Part III (Final)
of Samuel Hastings Stackhouse, 1811
Tuesday, 12 Nov. Rise before daylight.
Get off before sunrise. Go 13 miles to breakfast at a Mr. Butler's.
Cross the rolling fork of Salt River & proceed half a mile beyond it
where we halt for the night, distant 35 miles from Danville. This
day's ride through a very pleasant & finely improved country, the cribs
loaded with corn, the barnyards filled with stacks of grain & hemp.
Their granaries no doubt all full. We stop at a house which we find
is not an inn, but what is called private entertainment. We find
it at any rate pretty coarse. We are crowded into a room with 8 or
9 persons of various descriptions who occupy nearly the whole of a large
fireplace. Our baggage is thrown helter skelter upon the floor, we
ourselves placed as a kind of rear guard to look occasionally at the fire.
As to sleeping we are perhaps doomed to be huddled all together.
I hope to avoid the fat side of an old Dutch heroine who is at this time
engaged in smoking her pipe & occasionally talking about Indian Wars.
Our horses are divided into two apartments an acre distant from each other,
not very comfortable to be sure, yet they are as well off as their masters.
As supper is coming, I will cease writing. It may possibly change
the aspect of present views. For supper we have pork ribs and sour-crout.
We, however, get to bed & sleep comfortably.
Wednesday, 13 Nov. Start early.
Go over Molder's hill, almost deserves the rank of mountain. Pass
on through a well settled country 15 miles to breakfast at Mr. Compton's.
Proceed on 6 miles & cross Green River. Six miles further cross
little barren river. Here commences the Barrens of Kentucky with
a growth of scrubby oak, good road, the country tolerably level.
Arrive at Mr. Maxey's Bear Wallow Grove after dark, making our distance
this day 40 miles. Get into good quarters. In the morning visit
a remarkable roost where there are some millions of those birds.
They have nearby entertainment & accommodation generally was superior
in Ohio than Kentucky. Slavery may add to ease & indolence but
it certainly does not add to real comfort or national improvement.
I am informed that considerable attention is now paid to the education
of youth in the State of Kentucky. It formerly was much neglected.
I have seen but little evidence of much religion in this state. It
possibly may be my own fault. I had heard much & consequently
my expectations were raised. The Babtist denomination is the most
numerous & popular. They are generally on the popular side of
politicks & their preachers enter the lists very actively at elections.
At none of their meeting houses that I have seen do they assemble every
Sabbath. We should perhaps make a proper allowance here for the small
number of preachers which are probably not sufficient for the calls of
the numerous societies but with a proper zeal among the Brothers this could
certainly be remedied. The Presbyterians are likewise numerous &
seem to have got entirely over the [jerks?]. There are also many
new light societies who have principally seceded from the Presbyterians.
I have seen a publication & defense of their principles by one of their
pastors. They contend on Scripture-- grounds for Scripture doctrines
& usages -- taking the work of God for their guide & declaring
off from the precedents of men, church covenants, articles, etc.
They say the Church of Christ knows no particular denomination of Christians
& they recognize all as such who are born of the spirit, and they would
have none of those distinctions of names which create envies, jealousies
& strife, but on the contrary their fellowship is with the Father &
the Son & all the elect of God in Christ Jesus. I think when
the Lord in his great mercy visited my soul with his gracious influence
I had a smilar feeling & some of my dear friends who have experienced
the love of God have expressed to me their desire for the great & universal
union amongst Christians. And at this time it has produced reflections
as to the operation of the blessed spirit on the minds of the new born
children of light in implanting in their souls those desires & views
which shall unite all who love the Lord in one golden chain of Christian
fellowship. This would seem to be the era & would to him who
has all power & dominion within himself that we may see its glorious
To resume my journey. We enter
the State of Tennessee. Stop at Rio River [Red River?] 4 miles from
the partition line at Chuk's, one of those ferocious animals who is said
to murder travellers & throw them into a bottomless cave which he has
near his house. His neighbors relate many stories of him. One
is that the dogs collected around this hole about the time some travellers
were missing & howled & barked incessantly, that they could
not be driven away but die on the spot. This diabolical character
we saw but there appeared nothing terrific in him; in stature & form
he is rather gigantic, a little tinctured with the Negro blood, a good
countenance, easy in his manners & more polite than most of the Publicans
we have met with & I would venture that he is equally as honest.
We leave Chuk's & go on four miles where we with difficulty get accomodated
& not until we go another mile & find no quarters & return.
At Mr. *** 30 miles from whence we started this morning we tarry.
Horses very well provided for, ourselves but midling. We should no
doubt have met with better fare at Chuk's but we were all a little shy
of him notwithstanding his good countenance.
Saturday morning 16 Nov. Rainy &
in consequence we do not rise very early. At about half past 7 o'clock
we get under way. Rain continues. Have a disagreeable ride
but we have only 26 miles to ride to Nashville. After the first 10 miles
we travel over very good lands. Remark that no country looks well
on a rainy day. Stop within 8 miles of Nashville & feed our horses.
Pass through some very valuable lands & handsome settled places. Notice
a very large quantity of wild grape vines of immense size, some of them
20-24 inces in circumference. Pass Henton's Tavern 3 miles from Nashville,
who has guide posts with distances for many of the principal towns &
cities from New Orleans to Boston. At 4 o'clock in the afternoon
we arrive at Nashville, Tennessee, a handsome improving town well situated
on the banks of the beautiful River Cumberland over which we cross &
in a [flatt?]. Put up at the Bell Tavern kept by Mr. Childress.
House proves very good except the sleeping part. Nashville contains
about 150 houses, some of them built of brick three stories high &
in handsome style. From the number of stores presume there must be
considerable business done here. At 200 miles from this place the
Cumberland empties into the Ohio at only 70 miles from the junction of
that river with the Mississippi which makes it only 1270 miles by water
to New Orleans & upward of 200 miles nearer than Louisville, Kentucky,
which is the principal port of export for that state & also the most
western. The river Tennessee, which we shall cross about 180 miles
from here, rises in the mountains of Georgia, rolls through the Mississippi
territory & bends its course through the state & disgorges its
vast stream into the Ohio about nine miles west of the mouth of Cumberland.
In the vicinity of this town (Nashville) considerable cotton is made about
the same quality as Georgia, Upland, also flour, pork, hemp, etc., which
is carried to Orleans for a market. There is no house of worship
in this town. A society of Presbyterians under the pastoral charge
of Mr. Blackburne (an excellent preacher) assemble every fourth Sabbath
at the courthouse. Mr. B. has also charge of several churches in
Sun 17 Nov. Conclude to tarry
here today. We have however no preaching. My mare appears unfit for
travelling seems hardly in a condition to perform the balance of our journey.
While I think of it I must mention something of the sunflower which may
possibly be useful. The seed taken from it will yield in the quantity
of a gallon to the bushel of fine sweet flavoured oil said to be equal
to Florence. The growth of this plant is also said to be very healthy
& should be cultured in every situation where the air is bad, damp
or confined. One single plant will exhale as much deplogisticated[?]
gas, which is pure vital air, as will supply the physical functions of
the human body to one person.
Monday Nov. 18, 1811. Still resting
at Nashville. Doctor my mare with some brimston & salt &
apply a plaster of turpentine to her back. She appears quite drooping.
Write this day to my Mary at Savannah
& to Aunt Smith Stoney Brook. I am much pleased with this town.
It appears in a very thriving state. Dry goods I presume are lower
here than in New York. We purchased a [pkg.?] of three point blankets
at 3$ pps. There is a college in this town called Cumberland College,
a handsome brick building well endorsed. We met with a Gen'l Jackson who
resides near Nashville, much of a politician, fond of gaming & very
well calculated to become popular in these parts. A poor Kentuckian
by the name of Robinson comes to our quarters having travelled from New
Orleans, principally on foot, and a very object of disease & decrepitude
& resembling a moving skelton covered with skin. He is endeavouring
to get home. A small collection is made up for him. We witness
with pleasure the benevolence of our landlady, Mrs. Childress, who is uncommonly
attentive to this distressed traveller until a kind-hearted old lady living
3 miles from town sends her son for him that she may nurse him & exert
her skill to renovate his decayed powers. This reminds me of Parks
just eulogium on the the benevolent character of the female sex.
He says that in the cold & inhospitable wilds of northern Russion &
Siberia & in the burning sands of Africa,
Woman is the same. Humane, kind,
tender, ever happy to exercise the finer feelings of their sensible nature
for the alleviation of distress.
Tuesday, Nov. 19, 1811. Nearly
ready for a start. Wait the arrival of the mail which brings the
President's message to Congress, a spirited paper, well suited to the times.
I admire his philanthropic hint respecting our Mexican neighbors &
the rest of our patriots of the southern hemisphere. I hope the time
is not far distant when Spanish oppression will be overcome, when the descendants
of Montezuma with the modern natives of that vast country shall ride in
the might of freeman & united in one common struggle achieve an honorable
independence & beget a rank among the nations of the earth. Our
government should not disguise a feeling which is natural, which is laudable
& which flows from experience, & I hope to see them foremost in
extending to the Patriots of New Spain the kindred & the sympathetic
Saw today a New Orleans paper of the
7th, a notice the proceedings of the convention. Am happy to perceive
Blanques defeat & the success of Dr. Watkins' motion for adjournment.
At 4 o'clock just as we are ready to start Mr. Pitts of Georgetown arrives.
We agree to meet at Franklin 17 miles & proceed over som excellent
lands. At sunset arrive at the town of Franklin situated on the bank
of Harper River [Harpeth River] & put up at Dr. Sapington's.
This is a handsome little town with a neat courthouse in which Mr. Blackburn
Wednesday 20 Nov. Breakfast in
Franklin. Meet Mr. Pitts & start onward. Go this day 24 miles
& put up at a Mr. Smith's. Country thinly settled. Lands covered
with fine timber. Commence this night upon travelling fare--part
of us sleep before the fire.
[Keg Spring, Mr. Dobbin's]
Thursday the 21 Nov. Proceed on
our journey. Mr. Pitts furnishes me with a fresh horse which is a
very timely relief as my mare is much worsted. At 8 miles cross Duck
River, a beautiful limpid stream with large pebble bottom, which we ford.
At one mile, further on, stop to breakfast at Mr. Oliphant's where we have
fish & venison & make a sumptuous meal. Seven miles distant
we come to Keg Spring which issues out of a solid rock 5 or 6 feet deep
& discharges itself through a subterraneous passage. The water
is very fine. The lands on Duck River are very excellent & are
considerably cultivated. They have however not yet been located by
government but remain subject to a future disposition in which the present
settlers probably will have a preference. Proceed on 10 miles to
Mr. Dobbin's where we are well accommodated. We have made only 26
miles distance today. Our horses appear improving.
[Griners's Stand, Merriwether Lewis
Friday 22 Nov. Started early this
morning. Go to Grinders 5 miles & bait our horses. This
is the division line between Tennessee and the Mississippi Territory &
the place where Gov. Lewis two years ago shot himself. His grave
is on the roadside. Crossed several fine streams of water, the little
Swan, Buffalo, Bear, etc. *** of the Tennessee. Saw the first pine
tree we have seen since the commencement of our journey which has now been
about 1200 miles. After waiting about an hour in the hope of its
ceasing raining we set out. Ford Bear Creek 5 miles distant, go over
a very hilly & swampy road making a distance of nearly 40 miles this
day & put up at an Indian house 4 miles beyond Brown's. After
the first 15 miles Wm. & myself are left in the rear of the company
& travel alone. The last 4 miles is after night over a rough
& swampy road during a severe storm of thunder, lightning & rain.
We are apprehensive that we have mistaken the road & begin to make
our calculation to remain in the woods during the night when to our joy
a flash of lightning shows us the fence of a settlement where we arrive
& find our companions in a few minutes only before us. We here
get corn & blades for our horses & some [tomfoulah?] & sweet
potatoes for ourselves. As the clay floor is damp we spread some
corn blades under our blankets & sleep comfortabley or rather soundly.
The Indians here are kind & clever.
[Old Factor's Stand, Mr. Perry's, George
Monday 25 Nov. Start early.
Continues raining during the fore part of the day. Stop at the Old
Factor, a respectable Indian who takes his name from being the principal
manufacturer of homespun in the nation & appears to have a large settlement
with Negroes, etc. This is 12 miles from our starting place.
After baiting our horses proceed on. Observe the country tolerably
well improved, Indian plantation every few miles. Arrive at the Big
Town which formerly contained many buildings but is now hardly anything
more than an extensive prairie with some scattered huts, the Indians having
left the town for situations better adapted to agriculture. This
place is 65 miles from the Tennessee River. The two last days we
pass through considerable pine barren & over several large streams
of water. Some that we have crossed today we calculate to be the
head waters of the Tombigbee. We intend going this day to Colbert's
about 40 miles journey. When within 3 miles of it we take a wrong
turn & go 4 miles out of our way. We arrive at a Mr. James's
an old white man married in an Indian's *** whose gray hair gives him a
very venerable appearance. After informing us of our being out of
the road & kindly offering to accommodate us, which we decline from
an anxiety to get on, he conducts us a mile & a half into the right
road from whence we arrive safe at Mr. Perry's 1 mile short of Colbert's.
Here we meet with the principal chiefs of the nation assembled on governmental
concerns & with them Mr. George Colbert, the proprietor of Tennessee
ferry. We are not aware of the dignity of our guests & observe
that we don't wish to be huddled together with a parcel of Indians which
we afterwards endeavour to repair by courtesy & attention. They
however retire into another room to sleep, perhaps not wishing to be incommoded
by a parcel of plebian whites. We are much pleased with Mr. Colbert
through whose influence we have an excellent supper of coffee, venison,
potatoes, corn, bread, etc. The whole distance we have travelled
today is upwards of 40 miles, our road distance about 38 miles, the difference
proceeds from our taking a wrong route. Our horses perform
very well & appear to be thriving. Saw some oyster shells petrified
into stone. It is worthy of remark that there are large beds of oyster
shells in this country. They could hardly have been brought from
the salt water, & the only rational way we can account for this phenomenon
is that it once was in the vicinity of a marine coast & that the sea
water has receded upon the accumulation of the land. Among our guests
of rank at our tarrying place this evening is Chinumba, King of the Chickasaws.
[Wall's, enter Choctaw Nation]
Tuesday, Nov. 26. Start early.
Pass over considerable swampy road, the water very high at all the creeks
& branches. Over two of them we are compelled to swim our horses.
We however arrive safe at Walls half a mile over the Chickasaw line &
enter the Choctaw Nation. At Wall's we have coarse fare, no supper
& a smoky cabin to sleep in.
[Pigeon Roost, Mr. LeFlour (Mr. LeFleur,
French Camp), Shoat's]
Wednesday, Nov. 27. Make an early
start. Go to the Pigeon Roost 12 miles to breakfast. Soon after we
enter Evergreen Swamp which is decked in all the verdure of spring, growth,
water oak, holly, etc. The country appears well settled, considerable
pine land, the bottoms generally rich & abounding in oak, hickory,
beach, etc. We yesterday passed the Agency house for the Chickasaws
at 32 miles east of the Choctaw line. Here the American Superintendent
for Indian Affairs with the Chickasaw's. Mr. McNeely resides in a
good house & well improved plantation. The road this day's journey
rather hilly but very dry the rains not having extended this far.
Saw several deer bounding through the woods. In the evening
arrive at Mr. LeFlour's, a Frenchman who keeps a good house, where we are
well accommodated. Our distance this day is 37 miles. Rained
very hard during the night & continues in the morning. Take breakfast
& start about 9 o'clock, the road very wet & not a little troublesome
crossing the streams of water which are much swollen. *** LeFlour's
(the brother of our host of last night) distance 13 miles where we bait
our horses & proceed on to Mr. Shoute's 12 miles further where we tarry
for the night in excellent quarters. The country is becoming tolerably
well settled, the lands but indifferent, considerable growth of pine.
The Choctaws appear a good deal intermixed with the whites. They
are Indians of inferior polish to the Chickasaws. Distance this day
[Norton's public stand]
Friday, Nov. 29. Leave Mr. Shoute's
at sunrise. Bait our horses at an Indian house 10 miles. No
breakfast this morning & no stopping place except the one mentioned
until we arrive at Norton's public stand 31 miles from our starting place
this morning. We get to Norton's early in the afternoon & conclude
to terminate our day's journey here. We have passed this day over
a hilly, barren country covered with pine & scrubby oak with a few
starved settlements. The United States have purchased of the Choctaws,
several tracks of land of a mile square 40 miles apart for the purpose
of accommodating the mail as well as travellers. These are called
public stands. We are informed that they sell corn 50 [pct?] higher
than the private stores which is confirmed to us by our being obliged to
pay 1.50 per bushel for what our horses require tonight. We met 2
wagons today from Bayou Sarah near the territory of Orleans with families
emigrating to the state of Ohio as the settlement from whence they come
is composed prinicipally of Georgians. Conclude they are some of
the wanderers of that state not yet satisfied but desirous of making an
experiment of another thousand miles. They will have one consolation
in not being troubled with Negroes where they are going as all colored
are alike free in the state of Ohio. We have met within a few days
several parties of boatment returning from New Orleans & Natchez through
the wilderness principally on foot, poor fellows have hard times of it.
They receive 50 or 60 dollars for a voyage down the Ohio & Mississippi
to Orleans & walk back, a distance of 700-1000 miles. Many take
sick & die on the way while others get home hardly alive.
Saturday, Nov. 30. Start early
this morning. Promises to be a fine day. The last night a very
heavy frost. Go 15 miles through an open barren with some scattered
oak to Ward's where we breakfast rather coarsely. Our horses fare
better. Proceed on to Bathives(?) 18(?) miles. The country
wears a more fertile appearance. See large quantities *** which is
the first of any consequence we have seen & one of the indications
of our approaching southern latitude. We proceed on 4 miles to the
agency house for the Choctaw nation. Have an interview with Mr. Dinsmore,
the U.S. agent. He is erecting a very large building designed for
a public house which will be very convenient for travellers. The
agent's situation is a very handsome one, high & in the midst of a
rich prairie. go on 8 miles further to the public stand kept by Mr.
*** which makes our distance this day ** miles. We take supper &
go to bed.
Sunday, Dec. 1. Rise early &
start forward on road 11 miles to an Indian house where we bait our horses
but have no baiting for ourselves. We travel this day over a fine
road, rich lands elegantly timbered but no settlements to Mr. McCraven's
making our day's journey 37 miles. We here cross the Choctaw line
into the settled part of the Mississippi Territory. We saw this day
some laurel trees for the first time & the land covered with young
green *** stopping place. Mr. Wm. Craven is building a large house
for the accommodation of travellers. We are now distant from Natchez
about 70 miles and look forward to a speedy termination of our journey
under favor of that kind providence which has thus far directed us.
At the Pigeon Roost 12 miles from the line of the Chickasaws we crossed
the head waters of the Big Black River which empties into the Mississippi
above Gibsonport, leaving it on the right, the road to Natchez being on
the dividing line between those waters & *** River, the head waters
of which we also crossed at the Pigeon Roost.
Monday, Dec. 2. Made an early
start before daylight. Go 5 or 6 miles & cross the Big and Little
Sand Creeks. Go 3 miles further to Robertson's (who is from Augusta,
Geo.) where we breakfast. Proceed forward. At 8 1/2 miles cross
the Grindstone *** over Bayou Pierre, small, navigable River ***
& enter town of Gibsonport situated on the banks of the stream.
This town contains about 40 houses, 3 or 4 taverns, several stores &
is very favorably situated in the midst of a rich country business.
Adjoining the town is a cotton plantation belonging to the estate of Abijah
Hunt which has near 600 acres of cotton ***. In this neighborhood
is the famous Yazoo lands so well known in the annals of Georgia *** the
River Yazoo is *** north of Gisonport ***. We arrive at Trimble's
11 miles from Port Gibson where we overtake *** company & tarry for
the night. Distance this day 37 miles through a high rich country,
last part of it abounding in fine cotton fields. The growth on the
land is oak, hickory poplar, Beech, large pines, *** wood, magnolia, etc.
*************** to whom I have ********** Josiah F. Smith with an order
for a fresh horse. Go to the plantation 3 1/2 miles from Gibsonport--
on the left of the main ***. See Mr. Smith who provides me with a
horse -- leave mine with him for the benefit of her health. Stop
at Mr. Barnes's plantation adjoining Mr. Smith's. Mr. B *** the Legislature
at Washington. This is a handsome country & *** & has the
appearance of being healthy yet it does not support the character ...
[END OF DIARY]