A Report on Travels Through the Creek Country, 1791

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Date May 2, 1791
Author Name Caleb Swan (primary) Location: Philadelphia
Recipient Name [not available]
Summary Document, report describes the Creek country, people, culture, and government. Refers to horse theft and trials.
Document Format Copy of document
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Content Notes [not available]
Related Persons/Groups Caleb Swan; Brigr Generl McGillivray; Chiefs and Warriors of the Creek Nation; Creeks; Cossades; Alabamas; Captain Smith [of schooner]; Captain Burbeck; Dr. Charles Caxton Howard; Mr Marbury; Jack Kinnard's Negroes; Seminolies; Mad Dog, King of the Tuckabatches; Charles Weatherford; Secretary of War; Ufalas; Oakfuskies; Allens [Indian Trader]; Reved Mr. Morses; Upper Creeks; Alabama River; Chactaws; Rowen; Muscogies; Creek Indians; Florida and Appalachian Indians; Seminoles; Dr. Harrison; Natches or Sunset Indians; Shawanese; Towannas; Jack Kinnard; Don Juan Nepomacena De Quesada; James Allen; Bully; Oglethorpe; Cherokees; Upper Creeks; Lower Creeks; Chactaws; Chickasaws; Cherokees; Hallowing King; White Lieutenant; Mad-Dog King; Old Tallassie King; Opilth Mico; Dog Warrior; Red Shoes; Stentsacco Cheota; Colonel Brown; Mr. Alexander.;
Related Places Philadelphia; New York; St. Marys River; Flint River; United States; Great White Town; Chathoose River; Coweta district; Little Tallassie; Natches; Tuckabatches; Tensace; West Floridia; Alabama River; Cumberland Island; Captain Burnbecks post; East Florida; Spanish Creek; Alabama River; Chehaw towns; Flint River; Chattahoosee River; Cussitah and Cowetas Towns; Tallapoosie River; Tuckabatches; Little Tallasie; Tuskeegee town; Natchez Village; district of the Hillabes; Chatahoosa River; Cupitahs; Cowetas; Oakmulgee Riber; Chatahoosee Riber; Oconee; Rock Landing; Great Okafanoka Swamp; East Florida; Alabala River; Coosa or Coosahatchee River; Little Tallapie; Bay of Mobile; Mexico; Canada; Cowetas; Oak Mulgee River; Georgia; Tallapoosie River; Coosa River; Alabama River; Louisiana; Tallapoosie River; Appalachiacola Riber; Micasukee; Coseta Town; Cussitah Town; Michasukee Village; St Augustine; Pensacola; St Marks; Mobile; South Carolina; Savannah; Florida; Fort Alabamous; Little Tallasie; Upper Nfalas; Abbacoochees; Natchez; Coosas; Oteo'oche'enas; Pinclatchees; Pocuntu'lla'ha'ssa; Weokees; Little Tallassie; Tuskeegees; Coosades; Alabamas; Tawassa; Ochchoys; Pawacta; Autoba; Ahhoba; Big Wetumpkies; Little Wetumpties; Wocksoy Ochees; Coosa River; Soosa River; Tallapoosie River; Hillabees; Hillabee; Killeego; Quatchoys; Stakagulgas; Waccokoys; Tallapoosie Riber; Tuckabatchy Telhasee; Totakaga; New York; Chullayacpauley; Toguspogus; Oakfuskee; Little Ufalas; Big Ufalas; Toghatches; Tuckabatches; Big Tallasoie; Half-way-house; Chewaulays; Cooshatches; Coolamies; Shawanee Sawannas; Kehulkee; Mucklapes; Chattahoosee River; Chelucco Ninny; Chattahoosee; Hohtatoga; Cowetas; Cupitahs; Challagatska; broken arrow; Euchees; Hitchatees; Pallachuola; Chewockala; Little Chehaus; Big Chahaus; Chatahoosa River; Flint River; Botany Bay.;
Keywords Letter of Instruction; Treaty; Horse; Pack Horse; Licenses; Trial;
Key Phrases nation; no disaster happened; voyage ; journey by land through the country; occasioned me to us the authority you were pleased to give me; arrived safe at the first Indian villages; latter part of September; found myself among these people; my inclination; my interest; to be come as useful as possible to the Great Chief; I endeavored to impress on the Jealous Minds of the Indians in general that the White people of the United States were sincere and candid in all their overtures of peace and friendship; I was pledged to theme for the truth of what I had told them; of which their friends had been witness of at the great White Town; viewed me; in the light of a spy; uniform declaration to the contrary; persevering attention to his person; flattered that all his suspicions were removed; alteration in his conduct towards me; reason to believe that I gained his confidence effectual; I found from experiment; to learn the language and to pronounce it well must be a task of several youthful years; vocabulary of their principals words; some familiar sentences; directed my enquiries; to objects contained in your letter; making notes; found myself watched with an eye of jealousy; therefore thought it prudent to keep them out of sight; even f rom my only friend Mr McGillivray; going into the country; down at the southern corner of it; traveling; westward; route through all the districts and tribes of the upper Creeks; together with a variety of jaunts and visits to different towns and villages of the Coosades and Alabamas; following sheets contain the result of my observations during the excursion; offering to you with a hope that they contain such information with respect to the Natives and the fine country the possess as my be pleasing as well as interesting and useful to government; to be attached to the Indians; manner of living; sacrificing all the social virtues to the disgusting habits of the savage barbarism; custom with McGillivray to spend his winters on the sea Coast among the Spaniards, leaving his wife, servants, and horses, at a plantation he has near Tensaee, within the border of West Florida; returning to pass his summers in the nation. Could not remain in the country through the winter without suffering the inconvenience of Cold, and probably of hunger, and these without a companion; reasons that induced my to leave the country; whoever may try the experiment for no longer a time than I have done ill find sufficient excuse for their patience fortitude and solitary Philosophy; journal; transcript; sailed; imprudently run the vessel through a large breaker; struck several time on the sand and afterwards went over; visit of compliment; procuring horses; several of the chiefs of the lower towns separated; five of our horses died; flooded for half a mile over its banks on each side; provisions mostly wasted and spoiled by the late rains; journey stopped by the floods; endeavored to build a canoe, having but a small hatchet the attempt was fruitless; Indians killed a stray cow; stretched her skin over hoops into the shape of a bowl with which to make the experiment of getting over; swimming and towing the skin boat; war-hoop to frighten away the alligators that are here in vast numbers; by uncommon and hazardous exertion we were with all our baggage safe over by dark; loss of four of our horses; Jack Kinnards Negroes; fresh horses; news from their chief; fresh supply of provisions; chief made some communications to the people; general meeting; some seemed pleased, others threw their tobacco into the fire in disgust; snow fell an inch deep; moon totally eclipsed; regulate my account of time; Indians; yelling with fear and firing guns in every direction; have an opinion, on these occasions, that a large frog is swallowing the moon, and make all their most hideous noises to frighten it away; sister hanged herself in a passion, but was cut down & saved; woman; woman hanged herself; privately buried in the village the same evening; letter; mountains; attended the Square three times to their black drinks, at the pressing invitation of the White Lieutenant; half breed; great war mics of all the district of the oakfuskies and in point of appearance and abilities is a rival to any other chief in the country. Sole indulgence over 1000 gun-men; river; falls; villages; lands; most superior quality; with little labor might be mad to 'blossom like the rose'; topographical sketches; river very crooked; marsh; thick woods; Reved Mr Morses Map; Great Okafanoka Swamp; misplace intirely; instead of spreading itself northwestward into Georgia s in the map laid down it extends away southerly into East Florida; old path from St. Mary's to the Creek nation is difficult to be traced, having been little used since 1783; continual of miry pine barren; so poor that game of the wood is not to be found in it; Alabala not laid down in any of the common maps; rain; freshet; current is rapid; passengers; entangled; drowned; danger from its great number of hungry alligators; clans; villages; huts, from the high color of the clay, at a little distance, resemble clusters of new burned brick kills; high country; deep and quite; high lands; rocks and shoals; canoes; hunting grounds; a fertile and extensive country capable of producing everything necessary to the comfort and convenience of mankind; ; well watered; soil is of a dark brown color with a deep strata of red or brown clay and with the slovenly management of savages produces abundantly; well timbered with oak; hiccory; mulberry poplar; wild cherry; laurel; cedar; cypress; bay; gum; ironwood; corkwood and the wild locust; small waterfalls and millseats; low lands and bottoms; cane brakes; gensang; snake root; genuine Sarsaparilla of Mexico; great variety of other medicinal plants and herbs which remain to be analized by a skilful botanist and without doubt will be found as valuable and important as any hitherto discovered; mines and minerals; specimens of which I have collected; herewith to present; Rowens Maps and surveys; rude wilderness; exhibiting many natural beauties; only rendered unpleasant by being in the possession of the Jealous Natives; western part of the Country of the Creek's; small; natural advantages; of more real value than all the rest of their territory; every species of clay and wood proper for building; soil and climate are suited to the culture of corn, wine, oil, rice, wheat, silk, hemp, indigo, and every species of fruit trees and English grape; in process of time become a most delectable part f the United States; free navigation; one day or other be the seat of manufactures; climate of this inland country is remarkably healthy; wet and dry seasons are periodical and regular; Christmas; March; July; September; constant breezes; head of Su summer very temperate; fall; perfumed by the aromatic shrubbery which abounds; winters are soft and mild; summers wholesome; no stagnant waters or infectious bogs; muskeetoes; sand-flies; animals of the forests; tyger or panthers is more common here but of less size than those taken towards Canada; black wolves are plenty; the lands of this region resemble ours in the northern states in every respect; great numbers of paroquets, and the beautiful red-bird, so much sought bor by Europeans, called the Virginia nightingale; reptiles here are much like those found in t he northern climates; gofer; a spices of the land tortoise; deserve some attention from curious naturalists; the Indians have a belief that this animal has the power of causing droughts or floods, therefore whenever they find them dash them to pieces with religious violence; origin of the Muscogies, or Creek Indians; men of the best information and longest acquaintance with these Indians; following account of the rise and progress of the nation; tradition; general belief; a long time ago some strange wandering clans of Indians from the northwest fount their way down to the present country of the Tenisnobies; plenty of fish and game; friendly footing with each other; became so powerful a body as to excite the Jealousy of their Applachian neighbors; wars ensued; some clans and families emigrated northward; established themselves eastward; westward; their lands; incorporated with the Creek Nation; courage and wialike abilities; pure water and air of this high country; warriors; superior to most of the nations that surround them; numbers increased; it appears long to have been a maxim of their policy to give equal liberty and protection to tribes conquered by themselves, as well as to those vanquished by others; many individuals taken in war are slaves among them and their children are called the slave-race, and cannot arrive to much honorary distinction in the country on that account; notes on the seminolies; wandering hordes; sandy and barren; fishing along the sea-shore; small clans and families; inland country; corn; water is very scarce; poor and miserable beyond description; seldom assemble; language; so great a change; old people; women; children; manhood; modern tongue; their country is a place of refuge for vagrants or murderers from every part; neck of land; Kinnard is a noted trader, farmer and herdsmen; two wives; about 40 valuable Negroes; and some Indian slaves; he has taken from 12 to 1500 head of cattle & horses; property; plunder; free booting; during the American War; Georgia quarrel; read or write; drunkenness; and like all half-breeds is very proud of being white blooded; he is a despot; shoots his Negroes if he pleases; cut off the ears of one of his wives in a drunken fit of suspicion; threaten the Spanish; English boxing; settlement; cattle; express; chalk; prisoner; white people; communication; British subjects; French; treaty of Savannah; kind treatment; good management; allies; Spaniards; voyages; travels; settlements; fort; post; captain's command; trade; troops; agents; commissaries; effectively attached them to the 'great king over the water'; American Revolution; peace; trade has been beneficial only to British subjects; manufactured; Tories; renegades of every sort; hatred of the Spaniards; population & military strength; towns; tolerably compact; houses; clusters; banks of rivers and small streams; each cluster of houses contain a family of relations who eat and live in common; public square; house and yard; near the centre; appropriated to various public uses; ceremonies; principal towns; it is impossible to determine the number of Indians that compose the Creek Nation; estimates the number of gun-men to be between 5 and 6000, exclusive of the Seminolies who are of little or no account in war except as small parties of marauders acting independent of the general interest of the others; old men; women; children; making the whole about 25 or 26000 souls; white-trader; white pack horse men; in almost every town one family of whites and in some two who do not trade; asylum of liberty; whites of every description throughout the country; nearly 300 persons; a number sufficient to contaminate all the natives; it is a fact that every town is under the influence of the Whitman; attached to the British; late war; loss of friends and property or persecution, retained bitter resentments against the people of the United States; to have revenge, and to obtain plunder that may be taken; use this influence to send out predatory parties against the settlements in their vicinity; the Indians are very badly armed; musquets in preference to rifles; of French manufacture, procured through the Spanish government at Pensacola; soon become unfit for service; In the Indians were able to purchase for themselves they would however prefer rifles in all cases because they find them more sure and lasting; A good rifle will command the price of 100 chalks or 50 dollars; treaty; communicated to all the people of the country and believed and relied upon; of the past and p[resent government; military democracy; nation; chief; superior talents; political abilities; every individual has so high an opinion of his own importance and independence that is would be difficult if not impossible to impress on the community at large the necessity of any social compact; yet they seem all united to defend and secure their lands and hunting ranges; each town has its chief or Mico; beloved second man; regulate the police of the town and public buildings; men of the best memories; can tell long stories; give minute details of ancient customs; councilors and orators; had a control over the warriors and leaders; scouts; war-parties; Kings; white-towns; refuge to prisoners; escape death or torture; asylum; sacred places; war or red towns; governed entirely by warriors; modern government; chiefs and principal warriors; annual meetings; deliberate on public affairs; fixed by a chief; broken days; black drink; tobacco; give or receive advice with profound gravity and moderation; influence; consists in the privilege of advising and not in the power of commanding; every individual is at liberty to choose whether or not he shall engage in any warlike enterprise; rage of the young met to acquire war-names; thrust of plunder in the older ones and leaders are motives sufficient to raise gangs of volunteers to go in quest of hair or horses at any time; they think that force constitutes right; victory is an infallible proof of justice; young men remain in a kind of disgrace and are obliged to light pipes, bring wood, and help cook the black drink for the warriors and perform all the menial services of the public square until they shall have performed some warlike exploit and a seat in the square at black-drink; bring some hair; young warriors; friends; war-hoop; scalp; red painted wand; war names; reproach; old women; esta dogs; you are nobody; liar; expressions; quarrel; equipment; war party; gun; ammunition; knife; small bag of gritz or broken corn; hors ropes or halters; war-camps; woods; men; scalp; they are much given to lying and exaggeration on those occasions; taking boy and girls prisoners to supply the places of such of their people as have been or may be killed; but they save grown men and women as prisoners only when avarice takes precedence of barbarity and the set the price of ransom upon them according to the rank and estimation in which the prisoners may be held; Indian women; have the honor of whipping them; their ruling passion seems to be war and their mode of conducting it constitutes some part of their political government;; British; superintendent; police of the nation; spirit of opposition; but one institution in the nation that resembles civilization; it was introduced by Mr McGillivray and thought sometimes observed, if oftener dispensed with; if an Indian steals an horse he is liable by this law to return him or another of equal value and pay a fine; thirty lashes; complaints or accusations; hear the evidences of the parties and never to decide on the case; putting off the trial; parties at length forget their resentments and often compromise the quarrel between themselves; the whites living among the Indians, with very few exceptions, are the most abandoned wretches that can be found perhaps this side of Botany Bay; traders; hirelings; pack-horse men; licenses; purchasers; but the Indians don't suffer them to cultivate much land.
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