« ПретходнаНастави »
to be sung and the order to be observed going to and from the meeting-house with his remains.
My father died September 25th, 1838, at 4 o'clock in the morning.
His disease was called chronic dyspepsy, attended with almost a constant dysentery, and finally terminated in dropsy. He was under the care of a physician about two years, and during his long and painful illness, his graces were more and more refined, so that, during all, the power of grace and the spirit of the gospel were exemplified in such a manner, that some who were before skeptical in their views, became convinced of the reality of religion; but whether it will lead to any thing farther, time and eternity must disclose.
MR. PARKER'S EXPLORING TOUR BEYOND THE ROCKY
Journal of an E.cploring Tour beyond the Rocky Mountains, under the Direction of
the A. B. C. F. M. Performed in the Years 1835, '36, and '37; containing a Description of the Geography, Geology, Climate, and Productions; and the Number, Manners, and Customs of the Natives. With a Map of Oregon Territory. By the Rev. Samuel PARKER, A. M., Ithaca, N. Y. Published by the Author. 1838. pp. 371.
Few portions of the globe have presented to the citizens of this country so many subjects of inquiry and interest, as the vast and wild region which lies between the valley of the Mississippi and the Pacific Ocean. In view of each separate interest, exploring expeditions have been undertaken and prosecuted; and every returning agent has brought with him something to augment the common stock of general information, which is interesting to all. In this work religion and benevolence have contributed their share. Missionaries, not only for the purpose of exploring the country, and ascertaining its physical and moral condition, but also to establish schools, and introduce the institutions of religion and civilization among the natives, have been sent out by different religious societies. In 1833, the Missionary Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church sent out Rev. Messrs. Jason and Daniel Lee, who crossed the Rocky Mountains in company with a caravan of traders, and commenced their operations as missionaries in the valley of the Willamette, some forty or fifty miles from its junction with the Columbia River. This mission has since been strengthened by successive reinforcements, and promises much usefulness. Other missions have been commenced in the Oregon Territory; but it does not come within our design to notice them.
The Rev. Mr. Parker, whose journal is now before us, was em. ployed, in company with Dr. Marcus Whitman, by the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, to explore the country west of the Rocky Mountains, to ascertain by personal observation the condition and character of the Indian tribes, and the facilities for introducing the gospel among them. This laborious and somewhat perilous service he performed in a manner highly creditable to himself, (if we may rely upon the account before us, which appears to be written with great fidelity,) and satisfactory to his employers and the Christian public. It is our object in this notice of Mr. Parker's tour to furnish a condensed view of it, as far as our limits will justify.
Mr. Parker left Ithaca, N. Y., on the 14th of March, 1835. He passed through Geneva, Buffalo, Erie, Meadville, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, &c., and arrived at St. Louis, Missouri, on the evening of the 4th of April. Here he met Dr. Whitman, his traveling companion, who had come by a different route, and arrived a few days before him.
Having obtained an interview with Mr. Fontenelle, in charge of the caravan with which they were to travel, and settled preliminaries for their joining it, they left on the 7th, in the steamboat St. Charles, and ascended the river a distance of twenty miles to the mouth of the Missouri, where they were obliged to lay by for the night, on account of the snags and sand-bars in that river. On the 8th they proceeded up the Missouri, passed St. Charles, Jefferson city, and some other places of note on the western frontier; and on the 21st arrived at Liberty, where they were to join the caravan. Here they continued about three weeks, waiting for the caravan to get in readiness.
During their stay here they had an opportunity of collecting much information from those who had been beyond the Rocky Mountains, in regard to the country, mode of traveling, &c. They obtained also, from the government agents and others, many facts respecting the Indians scattered through that region, their general character, customs, and willingness ro receive the gospel. Several tribes were mentioned, among whom, it was thought, missions might be established, with much promise of success.
On the 15th of May they set forward with the caravan for Council Bluffs, in a north-westerly direction. On the night of the 16th they encamped on a prairie in the Indian country, which was the commencement of their mode of life, of receiving refreshment and rest, during the tedious journey before them. On this occasion Mr. Parker thus expresses himself:
s. The sensations excited by the circumstances of our situation were pecu
liar, and such as I had not before felt: in a wilderness, inhabited by unseen savages and wild beasts, engaged in setting our tent, preparing supper with only a few articles of furniture, the ground for our chairs, table, and bed. But all was conducted in good style ; for I would not dispense with attention to decencies, because beyond the boundaries of civilization; and having adjusted every thing in good order, and offered up our evening devotions, we retired to rest. But how to adjust all the anxieties and feelings of the mind, so as to obtain the desired repose, was a more difficult task." P. 34.
On the 17th they crossed the Little Platte, and Mr. P. spent the Sabbath with Mr. Gilmore, a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and government blacksmith among the Ioway Indians. Here he saw many Indians of the loway, Sioux, and Fox tribes. The condition of these tribes is deteriorating, in consequence of their aversion to cultivating their lands, and their inclination for the use of intoxicating drinks and facilities for obtaining them of unprincipled white traders.
On the 22d they crossed the Nodaway river, with all their effects, on a raft of logs fastened together by strips of elm bark; a new mode of ferrying to our travelers. They saw many elk in this region. On Sabbath the missionaries rested, while the caravan went on, a measure much to be commended in them, though it was displeasing to some of their company. They crossed the three branches of the Neshnabotana, which lay in their way, in the manner above described ; and often experiencing various vicissitudes of no great moment, they reached the vicinity of Council Bluffs on the 30th. On their arrival, Mr. P. says,
"Went to the Agency house, where I was happy to find brethren Dunbar and Allis, missionaries to the Pawnees, under the direction of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions. There is a Baptist mission here, composed of Rev. Moses Merrill and wife, Miss Brown, and a Christian Indian woman, a descendant of the Rev. D. Brainard's Indians. They are appointed by the Baptist Board to labor among the Otoe Indians, about twenty-five miles from this place, on the river Platte. The Indians are away from their residence about half of the time, on the hunting excursions.
A little more than a half mile below the Agency, the American Fur Company have a fort, and in connection with which they have a farming establishment, and large numbers of cattle and horses, a horse-power mill for grinding corn, &c." P. 40.
The country through which they traveled to this place, is represented by Mr. P. to be of a generally good soil, mostly rolling prairie, and some portions of it scarcely equaled.
Here they were detained three weeks. This gave them an opportunity to collect such information respecting the Indians of the neighboring tribes as they desired. We select from his observations the following, which we believe accords with the experience of all those who have labored most, and most successfully, in the cause of Indian missions :
“In respect to efforts for the religious instruction and conversion of the Indians, I am convinced, from all I can learn of their native character, that Vo.. X.-Jan., 1839.
the first impressions which the missionary makes upon them, are altogether important in their bearings on successful labors among them. In things about which they are conversant, they are men ; but about other matters they are children, and, like children, the announcement of a new subject awakens their attention, their curiosity, and their energies ; and it has been remarked by a Methodist missionary who has Jabored among the Indians, that many seemed to embrace the gospel on its first being offered, and that thuse among them who failed to do so were rarely converted. If from any motives, or any cause, instruction is delayed, and their expectations are disappointed, they relapse into their native apathy, from which it is difficult to arouse them. P. 42.
All this is very natural, and suggests the importance of commencing operations among them in a way not to disappoint their expectations, nor slacken religious efforts for their conversion, until it is accomplished.
While the caravan was remaining at this place, the spasmodic cholera broke out with great malignancy, and became very alarming. This afforded an opportunity for Dr. Whitman to render himself very serviceable to the men with whom they were to travel, which was duly acknowledged on their part.
From Council Bluffs, which they left on the 22d of June, they directed their course for the Black Hills, far up the north fork of the Platte river, where they arrived on the 26th of July, being one month and four days on their way.
The fort of the Black Hills, as the reader will perceive by a reference to the map of the country, is situated a little north of west from Council Bluffs. But on leaving the latter place, the caravan at first pursued a south-westerly direction, to the vicinity of the Platte river, and thence up that river to the place of their destination. In this route they crossed the Papillon, Elkhorn, and Loups Fork, which empty into the Platte, below Grand Isle.
Of the country, for a great distance up the Platte, the soil, climate, &c., Mr. Parker gives the most flattering account. After crossing the Elkhorn, he says,
“As a traveler, I should be guilty of neglect of duty, if I should not give a description of this section of country, belonging to the Otoes on the east and the Pawnees on the west. For about twenty-five miles since we crossed the Elkhorn, and between this river and the Platte, which are about ten miles apart, there is not a single hill. It is rich bottom land, covered with a luxariant growth of grass. No country could be more inviting to the farmer, with only one exception, the want of woodland. The latitude is sufficiently high to be healthy; and as the climate grows warmer as we travel west, until we approach the snow-topped mountains, there is a degree of mildness, not experienced east of the Alleghany Mountains." P. 47.
This vast region of fertile country, Mr. P. thinks, is destined at no great distance of time to be brought under cultivation. Of this there is very little doubt. But by whom, and in what way, are questions of lively interest to the Christian philanthropist. If by the whites, as all more eastern sections once possessed by the Indians have been, what is to become of the natives? They cannot remain, and live by the chase, as the game will be exterminated. And they cannot be driven farther back, as there are not huntinggrounds beyond them sufficient to sustain them. There appears only one way to save them from perishing. It is to bring them under the influence of the gospel, and thus prepare them for the habits of civilized life. Then they will cultivate their own lands, and be rescued from ruin. We say they must first be brought under the influence of the gospel, for it has been sufficiently demonstrated, we believe, that those Indians only are inclined to cultivate the soil and adopt civilized habits who first become Christians.
Six or seven days' travel brought them to a section on the Platte, where, Mr. P. remarks, “the country begins to diminish in its fer. tility, but still is very good.” Of the section of country about the Forks of the Platte, Mr. P. says,* “ It is very pleasant, without any high mountains in sight; but at a distance beyond the widely-extended rich bottom lands, bluffs of various forms present a picturesque scenery. The entire want of forests in a large space of country around, is a desideratum which cannot be easily supplied ; but probably forest-trees could be cultivated to advantage.” P. 56.
In their tour they passed through several tribes of Indians. After crossing the Loups, they fell in with the Pawnee Loups. They are represented as exceedingly civil and friendly to white men, but ignorant of God; though, from all the intelligence Mr. P. could gather, they are willing, if not desirous, for religious instruction. The Ogallallahs are a numerous tribe farther west, who are also friendly. Mr. P. does not intimate that any fear had been entertained by the party of injury from the Indians thus far, except an apprehension that they might be attacked by the Arickaras, who were residing about the Forks of the Platte, and who were supposed to be enraged on account of the recent brutal murder of a chief belonging to the nation, under the most aggravating circumstances. Of their mode of encamping, the following is a specimen. Mr. P. says,
“We have a small tent made of coarse cotton cloth, forming a cone. After setting this, we stow away our baggage, so as to leave a space in the centre, for our lodgings. My bed is made by first spreading down a buffalo skin, upon this a bear skin, then two or three Mackinaw blankets, and my portmanteau constitutes my pillow. The manner of our encamping, is to form a large hollow square, encompassing an area of about an acre, having the river on one side ; three wagons forming a part of another, coming down to the river ; and three more in the same manner on the opposite side ; and the packages so arranged in parcels, about three rods apart, as to fill up the rear, and the sides not occupied by the wagons. The horses and mules, near the middle of the day, are turned out under guard, to feed for two hours ; and the same again toward night, until after sunset, when they are taken up and brought into the hollow square, and fastened with ropes twelve feet long to pickets driven firmly into the ground. The men are divided into small companies, stationed at the several parcels of goods and wagons, where they