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Historic Diaries: Marsh, 1834

On the Road Again

Editor's Note:

Another lovely description of the native midwestern prairies, as they appeared before white settlers had occupied and transplanted non-native crops to them. The cornfields belonged to outlying families of Powesheik's band, whose main village was nearby.

Wed [Aug] 27th

Set out about 7 o'clock with a lad named Joseph Gore on my tour. We had not traveled far before we found that Mr Le Clair, the interpreter, had directed us wrong. We soon turned back after having traveled 2 or 3 miles out of our way. After we found the trail and ascended the Bluff, very soon we entered a vast prairie which continued without interruption, excepting in one instance we passed through a hollow, and through which a small brook of excellent water, ran to the Red Cedar river, a distance of about 40 miles. Sometimes we passed near groves of trees, and most of the time could see timber around; at others nothing scarcely was discernible but sky and land as far as the eye could reach.

At the distance of 4 or 5 miles from the river we ascended a high ridge from which the could be distinctly seen, and then descended into a deep valley which appeared all a sandy plain, as though it might have been the bed of a river or lake.

Seeing no appearance of any human beings we traveled on until we came to the river, and it was now after dark, so that the horses could with difficulty keep the trail and the moschetoes were very thick, and we began to think of camping but concluded to take another trail, which soon brought us to the cornfields and where we found a number of families harvesting corn. Thus a gracious providence conducted us to the habitation of men, where we were kindly received.

As soon as we had turned our horses out some buffalo meat and tallow, which is a great rarity with Indians, were set before us. After this I lay down to rest very quietly, excepting some annoyance from the moschetoes, and in the morn felt refreshed and rested from the fatigue of the previous day.

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