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Historic Diaries: Marsh, 1834

A Trader's Morality

Editor's Note:

"Mr. R." was trader Wallace Rowan, at whose shanty Rev. Marsh had passed the night. For more about him see "Madison's Fur Traders" at Odd Wisconsin and Daniel Durrie's History of Madison.


Tues. [Sept] 16th


Early in the morn[ing] set out in company with the mail carrier, a Mr. Smith - a dutchman, and Mr. R., for the Portage.


Most of our way was through Prairies, some of them very fine, and the soil apparently fertile, yet poorly watered. We rode nearly 20 miles without finding any water, but as we drew near the portage found it abundan[t], with swamps which are almost impassible.


As we rode along I conversed much with Mr. R. but his mind appeared to be full of absurd and unscriptural notions respecting religion etc. And he fully justified himself in selling whiskey to the Indns. No reasoning or arguments which I could use would convince him of his error, because avarice blinds his eyes.


Before reaching the Portage it began to rain, but we reached there before 4 o'clock P.M. Was very kindly received by Dr. Mr. Dougall and his lady. Found them in affliction having buried a son in my absence.


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