Schoolcraft's Ozark Journey

Near Salem

Tuesday, November 10th, 1818

We packed our horse this morning at day-light, notwithstanding the rain which commenced last evening, and continued at intervals during the night. On travelling about ten miles, we left the Osage trace, which began to diverge too far north, and struck through the woods in a south course, with a view of reaching a large saltpetre cave known to exist in that quarter. Shortly after we quit the Indian trace, Roberts, who was in advance on our left about half-a-mile, fired at, and killed a deer, and immediately reloaded his rifle, pursued, and fired again, telling us to continue, as he could easily, being on horseback, overtake us. We accordingly pursued our route until night, and are now encamped on the banks of a small lake, in a prairie containing several small ponds or lakes, not having yet been rejoined by our hunter. One of the greatest inconveniences we experience in travelling in this region, arises from the difficulty of finding, at the proper time, a place of encampment affording wood and water, both of which are indispensable. On this account we find it prudent to encamp early in the afternoon, when we come to a spring of good water, with plenty of wood for fire, and grass for our horse; and, on the contrary, are compelled to travel late at night in order to find them. This is a difficulty which attends us this evening, having been compelled to stop in an open prairie, where wood is very scarce, and the water bad-general course of travelling south-weather pleasant, the rain having ceased shortly after day-light. Lands poor; trees, oaks; game observed, deer and elk. Distance twenty miles.

-Henry Schoolcraft

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