Saturday, January 24, 2015

Nicholas Cresswell at Big Bone

Nicholas Cresswell at Big Bone

from the

Journal (1774-1777)

The Ohio River
The Indian Country
edited by
Avi Hathor

Ohio River — Thursday, June 15th, 1775.

 Intended to kill some meat at the Elephant Bone Lick. Proceeded down the River in company with nine of Captn. Cresop's people. Our company increased to 14 persons and almost as many different nations, two Englishmen, two Irishmen, one Welshman, two Dutchmen, two Virginians, two Marylanders, one Swede, one African Negro, and a Mulatto. With the motley, rascally, and ragged crew I have to travel six hundred miles. I expect we shall have a great deal of quarrelling, but as we are in three Canoes it will be a means of keeping them quiet. Got to the Mouth of the River about noon. Proceeded up the Ohio, where we killed a Buffalo and camped.
Friday, June 16th, 1775.

 Very heavy rain last night, which made our lodging uncomfortable. Got under way this morning early, with wet clothes and hungry bellies. Obliged to pole up the River. This is done with poles about 12 feet long, the men stand in the vessel, set the pole against the bottom of the River, and push themselves along. It is a laborious exercise. Fortunately for me, none of our company can steer with a pole. I am obliged to sit and steer with a paddle. Killed another Buffalo on the Banks of the River. Our company quarrelled and the Irishman left us and went to Cresop's people, but returned to us at the Bone Lick where we camped.
Saturday, June 17th, 1775.

 This morning set out for the Elephant Bone Lick, which is only three miles S. E. of the River. However, we lost our way and I suppose travelled twenty miles before we found it. Where the bones are found is a large muddy pond, a little more than knee deep with a Salt spring in it which I suppose preserves the bones sound. Found several bones of a prodigious size, I take them to be Elephants, for we found part of a tusk, about two foot long, Ivory to all appearance, but by length of time had grown yellow and very soft. All of us stripped and went into the pond to grabble for teeth and found several. Joseph Passiers found a jaw tooth which he gave me. It was judged by the company to weigh 10 pound. I got a shell of a Tusk of hard and good ivory about eighteen inches long. There is a great number of bones in a Bank on the side of the pond of an enormous size but decayed and rotten. Ribs 9 inches broad, Thigh bones 10 inches in diameter. What sort of animals these were is not clearly known. All the traditionary accounts by the Indians is that they were White Buffaloes that killed themselves by drinking salt water. It appears to me from the shape of their teeth that they were Grasseaters. There neither is or ever was any Elephants in North or South America, that I can learn, or any quadruped one tenth part as large as these was, if one may be allowed to judge from the appearance of these bones, which must have been considerably larger than they are now. Captn. Hancock Lee told me he had found a Tusk here that was six foot long, very sound but yellow. These tusks are like those brought from the Coast of Africa. Saw some Buffaloes but killed none. Several Indian paintings on the trees. Got plenty of Mulberries, very sweet and pleasant fruit but bad for the teeth. One of the company shot a Deer. The loudest Thunder and heaviest rain I ever saw this afternoon. Got to the Camp well wet and most heartily tired. An Irish rascal has broken a piece of my Elephant tooth, put me in a violent passion, can write no more.

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