Saturday, January 24, 2015

James Douglass at Big Bone. 1773

James Douglass at Big Bone
edited by
Avi Hathor

 In 1773, James Douglas, another surveyor, come to the Rapids of Ohio, where he also landed, and from whence he explored the country, with the M'Afee's, into the neighborhood of Harrodsburgh, and thence returned home, to Williamsburgh.

 On his way to the Falls, he landed at the mouth of a creek, since called Landing Creek; a few miles above the mouth of the Big Bone Lick Creek; and went over land a mile and an half, to see the large bones, of which fame had said so much, the learned risked so many conjectures, and every body knew so little. If the sight of these bones gratified the curiosity of Douglass, and his party, their numbers and size filled them with the most profound astonishment. Nor was the Lick itself, an object of ordinary interest.

 Douglass determined to remain sometime at this place; and there being no materials more convenient, the rib bones of a being once animated, were used as tent poles, on which the party stretched their blankets, for a shelter, from the sun, and rain. They found many teeth, from eight, to ten, and some twelve feet in length; one in particular was fastened in a perpendicular direction in the mud and clay, with the elevated end six feet above the surface of the ground; an effort was made in vain, by six men, to extract it from its mortice.

 The Lick itself exhibited about ten acres of land, bare of timber, and of grass; much trodden, eaten, and washed below the original surface, with here and there a knob in it, shewing its former elevation of earth.

 Through the midst of this Lick ran the creek, and on either side, a never failing stream of salt-water. The these from all parts of the country, were converging roads, made by the wild animals, which resorted them for the salt.
 The whole of which in the simple language of a rude hunter, who accompanied Douglass, "were wonderful to see."

 The next year Douglass revisited Kentucky, and was principally on the waters of Elkhorn, Hickman, and Jessamine, where he executed a number of surveys on military bounty lands, as the records attest.
 It was his intention to have become a permanent resident, but death forbid it, and he obeyed.

Humphrey Marshall, The History of Kentucky, (Frankfort, 1812; Reprint, 1971), p. 85-87.

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