Journey to the Land of Eden: in the Year 1733

An Electronic Edition · William Byrd II of Westover (1674-1744)

Original Source: The Westover manuscripts containing the history of the dividing line betwixt Virginia and North Carolina, a journey to the land of Eden, A.D. 1733, and a progress to the mines written from 1728 to 1736. Petersburg [Va.]: Printed by Edmund and Julian C. Ruffin, 1841.

Copyright 2003. This text is freely available provided the text is distributed with the header information provided.

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September 11th. Having recommended my family to the
protection of the Almighty, I crossed the river with two servants and four
horses, and rode to Col. Mumford’s. There I met my friend, Mr. Banister, who
was to be the kind companion of my travels. I stayed dinner with the good
colonel, while Mr. Banister made the best of his way home, to get his equipage
ready, in order to join me the next day. After dining plentifully, and wishing
all that was good to the household, I proceeded to major Mumford’s, who had
also appointed to go along with me. I was the more obliged to him, because he
made me the compliment to leave the arms of a pretty wife, to lie on the cold
ground for my sake. She seemed to chide me with her eyes, for coming to take
her bedfellow from her, now the cold weather came on, and to make my peace, I
was forced to promise to take an abundance of care of him, in order to restore
him safe and sound to her embraces.1.

12th. After the major had cleared his pipes, in calling with
much authority about him, he made a shift to truss up his baggage about nine
o’clock. Near the same hour my old friend and fellow traveller, Peter Jones,
came to us completely accountred. Then we fortified ourselves with a
beef-steak, kissed our landlady for good luck, and mounted about ten. The major
took one Robin Bolling with him, as squire of his body, as well as conductor of
his baggage. Tom Short had promised to attend me, but had married a wife and
could not come. We crossed Hatcher’s run, Gravelly run, Stony creek, and in the
distance of about twenty miles reached Sapponi chapel, where Mr. Banister
joined us. Thus agreeably reinforced we proceeded ten miles further, to major
Embry’s, on the south side of Nottoway river. The major was ill of a purging
and vomiting, attended with a fever which had brought him low; but I prescribed
him a gallon or two of chicken broth, which washed him as clean as a gun, and
quenched his fever. Here major Mayo met us, well equipped for a march into the
woods, bringing a surveyor’s tent, that would shelter a small troop. Young Tom
Jones also repaired hither to make his excuse; but old Tom Jones, by the
privilege of his age, neither came nor sent, so that we were not so strong as
we intended, being disappointed of three of our ablest foresters. The
entertainment we met with was the less sumptuous by reason of our landlord’s
indisposition. On this occasion we were as little troublesome as possible, by
sending part of our company to Richard Birch’s, who lives just by the bridge
over the river. We sent for an old Indian called Shacco- Will, living about
seven miles off, who reckoned himself seventy-eight years old. This fellow
pretended he could conduct us to a silver mine, that lies either upon Eno
river, or a creek of it, not far from where the Tuscaroras once lived. But by
some circumstances in his story, it seems to be rather a lead than a silver
mine. However, such as it is, he promised to go and show it to me whenever I
pleased. To comfort his heart, I gave him a bottle of rum, with which he made
himself very happy, and all the family very miserable by the horrible noise he
made all night.2.

13th. Our landlord had great relief from my remedy, and found
himself easy this morning. On this account we took our departure with more
satisfaction, about nine, and having picked up our friends at Mr. Birch’s,
pursued our journey over Quoique creek, and Sturgeon run, as far as Brunswick
court house, about twelve miles beyond Nottoway. By the way, I sent a runner
half a mile out of the road to Col. Drury Stith’s, who was so good as to come
to us. We cheered our hearts with three bottles of pretty good Madeira, which
made Drury talk very hopefully of his copper mine. We easily prevailed with him
to let us have his company, upon condition we would take the mine in our way.
From thence we proceeded to Meherrin river, which lies eight miles beyond the
court house, and in our way forded Great creek. For fear of being belated, we
called not at my quarter, where Don Pedro is overseer, and lives in good repute
amongst his neighbours. In compliment to the little major we went out of our
way, to lie at a settlement of his upon Cock’s creek, four miles short of
Roanoke. Our fare here was pretty coarse, but Mr. Banister and I took
possession of the bed, while the rest of the company lay in bulk upon the
floor. This night the little major made the first discovery of an impatient and
peevish temper, equally unfit both for a traveller and a husband. 3.

14th. In the morning my friend Tom Wilson made me a visit,
and gave me his parole that he would meet us at Blue Stone Castle. We took
horse about nine, and in the distance of ten miles reached a quarter of Col.
Stith’s, under the management of John Tomasin. This plantation lies on the west
side of Stith’s creek, which was so full of water, by reason of a fresh in the
river, that we could not ford it, but we and our baggage were paddled over in a
canoe, and our horses swam by our sides. After staying here an hour, with some
of Diana’s maids of honour, we crossed Miles’ creek a small distance off, and
at the end of eight miles were met by a tall, meager figure, which I took at
first for an apparition, but it proved to be Col. Stith’s miner. I concluded
that the unwholesome vapours arising from the copper mine had made this
operator such a skeleton, but upon inquiry understood it was sheer famine had
brought him so low. He told us his stomach had not been blessed with one morsel
of meat for more than three weeks, and that too he had been obliged to short
allowance of bread, by reason corn was scarce and to be fetched from Tomasin’s,
which was ten long miles from the mine where he lived. However, in spite of
this spare diet, the man was cheerful, and uttered no complaint. Being
conducted by him, we reached the mines about five o’clock, and pitched our
tents, for the first time, there being yet no building erected but a log-house,
to shelter the miner and his two negroes. We examined the mine and found it
dipped from cast [sic: east?] to west, and showed but a slender vein, embodied
in a hard rock of white spar. The shaft they had opened was about twelve feet
deep, and six over. I saw no more than one peck of good ore above ground, and
that promised to be very rich. The engineer seemed very sanguine, and had not
the least doubt but his employer’s fortune was made. He made us the compliment
of three blasts, and we filled his belly with good beef in return, which in his
hungry circumstances was the most agreeable present we could make him. 4.

15th. It rained in the morning, which made us decamp later
than we intended, but the clouds clearing away about ten, we wished good luck
to the mine and departed. We left Col. Stith there to keep fast with his miner,
and directed our course through the woods to Boucher’s creek, which hath its
name from an honest fellow that lives upon it. This place is about six miles
from Col. Stith’s works, and can also boast of a very fair show of copper ore.
It is dug out of the side of a hill, that rises gradually from the creek to the
house. The good man was from home himself; but his wife, who was as old as one
of the Sibyls, refreshed us with an ocean of milk. By the strength of that
entertainment, we proceeded to Mr. Mumford’s quarter, about five miles off,
where Joseph Colson is overseer. Here our thirsty companions raised their
drooping spirits with a cheerful dram, and having wet both eyes, we rode on
seven miles farther to Blue Stone Castle, five whereof were through my own
land, that is to say, all above Sandy creek. My land there in all extends ten
miles upon the river; and three charming islands, namely, Sapponi, Occaneeche,
and Totero, run along the whole length of it. The lowest of these islands is
three miles long, the next four, and the uppermost three, divided from each
other by only a narrow strait. The soil is rich in all of them, the timber
large, and a kind of pea, very grateful to cattle and horses, holds green all
the winter. Roanoke river is divided by these islands; that part which runs on
the north side is about eighty yards, and that on the south more than one
hundred. A large fresh will overflow the lower part of these islands, but never
covers all, so that the cattle may always recover a place of security. The
middlemost island, called Occaneeche island, has several fields in it where
Occaneeche Indians formerly lived, and there are still some remains of the
peach trees they planted. Here grow likewise excellent wild hops without any
cultivation. My overseer, Harry Morris, did his utmost to entertain me and my
company; the worst of it was, we were obliged all to be littered down in one
room, in company with my landlady and four children, one of which was very
sick, and consequently very fretful.5.

16th. This being Sunday, and the place where we were quite
out of Christendom, very little devotion went forward. I thought it no harm to
take a Sabbath day’s journey, and rode with my overseer to a new entry I had
made upon Blue Stone creek, about three miles from the castle, and found the
land very fertile and convenient. It consists of low grounds and meadows on
both sides the creek. After taking a view of this, we rode two miles farther to
a stony place, where there were some tokens of a copper mine, but not hopeful
enough to lay me under any temptation. Then we returned to the company, and
found Tom Wilson was come according to his promise, in order to proceed into
the woods along with us. Jo. Colson likewise entered into pay, having
cautiously made his bargain for a pistole. There were three Tuskeruda Indians,
(which I understood had been kept on my plantation to hunt for Harry Morris,)
that with much ado were also persuaded to be of the party. My landlady could
not forbear discovering some broad signs of the fury, by breaking out into
insolent and passionate expressions against the poor negroes. And if my
presence could not awe her, I concluded she could be very outrageous when I was
a hundred miles off. This inference I came afterwards to understand was but too
true, for, between the husband and the wife, the negroes had a hard time of it.

17th. We set off about nine from Blue Stone Castle, and rode
up the river six miles, (one half of which distance was on my own land,) as far
as major Mumford’s quarter, where master Hogen was tenant upon halves. Here
were no great marks of industry, the weeds being near as high as the corn. My
islands run up within a little way of this place, which will expose them to the
inroad of the major’s creatures. That called Totero island lies too convenient
not to receive damage that way; but we must guard against it as well as we can.
After the major had convinced himself of the idleness of his tenant, he
returned back to Blue Stone, and Harry Morris and I went in quest of a fine
copper mine, which he had secured for me in the fork. For which purpose, about
a quarter of a mile higher than Hogen’s, we crossed a narrow branch of the
river into a small island, not yet taken up, and after traversing that, forded
a much wider branch into the fork of Roanoke river. Where we landed was near
three miles higher up than the point of the fork. We first directed our course
easterly towards that point, which was very sharp, and each branch of the river
where it divided first seemed not to exceed eighty yards in breadth. The land
was broken and barren off from the river, till we came within half a mile of
the point where the low-grounds began. The same sort of low ground ran up each
branch of the river. That on the Staunton (being the northern branch) was but
narrow, but that on the south, which is called the Dan, seemed to carry a width
of at least half a mile. After discovering this place, for which I intended to
enter, we rode up the mid-land five miles to view the mine, which in my opinion
hardly answered the trouble of riding so far out of our way. We returned
downwards again about four miles, and a mile from the point found a good ford
over the north branch, into the upper end of Totero island. We crossed the
river there, and near the head of the island saw a large quantity of wild hops
growing, that smelt fragrantly, and seemed to be in great perfection. At our
first landing we were so hampered with brambles, vines and poke bushes, that
our horses could hardly force their way through them. However, this difficulty
held only about twenty- five yards at each end of the island, all the rest
being very level and free from underwood. We met with old fields where the
Indians had formerly lived, and the grass grew as high as a horse and his
rider. In one of these fields were large duck ponds, very firm at the bottom,
to which wild fowl resort in the winter. In the woody part of the island grows
a vetch, that is green all the winter, and a great support for horses and
cattle, though it is to be feared the hogs will root it all up. There is a cave
in this island, in which the last Totero king, with only two of his men,
defended himself against a great host of northern Indians, and at last obliged
them to retire. We forded the strait out of this into Occaneeche island, which
was full of large trees, and rich land, and the south part of it is too high
for any flood less than Noah’s to drown, we rode about two miles down this
island, (being half the length of it,) where finding ourselves opposite to Blue
Stone Castle, we passed the river in a canoe, which had been ordered thither
for that purpose, and joined our friends, very much tired, not so much with the
length of the journey, as with the heat of the weather.7.

18th. We lay by till the return of the messenger that we sent
for the ammunition, and other things left at the court house. Nor had the
Indians yet joined us according to their promise, which made us begin to doubt
of their veracity. I took a solitary walk to the first ford of Blue Stone
creek, about a quarter of a mile from the house. This creek had its name from
the colour of the stones, which paved the bottom of it, and are so smooth that
it is probable they will burn into lime. I took care to return to my company by
dinner time, that I might not trespass upon their stomachs. In the afternoon I
was paddled by the overseer and one of my servants up the creek, but could
proceed little farther than a mile because of the shoal water. All the way we
perceived the bottom of the creek full of the blue stones above mentioned,
sufficient in quantity to build a large castle. At our return we went into the
middle of the river, and stood upon a large blue rock to angle, but without any
success. We broke off a fragment of the rock, and found it as heavy as so much
lead. Discouraged by our ill luck, we repaired to the company, who had procured
some pieces of copper ore from Cargil’s mine, which seemed full of metal. This
mine lies about twelve miles higher than major Mumford’s plantation, and has a
better show than any yet discovered. There are so many appearances of copper in
these parts, that the inhabitants seem to be all mine-mad, and neglect making
of corn for their present necessities, in hopes of growing very rich

19th. The heavens lowered a little upon us in the morning,
but, like a damsel ruffled by too bold an address, it soon cleared up again.
Because I detested idleness, I caused my overseer to paddle me up the river as
far as the strait that divides Occaneeche from Totero island, which is about
twenty yards wide. There runs a swift stream continually out of the south part
of the river into the north, and is in some places very deep. We crossed the
south part to the opposite shore, to view another entry I had made, beginning
at Buffalo creek and running up the river to guard my islands, and keep off bad
neighbours on that side. The land seems good enough for corn along the river,
but a quarter of a mile back it is broken, and full of stones. After satisfying
my curiosity, I returned the way that I came, and shot the same strait back
again, and paddled down the river to the company. When we got home, we laid the
foundation of two large cities. One at Shacco’s, to be called Richmond, and the
other at the point of Appomattox river, to be named Petersburg. These major
Mayo offered to lay out into lots without fee or reward. The truth of it is,
these two places being the uppermost landing of James and Appomattox rivers,
are naturally intended for marts, where the traffic of the outer inhabitants
must centre. Thus we did not build castles only, but also cities in the air. In
the evening our ammunition arrived safe, and the Indians came to us, resolved
to make part of our company, upon condition of their being supplied with powder
and shot, and having the skins of all the deer they killed to their own proper

20th. Every thing being ready for a march, we left Blue Stone
Castle about ten. My company consisted of four gentlemen (namely, major Mayo,
major Mumford, Mr. Banister and Mr. Jones,) and five woodsmen, Thomas Wilson,
Henry Morris, Joseph Colson, Robert Bolling and Thomas Hooper, four negroes and
three Tuscaruda Indians. With this small troop we proceeded up the river as far
as Hogen’s, above which, about a quarter of a mile, we forded into the little
island, and from thence into the fork of the river. The water was risen so
high, that it ran into the top of my boots, but without giving me any cold,
although I rode in my wet stockings. We landed three miles above the point of
the fork, and, after marching three miles farther, reached the tenement of
Peter Mitchell, the highest inhabitant on Roanoke river. Two miles above that
we forded a water, which we named Birche’s creek, not far from the mouth, where
it discharges itself into the Dan. From thence we rode through charming low-
grounds, for six miles together, to a larger stream, which we agreed to call
Banister river. We were puzzled to find a ford by reason the water was very
high, but at last got safe over, about one and a half miles from the banks of
the Dan. In our way we killed two very large rattle-snakes, one of fifteen and
the other of twelve rattles. They were both fat, but nobody would be persuaded
to carry them to our quarters, although they would have added much to the
luxury of our supper. We pitched our tents upon Banister river, where we
feasted on a young buck which had the ill luck to cross our way. It rained
great part of the night, with very loud thunder, which rumbled frightfully
amongst the tall trees that surrounded us in that low ground, but, thank God!
without any damage. Our Indians killed three deer, but were so lazy they
brought them not to the camp, pretending for their excuse that they were too
lean. 10.

21st. The necessity of drying our baggage prevented us from
marching till eleven o’clock. Then we proceeded through low-grounds which were
tolerably wide for three miles together, as far as a small creek, named by us
Morris’ creek. This tract of land I persuaded Mr. Banister to enter for, that
he might not be a loser by the expedition. The low grounds held good a mile
beyond the creek, and then the highland came quite to the river, and made our
travelling more difficult. All the way we went we perceived there had been tall
canes lately growing on the bank of the river, but were universally killed; and
inquiring into the reason of this destructton, we were told that the nature of
those canes was, to shed their seed but once in seven years, and the succeeding
winter to die, and make room for young ones to grow up in their places. Thus
much was certain, that four years before we saw canes grow and flourish in
several places, where they now lay dead and dry upon the ground. The whole
distance we travelled in this day by computation was fifteen miles, and then
the appearance of a black cloud, which threatened a gust, obliged us to take up
our quarters. We had no sooner got our tents over our heads, but it began to
rain and thunder furiously, and one clap succeeded the lightning the same
instant, and made all tremble before it. But, blessed be God! it spent its fury
upon a tall oak just by our camp. Our Indians were so fearful of falling into
the hands of the Catawbas, that they durst not lose sight of us all day; so
they killed nothing, and we were forced to make a temperate supper upon bread
and cheese. It was strange we met with no wild turkeys, this being the season
in which great numbers of them used to be seen towards the mountains. They
commonly perched on the high trees near the rivers and creeks. But this voyage,
to our great misfortune, there were none to be found. So that we could not
commit that abomination, in the sight of all Indians, of mixing the flesh of
deer and turkeys in our broth.11.

22d. We were again obliged to dry our baggage, which had
been thoroughly soaked with the heavy rain that fell in the night. While we
stayed for that, our hunters knocked down a brace of bucks, wherewith we made
ourselves amends for our scanty supper the aforegoing night. All these matters
being duly performed made it near noon before we sounded to horse. We marched
about two miles over fine low-grounds to a most pleasant stream, which we named
the Medway, and by the way discovered a rich neck of highland that lay on the
south side of the Dan, and looked very tempting. Two miles beyond the Medway,
we forded another creek, which we called Maosty creek. The whole distance
between these two streams lay exceeding rich lands, and the same continued two
miles higher. This body of low-grounds tempted me to enter for it, to serve as
a stage between my land at the fork, and the Land of Eden. The heavens looked
so menacing that we resolved to take up our quarters two miles above Maosty
creek, where we intrenched ourselves on a rising ground. We had no sooner taken
these precautions, but it began to rain unmercifully, and to put out our fire
as fast as we could kindle it; nor was it only a hasty shower, but continued
with great impetuosity most part of the night. We preferred a dry fast to a wet
feast, being unwilling to expose the people to the weather, to gratify an
unreasonable appetite. However it was some comfort, in the midst of our
abstinence, to dream of the delicious breakfast we intended to make next
morning, upon a fat doe and two-year-old bear our hunters had killed the
evening before. Notwithstanding all the care we could take, several of the men
were dripping wet, and, among the rest, Harry Morris dabbled so long in the
rain, that he was seized with a violent fit of an ague that shook him almost
out of all his patience.12.

23d. It was no loss of time to rest in our camp according to
the duty of the day, because our baggage was so wet it needed a whole day to
dry it. For this purpose we kindled four several fires, in the absence of the
sun, which vouchsafed us not one kind look the whole day. My servant had
dropped his great-coat yesterday, and two of the men were so good-natured as to
ride back and look for it to-day, and were so lucky as to find it. Our Indians
having no notion of the sabbath, went out to hunt for something for dinner, and
brought a young doe back along with them. They laughed at the English for
losing one day in seven; though the joke may be turned upon them for losing the
whole seven, if idleness and doing nothing to the purpose may be called loss of
time. I looked out narrowly for ginseng, this being the season when it wears
its scarlet fruit, but neither now nor any other time during the whole journey
could I find one single plant of it. This made me conclude that it delighted
not in quite so southerly a climate; and in truth I never heard of its growing
on this side of thirty-eight degrees of latitude. But to make amends we saw
abundance of sugar trees in all these low-grounds, which the whole summer long
the woodpeckers tap, for the sweet juice that flows out of them. Towards the
evening a strong northwester was so kind as to sweep all the clouds away, that
had blackened our sky, and moistened our skins, for some time past.13.

24th. The rest the sabbath had given us made every body
alert this morning, so that we mounted before nine o’clock. This diligence
happened to be the more necessary, by reason the woods we encountered this day
were exceedingly bushy and uneven. At the distance of four miles we forded both
branches of Forked creek, which lay within one thousand paces from each other.
My horse fell twice under me, but, thank God! without any damage either to
himself or his rider; and major Mayo’s baggage horse rolled down a steep hill,
and ground all his biscuit to rocahominy. My greatest disaster was that, in
mounting one of the precipices, my steed made a short turn and gave my knee an
unmerciful bang against a tree, and I felt the effects of it several days
after. However, this was no interruption of our journey, but we went merrily
on, and two miles farther crossed Peter’s creek, and two miles after that
Jones’ creek. Between these creeks was a good breadth of low-grounds, with
which Mr. Jones was tempted, though he shook his head at the distance. A little
above Jones’ creek, we met with a pleasant situation, where the herbage
appeared more inviting than usual. The horses were so fond of it that we
determined to camp there, although the sun had not near finished his course.
This gave some of our company leisure to go out and search for the place where
our line first crossed the Dan, and by good luck they found it within half a
mile of the camp. But the place was so altered by the desolation which had
happened to the canes, (which had formerly fringed the banks of the river a
full furlong deep,) that we hardly knew it again. Pleased with this discovery,
I forgot the pain in my knee, and the whole company ate their venison without
any other sauce than keen appetite.14.

25th. The weather now befriending us, we despatched our
little affairs in good time, and marched in a body to the line. It was already
grown very dim, by reason many of the marked trees were burnt or blown down.
However, we made shift, after riding little more than half a mile, to find it,
and having once found it, stuck as close to it as we could. After a march of
two miles, we got upon Cane creek, where we saw the same havoc amongst the old
canes that we had observed in other places, and a whole forest of young ones
springing up in their stead. We pursued our journey over hills and dales till
we arrived at the second ford of the Dan, which we passed with no other damage
than sopping a little of our bread, and shipping some water at the tops of our
boots. The late rains having been a little immoderate, had raised the water and
made a current in the river. We drove on four miles farther to a plentiful run
of very clear water, and quartered on a rising ground a bow-shot from it. We
had no sooner pitched the tents, but one of our woodsmen alarmed us with the
news that he had followed the track of a great body of Indians to the place
where they had lately encamped. That there he had found no less than ten huts,
the poles whereof had green leaves still fresh upon them. That each of these
huts had sheltered at least ten Indians, who, by some infallible marks, must
have been northern Indians. That they must needs have taken their departure
from thence no longer ago than the day before, having erected those huts to
protect themselves from the late heavy rains. These tidlings I could perceive
were a little shocking to some of the company, and particularly the little
major, whose tongue had never lain still, was taken speechless for sixteen
hours. I put as good a countenance upon the matter as I could, assuring my
fellow travellers, that the northern Indians were at peace with us, and
although one or two of them may now and then commit a robbery or a murder, (as
other rogues do,) yet nationally and avowedly they would not venture to hurt
us. And in case they were Catawbas, the danger would be as little from them,
because they are too fond of our trade to lose it for the pleasure of shedding
a little English blood. But supposing the worst, that they might break through
all the rules of self-interest, and attack us, yet we ought to stand bravely on
our defence, and sell our lives as dear as we could. That we should have no
more fear on this occasion, than just to make us more watchful and better
provided to receive the enemy, if they had the spirit to venture upon us. This
reasoning of mine, though it could not remove the panic, yet it abated
something of the palpitation, and made us double our guard. However, I found it
took off the edge of most of our appetites, for every thing but the rum bottle,
which was more in favor than ever, because of its cordial quality. I hurt my
other knee this afternoon, but not enough to spoil either my dancing or my

26th. We liked the place so little that we were glad to
leave it this morning as soon as we could. For that reason we were all on
horseback before nine, and after riding four miles arrived at the mouth of
Sable creek. On the eastern bank of that creek, six paces from the mouth, and
just at the brink of the river Dan, stands a sugar tree, which is the beginning
of my fine tract of land in Carolina, called the Land of Eden. I caused the
initial letters of my name to be cut on a large poplar and beech near my
corner, for the more easy finding it another time. We then made a beginning of
my survey, directing our course due south from the sugar tree abovementioned.
In a little way we perceived the creek forked, and the western branch was wide
enough to merit the name of a river. That to the east was much less, which we
intersected with this course. We ran southerly a mile, and found the land good
all the way, only towards the end of it we saw the trees destroyed in such a
manner that there were hardly any left to mark my bounds. Having finished this
course, we encamped in a charming peninsula, formed by the western branch of
the creek. It contained about forty acres of very rich land, gradually
descending to the creek, and is a delightful situation for the manor house. My
servant had fed so intemperately upon bear, that it gave him a scouring, and
that was followed by the piles, which made riding worse to him than purgatory.
But anointing with the fat of the same bear, he soon grew easy again.16.

27th. We were stirring early from this enchanting place, and
ran eight miles of my back line, which tended south eighty-four and a half
westerly. We found the land uneven, but tolerably good, though very thin of
trees, and those that were standing fit for little but fuel and fence-rails.
Some conflagration had effectually opened the country, and made room for the
air to circulate. We crossed both the branches of Lowland creek, and sundry
other rills of fine water. From every eminence we discovered the mountains to
the north-west of us, though they seemed to be a long way off. Here the air
felt very refreshing and agreeable to the lungs, having no swamps or marshes to
taint it. Nor was this the only good effect it had, but it likewise made us
very hungry, so that we were forced to halt and pacify our appetites with a
frugal repast out of our pockets, which we washed down with water from a
purling stream just by. My knees pained me very much, though I broke not the
laws of travelling by uttering the least complaint. Measuring and marking spent
so much of our time, that we could advance no further than eight miles, and the
chain carriers thought that a great way. In the evening we took up our quarters
in the low-grounds of the river, which our scouts informed us was but two
hundred yards ahead of us. This was no small surprise, because we had flattered
ourselves that this back line would not have intersected the Dan at all; but we
found ourselves mistaken, and plainly perceived that it ran more southerly than
we imagined, and in all likelihood pierces the mountains where they form an
amphitheatre. The venison here was lean; and the misfortune was we met no bear
in so open a country, to grease the way and make it slip down. In the night our
sentinel alarmed us with an idle suspicion that he heard the Indian whistle,
(which amongst them is a signal for attacking their enemies.) This made every
one stand manfully to his arms in a moment, and I found no body more undismayed
in this surprise than Mr. Banister; but after we had put ourselves in battle
array, we discovered this whistle to be nothing but the nocturnal note of a
little harmless bird, that inhabits those woods. We were glad to find the
mistake, and commending the sentinel for his great vigilance, composed our
noble spirits again to rest till the morning. However, some of the company
dreamed of nothing but scalping all the rest of the night. 17.

28th. We snapped up our breakfast as fast as we could, that
we might have the more leisure to pick our way over a very bad ford across the
river. Though, bad as it was, we all got safe on the other side. We were no
sooner landed, but we found ourselves like to encounter a very rough and almost
impassable thicket. However, we scuffled through it without any dismay or
complaint. This was a copse of young saplings, consisting of oak, hickory and
sassafras, which are the growth of a fertile soil. We gained no more than two
miles in three hours in this perplexed place, and after that had the pleasure
to issue out into opener woods. The land was generally good, though pretty bare
of timber, and particularly we traversed a rich level of at least two miles.
Our whole day’s journey amounted not quite to five miles, by reason we had been
so hampered at our first setting out. We were glad to take up our quarters
early in a piece of fine low-grounds, lying about a mile north of the river.
Thus we perceived the river edged away gently towards the south, and never
likely to come in the way of our course again. Nevertheless, the last time we
saw it, it kept much the same breadth and depth that it had where it divided
its waters from the Staunton, and in all likelihood holds its own quite as high
as the mountains. 18.

29th. In measuring a mile and a half farther we reached the
lower ford of the Irvin, which branches from the Dan about two miles to the
south, south-east of this place. This river was very near threescore yards
over, and in many places pretty deep. From thence, in little more than a mile,
we came to the end of this course, being in length fifteen miles and
eighty-eight poles. And so far the land held reasonably good; but when we came
to run our northern course of three miles, to the place where the country line
intersects the same Irvin higher up, we passed over nothing but stony hills,
and barren grounds, clothed with little timber, and refreshed with less water.
All my hopes were in the riches that might lie under ground, there being many
goodly tokens of mines. The stones which paved the river, both by their weight
and colour, promised abundance of metal; but whether it be silver, lead or
copper, is beyond our skill to discern. We also discovered many shows of
marble, of a white ground, with streaks of red and purple. So that it is
possible the treasure in the bowels of the earth may make ample amends for the
poverty of its surface. We encamped on the bank of this river, a little below
the dividing line, and near the lower end of an island half a mile long, which,
for the metallic appearances, we dignified with the name of Potosi. In our way
to this place we treed a bear, of so mighty a bulk, that when we fetched her
down she almost made an earthquake. But neither the shot nor the fall disabled
her so much, but she had like to have hugged one of our dogs to death in the
violence of her embrace. We exercised the discipline of the woods, by tossing a
very careless servant in a blanket, for losing one of our axes. 19.

30th. This being Sunday, we were glad to rest from our
labours; and, to help restore our vigour, several of us plunged into the river,
notwithstanding it was a frosty morning. One of our Indians went in along with
us, and taught us their way of swimming. They strike not out both hands
together, but alternately one after another, whereby they are able to swim both
farther and faster than we do. Near the camp grew several large chestnut trees
very full of chestnuts. Our men were too lazy to climb the trees for the sake
of the fruit, but, like the Indians, chose rather to cut them down, regardless
of those that were to come after. Nor did they esteem such kind of work any
breach of the sabbath, so long as it helped to fill their bellies. One of the
Indians shot a bear, which he lugged about half a mile for the good of the
company. These gentiles have no distinction of days, but make every day a
sabbath, except when they go out to war or a hunting, and then they will
undergo incredible fatigues. Of other work the men do none, thinking it below
the dignity of their sex, but make the poor women do all the drudgery. They
have a blind tradition amongst them, that work was first laid upon mankind by
the fault of a female, and therefore it is but just that sex should do the
greatest part of it. This they plead in their excuse; but the true reason is,
that the weakest must always go to the wall, and superiority has from the
beginning ungenerously imposed slavery on those who are not able to resist

October 1. I plunged once more into the river Irvin this
morning, for a small cold I had caught, and was entirely cured by it. We ran
the three mile course from a white oak standing on my corner upon the western
bank of the river, and intersected the place, where we ended the back line
exactly, and fixed that corner at a hickory. We steered south from thence about
a mile, and then came upon the Dan, which thereabouts makes but narrow
low-grounds. We forded it about a mile and a half to the westward of the place
where the Irvin runs into it. When we were over, we determined to ride down the
river on that side, and for three miles found the high-land come close down to
it, pretty barren and uneven. But then on a sudden the scene changed, and we
were surprised with an opening of large extent, where the Sauro Indians once
lived, who had been a considerable nation. But the frequent inroads of the
Senecas annoyed them incessantly, and obliged them to remove from this fine
situation about thirty years ago. They then retired more southerly, as far as
Pee Dee river, and incorporated with the Kewawees, where a remnant of them is
still surviving. It must have been a great misfortune to them to be obliged to
abandon so beautiful a dwelling, where the air is wholesome, and the soil equal
in fertility to any in the world. The river is about eighty yards wide, always
confined within its lofty banks, and rolling down its waters, as sweet as milk,
and as clear as crystal. There runs a charming level, of more than a mile
square, that will bring forth like the lands of Egypt, without being overflowed
once a year. There is scarce a shrub in view to intercept your prospect, but
grass as high as a man on horseback. Towards the woods there is a gentle
ascent, till your sight is intercepted by an eminence, that overlooks the whole
landscape. This sweet place is bounded to the east by a fine stream, called
Sauro creek, which running out of the Dan, and tending westerly, makes the
whole a peninsula. I could not quit this pleasant situation without regret, but
often faced about to take a parting look at it as far as I could see, and so
indeed did all the rest of the company. But at last we left it quite out of
sight, and continued our course down the river, till where it intersects my
back line, which was about five miles below Sauro town. We took up our quarters
at the same camp where we had a little before been alarmed with the supposed
Indian whistle, which we could hardly get out of our heads. However, it did not
spoil our rest; but we dreamed all night of the delights of Tempe and the
Elysian fields. 21.

2d. We awoke early from these innocent dreams, and took our
way along my back line till we came to the corner of it. From thence we slanted
to the country line, and kept down that as far as the next fording place of the
river, making in the whole eighteen miles. We breathed all the way in pure air,
which seemed friendly to the lungs, and circulated the blood and spirits very
briskly. Happy will be the people destined for so wholesome a situation, where
they may live to fulness of days, and which is much better still, with much
content and gaiety of heart. On every rising ground we faced about to take our
leave of the mountains, which still showed their towering heads. The ground was
uneven, rising into hills, and sinking into valleys great part of the way, but
the soil was good, abounding in most places with a greasy black mould. We took
up our quarters on the western bank of the river, where we had forded it at our
coming up. One of our men, Joseph Colson by name, a timorous, lazy fellow, had
squandered away his bread, and grew very uneasy when his own ravening had
reduced him to short allowance. He was one of those drones who love to do
little and eat much, and are never in humour unless their bellies are full.
According to this wrong turn of constitution, when he found he could no longer
revel in plenty, he began to break the rules by complaining and threatening to
desert. This had like to have brought him to the blanket, but his submission
reprieved him. Though bread grew a little scanty with us, we had venison in
abundance, which a true woodsman can eat contentedly without any bread at all.
But bears’ flesh needs something of the farinaceous, to make it pass easily off
the stomach. In the night we heard a dog bark at some distance, as we thought,
when we saw all our own dogs lying about the fire. This was another alarm; but
we soon discovered it to be a wolf, which will sometimes bark very like a dog,
but something shriller.22.

3d. The fine season continuing, we made the most of it by
leaving our quarters as soon as possible. We began to measure and mark the
bounds of major Mayo’s land on the south of the country line. In order to do
this we marched round the bent of the river, but he being obliged to make a
traverse, we could reach no farther than four miles. In the distance of about a
mile from where we lay, we crossed Cliff creek, which confined its stream
within such high banks that it was difficult to find a passage over. We kept
close to the river, and two miles farther came to Hixe’s creek, where abundance
of canes lay dry and prostrate on the ground, having suffered in the late
septennial slaughter of that vegetable. A mile after that we forded another
stream, which we called Hatcher’s creek, from two Indian traders of that name,
who used formerly to carry goods to the Sauro Indians. Near the banks of this
creek I found a large beech tree, with the following inscription cut upon the
bark of it, •J. H., H. H., B. B., lay here the 24th of May, 1673.• It was not
difficult to fill up these initials with the following names, Joseph Hatcher,
Henry Hatcher and Benjamin Bullington, three Indian traders, who had lodged
near that place sixty years before, in their way to the Sauro town. But the
strangest part of the story was this, that these letters, cut in the bark,
should remain perfectly legible so long. Nay, if no accident befalls the tree,
which appears to be still in a flourishing condition, I doubt not but this
piece of antiquity may be read many years hence. We may also learn from it,
that the beech is a very long-lived tree, of which there are many exceedingly
large in these woods. The major took in a pretty deal of rich low-ground into
his survey, but unhappily left a greater quantity out, which proves the
weakness of making entries by guess. We found the Dan fordable here- abouts in
most places. One of the Indians shot a wild goose, that was very lousy, which
nevertheless was good meat, and proved those contemptible tasters to be no bad
tasters. However, for those stomachs that were so unhappy as to be squeamish,
there was plenty of fat bear, we having killed two in this day’s march.23.

4th. I caused the men to use double diligence to assist major
Mayo in fixing the bounds of his land, because he had taken a great deal of
pains about mine. We therefore mounted our horses as soon as we had swallowed
our breakfast. Till that is duly performed a woodsman makes a conscience of
exposing himself to any fatigue. We proceeded then in his survey, and made an
end before night, though most of the company were of opinion the land was
hardly worth the trouble. It seemed most of it before below the character the
discoverers had given him of it. We fixed his eastern corner on Cocquade creek,
and then continued our march, over the hills and far away, along the country
line two miles farther. Nor had we stopped there, unless a likelihood of rain
had obliged us to encamp on an eminence where we were in no danger of being
overflowed. Peter Jones had a smart fit of an ague, which shook him severely,
though he bore it like a man; but the small major had a small fever, and bore
it like a child. He groaned as if he had been in labour, and thought verily it
would be his fate to die like a mutinous Israelite in the wilderness, and be
buried under a heap of stones. The rain was so kind as to give us leisure to
secure ourselves against it, but came however time enough to interrupt our
cookery, so that we supped as temperately as so many philosophers, and kept
ourselves snug within our tents. The worst part of the story was, that the
sentinels could hardly keep our fires from being extinguished by the heaviness
of the shower. 24.

6th. We had abundance of drying work this morning after the
clouds broke away and showed the sun to the happy earth. It was impossible for
us to strike the tents till the afternoon, and then we took our departure, and
made an easy march of four miles to another branch of Hico river, which we
called Jesuit’s creek, because it misled us. We lugged as many of the dainty
pieces of the buffalo along with us as our poor horses could carry, envying the
wolves the pleasure of such luxurious diet. Our quarters were taken upon a
delightful eminence, that scornfully overlooked the creek, and afforded us a
dry habitation. We made our supper on the tongue and udder of the buffalo,
which were so good, that a cardinal legate might have made a comfortable meal
upon them during the carnival. Nor was this all, but we had still a rarer
morsel, the bunch rising up between the shoulders of this animal, which is very
tender and very fat. The primings of a young doe, which one of the men brought
to the camp, 5th. Our invalids found themselves in travelling condition this
morning, and began to conceive hopes of returning home and dying in their own
beds. We pursued our journey through uneven and perplexed woods, and in the
thickest of them had the fortune to knock down a young buffalo, two years old.
Providence threw this vast animal in our way very seasonably, just as our
provisions began to fail us. And it was the more welcome too, because it was
change of diet, which of all varieties, next to that of bed- fellows, is the
most agreeable. We had lived upon venison and bear until our stomachs loathed
them almost as much as the Hebrews of old did their quails. Our butchers were
so unhandy at their business that we grew very lank before we could get our
dinner. But when it came, we found it equal in goodness to the best beef. They
made it the longer because they kept sucking the water out of the guts, in
imitation of the Catawba Indians, upon the belief that it is a great cordial,
and will even make them drunk, or at least very gay. We encamped upon Hico
river, pretty high up, and had much ado to get our house in order, before a
heavy shower descended upon us. I was in pain lest our sick men might suffer by
the rain, but might have spared myself the concern, because it had the effect
of a cold bath upon them, and drove away their distemper, or rather changed it
into a canine appetite, that devoured all before it. It rained smartly all
night long, which made our situation on the low-ground more fit for otters than
men.were slighted amidst these dainties, nor would even our servants be fobbed
off with cates so common. The low-grounds of this creek are wide in many
places, and rich, but seem to lie within reach of every inundation; and this is
commonly the case with most low-grounds, that lie either on the rivers or on
the creeks that run into them. So great an inconvenience lessens their value
very much, and makes highland, that is just tolerable, of greater advantage to
the owner. There he will be more likely to reap the fruits of his industry
every year, and not run the risk, after all his toil, to see the sweat of his
brow carried down the stream, and perhaps many of his cattle drowned into the
bargain. Perhaps in times to come people may bank their low-grounds as they do
in Europe, to confine the water within its natural bounds to prevent these

7th. The scarcity of bread, joined to the impatience of some
of our company, laid us under a kind of necessity to hasten our return home.
For that reason we thought we might be excused for making a sabbath day’s
journey of about five miles, as far as our old camp upon Sugar Tree creek. On
our way we forded Buffalo creek, which also empties its waters into Hico river.
The woods we rode through were open, and the soil very promising, great part
thereof being low-grounds, full of tall and large trees. A she bear had the ill
luck to cross our way, which was large enough to afford us several luxurious
meals. I paid for violating the sabbath by losing a pair of gold buttons. I
pitched my tent on the very spot I had done when we ran the dividing line
between Virginia and Carolina. The beech whose bark recorded the names of the
Carolina commissioners was still standing, and we did them the justice to add
to their names a sketch of their characters. We got our house in order time
enough to walk about and make some slight observations. There were sugar trees
innumerable growing in the low-grounds of this creek, from which it received
its name. They were many of them as tall as large hickories, with trunks from
fifteen to twenty inches through. The woodpeckers, for the pleasure of the
sweet juice which these trees yield, pierce the bark in many places, and do
great damage, though the trees live a great while under all these wounds. There
grows an infinite quantity of maidenhair, which seems to delight most in rich
grounds. The sorrel tree is frequent there, whose leaves, brewed in beer, are
good in dropsies, green-sickness, and cachexies. We also saw in this place
abundance of papaw trees, the wood whereof the Indians make very dry on purpose
to rub fire out of it. Their method of doing it is this: they hold one of these
dry sticks in each hand, and by rubbing them hard and quick together, rarify
the air in such a manner as to fetch fire in ten minutes. Whenever they offer
any sacrifice to their God, they look upon it as a profanation to make use of
fire already kindled, but produce fresh virgin fire for that purpose, by
rubbing two of these sticks together that never had been used before on any
occasion. 26.

8th. After fortifying ourself with a bear breakfast, major
Mayo took what help he thought necessary, and began to survey the land, with
which the commissioners of Carolina had presented him upon this creek. After
running the bounds, the major was a little disappointed in the goodness of the
land, but as it had cost him nothing it could be no bad pennyworth, as his
upper tract really was. While that business was carrying on, I took my old
friend and fellow traveller, Tom Wilson, and went to view the land I had
entered for upon this creek, on the north of the country line. We rode down the
stream about six miles, crossing it sundry times, and found very wide low
grounds on both sides of it, only we observed, wherever the low- grounds were
broad on one side the creek, they were narrow on the other. The highlands we
were obliged to pass over were very good, and in some places descended so
gradually to the edge of the low-grounds, that they formed very agreeable
prospects and pleasant situations for building. About four miles from the line,
Sugar Tree creek emptied itself into the Hico, which with that addition swelled
into a fine river. In this space we saw the most, and most promising good land
we had met with in all our travels. In our way we shot a doe, but she not
falling immediately, we had lost our game had not the ravens, by their
croaking, conducted us to the thicket where she fell. We plunged the carcass of
the deer into the water, to secure it from these ominous birds till we
returned, but an hour afterwards were surprised with the sight of a wolf which
had been fishing for it, and devoured one side. We knocked down an ancient she
bear that had no flesh upon her bones, so we left it to the free-booters of the
forest. In coming back to the camp we discovered a solitary bull buffalo, which
boldly stood his ground, contrary to the custom of that shy animal, we spared
his life, from a principle of never slaughtering an innocent creature to no
purpose. However, we made ourselves some diversion, by trying if he would face
our dogs. He was so far from retreating at their approach, that he ran at them
with great fierceness, cocking up his ridiculous little tail, and grunting like
a hog. The dogs in the mean time only played about him, not venturing within
reach of his horns, and by their nimbleness came off with a whole skin. All
these adventures we related at our return to the camp, and what was more to the
purpose, we carried to them the side of venison which the wolf had vouchsafed
to leave us. After we had composed ourselves to rest, our horses ran up to our
camp as fast as their hobbles would let them. This was to some of us a certain
argument that Indians were near, whose scent the horses can no more endure than
they can their figures; though it was more likely they had been scared by a
panther or some other wild beast, the glaring of whose eyes are very terrifying
to them in a dark night. 27.

9th. Major Mayo’s survey being no more than half done, we
were obliged to amuse ourselves another day in this place. And that the time
might not be quite lost, we put our garments and baggage into good repair. I
for my part never spent a day so well during the whole voyage. I had an
impertinent tooth in my upper jaw, that had been loose for some time, and made
me chew with great caution. Particularly I could not grind a biscuit but with
much deliberation and presence of mind. Tooth-drawers we had none amongst us,
nor any of the instruments they make use of. However, invention supplied this
want very happily, and I contrived to get rid of this troublesome companion by
cutting a caper. I caused a twine to be fastened round the root of my tooth,
about a fathom in length, and then tied the other end to the snag of a log that
lay upon the ground, in such a manner that I could just stand upright. Having
adjusted my string in this manner, I bent my knees enough to enable me to
spring vigorously off the ground, as perpendicularly as I could. The force of
the leap drew out the tooth with so much ease that I felt nothing of it, nor
should have believed it was come away, unless I had seen it dangling at the end
of the string. An under tooth may be fetched out by standing off the ground and
fastening your string at due distance above you. And having so fixed your gear,
jump off your standing, and the weight of your body, added to the force of the
spring, will prize out your tooth with less pain than any operator upon earth
could draw it. This new way of tooth-drawing, being so silently and
deliberately performed, both surprised and delighted all that were present, who
could not guess what I was going about. I immediately found the benefit of
getting rid of this troublesome companion, by eating my supper with more
comfort than I had done during the whole expedition.28.

10th. In the morning we made an end of our bread, and all the
rest of our provision, so that now we began to travel pretty light. All the
company were witnesses how good the land was upon Sugar Tree creek, because we
rode down it four miles, till it fell into Hico river. Then we directed our
course over the highland, thinking to shorten our way to Tom Wilson’s quarter.
Nevertheless, it was our fortune to fall upon the Hico again, and then kept
within sight of it several miles together, till we came near the mouth. Its
banks were high and full of precipices on the east side, but it afforded some
low-grounds on the west. Within two miles of the mouth are good shows of copper
mines, as Harry Morris told me, but we saw nothing of them. It runs into the
Dan just below a large fall, but the chain of rocks does not reach quite across
the river, to intercept the navigation. About a mile below lives Aaron Pinston,
at a quarter belonging to Thomas Wilson, upon Tewahominy creek. This man is the
highest inhabitant on the south side of the Dan, and yet reckons himself
perfectly safe from danger. And if the bears, wolves, and panthers were as
harmless as the Indians, his stock might be so too. Tom Wilson offered to knock
down a steer for us, but I would by no means accept of his generosity. However,
we were glad of a few of his peas and potatoes, and some rashers of his bacon,
upon which we made good cheer. This plantation lies about a mile from the mouth
of Tewahominy, and about the same distance from the mouth of Hico river, and
contains a good piece of land. The edifice was only a log house, affording a
very free passage for the air through every part of it, nor was the cleanliness
of it any temptation to lie out of our tents, so we encamped once more, for the
last time, in the open field.29.

11th. I tipped our landlady with what I imagined a full
reward for the trouble we had given her, and then mounted our horses, which
picked up their ears after the two meals they had eaten of corn. In the
distance of about a mile we reached the Dan, which we forded with some
difficulty into the fork. The water was pretty high in the river, and the
current something rapid, nevertheless all the company got over safe, with only
a little water in their boots. After traversing the fork, which was there at
least two good miles across, we forded the Staunton into a little island, and
then the narrow branch of the same to the main land. We took major Mumford’s
tenant in our way, where we moistened our throats with a little milk, and then
proceeded in good order to Blue Stone Castle. My landlady received us with a
grim sort of a welcome, which I did not expect, since I brought her husband
back in good health, though perhaps that might be the reason. It is sure
something or other did tease her, and she was a female of too strong passions
to know how to dissemble. However, she was so civil as to get us a good dinner,
which I was the better pleased with because Col. Cock and Mr. Mumford came time
enough to partake of it. The colonel had been surveying land in these parts,
and particularly that on which Mr. Stith’s copper mine lies, as likewise a
tract on which Cornelius Cargill has fine appearances. He had but a poor
opinion of Mr. Stith’s mine, foretelling it would be all labour in vain, but
thought something better of Mr. Cargill’s. After dinner these gentlemen took
their leaves, and at the same time I discharged two of of my fellow travellers,
Thomas Wilson and Joseph Colson, after having made their hearts merry, and
giving each of them a piece of gold to rub their eyes with. We now returned to
that evil custom of lying in a house, and an evil one it is, when ten or a
dozen people are forced to pig together in a room, as we did, and were troubled
with squalling of peevish, dirty children into the bargain.30.

12th. We ate our fill of potatoes and milk, which seems
delicious fare to those who have made a campaign in the woods. I then took my
first minister, Harry Morris, up the hill, and marked out the place where Blue
Stone Castle was to stand, and overlook the adjacent country. After that I put
my friend in mind of many things he had done amiss, which he promised
faithfully to reform. I was so much an infidel to his fair speeches, (having
been many times deceived by them,) that I was forced to threaten him with my
highest displeasure, unless he mended his conduct very much. I also let him
know, that he was not only to correct his own errors, but likewise those of his
wife, since the power certainly belonged to him, in virtue of his conjugal
authority. He scratched his head at this last admonition, from whence I
inferred that the gray mare was the better horse. We gave our heavy baggage two
hours’ start, and about noon followed them, and in twelve miles reached John
Butcher’s, calling by the way for master Mumford, in order to take him along
with us. Mr. Butcher received us kindly, and we had a true Roanoke
entertainment of pork upon pork, and pork again upon that. He told us he had
been one of the first seated in that remote part of the country, and in the
beginning had been forced, like the great Nebuchadnezzar, to live a
considerable time upon grass. This honest man set a mighty value on the mine he
fancied he had in his pasture, and showed us some of the ore, which he was made
to believe was a gray copper, and would certainly make his fortune. But there
is a bad distemper rages in those parts, that grows very epidemical. The people
are all mine mad, and neglecting to make corn, starve their families in hopes
to live in great plenty hereafter. Mr. Stith was the first that was seized with
the frenzy, and has spread the contagion far and near. As you ride along the
woods, you see all the large stones knocked to pieces, nor can a poor marcasite
rest quietly in its bed for these curious inquirers. Our conversation ran
altogether upon this darling subject, until the hour came for our lying in bulk
together. 31.

13th. After breaking our fast with a sea of milk and
potatoes, we took our leave, and I crossed my landlady’s hand with a piece of
money. She refused the offer at first, but, like a true woman, accepted of it
when it was put home to her. She told me the utmost she was able to do for me
was a trifle in comparison of some favour I had formerly done her; but what
that favour was, neither I could recollect, nor did she think proper to
explain. Though it threatened rain, we proceeded on our journey, and jogged on
in the new road for twenty miles, that is as far as it was cleared at that
time, and found it would soon come to be a very good one after it was well
grubbed. About nine miles from John Butcher’s, we crossed Allen’s creek, four
miles above Mr. Stith’s mine. Near the mouth of this creek is a good body of
rich land, whereof Occaneeche neck is a part. It was entered for many years ago
by Col. Harrison and Col. Allen, but to this day is held without patent or
improvement. And they say Mr. Bolling does the same, with a thousand acres
lying below John Butcher’s. After beating the new road for twenty miles, we
struck off towards Meherrin, which we reached in eight miles farther, and then
came to the plantation of Joshua Nicholson, where Daniel Taylor lives for
halves. There was a poor dirty house, with hardly any thing in it but children,
that wallowed about like so many pigs. It is a common case in this part of the
country, that people live worse upon good land; and the more they are
befriended by the soil and the climate, the less they will do for themselves.
This man was an instance of it, for though his plantation would make plentiful
returns for a little industry, yet he wanting that, wanted every thing. The
woman did all that was done in the family, and the few garments they had to
cover their dirty hides were owing to her industry. We could have no supplies
from such neighbours as these, but depended on our own knapsacks, in which we
had some remnants of cold fowls that we brought from Blue Stone Castle. When my
house was in order, the whole family came and admired it, as much as if it had
been the grand vizier’s tent in the Turkish army. 32.

14th. The sabbath was now come round again, and although our
horses would have been glad to take the benefit of it, yet we determined to
make a Sunday’s journey to Brunswick church, which lay about eight miles off.
Though our landlord could do little for us, nevertheless, we did him all the
good we were able, by bleeding his sick negro, and giving him a dose of Indian
physic. We got to church in decent time, and Mr. Betty, the parson of the
parish, entertained us with a good honest sermon, but whether he bought it, or
borrowed it, would have been uncivil in us to inquire. Be that as it will, he
is a decent man, with a double chin that sits gracefully over his band, and his
parish, especially the female part of it, like him well. We were not crowded at
church, though it was a new thing in that remote part of the country. What
women happened to be there, were very gim and tidy in the work of their own
hands, which made them look tempting in the eyes of us foresters. When church
was done, we refreshed our teacher with a glass of wine, and then receiving his
blessing, took horse and directed our course to major Embry’s. The distance
thither was reputed fifteen miles, but appeared less by the company of a nymph
of those woods, whom innocence, and wholesome flesh and blood made very
alluring. In our way we crossed Sturgeon creek and Queocky creek, but at our
journey’s end were so unlucky as not to find either master or mistress at home.
However, after two hours of hungry expectation, the good woman luckily found
her way home, and provided very hospitably for us. As for the major, he had
profited so much by my prescription, as to make a journey to Williamsburg,
which required pretty good health, the distance being little short of one
hundred miles.33.

15th. After our bounteous landlady had cherished us with
roast beef and chicken-pie, we thankfully took leave. At the same time we
separated from our good friend and fellow traveller, major Mayo, who steered
directly home. He is certainly a very useful, as well as an agreeable companion
in the woods, being ever cheerful and good-humoured, under all the little
crosses, disasters, and disappointments of that rambling life. As many of us as
remained jogged on together to Sapponi chapel, where I thanked major Mumford
and Peter Jones for the trouble that they had taken in this long journey. That
ceremony being duly performed, I filed off with my honest friend, Mr. Banister,
to his habitation on Hatcher’s run, which lay about fourteen miles from the
chapel above-mentioned. His good-humoured little wife was glad to see her
runaway spouse returned in safety, and treated us kindly. It was no small
pleasure to me, that my worthy friend found his family in good health, and his
affairs in good order. He came into this ramble so frankly, that I should have
been sorry if he had been a sufferer by it. In the gaiety of our hearts we
drank our bottle a little too freely, which had an unusual effect on persons so
long accustomed to simple element. We were both of us raised out of our beds in
the same manner, and near the same time, which was a fair proof that people who
breath the same air, and are engaged in the same way of living, will be very
apt to fall into the same indispositions. And this may explain why distempers
sometimes go round a family, without any reason to believe they are infectious,
according to the superstition of the vulgar.34.

16th. After pouring down a basin of chocolate, I wished peace
to that house, and departed. As long as Mr. Banister had been absent from his
family, he was yet so kind as to conduct me to major Mumford’s, and which was
more, his wife very obligingly consented to it. The major seemed overjoyed at
his being returned safe and sound from the perils of the woods, though his
satisfaction had some check from the change his pretty wife had suffered in her
complexion. The vermilion of her cheeks had given place a little to the
saffron, by means of a small tincture of the yellow jaundice. I was sorry to
see so fair a flower thus faded, and recommended the best remedy I could think
of. After a refreshment of about an hour, we went on to Col. Bolling’s, who was
so gracious as to send us an invitation. As much in haste as I was to return to
my family, I spent an hour or two at that place, but could by no means be
persuaded to stay dinner, nor could even madam de Graffenriedt’s smiles on one
side of her face shake my resolution. From thence we proceeded to Col.
Mumford’s, who seemed to have taken a new lease, were any dependence to be upon
looks, or any indulgence allowed to the wishes of his friends. An honester a
man, a fairer trader, or a kinder friend, this country never produced: God send
any of his sons may have the grace to take after him. We took a running repast
with this good man, and then bidding adieu both to him and Mr. Banister, I
mounted once more, and obstinately pursued my journey home, though the clouds
threatened, and the heavens looked very lowering. I had not passed the
court-house before it began to pour down like a spout upon me. Nevertheless, I
pushed forward with vigour, and got dripping wet before I could reach
Merchant’s Hope Point. My boat was there luckily waiting for me, and wafted me
safe over. And the joy of meeting my family in health made me in a moment
forget all the fatigues of the journey, as much as if I had been husquenawed.
However, the good Providence that attended me, and my whole company, will I
hope stick fast in my memory, and make me everlastingly thankful.35.

    A list of our Company of all sorts.

  1. Myself,
  2. Major Mayo,
  3. Major Mumford,
  4. Mr. Banister,
  5. Mr. Jones,
  6. Thomas Wilson,
  7. Joseph Colson,
  8. Harry Morris,
  9. Bobert Bolling,
  10. Thomas Hooper,
  11. Lawson,
  12. Three Indians,
  13. Three negroes,
  14. Twenty horses,
  15. Four dogs,

    An account of the distances of places. From Westover to Col. Mumford’s,
    16 miles.

  1. From Col. Mumford’s to major Mumford’s, 6
  2. From thence to Sapponi chapel, 20
  3. From thence to major Embry’s on Nottoway, 10
  4. From thence to Brunswick court-house, 15
  5. From thence to Meherrin river, 8
  6. From thence to the ford on Roanoke, 12
  7. From thence to Col. Stith’s copper mine, 20
  8. From thence to Butcher’s creek, 6
  9. From thence to Blue Stone Castle, 12
  10. From thence to the ford into the fork, 7
  11. From thence to Birche’s creek, 5
  12. From thence to Banister river, 6
  13. From thence to Morris creek, 3
  14. From thence to the Medway, 14
  15. From thence to Maostie creek, 2
  16. From hence to Fork creek, 6
  17. From hence to Peter’s creek, 2
  18. From hence to Jones’ creek, 2
  19. From hence to the first ford over the Dan, 1 & 1/2
  20. From hence to Cane creek, 2½
  21. From hence to the second ford of the Dan, 4 & 1/2
  22. From hence to the mouth of Sable creek, 8
  23. From hence to the south-east corner of my land, 1
  24. From thence to the Dan on my back line, 8
  25. From thence to the Irvin on my back line, 6
  26. From thence to my south-west corner, 1 mile.
  27. From thence to my corner on the west of the Irvin, 3
  28. From thence to the Dan along my upper-line, 4 &
  29. From thence to the mouth of the Irvin, 1 & 1/2
  30. From thence to Sauro creek, 2 & 1/2
  31. From thence to where my back-line crosses the Dan, 5
  32. From thence to my south-east corner, 8
  33. From thence to Cliff creek, 10
  34. From thence to Hixe’s creek, 2
  35. From thence to Hatcher’s creek, 1
  36. From thence to Cocquade creek, 5
  37. From thence to the upper ford of Hico river, 7
  38. From thence to Jesuit’s creek, 4
  39. From thence to where the line cuts Sugar Tree creek, 5
  40. From thence to the mouth of Sugar Tree creek, 4
  41. From thence to the mouth of Hico river, 7
  42. From thence to Wilson’s quarter on Tewahominy creek, 1
  43. From thence to the Dan, 1
  44. From thence across the fork to the Staunton, 2
  45. From thence to Blue Stone Castle, 7
  46. From thence to Sandy creek, 5
  47. From thence to Mr. Mumford’s plantation, 2
  48. From thence to Butcher’s creek, 5
  49. From thence to Allen’s creek, 9
  50. From thence to Joshua Nicholson’s on Meherrin, 18
  51. From thence to Brunswick court-house, 8
  52. From thence to Nottoway bridge, 14
  53. From thence to Sapponi Chapel, 10
  54. From thence to Mr. Banister’s on Hatcher’s run, 12
  55. From thence to Col. Bolling’s plantation, 9
  56. From thence to Col. Mumford’s plantation, 5
  57. From thence to Westover, 16

Full Colophon Information

Genre: Prose
Subjects: Frontier and Pioneer Life, Travel
Period: 1700-1750
Location: British American South, Chesapeake
Format: Account/Relation

This text was originally published in 1733.

The machine-readable text of the present edition was initially prepared from The Westover manuscripts containing the history of the dividing line betwixt Virginia and North Carolina, a journey to the land of Eden, A.D. 1733, and a progress to the mines written from 1728 to 1736 (Petersburg [Va.]: Printed by Edmund and Julian C. Ruffin, 1841) for "Documenting the American South" at the University of North Carolina (Chapel Hill) Libraries by Natalia Smith, who generously has permitted us to use a plain-text version for mark-up in EADA. The .xml encoded document has subsequently been proofed against the original. For the purpose of the present edition, all preliminaries and notes have been omitted except those for which the author is responsible. All editorial notes have been omitted except those that indicate significant textual variations. Line and paragraph numbers contained in the source text have been retained. In cases where the source text displays no numbers, numbers are automatically generated. In the header, personal names have been regularized according to the Library of Congress authority files as "Last Name, First Name" for the REG attribute and "First Name Last Name" for the element value. Names have not been regularized in the body of the text.