« PreviousContinue »
BUGAIl CAMP—CHILLICOTHE—INDIAN ANTIQUITIES.
Upon leaving Mr. Miller's I took the road to Frankfort, passing through the little towns (as they are called) of Newmarket, Lebanon, Perryville, Harrodsburgh and Lawrenceburgh. With the exception of Harrodsburgh all these are insignificant little villages, and, as I have mentioned before, are much upon the decline. The whole distance from the cavern to Frankfort is 130 miles; but, except to the agriculturist, the country through which the road passes is very uninteresting.
I staid a few days at Frankfort, and then began my return to the Eastward. At Lexington I found that preparations were making to celebrate the anniversary of the birth-day of Washington. Accordingly three orations were pronounced, one in the College, and two in the largest Church. I was much pleased with one of them; the others inclined greatly to bombast. The Volunteer corps of the town were called out, and fired a feu-dejoie, and the day terminated with a public dinner.
The birth-day of Washington, and the anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, are the two great annual festivals of the United States. The latter however is the chief one; as on that day in every town, village, or little community, one person is selected to read the Declaration of Independence, and to make a public speech; and the whole of the soldiery, militia, and independent companies assemble under arms and are inspected.
From Lexington I returned to Maysville; and as the river was scarcely navigable for steam-boats, on account of the loose ice that was floating down it, I determined to travel on horseback through the State of Ohio to Wheeling. Accordingly I crossed the river, and took the road to Chillicothe.
Owing to the breaking up of the winter frost, the roads were now so soft and muddy, that even by dint of riding from sun rise to sun set, I could only proceed about 24 miles a day.
On the second day after leaving Maysville, I stopped at a very comfortable tavern kept by a Mr. Willis, a very old man, who had been a soldier in the revolutionary war. He was one of those individuals who threw the tea into the sea at Boston; and he assured me, that the commonly received historical account of those persons that committed that act being disguised as Indians, was not true. I sat up till very late, being much entertained with his anecdotes concerning that interesting period.
I may here remark, that the traveller, in crossing from Kentucky into Ohio, sees at once the marked difference between a slave and a free State; for though Ohio is by much the younger State, he will there find a far greater degree of comfort and cleanliness, in both the interior and the exterior of the houses and taverns. This arises from the habits of industry necessary in a new State, where that moral pest Slavery is not tolerated.
Before arriving at Chillicothe I passed a verylarge sugar camp, and dismounted in order to drink some of the pleasant and refreshing juice which was running in great quantities from the holes bored in the trees.
In Ohio, as well as in most of the middle and western States, the sugar-maple (acer saccharinum) is found in abundance, and supplies the inhabitants with the greatest part of their sugar.
When the frosts of winter begin to break up, and when in consequence the sap rises, a number of families from each village or town, provide themselves with large iron kettles, and encamp in the woods wherever these trees are numerous. These places are called Sugar Camps. To procure the sugar a hole is bored in each tree, with a half-inch auger, to the depth of an inch and a half, or two inches. Into this hole is thrust a small piece of split elder, which serves as a spout, and is generally about two feet and a half from the ground. For a few hours in the middle of the day, when the sun shines and warms the air, the juice runs in considerable quantities into the wooden troughs placed to receive it. These, when full, are emptied into kettles, where the limpid juice is boiled down. A single tree will, during the season, often produce as much as eight pounds of sugar; and a family will generally collect as much as eight or nine hundred weight, and in a good year twenty hundred weight. I could not learn that the trees suffered materially from this loss of sap. When the season terminates, small wooden plugs are inserted into the holes that have been bored, and are taken out again on the following season, each hole being merely cleared out with the auger.
.This tree merits the attention of our English economists. It is very hardy, growing well both in New York and Pennsylvania, and I am nearly sure would thrive in England. The sugar made from it, is, in my opinion, superior in flavour to that made from the cane, though undoubtedly inferior in strength.
The whole of this part of the State of Ohio still felt the destructive effects, occasioned, the autumn before, by the host of squirrels that marched through the country. Every farmer lost a part of his crop of Indian corn, and many their whole. The consequence was, that their cattle, and particularly their hogs, suffered in such a remarkable degree, that I saw them starving to death even in the yards of the farmers.
Chillicothe, on the Sciota river, was a few years ago only an Indian village; but it is now a flourishing and rapidly increasing town, the second in the State of Ohio, and containing 3,400 inhabitants.
Within a short distance of this place are some old Indian mounds, on a small stream called " Paint Creek." These, though much has been said and written about them, are merely the works of barbarians, and are utterly unworthy of attention.
I have seen many such, on the Ohio river, near the Mississippi, and in Kentucky; and as regarded the rudeness of their structure, there appeared to me a great similarity in all of them.
It has been a favourite theory with some American literati, that their country was in olden time inhabited by a somewhat civilized people, who dwelt there before the present race of Indians. To prove this they refer you to these mounds; and it is truly ludicrous to see how easily the learned antiquaries convert them into forts, fortifications, &c. &c. &c.
I have seen some hundreds of specimens of flint axes, unglazed earthenware, &c. collected from these mounds, both in public Museums and in the collections of private individuals. Judging from similar articles brought by Captain Cook from Owhyhee and other of the South Sea islands, it appears to me, that the savage islanders must have been far advanced in civilization, beyond these imaginary predecessors of the American Aborigines.
It has been said, that many of these Indian mounds resemble, in their exterior, our European Barrows; which is only saying that one rude mound of earth resembles another. The Barrows however, on being opened, present us with very different