BARTRAM AMONG THE CREEKS
From Bartram's Travels, Part III, Chapter VIII
Excerpted from Bartram's Travels, the journal of William Bartram, late 18th century botanist, of Philadelphia, who traveled the Carolinas, Georgia, East and West Florida, collecting botanic specimens and recording his adventures
November 27th, 1777, sat off from Mobile, in a large boat with the principal trader of the company, and at evening arrived at Taens, where were the pack-horsemen with the merchandise, and next moring, as soon as we had our horses in readiness, I took my last leave of Major Farmar, and left Taens. Our caravan consisted of between twenty and thirty horses sixteen of which were loaded, two packhorsemen, and myself, under the direction of Mr. Tap----y, the chief trader. One of our young men was a Mustee Creek, his mother being a Chactaw slave, and his father a half breed, betwixt a Creek and a white man. I loaded one horse with my effects, some presents to the Indians, to enable me to purchase a fresh horse, in case of necessity; for my old trusty slave, which had served me faithfully almost three years, having carried me on his back at least six thousand miles, was by this time worn out, and I expected every hour he would give up, especially after I found the manner of these traders' travelling. They seldom decamp until the sun is high and hot; each one having a whip made of the toughest cow-skin, they start all at once, the horses having arranged themselves in regular Indian file, the veteran in the nan, and the younger in the rear; the the chief drives with the crack of his whip, and a whoop or shriek, which rings through the forests and plains, speaks in Indian, commanding them to proceed, which is repeated by all the company, when we start at once, keeping up a brisk and constant trot, which is incessantly urged and continued as long as the miserable creatures are able to move forward, and then come to camp, though frequently in the middle of the afternoon, which is the pleasantest time of the day for travelling; and every horse has a bell on, which being stopped when we start in the morning with a twist of grass or leaves, soon shakes out, and they are never stopped again during the day. The constant ringing and clattering of bells, smacking of the whips, whooping and too frequent cursing these miserable quadrupeds, cause an incessant uproar, and confusion, inexpressibly disagreeable.
After three days, travelling in this manner, my old servant was on the point of giving out, and several of the company's horses were tired, but were relieved of their burthens by the led horses which attended for that purpose. I was now driven to a disagreeable extremities, and had no other alternative, but either to leave my home in the woods, pay a very extravagant hire for a doubtful passage to the Nation, or separate myself from my companions, and with the recovery of my horse alone: the chief gave me no other comfortable advice in this delimma, than that there was a company of traders on the road a-head of us from the Nation, to Mobile, who had a large gang of led horses with them for sale, when they should arrive; and expected, from the advice which he had received at Mobile before we set off from thence, that this company must be very near to us, and probably would be up to-morrow, or at least in two or three days: and this man condescended so far as to moderate a little his mode of travelling, that I might have a chance of keeping up with them until the evening the next day; besides I had the comfort of observing that the traders and pack-horsemen carried themselves towards me with evident signs of humanity and friendship, often expressing sentiments of sympathy, and saying I must not be left alone to perish in the Wilderness.
Although my apprehensions on this occasion were somewhat tumultuous, since there was little hope, on the principal of reason, should I be left alonem of escaping cruel captivity, and perhaps being murdered by the Chactaws (for the company of traders was my only security, as the Indians never attack the traders on the road, though they may be trading with nations at enmity with them) yet I had secret hopes of relief and delieverance, that cheered me, and inspired confidence and peace of mind.
Now I am come within the atmosphere of the Illicium groves, how reanimating is the fragrance! every part of this plant above ground possesses an aromatic scent, but the large stillated pericarpe is the most fragrant part of it, which continually perspires an oleagenous sweat, as warm and vivific as cloves or mace. I never saw it grow naturally further North than Lat. 33 [degrees], on the Mobile river and its branches, and but one place in East Florida near Lake George, Lat. 28 [degrees].
About the middle of the afternoon, we were joyfully surprised at the distant prospect of the trading company coming up, and we soon met, saluting each other several times with a general Indian whoop, or shout of friendship; then each company came to camp within a few paces of each other; and before night, I struck up a bargain with them for a handsome strong young horse, which cost me about ten pounds sterling. I now constrained to leave my old slave behind, to feed in rich cane pastures, where he was to remain and recruit until the return to his new master to Mobile; from which I exhorted a promise to use him gently, and if possible not to make a pack-horse out of him.
Next morning we decamped, proceeding again on my travels, now alert and cheerful. Crossed a brisk rivulet rippling over a gravelly bed, and winding threough aromatic groves of the Illicuim Floridianum, then gently descended to the high forests, leaving Deadman's creek, for at this creek a white man was found dead, supposed to have been murdered, from which circumstances it has its name.
A few days before we arrived in the Nation, we met a company of emigrants from Georgia; a man, his wife, a young woman, several young children, and three stout young men, with about a dozen horses loaded with their property. Thye informed us their design was to settle on the Alabama, a few miles above the confluence of the Tombigbe.
Being now near the Nation, the chief trader with another of our company sat off a-head for his town, to give notice to the Nation, as he said, of his approach with the merchandize, each of them taking the best horse they could pick out of the gang leaving the goods to the conduct and care of the young Mustee and myself. Early in the evening we came to the banks of a large deep creek, a considerabl e branch of the Alabama: the waters ran furiously, being overcharged with the floods of rain which had fallen the day before. We discovered immediately that there was no possiblity of crossing it by fording; its depth and rapidity would have swept our horses, loads and all, instantly from our sight: my companion, after consideration, said we must make a raft to ferry over our goods, which we immediately set about, after unloading our horses and turning them to range. I undertook to collect dry canes, and my companion, dry timber or logs and vines to bind them together: having gathered the necessary materials, and laid them in order on the brinks of the river, ready to work upon, we betook ourselves to repose, and early next morning sat about building our raft. This was a novel scene to me, and I could not, until finished and put to practice, well comprehend how it could possibly answer the effect desired. In the first place we laid, paralle top each other, dry, sound trunk of trees, about nine feet in length, and eight or nine inched diameter; which binding fast together with grape vines and withs, until we had formed this first floor, about twelve or fourteen feet in length, we then bound the dry canes in bundles, each near as thick as a mans body, with which we formed the upper stratum, laying them close by the side of each other, and binding them fast: after this manner our raft was constructed. Then having two strong grape vines, each long enough to cross the river, we fastened one to each end of the raft, which now being completed, and loading as much as it would safely carry, the Indian took the end of one of the vines in his mouth, plunged into the river and swam over with it, and the vine fixed to the other end was committed to my charge, to steady the raft and haul it back again after being unloaded. As soon as he had safe landed and hauled taught his vine, I pushed off the raft, which he drew over as quick as possible, I steadying it with my vine: in this manner, though with inexpressible danger of losing our effects, we ferried all safe over. The last load, with other articles, containing my property, with all my clothes which I stripped off, except my breeches, for they contained matters of more value and consequence than all the rest of my property put together; besides I did not choose to expose myself entirely naked to the alligators and serpents in crossing the flood. Now seeing all the goods safe over, and the horses at a landing place onthe banks about fifty yards above, I drove them all in together, when, seeing them safe landed, I plunged in after them, and being a tolerable swimmer, soon reached the opposite shore. But our horses all landed just below the mouth of a considerabel branch of this river, of fifteen or twenty feet width, and its perpendicular banks almost as many feet in height above its swift waters, over which we were obliged to carry every article of our effects, and this by no other bridge than a sapling felled across it, which is called a raccoon bridge; and over this my Indian friend would trip as quick and light as that quadruped, with one hundred eight of leather on his back, when I was scarcely able to shuffle myself along over it astride. Atlast having re-packed and sta off again, without the material occurrence intervening, in the evening we arrived at the bansk of the great Tallapoose river, and came to camp under shelter of some Indian cabins, in expansive fields, close to the river bank, opposite the town of Sannuca. Late in the evening a young white man, in great haste and seeming confusion, joined our camp, who immediately related, that being on his jouney from Pensacola, it happened that the very night after we had passed the company of emigrants, he met them and joined their camp, in the evening; when, jsut after dark, the Chactaws surrounded them, plundered their camp, and carried the people off captive, except himself, he having the good fortune to escape with his horse, though closely pursued.
Next morning very early, though very cold, and the surface of the earth as hoary as if covered with a fall of snow, the trader standing on the opposite shore entirely naked, except a breechcloth, and encircled by a company of red men in the like habit, hailed us, and presently, with canoes, brought us all over with the merchandize, and conducted us safe to the town of Mucclasse, a mile or two distant.
The next day was a day of rest and audience: the following was devoted to feasting, and the evening concluded in celebrating the nuptials of the young Mustee with a Creek girl of Mucclasse, daughter of the chief and sister to our trader's wife. The trader's house and stores formed a complete square, after the mode of the habituations of the Muscogulges, that is, four oblong buildings of equal dimensions, two opposite to each other, encompassing an area a quarter of an acre; on one side of this a fence enclosed a yard of near an acre of ground, at one of the father corners of which a booth or pavilion was formed of green boughs, having two Laurel trees planted in front (Magolia grandiflora). This was the secret nuptial chamber. Dancing, music and feasting continued the forepart of the night, and towards morning the happy couple privately withdrew, and continued alone all the next day, no one presuming to approach the sacred, mysterious thalame.
The trader obliged me with his company on a visit to the Alabama, an Indian town at the confluence of the two fine rivers, the Talloose and Coosau, which here resign their names to the great Alabama, where are to be seen traces of the ancient French fortress, Thouslouse; here are yet lying, half buried in the earth a few pieces of ordnance, four and six pounders. I observed, in a very thriving condition, two or thee very large apple trees, planted here by the French. This is, perhaps, one of the most eligible situations for a city in the world; a level plain between the conflux of two majestic rivers, which are exactly of equal magnitude in appearance, each navigable for vessels and perriaguas at least five hundred miles above it, and spreading their numerous branches over the most fertile and delightful regions, many hundred miles before we reach their sources in the Apalaceon mountains.
Stayed all night at Alabama, where we had a grand entertainment at th publicsquare, with music and dancing, and returned next day to Mucclasse; where being informed of a company of traders about setting off from Tuckabatche for Augusta, I made a visit to that town to know the truth of it, but on my arrival there they were gone; but being informed of another caravan who were to start from Ottasse town in two or three weeks time, I returnes to Muccalsse in order to prepare for my departure.
On my arrival I was not a little surprised at a tragical revolution in the family of my friend and trader, his store shut up, and guarded by a party of Indians: a few minutes however, the whole affair was related to me. It appeared that this son of Adonis, had been detected in an amorous intrigue, with the wife of a young chief, the day aftre his arrival: the chief was ona hunt, but arrived the next day; and upon information o the affiar, the fact confirmed, he with his friends and kindred resolved to exact legal satisfaction, which in this case is cutting off both ears of the delinquent, close to the head, which is called cropping. This being determined upon, he took the most secret and effectual methods to effect his purpose. About a dozen young Indian fellows conducted by their chief (the injured husband), having provided and armed themselves with knotty cudgels of green Hiccory, which they concealed under their mantles, in the dusk of the evening paid a pretended friendly visit to the trader at his own house, when the chief feigning a private matter of business, took him aside in the yard; then whistling through his fingers (the signal preconcerted) he was instantly surrounded, knocked down, and then stripped to his skin, and beaten with their knotty bludgeons; however he had the subyilty to feign himself speechless before they really killed him, which he supposed was their untention: when he had now lain for dead, the executioner drew out his knife withan intention of taking off his ears; this small respite gave him time to reflect a little; when he instantly sprang up, ran off, leaped the fence, and had the good fortune to get to a dark swamp, overgrown with vines and tickets, where he miraculously eluded the earnest researches of his enemies, and finally made a safe retreat to the house of his father-in-law, the chief of the town, throwing himself under the protection, who gave his word that he would do him all the favour that lay in his power. This account I had from his own mouth, for hearing of my return, the next morning after my arrival, he sent a trusty messenger, by whom I found means of access to him. He farther informed me, that there had been a council of the chiefs of the town convened, to deliberate on the affair, and their final determination was that he must lose his ears, unless Mr. Golphin interposed in his behalf; and after all, the injured Indian declares that he will have his life. He entreated me with tears to make what speed I could to Silver Bluff, to represent his dangerous situation to Mr. Golphin, and solicit that gentleman's most speedy and effectual intereference; which I assured him I would undertake.
Now having all things prepared for my departure, early in the morning, after taking leave of my distressed friend the trader of Mucclasse, I sat off, passed through continues plantations and Indian towns on my way up the Tallapoose river, being every where treated by the inhabitants, with marks of friendship, even as though I had been their countryman and relation. Called by the way of the beautiful town of Coolome, where I tarried some time with Mr. Germany the chief trader of the town, an elderly gentleman, but active, cheerful and very agreeable, who received me with the utmost civility and friendship: his wife is a Creek woman, of a very amiable and worthy character and disposition, industrious, prudent and affectionate; and by her he had several children, whom he is desirous to send to Savanna or Charleston, for their education, but cannot prevail on his wife to consent to it; this affair affects him very sensibly, for he has accumulated a pretty fortune by his industry and commendable conduct.
Leaving Cooloome, I re-crossed the river at Tuccabache, an ancient and large town; thence continues up the river, and at evening arrived at Attasse, where I continued near a week, waiting the prepartions of the traders, with whom I was to join in company to Augusta.
The next day after my arrival, I was introduced to the ancient chiefs, at the public square or areopagus; and in the evening, in company with the traders, who are numerous in this town, repaired to the great rotunda, where were assembled the greatest number of ancient venerable chiefs and warriors that I have ever beheld: we spent the evening and great part of the night together, in drinking Cassine and smoking Tobacco. The great council house or rotunda, is appropriated to much the same purpose as the public square, but more private, and seems particularly dedicated to political affairs; women and youth are never admitted; and I suppose, it is death for a female to presume to enter the door, or approach within its pale. It is a vast conical building, or cicular dome, capable of accomodating many hundred people; contructed and furnished within, exactly in the same manner as those of the Cherokees already described, but much larger than any I had seen of them: there are people appointed to care of it, to have it daily swept clean, and to provide canes for fuel, or to give light.
As their vigils and manner of conducting their vespers and mystical fire in this rotunda, are extremely singular, and altogether different from the customs and usages of any other people, I shall proceed to desribe them. In the first place, the governor or officer who has the mangement of this business, with his servants attending, orders the black drink to be brewed, which is a dedoction or infusion of the leaves and tender shoots of the Cassine: this is done under an open shed or pavilion, at twenty or thirty yards distance, directly opposite the door of the council-house. Next he orders bundles of dry canes to be brought in: these are previously split and broken in pieces to about the length of two feet, and then placed obliquely crossways upon one another on the floor, forming a spiral circle round about the great centre pillar, rising to a foot or eighteen inches in height from the ground; and this circle spreading as it proceeds round and round, often repeated from right to left, every evolution encreases its diameter, and at length extends to the distance of ten or twelve feet from the centr, more or less, according to the length of time the assembly or meeting is to continue. by the time these prepartions are accomplished, it is night, and the assembly have taken their seats in order. The exterior extremity or outer end of the spiral circle takes fire and immediately rises into a bright flame (but how this is effected I did not plainly apprehend: I saw no person set fire to it: there might have been fire left on the earth, however, I neither saw nor smelt fire or smoke until the blaze instantly ascended upwards), which gradually and slowly creeps round the centre pillar, with the course of the sun, feeding on the dry canes, and affords a cheerful, gentle and sufficient light until the circle is consumed, when the council breaks up. Soon after this illumination takes place, the aged chiefs and warriors are seated on their cabins or sophas, on the side of the house opposite the door, in three classes or ranks, rising a little, one above or behind the other; and the white people and red people of confederate towns in the like order on the left hand; a tranverse range of pillars, supporting a thin clay wall about breast high, separating them: the king's cabin or seat is in front; the next to the back of it the head warrior's; and the third or last accomodates the yound warriors &c. The great war chief's seat or place is on the same cabin with, and immediately to the left of the king, and next to the white people; and to the right hand of the mico or king the most venerable head-men and warriors are seated. The assembly being now seated in order, and the house illuminated, two middle aged men, who perform the office of slaves or servants, pro tempore, come in together at the door, each having very large conch shells full of black drink, and advance with slow uniform and steady steps, their eyes or countenances lifted up, singing very low but sweetly; they come within six or eight paces of the king's and white people's cabins, when they stop together, and each rests his shell on a tripod or little table, but presently takes it up again, and bowing very low, advances obsequiously, crossing or intersecting each other about midway: he who rested his shell before the whote people now stands before the king, and the other stopped before the king stands before the white people: when each presents his shell, one to the king and the other to the chief of the white people, and as soon as he raises it to his mouth, the slave utters or sings two notes, each of which continues as long as he has breath: and as long as the note continues, son long must the person drink, or at least keep the shell to his mouth. These two long notes re very solemn, and at once strike the imagination with a religious awe or homage to the Supreme, sounding somewhat like a-hoo---o-jah and a-lu-yah. After this manner the whole assmebly are treated, as long as the drink and light continue to hold out; and as soon as the drinking begins, tobacco and pipes are brought. The skin of a wild cat or young tyger stuffed with tobacco is brought, and laid at the king's feet, with the great or royal pipe beautifully adorned: the skin is usually of the animals of the king's family or tribe, as the wild-cat, otter, bear, rattle-snake, &c. A skin of tobacco is likewise brought and cast at the feet of the white chief of the town, and from him it passes from one to another tp fill their pipes from, though each person has besided his own peculiar skin of tobacco. The king or chief smokes first in the great pipe a few whiffs, blowing it off ceremoniously, first towards the sun, or as it is generally supposed to be the Great Spirit, for it is puffed upwards, next towards the four cardinal points, then towards the white people in the house; then the great pipe is taken from the hand of the mico by a slave, and presented to the chief white man, and then to the great war chief, whence it circulates through the rank of head men and warriors then returns to the king. After this each one fills his pipe from his own or his neighbor's skin.
The great or public square generally stands alone, in the centre and highest part of the town: it consists of four-square or cubical buildings, or houses of one story, uniform, and of the same dimensions, so siuated as to form an exact tetragon, encompassing an area of half an acre of ground, more or less, according to the strength or largeness of the town, or will of the inhabitants: there is a passage or avenue at each corner of equal width: each building is constructed of a wooden frame foxed strongly in the earath, the walls filled in and neatly plastered with clay mortar; close on three sides, that is the back and two ends, execpt within about two feet of the wall plate or eves, which is left open for the purpose of a window and to admit a free passage of the air; the front or side next to the area is quite open like a piazza. One of these buildings is properly the council house, where the mico, chiefs, and warriors, with the citizens who have business, or choose to repair thither, assemble every day in council, to hear, decide and recify all grievances, complaints and contentions, arising betwixt the citizens; give audience to ambassadors, and strangers; hear news and talks from confederate towns and allies or distant nations; consult about the particular affairs of the town, as erecting habituations for the new citizens, or establishing young families, concerning agriculture, &c. This building is somewhat differnt from the other three: it is closely shut up on three sides, that is the back and two ends, and besides, a partition wall longitudinally from end to end divides it into two apartments, the back part totally dark, only three small arched apertures or holes opening into it from the front apartment or piazza, and little larger than just to admit a man to crawl in upon his hands and knees. Thois secluded place appears to me to be designed as a santuary* dedicated to religious or rather priest craft; for here are deposited all the sacred things, as the physic pot, rattles, chaplets of deer's hoofs and other apparatus of conjuration; and likewise the calumet or great pipe of peace, the imperial standard, or eagle's tail, which is made of the feathers of the white eagle's tail [vultura facra] curiously formed and displayed liek an open fan on a sceptre or staff, as white and clean as possible when displayed for peace, but when for war, the feathers are painted or tinged with vermillion. The piazza or front of this building, is equally divided into three apartments, by two tranverse walls or partitions, about breast high, each having three orders or ranges of seats or cabins stepping one above and behind the other, which accomodate the senate and audience, in the like order as observes in the rotunda. The other three buildings which cmpose the square are alike furnished with three ranges of cabins or sophas and serve for a banqueting-house, to shelter and accumulate the audience and spectators at all times, particularly at feasts or public entertainments, where all classes of citizens resort day and night in the summer and moderate season; the children and females however are seldom seen in the public square.
* Sanctuarium or sacred temple; and it is said to be death for any person but the mico and high priest to enter in, amd none are admitted but by permission of the priests, who guard day and night.
The pillars and walls of the houses of the square are decorated with various paintings and sculptures; which I suppose to be heiroglyphic, and as an historic legendary of political and sacerdotal affairs: but they are extremely picturesque or caricature, as men in variety of attitudes, some ludicrous enough, others having the head of some kind of animal, as those of a duck, turkey, bear, fox, wolf, buck, &c. and again those kind of creatures are represented having the human head. These designs are not ill executed: the outlines bold, free, and well proprtioned. the pillars supprting the front, or piazza of the council-house of the square, are ingeniously formed in the likeness of vast, speckled serpents ascending upwards' the Ottasses being of the snake family or tribe. At the same time the town was fasting, taking medicine, and I think I may say praying, to avert a grievous calamity of sickness, which had lately afficted them, and laid in the grave abundance of their citizens. They fast seven or eight days, during which time they eat or drink nothing but a meagre gruel, made a little corn-flour and water; taking at the same time by the way of medicen or physic, a strong dedcotion of the roots of the Iris versicolor, which is a powerful cathartic: they hold this root in high estimation, every town cultivates a little plantation of it, having a large artificial pond, just without the town, planted and almost overgrown with it, where they ususally dig clay for pottery, and mortar and plaster for their buildings, and I observed where they had lately been digging up this root.
In the midst of a large oblong square adjoining this town, (which was surrounded with a low bank or terrace) is standing a high pillar, round like a pin or needle; it is about forty feet in height, and between two and three feet in diameter at the earth, gradually tapering upwards to a point; it is one piece of pine wood, and arises from the centre of a low, circular artificial hill, but it leans a little to one side. I inquired of the Indians and traders what it was designed for, who answered they knew not: the Indians said that their ancestors found it in the same situation, when they first arrived and possessed the country, adding, that the red men or Indians, then the possessors, whom they vanquished, were ignorant as themselves concerning it, saying that their ancestors likewise found it standing so. This monument, simple as it is, may be worthy the observations of a traveller, since it naturally excites at least the following queries: for what purpose was it designed? Its great antiquity and incorruptibility -- what method or machines they employed to bring it to the spot, and how they raised it erect? There is no tree or species of the pine, whose wood, i.e. so large a portion of the trunk is supposed to be incorruptible, exposed to the open air to all weathers, but the long-leaved Pine (Pin. palustris), and there is none growing within twelve or fifteen miles of this place, that tree being naturally produced only on the high, dry, barren ridges, where there is a sandy soil and grassy wet suvannas. A great number of men uniting their strength, probably carried it to the place on handspikes, or some such contrivance.
On the Sabbeth day before I set off from this place, I could not help observing the solemnity of the town, the silence and the retiredness of the red inhabitants; but a very few of them were to be seen, the doors of their dwellings shut, and if a child chanced to stray out, it was quickly drawn in doors again. I asked the meaning of this, and was immediately answered, that it being the white people's beloved day or Sabbath, the Indians kept it religiously sacred to the Great Spirit.
Last night was clear and cold, wind North West, and this morning, January 2nd, 1778, the face of the earth was perfectly white with a beautiful sparkling frost. Sat off for Augusta with a compay of traders, four men with about thirty horses, twenty of which were loaded with leather and furs, each pack or load supposed to weigh one hundred and fifty pounds upon the average. In three days we arrived at the Apalachua or Chata Uche river; crossed at the point towns Chehaw and Useta: these towns almost join each other, yet speak two languages, as radically different perhaps as the Muscogulge's and Chinese. After leaving the river we met with nothing material, or worth particular observation, until our arrival at Oakmulge, towards evening, where we encamped in expansive ancient Indian fields, inview of the foaming flood of the river, now raging over its banks. Here were two companies of traders from Augusta, bound to the Nation, consisting of fifteen or twenty men, with seventy or eight horses, most of which had their loads of merchandize: they crossed the river this morning and lost six horses in the attempt: they were drowned, being entangled in the vines under water at landing. But the river now falling again, we were in hopes that by next morning the waters would be again confined within the banks. We immediately sat about rigging our portable leather boat, about eight feet long, which was of thick soal leather, folded up and carried on top of a pack of deer skins. The people soon got her rigged, which was effected after the following manner. We, in the first place, cut down a White-Oak sapling, and by notching this at each end, bent it up, which formed the keep, stem and stern post of one piece; this was placed in the bottom of the boat, and pretty strong hoop-poles being fixed in the bottom across the keel, turning up their ends, expanded the hull of the boat, which being fastened by thongs to two other poles bent round the outside of the rim formed the gunwhales: thus in an hour's time out bark was rigged, to which afterwards we added two little oards or sculls. Our boat being now in readiness, and our horses turned out to pasture, each one retired to repose, or to such exercise as most effectually contributed to divert the mind. I was at this time rather dejected, and sough comfort in retirement, turning my course to the expansive fields, fragrant groves, and sublime forests. Returned to camp by dusk, where I found my companions cheerful and thoughtless rather to the extreme. It was a calm still evening and warm; the wood-cock (scolopax) chirruping high up in the air, gently descends by a spiral circular tract, and alights on the humid plain: this bird appears in Pennsylvania early in the spring, when the Elm and Maple begin to flower: and here the scarlet Maple, Elm, and Elder began to show their flowers; the yellow Jasmine was just ready to open its fragrant golden blossoms, and the gay Azalea also preparing to expand its beauties.
The morning cool and pleasant: after reconnoitering the shores of the rivers, and consulting with our brethren in distress, who had not yet decamped, resolving to stay and lend their assistance in passing over this rapid gulph, we were encouraged to proceed: and launching our bark into the raging flood, after many successful trips ferried over all the goods, the drove in our horses altogether, and had the pleasure of seeing them all safely landed on the opposite shore; and lastly I embarked with three of our people, and several packs of leather; we then put off from shore, bidding adieu to our generous friends left behind, who re-echoed our shouts upon our safe landing. We proceeded again, crossed the Oconee in the same manner, and with the like success, and came to camp in the fertile fields, on the banks of that beautiful river; and proceeding thence next day, in the evening came to camp on the waters of the great Ogeche. The following day, after crossing several branches, came to camp: and next day crossed the main branch of that famous river, which being wide and very rapid proved difficult and dangerous fording; yet we crossed without any loss, but some of our pack-horses were badly brusied, being swept off their feet and dashed against the rocks, my horse too being carried away with the current, and plunging off sunken shelving rocks into deep holes, I got vert wet, but kept my seat and landed safe: however I suffered much, it being a cold freezing day. We came to camp early and raising great fires with Pine knots and other wood, and after two days more hard traveling we arrived in Augusta.
Being under a necessity of making two or three days stay here, in order to refit myself, for by this time my stock of cloaths was entirely worn out, I took this opportunity of visiting my friend doctor Wells, at his plantation near the city. And now being again new clothed, and furnished with a tolerable Indian poney, I took leave of my host and prepared to depart for Savanna.
Soon after I left Augusta, proceeding for Savanna, the capital, a gentleman overtook me on the road who was a native of Ireland, and had lately arrived in this part of America with a view of settling a plantation in Georgia, particularly for the culture of those very useful fruits and vegetables that are cultivated up the Merditerranean, and which so largely contribute towards
supporting that lucrative branch of commerce, the Levant trade; viz. Vitis vinifera, for wine, Vita Corinthlaca, for Currants, Vita Allobrogia, for Raisins, Olives, Figsm Morus, for feeding silkworms Amygladus comminis, Pistachia, Caaperis, Citrus surantium, Citrus limon, Citrus verrucosa, the great sweet scented Citron, &c. He was very ingenious, desirous of information, and as liberal and free of communicating his own acquisitions and discoveries in useful science, and consequently a very agreeable companion. On our journey down, we stopped a while to rest and refresh ourselves at the Great Springs, near the road, on our left hand, about midway between Augusta and Savanna. This amazing fountain of transparent cool water, breaks suddenly out of the earth, at the basis of a moderately elevated hill or bank, forming at once a bason near twenty yards over, ascending through a horizontal bed of soft rocks, of a heterogeneous composition, chiefly a testaceoud concretion of broken, entire and pulverized sea-shells, sand, &c. constituting a course kind of lime-stone. The ebullition is copious, active and continual over the ragged apertures in the rocks, which lie seven or eight feet below, swelling the surface considerably immediately above it. The waters descend swiftly from the fountain, forming at once a large brook, six or eight yards over, and five or six feet deep. There are multitudes of fish in the fountain, of various tribes, chiefly the several species of bream, trout, cat-fish, and garr: it was amazing to behold the fish continually ascending and descending through the rocky apertures. Observed that we crossed no stream or brook of water within twelve or fifteen miles of this fountain, but had in view vast savannas, swamps and Cane meadows, at no great distance from our road, on our right hand which we may presume were the resources or reservoirs which contributed to the supplies of this delightful grotto. Here were growing on the ascents from the fountain, Magnolia grandiflora, Laurus Borbonia, Quercus sempervirensm Callicarpa, at a little distance, a grove of the Cassine: and in the old field, just by, are to be seen some small Indian mounts. We travelled several miles over ridges of low swelling hills, whose surfaces were covered with particoloured pebbles, streaked and clouded with red, white, brown, and yellow: they were mostly broken or shivered to pieces, I believe by the ancients in forming arrow-heads, darts, knives, &c. for I observed frequently some of those misshapen implements amongst them, some broken and other spoiled in the making. These stones seemed to be a species of jasper or agate.
On my way down I called at Silver Bluff, and waited on the honourable G. Golphin, Esq., to acknowledge my obligations to him, and likewise to fulfil my engagements on the part of Mr. T---y, trader of Mucclasse. Mr. Golphin assured me that he was ina disagreeable predicament, and that he feared the worst, but said he would do all in his power to save him.
After five days pleasant travelling we arrived at Savanna in good health.
List of towns and tribes in league,
and which constitute the powerful confederacy
or empire of the Creeks or Muscogulges.
These [above] speak the Muscogulge or Creek tongue, called the Mothertongue.
Mucclasse --- speak the Sacred Tongue
Savnnuca --- speak the Uche tongue
Whittumke --- speak the Uche tongue
Coosauda --- speak the Stincard tongue
Towns on the Coosau river, viz.
Abacooche --- speak a dialect of Chicasaw
Pocontallahassee --speak the Muscogulge tongue
Hiccory ground, (traders' name) --speak the Muscogulge tongue
Natche --speak the Muscog. and Chicasaw
Towns on the branches of the Coosau river, viz.
Fish pond, traders' name
These [4 above] speak the Muscogulge tongue
Towns on the Apalachucha or Chata Uche river, viz.
These [above] speak the Muscogulge tongue
Uche --- speak the Savannuca Tongue
Hooseche --- speak the Muscog. tongue
These [5 above] speak the Stincard.
Towns on Flint River, comprehending the Siminoles or Lower
Cuscowilla or AllachuaTalahasochte
--- Great Island (traders' name)
--- Great hammock (traders' name)
--- Capon (traders' name)
--- St. Mark's (traders' name)
--- Forks (traders' name)
With many others of less note.
The Siminoles speak both the Muscogulge and Stincard tongues.
In all fifty-five towns, beside many villages nor enumerated; and reckoning two hindred inhabitants to each town on an average, which is a moderate computation, would give eleven thousand inhabitants.
It appears to me pretty clearly, from divers circumstances, taht this powerful empure or confederacy of the Creeks or Muscogulges, arose from, and established itself upon, the ruins of that of the natchez, agreeably to monsieur Duprat. According to the Muscogulges account of themselves, they arrived from the South-West, beyond the Mississppi, some time before the English settled the colony of Carolina, and built Charleston; and their story concerntheir country and people, from whence they sprang, the cause of leaving their native land, the progress of their migration, &c. is very similar to that celebrated historian's account of the Natchez. They might have been included as allies and confederates in that vast and powerful empire of red men. The Muscogulges gradually pushing and extending their settlements on their North-East border, until the dissolution of the Natchez empire; being then the most numerous, warlike and powerful tribe, they began to subjugate the various tribes or bands which formerly constituted the Natches, and uniting them with themselves, formed a new confederacy under the name of the Muscogulges.
The Muscogulge tongue is now the national or sovereign language: those of the Chicasaws, Chactaws and even the remains of the Natchez, if we are to credit the Creeks and traders, being dialects of the Muscogulge; and probably, when the Natchez were sovereigns, they called their own the national tongue, and the Creeks, Chicaswas, &c. only dialects of theirs. It is uncertain which is really the mother tongue.
As for those numerous bands or tribes, included at this day within the Muscogulge confederacy, who generally speak the Stincard language, (which is radically different from the Muscogulge) they are, beyond a doubt, the shuttered remains of the various nations who inhabited the lower or maritime parts of Carolina and Florida, from Cape Fear, West to the Misssissippi. The language of the Uches and Savannucas is a third radically different from the Muscogulge and Stincard, and seems to be a more Northern tongue: I suppose a language that prevailed amongst the numerous tribes who formerly possessed and inhabited the maritime parts of Maryland and Virginia. I was told by an old trader that the Savannucas and Shawnese speak the same language, or very near alike.
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