Sunday, October 11, 2009

Lawson Crosses Proto-Orange County

Following is the part of John Lawson’s famous New Voyage to Carolina (1710). Lawson’s account is a classic and I have little to add to it. This part of the book describes Lawson’s journey from Salisbury, NC to Hillsborough, NC along the Native Trading Path and the parts in [brackets] are my comments or interpretations about his description. Douglass Rights wrote the seminal interpretation of Lawson’s journey in the early 20th century and many of my comments are based on Rights’ interpretation.

Monday.

On Monday Morning, our whole Company, with the Horses, set out from the Sapona-Indian Town [Salisbury], after having seen some of the Locust, which is gotten thereabouts, the same Sort that bears Honey. Going over several Creeks, very convenient for Water-Mills, about 8 Miles from the Town, we pass'd over a very pretty River, call'd Rocky River, a fit Name, having a Ridge of high Mountains running from its Banks, to the Eastward; and disgorging itself into Sapona-River [the Yadkin]; so that there is a most pleasant and convenient Neck of Land, betwixt both Rivers, lying upon a Point, where many thousand Acres may be fenced in, without much Cost or Labour. You can scarce go a Mile, without meeting with one of these small swift Currents, here being no Swamps to be found, but pleasant, dry Roads all over the Country. The Way that we went this day, was as full of Stones, as any which Craven, in the West of Yorkshire, could afford, and having nothing but Moggisons [moccasins] on my Feet, I was so lam'd by this stony Way, that I thought I must have taken up some Stay in those Parts. We went, this day, not above 15 or 20 Miles. After we had supp'd, and all lay down to sleep, there came a Wolf close to the Fire-side, where we lay. My Spaniel soon discover'd him, at which, one of our Company fir'd a Gun at the Beast; but, I believe, there was a Mistake in the loading of it, for it did him no Harm. The Wolf stay'd till he had almost loaded again, but the Bitch making a great Noise, at last left us and went aside. We had no sooner laid down, but he approach'd us again, yet was more shy, so that we could not get a Shot at him.

Tuesday.

Next day, we had 15 Miles farther to the Keyauwees. The Land is more mountainous, but extremely pleasant, and an excellent Place for the breeding Sheep, Goats, and Horses; or Mules, if the English were once brought to the Experience of the Usefulness of those Creatures. The Valleys are here very rich. At Noon, we pass'd over such another stony River, as that eight Miles from Sapona. This is call'd Heighwaree [the Uwharrie], and affords as good blue Stone for Mill-Stones, as that from Cologn, good Rags, some Hones, and large Pebbles, in great abundance, besides Free-Stone of several Sorts, all very useful. I knew one of these Hones made use of by an Acquaintance of mine, and it prov'd rather better than any from Old Spain, or elsewhere. The Veins of Marble are very large and curious on this River, and the Banks thereof.

Five Miles from this River, to the N. W. stands the Keyauwees Town. [Rights suggests that Lawson meant NE not NW; the town was therefore in the Caraway Mountains north of Randleman.] They are fortify'd in, with wooden Puncheons, like Sapona, being a People much of the same Number. Nature hath so fortify'd this Town, with Mountains, that were it a Seat of War, it might easily be made impregnable; having large Corn-Fields joining to their Cabins, and a Savanna near the Town, at the Foot of these Mountains, that is capable of keeping some hundred Heads of Cattle. And all this environ'd round with very high Mountains, so that no hard Wind ever troubles these Inhabitants. Those high Clifts have no Grass growing on them, and very few Trees, which are very short, and stand at a great Distance one from another. The Earth is of a red Colour, and seems to me to be wholly design'd by Nature for the 'Production of Minerals, being of too hot a Quality, to suffer any Verdure upon its Surface. These Indians make use of Lead-Ore, to paint their Faces withal, which they get in the neighbouring Mountains. As for the refining of Metals, the Indians are wholly ignorant of it, being content with the Realgar. But if it be my Chance, once more to visit these Hilly Parts, I shall make a longer Stay amongst them: For were a good Vein of Lead found out, and work'd by an ingenious Hand, it might be of no small Advantage to the Undertaker, there being great Convenience for smelting, either by Bellows or Reverberation; and the Working of these Mines might discover some that are much richer.

At the Top of one of these Mountains, is a Cave that 100 Men may fit very conveniently to dine in; whether natural, or artificial, I could not learn. [No one has ever explained this claim.] There is a fine Bole between this Place, and the Saps. These Valleys thus hemm'd in with Mountains, would (doubtless) prove a good place for propagating some sort of Fruits, that our Easterly Winds commonly blast. The Vine could not miss of thriving well here; but we of the Northern Climate are neither Artists, nor curious, in propagating that pleasant and Vegetable. Near the Town, is such another Current, as Heighwaree. We being six in Company, divided ourselves into Two Parties; and it was my Lot to be at the House of Keyauwees Jack, who is King of that People. He is a Congeree-Indian, and ran away when he was a Boy. He got this Government by Marriage with the Queen; the Female Issue carrying the Heritage, for fear of Impostors; the Savages well knowing, how much Frailty possesses the Indian Women, betwixt the Garters and the Girdle. [Lawson is withal racist - although less so than some of the English - but this comment is so offensive that I have to call him out for it.]

Wednesday.

The next day, having some occasion to write, the Indian King, who saw me, believ'd that he could write as well as I. Whereupon, I wrote a Word, and gave it him to copy, which he did with more Exactness, than any European could have done, that was illiterate. It was so well, that he who could read mine, might have done the same by his. Afterwards, he took great Delight in making Fish-hooks of his own Invention, which would have been a good Piece for an Antiquary to have puzzled his Brains withal, in tracing out the Characters of all the Oriental Tongues. He sent for several Indians to his Cabin, to look at his Handy-work, and both he and they thought, I could read his Writing as well as I could my own. I had a Manual in my Pocket, that had King David's Picture in it, in one of his private Retirements. The Indian ask'd me, Who that Figure represented? I told him, It was the Picture of a good King, that liv'd according to the Rules of Morality, doing to all as he would be done by, ordering all his Life to the Service of the Creator of all things; and being now above us all, in Heaven, with God Almighty, who had rewarded him with all the delightful Pleasures imaginable in the other World, for his Obedience to him in this; I concluded, with telling them, that we received nothing here below, as Food, Raiment, &c. but what came from that Omnipotent Being. They listned to my Discourse with a profound Silence, assuring me, that they believ'd what I said to be true. No Man living will ever be able to make these Heathens sensible of the Happiness of a future State, except he now and then mentions some lively carnal Representation, which may quicken their Apprehensions, and make them thirst after such a gainful Exchange; for, were the best Lecture that ever was preach'd by Man, given to an ignorant sort of People, in a more learned Style, than their mean Capacities are able to understand, the Intent would prove ineffectual, and the Hearers would be left in a greater Labyrinth than their Teacher found them in. But dispense the Precepts of our Faith according to the Pupil's Capacity, and there is nothing in our Religion, but what an indifferent Reason is, in some measure, able to comprehend; tho' a New-England Minister blames the French Jesuits for this way of Proceeding, as being quite contrary to a true Christian Practice, and affirms it to be no ready, or true Method, to establish a lively Representation of our Christian Belief amongst these Infidels.

All the Indians hereabouts carefully preserve the Bones of the Flesh they eat, and burn them, as being of Opinion, that if they omitted that Custom, the Game would leave their Country, and they should not be able to maintain themselves by their Hunting. Most of these Indians wear Mustachoes, or Whiskers, which is rare; by reason the Indians are a People that commonly pull the Hair of their Faces, and other Parts, up by the Roots, and suffer none to grow. Here is plenty of Chesnuts [we see few of them today owing to the Chestnut Blight], which are rarely found in Carolina, and never near the Sea, or Salt-Water; tho' they are frequently in such Places in Virginia.

At the other House, where our Fellow-Travellers lay, they had provided a Dish, in great Fashion amongst the Indians, which was Two young Fawns, taken out of the Doe's Bellies, and boil'd in the same slimy Bags Nature had plac'd them in, and one of the Country-Hares, stew'd with the Guts in her Belly, and her Skin with the Hair on. This new-fashion'd Cookery wrought Abstinence in our Fellow-Travellers, which I somewhat wonder'd at, because one of them made nothing of eating Allegators, as heartily as if it had been Pork and Turneps. The Indians dress most things after the Wood-cock Fashion, never taking the Guts out. At the House we lay at, there was very good Entertainment of Venison, Turkies, and Bears; and which is customary amongst the Indians, the Queen had a Daughter by a former Husband, who was the beautifullest Indian I ever saw, and had an Air of Majesty with her, quite contrary to the general Carriage of the Indians. She was very kind to the English, during our Abode, as well as her Father and Mother.

Thursday.

This Morning, most of our Company having some Inclination to go straight away for Virginia, when they left this Place; I and one more took our leaves of them, resolving (with God's Leave) to see North-Carolina, one of the Indians setting us in our way. The rest being indifferent which way they went, desired us, by all means, to leave a Letter for them, at the Achonechy-Town [Hillsborough]. The Indian that put us in our Path, had been a Prisoner amongst the Sinnagers; but had out-run them, although they had cut his Toes, and half his Feet away, which is a Practice common amongst them. They first raise the Skin, then cut away half the Feet, and so wrap the Skin over the Stumps, and make a present Cure of the Wounds. This commonly disables them from making their Escape, they being not so good Travellers as before, and the Impression of their Half-Feet making it easy to trace them. However, this Fellow was got clear of them, but had little Heart to go far from home, and carry'd always a Case of Pistols in his Girdle, besides a Cutlass, and a Fuzee. Leaving the rest of our Company at the Indian-Town, we travell'd, that day, about 20 Miles, in very cold, frosty Weather; and pass'd over two pretty Rivers, something bigger than Heighwaree, but not quite so stony. We took these two Rivers to make one of the Northward Branches of Cape-Fair River, but afterwards found our Mistake.

Friday.

The next day, we travell'd over very good Land, but full of Free-Stone, and Marble, which pinch'd our Feet severely. [Presumably by marble lawson means large chunks of quartz which are common in some areas of the Piedmont.] We took up our Quarters in a sort of Savanna-Ground, that had very few Trees in it. The Land was good, and had several Quarries of Stone, but not loose, as the others us'd to be.

Saturday.

Next Morning, we got our Breakfasts of Parch'd Corn, having nothing but that to subsist on for above 100 Miles. All the Pine-Trees were vanish'd, for we had seen none for two days. [Other authorities seem to agree that Pine trees were not nearly so common in Orange County 250 years ago.] We pass'd through a delicate rich Soil this day; no great Hills, but pretty Risings, and Levels, which made a beautiful Country. We likewise pass'd over three Rivers this day; the first about the bigness of Rocky River, the other not much differing in Size. Then we made not the least Question, but we had pass'd over the North-West Branch of Cape-Fair [Cape Fear], travelling that day above 30 Miles. We were much taken with the Fertility and Pleasantness of the Neck of Land between these two Branches, and no less pleas'd, that we had pass'd the River, which us'd to frighten Passengers from fording it. At last, determining to rest on the other side of a Hill, which we saw before us; when we were on the Top thereof, there appear'd to us such another delicious, rapid Stream, as that of Sapona, having large Stones, about the bigness of an ordinary House, lying up and down the River. [Authorities agree that this was somewhere near Swepsonville – perhaps in what is now that village or perhaps a few miles north.] As the Wind blew very cold at N. W. and we were very weary, and hungry, the Swiftness of the Current gave us some cause to fear; but, at last, we concluded to venture over that Night. Accordingly, we stripp'd, and with great Difficulty, (by God's Assistance) got safe to the North-side of the famous Hau-River [Haw River], by some called Reatkin; the Indians differing in the Names of Place, according to their several Nations. It is call'd Hau-River, from the Sissipahau Indians, who dwell upon this Stream, which is one of the main Branches of Cape-Fair, there being rich Land enough to contain some Thousands of Families [the Haw Old Fields or Hawfields]; for which Reason, I hope, in a short time, it will be planted. This River is much such another as Sapona; both seeming to run a vast way up the Country. Here is plenty of good Timber, and especially, of a Scaly-bark'd Oak [White Oak]; And as there is Stone enough in both Rivers, and the Land is extraordinary Rich, no Man that will be content within the Bounds of Reason, can have any grounds to dislike it. And they that are otherwise, are the best Neighbours, when farthest off. [Amen.]

Sunday.

As soon as it was day, we set out for the Achonechy- Town [Hillsborough], it being, by Estimation, 20 Miles off, which, I believe, is pretty exact. We were got about half way, (meeting great Gangs of Turkies) when we saw, at a Distance, 30 loaded Horses, coming on the Road, with four or five Men, on other Jades, driving them. We charg'd our Piece, and went up to them: Enquiring, whence they came from? They told us, from Virginia. The leading Man's Name was Massey, who was born about Leeds in Yorkshire. He ask'd, from whence we came? We told him. Then he ask'd again, Whether we wanted any thing that he had? telling us, we should be welcome to it. We accepted of Two Wheaten Biskets, and a little Ammunition. He advised us, by all means, to strike down the Country for Ronoack, and not think of Virginia, because of the Sinnagers, of whom they were afraid, tho' so well arm'd, and numerous. They persuaded us also, to call upon one Enoe Will, as we went to Adshusheer, for that he would conduct us safe among the English, giving him the Character of a very faithful Indian, which we afterwards found true by Experience. The Virginia-Men asking our Opinion of the Country we were then in? we told them, it was a very pleasant one. [This was the Haw Old Fields.] They were all of the same Opinion, and affirm'd, That they had never seen 20 Miles of such extraordinary rich Land, lying all together, like that betwixt Hau-River and the Achonechy Town. Having taken our Leaves of each other, we set forward; and the Country, thro' which we pass'd, was so delightful, that it gave us a great deal of Satisfaction. About Three a Clock, we reach'd the Town, and the Indians presently brought us good fat Bear, and Venison, which was very acceptable at that time. Their Cabins were hung with a good sort of Tapestry, as fat Bear, and barbakued or dried Venison; no Indians having greater Plenty of Provisions than these. The Savages do, indeed, still possess the Flower of Carolina, the English enjoying only the Fag-end of that fine Country. We had not been in the Town 2 Hours, when Enoe-Will came into the King's Cabin; which was our Quarters. We ask'd him, if he would conduct us to the English, and what he would have for his Pains; he answer'd, he would go along with us, and for what he was to have, he left that to our Discretion.

Monday.

The next Morning, we set out, with Enoe-Will, towards Adshusheer [a village NE of Durham], leaving the Virginia Path [the Native Trading Path], and striking more to the Eastward [probably along the Fish Dam Road – more or less Old NC 10], for Ronoack. Several Indians were in our Company belonging to Will's Nation, who are the Shoccories, mixt with the Enoe-Indians, and those of the Nation of Adshusheer. Enoe-Will is their chief Man, and rules as far as the Banks of Reatkin [the Haw]. It was a sad stony Way to Adshusheer. We went over a small River by Achonechy, and in this 14 Miles, through several other Streams, which empty themselves into the Branches of Cape-Fair. The stony Way made me quite lame; so that I was an Hour or two behind the rest; but honest Will would not leave me, but bid me welcome when we came to his House, feasting us with hot Bread, and Bears-Oil; which is wholsome Food for Travellers. There runs a pretty Rivulet by this Town. Near the Plantation, I saw a prodigious overgrown Pine-Tree, having not seen any of that Sort of Timber for above 125 Miles: They brought us 2 Cocks, and pull'd their larger Feathers off, never plucking the lesser, but singeing them off. I took one of these Fowls in my Hand, to make it cleaner than the Indian had, pulling out his Guts and Liver, which I laid in a Bason; notwithstanding which, he kept such a Struggling for a considerable time, that I had much ado to hold him in my Hands. The Indians laugh'd at me, and told me, that Enoe-Will had taken a Cock of an Indian that was not at home, and the Fowl was design'd for another Use. I conjectur'd, that he was design'd for an Offering to their God, who, they say, hurts them, (which is the Devil.) In this Struggling, he bled afresh, and there issued out of his Body more Blood than commonly such Creatures afford. Notwithstanding all this, we cook'd him, and eat him; and if he was design'd for him, cheated the Devil. The Indians keep many Cocks, but seldom above one Hen, using very often such wicked Sacrifices, as I mistrusted this Fowl was design'd for.

Our Guide and Landlord Enoe-Will was of the best and most agreeable Temper that ever I met with in an Indian, being always ready to serve the English, not out of Gain, but real Affection; which makes him apprehensive of being poison'd by some wicked Indians, and was therefore very earnest with me, to promise him to revenge his Death, if it should so happen. He brought some of his chief Men into his Cabin, and 2 of them having a Drum, and a Rattle, sung by us, as we lay in Bed, and struck up their Musick to serenade and welcome us to their Town. And tho' at last, we fell asleep, yet they continu'd their Consort till Morning. These Indians are fortify'd in, as the former, and are much addicted to a Sport they call Chenco, which is carry'd on with a Staff and a Bowl made of Stone, which they trundle upon a smooth Place, like a Bowling-Green, made for that Purpose, as I have mention'd before.

Tuesday.

Next Morning, we set out, with our Guide, and several other Indians, who intended to go to the English, and buy Rum. We design'd for a Nation about 40 Miles from Adshusheer, call'd the Lower Quarter: The first Night, we lay in a rich Perkoson, or low Ground, that was hard-by a Creek, and good dry Land.

Wednesday.

The next day, we went over several Tracts of rich Land, but mix'd with Pines and other indifferent Soil. In our way, there stood a great Stone about the Size of a large Oven, and hollow; this the Indians took great Notice of, putting some Tobacco into the Concavity, and spitting after it. I ask'd them the reason of their so doing, but they made me no Answer. In the Evening, we pass'd over a pleasant Rivulet, with a fine gravelly Bottom, having come over such another that Morning. On the other side of this River, we found the Indian Town, which was a Parcel of nasty smoaky Holes, much like the Waterrees; their Town having a great Swamp running directly through the Middle thereof. The Land here begins to abate of its Height, and has some few Swamps. Most of these Indians have but one Eye; but what Mischance or Quarrel has bereav'd them of the other I could not learn. They were not so free to us, as most of the other Indians had been; Victuals being somewhat scarce among them. However, we got enough to satisfy our Appetites. I saw, among these Men, very long Arrows, headed with Pieces of Glass, which they had broken from Bottles. They had shap'd them neatly, like the Head of a Dart; but which way they did it, I can't tell. We had not been at this Town above an Hour, when two of our Company, that had bought a Mare of John Stewart, came up to us, having receiv'd a Letter by one of Will's Indians, who was very cautious, and asked a great many Questions, to certifie him of the Person, e'er he would deliver the Letter. They had left the Trader, and one that came from South-Carolina with us, to go to Virginia; these Two being resolved to go to Carolina with us.

Thursday.

This Day fell much Rain, so we staid at the Indian Town.

Friday.

This Morning, we set out early, being four English-Men, besides several Indians. We went 10 Miles, and were then stopp'd by the Freshes of Enoe-River, which had rais'd it so high, that we could not pass over, till it was fallen, I enquir'd of my Guide, Where this River disgorg'd it self? He said, It was Enoe-River, and run into a Place call'd Enoe-Bay, near his Country, which he left when he was a Boy; by which I perceiv'd,he was one of the Cores by Birth: This being a Branch of Neus-River.

Saturday.

This Day, our Fellow-Traveller's Mare ran away from him; wherefore, Will went back as far as the lower Quarter, and brought her back.

Sunday.

The next Day, early, came two Tuskeraro Indians to the other side of the River, but could not get over. They talk'd much to us, but we understood them not. In the Afternoon, Will came with the Mare, and had some Discourse with them; they told him, The English, to whom he was going, were very wicked People; and, That they threatned the Indians for Hunting near their Plantations. These Two Fellows were going among the Schoccores and Achonechy Indians, to sell their Wooden Bowls and Ladles for Raw-Skins, which they make great Advantage of, hating that any of these Westward Indians should have any Commerce with the English, which would prove a Hinderance to their Gains. Their Stories deterr'd an Old Indian and his Son, from going any farther; but Will told, us, Nothing they had said should frighten him, he believing them to be a couple of Hog-s[t]ealers; and that the English only sought Restitution of their Losses, by them; and that this was the only ground for their Report. Will had a Slave, a Sissipahau-Indian by Nation, who killed us several Turkies, and other Game, on which we feasted.

Monday.

This River is near as large as Reatkin; the South-side having curious Tracts of good Land, the Banks high, and Stone-Quarries. The Tuskeruros being come to us, we ventur'd over the River, which we found to be a strong Current, and the Water about Breast-high. However, we all got safe to the North-Shore, which is but poor, white, sandy Land, and bears no Timber, but small shrubby Oaks. We went about 10 Miles, and sat down at the Falls of a large Creek, where lay mighty Rocks, the Water making a strange Noise, as if a great many Water-Mills were going at once. I take this to be the Falls of Neus-Creek, called by the Indians, Wee quo Whom [Falls of Neuse]. We lay here all Night. My Guide Will desiring to see the Book that I had about me, I lent it him; and as he soon found the Picture of King David, he asked me several Questions concerning the Book, and Picture, which I resolv'd him, and invited him to become a Christian. He made me a very sharp Reply, assuring me, That he lov'd the English extraordinary well, and did believe their Ways to be very good for those that had already practs'd them, and had been brought up therein; But as for himself, he was too much in Years to think of a Change, esteeming it not proper for Old People to admit of such an Alteration. However, he told me, If I would take his Son Jack, who was then about 14 Years of Age, and teach him to talk in that Book, and make Paper speak, which they call our Way of Writing, he would wholly resign him to my Tuition; telling me, he was of Opinion, I was very well affected to the Indians.

Tuesday.

The next Morning, we set out early, and I perceiv'd that these Indians were in some fear of Enemies; for they had an Old Man with them, who was very cunning and circumspect, wheresoever he saw any Marks of Footing, or of any Fire that had been made; going out of his Way, very often, to look for these Marks. We went, this day, above 30 Miles, over a very level Country, and most Pine Land, yet intermix'd with some Quantities of Marble; a good Range for Cattel, though very indifferent for Swine. We had now lost our rapid Streams, and were come to slow, dead Waters, of a brown Colour, proceeding from the Swamps, much like the Sluices in Holland, where the Track-Scoots go along. In the Afternoon, we met two Tuskeruros, who told us, That there was a Company of Hunters not far of, and if we walk'd stoutly, we might reach them that Night. But Will and He that own'd the Mare, being gone before, and the Old Indian tired, we rested, that Night, in the Woods, making a good light Fire, Wood being very plentiful in these Parts.

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