. Saponitown - Lawson Part 6
Saponitown Forum



Historical Articles



Back, Part Five ][ Part Seven, Lawson ]

Lawson, Part Six

The Town consists not of above a dozen Houses, they having other stragling Plantations up and down the Country, and are seated upon a small Branch of Santee-River. Their Place hath curious dry Marshes, and Savanna's adjoining to it, and would prove an exceeding thriving Range for Cattle, and Hogs, provided the English were seated thereon. Besides, the Land is good for Plantations.

These Indians are a small People, having lost much of their former Numbers, by intestine Broils; but most by the Small-pox, which hath often visited them, sweeping away whole Towns; occasion'd by the immoderate Government of themselves in their Sickness; as I have mention'd before, treating of the Sewees. Neither do I know any Savages that have traded with the English, but what have been great Losers by this Distemper.

We found here good Store of Chinkapin-Nuts, which they gather in Winter great Quantities of, drying them; so keep these Nuts in great Baskets for their Use; likewise Hickerie-Nuts, which they beat betwixt two great Stones, then sift them, so thicken their Venison-Broath therewith; the small Shells precipitating to the Bottom of the Pot, whilst the Kernel in Form of Flower, mixes it with the Liquor. Both these Nuts made into Meal, makes a curious Soop, either with clear Water, or in any Meat-Broth.

From the Nation of Indians, until such Time as you come to the Turkeiruros in North Carolina, you will see no long Moss upon the Trees; which Space of Ground contains above five hundred Miles. This seeming Miracle in Nature, is occasion'd by the Highness of the Land, it being dry and healthful; for tho' this Moss bears a Seed in a Sort of a small Cod, yet it is generated in or near low swampy Grounds.

The Congerees are kind and affable to the English, the Queen being very kind, giving us what Rarities her Cabin afforded, as Loblolly made with Indian Corn, and dry'd Peaches. These Congerees have abundance of Storks and Cranes in their Savannas. They take them before they can fly, and breed 'em as tame and familiar as a Dung-hill Fowl. They had a tame Crane at one of these Cabins, that was scarce less than six Foot in Height, his Head being round, with a shining natural Crimson Hue, which they all have. These are a very comely Sort of Indians, there being a strange Difference in the Proportion and Beauty of these Heathens. Altho' their Tribes or Nations border one upon another, yet you may discern as great an Alteration in their Features and Dispositions, as you can in their Speech, which generally proves quite different from each other, though their Nations be not above 10 or 20 Miles in Distance. The Women here being as handsome as most I have met withal, being several fine-finger'd Brounetto's amongst them. These Lasses stick not upon Hand long, for they marry when very young, as at 12 or 14 Years of Age. The English Traders are seldom without an Indian Female for his Bed-fellow, alledging these Reasons as sufficient to allow of such a Familiarity. First, They being remote from any white People, that it preserves their Friendship with the Heathens, they esteeming a white Man's Child much above one of their getting, the Indian Mistress ever securing her white Friend Provisions whilst he stays amongst them. And lastly, This Correspondence makes them learn the Indian Tongue much the sooner, they being of the French-man's Opinion, how that an English Wife teaches her Husband more English in one Night, than a School-master can in a Week.

We saw at the Cassetta's Cabin the strangest Spectacle of Antiquity I ever knew, it being an old Indian Squah, that, had I been to have guess'd at her Age by her Aspect, old Parr's Head (the Welch Methusalem) was a Face in Swadling-Clouts to hers. Her Skin hung in Reaves like a Bag of Tripe. By a fair Computation, one might have justly thought it would have contain'd three such Carcasses as hers then was. She had one of her Hands contracted by some Accident in the Fire, they sleeping always by it, and often fall into sad Disasters, especially in their drunken Moods. I made the strictest Enquiry that was possible, and by what I could gather, she was considerably above 100 Years old, notwithstanding she smoak'd Tobacco, and eat her Victuals, to all Appearance, as heartily as one of 18. One of our Company spoke some of their Language, and having not quite forgotten his former Intrigues with the Indian Lasses, would fain have been dealing with some of the young Female Fry; but they refus'd him, he having nothing that these Girls esteem'd. At Night we were laid in the King's Cabin, where the Queen and the old Squah pig'd in with us: The former was very much disfigur'd with Tettars, and very reserv'd, which disappointed our fellow Traveller in his Intrigues.

The Women smoak much Tobacco, (as most Indians do.) They have Pipes, whose Heads are cut out of Stone, and will hold an Ounce of Tobacco, and some much less. They have large wooden Spoons, as big as small Ladles, which they make little Use of, lading the Meat out of the Bowls with their Fingers.

{Thursday.} In the Morning we rose before Day, having hir'd a Guide over Night to conduct us on our Way; but it was too soon for him to stir out, the Indians never setting forward 'till the Sun is an Hour or two high, and hath exhall'd the Dew from the Earth. The Queen got us a good Breakfast before we left her; she had a young Child, which was much afflicted with the Cholick; for which Distemper she infus'd a Root in Water, which was held in a Goard; this she took into her Mouth, and spurted it into the Infant's, which gave it ease. After we had eaten, we set out (with our new Guide) for the Wateree Indians. We went over a great deal of indifferent Land this Day. Here begins to appear very good Marble, which continues more and less for the Space of 500 Miles. We lay all Night by a Run of Water, as we always do, (if possible) for the Convenience of it. The Weather was very cold. We went this Day about 30 Miles from the Congerees.

{Friday.} In the Morning we made no Stay to get our Breakfast, but hasted on our Voyage, the Land increasing in Marble and Richness of Soil. At Noon we halted, getting our Dinner upon a Marble-Stone, that rose it self half a Foot above the Surface of the Earth, and might contain the Compass of a Quarter of an Acre of Land, being very even, there growing upon it in some Places a small red Berry, like a Salmon-Spawn, there boiling out of the main Rock curious Springs of as delicious Water, as ever I drank in any Parts I ever travell'd in.

These Parts likewise affords good free Stone, fit for Building, and of several Sorts. The Land here is pleasantly seated, with pretty little Hills and Valleys, the rising Sun at once shewing his glorious reflecting Rays on a great many of these little Mountains. We went this Day about 20 Miles, our Guide walking like a Horse, 'till we had sadl'd him with a good heavy Pack of some Part of our Cloaths and Bedding, by which Means we kept Pace with him.

This Night we lay by a Run-side, where I found a fine yellow Earth, the same with Bruxels-Sand, which Goldsmiths use to cast withal, giving a good Price in England, and other Parts. Here is likewise the true Blood-Stone, and considerable Quantities of Fullers-Earth, which I took a Proof of, by scouring great Spots out of Woollen, and it prov'd very good.

{Saturday.} As we were on our Road this Morning, our Indian shot at a Tyger, that cross'd the Way, he being a great Distance from us. I believe he did him no Harm, because he sat on his Breech afterwards, and look'd upon us. I suppose he expected to have had a Spaniel Bitch, that I had with me, for his Breakfast, who run towards him, but in the Midway stopt her Career, and came sneaking back to us with her Tail betwixt her Legs.

We saw in the Path a great many Trees blown up by the Roots, at the Bottom whereof stuck great Quantities of fine red Bole; I believe nothing inferior to that of Venice or Lemma. We found some Holes in the Earth, which were full of a Water as black as Ink. I thought that Tincture might proceed from some Mineral, but had not Time to make a farther Discovery. About Noon we pass'd over a pleasant stony Brook, whose Water was of a bluish Cast, as it is for several hundreds of Miles towards the Heads of the Rivers, I suppose occasion'd by the vast Quantities of Marble lying in the Bowels of the Earth. The Springs that feed these Rivulets, lick up some Potions of the Stones in the Brooks; which Dissolution gives this Tincture, as appears in all, or most of the Rivers and Brooks of this Country, whose rapid Streams are like those in Yorkshire, and other Northern Counties of England. The Indians talk of many Sorts of Fish which they afford, but we had not Time to discover their Species.

I saw here had been some Indian Plantations formerly, there being several pleasant Fields of clear'd Ground, and excellent Soil, now well spread with fine bladed Grass, and Strawberry-Vines.

The Mould here is excessive rich, and a Country very pleasing to the Eye, had it the Convenience of a navigable River, as all new Colonies (of Necessity) require. It would make a delightful Settlement.

We went eight Miles farther, and came to the Wateree Chickanee Indians. The Land holds good, there being not a Spot of bad Land to be seen in several Days going.

The People of this Nation are likely tall Persons, and great Pilferers, stealing from us any Thing they could lay their Hands on, though very respectful in giving us what Victuals we wanted. We lay in their Cabins all Night, being dark smoaky Holes, as ever I saw any Indians dwell in. This Nation is much more populous than the Congerees, and their Neighbours, yet understand not one anothers Speech. They are very poor in English Effects, several of them having no Guns, making Use of Bows and Arrows, being a lazy idle People, a Quality incident to most Indians, but none to that Degree as these, as I ever met withal.

Their Country is wholly free from Swamps and Quagmires, being high dry Land, and consequently healthful, producing large Corn-Stalks, and fair Grain.

{Sunday.} Next Morning, we took off our Beards with a Razor, the Indians looking on with a great deal of Admiration. They told us, they had never seen the like before, and that our Knives cut far better than those that came amongst the Indians. They would fain have borrow'd our Razors, as they had our Knives, Scissors, and Tobacco-Tongs, the day before, being as ingenious at picking of Pockets, as any, I believe, the World affords; for they will steal with their Feet. Yesterday, one of our Company, not walking so fast as the rest, was left behind. He being out of Sight before we miss'd him, and not coming up to us, tho' we staid a considerable time on the Road for him, we stuck up Sticks in the Ground, and left other Tokens to direct him which way we were gone: But he came not to us that Night, which gave us Occasion to fear some of the Heathens had kill'd him, for his Cloaths, or the savage Beasts had devour'd him in the Wilderness, he having nothing about him to strike Fire withal. As we were debating which way we should send to know what was become of him, he overtook us, having a Waxsaw Indian for his Guide. He told us, he had miss'd the Path, and got to another Nation of Indians, but 3 Miles off, who at that time held great Feasting. They had entertain'd him very respectfully, and sent that Indian to invite us amongst them, wondring that we would not take up our Quarters with them, but make our Abode with such a poor Sort of Indians, that were not capable of entertaining us according to our Deserts: We receiv'd the Messenger with a great many Ceremonies, acceptable to those sort of Creatures. Bidding our Waterree King adieu, we set forth towards the Waxsaws, going along clear'd Ground all the Way. Upon our Arrival, we were led into a very large and lightsome Cabin, the like I have not met withal. They laid Furs and Deer-Skins upon Cane Benches for us to sit or lie upon, bringing (immediately) stewed Peaches and green Corn, that is preserv'd in their Cabins before it is ripe, and sodden and boil'd when they use it, which is a pretty sort of Food, and a great Increaser of the Blood.


Back, Part Five ][ Part Seven, Lawson ]