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Historic Diaries: Marsh, 1834

Back Through the Prairie

Editor's Note:

Without an interpreter or enough provisions to stay at Appenoose's village and wait for the chief, the two missionaries headed back down the trail to the nearest trading post, two day's journey away.

The scarcity of game to which Marsh refers was perhaps the result of increased human populations. Between 1810 and 1830 the U.S. government forced as many Indian nations as possible west of the Mississippi. Within the previous generation, hundreds of Sauk, Fox, and Potawatomi hunters who had formerly lived in Wisconsin and Illinois had been pushed into southeastern Iowa. It's not unlikely that their hunting had exterminated much of the game within easy reach of their settlements.

[July] 14th. Mon.

Weather warm. Early in the morn. we made preparations for leaving Appenoore’s village. About 9 o’clock we swam the horses across the river and started.

Most of the a.m. were travelling upon prairies. Some of them appeared very fine and as though they might make excellent farms and afford abundant pastures for vast herds of cattle. Upon these fertile plains, some of them extending as far almost as the eye could reach, no investment has ever been raised to break the soil or elicit from its bosom its hidden treasures, but for ages and generations has been the haunt of the buffalo and deer; but near none of the former and few of the latter remain to range these fields so abundant in grass and herbage.

Was engaged most of the day, as I rode along with scarcely anything to divert my mind of that was to be seen around, in reflection upon the best mode of bringing the various subjects which I wished to present before the Indians. One was the plan of redemption through Jesus Christ and another the creation, fall etc etc.

At evening we encamped in a kind of oak opening near a small creek. During the night were visited with rain, but not severe. Rested but little.

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