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REESE LIBRARY



UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA



ClcISS




Travels to the West of the Alleghany Mountains,
BY Francois André Michaux



Reprint from London edition, 1805




r MKfitDlKJN UK I-'lSLf. /'A />.



TRAVELS

TO THE WEST OF THE
IN THE STATES OP

KENTUCKY, AND TENNESSEA.

and back to charleston, by the upper
Carolines;

COMP&JSING

The most interesting Details on the present State oj

^5i*(fulture,

AND

THE NATURAL PRODUCE OF THOSE œUNTRIES;

TOGETHER WITH

Particulars relative to the Commerce that exists hetpeen the above*

mentioned States, and those situated East of the Moujitaiits

and Low Louisiana,

UKDERTAKEN, IN THE YEAR 1802,

UNDER THE AUSPICBS OF

His Excellency M. CHAPTAL, Minister of the Interior,

By F. a. MICHAUX.

MEMBER OF THE SOCIETY OF NATUKAL HISTOBY AT PARIS; CORBES»

TONDENT OF THE AGBICULTOBAL SOCIETY IN THE DEPARTMENT

OF THE SEINE aND OlâE.



ïLonîion:

rmM ky D. N. SHURT , BenriOi Stnet, Sober

FOB B. CBOSBY AJÎD CO. STATIONERS* COURT i

AND J. P. BT7GBBS« WIGMOBB 8TBEET> OAVEMOISH SaUAES»

1805.



— «fa»*— ^1^— rtft—— —— ^wwa— É«6»j— e au ■ m e ïigffii ' j rg i l ' ig f!



TRAVELS

TO TWE WEST or. THE



ÎN THE STATES OP



0Uo.



KENTUCKY. AND TENNESSEA.

and back to charleston, by the upper
Carolines;

COMP&JSINC

The most interesting Details on the present State oj

Sfgvtfulture,

AND

THE NATURAL PRODUCE OF THOSE COUNTRIES:

TOGETHER WITH

Purticulars relative to the Commerce that exists between the above*

mentioned States, and those situated East of the Moujitairts

and Low Louisiana,

UKDERTAKEN, IN THE YEAR 1802,

UNDER THE AUSFICDS OF

His Excellency M. CHAPTAL, Minister of the Interior,

By F. a. MICHAUX.

MEMBER OF THE SOCIETY OF NATURAL HISTORY AT PARIS; CORBES»

TONDENT OF THE ACRICULTOBAL SOCIETY ÏN THE DEPABTMENT

OF THE SEINE aNO OISE.



lonDon ;

riMM ky D. N. SUURT , Benria Stnct, S«h«'

rOB B. CEOSBÏ A|«D CO, STATIONERS* COUBT;

AMD J. P. BUGHBS;, WIOMOBE 8TBEET, CAVENDISH SûUAESs

1805.



CONTENTS

CHAP. I

Departure from Bourdeaux. — Arrival at Charleston.— Jle-
marks upon the yellow fever. — A short description of the
town of Charleston. — Observations upon several trees,
natives of the old continent, reared in a botanic garden near
the city ........ 117

CHAP. II

Departure from Charleston for New York. — A short description
of the town. — Botanic excursions in New Jersey. — Re-
marks upon the quercus tinctoria, or black oak, and the nut
trees of that country. — Departure from New York for
Philadelphia. — Abode . . . . . . 125

[vi] CHAP. Ill

Departure from Philadelphia to the western country. — Commu-
nications by land in the United States. — Arrival at Lancas-
ter. — Description of the town and its environs. — Departure.
— Columbia. — Passage from Susquehannah, York, Dover,
Carlisle. — Arrival at Shippensburgh. — Remarks upon the
state of agriculture during the journey . . . 132

CHAP. IV

Departure from Shippensburgh to Strasburgh. — Journey over
the Blue Ridges. — New Species of rhododendrum. — Passage
over the river Juniata. — Use of the cones of the magnolia
acuminata. — Arrival at Bedford Court House. — Excesses
to which the natives of that part of the country are ad-
dicted. — Departure from Bedford. — Journey over Alle-
ghany Ridge and Laurel Hill. — Arrival at West Liberty
Town ......... 141



112 Early Western Travels [Vol. 3



CHAP. V

Departure from West Liberty Town to go among the mountains
in search of a shrub supposed to give good oil, a new species
of azalea. — Ligonier Valley. — Coal Mines. — Greensburgh.
— Arrival at Pittsburgh ...... 149

[vii] CHAP. VI

Description of Pittsburgh. — Commerce of the Town and ad-
jacent countries with New Orleans. — Construction of large
vessels. — Description of the rivers Monongahela and Alle-
ghany. — Towns situated on their banks. — Agriculture. —
Maple sugar . . . . . . . .156

CHAP. VII

Description of the Ohio. — Navigation of that river. — Mr. S.
Craft. — The object of his travels. — Remarks upon the state
of Vermont ........ 163

CHAP. VIII

Departure from Pittsburgh for Kentucky. — Journey by land to
Wheeling. — State of agricultu re on the route. — West Liber-
ty Town in Virginia. — Wheeling . . . . 168

CHAP. IX

Departure from Wheeling for Marietta. — Aspect of the banks
of the Ohio. — Nature of the forests. — Extraordinary size of
several kinds of trees . . . . . . 172

[viii] CHAP. X

Marietta. — Ship building. — Departure for Galhpoli. — Falling
in with a Kentucky boat. — Point Pleasant. — The Great
Kenhaway ........ 177

CHAP. XI

Gallipoli. — State of the French colony Scioto. — Alexandria at
the mouth of the Great Scioto. — Arrival at Limestone in
Kentucky ........ 182



i8o2] F. A. Michaux' s Travels 1 1 3

CHAP. XII

Fish and shells of the Ohio. — Inhabitants on the banks of the
river. — Agriculture. — American emigrant. — Commercial in-
telligence relative to that part of the United States . 188

CHAP. XIII

Limestone. — Route from Limestone to Lexinton. — Washington.

— Salt-works at Mays-Lick. — Millesburgh. — Paris . 195

CHAP. XIV

Lexinton. — Manufactories established there. — Commerce. — Dr.

Samuel Brown ....... 199

[ix] CHAP. XV

Departure from Lexinton. — Culture of the vine at Kentucky. —
Passage over the Kentucky and Dick Rivers. — Departure
for Nasheville. — Mulder Hill. — Passage over Green River 206

CHAP. XVI

Passage over the Barrens, or Meadows. — Plantations upon the
road. — The view they present. — Plants discovered there. —
Arrival at Nasheville . . . . . . 215

CHAP. XVII

General observations upon Kentucky. — Nature of the soil. — *
First settlements in the state. — Right of property uncertain.
— Population . . . . . . . 222

CHAP. XVIII

Distinction of Estates. — Species of Trees peculiar to each of them.

— Ginseng. — Animals in Kentucky . . . . 228

CHAP. XIX

Different kinds of culture in Kentucky. — Exportation of colonial

produce. — Peach trees. — Taxes . . . . 237



114 Early Western Travels [Vol. 3

[x] CHAP. XX

Particulars relative to the manners of the inhabitants of Ken-
tucky. — Horses and cattle. — Necessity of giving them salt.
— Wild Horses caught in the Plains of New Mexico. — Ex-
portation of salt provisions ..... 243

[CHAP.] XXI
Nasheville. — Commercial details. — Settlement of the Natches 250

CHAP. XXII

Departure for Knoxville. — Arrival at Fort Blount. — Remarks
upon the drying up of the Rivers in the Summer. — Planta-
tions on the road. — Fertility of the soil. — Excursions in a
canoe on the river Cumberland . . . . 255

CHAP. XXIII

Departure from Fort Blount to West Point, through the Wilder-
ness. — Botanical excursions upon Roaring River. — Descrip-
tion of its Banks. — Saline productions found there. — Indian
Cherokees. — Arrival at Knoxville .... 258

[xi] CHAP. XXIV
Knoxville. — Commercial intelligence. — Trees that grow in the
environs. — Converting some parts of the Meadows into
Forests. — River Nolachuky. — Greensville. — Arrival at
Jonesborough ....... 265

CHAP. XXV

General observations on the state of Tennessea. — Rivers Cum-
berland and Tennessea. — What is meant by East Tennessea
or Holston, and West Tennessea or Cumberland. — Fiist
settlements in West Tennessea. — Trees natives of that
country ........ 271

CHAP. XXVI

Different kinds of produce of West Tennessea. — Domestic manu-
factories for cottons encouraged by the Legislature of this
State. — Mode of letting out Estates by some of the Emi-
grants 276



i8o2] F. A. Michaux' s Travels 1 1 5



CHAP. XXVII

East Tennessea, or Holston. — Agriculture. — Population. — Com-
merce ......... 280

[xii] CHAP. XXVIII

Departure from Jonesborough for Morganton, in North Caro-
lina. — Journey over Iron Mountains. — Sojourn on the
mountains. — Journey over the Blue Ridges and Linneville
Mountains. — Arrival at Morganton .... 283

CHAP. XXIX

General observations upon this part of the Chain of the Alle-
ghanies. — Salamander which is found in the torrents. —
Bear hunting ....... 286

CHAP. XXX

Morganton. — Departure for Charleston. — Lincolnton. — Ches-
ter. — Winesborough. — Columbia. — Aspect of the Country
on the Road. — Agriculture, &c. &c. .... 290

CHAP. XXXI

General observations on the Carolinas and Georgia. — Agricul-
ture and produce peculiar to the upper part of these states 296

CHAP. XXXII

Low part of the Carolines and Georgia. — Agriculture. — Popula-
tion. — Arrival at Charleston 301



TRAVELS, &C., &C.



CHAP. I

Departure from Bourdeaux. — Arrival at Charleston. —
Remarks upon the yellow jever. — A short description of
the town of Charleston. — Observations upon several
trees, natives of the old continent, reared in a botanic gar-
den near the city.

Charleston, in South Carolina, being the first place
of my destination, I went to Bourdeaux as one of the
ports of France that trades most with the southern parts
of the United States, and where there are most commonly
vessels from the different points of North America. I
embarked the 24th of [2] September 1801, on board the
John and Francis, commanded by the same captain with
whom I returned to Europe several years ago.^ A fortnight
after our departure we were overtaken by a calm, within
sight of the Açorian Islands. Saint George's and Graci-
osa were those nearest to us, where we clearly distinguished
a few houses, which appeared built with stone and chalk;
and the rapid declivity of the land divided by hedges,
which most likely separated the property of different
occupiers. The major part of these islands abound with
stupendous mountains, in various directions, and beyond
which the summit of Pico, in a pyramidical form rises
majestically above the clouds, which were then illumined

^ The date given here is evidently wrong; the translation in Phillips's Voy-
ages gives it as August 25, which corresponds with the arrival of Michaux in
Charleston. — Ed.



1 1 8 Early Western Travels [Vol. 3

by the rays of the setting sun. A gentle breeze springing
up, we soon lost sight of that charming prospect, and on
the 9th of October following entered the Charleston roads,
in company with two other vessels which had left Bour-
deaux, the one eighteen days, and the other a month before
us.

' The pleasure that we felt on discovering the shore was
very soon abated. The pilot informed us that the yellow
fever had made dreadful ravages at Charleston, and was
still carrying off a great number of the inhabitants. This
intelligence alarmed the [3] passengers, who were four-
teen in number, the most of whom had either friends or
relatives in the town. Every one was fearful of learning
some disastrous news or other. The anchor was no
sooner weighed than those who had never been accus-
tomed to warm countries were escorted by their friends to
the Isle of Sullivan. This island is situated about seven
miles from Charleston. Its dry and parched-up soil is
almost bereft of vegetation; but as it is exposed to the
breeze of the open sea, the air is generally cool and pleas-
ant. Within these few years, since that bilious and in-
flammatory disorder, commonly known by the name of
the yellow jever, shows itself regularly every summer at
Charleston, a great number of the inhabitants and plant-
ers, who took refuge in the town to escape the intermittent
fevers which attack seven-tenths of those resident in the
country, have built houses in that island, where they so-
journ from the early part of July till the first frost, which
usually takes place about the 15th of November. A few
of the inhabitants keep boarding-houses, where they
receive those who have no settled residence. It has
been remarked that foreigners, newly arrived from
Europe or the states of North America, and [4] who go



1 802] F. A. Michaux' s Travels 1 1 9

immediately to reside in this island, are exempt from the
yellow fever.

However powerful these considerations were, they could
not induce me to go and pass my time in such a dull and
melancholy abode; upon which I refused the advice of my
friends, and staid in the town. I had nearly been the
victim of my obstinacy, having been, a few days after,
attacked with the first symptoms of this dreadful malady,
under which I laboured upward of a month.

The yellow fever varies every year according to the
intenseness of the heat; at the same time the observation
has not yet been forcible enough to point out the charac-
teristic signs by which they can discover whether it will
be more or less malignant in the summer. The natives
are not so subject to it as foreigners, eight-tenths of whom
died the year of my arrival ; and whenever the former are
attacked with it, it is always in a much less proportion.

It has been observed that during the months of July,
August, September, and October, when this disorder is
usually most prevalent, the persons who leave Charleston
for a few days only, are, on their return to town, much
more susceptible of catching it [5 ] than those who staid at
home. The natives of Upper Carolina, two or three
hundred miles distant, are as subject to it as foreigners;
and those of the environs are not always exempt from it:
whence it results that during one third of the year all
communications are nearly cut off between the country
and town, whither they go but very reluctantly, and seldom
or ever sleep there. The supply of provisions at that
time is only made by the negroes, who are never subject
to the fever. On my return to Charleston in the month
of October 1802, from my travels over the western part of
the country, I did not meet, on the most populous road,



I 20 Early Western Travel s [Vol. 3

for the space of three hundred miles, a smgle traveller
that was either going to town or returning from it; and
in the houses where I stopped there was not a person who
conceived his business of that importance to oblige him
to go there while the season lasted.

From the ist of November till the month of May the
country affords a picture widely different; every thing
resumes new life; trade is re-animated; the suspended
communications re-commence; the roads are covered
with waggons, bringing from all quarters the produce of
the exterior; an immense number of carriages and single-
horse chaises roll rapidly [6] along, and keep up a con-
tinual correspondence between the city and the neigh-
bouring plantations, where the owners spend the greatest
part of the season. In short, the commercial activity
renders Charleston just as lively as it is dull and melan-
choly in the summer.

It is generally thought at Charleston that the yellow
fever which rages there, as well as at Savannah, every
summer, is analogous to that which breaks out in the colo-
nies, and that it is not contagious: but this opinion is not
universally adopted in the northern cities. It is a fact, that
whenever the disease is prevalent at New York and Phila-
delphia, the natives are as apt to contract it as foreigners,
and that they remove as soon as they learn that their neigh-
bours are attacked with it. Notwithstanding they have a
very valuable advantage that is not to be found at Charles-
ton, which is, that the country places bordering on Philadel-
phia and New York are pleasant and salubrious; and that
at two or three miles' distance the inhabitants are in per-
fect safety, though even the disorder committed the great-
est ravages in the above-mentioned towns.

I took the liberty to make this slight digression, for the



i8o2] F. A. Michaux' s Travels 121

information of those who might have to go to the [7]
southern parts of the United States that it is dangerous
to arrive there in the months of July, August, September,
and October. I conceived, like many others, that the
using of every means necessary to prevent the efferves-
cence of the blood was infallibly a preservative against
this disorder; but every year it is proved by experience
that those who have pursued that mode of living, which
is certainly the best, are not all exempt from sharing the
fate of those who confine themselves to any particular
kind of regimen.

' Charleston is situated at the conflux of the rivers Ashley
and Cooper. The spot of ground that it occupies is
about a mile in length. From the middle of the principal
street the two rivers might be clearly seen, were it not for
a public edifice built upon the banks of the Cooper, which
intercepts the view. The most populous and commercial
part of the town is situated along the Ashley. Several
ill-constructed quays project into the river, to facilitate
the trading vessels taking in their cargoes. These quays
are formed with the trunks of palm trees fixed together,
and laid out in squares one above the other. Experience
has shown that the trunks of these trees, although of a
very spungy nature, lie buried in the [8] water many
years without decaying; upon which account they are
generally preferred for these purposes to any other kind
of wood in the country. The streets of Charleston are
extremely wide, but not paved, consequently every time
your foot slips from a kind of brick pavement before the
doors, you are immerged nearly ancle-deep in sand. The
rapid circulation of the carriages, which, proportionately
speaking, are far more considerable here in number than
in any other part of America, continually grinds this mov-



12 2 Early Western Travels [Vol. 3

ing sand, and pulverizes it in such a manner, that the
most gentle wind fills the shops with it, and renders it
very disagreeable to foot passengers. At regular dis-
tances pumps supply the inhabitants with water of such a
brackish taste, that it is truly astonishing how foreigners
can grow used to it. Two-thirds of the houses are built
with wood, the rest with brick. According to the last
computation, made in 1803, the population, comprising
foreigners, amounted to 10,690 whites and 9050 slaves.

Strangers that arrive at Charleston, or at any town in
the United States, find no furnished hotels nor rooms to
let for their accommodation, no coffee-houses where they
can regale themselves. The whole of this is replaced by
boarding-houses, where every thing necessary [9] is
provided.''^ In Carolina you pay, at these receptacles,
from twelve to twenty piastres per week. This enormous
sum is by no means proportionate to the price of provis-
ions. For example, beef very seldom exceeds sixpence a
pound. Vegetables are dearer there than meat. Inde-
pendent of the articles of consumption that the country
supplies, the port of Charleston is generally full of small
vessels from Boston, Newport, New York, and Phila-
delphia, and from all the little intermediate ports, which
are loaded with flour, salt provisions, potatoes, onions,
carrots, beet-roots, apples, oats, Indian corn, and hay.
Planks and building materials comprize another considera-
ble article of importation; and although these different
kinds of produce are brought from three to four hundred
leagues, they are not so dear and of a better quality than
those of their own growth.

In winter the markets of Charleston are well stocked
with live sea-fish, which are brought from the northern
part of the United States in vessels so constructed as to



i8o2] F. A, Michaux^ s Travels 123

keep them in a continual supply of water. The ships
engaged in this kind of traffic load, in return, with rice
and cottons, the greater part of which is re-exported into
Europe, the freight [10] being always higher in the north-
em than in the southern states. The cotton wool that
they keep in the north for their own consumption is more
than sufficient to supply the manufacturies, being but
very few: the overplus is disposed of in the country places,
where the women fabricate coarse cottons for the use of
their families.

Wood is extravagantly dear at Charleston ; it costs from
forty to fifty shillings^ a cord^ notwithstanding forests,
which are almost boundless in extent, begin at six miles,
and even at a less distance from the town, and the con-
veyance of it is facilitated by the two rivers at the con-
flux of which it is situated ; on which account a great num-
ber of the inhabitants burn coals that are brought from
England.

As soon as I'recovered from my illness I left Charleston,
and went to reside in a small plantation about ten miles
from the town, where my father had formed a botanic
garden. It was there he collected and cultivated, with
the greatest care, the plants that he found in the long and
painful travels that his ardent love for science had urged
him to make, almost every year, in the different quarters
of America. Ever animated with a desire of serving the
country he was in, he conceived that the climate of South
Carolina [11] must be favourable to the culture of several
useful vegetables of the old continent, and made a memo-
rial of them, which he read to the Agricultural Society

' The piastre was the Spanish dollar, then the common circulating coin in
the United States, and the one whose value was adopted in our dollar. A
South CaroUna shilling was worth y\ of a dollar. — Ed.



I 24 Early Western Travels [Vol. 3

at Charleston. A few happy essays confirmed him in
his opinion, but his return to Europe did not permit
him to continue his former attempts. On my arrival at
Carolina I found in this garden a superb collection of
trees and plants that had survived almost a total neglect
for nearly the space of four years. I likev^ise found there
a great number of trees belonging to the old continent,
that my father had planted, some of which were in the
most flourishing state. I principally remarked two
ginkgo bilobas, that had not been planted above seven
years, and which were then upward of thirty feet in
height; several sterculia platani folia, which had yielded
seed upward of six years; in short, more than a hundred
and fifty mimosa illibrissin, the first plant of which came
from Europe about ten inches in diameter. I set several
before my return to France, this tree being at that time
very much esteemed for its magnificent flowers. The
Agricultural Society at Carolina are now in possession of
this garden : they intend keeping it in order, and cultivating
the useful vegetables belonging to the old continent,
which, [12] from the analogy of the climate, promise every
success.^ I employed the remainder of the autumn in
making collections of seed, which I sent to Europe; and
the winter, in visiting the different parts of Low Carolina,
and in reconnoitring the places where, the year follow-
ing, I might make more abundant harvests, and procure
the various sorts that I had not been able to collect during
the autumn.

On this account I must observe, that in North America,
and perhaps more so than in Europe, there are plants



^ The services of the elder Michaux in introducing European plants into
America, were considerable. He is said also to have been the first to teach the
frontier settlers the value of ginseng. — Ed.



i8o2] F. A. Michaux' s Travels i 25

that only inhabit certain places; whence it happens that a
botanist, in despite of all his zeal and activity, does not
meet with them for years; whilst another, led by a happy
chance, finds them in his first excursion. I shall add, in
favour of those who wish to travel over the southern part
of the United States for botanical researches, that the
epoch of the flower season begins in the early part of
February; the time for gathering the seeds of herbaceous
plants in the month of August; and on the ist of October
for that of forest trees.

[13] CHAP. II
Departure from Charleston for New York. — A short
description of the town. — Botanic excursions in New
Jersey. — Remark upon the Quercus tinctoria or Black
Oak, and the nut trees of that country. — Departure from
New York for Philadelphia. — Abode.
In the spring of the year 1802 I left Charleston to go to
New York, where I arrived after a passage of ten days.
Trade is so brisk between the northern and southern
states, that there is generally an opportunity at Charles-
ton to get into any of the ports of the northern states you
wish. Several vessels have rooms, tastefully arranged
and commodiously fitted up, for the reception of passen-
gers, who every year go in crowds to reside in the northern


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