A New Voyage to Carolina,  by John Lawson

A JOURNAL of A thousand Miles Travel among the Indians, from South to North Carolina.

{Saturday.} On December the 28th, 1700, I began my Voyage (for North Carolina) from Charles-Town, being six English-men in Company, with three Indian-men, and one Woman, Wife to our Indian-Guide, having five Miles from the Town to the Breach we went down in a large Canoe, that we had provided for our Voyage thither, having the Tide of Ebb along with us; which was so far spent by that Time we got down, that we had not Water enough for our Craft to go over, although we drew but two Foot, or thereabouts. This Breach is a Passage through a Marsh lying to the Northward of Sullivans Island, the Pilot’s having a Look out thereon, lying very commodious for Mariners, (on that Coast) making a good Land-Mark in so level a Country, this Bar being difficult to hit, where an Observation hath been wanting for a Day or two; North East Winds bringing great Fogs, Mists, and Rains; which, towards the cool Months of October, November, and until the latter End of March, often appear in these Parts. There are three Pilots to attend, and conduct Ships over the Bar. The Harbour where the Vessels generally ride, is against the Town on Cooper’s River, lying within a Point which parts that and Ashley-River, they being Land lock’d almost on all Sides.

At 4 in the Afternoon, (at half Flood) we pass’d with our Canoe over the Breach, leaving Sullivans Island on our Starboard. The first Place we design’d for, was Santee River, on which there is a Colony of French Protestants, allow’d and encourag’d by the Lords Proprietors. At Night we got to Bell’s-Island, a poor Spot of Land, being about ten Miles round, where liv’d (at that Time) a Bermudian, being employ’d here with a Boy, to look after a Stock of Cattle and Hogs, by the Owner of this Island. One Side of the Roof of his House was thatch’d with Palmeto-leaves, the other open to the Heavens, thousands of Musketoes, and other troublesome Insects, tormenting both Man and Beast inhabiting these Islands. {Palmeto-trees.} The Palmeto-trees, whose Leaves growing only on the Top of the Tree, in the Shape of a Fan, and in a Cluster, like a Cabbage; this Tree in Carolina, when at its utmost Growth, is about forty or fifty Foot in Height, and two Foot through: It’s worth mentioning, that the Growth of the Tree is not perceivable in the Age of any Man, the Experiment having been often try’d in Bermudas, and elsewhere, which shews the slow Growth of this Vegitable, the Wood of it being porous and stringy, like some Canes; the Leaves thereof the Bermudians make Womens Hats, Bokeets, Baskets, and pretty Dressing-boxes, a great deal being transported to Pensilvania, and other Northern Parts of America, (where they do not grow) for the same Manufacture. The People of Carolina make of the Fans of this Tree, Brooms very serviceable, to sweep their Houses withal.

We took up our Lodging this Night with the Bermudian; our Entertainment was very indifferent, there being no fresh Water to be had on the Island.

The next Morning we set away thro’ the Marshes; about Noon we reach’d another Island, call’d Dix’s Island, much like to the former, tho’ larger; there liv’d an honest Scot, who gave us the best Reception his Dwelling afforded, being well provided of Oat-meal, and several other Effects he had found on that Coast; which Goods belong’d to that unfortunate Vessel, the Rising Sun, a Scotch Man of War, lately arriv’d from the Istmus of Darien, and cast away near the Bar of Ashley River, the September before, Capt. Gibson of Glasco then commanding her, who, with above an hundred Men then on Board her, {Septem. 5. 1700.} were every Soul drown’d in that terrible Gust which then happen’d; most of the Corps being taken up, were carefully interr’d by Mr. Graham, their Lieutenant, who happily was on Shore during the Tempest.

After Dinner, we left our Scotch Landlord, and went that Night to the North East Point of the Island: It being dark ere we got there, our Canoe struck on a Sand near the Breakers, and were in great Danger of our Lives, but (by God’s Blessing) got off safe to the Shore, where we lay all Night.

{Monday.} In the Morning we set forwards on our intended Voyage. About two a Clock we got to Bulls Island, which is about thirty Miles long, and hath a great Number of both Cattel and Hogs upon it; the Cattel being very wild, and the Hogs very lean. These two last Islands belong to one Colonel Cary, an Inhabitant of South Carolina. Although it were Winter, yet we found such Swarms of Musketoes, and other troblesome Insects, that we got but little Rest that Night.

{Tuesday.} The next Day we intended for a small Island on the other Side of Sewee-Bay, which joining to these Islands, Shipping might come to victual or careen; but there being such a Burden of those Flies, that few or none cares to settle there; so the Stock thereon are run wild. We were gotten about half Way to Racoon-Island, when there sprung up a tart Gale at N.W. which put us in some Danger of being cast away, the Bay being rough, and there running great Seas between the two Islands, which are better than four Leagues asunder, a strong Current of a Tide setting in and out, which made us turn Tail to it, and got our Canoe right before the Wind, and came safe into a Creek that is joining to the North End of Bulls Island. We sent our Indians to hunt, who brought us two Deers, which were very poor, and their Maws full of large Grubs.

{Wednesday.} On the Morrow we went and visited the Eastermost Side of this Island, it joining to the Ocean, having very fair sandy Beeches, pav’d with innumerable Sorts of curious pretty Shells, very pleasant to the Eye. Amongst the rest, we found the Spanish Oyster-Shell, whence come the Pearls. They are very large, and of a different Form from other Oysters; their Colour much resembles the Tortoise-Shell, when it is dress’d. There was left by the Tide several strange Species of a muciligmous slimy Substance, though living, and very aptly mov’d at their first Appearance; yet, being left on the dry Sand, (by the Beams of the Sun) soon exhale and vanish.

At our Return to our Quarters, the Indians had kill’d two more Deer, two wild Hogs, and three Racoons, all very lean, except the Racoons. We had great Store of Oysters, Conks, and Clanns, a large Sort of Cockles. These Parts being very well furnish’d with Shell-Fish, Turtle of several Sorts, but few or none of the green, with other Sorts of Salt-water Fish, and in the Season, good Plenty of Fowl, as Curleus, Gulls, Gannets, and Pellicans, besides Duck and Mallard, Geese, Swans, Teal, Widgeon, &c.

{Thursday.} On Thursday Morning we left Bulls Island, and went thro’ the Creeks, which lie between the Bay and the main Land. At Noon we went on Shore, and got our Dinner near a Plantation, on a Creek having the full Prospect of Sewee-Bay: We sent up to the House, but found none at Home, but a Negro, of whom our Messenger purchas’d some small Quantity of Tobacco and Rice. We came to a deserted Indian Residence, call’d Avendaugh-bough, where we rested that Night.

{Friday.} The next Day we enter’d Santee-River’s Mouth, where is fresh Water, occasion’d by the extraordinary Current that comes down continually. With hard Rowing, we got two Leagues up the River, lying all Night in a swampy Piece of Ground, the Weather being so cold all that Time, we were almost frozen ere Morning, leaving the Impressions of our Bodies on the wet Ground. We set forward very early in the Morning, to seek some better Quarters.

{Saturday.} As we row’d up the River, we found the Land towards the Mouth, and for about sixteen Miles up it, scarce any Thing but Swamp and Percoarson, {Percoarson, a Sort of low Land.} affording vast Ciprus-Trees, of which the French make Canoes, that will carry fifty or sixty Barrels. After the Tree is moulded and dug, they saw them in two Pieces, and so put a Plank between, and a small Keel, to preserve them from the Oyster-Banks, which are innumerable in the Creeks and Bays betwixt the French Settlement and Charles-Town. They carry two Masts, and Bermudas Sails, which makes them very handy and fit for their Purpose; for although their River fetches its first Rise from the Mountains, and continues a Current some hundreds of Miles ere it disgorges it self, having no sound Bay or Sand-Banks betwixt the Mouth thereof, and the Ocean. Notwithstanding all this, with the vast Stream it affords at all Seasons, and the repeated Freshes it so often allarms the Inhabitants with, by laying under Water great Part of their Country, yet the Mouth is barr’d, affording not above four or five Foot Water at the Entrance. As we went up the River, we heard a great Noise, as if two Parties were engag’d against each other, seeming exactly like small Shot. {Sewee Indians.} When we approach’d nearer the Place, we found it to be some Sewee Indians firing the Canes Swamps, which drives out the Game, then taking their particular Stands, kill great Quantities of both Bear, Deer, Turkies, and what wild Creatures the Parts afford.

These Sewees have been formerly a large Nation, though now very much decreas’d, since the English hath seated their Land, and all other Nations of Indians are observ’d to partake of the same Fate, where the Europeans come, the Indians being a People very apt to catch any Distemper they are afflicted withal; the Small-Pox has destroy’d many thousands of these Natives, who no sooner than they are attack’d with the violent Fevers, and the Burning which attends that Distemper, fling themselves over Head in the Water, in the very Extremity of the Disease; which shutting up the Pores, hinders a kindly Evacuation of the pestilential Matter, and drives it back; by which Means Death most commonly ensues; not but in other Distempers which are epidemical, you may find among ’em Practitioners that have extraordinary Skill and Success in removing those morbifick Qualities which afflict ’em, not often going above 100 Yards from their Abode for their Remedies, some of their chiefest Physicians commonly carrying their Compliment of Drugs continually about them, which are Roots, Barks, Berries, Nuts, &c. that are strung upon a Thread. So like a Pomander, the Physician wears them about his Neck. An Indian hath been often found to heal an English-man of a Malady, for the Value of a Match-Coat; which the ablest of our English Pretenders in America, after repeated Applications, have deserted the Patient as incurable; God having furnish’d every Country with specifick Remedies for their peculiar Diseases.

{Rum.} Rum, a Liquor now so much in Use with them, that they will part with the dearest Thing they have, to purchase it; and when they have got a little in their Heads, are the impatients Creatures living, ’till they have enough to make ’em quite drunk; and the most miserable Spectacles when they are so, some falling into the Fires, burn their Legs or Arms, contracting the Sinews, and become Cripples all their Life-time; others from Precipices break their Bones and Joints, with abundance of Instances, yet none are so great to deter them from that accurs’d Practice of Drunkenness, though sensible how many of them (are by it) hurry’d into the other World before their Time, as themselves oftentimes will confess. The Indians, I was now speaking of, were not content with the common Enemies that lessen and destroy their Country-men, but invented an infallible Stratagem to purge their Tribe, and reduce their Multitude into far less Numbers. Their Contrivance was thus, as a Trader amongst them inform’d me.

They seeing several Ships coming in, to bring the English Supplies from Old England, one chief Part of their Cargo being for a Trade with the Indians, some of the craftiest of them had observ’d, that the Ships came always in at one Place, which made them very confident that Way was the exact Road to England; and seeing so many Ships come thence, they believ’d it could not be far thither, esteeming the English that were among them, no better than Cheats, and thought, if they could carry the Skins and Furs they got, themselves to England, which were inhabited with a better Sort of People than those sent amongst them, that then they should purchase twenty times the Value for every Pelt they sold Abroad, in Consideration of what Rates they sold for at Home. The intended Barter was exceeding well approv’d of, and after a general Consultation of the ablest Heads amongst them, it was, `Nemine Contradicente’, agreed upon, immediately to make an Addition of their Fleet, by building more Canoes, and those to be of the best Sort, and biggest Size, as fit for their intended Discovery. Some Indians were employ’d about making the Canoes, others to hunting, every one to the Post he was most fit for, all Endeavours tending towards an able Fleet and Cargo for Europe. The Affair was carry’d on with a great deal of Secrecy and Expedition, so as in a small Time they had gotten a Navy, Loading, Provisions, and Hands ready to set Sail, leaving only the Old, Impotent, and Minors at Home, ’till their successful Return. {They never hearing more of their Fleet.} The Wind presenting, they set up their Mat-Sails, and were scarce out of Sight, when there rose a Tempest, which it’s suppos’d carry’d one Part of these Indian Merchants, by Way of the other World, whilst the others were taken up at Sea by an English Ship, and sold for Slaves to the Islands. The Remainder are better satisfy’d with their Imbecilities in such an Undertaking, nothing affronting them more, than to rehearse their Voyage to England.

There being a strong Current in Santee-River, caus’d us to make small Way with our Oars. With hard Rowing, we got that Night to Mons. Eugee’s House, which stands about fifteen Miles up the River, being the first Christian dwelling we met withal in that Settlement, and were very courteously receiv’d by him and his Wife.

Many of the French follow a Trade with the Indians, living very conveniently for that Interest. There is about seventy Families seated on this River, who live as decently and happily, as any Planters in these Southward Parts of America. The French being a temperate industrious People, some of them bringing very little of Effects, yet by their Endeavours and mutual Assistance amongst themselves, (which is highly to be commended) have out-stript our English, who brought with ’em larger Fortunes, though (as it seems) less endeavour to manage their Talent to the best Advantage. ‘Tis admirable to see what Time and Industry will (with God’s Blessing) effect. Carolina affording many strange Revolutions in the Age of a Man, daily Instances presenting themselves to our View, of so many, from despicable Beginnings, which in a short Time arrive to very splended Conditions. Here Propriety hath a large Scope, there being no strict Laws to bind our Privileges. A Quest after Game, being as freely and peremptorily enjoy’d by the meanest Planter, as he that is the highest in Dignity, or wealthiest in the Province. Deer, and other Game that are naturally wild, being not immur’d, or preserv’d within Boundaries, to satisfy the Appetite of the Rich alone. A poor Labourer, that is Master of his Gun, &c. hath as good a Claim to have continu’d Coarses of Delicacies crouded upon his Table, as he that is Master of a greater Purse.

We lay all that Night at Mons. Eugee’s, and the next Morning set out farther, to go the Remainder of our Voyage by Land: At ten a Clock we pass’d over a narrow, deep Swamp, having left the three Indian Men and one Woman, that had pilotted the Canoe from Ashly-River, having hir’d a Sewee-Indian, a tall, lusty Fellow, who carry’d a Pack of our Cloaths, of great Weight; notwithstanding his Burden, we had much a-do to keep pace with him. At Noon we came up with several French Plantations, meeting with several Creeks by the Way, the French were very officious in assisting with their small Dories to pass over these Waters, (whom we met coming from their Church) being all of them very clean and decent in their Apparel; their Houses and Plantations suitable in Neatness and Contrivance. They are all of the same Opinion with the Church of Geneva, there being no Difference amongst them concerning the Punctilio’s of their Christian Faith; which Union hath propagated a happy and delightful Concord in all other Matters throughout the whole Neighbourhood; living amongst themselves as one Trible, or Kindred, every one making it his Business to be assistant to the Wants of his Country-man, preserving his Estate and Reputation with the same Exactness and Concern as he does his own; all seeming to share in the Misfortunes, and rejoyce at the Advance, and Rise, of their Brethren.

Towards the Afternoon, we came to Mons. L’Jandro, where we got our Dinner; there coming some French Ladies whilst we were there, who were lately come from England, and Mons. L’Grand, a worthy Norman, who hath been a great Sufferer in his Estate, by the Persecution in France, against those of the Protestant Religion: This Gentleman very kindly invited us to make our Stay with him all Night, but we being intended farther that Day, took our Leaves, returning Acknowledgments of their Favours.

About 4 in the Afternoon, we pass’d over a large Ciprus run in a small Canoe; the French Doctor sent his Negro to guide us over the Head of a large Swamp; so we got that Night to Mons. Galliar’s the elder, who lives in a very curious contriv’d House, built of Brick and Stone, which is gotten near that Place. Near here comes in the Road from Charles-Town, and the rest of the English Settlement, it being a very good Way by Land, and not above 36 Miles, altho’ more than 100 by Water; and I think the most difficult Way I ever saw, occasion’d by Reason of the multitude of Creeks lying along the Main, keeping their Course thro’ the Marshes, turning and winding like a Labyrinth, having the Tide of Ebb and Flood twenty Times in less than three Leagues going.

{Saturday.} As we row’d up the River, we found the Land towards the Mouth, and for about sixteen Miles up it, scarce any Thing but Swamp and Percoarson, {Percoarson, a Sort of low Land.} affording vast Ciprus-Trees, of which the French make Canoes, that will carry fifty or sixty Barrels. After the Tree is moulded and dug, they saw them in two Pieces, and so put a Plank between, and a small Keel, to preserve them from the Oyster-Banks, which are innumerable in the Creeks and Bays betwixt the French Settlement and Charles-Town. They carry two Masts, and Bermudas Sails, which makes them very handy and fit for their Purpose; for although their River fetches its first Rise from the Mountains, and continues a Current some hundreds of Miles ere it disgorges it self, having no sound Bay or Sand-Banks betwixt the Mouth thereof, and the Ocean. Notwithstanding all this, with the vast Stream it affords at all Seasons, and the repeated Freshes it so often allarms the Inhabitants with, by laying under Water great Part of their Country, yet the Mouth is barr’d, affording not above four or five Foot Water at the Entrance. As we went up the River, we heard a great Noise, as if two Parties were engag’d against each other, seeming exactly like small Shot. {Sewee Indians.} When we approach’d nearer the Place, we found it to be some Sewee Indians firing the Canes Swamps, which drives out the Game, then taking their particular Stands, kill great Quantities of both Bear, Deer, Turkies, and what wild Creatures the Parts afford.

These Sewees have been formerly a large Nation, though now very much decreas’d, since the English hath seated their Land, and all other Nations of Indians are observ’d to partake of the same Fate, where the Europeans come, the Indians being a People very apt to catch any Distemper they are afflicted withal; the Small-Pox has destroy’d many thousands of these Natives, who no sooner than they are attack’d with the violent Fevers, and the Burning which attends that Distemper, fling themselves over Head in the Water, in the very Extremity of the Disease; which shutting up the Pores, hinders a kindly Evacuation of the pestilential Matter, and drives it back; by which Means Death most commonly ensues; not but in other Distempers which are epidemical, you may find among ’em Practitioners that have extraordinary Skill and Success in removing those morbifick Qualities which afflict ’em, not often going above 100 Yards from their Abode for their Remedies, some of their chiefest Physicians commonly carrying their Compliment of Drugs continually about them, which are Roots, Barks, Berries, Nuts, &c. that are strung upon a Thread. So like a Pomander, the Physician wears them about his Neck. An Indian hath been often found to heal an English-man of a Malady, for the Value of a Match-Coat; which the ablest of our English Pretenders in America, after repeated Applications, have deserted the Patient as incurable; God having furnish’d every Country with specifick Remedies for their peculiar Diseases.

{Rum.} Rum, a Liquor now so much in Use with them, that they will part with the dearest Thing they have, to purchase it; and when they have got a little in their Heads, are the impatients Creatures living, ’till they have enough to make ’em quite drunk; and the most miserable Spectacles when they are so, some falling into the Fires, burn their Legs or Arms, contracting the Sinews, and become Cripples all their Life-time; others from Precipices break their Bones and Joints, with abundance of Instances, yet none are so great to deter them from that accurs’d Practice of Drunkenness, though sensible how many of them (are by it) hurry’d into the other World before their Time, as themselves oftentimes will confess. The Indians, I was now speaking of, were not content with the common Enemies that lessen and destroy their Country-men, but invented an infallible Stratagem to purge their Tribe, and reduce their Multitude into far less Numbers. Their Contrivance was thus, as a Trader amongst them inform’d me.

They seeing several Ships coming in, to bring the English Supplies from Old England, one chief Part of their Cargo being for a Trade with the Indians, some of the craftiest of them had observ’d, that the Ships came always in at one Place, which made them very confident that Way was the exact Road to England; and seeing so many Ships come thence, they believ’d it could not be far thither, esteeming the English that were among them, no better than Cheats, and thought, if they could carry the Skins and Furs they got, themselves to England, which were inhabited with a better Sort of People than those sent amongst them, that then they should purchase twenty times the Value for every Pelt they sold Abroad, in Consideration of what Rates they sold for at Home. The intended Barter was exceeding well approv’d of, and after a general Consultation of the ablest Heads amongst them, it was, `Nemine Contradicente’, agreed upon, immediately to make an Addition of their Fleet, by building more Canoes, and those to be of the best Sort, and biggest Size, as fit for their intended Discovery. Some Indians were employ’d about making the Canoes, others to hunting, every one to the Post he was most fit for, all Endeavours tending towards an able Fleet and Cargo for Europe. The Affair was carry’d on with a great deal of Secrecy and Expedition, so as in a small Time they had gotten a Navy, Loading, Provisions, and Hands ready to set Sail, leaving only the Old, Impotent, and Minors at Home, ’till their successful Return. {They never hearing more of their Fleet.} The Wind presenting, they set up their Mat-Sails, and were scarce out of Sight, when there rose a Tempest, which it’s suppos’d carry’d one Part of these Indian Merchants, by Way of the other World, whilst the others were taken up at Sea by an English Ship, and sold for Slaves to the Islands. The Remainder are better satisfy’d with their Imbecilities in such an Undertaking, nothing affronting them more, than to rehearse their Voyage to England.

There being a strong Current in Santee-River, caus’d us to make small Way with our Oars. With hard Rowing, we got that Night to Mons. Eugee’s House, which stands about fifteen Miles up the River, being the first Christian dwelling we met withal in that Settlement, and were very courteously receiv’d by him and his Wife.

Many of the French follow a Trade with the Indians, living very conveniently for that Interest. There is about seventy Families seated on this River, who live as decently and happily, as any Planters in these Southward Parts of America. The French being a temperate industrious People, some of them bringing very little of Effects, yet by their Endeavours and mutual Assistance amongst themselves, (which is highly to be commended) have out-stript our English, who brought with ’em larger Fortunes, though (as it seems) less endeavour to manage their Talent to the best Advantage. ‘Tis admirable to see what Time and Industry will (with God’s Blessing) effect. Carolina affording many strange Revolutions in the Age of a Man, daily Instances presenting themselves to our View, of so many, from despicable Beginnings, which in a short Time arrive to very splended Conditions. Here Propriety hath a large Scope, there being no strict Laws to bind our Privileges. A Quest after Game, being as freely and peremptorily enjoy’d by the meanest Planter, as he that is the highest in Dignity, or wealthiest in the Province. Deer, and other Game that are naturally wild, being not immur’d, or preserv’d within Boundaries, to satisfy the Appetite of the Rich alone. A poor Labourer, that is Master of his Gun, &c. hath as good a Claim to have continu’d Coarses of Delicacies crouded upon his Table, as he that is Master of a greater Purse.

We lay all that Night at Mons. Eugee’s, and the next Morning set out farther, to go the Remainder of our Voyage by Land: At ten a Clock we pass’d over a narrow, deep Swamp, having left the three Indian Men and one Woman, that had pilotted the Canoe from Ashly-River, having hir’d a Sewee-Indian, a tall, lusty Fellow, who carry’d a Pack of our Cloaths, of great Weight; notwithstanding his Burden, we had much a-do to keep pace with him. At Noon we came up with several French Plantations, meeting with several Creeks by the Way, the French were very officious in assisting with their small Dories to pass over these Waters, (whom we met coming from their Church) being all of them very clean and decent in their Apparel; their Houses and Plantations suitable in Neatness and Contrivance. They are all of the same Opinion with the Church of Geneva, there being no Difference amongst them concerning the Punctilio’s of their Christian Faith; which Union hath propagated a happy and delightful Concord in all other Matters throughout the whole Neighbourhood; living amongst themselves as one Trible, or Kindred, every one making it his Business to be assistant to the Wants of his Country-man, preserving his Estate and Reputation with the same Exactness and Concern as he does his own; all seeming to share in the Misfortunes, and rejoyce at the Advance, and Rise, of their Brethren.

Towards the Afternoon, we came to Mons. L’Jandro, where we got our Dinner; there coming some French Ladies whilst we were there, who were lately come from England, and Mons. L’Grand, a worthy Norman, who hath been a great Sufferer in his Estate, by the Persecution in France, against those of the Protestant Religion: This Gentleman very kindly invited us to make our Stay with him all Night, but we being intended farther that Day, took our Leaves, returning Acknowledgments of their Favours.

About 4 in the Afternoon, we pass’d over a large Ciprus run in a small Canoe; the French Doctor sent his Negro to guide us over the Head of a large Swamp; so we got that Night to Mons. Galliar’s the elder, who lives in a very curious contriv’d House, built of Brick and Stone, which is gotten near that Place. Near here comes in the Road from Charles-Town, and the rest of the English Settlement, it being a very good Way by Land, and not above 36 Miles, altho’ more than 100 by Water; and I think the most difficult Way I ever saw, occasion’d by Reason of the multitude of Creeks lying along the Main, keeping their Course thro’ the Marshes, turning and winding like a Labyrinth, having the Tide of Ebb and Flood twenty Times in less than three Leagues going.