The Journal of Christopher Gist, 1750-1751.
Big Bone Lick
March — April
March — April
Sunday - 3 March 1750. — This Morning we parted, They for Hockhockin, and I for the Shannoah Town, and I was quite alone and knew that the French Indians had threatened Us, I left the Path and went to the South Westward down the little Miamee River or Creek, where I had fine travelling thro rich Land and beautiful Meadows, in which I could sometimes see forty or fifty Buffaloes feeding at once — The Little Miamee River or Creek continued to run the Middle of a fine Meadow, about a mile wide cler like an Old Field and not a Bush in it, I coud see the Buffaloes in it above two miles off. I travelled this day about 30 M.
Monday 4. — This day I hard sevral Guns, but was afraid to examine who fired Them, lest they might be some of the French Indians, so I travelled thro the Woods about 30 M; just at night I killed a fine barren Cow-Buffaloe and took out her tongue and a little of her best meat: The Land is still level and rich and well timbered with Oak, Walnut, Ash, Locust, and Sugar Trees.
Tuesday 5. — I travelled about 30 M.
Wednesday 6. — I travelled about 30 M and killed a fat Bear.
Thursday 7. — Set out with my Horse Load of Bear Meat and travelled about 30 M this afternoon I met a Young Man (a Trader) and we encamped together that night; He happened to have some Bread with him, and I had plenty of Meat so we Fared very Well.
Friday 8. — Travelled about 30 M and arrived at Night at the Shannoah Town — All the Indians, as well as the White Men came out to welcome My return to their Town, being glad that all things were rightly settled in the Miamee Country, they fired upwards of 150 Guns in the Town and made an Entertainment in Honour of the late Peace with the Western Indians — In my return from the Twigtwee Town, I did not keep an exact account of Course or Distance; for as the Land thereabouts was every where pretty much the same, I thought it unnecessary, as the situation of the Country was sufficiently described in my Journey to the Twigtwee Town, but have notwithstanding laid down in my plat my Tract pretty nearly.
Sunday March 9. — In the Shannoah Town, I met with one of the Mingoe Chiefs who had been down to the falls of the Ohio, so that we did Not See Him as We went up; I informed Him of the King's Present and the Invitation down to Virginia — He told Us that there was a party of French Indians hunting at the Falls, and that if I went there they would certainly kill me or carry me away Prisoner to the French; For it is certain they would not let me Pass. However I had a great Inclination to see the Falls and the Land on the E side of the Ohio, I resolved to venture as far as Possible.
Sunday 10 and Monday 11. — Stayed in the Town and prepared for my departure.
Tuesday 12. — I got my Horses over the River and after Breakfast My Boy and I got ferryed Over — The Ohio is here near ¾ of a mile wide at Shannoah Town and is very deep and smooth.
Wednesday 13. — We set out S 45 W, down the said River on the S E Side 8 M then S 10 M here I met two men belonging to Robert Smith at whose House I lodged on this side of the Miamee River, and one Hugh Crawford the said Robt. Smith had given me an order upon these men for two of the teeth of a large Beest, which they were bringing from towards the Falls of the Ohio, one of which I turned in and delivered to the Ohio Company — Robert Smith informed Me that about seven years ago these Teeth and bones of three large Beests (One of which was somewhat smaller than the other two.) were found in a Salt Lick or Spring upon a small Creek which runs into the S Side of the Ohio about 15 M below the Mouth of the great Miamee River, and 20 above the Falls, He assured me that the Rib Bones of the largest of these Beests were eleven Feet long and the Skull Bone six feet wide, and the other bones in proportion; and that there were several teeth there, some of which he called horns, and they said they were upwards of Five Feet long, and as much as a man coud well carry; that he had his one in a Branch some distance from the place, lest the French Indians should carry it away — The tooth which I brought in for the Ohio Company, was a Jaw toothe of better Weight than four Pounds; it appeared to be the furtherest Tooth in the Jaw, and looked Like Fine Ivory when the outside was scraped off — I also met four Shannoah Indians coming up the River in their Canoes, who informed me there were about sixty French Indians encamped at the Falls.
Thursday 14. — I went down the River S 15 M the Land upon this Side the Ohio chiefly broken, and the Bottoms but narrow.
Friday 15. — S 5 M, S W 10 M to a creek that was so-high that We coud not get over that Night. Saturday 16. — S. 45 W about 35 M.
Sunday 17. — The same Course 15 M, the N 45 W 5 M.
Monday 18. — N 45 W 5 M then S W 20 M to the lower Salt Lick Creek which Robert Smith and the Indians told was about 15 miles above the Falls of the Ohio; The Land still Hilly, the Salt Lick here much the same as those described — This day we heard Guns which made me imagine the French Indians were not moved, but were still Hunting, and firing thereabouts: We also saw some Traps newly set, and the Footsteps of some Indians plain on the ground as if they had been there the day before — I was now much trouble that I could not comply with my instructions, & was once resolved to leave the Boy and Horses and go privately on Foot to view the Falls; but the Boy being a poor Hunter, was afraid he would starve if I was long from him and ther was also great danger lest the French Indians shoud come upon our Horses tracks or hear their Bells and as I had seen good Land enough, I thought I might be blamed for venturing so far, in such Dangerous Times, and so I concluded not to go to the Falls but travell'd away to the Southward till We were over the little Cuttaway River — The Falls of the Ohio by the best information I could get are not very steep, on S E Side there is a Bar of Land at some distance from the Shore, the Water between the Bar and the Shore not above 3 feet deep, and the Stream Moderately Strong, the Indians frequently pass thro safely in their Canoes this passage, but are obliged to take great Care as they go down lest the Current which is much stronger on the NW Side should draw them that way; Which woud be very dangerous as the Water in that side runs with great rapidity over several ledges and Rocks; The water below the Falls they say is about six Fathoms deep, and the River continues without any obstructions till it empties itself into the Mississippi which is reckoned about 400 M — The Ohio near the Mouth is said to be very broad and the Land very rich and in general very Level, all the Way from the Falls — After I had determined not to go to the Falls We turned from Salt Lick Creek to a Ridge of Mountains that made towards the Cuttaway River, and from the Top of that Mountains we saw a fine level Country S W as far as Our Eyes coud behold and it was a very clear day; we went down thro the Mountain and set out S 20 W about 5 M thro rich level Land covered with small Walnut Sugar Trees, Red Buds &c.
Tuesday March 19. — We set out S and crossed several Creeks running to the S W at about 12 M came to the little Cuttaway River: We were obliged to go up it about 1 M to an Island which was the Shoalest place we coud find to cross it We then continued Our course in all about 30 M through level rich Land except about 2 miles which was broken and indifferent. This Level is about 35 M broad and as we came up the side of it along the Branches of the little Cuttaway River We found it about 150 M long; and how far to the S W we coud not tell, but imagined it held to the Cuttaway River which would be upwards of 100 M More, and appeared much broader that Way than here, as I coud discern from the Top of the Mountains.
Wednesday 20. — We did not travel, I went up to the Top of a Mountain to view the Country, to the S E it looked very Broken, and Mountainous but to the Eastward and S W it appeared very level.
Thursday 21. — Set out S 45 E 15 M S 5 M, here I found a place where the stones shined like Polished Brass, the Heat of the Sun drew out of them a kind of Borax or Saltpetre only something a bit sweeter; some of which I brought in to the Ohio Company, tho I believe it was nothing but a Sort of Sulphur.
Friday 22. — S E 12 M, I killed a fat Bear and was taken sick that Night.
Saturday 23. — I staid here and sweated after the Indian Fashion, which helped me.
Sunday 24. — Set out E 2 M, NE 3 M, N 1 M, E 2 M, SE 5 M, N 2 M, S.E. 7 M. to a small Creek We encamped in a Place where we had poor food for our Horses and & both we and they were much wearied: The Reason for our making so many short course was caused by being driven by a Branch of the little Cuttaway River (whose Banks were so exceedingly steep we coud not Ford) into a ledge of Rocky Laurel Mountains which were almost impassable.
Monday 25. — Set out S E 10 M, S W 1 M, S E 1 M, S W 1 M, S E 1 M, S W 1 M S E 1M S W 1 M, S E 5 M killed 2 buffalo and took out their Tongues and encamped — Thes two Days we travelled thro Rock and Mountains full of Laurel Thicket which we could hardly creep thro without cutting Our way.
Wednesday 27. — Our Horses and Selves were so tired that we were obliged to stay this day to rest, for we were unable to travel — on all the Branches of the little Cuttaway River was plenty of coal some of which I brought in to the Ohio Company.
Thursday 28. — Set out S E 15 M crossing Creeks of the little Cuttaway River the Land being full still of Coal and Black slate.
Friday 29. — The same course SE about 12 M the land still Mountainous.
Saturday 30. — Stayed to rest our Horses I went on Foot and found a passage thro the Mountains to another Creek, or Fork of the same Creek we were on.
Sunday 31. — The same Course S E 15 M killed a Buffaloe and encamped.
Monday April 1 . — Set out the same Course about 20 M. Part of the way we went along a path up the side of a little creek at the head of which was a Gap in the Mountains then our Path went down another Creek to a Lick where Blocks of Coal about 8 to 10 In: Square lay upon the Surface of the Ground, here we killed a Bear and encamped.
Tuesday 2. — Set out S 2 M, SE 1 M, NE 3 M, killed a Buffaloe.
Wednesday 3. — S 1 M, SW 3 M, E 3 M. SE 2 M, to a small Creek on which was a large Warriors Camp, that would contain 70 Or 80 Warriors, their captains Name or Title was the Crane, as I knew by his picture or Arms painted on a Tree.
Thursday 4. — We stayed here all Day to rest our Horses, and I platted down our Courses and I found I had still near 200 M Home upon a Streight Line.
Friday 5. — Rained and we stayed at the Warriors Camp.
Saturday 6. — We went along the Warrior's Road S 1 M, SE 3 M, S 2M, SE 3M, E 3 M, killed a bear.
Sunday 7. — Set out E 2M, NE 1M, SE 1 M, S 1M, W 1 M, SW 1 M, S 1 M, SE 2 M, S 1 M.
Monday 8. — S 1 M, SE 1 M, E 3 M, SE 1 M, E 3 M, NE 2 M, N 1 M, E 1 M, N 1 M, E 2 M and encamped on a small Laurel Creek.