Thomas A. (Thomas Asbury) Morris.

Miscellany: consisting of essays, biographical sketches and notes of travel online

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emigration, have no chapel here of their own. This sheet
is well-nigh full, and lest I weary you and our readers,
will desist for the present.

Yours, truly, T. A. Morris.

Missouri, October 22, 1841.

Brother Elliott, — It will be recollected that in my
first communication the narrative of our journey was
broken off at Farmington. From thence we proceeded,


on Friday, 22d of October, to Fredericktown, Madison
county, distant eighteen miles, where a two-days' meeting
had been appointed in view of our visit. On Saturday
morning and night the congregations were quite small,
owing, it was said, to the circuit court then in session,
which did not adjourn till late that evening; but on Sab-
bath day our little chapel was well filled with attentive
hearers, yet nothing of special interest occurred. During
the meeting, we were comfortably provided for among our
Christian friends. My lodging was at brother Tongue's,
a short distance out of town. Among the new acquaint-
ances we made there, were the Hon. Judge Cook, presiding
judge of the district, and Mr. Davis, a respectable member
of the bar, both citizens of Cape Girardeau county, and
members of our Church, whose character and example,
as we were informed by others, exert a beautiful moral
and religious influence in the country, and afford addi-
tional evidence that gentlemen of the green-bag profession
may be experimental and practical Christians. While
other persons, who attended court, left on Sabbath morn-
ing, these two brethren remained and worshiped with us
all day like Christians who know their duty and appreciate
their privileges. Fredericktown is a clever inland village,
surrounded by the second body of good land we have seen
in south Missouri, and is only a few miles from the smelt-
ing furnaces of the lead and copper mines, which we
passed on our way thither. From this place to St. Louis
is about ninety miles.

Monday, 25th, we lunched at Twelve Mile creek, and
lodged with Mr. Short, a clever Baptist, on reasonable
terms, having traveled twenty miles. Here we got sum-
mer grapes of a good quality, which grow abundantly in
the woods around the farm and along the creek. Excel-
lent springs of water appear in this neighborhood; the
land is of medium quality, and mostly vacant, only a few


quarter sections being entered and sealed ; and deer and
small game are plenty. Still they have a school in oper-
ation on the road-side, near Mr. Short's, and Baptist
preaching in his house once a month.

Tuesday, 26th, we reached Greenville, the county seat
of Wayne, a small village on St. Francis river, having
traveled about twenty miles, and called on Mr. Smith, a
native of New York, I believe, who received us with every
expression of welcome, and entertained us in the best style
gratuitously, recruited our little store of provision, and let
us depart in peace next morning. Mr. Smith owns a large
tract of river land well improved ; and though not a pro-
fessor of relio-ion, has one of the best regulated and most
interesting families we have met with in all our travels,
evincing that true politeness and sterling moral worth
may be cultivated in new as well as old countries. His
house is one of the traveling preachers' best homes in this

Wednesday, 27th, we took our dinner on the south bank
of Black river, perhaps fourteen miles from Greenville,
out of our own provision basket — rested under the trees,
and drank from the pure stream gliding down the vale
between the hills, and had some conversation with a plain-
looking man, who said he was one of a large company
preparing to remove from the south-east part of Missouri
to the north-east part of Texas. He was not a professor
of religion, but said several of the company were Meth-
odists, and brother Clark sent word to them, by him, to
be sure to take certificates of their membership, and not
to backslide on the way, but join the Church immedi-
ately on their arrival in the republic. Eight miles more
brought us to sister Scott's, a widow lady, who was from
home, but her sons and daughters received us very kindly.
They had retreated from their first location on a creek to
the high ground, to escape the ague, and lived in an


unfinished house, but made us as comfortable as was in
their power, and we felt satisfied and grateful.

No opportunity offered to try how well we could enter-
tain ourselves all night till Thursday, 28th, when, foresee-
ing we should reach no suitable house of entertainment, in
the evening we bought corn and fodder, and pushed on in
search of water. About dark we reached a beautiful
tributary stream of Black river, the name of which we
did not know, and pitched our tent under a large cypress-
tree growing immediately on its bank, the spreading boughs
whereof afforded us a partial shelter from light showers
of rain that fell while we were making preparation for the
night. After taking off the horses and securing them with
halters fastened to the trees, brother Clark plied his steel,
flint, and spunk, in raising a fire, while brother Whipple
cut tent-poles, and I gathered brush and drift-wood for
kindling. This done, we hung on the tea-kettle; and
while the others adjusted the tent, etc., sister Clark pre-
pared for us a good supper, served up in real camp style,
which we all enjoyed with more than common pleasure.
Several companies of travelers passed our camp after dark,
seeking their night's lodging. One of them was quite a
procession of pack-horse movers, bound for south Arkan-
sas, if they liked when they saw it ; otherwise for Texas.
There were several servants among them, and some ap-
pearance of style, from which we judged they were only
the advance guard going on to make preparation to receive
the wagons and families behind. We find the spirit of
emigration to Texas prevails in the south-west to a consid-
erable extent. Even in south Missouri, some of the peo-
ple speak of being crowded, and think of moving to where
they can have outlet. The ground was full damp for
comfortable lodging, in consequence of rain that day ; but
we spread down first some oil-cloths or pieces of painted
canvas, then our buffalo-skins and blankets, using our


carriage-cushions for pillows, and we slept in peace and
safety. Our tent is partitioned off into two apartments,
one of which affords ample room for brother Clark's
family, and the other for brother Whipple and myself.
It was here I began to realize that my buffalo robe and
Mackinaw blanket were among my best friends on this
journey. Before we left, curiosity led us to run a line
round the trunk of the stately tree under whose branches
we rested, and found its circumference to be twenty-four
feet, as accurately as we could measure without an exact
rule. This place we called Camp Cypress. At the hour
of offering up the evening and morning sacrifice, we had
family worship, and like Jacob, when he had a stone for
his pillow in the wilderness, felt that the Lord was in that

While here we saw, for the first time on this journey,
large flocks of paroquets passing over and occasionally
lighting on the trees around us. They are a small species
of parrot, something less than pigeons, with plumage
mostly green, but exhibiting all the colors of the rainbow ;
their greatest strength is in their yellow, hooked beak, with
which they can sever small branches of fruit trees ; they
live chiefly on small grain and burs, and sleep in hollow
trees, hanging by the point of the bill. Paroquets are
noisy birds, but their notes are not melodious; yet, on
account of their superior beauty, they are often domesti-
cated, which is very easily done. Two of these birds were
pets in my father's family on Kanawha river, nearly forty
years ago, and were useful in destroying the burs. After
ranging the fields and forest all day, they regularly re-
turned to their resting-place in the evening, which was the
6ide of a tall, cotton basket, where they slept, hanging by
the beak to one of the splits. You shall hear again from
Yours, respectfully, T. A. Morris.

Wayxe county, Missouri, October 28, 1841.


Brother Elliott, — As we are not land-jobbers, nor
going 1 on a tour of observation, it will not be expected of
me to say much of the country ; yet I would like to afl'ord
some information for the benefit of our missionaries who
may hereafter remove to Arkansas, or Texas, by this
route. And before I take leave of Missouri, I would just
say, our road from St. Louis to the southern boundary of
the state passes chiefly over sterile hills, some of which
are quite rocky, and the good land lies mostly on the
creeks and small rivers ; and on our route it is all a tim-
bered country. What I saw, in 1839, of the land north
of Missouri river, is generally preferable to what we have
seen south of it. The road is often narrow, sideling,
rocky, stumpy, and hilly, but free from swamp, and
therefore passable. On the morning of Friday, 29th,
about fifty miles from Greenville, we crossed the Mis-
souri line, entered the state of Arkansas, and immediately
after took the ferry-boat over Current river, at Dr. Pit-
man's, the place formerly known by the name of Hix's
ferry ; and in the evening camped some thirteen miles
beyond the river, a short distance from the road, back of a
field, on the bank of a large creek called Fourche de Mass —
pronounced Foosh de Maugh. Mr. Johnson, who occu-
pied the premises, not only gave us leave to camp and
gather sticks for our fire, but kindly went and aided us in
selecting a pleasant place on which to pitch our tent. We
chose rather a romantic site on the point of a sloping
ridge, just in the rear of projecting rocks, the strata of
which so receded one over another as to afford natural
steps to and from the water's edge. The evening was
mild and calm ; the full moon shone brightly, our log fire
looked cheerful, and all the company were in fine glee,
except brother Whipple, who was suffering under a severe


attack of sick headache, of which, however, he was
relieved by a comfortable night's sleep. It is true, our
wheat loaf was exhausted, and all efforts to obtain flour
had failed, but we had warm corn hoe-cake, fried ham,
butter, eggs, sweet potatos, coffee, and Boston crackers ;
and considered ourselves among the best livers in the
country. We did not, however, pretend to keep fashion-
able hours, and as soon as we could say prayers and make
ready, laid us down and rested to purpose.

Our design was to reach Jackson the next day, and
preach there on Sabbath ; but a wise Providence ordered
otherwise. About midnight the weather changed ; a gale
sprang up and brought clouds and rain, which pelted our
thin habitation the balance of the night, and nearly all
next day, so that w r e could scarcely leave our tent at
all without getting wet. Much relief was experienced
by putting up a Russia duck awning between the tent
and fire, that afforded a shelter under which to sit and
eat. Our chief difficulty was from smoke, which occa-
sionally drove in with such violence as to affect our eyes
severely, and sometimes force us out into the rain to get a
good breath. Here, and in this condition, we expected to
remain till Monday ; and in view T of that conclusion brother
Whipple rode some miles in the afternoon, without a sad-
dle, to ascertain whether we could obtain a congregation
any where in that region to hear us preach on Sabbath.
While he was gone, brother Clark chopped wood to avoid
the sin of gathering sticks on the Lord's day. About this
time, our camp was visited by a youth, nearly a man in
years and size, on the singular errand, as he said, of buy-
ing sugar. We did not keep the article on sale, and could
not accommodate him ; but soon found him better employ-
ment. Some of the logs chopped off were very heavy:
brother Clark placed a lever under the forepart, put the
sturdy youth at one end of the lever, and myself at the


other, and taking the tail-end of the log himself, we put
forth our strength, straightened, and marched into camp.
This operation was repeated till we had collected an ample
store of fuel for the Sabbath. This done, we commenced
shaving and other preparations for the day of rest, when
all our plans were suddenly thrown into confusion.
Brother Whipple returned, and brought with him old
brother Spikes, a native of North Carolina, and for some
ten years past a citizen of Arkansas, who insisted on our
decamping and going home with him so kindly and earn-
estly, we had to yield to his entreaty. It was after four
o'clock, P. M., when we changed our plan for the night:
all possible haste was made in packing up and striking
tent; the rain still coming down upon us with increased
force. About a quarter past five, we bowed out from
Camp Fourche de Mass, and reached our new quarters,
three miles off, with some difficulty, after dark. The
incessant showers of rain on the Sabbath rendered it
impracticable to collect any congregation. We sang and
prayed at the interment of a neighbor's child on brother
Spikes's premises, but had no preaching. Monday we
judged it prudent to lay by, in order to dry our tent, and
replenish our store of provisions. Brother Whipple went
to mill and bought flour, and while sister Clark kneaded
and baked, brother Clark made us a portable table out of
four new clapboards, shaved and jointed, which we carry
on the baggage-rack without any trouble ; the legs and
frame, consisting of four small forks and two poles laid
across, we can procure at any camping-place in five min-
utes, and the table is complete. As to the cloth, we need
none ; when the boards become greasy they are easily
washed. Brother Whipple's friends, before he left home,
presented him with a rifle and shot-gun, which he accepted
for the sake of the small game in this new country. He
is what the hunters call "a sure shot" with the rifle, and


among lianas a line lot of squirrels and a fat rabbit were
here added to our supplies. These, parboiled for the
convenience of carrying, made us line camp provisions.

Tuesday, November 2d, Ave crossed a small, rapid river,
called Eleven Pines, because that number of pine-trees
grow around the head spring of it, as we were informed.
In the afternoon, we passed through Jackson, a small
town, and formerly the seat of justice for Lawreuce
county, and, a mile and a half beyond, camped on the
north bank of Spring river. While brother Whipple went
with the buggy across the river in search of horse proven-
der, we raised a great brush-fire against the fallen trunk
of a large sycamore, and when rearing our tent before it

the owner of the land, Mr. S , rode by, called at the

camp, and remarked we had a fine fire. We asked if
he had any objection to its being on his land, or kindled
with his wood? He replied, "Not any;" and he would
be glad if all the timber on his bottom land was re-
moved ; as well he might, for it was heavy clearing.
On learning that we were preachers going to Texas, he
invited us to his house ; but not feeling inclined to repack
and turn back, we declined accepting the invitation. Here
we found our small fry, and other fresh provisions, excel-
lent fare, spent the night pleasantly, and called the place
Camp Sycamore.

Wednesday, 3d, having lost some time in the morning,
getting our horses shod, and some after we started, by
losing the tea-kettle and having to send back for it, we
only gained seventeen miles. In the afternoon we passed
through Smithville, the new county seat of Lawrence, and
in the evening camped on the south bank of Strawberry
creek. Here we improved our lodging by filling the tent
with dry leaves before we laid down our bedding. While
at Camp Strawberry, we killed young squirrels, which,
with some birds obtained on the way, made us an excel-


lent pot-pie; none of your fashionable articles, Doctor,
baked in plates, but a real family pot-pie, such as our
mothers made in days of yore, and good enough for
missionaries on their way to Texas.

Thursday, we agreed to take the upper, usually called
the new road ; drove on till one o'clock, and came to one
of the transparent streams of water which abound in this
country; and raising a fire, dined on a quail, a young
squirrel roasted, and the balance of the pot-pie. While
there, a boy came by who could not tell us what was the
name of the stream, or whether it had any, and we agreed
to call it Lunch creek. Soon after we left this place, we
ascended a dry ridge, at the summit of which we came
suddenly in view of one of the beauty spots of nature;
an assemblage of sand-rocks, resembling in form a group
of ancient pyramids: some of them were quite large.
The surface, except where it was covered with moss, was
exceeding white, and, shaded by a forest of thrifty oaks,
presented a commanding appearance. Some of them, by
the action of the rain, had natural steps, and, being
broader at the base than the summit, were easily ascended.
We stood on one of the largest, being, as Ave judged, some
sixteen feet high, and observed an excavation on the top,
which would probably contain a bushel of water : whether
it was formed by the operation of nature, or the hand of
savage man, could not be determined. From this position
we counted twenty of these singular formations of the
larger size, beside many smaller ones, in the space of
about one acre of ground. The site affords a command-
ing view overlooking a farm on the north-west. There
was not a cloud in the heavens, but a lively breeze,
rustling through the leaves and gently moving the unbro-
ken forest, added solemnity to the scene. It was enough
to inspire a poet. Fancy was called into requisition, and
we indulged in speculation on the suitableness of the site

N OTKS O F T K A V E L . 'J , J3

for a park, and the pleasure of .sitting on one of these mon-
uments to observe the movements and study the nature
of the deer and other animals. We know n<> name for the
place; but in view of those extraordinary monuments of
nature, I shall take the liberty to call it Monumental Hill.
For some distance onward, we saw r scattering specimens
of the same kind of formation. Our expectation was, to
stay that night with a brother Adams on our road, whose
house had been recommended to us as one of the best
places in the country for entertainment; but when we
arrived, his house was unroofed and his chamber wdthout
a floor, undergoing* repairs; and of course he could not
conveniently shelter us ; but the disappointment was not a
serious matter: he sold us corn, and fodder, and chickens,
and gave us sweet potatos for supper and breakfast. We
passed on a half of a mile to Cury's run, and entertained
ourselves in good style, on a quarter section of Govern-
ment land, and felt as independent as squatters with a pre-
emption right and peaceable possession. Brother Adams
came down to our camp next morning, and sold to brother
Whipple a handsome young horse for a circuit-nag in
Texas. The night we staid there w r as cold; ice was
formed in our water-bucket within a few r yards of the log
lire. However, with about twenty bushels of dry leaves,
our blankets, and great camp fire, we got through quite

Friday, 5th, we reached Bates ville, the seat of the
Arkansas conference, where we met a welcome reception,
and found excellent accommodation among our Christian
friends. I am quartered at Colonel Pelham's, one of the
oldest settlers of the place, Clerk of Independence county,
and a member of our Church, and has a pious, pleasant
family. Batesville is a considerable town for this new
country, and has improved greatly since I was here in
1836. It is situated on the north side of White river,


which is navigable for small steamboats a part of the year
to tills place.

AY hat we have seen of north Arkansas, on this tour, is
one of the best watered countries in the United States,
and has every appearance of being generally healthy.
The upland is mostly poor oak barrens, and the hills quite
stony; but the creek and river lands are rich, and covered
with lofty forest trees. The climate is mild, and very
pleasant. Batesville is situated between thirty-five and
thirty-six degrees of north latitude. As to the people,
they are quite as intelligent in Arkansas as in other new
countries, and generally as well disposed. That there are
some desperadoes in Arkansas, as there are in all the
states, whose fame has gone abroad, must be admitted;
but they are not true specimens of the general state of
society. Wherever I have been in this state — and I have
traveled through it considerably — the inhabitants have
uniformly treated me not only civilly, but kindly, and in
character as a Christian minister. And though a large
proportion of them are not professedly religious, many are
so professedly and in fact; and the others are generally
willing to hear the Gospel preached. Methodism is evi-
dently making some progress among them. Our society
have erected quite a handsome brick chapel in this place.
But of the general state of the work I may be able to
speak more definitely after I shall have heard, in confer-
ence, the reports from every part. So far we have had
much cause of gratitude on this journey. Providence has
favored us in reference to good weather generally. No
calamity has befallen us. The Lord has given us some
favor in the eyes of the people, and our health has been
wonderfully preserved. Sister Clark has been for many
years in delicate health; but, by riding moderately each
day in the carriage, and the morning and evening exercise
of tent -keeping, she is evidently gaining health and


strength. Brother Whipple, whose health was very poor
before he started, is mending rapidly. Little John, who
had long been subject to chills, is becoming strong and
hearty. Brother Clark is growing fleshy ; and as for
myself, though I have no occasion to be any fatter, am
nevertheless gaining.

This letter is already too long, yet I beg indulgence
till I make one small addition. In most of our older
conferences we have some good brethren in delicate
health, who seem to think themselves unable to endure
the toils and exposures of an itinerant life, and under the
influence of mistaken notions of self-preservation, incline
to linger about those places where roast beef, plum-pud-
ding, and preserves abound in the greatest luxuriance ; so
that it would not be marvelous if they were to decline
under the wasting influence of dyspepsy, hypochondria,
ind nervous debility. Now, for the benefit of all such
young preachers, though not a professor of the healing
art, I venture to make this prescription : Let them form
themselves into companies of two, three, or four, and vol-
unteer for the work in Arkansas or Texas conference, not
to float down the river pent in the cabin of a steamboat,
but to travel in light wagons, such as will carry them-
selves, tents, and baggage: let them camp out; kill, roast,
and eat wild meat; study their Bibles; pray; and sleep
with their feet to the fire. A few blankets are easily car-
ried; and as for feathers, every oak and elm produces
abundance of such as would be most healthy for them,
and which they can have for the trouble of gathering,
One such campaign, with the blessing of Providence,
would make them sound men, buoyant in spirit, and ready
for a frontier circuit, or mission, where they might have
the honor of preaching the Gospel to the poor, and of
aiding a noble band of brethren in their efforts to save
bouIs. Who will get ready and make the experiment next

296 M I S C K L L A N Y .

fall? Healthy brethren are not excluded from the prir

ileo-e of coming.

Yours, sincerely, T. A. Morris.

Batesville, Arkansas, Nov. 9, 1841.

Brother Elliott, — The Arkansas conference com-
menced its sixth session at Batesville, November 10th, in
the court-house, the same building in which it first organ-
ized, November, 1836. Very few of the original mem-
bers remain. In the short space of five years most of
them have disappeared from the list by deaths, locations,
division of conference, etc. ; but others have fallen into
the breaking ranks, and the conference has nearly doubled
its numbers, having now about forty-seven names on the
entire list, some thirty of them members, and the balance
probationers. Their geographical boundary is extensive,

Online LibraryThomas A. (Thomas Asbury) MorrisMiscellany: consisting of essays, biographical sketches and notes of travel → online text (page 22 of 30)