Billeder på siden

cend within ten miles of its head; yet those over twelve feet cannot enter the mouths of Mobile river. Owing to the shoalness of the shores of the Bay, no town can be erected below the outlets of the river; consequently the seaport for the Alabama Territory must inevitably be on the river; and on account of the extreine crookedness of the rivers, and the impossibility of ascending them, with practical economy, with Atlantic shipping, the emporium of trade upon these waters will forever be confined to the head of Mobile bay. Whether the town of Mobile is to become the great commercial city, which appears to be about rising up at the outlet of the extensive and interesting waters of Tombigbee and Alabama, or some other place, time will soon determine. However respectable the town of Mobile has become by its great age, the Americans, who are emigrating to that country, seem generally to turn their attention to a new town laid out, in pursuance of an act of the Territorial Legislature, on the east channel of Mobile river. This place is styled in the law the “ Town of Blakeley.It lies six miles north of Mobile bay on the east margin of the main direct ship channel of Mobile river; wbich, from near Fort Stoddert down to the bay, is denominated “ Tensa.” This channel sub-divides in front of Blakeley, and its principal mouth runs south-westerly to near the centre of the head of the bay, where it forms a junction with Spanish river, (which is the main channel into Mobile,) and both make one common channel over the bar, 12 feet deep at high water, and ten at low water-there being but two feet flow of tide ordinarily; and but one flood and one ebb in 24 hours in Mobile bay. The other four mouths of Mobile river have not more than 8 or 9 feet at high water on their bars. Vessels drawing more than 8 feet water must pass up Spanish river-which is the third mouth from the high land-and double an island six miles north of Mobile, and then, with a northerly wind, drop down to town. Vessels of the same draft pass directly from the sea into the port of Blakeley, without the least delay. The harbour of Blakeley is spacious, convenient, and secure; having bold shores on all sides, and entirely landlocked close in. The high lands on which the town stands, shield the shipping entirely from all easterly and southerly gales, which are the only dangerous winds in Mobile bay.

The town of Blakeley is regularly laid out, with streets 99 feet wide, running at right angles, east and west, north and south. It is situated upon two general benches of land;—the one in front on the river (300 feet from the margin) is 25 feet in height above tide-water; then about one quarter of a mile back the ground rises gradually for half a mile, till it gains an ele. vation above the level of the sea of one bundred feet--thence a beautiful plain for nearly a mile, when the land rises into a ridge of two hundred and fifty feet above high water mark.

No town in the United States is better supplied with fresh water, than Blakeley. A great multitude of never-failing copious springs of the purest water issue from the high table of land within the plat of the town, as well as from the high ridge in its rear. So that however extensive the town may become in process of time, all parts may, hy means of aqueducts, be accommodated with a plenty of the best of water. Such a privilege is rarely to be realized in scaports, especially in so warm a climate as that on the coast of Florida. The numerous groves of majestic live oaks, interspersed over the scite of Blakeley, will, with judicious reservations of such as fall within the streets, not only become a great ornament to the town, but he a source of much cornfort to the inhabitants during the influence of an almost vertical sun. This promising town is rapidly improving. Some of the principal merchants' at Mobile, and also several mercantile gentlemen from New-York, Boston, New Orleans, and elsewhere, have recently purchased lots of the original proprietors, and are now erecting suitable ware-houses, stores, and dwelling-houses in Blakeley, preparatory to extensive business there in the fall. There is, at present, a great competition between the proprietors of Blakeley and Mobile. Which town is to take the lead in trade is at present unknown. It will depend much upon the force of capital, and the description of people, who are not yet settled in either town. For the capital there now is very inconsiderable, and the population small. St. Stephens is a flourishing place, and promises to become a town of considerable importance. It is situated on the west bank of the river Tombigbee, about one hundred miles from Mobile by land, and much farther by water. Though this place is marked on many maps as the bead of tide water, still the effectof the tide is never perceptible, except when the river is at its lowest stage, during dry weather. No river can, however, be better adapted to large barge and steam-boat navigation, not only to St. Stephens, but at least four hundred miles above there. This town has at present more trade than the town of Mobile. A few miles above St. Stephens there is a shoal across the bed of the river, when it is very low; but the obstruction is a soft cbalky stone, which can, with a small expense, be shaped so as to turn all the water into one channel, and render it passable at all seasons with five feet water,

At the falls of the Blackwarrior, (the east branch of Tombigbee,) a very flourishing town, in all probability, will ere long be erected. This place being the natural head of boat navigation on that river, in the heart of a fertile country, and being already a village of some trade, no doubt can be entertained of its immediate prosperity. The lands, however, are not yet surveyed, and it is uncertain, therefore, when they will be in market. It may be remarked that merchandise destined to Huntsville in Madison county,(A. T.) passes from that place over land to Tennessee river. I think these falls are 300 miles by water from St. Stephens. On the main Tombigbee no place is yet located for a town as I recollect.

At fort Claiborne, on the Alabama river, 100 miles from Mobile by land, and 40 miles east of St. Stephens, a considerable village has been made since the war, where there is a brisk retail trade to the settlement in its vicinity. It lies on the east side of the river, on very elevated ground, cal. led the Alabama heights.

The town of Jackson lies on the east side of the Tombigbee, ten miles below St. Stephens, near what is called Bassett's Creek. It is regularly laid out and incorporated; has 8 or 10 stores, and is a handsome place, and well watered.

At the falls of Cahaba river, which runs into Alabama, Dearly 100 miles north of fort Claiborne from the north-west, and is a fellow to the Blackwarrior, a town of some importance will probably be established when the lands are sold. Boats ascend to this place with facility, except in dry times. Considerable settlements are making on this river.

At the mouth of this river, or in its vicinity, an important town will, undoubtedly, soon be located. The lands are now selling at Milledgeville in Georgia; and the most extensive body of good land lies east of Alabama and about this place of any part of the Creek cession.

It has been thought by many that a large town would forthwith spring up at fort Jackson in the fork of Coosa and Tallapoosa rivers; but, as the Indian boundary is within ten miles of that place, in my opinion it will not be the case, till the United States acquire the lands up those rivers. Fort Jackson is 500 miles from Mobile by the meanders of the river, and good barge pavigation extends to that place at all seasons.

It is impossible to foresee where every flourishing inland town is to be permanent in a new country; so much depends on the effect of capital, and leading roads where head of navigation does not settle the question. Great speculations are constantly agitating the minds of the adventurers with regard to the location of towns, and every discerning prudent man will calculate for himself on this subject.

Huntsville, in Madison County, and now in the Alabama Territory, is a very prosperous inland town: it lies north of the Great Bend of Tennessee river, near the 35th degree of latitude, or south line of the state of Tennessee. The extensive bodies of land of the first quality, which surround it, will epsure its permanent prosperity. Its population was, according to a census taken last year, 14,200 souls, 10,000 of whom were whites. Madison county is twenty-three miles square, has been settled but ten or twelve years, and as I have been informed, raised last year 10,000 bales of cotton. Huntsville has upwards of thirty stores in it. The planters in the county have become wealthy by their own industry in a few years, in the worst of times. Though slavery is tolerated in the Alabama Territory, there are but few slaves in Madison County; their cotton is chiefly raised by the whites, which is a proof that this valuable staple of our country can be raised in abundance without the labour of slaves.

The purchase from the Chickasaw Indians, last fall, of territory sufficient for six counties as large as Madison, each, which lies on both sides of Tennessee river, about the Muscle Shoals, opens another great field for enterprising people of all descriptions. This extensive body of land lies within Alabama Territory. The trade, not only of the north part of our territory will pass into the waters of Mobile, but East Tennessee too will find it her interest to turn her trade into the same channel.

The navigation of the Muscle Shoals is dangerous, and New Orleans too remote for reciprocal dealing, to advantage. Considerable merchandise has already passed into Huntsville, by way of Mobile, and the falls of the Blackwarrior, on much better terms than by the former routes.

Considering the great extent of the territory of Alabama—the vast bodies of fertile lands every few months coming into market, the principal part of which will be purchased at two dollars per acre, in a country too, which is congenial to the culture of one of the most valuable staples the planter can raise-privileged with three noble rivers, of extensive, easy and safe navigation-blessed also with one of the most delightful climates in the world—where the delicious products of the vine and olive are about to flow in abundance within its borders- I say, with all these privileges and luxurious bounties of nature, which are not mere creatures of fancy, but substantial realities, who is not ready to exclaim that the Alabama is an American Canaan! Respectfully, your most obedient.



The Arkansas Post, 25th March, 1817. It would be too formidable a task to attempt to give you extracts from my notes on the Ohio, the Mississippi, the river Volt, the St. Francis, and the White river, which afford no position suitable for a large settlement; but from what I have myself seen here, and from every information which I receive, I feel assured that I shall find on the borders of this river all that we can desire. The higher you ascend the long river Arkansas, the VOL. IV.


more picturesque and fertile is the country, particularly that part of it lying on the right bank, which belongs to the Indians, who feel the greatest attachment for the French, and the strongest desire that they would form a settlement near them; styling them their Great Fathers, and character. ising them by the remark that they are as good as Indians. It is confidently asserted that government is at this moment negociating the purchase of a considerable portion of this immense territory, which has only two or three hundred families for sovereigns, legitimate proprietors of a country extending three hundred miles in length, and two hundred in breadth. If this purchase should be made, it might be practicable, after baving obtained the left bank, to induce a cession of the right also, which would be very advantageous. I have been obliged to remain at the Post of the Arkansas, on account of the rising of the river, and the difficulty of procuring a light boat to ascend in; but this week's delay has not been lost. I have visited a great proportion of the lands situated between W bite river, the St. Francis and the Arkansas, and have seen immense prairies. The largest is nearly one hundred miles in circumference, its soil of middling quality. The smaller, which is a Spanish cession pot yet confirmed, would be extremely desirable for any one who could stock it with two thousand head of cattle, but would not be suitable for a colony. Nearly all the inhabitants of the Arkansas post and its environs, are French; many of them very amiable and sociable. All unite in wishing for us as neighbours, unless it be a few who live by hunting and trading; but the greater part bave given up this mode of life for the cultivation of the land. More than one hundred families have within very few years, established themselves here as squatters at one hundred and fifty, two hundred, and even three hundred miles from this post, on the beautiful banks of the Arkansas. There the lands are of an admirable fertility for the production of cotton, tobacco, indigo, rice, maize, vines, fruits, and vegetables. This is, without doubt, the most beautiful and agreeable part of the United States, both in point of temperature of climate and fertility of soil. Nothing is wanting in this delightful portion of your happy country, but useful and industrious hands, and intelligent heads to render it the most flourishing of your immense possessions. All the riches of nature abound in profusion. The mountains contain nitre, allum, salt, vitriol, lead, copper, iron, silver, limestone, mill stone quarries, fuller's earth, chrystal, good clay for delft ware, and sand for glassware.

Vegetation is gigantic; the cypress, the cedar, the white oak, the plum tree, the cherry, the sassafras, the mulberry for silk worm, and above all, the indigenous olive flourish here. I do not know if this beautiful tree, which rises to the height of one hundred feet, and whose fruit I have seen, will produce oil equal to that of Provence; but I am confident it will answer well for the manufacturing of soap, the tanning of leather, for burning, &c. &c. I believe this discovery is my own, and that it will be a va. luable acquisition to the country. I think, also, that the olive of Europe would most assuredly succeed here. Madder, indigo, pecoon, fit for dying red, the yellow tree, the guin tree, which yields a rosin higbly aromatic, the lemon tree, which produces an excellent lemon, &c. all flourish here with care or culture. I cannot enumerate all the varieties of the vine, among which are the prune grape, which the Indians call Focco, the mountain grape, ripe in June, the red, the white, the black, the violet, &c.This, my dear sir, is the vast and natural nursery of Bacchus.

I have devised a very simple and economical mode of speedily obtaining good grapes from the wild vines. It is to cut down an adjacent tree, on which I incline the vine, taking care not to injure its stem, removing all uppecessary foilage from around it to free it from shade, and pruning it on the prostrate tree, wbich serves as a prop for it. There are large districts in which almost every tree supports two or three enormous vines. Your northern country is the Arabia Petræa of America; and your vegetation stunted when compared with this. Here are many trees growing more than two hundred feet high. What a beautiful country, if it could be secured from inundation! I tire every one I meet with my questions, and every day I learn something new and useful. My zeal and ardour do not abate; too happy if my privations and exertions prove beneficial to my companions in misfortune.

A manufactory of shamois leather, and a tannery establishment here, would speedily insure an independence. Fine baffalo skins, whose hair would make excellent matrasses, &c., could be purchased at seventy-five cents each. A cruel war is carried on against these poor animals, solely for their fat. The flesh is more delicate than that of our best oxen. Fish are caught, game killed, and wild fruits procured without difficulty: and vegetables of every kind succeed well.

I have left the advance guard of the colony on the banks of the Ohio. The patriarch *****, abandons his retreat tu accompany us. The inhabitants of New Madrid and those of this post, wish to sit down beside us; but I do not think that we ought to make a very extensive purchase, unless we were assured of obtaining from government a protracted term for payment. Good cultivation will afford greater profits than speculating on the re-sale of the land, on account of the great extent of country to be sold on the borders of the Arkansas, when the surveying of it shall be completed.

A mail has been established this year between this post and St. Louis, and another is much wished for from bence to Washita: but it is absolutely necessary that there should be a warehouse at the mouth of the river, on the banks of the Mississippi, for the loading and unloading of steam boats and sloops, and the housing of merchandize, &c. A Frenchman, resident here, who is warmly attached to the interests of the Arkansas settlement, has in contemplation to undertake this establishment on the Indian territory. You may go down from this to New Orleans in ten or twelve days; thirty-five or forty are necessary for the ascent in a keel boat. I have never seen any river whose navigation is cqual to that of the Arkansas. It can be ascended in a loaded boat at the rate of three hundred miles in twelve days. With scarcely any other expense than that of horses, there might be relays established on the banks, by which means boats might be drawn up as fast as the mail travels. The shallows are hard bottom, wide, and naturally kept clear by the current. There are neither rapids nor dangerous rocks. The river is as beautiful as the Seine, and only wants a Rouen or a Paris in miniature. I find myself left to complete my operation alone. Five months have I been wandering in the woods, and do not think I shall have completed my researches before the middle of May. It is not enough merely to cast the eye over a vast territory; it is necessary to explore and examine it; to compare one part with another, and note all its advantages. The society have required of me a salubrious climate, a fertile soil, and navigable water. This desirable union is not easily found assembled; but I feel, however, confident of meeting with them on the banks of this river, if my health and strength do but continue. I assure you that I encounter much fatigue and many thorns. I have just written to general ***** to urge him to come and pass the summer on the delightful Arkansas mountains, and escape from mosquitoes and the yellow fever. Every one enjoys health here.

« ForrigeFortsæt »