Schoolcraft's Ozark Journey

Near Cave City

Tuesday, January 19th, 1819

Before leaving the banks of White River, it is due to the hardy, frank, and independent hunters, through whose territories we have travelled, and with whom we have from time to time sojourned, to say, that we have been uniformly received at their cabins with a blunt welcome, and experienced the most hospitable and generous treatment. This conduct, which we were not prepared to expect, is the more remarkable, in being wholly disinterested, for no remuneration in money for such entertainment (with a very few exceptions,) was ever demanded; but, when presented, uniformly refused, on the principle of its not being customary to accept pay of the traveller, for any thing necessary to his sustenance. Nor can we quit the house at which we have been made to feel our return to the land of civilization, after an absence of several months, without a grateful expression of our sense of the kind civilities and generous attention with which we have been treated. There is but one thing I have to regret on my departure from Poke Bayou; it is my inability to carry along my entire collections in natural history, too bulky and too heavy to be conveyed in a shoulder pack, the only mode of transportation at our command. Selecting, however, such as were most rare or interesting, either from locality, or physical constitution, I filled my pack to a point, which, superadded to the weight of a gun, rifle, pouch, portfolio, etc. I judged myself capable of carrying; and we left Poke Bayou at ten o'clock, taking the high-road toward the north-west. For the first five miles we passed across the alluvial tract, extending northwardly to the river, on which several farms and plantations are located, and the country wears a look of agricultural industry and increasing population. The farms, the improvements upon them, and the road we travelled, all appeared new. The houses were constructed of logs, and the lands fenced with rails laid in the zig-zag manner practised in western Virginia and Kentucky. We now entered on the secondary lime-stone formation, which bounds the Mississippi alluvion on the west, a tract of country gently elevated, covered with a flinty soil and scanty vegetation, and indented by innumerable little valleys, which give it a rough and barren aspect. On this are found no settlements in the distance of thirteen miles, during the last mile of which I had wrenched my ancle in such a way as to render it extremely painful in walking, and we stopped early in the afternoon, at a small plantation fortuitously at hand.

-Henry Schoolcraft

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Funding for the Schoolcraft Journey project on Unlock the Ozarks has been provided by the Missouri Humanities Council.