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Historic Diaries: Marsh, 1834

From Powesheik to Keokuk

Editor's Note:

By this point, Rev. Marsh was no longer wasting time trying to find sympathetic allies among the Fox and Sauk. Though he lingered hopefully for two weeks at Appenoose's village in July, he here immediately departs from Powesheik's when spurned, and hardly slows down when passing through Wapello's.


Not transcribed at the left is an anecdote about an Indian husband's brutality toward his wife, and Marsh's reflections on Sauk and Fox judicial conventions.


Fri. [Aug.] 29th


Rose early and went down upon the bank of the river in order to have a season of devotion. Whilst there I heard again the song of a drunken party coming up the river. Soon I returned and found they had been riding our horses during the night, having taken them without liberty. I made a complaint to the Chief P. but he had also drank and he would do nothing about it, and besides was very impudent in his language, saying that I had no business there, etc. Wishing doubtless for a drunken frolic and money to purchase liquor, he wanted to have me give one of his young men 2 dollars to guide me to the Ke-o-kuk village, when the evening before one had agreed to go for one dollar but now he was off drinking and could not be found.


After I had left his lodge and was preparing to start, he came out after me and still wished to know if I did not want a guide. But I gave him the same answer as before, however a gracious providence kindly furnished us with a guide a part of the way and the rest we found no difficulty in following the trail. Leaving the village with a sorrowful heart to see how deeply its miserable inhabitants were sunken in degradation and superstition, and spiritual darkness, and beseeching God to have mercy I followed my guide down the river, passing some cornfields where they were harvesting, etc. I crossed the river by fording, and found the current strong and the water in the deepest places came up to the mid-sides of the horses...


The Red Cedar river, Mus-qua-aw-que-ke-we, is a very fine rapid stream, the current not less than 5 or 5 miles per hour. It is 25 or 30 rods wide and the water clear and good, banks sandy and upon the western side high and bold. We soon entered an extensive prairie, Mus-ko-ta, and soon came to a fine spring of water. After this I saw no water suitable to drink until I reached the Iowa r., a distance of 20 or 25 miles...


Wah-pel-law's village is delightfully situated upon the banks of the Mak-o-to-se-ke-way, Iowa river, upwards of 20 miles from its mouth. There were but few lodges and those in a miserable state generally to appearance and irregularly situated, but ther appeared more cleanly within than I anticipated at first sight. I dismounted and entered one and conversed a short time with an old man. Shortly others came in, one having a pistol finely studded with brass nails, and all anxious to know where we were going.


Our way to Ke-o-kuck's village, which was 8 or 10 miles distant, lay thro a large high prairie intersected by one small brook only, on the banks of which grew some trees. As I passed along having the river on the left and the prairie on the right, extending almost as far as I could see, I could not but admire the beautifulness of the prospect, as the sun was now fast going [down] and shed a mellowing brightness over everything around, whilst all was calm and still in the element as a summer eve.

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