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RETURN TO THE NORTH.
Dec. 19. UR horses being tamed, and taught to eat
corn, by forcing it into their mouths, and we prepared with a tent and provisions, bid the settlements on the Mississippi adieu, and betook to the woods for Tombigby, having two others in company. We had not gone far before the saddle turned on the pack mare ; she took fright, which affrighted the one S. M. rode, and they both set to rearing and jumping, which endangered his life ; however he held them both until he dismounted, and they got settled. If they had got away, there was little prospect of catching them again. Twenty-three miles to the Indian line, on the main branch of Homachitti, we encamped for the night, it being cloudy and rainy: we spread our tent, kept a good fire, hobbled the fore-legs of our horses together, leaving a long rope dragging from their necks: here was plenty of grass, and a cane brake.
20th. Thirty-five miles; encamped a little off the road, lest the Indians should steal our horses.
21st. We arrived this afternoon to Pearl (or halfway river: the ford last year was good a number of yards wide, but now not more than five or six feet, which we knew not; a man who knew the ford (being much among the Choctaws) attempted to cross first and succeeded, though his horse made a small mis-step, the next man's horse erred a little on the other side, but still I knew not the danger; I proceeded next, leading the packmare, but there not being sufficient ground for both horses, the water running like a mill tail, carried me down the stream two feet, whilst my mare could swim but one towards the shore; she struck the bank which gave way, however, she being an excellent swimmer and springy, made a second effort and got out. hobbles, and our tea, sugar and coffee, &c. got injured ; and I being much chilled by the wet, we went on till we came to a convenient tarrying place, and encamped for the night to dry our things, &c.N.B. The river
I lost my
was muddy: I could not swim: and had not the mate struck the bank where she did, I must have lost my life, as the trees and brush filled the shore below.
22nd. I met some people from Georgia; at night I was taken with a strong sever, but drank some water and coffee, and got a good night's rest.
Sunday 23d. Feel somewhat better; it snowed some, and the sun hath shone scarcely ten minutes dur. ing these five days.
24th. We rode about forty miles through Six-town of the Choctaws, and whilst we were passing it, I observed where they scaffold the dead; and also the spot where the flesh was, when the bone-picker had done his office. The friends of the deceased weep twice a-day for a term, and if they cannot cry enough themselves, they hire some to help them: it was weeping time, and their cries made our horses caper well. I was informed of an ancient custom which at present is out of date among them; When one was sick a council was held by the Doctors, if their judgment was that he would die, they being supposed infallible, humanity induced the neck-breaker to do his office: An European being sick, and finding out his verdict, to save his neck, crept into the woods, and recovered, which shewed to the Indians the fallibility of the Doctors, and the evil of the practice; therefore, to shew that the custom must be totally abolished, they took the poor neck-breaker and broke his neck.
25th. We came to Densmore's, agent for Indian affairs; our provisions were gone, and with difficulty we procured relief: some people, who were dancing in a neighbouring house, came in to hear me talk: I held a meeting with them, and then lay down to rest.
26th. After breakfast we came near the trading road, from the Chickasaws to Mobile, where we encamped near a spring and cane-brake : the leaves of the cane are food for cattle, &c.
27th. We started betimes and came to the first house on the Tombigby settlement, within four miles of fort St. Stephen, where there is but one family, but it will be a place of faine in time. We had met the man of the house where we staid, who told us to call; his wife made a heavy charge; we paid her, and S. M. said, “ tell your husband never any more to invite travellers to be welcome for his wife to extort.”. The river was high and swamp not fordable, which necessitated us to go down the river about seventy miles to the Cut-off; which is a channel from the Tombigby to the Alabama river, about seven miles from their junction, where ihey form the Mobile : the island contains about sixty thousand acres, which are commonly overflowed by the spring flood as Egypt is by the Nile. I held meetings during the six days of my tarrying in the settlement; and took my departure for Georgia, but was necessitated to keep on the dividing ridge, between the streams, to prevent being intercepted by creeks. There were ferries at the above rivers. In the settlement there was not a preacher of any society; my appointments were given out in Georgia, with the days and hours fixed: In consequence of the high waters we had to lose much travelling
Jan. 4th, 1805. We fell in with a camp of whites, where we were informed of some whites having been murdered by Indians, and one Indian killed by a white and another wounded: the wounded Indian was determined to kill some white in revenge. These whites had hired a chief to pilot them around to avoid the danger; but my time being limited obliged me to take the nighest cut, which was through the village where the wounded Indian lived. Here we parted from all the company, and set off by ourselves, having four hundred
miles to go.
8th. We fell in with an Indian trader, who was out of provisions : we gave him some, and tarried at his habitation that night; he made us some return next day, then we pursued our journey : this being in the Creek nation, we had some difficulty in finding our way, there being so many Indian by-paths ; however, we came to Hawkins's old place that night.
10th. Our charges were eleven shillings, though I think not worth the half. We left the place about an hour ky sun, having the prospect of a pleasant day before us; but we had not gone mapy miles before it gathered up and began to rain and sleet, which made it tremendous cold; so we stopped to let our horses feed, and pitching our tent, kindled up a fire to warm us ; but the weather appearing more favourable, we proceeded on through a bad swamp, meeting two travellers by the way: at length we perceived it began to grow dark, which convinced us that it was later than we thought : we halted, hobbled out our horses immediately, (finding some grass present on the hill) and proceeded to kindle up a fire, but every thing being so wet, and covered with sleet, and our limbs benumbed with cold, it was next to an impossibility to accomplish it. Things appeared gloomy; the shades of a dark night fast prevailing, death appeared before: in consequence of my being robbed I had no winter coat but only my thin summer one at this time; however, at length, we succeeded in getting prepared for the night: our tents spread, which kept off the falling weather, and a good fire at the door soon dri. ed the ground: we prepared our kettle of coffee, and partook with gratitude, and found we here could sing the praise of God, not without a sense of the Divine favour, considering our situation a little before, we lay down to rest as under the wing of the Almighty in this desart, inhabited only by wild beasts, whilst the wolves were howling on every side. Next day we passed the settlement where we considered the danger was, and continued our course till we came to Hawkins's, on Flint river; having seen an Indian point his gun at us by the way. We staid with Hawkins a night; he was kind and hospitable, and hath had some success, though with difficulty, in introducing civilization and cultivation amongst the Indians; first they despised labour, saying, we are warriors; and threatened him with death if he did not depart, (they being prejudiced, supposing him to be their enemy, as if to make slaves of them like the blacks) and cast all the contempt on him imaginable; but being afraid of Long-knife, (i. e Congress) refrained from violence: however they would not accept of tools or implements of agriculture, but would go directly opposite to his advice; e. g. He said scatter and raise stock; but they would live more compact: two years elapsed with less rain than usual, causing the crops to fail; some died with hunger; a chief asked, * have you power with the Great Mar above, to keep off the rain ?" H- replied, no, but the Great Man sees your folly and is angry with you. H--- wanted pork and corn; the Indians accustomed to sell by lump would not sell to him by weight or measure, apprehending witchcraft or cheatery : a girl bringing to him a hog to sell, asked one dollar and three quarters which they call seven chalks, he weighing the pig gave her fourteen, she supposed the additional seven were to buy her as a wife for the night, it being their custom to marry for a limited time, as a night, a moon, &c. Another girl bringing a larger hog, demanded fourteen chalks which came to twenty-eight, which the other girl observing, supposed herself cut out, began to murmur, and flung down the money ; but an old chief seeing the propriety of the weight, explained the matter; this gave rise to its introduction and reception among them. An old squaw receiving by measurement more than her demand for corn, laughed at the Indians who had refused to sell in this manner: thus measures were introduced.
I met some travellers, who shewed me a paper containing the advertisement of my appointments published by brother Mead, beginning six days sooner than I appointed.
Thursday, 17th. We reached the settlement of Georgia, near Fort Wilkinson, and falling in with Esquire Cook whom I knew, we went home with him: and had a meeting : he lent me a horse, and I went on to camp meeting, and got there the very day I had fixed some time before.
We had a good time; Brigadier General John Stewart and his brother, the Captain, in Virginia, had agreed to join society, which the latter had done, and as brother Mead had taken him and their wives into class, the General, to the surprise of the people, came forward in public, and requested to be taken under care also; mamy had heard of my marriage but did not credit it, until they had it from my own mouth, the particulars of which, to prevent fruitless and needless conversation, I related in public;
“I wonder what he wants with a consort;" I replied as above, to enable me to be more useful on an extensive scale,