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The Settlement of the Appalachian Frontier: April 2005

The Settlement of the Appalachian Frontier

Sharing information, stories, and ideas for teaching students about the settlement of the Appalachian Frontier. Focusing on the little-known people and history of Southwestern Virginia, Northeast Tennessee, and Eastern Kentucky.

Location: Nickelsville, Virginia, United States

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

The Expedition of Batts and Fallam

John Clayton's Transcript of the Journal of Robert Fallam
Extract from a letter of John Clayton to the Royal Society, August 17, 1688
& "John Mitchell's Remarks on the Journal of Batts and Fallam"

A Journal from Virginia, beyond the Apailachian mountains, in Sept. 1671. Sent to the Royal Society by Mr. Clayton, and read Aug. 1, 1688, before the said Society142 Thomas Batts,143 Thomas Woods and Robert Follows 144 having received a commission from the honourable Major General Wood for the finding out the ebbing and flowing of the Waters on the other side of the Mountaines in order to the discovery of the South Sea accompanied with Penecute a great man of the Apomatack Indians and Jack Weason, formerly a servant to Major General Wood with five horses set for ward from the Apomatacks town about eight of the clock in the morning, being Friday Sept. I, 1671. That day we145 traveled above forty miles, took up our quarters and found that we had travel'd from the Okenechee path due west.
Sept. 2. we traveled about forty-five miles and came to our quarters at Sun set and found we were to the north of the West.
Sept. 3. we traveled west and by south and about three o'clock came to a great swamp a mile and a half or two miles over and very difficult to pass. we led our horses thro' and waded twice over a River emptying itself in Roanoake River. After we were over we went northwest and so came round and took up our quarters west. This day we traveled forty miles good.
Sept 4. We set forward and about two of the clock arriv'd at the Sapiny * Indian town. We travelled south and by west course till about even[ing] and came to the Saponys west. Here we were very joyfully and kindly received with firing of guns and plenty of provisions. We here hired a Sepiny Indian to be our guide towards the Teteras, 146 a nearer way than usual.
Sept. 5. Just as we were ready to take horse and march from the Sapiny's about seven of the clock in the Morning we heard some guns go off from the other side of the River. They were siven Apomatack Indians sent by Major General Wood to accompany us in our Voyage. We hence sent back a horse belonging to Mr. Thomas Wood, which was tired, by a Portugal, belonging to Major General Wood, whom we here found.147 About eleven of the clock we set forward and that night came to the town of the Hanathaskies which we judge to be twenty-five miles from the Sapenys, they are lying west and by north in an Island on the Sapony River,148 a rich Land.
Sept. 6. About eleven of the clock we set forward from the Hanathaskies; but left Mr. Thomas Wood at the town dangerously sick of the Flux, and the horse he rode on belonging to Major General Wood was likewise taken with the staggers and a failing in his hinder parts. Our course was this day West and by South and we took up our quarters West about twenty miles from the town. This afternoon our horses stray'd away about ten of the clock.149
Sept. 7. We set forward, about three of the clock we had sight of the mountains, we travelled twenty-five miles over very hilly and stony Ground our course westerly.
Sept. 8. We set out by sunrise and Travelled all day a west and by north course. About one of the clock we came to a Tree mark'd in the past with a coal M.A N I. About four of the clock we came to the foot of the first mountain went to the top and then came to a small descent, and so did rise again and then till we came almost to the bottom was a very steep descent. We travelled all day over very stony, rocky ground and after thirty miles travill this day we came to our quarters at the foot of the mountains due west. We past the Sapony River twice this day.
Sept. 9. We were stirring with the Sun and travelled west and after a little riding came again to the Supany River where it was very narrow, and ascended the second mountain which wound up west and by south with several springs and fallings, after which we came to a steep descent at the foot whereof was a lovely descending Valley about six miles over with curious small risings...150 Our course over it was southwest. After we were over that, we came to a very steep descent, at the foot whereof stood the Tetera Town151 in a very rich swamp between a branch and the main River of Roanoke circled about with mountains. We got thither about three of the clock after we had travelled twenty-five miles. Here we were exceedingly civilly entertain'd.
[Sept. 9-11] Saturday night, Sunday and monday we staid at the Toteras. Perceute being taken very sick of a fever and ague every afternoon, not withstanding on tuesday morning about nine of the clock we resolved to leave our horses with the Toteras and set forward.152
Sept. 12. We left the town West and by North we travell'd that day sometimes southerly, sometimes westerly as the path went over several high mountains and steep Values crossing several branches and the River Roanoke several times all exceedingly stony ground until about four of the clock Perceute being taken with his fit and verry weary we took up our quarters by the side of Roanoke River almost at the head of it at the foot of the great mountain. Our course was west by north, having travill'd twentyfive miles. At the Teteras we hired one of their Indians for our Guide and left one of the Apomatock Indians there sick.153
Sept. 13.154 In the morning we set forward early. After we had travelled about three miles we came to the foot of the great mountain and found a very steep ascent so that we could scarse keep ourselves from sliding down again. It continued for three miles with small intermissions of better way. right up by the path on the left we saw the proportions of the Mon.155 (whereof they have given an account it seems in a former relation which I have not. - Note by Mr. Clayton). When we were got up to the Top of the mountain and set down very weary we saw very high mountains lying to the north and south as far as we could discern. Our course up the mountain was west by north. A very small descent on the other side and as soon as over we found the values tending westerly. It was a pleasing tho' dreadful sight to see the mountains and Hills as if piled one upon another. After we had travelled about three miles from the mountains, easily descending ground about twelve of the clock we came to two trees mark'd with a coal MA NI. the other cut in with MA and several other scratchments.
Hard by a Run just like the swift creek at Mr. Randolph's in Virginia,"' emptying itself sometimes westerly sometimes northerly with curious meadows on each [side. Going forward we found rich ground but having curious rising hills and brave meadows with grass about man's hight. many rivers running west-north-west and several Runs from the southerly mountains which we saw as we march'd, which run northerly into the great River. After we had travelled about seven miles we came to a very steep descent where are found a great Run,157 which emptied itself so we supposed into the great River northerly, our course being as the path went, west-south-west. We set forward west and had not gone far but we met again with the River, still broad running west and by north. We went over the great run emptying itself northerly into the great River. After we had marched about six miles northwest and by north we came to the River again where it was much broader than at the two other places. It ran here west and by south and so as we suppose round up westerly. Here we took up our quarters, after we had waded over, for the night. Due west, the soil, the farther we went [is] the richer and full of bare meadows and old fields."' ["Old fields" is a common expression for land that has been cultivated by the Indians and left fallow, which are generally overrun with what they call broom grass. - MR. CLAYTON.]
Sept.14. We set forward before sunrise our provisions being all spent we travel'd as the path went sometimes westerly sometimes southerly over good ground but stony, sometimes rising hills and then steep Descents as we march'd in a clear place at the top of a hill we saw lying south west a curious prospect of hills like waves raised by a gentle breese of wind rising one upon another. Mr. Batts supposed he saw sayles; but I rather think them to be white clifts.160 We marched about twenty miles this day and about three of the clock we took up our quarters to see if the Indians could kill us some Deer. being west 'and by north, very weary and hungry and Perceute continued very ill yet desired to go forward. We came this day over several brave runs and hope tomorrow to see the main River again.
Sept. 15. Yesterday in the afternoon and this day we lived a Dog's life- hunger and ease. Our Indians having done their best could kill us no meat. The Deer they said were in such herds and the ground so dry that one or other of them could spy them. About one of the clock we set forward and went about fifteen miles over some exceedingly good, some indifferent ground, a west and by north course till we came to a great run that empties itself west and by north as we suppose into the great River which we hope is nigh at hand. As we march'd we met with some wild gooseberries and exceeding large haws with which we were forced to feed ourselves.
Sept 16. Our guides went from us yesterday and we saw him no more till we returned to the Toras.161 Our Indians went aranging betimes to see and kill us some Deer or meat. One came and told us they heard a Drum and a Gun go off to the northwards. They brought us some exceedingly good Grapes and killed two turkies which were very welcome and with which we feasted ourselves and about ten of the clock set forward and after we had travelled about ten miles one of our Indians killed us a Deer and presently afterwards we had sight of a curious River like Apamatack River.162 Its course here was north and so as we suppose runs west about certain curious mountains we saw westward. Here we had up our quarters, our course having been west. We understand the Mohecan 163 Indians did here formerly live. It cannot be long since for we found corn stalks in the ground.
Sept. 17. Early in the morning we went to seek some trees to mark our Indians being impatient of longer stay by reason it was like to be bad weather, and that it was so difficult to get provisions. Vice found four trees exceeding fit for our purpose that had been half bared by our Indians, standing after one the other. We first proclaimed the King in these words: "Long live Charles the Second, by the grace of God King of England, Scotland, France. Ireland and Virginia and of all the Territories thereunto be longing, Defender of the faith etc." firing some guns and went to the first tree which we marked thus [symbol] with a pair of marking irons for his sacred majesty. Then the next [symbol] for the right honourable Governor Sir William Berkley, the third thus [symbol] for the honourable Major General Wood. The last thus: [symbol] RF. P. for Perceute who said he would learn Englishman."' And on another tree hard by stand these letters one under another'' TT. NP. VE. R after we had done we went ourselves down to the river side; but not without great difficulty it being a piece of very rich ground where on the Moketans166. had formerly lived, and grown up with weeds and small prickly Locusts and Thistles to a very great height that it was almost impossible to pass. It cost us hard labour to get thro'. When we came to the River side we found it better and broader than expected, much like James River at Col. Stagg's, the falls much like these falls.167 We imagined by the Water marks it flaws here about three feat. It was ebbing Water when we were here. We set up a stick by the Water side but found it ebb very slowly. Our Indians kept such a hollowing that we durst not stay any longer to make further tryal. Immediately upon coming to our quarters we returned homewards and when we were on the top of a Hill we turned about and saw over against us, westerly, over a certain delightful hill a fog arise and a glimmering light as from water. We supposed there to be a great Bay.168 We came to the Totems Tuesday night where we found our horses, and ourselves wel entertain'd. We immediately had the news of Mr. Byrd and his great company's Discoveries three miles from the Tetera's Town. We have found Mohetan Indians who having intelligence of our coming were afraid it had been to fight them and had sent him to the Totem's to inquire. We gave him satisfaction to the contrary and that we came as friends, presented him with three or four shots of powder. He told us by our Interpreter, that we had [been from the mountains half way to the place they now live at. That the next town beyond them lived upon plain level, from whence came abundance of salt. That he could inform us no further by reason that there were a great company of Indians that lived upon the great Water.
Sept. 21. After very civil entertainment we came from the Toteras and on Sunday morning the 24th we came to the Hanahaskies. We found Mr. Wood dead and burried and his horse likewise dead. After civil entertainment, with firing of guns at parting which is more than usual.
Sept. 25. on monday morning we came from thence and reached to the Sapony's that night where we stayed till wednesday.
Sept. 27. We came from thence they having been very courteous to us. At night we came to the Apamatack Town, hungry, wet and weary.
Oct. 1 being Sunday morning we arrived at Fort Henry. God's holy name be praised for our preservation.169
Extract from a Letter * of Mr. Clayton to the Royal Society, read to them October 24, 1688170
WAKEFIELD, Aug. 17, 1688.My last was the journal of Thomas Batt, Thomas Woods, and Robert Fallam. I know Col. Byrd, that is mentioned to have been about that time as far as the Toteras. He is one of the intelligentest Gentlemen in all Virginia, and knows more of Indian affairs than any man in the Country. I discoursed him about the River on the other side the Mountains said to ebb and flow, which he assured me was a mistake in them, for that it must run into a Lake now call'd Petite, which is fresh water, for since that time a Colony of the French are come down from Canadas, and have seated themselves in the back of Virginia, where Fallam171 and the rest supposed there might be a Bay, but is a Lake, to which they have given the name of Lake Petite there being several large lakes betwixt that and Canada. The French possessing themselves of these Lakes, no doubt will in a short time be absolutely Masters of the Beaver trade, the greatest number of Beavers being caught there. The Colonel told me likewise that the communication of the Lake of Canada, he was assured, was a mistake, for the River supposed to come out of it had no communication with any of the Lakes, or they with one another, but were distinct.
1671, Sept. 1 They travell'd 40 miles from the Apomatack's Town.2. 45 miles.3. 40 miles.4.. Arrived at Sapiny till two o'clock.5. Came to Hanahasky 25 miles from Sapiny.6. 20 miles.7. 25 miles.8. Came to the foot of the first mountain due west, 30 miles9. Came to Toteras Town, 25 miles.12 Leave Totera and come to the River Roanoke, almost at the head, 25 miles.13. 22 miles.14. 14 miles.15. 15 miles.16. 10 and see a large River running north.17. they proclaim'd K. Ch. 2.
Remarks * on the Journal of Batts and Fallam; in their Discovery o f the Western Parts of Virginia in 1671172 [by John Mitchell, M.D., F.R.S.] 173
This discovery of Batts and Fallam is well known in the history of Virginia, and there is no manner of doubt of its being authentic, altho' it has not yet been published by the Royal Society. The account given of this Discovery by R. B. (Robert Beverley, Esqr., a Gentleman of note and distinction in the Countrey, who was well acquainted with it and its History) agrees very well with this original account of it; altho' he is not so particular in describing the place that these Discoverers went to, that we may be able to fix upon the Spot, which I think we may do from the journal itself, and that from the following considerations.
1. The Appamatuck Town, the Place that they went from, is well known in Virginia to this day, at least the River it stood upon, which is the Southern Branch of James River, that is well known by the name of Appamattox; and Capt. Smith, who was at this Town of Appamatuck, as he calls it, laies it down on the River of Appomatox, a little below the Falls, opposite to where the Towns of Petersburg or Blandford now stand; as may be seen by comparing his map of Virginia with our Map of North America.*
2. From this Town of Appamatuck they set out along the Path that leads to Acconeechy, which is an Indian Town on the Borders of Virginia and Carolina, marked in all our Maps; from which path they travelled due west. Now you will see both these Roads laid down in our Map of North America, and exactly as they are described in this journal, they being the two Roads that lead from the Falls of Appamattox River Southward to Carolina, and westward to our Settlements on Wood River174 in Virginia.
3. This Road that goes to the westward, which was the one that our Travellers went, crosses three Branches of Roanoke River, a little below the mountains, just as it is described in the journal, as may be seen by comparing the journal with our Map abovementioned. This .Branch of Roanoke River is called Sapony River in the journal., which has been called Staunton River, (in memory of the Lady of the late Governor of Virginia) ever since the survey of those Parts in running the Boundary Line between Virginia and Carolina in 1729. The Sapony and Totera Indians mentioned in the journal were then removed farther South, upon the Heads of Pede River, as may be seen in the Map of Carolina by Mr. Mosley, one of the surveyors in running that Line; and they are Now removed to the Southward of that, among the Catawbas, as it is well known that all the Indians of those Parts have done for many years, in order to protect themselves against the Iroquois, who have over run all those Parts; and here we find a river that still retains the name of Spongy or Johnston River, but a great way to the southward of the River mentioned in the journal by that name.
4. From these Branches of Roanoke River they passed over the mountains, and came to a large River West of the Mountains, running North and South; which plainly appears from this account of it to have been what we call Wood River in Virginia, which is well known and well settled by our People there, both above and below the Place where these People discovered it; and they frequently pass the Mountains now in going to and from Wood River, about the same place that is described in the journal.
5. Nigh this River they saw from the tops of the Mountains an appearance of a water at a distance, like a Lake, or arm of the Sea. The same observation is made by another Person, Mr. Christopher Gist, who lately surveyed this Countrey hereabouts, and indeed upon the spots described in the journal, as appears from both their Routes as laid down in our Map above-mentioned, which crost one another about the Place where these Discoverers fell in with the Great River, as they call it. The water seen by Gist was known by him to be Wood River a little lower down, where it passes a great Ridge of the Mountains that lye to the westward.
6. When they arrived at this River, they were informed of a numerous and warlike Nation of Indians, that lived on the Great Water, and made Salt, the accounts of whom prevented their going any farther; all which is agreeable to the History of those Times. The Indians they mean were the antient Chawanoes or Chaouanons, who lived to the westward and Northward of the Place that these Discoverers were at; and were at this Time, 1671, engaged in a hot and bloody war with the Iroquois, in which they were so closely pressed at this time, that they were entirely extirpated or incorporated with the Iroquois the year following. These People might make Salt no doubt, as the present Inhabitants of those Parts do, from the many Salt Springs that are found on the Rivers Ohio and Missisipi. And as for the great water that they lived upon, that appears even by name to have been the Missisipi, which is so called from Meseha Cebe, two words in the Indian Language that signify the Great River or Water; so that if we had the Indian name of this Great Water, mentioned by our travellers, instead of the Interpretation of it in English, it is possible it might have been the same with Missisipi; and whether or not, the name they give it we see means the same thing.
7. The Distance that these people travelled was three hundred and thirty-eight miles, besides what they went on the fourth day of their journey, which they do not mention, but by their usual rate of travelling might be about eighteen or twenty `miles, which makes about three hundred and sixty miles in all, and allmost due west. This is much farther to the westward than we lay down Wood River at present, when we have had its true western Distance actually measured, in running the Boundary between Virginia and Carolina. But it is very probable, as Mr. Beverley saies in his History, that these Travellers in passing the Mountains in particular might not advance above three or four miles a Day in a Strait Course. It has been generally found by our Surveyors in the woods of America, as I have been told by some of them, and as appears indeed from their Surveys compared with the Accounts of Travellers, that a true measured distance on a strait course is about one third of the usual Distance computed by Travellers in the woods, where they have no strait Roads and known Distances to guide them. Accordingly we find from these Surveys of the Countrey, that it is about one hundred and forty Miles in a strait course from the Falls of Appomatox River to Wood River in Virginia, which is a little more than one third of the Distance computed by our Discoverers.
Again; it is an usual way to compute Distances in the Woods of America by Dayes journeys, and those that are used to it, come pretty nigh the truth, by allowing twenty-five or thirty Miles a Day according to the Road, which makes about ten Miles a Day in a strait Course. Now these People travelled fifteen Daies, and by this rule must have travelled one hundred and fifty Miles on a strait Road; and accordingly we find it just one hundred and sixty Miles from the Falls of Appomatox River in Virginia, where they set out, to Wood River, upon the Road as it is laid down in our Map of North America, in which the Longitude or western Distances are laid down from the late Surveys of those Parts.
From these several considerations compared together, it plainly appears, that the Great River, as they call it, which these People discovered on the West side of the Mountains of Virginia, was this Branch of the River Ohio that is well known by the name of Wood River; which is the chief and principal Branch of the Ohio, that rises in the Mountains of South Carolina, and running through North Carolina and Virginia, falls into the Ohio about midway between Fort du Quesne and the Missisipi; and the place they discovered it at seems to be about the middle of that River; which has alwaies retained the name of Wood River, from this Major General Wood, or Col. Wood as he is called in Virginia, who we see by the journal was the Author of this Discovery.
This journal then is a plain Narration of well Known Matters of Fact, relating to the Discoveries of those western Parts of Virginia, and that many years before any others even pretend to have made any Discoveries in those or any other of the western Parts of North America, beyond the Apalachean Mountains. It contains likewise plain Proofs of the other Discoveries that were made here and hereabouts some time before, which were made by one Needham, by order of Col. Wood of Virginia; and the inverted Letters, MA., NE. found on the trees by our Travellers, seem to have been the names of these two Persons, cut on the Trees as a Memorial of their Discoveries, as is usually done by Travellers in the Woods, and as we see was done by ours at this Time.175 The many Letters they found on the Trees on Wood River, are likewise plain Proofs of others having been there before them. This is a plain confirmation of what is related by Mr. Coxe176 in a memorial presented by him to King William in 1699, and by several others, that all those western Parts of Virginia were discovered by Col. Wood, in several journies from the year 1654 to 1664.
These Discoveries are the more interesting at this Time, as those Parts are now claimed by the French merely and solely upon a frivolous Pretext of a prior Discovery by Mr. La Salle in 1680; who built the Fort of Crevecour on or below the Lake Pimiteoni in that year, which seems to be the Lake Petite alluded to in the extract of M. Clayton's Letter, from a very imperfect knowledge of it; which Lake upon the River Illinois is not less perhaps than a thousand miles beyond or to the westward of Fort du Quesne and the other places the French now claim on the River Ohio in consequence of that Discovery as they call it.
Besides M. La Salle had even that Discovery of his, that has been so much extolled and magnifyed, from the English; who by being so well settled in so many Parts of this Continent, might surely very naturally conclude and easily know from many accounts of the Natives, that there was a very extensive Continent to the westward of them; which these Discoveries in Virginia, as well as the Travels of Ferdinando Soto through Florida and over the Rio Grande, as he calls it, or the Missisipi, in 1541, that had been published to the world, might give them some more particular ac, count of, and excite their curiosity to make farther Discoveries in it. Accordingly, in the year 1678, a Party of People from New-England discovered all the western Parts of America to the Northward of Virginia, as far as the Missisipi, and a great way beyond it; which Discovery of the English gave occasion to the Discovery of the same Parts two years afterwards, by Mr. La Salle; for the Indians who were with the English and served them as Guides in this Discovery went to Canada upon their return. and gave an Account of these Discoveries of the English to the French, who thereupon set out to make the same Discovery; by virtue of which they now pretend to claim nine tenths at least of all the known Parts of the Continent of North America, and all the rest that is not known, which may be-as much more by all accounts!177
It is true, our People have not wrote many Histories of their Discoveries, as the French have, nor even published those that have been wrote, we see, any more than the Spaniards; but that we have made many such Discoveries, appears best from the Settlements that we have made, which compared with those of the French are about twenty to one. In the year 1714, immediately ofter the Treaty of Utrecht, Col. Spotswoode, Governor of Virginia went over the Apalachean Mountains himself in Person, in company with several Gentlemen of the Countrey, that are and have been well known to me, who had a good Road cleared over them, and many Settlements were made beyond those Mountains soon afterwards, both in the Northern and Southern Parts of Virginia, but chiefly in the Northern Parts leading towards the Ohio; which Settlements extended to Logs Town on the River Ohio, long before the late encroachments and usurpations of the French there. The English first settled on the Ohio from Pennsylvania in the year 1725, as appears from their Treaty with the Indians at Albany in y5ยข, and many other accounts. In 1736 those Parts were duely surveyed and laid off by a company of Surveyors as far as the Head Springs of the River Patowmack; and in 1739 or 1740 a Party of People were sent out by the Government of Virginia, and traversed the whole Countrey, down Wood River and the River Ohio, to the Missisipi, and down that River to New Orleans; ... whose journals I have seen and perused, and have made a draught of the Countrey from them, and find them agree with other and later accounts. About that Time a number of People petitioned the Government of Virginia to grant them a Settlement upon the River Missisipi itself, about the mouth of the River Ohio, which they offered to maintain and defend, as well as to settle, at their own charge, so well were all those western Parts of Virginia then known and frequented by our People; but they were refused this Request by our Government itself, who have allwaies prudently thought it more expedient to continue their Settlements contiguous to one another, than to suffer them to be straggling up and down in remote and uncultivated Desarts, as we see the French have done, in order thereby to seem to occupy a greater extent of Territory, whilst in effect they hardly occupy any at all. Yet we are not without many of those Settlements among the Indians likewise, and that in a Countrey which we have purchased from them three several times. In the year 1749 our People made a Settlement among the Twightwee Indians at Pickawillany, which is reckoned by our Traders five hundred Miles beyond Fort du Quesne, to which they were invited by the Natives themselves, who came down to Lancaster in Pennsylvania for that purpose, and made a Treaty to that effect with our People there Jul. 22d., 1749. By this means we had several Settlements all along the River Ohio, and all over the Countrey between that River and Lake Erie, and that long before the French ever set a foot upon it, or knew any thing about it, but by Hearsay. And on the South Side of the Ohio, we are not only well settled on Wood River, that is described in this journal, but likewise on Holston River that lies upwards of one hundred and fifty Miles to the westward of the Place that these People discovered on Wood River in 1671; and. again on Cumberland River that lies as much farther to the westward of that; all which Places and Settlements you will see marked in our Map abovementioned.