Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Dr. Thomas Walker's Journal, 1750

23rd. We kept down the Holston River about four miles and Camped; and then Mr. Powell and I went to look for Samuel Stalnaker (13) who I had been inform'd was just moved out to settle. We found his camp, and returned to our own in the evening.

24th. We went to Stalnaker's, helped him to raise his house and camped about a quarter of a mile below him. In April, 1748, I met the above mentioned Stalnaker between Reedy Creek Settlement and Holstons River, on his way to the Cherokee Indians and expected him to pilate me as far as he knew but his affairs would not permit him to go with me. (14)

March 25th. The Sabbath. Grass is plenty in the low grounds.

26th. We left the Inhabitans (15), and kept nigh West to a large Spring on a Branch of the North Fork of the Holston. Thunder, Ligtning, and Rain before Day.

27th. It began to snow in the morning and continued till Noon. The Land is very Hilly from West to North. Some snow lies on the tops of the mountains N.W. from us.

28th. We travelled to the lower end of Giant's Ditch on Reedy Creek. (16)

29th. Our Dogs were very uneasie most of this night.

30th. We kept down Reedy Creek and discover'd the tracks of about 20 Indians, that had gone up the Creek between the time we camped last night, and set off this morning. We suppose they made our Dogs so restless last night. We camped on Reedy Creek. (17)

March 30th. We caught two young Buffaloes one of which we killed, and having cut and marked the other we turn'd him out.

31st. We kept down Reedy Creek to Holston where we measured an Elm 25 ft. round 3 ft. from the ground. we saw young Sheldrakes we went down the River to the north Fork and up the north fork about a quarter of a mile to a Ford, and then crossed it. In the Fork between the Holstons and the North River, are five Indian Houses built with loggs and covered with bark, and there were abundance of Bones, some whole Pots and pans some broken. and many pieces of mats and Cloth. On the west side of the North River, is four Indian Houses such as before mentioned. we went four miles below the North River and camped on the Bank of the Holstons, opposite to a large Indian Fort. (18)

April ye 1st. The Sabbath. we saw Perch, Mullets, and Carp in plenty, and caught one of the large Sort of Cat Fish. I marked my name, the day of the Month, and date of the year on Several Beech Trees.

2nd. we left Holston and travelled through Small Hills till about Noon, when one of our horses being choaked by eating Reeds too gredily, we stopped having traveled 7 miles. (19)

3rd. Our hourse being recover'd, we travelled to the Rocky Ridge. I went up to the top, to look for a pass but found it so rocky that I concluded not to attempt it there. This ridge may be known by Sight, at a distance. To the Eastward are many small mountains, and a Buffaloe Road between them & the Ridge. The growth is Pine on the top and the rocks look white at a distance. we went Seven miles this day. (20)

4th. We kept under the Rocky Ridge crossing several small Branches to the head of Holly Creek. we saw many small licks and plenty of Deer. (21)

5th. we went down Holly Creek. There is much Holly in the Low Grounds and some Laurel and Ivy. About three in the afternoon, the Ridge appeared less stony and we passed it, (22) and camped on a small Branch about a mile from the top. my riding Horse choaked himself this evening and I drenched him with water to wash down the Reeds, and it answered the End.

6th. It proving wet we did not move.

7th. We rode 8 miles over Broken ground. It snowed most of the day. In the evening our dogs caught a large He Bear, which before we could come up to shoot him had wounded a dog of mine, so that he could not travel, and we carried him on Horseback till he recovered.

8th. The Sabbath. Still Snow.

Doctor Thomas Walker's Journal (6 Mar 1749/50 - 13 Jul 1750)
A Record of His Travels in
Present-day Virginia, Tennessee and Kentucky


Murphyfish said...

An excellent insight Keith, thanks for sharing.

Le Loup said...

Thanks John, glad you liked it.

The Last Frontier said...

Hi Keith. I love your site. Now that we have the inverter, I can be online a little more. Thank you for commenting and visiting my blog. It's an honor to have you. I will certainly spend more time here. You have such interesting information! Thank you. I'm going to link to your site right now.
Jenny in Alaska

Le Loup said...

Hi Jenny, great to have you with us.
Regards, Keith.

Hutch said...

Very interesting. Short, and to the point. Keith, do you know how they judged mileage then? If on frontier, there couldn't have been many markers. Would ranger beads have been used, or something of the same? Or was it simply best estimation?

Le Loup said...

Hutch, I would imagine that for the average traveller distance would be measured in days & nights.
I am not familier with "ranger beads", can you enlighten me?

Hutch said...

So, they just kind of averaged a day out to ~8 miles? I ask because that seems excessively low on horseback. Where I used to ride was 5 miles from my house, and I didn't bother loadin' the horse up in the trailer because it took just a couple minutes to get there.

Ranger beads are used to judge distance if you don't have a map. Essentially, it's a small section of rope with 9 beads on it attached to your wrist. For every 10 paces you walk, you slide a bead down; when you have reached 100 paces, you slide all 9 beads back up to the knot at the top. I know it's used by the army, and I assume other military branches as well. If you pre-measure the distance of your personal pace, it's pretty darn accurate.

Le Loup said...

Hutch, thanks for the info & feedback. As it seems they were exploring, perhaps they had the means of triangulating and thus were able to better calculate the distance they travelled. In part two they mention miles a lot.