. Saponitown - Lawson Part 5
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Lawson, Part Five

This Indian is a great Conjurer, as appears by the Sequel. The Seretee or Santee Indians were gone to War against the Hooks and Backhooks Nations, living near the Mouth of Winyan-River. Those that were left at Home, (which are commonly old People and Children) had heard no News a long Time of their Men at Arms. This Man, at the Entreaty of these People, (being held to be a great Sorcerer amongst 'em) went to know what Posture their fighting Men were in. His Exorcism was carry'd on thus: He dress'd himself in a clean white dress'd Deer-Skin; a great Fire being made in the Middle of the Plantation, the Indians sitting all round it, the Conjurer was blind-folded, then he surrounded the Fire several Times, I think thrice; leaving the Company, he went into the Woods, where he stay'd about half an Hour, returning to them, surrounded the Fire as before; leaving them, went the second Time into the Woods; at which Time there came a huge Swarm of Flies, very large, they flying about the Fire several Times, at last fell all into it, and were visibly consum'd. Immediately after the Indian-Conjurer made a huge Lilleloo, and howling very frightfully, presently an Indian went and caught hold of him, leading him to the Fire. The old Wizard was so feeble and weak, being not able to stand alone, and all over in a Sweat, and as wet as if he had fallen into the River. After some Time he recover'd his Strength, assuring them, that their Men were near a River, and could not pass over it 'till so many Days, but would, in such a Time, return all in Safety, to their Nation. All which prov'd true at the Indians Return, which was not long after. This Story the English-man, his Son-in-Law, affirm'd to me.

The old Man stay'd with us about two Hours, and told us we were welcome to stay there all Night, and take what his Cabin afforded; then leaving us, went into the Woods, to some Hunting-Quarter not far off.

{Friday.} The next Morning early we pursu'd our Voyage, finding the Land to improve it self in Pleasantness and Richness of Soil. When we had gone about ten Miles, one of our Company tir'd, being not able to travel any farther; so we went forward, leaving the poor dejected Traveller with Tears in his Eyes, to return to Charles-Town, and travel back again over so much bad Way, we having pass'd thro' the worst of our Journey, the Land here being high and dry, very few Swamps, and those dry, and a little Way through. We travell'd about twenty Miles, lying near a Savanna that was over-flown with Water; where we were very short of Victuals, but finding the Woods newly burnt, and on fire in many Places, which gave us great Hopes that Indians were not far of.

{Saturday 20 Miles.} Next Morning very early, we waded thro' the Savanna, the Path lying there; and about ten a Clock came to a hunting Quarter, of a great many Santees; they made us all welcome; shewing a great deal of Joy at our coming, giving us barbacu'd Turkeys, Bear's Oil, and Venison.

Here we hir'd Santee Jack (a good Hunter, and a well-humour'd Fellow) to be our Pilot to the Congeree Indians; we gave him a Stroud-water-Blew, to make his Wife an Indian Petticoat, who went with her Husband. After two Hours Refreshment, we went on, and got that Day about twenty Miles; we lay by a small swift Run of Water, which was pav'd at the Bottom with a Sort of Stone much like to Tripoli, and so light, that I fancy'd it would precipitate in no Stream, but where it naturally grew. The Weather was very cold, the Winds holding Northerly. We made our selves as merry as we could, having a good Supper with the Scraps of the Venison we had given us by the Indians, having kill'd 3 Teal and a Possum; which Medly all together made a curious Ragoo.

{Sunday 15 Miles.} This Day all of us had a Mind to have rested, but the Indian was much against it, alledging, That the Place we lay at, was not good to hunt in; telling us, if we would go on, by Noon, he would bring us to a more convenient Place; so we mov'd forwards, and about twelve a Clock came to the most amazing Prospect I had seen since I had been in Carolina; we travell'd by a Swamp-side, which Swamp I believe to be no less than twenty Miles over, the other Side being as far as I could well discern, there appearing great Ridges of Mountains, bearing from us W.N.W. One Alp with a Top like a Sugar-loaf, advanc'd its Head above all the rest very considerably; the Day was very serene, which gave us the Advantage of seeing a long Way; these Mountains were cloth'd all over with Trees, which seem'd to us to be very large Timbers.

At the Sight of this fair Prospect, we stay'd all Night; our Indian going about half an Hour before us, had provided three fat Turkeys e'er we got up to him.

The Swamp I now spoke of, is not a miry Bog, as others generally are, but you go down to it thro' a steep Bank, at the Foot of which, begins this Valley, where you may go dry for perhaps 200 Yards, then you meet with a small Brook or Run of Water, about 2 or 3 Foot deep, then dry Land for such another Space, so another Brook, thus continuing. The Land in this Percoarson, or Valley, being extraordinary rich, and the Runs of Water well stor'd with Fowl. It is the Head of one of the Branches of Santee-River; but a farther Discovery Time would not permit; only one Thing is very remarkable, there growing all over this Swamp, a tall, lofty Bay-tree, but is not the same as in England, these being in their Verdure all the Winter long; which appears here, when you stand on the Ridge, (where our Path lay) as if it were one pleasant, green Field, and as even as a Bowling-green to the Eye of the Beholder; being hemm'd in on one Side with these Ledges of vast high Mountains.

Viewing the Land here, we found an extraordinary rich, black Mould, and some of a Copper-colour, both Sorts very good; the Land in some Places is much burthen'd with Iron, Stone, here being great Store of it, seemingly very good: The eviling Springs, which are many in these Parts, issuing out of the Rocks, which Water we drank of, it colouring the Excrements of Travellers (by its chalybid Quality) as black as a Coal. When we were all asleep, in the Beginning of the Night, we were awaken'd with the dismall'st and most hideous Noise that ever pierc'd my Ears: This sudden Surprizal incapacitated us of guessing what this threatning Noise might proceed from; but our Indian Pilot (who knew these Parts very well) acquainted us, that it was customary to hear such Musick along that Swamp-side, there being endless Numbers of Panthers, Tygers, Wolves, and other Beasts of Prey, which take this Swamp for their Abode in the Day, coming in whole Droves to hunt the Deer in the Night, making this frightful Ditty 'till Day appears, then all is still as in other Places.

{Monday.} The next Day it prov'd a small drisly Rain, which is rare, there happening not the tenth Part of Foggy-falling Weather towards these Mountains, as visits those Parts. Near the Sea-board, the Indian kill'd 15 Turkeys this Day; there coming out of the Swamp, (about Sun-rising) Flocks of these Fowl, containing several hundreds in a Gang, who feed upon the Acrons, it being most Oak that grow in these Woods. There are but very few Pines in those Quarters.

Early the next Morning, we set forward for the Congeree-Indians, parting with that delicious Prospect. By the Way, our Guide kill'd more Turkeys, and two Polcats, which he eat, esteeming them before fat Turkeys. Some of the Turkeys which we eat, whilst we stay'd there, I believe, weigh'd no less than 40 Pounds.

The Land we pass'd over this Day, was most of it good, and the worst passable. At Night we kill'd a Possum, being cloy'd with Turkeys, made a Dish of that, which tasted much between young Pork and Veal; their Fat being as white as any I ever saw.

Our Indian having this Day kill'd good Store of Provision with his Gun, he always shot with a single Ball, missing but two Shoots in above forty; they being curious Artists in managing a Gun, to make it carry either Ball, or Shot, true. When they have bought a Piece, and find it to shoot any Ways crooked, they take the Barrel out of the Stock, cutting a Notch in a Tree, wherein they set it streight, sometimes shooting away above 100 Loads of Ammunition, before they bring the Gun to shoot according to their Mind. We took up our Quarters by a Fish-pond-side; the Pits in the Woods that stand full of Water, naturally breed Fish in them, in great Quantities. We cook'd our Supper, but having neither Bread, or Salt, our fat Turkeys began to be loathsome to us, altho' we were never wanting of a good Appetite, yet a Continuance of one Diet, made us weary.

{Wednesday.} The next Morning, Santee Jack told us, we should reach the Indian Settlement betimes that Day; about Noon, we pass'd by several fair Savanna's, very rich and dry; seeing great Copses of many Acres that bore nothing but Bushes, about the Bigness of Box-trees; which (in the Season) afford great Quantities of small Black-berries, very pleasant Fruit, and much like to our Blues, or Huckle-berries, that grow on Heaths in England. Hard by the Savanna's we found the Town, where we halted; there was not above one Man left with the Women, the rest being gone a Hunting for a Feast. The Women were very busily engag'd in Gaming: The Name or Grounds of it, I could not learn, tho' I look'd on above two Hours. Their Arithmetick was kept with a Heap of Indian Grain. When their Play was ended, the King, or Cassetta's Wife, invited us into her Cabin. The Indian Kings always entertaining Travellers, either English, or Indian; taking it as a great Affront, if they pass by their Cabins, and take up their Quarters at any other Indian's House. The Queen set Victuals before us, which good Compliment they use generally as soon as you come under their Roof.


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