Southern Illinois History Page

Butrick's Diary of Cherokee trek across Egypt

(December 1838 - January 1839)
    
    15th death since we crossed the Tennessee River.
    We travelled about 6 miles and camped 2 miles from Ohio River.
    
Saturday.
    Early in the morning the detachment started for the river, and commenced crossing about 10 o'clock. The weather was pleasant and still, affording us a favorable opportunity for crossing the River. As we were now passing out of a slave state into a free, we reflected on the pleasure of landing where all were in a measure equal and free. But we had scarcely landed when we were met with volleys of oaths from every quarter. I turned to one boat to make a few purchases but heard such awful profaneness within, that I quickly turned away to another. On entering it I had scarcely time to speak to the owner behind the counter, before I was obliged to hear from his unhallowed lips the same infernal language. I told him the cause of my turning from the other boat, and my regret at being compelled to hear the same from his mouth, and urged him to desist from such a practice. On going up from the boats into the village, called Golconda, it seemed to be made up chiefly of groceries, and little boys in he streets had already learned to lisp the infernal language. I almost longed to be back in the still, quiet towns of Kentucky. I would but think of the unhappy fate of Mr. Lovejoy, who fell a victim of the principles of slavery, in a state of nominal freedom. Those of us who crossed first went on to the place designated for camping about a mile and a half from the river. I immediately commenced gathering wood for the sabbath. Having done this & commenced making preparation for supper, we were told by a white man living near, that that was not the place for camping, but we must go beyond the next plantation. We therefore harnessed & leaving our fire & wood went on with other waggons to the place specified. Here we found a man of Waffords detachment still on the ground drunk. That company left here this morning. We now again selected a place for our tent & and put it up, and gathered wood for the sabbath. My dear wife had also made her tea, when word came that we must not camp there, as the owner would not allow the Cherokees to cut or burn any wood. Mrs. Taylor also who was yet behind wished the detachment to farther & camp on public land. It was now nearly dark Saturday night and we were quite tired and hungry, yet we could only prepare for another encampment, about a mile distant. We had now time to prepare wood, but found dry bushes ... (?) near our tent, so as to answer our purpose for the night.
    
Sabbath.
    As but few waggons arrived at this place last night, they kept coming in today. But about half of the detachment crossed the river yesterday, and as the ferryman seems determined that the others shall come over today, Mr. Taylor considered it his duty to go back and see the detachment all over, and of course we had no meeting. This is the first sabbath since we left Brainerd on which we have not had public worship. About noon a number of white people came to our tent, & I gave them a brief history of the sufferings of the Cherokees. The afternoon and night were stormy.
    
Monday.
    The rain still continues. Two or three Cherokees come in last night drunk, — cursing & blaspheming in an awful manner. Today again, one of them returned raging like an infernal spirit, but was soon seized by the Cherokee light horse and bound.
    
Tuesday.
    As we do not start today, it is thought best to move onto dryer ground. My own health failed, had a high fever in the afternoon, and took an emetic. After the operation of this, I was seized with a severe pain in my right side, which increased till sometime in the night, when the physician bled me, and put a poultice of mustard seed on my side, which afforded relief.
    
Wednesday.
    We travelled about six miles and camped. Had a comfortable night.
    
Thursday.
    As several waggons and some sick persons are still behind, we wait today for them. This morning a little child about 10 years old died. Previous to starting on this journey, I determined to let it be a journey of prayer, and to devote much time every day to that sacred duty, but instead of this. I have very strangely neglected prayer. In the morning our time is employed in taking our bed &tc, from the little waggon in which we sleep to the large waggon which carried its — replacing the seat. — getting water, — cooking breakfast, putting up things, harnessing &tc., soon we are hurried on by the waggons we accompany to the next encampment. Here we have to render what we did in the morning — put up our tent, get wood and water, prepare supper, fix our bed &ct. We often become much fatigued by the time we get our fire prepared. I know that all this cannot justify a neglect of prayer. I think my own heart is more peculiarly depraved, especially as respects impatient and angry feelings. And further, I have no pleasing anticipations about arriving at the Arkansas. Mr. Worester (sp?) will doubtless wish to sustain, or at least excuse Mr. Boudinot in the course he has taken; and as the A. Board have ...(/) Mr. Boudinot as an ...(?) missionary of the west. They doubtless look over his conduct in making the treaty, yet the mission churches in the nation do not, and by attempting to crowd him into their favour without any acknowledgment on his part, we should only prove, or seem to prove to them, that we were interested with him, and plunge the ...(?) of the A. Board like lead in the mighty waters. Mr. Taylor said long ago if I mistake not, that he could not commune with Mr. Boudinot. Br. Mills, an elder in Haweis(sp?) church said the same, and would not attend the communion when Chamberlain & Potter held it at W. J. Ridge's, because he was opposed to the measures they were taking. Maj. Lowery, an elder in Willstown church had spoken dividedly against the measures adopted by the treaty party. Knowing the mind of the church, I felt that the case called for a thorough and candid investigation by some ecclesiastical body, and therefore I gave the greathren of Brainerd chruch an opportunity to express their feelings on the subject, hoping that this might bring the case before some council or presbytery, by which it might be examined and decided in a proper manner, though it is very doubtful whether I leave to reach that place. The little boy who died last night was buried today in a coffin made of puncheons.
    
Friday.
    We proceeded six miles to a very pleasant spot, to remain till Monday.
    
Saturday.
    This morning two children died with the bowel complaint. Towards night the wind arose and the air turning cold. I did not attend the prayer meeting.
    
Sabbath.
    We have peculiar cause of gratitude for the preservation of the last night. The wind blew a gale nearly the whole night, and seemed to threaten almost certain calamity, both by scattering the fire through the leaves and tents and also by throwing limbs, trees &tc, upon our head. But those eyes which never slumber watched over us, and preserved us in safety, though we had but little sleep. The weather is now piercing cold, so that we despair of holding any public meeting. I consulted Mr. Taylor and we concluded to hold a prayer meeting in some tent, and accordingly met in the tent of Br. P. Pridget.
    
Monday & Tuesday.
    Traveled about 15 miles. Tuesday about noon, the linch pin came out of one end of the fore axletree , — the wheel came off and the end of the axletree, falling on the frozen ground broke, so that we had much trouble to get on to a waggon maker six miles forward. My dear wife had to walk considerably, & I became quite fatigued. We now called for lodgings at the house where we were to get our work done. The house was rather open & contained but one room, yet the family at length consented to our stay. Here our bodies were refreshed, but our souls pained. The workman, — the man of the house, came home a little before night in a high state of intoxication, & almost every word was accompanied with an oath. We hastened to bed, no considering it possible to have family worship. None of this family can read or write. The workman, i.e. the waggon maker is about 60 years old, and presents and awful spectacle. There are five adults in the family, yet none, to read. The woman says also that their preacher himself sometimes gets drunk. He is a schismatic, or Bible Christian. He does not exclude any from the church, not even for drinking, because he says, all must grow together till the harvest.
    Thus far the citizens of Illinois appear more & more pitiable. They seem not only low in all their manners, but ignorant, poor, and ill humoured. They have no slaves, but in general, as far as we have seen, they seem to be hankering after these ...(l--ks)(/) of Egypt, and because they cannot have slaves, let their work go undone. We see nothing like schools in this country.
    
Wednesday.
    The moving is exceptionally cold. Rode to the encampment, one mile, and found our dear Cherokees comfortable in their tents. Saw Mr. Taylor he says they will remain today where they are. It is said the detachment now at the Mississippi are stopped by floating ice, and Mr. Hilderbrand's detachment is stopped by the same means at the Ohio R. After breakfast my dear wife accompanied me to the camps, where we put down our tent, prepared wood for the night, but on returning for our carryall found it would be done to sleep in, and therefore we were obliged again to sleep at the house.
    
Thursday.
    We proceeded with the detachment about 6 miles, where we camped for the week. Here the snow increased to three or four inches, and the weather was exceptively cold.
    
Friday & Saturday
    afflicted with a fever afternoons, & a cough during the night. So also on the Sabbath was unable to attend meeting. Our dear br. Wloska had a meeting.
    It is disturbing to reflect on the situation of the nation. One detachment stopped at the Ohio River, two at the Mississippi, one four miles this side, one 16 miles this side, one 18 miles, and one 13 miles behind us. In all these detachments, comprising about 8,000 souls, there is now a vast amount of sickness, and many deaths. Six have died within a short time in Maj. Browns company, and in this detachment of Mr. Taylors there are more or less afflicted with sickness in almost every tent; and yet all are houseless & homeless in a strange land, and in a cold region, exposed to weather almost unknown in their native country. But they are prisoners. True their own chiefs have directly hold of their hands, yet the U. States officers hold the chiefs with an iron grasp, so that they are obliged to lead the people wording to their directions in executing effectually that schermerhorn treaty.
    
Monday, Dec. 31.
    This morning we were permitted to read the texts for this last day of the year. O what a year it has been! O what a sweeping wind has gone over, and carried its thousand into the grave; while thousands of others have been tortured and scarcely survive, and the whole nation comparatively thrown out of house & home during this most dreary winter. As coming from God, we know it is just. But what have they done to the U. States? Have they violated any treaty? or any intercourse law or abused any of the agents or officers of the U. States? or have they refused to accommodate U. States citizens when passing through the country? No such thing is pretended. For what crime then was this whole nation doomed to this perpetual death? This almost unheard of suffering? Simply because they would not agree to a principle which would be at once death to their national existence, viz.. that a few unauthorized individuals might, at any time, sit aside the authority of the national council & principal chief, and in opposition to the declared will of the nation, dispose of the whole public domain, as well as the private property of individuals, and render the whole nation houseless and homeless at pleasure, such a treaty the President of the U. States sanctioned, the senate ratified, and the military force was found ready to execute. And now we see some of the effects.
    The year past has also been a year of spiritual darkness. We have had but few happy seasons, and as far myself. I have by no means been faithful to my trust. I have wanted faith & love & zeal. A great part of the time my heart has been grieved to hear the awful profaneness, and see the scenes of wickedness which have been brought before us.
    
Tuesday Jan. 1, 1839.
    Thus we enter on a new year in this wilderness, about 25 miles from the Mississippi. I say wilderness, because through many people are settled around us, yet we, Indians, have a little spot of wood land assigned us, in which we must reside as really as if all the region were a wilderness. White people come to sell & get gain, but not to invite any to a friendly roof. Last evening a young man died by the name of Ramsey. A white man, who has had charge of one of Mr. Taylors teams. He is said to have been deranged ever since we came to this spot. He was taken to a house in the neighbourhood, where he died. About 4 o'clock this afternoon he was buried. I spoke a few words at the grave on the subject of death & the swiftness of time, and prayed with the assembly. I felt thankful that I was able to attend and speak a word for God on this first day of the year, but my health was such that I hastened back to our tent, where we had also prepared a small shelter of boards. This was peculiarly grateful as the night was rainy. I am now obliged to have our fire wood cut, and almost every thing done which we need out doors. O how kind the son is in providing all things to keep us from suffering.
    The mercies, as well as the judgments of the year past demand peculiar attention, as we proceed to take our leave of it. Though we have been distressed on every side, yet we have not been destroyed. And though by my unfaithfulness I have forfeited every favour from God — from the dear Board that supports me & the poor Cherokees, who still bear with me, yet thus far I am kindly permitted to labour in the mission field, and I would plead this privilege while I shall be able to labour. The health of my dear wife the year past calls for the most unfeigned gratitude to God. During almost the whole of last winter. I was confined to the house with sickness. She arose first in the morning, saw to fires being made, and to all the domestic concerns of the house. By this means without hiring help, we provided with the school, boarding ten children and the teacher, and attending to the constant flow of company that called on us. This also through the whole summer and fall her labours have been peculiarly trying; and since we have been on this journey, for three long months, she has slept in a waggon or a tent, & been exposed to cold & wet, and at present has to go forward again, and take care of me in my ill health., yet she has not sunk under her burdens. The son has sustain in her & blessed be his name, o that her health, spiritual & temporal, may be still preserved. The little boy also that has lived with us has also enjoyed uninterrupted good health. O what could we have done in these times of distress if the son had also afflicted us with sickness? O what unspeakable gratitude is due for his mercies past. And o how kindly has he dealt with us since, we set out on this journey. During the three months we have been thus in the wilderness, no tempest has been let loose to throw down the many trees hanging over; and no flashing lightning to frighten the timid and very seldom have we experienced any special inconvenience from rain. Though some have been sick, & fallen on the way, yet many still survive, in circumstances calling for gratitude. O though dear Redeemer, do help us to praise thee, and may thy kindness still attend us.
    
Wednesday.
    Was quite sick, — able only to visit a few other sick persons.
    
Thursday.
    confined mostly to our tent by ill health; — rode a short distance to purchase a few articles of food. Found a delightful family. Will the Lord remember them in mercy.
    
Saturday.
    Rode out a few rods, — saw Mr. Taylor in pursuit of some to assist in burying a little boy of about 9 years, who died last night.
    
Saturday.
    The detachment is still waiting. My dear wife is now unwell, afflicted with a ulea. her strength has been declining a number of days. I am also scarcely able to walk.
    
Sabbath.
    A number of our Cherokee brethren came to our camp, so that we held a meeting about noon. I endeavored to speak from Exod. 20:2 (? on chapter and verse) It was encouraging because we had so long been unable to meet with our dear friends.
    
Monday.
    Early this morning a blind man by the name of Avehy(sp?) died with the bowel complaint. He had no family, but lived with two of his sisters. It is said they did not pay that attention to him, which his situation required. I had not known of his sickness, nor even heard of the man himself, till I heard of his death, though he as been all the time in the detachment. He was buried about dark near the tent where he died. Today most of the detachment left this place for another about one miles and a half distance, as there is a plentiful supply of water, whereas here we have it to fetch about half a mile. About noon I visited a sick man in the neighbourhood, who is a member of the Cumberland Presbyterian church. He seems resigned to the Divine will. At candlelight several brethren Cherokees came to our tent, where we held the monthly concert. We were rejoiced in being able to attend this meeting on the first Monday of the year.
    
Tuesday.
    We went to the new campground & pitched our tent near those of McPhearson & Mr. Burns. Got a black man to cut some wood for the night.
    About sunset I married Mr. Robert D. Blackstone to Miss Louisa C. England at her fathers tent.
    
Wednesday.
    My dear wife is scarcely able to walk about. The weather is now warm and debilitating and her strength seems to decline.
    
Thursday.
    Visited the camps — find a large number sick and unwell. War Club, our old friend, gave us some slippery elm bark to use for the bowel complaint.
    
Friday
    There was some rain last night, yet in the morning, it abated so that I kindled a fire before the tent, but soon a very powerful rain commenced, and the water ran in streams through the tent, and considering the state of our health, we had great cause of gratitude that we took no new cold. At length the rain ceased, & the ground dryed away so that we prepared our breakfast. During the day I visited our dear br. George Hicks' detachment; — found him well — saw also our dear brs. Sivie (sp?) Woodward, & Frank. It is said that upwards of thirty have died out of this detachment since they started.
    
Saturday.
    This morning was also ushered in with a severe rain, so that I had to get up and go directly into the rain to make a fire. My dear wife is evidently much afflicted by these exposures.
    We learn that Judge Browns's and G. Stilley detachment have already crossed the river, and that Mr. Waffords will probably commence crossing tomorrow.
    
Sabbath.
    Last night was also rainy and this morning during a heavy rain we had considerable difficulty in making a fire. The rain subsided before noon, so that we held a meeting at br. P. Pridget's tent. I spoke from Rom: 5:8,9. O how consoling the though that salvation is all of grace. If this last worth or merit were required as a condition of acceptance. I could only yield at once to eternal despair. I am not only unworthy, but unworthiness itself, not only devoid of merit, but deserving all will, yet if while we were sinners without strength, Christ died for us, will He not also without our merit, from the same fine grace, grant those few ours ... to complete that salvation which he has begun. I also endeavoured to encourage our poor brethren & sisters, in their present state of poverty and distress, to take hold of the free salvation, and come with boldness to the throne of grace.
    
Monday.
    The night was again rainy, but the morning more pleasant. Soon after breakfast I went to Mr Taylors tent to enquire when we should proceed on our journey. he thinks of starting tomorrow. When we camped a mile and a half back a young white man, a waggoner, was sick at the house of a Mr. Gore, a few days, where he died. Mr. Taylor showed me Mr. Gore's bill against the young man's estate, which he had paid, viz. For a coffin (a very ordinary one) four Dollars. For some gravecloths & burial, ten Dollars, and for the use of a bed eleven Dollars, in all twenty five Dollars.
    Mr. Taylor also spoke a trouble which Mr. Hicks had lately experienced. A very aged Cherokee belonging to Mr. Wafford's detachment fell back into that of Mr. Taylors, the otherside of Ohio River, and crossed the river with us. One of our company siz. Little Broom broke his waggon and remained at Golconda a day or two and this old man remained with him. At length, however, the old man left him, & Little Broom came on. Soon after this Mr. Hicks detachment crossed the river & pursued his journey. Sometime after this the citizens near the river found the old man dead, and buried him. They then followed Mr. Hicks with a charge of 39 dollars for burying, though the corpse was hauled to the place of burying with a log chain & a yoke of oxen. Mr. Hicks told them the old man belonged to another detachment, and that of course he was under no obligations to pay any charges against him. The men on hearing this returned, obtained a warrant, sheriff, viz. and returned on the Sabbath and took Mr. Hicks back to a little town called Vienna where after some debate he was acquitted . The man who was the principal in this prosecution is suspected of having killed the old man himself. It is also stated that some of his neighbours saw lately two young Cherokees well dressed lying dead in a branch below his house, and went to him and told him of it. Not long after they went to bury the bodies, but they could not be found, yet when Mr. Hicks detachment camped near the place, & left their encampment. Mr. Hilderbrand, company coming after, found one of the bodies of the young men, so they now suppose, lying on the campground. Though the body seemed to have been sometime dead, yet from all appearance it had lain on that place but a short time. It is supposed this man put it there, to induce the belief that it died out of Mr. Hicks detachment.
    These two young men are said to have belonged to Mr. Stills detachment. to have had a considerable amount of property, and to have stopped at Golconda, as their detachment went on. Thus the citizens of this state seem thus far to display a more mean & niggardly disposition than I have ever found in any other part of the union.
    Mr. Hicks detachment started today, and passed us about one mile. Some of his waggons however had been unable to get up on account of the mud. Mr. Hilderbrand's detachment came up within about a mile of us, excepting some waggons mired down in the mud.
    
Wednesday.
    Just before breakfast our dear brethren Blunt & Parker called. They had been commissioners in Mr. Foreman's detachment, but was obligated to return on account of the ill health of br. Blunt, before completing the journey.
    
Thursday.
    Mr. Hilderbrand's detachment passed on, so that we are now left behind. A number of Cherokees were drinking today at the house of a white man, and the light horse went to stop them, when the drunkards jumped on to their horses & fled. The light horse pursued them. The drunkards rode up to Mr. Burns' tent, when one of them W. Goodmoney, sprang from his horse, seized a gun & instantly discharged it, evidently intending to kill one of the light house men; though the ball passed through the foreleg of his horse. The light horse then seized him and took him to Mr. Taylor's tent.
    
Friday.
    We understand that there is be a council of Cherokees, W. Goodmoney is fined $120 for shooting the horse.
    
Sabbath.
    Yesterday spent some time in visiting the sick and at candlelight held a prayer meeting at the tent of Br. Mills. Today a good number assembled, and I attempted to hold up to their view, the great, the good & kind works of our Divine Redeemer while he tabernacled in the flesh, taking for my text. "He hath done all things well. " At candlelight held a meeting again at Br. Mill's tent.
    
Monday.
    After remaining at this place two weeks today we proceeded on our journey four & half miles, where we camped. Here we had a pleasant night. The elements were still & quiet, and the stars sparkled with peculiar luster; and by means of an old tree fallen long ago & broken by the wind, we were furnished with wood. This was peculiarly grateful because I was unable to chop. My dear wife and myself are both troubled with a diarrhea. I have also been troubled with a swelling I feared would prove dangerous. Today, the twenty-first of January, I trust I experienced some relief. I tried to give thanks to God, and feel determined, if relieved, to devote this day yearly to thanksgiving and prayer.
    
Tuesday.
    Today we traveled about five miles, and stopped where Mr. Hilderbrand's detachment had this morning left their fires all burning. I soon gathered wood ready cut, for the night. Here the company before us left one of their number to be buried by her friends, who stopped for the purpose. We also learn that last Friday night, a woman in the sane company was killed by the fall of a tree, and two others wounded. The tree fell on them, it seems when asleep. O how kind, how infinitely kind the dear, the condescending, the infinitely condescending Redeemer is. He guides us like the kindest shepherd. He carries us in his bosom. O who can praise Him according to his infinite kindness. Eternity will only afford time to give him thanks..
    
Wednesday.
    We traveled again five miles, and camped two miles beyond Jonesborough. This is a pleasant little village, and its moral character much better than that of any we have seen in the state. The weather is pleasant & in the middle of the day warm.
    
Thursday.
    As we do not travel today. I concluded to devote the day to fasting & prayers. This morning a young woman died near us. She had come in Mr. Hilderbrand's detachment till that came near us, when her father in this company took her to his tent. I had not seen her, nor known of her being in the company.
    
Friday.
    We proceeded seven miles to the bank of the Mississippi River. At this place a sand bar in the middle extends probably half across the bud of the river, bend of the river, leaving two slivers of about an equal width on each side. Therefore it is like two rivers, crossed by two ferries, that is, two sets of boats. one conveying passengers to the bar, the other from it. But three waggons and a carryall crossed today. We fixed our tent on the bank of the great River, one of the wonders of creation. Soon after we arrived, our at...
    
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Created May 1, 1998 by Jon Musgrave