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Early Western Travels, 1748-1846

Early Western Travels, 1748-1846 comprises thirty-one volumes which contain accurate reprints of rare manuscripts. They were carefully chosen from the mass of material descriptive of travels in the North American interior which this century of continental expansion (1748-1846) provided, and no manuscript has been included unless it possessed permanent historical value. The result is a series which the casual reader will find interesting, and the historian, teacher and scholar, will find invaluable, as it makes available sources of information without which the development of the West, its history and its people cannot be fully understood. The editor has provided numerous footnotes and an introduction to each volume which contains a biographical sketch of the author, an evaluation of the book reprinted and bibliographical data concerning it. The closing volumes are devoted to a complete and exhaustive analytical index to the entire series.

Early Explorations of Louisiana Territory

From the mouth of the Verdigris, in its day the farthest thrust of the pioneer, the conquest of a large part of the Southwest was achieved. The story of this campaign covering a period of nearly fifty years, has never been written, though it contains much of romance that even in the form of isolated or related incidents, it is possible to record. The Louisiana Purchase itself was romance. In 1803 President Jefferson directed Monroe and Livingston to negotiate for the purchase of New Orleans for the United States, and they brought home title to an empire, practically a donation from France.

Castaways, Deserters, Refugees and Pirates

There is no accurate measure of the number of shipwrecks along the South Atlantic Coast and the Gulf of Mexico, but the number must be in the hundreds or even over a thousand. Also not known is how many shipwrecked sailors and passengers survived in North America during the 1500’s and 1600’s, or how many Sephardic Jews, Muslim Moors and European Protestants, escaping the Spanish Inquisition, landed on the shores of the present day Southeastern United States. Surviving archives, however, do furnish credible evidence of these peoples settling in the interior of the Southeast, while officially England was only colonizing the coastal regions.

Hernando De Soto

With seven ships of his own providing, and accompanied by from six hundred to one thousand warlike and energetic adventurers, many of whom were of noble rank, Hernando De Soto set sail, in the month of April, 1538. Upwards of a year was spent, mostly upon the island of Cuba, before the fleet set sail for the Florida coast. In the latter part of May, 1539, the vessels came to anchor off the bay of Espiritu Santo, now Tampa Bay, on the western sea-board, and a large division of soldiers, both horse and foot, were landed. The Indians had taken the alarm, and, although the smoke of their fires had been seen from shipboard in various directions, all had fled from the district, or lay concealed in the thickets. De Soto appears to have been desirous to proceed upon peaceable terms with the natives, but hostilities soon followed. Some skirmishes took place near the point of landing, and the Spaniards speedily possessed themselves of the nearest village, where were the head-quarters of the cacique Ucita or Hiriga. Here De Soto established himself in “the lord’s house,” which was built upon a mound by the seashore; while the soldiers used the materials of the other buildings in constructing barracks. At the inland extremity of the town stood the temple devoted by the Indians to religious observances. Over the entrance of this building was the wooden figure of a fowl, having the eyes gilded placed there for the purpose of ornament, or as symbolic of the tutelary deity of the place. Clearings were now made around the village, to give free...

Expedition Of Pamphilo De Narvaez

The jealous Cuban governor, Velasquez, enraged at his presumption in throwing off the authority under which he had sailed, fitted out a formidable armament, to overthrow the newly acquired power of Cortez. The fleet, under the command of Pamphilo de Narvaez, reached the Mexican coast, and news of its arrival were conveyed to Cortez in the month of May 1520. With his usual decision and promptness, the general divided his forces, and leaving the larger portion under Alvarado to maintain possession of the capital, he marched to check the advance of Narvaez. By the boldness of a night attack, followed up by the most consummate policy in winning over the good wishes, and exciting the cupidity of the newly-arrived army, he converted his enemies to friends, and, placing the leader in confinement, hastened back to the city with his powerful auxiliaries. His return was timely indeed. Alvarado had been guilty of an act of barbarity, (whether caused by avarice, by a supposed necessity, or by a desire to ape the valiant achievements of his master, cannot now be ascertained,) which had brought down upon him and his garrison the fury and indignation of the whole Aztec nation. Upon an occasion of great public ceremonials at the Teocalli, or temple, at which were gathered a great con course of the nobility and chiefs, the Spaniards, placing a guard at the gates of the outer wall, mingled with the unarmed company, and, at an appointed sign, fell upon and murdered every Mexican present. A general rush upon the Spanish quarters, which followed this event, was only checked by the appearance of...

Hernando Cortez

The Cuban governor, Velasquez, determined to pursue discoveries and conquest at the west, and appointed Hernando Cortez, a Spanish cavalier, resident upon the island, to command the new expedition. That the reader may judge what strange contradictions may exist in the character of the same individual, how generosity and cupidity, mildness and ferocity, cruelty and kindness, may be combined, let him compare the after conduct of this celebrated hero with his character as sketched by the historian. “Cortez was well made, and of an agreeable countenance; and, besides those common natural endowments, he was of a temper which rendered him very amiable; for he always spoke well of the absent, and was pleasant and discreet in his conversation. His generosity was such that his friends partook of all he had, without being suffered by him to publish their obligations.” In the words of the poet, he “Was one in whom Adventure, and endurance, and emprise Exalted the mind s faculties, and strung The body s sinews. Brave he was in fight, Courteous in banquet, scornful of repose, And bountiful, and cruel, and devout.” Hidalgos of family and wealth crowded eagerly to join the fortunes of the bold and popular leader. “Nothing was to be seen or spoken of,” says Bernal Diaz, “but selling lands to purchase arms and horses, quilting coats of mail, making bread, and salting pork for sea store.” From St. Jago the fleet sailed to Trinidad on the southern coast, where the force was increased by a considerable number of men, and thence round Cape Antonio to Havana. From the latter port the flotilla got under...

Native American Cremation

More than a century before McKenney made his tour of the Lakes and stopped at Detroit, during the month of June, 1826, Charlevoix traversed much of the same on his way to the country of the Illinois, and thence down the Mississippi. At that time the Missisauga, a tribe closely related to the Chippewa, and of which they may be considered a subtribe or division, lived on the shores of Lake St. Clair and the vicinity, and here Charlevoix saw their scaffold burials. Referring to the several tribes with whom he had come in contact, he wrote: “When an Indian dies in the time of hunting, his body is exposed on a very high scaffold, where it remains till the departure of the company, who carry it with them to the village. There are some nations who have the same custom, with respect to all their dead; and I have seen it practised among the Missisaguez at the Narrows. The bodies of those who are killed in war are burnt, and the ashes carried back, in order to be deposited in the sepulchres of their ancestors. These sepulchres, among those nations who are best fixed in their settlements, are a sort of burial grounds near the village.” This was written in 1721. Another reference to the burning of bodies was prepared about the same year, and proves that others besides those of persons killed in war were so consumed. “An Officer of the regular Troops has informed me also, that while he had the Command of the Garrison at Oswego, a Boy of one of the far Westward Nations...

Trade Routes in the Lower Southeast

The memoir of French explorer, René Goulaine de Laudonniére state that the predominate flow of trade in the Lower Southeast in the late 1500s was north-south.  Greenstone, gold, ocher, mica, crystals, precious stones and silver that was mined in the Southern Highlands, were traded for salt, shells, grain, skins, furs, colorful clays, dried fish and dyes obtained from lower altitudes.  He emphasized that the desire to control the cargos of greenstone and gold from the mountains was the cause of many wars. A major trade route passed through Track Rock Gap, but it was not the most important one. The two most important trade routes ran through the Appalachian Valley in northwestern Georgia and the Savannah River Basin – Unicoi Gap – Dillard Gap in northeastern Georgia.  These were the only portals through the Southern Highlands that offered a reasonably level passage from one side of the mountains to the other.  The major trail paralleled the Savannah River up to the confluence of the Tugaloo and Seneca Rivers. One branch cut westward to the Nacoochee Valley and then northward through the Unicoi Gap to the Hiwassee River.  The other branch followed the Tugaloo River northwestward to the nearby source of the Little Tennessee River. It then went through Dillard Gap and followed the Little Tennessee all the way to the Tennessee River. The Great White Path or Etowah Trail apparently developed after a large town was founded on the Etowah River about 100 BC.  Its location is two miles west of Etowah Mounds. The trade route began on the Etowah River near Etowah Mounds and followed the river to...

French Colonizing Expeditions

A small temporary fort was established by Captain Jean Ribault in Port Royal Sound, SC in 1562. Seventeenth Century French maps state that members of this colony traveled to the “gold-bearing mountains of the Apalache,” and claimed the territory for the King of France. Only French maps of the period provide an accurate description of the entire Savannah River system, but no archives have been found that collaborate such a journey. In 1564, after establishing Fort Caroline somewhere in the vicinity of the mouth of the Altamaha River, Captain René Goulaine de Laudonniére dispatched several expeditions up the Altamaha River to the sources of its tributaries in the foothills of the mountains. He had learned from tribes on the coast that important trading activities occurred along this route. The Apalache Indians traded gold, copper, silver, greenstone, mica and crystals mined in the mountains to provinces in the Piedmont and Coastal Plain.  Control of this trade route was a major cause of warfare between the provinces in the lower elevations.  Greenstone was the most desired commodity because it was the only stone suitable for axes and wedges to split wood. The two longest expeditions lasted six months and two months; the longest one being commanded by La Roche Ferriere. These expeditions provided the names of the provinces between the mountains and the sea.  One was named the Mayacoa or Maya People. De Laudonniére named the mountains “Les Apalachiens” in honor of his new trading partners, the Apalache. The expeditions returned with gold, silver, copper, rubies and sapphires. A “red” metal were tested by a metallurgist and said to be gold,...

Hernando de Soto Expedition to Georgia

The earliest recorded visit of Europeans to the Georgia and North Carolina Mountains was in 1540.  De Soto’s Conquistadors spent several summer weeks at the capital of Kvse (pronounced Kău-shĕ in Itsate-Creek, but known as Kusa in English.) Kvse means “forested mountains” in Itza Maya. Florida Indians told Pánfilo de Narváez in 1528 that the Apalachee People, who lived in the mountains many days to the north, mined and traded gold. The people, whom the Spanish called Apalache, called themselves the Palache, which is the Creek word for the Biloxi Indians. This is not general knowledge because the media has relied on commentaries about de Soto, rather than actually reading the chronicles. Just before heading north from the Florida Panhandle in 1540, de Soto was told that the capital of the Apalache province in the mountains was named Yupaha. Yupaha means “Horned Lord.” The Florida Indians stated that Yupaha had much gold. De Soto set off to find Yupaha, but his chroniclers never mentioned the town again.  Historians have traditionally assumed Yupaha to be a fable. After leaving Kusa, de Soto passed through the towns of Tali-mochase (New Tali), Itapa, and then, what the chroniclers wrote as Ubahali.  However, this would be a typical manner that Castilians would write the word, Yupaha-le, which is a Coastal Plain Itsate  word meaning “Horned Lord People.”  So Yupaha really did exist.   It probably was the Track Rock archaeological zone, because that is largest known town site in the gold-bearing section of the Georgia Mountains. Add an “s” to Itapa, and you have Itsapa.  This may or may not been the town’s real...

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