I received the following manuscript from a short book likely written in 1800 to 1801 which tells the story of a six-month journey from the Lake George region in New York to a climax of observation in the early frontier town of Hamilton, Ohio. Within this story is the recollections of the 4th generation grandfather of a Mr. Robert R. Toland who sent this incredible adventure to me providing a window into a world pre-dating historical accounting. Toland ran across this story while doing research into his family history and found its mention of “giants” within the mounds of Ohio to be of archaeological significance to the study of the subject—which many modern-day scientists have rejected—and would likely discard any reference as a hoax. The frontier traveler was named Zophar Roberts and the recollection began in the fall of 1800 to the spring of 1801 obviously a decade before the War of 1812. It is a window into an America that doesn’t get much attention and is relevant from that vantage point. Even more significant are the first-hand accounts of giants found in the many mounds of supposed Indians that he witnessed while traveling around the newly formed civilization of the Ohio Valley—from Cincinnati to Fort Ancient just north of modern day Lebanon, Ohio.
The first question I posed to Toland after reading this manuscript was whether or not this was a hoax hoping to capitalize off the recent popular interest in this topic, which I have played a part in evolving. My proposal has been consistent that an ancient—undocumented race of giant people lived in the entire Mississippi region well before the arrival of Christopher Columbus—exposing a major flaw in typical accounts of pre-Columbian archaeology throughout the entire Americas—both the North and South American continents. He assured me that it wasn’t—and I tend to agree with him. The journey represents the correct time scale of traveling between towns and taverns in those early days and the sentiments about slavery and God are very consistent to the type of person in Zophar who was born in Providence Road Island in 1760 and watched the Revolutionary War and the birth of a nation as a 16-year-old teenager. Zophar died 23 years after his journey so it was for him the trip of a lifetime—to see a new world emerging as a bucket list endeavor while he still could—so I found the story’s temperament to be that of a common traveler seeing things he knew would be the first and last time. There is a playfulness to his observations that I find realistic to only authenticity or the work of a very good author postscript. His perspective for me gives this document scientific authenticity. With all that said, I would suggest that you read the entire journey and enjoy it as a day to day diary into the distant past. But pay particular attention to the section highlighted in bold letters. It is as good of archaeological evidence as the transcription of hieroglyphics shown on a temple wall—before the Smithsonian was established to begin chronicling the history of our nation for the protection of our settlement in it. Keep in mind that the Smithsonian Institution was not created until 46 years after this story and professional archaeology about 50 years after that. This type of story is all we have of a forgotten time. I would argue again that the proof of Zophar’s account could be settled rather quickly. An excavation of the Miamisburg Mound complex in Ohio would put this issue of giants to rest. I am 99.999999999999999999% sure that what is within that mound are the observations of what Zophar has reported and that the reason there has been no modern excavation by members of the science community is because they are afraid of what they will find, because they have these same reports and they are quite contrary to the position that early established science fashioned as fact. However, we all deserve to know the truth and science is supposed to be in the business of such matters—not in the maintenance of faulty politics. Enjoy the story and let it open your eyes to a forgotten time and new possibilities as to the ancestors of North America.
A Tour from Lake George to the
Made in the Fall of the year 1800, and the Winter and Spring of 1801;
Of the Soil, Productions, Rivers, Natural Curiosities, Etc.
Eden of America.
To which is added,
A CONCISE ACCOUNT
Present State of Kentucky.
By Zophar Roberts
“By Travel crown the Arts, and learn abroad
The general Virtues, which the Wise applaud
Whatever worthy thy Remark thou seest
With care remember, and forget the Rest.”
Printed for the Author, at Request of many of his
Friends – MDCCCI
Many things occurred to my mind that made me determine not to say anything in my journal respecting Kentucky. I have, however, been persuaded to the contrary by my friends. But, as I have never traveled through that State and only made excursions to different parts of it, during my stay at Cincinnati, the reader is to expect nothing more than a partial (though just) description. It has also been requested, and I have consented, to annex hereto, a further and more particular account of the present State of Kentucky.
Lake George, State of New York, October 15th, 1801.
I have not begun my daily Journal until I came to Strasburg, 63 miles west from Philadelphia. I shall only say, that I started from Lake George on the 10th of November, 1800, on the 15th of December arrived at Strasburg, PA and crossed what is called North Mountain. Lodged at night at Mr. Skinners’ Inn, in Horse Valley.
Tuesday 16 – In travelling seven miles this morning, we crossed two mountains, viz. Middle Mountain and Tuscarora. We then had a broken uneven country, yet we saw many rich fertile valleys. Lodged at night at Mr. George Wild’s Inn.
Wednesday 17 – After travelling about six miles we took breakfast, travelled two miles further, crossed the Juniata, a noble branch of the Susquehanna, this river, taking its whole course, is perhaps the crookedest river in the whole world; after riding five or six miles we have the Juniata on the right and left, at the distance of not more than ten rods. This river forms many noble bottoms; and notwithstanding its serpentine course there are some excellent masts taken down even to Chesapeake Bay. We crossed the Juniata again about two miles from Bedford; here the river is much pent by the mountains on each side; previous to crossing we had the river to the left and the mountain to the right, for several miles. Here it was, at the time when General Washington was sending an army across the mountains in 1793, to quell the whiskey boys, about Fort Pitt, that the insurgents placed a grave old man in the highway to blast some rocks; the old man had some rocks bored and matches prepared; and at the very instant the light horse came in sight the matches were fired, which were about fifty in number, the report so frightened those brave men, that they immediately turned to the main army, reporting that the insurgents had raised an army of at least one thousand men. We rode one mile further, lodged with Mr. John Emich; here the mountains open and present a beautiful flat.
Thursday 18 – About sunrise this morning, we rode through Bedford, crossed the Juniata several times, and saw some excellent bottom; on leaving the Juniata, we rode ten miles on what is called Dry Ridge. The upland is broken, poor, and very stony, but produces excellent wheat. Lodged at night at William Dorsey’s Inn, two miles from the foot of the Allegany.
Friday 19 – Early this morning we ascended the Allegany, it being very rainy we travelled but about nine miles, put up at a private house with one Mr. Black, a very hospitable gentleman, who charged us nothing for three meals and horse keeping. I wish him an example for others to imitate. He has a large plantation, cuts about 90 or 100 tons of hay, and raises about one thousand bushels of wheat and as much rye. Here is what is commonly called the Glades.
Saturday 20 – It being very bad travelling, this day we proceeded but about fourteen miles; put again at a private house with one Jack Knave, who was really so more than fool.
Sunday 21 – We rode about twenty miles and dined at John Stackdar’s Inn, here we found no good in the people only that they deviated from the custom of the road in charging a higher price. Here too, we leave the Fort Pitt road to the right; proceeded five miles further to Lovengire’s Inn, here we were well used.
Monday 22 – We rode through the hilly rich fertile country, fifteen miles, crossed the Yohogany, and proceeded seven miles further to the banks of the Monongahela, put up at Joseph Beckett’s Esquire, a private house. Squire Beckett is a gentleman.
Perhaps the reader will be disappointed if I do not give a more full description of that mountain, distinguished from others by the name of Allegany. Foreigners are much mistaken concerning this mountain, for it is commonly thought we ascend from one part to near the middle when we reach the summit, and from thence descend to the foot – whereas in ascending we are near as high in going four miles, as in any part of it. This mountain is truly worth notice, great part of which abounds with excellent timber; in general, either oak, chestnut, or white pine, variegated according to the nature of the soil. That part of it called Savage Mountain is beautifully covered with stately white pines, which promise great advantage to the western country in process of time. In passing this mountain we cross many crystal streams, their junction forms the Yohogany, which again falls into the Monongahela, south of the place where General Braddock was defeated. The Laurel Hill is about ten miles wide, and is only the western part of the same mountain; but one reason why it is spoken of as a distinct place may be, the level land lying eastward, called the Glades, in breadth about 25 miles. In this are situated the great meadows where Washington was defeated; the entrenchments used on that occasion yet appear.
This mountain runs a southwesterly course, and is at present generally inhabited. Though part of the soil is so cold and subject to frosts, that little grain can be expected; yet it is said that grain of all sorts are produced on this mountain. In most places, the soil is good for grass and meadows.
It is very probable also, that it abounds with various mines, and if so, it will be of great utility to the adjacent states. It is said to be sixty miles across as you travel to Redstone. Through the whole as you travel, may lodge every night in very good houses. When we descend the Laurel Hill, which is both steep and stony, we come into that country which is known in distant places by the name of Redstone. This name cannot properly be applied to the greater part of this land, for Redstone is a creek, and the land adjacent makes a very small part of the country. This settlement abounds with more creeks that can properly be mentioned here. These all empty into the river commonly called Monongahela, the proper name of which, according to the Indian pronunciation, is Mehmanowangehelak, which signifies Falling in Bank River. From the richness of the soil, the banks of this river frequently break, and fall into the steam; hence, it takes its name. This river comes from the south, and sixty miles before it arrives at Fort Pitt, it is two hundred yards wide. Several ferries are kept on it, though it may frequently be rode in the summer season. On each side of this river, along the creeks, are settlements amounting to many thousand inhabitants in the whole. In this new settlement, several houses for worship are already erected. It is truly pleasing to see the worship of God here, in a land so lately overspread with heathenish darkness and universal ignorance of God. Who could have expected such a change? But all things are possible with God. There is also a furnace, and iron-works, and glass house. The country along the Monongahela is very fertile, exceeding most to be met with in the eastern states. It is certain that part of it is too rich for wheat, though other parts produce it in profuse abundance. Corn and potatoes are raised to admiration. A gentleman of respectability at Muddy Creek said, that one large potato cut in several pieces, produced the first year, one bushel and a half; the second year the return was sixty-four bushels; neither was any manure used, for the earth is sufficiently strong without it. The timber, which consists of black and white oak, walnut, butternut, and wild cherry; indicates the fertility of the soil.
Tuesday 23 – Very early this morning we started, were detained about two hours before we could cross the Monongahela. Here I should mention an imposition on us by Mr. Scott a tavern keeper, if I thought him a man worthy so much notice. We travelled within three miles of Washington, put up at a private house, name unknown.
Wednesday 24 – Proceeded through Washington, which lies about 20 miles south of Fort-Pitt, still travelled through a country of rich uneven land, yet not stony nor mountainous; till we came within six miles of Charlestown in Virginia; here we lodged at the house of Francis McGuire, Esq. He is a member of the legislature of Virginia. We were entertained in the highest taste, made very welcome, and invitations to make that house our home whilst we tarried in the neighborhood.
Thursday 25 – It being on Christmas morning, we concluded not to travel father than Charlestown this day and look for our passage by water to Cincinnati; accordingly, after taking breakfast at Esq. McGuire’s, we started for Charlestown at about 10 o’clock A.M. We had not travelled to exceed three miles when we were called to by one Alex. Crawford to stop and help him drink some peach brandy, he repeating the words that “Christmas comes but once as year.” Here, he with true Yankee freedom interrogated us of our nativity, and our business; we with as much freedom informed him. His brother Mr. Edward Crawford said he knew of an opportunity of our getting in an Orleans boat, which he believed would start sometime the next day, and that he himself was going down in it about 30 miles to the Wegee Bottom. He said, if we would not think him too officious, he would at any rate, take his horse and ride with us to Charlestown, and help us get our passage; we all went and agreed for our passage, to start on Saturday. Charlestown is a beautiful little town on the south-east bank of the Ohio. It contains a courthouse, a house of worship and an academy. Mr. Edward Crawford insisted on our returning to his brother’s and taking a Christmas dinner; we returned, partook of a fine repast; accompanied Mr. E. Crawford to his own house and was not a little surprised to see the generosity of the two brothers; could only say “Christmas comes but once a year.”
Friday 26 – This morning we agreed with Mr. Crawford to keep our horse until our return. Spent the day in assisting the owners of the boat, and the day following. Nothing remarkable happened.
Sunday 28 – About 3 o’clock A.M. we took water for Cincinnati, Mr. Crawford along with us, landed at the Wegee Bottom. This was the first time in my life that I ever set foot on the Indian shore, and to do it justice I must say it is a very beautiful place. We partook of a fine repast at Mr. Crawford’s son-in-law. Mr. Crawford accompanied us no further.
Here it may not be amiss to describe our situation aboard the boat; The owners were Joseph Snodgrass and John Potts; Snodgrass appeared to be man of good sense and much inclined to argumentation; He held with myself, that the sun is not fire nor even a body of heat; but that the heat we received was only occasioned by the force of its rays; but contrary to my belief, he held, that by means of its rays, it diminished every day.
The owners had each of them a blanket, but as we had none, we had nothing to lie on but the wet bottom of the boat or barrels. Our furniture for cooking consisted of one tin quart measure, one bake kettle and three spoons. Our provisions were half a dozen fresh hams, a quarter of fresh beef, some hominy and some potatoes. This was owing to there being no necessary articles in Charlestown for sale.
Monday 29 – Had a pleasant warm day for sailing; saw much very good land on each side Ohio, especially about the mouth of the Muskingum.
Tuesday 30 – About two o’clock A.M. we were alarmed by the watch crying “all hands to the oars,” we immediately manned the oars, and experienced such a storm of wind as would make the heart of the stoutest sailor tremble. We were obliged to land and for safety we chose the Indian shore; this was the second time of my setting foot in the Northwestern Territory. As soon as daylight appeared I took a walk for some considerable distance, to view the country; nothing can exceed the richness of the soil: the timber chiefly black and white oak, black walnut, butternut, hickory, hard maple and sycamore. The wind continued to blow from the S.W. which made the river so rough, that most part of the day it was impossible to travel. Traders say, that the wind almost universally blows up [the] Ohio, especially in winter, nor do I remember it otherwise whilst on the river. This must be of great advantage to trade on this river. Perhaps it would puzzle the greatest philosopher to assign a natural cause for this; but it is plain, Providence has ordered it so. About 10 o’clock we made shift to get into the river again, but was` obliged to land again at about 1 o’clock P.M. four miles below the mouth of the Hockhocking. This is very beautiful country; perhaps no place on the Ohio exceeds it for goodness on all accounts. At about 3 o’clock the wind abated and we again proceeded on our way.
Wednesday 31 – We had a very pleasant day for sailing; viewed much good land on each side Ohio. This day too I saw Kentucky’s banks for the first time.
Thursday January 1, 1801 – This morning, as soon as the dawn ushered in, I was called on by the Captain to drink a toast for all aboard, which I did viz. “May liberty and equality, according to merit, universally prevail throughout the whole world,” which met the highest approbation of the Captain. This day the snow fell about two inches deep. We had a prospect of much good land; Kentucky side somewhat hilly. This night was very cold and tedious.
Friday 2 – Continued cold, yet the weather was not colder than our most moderate weather at Lake George. This day very early we passed the mouth of Scioto; no hill scarcely could be seen; this appeared to be as beautiful a country as anywhere in the world. We measured a grape vine that was twelve inches in diameter. This day also, we landed at Columbia, called on Judge Goforth, a gentleman from New York, and a man of good information: he treated us very politely; here we heard of our old acquaintance Mr. John Ferris; we returned to the boat and agreed to leave her; lodged this night at the widow Messer’s.
Saturday 3 – This morning, after a sweet night’s repose, we rose and took breakfast at Judge Goforth’s; after taking our leave we sat out to go and see our old friend before mentioned. The sun shone with unusual effulgence, the benignity which sat visible in the countenances of all with whom I conversed still heightened my imaginations, my heart expanded with joy at the beauty of this new world; when (but how it happened I cannot tell) I stopped at Major Still’s; Mrs. Still informed me my acquaintance Mr. Ferris was dead. Alas! How soon were my feelings changed, nature itself seemed to change her aspect! But why should I lament his death? His death was truly Christian! His death was magnanimous! His death was without fear! He died without remorse of conscience! He died with full assurance of a blest immortality!
The powers of his mind were strong from nature, but much improved by a judicious education and study. He relished with more than common satisfaction the writings of the ingenious. He was an entertaining companion; possessed with uncommon calmness of temper. He was an early advocate for liberty, and felt with keenest sensibility for the oppressed! Adieu.
January 27 and 28 – The weather was so warm that I taught school without a coat or fire in the schoolhouse.
February 12 – The snow fell about two inches deep and for several days the weather was cold and frosty. This was the first snow that fell after the first of January. No more snow fell this winter.
As a particular description of this north-western territory would be long and tedious, and swell this journal beyond its intended size, I shall content myself with giving the reader a general description, which I have obtained from gentlemen of veracity and information.
The country is in general level, nowhere mountainous, but gentle rises and descents, interspersed with innumerable rivulets and brooks, as if by art, that there be no deficiency in nature. In some places the winters are so mild that cattle need no fodder, and no where do they need much; It is said at Chillicothe, the present seat of government, that 5 cwt. of hay is more than sufficient to winter a cow.
The land is in general, of a rich black loam, producing all kinds of grain in the greatest plenty. Corn is raised to the admiration of all our eastern travelers; it is said to yield from 70 to 100 bushels per acre, and some say more. It produces wheat and rye, (when a little worn) beyond what is to be found in any of our New England States. Cotton is the natural production of the country. There is as great a variety of timber here, perhaps , as in any part of the world; it consists of white, black, yellow and Spanish oak, shagbark, and black walnut, hickory, butternut, black, white, and blue ash, hard and soft maple, cotton-tree, elm, Linn, cucumber tree, hackberry, sycamore, coffee-tree, etc. The coffee tree is the same as our imported mahogany, and bears a nut in taste much resembling our imported coffee. There are a few red cedars and pines in some places. Salt licks are to be found interspersed through the country: This must be considered by all as a peculiar blessing of Providence. The salt made from them is excellent, some of which I saw myself. Silver, copper, and lead mines are likewise found in plenty in many places. It is said that there is the richest and best copper mine on the Wabash that there is in the known world; and it is certain that there is silver and lead mines on the Scioto.
In some places a great plenty of coal pits are to be found; this will be in a short time of great advantage in making iron, as ore can easily be brought from the Allegheny Mountain. No country ever known exceeds this for game, and wild turkeys, it is universally allowed, are more plenty than the tame are in any of our eastern states; buffalo and deer are very plenty: the former of which are generally supposed to be the cattle made use of by the ancient inhabitants; there are likewise a great plenty of bears, wolves, foxes, raccoons, etc., etc. Excellent blue, red and white free stone and lime stone abound in many places. Prairies or natural meadows are numerous and some of them extensive; these yield grass spontaneously to the height of a man’s head, and some much higher; this land when tilled, produces wheat, rye, corn, oats, peas, barley, hemp, and flax in the most luxuriant plenty. Fruit trees of all kinds bear incredibly. The greatest curiosities of this country are old Forts and Mounds. I have seen the ruins of some of these Forts (the walls of which are 4 or 5 feet high) that contain ———————–. When or by whom they were built, tradition nor history gives any account; the trees on them are of equal size with the other timber. I have seen white oak trees on and within the walls of these Forts that were at least three feet in diameter. It is judges by the common way of computation, that these trees are 500 years old. The mounds or pyramids are in general about 20 feet base and about 15 feet high; yet there are some not so large, and some that are 20 feet base and 30 feet high. These mounds are filled with human bones, the size of which are very uncommon, such as was never known among Indians of our acquaintance: here are skull bones that will fill the largest crowned hat I ever saw; jaw bones that will completely set on over the largest visage, and from other bones in these mounds that are not entirely demolished, it is judged that there must have been men from 10 to 12 feet high, some say more. In these likewise are to be found, jugs, bottles, breast-plates, etc. Tradition gives no account of what race of beings these must have been, or when, or how, or in what manner they have been extinguished. It is however judged by some that they must have been of a giant race, and that some pestilence or war has swept them entirely off. However, it will forever remain a matter of wonder and admiration.
These mounds are all adjacent to the forts and nowhere else found.
The principal rivers, beginning at the eastern part of this territory, are the Muskingum, Hockhocking, Scioto, Miami, Wabash, and Illinois; the latter of which empties into the Mississippi, the other all empty into the Ohio. These universally abound with a great plenty of excellent fish: cat, carp, perch, and bass are the most numerous; the cat and bass it is said, often weigh from 30 to 80 lb. Besides these there are a great many more of less note.
By an ordinance of Congress this territory has been divided into two distinct governments; the line of division begins at the mouth of the big Miami, from thence follows the river to the head, thence to the mouth of the Miami of the Lakes. When either of these shall have 60,000 inhabitants, they are to be allowed to form their own constitution, provided it to be republican, and nothing in it repugnant to the federal constitution: they shall then be allowed to choose their own members of Congress, and have all the privileges of the other states. They are at present governed by a General Assembly and Legislative Council, without any guide to go by except a Governor appointed by Congress, who has the sole power of appointing judges during good behavior. By another act of Congress the land owned by the United States was exposed to public sale in April and May 1801: it could not be sold for less than two dollars per acre the one fourth in hand. What was not sold at public sale may now be had at private sale at two dollars per acre by paying the one-fourth down, the remainder in annual quarterly payments as before. This country is worthy of notice and justly admired and esteemed by all. Here the farmer will be more independent than in any other country, here he can raise all the necessaries of life and much more, here he can raise as good flax and hemp as are raised in any parts of Europe. The mulberry tree grows spontaneously and certainly the silk worm will flourish and do well; hence he may have plenty of silk. The industrious house wife by overseeing her domestics will cause the same to be manufactured. Here the fair sex will only be educated in the necessary accomplishments of life, science and arts will be the height of their ambition; each one will be emulous to excel in the polite art of making silks, linens, cambric, lawns, gauzes, etc. Here the industry of the fair will give elegancy at home, and fashions to the rest of the world.
April 12, 1801 – This day I left Mrs. Ferris and sat out for home; but to give the reader a particular description of the country through which I came, would swell this journal even to a volume. I shall only take notice of things which I think mostly merit our attention.
To observe the country I chose to go up the big Miami to Mad River, from thence to the forks of Scioto, etc. This day I rode through Hamilton on the big Miami containing about 40 elegant houses, and bids fair to be a place of great business; proceeded across the big Prairie, which is about 27 miles in length, and is divided near the middle by the Miami. Lodged at Mr. John Steele’s, a private house.
Monday 13 – I proceeded through Franklin, Dayton, followed Mad River to its source, struck across to Darby Rover, and on the 16th we came to Franklin, on the forks of Scioto. This town contains about 150 elegant houses, which have been all built within the space of two years.
Monday 20 – I arrived on the Muskingum, 60 miles N. of Ohio; this country is rather uneven yet not mountainous nor stony. The water here is equal to any in the world. The inhabitants are chiefly from the New England states. Here I tarried two days.
Tuesday 28 – This day early I crossed the Ohio, came to Mr. Edward Crawford’s in Charlestown, where I had left my horse when going down. Being unwell I tarried until Thursday.
Friday, May 1 – I arrived at Fort Pitt, now called Pittsburgh; this is a beautiful little town and a place of considerable business. It stands on the head of the Ohio, made by the junction of the rivers Monongahela which comes from the south, and the Allegheny which comes from the north.
Monday 4 – I arrived at Fort Franklin on the Allegheny and at the mouth of the French Creek, 68 miles north from Pittsburgh. The country in general is well adapted to the raising of wheat.
Thursday 7 – This morning I arrived at Fort Le Boeuf on French Creek. Le Boeuf is French and signifies fat cattle or moose; hence it takes its name. Here too are some excellent prairies. This day came to Colt’s station, a pretty little town called Greenfield, 13 miles S. of Lake Erie.
Friday 8 – I stored myself with provisions for three days, travelled to the S. bank of Lake Erie, lodged at Squire Robinson’s, about a mile west of New York line.
Saturday 9 – I had this morning to set out alone to travel 96 miles through the wilderness on the S. bank of the Lake. This, my reader, was a dreary journey.
Sunday 10 – Early this morning I met 170 cattle and 5 men bound for Presque Isle and New Connecticut. At about 10:00 o’clock I arrived at Cattaraugus, a large Indian settlement. The land on this river is much like that in the N.W Territory, and the land previous to this was, in general, very good for wheat. From this I had 36 miles to ride on the beach; in some places the high rocky banks were such that I was obliged to ride where the water was 4 or 5 feet deep. Lodged this night at an Indian camp – the Indians appeared very friendly.
Monday 11 – This morning I arrived at Buffalo Creek, near the mouth of the lake. This day I left my horse, crossed the lake to Fort Erie, spent the day with some British officers, returned at night.
Tuesday 14 – I arrived at Capt. Lawrence Townsend’s in New Jerusalem, commonly called Jemima Wilkinson’s settlement. Jemima Wilkerson is held by her adherents, 152 families, as a priestess and prophetess; they, in imitation of the Apostles and primitive Christians, hold all things in common, and in their conversation use the simple and undisguised style of the Quakers. Strange it is indeed, that this woman should have so many followers, who believe her sent from God, and capable of holding converse with celestial spirits!
Saturday, May 23 – This evening returned to Lake George, in good health, and found my family all enjoying the same blessing.
A brief account of the present state of
KENTUCKY is bounded N.W. by the Ohio, W. by Cumberland River and the State of Tennessee, S. by North Carolina, and E. by Sandy River, and a line drawn due S. from its source, which separates it from Virginia. This country was formed for opulence, for ease and for social happiness. From the richness of the soil, and the temperature of the climate, which exceeds any other of the United Sates, all the various grains and vegetables of the Atlantic States are raised here in profuse abundance; in many instances even to exceed credibility; wheat, rye, corn, oats, peas, barley, hemp, flax, and even cotton are raised to astonishment. It is asserted by gentlemen of veracity, that corn often exceeds one hundred bushels per acre. From the shortness of the winters, which are seldom more than two months, and never exceed three, and the soil being naturally inclined to grass, cattle are raised with greater ease and less expense than in the Northern States; and from the great plenty of corn, the farmer can and does keep his cattle, horses, sheep and hogs, continually fat throughout the whole year, which has enlarged their breed of domestic animals, and made them superior to those of most of the other states. It has been long thought the Silk Worm would flourish here, and experience for a few years past, proves the conjecture not to be ill-founded. The timber which appears to be the most natural to this state is the sugar tree, black and honey locust, white and black mulberry, and the paupaw; besides these, there are great quantities of other timber, which consists of wild cherry of a large size. “The buck-eye, an exceeding soft wood, is the horse chestnut of Europe. The magnolia bears a beautiful blossom, of a rich and exquisite fragrance. Such is the variety and beauty of the flowering shrubs and plants which grow spontaneously in this country that in the proper season the wilderness appears in blossom.”
As far as yet been discovered, the eastern part of the state lies upon a bed of solid limestone rock, in general about ten feet below the surface of the earth, except in valleys where the earth is not so deep. The northern part of this state, along the banks of the Ohio, in breadth from ten to 15 miles, is somewhat hilly; the other parts are agreeably uneven, gentle rises and descents at no great distance. The principal rivers are the Sandy, Licking, Kentucky, Salt, Green, and Cumberland. “These again branch in various directions, into rivulets of different magnitudes, fertilizing the country in all its parts.”
Springs of the greatest note are “the higher and lower blue-springs, on Licking River — the big-bone-lick, Drenson’s lick, and Bullet’s lick, at Saltsburg.” The last of these licks has supplied this country with salt at a low price. Besides these, there are three others of the bitumen kind, they form no stream but empty into one common reservoir: The oil gathered from them answers all the purposes of the best train oil; and it is thought to be efficacious for the rheumatism, sprains, bruises, and the asthma or shortness of breath, scald-heads and burns. The common way of gathering this oil is by sinking a blanket or piece of flannel, and ringing it over a tub or kettle.
Nature has been very bountiful in furnishing Kentucky with some of the greatest curiosities ever known. The high perpendicular banks of Kentucky and Dick’s river certainly claim a superior rank among the natural curiosities of the world: Here the eye of the traveler beholds, with astonishment, a rock of 3 or 400 feet perpendicular, appearing like an artificial canal, in some parts of the limestone kind, and in others of fine marble and curious strata.
The banks of the rivers are covered with large red-cedar groves.
The caves of Kentucky are considered by all as the most remarkable phenomena; no one as I have ever heard has yet attempted to say whether they are the work of art or of nature. These caves are between two and three miles in length in solid limestone rock, and about 12 or 15 feet high, supported by curious pillars and arches; they have in all cases perpendicular sides for about 4 feet with a platform, then that widens to about 5 feet, then perpendicular to the top, and as smooth as if polished by the most curious artificer. They are three in number, and have all wells or springs and subterraneous brooks that pass through them. They are made use of, in the summer season, by the inhabitants living near, as storehouses for butter, meat, etc. The next thing which claims our attention is the sink or deep spring a little west of Big Licking.
This is 75 fathom deep, and about 18 inches diameter at the top. It was found in the year 1798, by a gentleman looking hogs after a light snow; he tracked one that accidentally fell into it. He immediately made a platform, and erected a curb, and from this spring drew, perhaps, the coldest water that ever came from the bowels of the earth.
But as to social happiness nature has here been counteracted: Here are inhabitants boasting Christianity, boasting independence, boasting Liberty and Equality, boasting republicanism, whilst, at the same time, they are, themselves, tyrants and despots; degrading one part of the human species below that of brutes, and denying that they have human feelings, whilst they themselves live in affluence and ease. Oh! How I do blush, whilst I relate facts that are incredible to all, who have not been eye witness of them. Here it is common to see those pretended patriots, all frantic with rage, drag from among their affrighted slaves, one of them trembling and naked, bind both his hands with a cord, stretch him up, until his feet will but just touch the ground, bind both his feet in like manner, crowd a heavy rail between his legs, to prevent his wreathing; then with oaths, that one would think would frighten even the infernal spirits, begin by applying the hickory or cow skin, until there is not a piece of skin, even the width of your finger, from his shoulders to his hips; all the while the poor wretch cries, “for lord Jesus sake, pray don’t master, pray don’t master.” But this imp of the furies, as if hell was not satisfied with pain, without exquisite torment, prepares a cup of fine salt and applies it to the wounds, this makes the poor victim of his rage lament in the most piteous tone of voice, as if ready to expire; but his hard hearted master, callous to pity, again applies the whip; this is called pickling. O poor wretches! How often have I shed tears of compassion for your sakes without being able to relieve you. O ye inhabitants of the southern states! How can you hope for mercy, when you yourselves do not show it? “He that admits no right but force, no justice but superior violence, arms every man against himself, and justifies all excesses. If it be lawful to enjoy because we can; if we may seize the property of another, insult his person, or force him to labor for our luxuries or caprice, merely because he is weaker; this principle will be equally fatal to ourselves.” It justifies your slaves, the instant they become the stronger, in taking you, your wives and children, and separate you from each other, force you to labor to the music of whips and chains, from 4 o’clock in the morning till 8 at night, without refreshment but a little Indian meal and water, half naked (yes on some plantations quite naked) half-starved and cooped up together at night in a cold, dirty hovel, covered with “wounds, bruises, and purifying sores:” robbed of everything that is dear; flogged for praying, and tortured for preaching consolation to your fellow sufferers; and after having exhausted your youth in servitude, you are abandoned in old age, to wretchedness and disease. This is not an exaggerated statement of the case, but a real and true representation of things as they are in Kentucky and some of the other southern states of America, in the year 1801. O shame! Where hast thou fled!
“Oh most degrading of all ills that waits
On man, a mourner in his best estate,
All other sorrows virtue may endure,
And find submission more than half a cure.
Grief is itself a medicine, and bestowed
To improve the fortitude that bears a load;
To teach the wanderer, as his woes increase,
The paths of wisdom – all whose paths are peace.
But Slavery, virtue dreads it as her grave,
Patience itself is meanness in a slave,
Nature imprints upon whatever we see
That has a heart and life in it — BE FREE!”
The author would not be understood to represent that there are no sincere Christians in Kentucky – he believes there are many who sincerely worship God – who in their hearts disdain tyranny and oppression, and disapprove of Slavery, yet they are the minority. Slavery is chiefly carried on among the Virginia and Carolina Settlers.
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