of branches of
trees tied together in a conic summit, and covered with buffalo,
deer, or elk skins. Men and little children were lolling about
the ground all around the wigwams, together with a heterogeneous
assemblance of dogs, cats, some tamed prairie wolves, and other
"_varmints_." The dogs growled and snapped when I approached, the
wolves cowered and looked cross, and the cats ran away and hid
themselves in dark corners. They had not been accustomed to the face
of a white man, and all the quadrupeds seemed to regard me as some
monstrous production, more to be feared than loved or courted. This
dislike, however, did not appear to extend to the bipeds, for many
of every age and sex gathered around me, and seemed to be examining
me critically in all directions. The men looked complacently at
me, the women, the dear creatures, smiled upon me, and the little
naked, pot-bellied children crawled around my feet, examining the
fashion of my hard shoes, and playing with the {137} long fringes
of my leathern inexpressibles. But I scarcely know how to commence
a description of the _tout en semble_ of the camp, or to frame a
sentence which will give an adequate idea of the extreme filth, and
most horrific nastiness of the whole vicinity. I shall therefore but
transiently glance at it, omitting many of the most disgusting and
abominable features.

[Illustration: Spearing the Salmon]

Immediately as I entered the village, my olfactories were assailed
by the most vile and mephitic odors, which I found to proceed
chiefly from great piles of salmon entrails and garbage which were
lying festering and rotting in the sun, around the very doors of the
habitations. Fish, recent and half dried, were scattered all over
the ground, under the feet of the dogs, wolves and Indian children;
and others which had been split, were hanging on rude platforms
erected within the precincts of the camp. Some of the women were
making their breakfast of the great red salmon eggs as large as
peas, and using a wooden spoon to convey them to their mouths.
Occasionally, also, by way of varying the repast, they would take a
huge pinch of a drying fish which was lying on the ground near them.
Many of the children were similarly employed, and the little imps
would also have hard contests with the dogs for a favorite morsel,
the former roaring and blubbering, the latter yelping and snarling,
and both rolling over and over together upon the savory soil. The
whole economy of the lodges, and the inside and outside appearance,
was of a piece with every thing else about them--filthy beyond
description--the very skins which covered the wigwams were black and
stiff with rancid salmon fat, and the dresses (if dresses they may
be called) of the women, were of the same color and consistence,
from the same cause. These _dresses_ are little square pieces of
deer skin, fastened with a thong around the loins, and reaching
about half way to the knees; the rest of the person is entirely
naked. Some of the women had little children clinging like bullfrogs
to their backs, without being fastened, and in that situation {138}
extracting their lactiferous sustenance from the breast, which was
thrown over the shoulders.

It is almost needless to say, that I did not remain long in the
Snake camp; for although I had been a considerable time estranged
from the abodes of luxury, and had become somewhat accustomed to,
at least, a partial assimilation to a state of nature, yet I was
not prepared for what I saw here. I never had fancied any thing
so utterly abominable, and was glad to escape to a purer and more
wholesome atmosphere.

When I returned to our camp, the trading was going on as briskly as
yesterday. A large number of Indians were assembled around, all of
whom had bundles of fish, which they were anxious to dispose of. The
price of a dried salmon is a straight awl, and a small fish hook,
value about one cent; ten fish are given for a common butcher knife
that costs eight cents. Some, however, will prefer beads, paint,
&c., and of these articles, about an equal amount in value is given.
A beaver skin can be had for a variety of little matters, which cost
about twelve and a half cents; value, in Boston, from eight to ten
dollars!

Early in the afternoon, we repacked our bales of goods and rode out
of the encampment, the Indians yelling an adieu to us as we passed
them. We observed that one had wrapped a buffalo robe around him,
taken a bow and arrows in his hand, and joined us as we went off.
Although we travelled rapidly during the afternoon, the man kept
with us without apparent over-exertion or fatigue, trotting along
constantly for miles together. He is probably on a visit to a
village of his people who are encamped on the "Big river."

_23d._--Towards noon, to-day, we fell in with a village, consisting
of thirty willow lodges of Bannecks. The Indians flocked out to us
by hundreds, leaving their fishing, and every other employment, to
visit the strangers. The chief soon made himself known to us, and
gave us a pressing invitation to stop a {139} short time with them,
for the purpose of trade. Although we had a good supply of fish
on hand, and did not expect soon to suffer from want, yet we knew
not but we might be disappointed in procuring provision lower in
the country, and concluded, therefore, to halt for half an hour,
and make a small increase to our stock. We were in some haste, and
anxious to travel on as quickly as possible, to Snake river. Captain
W., therefore, urged the chief to have the fish brought immediately,
as he intended soon to leave them. The only reply he could obtain to
this request, was "_te sant_," (it is good,) accompanied by signs,
that he wished to smoke. A pipe was provided, and he, with about a
dozen of his young men, formed a circle near, and continued smoking,
with great tranquillity, for half an hour.

Our patience became almost exhausted, and they were told that if
their fish were not soon produced, we should leave them empty as
we came; to this, the only answer of the chief was a sign to us to
remain still, while he deliberated yet farther upon the subject.

We sat a short time longer in silent expectation, and were then
preparing to mount our horses and be off, when several squaws were
despatched to one of the lodges. They returned in a few minutes,
bringing about a dozen dried fish. These were laid in small piles
on the ground, and when the usual price was offered for them, they
refused it scornfully, making the most exorbitant demands. As our
articles of trade were running low, and we were not in immediate
want, we purchased only a sufficiency for one day, and prepared for
our departure, leaving the ground strewn with the neglected salmon.
The Indians were evidently very much irritated, as we could perceive
by their angry countenances, and loud words of menace. Some loosed
the bows from their shoulders, and shook them at us with violent
gestures of rage, and a boy, of seventeen or eighteen years of
age, who stood near me, struck my horse on the head with a {140}
stick, which he held in his hand. This provoked me not a little; and
spurring the animal a few steps forward, I brought my heavy whip
several times over his naked shoulders, and sent him screeching into
the midst of his people. Several bows were drawn at me for this act,
and glad would the savages have been to have had me for a short
time at their mercy, but as it was, they feared to let slip their
arrows, and soon dropped their points, contenting themselves with
vaporing away in all the impotence of childish rage. As we rode off,
they greeted us, not with the usual gay yell, but with a scornful,
taunting laugh, that sounded like the rejoicings of an infernal
jubilee. Had these people been provided with efficient arms, and the
requisite amount of courage to use them, they might have given us
some inconvenience.

Towards evening, we arrived on Snake river, crossed it at a ford,
and encamped near a number of lodges along the shore. Shortly
afterwards, Captain W., with three men, visited the Indians,
carrying with them some small articles, to trade for fish. In about
half an hour they returned, bringing only about ten salmon. They
observed, among the Indians, the same disinclination to traffic
that the others had manifested; or rather, like the first, they
placed a higher value than usual upon the commodity, and wanted, in
exchange, articles which we were not willing to spare them. They
treated Captain W. with the same insolence and contempt which was so
irritating from those of the other village.

This kind of conduct is said to be unusual among this tribe, but
it is probably now occasioned by their having recently purchased a
supply of small articles from Captain Bonneville, who, they inform
us, has visited them within a few days.

Being desirous to escape from the immediate vicinity of the village,
we moved our camp about four miles further, and stopped for the
night.

{141} _24th._--The sudden and entire change from flesh exclusively,
to fish, ditto, has affected us all more or less, with diarrhoea
and pain in the abdomen; several of the men have been so extremely
sick, as scarcely to be able to travel; we shall, however, no doubt,
become accustomed to it in a few days.

We passed, this morning, over a flat country, very similar to that
along the Platte, abounding in wormwood bushes, the pulpy-leaved
thorn, and others, and deep with sand, and at noon stopped on a
small stream called _Malheur's creek_.[129]

  [129] Malheur River rises in a lake of that name in Harney County,
  Oregon, and flows east and northeast into the Lewis, being one of
  the latter's important western tributaries.--ED.

Here a party of nine men was equipped, and despatched up the river,
and across the country, on a trapping expedition, with orders to
join us early in the ensuing winter, at the fort on the Columbia.
Richardson was the chief of this party, and when I grasped the
hand of our worthy hunter, and bade him farewell, I felt as though
I were taking leave of a friend. I had become particularly attached
to him, from the great simplicity and kindness of his heart, and his
universally correct and proper deportment. I had been accustomed to
depend upon his knowledge and sagacity in every thing connected with
the wild and roving life which I had led for some months past, and
I felt that his absence would be a real loss, as well to myself, as
to the whole camp, which had profited so much by his dexterity and
skill.

Our party will now consist of only seventeen men, but the number is
amply sufficient, as we have passed over the country where danger
is to be apprehended from Indians. We followed the course of the
creek during the afternoon, and in the evening encamped on Snake
river, into which Malheur empties. The river is here nearly a mile
wide, but deep and clear, and for a considerable distance, perfectly
navigable for steamboats, or even larger craft, and it would seem
not improbable, that at some distant day, these facilities, added
to the excellence of the alluvial soil, should induce the stout and
hardy adventurers of our country to make permanent settlements here.

{142} I have not observed that the Indians often attempt fishing in
the "big river," where it is wide and deep; they generally prefer
the slues, creeks, &c. Across these, a net of closely woven willows
is stretched, placed vertically, and extending from the bottom to
several feet above the surface. A number of Indians enter the water
about a hundred yards above the net, and, walking closely, drive
the fish in a body against the wicker work. Here they frequently
become entangled, and are always checked; the spear is then used
dexterously, and they are thrown out, one by one, upon the shore.
With industry, a vast number of salmon might be taken in this
manner; but the Indians are generally so indolent and careless of
the future, that it is rare to find an individual with provision
enough to supply his lodge for a week.

_25th._--Early in the day the country assumed a more hilly aspect.
The rich plains were gone. Instead of a dense growth of willow
and the balsam poplar, low bushes of wormwood, &c., predominated,
intermixed with the tall, rank prairie grass.

Towards noon, we fell in with about ten lodges of Indians, (Snakes
and Bannecks,) from whom we purchased eighty salmon. This has put
us in excellent spirits. We feared that we had lost sight of the
natives, and as we had not reserved half the requisite quantity
of provisions for our support to the Columbia, (most of our stock
having been given to Richardson's trapping party,) the prospect of
several days abstinence seemed very clear before us.

In the afternoon, we deviated a little from our general course, to
cut off a bend in the river, and crossed a short, high hill, a part
of an extensive range which we have seen for two days ahead, and
which we suppose to be in the vicinity of Powder river, and {143}
in the evening encamped in a narrow valley, on the borders of the
Shoshoné.[130]

  [130] Lewis River here makes a considerable bend to the east, hence
  the short cut across country. The mountains are apparently the Burnt
  River Range, with Powder River beyond. Wyeth identifies this as the
  same place at which he encamped two years previous--near the point
  where the Oregon Short Line railway crosses Lewis River.--ED.

_26th._--Last night I had the misfortune to lose my favorite, and
latterly my only riding horse, the other having been left at Fort
Hall, in consequence of a sudden lameness, with which he became
afflicted only the night before our departure.[131] The animal
was turned out as usual, with the others, in the evening, and as
I have never known him to stray in a single instance, I conclude
that some lurking Indian has stolen him. It was the fattest and
handsomest horse in the band, and was no doubt carefully selected,
as there was probably but a single Indian, who was unable to take
more, for fear of alarming the guard. This is the most serious loss
I have met with. The animal was particularly valuable to me, and no
consideration would have induced me to part with it here. It is,
however, a kind of accident that we are always more or less liable
to in this country, and as a search would certainly be fruitless,
must be submitted to with as good a grace as possible. Captain W.
has kindly offered me the use of horses until we arrive at Columbia.

  [131] I afterwards ascertained that this lameness of my "buffalo
  horse," was intentionally caused by one of the hopeful gentry left
  in charge of the fort, for the purpose of rendering the animal
  unable to travel, and as a consequence, confining him to the fort
  at the time of our departure. The good qualities of the horse as a
  buffalo racer, were universally known and appreciated, and I had
  repeatedly refused large sums for him, from those who desired him
  for this purpose.--TOWNSEND.

We commenced our march early, travelling up a broad, rich valley,
in which we encamped last night, and at the head of it, on a creek
called Brulé, we found one family, consisting of five Snake Indians,
one man, two women, and two children.[132] They had evidently
but very recently arrived, probably only last night, and as they
must certainly have passed our camp, we feel little hesitation in
believing that my lost horse is in their possession. It is, however,
impossible to prove the theft upon them in {144} any way, and time
is not allowed us to search the premises. We cannot even question
them concerning it, as our interpreter, McCarey, left us with the
trapping party.

  [132] Burnt (Brulé) River rises in Strawberry Mountains of eastern
  Oregon, and flows northeast, then southeast, through Baker County
  into Lewis River. The Oregon Trail left the latter river at the
  mouth of Burnt River, and advanced up that valley to its northern
  bend.--ED.

We bought, of this family, a considerable quantity of dried
choke-cherries, these being the only article of commerce which they
possessed. This fruit they prepare by pounding it with stones,
and drying it in masses in the sun. It is then good tasted, and
somewhat nutritive, and it loses, by the process, the whole of the
astringency which is so disagreeable in the recent fruit.

Leaving the valley, we proceeded over some high and stony hills,
keeping pretty nearly the course of the creek. The travelling was,
as usual in such places, difficult and laborious, and our progress
necessarily slow and tedious. Throughout the day, there was no
change in the character of the country, and the consequence was,
that three of our poor horses gave up and stopped.

_27th._--This morning, two men were left at the camp, for the
purpose of collecting and bringing on, moderately, the horses left
yesterday, and others that may hereafter fail. We were obliged to
leave with them a stock of provision greater in proportion than our
own rather limited allowance, and have thus somewhat diminished our
chance of performing the remainder of the journey with satisfied
appetites, but there is some small game to be found on the route,
grouse, ducks, &c., and occasionally a beaver may be taken, if our
necessities are pressing. We made a noon camp on Brulé, and stopped
at night in a narrow valley, between the hills.

_28th._--Towards noon to-day, we lost the trail among the hills,
and although considerable search was made, we were not able to find
it again. We then directed our course due north, and at 2 o'clock
struck Powder river, a narrow and shallow stream, plentifully
fringed with willows. We passed down this {145} river for about
five miles and encamped.[133] Captain W. immediately left us to
look for the lost trail, and returned in about two hours, with
the information that no trace of it could be found. He therefore
concludes that it is up stream, and to-morrow we travel back to
search for it in that direction. Our men killed, in the afternoon,
an antelope and a deer fawn, which were particularly acceptable to
us; we had been on an allowance of one dried salmon per day, and we
had begun to fear that even this poor pittance would fail before
we could obtain other provision. Game has been exceedingly scarce,
with the exception of a few grouse, pigeons, &c. We have not seen a
deer, antelope, or any other quadruped larger than a hare, since we
left the confines of the buffalo country. Early this morning, one of
our men, named Hubbard, left us to hunt, and as he has not joined
us this evening, we fear he is lost, and feel some anxiety about
him, as he has not been accustomed to finding his way through the
pathless wilds. He is a good marksman, however, and will not suffer
much for food; and as he knows the general course, he will probably
join us at Walla-walla, if we should not see him earlier.

  [133] Powder River rises in the Blue Mountains and flows first
  east, then north, then abruptly southeast into the Lewis; the trail
  followed its north-bearing course. These western affluents of the
  Lewis (or Snake) were explored (1819) and probably named by Donald
  McKenzie, then of the North West Company.--ED.

_29th._--We commenced our march early this morning, following the
river to a point about six miles above where we struck it yesterday.
We then took to the hills, steering N. N. W.,--it being impossible,
from the broken state of the country, to keep the river bank.

Soon after we commenced the ascent, we met with difficulties in the
shape of high, steep, banks, and deep ravines, the ground being
thickly strewed with sharp, angular masses of lava and basalt. As
we proceeded, these difficulties increased to such a degree, as to
occasion a fear that our horses could never proceed. The hills at
length became like a consolidated mass of irregular rock, and the
small strips of earthy matter that occasionally appeared, were burst
into wide fissures by the desiccation to which {146} the country at
this season is subject. Sometimes, as we approached the verges of
the cliffs, we could see the river winding its devious course many
hundred feet below, rushing and foaming in eddies and whirlpools,
and fretting against the steep sides of the rocks, which hemmed it
in. These are what are called the cut-rocks, the sides of which are
in many places as smooth and regular as though they had been worked
with the chisel, and the opening between them, through which the
river flows, is frequently so narrow that a biscuit might be thrown
across it.

We travelled over these rocks until 1 o'clock in the day, when we
stopped to rest in a small ravine, where we found a little water,
and pasture for our horses. At 3, we were again on the move, making
across the hills towards the river, and after a long, circuitous
march, we arrived on its banks, considerably wearied, and every
horse in our band lamed and completely exhausted. We have not yet
found any clue to the trail for which we have been searching so
anxiously; indeed it would be impossible for a distinguishable trace
to be left over these rugged, stony hills, and the difficulty of
finding it, or determining its direction is not a little increased
by a dense fog which constantly envelopes these regions, obscuring
the sun, and rendering it impossible to see an object many hundred
yards in advance.

The next day we were still travelling over the high and steep hills,
which, fortunately for our poor horses, were far less stony than
hitherto. At about noon we descended to the plain, and struck the
river in the midst of a large level prairie. We proceeded up stream
for an hour, and to our great joy suddenly came in sight of a broad,
open trail stretching away to the S. W. We felt, in some degree, the
pleasure of a sailor who has found the port of which he has been
long and anxiously in search. We made a noon camp here, at which
we remained two hours, and then travelled on in fine spirits over
a beautiful, level, and unobstructed country. Our horses seemed to
participate in our {147} feelings, and trotted on briskly, as though
they too rejoiced in the opportunity of escaping the dreaded hills
and rocks. Towards evening we crossed a single range of low hills
and came to a small round prairie, with good water and excellent
pasture. Here we found a family of _Kayouse_ Indians, and encamped
within sight of them. Two squaws from this family, visited us soon
after, bringing some large kamas cakes and fermented roots, which we
purchased of them.

_31st._--Our route this morning, was over a country generally
level and free from rocks; we crossed, however, one short, and
very steep mountain range, thickly covered with tall and heavy
pine trees, and came to a large and beautiful prairie, called the
_Grand ronde_.[134] Here we found Captain Bonneville's company,
which has been lying here several days, waiting the arrival of its
trapping parties. We made a noon camp near it, and were visited
by Captain Bonneville. This was the first time I had seen this
gentleman. His manners were affable and pleasing, and he seemed
possessed of a large share of bold, adventurous, and to a certain
extent, romantic spirit, without which no man can expect to thrive
as a mountain leader. He stated that he preferred the "free and
easy" life of a mountain hunter and trapper, to the comfortable and
luxurious indolence of a dweller in civilized lands, and would not
exchange his homely, but wholesome mountain fare, and his buffalo
lodge, for the most piquant dishes of the French _artiste_, and
the finest palace in the land.[135] This came well from him, and
I was pleased with it, although I could not altogether agree with
him in sentiment, for I confess I had become somewhat weary of
rough travelling and rough fare, and looked forward with no little
pleasure to a long rest under a Christian roof, and a general
participation in Christian living.

  [134] Grande Ronde, a noted halting place on the Oregon Trail, was
  so called from its apparently circular shape, as the traveller wound
  down the precipitous road into its level basin; it really is an oval
  twenty miles long, containing three hundred thousand acres of rich
  land. It is in the present Union County, and Grande Ronde River
  flows northeasterly through it.--ED.

  [135] For a brief sketch of Bonneville consult Gregg's _Commerce of
  the Prairies_ in our volume xx, p. 267, note 167.--ED.

With the captain, came a whole troop of Indians, Kayouse, {148}
Nez Percés, &c. They were very friendly towards us, each of the
chiefs taking us by the hand with great cordiality, appearing
pleased to see us, and anxious to point out to us the easiest and
most expeditious route to the lower country. These Indians are,
almost universally, fine looking, robust men, with strong aqualine
features, and a much more cheerful cast of countenance than is
usual amongst the race. Some of the women might almost be called
beautiful, and none that I have seen are homely. Their dresses
are generally of thin deer or antelope skin, with occasionally a
bodice of some linen stuffs, purchased from the whites, and their
whole appearance is neat and cleanly, forming a very striking
contrast to the greasy, filthy, and disgusting Snake females. I
observed one young and very pretty looking woman, dressed in a
great superabundance of finery, glittering with rings and beads,
and flaunting in broad bands of scarlet cloth. She was mounted
astride,--Indian fashion,--upon a fine bay horse, whose head and
tail were decorated with scarlet and blue ribbons, and the saddle,
upon which the fair one sat, was ornamented all over with beads
and little hawk's bells. This damsel did not do us the honor to
dismount, but seemed to keep warily aloof, as though she feared
that some of us might be inordinately fascinated by her fine person
and splendid equipments, and her whole deportment proved to us,
pretty satisfactorily, that she was no common beauty, but the
favored companion of one high in office, who was jealous of her
slightest movement.

After making a hasty meal, and bidding adieu to the captain, and our
friendly Indian visitors, we mounted our horses, and rode off. About
half an hour's brisk trotting brought us to the foot of a steep
and high mountain, called the _Blue_. This is said to be the most
extensive chain west of the dividing ridge, and, with one exception
perhaps the most difficult of passage.[136] The whole mountain is
densely covered with tall pine trees, with {149} an undergrowth of
service bushes and other shrubs, and the path is strewed, to a very
inconvenient degree, with volcanic rocks. In some of the ravines we
find small springs of water; they are, however, rather rare, and the
grass has been lately consumed, and many of the trees blasted by the
ravaging fires of the Indians. These fires are yet smouldering, and
the smoke from them effectually prevents our viewing the surrounding
country, and completely obscures the beams of the sun. We travelled
this evening until after dark, and encamped on a small stream in a
gorge, where we found a plot of grass that had escaped the burning.

  [136] Blue Mountains are a continuation of the chains of western
  Idaho, trending southwest, then west, toward the centre of the
  state of Oregon, forming a watershed between the Lewis and Columbia
  systems. Frémont suggests that their name arises from the dark-blue
  appearance given to then by the pines with which they are covered.
  The trail led northwest from Union into Umatilla County, following
  the present railway route, only less circuitous.--ED.

_September 1st._--Last evening, as we were about retiring to
our beds, we heard, distinctly, as we thought, a loud halloo,
several times repeated, and in a tone like that of a man in great
distress. Supposing it to be a person who had lost his way in
the darkness, and was searching for us, we fired several guns at
regular intervals, but as they elicited no reply, after waiting a
considerable time, we built a large fire, as a guide, and lay down
to sleep.

Early this morning, a large panther was seen prowling around our
camp, and the hallooing of last night was explained. It was the
dismal, distressing yell by which this animal entices its prey,
until pity or curiosity induces it to approach to its destruction.
The panther is said to inhabit these forests in considerable
numbers, and has not unfrequently been known to kill the horses of
a camp. He has seldom the temerity to attack a man, unless sorely
pressed by hunger, or infuriated by wounds.



{150} CHAPTER IX

     Passage of the Blue Mountains--Sufferings from thirst--Utalla
     river--A transformation--A novel meal--Walla-walla
     river--Columbia river and Fort Walla-walla--A dinner with
     the missionaries--Anecdote of Mr. Lee--A noble repast--Brief
     notice of the Fort--Departure of the missionaries--Notice
     of the Walla-walla Indians--Departure for Fort
     Vancouver--Wild ducks--Indian graves--Indian horses--Visits
     from Indians--Ophthalmia, a prevalent disease--Rough
     travelling--A company of Chinook Indians--The Dalles--The
     party joined by Captain Wyeth--Embarkation in canoes--A
     heavy gale--Dangerous navigation--Pusillanimous conduct of
     an Indian helmsman--A zealous botanist--Departure of Captain
     Wyeth with five men--Cascades--A portage--Meeting with the
     missionaries--Loss of a canoe--A toilsome duty--Arrival at Fort
     Vancouver--reflections suggested by it--Dr. John McLoughlin, the
     chief factor--Domiciliation of the travellers at Fort Vancouver.


_September 1st._--The path through the valley, in which we encamped
last night, was level and smooth for about a mile; we then mounted
a short steep hill and began immediately to descend. The road down
the mountain wound constantly, and we travelled in short, zig-zag
lines, in order to avoid the extremely abrupt declivities; but
occasionally, we were compelled to descend in places that made us
pause before making the attempt: they were, some of them, almost
perpendicular, and our horses would frequently slide several yards,
before they could recover. To this must be added enormous jagged
masses of rock, obstructing the road in many places, and pine trees
projecting their horizontal branches across the path.

The road continued, as I have described it, to the valley in the
plain, and a full hour was consumed before we reached it. {151} The
country then became comparatively level again to the next range,
where a mountain was to be ascended of the same height as the last.
Here we dismounted and led our horses, it being impracticable, in
their present state, to ride them. It was the most toilsome march I
ever made, and we were all so much fatigued, when we arrived at the
summit, that rest was as indispensable to us as to our poor jaded
horses. Here we made a noon camp, with a handful of grass and no
water. This last article appears very scarce, the ravines affording
none, and our dried salmon and kamas bread were eaten unmoistened.
The route, in the afternoon, was over the top of the mountain, the
road tolerably level, but crowded with stones. Towards evening, we
commenced descending again, and in every ravine and gulley we cast
our anxious eyes in search of water; we even explored several of
them, where there appeared to exist any probability of success, but
not one drop did we find. Night at length came on, dark and pitchy,
without a moon or a single star to give us a ray of light; but still
we proceeded, depending solely upon the vision and sagacity of our
horses to keep the track. We travelled steadily until 9 o'clock,
when we saw ahead the dark outline of a high mountain, and soon
after heard the men who rode in front, cry out, joyously, at the top
of their voices, "_water! water!_" It was truly a cheering sound,
and the words were echoed loudly by every man in the company. We had
not tasted water since morning, and both horses and men have been
suffering considerably for the want of it.

_2d._--Captain W. and two men, left us early this morning for
Walla-walla, where they expect to arrive this evening, and send us
some provision, of which we shall be in need, to-morrow.

Our camp moved soon after, under the direction of Captain Thing, and
in about four miles reached _Utalla river_, where it stopped, and
remained until 12 o'clock.[137]

  [137] Umatilla River, whose earlier name appears to have been
  Utalla. Consult Franchère's _Narrative_ in our volume vi, p.
  338.--ED.

As we were approaching so near the abode of those in whose {152}
eyes we wished to appear like fellow Christians, we concluded that
there would be a propriety in attempting to remove at least one of
the heathenish badges which we had worn throughout the journey; so
Mr. N.'s razor was fished out from its hiding place in the bottom
of his trunk, and in a few minutes our encumbered chins lost their
long-cherished ornaments; we performed our ablutions in the river,
arrayed ourselves in clean linen, trimmed our long hair, and then
arranged our toilet before a mirror, with great self-complacence and
satisfaction. I admired my own appearance considerably, (and this
is, probably, an acknowledgement that few would make,) but I could
not refrain from laughing at the strange, party-colored appearance
of my physiognomy, the lower portion being fair, like a woman's, and
the upper, brown and swarthy as an Indian.

Having nothing prepared for dinner to-day, I strolled along the
stream above the camp, and made a meal on rose buds, of which I
collected an abundance; and on returning, I was surprised to find
Mr. N. and Captain T. picking the last bones of a bird which they
had cooked. Upon inquiry, I ascertained that the subject was an
unfortunate owl which I had killed in the morning, and had intended
to preserve, as a specimen. The temptation was too great to be
resisted by the hungry Captain and naturalist, and the bird of
wisdom lost the immortality which he might otherwise have acquired.

In the afternoon, soon after leaving the Utalla, we ascended a high
and very steep hill, and came immediately in view of a beautiful,
and regularly undulating country of great extent. We have now
probably done with high, rugged mountains; the sun shines clear, the
air is bracing and elastic, and we are all in fine spirits.

The next day, the road being generally level, and tolerably free
from stones, we were enabled to keep our horses at the swiftest gait
to which we dare urge them. We have been somewhat {153} disappointed
in not receiving the expected supplies from Walla-walla, but have
not suffered for provision, as the grouse and hares are very
abundant here, and we have shot as many as we wished.

At about noon we struck the Walla-walla river, a very pretty stream
of fifty or sixty yards in width, fringed with tall willows, and
containing a number of salmon, which we can see frequently leaping
from the water. The pasture here, being good, we allowed our horses
an hour's rest to feed, and then travelled on over the plain, until
near dark, when, on rising a sandy hill, the noble Columbia burst
at once upon our view. I could scarcely repress a loud exclamation
of delight and pleasure, as I gazed upon the magnificent river,
flowing silently and majestically on, and reflected that I had
actually crossed the vast American continent, and now stood upon
a stream that poured its waters directly into the Pacific. This,
then, was the great Oregon, the first appearance of which gave
Lewis and Clark so many emotions of joy and pleasure, and on this
stream our indefatigable countrymen wintered, after the toils and
privations of a long, and protracted journey through the wilderness.
My reverie was suddenly interrupted by one of the men exclaiming
from his position in advance, "there is the fort." We had, in
truth approached very near, without being conscious of it.[138]
There stood the fort on the bank of the river; horses and horned
cattle were roaming about the vicinity, and on the borders of the
little Walla-walla, we recognized the white tent of our long lost
missionaries. These we soon joined, and were met and received by
them like brethren. Mr. N. and myself were invited to sup with them
upon a dish of stewed hares which they had just prepared, and it is
almost needless to say that we did full justice to the good men's
cookery. They told us that they had travelled comfortably from
Fort Hall, without any unusual fatigue, and like ourselves, had
no particularly stirring adventures. Their {154} route, although
somewhat longer, was a much less toilsome and difficult one, and
they suffered but little for food, being well provided with dried
buffalo meat, which had been prepared near Fort Hall.

  [138] Fort Walla Walla (or Nez Percés) was built by Alexander Ross
  of the North West Company in July, 1818--see Ross, _Fur Hunters_,
  i, p. 171, for description and representation. It passed into the
  possession of the Hudson's Bay Company upon the consolidation of
  the corporations, and being rebuilt of adobé after its destruction
  by fire, was maintained until 1855-56, when it was abandoned during
  an Indian war. It was near the sight of the present Wallula,
  Washington, on the left bank of the Columbia, about half a mile
  above Walla Walla River.--ED.

Mr. Walker, (a young gentleman attached to the band,) related an
anecdote of Mr. Lee, the principal, which I thought eminently
characteristic. The missionaries were, on one occasion, at a
considerable distance behind the main body, and had stopped for
a few moments to regale themselves on a cup of milk from a cow
which they were driving. Mr. L. had unstrapped the tin pan from
his saddle, and was about applying himself to the task, when a
band of a dozen Indians was descried at a distance, approaching
the little party at full gallop. There was but little time for
consideration. The rifles were looked to, the horses were mounted
in eager haste, and all were ready for a long run, except Mr. Lee
himself, who declared that nothing should deprive him of his cup of
milk, and that he meant to "lighten the old cow before he moved."
He accordingly proceeded coolly to fill his tin pan, and, after a
hearty drink, grasped his rifle, and mounted his horse, at the very
moment that the Indians had arrived to within speaking distance.
To the great relief of most of the party, these proved to be of
the friendly Nez Percé tribe, and after a cordial greeting, they
travelled on together.

The missionaries informed us that they had engaged a large barge
to convey themselves and baggage to Fort Vancouver, and that
Captain Stewart and Mr. Ashworth were to be of the party. Mr. N.
and myself were very anxious to take a seat with them, but to our
disappointment, were told that the boat would scarcely accommodate
those already engaged. We had therefore to relinquish it, and
prepare for a journey on horseback to the _Dalles_, about eighty
miles below, to which place Captain W. would {155} precede us in the
barge, and engage canoes to convey us to the lower fort.

This evening, we purchased a large bag of Indian meal, of which we
made a kettle of mush, and mixed with it a considerable quantity
of horse tallow and salt. This was, I think, one of the best meals
I ever made. We all ate heartily of it, and pronounced it princely
food. We had been long without bread stuff of any kind, and the
coarsest farinaceous substance, with a proper allowance of grease,
would have been highly prized.

The next morning, we visited Walla-walla Fort, and were
introduced, by Captain W., to Lieutenant Pierre S. Pambrun, the
superintendent.[139] Wyeth and Mr. Pambrun had met before, and were
well acquainted; they had, therefore, many reminiscences of by-gone
days to recount, and long conversations, relative to the variety of
incidents which had occurred to each, since last they parted.

  [139] Lieutenant Pierre Chrysologue Pambrun was born near Quebec
  in 1792. In the War of 1812-15, he was an officer in the Canadian
  light troops, and soon after peace was declared entered the employ
  of the Hudson's Bay Company. At the Red River disturbances (1816) he
  was taken prisoner, but soon released. Later he served at several
  far Western fur-trade posts, and coming to the Columbia was placed
  in charge at Fort Walla Walla (1832). He showed many courtesies to
  the overland emigrants, but refused supplies to Captain Bonneville
  as being a rival trader; he appears, however, to have had no such
  feeling with regard to Captain Wyeth. Pambrun was severely hurt
  by a fall from his horse (1840), and died of the injury at Walla
  Walla.--ED.

The fort is built of drift logs, and surrounded by a stoccade of the
same, with two bastions, and a gallery around the inside. It stands
about a hundred yards from the river, on the south bank, in a bleak
and unprotected situation, surrounded on every side by a great,
sandy plain, which supports little vegetation, except the wormwood
and thorn-bushes. On the banks of the little river, however, there
are narrow strips of rich soil, and here Mr. Pambrun raises the few
garden vegetables necessary for the support of his family. Potatoes,
turnips, carrots, &c., thrive well, and Indian corn produces eighty
bushels to the acre.

At about 10 o'clock, the barge got under way, and soon after, our
company with its baggage, crossed the river in canoes, and encamped
on the opposite shore.

There is a considerable number of Indians resident here, Kayouse's
and a collateral band of the same tribe, called Walla-wallas.[140]
{156} They live along the bank of the river, in shantys or wigwams
of drift wood, covered with buffalo or deer skins. They are a
miserable, squalid looking people, are constantly lolling around
and in the fort, and annoy visitors by the importunate manner in
which they endeavor to force them into some petty trade for a pipe,
a hare, or a grouse. All the industrious and enterprising men of
this tribe are away trading salmon, kamas root, &c. to the mountain
companies.

  [140] For the Walla Walla Indians, see Ross's _Oregon Settlers_, in
  our volume vii, p. 137, note 37.--ED.

Notwithstanding the truly wretched plight in which these poor people
live, and the privations which they must necessarily have to suffer,
they are said to be remarkably honest and upright in their dealings,
and generally correct in their moral deportment. Although they
doubtless have the acquisitive qualities so characteristic of the
race, they are rarely known to violate the principles of common
honesty. A man may leave his tent unguarded, and richly stored with
every thing which ordinarily excites the cupidity of the Indian,
yet, on returning after a long absence, he may find all safe. What
a commentary is this on the habits and conduct of our _Christian_
communities!

The river is here about three-fourths of a mile in width,--a clear,
deep, and rapid stream, the current being generally from three to
four miles an hour. It is the noblest looking river I have seen
since leaving our Delaware. The banks are in many places high and
rocky, occasionally interrupted by broad, level sandy beaches. The
only vegetation along the margin, is the wormwood, and other low,
arid plants, but some of the bottoms are covered with heavy, rank
grass, affording excellent pasture for horses.

_5th._--This morning we commenced our march down the Columbia. We
have no provision with us except flour and horse tallow, but we have
little doubt of meeting Indians daily, with whom we can trade for
fish. Our road will now be a rather monotonous one {157} along the
bank of the river, tolerably level, but often rocky, so that very
rapid travelling is inadmissible. The mallard duck, the widgeon, and
the green-winged teal are tolerably abundant in the little estuaries
of the river. Our men have killed several, but they are poor, and
not good.

_6th._--We have observed to-day several high, conical stacks of
drift-wood near the river. These are the graves of the Indians. Some
of these cemeteries are of considerable extent, and probably contain
a great number of bodies. I had the curiosity to peep into several
of them, and even to remove some of the coverings, but found nothing
to compensate for the trouble.

We bought some salmon from Indians whom we met to-day, which, with
our flour and tallow, enable us to live very comfortably.

_7th._--We frequently fall in with large bands of Indian horses.
There are among them some very beautiful animals, but they are
generally almost as wild as deer, seldom permitting an approach to
within a hundred yards or more. They generally have owners, as we
observe upon many of them strange hieroglyphic looking characters,
but there are no doubt some that have never known the bit, and will
probably always roam the prairie uncontrolled. When the Indians wish
to catch a horse from one of these bands, they adopt the same plan
pursued by the South Americans for taking the wild animal.

_8th._--Our road to-day has been less monotonous, and much more
hilly than hitherto. Along the bank of the river, are high
mountains, composed of basaltic rock and sand, and along their bases
enormous drifts of the latter material. Large, rocky promontories
connected with these mountains extend into the river to considerable
distances, and numerous islands of the same dot its surface.

We are visited frequently as we travel along, by Indians of {158}
the Walla-walla and other tribes, whose wigwams we see on the
opposite side of the river. As we approach these rude huts, the
inhabitants are seen to come forth in a body; a canoe is immediately
launched, the light bark skims the water like a bird, and in an
incredibly short time its inmates are with us. Sometimes a few
salmon are brought to barter for our tobacco, paint, &c., but more
frequently they seem impelled to the visit by mere curiosity.
To-day a considerable number have visited us, and among them some
very handsome young girls. I could not but admire the gaiety and
cheerfulness which seemed to animate them. They were in high
spirits, and evidently very much pleased with the unusual privilege
which they were enjoying.

At our camp in the evening, eight Walla-walla's came to see us. The
chief was a remarkably fine looking man, but he, as well as several
of his party, was suffering from a severe purulent ophthalmia which
had almost deprived him of sight. He pointed to his eyes, and
contorting his features to indicate the pain he suffered, asked me
by signs to give him medicine to cure him. I was very sorry that
my small stock of simples did not contain anything suited to his
complaint, and I endeavored to tell him so. I have observed that
this disease is rather prevalent among the Indians residing on the
river, and I understood from the chief's signs that most of the
Indians towards the lower country were similarly affected.

_9th._--The character of the country has changed considerably since
we left Walla-walla. The river has become gradually more narrow,
until it is now but about two hundred yards in width, and completely
hemmed in by enormous rocks on both sides. Many of these extend for
considerable distances into the stream in perpendicular columns, and
the water dashes and breaks against them until all around is foam.
The current is here very swift, probably six or seven miles to the
hour; and the {159} Indian canoes in passing down, seem literally to
_fly_ along its surface. The road to-day has been rugged to the very
last degree. We have passed over continuous masses of sharp rock for
hours together, sometimes picking our way along the very edge of the
river, several hundred feet above it; again, gaining the back land,
by passing through any casual chasm or opening in the rocks, where
we were compelled to dismount, and lead our horses.

This evening, we are surrounded by a large company of Chinook
Indians, of both sexes, whose temporary wigwams are on the bank of
the river. Many of the squaws have young children sewed up in the
usual Indian fashion, wrapped in a skin, and tied firmly to a board,
so that nothing but the head of the little individual is seen.[141]

  [141] This must have been a roving party, far from their base, for
  the Chinook were rarely found so high up the Columbia.--ED.

These Indians are very peaceable and friendly. They have no weapons
except bows, and these are used more for amusement and exercise,
than as a means of procuring them sustenance, their sole dependence
being fish and beaver, with perhaps a few hares and grouse, which
are taken in traps. We traded with these people for a few fish and
beaver skins, and some roots, and before we retired for the night,
arranged the men in a circle, and gave them a smoke in token of our
friendship.

_10th._--This afternoon we reached the _Dalles_.[142] The entire
water of the river here flows through channels of about fifteen feet
in width, and between high, perpendicular rocks; there are several
of these channels at distances of from half a mile to a mile apart,
and the water foams and boils through them like an enormous cauldron.

  [142] The first obstruction in the Columbia on descending from Walla
  Walla consists of the Falls and Long and Short Narrows frequently
  called the Dalles. See descriptions in _Original Journals of
  the Lewis and Clark Expedition_, iii, pp. 146-173; Franchère's
  _Narrative_, in our volume vi, p. 337; and Ross's _Oregon Settlers_,
  our volume vii, pp. 128-133.--ED.

On the opposite side of the river there is a large Indian village,
belonging to a chief named Tilki, and containing probably five
hundred wigwams. As we approached, the natives swarmed like bees
to the shore, launched their canoes, and joined us in a few {160}
minutes. We were disappointed in not seeing Captain W. here, as this
was the spot where we expected to meet him; the chief, however, told
us that we should find him about twelve miles below, at the next
village. We were accordingly soon on the move again, and urging our
horses to their fastest gait, we arrived about sunset. The captain,
the chief of the village, and several other Indians, came out to
meet us and make us welcome. Captain W. has been here two days, and
we were pleased to learn that he had completed all the necessary
arrangements for transporting ourselves and baggage to Vancouver in
canoes. The route by land is said to be a very tedious and difficult
one, and, in some places, almost impassable, but even were it
otherwise, I believe we should all much prefer the water conveyance,
as we have become very tired of riding.

Since leaving the upper village this afternoon, we have been
followed by scores of Indians on foot and on horseback; some of the
animals carrying three at a time; and although we travelled rapidly,
the pedestrians were seldom far behind us.

We have concluded to leave our horses here, in charge of the chief
of the village, who has promised to attend to them during the
winter, and deliver them to our order in the spring. Captain W.
having been acquainted with this man before, is willing to trust him.

_11th._--Early this morning, we launched our three canoes, and each
being provided with an Indian, as helmsman, we applied ourselves
to our paddles, and were soon moving briskly down the river. In
about an hour after, the wind came out dead ahead, and although
the current was in favor, our progress was sensibly checked. As
we proceeded, the wind rose to a heavy gale, and the waves ran to
a prodigious height. At one moment our frail bark danced upon the
crest of a wave, and at the next, fell with a surge into the trough
of the sea, and as we looked at the swell before us, it seemed that
in an instant we {161} must inevitably be engulphed. At such times,
the canoe ahead of us was entirely hidden from view, but she was
observed to rise again like a seagull, and hurry on into the same
danger. The Indian in my canoe soon became completely frightened;
he frequently hid his face with his hands, and sang, in a low
melancholy voice, a prayer which we had often heard from his people,
while at their evening devotions. As our dangers were every moment
increasing, the man became at length absolutely childish, and with
all our persuasion and threats, we could not induce him to lay his
paddle into the water. We were all soon compelled to put in shore,
which we did without sustaining any damage; the boats were hauled
up high and dry, and we concluded to remain in our quarters until
to-morrow, or until there was a cessation of wind. In about an hour
it lulled a little, and Captain W. ordered the boats to be again
launched, in the hope of being able to weather a point about five
miles below, before the gale again commenced, where we could lie
by until it should be safe to proceed. The calm proved, as some of
us had suspected, a treacherous one; in a very few minutes after
we got under way, we were contending with the same difficulties as
before, and again our cowardly helmsman laid by his paddle and began
mumbling his prayer. It was too irritating to be borne. Our canoe
had swung round broad side to the surge, and was shipping gallons of
water at every dash.

At this time it was absolutely necessary that every man on board
should exert himself to the utmost to head up the canoe and make
the shore as soon as possible. Our Indian, however, still sat with
his eyes covered, the most abject and contemptible looking thing
I ever saw. We took him by the shoulders and threatened to throw
him overboard, if he did not immediately lend his assistance: we
might as well have spoken to a stone. He was finally aroused,
however, by our presenting a loaded gun at his breast; he dashed
the muzzle away, seized his paddle {162} again, and worked with
a kind of desperate and wild energy, until he sank back in the
canoe completely exhausted. In the mean time the boat had become
half full of water, shipping a part of every surf that struck her,
and as we gained the shallows every man sprang overboard, breast
deep, and began hauling the canoe to shore. This was even a more
difficult task than that of propelling her with the oars; the water
still broke over her, and the bottom was a deep kind of quicksand,
in which we sank almost to the knees at every step, the surf at
the same time dashing against us with such violence as to throw
us repeatedly upon our faces. We at length reached the shore, and
hauled the canoe up out of reach of the breakers. She was then
unloaded as soon as possible, and turned bottom upwards. The goods
had suffered considerably by the wetting; they were all unbaled and
dried by a large fire, which we built on the shore.

We were soon visited by several men from the other boats, which were
ahead, and learned that their situation had been almost precisely
similar to our own, except that their Indians had not evinced,
to so great a degree, the same unmanly terror which had rendered
ours so inefficient and useless. They were, however, considerably
frightened, much more so than the white men. It would seem strange
that Indians, who have been born, and have lived during their whole
lives, upon the edge of the water, who have been accustomed, from
infancy, to the management of a canoe, and in whose childish sports
and manly pastimes these frail barks have always been employed,
should exhibit, on occasions like this, such craven and womanly
fears; but the probability is, as their business is seldom of a
very urgent nature, that they refrain from making excursions of any
considerable extent in situations known to be dangerous, except
during calm weather; it is possible, also, that such gales may be
rare, and they have not been accustomed to them. Immediately after
we landed, our redoubtable helmsman broke away from us, {163} and
ran at full speed back towards the village. We have doubtless lost
him entirely, but we do not much regret his departure, as he proved
himself so entirely unequal to the task he had undertaken.[143]

  [143] On this matter consult _Original Journals of the Lewis and
  Clark Expedition_, iii, pp. 166-210, 217, 221, 256, where the
  Indians are represented as venturing forth into rough water that no
  white man dared breast.--ED.

_12th._--The gale continues with the same violence as yesterday,
and we do not therefore think it expedient to leave our camp.
Mr. N.'s large and beautiful collection of new and rare plants
was considerably injured by the wetting it received; he has been
constantly engaged since we landed yesterday, in opening and drying
them. In this task he exhibits a degree of patience and perseverance
which is truly astonishing; sitting on the ground, and steaming
over the enormous fire, for hours together, drying the papers, and
re-arranging the whole collection, specimen by specimen, while the
great drops of perspiration roll unheeded from his brow. Throughout
the whole of our long journey, I have had constantly to admire
the ardor and perfect indefatigability with which he has devoted
himself to the grand object of his tour. No difficulty, no danger,
no fatigue has ever daunted him, and he finds his rich reward in
the addition of nearly _a thousand_ new species of American plants,
which he has been enabled to make to the already teeming flora of
our vast continent. My bale of birds, which was equally exposed to
the action of the water, escaped without any material injury.

In the afternoon, the gale not having abated, Captain W. became
impatient to proceed, as he feared his business at Vancouver would
suffer by delay; he accordingly proposed taking one canoe, and
braving the fury of the elements, saying that he wished five men,
who were not afraid of water, to accompany him. A dozen of our
fearless fellows volunteered in a moment, and the captain selecting
such as he thought would best suit his purpose, lost no time in
launching his canoe, and away she went over the foaming waters,
dashing the spray from her bows, and laboring through the heavy
swells until she was lost to our view. {164} The more sedate amongst
us did not much approve of this somewhat hasty measure of our
principal; it appeared like a useless and daring exposure of human
life, not warranted by the exigencies of the case. Mr. N. remarked
that he would rather lose all his plants than venture his life in
that canoe.

On the 13th the wind shifted to due north, and was blowing somewhat
less furiously than on the previous day. At about noon we loaded our
canoes, and embarked; our progress, however, during the afternoon,
was slow; the current was not rapid, and the wind was setting up
stream so strongly that we could not make much headway against it;
we had, also, as before, to contend with turbulent waves, but we
found we could weather them with much less difficulty, since the
change of the wind.

_14th._--Before sunrise, a light rain commenced, which increased
towards mid-day to a heavy shower, and continued steadily during the
afternoon and night. There was, in the morning, a dead calm, the
water was perfectly smooth, and disturbed only by the light rain
pattering upon its surface. We made an early start, and proceeded
on very expeditiously until about noon, when we arrived at the
"cascades," and came to a halt above them, near a small Indian
village. These cascades, or cataracts are formed by a collection of
large rocks, in the bed of the river, which extend, for perhaps half
a mile. The current for a short distance above them, is exceedingly
rapid, and there is said to be a gradual fall, or declivity of the
river, of about twenty feet in the mile. Over these rocks, and
across the whole river, the water dashes and foams most furiously,
and with a roar which we heard distinctly at the distance of several
miles.[144]

  [144] The cascades are the last obstructions on the Lower Columbia.
  Consult _Original Journals of the Lewis and Clark Expedition_, iii,
  pp. 179-185; Franchère's _Narrative_ in our volume vi, p. 336; and
  Ross's _Oregon Settlers_ in our volume vii, pp. 121-125.--ED.

It is wholly impossible for any craft to make its way through these
difficulties, and our light canoes would not live an instant in
them. It is, therefore, necessary to make a portage, either by
carrying the canoes over land to the opposite side of the cataracts,
or by wading in the water near the shore, where the surges are
{165} lightest, and dragging the unloaded boat through them by
a cable. Our people chose the latter method, as the canoes felt
very heavy and cumbersome, being saturated with the rain which was
still falling rapidly. They were accordingly immediately unloaded,
the baggage placed on the shore, and the men entered the water to
their necks, headed by Captain Thing, and addressed themselves to
the troublesome and laborious task. In the meantime, Mr. N., and
myself were sent ahead to take the best care of ourselves that our
situation and the surrounding circumstances permitted. We found
a small Indian trail on the river bank, which we followed in all
its devious windings, up and down hills, over enormous piles of
rough flinty rocks, through brier bushes, and pools of water,
&c. &c., for about a mile, and descending near the edge of the
river, we observed a number of white men who had just succeeded in
forcing a large barge through the torrent, and were then warping
her into still water near the shore. Upon approaching them more
closely, we recognised, to our astonishment, our old friend Captain
Stewart, with the good missionaries, and all the rest who left us
at Walla-walla on the 4th. Poor fellows! Every man of them had been
over breast deep in water, and the rain, which was still falling in
torrents, was more than sufficient to drench what the waves did not
cover, so that they were most abundantly soaked and bedraggled. I
felt sadly inclined to laugh heartily at them, but a single glance
at the sorry appearance of myself and my companion was sufficient
to check the feeling. We joined them, and aided in kindling a fire
to warm and dry ourselves a little, as there was not a dry rag on
us, and we were all in an ague with cold. After a very considerable
time, we succeeded in igniting the wet timber, and had a tolerably
large fire. We all seated ourselves on the ground around it, and
related our adventures. They had, like ourselves, suffered somewhat
from the head-wind and heavy swells, but unlike us they had a craft
that would weather it easily; even they, however, {166} shipped some
water, and made very little progress for the last two days. They
informed us that Captain W.'s canoe had been dashed to pieces on
the rocks above, and that he and all his crew were thrown into the
water, and forced to swim for their lives. They all escaped, and
proceeded down the river, this morning, in a canoe, hired of the
Indians here, one of whom accompanied them, as pilot.

After a hasty meal of fish, purchased on the spot, our friends
reloaded their boat and got under way, hoping to reach Vancouver
by next morning. Mr. N. and myself remained some time longer here,
expecting intelligence from our people behind; we had begun to feel
a little uneasy about them, and thought of returning to look into
their situation, when Captain T. came in haste towards us, with
the mortifying intelligence that one canoe had been stove upon
the rocks, and the other so badly split, that he feared she would
not float; the latter was, however, brought on by the men, and
moored where we had stopped. A man was then despatched to an Indian
village, about five miles below, to endeavor to procure one or two
canoes and a pilot. In the mean time, we had all to walk back along
the circuitous and almost impassable Indian trail, and carry our wet
and heavy baggage from the spot where the boats had been unloaded.
The distance, as I have stated, was a full mile, and the road so
rough and encumbered as to be scarcely passable. In walking over
many of the large and steep rocks, it was often necessary that the
hands should be used to raise and support the body; this, with a
load, was inconvenient. Again, in ascending and descending the steep
and slippery hills, a single mis-step was certain to throw us in
the mud, and bruise us upon the sharp rocks which were planted all
around. This accident occurred several times with us all.

Over this most miserable of all roads, with the cold rain dashing
and pelting upon us during the whole time, until we felt as {167}
though we were frozen to the very marrow, did we all have to travel
and return four separate times, before our baggage was properly
deposited. It was by far the most fatiguing, cheerless, and
uncomfortable business in which I was ever engaged, and truly glad
was I to lie down at night on the cold, wet ground, wrapped in my
blankets, out of which I had just wrung the water, and I think I
never slept more soundly or comfortably than that night.[145]

  [145] I could not but recollect at that time, the last injunction of
  my dear old grandmother, not to sleep in damp beds!!--TOWNSEND.

I arose the next morning rested and refreshed, though somewhat sore
from sundry bruises received on the hills to which I have alluded.

_15th._--The rain still continued falling, but lightly, the weather
calm and cool. The water immediately below the cascades foams and
boils in a thousand eddies, forming little whirlpools, which,
however insignificant they may appear, are exceedingly dangerous
for light canoes, whirling their bows around to the current, and
capsising them in an instant. Near the shore, at the foot of the
cataract, there is a strong backward tow, through which it is
necessary to drag the canoe, by a line, for the distance of a
hundred yards; here it feels the force of the opposite current, and
is carried on at the rate of seven or eight miles to the hour.

The man whom we sent yesterday to the village, returned this
morning; he stated that one canoe only could be had, but that three
Indians, accustomed to the navigation, would accompany us; that they
would soon be with us, and endeavor to repair our damaged boat. In
an hour they came, and after the necessary clamping and caulking of
our leaky vessel, we loaded, and were soon moving rapidly down the
river. The rain ceased about noon, but the sun did not appear during
the day.

{168} _16th._--The day was a delightful one; the sky was robed in a
large flaky cumulus, the glorious sun occasionally bursting through
among the clouds, with dazzling splendor. We rose in the morning
in fine spirits, our Indians assuring us that "King George," as
they called the fort, was but a short distance from us. At about
11 o'clock, we arrived, and stepped on shore at the _end of our
journey_.

It is now three days over six months since I left my beloved home.
I, as well as the rest, have been in some situations of danger,
of trial, and of difficulty, but I have passed through them all
unharmed, with a constitution strengthened, and invigorated by
healthful exercise, and a heart which I trust can feel deeply,
sincerely thankful to that kind and overruling Providence who has
watched over and protected me.

We have passed for months through a country swarming with Indians
who thirsted for our blood, and whose greatest pride and glory
consisted in securing the scalp of a white man. Enemies, sworn,
determined enemies to all, both white and red, who intrude upon
his hunting grounds, the Blackfoot roams the prairie like a wolf
seeking his prey, and springing upon it when unprepared, and at the
moment when it supposes itself most secure. To those who have always
enjoyed the comforts and security of civilized life, it may seem
strange that persons who know themselves to be constantly exposed
to such dangers--who never lie down at night without the weapons
of death firmly grasped in their hands, and who are in hourly
expectation of hearing the terrific war whoop of the savage, should
yet sleep soundly and refreshingly, and feel themselves at ease;
such however is the fact. I never in my life enjoyed rest more than
when travelling through the country of which I speak. I had become
accustomed to it: I felt constant apprehension certainly, but not
to such an extent as to deprive me of any of the few comforts which
I could command in such an uncomfortable country. The {169} guard
might pass our tent, and cry "all's well," in his loudest key,
without disturbing my slumbers: but if the slightest _unusual_ noise
occurred, I was awake in an instant, and listening painfully for a
repetition of it.

On the beach in front of the fort, we were met by Mr. Lee, the
missionary, and Dr. John McLoughlin, the chief factor, and Governor
of the Hudson's Bay posts in this vicinity. The Dr. is a large,
dignified and very noble looking man, with a fine expressive
countenance, and remarkably bland and pleasing manners. The
missionary introduced Mr. N. and myself in due form, and we were
greeted and received with a frank and unassuming politeness which
was most peculiarly grateful to our feelings. He requested us to
consider his house our home, provided a separate room for our use,
a servant to wait upon us, and furnished us with every convenience
which we could possibly wish for. I shall never cease to feel
grateful to him for his disinterested kindness to the poor houseless
and travel-worn strangers.[146]

  [146] Dr. John McLoughlin, born near Quebec, October 19, 1784, was
  educated as a physician, and for a time studied in Paris. Early in
  the nineteenth century he entered the North West Company's employ,
  and was stationed at Fort William, on Lake Superior, where he knew
  Sir Alexander Mackenzie and other frontier celebrities. In 1818
  he married Margaret, widow of Alexander McKay, who perished in
  the "Tonquin" (1811). In 1824 McLoughlin was transferred to the
  Columbia, as chief factor for the Hudson's Bay Company in all the
  transmontane region. Making his headquarters at Fort Vancouver, he
  for upwards of twenty years ruled with a firm but mild justice this
  vast forest empire. On the great American emigration to Oregon,
  McLoughlin's humanity and kindness of heart led him to succor
  the weary homeseekers, for which cause he was reprimanded by the
  company and thereupon resigned (1846). The remainder of his life
  was passed at Oregon City, and was somewhat embittered by land
  controversies. He became a naturalized American citizen, and after
  his death (September 7, 1857) the Oregon legislature made to his
  heirs restitution of his lands, in recognition of the great service
  of the "Father of Oregon." Brief sketches from his life are included
  in E. E. Dye, _McLoughlin and Old Oregon, a Chronicle_ (Chicago,
  1900).--ED.



{170} CHAPTER X

     Fort Vancouver--Agricultural and other improvements--Vancouver
     "camp"--Approach of the rainy season--Expedition to the
     Wallammet--The falls--A village of Klikatat Indians--Manner
     of flattening the head--A Flathead infant--Brig "May
     Dacre"--Preparations for a settlement--Success of the
     naturalists--Chinook Indians--their appearance and costume--Ague
     and fever--Superstitious dread of the Indians--Desertion of the
     Sandwich Islanders from Captain Wyeth's party--Embarkation for a
     trip to the Islands--George, the Indian pilot--Mount Coffin--A
     visit to the tombs--Superstition--Visit to an Indian house--Fort
     George--Site of Astoria--A blind Indian boy--Cruel and unfeeling
     conduct of the savages--their moral character--Baker's Bay--Cape
     Disappointment--Dangerous bar at the entrance of the river--The
     sea beach--Visit of Mr. Ogden--Passage across the bar....


Fort Vancouver is situated on the north bank of the Columbia on a
large level plain, about a quarter of a mile from the shore.[147]
The space comprised within the stoccade is an oblong square, of
about one hundred, by two hundred and fifty feet. The houses built
of logs and frame-work, to the number of ten or twelve, are ranged
around in a quadrangular form, the one occupied by the doctor
being in the middle. In front, and enclosed on three sides by the
buildings, is a large open space, where all the in-door work of
the establishment is done. Here the Indians assemble with their
multifarious articles of trade, beaver, otter, venison, and various
other game, and here, once a week, several scores of Canadians are
employed, beating the furs which have been collected, in order to
free them from dust and vermin.

  [147] Fort Vancouver was the centre of the Hudson's Bay Company's
  operations in Oregon, and the most important post in that country.
  Built in 1824-25 under the supervision of Dr. John McLoughlin,
  who decided to transfer thither his headquarters from Fort George
  (Astoria), its site was on the north bank of the Columbia, a hundred
  and fourteen miles from the mouth of the river, and six miles above
  that of the Willamette. It was not a formidable enclosure, for the
  Indians thereabout were in general peaceful, and a large farm and an
  agricultural settlement were attached to the post. After McLoughlin
  resigned (1846), James Douglas was chief factor until the American
  possession. In 1849 General Harney took charge, and by orders from
  Washington destroyed part of the trading post, and established a
  United States military post now known as Vancouver Barracks.--ED.

{171} Mr. N. and myself walked over the farm with the doctor,
to inspect the various improvements which he has made. He has
already several hundred acres fenced in, and under cultivation,
and like our own western prairie land, it produces abundant crops,
particularly of grain, without requiring any manure. Wheat thrives
astonishingly; I never saw better in any country, and the various
culinary vegetables, potatoes, carrots, parsnips, &c., are in great
profusion, and of the first quality. Indian corn does not flourish
so well as at Walla-walla, the soil not being so well adapted to
it; melons are well flavored, but small; the greatest curiosity,
however, is the apples, which grow on small trees, the branches of
which would be broken without the support of props. So profuse is
the quantity of fruit that the limbs are covered with it, and it is
actually _packed_ together precisely in the same manner that onions
are attached to ropes when they are exposed for sale in our markets.

On the farm is a grist mill, a threshing mill, and a saw mill, the
two first, by horse, and the last, by water power; besides many
minor improvements in agricultural and other matters, which cannot
but astonish the stranger from a civilized land, and which reflect
great credit upon the liberal and enlightened chief factor.

In the propagation of domestic cattle, the doctor has been
particularly successful. Ten years ago a few head of neat cattle
were brought to the fort by some fur traders from California; these
have now increased to near seven hundred. They are a large framed,
long horned breed, inferior in their milch qualities to those of the
United States, but the beef is excellent, and in consequence of the
mildness of the climate, it is never necessary to provide them with
fodder during the winter, an abundant supply of excellent pasture
being always found.

On the farm, in the vicinity of the fort, are thirty or forty log
huts, which are occupied by the Canadians, and others attached {172}
to the establishment. These huts are placed in rows, with broad
lanes or streets between them, and the whole looks like a very neat
and beautiful village. The most fastidious cleanliness appears to be
observed; the women may be seen sweeping the streets and scrubbing
the door-sills as regularly as in our own proverbially cleanly
city.[148]

  [148] I have given this notice of the suburbs of the fort, as I find
  it in my journal written at the time; I had reason, subsequently,
  to change my opinion with regard to the scrupulous cleanliness of
  the Canadians' Indian wives, and particularly after inspecting the
  internal economy of the dwellings. What at first struck me as neat
  and clean, by an involuntary comparison of it with the extreme
  filthiness to which I had been accustomed amongst the Indians, soon
  revealed itself in its proper light, and I can freely confess that
  my first estimate was too high.--TOWNSEND.

_Sunday, September 25th._--Divine service was performed in the fort
this morning by Mr. Jason Lee. This gentleman and his nephew had
been absent some days in search of a suitable place to establish
themselves, in order to fulfil the object of their mission. They
returned yesterday, and intend leaving us to-morrow with their suite
for the station selected, which is upon the Wallammet river, about
sixty miles south of the fort.[149]

  [149] Jason Lee had intended to settle among the Flatheads; but upon
  the advice of McLoughlin, reinforced by his own observations, the
  missionary decided to establish his first station in the fertile
  Willamette valley. He proceeded to the small settlement of French
  Canadian ex-servants of the company and built his house on the east
  side of the river, at Chemyway, in Marion County.--ED.

In the evening we were gratified by the arrival of Captain Wyeth
from below, who informed us that the brig from Boston, which was
sent out by the company to which Wyeth is attached, had entered the
river, and was anchored about twenty miles below, at a spot called
Warrior's point, near the western entrance of the Wallammet.[150]

  [150] Warriors' Point is at the lower end of Wappato (or Sauvie)
  Island, the eastern boundary of the lower Willamette mouth. Probably
  it received its name from a party of Indians who in 1816 fired
  upon a trading party from Fort George and drove them back from the
  Willamette; see Alexander Ross, _Fur Hunters_, i, pp. 100, 101.--ED.

Captain W. mentioned his intention to visit the Wallammet country,
and seek out a convenient location for a fort which he wishes
to establish without delay, and Mr. N. and myself accepted an
invitation to accompany him in the morning. He has brought with
him one of the brig's boats, and eight oarsmen, five of whom are
Sandwich Islanders.

We have experienced for several days past, gloomy, lowering, and
showery weather; indeed the sun has scarcely been seen for {173} a
week past. This is said to indicate the near approach of the rainy
season, which usually sets in about the middle of October, or even
earlier. After this time, until December, there is very little clear
weather, showers or heavy clouds almost constantly prevailing.

On the 29th, Captain Wyeth, Mr. N., and myself, embarked in the
ship's boat for our exploring excursion. We had a good crew of fine
robust sailors, and the copper-colored islanders,--or _Kanakas_, as
they are called,--did their duty with great alacrity and good will.

At about five miles below the fort, we entered the upper mouth
of the Wallammet. This river is here about half the width of the
Columbia, a clear and beautiful stream, and navigable for large
vessels to the distance of twenty-five miles. It is covered with
numerous islands, the largest of which is that called _Wappatoo
Island_, about twenty miles in length.[151] The vegetation on the
main land is good, the timber generally pine and post oak, and the
river is margined in many places with a beautiful species of willow
with large ob-lanceolate leaves like those of the peach, and white
on their under surface. The timber on the islands is chiefly oak, no
pine growing there. At about 10 o'clock we overtook three men whom
Captain W. had sent ahead in a canoe and we all landed soon after
on the beach and dined on a mess of salmon and peas which we had
provided. We were under way again in the afternoon, and encamped
at about sunset. We have as yet seen no suitable place for an
establishment, and to-morrow we proceed to the falls of the river,
about fifteen miles further. Almost all the land in the vicinity is
excellent and well calculated for cultivation, and several spots
which we have visited, would be admirably adapted to the captain's
views, but that there is not a sufficient extent unincumbered, or
which could be fitted for the purposes of tillage in a space of time
short enough {174} to be serviceable; others are at some seasons
inundated, which is an insurmountable objection.

  [151] This large island across the mouth of the Willamette valley
  was by Lewis and Clark named Image-Canoe, later Wappato Island. It
  is now known as Sauvie for Jean Baptiste Sauvé, who was for many
  years a faithful servant of the Hudson's Bay Company, and maintained
  the dairy farm on this island.--ED.

We embarked early the next morning, and at 11 o'clock arrived
at the falls, after encountering some difficulties from rapids,
through which we had to warp our boat.[152] There are here three
falls on a line of rocks extending across the river, which forms
the bed of the upper channel. The water is precipitated through
deep abrazed gorges, and falls perhaps forty feet at an angle of
about twenty degrees. It was a beautiful sight when viewed from a
distance, but it became grand and almost sublime as we approached
it nearer. I mounted the rocks and stood over the highest fall,
and although the roar of the cataract was almost deafening, and
the rays of the bright sun reflected from the white and glittering
foam threatened to deprive me of sight, yet I became so absorbed
in the contemplation of the scene, and the reflections which were
involuntarily excited, as to forget every thing else for the time,
and was only aroused by Captain W. tapping me on the shoulder, and
telling me that every thing was arranged for our return. While I
visited the falls, the captain and his men had found what they
sought for; and the object of our voyage being accomplished, we got
on board immediately and shaped our course down the river with a
fair wind, and the current in favor.

  [152] The falls of Willamette were not discovered by Lewis and
  Clark, who explored that river only to the site of Portland.
  Probably the first white men to visit them were a party led by
  Franchère and William Henry in 1814; see Franchère's _Narrative_
  in our volume vi, p. 313. McLoughlin staked out a claim around
  these falls in 1829, and made some improvements. Later (1840) his
  claims were contested, but in 1842 the land was laid off in lots and
  entitled Oregon City. The falls are now passed by locks, in order to
  facilitate navigation on the upper Willamette.--ED.

About two miles below the cataract is a small village of Klikatat
Indians.[153] Their situation does not appear different from what
we have been accustomed to see in the neighborhood of the fort.
They live in the same sort of miserable loose hovels, and are
the same wretched, squalid looking people. Although enjoying far
more advantages, and having in a much greater degree the means of
rendering themselves comfortable, yet their mode of living, their
garments, their wigwams, and every thing connected with them, is
not much better than the Snakes and {175} Bannecks, and very far
inferior to that fine, noble-looking race, the Kayouse, whom we met
on the _Grand ronde_.

  [153] The Klikitat were a Shahaptian tribe, near kin to the Yakima.
  Their habitat was on both sides of the Cascade Range, north of
  the Columbia. Early in the nineteenth century they made a futile
  attempt to settle in the Willamette valley. They were probably the
  Wahhowpums of Lewis and Clark.--ED.

A custom prevalent, and almost universal amongst these Indians, is
that of flattening, or mashing in the whole front of the skull, from
the superciliary ridge to the crown. The appearance produced by this
unnatural operation is almost hideous, and one would suppose that
the intellect would be materially affected by it. This, however,
does not appear to be the case, as I have never seen, (with a single
exception, the Kayouse,) a race of people who appeared more shrewd
and intelligent. I had a conversation on this subject, a few days
since, with a chief who speaks the English language. He said that
he had exerted himself to abolish the practice in his own tribe,
but although his people would listen patiently to his talk on most
subjects, their ears were firmly closed when this was mentioned;
"they would leave the council fire, one by one, until none but a few
squaws and children were left to drink in the words of the chief."
It is even considered among them a degradation to possess a round
head, and one whose _caput_ has happened to be neglected in his
infancy, can never become even a subordinate chief in his tribe, and
is treated with indifference and disdain, as one who is unworthy a
place amongst them.

The flattening of the head is practiced by at least ten or twelve
distinct tribes of the lower country, the Klikatats, Kalapooyahs,
and Multnomahs, of the Wallammet, and its vicinity;[154] the
Chinooks, Klatsaps, Klatstonis, Kowalitsks, Katlammets, Killemooks,
and Chekalis of the lower Columbia and its tributaries, and probably
by others both north and south.[155] The tribe called Flatheads,
or _Salish_, who reside near the sources of the Oregon, have long
since abolished this custom.[156]

  [154] For the Kalapuya and Multnomah tribes of the Willamette
  valley, consult Ross's _Oregon Settlers_, in our volume vii, p. 230,
  note 80, and Franchère's _Narrative_ in our volume vi, p. 247, note
  53, respectively.--ED.

  [155] Consult Franchère's _Narrative_, notes 39, 40, 49, 65, 67, and
  Ross's _Oregon Settlers_, pp. 102, 103, note 13.--ED.

  [156] For the use of Flathead as a generic term, consult Franchère's
  _Narrative_, p. 340, note 145. Lewis and Clark noted that instances
  of the custom of flattening the forehead by pressure diminished in
  frequency from the coast east: among the tribes of eastern Oregon
  and Washington, only an occasional female appeared with flattened
  head, while among the coast tribes the custom was universal for both
  sexes.--ED.

The mode by which the flattening is effected, varies considerably
with the different tribes. The Wallammet Indians place the infant,
soon after birth, upon a board, to the edges of which {176} are
attached little loops of hempen cord or leather, and other similar
cords are passed across and back, in a zig-zag manner, through these
loops, enclosing the child, and binding it firmly down. To the
upper edge of this board, in which is a depression to receive the
back part of the head, another smaller one is attached by hinges
of leather, and made to lie obliquely upon the forehead, the force
of the pressure being regulated by several strings attached to its
edge, which are passed through holes in the board upon which the
infant is lying, and secured there.

The mode of the Chinooks, and others near the sea, differs widely
from that of the upper Indians, and appears somewhat less barbarous
and cruel. A sort of cradle is formed by excavating a pine log to
the depth of eight or ten inches. The child is placed in it on a bed
of little grass mats, and bound down in the manner above described.
A little boss of tightly plaited and woven grass is then applied
to the forehead, and secured by a cord to the loops at the side.
The infant is thus suffered to remain from four to eight months,
or until the sutures of the skull have in some measure united, and
the bone become solid and firm. It is seldom or never taken from
the cradle, except in case of severe illness, until the flattening
process is completed.[157]

  [157] See illustration in _Original Journals of the Lewis and Clark
  Expedition_, iv, p. 10.--ED.

I saw, to-day, a young child from whose head the board had just
been removed. It was, without exception, the most frightful and
disgusting looking object that I ever beheld. The whole front of
the head was completely flattened, and the mass of brain being
forced back, caused an enormous projection there. The poor little
creature's eyes protruded to the distance of half an inch, and
looked inflamed and discolored, as did all the surrounding parts.
Although I felt a kind of chill creep over me from the contemplation
of such dire deformity, yet there was something so stark-staring,
and absolutely queer in the physiognomy, that I could not repress
a smile; and when the mother amused the little object and made it
laugh, it looked so irresistibly, {177} so _terribly_ ludicrous,
that I and those who were with me, burst into a simultaneous roar,
which frightened it and made it cry, in which predicament it looked
much less horrible than before.

On the 1st of November we arrived at the brig. She was moored, head
and stern, to a large rock near the lower mouth of the Wallammet.
Captain Lambert with his ship's company, and our own mountain men,
were all actively engaged at various employments; carpenters,
smiths, coopers, and other artisans were busy in their several
vocations; domestic animals, pigs, sheep, goats, poultry, &c., were
roaming about as if perfectly at home, and the whole scene looked
so like the entrance to a country village, that it was difficult to
fancy oneself in a howling wilderness inhabited only by the wild
and improvident Indian, and his scarcely more free and fearless
neighbors, the bear and the wolf.[158] An excellent temporary
storehouse of twigs, thatched with grass, has been erected, in which
has been deposited the extensive assortment of goods necessary for
the settlement, as well as a number of smaller ones, in which the
men reside. It is intended as soon as practicable, to build a large
and permanent dwelling of logs, which will also include the store
and trading establishment, and form the groundwork for an _American
fort_ on the river Columbia.

  [158] The brig was the "May Dacre;" Captain Lambert had been in
  command of Wyeth's earlier vessel, the "Sultana," which was wrecked
  on a South Pacific reef. He later made many voyages in command
  of various vessels, the last of which sailed from Hawaii to New
  Bedford, Massachusetts. He died at "Sailor's Snug Harbor" on Staten
  Island. See F. H. Victor, "Flotsom and Jetsom of the Pacific," in
  _Oregon Historical Society Quarterly_, ii, pp. 36-54.--ED.

_5th._--Mr. N. and myself are now residing on board the brig, and
pursuing with considerable success our scientific researches through
the neighborhood. I have shot and prepared here several new species
of birds, and two or three undescribed quadrupeds, besides procuring
a considerable number, which, though known to naturalists, are rare,
and therefore valuable. My companion is of course in his element;
the forest, the plain, the rocky hill, and the mossy bank yield him
a rich and most abundant supply.

{178} We are visited daily by considerable numbers of Chinook and
Klikatat Indians, many of whom bring us provisions of various
kinds, salmon, deer, ducks, &c., and receive in return, powder and
shot, knives, paint, and _Indian rum_, i. e. rum and water in the
proportion of one part of the former to two of the latter. Some
of these Indians would be handsome were it not for the abominable
practice, which, as I have said, is almost universal amongst them,
of destroying the form of the head. The features of many are
regular, though often devoid of expression, and the persons of
the men generally are rather symmetrical; their stature is low,
with light sinewy limbs, and remarkably small delicate hands.
The women are usually more rotund, and, in some instances, even
approach obesity. The principal clothing worn by them is a sort
of short petticoat made of strands of pine bark or twisted hempen
strings, tied around the loins like a marro. This article they call
a _kalaquarté_; and is often their only dress; some, however, cover
the shoulders with a blanket, or robe made of muskrat or hare skins
sewed together.[159]

  [159] See _Original Journals of the Lewis and Clark Expedition_,
  iii, pp. 239-242.--ED.

A disease of a very fatal character is prevalent among these
Indians; many of them have died of it; even some of those in the
neighborhood of the fort, where medical assistance was always at
hand. The symptoms are a general coldness, soreness and stiffness
of the limbs and body, with violent tertian ague. Its fatal
termination is attributable to its tendency to attack the liver,
which is generally affected in a few days after the first symptoms
are developed. Several of the white people attached to the fort have
been ill with it, but no deaths have occurred amongst them, the
disease in their case having yielded to the simple tonic remedies
usually employed at home. This I have no doubt would be equally the
case with the Indians, were they {179} willing to submit to proper
restrictions during the time of administering medicine.

Captain Lambert informs me that on his first landing here the
Indians studiously avoided his vessel, and all kind of intercourse
with his crew, from the supposition, (which they have since
acknowledged) that the malady which they dread so much was thus
conveyed. As in a short time it became desirable, on account of
procuring supplies of provision, to remove this impression, some
pains were taken to convince the Indians of their error, and they
soon visited the ship without fear.

Mr. N. and myself have been anxious to escape the wet and
disagreeable winter of this region, and visit some other portion of
the country, where the inclemency of the season will not interfere
with the prosecution of our respective pursuits. After some
reflection and consultation, we concluded to take passage in the
brig, which will sail in a few weeks for the Sandwich Islands. We
shall remain there about three months, and return to the river in
time to commence our peregrinations in the spring.

_23d._--At Fort Vancouver. A letter was received yesterday by Dr.
McLoughlin, from Captain Wyeth, dated Walla-walla, stating that the
twelve Sandwich Islanders whom he took with him a week since for
a journey to Fort Hall, had deserted, each taking a horse. They
had no doubt heard from some of their countrymen, whom they met at
the fort, of the difficulties of the route before them, which were
probably very much exaggerated. Captain W. is on the alert to find
them, and is sending men on their trail in every direction, but
it is more than probable that they will not be overtaken, and the
consequence will then be, that the expedition must be abandoned, and
the captain return to the fort to spend the winter.

_December 3d._--Yesterday Mr. N. and myself went down the river to
the brig, and this morning early the vessel left her {180} moorings,
and with her sails unloosed stood out into the channel way. The
weather was overcast, and we had but little wind, so that our
progress during the morning was necessarily slow. In the afternoon
we ran aground in one and a half fathoms water, but as the tide was
low, we were enabled to get her clear in the evening. The navigation
of this river is particularly difficult in consequence of numerous
shoals and sand bars, and good pilots are scarce, the Indians alone
officiating in that capacity. Towards noon the next day, a Kowalitsk
Indian with but one eye, who said his name was _George_, boarded us,
and showed a letter which he carried, written by Captain McNeall,
in the Hudson's Bay service, recommending said George as a capable
and experienced pilot. We accepted his services gladly, and made a
bargain with him to take us into Baker's bay near the cape, for four
bottles of rum; with the understanding, however, that every time
the brig ran aground, one bottle of the precious liquor was to be
forfeited.[160] George agreed to the terms, and taking his station
at the bow, gave his orders to the man at the wheel like one having
authority, pointing with his finger when he wished a deviation from
the common course, and pronouncing in a loud voice the single word
_ookook_, (here.)

  [160] For Baker's Bay, and the origin of its name, see Franchère's
  _Narrative_, our volume vi, p. 234, note 38.--ED.

On the afternoon of the 4th, we passed along a bold precipitous
shore, near which we observed a large isolated rock, and on it a
great number of canoes, deposited above the reach of the tides.
This spot is called _Mount Coffin_, and the canoes contain the dead
bodies of Indians. They are carefully wrapped in blankets, and all
the personal property of the deceased, bows and arrows, guns, salmon
spears, ornaments, &c., are placed within, and around his canoe.
The vicinity of this, and all other cemeteries, is held so sacred
by the Indians, that they never approach it, except to make similar
deposites; they will often even travel a considerable distance out
of their course, in order to avoid intruding upon the sanctuary of
their dead.[161]

  [161] For Mount Coffin see both Franchère and Ross, volume vi, p.
  244, and volume vii, pp. 117, 118, respectively.--ED.

{181} We came to anchor near this rock in the evening, and Captain
Lambert, Mr. N., and myself visited the tombs. We were especially
careful not to touch or disarrange any of the fabrics, and it was
well we were so, for as we turned to leave the place, we found
that we had been narrowly watched by about twenty Indians, whom
we had not seen when we landed from our boat. After we embarked,
we observed an old withered crone with a long stick or wand in
her hand, who approached, and walked over the ground which we had
defiled with our sacrilegious tread, waving her enchanted rod over
the mouldering bones, as if to purify the atmosphere around, and
exorcise the evil spirits which we had called up.

I have been very anxious to procure the skulls of some of these
Indians, and should have been willing, so far as I alone was
concerned, to encounter some risk to effect my object, but I have
refrained on account of the difficulty in which the ship and
crew would be involved, if the sacrilege should be discovered; a
prejudice might thus be excited against our little colony which
would not soon be overcome, and might prove a serious injury.

_6th._--The weather is almost constantly rainy and squally, making
it unpleasant to be on deck; we are therefore confined closely to
the cabin, and are anxious to get out to sea as soon as possible, if
only to escape this.

In the afternoon, the captain and myself went ashore in the
long-boat, and visited several Indian houses upon the beach. These
are built of roughly hewn boards and logs, usually covered with
pine bark, or matting of their own manufacture, and open at the
top, to allow the smoke to escape. In one of these houses we found
men, women, and children, to the number of fifty-two, seated as
usual, upon the ground, around numerous fires, the smoke from
which filled every cranny of the building, and to us was almost
stifling, although the Indians did not appear to suffer {182} any
inconvenience from it. Although living in a state of the most abject
poverty, deprived of most of the absolute necessaries of life, and
frequently enduring the pangs of protracted starvation, yet these
poor people appear happy and contented. They are scarcely qualified
to enjoy the common comforts of life, even if their indolence did
not prevent the attempt to procure them.

On the afternoon of the 8th, we anchored off _Fort George_, as it
is called, although perhaps it scarcely deserves the name of a
fort, being composed of but one principal house of hewn boards,
and a number of small Indian huts surrounding it, presenting the
appearance, from a distance, of an ordinary small farm house with
its appropriate outbuildings. There is but one white man residing
here, the superintendent of the fort; but there is probably no
necessity for more, as the business done is not very considerable,
most of the furs being taken by the Indians to Vancouver. The
establishment is, however, of importance, independent of its utility
as a trading post, as it is situated within view of the dangerous
cape, and intelligence of the arrival of vessels can be communicated
to the authorities at Vancouver in time for them to render adequate
assistance to such vessels by supplying them with pilots, &c. This
is the spot where once stood the fort established by the direction
of our honored countryman, John Jacob Astor. One of the chimneys
of old Fort Astoria is still standing, a melancholy monument of
American enterprise and domestic misrule. The spot where once the
fine parterre overlooked the river, and the bold stoccade enclosed
the neat and substantial fort, is now overgrown with weeds and
bushes, and can scarce be distinguished from the primeval forest
which surrounds it on every side.[162]

  [162] Compare Franchère's _Narrative_, in our volume vi, p. 241,
  note 42, and Ross's _Oregon Settlers_, our volume vii, pp. 243-247,
  250. The fort had been abandoned in 1824, but later was restored as
  a post of observation.--ED.

Captain Lambert, Mr. N. and myself visited the Indian houses in
the neighborhood. In one of them we saw a poor little boy about
three years of age who had been blind from his birth. He {183} was
sitting on the ground near the fire, surrounded by a quantity of
fish bones which he had been picking. Our sympathy was very much
excited for the poor little unfortunate, particularly as he was made
a subject for the taunting jibes and laughter of a number of men and
women, squatting around, and his mother sat by with the most cruel
apathy and unconcern, and only smiled at the commiseration which
we expressed for her innocent and peculiarly unhappy offspring.
It seems difficult to believe that those who possess the form and
countenance of human creatures, should so debase the natural good
feelings which God has implanted in them: but these ignorant and
gross wretches seemed to take credit to themselves in rendering
this afflicted being unhappy, and smiled and looked at each other
when we endeavored to infuse a little pity into them. The child
had evidently been very much neglected, and almost starved, and
the little articles which we presented it, (in the hope, that the
Indians on seeing us manifest an interest in it, would treat it
more tenderly,) it put to its mouth eagerly, but finding them not
eatable, threw them aside in disgust. Oh! how I wished at that
moment for a morsel of bread to give this little famished and
neglected creature. We soon left the place, and returned to the
brig, but I could think of nothing during the remainder of the
evening but the little blind child, and at night I dreamed I saw
it, and it raised its dim and sightless orbs, and stretched out
its little emaciated arms towards me, as if begging for a crumb to
prevent its starving.

These people, as I have already said, do not appear to possess a
particle of natural good feeling, and in their moral character,
they are little better than brutes. In the case of the blind boy,
they seemed to take pride in tormenting it, and rendering it
miserable, and vied with each other in the skill and dexterity
with which they applied to it the most degrading and insulting
epithets. These circumstances, with others, in regard to their
{184} moral character, which I shall not even mention, have tended
very considerably to lower the estimation in which I have always
held the red man of the forest, and serve to strengthen the opinion
which I had long since formed, that nothing but the introduction
of civilization, with its good and wholesome laws, can ever render
the Indian of service to himself, or raise him from the state of
wretchedness which has so long characterized his expiring race.

The next morning, we ran down into Baker's bay, and anchored within
gunshot of the cape, when Captain Lambert and myself went on shore
in the boat, to examine the channel, and decide upon the prospect
of getting out to sea. This passage is a very dangerous one, and is
with reason dreaded by mariners. A wide bar of sand extends from
Cape Disappointment to the opposite shore,--called Point Adams,--and
with the exception of a space, comprehending about half a mile, the
sea at all times breaks furiously, the surges dashing to the height
of the mast head of a ship, and with the most terrific roaring.[163]
Sometimes the water in the channel is agitated equally with that
which covers the whole length of the bar, and it is then a matter
of imminent risk to attempt a passage. Vessels have occasionally
been compelled to lie in under the cape for several weeks, in
momentary expectation of the subsidence of the dangerous breakers,
and they have not unfrequently been required to stand off shore,
from without, until the crews have suffered extremely for food and
water. This circumstance must ever form a barrier to a permanent
settlement here; the sands, which compose the bar, are constantly
shifting, and changing the course and depth of the channel, so that
none but the small coasting vessels in the service of the company
can, with much safety, pass back and forth.

  [163] For Cape Disappointment, and Point Adams, consult Franchère's
  _Narrative_, in our volume vi, p. 233, notes 36, 37.--ED.

Mr. N. and myself visited the sea beach, outside the cape, in the
hope of finding peculiar marine shells, but although we {185}
searched assiduously during the morning, we had but little success.
We saw several deer in the thick forest on the side of the cape,
and a great number of black shags, or cormorants, flying over the
breakers, and resting upon the surf-washed rocks.

On the morning of the 11th, Mr. Hanson, the mate, returned from the
shore, and reported that the channel was smooth; it was therefore
deemed safe to attempt the passage immediately. While we were
weighing our anchor, we descried a brig steering towards us, which
soon crossed the bar, and ran up to within speaking distance. It
was one of the Hudson's Bay Company's coasters, and, as we were
getting under way, a boat put off from her, and we were boarded by
Mr. Ogden, a chief factor from one of the Company's forts on the
coast.[164] He informed us that the brig left Naas about the first
of October, but had been delayed by contrary winds, and rough,
boisterous weather.[165] Thus the voyage which usually requires
but about eight days for its performance, occupied upwards of _two
months_. They had been on an allowance of a pint of water per
day, and had suffered considerably for fresh provision. Mr. Ogden
remained with us but a short time, and we stood out past the cape.

  [164] Peter Skeen Ogden was the son of Isaac, chief justice of the
  Province of Quebec--originally a loyalist from New York. Early
  entering the fur-trade, young Ogden was sent out to Astoria,
  arriving after its transference to the British. He thereupon entered
  the North West Company, and spent his life in the Oregon country. A
  successful trapper and trader, he led for many years parties into
  the interior, where he explored the Yellowstone and Lewis River
  countries, and Utah, giving his name to Ogden's Hole and the Utah
  city therein. In 1825 he had a disastrous encounter with Ashley, and
  from that time onward competition with American traders was keen.
  He followed Jedidiah S. Smith west to California, trapping on the
  upper Sacramento and discovering Ogden River--which Frémont renamed
  Humboldt. In 1835 Ogden was appointed chief factor of New Caledonia,
  and made his headquarters at Fort St. James, on Stuart Lake. Ogden
  married Julia, daughter of a Flathead chief, and her intrepidity and
  understanding of Indian nature aided her husband's undertakings. He
  died at Oregon City in 1854, aged about sixty years.--ED.

  [165] Nass Bay and Harbor, in upper British Columbia, near the
  Alaska boundary.--ED.

When we entered the channel, the water which had before been so
smooth, became suddenly very much agitated, swelling, and roaring,
and foaming around us, as if the surges were upheaved from the very
bottom, and as [if] our vessel would fall in the trough of the sea,
pitching down like a huge leviathan seeking its native depths, I
could not but feel positive, that the enormous wave, which hung like
a judgment over our heads, would inevitably engulph us; but the good
ship, like a creature instinct with life, as though she knew her
danger, gallantly rose upon it, and but dipped her bows into its
crest, as if in scorn of its mighty and irresistible power. This
is my first sea voyage, and every thing upon the great deep is of
course novel and interesting to me. During the scene which I have
just described, although I was {186} aware of our imminent peril,
and the tales that I had frequently heard of vessels perishing in
this very spot, and in precisely such a sea, recurred to my mind
with some force, yet I could not but feel a kind of secret and wild
joy at finding myself in a situation of such awful and magnificent
grandeur. I thought of the lines of Shelley, and repeated them to
myself in a kind of ecstasy.

    "And see'st thou, and hear'st thou,
     And fear'st thou, and fear'st thou,
     And ride we not free
     O'er the terrible sea,
            I and thou?"

In about twenty minutes we had escaped all the danger, and found
ourselves riding easily in a beautiful placid sea. We set the sails,
which had been shortened on the bar, and the gallant vessel feeling
the impulse of the wind, rushed ahead as if exulting in the victory
she had achieved.



CHAPTER XII

... Arrival at the Columbia.


{217} On the 15th,[166] the wind, which had for several days been
light, began steadily to increase, until we were running ten knots
by the log. In the afternoon, the atmosphere became thick and hazy,
indicating our approach to the shores of the continent. In a short
time, a number of the small Auks,--of which we saw a few immediately
after leaving the Columbia,--were observed sporting in the waves,
close under our bows; then several gulls of the species common on
the river, and soon after large flocks of geese and canvass-back
ducks.

  [166] This date is April 15, 1835. The interval between this and
  December 11, 1834 (the part omitted) was spent in a visit to the
  Hawaiian Islands. Townsend returned on Wyeth's vessel, the "May
  Dacre."--ED.

The sea gradually lost its legitimate deep blue color, and assumed a
dirty, green appearance, indicating soundings. Upon heaving the lead
here, we got only eleven fathoms, and found that we had approached
nearer than was prudent, having been misled by the haze. Wore ship
immediately, and soon saw land, bearing east, which we ascertained
to be south of Cape Disappointment. Stood off during the night, and
the next morning at 4 o'clock, the wind favoring us, we bore up for
the cape, and at 7 crossed the dangerous bar safely, and ran direct
for the river.



{218} CHAPTER XIII

     Passage up the Columbia--Birds--A trip to the
     Wallammet--Methodist missionaries--their prospects--Fort
     William--Band-tail pigeons--Wretched condition of the
     Indians at the falls--A Kallapooyah village--Indian
     cemetery--Superstitions--Treatment of diseases--Method of
     steaming--"Making medicine"--Indian sorcerers--An interruption
     of festivities--Death of Thornburg--An inquest--Verdict of the
     jury--Inordinate appetite for ardent spirits--Misfortunes of the
     American Company--Eight men drowned--Murder of two trappers by
     the Banneck Indians--Arrival of Captain Thing--His meeting and
     skirmish with the Blackfeet Indians--Massacre--A narrow escape.


On the 16th, we anchored abreast of Oak point.[167] Our decks
were almost immediately crowded with Indians to welcome us, and
among them we recognised many faces with which we were familiar.
_Chinamus_, the Chinook chief, was the principal of these, who, with
his wife, _Aillapust_, or _Sally_, as she is called at the fort,
paid us an early visit, and brought us red deer and sturgeon to
regale upon after our voyage.

  [167] For a brief account of Oak Point, see Franchère's _Narrative_
  in our volume vi, p. 261, note 74.--ED.

On the afternoon of the next day, we ran up to Warrior's point, the
brig's old mooring ground. The people here had been anxious to see
us; extensive preparations had been made to prosecute the salmon
fishery, and the coopers have been engaged the whole winter in
making barrels to accommodate them. Mr. Walker, the missionaries'
quondam associate, was in charge of the post, and he informed us
that Captain Wyeth had returned only a few weeks since from the
upper country, where he had been spending the winter, engaged in the
arduous business of {219} trapping, in the prosecution of which he
had endured great and various hardships.[168]

  [168] Captain Wyeth returned to Fort Vancouver February 12, 1835.
  The journal of his hardships during this trapping expedition is in
  his _Oregon Expeditions_, pp. 234-250.--ED.

_May 12th._--The rainy season is not yet over; we have had almost
constant showers since we arrived, but now the weather appears
settled. Birds are numerous, particularly the warblers, (_Sylvia_.)
Many of these are migratory, remaining but a few weeks: others breed
here, and reside during the greater part of the summer. I have
already procured several new species.

_20th._--Mr. Wyeth, came down from Walla-walla yesterday, and this
morning I embarked with him in a large canoe, manned by Kanakas,
for a trip to the Wallammet falls in order to procure salmon.
We visited fort William, (Wyeth's new settlement upon Wappatoo
island,) which is about fifteen miles from the lower mouth of the
Wallammet.[169] We found here the missionaries, Messrs. Lee and
Edwards, who arrived to-day from their station, sixty miles above.
They give flattering accounts of their prospects here; they are
surrounded by a considerable number of Indians who are friendly to
the introduction of civilization and religious light, and who treat
them with the greatest hospitality and kindness. They have built
several comfortable log houses, and the soil in their vicinity they
represent as unusually rich and productive. They have, I think, a
good prospect of being serviceable to this miserable and degraded
people; and if they commence their operations judiciously, and
pursue a steady, unwavering course, the Indians in this section of
country may yet be redeemed from the thraldom of vice, superstition,
and indolence, to which they have so long submitted, and above which
their energies have not enabled them to rise.

  [169] According to Wyeth's statements, Fort William was eight miles
  from Vancouver, on the southwest side of the island. Built in the
  spring of 1835, it was upon Wyeth's return to the United States
  (1836) left in charge of C. M. Walker, who came out with Jason Lee.
  Walker was given instructions to lease the place, but no tenant
  offering, it was soon abandoned, and the Hudson's Bay Company
  established a dairy farm near the site.--ED.

The spot chosen by Captain W. for his fort is on a high piece
of land, which will probably not be overflown by the periodical
freshets, and the soil is the rich black loam so plentifully
distributed through this section of country. The men now live in
tents and temporary huts, but several log houses are constructing
{220} which, when finished, will vie in durability and comfort with
Vancouver itself.

_21st._--The large band-tail pigeon (_Colomba fasciata_) is very
abundant near the river, found in flocks of from fifty to sixty, and
perching upon the dead trees along the margin of the stream. They
are feeding upon the buds of the balsam poplar; are very fat, and
excellent eating. In the course of the morning, and without leaving
the canoe, I killed enough to supply our people with provision for
two days.

_24th._-We visited the falls to-day, and while Captain W. was
inspecting the vicinity to decide upon the practicability of drawing
his seine here, I strolled into the Indian lodges on the bank of
the river. The poor creatures were all living miserably, and some
appeared to be suffering absolute want. Those who were the best
supplied, had nothing more than the fragments of a few sturgeons and
lamprey eels, kamas bread, &c. To the roofs of the lodges were hung
a number of crooked bladders, filled with rancid seal oil, used as a
sort of condiment with the dry and unsavory sturgeon.

On the Klakamas river,[170] about a mile below, we found a few
lodges belonging to Indians of the Kalapooyah tribe. We addressed
them in Chinook, (the language spoken by all those inhabiting the
Columbia below the cascades,)[171] but they evidently did not
comprehend a word, answering in a peculiarly harsh and gutteral
language, with which we were entirely unacquainted. However, we
easily made them understand by signs that we wanted salmon, and
being assured in the same significant manner that they had none
to sell, we decamped as soon as possible, to escape the fleas and
other vermin with which the interior of their wretched habitations
were plentifully supplied. We saw here a large Indian cemetery. The
bodies had been buried under the ground, and each tomb had a board
at its head, upon which was rudely painted some strange, uncouth
figure. The {221} pans, kettles, clothing, &c., of the deceased,
were all suspended upon sticks, driven into the ground near the head
board.

  [170] Clackamas River rises in the Cascade Range, between Mounts
  Hood and Jefferson, and flows northwest through a county of the same
  name into the Willamette, at the present Oregon City.--ED.

  [171] On the Chinook jargon--the medium of communication between
  the whites and Indians of the Northwest coast--see Franchère's
  _Narrative_ in our volume vi, p. 240, note 40.--ED.

_June 6th._--The Indians frequently bring us salmon, and we observe
that, invariably, before they part with them, they are careful to
remove the hearts. This superstition, is religiously adhered to by
all the Chinook tribe. Before the fish is split and prepared for
eating, a small hole is made in the breast, the heart taken out,
roasted, and eaten in silence, and with great gravity. This practice
is continued only during the first month in which the salmon make
their appearance, and is intended as a kind of propitiation to the
particular deity or spirit who presides over the finny tribes.
Superstition in all its absurd and most revolting aspects is rife
among this people. They believe in "black spirits, and white, blue
spirits, and grey," and to each grizzly monster some peculiar virtue
or ghastly terror is attributed. When a chief goes on a hunting or
fishing excursion, he puts himself under the care of one of these
good spirits, and if his expedition is unsuccessful, he affirms
that the antagonist evil principle has gained the victory; but this
belief does not prevent his making another, and another attempt,
in the hope, each time, that his guardian genius will have the
ascendency.

In their treatment of diseases, they employ but few remedies, and
these are generally simple and inefficacious. Wounds are treated
with an application of green leaves, and bound with strips of pine
bark, and in some febrile cases, a sweat is administered. This is
effected by digging a hole two or three feet deep in the ground,
and placing within it some hemlock or spruce boughs moistened with
water; hot stones are then thrown in, and a frame work of twigs
is erected over the opening, and covered closely with blankets to
prevent the escape of the steam. Under this contrivance, the patient
is placed; and after remaining {222} fifteen or twenty minutes, he
is removed, and plunged into cold water.

Their mode of "_making medicine_," to use their own term, is,
however, very different from this. The sick man is laid upon a bed
of mats and blankets, elevated from the ground, and surrounded by
a raised frame work of hewn boards. Upon this frame two "medicine
men" (sorcerers) place themselves, and commence chaunting, in a low
voice, a kind of long drawn, sighing song. Each holds a stout stick,
of about four feet long, in his hand, with which he beats upon the
frame work, and keeps accurate time with the music. After a few
minutes, the song begins to increase in loudness and quickness, (a
corresponding force and celerity being given to the stick,) until in
a short time the noise becomes almost deafening, and may well serve,
in many instances, to accelerate the exit of him whom it is their
intention to benefit.

During the administration of the medicine, the relations and
friends of the patient are often employed in their usual avocations
in the same house with him, and by his bedside; the women making
mats, moccasins, baskets, &c., and the men lolling around, smoking
or conversing upon general subjects. No appearance of sorrow or
concern is manifested for the brother, husband, or father, expiring
beside them, and but for the presence and ear-astounding din of the
medicine men, you would not know that anything unusual had occurred
to disturb the tranquillity of the family circle.

These medicine men are, of course, all impostors, their object being
simply the acquisition of property; and in case of the recovery of
the patient, they make the most exorbitant demands of his relations;
but when the sick man dies, they are often compelled to fly, in
order to escape the vengeance of the survivors, who generally
attribute the fatal termination to the evil influence of the
practitioner.

{223} _July 4th._--This morning was ushered in by the firing of
cannon on board our brig, and we had made preparations for spending
the day in festivity, when, at about 9 o'clock, a letter was
received from Mr. Walker, who has charge of the fort on Wappatoo
island, stating that the tailor, Thornburg, had been killed this
morning by Hubbard, the gunsmith, and requesting our presence
immediately, to investigate the case, and direct him how to act.

Our boat was manned without loss of time, and Captain L. and myself
repaired to the fort, where we found every thing in confusion. Poor
Thornburg, whom I had seen but two days previously, full of health
and vigor, was now a lifeless corpse; and Hubbard, who was more to
be pitied, was walking up and down the beach, with a countenance
pale and haggard, from the feelings at war within.

We held an inquest over the body, and examined all the men of the
fort severally, for the purpose of eliciting the facts of the case,
and, if warranted by the evidence, to exculpate Hubbard from blame
in the commission of the act. It appeared that, several weeks since,
a dispute arose between Hubbard and Thornburg, and the latter
menaced the life of the former, and had since been frequently heard
to declare that he would carry the threat into effect on the first
favorable opportunity. This morning, before daylight, he entered the
apartment of Hubbard, armed with a loaded gun, and a large knife,
and after making the most deliberate preparations for an instant
departure from the room, as soon as the deed should be committed,
cocked his gun, and prepared to shoot at his victim. Hubbard, who
was awakened by the noise of Thornburg's entrance, and was therefore
on the alert, waited quietly until this crisis, when cocking his
pistol, without noise, he took deliberate aim at the assassin,
and fired. Thornburg staggered back, his gun fell from his grasp,
and the two combatants struggled hand to hand. The tailor, being
wounded, {224} was easily overcome, and was thrown violently out of
the house, when he fell to the ground, and died in a few minutes.
Upon examining the body, we found that the two balls from the pistol
had entered the arm below the shoulder, and escaping the bone,
had passed into the cavity of the chest. The verdict of the jury
was "justifiable homicide," and a properly attested certificate,
containing a full account of the proceedings, was given to Hubbard,
as well for his satisfaction, as to prevent future difficulty, if
the subject should ever be investigated by a judicial tribunal.

This Thornburg was an unusually bold and determined man, fruitful
in inventing mischief, as he was reckless and daring in its
prosecution. His appetite for ardent spirits was of the most
inordinate kind. During the journey across the country, I constantly
carried a large two-gallon bottle of whiskey, in which I deposited
various kinds of lizards and serpents and when we arrived at the
Columbia the vessel was almost full of these crawling creatures. I
left the bottle on board the brig when I paid my first visit to the
Wallammet falls, and on my return found that Thornburg had decanted
the liquor from the precious reptiles which I had destined for
immortality, and he and one of his pot companions had been "happy"
upon it for a whole day. This appeared to me almost as bad as the
"tapping of the Admiral," practised with such success by the British
seamen; but unlike their commander, I did not discover the theft
until too late to save my specimens, which were in consequence all
destroyed.

_11th._--Mr. Nuttall, who has just returned from the dalles, where
he has been spending some weeks, brings distressing intelligence
from above. It really seems that the "Columbia River Fishing and
Trading Company" is devoted to destruction; disasters meet them at
every turn, and as yet none of their schemes have prospered. This
has not been for want of energy or exertion. Captain W. has pursued
the plans which seemed {225} to him best adapted for insuring
success, with the most indefatigable perseverance and industry, and
has endured hardships without murmuring, which would have prostrated
many a more robust man; nevertheless, he has not succeeded in making
the business of fishing and trapping productive, and as we cannot
divine the cause, we must attribute it to the Providence that rules
the destinies of men and controls all human enterprises.

Two evenings since, eight Sandwich Islanders, a white man and an
Indian woman, left the cascades in a large canoe laden with salmon,
for the brig. The river was as usual rough and tempestuous, the
wind blew a heavy gale, the canoe was capsized, and eight out of the
ten sank to rise no more. The two who escaped, islanders, have taken
refuge among the Indians at the village below, and will probably
join us in a few days.

Intelligence has also been received of the murder of one of
Wyeth's principal trappers, named Abbot, and another white man who
accompanied him, by the Banneck Indians. The two men were on their
way to the Columbia with a large load of beaver, and had stopped at
the lodge of the Banneck chief, by whom they had been hospitably
entertained. After they left, the chief, with several of his young
men, concealed themselves in a thicket, near which the unsuspicious
trappers passed, and shot and scalped them both.

These Indians have been heretofore harmless, and have always
appeared to wish to cultivate the friendship of the white people.
The only reason that can be conceived for this change in their
sentiments, is that some of their number may lately have received
injury from the white traders, and, with true Indian animosity, they
determined to wreak their vengeance upon the whole race. Thus it
is always unsafe to travel among Indians, as no one {226} knows at
what moment a tribe which has always been friendly, may receive ill
treatment from thoughtless, or evil-designing men, and the innocent
suffer for the deeds of the guilty.

_August 19th._--This morning, Captain Thing (Wyeth's partner)
arrived from the interior. Poor man! he looks very much worn by
fatigue and hardships, and seven years older than when I last saw
him. He passed through the Snake country from Fort Hall, without
knowing of the hostile disposition of the Bannecks, but, luckily for
him, only met small parties of them, who feared to attack his camp.
He remarked symptoms of distrust and coolness in their manner,
for which he was, at the time, unable to account. As I have yet
been only an hour in his company, and as a large portion of this
time was consumed in his business affairs, I have not been able to
obtain a very particular account of his meeting and skirmish with
the Blackfeet last spring, a rumor of which we heard several weeks
since. From what I have been enabled to gather, amid the hurry and
bustle consequent upon his arrival, the circumstances appear to be
briefly these. He had made a camp on Salmon river, and, as usual,
piled up his goods in front of it, and put his horses in a pen
erected temporarily for the purpose, when, at about daybreak, one
of his sentries heard a gun discharged near. He went immediately
to Captain T.'s tent to inform him of it, and at that instant a
yell sounded from an adjacent thicket, and about five hundred
Indians,--three hundred horse and two hundred foot,--rushed out into
the open space in front. The mounted savages were dashing to and fro
across the line of the camp, discharging their pieces with frightful
rapidity, while those who had not horses, crawled around to take
them in the rear.

Notwithstanding the galling fire which the Indians were constantly
pouring into them, Captain T. succeeded in driving his horses
into the thicket behind, and securing them there, placing over
them a guard of three men as a check to the savages who {227}
were approaching from that quarter. He then threw himself with
the remainder of his little band, behind the bales of goods, and
returned the fire of the enemy. He states that occasionally he was
gratified by the sight of an Indian tumbling from his horse, and at
such times a dismal, savage yell was uttered by the rest, who then
always fell back a little, but returned immediately to the charge
with more than their former fury.

At length the Indians, apparently wearied by their unsuccessful
attempts to dislodge the white men, changed their mode of attack,
and rode upon the slight fortification, rapidly and steadily.
Although they lost a man or two by this (for them) unusually bold
proceeding, yet they succeeded in driving the brave little band
of whites to the cover of the bushes. They then took possession
of the goods, &c., which had been used as a defence, and retired
to a considerable distance, where they were soon joined by their
comrades on foot, who had utterly failed in their attempt to obtain
the horses. In a short time, a man was seen advancing from the main
body of Indians towards the scene of combat, holding up his hand as
a sign of amity, and an intimation of the suspension of hostilities,
and requested a "talk" with the white people. Captain T., with
difficulty repressing his inclination to shoot the savage herald
down, was induced, in consideration of the safety of his party, to
dispatch an interpreter towards him. The only information that the
Blackfeet wished to communicate was, that having obtained all the
goods of the white people, they were now willing that they should
continue their journey in peace, and that they should not again be
molested. The Indians then departed, and the white men struck back
on their trail, towards Fort Hall. Captain Thing lost every thing he
had with him, all his clothing, papers, journals, &c. But he should
probably be thankful that he escaped with his life, for {228} it
is known to be very unusual for these hostile Indians to spare the
lives of white men, when in their power, the acquisition of property
being generally with them only a secondary consideration.

Captain T. had two men severely, but not mortally, wounded. The
Indians had seven killed, and a considerable number wounded.

_20th._--Several days since a poor man came here in a most
deplorable condition, having been gashed, stabbed, and bruised in
a manner truly frightful. He had been travelling on foot constantly
for fifteen days, exposed to the broiling sun, with nothing to eat
during the whole of this time, except the very few roots which he
had been able to find. He was immediately put in the hospital here,
and furnished with every thing necessary for his comfort, as well as
surgical attendance. He states that he left Monterey, in California,
in the spring, in company with seven men, for the purpose of coming
to the Wallammet to join Mr. Young, an American, who is now settled
in that country.[172] They met with no accident until they arrived
at a village of _Potámeos_ Indians,[173] about ten days journey
south of this. Not knowing the character of these Indians, they
were not on their guard, allowing them to enter their camp, and
finally to obtain possession of their weapons.[174] The Indians
then fell upon the defenceless little band with their tomahawks
and knives, (having no fire arms themselves, and not knowing the
use of those they had taken,) and, ere the white men had recovered
from the panic which the sudden and unexpected attack occasioned,
killed four of them. The remaining four fought with their knives as
long as they were able, but were finally overpowered, and this poor
fellow left upon the ground, covered with wounds, and in a state
{229} of insensibility. How long he remained in this situation, he
has no means of ascertaining; but upon recovering, the place was
vacated by all the actors in the bloody scene, except his three
dead companions, who were lying stark and stiff where they fell. By
considerable exertion, he was enabled to drag himself into a thicket
near, for the purpose of concealment, as he rightly conjectured
that their captors would soon return to secure the trophies of
their treacherous victory, and bury the corpses. This happened
almost immediately after; the scalps were torn from the heads of
the slain, and the mangled bodies removed for interment. After the
most dreadful and excruciating sufferings, as we can well believe,
the poor man arrived here, and is doing well under the excellent and
skilful care of Doctor Gairdner.[175] I examined most of his wounds
yesterday. He is literally covered with them, but one upon the lower
part of his face is the most frightful. It was made by a single
blow of a tomahawk, the point of which entered the upper lip, just
below the nose, cutting entirely through both the upper and lower
jaws and chin, and passing deep into the side of the neck, narrowly
missing the large jugular vein. He says he perfectly recollects
receiving this wound. It was inflicted by a powerful savage, who
at the same time tripped him with his foot, accelerating his fall.
He also remembers distinctly feeling the Indian's long knife pass
five separate times into his body; of what occurred after this he
knows nothing. This is certainly by far the most horrible looking
wound I ever saw, rendered so, however, by injudicious treatment and
entire want of care in the proper apposition of the sundered parts;
he simply bound it up as well as he could with his handkerchief, and
his extreme anguish caused him to forget the necessity of accuracy
in this respect. The consequence is, that the lower part of his face
is dreadfully contorted, one side being considerably lower than the
other. A union by the {230} first intention has been formed, and the
ill-arranged parts are uniting.

  [172] This was a party arranged by John Turner, who had previously
  visited Oregon with Jedidiah S. Smith. For Ewing Young, see our
  volume xx, p. 23, note 2. The wounded man was Dr. William J. Bailey,
  an Englishman who, after being educated for a physician, enlisted
  as a sailor, and after much roving had been a year or two in
  California. On recovering from his wounds, he settled in Willamette
  valley, married Margaret Smith, a mission teacher, and had a large
  farm and an important practice. Bailey became a man of note in early
  Oregon history, was a member of the executive committee of the
  provisional government in 1844, and died at Champoeg in 1876.--ED.

  [173] Called by the inhabitants of this country, the "_rascally
  Indians_," from their uniformly evil disposition, and hostility to
  white people.--TOWNSEND.

  [174] The Loloten or Tototen tribe of Klamath Indians. From their
  hostile and thievish disposition, their habitat was styled Rogue
  River, and they are usually spoken of as Rogue River Indians. The
  river is in southwestern Oregon, and the tribe related to those
  of northern California. Trouble arose between this tribe and the
  miners, lasting from 1850 to 1854, in which several battles were
  fought. There were in 1903 but fifty-two survivors, on Grande Ronde
  Reservation, in western Oregon.--ED.

  [175] Dr. Gairdner was a young English physician and scientist who
  had studied with Ehrenberg, in Germany, and Sir William Hooker, in
  Scotland. Under the patronage of the latter he had come as physician
  to Fort Vancouver. He died in Hawaii, whither he had gone for his
  health. His name is perpetuated in that of one of the Columbia
  salmon.--ED.

This case has produced considerable excitement in our little circle.
The Potámeos have more than once been guilty of acts of this kind,
and some of the gentlemen of the fort have proposed fitting out
an expedition to destroy the whole nation, but this scheme will
probably not be carried into effect.



{231} CHAPTER XIV

     Indians of the Columbia--their melancholy condition--Departure
     of Mr. Nuttall and Dr. Gairdner--A new vocation--Arrival of
     the Rev. Samuel Parker--his object--Departure of the American
     brig--Swans--Indian mode of taking them--A large wolf--An
     Indian mummy--A night adventure--A discovery, and restoration
     of stolen property--Fraternal tenderness of an Indian--Indian
     vengeance--Death of Waskéma, the Indian girl--"Busybody,"
     the little chief--A village of Kowalitsk Indians--Ceremony
     of "making medicine"--Exposure of an impostor--Success
     of legitimate medicines--Departure from Fort Vancouver
     for a visit to the interior--Arrival of a stranger--"Cape
     Horn"--Tilki, the Indian chief--Indian villages--Arrival at Fort
     Walla-walla--Sharp-tailed grouse--Commencement of a journey to
     the Blue mountains.


The Indians of the Columbia were once a numerous and powerful
people; the shore of the river, for scores of miles, was lined with
their villages; the council fire was frequently lighted, the pipe
passed round, and the destinies of the nation deliberated upon.
War was declared against neighboring tribes; the deadly tomahawk
was lifted, and not buried until it was red with the blood of the
savage; the bounding deer was hunted, killed, and his antlers
ornamented the wigwam of the red man; the scalps of his enemies hung
drying in the smoke of his lodge, and the Indian was happy. Now,
alas! where is he?--gone;--gathered to his fathers and to his happy
hunting grounds; his place knows him no more. The spot where once
stood the thickly peopled village, the smoke curling and wreathing
above the closely packed lodges, the lively children playing in the
front, and their indolent {232} parents lounging on their mats,
is now only indicated by a heap of undistinguishable ruins. The
depopulation here has been truly fearful. A gentleman told me, that
only four years ago, as he wandered near what had formerly been
a thickly peopled village, he counted no less than sixteen dead,
men and women, lying unburied and festering in the sun in front of
their habitations. Within the houses all were sick; not one had
escaped the contagion; upwards of a hundred individuals, men, women,
and children, were writhing in agony on the floors of the houses,
with no one to render them any assistance. Some were in the dying
struggle, and clenching with the convulsive grasp of death their
disease-worn companions, shrieked and howled in the last sharp agony.

Probably there does not now exist one, where, five years ago, there
were a hundred Indians; and in sailing up the river, from the cape
to the cascades, the only evidence of the existence of the Indian,
is an occasional miserable wigwam, with a few wretched, half-starved
occupants. In some other places they are rather more numerous; but
the thoughtful observer cannot avoid perceiving that in a very few
years the race must, in the nature of things, become extinct; and
the time is probably not far distant, when the little trinkets and
toys of this people will be picked up by the curious, and valued
as mementoes of a nation passed away for ever from the face of the
earth. The aspect of things is very melancholy. It seems as if the
fiat of the Creator had gone forth, that these poor denizens of
the forest and the stream should go hence, and be seen of men no
more.[176]

  [176] When Lewis and Clark visited the Columbia (1805-06), they
  noted signs of a declining population, and thought it due to an
  epidemic of small-pox that a few years before had decimated the
  native population. In 1829, shortly after the ground had been broken
  for a farm at Fort Vancouver, a form of intermittent fever broke out
  among both white men and Indians. To the latter it proved deadly,
  and for three years raged without abatement. This epidemic had
  occasioned the desolation noted by Townsend.--ED.

In former years, when the Indians were numerous, long after the
establishment of this fort, it was not safe for the white men
attached to it to venture beyond the protection of its guns without
being fully armed. Such was the jealousy of the natives towards
them, that various deep laid schemes were practised to obtain
possession of the post, and massacre all whom it had harbored; {233}
now, however, they are as submissive as children. Some have even
entered into the services of the whites, and when once the natural
and persevering indolence of the man is worn off, he will work well
and make himself useful.

About two hundred miles southward, the Indians are said to be in a
much more flourishing condition, and their hostility to the white
people to be most deadly. They believe that we brought with us the
fatal fever which has ravaged this portion of the country, and the
consequence is, that they kill without mercy every white man who
trusts himself amongst them.

_October 1st._--Doctor Gairdner, the surgeon of Fort Vancouver,
took passage a few days ago to the Sandwich Islands, in one of the
Company's vessels. He has been suffering for several months, with a
pulmonary affection, and is anxious to escape to a milder and more
salubrious climate. In his absence, the charge of the hospital will
devolve on me, and my time will thus be employed through the coming
winter. There are at present but few cases of sickness, mostly ague
and fever, so prevalent at this season. My companion, Mr. Nuttall,
was also a passenger in the same vessel. From the islands, he will
probably visit California, and either return to the Columbia by the
next ship, and take the route across the mountains, or double Cape
Horn to reach his home.

_16th._--Several days since, the Rev. Samuel Parker, of Ithaca, N.
York, arrived at the fort. He left his home last May, travelled
to the rendezvous on the Colorado, with the fur company of Mr.
Fontinelle, and performed the remainder of the journey with the Nez
Percé or Cheaptin Indians. His object is to examine the country in
respect to its agricultural and other facilities, with a view to the
establishment of missions among the Indians.[177] He will probably
return to the States next spring, and report the {234} result of
his observations to the board of commissioners, by whose advice his
pioneer journey has been undertaken.[178]

  [177] Reverend Samuel Parker was born in New Hampshire (1779);
  educated at Williams and Andover, he settled at Ithaca, where he
  died in 1866. At the meeting of the American Board of Commissioners
  for Foreign Missions (1834), the subject of an Oregon mission was
  discussed and Parker appointed to make investigations. Arriving at
  St. Louis too late for the annual brigade, he returned home, only to
  come out the succeeding year in company with Marcus Whitman. At the
  Green River rendezvous, Whitman went back for reinforcements, but
  Parker pushed on, with Nez Percés as his sole companions, as far as
  Fort Walla Walla, where he arrived October 6, 1835. He remained in
  Oregon until June, 1836, then embarked for Hawaii, reaching home in
  May, 1837.--ED.

  [178] Mr. Parker has since published an account of this tour,
  to which the reader is referred, for much valuable information,
  relative to the condition of the Indians on our western
  frontier.--TOWNSEND.

_Comment by Ed. The Journal of an Exploring Tour beyond the Rocky
Mountains_ (Ithaca, 1838). Five American editions and one English
appeared. The popularity of the work was considerable, and it spread
information concerning the Oregon country.

On the 17th, I embarked with this gentleman in a canoe, for a visit
to the lower part of the river. We arrived at the American brig in
the afternoon, on board of which we quartered for the night, and
the next morning early, the vessel cast off from the shore. She
has her cargo of furs and salmon on board, and is bound to Boston,
via the Sandwich and Society Islands. Mr. Parker took passage in
her to Fort George, and in the afternoon I returned in my canoe to
Vancouver.[179]

  [179] This was Wyeth's vessel, the "May Dacre."--ED.

_December 1st._--The weather is now unusually fine. Instead of the
drenching rains which generally prevail during the winter months, it
has been for some weeks clear and cool, the thermometer ranging from
35° to 45°.

The ducks and geese, which have swarmed throughout the country
during the latter part of the autumn, are leaving us, and the swans
are arriving in great numbers. These are here, as in all other
places, very shy; it is difficult to approach them without cover;
but the Indians have adopted a mode of killing them which is very
successful; that of drifting upon the flocks at night, in a canoe,
in the bow of which a large fire of pitch pine has been kindled. The
swans are dazzled, and apparently stupefied by the bright light, and
fall easy victims to the craft of the sportsman.

_20th._--Yesterday one of the Canadians took an enormous wolf in a
beaver-trap. It is probably a distinct species from the common one,
(_lupus_,) much larger and stronger, and of a yellowish cinereous
color.[180] The man states that he found considerable difficulty in
capturing him, even after the trap had been fastened on {235} his
foot. Unlike the lupus, (which is cowardly and cringing when made
prisoner,) he showed fight, and seizing the pole in his teeth, with
which the man attempted to despatch him, with one backward jerk,
threw his assailant to the ground, and darted at him, until checked
by the trap chain. He was finally shot, and I obtained his skin,
which I have preserved.

  [180] Probably an individual of what Lewis and Clark call the large
  brown wolf of the wooded regions of the Columbia (_canis lupus
  occidentalis_).--ED.

I have just had a visit from an old and intelligent Indian chief,
who lives near. It is now almost midnight, but for the last hour I
have heard the old man wandering about like an unquiet spirit, in
the neighborhood of my little mansion, and singing snatches of the
wild, but sweetly musical songs of his tribe. It is a bitter night,
and supposing the old man might be cold, I invited him to a seat by
my comfortable fire.

He says, "eighty snows have chilled the earth since _Maniquon_ was
born." Maniquon has been a great warrior; he has himself taken
twenty scalps between the rising and setting of the sun. Like most
old people, he is garrulous, and, like all Indians, fond of boasting
of his warlike deeds. I can sit for hours and hear old Maniquon
relate the particulars of his numerous campaigns, his ambushes, and
his "scrimmages," as old Hawk-eye would say. When he once gets into
the spirit of it, he springs upon his feet, his old, sunken eyes
sparkle like diamonds set in bronze, and he whirls his shrunken
and naked arm around his head, as though it still held the deadly
tomahawk. But in the midst of his excitement, seeming suddenly to
recollect his fallen state, he sinks into his chair.

"Maniquon is not a warrior now--he will never raise his axe
again--his young men have deserted his lodge--his sons will go down
to their graves, and the squaws will not sing of their great deeds."

I have several times heard him speak the substance of these words in
his own language, and in one instance he concluded thus:

{236} "And who made my people what they are?" This question was put
in a low voice, almost a whisper, and was accompanied by a look so
savage and malignant, that I almost quailed before the imbecile old
creature. I, however, answered quickly, without giving him time to
reply to his own question.

"The Great Spirit, Maniquon," pointing with my finger impressively
upwards.

"Yes, yes--it _was_ the Great Spirit; it was not the _white man_!"
I could have been almost angry with the old Indian for the look of
deadly hostility with which he uttered these last words, but that
I sympathized with his wounded pride, and pitied his sorrows too
much to harbor any other feeling than commiseration for his manifold
wrongs.

_February 3d, 1836._--During a visit to Fort William, last week, I
saw, as I wandered through the forest, about three miles from the
house, a canoe, deposited, as is usual, in the branches of a tree,
some fourteen feet from the ground. Knowing that it contained the
body of an Indian, I ascended to it for the purpose of abstracting
the skull; but upon examination, what was my surprise to find a
perfect, embalmed body of a young female, in a state of preservation
equal to any which I had seen from the catacombs of Thebes. I
determined to obtain possession of it, but as this was not the
proper time to carry it away, I returned to the fort, and said
nothing of the discovery which I had made.

That night, at the witching hour of twelve, I furnished myself with
a rope, and launched a small canoe, which I paddled up against the
current to a point opposite the mummy tree. Here I ran my canoe
ashore, and removing my shoes and stockings, proceeded to the tree,
which was about a hundred yards from the river. I ascended, and
making the rope fast around the body, lowered it gently to the
ground; then arranging the fabric which had been displaced, as
neatly as the darkness allowed, I descended, and taking the body
upon my shoulders, bore it to my {237} canoe, and pushed off into
the stream. On arriving at the fort, I deposited my prize in the
store house, and sewed around it a large Indian mat, to give it the
appearance of a bale of guns. Being on a visit to the fort, with
Indians whom I had engaged to paddle my canoe, I thought it unsafe
to take the mummy on board when I returned to Vancouver the next
day, but left directions with Mr. Walker to stow it away under the
hatches of a little schooner, which was running twice a week between
the two forts.

On the arrival of this vessel, several days after, I received,
instead of the body, a note from Mr. Walker, stating that an Indian
had called at the fort, and demanded the corpse. He was the brother
of the deceased, and had been in the habit of visiting the tomb of
his sister every year. He had now come for that purpose, from his
residence near the "_tum-water_," (cascades,) and his keen eye had
detected the intrusion of a stranger on the spot hallowed to him by
many successive pilgrimages. The canoe of his sister was tenantless,
and he knew the spoiler to have been a white man, by the tracks upon
the beach, which did not incline inward like those of an Indian.

The case was so clearly made out, that Mr. W. could not deny
the fact of the body being in the house, and it was accordingly
delivered to him, with a present of several blankets, to prevent
the circumstance from operating upon his mind to the prejudice of
the white people. The poor Indian took the body of his sister upon
his shoulders, and as he walked away, grief got the better of his
stoicism, and the sound of his weeping was heard long after he had
entered the forest.

_25th._--Several weeks ago the only son of Ke-ez-a-no, the
principal chief of the Chinooks, died.[181] The father was almost
distracted with grief, and during the first paroxysm attempted to
take the life of the boy's mother, supposing that she had exerted
an evil influence over him which had caused his death. She {238}
was compelled to fly in consequence, and put herself under the
protection of Dr. McLoughlin, who found means to send her to her
people below. Disappointed in this scheme of vengeance, the chief
determined to sacrifice all whom he thought had ever wronged his
son, or treated him with indignity; and the first victim whom he
selected was a very pretty and accomplished Chinook girl, named
Waskéma, who was remarkable for the exceeding beauty of her long
black hair. Waskéma had been solicited by the boy in marriage, but
had refused him, and the matter had been long forgotten, until it
was revived in the recollection of the father by the death of his
son. Ke-ez-a-no despatched two of his slaves to Fort William, (where
the girl was at that time engaged in making moccasins for Mr. W. and
where I had seen her a short time previously,) who hid themselves in
the neighborhood until the poor creature had embarked in her canoe
alone to return to her people, when they suddenly rushed upon her
from the forest which skirted the river, and shot two balls through
her bosom. The body was then thrown into the water, and the canoe
broken to pieces on the beach.

  [181] This appears to be the chief mentioned by Franchère in our
  volume vi, p. 246, and by Ross in our volume vii, p. 118.--ED.

Tapeo the brother of Waskéma delivered to me a letter from Mr. W.
detailing these circumstances, and amid an abundance of tears which
he shed for the loss of his only and beloved sister, he denounced
the heaviest vengeance upon her murderer. These threats, however, I
did not regard, as I knew the man would never dare to raise his hand
against his chief, but as expression relieves the overcharged heart,
I did not check his bursts of grief and indignation.

A few days after this, Ke-ez-a-no himself stalked into my room.
After sitting a short time in silence, he asked if I believed him
guilty of the murder of Waskéma. I replied that I did, and that
if the deed had been committed in my country, he would be hanged.
He denied all agency in the matter, and placing one hand upon his
bosom, and pointing upwards with the other, called {239} God to
witness that he was innocent. For the moment I almost believed
his asseverations; but calling to mind the strong and undeniable
evidence against him, with a feeling of horror and repugnance, I
opened the door and bowed him out of the house.

_March 1st._--There is an amusing little Indian living in this
neighborhood, who calls himself, "_tanas tie_," (little chief,)
and he is so probably in every sense of the term. In person, he
stands about four feet six, in his moccasins; but no exquisite
in the fashionable world, no tinselled dandy in high life, can
strut and stamp, and fume with more dignity and self consequence.
His name, he says, is Quâlaskin; but in the fort, he is known by
the cognomen of "_busy body_," from his restless anxiety to pry
into every body's business, and his curiosity to know the English
name of every article he sees; _ikata ookook?_--_ikata ookook?_
(what is this?--what is this?) _kahtah pasiooks yahhalle?_ (what
is its English name?) are expressions which he is dinning in your
ears, whenever he enters a room in the fort. If you answer him, he
attempts the pronunciation after you, and it is often not a little
ludicrous. He is evidently proud of the name the white people have
given him, not understanding its import, but supposing it to be a
title of great honor and dignity. If he is asked his Indian name,
he answers very modestly, Quâlaskin, (muddy river,) but if his
_pasiooks yahhalle_ is required, he puffs up his little person to
its utmost dimensions, and tells you with a simper of pride and self
complacency, that it is "_mizzy moddy_."

_16th._--Doctor W. F. Tolmie, one of the surgeons of the Hudson's
Bay Company, has just arrived from Fort Langley, on the coast, and
has relieved me of the charge of the hospital, which will afford me
the opportunity of peregrinating again in pursuit of specimens.[182]
The spring is just opening, the birds are arriving, the plants are
starting from the ground, and in a few weeks, the wide prairies of
the Columbia will appear like the richest flower gardens.

  [182] Dr. William Fraser Tolmie was born in Inverness, educated at
  Glasgow, and joined (1832) the Hudson's Bay Company as a physician.
  The following spring he arrived at Vancouver by way of Cape Horn,
  and was sent north to the Puget Sound region with a party engaged
  in planting a new post. There he remained until the return noted
  by Townsend. He lived at Fort Vancouver and vicinity until 1841. A
  visit to England (1841-43) was made in the interest of the Puget
  Sound Agricultural Company, of which Tolmie was superintendent
  at Fort Nisqually (1843-59). Upon the final cession of all the
  territory to the United States Dr. Tolmie removed to Victoria,
  British Columbia, where he was still living in 1878.

  Fort Langley was founded in 1827 upon the left bank of the Fraser
  River, about thirty miles above its mouth.--ED.

{240} _May 13th._--Two days ago I left the fort, and am now encamped
on a plain below Warrior's point. Near me are several large lodges
of Kowalitsk Indians;[183] in all probably one hundred persons. As
usual, they give me some trouble by coming around and lolling about
my tent, and importuning me for the various little articles that
they see. My camp-keeper, however, (a Klikatat,) is an excellent
fellow, and has no great love for Kowalitsk Indians, so that the
moment he sees them becoming troublesome, he clears the coast, _sans
ceremonie_. There is in one of the lodges a very pretty little girl,
sick with intermittent fever; and to-day the "medicine man" has been
exercising his functions upon the poor little patient; pressing upon
its stomach with his brawny hands until it shrieked with the pain,
singing and muttering his incantations, whispering in its ears,
and exhorting the evil spirit to pass out by the door, &c. These
exhibitions would be laughable did they not involve such serious
consequences, and for myself I always feel so much indignation
against the unfeeling impostor who operates, and pity for the
deluded creatures who submit to it, that any emotions but those of
risibility are excited.

  [183] For the habitat of this tribe, see Franchère's _Narrative_, in
  our volume vi, p. 245, note 49.--ED.

I had a serious conversation with the father of this child, in which
I attempted to prove to him, and to some twenty or thirty Indians
who were squatted about the ground near, that the "medicine man"
was a vile impostor, that he was a fool and a liar, and that his
manipulations were calculated to increase the sufferings of the
patient instead of relieving them. They all listened in silence, and
with great attention to my remarks, and the wily conjurer himself
had the full benefit of them: he stood by during the whole time,
assuming an expression of callous indifference which not even my
warmest vituperations could affect. Finally I offered to exhibit the
strongest proof of the truth of what I had been saying, by pledging
myself to cure the child in three days, provided the "medicine man"
was dismissed without delay. This, the father told me, required
some consideration {241} and consultation with his people, and I
immediately left the lodge and took the way to my camp, to allow
them an opportunity of discussing the matter alone.

Early next morning the Indian visited me, with the information
that the "medicine man" had departed, and he was now anxious that
I should make trial of my skill. I immediately administered to the
child an active cathartic, followed by sulphate of quinine, which
checked the disease, and in two days the patient was perfectly
restored.

In consequence of my success in this case, I had an application to
administer medicine to two other children similarly affected. My
stock of quinine being exhausted, I determined to substitute an
extract of the bark of the dogwood, (_Cornus Nuttalli_,) and taking
one of the parents into the wood with his blanket, I soon chipped
off a plentiful supply, returned, boiled it in his own kettle, and
completed the preparation in his lodge, with most of the Indians
standing by, and staring at me, to comprehend the process. This
was exactly what I wished; and as I proceeded, I took some pains
to explain the whole matter to them, in order that they might at a
future time be enabled to make use of a really valuable medicine,
which grows abundantly every where throughout the country. I have
often thought it strange that the sagacity of the Indians should not
long ago have made them acquainted with this remedy; and I believe,
if they had used it, they would not have had to mourn the loss of
hundreds, or even thousands of their people who have been swept away
by the demon of ague and fever.

I administered to each of the children about a scruple of the
extract per day. The second day they escaped the paroxysm, and on
the third were entirely well.

_June 26th._--I left Vancouver yesterday, with the summer brigade,
for a visit to Walla-walla, and its vicinity. The gentlemen {242}
of the party are, Peter Ogden, Esq., chief factor, bound to New
Caledonia, Archibald McDonald, Esq., for Colville, and Samuel Black,
Esq., for Thompson's river, and the brigade consists of sixty men,
with nine boats.[184]

  [184] Archibald McDonald was a Hudson's Bay officer who had been in
  charge of forts in the Thompson River district (1822-26), when he
  became chief factor for Kamloops. In 1828 he was chosen to accompany
  Sir George Simpson in a transmontane tour, and his diary thereof was
  published as _Peace River: A Canoe Voyage from Hudson Bay to the
  Pacific_ (Ottawa, 1872). On this expedition he was left in charge of
  the newly-built Fort Langley, where he remained about eight years,
  constructing Fort Nisqually on Puget Sound (1833). In 1836 he was
  appointed to Fort Colville, where he remained for many years. This
  post was on the upper Columbia, not far from Kettle Falls, in the
  present state of Washington; built in 1825, it was maintained by
  the Hudson's Bay Company until the discovery of gold in that region
  (1858), whereupon the stockade was removed across the border into
  British Columbia, to avoid United States customs duties.

  Samuel Black had been a North West Company trader; but later was
  placed in charge of Hudson's Bay posts at Fort Dunveyan (1823) and
  at Walla Walla (1828). He commanded at Fort Kamloops (see our volume
  vii, p. 199, note 64), on Thompson's River for some years, before
  his murder (1841) by a neighboring native.--ED.

_27th._--We arrived yesterday at the upper cascades, and made in
the course of the day three portages. As is usual in this place, it
rained almost constantly, and the poor men engaged in carrying the
goods, were completely drenched. A considerable number of Indians
are employed here in fishing, and they supply us with an abundance
of salmon. Among them I recognise many of my old friends from below.

_29th._--This morning the Indian wife of one of the men gave birth
to a little girl. The tent in which she was lying was within a few
feet of the one which I occupied, and we had no intimation of the
matter being in progress until we heard the crying of the infant. It
is truly astonishing with what ease the parturition of these women
is performed; they generally require no assistance in delivery,
being fully competent to manage the whole paraphernalia themselves.
In about half an hour after this event we got under way, and the
woman walked to the boat, carrying her new born infant on her back,
embarked, laughed, and talked as usual, and appeared in every
respect as well as if nothing had happened.

This woman is a most noble specimen of bone and muscle, and so
masculine in appearance, that were she to cast the petticoat, and
don the breeches, the cheat would never be discovered, and but few
of the _lords of the creation_ would be willing to face the Amazon.
She is particularly useful to her husband. As he is becoming rather
infirm, she can protect him most admirably. If he wishes to cross a
stream in travelling without horses or boats, she plunges in without
hesitation, takes him upon her back, and lands him safely and
expeditiously upon the opposite bank. She can also kill and dress
an elk, run down and shoot a buffalo, {243} or spear a salmon for
her husband's breakfast in the morning, as well as any man-servant
he could employ. Added to all this, she has, in several instances,
saved his life in skirmishes with Indians, at the imminent risk of
her own, so that he has some reason to be proud of her.

In the afternoon, we passed the bold, basaltic point, known to the
_voyageurs_ by the name of "Cape Horn."[185] The wind here blew a
perfect hurricane, and but for the consummate skill of those who
managed our boats, we must have had no little difficulty.

  [185] Cape Horn is a high basaltic cliff towering two thousand
  five hundred feet above the river bank, not far above Vancouver,
  in Skamania County, Washington. It was so named because boats were
  frequently wind-bound in passing this point.--ED.

_30th._--We were engaged almost the whole of this day in making
portages, and I had, in consequence, some opportunity of
prosecuting my researches on the land. We have now passed the
range of vegetation; there are no trees or even shrubs; nothing
but huge, jagged rocks of basalt, and interminable sand heaps. I
found here a large and beautiful species of marmot, (the _Arctomys
Richardsonii_,) several of which I shot. Encamped in the evening
at the village of the Indian chief, _Tilki_. I had often heard of
this man, but I now saw him for the first time. His person is rather
below the middle size, but his features are good, with a Roman cast,
and his eye is deep black, and unusually fine. He appears to be
remarkably intelligent, and half a century before the generality of
his people in civilization.

_July 3d._--This morning we came to the open prairies, covered with
wormwood bushes. The appearance, and strong odor of these, forcibly
remind me of my journey across the mountains, when we frequently saw
no vegetation for weeks, except this dry and barren looking shrub.

The Indians here are numerous, and are now engaged in catching
salmon, lamprey eels, &c. They take thousands of the latter, and
they are seen hanging in great numbers in their lodges to dry in
the smoke. As soon as the Indians see us approach, they leave their
wigwams, and run out towards us, {244} frequently wading to their
breasts in the water, to get near the boats. Their constant cry is
_pi-pi, pi-pi_, (tobacco, tobacco,) and they bring a great variety
of matters to trade for this desirable article; fish, living birds
of various kinds, young wolves, foxes, minks, &c.

On the evening of the 6th, we arrived at Walla-walla or Nez Percés
fort, where I was kindly received by Mr. Pambrun, the superintendent.

The next day the brigade left us for the interior, and I shouldered
my gun for an excursion through the neighborhood. On the west side
of the little Walla-walla river, I saw, during a walk of two miles,
at least thirty rattlesnakes, and killed five that would not get out
of my way. They all seemed willing to dispute the ground with me,
shaking their rattles, coiling and darting at me with great fury. I
returned to the fort in the afternoon with twenty-two sharp-tailed
grouse, (_Tetrao phasianellus_,) the product of my day's shooting.

_25th._--I mounted my horse this morning for a journey to the Blue
mountains. I am accompanied by a young half breed named Baptiste
Dorion,[186] who acts as guide, groom, interpreter, &c., and I
have a pack horse to carry my little _nick-nackeries_. We shaped
our course about N. E. over the sandy prairie, and in the evening
encamped on the Morro river,[187] having made about thirty miles.
On our way, we met two Walla-walla Indians driving down a large band
of horses. They inform us that the Snakes have crossed the mountain
to commence their annual thieving of horses, and they are taking
them away to have them secure. I shall need to keep a good look
out to my own small caravan, or I shall be under the necessity of
turning pedestrian.

  [186] This is the son of old Pierre Dorion, who makes such a
  conspicuous figure in Irving's "Astoria."--TOWNSEND.

  _Comment by Ed._ Consult Bradbury's _Travels_ in our volume v, p.
  38, note 7; also Ross's _Oregon Settlers_, our volume vii, pp.
  265-269, wherein the murder of the elder Dorion and the escape of
  his wife and children are related.

  [187] The direction appears to be wrong, as a northeast course
  would be directly away from the Blue Mountains; moreover it would
  necessitate crossing Walla Walla River before reaching Umatilla.
  It should therefore, obviously, be read "S. E. over the sandy
  prairie." Morro River must be an upper affluent of Walla Walla (or
  Umatilla).--ED.



{245} CHAPTER XV

     A village of Kayouse Indians--their occupation--appearance and
     dresses of the women--family worship--its good effects--Visit to
     the Blue mountains--Dusky grouse--Return to Walla-walla--Arrival
     of Mr. McLeod, and the missionaries--Letters from home--Death
     of Antoine Goddin, the trapper--A renegado white man--Assault
     by the Walla-walla Indians--Missionary duties--Passage
     down the Columbia--Rapids--A dog for supper--Prairies on
     fire--A nocturnal visit--Fishing Indians--Their romantic
     appearance--Salmon huts--The shoots--Dangerous navigation--Death
     of Tilki--Seals--Indian stoicism and contempt of pain--Skookoom,
     the strong chief--his death--Maiming, an evidence of
     grief--Arrival at Fort Vancouver--A visit to Fort George--Indian
     cemeteries--Lewis and Clarke's house--A medal--Visit to
     Chinook--Hospitality of the Indians--Chinamus' house--The
     idol--Canine inmates.


_July 26th._--At noon, to-day, we arrived at the Utalla, or
Emmitilly river, where we found a large village of Kayouse Indians,
engaged in preparing kamas. Large quantities of this root were
strewed about on mats and buffalo robes; some in a crude state, and
a vast quantity pounded, to be made into cakes for winter store.
There are of the Indians, about twelve or fifteen lodges. A very
large one, about sixty feet long by fifteen broad, is occupied by
the chief, and his immediate family. This man I saw when I arrived
at Walla-walla, and I have accepted an invitation to make my home
in his lodge while I remain here. The house is really a very
comfortable one; the rays of the sun are completely excluded, and
the ground is covered with buffalo robes. There are in the chief's
lodge about twenty women, all busy as usual; some pounding kamas,
others making {246} leathern dresses, moccasins, &c. Several of
the younger of these are very good looking,--I might almost say
handsome. Their heads are of the natural form,--not flattened and
contorted in the horrible manner of the Chinooks;--their faces
are inclining to oval, and their eyes have a peculiarly sleepy
and languishing appearance. They seem as if naturally inclined
to lasciviousness, but if this feeling exists, it is effectually
checked by their self-enacted laws, which are very severe in this
respect, and in every instance rigidly enforced. The dresses of
the women, (unlike the Chinooks, they all _have_ dresses,) are
of deer or antelope skin, more or less ornamented with beads and
_hyquâs_.[188] It consists of one piece, but the part covering
the bust, projects over the lower portion of the garment, and its
edges are cut into strings, to which a quantity of blue beads are
generally attached.

  [188] A long white shell, of the genus _Dentalium_, found on the
  coast.--TOWNSEND.

In the evening all the Indians belonging to the village assembled
in our lodge, and, with the chief for minister, performed divine
service, or family worship. This, I learn, is their invariable
practice twice every twenty-four hours, at sunrise in the morning,
and after supper in the evening. When all the people had gathered,
our large lodge was filled. On entering, every person squatted on
the ground, and the _clerk_ (a sort of sub-chief) gave notice that
the Deity would now be addressed. Immediately the whole audience
rose to their knees, and the chief supplicated for about ten
minutes in a very solemn, but low tone of voice, at the conclusion
of which an amen was pronounced by the whole company, in a loud,
swelling sort of groan. Three hymns were then sung, several of the
individuals present leading in rotation, and at the conclusion of
each, another amen. The chief then pronounced a short exhortation,
occupying about fifteen minutes, which was repeated by the clerk at
his elbow in a voice loud enough to be heard by the whole assembly.
At the {247} conclusion of this, each person rose, and walked to one
of the doors of the lodge, where, making a low inclination of his
body, and pronouncing the words "_tots sekan_," (good night,) to
the chief, he departed to his home.

I shall hear this ceremony every night and morning while I remain,
and so far from being irksome, it is agreeable to me. It is pleasant
to see these poor degraded creatures performing a religious service;
for to say nothing of the good influence which it will exert in
improving their present condition, it will probably soften and
harmonize their feelings, and render them fitter subjects for the
properly qualified religious instruction which it is desirable they
may some day receive.

The next morning, my friend the chief furnished me with fresh
horses, and I and my attendant, with two Indian guides, started for
a trip to the mountain. We passed up one of the narrow valleys or
gorges which here run at right angles from the alpine land, and as
we ascended, the scenery became more and more wild, and the ground
rough and difficult of passage, but I had under me one of the finest
horses I ever rode; he seemed perfectly acquainted with the country;
I had but to give him his head, and not attempt to direct him, and
he carried me triumphantly through every difficulty. Immediately
as we reached the upper land, and the pine trees, we saw large
flocks of the dusky grouse, (_Tetrao obscurus_,) a number of which
we killed. Other birds were, however, very scarce. I am at least
two months too late, and I cannot too much regret the circumstance.
Here is a rich field for the ornithologist at the proper season. We
returned to our lodge in the evening loaded with grouse, but with
very few specimens to increase my collection.

_29th._--Early this morning our Indians struck their lodges, and
commenced making all their numerous movables into bales for packing
on the horses. I admired the facility and despatch with which this
was done; the women alone worked at it, the {248} men lolling
around, smoking and talking, and not even once directing their
fair partners in their task. The whole camp travelled with me to
Walla-walla, where we arrived the next day.

_Sept. 1st._--Mr. John M'Leod, a chief trader of the Hudson's Bay
Company, arrived this morning from the rendezvous, with a small
trading party.[189] I had been anxiously expecting this gentleman
for several weeks, as I intended to return with him to Vancouver. He
is accompanied by several Presbyterian missionaries, the Rev. Mr.
Spalding and Doctor Whitman,[190] with their wives, and Mr. Gray,
teacher.[191] Doctor Whitman presented me with a large pacquet of
letters from my beloved friends at home. I need not speak of the
emotions excited by their reception, nor of the trembling anxiety
with which I tore open the envelope and devoured the contents.
This is the first intelligence which I have received from them
since I left the state of Missouri, and was as unexpected as it was
delightful.[192]

  [189] John McLeod had for some years been with the Hudson's Bay
  Company. He was in charge at Kamloops from 1822 to 1826, and in the
  latter year built Norway House. In 1832 he founded, in conjunction
  with Michel La Framboise, Fort Umpqua, the only establishment of
  the company south of the Columbia. At the time Townsend met him he
  appears to have headed the Snake country brigade.--ED.

  [190] Henry H. Spalding was born in Bath County, New York, in 1803.
  He studied at Western Reserve, and afterwards at Lane Theological
  Seminary, which latter school he left to join Dr. Whitman (1836)
  in a mission to Oregon. Settled at Lapwai, in western Idaho, among
  the Nez Percés, he maintained the mission at that place until the
  Whitman massacre in 1847. Narrowly escaping therefrom, he accepted
  in 1850, at the solicitation of the missionary board, the position
  of United States Indian agent, and served also as commissioner of
  schools (1850-55). In 1862 he returned to Lapwai to re-commence
  mission work, and died among the Nez Percés in 1874.

  Dr. Marcus Whitman was born in Rushville, New York, in 1802.
  Graduating as a physician he was appointed to the Oregon mission
  in 1834, actually reaching his station in September, 1836, as
  Townsend narrates--see note 112, p. 335, _ante_. He established
  his mission at Waiilatpu among the Cayuse, and there labored until
  1842, when news from the mission board, advising abandonment of
  his station, caused his return to the United States. This was the
  journey regarding which so much controversy has arisen. According
  to some writers, Whitman's object was to awaken the United States
  authorities to the necessity of occupying Oregon, and how "Marcus
  Whitman saved Oregon" to the United States has been much discussed.
  Recently exceptions have been taken to this view, and eminent
  historical scholars have minimized Whitman's national services. The
  first stage of the controversy began about 1883. See Myron Eells,
  _Marcus Whitman, M. D., Proofs of his work in Saving Oregon to the
  United States_ (Portland, 1883). Later Professor Edward G. Bourne
  took up the subject and presented a paper at the American Historical
  Association meeting of 1900 (published in _American Historical
  Review_, vii, pp. 276-300); this has been expanded into "The Legend
  of Marcus Whitman" in _Essays in Historical Criticism_ (New York,
  1901). William I. Marshall of Chicago, discussed Professor Bourne's
  paper (see American Historical Association _Report_ for 1900, i, pp.
  219-236) offering additional evidence. Marshall has since published
  _History vs. the Whitman Saved Oregon Story_ (Chicago, 1904). Myron
  Eells also issued _A Reply to Professor Bourne's "The Whitman
  Legend"_ (Walla Walla, 1902). William A. Mowry essays a defense
  in _Marcus Whitman and the early days of Oregon_ (New York, 1901)
  which contains a good bibliography. See also additional evidence
  in articles by William E. Griffis and others, contributed to the
  _Sunday School Times_, Philadelphia, August 9, November 1, 8, 15,
  22, 29, December 3, 1902; January 10, 29, 1903. Whitman returned to
  his mission, and despite threatening aspects, remained at Waiilatpu
  until 1847, when suddenly in October the Cayuse arose and massacred
  most of the members of the mission, including both Dr. Whitman and
  his wife.--ED.

  [191] William H. Gray (born in Utica, New York, in 1810) joined
  Dr. Whitman as business manager and agent of the expedition. In
  1837 he went East for reinforcements, and married Mary Augusta Dix,
  with whom he returned to Oregon in September, 1838. They labored
  at Lapwai and Waiilatpu until 1842, when Gray resigned and retired
  to the Willamette, where he was instrumental in establishing the
  provisional government. In 1849 Gray went to California during the
  gold excitement, but returned to Oregon, settling first at Clatsop
  Plains, and later in Astoria, where he died in 1889. His _History
  of Oregon_ (Portland, San Francisco, and New York, 1870) is a main
  source for the early decades.--ED.

  [192] See reference to this fact and to the meeting with Townsend,
  in Mrs. Whitman's "Journal," published in Oregon Pioneer Association
  _Transactions_ (1891), pp. 57, 63.--ED.

Mr. M'Leod informed me of the murder of Antoine Goddin, the
half-breed trapper, by the Blackfeet Indians, at Fort Hall.--A
band of these Indians appeared on the shore of the Portneuf river,
opposite the fort, headed by a white man named Bird.--This man
requested Goddin, whom he saw on the opposite side of the river,
to cross to him with a canoe, as he had beaver which he wished to
trade. The poor man accordingly embarked alone, and landing near
the Indians, joined the circle which they had made, and _smoked the
pipe of peace with them_. While Goddin was smoking in his turn, Bird
gave a sign to the Indians, and a volley was fired into his back.
While he was yet living, Bird himself tore the scalp from the poor
fellow's head, and deliberately cut Captain Wyeth's initials, N.
J. W. in large letters upon his forehead. He then hallooed to the
fort people, telling them to bury the carcass if they wished, and
immediately went off with his party.

{249} This Bird was formerly attached to the Hudson's Bay Company,
and was made prisoner by the Blackfeet, in a skirmish several
years ago. He has since remained with them, and has become a great
chief, and leader of their war parties. He is said to be a man
of good education, and to possess the most unbounded influence
over the savage people among whom he dwells. He was known to be a
personal enemy of Goddin, whom he had sworn to destroy on the first
opportunity.

We also hear, that three of Captain Wyeth's men who lately visited
us, had been assaulted on their way to Fort Hall, by a band of
Walla-walla Indians, who, after beating them severely, took from
them all their horses, traps, ammunition, and clothing. They were,
however, finally induced to return them each a horse and gun,
in order that they might proceed to the interior, to get fresh
supplies. This was a matter of policy on the part of the Indians,
for if the white men had been compelled to travel on foot, they
would have come immediately here to procure fresh horses, &c., and
thus exposed the plunderers. Mr. Pambrun is acquainted with the
ringleader of this band of marauders, and intends to take the first
opportunity of inflicting upon him due punishment, as well as to
compel him to make ample restitution for the stolen property, and
broken heads of the unoffending trappers.

I have had this evening, some interesting conversation with our
guests, the missionaries. They appear admirably qualified for the
arduous duty to which they have devoted themselves, their minds
being fully alive to the mortifications and trials incident to a
residence among wild Indians; but they do not shrink from the task,
believing it to be their religious duty to engage in this work. The
ladies have borne the journey astonishingly; they look robust and
healthy.[193]

  [193] Mrs. Narcissa Prentice Whitman was a native of Pittsburgh,
  Steuben County, New York, and married Dr. Whitman just before his
  journey across the plains (1836). She was of much assistance to him
  in the mission work, and perished in the massacre of 1847. See her
  letters and "Journal" in Oregon Pioneer Association _Transactions_
  (1891). She and Mrs. Spalding were the first white women to cross
  the plains to Oregon.

  Mrs. Spalding (_née_ Eliza Hart) was born in Connecticut (1807) and
  reared in Ontario County, New York. She was less strong than Mrs.
  Whitman, and her journey at first fatigued her so greatly that it
  was feared she would not reach its end. Her health improved after
  passing the mountains, and she was an efficient aid in the mission,
  learning the Indian languages with great aptitude. After the Whitman
  massacre she never recovered from the shock, and died in 1851.--ED.

_3d._--Mr. M'Leod and myself embarked in a large batteau, with six
men, and bidding farewell to Mr. Pambrun and the missionaries, were
soon gliding down the river. We ran, to-day, {250} several rapids,
and in the evening encamped about fifteen miles below the mouth of
the Utalla river.

This running of rapids appears rather a dangerous business to those
unaccustomed to it, and it is in reality sufficiently hazardous,
except when performed by old and skilful hands. Every thing depends
upon the men who manage the bow and stern of the boat. The moment
she enters the rapid, the two guides lay aside their oars taking in
their stead paddles, such as are used in the management of a canoe.
The middle-men ply their oars; the guides brace themselves against
the gunwale of the boat, placing their paddles edgewise down her
sides, and away she goes over the curling, foaming, and hissing
waters, like a race horse.

We passed to-day several large lodges of Indians, from whom we
wished to have purchased fish, but they had none, or were not
willing to spare any, so that we were compelled to purchase a _dog_
for supper. I have said _we_, but I beg leave to correct myself,
as I was utterly averse to the proceeding; not, however, from any
particular dislike to the quality of the food, (I have eaten it
repeatedly, and relished it.) but I am always unwilling, unless when
suffering absolute want to take the life of so noble and faithful
an animal. Our hungry oarsmen, however, appeared to have no such
scruples. The Indian called his dog, and he came to him, _wagging
his tail_! He sold his companion for ten balls and powder! One of
our men approached the poor animal with an axe. I turned away my
head to avoid the sight, but I heard the dull, _sodden_ sound of the
blow. The tried friend and faithful companion lay quivering in the
agonies of death at its master's feet.

We are enjoying a most magnificent sight at our camp this evening.
On the opposite side of the river, the Indians have fired the
prairie, and the whole country for miles around is most brilliantly
illuminated. Here am I sitting cross-legged on the {251} ground,
scribbling by the light of the vast conflagration with as much
ease as if I had a ton of oil burning by my side; but my eyes are
every moment involuntarily wandering from the paper before me, to
contemplate and admire the grandeur of the distant scene. The very
heavens themselves appear ignited, and the fragments of ashes and
burning grass-blades, ascending and careering about through the
glowing firmament, look like brilliant and glorious birds let loose
to roam and revel amid this splendid scene. It is past midnight:
every one in the camp is asleep, and I am this moment visited by
half a dozen Indian fishermen, who are peering over my shoulders,
and soliciting a smoke, so that I shall have to stop, and fill my
calamet.

_5th._--The Indians are numerous along the river, and all engaged
in fishing; as we pass along, we frequently see them posted upon
the rocks overhanging the water, surveying the boiling and roaring
flood below, for the passing salmon. In most instances, an Indian
is seen entirely alone in these situations, often standing for
half an hour perfectly still, his eyes rivetted upon the torrent,
and his long fish spear poised above his head. The appearance of a
solitary and naked savage thus perched like an eagle upon a cliff,
is sometimes,--when taken in connexion with the wild and rugged
river scenery,--very picturesque. The spear is a pole about twelve
feet in length, at the end of which a long wooden fork is made fast,
and between the tines is fixed a barbed iron point. They also, in
some situations, use a hand scoopnet, and stand upon scaffolds
ingeniously constructed over the rapid water. Their winter store
of dried fish is stowed away in little huts of mats and branches,
closely interlaced, and also in _caches_ under ground. It is often
amusing to see the hungry ravens tearing and tugging at the strong
twigs of the houses, in a vain attempt to reach the savory food
within.

In the afternoon, we passed John Day's river,[194] and encamped
about sunset at the "shoots." Here is a very large village of {252}
Indians, (the same that I noticed in my journal, on the passage
down,) and we are this evening surrounded by some scores of them.

  [194] For the pioneer in whose honor this river was named, see
  Bradbury's _Travels_ in our volume v, p. 181, note 104. The John
  Day River rises in the Blue Mountains and flows west and northwest,
  entering the Columbia a few miles above the falls. It is an
  important stream for central Oregon, forming the boundary, in part,
  of several counties.--ED.

_6th._--We made the portage of the shoots this morning by carrying
our boat and baggage across the land, and in half an hour, arrived
at one of the upper _dalles_. Here Mr. M'Leod and myself debarked,
and the men ran the dall. We walked on ahead to the most dangerous
part, and stood upon the rocks about a hundred feet above to observe
them. It really seemed exceedingly dangerous to see the boat dashing
ahead like lightning through the foaming and roaring waters,
sometimes raised high above the enormous swells, and dashed down
again as if she were seeking the bottom with her bows, and at others
whirled around and nearly sucked under by the whirlpools constantly
forming around her. But she stemmed every thing gallantly, under the
direction of our experienced guides, and we soon embarked again,
and proceeded to the lower dalles. Here it is utterly impossible,
in the present state of the water, to pass, so that the boat and
baggage had to be carried across the whole portage. This occupied
the remainder of the day, and we encamped in the evening at a short
distance from the lower villages. The Indians told us with sorrowful
faces of the recent death of their principal chief, Tilki. Well,
thought I, the white man has lost a friend, and long will it be
before we see his like again! The poor fellow was unwell when I last
saw him, with a complaint of his breast, which I suspected to be
pulmonary. I gave him a few simple medicines, and told him I should
soon see him again. Well do I remember the look of despondency with
which he bade me farewell, and begged me to return soon and give him
more medicine. About two weeks since he ruptured a blood vessel, and
died in a short time.

We see great numbers of seals as we pass along. Immediately {253}
below the Dalles they are particularly abundant, being attracted
thither by the vast shoals of salmon which seek the turbulent water
of the river. We occasionally shoot one of them as he raises his
dog-like head above the surface, but we make no use of them; they
are only valuable for the large quantity of oil which they yield.

We observe on the breasts and bellies of many of the Indians here,
a number of large red marks, mostly of an oval form, sometimes
twenty or thirty grouped together. These are wounds made by their
own hands, to display to their people the unwavering and stoical
resolution with which they can endure pain. A large fold of the
skin is taken up with the fingers, and sliced off with a knife; the
surrounding fibre then retreats, and a large and ghastly looking
wound remains. Many that I saw to-day are yet scarcely cicatrized.
There is a chief here who obtained the dignity which he now enjoys,
solely by his numerous and hardy feats of this kind. He was
originally a common man, and possessed but one wife; he has now
_six_, and any of the tribe would think themselves honored by his
alliance. He is a most gigantic fellow, about six feet four inches
in height, and remarkably stout and powerful. The whole front of his
person is covered with the red marks of which I have spoken, and he
displays with considerable pride the two scars of a bullet, which
entered the left breast, and passed out below the shoulder blade.
This wound he also made with his own hand, by placing the muzzle
of his gun against his breast, and pressing the trigger with his
toe; and by this last, and most daring act, he was raised to the
chief command of all the Indians on the north side of the river. Now
that Tilki is no more, he will probably be chosen chief of all the
country from the cascades to Walla-walla. I asked him if he felt
no fear of death from the wound in his chest, at the time it was
inflicted. He said, no; that his heart was strong, and that a bullet
could never kill him. He told me that he was entirely {254} well
in a week after this occurrence, but that for two days he vomited
blood constantly. He is named by the Indians "_Skookoom_," (the
strong.)

About six weeks after, Mr. M'Leod, who again returned from a visit
to Walla-walla, informed me that the strong chief was dead. A
bullet, (or rather two of them,) killed him at last, in spite of
his supposed invulnerability. He was shot by one of his people in a
fit of jealousy. _Skookoom_ had assisted Mr. M'Leod with his boats
across the portage, and, being a chief, he of course received more
for the service than a common man. This wretch, who was but a serf
in the tribe, chose to be offended by it, and vented his rage by
murdering his superior. He fired a ball from his own gun into his
breast, which brought him to the ground, and then despatched him
with a second, which he seized from another. So poor Skookoom has
passed away, and such is the frail tenure upon which an Indian
chief holds his authority and his life. The murderer will no doubt
soon die by the hand of some friend or relative of the deceased;
he in his turn will be killed by another, and as usual, the bloody
business will go on indefinitely, and may even tend to produce an
open war between the rival parties.

I saw an old man here, apparently eighty years of age, who had
given himself three enormous longitudinal gashes in his leg, to
evince his grief for the loss of Tilki. From the sluggishness of the
circulation in the body of the poor old creature, combined with a
morbid habit, these wounds show no disposition to heal. I dressed
his limb, and gave him a strict charge to have it kept clean, but
knowing the universal carelessness of Indians in this respect, I
fear my directions will not be attended to, and the consequence
will probably be, that the old man will die miserably. I spoke to
him of the folly of such inflictions, and took this opportunity
of delivering a short lecture upon the same subject to the others
assembled in his lodge.

{255} At 11 o'clock next day we arrived at the cascades, where we
made the long portage, and at nine in the evening encamped in an ash
grove, six miles above _Prairie de Thé_.

On the 8th, reached Vancouver, where we found two vessels which had
just arrived from England.

On the 24th, I embarked in a canoe with Indians for Fort George,
and arrived in two days. Here I was kindly received by the
superintendent, Mr. James Birnie,[195] and promised every assistance
in forwarding my views.

  [195] James Birnie was a native of Aberdeen, Scotland. Coming early
  to America he entered the North West Company's employ and was on
  the Columbia before 1820, when he was in charge of the post at the
  Dalles. He was then retained by the Hudson's Bay Company, and given
  command at Fort George (Astoria) where he remained many years. Later
  he became a naturalized American, and resided at Cathlamet.--ED.

_30th._--I visited to-day some cemeteries in the neighborhood of the
fort, and obtained the skulls of four Indians. Some of the bodies
were simply deposited in canoes, raised five or six feet from the
ground, either in the forks of trees, or supported on stakes driven
into the earth. In these instances it was not difficult to procure
the skulls without disarranging the fabric; but more frequently,
they were nailed in boxes, or covered by a small canoe, which was
turned bottom upwards, and placed in a larger one, and the whole
covered by strips of bark, carefully arranged over them. It was then
necessary to use the utmost caution in removing the covering, and
also to be careful to leave every thing in the same state in which
it was found. I thought several times to-day, as I have often done
in similar situations before:--Now suppose an Indian were to step
in here, and see me groping among the bones of his fathers, and
laying unhallowed hands upon the mouldering remains of his people,
what should I say?--I know well what the Indian would _do_. He would
instantly shoot me, unless I took the most effectual measures to
prevent it; but could I have time allowed me to temporize a little,
I could easily disarm his hostility and ensure his silence, by the
offer of a shirt or a blanket; but the difficulty in most cases
would be, that in a paroxysm of rage he would put a bullet through
your head, and then good bye to temporizing. Luckily for my pursuits
in this way, there are at present but few Indians here, and I do not
therefore incur {256} much risk; were it otherwise, there would be
no little danger in these aggressions.

The corpses of the several different tribes which are buried here,
are known by the difference in the structure of their canoes; and
the _sarcophagi_ of the chiefs from those of the common people, by
the greater care which has been manifested in the arrangement of the
tomb.

_October 14th._--I walked to-day around the beach to the foot of
Young's bay,[196] a distance of about ten miles, to see the remains
of the house in which Lewis and Clark's party resided during the
winter which they spent here. The logs of which it is composed, are
still perfect, but the roof of bark has disappeared, and the whole
vicinity is overgrown with thorn and wild currant bushes.[197]

  [196] For Young's Bay, see Franchére's _Narrative_, our volume vi,
  p. 259, note 69.--ED.

  [197] This is an interesting description of the place, seen thirty
  years later, where the explorers passed the dismal winter months of
  1805-06. For a ground plan of the fort, known as Fort Clatsop, see
  Thwaites, _Original Journals of the Lewis and Clark Expedition_,
  iii, pp. 282, 283, 298.--ED.

One of Mr. Birnie's children found, a few days since, a large
silver medal, which had been brought here by Lewis and Clark, and
had probably been presented to some chief, who lost it. On one side
was a head, with the name "Th. Jefferson, President of the United
States, 1801." On the other, two hands interlocked, surmounted by a
pipe and tomahawk; and above the words, "Peace and Friendship."[198]

  [198] A close description of the medals carried by the expedition.
  See engraving in O. D. Wheeler, _On the Trail of Lewis and Clark_
  (New York, 1904), ii, pp. 123, 124.--ED.

_15th._--This afternoon I embarked in a canoe with _Chinamus_, and
went with him to his residence at Chinook.[199] The chief welcomed
me to his house in a style which would do no discredit to a more
civilized person. His two wives were ordered to make a bed for me,
which they did by piling up about a dozen of their soft mats, and
placing my blankets upon them, and a better bed I should never
wish for. I was regaled, before I retired, with sturgeon, salmon,
wappatoos, cranberries, and every thing else that the mansion
afforded, and was requested to ask for any thing I wanted, and it
should be furnished me. Whatever may be said derogatory to these
people, I can testify that inhospitality is not among the number of
their failings. I never went into the {257} house of an Indian in
my life, in any part of the country, without being most cordially
received and welcomed.

  [199] The site of this Chinook village opposite Astoria, was
  probably that of the present Fort Columbia, built to protect the
  entrance to the river.--ED.

The chief's house is built in the usual way, of logs and hewn
boards, with a roof of cedar bark, and lined inside with mats. The
floor is boarded and matted, and there is a depression in the ground
about a foot in depth and four feet in width, extending the whole
length of the building in the middle, where the fires are made.

In this, as in almost every house, there is a large figure, or idol,
rudely carved and painted upon a board, and occupying a conspicuous
place. To this figure many of the Indians ascribe supernatural
powers. Chinamus says that if he is in any kind of danger, and
particularly, if he is under the influence of an evil spell, he has
only to place himself against the image, and the difficulty, of
whatever kind, vanishes at once. This certainly savors of idolatry,
although I believe they never address the uncouth figure as a deity.
Like all other Indians, they acknowledge a great and invisible
spirit, who governs and controls, and to whom all adoration is due.

Attached to this establishment, are three other houses, similarly
constructed, inhabited by about thirty Indians, and at least that
number of dogs. These, although very useful animals in their place,
are here a great nuisance. They are of no possible service to the
Indians, except to eat their provisions, and fill their houses with
fleas, and a stranger approaching the lodges, is in constant danger
of being throttled by a legion of fierce brutes, who are not half as
hospitable as their masters.

I remained here several days, making excursions through the
neighborhood, and each time when I returned to the lodge, the dogs
growled and darted at me. I had no notion of being bitten, so I gave
the Indians warning, that unless the snarling beasts were tied up
when I came near, I would shoot every one of them. The threat had
the effect desired, and after this, whenever {258} I approached the
lodges, there was a universal stir among the people, and the words,
"_iskam kahmooks, iskam kahmooks, kalak'alah tie chahko_," (take up
your dogs, take up your dogs, the _bird chief_ is coming,) echoed
through the little village, and was followed by the yelping and
snarling of dozens of wolf-dogs, and "curs of low degree," all of
which were gathered in haste to the cover and protection of one of
the houses.



{259} CHAPTER XVI

     Northern excursion--Large shoals of salmon--Indian mode of
     catching them--House near the beach--Flathead children--A storm
     on the bay--Loss of provision--Pintail ducks--Simple mode of
     killing salmon--Return to Chinook--Indian garrulity--Return to
     Fort George--Preparations for a second trip to the Sandwich
     Islands--Detention within the cape....


_October 17th._--I left Chinook this morning in a canoe with
Chinamus, his two wives, and a slave, to procure shell-fish, which
are said to be found in great abundance towards the north. We passed
through a number of narrow _slues_ which connect the numerous bays
in this part of the country, and at noon debarked, left our canoe,
took our blankets on our shoulders, and struck through the midst
of a deep pine forest. After walking about two miles, we came to
another branch, where we found a canoe which had been left there for
us yesterday, and embarking in this, we arrived in the evening at an
Indian house, near the seaside, where we spent the night.

In our passage through some of the narrow channels to-day, we saw
vast shoals of salmon, which were leaping and curvetting {260} about
in every direction, and not unfrequently dashing their noses against
our canoe, in their headlong course. We met here a number of Indians
engaged in fishing. Their mode of taking the salmon is a very simple
one. The whole of the tackle consists of a pole about twelve feet
long, with a large iron hook attached to the end. This machine they
keep constantly trailing in the water, and when the fish approaches
the surface, by a quick and dexterous jerk, they fasten the iron
into his side, and shake him off into the canoe. They say they take
so many fish that it is necessary for them to land about three times
a day to deposit them.

The house in which we sleep to-night is not near so comfortable as
the one we have left. It stinks intolerably of salmon, which are
hanging by scores to the roof, to dry in the smoke, and our bed
being on the dead level, we shall probably suffer somewhat from
fleas, not to mention another unmentionable insect which is apt
to inhabit these dormitories in considerable profusion. There are
here several young children; beautiful, flat-headed, broad-faced,
little individuals. One of the little dears has taken something of
a fancy to me, and is now hanging over me, and staring at my book
with its great goggle eyes. It is somewhat strange, perhaps, but I
have become so accustomed to this universal deformity, that I now
scarcely notice it. I have often been evilly disposed enough to
wish, that if in the course of events one of these little beings
should die, I could get possession of it. I should like to plump
the small carcass into a keg of spirits, and send it home for the
observation of the curious.

_18th._--Last night the wind rose to a gale, and this morning it is
blowing most furiously, making the usually calm water of these bays
so turbulent as to be dangerous for our light craft. Notwithstanding
this disadvantage, the Indians were in favor of starting for the
sea, which we accordingly did at an early hour. Soon after we left,
in crossing one of the bays, about three-quarters {261} of a mile
in width, the water suddenly became so agitated as at first nearly
to upset our canoe. A perfect hurricane was blowing right ahead,
cold as ice, and the water was dashing over us, and into our little
bark, in a manner to frighten even the experienced chief who was
acting as helmsman. In a few minutes we were sitting nearly up
to our waistbands in water, although one of the women and myself
were constantly bailing it out, employing for the purpose the only
two hats belonging to the party, my own and that of the chief.
We arrived at the shore at length in safety, although there was
scarcely a dry thread on us, and built a tremendous fire with the
drift-wood which we found on the beach. We then dried our clothes
and blankets as well as we could, cooked some ducks that we killed
yesterday, and made a hearty breakfast. My stock of bread, sugar,
and tea, is completely spoiled by the salt water, so that until
I return to Fort George, I must live simply; but I think this no
hardship: what has been done once can be done again.

In the afternoon the women collected for me a considerable number of
shells, several species of _Cardium_, _Citherea_, _Ostrea_, &c., all
edible, and the last very good, though small.

The common pintail duck, (_Anas acuta_,) is found here in vast
flocks. The chief and myself killed _twenty-six_ to-day, by a
simultaneous discharge of our guns. They are exceedingly fat and
most excellent eating; indeed all the game of this lower country is
far superior to that found in the neighborhood of Vancouver. The
ducks feed upon a small submerged vegetable which grows in great
abundance upon the reedy islands in this vicinity.

The next day we embarked early, to return to Chinook. The wind was
still blowing a gale, but by running along close to the shore of the
stormy bay, we were enabled, by adding greatly to our distance, to
escape the difficulties against which we contended {262} yesterday,
and regained the slues with tolerably dry garments.

At about 10 o'clock, we arrived at the portage, and struck into the
wood, shouldering our baggage as before. We soon came to a beautiful
little stream of fresh water, where we halted, and prepared our
breakfast. In this stream, (not exceeding nine feet at the widest
part,) I was surprised to observe a great number of large salmon.
Beautiful fellows, of from fifteen to twenty-five pounds weight,
darting and playing about in the crystal water, and often exposing
three-fourths of their bodies in making their way through the
shallows. I had before no idea that these noble fish were ever found
in such insignificant streams, but the Indians say that they always
come into the rivulets at this season, and return to the sea on the
approach of winter. Our slave killed seven of these beautiful fish,
while we made our hasty breakfast, his only weapon being a light
cedar paddle.

We reached Chinook in the evening, and as we sat around the fires
in the lodge, I was amused by the vivid description given to the
attentive inhabitants by Chinamus and his wives, of the perils of
our passage across the stormy bay. They all spoke at once, and
described most minutely every circumstance that occurred, the
auditors continually evincing their attention to the relation by a
pithy and sympathizing _hugh_. They often appealed to me for the
truth of what they were saying, and, as in duty bound, I gave an
assenting nod, although at times I fancied they were yielding to a
propensity, not uncommon among those of Christian lands, and which
is known by the phrase, "drawing a long bow."

_21st._--The wind yesterday was so high, that I did not consider
it safe to attempt the passage to Fort George. This morning it was
more calm, and we put off in a large canoe at sunrise. When we had
reached the middle of Young's bay, the wind again rose, and the
water was dashing over us in fine style, so that we {263} were
compelled to make for the shore and wait until it subsided. We lay
by about an hour, when, the water becoming more smooth, we again got
under way, and arrived at Fort George about noon.

On the 5th of November, I returned to Vancouver, and immediately
commenced packing my baggage, collection, &c., for a passage to the
Sandwich Islands, in the barque Columbia, which is now preparing
to sail for England. This is a fine vessel, of three hundred tons,
commanded by Captain Royal; we shall have eight passengers in the
cabin; Captain Darby, formerly of this vessel, R. Cowie, chief
trader, and others.

On the 21st, we dropped down the river, and in two days anchored off
the cape. We have but little prospect of being able to cross the
bar; the sea breaks over the channel with a roar like thunder, and
the surf dashes and frets against the rocky cape and drives its foam
far up into the bay.

I long to see blue water again. I am fond of the sea; it suits both
my disposition and constitution; and then the reflection, that
now every foot I advance will carry me nearer to my beloved home,
is in itself a most powerful inducement to urge me on. But much
as I desire again to see home, much as I long to embrace those to
whom I am attached by the strongest ties, I have nevertheless felt
something very like regret at leaving Vancouver and its kind and
agreeable residents. I took leave of Doctor McLoughlin with feelings
akin to those with which I should bid adieu to an affectionate
parent; and to his fervent, "God bless you, sir, and may you have a
happy meeting with your friends," I could only reply by a look of
the sincerest gratitude. Words are inadequate to express my deep
sense of the obligations which I feel under to this truly generous
and excellent man, and I fear I can only repay them by the sincerity
with which I shall always cherish the recollection of his kindness,
and the ardent prayers I shall breathe for his prosperity and
happiness.

{264} _30th._--At daylight this morning, the wind being fair, and
the bar more smooth, we weighed anchor and stood out. At about 9
o'clock we crossed the bar, and in a few minutes were hurrying
along on the open sea before a six-knot breeze. We are now out, and
so good bye to Cape Disappointment and the Columbia, and now for
_home_, dear home again!

       *       *       *       *       *

Transcriber's note:

The section "NARRATIVE OF A JOURNEY ACROSS THE ROCKY MOUNTAINS, TO
THE COLUMBIA RIVER" does not include a chapter XI in the table of
contents on page 115, or in the book itself.

There are numbers within the text represented like {27}. These are
page references to the original manuscripts. In the book these are
enclosed in square brackets [27] rather than curly brackets.

Minor typographical errors have been corrected without note.
Irregularities and inconsistencies in the text have been retained as
printed.

The cover for the eBook version of this book was created by the
transcriber and is placed in the public domain.





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