. Lawson Part Two
Saponitown Forum

Home

Forum

Historical Articles

Links

[ HOME ]

  [ Back, Part One ]  [ Next, Part Three ]

Lawson Account, Part Two

{Saturday.} As we row'd up the River, we found the Land towards the Mouth, and for about sixteen Miles up it, scarce any Thing but Swamp and Percoarson, {Percoarson, a Sort of low Land.} affording vast Ciprus-Trees, of which the French make Canoes, that will carry fifty or sixty Barrels. After the Tree is moulded and dug, they saw them in two Pieces, and so put a Plank between, and a small Keel, to preserve them from the Oyster-Banks, which are innumerable in the Creeks and Bays betwixt the French Settlement and Charles-Town. They carry two Masts, and Bermudas Sails, which makes them very handy and fit for their Purpose; for although their River fetches its first Rise from the Mountains, and continues a Current some hundreds of Miles ere it disgorges it self, having no sound Bay or Sand-Banks betwixt the Mouth thereof, and the Ocean. Notwithstanding all this, with the vast Stream it affords at all Seasons, and the repeated Freshes it so often allarms the Inhabitants with, by laying under Water great Part of their Country, yet the Mouth is barr'd, affording not above four or five Foot Water at the Entrance. As we went up the River, we heard a great Noise, as if two Parties were engag'd against each other, seeming exactly like small Shot. {Sewee Indians.} When we approach'd nearer the Place, we found it to be some Sewee Indians firing the Canes Swamps, which drives out the Game, then taking their particular Stands, kill great Quantities of both Bear, Deer, Turkies, and what wild Creatures the Parts afford.

These Sewees have been formerly a large Nation, though now very much decreas'd, since the English hath seated their Land, and all other Nations of Indians are observ'd to partake of the same Fate, where the Europeans come, the Indians being a People very apt to catch any Distemper they are afflicted withal; the Small-Pox has destroy'd many thousands of these Natives, who no sooner than they are attack'd with the violent Fevers, and the Burning which attends that Distemper, fling themselves over Head in the Water, in the very Extremity of the Disease; which shutting up the Pores, hinders a kindly Evacuation of the pestilential Matter, and drives it back; by which Means Death most commonly ensues; not but in other Distempers which are epidemical, you may find among 'em Practitioners that have extraordinary Skill and Success in removing those morbifick Qualities which afflict 'em, not often going above 100 Yards from their Abode for their Remedies, some of their chiefest Physicians commonly carrying their Compliment of Drugs continually about them, which are Roots, Barks, Berries, Nuts, &c. that are strung upon a Thread. So like a Pomander, the Physician wears them about his Neck. An Indian hath been often found to heal an English-man of a Malady, for the Value of a Match-Coat; which the ablest of our English Pretenders in America, after repeated Applications, have deserted the Patient as incurable; God having furnish'd every Country with specifick Remedies for their peculiar Diseases.

{Rum.} Rum, a Liquor now so much in Use with them, that they will part with the dearest Thing they have, to purchase it; and when they have got a little in their Heads, are the impatients Creatures living, 'till they have enough to make 'em quite drunk; and the most miserable Spectacles when they are so, some falling into the Fires, burn their Legs or Arms, contracting the Sinews, and become Cripples all their Life-time; others from Precipices break their Bones and Joints, with abundance of Instances, yet none are so great to deter them from that accurs'd Practice of Drunkenness, though sensible how many of them (are by it) hurry'd into the other World before their Time, as themselves oftentimes will confess. The Indians, I was now speaking of, were not content with the common Enemies that lessen and destroy their Country-men, but invented an infallible Stratagem to purge their Tribe, and reduce their Multitude into far less Numbers. Their Contrivance was thus, as a Trader amongst them inform'd me.

They seeing several Ships coming in, to bring the English Supplies from Old England, one chief Part of their Cargo being for a Trade with the Indians, some of the craftiest of them had observ'd, that the Ships came always in at one Place, which made them very confident that Way was the exact Road to England; and seeing so many Ships come thence, they believ'd it could not be far thither, esteeming the English that were among them, no better than Cheats, and thought, if they could carry the Skins and Furs they got, themselves to England, which were inhabited with a better Sort of People than those sent amongst them, that then they should purchase twenty times the Value for every Pelt they sold Abroad, in Consideration of what Rates they sold for at Home. The intended Barter was exceeding well approv'd of, and after a general Consultation of the ablest Heads amongst them, it was, `Nemine Contradicente', agreed upon, immediately to make an Addition of their Fleet, by building more Canoes, and those to be of the best Sort, and biggest Size, as fit for their intended Discovery. Some Indians were employ'd about making the Canoes, others to hunting, every one to the Post he was most fit for, all Endeavours tending towards an able Fleet and Cargo for Europe. The Affair was carry'd on with a great deal of Secrecy and Expedition, so as in a small Time they had gotten a Navy, Loading, Provisions, and Hands ready to set Sail, leaving only the Old, Impotent, and Minors at Home, 'till their successful Return. {They never hearing more of their Fleet.} The Wind presenting, they set up their Mat-Sails, and were scarce out of Sight, when there rose a Tempest, which it's suppos'd carry'd one Part of these Indian Merchants, by Way of the other World, whilst the others were taken up at Sea by an English Ship, and sold for Slaves to the Islands. The Remainder are better satisfy'd with their Imbecilities in such an Undertaking, nothing affronting them more, than to rehearse their Voyage to England.

There being a strong Current in Santee-River, caus'd us to make small Way with our Oars. With hard Rowing, we got that Night to Mons. Eugee's House, which stands about fifteen Miles up the River, being the first Christian dwelling we met withal in that Settlement, and were very courteously receiv'd by him and his Wife.

Many of the French follow a Trade with the Indians, living very conveniently for that Interest. There is about seventy Families seated on this River, who live as decently and happily, as any Planters in these Southward Parts of America. The French being a temperate industrious People, some of them bringing very little of Effects, yet by their Endeavours and mutual Assistance amongst themselves, (which is highly to be commended) have out-stript our English, who brought with 'em larger Fortunes, though (as it seems) less endeavour to manage their Talent to the best Advantage. 'Tis admirable to see what Time and Industry will (with God's Blessing) effect. Carolina affording many strange Revolutions in the Age of a Man, daily Instances presenting themselves to our View, of so many, from despicable Beginnings, which in a short Time arrive to very splended Conditions. Here Propriety hath a large Scope, there being no strict Laws to bind our Privileges. A Quest after Game, being as freely and peremptorily enjoy'd by the meanest Planter, as he that is the highest in Dignity, or wealthiest in the Province. Deer, and other Game that are naturally wild, being not immur'd, or preserv'd within Boundaries, to satisfy the Appetite of the Rich alone. A poor Labourer, that is Master of his Gun, &c. hath as good a Claim to have continu'd Coarses of Delicacies crouded upon his Table, as he that is Master of a greater Purse.

We lay all that Night at Mons. Eugee's, and the next Morning set out farther, to go the Remainder of our Voyage by Land: At ten a Clock we pass'd over a narrow, deep Swamp, having left the three Indian Men and one Woman, that had pilotted the Canoe from Ashly-River, having hir'd a Sewee-Indian, a tall, lusty Fellow, who carry'd a Pack of our Cloaths, of great Weight; notwithstanding his Burden, we had much a-do to keep pace with him. At Noon we came up with several French Plantations, meeting with several Creeks by the Way, the French were very officious in assisting with their small Dories to pass over these Waters, (whom we met coming from their Church) being all of them very clean and decent in their Apparel; their Houses and Plantations suitable in Neatness and Contrivance. They are all of the same Opinion with the Church of Geneva, there being no Difference amongst them concerning the Punctilio's of their Christian Faith; which Union hath propagated a happy and delightful Concord in all other Matters throughout the whole Neighbourhood; living amongst themselves as one Trible, or Kindred, every one making it his Business to be assistant to the Wants of his Country-man, preserving his Estate and Reputation with the same Exactness and Concern as he does his own; all seeming to share in the Misfortunes, and rejoyce at the Advance, and Rise, of their Brethren.

Towards the Afternoon, we came to Mons. L'Jandro, where we got our Dinner; there coming some French Ladies whilst we were there, who were lately come from England, and Mons. L'Grand, a worthy Norman, who hath been a great Sufferer in his Estate, by the Persecution in France, against those of the Protestant Religion: This Gentleman very kindly invited us to make our Stay with him all Night, but we being intended farther that Day, took our Leaves, returning Acknowledgments of their Favours.

About 4 in the Afternoon, we pass'd over a large Ciprus run in a small Canoe; the French Doctor sent his Negro to guide us over the Head of a large Swamp; so we got that Night to Mons. Galliar's the elder, who lives in a very curious contriv'd House, built of Brick and Stone, which is gotten near that Place. Near here comes in the Road from Charles-Town, and the rest of the English Settlement, it being a very good Way by Land, and not above 36 Miles, altho' more than 100 by Water; and I think the most difficult Way I ever saw, occasion'd by Reason of the multitude of Creeks lying along the Main, keeping their Course thro' the Marshes, turning and winding like a Labyrinth, having the Tide of Ebb and Flood twenty Times in less than three Leagues going.

[ HOME ]

  [ Back, Part One ]  [ Next, Part Three ]