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Historic Diaries: Marsh, 1834

Leaving Phelps' Trading Post

Editor's Note:

Although Marsh was surely happy see his enforced procrastination at Phelps' trading post come to an end, his next stop some miles upriver was equally uncongenial.


The canoe trip was against the current from Phelps' post, near modern Keokuk, Iowa (map), to the site of modern Ottumwa, where Appanoose's village lay.


Mr. Fretwell is unidentified. He may be the Samuel Fretwell listed in the 1830 census of Michigan Territory as living in Iowa Co. A large family of that name had migrated from Virginia through Kentucky into Missouri by the time of Marsh's visit.




[July] 24th <>


Hired an Indian Che-moak-a-pim, Big-potatoe, to carry me to Appenooces village. Started about 9 o'clock A.M. in a canoe, himself, wife and child, she being very sick.


Passed up the river 5 or 6 miles and camped about middle of the P.M. at a Mr. Harrisons. Soon one of the Indians went and traded off his blanket for whiskey and they drank and carroused all night. Their carousing, the dogs, and the people of the house kept an uproar all night so that I was not conscious of sleeping at all.


Never before have I met with people so untutored, so destitute of good breeding and regard to common civility, particularly as it respects the use of profane language, in my life.


... Surely if there is a righteous God he will recompense such an iniquitous practice as that of trafficking in ardent spirits with Indians. Avarice prompts wicked men to sell this poisonous drug, while it impoverishes the poor Indian, affords the white man but a paltry profit: - and when compared with the injury done is not worthy [of] being mentioned.


In the evening crossed over the river to Mr. Fretwells, conversed with Mrs. F. a short time and directed her attention particularly to the proper training up of her children and personal religion. Soon Mr. F. returned and I purchased of him a small supply of provisions and recrossed the river.


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