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CHRISTOPHER GIST'S JOURNALS
WITH HISTORICAL, GEOGRAPHICAL AND ETHNOLOGICAL NOTES
AND BIOGRAPHIES OF HIS CONTEMPORARIES
WILLIAM M. DARLINGTON [1815-1889]
PITTSBURGH, J. R. WELDIN & CO.,
[Part 1. ]
[Pages 9-30. Page numbers will appear in the text in brackets in bold print.]
[Transcription is Verbatim.]
[Footnotes appear in smaller font.]
 The riches realized by Spain and Portugal in the sixteenth century from their newly acquired possessions in America excited amongst enterprising Englishmen a determination to establish colonies in that part of the Northern Continent extending from Canada to Florida, claimed for England in right of its discovery by the Cabots; also, to seek new discoveries, and especially a short passage through the interior of the country to the South Sea.
In April, 1585, colonists were sent out by Sir Walter Raleigh, and in the following month of August they landed on the island of Roanoke, on the eastern border of the present State of North Carolina, and there commenced the first English settlement in America. After exploring the neighboring rivers and sounds, they were induced by the relation of the Indians respecting the river Meratue (Roanoke) to attempt its exploration and endeavor to reach the head thereof, which the natives told them sprang from a huge rock near the sea, thirty or forty days' voyage westward, and "in that abundance that it forthwith maketh a most violent stream."
In March, 1586, Governor Ralph Lane, with two boats and forty men, ascended the river about one hundred miles (near to the present town of Halifax), hoping, as he afterwards wrote, for the discovery of a gold mine or a passage to the South Sea; but they were assailed by hostile Indians and so nearly starved that "they ate their two mastiff dogs boiled  with Sassafras leaves, and were compelled to return." (Hakluyt's "Voyages," Vol. III. Lane and Harriot's Relation.) Their voyage is memorable for being the earliest attempt by the English to explore the interior of America from the Atlantic westward. The relation of the Indians to the colonists has been stigmatized by historians as "extravagant tales, which nothing but cupidity could have credited." Now as the Roanoke, by its meanderings, is four hundred miles in length, thirty to forty days would be required to ascend to its source. Its various head springs, on the main ridges of the Alleghenies, in Montgomery County, Virginia, are scarce a mile from the waters of the Kanawha, or New River (Bancroft's "History of the United States," Vol. I, p. 99. Burke's "History of Virginia," Vol. I, p. 56.) and but eight miles from its main channel. The relation of the Indians was, in this respect at least, true, for the Roanoke does "forthwith make a most violent stream;" issuing by numerous creeks from this elevated tract and uniting into one body, it soon becomes the "rapid Roanoke," and on reaching Salem, in Roanoke County has fallen one thousand feet in little more than twenty miles." (Martin's "Geographical Gazetteer of Virginia," p. 53.)
The natives, probably, meant, if their "tales" were rightly interpreted, that the head of the Roanoke was near another stream whose waters flowed to another and distant sea. The city, rich with gold and pearls, they called Chaunis Temocatan, was Mexico or Tetuan, its ancient name.
Discouraged by the prospect, the colonists abandoned their settlement and returned to England, with the fleet of Sir Francis Drake, in the following month of June. Subsequent attempts by Raleigh and some of his associates to re-establish the colony at Roanoke failed disastrously, almost ruining the fortune of the illustrious author of the project.
 Twenty years later, on May 14, 16o6, the first permanent settlement by the English in America commenced at Jamestown, on the Powhatan or James River, and a week thereafter Captain Christopher Newport, with Captain John Smith and a company of twenty-three persons, sailed in a shallop from "James Fort" up the river, "with a perfect resolution not to return, but either to finde the heade of this ryver, the lake mentioned by others heretofore, the Sea againe, the mountaynes Apalatsi or some issue." (Captain Newport's "Discoveries," 1607. British State Paper Office. "Transactions of the American Antiquarian Society," Vol. IV, p. 40.)
They reached the Falls, at the site of the present city of Richmond, and on an islet in the river erected a wooden cross and proclaimed King James "with a greate showte." (Id., p. 47. Smith's "Virginia," Vol. I, p. 151.) The Governing Council in England had instructed them that the "Discovery of the South Sea (Pacific) as the certain and infallible way to immense riches was an object of which they were ever solicitous and intent." (Smith's "Virginia," p. 43.)
The successful establishment of the colony was of much less importance than searching for mines of gold or explorations westward by means of navigable rivers. In the summer of the following year Captain John Smith explored the Chesapeake Bay to the Susquehanna, entering into all the rivers and inlets as far as he could sail, of all of which he constructed an admirable map. In the fall of the same year Captain Newport returned from a visit to England with a private commission "Not to return without a lump of gold, a certainty of the South Sea, or one of the lost colony of Sir Walter Raleigh." He also had a large barge built, in five pieces, for convenience of carriage beyond the Falls, to convey them to the South Sea. With a number of boats and one hundred  and twenty men he ascended the river to the Falls; and thence explored by land about forty miles farther on the south side the stream to two towns of the Monacan Indians, returning, wearied and disappointed, by the same path after an ineffectual search for rich mines. The "quartered boat" was too cumbrous to be carried around the Falls, as Smith states, by even five hundred men, sarcastically adding "that if burned to ashes one might have carried her in a bag." (Smith's "History," Vol. I, p. 201.) The desire for further exploration seems to have subsided for many years; wars with the natives, their own dissensions, a constant struggle for the means of subsistence, and the cultivation of tobacco occupied the attention of the colonists. In 1624 the petition of the Virginia Company to the House of Commons enumerates among other advantages accruing to England in their view and expectation, by the success of the colony, is the "no small hopes of an early and short passage to the South Sea, either by Sea or Land."
The prevailing illusion respecting the short distance across continent was not entirely dispelled until near the close of the century and after the discovery and exploration of the Mississippi by the French became generally known.
Sir William Berkeley, Governor of Virginia, was informed by the Indians, in 1648, "that within five dayes journey to the Westward and by South there is a great high mountaine, and at foot thereof great Rivers that run into a great Sea; and that there are men that come hither in ships, (but not the same that ours be) they wear apparell and have reed caps on their heads, and ride on Beasts like our horses, but have much longer ears, and other circumstances they declare for the certainty of these things." ("A Perfect Description of Virginia," 1649, Vol. III, of Tracts, p. 13. Also in Massachusetts Historical Society Collection, Vol. IX, Second Series, p. 105.) These rivers, doubtless were those  now known as the Kanawha, Kentucky, Cumberland and Tennessee, whose waters flow from the western slope of the Allegheny Mountains to the Ohio and Mississippi and into the Gulf of Mexico, long before frequented by Spaniards. Governor Berkeley made preparations for discovery in person, with a company of fifty horse and fifty footmen, but abandoned the enterprise, probably in consequence of the disastrous results to the king in his contest with the Parliament engaging his attentionBerkeley being a firm Royalist.
The author of a tractentitled "A Perfect Description of Virginia, etc.,"("Force's Tracts," Vol. II. Massachusetts Historical Collection, Vol. IX, Second Series, p. 105.) published in London in 1649, wrote, that "for their better knowledge of the Land they dwell in, the Planters resolve to make a further Discovery into the Country, West and by South up above the Fall, and we are confident upon what they have learned from the Indians to find a way to a West or South Sea by Land or rivers, and to discover a way to China and East Indies, or unto some other Sea that shall carry them thither;" and that "Sir Francis Drake was on the back of Virginia in his Voyage about the World in 37 degrees just opposite to Virginia, and called Nova Albion. And now all the question is only how broad the Land may be to that place from the head of James River above the Falls, but all men conclude if it be not narrow, yet that there is and will be found the like rivers issuing into a South Sea or West Sea on the other side of those Hills, as there is on this side, when they run from the West into an East Sea, after a course of 150 miles."
Prior to Governor Berkeley's administration, Walter Austin and others obtained from the Assembly, in 1642, the passage of an Act, authorizing them "to undertake the discovery of a new river or unknown land, bearing west, southerly from  Appomatake River." ("Laws of Virginia," p. 267.) It does not appear, however, that any attempt at exploration was made until the year 1650, when Edward Bland having petitioned the Assembly and obtained like authority in August and September of that year, in company with Edward Pennant, Abrahame Wood and Sackford Brewster, two Indian chiefs as guides; and two servants, explored southwest from Appomattox (now Petersburgh) to the Falls of Roanoke, or as they named the rapids, Blandina, above and near the present city of Halifax, North Carolina, and not far above the point on that river reached by Raleigh's colonists, sixty-five years before. This discovery was deemed of such importance as to occasion, in the year following, the publication in London of a narrative of the journey. In 1652 Colonel William Clayborne, Captain Henry Fleet, and their associates, were authorized by the Assembly to make discoveries, "and take up lands by pattents and enjoy benefits and trades as they shall find out in places where no English have ever been and discovered." The same day "the like order is granted to Major Abra Wood and his associates
In the following year, the Assembly authorized any persons "to discover the Mountains, Provided they go with a considerable partie and strength, both of men and ammunition." ("Oldmixon's British Empire in America," Vol. I, p. 382.) No farther attempt at exploration seems to have been made until the year 1669, when John Lederer, a German Surgeon, commissioned by Governor Berkeley to make discoveries, on March 9th, with three Indians, left the Falls of Pemencock (Pamunky) on York River, from an Indian village called Schickehaniniprobably the old Indian town near the now noted "White House." (Jefferson, 1751.) The next day he passed through  the marshy grounds between the Pamunky and head-waters of the Matenenenhah (Mattepony), in the present King William County, and crossed the Pamunky at its head (In 1656), formed by the confluence of the North and South Anna Rivers, in Hanover County. (The peninsula between these two rivers he mentions bears the name of Tottopottemen, a great Indian king, slain in battle for the whites against their Indian enemies.) Continuing along the South Anna River, on the 13th he reached the first spring of the Pamunky (A small creek that still bears this name), a head of the South Anna, near the present Gordonsville. On the 14th he discovered from a high hill (Southwest mountain in Orange County), the "Apelatean Mountains (Blue Ridge) to the west. Next day, the 15th, they passed over the South Branch of the Rappahannock, or Rapid Anne River (In Orange County), and on the 17th reached the Blue Ridge, in the present county of Madison. He ascended to the top of the mountain and found it very cold, with much snow, noticed the high mountain ranges westward and the Atlantic Ocean southeastward; descended and returned by the course he went out.
On the 20th of May, 1670, Lederer began his second expedition, in company with one Major Harris (Major William Harris of the Regiment of Charles City and Henrico Counties), twenty Christian horsemen and five Indians. They marched from the Falls of James River to the Monakin (Tuscarora) village, probably the same is marked on Fry and Jefferson's Map of 1751*, on James River, in the present county of Cumberland, and continued westward one hundred miles farther to what he calls "the south branch of James River," and which "Major Harris vainly supposed to be an arm of the Lake of Canada," as he observed it ran  northward, "and was inclined to erect a pillar in memory of the Discovery." It seems evident from the description, distance given and his map, that they had reached the James River, at its bend to the north, a few miles east from the the present city of Lynchburg, in Campbell County. Here he parted from his company, excepting one Susquehanna Indian, and then went south to the Roanoke, to the Island and town of Akenatzi (On "Fry and Jefferson's" Map the Occoneachy is laid down at the junction of the Staunton (Roanoke) and Dan Rivers, in the present Mecklenburg County. See also "Byrd's Journey to the Land of Eden." Richmond, 1866, p. 5) where he was well received. Here he met four strange Indians, survivors of fifty who had come, Lederer says, "from some land by the Sea to the northwest," (probably the great Lakes.) He calls them Rickahickans and states that "they were treacherously killed in the night by the Indians of Akenatzi." He conjectured that these strange Indians came from an arm or bay of the Sea of California, which he supposed stretched up into the continent. From Akenatzi he journeyed southward into Carolina and thence returned to Akamatuch.
[*Fry and Jefferson's Map, 1755 unavailable at this time.]
These strange Indians, or Rickahickans, doubtless were fugitives of the tribe known as Eries, or the Nation of the Cat, whose country was on the south shore of Lake Erie. They were conquered and destroyed as a nation by the Iroquois in 16545.
The Fathers call the tribe Riguehronnous, or those of the Cat Nation. (Jesuit Relations," 1660, p. 7, Vol. III. Id., 1661, p. 29.) The considerable number of the defeated Eries or Rickahickans appear to have reached Virginia in 1655, about which time the Iroquois completed their conquest. (See Charlevoix's "History of New France," Vol. II, P. 266 and note. Parkmans's "Jesuits in America," pp. 438-441.) A  special law was passed to remove by force "the new-come western and inland Indians drawn from the Mountaines and lately sett downe near the falls of James River to the number of six or seven hundred." (Hening, p. 402.)
Captain Edward Hill, at the head of 100 men, assisted by Tottopottemen, King of the Pomukies, with 100 warriors, attacked the Rickahickans. The allies were defeated, Tottopottemen slain. Captain Hill was cashiered for his conduct and his estate charged with the cost of procuring a peace with the Rickahickans. It is probable that with the fugitive Eries were some of the Neutres and Hurons, kindred tribes, and also routed by the Iroquois. (Hening, p. 423, Burke's "History of Virginia," Vol. II, pp. 104-107. See also Galletin, in "Transactions of the American Antiquarian Society," Vol. II, p. 73. Evan's "Analysis," 1755, p. 13.)
On August 30th of the same year, Lederer again set out, in company with Captain Collet, nine Englishmen and five Indians. They first went to the Falls of Rappahannock, near the present Fredericksburg; next day they passed the junction of the Rapid Anna, in Culpepper County, and keeping along the north side of the Rappahannock, on the 26th reached the Blue Ridge, in the present county of Rappahannock; there they ascended the summit of the mountain, observed and noted the great mountain range east and west. The cold prevented them from proceeding any farther, and they returned, having penetrated much farther northwestward than any one previously. Inconsiderable as the distance may now seem, Lederer was convinced those persons were in error who supposed it but eight or ten days' journey from the Atlantic to the Indian Ocean, and that an arm or bay of the Sea of California extended up into the country. Nor were there to be found on the west of the mountains large rivers, like  those on the east. His opinions evidently were changed by the information obtained from the unfortunate stranger or Erie Indians.
In the year 1671, under authority of Governor Berkeley, a commission was granted by Major-General Abrahame Wood, "for ye finding out of the ebbing and flowing of ye water behind the mountains in order to the Discovery of the South Sea." Accordingly, Thomas Batts, Thomas Woods and Robert Fallam, with Jack Nesan, servant, and Perecute, chief of the Appomattox Indians, as guide, left the town of Appomattox, near where Petersburgh now stands, on the first day of September, 1671, and travelling westward, on the 4th arrived at the "Sapong Town," in the present county of Charlotte, near the little Roanoke River; there they were joined by seven Appomattox Indians and a Sapon also, as a guide, and by nightfall of the day following, the 5th, they reached the "Hanohaski" (Akenatzi?) Indian town, on an island in the Sapon River, (evidently the Long Island in the Roanoke, opposite the mouth of Seneca Creek, in Campbell County). On the next day they recommenced their Journey, leaving Thomas Woods at the Indian town "dangerously sick."
On the 7th they came in sight of the mountains (the Blue Ridge, in Bedford County), on the 8th and 9th they passed along the Roanoke River and over the Blue Ridge. Arriving at a town of the Totero Indians "encircled about with mountains (probably near the site of Salem in Roanoke County), they remained three days, resting. On the 12th they "set forward afoot leaving their horses at the Totero town, and travelling south and north, as the path went, over several high mountains and deep, descending valleys. Several times crossing the Roanoke River, by four o'clock in the afternoon, Perecute's ague and their own weariness made them encamp  "by the side of the Roanoke, very near the head thereof, at the foot of a very high peat mountain." (Probably the North Mountain, in the county of Montgomery.)
On the 13th they ascended a very high and steep mountain (probably Craig's Creek Mountain, in Craig County) and continuing a northwest course over mountains (evidently Potts' and Peters'. Mountains) and "many small streams and rich meadows with grass above a man's hight," they came to a very steep descent, where they found a great current that emptied itself, as they supposed, into the great river "Nuthuardly;" they encamped in the evening by the side of this "great current" (probably the Greenbrier River). On the 14th, their path continued north by west (in the present County of Greenbrier); they saw" to the southwest a curious prospect of hills like waves," and "Mr. Batts supposed he saw houses, but Mr. Fallam rather took them to be white cliffs," as doubtless they were the limestone cliffs on New River; "they marched about twenty miles this day."
On the 15th "they came to a large current, it emptied itself W. and by N. as they supposed into a great river," (probably the Meadow or main fork of the Gauley River between the counties of Nicholas and Fayette). On the 16th they travelled ten miles, when "they had sight of a curious river like the Thames at Chelsea, but had a fall that made a great noise; its course was North and they supposed ran west about certain pleasant mountains which they saw to the westward." Here they found Indian fields with cornstalks in them and understood afterward three Mohetans (Monakens or Tuscaroras) had lived there not long before. They found the river broad as the Thames at Wapping. They supposed by the marks that it flowed there about three feet, but ebbed very slowly. (Clayton, 1688. Force's Tracts, Vol. III, p. 20.)
 On the 17th they proclaimed the King in these words: "Long live King Charles ye 2d King of England Scotland France Ireland and Virginia and all the teritory thereunto belonging; deffender of ye faith." Guns were fired and with a pair of marking irons they marked trees "1st C R" for his Sacred Majesty; "2d W B" for the governor; "3d A W" for the Major-General, Abrahame Wood; another for Perecute, and also for the rest of the company.
They had reached the Kanawha at the Great Falls, eighty miles from the Ohio River. On their return to the town of the Toteros they found a Mohetan (Tuscarora) Indian, who was sent to inquire the object of their journey; satisfying him with a little powder, he informed them they had been from the mountains half way to that town, and at the next town beyond there was a level plain with abundance of salt. (This description applies correctly to the locality, as the Falls are about half way by the road from Sewall's mountain to the Salines, above Charleston, where there are wide river bottoms.)
They left the Toteros on the 21st and on the 24th reached the Hanahaskis (Long Island) where they found Mr. Woods was dead and buried. Continuing homeward by the Sapong town and the Appomattox town they arrived safe at Fort Henry on the 1st of October. This journey is remarkable for being the very earliest exploration, by the English, to the waters of the Ohio, and about the same time of the discovery of that stream claimed by La Salle at the Falls of the Ohio.
It has been incorrectly noticed by various authors: Beverley's. "History of Virginia, 1722," p. 62. Burke's ditto, as in Beverley. In Coxe's "Carolina, Florida and the River Mississippi," published in 1722, it is stated, p. 120, that Colonel Wood, inhabiting at the Falls of James River from the year 1654 to 1664, discovered at several times several branches  of the great rivers Ohio, and Meschacehe, "and further that he was possessed, about twenty years ago, of the Journal of Mr. Needham, employed by the aforesaid Colonel." Campbell's "Virginia," pp. 268, 9. See also "State of the British Colonies in North America, 1755," p. 118.
The Kanawha was first known to the whites as "Wood's River," so called for Colonel Abrahame Wood, the originator of the expedition which discovered it. ("Contest in America, by an impartial hand," London, 1757, p. 176.) On Fry and Jefferson's Map of Virginia of 1751 it is marked "Great Kenhaway," called also "Wood's River" and "New River," North American Review, January, 1839. Parkman's "Discovery of the Great West." Introduction, p. 20, "The Journal and Relation of a new Discovery made behind the Apuleian Mountains, to the West of Virginia Plantations." General Papers, State Paper Office, 1 [or I], 21. "New York Colonial History," Vol. III, p. 193.
No further attempt at discovery or exploration westward was made for many years, although away at the north, in 1677, Wentworth Greenhalgh journeyed westward from Albany to the Seneca villages, near the Genesee River. Narrated in the "New York Colonial History," Vol. III, p. 250. In 1709, and for several years subsequent, it was not known that the Potomac River flowed through the Blue Ridge. (Byrd MSS., Vol. II, p. 125. Richmond, 1866.)
In August, 1716, Governor Spotswood, of Virginia, with a company of about fifty persons, gentlemen, rangers, Indians and servants, made his famous transmontane expedition of discovery.
Proceeding from Williamsburgh to Germantown, ten miles below the Falls of Rappahannock (the present Fredericksburgh), and thence by easy stages, with much feasting and parade, on the thirty-sixth day the party reached the summit  of the Appalachian Mountains (Blue Ridge), at the pass now known as the "Swift's Run Gap," in the counties of Madison and Rockingham, thence they descended to the Shenandoah River, which they named the "Euphrates;" crossed it, returned, and encamped on the right bank, at "Spotswood Camp," named for the Governor. Returning, they arrived at home on the 17th of September, after an absence of sixteen weeks, Four years afterwards the new county of Spotsylvania was formed, with the Shenandoah for its western boundary. (Journal of John Fontaine, in the "Memoirs of a Huguenot Family," New York, 1872. Jones' "Present State of Virginia," 1724, p. 14. Campbell's "History of Virginia," 1860, p. 387. Hening's "Statutes of Virginia," Vol. IV, p. 77.)
Colonel William Byrd, one of the most intelligent and accomplished men in Virginia, wrote in 1729 that "we hardly know anything of the Apalatean mountains that are no where above two hundred and fifty miles from the sea," (Burke's "History of Virginia," Vol. III, p. 114.) and farther "that the Sources of the Potomac, Roanoke and even of the Shenandoah are unknown to the Virginian authorities; although woodsmen tell them they head in the same mountains with a branch of Mississippi." Colonel Byrd calls this "conjectured Geography." (Byrd's "Virginia," Vol. I, p. 137, Richmond, 1866.)
In 1728 Colonel Wm. Byrd and the Commissioners of Virginia and North Carolina surveyed the dividing line between these two provinces from Currituck Inlet, on the Atlantic, westward in a straight line two hundred and forty-one miles to Peter's Creek, in the present county of Patrick. Twenty-one years later, in 1749, Joshua Fry and Peter Jefferson, with the Commissioners of North Carolina, surveyed the line ninety miles further, to "Steep Rock Creek, the White Top or Laurel Fork, of Holston River, in the present county of Grayson, and in 1779 Dr. Thomas Walker and Daniel Smith  continued the survey of the line from Steep Rock Creek to the Tennessee River. The boundary-line between the States of Kentucky and Tennessee, from the Tennessee River to the Mississippi, was run in 1819. ("History of the Dividing Line," in Byrd, Vol. I.)
In the report made in August, 1737, of the "Proceedings of the Commissioners to Lay out the Bounds of the Northern Neck" (Fry and Jefferson's Map of Virginia. "Report of Survey." Hening's "Statutes," Vol. IX, p. 562.) of Virginia, or Lord Fairfax's Grant, it appears that they employed Colonel Wm. Mayo, who, at the head of a party of surveyors, in 1736, explored and surveyed the Cohongoronta, or Potomac, up to its head spring, in a ridge of the Alleghenies, at the southwest point of the boundary between Virginia and Maryland. Near it they found waters flowing northward into the Monongahela River, the southern fork of the upper Ohio. At that point, "the spring head of the Potomac, the Fairfax Stone was placed by the Commissioners at a subsequent survey in 1746." (Byrd, Vol. II. Mayo's Map, 173. Falkner's Report, in Kercheral's "History of the Valley of Virginia.")
The first of our American race who seem to have penetrated the canebrakes of what has since been termed Kentucky, were Dr. Walker and Christopher Gist, both of Virginia, and James Smith, of Pennsylvania. Thomas Walker was born in King and Queen County, Virginia, in 1710. He studied medicine and became a skilful physician. His home was at Castle Hill, Albemarle County. He was an extensive land speculator. In 1748 he went on a tour of discovery down the Holston. In the month of March, 1750, in company with five others, he started upon a trip to explore the country west of the back settlements of Virginia. Before his return he penetrated far into the present State of  Kentucky. His party in April erected a small cabin in what is now Knox County, the first one probably ever built by an American within the limits of that State."Walker's Settlement" is noted on some of the old maps. He died at Castle Hill, in 1794. He ranked high in Virginia, as is proved by his frequent appointments under that colony. He was with the Virginia troops at the defeat of Braddock, in 1755, of which he gave a graphic description to Judge Yeates, in August, 1776, on the battle-field. He was a member of the Virginia Assembly in 1758. In 1768, Commissioner from Virginia at the Treaty held at Fort Stanwix with the Indians of the Six Nations. In 1769 he was appointed, with Colonel Andrew Lewis, Commissioner, relative to settling a boundary line with the Cherokees. He was at the head of the Committee of Louisa County, May 8, 1775; also member of the Virginia Committee of Safety, and Delegate to the Convention of Virginia, 177576, and to the House of Burgesses, in 1775.
To reconcile the conflicting statements relative to the precise year of the first visit of Dr. Thomas Walker to the eastern part of Kentucky is a difficult but not hopeless task. It appears that in 1747 Dr. Walker, with a small party, Colonel James Wood, Colonel James Pattin, Captain Charles Campbell, and others, having large grants of land to the west of the mountains, explored as far as Powell's Valley, in the present Lee County, southwestern Virginia, near the great Laurel Ridge of the Alleghenies, which he named the Cumberland.
Misled by information as to the distance of the Ohio River and the correct course to be taken to reach it expeditiously, they turned northeastwardly and came to the heads of the Totery or Big Sandy River, in Buchanan County, which they named Frederick's River, after, the Prince of Wales, (now Russell's  Fork). Continuing the same course, they struck on the next Fork, which they named Louisa, a designation it still retains; (on Evans' Map of 1755 it is made to flow to the Kanawha) passing thence eastward, after a toilsome journey along the foot of the mountain range and stream, in Giles and Bland Counties, called Walker's, to the New River, and thence to Albemarle County.
Lewis Evans, in his "Analysis of a Map of the Middle Colonies of 1755," says: "As for the branches of the Ohio, which head in the New Virginia, I am particularly obliged to Mr. Thomas Walker for the intelligence of what names they bear and what rivers they fall into northward and westward;" and at page 29 he mentions Louisa as a branch of the Kanawha, and so places it on the accompanying map.
The Valley of the Ohio remained unexplored and almost unknown for near two centuries after the discovery of America in 1492. ("Jesuit Relations," 1640.)
The Spaniard, Hernando De Soto, reached the Mississippi in 1541, pausing with his forces on the eastern bank of the mighty stream but a few days, to build boats to cross it and continue westward in his fruitless search for a land abounding in gold and silver. ("Histoire de la Colonie Francaise," 1866.) Jean Nicollet was the first to reach the waters of the upper Mississippi. In 1639 he ascended the Ottawa from the St. Lawrence (Charlevoix.), thence, across Lake Huron and through the Straits of Mackinaw to Green Bay, and up the Fox River to the portage across the Wisconsin River, but no further. The route by the Ottawa was usually taken by the French missionaries and fur traders, until 1669-70, when they first traversed Lake Erie by its northern shore and thence by the Detroit River to Lake Huron.
 The Ohio, the "Beautiful River" of the Iroquois, was discovered by Robert Cavalierthe Sieur de la Sallein 1670-71. He was a native of Rouen, France; came to Canada and engaged in the fur trade. Being an ardent and indefatigable explorer and ambitious to discover new countries, he was authorized by Talon, the Intendant (Justice) of Canada, to explore southwest and south for the discovery of a passage to the South Sea. Among the Iroquois near Lake Ontario, in the present Western New York, he found a Shawnee prisoner who informed him of the Ohio.
Procuring a guide from the Onondagas, he proceeded to the Allegheny River and descended it and the Ohio as far as the Falls, at the site of the present city of Louisville, Kentucky. (Gravier.) Then, deserted by his men, he returned through the forests to Canada, subsisting on game and roots, and befriended by the Indians he met on his way. (Ferland.) Three years later (1673) Marquette and Joliet readied the Mississippi by way of the Fox and Wisconsin rivers. (La Salle.) They descended it as far as the mouth of the Arkansas and then returned. (Charlevoix.) They saw the Ohio at its junction with the great river and noted it on their map and in their journal as the Oubaskison (Wabash), coming from the country inhabited by the Chouonans (Shawnese) in great numbers.
In 1682 La Salle made his great voyage of discovery, descending the Mississippi from the Illinois to its mouth; on his way he remained a short time at the mouth of the Ohio, which was noted as being more than five hundred leagues in length, and the river by which the war parties of the Iroquois descended to make war against the Southern Nations.
 On the shore of the Gulf of Mexico La Salle, with great ceremony, proclaimed possession taken for Louis XIV of all the country watered by the Mississippi, St. Louis, Ohio, Allegheny, and their tributaries. For more than fifty years after its discovery by La Salle, the Ohio above the Wabash was unavailable to the French as a route to the Mississippi, owing to the hostility of the Iroquois, in whose country it had its source.
Early in the eighteenth century emigrants from Canada came by way of the Lakes to the head of Lake Michigan, and thence to the Illinois and Mississippi, or by the Maumee and Wabash, forming settlements along these rivers and also at Detroit and its neighborhood, while the Ohio remained still in an unknown wilderness and of minor importance. As late as 1750 to 1756 it was considered by the French authorities as a tributary of the Wabash, and it is so mentioned in official documents and laid down on most of their maps.
In 1726, by consent of the Iroquois, the French reconstructed the fort at Niagara, which they had abandoned in 1688. By 1728-9 the Shawanese were settled along the Allegheny, to which region they were drawn chiefly by the measures adopted by the Marquis Vaudreuil in 1724.
The way being now open, in 1729 M. de Lery, Chief Engineer of Canada, with a detachment of troops, crossed from Lake Erie to the Chautauqua Lake and thence to the Conewango Creek and the Allegheny River, descending it and the Ohio. They made a careful topographical survey of the course of the rivers, with observations of the latitude, longitude and distances as far as the Great Miami.
The French, down to the surrender of Canada to the British, in 1763, derived their right against that of the Iroquois to the Ohio country, asserting it to be theirs by virtue of its discovery by La Salle, and of their resorting to it when no other  Indians occupied it but their allies, the Shawanese, with whom the Iroquois were at war. The latter tribe claimed it by reason of their conquest of the Shawanese, and the English claimed that it was ceded to them by the Six Nations at the Treaty of Lancaster, 1744. It is remarkable, however, that the French never made any attempts to form settlements on the Ohio; confining themselves to the Wabash, Illinois, Mississippi and Detroit.
In 1753 Forts Presque Isle (Erie, Pennsylvania) and Le Boeuf (now Waterford, Erie County, Pennsylvania) were erected.
In 1754 Forts Franklin (at Venango, now Franklin) and Du Quesne (now Pittsburgh) were built, and in 1756 the erection of Fort Massac (now in Massac County, Illinois) completed the chain of forts deemed essential by French policy for the connection of Canada and Louisiana and the maintenance of possession of the Valley of the Ohio.
The steady increase of the English settlements towards the Alleghenies, the great numbers of their traders throughout the country west of the mountains, and, above all, the immense land grants on the waters of the Ohio by the British King and the Council of Virginia, incited the French to vigorous measures. Accordingly, Captain Céleron de Bienville was dispatched by Governor de la Galissonnière, in 1749, to expel the English traders and take military possession of the Ohio country. With a detachment of two hundred soldiers, and thirty Indians he proceeded, by way of Chautauqua Lake, and the Conewango Creek, to its junction with the Allegheny or Ohio as he called it. There he buried a leaden plate, on the 29th of July, with a suitable inscription, as a monument of having retaken possession of the said river Ohio and branches and the lands thereon. This plate was stolen by the Seneca Indians, probably directly after its deposit, and sent to Colonel  William Johnson. (Governor Clinton's letter to Governor Hamilton. ["New York Colonial History," Vol. VI.]) Letter of Governor Clinton to Board of Trade, and facsimile of the plate, with its "devilish writing," as the Indian chief called it, who took it to Colonel Johnson.
Céleron, with his flotilla, proceeded down the river, depositing plates at different points, generally at the mouths of streams emptying into the main river. The inscriptions on the plates were all alike, except the name of the place and date of deposit. A number of them were found in after-years; one, at the confluence of the Allegheny, Monongahela and Ohio, at Pittsburgh, was dated, August 3, 1749, at the "Three Rivers." (MSS. copy of plate by Governor Pownall in my possession.) Another was found in 1798 near Marietta, at the mouth of the Muskingum. It bore date August 6, 1749, at the entrance of the river Yenangue."(Hildreth's "Pioneer.") The last discovered was at the mouth of the Great Kanawha, near Point Pleasant, in April, 1846." It was dated August 18, 1749, at the entrance of the river Chinodahichatha. (See facsimile and account of in the "History of Western Virginia," by de Hass, 1851, p. 5o). (See "Fort Pitt" for complete history.) On his way down Céleron encamped for a few days at Logstown, eighteen miles below Pittsburgh, from which he expelled the English traders, by whom he sent letters to Governor Hamilton of Pennsylvania, dated the 6th and 10th of August, and explained the object of his mission. ("Colonial Records.")
In 1750 and 1751 Christopher Gist, the Agent of the Ohio Company of Virginia, explored the greater portion of the region now included within the boundaries of the States of Ohio, Kentucky and West Virginia, and parts of Western Maryland and Southwestern Pennsylvania. These explorations  were the earliest made, so far west, for the single object of examining the country, as they are the first also of which a regular journal was kept. The result of Gist's journeys, however, was not made known generally, being in the interest of a great Land Company; but in 1776 the Journal of 1750 was published by Governor Pownall, in London, in the Appendix to his "Topographical Description of North America." At that time but few copies of that work could have found their way to America, and at the close of the Revolutionary War it seemed to have become comparatively scarce and is now but little known. The second Journal has never before been printed here or elsewhere. The third, 1753, was printed for James Mease, by the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. [Pennsylvania crossed out and "Mass." hand written underneath.]
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