There it was, in the tree above them, and plainly to be seen, if only the boys would lift their eyes to the right place! But they look above and beneath, to the right and to the left, and never see that beautiful crotch - exactly what they want and have been long searching for.
For the situation is, briefly, this:
These boys are "going West"; another pack-saddle is needed to transport thither the family chattels; and to make the saddle, they must have the fork of a tree bent in just such a curve as will fit the sides of their horse, Jack. Such a crotch has been easily found for Jill - the trouble is Jack is harder to fit.
The boys trudging homeward, are accosted in shrill chorus by a troop of brothers and sisters. Even the twins, Joab and Joel, add their small treble - piping out as they toddle along, the question that all are asking, "Didn't you find one?"
The big brothers rather crossly suggest that the assembled group - four boys and three girls - should themselves find "one," otherwise a crotch.
There is reason for hurrying their preparations, for yesterday a neighbor coming "in" from the Wilderness had given their mother a copy of the "Richmond Gazette," which contained the following "notice"-.
ďA large company will meet on May 4th at Martin's Cabin, in Powell's Valley, in order to make an early start for the Kentuckee on the morning of May 5th. As the journey through the Wilderness is very dangerous, on account of the Indians, it is hoped each person will go well armed, and not depend on others to defend them."
One might think that in such conditions a mother with eleven children and no protector, for her husband had recently died, would change her mind about "going West"! Especially if, as in this case, the horrors of an Indian attack were a matter of experience, and sorrowful memory.
We, too, remember the tragic day when Daniel Boone's son was killed by Indians. That horrible experience, as was said, induced the greater number of Boone's party to return to the Yadkin, and among them was the family of James Haworth. His daughter Jemima, spirited, courageous and resolute, would nevertheless have gone on to Kentucky, had not her love and care for her mother been even greater than her desire to reach the new country.
It so happens that Jemima Haworth of the Yadkin, and Mrs. John Wright of South Carolina, the mother of these boys and girls, are one and the same, and this time the fearless woman is not to be turned back by any lions - or Indians - in the path.
For in South
Carolina, as we have discovered, there are no schools, and Jemima Wright, of
fine mind and well taught, is ambitious for her sons and daughters. Besides it
is not fair to say she has no protector, for her oldest boys are fine, manly
fellows, on whom she may well "depend," Indians or no
At all events, she is going to Ohio, that alluring country "where no child need be more than a mile from a school-house"!
Sunday comes, and busy as they are, the family puts aside all preparations for the journey, and go in a body to a camp- meeting, held in the woods nearby; the rude pulpit is directly under a certain wide-branching tree. The preacher, "lining out" the words of a hymn, lifts his eyes to the tree. Suddenly, he comes to a pause; looking intently upward, he points his finger to a branch above him. "Right in thar," he says, "if anybody needs one, thar's a turrible fine crotch for a pack- saddle."
Jesse and James, Joseph and John Wright eagerly start forward, but the preacher calmly finishes, "and it'll stay thar, I reckon, till this sarvice is through." It did; but during the nooning" the Wright boys lost no time in cutting off the tempting fork and in a very short time the saddle was ready for its load.
Now, they say Good-bye - a life- long farewell and a tearful one - to their many friends and relatives, and start off, the mother riding Jerry, the big bay horse, and carrying before her in turn the younger children - Jane and Joshua and tiny Jemima.
Joab and Joel jounce along in baskets fastened to the saddle of Jack the pack horse, whose mate, Jill, comes plodding after, laden with a motley collection of goods and chattels.
In front of their mother, Jesse and James, the oldest boys, tramp steadily on, keeping the while a careful lookout. Behind the horses, travel two cows, two pigs and two sheep, with Judith and Jonah doing their best to keep them somewhere near the narrow trail. They are greatly aided in these efforts by their active little dog, Jowler. Joseph and John, next in age to Jesse and James, form a watchful rear-guard.
Yes; their names do all begin with "J"! and we have made this discovery more quickly than did the father and mother - John and Jemima - for they did not note the fact until after they had called the twins - poor babies! - Joab and Joel.
After that the children had great fun in finding "J" names for those other beloved members of their family - the horses and the dog. It was the more difficult for them, for they had not the Bible to go to, as had their parents.
The cavalcade moves on, having, naturally, some jolly and jubilant times, for, at first, no Indians appear; and there is truly much fun in tramping and camping - when the weather is bright, and when all goes well.
The mother's chief anxiety is to reach Martin's cabin on the appointed day - it were indeed a calamity should they fail to meet that large and "well-armed" company! So they make all possible haste, the mother walking for many a mile, while Jerry patiently carries as many children as his broad back will hold.
They thus make quicker progress and finally reach Powell's Valley, dark under the long shadows of the mountains, and just as the sun is setting on May 4th, they arrive safely at "Martin's," where are already a goodly company, and among them some of the Yadkin kinsfolk, who warmly greet Jemima, and their numerous and plucky small cousins.
The small cousins meanwhile think themselves in clover, for never have they seen such bustle and activity as at "Martin's" - a sort of outfitting station for the long wilderness journey.
Many of the immigrants have come from Virginia - in clumsy vehicles, over desperate roads; but at this point the cart track fails and all wagons must be left behind. So there is much packing of saddles, and making of bundles, and also much rounding up of stray cattle and pigs.
Finally the long procession, with well-seasoned pioneers going before, walking alongside, and bringing up the rear, begins the ascent to Cumberland Gap.
The Wright children, having lived all their lives until now in South Carolina, have, of course, never been to school; but their mother has taught the older ones to read and write. The best scholars among them are Judith and Joshua - and the mother has bestowed upon Judith the honor of keeping a little diary of this wonderful journey to send home some day to the friends in South Carolina.
Here are some of the little girl's entries:
May 5, Thursday
We all pakt up and started to cross Cumberland gap. Soon we met maney peopel turned back for fear of the Indians, but our company still goes on with good courage.
This is a verey Bad hilley way. We came to a creek with verey steep banks - we had to cross it several times. The horses almost got mired, some fell in, and their loads got wet. We camped on this creek.
May 7. This morning was a turrible flustration amongst the horses. One got scared and ran away, threw down the Saddle-Baggs and broke three of our powder gourds. Then one hors burst open a wallet of corn and lost a good deal and all the loose horses ran away. Peter's mair run against a sapling and noct it down. We catched them all again.
May 8. Our shoes are all wore out. Cousin Haworth gave us some elkskin to make new ones, but the awls were all lost. So Jesse made one out of the Shank of an old fishing hook and James made one from a hors shoe nail. Mother helped us and we made moccosons. Moccosons are not as good as shoes, they soak up water and get verey hevey.
May 10. Today a bear nearly killed Jowler, Joseph rubbed bear-oil on him and cousin Haworth carried him on his horse until he was well.
We could not do without the dogs. When they act queer we know there are Indians not far away, and often they find cows that have lost themselves in the woods.
We had a fine supper, bear Stakes and jonnycake.
May 11. We do get most turible tired of crossing of creeks. We have crost Bear creek fifty times. Every time we crost Joshua made a notch in a stick. He says sixty times but I know better How to add figgers and I say that there are only 50 nicks in the stick.
May 12. We past some great trees today. Jesse meshured one of them, it is fourty feet around it. Cousin Haworth says it is a sign of good land, so Jesse cleared a little place and planted some corn and some peach stones, and Gashed the trees with his indian hatchet. This means that he will come back some day to live here.
May 13. The Sabbath.
May 14. Today we past some apple trees and some peach trees. I said why did not the peopel who Planted them come back to live there? Jesse said not to tell mother the reason was that they had all been killed by indians - cept two little children, they Had to go home with the indians. I don't want to be a indian's little girl. We had no bread today.
May 15. The woods were so dark, it seemed like bed time all day long, and we came to a turrible place and the path was lost, they said to us children keep on keep on. we couldn't and were scart and cryed. Besides we was turrible Hungry and all the peopel sot down and said it's no use to try. We can't go enny father. Mother is never scart and she said Let's sing 'Tis by the faith of joys to come. Once at home we heard the soldier's music. Mother's voice sounded just like that. She began to sing:
"Tis by the faith of joys to come
We walk through
deserts dark as night
Till we arrive at heaven our home
Faith is our guide and faith our light. "
"Cheerful we tread the desert though
While faith inspires a heavenly ray;
Though lions roar, and tempests blow
And rocks and dangers fill the way."
"So Abram by divine command,
Left his own house to walk with God;
His faith beheld the promised land
And fired his zeal along the road."
Everybody soon stopped crying and groening and sang out good and Loud: after that Preacher Logan prayed. Then everybody said Let's try again and everybody helped Everybody to find the path and clime the rocks and cross the creeks and pretty soon we saw lite thru the trees and we came out of the woods into a Beautiful place, all sunshiny grass and red flowers and a brook running along fast and birds were singing. The men shot wild turkys and mother helped to roast them over the fire. Everybody said they were the Best Turkys they ever had.
May 16. Last nite a Wolf came into the camp. He bit little Jemima's hand and Jemima screamed fearful.
May 17. We are in the dark woods again. Today Jesse was riding Dan Sevier's hors on a awful narrer edge of road. The horses leg slipt over and roled down a turrible steap Place. We thought Jesse was daid. Mother Gave him Sal Voltel and he opened his eyes and now he is well. The hors was scart but not Hurt.
May 18. To-day James and Joseph clim a mounting and was turrible scart, 'cause they saw marks of 2 indians feet, and presst down bushes.
May 19. Joshua and me saw great birds flying round and round over the trees. We told James he said to Jesse that means indians, but I didn't mean indians I meant birds, turky- buzzards like we had at home.
May 20. The Sabbath.
May 21. Peopel was turrible scart over them Buzzards. They say indians indians. We can't hav enny fire in camp tonight - so the indians won't see the smoke.
May 22. All the time peopel are passing along the Path going back to Verginya and north Carolina because of indians. Every night now all we children are afraid. But Joshua says he is not afraid of indians or wolves or anything. I spose he means 'cept a snake, cause he ran away from one yesterday.
May 23. Today we came to a salt lick, there were kettles there and men making salt, other men were standing around with guns. They had found some big bones in the ground, and some teeth that were five feet long. The beast must have had a turrible large mouth.
May 24. There are turrible noises in the woods, howels and screams and softly sounds, Indians I spose. We children are scart, but mother and Jesse and James tell us never fear, it will be all rite.
May 25. We are awl turrible, turrible scart. This morning before it was lite, the indians cairn to our camp. Thar was a boy who had a hors but he said he liked to walk. When I was Tired with walking he askt me to ride. He was a awful nice boy and the indians killed him.
I don't want to rite any more in my Book.
After this there are more "turrible" happenings. Nevertheless this family of "J's" keep resolutely on; turning at length from the Wilderness trail to the "Warriors' Path," whose very name might frighten away a nervous person; for by this trail Ohio Indians had for many long years crossed the land of Kentucky.
They reach at last the Ohio River. Here they must wait awhile, for a chance to go down the river.
This is no hardship, however, for nothing could be to the children a finer sight than the great waters, on which pass at short intervals, carrying parties of settlers, pirogues, Kentucky "broad-horns" and "arks."
As evening comes on a big keel boat comes in sight, and never in all their lives will these listeners forget the sweetness of the music of the boatman's horn, and the steersman's calls of "lift" and "set," which softly echo and re-echo along the valley and among the distant hills, "like horns of elf- land faintly blowing." The next morning, along comes a great flatboat, having already on board passengers and freight, but happily there is room for the "J's" and for all their belongings. They have a rather exciting time getting all the animals on board; a sorrowful time, too, for Jowler, in his efforts to drive the pigs in the right direction, somehow catches his foot, and in trying to jerk it loose he breaks one of his legs - to the great dismay and grief of his loving owners.
A group on deck - a soldier, his wife and his very pretty daughter, are watching the new arrivals with much interest. The pretty girl does more than that. She holds the bridles of Jack and Jill until Jesse comes to relieve her. As he does so she hears the sharp yelps of poor Jowler. "I know what to do," she says, and from that moment the dog is as happy as a dog with a broken leg can be, and as for that, under the skillful Nancy's tender treatment, the leg does not remain broken very long.
One day as their big boat, helped along with a sail, is gliding down the river, a man comes down to the shore and makes signs to be taken on board.
The captain is an old pioneer and knows well this Indian device; he pays no attention to the call, but keeps a sharp lookout. Presently out from the shore come swiftly several large canoes filled with Indians, fully armed.
The captain sharply orders all the women and children to lie down flat on their faces and not to move or make any noise. After this there is, as little Judith would say a "turrible" time. The canoes surround the boat, some of the Indians board it, and for a few moments all seems over for the boat and its passengers.
But by swift action the captain and crew at last get the victory and the savages sullenly withdraw. Now, and not until now, it is seen that one of the "J's" has been hurt. It is Joshua.
He goes to his mother and asks her to take a bullet from the top of his head, and to "fix" his elbow - and there, sure enough, hangs from it a piece of bone. The Indians had shot him twice! Said his mother in horror: "Why did you not tell me before, Joshua?" "Because," said the little chap firmly, "the captain told us not to make a noise, and I knew if I told you, you would make a noise!"
So went life on the Ohio in the days of the Great Immigration. Only perhaps there was not always on board a tender Nancy to bind up the wounds!
They float on down the river, stopping at last at a point opposite the Licking River. We mention this because it in a measure accounts for the queer name first given to the terraces, the hills back of them, the fort and cluster of log cabins on the Ohio side of the river - Losantiville (which you will see, if you read it backward, means "the city opposite the mouth of the Licking!") Happily the name was changed to Cincinnati, in honor of the soldiers who were now about to turn their swords to plow-shares. On paper, the city is all planned and laid out, with Philadelphia as a model; even the streets - to be - are named after the city of Brotherly Love. Our friends all land here; those from Maine and those from South Carolina. The latter make a long procession, for notwithstanding the perils of the way they are all safely here, the mother and her eleven children, the recovered Jowler, the cows and sheep and pigs - Jerry and Jack and Jill. On their way from the river they meet a man coming down to the landing hoping to buy two pack-horses from someone on the boat; he has taken a large section of what will be in the future the heart of Cincinnati, but wants now to go elsewhere. So he offers Mrs. Wright the whole tract of land in exchange for Jack and Jill!
But her children listen to his pleadings in horror. Sell Jack and Jill ! ! ! Breathlessly they listen for their mother's answer:
It comes quickly - Mother Jemima is always prompt and decided. "No" she says, "NO; I will not sell the pack- horses." Else might her descendants be now part owners of the great city of Cincinnati!
But the much relieved children travel on to their journey's end - Joab and Joel still jouncing along in great content, the others trudging cheerily after.
And they do reach at length the promised land, "where no child need be more than a mile from a school." Here amidst perils of Indians, and through much hard work, a home is won from the wilderness, and here the "J's" and the pretty Nancy grew up to a fine manhood and womanhood and - so far as is known - lived happy ever after.
Return to Family Notes Index to Chapter VIII