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Voyage of The Paper Canoe by N. H. Bishop

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"EDITOR CAMDEN SPY: According to
promise, I now write you a little about Delaware.
Persons in your vicinity look upon the 'Little
Diamond State' as a mere bog, or marsh, and
mud and water they suppose are its chief
productions; but, in my opinion, it is one of the
finest little states in the Union. Although small,
in proportion to the size it produces more grain
and fruit than any other state in the country, and
they are unexcelled as regards quality and flavor.
Crime is kept in awe by that best of institutions,
the whipping post and pillory! These are the
bugbear of all the northern newspapers, and
they can say nothing too harsh or severe against
them. The whipping-post in Kent County is
situated in the yard of the jail, and is about six
feet in height and three feet in circumference; the
prisoner is fastened to it by means of bracelets,
or arms, on the wrist; and the sheriff executes
the sentence of the law by baring the convict to
the waist, and on the bare back lashing him
twenty, forty, or sixty times, according to the
sentence. But the blood does not run in streams
from the prisoner's back, nor is he thrown into a
barrel of brine, and salt sprinkled over the lashes.
On the contrary, I have seen them laugh, and
coolly remark that 'it's good exercise, and gives
us an appetite.' But there are others who raise
the devil's own row with their yells and horrible
cries of pain. The whipping is public, and is
witnessed each time by large numbers of people
who come from miles around to see the culprit

"A public whipping occurred not very long
ago, and the day was very stormy, yet there
were fully three hundred spectators on the ground
to witness this wholesome punishment! A
person who has been lashed at the whipping-post
cannot vote again in this state; thus, most of the
criminals who are whipped leave the state in
order to regain their citizenship. The newspapers
can blow until they are tired about this 'horrible,
barbaric, and unchristian punishment,' but if their
own states would adopt this form of punishment,
they would find crime continually on the
decrease. What is imprisonment for a few months
or years? It is soon over with; and then they
are again let out upon the community, to beg,
borrow, and steal. But to be publicly whipped
is an everlasting disgrace, and deters men from
committing wrong. Women are whipped in the
same manner, and they take it very hard; but, to
my recollection, there has not been a female
prisoner for some time. I did not intend to
comment so long upon the whipping-posts in the
state of Delaware.

"The pillory next claims our attention. This
is a long piece of board that runs through the
whipping-post at the top, and has holes [as per
engraving] for the neck and arms to rest in a
very constrained position. The prisoner is
compelled to stand on his toes for an hour with his
neck and arms in the holes, and if he sinks from
exhaustion, as it sometimes happens, the neck is
instantly broken. Josiah Ward, the villain who
escaped punishment for the murder of the man
Wady in your county, came into Delaware,
broke into a shoe-store, succeeded in stealing one
pair of shoes, -- was arrested, got sixty lashes at
the post, was made to stand in the pillory one
hour, is now serving out a term of two years'
imprisonment, -- and he never got the shoes!
The pillory is certainly a terrible and cruel
punishment, and, while I heartily favor the
whipping-post, I think this savage punishment should be

"Since writing the above, I have heard that a
colored woman was convicted of murder in the
second degree last May, and on Saturday the
17th of that month received sixty lashes on her
bare back, and stood in the pillory one hour.

"What do you think of Delaware law, after
what I have written? I have written enough
for the present, so I will close, ever remaining,
Yours very truly, P. P."

For twenty years past, Delaware and
Maryland farmers have given much attention to peach
culture, which has gradually declined in New
Jersey and states further north. There are said
to be over sixty thousand acres of land on the
peninsula planted with peach-trees, which are
estimated to be worth fifty dollars per acre, or
three million dollars. To harvest this crop
requires at least twenty-five thousand men, women,
and children. The planting of an acre of
peach-trees, and its cultivation to maturity, costs from
thirty to forty dollars. The canners take a large
portion of the best peaches, which are shipped
to foreign as well as to domestic markets.

The low lands and river-shores of the
peninsula exhale malaria which attacks the inhabitants
in a mild form of ague. During the spring,
summer, and early fall months, a prudent man
will not expose himself to the air until after
the sun has risen and dispelled the mists of
morning. The same caution should be observed
all through the low regions of the south, both
as to morning and evening exercise. Chills and
fever are the bane of the southern and middle
states, as this disease affects the health and
elastic vigor of the constitution, and also
produces great mental depression. Yet those who
suffer, even on every alternate day, from chills,
seem to accept the malaria as nothing of much
importance; though it is a well-known fact that
this form of intermittent fever so reduces the
strength, that the system is unable to cope with
other and more dangerous diseases for which it
paves the way.

Upon a little creek, tributary to St. Martin's
River, and near its confluence with the Isle of
Wight Bay, a long day's pull from the swamp of
Love Creek, was the old plantation home of a
friend of my boyhood, Mr. Taylor, who about
this time was looking out for the arrival of the
paper canoe. It was a question whether I could
descend Love Creek three miles, cross Rehoboth
and Indian River sounds, ascend White's Creek,
make a portage to Little Assawaman Bay, thread
the thoroughfare west of Fenwick's Island Light,
cross the Isle of Wight Bay, ascend and cross St.
Martin's River to Turval's Creek, and reach the
home of my friend, all in one day. But I
determined to attempt the task. Mr. Webb roused his
family at an early hour, and I rowed down Love
Creek and crossed the shallow waters of
Rehoboth Bay in the early part of the day.

From Cape Henlopen, following the general
contour of the coast, to Cape Charles at the
northern entrance of Chesapeake Bay, is a
distance of one hundred and thirty-six miles; from
Cape Charles across the mouth of Chesapeake
Bay to Cape Henry is thirteen miles; from
Henlopen south, the state of Delaware occupies
about twenty miles of the coast; the eastern
shore of Maryland holds between thirty and
forty miles, while the eastern shore of Virginia,
represented by the counties of Accomac and
Northampton, covers the peninsula to Cape

Commencing at Rehoboth Bay, a small boat
may follow the interior waters to the Chesapeake
Bay. The watercourses of this coast are
protected from the rough waves of the ocean by
long, narrow, sandy islands, known as beaches,
between which the tides enter. These passages
from the sea to the interior waters are called
inlets, and most of them are navigable for
coasting vessels of light draught. These inlets are so
influenced by the action of storms, and their
shores and locations are so changed by them,
that the cattle may graze to-day in tranquil
happiness where only a generation ago the old skipper
navigated his craft. During June of the year
1821 a fierce gale opened Sandy Point Inlet with
a foot depth of water, but it closed in 1831.
Green Point Inlet was cut through the beach
during a gale in 1837, and was closed up seven
years later. Old Sinepuxent Inlet, which was
forced open by the sea more than sixty years
ago, closed in 1831. These three inlets were
within a space of three miles, and were all north
of Chincoteague village. Green Run Inlet,
which had a depth of about six feet of water for
nearly ten years, also closed after shifting half a
mile to the south of its original location. The
tendency of inlets on this coast is to shift to the
southward, as do the inlets on the coast of New

Oystermen, fishermen, and farmers live along
the upland, and in some cases on the island
beaches. From these bays, timber, firewood,
grain, and oysters are shipped to northern ports.
The people are everywhere kind and hospitable
to strangers. A mild climate, cheap and easily
worked soils, wild-fowl shooting, fine oysters and
fishing privileges, offer inducements to
Northerners and Europeans to settle in this country;
the mild form of ague which exists in most
of its localities being the only objection. While
debating this point with a native, he attacked my
argument by saying:

"Law sakes! don't folks die of something,
any way? If you don't have fever 'n' ague round
Massachusetts, you've got an awful lot of things
we hain't got here -- a tarnashun sight wuss ones,
too; sich as cumsempsun, brown-critters, mental
spinageetis, lung-disease, and all sorts of
brownkill disorders. Besides, you have such awful
cold winters that a farmer has to stay holed four
months out of the year, while we folks in the
south can work most of the time out of doors.
I'll be dog-goned if I hadn't ruther live here in
poverty than die up north a-rolling in riches.
Now, stranger, as to what you said about
sickness, why we aren't no circumstance to you
fellows up north. Why, your hull country is
chuckfull of pizenous remedies. When I was a-coasting
along Yankeedom and went ashore, I found
all the rocks along the road were jist kivered
with quack-medicine notices, and all the farmers
hired out the outsides of their barns to advertise
doctor's stuff on."

In no portion of America do the people seem
to feel the burden of earning a livelihood more
lightly. They get a great deal of social
enjoyment out of life at very little cost, and place
much less value on the "mighty dollar" than do
their brother farmers of the northern section of
the states. The interesting inquiry of "Who was
his father?" commences at Philadelphia, and its
importance intensifies as you travel southward.
Old family associations have great weight among
all classes.

It was six miles from the mouth of Love Creek
across the little sound to Burton's marshy island
at the entrance of Indian River Sound. Indian
River supplies its bay with much of its fresh
water, and the small inlet in the beach of the
same name with the salt water of the ocean.
Large flocks of geese and ducks were seen upon
the quiet waters of the sound. Pursuing my
southward course across Indian River Sound
three miles, I entered a small creek with a wide
mouth, which flows north from the cedar swamp,
known as White's Creek, which I ascended until
the stream became so narrow that it seemed
almost lost in the wilderness, when suddenly
an opening in the forest showed me a clearing
with the little buildings of a farm scattered
around. It was the home of a Methodist
exhorter, Mr. Silas J. Betts. I told him how
anxious I was to make a quick portage to the
nearest southern water, Little Assawaman Bay,
not much more than three miles distant by road.

After calmly examining my boat, he said: "It
is now half-past eleven o'clock. Wife has dinner
about ready. I'll hurry her up a little, and while
she is putting it on the table we will get the cart
ready." The cart was soon loaded with pine
needles as a bed for the canoe. We lashed her
into a firm position with cords, and went in to

In a short time after, we were rattling over a
level, wooded country diversified here and there
by a little farm. The shallow bay, the east side
of which was separated from the ocean by sandy
hills, was bounded by marshes. We drove close
to the water and put the Maria Theresa once
more into her true element. A friendly shake
of the hand as I paid the conscientious man his
charge of one dollar for his services, with many
thanks for his hospitality, for which he would
accept nothing -- and the canoe was off, threading
the narrow and very shallow channel-way of this
grassy-bottomed bay.

The tall tower of Fenwick's Island Light,
located on the boundary line of Delaware and
Maryland, was now my landmark. It rises out
of the low land that forms a barrier against
which the sea breaks. The people on the coast
pronounce Fenwick "Phoenix." Phoenix Island,
they say, was once a part of the mainland, but a
woman, wishing to keep her cattle from
straying, gave a man a shirt for digging a narrow
ditch between Little and Great Assawaman
bays. The tide ebbed and flowed so strongly
through this new channel-way that it was worn
to more than a hundred feet in width, and has
at high tide a depth in places of from ten to
fifteen feet of water. The opening of this new
thoroughfare so diminished the flow of water
through the Little Assawaman Inlet to the sea,
that it became closed. The water was almost
fresh here, as the nearest inlet which admits salt
water at high tide is at Chincoteague Island,
some fifty miles distant.

Passing to the west of the light-house through
this passage, I thought of what a woman could
do, and almost expected to hear from the rippling
waters the "Song of the Shirt," which would
have been in this case a much more cheerful
one than Hood's. I now entered Great
Assawaman Bay, the waters of which lay like a
mirror before me; and nearly five miles away, to the
southwestern end, the tall forests of the Isle of
Wight loomed up against the setting sun. Ducks
rose in flocks from the quiet waters as my canoe
glided into their close vicinity. If I could have
taken less cargo, I should have carried a light
gun; but this being impossible, a pocket
revolver was my only fire-arm: so the ducks and
other wild-fowl along my route had reason to
hold the paper canoe in grateful remembrance.

Upon reaching the shores of the Isle of Wight
I entered the mouth of St. Martin's River, which
is, at its confluence with Isle of Wight Bay, more
than two miles wide. I did not then possess the
fine Coast Chart No.28, or the General Chart
of the Coast, No.4, with the topography of the
land clearly delineated, and showing every man's
farm-buildings, fields, landings, &c., so plainly
located as to make it easy for even a novice to
navigate these bays. Now, being chartless so
far as these waters were concerned, I peered
about in the deepening twilight for my friend's
plantation buildings, which I knew were not far
off; but the gloomy forests of pine upon the
upland opened not the desired vista I so longed
to find.

Crossing the wide river, I came upon a long
point of salt-marsh, which I hoped might be
Keyser's Point, for I knew that to the west of
this point I should find Turval's Creek. While
rowing along the marsh I came upon two
duck-shooters in their punt, but so enveloped were
they in the mist that it was impossible to do
more than define their forms. I, however,
ventured a question as to my locality, when, to my
utter astonishment, there came back to me in
clear accents my own name. Never before had
it sounded so sweet to my ears. It was the
voice of my friend, who with a companion
was occupied in removing from the water the
flock of decoys which they had been
guarding since sunrise. Joyful was the unexpected

We rowed around Keyser's Point, and up
Turval's Creek, a couple of miles to the plantation
landing. There, upon the old estate in the little
family burial-ground, slept, "each in his narrow
cell," the children of four generations. Our
conversation before the blazing wood-fire that night
related to the ground travelled over during the day,
a course of about thirty-five miles. Mr. Taylor's
father mentioned that a friend, during one week
in the previous September, had taken upon his
hook, while fishing from the marshes of
Rehoboth Bay, five hundred rock-fish, some of which
weighed twenty pounds. The oysters in
Rehoboth and Indian River bays had died out,
probably from the decrease in the amount of
salt water now entering them. A delightful
week was spent with my friends at Winchester
Plantation, when the falling of the mercury
warned me to hurry southward.

On Wednesday, November 25, I descended
the plantation creek and rowed out of St.
Martin's River into the Bay. My course southward
led me past "the Hommack," an Indian mound
of oyster-shells, which rises about seven feet
above the marsh on the west side of the entrance
to Sinepuxent bay, and where the mainland
approaches to within eight hundred feet of the
beach. This point, which divides the Isle of
Wight Bay from Sinepuxent, is the terminus of
the Wicomico and Pocomoke Railroad, which
has been extended from Berlin eastwardly seven
miles. A short ferry conveys the passengers
across the water to a narrow island beach, which
is considered by Bayard Taylor, the author, the
finest beach he has ever visited. This new
watering-place is called Ocean City; and my
friend, B. Jones Taylor, was treasurer of the
company which was engaged in making the
much-desired improvements. The shallow bays
in the vicinity of Ocean City offer safe and
pleasant sailing-grounds. The summer fishing
consists chiefly of white perch, striped bass, sheep's-head,
weak-fish, and drum. In the fall, bluefish
are caught. All of these, with oysters, soft
crabs, and diamond-backed terrapin, offer
tempting dishes to the epicure. This recently isolated
shore is now within direct railroad
communication with Philadelphia and New York, and can
be reached in nine hours from the former, and
in twelve hours from the latter city.

From the Hommack to South Point is included
the length of Sinepuxent Bay, according to Coast
Survey authority. From South Point to below
the middle of Chincoteague Island the bay is
put down as "Assateague," though the oystermen
do not call it by that name. The celebrated
oyster-beds of the people of Chincoteague
commence about twenty miles south of the
Hornmack. There are two kinds of oysters shipped
from Chincoteague Inlet to New York and
other markets. One is the long native plant
the other, that transplanted from Chesapeake
Bay: this bivalve is rounded in form, and the
most prized of the two. The average width of
Sinepuxent was only a mile. When I turned
westwardly around South Point, and entered
Assateague Bay, the watery expanse widened,
between the marshes on the west and the
sandy-beach island on the east, to over four miles.

The debouchure of Newport Creek is to the
west of South Point. The marshes here are
very wide. I ascended it in the afternoon to
visit Dr. F. J. Purnell, whose attempts to
introduce the pinnated grouse and California
partridges on his plantation had attracted the
attention of Mr. Charles Hallock, editor of "Forest
and Stream"; and I had promised him, if
possible, to investigate the matter. This South Point
of Sinepuxent Neck is a place of historical
interest, it being now asserted that it is the
burial place of Edward Whalley, the regicide.

Early in 1875, Mr. Robert P. Robins found in a
bundle of old family documents a paper containing
interesting statements written by his great-great-grandfather,
Thomas Robins, 3d, of South Point,
Worcester County, Maryland, and dated July 8,
1769. We gather from this reliable source that
Edward Whalley left Connecticut and arrived in
Virginia in 1618, and was there met by a portion
of his family. From Virginia he travelled to
the "province of Maryland, and settled first at
ye mouth of ye Pokemoke River; and finding
yt too publick a place he came to Sinepuxent, a
neck of land open to ye Atlantic Ocean, where
Colonel Stephen was surveying and bought a
tract of land from him and called it Genezar; it
contained two thousand two hundred acres, south
end of Sinepuxent; and made a settlement on ye
southern extremity, and called it South Point; to
ye which place he brought his family about 1687,
in ye name of Edward Middleton. His own name
he made not publick until after this date, after ye
revolution in England, (in ye year of our Lord
1688,) when he let his name be seen in publick
papers, and had ye lands patented in his own

The writer of the above quotation was the
great-grandson of Edward Whalley (alias Edward
Middleton), the celebrated regicide.

Four miles from South Point I struck the
marshes which skirted Dr. Purnell's large
plantation, and pushing the canoe up a narrow branch
of the creek, I waded through the partially
submerged herbage to the firm ground, where the
doctor was awaiting me. His house was close
at hand, within the hospitable walls of which I
passed the night. Dr. Purnell has an estate of
one thousand five hundred acres, lying along the
banks of Newport Creek. Since the civil war it
has been worked by tenants. Much of it is
woodland and salt-marshes. Five years before
my visit, a Philadelphian sent the doctor a few
pairs of prairie-chickens, and a covey of both the
valley and the mountain partridge. I am now
using popular terms. The grouse were from a
western state; the partridges had been obtained
from California. The partridges were kept caged
for several weeks and were then set at liberty.
They soon disappeared in the woods, with the
exception of a single pair, which returned daily
to the kitchen-door of a farm tenant to obtain
food. These two birds nested in the garden
close to the house, and reared a fine brood of
young; but the whole covey wandered away, and
were afterwards heard from but once. They
had crossed to the opposite side of Newport
Creek, and were probably shot by gunners.

The prairie-chickens adapted themselves to
their new home in a satisfactory manner, and
became very tame. Their nests, well filled with
eggs, were found along the rail-fences of the fields
in the close vicinity of the marshes, for which
level tracts they seemed to have strong
attachment. They multiplied rapidly, and visited the
cattle-pens and barn-yards of the plantation.

The Maryland legislature passed a law to
protect all grouse introduced into the state; but a
new danger threatened these unfortunate birds.
A crew of New Jersey terrapin-hunters entered
Chincoteague Inlet, and searched the ditches and
little creeks of the salt-marshes for the
"diamondbacks." While thus engaged, the gentle grouse,
feeding quietly in the vicinity, attracted their
attention, and they at once bagged most of them.
A tenant on the estate informed me that he had
seen eighteen birds in a cornfield a few days
before -- the remnant of the stock.

The Ruffled Grouse (Bonasa umbellas), so
abundant in New Jersey, is not a resident of the
peninsula. Dr. Purnell's first experiment with
the Pinnated Grouse (Cupidonia cupido) has
encouraged others to bring the ruffled grouse to
the eastern shore of Maryland. That
unapproachable songster of the south, the American
Mocking-bird (Mimus polyglottus), is becoming
scarce in this region, from the inroads made by
bird-catchers who ship the young to northern
cities. This delightful chorister is only an
accidental visitor in the New England states.
Indeed as far south as Ocean County, New Jersey,
I saw but one of these birds, in a residence of
nine years on my cranberry plantations; though I
have heard that their nests are occasionally found
about Cape May, at the extreme southern end of
New Jersey.

My time being limited, I could enjoy the
doctor's hospitality for but one night. The next
morning the whole family, with tenants both
black and white, assisted me to embark. By
dusk I had crossed the division line of two states,
and had entered Virginia near the head of
Chincoteague Island, a locality of peculiar interest to
the student of American character. The
ebb-tide had left but little water around the rough pier
abreast of the town, and heaps of oyster-shells
rose from the mud flats and threatened the
safety of my canoe. I looked up through the
darkness to the light pier-head above me, and
called for assistance. Two men leaned over to
inquire, "What's the row now, stranger? " To
which I replied, "I wish to land a light boat on
your pier; and as it is made of paper, it should
be carefully handled." For a moment the
oystermen observed a silence, and then, without one
word of explanation, disappeared. I heard their
heavy boots tramping up the quay towards the
tavern. Soon a low murmur arose on the night
air, then hoarse shouts, and there came
thundering down the wharf an army of men and boys.
"Pass her up, stranger!" they cried. "Here,
give us your bow and starn painters, and jest
step overboard yourself, and we'll hist her up."
Some of the motley crew caught me by the
shoulders, others "histed away," and the canoe
and its captain were laid roughly upon the

There was a rush to feel of the paper shell.
Many were convinced that there was no humbug
about it; so, with a great shout, some of the men
tossed it upon their shoulders, while the rest
seized upon the miscellaneous cargo, and a rush
was made for the hotel, leaving me to follow at
discretion and alone. The procession burst open
the doors of the tavern, and poured through
the entrance to a court-yard, where they laid
the boat upon a long table under a shed, and
thought they had earned "drinks." This was the
spontaneous way in which the Chincoteague
people welcomed me. "If you don't drink, stranger,
up your way, what on airth keeps your buddies
and soulds together?" queried a tall oysterman.
A lady had kindly presented me with a peck of fine
apples that very morning; so, in lieu of "drinks,"
I distributed the fruit among them. They joked
and questioned me, and all were merry save one
bilious-looking individual, not dressed, like the
others, in an oysterman's garb, but wearing, to
use a term of the place, "store clothes."

After the crowd had settled in the bar-room,
at cards, &c., this doubting Thomas remained
beside the boat, carefully examining her. Soon
he was scraping her hull below the gunwale,
where the muddy water of the bay had left a
thin coat of sediment which was now dry. The
man's countenance lighted up as he pulled the
bartender aside and said, "Look ahere;
I tell you that boat looked as if she was made to
carry on a deck of a vessel, and to be a-shoved off
into the water at night jest abreast of a town to
make fools of folks, and git them to believe that
that fellow had a-rowed all the way ahere?
Now see, here is dust, dry dust on her hull.
She ahain't ben in the water mor'n ten minutes,
I sware," It required but a moment's
investigation of my Chincoteague audience to discover
that the dust was mud from the tide, and the
doubter brought down the ridicule of his more
discriminating neighbors upon him, and slunk
away amid their jeers.

Of all this community of watermen but one
could be found that night who had threaded the
interior watercourses as far as Cape Charles, and
he was the youngest of the lot. Taking out my
note-book, I jotted down his amusing directions.
"Look out for Cat Creek below Four Mouths,"
he said; "you'll catch it round there." "Yes,"
broke in several voices, "Cat Creek's an awful
place unless you run through on a full ebb-tide.
Oyster boats always has a time a-shoving through
Cat Creek," &c.

After the council with my Chincoteague
friends had ended, the route to be travelled the
next day was in my mental vision "as clear as
mud." The inhabitants of this island are not all
oystermen, for many find occupation and profit
in raising ponies upon the beach of Assateague,
where the wild, coarse grass furnishes them a
livelihood. These hardy little animals are called
"Marsh Tackies," and are found at intervals
along the beaches down to the sea-islands of the
Carolinas. They hold at Chincoteague an annual
fair, to which all the "pony-penners," as they
are called, bring their surplus animals to sell.
The average price is about ninety dollars for a
good beast, though some have sold for two
hundred and fifty dollars. All these horses are sold
in a semi-wild and unbroken state.

The following morning Mr. J. L. Caulk,
ex-collector of the oyster port, and about fifty
persons, escorted me to the landing, and sent me
away with a hearty "Good luck to ye."

It was three miles and three quarters to the
southern end of the island, which has an inlet
from the ocean upon each side of that end -- the
northern one being Assateague, the southern one
Chincoteague Inlet. Fortunately, I crossed the
latter in smooth water to Ballast Narrows in
the marshes, and soon reached Four Mouths,
where I found five mouths of thoroughfares, and
became perplexed, for had not the pilots of
Chincoteague called this interesting display of
mouths "Four Mouths"? I clung to the authority
of local knowledge, however, and was soon in a
labyrinth of creeks which ended in the marshes
near the beach.

Returning over the course, I once more faced
the four, or five mouths rather, and taking a new
departure by entering the next mouth to the one
I had so unsatisfactorily explored, soon entered
Rogue's Bay, across which could be seen the
entrance to Cat Creek, where I was to
experience the difficulties predicted by my Chincoteague
friends. Cat Creek furnished at half tide
sufficient water for my canoe, and not the
slightest difficulty was experienced in getting through
it. The oystermen had in their minds their own
sloop-rigged oyster-boats when they discoursed
to me about the hard passage of Cat Creek.
They had not considered the fact that my craft
drew only five inches of water.

Cat Creek took me quite down to the beach,
where, through an inlet, the dark-blue ocean,
sparkling in its white caps, came pleasantly into
view. Another inlet was to be crossed, and
again I was favored with smooth water. This
was Assawaman Inlet, which divided the beach
into two islands -- Wallops on the north, and
Assawaman on the south.

It seemed a singular fact that the two
Assawaman bays are forty-five miles to the north of an
inlet of the same name. In following the creeks
through the marshes between Assawaman Island
and the mainland, I crossed another shoal bay,
and another inlet opened in the beach, through
which the ocean was again seen. This last was
Gargathy Inlet. Before reaching it, as night was
coming on, I turned up a thoroughfare and rowed
some distance to the mainland, where I found
lodgings with a hospitable farmer, Mr. Martin R.
Kelly. At daybreak I crossed Gargathy Inlet.

It was now Saturday, November 28; and being
encouraged by the successful crossing of the
inlets in my tiny craft, I pushed on to try the less
inviting one at the end of Matomkin Island.
Fine weather favored me, and I pushed across
the strong tide that swept through this inlet
without shipping a sea. Assawaman and
Gargathy are constantly shifting their channels. At
times there will be six feet of water, and again
they will shoal to two feet. Matomkin, also, is
not to be relied on. Every northeaster will shift
a buoy placed in the channels of these three
inlets, so they are not buoyed.

Watchapreague Inlet, to the south of the three
last named, is less changeable in character, and
is also a much more dangerous inlet to cross in
rough weather. From Matoinkin Inlet the
interior thoroughfares were followed inside of Cedar
Island, when darkness forced me to seek shelter
with Captain William F. Burton, whose
comfortable home was on the shore of the mainland,
about five miles from Watchapreague Inlet.
Here I was kindly invited to spend Sunday.
Captain Burton told me much of interest, and
among other things mentioned the fact that
during one August, a few years before my visit, a
large lobster was taken on a fish-hook in
Watchapreague Inlet, and that a smaller one was
captured in the same manner during the summer
of 1874.

Monday was a gusty day. My canoe scraped
its keel upon the shoals as I dodged the broken
oyster reefs, called here "oyster rocks," while on
the passage down to Watchapreague Inlet. The
tide was very low, but the water deepened as
the beach was approached. A northeaster was
blowing freshly, and I was looking for a lee
under the beach, when suddenly the canoe shot
around a sandy point, and was tugging for life in
the rough waters of the inlet. The tide was
running in from the sea with the force of a rapid,
and the short, quick puffs of wind tossed the
waves wildly. It was useless to attempt to turn
the canoe back to the beach in such rough water,
but, intent on keeping the boat above the caps, I
gave her all the momentum that muscular power
could exert, as she was headed for the southern
point of the beach, across the dangerous inlet.

Though it was only half a mile across, the
passage of Watchapreague taxed me severely.
Waves washed over my canoe, but the gallant
little craft after each rebuff rose like a bird to
the surface of the water, answering the slightest
touch of my oar better than the best-trained
steed. After entering the south-side swash, the
wind struck me on the back, and seas came
tumbling over and around the boat, fairly forcing me
on to the beach. As we flew along, the
tumultuous waters made my head swim; so, to
prevent mental confusion, I kept my eyes only upon
the oars, which, strange to say, never betrayed
me into a false stroke.

As a heavy blast beat down the raging sea for
a moment, I looked over my shoulder and
beheld the low, sandy dunes of the southern shore
of the inlet close at hand, and with a severe jolt
the canoe grounded high on the strand. I
leaped out and drew my precious craft away
from the tide, breathing a prayer of thankfulness
for my escape from danger, and mentally vowing
that the canoe should cross all other treacherous
inlets in a fisherman's sloop. I went into camp
in a hollow of the beach, where the sand-hills
protected me from the piercing wind. All that
afternoon I watched from my burrow in the
ground the raging of the elements, and towards
evening was pleased to note a general subsidence
of wind and sea.

The canoe was again put into the water and
the thoroughfare followed southward for a mile
or two, when the short day ended, leaving me
beside a marshy island, which was fringed with
an oyster-bed of sharp-beaked bivalves.
Stepping overboard in the mud and water, the oars
and paddle were laid upon the shell reef to
protect the canoe, which was dragged on to the
marsh. It grew colder as the wind died out.
The marsh was wet, and no fire-wood could be
found. The canvas cover was removed, the cargo
was piled up on a platform of oars and shells to
secure it from the next tide, and then I slowly
and laboriously packed myself away in the narrow
shell for the night. The canvas deck-cover
was buttoned in its place, a rubber blanket
covered the cockpit, and I tried to sleep and dream
that I was not a sardine, nor securely confined in
some inhospitable vault. It was impossible to
turn over without unbuttoning one side of the
deck-cover and going through contortions that
would have done credit to a first-class acrobat.
For the first time in my life I found it necessary
to get out of bed in order to turn over in it.

At midnight, mallards (Anas boschas) came
close to the marsh. The soft whagh of the
drake, which is not in this species blessed with
the loud quack of the female bird, sufficiently
established the identity of the duck. Then
muskrats, and the oyster-eating coon, came
round, no doubt scenting my provisions. Brisk
raps from my knuckles on the inside shell of the
canoe astonished these animals and aroused their
curiosity, for they annoyed me until daybreak.

When I emerged from my narrow bed, the
frosty air struck my cheeks, and the cold, wet
marsh chilled my feet. It was the delay at
Watchapreague Inlet that had lodged me on this
inhospitable marsh; so, trying to exercise my
poor stock of patience, I completed my toilet,
shaking in my wet shoes. The icy water, into
which I stepped ankle-deep in order to launch
my canoe, reminded me that this wintry morning
was in fact the first day of December, and that
stormy Hatteras, south of which was to be found
a milder climate, was still a long way off.

The brisk row along Paramore's Island (called
Palmer's by the natives) to the wide, bay-like
entrance of Little Machipongo Inlet, restored
warmth to my benumbed limbs. This wide
doorway of the ocean permitted me to cross its
west portal in peace, for the day was calm.
From Little to Great Machipongo Inlet the
beach is called Hog Island. The inside
thoroughfare is bounded on the west by Rogue's
Island, out of the flats of which rose a solitary
house. At the southern end of Hog Island
there is a small store on a creek, and near the
beach a light-house, while a little inland is
located, within a forest of pines, a small

At noon, Great Machipongo Inlet was crossed
without danger, and Cobb's Island was skirted
several miles to Sand Shoal Inlet, near which
the hotel of the three Cobb brothers rose
cheerfully out of the dreary waste of sands and
marshes. The father of the present proprietors
came to this island more than thirty years ago,
and took possession of this domain, which had
been thrown up by the action of the ocean's
waves. He refused an offer of one hundred
thousand dollars for the island. The locality is
one of the best on this coast for wild-fowl
shooting. Sand Shoal Inlet, at the southern end of
Cobb's Island, has a depth of twelve feet of
water on its bar at low tide.

In company with the regular row-boat ferry I
crossed, the next day, the broad bay to the
mainland eight miles distant, where the canoe was
put upon a cart and taken across the peninsula
five miles to Cherrystone, the only point near
Cape Charles at which a Norfolk steamer stopped
for passengers. It was fully forty miles across
Chesapeake Bay from Cherrystone Landing to
Norfolk, and it was imperative to make the
portage from this place instead of from Cape Charles,
which, though more than fifteen miles further
south, and nearer to my starting-point on the
other side, did not possess facilities for
transportation. The slow one-horse conveyance arrived
at Cherrystone half an hour after the steamer
N. P. Banks had left the landing, though I
heard that the kind-hearted captain, being told
I was coming, waited and whistled for me till
his patience was exhausted.

The only house at the head of the pier was
owned by Mr. J. P. Powers, and fortunately
offered hotel accommodations. Here I remained
until the next trip of the boat, December 4.
Arriving in Norfolk at dusk of the same day, I
stored my canoe in the warehouse of the Old
Dominion Steamship Company, and quietly
retired to a hotel which promised an early meal
in the morning, congratulating myself the while
that I had avoided the usual show of curiosity
tendered to canoeists at city piers, and above all
had escaped the inevitable reporter. Alas! my
thankfulness came too soon; for when about to
retire, my name was called, and a veritable
reporter from the Norfolk Landmark cut off
my retreat.

"Only a few words," he pleadingly
whispered. "I've been hunting for you all over the
city since seven o'clock, and it is near midnight

He gently took my arm and politely furnished
me with a chair. Then placing his own directly
before me, he insinuatingly worked upon me
until he derived a knowledge of the log of the
Paper Canoe, when leaning back in his chair he
leisurely surveyed me and exclaimed:

"Mr. Bishop, you are a man of snap. We
like men of snap; we admire men of snap;
in fact, I may say we cotton to men of snap, and
I am proud to make your acquaintance. Now
if you will stop over a day we will have the
whole city out to see your boat."

This kind offer I firmly refused, and we were
about to part, when he said in a softly rebuking

"You thought, Mr. Bishop, you would give us
the slip -- did you not? I assure you that would
be quite impossible. Eternal Vigilance is our
motto. No, you could not escape us. Good
evening, sir, and the 'Landmark's' welcome to

Six hours later, as I entered the restaurant of
the hotel with my eyes half open, a newsboy
bawled out in the darkness: "'Ere's the
Landmark.' Full account of the Paper Canoe," &c.
And before the sun was up I had read a column
and a half of "The Arrival of the Solitary
Voyager in Norfolk." So much for the zeal of Mr.
Perkins of the "Landmark," a worthy example
of American newspaper enterprise. Dreading
further attentions, I now prepared to beat a hasty
retreat from the city.



On Saturday morning, December 5, I left the
pier of the Old Dominion Steamship
Company, at Norfolk, Virginia, and, rowing across the
water towards Portsmouth, commenced
ascending Elizabeth River, which is here wide and
affected by tidal change. The old navy yard,
with its dismantled hulks lying at anchor in the
stream, occupies both banks of the river. About
six miles from Norfolk the entrance to the
Dismal Swamp Canal is reached, on the left bank
of the river. This old canal runs through the
Great Dismal Swamp, and affords passage for
steamers and light-draught vessels to Elizabeth
City, on the Pasquotank River, which empties
into Albemarle Sound to the southward. The
great cypress and juniper timber is penetrated by
this canal, and schooners are towed into the
swamp to landings where their cargoes are

In the interior of the Dismal Swamp is
Drummond's Lake, named after its discoverer. It is
seven miles long by five miles wide, and is the
feeder of the canal. A branch canal connects it
with the main canal; and small vessels may
traverse the lake in search of timber and shingles.
Voyagers tell me that during heavy gales of
wind a terrible sea is set in motion upon this
shoal sheet of water, making it dangerous to
navigate. Bears are found in the fastnesses of
the swamp. The Dismal Swamp Canal was dug
in the old days of the wheelbarrow and spade.

The Albemarle and Chesapeake Canal, the
entrance to which is sixteen miles from Norfolk,
on the right or east bank of the Elizabeth River,
and generally known as the "new canal," was
commenced about the year 1856, and finished in
1859. It is eight miles and a half in length,
and connects the Elizabeth and North Landing
rivers. This canal was dug by dredging-machines.
It is kept in a much better state for
navigation, so far as the depth of water is
concerned, than the old canal, which from
inattention is gradually shoaling in places; consequently
the regular steam-packets which ply between
Elizabeth City and Norfolk, as well as steamers
whose destinations are further north, have given
up the use of the Dismal Swamp Canal, and
now go round through Albemarle Sound up the
North River, thence by a six-mile cut into
Currituck Sound, up North Landing River, and
through the new canal to the Elizabeth River
and into Chesapeake Bay. The shores of the
Elizabeth are low and are fringed by sedgy
marshes, while forests of second-growth pine
present a green background to the eye. A few
miles above Norfolk the cultivation of land
ceases, and the canoeist traverses a wilderness.

About noon I arrived at the locks of the
Albemarle and Chesapeake Canal. The telegraph
operator greeted me with the news that the
company's agent in Norfolk had telegraphed to the
lock-master to pass the paper canoe through with
the freedom of the canal -- the first honor of the
kind that had fallen to my lot. The tide rises
and falls at the locks in the river about three feet
and a half. When I passed through, the
difference in the level between the ends of the locks
did not reach two feet. The old lock-master
urged me to give up the journey at once, as I
never could "get through the Sounds with that
little boat." When I told him I was on my
second thousand miles of canoe navigation since
leaving Quebec, he drew a long breath and
gave a low groan.

When once through the canal-gates, you are
in a heavy cypress swamp. The dredgings
thrown upon the banks have raised the edge of
the swamp to seven feet above the water. Little
pines grow along these shores, and among them
the small birds, now on their southern migrations,
sported and sang. Whenever a steamer or
tugboat passed me, it crowded the canoe close to
the bank; but these vessels travel along the
canal at so slow a rate, that no trouble is
experienced by the canoeist from the disturbance
caused by their revolving screws. Freedmen,
poling flats loaded with shingles or frame stuff,
roared out their merry songs as they passed.
The canal entered the North Landing River
without any lockage; just beyond was North
Landing, from which the river takes its name.
A store and evidences of a settlement meet the
eye at a little distance. The river is tortuous,
and soon leaves the swamp behind. The pine
forest is succeeded by marshes on both sides of
the slow-flowing current.

Three miles from North Landing a single
miniature house is seen; then for nearly five
miles along the river not a trace of the presence
of man is to be met, until Pungo Ferry and
Landing loom up out of the low marshes on the east
side of the river. This ferry, with a store
three-quarters of a mile from the landing, and a farm
of nearly two hundred acres, is the property of
Mr. Charles N. Dudley, a southern gentleman,
who offers every inducement in his power to
northern men to settle in his vicinity. Many of
the property-holders in the uplands are willing
to sell portions of their estates to induce
northern men to come among them.

It was almost dark when I reached the
storehouse at Pungo Ferry; and as Sunday is a sacred
day with me, I determined to camp there until
Monday. A deformed negro held a lease of the
ferry, and pulled a flat back and forth across
the river by means of a chain and windlass. He
was very civil, and placed his quarters at my
disposal until I should be ready to start southward
to Currituck Sound. We lifted the canoe and
pushed it through an open window into the little
store-room, where it rested upon an unoccupied
counter. The negro went up to the loft above,
and threw down two large bundles of flags for a
bed, upon which I spread my blankets. An old
stove in a corner was soon aglow with burning
light wood. While I was cooking my supper,
the little propeller Cygnet, which runs between
Norfolk and Van Slyck's Landing, at Currituck
Narrows, touched at Pungo Ferry, and put off
an old woman who had been on a two years'
visit to her relatives. She kindly accosted the
dwarfed black with, "Charles, have you got a
match for my pipe?"
"Yes, missus," civilly responded the negro,
handing her a light.
"Well, this is good!" soliloquized the ancient
dame, as she seated herself on a box and puffed
away at the short-stemmed pipe. Ah, good
indeed to get away from city folks, with their
stuck-up manners and queer ways, a-fault-finding
when you stick your knife in your mouth in
place of your fork, and a-feeding you on China
tea in place of dear old yaupon. Charles, you
can't reckon how I longs to get a cup of good

As the reader is about entering a country
where the laboring classes draw largely upon
nature for their supply of "the cup that cheers
but not inebriates," I will describe he shrub
which produces it.

This substitute for the tea of China is a holly
(ilex), and is called by the natives "yaupon"
(I. cassine, Linn.). It is a handsome shrub,
growing a few feet in height, with alternate,
perennial, shining leaves, and bearing small scarlet
berries. It is found in the vicinity of salt water,
in the light soils of Virginia and the Carolinas.
The leaves and twigs are dried by the women,
and when ready for market are sold at one dollar
per bushel. It is not to be compared in
excellence with the tea of China, nor does it approach
in taste or good qualities the well-known
yerbamate, another species of holly, which is found
in Paraguay, and is the common drink of the
people of South America.

The old woman having gone on her way, and
we being again alone in the rude little shanty,
the good-natured freedman told me his history,
ending with, -

"O that was a glorious day for me,
When Massa Lincoln set me free."

He had too much ambition, he said, deformed as
he was, to be supported as a pauper by the
public. "I can make just about twelve dollars a
month by dis here ferry," he exclaimed. "I
don't want for nuffin'; I'se got no wife -- no
woman will hab me. I want to support myself
and live an honest man."

About seven o'clock he left me to waddle up
the road nearly a mile to a little house.

"I an' another cullo'd man live in
partnership," he said. He could not account for the
fact that I had no fear of sleeping alone in the
shanty on the marshes. He went home for the
company of his partner, as he "didn't like to
sleep alone noways."

Though the cold wind entered through broken
window-lights and under the rudely constructed
door, I slept comfortably until morning. Before
Charles had returned, my breakfast was cooked
and eaten.

With the sunshine of the morning came a
new visitor. I had made the acquaintance of
the late slave; now I received a call from the
late master. My visitor was a pleasant,
gentlemanly personage, the owner of the surrounding
acres. His large white house could be seen
from the landing, a quarter of a mile up the

"I learned that a stranger from the north was
camped here, and was expecting that he would
come up and take breakfast with me," was his
kindly way of introducing himself.

I told him I was comfortably established in
dry quarters, and did not feel justified in
forcing myself upon his hospitality while I had so
many good things of this life in my

Mr. Dudley would take no excuse, but
conducted me to his house, where I remained that
day, attending the religious services in a little
church in the vicinity. My kind host introduced
me to his neighbors, several of whom returned
with us to dinner. I found the people about
Pungo Ferry, like those I had met along the
sounds of the eastern shore of Maryland and
Virginia, very piously inclined, -- the same
kindhearted, hospitable people.

My host entertained me the next day, which
was rainy, with his life in the Confederate army,
in which he served as a lieutenant. He was a
prisoner at Johnson's Island for twenty-two
months. He bore no malice towards northern
men who came south to join with the natives in
working for the true interests of the country.
The people of the south had become weary of
political sufferings inflicted by a floating
population from the north; they needed actual settlers,
not politicians. This sentiment I found
everywhere expressed. On Tuesday I bade farewell
to my new friends, and rowed down the North
Landing River towards Currituck Sound.

The North Carolina line is only a few miles
south of the ferry. The river enters the head
of the sound six or eight miles below Pungo
Ferry. A stiff northerly breeze was blowing,
and as the river widened, on reaching the head
of the sound, to a mile or more, and bays were
to be crossed from point to point, it required
the exercise of considerable patience and
muscular exertion to keep the sea from boarding
the little craft amidship. As I was endeavoring
to weather a point, the swivel of one of the
outriggers parted at its junction with the row-lock,
and it became necessary to get under the south
point of the marshes for shelter.

The lee side offered a smooth bay. It was
but a few minutes' work to unload and haul the
canoe into the tall rushes, which afforded ample
protection against the cold wind. It was three
hours before the wind went down, when the
canoe was launched, and, propelled by the double
paddle, (always kept in reserve against accidents
to oars and row-locks,) I continued over the
waters of Currituck Sound.

Swans could now be seen in flocks of twenties
and fifties. They were exceedingly wary, not
permitting the canoe to approach within rifle
range. Clouds of ducks, and some Canada
geese, as well as brant, kept up a continuous
flutter as they rose from the surface of the water.
Away to the southeast extended the glimmering
bosom of the sound, with a few islands relieving
its monotony. The three or four houses and two
small storehouses at the landing of Currituck
Court House, which, with the brick court-house,
comprise the whole village, are situated on the
west bank; and opposite, eight miles to the
eastward, is the narrow beach island that serves as
a barrier to the ingress of the ocean.

At sunset I started the last flock of white
swans, and grounded in the shoal waters at the
landing. There is no regular hotel here, but a
kind lady, Mrs. Simmons, accommodates the
necessities of the occasional traveller. The
canoe was soon locked up in the landing-house.
Fortunately a blacksmith was found outside the
village, who promised to repair the broken
rowlock early upon the following morning. Before
a pleasant wood fire giving out its heat from a
grand old fireplace, with an agreeable visitor,
-- the physician of the place, the tediousness of
the three-hours' camp on the marshes was soon
forgotten, while the country and its resources
were fully discussed until a late hour.

Dr. Baxter had experimented in grape culture,
and gave me many interesting details in regard
to the native wine. In 1714, Lawson described
six varieties of native grapes found in North
Carolina. Our three finest varieties of native
grapes were taken from North Carolina. They
are the Scuppernong, the Catawba, and the
Isabella. The Scuppernong was found upon the
banks of the stream bearing that name, the
mouth of which is near the eastern end
of Albemarle Sound. The Catawba was originally
obtained on the Catawba River, near its head-waters
in Buncombe County. The Long Island stock
of the Isabella grape was brought to New York
by Mrs. Isabella Gibbs: hence the derivation of
the name.

Of the six varieties of North Carolina grapes,
five were found in Tyrrel County by Amadas
and Barlow. Tradition relates that these
travellers carried one small vine to Roanoke Island,
which still lives and covers an immense area of
ground. There are five varieties of the grape
growing wild on the shores of Albemarle Sound,
all of which are called Scuppernong, -- the
legitimate Scuppernong being a white grape, sweet
and large, and producing a wine said to resemble
somewhat in its luscious flavor the Malmsey
made on Mount Ida, in Candia.

The repairing of the outrigger detained me
until nearly noon of the next day, when the
canoe was got under way; but upon rowing off
the mouth of Coanjock Bay, only four miles from
Currituck Court House, a strong tempest arose
from the south, and observing an old
gentleman standing upon Bell Island Point, near his
cottage, beckoning me to come ashore, I obeyed,
and took refuge with my new acquaintance,
Captain Peter L. Tatum, proprietor of Bell Island.

"The war has left us without servants," said
the captain, as he presented me to his wife, "so
we make the best of it, and if you will accept
our hospitality we will make you comfortable."

Captain Tatum drew my attention to the flocks
of swans which dotted the waters in the offing,
and said: "It is hard work to get hold of a swan,
though they are a large bird, and abundant in
Currituck Sound. You must use a good rifle
to bring one down. After a strong norther has
been blowing, and the birds have worked well
into the bight of the bay, near Goose Castle Point,
if the wind shifts to the south suddenly, gunners
approach from the outside, and the birds
becoming cramped in the cove are shot as they rise
against the wind."

More than forty years ago old Currituck Inlet
closed, and the oysters on the natural beds, which
extended up North Landing River to Green
Point, were killed by the freshening of the
water. Now winds influence the tides which
enter at Oregon Inlet, about fifty-five miles
south of the Court House. The difference
between the highest and lowest tide at Currituck
Court House is three feet. The sound is filled
with sandy shoals, with here and there spots of
mud. The shells of the defunct oysters are
everywhere found mixed with the debris of the
bottom of the sound. This is a favorite locality
with northern sportsmen. The best "gunning
points," as is the case in Chesapeake Bay, are
owned by private parties, and cannot be used
by the public.

Thursday, the 10th of December, was cold,
and proved as tempestuous as the previous day;
but the wind had changed to the north, and I
embarked amid a swashy beam-sea, with the
hope of reaching Van Slyck's Landing at
Currituck Narrows. The norther, however, proved
too much for my safety. My course would be
easterly until I had passed the mouth of
Coanjock Bay and Goose Castle Point, then following
the trend of the west shore southerly down the
sound; but the wind raised such a rough sea
that I was obliged to turn southward into
Coanjock Bay, ascend it five miles, and seek for a
crossing-place overland to the sound again,
which I found near the entrance of the
lockless canal that is used by steamers to pass from
North Landing River to North River and
Albemarle Sound.

A fire was soon built, upon which I placed
long, light poles taken from the drift-wood, and
burning them in pieces of the required lengths,
(no axe being at hand,) I was prepared to make
the portage. Laying these pieces of wood on
the ground, I drew my canoe over them to the
shore of Currituck Sound; then, by making up
back-loads of the cargo, transported everything
to the point of embarkation, which was just
inside the mouth of a little creek.

The row to Currituck Narrows was not
difficult, as the north wind was a fair one. Along
the west shore of the sound there were many
little houses upon the high banks, and a
windmill supplied the place of a water-power for
grinding corn. The improvements made by Mr.
Van Slyck, of New York, were in cheering
contrast to what had been seen since leaving
Norfolk. Here a comfortable hotel welcomes the
northern sportsmen, few of whom, for lack of
accommodations and travelling conveniences, go
much south of this locality, in this state, to shoot
wild-fowl. Currituck Sound has an average
width of four miles. Its length is about
thirty-five miles. At the Narrows, a group of marshy
islands divides it into two sections, the northern
one being the longest.

The keen, cold air of the next day made
rowing a pleasant exercise. After passing through
the tortuous channel, I should have crossed to the
beach and followed it; but this part of the bay
is very shallow, and deeper water was found on
the west side. It was an enjoyable morning,
for gunners were passed, secreted behind their
"blinds," or pens, of pine brush, which looked like
little groves of conifera growing out of the shoal
water. Geese were honking and ducks were
quacking, while the deep booming of guns was
heard every few minutes. Decoy-birds were
anchored in many places near the marshes.
Every sportsman gave me a cheering word as
the canoe glided over the smooth water, while
here and there the violet-backed swallow
darted about over the marshes as though it were

When opposite Dew's Quarter Island, several
men hailed me from a newly constructed shanty.
When the oldest man in the company, who had
never seen a shell like the paper canoe, had
examined it, he shook his head ominously; and
when I told him Nag's Head must be reached
that day, he grew excited, exclaiming, "Then be
off now! now! Git across the bay under Bald
Beach as soon as ye can, and hug the shore, hug
it well clean down to Collington's, and git across
the sound afore the wind rises. Sich a boat as
that aren't fit for these here waters."

Taking this kindly meant advice, I pulled to
the east side, where there was now a good depth
of water for the canoe. On this high beach the
hills were well covered with yellow pines, many
of which were noble old trees. On a narrow
point of the shore was the comfortable house of
Hodges Gallup, the Baptist minister, a generous
old gentleman, who seemed to be loved by all
the watermen along the sound. He was
described as being "full of fun and hospitality."
His domain extended for several miles along
the beach, and, with deer quietly browsing in his
grand old woods, formed a pretty picture.

The beach shore now became more thickly
settled, while out in the water, a few rods from
each little house, arose the duck-blind, with the
gunner and his boat inside, anxiously watching
for birds, while their decoys floated quietly on
the surface of the water. A few miles below
Mr. Gallup's estate the canoe entered upon the
broad waters of Albemarle Sound, and at dusk I
approached Roanoke Island. The large
buildings of the hotels of Nag's Head on the beach
rose up as boldly to the eye as a fortification.
The little sound between Roanoke Island and
the beach was traversed at dusk as far as the first
long pier of Nag's head, upon which with great
difficulty I landed, and was soon joined by the
keeper of the now deserted summer watering
place, Mr. C. D. Rutter, who helped me to carry
my property into a room of the old hotel.

Nag's Head Beach is a most desolate locality,
with its high sand-hills, composed of fine sand,
the forms of which are constantly changing with
the action of the dry, hard, varying winds. A
new and very large hotel was located south of
the first one, and was inhabited by the family of
Captain Jasper Toler, who furnished me with
lodgings. A few fishermen have their homes on
this dreary beach, but the village, with its one
store, is a forlorn place.

The bright flashes of Body Island Light, ten
miles distant, on the north side of Oregon Inlet,
showed me my next abiding-place.

The beach from Nag's Head to Oregon Inlet
is destitute of trees, and the wind sweeps across
it, from the ocean to the sound, with great
violence, forcing the shallow waters to retire, and
leaving the bottom dry as far out as three miles.

The next day was very windy, and the long,
finger-like, sandy shoals, which extended one or
two miles out into the sound, were covered with
only from three to eight inches of water. I could
not hug the beach for protection, but was forced
to keep far out in the sound. Frequently it
became necessary to get overboard and wade,
pushing my boat before me. Then a deep channel
between the shoals would be crossed; so, by
walking and rowing in Roanoke Sound, with
the wind blowing the water over the canoe and
drenching its captain, the roundabout twelve
miles' passage to Oregon Inlet was at last
accomplished, and a most trying one it was.

Body Island Lighthouse was erected in 1872,
on the north side of Oregon Inlet, to take the
place of the old tower on the south shore. It is
in latitude 35 deg 48', and longitude 75 deg 33'.
Captain William F. Hatzel, a loyal North Carolinian,
is the principal keeper, and a most efficient one
he is.

The temperature was falling rapidly when I
crawled into the high rushes of the wet marsh
near the light-house to seek shelter from the
strong wind that was blowing. As this treeless
beach was destitute of fire-wood, or natural
shelter of any kind, necessity compelled me to have
recourse to other means for procuring them. I
carried in my pocket a talisman which must
open any light-keeper's door; from Maine to the
Rio Grande, from Southern California to Alaska,
even to the vicinity of the Arctic Circle, the
Lighthouse Establishment of the United States has
planted a tower or erected a light. While
shivering in wet clothes on this desolate beach, most
thankfully did I remember that kind and thoughtful
friend, who through his potent influence had
supplied me with this open sesame to

There resides in Washington, when not
engaged elsewhere in the important duties of the
Commission of Fisheries, a genial gentleman, an
ardent naturalist, a great scientist. To him the
young naturalists of America turn for information
and advice, and to the humblest applicant
Professor Spencer F. Baird never turns a deaf ear.
How this distinguished author can attend to so
many and such varied duties with his laborious
investigations, and can so successfully keep up a
large correspondence with perhaps one thousand
scientific associations of nearly every nation of
the universe, is a difficult thing to imagine; but
the popular and much beloved Assistant
Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, seemingly
ubiquitous in his busy life, does all this and much
more. America may well feel proud of this man
of noble nature, shedding light and truth
wheresoever he moves, encouraging alike old and
young with his kindly sympathy; -- now taking
his precious moments to answer with his own
busy hand the question in the letter of some boy
naturalist about beasts, birds, reptiles, or fishes,
with which epistles his desk is always covered;
now stimulating to further effort the old man of
science as he struggles with the cares of this
world, striving, sometimes vainly, save for this
ever ready aid, to work out patiently theories
which are soon to blaze forth as substantial facts.
The young generation of naturalists, which is
soon to fill the place of their predecessors, have
in this man the type of all they need ever strive
to attain. How many, alas, will fall far short
of it!

Since boyhood the counsels of this friend had
guided me on many a journey of exploration.
He had not deserted me even in this experiment,
which my friends called "your wildest and most
foolish undertaking." He had obtained from the
Light House Board a general letter to the
lightkeepers of the United States, signed by the
naval secretary, Mr. Walker, in which the
keepers were authorized to grant me shelter, &c.,
when necessary. I did not have occasion to use
this letter more than twice during my journey.
Having secreted my canoe in the coarse grass
of the lowland, I trudged, with my letter in hand,
over the sands to the house of the light-keeper,
Captain Hatzel, who received me cordially; and
after recording in his log-book the circumstances
and date of my arrival, conducted me into a
comfortable room, which was warmed by a
cheerful fire, and lighted up by the smiles of his
most orderly wife. Everything showed
discipline and neatness, both in the house and the
light-tower. The whitest of cloths was spread
upon the table, and covered with a well-cooked
meal; then the father, mother, and two sons,
with the stranger within their gates, thanked the
Giver of good gifts for his mercies.

Joining the night-watch of the chief
lightkeeper, I also joined in the good man's
enthusiasm for his wonderful "fixed white light," the
bright beams of which poured out upon the
surrounding waters a flood if brilliancy, gladdening
hearts far out at sea, even though twenty miles
away, and plainly saying, "This is Body Island
Beach: keep off!" How grand it was to walk
out on this gallery in the sky! Looking
eastward, a limitless expanse of ocean; gazing
westward, the waters of the great sound, the shores
of which were low marshes miles away. Below
me could be heard the soft cackle of the
snow-goose (Anser hyperboreus), which had left its
nesting-place on the barren grounds of arctic
America, and was now feeding contentedly in its
winter home in the shallow salt-ponds; which the
gentle shur-r-r- of the waves softly broke on
the strand. Above, the star-lit heavens, whose
tender beauty seemed almost within my grasp.
Perched thus upon a single shaft, on a narrow
strip of sand far out in the great water, the many
thoughts born of solitude crowded my mind,
when my reverie was abruptly broken by an
exclamation from Captain Hatzel, who threw
open the door, and exclaimed, with beaming
eyes peering into the darkness as he spoke, "I
see it! Yes, it is! Hatteras Light, thirty-five
miles away. This night, December 13th, is the
first time I have caught its flash. Tell it to the
Hatteras keeper when you visit the cape."

From Captain Hatzel I gleaned some facts of
deep interest in regard to the inhabitants of the
sound. Some of them, he told me, had Indian
blood in their veins; and to prove the truth of his
assertion he handed me a well-worn copy of the
"History of North Carolina," by Dr. Francis L.
Hawks, D. D. From this I obtained facts which
might serve for the intricate mazes of a romance.
It had been a pet scheme with Sir Walter
Raleigh to colonize the coast of North Carolina,
then known as Virginia, and though several
expeditions had been sent out for that object, each
had failed of successful issue. One of these
expeditions sent by Sir Walter to Roanoke
Island consisted of one hundred and twenty-one
persons, of whom seventeen were women and
six children. Of all these souls only two men
returned to the old country, the fate of the
remainder being unknown, and shrouded in the
gloom which always attends mystery. England
did not, however, leave her children to perish on
a barren shore in the new land without at least an
effort to succor them.

On March 20, in the year 1590, there sailed
from Plymouth three ships, the Hopewell, John
Evangelist, and Little John, taking in tow two
shallops which were afterwards lost at sea. In
these days the largest vessels of a fleet did not
exceed one hundred to one hundred and forty
tons burden. This expedition was under the
charge of Admiral John White, governor of the
colony of Sir Walter Raleigh on Roanoke Island,
and who had left the feeble band on the island
in 1587. In thirty-six days and eight hours these
small vessels arrived off "Hatorask" -- Hatteras
Beach. The fleet dropped anchor three leagues
off the beach, and sent a well-manned boat
through an inlet to Pamplico Sound.

There existed in those days passages from the
ocean through the beaches into the sounds,
which have since been filled up by the action
of the sea. Old Roanoke Inlet, now closed,
which was about four miles north of the
modern Oregon Inlet, is supposed to be the one used
by Sir Walter Raleigh's expeditions. It is only
four miles from the site of this closed inlet to
Shallowbag Bay, on Roanoke Island. At the
southern entrance of the bay, near Ballast Point,
some vessel evidently grounded and threw
overboard her stone ballast; hence the name of the
point. Captain Hatzel has examined this stone,
and gives his opinion, as an old pilot, that it is
foreign in character. He never met with similar
stones, and believes that this ballast was
deposited at Shallowbag Bay by some of the vessels
of Sir Walter's expeditions.

As the boat's crew above mentioned rowed
northward to Roanoke Island -- made famous
two hundred and seventy-two years later by
the National and Confederate struggles -- they
sounded their trumpets and sang familiar songs,
which they hoped might be borne to their
countrymen on the shore; but the marshes and
upland wilderness returned no answering voice.

At daybreak the explorers landed upon
Roanoke Island, which is twelve miles long by two
and a half wide, and found the spot where
Admiral White had left the colony in 1587.
Eagerly searching for any tokens of the lost ones, they
soon traced in the light soil of the island the
imprint of the moccasin of the savage, but
looked in vain for any footprint of civilized
man. What had become of their countrymen?

At last some one spied a conspicuous tree,
far up on a sandy bank, blazed and carved.
There were but three letters cut upon it, C.R.O.,
but these simple symbols possessed a world of
meaning. Three years before, when the sad
farewells were being spoken, and the ships were
ready to set sail for England, this feeble band, left
to struggle in the wilds of the new land with sad
forebodings of their possible fate, had agreed
upon a signal, and had promised Admiral White
that if driven to starvation upon the island, they
would plant their colony fifty miles inland, near
a tribe of friendly Indians. Indeed, before the
ships sailed for England, they were making
preparations for this move. Admiral White requested
them to carve upon a tree the name of the
locality to which they should remove, and if distress
had overtaken them they were to add a cross
over the lettering. Anxiously gathering round
this interesting relic of the lost Englishmen, the
rude chirography was eagerly scanned, but no
vestige of a cross was found.

Much relieved in mind, the little company
continued their investigations, when, farther on,
almost in their very pathway, there rose a noble
tree, pointing its top heavenward, as though to
remind them in whose care their lost ones had
been. Approaching this giant, who had stood
a silent sentinel through winter storms and
summer skies, they found he bore upon his body
a message for them. Stripped of its bark, five
feet upward from the ground there appeared
upon the bare surface in bold lettering the word
so full of hope -- Croatan; and now also, as in
the last case, without the graven cross. Cheered
by these signs, and believing that the lost
colonists had carried out their early intentions, and
were now located among the friendly tribe of
Croatans, wheresoever their country might be,
the boat's company decided to go at once to the
ships, and return the next day in search of the
lost colony.

One of the ships, in moving its position from
the unprotected anchorage-ground, parted its
cable and left an anchor on the bottom -- the
second that had been lost. The wind drove the
ships towards the beach, when a third anchor
was lowered; but it held the little fleet so
close in to the breakers, that the sailors were
forced to slip their cable and work into a
channel-way, where, in deeper water, they held their

In debating the propriety of holding on and
attempting to wear out the gale, the scarcity of
their provisions, and the possession of but one
cask of water, and only one anchor for the fleet
to ride at, decided them to go southward in quest
of some favorable landing, where water could be
found. The council held out the hope of
capturing Spanish vessels in the vicinity of the
West Indies; and it was agreed that, if
successful they should return, richly laden with spoil,
to seek their exiled countrymen. One of these
vessels returned to England, while the Admiral
laid his course for Trinidad; and this was the
last attempt made to find the colonists.

More than a century after Admiral White had
abandoned his colony, Lawson, in writing about
the Hatteras Indians, says: "They said that
several of their ancestors were white people, and
could talk in a book as we do; the truth of
which is confirmed by grey eyes being frequently
found among them, and no others. They value
themselves extremely for their affinity to the
English, and are ready to do them all friendly
offices. It is probable that the settlement
miscarried for want of supplies from England, or
through the treachery of the natives; for we
may reasonably suppose that the English were
forced to cohabit with them for relief and
conversation, and that in process of time they
conformed themselves to the manners of their
Indian relations."

Dr. Hawks thinks, "that, driven by starvation,
such as survived the famine were merged into
the tribes of friendly Indians at Croatan, and,
alas! lost ere long every vestige of Christianity
and civilization; and those who came to shed
light on the darkness of paganism, in the
mysterious providence of God ended by relapsing
themselves into the heathenism they came to
remove. It is a sad picture of poor human

It needed not the fierce gusts of wind that
howled about the tall tower, causing it to vibrate
until water would be spilled out of a pail resting
upon the floor of the lantern, blowing one day
from one quarter of the compass, and changing
the next to another, to warn me that I was near
the Cape of Storms.

Refusing to continue longer with my new
friends, the canoe was put into the water on the
16th, and Captain Hatzel's two sons proceeded
in advance with a strong boat to break a
channelway through the thin ice which had formed in
the quiet coves. We were soon out in the sound,
where the boys left me, and I rowed out of the
southern end of Roanoke and entered upon the
wide area of Pamplico Sound. To avoid shoals,
it being calm, I kept about three miles from the
beach in three feet of water, until beyond Duck
Island, when the trees on Roanoke Island slowly
sank below the horizon; then gradually drawing
in to the beach, the two clumps of trees of north
and south Chicamicomio came into view. A
life-saving station had recently been erected
north of the first grove, and there is another
fourteen miles further south. The two
Chicamicomio settlements of scattered houses are
each nearly a mile in length, and are separated
by a high, bald sand-beach of about the same
length, which was once heavily wooded; but the
wind has blown the sand into the forest and
destroyed it. A wind-mill in each village raised
its weird arms to the breeze.

Three miles further down is Kitty Midget's
Hammock, where a few red cedars and some
remains of live-oaks tell of the extensive forest
that once covered the beach. Here Captain
Abraham Hooper lives, and occupies himself in
fishing with nets in the ocean for blue-fish, which
are salted down and sent to the inland towns for
a market. I had drawn my boat into the sedge
to secure a night's shelter, when the old captain
on his rounds captured me. The change from a
bed in the damp sedge to the inside seat of the
largest fireplace I had ever beheld, was indeed
a pleasant one. Its inviting front covered almost
one side of the room. While the fire flashed up
the wide chimney, I sat inside the fireplace with
the three children of my host, and enjoyed the
genial glow which arose from the fragments of
the wreck of a vessel which had pounded
herself to death upon the strand near Kitty Midget's
Hammock. How curiously those white-haired
children watched the man who had come so far
in a paper boat! "Why did not the paper boat
soak to pieces?" they asked. Each explanation
seemed but to puzzle them the more; and I
found myself in much the same condition of
mind when trying to make some discoveries
concerning Kitty Midget. She must, however,
have lived somewhere on Clark's Beach long
before the present proprietor was born. We
spent the next day fishing with nets in the surf
for blue-fish, it being about the last day of
their stay in that vicinity. They go south as
far as Cape Hatteras, and then disappear in deep
water; while the great flocks of gulls, that
accompany them to gather the remnants of fish
they scatter in their savage meals, rise in the air
and fly rapidly away in search of other dainties.

On Thursday I set out for Cape Hatteras.
The old sailor's song, that -

"Hatteras has a blow in store
For those who pass her howling door,"

has far more truth than poetry in it. Before
proceeding far the wind blew a tempest, when a
young fisherman in his sailboat bore down upon
me, and begged me to come on board. We
attempted to tow the canoe astern, but she filled
with water, which obliged us to take her on
board. As we flew along before the wind,
dashing over the shoals with mad-cap temerity,
I discovered that my new acquaintance, Burnett,
was a most daring as well as reckless sailor.
He told me how he had capsized his father's
schooner by carrying sail too long. "This 'ere
slow way of doing things" he detested. His
recital was characteristic of the man.

"You see, sir, we was bound for Newbern
up the Neuse River, and as we were well into
the sound with all sail set, and travelling along
lively, daddy says, 'Lorenzo, I reckon a little
yaupon wouldn't hurt me, so I'll go below and
start a firs under the kittle.' Do as you likes,
daddy,' sez I. So down below he goes, and I
takes command of the schooner. A big black
squall soon come over Cape Hatteras from the
Gulf Stream, and it did look like a screecher.
Now, I thought, old woman, I'll make your sides
ache; so I pinted her at it, and afore I could luff
her up in the wind, the squall kreened her on to
her beam-ends. You'd a laughed to have split
yourself, mister, if you could have seen daddy
a-crawling out of the companion-way while the
water was a-running down stairs like a crick.
Says he, ruther hurriedly, 'Sonny, what's up?'
It isn't what's up, daddy; but what's down,'
sez I; it sort o' looks as if we had capsized.'
Sure 'nuff,' answered dad, as the ballast shifted
and the schooner rolled over keel uppermost.
We floundered about like porpoises, but managed
to get astride her backbone, when dad looked
kind of scornfully at me, and burst out with,
'Sonny, do you call yourself a keerful sailor?'
'Keerful enough, dad,' sez I, 'for a smart one.
It's more credit to a man to drive his vessel like
a sailor, than to be crawling and bobbing along
like a diamond-backed terrapin.' Now, stranger,
if you'll believe me, that keerful old father of
mine would never let me take the helum again,
so I sticks to my aunt at the cape."

I found that the boat in which we were sailing
was a dug-out, made from two immense cypress
logs. Larger boats than this are made of three
logs, and smaller ones are dug out of one.

Burnett told me that frame boats were so easily
pounded to pieces on the shoals, that dug-outs
were preferred -- being very durable. We soon
passed the hamlet of North Kinnakeet, then
Scarsborough with its low houses, then South
Kinnakeet with its two wind-mills, and after
these arose a sterile, bald beach with Hatteras
light-tower piercing the sky, and west of it
Hatteras woods and marshes. We approached the
low shore and ascended a little creek, where
we left our boats, and repaired to the cottage
of Burnett's aunt.

After the barren shores I had passed, this
little house, imbedded in living green, was like
a bright star in a dark night. It was hidden
away in a heavy thicket of live-oaks and cedars,
and surrounded by yaupons, the bright red
berries of which glistened against the light green
leaves. An old woman stood in the doorway
with a kindly greeting for her "wild boy,"
rejoicing the while that he had "got back to his
old aunty once more."

"Yes, aunty," said my friend Lorenzo, "I am
back again like a bad penny, but not
empty-handed; for as soon as our season's catch of
blue-fish is sold, old aunty will have sixty or
seventy dollars."

"He has a good heart, if he is so head-strong,"
whispered the motherly woman, as she wiped a
tear from her eyes, and gazed with pride upon
the manly-looking young fellow, and -- invited
us in to tea -- YAUPON.



Cape Hatteras is the apex of a
triangle. It is the easternmost part of the
state of North Carolina, and it extends farther
into the ocean than any Atlantic cape of the
United States. It presents a low, broad, sandy
point to the sea, and for several miles beyond it,
in the ocean, are the dangerous Diamond Shoals,
the dread of the mariner.

The Gulf Stream, with its river-like current
of water flowing northward from the Gulf of
Mexico, in its oscillations from east to west
frequently approaches to within eighteen or twenty
miles of the cape, filling a large area of

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