Page images
PDF
EPUB
[graphic]

of its geological structure and its mineralogical productions—themes which were then fresh and new, but which have lost much of their attractions by the progress which natural science has made in the country during six and twenty years. To these topics it is the less necessary to revert, as they were embraced in the results of my tour, given in my " View of the Mines," published in 1819.

The article improperly called pumice, which floats down the Missouri during its floods, from the burning coal banks in the Black -Hills, I first picked up on the shore in the ascent above Cape Girardeau, and it gave me an intimation that the waters had commenced falling. We came to, the same night, at a well known fountain, called the Moccasin Spring, a copious and fine spring of crystal water, which issues from an elongated orifice in the limestone rock.

While lying at the mouth of the river Obrazo, where we were detained on account of hands, several boats touched at the place, carrying emigrants from Vermont and New York, whose destination was the most westerly settlements on the Missouri. At higher points in the ascent we encountered emigrants from Maine, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, North Carolina. and Kentucky, which denotes the wide range of the spirit of migration at the era. The ends of the Union seemed to be brought together by this general movement towards the west. It was not uncommon to find representatives from a great number of the states in these accidental meetings; they were always of a social and highly friendly character, and the effect of such a system of intercommunication and residence, from districts widely separated, could not but be highly auspicious in promoting uniformity of manners and opinions, and assimilating customs, dress, and language. If long continued it must destroy provincialisms, and do much to annihilate local prejudices

Every one who has ascended this stream will recollect the isolated cliff, standing in its waters, called Grand Tower, with the corresponding developments of the coast on the contiguous shores, which tell the traveller plainly enough that here is the site of some ancient disruptive process in the physical history of the valley. The current has an increased velocity in sweeping around this obstacle; and we found, as the waters fell, that there were numerous eddies and strong jets or currents along this precipitous coast, which it required extra force to surmount. We saw one day a number of pelicans standing on a sand bar. The wild turkey and quail were daily encountered on shore.

Our approach to St. Genevieve was preceded by a sight of one of those characteristic features in all the early French settlements in this quarter— the great public field extending several miles, five miles I think, along the banks of the river. St. Genevieve itself lies about a mile from the river, and is concealed by irregularities in the surface. It is a highly characteristic antique French town, and reminds one strongly of the style and manner of building of the provincial villages and towns of the parent country, as still existing. Three miles above this place we came to a noted point of crossing called the Little Rock Ferry; a spot worthy of note at that time as the residence of a very aged Frenchman, called Le Breton. Statements which are believed to be true, made him 109 years old. From his own account he was at the seige of Bergen-op-zoom, in Flanders; at the siege of Louisburg; at the building of Fort Cdartres, in Illinois; and at Braddock's defeat. After his discharge, he diajfcered those extensive lead mines in Washington county, about forty rmws west of the river, which still bear his name.

The coast between St. Genevieve and Herculaneum is almost one continuous cliff of precipitous rocks, which are broken through chiefly at the points where rivers and streams discharge. Herculaneum itself is seated on one of these limited areas, hemmed in by cliffs, which, in this case, were rendered still more picturesque by their elevated shot towers. I landed at this place about noon of my twenty-second day's ascent, and finding it a convenient avenue to the mine district, determined to leave my baggage at a hotel till my return from St. Louis, and pursue the rest of the journey to that place on foot. It was at this point that I was introduced to Mr. Austin, the elder, who warmly approved my plan of exploring the mines, and offered every facility in his power to further it. Mr. Austin was, he informed me at a subsequent stage of our acquaintance, a native of Connecticut. He had gone early into Virginia and settled at Richmond, where his eldest son was born, and afterwards removed to Wythe county. In 1778 he went into Upper Louisiana, enduring severe sufferings and the risk of life, in crossing the country by way of Vincennes to St. Louis, 'where he was well received by the Spanish local governor. He obtained a grant of land in the present area of Washington county, the principal seat of the oLler mines. About the time I went to Missouri, or soon after it, he resolved to visit San Antonio, in Texas, with a view of introducing a colony of Americans into that quarter. This plan he carried into execution, I think, in 1820, and returned with an ample giant; but he did not live to carry its stipulations into effect, having died suddenly after his return, at the house of his daughter, Mrs. Bryant, at Hazel Run.

Mr. Austin was a man of great steal a'ld fervour of imagination, and entered very warmly into all his plans and views, whatever they were. He was hospitable, frank, intelligent, and it is with feelings of unmixed pleasure, that I revert to my acquaintance with him, no less than with his talented son, Stephen, and the excellent, benign, and lady-like Mrs. Austin, and other members of this intelligent family.

[graphic]

NO. V.

Herculaneum had nothing in common with it? sombre Italian prototype, which has been dug out of dust and ashes in modern times, but in name. Instead of buried palaces and ruins of a luxurious age of marble, bronze and silver, most of the houses were built of squared oak logs, and had bulky old fashioned chimneys, built outside with a kind of castelated air, as they are seen in the old French and Dutch settlements in Canada, and along the vallies of the Hudson and Mohawk. The arts of painting and gilding' and cornices, had not yet extended their empire here. Mr. Austin's residence, was the only exception to this remark, I remember. The Courts of Justice were content to hold their sessions in one of tho oaken timber buildings named; the county jail had a marvellous resemblance to an ample smoke-house, and my kind host, Ellis, who was a na tive of South Carolina, was content to serve up substantial and good cheer in articles, not exhumed from a city buried in volcanic ashes, but in plain fabrics of Staffordshire and Birmingham. In addition to the host-like and agreeable resort, which travellers unexpectedly found at his hands, in a mansion whose exterior gave no such signs, he presided over the department of a public ferry, established at this place, across the wild and fluctuating Mississippi; and had he kept note book, he could have given account of many a one, from other lands, with golden hopes of the far west, whom he had safely conducted, against the most adverse floods, to the Missouri shore. I found a few old books at his house, which showed that there had been readers in his family, and which helped to while away moments, which every traveller will find on his hands.

I have intimated that there was nothing in the way of the antique, in Herculaneum, but its name. To this I might add, that there was no exception, unless it be found in the impressions of objects, in the structure of the rocks, in this quarter, denoting a prior age of existence. I was shown an impression, in the surface of a block of limestone, quarried here, which was thought to resemble a man's foot. It did not appear to me to bear this similitude, but was rather to be referred to some organic extinct forms, which are not yet well understood.

Having passed a couple of days here, I set out early one morning, on foot, for St. Louis, accompanied by two young men from Pennsylvania, with whom I had become acquainted on prior parts of my route. They had come with an adventure of merchandize from the waters of the Yioughagany, and were desirous of seeing the (then) capitol of the Territory. Nothing untoward occurred, until we reached and crossed the river Merrimack, where night overtook us, and get in with intense darkness, just as we reached the opposite shore. There was but one house in the vicinity ; and not distant more than a mile, but such was the intensity of the darkness, owing to clouds and a gathering storm, that we lost the road, wandered in the woods for some hours, during which the rain commenced, and were at length directed to the house we sought, by the faint and occasional tinkling of a cow bell.

We travelled the next morning twelve miles, to breakfast at the antique Poking village of Carondalct. The route lies over an elevated tract of uplands, eligibly situated on the right bank of the Mississippi, in which a growth of wild prairie grass and flowers, filled up the broad spaces between the trees. There was no habitation visible on the route—a standing spring under a ledge of rocks, about half way, was the only spot where we could get a drop of water to allay our thirst—for it was a hot August day. We encountered several deer, and from the frequent occurrence of their tracks, deemed such an occurrence to be common. It is on his elevated and airy tract, that the site of Jefferson Barracks, has since been judiciously established by the government.

Beyond Carondalet, the country has the appearance of a grown-up heath. It is a bushy uninviting tract, without mature forest trees. The most interesting feature we saw, consisted of a number of regular depressions, or cup-shaped concavities in the soil, caused by the passage of springs over a clay basis, upon which there is deposited a heavy diluvial stratum of sand, mixed earth and pebbles. Within about three miles of the city, this heathy and desolate tract began to assume a cultivated character; dwellings and gardens soon succeeded, and we found ourselves, by almost imperceptible grades, introduced into the city, which we reached about four o'clock m the afternoon. On entering its ancient Spanish barriers, we noticed one of the old stone towers, or defences, which constituted a part of the enclosure. This town, I afterwards learned, had been regularly walled and fortified, during the possession of the country by the.' Spanish crown. As soon as I had taken lodgings, I called on R. Pettibone Esq., a friend formerly of Vernon, in western N. Y. who had established himself in this central city of the west, in the practice of the law; he was not in, at the moment, but his family received me with cordiality. He returned my visit in the evening, and insisted on my taking up my quarters at his house. The time that I spent here, was devoted to the most prominent objects which the town and its vicinity presented to interest a stranger, such as the private museum of the late Gen. Wli, Clark,

[graphic]

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, southwest 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, without 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 misadve* ture, and reached Hereulaneum at noon.

I lost no time in preparing to visit the mines, and having made arrang* ments for mv baggage to follow, set out on foot for Potosi. The first da\ 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

[graphic]
« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »