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he was now about to encounter, subsisting several days between Sandusky and the Ohio river on acorns. He had joined the Pennsylvania troops without the knowledge of his father. Besides these men, two guides were employed, Nehemiah Getchel, a respectable man, and John Horne, an aged and grey-headed Irishman.
This party of eleven men left Fort Western, Sept 23d or 24th, in two birch-bark canoes, each of which carried five or six men, a barrel of pork, a bag of meal, and two or three hundred pounds of biscuit. They arrived in the evening at Fort Halifax, about twenty miles from Fort Western, situated on the point of land in the town of Winslow, opposite to Waterville, which is formed by the junction of the Sabasticook river on the east, with Kennebec on the west. The fort consisted of old block-houses and a stockade in a ruinous condition. Here a barrel of pork was exchanged for a barrel of smoke-dried salmon, with tho the commander of the fort; near the fort resided a Capt. Harrison of Huddlestone, a whig, who treated the company with much hospitality. Probably the next day the party arrived at Skowhegan Falls, five miles east of the village of Norridgewock, at a point where the river separates the present town of Bloomfield on the south, from Milburne on the north. These falls are about seventeen miles from Fort Halifax. This was the country of beavers. With two men, met with not far from the falls, two fresh beaver tails were obtained in exchange for pork.
Just below the falls there was a rock of bluish flint in a conical form, five feet in height, and ten or twelve feet in diameter at the base, which was scalloped out down to the water's edge. Getchel had been informed, that the Indians of former times had obtained from it their spear and arrow-heads or points.'
The carrying-place round the falls was ascertained, and the trees to designate it were carefully marked or blazed with the hatchet, as they were also at other portages. The canoes at such places were carried on the back in the following manner : A broad straight stave was bound to the central cross bar of
1 of this fact I have no doubt, as I obtained myself an Indian arrow-head, apparently answering to this description, at the old Indian village in Nor. ridgewock.
the canoe by a stout leather thong passing through two perforations an inch or more apart at the middle of the stave. This rested upon the back side of the head and on the shoulders, when the canoe was thrown upon the shoulders to be carried.
Above the falls there were few impediments to navigation for a considerable distance. The last white inhabitants lived at, Norridgewock. After entering the uninhabited wilderness, it was thought prudent, lest Indians should be lurking near, not to fire a gun, although the temptation presented by fine ducks and moose, was almost irresistible. About the 29th of Sept., having passed the Cariotunk Falls, they arrived at the Great Carryingplace, distant between forty and fifty miles from Skowhegan. This twelve-mile carrying-place is in the northern range of townships of what is now called the Bingham purchase, or the Million of Acres. The distance from the Kennebec to Dead River on the west is but twelve miles, and the communication is facilitated by three or four considerable ponds; but to ascend the Kennebec nearly twenty miles to the mouth of Dead River, and then to proceed up this river in its circuitous course would make the whole distance fifty or sixty miles. It is, however, impossible to ascend in this manner, for Dead River, for fifteen or twenty miles from its mouth, is a broad shallow and rapid river, and has one considerable fall. It receives its name from its sluggishness in that portion of it which is below and above the twelve mile carrying-place.
On leaving the Kennebec the path was found tolerably distinct; but it was made more so by marking the trees and cutting the bushes with the hatchet or tomahawk. In the evening the party encamped on the margin of the first pond or lake, where there was plenty of trout, which old Clifton caught in abundance. Here it was determined the next day, to leave Clifton and M'Konkey, with half the provisions; the other part was divided equally by a kind of lot in the following manner. Steele made a division into as many parts as there were men, in the presence of all concerned. He then directed some one to turn his back, and asked him, laying his hand on a particular portion, "Whose shall be this?" To the one whose name he happened to mention it was given. The two men left here were directed to retire to
the south end of the pond, and there remain concealed, and await the return of the others, who expected to be absent about eight or ten days.
It required two days for the party to pass the two other ponds, to explore and mark the Indian path, and to reach Dead River. This was found to be deep, with an imperceptible current, about two hundred and fifty yards wide. The trees observed were chiefly evergreens.
The Balsam Fir (Pinus Fraseri, overlooked by Michaux, but differing from the Silver Fir) was found to be very abundant. It has many protuberances or blisters on the bark, which yield a balsamic liquid, useful in medicine. Getchel taught Henry to place the edge of a broad knife at the under side of the blister in the morning, and to receive the balsam by placing his mouth at the back part of the knife. The liquid was found to be heating and cordial, and was thought to contribute to the preservation of health.
Leaving the encampment at Dead River about the 2d of October, they ascended the river rapidly to the foot of a rapid, where, as usual, they made their bed of the branches of fir or spruce. It was resolved to eat their pork raw, and to eat but twice a day. Half a biscuit and half an inch square of pork constituted their supper; for, ignorant of the distance to the Chaudiere, it was necessary to be economical in expending their stock of provisions.
Oct. 3. Surmounting the rapids in the boats in about an hour, there was good water during the rest of the day; at night they encamped at the foot of a fall of four feet. During the next day there was good water. They caught trout and a delicious chub, which they call fall fish. The common trout of the river were pale with pink spots; but some larger trout, caught in a deep spring-head, were of a dark hue, with beautiful crimson spots.
The party were now approaching the wigwam of Natanis, the only reinaining Norridgewock Indian, whom they were instructed by Arnold to seize or kill, in the persuasion that he was employed by the Canadian government as a spy. His abode was at a middle point between the American and Canadian settlements; it was chosen probably with reference to the convenience of hunting. The cabin of Natanis was surrounded, but he was not
found; it stood on a bank about twenty yards from the river, and a grass plat extended around a little more than shooting distance with the rifle. Near this place a considerable stream from the west fell into Dead River, and seven miles up that stream it was said there lived a number of Indians. Natanis afterwards joined the invading army on the Chaudiere, with about forty of the St. Francois band, who lived nearly opposite the mouth of the De Loup.'
At the junction of the west stream with Dead River, a stake was found driven down to the water's edge, with a piece of birch bark, neatly folded up, inserted into a split at the top. On opening the bark, it was found to be a map of the streams above them. It was probably placed there with friendly intentions by Natanis, who had discovered the party at their first encampment on Dead River, and was now hovering around them, although afraid to show himself lest he should be killed.
The first pond at the head of Dead River appeared to be a mile in diameter. Here, on a small island of a quarter of an acre, the party discovered a delicious cranberry, growing on a bush ten feet high, and the fruit as large as a cherry. A second pond was found in one or two miles, and a third pond not far distant. The country was mountainous. One mountain was a beautiful cone; and perpendicular cliffs formed the border of one of the ponds.
The weather began now to be cold. Mr. Henry describes his dress as follows: a roundabout woolen jacket, a pair of half worn buckskin breeches, a hat with a feather, a hunting shirt, leggins, a pair of moccasins, and woollen stockings and shoes in
1 Judge Henry remembered an Indian by the name of Sabattis. I am happy to have it in my power, after the lapse of fifty years from the time of this expedition, to confirm the correctness of his memory, and the fidelity of his narrative. In August, 1824, an Indian woman from Penobscot presented herself at my house with baskets to sell, and soliciting charity. She exhibited a certificate, signed by Major General Ulmer, now living at Penobscot, stating that she was the daughter of Sa Bates, a Penobscot Indian, who piloted Arnold's army to Quebec in 1775. I asked her to pronounce the name of her father, and she gave the sound-Sah-Báh-tis.
2 This was doubtless the acid fruit of Viburnum oxycoccus, which I found on the river De Loup, a branch of the Chaudiere, in Sept. 1824.
At the end of the fifth pond or lake they saw "the height of land." Covering their canoes with leaves, they now crossed over about five miles, by an Indian path, to the bank of the Chaudiere. Here Cunningham climbed a high tree and descried, ten or fifteen miles distant, the great Chaudiere lake, the intermediate country being flat.
Thus, about the 7th of October, the great object of this exploring party was accomplished. The stream in Canada which they reached was probably a stream which lies north of the last pood, and wbich, rising in the seventh range of surveyed townships, runs westerly and empties into Nepess lake,—the lake that was mistaken for the Great Chaudiere, or Ammeguntick lake, with which it communicates by a river five or six miles in length.
As the sun was setting they set out to return to their canoes, proceeding in Indian file, one after the other, all treading in the steps of their leader, and Getchel bringing up the rear and covering the track with leaves with his feet. This was to prevent discovery by the Indians. After being thoroughly wet in a heavy shower, they arrived in the dark at their place of encampment; and here during the night they were protected from a heavy rain only by the branches of fir, forming a kind of wigwam. It was extremely laborious to cross this ridge of land. Mr. Henry had fallen down a precipice, and did not arrive until an hour after his friends, The next morning they crossed the pond, the water of which, and of the streams, was found to be raised about four feet, so that the return was easy and rapid.
During the day a small duck, called a diver, was shot. At night, after deliberation, it was concluded to boil the duck in the camp kettle, together with each man's inch of pork, which was designated by a skewer of wood having a distinctive mark on it. The broth thus made was to be the supper; and the duck in the morning was to be the breakfast, divided into nine or ten parts by the method—“Whose shall be this ?” in addition to each man's
1 If this stream should not prove to be the principal branch of the Chaudiere, the name of Steele's river might with propriety be given to it, especially as the name of Arnold river has been given to a more westerly branch, emptying into Ammeguntick, in the erroneous belief, I presume, that it was the river which was passed by the detachment under his command.