« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »
containing many articles of rich and valuable Indian costume; the large natural mounds above the city, and the character of the rock formation along the shores of the river, which was said to have had the impressions of human feet, on its original surface. The latter I did not see till the summer of 1821, when the block of stone containing them was examined in Mr. Rapp's garden, at Harmony, on the Wabash. • My inclinations having led me, at this time, to visit the extensive lead mines, south west of this city, on the waters of the Merrimack, I lost no time in retracing my way to Herculaneum, by descending the Mississippi.
When I was prepared to descend the river, the two gentlemen who had been my travelling companions, on the journey up, had completed the business of their adventure, and offered me a seat, in a small boat, under their control. It was late in the afternoon of the day that this arrangement was proposed, and it was dusk before we embarked; but it was thought the village of Cahokia, some five or six miles below, could be reached in good season. A humid and misty atmosphere rendered the night quite dark, and we soon found ourselves afloat on the broad current of the stream, without knowing our position, for it was too intensely dark to descry the outlines of either shore. Being in a light open boat, we were not only in some peril, from running foul of drifting trees, but it became disagreeably cold. On putting in for the Illinois shore, a low sandy bar, or shoal was made, but one of my companions who had landed came running back with an account of a bear and her cub, which caused us to push on about a mile further, where we passed the night, withou beds or fire. Daylight disclosed to us the fact that we had passed Caho kia; we then crossed over to the Missouri shore, and having taken break fast at Carondalet, continued the voyage, without any further misadver ture, and reached Herculaneum at noon.
I lost no time in preparing to visit the mines, and having made arrange ments for my baggage to follow, set out on foot for Potosi. The first day I proceeded eighteen miles, and reached Steeples, at the head of the Zwoshau, or Joachim river, at an early hour. The day was excessively hot, and the road lay for the greater part of the distance, over a ridge of land, which afforded no water, and very little shelter from the sun's rays. I met not a solitary individual on the route, and with the exception of the small swift footed lizard, common to the way side, and a single wild turkey, 'nothing in the animal kingdom. The antlers of the deer frequently seen above the grass,
denoted it however to abound in that animal. I was constrained while passing this dry tract, to allay my thirst at a pool, in a rut, not, however, without having disconcerted a wild turkey, which had come apparently for the same purpose.
Next day I crossed the valley of Grand or Big river, as it is commonly called, and at the distance of twelve miles from the Joachim, I entered the mining village of Shibboleth-the feudal seat, so to say, of the noted
* John Smith T." of whose singularities rumour had already apprized me. Here was a novel scene. Carts passing with loads of ore-smelting fur naces, and fixtures, and the half-hunter, half-farmer costumes of the group of men who were congregated about the principal store, told me very plainly, that I was now in the mining region. Lead digging and discovering, and the singular hap-hazards of men who had suddenly got rich by finding rich beds of ore, and suddenly got poor by some folly or extravagance, gave a strong colouring to the whole tone of conversation at this spot, which was carried on neither in the mildest or most unobtrusive way: quite a vocabulary of new technical words burst upon me, of which it was necessary to get the correct import. I had before heard of the pretty term, “mineral blossom," as the local name for radiated quartz, but here were tiff (sulphate of barytes), glass-tiff (calcareous spar), “mineral sign,”' and a dozen other words, to be found in no books. At the head of these new terms stood the popular word “mineral,” which invariably meant galena, and nothing else. To hunt mineral, to dig mineral, and to smelt mineral, were so many operations connected with the reduction of the ores of galena.
I soon found the group of men about the village store, was a company of militia, and that I was in the midst of what New Yorkers call a “training," which explained the lounter aspect I had noticed. They were armed with rifles, and dressed in their every day leather or cotton hunting shirts. The officers were not distinguished from the men, either because swords were not easily procured, or more probably, because they did not wish to appear with so inefficient and useless an arm. “ Food for powder," was the first term that occurred to me on first surveying this group of men, but nothing could have been more inapposite; for although like “ lean Jack's” men, they had but little skill in standing in a right line, never were men better skilled for personal combat,--from the specimens given, I believe there was hardly a man present, who could not drive a bullet into the size of a dollar at a hundred yards. No man was better skilled in this art, either with rifle or pistol, than the Don of the village, the said John Smith T, or his brother, called “the Major," neither of whom travelled, or eat, or slept, as I afterwards witnessed, without their arms. During my subsequent rambles in the mine country, I have sat at the same table, slept in the same room, and enjoyed the conversation of one or the other, and can say, that their extraordinary habit of going fully armed, was united in both with courteous manners, honourable sentiments, and high chivalric notions of personal independence; and I had occasion to notice, that it was none but their personal enemies, or opponents in business, that dealt in vituperation against them. John Smith T. was doubtless a man of singular and capricious humours, and a most fiery spirit, when aroused; of which scores of anecdotes are afloat. He was at variance with several of his most conspicuous neighbours, and, if he be likened to the lion of
the forest, it will be perfectly just to add, that most of the leske animals stood in fear of him.
My stop here had consumed some time, but thinking I could still reach Minè a Burton, I pushed on, but had only proceeded a couple of miles when I was hastily compelled to seek shelter from an impending shower. As it was late, and the storm continued, I remained at a farm house, at Old Mines during the night. They gave me a supper of rich fresh milk and fine corn bread. In the morning, a walk of three miles brought me to Potosi, where I took lodgings at Mr. Ficklin's, proprietor of the principal inn of the place. Mr. F. was a native of Kentucky, a man of open frank manners, and most kind benevolent feelings, who had seen much of frontier life, had lived a number of years in Missouri, and now at a rather advanced period of life, possessed a fund of local knowledge and experience, the communication of which rendered the time I spent at his house both profitable and pleasing.
I reached Potosi on the second of August. The next day was the day of the county election", which brought together the principal miners and agricultural gentlemen of the region, and gave me a favourable opportunity of forming acquaintance, and making known the object of my visit. I was particularly indebted to the civilities of Stephen F. Austin, Esq. for these introductions. During my stay in the country he interested himself in my success, omitted no opportunity of furthering my views, and extending my acquaintance with the geological features and resources of the country. He offered me an apartment in the old family mansion of Durham Hall, for the reception and accumulation of my collections. Mr. Bates and sons, Mr. Jones and sons, Mr. Perry and brothers, Mr. Elliot, Mr. Brickey, Mr. Honey and others, seconded these civilities. Indeed the friendly and obliging disposition I uniformly met with, from the inhabitants of the mines, and the mine country generally, is indelibly impressed on my memory
I was now at the capital of the mines, and in a position most favourable for obtaining true information of their character and value. Three months devoted to this object left scarcely a nook of the country which I had not either personally explored, or obtained authentic information of. I found forty-five principal mines, or mineral diggings as some of them are called, within a circumference of less than forty miles. Potosi, and its vicinity yielded annually about three millions of pounds of lead, and furnished employment to the estimated nnmber, of eleven to twelve hundred hands. The business was however depressed, like almost every other branch of domestic arts or industry, after the peace of 1814, owing to the great influx and low prices of
* About 70 votes were polled in the town of Potosi. Mr. Austin, the younger, wns returned by the county to the Territorial Legislature.