[M234, roll 238, frames 249-281]
Fort Gibson Ark Ty.
5th June 1837
To C. A. Harris Esq.
Commissioner of Indian Affairs
I have the honor to forward to you herewith, my Journal of Occurences upon the route of the Party of Creek Emigrants; which yesterday reached it's place of destination, under my charge.
The Journal itself contains every thing of interest, that I have at present to communicate, upon the subject of the Indians.
I shall return eastward immediately and will probably receive at Little Rock, some intelligence from your Office to govern me in my future movements.
I have the honor to be, Sir,
Very Respectfully, your Obet, Servant
Lieut. U. S. Army &
in the Creek Emigration.
on the route of a Party of Emigrating Creek Indians rept. by Lieutenant Edw'd Deas U.S. Army Disbursing Agent in the Creek Emigration, in charge of the Party.
Today the Party of Creek Indians, the collection of which for Emigration, I have been charged with, was turned over by me to an Agent of the "Alabama Emigrating Company",
at a point about four miles south of Guntor's Landing N. Alabama.
The party numbers 543 shown by the muster roll. After due consideration of all the circumstances I find that the Route by water to the new Indian Country, west of the Mississippi River, at the present time, is preferable to that of land. I have therefore indicated this mode of Transportation, for the present Party.
These Indians are a part of those Creeks, that fled from their own country in Alabama, after the treaty with that Tribe of 1832; hoping probably by taking refuge among the Cherokees to be placed upon the same footing, with the latter people, in reference to the necessity of Emigrating to the West.
They have been apprehended at various points in the Cherokee Nation, scattered over an extensive tract of thinly settled or barren country. For this reason, and owing to the inaccessible retreats in which they were found by the Troops, and the difficulty of procuring subsistence and Transportation in such places; and also the necessity of employing Agents of intelligence to take charge of the Indians when apprehended; it has required a good deal of expense to prepare the present Party for Emigration. Nine flat boats have been purchased by the contractors, to be used until steam conveyance can be procured below the Muscle Shoal Falls in the Tennessee River. Four of these Flats, are of the largest class, about 80 feet long the others 50 & 40 feet in length. This allowance is sufficient to insure health and comfort to the people. I turned the Party over this morning at the Encampment of Tennessee Volunteers about 4 miles south of Guntor's Landing, where the Indians have been guarded for the last week. They were moved to the water's edge by noon, and about sun-set the whole embarked on the Flat-Boats & are at this time (10 o'clock P.M.) progressing slowly by the force of the current. There are but very few cases of sickness at present, and the weather is very favorable in this respect.
The Boats continued to float all last night, and until today at noon, when they reached Ditto's Landing 30 miles from the point of starting. They were then obliged to stop until 5 P.M., on account of wind, when they again set out, and are still floating (10 o'clock P.M.).
About 2 o'clock this morning a heavy wind suddenly arose by which the boats were compelled to land, in the dark, and was so unfortunate as to lose fifteen of the Indians , who took the opportunity of making their escape. Owing to the continuation of the wind the boats could not re-embark until near sunset, and are still floating (10 o'clock P.M.).
The Flat Boats with the Party on board continued to float all last night, and today until 3 o'clock P.M., when they were landed on account of wind, a few miles above Decatur; which place is 60 miles from Gunter's Landing. The Party reembarked about sunset, and is still progressing slowly. (10 o'clock P.M.).
Early this morning the weather became stormy and the Boats were obliged to land before day light, and in consequence have lost
more of the Indians by desertion.[17?] The Boats were
separated when they were landed, and immediately after some of the smaller ones touched the shore, the people on board of them, took advantage of the Darkness and Rain,
to make their escape.
As soon as the other boats landed, every exertion was made to overtake & bring them back. By offering a reward of one dollar for each that should be returned, I recovered 15. The remainder 56 in number, could not be overtaken in time and succeeded in making their escape to the mountains, 5 miles distant.
The weather has continued rainy thro' the day. No progress has been made, but we shall probably start to might. We are at present at Brown's Ferry, 12 miles below Decatur.
About midnight the Boats set-out & came thro' the Elk River Shoals to
Lamb's Ferry, 16 miles. We there stopped long enough to procure Pilots & hands to pass the Muscle Shoals which are somewhat difficult of navigation. The Boats
entered the Rapids at 10 o'clock A.M. and reached the foot of the Shoals at 4 P.M. without any accident.
The length of the shoals is fifteen miles and at some places the river is 2 or 3 miles wide, and is filled with small islands. Many of the passes are very rapid and experienced Pilots are necessary, to carry a Boat thro' in safety, though in case of accident, there is no other danger than the loss of the Boat & cargo.
The Party is at present landed on the north bank of the River, about 6 miles above Florence.
The Boats started this morning at 4 o'clock floated 14 miles, wind(?) again landed the Party 6 miles below Tuscumbia. An arrangement was made at that place today, for a S-Boat at Waterloo, 30 miles below, at the foot of the
Rapid waters. Nothing of consequence has
occurred, the Indians continue healthy, generally, and apparently ... satisfied. No further desertions have taken place.
For the last week it has been uncommonly cool for this country, at this season. Yesterday and today the weather has been very fine.
I should have mentioned, that on the 20th near Deactur I engaged a Dr. Morrow to accompany the Party at $85 per month, & expenses, in place of the physician who started from Gunter's Landing, at which place one could not be hired, for less than $5 per day.
Early this morning the Party again started, and reached Waterloo at 10 o'clock A.M. The Steam Boat Black Hawk was them got in readiness for the reception of the Indians. One large keel boat and two large flats were taken in tow, and at 4 o'clock P.M. the hole Party re-embarked, and we have since come 40 miles & landed for the night, at the foot of an Island in order to prevent desertions, should any of the Indians yet be so disposed. The Black Hawk is of about the middle size of Steam Boat, & her guards have her(?) covered(?), and everything done to accommodate the Indians to the best advantage on board of her.
The boats got under way this morning early, and reached Savannah, Tenn. an hour afterwards. One of the flats was left at that place, as it
impeded very much our progress and was not at all necessary, to the comfort of the People. The other boats have been rendered as
convenient for them as possible by constructing temporary sheds & cooking hearths(?) in the flat boats and on the deck of the keel. All
appear well be pleased with the rapid progress we are making, about 8 miles an hour. A
child that has been sick for some time back, died today & was buried in the afternoon at a wood landing.
Nothing else of importance has occurred thro' this day.
The boats continued to run thro' last night, passed Paducah today at one o'clock, and stopped for the night about sun-set, near the mouth of the Ohio, on the Illinois shore.
Another child died today, owing probably to the folly of it's mother, in putting it in cold water. Since leaving Gunter's Landing, the weather has been uncommonly cool, for the season. Since yesterday afternoon, there has been an almost constant drizzling rain. Up to the present time the rations have been issued without any failure. I had 17 bushels (all that could be had) of dried peas, issued at Tuscumbia in place of part of the meat ration, which is too great for the present inactive situation of the people.
This morning about daylight the boats started, the weather fine and still cool. In the forenoon we reached New Madrid, where a short stop was made, to procure corn. Since that time no interruption has occurred, & the boats will continue to run thro' the night.
The boats passed Memphis this morning early, but we made no stop as intention had been given, that some of the Indians wished to visit the Chickasaw country & would attempt to leave the Party for that purpose.
The boats continued to run thro' last night, & reached Montgomeries(?) Point, this morning about day-light. We entered the mouth of the White River at 8 o'clock having stopped a short time at the
Point, and passed thro' the cut-off into Arkansas R. about 1/2 past nine. We have since come about 50 miles, up the latter stream, and stopped for the night at 8 o'clock P.M.
The Arkansas is not a very good stage at present, for small boats, and is on the rise, which will probably continue for some time.
The Spring Fresh has just begun. Had we arrived 2 or 3 days sooner we should have been delayed, as several boats were fast on the bars(?) above, until yesterday. The rise of the river at this season, is said to be owing to the melting of snow in the Rocky Mountains and consequently depends upon it's time of occurrence, which of course varies with the season. As last winter was a severe one, & this warm weather having set late this spring, it is reasonable to expect a heavy rise this summer.
Nothing of importance has taken place today, the weather continues fair tho' warm.
The boats stopped for the night at dark, having come about 50 miles.
An Indian man & a very old woman both of whom have been sick since starting, died today. As it is
necessary at present to stop at night, on account of navigations, and as the people can therefore go onshore to sleep & cook, if they choose, we left the flat boat this morning, the steam boat & keel being sufficient to transport the Party, under such circumstances.
The boats got under way early this morning, and stopped at sunset having come about 75 miles.
The people come on board & the Boats started at 6 o'clock A.M. and passed Pine Bluffs in forenoon. As we shall be able to reach Lt. Rock early tomorrow by running tonight, and the Indians wishing to do so, I have consented to it being done. The river has risen so suddenly within the last few days, that the pilots think there is no longer any danger from snags, or other obstructions at night.
We reached Little Rock this morning at 7 o'clock, stopped there about an hour and then continued to run until 7 P.M. having come about 50 miles.
When the boats landed a very few of the people went on shore, and as they appeared generally desirous of continuing to run thro' the night, we accordingly started again at 11 P.M. It rained last night but cleared up this morning before reaching Lt. Rock, and the weather is at present fine tho' warm in the daytime.
A female child died this afternoon but nothing else of importance has occurred thro' the day.
The river is now said to be 12 or 14 feet above low water mark.
We continued to run thro' last night, and today; the weather very fine tho' warm. An old woman who has been ill with the consumption more than year died this afternoon. We are still moving (10 o'clock P.M.) and are about 200 miles above Little Rock by water.
We continued to travel through last night & today and reached Fort Smith this morning at dark, and are still progressing at the rate of 3 or 4 miles an hour (10 o'clock P.M.). It should have been mentioned that every day a considerable stop has been made in daytime, at wood landings, giving the Indians an opportunity of leaving the boats, and bathing, and also taking exercise, the want of which to people of these habits is the greatest objection to transporting them by water. I do not think that the present Party has suffered on this account.
We reached Fort Coffee this morning about 2 o'clock, stopped there a half an hour, and then continued to run
until 11 A.M. when the boats were obliged to stop 2 or 3 hours to procure wood, which was gathered and cut, by the hands and the Indians, who were hired to do so. So little navigation takes place at this point of the river, that wood landings are very
few in number, after laying in a sufficient supply, the boats again started and will
continue to run thro' the night.
We passed the mouth of Canadian River about sunset and are now between 50 or 60 miles above Fort Coffee and about 30 from Fort Gibson (10 o'clock).
Another death occurred this morning at Fort Coffee (an infant).
For 5 or 6 days after we entered the Arkansas, we traveled at an average of something over 4 miles per hour, but since then, the current has become so much more rapid, that we have been gradually running slower, and at present the speed of the boats does not exceed 3 miles.
We continued to travel through last night, and this forenoon at 7 o'clock passed the mouth of Grand River. The Indians, had said to me, that they wished to be landed on the west bank of the Verdigris, near the Creek Agency. When we reached the mouth of Grand River, I sent an Indian runner to inform the Disburs' Agent of the Creek (West), that the Party was in the vicinity, in order that arrangements might be made for it's immediate reception, at the point of de-barkation. The boats reached the Creek Agency at 8 o'clock and the Indians were immediately mustered, with as much accuracy, as it was possible for that operation to be performed with. The Party was received immediately after it's arrival, and the number after deducting desertions and deaths upon the boats, amounted to Four hundred and sixty three.
Today the muster roll of the Party of Indians that was yesterday delivered over by me, at the Creek Agency on the Verdigris R, was certified by the Disbursing Agent, the Creeks (West). I have no fault to find with the Emigrating Company in regard to the Removal of this Party. I believe the Indians have received every allowance they were entitled to , and with one
trifling exception, were treated in conformity with the requirements of the letter and spirit of the
Emigrating Contract. This exception was the failure to have constructed some necessary fixtures, which were essential to cleanliness in the boats and which I was promised should be put up before starting. Then construction was delayed several days and never were finished as I wished they to be. Had not their
necessity been superceded in a few days, by the
frequent stopping by the boats, I should have employed carpenters to make them & have charged the expense to the Contractors.
When the miserable and impoverished condition of many of these people, some months previous to starting, is considered, and the injurious effect that such circumstances was calculated to produce upon the health & constitutions of many of them; and when it is also remembered that they were necessarily closely confined under guard, for weeks previous to setting out; and when the unhealthy season of the year is also taken into account; I do not think that the amount of sickness & number of deaths upon this route; has been by any means great.
The foregoing remarks embrace every occurrence of any importance that has taken place to my knowledge from the time the Party started from Gunter's Landing until it's arrival and delivery, in the New county west of the Mississippi River.
1st Lt. U.S. Army &
Disbur. Agent in the