The Writings of George Washington, by Jared Sparks, Volume II
Journal of a Tour to the Ohio River.
(Boston: Charles Tappan, 1846), pages 516-534
The Writings of George Washington, by Jared Sparks, Volume II
Journal of a Tour to the Ohio River.
October 5th – Began a journey to the Ohio, in company with Dr. Craik, his servant, and two of mine, with a led horse and baggage. Dined at Towlston, and lodged at Leesburg, distant from Mount Vernon about forty-five miles. Here my portmanteau horse failed.
6th. – Fed our horses on the top of the Ridge, and arrived at my brother Samuel’s, on Worthington’s Marsh, a little after they had dined, the distance being about thirty miles; from hence I despatched a messenger to Colonel Stephen apprising him of my arrival and intended journey.
7th. – My portmanteau horse being unable to proceed, I left him at my brother’s, and got one of his, and proceeded to Samuel Pritchard’s on Cacapehon. Pritchard’s is a pretty good house, there being fine pasturage, good fences, and beds tolerably clean.
8th. – My servant being unable to travel, I left him at Pritchard’s with Dr. Craik, and proceeded myself with Valentine Crawford to Colonel Cresap’s, in order to learn from him (being just arrived from England) the particulars of the grant said to be lately sold to Walpole and others, for a certain tract of country on the Ohio. The distance from Pritchard’s to Cresap’s according to computation is twenty-six miles.
9th. – Went up to Rumney in order to buy work-horses, and met Dr. Craik and my baggage; arrived there about twelve o’clock.
10th. – Having purchased two horses, and recovered another which had been gone from me near three years, I despatched my boy Silas with my two riding-horses home, and proceeded on my journey; arriving at one Wise’s (now Turner’s) mill about twenty-two miles, it being reckoned seven to the place where Cox’s Fort formerly stood; ten to one Parker’s; and five afterwards.
11th. – The morning being wet and heavy we did not set off till eleven o’clock, and arrived that night at one Killam’s, on a branch of George’s Creek, distant ten and a half measured miles from the north branch of the Potomac, where we crossed at the lower end of my deceased brother Augustine’s land, known by the name of Pendergrass’s. This crossing is two miles from the aforesaid mill and the road bad, as it likewise is to Killam’s, the country being very hilly and stony. From Killam’s to Fort Cumberland is the same distance, that it is to the crossing above mentioned, and the road from thence to Jolliff’s by the Old Town much better.
12th. – We left Killem’s early in the morning; breakfasted at the Little Meadows, ten miles off, and lodged at the Great Crossing twenty miles further; which we found a tolerably good day’s work. The country we travelled over to-day was very mountainous and stony, with but very little good land, and that lying in spots.
13th. – Set out about sunrise; breakfasted at the Great Meadows thirteen miles, and reached Captain Crawford’s about five o’clock. The land from Gist’s to Crawford’s is very broken through not mountainous; in spots exceedingly rich, and in general free from stones. Crawford’s is very fine land; lying on the Youghiogany at a place commonly called Stewart’s Crossing.
14th. – At Captain Crawford’s all day. Went to see a coal-mine not far from his house on the banks of the river. The coal seemed to be of the very best kind, burning freely, and abundance of it.
15th. – Went to view some land, which Captain Crawford had taken up for me near the Youghiogany, distant about twelve miles. This tract, which contains about one thousand six hundred acres, includes some as fine land as ever I saw, and a great deal of rich meadow. It is well watered, and has a valuable mill-seat, except that the stream is rather too slight, and; it is said, not constant more than seven or eight months in the year; but on account of the fall, and other conveniences, no place can exceed it. In going to this land, I passed through two other tracts, which Captain Crawford had taken up for my brothers Samuel and John. I intended to have visited the land, which Crawford had procured for Lund Washington, this day also, but, time falling short, I was obliged to postpone it. Night came on before I got back to Crawford’s, where I found Colonel Stephen. The lands, which I passed over to-day, were generally hilly, and the growth chiefly white-oak, but very good notwithstanding; and what is extraordinary, and contrary to the property of all other lands I ever saw before, the hills are the richest land; the soil upon the sides and summits of them being as black as a coal, and the growth walnut and cherry. The flats are not so rich, and a good deal more mixed with stone.
16th. – At Captain Crawford’s till the evening, when I went to Mr. John Stephenson’s on my way to Pittsburg and lodged. This day I was visited by one Mr. Ennis, who had travelled down the Little Kenhawa, almost from the head to the mouth, on which he says the lands are broken, the bottoms neither very wide nor rich, but covered with beach. At the mouth the lands are good, and continue so up the river. About Wheeling, and Fisher’s Creek, there is, according to his account, a body of fine land. I also saw a son of Captain John Harden’s, who said he had been from the mouth of Little Kenhawa to the Big; but his description of the lands seemed to be so vague and indeterminate, that it was much doubted whether he ever was there or not.
17th. – Dr. Craik and myself, with Captain Crawford and others, arrived at Fort Pitt, distant from the Crossing forty-three and a half measured miles. In riding this distance we passed over a great deal of exceedingly fine land, chiefly white-oak, especially from Sewickly Creek to Turtle Creek, but the whole broken; resembling, as I think all the lands in this country do, the Loudoun lands. We lodged in what is called the town, distant about three hundred yards from the fort, at one Mr. Semple’s, who keeps a very good house of public entertainment. The houses, which are built of logs, and ranged in streets, are on the Monongahela, and I suppose may be about twenty in number, and inhabited by Indian traders. The fort is built on the point between the rivers Allegany and Monongahela, but not so near the pitch of it as Fort Duquesne stood. It is five-sided and regular, two of which near the land are of brick, the others stockade. A moat encompasses it. The garrison consists of two companies of Royal Irish, commanded by Captain Edmondson.
18th. – Dined in the Fort with Colonel Croghan and the officers of the garrison; supped there also, meeting with great civility, from the gentlemen, and engaged to dine with Colonel Croghan the next day at his seat, about four miles up the Allegany.
19th. – Received a message from Colonel Croghan, that the White Mingo and other chiefs of the Six Nations had something to say to me, and desiring that I would be at his house about eleven, where they were to meet. I went up and received a speech, with a string of wampum from the White Mingo, to the following effect.
“That as I was a person whom some of them remember to have seen, when I was sent on an embassy to the French, and most of them had heard of, they were come to bid me welcome to this country, and to desire that the people of Virginia would consider them as friends and brothers, linked together in one chain; that I would inform the governor, that it was their wish to live in peace and harmony with the white people, and that though there had been some unhappy differences between them and the people upon our frontiers, they were all made up, and they hoped forgotten; and concluded with saying, that their brothers of Virginia did not come along them and trade as the inhabitants of the other provinces did, from whence they were afraid that we did not look upon them with so friendly an eye as they could wish.”
To this I answered, after thanking them for their friendly welcome, “that all the injuries and affronts, that had passed on either side, were now totally forgotten, and that I was sure noting was more wished and desired by the people of Virginia, than to live in the strictest friendship with them; that the Virginians were a people not so much engaged in trade as the Pennsylvanians, which was the reason of their not being so frequently among them; but that it was possible they might for the time to come have stricter connexions with them, and that I would acquaint the government with their desires.”
After dining at Colonel Croghan’s we returned to Pittsburg, Colonel Croghan with us, who intended to accompany us part of the way down the river, having engaged an Indian called the Pheasant, and one Joseph Nicholson an interpreter, to attend us the whole voyage; also a young Indian warrior.
20th. – We embarked in a large canoe, with sufficient store of provision and necessaries, and the following persons, besides Dr. Craik and myself, to wit, Captain Crawford, Joseph Nicholson, Robert Bell, William Harrison, Charles Morgan, and Daniel Rendon, a boy of Captain Crawford’s, and the Indians, who were in a canoe by themselves. From Fort Pitt we sent our horses and boys back to Captain Crawford’s, with orders to meet us there again on the 14th day of November. Colonel Croghan, Lieutenant Hamilton, and Mr. Magee, set out with us. At two we dined at Mr. Magee’s, and encamped ten miles below, and four above Logstown. We passed several large islands, which appeared to be very good, as the bottoms also did on each side of the river alternately; the hills on one side being opposite to the bottoms on the other, which seem generally to be about three or found hundred yards wide, and so vice versa.
21st. – Left our encampment about six o’clock, and breakfasted at Logstown, where we parted with Colonel Croghan and company about nine o’clock. At eleven we came to the mouth of the Big Beaver Creek, opposite to which is a good situation for a house, and above it, on the same side, that is the west, there appears to be a body of fine land. About five miles lower down, on the east side, comes in Raccoon Creek, at the mouth of which and up it appears to be a body of good land also. All the land between this creek and the Monongahela, and for fifteen miles back, is claimed by Colonel Croghan under a purchase from the Indians, which sale he says is confirmed by his Majesty. On this creek, where the branches thereof interlock with the waters of Shurtees Creek, there is, according to Colonel Croghan’s account, a body of fine, rich, level land. This tract he wants to sell, and offers it at five pounds sterling per hundred acres, with an exemption of quitrents for twenty years; after which, to be subject to the payment of four shillings and two pence sterling per hundred acres; provided he can sell it in ten-thousand-acre lots. At present the unsettled state of this country renders any purchase dangerous. From Raccoon Creek to Little Beaver Creek appears to me to be little short of ten miles, and about three miles below this we encamped; after hiding a barrel of biscuit in an island to lighten our canoe.
22d. – As it began to snow about midnight, and continued pretty steadily, it was about half after seven before we left our encampment. At the distance of about eight miles we came to the mouth of Yellow Creek, opposite to, or rather below which, appears to be a long bottom of very good land, and the ascent to the hills apparently gradual. There is another pretty large bottom of very good land about two or three miles above this. About eleven or twelve miles from this, and just above what is called the Long Island (which though so distinguished is not very remarkable for length, breadth, or goodness), comes in on the east side of the river a small creek, or run, the name of which I could not learn; and a mile or two below the island, on the west side, comes in Big Stony Creek (not larger in appearance than the other), on neither of which does there seem to be any large bottoms of bodies of good land. About seven miles from the last mentioned creek, twenty-eight from our last encampment, and about seventy-five from Pittsburg, we came to the Mingo Town, situate on the west side the river, a little above the Cross Creeks. This place contains about twenty cabins, and seventy inhabitants of the Six Nations. Had we set off early, and kept constantly at it, we might have reached lower than this place to-day; as the water in many places ran pretty swift, in general more so than yesterday. The river from Fort Pitt to Logstown has some ugly rifts and shoals, which we found somewhat difficult to pass, whether from our inexperience of the channel, or not, I cannot undertake to say. From Logstown to the mouth of Little Beaver Creek is much the same kind of water; that is, rapid in some places, gliding gently along in others, and quite still in many. The water from Little Beaver Creek to the Mingo Town, in general, is swifter than we found it the preceding day, and without any shallows; there being some one part or another always deep, which is a natural consequence, as the river in all the distance from Fort Pitt to this town has not widened at all, nor do the bottoms appear to be any larger. The hills which come close to the river opposite to each bottom are steep; and on the side in view, in many places, rocky and cragged; but said to abound in good land on the tops. These are not a range of hills, but broken and cut in two, as if there were frequent watercourses running through, which however we did not perceive to be the case. The river abounds in wild geese, and several kinds of ducks, but in no great quantity. We killed five wild turkeys to-day. Upon our arrival at the Mingo Town, we received the disagreeable news of two traders being killed at a town called the Grape-Vine Town, thirty-eight miles below this; which caused us to hesitate whether we should proceed, or wait for further intelligence.
23d. – Several imperfect accounts coming in, agreeing that only one person was killed, and the Indians not supposing it to be done by their people, we resolved to pursue our passage, till we could get a more distinct account of this transaction. Accordingly about two o’clock we set out with the two Indians, who were to accompany us in our canoe, and after about four miles came to the mouth of a creek on the east side. The Cross Creeks, as they are called, are not large; that on the west side is biggest. At the Mingo Town we found and left more than sixty warriors of the Six Nations, going to the Cherokee country to proceed to war against the Catawbas. About ten miles below the town, we came to two other cross creeks; that on the west side is the larger, and called by Nicholson, French Creek. About three miles, or a little more below this, at the lower point of some islands, which stand contiguous to each other, we were told by the Indians, that three men from Virginia had marked the land from hence all the way to Red-stone; that there was a body of exceedingly fine land lying about this place, and up opposite to the Mingo Town, as also down to the mouth of Fishing Creek. At this place we encamped.
24th. – We left our encampment before sunrise, and about six miles below it we came to the mouth of a small creek, coming in from the eastward, called by the Indians Split-Island Creek, from its running in against an island. On this creek there is the appearance of good land. Six miles below this again we came to another creek on the west side, called by Nicholson, Wheeling; and about a mile lower down appears to be another small water coming in on the east side, which I remark, because of the scarcity of them, and to show how badly furnished this country is with mill-seats. Two or three miles below this is another run on the west side, up which is a near way by land to the Mingo Town; and about four miles lower, comes in another on the east, at which place is a path leading to the settlement at Red-stone. About a mile and a half below this comes in the Pipe Creek, so called by the Indians from a stone, which is found here, out of which they make pipes. Opposite to this, that is, on the east side, is a bottom of exceedingly rich land; but as it seems to lie low, I am apprehensive that it is subject to be overflowed. This bottom ends where the effects of a hurricane appear, by the destruction and havoc among the trees. Two or three miles below the Pipe Creek is a pretty large creek on the west side, called by Nicholson, Fox-Grape-Vine, by others Captema, Creek, on which, eight miles up, is the town called the Grape-Vine Town; and at the mouth of it is the place where it was said the trader was killed. To this place we came about three o’clock in the afternoon, and finding nobody there, we agreed to encamp, that Nicholson and one of the Indians might go up to the town, and inquire into the truth of the report concerning the murder.
25th. – About seven o’clock, Nicholson and the Indian returned; they found nobody at the town but two old Indian women (the men being a hunting); from these they learned that the trader was not murdered, but drowned in attempting to cross the Ohio; and that only one boy, belonging to the traders, was in these parts; the trader, his father, being gone for horses to take home their skins. About half an hour after seven we set out from our encampment; around which and up the creek is a body of fine land. In our passage down to this place we saw innumerable quantities of turkeys, and many deer watering and browsing on the shore-side, some of which we killed. Neither yesterday nor the day before did we pass any rifts, or very rapid water, the river gliding gently along; nor did we perceive any alteration in the general face of the country; except that the bottoms seemed to be getting a little longer and wider, as the bends of the river grew larger.
About five miles from the Vine Creek comes in a very large creek to the eastward, called by the Indians Cut Creek, from a town or tribe of Indians, which they say was cut off entirely in a very bloody battle between them and the Six Nations. This creek empties just at the lower end of an island, and is seventy or eighty yards wide; and I fancy it is the creek commonly called Wheeling by the people of Red-stone. It extends, according to the Indians’ account, a great way, and interlocks with the branches of Split-Island Creek; abounding in very fine bottoms, and exceeding good land. Just below this, on the west side, comes in a small run; and about five miles below it, on the west side also, another creek empties, called by the Indians Broken-Timber Creek; so named from the timber that is destroyed on it by a hurricane; on the head of this was a town of the Delawares, which is now deserted. Two miles lower down, on the same side, is another creek smaller than the last, and bearing, according to the Indians, the same name. Opposite to these two creeks, on the east side, appears to be a large bottom of good land. About two miles below the last mentioned creek, on the east side, and at the end of the bottom aforementioned, comes in a small creek. Seven miles from this is Muddy Creek, on the east side of the river, a pretty large creek which heads with some of the waters of Monongahela, according to the Indians’ account, and is bordered by some bottoms of very good land; but in general the hills are steep, and the country broken. At the mouth of this creek is the largest flat I have seen upon the river; the bottom extending two or three miles up the river above it, and a mile below; though it does not seem to be of the richest kind. About half way in the Long Reach we encamped, opposite to the beginning of a large bottom on the east side of the river. At this place we threw out some lines at night and found a catfish, of the size of our largest river catfish, hooked to one of them in the morning, though it was of the smallest kind here. We found no rifts in this day’s passage, but pretty swift water in some places, and still in others. We found the bottoms increased in size, both as to length and breadth, and the river more choked up with fallen trees, and the bottom of the river next the shores rather more muddy, but in general stony, as it has been all the way down.
26th. – Left our encampment at half an hour after six o’clock, and passed a small run on the west side about four miles lower. At the lower end of the Long Reach, and for some distance up it, on the east side, is a large bottom, but low, and covered with beech near the river-shore, which is no indication of good land. The Long Reach is a straight course of the river for about eighteen or twenty miles, which appears the more extraordinary as the Ohio in general is remarkably crooked. There are several islands in this reach, some containing an hundred or more acres of land; but all I apprehend liable to be overflowed.
At the end of this reach we found Martin and Lindsay, two traders, and from them learnt, that the person drowned was one Philips, attempting, in company with Rogers, another Indian trader, to swim the river with their horses at an improper place; Rogers himself narrowly escaping. Five miles lower down comes in a large creek from the east, right against an island of good land, at least a mile or two in length. At the mouth of this creek (the name of which I could not learn, except that it was called by some Ball’s Creek, from one Ball that hunted on it) is a bottom of good land, though rather too much mixed with beech. Opposite to this island the Indians showed us a buffalo’s path, the tracks of which we saw. Five or six miles below the last mentioned creek we came to the Three Islands. Below these islands is a large body of flat land, with a watercourse running through it on the east side, and the hills back neither so high nor steep in appearance, as they are up the river. On the other hand, the bottoms do not appear so rich, though much longer and wider. The bottom last mentioned is upon a straight reach of the river, I suppose six or eight miles in length. About twelve miles below the Three Islands we encamped, just above the mouth of the creek, which appears pretty large at the mouth, and just above an island. All the lands from a little below the creek, which I have distinguished by the name of Ball’s Creek, appear to be level, with some small hillocks intermixed, as far as we could see into the country. We met with no rifts to-day, but some pretty strong water; upon the whole tolerably gentle. The sides of the river were a good deal incommoded with old trees, which impeded our passage a little. This day proved clear and pleasant; the only day since the 18th that it has not rained or snowed, or threatened the one or other.
27th. – Left our encampment a quarter before seven; and after passing the creek near which we lay, and another of much the same size and on the same side, also an island about two miles in length, but not wide, we came to the mouth of Muskingum, distant from our encampment about four miles. This river is about one hundred and fifty yards wide at the mouth; it runs out in a gentle current and clear stream, and is navigable a great way into the country for canoes. From Muskingum to the Little Kenhawa is about thirteen miles. This is about as wide at the mouth as the Muskingum, but the water much deeper. It runs up towards the inhabitants of Monongahela, and according to the Indians’ account, forks about forty or fifty miles from the mouth, and the ridge between the two prongs leads directly to the settlement. To this fork, and above, the water is navigable for canoes. On the upper side of this river there appears to be a bottom of exceedingly rich land, and the country from hence quite up to the Three Islands level and in appearance fine. The Ohio running round it in the form of a horse-shoe forms a neck of flat land, which, added to that running up the second Long Reach aforementioned, cannot contain less than fifty thousand acres in view.
About six or seven miles below the mouth of the Little Kenhawa, we came to a small creek on the west side, which the Indians called Little Hockhocking; but before we did this, we passed another small creek on the same side near the mouth of that river, and a cluster of islands afterwards. The lands for two or three miles below the mouth of the Little Kenhawa on both sides of the Ohio appear broken and indifferent; but opposite to the Little Hockhocking there is a bottom of good land, through which there runs a small watercourse. I suppose there may be, of this bottom and flat land together, two or three thousand acres. The lower end of this bottom is opposite to a small island, of which I dare say little is to be seen when the river is high. About eight miles below Little Hockhocking we encamped opposite to the mouth of the Great Hockhocking, which, though so called, is not a large water; though the Indians say canoes can go up it forty or fifty miles. Since we left the Little Kenhawa the lands appear neither so level nor so good. The bends of the river and bottoms are longer, but not so rich as in the upper part of the river.
28th. – Left our encampment about seven o’clock. Two miles below, a small run comes in, on the east side, through a piece of land that has a very good appearance, the bottom beginning above our encampment, and continuing in appearance wide for four miles down, where we found Kiashuta and his hunting party encamped. Here we were under a necessity of paying our compliments, as this person was one of the Six Nation chiefs, and the head of those upon this river. In the person of Kiashuta I found an old acquaintance, he being one of the Indians that went with me to the French in 1753. He expressed a satisfaction at seeing me, and treated us with great kindness, giving us a quarter of very fine buffalo. He insisted upon our spending that night with him, and, in order to retard us as little as possible, moved his camp down the river just below the mouth of a creek, the name of which I could not learn. At this place we all encamped. After much counseling over night, they all came to my fire the next morning with great formality; when Kiashuta, rehearsing what had passed between me and the Sachems at Colonel Croghan’s, thanked me for saying, that peace and friendship with them were the wish of the people of Virginia, and for recommending it to the traders to deal with them upon a fair and equitable footing; and then again expressed their desire of having a trade opened with Virginia, and that the governor thereof might not only be made acquainted therewith, but with their friendly disposition towards the white people. This I promised to do.
29th.- The tedious ceremony, which the Indians observe in their counsellings and speeches, detained us till nine o’clock. Opposite to the creek, just below which we encamped, is a pretty long bottom, and I believe tolerably wide; but about eight or nine miles below the aforementioned creek, and just below a pavement of rocks on the west side, comes in a creek, with fallen timber at the mouth, on which the Indians say there are wide bottoms and good land. The river bottoms above, for some distance, are very good, and continue so for near half a mile below the creek. The pavement of rocks is only to be seen at low water. About a mile below the mouth of the creek there is another pavement of rocks on the east side, in a kind of sedgy ground. On this creek are many buffaloes, according to the Indians’ account. Six miles below this comes in a small creek on the west side, at the end of a small, naked island, and just above another pavement of rocks. This creek comes through a bottom of fine land, and opposite to it, on the east side of the river, appears to be a large bottom of very fine land also. At this place begins what they call the Great Bend. Two miles below, on the east side, comes in another creek, just below an island, on the upper point of which are some dead standing trees, and a parcel of white-bodied sycamores; in the mouth of this creek lies a sycamore blown down by the wind. From hence an east line may be run three or four miles; thence a north line till it strikes the river, which I apprehend would include about three or four thousand acres of valuable land. At the mouth of this creek is the warriors’ path to the Cherokee country. For two miles and a half below this the Ohio runs a north-east course, and finishes what they call the Great Bend. Two miles and a half below this we encamped.
30th. – We set out about fifty minutes past seven, the weather being windy and cloudy, after a night of rain. After about two miles we came to the head of a bottom, in the shape of a horse-shoe, which I judge to be about six miles round; the beginning of the bottom appeared to be very good land, but the lower part did not seem so friendly. The upper part of the bottom we encamped on was exceeding good, but the lower part rather thin land, covered with beech. In it is some clear meadow-land, and a pond or lake. This bottom begins just below the rapid at the point of the Great bend. The river from this place narrows very considerably, and for five or six miles is scarcely more than one hundred and fifty or two hundred yards over. The water yesterday, except the rapid at the Great Bend, and some swift places about the islands, was quite dead, and as easily passed one way as the other; the land in general appeared level and good.
About ten miles below our encampment, and a little lower down than the bottom described to lie in the shape of a horse-shoe, comes in a small creek on the west side, and opposite to this on the east begin a body of flat land, which the Indians tell us runs quite across the fork to the falls in the Kenhawa, and must at least be three days’ walk across; if so, the flat land contained therein must be very considerable. A mile or two below this we landed, and after getting a little distance from the river, we came, without any rising, to a pretty lively kind of land grown up with hickory and oaks of different kinds, intermixed with walnut. We also found many shallow ponds, the sides of which, abounding with grass, invited innumerable quantities of wild fowl, among which I saw a couple of birds in size between a swan and a goose, and in color somewhat between the two, being darker than the young swan and of a more sooty color. The cry of these birds was as unusual as the birds themselves; I never heard any noise resembling it before. About five miles below this we encamped in a bottom of good land, which holds tolerably flat and rich for some distance out.
31st. – I sent the canoe down about five miles to the junction of the two rivers, that is, the Kenhawa with the Ohio, and set out upon a hunting party to view the land. We steered nearly east for about eight or nine miles, then bore southwardly and westwardly, till we came to our camp at the confluence of the rivers. The land from the rivers appeared but indifferent, and very broken; whether these ridges may not be those that divide the waters of the Ohio from the Kenhawa is not certain, but I believe they are; if so, the lands may yet be good; if not, that which lies beyond the river bottoms is worth little.
November 1st. – Before eight o’clock we set off with our canoe up the river, to discover what kind of lands lay upon the Kenhawa. The land on both sides this river just at the mouth is very fine; but on the east side, when you get towards the hills, which I judge to be about six or seven hundred yards from the river, it appears to be wet, and better adapted for meadow than tillage. This bottom continues up the east side for about two miles; and by going up the Ohio a good tract might be got of bottom land, including the old Shawnee Town, which is about three miles up the Ohio, just above the mouth of a creek. We judged we went up the Kenhawa about ten miles to-day. On the east side appear to be some good bottoms, but small, neither long nor wide, and the hills back of them rather steep and poor.
2d. – We proceeded up the river with the canoe about four miles farther, and then encamped, and went a hunting; killed five buffaloes and wounded some others, three deer, &c. This country abounds in buffaloes and wild game of all kinds; as also in all kinds of wild fowl, there being in the bottoms a great many small, grassy ponds, or lakes, which are full of swans, geese, and ducks of different kinds. Some of our people went up the river four or five miles higher, and found the same kind of bottom on the west side; and we were told by the Indians, that it continued to the falls, which they judged to be fifty or sixty miles higher up. This bottom next the water in most places is very rich; as you approach to the hills you come to a thin white-oak land and poor. The hills as far as we could judge were from half a mile to a mile from the river, poor and steep in the parts we saw, with pine growing on them. Whether they are generally so or not we cannot tell, but I fear they are.
3d. – We set off down the river, on our return homewards, and encamped at the mouth. At the beginning of the bottom above the junction of the rivers, and at the mouth of a branch on the east side, I marked two maples, an elm, and hoop-wood tree, as a corner of the soldiers’ land (if we can get it), intending to take all the bottom from hence to the rapids in the Great Bend into one survey. I also marked at the mouth of another run lower down on the west side, at the lower end of the long bottom, an ash and hoop-wood for the beginning of another of the soldiers’ surveys, to extend up so as to include all the bottom in a body on the west side. In coming from our last encampment up the Kenhawa, I endeavoured to take the courses and distances of the river by a pocket compass, and by guessing.
4th. – After passing these hills, which may run on the river near a mile, there appears to be another pretty good bottom on the east side. At this place we met a canoe going to the Illinois with sheep; and at this place also, that is, at the end of the bottom from the Kenhawa, just as we came to the hills, we met with a sycamore about sixty yards from the river of a most extraordinary size, it measuring, three feet from the ground, forty-five feet round, lacking two inches; and not fifty yards from it was another, thirty-one feet round. After passing this bottom, and about a mile of hills, we entered another bottom and encamped. This bottom reaches within about half a mile of the rapid at the point of the Great Bend.
5th. – I sent off the canoe with our baggage, and walked across the neck on foot, with Captain Crawford, the distance, according to our walking, about eight miles, as we kept a straight course under the foot of the hills, which run about south-east and were two hours and a half in walking it. This is a good neck of land, the soil being generally good, and in places very rich. There is a large proportion of meadow ground, and the land as high, dry, and level as one could wish; the growth in most places beech intermixed with walnut, but more especially with poplar, of which there are numbers very large. The land towards the upper-end is black-oak, and very good. Upon the whole, a valuable tract might be had here, and I judge the quantity to be about four thousand acres. After passing this bottom and the rapid, as also some hills which jut pretty close to the river, we came to that bottom before remarked the 29th ultimo. A little above this bottom we encamped, the afternoon being rainy, and night wet.
6th. – We left our encampment a little after daylight, and after about five miles we came to Kiashuta’s hunting camp, which was now removed to the mouth of that creek, noted October 29th for having fallen timber at the mouth of it, in a bottom of good land. By the kindness and idle ceremony of the Indians, I was detained at Kiashuta’s camp all the remaining part of this day; and having a good deal of conversation with him on the subject of land, he informed me, that it was further from the mouth of the Great Kenhawa to the fall of that river, than it was between the two Kenhawas; that the bottom on the west side, which begins near the mouth of the Kenhawa, continues all the way to the falls without the interposition of hills, and widens as it goes, especially from a pretty large creek that comes in about ten or fifteen miles higher up than where we were; that in the fork there is a body of good land, and at a considerable distance above this, the river forks again at an island, and there begins the reed, or cane, to grow; that the bottoms on the east side of the river are also very good, but broken with hills, and that the river is easily passed with canoes to the falls, which cannot be less than one hundred miles, but further it is not possible to go with them; that there is but one ridge from thence to the settlements upon the river above, on which it is possible for a man to travel, the country between being so much broken with steep hills and precipices.*
*For the succeeding ten days the manuscript journal has been so much injured by accident, that it is impossible to transcribe it. The route, however continued up the Ohio River, which was very much swollen by the rains.
17th. – By this morning the river had fallen in the whole twenty-two or twenty-three feet, and was still lowering. About eight o’clock we set out, and passing the lower Cross Creeks we came to a pretty long and tolerably wide and good bottom on the east side of the river; then came in the hills, just above which is Buffalo Creek. About three o’clock we came to the Mingo Town without seeing our horses, the Indian, who was sent express for them, having passed through only the morning before; being detained by the creeks, which were too high to ford.
Here we resolved to wait their arrival, which was expected tomorrow; and here then will end our water voyage along a river, the general course of which from Beaver Creek to the Kenhawa is about south-west, as near as I could determine; but, in its windings through a narrow vale, extremely serpentine; forming on both sides of the river alternately necks of very good bottoms, some exceedingly fine, lying for the most part in the shape of a half-moon, and of various sizes. There is very little difference in the general width of the river from Fort Pitt to the Kenhawa; but in the depth I believe the odds are considerably in favor of the lower parts, as we found no shallows below the Mingo Town, except in one or two places where the river was broad, and there, I do not know but there might have been a deep channel in some parts of it. Every here and there are islands, some larger and some smaller, which, operating in the nature of locks, or steps, occasion pretty still water above, but for the most part strong and rapid water alongside of them. However none of these is so swift but that a vessel may be rowed or set up with poles. When the river is in its natural state, large canoes that will carry five or six thousand weight or more, may be worked against the stream by four hands, twenty or twenty-five miles a day; and down, a good deal more. The Indians, who are very dexterous (even their women) in the management of canoes, have their hunting-camps and cabins all along the river, for the convenience of transporting their skins by water to market. In the fall, so soon as the hunting-season comes on, they set out with their families for this purpose; and in hunting will move their camps from place to place, till by the spring they get two or three hundred or more miles from their towns; then catch beaver in their way up, which frequently brings them into the month of May, when the women are employed in planting. The men are at market, and in idleness, till the autumn again, when they pursue the same course. During the summer months they live a poor and perishing life.
The Indians who reside upon the Ohio, the upper parts of it at least, are composed of Shawanees, Delawares, and some of the Mingoes, who, getting but little part of the consideration that was given for the lands eastward of the Ohio, view the settlements of the people upon this river with an uneasy and jealous eye, and do not scruple to say, that they must be compensated for their right if the people settle thereon, notwithstanding the cession of the Six Nations. On the other hand, the people of Virginia and elsewhere are exploring and marking all the lands that are valuable, not only on the Redstone and other waters of the Monongahela, but along the Ohio as low as the Little Kenhawa; and by next summer I suppose they will get to the Great Kenhawa at least. How difficult it may be to contend with these people afterwards is easy to be judged, from every day’s experience of lands actually settled, supposing these settlements to be made; than which nothing is more probable, if the Indians permit them, from the disposition of the people at present. A few settlements in the midst of some of the large bottoms would render it impracticable to get any large quantity of land together; as the hills all the way down the river, as low as I went, come pretty close, are steep and broken, and incapable of settlements (though some of them are rich), and only fit to support the bottoms with timber and wood. The land back of the bottoms, as far as I have been able to judge, either from my own observations or from information, is nearly the same, that is, exceedingly uneven and hilly; and I presume there are no bodies of flat, rich land to be found, till one gets far enough from the river to head the little runs and drains, that come through the hills, and to the sources of the creeks and their branches. This, it seems, is the case with the lands upon the Monongahela and Youghiogany, and I fancy holds good upon this river, till you get into the flat lands below the falls. The bottom land differs a good deal in quality. That highest up the river in general is richest; though the bottoms are neither so wide nor so long, as those below. Walnut, cherry, and some other kinds of wood neither tall nor large, but covered with grape vines, with the fruit of which this country at this instant abounds, are the growth of the richest bottoms; but on the other hand, these bottoms appear to me to be the lowest and most subject to floods. The sugar-tree and ash, mixed with walnut, compose the growth of the next richest low grounds; beech, poplar, and oaks the last. The soil of this is also good, but inferior to either of the other kinds; and beech bottoms are objectionable on account of the difficulty of clearing them, as their roots spread over a large surface of ground and are hard to kill.
18th. – Agreed with two Delaware Indians to take up our canoe to Fort Pitt, for the doing of which I was to pay six dollars and give them a quart tin can.
19th. – The Delawares set off with the canoe, and, our horses not arriving, the day appeared exceedingly long and tedious. Upon conversing with Nicholson, I found he had been two or three times to Fort Chartres, on the Illinois, and I got from him an account of the lands between this place and that, and upon the Shawnee River, on which he had been a hunting.
20th. About one o’clock our horses arrived, having been prevented from getting to Fort Pitt by the freshes. At two we set out and got about ten miles, the Indians travelling along with us.
21st. – Reached Fort Pitt in the afternoon, distant from our last encampment about twenty-five miles, and, as near as I can guess, thirty-five from the Mingo Town. The land between the Mingo Town and Pittsburg is of different kinds. For four or five miles after leaving the first mentioned place we passed over steep, hilly ground covered with white-oak, and a thin shallow soil. This was succeeded by a lively white-oak land, less broken; and this again by rich land, the growth of which was chiefly white and red-oak mixed; which lasted, with some intervals of indifferent ridges, all the way to Pittsburg. It was very observable, that, as we left the river, the land grew better, which is a confirmation of the accounts I had before received, that the good bodies of land lie upon the heads of the runs and creeks; but in all my travels through this country, I have seen no large body of level land. On the branches of Raccoon Creek there appears to be good meadow ground, and on Shurtees Creek, over both of which we passed, the land looks well. The country between the Mingo Town and Fort Pitt appears to be well supplied with springs.
22d. – Stayed at Pittsburg all day. Invited the officers and some other gentlemen to dinner with me at Semple’s, among whom was one Dr. Connolly, nephew to Colonel Croghan, a very sensible, intelligent man, who had travelled over a good deal of this western country both by land and water, and who confirms Nicholson’s account of the good land on the Shawnee River, up which he had been near four hundred miles. This country (I mean on the Shawnee River), according to Dr. Connolly’s description, must be exceedingly desirable on many accounts. The climate is fine, the soil remarkably good; the lands well watered with good streams, and level enough for any kind of cultivation. Besides these advantages from nature, it has others not less important to a new settlement, particularly game, which is so plentiful as to render the transportation of provisions thither, bread only excepted, altogether unnecessary. Dr. Connolly is so much delighted with the lands and climate on that river, that he wishes for nothing more, than to induce one hundred families to go there and live, that he might be among them. A new and most desirable government might be established there, to be bounded, according to his account, by the Ohio northward and westward, by the ridge that divides the waters of the Tennessee or Cherokee River southward and westward, and line to be run from the Falls of the Ohio, or above, so as to cross the Shawnee River above the fork of it. Dr. Connolly gives much the same account of the land between Fort Chartres in the Illinois country, and Post St. Vincent, that Nicholson does, except in the article of water, which the Doctor says is bad, and in the summer scarce, there being little else than stagnant water to be met with.
23d. – After settling with the Indians and people that attended me down the river, and defraying the sundry expenses accruing at Pittsburg, I set off on my return home; and, after dining at the widow Mier’s, on Turtle Creek, reached Mr. John Stephenson’s in the night.
24th. When we came to Stewart’s Crossing at Crawford’s, the river was too high to ford, and his canoe gone adrift. However, after waiting there two or three hours, a canoe was got, in which we passed, and saw our horses. The remainder of this day I spent at Captain Crawford’s, it either raining or snowing hard all day.
25th. – I set out early in order to see Lund Washington’s land; but the ground and trees being covered with snow, I was able to form but an indistinct opinion of it; though, upon the whole, it appeared to be a good tract of land. From this I went to Mr. Thomas Gist’s and dined, and then proceeded on to the Great Crossing at Hogland’s, where I arrived about eight o’clock.
26th. – Reached Killam’s, on George’s Creek, where we met several families going over the mountains to live; some without having any places provided. The snow upon the Allegany Mountains was near knee deep.
27th. – We got to Colonel Cresap’s at the Old Town, after calling at Fort Cumberland and breakfasting with one Mr. Innis at the new store opposite.
28th. – The Old Town Creek was so high as to wet us in crossing it, and when we came to Cox’s the river was impassable; we were obliged therefore to cross in canoe, and swim our horses. At Henry Enoch’s, at the Forks of Cacapehon, we dined, and lodged at Rinker’s.
29th. – Set out early, and reached my brother’s by one o’clock. Dr. Craik, having business at Winchester, went that way, and was to meet me at Snicker’s the next morning by ten o’clock.
30th. – According to appointment the Doctor and I met, and after breakfasting at Snicker’s we proceeded to West’s, where we arrived at or about sunset.
December 1st. – Reached home, having been absent nine weeks and one day.